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The Pathfınder - Chapter 13

The Pathfınder - Chapter 13

                                           The ship was under what seamen call low sail

PART I

 

As the light of day returned, Pathfinder and Cap again went up to the roof to examine the state of things on the island. From this position they had a good view, not only of the island, but also of the channels connecting Station Island with the other islands which lay near it. After a few minutes, Cap cried out:
 
“Sail, ho!”
 
Pathfinder turned in the direction his companion pointed. There, sure enough, was the object mentioned-a sail. The ship was under what seamen call low sail, but so great was the power
 
of the wind, that her white form could be seen flying past the openings between the various islands.
 
“That cannot be Jasper,” said Pathfinder, for he did not rec­ognize the ship of his friend in the rapidly moving object. “No, no—that is some boat which the French have sent to help their friends, the Mingos.”
 
“This time you are wrong in your figuring, friend Pathfinder,” answered Cap, “even if you never were before. Fresh water or salt, I know my ships, and that is the main sail of the Scud. I remember thinking that it was cut in a very unusual way.”
 
“I can see none of this, I admit,” answered Pathfinder.
 
“No—well, that surprises me. I thought your eyes could see anything. Now, nothing is clearer to me than the special cut of that sail; and I must say, my honest friend, that in your place, I would worry about my eyesight.”
 
“If Jasper is really coming, I shall not worry about anything. We can make good the fort against the whole Mingo tribe for the next eight or ten hours. With Jasper to cover our escape we will need nothing more. Let us hope that God will not permit him to run against the bank, or to fall into enemy hands, as did the sergeant and his party.”
 
“Yes, there’s the danger. There should have been some signs put up to guide boats coming in here. A satisfactory landing place should also have been built. If the boy draws up, as you say, anywhere alongside the island, then the boat is lost to us. Still, after all, Master Pathfinder, shouldn’t we set down this same Jasper as a secret friend of the French rather than a friend of ours? I know the sergeant views the matter in that light; and you must admit that someone betrayed us to the enemy.”
 
“We shall soon know, we shall soon know, Master Cap. There comes the ship clear of the other island, and five minutes will decide the matter. It would be no more than fair, however, if we could warn the boy by some sign or other. It is not right that he should fall into Mingo hands without some notice that they are lying in wait for him.”
 
Yet it was not easy to see how this could be done. The Scud came driving through the channel, on the far side of the island, at a speed that hardly admitted of the necessary time. Nor was there anyone on the deck to make a sign to; the whole ship ap-
 
peared deserted, and no one seemed even to-be steering the boat.
 
Cap stood in silent admiration of a sight so unusual. But as the Scud drew nearer, his experienced eye saw that the ship was steered by a series of ropes, though the person doing the steer­ing remained well hidden. The whole mystery was thus ex­plained by the fact that those on board apparently wished to protect themselves from the rifles of the enemy. It also became clear that no force beyond the small crew could be on board, a fact which gave Pathfinder some reason for concern.
 
“This proves that the Serpent has not reached Oswego, and that w'e are not to expect help from there. On the other hand, we three, Master Cap, should be able to put up a good fight: you, as a seaman to keep in touch with the boat, Jasper as a man of the lakes who knows all that is necessary to be done on the water, and I, with my skills on land and with the rifle, that are as good as any among the Mingos. I say we should put up a good fight and protect dear Mabel.”
 
“We should, and we will,” answered Cap. “By the way, this Jasper seems a careful young fellow in any case. He keeps well away from the shore, and seems decided to know how matters stand before daring to bring in the ship.”
 
“I have it! I have it!” cried Pathfinder happily. “There lies the canoe of the Serpent on the boat’s deck, and the chief has got on board, and no doubt explained our situation.”
 
“That canoe may belong to the Scud," said Cap. “Jasper had one on board when we sailed.”
 
“very  true, friend Cap, but if you know your sails and masts, I know my canoes and paths. If you can see new material in a sail, I can see new bark in a canoe. That is the canoe of the Serpent, and the noble fellow struck off for Oswego as soon as he found the island under attack, fell in with the Scud, and after telling his story, has brought the ship down here to see what can be done. The Lord grant that Jasper Western be still on board her.”
 
“Yes, yes, it might be best; for, whether treacherous or true to our side, the young man knows how to handle a ship in a wind, it must be admitted.”
 
