Read CHAPTER XXXII of Nick of the Woods, free online book, by Robert M. Bird, on ReadCentral.com.

The following day was one of unusual animation and bustle in the Indian village, as the prisoners could distinguish even from their several places of confinement, without, however, being sensible of the cause. Prom sunrise until after mid-day, they heard, at intervals, volleys of fire-arms shot off at the skirts of the town, which, being followed by shrill halloos as from those who fired them, were immediately re-echoed by all the throats in the village men, women, children, and dogs uniting in a clamour that was plainly the outpouring of savage exultation and delight. It seemed as if parties of warriors, returning victorious from the lands of the Long-knife, were, time after time, marching into and through the village, proclaiming the success of their arms, and exhibiting the trophies of their triumph. The hubbub increased, the shouts became more frequent and multitudinous, and the village for a second time seemed given up to the wildest and maddest revelry, to the sway of unchained demons, or of men abandoned to all the horrible impulses of lycanthropy.

During all this time, the young Virginian lay bound in a wigwam, guarded by a brace of old warriors, who occasionally varied the tedium of watching by stalking to the door, where, like yelping curs paying their respects to passers-by, they up-lifted their voices and vented a yell or two in testimony of their approbation of what was going on without. Now and then, also, they even left the wigwam, but never for more than a few moments at a time; when, having thus amused themselves, they would return, squat themselves down by the prisoner’s side, and proceed to entertain him with sundry long-winded speeches in their own dialect, of which, of course, he understood not a word. Wrapped in his own bitter thoughts, baffled in his last hope, and now grown indifferent what might befall him, he lay upon the earthen floor during the whole day, expecting almost every moment to behold some of the shouting crew of the village rush into the hovel and drag him away to the tortures which, at that period, were so often the doom of the prisoner.

But the solitude of his prison-house was invaded only by his two old jailers; and it was not until nightfall that he beheld a third human countenance. At that period, Telie Doe stole trembling into the hut, bringing him food, which she set before him, but with looks of deep grief and deeper abasement, which he might have attributed to shame and remorse for a part played in the scheme of captivity, had not all her actions shown that, although acquainted with the meditated outrage, she was sincerely desirous to avert it.

Her appearance awakened his dormant spirits, and recalled the memory of his kinswoman, of whom he besought her to speak, though well aware she could speak neither hope nor comfort. But scarce had Telie, more abashed and more sorrowful at the question, opened her lips to reply, when one of the old Indians interposed, with a frown of displeasure, and, taking her by the arm, led her angrily to the door, where he waved her away, with gestures that seemed to threaten a worse reception should she presume to return.

Thus thwarted and driven back again upon his own reflections, Roland gave himself up to despondency, awaiting with sullen indifference the fate which he had no doubt was preparing for him. But he was doomed once more to experience the agitations of hope, the tormentor not less than the soother of existence.

Soon after nightfall, and when his mind was in a condition resembling the hovel in which he lay a cheerless ruin, lighted only by occasional flickerings from a fire of spirit fast smouldering into ashes he heard a step enter the door, and, by and by, a jabbering debate commenced between the newcomer and his guards, which resulted in the latter presently leaving the cabin. The intruder then stepped up to the fire, which he stirred into a flame; and seating himself full in its light, revealed, somewhat to Roland’s surprise, the form and visage of the renegade, Abel Doe, whose acts on the hill-side had sufficiently impressed his linéaments on the soldier’s memory. He eyed the captive for awhile very earnestly, but in deep silence, which Roland himself was the first to break.

To the soldier, however, bent upon preserving the sullen equanimity which was his best substitute for resignation, there was enough in the appearance of this man to excite the fiercest emotions of indignation. Others might have planned the villany which had brought ruin and misery upon his head; but it was Doe who, for the bravo’s price, and with the bravo’s baseness, had set the toils around him, and struck the blow. It was, indeed, only through the agency of such an accomplice that Braxley could have put his schemes into execution, or ventured even to attempt them. The blood boiled in his veins as he surveyed the mercenary and unprincipled hireling, and strove, though in vain, to rise upon his fettered arms, to give energy to his words of denunciation.

“Villain!” he cried, “base, wretched, dastardly caitiff! have you come to boast the fruits of your rascally crime?”

“Right, captain!” replied Doe, with a consenting nod of the head, “you have nicked me on the right p’int: villain’s the true word to begin on; and, perhaps, ’twill be the one to end on: but that’s as we shall conclude about it, after we have talked the matter over.”

