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Frederick Marryat.

Poor Jack; and The settlers in Canada online

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The harvest being ripe again, gave them all full employment ;
the corn was got in with great expedition by the united
labour of the soldiers and emigrants, when the former, having
completed their work, returned to the fort, and the Campbells,
with the addition to their colony, were now left alone. Visit-
ing the emigrants in their own cottages, and making acquaint-
ance with the children, was now a great source of amusement
to the Miss Percivals. Various plans were started relative to
establishing a Sunday-school and many other useful arrange-
ments ; one, however, took place immediately, which was,
that divine service was performed by Mr. Campbell in his own
house, and was attended by all the emigrants every Sunday.
Mr. Campbell had every reason to be pleased with their
conduct up to the present time ; they all appeared willing,
never murmured or complained at any task allotted to them,
and were satisfied with Mr. Campbell's arrangements relative
to supplies. Parties were now again formed for the chase ;
Meredith and young Graves proved to be good woodsmen
and capital shots with the rifle, so that now they had enough
to send out a party on alternate days, while one or two of the
others fished all the day and salted down as fast as they
caught, that there might be a full supply for the winter.

But although Mr. and Mrs. Campbell and the Miss
Percivals, as well as the major part of the family, were fully
satisfied and happy in their future prospects, there were four

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THE SETTLERS IN CANADA

who were in a state of great anxiety and suspense. These
were Alfred, Malachi, Martin, and the Strawberry, who,
being acquainted with the existence of young Percival, found
their secret a source of great annoyance, now that, notwith-
standing the capture and detention of the Young Otter, no
advance appeared to be made for his exchange, nor any signs
of any overture on the part of the Angry Snake. Captain
Sinclair, who was usually at the farm twice during the week,
was also much fretted at finding that every time Malachi
and Alfred had no more information to give him than he had
to impart to them. They hardly knew how to act ; to let a
second winter pass away without attempting to i*ecover the
boy, appeared to them to be delaying too long, and yet to
communicate intelligence which might only end in bitter
disappointment, seemed unadvisable ; for the Indian chief,
out of revenge, might have killed the boy, and then the
grief of the father and mother would be more intense than
before. It would be opening a wound to no purpose. This
question was frequently canvassed by Alfred and Captain
Sinclair, but an end was put to all their debates on the
subject by an unexpected occurrence. Mary Percival had
one morning gone down to a place called the Cedar Swamp,
about half a mile from the house to the westward, near to
the shore of the lake, to pick cranberries for preserving.
One of the little emigrant girls, Martha Jackson, was with
her ; when one basket was full, Mary sent it home by the
little girl, with directions to come back immediately. The
girl did so, but on her return to the Cedar Swamp, Mary
Percival was not to be seen. The basket which she had
retained with her was lying with all the cranberries upset
out of it on a hill by the side of the swamp. The little girl
remained for a quarter of an hour, calling out Miss Percival's
name, but not receiving any answer, she became frightened,
imagining that some wild beast had attacked her ; and she
ran back as fast as she could to the house, acquainting Mr.
and Mrs. Campbell with what had happened. Martin and
Alfred were at the mill ; Malachi, fortunately, was at his
own lodge, and Strawberry rah for him, told him what the
girl had reported, and having done so, she looked at Malachi,
and said "Angry Snake."

"Yes, Strawberry, that is the case, I have no doubt,"

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replied Malachi ; " but not a word at present ; I knew he
would be at something, but I did not think that he dared do
that either ; however, we shall see. Go back to the house,
and tell master and missis that I have gone down to the
Cedar Swamp, and will return as soon as possible, and do
you follow me as fast as you can, for your eyes are younger
than mine, and I shall want the use of them : tell them
not to send anybody else, it will do harm instead of good,
for they will trample the ground, and we may lose the
track."

Malachi caught up his rifle, examined the priming, and
set off in the direction of the swamp, while the Strawberry
returned to the house to give his message to Mr. and Mrs.
Campbell. Leaving Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, who were in a
great state of alarm, and had sent the little girl, Martha
Jackson, to summon Alfred and Martin (for John and Henry
were out in the woods after the cattle), the Strawberry went
down to the Cedar Swamp to join Malachi, whom she found
standing still, leaning on his rifle, near the basket which had
contained the cranberries.