The wind, it is true, was blowing strongly. Many of the smal­ler trees bowed their tops. The air was filled with leaves which,
 
at the late season, were readily driven from their branches and flew like so many wild birds. Otherwise, the place was silent. That the savages still remained was to be shown by the fact that their canoes, together with the boats 
of the 55th, lay in a little group at the landing place, not far from the fort.
 
The Indians themselves remained well hidden. Though taken by surprise at the appearance of the Scud, the moment an alarm was given every Indian had taken to his cover with the speed of an animal running for his hole. The fact that there was no sign of any life at all on the Scud seemed to confuse as well as to impress them greatly.
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. What could the men see from the roof of the fort?
2. What did Cap see coming toward them?
3. Why was Cap sure that it was the Scud?
4. What dangers were they afraid of?
5. Why couldn’t they warn the Scud?
6. How was the ship being steered?
7. What did Pathfinder see on the deck of the Scud?
8. How did Pathfinder know that the canoe was the Serpent’s?
9. Was there a strong or weak wind blowing?
10. What showed that the Indians still remained?
11. How had the Indians reacted to the appearance of the Scud?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your
own:
cry   out                            lie in wait                          
worry about                      on the other hand
make good                        keep in touch with 
after al                               take by surprise
 
PART II
 
Meanwhile, the ship made rapid speed. Not more than ten minutes had passed from the time when her sails were first seen, when she moved down the channel that led by the fort. Cap and Pathfinder leaned forward as the ship drew near them, eager
cry out worry about make good after all
 
to get a better view of her decks. To their great pleasure, Jasper Western suddenly jumped to his feet and gave three loud cheers. Regardless of all risk, Cap jumped upon the low wall of logs that ran around the roof and answered Jasper, cheer for cheer. Fortunately, the enemy still lay quiet and not a rifle was fired. Pathfinder, as usual, was more careful, yet he called out to Jas­per:
 
“Stand by us, boy, and the day’s our own. Give them a round of cannon fire and you’ll raise them like birds out of those bushes.”
 
Part of this reached Jasper’s ears, but part was carried off by the wind as the Scud drove past and in the next moment was hidden from view by the trees that covered the island.
 
The next few minutes were difficult ones. Soon, however, the sails of the Scud were seen again as Jasper, making free use of the strong wind, was able to turn and to circle the island. He moved up the far side of the island as before. Then he swung around and came down again, in the direction of the fort. For a moment, Cap and Pathfinder feared that he meant to make a landing; and the savages in their covers looked out with the strong hope that this was his intention.
 
But Jasper had other plans. Familiar with the shore, and well aware of the depth of the water on every part of the island, he knew that the Scud could be brought in close to the bank with­out danger. He therefore moved in so close to the landing place that, as he passed, he swept the two boats of the soldiers from their fastenings, and forced them out into the channel. As all the canoes were fastened to the two Dunham boats, this brave move cut off the savages from all means of leaving the island, except by swimming. And they seemed to be aware of this important fact. Rising in a body, they filled the air with cries and poured out rifle fire—without any result.
 
As the enemy was exposed in this way, two other rifles spoke out. One of these was Pathfinder’s from the roof of the fort—and one Indian fell dead in his tracks. The other was the rifle of the Delaware, but less sure than that of his friend, he only wounded one of the enemy. The people on the Scud shouted, and the savages sank again from sight.
 
“That was the Serpent’s voice,” said Pathfinder as soon as the second rifle was fired. “I know the sound of his gun as well as that of Killdeer. Well, well, with Chingachgook and Jasper on the water, and you and I in the fort, Master Cap, it will be very strange if we don’t teach these Mingo devils a good lesson.”
 
All this time the Scud was in motion. As soon as she had reached the end of the island, Jasper let his prizes float away, and they went down before the wind until they grounded at a point about a half mile away. He then turned the ship around and followed the same course he had taken earlier. Those on the roof of the fort could now see that something was taking place on the deck of the Scud. To their great delight, just as the ship drew near again to the spot where most of the enemy lay, the single cannon on her deck was uncovered and a round of shot sent into the bushes.
 
A flock of wild birds could not have risen more quickly than the frightened Iroquois. A second savage fell from a bullet sent out by Killdeer and another was wounded by a shot from the rifle of Chingachgook. New covers were immediately found by the Indians, but another round of fire from the S.cud sent them all flying again. Other Indians fell, and the enemy finally under­stood that the battle was not equal.
 
It was not long before Lieutenant Muir, in the company of the French officer bearing a white flag, appeared before the fort. This was the beginning of a conversation which soon brought final peace to the island.
 
