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

Part 7 out of 10

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anything of a man who carries on as he does in the country.”

“Yes, the law is quite positive, and the Judge is bent on putting it
in force—five pounds penalty. I thought I heard your hounds out on
the scent of so’thing this morning; I didn’t know but they might get
you in difficulty.”

“They know their manners too well,” said Natty carelessly. “And how
much goes to the State’s evidence, squire?”

“How much?” repeated Hiram, quailing under the honest but sharp look
of the hunter; “the informer gets half, I—I believe—yes, I guess it’s
half. But there’s blood on your sleeve, man—you haven’t been shooting
anything this morning?”

“I have, though,” said the hunter, nodding his head significantly to
the other, “and a good shot I made of it.”

“H-e-m!” ejacuated the magistrate; “and where is the game? I s’pose
it’s of a good natur’, for your dogs won’t hunt anything that isn’t

“They’ll hunt anything I tell them to, squire,” cried Natty, favoring
the other with his laugh. “They’ll hunt you, if I say so. He-e-e-re,
he-e-e-re, Hector—he-e-e-re, slut—come this a-way, pups—come this a-
way-—come hither.”

“Oh! I have always heard a good character of the dogs,” returned Mr.
Doolittle, quickening his pace by raising each leg in rapid
succession, as the hounds scented around his person. “And where is
the game, Leather-Stocking?”

During this dialogue, the speakers had been walking at a very fast
gait, and Natty swung the end of his rifle round, pointing through the
bushes, and replied: “There lies one. How do you like such meat?”

“This!” exclaimed Hiram; “why, this is Judge Temple’s dog Brave. Take
care, Leather-Stocking, and don’t make an enemy of the Judge. I hope
you haven’t harmed the animal?”

“Look for yourself, Mr. Doolittle,” said Natty, drawing his knife from
his girdle, and wiping it in a knowing manner, once or twice across
his garment of buckskin; “does his throat look as if I had cut it with
this knife?”

“It is dreadfully torn! it’s an awful wound—no knife ever did this
deed. Who could have done it?”

“The painters behind you, squire.”

“Painters!” echoed Hiram, whirling on his heel with an agility that
would have done credit to a dancing’ master.

“Be easy, man,” said Natty; “there’s two of the venomous things; but
the dog finished one, and I have fastened the other’s jaws for her; so
don’t be frightened, squire; they won’t hurt you.”

“And where’s the deer?” cried Hiram, staring about him with a
bewildered air.

“Anan? deer!” repeated Natty.
“Sartain; an’t there venison here, or didn’t you kill a buck?”

“What! when the law forbids the thing, squire!” said the old hunter,
“I hope there’s no law agin’ killing the painters.”

“No! there’s a bounty on the scalps—but—will your dogs hunt painters,

“Anything; didn’t I tell you they would hunt a man? He-e-re, he-e-re,

“Yes, yes, I remember. Well, they are strange dogs, I must say—I am
quite in a wonderment.”

Natty had seated himself on the ground, and having laid the grim head
of his late ferocious enemy in his lap, was drawing his knife with a
practiced hand around the ears, which he tore from the head of the
beast in such a manner as to preserve their connection, when he

“What at, squire? did you never see a painter’s scalp afore? Come, you
are a magistrate, I wish you’d make me out an order for the bounty.”

“The bounty!” repeated Hiram, holding the ears on the end of his
finger for a moment, as if uncertain how to proceed. “Well, let us go
down to your hut, where you can take the oath, and I will write out
the order, I sup pose you have a Bible? All the law wants is the four
evangelists and the Lord’s prayer.”

“I keep no books,” said Natty, a little coldly; “not such a Bible as
the law needs.”

“Oh! there’s but one sort of Bible that’s good in law,” returned the
magistrate, “and your’n will do as well as another’s. Come, the
carcasses are worth nothing, man; let us go down and take the oath.”

“Softly, softly, squire,” said the hunter, lifting his trophies very
deliberately from the ground, and shouldering his rifle; “why do you
want an oath at all, for a thing that your own eyes has seen? Won’t
you believe yourself, that another man must swear to a fact that you
know to be true? You have seen me scalp the creatur’s, and if I must
swear to it, it shall be before Judge Temple, who needs an oath.”

“But we have no pen or paper here, Leather-Stocking; we must go to the
hut for them, or how can I write the order?”

Natty turned his simple features on the cunning magistrate with
another of his laughs, as he said:

“And what should I be doing with scholars’ tools? I want no pens or
paper, not knowing the use of either; and I keep none. No, no, I’ll
bring the scalps into the village, squire, and you can make out the
order on one of your law-books, and it will he all the better for it.
The deuce take this leather on the neck of the dog, it will strangle
the old fool. Can you lend me a knife, squire?”

Hiram, who seemed particularly anxious to be on good terms with his
companion, unhesitatingly complied. Natty cut the thong from the neck
of the hound, and, as he returned the knife to its owner, carelessly

“Tis a good bit of steel, and has cut such leather as this very same,
before now, I dare say.”

“Do you mean to charge me with letting your hounds loose?” exclaimed
Hiram, with a consciousness that disarmed his caution.

“Loose!” repeated the hunter—” I let them loose my self. I always let
them loose before I leave the hut.”

The ungovernable amazement with which Mr. Doolittle listened to this
falsehood would have betrayed his agency in the liberation of the
dogs, had Natty wanted any further confirmation; and the coolness and
management of the old man now disappeared in open indignation.

“Look you here, Mr. Doolittle,” he said, striking the breech of his
rifle violently on the ground; “ what there is in the wigwam of a poor
man like me, that one like you can crave, I don’t know; but this I
tell you to your face, that you never shall put foot under the roof of
my cabin with my consent, and that, if you harbor round the spot as
you have done lately, you may meet with treatment that you will little

“And let me tell you, Mr. Bumppo,” said Hiram, retreating, however,
with a quick step, “that I know you’ve broke the law, and that I’m a
magistrate, and will make you feel it too, before you are a day

“That for you and your law, too,” cried Natty, snap ping his fingers
at the justice of the peace; “away with you, you varmint, before the
devil tempts me to give you your desarts. Take care, if I ever catch
your prowling face in the woods agin, that I don’t shoot it for an

There is something at all times commanding in honest indignation, and
Hiram did not stay to provoke the wrath of the old hunter to
extremities. When the intruder was out of sight, Natty proceeded to
the hut, where he found all quiet as the grave. He fastened his dogs,
and tapping at the door, which was opened by Edwards, asked;

“Is all safe, lad?”

“Everything,” returned the youth. “Some one attempted the lock, but
it was too strong for him.”

“I know the creatur’,” said Natty, “but he’ll not trust himself within
the reach of my rifle very soon——” What more was uttered by the
Leather-Stocking, in his vexation, was rendered inaudible by the
closing of the door of the cabin.


“It is noised, he hath a mass of treasure.”—Timon of Athens.

When Marmaduke Temple and his cousin rode through the gate of the
former, the heart of the father had been too recently touched with the
best feelings of our nature, to leave inclination for immediate
discourse. There was an importance in the air of Richard, which would
not have admitted of the ordinary informal conversation of the
sheriff, without violating all the rules of consistency; and the
equestrians pursued their way with great diligence, for more than a
mile, in profound silence. At length the soft expression of parental
affection was slowly chased from the handsome features of the Judge,
and was gradually supplanted by the cast of humor and benevolence that
was usually seated on his brow.

“Well, Dickon,” he said, since I have yielded myself so far implicitly
to your guidance, I think the moment has arrived when I am entitled to
further confidence. Why and wherefore are we journeying together in
this solemn gait?”

The sheriff gave a loud hem, that rang far in the forest, and keeping
his eyes fixed on objects before him like a man who is looking deep
into futurity:

“There has always been one point of difference between us, Judge
Temple, I may say, since our nativity,” he replied; not that I would
insinuate that you are at all answerable for the acts of Nature; for a
man is no more to be condemned for the misfortunes of his birth, than
he is to be commended for the natural advantages he may possess; but
on one point we may be said to have differed from our births, and
they, you know, occurred within two days of each other.”

“I really marvel, Richard, what this one point can be, for, to my
eyes, we seem to differ so materially, and so often—”

“Mere consequences, sir,” interrupted the sheriff; “all our minor
differences proceed from one cause, and that is, our opinions of the
universal attainments of genius.”

“In what, Dickon?”

“I speak plain English, I believe, Judge Temple: at least I ought; for
my father, who taught me, could speak——”

“Greek and Latin,” interrupted Marmaduke. “I well know the
qualifications of your family in tongues, Dickon. But proceed to the
point; why are we travelling over this mountain to-day?”

“To do justice to any subject, sir, the narrator must he suffered to
proceed in his own way,” continued the sheriff. “You are of opinion,
Judge Temple, that a man is to be qualified by nature and education to
do only one thing well, whereas I know that genius will supply the
place of learning, and that a certain sort of man can do anything and

“Like yourself, I suppose,” said Marmaduke, smiling.

“I scorn personalities, sir, I say nothing of myself; but there are
three men on your Patent, of the kind that I should term talented by
nature for her general purposes though acting under the influence of
different situations.”

“We are better off, then, than I had supposed. Who are these

“Why, sir, one is Hiram Doolittle; a carpenter by trade, as you know—
and I need only point to the village to exhibit his merits. Then he
is a magistrate, and might shame many a man, in his distribution of
justice, who has had better opportunities.”

“Well, he is one,” said Marmaduke, with the air of a man that was
determined not to dispute the point.

“Jotham Riddel is another.”


“Jotham Riddel.”

“What, that dissatisfied, shiftless, lazy, speculating fellow! he who
changes his county every three years, his farm every six months, and
his occupation every season! an agriculturist yesterday, a shoemaker
to-day, and a school master to-morrow! that epitome of all the
unsteady and profitless propensities of the settlers without one of
their good qualities to counterbalance the evil! Nay, Richard. this
is too bad for even—but the third.”

“As the third is not used to hearing such comments on his character,
Judge Temple, I shall not name him.”

“The amount of all this, then, Dickon, is that the trio, of which you
are one, and the principal, have made some important discovery.”

“I have not said that I am one, Judge Temple. As I told you before,
say nothing egotistical. But a discovery has been made, and you are
deeply interested in it.”

“Proceed—I am all ears.”

“No, no, ‘Duke, you are bad enough, I own, but not so bad as that,
either; your ears are not quite full grown.”

