Before daybreak on the following morning, the poor old negro, whom no living danger could daunt, had given but too alarming evidence that his reason was utterly alienated. His ravings were wild and fearful, and nothing could remove from his mind that the face he had beheld was that of the once terrible Wacousta—the same face which had presented itself, under such extraordinary circumstances, at the window of the Canadian’s hut, on the night of the departure of his master, Sir Everard Valletort, and Captain De Haldimar, for Michilimackinac in 1763. Nay, so rooted was this belief, that, with the fervor of that zeal which had governed his whole life and conduct towards each succeeding generation of the family, he prayed and obtained, during a momentary gleam of reason, the promise of the much shocked Gerald, that he would never again set foot within the precincts of those fatal grounds.
Inexpressibly grieved as Gerald was at this sad and unexpected termination to his adventure, he had no time to linger near his unfortunate servant. The expedition was to set out in a few hours, and he had too completely bent his mind upon accompanying it to incur the slightest chance of a disappointment. Leaving the faithful and unfortunate creature to the care of his uncle’s family, by every member of whom he was scarcely less loved than by himself, he took the ferry to the opposite shore within an hour after day break, and made such speed that, when Henry came down to breakfast he found, to his surprise, his brother already there.
During his ride, Gerald had had leisure to reflect on the events of the preceding night, and bitterly did he regret having yielded to a curiosity which had cost the unfortunate Sambo so much. He judged correctly that they had been followed in their nocturnal excursion, and that it was the face of some prying visitant which Sambo’s superstitious dread had transformed into a hideous vision of the past. He recalled the insuperable aversion the old man had ever entertained to approach of even make mention of the spot, and greatly did he blame himself for having persisted in offering a violence to his nature, the extent of which had been made so fearfully obvious. It brought no consolation to him to reflect that the spot itself contained nought that should have produced so alarming an effect on a mind properly constituted. He felt that, knowing his weakness as he did, he ought not to have trifled with it, and could not deny to himself, that in enforcing his attendance, (with a view to obtain information on several points connected with the past), he had been indirectly the destroyer of his reason. There had been a season when the unhappy sailor would have felt a sorrow even deeper than he did, but Gerald was indeed an altered being—too much rapt in himself to give heed to others.