The apron was at length replaced. Tom Fluke took the helm, and his companion departed, as he said, to have a comfortable snooze.
Gerald, who had been an amused listener of the preceding dialogue, soon followed, first inquiring into the condition of his faithful Sambo, who, on examination, was found to have been stunned by the violence of the blow he had received. This, Gerald doubted not, had been given with the view of better facilitating Desborough’s escape, by throwing the schooner out of her course, and occasioning a consequent confusion among the crew, which might have the effect of distracting their attention, for a time, from himself.
The following evening, an armed schooner was lying at anchor in the roadstead of Buffalo, at the southern extremity of Lake Erie, and within a mile of the American shore. It was past midnight—and although the lake was calm and unbroken as the face of a mirror, a dense fog had arisen which prevented objects at the head of the vessel from being seen from the stern. Two men only were visible upon the after deck; the one lay reclining upon an arm chest, muffled up in a dread-nought pea jacket, the other paced up and down hurriedly, and with an air of deep pre-occupation. At intervals he would stop and lean over the gang-way, apparently endeavouring to pierce through the fog and catch a glimpse of the adjacent shore, and, on these occasions, a profound sigh would burst from his chest. Then again he would resume his rapid walk, with the air of one who has resolved to conquer a weakness, and substitute determination in its stead. Altogether his manner was that of a man ill at ease from his own thoughts.
“Sambo,” he at length exclaimed, addressing the man in the pea jacket for the first time, “I shall retire to my cabin, but fail not to call me an hour before day-break. Our friends being all landed, there can be nothing further to detain us here, we will therefore make the best of our way back to Amherstburg in the morning,”
“Yes, Massa Geral,” returned the negro, yawning and half raising his brawny form from his rude couch with one hand, while he rubbed his heavy eyes with the knuckles of the other.
“How is your head tonight?” inquired the officer in a kind tone.
“Berry well, Massa Geral—but berry sleepy.”
“Then sleep, Sambo; but do not fail to awaken me in time: we shall weigh anchor the very first thing in the morning, provided the fog does not continue. By the bye, you superintended the landing of the baggage—was every thing sent ashore?”
“All, Massa Geral, I see him all pack in e wagon, for e Bubbalo town—all, except dis here I find in Miss Mungummery cabin under e pillow.”
As he spoke, the negro quitted his half recumbent position, and drew from his breast a small clasped pocket book, on a steel entablature adorning the cover of which, were the initials of the young lady just named.