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

Part 4 out of 10

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“business will sometimes keep a man warm the coldest night that ever
snapt in the mountains. Betty, your husband told me, as we came out
of church, that your hogs were getting mangy, and so I have been out
to take a look at them, and found it true. I stepped across, doctor,
and got your boy to weigh me out a pound of salts, and have been
mixing it with their swill. I’ll bet a saddle of venison against a
gray squirrel that they are better in a week. And now, Mrs.
Hollister, I’m ready for a hissing mug of flip.”

“Sure I know’d ye’d be wanting that same,” said the landlady; “it’s
fixt and ready to the boiling. Sargeant, dear, be handing up the
iron, will ye?—no, the one on the far fire, it’s black, ye will see.
Ah! you’ve the thing now; look if it’s not as red as a cherry.”
The beverage was heated, and Richard took that kind of draught which
men are apt to indulge in who think that they have just executed a
clever thing, especially when they like the liquor.

“Oh! you have a hand. Betty, that was formed to mix flip,” cried
Richard, when he paused for breath. “The very iron has a flavor in
it. Here, John, drink, man, drink! I and you and Dr. Todd have done a
good thing with the shoulder of that lad this very night. ‘Duke, I
made a song while you were gone—one day when I had nothing to do; so
I'll sing you a verse or two, though I haven’t really determined on
the tune yet.

“What is life but a scene of care,
Where each one must toil in his way?
Then let us be jolly, and prove that we are
A set of good fellows, who seem very rare,
And can laugh and sing all the day.
Then let us be jolly
And cast away folly,
For grief turns a black head to gray.”

“There, ‘Duke, what do you think of that? There is another verse of
it, all but the last line. I haven’t got a rhyme for the last line
yet. Well, old John, what do you think of the music? as good as one
of your war-songs, ha?”

“Good!” said Mohegan, who had been sharing deeply in the potations of
the landlady, besides paying a proper respect to the passing mugs of
the Major and Marmaduke.

“Bravo! pravo! Richart,” cried the Major, whose black eyes were
beginning to swim in moisture; “pravisimo his a goot song; put Natty
Pumppo has a petter. Letter-Stockint, vilt sing? say, olt poy, vilt
sing ter song as apout ter wools?”

“No, no, Major,” returned the hunter, with a melancholy shake of the
head, “I have lived to see what I thought eyes could never behold in
these hills, and I have no heart left for singing. If he that has a
right to be master and ruler here is forced to squinch his thirst,
when a-dry, with snow-Water, it ill becomes them that have lived by
his bounty to be making merry, as if there was nothing in the world
but sunshine and summer.”

When he had spoken, Leather-Stocking again dropped his head on his
knees, and concealed his hard and wrinkled features with his hands.
The change from the excessive cold without to the heat of the bar-
room, coupled with the depth and frequency of Richard’s draughts, had
already levelled whatever inequality there might have existed between
him and the other guests, on the score of spirits; and he now held out
a pair of swimming mugs of foaming flip toward the hunter, as he

“Merry! ay! merry Christmas to you, old boy! Sun shine and summer! no!
you are blind, Leather-Stocking, ‘tis moonshine and winter—take these
spectacles. and open your eyes— So let us be jolly,

And cast away folly,

For grief turns a black head to gray.’

—Hear how old John turns his quavers. What damned dull music an
Indian song is, after all, Major! I wonder if they ever sing by note.”

While Richard was singing and talking, Mohegan was uttering dull,
monotonous tones, keeping time by a gentle motion of his head and
body. He made use of but few words, and such as he did utter were in
his native language, and consequently only understood by himself and
Natty. Without heeding Richard, he continued to sing a kind of wild,
melancholy air, that rose, at times, in sudden and quite elevated
notes, and then fell again into the low, quavering sounds that seemed
to compose the character of his music.

The attention of the company was now much divided, the men in the rear
having formed themselves into little groups, where they were
discussing various matters; among the principal of which were the
treatment of mangy hogs and Parson Grant’s preaching; while Dr. Todd
was endeavoring to explain to Marmaduke the nature of the hurt
received by the young hunter. Mohegan continued to sing, while his
countenance was becoming vacant, though, coupled with his thick, bushy
hair, it was assuming an expression very much like brutal ferocity.
His notes were gradually growing louder, and soon rose to a height
that caused a general cessation in the discourse. The hunter now
raised his head again, and addressed the old warrior warmly in the
Delaware language, which, for the benefit of our readers, we shall
render freely into English.

“Why do you sing of your battles, Chingachgook, and of the warriors
you have slain, when the worst enemy of all is near you, and keeps the
Young Eagle from his rights? I have fought in as many battles as any
warrior in your tribe, but cannot boast of my deeds at such a time as

“Hawk-eye,” said the Indian, tottering with a doubtful step from his
place, “I am the Great Snake of the Delawares; I can track the Mingoes
like an adder that is stealing on the whip-poor-will’s eggs, and
strike them like the rattlesnake dead at a blow. The white man made
the tomahawk of Chingachgook bright as the waters of Otsego, when the
last sun is shining; but it is red with the blood of the Maquas.”

“And why have you slain the Mingo warriors? Was it not to keep these
hunting-grounds and lakes to your father’s children? and were they not
given in solemn council to the Fire-eater? and does not the blood of a
warrior run in the veins of a young chief, who should speak aloud
where his voice is now too low to be heard?”

The appeal of the hunter seemed in some measure to recall the confused
faculties of the Indian, who turned his face toward the listeners and
gazed intently on the Judge. He shook his head, throwing his hair
back from his countenance, and exposed eyes that were glaring with an
expression of wild resentment. But the man was not himself. His hand
seemed to make a fruitless effort to release his tomahawk, which was
confined by its handle to his belt, while his eyes gradually became
vacant. Richard at that instant thrusting a mug before him, his
features changed to the grin of idiocy, and seizing the vessel with
both hands, he sank backward on the bench and drank until satiated,
when he made an effort to lay aside the mug with the helplessness of
total inebriety.

“Shed not blood!” exclaimed the hunter, as he watched the countenance
of the Indian in its moment of ferocity; “but he is drunk and can do
no harm. This is the way with all the savages; give them liquor, and
they make dogs of themselves. Well, well—the- day will come when
right will be done; and we must have patience.”

Natty still spoke in the Delaware language, and of course was not
understood. He had hardly concluded before Richard cried:

“Well, old John is soon sewed up. Give him a berth, captain, in the
barn, and I will pay for it. I am rich to night, ten times richer
than ‘Duke, with all his lands, amid military lots, and funded debts,
and bonds, and mortgages

' Come, let us be jolly,
And cast awsy folly,
For grief—-’

Drink, King Hiram—drink, Mr. Doo-nothing—-drink, sir, I say. This is
a Christmas eve, which comes, you know, but once a year.”

“He! he! he! the squire is quite moosical to-night,” said Hiram, whose
visage began to give marvellous signs of relaxation. “I rather guess
we shall make a church on’t yet, squire?”

“A church, Mr. Doolittle! we will make a cathedral of it! bishops,
priests, deacons, wardens, vestry, and choir; organ, organist, amid
bellows! By the Lord Harry, as Benjamin says, we will clap a steeple
on the other end of it, and make two churches of it. What say you,
‘Duke, will you pay? ha! my cousin Judge, wilt pay?”

“Thou makest such a noise, Dickon,” returned Marmaduke, “it is
impossible that I can hear what Dr. Todd is saying. I think thou
observedst, it is probable the wound will fester, so as to occasion
danger to the limb in this cold weather?”

“Out of nater, sir, quite out of nater,” said Elnathan, attempting to
expectorate, but succeeding only in throwing a light, frothy
substance, like a flake of snow, into the fire—” quite out of nater
that a wound so well dressed, and with the ball in my pocket, should
fester. I s’pose, as the Judge talks of taking the young man into his
house, it will be most convenient if I make but one charge on’t.”

“I should think one would do,” returned Marmaduke, with that arch
smile that so often beamed on his face; leaving the beholder in doubt
whether he most enjoyed the character of his companion or his own
covert humor. The landlord had succeeded in placing the. Indian on
some straw in one of his outbuildings, where, covered with his own
blanket, John continued for the remainder of the night.

In the mean time, Major Hartmann began to grow noisy and jocular;
glass succeeded glass, and mug after mug was introduced, until the
carousal had run deep into the night, or rather morning; when the
veteran German ex- I pressed an inclination to return to the mansion-
house. Most of the party had already retired, but Marmaduke knew the
habits of his friend too well to suggest an earlier adjournment. So
soon, however, as the proposal was made, the Judge eagerly availed
himself of it, and the trio prepared to depart. Mrs. Hollister
attended them to the door in person, cautioning her guests as to the
safest manner of leaving her premises

“Lane on Mister Jones, Major,” said she “he’s young and will be a
support to ye. Well, it’s a charming sight to see ye, anyway, at the
Bould Dragoon; and sure it’s no harm to be kaping a Christmas eve wid
a light heart, for it’s no telling when we may have sorrow come upon
us. So good-night, Joodge, and a merry Christmas to ye all tomorrow

The gentlemen made their adieus as well as they could, and taking the
middle of the road, which was a fine, wide, and well-beaten path, they
did tolerably well until they reached the gate of the mansion-house:
but on entering the Judge’s domains they encountered some slight
difficulties. We shall not stop to relate them, but will just mention
that in the morning sundry diverging paths were to be seen in the
snow; and that once during their progress to the door, Marmaduke,
missing his companions, was enabled to trace them by one of these
paths to a spot where he discovered them with nothing visible but
their heads, Richard singing in a most vivacious strain:

“Come, let us be jolly,
And cast away folly,
For grief turns a black head to gray.”


“As she lay, on that day, in the Bay of Biscay, 0!”

Previously to the occurrence of the scene at the “Bold Dragoon,”
Elizabeth had been safely reconducted to the mansion-house, where she
was left as its mistress, either to amuse or employ herself during the
evening as best suited her own inclinations. Most of the lights were
extinguished; but as Benjamin adjusted with great care and regularity
four large candles, in as many massive candlesticks of brass, in a row
on the sideboard, the hall possessed a peculiar air of comfort and
warmth, contrasted with the cheerless aspect of the room she had left
in the academy.

Remarkable had been one of the listeners to Mr. Grant, and returned
with her resentment, which had been not a little excited by the
language of the Judge, somewhat softened by reflection and the
worship. She recollected the youth of Elizabeth, and thought it no
difficult task, under present appearances, to exercise that power
indirectly which hitherto she had enjoyed undisputed. The idea of
being governed, or of being compelled to pay the deference of
servitude, was absolutely intolerable; and she had already determined
within herself, some half dozen times, to make an effort that should
at once bring to an issue the delicate point of her domestic
condition. But as often as she met the dark, proud eye of Elizabeth,
who was walking up and down the apartment, musing on the scenes of her
youth and the change in her condition, and perhaps the events of the
day, the housekeeper experienced an awe that she would not own to
herself could be excited by anything mortal. It, however, checked her
advances, and for some time held her tongue-tied. At length she
determined to commence the discourse by entering on a subject that was
apt to level all human distinctions, and in which she might display
her own abilities.

“It was quite a wordy sarmon that Parson Grant gave us to-night,” said
Remarkable. “The church ministers be commonly smart sarmonizers, but
they write down their idees, which is a great privilege. I don’t
think that, by nater, they are as tonguey speakers, for an off-hand
discourse, as the standing-order ministers.”

“And what denomination do you distinguish as the standing-order?”
inquired Miss Temple, with some surprise.

