Scarcely had he finished speaking, when a dark naked human hand was slowly protruded over his shoulder, and seized not the leg of the turkey, which Green now grasped with unconscious and convulsive energy, but a brand from the fire.
In his terror at that strange and unexpected appearance, he dropped the body of the bird in the glowing embers, and uttering a faint cry, turned half round and beheld what filled him with the deepest dismay: his companions, scarcely less terrified than himself, sprang together to their feet, with the intention of rushing to their muskets, but all hope of recovering them was gone. The savage who had snatched the fire was no longer there then, but half a dozen others in their war-paint stood between them and their firelocks. It seemed as if they were sensible that their very silence inspired more awe and apprehension in the bosoms of their defenceless enemies than could have done the most turbulent expression of their triumph. They had evidently entered by the back door, which was now quite open, and grouped around the body of Mr. Heywood, were apparently more interested in the dead than in the living. Not a sign was there of the corporal, and Philips stood as if paralyzed, leaning, musket in hand, against the opposite entrance.
Leaving the little party in the dismay occasioned by their new position, and that at a moment when they believed themselves secured from further interruption or danger, we must now return to the Fort, where their long-continued absence, coupled with the startling tidings conveyed by Ephraim Giles, had created equal anxiety and apprehension.
It will be recollected that during the examination of the latter, Ensign Ronayne had, after communicating with the commanding officer, suddenly departed across the river, taking with him a few armed men. The destination of this little party was the cottage occupied by Mrs. Heywood and her daughter, who, with a woman servant, were the sole occupants of a dwelling, simple in construction, but decorated, both within and without, by the hand of good taste. It was a low, one-storied building, painted white, with green window-blinds and shutters, and a verandah of trellis work of the same color, that extended a few feet square round the principal entrance. On either side, rose to the roof, on parallel lines, and at equal distances, cords of strong twine, on which already had began to interlace themselves, the various parasites indigenous to the soil, which winter had robbed of their freshness, but which a southern sun was now evidently vivifying and re-invigorating. A small garden of about half-an-acre, surrounded by a similar trellis-work, extended equally in front, and on the sides of the house—while the graceful form given to the various beds, and the selection of the plants and flowers, which, although still in their dormant state, were yet recognizable—testified the refined