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

Part 6 out of 10

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place, gave double interest to the beauty and singularity of its
appearance. It did not at all resemble the large and unsteady light
of their own fire, being much more clear and bright, and retaining its
size and shape with perfect uniformity.

There are moments when the best-regulated minds are more or less
subjected to the injurious impressions which few have escaped in
infancy; and Elizabeth smiled at her own weakness, while she
remembered the idle tales which were circulated through the village,
at the expense of the Leather-Stocking. The same ideas seized her
companion, and at the same instant, for Louisa pressed nearer to her
friend, as she said in a low voice, stealing a timid glance toward the
bushes and trees that overhung the bank near them:

“Did you ever hear the singular ways of this Natty spoken of, Miss
Temple? They say that, in his youth, he was an Indian warrior; or,
what is the same thing, a white man leagued with the savages; and it
is thought he has been concerned in many of their inroads, in the old

“The thing is not at all improbable,” returned Elizabeth; “he is not
alone in that particular.”

“No, surely; but is it not strange that he is so cautious with his
hut? He never leaves it, without fastening it in a remarkable manner;
and in several instances, when the children, or even the men of the
village, have wished to seek a shelter there from the storms, he has
been known to drive them from his door with rudeness and threats.
That surely is singular to this country!”

“It is certainly not very hospitable; but we must remember his
aversion to the customs of civilized life. You heard my father say, a
few days since, how kindly he was treated by him on his first visit to
his place.” Elizabeth paused, and smiled, with an expression of
peculiar arch ness, though the darkness hid its meaning from her
companion, as she continued: “Besides, he certainly admits the visits
of Mr. Edwards, whom we both know to be far from a savage.”

To this speech Louisa made no reply, but continued gazing on the
object which had elicited her remarks. In addition to the bright and
circular flame, was now to be seen a fainter, though a vivid light, of
an equal diameter to the other at the upper end, but which, after
extending downward for many feet, gradually tapered to a point at its
lower extremity. A dark space was plainly visible between the two,
and the new illumination was placed beneath the other, the whole
forming an appearance not unlike an inverted note of admiration. It
was soon evident that the latter was nothing but the reflection, from
the water, of the former, and that the object, whatever it might be,
was advancing across, or rather over the lake, for it seemed to be
several feet above its surface, in a direct line with themselves. Its
motion was amazingly rapid, the ladies having hardly discovered that
it was moving at all, before the waving light of a flame was
discerned, losing its regular shape, while it increased in size, as it

“It appears to be supernatural!” whispered Louisa, beginning to
retrace her steps toward the party.

“It is beautiful!” exclaimed Elizabeth,

A brilliant though waving flame was now plainly visible, gracefully
gliding over the lake, and throwing its light on the water in such a
manner as to tinge it slightly though in the air, so strong was the
contrast, the darkness seemed to have the distinctness of material
substances, as if the fire were imbedded in a setting of ebony. This
appearance, however, gradually wore off, and the rays from the torch
struck out, and enlightened the atmosphere in front of it, leaving the
background in a darkness that was more impenetrable than ever.

“Ho! Natty, is that you?” shouted the sheriff. “Paddle in, old boy,
and I’ll give you a mess of fish that is fit to place before the

The light suddenly changed its direction, and a long and slightly
built boat hove up out of the gloom, while the red glare fell on the
weather-beaten features of the Leather-Stocking, whose tall person was
seen erect in the frail vessel, wielding, with the grace of an
experienced boatman, a long fishing-spear, which he held by its
centre, first dropping one end and then the other into the water, to
aid in propelling the little canoe of bark, we will not say through,
but over, the water. At the farther end of the vessel a form was
faintly seen, guiding its motions, and using a paddle with the ease of
one who felt there was no necessity for exertion. The Leather-
Stocking struck his spear lightly against the short staff which up
held, on a rude grating framed of old hoops of iron, the knots of pine
that composed the fuel, and the light, which glared high, for an
instant fell on the swarthy features and dark, glancing eyes of

The boat glided along the shore until it arrived opposite the fishing-
ground, when it again changed its direction and moved on to the land,
with a motion so graceful, and yet so rapid, that it seemed to possess
the power of regulating its own progress. The water in front of the
canoe was hardly ruffled by its passage and no sound betrayed the
collision, when the light fabric shot on the gravelly beach for nearly
half its length, Natty receding a step or two from its bow, in order
to facilitate the landing.

“Approach, Mohegan,” said Marmaduke; “approach, Leather-Stocking, and
load your canoe with bass. It would be a shame to assail the animals
with the spear, when such multitudes of victims lie here, that will be
lost as food for the want of mouths to consume them.”

No, no, Judge,” returned Natty, his tall figure stalking over the
narrow beach, and ascending to the little grassy bottom where the fish
were laid in piles; “I eat of no man’s wasty ways. I strike my spear
into the eels or the trout, when I crave the creatur’; but I wouldn’t
be helping to such a sinful kind of fishing for the best rifle that
was ever brought out from the old countries. If they had fur, like
the beaver, or you could tan their hides, like a buck, something might
be said in favor of taking them by the thousand with your nets; but as
God made them for man’s food, and for no other disarnable reason, I
call it sinful and wasty to catch more than can be eat.”

“Your reasoning is mine; for once, old hunter, we agree in opinion;
and I heartily wish we could make a convert of the sheriff. A net of
half the size of this would supply the whole village with fish for a
week at one haul.”

The Leather-Stocking did not relish this alliance in sentiment; and he
shook his head doubtingly as he answered;

“No, no; we are not much of one mind, Judge, or you’d never turn good
hunting-grounds into stumpy pastures. And you fish and hunt out of
rule; but, to me, the flesh is sweeter where the creatur’ has some
chance for its life; for that reason, I always use a single ball, even
if it be at a bird or a squirrel. Besides, it saves lead; for, when a
body knows how to shoot, one piece of lead is enough for all, except
hard-lived animals.”

The sheriff heard these opinions with great indignation; and when he
completed the last arrangement for the division, by carrying with his
own hands a trout of a large size, and placing it on four different
piles in succession, as his vacillating ideas of justice required,
gave vent to his spleen.

“A very pretty confederacy, indeed! Judge Temple, the landlord and
owner of a township, with Nathaniel Bumppo a lawless squatter, and
professed deer-killer, in order to preserve the game of the county!
But, ‘Duke, when I fish I fish; so, away, boys, for another haul, and
we’ll send out wagons and carts in the morning to bring in our

Marmaduke appeared to understand that all opposition to the will of
the sheriff would he useless, and he strolled from the fire to the
place where the canoe of the hunters lay, whither the ladies and
Oliver Edwards had already preceded him.

Curiosity induced the females to approach this spot; but it was a
different motive that led the youth thither. Elizabeth examined the
light ashen timbers and thin bark covering of the canoe, in admiration
of its neat but simple execution, and with wonder that any human being
could he so daring as to trust his life in so frail a vessel. But the
youth explained to her the buoyant properties of the boat, and its
perfect safety when under proper management; adding, in such glowing
terms, a description of the manner in which the fish were struck with
the spear, that she changed suddenly, from an apprehension of the
danger of the excursion, to a desire to participate in its pleasures.
She even ventured a proposition to that effect to her father, laughing
at the same time at her own wish, and accusing herself of acting under
a woman’s caprice.

“Say not so, Bess,” returned the Judge; “I would have you above the
idle fears of a silly girl. These canoes are the safest kind of boats
to those who have skill and steady nerves. I have crossed the
broadest part of the Oneida in one much smaller than this.”

“And I the Ontary,” interrupted the Leather-Stocking; “ and that with
squaws in the canoe, too. But the Delaware women are used to the
paddle, and are good hands in a boat of this natur’, If the young lady
would like to see an old man strike a trout for his breakfast, she is
welcome to a seat. John will say the same, seeing that he built the
canoe, which was only launched yesterday; for I’m not over-curious at
such small work as brooms, and basket-making, and other like Indian

Natty gave Elizabeth one of his significant laughs, with a kind nod of
the head, when he concluded his invitation but Mohegan, with the
native grace of an Indian, approached, and taking her soft white hand
into his own swarthy and wrinkled palm, said:

“Come, granddaughter of Miquon, and John will be glad. Trust the
Indian; his head is old, though his hand is not steady. The Young
Eagle will go, and see that no harm hurts his sister.”

“Mr. Edwards,” said Elizabeth, blushing slightly, “your friend Mohegan
has given a promise for you. Do you redeem the pledge?”

“With my life, if necessary, Miss Temple,” cried the youth, with
fervor. “ The sight is worth some little apprehension; for of real
danger there is none, I will go with you and Miss Grand, however, to
save appearances.”

“With me!” exclaimed Louisa. “No, not with me, Mr. Edwards; nor,
surely, do you mean to trust yourself in that slight canoe.”

“But I shall; for I have no apprehensions any longer,” said Elizabeth,
stepping into the boat, and taking a seat where the Indian directed.
“Mr. Edwards, you may remain, as three do seem to be enough for such
an egg shell.” “

“It shall hold a fourth,” cried the young man, springing to her side,
with a violence that nearly shook the weak fabric of the vessel
asunder. “Pardon me, Miss Temple, that I do not permit these
venerable Charons to take you to the shades unattended by your

“Is it a good or evil spirit?” asked Elizabeth.
“Good to you.”

“And mine,” added the maiden, with an air that strangely blended pique
with satisfaction. But the motion of the canoe gave rise to new
ideas, and fortunately afforded a good excuse to the young man to
change the discourse.

It appeared to Elizabeth that they glided over the water by magic, so
easy and graceful was the manner in which Mohegan guided his little
bark. A slight gesture with his spear indicated the way in which
Leather-Stocking wished to go, and a profound silence was preserved by
the whole party, as the precaution necessary to the success of their
fishery. At that point of the lake the water shoaled regularly.
differing in this particular altogether from those parts where the
mountains rose nearly in perpendicular precipices from the beach.
There the largest vessels could have lain, with their yards
interlocked with the pines; while here a scanty growth of rushes
lifted their tops above the lake, gently curling the waters, as their
bending heads waved with the passing breath of the night air. It was
at the shallow points only that the bass could he found, or the net
cast with success.

Elizabeth saw thousands of these fish swimming in shoals along the
shallow and warm waters of the shore; for the flaring light of their
torch laid bare the mysteries of the lake, as plainly as if the limpid
sheet of the Otsego was but another atmosphere. Every instant she
expected to see the impending spear of Leather-Stocking darting into
the thronging hosts that were rushing beneath her, where it would seem
that a blow could not go amiss; and where, as her father had already
said, the prize that would be obtained was worthy any epicure. But
Natty had his peculiar habits, and, it would seem, his peculiar tastes

His tall stature, and his erect posture, enabled him to see much
farther than those who were seated in the bottom of the canoe; and he
turned his head warily in every direction, frequently bending his body
forward, and straining his vision, as if desirous of penetrating the
water that surrounded their boundary of light. At length his anxious
scrutiny was rewarded with success, and, waving his spear from the
shore, he said in a cautious tone:

“Send her outside the bass, John; I see a laker there, that has run
out of the school. It’s seldom one finds such a creatur’ in shallow
water, where a spear can touch it.”

