Magua surveyed the grey hair's youngest child as she walked aimlessly along, her only protection a flimsy lace parasol that stood between her and the incessant sun. She was exposed like a young cub testing its newfound independence, just as curious yet completely oblivious to any possible danger that threatened around her. As a hunter of people Magua was a master of self-control and though he craved the taste of her warm heart and the peace it would bring his own, he had waited too long to weaken his revenge now by giving in to sudden impulse. His hardened face twisted into a sneer as she almost collided with a boy pushing a cart of apples, her shy laughter of apology assaulting his senses like poisonous whiskey. She was exactly what he had expected her to be yet the mere sight of her enraged him. In her youthful innocence he saw ignorance. In her luxurious garments he saw the greed and treachery of the white man. In her superficial status he saw the mutilated bodies of his children sprawled on the blood soaked earth they had played upon. His hands un-tensed at the re-assuring thought that soon the time would come when he could finally destroy Munro and all his seed, then maybe his withered heart could find peace, though he knew it was too late for it to ever heal.
Alice Munro wandered serenely along the path from the poltroon's house where she and her sister were staying, dressed prettily in a violet gown bought especially for their summer in the Americas, and holding a white lace parasol daintily aloft. She raised a lace gloved hand to keep the sun from obscuring her view as she approached the main square bustling with local traders selling their wares, children weaving in and out, as groups of ladies stood gossiping behind their fans in the cool shade of the buildings. They had arrived in Albany only a few days before and already Alice felt completely in awe of her new surroundings. How exciting to be in America! She would never have been permitted to wander so freely and un-chaperoned in England! She was fascinated by every detail of this new world, the final civilised outpost before they reached the beckoning wilderness of the frontier. She could not wait to set forth on their adventure into the unknown, secure in the knowledge that their final destination would be the warm welcome of her father's fort, and eventually their return to London society where she would thrill her friends with all she had seen and done. The glorious noon day sun infused her fair skin and honeyed hair as Alice closed her eyes in contentment and imagined all the excitement that lay ahead, beginning with the imminent arrival of Major Duncan Heyward.
As if on cue an impressive red coated figure charged past upon a white steed. He skirted the main square, turning instead in the direction of the poltroon's house. Duncan! She checked her overpowering urge to rush after him, sensitive that he would want to speak to her sister first, as it had been three whole years since he had left to embark on a military career overseas. As much as Alice wanted to shock Duncan by her transformation from a child into a young lady, she regarded him with the affection of an older brother and hoped he would soon become so. She wondered if he planned on proposing to her sister and what Cora might say if he did! Was Duncan what Cora had been waiting for all this while? She had politely refused more than one proposal in his absence. She wished it so for both their sakes, and secretly her own too for Duncan would make a pleasing brother in law. She was suddenly flooded with the embarrassing memory of his last day in England when Duncan had admirably indulged her childish demands for attention whilst endeavouring to impart a sincere farewell to Cora. Her embarrassment faded as her thoughts drifted to Cora and she felt a reassuring squeeze of love for her elder sister. She so admired Cora's outspoken nature and strength of character and frowned with regret that she did not possess such qualities herself. Though she knew if Cora were with her she would only argue that she envied her little sister's kind and loving nature and her sensitivity towards others, and this thought made Alice feel instantly brighter.
She was pulled from her reverie by the dawning realisation that she was being closely watched. She looked about her with curiosity and her dove grey eyes met with a group of young soldiers in regimental uniform who upon being caught ogling her, approached in jovial spirits. They bowed to Alice and she squirmed with mingled embarrassment and delight at being the object of such attention, as one boldly enquired,
'Forgive me Miss. Permit me to kiss the hand of such a beautiful young lady as yourself, for it shall certainly bring me good fortune when we set forth to fight for King and Country.'
She hesitated shyly but it was not in her nature to refuse even a stranger, and so she held out her hand,
'As you wish, and I hope it brings you luck.'
The officer bent to place a kiss upon her hand, then grinned and winked at her before catching up to his departing comrades. Alice walked on blushing, torn between the flattery and discomfort of such an unfamiliar encounter. It amused her to think these young soldiers hadn't a clue they would very likely soon be under the command of her own Papa! Soon she became diverted by the many things for sale, and when she could not contain her excitement a moment longer she returned to the poltroon's house, eager to make a merry party and discuss the journey ahead. As she approached the familiar figures of Cora and Duncan sat together enjoying afternoon tea, Alice sensed the unknown suffusing the air around her, filling her with the youthful anticipation of one who knew her whole life was just about to begin.
He continued to stare as she grew fainter in the distance and then disappeared completely. It would have been so easy to silence her young life, it would already be done. Tomorrow he would have both Munro's cubs under his knife and he would show them the same mercy Munro had shown his own.