“Why, the Presbyter’ans and Congregationals, and Baptists, too, for-
til’ now; and all sitch as don’t go on their knees to prayer,”

“By that rule, then, you would call those who belong’ to the
persuasion of my father, the sitting-order,” observed Elizabeth.
“I’m sure I’ve never heard ‘em spoken of by any other’ name than
Quakers, so called,” returned Remarkable, betraying a slight
uneasiness; “I should be the last to call them otherwise, for I never
in my life used a disparaging’ tarm of the Judge, or any of his
family. I’ve always set store by the Quakers, they are so pretty-
spoken, clever people, and it’s a wonderment to me how your father
come to marry into a church family; for they are as contrary in
religion as can be. One sits still, and, for the most part; says
nothing, while the church folks practyse all kinds of ways, so that I
sometimes think it quite moosical to see them; for I went to a church-
meeting once before, down country.”

“You have found an excellence in the church liturgy that has hitherto
escaped me. I will thank you to inquire whether the fire in my room
burns; I feel fatigued with my journey, and will retire.”

Remarkable felt a wonderful inclination to tell the young mistress of
the mansion that by opening a door she might see for herself; but
prudence got the better of resentment, and after pausing some little
time, as a salve to her dignity, she did as desired. The report was
favorable, and the young lady, wishing Benjamin, who was filling the
stove with wood, and the housekeeper, each a good-night, withdrew.

The instant the door closed on Miss Temple, Remark able commenced a
sort of mysterious, ambiguous discourse, that was neither abusive nor
commendatory of the qualities of the absent personage, but which
seemed to be drawing nigh, by regular degrees, to a most dissatisfied
description. The major-domo made no reply. but continued his
occupation with great industry, which being happily completed, he took
a look at the thermometer, and then opening a drawer of the sideboard,
he produced a supply of stimulants that would have served to keep the
warmth in his system without the aid of the enormous fire he had been
building. A small stand was drawn up near the stove, and the bottles
and the glasses necessary for convenience were quietly arranged. Two
chairs were placed by the side of this comfortable situation, when
Benjamin, for the first time, appeared to observe his companion.

“Come,” he cried, “come, Mistress Remarkable, bring yourself to an
anchor on this chair. It’s a peeler without, I can tell you, good
woman; but what cares I? blow high or blow low, d’ye see, it’s all the
same thing to Ben. The niggers are snug stowed below before a fire
that would roast an ox whole. The thermometer stands now at fifty-
five, but if there’s any vartue in good maple wood, I’ll weather upon
it, before one glass, as much as ten points more, so that the squire,
when he comes home from Betty Hollister’s warm room, will feel as hot
as a hand that has given the rigging a lick with bad tar. Come,
mistress, bring up in this here chair, and tell me how you like our
new heiress.”

“Why, to my notion, Mr. Penguillum——”

“Pump, Pump,” interrupted Benjamin; “it’s Christmas eve, Mistress
Remarkable, and so, dye see, you had better call me Pump. It’s a
shorter name, and as I mean to pump this here decanter till it sucks,
why, you may as well call me Pump.”

“Did you ever!” cried Remarkable, with a laugh that seemed to unhinge
every joint in her body. “You’re a moosical creature, Benjamin, when
the notion takes you. But, as I was saying, I rather guess that times
will be altered now in this house.”

“Altered!” exclaimed the major-domo, eyeing the bottle, that was
assuming the clear aspect of cut glass with astonishing rapidity; “it
don’t matter much, Mistress Remarkable, so long as I keep the keys of
the lockers in my pocket.”

“I can’t say,” continued the housekeeper, “but there’s good eatables
and drinkables enough in the house for a body’s content—a little more
sugar, Benjamin, in the glass —for Squire Jones is an excellent
provider. But new lords, new laws; and I shouldn’t wonder if you and
I had an unsartain time on’t in footer.”

“Life is as unsartain as the wind that blows,” said Benjamin, with a
moralizing air; “and nothing is more varible than the wind, Mistress
Remarkable, unless you hap pen to fall in with the trades, d’ye see,
and then you may run for the matter of a month at a time, with
studding-sails on both sides, alow and aloft, and with the cabin-boy
at the wheel.”

“I know that life is disp’ut unsartain,” said Remark able, compressing
her features to the humor of her companion; “but I expect there will
be great changes made in the house to rights; and that you will find a
young man put over your head, as there is one that wants to be over
mine; and after having been settled as long as you have, Benjamin, I
should judge that to be hard.”

“Promotion should go according to length of sarvice,” said the major-
domo; “and if-so-be that they ship a hand for my berth, or place a new
steward aft, I shall throw up my commission in less time than you can
put a pilot-boat in stays. Thof Squire Dickon “—this was a common
misnomer with Benjamin—” is a nice gentleman, and as good a man to
sail with as heart could wish, yet I shall tel the squire, d’ye see,
in plain English, and that’s my native tongue, that if-so-be he is
thinking of putting any Johnny Raw over my head, why, I shall resign.
I began forrard, Mistress Prettybones, and worked my way aft, like a
man. I was six months aboard a Garnsey lugger, hauling in the slack
of the lee-sheet and coiling up rigging. From that I went a few trips
in a fore-and-after, in the same trade, which, after all, was but a
blind kind of sailing in the dark, where a man larns but little,
excepting how to steer by the stars. Well, then, d’ye see, I larnt
how a topmast should be slushed, and how a topgallant-sail was to be
becketted; and then I did small jobs in the cabin, such as mixing the
skipper’s grog. ‘Twas there I got my taste, which, you must have
often seen, is excel lent. Well, here’s better acquaintance to us.”
Remarkable nodded a return to the compliment, and took a sip of the
beverage before her; for, provided it was well sweetened, she had no
objection to a small potation now and then, After this observance of
courtesy between the worthy couple, the dialogue proceeded.

“You have had great experiences in life, Benjamin; for, as the
Scripter says, ‘They that go down to the sea in ships see the works of
the Lord.’”

“Ay! for that matter, they in brigs and schooners, too; and it mought
say, the works of the devil. The sea, Mistress Remarkable, is a great
advantage to a man, in the way of knowledge, for he sees the fashions
of nations and the shape of a country. Now, I suppose, for myself
here, who is but an unlarned man to some that follows the seas, I
suppose that, taking the coast from Cape Ler Hogue as low down as Cape
Finish-there, there isn’t so much as a headland, or an island, that I
don’t know either the name of it or something more or less about it.
Take enough, woman, to color the water. Here’s sugar. It’s a sweet
tooth, that fellow that you hold on upon yet, Mistress Prettybones.
But, as I was saying, take the whole coast along, I know it as well as
the way from here to the Bold Dragoon; and a devil of acquaintance is
that Bay of Biscay. Whew! I wish you could but hear the wind blow
there. It sometimes takes two to hold one man’s hair on his head.
Scudding through the bay is pretty much the same thing as travelling
the roads in this country, up one side of a mountain and down the

“Do tell!” exclaimed Remarkable; “and does the sea run as high as
mountains, Benjamin?”

“Well, I will tell; but first let’s taste the grog. Hem! it’s the
right kind of stuff, I must say, that you keep in this country; but
then you’re so close aboard the West Indies, you make but a small run
of it. By the Lord Harry, woman, if Garnsey only lay somewhere
between Cape Hatteras and the bite of Logann, but you’d see rum cheap!
As to the seas, they runs more in uppers in the Bay of Biscay, unless
it may be in a sow-wester, when they tumble about quite handsomely;
thof it’s not in the narrow sea that you are to look for a swell; just
go off the Western Islands, in a westerly blow, keeping the land on
your larboard hand, with the ship’s head to the south’ard, and bring
to, under a close-reefed topsail; or, mayhap, a reefed foresail, with
a fore-topmast-staysail and mizzen staysail to keep her up to the sea,
if she will bear it; and ay there for the matter of two watches, if
you want to see mountains. Why, good woman, I’ve been off there in
the Boadishey frigate, when you could see nothing but some such matter
as a piece of sky, mayhap, as big as the main sail; and then again,
there was a hole under your lee-quarter big enough to hold the whole
British navy.”

“Oh! for massy’s sake! and wa’n’t you afeard, Benjamin? and how did
you get off?”

“Afeard! who the devil do you think was to be frightened at a little
salt water tumbling about his head? As for getting off, when we had
enough of it, and had washed our decks down pretty well, we called all
hands, for, d’ye see, the watch below was in their hammocks, all the
same as if they were in one of your best bedrooms; and so we watched
for a smooth time, clapt her helm hard a weather, let fall the
foresail, and got the tack aboard; and so, when we got her afore it, I
ask you, Mistress Prettybones, if she didn’t walk? didn’t she? I’m no
liar, good woman, when I say that I saw that ship jump from the top of
one sea to another, just like one of these squirrels that can fly
jumps from tree to tree.”

“What! clean out of the water?” exclaimed Remark able, lifting her two
lank arms, with their bony hands spread in astonishment.

“It was no such easy matte: to get out of the water, good woman; for
the spray flew so that you couldn’t tell which was sea or which was
cloud. So there we kept her afore it for the matter of two glasses.
The first lieutenant he cun’d the ship himself, and there was four
quarter masters at the wheel, besides the master with six forecastle
men in the gun-room at the relieving tackles. But then she behaved
herself so well! Oh! she was a sweet ship, mistress! That one frigate
was well worth more, to live in, than the best house in the island.
If I was king of England I’d have her hauled up above Lon’on bridge,
and fit her up for a palace; because why? if anybody can afford to
live comfortably, his majesty can.”

“Well! but, Benjamin,” cried the listener, who was in an ecstasy of
astonishment at this relation of the steward’s dangers, “what did you

“Do! why, we did our duty like hearty fellows. Now if the countrymen
of Monnsheer Ler Quaw had been aboard of her, they would have just
struck her ashore on some of them small islands; but we run along the
land until we found her dead to leeward off the mountains of Pico, and
dam’me if I know to this day how we got there—whether we jumped over
the island or hauled round it; but there we was, and there we lay,
under easy sail, fore-reaching first upon one tack and then upon
t’other, so as to poke her nose out now and then and take a look to
wind’ard till the gale blowed its pipe out.”

“I wonder, now!” exclaimed Remarkable, to whom most of the terms used
by Benjamin were perfectly unintelligible, but who had got a confused
idea of a raging tempest. “It must be an awful life, that going to
sea! and I don’t feel astonishment that you are so affronted with the
thoughts, of being forced to quit a comfortable home like this. Not
that a body cares much for’t, as there’s more houses than one to live
in. Why, when the Judge agreed with me to come and live with him, I’d
no more notion of stopping any time than anything. I happened in just
to see how the family did, about a week after Mrs. Temple died,
thinking to be back home agin’ night; but the family was in such a
distressed way that I couldn’t but stop awhile and help em on. I
thought the situation a good one, seeing that I was an unmarried body,
and they were so much in want of help; so I tarried.”

“And a long time you’ve left your anchors down in the same place,
mistress. I think yo’ must find that the ship rides easy.”

“How you talk, Benjamin! there’s no believing a word you say. I must
say that the Judge and Squire Jones have both acted quite clever, so
long; but I see that now we shall have a specimen to the contrary. I
heern say thats the Judge was gone a great ‘broad, and that he meant
to bring his darter hum, but I didn’t calculate on sich carrins
on. To my notion, Benjamin, she’s likely to turn out a desp’ut ugly

“Ugly!” echoed the major-domo, opening eyes that were beginning to
close in a very suspicious sleepiness, in wide amazement. “By the
Lord Harry, woman, I should as soon think of calling the Boadishey a
clumsy frigate. What the devil would you have? Arn’t her eyes as
bright as the morning and evening stars? and isn’t her hair as black
and glistening as rigging that has just had a lick of tar? doesn’t she
move as stately as a first-rate in smooth water, on a bowline? Why,
woman, the figure-head of the Boadishey was a fool to her, and that,
as I’ve often heard the captain say, was an image of a great queen;
and arn’t queens always comely, woman? for who do you think would be a
king, and not choose a handsome bedfellow?”

