“Pity they don’t make a general of you, corporal,” remarked Collins, as he proceeded quietly with Green to the execution of the duty assigned to them. “I guess Washington himself couldn’t better command a little army. Is your battle order finished, general?”
“None of your nonsense, master Collins, this is no time for jesting. Go and dry these arms, and when you have them so that they can send a bullet from their throats, join Jackson and Philips in covering the boat. Weston and I will take up our first station.”
And in less time than we have taken to describe the cause of the alarm, and the instructions given in consequence, the men had hastened to execute the several duties assigned to them on shore, while Cass remained, not only with a view of showing the Indians that the boat was not wholly unguarded, but to be enabled to inform his comrades, who could distinctly hear him without rendering any particular elevation of the voice necessary, of any important movement on the part of the former. This quietude of arrangement on the part of Corporal Nixon had, seemingly, been not without effect. It was evident that the Indians had no suspicion that they had been seen, and even when the men coolly quitted the boat, they showed no impatience indicative of an impression that the party were seeking to shield themselves from an impending danger.
“This silence is strange enough,” said the corporal to his companion, after they had been some minutes secreted in the cavity from which the departure of the Indian with the boat had been arrested. “I almost wish they would fire a shot, for that would at once tell us how to act, and what we are to expect, whether they are friendly Indians or not.”
But no shot was fired, and from the moment when the men quitted the boat, and took up their positions, everything had continued silent as the grave on the opposite shore, and not the vestige of an Indian could be seen.
“But for that scalp,” again remarked the corporal, “I should take the party to have been friendly Indians, perhaps just returned from a buffalo hunt, and come down to the water to drink. They are surely gone again.”
“Look there,” said Weston, in a subdued tone, while he placed his hand on the shoulder of his superior, as both lay crouched in their hiding-place, “look there, corporal,” and he pointed with his finger to the opposite bank. “Do you see that large, blackish log lying near the hickory, and with its end towards us?”
“I do—what of it?”