“Begone, wretch, trouble me not,” said Roland, “I have nothing to say to you, but to curse you.”

“Well, I reckon that’s natteral enough, too, that cussing of me,” said Doe, “seeing as how I’ve in a manner deserved it. But there’s an end to all things, even to cussing; and, may be, you’ll jist take a jump the other way, when the gall’s over. A friend to-day, an enemy to-morrow, as the saying is; and you may jist as well say it backwards; for, as things turn up, I’m no sich blasted enemy, jist now, no-way no-how. I’m for holding a peace talk, as the Injuns say, d n ’em, burying the axe, and taking a whiff or two at the kinnikinick of friendship. So cuss away, if it will do you good; and I’ll stand it. But as for being off, why I don’t mean it noway. I’ve got a bargain to strike with you, and it is jist a matter to take the tiger-cat out of you, it is, d n it: and when you’ve heard it, you’ll be in no sich hurry to get rid of me. But, afore we begin, I’ve jist got a matter to ax you: and that is, how the h you cleared the old Piankeshaw and his young uns?”

“If you have anything to propose to me,” said Roland, smothering his wrath as well as he could, though scarce hoping assistance or comfort of any kind from the man who had done him so much injury, “propose it, and be brief, and trouble me with no questions.”

“Well now,” said Doe, “a civil question might as well have a civil answer! If you killed the old feller and the young-uns, you needn’t be ashamed of it; for cuss me, I think all the better of you for it; for it’s not every feller can kill three Injuns that has him in the tugs, by no means no-how. But, I reckon, the ramscallions took to the liquor? (Injuns will be Injuns, there’s no two ways about it!) and you riz on ’em, and so paid ’em up scot and lot, according to their desarvings? You couldn’t have done a better thing to make me beholden: for, you see, I had the giving of you up to ’em, and I felt bad, I did, d n me, for I knew the butchers would burn you, if they got you to the Wabash I did, captain, and I had bad thoughts about it. But it was a cussed mad notion of you, following us, it was, there’s no denying! Howsomever, I won’t talk of that. I jist want to ax you where you picked up that Injun-looking feller that was lugging off the gal, and what his natur’? The Injuns say, he’s a conjuror: now I never heerd of conjurors among the whites, like as among the Injuns, afore I cut loose from ’em, and I’m cur’ous on the subject! I jist ax you a civil question, and I don’t mean no harm in it. There’s nobody can make the feller out; and, as for Ralph Stackpole, blast him, he says he never seed the crittur afore in his life!”

“If you would have me answer your question,” said Roland, in whom Doe’s discourse was beginning to stir up many a former feeling, “you must first answer mine. This person you speak of, what is to be his fate?”

“Why, burning, I reckon: but that’s according as he pleases the old Vulture: for, if he can find out what never an Injun Medicine has been able to do, it may be, the old chief will feed him up and make him his conjuror. They say, he’s conjuring with the crittur now.”

“And Stackpole, what will they do with him?”

“Burn him, sartin! They’re jist waiting till the warriors come in from the Licking, where, you must know, they have taken a hundred scalps, or so, at one grab: and then the feller will roast beyond all mention.”

“And I, too,” said the Virginian, with such calmness us he could, “I, too, am to meet the same fate?”

“Most ondoubtedly,” said Doe, with an ominous nod of assent. “There’s them among us that speak well of you, as having heart enough to be made an Injun: but there’s them that have sworn you shall burn; and burn you must! That is, onless ” But he was interrupted by Roland, exclaiming hurriedly,

“There is but one more to speak of my cousin? my poor friendless cousin?”

“There,” said Doe, “you needn’t be afeard of burning, by no means whatsomever. We didn’t catch the gal to make a roast of. She is safe enough; there’s one that will take care of her.”

“And that one is the villain Braxley! Oh, knave that you are, could you have the heart, you who have a daughter of your own, could you have committed her into the arms of such a villain?”

“No, by G , I couldn’t!” said Doe, with great earnestness: “but another man’s daughter is quite another thing. Howsomever, you needn’t take on for nothing; for he means to marry her and take her safe back to Virginny: and, you see, I bargained with him agin all rascality; for I had a gal of my own, and I couldn’t think of his playing foul with the poor creatur’. No, we had an understanding about all that, when we was waiting for you on old Salt. All Dick wants is jist a wife that will help him to them lands of the old major. And that, you see, is jist the whole reason of our making the grab on you.”