“Talk decent, Benjamin,” said the housekeeper, “Or I won’t keep your
company. I don’t gainsay her being comely to look on, but I will
maintain that she’s likely to show poor conduct. She seems to think
herself too good to talk to a body. From what Squire Jones had telled
me, I some expected to be quite captivated by her company. Now, to my
reckoning, Lowizy Grant is much more pritty behaved than Betsey
Temple. She wouldn’t so much as hold discourse with me when I wanted
to ask her how she felt on coming home and missing her mammy.”

“Perhaps she didn’t understand you, woman; you are none of the best
linguister; and then Miss Lizzy has been exercising the king’s English
under a great Lon’on lady, and, for that matter, can talk the language
almost as well as myself, or any native-born British subject. You’ve
forgot your schooling, and the young mistress is a great scollard.”

“Mistress!” cried Remarkable; “don’t make one out to be a nigger,
Benjamin. She’s no mistress of mine, and never will be. And as to
speech, I hold myself as second to nobody out of New England. I was
born and raised in Essex County; and I’ve always heern say that the
Bay State was provarbal for pronounsation!”

“I’ve often heard of that Bay of State,” said Benjamin, “but can’t say
that I’ve ever been in it, nor do I know exactly whereaway it is that
it lays; but I suppose there is good anchorage in it, and that it’s no
bad place for the taking of ling; but for size it can’t be so much as
a yawl to a sloop of war compared with the Bay of Biscay, or, mayhap,
Torbay. And as for language, if you want to hear the dictionary
overhauled like a log-line in a blow, you must go to Wapping and
listen to the Lon’oners as they deal out their lingo. Howsomever, I
see no such mighty matter that Miss Lizzy has been doing to you, good
woman; so take another drop of your brews and forgive and forget, like
an honest soul,”

“No, indeed! and I shan’t do sitch a thing, Benjamin. This treatment
is a newity to me, and what I won’t put up with. I have a hundred and
fifty dollars at use, besides a bed and twenty sheep, to good; and I
don’t crave to live in a house where a body mustn’t call a young woman
by her given name to her face. I will call her Betsey as much as I
please; it’s a free country, and no one can stop me. I did intend to
stop while summer, but I shall quit to-morrow morning; and I will talk
just as I please.”

“For that matter, Mistress Remarkable,” said Benjamin, “there’s none
here who will contradict you; for I’m of opinion that it would be as
easy to stop a hurricane with a Barcelony handkerchy as to bring up
your tongue when the stopper is off. I say, good woman, do they grow
many monkeys along the shores of that Bay of State?”

“You’re a monkey yourself, Mr. Penguillum,” cried the enraged
housekeeper, “or a bear—a black, beastly bear! and ain’t fit for a
decent woman to stay with. I’ll never, keep your company agin, sir,
if I should live thirty years with the Judge. Sitch talk is more
befitting the kitchen than the keeping-room of a house of one who is
well-to-do in the world.”

“Look you, Mistress Pitty—Patty------Prettybones, mayhap I’m some such
matter as a bear, as they will find who come to grapple with me; but
dam’me if I’m a monkey— a thing that chatters without knowing a word
of what it says—a parrot; that will hold a dialogue, for what an
honest man knows, in a dozen languages; mayhap in the Bay of State
lingo; mayhap in Greek or High Dutch. But dost it know what it means
itself? canst answer me that, good woman? Your midshipman can sing
out, and pass the word, when the captain gives the order, but just
send him adrift by himself, and let him work the ship of his own head,
and stop my grog if you don’t find all the Johnny Raws laughing at

“Stop your grog, indeed!” said Remarkable, rising with great
indignation, and seizing a candle; “you’re groggy now, Benjamin and
I’ll quit the room before I hear any misbecoming words from you.”
The housekeeper retired, with a manner but little less dignified, as
she thought, than the air of the heiress, muttering as she drew the
door after her, with a noise like the report of a musket, the
opprobrious terms of “drunkard,” “sot,” and “ beast.”

“Who’s that you say is drunk?” cried Benjamin fiercely, rising and
making a movement toward Remarkable. “You talk of mustering yourself
with a lady you’re just fit to grumble and find fault. Where the
devil should you larn behavior and dictionary? in your damned Bay of
State, ha?”

Benjamin here fell back in his chair, and soon gave vent to certain
ominous sounds, which resembled not a little the growling of his
favorite animal the bear itself. Be fore, however, he was quite
locked—to use the language that would suit the Della-cruscan humor of
certain refined minds of the present day—” in the arms of Morpheus,”
he spoke aloud, observing due pauses between his epithets, the
impressive terms of “monkey,” “parrot,” “picnic,” “tar pot,” and

We shall not attempt to explain his meaning nor connect his sentences;
and our readers must be satisfied with our informing them that they
were expressed with all that coolness of contempt that a man might
well be supposed to feel for a monkey.

Nearly two hours passed in this sleep before the major domo was
awakened by the noisy entrance of Richard, Major Hartmann, and the
master of the mansion. Benjamin so far rallied his confused faculties
as to shape the course of the two former to their respective
apartments, when he disappeared himself, leaving the task of securing
the house to him who was most interested in its safety. Locks and
bars were but little attended to in the early days of that settlement,
and so soon as Marmaduke had given an eye to the enormous fires of his
dwelling he retired. With this act of prudence closes the first night
of our tale.


“Watch (aside). Some treason, masters—
Yet stand close.”—Much Ado About Nothing.

It was fortunate for more than one of the bacchanalians who left the
“Bold Dragoon” late in the evening that the severe cold of the season
was becoming rapidly less dangerous as they threaded the different
mazes through the snow-banks that led to their respective dwellings.
Then driving clouds began toward morning to flit across the heavens,
and the moon set behind a volume of vapor that was impelled furiously
toward the north, carrying with it the softer atmosphere from the
distant ocean. The rising sun was obscured by denser and increasing
columns of clouds, while the southerly wind that rushed up the valley
brought the never-failing symptoms of a thaw.

It was quite late in the morning before Elizabeth, observing the faint
glow which appeared on the eastern mountain long after the light of
the sun had struck the opposite hills, ventured from the house, with a
view to gratify her curiosity with a glance by daylight at the
surrounding objects before the tardy revellers of the Christmas eve
should make their appearance at the breakfast- table. While she was
drawing the folds of her pelisse more closely around her form, to
guard against a cold that was yet great though rapidly yielding, in
the small inclosure that opened in the rear of the house on a little
thicket of low pines that were springing up where trees of a mightier
growth had lately stood, she was surprised at the voice of Mr. Jones.

“Merry Christmas, merry Christmas to you, Cousin Bess,” he shouted.
“Ah, ha! an early riser, I see; but I knew I should steal a march on
you. I never was in a house yet where I didn’t get the first
Christmas greeting on every soul in it, man, woman, and child—great
and small—black, white, and yellow. But stop a minute till I can just
slip on my coat. You are about to look at the improvements, I see,
which no one can explain so well as I, who planned them all. It will
be an hour before ‘Duke and the Major can sleep off Mrs. Hollister’s
confounded distillations, and so I’ll come down and go with you.

Elizabeth turned and observed her cousin in his night cap, with his
head out of his bedroom window, where his zeal for pre-eminence, in
defiance of the weather, had impelled him to thrust it. She laughed,
and promising to wait for his company re-entered the house, making her
appearance again, holding in her hand a packet that was secured by
several large and important seals, just in time to meet the gentleman.

“Come, Bessy, come,” he cried, drawing one of her arms through his
own; “ the snow begins to give, but it will bear us yet. Don’t you
snuff old Pennsylvania in the very air? This is a vile climate, girl;
now at sunset, last evening, it was cold enough to freeze a man’s
zeal, and that, I can tell you, takes a thermometer near zero for me;
then about nine or ten it began to moderate; at twelve it was quite
mild, and here all the rest of the night I have been so hot as not to
bear a blanket on the bed. —Holla! Aggy—merry Christmas, Aggy—I say,
do you hear me, you black dog! there’s a dollar for you; and if the
gentle men get up before I come back, do you come out and let me know.
I wouldn’t have 'Duke get the start of me for the worth of your head.”

The black caught the money from the snow, and promising a due degree
of watchfulness, he gave the dollar a whirl of twenty feet in the air,
and catching it as it fell in the palm of his hand, he withdrew to the
kitchen, to exhibit his present, with a heart as light as his face was
happy in its expression.

“Oh, rest easy, my dear coz,” said the young lady; “I took a look in
at my father, who is likely to sleep an hour; and by using due
vigilance you will secure all the honors of the season.”

“Why, Duke is your father, Elizabeth ; but ‘Duke is a man who likes to
be foremost, even in trifles. Now, as for myself, I care for no such
things, except in the way of competition; for a thing which is of no
moment in itself may be made of importance in the way of competition.
So it is with your father—he loves to he first; but I only; struggle
with him as a competitor.”

“It’s all very clear, sir,” said Elizabeth; “you would not care a fig
for distinction if there were no one in the world but yourself; but as
there happens to be a great many others, why, you must struggle with
them all—in the way of competition.”

“Exactly so; I see you are a clever girl, Bess, and one who does
credit to her masters. It was my plan to send you to that school; for
when your father first mentioned the thing, I wrote a private letter
for advice to a judicious friend in the city, who recommended the very
school you went to. ‘Duke was a little obstinate at first, as usual,
but when he heard the truth he was obliged to send you.”

“Well, a truce to ‘Duke’s foibles, sir; he is my father, and if you
knew what he has been doing for you while we were in Albany, you would
deal more tenderly with his character.”

“For me!” cried Richard, pausing a moment in his walk to reflect.
“Oh! he got the plans of the new Dutch meeting-house for me, I
suppose; but I care very little about it, for a man of a certain kind
of talent is seldom aided by any foreign suggestions; his own brain is
the best architect.”

“No such thing,” said Elizabeth, looking provokingly knowing.

“No! let me see—perhaps he had my name put in the bill for the new
turnpike, as a director.”

“He might possibly; but it is not to such an appointment that I

“Such an appointment!” repeated Mr. Jones, who began to fidget with
curiosity; “then it is an appointment. If it is in the militia, I
won’t take it.

“No, no, it is not in the militia,” cried Elizabeth, showing the
packet in her hand, and then drawing it back with a coquettish air;
“it is an office of both honor and emolument.”

“Honor and emolument!” echoed Richard, in painful suspense; “show me
the paper, girl. Say, is it an office where there is anything to do?”

“You have hit it, Cousin Dickon; it is the executive office of the
county; at least so said my father when he gave me this packet to
offer you as a Christmas-box. Surely, if anything will please
Dickon,’ he said, ‘it will be to fill the executive chair of the

“Executive chair! what nonsense!” cried the impatient gentleman,
snatching the packet from her hand; “there is no such office in the
county. Eh! what! it is, I declare, a commission, appointing Richard
Jones, Esquire, sheriff of the county. Well, this is kind in ‘Duke,
positively. I must say ‘Duke has a warm heart, and never forgets his
friends. Sheriff! High Sheriff of —! it sounds well, Bess, but it
shall execute better. ‘Duke is a judicious man after all, and knows
human nature thoroughly, I’m much obliged to him,” continued Richard,
using the skirt of his coat unconsciously to wipe his eyes; “though I
would do as much for him any day, as he shall see, if I have an
opportunity to perform any of the duties of my office on him. It
shall be done, Cousin Bess----it shall be done, I say. How this
cursed south wind makes one’s eyes water!”

