Frederick Marryat.

Poor Jack; and The settlers in Canada online

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John having finished his supper, they all lay down to rest,
one keeping watch that they might not be surprised.

At daylight they made their breakfast, and then went
down again to the borders of the lake, where the trail had
been lost. After a long examination, Malachi called the
Strawberry, and pointing to the edge of the water, asked her
to look there. The Strawberry did so, and at last decided
that there was the mark of the bottom of a canoe which had
been grounded.

" Yes, I thought so," said Malachi. " They have had their
canoe all ready, and have crossed the water ; now, we must



walk quite round the lake to discover the trail again, and
that will give them half a day's start of us."

They immediately set off coasting the shore of the lake,
until they arrived at the other side, carefully examining the
ground as they went. This took them till noon, by which
time they had arrived at that part of the lake which was
opposite to the large rock behind which they had kindled
their fire the night before ; but no traces were to be

" They have not crossed over in a straight line," said
Captain Sinclair, "that is evident; we must now try more
to the northward."

This they did ; and at last discovered that the canoe had
crossed over to the north point of the lake, having coasted
along the eastern shore the whole way. The spot of landing
was very evident, and for some distance they could trace
where the canoe had been hauled up. It was now late in
the afternoon, and it became a question whether they should
follow the trail, or discover the place of concealment of the
canoe, as it might be advantageous to know where it was
when they returned. It was decided that they should first
discover the canoe, and this was not done till after a search
of two hours, when they found it concealed in the bushes
about one mile from the lake. They then followed the trail
about two miles ; the twigs had been bent and broken, as
before, which was a great help to them, but the night was
now closing in. Having arrived at a clear knoll, they took
up their quarters under the trees, and retired to rest. At
daybreak they again started ; and, after two hours' walk, had
to track across a small prairie, which gave them some trouble,
but they succeeded in finding the trail on their arrival at the
wood on the opposite side, and then they made a very rapid
progress, for the twigs were now more frequently broken and
bent than before. During this day, with the bow and arrows
brought by the Strawberry, Martin had procured them two
wild turkeys, which were very acceptable, as their provisions
would not last more than seven or eight davs longer, and it
was impossible to say how far they would have to travel. It
was not far from dark when the quick ears of the Strawberry
were attracted by a noise like that of a person breathing
heavily. She at last pointed with her finger to a bush ; they



advanced cautiously, and on the other side of it they found
an Indian woman lying on the ground, bleeding profusely.
They raised her up, and discovered that it was the Indian
whom they had cured of the sprained ankle, and who, they
presumed, had been then discovered breaking the twigs that
they might follow the trail, for, on examination they found
that she had received a heavy blow on the head with a
tomahawk ; but, fortunately, it had glanced sidewise, and not
entered into the brain. She was not sensible, however, at
the time that they had discovered her, for she had lost a
great deal of blood. They stopped the effusion of blood with
bandages torn from their linen, and poured some water down
her throat ; it was now dark, and it was not possible to pro-
ceed any farther that night. The Strawberry went into the
woods and collected some herbs, with which she dressed the
wound, and having made the poor Indian as comfortable as
they could, they again lay down to rest ; but not until
Malachi had said to Alfred

"There is no doubt, sir, but that the Indians have dis-
covered this woman was marking the trail for us, and that
they have tomahawked her for so doing, and have left her
for dead. I think myself that the wound, although it is a
very ugly one, is not dangerous, and so says the Strawberry.
However, to-morrow will decide the point ; if she is not
sensible then, it will be of no use waiting, but we must go
on as fast as we can."

