Part 6 out of 6
Young Eagle, La-u-na was almost frantic with ecstasy. She looked
gratefully and fondly on her new friends, and pressed their hands in
turn. She seemed to be more especially fond of Mary, and repeatedly
wound her smooth and soft arms affectionately about her waist and
William led his Indian bride to the seat under the spreading green
tree, and signified a desire to commune with her alone. When seated
together on the rude bench, the maiden's hand clasped in William's,
Mary fondly kissed them both and withdrew in company with Roughgrove
and Glenn. Roughgrove prostrated himself in prayer when within the
house. Mary ran up to the top of the beetling cliff to cull flowers,
and Glenn directed his steps down the valley towards the river,
whither Joe had preceded him with the frog he had succeeded in
Glenn was met about midway by Joe, who was returning slowly, with
peculiar marks of agitation on his face. He had neither frog, rod, nor
fish in his hand.
"I thought you were fishing," remarked Glenn.
"So I am," replied Joe; "and I've had the greatest luck you ever heard
"Well, tell me your success."
"I had a bite," continued he, "in less than three minutes after I
threw in my hook. It was a wapper! When he took hold I let him play
about awhile with a slack line, to be certain and get it well fixed in
his mouth. But when I went to draw up, the monster made a splash or
two, and then whizzed out into the middle of the river!"
"Where was the hook?" asked Glenn.
"In his mouth, to be sure," replied Joe.
"And the line?"
"Fast to the rod."
"And the rod?"
"Fast to the line!" said Joe, "and following the fish at the rate of
ten knots, while I stood on the bank staring in utter astonishment."
"Then, where was your great success?" demanded Glenn.
"It was a noble _bite_," said Joe.
"But you were the _bitten_ one," remarked Glenn, scanning Joe's
visage, which began to assume a disconsolate cast.
"If I'd only been thinking about such a wapper, and had been on my
guard," said Joe, "splash me if he should ever have got my rod away in
that manner--I'd have taken a ducking first!"
"Have you no more lines?" asked Glenn.
"No," replied Joe, "none but your's."
"You are welcome to it--but be quick, and I will look on while you
have your revenge."
Joe sprang nimbly up the hill, and in a few minutes returned with
fresh tackle and another frog that he found on his way. They then
repaired to the margin of the river; but before Joe ventured to cast
out his line again he made the end of the rod fast to his wrist by
means of a strong cord he had provided for that purpose. But now his
precaution seemed to have been unnecessary, for many minutes elapsed
without any symptoms of success.
Glenn grew impatient and retired a few paces to the base of the cliff,
where he reclined in an easy posture on some huge rocks that had
tumbled down from a great height, and lay half-imbedded in the earth.
Here he long remained with his eyes fixed abstractedly on the curling
water, and meditated on the occurrence he had recently witnessed.
While his thoughts were dwelling on the singular affection and
constancy of the Indian girl, and the probable future happiness of her
young lord, his reflections more than once turned upon his _own_
condition. The simple pleasantries that had so often occurred between
Mary and himself never failed to produce many unconscious smiles on
his lips, and being reciprocated and repeated day after day with
increased delight, it was no wonder that he found himself heaving
tender sighs as he occasionally pictured her happy features in his
mind's eye. He now endeavoured to bestow some grave consideration on
the tender subject, and to think seriously about the proper mode of
conducting himself in future, when he heard the innocent maiden's
clear and inspiring voice ringing down the valley and sinking in soft
murmuring echoes on the gliding stream. Soon his quick ear caught the
words, which he recognised to be a short ballad of his own composing,
that had been written at Mary's request. He then listened in silence,
without moving from his recumbent position.
THE CRUEL MAIDEN.
She heard his prayer and sweetly smiled,
Then frown'd, and laughing fled away;
But the poor youth, e'en thus beguiled,
Still would pray.
He'd won her heart, but still she fled,
And laugh'd and mock'd from dell and peak
While his sad heart, that inward bled,
Was fit to break!
Where the bright waters lead adown
The moss-green rocks and flags among,
He paused--and on his brow a frown
A shriek came down the peaceful vale,
Full soon the maid was at his side,
Her ringlets flowing, and cheeks all pale,
A _willing_ bride!
Glenn long remained motionless after the sounds died away, as if
endeavouring to retain the soothing effect of the ringing notes that
had so sweetly reverberated along the jutting peaks of the towering
"I've got a bite!" exclaimed Joe, bending over the verge of the bank
and stretching his arms as far as possible over the water, while his
line moved about in various directions, indicating truly that a fish
had taken the hook.
"Hold fast to the rod this time, Joe," remarked Glenn, who became
interested in the scene.
"Won't I? Its tied fast to my wrist."
"Is it not time to pull him up?" asked Glenn, seeing that the fish, so
far from being conscious of peril, inclined towards the shore with the
line in quest of more food.
"Here goes!" said Joe, jerking the rod up violently with both hands.
No sooner did the fish feel the piercing hook in his mouth than he
rose to the surface, and splashing the water several feet round in
every direction, darted quickly downwards, in spite of the strenuous
efforts of Joe to the contrary.
Nevertheless, Joe entertained no fears about the result; and the fish,
as if apprized of the impossibility of capturing the rod, ran along
parallel with the shore, gradually approaching the brink of the water,
and seemingly with the intention to surrender himself at the feet of
the piscator. But this was not his purpose. When Joe made another
strong pull, in the endeavour to strand him in the shallow water, the
fish again threw up the spray (some of which reached his adversary's
face,) and, turning his head outwards, ran directly away from the
"Pull him back, Joe!" said Glenn.
"I am trying with all my might," replied Joe, "but he's so plaguy
strong he won't come, hang him!"
"He'll get away if you don't mind!" continued Glenn, evincing much
animation in his tones and gestures.
"I'll be drenched if he does!" said Joe, with his arm, to which the
rod was lashed, stretched out, while he endeavoured to plant his feet
firmly in the sand.
"He'll have you in the water--cut the rod loose from your wrist!"
cried Glenn, as Joe's foothold gave way and he was truly drawn into
"Oh, good gracious! I've got no knife! Give me your hand!" cried Joe,
vainly striving to untie the cord. "Help me! Oh, St. Peter!" he
continued, imploringly, as the fish drew him on in the water, in quick
but reluctant strides. "Oh! I'm gone!" he cried, when the water was
midway to his chin, and the fish pulling him along with increasing
"You are a good swimmer, Joe--be not alarmed, and you will not be
hurt," said Glenn, half inclined to laugh at his man's indescribable
contortions and grimaces, and apprehending no serious result.
"Ugh!" cried Joe, the water now up to his chin, and the next moment,
when in the act of making a hasty and piteous entreaty, his head
quickly dipped under the turbid surface and disappeared entirely.
