Part 11 out of 11
the Hurons have not found it, on account of their ignorance?"
"I have told you, chief, that it would be useless to state my rank
and residence, in as much as you would not comprehend them. You
must trust to your eyes for this knowledge; what red man is there
who cannot see? This blanket that I wear is not the blanket of a
common squaw; these ornaments are such as the wives and daughters
of chiefs only appear in. Now, listen and hear why I have come
alone among your people, and hearken to the errand that has brought
me here. The Yengeese have young men, as well as the Hurons; and
plenty of them, too; this you well know."
"The Yengeese are as plenty as the leaves on the trees! This every
Huron knows, and feels."
"I understand you, chief. Had I brought a party with me, it might
have caused trouble. My young men and your young men would have
looked angrily at each other; especially had my young men seen that
pale-face bound for the torture. He is a great hunter, and is much
loved by all the garrisons, far and near. There would have been
blows about him, and the trail of the Iroquois back to the Canadas
would have been marked with blood."
"There is so much blood on it, now," returned the chief, gloomily,
"that it blinds our eyes. My young men see that it is all Huron."
"No doubt; and more Huron blood would be spilt had I come surrounded
with pale-faces. I have heard of Rivenoak, and have thought it
would be better to send him back in peace to his village, that he
might leave his women and children behind him; if he then wished
to come for our scalps, we would meet him. He loves animals made
of ivory, and little rifles. See; I have brought some with me to
show him. I am his friend. When he has packed up these things
among his goods, he will start for his village, before any of my
young men can overtake him, and then he will show his people in
Canada what riches they can come to seek, now that our great fathers,
across the Salt Lake, have sent each other the war hatchet. I will
lead back with me this great hunter, of whom I have need to keep
my house in venison."
Judith, who was sufficiently familiar with Indian phraseology,
endeavored to express her ideas in the sententious manner common to
those people, and she succeeded even beyond her own expectations.
Deerslayer did her full justice in the translation, and this so much
the more readily, since the girl carefully abstained from uttering
any direct untruth; a homage she paid to the young man's known aversion
to falsehood, which he deemed a meanness altogether unworthy of a
white man's gifts. The offering of the two remaining elephants,
and of the pistols already mentioned, one of which was all the worse
for the recent accident, produced a lively sensation among the Hurons,
generally, though Rivenoak received it coldly, notwithstanding the
delight with which he had first discovered the probable existence
of a creature with two tails. In a word, this cool and sagacious
savage was not so easily imposed on as his followers, and with a
sentiment of honor that half the civilized world would have deemed
supererogatory, he declined the acceptance of a bribe that he felt
no disposition to earn by a compliance with the donor's wishes.
"Let my daughter keep her two-tailed hog, to eat when venison
is scarce," he drily answered, "and the little gun, which has two
muzzles. The Hurons will kill deer when they are hungry, and they
have long rifles to fight with. This hunter cannot quit my young
men now; they wish to know if he is as stouthearted as he boasts
himself to be."
"That I deny, Huron -" interrupted Deerslayer, with warmth - "Yes,
that I downright deny, as ag'in truth and reason. No man has heard
me boast, and no man shall, though ye flay me alive, and then roast
the quivering flesh, with your own infarnal devices and cruelties!
I may be humble, and misfortunate, and your prisoner; but I'm no
boaster, by my very gifts."
"My young pale-face boasts he is no boaster," returned the crafty
chief: "he must be right. I hear a strange bird singing. It has
very rich feathers. No Huron ever before saw such feathers! They
will be ashamed to go back to their village, and tell their people
that they let their prisoner go on account of the song of this
strange bird and not be able to give the name of the bird. They
do not know how to say whether it is a wren, or a cat bird. This
would be a great disgrace; my young men would not be allowed to
travel in the woods without taking their mothers with them, to tell
them the names of the birds!"
"You can ask my name of your prisoner," returned the girl. "It is
Judith; and there is a great deal of the history of Judith in the
pale-face's best book, the Bible. If I am a bird of fine feathers,
I have also my name."
"No," answered the wily Huron, betraying the artifice he had so long
practised, by speaking in English with tolerable accuracy, "I not
ask prisoner. He tired; he want rest. I ask my daughter, with
feeble mind. She speak truth. Come here, daughter; you answer.
Your name, Hetty?"
"Yes, that's what they call me," returned the girl, "though it's
written Esther in the Bible."
"He write him in bible, too! All write in bible. No matter- what
"That's Judith, and it's so written in the Bible, though father
sometimes called her Jude. That's my sister Judith. Thomas Hutter's
daughter -Thomas Hutter, whom you called the Muskrat; though he
was no muskrat, but a man like yourselves - he lived in a house on
the water, and that was enough for you."
A smile of triumph gleamed on the hard wrinkled countenance of the
chief, when he found how completely his appeal to the truth-loving
Hetty had succeeded. As for Judith, herself, the moment her sister
was questioned, she saw that all was lost; for no sign, or even
intreaty could have induced the right feeling girl to utter a
falsehood. To attempt to impose a daughter of the Muskrat on the
savages as a princess, or a great lady, she knew would be idle,
and she saw her bold and ingenious expedient for liberating the
captive fail, through one of the simplest and most natural causes
that could be imagined. She turned her eye on Deerslayer, therefore,
as if imploring him to interfere to save them both.
"It will not do, Judith," said the young man, in answer to this
appeal, which he understood, though he saw its uselessness; "it
will not do. 'Twas a bold idea, and fit for a general's lady, but
yonder Mingo" Rivenoak had withdrawn to a little distance, and was
out of earshot - "but yonder Mingo is an oncommon man, and not to
be deceived by any unnat'ral sarcumvention. Things must come afore
him in their right order, to draw a cloud afore his eyes! Twas
too much to attempt making him fancy that a queen, or a great lady,
lived in these mountains, and no doubt he thinks the fine clothes
you wear is some of the plunder of your own father - or, at least,
of him who once passed for your father; as quite likely it was, if
all they say is true."
"At all events, Deerslayer, my presence here will save you for a
time. They will hardly attempt torturing you before my face!"
"Why not, Judith? Do you think they will treat a woman of the
pale faces more tenderly than they treat their own? It's true that
your sex will most likely save you from the torments, but it will
not save your liberty, and may not save your scalp. I wish you had
not come, my good Judith; it can do no good to me, while it may do
great harm to yourself."
"I can share your fate," the girl answered with generous enthusiasm.
"They shall not injure you while I stand by, if in my power to
prevent it -besides -"
"Besides, what, Judith? What means have you to stop Injin cruelties,
or to avart Injin deviltries?"
"None, perhaps, Deerslayer," answered the girl, with firmness, "but
I can suffer with my friends - die with them if necessary."
"Ah! Judith - suffer you may; but die you will not, until the
Lord's time shall come. It's little likely that one of your sex
and beauty will meet with a harder fate than to become the wife
of a chief, if, indeed your white inclinations can stoop to match
with an Injin. 'Twould have been better had you staid in the Ark,
or the castle, but what has been done, is done. You was about to
say something, when you stopped at 'besides'?"
"It might not be safe to mention it here, Deerslayer," the girl
hurriedly answered, moving past him carelessly, that she might speak
in a lower tone; "half an hour is all in all to us. None of your
friends are idle."
The hunter replied merely by a grateful look. Then he turned
towards his enemies, as if ready again to face their torments. A
short consultation had passed among the elders of the band, and by
this time they also were prepared with their decision. The merciful
purpose of Rivenoak had been much weakened by the artifice of
Judith, which, failing of its real object, was likely to produce
results the very opposite of those she had anticipated. This was
natural; the feeling being aided by the resentment of an Indian who
found how near he had been to becoming the dupe of an inexperienced
girl. By this time, Judith's real character was fully understood,
the wide spread reputation of her beauty contributing to the
exposure. As for the unusual attire, it was confounded with the
profound mystery of the animals with two tails, and for the moment
lost its influence.
When Rivenoak, therefore, faced the captive again, it was with
an altered countenance. He had abandoned the wish of saving him,
and was no longer disposed to retard the more serious part of the
torture. This change of sentiment was, in effect, communicated to
the young men, who were already eagerly engaged in making their
preparations for the contemplated scene. Fragments of dried wood
were rapidly collected near the sapling, the splinters which it
was intended to thrust into the flesh of the victim, previously to
lighting, were all collected, and the thongs were already produced
that were again to bind him to the tree. All this was done in
profound silence, Judith watching every movement with breathless
expectation, while Deerslayer himself stood seemingly as unmoved as
one of the pines of the hills. When the warriors advanced to bind
him, however, the young man glanced at Judith, as if to enquire
whether resistance or submission were most advisable. By a significant
gesture she counselled the last, and, in a minute, he was once more
fastened to the tree, a helpless object of any insult, or wrong,
that might be offered. So eagerly did every one now act, that
nothing was said. The fire was immediately lighted in the pile,
and the end of all was anxiously expected.
