He had now gained the extremity of the bridge, with Ellen Halloway and Wacousta close in his rear, when suddenly the heads of many men were once more distinguishable, even in the shadow of the arch that overhung the sands of the river. Three individuals detached themselves from the group and leaping upon the further extremity of the bridge, moved rapidly to meet him. Meanwhile the baronet had stopped suddenly, as if in doubt whether to advance or to recede. His suspense was but momentary. Although the persons of these men were disguised as Indian warriors, the broad moonlight that beamed full on their countenances, disclosed the well-remembered features of Blessington, Erskine, and Charles de Haldimar. The latter sprang before his companions, and, uttering a cry of joy, sank in speechless agony on the neck of his still unconscious sister.
“For God’s sake, free me, De Haldimar!” exclaimed the excited baronet, disengaging his charge from the embrace of his friend. This is no moment for congratulation. Erskine, Blessington, see you not who is behind me? Be upon your guard; defend your lives!” And as he spoke, he rushed forward with” feint and tottering steps to place his companions between the unhappy girl and the danger that threatened her.
The swords of the officers were drawn; but instead of advancing upon the formidable being, who stood as if paralysed at this unexpected rencontre, the two seniors contented themselves with assuming a defensive attitude,—retiring slowly and gradually towards the other extremity of the bridge.
Overcome by his emotion, Charles de Haldimar had not noticed this action of his companions, and stood apparently riveted to the spot. The voice of Blessington calling on him by name to retire, seemed to arouse the dormant consciousness of the unhappy maniac. She uttered a piercing shriek, and, springing forward, sank on her knees at his feet, exclaiming, as she forcibly detained him by his dress,—
“Almighty Heaven! where am I? surely that was Captain Blessington’s kind voice I heard; and you—you are Charles de Haldimar. Oh! save my husband; plead for him with your father!——but no,” she continued wildly,—“he is dead—he is murdered! Behold these hands all covered with his blood! Oh!——”
“Ha! another De Haldimar!” exclaimed Wacousta, recovering his slumbering energies, “this spot seems indeed fated for our meeting. More than thrice have I been balked of my just revenge, but now will I secure it. Thus, Ellen, do I avenge your husband’s and my nephew’s death. My own wrongs demand another sacrifice. But, ha! where is she? where is Clara? where is my bride?”