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The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 7 out of 11

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moment the weight of Hetty was felt in the light craft the canoe
withdrew, stern foremost, as if possessed of life and volition,
until it was a hundred yards from the shore. Then it turned and,
making a wide sweep, as much to prolong the passage as to get
beyond the sound of voices, it held its way towards the ark. For
several minutes nothing was uttered; but, believing herself to be
in a favourable position to confer with her sister, Judith, who
alone sat in the stern, managing the canoe with a skill little short
of that of a man, began a discourse which she had been burning to
commence ever since they had quitted the point.

"Here we are safe, Hetty," she said, "and may talk without the
fear of being overheard. You must speak low, however, for sounds
are heard far on the water in a still night. I was so close to
the point some of the time while you were on it, that I have heard
the voices of the warriors, and I heard your shoes on the gravel
of the beach, even before you spoke."

"I don't believe, Judith, the Hurons know I have left them."

"Quite likely they do not, for a lover makes a poor sentry, unless
it be to watch for his sweetheart! But tell me, Hetty, did you
see and speak with Deerslayer?"

"Oh, yes - there he was seated near the fire, with his legs tied,
though they left his arms free, to move them as he pleased."

"Well, what did he tell you, child? Speak quick; I am dying to
know what message he sent me."

"What did he tell me? why, what do you think, Judith; he told me
that he couldn't read! Only think of that! a white man, and not
know how to read his Bible even! He never could have had a mother,

"Never mind that, Hetty. All men can't read; though mother knew so
much and taught us so much, father knows very little about books,
and he can barely read the Bible you know."

"Oh! I never thought fathers could read much, but mothers ought
all to read, else how can they teach their children? Depend on
it, Judith, Deerslayer could never have had a mother, else he would
know how to read."

"Did you tell him I sent you ashore, Hetty, and how much concern
I feel for his misfortune?" asked the other, impatiently.

"I believe I did, Judith; but you know I am feeble-minded, and
I may have forgotten. I did tell him you brought me ashore. And
he told me a great deal that I was to say to you, which I remember
well, for it made my blood run cold to hear him. He told me to
say that his friends - I suppose you are one of them, sister?"

"How can you torment me thus, Hetty! Certainly, I am one of the
truest friends he has on earth."

"Torment you! yes, now I remember all about it. I am glad you
used that word, Judith, for it brings it all back to my mind. Well,
he said he might be tormented by the savages, but he would try to
bear it as becomes a Christian white man, and that no one need be
afeard - why does Deerslayer call it afeard, when mother always
taught us to say afraid?"

"Never mind, dear Hetty, never mind that, now," cried the other,
almost gasping for breath. "Did Deerslayer really tell you that he
thought the savages would put him to the torture? Recollect now,
well, Hetty, for this is a most awful and serious thing."

"Yes he did; and I remember it by your speaking about my tormenting
you. Oh! I felt very sorry for him, and Deerslayer took all so
quietly and without noise! Deerslayer is not as handsome as Hurry
Harry, Judith, but he is more quiet."

"He's worth a million Hurrys! yes, he's worth all the young men
who ever came upon the lake put together," said Judith, with an
energy and positiveness that caused her sister to wonder. "He is
true. There is no lie about Deerslayer. You, Hetty, may not know
what a merit it is in a man to have truth, but when you get - no
- I hope you will never know it. Why should one like you be ever
made to learn the hard lesson to distrust and hate!"

Judith bowed her face, dark as it was, and unseen as she must have
been by any eye but that of Omniscience, between her hands, and
groaned. This sudden paroxysm of feeling, however, lasted but for
a moment, and she continued more calmly, still speaking frankly to
her sister, whose intelligence, and whose discretion in any thing
that related to herself, she did not in the least distrust. Her
voice, however, was low and husky, instead of having its former
clearness and animation.

"It is a hard thing to fear truth, Hetty," she said, "and yet do I
more dread Deerslayer's truth, than any enemy! One cannot tamper
with such truth - so much honesty - such obstinate uprightness!
But we are not altogether unequal, sister - Deerslayer and I? He
is not altogether my superior?"

It was not usual for Judith so far to demean herself as to appeal
to Hetty's judgment. Nor did she often address her by the title of
sister, a distinction that is commonly given by the junior to the
senior, even where there is perfect equality in all other respects.
As trifling departures from habitual deportment oftener strike
the imagination than more important changes, Hetty perceived the
circumstances, and wondered at them in her own simple way. Her
ambition was a little quickened, and the answer was as much out of
the usual course of things as the question; the poor girl attempting
to refine beyond her strength.

"Superior, Judith!" she repeated with pride. "In what can Deerslayer
be your superior? Are you not mother's child - and does he know
how to read - and wasn't mother before any woman in all this part
of the world? I should think, so far from supposing himself your
superior, he would hardly believe himself mine. You are handsome,
and he is ugly -"

"No, not ugly, Hetty," interrupted Judith. "Only plain. But his
honest face has a look in it that is far better than beauty. In
my eyes, Deerslayer is handsomer than Hurry Harry."

"Judith Hutter! you frighten me. Hurry is the handsomest mortal
in the world - even handsomer than you are yourself; because a
man's good looks, you know, are always better than a woman's good

This little innocent touch of natural taste did not please the
elder sister at the moment, and she did not scruple to betray it.
"Hetty, you now speak foolishly, and had better say no more on
this subject," she answered. "Hurry is not the handsomest mortal
in the world, by many; and there are officers in the garrisons - "
Judith stammered at the words - "there are officers in the garrisons,
near us, far comelier than he. But why do you think me the equal
of Deerslayer - speak of that, for I do not like to hear you show
so much admiration of a man like Hurry Harry, who has neither
feelings, manners, nor conscience. You are too good for him, and
he ought to be told it, at once."

"I! Judith, how you forget! Why I am not beautiful, and am

"You are good, Hetty, and that is more than can be said of Harry
March. He may have a face, and a body, but he has no heart. But
enough of this, for the present. Tell me what raises me to an
equality with Deerslayer."

"To think of you asking me this, Judith! He can't read, and you
can. He don't know how to talk, but speaks worse than Hurry even;
- for, sister, Harry doesn't always pronounce his words right! Did
you ever notice that?"

"Certainly, he is as coarse in speech as in everything else. But
I fear you flatter me, Hetty, when you think I can be justly called
the equal of a man like Deerslayer. It is true, I have been better
taught; in one sense am more comely; and perhaps might look higher;
but then his truth - his truth -makes a fearful difference between
us! Well, I will talk no more of this; and we will bethink us of
the means of getting him out of the hands of the Hurons. We have
father's chest in the ark, Hetty, and might try the temptation of
more elephants; though I fear such baubles will not buy the liberty
of a man like Deerslayer. I am afraid father and Hurry will not be
as willing to ransom Deerslayer, as Deerslayer was to ransom them!"

"Why not, Judith? Hurry and Deerslayer are friends, and friends
should always help one another."

"Alas! poor Hetty, you little know mankind! Seeming friends are
often more to be dreaded than open enemies; particularly by females.
But you'll have to land in the morning, and try again what can be
done for Deerslayer. Tortured he shall not be, while Judith Hutter
lives, and can find means to prevent it."

The conversation now grew desultory, and was drawn out, until the
elder sister had extracted from the younger every fact that the
feeble faculties of the latter permitted her to retain, and to
communicate. When Judith was satisfied - though she could never
be said to be satisfied, whose feelings seemed to be so interwoven
with all that related to the subject, as to have excited a nearly
inappeasable curiosity - but, when Judith could think of no more
questions to ask, without resorting to repetition, the canoe was
paddled towards the scow. The intense darkness of the night, and
the deep shadows which the hills and forest cast upon the water,
rendered it difficult to find the vessel, anchored, as it had
been, as close to the shore as a regard to safety rendered prudent.
Judith was expert in the management of a bark canoe, the lightness
of which demanded skill rather than strength; and she forced her
own little vessel swiftly over the water, the moment she had ended
her conference with Hetty, and had come to the determination to
return. Still no ark was seen. Several times the sisters fancied
they saw it, looming up in the obscurity, like a low black rock;
but on each occasion it was found to be either an optical illusion,
or some swell of the foliage on the shore. After a search that lasted
half an hour, the girls were forced to the unwelcome conviction
that the ark had departed. Most young women would have felt
the awkwardness of their situation, in a physical sense, under
the circumstances in which the sisters were left, more than any
apprehensions of a different nature. Not so with Judith, however;
and even Hetty felt more concern about the motives that might have
influenced her father and Hurry, than any fears for her own safety.

"It cannot be, Hetty," said Judith, when a thorough search had
satisfied them both that no ark was to be found; "it cannot be that
the Indians have rafted, or swum off and surprised our friends as
they slept?"

"I don't believe that Hist and Chingachgook would sleep until they
had told each other all they had to say after so long a separation
- do you, sister?"

"Perhaps not, child. There was much to keep them awake, but one
Indian may have been surprised even when not asleep, especially as
his thoughts may have been on other things. Still we should have
heard a noise; for in a night like this, an oath of Hurry Harry's
would have echoed in the eastern hills like a clap of thunder."

"Hurry is sinful and thoughtless about his words, Judith," Hetty
meekly and sorrowfully answered.

"No - no; 'tis impossible the ark could be taken and I not hear
the noise. It is not an hour since I left it, and the whole time
I have been attentive to the smallest sound. And yet, it is not
easy to believe a father would willingly abandon his children!"

"Perhaps father has thought us in our cabin asleep, Judith, and
has moved away to go home. You know we often move the ark in the

"This is true, Hetty, and it must be as you suppose. There is a
little more southern air than there was, and they have gone up the
lake -" Judith stopped, for, as the last word was on her tongue,
the scene was suddenly lighted, though only for a single instant,
by a flash. The crack of a rifle succeeded, and then followed the
roll of the echo along the eastern mountains. Almost at the same
moment a piercing female cry rose in the air in a prolonged shriek.
The awful stillness that succeeded was, if possible, more appalling
than the fierce and sudden interruption of the deep silence of
midnight. Resolute as she was both by nature and habit, Judith
scarce breathed, while poor Hetty hid her face and trembled.

"That was a woman's cry, Hetty," said the former solemnly, 'and it
was a cry of anguish! If the ark has moved from this spot it can
only have gone north with this air, and the gun and shriek came
from the point. Can any thing have befallen Hist?"

"Let us go and see, Judith; she may want our assistance - for,
besides herself, there are none but men in the ark."

It was not a moment for hesitation, and ere Judith had ceased
speaking her paddle was in the water. The distance to the point,
in a direct line, was not great, and the impulses under which the
girls worked were too exciting to allow them to waste the precious
moments in useless precautions. They paddled incautiously for them,
but the same excitement kept others from noting their movements.
Presently a glare of light caught the eye of Judith through
an opening in the bushes, and steering by it, she so directed the
canoe as to keep it visible, while she got as near the land as was
either prudent or necessary.

The scene that was now presented to the observation of the
girls was within the woods, on the side of the declivity so often
mentioned, and in plain view from the boat. Here all in the camp
were collected, some six or eight carrying torches of fat-pine,
which cast a strong but funereal light on all beneath the arches of
the forest. With her back supported against a tree, and sustained
on one side by the young sentinel whose remissness had suffered
Hetty to escape, sat the female whose expected visit had produced
his delinquency. By the glare of the torch that was held near her
face, it was evident that she was in the agonies of death, while
the blood that trickled from her bared bosom betrayed the nature
of the injury she had received. The pungent, peculiar smell
of gunpowder, too, was still quite perceptible in the heavy, damp
night air. There could be no question that she had been shot.
Judith understood it all at a glance. The streak of light had
appeared on the water a short distance from the point, and either the
rifle had been discharged from a canoe hovering near the land, or
it had been fired from the ark in passing. An incautious exclamation,
or laugh, may have produced the assault, for it was barely possible
that the aim had been assisted by any other agent than sound. As
to the effect, that was soon still more apparent, the head of
the victim dropping, and the body sinking in death. Then all the
torches but one were extinguished - a measure of prudence; and
the melancholy train that bore the body to the camp was just to be
distinguished by the glimmering light that remained. Judith sighed
heavily and shuddered, as her paddle again dipped, and the canoe
moved cautiously around the point. A sight had afflicted her senses,
and now haunted her imagination, that was still harder to be borne,
than even the untimely fate and passing agony of the deceased girl.

