Readme.it in English  home page
Readme.it in Italiano  pagina iniziale
readme.it by logo SoftwareHouse.it

Ebook in formato Kindle (mobi) - Kindle File Ebook (mobi)

Formato per Iphone, Ipad e Ebook (epub) - Ipad, Iphone and Ebook reader format (epub)

Versione ebook di Readme.it powered by Softwarehouse.it






The Last of the Mohicans
A Narrative of 1757

by James Fenimore Cooper

INTRODUCTION

It is believed that the scene of this taleand most of the
information necessary to understand its allusionsare
rendered sufficiently obvious to the reader in the text
itselfor in the accompanying notes. Still there is so
much obscurity in the Indian traditionsand so much
confusion in the Indian namesas to render some explanation
useful.

Few men exhibit greater diversityorif we may so express
itgreater antithesis of characterthan the native warrior
of North America. In warhe is daringboastfulcunning
ruthlessself-denyingand self-devoted; in peacejust
generoushospitablerevengefulsuperstitiousmodestand
commonly chaste. These are qualitiesit is truewhich do
not distinguish all alike; but they are so far the
predominating traits of these remarkable people as to be
characteristic.

It is generally believed that the Aborigines of the American
continent have an Asiatic origin. There are many physical
as well as moral facts which corroborate this opinionand
some few that would seem to weigh against it.

The color of the Indianthe writer believesis peculiar to
himselfand while his cheek-bones have a very striking
indication of a Tartar originhis eyes have not. Climate
may have had great influence on the formerbut it is
difficult to see how it can have produced the substantial
difference which exists in the latter. The imagery of the
Indianboth in his poetry and in his oratoryis oriental;
chastenedand perhaps improvedby the limited range of his
practical knowledge. He draws his metaphors from the
cloudsthe seasonsthe birdsthe beastsand the
vegetable world. In thisperhapshe does no more than any
other energetic and imaginative race would dobeing
compelled to set bounds to fancy by experience; but the
North American Indian clothes his ideas in a dress which is
different from that of the Africanand is oriental in
itself. His language has the richness and sententious
fullness of the Chinese. He will express a phrase in a
wordand he will qualify the meaning of an entire sentence
by a syllable; he will even convey different significations
by the simplest inflections of the voice.

Philologists have said that there are but two or three
languagesproperly speakingamong all the numerous tribes
which formerly occupied the country that now composes the
United States. They ascribe the known difficulty one people


have to understand another to corruptions and dialects. The
writer remembers to have been present at an interview
between two chiefs of the Great Prairies west of the
Mississippiand when an interpreter was in attendance who
spoke both their languages. The warriors appeared to be on
the most friendly termsand seemingly conversed much
together; yetaccording to the account of the interpreter
each was absolutely ignorant of what the other said. They
were of hostile tribesbrought together by the influence of
the American government; and it is worthy of remarkthat a
common policy led them both to adopt the same subject. They
mutually exhorted each other to be of use in the event of
the chances of war throwing either of the parties into the
hands of his enemies. Whatever may be the truthas
respects the root and the genius of the Indian tonguesit
is quite certain they are now so distinct in their words as
to possess most of the disadvantages of strange languages;
hence much of the embarrassment that has arisen in learning
their historiesand most of the uncertainty which exists in
their traditions.

Like nations of higher pretensionsthe American Indian
gives a very different account of his own tribe or race from
that which is given by other people. He is much addicted to
overestimating his own perfectionsand to undervaluing
those of his rival or his enemy; a trait which may possibly
be thought corroborative of the Mosaic account of the
creation.

The whites have assisted greatly in rendering the traditions
of the Aborigines more obscure by their own manner of
corrupting names. Thusthe term used in the title of this
book has undergone the changes of MahicanniMohicansand
Mohegans; the latter being the word commonly used by the
whites. When it is remembered that the Dutch (who first
settled New York)the Englishand the Frenchall gave
appellations to the tribes that dwelt within the country
which is the scene of this storyand that the Indians not
only gave different names to their enemiesbut frequently
to themselvesthe cause of the confusion will be
understood.

In these pagesLenni-LenapeLenopeDelawaresWapanachki
and Mohicansall mean the same peopleor tribes of the
same stock. The Mengwethe Maquasthe Mingoesand the
Iroquoisthough not all strictly the sameare identified
frequently by the speakersbeing politically confederated
and opposed to those just named. Mingo was a term of
peculiar reproachas were Mengwe and Maqua in a less
degree.

