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Even if he summoned Oracus and all his braves, would they be strong enough to break down that door of iron, or cut the chains asunder! Charles, in his desperation, resolved to rescue the beloved ones or die in the effort. He went away weeping.
He did not return home. That home was desolate, lonely and so like the tomb, that he dared not go near it. At the home of his kind friend, he wrote to relatives at New Plymouth, Boston, New York, Virginia and the Carolinias. To all he appealed for help, for Charles was determined to move heaven and earth or rescue his mother and Cora; but he did not depend on those distant relatives and friends so much as the dusky friends in the forest. He knew that before answers could come to his letters, he would be dead, or would have succeeded in his efforts. Even if he should be killed in an abortive attempt, however, he hoped that his relatives would resume the warfare for the prisoners.
“Where is Cora's father?” he asked himself. “Could I but find the Waters brothers, I would have two friends and allies to aid me. Oh, Heaven, give me light! Give me light!”
Charles Stevens, like all true Christians, in this dark hour went to God for aid. Kneeling, he prayed as he had never prayed before. He seemed to take hold of the throne of grace and, with a
faith strengthened and renewed, drew inspiration for his desperate resolve from the only living fountain. Armed with his rifle and pistols, he left the village and went into the forest. The forest inspires man with reverence and love for God. The giant trees, the deep glens, the moss and ferns and cool shades seem to breathe of eternity. Charles Stevens had always loved the dark old woods, and never had they seemed so friendly as on this occasion, when they screened him from the frowns of man. Solitude offered him its charms.
The zephyrs sought to soothe his sorrows by their gentle whispers, and the birds sang for the peace of his troubled spirit, while the babbling brooks strove to make him gay; but who can be gay when loved ones are menaced with a terrible danger? Charles Stevens saw little of the beauty of nature. His eyes were searching the forests for dusky forms, which he hoped to meet. Those dusky sons of the forest were not often desirable sights; but Charles was as anxious to see the feathers and painted faces of these heathens, as if they were brothers.
He spent the day in wandering through the woods, forgetting to take any nourishment, for he had brought no food with him, and, in fact, he had not thought to eat since the arrest of his mother and Cora.
He was weak and faint, and his hands trembled. He was not hungry; but his strength was giving way, and he realized that he had been foolish not to provide himself with food.
Evening came, and he sank down on the mossy banks of a stream and took a few draughts of water to revive him. The stars came out one by one.
By the merest chance, he raised his despairing eyes and, gazing across the stream to the woods beyond, saw a light. Charles struggled to his feet and gazed like one to whom life has suddenly been restored.
“Perhaps it is Indians!”
He plunged into the creek, waded across and started through the woods toward the light. It was much further away than he had at first supposed, and he was several minutes in reaching the
Ten dusky sons of the forest were seated about the camp fire, while two men in the garb of civilization were roving about. Charles felt some misgivings at first on discovering men of his own color
He crawled from tree to tree, from log to bush, until he was near enough to see the features of the men. When he first got within sight they stood with their backs toward him and he could not see their faces; but at last one turned
in the camp.
about so that the glare of the fire-light fell full on his face, and, with a cry of joy, Charles Stevens bounded to his feet, crying:
« Mr. Waters! Mr. Waters!” and dashed toward
A pair of strong arms encircled his waist, and the young man heard a voice say:
“White man go too soon!”
He had been seized by a sentry; but Mr. Waters and Oracus hastened to him, and he was released. The other white man was the brother of Mr. Waters, and Charles, bewildered, overjoyed, yet faint and weak, was half led and half carried to
He found himself making hurried explanations, while a savage was broiling venison steaks before the fire for him.
“We know all,” said Mr. George Waters.
“What! do you know they have been cried out upon ?" asked Charles.
“We have heard it all,” said Mr. Waters, calmly.
“How could you have heard it?" asked Charles.
"We have faithful friends, who inform us of everything."
“Were you going to take action for their rescue?” asked Charles.
“We were concerting plans when you came; but you must have food.”
Charles Stevens gazed on the calm face of the man before him, and could but wonder at his coolness.
“Mr. Waters, do you know that your own daughter is one of the accused ?”
"I know all."
“How can you be so calm, knowing all as you do?"
“I am calm for my daughter's sake. The only hope of liberating her, of saving her life, is by cool, deliberate and well matured plans.”
“Are your plans formed ?”
“On to-morrow night. Oracus will have all his warriors ready by that time, and we will require crow-bars, hammers and axes, to break in the door of the jail. Meanwhile, if you expect to aid us, you will have to take some refreshments, food and drink, and get some sleep. You don't look as if you had slept for weeks.”
“I scarcely have.”
your mother, you should give the full strength of body and mind to ber rescue."
Charles ate some broiled venison and went to sleep.