The morning of the next day dawned on few who had pressed their customary couches—on none, whose feverish pulse and bloodshot eye failed to attest the utter sleeplessness in which the night had been passed. Numerous groups of men were to be seep assembling after the reveille, in various parts of the barrack square—those who had borne a part in the recent expedition commingling with those who had not, and recounting to the latter, with mournful look and voice, the circumstances connected with the bereavement of their universally lamented officer. As none, however, had seen the blow struck that deprived him of life, although each had heard the frantic exclamations of a voice that had been recognised for Ellen Halloway’s, much of the marvellous was necessarily mixed up with truth in their narrative,—some positively affirming Mr. de Haldimar had not once quitted his party, and declaring that nothing short of a supernatural agency could have transported him unnoticed to the fatal spot, where, in their advance, they had beheld him murdered. The singular appearance of Ellen Halloway also, at that moment, on the very bridge on which she had pronounced her curse on the family of De Haldimar, and in company with the terrible and mysterious being who had borne her off in triumph on that occasion to the forest, and under circumstances calculated to excite the most superstitious impressions, was not without its weight in determining their rude speculations; and all concurred in opinion, that the death of the unfortunate young officer was a judgment on their colonel for the little mercy he had extended to the noble-hearted Halloway.
Then followed allusion to their captive, whose gigantic stature and efforts at escape, tremendous even as the latter were, were duly exaggerated by each, with the very laudable view of claiming a proportionate share of credit for his own individual exertions; and many and various were the opinions expressed as to the manner of death he should be made to suffer. Among the most conspicuous of the orators were those with whom our readers have already made slight acquaintance in our account of the sortie by Captain Erskine’s company for the recovery of the supposed body of Frederick de Haldimar. One was for impaling him alive, and setting him up to rot on the platform above the gate. Another for blowing him from the muzzle of a twenty-four pounder, into the centre of the first band of Indians that approached the fort, that thus perceiving they had lost the strength and sinew of their cunning war, they might be the more easily induced to propose terms of peace. A third was of opinion he ought to be chained to the top of the flag-staff, as a target, to be shot at with arrows only, contriving never to touch a mortal part. A fourth would have had him tied naked over the sharp spikes that constituted the chevaux-de-frize garnishing the sides of the drawbridge. Each devised some new death—proposed some new torture; but all were of opinion, that simply