His servant had just entered, and deposited on the mess-table hot and cold water, sugar, lime-juice, pipes, tobacco, and tumblers; when the two officers with Von Vottenberg who had just come in from visiting Mr. Heywood, sat down to indulge their social humors. Whilst the latter, according to custom, mixed the punch, which when made was pronounced to be his chef d’oeuvre, Elmsley amused himself with cutting up the tobacco, and filling the pipes. The ensign, taking advantage of their occupation, indulged himself in a reverie that lasted until the beverage had been declared ready.
The presence of the doctor, acting as a check upon the further allusion by the friends to the topic that had hitherto engrossed their attention, the little conversation that ensued was of a general nature, neither of them, however, cared much to contribute to it, so that the doctor found and pronounced them for that evening anything but entertaining companions. He, however, consoled himself with copious potations from the punch-bowl, and filled the room with dense clouds of smoke, that were in themselves, sufficient to produce the drowsiness that Ronayne pleaded in excuse of his taciturnity.
After his second glass, Elmsley, reminding the ensign that he expected him as well as the punch-brewer to breakfast with him in the morning at eight o’clock precisely, took his departure for the guard room, for the night.
It was about seven o’clock on the morning succeeding the occurrences detailed in the preceding chapters, that Lieutenant Elmsley waited on the commanding officer, to relate that the fishing boat was at length in sight. These tidings were communicated as Captain Headley was preparing to sit down to breakfast—a refreshment, to which the fatigue of mind and body he had undergone during the night had not a little disposed him. True, however, to his character, he stayed not for the meal, but instantly arose, and taking his telescope accompanied the subaltern to the flagstaff battery, whence the best view of the river was commanded.
“Any thing to report, Mr. Elmsley; but I presume not, or it scarcely would have been necessary for me to ask the question?”
“Nothing, sir, of any consequence,” replied the lieutenant after a moment’s hesitation, “beyond a slight altercation that took place between a drunken Pottawattamie and the sergeant of the guard—but it was of a nature too. trivial to disturb you about.”
“What was it, Mr. Elmsley?” inquired his superior, abruptly turning to him.
“The Indian who had probably been lying dead drunk during the day within the Fort, and had evidently just awakened from his sleep, was anxious to go to his encampment, but the sergeant, strictly obeying the order he had received from me, refused to open the gate, which seemed to annoy the Indian very much. At that moment I came up. I knew well of course that the order was not meant to extend rigidly to our Indian friends, the great mass of whom might be offended by the detention of one of their number, and I desired the sergeant to pass him through. Was I right, sir?”