"I am Thusick, King Philip's daughter," answered the same voice. "I do not hate the white men; they are wise and brave, have taught us many things; therefore I have brought you water, knowing that the fever must be on you." Thusick's voice was gentle, and the hand she laid on his head was wondrous cool and soft, so that a wave of renewed hope and vigour came to Josh, and he said eagerly—
"It is good of you to bring me water, but it were kinder still to unloose my bonds and help me to escape."
It was night, so he could not see how pitiful the dark eyes grew.
"It were useless," she said, "the camp is too well guarded; you could not escape. My father has saved your life; he does not will that you should die, because you were his friend. If you have courage you may live. To-morrow at dawn your bonds will be cut, and you will be brought forth to run the gantlet. If you are swift of foot, and are not beaten down, but reach the King and touch his knees, they will spare you. Three separate times must you run that race, and afterwards you will be adopted by our people, in place of the Black Hawk, whom your men slew to-day; you will take a wife from amongst us, and it will be well with you."
Josh did not, even under present circumstances, see it in the same light as Thusick, but he was young, and the mere chance of life was welcome. He was in no mood to trouble about the future; the present hour was too fraught with anxiety. He knew from hearsay what was meant by the cruel ordeal of the gantlet, and how not one man in ten came forth from it alive, and overpowered as he was with a sense of physical weakness, his heart sank within him.
"This girl has brought me water; surely she could also bring me food to strengthen me," he thought, so he spoke out.