The Mohicans were the possessors of the country first
occupied by the Europeans in this portion of the continent.
They wereconsequentlythe first dispossessed; and the
seemingly inevitable fate of all these peoplewho disappear
before the advancesor it might be termed the inroadsof
civilizationas the verdure of their native forests falls
before the nipping frostsis represented as having already
befallen them. There is sufficient historical truth in the
picture to justify the use that has been made of it.

In point of factthe country which is the scene of the
following tale has undergone as little changesince the
historical events alluded to had placeas almost any other


district of equal extent within the whole limits of the
United States. There are fashionable and well-attended
watering-places at and near the spring where Hawkeye halted
to drinkand roads traverse the forests where he and his
friends were compelled to journey without even a path.
Glen's has a large village; and while William Henryand
even a fortress of later dateare only to be traced as
ruinsthere is another village on the shores of the
Horican. Butbeyond thisthe enterprise and energy of a
people who have done so much in other places have done
little here. The whole of that wildernessin which the
latter incidents of the legend occurredis nearly a
wilderness stillthough the red man has entirely deserted
this part of the state. Of all the tribes named in these
pagesthere exist only a few half-civilized beings of the
Oneidason the reservations of their people in New York.
The rest have disappearedeither from the regions in which
their fathers dweltor altogether from the earth.

There is one point on which we would wish to say a word
before closing this preface. Hawkeye calls the Lac du Saint
Sacrementthe "Horican." As we believe this to be an
appropriation of the name that has its origin with
ourselvesthe time has arrivedperhapswhen the fact
should be frankly admitted. While writing this bookfully
a quarter of a century sinceit occurred to us that the
French name of this lake was too complicatedthe American
too commonplaceand the Indian too unpronounceablefor
either to be used familiarly in a work of fiction. Looking
over an ancient mapit was ascertained that a tribe of
Indianscalled "Les Horicans" by the Frenchexisted in the
neighborhood of this beautiful sheet of water. As every
word uttered by Natty Bumppo was not to be received as rigid
truthwe took the liberty of putting the "Horican" into his
mouthas the substitute for "Lake George." The name has
appeared to find favorand all things consideredit may
possibly be quite as well to let it standinstead of going
back to the House of Hanover for the appellation of our
finest sheet of water. We relieve our conscience by the
confessionat all events leaving it to exercise its
authority as it may see fit.

CHAPTER 1

Mine ear is open, and my heart prepared: The worst is
wordly loss thou canst unfold:--Say, is my kingdom lost?
--Shakespeare

It was a feature peculiar to the colonial wars of North
Americathat the toils and dangers of the wilderness were
to be encountered before the adverse hosts could meet. A
wide and apparently an impervious boundary of forests
severed the possessions of the hostile provinces of France
and England. The hardy colonistand the trained European
who fought at his sidefrequently expended months in
struggling against the rapids of the streamsor in
effecting the rugged passes of the mountainsin quest of an
opportunity to exhibit their courage in a more martial
conflict. Butemulating the patience and self-denial of
the practiced native warriorsthey learned to overcome
every difficulty; and it would seem thatin timethere was


no recess of the woods so darknor any secret place so
lovelythat it might claim exemption from the inroads of
those who had pledged their blood to satiate their
vengeanceor to uphold the cold and selfish policy of the
distant monarchs of Europe.

Perhaps no district throughout the wide extent of the
intermediate frontiers can furnish a livelier picture of the
cruelty and fierceness of the savage warfare of those
periods than the country which lies between the head waters
of the Hudson and the adjacent lakes.