''Now, Strawberry, we must find out how many of them
there were, and which way they have gone," said Malachi,
in the Indian tongue.

" Here," said Strawberry, pointing to a mark on the short
grass, which never could have attracted the observation of
one unused to an Indian life.

" I see, child ; I see that and two more, but we cannot
tell much as yet ; let us follow up the trail till we come to
some spot where we may read the print better. That's her
foot," continued Malachi, after they had proceeded two or
three yards. " The sole of a shoe cuts the grass sharper
than a moccasin. We have no easy task just now, and if the
others come, they may prevent us from finding the track
altogether."

" Here, again," said Strawberry, stooping close to the short,
dry grass.

" Yes ; you're right, child," replied Malachi. " Let us
once follow it to the bottom of this hill, and then we shall
do better."

By the closest inspection and minutest search, Malachi and
the Strawberry continued to follow the almost imperceptible

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THE SETTLERS IN CANADA

track till they arrived at the bottom of the hill, about a
hundred yards from where they started. It had become more
difficult, as the print of Mary's foot, which was more easily
perceptible than the others, had served them for a few yards ;
after which it was no more to be distinguished, and it was
evident that she had been lifted up from the ground. This
satisfied them that she had been carried off. When they
arrived at the bottom of the hill, they could clearly distin-
guish the print marks of moccasins, and by measuring very
exactly the breadth and length of the impressions, made out
that they were of two different people. These they con-
tinued to follow till they arrived at the forest, about a quarter
of a mile from the swamp, where they heard the hallooing of
Alfred and Martin, to which Malachi answered, and they
soon joined him.

" What is it, Malachi ? "

"She has been carried off, sir, I've no doubt," replied
Malachi, " by the Snake. The rascal is determined to have
the vantage of us. W T e have one prisoner, and he has made
two."

Malachi then explained why he was certain that she had
been carried away, and Martin agreed with him immediately.
Alfred then said "Well, but now, before we act, let us con-
sult what is best to be done."

" Well, sir," replied Malachi, " the best to do now, at this
moment, is for the Strawberry and me to follow the trail,
and try if we cannot obtain more information, and when we
have got all we can, we must form a party, and go in pursuit.
Let us only get fairly on the trail, and we will not lose it,
especially if the Strawberry is with us, for she has a better
eye than any Indian I ever knew, be it man or woman."

" Well, that is all right, Malachi ; but what shall I do now
while you are following up the trail ? "

" Well, sir, you must prepare the party, and get them all
ready for a start ; for we must be off in three hours, if
possible."

"Captain Sinclair had better come with us. He will be
quite frantic if he does not," said Alfred.

" Well, then, perhaps he had, sir," replied Malachi coldly ,
" but I'd rather he were away. He won't be so cool and
calm as he ought to be."

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THE SETTLERS IN CANADA

" Never fear ; but I must now go to my father and mother,
and tell the whole of the circumstances which have occurred.
I must tell them that Percival is alive."

" Why so, sir ? " replied Malachi. " It will only fret them
more. It's quite sufficient that they should have to lament
Miss Percival being carried off, without their knowing what
fresh cause for anxiety there is about the boy. I would only
say that Miss Mary has been carried off by somebody, and
leave out all about our having captured the Young Otter,
and why we took him."

" Well, perhaps it will be better," said Alfred ; " then I'll
leave Martin here, and ride off to the fort to Captain Sinclair.
Shall I ask for any soldiers ? "

" Yes, sir ; if there are any good backwoodsmen among
them, we may find a couple of them of service. We ought
to have a larger force than the Indian ; and the latter, if you
recollect, is stated at six with the chief. Now, there are
you, Martin, and I, that's three ; Captain Sinclair and two
soldiers would be six; young Graves and Meredith make
eight. That's sufficient, sir ; more than sufficient does harm.
Mr. Henry must stay, and so must Mr. John, because he will
not be home before we are away. I'm sorry for that, as I
should have liked him to be with me."

" It can't be helped," replied Alfred. " Well then, Martin
and I will go back at once ; in two hours I will return with
Captain Sinclair, if I possibly can."