“Now, Richard,” said the laughing maiden, “now I think you will find
something to do. I have often heard you complain of old that there
was nothing to do in this new country, while to my eyes it seemed as
if everything remained to be done.”

“Do!” echoed Richard, who blew his nose, raised his little form to its
greatest elevation, and looked serious. “Everything depends on
system, girl. I shall sit down this afternoon and systematize the
county. I must have deputies, you know. I will divide the county
into districts, over which I will place my deputies; and I will have
one for the village, which I will call my home department. Let me
see—ho! Benjamin! yes, Benjamin will make a good deputy; he has been
naturalized, and would answer admirably if he could only ride on

“Yes, Mr. Sheriff,” said his companion; “and as he understands ropes
so well, he would be very expert, should occasion happen for his
services in another way.”

“No,” interrupted the other; “I flatter myself that no man could hang
a man better than—that is—ha!—oh! yes, Benjamin would do extremely
well in such an unfortunate dilemma, if he could be persuaded to
attempt it. But I should despair of the thing. I never could induce
him to hang, or teach him to ride on horseback. I must seek another
“Well, sir, as you have abundant leisure for all these important
affairs, I beg that you will forget that you are high sheriff, and
devote some little of your time to gallantry. Where are the beauties
and improvements which you were to show me?”

“Where? why, everywhere! Here I have laid out some new streets; and
when they are opened, and the trees felled, and they are all built up,
will they not make a fine town? Well, ‘Duke is a liberal-hearted
fellow, with all his stubbornness. Yes, yes; I must have at least
four deputies, besides a jailer.”

“I see no streets in the direction of our walk,” said Elizabeth,
“unless you call the short avenues through these pine bushes by that
name. Surely you do not contemplate building houses, very soon, in
that forest before us, and in those swamps.”

We must run our streets by the compass, coz, and disregard trees,
hills, ponds, stumps, or, in fact, anything but posterity. Such is
the will of your father, and your father, you know——”

“Had you made sheriff, Mr. Jones,” interrupted the lady, with a tone
that said very plainly to the gentleman that he was touching a
forbidden subject.

“I know it, I know it,” cried Richard; “and if it were in my power,
I’d make ‘Duke a king. He is a noble hearted fellow, and would make
an excellent king; that is, if he had a good prime minister. But who
have we here? voices in the bushes—a combination about mischief, I’ll
wager my commission. Let us draw near and examine a little into the

During this dialogue, as the parties had kept in motion, Richard and
his cousin advanced some distance from the house into the open space
in the rear of the village, where, as may be gathered from the
conversation, streets were planned and future dwellings contemplated;
but where, in truth, the only mark of improvement that was to be seen
was a neglected clearing along the skirt of a dark forest of mighty
pines, over which the bushes or sprouts of the same tree had sprung up
to a height that interspersed the fields of snow with little thickets
of evergreen. The rushing of the wind, as it whistled through the
tops of these mimic trees, prevented the footsteps of the pair from
being heard, while the branches concealed their persons. Thus aided,
the listeners drew nigh to a spot where the young hunter, Leather-
Stocking, and the Indian chief were collected in an earnest
consultation. The former was urgent in his manner, and seemed to
think the subject of deep importance, while Natty appeared to listen
with more than his usual attention to what the other was saying.
Mohegan stood a little on one side, with his head sunken on his chest,
his hair falling forward so as to conceal most of his features, and
his whole attitude expressive of deep dejection, if not of shame.
Let us withdraw,” whispered Elizabeth; “ we are intruders, and can
have no right to listen to the secrets of these men.”

“No right!” returned Richard a little impatiently, in the same tone,
and drawing her arm so forcibly through his own as to prevent her
retreat; “you forget, cousin, that it is my duty to preserve the peace
of the county and see the laws executed, these wanderers frequently
commit depredations, though I do not think John would do anything
secretly. Poor fellow! he was quite boozy last night, and hardly
seems to be over it yet. Let us draw nigher and hear what they say.”

Notwithstanding the lady’s reluctance, Richard, stimulated doubtless
by his sense of duty, prevailed; and they were soon so near as
distinctly to hear sounds.

“The bird must he had,” said Natty, “by fair means or foul. Heigho!
I’ve known the time, lad, when the wild turkeys wasn’t over-scarce in
the country; though you must go into the Virginia gaps if you want
them now. ‘to be sure, there is a different taste to a partridge and
a well-fatted turkey; though, to my eating, beaver’s tail and bear’s
ham make the best of food. But then every one has his own appetite.
I gave the last farthing, all to that shilling, to the French trader,
this very morning, as I came through the town, for powder; so, as you
have nothing, we can have but one shot for it. I know that Billy
Kirby is out, and means to have a pull of the trigger at that very
turkey. John has a true eye for a single fire, and, some how, my hand
shakes so whenever I have to do anything extrawnary, that I often lose
my aim. Now, when I killed the she-bear this fall, with her cubs,
though they were so mighty ravenous, I knocked them over one at a
shot, and loaded while I dodged the trees in the bargain; but this is
a very different thing, Mr. Oliver.”

“This,” cried the young man, with an accent that sounded as if he took
a bitter pleasure in his poverty, while he held a shilling up before
his eyes, “this is all the treasure that I possess—this and my rifle!
Now, indeed, I have become a man of the woods, and must place my sole
dependence on the chase. Come, Natty, let us stake the last penny for
the bird; with your aim, it cannot fail to be successful.”

“I would rather it should be John, lad; my heart jumps into my mouth,
because you set your mind so much out; and I’m sartain that I shall
miss the bird. Them Indians can shoot one time as well as another;
nothing ever troubles them. I say, John, here’s a shilling; take my
rifle, and get a shot at the big turkey they’ve put up at the stump.
Mr. Oliver is over-anxious for the creatur’, and I’m sure to do
nothing when I have over-anxiety about it.”

The Indian turned his head gloomily, and after looking keenly for a
moment, in profound silence, at his companions, he replied:

“When John was young, eyesight was not straighter than his bullet.
The Mingo squaws cried out at the sound of his rifle. The Mingo
warriors were made squaws. When did he ever shoot twice? The eagle
went above the clouds when he passed the wigwam of Chingachgook; his
feathers were plenty with the women. But see,” he said, raising his
voice from the low, mournful tones in which he had spoken to a pitch
of keen excitement, and stretching forth both hands, “they shake like
a deer at the wolf’s howl. Is John old? When was a Mohican a squaw
with seventy winters? No! the white man brings old age with him—rum is
his tomahawk!”

“Why, then, do you use it, old man?” exclaimed the young hunter; “why
will one, so noble by nature, aid the devices of the devil by making
himself a beast?”

“Beast! is John a beast?” replied the Indian slowly; “yes; you say no
lie, child of the Fire-eater! John is a beast. The smokes were once
few in these hills, The deer would lick the hand of a white man and
the birds rest on his head. They were strangers to him. My fathers
came from the shores of the salt lake. They fled before rum. They
came to their grandfather, and they lived in peace; or, when they did
raise the hatchet, it was to strike it into the brain of a Mingo.
They gathered around the council fire, and what they said was done.
Then John was a man. But warriors and traders with light eyes
followed them. One brought the long knife and one brought rum. They
were more than the pines on the mountains; and they broke up the
councils and took the lands, The evil spirit was in their jugs, and
they let him loose. Yes yes—you say no lie, Young Eagle; John is a
Christian beast.”

“Forgive me, old warrior,” cried the youth, grasping his hand; “I
should be the last to reproach you. The curses of Heaven light on the
cupidity that has destroyed such a race. Remember, John, that I am of
your family, and it is now my greatest pride.”

The muscles of Mohegan relaxed a little, and he said, more mildly:

“You are a Delaware, my son; your words are not heard—John cannot

“I thought that lad had Indian blood in him,” whispered Richard, “by
the awkward way he handled my horses last night. You see, coz, they
never use harness. But the poor fellow shall have two shots at the
turkey, if he wants it, for I’ll give him another shilling myself;
though, per haps, I had better offer to shoot for him. They have got
up their Christmas sports, I find, in the bushes yonder, where you
hear the laughter—though it is a queer taste this chap has for turkey;
not but what it is good eating, too,”

“Hold, Cousin Richard,” exclaimed Elizabeth, clinging to his arm;
“would it be delicate to offer a shilling to that gentleman?”

“Gentleman, again! Do you think a half-breed, like him, will refuse
money? No, no, girl, he will take the shilling; ay! and even rum too,
notwithstanding he moralizes so much about it, But I’ll give the lad a
chance for his turkey; for that Billy Kirby is one of the best
marksmen in the country; that is, if we except the—the gentleman.”

“Then,” said Elizabeth, who found her strength unequal to her will, “
then, sir, I will speak.” She advanced, with an air of determination,
in front of her cousin, and entered the little circle of bushes that
surrounded the trio of hunters. Her appearance startled the youth,
who at first made an unequivocal motion toward retiring, but,
recollecting himself, bowed, by lifting his cap, and resumed his
attitude of leaning on his rifle. Neither Natty nor Mohegan betrayed
any emotion, though the appearance of Elizabeth was so entirely

“I find,” she said, “that the old Christmas sport of shooting the
turkey is yet in use among you. I feel inclined to try my chance for
a bird. Which of you will take this money, and, after paying my fee,
give me the aid of his rifle?”

“Is this a sport for a lady?” exclaimed the young hunter, with an
emphasis that could not well be mistaken, and with a rapidity that
showed he spoke without consulting anything but feeling.
“Why not, sir? If it be inhuman the sin is not confined to one sex
only. But I have my humor as well as others. I ask not your
assistance, but”—turning to Natty, and dropping a dollar in his hand—”
this old veteran of the forest will not be so ungallant as to refuse
one fire for a lady.”

Leather-Stocking dropped the money into his pouch, and throwing up the
end of his rifle he freshened his priming; and first laughing in his
usual manner, he threw the piece over his shoulder, and said:

“If Billy Kirby don’t get the bird before me, and the Frenchman’s
powder don’t hang fire this damp morning, you’ll see as fine a turkey
dead, in a few minutes, as ever was eaten in the Judge’s shanty. I
have knowed the Dutch women, on the Mohawk and Schoharie, count
greatly on coming to the merry-makings; and so, lad, you shouldn’t be
short with the lady. Come, let us go forward, for if we wait the
finest bird will be gone.”

“But I have a right before you, Natty, and shall try on my own luck
first. You will excuse me, Miss Temple; I have much reason to wish
that bird, and may seem ungallant, but I must claim my privileges.”

“Claim anything that is justly your own, sir,” returned the lady; “we
are both adventurers; and this is my knight. I trust my fortune to
his hand and eye. Lead on, Sir Leather-Stocking, and we will follow.”

Natty, who seemed pleased with the frank address of the young and
beauteous Elizabeth, who had so singularly intrusted him with such a
commission, returned the bright smile with which she had addressed
him, by his own peculiar mark of mirth, and moved across the snow
toward the spot whence the sounds of boisterous mirth proceeded, with
the long strides of a hunter. His companions followed in silence, the
youth casting frequent and uneasy glances toward Elizabeth, who was
detained by a motion from Richard.