It was not the intention of the Hurons absolutely to destroy the
life of their victim by means of fire. They designed merely to
put his physical fortitude to the severest proofs it could endure,
short of that extremity. In the end, they fully intended to carry
his scalp with them into their village, but it was their wish
first to break down his resolution, and to reduce him to the level
of a complaining sufferer. With this view, the pile of brush and
branches had been placed at a proper distance, or, one at which
it was thought the heat would soon become intolerable, though it
might not be immediately dangerous. As often happened, however,
on these occasions, this distance had been miscalculated, and the
flames began to wave their forked tongues in a proximity to the face
of the victim, that would have proved fatal, in another instant,
had not Hetty rushed through the crowd, armed with a stick, and
scattered the blazing pile in a dozen directions. More than one
hand was raised to strike this presumptuous intruder to the earth,
but the chiefs prevented the blows, by reminding their irritated
followers of the state of her mind. Hetty, herself, was insensible
to the risk she ran, but, as soon as she had performed this bold
act, she stood looking about her, in frowning resentment, as if to
rebuke the crowd of attentive savages for their cruelty.
"God bless you, dearest sister, for that brave and ready act!"
murmured Judith, herself unnerved so much as to be incapable of
exertion -"Heaven, itself, has sent you on its holy errand."
"'Twas well meant, Judith -" rejoined the victim - "'twas excellently
meant, and 'twas timely; though it may prove ontimely in the ind!
What is to come to pass, must come to pass soon, or 'twill quickly
be too late. Had I drawn in one mouthful of that flame in breathing,
the power of man could not save my life, and you see that, this
time, they've so bound my forehead, as not to leave my head the
smallest chance. 'Twas well meant, but it might have been more
marciful to let the flames act their part."
"Cruel, heartless Hurons!" exclaimed the still indignant Hetty -
"Would you burn a man and a Christian, as you would burn a log of
wood! Do you never read your Bibles? Or do you think God will
forget such things?"
A gesture from Rivenoak caused the scattered brands to be collected.
Fresh wood was brought, even the women and children busying themselves
eagerly, in the gathering of dried sticks. The flame was just
kindling a second time, when an Indian female pushed through the
circle, advanced to the heap, and with her foot dashed aside the
lighted twigs in time to prevent the conflagration. A yell followed
this second disappointment, but when the offender turned towards
the circle, and presented the countenance of Hist, it was succeeded
by a common exclamation of pleasure and surprise. For a minute,
all thought of pursuing the business in hand was forgotten. Young
and old crowded around the girl, in haste to demand an explanation
of her sudden and unlooked-for return. It was at this critical
instant that Hist spoke to Judith in a low voice, placed some small
object unseen in her hand, and then turned to meet the salutations
of the Huron girls, with whom she was personally a great favorite.
Judith recovered her self possession, and acted promptly. The
small, keen edged knife that Hist had given to the other, was
passed by the latter into the hands of Hetty, as the safest and
least suspected medium of transferring it to Deerslayer. But the
feeble intellect of the last defeated the well-grounded hopes of
all three. Instead of first cutting loose the hands of the victim,
and then concealing the knife in his clothes, in readiness for
action at the most available instant, she went to work herself,
with earnestness and simplicity, to cut the thongs that bound his
head, that he might not again be in danger of inhaling flames. Of
course this deliberate procedure was seen, and the hands of Hetty
were arrested, ere she had more than liberated the upper portion of
the captive's body, not including his arms below the elbows. This
discovery at once pointed distrust towards Hist, and to Judith's
surprise, when questioned on the subject, that spirited girl was
not disposed to deny her agency in what had passed.
"Why should I not help the Deerslayer?" the girl demanded, in the
tones of a firm minded woman. "He is the brother of a Delaware
chief; my heart is all Delaware. Come forth, miserable Briarthorn,
and wash the Iroquois paint from your face; stand before the Hurons
the crow that you are. You would eat the carrion of your own dead,
rather than starve. Put him face to face with Deerslayer, chiefs
and warriors; I will show you how great a knave you have been
keeping in your tribe."
This bold language, uttered in their own dialect and with a manner
full of confidence, produced a deep sensation among the Hurons.
Treachery is always liable to distrust, and though the recreant
Briarthorn had endeavoured to serve the enemy well, his exertions
and assiduities had gained for him little more than toleration. His
wish to obtain Hist for a wife had first induced him to betray her,
and his own people, but serious rivals to his first project had
risen up among his new friends, weakening still more their
sympathies with treason. In a word, Briarthorn had been barely
permitted to remain in the Huron encampment, where he was as closely
and as jealously watched as Hist, herself, seldom appearing before
the chiefs, and sedulously keeping out of view of Deerslayer, who,
until this moment, was ignorant even of his presence. Thus summoned,
however, it was impossible to remain in the back ground. "Wash the
Iroquois paint from his face," he did not, for when he stood in the
centre of the circle, he was so disguised in these new colours, that
at first, the hunter did not recognise him. He assumed an air of
defiance, notwithstanding, and haughtily demanded what any could say
"Ask yourself that," continued Hist with spirit, though her manner
grew less concentrated, and there was a slight air of abstraction
that became observable to Deerslayer and Judith, if to no others
-"Ask that of your own heart, sneaking woodchuck of the Delawares;
come not here with the face of an innocent man. Go look into the
spring; see the colours of your enemies on your lying skin; then
come back and boast how you run from your tribe and took the blanket
of the French for your covering! Paint yourself as bright as the
humming bird, you will still be black as the crow!"
Hist had been so uniformly gentle, while living with the Hurons,
that they now listened to her language with surprise. As for the
delinquent, his blood boiled in his veins, and it was well for the
pretty speaker that it was not in his power to execute the revenge
he burned to inflict on her, in spite of his pretended love.
"Who wishes Briarthorn?" he sternly asked - "If this pale-face is
tired of life, if afraid of Indian torments, speak, Rivenoak; I
will send him after the warriors we have lost."
"No, chiefs - no, Rivenoak -" eagerly interrupted Hist - "Deerslayer
fears nothing; least of all a crow! Unbind him - cut his withes,
place him face to face with this cawing bird; then let us see which
is tired of life!"
Hist made a forward movement, as if to take a knife from a young
man, and perform the office she had mentioned in person, but an aged
warrior interposed, at a sign from Rivenoak. This chief watched
all the girl did with distrust, for, even while speaking in her
most boastful language, and in the steadiest manner, there was an
air of uncertainty and expectation about her, that could not escape
so close an observer. She acted well; but two or three of the old
men were equally satisfied that it was merely acting. Her proposal
to release Deerslayer, therefore, was rejected, and the disappointed
Hist found herself driven back from the sapling, at the very moment
she fancied herself about to be successful. At the same time, the
circle, which had got to be crowded and confused, was enlarged, and
brought once more into order. Rivenoak now announced the intention
of the old men again to proceed, the delay having continued long
enough, and leading to no result.
"Stop Huron - stay chiefs! -" exclaimed Judith, scarce knowing
what she said, or why she interposed, unless to obtain time. "For
God's sake, a single minute longer -"
The words were cut short, by another and a still more extraordinary
interruption. A young Indian came bounding through the Huron ranks,
leaping into the very centre of the circle, in a way to denote the
utmost confidence, or a temerity bordering on foolhardiness. Five
or six sentinels were still watching the lake at different and
distant points, and it was the first impression of Rivenoak that one
of these had come in, with tidings of import. Still the movements
of the stranger were so rapid, and his war dress, which scarcely
left him more drapery than an antique statue, had so little
distinguishing about it, that, at the first moment, it was impossible
to ascertain whether he were friend or foe. Three leaps carried
this warrior to the side of Deerslayer, whose withes were cut in the
twinkling of an eye, with a quickness and precision that left the
prisoner perfect master of his limbs. Not till this was effected
did the stranger bestow a glance on any other object; then he
turned and showed the astonished Hurons the noble brow, fine person,
and eagle eye, of a young warrior, in the paint and panoply of a
Delaware. He held a rifle in each hand, the butts of both resting
on the earth, while from one dangled its proper pouch and horn.