The sheriff laughed heartily at his own wit, and put himself in good
humor thereby, when he gratified his patient cousin with the following

“You know, ‘Duke, there is a man living on your estate that goes by
the name of Natty Bumppo. Here has this man lived, by what I can
learn, for more than forty years—by himself, until lately; and now
with strange companions.”

“Part very true, and all very probable,” said the Judge.

“All true, sir; all true. Well, within these last few months have
appeared as his companions an old Indian chief, the last, or one of
the last of his tribe that is to be found in this part of the country,
and a young man, who is said to be the son of some Indian agent, by a

“Who says that?” cried Marmaduke, with an interest; that he had not
manifested before.

“Who? why, common sense—common report—the hue and cry. But listen
till you know all. This youth has very pretty talents—yes, what I
call very pretty talents— and has been well educated, has seen very
tolerable company, and knows how to behave himself when he has a mind
to. Now, Judge Temple, can you tell me what has brought three such
men as Indian John, Natty Bumppo, and Oliver Edwards together?”
Marmaduke turned his countenance, in evident surprise, to his cousin,
and replied quickly:

“Thou hast unexpectedly hit on a subject, Richard, that has often
occupied my mind. But knowest thou anything of this mystery, or are
they only the crude conjectures of—”

“Crude nothing, ‘Duke, crude nothing : but facts, stub-born facts.
You know there arc mines in these mountains; I have often heard you
say that you believed in their existence.”

“Reasoning from analogy, Richard, but not with any certainty of the

“You have heard them mentioned, and have seen specimens of the ore,
sir; you will not deny that! and, reasoning from analogy, as you say,
if there be mines in South America, ought there not to be mines in
North America too?”

“Nay, nay, I deny nothing, my cousin. I certainly have heard many
rumors of the existence of mines in these hills: and I do believe that
I have seen specimens of the precious metals that have been found
here. It would occasion me no surprise to learn that tin and silver,
or what I consider of more consequence, good coal—”

“Damn your coal,” cried the sheriff; “ who wants to find coal in these
forests? No, no—silver, ‘Duke; silver is the one thing needful, and
silver is to be found. But listen: you are not to be told that the
natives have long known the use of gold and silver; now who so likely
to be acquainted where they are to be found as the ancient inhabitants
of a country? I have the best reasons for believing that both Mohegan
and the Leather-Stocking have been privy to the existence of a mine in
this very mountain for many years.”

The sheriff had now touched his cousin in a sensitive spot; and
Marmaduke lent a more attentive ear to the speaker, who, after waiting
a moment to see the effect of this extraordinary development,

“Yes, sir, I have my reasons, and at a proper time you shall know

“No time is so good as the present.”

“Well, well, be attentive,” continued Richard, looking cautiously
about him, to make certain that no eavesdropper was hid in the forest,
though they were in constant motion. “I have seen Mohegan and the
Leather-Stocking, with my own eyes—and my eyes are as good as
anybody’s eyes—I have seen them, I say, both going up the mountain and
coming down it, with spades and picks; and others have seen them
carrying things into their hut, in a secret and mysterious manner,
after dark. Do you call this a fact of importance?”

The Judge did not reply, but his brow had contracted, with a
thoughtfulness that he always wore when much interested, and his eyes
rested on his cousin in expectation of hearing more. Richard

“It was ore. Now, sir, I ask if you can tell me who this Mr. Oliver
Edwards is, that has made a part of your household since Christmas?”

Marmaduke again raised his eyes, but continued silent, shaking his
head in the negative.

“That he is a half-breed we know, for Mohegan does not scruple to call
him openly his kinsman; that he is well educated we know. But as to
his business here—do you remember that about a month before this young
man made his appearance among us, Natty was absent from home several
days? You do; for you inquired for him, as you wanted some venison to
take to your friends, when you went for Bess. Well, he was not to be
found. Old John was left in the hut alone, and when Natty did appear,
although he came on in the night, he was seen drawing one of those
jumpers that they carry their grain to mill in, and to take out
something with great care, that he had covered up under his bear-
skins. Now let me ask you, Judge Temple, what motive could induce a
man like the Leather-Stocking to make a sled, and toil with a load
over these mountains, if he had nothing but his rifle or his
ammunition to carry?”

“They frequently make these jumpers to convey their game home, and you
say he had been absent many days.”

“How did he kill it? His rifle was in the village, to be mended. No,
no—that he was gone to some unusual place is certain; that he brought
back some secret utensils is more certain; and that he has not allowed
a soul to approach his hut since is most certain of all.”

“He was never fond of intruders——--”

“I know it,” interrupted Richard; “but did he drive them from his
cabin morosely? Within a fortnight of his return, this Mr. Edwards
appears. They spend whole days in the mountains, pretending to be
shooting, but in reality exploring; the frosts prevent their digging
at that time, and he avails himself of a lucky accident to get into
good quarters. But even now, he is quite half of his time in that
hut—many hours every night. They are smelting, 'Duke they are
smelting, and as they grow rich, you grow poor.”

“How much of this is thine own, Richard, and how much comes from
others? I would sift the wheat from the chaff.”

“Part is my own, for I saw the jumper, though it was broken up and
burnt in a day or two. I have told you that I saw the old man with
his spades and picks. Hiram met Natty, as he was crossing the
mountain, the night of his arrival with the sled, and very good-
naturedly offered —Hiram is good-natured—to carry up part of his load,
for the old man had a heavy pull up the back of the mountain, but he
wouldn't listen to the thing, and repulsed the offer in such a manner
that the squire said he had half a mind to swear the peace against
him. Since the snow has been off, more especially after the frosts
got out of the ground, we have kept a watchful eye on the gentle
man, in which we have found Jotham useful.”
Marmaduke did not much like the associates of Richard in this
business; still he knew them to be cunning and ready expedients; and
as there was certainly something mysterious, not only in the
connection between the old hunters and Edwards, but in what his cousin
had just related, he began to revolve the subject in his own mind with
more care. On reflection, he remembered various circumstances that
tended to corroborate these suspicions, and, as the whole business
favored one of his infirmities, he yielded the more readily to their
impression. The mind of Judge Temple, at all times comprehensive, had
received from his peculiar occupations a bias to look far into
futurity, in his speculations on the improvements that posterity were
to make in his lands. To his eye, where others saw nothing but a
wilderness, towns, manufactories, bridges, canals, mines, and all the
other resources of an old country were constantly presenting
themselves, though his good sense suppressed, in some degree, the
exhibition of these expectations.

As the sheriff allowed his cousin full time to reflect on what he had
heard, the probability of some pecuniary adventure being the
connecting link in the chain that brought Oliver Edwards into the
cabin of Leather-Stocking appeared to him each moment to be stronger.
But Marmaduke was too much in the habit of examining both sides of a
subject not to perceive the objections, and he reasoned with himself

“It cannot be so, or the youth would not be driven so near the verge
of poverty.”

“What so likely to make a man dig for money as being poor?” cried the

“Besides, there is an elevation of character about Oliver that
proceeds from education, which would forbid so clan- destine a

“Could an ignorant fellow smelt?” continued Richard.

“Bess hints that he was reduced even to his last shilling when we took
him into our dwelling.”

“He had been buying tools. And would he spend his last sixpence for a
shot at a turkey had he not known where to get more?”

“Can I have possibly been so long a dupe? His manner has been rude to
me at times, but I attributed it to his conceiving himself injured,
and to his mistaking the forms of the world.”

“Haven’t you been a dupe all your life, ‘Duke, and an’t what you call
ignorance of forms deep cunning, to conceal his real character?”

“If he were bent on deception, he would have concealed his knowledge,
and passed with us for an inferior man.”

“He cannot. I could no more pass for a fool, myself, than I could
fly. Knowledge is not to be concealed, like a candle under a bushel,”

“Richard,” said the Judge, turning to his cousin, “there are many
reasons against the truth of thy conjectures, but thou hast awakened
suspicions which must be satisfied. But why are we travelling here?”

“Jotham, who has been much in the mountain latterly, being kept there
by me and Hiram, has made a discovery, which he will not explain, he
says, for he is bound by an oath; but the amount is, that he knows
where the ore lies, and he has this day begun to dig. I would not
consent to the thing, ‘Duke, without your knowledge, for the land is
yours; and now you know the reason of our ride. I call this a
countermine, ha!”

“And where is the desirable spot?” asked the Judge with an air half
comical, half serious.

“At hand; and when we have visited that, I will show you one of the
places that we have found within a week, where our hunters have been
amusing themselves for six months past.”

The gentlemen continued to discuss the matter, while their horses
picked their way under the branches of the trees and over the uneven
ground of the mountain. They soon arrived at the end of their
journey, where, in truth, they found Jotham already buried to his neck
in a hole that he had been digging.

Marmaduke questioned the miner very closely as to his reasons for
believing in the existence of the precious metals near that particular
spot; but the fellow maintained an obstinate mystery in his answers.
He asserted that he had the best of reasons for what he did, and
inquired of the judge what portion of the profits would fall to his
own share, in the event of success, with an earnestness that proved
his faith. After spending an hour near the place, examining the
stones, and searching for the usual indications of the proximity of
ore, the Judge remounted and suffered his cousin to lead the way to
the place where the mysterious trio had been making their excavation.

The spot chosen by Jotham was on the back of the mountain that
overhung the hut of Leather-Stocking, and the place selected by Natty
and his companions was on the other side of the same hill, but above
the road, and, of course, in an opposite direction to the route taken
by the ladies in their walk.

“We shall be safe in approaching the place now,” said Richard, while
they dismounted and fastened their horses; “for I took a look with the
glass, and saw John and Leather-Stocking in their canoe fishing before
we left home, and Oliver is in the same pursuit; but these may be
nothing but shams to blind our eye; so we will be expeditious, for it
would not be pleasant to be caught here by them.”

“Not on my own land?” said Marmaduke sternly. “If it be as you
suspect, I will know their reasons for making this excavation.”