“You confess it, then!” cried Roland, too much excited by the bitterest of passions to be surprised at the singular communicativeness of his visitor: “you sold yourself to the villain for gold! for gold you hesitated not to sacrifice the happiness of one victim of his passions, the life of another! Oh, basest of all that bear the name of man, how could you do this villany?”

“Because,” replied Doe, with as much apparent sincerity as emphasis, “because I am a d d rascal: there’s no sort of doubt about it; and we won’t be tender the way we talk of it. I was an honest man once, captain, but I am a rascal now; warp and woof, skin-deep and heart-deep, ay, to the bones and marrow, I am all the way a rascal! But don’t look as if you was astonished already. I come to make a clean breast of all sorts of matters, jist, captain, for a little bit of your advantage and my own: and there’s things coming that will make you look a leetle of a sight wilder! And, first and foremost, to begin. Have you any particular longing to be out of this here Injun town, and well shut of the d d fire torture?”

“Have I any desire to be free! Mad question!”

“Well, captain, I’m jist the man, and the only one, that can help you; for them that would, can’t, and them that can, won’t. And, secondly and lastly, captain, as the parsons say in the settlements, have you any hankering to be the master of the old major, your uncle’s lands and houses?”

“If you come to mock and torture me,” said Roland, but was interrupted by the renegade.

“It is jist to save you from the torture,” said he, “that I’m now speaking; for, cuss me, the more I think of it, the more I can’t stand it no-how. I’m a rascal, captain, but I’m no tiger-cat, especially to them that hasn’t misused me, and there’s the grit of a man about you that strikes my feelings exactly. But, you see, captain, there’s a bargain first to be struck between us, afore I comes up to the rack but I’ll make tarms easy.”

“Make them what you will, and But, alas! where shall I find means to repay you? I who am robbed of everything?”

“Didn’t I say I could help you to the major’s lands and houses? and a’n’t they a fortun’ for an emperor?”

“You! you help me? help me to them?”

“Captain,” said the renegade, with sundry emphatic nods of the head, “I’m a sight more of a rascal than you ever dreamed on! and this snapping of you up by Injun deviltry, that you think so hard of, is but a small part of my misdoings: I’ve been slaving agin you this sixteen years, more of less, slaving (that’s the word, for I made a niggur of myself) to rob you of these here very lands that I’m now thinking of helping you to! You don’t believe me, captain! Well, did you ever hear of a certain honest feller of old Augusta, called John Atkinson?”

“Hah!” cried the soldier, looking with new eyes upon the renegade; “you are then the fellow upon whose perjured testimony Braxley relied to sustain his frauds?”

“The identical same man, John Atkinson, or Jack, as they used to call me; but now Abel Doe, for convenience sake,” said the refugee, with great composure; “and so, now, you can see into the whole matter. It was me that had the keeping of the major’s daughter that you knows of. Well, I was an honest feller in them days, I was, captain, by G !” repeated the fellow with something that sounded like remorseful utterance, “and jist as contented in my cabin on the mountain as the old major himself in his big house at Felhallow. But Dick Braxley came, d n him, and there was an end of all honest doings: for Dick was high with the old major, and the major was agin his brothers; and says Dick, says he, ’Put but this little gal,’ meaning the major’s daughter, ’out of the way and I’m jist as good as the major’s heir; and I’ll make your fortun’”

“Ay! and it was he then, the villain himself,” cried Roland, “who devised this horrible iniquity, which, by innuendo at least, he charged upon my father! You are a rascal indeed! And you murdered the poor child?”

“Murdered! No, rat it, there was no murdering in the case: it was jist hiding in a hole, as you may call it. We burned down the wigwam, and made on as if the gal was burned in it; and then I stumped off to the Injun border, among them that didn’t know me, and according to Dick’s advice, helped myself to another name, and jist passed off the gal for my own daughter.”

“Your own daughter!” cried Roland, starting half up, but being unable to rise on account of his bonds: “the story then is true! and Telie Doe is my uncle’s child, the lost heiress?”

“Well, supposing she is?” said Atkinson, “I reckon you’d not be exactly the man to help her to her rights?”

“Ay, by Heaven, but I would though!” said Roland, “if rights they be. If my uncle, upon knowledge that she was still alive, thought fit to alter his intentions with regard to Edith and myself, he would have found none more ready to acknowledge the poor girl’s claims than ourselves, none more ready to befriend and assist her.”