The conversation took place directly in front of the fort and those representing the enemy were completely under the aim of Pathfinder’s rifle. The Scud also lay nearby and Jasper kept the cannon trained on the group.
 
“You’ve won, Pathfinder,” called out Lieutenant Muir. “And Captain Sanglier has come himself to offer terms. You will surely permit a brave enemy to leave the island in a way which becomes their honor and high position. I have been asked to offer, on the part of the enemy, the following: they will leave the island at once and will return to you all prisoners—and also scalps, if desired. Since no material things have been captured by either side, there is little more that can be done.”
 
“What do you say to that, Jasper?” called out Pathfinder, in
 
the direction of the Scud. Jasper had been listening carefully and had caught most of what had been said. Since Cap and Path­finder were still in their original position on the roof, the con­versation had been carried on in loud voices. “You hear their terms. Shall we let the devils go? Or shall we mark them as they mark animals on a farm, so that we may know them again?” 
 
“What has happened to Mabel Dunham?” asked Jasper. “If a hair on her head has been touched, it will go hard with the whole Iroquois tribe.”
 
“She is safe below, taking care of her dying father.”
 
“She is here,” cried out Mabel herself, who had come up on the roof when she heard what was going on. “She is here, and in the name of God, let there be no more fighting, no more blood spilled. Enough has been done already. If these men will go away, Pathfinder, if they will leave in peace, Jasper, do not stop them. My poor father is dying, and it is better if he leaves this world quietly. Go, go, Frenchmen and Indians. We are no longer your enemies and will harm none of you.”
 
Charles Cap felt that the enemy should be punished in some way for the suffering they had caused. Yet Pathfinder seemed to agree with Mabel. “Yes,” said Pathfinder. “I think Mabel is right. Enough blood has been spilled to answer our purpose and to serve the King. There is more honor in doing what is right than in doing what is wrong. I think it wrong to take the life even of a Mingo without some useful purpose in view. So, Lieutenant Muir, let us know what your friends, the French and the Indians, have to say for themselves.”
 
“My friends?” said Muir, starting. “You’ll not be calling the King’s enemies my friends, Pathfinder, just because the fortunes of war have thrown me into their hands! Master Cap, there, knows that we did everything possible to escape.”
 
“Yes,” answered Cap drily. “Escape is the right word. We ran and hid ourselves like animals in a hole. And how the devil you knew so well where to find the spot is still a wonder to me.”
 
The conversation continued in this manner, but final terms were finally agreed upon. All of the savages were then brought together at a distance of some several hundred feet from the fort, where they were forced to give up their arms, including their knives and tomahawks.
 
The English prisoners taken by the Indians were set free and brought to the fort. When these men appeared, it was found that four of them were unhurt; they had fallen simply to save their live, when their party was fired upon. Of the rest, two were only sligh ly wounded, so that they still could serve. As all of these men brought their rifles with them, this addition to his forces made Pathfinder feel much safer. The arms of the enemy were then placed in the fort, the men were directed to take possession of the building, and a guard was stationed at the door.
 
As soon as Jasper was acquainted with these terms, he got the Scud under way. Running down to the point where the boats had grounded, he gathered them all together and brought them back to the fort again. The savages were then allowed to enter their canoes, with only one paddle for each boat. Soon they all set off toward the Canadian shore.
 
Captain Sanglier, the French officer, and Arrowhead were the only ones from among the enemy who remained behind on the island. The captain had certain papers to draw up and sign with Pathfinder and Lieutenant Muir. Arrowhead, for reasons of his own, preferred not to leave in the company of his friends. Two canoes were set aside in which these men were to leave later.
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. How did J asper and Cap greet each other?
2. What did Pathfinder tell Jasper to do?
3. Why didn’t J asper hear all of this?
4. What did the Scud do?
5. What did Pathfinder fear and the Indians hope?
6. What did Jasper do when he passed the landing place?
7. 7. What happened when the Indians were exposed?
8. What did the Scud do the next time it passed the island?
9. Why did the Indians realize the battle wasn’t equal?
10. Who appeared with a white flag?
11. What terms did the French offer?
12. Why did Mabel say that they should accept the terms?
13. What made Pathfinder feel much safer?
14. What did J asper do when he heard the terms?
15. Who among the French party remained? How were they to leave?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
 
regardless    nearby
depth             terms
sweep            spill
motion            gather
delight           li quiet
 flock                be able to
equal             draw near