“There’s that grating sound again,” remarked Weston.
All now listened, and heard much more distinctly than before the peculiar sound. Then followed a scratching and bumping of something heavy against the end of the house.
“I have it,” said the Virginian. “They’ve dragged the ladder from the barn, and are trying to fix it under the bedroom window. Cass, do you and Philips go in and see what they’re doing. But close the door after you that they may not pick you off by the light.”
The door was cautiously opened and again shut as soon as the men had entered. They looked up at the window, which, in the darkness that prevailed around, was distinctly enough visible, but although open, nothing met their glance of a nature to startle them, nor could any movement be heard without.
“Hold my firelock,” whispered Cass to his companion, “while I try and get a look out. I know poor Le Noir’s bed is directly under the window, and I don’t think that is too high, if I stand on the pillow.”
He now cautiously groped his way to the bed, on ascending which, being a tall man, he found the top of his head to be on a level with the sill of the window. This was not sufficient for his purpose, and he sought to elevate himself still more. In attempting, with this view, to place himself on the head-board, he missed his footing, and fell with some force between the head of the bed, and the rode log wall. To his dismay, he found that his feet had rested not upon the hard floor of the apartment, but upon something soft and yielding, which his imagination, strongly excited by the events of the day, led him unhesitatingly to conclude, was the flesh of a human body.
“A light corporal—a light!” he shouted, regardless of every thing, but his desire to release himself from his present situation. “Bring a light. Here’s a fellow, who has got hold of me by the leg!”
“Take your musket then and bayonet him,” said Philips, coolly, as he pushed towards the struggling man the butt end of his firelock, which at length reached his hands. At the same time, Corporal Nixon, rendered equally imprudent by the suddenness of the demand for his presence, entered, followed by Weston, bearing the candle.
Nothing can, we conceive, be in worse taste in a fictitious narrative, than the wanton introduction of the ludicrous upon the solemn, but when in an historical tale these extremes do occur, fidelity forbids the suppression of the one, lest it should mar the effect of the other. Such is the necessity under which we find ourselves.