" As quick as you please, sir, and Martin will get everything
ready for the journey, for we must not fire our rifles, if we can
help it"

Alfred hastened away, and was soon followed by Martin, to
whom Malachi had given some directions. Malachi and the
Strawberry then continued to follow the trail, which they
traced through the thickest of the wood for more than an hour,
when they came upon a spot where a fire had been lighted,
and the ground trodden down, evidently showing that the
parties had been living there some time.

" Here was the nest of the whole gang," resumed Malachi,
as he looked round.

The Strawberry, who had been examining the ground,
said

"Here is her foot again."

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"Yes, yes ; it's clear enough that two of them have carried
her off and brought her here to where the others were waiting
for them, and from here the whole party have made their
start. Now we have the new trail to find, and that they have
taken every care to prevent us, I do not doubt."

The Strawberry now pointed to a mark near where the fire
had been lighted, and said, " The moccasin of a squaw."

" Right, then she is with them, so much the better, 7 ' re-
plied Malachi,, " for, as she sent me that letter, she may
serve us still, if she chooses."



CHAPTER XXXVII

PREVIOUS to his starting for the fort, Alfred had a hasty
communication with his father and mother, in which he in-
formed them simply that it was evident that Mary had been
carried off, and that it was the opinion of Malachi and Martin
that the Angry Snake was the party to be suspected.

" But what cause could he have ? " said Emma, weeping.

" Merely to get powder and shot as a reward for bringing
her back again," replied Alfred ; "so there is not anything to
fear as to her being ill treated ; but if he has any other reason
for what he has done, it is well known that an Indian always
respects a female. But here comes my horse."

" But what are you going to do, Alfred ? " said Mrs.
Campbell, who was in a state of great agitation.

" Ride to the fort for assistance, bring Captain Sinclair, and
go in pursuit as fast as we can, mother. Martin will get all
ready by my return, Malachi is following up the trail with
Strawberry. But there is no time to be lost ; I shall soon be
back."

Alfred then sprang upon his horse, which Martin had
brought to the door, and galloped away to the fort.

As it may be supposed, Mr. and Mrs. Campbell and Emma
were in great distress ; this did not, however, prevent them
from listening to Martin, and supplying him with all that he
requested, which was salt pork and other food for their
journey, powder and shot for their rifles, &c. Having speci-
fied all that was wanted, Martin then went off to summon

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young Graves and Meredith ; they were soon found, and when
they heard the intelligence, were ready in a minute for
departure. Their rifles and an extra pair of moccasins each
was all that they required for the journey, and in a few
minutes they accompanied Martin to the house. After they
had been occupied for a little time in dividing the various
articles into different packages, that each might carry his
proportion, Mr. Campbell said

" Martin, supposing that you and Malachi are correct in
your supposition, where do you think that they will take my
poor niece ? "

" Right away to their own wigwams, sir," replied Martin.

" Have you any idea how far that may be ? " said Mrs.
Campbell.

" Yes, ma'am, I have heard that the Angry Snake's
quarters are about twelve days' journey from this."

" Twelve days' journey ! how far is a journey ? "

" As far as a stout man can walk in a day, ma'am."

" And will my niece have to walk all the way ? "

" Why, yes, ma'am ; I don't see how it can be otherwise ;
I don't know of the Indians having any horses, although
they may have."

" But she cannot walk as far as a man," replied Mrs.
Campbell.

"No, ma'am, and so I suppose they will be twenty days
going instead of twelve."

" Will they ill-treat or ill-use her, Martin ? " said Emma.

"No, ma'am, I shouldn't think they would, although they
will make her walk, and will tie her at night when they
stop."

" Poor Mary ! what will she suffer ? " exclaimed Emma ;
"and if you do come up with them, Martin, will they give
her up to you ? "

" We shan't ask their leave, miss," replied Martin ; " we
shall take her."

"But not without bloodshed, Martin," said Mrs. Campbell.

" No, ma'am, certainly not without bloodshed, for either
the Indians must destroy us or we them ; if we conquer, hot
an Indian will be left alive ; and if they master us, it will be
about the same thing, I suppose."

" Heaven protect us, but this is dreadful ; I was prepared

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for difficulties and annoyances when I came out here," ex-
claimed Mrs. Campbell ; "but not for such trials as these."

" Never fear but we'll bring her back, ma'am," said
Martin ; " Malachi is a better Indian than them all, and he'll
circumvent them."