When they awoke the next morning they found the Straw-
berry sitting by the Indian woman, who was now quite
sensible and collected, although very weak and exhausted.
Malachi and Martin went to her, and had a long conversation
with her at intervals. Malachi had been right in his supposi-
tion ; the Angry Snake had discovered her in the act of
bending a twig, and had struck her down with his tomahawk.
They gained from her the following information. The Angry
Snake, irritated at the detention of the Young Otter, and
resolved to have another hostage in lieu of him, had carried
off Maiy Percival. He had six Indians with him, which were
the whole of his grown-up warriors. They were now but one
day's journey ahead of them, as Miss Percival was very sore
on her feet, and they could not get her along, but that in
every other respect she had been well treated. That the



Indians were not going to their lodges in a direct course, but
by a circuitous route, which would make a difference of at
least six or seven days ; and that they did this that they
might not be seen by some other tribes who were located in
their direct route, and who might give information. She
said that it was she who had written the Indian letter which
Malachi had received the autumn before, and that she had
done it because she had been so kindly treated by Mr. and
Mrs. Campbell, when she had been found in the forest with
her ankle sprained. That Percival was at the Indian lodges,
quite well when they left, and that if the Angry Snake did
not receive a large quantity of powder and shot and a great
many rifles in exchange for him, it was his intention to adopt
the boy, as he was very partial to him. On being asked if
the boy was happy, she replied that he was not at first, but
now he was almost an Indian ; that he was seldom permitted
to leave the lodges, and never unless accompanied by the
Angry Snake. In answer to their questions as to the direc-
tion and distance to the lodges, she said that they were about
seven days' journey by the straight road ; but that the party
with Miss Percival would not arrive there in less than fifteen
days, if so soon, as she was every day less able to travel.
Having obtained all this information, a council was held, and
Malachi spoke first, having been requested so to do.

" My opinion is this," said Malachi, " that we can do no
better than remain here at present, and wait till the woman
is sufficiently recovered to travel, and show us the direct
road to the lodges. In two or three days she will probably
be well enough to go with us, and then we will take the
direct road, and be there before them. The knowledge of
the place and the paths will enable us to lay an ambush for
them, and to rescue the young lady without much danger to
ourselves. They will have no idea of falling in with us, for
they of course imagine the woman is dead ; a tomahawk
seldom fails."

After a long parley, the advice of Malachi was considered
the most judicious, and a further conversation with the
Indian woman confirmed them in their resolution. As they
had no fear of the Indians discovering that they were on
their trail, Martin and Alfred went out in pursuit of game
for provisions, while the others raised up a large hut with



branches of trees, for the accommodation of the whole party.
In the evening Martin and Alfred returned, carrying a fine
buck between them. The fire was lighted, and very soon
all were busy cooking and eating. The Indian woman also
begged for something to eat, and her recovery was now no
longer considered doubtful.


XT was a great annoyance to Captain Sinclair to have to
wait in this manner, but there was no help for it. He was
satisfied that it was the most prudent course, and therefore
raised no objection. Alfred too was uneasy at the delay, as
he was aware how anxious his father and mother would be
during the whole time of their absence. They were glad,
however, to find that the Indian woman recovered rapidly,
and on the fifth day of their taking up their abode in the
forest, she said that she was able to travel if they walked
slow. It was therefore agreed that on the sixth day they
should start again, and they did so, having saved their salt
provisions, that they might not be compelled to stop, or use
their rifles to procure food. The evening before, they roasted
as much venison as they thought they could consume while
it was good, and at daylight again proceeded, not to follow
the trail, but guided by the Indian woman, in a direct
course for the lodges of the Indian band under the Angry

As they had now only to proceed as fast as they could
without tiring the poor Indian woman, whose head was
bound up, and who was still weak from loss of blood, they
made a tolerable day's journey, and halted as before. Thus
they continued their route till the sixth day, when as they
drew up for the night, the Indian stated that they were only
three or four miles from the Indians' lodges which they
sought. Thereupon a council was held as to how they should
proceed, and at last it was agreed upon that they should be
guided by the Indian woman to a spot where they might be
concealed, as near as possible to the lodges, and that when
the party had arrived there, that the woman and Malachi



should go and reconnoitre, to ascertain whether the chief
and his band with Mary Percival had returned or not. The
night was passed very impatiently, and without sleep by
most of them, so anxious were they for the morrow. Long
before break of day they again started, advancing with great
caution, and were led by the Indian till they were within
one hundred and fifty yards of the lodges, in a thick cluster
of young spruce, which completely secured them from dis-
covery. Shortly afterward Malachi and the Indian woman,
creeping on all fours, disappeared in the surrounding brush-
wood, that they might, if possible, gain more intelligence
from listening. In the meantime, the party had their eyes
on the lodges, waiting to see who should come out as soon
as the sun rose, for it was hardly clear daybreak when they
arrived at their place of concealment.