Glenn now became alarmed; but, when in the act of divesting himself of
his clothing for the purpose of plunging in to his rescue, Joe rose
again some forty paces out in the current, and by the exertion of the
arm that was free he was enabled to keep his head above the water. The
current was very strong, and the fish, in endeavouring; to run up the
stream with his prize in tow, made but little headway, and a very few
minutes sufficed to prove that it was altogether unequal to the
attempt. After having progressed about six rods, Joe's head became
quite stationary like a buoy, or a cork at anchor, and then, by
degrees, was carried downward by the strong flow as the fish at length
became quite exhausted.
"Now for it, Joe--swim towards the shore with him!" cried Glenn.
"He's almost got my shoulder out of place!" replied Joe, blowing a
large quantity of water out of his mouth.
"I see his fin above the water," said Glenn; "struggle manfully, Joe,
and you will capture him yet!"
"I'll die but I'll have him now--after such a ducking as this!" said
Joe, approaching the shore with the almost inanimate fish, that was no
longer able to contend against his superior strength. When he drew
near enough to touch the bottom, he turned his head and beheld his
prize floating close behind, and obedient to his will.
It required the strength of both Glenn and Joe to drag the immense
catfish (for such it proved to be) from its native element. It was
about the length and weight of Joe, and had a mouth of sufficient
dimensions to have swallowed a man's head. It was given to the
ferrymen, who had witnessed the immersion, and were attracted thither
to render assistance.
"I suppose you have now had enough of the fish?" remarked Glenn, as
they retraced their steps homeward.
"I'll acknowledge that I'm satisfied for the present; but I was
resolved to have satisfaction!" replied Joe.
"Yes, but you have had it with a vengeance; and I doubt not that your
apparent contentment is but cold comfort," continued Glenn.
"I'm not a bit cold--I shan't change my clothes, and I'm ready for any
other sport you like," said Joe.
"If you really suffer no inconvenience from the wet--and this fine
warm day inclines me to believe you--we will take our guns and walk
out to the small lakes on the borders of the prairie."
"Splash it"--began Joe.
"No--_duck_ it," interrupted Glenn.
"Well, I should like to know exactly what you mean--whether you are in
earnest about going to the ponds, or whether you are joking me for
getting _ducked_--as there's nothing in them now to shoot but _ducks_,
and it may have popped into your head just because I had the
_ducking_," said Joe.
"I am in earnest," said Glenn; "I do not wish to annoy William, or to
meet Roughgrove and Mary until their domestic arrangements are all
"That's strange," said Joe.
"What's strange?" asked Glenn, quickly.
"Why, your not wanting to meet Miss Mary. I say it is most
mysteriously strange," replied Joe.
"Say nothing more about it, and think less," said Glenn, striding in
advance, while a smile played upon his lip.
"But I can't help dreaming about it--and my dreams all come true,"
"What have you been dreaming--but never mind--bring out the guns,"
said Glenn, pausing at the gate of the inclosure, and not venturing to
hear Joe recite the dream about himself and Mary.
When possessed of the necessary implements, they set out towards the
groves that bordered the prairie, among which were several lakes of
clear water, not more than fifty or sixty paces in diameter, where the
various wild fowl, as well as the otter and the muskrat, usually
abounded. Our hero had previously anticipated some sport of this
nature, and constructed blinds on the verge of the lakes, and cut
paths through the clustering bushes to reach them stealthily. The lake
they now approached was bounded on one side by the green meadow-like
prairie, and fringed on the other by hazel thickets, with an
occasional towering elm that had survived the autumnal fires.
The morning breeze had subsided, and a delightful calm prevailed. A
thousand wild flowers, comprising every hue, filled the air with
delicious fragrance, while no sound was heard but the melody of happy
"I think I see a duck!" whispered Joe, as they moved slowly along the
path in a stooping posture.
"Where?" asked Glenn, as they crept softly to the blind and cast their
eyes over the clear unruffled water.
"I thought I saw one on the muskrat house; but he must have gone to
the other side," responded Joe, now looking in vain for it, and
closely scanning the little hillocks that had been thrown up in the
lake by the muskrats.
"You must have been mistaken," said Glenn; "suppose we go to the other
"No, I wasn't mistaken--I'd swear to it--be quiet and keep a bright
look-out, and we'll see him again in a minute or two," replied Joe,
who stood in an attitude of readiness to fire at an instant's warning.
"What is that?" asked Glenn, just then actually observing a small
brown object moving behind the hillock.
"Wait till I see a little more of it," said Joe, with his finger on
"Don't fire, Joe! its a man's _cap_!" exclaimed Glenn, detecting under
the dark brim the large staring eyes of a human being, apparently
evincing a sense of imminent peril; and the next moment the muzzle of
a gun pointing above their heads came in view.
"Dod rot it, look up that tree!"
The smile that began to play on our hero's features on recognizing the
voice of Sneak was quickly dispelled and succeeded by horror when he
cast his eyes upward and beheld an enormous panther, stooping, and on
the eve of springing upon him!
"Oh!" exclaimed Joe, letting his gun fall, and falling down himself,
bereft alike of the power of escape and the ability to resist.
"Be quiet!" said Glenn, endeavouring to raise his gun, which had
become entangled in the bushes; but before he could execute his
purpose Sneak fired, and the ferocious animal came tumbling down
through the branches and fell at his feet.
"Ugh! Goodness!" exclaimed Joe, his hat striken down over his eyes by
the descending panther, and, leaping over the frail barrier of bushes
into the water, he plunged forward and executed a series of diving
evolutions, as if still endeavouring to elude the clutches of the
carnivorous beast, which he imagined was after him.
"Dod--come out of the pond! Its dead--didn't you hear _me_ shoot?"
said Sneak, who had by this time paddled a little canoe in which he
had been seated to the shore. But Joe continued his exercises, his
crushed hat not only depriving him of sight, but rendering him deaf to
the laughter that burst from Glenn and Sneak. Sneak ran round to the
opposite side of the lake to a point that Joe was approaching, (though
all unconscious of his destination,) and remained there till the poor
fellow pushed his half-submerged head against the grass, when he
seized him furiously and bore him a few paces from the water, in spite
of his cries and struggles.
"_I_ ain't the painter!" said Sneak, at length weary of the illusion,
and dragging Joe's hat from his head.
"Ha! hang it! ha!" cried Joe, staring at Sneak and Glenn in
bewilderment. "Where is it?" he cried, when in some degree recovered
from his great perturbation.
"Didn't you hear _me_ shoot? Of course its dead!" replied Sneak.
"Which do you prefer, Joe, _ducking_ or _fishing_?" asked Glenn.
"I never saw a feller _duck_ his head so," said Sneak.
"Ha! ha! ha! you thought I was frightened, and trying to get away from
the panther! But you were _much_ mistaken. I was chasing a muskrat--I
got wet in the river, and was determined to see--"
"You couldn't see your own nose!" interrupted Sneak.
[Illustration: He plunged forward, and executed a series of diving
"If I couldn't see, I suppose I could hear him run!" replied Joe.