Mohegan gave a wave of assent with his hand, and in the next instant
the canoe was without the “ run of the bass,” and in water nearly
twenty feet in depth. A few additional knots were laid on the
grating, and the light penetrated to the bottom, Elizabeth then saw a
fish of unusual size floating above small pieces of logs and sticks.
The animal was only distinguishable, at that distance, by a slight but
almost imperceptible motion of its fins and tail. The curiosity
excited by this unusual exposure of the secrets of the lake seemed to
be mutual between the heiress of the land and the lord of these
waters, for the “ “salmon-trout” soon announced his interest by
raising his head and body for a few degrees above a horizontal line,
and then dropping them again into a horizontal position.

“Whist! whist!” said Natty, in a low voice, on hearing a slight sound
made by Elizabeth in bending over the side of the canoe in curiosity;
“‘tis a skeary animal, and it’s a far stroke for a spear. My handle
is hut fourteen foot, and the creator’ lies a good eighteen from the
top of the water: but I’ll try him, for he's a ten—pounder.”

While speaking, the Leather-Stocking was poising and directing his
weapon. Elizabeth saw the bright, polished tines, as they slowly and
silently entered the water, where the refraction pointed them many
degrees from the true direction of the fish; and she thought that the
intended victim saw them also, as he seemed to increase the play of
his tail and fins, though without moving his station. At the next
instant the tall body of Natty bent to the water’s edge, and the
handle of his spear disappeared in the lake. The long, dark streak of
the gliding weapon, and the little bubbling vortex which followed its
rapid flight, were easily to be seen: but it was not until the handle
snot again into the air by its own reaction, and its master catching
it in his hand, threw its tines uppermost, that Elizabeth was
acquainted with the success of the blow. A fish of great size was
transfixed by the barbed steel, and was very soon shaken from its
impaled situation into the bottom of the canoe.

That will do, John,” said Natty, raising his prize by one of his
fingers, and exhibiting it before the torch; “ I shall not strike
another blow to-night.”

The Indian again waved his hand, and replied with the simple and
energetic monosyllable of:


Elizabeth was awakened from the trance created by this scene, and by
gazing in that unusual manner at the bot tom of the lake, be the
hoarse sounds of Benjamin’s voice, and the dashing of oars, as the
heavier boat of the seine-drawers approached the spot where the canoe
lay, dragging after it the folds of the net.

“Haul off, haul off, Master Bumppo,” cried Benjamin, “your top-light
frightens the fish, who see the net and sheer off soundings. A fish
knows as much as a horse, or, for that matter, more, seeing that it’s
brought up on the water. Haul oil, Master Bumppo, haul off, I say,
and give a wide berth to the seine.”

Mohegan guided their little canoe to a point where the movements of
the fishermen could be observed, without interruption to the business,
and then suffered it to lie quietly on the water, looking like an
imaginary vessel floating in air. There appeared to be much ill-humor
among the party in the batteau, for the directions of Benjamin were
not only frequent, but issued in a voice that partook largely of

“Pull larboard oar, will ye, Master Kirby?” cried the old seaman;
“pull larboard best. It would puzzle the oldest admiral in their
British fleet to cast this here net fair, with a wake like a
corkscrew. Full starboard, boy, pull starboard oar, with a will.”

“Harkee, Mister Pump,” said Kirby, ceasing to row, and speaking with
sonic spirit; “I'm a man that likes civil language and decent
treatment, such as is right ‘twixt man and man. If you want us to go
hoy, say so, and hoy I'll go, for the benefit of the company; but I m
not used to being ordered about like dumb cattle.”

“Who’s dumb cattle?”” echoed Benjamin, fiercely, turning his
forbidding face to the glare of light from the canoe, and exhibiting
every feature teeming with the expression of disgust. “If you want to
come aft and cun the boat round, come and be damned, and pretty
steerage you’ll make of it. There’s but another heave of the net in
the stern-sheets, and we’re clear of the thing. Give way, will ye?
and shoot her ahead for a fathom or two, and if you catch me afloat
again with such a horse-marine as your self, why, rate me a ship's
jackass, that’s all.”

Probably encouraged by the prospect of a speedy termination to his
labor, the wood-chopper resumed his oar, and, under strong excitement,
gave a stroke that not only cleared the boat of the net but of the
steward at the same instant. Benjamin had stood on the little
platform that held the seine, in the stern of the boat, and the
violent whirl occasioned by the vigor of the wood-chopper’s arm
completely destroyed his balance. The position of the lights rendered
objects in the batteau distinguishable, both from the canoe and the
shore; and the heavy fall on the water drew all eyes to the steward,
as he lay struggling, for a moment, in sight.

A loud burst of merriment, to which the lungs of Kirby contributed no
small part, broke out like a chorus of laughter, and ran along the
eastern mountain, in echoes, until it died away in distant, mocking
mirth, among the rocks and woods. The body of the steward was seen
slowly to disappear, as was expected; but when the light waves, which
had been raised by his fall, began to sink in calmness, and the water
finally closed over his head, unbroken and still, a very different
feeling pervaded the spectators.

“How fare you, Benjamin?” shouted Richard from the shore.

“The dumb devil can’t swim a stroke!” exclaimed Kirby, rising, and
beginning to throw aside his clothes.

“Paddle up, Mohegan,” cried young Edwards, “the light will show us
where he lies, and I will dive for the body.”

“Oh! save him! for God’s sake, save him!” exclaimed Elizabeth, bowing
her head on the side of the canoe in horror.

A powerful and dexterous sweep of Mohegan's paddle sent the canoe
directly over the spot where the steward had fallen, and a loud shout
from the Leather-Stocking announced that he saw the body.

“Steady the boat while I dive,” again cried Edwards.

“Gently, lad, gently,” said Natty; “ I’ll spear the creatur’ up in
half the time, and no risk to anybody.”

The form of Benjamin was lying about half-way to the bottom, grasping
with both hands some broken rushes. The blood of Elizabeth curdled to
her heart, as she saw the figure of a fellow-creature thus extended
under an immense sheet of water, apparently in motion by the
undulations of the dying waves, with its face and hands, viewed by
that light, and through the medium of the fluid, already colored with
hues like death.

At the same instant, she saw the shining tines of Natty’s spear
approaching the head of the sufferer, and entwinning themselves,
rapidly and dexterously, in the hairs of his cue and the cape of his
coat. The body was now raised slowly, looking ghastly and grim as its
features turned upward to the light and approached the surface. The
arrival of the nostrils of Benjamin into their own atmosphere was
announced by a breathing that would have done credit to a porpoise.
For a moment, Natty held the steward suspended, with his head just
above the water, while his eyes slowly opened and stared about him, as
if he thought that he had reached a new and unexplored country.

As all the parties acted and spoke together, much less time was
consumed in the occurrence of these events than in their narration.
To bring the batteau to the end of the spear, and to raise the form of
Benjamin into the boat, and for the whole party to regain the shore,
required but a minute. Kirby, aided by Richard, whose anxiety induced
him to run into the water to meet his favorite assistant, carried the
motionless steward up the bank, and seated him before the fire, while
the sheriff proceeded to order the most approved measures then in use
for the resuscitation of the drowned.

“Run, Billy,” he cried, “to the village, and bring up the rum-hogshead
that lies before the door, in which I am making vinegar, and be quick,
boy, don’t stay to empty the vinegar, and stop at Mr. Le Quoi’s, and
buy a paper of tobacco and half a dozen pipes; and ask Remarkable for
some salt, and one of her flannel petticoats; and ask Dr. Todd to send
his lancet, and to come himself; and— ha! ‘Duke, what are you about?
would you strangle a man who is full of water, by giving him rum? Help
me to open his hand, that I may pat it.”

All this time Benjamin sat, with his muscles fixed, his mouth shut,
and his hands clinching the rushes which he had seized in the
confusion of the moment and which, as he held fast, like a true
seaman, had been the means of preventing his body from rising again to
the surface. His eyes, however, were open, and stared wildly on the
group about the fire, while his lungs were playing like a blacksmith’s
bellows, as if to compensate themselves for the minute of inaction to
which they had been subjected. As he kept his lips compressed, with a
most inveterate determination, the air was compelled to pass through
his nostrils, and he rather snorted than breathed, and in such a
manner that nothing but the excessive agitation of the sheriff could
at all justify his precipitous orders.

The bottle, applied to the steward’s lips by Marmaduke, acted like a
charm. His mouth opened instinctively; his hands dropped the rushes,
and seized the glass; his eyes raised from their horizontal stare to
the heavens; and the whole man was lost, for a moment, in a new
sensation. Unhappily for the propensity of the steward, breath was as
necessary after one of these draughts as after his submersion, and the
time at length arrived when he was compelled to let go the bottle.

“Why, Benjamin!” roared the sheriff; “you amaze me! for a man of your
experience in drownings to act so foolishly! Just now, you were half
full of water, and now you are—”

“Full of grog,” interrupted the steward, his features settling down,
with amazing flexibility, into their natural economy. “But, d’yesee,
squire, I kept my hatches chose, and it’s but little water that ever
gets into my scuttle-butt. Harkee, Master Kirby! I’ve followed the
salt-water for the better part of a man’s life, and have seen some
navigation on the fresh; but this here matter I will say in your
favor, and that is, that you’re the awk’ardest green 'un that ever
straddled a boat’s thwart. Them that likes you for a shipmate, may
sail with you and no thanks; but dam'me if I even walk on the lake
shore in your company. For why? you’d as lief drown a man as one of
them there fish; not to throw a Christian creature so much as a rope’s
end when he was adrift, and no life-buoy in sight! Natty Bumppo, give
us your fist. There’s them that says you’re an Indian, and a scalper,
but you’ve served me a good turn, and you may set me down for a
friend; thof it would have been more ship shape like to lower the
bight of a rope or running bowline below me, than to seize an old
seaman by his head-lanyard; but I suppose you are used to taking men
by the hair, and seeing you did me good instead of harm thereby, why,
it’s the same thing, d'ye see?”

Marmaduke prevented any reply, and assuming the action of matters with
a dignity and discretion that at once silenced all opposition from his
cousin, Benjamin was dispatched to the village by land, and the net
was hauled to shore in such a manner that the fish for once escaped
its meshes with impunity.

The division of the spoils was made in the ordinary manner, by placing
one of the party with his hack to the game, who named the owner of
each pile. Bill Kirby stretched his large frame on the grass by the
side of the fire, as sentinel until morning, over net and fish ; and
the remainder of the party embarked in the batteau, to return to the

The wood-chopper was seen broiling his supper on the coals as they
lost sight of the fire, and when the boat approached the shore, the
torch of Mohegan’s canoe was shining again under the gloom of the
eastern mountain. Its motion ceased suddenly; a scattering of brands
was in the air, and then all remained dark as the conjunction of
night, forest, and mountain could render the scene.