“I should think, Miss Temple,” he said, so soon as the others were out
of hearing, “that if you really wished a turkey, you would not have
taken a stranger for the office, and such a one as Leather-Stocking.
But I can hardly believe that you are serious, for I have fifty, at
this moment, shut up in the coops, in every stage of fat, so that you
might choose any quality you pleased. There are six that I am trying
an experiment on, by giving them brick-bats with—”

“Enough, Cousin Dickon,” interrupted the lady; “I do wish the bird,
and it is because I so wish that I commissioned this Mr. Leather-

“Did you ever hear of the great shot that I made at the wolf, Cousin
Elizabeth, who was carrying off your father's sheep?” said Richard,
drawing himself up with an air of displeasure. “He had the sheep on
his hack; and, had the head of the wolf been on the other side, I
should have killed him dead; as it was—”

“You killed the sheep—I know it all, dear coz. Hut would it have been
decorous for the High Sheriff of —to mingle in such sports as these?”
“Surely you did not think that I intended actually to fire with my own
hands?” said Mr. Jones. “But let us follow, and see the shooting.
There is no fear of anything unpleasant occurring to a female in this
new country, especially to your father’s daughter, and in my

“My father’s daughter fears nothing, sir, more especially when
escorted by the highest executive officer in the county.”

She took his arm, and he led her through the mazes of the bushes to
the spot where most of the young men of the village were collected for
the sports of shooting a Christmas match, and whither Natty and his
Companions had already preceded them.


I guess, by all this quaint array,
The burghers hold their sports to-day.”—Scott.

The ancient amusement of shooting the Christmas turkey is one of the
few sports that the settlers of a new country seldom or never neglect
to observe. It was connected with the daily practices of a people who
often laid aside the axe or the scythe to seize the rifle, as the deer
glided through the forests they were felling, or the bear entered
their rough meadows to scent the air of a clearing, and to scan, with
a look of sagacity, the progress of the invader.

On the present occasion, the usual amusement of the day had been a
little hastned, in order to allow a fair opportunity to Mr. Grant,
whose exhibition was not less a treat to the young sportsmen than the
one which engaged their present attention. The owner of the birds was
a free black, who had prepared for the occasion a collection of game
that was admirably qualified to inflame the appetite of an epicure,
and was well adapted to the means and skill of the different
competitors, who were of all ages. He had offered to the younger and
more humble marks men divers birds of an inferior quality, and some
shooting had already taken place, much to the pecuniary advantage of
the sable owner of the game. The order of the sports was extremely
simple, and well understood. The bird was fastened by a string to the
stump of a large pine, the side of which, toward the point where the
marksmen were placed, had been flattened with an axe, in order that it
might serve the purpose of a target, by which the merit of each
individual might be ascertained. The distance between the stump and
shooting-stand was one hundred measured yards; a foot more or a foot
less being thought an invasion of the right of one of the parties.
The negro affixed his own price to every bird, and the terms of the
chance; but, when these were once established, he was obliged, by the
strict principles of public justice that prevailed in the country, to
admit any adventurer who might offer.

The throng consisted of some twenty or thirty young men, most of whom
had rifles, and a collection of all the boys in the village. The
little urchins, clad in coarse but warm garments, stood gathered
around the more distinguished marksmen, with their hands stuck under
their waistbands, listening eagerly to the boastful stories of skill
that had been exhibited on former occasions, and were already
emulating in their hearts these wonderful deeds in gunnery.

The chief speaker was the man who had been mentioned by Natty as Billy
Kirby. This fellow, whose occupation, when he did labor, was that of
clearing lands, or chopping jobs, was of great stature, and carried in
his very air the index of his character. He was a noisy, boisterous,
reckless lad, whose good-natured eye contradicted the bluntness and
bullying tenor of his speech. For weeks he would lounge around the
taverns of the county, in a state of perfect idleness, or doing small
jobs for his liquor and his meals, and cavilling with applicants about
the prices of his labor; frequently preferring idleness to an
abatement of a little of his independence, or a cent in his wages.
But, when these embarrassing points were satisfactorily arranged, he
would shoulder his axe and his rifle, slip his arms through the straps
of his pack, and enter the woods with the tread of a Hercules. His
first object was to learn his limits, round which he would pace,
occasionally freshening, with a blow of his axe, the marks on the
boundary trees; and then he would proceed, with an air of great
deliberation, to the centre of his premises, and, throwing aside his
superfluous garments, measure, with a knowing eye, one or two of the
nearest trees that were towering apparently into the very clouds as he
gazed upward. Commonly selecting one of the most noble for the first
trial of his power, he would approach it with a listless air,
whistling a low tune; and wielding his axe with a certain flourish,
not unlike the salutes of a fencing-master, he would strike a light
blow into the bark, and measure his distance. The pause that followed
was ominous of the fall of the forest which had flourished there for
centuries. The heavy and brisk blows that he struck were soon
succeeded by the thundering report of the tree, as it came, first
cracking and threatening with the separation of its own last
ligaments, then threshing and tearing with its branches the tops of
its surrounding brethren, and finally meeting the ground with a shock
but little inferior to an earthquake. From that moment the sounds of
the axe were ceaseless, while the failing of the trees was like a
distant cannonading; and the daylight broke into the depths of the
woods with the suddenness of a winter morning.

For days, weeks, nay months, Billy Kirby would toil with an ardor that
evinced his native spirit, and with an effect that seemed magical,
until, his chopping being ended, his stentorian lungs could be heard
emitting sounds, as he called to his patient oxen, which rang through
the hills like the cries of an alarm. He had been often heard, on a
mild summer’ evening, a long mile across the vale of Templeton; when
the echoes from the mountains would take up his cries, until they died
away in the feeble sounds from the distant rocks that overhung the
lake. His piles, or, to use the language of the country, his logging
ended, with a dispatch that could only accompany his dexterity and
herculean strength, the jobber would collect together his implements
of labor, light the heaps of timber, and march away under the blaze of
the prostrate forest, like the conqueror of some city who, having
first prevailed over his adversary, applies the torch as the finishing
blow to his conquest. For a long time Billy Kirby would then be seen
sauntering around the taverns, the rider of scrub races, the bully of
cock-fights, and not infrequently the hero of such sports as the one
in hand.

Between him and the Leather-Stocking there had long existed a jealous
rivalry on the point of skill with the rifle. Notwithstanding the
long practice of Natty, it was commonly supposed that the steady
nerves and the quick eye of the wood-chopper rendered him his equal.
The competition had, however, been confined hitherto to boasting, and
comparisons made from their success in various hunting excursions; but
this was the first time they had ever come in open collision. A good
deal of higgling about the price of the choicest bird had taken place
between Billy Kirby and its owner before Natty and his companions
rejoined the sportsmen It had, however, been settled at one shilling *
a shot, which was the highest sum ever exacted, the black taking care
to protect himself from losses, as much as possible, by the conditions
of the sport.

* Before the Revolution, each province had its own money of account
though neither coined any but copper pieces. In New York the Spanish
dollar was divided into eight shillings, each of the value of a
fraction more than sixpence sterling. At present the Union has
provided a decimal system, with coins to represent it.

The turkey was already fastened at the “mark,” hut its body was
entirely hid by the surrounding snow, nothing being visible but its
red swelling head and its long neck. If the bird was injured by any
bullet that struck below the snow, it was to continue the property of
its present owner; but if a feather was touched in a visible part, the
animal became the prize of the successful adventurer.

These terms were loudly proclaimed by the negro, who was seated in the
snow, in a somewhat hazardous vicinity to his favorite bird, when
Elizabeth and her cousin approached the noisy sportsmen. The sounds
of mirth and contention sensibly lowered at this unexpected visit;
but, after a moment’s pause, the curious interest exhibited in the
face of the young lady, together with her smiling air, restored the
freedom of the morning; though it was somewhat chastened, both in
language and vehemence, by the presence of such a spectator.

“Stand out of the way there, boys!” cried the wood-chopper, who was
placing himself at the shooting-point— stand out of the way, you
little rascals, or I will shoot through you. Now, Brom, take leave of
your turkey.”
Stop!” cried the young hunter; “I am a candidate for a chance. Here
is my shilling, Brom; I wish a shot too.”
You may wish it in welcome,” cried Kirby, “but if I ruffle the
gobbler’s feathers, how are you to get it? Is money so plenty in your
deer-skin pocket, that you pay for a chance that you may never have?”

“How know you, sir, how plenty money is in my pocket?” said the youth
fiercely. “Here is my shilling, Brom, and I claim a right to shoot.”

“Don't be crabbed, my boy,” said the other, who was very coolly fixing
his flint. “They say you have a hole in your left shoulder yourself,
so I think Brom may give you a fire for half-price. It will take a
keen one to hit that bird, I can tell you, my lad, even if I give you
a chance, which is what I have no mind to do.”

“Don’t be boasting, Billy Kirby,” said Natty, throwing the breech of
his rifle into the snow, and leaning on its barrel; “you’ll get but
one shot at the creatur’, for if the lad misses his aim, which
wouldn’t be a wonder if he did, with his arm so stiff and sore, you’ll
find a good piece and an old eye coming a’ter you. Maybe it’s true
that I can’t shoot as I used to could, but a hundred yards is a short
distance for a long rifle.”

“What, old Leather-Stocking, are you out this morning?” cried his
reckless opponent. “Well, fair play’s a jewel. I’ve the lead of you,
old fellow; so here goes for a dry throat or a good dinner.”

The countenance of the negro evinced not only all the interest which
his pecuniary adventure might occasion, but also the keen excitement
that the sport produced in the others, though with a very different
wish as to the result. While the wood-chopper was slowly and steadily
raising his rifle, he bawled;

“Fair play, Billy Kirby—stand back—make ‘em stand back, boys—gib a
nigger fair play—poss-up, - gobbler; shake a head, fool; don’t you see
‘em taking aim?”

These cries, which were intended as much to distract the attention of
the marksman as for anything else, were fruitless.

The nerves of the wood-chopper were not so easily shaken, and he took
his aim with the utmost deliberation. Stillness prevailed for a
moment, and he fired. The head of the turkey was seen to dash on one
side, and its wings were spread in momentary fluttering; but it
settled itself down calmly into its bed of snow, and glanced its eyes
uneasily around. For a time long enough to draw a deep breath, not a
sound was heard. The silence was then broken by the noise of the
negro, who laughed, and shook his body with all kinds of antics,
rolling over in the snow in the excess of delight.

“Well done, a gobbler,” be cried, jumping up and affecting to embrace
his bird; “I tell ‘em to poss-up, and you see ‘em dodge. Gib anoder
shillin’, Billy, and halb anoder shot.”

“No—the shot is mine,” said the young hunter; “you have my money
already. Leave the mark, and let me try my luck.”

“Ah! it’s but money thrown away, lad,” said Leather-Stocking. “A
turkey’s head and neck is but a small mark for a new hand and a lame
shoulder. You’d best let me take the fire, and maybe we can make some
settlement with the lady about the bird.”
The chance is mine,” said the young hunter. “Clear the ground, that I
may take it.”

The discussions and disputes concerning the last shot were now
abating, it having been determined that if the turkey’s head had been
anywhere but just where it was at that moment, the bird must certainly
have been killed. There was not much excitement produced by the
preparations of the youth, who proceeded in a hurried manner to take
his aim, and was in the act of pulling the trigger, when he was
stopped by Natty.

“Your hand shakes, lad,” he said, “and you seem over eager. Bullet-
wounds are apt to weaken flesh, and to my judgment you’ll not shoot so
well as in common. If you will fire, you should shoot quick, before
there is time to shake off the aim.”

“Fair play,” again shouted the negro; “fair play—gib a nigger fair
play. What right a Nat Bumppo advise a young man? Let ‘em shoot—clear
a ground.”