"You couldn't 'ave heard thunder!" said Sneak.
"Did you ever try it?" asked Joe.
"No," replied Sneak.
"Then you don't know," replied Joe; "and now I'm ready to kill a
duck," he continued, looking up at a number of water-fowl sailing
round and awaiting their departure to dip into the water.
"I will leave you here, Joe. When you hear me fire at the other lake,
you may expect the ducks that escape me to visit you," observed Glenn,
and immediately after disappeared in the bushes.
"And I'll take the painter's hide off," said Sneak, going with Joe to
the blind, where he quietly commenced his labour, that Joe's sport
might not be interrupted.
Several flocks of geese and ducks yet flew round above, and gradually
drew nearer to the earth, but still fearful of danger and cautiously
reconnoitering the premises.
"Suppose I pink one of them on the wing?" said Joe, looking up.
"I don't believe you _kin_," said Sneak, as he tugged at the panther's
"Wait till they come round the next time, and I'll show you--so look
out," said Joe.
"I'll not look--there's no occasion for my seeing--_I'm_ not after a
muskrat," responded Sneak, stripping the skin from the animal, and
laughing at his own remark. When the ducks came round again, Joe
fired, and sure enough one of them fell--descending in a curve which
brought it directly on Sneak's cap, knocking it over his eyes.
"Dod rot it! hands off, or I'll walk into you!" exclaimed Sneak,
rising up in a hostile attitude.
"Good! that's tit for tat," cried Joe, laughing, as he loaded his gun.
"You didn't do it a purpose," said Sneak, "nor I won't jump into the
"Yes I did!" continued Joe, much pleased at the occurrence.
"You didn't do any sich thing--or we'd have to fight; but nobody could
do sich a thing only by accident. You'd better load your gun, and be
ready by the time the next comes," added Sneak, again tearing asunder
the panther's skin.
"I thought I _had_ loaded," said Joe, forgetting he had performed that
operation, and depositing another charge in his old musket.
Presently Glenn's gun was heard, and in a few minutes an immense flock
of geese and ducks, mingled together, flew over the bushes and covered
the face of the lake. Joe very deliberately fired in the midst of
them, and the rebound of his gun throwing him against Sneak, who was
still in a stooping posture, they both fell to the ground.
"I did that on purpose, I'll take my oath--I knew you had put in two
loads," said Sneak, rising up.
"Yes, but I ain't hurt--falling over you saved me, or else I'd a
thrashed you or got a thrashing," replied Joe, his good humour
recovered on beholding some fifteen or twenty dead and wounded ducks
and geese on the surface of the water. By the time he had collected
his birds, by means of Sneak's canoe, Glenn, who had met with the like
success, emerged from the bushes on the opposite verge of the lake,
bearing with him his game. Being well satisfied with the sport, he and
Joe retraced their steps homeward.
The bright morning--Sneak's visit--Glenn's heart--The snake hunt--Love
and raspberries--Joe is bitten--His terror and sufferings--Arrival
of Boone--Joe's abrupt recovery--Preparations to leave the west
The sun rose the next morning in unusual glory. Not a breath of air
stirred the entranced foliage of the dark green trees in the valleys,
and the fresh flowers around exhaled a sweet perfume that remained
stationary over them. The fawn stood perfectly still in the grassy
yard, and seemed to contemplate the grandeur of the enchanting scene.
The atmosphere was as translucent as fancy paints the realms of the
blest, and quite minute objects could be distinctly seen far over the
river many miles eastward. Nor were any sounds heard save the
occasional chattering of the paroquet in the dense forest across the
river, a mile distant, and yet they appeared to be in the immediate
vicinity. The hounds lay extended on the ground with their eyes open,
more in a listless than a watchful attitude. The kitten was couched on
the threshold (the door having been left open to admit the pure air,)
and looked thoughtfully at the rising sun. The large blue chanticleer
was balanced on one foot with an eye turned upwards as if scanning the
heavens to guard against the sudden attack of the far-seeing eagle.
Nature seemed to be indulging in a last sweet morning slumber, if
indeed not over-sleeping herself, while the sun rose stealthily up and
smiled at all her charms exposed!
"Hillo! ain't you all up yit? Git up, Joe, and feed your hosses,"
cried Sneak, approaching the gate on the outside, and thus most
unceremoniously dispelling the charm that enwrapped the premises.
"Who's there?" cried Joe, springing up and rubbing his eyes.
"It's me--dod, you know who I am. Come, open the gate and let me in."
"What's the matter, Sneak? Are the Indians after you?" said Joe,
running out, but pausing at the gate for an answer before he drew back
"No--I thought-you had sense enough by this time to know no Indians
ain't going to come this time a-year. Let me in!" added he,
"What are you doing with them long sticks?" asked Joe, opening the
gate and observing two hickory poles in Sneak's hand. "Are you going
to try your luck fishing?"
"No, nor _ducking_ nother," replied he, sarcastically.
"Plague it, Sneak," said Joe, deprecatingly, "never mind that affair;
you were mistaken about my being frightened. The next chance I get
I'll let you see that I'm not afraid of any thing."
"Well, I want you to go with me on a spree this morning that'll try
"What are you going to do?" asked Joe, with some curiosity in his
"I'm going a _snaking_," said Sneak.
At this juncture the dialogue was arrested by the appearance of Glenn,
whose brow was somewhat paler than usual, and wore an absent and
thoughtful cast; yet his abstract meditations did not seem altogether
of a painful nature.
"Joe," said he, "I want you to exercise the horses more in the
prairie. They are getting too fat and lazy. If they cannot be got on
the boat when we leave here, we will have to send them by land to St.
"Dod--you ain't a going to leave us?" cried Sneak.
"Well, I thought something was in the wind," said Joe, pondering, "but
it'll break Miss Mary's--"
"Pshaw!" replied Glenn, quickly interrupting him; "you don't know what
you are talking about."
"Well, I can't say I do exactly," said Joe; "but I know its a very
"_What_ is such a mysterious matter?" asked Glenn, smiling.
"Why, you--Miss Mary"--stammered Joe.
"Well, what is there mysterious about us?"
"Hang it, _you_ know!" replied Joe.
"Pshaw!" repeated Glenn, striding out of the inclosure, and descending
the path leading to Roughgrove's house, whither he directed Joe to
follow when he had galloped the horses.
"Have you got any licker in the house?" asked Sneak, staring at the
retreating form of Glenn.
"No--its all gone. Why do you ask?" returned Joe.
"Becaise that feller's drunk," said Sneak, with a peculiar nod.
"No he ain't--he hasn't drunk a drop for a month."
"Then he's going crazy, and you'd better keep a sharp look-out."
"I know what's the matter with him--he's in love!" said Joe.
"Then why don't he take her?" asked Sneak.
"I don't know," replied Joe; "maybe he will, some day. Now for a
ride--how are you, Pete?" he continued, opening the stable door and
rubbing the pony's head that was instantly thrust out in salutation.