“Well! there’s all the difference between being an honest feller and a rascal!” muttered Atkinson, casting his eyes upon the fire, which he fell to studying for a moment with great earnestness. Then starting up hastily, and turning to the prisoner he exclaimed

“There’s not a better gal in the etarnal world! You don’t know it, captain; but that Telie, that poor critter that’s afeard of her own shadow, did run all risks, and play all manner of fool’s tricks, to save you from this identical same captivation; and the night you was sleeping at Bruce’s fort, and we waiting for you at the ford, she cried, and begged, and prayed that I would do you no more mischief; and, cuss her, she threatened to tell you and Bruce, there, the whole affair of the ambush; till I scared her with my tomahawk, like a d d rascal as I am (but there’s nothing will fetch her round but fear of murdering); and so swore her to keep silence. And then, captain, her running away after you in the woods, why, it was jist to circumvent us, to lead you to the t’other old road, and so save you; it was, captain, and she owned it: and if you’d a’ taken to her leading, as she axed you, she’d ‘a’ got you out of the snarl altogether. Howsomever, captain,” he continued, after making those admissions, which solved all the enigmas of Telie’s conduct, “I won’t lie in this matter no-how. The gal is no gal of the major’s, but my own flesh and blood: the major’s little critter sickened on the border, and died off in less than a year; and so there was all our rascally burning and lying for nothing; for, if we had waited a while, the poor thing would have died of her own accord. Well, captain, I’m making a long story about nothing: but the short of it is, I didn’t make a bit of a fortun’ at all, but fell into troubles; and the end was, I turned Injun, jist as you see me; and a feller there, Tom Bruce, took to my little gal out of charity; and so she was bred up a beggar’s brat, with everybody a jeering of her, because of her d d rascally father. And, you see, this made a wolf of me; for I couldn’t bring her among the Injuns, to marry her to a cussed niggur of a savage, no, captain, I couldn’t; for she’s my own natteral flesh and blood, and, captain, I love her! And so I goes back to Virginny, to see what Braxley could do for her; and there, d n him, he puts me up to a new rascality; which was nothing less than setting up my gal for the major’s daughter, and making her a great heiress, and marrying of her. Howsomever, this wouldn’t do, this marrying; for, first, Dick Braxley was a bigger rascal than myself, and it was agin my conscience to give him the gal, who was a good gal, deserving of an honest husband; and, next the feller was mad after young madam, and there was no telling how soon he might p’ison my gal, to marry the other. And so we couldn’t fix the thing then to our liking, no way; but by and by we did. For when the major died, he sends for me in a way I told him of; and here’s jist the whole of our rascality. We was, in the first place, jist to kill you off ”

“To kill me, villain!” cried Roland, whose interest was already excited to the highest pitch by the renegade’s story.

“Not exactly with our own hands; for I bargained agin that: but it was agreed you should be put out of the way of ever returning agin to Virginny. Well, captain, Dick was then to marry the young lady; and then jist step into the major’s estate by virtue of the major’s will, the second one you must know, which Dick took good care to hide away, pretending to suppose the major had destroyed it.”

“And that will,” exclaimed Roland, “the villain, the unparalleled villain is still possessed of!”

“No, rat him, the devil has turned upon him at last, and it is in better hands!” said Atkinson; and without more ado, he drew the instrument from his bosom and unfolded it before Roland’s astonished eyes. “Read it,” said Doe, with exulting voice: “I can make nothing of the cursed pot-hooks myself, having never been able to stand the flogging of a school-house; but I know the fixings of it, the whole estate devised equally to you and the young woman, to be divided according as you may agree of yourselves, a monstrous silly way, that; but there’s no helping it.”

And holding it before the Virginian, in the light of the fire, the latter satisfied himself at a glance that Atkinson had truly reported its contents. It was written with his uncle’s own hand, briefly but clearly; and while manifesting throughout, the greatest affection on the part of the testator toward his orphan niece, it contained no expressions indicative either of ill-will to his nephew or disapprobation of the part the young man had chosen to play in the great drama of revolution. And this was the more remarkable as it was dated at a period soon after Roland had so wilfully, or patriotically, fled to fight the battles of his country, and when it might have been supposed the stern old loyalist’s anger was at its height. A better and more grateful proof that the young man had neither lost his regard nor confidence, was shown in a final codicil, dated in the year of Roland’s majority, in which he was associated with Braxley as executor, the latter worthy having been made to figure in that capacity alone, in the body of the will.