They had remained there about half-an-hour, when they
perceived an Indian lad come out of one of the lodges. He
was dressed in leggins and Indian shirt of deer-skin, and
carried in his hand his bow and arrows. An eagle's feather
was stuck in his hair above the left ear, which marked him
as the son of a chief.

" That's my brother Percival/' said John in a low tone.

" Percival ! " replied Alfred, " is it possible ? "

" Yes," whispered the Strawberry, " it is Percival, but don't
speak so loud."

" Well, they have turned him into a regular Indian," said
Alfred ; " we shall have to make a pale face of him again."

Percival, for he it was, looked round for some time, and at
last perceiving a crow flying over his head, he drew his bow,
and the a-rrow brought the bird down at his feet.

" A capital shot," said Captain Sinclair, " the boy has
learned something at all events. You could not do that,

"No," replied John, "but they don't trust him with a

They waited some little time longer, when an Indian
woman, and then an old man, came out, and in about a
quarter of an hour afterward, three more women and an
Indian about twenty years old.

" I think we have the whole force now," said Martin.

"Yes, I think so too," replied Captain Sinclair, "I wish



Malachi would come back, for I do not think he will find out
more than we know ourselves."

In about half-an-hour afterward, Malachi and the Indian
woman returned ; they had crept in the brushwood to within
fifty yards of the lodges, but were afraid to go nearer, as the
woman said that perhaps the dogs might give the alarm ; for
two of them were left at home. The woman stated her con-
viction that the party had not come back, and now a council
was again held as to their proceedings. The Indian force
was nothing an old man, one lad of twenty, and four women.
These might be easily captured and secured, but the question
was whether it would be desirable so to do, as in case one
should by any means escape, information of their arrival
might be conveyed to the absent party, and induce them not
to come home with Mary Percival. This question was debated
in a low tone between Malachi, Captain Sinclair, and Alfred.
At last John interrupted them by saying, "They are going
out to hunt, the old and the young Indian and Percival
they have all their bows and arrows."

" The boy is right," said Malachi. " Well, I consider this
to decide the question. We can now capture the men with-
out the women knowing anything about it. They will not
expect them home till the evening, and even if they do not
come, they will not be surprised or alarmed ; so now we had
better let them go some way, and then follow them. If
we secure them, we can then decide what to do about the

This was agreed upon, and Malachi explained their inten-
tions to the Indian woman, who approved of them, but said,
" The Old Raven (referring to the old Indian) is very cunning ;
you must be careful."

The party remained in their place of concealment for
another quarter of an hour, till the two Indians and Percival
had quitted the open space before the lodges, and had
entered the woods. They then followed in a parallel direc-
tion, Malachi and John going ahead : Martin and Alfred
following so as to keep them in sight, and the remainder of
the party at about the same distance behind Martin and
Alfred. They continued in this manner their course through
the woods for more than an hour, when a herd of deer darted
past Malachi and John. They immediately stopped, and



crouched, to hide themselves. Martin and Alfred perceiving
this, followed their example, and the rest of the party be-
hind, at the motion of the Strawberry, did the same. Hardly
had they done so, when one of the herd, which had been
pierced by an arrow, followed in the direction of the rest,
and after a few bounds fell to the earth. A minute or two
afterward the hunters made their appearance, and stood by
the expiring beast, where they remained for a minute or two
talking, and then took out their knives to flay and cut it up.
While they were thus employed, Malachi and John on one
side, Alfred and Martin from another direction, and the rest
of the party from a third, were creeping slowly up toward
them ; but to surround them completely it was necessary the
main party should divide, and send one or two more to the
eastward. Captain Sinclair despatched Graves and one of
the soldiers, desiring them to creep very softly till they
arrived at a spot he pointed out, and then to wait for the
signal to be given.

