Whatever his motives for outwardly avoiding all recognition of the settler, certain it is that, so far from this, he sought sedulously to conceal his own identity, by drawing the slouched hat, which formed a portion of his new equipment, lower over his eyes. Left to do the duties of the rude hostelry, Captain Jackson and he now quitted the hut, and leading their jaded, smoking, steeds a few rods off to the verge of the plain they had so recently traversed, prepared to dispose of them for the night, Gerald had by this time become too experienced in the mode of travelling through an American wilderness, not to understand that he who expects to find a companion in his horse in the morning, must duly secure him with the tether at night. Following, therefore, the example of the Aid-de-Camp, he applied himself, amid the still pelting rain, to the not very cleanly task of binding round the fetlock joints of his steed several yards of untanned hide strips, with which they were severally provided for the purpose. Each gave his steed a parting slap on the buttock with the hard bridle, Jackson exclaiming, “go ye luxurious beasts, ye have a whole prairie of wet grass to revel in for the night,” and then left them to make the best of their dainty food.
While returning, Grantham took occasion to observe, that he had reason to think he knew the surly and inhospitable woodsman, by whom however he was not desirous of being recognized, and therefore begged as a favor that Captain Jackson would not, in the course of the night, mention his name, or even allude to him in any way that could lead to an inference that he was any other than he seemed, a companion and brother officer of his own; promising, in conclusion, to give him, in the course of the next day’s journey, some little history of the man which would fully explain his motives. With this request Jackson unhesitatingly promised compliance, adding, good humouredly, that he was not sorry to pledge himself to any thing that would thaw his companion’s tongue into sociability, and render himself, for the first time since their departure, a listener. Before entering the hut Gerald further observed in a whisper, that the better to escape recognition, he would, as much as possible, avoid joining in any conversation which might ensue, and therefore hoped his companion would not think it rude if he suffered him to bear the tax. Jackson again promised to keep the attention of the woodsman directed as much as possible to himself, observing, that he thought Gerald had already, to his cost, discovered he was not one easily tired out by conversation, should their host be that way inclined.