“Mum,” said Richard, laying a finger on his lip, and leading the way
down a very difficult descent to a sort of natural cavern, which was
found in the face of the rock, and was not unlike a fireplace in
shape. In front of this place lay a pile of earth, which had
evidently been taken from the recess, and part of which was yet fresh.
An examination of the exterior of the cavern left the Judge in doubt
whether it was one of Nature’s frolics that had thrown it into that
shape, or whether it had been wrought by the hands of man, at some
earlier period. But there could be no doubt that the whole of the
interior was of recent formation, and the marks of the pick were still
visible where the soft, lead-colored rock had opposed itself to the
progress of the miners. The whole formed an excavation of about
twenty feet in width, and nearly twice that distance in depth. The
height was much greater than was required for the ordinary purposes of
experiment, but this was evidently the effect of chance, as the roof
of the cavern was a natural stratum of rock that projected many feet
beyond the base of the pile. Immediately in front of the recess, or
cave, was a little terrace, partly formed by nature, and partly by the
earth that had been carelessly thrown aside by the laborers. The
mountain fell off precipitously in front of the terrace, and the
approach by its sides, under the ridge of the rocks, was difficult and
a little dangerous. The whole was wild, rude, and apparently
incomplete; for, while looking among the bushes, the sheriff found the
very implements that had been used in the work.

When the sheriff thought that his cousin had examined the spot
sufficiently, he asked solemnly:

“Judge Temple, are you satisfied?”

“Perfectly, that there is something mysterious and perplexing in this
business. It is a secret spot, and cunningly devised, Richard; yet I
see no symptoms of ore.”

“Do you expect, sir, to find gold and silver lying like pebbles on the
surface of the earth?—dollars and dimes ready coined to your hands?
No, no—the treasure must be sought after to be won. But let them
mine; I shall countermine.”

The Judge took an accurate survey of the place, and noted in his
memorandum-book such marks as were necessary to find it again in the
event of Richard’s absence; when the cousins returned to their horses.

On reaching the highway they separated, the sheriff to summon twenty-
four “good men and true,” to attend as thc inquest of the county, on
the succeeding Monday, when Marmaduke held his stated court of “common
pleas and general sessions of the peace,” and the Judge to return,
musing deeply on what he had seen and heard in the course of the

When the horse of the latter reached the spot where the highway fell
toward the valley, the eye of Marmaduke rested, it is true, on the
same scene that had, ten minutes before, been so soothing to the
feelings of his daughter and her friend, as they emerged from the
forest; but it rested in vacancy. He threw the reins to his sure
footed beast, and suffered the animal to travel at his own gait, while
he soliloquized as follows:

“There may be more in this than I at first supposed. I have suffered
my feelings to blind my reason, in admitting an unknown youth in this
manner to my dwelling; yet this is not the land of suspicion. I will
have Leather-Stocking before me, and, by a few direct questions,
extract the truth from the simple old man.”

At that instant the Judge caught a glimpse of the figures of Elizabeth
and Louisa, who were slowly descending the mountain, short distance
before him. He put spurs to his horse, and riding up to them,
dismounted, and drove his steed along the narrow path. While the
agitated parent was listening to the vivid description that his
daughter gave of her recent danger, and her unexpected escape, all
thoughts of mines, vested rights, and examinations were absorbed in
emotion; and when the image of Natty again crossed his recollection,
it was not as a law Less and depredating squatter, but as the
preserver of his child.


“The court awards it, and the law doth give it.”—Merchant of Venice.

Remarkable Pettibone, who had forgotten the wound received by her
pride, in contemplation of the ease and comforts of her situation, and
who still retained her station in the family of judge Temple, was
dispatched to the humble dwelling which Richard already styled “The
Rectory,” in attendance on Louisa, who was soon consigned to the arms
of her father.

In the mean time, Marmaduke and his daughter were closeted for more
than an hour, nor shall we invade the sanctuary of parental love, by
relating the conversation. When the curtain rises on the reader, the
Judge is seen walking up and down the apartment, with a tender
melancholy in his air, and his child reclining on a settee, with a
flushed cheek, and her dark eyes seeming to float in crystals.

“It was a timely rescue! it was, indeed, a timely rescue, my child!”
cried the Judge. “Then thou didst not desert thy friend, my noble

“I believe I may as well take the credit of fortitude,” said
Elizabeth, “though I much doubt if flight would have availed me
anything, had I even courage to execute such an intention. But I
thought not of the expedient.”

“Of what didst thou think, love? where did thy thoughts dwell most, at
that fearful moment?”

“The beast! the beast!” cried Elizabeth, veiling her face with her
hand. “Oh! I saw nothing, I thought of nothing but the beast. I
tried to think of better things, but the horror was too glaring, the
danger too much before my eyes.”

“Well, well, thou art safe, and we will converse no more on the
unpleasant subject. I did not think such an animal yet remained in
our forests; but they will stray far from their haunts when pressed by
hunger, and—”

A loud knocking at the door of the apartment interrupted what he was
about to utter, and he bid the applicant enter. The door was opened
by Benjamin, who came in with a discontented air, as if he felt that
he had a communication to make that would be out of season.

“Here is Squire Doolittle below, sir,” commenced the major-domo. “He
has been standing off and on in the door-yard for the matter of a
glass; and he has summat on his mind that he wants to heave up, d’ye
see; but I tells him, says I, man, would you be coming aboard with
your complaints, said I, when the judge has gotten his own child, as
it were, out of the jaws of a lion? But damn the bit of manners has
the fellow, any more than if he was one of them Guineas down in the
kitchen there; and so as he was sheering nearer, every stretch he made
toward the house, I could do no better than to let your honor know
that the chap was in the offing.”

“He must have business of importance,” said Marmaduke: “something in
relation to his office, most probably, as the court sits so shortly.”

“Ay, ay, you have it, sir,” cried Benjamin; “it’s summat about a
complaint that he has to make of the old Leather-Stocking, who, to my
judgment, is the better man of the two. It’s a very good sort of a
man is this Master Bumppo, and he has a way with a spear, all the same
as if he was brought up at the bow-oar of the captain’s barge, or was
born with a boat-hook in his hand.”

“Against the Leather-Stocking!” cried Elizabeth, rising from her
reclining posture.

“Rest easy, my child; some trifle, I pledge you; I believe I am
already acquainted with its import Trust me, Bess, your champion shall
be safe in my care. Show Mr. Doolittle in, Benjamin”

Miss Temple appeared satisfied with this assurance, but fastened her
dark eyes on the person of the architect, who profited by the
permission, and instantly made his appearance.

All the impatience of Hiram seemed to vanish the instant he entered
the apartment. After saluting the Judge and his daughter, he took the
chair to which Marmaduke pointed, and sat for a minute, composing his
straight black hair, with a gravity of demeanor that was in tended to
do honor to his official station. At length he said:

“It’s likely, from what I hear, that Miss Temple had a narrow chance
with the painters, on the mountain.”

Marmaduke made a gentle inclination of his head, by way of assent, but
continued silent.

“I s’pose the law gives a bounty on the scalps,” continued Hiram, “in
which case the Leather-Stocking will make a good job on’t.”

“It shall be my care to see that he is rewarded,” returned the Judge.

“Yes, yes, I rather guess that nobody hereabouts doubts the Judge’s
generosity. Does he know whether the sheriff has fairly made up his
mind to have a reading desk or a deacon’s pew under the pulpit?”
“I have not heard my cousin speak on that subject, lately,” replied
“I think it’s likely that we will have a pretty dull court on't, from
what I can gather. I hear that Jotham Riddel and the man who bought
his betterments have agreed to leave their difference to men, and I
don’t think there’ll be more than two civil cases in the calendar.”

“I am glad of it,” said the judge; “nothing gives me more pain than to
see my settlers wasting their time and substance in the unprofitable
struggles of the law. I hope it may prove true, sir.”

“I rather guess ‘twill be left out to men,” added Hiram, with an air
equally balanced between doubt and assurance, but which judge Temple
understood to mean certainty; “I some think that I am appointed a
referee in the case myself; Jotham as much as told me that he should
take me. The defendant, I guess, means to take Captain Hollister, and
we two have partly agreed on Squire Jones for the third man.”

“Are there any criminals to be tried?” asked Marmaduke.

“There's the counterfeiters,” returned the magistrate, “as they were
caught in the act, I think it likely that they’ll be indicted, in
which case it’s probable they’ll be tried.”

“Certainly, sir; I had forgotten those men. There are no more, I
“Why, there is a threaten to come forward with an assault that
happened at the last independence day; but I’m not sartain that the
law'll take hold on’t. There was plaguey hard words passed, but
whether they struck or not I haven’t heard. There’s some folks talk
of a deer or two being killed out of season, over on the west side of
the Patent, by some of the squatters on the ‘Fractions.’”

“Let a complaint be made, by all means,” said the Judge; “I am
determined to see the law executed to the letter, on all such

“Why, yes, I thought the judge was of that mind; I came partly on such
a business myself.”

“You!” exclaimed Marmaduke, comprehending in an instant how completely
he had been caught by the other’s cunning; “and what have you to say,

“I some think that Natty Bumppo has the carcass of a deer in his hut
at this moment, and a considerable part of my business was to get a
search-warrant to examine.”

“You think, sir! do you know that the law exacts an oath, before I can
issue such a precept? The habitation of a citizen is not to be idly
invaded on light suspicion.”

“I rather think I can swear to it myself,” returned the immovable
Hiram; “and Jotham is in the street, and as good as ready to come in
and make oath to the same thing.”

“Then issue the warrant thyself; thou art a magistrate, Mr. Doolittle;
why trouble me with the matter?”

“Why, seeing it’s the first complaint under the law, and knowing the
judge set his heart on the thing, I thought it best that the authority
to search should come from himself. Besides, as I’m much in the
woods, among the timber, I don’t altogether like making an enemy of
the Leather Stocking. Now, the Judge has a weight in the county that
puts him above fear.”

Miss Temple turned her face to the callous Architect as she said’ “And
what has any honest person to dread from so kind a man as Bumppo?”

“Why, it’s as easy, miss, to pull a rifle trigger on a magistrate as
on a painter. But if the Judge don’t conclude to issue the warrant, I
must go home and make it out myself.”

“I have not refused your application, sir,” said Marmaduke, perceiving
at once that his reputation for impartiality was at stake; “go into my
office, Mr. Doolittle, where I will join you, and sign the warrant.”
Judge Temple stopped the remonstrances which Elizabeth was about to
utter, after Hiram had withdrawn, by laying his hand on her mouth, and

“It is more terrible in sound than frightful in reality, my child. I
suppose that the Leather-Stocking has shot a deer, for the season is
nearly over, and you say that he was hunting with his dogs when he
came so timely to your assistance. But it will be only to examine his
cabin, and find the animal, when you can pay the penalty out of your
own pocket, Bess. Nothing short of the twelve dollars and a half will
satisfy this harpy, I perceive; and surely my reputation as judge is
worth that trifle.”