" How do you mean ? "

" I mean, ma'am, that we will, if possible, fall upon them
unawares, and then we'll have the advantage, for half of them
will be killed before they know that they are attacked ; we'll
fight them Indian fashion, ma'am."

Mrs. Campbell continued her interrogations till Alfred
was seen at the end of the prairie returning at full speed,
accompanied by Captain Sinclair and two other men, also on
horseback.

" Here they come," said Martin ; " and they have lost no
time, that's certain."

" Poor Captain Sinclair ! what must be his feelings ? I pity
him," said Mrs. Campbell.

" He must take it coolly, nevertheless," observed Martin ;
"or he may do more harm than good."

Alfred and Captain Sinclair now dismounted : they had
brought with them two of the soldiers who were well used
to the woods, and excellent shots with the rifle. A hurried
conversation of a few minutes took place, but time was too
precious, and Alfred, embracing his father and mother, who,
as they shook hands with Captain Sinclair, expressed in a
melancholy way their hopes for their success, the party of
seven which had been collected set off to rejoin Malachi and
the Strawberry.

Malachi and Strawberry had not been idle ; the latter had
run back to their lodge and procured a bow and arrows, and
since that they had tracked the footmarks through the forest
for more than a mile, when they had come to a small rivulet
which ran through the forest. Here the trail was lost, at
least it was not to be perceived anywhere on the opposite
side of the rivulet, and it was to be presumed that, to conceal
their trail, the Indians had walked in the water, either up or
down, for a certain distance before they put their feet on the
other side ; but as it was near the time that they might ex-
pect the arrival of Alfred and the others, Malachi had re-
turned to the spot where Alfred and Martin had left them,

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leaving the Strawberry to walk down and up the side of the
rivulet to recover the trail. As soon as the party joined
him, they and Malachi set off to where the trail had been
lost, and the latter had left the Strawberry.

There they waited some time, as the Strawberry was not
in sight, and they took this opportunity of distributing the
provisions and ammunition among them. Captain Sinclair,
although his feelings may well be imagined, was very active
in arrangements, and showed that, if his heart was smitten,
his head was clear. The order of the march was settled
by Malachi and him, and as soon as all was arranged,
they waited impatiently for the return of the Indian girl ;
she came at last, and informed them that she had re-
covered the trail about three miles up the course of the
stream, and they all started immediately. As was agreed,
they kept perfect silence, and followed the newly-discovered
trail for about a mile, when, on their arrival at a clear
spot in the woods, where the grass was very short and
dry, they were again at fault. They went over to the other
side of this heath, to see if they could again fall in with
it, but after half-an-hour's search, could not discover it,
when they were summoned by a low whistle from the
Strawberry, who had returned to the spot where the trail
had been lost.

"They have turned back again," said the Strawberry,
pointing to the former footmarks; "see, the track of the
moccasins is both ways."

" That's true," said Malachi, after a close examination ;
"now then, Strawberry, to find out where they have left the
old trail again. I told you, sir," continued Malachi to
Alfred, " that the Strawberry would be useful ; she has the
eye of a falcon."

It was not till another half-hour had elapsed that the spot
where they had left the trail, which, to deceive those who
might pursue them, the Indians had returned upon, was
discovered, and then they started again, and proceeded with
caution, led by the Strawberry, until she stopped and spoke
to Malachi in the Indian tongue, pointing at a small twig
broken upon one of the bushes.

" That's true, let us see if it happens again."

In a few moments the Strawberry pointed out another.

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"Then all's right," said Malachi, "I said that she could
help us again if she chose, and so she has. The Indian
woman who wrote the letter," continued Malachi, turning to
Captain Sinclair and Alfred, "is our friend still. See, sir,
she has, wherever she has dared to do it without being seen
by the Indians, broken down a small twig as a guide to us.
Now, if she has continued to do this, we shall not have much
trouble."

They continued their course through the woods until the
sun went down, and they could see no longer, having made a
journey of about nine miles from the settlement. They then
lay down for the night under a large tree ; the weather was
very warm, and they did not light a fire, as they had some
cooked provisions.

The next morning, as soon as it was daylight, they made a
hasty meal, and resumed their task. The trail was now
pretty clear, and was occasionally verified by the breaking of
a twig as before. This day they made sixteen miles' journey,
and at the close of it they arrived at the borders of a lake
about ten miles long, and from one and a half to two wide ;
the trail went right on to the shore of the lake, and then
disappeared.

