The Settlers in Canada
Chapter XXXVIII Percival Transformed
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 Snake.
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 days 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 discovery. Shortly afterwards
Malachi and the Indian woman, creeping on all fours, disappeared in the
surrounding brushwood, 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
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 leggings and
Indian shirt of deer-skin, and carried in his hand his bow and arrows.
An eagles feather was stuck in his hair above the left ear, which
marked him as the son of a chief.
Thats my brother Percival, said John in a low tone.
Percival! replied Alfred, is it possible?
Yes, whispered the Strawberry, it is Percival, but dont speak so
Well, they have turned him into a regular Indian, said Alfred; we
shall have to make a paleface 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 arrow
brought the bird down at his feet.
capital shot, said Captain Sinclair, the boy has learnt something, at
all events. You could not do that, John.
No, replied John, but they dont trust him with a rifle.
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 afterwards, three
more women and an Indian about twenty years old.
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
about half-an-hour afterwards, 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
conviction that the party had not come back, and now a council was again
held as to their proceedings. The Indian force was nothingan 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 him by
saying, They are going out to hunt, the old and the young Indian and
Percivalthey 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 without 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 women.
This was agreed upon, and Malachi explained their intentions 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 direction, 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 behind, 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
afterwards 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 towards
them; but to surround them completely it was necessary that 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.
the parties gradually approached nearer and nearer to the Indians and
Percival, the Old Raven appeared to be uneasy, he looked round and round
him, and once or twice laid his ear to 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 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.
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, Alfred, 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 instance where the parties were very young) wholly
obliterated, for the time, his recollections of his former lifeso 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 Injun
tongue, he has perhaps forgotten his own. It is 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 wont last long. If he were to meet again with
his mother at the settlement, he would by degrees forget his Injun life
and become reconciled; 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 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, dont
you know me?
Yes, replied Percival in English, I do; you are my brother Alfred.
Alls right now, sir, said Malachi; only he must be kept fast; but
the lads coming to his senses again. The Strawberry will talk to him
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.
Malachis opinion was as follows:
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, and 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 encumber 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 signal.
One of the Indian women from the lodges returned the whoop.
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
Oh, Alfred! said he; shes so near.
Yes, my good fellow, but if you wish her nearer, you must be prudent.
True, very true, replied Captain Sinclair.
about half an hour more, the Angry Snake and his party were soon 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.
Alls 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 afterwards.
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 Injuns always do. An hour hence will be the
beat time for us to fall upon them.
You are right, Malachi, replied Alfred. Sinclair, you must curb your
must, I believe, replied Captain Sinclair; but it will be a tedious
hour for me. Let us pass it away in making out arrangements; we have but
six to deal with.
And only two rifles, replied Alfred; so we are pretty sure of
We must watch first, said Martin, to see if they all continue in the
same lodge, for if they divide we must arrange accordingly. Who will
remain with the prisoners?
wont, said John, in a positive manner.
You must, John, if it is 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 Im
sure of. No, sir, the Strawberry can be left with the prisoners. Ill
give her my hunting-knife; that will be sufficient.
They remained for about half-an-hour more watching the lodges, but
everything appeared quiet, and not a single person came out. Having
examined the priming of their rifles, every man was directed to take up
a certain position, so as to surround the buildings and support each
other. John was appointed to the office of looking after his cousin
Mary, and preventing the women from escaping with her from the lodge in
which she was confined; and John took this office willingly, as he
considered it one of importance, although it had been given him more
with a view that he might not be exposed to danger. Leaving the
prisoners to the charge of the Strawberry, who, with her knife drawn,
stood over them, ready to act upon the slightest attempt of escape on
their part, the whole party now crept softly towards the lodges by the
same path as had been taken by Malachi and the Indian woman.
soon as they had all arrived they waited for a few minutes while Malachi
reconnoitred, and when they perceived that he did so, they all rose up
and hastened to their allotted stations round the lodge into which the
Angry Snake and his followers had entered. The Indians appeared to be
asleep, for everything remained quiet.
Let us first lead Miss Percival away to a place of safety, whispered
Do you do it, then, said Alfred; there are plenty of us without you.