The thoughts of Elizabeth wandered from the youth, who was holding a
canopy of shawls over herself and Louisa, to the hunter and the Indian
warrior; and she felt an awakening curiosity to visit a hut where men
of such different habits and temperament were drawn together as by
common impulse.


“Cease all this parlance about hills and dales.
None listen to thy scenes of boyish frolic.
Fond dotard! with such tickled ears as thou dost
Come to thy tale.”—Duo.

Mr. Jones arose on the following morning with the sun, and, ordering
his own and Marmaduke’s steeds to be saddled, he proceeded, with a
countenance big with some business of unusual moment to the apartment
of the Judge. The door was unfastened, and Richard entered, with the
freedom that characterized not only the intercourse between the
cousins, but the ordinary manners of the sheriff.

“Well, ‘Duke, to horse,” he cried, “and I will explain to you my
meaning in the allusions I made last night. David says, in the
Psalms—no, it was Solomon, but it was all in the family—Solomon said
there was a time for all things; and, in my humble opinion, a fishing-
party is not the moment for discussing important subjects. Ha! why,
what the devil ails you, Marmaduke? Ain't you well? Let me feel your
pulse; my grandfather, you know—”

“Quite well in the body, Richard,” interrupted the Judge, repulsing
his cousin, who was about to assume the functions that rightly
belonged to Dr. Todd; “ but ill at heart. I received letters by the
post last night, after we returned from the point, and this among the

The sheriff took the letter, but without turning his eyes on the
writing, for he was examining the appearance of the other with
astonishment. From the face of his cousin the gaze of Richard
wandered to the table, which was covered with letters, packets, and
newspapers; then to the apartment and all it contained. On the bed
there was the impression that had been made by a human form, but the
coverings were unmoved, and everything indicated that the occupant of
the room had passed a sleepless night. The candles had burned to the
sockets, and had evidently extinguished themselves in their own
fragments Marmaduke had drawn his curtains, and opened both the
shutters and the sashes, to admit the balmy air “ of a spring
morning; but his pale cheek, his quivering lip, and his sunken eye
presented altogether so very different an appearance from the usual
calm, manly, and cheerful aspect of the Judge, that the sheriff grew
each moment more and more bewildered with astonishment. At length
Richard found time to cast his eyes on the direction of the letter,
which he still held unopened, crumpling it in his hand.

“What! a ship-letter!” he exclaimed; “and from England, ha! ‘Duke,
there must be news of importance! indeed!”

“Read it,” said Marmaduke, pacing the floor in excessive agitation.

Richard, who commonly thought aloud, was unable to read a letter
without suffering part of its contents to escape him in audible
sounds. So much of the epistle as was divulged in that manner, we
shall lay before the reader, accompanied by the passing remarks of the

“‘London, February 12, 1793.’ What a devil of a pas sage she had! but
the wind has been northwest for six weeks, until within the last
fortnight. Sir, your favors of August 10th, September 23d, and of
December 1st, were received in due season, and the first answered by
return of packet. Since the receipt of the last, I’ “—here a long
passage was rendered indistinct by a kind of humming noise by the
sheriff—” ‘I grieve to say that ‘—hum, hum, bad enough to be sure—’
but trusts that a merciful Providence has seen fit’—hum, hum, hum
seems to be a good, pious sort of a man, ‘Duke; belongs to the
Established Church, I dare say; hum, hum—’ vessel sailed from Falmouth
on or about the 1st September of last year, and’—hum, hum, hum, ‘If
anything should transpire on this afflicting subject shall not fail’—
hum, hum; really a good-hearted man, for a lawyer—’but Can communicate
nothing further at present’—hum, hum. “ The national convention ‘—
hum, hum—’ unfortunate Louis’—hum, hum—’example of your Washington’—a
very sensible man, I declare, and none of your crazy democrats. Hum,
hum—’our gallant navy’—hum, hum—’under our most excellent monarch’—ay,
a good man enough, that King George, but bad advisers: hum, hum—’I beg
to conclude with assurances of my perfect respect.’—hum, hum—’Andrew
Holt. ‘—Andrew Holt, a very sensible, feeling man, this Mr. Andrew
Holt—but the writer of evil tidings. What will you do next, Cousin

“What can I do, Richard, but trust to time, and the will of Heaven?
Here is another letter from Connecticut, but it only repeats the
substance of the last. There is but one consoling reflection to be
gathered from the English news, which is, that my last letter was
received by him before the ship sailed,”

“This is bad enough, indeed! ‘Duke, bad enough, indeed! and away go
all my plans, of putting wings to the house, to the devil. I had made
arrangements for a ride to introduce you to something of a very
important nature. You know how much you think of mines—”

“Talk not of mines,” interrupted the Judge: “there is a sacred duty to
be performed, and that without delay, I must devote this day to
writing; and thou must be my assistant, Richard; it will not do to
employ Oliver in a matter of such secrecy and interest,”

“No, no, ‘Duke,” cried the sheriff, squeezing his hand, “ I am your
man, just now; we are sister’s children, and blood, after all, is the
best cement to make friendship stick together. Well, well, there is
no hurry about the silver mine, just now; another time will do as
well. We shall want Dirky Van, I suppose?”

Marmaduke assented to this indirect question, and the sheriff
relinquished all his intentions on the subject of the ride, and,
repairing to the breakfast parlor, he dispatched a messenger to
require the immediate presence of Dirck Van der School.

The village of Templeton at that time supported but two lawyers, one
of whom was introduced to our readers in the bar-room of the “Bold
Dragoon.” and the other was the gentleman of whom Richard spoke by the
friendly yet familiar appellation of Dirck, or Dirky Van. Great good-
nature, a very tolerable share of skill in his profession, and,
considering the circumstances, no contemptible degree of honesty, were
the principal ingredients in the character of this man, who was known
to the settlers as Squire Van der School, and sometimes by the
flattering though anomalous title of the “Dutch” or “honest lawyer.”

We would not wish to mislead our readers in their conceptions of any
of our characters, and we therefore feel it necessary to add that the
adjective, in the preceding agnomen of Mr. Van der School, was used in
direct reference to its substantive. Our orthodox friends need not be
told that all the merit in this world is comparative; and, once for
all, we desire to say that, where anything which involves qualities or
characters is asserted, we must be understood to mean, “under the

During the remainder of the day, the Judge was closeted with his
cousin and his lawyer; and no one else was admitted to his apartment,
excepting his daughter. The deep distress that so evidently affected
Marmaduke was in some measure communicated to Elizabeth also; for a
look of dejection shaded her intelligent features, and the buoyancy of
her animated spirits was sensibly softened. Once on that day, young
Edwards, who was a wondering and observant spectator of the sudden
alteration produced in the heads of the family, detected a tear
stealing over the cheek of Elizabeth, and suffusing her bright eyes
with a softness that did not always belong to their expression.

“Have any evil tidings been received, Miss Temple?” he inquired, with
an interest and voice that caused Louisa Grant to raise her head from
her needlework, with a quick ness at which she instantly blushed
herself. “I would offer my services to your father, if, as I suspect,
he needs an agent in some distant place, and I thought it would give
you relief.”

“We have certainly heard bad news,” returned Elizabeth, “ and it may
be necessary that my father should leave home for a short period;
unless I can persuade him to trust my cousin Richard with the
business, whose absence from the country, just at this time, too,
might be inexpedient.”

The youth paused a moment, and the blood gathered slowly to his
temples as he continued:

“If it be of a nature that I could execute-”

“It is such as can only be confided to one we know— one of ourselves,”

“Surely, you know me, Miss Temple!” he added, with a warmth that he
seldom exhibited, but which did some times escape him in the moments
of their frank communications. “Have I lived five months under your
roof to be a stranger?”

Elizabeth was engaged with her needle also, and she bent her head to
one side, affecting to arrange her muslin; but her hand shook, her
color heightened, and her eyes lost their moisture in an expression of
ungovernable interest, as she said:

“How much do we know of you, Mr. Edwards?”

“How much!” echoed the youth, gazing from the speaker to the mild
countenance of Louisa, that was also illuminated with curiosity; “ how
much Have I been so long an inmate with you and not known?”

The head of Elizabeth turned slowly from its affected position, and
the look of confusion that had blended so strongly with an expression
of interest changed to a smile.

“We know you, sir, indeed; you are called Mr. Oliver Edwards. I
understand that you have informed my friend Miss Grant that you are a

“Elizabeth!” exclaimed Louisa, blushing to thc eyes, and trembling
like an aspen ; “ you misunderstood me, dear Miss Temple; I—I—it was
only a conjecture. Besides, if Mr. Edwards is related to the natives
why should we reproach him? In what are we better? at least I, who am
the child of a poor and unsettled clergyman?”

Elizabeth shook her head doubtingly, and even laughed, but made no
reply, until, observing the melancholy which pervaded the countenance
of her companion, who was thinking of the poverty and labors of her
father, she continued:

“Nay, Louisa, humility carries you too far. The daughter of a
minister of the church can have no superiors. Neither I nor Mr.
Edwards is quite your equal, unless,” she added, again smiling, “he is
in secret a king “

“A faithful servant of the King of kings, Miss Temple, is inferior to
none on earth,” said Louisa; “but his honors are his own; I am only
the child of a poor and friendless man, and can claim no other
distinction. Why, then, should I feel myself elevated above Mr.
Edwards, because—because—perhaps he is only very, very distantly
related to John Mohegan?”

Glances of a very comprehensive meaning were exchanged between the
heiress and the young man, as Louisa betrayed, while vindicating his
lineage, the reluctance with which she admitted his alliance with the
old warrior; but not even a smile at the simplicity of their companion
was indulged in by either.

“On reflection, I must acknowledge that my situation here is somewhat
equivocal,” said Edwards, “though I may be said to have purchased it
with my blood.”

“The blood, too, of one of the native lords of the soil!” cried
Elizabeth, who evidently put little faith in his aboriginal descent.

“Do I bear the marks of my lineage so very plainly impressed on my
appearance? I am dark, but not very red—not more so than common?”

“Rather more so, just now.”

“I am sure, Miss Temple,” cried Louisa, “you cannot have taken much
notice of Mr. Edwards. His eyes are not so black as Mohegan’s or even
your own, nor is his hair.”

“Very possibly, then, I can lay claim to the same de scent It would be
a great relief to my mind to think so, for I own that I grieve when I
see old Mohegan walking about these lands like the ghost of one of
their ancient possessors, and feel how small is my own right to
possess them.”

“Do you?” cried the youth, with a vehemence that startled the ladies

“I do, indeed,” returned Elizabeth, after suffering a moment to pass
in surprise; “but what can I do—what can my father do? Should we offer
the old man a home’ and a maintenance, his habits would compel him to
refuse us. Neither were we so silly as to wish such a thing, could we
convert these clearings and farms again into hunting grounds, as the
Leather-Stocking would wish to see them.”