This was Killdeer which, even as he looked boldly and in defiance
at the crowd around him, he suffered to fall back into the hands
of its proper owner. The presence of two armed men, though it was
in their midst, startled the Hurons. Their rifles were scattered
about against the different trees, and their only weapons were
their knives and tomahawks. Still they had too much self-possession
to betray fear. It was little likely that so small a force would
assail so strong a band, and each man expected some extraordinary
proposition to succeed so decisive a step. The stranger did not
seem disposed to disappoint them; he prepared to speak.
"Hurons," he said, "this earth is very big. The Great Lakes are
big, too; there is room beyond them for the Iroquois; there is
room for the Delawares on this side. I am Chingachgook the Son
of Uncas; the kinsman of Tamenund. This is my betrothed; that
pale-face is my friend. My heart was heavy, when I missed him;
I followed him to your camp, to see that no harm happened to him.
All the Delaware girls are waiting for Wah; they wonder that she
stays away so long. Come, let us say farewell, and go on our path."
"Hurons, this is your mortal enemy, the Great Serpent of them you
hate!" cried Briarthorn. "If he escape, blood will be in your
moccasin prints, from this spot to the Canadas. I am all Huron!"
As the last words were uttered, the traitor cast his knife at the
naked breast of the Delaware. A quick movement of the arm, on the
part of Hist, who stood near, turned aside the blow, the dangerous
weapon burying its point in a pine. At the next instant, a similar
weapon glanced from the hand of the Serpent, and quivered in the
recreant's heart. A minute had scarcely elapsed from the moment
in which Chingachgook bounded into the circle, and that in which
Briarthorn fell, like a log, dead in his tracks. The rapidity of
events had prevented the Hurons from acting; but this catastrophe
permitted no farther delay. A common exclamation followed, and
the whole party was in motion. At this instant a sound unusual to
the woods was heard, and every Huron, male and female, paused to
listen, with ears erect and faces filled with expectation. The sound
was regular and heavy, as if the earth were struck with beetles.
Objects became visible among the trees of the background, and a
body of troops was seen advancing with measured tread. They came
upon the charge, the scarlet of the King's livery shining among
the bright green foliage of the forest.
The scene that followed is not easily described. It was one in which
wild confusion, despair, and frenzied efforts, were so blended as
to destroy the unity and distinctness of the action. A general
yell burst from the enclosed Hurons; it was succeeded by the hearty
cheers of England. Still not a musket or rifle was fired, though
that steady, measured tramp continued, and the bayonet was seen
gleaming in advance of a line that counted nearly sixty men. The
Hurons were taken at a fearful disadvantage. On three sides was
the water, while their formidable and trained foes cut them off
from flight on the fourth. Each warrior rushed for his arms, and
then all on the point, man, woman and child, eagerly sought the
covers. In this scene of confusion and dismay, however, nothing
could surpass the discretion and coolness of Deerslayer. His first
care was to place Judith and Hist behind trees, and he looked for
Hetty; but she had been hurried away in the crowd of Huron women.
This effected, he threw himself on a flank of the retiring Hurons,
who were inclining off towards the southern margin of the point,
in the hope of escaping through the water. Deerslayer watched his
opportunity, and finding two of his recent tormentors in a range,
his rifle first broke the silence of the terrific scene. The bullet
brought down both at one discharge. This drew a general fire from
the Hurons, and the rifle and war cry of the Serpent were heard in
the clamor. Still the trained men returned no answering volley,
the whoop and piece of Hurry alone being heard on their side,
if we except the short, prompt word of authority, and that heavy,
measured and menacing tread. Presently, however, the shrieks,
groans, and denunciations that usually accompany the use of the
bayonet followed. That terrible and deadly weapon was glutted in
vengeance. The scene that succeeded was one of those of which so
many have occurred in our own times, in which neither age nor sex
forms an exemption to the lot of a savage warfare.
"The flower that smiles to-day
All that we wish to stay,
Tempts and then flies:
What is this world's delight?
Lightning that mocks the night,
Brief even as bright."
Shelley, "Mutability," 11. i-v.
The picture next presented, by the point of land that the unfortunate
Hurons had selected for their last place of encampment, need
scarcely be laid before the eyes of the reader. Happily for the
more tender-minded and the more timid, the trunks of the trees,
the leaves, and the smoke had concealed much of that which passed,
and night shortly after drew its veil over the lake, and the whole
of that seemingly interminable wilderness; which may be said to
have then stretched, with few and immaterial interruptions, from
the banks of the Hudson to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Our
business carries us into the following day, when light returned
upon the earth, as sunny and as smiling as if nothing extraordinary
When the sun rose on the following morning, every sign of hostility
and alarm had vanished from the basin of the Glimmerglass. The
frightful event of the preceding evening had left no impression
on the placid sheet, and the untiring hours pursued their course
in the placid order prescribed by the powerful hand that set
them in motion. The birds were again skimming the water, or were
seen poised on the wing, high above the tops of the tallest pines
of the mountains, ready to make their swoops, in obedience to the
irresistable law of their natures. In a word, nothing was changed,
but the air of movement and life that prevailed in and around the
castle. Here, indeed, was an alteration that must have struck
the least observant eye. A sentinel, who wore the light infantry
uniform of a royal regiment, paced the platform with measured tread,
and some twenty more of the same corps lounged about the place, or
were seated in the ark. Their arms were stacked under the eye of
their comrade on post. Two officers stood examining the shore, with
the ship's glass so often mentioned. Their looks were directed to
that fatal point, where scarlet coats were still to be seen gliding
among the trees, and where the magnifying power of the instrument
also showed spades at work, and the sad duty of interment going on.
Several of the common men bore proofs on their persons that their
enemies had not been overcome entirely without resistance, and the
youngest of the two officers on the platform wore an arm in a sling.
His companion, who commanded the party, had been more fortunate. He
it was who used the glass, in making the reconnoissances in which
the two were engaged.
A sergeant approached to make a report. He addressed the senior
of these officers as Capt. Warley, while the other was alluded
to as Mr., which was equivalent to Ensign Thornton. The former it
will at once be seen was the officer who had been named with so
much feeling in the parting dialogue between Judith and Hurry. He
was, in truth, the very individual with whom the scandal of the
garrisons had most freely connected the name of this beautiful but
indiscreet girl. He was a hard featured, red faced man of about five
and thirty; but of a military carriage, and with an air of fashion
that might easily impose on the imagination of one as ignorant of
the world as Judith.
"Craig is covering us with benedictions," observed this person
to his young ensign, with an air of indifference, as he shut the
glass and handed it to his servant; "to say the truth, not without
reason; it is certainly more agreeable to be here in attendance on
Miss Judith Hutter, than to be burying Indians on a point of the
lake, however romantic the position, or brilliant the victory. By
the way, Wright - is Davis still living?"
"He died about ten minutes since, your honor," returned the sergeant
to whom this question was addressed. "I knew how it would be, as
soon as I found the bullet had touched the stomach. I never knew
a man who could hold out long, if he had a hole in his stomach."
"No; it is rather inconvenient for carrying away any thing very
nourishing," observed Warley, gaping. "This being up two nights
de suite, Arthur, plays the devil with a man's faculties! I'm as
stupid as one of those Dutch parsons on the Mohawk - I hope your
arm is not painful, my dear boy?"
"It draws a few grimaces from me, sir, as I suppose you see,"
answered the youth, laughing at the very moment his countenance was
a little awry with pain. "But it may be borne. I suppose Graham
can spare a few minutes, soon, to look at my hurt."
"She is a lovely creature, this Judith Hutter, after all, Thornton;
and it shall not be my fault if she is not seen and admired in
the Parks!" resumed Warley, who thought little of his companion's
wound - "your arm, eh! Quite True - Go into the ark, sergeant, and
tell Dr. Graham I desire he would look at Mr. Thornton's injury,
as soon as he has done with the poor fellow with the broken leg.
A lovely creature! and she looked like a queen in that brocade
dress in which we met her. I find all changed here; father and
mother both gone, the sister dying, if not dead, and none of the
family left, but the beauty! This has been a lucky expedition all
round, and promises to terminate better than Indian skirmishes in
"Am I to suppose, sir, that you are about to desert your colours, in
the great corps of bachelors, and close the campaign with matrimony?"