Elizabeth was a good deal pacified with this assurance, and suffered
her father to leave her, to fulfil his promise to Hiram.

When Marmaduke left his office after executing his disagreeable duty,
he met Oliver Edwards, walking up the gravelled walk in front of the
mansion-house with great strides, and with a face agitated by feeling.
On seeing judge Temple, the youth turned aside, and with a warmth in
his manner that was not often exhibited to Marmaduke, he cried:

“I congratulate you, sir; from the bottom of my soul, I congratulate
you, Judge Temple. Oh! it would have been too horrid to have
recollected for a moment! I have just left the hut, where, after
showing me his scalps, old Natty told me of the escape of the ladies,
as the thing to be mentioned last. Indeed, indeed, sir, no words of
mine can express half of what I have felt “—the youth paused a moment,
as if suddenly recollecting that he was overstepping prescribed
limits, and concluded with a good deal of embarrassment—” what I have
felt at this danger to Miss—Grant, and—and your daughter, sir,”

But the heart of Marmaduke was too much softened to admit his
cavilling at trifles, and, without regarding the confusion of the
other, he replied:

“I thank thee, thank thee, Oliver; as thou sayest, it is almost too
horrid to be remembered. But come, let us hasten to Bess, for Louisa
has already gone to the rectory.”

The young man sprang forward, and, throwing open a door, barely
permitted the Judge to precede him, when he was in the presence of
Elizabeth in a moment.

The cold distance that often crossed the demeanor of the heiress, in
her intercourse with Edwards, was now entirely banished, and two hours
were passed by the party, in the free, unembarrassed, and confiding
manner of old and esteemed friends. Judge Temple had forgotten the
suspicions engendered during his morning’s ride, and the youth and
maiden conversed, laughed, and were sad by turns, as impulse directed.

At length, Edwards, after repeating his intention to do so for the
third time, left the mansion-house to go to the rectory on a similar
errand of friendship.

During this short period, a scene was passing at the hut that
completely frustrated the benevolent intentions of Judge Temple in
favor of the Leather-Stocking, and at once destroyed the short-lived
harmony between the youth and Marmaduke.

When Hiram Doolittle had obtained his search-warrant, his first
business was to procure a proper officer to see it executed. The
sheriff was absent, summoning in person the grand inquest for the
county; the deputy who resided in the village was riding on the same
errand, in a different part of the settlement; and the regular
constable of the township had been selected for his station from
motives of charity, being lame of a leg. Hiram intended to accompany
the officer as a spectator, but he felt no very strong desire to bear
the brunt of the battle. It was, however, Saturday, and the sun was
already turning the shadows of the pines toward the east; on the
morrow the conscientious magistrate could not engage in such an
expedition at the peril of his soul and long before Monday, the
venison, and all vestiges of the death of the deer, might be secreted
or destroyed. Happily, the lounging form of Billy Kirby met his eye,
and Hiram, at all time fruitful in similar expedients, saw his way
clear at once. Jotham, who was associated in the whole business, and
who had left the mountain in consequence of a summons from his
coadjutor, but who failed, equally with Hiram, in the unfortunate
particular of nerve, was directed to summon the wood-chopper to the
dwelling of the magistrate.

When Billy appeared, he was very kindly invited to take the chair in
which he had already seated himself, and was treated in all respects
as if he were an equal.

“Judge Temple has set his heart on putting the deer law in force,”
said Hiram, after the preliminary civilities were over, “and a
complaint has been laid before him that a deer has been killed. He
has issued a search-warrant, and sent for me to get somebody to
execute it.”

Kirby, who had no idea of being excluded from the deliberative part of
any affair in which he was engaged, drew up his bushy head in a
reflecting attitude, and after musing a moment, replied by asking a
few questions,

“The sheriff has gone out of the way?”

“Not to be found.”

“And his deputy too?”

“Both gone on the skirts of the Patent.”

“But I saw the constable hobbling about town an hour ago.”

“Yes, yes,” said Hiram, with a coaxing smile and knowing nod, “but
this business wants a man—not a cripple.”

“Why,” said Billy, laughing, “ will the chap make fight?” “He’s a
little quarrelsome at times, and thinks he’s the best man in the
country at rough and tumble.”

“I heard him brag once,” said Jotham, “that there wasn’t a man ‘twixt
the Mohawk Flats and the Pennsylvany line that was his match at a
close hug.”

“Did you?” exclaimed Kirby, raising his huge frame in his seat, like a
lion stretching in his lair; “I rather guess he never felt a
Varmounter’s knuckles on his backbone-But who is the chap?”

“Why,” said Jotham, “ it’s—”

“It’s agin’ law to tell,” interrupted Hiram unless you’ll qualify to
sarve. You’d be the very man to take him, Bill, and I'll make out a
special deputation in a minute, when you will get the fees.”

“What’s the fees?” said Kirby, laying his large hand on the leaves of
a statute-book that Hiram had opened in order to give dignity to his
office, which he turned over in his rough manner, as if he were
reflecting on a subject about which he had, in truth, already decided;
“will they pay a man for a broken head?”

“They’ll be something handsome,” said Hiram.

“Damn the fees,” said Billy, again laughing—” does the fellow think
he’s the best wrestler in the county, though? what’s his inches?”

“He’s taller than you be,” said Jotham, “and one of the biggest—”

Talkers, he was about to add, but the impatience of Kirby interrupted
him. The wood-chopper had nothing fierce or even brutal in his
appearance; the character of his expression was that of good-natured
vanity. It was evident he prided himself on the powers of the
physical man, like all who have nothing better to boast of; and,
stretching out his broad hand, with the palm downward, he said,
keeping his eyes fastened on his own bones and sinews:

“Come, give us a touch of the book. I’ll swear, and you’ll see that
I’m a man to keep my oath.”

Hiram did not give the wood-chopper time to change his mind, but the
oath was administered without unnecessary delay. So soon as this
preliminary was completed, the three worthies left the house, and
proceeded by the nearest road toward the hut. They had reached the
bank of the lake, and were diverging from the route of the highway,
before Kirby recollected that he was now entitled to the privilege of
the initiated, and repeated his question as to the name of the

“Which way, which way, squire?” exclaimed the hardy wood-chopper; “I
thought it was to search a house that you wanted me, not the woods.
There is nobody lives on this side of the lake, for six miles, unless
you count the Leather-Stocking and old John for settlers. Come, tell
me the chap’s name, and I warrant me that I lead you to his clearing
by a straighter path than this, for I know every sapling that grows
within two miles of Templeton.”

“This is the way,” said Hiram, pointing forward and quickening his
step, as if apprehensive that Kirby would desert, “and Bumppo is the

Kirby stopped short, and looked from one of his companions to the
other in astonishment. He then burst into a loud laugh, and cried:

“Who? Leather-Stocking! He may brag of his aim and his rifle, for he
has the best of both, as I will own myself, for sin’ he shot the
pigeon I knock under to him; but for a wrestle! why, I would take the
creatur’ between my finger and thumb, and tie him in a bow-knot around
my neck for a Barcelony. The man is seventy, and was never anything
particular for strength.”

“He’s a deceiving man,” said Hiram, “like all the hunters; he is
stronger than he seems; besides, he has his rifle.”

“That for his rifle!” cried Billy; “he’d no more hurt me with his
rifle than he’d fly. He’s a harmless creatur’, and I must say that I
think he has as good right to kill deer as any man on the Patent.
It’s his main support, and this is a free country, where a man is
privileged to follow any calling he likes.”

“According to that doctrine,” said Jotham, “anybody may shoot a deer.”

This is the man’s calling, I tell you,” returned Kirby, “and the law
was never made for such as he.”

“The law was made for all,” observed Hiram, who began to think that
the danger was likely to fall to his own share, notwithstanding his
management; “and the law is particular in noticing parjury.”

“See here, Squire Doolittle,” said the reckless woodchopper; “I don’t
care the valie of a beetlering for you and your parjury too. But as I
have come so far, I’ll go down and have a talk with the old man, and
maybe we’ll fry a steak of the deer together.”

“Well, if you can get in peaceably, so much the better,” said the
magistrate. “To my notion, strife is very unpopular; I prefar, at all
times, clever conduct to an ugly temper.”

As the whole party moved at a great pace, they soon reached the hut,
where Hiram thought it prudent to halt on the outside of the top of
the fallen pine, which formed a chevaux-de-frise, to defend the
approach to the fortress, on the side next the village. The delay was
little relished by Kirby, who clapped his hands to his mouth, and gave
a loud halloo that brought the dogs out of their kennel, and, almost
at the same instant, the scantily-covered head of Natty from the door.

“Lie down, old fool,” cried the hunter; “do you think there’s more
painters about you?”

“Ha! Leather-Stocking, I’ve an arrand with you,” cried Kirby; “here’s
the good people of the State have been writing you a small letter, and
they’ve hired me to ride

“What would you have with me, Billy Kirby?” said Natty, stepping
across his threshold, and raising his hand over his eyes, to screen
them from the rays of the setting sun, while he took a survey of his
visitor. ‘I’ve no land to clear, and Heaven knows I would set out six
trees afore I would cut down one.—Down, Hector, I say; into your
kennel with ye.”

“Would you, old boy?” roared Billy; “then so much the better for me.
But I must do my arrand. Here’s a letter for you, Leather-Stocking.
If you can read it, it’s all well, and if you can’t, here’s Squire
Doolittle at hand, to let you know what it means. It seems you
mistook the twentieth of July for the first of August. that’s all.”

By this time Natty had discovered the lank person of Hiram, drawn up
under the cover of a high stump; and all that was complacent in his
manner instantly gave way to marked distrust and dissatisfaction. He
placed his head within the door of his hut, and said a few words in an
undertone, when he again appeared, and continued:

“I’ve nothing for ye; so away, afore the Evil One tempts me to do you
harm. I owe you no spite, Billy Kirby, and what for should you
trouble an old man who has done you no harm?”

Kirby advanced through the top of the pine, to within a few feet of
the hunter, where he seated himself on the end of a log, with great
composure, and began to examine the nose of Hector, with whom he was
familiar, from their frequently meeting in the woods, where he
sometimes fed the dog from his own basket of provisions.

“You’ve outshot me, and I’m not ashamed to say it,” said the wood-
chopper; “but I don’t owe you a grudge for that, Natty! though it
seems that you’ve shot once too often, for the story goes that you’ve
killed a buck.”

