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The White Squaw   By: (1818-1883)

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The White Squaw By Captain Mayne Reid Illustrations by Anon Published by George Routledge and Sons. This edition dated 1875. The White Squaw, by Captain Mayne Reid.

THE WHITE SQUAW, BY CAPTAIN MAYNE REID.

CHAPTER ONE.

A DEADLY INTRODUCTION.

The last golden gleams of the setting sun sparkled across the translucent waters of Tampa Bay. This fading light fell upon shores fringed with groves of oak and magnolia, whose evergreen leaves became gradually darkened by the purple twilight.

A profound silence, broken by the occasional notes of a tree frog, or the flapping of the night hawk's wings, was but the prelude to that wonderful concert of animated nature heard only in the tropical forest.

A few moments, and the golden lines of trembling light had disappeared, while darkness almost palpable overshadowed the scene.

Then broke forth in full chorus the nocturnal voices of the forest.

The mocking bird, the whip poor will, the bittern, the bell frog, grasshoppers, wolves, and alligators, all joined in the harmony incident to the hour of night, causing a din startling to the ear of a stranger.

Now and then would occur an interval of silence, which rendered the renewal of the voices all the more observable.

During one of these pauses a cry might have been heard differing from all the other sounds.

It was the voice of a human being, and there was one who heard it.

Making his way through the woods was a young man, dressed in half hunter costume, and carrying a rifle in his hand. The cry had caused him to stop suddenly in his tracks.

After glancing cautiously around, as if endeavouring to pierce the thick darkness, he again advanced, again came to a stop, and remained listening. Once more came that cry, in which accents of anger were strangely commingled with tones appealing for help.

This time the sound indicated the direction, and the listener's resolution was at once taken.

Thrusting aside the undergrowth, and trampling under foot the tall grass, he struck into a narrow path running parallel to the shore, and which led in the direction whence the cry appeared to have come.

Though it was now quite dark, he seemed easily to avoid impediments, which even in broad daylight would have been difficult to pass.

The darkness appeared no barrier to his speed, and neither the overhanging branches, nor the wood bine roots stayed his progress.

About a hundred paces further on, the path widened into a rift that led to an opening, sloping gradually down to the beach.

On reaching its edge, he paused once more to listen for a renewal of the sound.

Nothing save the familiar noises of the night greeted his ear.

After a short pause, he kept on for the water's edge, with head well forward, and eyes strained to penetrate the gloom.

At that moment the moon shot out from behind a heavy bank of clouds, and, with a brilliant beam, disclosed to his eager gaze a tableau of terrible interest.

Down by the water's edge lay the body of an Indian youth, motionless, and to all appearance dead; while stooping over it was another youth, also an Indian. He appeared to be examining the body.

For some seconds there was no change in his attitude. Then, all at once he raised himself erect, and with a tomahawk that flashed in the moonlight above his head, appeared in the act of dealing a blow.

The hatchet descended; but not upon the body that lay prostrate.

A sharp report ringing on the air for an instant silenced all other sounds. The would be assassin sprang up almost simultaneously, and two corpses instead of one lay along the earth.

So thought he who fired the shot, and who was the young man already described. He stayed not to speculate, but rushed forward to the spot where the two Indians lay. He had recognised them both... Continue reading book >>




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