The youth fired with great rapidity, but no motion was made by the
turkey; and, when the examiners for the ball returned from the “mark,”
they declared that he had missed the stump.

Elizabeth observed the change in his countenance, and could not help
feeling surprise that one so evidently superior to his companions
should feel a trifling loss so sensibly. But her own champion was now
preparing to enter the lists.

The mirth of Brom, which had been again excited, though in a much
smaller degree than before, by the failure of the second adventurer,
vanished the instant Natty took his stand. His skin became mottled
with large brown spots, that fearfully sullied the lustre of his
native ebony, while his enormous lips gradually compressed around two
rows of ivory that had hitherto been shining in his visage like pearls
set in jet. His nostrils, at all times the most conspicuous feature
of his face, dilated until they covered the greater part of the
diameter of his countenance; while his brown and bony hands
unconsciously grasped the snow-crust near him, the excitement of the
moment completely overcoming his native dread of cold.

While these indications of apprehension were exhibited in the sable
owner of the turkey, the man who gave rise to this extraordinary
emotion was as calm and collected as if there was not to be a single
spectator of his skill.

“I was down in the Dutch settlements on the Schoharie,” said Natty,
carefully removing the leather guard from the lock of his rifle, “just
before the breaking out of the last war, and there was a shooting-
match among the boys; so I took a hand. I think I opened a good many
Dutch eyes that day; for I won the powder-horn, three bars of lead,
and a pound of as good powder as ever flashed in pan. Lord! how they
did swear in Jarman! They did tell me of one drunken Dutchman who said
he’d have the life of me before I got back to the lake agin. But if
he had put his rifle to his shoulder with evil intent God would have
punished him for it; and even if the Lord didn’t, and he had missed
his aim, I know one that would have given him as good as he sent, and
better too, if good shooting could come into the ‘count.”
By this time the old hunter was ready for his business, and throwing
his right leg far behind him, and stretching his left arm along the
barrel of his piece, he raised it toward the bird, Every eye glanced
rapidly from the marks man to the mark; but at the moment when each
ear was expecting the report of the rifle, they were disappointed by
the ticking sound of the flint.

“A snap, a snap!” shouted the negro, springing from his crouching
posture like a madman, before his bird. A snap good as fire—Natty
Bumppo gun he snap—Natty Bumppo miss a turkey!”

Natty Bumppo hit a nigger,” said the indignant old hunter, “if you
don’t get out of the way, Brom. It’s contrary to the reason of the
thing, boy, that a snap should count for a fire, when one is nothing
more than a fire-stone striking a steel pan, and the other is sudden
death; so get out of my way, boy, and let me show Billy Kirby how to
shoot a Christmas turkey.”

“Gib a nigger fair play!” cried the black, who continued resolutely to
maintain his post, and making that appeal to the justice of his
auditors which the degraded condition of his caste so naturally
suggested. “Eberybody know dat snap as good as fire. Leab it to
Massa Jone—leab it to lady.”

“Sartain,” said the wood-chopper; “it’s the law of the game in this
part of the country, Leather-Stocking. If you fire agin you must pay
up the other shilling. I b’lieve I’ll try luck once more myself; so,
Brom, here’s my money, and I take the next fire.”

“It’s likely you know the laws of the woods better than I do, Billy
Kirby,” returned Natty. “You come in with the settlers, with an ox-
goad in your hand, and I come in with moccasins on my feet, and with a
good rifle on my shoulders, so long back as afore the old war. Which
is likely to know the best? I say no man need tell me that snapping is
as good as firing when I pull the trigger.”

“Leab it to Massa Jone,” said the alarmed negro; “he know eberyting.”
This appeal to the knowledge of Richard was too flattering to be
unheeded. He therefore advanced a little from the spot whither the
delicacy of Elizabeth had induced her to withdraw, and gave the
following opinion, with the gravity that the subject and his own rank

“There seems to be a difference in opinion,” he said, “on the subject
of Nathaniel Bumppo’s right to shoot at Abraham Freeborn’s turkey
without the said Nathaniel paying one shilling for the privilege.” The
fact was too evident to be denied, and after pausing a moment, that
the audience might digest his premises, Richard proceeded: “It seems
proper that I should decide this question, as I am bound to preserve
the peace of the county; and men with deadly weapons in their hands
should not be heedlessly left to contention and their own malignant
passions. It appears that there was no agreement, either in writing
or in words, on the disputed point; therefore we must reason from
analogy, which is, as it were, comparing one thing with another. Now,
in duels, where both parties shoot, it is generally the rule that a
snap is a fire; and if such is the rule where the party has a right to
fire back again, it seems to me unreasonable to say that a man may
stand snapping at a defenceless turkey all day. I therefore am of the
opinion that Nathaniel Bumppo has lost his chance, and must pay
another shilling before he renews his right.”

As this opinion came from so high a quarter, and was delivered with
effect, it silenced all murmurs—for the whole of the spectators had
begun to take sides with great warmth—except from the Leather-
Stocking himself.

“I think Miss Elizabeth’s thoughts should be taken,” said Natty.
“I’ve known the squaws give very good counsel when the Indians had
been dumfounded. If she says that I ought to lose, I agree to give it

“Then I adjudge you to be a loser for this time,” said Miss Temple;
“but pay your money and renew your chance; unless Brom will sell me
the bird for a dollar. I will give him the money, and save the life
of the poor victim.”

This proposition was evidently but little relished by any of the
listeners, even the negro feeling the evil excitement of the chances.
In the mean while, as Billy Kirby was preparing himself for another
shot, Natty left the stand, with an extremely dissatisfied manner,

“There hasn’t been such a thing as a good flint sold at the foot of
the lake since the Indian traders used to come into the country; and,
if a body should go into the flats along the streams in the hills to
hunt for such a thing, it’s ten to one but they will be all covered up
with the plough. Heigho! it seems to me that just as the game grows
scarce, and a body wants the best ammunition to get a livelihood,
everything that’s bad falls on him like a judgment. But I’ll change
the stone, for Billy Kirby hasn’t the eye for such a mark, I know.”

The wood-chopper seemed now entirely sensible that his reputation
depended on his care; nor did he neglect any means to insure success.
He drew up his rifle, and renewed his aim again and again, still
appearing reluctant to fire, No sound was heard from even Brom, during
these portentous movements, until Kirby discharged his piece, with the
same want of success as before. Then, indeed, the shouts of the negro
rang through the bushes and sounded among the trees of the neighboring
forest like the outcries of a tribe of Indians. He laughed, rolling
his head first on one side, then on the other, until nature seemed
exhausted with mirth. He danced until his legs were wearied with
motion in the snow; and, in short, he exhibited all that violence of
joy that characterizes the mirth of a thoughtless negro.

The wood-chopper had exerted all his art, and felt a proportionate
degree of disappointment at the failure. He first examined the bird
with the utmost attention, and more than once suggested that he had
touched its feathers; but the voice of the multitude was against him,
for it felt disposed to listen to the often-repeated cries of the
black to “gib a nigger fair play.”

Finding it impossible to make out a title to the bird, Kirby turned
fiercely to the black and said:

“Shut your oven, you crow! Where is the man that can hit a turkey’s
head at a hundred yards? I was a fool for trying. You needn’t make an
uproar like a falling pine-tree about it. Show me the man who can do

“Look this a-way, Billy Kirby,” said Leather-Stocking, and let them
clear the mark, and I’ll show you a man who’s made better shots afore
now, and that when he’s been hard pressed by the savages and wild

“Perhaps there is one whose rights come before ours, Leather-
Stocking,” said Miss Temple. “If so, we will waive our privilege.”

“If it be me that you have reference to,” said the young hunter, “I
shall decline another chance. My shoulder is yet weak, I find.”

Elizabeth regarded his manner, and thought that she could discern a
tinge on his cheek that spoke the shame of conscious poverty. She
said no more, but suffered her own champion to make a trial. Although
Natty Bumppo had certainly made hundreds of more momentous shots at
his enemies or his game, yet he never exerted himself more to excel.
He raised his piece three several times: once to get his range; once
to calculate his distance; and once because the bird, alarmed by the
death-like stillness, turned its head quickly to examine its foes.
But the fourth time he fired. The smoke, the report, and the
momentary shock prevented most of the spectators from instantly
knowing the result; but Elizabeth, when she saw her champion drop the
end of his rifle in the snow and open his mouth in one of its silent
laughs, and then proceed very coolly to recharge his piece, knew that
he had been successful. The boys rushed to the mark, and lifted the
turkey on high, lifeless, and with nothing but the remnant of a head.
“Bring in the creatur’,” said Leather-Stocking, “and put it at the
feet of the lady. I was her deputy in the matter, and the bird is her

“And a good deputy you have proved yourself,” returned Elizabeth—” so
good, Cousin Richard, that I would advise you to remember his
qualities.” She paused, and the gayety that beamed on her face gave
place to a more serious earnestness. She even blushed a little as she
turned to the young hunter, and with the charm of a woman’s manner
added: “But it was only to see an exhibition of the far-famed skill of
Leather-Stocking, that I tried my fortunes. Will you, sir, accept the
bird as a small peace offering for the hurt that prevented your own

The expression with which the youth received this present was
indescribable, He appeared to yield to the blandishment of her air, in
opposition to a strong inward impulse to the contrary. He bowed, and
raised the victim silently from her feet, but continued silent.

Elizabeth handed the black a piece of silver as a remuneration for his
loss, which had some effect in again unbending his muscles, and then
expressed to her companion her readiness to return homeward.

“Wait a minute, Cousin Bess,” cried Richard; “there is an uncertainty
about the rules of this sport that it is proper I should remove. If
you will appoint a committee, gentlemen, to wait on me this morning, I
will draw up in writing a set of regulations—’ He stopped, with some
indignation, for at that instant a hand was laid familiarly on the
shoulder of the High Sheriff of —.

“A merry Christmas to you, Cousin Dickon,” said Judge Temple, who had
approached the party unperceived: “I must have a vigilant eye to my
daughter, sir, if you are to be seized daily with these gallant fits.
I admire the taste which would introduce a lady to such scenes!”

“It is her own perversity, ‘Duke,” cried the disappointed sheriff, who
felt the loss of the first salutation as grievously as many a man
would a much greater misfortune; “and I must say that she comes
honestly by it. I led her out to show her the improvements, but away
she scampered, through the snow, at the first sound of fire-arms, the
same as if she had been brought up in a camp, instead of a first-rate
boarding-school. I do think, Judge Temple, that such dangerous
amusements should be suppressed, by statute; nay, I doubt whether they
are not already indict able at common law.”

“Well, sir, as you are sheriff of the county, it becomes your duty to
examine into the matter,” returned the smiling Marmaduke, “I perceive
that Bess has executed her commission, and I hope it met with a
favorable reception.” Richard glanced his eye at the packet which he
held in his hand, and the slight anger produced by disappointment
vanished instantly.

“Ah! ‘Duke, my dear cousin,” he said, “step a little on one side; I
have something I would say to you.”

Marmaduke complied, and the sheriff led him to a little distance in
the bushes, and continued: “First, ‘Duke, let me thank you for your
friendly interest with the Council and the Governor, without which I
am confident that the greatest merit would avail but little. But we
are sisters’ children—we are sisters’ children, and you may use me
like one of your horses; ride me or drive me, ‘Duke, I am wholly
yours. But in my humble opinion, this young companion of Leather-
Stocking requires looking after. He has a very dangerous propensity
for turkey.”

