With the defeat of the British army, and the death of Tecumseh, perished the last hope of the Indians to sustain themselves as a people against the inroads of their oppressors. Dispirited and dismayed, they retired back upon the hunting grounds which still remained to them, and there gave way both to the deep grief with which every heart was overwhelmed at the loss of their truly great leader, and to the sad anticipations which the increasing gloom that clouded the horizon of their prospects naturally induced.
The interview so fatal in its results to Gerald’s long formed resolutions of virtuous purpose was followed by others of the same description, and in the course of these, Matilda, profiting by her knowledge of the past, had the address so to rivet the chains which fettered the senses of her lover, by a well timed, although apparently unintentional display of the beauty which had enslaved him, that so far from shrinking from the fulfilment of the dreadful obligation he had imposed upon himself, the resolution of the youth became more confirmed as the period for its enactment drew nigher. There were moments when, his passion worked up to intensity by the ever-varying, over-exciting picture of that beauty would have anticipated the condition on which he was to become possessed of it for ever, but on these occasions the American would assume an air of wounded dignity, sometimes of deep sorrow; and alluding to the manner in which her former confidence had been repaid, reproach him with a want of generosity, in seeking to make her past weakness a pretext for his present advances. Yet even in the very moment she most denied him, she so contrived that the restrained fire should burn with tenfold fury within his heart—rendering him hourly more anxious for her possession, even as he became hourly less fastidious about the means of attainment.
At length the day arrived when Gerald—the once high, generous and noble minded Gerald,—was to steep his soul in guilt—to imbrue his hands in the life blood of a fellow creature. The seducer of Matilda had arrived, and even in the hotel in which Grantham resided, the entertainment was to be given by his approving fellow citizens, in commemoration of the heroism which had won to him golden opinions from every class. It had already been arranged that the assassination was to take place on the departure of their victim from the banquet, and consequently at a moment when, overcome by the fumes of wine, he would be found incapable of opposing any serious resistance to their design. The better to facilitate his close and unperceived approach to the unhappy man, a pair of cloth shoes had been made for her lover by the white hands of Matilda, with a sort of hood or capuchin of the same material, to prevent recognition by any one who might accidentally pass him on the way to the scene of the contemplated murder. Much as Gerald objected to it, Matilda had peremptorily insisted on being present herself, to witness the execution of the deed, and the same description of disguise had been prepared for herself. In this resolution the American, independently of her desire to fortify the courage of her lover by her presence, was actuated by another powerful and fearful motive, which will be seen presently.