She had seen, under the strong glare of all the torches, the erect
form of Deerslayer, standing with commiseration, and as she thought,
with shame depicted on his countenance, near the dying female. He
betrayed neither fear nor backwardness himself; but it was apparent
by the glances cast at him by the warriors, that fierce passions
were struggling in their bosoms. All this seemed to be unheeded
by the captive, but it remained impressed on the memory of Judith
throughout the night. No canoe was met hovering near the point.
A stillness and darkness, as complete as if the silence of the
forest had never been disturbed, or the sun had never shone on that
retired region, now reigned on the point, and on the gloomy water,
the slumbering woods, and even the murky sky. No more could be
done, therefore, than to seek a place of safety; and this was only
to be found in the centre of the lake. Paddling in silence to that
spot, the canoe was suffered to drift northerly, while the girls
sought such repose as their situation and feelings would permit.

Chapter XIX

"Stand to your arms, and guard the door- all's lost
Unless that fearful bell be silenced soon.
The officer hath miss'd his path, or purpose,
Or met some unforeseen and hideous obstacle.
Anselmo, with thy company proceed
Straight to the tower; the rest remain with me."

Byron, Marino Faliero, lV.ii.23o-35.

The conjecture of Judith Hutter, concerning the manner in which
the Indian girl had met her death, was accurate in the main. After
sleeping several hours, her father and March awoke. This occurred
a few minutes after she had left the Ark to go in quest of her
sister, and when of course Chingachgook and his betrothed were
on board. From the Delaware the old man learned the position
of the camp, and the recent events, as well as the absence of his
daughters. The latter gave him no concern, for he relied greatly
on the sagacity of the elder, and the known impunity with which the
younger passed among the savages. Long familiarity with danger,
too, had blunted his sensibilities. Nor did he seem much to regret
the captivity of Deerslayer, for, while he knew how material his
aid might be in a defence, the difference in their views on the
morality of the woods, had not left much sympathy between them. He
would have rejoiced to know the position of the camp before it had
been alarmed by the escape of Hist, but it would be too hazardous
now to venture to land, and he reluctantly relinquished for the
night the ruthless designs that cupidity and revenge had excited
him to entertain. In this mood Hutter took a seat in the head of
the scow, where he was quickly joined by Hurry, leaving the Serpent
and Hist in quiet possession of the other extremity of the vessel.

"Deerslayer has shown himself a boy, in going among the savages at
this hour, and letting himself fall into their hands like a deer
that tumbles into a pit," growled the old man, perceiving as usual
the mote in his neighbor's eyes, while he overlooked the beam in
his own; "if he is left to pay for his stupidity with his own flesh,
he can blame no one but himself."

"That's the way of the world, old Tom," returned Hurry. "Every man
must meet his own debts, and answer for his own sins. I'm amazed,
howsever, that a lad as skilful and watchful as Deerslayer should
have been caught in such a trap! Didn't he know any better than
to go prowling about a Huron camp at midnight, with no place to
retreat to but a lake? or did he think himself a buck, that by
taking to the water could throw off the scent and swim himself out
of difficulty? I had a better opinion of the boy's judgment, I'll
own; but we must overlook a little ignorance in a raw hand. I say,
Master Hutter, do you happen to know what has become of the gals
- I see no signs of Judith, or Hetty, though I've been through the
Ark, and looked into all its living creatur's."

Hutter briefly explained the manner in which his daughters had
taken to the canoe, as it had been related by the Delaware, as well
as the return of Judith after landing her sister, and her second

"This comes of a smooth tongue, Floating Tom," exclaimed Hurry,
grating his teeth in pure resentment - "This comes of a smooth
tongue, and a silly gal's inclinations, and you had best look into
the matter! You and I were both prisoners - " Hurry could recall that
circumstance now - "you and I were both prisoners and yet Judith
never stirred an inch to do us any sarvice! She is bewitched with
this lank-looking Deerslayer, and he, and she, and you, and all
of us, had best look to it. I am not a man to put up with such
a wrong quietly, and I say, all the parties had best look to it!
Let's up kedge, old fellow, and move nearer to this p'int, and see
how matters are getting on.

Hutter had no objections to this movement, and the Ark was got
under way in the usual manner; care being taken to make no noise.
The wind was passing northward, and the sail soon swept the scow so
far up the lake as to render the dark outlines of the trees that
clothed the point dimly visible. Floating Tom steered, and he
sailed along as near the land as the depth of the water and the
overhanging branches would allow. It was impossible to distinguish
anything that stood within the shadows of the shore, but the forms
of the sail and of the hut were discerned by the young sentinel on
the beach, who has already been mentioned. In the moment of sudden
surprise, a deep Indian exclamation escaped him. In that spirit
of recklessness and ferocity that formed the essence of Hurry's
character, this man dropped his rifle and fired. The ball was
sped by accident, or by that overruling providence which decides
the fates of all, and the girl fell. Then followed the scene with
the torches, which has just been described.

At the precise moment when Hurry committed this act of unthinking
cruelty, the canoe of Judith was within a hundred feet of the spot
from which the Ark had so lately moved. Her own course has been
described, and it has now become our office to follow that of her
father and his companions. The shriek announced the effects of
the random shot of March, and it also proclaimed that the victim
was a woman. Hurry himself was startled at these unlooked for
consequences, and for a moment he was sorely disturbed by conflicting
sensations. At first he laughed, in reckless and rude-minded
exultation; and then conscience, that monitor planted in our breasts
by God, and which receives its more general growth from the training
bestowed in the tillage of childhood, shot a pang to his heart.
For a minute, the mind of this creature equally of civilization and
of barbarism, was a sort of chaos as to feeling, not knowing what
to think of its own act; and then the obstinacy and pride of one of
his habits, interposed to assert their usual ascendency. He struck
the butt of his rifle on the bottom of the scow, with a species of
defiance, and began to whistle a low air with an affectation of
indifference. All this time the Ark was in motion, and it was already
opening the bay above the point, and was consequently quitting the

Hurry's companions did not view his conduct with the same indulgence
as that with which he appeared disposed to regard it himself. Hutter
growled out his dissatisfaction, for the act led to no advantage,
while it threatened to render the warfare more vindictive than
ever, and none censure motiveless departures from the right more
severely than the mercenary and unprincipled. Still he commanded
himself, the captivity of Deerslayer rendering the arm of the offender
of double consequence to him at that moment. Chingachgook arose,
and for a single instant the ancient animosity of tribes was
forgotten, in a feeling of colour; but he recollected himself in
season to prevent any of the fierce consequences that, for a passing
moment, he certainly meditated. Not so with Hist. Rushing through
the hut, or cabin, the girl stood at the side of Hurry, almost
as soon as his rifle touched the bottom of the scow, and with
a fearlessness that did credit to her heart, she poured out her
reproaches with the generous warmth of a woman.

"What for you shoot?" she said. "What Huron gal do, dat you kill
him? What you t'ink Manitou say? What you t'ink Manitou feel?
What Iroquois do? No get honour- no get camp - no get prisoner -no
get battle - no get scalp - no get not'ing at all! Blood come
after blood! How you feel, your wife killed? Who pity you, when
tear come for moder, or sister? You big as great pine - Huron
gal little slender birch - why you fall on her and crush her? You
t'ink Huron forget it? No; red-skin never forget! Never forget
friend; never forget enemy. Red man Manitou in dat. Why you so
wicked, great pale-face?"

Hurry had never been so daunted as by this close and warm attack
of the Indian girl. It is true that she had a powerful ally in
his conscience, and while she spoke earnestly, it was in tones so
feminine as to deprive him of any pretext for unmanly anger. The
softness of her voice added to the weight of her remonstrance, by
lending to the latter an air of purity and truth. Like most vulgar
minded men, he had only regarded the Indians through the medium
of their coarser and fiercer characteristics. It had never struck
him that the affections are human, that even high principles -
modified by habits and prejudices, but not the less elevated within
their circle - can exist in the savage state, and that the warrior
who is most ruthless in the field, can submit to the softest and
gentlest influences in the moments of domestic quiet. In a word,
it was the habit of his mind to regard all Indians as being only a
slight degree removed from the wild beasts that roamed the woods,
and to feel disposed to treat them accordingly, whenever interest
or caprice supplied a motive or an impulse. Still, though daunted
by these reproaches, the handsome barbarian could hardly be said
to be penitent. He was too much rebuked by conscience to suffer
an outbreak of temper to escape him, and perhaps he felt that he
had already committed an act that might justly bring his manhood
in question. Instead of resenting, or answering the simple but
natural appeal of Hist, he walked away, like one who disdained
entering into a controversy with a woman.

In the mean while the Ark swept onward, and by the time the scene
with the torches was enacting beneath the trees, it had reached the
open lake, Floating Tom causing it to sheer further from the land
with a sort of instinctive dread of retaliation. An hour now
passed in gloomy silence, no one appearing disposed to break it.
Hist had retired to her pallet, and Chingachgook lay sleeping in the
forward part of the scow. Hutter and Hurry alone remained awake,
the former at the steering oar, while the latter brooded over his own
conduct, with the stubbornness of one little given to a confession
of his errors, and the secret goadings of the worm that never dies.
This was at the moment when Judith and Hetty reached the centre of
the lake, and had lain down to endeavor to sleep in their drifting

The night was calm, though so much obscured by clouds. The season
was not one of storms, and those which did occur in the month of
June, on that embedded water, though frequently violent were always
of short continuance. Nevertheless, there was the usual current
of heavy, damp night air, which, passing over the summits of the
trees, scarcely appeared to descend as low as the surface of the
glassy lake, but kept moving a short distance above it, saturated with
the humidity that constantly arose from the woods, and apparently
never proceeding far in any one direction. The currents were
influenced by the formation of the hills, as a matter of course, a
circumstance that rendered even fresh breezes baffling, and which
reduced the feebler efforts of the night air to be a sort of capricious
and fickle sighings of the woods. Several times the head of the
Ark pointed east, and once it was actually turned towards the south,
again; but, on the whole, it worked its way north; Hutter making
always a fair wind, if wind it could be called, his principal motive
appearing to keep in motion, in order to defeat any treacherous
design of his enemies. He now felt some little concern about his
daughters, and perhaps as much about the canoe; but, on the whole,
this uncertainty did not much disturb him, as he had the reliance
already mentioned on the intelligence of Judith.

It was the season of the shortest nights, and it was not long
before the deep obscurity which precedes the day began to yield to
the returning light. If any earthly scene could be presented to
the senses of man that might soothe his passions and temper his
ferocity, it was that which grew upon the eyes of Hutter and Hurry
as the hours advanced, changing night to morning. There were the
usual soft tints of the sky, in which neither the gloom of darkness
nor the brilliancy of the sun prevails, and under which objects
appear more unearthly, and we might add holy, than at any other
portion of the twenty four hours. The beautiful and soothing calm
of eventide has been extolled by a thousand poets, and yet it does
not bring with it the far-reaching and sublime thoughts of the half
hour that precedes the rising of a summer sun. In the one case the
panorama is gradually hid from the sight, while in the other its
objects start out from the unfolding picture, first dim and misty;
then marked in, in solemn background; next seen in the witchery of
an increasing, a thing as different as possible from the decreasing
twilight, and finally mellow, distinct and luminous, as the rays
of the great centre of light diffuse themselves in the atmosphere.
The hymns of birds, too, have no moral counterpart in the retreat
to the roost, or the flight to the nest, and these invariably accompany
the advent of the day, until the appearance of the sun itself -

"Bathes in deep joy, the land and sea."