The facilities which nature had there offered to the march
of the combatants were too obvious to be neglected. The
lengthened sheet of the Champlain stretched from the
frontiers of Canadadeep within the borders of the
neighboring province of New Yorkforming a natural passage
across half the distance that the French were compelled to
master in order to strike their enemies. Near its southern
terminationit received the contributions of another lake
whose waters were so limpid as to have been exclusively
selected by the Jesuit missionaries to perform the typical
purification of baptismand to obtain for it the title of
lake "du Saint Sacrement." The less zealous English thought
they conferred a sufficient honor on its unsullied
fountainswhen they bestowed the name of their reigning
princethe second of the house of Hanover. The two united
to rob the untutored possessors of its wooded scenery of
their native right to perpetuate its original appellation of
Horican.*

* As each nation of the Indians had its language or
its dialectthey usually gave different names to the same
placesthough nearly all of their appellations were
descriptive of the object. Thus a literal translation of
the name of this beautiful sheet of waterused by the tribe
that dwelt on its bankswould be "The Tail of the Lake."
Lake Georgeas it is vulgarlyand nowindeedlegally
calledforms a sort of tail to Lake Champlainwhen viewed
on the map. Hencethe name.
Winding its way among countless islandsand imbedded in
mountainsthe "holy lake" extended a dozen leagues still
further to the south. With the high plain that there
interposed itself to the further passage of the water
commenced a portage of as many mileswhich conducted the
adventurer to the banks of the Hudsonat a point where
with the usual obstructions of the rapidsor riftsas they
were then termed in the language of the countrythe river
became navigable to the tide.

Whilein the pursuit of their daring plans of annoyance
the restless enterprise of the French even attempted the
distant and difficult gorges of the Alleghanyit may easily
be imagined that their proverbial acuteness would not
overlook the natural advantages of the district we have just
described. It becameemphaticallythe bloody arenain
which most of the battles for the mastery of the colonies
were contested. Forts were erected at the different points
that commanded the facilities of the routeand were taken
and retakenrazed and rebuiltas victory alighted on the
hostile banners. While the husbandman shrank back from the
dangerous passeswithin the safer boundaries of the more
ancient settlementsarmies larger than those that had often


disposed of the scepters of the mother countrieswere seen
to bury themselves in these forestswhence they rarely
returned but in skeleton bandsthat were haggard with care
or dejected by defeat. Though the arts of peace were
unknown to this fatal regionits forests were alive with
men; its shades and glens rang with the sounds of martial
musicand the echoes of its mountains threw back the laugh
or repeated the wanton cryof many a gallant and reckless
youthas he hurried by themin the noontide of his
spiritsto slumber in a long night of forgetfulness.

It was in this scene of strife and bloodshed that the
incidents we shall attempt to relate occurredduring the
third year of the war which England and France last waged
for the possession of a country that neither was destined to
retain.

The imbecility of her military leaders abroadand the fatal
want of energy in her councils at homehad lowered the
character of Great Britain from the proud elevation on which
it had been placed by the talents and enterprise of her
former warriors and statesmen. No longer dreaded by her
enemiesher servants were fast losing the confidence of
self-respect. In this mortifying abasementthe colonists
though innocent of her imbecilityand too humble to be the
agents of her blunderswere but the natural participators.
They had recently seen a chosen army from that country
whichreverencing as a motherthey had blindly believed
invincible--an army led by a chief who had been selected
from a crowd of trained warriorsfor his rare military
endowmentsdisgracefully routed by a handful of French and
Indiansand only saved from annihilation by the coolness
and spirit of a Virginian boywhose riper fame has since
diffused itselfwith the steady influence of moral truth
to the uttermost confines of Christendom.* A wide frontier
had been laid naked by this unexpected disasterand more
substantial evils were preceded by a thousand fanciful and
imaginary dangers. The alarmed colonists believed that the
yells of the savages mingled with every fitful gust of wind
that issued from the interminable forests of the west. The
terrific character of their merciless enemies increased
immeasurably the natural horrors of warfare. Numberless
recent massacres were still vivid in their recollections;
nor was there any ear in the provinces so deaf as not to
have drunk in with avidity the narrative of some fearful
tale of midnight murderin which the natives of the forests
were the principal and barbarous actors. As the credulous
and excited traveler related the hazardous chances of the
wildernessthe blood of the timid curdled with terrorand
mothers cast anxious glances even at those children which
slumbered within the security of the largest towns. In
shortthe magnifying influence of fear began to set at
naught the calculations of reasonand to render those who
should have remembered their manhoodthe slaves of the
basest passions. Even the most confident and the stoutest
hearts began to think the issue of the contest was becoming
doubtful; and that abject class was hourly increasing in
numberswho thought they foresaw all the possessions of the
English crown in America subdued by their Christian foesor
laid waste by the inroads of their relentless allies.