“You speak the truth, Miss Temple,” said Edwards. “What can you do
indeed? But there is one thing that I am certain you can and will do,
when you become the mistress of these beautiful valleys—use your
wealth with indulgence to the poor, and charity to the needy; indeed,
you can do no more.”

“And That will be doing a good deal,” said Louisa, smiling in her
turn. “But there will, doubtless, be one to take the direction of
such things from her hands.”

am not about to disclaim matrimony, like a silly girl, who dreams of
nothing else from morn till night; but I am a nun here, without the
vow of celibacy. Where shall I find a husband in these forests?”

“There is none, Miss Temple,” said Edwards quickly; “there is none who
has a right to aspire to you, and I know that you will wait to be
sought by your equal; or die, as you live, loved, respected, and
admired by all who know you.”

The young man seemed to think that he had said all that was required
by gallantry, for he arose, and, taking his hat, hurried from the
apartment. Perhaps Louisa thought that he had said more than was
necessary, for she sighed, with an aspiration so low that it was
scarcely audible to herself, and bent her head over her work again.
And it is possible that Miss Temple wished to hear more, for her eyes
continued fixed for a minute on the door through which the young man
had passed, then glanced quickly toward her companion, when the long
silence that succeeded manifested how much zest may be given to the
conversation of two maidens under eighteen, by the presence of a youth
of three-and-twenty.

The first person encountered by Mr. Edwards, as he rather rushed than
walked from the house, was the little square-built lawyer, with a
large bundle of papers under his arm, a pair of green spectacles on
his nose, with glasses at the sides, as if to multiply his power of
detecting frauds by additional organs of vision.

Mr. Van der School was a well-educated man, but of slow comprehension,
who had imbibed a wariness in his speeches and actions, from having
suffered by his collisions with his more mercurial and apt brethren
who had laid the foundations of their practice in the Eastern courts,
and who had sucked in shrewdness with their mother’s milk. The
caution of this gentleman was exhibited in his actions, by the utmost
method and punctuality, tinctured with a good deal of timidity; and in
his speeches, by a parenthetical style, that frequently left to his
auditors a long search after his meaning.

“A good-morning to you, Mr. Van der School,” said Edwards; “it seems
to be a busy day with us at the mansion-house.”

“Good-morning, Mr. Edwards (if that is your name [for, being a
stranger, we have no other evidence of the fact than your own
testimony], as I understand you have given it to Judge Temple), good-
morning, sir. It is, apparently a busy day (but a man of your
discretion need not be told [having, doubtless, discovered it of your
own accord], that appearances are often deceitful) up at the mansion-

“Have you papers of consequence that will require copying? Can I be of
assistance in any way?”

“There are papers (as doubtless you see [for your eyes are young] by
the outsides) that require copying.”

“Well, then, I will accompany you to your office, and receive such as
are most needed, and by night I shall have them done if there be much

“I shall always be glad to see you, sir, at my office (as in duty
bound [not that it is obligatory to receive any man within your
dwelling (unless so inclined), which is a castle], according to the
forms of politeness), or at any other place; but the papers are most
strictly confidential (and, as such, cannot be read by any one),
unless so directed (by Judge Temple’s solemn injunctions), and are
invisible to all eyes; excepting those whose duties (I mean assumed
duties) require it of them.”

“Well, sir, as I perceive that I can be of no service, I wish you
another good-morning; but beg you will remember that I am quite idle
just now, and I wish you would intimate as much to Judge Temple, and
make him a ten der of my services in any part of the world, unless—
unless—it be far from Templeton.”

“I will make the communication, sir, in your name (with your own
qualifications), as your agent. Good morning, sir. But stay
proceedings, Mr. Edwards (so called), for a moment. Do you wish me to
state the offer of travelling as a final contract (for which
consideration has been received at former dates [by sums advanced],
which would be binding), or as a tender of services for which
compensation is to be paid (according to future agreement between the
parties), on performance of the conditions?”

“Any way, any way,” said Edwards; “he seems in distress, and I would
assist him.”

“The motive is good, sir (according to appearances which are often
deceitful] on first impressions), and does you honor. I will mention
your wish, young gentleman (as you now seem), and will not fail to
communicate the answer by five o’clock P.M. of this present day (God
willing), if you give me an opportunity so to do.”

The ambiguous nature of the situation and character of Mr. Edwards had
rendered him an object of peculiar suspicion to the lawyer, and the
youth was consequently too much accustomed to similar equivocal and
guarded speeches to feel any unusual disgust at the present dialogue.
He saw at once that it was the intention of the practitioner to
conceal the nature of his business, even from the private secretary of
Judge Temple; and he knew too well the difficulty of comprehending the
meaning of Mr. Van der School, when the gentleman most wished to be
luminous in his discourse, not to abandon all thoughts of a discovery,
when he perceived that the attorney was endeavoring to avoid anything
like an approach to a cross-examination. They parted at the gate, the
lawyer walking with an important and hurried air toward his office,
keeping his right hand firmly clinched on the bundle of papers.

It must have been obvious to all our readers, that the youth
entertained an unusual and deeply seated prejudice against the
character of the Judge; but owing to some counteracting cause, his
sensations were now those of powerful interest in the state of his
patron’s present feelings, and in the cause of his secret uneasiness.
He remained gazing after the lawyer until the door closed on both the
bearer and the mysterious packet, when he returned slowly to the
dwelling, and endeavored to forget his curiosity in the usual
avocations of his office.

When the Judge made his reappearance in the circles of his family, his
cheerfulness was tempered by a shade of melancholy that lingered for
many days around his manly brow; but the magical progression of the
season aroused him from his temporary apathy, and his smiles returned
with the summer.

The heats of the days, and the frequent occurrence of balmy showers,
had completed in an incredibly short period the growth of plants which
the lingering spring had so long retarded in the germ; and the woods
presented every shade of green that the American forests know. The
stumps in the cleared fields were already hidden beneath the wheat
that was waving with every breath of the sum mer air, shining and
changing its hues like velvet.

During the continuance of his cousin’s dejection, Mr. Jones forebore,
with much consideration, to press on his attention a business that
each hour was drawing nearer to the heart of the sheriff, and which,
if any opinion could he formed by his frequent private conferences
with the man who was introduced in these pages by the name of Jotham,
at the bar-room of the Bold Dragoon, was becoming also of great

At length the sheriff ventured to allude again to the subject; and one
evening, in the beginning of July, Marmaduke made him a promise of
devoting the following day to the desired excursion.


“Speak on, my dearest father!
Thy words are like the breezes of the west.”—Milman.

It was a mild and soft morning, when Marmaduke and Richard mounted
their horses and proceeded on the expedition that had so long been
uppermost in the thoughts of the latter; and Elizabeth and Louisa
appeared at the same instant in the hall, attired for an excursion on

The head of Miss Grant was covered by a neat little hat of green silk,
and her modest eyes peered from under its shade, with the soft languor
that characterized her whole appearance; but Miss Temple trod her
father’s wide apartments with the step of their mistress, holding in
her hands, dangling by one of its ribbons, the gypsy that was to
conceal the glossy locks that curled around her polished fore head in
rich profusion.

“What? are you for a walk, Bess?” cried the Judge, suspending his
movements for a moment to smile, with a father’s fondness, at the
display of womanly grace and beauty that his child presented.
“Remember the heats of July, my daughter; nor venture further than
thou canst retrace before the meridian. Where is thy parasol, girl?
thou wilt lose tine polish of that brow, under this sun and southern
breeze, unless thou guard it with unusual care.”

“I shall then do more honor to my connections,” returned the smiling
daughter. “Cousin Richard has a bloom that any lady might envy. At
present the resemblance between us is so trifling that no stranger
would know us to be ‘sisters’ children. ‘ “

“Grandchildren, you mean, Cousin Bess,” said the sheriff. “But on,
Judge Temple; time and tide wait for no man; and if you take my
counsel, sir, in twelve months from this day you may make an umbrella
for your daughter of her camel’s-hair shawl, and have its frame of
solid silver. I ask nothing for myself, ‘Duke; you have been a good
friend to me already; besides, all that I have will go to Bess there,
one of these melancholy days, so it’s as long as it’s short, whether I
or you leave it. But we have a day’s ride before us, sir; so move
forward, or dismount, and say you won’t go at once.”

“Patience, patience, Dickon, “returned the Judge, checking his horse
and turning again to his daughter. “If thou art for the mountains,
love, stray not too deep into the forest. I entreat thee; for, though
it is done often with impunity, there is sometimes danger.”

“Not at this season, I believe, sir,” said Elizabeth; “for, I will
confess, it is the intention of Louisa and myself to stroll among the

“Less at this season than in the winter, dear; but still there may be
danger in venturing too far. But though thou art resolute, Elizabeth,
thou art too much like thy mother not to be prudent.”

The eyes of the parent turned reluctantly from his child, and the
Judge and sheriff rode slowly through the gateway, and disappeared
among the buildings of the village.

During this short dialogue, young Edwards stood, an attentive
listener, holding in his hand a fishing-rod, the day and the season
having tempted him also to desert the house for the pleasure of
exercise in the air. As the equestrians turned through the gate, he
approached the young females, who were already moving toward the
street, and was about to address them, as Louisa paused, and said.

“Mr. Edwards would speak to us, Elizabeth.”

The other stopped also, and turned to the youth, politely but with a
slight coldness in her air, that sensibly checked the freedom with
which he had approached them,

“Your father is not pleased that you should walk unattended in the
hills, Miss Temple. If I might offer my self as a protector—”
“Does my father select Mr. Oliver Edwards as the organ of his
displeasure?” interrupted the lady.

“Good Heaven! you misunderstood my meaning; I should have said uneasy
or not pleased. I am his servant, madam, and in consequence yours. I
repeat that, with your consent, I will change my rod for a fowling-
piece, and keep nigh you on the mountain,”

“I thank you, Mr. Edwards; but where there is no danger, no protection
is required. We are not yet reduced to wandering among these free
hills accompanied by a body guard. If such a one is necessary there
he is, however.— Here, Brave—Brave——my noble Brave!”
The huge mastif that has been already mentioned, appeared from his
kennel, gaping and stretching himself with pampered laziness; but as
his mistress again called:

“Come, dear Brave; once you have served your master well; let us see
how you can do your duty by his daughter”—the dog wagged his tail, as
if he understood her language, walked with a stately gait to her side,
where he seated himself, and looked up at her face, with an
intelligence but little inferior to that which beamed in her own
lovely countenance.

She resumed her walk, but again paused, after a few steps, and added,
in tones of conciliation:

“You can be serving us equally, and, I presume, more agreeably to
yourself, Mr. Edwards, by bringing us a string of your favorite perch
for the dinner-table,”

When they again began to walk Miss Temple did not look back to see how
the youth bore this repulse; but the head of Louisa was turned several
times before they reached the gate on that considerate errand.