All this, however, Hutter and Hurry witnessed without experiencing
any of that calm delight which the spectacle is wont to bring, when
the thoughts are just and the aspirations pure. They not only
witnessed it, but they witnessed it under circumstances that had a
tendency to increase its power, and to heighten its charms. Only
one solitary object became visible in the returning light that had
received its form or uses from human taste or human desires, which
as often deform as beautify a landscape. This was the castle,
all the rest being native, and fresh from the hand of God. That
singular residence, too, was in keeping with the natural objects
of the view, starting out from the gloom, quaint, picturesque and
ornamental. Nevertheless the whole was lost on the observers, who
knew no feeling of poetry, had lost their sense of natural devotion
in lives of obdurate and narrow selfishness, and had little other
sympathy with nature, than that which originated with her lowest

As soon as the light was sufficiently strong to allow of a distinct
view of the lake, and more particularly of its shores, Hutter turned
the head of the Ark directly towards the castle, with the avowed
intention of taking possession, for the day at least, as the place
most favorable for meeting his daughters and for carrying on his
operations against the Indians. By this time, Chingachgook was
up, and Hist was heard stirring among the furniture of the kitchen.
The place for which they steered was distant only a mile, and the air
was sufficiently favorable to permit it to be reached by means of
the sail. At this moment, too, to render the appearances generally
auspicious, the canoe of Judith was seen floating northward in the
broadest part of the lake; having actually passed the scow in the
darkness, in obedience to no other power than that of the elements.
Hutter got his glass, and took a long and anxious survey,
to ascertain if his daughters were in the light craft or not, and
a slight exclamation like that of joy escaped him, as he caught a
glimpse of what he rightly conceived to be a part of Judith's dress
above the top of the canoe. At the next instant the girl arose
and was seen gazing about her, like one assuring herself of her
situation. A minute later, Hetty was seen on her knees in the
other end of the canoe, repeating the prayers that had been taught
her in childhood by a misguided but repentant mother. As Hutter
laid down the glass, still drawn to its focus, the Serpent raised
it to his eye and turned it towards the canoe. It was the first
time he had ever used such an instrument, and Hist understood by
his "Hugh!," the expression of his face, and his entire mien, that
something wonderful had excited his admiration. It is well known
that the American Indians, more particularly those of superior
characters and stations, singularly maintain their self-possession
and stoicism, in the midst of the flood of marvels that present
themselves in their occasional visits to the abodes of civilization,
and Chingachgook had imbibed enough of this impassibility to suppress
any very undignified manifestation of surprise. With Hist, however,
no such law was binding, and when her lover managed to bring the
glass in a line with the canoe, and her eye was applied to the
smaller end, the girl started back in alarm; then she clapped her
hands with delight, and a laugh, the usual attendant of untutored
admiration, followed. A few minutes sufficed to enable this quick
witted girl to manage the instrument for herself, and she directed
it at every prominent object that struck her fancy. Finding
a rest in one of the windows, she and the Delaware first surveyed
the lake; then the shores, the hills, and, finally, the castle
attracted their attention. After a long steady gaze at the latter,
Hist took away her eye, and spoke to her lover in a low, earnest
manner. Chingachgook immediately placed his eye to the glass, and
his look even exceeded that of his betrothed in length and intensity.
Again they spoke together, confidentially, appearing to compare
opinions, after which the glass was laid aside, and the young
warrior quitted the cabin to join Hutter and Hurry.

The Ark was slowly but steadily advancing, and the castle was
materially within half a mile, when Chingachgook joined the two
white men in the stern of the scow. His manner was calm, but it
was evident to the others, who were familiar with the habits of the
Indians, that he had something to communicate. Hurry was generally
prompt to speak and, according to custom, he took the lead on this

"Out with it, red-skin," he cried, in his usual rough manner. "Have
you discovered a chipmunk in a tree, or is there a salmon-trout
swimming under the bottom of the scow? You find what a pale-face
can do in the way of eyes, now, Sarpent, and mustn't wonder that
they can see the land of the Indians from afar off."

"No good to go to Castle," put in Chingachgook with emphasis,
the moment the other gave him an opportunity of speaking. "Huron

"The devil he is! - If this should turn out to be true, Floating
Tom, a pretty trap were we about to pull down on our heads! Huron,
there! -Well, this may be so; but no signs can I see of any thing,
near or about the old hut, but logs, water, and bark - bating two
or three windows, and one door."

Hutter called for the glass, and took a careful survey of the spot,
before he ventured an opinion, at all; then he somewhat cavalierly
expressed his dissent from that given by the Indian.

"You've got this glass wrong end foremost, Delaware," continued
Hurry. "Neither the old man nor I can see any trail in the lake."

"No trail - water make no trail," said Hist, eagerly. "Stop
boat - no go too near. Huron there!"

"Ay, that's it! - Stick to the same tale, and more people
will believe you. I hope, Sarpent, you and your gal will agree
in telling the same story arter marriage, as well as you do now.
'Huron, there!'-Whereabouts is he to be seen - in the padlock, or the
chains, or the logs. There isn't a gaol in the colony that has
a more lock up look about it, than old Tom's chiente, and
I know something about gaols from exper'ence."

"No see moccasin," said Hist, impatiently "why no look - and see

"Give me the glass, Harry," interrupted Hutter, "and lower the sail.
It is seldom that an Indian woman meddles, and when she does, there
is generally a cause for it. There is, truly, a moccasin floating
against one of the piles, and it may or may not be a sign that
the castle hasn't escaped visitors in our absence. Moccasins are
no rarities, however, for I wear 'em myself; and Deerslayer wears
'em, and you wear 'em, March, and, for that matter so does Hetty,
quite as often as she wears shoes, though I never yet saw Judith
trust her pretty foot in a moccasin."

Hurry had lowered the sail, and by this time the Ark was within two
hundred yards of the castle, setting in, nearer and nearer, each
moment, but at a rate too slow to excite any uneasiness. Each now
took the glass in turn, and the castle, and every thing near it,
was subjected to a scrutiny still more rigid than ever. There the
moccasin lay, beyond a question, floating so lightly, and preserving
its form so well, that it was scarcely wet. It had caught by
a piece of the rough bark of one of the piles, on the exterior of
the water-palisade that formed the dock already mentioned, which
circumstance alone prevented it from drifting away before the air.
There were many modes, however, of accounting for the presence
of the moccasin, without supposing it to have been dropped by an
enemy. It might have fallen from the platform, even while Hutter
was in possession of the place, and drifted to the spot where it was
now seen, remaining unnoticed until detected by the acute vision
of Hist. It might have drifted from a distance, up or down the
lake, and accidentally become attached to the pile, or palisade.
It might have been thrown from a window, and alighted in that
particular place; or it might certainly have fallen from a scout,
or an assailant, during the past night, who was obliged to abandon
it to the lake, in the deep obscurity which then prevailed.

All these conjectures passed from Hutter to Hurry, the former
appearing disposed to regard the omen as a little sinister, while
the latter treated it with his usual reckless disdain. As for the
Indian, he was of opinion that the moccasin should be viewed as
one would regard a trail in the woods, which might, or might not,
equally, prove to be threatening. Hist, however, had something
available to propose. She declared her readiness to take a canoe,
to proceed to the palisade and bring away the moccasin, when its
ornaments would show whether it came from the Canadas or not. Both
the white men were disposed to accept this offer, but the Delaware
interfered to prevent the risk. If such a service was to be undertaken,
it best became a warrior to expose himself in its execution, and
he gave his refusal to let his betrothed proceed, much in the quiet
but brief manner in which an Indian husband issues his commands.

"Well then, Delaware, go yourself if you're so tender of your
squaw," put in the unceremonious Hurry. "That moccasin must be
had, or Floating Tom will keep off, here, at arm's length, till
the hearth cools in his cabin. It's but a little deerskin, a'ter
all, and cut this-a-way or that-a-way, it's not a skear-crow
to frighten true hunters from their game. What say you, Sarpent,
shall you or I canoe it?"

"Let red man go. - Better eyes than pale-face - know Huron trick
better, too."

"That I'll gainsay, to the hour of my death! A white man's eyes,
and a white man's nose, and for that matter his sight and ears are
all better than an Injin's when fairly tried. Time and ag'in have
I put that to the proof, and what is proved is sartain. Still I
suppose the poorest vagabond going, whether Delaware or Huron, can
find his way to yonder hut and back ag'in, and so, Sarpent, use
your paddle and welcome."

Chingachgook was already in the canoe, and he dipped the implement
the other named into the water, just as Hurry's limber tongue ceased.
Wah-ta-Wah saw the departure of her warrior on this occasion with
the submissive silence of an Indian girl, but with most of the
misgivings and apprehensions of her sex. Throughout the whole of
the past night, and down to the moment, when they used the glass
together in the hut, Chingachgook had manifested as much manly
tenderness towards his betrothed as one of the most refined sentiment
could have shown under similar circumstances, but now every sign of
weakness was lost in an appearance of stern resolution. Although
Hist timidly endeavored to catch his eye as the canoe left the side
of the Ark, the pride of a warrior would not permit him to meet
her fond and anxious looks. The canoe departed and not a wandering
glance rewarded her solicitude.

Nor were the Delaware's care and gravity misplaced, under the
impressions with which he proceeded on this enterprise. If the
enemy had really gained possession of the building he was obliged
to put himself under the very muzzles of their rifles, as it were,
and this too without the protection of any of that cover which forms
so essential an ally in Indian warfare. It is scarcely possible
to conceive of a service more dangerous, and had the Serpent been
fortified by the experience of ten more years, or had his friend
the Deerslayer been present, it would never have been attempted;
the advantages in no degree compensating for the risk. But the
pride of an Indian chief was acted on by the rivalry of colour,
and it is not unlikely that the presence of the very creature from
whom his ideas of manhood prevented his receiving a single glance,
overflowing as he was with the love she so well merited, had no
small influence on his determination.

Chingachgook paddled steadily towards the palisades, keeping his eyes
on the different loops of the building. Each instant he expected
to see the muzzle of a rifle protruded, or to hear its sharp crack;
but he succeeded in reaching the piles in safety. Here he was,
in a measure, protected, having the heads of the palisades between
him and the hut, and the chances of any attempt on his life while
thus covered, were greatly diminished. The canoe had reached the
piles with its head inclining northward, and at a short distance
from the moccasin. Instead of turning to pick up the latter, the
Delaware slowly made the circuit of the whole building, deliberately
examining every object that should betray the presence of enemies,
or the commission of violence. Not a single sign could he discover,
however, to confirm the suspicions that had been awakened. The
stillness of desertion pervaded the building; not a fastening was
displaced, not a window had been broken. The door looked as secure
as at the hour when it was closed by Hutter, and even the gate
of the dock had all the customary fastenings. In short, the most
wary and jealous eye could detect no other evidence of the visit
of enemies, than that which was connected with the appearance of
the floating moccasin.

