"I dreamed I was sore hurt, and that she was binding up my bruises and crying over me." "'Twas no dream," I said; and with that I went to help Yeates make a bough shelter for the women while Uncanoola was grinding the maize for the breakfast cakes. 'Tis not my purpose to weary you with a day-by-day accounting for all that befell us on the way back to Mecklenburg.
Before he could twist to face me the point of the Ferara was at his back. Luckily, he had the wit not to move. "No kill Uncanoola," he muttered, this without the stirring of a muscle. Then, as if he were talking to the horse: "White squaw, she send 'um word; say 'good by." My point dropped as if another blade had parried the thrust. "Mistress Margery, you mean? Do you come from her?"
"Well, now; I'll be daddled if this here ain't about the beatin'est thing I ever chugged up ag'inst," was the old borderer's comment, when we had flogged our wits to small purpose in the search for some clue to the mystery. "What's your mind about it, hey, Chief?" Uncanoola shook his head. "Heap plenty slick. No go up-stream, no go down, no cross over, no go back. Mebbe go up like smoke w'at?"
So, when Uncanoola drew forth his tobacco pipe and made the three doomed ones sit with him in the path to smoke the peace-whiff all around, we picked out each his man and smote to slay.
'Tis some dodge-hole hollowed out by the Catawbas long ago and shared since by them and the bears, judging from the stinking reek of it. Uncanoola steered me hither the night of the raid." "Then the chief came off safely?" I said, falling into a dumb and impotent rage that the saying of two words should scant me so of strength to say a third. "Right as a trivet scalps and all," laughed Jennifer.
We marched in Indian file, Ephraim Yeates in the lead, Uncanoola at his heels, and the two of us heavier-footed ones bringing up the rear. Knowing the wooded wilderness by length and breadth, the old man held on through thick and thin, straight as an arrow to the mark; and so we had never a sight of the road again till we came out upon it suddenly at the ford of violence.
And you may believe the welcome tears came to ease the pain of my seared eyes when my poor lad I had thought him gone past human help took two staggering steps and flung his arms about my neck. Uncanoola gave us no time to come by easy stages to full-wit sanity. In a twinkling he had pounced upon us to crush us one upon the other behind the larger tree.
I took the river for it, meaning to outlie until the hue and cry was over; and just at dusk Uncanoola dropped upon me and told me of your need. From that to helping him cut you out of your raffle with the Cherokees was but a hand's turn in the day's work." "A lucky turn for me," I said; and then at second thought I would deny the saying, though not for him to hear.
Here, as I imagine, I looked all the questions that lacked answers; for Captain Forney took it in hand to fit them out with explications. "'Tis Uncanoola, the Catawba," he said; "one of the friendlies. He was out a-scouting last night and came in an hour before daybreak with the news that Colonel Tarleton was set upon hanging a spy of ours. From that to our little ambushment "
If Uncanoola were the bearer of the parchment, he would surely know to whom he had been sent. His burrow in the leaf bed chanced to be next to mine, and I could hear his steady breathing, light and long-drawn, like that of some wild creature as, truly, he was sleeping with all the senses alert to spring awake at a touch or the snapping of a twig.