Leaving the lost Gerald for a time to all the horrors of his position, in which it would be difficult to say whether remorse or passion (each intensest of its kind) predominated, let us return to the scene where we first introduced him to the reader, and take a review of the Military events passing in that quarter.
After the defeat of the British columns at Sandusky, so far from any renewed attempt being made to interrupt the enemy in his strong holds, it became a question whether the position on the Michigan frontier could be much longer preserved. To the perseverance and promptitude of the Americans, in bringing new armies into the field, we have already had occasion to allude; but there was another quarter in which their strength had insensibly gathered, until it eventually assumed an aspect that carried apprehension to every heart. Since the loss of their flotilla at Detroit, in the preceding year, the Americans had commenced with vigour to equip one at Buffalo, which, in number and weight of metal, was intended to surpass the naval force on Lake Erie; and so silently and cautiously had they accomplished this task, that it was scarcely known at Amherstburg that a squadron was in the course of preparation, when that squadron (to which had been added the schooner captured from Gerald Grantham the preceding autumn) suddenly appeared off the harbour, defying their enemies to the combat. But the English vessels were in no condition to cope with so powerful an enemy, and although many a gallant spirit burned to be led against those who so evidently taunted them, the safety of the Garrisons depended too much on the issue, for that issue to be lightly tempted.
But misfortune was now beginning to overcast the hitherto fair prospects of the British arms in the Western District of the Canadas; and what the taunts of an enemy, triumphing in the consciousness of a superior numerical force, could not effect, an imperative and miserably provided for necessity eventually compelled. Maintaining as we did a large body of wild and reckless warriors, together with their families, it may be naturally supposed the excesses of these people were not few; but it would have required one to have seen, to have believed, the prodigal waste of which they were often guilty. Acknowledging no other law than their own will, following no other line of conduct than that suggested by their own caprice, they had as little respect for the property of the Canadian inhabitant as they would have entertained for that of the American enemy. And hence it resulted, that if an Indian preferred a piece of fresh, to the salted meat daily issued from the Commissariat, nothing was more common than for him to kill the first head of cattle he found grazing on the skirt of the forest; secure the small portion he wanted; and leave the remainder to serve as carrion to the birds of prey of the country.