The Delaware was now greatly at a loss how to proceed. At one
moment, as he came round in front of the castle, he was on the point
of stepping up on the platform and of applying his eye to one of
the loops, with a view of taking a direct personal inspection of
the state of things within; but he hesitated. Though of little
experience in such matters, himself, he had heard so much of Indian
artifices through traditions, had listened with such breathless
interest to the narration of the escapes of the elder warriors,
and, in short, was so well schooled in the theory of his calling,
that it was almost as impossible for him to make any gross blunder
on such an occasion, as it was for a well grounded scholar, who had
commenced correctly, to fail in solving his problem in mathematics.
Relinquishing the momentary intention to land, the chief slowly
pursued his course round the palisades. As he approached the
moccasin, having now nearly completed the circuit of the building,
he threw the ominous article into the canoe, by a dexterous and
almost imperceptible movement of his paddle. He was now ready to
depart, but retreat was even more dangerous than the approach, as
the eye could no longer be riveted on the loops. If there was really
any one in the castle, the motive of the Delaware in reconnoitering
must be understood, and it was the wisest way, however perilous it
might be, to retire with an air of confidence, as if all distrust
were terminated by the examination. Such, accordingly, was the
course adopted by the Indian, who paddled deliberately away, taking
the direction of the Ark, suffering no nervous impulse to quicken
the motions of his arms, or to induce him to turn even a furtive
glance behind him.

No tender wife, reared in the refinements of the highest
civilization, ever met a husband on his return from the field with
more of sensibility in her countenance than Hist discovered, as
she saw the Great Serpent of the Delawares step, unharmed, into the
Ark. Still she repressed her emotion, though the joy that sparkled
in her dark eyes, and the smile that lighted her pretty mouth,
spoke a language that her betrothed could understand.

"Well, Sarpent," cried Hurry, always the first to speak, "what news
from the muskrats? Did they shew their teeth, as you surrounded
their dwelling?"

"I no like him," sententiously returned the Delaware. "Too still.
So still, can see silence!"

"That's downright Injin - as if any thing could make less noise
than nothing! If you've no better reason than this to give, old
Tom had better hoist his sail, and go and get his breakfast under
his own roof. What has become of the moccasin?"

"Here," returned Chingachgook, holding up his prize for the general
inspection. The moccasin was examined, and Hist confidently
pronounced it to be Huron, by the manner in which the porcupine's
quills were arranged on its front. Hutter and the Delaware, too,
were decidedly of the same opinion. Admitting all this, however,
it did not necessarily follow that its owners were in the castle.
The moccasin might have drifted from a distance, or it might have
fallen from the foot of some scout, who had quitted the place when
his errand was accomplished. In short it explained nothing, while
it awakened so much distrust.

Under the circumstances, Hutter and Hurry were not men to be long
deterred from proceeding by proofs as slight as that of the moccasin.
They hoisted the sail again, and the Ark was soon in motion,
heading towards the castle. The wind or air continued light, and
the movement was sufficiently slow to allow of a deliberate survey
of the building, as the scow approached. The same death-like silence
reigned, and it was difficult to fancy that any thing possessing
animal life could be in or around the place. Unlike the Serpent,
whose imagination had acted through his traditions until he was
ready to perceive an artificial, in a natural stillness, the others
saw nothing to apprehend in a tranquility that, in truth, merely
denoted the repose of inanimate objects. The accessories of the
scene, too, were soothing and calm, rather than exciting. The day
had not yet advanced so far as to bring the sun above the horizon, but
the heavens, the atmosphere, and the woods and lake were all seen
under that softened light which immediately precedes his appearance,
and which perhaps is the most witching period of the four and twenty
hours. It is the moment when every thing is distinct, even the
atmosphere seeming to possess a liquid lucidity, the hues appearing
gray and softened, with the outlines of objects defined, and
the perspective just as moral truths that are presented in their
simplicity, without the meretricious aids of ornament or glitter.
In a word, it is the moment when the senses seem to recover their
powers, in the simplest and most accurate forms, like the mind
emerging from the obscurity of doubts into the tranquility and peace
of demonstration. Most of the influence that such a scene is apt
to produce on those who are properly constituted in a moral sense,
was lost on Hutter and Hurry; but both the Delawares, though too
much accustomed to witness the loveliness of morning-tide to stop
to analyze their feelings, were equally sensible of the beauties
of the hour, though it was probably in a way unknown to themselves.
It disposed the young warrior to peace, and never had he felt less
longings for the glory of the combat, than when he joined Hist
in the cabin, the instant the scow rubbed against the side of the
platform. From the indulgence of such gentle emotions, however,
he was aroused by a rude summons from Hurry, who called on him to
come forth and help to take in the sail, and to secure the Ark.

Chingachgook obeyed, and by the time he had reached the head of
the scow, Hurry was on the platform, stamping his feet, like one
glad to touch what, by comparison, might be called terra firma,
and proclaiming his indifference to the whole Huron tribe in his
customary noisy, dogmatical manner. Hutter had hauled a canoe up
to the head of the scow, and was already about to undo the fastenings
of the gate, in order to enter within the 'dock.' March had no other
motive in landing than a senseless bravado, and having shaken the
door in a manner to put its solidity to the proof, he joined Hutter
in the canoe and began to aid him in opening the gate. The reader
will remember that this mode of entrance was rendered necessary by
the manner in which the owner of this singular residence habitually
secured it, whenever it was left empty; more particularly at
moments when danger was apprehended. Hutter had placed a line in
the Delaware's hand, on entering the canoe, intimating that the
other was to fasten the Ark to the platform and to lower the sail.
Instead of following these directions, however, Chingachgook left
the sail standing, and throwing the bight of the rope over the
head of a pile, he permitted the Ark to drift round until it lay
against the defences, in a position where it could be entered only
by means of a boat, or by passing along the summits of the palisades;
the latter being an exploit that required some command of the feet,
and which was not to be attempted in the face of a resolute enemy.

In consequence of this change in the position of the scow, which
was effected before Hutter had succeeded in opening the gate
of his dock, the Ark and the Castle lay, as sailors would express
it, yard-arm and yard-arm, kept asunder some ten or twelve feet by
means of the piles. As the scow pressed close against the latter,
their tops formed a species of breast work that rose to the height
of a man's head, covering in a certain degree the parts of the scow
that were not protected by the cabin. The Delaware surveyed this
arrangement with great satisfaction and, as the canoe of Hutter
passed through the gate into the dock, he thought that he might defend
his position against any garrison in the castle, for a sufficient
time, could he but have had the helping arm of his friend Deerslayer.
As it was, he felt comparatively secure, and no longer suffered
the keen apprehensions he had lately experienced in behalf of Hist.

A single shove sent the canoe from the gate to the trap beneath
the castle. Here Hutter found all fast, neither padlock nor chain
nor bar having been molested. The key was produced, the locks
removed, the chain loosened, and the trap pushed upward. Hurry
now thrust his head in at the opening; the arms followed, and the
colossal legs rose without any apparent effort. At the next instant,
his heavy foot was heard stamping in the passage above; that which
separated the chambers of the father and daughters, and into which
the trap opened. He then gave a shout of triumph.

"Come on, old Tom," the reckless woodsman called out from within the
building - "here's your tenement, safe and sound; ay, and as empty
as a nut that has passed half an hour in the paws of a squirrel!
The Delaware brags of being able to see silence; let him come here,
and he may feel it, in the bargain."

"Any silence where you are, Hurry Harry," returned Hutter, thrusting
his head in at the hole as he uttered the last word, which instantly
caused his voice to sound smothered to those without - "Any silence
where you are, ought to be both seen and felt, for it's unlike any
other silence."

"Come, come, old fellow; hoist yourself up, and we'll open doors
and windows and let in the fresh air to brighten up matters. Few
words in troublesome times, make men the best fri'nds. Your darter
Judith is what I call a misbehaving young woman, and the hold of
the whole family on me is so much weakened by her late conduct,
that it wouldn't take a speech as long as the ten commandments to
send me off to the river, leaving you and your traps, your Ark and
your children, your man servants and your maid servants, your oxen
and your asses, to fight this battle with the Iroquois by yourselves.
Open that window, Floating Tom, and I'll blunder through and do
the same job to the front door."

A moment of silence succeeded, and a noise like that produced by
the fall of a heavy body followed. A deep execration from Hurry
succeeded, and then the whole interior of the building seemed alive.
The noises that now so suddenly, and we may add so unexpectedly
even to the Delaware, broke the stillness within, could not be
mistaken. They resembled those that would be produced by a struggle
between tigers in a cage. Once or twice the Indian yell was given,
but it seemed smothered, and as if it proceeded from exhausted or
compressed throats, and, in a single instance, a deep and another
shockingly revolting execration came from the throat of Hurry. It
appeared as if bodies were constantly thrown upon the floor with
violence, as often rising to renew the struggle. Chingachgook
felt greatly at a loss what to do. He had all the arms in the Ark,
Hutter and Hurry having proceeded without their rifles, but there
was no means of using them, or of passing them to the hands of their
owners. The combatants were literally caged, rendering it almost
as impossible under the circumstances to get out, as to get into
the building. Then there was Hist to embarrass his movements, and
to cripple his efforts. With a view to relieve himself from this
disadvantage, he told the girl to take the remaining canoe and to
join Hutter's daughters, who were incautiously but deliberately
approaching, in order to save herself, and to warn the others of
their danger. But the girl positively and firmly refused to comply.
At that moment no human power, short of an exercise of superior
physical force, could have induced her to quit the Ark. The exigency
of the moment did not admit of delay, and the Delaware seeing no
possibility of serving his friends, cut the line and by a strong
shove forced the scow some twenty feet clear of the piles. Here
he took the sweeps and succeeded in getting a short distance
to windward, if any direction could be thus termed in so light an
air, but neither the time, nor his skill at the oars, allowed the
distance to be great. When he ceased rowing, the Ark might have
been a hundred yards from the platform, and half that distance
to the southward of it, the sail being lowered. Judith and Hetty
had now discovered that something was wrong, and were stationary
a thousand feet farther north.

All this while the furious struggle continued within the house.
In scenes like these, events thicken in less time than they can
be related. From the moment when the first fall was heard within
the building to that when the Delaware ceased his awkward attempts
to row, it might have been three or four minutes, but it had evidently
served to weaken the combatants. The oaths and execrations of
Hurry were no longer heard, and even the struggles had lost some
of their force and fury. Nevertheless they still continued with
unabated perseverance. At this instant the door flew open, and
the fight was transferred to the platform, the light and the open
air. A Huron had undone the fastenings of the door, and three or
four of his tribe rushed after him upon the narrow space, as if glad
to escape from some terrible scene within. The body of another
followed, pitched headlong through the door with terrific violence.
Then March appeared, raging like a lion at bay, and for an instant
freed from his numerous enemies. Hutter was already a captive and
bound. There was now a pause in the struggle, which resembled a
lull in a tempest. The necessity of breathing was common to all,
and the combatants stood watching each other, like mastiffs that
have been driven from their holds, and are waiting for a favorable
opportunity of renewing them. We shall profit by this pause to
relate the manner in which the Indians had obtained possession of
the castle, and this the more willingly because it may be necessary
to explain to the reader why a conflict which had been so close
and fierce, should have also been so comparatively bloodless.

