Part 3 out of 11
to the land; first casting loose his tow, that his movements might
be unencumbered. The canoe hung an instant to the rock; then it
rose a hair's breadth on an almost imperceptible swell of the water,
swung round, floated clear, and reached the strand. All this the
young man noted, but it neither quickened his pulses, nor hastened
his hand. If any one had been lying in wait for the arrival of
the waif, he must be seen, and the utmost caution in approaching
the shore became indispensable; if no one was in ambush, hurry was
unnecessary. The point being nearly diagonally opposite to the
Indian encampment, he hoped the last, though the former was not
only possible, but probable; for the savages were prompt in adopting
all the expedients of their particular modes of warfare, and quite
likely had many scouts searching the shores for craft to carry
them off to the castle. As a glance at the lake from any height or
projection would expose the smallest object on its surface, there
was little hope that either of the canoes would pass unseen; and
Indian sagacity needed no instruction to tell which way a boat or
a log would drift, when the direction of the wind was known. As
Deerslayer drew nearer and nearer to the land, the stroke of his
paddle grew slower, his eye became more watchful, and his ears
and nostrils almost dilated with the effort to detect any lurking
danger. 'T was a trying moment for a novice, nor was there the
encouragement which even the timid sometimes feel, when conscious
of being observed and commended. He was entirely alone, thrown on
his own resources, and was cheered by no friendly eye, emboldened
by no encouraging voice. Notwithstanding all these circumstances,
the most experienced veteran in forest warfare could not have
behaved better. Equally free from recklessness and hesitation,
his advance was marked by a sort of philosophical prudence that
appeared to render him superior to all motives but those which were
best calculated to effect his purpose. Such was the commencement
of a career in forest exploits, that afterwards rendered this man,
in his way, and under the limits of his habits and opportunities,
as renowned as many a hero whose name has adorned the pages of
works more celebrated than legends simple as ours can ever become.
When about a hundred yards from the shore, Deerslayer rose in the
canoe, gave three or four vigorous strokes with the paddle, sufficient
of themselves to impel the bark to land, and then quickly laying
aside the instrument of labor, he seized that of war. He was in
the very act of raising the rifle, when a sharp report was followed
by the buzz of a bullet that passed so near his body as to cause
him involuntarily to start. The next instant Deerslayer staggered,
and fell his whole length in the bottom of the canoe. A yell -
it came from a single voice - followed, and an Indian leaped from
the bushes upon the open area of the point, bounding towards the
canoe. This was the moment the young man desired. He rose on the
instant, and levelled his own rifle at his uncovered foe; but his
finger hesitated about pulling the trigger on one whom he held at
such a disadvantage. This little delay, probably, saved the life
of the Indian, who bounded back into the cover as swiftly as he
had broken out of it. In the meantime Deerslayer had been swiftly
approaching the land, and his own canoe reached the point just as
his enemy disappeared. As its movements had not been directed, it
touched the shore a few yards from the other boat; and though the
rifle of his foe had to be loaded, there was not time to secure
his prize, and carry it beyond danger, before he would be exposed
to another shot. Under the circumstances, therefore, he did not
pause an instant, but dashed into the woods and sought a cover.
On the immediate point there was a small open area, partly in
native grass, and partly beach, but a dense fringe of bushes lined
its upper side. This narrow belt of dwarf vegetation passed, one
issued immediately into the high and gloomy vaults of the forest.
The land was tolerably level for a few hundred feet, and then it
rose precipitously in a mountainside. The trees were tall, large,
and so free from underbrush, that they resembled vast columns,
irregularly scattered, upholding a dome of leaves. Although they
stood tolerably close together, for their ages and size, the eye
could penetrate to considerable distances; and bodies of men, even,
might have engaged beneath their cover, with concert and intelligence.
Deerslayer knew that his adversary must be employed in reloading,
unless he had fled. The former proved to be the case, for the young
man had no sooner placed himself behind a tree, than he caught a
glimpse of the arm of the Indian, his body being concealed by an
oak, in the very act of forcing the leathered bullet home. Nothing
would have been easier than to spring forward, and decide the
affair by a close assault on his unprepared foe; but every feeling
of Deerslayer revolted at such a step, although his own life had
just been attempted from a cover. He was yet unpracticed in the
ruthless expedients of savage warfare, of which he knew nothing except
by tradition and theory, and it struck him as unfair advantage to
assail an unarmed foe. His color had heightened, his eye frowned,
his lips were compressed, and all his energies were collected and
ready; but, instead of advancing to fire, he dropped his rifle to
the usual position of a sportsman in readiness to catch his aim,
and muttered to himself, unconscious that he was speaking-
"No, no - that may be red-skin warfare, but it's not a Christian's
gifts. Let the miscreant charge, and then we'll take it out like
men; for the canoe he must not, and shall not have. No, no; let
him have time to load, and God will take care of the right!"
All this time the Indian had been so intent on his own movements,
that he was even ignorant that his enemy was in the woods. His
only apprehension was, that the canoe would be recovered and carried
away before he might be in readiness to prevent it. He had sought
the cover from habit, but was within a few feet of the fringe
of bushes, and could be at the margin of the forest in readiness
to fire in a moment. The distance between him and his enemy was
about fifty yards, and the trees were so arranged by nature that
the line of sight was not interrupted, except by the particular
trees behind which each party stood.
His rifle was no sooner loaded, than the savage glanced around him,
and advanced incautiously as regarded the real, but stealthily as
respected the fancied position of his enemy, until he was fairly
exposed. Then Deerslayer stepped from behind its own cover, and
"This a way, red-skin; this a way, if you're looking for me," he
called out. "I'm young in war, but not so young as to stand on
an open beach to be shot down like an owl, by daylight. It rests
on yourself whether it's peace or war atween us; for my gifts are
white gifts, and I'm not one of them that thinks it valiant to slay
human mortals, singly, in the woods."
The savage was a good deal startled by this sudden discovery of
the danger he ran. He had a little knowledge of English, however,
and caught the drift of the other's meaning. He was also too well
schooled to betray alarm, but, dropping the butt of his rifle to
the earth, with an air of confidence, he made a gesture of lofty
courtesy. All this was done with the ease and self-possession
of one accustomed to consider no man his superior. In the midst
of this consummate acting, however, the volcano that raged within
caused his eyes to glare, and his nostrils to dilate, like those
of some wild beast that is suddenly prevented from taking the fatal
"Two canoes," he said, in the deep guttural tones of his race,
holding up the number of fingers he mentioned, by way of preventing
mistakes; "one for you --one for me."
"No, no, Mingo, that will never do. You own neither; and neither
shall you have, as long as I can prevent it. I know it's war atween
your people and mine, but that's no reason why human mortals should
slay each other, like savage creatur's that meet in the woods; go
your way, then, and leave me to go mine. The world is large enough
for us both; and when we meet fairly in battle, why, the Lord will
order the fate of each of us."
"Good!" exclaimed the Indian; "my brother missionary - great talk;
all about Manitou."
"Not so - not so, warrior. I'm not good enough for the Moravians,
and am too good for most of the other vagabonds that preach about
in the woods. No, no; I'm only a hunter, as yet, though afore the
peace is made, 'tis like enough there'll be occasion to strike a
blow at some of your people. Still, I wish it to be done in fair
fight, and not in a quarrel about the ownership of a miserable
"Good! My brother very young - but he is very wise. Little warrior
- great talker. Chief, sometimes, in council."
"I don't know this, nor do I say it, Injin," returned Deerslayer,
coloring a little at the ill-concealed sarcasm of the other's
manner; "I look forward to a life in the woods, and I only hope
it may be a peaceable one. All young men must go on the war-path,
when there's occasion, but war isn't needfully massacre. I've
seen enough of the last, this very night, to know that Providence
frowns on it; and I now invite you to go your own way, while I go
mine; and hope that we may part fri'nds."
"Good! My brother has two scalp - gray hair under 'other. Old
wisdom - young tongue."
Here the savage advanced with confidence, his hand extended, his
face smiling, and his whole bearing denoting amity and respect.
Deerslayer met his offered friendship in a proper spirit, and they
shook hands cordially, each endeavoring to assure the other of his
sincerity and desire to be at peace.
"All have his own," said the Indian; "my canoe, mine; your canoe,
your'n. Go look; if your'n, you keep; if mine, I keep."
"That's just, red-skin; thought you must be wrong in thinking the
canoe your property. Howsever, seein' is believin', and we'll go
down to the shore, where you may look with your own eyes; for it's
likely you'll object to trustin' altogether to mine."
The Indian uttered his favorite exclamation of "Good!" and then
they walked side by side, towards the shore. There was no apparent
distrust in the manner of either, the Indian moving in advance,
as if he wished to show his companion that he did not fear turning
his back to him. As they reached the open ground, the former
pointed towards Deerslayer's boat, and said emphatically - "No mine
- pale-face canoe. This red man's. No want other man's canoe -
want his own."
"You're wrong, red-skin, you 're altogether wrong. This canoe was
left in old Hutter's keeping, and is his'n according to law, red
or white, till its owner comes to claim it. Here's the seats and
the stitching of the bark to speak for themselves. No man ever
know'd an Injin to turn off such work."
"Good! My brother little old - big wisdom. Injin no make him.
White man's work."
"I'm glad you think so, for holding out to the contrary might have
made ill blood atween us, every one having a right to take possession
of his own. I'll just shove the canoe out of reach of dispute at
once, as the quickest way of settling difficulties."
While Deerslayer was speaking, he put a foot against the end of
the light boat, and giving a vigorous shove, he sent it out into
the lake a hundred feet or more, where, taking the true current,
it would necessarily float past the point, and be in no further
danger of coming ashore. The savage started at this ready and
decided expedient, and his companion saw that he cast a hurried
and fierce glance at his own canoe, or that which contained the
paddles. The change of manner, however, was but momentary, and
then the Iroquois resumed his air of friendliness, and a smile of
"Good!" he repeated, with stronger emphasis than ever. "Young head,
old mind. Know how to settle quarrel. Farewell, brother. He go
to house in water-muskrat house - Injin go to camp; tell chiefs no
Deerslayer was not sorry to hear this proposal, for he felt anxious
to join the females, and he took the offered hand of the Indian
very willingly. The parting words were friendly, and while the red
man walked calmly towards the wood, with the rifle in the hollow of
his arm, without once looking back in uneasiness or distrust, the
white man moved towards the remaining canoe, carrying his piece in
the same pacific manner, it is true, but keeping his eye fastened
on the movements of the other. This distrust, however, seemed to
be altogether uncalled for, and as if ashamed to have entertained
it, the young man averted his look, and stepped carelessly up to
his boat. Here he began to push the canoe from the shore, and to
make his other preparations for departing. He might have been thus
employed a minute, when, happening to turn his face towards the
land, his quick and certain eye told him, at a glance, the imminent
jeopardy in which his life was placed. The black, ferocious eyes
of the savage were glancing on him, like those of the crouching
tiger, through a small opening in the bushes, and the muzzle of
his rifle seemed already to be opening in a line with his own body.
