Both parties proceeded at the same moment to execute the two distinct orders of their chief. The Canadian was now firmly secured in the grasp of the two men who had given evidence against him, when, seeing all the horror of the summary and dreadful fate that awaited him, he confessed the individual who had fired had been sitting with him the instant previously, but that he knew no more of him than of any other savage occasionally calling at the Fleur de lis. He added, that on discharging the rifle he had bounded across the palings of the orchard, and fled in the direction of the forest. He denied, on interrogation, all knowledge or belief of an enemy waiting in ambush; stating, moreover, even the individual in question had not been aware of the sortie of the detachment until apprised of their near approach by the heavy sound of the gun-carriages.
“Here are undeniable proofs of the man’s villany, sir,” said the adjutant, returning from the hut and exhibiting objects of new and fearful interest to the governor. “This hat and rope I found secreted in one of the bed-rooms of the auberge. The first is evidently Donellan’s; and from the hook attached to the latter, I apprehend it to be the same stated to have been used by Captain de Haldimar in crossing the ditch.”
The governor took the hat and rope from the hands of his subordinate, examined them attentively, and after a few moments of deep musing, during which his countenance underwent several rapid though scarcely perceptible changes, turned suddenly and eagerly to the soldier who had first convicted the Canadian in his falsehood, and demanded if he had seen enough of the man who had fired to be able to give even a general description of his person.
“Why yes, your Honour, I think I can; for the fellow stood long enough after firing his piece, for a painter to have taken him off from head to foot. He was a taller and larger man by far than our biggest grenadier, and that is poor Harry Donellan, as your Honour knows. But as for his dress, though I could see it all, I scarcely can tell how to describe it. All I know is, he was covered with smoked deer-skin, in some such fashion as the great chief Ponteac, only, instead of having his head bare and shaved, he wore a strange outlandish sort of a hat, covered over with wild birds’ feathers in front.”
“Enough,” interrupted the governor, motioning the man to silence; then, in an undertone to himself,—“By Heaven, the very same.” A shade of disappointment, not unmingled with suppressed alarm, passed rapidly across his brow; it was but momentary. “Captain Blessington,” he ordered quickly and impatiently, “search the hut and grounds for this lurking Indian, who is, no doubt, secreted in the neighbourhood. Quick, quick, sir; there is no time to be lost.” Then in an angry and intimidating tone to the Canadian, who had already dropped on his knees, supplicating mercy, and vociferating his innocence in the same breath,