Rivenoak and his companion, particularly the latter who had appeared
to be a subordinate and occupied solely with his raft, had made
the closest observations in their visits to the castle. Even the
boy had brought away minute and valuable information. By these
means the Hurons obtained a general idea of the manner in which
the place was constructed and secured, as well as of details that
enabled them to act intelligently in the dark. Notwithstanding
the care that Hutter had taken to drop the Ark on the east side of
the building when he was in the act of transferring the furniture
from the former to the latter, he had been watched in a way to
render the precaution useless. Scouts were on the look-out on the
eastern as well as on the western shore of the lake, and the whole
proceeding had been noted. As soon as it was dark, rafts like that
already described approached from both shores to reconnoitre, and
the Ark had passed within fifty feet of one of them without its
being discovered; the men it held lying at their length on the
logs, so as to blend themselves and their slow moving machine with
the water. When these two sets of adventurers drew near the castle
they encountered each other, and after communicating their respective
observations, they unhesitatingly approached the building. As had
been expected, it was found empty. The rafts were immediately sent
for a reinforcement to the shore, and two of the savages remained
to profit by their situation. These men succeeded in getting on
the roof, and by removing some of the bark, in entering what might
be termed the garret. Here they were found by their companions.
Hatchets now opened a hole through the squared logs of the upper
floor, through which no less than eight of the most athletic of
the Indians dropped into the rooms beneath. Here they were left,
well supplied with arms and provisions, either to stand a siege, or
to make a sortie, as the case might require. The night was passed
in sleep, as is usual with Indians in a state of inactivity. The
returning day brought them a view of the approach of the Ark
through the loops, the only manner in which light and air were now
admitted, the windows being closed most effectually with plank,
rudely fashioned to fit. As soon as it was ascertained that the two
white men were about to enter by the trap, the chief who directed
the proceedings of the Hurons took his measures accordingly. He
removed all the arms from his own people, even to the knives, in
distrust of savage ferocity when awakened by personal injuries, and
he hid them where they could not be found without a search. Ropes
of bark were then prepared, and taking their stations in the three
different rooms, they all waited for the signal to fall upon their
intended captives. As soon as the party had entered the building,
men without replaced the bark of the roof, removed every sign of
their visit, with care, and then departed for the shore. It was
one of these who had dropped his moccasin, which he had not been
able to find again in the dark. Had the death of the girl been
known, it is probable nothing could have saved the lives of Hurry
and Hutter, but that event occurred after the ambush was laid, and
at a distance of several miles from the encampment near the castle.
Such were the means that had been employed to produce the state of
things we shall continue to describe.

Chapter XX

"Now all is done that man can do,
And all is done in vain!
My love! my native land, adieu
For I must cross the main, My dear,
For I must cross the main."

Robert Burns, "It was a' for our Rightfu' King," II. 7-12.

The last chapter we left the combatants breathing in their narrow
lists. Accustomed to the rude sports of wrestling and jumping,
then so common in America, more especially on the frontiers, Hurry
possessed an advantage, in addition to his prodigious strength,
that had rendered the struggle less unequal than it might otherwise
appear to be. This alone had enabled him to hold out so long,
against so many enemies, for the Indian is by no means remarkable
for his skill, or force, in athletic exercises. As yet, no one
had been seriously hurt, though several of the savages had received
severe falls, and he, in particular, who had been thrown bodily
upon the platform, might be said to be temporarily hors de combat.
Some of the rest were limping, and March himself had not entirely
escaped from bruises, though want of breath was the principal loss
that both sides wished to repair.

Under circumstances like those in which the parties were placed, a
truce, let it come from what cause it might, could not well be of
long continuance. The arena was too confined, and the distrust
of treachery too great, to admit of this. Contrary to what might
be expected in his situation, Hurry was the first to recommence
hostilities. Whether this proceeded from policy, an idea that he
might gain some advantage by making a sudden and unexpected assault,
or was the fruit of irritation and his undying hatred of an Indian,
it is impossible to say. His onset was furious, however, and at
first it carried all before it. He seized the nearest Huron by the
waist, raised him entirely from the platform, and hurled him into
the water, as if he had been a child. In half a minute, two more
were at his side, one of whom received a grave injury by the friend
who had just preceded him. But four enemies remained, and, in a
hand to hand conflict, in which no arms were used but those which
nature had furnished, Hurry believed himself fully able to cope
with that number of red-skins.

"Hurrah! Old Tom," he shouted - "The rascals are taking to the
lake, and I'll soon have 'em all swimming!" As these words were
uttered a violent kick in the face sent back the injured Indian,
who had caught at the edge of the platform, and was endeavoring
to raise himself to its level, helplessly and hopelessly into the
water. When the affray was over, his dark body was seen, through
the limpid element of the Glimmerglass, lying, with outstretched
arms, extended on the bottom of the shoal on which the Castle stood,
clinging to the sands and weeds, as if life were to be retained by
this frenzied grasp of death. A blow sent into the pit of another's
stomach doubled him up like a worm that had been trodden on, and
but two able bodied foes remained to be dealt with. One of these,
however, was not only the largest and strongest of the Hurons, but
he was also the most experienced of their warriors present, and that
one whose sinews were the best strung in fights, and by marches on
the warpath. This man fully appreciated the gigantic strength of
his opponent, and had carefully husbanded his own. He was also
equipped in the best manner for such a conflict, standing in nothing
but his breech-cloth, the model of a naked and beautiful statue of
agility and strength. To grasp him required additional dexterity
and unusual force. Still Hurry did not hesitate, but the kick that
had actually destroyed one fellow creature was no sooner given, than
he closed in with this formidable antagonist, endeavoring to force
him into the water, also. The struggle that succeeded was truly
frightful. So fierce did it immediately become, and so quick and
changeful were the evolutions of the athletes, that the remaining
savage had no chance for interfering, had he possessed the desire;
but wonder and apprehension held him spell bound. He was an
inexperienced youth, and his blood curdled as he witnessed the fell
strife of human passions, exhibited too, in an unaccustomed form.

Hurry first attempted to throw his antagonist. With this view he
seized him by the throat, and an arm, and tripped with the quickness
and force of an American borderer. The effect was frustrated by
the agile movements of the Huron, who had clothes to grasp by, and
whose feet avoided the attempt with a nimbleness equal to that with
which it was made. Then followed a sort of melee, if such a term
can be applied to a struggle between two in which no efforts were
strictly visible, the limbs and bodies of the combatants assuming
so many attitudes and contortions as to defeat observation. This
confused but fierce rally lasted less than a minute, however; when,
Hurry, furious at having his strength baffled by the agility and
nakedness of his foe, made a desperate effort, which sent the Huron
from him, hurling his body violently against the logs of the hut.
The concussion was so great as momentarily to confuse the latter's
faculties. The pain, too, extorted a deep groan; an unusual
concession to agony to escape a red man in the heat of battle.
Still he rushed forward again to meet his enemy, conscious that
his safety rested on it's resolution. Hurry now seized the other
by the waist, raised him bodily from the platform, and fell with
his own great weight on the form beneath. This additional shock
so stunned the sufferer, that his gigantic white opponent now had
him completely at his mercy. Passing his hands around the throat
of his victim, he compressed them with the strength of a vice, fairly
doubling the head of the Huron over the edge of the platform, until
the chin was uppermost, with the infernal strength he expended.
An instant sufficed to show the consequences. The eyes of the
sufferer seemed to start forward, his tongue protruded, and his
nostrils dilated nearly to splitting. At this instant a rope of
bark, having an eye, was passed dexterously within the two arms of
Hurry, the end threaded the eye, forming a noose, and his elbows
were drawn together behind his back, with a power that all his
gigantic strength could not resist. Reluctantly, even under such
circumstances, did the exasperated borderer see his hands drawn
from their deadly grasp, for all the evil passions were then in the
ascendant. Almost at the same instant a similar fastening secured
his ankles, and his body was rolled to the centre of the platform
as helplessly, and as cavalierly, as if it were a log of wood.
His rescued antagonist, however, did not rise, for while he began
again to breathe, his head still hung helplessly over the edge of
the logs, and it was thought at first that his neck was dislocated.
He recovered gradually only, and it was hours before he could walk.
Some fancied that neither his body, nor his mind, ever totally
recovered from this near approach to death.

Hurry owed his defeat and capture to the intensity with which
he had concentrated all his powers on his fallen foe. While thus
occupied, the two Indians he had hurled into the water mounted to
the heads of the piles, along which they passed, and joined their
companion on the platform. The latter had so far rallied his
faculties as to have gotten the ropes, which were in readiness for
use as the others appeared, and they were applied in the manner
related, as Hurry lay pressing his enemy down with his whole weight,
intent only on the horrible office of strangling him. Thus were
the tables turned, in a single moment; he who had been so near
achieving a victory that would have been renowned for ages, by means
of traditions, throughout all that region, lying helpless, bound
and a captive. So fearful had been the efforts of the pale-face,
and so prodigious the strength he exhibited, that even as he lay
tethered like a sheep before them, they regarded him with respect,
and not without dread. The helpless body of their stoutest warrior
was still stretched on the platform, and, as they cast their eyes
towards the lake, in quest of the comrade that had been hurled
into it so unceremoniously, and of whom they had lost sight in the
confusion of the fray, they perceived his lifeless form clinging
to the grass on the bottom, as already described. These several
circumstances contributed to render the victory of the Hurons almost
as astounding to themselves as a defeat.

Chingachgook and his betrothed witnessed the whole of this struggle
from the Ark. When the three Hurons were about to pass the cords
around the arms of the prostrate Hurry the Delaware sought his
rifle, but, before he could use it the white man was bound and
the mischief was done. He might still bring down an enemy, but to
obtain the scalp was impossible, and the young chief, who would so
freely risk his own life to obtain such a trophy, hesitated about
taking that of a foe without such an object in view. A glance
at Hist, and the recollection of what might follow, checked any
transient wish for revenge. The reader has been told that Chingachgook
could scarcely be said to know how to manage the oars of the Ark at
all, however expert he might be in the use of the paddle. Perhaps
there is no manual labor at which men are so bungling and awkward, as
in their first attempts to pull oar, even the experienced mariner,
or boat man, breaking down in his efforts to figure with the
celebrated rullock of the gondolier. In short it is, temporarily,
an impracticable thing for a new beginner to succeed with a single
oar, but in this case it was necessary to handle two at the same
time, and those of great size. Sweeps, or large oars, however,
are sooner rendered of use by the raw hand than lighter implements,
and this was the reason that the Delaware had succeeded in moving the
Ark as well as he did in a first trial. That trial, notwithstanding,
sufficed to produce distrust, and he was fully aware of the critical
situation in which Hist and himself were now placed, should the
Hurons take to the canoe that was still lying beneath the trap, and
come against them. At the moment he thought of putting Hist into
the canoe in his own possession, and of taking to the eastern
mountain in the hope of reaching the Delaware villages by direct
flight. But many considerations suggested themselves to put a
stop to this indiscreet step. It was almost certain that scouts
watched the lake on both sides, and no canoe could possibly approach
shore without being seen from the hills. Then a trail could not
be concealed from Indian eyes, and the strength of Hist was unequal
to a flight sufficiently sustained to outstrip the pursuit of
trained warriors. This was a part of America in which the Indians
did not know the use of horses, and everything would depend on
the physical energies of the fugitives. Last, but far from being
least, were the thoughts connected with the situation of Deerslayer,
a friend who was not to be deserted in his extremity.

Hist in some particulars reasoned, and even felt, differently though
she arrived at the same conclusions. Her own anger disturbed her
less than her concern for the two sisters, on whose behalf her
womanly sympathies were now strongly enlisted. The canoe of the
girls, by the time the struggle on the platform had ceased, was
within three hundred yards of the castle, and here Judith ceased
paddling, the evidences of strife first becoming apparent to the
eyes. She and Hetty were standing erect, anxiously endeavoring
to ascertain what had occurred, but unable to satisfy their doubts
from the circumstance that the building, in a great measure,
concealed the scene of action.