"I'll ride the hoss," said Sneak.
"Will you? I'm glad of it," said Joe, "for that'll save me the trouble
of leading him."
"That's jest what I come for," said Sneak, "becaise this hot morning
the snakes are too thick to fight 'em on foot."
"Can you see many of them at a time?"
"Well, I reckon you kin."
"Won't they bite the horses?"
"No, the hosses knows what a snake is as well as a man, and they'll
keep a bright eye for 'emselves, while we stave out their brains with
our poles," said Sneak.
In a few minutes the companions were mounted, and with the fawn
skipping in advance, and the hounds in the rear, they proceeded gayly
out toward the prairie on a _snaking_ expedition.
The sunlight was now intensely brilliant, and the atmosphere, though
laden with the sweet perfume of the countless millions of wild
flowers, began to assume a sultriness that soon caused the horses and
hounds to loll out their tongues and pant as they bounded through the
rank grass. Ere long the riders drew near a partially barren spot in
the prairie, where from some singular cause the grass was not more
than three inches high. This spot was circular, about fifty paces in
diameter, and in the centre was a pool of bright water, some fifty
feet in circumference. The grass growing round this spot was tall and
luxuriant, and terminated as abruptly at the edge of the circle as if
a mower had passed along with his sharp scythe.
"Sneak, I never saw that before," said Joe, as they approached, while
yet some forty paces distant. "What does it mean?"
"You'll see presently," said his companion, grasping more firmly the
thick end of his rod, as if preparing to deal a blow. "When I was out
here this morning," he continued, "they were too thick for me, and I
had to make tracks."
"What were too thick for you?" asked Joe, with a singular anxiety, and
at the same time reining in his pony.
"Why, the _snakes_," said Sneak with much deliberation. "I was a-foot
then, and from the style in which they whizzed through the grass, I
was afraid too many might git on me at a time and choke me to death.
But now I'm ready for 'em; they can't git us if we manage korect."
"I won't go!" said Joe.
"Dod, they ain't pisen!" said Sneak; "they're nearly all _black
racers_, and they don't bite. Come on, don't be such a tarnation
coward; the rattlesnakes, and copper-heads, and wipers, won't run
after us; and if they was to, they couldn't reach up to our legs. This
is a glorious day for _snaking_--come on, Joe!"
Joe followed at a very slow and cautious pace a few steps farther, and
then halted again.
"What're you stopping for agin?" asked Sneak.
"Sneak, the pony ain't tall enough!"
"That's all the better," replied Sneak; "you can whack 'em easier as
they run--and then they can't see you as fur as they kin me. I'll swap
hosses with you."
"No you won't!" replied Joe, whipping forward again. But he had not
advanced many seconds before he drew up once more. This time he was
attracted by the unaccountable motions of the fawn, a short distance
ahead. That animal was apparently striking some object on the ground
with its feet, and ever and anon springing violently to one side or
the other. Its hair stood erect on its back, and it assumed a most
ferocious aspect. Now it would run back toward the men a moment, and,
wheeling suddenly, again leap upon the foe, when its feet could be
heard to strike against the ground; then it plunged forward, and after
making a spring beyond, would return to the attach.
"Here, Ringwood! Jowler!" cried Joe, and the hounds ran forward to the
spot pointed out to them. But no sooner had they gone far enough to
see the nature of the enemy that the fawn was attacking, than they
turned away affrighted, and with their tails hanging down retreated
from the scene of action.
They rode up and surveyed more closely the strange battle. The fawn,
becoming more and more enraged, did not suspend hostilities at their
approach. They paused involuntarily when, within a few feet of the
object, which proved to be a tremendous rattlesnake, some five feet in
length, and as thick as a man's arm. It was nearly dead, its body,
neck, and head, exhibited many bloody gashes cut by the sharp hoofs of
the fawn. Every time the fawn sprang upon it, it endeavoured in vain
to strike its fangs into its active foe, which sprang away in a
twinkling, and before it could prepare to strike again, the fatal
hoofs would inflict another wound on its devoted head. It grew weaker
and weaker, and finally turned over on its back, when the infuriated
deer, no longer compelled to observe cautionary measures, soon severed
its head entirely from the body and stood over it in triumph.
[Illustration: It grew weaker and weaker, and finally turned over on
its back.--P. 247]
"Pete can do that if a deer can!" said Joe, somewhat emboldened at the
death of so formidable a reptile, and beholding the fixed though
composed gaze of the pony as he stood with his head turned sideways
towards the weltering snake.
"Sartinly he kin," said Sneak, standing up in his stirrups, and
stretching his long neck to its utmost tension to see if any snakes
were in the open area before them.
"Do you see any, Sneak?" asked Joe, now grasping his rod and anxious
for the fray.
"I see a few--about forty, I guess, lying in the sun at the edge of
"Sneak, there's too many of them," said Joe.
"Dod--you ain't a going to back out now, I hope. Don't you see your
pony snuffing at 'em? He wants to dash right in among 'em."
"No he don't," said Joe--"he don't like the smell, nor I
"Why, it smells like May-apples--I like it," said Sneak; "but there
ain't more than one or two copper-heads there--they're most all
racers. Come on, Joe--we must gallop right through and mash their
heads with our sticks as we pass. Then after a little while we must
turn and dash back agin--that's the way to fix 'em."
"You must go before," said Joe.
The number that Sneak mentioned was not exaggerated. On the contrary,
additions were constantly made to the number. The surface of the pool
was continually agitated by the darting serpents striking at the
tadpoles and frogs, while on the margin many were writhing in various
fantastic contortions in their sports. Nearly all of them were large,
and some could not have been less than eleven feet long. They were
evidently enjoying the warm rays of the sun, and at times skipped
about with unwonted animation. Now one of the largest would elevate
his black head some four feet from the ground, while the others
wrapped themselves around him, and thus formed the dark and horrid
spectacle of a pyramid of snakes! Then falling prostrate with their
own weight, in less than a twinkling they were dispersed and flying
over the smooth short grass in every direction, their innumerable
scales all the time emitting a low buzzing sound as they ran along.
Every moment others glided into the area from the tall grass, and
those assembled thither rushed towards them in a body to manifest a
"Now's the time!" cried Sneak, rushing forward, followed by Joe. When
Joe's eyes fell upon the black mass of serpents, he made a convulsive
grasp at the reins with an involuntary resolution to retreat without
delay from such a frightful scene. But the violence of his grasp
severed the reins from the bit, and the pony sprang forward after the
steed, being no longer subject to his control! There was no retreating
now! Sneak levelled his rod at a cluster just forming in a mass two
feet above the ground, and crushed the hydra at a blow! Joe closed his
eyes, and struck he knew not what--but Sneak knew, for the blow
descended on his head--though with feeble force. In an instant the
horsemen had passed to the opposite side of the area and halted in the
tall grass. Looking back, they beheld a great commotion among the
surviving snakes. Some glided into the pool, and with bodies
submerged, elevated their heads above the surface and darted out their
tongues fiercely. Others raced round the scene of slaughter with their
heads full four feet high, or gathered about the dead and dying, and
lashed the air with their sharp tails, producing sounds like the
cracking of whips. The few copper-heads and rattlesnakes present
coiled themselves up with their heads in the centre in readiness to
strike their poison into whatever object came within their reach.
