As she concluded this last sentence in passionate appeal, she had risen from her knees; and, conscious only of the importance of the boon solicited, now threw herself upon the breast of the highly pained and agitated young officer. Her long and beautiful hair fell floating over his face, and mingled with his own, while her arms were wildly clasped around him, in all the energy of frantic and hopeless adjuration.
“Almighty God!” exclaimed the agitated young man, as he made a feeble and fruitless effort to raise the form of the unhappy woman; “what shall I say to impart comfort to this suffering being? Oh, Mrs. Halloway,” he pursued, “I would willingly give all I possess in this world to be the means of saving your unfortunate husband,—and as much for his own sake as for yours would I do this; but, alas! I have not the power. Do not think I speak without conviction. My father has just been with me, and I have pleaded the cause of your husband with an earnestness I should scarcely have used had my own life been at stake. But all my entreaties have been in vain. He is obstinate in the belief my brother’s strange absence, and Donellan’s death, are attributable only to the treason of Halloway. Still there is a hope. A detachment is to leave the fort within the hour, and Halloway is to accompany them. It may be, my father intends this measure only with a view to terrify him into a confession of guilt; and that he deems it politic to make him undergo all the fearful preliminaries without carrying the sentence itself into effect.”
The unfortunate woman said no more. When she raised her heaving chest from that of the young officer, her eyes, though red and shrunk to half their usual size with weeping, were tearless; but on her countenance there was an expression of wild woe, infinitely more distressing to behold, in consequence of the almost unnatural check so suddenly imposed upon her feelings. She tottered, rather than walked, through the group of officers, who gave way on either hand to let her pass; and rejecting all assistance from the women who had followed into the room, and who now, in obedience to another signal from Captain Blessington, hastened to her support, finally gained the door, and quitted the apartment.
The sun was high in the meridian, as the second detachment, commanded by Colonel de Haldimar in person, issued from the fort of Detroit. It was that soft and hazy season, peculiar to the bland and beautiful autumns of Canada, when the golden light of Heaven seems as if transmitted through a veil of tissue, and all of animate and inanimate nature, expanding and fructifying beneath its fostering influence, breathes the most delicious languor and voluptuous repose. It was one of those still, calm, warm, and genial days, which in those regions come under the vulgar designation of the Indian summer; a season that is ever hailed