Contrary to that unnatural etiquette which enjoins that two betrothed persons, who are expected to be inseparable after marriage, should never show themselves together in public immediately before, Ronayne had after parade ascended the rampart, with Maria Heywood leaning upon his arm, occasionally glancing at the group of gaily-costumed Indians, who were amusing themselves on the green, but oftener admiring the lovely view, softened by distance, which was presented in various points, and particularly towards the farm—the theatre of events which the otherwise happy girl, could not at that moment avoid bringing to her recollection.
While gazing in that direction, her eye fell upon the form of a young Indian who was leaning against the corner of the picketed bastion on her left, in the shallow, dry, and grass-covered ditch that surrounded it. At first her glance caught an indistinct human form dressed in the Indian garb, but as her gaze settled on the object, her surprise was great to recognise Waunangee, who was even then looking at her with the same softened and eloquent expression, which had given her so much anxiety on a former occasion. The impression produced upon her was exactly what it had been then—indescribable—inexplicable to herself.
“What is the matter, my love?” inquired Ronayne tenderly, and pressing her arm to his heart—“what fixes your attention below?” then seeing the Indian himself. “Ah! Waunangee, my friend!” he exclaimed, “where have you been all this time? Come round to the gate and shake hands with my wife.”
“No, no, no, do not call him up, Ronayne—you cannot think how much the presence of that Indian troubles me.”
“Nay, dearest Maria, you are not yourself. Why continue this strong dislike against the poor fellow? I thought you had quite forgiven him.”
Was it accident—was it modesty, or was it a consciousness that his presence was not desired by at least one of the parties, that prevented the young Indian from obeying the summons of the officer. Whatever the cause, he assumed a serious mein, and playing one of those melancholy airs which so often, at that time, might be heard proceeding from the rude flute of their race, walked slowly away.
“I fear you have offended him, Maria. Oh! if you knew—”
“Ronayne—dearest Harry!” interrupted his betrothed—“I have never said anything of this before to you, because, after all, it is but an idle fancy, yet I cannot divest myself of the idea that this Indian, interesting and prepossessing as he is, is somehow or other connected with my future fate. Nay,” as the young officer smiled in playful mockery, “you may ridicule my presentiment, which is, I confess, so much at variance with good sense, that I almost blush to introduce the subject, but still I cannot banish the impression.”
“Then, I will assist you in doing so, dearest, even though at the risk of re-opening a newly-closed wound,” remarked her lover, with deep affection of manner. “In my narrative of those events, hastily thrown together, which I gave you on that memorable night, when I suffered for a period, almost the torments of the damned, I did not, it seems to me, name the young Indian, who, with his father, so greatly aided me on my return to the farm, and even bore upon his shoulders the sacred charge.”