Then, indeed, the long practice of Deerslayer, as a hunter did
him good service. Accustomed to fire with the deer on the bound,
and often when the precise position of the animal's body had in a
manner to be guessed at, he used the same expedients here. To cock
and poise his rifle were the acts of a single moment and a single
motion: then aiming almost without sighting, he fired into the
bushes where he knew a body ought to be, in order to sustain the
appalling countenance which alone was visible. There was not time
to raise the piece any higher, or to take a more deliberate aim. So
rapid were his movements that both parties discharged their pieces
at the same instant, the concussions mingling in one report. The
mountains, indeed, gave back but a single echo. Deerslayer dropped
his piece, and stood with head erect, steady as one of the pines
in the calm of a June morning, watching the result; while the
savage gave the yell that has become historical for its appalling
influence, leaped through the bushes, and came bounding across the
open ground, flourishing a tomahawk. Still Deerslayer moved not,
but stood with his unloaded rifle fallen against his shoulders,
while, with a hunter's habits, his hands were mechanically feeling
for the powder-horn and charger. When about forty feet from his
enemy, the savage hurled his keen weapon; but it was with an eye
so vacant, and a hand so unsteady and feeble, that the young man
caught it by the handle as it was flying past him. At that instant
the Indian staggered and fell his whole length on the ground.
"I know'd it - I know'd it!" exclaimed Deerslayer, who was already
preparing to force a fresh bullet into his rifle; "I know'd it must
come to this, as soon as I had got the range from the creatur's
eyes. A man sights suddenly, and fires quick when his own life's
in danger; yes, I know'd it would come to this. I was about the
hundredth part of a second too quick for him, or it might have
been bad for me! The riptyle's bullet has just grazed my side -but
say what you will for or ag'in 'em, a red-skin is by no means as
sartain with powder and ball as a white man. Their gifts don't
seem to lie that a way. Even Chingachgook, great as he is in other
matters, isn't downright deadly with the rifle."
By this time the piece was reloaded, and Deerslayer, after tossing
the tomahawk into the canoe, advanced to his victim, and stood
over him, leaning on his rifle, in melancholy attention. It was
the first instance in which he ha seen a man fall in battle - it
was the first fellow-creature against whom he had ever seriously
raised his own hand. The sensations were novel; and regret, with
the freshness of our better feelings, mingled with his triumph.
The Indian was not dead, though shot directly through the body. He
lay on his back motionless, but his eyes, now full of consciousness,
watched each action of his victor - as the fallen bird regards the
fowler - jealous of every movement. The man probably expected the
fatal blow which was to precede the loss of his scalp; or perhaps
he anticipated that this latter act of cruelty would precede his
death. Deerslayer read his thoughts; and he found a melancholy
satisfaction in relieving the apprehensions of the helpless savage.
"No, no, red-skin," he said; "you've nothing more to fear from me.
I am of a Christian stock, and scalping is not of my gifts. I'll
just make sartain of your rifle, and then come back and do you
what sarvice I can. Though here I can't stay much longer, as the
crack of three rifles will be apt to bring some of your devils down
The close of this was said in a sort of a soliloquy, as the young
man went in quest of the fallen rifle. The piece was found where
its owner had dropped it, and was immediately put into the canoe.
Laying his own rifle at its side, Deerslayer then returned and
stood over the Indian again.
"All inmity atween you and me's at an ind red-skin," he said; "and
you may set your heart at rest on the score of the scalp, or any
further injury. My gifts are white, as I've told you; and I hope
my conduct will be white also."
Could looks have conveyed all they meant, it is probable Deerslayer's
innocent vanity on the subject of color would have been rebuked
a little; but he comprehended the gratitude that was expressed in
the eyes of the dying savage, without in the least detecting the
bitter sarcasm that struggled with the better feeling.
"Water!" ejaculated the thirsty and unfortunate creature; "give
poor Injin water."
"Ay, water you shall have, if you drink the lake dry. I'll just
carry you down to it that you may take your fill. This is the way,
they tell me, with all wounded people - water is their greatest
comfort and delight."
So saying, Deerslayer raised the Indian in his arms, and carried
him to the lake. Here he first helped him to take an attitude in
which he could appease his burning thirst; after which he seated
himself on a stone, and took the head of his wounded adversary in
his own lap, and endeavored to soothe his anguish in the best manner
"It would be sinful in me to tell you your time hadn't come,
warrior," he commenced, "and therefore I'll not say it. You've
passed the middle age already, and, considerin' the sort of lives
ye lead, your days have been pretty well filled. The principal
thing now, is to look forward to what comes next. Neither red-skin
nor pale-face, on the whole, calculates much on sleepin' forever;
but both expect to live in another world. Each has his gifts, and
will be judged by 'em, and I suppose you've thought these matters
over enough not to stand in need of sarmons when the trial comes.
You'll find your happy hunting-grounds, if you've been a just Injin;
if an onjust, you'll meet your desarts in another way. I've my
own idees about these things; but you're too old and exper'enced
to need any explanations from one as young as I."
"Good!" ejaculated the Indian, whose voice retained its depth even
as life ebbed away; "young head - old wisdom!"
"It's sometimes a consolation, when the ind comes, to know that
them we've harmed, or tried to harm, forgive us. I suppose natur'
seeks this relief, by way of getting a pardon on 'arth; as we never
can know whether He pardons, who is all in all, till judgment itself
comes. It's soothing to know that any pardon at such times; and
that, I conclude, is the secret. Now, as for myself, I overlook
altogether your designs ag'in my life; first, because no harm came
of 'em; next, because it's your gifts, and natur', and trainin', and
I ought not to have trusted you at all; and, finally and chiefly,
because I can bear no ill-will to a dying man, whether heathen or
Christian. So put your heart at ease, so far as I'm consarned; you
know best what other matters ought to trouble you, or what ought
to give you satisfaction in so trying a moment."
It is probable that the Indian had some of the fearful glimpses of
the unknown state of being which God, in mercy, seems at times to
afford to all the human race; but they were necessarily in conformity
with his habits and prejudices Like most of his people, and like
too many of our own, he thought more of dying in a way to gain
applause among those he left than to secure a better state of
existence hereafter. While Deerslayer was speaking, his mind was
a little bewildered, though he felt that the intention was good;
and when he had done, a regret passed over his spirit that none of
his own tribe were present to witness his stoicism, under extreme
bodily suffering, and the firmness with which he met his end.
With the high innate courtesy that so often distinguishes the
Indian warrior before he becomes corrupted by too much intercourse
with the worst class of the white men, he endeavored to express
his thankfulness for the other's good intentions, and to let him
understand that they were appreciated.
"Good!" he repeated, for this was an English word much used by the
savages, "good! young head; young heart, too. Old heart tough;
no shed tear. Hear Indian when he die, and no want to lie - what
he call him?"
"Deerslayer is the name I bear now, though the Delawares have said
that when I get back from this war-path, I shall have a more manly
title, provided I can 'arn one."
"That good name for boy - poor name for warrior. He get better
quick. No fear there," - the savage had strength sufficient, under
the strong excitement he felt, to raise a hand and tap the young
man on his breast, - "eye sartain -finger lightning - aim, death
- great warrior soon. No Deerslayer - Hawkeye -Hawkeye - Hawkeye.
Deerslayer - or Hawkeye, as the youth was then first named, for
in after years he bore the appellation throughout all that region
- Deerslayer took the hand of the savage, whose last breath was
drawn in that attitude, gazing in admiration at the countenance of
a stranger, who had shown so much readiness, skill, and firmness,
in a scene that was equally trying and novel. When the reader
remembers it is the highest gratification an Indian can receive to
see his enemy betray weakness, he will be better able to appreciate
the conduct which had extorted so great a concession at such a
"His spirit has fled!" said Deerslayer, in a suppressed, melancholy
voice. "Ah's me! Well, to this we must all come, sooner or later;
and he is happiest, let his skin be what color it may, who is best
fitted to meet it. Here lies the body of no doubt a brave warrior,
and the soul is already flying towards its heaven or hell, whether
that be a happy hunting ground, a place scant of game, regions of
glory, according to Moravian doctrine, or flames of fire! So it
happens, too, as regards other matters! Here have old Hutter and
Hurry Harry got themselves into difficulty, if they haven't got
themselves into torment and death, and all for a bounty that luck
offers to me in what many would think a lawful and suitable manner.
But not a farthing of such money shall cross my hand. White I was
born, and white will I die; clinging to color to the last, even
though the King's majesty, his governors, and all his councils,
both at home and in the colonies, forget from what they come, and
where they hope to go, and all for a little advantage in warfare.
No, no, warrior, hand of mine shall never molest your scalp, and
so your soul may rest in peace on the p'int of making a decent
appearance when the body comes to join it, in your own land of
Deerslayer arose as soon as he had spoken. Then he placed the body
of the dead man in a sitting posture, with its back against the
little rock, taking the necessary care to prevent it from falling
or in any way settling into an attitude that might be thought
unseemly by the sensitive, though wild notions of a savage. When
this duty was performed, the young man stood gazing at the grim
countenance of his fallen foe, in a sort of melancholy abstraction.
As was his practice, however, a habit gained by living so much
alone in the forest, he then began again to give utterance to his
thoughts and feelings aloud.
"I didn't wish your life, red-skin," he said "but you left me no
choice atween killing or being killed. Each party acted according
to his gifts, I suppose, and blame can light on neither. You were
treacherous, according to your natur' in war, and I was a little
oversightful, as I'm apt to be in trusting others. Well, this is
my first battle with a human mortal, though it's not likely to be
the last. I have fou't most of the creatur's of the forest, such as
bears, wolves, painters, and catamounts, but this is the beginning
with the red-skins. If I was Injin born, now, I might tell of
this, or carry in the scalp, and boast of the expl'ite afore the
whole tribe; or, if my inimy had only been even a bear, 'twould have
been nat'ral and proper to let everybody know what had happened;
but I don't well see how I'm to let even Chingachgook into this
secret, so long as it can be done only by boasting with a white
tongue. And why should I wish to boast of it a'ter all? It's
slaying a human, although he was a savage; and how do I know that
he was a just Injin; and that he has not been taken away suddenly
to anything but happy hunting-grounds. When it's onsartain whether
good or evil has been done, the wisest way is not to be boastful -
still, I should like Chingachgook to know that I haven't discredited
the Delawares, or my training!"
Part of this was uttered aloud, while part was merely muttered
between the speaker's teeth; his more confident opinions enjoying
the first advantage, while his doubts were expressed in the latter
mode. Soliloquy and reflection received a startling interruption,
however, by the sudden appearance of a second Indian on the lake
shore, a few hundred yards from the point. This man, evidently
another scout, who had probably been drawn to the place by
the reports of the rifles, broke out of the forest with so little
caution that Deerslayer caught a view of his person before he was
himself discovered. When the latter event did occur, as was the
case a moment later, the savage gave a loud yell, which was answered
by a dozen voices from different parts of the mountainside. There
was no longer any time for delay; in another minute the boat was
quitting the shore under long and steady sweeps of the paddle.