"I, Tom Warley, turn Benedict! Faith, my dear boy, you little know
the corps you speak of, if you fancy any such thing. I do suppose
there are women in the colonies that a captain of Light Infantry need
not disdain; but they are not to be found up here, on a mountain
lake; or even down on the Dutch river where we are posted. It
is true, my uncle, the general, once did me the favor to choose a
wife for me in Yorkshire; but she had no beauty - and I would not
marry a princess, unless she were handsome."
"If handsome, you would marry a beggar?"
"Ay, these are the notions of an ensign! Love in a cottage - doors
- and windows - the old story, for the hundredth time. The 20th
- don't marry. We are not a marrying corps, my dear boy. There's
the Colonel, Old Sir Edwin ------, now; though a full General he has
never thought of a wife; and when a man gets as high as a Lieutenant
General, without matrimony, he is pretty safe. Then the Lieutenant
Colonel is confirmed, as I tell my cousin the bishop. The Major is
a widower, having tried matrimony for twelve months in his youth,
and we look upon him, now, as one of our most certain men. Out
of ten captains, but one is in the dilemma, and he, poor devil, is
always kept at regimental headquarters, as a sort of memento mori,
to the young men as they join. As for the subalterns, not one has
ever yet had the audacity to speak of introducing a wife into the
regiment. But your arm is troublesome, and we'll go ourselves and
see what has become of Graham."
The surgeon who had accompanied the party was employed very
differently from what the captain supposed. When the assault was
over, and the dead and wounded were collected, poor Hetty had been
found among the latter. A rifle bullet had passed through her body,
inflicting an injury that was known at a glance to be mortal. How
this wound was received, no one knew; it was probably one of those
casualties that ever accompany scenes like that related in the
The Sumach, all the elderly women, and some of the Huron girls,
had fallen by the bayonet, either in the confusion of the melee,
or from the difficulty of distinguishing the sexes when the dress
was so simple. Much the greater portion of the warriors suffered
on the spot. A few had escaped, however, and two or three had been
taken unharmed. As for the wounded, the bayonet saved the surgeon
much trouble. Rivenoak had escaped with life and limb, but was
injured and a prisoner. As Captain Warley and his ensign went into
the Ark they passed him, seated in dignified silence in one end of
the scow, his head and leg bound, but betraying no visible sign of
despondency or despair. That he mourned the loss of his tribe is
certain; still he did it in a manner that best became a warrior
and a chief.
The two soldiers found their surgeon in the principal room of the
Ark. He was just quitting the pallet of Hetty, with an expression
of sorrowful regret on his hard, pock-marked Scottish features,
that it was not usual to see there. All his assiduity had been
useless, and he was compelled reluctantly to abandon the expectation
of seeing the girl survive many hours. Dr. Graham was accustomed
to death-bed scenes, and ordinarily they produced but little
impression on him. In all that relates to religion, his was one
of those minds which, in consequence of reasoning much on material
things, logically and consecutively, and overlooking the total want
of premises which such a theory must ever possess, through its want
of a primary agent, had become sceptical; leaving a vague opinion
concerning the origin of things, that, with high pretentions to
philosophy, failed in the first of all philosophical principles, a
cause. To him religious dependence appeared a weakness, but when
he found one gentle and young like Hetty, with a mind beneath
the level of her race, sustained at such a moment by these pious
sentiments, and that, too, in a way that many a sturdy warrior and
reputed hero might have looked upon with envy, he found himself
affected by the sight to a degree that he would have been ashamed
to confess. Edinburgh and Aberdeen, then as now, supplied no small
portion of the medical men of the British service, and Dr. Graham,
as indeed his name and countenance equally indicated, was, by birth
a North Briton.
"Here is an extraordinary exhibition for a forest, and one but
half-gifted with reason," he observed with a decided Scotch accent,
as Warley and the ensign entered; "I just hope, gentlemen, that
when we three shall be called on to quit the 20th, we may be found
as resigned to go on the half pay of another existence, as this
poor demented chiel!"
"Is there no hope that she can survive the hurt?" demanded Warley,
turning his eyes towards the pallid Judith, on whose cheeks,
however, two large spots of red had settled as soon as he came into
"No more than there is for Chairlie Stuart! Approach and judge for
yourselves, gentlemen; ye'll see faith exemplified in an exceeding
and wonderful manner. There is a sort of arbitrium between life
and death, in actual conflict in the poor girl's mind, that renders
her an interesting study to a philosopher. Mr. Thornton, I'm at
your service, now; we can just look at the arm in the next room,
while we speculate as much as we please on the operations and
sinuosities of the human mind."
The surgeon and ensign retired, and Warley had an opportunity of
looking about him more at leisure, and with a better understanding
of the nature and feelings of the group collected in the cabin.
Poor Hetty had been placed on her own simple bed, and was reclining
in a half seated attitude, with the approaches of death on her
countenance, though they were singularly dimmed by the lustre of
an expression in which all the intelligence of her entire being
appeared to be concentrated. Judith and Hist were near her, the
former seated in deep grief; the latter standing, in readiness to
offer any of the gentle attentions of feminine care. Deerslayer
stood at the end of the pallet, leaning on Killdeer, unharmed in
person, all the fine martial ardor that had so lately glowed in
his countenance having given place to the usual look of honesty and
benevolence, qualities of which the expression was now softened by
manly regret and pity. The Serpent was in the background of the
picture, erect, and motionless as a statue; but so observant that
not a look of the eye escaped his own keen glances. Hurry completed
the group, being seated on a stool near the door, like one who felt
himself out of place in such a scene, but who was ashamed to quit
"Who is that in scarlet?" asked Hetty, as soon as the Captain's
uniform caught her eye. "Tell me, Judith, is it the friend of
"'Tis the officer who commands the troops that have rescued us all
from the hands of the Hurons," was the low answer of the sister.
"Am I rescued, too! - I thought they said I was shot, and about
to die. Mother is dead; and so is father; but you are living,
Judith, and so is Hurry. I was afraid Hurry would be killed, when
I heard him shouting among the soldiers."
"Never mind - never mind, dear Hetty -" interrupted Judith,
sensitively alive to the preservation of her sister's secret, more,
perhaps, at such a moment, than at any other. "Hurry is well, and
Deerslayer is well, and the Delaware is well, too."
"How came they to shoot a poor girl like me, and let so many men
go unharmed? I didn't know that the Hurons were so wicked, Judith!"
"'Twas an accident, poor Hetty; a sad accident it has been! No
one would willingly have injured you."
"I'm glad of that! - I thought it strange; I am feeble minded,
and the redmen have never harmed me before. I should be sorry to
think that they had changed their minds. I am glad too, Judith,
that they haven't hurt Hurry. Deerslayer I don't think God will
suffer any one to harm. It was very fortunate the soldiers came
as they did though, for fire will burn!"
"It was indeed fortunate, my sister; God's holy name be forever
blessed for the mercy!"
"I dare say, Judith, you know some of the officers; you used to
know so many!"
Judith made no reply; she hid her face in her hands and groaned.
Hetty gazed at her in wonder; but naturally supposing her own
situation was the cause of this grief, she kindly offered to console
"Don't mind me, dear Judith," said the affectionate and pure-hearted
creature, "I don't suffer; if I do die, why father and mother are
both dead, and what happens to them may well happen to me. You
know I am of less account than any of the family; therefore few
will think of me after I'm in the lake."
"No, no, no - poor, dear, dear Hetty!" exclaimed Judith, in an
uncontrollable burst of sorrow, "I, at least, will ever think of
you; and gladly, oh! how gladly would I exchange places with you,
to be the pure, excellent, sinless creature you are!"
Until now, Captain Warley had stood leaning against the door of the
cabin; when this outbreak of feeling, and perchance of penitence,
however, escaped the beautiful girl, he walked slowly and thoughtfully
away; even passing the ensign, then suffering under the surgeon's
care, without noticing him.
"I have got my Bible here, Judith," returned her sister in a voice
of triumph. "It's true, I can't read any longer, there's something
the matter with my eyes - you look dim and distant - and so does
Hurry, now I look at him -well, I never could have believed that
Henry March would have so dull a look! What can be the reason,
Judith, that I see so badly, today? I, who mother always said had
the best eyes in the whole family. Yes, that was it: my mind was
feeble - what people call half-witted - but my eyes were so good!"