So sudden had been the onset of the horsemen that the surprised
serpents seemed to be ignorant of the nature of the foe, and instead
of flying to the long grass to avoid a recurrence of bloodshed, they
continued to glide round the pool, while their number increased every
"What'd you hit me on the head for?" asked Sneak, after regarding the
snakes a moment, and then turning to Joe, the pony having still kept
at the heels of the steed in spite of his rider's efforts to the
"Oh, Sneak," cried Joe, in tones somewhat tremulous, "do, for
goodness' sake, let us go away from here!"
"I sha'n't do any such thing--what'd you hit me on the head for?"
"I thought I was a killing a snake," replied Joe.
"Do I look like a snake?" continued Sneak, turning round, when for the
first time he discovered the condition of his companion's bridle.
"Sneak, let's ride away!" said Joe.
"And leave all them black sarpents yander poking out their tongues at
us? I won't go till I wear out this pole on 'em. Ha! ha! ha! I thought
you hadn't spunk enough to gallup through 'em on your own accord,"
said Sneak, looking at the pony, and knowing that he would follow the
steed always, if left to his own inclination.
"Come, Sneak, let's go home!" continued Joe, in a supplicating tone.
"Come! let's charge on the snakes agin!" said Sneak, raising the rod,
and fixing his feet in the stirrups.
"Hang me if I go there again!" said Joe, throwing down his rod.
"You're a tarnation coward, that's what you are! But you can't help
yourself," replied Sneak.
"I'll jump off and run!" said Joe, preparing to leap to the ground.
"You jest do now, and you'll have forty sarpents wrapped round you in
less than no time."
At that moment two or three racers swept between them with their heads
elevated as high as Joe's knees, and entered the area.
"Oh goodness!" cried Joe, drawing up his legs.
"Git down and git your pole," said Sneak.
"I wouldn't do it if it was made of gold!"
"If you say you'll fight the snakes, I'll git it for you--I'm a going
to stay here till they're all killed," continued Sneak.
"Give it to me, then--I'll smash their brains out the next time!" said
Joe, with desperate determination.
"But you musn't hit me agin!" said Sneak, dismounting and handing up
the weapon to Joe, and then leaping on the steed again.
"Sneak, you're no better than a snake, to bring me into such a scrape
as this!" said Joe, leaning forward and scanning the black mass of
serpents at the pool.
In a few minutes they whipped forward, Sneak in advance, and again
they were passing through the army of snakes. This time Joe did good
service. He massacred one of the coiled rattlesnakes at a blow, and
his pony kicked a puffing viper to atoms. Sneak paused a moment at the
pool, and dealt his blows with such rapidity that nearly all the black
racers that survived glided swiftly into the tall grass, and one of
the largest was seen by Joe to run up the trunk of a solitary blasted
tree that stood near the pool, and enter a round hole about ten feet
from the ground.
But if the serpents were mostly dispersed from the area around the
pool, they were by no means all destroyed; and when the equestrians
were again in the tall grass, they found them whizzing furiously about
the hoofs of their horses. Once or twice Sneak's horse sprang suddenly
forward in pain, being stung on the ham or shoulder by the tails of
the racers as they flew past with almost inconceivable rapidity.
"Oh! St. Peter! Sneak!" cried Joe, throwing back his head, and lifting
up his knees nearly to his chin.
"Ha! ha! ha! did one of 'em cut you, Joe? They hurt like fury, but
their tails ain't pisen. Look what a whelk they've made on the hoss."
"Sneak, why don't you get away from this nasty place! One of them shot
right over the pony's neck a while ago, and came very near hitting me
on the chin."
"You must hit 'em as they come. Yander comes one--now watch me!"
Saying this, Sneak turned the steed so as to face a tremendous racer
about forty paces distant, that was approaching with the celerity of
the wind with its head above the tall grass. When it came within reach
of his rod, he bestowed upon it a blow that entirely severed the head,
and the impetus with which it came caused the body to fly over the
steed, and falling upon the neck of the pony, with the life yet
remaining (for they are constrictors,) instantly wrapped in a half
dozen folds around it! Pete snorted aloud, and, springing forward, ran
a hundred paces with all the fleetness of which he was capable. But
being unable to shake off the terrible incumbrance, with his tongue
hanging out in agony, he turned back and ran directly for the horse.
When he came up to the steed, he pushed his head under his neck,
manifesting the greatest distress, and stamping and groaning as if
"Dod! let me git hold of him!" cried Sneak, bending forward and
seizing the snake by the tail. The long head-less body gave way
gradually, and becoming quite relaxed fell powerless and dead to the
"Oh, Sneak, let's go!" said Joe, trembling, his face having turned as
pale as death while Pete was dashing about in choking agony under the
tight folds of the serpent.
"Smash me if I go as long as there's a snake left!" replied Sneak,
striking down another huge racer; but this one, having its back
broken, remained stationary.
Thus he continued to strike down the snakes as long as any remained on
the field; and, as they became scarce, Joe grew quite valorous, and
did signal service. At length the combat ceased, and not a living
serpent could be seen running.
"Sneak, we've killed them all--huzza!" cried Joe, flourishing his rod.
"Yes, but you didn't do much--you're as big a coward as ever."
"Oh, I wasn't _afraid_ of them, Sneak," said Joe; "I was only a little
cautious, because it was the first time I ever went a snaking."
"Yes, you was mighty cautious! if your bridle hadn't broke, you'd have
been home long ago."
"Pshaw, Sneak!" said Joe; "you're much mistaken. But how many do you
think we've killed?"
"I suppose about a quarter of a cord--but I've heard tell of men's
killing a cord a day, easy."
"You don't say so! But how does it happen so many are found together?
When I go out I can never find more than a dozen or so."
"There's a _snake den_ under that clear place," said Sneak, "where
they stay all winter--but its not as big a den as some I've seen."
"I don't want to see more than I have to-day!" said Joe, whipping past
the steed as they started homewards, having mended his bridle. But as
he paced along by the decayed tree mentioned above, he saw the
glistening eyes of the large racer peering from the hole it had
entered, and he gave it a smart blow on the head with his rod and
spurred forward. The next moment, when Sneak came up, the enraged
serpent sprang down upon him, and in a twinkling wound himself tightly
round his neck! Sneak's eyes started out of his head, and being nearly
strangled he soon fell to the earth. Joe looked on in amazement, but
was too much frightened to assist him. And Sneak, unable to ask his
aid, only turned his large eyes imploringly towards him, while in
silence he vainly strove to tear away the serpent with his fingers. He
thrust one hand in his pocket for his knife, but it had been left
behind! He then held out his hand to Joe, and in this dumb and piteous
manner begged him to lend him his knife. Joe drew it from his pocket,
but could not brace his nerves sufficiently to venture within the
suffocating man's reach. At length he bethought him of his pole, and
opening the blade thrust it in the end of it and cautiously handed it
to Sneak. Sneak immediately ran the sharp steel through the many folds
of the snake, and it fell to the ground in a dozen pieces! The poor
man's strength then completely failed him, and he rolled over on his
back in breathless exhaustion. Joe rendered all the assistance in his
power, and his companion soon revived.
