“You do not mean that he is to supplant Ronayne, I hope,” returned her friend, trying to laugh her oat of the serious mood, in which she seemed so much inclined to indulge.
“How can you speak so, Margaret? No, my presentiment is of a different character. But it is very foolish and silly to allow the feeling to weigh with me. I will try to think more rationally. Say nothing of this, however, and least of all to Ronayne.”
“Not a word, dearest. Good bye for the present. I must look after the dinner. You know who dines with us.”
A look expressive of the deep sense she entertained of the consideration of her friend, was the only commentary of Miss Heywood, as she passed into her mother’s apartment.
It was now the middle of May. A month had elapsed since the events detailed in the preceding chapters. The recollection of the outrage at Heywood’s farm, committed early in April was fast dying away, save in the bosoms of those more immediately interested in the fate of its proprietor, and apprehensions of a repetition of similar atrocities had, in a great measure, ceased. A better understanding between the commanding officer and his subordinates—the result of a long private interview, which Ensign Ronayne had had with the former, on the morning after his promise to Mrs. Headley, followed by an apology on parade that day, had arisen. Corporal Nixon was now Sergeant Nixon—Collins had succeeded to him, and Le Noir and the boy—Catholic and Protestant—had been buried in one grave. Ephraim Giles filled the office of factotum to Von Vottenberg, whose love of whisky punch, was, if possible, on the increase. Winnebeg, the bearer of confidential despatches, announcing the hostile disposition and acts of certain of the Winnebagoes, had not returned, and Waunangee, who, recovered from the fumes of the claret, had, in an earnest manner, expressed to Ronayne contrition for the liberty he had taken with Miss Heywood, had departed from the neighborhood, no one knew whither. Harmony, in a word, had been some days restored in the Fort, and the only thing that detracted from the general contentment, was the uncertainty attending the fate of Mr. Heywood—regretted less, however, for his own sake, than for that of his amiable daughter, who vainly sought to conceal from her friends, the anxiety induced by an absence, the duration of which it was utterly impossible to divine. As for Mrs. Heywood, she was still in ignorance, so well had things been managed by the Elmsleys, that any of the fearful scenes had occurred. She still believed her husband to be at the farm.
But, as it was not likely she could much longer remain in ignorance of what had been the subject of conversation with every one around her, it was advised by Von Vottenberg, that, as the warmth of spring was now fully developed, and all dread of the Indians resuming their hostile visit, at an end, she should be conveyed back to the cottage, the pure air around which, was much more likely to improve her health, than the confined atmosphere of the Fort. She had accordingly been removed thither early in May, accompanied by her daughter and Catherine.