“This is indeed a discovery!” cried Roland, with the agitation of joy and hope. “Cut my bonds, deliver me, with my cousin and companions, and the best farm in the manor shall reward you: nay, you shall fix your own terms for your daughter and yourself.”

“Exactly,” said Atkinson, who, although the prisoner was carefully bound, exhibited a jealous disinclination to let the will come near his hands, and now restored it carefully to his own bosom; “we must talk over that matter of tarms, jist to avoid mistakes. And to begin, captain, I will jist observe, as before, that if you don’t take my offer, and close with me hard and fast, you will roast at an Injun stake jist as sartainly as you are now snugging by an Injun fire; you will, d n me, there’s no two ways about it!”

“The terms, the terms?” cried Roland, eagerly: “name them; I will not dispute them.”

But the renegade was in no such hurry.

“You see,” said he, “I’m a d d rascal, as I said; and in this matter, I am just as much a rascal as before, for I’m playing foul with Braxley, having bargained to work out the whole thing in his sarvice. Howsomever, there is a kind of fair play in cheating him, seeing it was him that made a rascal of me. And moresomever, I have my doubts of him, and there’s no way I can hold him up to a bargain. And, lastly, captain, I don’t see how he can be of any sarvice to my gal! He can’t marry her if he would; and if he could, he shouldn’t have her; and as for leaving her to his tender mercies, I would jist as soon think of hunting her up quarters in a bear’s den. And as for keeping her among these d d brutes, the Injuns for brutes they are captain, there’s no denying it ”

“Why need you speak of it more? I will find her a home and protection, a home and protection for both of you.”

“As for me, captain, thanking’ you for the favour, you won’t do me no sich thing, seeing as how I don’t look for it. There’s two or three small matters agin me in the Settlements, which it is no notion of mine to bring up for reckoning. The gal’s the crittur to be protected; and I’ll take my pay out chiefly in the good you do to her; and for the small matters, not meaning no offence, I can trust best to her; for she’s my daughter, and she won’t cheat me. Now, captain, a better gal than Telie her true name’s Matilda, but she never heard anything of it but Telie a better gal was never seen in the woods, for all she’s young and timorsome; and it’s jist my notion and my desire, that, whatever may become of me, nothing but good shall become of her. And now, captain, here’s my tarms; I’ll cut you loose from Injun tugs and Injun fires, carry you safe to the Settlements, and give you this here precious sheepskin, which is jist as much as saying I’ll make you the richest man, in farms, flocks, and niggurs, in all Virginny; and you shall marry the gal, and make a lady of her!”

“Marry her!” cried Roland, in amazement and consternation, “marry her!”

“Ay, captain! that’s the word,” said Atkinson: “I have an idea you’ll make her a good husband, for you’re an honest feller, and a brave one I’ll say that for you; and she’ll make you a good wife, or I’ll give you my scalp on it. I reckon the crittur has a liking for you already; for I never did see any body so beg, and plead, and take on for mortal feller. Marry her’s the tarms; and, I reckon, you’ll allow, they’re easy ones?”

“My good friend, you are surely jesting!” said the Virginian. “I will do for her whatever you can wish, or demand. The best farm in the whole estate shall be hers, and the protection of my kinswoman will be cheerfully and gratefully granted.”

“As for jesting, captain,” said the renegade, with a lowering brow, “there’s not one particle of it about me, from top to toe. I offer you a bargain that has all the good on your side; and I reckoned you’d ‘a’ jumped at it with a whole hoss-load of thank’ees. I offer you a gal that’s the best gal in the whole eternal wood; and I reckon you may count all that this here sheepskin will bring you as jist so much dowry of my giving. A’n’t that making tarms easy? for, as for the small matters for myself, them is things I will come upon the gal for, without troubling you for ’em. Now you see, captain, I’ll ’jist argue the matter. You may reckon it strange I should make you such an offer; and ondoubtedly, so it is. But here’s the case. First, captain, I’m agin burning you; it makes. me oneasy, to think of it for you ha’n’t done me no harm, and you’re a young feller of the rale Virginny grit, jist after my own heart, and I takes to you. And, next, captain, there’s the gal a good gal, captain, that’s desarving of all I can do for her, and a heap more. But, captain, what’s to become of the crittur when I’am done for? You see, some of these cussed Injuns or it may be the white men, for they’re all agin me will take the scalp off me some day, sooner or later, there’s no two ways about it. Well, then, what’s to become of the poor gal, that ha’n’t no friend in the big world to care for her? Now, you see, I’m thinking of the gal, and I’m making the bargain for her; and I made it in my own mind jist the minute I seed you were a captive among us, and laid my hand on this here will. Said I to myself, ’I’ll save the youngster, and I’ll marry my gal to him, and there’s jist two good things I’ll do for the pair of ’em!’ And so, captain, there’s exactly the end of it. If you’ll take the gal, you shall have her, and you’ll make three different critturs greatly beholden to you: first, the gal, who’s a good gal, and a comely gal, and will love and honor you jist as hard as the best madam in the land; next, myself, that am her father, and longs to give her to an honest feller, that won’t misuse her, and, last, your own partickelar self; for the taking of her is exactly the only way you have of gitting hack the old major’s lands, and what I hold to be jist as agreeable, dragging clear of a hot Injun fire that will roast you to cinders if you remain in this d d village two days longer!”