“I’ve fired but twice to-day, and both times at the painters,”
returned the Leather-Stocking; “see, here are the scalps! I was just
going in with them to the Judge’s to ask the bounty.”

While Natty was speaking, he tossed the ears to Kirby, who continued
playing with them with a careless air, holding them to the dogs, and
laughing at their movements when they scented the unusual game.

But Hiram, emboldened by the advance of the deputed constable, now
ventured to approach also, and took up the discourse with the air of
authority that became his commission. His first measure was to read
the warrant aloud, taking care to give due emphasis to the most
material parts, and concluding with the name of the Judge in very
audible and distinct tones.

“Did Marmaduke Temple put his name to that bit of paper?” said Natty,
shaking his head; “well, well, that man loves the new ways, and his
betterments, and his lands, afore his own flesh and blood. But I
won’t mistrust the gal; she has an eye like a full-grown buck! poor
thing, she didn’t choose her father, and can’t help it. I know but
little of the law, Mr. Doolittle; what is to be done, now you’ve read
your commission?”

“Oh! it’s nothing but form, Natty,” said Hiram, endeavoring to assume
a friendly aspect. “Let’s go in, and talk the thing over in reason; I
dare to say that the money can be easily found, and I partly conclude,
from what passed, that Judge Temple will pay it himself.”

The old hunter had kept a keen eye on the movements of his three
visitors, from the beginning, and had maintained his position, just
without the threshold of the cabin, with a determined manner, that
showed he was not to be easily driven from his post. When Hiram drew
nigher, as if expecting his proposition would be accepted, Natty
lifted his hand, and motioned for him to retreat.

“Haven’t I told you more than once, not to tempt me?” he said. “I
trouble no man; why can’t the law leave me to myself? Go back—go back,
and tell your Judge that he may keep his bounty; but I won’t have his
wasty ways brought into my hut.”

This offer, however, instead of appeasing the curiosity of Hiram,
seemed to inflame it the more; while Kirby cried:

“Well, that’s fair, squire; he forgives the county his demand, and the
county should forgive him the fine; it’s what I call an even trade,
and should be concluded on the spot. I like quick dealings, and
what’s fair ‘twixt man and man.”

“I demand entrance into this house,” said Hiram, summoning all the
dignity he could muster to his assistance, “in the name of the people;
and by virtue of this war rant, and of my office, and with this peace

“Stand back, stand back, squire, and don’t tempt me,” said the
Leather-Stocking, motioning him to retire, with great earnestness.

“Stop us at your peril,” continued Hiram. “Billy! Jotham! close up—I
want testimony.”

Hiram had mistaken the mild but determined air of Natty for
submission, and had already put his foot on the threshold to enter,
when he was seized unexpectedly by his shoulders, and hurled over the
little bank toward the lake, to the distance of twenty feet. The
suddenness of the movement, and the unexpected display of strength on
the part of Natty, created a momentary astonishment in his invaders,
that silenced all noises; but at the next instant Billy Kirby gave
vent to his mirth in peals of laughter, that he seemed to heave up
from his very soul.

“Well done, old stub!” he shouted; “the squire knowed you better than
I did. Come, come, here’s a green spot; take it out like men, while
Jotham and I see fair play.”

“William Kirby, I order you to do your duty,” cried Hiram, from under
the bank; “seize that man; I order you to seize him in the name of the

But the Leather-Stocking now assumed a more threatening attitude; his
rifle was in his hand, and its muzzle was directed toward the wood-

“Stand off, I bid ye,” said Natty; “you know my aim, Billy Kirby; I
don’t crave your blood, but mine and your’n both shall turn this green
grass red, afore you put foot into the hut.”

While the affair appeared trifling, the wood-chopper seemed disposed
to take sides with the weaker party; but, when the firearms were
introduced, his manner very sensibly changed. He raised his large
frame from the log, and, facing the hunter with an open front, he

“I didn’t come here as your enemy, Leather-Stocking; but I don’t value
the hollow piece of iron in your hand so much as a broken axe-helve;
so, squire, say the word, and keep within the law, and we’ll soon see
who’s the best main of the two.”

But no magistrate was to be seen! The instant the rifle was produced
Hiram and Jotham vanished; and when the wood-chopper bent his eyes
about him in surprise at receiving no answer, he discovered their
retreating figures moving toward the village at a rate that
sufficiently indicated that they had not only calculated the velocity
of a rifle-bullet, but also its probable range.

“You’ve scared the creatur’s off,” said Kirby, with great contempt
expressed on his broad features; “but you are not going to scare me;
so, Mr. Bumppo, down with your gun, or there’ll be trouble ‘twixt us.”
Natty dropped his rifle, and replied:

“I wish you no harm, Billy Kirby; but I leave it to yourself, whether
an old man’s hut is to be run down by such varmint. I won’t deny the
buck to you, Billy, and you may take the skin in, if you please, and
show it as testimony. The bounty will pay the fine, and that ought to
satisfy any man,”

“Twill, old boy, ‘twill,” cried Kirby, every- shade of displeasure
vanishing from his open brow at the peace-offering; “throw out the
hide, and that shall satisfy the law.”

Natty entered the hut, and soon reappeared, bringing with him the
desired testimonial; and the wood-chopper departed, as thoroughly
reconciled to the hunter as if nothing had happened. As he paced
along the margin of the lake he would burst into frequent fits of
laughter, while he recollected the summerset of Hiram: and, on the
whole, he thought the affair a very capital joke.

Long before Billy’ reached the village, however, the news of his
danger, and of Natty’s disrespect of the law, and of Hiram’s
discomfiture, were in circulation. A good deal was said about sending
for the sheriff; some hints were given about calling out the posse
comitatus to avenge the insulted laws; and many of the citizens were
collected, deliberating how to proceed. The arrival of Billy with the
skin, by removing all grounds for a search, changed the complexion of
things materially. Nothing now remained but to collect the fine and
assert the dignity of the people; all of which, it was unanimously
agreed, could be done as well on the succeeding Monday as on Saturday
night—a time kept sacred by large portion of the settlers.
Accordingly, all further proceedings were suspended for six-and-thirty


And dar’st thou then
To beard the lion in his den,
The Douglas in his hall “—Marmion.

The commotion was just subsiding, and the inhabitants of the village
had begun to disperse from the little groups that had formed, each
retiring to his own home, and closing his door after him, with the
grave air of a man who consulted public feeling in his exterior
deportment, when Oliver Edwards, on his return from the dwelling of
Mr. Grant, encountered the young lawyer, who is known to the reader as
Mr. Lippet. There was very little similarity in the manners or
opinions of the two; but as they both belonged to the more intelligent
class of a very small community, they were, of course, known to each
other, and as their meeting was at a point where silence would have
been rudeness, the following conversation was the result of their

“A fine evening, Mr. Edwards,” commenced the lawyer, whose
disinclination to the dialogue was, to say the least, very doubtful;
“we want rain sadly; that’s the worst of this climate of ours, it’s
either a drought or a deluge. It’s likely you’ve been used to a more
equal temperature?”

“I am a native of this State,” returned Edwards, coldly.

“Well. I’ve often heard that point disputed; but it’s so easy to get
a man naturalized, that it’s of little consequence where he was born.
I wonder what course the Judge means to take in this business of Natty
“Of Natty Bumppo!” echoed Edwards; “to what do you allude, sir?”
“Haven’t you heard!” exclaimed the other, with a look of surprise, so
naturally assumed as completely to deceive his auditor; “it may turn
out an ugly business. It seems that the old man has been out in the
hills, and has shot a buck this morning, and that, you know, is a
criminal matter in the eyes of Judge Temple.”

“Oh! he has, has he?” said Edwards, averting his face to conceal the
color that collected in his sunburnt cheek. “Well, if that be all, he
must even pay the fine.”

“It’s five pound currency,” said the lawyer; “could Natty muster so
much money at once?”

“Could he!” cried the youth. “I am not rich, Mr. Lippet; far from it—
I am poor, and I have been hoarding my salary for a purpose that lies
near my heart; but, be fore that old man should lie one hour in a
jail, I would spend the last cent to prevent it. Besides, he has
killed two panthers, and the bounty will discharge the fine many times

“Yes, yes,” said the lawyer, rubbing his hands together, with an
expression of pleasure that had no artifice about it; “we shall make
it out; I see plainly we shall make it out.”

“Make what out, sir? I must beg an explanation.”

“Why, killing the buck is but a small matter compared to what took
place this afternoon,” continued Mr. Lippet, with a confidential and
friendly air that won upon the youth, little as he liked the man. “It
seems that a complaint was made of the fact, and a suspicion that
there was venison in the hut was sworn to, all which is provided for
in the statute, when Judge Temple granted the search warrant.”

“A search-warrant!” echoed Edwards, in a voice of horror, and with a
face that should have been again averted to conceal its paleness; “and
how much did they discover? What did they see

“They saw old Bumppo’s rifle; and that is a sight which will quiet
most men’s curiosity in the woods.”

“Did they! did they!” shouted Edwards, bursting into a convulsive
laugh; “so the old hero beat them back beat them back! did he?”
The lawyer fastened his eyes in astonishment on the youth, but, as his
wonder gave way to the thoughts that were commonly uppermost in his
mind, he replied:

“It is no laughing matter, let me tell you, sir; the forty dollars of
bounty and your six months of salary will be much reduced before you
can get the matter fairly settled. Assaulting a magistrate in the
execution of his duty, and menacing a constable with firearms at the
same time, is a pretty serious affair, and is punishable with both
fine and imprisonment.”

“Imprisonment!” repeated Oliver; “imprison the Leather-Stocking! no,
no, sir; it would bring the old man to his grave. They shall never
imprison the Leather-Stocking.”

“Well, Mr. Edwards,” said Lippet, dropping all reserve from his
manner, “you are called a curious man; but if you can tell me how a
jury is to be prevented from finding a verdict of guilty, if this case
comes fairly before them, and the proof is clear, I shall acknowledge
that you know more law than I do, who have had a license in my pocket
for three years.”