Again Judith groaned; this time no feeling of self, no retrospect
of the past caused the pain. It was the pure, heartfelt sorrow
of sisterly love, heightened by a sense of the meek humility and
perfect truth of the being before her. At that moment, she would
gladly have given up her own life to save that of Hetty. As the
last, however, was beyond the reach of human power, she felt there
was nothing left her but sorrow. At this moment Warley returned
to the cabin, drawn by a secret impulse he could not withstand,
though he felt, just then, as if he would gladly abandon the American
continent forever, were it practicable. Instead of pausing at
the door, he now advanced so near the pallet of the sufferer as to
come more plainly within her gaze. Hetty could still distinguish
large objects, and her look soon fastened on him.
"Are you the officer that came with Hurry?" she asked. "If you
are, we ought all to thank you, for, though I am hurt, the rest
have saved their lives. Did Harry March tell you, where to find
us, and how much need there was for your services?"
"The news of the party reached us by means of a friendly runner,"
returned the Captain, glad to relieve his feelings by this appearance
of a friendly communication, "and I was immediately sent out to cut
it off. It was fortunate, certainly, that we met Hurry Harry, as
you call him, for he acted as a guide, and it was not less fortunate
that we heard a firing, which I now understand was merely a shooting
at the mark, for it not only quickened our march, but called us
to the right side of the lake. The Delaware saw us on the shore,
with the glass it would seem, and he and Hist, as I find his squaw
is named, did us excellent service. It was really altogether a
fortunate concurrence of circumstances, Judith."
"Talk not to me of any thing fortunate, sir," returned the girl
huskily, again concealing her face. "To me the world is full of
misery. I wish never to hear of marks, or rifles, or soldiers, or
"Do you know my sister?" asked Hetty, ere the rebuked soldier had
time to rally for an answer. "How came you to know that her name
is Judith? You are right, for that is her name; and I am Hetty;
Thomas Hutter's daughters."
"For heaven's sake, dearest sister; for my sake, beloved Hetty,"
interposed Judith, imploringly, "say no more of this!"
Hetty looked surprised, but accustomed to comply, she ceased her
awkward and painful interrogations of Warley, bending her eyes
towards the Bible which she still held between her hands, as one
would cling to a casket of precious stones in a shipwreck, or a
conflagration. Her mind now adverted to the future, losing sight,
in a great measure, of the scenes of the past.
"We shall not long be parted, Judith," she said; "when you die, you
must be brought and be buried in the lake, by the side of mother,
"Would to God, Hetty, that I lay there at this moment!"
"No, that cannot be, Judith; people must die before they have any
right to be buried. 'Twould be wicked to bury you, or for you to
bury yourself, while living. Once I thought of burying myself;
God kept me from that sin."
"You! -You, Hetty Hutter, think of such an act!" exclaimed Judith,
looking up in uncontrollable surprise, for she well knew nothing
passed the lips of her conscientious sister, that was not religiously
"Yes, I did, Judith, but God has forgotten - no he forgets nothing
- but he has forgiven it," returned the dying girl, with the subdued
manner of a repentant child. "'Twas after mother's death; I felt
I had lost the best friend I had on earth, if not the only friend.
'Tis true, you and father were kind to me, Judith, but I was
so feeble-minded, I knew I should only give you trouble; and then
you were so often ashamed of such a sister and daughter, and 'tis
hard to live in a world where all look upon you as below them. I
thought then, if I could bury myself by the side of mother, I should
be happier in the lake than in the hut."
"Forgive me - pardon me, dearest Hetty - on my bended knees, I beg
you to pardon me, sweet sister, if any word, or act of mine drove
you to so maddening and cruel a thought!"
"Get up, Judith - kneel to God; don't kneel to me. Just so I felt
when mother was dying! I remembered everything I had said and
done to vex her, and could have kissed her feet for forgiveness. I
think it must be so with all dying people; though, now I think of
it, I don't remember to have had such feelings on account of father."
Judith arose, hid her face in her apron, and wept. A long pause
-one of more than two hours - succeeded, during which Warley entered
and left the cabin several times; apparently uneasy when absent,
and yet unable to remain. He issued various orders, which his men
proceeded to execute, and there was an air of movement in the party,
more especially as Mr. Craig, the lieutenant, had got through the
unpleasant duty of burying the dead, and had sent for instructions
from the shore, desiring to know what he was to do with his detachment.
During this interval Hetty slept a little, and Deerslayer and
Chingachgook left the Ark to confer together. But, at the end of
the time mentioned, the Surgeon passed upon the platform, and with
a degree of feeling his comrades had never before observed in one
of his habits, he announced that the patient was rapidly drawing
near her end. On receiving this intelligence the group collected
again, curiosity to witness such a death - or a better feeling -
drawing to the spot men who had so lately been actors in a scene
seemingly of so much greater interest and moment. By this time
Judith had got to be inactive through grief, and Hist alone was
performing the little offices of feminine attention that are so
appropriate to the sick bed. Hetty herself had undergone no other
apparent change than the general failing that indicated the near
approach of dissolution. All that she possessed of mind was as
clear as ever, and, in some respects, her intellect perhaps was
more than usually active.
"Don't grieve for me so much, Judith," said the gentle sufferer,
after a pause in her remarks; "I shall soon see mother - I think I
see her now; her face is just as sweet and smiling as it used to
be! Perhaps when I'm dead, God will give me all my mind, and I
shall become a more fitting companion for mother than I ever was
"You will be an angel in heaven, Hetty," sobbed the sister; "no
spirit there will be more worthy of its holy residence!"
"I don't understand it quite; still, I know it must be all true;
I've read it in the Bible. How dark it's becoming! Can it be
night so soon? I can hardly see you at all - where is Hist?"
"I here, poor girl-Why you no see me?"
"I do see you; but I couldn't tell whether 'twas you, or Judith.
I believe I shan't see you much longer, Hist."
"Sorry for that, poor Hetty. Never mind - pale-face got a heaven
for girl as well as for warrior."
"Where's the Serpent? Let me speak to him; give me his hand; so;
I feel it. Delaware, you will love and cherish this young Indian
woman - I know how fond she is of you; you must be fond of her.
Don't treat her as some of your people treat their wives; be a real
husband to her. Now, bring Deerslayer near me; give me his hand."
This request was complied with, and the hunter stood by the side of
the pallet, submitting to the wishes of the girl with the docility
of a child.
"I feel, Deerslayer," she resumed, "though I couldn't tell why
-but I feel that you and I are not going to part for ever. 'Tis
a strange feeling! I never had it before; I wonder what it comes
"'Tis God encouraging you in extremity, Hetty; as such it ought
to be harbored and respected. Yes, we shall meet ag'in, though it
may be a long time first, and in a far distant land."
"Do you mean to be buried in the lake, too? If so, that may account
for the feeling."
"'Tis little likely, gal; 'tis little likely; but there's a region
for Christian souls, where there's no lakes, nor woods, they say;
though why there should be none of the last, is more than I can
account for; seeing that pleasantness and peace is the object in
view. My grave will be found in the forest, most likely, but I
hope my spirit will not be far from your'n."
"So it must be, then. I am too weak-minded to understand these
things, but I feel that you and I will meet again. Sister, where
are you? I can't see, now, anything but darkness. It must be
"Oh! Hetty, I am here at your side; these are my arms that are around
you," sobbed Judith. "Speak, dearest; is there anything you wish
to say, or have done, in this awful moment."
By this time Hetty's sight had entirely failed her. Nevertheless
death approached with less than usual of its horrors, as if in
tenderness to one of her half-endowed faculties. She was pale as
a corpse, but her breathing was easy and unbroken, while her voice,
though lowered almost to a whisper, remained clear and distinct.
When her sister put this question, however, a blush diffused itself
over the features of the dying girl, so faint however as to be nearly
imperceptible; resembling that hue of the rose which is thought
to portray the tint of modesty, rather than the dye of the flower
in its richer bloom. No one but Judith detected this exposure of
feeling, one of the gentle expressions of womanly sensibility, even
in death. On her, however, it was not lost, nor did she conceal
from herself the cause.
"Hurry is here, dearest Hetty," whispered the sister, with her face
so near the sufferer as to keep the words from other ears. "Shall
I tell him to come and receive your good wishes?"