As soon as Deerslayer believed himself to be at a safe distance he
ceased his efforts, permitting the little bark to drift, while he
leisurely took a survey of the state of things. The canoe first
sent adrift was floating before the air, quite a quarter of a mile
above him, and a little nearer to the shore than he wished, now
that he knew more of the savages were so near at hand. The canoe
shoved from the point was within a few yards of him, he having
directed his own course towards it on quitting the land. The dead
Indian lay in grim quiet where he had left him, the warrior who had
shown himself from the forest had already vanished, and the woods
themselves were as silent and seemingly deserted as the day they
came fresh from the hands of their great Creator. This profound
stillness, however, lasted but a moment. When time had been given
to the scouts of the enemy to reconnoitre, they burst out of the
thicket upon the naked point, filling the air with yells of fury
at discovering the death of their companion. These cries were
immediately succeeded by shouts of delight when they reached the
body and clustered eagerly around it. Deerslayer was a sufficient
adept in the usages of the natives to understand the reason of the
change. The yell was the customary lamentation at the loss of a
warrior, the shout a sign of rejoicing that the conqueror had not
been able to secure the scalp; the trophy, without which a victory
is never considered complete. The distance at which the canoes
lay probably prevented any attempts to injure the conqueror, the
American Indian, like the panther of his own woods, seldom making
any effort against his foe unless tolerably certain it is under
circumstances that may be expected to prove effective.
As the young man had no longer any motive to remain near the point,
he prepared to collect his canoes, in order to tow them off to the
castle. That nearest was soon in tow, when he proceeded in quest
of the other, which was all this time floating up the lake. The
eye of Deerslayer was no sooner fastened on this last boat, than it
struck him that it was nearer to the shore than it would have been
had it merely followed the course of the gentle current of air.
He began to suspect the influence of some unseen current in the
water, and he quickened his exertions, in order to regain possession
of it before it could drift into a dangerous proximity to the woods.
On getting nearer, he thought that the canoe had a perceptible motion
through the water, and, as it lay broadside to the air, that this
motion was taking it towards the land. A few vigorous strokes of
the paddle carried him still nearer, when the mystery was explained.
Something was evidently in motion on the off side of the canoe, or
that which was farthest from himself, and closer scrutiny showed
that it was a naked human arm. An Indian was lying in the bottom
of the canoe, and was propelling it slowly but certainly to the
shore, using his hand as a paddle. Deerslayer understood the whole
artifice at a glance. A savage had swum off to the boat while he
was occupied with his enemy on the point, got possession, and was
using these means to urge it to the shore.
Satisfied that the man in the canoe could have no arms, Deerslayer
did not hesitate to dash close alongside of the retiring boat,
without deeming it necessary to raise his own rifle. As soon as
the wash of the water, which he made in approaching, became audible
to the prostrate savage, the latter sprang to his feet, and uttered
an exclamation that proved how completely he was taken by surprise.
"If you've enj'yed yourself enough in that canoe, red-skin,"
Deerslayer coolly observed, stopping his own career in sufficient
time to prevent an absolute collision between the two boats, - "if
you've enj'yed yourself enough in that canoe, you'll do a prudent
act by taking to the lake ag'in. I'm reasonable in these matters,
and don't crave your blood, though there's them about that would
look upon you more as a due-bill for the bounty than a human mortal.
Take to the lake this minute, afore we get to hot words."
The savage was one of those who did not understand a word of
English, and he was indebted to the gestures of Deerslayer, and
to the expression of an eye that did not often deceive, for an
imperfect comprehension of his meaning. Perhaps, too, the sight
of the rifle that lay so near the hand of the white man quickened
his decision. At all events, he crouched like a tiger about to
take his leap, uttered a yell, and the next instant his naked body
disappeared in the water. When he rose to take breath, it was at
the distance of several yards from the canoe, and the hasty glance
he threw behind him denoted how much he feared the arrival of a
fatal messenger from the rifle of his foe. But the young man made
no indication of any hostile intention. Deliberately securing the
canoe to the others, he began to paddle from the shore; and by the
time the Indian reached the land, and had shaken himself, like a
spaniel, on quitting the water, his dreaded enemy was already beyond
rifle-shot on his way to the castle. As was so much his practice,
Deerslayer did not fail to soliloquize on what had just occurred,
while steadily pursuing his course towards the point of destination.
"Well, well," - he commenced, - "'twould have been wrong to kill
a human mortal without an object. Scalps are of no account with
me, and life is sweet, and ought not to be taken marcilessly by
them that have white gifts. The savage was a Mingo, it's true;
and I make no doubt he is, and will be as long as he lives, a ra'al
riptyle and vagabond; but that's no reason I should forget my gifts
and color. No, no, - let him go; if ever we meet ag'in, rifle
in hand, why then 'twill be seen which has the stoutest heart and
the quickest eye. Hawkeye! That's not a bad name for a warrior,
sounding much more manful and valiant than Deerslayer! 'Twouldn't
be a bad title to begin with, and it has been fairly 'arned. If
't was Chingachgook, now, he might go home and boast of his deeds,
and the chiefs would name him Hawkeye in a minute; but it don't
become white blood to brag, and 't isn't easy to see how the matter
can be known unless I do. Well, well, - everything is in the hands
of Providence; this affair as well as another; I'll trust to that
for getting my desarts in all things."
Having thus betrayed what might be termed his weak spot, the young
man continued to paddle in silence, making his way diligently, and
as fast as his tows would allow him, towards the castle. By this
time the sun had not only risen, but it had appeared over the eastern
mountains, and was shedding a flood of glorious light on this as
yet unchristened sheet of water. The whole scene was radiant with
beauty; and no one unaccustomed to the ordinary history of the
woods would fancy it had so lately witnessed incidents so ruthless
and barbarous. As he approached the building of old Hutter, Deerslayer
thought, or rather felt that its appearance was in singular harmony
with all the rest of the scene. Although nothing had been consulted
but strength and security, the rude, massive logs, covered with
their rough bark, the projecting roof, and the form, would contribute
to render the building picturesque in almost any situation, while
its actual position added novelty and piquancy to its other points
When Deerslayer drew nearer to the castle, however, objects of
interest presented themselves that at once eclipsed any beauties
that might have distinguished the scenery of the lake, and the site
of the singular edifice. Judith and Hetty stood on the platform
before the door, Hurry's dooryard awaiting his approach with
manifest anxiety; the former, from time to time, taking a survey of
his person and of the canoes through the old ship's spyglass that
has been already mentioned. Never probably did this girl seem more
brilliantly beautiful than at that moment; the flush of anxiety
and alarm increasing her color to its richest tints, while the
softness of her eyes, a charm that even poor Hetty shared with her,
was deepened by intense concern. Such, at least, without pausing
or pretending to analyze motives, or to draw any other very nice
distinction between cause and effect, were the opinions of the young
man as his canoes reached the side of the ark, where he carefully
fastened all three before he put his foot on the platform.
"His words are bonds, his oaths are oracles;
His love sincere, his thoughts immaculate;
His tears pure messengers sent from his heart;
His heart as far from fraud as heaven from earth."
Two Gentlemen of Verona, II.vii,75-78
Neither of the girls spoke as Deerslayer stood before them alone,
his countenance betraying all the apprehension he felt on account
of two absent members of their party.
"Father!" Judith at length exclaimed, succeeding in uttering the
word, as it might be by a desperate effort.
"He's met with misfortune, and there's no use in concealing it,"
answered Deerslayer, in his direct and simple minded manner. "He
and Hurry are in Mingo hands, and Heaven only knows what's to be the
tarmination. I've got the canoes safe, and that's a consolation,
since the vagabonds will have to swim for it, or raft off, to come
near this place. At sunset we'll be reinforced by Chingachgook,
if I can manage to get him into a canoe; and then, I think, we two
can answer for the ark and the castle, till some of the officers
in the garrisons hear of this war-path, which sooner or later must
be the case, when we may look for succor from that quarter, if from
"The officers!" exclaimed Judith, impatiently, her color deepening,
and her eye expressing a lively but passing emotion. "Who thinks
or speaks of the heartless gallants now? We are sufficient of
ourselves to defend the castle. But what of my father, and of poor
"'T is natural you should feel this consarn for your own parent,
Judith, and I suppose it's equally so that you should feel it for
Hurry Harry, too."
Deerslayer then commenced a succinct but clear narrative of all
that occurred during the night, in no manner concealing what had
befallen his two companions, or his own opinion of what might prove
to be the consequences. The girls listened with profound attention,
but neither betrayed that feminine apprehension and concern which
would have followed such a communication when made to those who were
less accustomed to the hazards and accidents of a frontier life.
To the surprise of Deerslayer, Judith seemed the most distressed,
Hetty listening eagerly, but appearing to brood over the facts
in melancholy silence, rather than betraying any outward signs of
feeling. The former's agitation, the young man did not fail to
attribute to the interest she felt in Hurry, quite as much as to
her filial love, while Hetty's apparent indifference was ascribed
to that mental darkness which, in a measure, obscured her intellect,
and which possibly prevented her from foreseeing all the consequences.
Little was said, however, by either, Judith and her sister busying
themselves in making the preparations for the morning meal, as they
who habitually attend to such matters toil on mechanically even
in the midst of suffering and sorrow. The plain but nutritious
breakfast was taken by all three in sombre silence. The girls
ate little, but Deerslayer gave proof of possessing one material
requisite of a good soldier, that of preserving his appetite in
the midst of the most alarming and embarrassing circumstances. The
meal was nearly ended before a syllable was uttered; then, however,
Judith spoke in the convulsive and hurried manner in which feeling
breaks through restraint, after the latter has become more painful
than even the betrayal of emotion.
"Father would have relished this fish," she exclaimed; "he says the
salmon of the lakes is almost as good as the salmon of the sea."
"Your father has been acquainted with the sea, they tell me, Judith,"
returned the young man, who could not forbear throwing a glance of
inquiry at the girl; for in common with all who knew Hutter, he had
some curiosity on the subject of his early history. "Hurry Harry
tells me he was once a sailor."
Judith first looked perplexed; then, influenced by feelings that
were novel to her, in more ways than one, she became suddenly
communicative, and seemingly much interested in the discourse.
"If Hurry knows anything of father's history, I would he had told
it to me!" she cried. "Sometimes I think, too, he was once a sailor,
and then again I think he was not. If that chest were open, or if
it could speak, it might let us into his whole history. But its
fastenings are too strong to be broken like pack thread."
Deerslayer turned to the chest in question, and for the first time
examined it closely. Although discolored, and bearing proofs of
having received much ill-treatment, he saw that it was of materials
and workmanship altogether superior to anything of the same sort
he had ever before beheld. The wood was dark, rich, and had once
been highly polished, though the treatment it had received left
little gloss on its surface, and various scratches and indentations
proved the rough collisions that it had encountered with substances
still harder than itself. The corners were firmly bound with
steel, elaborately and richly wrought, while the locks, of which
it had no less than three, and the hinges, were of a fashion and
workmanship that would have attracted attention even in a warehouse
of curious furniture. This chest was quite large; and when Deerslayer
arose, and endeavored to raise an end by its massive handle, he
found that the weight fully corresponded with the external appearance.
"Did you never see that chest opened, Judith?" the young man
demanded with frontier freedom, for delicacy on such subjects was
little felt among the people on the verge of civilization, in that
age, even if it be today.
"Never. Father has never opened it in my presence, if he ever
opens it at all. No one here has ever seen its lid raised, unless
it be father; nor do I even know that he has ever seen it."
"Now you're wrong, Judith," Hetty quietly answered. "Father has
raised the lid, and I've seen him do it."
A feeling of manliness kept the mouth of Deerslayer shut; for, while
he would not have hesitated about going far beyond what would be
thought the bounds of propriety, in questioning the older sister,
he had just scruples about taking what might be thought an advantage
of the feeble intellect of the younger. Judith, being under no
such restraint, however, turned quickly to the last speaker and
continued the discourse.