As the parties gradually approached nearer and nearer to
the Indians and Percival, the Old Raven appeared to be un-
easy ; he looked round and round him and once or twice laid
his ear on the ground ; whenever he did this, they all
stopped, and almost held their breaths.

" The Indian woman says that the Old Raven is suspicious ;
he is sure that some one is in the woods near him, and she
thinks that she had better go to him," said the Strawberry
to Captain Sinclair.

" Let her go," said Captain Sinclair.

The Indian rose, and walked up in the direction of the
Indians, who immediately turned to her as she approached.
She spoke to them, and appeared to be telling them how it
was that she returned. At all events, she occupied the
attention of the Old Raven till the parties were close to
them, when Malachi arose, and immediately "all the others
did the same, and rushed upon them. After a short and
useless struggle, they were secured, but not before the
younger Indian had wounded one of the soldiers, by stabbing
him with his knife. The thongs were already fast round the
arms and legs of the Indians, when Percival, who had not
been tied, again attempted to escape, and by the direction of
Malachi, he was bound, as well as the other two.



As soon as the prisoners were secured, Martin and Graves
and the soldiers employed themselves cutting up the venison
and preparing it for dinner, while the Strawberry and the
Indian woman were collecting wood for a fire. In the mean-
while Captain Sinclair, Malachi, and John were seated by the
prisoners, and directing their attention to Percival, whom
they had been compelled to bind, that he might not make
his escape ; for his sojourn of nearly two years in the woods
with the Indians, without seeing the face of a white man, had
(as has been invariably proved to be the fact in every in-
stance where the parties were very young) wholly obliterated,
for the time, his recollections of his former life so rapid is
our falling off to the savage state. To the questions of Alfred
he returned no reply, and appeared not to understand him.

" Let me try him, sir," said Malachi, " I will speak to him
in the Indian tongue ; he has perhaps forgotten his own. It's
wonderful how soon we return to a state of nature when we
are once in the woods."

Malachi then spoke to Percival in the Indian language ;
Percival listened for some time, and at last replied in the
same tongue.

"What does he say, Malachi?" said Alfred.

" He says he will sing his own death song ; that he is the
son of a warrior, and he will die like a brave."

"Why, the boy is metamorphosed," said Captain Sinclair;
"is it possible that so short a time could have produced
this ? "

" Yes, sir," replied Malachi ; " in young people a very short
time will change them thus, but it won't last long. If he
were to meet again with his mother at the settlement, he
would by degrees forget his Indian life and become recon-
ciled ; a woman has more effect than a man. Let the
Strawberry speak to him. You see, sir, he is bound, and
considers himself a captive, and let him loose we must not,
until we have done our work ; after that, there will be no
fear, and when he has been with us a short time, he will come
all right again."

Malachi called the Strawberry, and told her to speak to
Percival about his home and his mother, and everything
connected with the farm.

The Strawberry sat down by Percival, and in her soft tones

257 R


talked to him in her own tongue of his father and mother, of
his cousins, and how he had been taken by the Indians when
he was hunting ; how his mother had wept for him, and all
had lamented his loss ; running on in a low musical key from
one thing to another connected and associated with his
former life in the settlement, and it was evident that at last
he now listened with attention. The Strawberry continued
to talk to him thus, for more than an hour, when Alfred again
addressed him and said, " Percival, don't you know me ? "

" Yes," replied Percival in English, "I do ; you are my
brother Alfred."

" All's right now, sir," said Malachi ; " only he must be
kept fast; but the lad's coming to his senses again. The
Strawberry will talk to him again by-and-by."

They then sat down to their meal ; the two Indians were
removed to a distance under the guard of one of the soldiers,
but Percival remained with them. John sat by Percival, and
cutting off a tempting bit of venison, held it to his mouth,
saying to him, " Percival, when we go home again, your hands
shall be untied, and you shall have a rifle of your own instead
of a bow and arrows ; come, eat this."