By this time the reason of Edwards was getting the ascendency of his
feelings, and, as he began to see the real difficulties of the case,
he listened more readily to the conversation of the lawyer. The
ungovernable emotion that escaped the youth, in the first moments of
his surprise, entirely passed away; and, although it was still evident
that he continued to be much agitated by what he had heard, he
succeeded in yielding forced attention to the advice which the other

Notwithstanding the confused state of his mind, Oliver soon discovered
that most of the expedients of the lawyer were grounded in cunning,
and plans that required a time to execute them that neither suited his
disposition nor his necessities. After, however, giving Mr. Lippet to
under stand that he retained him in the event of a trial, an assurance
that at once satisfied the lawyer, they parted, one taking his course
with a deliberate tread in the direction of the little building that
had a wooden sign over its door, with “Chester Lippet, Attorney-at-
law,” painted on it; and the other pacing over the ground with
enormous strides toward the mansion-house. We shall take leave of the
attorney for the present, and direct the attention of the reader to
the client.

When Edwards entered the hall, whose enormous doors were opened to the
passage of the air of a mild evening, he found Benjamin engaged in
some of his domestic avocations, and in a hurried voice inquired where
Judge Temple was to be found.

Why, the Judge has stepped into his office, with that master
carpenter, Mister Doolittle; but Miss Lizzy is in that there parlor.
I say, Master Oliver, we’d like to have had a bad job of that panther,
or painter’s work— some calls it one, and some calls it t’other—but I
know little of the beast, seeing that it is not of British growth. I
said as much as that it was in the hills the last winter for I heard
it moaning on the lake shore one evening in the fall, when I was
pulling down from the fishing-point in the skiff. Had the animal come
into open water, where a man could see where and how to work his
vessel, I would have engaged the thing myself; but looking aloft among
the trees is all the same to me as standing on the deck of one ship,
and looking at another vessel’s tops. I never can tell one rope from

“Well, well,” interrupted Edwards; “I must see Miss Temple.”

“And you shall see her, sir,” said the steward; “she’s in this here
room. Lord, Master Edwards, what a loss she’d have been to the Judge!
Dam’me if I know where he would have gotten such another daughter;
that is, full grown, d’ye see. I say, sir, this Master Bumppo is a
worthy man, and seems to have a handy way with him, with firearms and
boat-hooks. I’m his friend, Master Oliver, and he and you may both
set me down as the same.”

“We may want your friendship, my worthy fellow,” cried Edwards,
squeezing his hand convulsively; “we may want your friendship, in
which case you shall know it.”

Without waiting to hear the earnest reply that Benjamin meditated, the
youth extricated himself from the vigorous grasp of the steward, and
entered the parlor.

Elizabeth was alone, and still reclining on the sofa, where we last
left her. A hand, which exceeded all that the ingenuity of art could
model, in shape and color, veiled her eyes; and the maiden was sitting
as if in deep communion with herself. Struck by the attitude and
loveliness of the form that met his eye, the young man checked his
impatience, and approached her with respect and caution.

“Miss Temple—Miss Temple,” he said, “I hope I do not intrude; but I am
anxious for an interview, if it be only for a moment.”

Elizabeth raised her face, and exhibited her dark eyes swimming in

Is it you, Edwards?” she said, with a sweetness in her voice, and a
softness in her air, that she often used to her father, but which,
from its novelty to himself, thrilled on every nerve of the youth;
“how left you our poor Louisa?”

“She is with her father, happy and grateful,” said Oliver, “ I never
witnessed more feeling than she manifested, when I ventured to express
my pleasure at her escape. Miss Temple, when I first heard of your
horrid situation, my feelings were too powerful for utterance; and I
did not properly find my tongue, until the walk to Mr. Grant’s had
given me time to collect myself. I believe—I do believe, I acquitted
myself better there, for Miss Grant even wept at my silly speeches.”
For a moment Elizabeth did not reply, but again veiled her eyes with
her hand. The feeling that caused the action, however, soon passed
away, and, raising her face again to his gaze, she continued with a

“Your friend, the Leather-Stocking, has now become my friend, Edwards;
I have been thinking how I can best serve him; perhaps you, who know
his habits and his wants so well, can tell me——”

“I can,” cried the youth, with an impetuosity that startled his
companion. “I can, and may Heaven reward you for the wish, Natty has
been so imprudent as to for get the law, and has this day killed a
deer. Nay, I believe I must share in the crime and the penalty, for I
was an accomplice throughout. A complaint has been made to your
father, and he has granted a search—”

“I know it all,” interrupted Elizabeth; “I know it all. The forms of
the law must be complied with, however; the search must be made, the
deer found, and the penalty paid. But I must retort your own
question. Have you lived so long in our family not to know us? Look
at me, Oliver Edwards. Do I appear like one who would permit the man
that has just saved her life to linger in a jail for so small a sum as
this fine? No, no, sir; my father is a judge, but he is a man and a
Christian. It is all under stood, and no harm shall follow.”

“What a load of apprehension do your declarations remove!” exclaimed
Edwards: “ He shall not be disturbed again! your father will protect
him! I have assurance, Miss Temple, that he will, and I must believe

“You may have his own, Mr. Edwards,” returned Elizabeth, “for here he
comes to make it.”

But the appearance of Marmaduke, who entered the apartment,
contradicted the flattering anticipations of his daughter. His brow
was contracted, and his manner disturbed. Neither Elizabeth nor the
youth spoke; but the Judge was allowed to pace once or twice across
the room without interruption, when he cried:

“Our plans are defeated, girl; the obstinacy of the Leather-Stocking
has brought down the indignation of the law on his head, and it is now
out of my power to avert it.”

“How? in what manner?” cried Elizabeth; “the fine is nothing surely—”

“I did not—I could not anticipate that an old, a friendless man like
him, would dare to oppose the officers of justice,” interrupted the
Judge, “I supposed that he would submit to the search, when the fine
could have been paid, and the law would have been appeased; but now he
will have to meet its rigor.”

“And what must the punishment be, sir?” asked Ed wards, struggling to
speak with firmness.

Marmaduke turned quickly to the spot where the youth had withdrawn,
and exclaimed:

“You here! I did not observe you. I know not what it will be, sir; it
is not usual for a judge to decide until he has heard the testimony,
and the jury have convicted. Of one thing, however, you may be
assured, Mr. Edwards; it shall be whatever the law demands,
notwithstanding any momentary weakness I may have exhibited, because
the luckless man has been of such eminent service to my daughter.”

“No one, I believe, doubts the sense of justice which Judge Temple
entertains!” returned Edwards bitterly.

“But let us converse calmly, sir. Will not the years, the habits,
nay, the ignorance of my old friend, avail him any thing against this

“Ought they? They may extenuate, but can they ac quit? Would any
society be tolerable, young man, where the ministers of justice are to
be opposed by men armed with rifles? Is it for this that I have tamed
the wilder ness?”

“Had you tamed the beasts that so lately threatened the life of Miss
Temple, sir, your arguments would apply better.”

“Edwards!” exclaimed Elizabeth.

“Peace, my child,” interrupted the father; “ the youth is unjust; but
I have not given him cause. I overlook thy remark, Oliver, for I know
thee to be the friend of Natty, and zeal in his behalf has overcome
thy discretion,”

“Yes, he is my friend,” cried Edwards, “and I glory in the title. He
is simple, unlettered, even ignorant; prejudiced, perhaps, though I
feel that his opinion of the world is too true; but he has a heart,
Judge Temple, that would atone for a thousand faults; he knows his
friends, and never deserts them, even if it be his dog.”

“This is a good character, Mr. Edwards,” returned Marmaduke, mildly;
“but I have never been so fortunate as to secure his esteem, for to me
he has been uniformly repulsive; yet I have endured it, as an old
man’s whim, However, when he appears before me, as his judge, he shall
find that his former conduct shall not aggravate, any more than his
recent services shall extenuate, his crime.”

“Crime!” echoed Edwards: “is it a crime to drive a prying miscreant
from his door? Crime! Oh, no, sir; if there be a criminal involved in
this affair, it is not he.”

“And who may it be, sir?” asked Judge Temple, facing the agitated
youth, his features settled to their usual composure.

This appeal was more than the young man could bear. Hitherto he had
been deeply agitated by his emotions; but now the volcano burst its

“Who! and this to me!” he cried; “ask your own conscience, Judge
Temple. Walk to that door, sir, and look out upon the valley, that
placid lake, and those dusky mountains, and say to your own heart, if
heart you have, whence came these riches, this vale, those hills, and
why am I their owner? I should think, sir, that the appearance of
Mohegan and the Leather-Stocking, stalking through the country,
impoverished and forlorn, would wither your sight.”

Marmaduke heard this burst of passion, at first, with deep amazement;
but when the youth had ended, he beckoned to his impatient daughter
for silence, and replied:

“Oliver Edwards, thou forgettest in whose presence thou standest. I
have heard, young man, that thou claimest descent from the native
owners of the soil; but surely thy education has been given thee to no
effect, if it has not taught thee the validity of the claims that have
transferred the title to the whites. These lands are mine by the very
grants of thy ancestry, if thou art so descended; and I appeal to
Heaven for a testimony of the uses I have put them to. After this
language, we must separate. I have too long sheltered thee in my
dwelling; but the time has arrived when thou must quit it. Come to my
office, and I will discharge the debt I owe thee. Neither shall thy
present intemperate language mar thy future fortunes, if thou wilt
hearken to the advice of one who is by many years thy senior.”

The ungovernable feeling that caused the violence of the youth had
passed away, and he stood gazing after the retiring figure of
Marmaduke, with a vacancy in his eye that denoted the absence of his
mind. At length he recollected himself, and, turning his head slowly
around the apartment, he beheld Elizabeth, still seated on the sofa,
but with her head dropped on her bosom, and her face again concealed
by her hands.

“Miss Temple,” he said—all violence had left his manner—” Miss Temple—
I have forgotten myself—forgotten you. You have heard what your
father has decreed, and this night I leave here. With you, at least,
I would part in amity.”

Elizabeth slowly raised her face, across which a momentary expression
of sadness stole; but as she left her seat, her dark eyes lighted with
their usual fire, her cheek flushed to burning, and her whole air
seemed to belong to another nature.

“I forgive you, Edwards, and my father will forgive you,” she said,
when she reached the door. “You do not know us, but the time may come
when your opinions shall change—”

“Of you! never!” interrupted the youth; “I—”

“I would speak, sir, and not listen. There is something in this
affair that I do not comprehend; but tell the Leather-Stocking he has
friends as well as judges in us. Do not let the old man experience
unnecessary uneasiness at this rupture. It is impossible that you
could increase his claims here; neither shall they be diminished by
any thing you have said. Mr. Edwards, I wish you happiness, and
warmer friends,”

The youth would have spoken, but she vanished from the door so
rapidly, that when he reached the hall her form was nowhere to be
seen. He paused a moment, in stupor, and then, rushing from the
house, instead of following Marmaduke in his “office,” he took his way
directly for the cabin of the hunters.