Captain Sinclair hastened to the lodge in which Miss Percival had been
placed, and opened the door. Mary Percival, as soon as she beheld
Captain Sinclair, uttered a loud scream of delight, and, rising from the
skins on which she had been laid, fell upon his neck. Captain Sinclair
caught her in his arms, and was bearing her out of the lodge, when an
Indian woman caught him by the coat; but John, who had entered, putting
the muzzle of his rifle into their faces, they let go and retreated, and
Captain Sinclair bore away Mary in his arms into the brushwood, where
the Strawberry was standing over the Indian prisoners. The scream of
Mary Percival had roused the Indians, who, after their exhaustion and
privations, were in a sound sleep; but still no movement was to be heard
in the lodge, and a debate between Malachi and Alfred whether they
should enter the lodge or not, was put an end to by a rifle being fired
from the lodge, and the fall of one of the soldiers, who was next to
Alfred. Another shot followed, and Martin received a bullet in his
shoulder, and then out bounded the Angry Snake, followed by his band,
the chief whirling his tomahawk and springing upon Malachi, while the
others attacked Alfred and Martin, who were nearest to the door of the
lodge. The rifle of Malachi met the breast of the Angry Snake as he
advanced, and the contents were discharged through his body. The other
Indians fought desperately, but the whole of the attacking party closing
in, they were overpowered. Only two of them, however, were taken alive,
and these were seriously wounded. They were tied and laid on the ground.
He was a bad man, sir, said Malachi, who was standing over the body of
the Indian chief; but he will do no more mischief.
Are you much hurt, Martin? inquired Alfred.
No, sir, not much; the ball has passed right through and touched no
bone; so I am in luck. Ill go to the Strawberry, and get her to bind it
He is quite dead, sir, said Graves, who was kneeling by the side of
the soldier who had been shot by the first rifle.
Poor fellow! exclaimed Alfred. Well, Im not sorry that they
commenced the attack upon us, for I do not know whether I could have
used my rifle unless they had done so.
They never expected quarter, sir, said Malachi.
suppose not. Now, what are we to do with the women? They can do no
Not much, sir; but at all events, we must put it out of their power. We
must take possession of all the weapons we can find in the lodges. We
have their two rifles; but we must collect all the bows and arrows,
tomahawks, and knives, and either destroy or keep possession of them.
John, will you look to that? Take Graves with you.
Yes, replied John, who, with Graves, immediately commenced his search
of the lodges.
The two women, who had been in the lodge with Mary Percival, had
remained where they were, as Johns rifle had kept them from leaving the
lodge; but the other two had escaped into the woods during the affray.
This was of little consequence; indeed, the others were told that they
might go away, if they would; and, as soon as they heard this from
Malachi, they followed the example of their companions. John and Graves
brought out all the arms they could find, and Malachi and Alfred then
went to the bushes to which Mary Percival and Sinclair had previously
retired. Alfred embraced his cousin, who was still too greatly agitated
to say much, being almost overpowered by the sudden transition in all
her thoughts and feelings:and, in the variety of her emotions, perhaps
the most bewildering was that occasioned by the re-appearance of
Percival,like a restoration from the dead. Alfred was in consultation
with Malachi, when he perceived the flames bursting out of the lodges.
Martin, as soon as his wound was dressed, had returned and set fire to
Its all right, sir, said Malachi; it will leave the proof of our
victory, and be a caution to other Injuns.
But what will become of the women?
They will join some other band, sir, and tell the story. It is better
that they should.
And our prisoners, what shall we do with them?
Release them; by-and-bye, sir, we shall have nothing to fear from them,
but we will first take them two or three days march into the woods, in
case they have alliance with any other band whom they might call to
And the wounded Indians?
Must be left to Providence, sir. We cannot take them. We will leave
them provisions and water. The women will come back and find them; if
they are alive they will look after them; if dead, bury them. But here
comes John, with some bears-skins which he has saved for Miss Mary;
that was thoughtful of the boy. As soon as the flames are down, we will
take up our quarters in the clearing, and set a watch for the night; and
to-morrow, with the help of God, we will commence our journey back. We
shall bring joy to your father and mother, and the sooner we do it the
better; for they must be anything but comfortable at our long absence.
Yes, said Mary Percival; what a state of suspense they must be in!
Truly, as the Bible saith, Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.
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