"When and where did you ever see that chest opened, Hetty?"
"Here, and again and again. Father often opens it when you are
away, though he don't in the least mind my being by, and seeing
all he does, as well as hearing all he says."
"And what is it that he does, and what does he say?"
"That I cannot tell you, Judith," returned the other in a low but
resolute voice. "Father's secrets are not my secrets."
"Secrets! This is stranger still, Deerslayer, that father should
tell them to Hetty, and not tell them to me!"
"There's a good reason for that, Judith, though you're not to know
it. Father's not here to answer for himself, and I'll say no more
Judith and Deerslayer looked surprised, and for a minute the first
seemed pained. But, suddenly recollecting herself, she turned away
from her sister, as if in pity for her weakness and addressed the
"You've told but half your story," she said, "breaking off at the
place where you went to sleep in the canoe - or rather where you
rose to listen to the cry of the loon. We heard the call of the
loons, too, and thought their cries might bring a storm, though
we are little used to tempests on this lake at this season of the
"The winds blow and the tempests howl as God pleases; sometimes at
one season, and sometimes at another," answered Deerslayer; "and
the loons speak accordin' to their natur'. Better would it be if
men were as honest and frank. After I rose to listen to the birds,
finding it could not be Hurry's signal, I lay down and slept. When
the day dawned I was up and stirring, as usual, and then I went in
chase of the two canoes, lest the Mingos should lay hands on 'em."
"You have not told us all, Deerslayer," said Judith earnestly. "We
heard rifles under the eastern mountain; the echoes were full and
long, and came so soon after the reports, that the pieces must
have been fired on or quite near to the shore. Our ears are used
to these signs, and are not to be deceived."
"They've done their duty, gal, this time; yes, they've done their
duty. Rifles have been sighted this morning, ay, and triggers pulled,
too, though not as often a they might have been. One warrior has
gone to his happy hunting-grounds, and that's the whole of it. A
man of white blood and white gifts is not to be expected to boast
of his expl'ites and to flourish scalps."
Judith listened almost breathlessly; and when Deerslayer, in his
quiet, modest manner, seemed disposed to quit the subject, she
rose, and crossing the room, took a seat by his side. The manner
of the girl had nothing forward about it, though it betrayed
the quick instinct of a female's affection, and the sympathizing
kindness of a woman's heart. She even took the hard hand of the
hunter, and pressed it in both her own, unconsciously to herself,
perhaps, while she looked earnestly and even reproachfully into
his sun burnt face.
"You have been fighting the savages, Deerslayer, singly and by
yourself!" she said. "In your wish to take care of us -- of Hetty
-- of me, perhaps, you've fought the enemy bravely, with no eye
to encourage your deeds, or to witness your fall, had it pleased
Providence to suffer so great a calamity!"
"I've fou't, Judith; yes, I have fou't the inimy, and that too, for
the first time in my life. These things must be, and they bring
with 'em a mixed feelin' of sorrow and triumph. Human natur' is
a fightin' natur', I suppose, as all nations kill in battle, and
we must be true to our rights and gifts. What has yet been done
is no great matter, but should Chingachgook come to the rock this
evening, as is agreed atween us, and I get him off it onbeknown to
the savages or, if known to them, ag'in their wishes and designs,
then may we all look to something like warfare, afore the Mingos
shall get possession of either the castle, or the ark, or yourselves."
"Who is this Chingachgook; from what place does he come, and why
does he come here ?"
"The questions are nat'ral and right, I suppose, though the
youth has a great name, already, in his own part of the country.
Chingachgook is a Mohican by blood, consorting with the Delawares
by usage, as is the case with most of his tribe, which has long
been broken up by the increase of our color. He is of the family
of the great chiefs; Uncas, his father, having been the considerablest
warrior and counsellor of his people. Even old Tamenund honors
Chingachgook, though he is thought to be yet too young to lead
in war; and then the nation is so disparsed and diminished, that
chieftainship among 'em has got to be little more than a name.
"Well, this war having commenced in 'arnest, the Delaware and I
rendezvous'd an app'intment, to meet this evening at sunset on the
rendezvous-rock at the foot of this very lake, intending to come
out on our first hostile expedition ag'in the Mingos. Why we come
exactly this a way is our own secret; but thoughtful young men on
the war-path, as you may suppose, do nothing without a calculation
and a design."
"A Delaware can have no unfriendly intentions towards us," said
Judith, after a moment's hesitation, "and we know you to be friendly."
"Treachery is the last crime I hope to be accused of," returned
Deerslayer, hurt at the gleam of distrust that had shot through
Judith's mind; "and least of all, treachery to my own color."
"No one suspects you, Deerslayer," the girl impetuously cried. "No
- no -your honest countenance would be sufficient surety for the
truth of a thousand hearts! If all men had as honest tongues, and
no more promised what they did not mean to perform, there would be
less wrong done in the world, and fine feathers and scarlet cloaks
would not be excuses for baseness and deception."
The girl spoke with strong, nay, even with convulsed feeling, and
her fine eyes, usually so soft and alluring, flashed fire as she
concluded. Deerslayer could not but observe this extraordinary
emotion; but with the tact of a courtier, he avoided not only any
allusion to the circumstance, but succeeded in concealing the effect
of his discovery on himself. Judith gradually grew calm again,
and as she was obviously anxious to appear to advantage in the eyes
of the young man, she was soon able to renew the conversation as
composedly as if nothing had occurred to disturb her.
"I have no right to look into your secrets, or the secrets of your
friend, Deerslayer," she continued, "and am ready to take all you
say on trust. If we can really get another male ally to join us
at this trying moment, it will aid us much; and I am not without
hope that when the savages find that we are able to keep the lake,
they will offer to give up their prisoners in exchange for skins,
or at least for the keg of powder that we have in the house."
The young man had the words "scalps" and "bounty" on his lips, but
a reluctance to alarm the feelings of the daughters prevented him
from making the allusion he had intended to the probable fate of
their father. Still, so little was he practised in the arts of
deception, that his expressive countenance was, of itself, understood
by the quick-witted Judith, whose intelligence had been sharpened
by the risks and habits of her life.
"I understand what you mean," she continued, hurriedly, "and what
you would say, but for the fear of hurting me - us, I mean; for
Hetty loves her father quite as well as I do. But this is not
as we think of Indians. They never scalp an unhurt prisoner, but
would rather take him away alive, unless, indeed, the fierce wish
for torturing should get the mastery of them. I fear nothing for
my father's scalp, and little for his life. Could they steal on
us in the night, we should all probably suffer in this way; but
men taken in open strife are seldom injured; not, at least, until
the time of torture comes."
"That's tradition, I'll allow, and it's accordin' to practice -but,
Judith, do you know the arr'nd on which your father and Hurry went
ag'in the savages?"
"I do; and a cruel errand it was! But what will you have? Men
will be men, and some even that flaunt in their gold and silver,
and carry the King's commission in their pockets, are not guiltless
of equal cruelty." Judith's eye again flashed, but by a desperate
struggle she resumed her composure. "I get warm when I think of
all the wrong that men do," she added, affecting to smile, an effort
in which she only succeeded indifferently well. "All this is silly.
What is done is done, and it cannot be mended by complaints. But
the Indians think so little of the shedding of blood, and value
men so much for the boldness of their undertakings, that, did they
know the business on which their prisoners came, they would be more
likely to honor than to injure them for it."
"For a time, Judith; yes, I allow that, for a time. But when that
feelin' dies away, then will come the love of revenge. We must
indivor, -Chingachgook and I, - we must indivor to see what we can
do to get Hurry and your father free; for the Mingos will no doubt
hover about this lake some days, in order to make the most of their
"You think this Delaware can be depended on, Deerslayer?" demanded
the girl, thoughtfully.
"As much as I can myself. You say you do not suspect me, Judith?"
"You!" taking his hand again, and pressing it between her own,
with a warmth that might have awakened the vanity of one less
simple-minded, and more disposed to dwell on his own good qualities,
"I would as soon suspect a brother! I have known you but a day,
Deerslayer, but it has awakened the confidence of a year. Your name,
however, is not unknown to me; for the gallants of the garrisons
frequently speak of the lessons you have given them in hunting,
and all proclaim your honesty."
"Do they ever talk of the shooting, gal?" inquired the other
eagerly, after, however, laughing in a silent but heartfelt manner.
"Do they ever talk of the shooting? I want to hear nothing about
my own, for if that isn't sartified to by this time, in all these
parts, there's little use in being skilful and sure; but what do
the officers say of their own - yes, what do they say of their own?
Arms, as they call it, is their trade, and yet there's some among
'em that know very little how to use 'em!"
"Such I hope will not be the case with your friend Chingachgook,
as you call him - what is the English of his Indian name?"
"Big Sarpent - so called for his wisdom and cunning, Uncas is his
ra'al name -all his family being called Uncas until they get a
title that has been 'arned by deeds."
"If he has all this wisdom, we may expect a useful friend in him,
unless his own business in this part of the country should prevent
him from serving us."
"I see no great harm in telling you his arr'nd, a'ter all, and, as
you may find means to help us, I will let you and Hetty into the
whole matter, trusting that you'll keep the secret as if it was
your own. You must know that Chingachgook is a comely Injin, and
is much looked upon and admired by the young women of his tribe,
both on account of his family, and on account of himself. Now,
there is a chief that has a daughter called Wah-ta-Wah, which is
intarpreted into Hist-oh-Hist, in the English tongue, the rarest gal
among the Delawares, and the one most sought a'ter and craved for
a wife by all the young warriors of the nation. Well, Chingachgook,
among others, took a fancy to Wah-ta-Wah, and Wah-ta-Wah took a
fancy to him." Here Deerslayer paused an instant; for, as he got
thus far in his tale, Hetty Hutter arose, approached, and stood
attentive at his knee, as a child draws near to listen to the
legends of its mother. "Yes, he fancied her, and she fancied him,"
resumed Deerslayer, casting a friendly and approving glance at the
innocent and interested girl; "and when that is the case, and all
the elders are agreed, it does not often happen that the young
couple keep apart. Chingachgook couldn't well carry off such a
prize without making inimies among them that wanted her as much as
he did himself. A sartain Briarthorn, as we call him in English,
or Yocommon, as he is tarmed in Injin, took it most to heart, and
we mistrust him of having a hand in all that followed.
Wah-ta-Wah went with her father and mother, two moons ago, to fish
for salmon on the western streams, where it is agreed by all in
these parts that fish most abounds, and while thus empl'yed the
gal vanished. For several weeks we could get no tidings of her;
but here, ten days since, a runner, that came through the Delaware
country, brought us a message, by which we learn that Wah-ta-Wah
was stolen from her people, we think, but do not know it, by
Briarthorn's sarcumventions,-and that she was now with the inimy,
who had adopted her, and wanted her to marry a young Mingo. The
message said that the party intended to hunt and forage through
this region for a month or two, afore it went back into the Canadas,
and that if we could contrive to get on a scent in this quarter,
something might turn up that would lead to our getting the maiden
"And how does that concern you, Deerslayer?" demanded Judith, a
"It consarns me, as all things that touches a fri'nd consarns a
fri'nd. I'm here as Chingachgook's aid and helper, and if we can
get the young maiden he likes back ag'in, it will give me almost
as much pleasure as if I had got back my own sweetheart."