“I am afraid, Elizabeth,” she said, “ that we have mortified Oliver.
He is still standing where we left him, leaning on his rod. Perhaps
he thinks us proud.”

“He thinks justly,” exclaimed Miss Temple, as if awaking from a deep
musing; “he thinks justly, then. We are too proud to admit of such
particular attentions from a young man in an equivocal situation.
What! make him the companion of our most private walks! It is pride,
Louisa, but it is the pride of a woman.”

It was several minutes before Oliver aroused himself from the
abstracted position in which he was standing when Louisa last saw him;
but when he did, he muttered something rapidly and incoherently, and,
throwing his rod over his shoulder, he strode down the walk through
the gate and along one of the streets of the village, until he reached
the lake-shore, with the air of an emperor. At this spot boats were
kept for the use of Judge Temple and his family. The young man threw
himself into a light skiff, and, seizing the oars, he sent it across
the lake toward the hut of Leather-Stocking, with a pair of vigorous
arms. By the time he had rowed a quarter of a mile, his reflections
were less bitter; and when he saw the bushes that lined the shore in
front of Natty’s habitation gliding by him, as if they possessed the
motion which proceeded from his own efforts, he was quite cooled in
mind, though somewhat heated in body. It is quite possible that the
very same reason which guided the conduct of Miss Temple suggested
itself to a man of the breeding and education of the youth; and it is
very certain that, if such were the case, Elizabeth rose instead of
falling in the estimation of Mr. Edwards.

The oars were now raised from the water, and the boat shot close in to
the land, where it lay gently agitated by waves of its own creating,
while the young man, first casting a cautious and searching glance
around him in every direction, put a small whistle to his mouth, and
blew a long, shrill note that rang among the echoing rocks behind the
hut. At this alarm, the hounds of Natty rushed out of their bark
kennel, and commenced their long, piteous howls, leaping about as if
half frantic, though restrained by the leashes of buckskin by which
they were fastened.

“Quiet, Hector, quiet,” said Oliver, again applying his whistle to his
mouth, and drawing out notes still more shrill than before. No reply
was made, the dogs having returned to their kennel at the sound of his

Edwards pulled the bows of the boat on the shore, and landing,
ascended the beach and approached the door of the cabin. The
fastenings were soon undone, and he entered, closing the door after
him, when all was as silent, in that retired spot, as if the foot of
man had never trod the wilderness. The sounds of the hammers, that
were in incessant motion in the village, were faintly heard across the
water; but the dogs had crouched into their lairs, satisfied that none
but the privileged had approached the forbidden ground.

A quarter of an hour elapsed before the youth reappeared, when he
fastened the door again, and spoke kindly to the hounds. The dogs
came out at the well-known tones, and the slut jumped upon his person,
whining and barking as if entreating Oliver to release her from
prison. But old Hector raised his nose to the light current of air,
and opened a long howl, that might have been heard for a mile.
“Ha! what do you scent, old veteran of the woods?” cried Edwards. “If
a beast, it is a bold one; and if a man, an impudent.”

He sprang through the top of a pine that had fallen near the side of
the hut, and ascended a small hillock that sheltered the cabin to the
south, where he caught a glimpse of the formal figure of Hiram
Doolittle, as it vanished, with unusual rapidity for the architect,
amid the bushes.

“What can that fellow be wanting here?” muttered Oliver. “He has no
business in this quarter, unless it be curiosity, which is an endemic
in these woods. But against that I will effectually guard, though the
dogs should take a liking to his ugly visage, and let him pass.” The
youth returned to the door, while giving vent to this soliloquy, and
completed the fastenings by placing a small chain through a staple,
and securing it there by a padlock. “He is a pettifogger, and surely
must know that there is such a thing as feloniously breaking into a
man’s house.”

Apparently well satisfied with this arrangement, the youth again spoke
to the hounds; and, descending to the shore, he launched his boat, and
taking up his oars, pulled off into the lake.

There were several places in the Otsego that were celebrated fishing-
ground for perch. One was nearly opposite to the cabin, and another,
still more famous, was near a point, at the distance of a mile and a
half above it, under the brow of the mountain, and on the same side of
the lake with the hut. Oliver Edwards pulled his little skiff to the
first, and sat, for a minute, undecided whether to continue there,
with his eyes on the door of the cabin, or to change his ground, with
a view to get superior game. While gazing about him, he saw the
light-colored bark canoe of his old companions riding on the water, at
the point we have mentioned, and containing two figures, that he at
once knew to be Mohegan and the Leather-Stocking. This decided the
matter, and the youth pulled, in a very few minutes, to the place
where his friends were fishing, and fastened his boat to the light
vessel of the Indian.

The old men received Oliver with welcoming nods, but neither drew his
line from the water nor in the least varied his occupation. When
Edwards had secured his own boat, he baited his hook and threw it into
the lake, with out speaking.

“Did you stop at the wigwam, lad, as you rowed past?” asked Natty.

“Yes, and I found all safe; but that carpenter and justice of the
peace, Mr., or as they call him, Squire, Doolittle, was prowling
through the woods. I made sure of the door before I left the hut, and
I think he is too great a coward to approach the hounds.”

“There's little to be said in favor of that man,” said Natty, while he
drew in a perch and baited his hook. “He craves dreadfully to come
into the cabin, and has as good as asked me as much to my face; but I
put him off with unsartain answers, so that he is no wiser than Solo
mon. This comes of having so many laws that such a man may be called
on to intarpret them.”

“I fear he is more knave than fool,” cried Edwards; “he makes a tool
of, that simple man, the sheriff; and I dread that his impertinent
curiosity may yet give us much trouble.”

“If he harbors too much about the cabin, lad, I’ll shoot the
creatur’,” said the Leather-Stocking, quite simply.

“No, no, Natty, you must remember the law,” said Edwards, “or we shall
have you in trouble; and that, old man, would be an evil day and sore
tidings to us all.”

“Would it, boy?’ exclaimed the hunter, raising his eyes, with a look
of friendly interest, toward the youth. “You have the true blood in
your veins, Mr. Oliver; and I’ll support it to the face of Judge
Temple or in any court in the country. How is it, John? Do I speak
the true word? Is the lad stanch, and of the right blood?”

“He is a Delaware,” said Mohegan, “and my brother. The Young Eagle is
brave, and he will be a chief. No harm can come.”

“Well, well,” cried the youth impatiently, “say no more about it, my
good friends; if I am not all that your partiality would make me, I am
yours through life, in prosperity as in poverty. We will talk of
other matters.”

The old hunters yielded to his wish, which seemed to be their law.
For a short time a profound silence prevailed, during which each man
was very busy with his hook and line, but Edwards, probably feeling
that it remained with him to renew the discourse, soon observed, with
the air of one who knew not what he said:

“How beautifully tranquil and glassy the lake is! Saw you it ever more
calm and even than at this moment, Natty?”

“I have known the Otsego water for five-and-forty years,” said
Leather—Stocking, “ and I will say that for it, which is, that a
cleaner spring or better fishing is not to be found in the land. Yes,
yes; I had the place to myself once, and a cheerful time I had of it.
The game was plenty as heart could wish; and there was none to meddle
with the ground unless there might have been a hunting party of the
Delawares crossing the hills, or, maybe, a rifling scout of them
thieves, the Iroquois. There was one or two Frenchmen that squatted
in the flats further west, and married squaws; and some of the Scotch-
Irishers, from the Cherry Valley, would come on to the lake, and
borrow my canoe to take a mess of parch, or drop a line for salmon-
trout; but, in the main, it was a cheerful place, and I had but little
to disturb me in it. John would come, and John knows.”
Mohegan turned his dark face at this appeal; and, moving his hand
forward with graceful motion of assent, he spoke, using the Delaware

“The land was owned by my people; we gave it to my brother in council—
to the Fire-eater; and what the Delawares give lasts as long as the
waters run. Hawk-eye smoked at that council, for we loved him.”

“No, no, John,” said Natty I was no chief, seeing that I knowed
nothing of scholarship, and had a white skin. But it was a
comfortable hunting-ground then, lad, and would have been so this day,
but for the money of Marmaduke Temple, and the twisty ways of the

“It must have been a sight of melancholy pleasure in deed,” said
Edwards, while his eye roved along the shores and over the hills,
where the clearings, groaning with the golden corn, were cheering the
forest with the signs of life, “to have roamed over these mountains
and along this sheet of beautiful water, without a living soul to
speak to, or to thwart your humor.”

“Haven’t I said it was cheerful?” said Leather-Stocking. “Yes, yes,
when the trees begain to be covered with leaves, and the ice was out
of the hake, it was a second paradise. I have travelled the woods for
fifty-three years, and have made them my home for more than forty, and
I can say that I have met but one place that was more to my liking;
and that was only to eyesight, and not for hunting or fishing.”

“And where was that?” asked Edwards.

“Where! why, up on the Catskills. I used often to go up into the
mountains after wolves’ skins and bears; once they paid me to get them
a stuffed painter, and so I often went. ‘there’s a place in them
hills that I used to climb to when I wanted to see the carryings on of
the world, that would well pay any man for a barked shin or a torn
moccasin. You know the Catskills, lad; for you must have seen them on
your left, as you followed the river up from York, looking as blue as
a piece of clear sky, and holding the clouds on their tops, as the
smoke curls over the head of an Indian chief at the council fire.
Well, there’s the High-peak and the Round-top, which lay back like a
father and mother among their children, seeing they are far above all
the other hills. But the place I mean is next to the river, where one
of the ridges juts out a little from the rest, and where the rocks
fall, for the best part of a thousand feet, so much up and down, that
a man standing on their edges is fool enough to think he can jump from
top to bottom.”

“What see you when you get there?” asked Edwards,

“Creation,” said Natty, dropping the end of his rod into the water,
and sweeping one hand around him in a circle, “all creation, lad. I
was on that hill when Vaughan burned ‘Sopus in the last war; and I saw
the vessels come out of the Highlands as plain as I can see that lime-
scow rowing into the Susquehanna, though one was twenty times farther
from me than the other. The river was in sight for seventy miles,
looking like a curled shaving under my feet, though it was eight long
miles to its banks. I saw the hills in the Hampshire grants, the
highlands of the river, and all that God had done, or man could do,
far as eye could reach—you know that the Indians named me for my
sight, lad ; and from the flat on the top of that mountain, I have
often found the place where Albany stands. And as for ‘Sopus, the day
the royal troops burnt the town, the smoke seemed so nigh, that I
thought I could hear the screeches of the women.”

“It must have been worth the toil to meet with such a glorious view.”