“Leave him to my management, Dickon,” said the Judge, “and I will cure
his appetite by indulgence. It is with him that I would speak. Let
us rejoin the sportsmen.”


“Poor wretch! the mother that him bare,
If she had been in presence there,
In his wan face, and sunburnt hair,
She had not known her child, ‘—Scott.

It diminished, in no degree, the effect produced by the conversation
which passed between Judge Temple and the I young hunter, that the
former took the arm of his daughter and drew it through his own, when
he advanced from the spot whither Richard had led him to that where
the youth was standing, leaning on his rifle, and contemplating the
dead bird at his feet. The presence of Marmaduke did not interrupt
the sports, which were resumed by loud and clamorous disputes
concerning the conditions of a chance that involved the life of a bird
of much inferior quality to the last. Leather-Stocking and Mohegan
had alone drawn aside to their youthful companion; and, although in
the immediate vicinity of such a throng, the following conversation
was heard only by those who were interested in it.

“I have greatly injured you, Mr. Edwards,” said the Judge; but the
sudden and inexplicable start with which the person spoken to received
this unexpected address, caused him to pause a moment. As no answer
was given, and the strong emotion exhibited in the countenance of the
youth gradually passed away, he continued: “But fortunately it is in
some measure in my power to compensate you for what I have done. My
kinsman, Richard Jones, has received an appointment that will, in
future, deprive me of his assistance, and leave me, just now,
destitute of one who might greatly aid me with his pen. Your manner,
notwithstanding appearances, is a sufficient proof of your education,
nor will thy shoulder suffer thee to labor, for some time to come.”
(Marmaduke insensibly relapsed into the language of the Friends as he
grew warm.) “My doors are open to thee, my young friend, for in this
infant country we harbor no suspicions; little offering to tempt the
cupidity of the evil-disposed. Be come my assistant, for at least a
season, and receive such compensation as thy services will deserve.”

There was nothing in the manner of the offer of the Judge to justify
the reluctance, amounting nearly to loathing, with which the youth
listened to his speech; but, after a powerful effort for self-command,
he replied:

“I would serve you, sir, or any other man, for an honest support, for
I do not affect to conceal that my necessities are very great, even
beyond what appearances would indicate; but I am fearful that such new
duties would interfere too much with more important business; so that
I must decline your offer, and depend on my rifle, as before, for

Richard here took occasion to whisper to the young lady, who had
shrunk a little from the foreground of the picture:

“This, you see, Cousin Bess, is the natural reluctance of a half-breed
to leave the savage state. Their attachment to a wandering life is, I
verily believe, unconquerable.”

“It is a precarious life,” observed Marmaduke, without hearing the
sheriff’s observation, “and one that brings more evils with it than
present suffering. Trust me, young friend, my experience is greater
than thine, when I tell thee that the unsettled life of these hunters
is of vast disadvantage for temporal purposes, and it totally removes
one from the influence of more sacred things.”

“No, no, Judge,” interrupted the Leather-Stocking, who was hitherto
unseen, or disregarded; “take him into your shanty in welcome, but
tell him truth. I have lived in the woods for forty long years, and
have spent five at a time without seeing the light of a clearing
bigger than a window in the trees; and I should like to know where
you’ll find a man, in his sixty-eighth year, who can get an easier
living, for all your betterments and your deer laws; and, as for
honesty, or doing what’s right between man and man, I’ll not turn my
back to the longest-winded deacon on your Patent.”

“Thou art an exception, Leather-Stocking,” returned the Judge, nodding
good-naturedly at the hunter; “for thou hast a temperance unusual in
thy class, and a hardihood exceeding thy years. But this youth is
made of I materials too precious to be wasted in the forest—I entreat
thee to join my family, if it be but till thy arm is healed. My
daughter here, who is mistress of my dwelling, wilt tell thee that
thou art welcome.”

“Certainly,” said Elizabeth, whose earnestness was a little checked by
female reserve. “The unfortunate would be welcome at any time, but
doubly so when we feel that we have occasioned the evil ourselves,”
“Yes,” said Richard, “and if you relish turkey, young man, there are
plenty in the coops, and of the best kind, I can assure you.”

Finding himself thus ably seconded, Marmaduke pushed his advantage to
the utmost. He entered into a detail of the duties that would attend
the situation, and circumstantially mentioned the reward, and all
those points which are deemed of importance among men of business.
The youth listened in extreme agitation. There was an evident contest
in his feelings; at times he appeared to wish eagerly for the change,
and then again the incomprehensible expression of disgust would cross
his features, like a dark cloud obscuring a noonday sun.

The Indian, in whose manner the depression of self-abasement was most
powerfully exhibited, listened to the offers of the Judge with an
interest that increased with each syllable. Gradually he drew nigher
to the group and when, with his keen glance, he detected the most
marked evidence of yielding in the countenance of his young companion,
he changed at once from his attitude and look of shame to the front of
an Indian warrior, and moving, with great dignity, closer to the
parties, he spoke.

“Listen to your father,” he said; “his words are old. Let the Young
Eagle and the Great Land Chief eat together; let them sleep, without
fear, near each other. The children of Miquon love not blood: they
are just, and will do right. The sun must rise and set often, be fore
men can make one family; it is not the work of a day, but of many
winters. The Mingoes and the Delawares are born enemies; their blood
can never mix in the wigwam; it never will run in the same stream in
the battle. What makes the brother of Miquon and the Young Eagle
foes? They are of the same tribe; their fathers and mothers are one.
Learn to wait, my son, you are a Delaware, and an Indian warrior knows
how to be patient.”

This figurative address seemed to have great weight with the young
man, who gradually yielded to the representations of Marmaduke, and
eventually consented to his proposal. It was, however, to be an
experiment only; and, if either of the parties thought fit to rescind
the engagement, it was left at his option so to do. The remarkable
and ill-concealed reluctance of the youth to accept of an offer, which
most men in his situation would consider as an unhoped-for elevation,
occasioned no little surprise in those to whom he was a stranger; and
it left a slight impression to his disadvantage. When the parties
separated, they very naturally made the subject the topic of a
conversation, which we shall relate; first commencing with the Judge,
his daughter, and Richard, who were slowly pursuing the way back to
the mansion-house.

“I have surely endeavored to remember the holy man dates of our
Redeemer, when he bids us ‘love them who despitefully use you,’ in my
intercourse with this incomprehensible boy,” said Marmaduke. “I know
not what there is in my dwelling to frighten a lad of his years,
unless it may he thy presence and visage, Bess,”

“No, no,” said Richard, with great simplicity, “it is not Cousin Bess.
But when did you ever know a half-breed, ‘Duke, who could bear
civilization? For that mat ter, they are worse than the savages
themselves! Did you notice how knock-kneed he stood, Elizabeth, and
what a wild look he had in his eyes?”

“I heeded not his eyes, nor his knees, which would be all the better
for a little humbling. Really, my dear sir, I think you did exercise
the Christian virtue of patience to the utmost. I was disgusted with
his airs, long before he consented to make one of our family. Truly
we are much honored by the association! In what apartment is he to be
placed, sir; and at what table is he to receive his nectar and

“With Benjamin and Remarkable,” interrupted Mr. Jones; “you sorely
would not make the youth eat with the blacks! He is part Indian, it is
true; but the natives hold the negroes in great contempt. No, no; he
would starve before he would break a crust with the negroes.”

“I am but too happy, Dickon, to tempt him to eat with ourselves,” said
Marmaduke, “to think of offering even the indignity you propose.”

“Then, sir,” said Elizabeth, with an air that was slightly affected,
as if submitting to her father’s orders in opposition to her own will,
“it is your pleasure that he be a gentleman.”

“Certainly; he is to fill the station of one. Let him receive the
treatment that is due to his place, until we find him unworthy of it.”

“Well, well, ‘Duke,” cried the sheriff, “ you will find it no easy
matter to make a gentleman of him. The old proverb says that ‘it
takes three generations to make a gentleman.’ There was my father whom
everybody knew my grandfather was an M.D., and his father a D.D.; and
his father came from England, I never could come at the truth of his
origin; but he was either a great mer chant in London, or a great
country lawyer, or the youngest son of a bishop.”

“Here is a true American genealogy for you,” said Marmaduke, laughing.
“It does very well till you get across the water, where, as everything
is obscure, it is certain to deal in the superlative. You are sure
that your English progenitor was great, Dickon, whatever his
profession might have been?”

“To be sure I am,” returned the other. “I have heard my old aunt talk
of him by the month. We are of a good family, Judge Temple, and have
never filled any but honorable stations in life.”

“I marvel that you should be satisfied with so scanty a provision of
gentility in the olden time, Dickon. Most of the American
genealogists commence their traditions like the stories for children,
with three brothers, taking especial care that one of the triumvirate
shall be the pro genitor of any of the same name who may happen to be
better furnished with worldly gear than themselves. But, here, all
are equal who know how to conduct themselves with propriety; and
Oliver Edwards comes into my family on a footing with both the high
sheriff and the judge.”

“Well, ‘Duke, I call this democracy, not republicanism; but I say
nothing; only let him keep within the law, or I shall show him that
the freedom of even this country is under wholesome restraint.”

“Surely, Dickon, you will not execute till I condemn! But what says
Bess to the new inmate? We must pay a deference to the ladies in this
matter, after all.”

“Oh, sir!” returned Elizabeth, “I believe I am much like a certain
Judge Temple in this particular—not easily to be turned from my
opinion. But, to be serious, although I must think the introduction
of a demi-savage into the family a somewhat startling event,
whomsoever you think proper to countenance may be sure of my respect.”

The Judge drew her arm more closely in his own and smiled, while
Richard led the way through the gate of the little court-yard in the
rear of the dwelling, dealing out his ambiguous warnings with his
accustomed loquacity.

On the other hand, the foresters—for the three hunters,
notwithstanding their difference in character, well deserved this
common name—pursued their course along the skirts of the village in
silence. It was not until they had reached the lake, and were moving
over its frozen surface toward the foot of the mountain, where the hut
stood, that the youth exclaimed:

“Who could have foreseen this a month since! I have consented to serve
Marmaduke Temple—to be an inmate in the dwelling of the greatest enemy
of my race; yet what better could I do? The servitude cannot be long;
and, when the motive for submitting to it ceases to exist, I will
shake it off like the dust from my feet.”

“Is he a Mingo, that you will call him enemy?” said Mohegan. “The
Delaware warrior sits still, and waits the time of the Great Spirit.
He is no woman, to cry out like a child.”

“Well, I’m mistrustful, John,” said Leather-Stocking, in whose air
there had been, during the whole business, a strong expression of
doubt and uncertainty. “They say that there’s new laws in the land,
and I’m sartin that there’s new ways in the mountains. One hardly
knows the lakes and streams, they’ve altered the country so much. I
must say I’m mistrustful of such smooth speakers; for I've known the
whites talk fair when they wanted the Indian lands most. This I will
say, though I’m a white myself, and was born nigh York, and of honest
parents, too.”

“I will submit,” said the youth; “I will forget who I am. Cease to
remember, old Mohegan, that I am the descendant of a Delaware chief,
who once was master of these noble hills, these beautiful vales, and
of this water, over which we tread. Yes, yes; I will become his bonds
man—his slave, Is it not an honorable servitude, old man?”

“Old man!” repeated the Indian solemnly, and pausing in his walk, as
usual, when much excited; “yes, John is old. Son of my brother! if
Mohegan was young, when would his rifle be still? Where would the deer
hide, and he not find him? But John is old; his hand is the hand of a
squaw; his tomahawk is a hatchet; brooms and baskets are his enemies—
he strikes no other. Hunger and old age come together. See Hawk-eye!
when young, he would go days and eat nothing; but should he not put
the brush on the fire now, the blaze would go out. Take the son of
Miquon by the hand, and he will help you.”