"And where, then, is your sweetheart, Deerslayer?"
"She's in the forest, Judith - hanging from the boughs of the
trees, in a soft rain - in the dew on the open grass - the clouds
that float about in the blue heavens - the birds that sing in the
woods - the sweet springs where I slake my thirst - and in all the
other glorious gifts that come from God's Providence!"
"You mean that, as yet, you've never loved one of my sex, but love
best your haunts, and your own manner of life."
"That's it - that's just it. I am white - have a white heart and
can't, in reason, love a red-skinned maiden, who must have a red-skin
heart and feelin's. No, no, I'm sound enough in them partic'lars,
and hope to remain so, at least till this war is over. I find my
time too much taken up with Chingachgook's affair, to wish to have
one of my own on my hands afore that is settled."
"The girl that finally wins you, Deerslayer, will at least win an
honest heart, - one without treachery or guile; and that will be
a victory that most of her sex ought to envy."
As Judith uttered this, her beautiful face had a resentful frown on
it; while a bitter smile lingered around a mouth that no derangement
of the muscles could render anything but handsome. Her companion
observed the change, and though little skilled in the workings of
the female heart, he had sufficient native delicacy to understand
that it might be well to drop the subject.
As the hour when Chingachgook was expected still remained distant,
Deerslayer had time enough to examine into the state of the defences,
and to make such additional arrangements as were in his power, and
the exigency of the moment seemed to require. The experience and
foresight of Hutter had left little to be done in these particulars;
still, several precautions suggested themselves to the young man,
who may be said to have studied the art of frontier warfare, through
the traditions and legends of the people among whom he had so long
lived. The distance between the castle and the nearest point on the
shore, prevented any apprehension on the subject of rifle-bullets
thrown from the land. The house was within musket-shot in one
sense, it was true, but aim was entirely out of the question, and
even Judith professed a perfect disregard of any danger from that
source. So long, then, as the party remained in possession of the
fortress, they were safe, unless their assailants could find the
means to come off and carry it by fire or storm, or by some of the
devices of Indian cunning and Indian treachery.
Against the first source of danger Hutter had made ample provision,
and the building itself, the bark roof excepted, was not very
combustible. The floor was scuttled in several places, and buckets
provided with ropes were in daily use, in readiness for any such
emergency. One of the girls could easily extinguish any fire that
might be lighted, provided it had not time to make much headway.
Judith, who appeared to understand all her father's schemes of
defence, and who had the spirit to take no unimportant share in the
execution of them, explained all these details to the young man,
who was thus saved much time and labor in making his investigations.
Little was to be apprehended during the day. In possession of
the canoes and of the ark, no other vessel was to be found on the
lake. Nevertheless, Deerslayer well knew that a raft was soon made,
and, as dead trees were to be found in abundance near the water,
did the savages seriously contemplate the risks of an assault, it
would not be a very difficult matter to find the necessary means.
The celebrated American axe, a tool that is quite unrivalled in
its way, was then not very extensively known, and the savages were
far from expert in the use of its hatchet-like substitute; still,
they had sufficient practice in crossing streams by this mode to
render it certain they would construct a raft, should they deem
it expedient to expose themselves to the risks of an assault. The
death of their warrior might prove a sufficient incentive, or it
might act as a caution; but Deerslayer thought it more than possible
that the succeeding night would bring matters to a crisis, and
in this precise way. This impression caused him to wish ardently
for the presence and succor of his Mohican friend, and to look
forward to the approach of sunset with an increasing anxiety.
As the day advanced, the party in the castle matured their plans,
and made their preparations. Judith was active, and seemed to find
a pleasure in consulting and advising with her new acquaintance,
whose indifference to danger, manly devotion to herself and sister,
guilelessness of manner, and truth of feeling, had won rapidly on
both her imagination and her affections. Although the hours appeared
long in some respects to Deerslayer, Judith did not find them so,
and when the sun began to descend towards the pine-clad summits of
the western hills, she felt and expressed her surprise that the day
should so soon be drawing to a close. On the other hand, Hetty was
moody and silent. She was never loquacious, or if she occasionally
became communicative, it was under the influence of some temporary
excitement that served to arouse her unsophisticated mind; but,
for hours at a time, in the course of this all-important day, she
seemed to have absolutely lost the use of her tongue. Nor did
apprehension on account of her father materially affect the manner
of either sister. Neither appeared seriously to dread any evil
greater than captivity, and once or twice, when Hetty did speak,
she intimated the expectation that Hutter would find the means to
liberate himself. Although Judith was less sanguine on this head,
she too betrayed the hope that propositions for a ransom would come,
when the Indians discovered that the castle set their expedients
and artifices at defiance. Deerslayer, however, treated these
passing suggestions as the ill-digested fancies of girls, making
his own arrangements as steadily, and brooding over the future as
seriously, as if they had never fallen from their lips.
At length the hour arrived when it became necessary to proceed to
the place of rendezvous appointed with the Mohican, or Delaware,
as Chingachgook was more commonly called. As the plan had been
matured by Deerslayer, and fully communicated to his companions,
all three set about its execution, in concert, and intelligently.
Hetty passed into the ark, and fastening two of the canoes together, she
entered one, and paddled up to a sort of gateway in the palisadoes
that surrounded the building, through which she carried both;
securing them beneath the house by chains that were fastened within
the building. These palisadoes were trunks of trees driven firmly
into the mud, and served the double purpose of a small inclosure
that was intended to be used in this very manner, and to keep any
enemy that might approach in boats at arm's length. Canoes thus
docked were, in a measure, hid from sight, and as the gate was
properly barred and fastened, it would not be an easy task to remove
them, even in the event of their being seen. Previously, however,
to closing the gate, Judith also entered within the inclosure with
the third canoe, leaving Deerslayer busy in securing the door and
windows inside the building, over her head. As everything was
massive and strong, and small saplings were used as bars, it would
have been the work of an hour or two to break into the building,
when Deerslayer had ended his task, even allowing the assailants
the use of any tools but the axe, and to be unresisted. This
attention to security arose from Hutter's having been robbed once
or twice by the lawless whites of the frontiers, during some of
his many absences from home.
As soon as all was fast in the inside of the dwelling, Deerslayer
appeared at a trap, from which he descended into the canoe of
Judith. When this was done, he fastened the door with a massive
staple and stout padlock. Hetty was then received in the canoe,
which was shoved outside of the palisadoes. The next precaution
was to fasten the gate, and the keys were carried into the ark.
The three were now fastened out of the dwelling, which could only
be entered by violence, or by following the course taken by the
young man in quitting it. The glass had been brought outside as a
preliminary step, and Deerslayer next took a careful survey of the
entire shore of the lake, as far as his own position would allow.
Not a living thing was visible, a few birds excepted, and even the
last fluttered about in the shades of the trees, as if unwilling to
encounter the heat of a sultry afternoon. All the nearest points,
in particular, were subjected to severe scrutiny, in order to make
certain that no raft was in preparation; the result everywhere giving
the same picture of calm solitude. A few words will explain the
greatest embarrassment belonging to the situation of our party. Exposed
themselves to the observation of any watchful eyes, the movements
of their enemies were concealed by the drapery of a dense forest.
While the imagination would be very apt to people the latter with
more warriors than it really contained, their own weakness must
be too apparent to all who might chance to cast a glance in their
"Nothing is stirring, howsever," exclaimed Deerslayer, as he finally
lowered the glass, and prepared to enter the ark. "If the vagabonds
do harbor mischief in their minds, they are too cunning to let it
be seen; it's true, a raft may be in preparation in the woods, but
it has not yet been brought down to the lake. They can't guess
that we are about to quit the castle, and, if they did, they've no
means of knowing where we intend to go."
"This is so true, Deerslayer," returned Judith, "that now all
is ready, we may proceed at once, boldly, and without the fear of
being followed; else we shall be behind our time."
"No, no; the matter needs management; for, though the savages
are in the dark as to Chingachgook and the rock, they've eyes and
legs, and will see in what direction we steer, and will be sartain
to follow us. I shall strive to baffle 'em, howsever, by heading
the scow in all manner of ways, first in one quarter and then in
another, until they get to be a-leg-weary, and tired of tramping
So far as it was in his power, Deerslayer was as good as his word.
In less than five minutes after this speech was made, the whole
party was in the ark, and in motion. There was a gentle breeze
from the north, and boldly hoisting the sail, the young man laid
the head of the unwieldy craft in such a direction, as, after making
a liberal but necessary allowance for leeway, would have brought
it ashore a couple of miles down the lake, and on its eastern side.
The sailing of the ark was never very swift, though, floating as
it did on the surface, it was not difficult to get it in motion, or
to urge it along over the water at the rate of some three or four
miles in the hour. The distance between the castle and the rock
was a little more than two leagues. Knowing the punctuality of
an Indian, Deerslayer had made his calculations closely, and had
given himself a little more time than was necessary to reach the
place of rendezvous, with a view to delay or to press his arrival,
as might prove most expedient. When he hoisted the sail, the sun
lay above the western hills, at an elevation that promised rather
more than two hours of day; and a few minutes satisfied him that
the progress of the scow was such as to equal his expectations.
It was a glorious June afternoon, and never did that solitary sheet
of water seem less like an arena of strife and bloodshed. The light
air scarce descended as low as the bed of the lake, hovering over
it, as if unwilling to disturb its deep tranquillity, or to ruffle
its mirror-like surface. Even the forests appeared to be slumbering
in the sun, and a few piles of fleecy clouds had lain for hours
along the northern horizon like fixtures in the atmosphere, placed
there purely to embellish the scene. A few aquatic fowls occasionally
skimmed along the water, and a single raven was visible, sailing high
above the trees, and keeping a watchful eye on the forest beneath
him, in order to detect anything having life that the mysterious
woods might offer as prey.
The reader will probably have observed, that, amidst the frankness
and abruptness of manner which marked the frontier habits of Judith,
her language was superior to that used by her male companions, her
own father included. This difference extended as well to pronunciation
as to the choice of words and phrases. Perhaps nothing so soon
betrays the education and association as the modes of speech;
and few accomplishments so much aid the charm of female beauty
as a graceful and even utterance, while nothing so soon produces
the disenchantment that necessarily follows a discrepancy between
appearance and manner, as a mean intonation of voice, or a vulgar
use of words. Judith and her sister were marked exceptions to all
the girls of their class, along that whole frontier; the officers
of the nearest garrison having often flattered the former with the
belief that few ladies of the towns acquitted themselves better
than herself, in this important particular. This was far from
being literally true, but it was sufficiently near the fact to give
birth to the compliment. The girls were indebted to their mother
for this proficiency, having acquired from her, in childhood,
an advantage that no subsequent study or labor can give without
a drawback, if neglected beyond the earlier periods of life. Who
that mother was, or rather had been, no one but Hutter knew. She
had now been dead two summers, and, as was stated by Hurry, she had
been buried in the lake; whether in indulgence of a prejudice, or
from a reluctance to take the trouble to dig her grave, had frequently
been a matter of discussion between the rude beings of that region.