A gentle pressure of the hand answered in the affirmative. Then
Hurry was brought to the side of the pallet. It is probable that
this handsome but rude woodsman had never before found himself so
awkwardly placed, though the inclination which Hetty felt for him
(a sort of secret yielding to the instincts of nature, rather than
any unbecoming impulse of an ill-regulated imagination), was too
pure and unobtrusive to have created the slightest suspicion of
the circumstance in his mind. He allowed Judith to put his hard
colossal hand between those of Hetty, and stood waiting the result
in awkward silence.
"This is Hurry, dearest," whispered Judith, bending over her sister,
ashamed to utter the words so as to be audible to herself. "Speak
to him, and let him go."
"What shall I say, Judith?"
"Nay, whatever your own pure spirit teaches, my love. Trust to
that, and you need fear nothing."
"Good bye, Hurry," murmured the girl, with a gentle pressure of
his hand. "I wish you would try and be more like Deerslayer."
These words were uttered with difficulty; a faint flush succeeded
them for a single instant. Then the hand was relinquished, and Hetty
turned her face aside, as if done with the world. The mysterious
feeling that bound her to the young man, a sentiment so gentle as
to be almost imperceptible to herself, and which could never have
existed at all, had her reason possessed more command over her
senses, was forever lost in thoughts of a more elevated, though
scarcely of a purer character.
"Of what are you thinking, my sweet sister?" whispered Judith "Tell
me, that I may aid you at this moment."
"Mother - I see Mother, now, and bright beings around her in the
lake. Why isn't father there? It's odd that I can see Mother,
when I can't see you! Farewell, Judith."
The last words were uttered after a pause, and her sister had hung
over her some time, in anxious watchfulness, before she perceived
that the gentle spirit had departed. Thus died Hetty Hutter, one of
those mysterious links between the material and immaterial world,
which, while they appear to be deprived of so much that it is
esteemed and necessary for this state of being, draw so near to,
and offer so beautiful an illustration of the truth, purity, and
simplicity of another.
"A baron's chylde to be begylde!
it were a cursed dede:
To be feląwe with an outląwe!
Almighty God forbede!
Yea, better were, the pore squy
re alone to forest yede,
Then ye sholde say another day,
that by my cursed dede
Ye were betrayed:
wherefore, good mayde,
the best rede that I can,
Is, that I to the grene wode go, alone,
a banyshed man."
Thomas Percy, 'Nutbrowne Mayde,' 11. 265-76 from Reliques of
Ancient English Poetry, Vol. II.
The day that followed proved to be melancholy, though one of much
activity. The soldiers, who had so lately been employed in interring
their victims, were now called on to bury their own dead. The scene
of the morning had left a saddened feeling on all the gentlemen of
the party, and the rest felt the influence of a similar sensation,
in a variety of ways and from many causes. Hour dragged on after
hour until evening arrived, and then came the last melancholy offices
in honor of poor Hetty Hutter. Her body was laid in the lake, by
the side of that of the mother she had so loved and reverenced,
the surgeon, though actually an unbeliever, so far complying with
the received decencies of life as to read the funeral service
over her grave, as he had previously done over those of the other
Christian slain. It mattered not; that all seeing eye which reads
the heart, could not fail to discriminate between the living and
the dead, and the gentle soul of the unfortunate girl was already
far removed beyond the errors, or deceptions, of any human ritual.
These simple rites, however, were not wholly wanting in suitable
accompaniments. The tears of Judith and Hist were shed freely,
and Deerslayer gazed upon the limpid water, that now flowed over
one whose spirit was even purer than its own mountain springs,
with glistening eyes. Even the Delaware turned aside to conceal
his weakness, while the common men gazed on the ceremony with
wondering eyes and chastened feelings.
The business of the day closed with this pious office. By order
of the commanding officer, all retired early to rest, for it was
intended to begin the march homeward with the return of light. One
party, indeed, bearing the wounded, the prisoners, and the trophies,
had left the castle in the middle of the day under the guidance
of Hurry, intending to reach the fort by shorter marches. It had
been landed on the point so often mentioned, or that described
in our opening pages, and, when the sun set, was already encamped
on the brow of the long, broken, and ridgy hills, that fell away
towards the valley of the Mohawk. The departure of this detachment
had greatly simplified the duty of the succeeding day, disencumbering
its march of its baggage and wounded, and otherwise leaving him
who had issued the order greater liberty of action.
Judith held no communications with any but Hist, after the death
of her sister, until she retired for the night. Her sorrow had
been respected, and both the females had been left with the body,
unintruded on, to the last moment. The rattling of the drum broke
the silence of that tranquil water, and the echoes of the tattoo
were heard among the mountains, so soon after the ceremony was over
as to preclude the danger of interruption. That star which had
been the guide of Hist, rose on a scene as silent as if the quiet
of nature had never yet been disturbed by the labors or passions
of man. One solitary sentinel, with his relief, paced the platform
throughout the night, and morning was ushered in, as usual, by the
martial beat of the reveille.
Military precision succeeded to the desultory proceedings of border
men, and when a hasty and frugal breakfast was taken, the party
began its movement towards the shore with a regularity and order
that prevented noise or confusion. Of all the officers, Warley
alone remained. Craig headed the detachment in advance, Thornton
was with the wounded, and Graham accompanied his patients as a matter
of course. Even the chest of Hutter, with all the more valuable
of his effects, was borne away, leaving nothing behind that was
worth the labor of a removal. Judith was not sorry to see that
the captain respected her feelings, and that he occupied himself
entirely with the duty of his command, leaving her to her own
discretion and feelings. It was understood by all that the place
was to be totally abandoned; but beyond this no explanations were
asked or given.
The soldiers embarked in the Ark, with the captain at their head.
He had enquired of Judith in what way she chose to proceed, and
understanding her wish to remain with Hist to the last moment, he
neither molested her with requests, nor offended her with advice.
There was but one safe and familiar trail to the Mohawk, and
on that, at the proper hour, he doubted not that they should meet
in amity, if not in renewed intercourse. When all were on board,
the sweeps were manned, and the Ark moved in its sluggish manner
towards the distant point. Deerslayer and Chingachgook now lifted
two of the canoes from the water, and placed them in the castle.
The windows and door were then barred, and the house was left by
means of the trap, in the manner already described. On quitting
the palisades, Hist was seen in the remaining canoe, where the
Delaware immediately joined her, and paddled away, leaving Judith
standing alone on the platform. Owing to this prompt proceeding,
Deerslayer found himself alone with the beautiful and still weeping
mourner. Too simple to suspect anything, the young man swept the
light boat round, and received its mistress in it, when he followed
the course already taken by his friend. The direction to the point
led diagonally past, and at no great distance from, the graves of
the dead. As the canoe glided by, Judith for the first time that
morning spoke to her companion. She said but little; merely uttering
a simple request to stop, for a minute or two, ere she left the
"I may never see this spot again, Deerslayer," she said, "and it
contains the bodies of my mother and sister! Is it not possible,
think you, that the innocence of one of these beings may answer in
the eyes of God for the salvation of both?"
"I don't understand it so, Judith, though I'm no missionary, and am
but poorly taught. Each spirit answers for its own backslidings,
though a hearty repentance will satisfy God's laws."
"Then must my poor poor mother be in heaven! Bitterly, bitterly
has she repented of her sins, and surely her sufferings in this life
ought to count as something against her sufferings in the next!"
"All this goes beyond me, Judith. I strive to do right, here,
as the surest means of keeping all right, hereafter. Hetty was
oncommon, as all that know'd her must allow, and her soul was as
fit to consart with angels the hour it left its body, as that of
any saint in the Bible!"
"I do believe you only do her justice! Alas! Alas! that there
should be so great differences between those who were nursed at
the same breast, slept in the same bed, and dwelt under the same
roof! But, no matter - move the canoe, a little farther east,
Deerslayer - the sun so dazzles my eyes that I cannot see the
graves. This is Hetty's, on the right of mother's?"
"Sartain - you ask'd that of us, and all are glad to do as you
wish, Judith, when you do that which is right."
The girl gazed at him near a minute, in silent attention; then she
turned her eyes backward, at the castle. "This lake will soon be
entirely deserted," she said, "and this, too, at a moment when it
will be a more secure dwelling place than ever. What has so lately
happened will prevent the Iroquois from venturing again to visit
it for a long time to come."
"That it will! Yes, that may be set down as sartain. I do not
mean to pass this-a-way, ag'in, so long as the war lasts, for, to
my mind no Huron moccasin will leave its print on the leaves of
this forest, until their traditions have forgotten to tell their
young men of their disgrace and rout."