"Dod rot your skin!" exclaimed Sneak, getting up and seizing Joe by
"Hang it, it wasn't _me_! it was the _snake!_" said Joe, extricating
his neck from his companion's grasp.
"What'd you _hit_ the sarpent for?"
"Why, I wanted to kill him."
"Then why didn't you help me to get it away from my neck?"
"You didn't _ask_ me," said Joe, with something like ingenuousness,
though with a most provoking application.
"I couldn't speak! The tarnation thing was squeezing my neck so tight
I couldn't say a word. But I _looked_ at you, and you might 'ave
understood me. Never mind, you'll git a snake hold of you some of
"I'll keep a sharp look out after this," said Joe. "But Sneak, I'll
swear now you were not born to be hung."
"You be dod rot!" replied Sneak, leaping on the steed, and turning
towards the river.
"I would have cut him off myself, Sneak," said Joe, musing on the odd
affair as they rode briskly along, "if I hadn't been afraid of cutting
your throat. I knew you wasn't born to be hung."
"Ha! ha! ha! that was the tightest place that ever I was in," said
Sneak, regaining his good humour, and diverted at the strange
"Didn't he bite you?" asked Joe.
"No, a black snake can't bite--they havn't got any fangs. If it had
been a rattlesnake or a viper, I'd been a gone chicken. I don't think
I'll ever leave my knife behind again, even if I wasn't to go ten
steps from home. Dod--my neck's very sore."
The companions continued the rest of the way in silence. When they
reached home, and returned the horses to the stable, they proceeded
down the path to Roughgrove's house to report their adventure.
Glenn and Mary, William and La-u-na, were seated under the spreading
elm-tree, engaged in some felicitous conference, that produced a most
pleasing animation in their features.
Mary immediately demanded of Joe a recital of his adventures that
morning. He complied without reluctance, and his hearers were
frequently convulsed with laughter as he proceeded, for he added many
embellishments not narrated by the author. Sneak bore their merriment
with stoical fortitude, and then laughed as heartily as themselves at
his own recent novel predicament.
La-u-na asked Sneak if he had been bitten by any of the poisonous
snakes. Sneak of course replied in the negative, but at the same time
desired to know the name of the plant that was used by the Indians
with universal success when wounded by the fangs of the rattlesnake.
The girl told him it was the _white plantain_ that grew in the
"I'll go and get some right straight," said Joe, "because I don't know
what moment I may be bitten."
"Never mind it, Joe," said Glenn, rising. "We are now going to gather
wild raspberries on the cliff south of and we want you and Sneak to
"Well--I like raspberries, and they must be ripe by this time, if the
chickens havn't picked them all before us."
"Dod--if the chickens have ett 'em can that make 'em _green_ agin?"
replied Sneak to Joe's Irishism.
"You'd better learn how to read before you turn critic," said Joe,
taking up the baskets that had been brought out of the house. He then
led the way, quarrelling all the time with Sneak, while Glenn, placing
Mary's arm in his, and William imitating the example, followed at a
When the party reached the raspberry thicket, they found truly that
the fowls were there before them, though quite an abundance of the
delicious berry still remained untouched. A few moments sufficed to
drive the feathered gatherers away, and then without delay they began
to fill their baskets.
Many were the hearty peals of joyous laughter that rang from the
innocent lovers while momentarily obscured by the green clustering
bushes. Ere long they were dispersed in various parts of the thicket,
and Glenn and Mary being separated from the rest, our hero seized the
opportunity to broach a tender subject.
"Mary," said he, and then most unaccountably paused.
"Well," said she turning her glorious dark blue eyes full upon him.
"I have something of moment to say to you, if you will listen
attentively--and I know not a more fitting time and place than this to
tell it. Here is a natural bower surrounded by sweet berries, and
shielded from the sun by the fragrant myrtle. Let us sit on this mossy
rock. Will you listen?" he continued, drawing her close to his side on
the seat in the cool retreat.
"Have I ever refused to listen to you? do I not love to hear your
voice?" said the confiding and happy girl.
"Bless you, Mary--my whole heart is yours!" exclaimed our hero,
seizing a rapturous kiss from the coral lips of the maiden. Mary
resisted not, nor replied; while tears, but not of grief, glistened on
her dark lashes.
"You will not reject my love, Mary? Why do you weep?"
"It is with joy--my heart is so happy that tears gush out in spite of
"Will you then be mine?" continued Glenn, winding his arm round her
"Forever!" she replied, and, bowing her head slightly, a shower of
dark silken tresses obscured her blushing face, and covered our hero's
panting breast. Thus they remained many moments in silence, for their
feelings were too blissful for utterance.
"Are you always happy, Mary?" said Glenn, at length, taking her little
white hand in his.
"No!" she replied, with a sigh.
"When you are away, I sometimes fear the Indians--or a snake--or--or
something may harm you," said she, falteringly.
"I thank thee, Mary, for thinking of me when I am away."
"I always think of thee!" said she.
"Ay, by day--and thou art ever with me in my dreams."
"And I _will_ be with thee always!"
"Do!" said she.
"But dost thou not sometimes repine that thy life is thus spent in the
wilderness far from the busy world?"
"I sometimes wish I could see the beautiful cities I read of--but when
I think of the treacheries and miseries of the world, I look at the
pure fresh flowers, and list to the sweet birds around me, and then I
think there is more happiness to be enjoyed here than anywhere else."
"And such is truly the case," said Glenn, pondering "But then, Mary,
we all have obligations to discharge. We were created for society--to
associate with our species, and while mingling with kindred beings, it
is our duty to bestow as many benefits on them as may be within the
scope of our power."
"You think, then, we should leave our western home?" she asked, with
"Wilt thou not consent to go?"
"If you go, I will go!" said she.
"And now I declare I will not go unless thou art willing."
"But is it a _duty_?" she asked.
"Your fa--Mr. Roughgrove says so."
"Then let us go! But why did you not say _father_?"
"He is not your father."
"No!" exclaimed the maid, turning pale.
"I will tell thee all, Mary." And Glenn related the story of the
maiden's birth. "Now, Mary," he continued, "thou knowest thine own
history. Thou art of a noble race, according to the rules of men--nay,
thy blood is royal--if thou wouldst retract thy plighted faith (I
should have told thee this before,) speak, and thy will shall be
"Oh! Charles! I am thine, THINE ONLY, were I born an angel!" she
cried, throwing herself into his arms. At this juncture a violent
rustling was heard in the bushes not far distant, and the next moment
Joe's voice rang out.