If being the best part of a mile in the air and having men’s farms and
houses your feet, with rivers looking like ribbons, and mountains
bigger than the ‘Vision seeming to be hay-stacks of green grass under
you, gives any satisfaction to a man, I can recommend the spot. When
I first came into the woods to live, I used to have weak spells when I
felt lonesome: and then I would go into the Catskills, and spend a few
days on that hill to look at the ways of man; but it’s now many a year
since I felt any such longings, and I am getting too old for rugged
rocks. But there’s a place, a short two miles back of that very hill,
that in late times I relished better than the mountains: for it was
more covered with the trees, and nateral.”

“And where was that?” inquired Edwards, whose curiosity was strongly
excited by the simple description of the hunter.

“Why, there’s a fall in the hills where the water of two little ponds.
that lie near each other, breaks out of their bounds and runs over the
rocks into the valley. The stream is, maybe, such a one as would turn
a mill, if so useless thing was wanted in the wilderness. But the
hand that made that ‘Leap’ never made a mill. There the water comes
crooking and winding among the rocks, first so slow that a trout could
swim in it, and then starting and running like a creatur’ that wanted
to make a far spring, till it gets to where the mountain divides, like
the cleft hoof of a deer, leaving a deep hollow for the brook to
tumble into. The first pitch is nigh two hundred feet, and the water
looks like flakes of driven snow afore it touches the bottom; and
there the stream gathers itself together again for a new start, and
maybe flutters over fifty feet of flat rock before it falls for
another hundred, when it jumps about from shelf to shelf, first
turning this-away and then turning that-away, striving to get out of
the hollow, till it finally comes to the plain.”

“I have never heard of this spot before; it is not mentioned in the

“I never read a book in my life,” said Leather-Stocking; “and how
should a man who has lived in towns and schools know anything about
the wonders of the woods? No, no, lad; there has that little stream of
water been playing among the hills since He made the world, and not a
dozen white men have ever laid eyes on it. The rock sweeps like
mason-work, in a half-round, on both sides of the fall, and shelves
over the bottom for fifty feet; so that when I’ve been sitting at the
foot of the first pitch, and my hounds have run into the caverns
behind the sheet of water, they’ve looked no bigger than so many
rabbits. To my judgment, lad, it’s the best piece of work that I’ve
met with in the woods; and none know how often the hand of God is seen
in the wilderness, but them that rove it for a man’s life,”

“What becomes of the water? In which direction does it run? Is it a
tributary of the Delaware?”

“Anan!” said Natty.

“Does the water run into the Delaware?”

“No, no; it’s a drop for the old Hudson, and a merry time it has till
it gets down off the mountain. I’ve sat on the shelving rock many a
long hour, boy, and watched the bubbles as they shot by me, and
thought how long it would be before that very water, which seemed made
for the wilderness, would be under the bottom of a vessel, and tossing
in the salt sea. It is a spot to make a man solemnize. You go right
down into the valley that lies to the east of the High Peak, where, in
the fall of the year, thousands of acres of woods are before your
eyes, in the deep hollow, and along the side of the mountain, painted
like ten thousand rainbows, by no hand of man, though without the
ordering of God’s providence.”

“You are eloquent, Leather-Stocking,” exclaimed the youth.

“Anan!” repeated Natty.

“The recollection of the sight has warmed your blood, old man. How
many years is it since you saw the place?”

The hunter made no reply; but, bending his ear near the water, he sat
holding his breath, and listening attentively as if to some distant
sound. At length he raised his head, and said:

“If I hadn’t fastened the hounds with my own hands, with a fresh leash
of green buckskin, I’d take a Bible oath that I heard old Hector
ringing his cry on the mountain.”

“It is impossible,” said Edwards; “it is not an hour since I saw him
in his kennel.”

By this time the attention of Mohegan was attracted to the sounds;
but, notwithstanding the youth was both silent and attentive, he could
hear nothing but the lowing of some cattle from the western hills. He
looked at the old men, Natty sitting with his hand to his ear, like a
trumpet, and Mohegan bending forward, with an arm raised to a level
with his face, holding the forefinger elevated as a signal for
attention, and laughed aloud at what he deemed to be imaginary sounds.

“Laugh if you will, boy,” said Leather-Stocking, “ the hounds be out,
and are hunting a deer, No man can deceive me in such a matter. I
wouldn’t have had the thing happen for a beaver’s skin. Not that I
care for the law; but the venison is lean now, and the dumb things run
the flesh off their own bones for no good. Now do you hear the

Edwards started, as a full cry broke on his ear, changing from the
distant sounds that were caused by some intervening hill, to confused
echoes that rang among the rocks that the dogs were passing, and then
directly to a deep and hollow baying that pealed under the forest
under the Lake shore. These variations in the tones of the hounds
passed with amazing rapidity; and, while his eyes were glancing along
the margin of the water, a tearing of the branches of the alder and
dogwood caught his attention, at a spot near them and at the next
moment a noble buck sprang on the shore, and buried himself in the
lake. A full-mouthed cry followed, when Hector and the slut shot
through the opening in the bushes, and darted into the lake also,
bearing their breasts gallantly against the water


“Oft in the full descending flood he tries
To lose the scent, and lave his burning sides.”—Thomson.

“I knowed it—I knowed it!” cried Natty, when both deer and hounds were
in full view; “ the buck has gone by them with the wind, and it has
been too much for the poor rogues; but I must break them of these
tricks, or they’ll give me a deal of trouble. He-ere, he-ere—shore.
with you, rascals—shore with you—will ye? Oh! off with you, old
Hector, or I'll hackle your hide with my ramrod when I get ye.”

The dogs knew their master’s voice, and after swimming in a circle, as
if reluctant to give over the chase, and yet afraid to persevere, they
finally obeyed, and returned to the land, where they filled the air
with their cries.

In the mean time the deer, urged by his fears, had swum over half the
distance between the shore and the boats, before his terror permitted
him to see the new danger. But at the sounds of Natty’s voice, he
turned short in his course and for a few moments seemed about to rush
back again, and brave the dogs. His retreat in this direction was,
however, effectually cut off, and, turning a second time, he urged his
course obliquely for the centre of the lake, with an intention of
landing on the western shore. As the buck swam by the fishermen,
raising his nose high into the air, curling the water before his slim
neck like the beak of a galley, the Leather-Stocking began to sit very
uneasy in his canoe.

“‘Tis a noble creatur’!” he exclaimed; “what a pair of horns! a man
might hang up all his garments on the branches. Let me see—July is
the last month, and the flesh must be getting good.” While he was
talking, Natty had instinctively employed himself in fastening the
inner end of the bark rope, that served him for a cable, to a paddle,
and, rising suddenly on his legs, he cast this buoy away. and cried;
“Strike out, John! let her go. The creatur’s a fool to tempt a man in
this way.

Mohegan threw the fastening of the youth’s boat from the canoe, and
with one stroke of his paddle sent the light bark over the water like
a meteor.

“Hold!” exclaimed Edwards. “ Remember the law, my old friends. You
are in plain sight of the village, and I know that Judge Temple is
determined to prosecute all, indiscriminately, who kill deer out of

The remonstrance came too late; the canoe was already far from the
skiff, and the two hunters were too much engaged in the pursuit to
listen to his voice.

The buck was now within fifty yards of his pursuers, cutting the water
gallantly, and snorting at each breath with terror and his exertions,
while the canoe seemed to dance over the waves as it rose and fell
with the undulations made by its own motion. Leather-Stocking raised
his rifle and freshened the priming, but stood in suspense whether to
slay his victim or not.

“Shall I, John or no?” he said. “It seems but a poor advantage to
take of the dumb thing, too. I won’t; it has taken to the water on
its own natur’, which is the reason that God has given to a deer, and
I’ll give it the lake play; so, John, lay out your arm, and mind the
turn of the buck; it’s easy to catch them, but they’ll turn like a

The Indian laughed at the conceit of his friend, but continued to send
the canoe forward with a velocity’ that proceeded much more from skill
than his strength. Both of the old men now used the language of the
Delawares when they spoke.

“Hugh!” exclaimed Mohegan; “the deer turns his head. Hawk-eye, lift
your spear.”

Natty never moved abroad without taking with him every implement that
might, by possibility, be of service in his pursuits. From his rifle
he never parted; and although intending to fish with the line, the
canoe was invariably furnished with all of its utensils, even to its
grate This precaution grew out of the habits of the hunter, who was
often led, by his necessities or his sports, far beyond the limits of
his original destination. A few years earlier than the date of our
tale, the Leather-Stocking had left his hut on the shores of the
Otsego, with his rifle and his hounds, for a few days’ hunting in the
hills; but before he returned he had seen the waters of Ontario. One,
two, or even three hundred miles had once been nothing to his sinews,
which were now a little stiffened by age. The hunter did as Mohegan
advised, and prepared to strike a blow with the barbed weapon into the
neck of the buck.

“Lay her more to the left, John,” he cried, “lay her more to the left;
another stroke of the paddle and I have him.”

While speaking he raised the spear, and darted it front him like an
arrow. At that instant the buck turned, the long pole glanced by him,
the iron striking against his horn, and buried itself harmlessly in
the lake.

“Back water,” cried Natty, as the canoe glided over the place where
the spear had fallen; “hold water, John.”

The pole soon reappeared, shooting up from the lake, and, as the
hunter seized it in his hand, the Indian whirled the light canoe
round, and renewed the chase. But this evolution gave the buck a
great advantage; and it also allowed time for Edwards to approach the
scene of action.

“Hold your hand, Natty!” cried the youth, “hold your hand; remember it
is out of season.”

This remonstrance was made as the batteau arrived close to the place
where the deer was struggling with the water, his back now rising to
the surface, now sinking beneath it, as the waves curled from his
neck, the animal still sustaining itself nobly against the odds,

“Hurrah!” shouted Edwards, inflamed beyond prudence at the sight;
“mind him as he doubles—mind him as he doubles; sheer more to the
right, Mohegan, more to the right, and I’ll have him by the horns;
I'll throw the rope over his antlers.”

The dark eye of the old warrior was dancing in his head with a wild
animation, and the sluggish repose in which his aged frame had been
resting in the canoe was now changed to all the rapid inflections of
practiced agility. The canoe whirled with each cunning evolution of
the chase, like a bubble floating in a whirlpool; and when the
direction of the pursuit admitted of a straight course the little bark
skimmed the lake with a velocity that urged the deer to seek its
safety in some new turn.

It was the frequency of these circuitous movements that, by confining
the action to so small a compass, enabled the youth to keep near his
companions. More than twenty times both the pursued and the pursuer
glided by him, just without the reach of his oars, until he thought
the best way to view the sport was to remain stationary, and, by
watching a favorable opportunity, assist as much as he could in taking
the victim.

He was not required to wait long, for no sooner had he adopted this
resolution, and risen in the boat, than he saw the deer coming bravely
toward him, with an apparent intention of pushing for a point of land
at some distance from the hounds, who were still barking and howling
on the shore. Edwards caught the painter of his skiff, and, making a
noose, cast it from him with all his force, and luckily succeeded in
drawing its knot close around one of the antlers of the buck.

