Page:Yule Logs.djvu/296

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280
A NEW ENGLAND RAID

growth, waded across streams, then bounding over a high barrier, was drawn suddenly up, almost on to his haunches, and so stopped short. Josh would have been done to death, scalped then and there, but for his captor, to whom, according to the laws of war, he belonged solely. The natives leaped and yelled around them as the chief flung himself to the ground, spoke a few words to them which elicited shouts of delight, and strode away. Amidst loud jeering and yells, to say nothing of two or three heavy blows, Josh was overthrown, his limbs bound with strong reeds, and in this helpless condition he was dragged some distance and thrust into an empty hut. He lay for a time insensible from the ill-usage and blows he had received; but gradually he recovered consciousness, and the horror of his position rushed upon him. He knew that, as a prisoner, he would be subject to frightful tortures before he was even allowed to die—surely it was a refinement of cruelty to have spared his life!

As the cold dews of night crept on, strong man as he was, he shivered, and the smarting of his wounds, the soreness of his bruises, became almost intolerable. It was many hours also since he had tasted food. That did not trouble him; as a hunter he was accustomed to long fasts. But his thirst was growing more and more intense, his lips were parched, his tongue clave to the roof of his mouth. To add to his misery, as he lay on the damp ground, he could see the fires of his enemies, and hear their unearthly deafening yells, as they feasted and made merry. Once, nay, twice, he tried to break his bonds; but it was useless, they were too tightly woven. Probably from sheer exhaustion he dropped asleep. Surely he was dreaming, for he felt a hand laid upon him and heard a voice whisper, "Fear not, but drink;" then his head was raised, a gourd put to his lips; he drank eagerly a long draught of pure water, and sank back refreshed.

"Who are you?" he asked.