" Here they must have taken to the water," said Alfred ;
" but what means have they had to cross ? "

"That we must discover, somehow or another, sir," replied
Malachi, " or else we shall not find the trail again ; perhaps,
however, we shall see to-morrow morning ; it is too dark now
to attempt to find out, and we may do more harm than good
by tracking down the bank. We must bring to for the night.
There is a high rock there on the beach farther up ; we had
better go there, as we can light a fire behind the rock with-
out being discovered by it, supposing the Indians are on the
opposite shore ; and to-night we must cook all our provisions
if we possibly can, for, depend upon it, we have travelled
faster to-day than they can have done with the young lady,
and if we can once get well on the trail again, we shall soon
be up with them."

" God grant that we may ! " exclaimed Captain Sinclair ;
" the idea of what poor Mary must suffer, almost drives me
mad."

" Yes, sir, she will be terribly foot-sore, I have no doubt,"

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THE SETTLERS IN CANADA

replied Malachi, "but the Indians will not treat her ill,
depend upon it."

Captain Sinclair sighed, but made no reply.

As soon as they arrived at the mass of rock which Malachi
had pointed out, they all commenced collecting firewood,
and the Strawberry in a few minutes had a sufficient fire for
their purpose. They had not any cooking utensils with them,
but the pork was cut in slices, and stuck upon the ends of
small sticks round the fire, until it was sufficiently cooked,
and then it was packed up again in parcels, with the excep-
tion of what was retained for their supper. They had finished
their meal, and were sitting round the embers of the fire,
conversing, and calculating the probabilities as to their over-
taking the Indians, when Martin sprang up, with his rifle
ready to bring to his shoulder.

" What is it ? " said Alfred in a low tone, as Martin held up
his finger as a sign for silence.

"There's somebody coming this way he is behind that
large tree," said Martin ; " I see his head now, but it is too
dark to make out who it may be."

As Martin said this, a low and singular sort of whistle
between the teeth was heard, upon which the Strawberry
gently put down Martin's rifle with her hand, saying

" It is John."

"John ! impossible," said Alfred.

" It is," replied Strawberry. " I know well that whistle.
I go to fetch him. I have no fear."

Strawberry stepped out from the group, and went up
to the tree, calling John softly by name, and in a few
seconds afterward returned, leading John by the hand, who,
without saying a word, quietly seated himself down by the
fire.

' Well, John, how did you come here ? " exclaimed Alfred.
' Followed trail," replied John.
' But how when did you leave home ? "
* Yesterday," replied John, " when I came back."
'But do your father and mother know that you have
come ? " said Captain Sinclair.

" I met old Graves, and told him," replied John. " Have
you any meat ? "

" The boy has had nothing since he left, I'll answer for it,"

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said Martin, as the Strawberry handed some of the pork to
John ; " have you, John ? "

" No," replied John, with his mouth full.

"Let him eat," said Malachi, "it's long for a lad to be two
days without food, for I'll answer he left as soon as he heard
we were gone, and did not wait for yesterday's supper.
Indeed he must have done so, for he must have followed the
trail some time yesterday to be up with us to-night, so let
him eat in quiet."

" What surprises me, Malachi, is how he could have found
his way to us."

"Well, sir, I do confess that I'm as much surprised almost
as I am pleased," replied Malachi. " It is really a great
feat for a lad to accomplish all by himself, and I am proud
of him for having done it ; but from the first I saw what
a capital woodsman he would make, and he has not dis-
appointed me."

" There are not many who would have been able to do
it, that's certain," said Martin ; " I wonder as much as you
do, Mr. Alfred, how he could have done it but he has the
gift."

" But suppose he had not come up with us, how would he
have lived in these woods ? It's a mercy that he has fallen
in with us," said Captain Sinclair.

John slapped the barrel of his rifle, which was lying by
him, and which Captain Sinclair had not perceived.

"You don't think that John would come into the woods
without his rifle, sir, do you ? " said Malachi.

" I did not perceive that he had it with him," said Captain
Sinclair, "but I certainly ought to have known John better."



Online LibraryFrederick MarryatPoor Jack; and The settlers in Canada → online text (page 54 of 58)