For one instant the skiff was drawn through the water, but in the next
the canoe glided before it, and Natty, bending low, passed his knife
across the throat of the animal, whose blood followed the wound,
dyeing the waters. The short time that was passed in the last
struggles of the animal was spent by the hunters in bringing their
boats together and securing them in that position, when Leather-
Stocking drew the deer from the water and laid its lifeless form in
the bottom of the canoe. He placed his hands on the ribs, and on
different parts of the body of his prize, and then, raising his head,
he laughed in his peculiar manner.

“So much for Marmaduke Temple's law!” he said, “This warms a body’s
blood, old John: I haven’t killed a buck in the lake afore this, sin’
many a year. I call that good venison, lad: and I know them that will
relish the creatur’s steaks for all the betterments in the land.”

The Indian had long been drooping with his years, and perhaps under
the calamities of his race, but this invigorating and exciting sport
caused a gleam of sunshine to cross his swarthy face that had long
been absent from his features. it was evident the old man enjoyed the
chase more as a memorial of his youthful sports and deeds than with
any expectation of profiting by the success. He felt the deer,
however, lightly, his hand already trembling with the reaction of his
unusual exertions, and smiled with a nod of approbation, as he said,
in the emphatic and sententious manner of his people:


“I am afraid, Natty,” said Edwards, when the heat of the moment had
passed, and his blood began to cool, “that we have all been equally
transgressors of the law. But keep your own counsel, and there are
none here to betray us. Yet how came those dogs at large? I left them
securely fastened, I know, for I felt the thongs and examined the
knots when I was at the hunt.”

“It has been too much for the poor things,” said Natty, “to have such
a buck take the wind of them. See, lad, the pieces of the buckskin
are hanging from their necks yet. Let us paddle up, John, and I will
call them in and look a little into the matter.”

When the old hunter landed and examined the thongs that were yet fast
to the hounds, his countenance sensibly changed, and he shook his head

“Here has been a knife at work,” he said; “this skin was never torn,
nor is this the mark of a hound’s tooth. No, no—Hector is not in
fault, as I feared.”

“Has the leather been cut?” cried Edwards.

“No, no—I didn’t say it had been cut, lad; but this is a mark that was
never made by a jump or a bite.”

“Could that rascally carpenter have dared!”

“Ay! he durst do anything when there is no danger,” said Natty; “he is
a curious body, and loves to be helping other people on with their
consarns. But he had best not harbor so much near the wigwam!”

In the mean time, Mohegan had been examining, with an Indian’s
sagacity, the place where the leather thong had been separated. After
scrutinizing it closely, he said, in Delaware:

“It was cut with a knife—a sharp blade and a long handle—the man was
afraid of the dogs.”

“How is this, Mohegan?” exclaimed Edwards; “you saw it not! how can
you know these facts?”

“Listen, son,” said the warrior. “The knife was sharp, for the cut
was smooth; the handle was long, for a man’s arm would not reach from
this gash to the cut that did not go through the skin; he was a
coward, or he would have cut the thongs around the necks of the
On my life,” cried Natty, “John is on the scent! It was the carpenter;
and he has got on the rock back of the kennel and let the dogs loose
by fastening his knife to a stick. It would be an easy matter to do
it where a man is so minded.”

“And why should he do so?” asked Edwards; “who has done him wrong,
that he should trouble two old men like you?”

“It’s a hard matter, lad, to know men’s ways, I find, since the
settlers have brought in their new fashions, But is there nothing to
be found out in the place? and maybe he is troubled with his longings
after other people’s business, as he often is”

“Your suspicions are just. Give me the canoe; I am young and strong.
and will get down there yet, perhaps, in time to interrupt his plans.
Heaven forbid that we should be at the mercy of such a man!”

His proposal was accepted, the deer being placed in the skiff in order
to lighten the canoe, and in less than five minutes the little vessel
of bark was gilding over the glassy lake, and was soon hid by the
points of land as it shot close along the shore.

Mohegan followed slowly with the skiff, while Natty called his hounds
to him, bade them keep close, and, shouldering his rifle, he ascended
the mountain, with an intention of going to the hut by land.


“Ask me not what the maiden feels, Left in that dreadful hour alone:
Perchance, her reason stoops, or reel!;
Perchance, a courage not her own
Braces her mind to desperate tone.”—Scott.

While the chase was occurring on the lake, Miss Temple and her
companion pursued their walk on the mountain. Male attendants on such
excursions were thought to be altogether unnecessary, for none were
even known to offer insult to a female who respected herself. After
the embarrassment created by the parting discourse with Edwards had
dissipated, the girls maintained a conversation that was as innocent
and cheerful as themselves.

The path they took led them but a short distance above the hut of
Leather-Stocking, and there was a point in the road which commanded a
bird’s-eye view of the sequestered spot.

From a feeling that might have been, natural, and must have been
powerful, neither of the friends, in their frequent and confidential
dialogues, had ever trusted herself to utter one syllable concerning
the equivocal situation in which the young man who was now so
intimately associated with them had been found. If judge Temple had
deemed it prudent to make any inquiries on the subject, he had also
thought it proper to keep the answers to him self; though it was so
common an occurrence to find the well-educated youth of the Eastern
States in every stage of their career to wealth, that the simple
circumstance of his intelligence, connected with his poverty, would
not, at that day and in that country, have excited any very powerful
curiosity. With his breeding, it might have been different; but the
youth himself had so effectually guarded against surprise on this
subject, by his cold and even, in some cases, rude deportment, that
when his manners seemed to soften by time, the Judge, if he thought
about it at all, would have been most likely to imagine that the
improvement was the result of his late association. But women are
always more alive to such subjects than men; and what the abstraction
of the father had overlooked, the observation of the daughter had
easily detected. In the thousand little courtesies of polished life
she had early discovered that Edwards was not wanting, though his
gentleness was so often crossed by marks of what she conceived to be
fierce and uncontrollable passions. It may, perhaps, be unnecessary
to tell the reader that Louisa Grant never reasoned so much after the
fashions of the world. The gentle girl, however, had her own thoughts
on the subject, and, like others, she drew her own conclusions.

“I would give all my other secrets, Louisa,” exclaimed Miss Temple,
laughing, and shaking back her dark locks, with a look of childish
simplicity that her intelligent face seldom expressed, “to be mistress
of all that those rude logs have heard and witnessed.”

They were both looking at the secluded hut at the instant, and Miss
Grant raised her mild eyes as she answered:

“I am sure they would tell nothing to the disadvantage of Mr.

“Perhaps not; but they might, at least, tell who he is.”

“Why, dear Miss Temple, we know all that already. I have heard it all
very rationally explained by your cousin—”

“The executive chief! he can explain anything. His ingenuity will one
day discover the philosopher’s stone. But what did he say?”

“Say!” echoed Louisa, with a look of surprise; “why, everything that
seemed to me to be satisfactory, and I now believed it to be true. He
said that Natty Bumppo had lived most of his life in the woods and
among the Indians, by which means he had formed an acquaintance with
old John, the Delaware chief.”

“Indeed! that was quite a matter-of-fact tale for Cousin Dickon. What
came next?”

“I believe he accounted for their close intimacy by some story about
the Leather-Stocking saving the life of John in a battle.”

“Nothing more likely,” said Elizabeth, a little impatiently; “but what
is all this to the purpose?”

“Nay, Elizabeth, you must bear with my ignorance, and I will repeat
all that I remember to have overheard for the dialogue was between my
father and the sheriff, so lately as the last time they met, He then
added that the kings of England used to keep gentlemen as agents among
the different tribes of Indians, and sometimes officers in the army,
who frequently passed half their lives on the edge of the wilderness.”

“Told with wonderful historical accuracy! And did he end there?”

“Oh! no—then he said that these agents seldom married; and—and—they
must have been wicked men, Elizabeth! but I assure you he said so.”

“Never mind,” said Miss Temple, blushing and smiling, though so
slightly that both were unheeded by her companion; “skip all that.”

“Well, then, he said that they often took great pride in the education
of their children, whom they frequently sent to England, and even to
the colleges; and this is the way that he accounts for the liberal
manner in which Mr. Edwards has been taught; for he acknowledges that
he knows almost as much as your father—or mine—or even himself.”

“Quite a climax in learning’. And so he made Mohegan the granduncle
or grandfather of Oliver Edwards.”

“You have heard him yourself, then?” said Louisa.

“Often; but not on this subject. Mr. Richard Jones, you know, dear,
has a theory for everything; but has he one which will explain the
reason why that hut is the only habitation within fifty miles of us
whose door is not open to every person who may choose to lift its

“I have never heard him say anything on this subject,” returned the
clergyman’s daughter; “but I suppose that, as they are poor, they very
naturally are anxious to keep the little that they honestly own. It
is sometimes dangerous to be rich, Miss Temple; but you cannot know
how hard it is to be very, very poor.”

“Nor you, I trust, Louisa; at least I should hope that, in this land
of abundance, no minister of the church could be left in absolute

“There cannot be actual misery,” returned the other, in a low and
humble tone, “where there is a dependence on our Maker; but there may
be such suffering as will cause the heart to ache.”

“But not you—not you,” said the impetuous Elizabeth— “not you, dear
girl, you have never known the misery that is connected with poverty.”

“Ah! Miss Temple, you little understand the troubles of this life, I
believe. My father has spent many years as a missionary in the new
countries, where his people were poor, and frequently we have been
without bread; unable to buy, and ashamed to beg, because we would not
disgrace his sacred calling. But how often have I seen him leave his
home, where the sick and the hungry felt, when he left them, that they
had lost their only earthly friend, to ride on a duty which could not
be neglected for domes tic evils! Oh! how hard it must be to preach
consolation to others when your own heart is bursting with anguish!”

“But it is all over now! your father’s income must now be equal to his
wants—it must be—it shall be—”

“It is,” replied Louisa, dropping her head on her bosom to conceal the
tears which flowed in spite of her gentle Christianity—” for there are
none left to be supplied but me.”

The turn the conversation had taken drove from the minds of the young
maidens all other thoughts but those of holy charity; and Elizabeth
folded her friend in her arms, when the latter gave vent to her
momentary grief in audible sobs. When this burst of emotion had
subsided, Louisa raised her mild countenance, and they continued their
walk in silence.

By this time they had gained the summit of the mountain, where they
left the highway, and pursued their course under the shade of the
stately trees that crowned the eminence. The day was becoming warm,
and the girls plunged more deeply into the forest, as they found its
invigorating coolness agreeably contrasted to the excessive heat they
had experienced in the ascent. The conversation, as if by mutual
consent, was entirely changed to the little incidents and scenes of
their walk, and every tall pine, and every shrub or flower, called
forth some simple expression of admiration.