* Washingtonwhoafter uselessly admonishing the
European general of the danger into which he was heedlessly
runningsaved the remnants of the British armyon this

occasionby his decision and courage. The reputation
earned by Washington in this battle was the principal cause
of his being selected to command the American armies at a
later day. It is a circumstance worthy of observationthat
while all America rang with his well-merited reputationhis
name does not occur in any European account of the battle;
at least the author has searched for it without success. In
this manner does the mother country absorb even the fame
under that system of rule.

Whenthereforeintelligence was received at the fort which
covered the southern termination of the portage between the
Hudson and the lakesthat Montcalm had been seen moving up
the Champlainwith an army "numerous as the leaves on the
trees its truth was admitted with more of the craven
reluctance of fear than with the stern joy that a warrior
should feel, in finding an enemy within reach of his blow.
The news had been brought, toward the decline of a day in
midsummer, by an Indian runner, who also bore an urgent
request from Munro, the commander of a work on the shore of
the holy lake for a speedy and powerful reinforcement.
It has already been mentioned that the distance between
these two posts was less than five leagues. The rude path,
which originally formed their line of communication, had
been widened for the passage of wagons; so that the distance
which had been traveled by the son of the forest in two
hours, might easily be effected by a detachment of troops,
with their necessary baggage, between the rising and setting
of a summer sun. The loyal servants of the British crown
had given to one of these forest-fastnesses the name of
William Henry, and to the other that of Fort Edward, calling
each after a favorite prince of the reigning family. The
veteran Scotchman just named held the first, with a regiment
of regulars and a few provincials; a force really by far too
small to make head against the formidable power that
Montcalm was leading to the foot of his earthen mounds. At
the latter, however, lay General Webb, who commanded the
armies of the king in the northern provinces, with a body of
more than five thousand men. By uniting the several
detachments of his command, this officer might have arrayed
nearly double that number of combatants against the
enterprising Frenchman, who had ventured so far from his
reinforcements, with an army but little superior in numbers.

But under the influence of their degraded fortunes, both
officers and men appeared better disposed to await the
approach of their formidable antagonists, within their
works, than to resist the progress of their march, by
emulating the successful example of the French at Fort du
Quesne, and striking a blow on their advance.

After the first surprise of the intelligence had a little
abated, a rumor was spread through the entrenched camp,
which stretched along the margin of the Hudson, forming a
chain of outworks to the body of the fort itself, that a
chosen detachment of fifteen hundred men was to depart, with
the dawn, for William Henry, the post at the northern
extremity of the portage. That which at first was only
rumor, soon became certainty, as orders passed from the
quarters of the commander-in-chief to the several corps he
had selected for this service, to prepare for their speedy
departure. All doubts as to the intention of Webb now
vanished, and an hour or two of hurried footsteps and
anxious faces succeeded. The novice in the military art


flew from point to point, retarding his own preparations by
the excess of his violent and somewhat distempered zeal;
while the more practiced veteran made his arrangements with
a deliberation that scorned every appearance of haste;
though his sober lineaments and anxious eye sufficiently
betrayed that he had no very strong professional relish for
the, as yet, untried and dreaded warfare of the wilderness.
At length the sun set in a flood of glory, behind the
distant western hills, and as darkness drew its veil around
the secluded spot the sounds of preparation diminished; the
last light finally disappeared from the log cabin of some
officer; the trees cast their deeper shadows over the mounds
and the rippling stream, and a silence soon pervaded the
camp, as deep as that which reigned in the vast forest by
which it was environed.

According to the orders of the preceding night, the heavy
sleep of the army was broken by the rolling of the warning
drums, whose rattling echoes were heard issuing, on the damp
morning air, out of every vista of the woods, just as day
began to draw the shaggy outlines of some tall pines of the
vicinity, on the opening brightness of a soft and cloudless
eastern sky. In an instant the whole camp was in motion;
the meanest soldier arousing from his lair to witness the
departure of his comrades, and to share in the excitement
and incidents of the hour. The simple array of the chosen
band was soon completed. While the regular and trained
hirelings of the king marched with haughtiness to the right
of the line, the less pretending colonists took their
humbler position on its left, with a docility that long
practice had rendered easy. The scouts departed; strong
guards preceded and followed the lumbering vehicles that
bore the baggage; and before the gray light of the morning
was mellowed by the rays of the sun, the main body of the
combatants wheeled into column, and left the encampment with
a show of high military bearing, that served to drown the
slumbering apprehensions of many a novice, who was now about
to make his first essay in arms. While in view of their
admiring comrades, the same proud front and ordered array
was observed, until the notes of their fifes growing fainter
in distance, the forest at length appeared to swallow up the
living mass which had slowly entered its bosom.