"Oh me! Oh St. Peter! Oh murder! murder! murder!" cried he. Instantly
all the party were collected round him. He lay in a small open space
on the grass, with his basket bottom upward at his side, and all the
berries scattered on the ground.
"What is the matter?" asked Glenn.
"Oh, I'm snake-bitten! I'm a dead man! I'm dying!" cried he,
"That's a fib," said Sneak, "bekaise a dead man can't be a dying."
"Let me see," said William, stooping down to examine the place on
which Joe's hands were convulsively pressed. With some difficulty he
pulled them away, and tearing down the stocking, actually saw a small
bleeding puncture over the ankle bone!
"What kind of a snake was it?" asked Glenn in alarm. "A rattlesnake--Oh!"
"Did you _see_ it?" continued Glenn, knowing Joe's foible, though it
was apparent he suffered from some kind of a wound.
"I heard it rattle. Oh, my goodness! I'm going fast! I'm turning
La-u-na told him to run to the house and cover the wound with salt,
and remain quiet till Sneak could obtain some plantain leaves from the
prairie. Joe sprang up and rushed down the hill. Sneak set out in
quest of the antidote, and the rest directed their steps homeward.
When they reached Roughgrove's house, they found Joe lying in the
middle of the floor on his back, and groaning most dolefully. He had
applied the salt to the wound as directed, and covered it and his
whole leg so plentifully with bandages that the latter seemed to be as
thick as his body.
"How do you feel now, Joe?" asked Glenn.
"I'm a dead man!" said he.
La-u-na told him not to be alarmed, and assured him there was no
"But I'll die before Sneak can get back!"
"Your voice is too strong to fear that," said William; "but do you
suffer much pain?"
"Oh, I'm in agony!" said he, rolling back his eyes.
"Where does the pain lie?" asked Glenn.
"Oh, St. Peter! all over me! In my toes, ankles, legs, arms, heart,
throat, mouth, nose, and eyes! Oh, I'm in tortures! I'm blind--I can't
see any of you!"
At this moment Roughgrove, who had been over the river on a visit to
Boone, entered the apartment with the renowned hunter at his side.
When fully informed of the circumstances, Boone stooped down and felt
"The strokes are irregular," said Boone.
"Oh heaven!" exclaimed Joe.
"But that may be caused by fright," continued Boone.
"Oh goodness! it ain't that--I'm a dying man!"
"Is the leg much swollen?" asked Boone, endeavouring to ascertain
without taking off the bandages.
"Oh! oh! don't do that! it'll kill me in a minute--for its swelled fit
to burst!" cried Joe, shrinking from Boone's grasp.
"All the cases of snake-bite that I have seen differ from this. I have
always found the swollen limb nearly devoid of feeling. Did you kill
"Tell me precisely the place where you were standing when it bit
you--there is a mystery about it that I must solve."
"Oh--it was--I can't speak! my breath's going fast! Oh! Paternoster--"
William then described the spot to Boone in such precise terms that
the old woodman declared he would immediately repair thither and
endeavour to find the snake. He accordingly set out in the direction
indicated without further delay; while Roughgrove, believing that poor
Joe was really on the verge of eternity, strove to comfort his
departing spirit with the consolation that religion affords.
"Oh! that ain't the right one!" exclaimed Joe, pushing away the
Episcopal prayer-book held by Roughgrove.
"Then here is one you cannot object to," said Roughgrove, opening the
"Oh, that's not it, either!" cried Joe, in great distress. "Is there
no priest in this region? I'm a Roman Catholic--oh!"
"Can you not confess your sins _directly_ to God--the God who is
everywhere, and governs all things?" said the aged man, impressively,
and with animation.
"I have prayed," said Joe; "but now I want the ointment!"
"Your body, which must be placed in the damp cold earth, needs no oil.
It is far better to purify the soul, which perishes not," said
Roughgrove, in fervent and tremulous tones.
"Oh!--Oh! Ugh!" cried Joe, in a deep guttural voice, and turning over
on his face. His fears had evidently been increased by the solemn tone
and look of Roughgrove.
"Don't be alarmed, Joe," said Glenn, turning him again on his back.
"Sneak will soon be here, and La-u-na says the plantain will be sure
to cure you. William tells me that he has seen the Indians permit the
snakes to bite them for a mere trifle in money, so certain were they
of being restored by the plant. And indeed he never knew a bite to
"But I'm afraid Sneak won't come in time," replied Joe, somewhat
"Pshaw! he won't loiter in a case of this kind--he knows it is no
joke," continued Glenn.
"But suppose he can't _find_ any plantain--then I'm dead to a
certainty! Oh me!"
"Does the pain increase much?" asked Mary.
"Oh, yes! its ten times worse than it was ten minutes ago! I'm going
fast--I can't move either leg now," he continued, in a weak utterance.
Glenn grew uneasy. Joe was pale--very pale, and breathed hard.
Boone entered, with a smile on his lip.
"Have you got the plantain?" asked Joe, in feeble accents, with his
languid eyes nearly closed, thinking it was Sneak.
"Sit up and tell me how you feel," said Boone, in vain striving to
repress his smile.
"Oh, St. Peter! I haven't strength enough to lift my hand," said Joe,
his eyes still closed.
"Did you find the snake?" asked Glenn.
"Yes," replied Boone. Joe groaned audibly. "I will tell you all about
it," he continued; "I found the spot where Joe had been gathering the
berries, and tracked him without difficulty to every bush he visited
by the bruised grass under his foot-prints. At length I came to the
cluster of bushes where he received the wound. I stood in his cracks
and saw where he had plucked the raspberries. When about to cast down
my eyes in quest of the snake, suddenly I felt a blow on my own
"Did the same snake bite you?" asked Mary, quickly.
"Yes," replied Boone, still smiling. Joe opened his eyes, and after
gazing a moment at Boone, asked him if he did not suffer much pain.
"Fully as much as you do--but hear me through. I sprang back with some
violence, I admit, but I did not run away. Lifting my cane, I returned
with a determination to kill the snake. I stooped down very low to
ascertain the precise position of its head, which was concealed by a
large mullen leaf--I saw its eyes and its _bill_--"
"What!" exclaimed Joe, rising up on his elbow with unwonted vigour,
and his eyes riveted on the speaker.
"Yes, its _bill_", continued Boone. "And while my cane was brandished
in the air and about descending on its devoted head, a low clucking
arrested my arm, and approaching closer to it than before, and gazing
steadfastly a moment, I lowered my cane to its usual position, and
fell back laughing on the grass among the raspberries you had
"Mr. Boone--Mr. Boone!" cried Joe, springing up in a sitting attitude,
and seizing the hand of the veteran, "for Heaven's sake tell me what
"It was an old SITTING HEN!" said Boone.
