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The Pioneers Or, The Sources of the Susquehanna by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 10 out of 10

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lies under the sod there. But now he’s gone, and Chingachgook Is
gone; and you be both young and happy. Yes! the big house has rung
with merriment this month past! And now I thought was the time to get
a little comfort in the close of my days. Woods! indeed! I doesn’t
call these woods, Madam Effingham, where I lose myself every day of my
life in the clearings.”

“If there be anything wanting to your comfort, name it, Leather-
Stocking; if it be attainable it is yours.”

“You mean all for the best, lad, I know; and so does madam, too; but
your ways isn’t my ways. ‘Tis like the dead there, who thought, when
the breath was in them, that one went east, and one went west, to find
their heavens; but they’ll meet at last, and so shall we, children.
Yes, and as you’ve begun, and we shall meet in the land of the just at

“This is so new! so unexpected!” said Elizabeth, in almost breathless
excitement; “I had thought you meant to live with us and die with us,

“Words are of no avail,” exclaimed her husband: “the habits of forty
years are not to he dispossessed by the ties of a day. I know you too
well to urge you further, Natty; unless you will let me build you a
hut on one of the distant hills, where we can sometimes see you, and
know that you are comfortable.”

“Don’t fear for the Leather-Stocking, children; God will see that his
days be provided for, and his ind happy. I know you mean all for the
best, but our ways doesn't agree. I love the woods, and ye relish the
face of man; I eat when hungry, and drink when a-dry; and ye keep
stated hours and rules; nay, nay, you even over-feed the dogs, lad,
from pure kindness; and hounds should be gaunty to run well. The
meanest of God’s creatures be made for some use, and I’m formed for
the wilderness, If ye love me, let me go where my soul craves to be

The appeal was decisive; and not another word of en treaty for him to
remain was then uttered; but Elizabeth bent her head to her bosom and
wept, while her husband dashed away the tears from his eyes; and, with
hands that almost refused to perform their office, he procured his
pocket-book, and extended a parcel of bank-notes to the hunter.

“Take these,” he said, “at least take these; secure them about your
person, and in the hour of need they will do you good service.”

The old man took the notes, and examined them with curious eye.

“This, then, is some of the new-fashioned money that they’ve been
making at Albany, out of paper! It can't be worth much to they that
hasn’t larning! No, no, lad-——take back the stuff; it will do me no
sarvice, I took kear to get all the Frenchman’s powder afore he broke
up, and they say lead grows where I’m going. it isn’t even fit for
wads, seeing that I use none but leather!—Madam Effingham, let an old
man kiss your hand, and wish God’s choicest blessings on you and

“Once more let me beseech you, stay!” cried Elizabeth. Do not,
Leather-Stocking, leave me to grieve for the man who has twice rescued
me from death, and who has served those I love so faithfully. For my
sake, if not for your own, stay. I shall see you in those frightful
dreams that still haunt my nights, dying in poverty and age, by the
side of those terrific beasts you slew. There will be no evil, that
sickness, want, and solitude can inflict, that my fancy will not
conjure as your fate. Stay with us, old man, if not for your own
sake, at least for ours.”

“Such thoughts and bitter dreams, Madam Effingham,” returned the
hunter, solemnly, “ will never haunt an innocent parson long. They’ll
pass away with God’s pleasure. And if the cat-a-mounts be yet brought
to your eyes in sleep, tis not for my sake, but to show you the power
of Him that led me there to save you. Trust in God, madam, and your
honorable husband, and the thoughts for an old man like me can never
be long nor bitter. I pray that the Lord will keep you in mind—the
Lord that lives in clearings as well as in the wilderness—and bless
you, and all that belong to you, from this time till the great day
when the whites shall meet the red-skins in judgement, and justice
shall be the law, and not power.”

Elizabeth raised her head, and offered her colorless cheek to his
salute, when he lifted his cap and touched it respectfully. His hand
was grasped with convulsive fervor by the youth, who continued silent.
The hunter prepared himself for his journey, drawing his belt tighter,
and wasting his moments in the little reluctant movements of a
sorrowful departure. Once or twice he essayed to speak, but a rising
in his throat prevented it. At length he shouldered his rifle, and
cried with a clear huntsman’s call that echoed through the woods:
He-e-e-re, he-e-e-re, pups—away, dogs, away!—ye'll be footsore afore
ye see the end of the journey!”

The hounds leaped from the earth at this cry, and scenting around the
grave and silent pair, as if conscious of their own destination, they
followed humbly at the heels of their master. A short pause
succeeded, during which even the youth concealed his face on his
grandfather’s tomb. When the pride of manhood, however, had sup
pressed the feelings of nature, he turned to renew his en treaties,
but saw that the cemetery was occupied only by himself and his wife.

“He is gone!” cried Effingham.

Elizabeth raised her face, and saw the old hunter standing looking
back for a moment, on the verge of the wood. As he caught their
glances, he drew his hard hand hastily across his eyes again, waved it
on high for an adieu, and, uttering a forced cry to his dogs, who were
crouching at his feet, he entered the forest.

This was the last they ever saw of the Leather-Stocking, whose rapid
movements preceded the pursuit which Judge Temple both ordered and
conducted. He had gone far toward the setting sun—the foremost in
that band of pioneers who are opening the way for the march of the
nation across the continent.

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