The parties in the Ark, and in the canoe, were indebted to the
ferocity of Hurry's attack for their momentary security. In any
ordinary case, the girls would have been immediately captured, a
measure easy of execution now the savages had a canoe, were it not
for the rude check the audacity of the Hurons had received in the
recent struggle. It required some little time to recover from the
effects of this violent scene, and this so much the more, because
the principal man of the party, in the way of personal prowess
at least, had been so great a sufferer. Still it was of the last
importance that Judith and her sister should seek immediate refuge
in the Ark, where the defences offered a temporary shelter at least,
and the first step was to devise the means of inducing them to do
so. Hist showed herself in the stern of the scow, and made many
gestures and signs, in vain, in order to induce the girls to make
a circuit to avoid the Castle, and to approach the Ark from the
eastward. But these signs were distrusted or misunderstood. It
is probable Judith was not yet sufficiently aware of the real state
of things to put full confidence in either party. Instead of doing
as desired, she rather kept more aloof, paddling slowly back to
the north, or into the broadest part of the lake, where she could
command the widest view, and had the fairest field for flight
before her. At this instant the sun appeared above the pines of
the eastern range of mountains and a light southerly breeze arose,
as was usual enough at that season and hour. Chingachgook lost no
time in hoisting the sail. Whatever might be in reserve for him,
there could be no question that it was every way desirable to get
the Ark at such a distance from the castle as to reduce his enemies
to the necessity of approaching the former in the canoe, which the
chances of war had so inopportunely, for his wishes and security,
thrown into their hands. The appearance of the opening duck seemed
first to arouse the Hurons from their apathy, and by the time
the head of the scow had fallen off before the wind, which it did
unfortunately in the wrong direction, bringing it within a few yards
of the platform, Hist found it necessary to warn her lover of the
importance of covering his person against the rifles of his foes.
This was a danger to be avoided under all circumstances, and so
much the more, because the Delaware found that Hist would not take
to the cover herself so long as he remained exposed. Accordingly,
Chingachgook abandoned the scow to its own movements, forced Hist
into the cabin, the doors of which he immediately secured, and then
he looked about him for the rifles. The situation of the parties
was now so singular as to merit a particular description. The Ark
was within sixty yards of the castle, a little to the southward,
or to windward of it, with its sail full, and the steering oar
abandoned. The latter, fortunately, was loose, so that it produced
no great influence on the crab like movements of the unwieldy craft.
The sail being as sailors term it, flying, or having no braces,
the air forced the yard forward, though both sheets were fast. The
effect was threefold on a boat with a bottom that was perfectly
flat, and which drew merely some three or four inches water. It
pressed the head slowly round to leeward, it forced the whole fabric
bodily in the same direction at the same time, and the water that
unavoidably gathered under the lee gave the scow also a forward
movement. All these changes were exceedingly slow, however, for
the wind was not only light, but it was baffling as usual, and
twice or thrice the sail shook. Once it was absolutely taken aback.

Had there been any keel to the Ark, it would inevitably have run
foul of the platform, bows on, when it is probable nothing could
have prevented the Hurons from carrying it; more particularly as
the sail would have enabled them to approach under cover. As it
was, the scow wore slowly round, barely clearing that part of the
building. The piles projecting several feet, they were not cleared,
but the head of the slow moving craft caught between two of them,
by one of its square corners, and hung. At this moment the Delaware
was vigilantly watching through a loop for an opportunity to fire,
while the Hurons kept within the building, similarly occupied.
The exhausted warrior reclined against the hut, there having been
no time to remove him, and Hurry lay, almost as helpless as a log,
tethered like a sheep on its way to the slaughter, near the middle
of the platform. Chingachgook could have slain the first, at any
moment, but his scalp would have been safe, and the young chief
disdained to strike a blow that could lead to neither honor nor

"Run out one of the poles, Sarpent, if Sarpent you be," said Hurry,
amid the groans that the tightness of the ligatures was beginning
to extort from him - "run out one of the poles, and shove the head
of the scow off, and you'll drift clear of us - and, when you've
done that good turn for yourself just finish this gagging blackguard
for me."

The appeal of Hurry, however, had no other effect than to draw the
attention of Hist to his situation. This quick witted creature
comprehended it at a glance. His ankles were bound with several
turns of stout bark rope, and his arms, above the elbows, were
similarly secured behind his back; barely leaving him a little play
of the hands and wrists. Putting her mouth near a loop she said
in a low but distinct voice - "Why you don't roll here, and fall
in scow? Chingachgook shoot Huron, if he chase!"

"By the Lord, gal, that's a judgematical thought, and it shall be
tried, if the starn of your scow will come a little nearer. Put
a bed at the bottom, for me to fall on."

This was said at a happy moment, for, tired of waiting, all the
Indians made a rapid discharge of their rifles, almost simultaneously,
injuring no one; though several bullets passed through the loops.
Hist had heard part of Hurry's words, but most of what he said was
lost in the sharp reports of the firearms. She undid the bar of
the door that led to the stern of the scow, but did not dare to
expose her person. All this time, the head of the Ark hung, but
by a gradually decreasing hold as the other end swung slowly round,
nearer and nearer to the platform. Hurry, who now lay with his
face towards the Ark, occasionally writhing and turning over like
one in pain, evolutions he had performed ever since he was secured,
watched every change, and, at last, he saw that the whole vessel
was free, and was beginning to grate slowly along the sides of the
piles. The attempt was desperate, but it seemed to be the only
chance for escaping torture and death, and it suited the reckless
daring of the man's character. Waiting to the last moment, in order
that the stern of the scow might fairly rub against the platform,
he began to writhe again, as if in intolerable suffering, execrating
all Indians in general, and the Hurons in particular, and then he
suddenly and rapidly rolled over and over, taking the direction of
the stern of the scow. Unfortunately, Hurry's shoulders required
more space to revolve in than his feet, and by the time he reached the
edge of the platform his direction had so far changed as to carry
him clear of the Ark altogether, and the rapidity of his revolutions
and the emergency admitting of no delay, he fell into the water. At
this instant, Chingachgook, by an understanding with his betrothed,
drew the fire of the Hurons again, not a man of whom saw the
manner in which one whom they knew to be effectually tethered,
had disappeared. But Hist's feelings were strongly interested in
the success of so bold a scheme, and she watched the movements of
Hurry as the cat watches the mouse. The moment he was in motion
she foresaw the consequences, and this the more readily, as the scow
was now beginning to move with some steadiness, and she bethought
her of the means of saving him. With a sort of instinctive readiness,
she opened the door at the very moment the rifles were ringing in
her ears, and protected by the intervening cabin, she stepped into
the stem of the scow in time to witness the fall of Hurry into the
lake. Her foot was unconsciously placed on the end of one of the
sheets of the sail, which was fastened aft, and catching up all
the spare rope with the awkwardness, but also with the generous
resolution of a woman, she threw it in the direction of the helpless
Hurry. The line fell on the head and body of the sinking man and
he not only succeeded in grasping separate parts of it with his
hands, but he actually got a portion of it between his teeth. Hurry
was an expert swimmer, and tethered as he was he resorted to the
very expedient that philosophy and reflection would have suggested.
He had fallen on his back, and instead of floundering and drowning
himself by desperate efforts to walk on the water, he permitted his
body to sink as low as possible, and was already submerged, with
the exception of his face, when the line reached him. In this
situation he might possibly have remained until rescued by the
Hurons, using his hands as fishes use their fins, had he received
no other succour, but the movement of the Ark soon tightened the
rope, and of course he was dragged gently ahead holding even pace
with the scow. The motion aided in keeping his face above the surface
of the water, and it would have been possible for one accustomed
to endurance to have been towed a mile in this singular but simple

It has been said that the Hurons did not observe the sudden
disappearance of Hurry. In his present situation he was not only
hid from view by the platform, but, as the Ark drew slowly ahead,
impelled by a sail that was now filled, he received the same friendly
service from the piles. The Hurons, indeed, were too intent on
endeavoring to slay their Delaware foe, by sending a bullet through
some one of the loops or crevices of the cabin, to bethink them
at all of one whom they fancied so thoroughly tied. Their great
concern was the manner in which the Ark rubbed past the piles,
although its motion was lessened at least one half by the friction,
and they passed into the northern end of the castle in order to
catch opportunities of firing through the loops of that part of
the building. Chingachgook was similarly occupied, and remained
as ignorant as his enemies of the situation of Hurry. As the Ark
grated along the rifles sent their little clouds of smoke from
one cover to the other, but the eyes and movements of the opposing
parties were too quick to permit any injury to be done. At length
one side had the mortification and the other the pleasure of seeing
the scow swing clear of the piles altogether, when it immediately
moved away, with a materially accelerated motion, towards the north.

Chingachgook now first learned from Hist the critical condition
of Hurry. To have exposed either of their persons in the stern of
the scow would have been certain death, but fortunately the sheet
to which the man clung led forward to the foot of the sail. The
Delaware found means to unloosen it from the cleet aft, and Hist,
who was already forward for that purpose, immediately began to pull
upon the line. At this moment Hurry was towing fifty or sixty feet
astern, with nothing but his face above water. As he was dragged
out clear of the castle and the piles he was first perceived by the
Hurons, who raised a hideous yell and commenced a fire on, what may
very well be termed the floating mass. It was at the same instant
that Hist began to pull upon the line forward - a circumstance that
probably saved Hurry's life, aided by his own self-possession and
border readiness. The first bullet struck the water directly on the
spot where the broad chest of the young giant was visible through
the pure element, and might have pierced his heart had the angle
at which it was fired been less acute. Instead of penetrating the
lake, however, it glanced from its smooth surface, rose, and buried
itself in the logs of the cabin near the spot at which Chingachgook
had shown himself the minute before, while clearing the line from
the cleet. A second, and a third, and a fourth bullet followed,
all meeting with the same resistance of the water, though Hurry
sensibly felt the violence of the blows they struck upon the lake
so immediately above, and so near his breast. Discovering their
mistake, the Hurons now changed their plan, and aimed at the
uncovered face; but by this time Hist was pulling on the line, the
target advanced and the deadly missiles still fell upon the water.
In another moment the body was dragged past the end of the scow
and became concealed. As for the Delaware and Hist, they worked
perfectly covered by the cabin, and in less time than it requires
to tell it, they had hauled the huge frame of Harry to the place
they occupied. Chingachgook stood in readiness with his keen
knife, and bending over the side of the scow he soon severed the
bark that bound the limbs of the borderer. To raise him high enough
to reach the edge of the boat and to aid him in entering were less
easy, as Hurry's arms were still nearly useless, but both were
done in time, when the liberated man staggered forward and fell
exhausted and helpless into the bottom of the scow. Here we shall
leave him to recover his strength and the due circulation of his
blood, while we proceed with the narrative of events that crowd
upon us too fast to admit of any postponement. The moment the
Hurons lost sight of the body of Hurry they gave a common yell of
disappointment, and three of the most active of their number ran
to the trap and entered the canoe. It required some little delay,
however, to embark with their weapons, to find the paddles and,
if we may use a phrase so purely technical, "to get out of dock."
By this time Hurry was in the scow, and the Delaware had his rifles
again in readiness. As the Ark necessarily sailed before the wind,
it had got by this time quite two hundred yards from the castle,
and was sliding away each instant, farther and farther, though with
a motion so easy as scarcely to stir the water. The canoe of the
girls was quite a quarter of a mile distant from the Ark, obviously
keeping aloof, in ignorance of what had occurred, and in apprehension
of the consequences of venturing too near. They had taken the
direction of the eastern shore, endeavoring at the same time to get
to windward of the Ark, and in a manner between the two parties,
as if distrusting which was to be considered a friend, and which
an enemy. The girls, from long habit, used the paddles with great
dexterity, and Judith, in particular, had often sportively gained
races, in trials of speed with the youths that occasionally visited
the lake.