This was a long speech for John, but it produced its effect,
for Percival opened his mouth for the venison, and being fed
by John, made a very good dinner. As soon as their meal
was over, they consulted as to what steps should next be
taken. The question discussed was whether they should now
capture the women who were left in the lodges, or remain
quiet till the Angry Snake and his party arrived ?

Malachi's opinion was as follows :

" I think we had at all events better wait till to-morrow,
sir ; you see, the women will not be at all surprised at the
hunting party not returning for even a day or two, as they
know that they will not return without game, and may not
find it immediately ; their absence, therefore, will create no
suspicion of our being here. I think we should return to our
former place of concealment, arid watch their motions. There
is no saying when the party with Miss Percival may return ;
they may have arrived while we have been away, or they
may come to-morrow. It will be better, therefore, not to en-
cumber ourselves with more prisoners unless it is necessary."

This opinion was at last assented to, and they set off on



their return to the Indian lodges. They arrived about an
hour before dusk at their hiding-place, having taken the
precaution to gag the two Indians for fear of their giving a
whoop as notice of their capture. Percival was very quiet,
and had begun to talk a little with John.

Scarcely had they been five minutes again concealed among
the spruce fir trees, when they heard a distant whoop from
the woods on the other side of the lodges.

" They are now coming on," said Martin ; " that is their

One of the Indian women from the lodges returned the

" Yes, sir, they are coming," said Malachi. " Pray, Captain
Sinclair, be quiet and sit down ; you will ruin all our plans."

"Down, Sinclair, I beg," said Alfred.

Captain Sinclair, who was very much excited, nevertheless
did as he was requested.

" O Alfred ! " said he ; " she's so near."

" Yes, my good fellow, but if you wish her nearer, you must
be prudent."

" True, very true," replied Captain Sinclair.

In about half-an-hour more, the Angry Snake and his party
were seen to emerge from the woods, and it was perceived
that four of the Indians carried a litter made of branches
between them.

" She could walk no farther, sir," said Malachi to Captain
Sinclair ; " so they are carrying her ; I told you that they
would not hurt her."

" Let me once see her get out of the litter, and I shall be
satisfied," replied Captain Sinclair.

The Indians soon were over the clearing, and stopped at one
of the lodges ; Mary Percival was lifted out, and was seen to
walk with difficulty into the wigwam, followed by two of the
Indian women.

A short parley took place between the Angry Snake and the
other two women, and the chief and rest of the party then went
into another lodge.

"All's right so far, sir," observed Malachi ; "they have left
her to the charge of the two women in a lodge by herself,
and so there will be no fear for her when we make the
attack, which I think we must do very shortly, for if it is



quite dark, some of them may escape, and may trouble us

" Let us do it immediately/' said Captain Sinclair.

" No, not immediately, sir ; we have yet an hour and a half
daylight. We will wait one hour, for I think that as they
have nothing to eat, and are pretty well tired from carrying
Miss Percival, they will, in all probability, go to sleep, as
Indians always do. An hour hence will be the best time for
us to fall upon them."

" You are right, Malachi," replied Alfred. " Sinclair, you
must curb your impatience."

" I must, I believe," replied Captain Sinclair ; " but it will
be a tedious hour for me. Let us pass it away in making our
arrangements ; we have but six to deal with."

"And only two rifles," replied Alfred; "so we are pretty
sure of success."

" We must watch first," said Martin, " to see if they all con-
tinue in the same lodge, for if they divide, we must arrange
accordingly. Who will remain with the prisoners ?"

" I won't," said John, in a positive manner.

"You must, John, if it be decided that you do," said Alfred.

" Better not, sir," replied Malachi ; " for as soon as the boy
hears the crack of the rifles, he will leave his prisoners, and
join us ; that I'm sure of. No, sir, the Strawberry can be left
with the prisoners. I'll give her my hunting-knife ; that will
be sufficient."

They remained for about half-an-hour more watching the

Online LibraryFrederick MarryatPoor Jack; and The settlers in Canada → online text (page 55 of 58)