Judith had never visited the spot, but Hetty was present at the
interment, and she often paddled a canoe, about sunset or by the
light of the moon, to the place, and gazed down into the limpid
water, in the hope of being able to catch a glimpse of the form
that she had so tenderly loved from infancy to the sad hour of
"Must we reach the rock exactly at the moment the sun sets?" Judith
demanded of the young man, as they stood near each other, Deerslayer
holding the steering-oar, and she working with a needle at some
ornament of dress, that much exceeded her station in life, and was
altogether a novelty in the woods. "Will a few minutes, sooner or
later, alter the matter? It will be very hazardous to remain long
as near the shore as that rock!"
"That's it, Judith; that's the very difficulty! The rock's within
p'int blank for a shot-gun, and 'twill never do to hover about it
too close and too long. When you have to deal with an Injin, you
must calculate and manage, for a red natur' dearly likes sarcumvention.
Now you see, Judith, that I do not steer towards the rock at all,
but here to the eastward of it, whereby the savages will be tramping
off in that direction, and get their legs a-wearied, and all for
"You think, then, they see us, and watch our movements, Deerslayer?
I was in hopes they might have fallen back into the woods, and left
us to ourselves for a few hours."
"That's altogether a woman's consait. There's no let-up in an
Injin's watchfulness when he's on a war-path, and eyes are on us
at this minute, 'though the lake presarves us. We must draw near
the rock on a calculation, and indivor to get the miscreants on a
false scent. The Mingos have good noses, they tell me; but a white
man's reason ought always to equalize their instinct."
Judith now entered into a desultory discourse with Deerslayer, in
which the girl betrayed her growing interest in the young man; an
interest that his simplicity of mind and her decision of character,
sustained as it was by the consciousness awakened by the consideration
her personal charms so universally produced, rendered her less
anxious to conceal than might otherwise have been the case. She
was scarcely forward in her manner, though there was sometimes a
freedom in her glances that it required all the aid of her exceeding
beauty to prevent from awakening suspicions unfavorable to her
discretion, if not to her morals. With Deerslayer, however, these
glances were rendered less obnoxious to so unpleasant a construction;
for she seldom looked at him without discovering much of the
sincerity and nature that accompany the purest emotions of woman.
It was a little remarkable that, as his captivity lengthened,
neither of the girls manifested any great concern for her father;
but, as has been said already, their habits gave them confidence,
and they looked forward to his liberation, by means of a ransom,
with a confidence that might, in a great degree, account for their
apparent indifference. Once before, Hutter had been in the hands
of the Iroquois, and a few skins had readily effected his release.
This event, however, unknown to the sisters, had occurred in a
time of peace between England and France, and when the savages were
restrained, instead of being encouraged to commit their excesses,
by the policy of the different colonial governments.
While Judith was loquacious and caressing in her manner, Hetty
remained thoughtful and silent. Once, indeed, she drew near to
Deerslayer, and questioned him a little closely as to his intentions,
as well as concerning the mode of effecting his purpose; but her
wish to converse went no further. As soon as her simple queries
were answered - and answered they all were, in the fullest and
kindest manner - she withdrew to her scat, and continued to work
on a coarse garment that she was making for her father, sometimes
humming a low melancholy air, and frequently sighing.
In this manner the time passed away; and when the sun was beginning
to glow behind the fringe of the pines that bounded the western
hill, or about twenty minutes before it actually set, the ark was
nearly as low as the point where Hutter and Hurry had been made
prisoners. By sheering first to one side of the lake, and then to
the other, Deerslayer managed to create an uncertainty as to his
object; and, doubtless, the savages, who were unquestionably watching
his movements, were led to believe that his aim was to communicate
with them, at or near this spot, and would hasten in that direction,
in order to be in readiness to profit by circumstances. This
artifice was well managed; since the sweep of the bay, the curvature
of the lake, and the low marshy land that intervened, would probably
allow the ark to reach the rock before its pursuers, if really
collected near this point, could have time to make the circuit that
would be required to get there by land. With a view to aid this
deception, Deerslayer stood as near the western shore as was at all
prudent; and then causing Judith and Hetty to enter the house, or
cabin, and crouching himself so as to conceal his person by the
frame of the scow, he suddenly threw the head of the latter round,
and began to make the best of his way towards the outlet. Favored
by an increase in the wind, the progress of the ark was such as
to promise the complete success of this plan, though the crab-like
movement of the craft compelled the helmsman to keep its head looking
in a direction very different from that in which it was actually
"Yet art thou prodigal of smiles
-Smiles, sweeter than thy frowns are stern:
Earth sends from all her thousand isles,
A shout at thy return.
The glory that comes down from thee
Bathes, in deep joy, the land and sea."
Bryant, 'The Firmament," 11.19-24
It may assist the reader in understanding the events we are about
to record, if he has a rapidly sketched picture of the scene, placed
before his eyes at a single view. It will be remembered that the
lake was an irregularly shaped basin, of an outline that, in the
main, was oval, but with bays and points to relieve its formality
and ornament its shores. The surface of this beautiful sheet of
water was now glittering like a gem, in the last rays of the evening
sun, and the setting of the whole, hills clothed in the richest
forest verdure, was lighted up with a sort of radiant smile, that
is best described in the beautiful lines we have placed at the head
of this chapter. As the banks, with few exceptions, rose abruptly
from the water, even where the mountain did not immediately bound
the view, there was a nearly unbroken fringe of leaves overhanging
the placid lake, the trees starting out of the acclivities, inclining
to the light, until, in many instances they extended their long
limbs and straight trunks some forty or fifty feet beyond the line
of the perpendicular. In these cases we allude only to the giants
of the forest, pines of a hundred or a hundred and fifty feet in
height, for of the smaller growth, very many inclined so far as to
steep their lower branches in the water. In the position in which
the Ark had now got, the castle was concealed from view by the
projection of a point, as indeed was the northern extremity of the
lake itself. A respectable mountain, forest clad, and rounded,
like all the rest, limited the view in that direction, stretching
immediately across the whole of the fair scene, with the exception
of a deep bay that passed the western end, lengthening the basin,
for more than a mile.
The manner in which the water flowed out of the lake, beneath the
leafy arches of the trees that lined the sides of the stream, has
already been mentioned, and it has also been said that the rock,
which was a favorite place of rendezvous throughout all that region,
and where Deerslayer now expected to meet his friend, stood near this
outlet, and at no great distance from the shore. It was a large,
isolated stone that rested on the bottom of the lake, apparently
left there when the waters tore away the earth from around it,
in forcing for themselves a passage down the river, and which had
obtained its shape from the action of the elements, during the
slow progress of centuries. The height of this rock could scarcely
equal six feet, and, as has been said, its shape was not unlike
that which is usually given to beehives, or to a hay-cock. The
latter, indeed, gives the best idea not only of its form, but of
its dimensions. It stood, and still stands, for we are writing of
real scenes, within fifty feet of the bank, and in water that was
only two feet in depth, though there were seasons in which its
rounded apex, if such a term can properly be used, was covered by
the lake. Many of the trees stretched so far forward, as almost
to blend the rock with the shore, when seen from a little distance,
and one tall pine in particular overhung it in a way to form a
noble and appropriate canopy to a seat that had held many a forest
chieftain, during the long succession of unknown ages, in which
America, and all it contained, had existed apart, in mysterious
solitude, a world by itself; equally without a familiar history,
and without an origin that the annals of man can reach.
When distant some two or three hundred feet from the shore,
Deerslayer took in his sail. He dropped his grapnel, as soon as he
found the Ark had drifted in a line that was directly to windward
of the rock. The motion of the scow was then checked, when it
was brought head to wind, by the action of the breeze. As soon as
this was done, Deerslayer "paid out line," and suffered the vessel
to "set down" upon the rock, as fast as the light air could force
it to leeward. Floating entirely on the surface, this was soon
effected, and the young man checked the drift when he was told
that the stern of the scow was within fifteen or eighteen feet of
the desired spot.
In executing this maneuver, Deerslayer had proceeded promptly,
for, while he did not in the least doubt that he was both watched
and followed by the foe, he believed he distracted their movements,
by the apparent uncertainty of his own, and he knew they could have
no means of ascertaining that the rock was his aim, unless indeed
one of their prisoners had betrayed him; a chance so improbable in
itself, as to give him no concern. Notwithstanding the celerity
and decision his movements, he did not, however, venture so near
the shore without taking due precautions to effect a retreat, in
the event of its becoming necessary. He held the line in his hand,
and Judith was stationed at a loop, on the side of the cabin next
the shore, where she could watch the beach and the rock, and give
timely notice of the approach of either friend or foe. Hetty was
also placed on watch, but it was to keep the trees overhead in view,
lest some enemy might ascend one, and, by completely commanding
the interior of the scow render the defence of the hut, or cabin,
The sun had disappeared from the lake and valley, when Deerslayer
checked the Ark, in the manner mentioned. Still it wanted a few
minutes to the true sunset, and he knew Indian punctuality too well
to anticipate any unmanly haste in his friend. The great question
was, whether, surrounded by enemies as he was known to be, he
had escaped their toils. The occurrences of the last twenty-four
hours must be a secret to him, and like himself, Chingachgook was
yet young on a path. It was true, he came prepared to encounter
the party that withheld his promised bride, but he had no means
ascertaining the extent of the danger he ran, or the precise
positions occupied by either friends, or foes. In a word, the
trained sagacity, and untiring caution of an Indian were all he
had to rely on, amid the critical risks he unavoidably ran.
"Is the rock empty, Judith?" inquired Deerslayer, as soon as he
had checked the drift of the Ark, deeming it imprudent to venture
unnecessarily near the shore. "Is any thing to be seen of the
"Nothing, Deerslayer. Neither rock, shore, trees, nor lake seems
to have ever held a human form."
'Keep close, Judith - keep close, Hetty - a rifle has a prying eye,
a nimble foot, and a desperate fatal tongue. Keep close then, but
keep up actyve looks, and be on the alart. 'Twould grieve me to
the heart, did any harm befall either of you.'
"And you Deerslayer-" exclaimed Judith, turning her handsome face
from the loop, to bestow a gracious and grateful look on the young
man - "do you 'keep close', and have a proper care that the savages
do not catch a glimpse of you! A bullet might be as fatal to you
as to one of us; and the blow that you felt, would be felt by us
"No fear of me, Judith - no fear of me, my good gal. Do not look
this-a-way, although you look so pleasant and comely, but keep your
eyes on the rock, and the shore, and the-"
Deerslayer was interrupted by a slight exclamation from the girl,
who, in obedience to his hurried gestures, as much as in obedience
to his words, had immediately bent her looks again, in the opposite
"What is't? - What is't, Judith?" he hastily demanded - "Is any
thing to be seen?"
"There is a man on the rock! - An Indian warrior, in his paint
"Where does he wear his hawk's feather?" eagerly added Deerslayer,
relaxing his hold of the line, in readiness to drift nearer to
the place of rendezvous. "Is it fast to the war-lock, or does he
carry it above the left ear?"
"'Tis as you say, above the left ear; he smiles, too, and mutters
the word 'Mohican.'"
"God be praised, 'tis the Sarpent, at last!" exclaimed the young
man, suffering the line to slip through his hands, until hearing
a light bound, in the other end of the craft, he instantly checked
the rope, and began to haul it in, again, under the assurance that
his object was effected. At that moment the door of the cabin was
opened hastily, and, a warrior, darting through the little room,
stood at Deerslayer's side, simply uttering the exclamation "Hugh!"
