“What would Mr. Ronayne say, if we did?” added Jackson.
“Yes! and what would that sweet young lady, Miss Heywood, think of us, if we returned without giving some good news of her father. Why she never would look upon us kindly again.”
“Right, Philips,” said Weston, “and I’m sure I’d rather offend the captain himself, any day, than do anything to displease her. God grant we bring her no bad news.”
“Amen,” said the corporal, gravely, for he, like Collins, had some strong misgivings, arising naturally from the utter darkness and silence that continued to prevail in and around the farm-house. “Are you all loaded? Look to your primings, but make no noise. Somebody must take charge of the beat though. Who volunteers to remain, while the rest follow me to the house?”
“I do—I’ll remain,” said Collins, “one of you can take my musket”
“What, Collins, do you shirk the thing,” sneered the man with the long nose and the peaked chin; “have you had enough to-day, or do you fear the ghost of the fellow you knocked over?”
“I fear neither man or ghost, as you well know, Nutcrackers,” warmly rejoined Collins, “but I take it, there’s no great courage in making a fuss about going where there’s no enemy to be found. If there has been danger in that quarter, I take it, it’s passed, and as somebody must stop in the boat, why ’not me as well as another?”
“Just so,” said the corporal. “Cass, this is no time to run your rigs. You see well enough that Collins wishes to stop behind, on account of the boy he hopes to bring to life. Little chance of that, I fear, but if he thinks so, it would be unchristian to disappoint him. And now push off, but make no noise.”
The order was obeyed. In a few minutes the bow of the boat touched the landing-place, when all but Collins, who was at the helm, slipped noiselessly ashore. The corporal repeated his instructions—how to act under emergency and if separated—and moved along the path leading to the house. Meanwhile Collins pulled back into the stream, and remained stationary in the centre.
The farm-house was, as we have said, of very rude construction—such a one as could only spring up in so remote a region, and among so sparse a population. With the exception of the roof, the frame-work of which had been covered with raw buffalo hides, it was built wholly of rough logs, notched at the ends in a sort of dove-tail fashion, and when not lying closely, filled in with chunks of wood, over which a rude plaster of mud had been thrown, so that the whole was rendered almost impervious to water, while it ran little risk from the agency of fire. It had two rooms on the ground floor—one smaller than the other, used as a dormitory, and containing all the clothes or “traps,” as they designated them, of the household. The other served as eating-room, parlor, and kitchen, and extended over, at least,