Two hours had elapsed—the General and superior officers had retired; and the Indians, few by few had repaired to their several encampments, except a party of young warriors, who, wrapped in their blankets and mantles, lay indolently extended on the grass, smoking their pipes, or producing wild sounds from their melancholy flutes. Not far from these, sat, with their legs overhanging the edge of the steep bank, a group of the junior officers of the garrison, who, with that indifference which characterized their years, were occupied in casting pebbles into the river, and watching the bubbles that arose to the surface. Among the number was Henry Grantham, and, at a short distance from him, sat the old but athletic negro, Sambo, who, not having been required to accompany Gerald, to whom he was especially attached, had continued to linger on the bank long after his anxious eye had lost sight of the boat in which the latter had departed. While thus engaged, a new direction was given to the interest of all parties, by a peculiar cry, which reached them from a distance over the water, apparently from beyond the near extremity of the Island of Bois Blanc. To the officers the sound was unintelligible, for it was the first of the kind they had ever heard, but the young Indians appeared fully to understand its import. Starting from their lethargy, they sprang abruptly to their feet, and giving a sharp answering yell, stamped upon the green turf, and snuffed the hot air, with distended nostrils, like so many wild horses let loose upon the desert. Nor was the excitement confined to these, for, all along the line of encampment, the same wild notes were echoed, and forms came bounding again to the front, until the bank was once more peopled with savages.
“What was the meaning of that cry, Sambo, and whence came it?” asked Henry Grantham, who, as well as his companions, had strained their eyes in every direction, but in vain, to discover its cause.
“Dat a calp cry, Massa Henry—see he dere a canoe not bigger nor a hick’ry nut,” and he pointed with his finger to what in fact had the appearance of being little larger; “I wish,” he pursued with bitterness, “dey bring him calp of dem billians Desborough—Dam him lying tief to hell.”
“Bravo!” exclaimed De Courcy, who, in common with his companions, recollecting Gerald’s story of the preceding day, was at no loss to understand why the latter epithet had been so emphatically bestowed; “I see (winking to Henry Grantham) you have not yet forgiven his paddling round the gun boat the other night, while you and the rest of the crew were asleep, eh, Sambo?