“Who measured earth, described the starry spheres,
And traced the long records of lunar years. “—Pope.

Richard did not return from the exercise of his official duties until
late in the evening of the following day. It had been one portion of
his business to superintend the arrest of part of a gang of
counterfeiters, that had, even at that early period, buried themselves
in the woods, to manufacture their base coin, which they afterward
circulated from one end of the Union to the other. The expedition had
been completely successful, and about midnight the sheriff entered the
village, at the head of a posse of deputies and constables, in the
centre of whom rode, pinioned, four of the malefactors. At the gate
of the mansion-house they separated, Mr. Jones directing his assist
ants to proceed with their charge to the county jail, while he pursued
his own way up the gravel walk, with the kind of self-satisfaction
that a man of his organization would feel, who had really for once
done a very clever thing.

“Holla! Aggy!” shouted the sheriff, when he reached the door; “where
are you, you black dog? will you keep me here in the dark all night?
Holla! Aggy! Brave! Brave! hoy, hoy—where have you got to, Brave? Off
his watch! Everybody is asleep but myself! Poor I must keep my eyes
open, that others may sleep in safety. Brave! Brave! Well, I will say
this for the dog, lazy as he’s grown, that it is the first time I ever
knew him to let any one come to the door after dark, without having a
smell to know whether it was an honest man or not. He could tell by
his nose, almost as well as I could myself by looking at them. Holla!
you Agamemnon! where are you? Oh! here comes the dog at last.”

By this time the sheriff had dismounted, and observed a form, which he
supposed to be that of Brave, slowly creeping out of the kennel; when,
to his astonishment, it reared itself on two legs instead of four, and
he was able to distinguish, by the starlight, the curly head and dark
visage of the negro.

“Ha! what the devil are you doing there, you black rascal?” he cried.
“Is it not hot enough for your Guinea blood in the house this warm
night, but you must drive out the poor dog, and sleep in his straw?”

By this time the boy was quite awake, and, with a blubbering whine, he
attempted to reply to his master.

“Oh! masser Richard! masser Richard! such a ting! such a ting! I
nebber tink a could ‘appen! neber tink he die! Oh, Lor-a-gor! ain’t
bury—keep ‘em till masser Richard get back—got a grabe dug—”
Here the feelings of the negro completely got the mastery, and,
instead of making any intelligible explanation of the causes of his
grief, he blubbered aloud.

“Eh! what! buried! grave! dead!” exclaimed Richard, with a tremor in
his voice; “nothing serious? Nothing has happened to Benjamin, I hope?
I know he has been bilious, but I gave him—”

“Oh, worser ‘an dat! worser ‘an dat!” sobbed the negro. “ Oh! de Lor!
Miss 'Lizzy an’ Miss Grant—walk—mountain—poor Bravy ‘—kill a lady—
painter-—Oh, Lor, Lor!—Natty Bumppo—tare he troat open—come a see,
masser Richard—here he be—here he be.”

As all this was perfectly inexplicable to the sheriff, he was very
glad to wait patiently until the black brought a lantern from the
kitchen, when he followed Aggy to the kennel, where he beheld poor
Brave, indeed, lying in his blood, stiff and cold, but decently
covered with the great coat of the negro. He was on the point of
demanding an explanation; but the grief of the black, who had fallen
asleep on his voluntary watch, having burst out afresh on his waking,
utterly disqualified the lad from giving one. Luckily, at this moment
the principal door of the house opened, and the coarse features of
Benjamin were thrust over the threshold, with a candle elevated above
them, shedding its dim rays around in such a manner as to exhibit the
lights and shadows of his countenance. Richard threw his bridle to
the black, and, bidding him look to the horse, he entered the hall.
What is the meaning of the dead dog?” he cried.

“Where is Miss Temple?”

Benjamin made one of his square gestures, with the thumb of his left
hand pointing over his right shoulder, as he answered:

“Turned in.”

“Judge Temple—where is he?”

“In his berth.”

“But explain; why is Brave dead? and what is the cause of Aggy’s

“Why, it’s all down, squire,” said Benjamin, pointing to a slate that
lay on the table, by the side of a mug of toddy, a short pipe in which
the tobacco was yet burning, and a prayer-book.

Among the other pursuits of Richard, he had a passion to keep a
register of all passing events; and his diary, which was written in
the manner of a journal, or log. book, embraced not only such
circumstances as affected himself, but observations on the weather,
and all the occurrences of the family, and frequently of the village.
Since his appointment to the office of sheriff and his consequent
absences from home, he had employed Benjamin to make memoranda on a
slate, of whatever might be thought worth remembering, which, on his
return, were regularly transferred to the journal with proper
notations of the time, manner, and other little particulars. There
was, to be sure, one material objection to the clerkship of Benjamin,
which the ingenuity of no one but Richard could have overcome. The
steward read nothing but his prayer-book, and that only in particular
parts, and by the aid of a good deal of spelling, and some misnomers;
but he could not form a single letter with a pen. This would have
been an insuperable bar to journalizing with most men; but Richard
invented a kind of hieroglyphical character, which was intended to
note all the ordinary occurrences of a day, such as how the wind blew,
whether the sun shone, or whether it rained, the hours, etc. ; and
for the extraordinary, after giving certain elementary lectures on the
subject, the sheriff was obliged to trust to the ingenuity of the
major-domo. The reader will at once perceive, that it was to this
chronicle that Benjamin pointed, instead of directly answering the
sheriff’s interrogatory.

When Mr. Jones had drunk a glass of toddy, he brought forth from its
secret place his proper journal, and, seating himself by the table, he
prepared to transfer the contents of the slate to the paper, at the
same time that he appeased his curiosity. Benjamin laid one hand on
the back of the sheriff's chair, in a familiar manner, while he kept
the other at liberty to make use of a forefinger, that was bent like
some of his own characters, as an index to point out his meaning.

The first thing referred to by the sheriff was the diagram of a
compass, cut in one corner of the slate for permanent use. The
cardinal points were plainly marked on it, and all the usual divisions
were indicated in such a manner that no man who had ever steered a
ship could mistake them.

“Oh!” said the sheriff, seating himself down comfort ably in his
chair, “you’d the wind southeast, I see, all last night I thought it
would have blown up rain.”

“Devil the drop, sir,” said Benjamin; “I believe that the scuttle-butt
up aloft is emptied, for there hasn’t so much water fell in the
country for the last three weeks as would float Indian John’s canoe,
and that draws just one inch nothing, light.”

“Well but didn’t the wind change here this morning? there was a change
where I was.”

“To be sure it did, squire; and haven’t I logged it as a shift of

“I don’t see where, Benjamin—”

“Don’t see!” interrupted the steward, a little crustily; “ain’t there
a mark agin’ east-and-by-nothe-half-nothe, with summat like a rising
sun at the end of it, to show ‘twas in the morning watch?”

“Yes, yes, that is very legible; but where is the change noted?”

“Where! why doesn’t it see this here tea-kettle, with a mark run from
the spout straight, or mayhap a little crooked or so, into west-and-
by-southe-half-southe? now I call this a shift of wind, squire. Well,
do you see this here boar’s head that you made for me, alongside of
the compass—”

“Ay, ay—Boreas—-—I see. Why, you’ve drawn lines from its mouth,
extending from one of your marks to the other.”

“It’s no fault of mine, Squire Dickens; ‘tis your d—d climate. The
wind has been at all them there marks this very day, and that’s all
round the compass, except a little matter of an Irishman’s hurricane
at meridium, which you’ll find marked right up and down. Now, I’ve
known a sow-wester blow for three weeks, in the channel, with a clean
drizzle, in which you might wash your face and hands without the
trouble of hauling in water from alongside.”

“Very well, Benjamin,” said the sheriff, writing in his journal; “I
believe I have caught the idea. Oh! here’s a cloud over the rising
sun—so you had it hazy in the morning?”

“Ay, ay, sir,” said Benjamin.

“Ah it’s Sunday. and here are the marks for the length of the sermon—
one, two, three, four—what! did Mr. Grant preach forty minutes?”

“Ay, summat like it; it was a good half-hour by my own glass, and then
there was the time lost in turning it, and some little allowance for
leeway in not being over-smart about it.”

“Benjamin, this is as long as a Presbyterian; you never could have
been ten minutes in turning the glass!”

“Why, do you see, Squire, the parson was very solemn, and I just
closed my eyes in order to think the better with myself, just the same
as you’d put in the dead-lights to make all snug, and when I opened
them agin I found the congregation were getting under way for home, so
I calculated the ten minutes would cover the leeway after the glass
was out. It was only some such matter as a cat’s nap.”

“Oh, ho! Master Benjamin, you were asleep, were you? but I’ll set down
no such slander against an orthodox divine.” Richard wrote twenty-nine
minutes in his journal, and continued: “Why, what’s this you’ve got
opposite ten o’clock A.M.? A full moon! had you a moon visible by day?
I have heard of such portents before now, but—eh! what’s this
alongside of it? an hour-glass?”

“That!” said Benjamin, looking coolly over the sheriff’s shoulder, and
rolling the tobacco about in his mouth with a jocular air; “why,
that’s a small matter of my own. It’s no moon, squire, but only Betty
Hollister’s face; for, dye see, sir, hearing all the same as if she
had got up a new cargo of Jamaiky from the river, I called in as I was
going to the church this morning—ten A.M. was it?—just the time—and
tried a glass; and so I logged it, to put me in mind of calling to pay
her like an honest man.”

“That was it, was it?” said the sheriff, with some displeasure at this
innovation on his memoranda; “and could you not make a better glass
than this? it looks like a death’s-head and an hour-glass.”

“Why, as I liked the stuff, squire,” returned the steward, “I turned
in, homeward bound, and took t’other glass, which I set down at the
bottom of the first, and that gives the thing the shape it has. But
as I was there again to-night, and paid for the three at once, your
honor may as well run the sponge over the whole business.”

“I will buy you a slate for your own affairs, Benjamin,” said the
sheriff; “I don’t like to have the journal marked over in this

“You needn’t—you needn’t, squire; for, seeing that I was likely to
trade often with the woman while this barrel lasted. I’ve opened a
fair account with Betty, and she keeps her marks on the back of her
bar-door, and I keeps the tally on this here bit of a stick.”
As Benjamin concluded he produced a piece of wood, on which five very
large, honest notches were apparent. The sheriff cast his eyes on
this new ledger for a moment, and continued:

“What have we here! Saturday, two P.M.—Why here’s a whole family
piece! two wine-glasses upside-down!”

