This is not a birthday ficlet. It's not even in the Buffy fandom. An odd little piece of exactly 1,000 words. A tale of mystery...
The canoe smashed into the rocks with great force. Chingachgook braced himself against the side and managed to stay in the vessel. Alice hung onto his beaverskin coat and was able to save herself. Hawkeye leaped from the canoe’s prow, his rifle Killdeer held aloft to protect it from the water, and landed on a rock. From there he vaulted to the shore, laid the rifle down in a safe and dry place, and turned to assist his comrades.
Cora was less fortunate. She was flung over the side and disappeared into the raging torrent. Uncas dived after her, pulled her to the surface, and swam towards dry land with powerful strokes. He made it to the edge of the water, Cora clinging to his neck, and grasped Hawkeye’s outstretched hand. With the assistance of the scout the soaking pair made it to terra firma.
Chingachgook threw the supplies, rifles, and tomahawks onto the shore and then helped Alice onto the rocks. The old warrior then leaped lightly ashore. He scooped up his rifle and looked around. “This is strange,” he said. “There should not be any such island in Lake Ontario.”
Hawkeye frowned. “I don’t rightly know where we are,” he said. “That was a mighty fierce current. Never encountered anything like that on a lake before.”
Uncas squeezed water out of his breech-clout. “There must have been a flood on the Niagara river,” he suggested. “A mighty rush of water spilling out into the lake and sweeping us away. Is this truly an island? Mayhap we have been driven onto the opposite shore.”
“Well, the only way to find out is to walk along the shore and see where it takes us,” said Hawkeye.
“I fear I am in no fit state for such an expedition, Mister Bumpo,” Cora said. “I am soaked to the very skin.”
“Oh, Cora, you will catch your death of cold,” Alice fluttered. “Light a fire that she may get warm and dry, Mister Bumpo.”
“I don’t reckon that would be safe,” Hawkeye said. “Not with a howling mob of Hurons on our trail. We’d be telling them where we are. I reckon we’d best be moving. Happen you’ll dry out on the march, Miss Munro.”
Cora looked down at her sodden clothes ruefully. “I think there is wisdom in your suggestion, Mister Bumpo. Yet walking in such damp garments will not be pleasant. Still, it cannot be helped.”
The bedraggled band set off. They had been trekking for a quarter of an hour when there was a rustling in the bushes inland. Hawkeye, Uncas, and Chingachgook raised their rifles. The rustling drew nearer. Suddenly a monstrous white creature rushed out, fangs bared, and charged towards the party.
Uncas and Chingachgook fired their rifles. Red blotches appeared on white fur and the creature staggered but kept on coming. Hawkeye’s Killdeer crashed out. His shot hit directly between the eyes and the beast fell to the ground. It shuddered briefly and then lay still.
“By all that’s holy, it’s a white bear,” Hawkeye exclaimed. “Ain’t never seen a white bear before.”
“There are such bears in the lands of the Micmac to the north,” Chingachgook told him. “They can hide in the snow. I too have never seen one.”
“That hide would be worth a fair sum in gold,” Hawkeye mused. “Can’t see how we’d carry it, though. I guess we’ll just have to leave it and press on.” He reloaded his rifle and they set off once more.
Chingachgook raised a hand in warning. “Smoke signals,” he announced. “Someone else is here.”
Uncas frowned at his father. “I cannot read the message,” he said. “It is not Iroquois, nor is it the signals of the Lenni Lenape, nor of the Wyandotte whom the British term Hurons.”
They watched warily as puffs of smoke rose above the trees. A group of four puffs, then eight, fifteen, sixteen, twenty-three and finally a long stream of forty-two blobs of grey smoke. There was a pause, in which no smoke could be seen at all, and then four more puffs rose up and the sequence was repeated.
“Seems to me that’s some kind of military signal,” said Hawkeye. “It might be the French. We’d better step careful.”
The little expedition proceeded warily but they saw no sign of any humans. They passed by the source of the smoke signals and came upon a trapdoor made of logs, set into the sandy ground, surrounded by a sturdy wooden frame.
Hawkeye examined it cautiously. “Don’t seem like French work to me,” he said. “Maybe it’s a supply store.” The three men set to work and levered it open. Below it they found a shaft descending into the earth. A ladder was fastened to the sides of the shaft, but the wood had rotted. “Ain’t trusting myself to that,” Hawkeye decided, and they pressed on.
An hour later they found themselves walking along a rocky shore that looked familiar. Ahead of them they saw the wreckage of their canoe. They were indeed upon an island, and they had circumnavigated it.
“Best think about making some kind of a camp,” Hawkeye declared.
Uncas pointed along the shore. “Look! There is a man on the beach.”
A red-coated figure lay at the edge of the water. They rushed to him, and discovered a British soldier unconscious on the shingle. They pulled him further onto the shore. As they were doing so the man groaned and opened his eyes.
“Why, I recognise him,” Alice exclaimed. “It is Major Duncan Heyward. Father must have sent him to look for us.”
“Alice!” the major cried. “I have found you. Alas, I have lost my canoe and my supplies. My rescue is a failure.” He looked at the others. “Miss Cora,” he acknowledged. “Who are your companions?”
“Natty Bumpo, the scout, known as Hawkeye,” Cora introduced the frontiersman. She gestured towards the other two men. “And these are Chingachgook and Uncas. The Lost of the Mohicans.”