“I’m not the man I was, I’ll own, Chingachgook,” returned the Leather-
Stocking; “but I can go without a meal now, on occasion. When we
tracked the Iroquois through the ‘Beech-woods,’ they drove the game
afore them, for I hadn’t a morsel to eat from Monday morning come
Wednesday sundown, and then I shot as fat a buck, on the Pennsylvany
line, as ever mortal laid eyes on. It would have done your heart good
to have seen the Delaware eat; for I was out scouting and skrimmaging
with their tribe at the time. Lord! The Indians, lad, lay still, and
just waited till Providence should send them their game, but I foraged
about, and put a deer up, and put him down too, afore he had made a
dozen jumps. I was too weak and too ravenous to stop for his flesh,
so I took a good drink of his blood, and the Indians ate of his meat
raw. John was there, and John knows. But then starvation would be
apt to be too much for me now, I will own, though I’m no great eater
at any time.”

“Enough is said, my friend,” cried the youth. “I feel that everywhere
the sacrifice is required at my hands, and it shall be made; but say
no more, I entreat you; I can not bear this subject now.”

His companions were silent; and they soon reached the hut, which they
entered, after removing certain complicated and ingenious fastenings,
that were put there apparently to guard a property of but very little
value. Immense piles of snow lay against the log walls of this
secluded habitation on one side; while fragments of small trees, and
branches of oak and chestnut, that had been torn from their parent
stems by the winds, were thrown into a pile on the other. A small
column of smoke rose through a chimney of sticks, cemented with clay,
along the side of the rock, and had marked the snow above with its
dark tinges, in a wavy line, from the point of emission to an other,
where the hill receded from the brow of a precipice, and held a soil
that nourished trees of a gigantic growth, that overhung the little
bottom beneath.

The remainder of the day passed off as such days are commonly spent in
a new country. The settlers thronged to the academy again, to witness
the second effort of Mr. Grant; and Mohegan was one of his hearers.
But, not withstanding the divine fixed his eyes intently on the Indian
when he invited his congregation to advance to the table, the shame of
last night’s abasement was yet too keen in the old chief to suffer him
to move.

When the people were dispersing, the clouds that had been gathering
all the morning were dense and dirty, and before half of the curious
congregation had reached their different cabins, that were placed in
every glen and hollow of the mountains, or perched on the summits of
the hills themselves, the rain was falling in torrents. The dark
edges of the stumps began to exhibit themselves, as the snow settled
rapidly; the fences of logs and brush, which before had been only
traced by long lines of white mounds, that ran across the valley and
up the mountains, peeped out from their covering, and the black stubs
were momentarily becoming more distinct, as large masses of snow and
ice fell from their sides, under the influence of the thaw.

Sheltered in the warm hall of her father’s comfortable mansion,
Elizabeth, accompanied by Louisa Grant, looked abroad with admiration
at the ever-varying face of things without. Even the village, which
had just before been glittering with the color of the frozen element,
reluctantly dropped its mask, and the houses exposed their dark roofs
and smoked chimneys. The pines shook off the covering of snow, and
everything seemed to he assuming its proper hues with a transition
that bordered on the supernatural.


“And yet, poor Edwin was no vulgar boy.”—Beattie.

The close of Christmas Day, A.D. 1793, was tempestuous, but
comparatively warm. When darkness had again hid the objects in the
village from the gaze of Elizabeth, she turned from the window, where
she had remained while the least vestige of light lingered over the
tops of the dark pines, with a curiosity that was rather excited than
appeased by the passing glimpses of woodland scenery that she had
caught during the day.

With her arm locked in that of Miss Grant, the young mistress of the
mansion walked slowly up and down the hall, musing on scenes that were
rapidly recurring to her memory, and possibly dwelling, at times, in
the sanctuary of her thoughts, on the strange occurrences that had led
to the introduction to her father’s family of one whose Manners so
singularly contradicted the inferences to be drawn from his situation.
The expiring heat of the apartment—for its great size required a day
to reduce its temperature—had given to her cheeks a bloom that
exceeded their natural color, while the mild and melancholy features
of Louisa were brightened with a faint tinge, that, like the hectic of
disease, gave a painful interest to her beauty.

The eyes of the gentlemen, who were yet seated around the rich wines
of Judge Temple, frequently wandered from the table, that was placed
at one end of the hall, to the forms that were silently moving over
its length. Much mirth, and that, at times, of a boisterous kind,
proceeded from the mouth of Richard; but Major Hartmann was not yet
excited to his pitch of merriment, and Marmaduke respected the
presence of his clerical guest too much to indulge in even the
innocent humor that formed no small ingredient in his character.

Such were, and such continued to be, the pursuits of the party, for
half an hour after the shutters were closed, and candles were placed
in various parts of the hall, as substitutes for departing daylight.
The appearance of Benjamin, staggering under the burden of an armful
of wood, was the first interruption to the scene.

“How now, Master Pump!” roared the newly appointed sheriff; “is there
not warmth enough in ‘Duke’s best Madeira to keep up the animal heat
through this thaw? Remember, old boy, that the Judge is particular
with his beech and maple, beginning to dread already a scarcity of the
precious articles. Ha! ha! ha! ‘Duke, you are a good, warm-hearted
relation, I will own, as in duty bound, but you have some queer
notions about you, after all. ‘Come, let us be jolly, and cast away

The notes gradually sank into a hum, while the major-domo threw down
his load, and, turning to his interrogator with an air of earnestness,

“Why, look you, Squire Dickon, mayhap there’s a warm latitude round
about the table there, thof it’s not the stuff to raise the heat in my
body, neither; the raal Jamaiky being the only thing to do that,
besides good wood, or some such matter as Newcastle coal. But, if I
know anything of the weather, d’ye see, it’s time to be getting all
snog, and for putting the ports in and stirring the fires a bit.
Mayhap I’ve not followed the seas twenty-seven years, and lived
another seven in these here woods, for nothing, gemmen.”

“Why, does it bid fair for a change in the weather, Benjamin?”
inquired the master of the house.

“There’s a shift of wind, your honor,” returned the steward; “and when
there’s a shift of wind, you may look for a change in this here
climate. I was aboard of one of Rodney’s fleet, dye see, about the
time we licked De Grasse, Mounsheer Lor Quaw’s countryman, there; and
the wind was here at the south’ard and east'ard; and I was below,
mixing a toothful of hot stuff for the captain of marines, who dined,
dye see, in the cabin, that there very same day; and I suppose he
wanted to put out the captain’s fire with a gun-room ingyne; and so,
just as I got it to my own liking, after tasting pretty often, for the
soldier was difficult to please, slap came the foresail agin’ the
mast, whiz went the ship round on her heel, like a whirligig. And a
lucky thing was it that our helm was down; for as she gathered
starnway she paid off, which was more than every ship in the fleet
did, or could do. But she strained herself in the trough of the sea,
and she shipped a deal of water over her quarter. I never swallowed
so much clear water at a time in my life as I did then, for I was
looking up the after-hatch at the instant.”

“I wonder, Benjamin, that you did not die with a dropsy!” said

“I mought, Judge,” said the old tar, with a broad grin; “but there was
no need of the medicine chest for a cure; for, as I thought the brew
was spoilt for the marine’s taste, and there was no telling when
another sea might come and spoil it for mine. I finished the mug on
the spot. So then all hands was called to the pumps, and there we
began to ply the pumps—”

“Well, but the weather?” interrupted Marmaduke;

“what of the weather without doors?”

“Why here the wind has been all day at the south, and now there’s a
lull, as if the last blast was out of the bellows; and there’s a
streak along the mountains, to the northard, that, just now, wasn’t
wider than the bigness of your hand; and then the clouds drive afore
it as you’d brail a mainsail, and the stars are heaving in sight, like
so many lights and beacons, put there to warn us to pile on the wood;
and, if so be that I’m a judge of weather, it’s getting to be time to
build on a fire, or you'll have half of them there porter bottles, and
them dimmyjohns of wine, in the locker here, breaking with the frost,
afore the morning watch is called.”

“Thou art a prudent sentinel,” said the Judge. “Act thy pleasure with
the forests, for this night at feast.”

Benjamin did as he was ordered; nor had two hours elapsed, before the
prudence of his precautions became very visible. The south wind had,
indeed, blown itself cut, and it was succeeded by the calmness that
usually gave warning of a serious change in the weather. Long before
the family retired to rest, the cold had become cuttingly severe; and
when Monsieur Le Quoi sallied c forth under a bright moon, to seek his
own abode, he was compelled to beg a blanket, in which he might
envelop c his form, in addition to the numerous garments that his
sagacity had provided for the occasion. The divine and s his daughter
remained as inmates of the mansion-house during the night, and the
excess of last night’s merriment c induced the gentlemen to make an
early retreat to their several apartments, Long before midnight, the
whole s family were invisible.

Elizabeth and her friend had not yet lost their senses in sleep, and
the howlings of the northwest wind were heard around the buildings,
and brought with them that exquisite sense of comfort that is ever
excited under such circumstances, in an apartment where the fire has
not yet ceased to glimmer, and curtains, and shutters, and feathers
unite to preserve the desired temperature. Once, just as her eyes had
opened, apparently in the last stage of drowsiness, the roaring winds
brought with them a long and plaintive howl, that seemed too wild for
a dog, and yet resembled the cries of that faithful animal, when night
awakens his vigilance, and gives sweetness and solemnity to its
charms. The form of Louis Grant instinctively pressed nearer to that
of the young heiress, who, finding her companion was yet awake, said
in a low tone, as if afraid to break a charm with her voice:

“Those distant cries are plaintive, and even beautiful. Can they be
the hounds from the hut of Leather-Stocking?”

“They are wolves, who have ventured from the mountain, on the lake,”
whispered Louisa, “and who are only kept from the village by the
lights. One night, since we have been here, hunger drove them to our
very door. Oh, what a dreadful night it was! But the riches of Judge
Temple have given him too many safeguards, to leave room for fear in
this house.”

“The enterprise of Judge Temple is taming the very forests!” exclaimed
Elizabeth, throwing off the covering, and partly rising in the bed.
“How rapidly is civilization treading on the foot of Nature!” she
continued, as her eye glanced over not only the comforts, hut the
luxuries of her apartment, and her ear again listened to the distant.
but often repeated howls from the lake. Finding, how-ever, that the
timidity of her companion rendered the sounds painful to her,
Elizabeth resumed her place, and soon forgot the changes in the
country, with those in her own condition, in a deep sleep.

The following morning, the noise of the female servant, who entered
the apartment to light the fire, awoke the females. They arose, and
finished the slight preparations I of their toilets in a clear, cold
atmosphere, that penetrated through all the defences of even Miss
Temple’s warm room. When Elizabeth was attired, she approached a
window and drew its curtain, and throwing open its shutters she
endeavored to look abroad on the village and the lake. But a thick
covering of frost on the glass, while it admitted the light, shut out
the view. She raised the sash, and then, indeed, a glorious scene met
her delighted eye.

The lake had exchanged its covering of unspotted snow for a face of
dark ice, that reflected the rays of the rising sun like a polished
mirror. The houses clothed in a dress of the same description, but
which, owing to its position, shone like bright steel; while the
enormous icicles that were pendent from every roof caught the
brilliant light, apparently throwing it from one to the other, as each
glittered, on the side next the luminary, with a golden lustre that
melted away, on its opposite, into the dusky shades of a background.
But it was the appearance of the boundless forests that covered the

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