"Upon your honour?" continued Joe, leaping upon his feet, and staring
the aged hunter in the face, while his eyes gleamed with irrepressible
hope and anxiety.
"It was nothing else, upon my honour," replied Boone, laughing in
concert with the rest.
"Huzza! huzza!! huzza!!!" shouted Joe, casting the bandages hither and
thither, and dancing nimbly over the floor. "Fal-de-lal--tider-e-i--
tider-e-o-- tider-e-um!" he continued, in frenzied delight, and,
observing Sneak at the door with an armful of plantain (who had
returned in time to witness his abrupt recovery, and now continued to
regard him with wonder and doubt--at times thinking he was delirious,)
skipped up and held out both hands, as if inviting him to dance.
"Dod rot it, your leg ain't swelled a bit!" said Sneak.
"Don't use that bad word, Sneak," said Mary.
"I won't--but dod--he's had me running all over--"
"Tider-e-i--tider-e-um!" continued Joe, still dancing, while the
perspiration streamed over his face.
"Have done with this nonsense, Joe!" said Glenn, "or else continue
your ridiculous exercises on the grass in the yard. You may rejoice
now, but this affair will be sport for others all your life. You will
not relish it so much to-morrow."
"I'd rather all the world would laugh at me alive and kicking, than
that one of you should mourn over my dead body," replied Joe, leaping
over Sneak, who was sitting in the door, and striding to the grass
plot under the elm, where he continued his rejoicings. Sneak followed,
and, sitting down on the bench in the shade, seemed to muse with
unusual gravity at the strange spectacle presented by Joe.
This was Joe's last wild western adventure. The incident was soon
forgotten by the party in the house. Serious and sad thoughts
succeeded the mirthful scene described above. Roughgrove had brought
Boone thither to receive their last farewell! The renowned woodman and
warrior wore marks of painful regret on his pale features. The rest
were in tears.
"William," said Roughgrove, "listen to a tale concerning thy birth and
parentage, which I feel it to be my duty to unfold. Your sister has
already learned the story from your friend, who sits beside her. But I
will repeat it to all present. You who are the most interested can
then determine whether it shall ever be disclosed to other ears. The
secret was long locked in my bosom, and it was once my purpose to bury
it with my body in the grave. I pondered long on the subject, and
prayed to Heaven to be instructed. I have satisfactory evidence in my
own heart that I have acted correctly." He then related the history of
the twins, as we have given it to the reader. When he concluded,
La-u-na, who had betrayed much painful interest during the recital,
threw her arms round William's neck, and wept upon his breast.
"Why do you weep, La-u-na?" asked the youth.
"La-u-na must die!" said she; "her William will leave her and forget
her. The wild rose will bend over her grave--the brook will murmur low
at her cold feet--the rabbit will nip the tender grass by her
tombstone at night-fall--the katydid will chirp over her, and the
whippor-will will sing in vain. William will forget her! Poor
"No--La-u-na! no! Thou shalt go with me and be my bride, or else I
will remain with thee! Death only shall separate us!" said the youth,
drawing the slight form of the Indian maiden closer to his heart, and
imprinting a rapturous kiss on her smooth forehead.
"We will all go together," continued Roughgrove, "save our beloved
friend here, who tells me that no earthly consideration could induce
him to dwell in cities among civilized men."
"True," said Boone; "I would not exchange my residence in the western
wilds for the gorgeous palaces of the east. Yet I think you do right
in returning to the society which you were destined to adorn. I shall
grieve when I miss you, but I will not persuade you to remain. Every
one should act according to the dictates of his conscience. It is my
belief that Providence guides our actions. You, my friends, were
fitted and designed to move in refined society, and by your example
and influence to benefit the world around you. The benefits bestowed
by _me_ will not be immediate, nor altogether in my day. I am a
PIONEER, formed by nature. Where I struggle with the savage and the
wild beast, my great grandchildren will reside in cities, I must
fulfil my mission."
At this moment Joe and Sneak appeared at the door.
"There's a covered flat-boat just landed down at the ferry," said Joe.
"It is from the island above," said Roughgrove, "and the one I have
had constructed for our voyage down the river."
"Are we going, sure enough?" asked Joe.
"Yes; to-morrow," said Glenn.
"Dod--are you _all_ going off?" asked Sneak, rolling round his large
eyes, and stretching out his neck to an unusual length.
"All but me, Sneak," said Boone.
"And you won't be any company for me. Dod--I've a notion to go too! If
I could foller any thing to make a living in Fillydelfa--"
"If you go with us, you shall never want--I will see that you are
provided for," said Glenn.
"It's a bargain!" said Sneak, with the eager emphasis characteristic
of the trading Yankee.
"But poor Pete--the horses!" said Joe.
"There are stalls in the boat for them," said Roughgrove.
"Huzza! I'm glad. Huzza!" cried Joe.
* * * * *
The next morning beamed upon them in beauty--and in sadness. The sun
rose in majesty, and poured his brilliant and inspiring rays on peak
and valley and plain. But the hearts of the peaceful wanderers
throbbed in sorrow as they gazed for the last time on the scene before
them. Though it had been identified with the many perilous and painful
encounters with savages, yet the quivering green leaves above, the
sparkling brook below, and the soft melody of happy birds around, were
intimately associated with some of the most blissful moments of their
La-u-na retired to a lonely spot, and poured forth a farewell song to
the whispering spirits of her fathers. Long her steadfast gaze was
fixed on the blue sky, as if communing with the departed kings from
whom she descended. At length her tears vanished like a shower in the
sunshine, and a bright smile rested upon her features, as if her
prayer had been heard and all she asked were granted! Prophetic
vision! While the race from which she separated is doomed to
extinction in the forest, the blood she mingled with the Anglo-Saxon
race may yet be destined to sway the councils of a mighty empire.
William mused in silence, guarding at a distance the bride of his
heart, and not venturing to intrude upon her devotions. The past was
like a dream to him--the present a bright vision--the future a
Glenn and Mary were seated together, regarding with impatience the
brief preparations to embark. Boone, Roughgrove, Sneak, and Joe were
busily engaged lading the vessel. Sneak had hastily brought thither
his effects, and without a throe of regret abandoned his _house_ for
ever to the owls. Joe succeeded with but little difficulty in getting
the horses on board. The fawn, the kitten, the hounds, and the
chickens were likewise taken along.
And now all was ready to push out into the current. All were on board.
Boone bid them an affectionate adieu in silence--in silence, but in
tears. The cable was loosened, and the boat was wafted down on its
journey eastward. William and La-u-na sat upon the deck, and gazed at
the receding shore, rendered dear by hallowed recollections. Glenn and
Mary stood at the prow, and as they marked the fleeting waters, their
thoughts dwelt on the happy future. Roughgrove was praying. Joe was
caressing the pony. Sneak was counting his muskrat skins. And thus we
must bid them adieu.