At the next instant, Judith and Hetty shrieked, and the air was
filled with the yell of twenty savages, who came leaping through
the branches, down the bank, some actually falling headlong into
the water, in their haste.
"Pull, Deerslayer," cried Judith, hastily barring the door, in
order to prevent an inroad by the passage through which the Delaware
had just entered; "pull, for life and death - the lake is full of
savages, wading after us!"
The young men - for Chingachgook immediately came to his friend's
Assistance -needed no second bidding, but they applied themselves
to their task in a way that showed how urgent they deemed the occasion.
The great difficulty was in suddenly overcoming the inertia of so
large a mass, for once in motion, it was easy to cause the scow to
skim the water with all the necessary speed.
"Pull, Deerslayer, for Heaven's sake!" cried Judith, again at the
loop. "These wretches rush into the water like hounds following
their prey! Ah - the scow moves! and now, the water deepens,
to the arm-pits of the foremost, but they reach forward, and will
seize the Ark!"
A slight scream, and then a joyous laugh followed from the girl;
the first produced by a desperate effort of their pursuers, and the
last by its failure; the scow, which had now got fairly in motion
gliding ahead into deep water, with a velocity that set the designs
of their enemies at nought. As the two men were prevented by the
position of the cabin from seeing what passed astern, they were
compelled to inquire of the girls into the state of the chase.
"What now, Judith? - What next? - Do the Mingos still follow,
or are we quit of 'em, for the present," demanded Deerslayer, when
he felt the rope yielding as if the scow was going fast ahead,
and heard the scream and the laugh of the girl, almost in the same
"They have vanished! - One - the last - is just burying himself in
the bushes of the bank - There, he has disappeared in the shadows
of the trees! You have got your friend, and we are all safe!"
The two men now made another great effort, pulled the Ark up swiftly
to the grapnel, tripped it, and when the scow had shot some distance
and lost its way, they let the anchor drop again. Then, for the
first time since their meeting, they ceased their efforts. As the
floating house now lay several hundred feet from the shore, and
offered a complete protection against bullets, there was no longer
any danger or any motive for immediate exertion.
The manner in which the two friends now recognized each other, was
highly characteristic. Chingachgook, a noble, tall, handsome and
athletic young Indian warrior, first examined his rifle with care,
opening the pan to make sure that the priming was not wet, and,
assured of this important fact, he next cast furtive but observant
glances around him, at the strange habitation and at the two girls.
Still he spoke not, and most of all did he avoid the betrayal of
a womanish curiosity, by asking questions.
"Judith and Hetty" said Deerslayer, with an untaught, natural
courtesy -"this is the Mohican chief of whom you've heard me
speak; Chingachgook as he is called; which signifies Big Sarpent;
so named for his wisdom and prudence, and cunning, and my 'arliest
and latest fri'nd. I know'd it must be he, by the hawk's feather
over the left ear, most other warriors wearing 'em on the war-lock."
As Deerslayer ceased speaking, he laughed heartily, excited more
perhaps by the delight of having got his friend safe at his side,
under circumstances so trying, than by any conceit that happened
to cross his fancy, and exhibiting this outbreaking of feeling in
a manner that was a little remarkable, since his merriment was not
accompanied by any noise. Although Chingachgook both understood
and spoke English, he was unwilling to communicate his thoughts in
it, like most Indians, and when he had met Judith's cordial shake
of the hand, and Hetty's milder salute, in the courteous manner
that became a chief, he turned away, apparently to await the moment
when it might suit his friend to enter into an explanation of his
future intentions, and to give a narrative of what had passed since
their separation. The other understood his meaning, and discovered
his own mode of reasoning in the matter, by addressing the girls.
"This wind will soon die away altogether, now the sun is down," he
said, "and there is no need for rowing ag'in it. In half an hour,
or so, it will either be a flat calm, or the air will come off from
the south shore, when we will begin our journey back ag'in to the
castle; in the meanwhile, the Delaware and I will talk over matters,
and get correct idees of each other's notions consarning the course
we ought to take."
No one opposed this proposition, and the girls withdrew into the
cabin to prepare the evening meal, while the two young men took
their seats on the head of the scow and began to converse. The
dialogue was in the language of the Delawares. As that dialect,
however, is but little understood, even by the learned; we shall
not only on this, but on all subsequent occasions render such
parts as it may be necessary to give closely, into liberal English;
preserving, as far as possible, the idiom and peculiarities of the
respective speakers, by way of presenting the pictures in the most
graphic forms to the minds of the readers.
It is unnecessary to enter into the details first related by Deerslayer,
who gave a brief narrative of the facts that are already familiar
to those who have read our pages. In relating these events,
however, it may be well to say that the speaker touched only on the
outlines, more particularly abstaining from saying anything about
his encounter with, and victory over the Iroquois, as well as to
his own exertions in behalf of the two deserted young women. When
Deerslayer ended, the Delaware took up the narrative, in turn,
speaking sententiously and with grave dignity. His account was both
clear and short, nor was it embellished by any incidents that did
not directly concern the history of his departure from the villages
of his people, and his arrival in the valley of the Susquehannah.
On reaching the latter, which was at a point only half a mile south
of the outlet, he had soon struck a trail, which gave him notice
of the probable vicinity of enemies. Being prepared for such an
occurrence, the object of the expedition calling him directly into
the neighborhood of the party of Iroquois that was known to be out,
he considered the discovery as fortunate, rather than the reverse,
and took the usual precautions to turn it to account. First
following the river to its source, and ascertaining the position
of the rock, he met another trail, and had actually been hovering
for hours on the flanks of his enemies, watching equally for an
opportunity to meet his mistress, and to take a scalp; and it may
be questioned which he most ardently desired. He kept near the
lake, and occasionally he ventured to some spot where he could get
a view of what was passing on its surface. The Ark had been seen
and watched, from the moment it hove in sight, though the young
chief was necessarily ignorant that it was to be the instrument of
his effecting the desired junction with his friend. The uncertainty
of its movements, and the fact that it was unquestionably managed
by white men, soon led him to conjecture the truth, however, and
he held himself in readiness to get on board whenever a suitable
occasion might offer. As the sun drew near the horizon he repaired
to the rock, where, on emerging from the forest, he was gratified
in finding the Ark lying, apparently in readiness to receive him.
The manner of his appearance, and of his entrance into the craft
Although Chingachgook had been closely watching his enemies for
hours, their sudden and close pursuit as he reached the scow was
as much a matter of surprise to himself, as it had been to his
friend. He could only account for it by the fact of their being
more numerous than he had at first supposed, and by their having out
parties of the existence of which he was ignorant. Their regular,
and permanent encampment, if the word permanent can be applied to
the residence of a party that intended to remain out, in all probability,
but a few weeks, was not far from the spot where Hutter and Hurry
had fallen into their hands, and, as a matter of course, near a
"Well, Sarpent," asked Deerslayer, when the other had ended
his brief but spirited narrative, speaking always in the Delaware
tongue, which for the reader's convenience only we render into
the peculiar vernacular of the speaker - "Well, Sarpent, as you've
been scouting around these Mingos, have you anything to tell us of
their captyves, the father of these young women, and of another,
who, I somewhat conclude, is the lovyer of one of 'em."
"Chingachgook has seen them. An old man, and a young warrior -
the falling hemlock and the tall pine."
"You're not so much out, Delaware; you're not so much out. Old
Hutter is decaying, of a sartainty, though many solid blocks might
be hewn out of his trunk yet, and, as for Hurry Harry, so far as
height and strength and comeliness go, he may be called the pride
of the human forest. Were the men bound, or in any manner suffering
torture? I ask on account of the young women, who, I dare to say,
would be glad to know."
"It is not so, Deerslayer. The Mingos are too many to cage their
game. Some watch; some sleep; some scout; some hunt. The pale-faces
are treated like brothers to-day; to-morrow they will lose their
"Yes, that's red natur', and must be submitted to! Judith and
Hetty, here's comforting tidings for you, the Delaware telling
me that neither your father nor Hurry Harry is in suffering, but,
bating the loss of liberty, as well off as we are ourselves. Of
course they are kept in the camp; otherwise they do much as they
"I rejoice to hear this, Deerslayer," returned Judith, "and now
we are joined by your friend, I make no manner of question that we
shall find an opportunity to ransom the prisoners. If there are
any women in the camp, I have articles of dress that will catch
their eyes, and, should the worst come to the worst, we can open
the great chest, which I think will be found to hold things that
may tempt the chiefs."
"Judith," said the young man, looking up at her with a smile and
an expression of earnest curiosity, that in spite of the growing
obscurity did not escape the watchful looks of the girl, "can you
find it in your heart, to part with your own finery, to release
prisoners; even though one be your own father, and the other is
your sworn suitor and lovyer?"
The flush on the face of the girl arose in part from resentment,
but more perhaps from a gentler and a novel feeling, that, with
the capricious waywardness of taste, had been rapidly rendering
her more sensitive to the good opinion of the youth who questioned
her, than to that of any other person. Suppressing the angry
sensation, with instinctive quickness, she answered with a readiness
and truth, that caused her sister to draw near to listen, though
the obtuse intellect of the latter was far from comprehending the
workings of a heart as treacherous, as uncertain, and as impetuous
in its feelings, as that of the spoiled and flattered beauty.
"Deerslayer," answered Judith, after a moment's pause, "I shall be
honest with you. I confess that the time has been when what you
call finery, was to me the dearest thing on earth; but I begin to
feel differently. Though Hurry Harry is nought to me nor ever can
be, I would give all I own to set him free. If I would do this
for blustering, bullying, talking Hurry, who has nothing but good
looks to recommend him, you may judge what I would do for my own
"This sounds well, and is according to woman's gifts. Ah's, me!
The same feelin's is to be found among the young women of the
Delawares. I've known 'em, often and often, sacrifice their vanity
to their hearts. Tis as it should be - 'tis as it should be I
suppose, in both colours. Woman was created for the feelin's, and
is pretty much ruled by feelin'."
"Would the savages let father go, if Judith and I give them all
our best things?" demanded Hetty, in her innocent, mild, manner.
"Their women might interfere, good Hetty; yes, their women might
interfere with such an ind in view. But, tell me, Sarpent, how
is it as to squaws among the knaves; have they many of their own
women in the camp?"
The Delaware heard and understood all that passed, though with
Indian gravity and finesse he had sat with averted face, seemingly
inattentive to a discourse in which he had no direct concern.
Thus appealed to, however, he answered his friend in his ordinary
"Six -" he said, holding up all the fingers of one hand, and the
thumb of the other, "besides this." The last number denoted his
betrothed, whom, with the poetry and truth of nature, he described
by laying his hand on his own heart.
"Did you see her, chief - did you get a glimpse of her pleasant
countenance, or come close enough to her ear, to sing in it the
song she loves to hear?"
"No, Deerslayer - the trees were too many, and leaves covered their
boughs like clouds hiding' the heavens in a storm. But" - and
the young warrior turned his dark face towards his friend, with a
smile on it that illuminated its fierce-looking paint and naturally
stern lineaments with a bright gleam of human feeling, "Chingachgook
heard the laugh of Wah-ta-Wah, and knew it from the laugh of the
women of the Iroquois. It sounded in his ears, like the chirp of
"Ay, trust a lovyer's ear for that, and a Delaware's ear for all
sounds that are ever heard in the woods. I know not why it is so,
Judith, but when young men - and I dares to say it may be all the
same with young women, too - but when they get to have kind feelin's
towards each other, it's wonderful how pleasant the laugh, or
the speech becomes, to the other person. I've seen grim warriors
listening to the chattering and the laughing of young gals, as if
it was church music, such as is heard in the old Dutch church that
stands in the great street of Albany, where I've been, more than
once, with peltry and game."