In this manner they proceeded along the margin of the precipice,
catching occasional glimpses of the placid Otsego, or pausing to
listen to the rattling of wheels and the sounds of hammers that rose
from the valley, to mingle the signs of men with the scenes of nature,
when Elizabeth suddenly started, and exclaimed:

“Listen! there are the cries of a child on this mountain! Is there a
clearing near us, or can some little one have strayed from its

“Such things frequently happen,” returned Louisa. Let us follow the
sounds; it may be a wanderer starving on the hill.”

Urged by this consideration, the females pursued the low, mournful
sounds, that proceeded from the forest, with quick and impatient
steps. More than once, the ardent Elizabeth was on the point of
announcing that she saw the sufferer, when Louisa caught her by the
arm, and pointing behind them, cried:

“Look at the dog!”

Brave had been their companion, from the time the voice of his young
mistress lured him from his kennel, to the present moment. His
advanced age had long before deprived him of his activity; and when
his companions stopped to view the scenery, or to add to their
bouquets, the mastiff would lay his huge frame on the ground and await
their movements, with his eyes closed, and a listlessness in his air
that ill accorded with the character of a protector. But when,
aroused by this cry from Louisa, Miss Temple turned, she saw the dog
with his eyes keenly set on some distant object, his head bent near
the ground, and his hair actually rising on his body, through fright
or anger. It was most probably the latter, for he was growling in a
low key, and occasionally showing his teeth, in a manner that would
have terrified his mistress, had she not so well known his good

“Brave!” she said, “be quiet, Brave! What do you see, fellow?”

At the sounds of her voice, the rage of the mastiff, instead of being
at all diminished, was very sensibly increased. He stalked in front
of the ladies, and seated himself at the feet of his mistress,
growling louder than before, and occasionally giving vent to his ire
by a short, surly barking.

“What does he see?” said Elizabeth; “there must be some animal in

Hearing no answer from her companion, Miss Temple turned her head and
beheld Louisa, standing with her face whitened to the color of death,
and her finger pointing upward with a sort of flickering, convulsed
motion. The quick eye of Elizabeth glanced in the direction indicated
by her friend, where she saw the fierce front and glaring eyes of a
female panther, fixed on them in horrid malignity, and threatening to

“Let us fly,” exclaimed Elizabeth, grasping the arm of Louisa, whose
form yielded like melting snow.

There was not a single feeling in the temperament of Elizabeth Temple
that could prompt her to desert a companion in such an extremity. She
fell on her knees by the side of the inanimate Louisa, tearing from
the person of her friend, with instinctive readiness, such parts of
her dress as might obstruct her respiration, and encouraging their
only safeguard, the dog, at the same time, by the sounds of her voice.

“Courage, Brave!” she cried, her own tones beginning to tremble,
“courage, courage, good Brave!”

A quarter-grown cub, that had hitherto been unseen, now appeared,
dropping from the branches of a sapling that grew under the shade of
the beech which held its dam. This ignorant but vicious creature
approached the dog, imitating the actions and sounds of its parent,
but exhibiting a strange mixture of the playfulness of a kitten with
the ferocity of its race. Standing on its hind-legs, it would rend
the bark of a tree with its fore-paws, and play the antics of a cat;
and then, by lashing itself with its tail, growling, and scratching
the earth, it would at tempt the manifestations of anger that rendered
its parent so terrific.

All this time Brave stood firm and undaunted, his short tail erect,
his body drawn backward on its haunches, and his eyes following the
movements of both dam and cub. At every gambol played by the latter,
it approached nigher to the dog, the growling of the three becoming
more horrid at each moment, until the younger beast, over-leaping its
intended bound, fell directly before the mastiff. There was a moment
of fearful cries and struggles, but they ended almost as soon as
commenced, by the cub appearing in the air, hurled from the jaws of
Brave, with a violence that sent it against a tree so forcibly as to
render it completely senseless. Elizabeth witnessed the short
struggle, and her blood was warming with the triumph of the dog, when
she saw the form of the old panther in the air, springing twenty feet
from the branch of the beech to the back of the mastiff. No words of
ours can describe the fury of the conflict that followed. It was a
confused struggle on the dry leaves, accompanied by loud and terrific
cries. Miss Temple continued on her knees, bending over the form of
Louisa, her eyes fixed on the animals with an interest so horrid, and
yet so intense, that she almost forgot her own stake in the result.
So rapid and vigorous were the bounds of the inhabitant of the forest,
that its active frame seemed constantly in the air, while the dog
nobly faced his foe at each successive leap. When the panther lighted
on the shoulders of the mastiff, which was its constant aim, old
Brave, though torn with her talons, and stained with his own blood,
that already flowed from a dozen wounds, would shake off his furious
foe like a feather, and, rearing on his hind-legs, rush to the fray
again, with jaws distended, and a dauntless eye. But age, and his
pampered life, greatly disqualified the noble mastiff for such a
struggle. In everything but courage. he was only the vestige of what
he had once been. A higher bound than ever raised the wary and
furious beast far beyond the reach of the dog, who was making a
desperate but fruitless dash at her, from which she alighted in a
favorable position, on the back of her aged foe. For a single moment
only could the panther remain there, the great strength of the dog
returning with a convulsive effort. But Elizabeth saw, as Brave
fastened his teeth in the side of his enemy, that the collar of brass
around his neck, which had been glittering throughout the fray, was of
the color of blood, and directly that his frame was sinking to the
earth, where it soon lay prostrate and helpless. Several mighty
efforts of the wild-cat to extricate herself from the jaws of the dog
followed, but they were fruitless, until the mastiff turned on his
back, his lips collapsed, and his teeth loosened, when the short
convulsions and stillness that succeeded announced the death of poor

Elizabeth now lay wholly at the mercy of the beast. There is said to
be something in the front of the image of the Maker that daunts the
hearts of the inferior beings of his creation; and it would seem that
some such power, in the present instance, suspended the threatened
blow. The eyes of the monster and the kneeling maiden met for an
instant, when the former stooped to examine her fallen foe; next, to
scent her luckless cub. From the latter examination it turned,
however, with its eyes apparently emitting flashes of fire, its tail
lashing its sides furiously, and its claws projecting inches from her
broad feet.

Miss Temple did not or could not move. Her hands were clasped in the
attitude of prayer, but her eyes were still drawn to her terrible
enemy—her cheeks were blanched to the whiteness of marble, and her
lips were slightly separated with horror.

The moment seemed now to have arrived for the fatal termination, and
the beautiful figure of Elizabeth was bowing meekly to the stroke,
when a rustling of leaves behind seemed rather to mock the organs than
to meet her ears.

“Hist! hist!” said a low voice, “stoop lower, gal; your bonnet hides
the creatur’s head.”

It was rather the yielding of nature than a compliance with this
unexpected order, that caused the head of our heroine to sink on her
bosom; when she heard the report of the rifle, the whizzing of the
bullet, and the enraged cries of the beast, who was rolling over on
the earth, biting its own flesh, and tearing the twigs and branches
within its reach. At the next instant the form of the Leather-
Stocking rushed by her, and he called aloud:

“Come in, Hector! come in, old fool; ‘tis a hard-lived animal, and may
jump agin.”

Natty fearlessly maintained his position in front of the females,
notwithstanding the violent bounds and threatening aspect of the
wounded panther, which gave several indications of returning strength
and ferocity, until his rifle was again loaded, when he stepped up to
the enraged animal, and, placing the muzzle close to its head, every
spark of life was extinguished by the discharge.

The death of her terrible enemy appeared to Elizabeth like a
resurrection from her own grave. There was an elasticity in the mind
of our heroine that rose to meet the pressure of instant danger, and
the more direct it had been, the more her nature had struggled to
overcome them. But still she was a woman. Had she been left to
herself in her late extremity, she would probably have used her
faculties to the utmost, and with discretion, in protecting her
person; but, encumbered with her inanimate friend, retreat was a thing
not to be attempted. Notwithstanding the fearful aspect of her foe,
the eye of Elizabeth had never shrunk from its gaze, and long after
the event her thoughts would recur to her passing sensations, and the
sweetness of her midnight sleep would be disturbed, as her active
fancy conjured, in dreams, the most trifling movements of savage fury
that the beast had exhibited in its moment of power.

We shall leave the reader to imagine the restoration of Louisa’s
senses, and the expressions of gratitude which fell from the young
women. The former was effected by a little water, that was brought
from one of the thousand springs of those mountains, in the cap of the
Leather-Stocking; and the latter were uttered with the warmth that
might be expected from the character of Elizabeth. Natty received her
vehement protestations of gratitude with a simple expression of good-
will, and with indulgence for her present excitement, but with a
carelessness that showed how little he thought of the service he had

“Well, well,” he said, “be it so, gal; let it be so, if you wish it—
we'll talk the thing over another time. Come, come—let us get into
the road, for you’ve had terror enough to make you wish yourself in
your father’s house agin.”

This was uttered as they were proceeding, at a pace that was adapted
to the weakness of Louisa, toward the highway; on reaching which the
ladies separated from their guide, declaring themselves equal to the
remainder of the walk without his assistance, and feeling encouraged
by the sight of the village which lay beneath their feet like a
picture, with its limpid lake in front, the winding stream along its
margin, and its hundred chimneys of whitened bricks.

The reader need not be told the nature of the emotions which two
youthful, ingenuous, and well-educated girls would experience at their
escape from a death so horrid as the one which had impended over them,
while they pursued their way in silence along the track on the side of
the mountain; nor how deep were their mental thanks to that Power
which had given them their existence, and which had not deserted them
in their extremity; neither how often they pressed each other’s arms
as the assurance of their present safety came, like a healing balm,
athwart their troubled spirits, when their thoughts were recurring to
the recent moments of horror.

Leather-Stocking remained on the hill, gazing after their retiring
figures, until they were hidden by a bend in the road, when he
whistled in his dogs, and shouldering his rifle, he returned into the

“Well, it was a skeary thing to the young creatur’s,” said Natty,
while he retrod the path toward the plain. “It might frighten an
older woman, to see a she-painter so near her, with a dead cub by its
side. I wonder if I had aimed at the varmint’s eye, if I shouldn’t
have touched the life sooner than in the forehead; but they are hard-
lived animals, and it was a good shot, consid’ring that I could see
nothing but the head and the peak of its tail. Hah! who goes there?”

“How goes it, Natty?” said Mr. Doolittle, stepping out of the bushes,
with a motion that was a good deal accelerated by the sight of the
rifle, that was already lowered in his direction. “What! shooting
this warm day! Mind, old man, the law don’t get hold on you.”

“The law, squire! I have shook hands with the law these forty year,”
returned Natty; “for what has a man who lives in the wilderness to do
with the ways of the law?”

“Not much, maybe,” said Hiram; “but you sometimes trade in venison. I
s’pose you know, Leather-Stocking, that there is an act passed to lay
a fine of five pounds currency, or twelve dollars and fifty cents, by
decimals, on every man who kills a deer betwixt January and August.
The Judge had a great hand in getting the law through.”

“I can believe it,” returned the old hunter; “ I can believe that or

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