"And do you so delight in violence and bloodshed? I had thought
better of you, Deerslayer - believed you one who could find his
happiness in a quiet domestic home, with an attached and loving
wife ready to study your wishes, and healthy and dutiful children
anxious to follow in your footsteps, and to become as honest and
just as yourself."
"Lord, Judith, what a tongue you're mistress of! Speech and looks
go hand in hand, like, and what one can't do, the other is pretty
sartain to perform! Such a gal, in a month, might spoil the stoutest
warrior in the colony."
"And am I then so mistaken? Do you really love war, Deerslayer,
better than the hearth, and the affections?"
"I understand your meaning, gal; yes, I do understand what you
mean, I believe, though I don't think you altogether understand me.
Warrior I may now call myself, I suppose, for I've both fou't and
conquered, which is sufficient for the name; neither will I deny that
I've feelin's for the callin', which is both manful and honorable
when carried on accordin' to nat'ral gifts, but I've no relish
for blood. Youth is youth, howsever, and a Mingo is a Mingo. If
the young men of this region stood by, and suffered the vagabonds
to overrun the land, why, we might as well all turn Frenchers at
once, and give up country and kin. I'm no fire eater, Judith, or
one that likes fightin' for fightin's sake, but I can see no great
difference atween givin' up territory afore a war, out of a dread
of war, and givin' it up a'ter a war, because we can't help it,
onless it be that the last is the most manful and honorable."
"No woman would ever wish to see her husband or brother stand by
and submit to insult and wrong, Deerslayer, however she might mourn
the necessity of his running into the dangers of battle. But,
you've done enough already, in clearing this region of the Hurons;
since to you is principally owing the credit of our late victory.
Now, listen to me patiently, and answer me with that native
honesty, which it is as pleasant to regard in one of your sex, as
it is unusual to meet with."
Judith paused, for now that she was on the very point of explaining
herself, native modesty asserted its power, notwithstanding the
encouragement and confidence she derived from the great simplicity
of her companion's character. Her cheeks, which had so lately
been pale, flushed, and her eyes lighted with some of their former
brilliancy. Feeling gave expression to her countenance and softness
to her voice, rendering her who was always beautiful, trebly
seductive and winning.
"Deerslayer," she said, after a considerable pause, "this is not a
moment for affectation, deception, or a want of frankness of any sort.
Here, over my mother's grave, and over the grave of truth-loving,
truth-telling Hetty, everything like unfair dealing seems to be
out of place. I will, therefore, speak to you without any reserve,
and without any dread of being misunderstood. You are not an
acquaintance of a week, but it appears to me as if I had known you
for years. So much, and so much that is important has taken place,
within that short time, that the sorrows, and dangers, and escapes
of a whole life have been crowded into a few days, and they who have
suffered and acted together in such scenes, ought not to feel like
strangers. I know that what I am about to say might be misunderstood
by most men, but I hope for a generous construction of my course
from you. We are not here, dwelling among the arts and deceptions
of the settlements, but young people who have no occasion to deceive
each other, in any manner or form. I hope I make myself understood?"
"Sartain, Judith; few convarse better than yourself, and none more
agreeable, like. Your words are as pleasant as your looks."
"It is the manner in which you have so often praised those looks,
that gives me courage to proceed. Still, Deerslayer, it is not easy
for one of my sex and years to forget all her lessons of infancy,
all her habits, and her natural diffidence, and say openly what
her heart feels!"
"Why not, Judith? Why shouldn't women as well as men deal fairly
and honestly by their fellow creatur's? I see no reason why you
should not speak as plainly as myself, when there is any thing
ra'ally important to be said."
This indomitable diffidence, which still prevented the young man
from suspecting the truth, would have completely discouraged the
girl, had not her whole soul, as well as her whole heart, been set
upon making a desperate effort to rescue herself from a future that
she dreaded with a horror as vivid as the distinctness with which
she fancied she foresaw it. This motive, however, raised her
above all common considerations, and she persevered even to her
own surprise, if not to her great confusion.
"I will - I must deal as plainly with you, as I would with poor,
dear Hetty, were that sweet child living!" she continued, turning
pale instead of blushing, the high resolution by which she was
prompted reversing the effect that such a procedure would ordinarily
produce on one of her sex; "yes, I will smother all other feelings,
in the one that is now uppermost! You love the woods and the life
that we pass, here, in the wilderness, away from the dwellings and
towns of the whites."
"As I loved my parents, Judith, when they was living! This very
spot would be all creation to me, could this war be fairly over,
once; and the settlers kept at a distance."
"Why quit it, then? It has no owner - at least none who can claim
a better right than mine, and that I freely give to you. Were it
a kingdom, Deerslayer, I think I should delight to say the same.
Let us then return to it, after we have seen the priest at the
fort, and never quit it again, until God calls us away to that
world where we shall find the spirits of my poor mother and sister."
A long, thoughtful pause succeeded; Judith here covered her
face with both her hands, after forcing herself to utter so plain
a proposal, and Deerslayer musing equally in sorrow and surprise,
on the meaning of the language he had just heard. At length the
hunter broke the silence, speaking in a tone that was softened to
gentleness by his desire not to offend.
"You haven't thought well of this, Judith," he said, "no, your
feelin's are awakened by all that has lately happened, and believin'
yourself to be without kindred in the world, you are in too great
haste to find some to fill the places of them that's lost."
"Were I living in a crowd of friends, Deerslayer, I should still
think as I now think - say as I now say," returned Judith, speaking
with her hands still shading her lovely face.
"Thank you, gal - thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Howsever,
I am not one to take advantage of a weak moment, when you're forgetful
of your own great advantages, and fancy 'arth and all it holds is
in this little canoe. No - no - Judith, 'twould be onginerous in
me; what you've offered can never come to pass!"
"It all may be, and that without leaving cause of repentance to
any," answered Judith, with an impetuosity of feeling and manner
that at once unveiled her eyes. "We can cause the soldiers to
leave our goods on the road, till we return, when they can easily
be brought back to the house; the lake will be no more visited by
the enemy, this war at least; all your skins may be readily sold
at the garrison; there you can buy the few necessaries we shall
want, for I wish never to see the spot, again; and Deerslayer,"
added the girl smiling with a sweetness and nature that the young
man found it hard to resist, "as a proof how wholly I am and wish
to be yours, - how completely I desire to be nothing but your
wife, the very first fire that we kindle, after our return, shall
be lighted with the brocade dress, and fed by every article I have
that you may think unfit for the woman you wish to live with!"
"Ah's me! - you're a winning and a lovely creatur', Judith; yes,
you are all that, and no one can deny it and speak truth. These
pictur's are pleasant to the thoughts, but they mightn't prove so
happy as you now think 'em. Forget it all, therefore, and let us
paddle after the Sarpent and Hist, as if nothing had been said on
Judith was deeply mortified, and, what is more, she was profoundly
grieved. Still there was a steadiness and quiet in the manner of
Deerslayer that completely smothered her hopes, and told her that
for once her exceeding beauty had failed to excite the admiration
and homage it was wont to receive. Women are said seldom to
forgive those who slight their advances, but this high spirited and
impetuous girl entertained no shadow of resentment, then or ever,
against the fair dealing and ingenuous hunter. At the moment,
the prevailing feeling was the wish to be certain that there was
no misunderstanding. After another painful pause, therefore, she
brought the matter to an issue by a question too direct to admit
"God forbid that we lay up regrets, in after life, through my want
of sincerity now," she said. "I hope we understand each other, at
least. You will not accept me for a wife, Deerslayer?"
"'Tis better for both that I shouldn't take advantage of your own
forgetfulness, Judith. We can never marry."
"You do not love me, - cannot find it in your heart, perhaps, to
esteem me, Deerslayer!"
"Everything in the way of fri'ndship, Judith - everything, even to
sarvices and life itself. Yes, I'd risk as much for you, at this
moment, as I would risk in behalf of Hist, and that is sayin' as
much as I can say of any darter of woman. I do not think I feel
towards either - mind I say either, Judith - as if I wished to
quit father and mother - if father and mother was livin', which,
howsever, neither is - but if both was livin', I do not feel towards
any woman as if I wish'd to quit 'em in order to cleave unto her."
"This is enough!" answered Judith, in a rebuked and smothered voice.