"And you, Deerslayer," said Judith quickly, and with more sensibility
than marked her usually light and thoughtless manner, -"have you
never felt how pleasant it is to listen to the laugh of the girl
"Lord bless you gal! - Why I've never lived enough among my own
colour to drop into them sort of feelin's, - no never! I dares
to say, they are nat'ral and right, but to me there's no music so
sweet as the sighing of the wind in the tree tops, and the rippling
of a stream from a full, sparkling, natyve fountain of pure forest
water - unless, indeed," he continued, dropping his head for
an instant in a thoughtful manner - "unless indeed it be the open
mouth of a sartain hound, when I'm on the track of a fat buck. As
for unsartain dogs, I care little for their cries, seein' they are
as likely to speak when the deer is not in sight, as when it is."
Judith walked slowly and pensively away, nor was there any of her
ordinary calculating coquetry in the light tremulous sigh that,
unconsciously to herself, arose to her lips. On the other hand
Hetty listened with guileless attention, though it struck her simple
mind as singular that the young man should prefer the melody of
the woods, to the songs of girls, or even to the laugh of innocence
and joy. Accustomed, however, to defer in most things to her sister,
she soon followed Judith into the cabin, where she took a seat and
remained pondering intensely over some occurrence, or resolution,
or opinion - which was a secret to all but herself. Left alone,
Deerslayer and his friend resumed their discourse.
"Has the young pale-face hunter been long on this lake?" demanded
the Delaware, after courteously waiting for the other to speak
"Only since yesterday noon, Sarpent, though that has been long
enough to see and do much." The gaze that the Indian fastened
on his companion was so keen that it seemed to mock the gathering
darkness of the night. As the other furtively returned his look,
he saw the two black eyes glistening on him, like the balls of the
panther, or those of the penned wolf. He understood the meaning
of this glowing gaze, and answered evasively, as he fancied would
best become the modesty of a white man's gifts.
"'Tis as you suspect, Sarpent; yes, 'tis somewhat that-a-way. I
have fell in with the inimy, and I suppose it may be said I've
fou't them, too."
An exclamation of delight and exultation escaped the Indian, and
then laying his hand eagerly on the arm of his friend, he asked if
there were any scalps taken.
"That I will maintain in the face of all the Delaware tribe, old
Tamenund, and your own father the great Uncas, as well as the rest,
is ag'in white gifts! My scalp is on my head, as you can see,
Sarpent, and that was the only scalp that was in danger, when one
side was altogether Christian and white."
"Did no warrior fall? - Deerslayer did not get his name by being
slow of sight, or clumsy with the rifle!"
"In that particular, chief, you're nearer reason, and therefore
nearer being right. I may say one Mingo fell."
"A chief!" demanded the other with startling vehemence.
"Nay, that's more than I know, or can say. He was artful, and
treacherous, and stout-hearted, and may well have gained popularity
enough with his people to be named to that rank. The man fou't
well, though his eye was'n't quick enough for one who had had his
schooling in your company, Delaware."
"My brother and friend struck the body?"
"That was uncalled for, seeing that the Mingo died in my arms.
The truth may as well be said, at once; he fou't like a man of red
gifts, and I fou't like a man with gifts of my own colour. God
gave me the victory; I coul'n't fly in the face of his Providence
by forgetting my birth and natur'. White he made me, and white I
shall live and die."
"Good! Deerslayer is a pale-face, and has pale-face hands. A
Delaware will look for the scalp, and hang it on a pole, and sing
a song in his honour, when we go back to our people. The glory
belongs to the tribe; it must not be lost."
"This is easy talking, but 'twill not be as easy doing. The Mingo's
body is in the hands of his fri'nds and, no doubt, is hid in some
hole where Delaware cunning will never be able to get at the scalp."
The young man then gave his friend a succinct, but clear account,
of the event of the morning, concealing nothing of any moment, and
yet touching on every thing modestly and with a careful attention
to avoid the Indian habit of boasting. Chingachgook again expressed
his satisfaction at the honour won by his friend, and then both
arose, the hour having arrived when it became prudent to move the
Ark further from the land.
It was now quite dark, the heavens having become clouded, and
the stars hid. The north wind had ceased - as was usual with the
setting of the sun, and a light air arose from the south. This
change favoring the design of Deerslayer, he lifted his grapnel,
and the scow immediately and quite perceptibly began to drift more
into the lake. The sail was set, when the motion of the craft
increased to a rate not much less than two miles in the hour. As
this superseded the necessity of rowing, an occupation that an Indian
would not be likely to desire, Deerslayer, Chingachgook and Judith
seated themselves in the stern of the scow, where they first governed
its movements by holding the oar. Here they discoursed on their
future movements, and on the means that ought to be used in order
to effect the liberation of their friends.
In this dialogue Judith held a material part, the Delaware readily
understanding all she said, while his own replies and remarks,
both of which were few and pithy, were occasionally rendered into
English by his friend. Judith rose greatly in the estimation of her
companions, in the half hour that followed. Prompt of resolution
and firm of purpose, her suggestions and expedients partook of
her spirit and sagacity, both of which were of a character to find
favor with men of the frontier. The events that had occurred since
their meeting, as well as her isolated and dependant situation,
induced the girl to feel towards Deerslayer like the friend of
a year instead of an acquaintance of a day, and so completely had
she been won by his guileless truth of character and of feeling,
pure novelties in our sex, as respected her own experience, that
his peculiarities excited her curiosity, and created a confidence
that had never been awakened by any other man. Hitherto she had
been compelled to stand on the defensive in her intercourse with
men, with what success was best known to herself, but here had she
been suddenly thrown into the society and under the protection of
a youth, who evidently as little contemplated evil towards herself
as if he had been her brother. The freshness of his integrity,
the poetry and truth of his feelings, and even the quaintness of
his forms of speech, all had their influence, and aided in awakening
an interest that she found as pure as it was sudden and deep. Hurry's
fine face and manly form had never compensated for his boisterous
and vulgar tone, and her intercourse with the officers had prepared her
to make comparisons under which even his great natural advantages
suffered. But this very intercourse with the officers who occasionally
came upon the lake to fish and hunt, had an effect in producing her
present sentiments towards the young stranger. With them, while
her vanity had been gratified, and her self-love strongly awakened,
she had many causes deeply to regret the acquaintance - if not to
mourn over it, in secret sorrow - for it was impossible for one of
her quick intellect not to perceive how hollow was the association
between superior and inferior, and that she was regarded as the
play thing of an idle hour, rather than as an equal and a friend,
by even the best intentioned and least designing of her scarlet-clad
admirers. Deerslayer, on the other hand, had a window in his breast
through which the light of his honesty was ever shining; and even
his indifference to charms that so rarely failed to produce a
sensation, piqued the pride of the girl, and gave him an interest
that another, seemingly more favored by nature, might have failed
In this manner half an hour passed, during which time the Ark had
been slowly stealing over the water, the darkness thickening around
it; though it was easy to see that the gloom of the forest at the
southern end of the lake was getting to be distant, while the mountains
that lined the sides of the beautiful basin were overshadowing it,
nearly from side to side. There was, indeed, a narrow stripe of
water, in the centre of the lake where the dim light that was still
shed from the heavens, fell upon its surface in a line extending
north and south; and along this faint track, a sort of inverted
milky way, in which the obscurity was not quite as dense as in other
places, the scow held her course, he who steered well knowing that
it led in the direction he wished to go. The reader is not to
suppose, however, that any difficulty could exist as to the course.
This would have been determined by that of the air, had it not
been possible to distinguish the mountains, as well as by the dim
opening to the south, which marked the position of the valley in
that quarter, above the plain of tall trees, by a sort of lessened
obscurity; the difference between the darkness of the forest, and
that of the night, as seen only in the air. The peculiarities at
length caught the attention of Judith and the Deerslayer, and the
conversation ceased, to allow each to gaze at the solemn stillness
and deep repose of nature.
"'Tis a gloomy night -" observed the girl, after a pause of several
minutes - "I hope we may be able to find the castle."
"Little fear of our missing that, if we keep this path in the middle
of the lake," returned the young man. "Natur' has made us a road
here, and, dim as it is, there'll be little difficulty following
"Do you hear nothing, Deerslayer? - It seemed as if the water was
stirring quite near us!"
"Sartainly something did move the water, oncommon like; must have
been a fish. Them creatur's prey upon each other like men and
animals on the land; one has leaped into the air and fallen hard,
back into his own element. 'Tis of little use Judith, for any to
strive to get out of their elements, since it's natur' to stay in
'em, and natur' will have its way. Ha! That sounds like a paddle,
used with more than common caution!"
At this moment the Delaware bent forward and pointed significantly
into the boundary of gloom, as if some object had suddenly caught
his eye. Both Deerslayer and Judith followed the direction of his
gesture, and each got a view of a canoe at the same instant. The
glimpse of this startling neighbor was dim, and to eyes less
practised it might have been uncertain, though to those in the Ark
the object was evidently a canoe with a single individual in it;
the latter standing erect and paddling. How many lay concealed
in its bottom, of course could not be known. Flight, by means of
oars, from a bark canoe impelled by vigorous and skilful hands,
was utterly impracticable, and each of the men seized his rifle in
expectation of a conflict.
"I can easily bring down the paddler," whispered Deerslayer, "but
we'll first hail him, and ask his arrn'd." Then raising his voice,
he continued in a solemn manner - "hold! If ye come nearer, I must
fire, though contrary to my wishes, and then sartain death will
follow. Stop paddling, and answer."
"Fire, and slay a poor defenseless girl," returned a soft tremulous
female voice. "And God will never forgive you! Go your way,
Deerslayer, and let me go mine."
"Hetty!" exclaimed the young man and Judith in a breath; and the
former sprang instantly to the spot where he had left the canoe
they had been towing. It was gone, and he understood the whole
affair. As for the fugitive, frightened at the menace she ceased
paddling, and remained dimly visible, resembling a spectral outline
of a human form, standing on the water. At the next moment the
sail was lowered, to prevent the Ark from passing the spot where
the canoe lay. This last expedient, however, was not taken in
time, for the momentum of so heavy a craft, and the impulsion of the
air, soon set her by, bringing Hetty directly to windward, though
still visible, as the change in the positions of the two boats now
placed her in that species of milky way which has been mentioned.
"What can this mean, Judith?" demanded Deerslayer - "Why has your
sister taken the canoe, and left us?"
"You know she is feeble-minded, poor girl! - and she has her own
ideas of what ought to be done. She loves her father more than
most children love their parents - and - then -"
"Then, what, gal? This is a trying moment; one in which truth must
Judith felt a generous and womanly regret at betraying her sister,
and she hesitated ere she spoke again. But once more urged by
Deerslayer, and conscious herself of all the risks the whole party
was running by the indiscretion of Hetty, she could refrain no
"Then, I fear, poor, weak-minded Hetty has not been altogether able