“My friend,” cried Roland, driven to desperation, for he perceived Atkinson was making his extraordinary proposal in perfectly good faith and simplicity, as a regular matter of matter of business, “you know not what you ask. Free me and my kinswoman ”

“As for young madam there,” interrupted the renegade, “don’t be at all oneasy. She’s in good hands, I tell you; and Braxley’ll fetch her straight off to Virginny as soon as he has brought her to reason.”

“And your terms,” said Roland, smothering his fury as he could, “imply an understanding that my cousin is to be surrendered to him?”

“Ondoubtedly,” replied Doe; “there’s no two ways about it. I work on my own hook, in the matter of the fortun’ ’cause how, Dick’s not to be trusted where the play’s all in his own hands; but as for cheating him out of the gal, there’s no manner of good can come of it, and it’s clear agin my own interest. No, captain, here’s the case; you takes my gal Telie, and Braxley takes the t’other; and so it’s all settled fair between you.”

“Hark you, rascal!” cried Roland, giving way to his feelings; “if you would deserve a reward, you must win it, not by saving me, but my cousin. My own life I would buy at the price of half the lands which that will makes me master of for the rescue of Edith from the vile Braxley I would give all. Save her save her from Braxley and then ask me what you will.”

“Well,” said Atkinson, “and you’ll marry my gal?”

“Death and furies! are you besotted? I will enrich her ay, with the best of my estate with all she shall have it all.”

“And you won’t have her, then?” cried the renegade, starting up in anger: “you don’t think her good enough for you, because you’re of a great quality stock, and she’s come of nothing but me, John Atkinson, a plain back-woods feller? Or mayhap,” he added, more temperately, “you’re agin taking her because of my being sich a d d notorious rascal? Well, now, I reckon that’s a thing nobody will know of in Virginny, unless you should tell it yourself. You can jist call her Telie Jones, or Telie Small, or any nickname of that natur’, and nobody’ll be the wiser; and I shall jist say nothing about it myself I won’t, captain, d n me; for it’s the gal’s good I’m hunting after, and none of my own.”

“You are mad, I tell you,” cried the soldier. “Fix your own terms for her: I will execute any instrument, I will give you any bond ”

“None of your cussed bonds for me,” said Doe, with great contempt; “I knows the worth of ’em, and I’m jist lawyer enough to see how you could git out of ’em, by swearing they were written under compulsion, or whatsomever you call it. And, besides, who’s to stop your cheating the gal that has nobody to take care of her, when you gits her in Virginny, where I darn’t follow her? No, captain, there’s jist but the one way to make all safe and fair; and that’s by marrying her. So marry her, captain; and jist to be short, captain, you must marry her or burn, there’s no two ways about it. I make you the last offer; there’s no time for another; for to-morrow you must be help’d off, or it’s too late for you. Come, captain, jist say the word marry the gal, and I’ll save you.”

“You are mad, I tell you again. Marry her I neither can nor will. But ”

“There’s no occasion for more,” interrupted Doe, starting angrily up. “You’ve jist said the word, and that’s enough. And now, captain, when you come to the stake, don’t say I brought you there: no, d n it, don’t for I’ve done jist all I could do to help you to life and fortun’ I have, d n me, you can’t deny it.”

And with these words, uttered with sullen accents and looks, the renegade stole from the hut, disregarding all Roland’s entreaties to him to return, and all the offers of wealth with which the latter, in a frenzy of despair, sought to awaken his eupidity and compassion. The door-mats had scarce closed upon his retreating figure before they were parted to give entrance to the two old Indians, who immediately assumed their positions at his side, preserving them with vigilant fidelity throughout the remainder of the night.