When the three Hurons emerged from behind the palisades, and found
themselves on the open lake, and under the necessity of advancing
unprotected on the Ark, if they persevered in the original design,
their ardor sensibly cooled. In a bark canoe they were totally
without cover, and Indian discretion was entirely opposed to such
a sacrifice of life as would most probably follow any attempt to
assault an enemy entrenched as effectually as the Delaware. Instead
of following the Ark, therefore, these three warriors inclined
towards the eastern shore, keeping at a safe distance from the
rifles of Chingachgook. But this manoeuvre rendered the position
of the girls exceedingly critical. It threatened to place them if
not between two fires, at least between two dangers, or what they
conceived to be dangers, and instead of permitting the Hurons to
enclose her, in what she fancied a sort of net, Judith immediately
commenced her retreat in a southern direction, at no very great
distance from the shore. She did not dare to land; if such an
expedient were to be resorted to at all, she could only venture on
it in the last extremity. At first the Indians paid little or no
attention to the other canoe, for, fully apprised of its contents,
they deemed its capture of comparatively little moment, while the
Ark, with its imaginary treasures, the persons of the Delaware and
of Hurry, and its means of movement on a large scale, was before
them. But this Ark had its dangers as well as its temptations, and
after wasting near an hour in vacillating evolutions, always at a
safe distance from the rifle, the Hurons seemed suddenly to take
their resolution, and began to display it by giving eager chase to
the girls.

When this last design was adopted, the circumstances of all parties,
as connected with their relative positions, were materially changed.
The Ark had sailed and drifted quite half a mile, and was nearly
that distance due north of the castle. As soon as the Delaware
perceived that the girls avoided him, unable to manage his unwieldy
craft, and knowing that flight from a bark canoe, in the event of
pursuit, would be a useless expedient if attempted, he had lowered
his sail, in the hope it might induce the sisters to change their
plan and to seek refuge in the scow. This demonstration produced
no other effect than to keep the Ark nearer to the scene of action,
and to enable those in her to become witnesses of the chase. The
canoe of Judith was about a quarter of a mile south of that of
the Hurons, a little nearer to the east shore, and about the same
distance to the southward of the castle as it was from the hostile
canoe, a circumstance which necessarily put the last nearly abreast
of Hutter's fortress. With the several parties thus situated the
chase commenced.

At the moment when the Hurons so suddenly changed their mode of
attack their canoe was not in the best possible racing trim. There
were but two paddles, and the third man so much extra and useless
cargo. Then the difference in weight between the sisters and the
other two men, more especially in vessels so extremely light, almost
neutralized any difference that might proceed from the greater
strength of the Hurons, and rendered the trial of speed far from
being as unequal as it might seem. Judith did not commence her
exertions until the near approach of the other canoe rendered the
object of the movement certain, and then she exhorted Hetty to aid
her with her utmost skill and strength.

"Why should we run, Judith?" asked the simple minded girl. "The
Hurons have never harmed me, nor do I think they ever will."

"That may be true as to you, Hetty, but it will prove very different
with me. Kneel down and say your prayer, and then rise and do your
utmost to help escape. Think of me, dear girl, too, as you pray."

Judith gave these directions from a mixed feeling; first because
she knew that her sister ever sought the support of her great ally
in trouble, and next because a sensation of feebleness and dependance
suddenly came over her own proud spirit, in that moment of apparent
desertion and trial. The prayer was quickly said, however, and the
canoe was soon in rapid motion. Still, neither party resorted to
their greatest exertions from the outset, both knowing that the
chase was likely to be arduous and long. Like two vessels of war
that are preparing for an encounter, they seemed desirous of first
ascertaining their respective rates of speed, in order that they
might know how to graduate their exertions, previously to the great
effort. A few minutes sufficed to show the Hurons that the girls
were expert, and that it would require all their skill and energies
to overtake them.

Judith had inclined towards the eastern shore at the commencement
of the chase, with a vague determination of landing and flying
to the woods as a last resort, but as she approached the land,
the certainty that scouts must be watching her movements made her
reluctance to adopt such an expedient unconquerable. Then she was
still fresh, and had sanguine hopes of being able to tire out her
pursuers. With such feelings she gave a sweep with her paddle,
and sheered off from the fringe of dark hemlocks beneath the shades
of which she was so near entering, and held her way again, more
towards the centre of the lake. This seemed the instant favorable
for the Hurons to make their push, as it gave them the entire
breadth of the sheet to do it in; and this too in the widest part,
as soon as they had got between the fugitives and the land. The
canoes now flew, Judith making up for what she wanted in strength
by her great dexterity and self command. For half a mile the
Indians gained no material advantage, but the continuance of so
great exertions for so many minutes sensibly affected all concerned.
Here the Indians resorted to an expedient that enabled them to give
one of their party time to breathe, by shifting their paddles from
hand to hand, and this too without sensibly relaxing their efforts.

Judith occasionally looked behind her, and she saw this expedient
practised. It caused her immediately to distrust the result, since
her powers of endurance were not likely to hold out against those
of men who had the means of relieving each other. Still she
persevered, allowing no very visible consequences immediately to
follow the change.

As yet the Indians had not been able to get nearer to the girls
than two hundred yards, though they were what seamen would term
"in their wake"; or in a direct line behind them, passing over the
same track of water. This made the pursuit what is technically
called a "stern chase", which is proverbially a "long chase": the
meaning of which is that, in consequence of the relative positions
of the parties, no change becomes apparent except that which is
a direct gain in the nearest possible approach. "Long" as this
species of chase is admitted to be, however, Judith was enabled to
perceive that the Hurons were sensibly drawing nearer and nearer,
before she had gained the centre of the lake. She was not a girl
to despair, but there was an instant when she thought of yielding,
with the wish of being carried to the camp where she knew the
Deerslayer to be a captive; but the considerations connected with
the means she hoped to be able to employ in order to procure his
release immediately interposed, in order to stimulate her to renewed
exertions. Had there been any one there to note the progress of
the two canoes, he would have seen that of Judith flying swiftly
away from its pursuers, as the girl gave it freshly impelled speed,
while her mind was thus dwelling on her own ardent and generous
schemes. So material, indeed, was the difference in the rate of
going between the two canoes for the next five minutes, that the
Hurons began to be convinced all their powers must be exerted or
they would suffer the disgrace of being baffled by women. Making
a furious effort under the mortification of such a conviction, one
of the strongest of their party broke his paddle at the very moment
when he had taken it from the hand of a comrade to relieve him.
This at once decided the matter, a canoe containing three men and
having but one paddle being utterly unable to overtake fugitives
like the daughters of Thomas Hutter.

"There, Judith!" exclaimed Hetty, who saw the accident, "I hope
now you will own, that praying is useful! The Hurons have broke
a paddle, and they never can overtake us."

"I never denied it, poor Hetty, and sometimes wish in bitterness of
spirit that I had prayed more myself, and thought less of my beauty!
As you say, we are now safe and need only go a little south and
take breath."

This was done; the enemy giving up the pursuit, as suddenly as
a ship that has lost an important spar, the instant the accident
occurred. Instead of following Judith's canoe, which was now lightly
skimming over the water towards the south, the Hurons turned their
bows towards the castle, where they soon arrived and landed. The
girls, fearful that some spare paddles might be found in or about
the buildings, continued on, nor did they stop until so distant
from their enemies as to give them every chance of escape, should
the chase be renewed. It would seem that the savages meditated
no such design, but at the end of an hour their canoe, filled with
men, was seen quitting the castle and steering towards the shore.
The girls were without food, and they now drew nearer to the
buildings and the Ark, having finally made up their minds from its
manoeuvres that the latter contained friends.

Notwithstanding the seeming desertion of the castle, Judith
approached it with extreme caution. The Ark was now quite a mile
to the northward, but sweeping up towards the buildings, and this,
too, with a regularity of motion that satisfied Judith a white
man was at the oars. When within a hundred yards of the building
the girls began to encircle it, in order to make sure that it was
empty. No canoe was nigh, and this emboldened them to draw nearer
and nearer, until they had gone round the piles and reached the

"Do you go into the house, Hetty," said Judith, "and see that the
savages are gone. They will not harm you, and if any of them are
still here you can give me the alarm. I do not think they will
fire on a poor defenceless girl, and I at least may escape, until
I shall be ready to go among them of my own accord."

Hetty did as desired, Judith retiring a few yards from the platform
the instant her sister landed, in readiness for flight. But the
last was unnecessary, not a minute elapsing before Hetty returned
to communicate that all was safe.

"I've been in all the rooms, Judith," said the latter earnestly,
"and they are empty, except father's; he is in his own chamber,
sleeping, though not as quietly as we could wish."

"Has any thing happened to father?" demanded Judith, as her foot
touched the platform; speaking quickly, for her nerves were in a
state to be easily alarmed.

Hetty seemed concerned, and she looked furtively about her as if
unwilling any one but a child should hear what she had to communicate,
and even that she should learn it abruptly.

"You know how it is with father sometimes, Judith," she said, "When
overtaken with liquor he doesn't always know what he says or does,
and he seems to be overtaken with liquor now."

"That is strange! Would the savages have drunk with him, and then
leave him behind? But 'tis a grievous sight to a child, Hetty,
to witness such a failing in a parent, and we will not go near him
'til he wakes."

A groan from the inner room, however, changed this resolution,
and the girls ventured near a parent whom it was no unusual thing
for them to find in a condition that lowers a man to the level of
brutes. He was seated, reclining in a corner of the narrow room
with his shoulders supported by the angle, and his head fallen
heavily on his chest. Judith moved forward with a sudden impulse,
and removed a canvass cap that was forced so low on his head as to
conceal his face, and indeed all but his shoulders. The instant
this obstacle was taken away, the quivering and raw flesh, the bared
veins and muscles, and all the other disgusting signs of mortality,
as they are revealed by tearing away the skin, showed he had been
scalped, though still living.

Chapter XXI.

"Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him;
But nothing he'll reck, if they'll let him sleep on,
In the grave where a Briton has laid him."

Charles Wolfe, "The Burial of Sir John Moore," vi.

The reader must imagine the horror that daughters would experience,
at unexpectedly beholding the shocking spectacle that was placed
before the eyes of Judith and Esther, as related in the close of
the last chapter. We shall pass over the first emotions, the first
acts of filial piety, and proceed with the narrative by imagining
rather than relating most of the revolting features of the scene.
The mutilated and ragged head was bound up, the unseemly blood was
wiped from the face of the sufferer, the other appliances required
by appearances and care were resorted to, and there was time to
enquire into the more serious circumstances of the case. The facts
were never known until years later in all their details, simple as
they were, but they may as well be related here, as it can be done
in a few words. In the struggle with the Hurons, Hutter had been
stabbed by the knife of the old warrior, who had used the discretion
to remove the arms of every one but himself. Being hard pushed by
his sturdy foe, his knife had settled the matter. This occurred
just as the door was opened, and Hurry burst out upon the platform,
as has been previously related. This was the secret of neither
party's having appeared in the subsequent struggle; Hutter having
been literally disabled, and his conqueror being ashamed to be
seen with the traces of blood about him, after having used so many
injunctions to convince his young warriors of the necessity of
taking their prisoners alive. When the three Hurons returned from
the chase, and it was determined to abandon the castle and join the
party on the land, Hutter was simply scalped to secure the usual
trophy, and was left to die by inches, as has been done in a
thousand similar instances by the ruthless warriors of this part
of the American continent. Had the injury of Hutter been confined
to his head, he might have recovered, however, for it was the
blow of the knife that proved mortal. There are moments of vivid
consciousness, when the stern justice of God stands forth in colours
so prominent as to defy any attempts to veil them from the sight,
however unpleasant they may appear, or however anxious we may be
to avoid recognising it. Such was now the fact with Judith and
Hetty, who both perceived the decrees of a retributive Providence,
in the manner of their father's suffering, as a punishment for his
own recent attempts on the Iroquois. This was seen and felt by
Judith with the keenness of perception and sensibility that were
suited to her character, while the impression made on the simpler
mind of her sister was perhaps less lively, though it might well
have proved more lasting.