“That’s two women; the one this a-way is Miss ‘Lizzy, and t’other is
the parson’s young‘un.”

“Cousin Bess and Miss Grant!” exclaimed the sheriff, in amazement;
“what have they to do with my journal?”

“They’d enough to do to get out of the jaws of that there painter or
panther,” said the immovable steward. “This here thingumy, squire,
that maybe looks summat like a rat, is the beast, d’ye see; and this
here t’other thing, keel uppermost, is poor old Brave, who died nobly,
all the same as an admiral fighting for his king and country; and that

“Scarecrow,” interrupted Richard.

“Ay, mayhap it do look a little wild or so,” continued the steward;
“but to my judgment, squire, it’s the best image I’ve made, seeing
it’s most like the man himself; well, that’s Natty Bumppo, who shot
this here painter, that killed that there dog, who would have eaten or
done worse to them here young ladies.”

“And what the devil does all this mean?” cried Richard, impatiently.

“Mean!” echoed Benjamin; “it is as true as the Boadishey’s log book—”
He was interrupted by the sheriff, who put a few direct questions to
him, that obtained more intelligible answers, by which means he became
possessed of a tolerably correct idea of the truth, When the wonder,
and we must do Richard the justice to say, the feelings also, that
were created by this narrative, had in some degree subsided, the
sheriff turned his eyes again on his journal, where more inexplicable
hieroglyphics met his view.

“What have we here?” he cried; “two men boxing! Has there been a
breach of the peace? Ah, that’s the way, the moment my back is turned—

“That’s the Judge and young Master Edwards,” interrupted the steward,
very cavalierly.

“How! ‘Duke fighting with Oliver! what the devil has got into you all?
More things have happened within the last thirty-six hours than in the
preceding six months.”
“Yes, it’s so indeed, squire,” returned the steward
“I’ve known a smart chase, and a fight at the tail of it”, where less
has been logged than I’ve got on that there slate. Howsomnever, they
didn’t come to facers, only passed a little jaw fore and aft.”

“Explain! explain!” cried Richard; “it was about the mines, ha! Ay,
ay, I see it, I see it; here is a man with a pick on his shoulder. So
you heard it all, Benjamin?”

“Why, yes, it was about their minds, I believe, squire, returned the
steward; “and, by what I can learn, they spoke them pretty plainly to
one another. Indeed, I may say that I overheard a small matter of it
myself, seeing that the windows was open, and I hard by. But this
here is no pick. but an anchor on a man’s shoulder; and here’s the
other fluke down his back, maybe a little too close, which signifies
that the lad has got under way and left his moorings.”

“Has Edwards left the house?”

“He has.”

Richard pursued this advantage; and, after a long and close
examination, he succeeded in getting out of Benjamin all that he
knew, not only concerning the misunderstanding, but of the attempt to
search the hut, and Hiram’s discomfiture. The sheriff was no sooner
possessed of these facts, which Benjamin related with all possible
tenderness to the Leather-Stocking, than, snatching up his hat, and
bidding the astonished steward secure the doors and go to his bed, he
left the house.

For at least five minutes, after Richard disappeared, Benjamin stood
with his arms akimbo, and his eyes fastened on the door; when, having
collected his astonished faculties, he prepared to execute the orders
he had received.

It has been already said that the “court of common pleas and general
sessions of the peace,” or, as it is commonly called, the “county
court,” over which Judge Temple presided, held one of its stated
sessions on the following morning. The attendants of Richard were
officers who had come to the village, as much to discharge their usual
duties at this court, as to escort the prisoners and the sheriff knew
their habits too well, not to feel confident that he should find most,
if not all of them, in the public room of the jail, discussing the
qualities of the keeper’s liquors. Accordingly he held his way
through the silent streets of the village, directly to the small and
insecure building that contained all the unfortunate debt ors and some
of the criminals of the county, and where justice was administered to
such unwary applicants as were so silly as to throw away two dollars
in order to obtain one from their neighbors. The arrival of four
malefactors in the custody of a dozen officers was an event, at that
day, in Templeton; and, when the sheriff reached the jail, he found
every indication that his subordinates in tended to make a night of

The nod of the sheriff brought two of his deputies to the door, who in
their turn drew off six or seven of the constables. With this force
Richard led the way through the village, toward the bank of the lake,
undisturbed by any noise, except the barking of one or two curs, who
were alarmed by the measured tread of the party, and by the low
murmurs that ran through their own numbers, as a few cautious
questions and answers were exchanged, relative to the object of their
expedition. When they had crossed the little bridge of hewn logs that
was thrown over the Susquehanna, they left the highway, and struck
into that field which had been the scene of the victory over the
pigeons. From this they followed their leader into the low bushes of
pines and chestnuts which had sprung up along the shores of the lake,
where the plough had not succeeded the fall of the trees, and soon
entered the forest itself. Here Richard paused and collected his
troop around him.

“I have required your assistance, my friends,” he cried, in a low
voice, “in order to arrest Nathaniel Bumppo, commonly called the
Leather-Stocking He has assaulted a magistrate, and resisted the
execution of a search-war rant, by threatening the life of a constable
with his rifle. In short, my friends, he has set an example of
rebellion to the laws, and has become a kind of outlaw. He is
suspected of other misdemeanors and offences against private rights;
and I have this night taken on myself. by the virtue of my office as
sheriff, to arrest the said Bumppo, and bring him to the county jail,
that he may be present and forthcoming to answer to these heavy
charges before the court to-morrow morning. In executing this duty,
friends and fellow-citizens, you are to use courage and discretion;
courage, that you may not be daunted by any lawless attempt that this
man may make with his rifle and his dogs to oppose you; and
discretion, which here means caution and prudence, that he may not
escape from this sudden attack—and for other good reasons that I need
not mention. You will form yourselves in a complete circle around his
hut, and at the word ‘advance,’ called aloud by me, you will rush
forward and, without giving the criminal time for deliberation, enter
his dwelling by force, and make him your prisoner. Spread yourselves
for this purpose, while I shall descend to the shore with a deputy, to
take charge of that point; and all communications must be made
directly to me, under the bank in front of the hut, where I shall
station myself and remain, in order to receive them.”

This speech, which Richard had been studying during his walk, had the
effect that all similar performances produce, of bringing the dangers
of the expedition immediately before the eyes of his forces. The men
divided, some plunging deeper into the forest, in order to gain their
stations without giving an alarm, and others Continuing to advance, at
a gait that would allow the whole party to go in order; but all
devising the best plan to repulse the attack of a dog, or to escape a
rifle-bullet. It was a moment of dread expectation and interest.

When the sheriff thought time enough had elapsed for the different
divisions of his force to arrive at their stations, he raised his
voice in the silence of the forest, and shouted the watchword. The
sounds played among the arched branches of the trees in hollow
cadences; but when the last sinking tone was lost on the ear, in place
of the expected howls of the dogs, no other noises were returned but
the crackling of torn branches and dried sticks, as they yielded
before the advancing steps of the officers. Even this soon ceased, as
if by a common consent, when the curiosity and impatience of the
sheriff getting the complete ascendency over discretion, he rushed up
the bank, and in a moment stood on the little piece of cleared
ground in front of the spot where Natty had so long lived, To his
amazement, in place of the hut he saw only its smouldering ruins.

The party gradually drew together about the heap of ashes and the ends
of smoking logs; while a dim flame in the centre of the ruin, which
still found fuel to feed its lingering life, threw its pale light,
flickering with the passing currents of the air, around the circle—now
showing a face with eyes fixed in astonishment, and then glancing to
another countenance, leaving the former shaded in the obscurity of
night. Not a voice was raised in inquiry, nor an exclamation made in
astonishment. The transition from excitement to disappointment was
too powerful for Speech; and even Richard lost the use of an organ
that was seldom known to fail him.

The whole group were yet in the fullness of their surprise, when a
tall form stalked from the gloom into the circle, treading down the
hot ashes and dying embers with callous feet; and, standing over the
light, lifted his cap, and exposed the bare head and weather-beaten
features of the Leather-Stocking. For a moment he gazed at the dusky
figures who surrounded him, more in sorrow than in anger before he

“What would ye with an old and helpless man?” he said, “You’ve driven
God’s creatur’s from the wilder ness, where His providence had put
them for His own pleasure; and you’ve brought in the troubles and
diviltries of the law, where no man was ever known to disturb another.
You have driven me, that have lived forty long years of my appointed
time in this very spot, from my home and the shelter of my head, lest
you should put your wicked feet and wasty ways in my cabin. You’ve
driven me to burn these logs, under which I’ve eaten and drunk—the
first of Heaven’s gifts, and the other of the pure springs—for the
half of a hundred years; and to mourn the ashes under my feet, as a
man would weep and mourn for the children of his body. You’ve rankled
the heart of an old man, that has never harmed you or your’n, with
bitter feelings toward his kind, at a time when his thoughts should be
on a better world; and you’ve driven him to wish that the beasts of
the forest, who never feast on the blood of their own families, was
his kindred and race; and now, when he has come to see the last brand
of his hut, before it is incited into ashes, you follow him up, at
midnight, like hungry hounds on the track of a worn-out and dying
deer. What more would ye have? for I am here—one too many. I come to
mourn, not to fight; and, if it is God’s pleasure, work your will on

When the old man ended he stood, with the light glimmering around his
thinly covered head, looking earnestly at the group, which receded
from the pile with an involuntary movement, without the reach of the
quivering rays, leaving a free passage for his retreat into the
bushes, where pursuit in the dark would have been fruit less. Natty
seemed not to regard this advantage, but stood facing each individual
in the circle in succession, as if to see who would he the first to
arrest him. After a pause of a few moments Richard began to rally his
confused faculties, and, advancing, apologized for his duty, and made
him his prisoner. The party flow collected, and, preceded by the
sheriff, with Natty in their centre, they took their way toward the

During the walk, divers questions were put to the prisoner concerning
his reasons for burning the hut, and whither Mohegan had retreated;
but to all of them he observed a profound silence, until, fatigued
with their previous duties, and the lateness of the hour, the sheriff
and his followers reached the village, and dispersed to their several
places of rest, after turning the key of a jail on the aged and
apparently friendless Leather-Stocking.

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