"I understand all that you mean. Marry you cannot with loving, and
that love you do not feel for me. Make no answer, if I am right,
for I shall understand your silence. That will be painful enough
Deerslayer obeyed her, and he made no reply. For more than a
minute, the girl riveted her bright eyes on him as if to read his
soul, while he was playing with the water like a corrected school
boy. Then Judith, herself, dropped the end of her paddle, and urged
the canoe away from the spot, with a movement as reluctant as the
feelings which controlled it. Deerslayer quietly aided the effort,
however, and they were soon on the trackless line taken by the
In their way to the point, not another syllable was exchanged between
Deerslayer and his fair companion. As Judith sat in the bow of
the canoe, her back was turned towards him, else it is probable
the expression of her countenance might have induced him to venture
some soothing terms of friendship and regard. Contrary to what
would have been expected, resentment was still absent, though the
colour frequently changed from the deep flush of mortification to
the paleness of disappointment. Sorrow, deep, heart-felt sorrow,
however, was the predominant emotion, and this was betrayed in a
manner not to be mistaken.
As neither labored hard at the paddle, the ark had already arrived
and the soldiers had disembarked before the canoe of the two loiterers
reached the point. Chingachgook had preceded it, and was already
some distance in the wood, at a spot where the two trails, that to
the garrison and that to the villages of the Delawares, separated.
The soldiers, too, had taken up their line of march, first setting
the Ark adrift again, with a reckless disregard of its fate. All
this Judith saw, but she heeded it not. The glimmerglass had no
longer any charms for her, and when she put her foot on the strand,
she immediately proceeded on the trail of the soldiers without casting
a single glance behind her. Even Hist was passed unnoticed, that
modest young creature shrinking from the averted face of Judith,
as if guilty herself of some wrongdoing.
"Wait you here, Sarpent," said Deerslayer as he followed in the
footsteps of the dejected beauty, while passing his friend. "I
will just see Judith among her party, and come and j'ine you."
A hundred yards had hid the couple from those in front, as well as
those in their rear, when Judith turned, and spoke.
"This will do, Deerslayer," she said sadly. "I understand your
kindness but shall not need it. In a few minutes I shall reach
the soldiers. As you cannot go with me on the journey of life, I
do not wish you to go further on this. But, stop - before we part,
I would ask you a single question. And I require of you, as you
fear God, and reverence the truth, not to deceive me in your answer.
I know you do not love another and I can see but one reason why
you cannot, will not love me. Tell me then, Deerslayer," The girl
paused, the words she was about to utter seeming to choke her. Then
rallying all her resolution, with a face that flushed and paled at
every breath she drew, she continued.
"Tell me then, Deerslayer, if anything light of me, that Henry
March has said, may not have influenced your feelings?"
Truth was the Deerslayer's polar star. He ever kept it in view,
and it was nearly impossible for him to avoid uttering it, even
when prudence demanded silence. Judith read his answer in his
countenance, and with a heart nearly broken by the consciousness
of undue erring, she signed to him an adieu, and buried herself
in the woods. For some time Deerslayer was irresolute as to his
course; but, in the end, he retraced his steps, and joined the
Delaware. That night the three camped on the head waters of their
own river, and the succeeding evening they entered the village of
the tribe, Chingachgook and his betrothed in triumph; their companion
honored and admired, but in a sorrow that it required months of
activity to remove.
The war that then had its rise was stirring and bloody. The Delaware
chief rose among his people, until his name was never mentioned
without eulogiums, while another Uncas, the last of his race, was
added to the long line of warriors who bore that distinguishing
appellation. As for the Deerslayer, under the sobriquet of Hawkeye,
he made his fame spread far and near, until the crack of his rifle
became as terrible to the ears of the Mingos as the thunders of
the Manitou. His services were soon required by the officers of
the crown, and he especially attached himself in the field to one
in particular, with whose after life he had a close and important
Fifteen years had passed away, ere it was in the power of the
Deerslayer to revisit the Glimmerglass. A peace had intervened,
and it was on the eve of another and still more important war,
when he and his constant friend, Chingachgook, were hastening to
the forts to join their allies. A stripling accompanied them, for
Hist already slumbered beneath the pines of the Delawares, and the
three survivors had now become inseparable. They reached the lake
just as the sun was setting. Here all was unchanged. The river
still rushed through its bower of trees; the little rock was washing
away, by the slow action of the waves, in the course of centuries,
the mountains stood in their native dress, dark, rich and mysterious,
while the sheet glistened in its solitude, a beautiful gem of the
The following morning, the youth discovered one of the canoes
drifted on the shore, in a state of decay. A little labor put it
in a state for service, and they all embarked, with a desire to
examine the place. All the points were passed, and Chingachgook
pointed out to his son the spot where the Hurons had first encamped,
and the point whence he had succeeded in stealing his bride. Here
they even landed, but all traces of the former visit had disappeared.
Next they proceeded to the scene of the battle, and there they
found a few of the signs that linger around such localities. Wild
beasts had disinterred many of the bodies, and human bones were
bleaching in the rains of summer. Uncas regarded all with reverence
and pity, though traditions were already rousing his young mind to
the ambition and sternness of a warrior.
From the point, the canoe took its way toward the shoal, where the
remains of the castle were still visible, a picturesque ruin. The
storms of winter had long since unroofed the house, and decay had
eaten into the logs. All the fastenings were untouched, but the
seasons rioted in the place, as if in mockery at the attempt to
exclude them. The palisades were rotting, as were the piles, and
it was evident that a few more recurrences of winter, a few more
gales and tempests, would sweep all into the lake, and blot the
building from the face of that magnificent solitude. The graves
could not be found. Either the elements had obliterated their
traces, or time had caused those who looked for them to forget
The Ark was discovered stranded on the eastern shore, where it had
long before been driven with the prevalent northwest winds. It
lay on the sandy extremity of a long low point, that is situated
about two miles from the outlet, and which is itself fast disappearing
before the action of the elements. The scow was filled with water,
the cabin unroofed, and the logs were decaying. Some of its coarser
furniture still remained, and the heart of Deerslayer beat quick,
as he found a ribbon of Judith's fluttering from a log. It recalled
all her beauty, and we may add all her failings. Although the girl
had never touched his heart, the Hawkeye, for so we ought now to
call him, still retained a kind and sincere interest in her welfare.
He tore away the ribbon, and knotted it to the stock of Killdeer,
which had been the gift of the girl herself.
A few miles farther up the lake, another of the canoes was discovered,
and on the point where the party finally landed, were found those
which had been left there upon the shore. That in which the present
navigation was made, and the one discovered on the eastern shore,
had dropped through the decayed floor of the castle, drifted past
the falling palisades, and had been thrown as waifs upon the beach.
From all these signs, it was probable the lake had not been visited
since the occurrence of the final scene of our tale. Accident or
tradition had rendered it again a spot sacred to nature, the frequent
wars and the feeble population of the colonies still confining the
settlements within narrow boundaries. Chingachgook and his friend
left the spot with melancholy feelings. It had been the region
of their First War Path, and it carried back the minds of both to
scenes of tenderness, as well as to hours of triumph. They held
their way towards the Mohawk in silence, however, to rush into
new adventures, as stirring and as remarkable as those which had
attended their opening careers on this lovely lake. At a later
day they returned to the place, where the Indian found a grave.
Time and circumstances have drawn an impenetrable mystery around
all else connected with the Hutters. They lived, erred, died, and
are forgotten. None connected have felt sufficient interest in
the disgraced and disgracing to withdraw the veil, and a century is
about to erase even the recollection of their names. The history
of crime is ever revolting, and it is fortunate that few love to
dwell on its incidents. The sins of the family have long since
been arraigned at the judgment seat of God, or are registered for
the terrible settlement of the last great day.
The same fate attended Judith. When Hawkeye reached the garrison
on the Mohawk he enquired anxiously after that lovely but misguided
creature. None knew her - even her person was no longer remembered.
Other officers had, again and again, succeeded the Warleys and
Craigs and Grahams, though an old sergeant of the garrison, who
had lately come from England, was enabled to tell our hero that Sir
Robert Warley lived on his paternal estates, and that there was a
lady of rare beauty in the Lodge who had great influence over him,
though she did not bear his name. Whether this was Judith relapsed
into her early failing, or some other victim of the soldier's, Hawkeye
never knew, nor would it be pleasant or profitable to inquire. We
live in a world of transgressions and selfishness, and no pictures
that represent us otherwise can be true, though, happily, for
human nature, gleamings of that pure spirit in whose likeness man
has been fashioned are to be seen, relieving its deformities, and
mitigating if not excusing its crimes.