"Oh! Judith," exclaimed the weak minded girl, as soon as their
first care had been bestowed on sufferer. "Father went for scalps,
himself, and now where is his own? The Bible might have foretold
this dreadful punishment!"

"Hush, Hetty - hush, poor sister - He opens his eyes; he may hear
and understand you. 'Tis as you say and think, but 'tis too dreadful
to speak."

"Water," ejaculated Hutter, as it might be by a desperate effort,
that rendered his voice frightfully deep and strong for one as near
death as he evidently was - "Water - foolish girls - will you let
me die of thirst?"

Water was brought and administered to the sufferer; the first he
had tasted in hours of physical anguish. It had the double effect
of clearing his throat and of momentarily reviving his sinking
system. His eyes opened with that anxious, distended gaze which
is apt to accompany the passage of a soul surprised by death, and
he seemed disposed to speak.

"Father," said Judith, inexpressibly pained by his deplorable
situation, and this so much the more from her ignorance of what
remedies ought to be applied - "Father, can we do any thing for
you? Can Hetty and I relieve your pain?"

"Father!" slowly repeated the old man. "No, Judith; no, Hetty -I'm
no father. She was your mother, but I'm no father. Look in the
chest - Tis all there - give me more water."

The girls complied, and Judith, whose early recollections extended
farther back than her sister's, and who on every account had more
distinct impressions of the past, felt an uncontrollable impulse of
joy as she heard these words. There had never been much sympathy
between her reputed father and herself, and suspicions of this very
truth had often glanced across her mind, in consequence of dialogues
she had overheard between Hutter and her mother. It might be going
too far to say she had never loved him, but it is not so to add
that she rejoiced it was no longer a duty. With Hetty the feeling
was different. Incapable of making all the distinctions of her
sister, her very nature was full of affection, and she had loved
her reputed parent, though far less tenderly than the real parent,
and it grieved her now to hear him declare he was not naturally
entitled to that love. She felt a double grief, as if his death and
his words together were twice depriving her of parents. Yielding
to her feelings, the poor girl went aside and wept.

The very opposite emotions of the two girls kept both silent for
a long time. Judith gave water to the sufferer frequently, but
she forbore to urge him with questions, in some measure out of
consideration for his condition, but, if truth must be said, quite
as much lest something he should add in the way of explanation
might disturb her pleasing belief that she was not Thomas Hutter's
child. At length Hetty dried her tears, and came and seated herself
on a stool by the side of the dying man, who had been placed at
his length on the floor, with his head supported by some coarse
vestments that had been left in the house.

"Father," she said "you will let me call you father, though you say
you are not one - Father, shall I read the Bible to you - mother
always said the Bible was good for people in trouble. She was
often in trouble herself, and then she made me read the Bible to
her - for Judith wasn't as fond of the Bible as I am - and it always
did her good. Many is the time I've known mother begin to listen
with the tears streaming from her eyes, and end with smiles and
gladness. Oh! father, you don't know how much good the Bible can
do, for you've never tried it. Now, I'll read a chapter and it
will soften your heart as it softened the hearts of the Hurons."

While poor Hetty had so much reverence for, and faith in, the
virtues of the Bible, her intellect was too shallow to enable her
fully to appreciate its beauties, or to fathom its profound and
sometimes mysterious wisdom. That instinctive sense of right which
appeared to shield her from the commission of wrong, and even cast
a mantle of moral loveliness and truth around her character, could
not penetrate abstrusities, or trace the nice affinities between
cause and effect, beyond their more obvious and indisputable
connection, though she seldom failed to see all the latter, and
to defer to all their just consequences. In a word, she was one
of those who feel and act correctly without being able to give a
logical reason for it, even admitting revelation as her authority.
Her selections from the Bible, therefore, were commonly distinguished
by the simplicity of her own mind, and were oftener marked for
containing images of known and palpable things than for any of the
higher cast of moral truths with which the pages of that wonderful
book abound - wonderful, and unequalled, even without referring to
its divine origin, as a work replete with the profoundest philosophy,
expressed in the noblest language. Her mother, with a connection
that will probably strike the reader, had been fond of the book
of Job, and Hetty had, in a great measure, learned to read by the
frequent lessons she had received from the different chapters of
this venerable and sublime poem - now believed to be the oldest
book in the world. On this occasion the poor girl was submissive
to her training, and she turned to that well known part of the
sacred volume, with the readiness with which the practised counsel
would cite his authorities from the stores of legal wisdom. In
selecting the particular chapter, she was influenced by the caption,
and she chose that which stands in our English version as "Job
excuseth his desire of death." This she read steadily, from beginning
to end, in a sweet, low and plaintive voice; hoping devoutly that
the allegorical and abstruse sentences might convey to the heart of
the sufferer the consolation he needed. It is another peculiarity
of the comprehensive wisdom of the Bible that scarce a chapter,
unless it be strictly narration, can be turned to, that does not
contain some searching truth that is applicable to the condition of
every human heart, as well as to the temporal state of its owner,
either through the workings of that heart, or even in a still more
direct form. In this instance, the very opening sentence - "Is
there not an appointed time to man on earth?" was startling, and
as Hetty proceeded, Hutter applied, or fancied he could apply many
aphorisms and figures to his own worldly and mental condition. As
life is ebbing fast, the mind clings eagerly to hope when it is not
absolutely crushed by despair. The solemn words "I have sinned;
what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? Why hast thou
set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself,"
struck Hutter more perceptibly than the others, and, though too
obscure for one of his blunted feelings and obtuse mind either to
feel or to comprehend in their fullest extent, they had a directness
of application to his own state that caused him to wince under

"Don't you feel better now, father?" asked Hetty, closing the
volume. "Mother was always better when she had read the Bible."

"Water," returned Hutter - "give me water, Judith. I wonder if
my tongue will always be so hot! Hetty, isn't there something in
the Bible about cooling the tongue of a man who was burning in Hell

Judith turned away shocked, but Hetty eagerly sought the passage,
which she read aloud to the conscience stricken victim of his own
avaricious longings.

"That's it, poor Hetty; yes, that's it. My tongue wants cooling,
now -what will it be hereafter?"

This appeal silenced even the confiding Hetty, for she had no
answer ready for a confession so fraught with despair. Water, so
long as it could relieve the sufferer, it was in the power of the
sisters to give, and from time to time it was offered to the lips
of the sufferer as he asked for it. Even Judith prayed. As for
Hetty, as soon as she found that her efforts to make her father
listen to her texts were no longer rewarded with success, she knelt
at his side and devoutly repeated the words which the Saviour has
left behind him as a model for human petitions. This she continued
to do, at intervals, as long as it seemed to her that the act could
benefit the dying man. Hutter, however, lingered longer than the
girls had believed possible when they first found him. At times
he spoke intelligibly, though his lips oftener moved in utterance
of sounds that carried no distinct impressions to the mind. Judith
listened intently, and she heard the words - "husband" -"death"
-"pirate" - "law" - "scalps" - and several others of similar import,
though there was no sentence to tell the precise connection in
which they were used. Still they were sufficiently expressive to
be understood by one whose ears had not escaped all the rumours
that had been circulated to her reputed father's discredit, and
whose comprehension was as quick as her faculties were attentive.

During the whole of the painful hour that succeeded, neither of
the sisters bethought her sufficiently of the Hurons to dread their
return. It seemed as if their desolation and grief placed them
above the danger of such an interruption, and when the sound of
oars was at length heard, even Judith, who alone had any reason to
apprehend the enemy, did not start, but at once understood that the
Ark was near. She went upon the platform fearlessly, for should
it turn out that Hurry was not there, and that the Hurons were
masters of the scow also, escape was impossible. Then she had the
sort of confidence that is inspired by extreme misery. But there
was no cause for any new alarm, Chingachgook, Hist, and Hurry all
standing in the open part of the scow, cautiously examining the
building to make certain of the absence of the enemy. They, too,
had seen the departure of the Hurons, as well as the approach of
the canoe of the girls to the castle, and presuming on the latter
fact, March had swept the scow up to the platform. A word sufficed
to explain that there was nothing to be apprehended, and the Ark
was soon moored in her old berth.

Judith said not a word concerning the condition of her father,
but Hurry knew her too well not to understand that something was
more than usually wrong. He led the way, though with less of his
confident bold manner than usual, into the house, and penetrating
to the inner room, found Hutter lying on his back with Hetty sitting at
his side, fanning him with pious care. The events of the morning
had sensibly changed the manner of Hurry. Notwithstanding his skill
as a swimmer, and the readiness with which he had adopted the only
expedient that could possibly save him, the helplessness of being
in the water, bound hand and foot, had produced some such effect
on him, as the near approach of punishment is known to produce on
most criminals, leaving a vivid impression of the horrors of death
upon his mind, and this too in connection with a picture of bodily
helplessness; the daring of this man being far more the offspring
of vast physical powers, than of the energy of the will, or even
of natural spirit. Such heroes invariably lose a large portion of
their courage with the failure of their strength, and though Hurry
was now unfettered and as vigorous as ever, events were too recent
to permit the recollection of his late deplorable condition to be
at all weakened. Had he lived a century, the occurrences of the
few momentous minutes during which he was in the lake would have
produced a chastening effect on his character, if not always on
his manner.

Hurry was not only shocked when he found his late associate in
this desperate situation, but he was greatly surprised. During
the struggle in the building, he had been far too much occupied
himself to learn what had befallen his comrade, and, as no deadly
weapon had been used in his particular case, but every effort had
been made to capture him without injury, he naturally believed
that Hutter had been overcome, while he owed his own escape to his
great bodily strength, and to a fortunate concurrence of extraordinary
circumstances. Death, in the silence and solemnity of a chamber,
was a novelty to him. Though accustomed to scenes of violence, he
had been unused to sit by the bedside and watch the slow beating of
the pulse, as it gradually grew weaker and weaker. Notwithstanding
the change in his feelings, the manners of a life could not be
altogether cast aside in a moment, and the unexpected scene extorted
a characteristic speech from the borderer.

"How now! old Tom," he said, "have the vagabonds got you at an
advantage, where you're not only down, but are likely to be kept
down! I thought you a captyve it's true, but never supposed you
so hard run as this!"

Hutter opened his glassy eyes, and stared wildly at the speaker.
A flood of confused recollections rushed on his wavering mind at
the sight of his late comrade. It was evident that he struggled
with his own images, and knew not the real from the unreal.

"Who are you?" he asked in a husky whisper, his failing strength
refusing to aid him in a louder effort of his voice.

"Who are you? - You look like the mate of 'The Snow' - he was a
giant, too, and near overcoming us."

"I'm your mate, Floating Tom, and your comrade, but have nothing to
do with any snow. It's summer now, and Harry March always quits
the hills as soon after the frosts set in, as is convenient."

"I know you - Hurry Skurry - I'll sell you a scalp! - a sound one,
and of a full grown man - What'll you give?"

"Poor Tom! That scalp business hasn't turned out at all profitable,
and I've pretty much concluded to give it up; and to follow a less
bloody calling."

"Have you got any scalp? Mine's gone - How does it feel to have
a scalp? I know how it feels to lose one - fire and flames about
the brain - and a wrenching at the heart - no - no - kill first,
Hurry, and scalp afterwards."

"What does the old fellow mean, Judith? He talks like one that

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