Bitter were the feelings of Henry Grantham, as thus he gazed upon his sleeping brother. Fain would he have persuaded himself, that the effect he now witnessed was an isolated instance, and occurring only under the peculiar circumstances of the moment. It was impossible to recal the manner in which he had demanded “wine,” from their faithful old servant and friend, and not feel satisfied, that the tone proclaimed him one who had been in the frequent habit of repeating that demand, as the prepared, yet painful manner of the black, indicated a sense of having been too frequently called upon to administer to it. Alas, thought the heart-stricken Henry, can it really be, that he whom I have cherished in my heart of hearts, with more than brother’s love has thus fallen? Has Gerald, formerly as remarkable for sobriety, as for every honorable principle, acquired even during the months I have so wretchedly mourned his absence, the fearful propensities of the drunkard. The bare idea overpowered him, and with difficulty restraining his tears, he rose from his seat, and paced the room for some time, in a state of indescribable agitation. Then again he stopped, and when he looked in the sleeping face of his unconscious brother, he was more than ever struck by the strange change which had been wrought in his appearance. Finding that Gerald still slept profoundly, he took the resolution of instantly questioning Sambo, as to all that had befallen them during their absence, and ascertaining, if possible, to what circumstance the mystery which perplexed him was attributable. Opening and reclosing the door with caution, he hastened to the room, which, owing to his years and long and faithful services, had been set apart for the accommodation of the old man when on shore. Here he found Sambo, who had dispatched his substantial meal, busily occupied in drying his master’s wet dress, before a large blazing wood fire—and laying out, with, the same view, certain papers, the contents of a pocket book, which had been completely saturated with water. A ray of satisfaction lighted the dark, but intelligent face of the negro, which the instant before, had worn an expression of suffering, as the young officer, pressing his hand with warmth, thanked him deeply and fervently, for the noble, almost superhuman exertions he had made that day, to preserve his brother’s life.
“Oh Massa Henry,” was all the poor creature could say in reply, as he retained the pressure with an emphasis that spoke his profound attachment to both. Then leaning his white head upon his hand against the chimney, and bursting into tears; “berry much change, he poor broder Geral, he not a same at all.”
Here was a sad opening indeed to the subject. The heart of the youth sank within him, yet feeling the necessity of knowing all connected with his brother’s unhappiness, he succeeded in drawing the old man into conversation, and finally into a narration of all their adventures, as far, at least, as he had personal knowledge, from the moment of their leaving Detroit in the preceding autumn.