The deepest sounds of the retiring and invisible column
had ceased to be borne on the breeze to the listeners, and
the latest straggler had already disappeared in pursuit; but
there still remained the signs of another departure, before
a log cabin of unusual size and accommodations, in front of
which those sentinels paced their rounds, who were known to
guard the person of the English general. At this spot were
gathered some half dozen horses, caparisoned in a manner
which showed that two, at least, were destined to bear the
persons of females, of a rank that it was not usual to meet
so far in the wilds of the country. A third wore trappings
and arms of an officer of the staff; while the rest, from
the plainness of the housings, and the traveling mails with
which they were encumbered, were evidently fitted for the
reception of as many menials, who were, seemingly, already
waiting the pleasure of those they served. At a respectful
distance from this unusual show, were gathered divers groups
of curious idlers; some admiring the blood and bone of the
high-mettled military charger, and others gazing at the
preparations, with the dull wonder of vulgar curiosity.
There was one man, however, who, by his countenance and


actions, formed a marked exception to those who composed the
latter class of spectators, being neither idle, nor
seemingly very ignorant.

The person of this individual was to the last degree
ungainly, without being in any particular manner deformed.
He had all the bones and joints of other men, without any of
their proportions. Erect, his stature surpassed that of his
fellows; though seated, he appeared reduced within the
ordinary limits of the race. The same contrariety in his
members seemed to exist throughout the whole man. His head
was large; his shoulders narrow; his arms long and dangling;
while his hands were small, if not delicate. His legs and
thighs were thin, nearly to emaciation, but of extraordinary
length; and his knees would have been considered tremendous,
had they not been outdone by the broader foundations on
which this false superstructure of blended human orders was
so profanely reared. The ill-assorted and injudicious
attire of the individual only served to render his
awkwardness more conspicuous. A sky-blue coat, with short
and broad skirts and low cape, exposed a long, thin neck,
and longer and thinner legs, to the worst animadversions of
the evil-disposed. His nether garment was a yellow nankeen,
closely fitted to the shape, and tied at his bunches of
knees by large knots of white ribbon, a good deal sullied by
use. Clouded cotton stockings, and shoes, on one of the
latter of which was a plated spur, completed the costume of
the lower extremity of this figure, no curve or angle of
which was concealed, but, on the other hand, studiously
exhibited, through the vanity or simplicity of its owner.

From beneath the flap of an enormous pocket of a soiled vest
of embossed silk, heavily ornamented with tarnished silver
lace, projected an instrument, which, from being seen in
such martial company, might have been easily mistaken for
some mischievous and unknown implement of war. Small as it
was, this uncommon engine had excited the curiosity of most
of the Europeans in the camp, though several of the
provincials were seen to handle it, not only without fear,
but with the utmost familiarity. A large, civil cocked hat,
like those worn by clergymen within the last thirty years,
surmounted the whole, furnishing dignity to a good-natured
and somewhat vacant countenance, that apparently needed such
artificial aid, to support the gravity of some high and
extraordinary trust.

While the common herd stood aloof, in deference to the
quarters of Webb, the figure we have described stalked into
the center of the domestics, freely expressing his censures
or commendations on the merits of the horses, as by chance
they displeased or satisfied his judgment.

This beastI rather concludefriendis not of home
raisingbut is from foreign landsor perhaps from the
little island itself over the blue water?" he saidin a
voice as remarkable for the softness and sweetness of its
tonesas was his person for its rare proportions; "I may
speak of these thingsand be no braggart; for I have been
down at both havens; that which is situate at the mouth of
Thamesand is named after the capital of Old Englandand
that which is called 'Haven'with the addition of the word
'New'; and have seen the scows and brigantines collecting
their droveslike the gathering to the arkbeing outward
bound to the Island of Jamaicafor the purpose of barter


and traffic in four-footed animals; but never before have I
beheld a beast which verified the true scripture war-horse
like this: 'He paweth in the valleyand rejoiceth in his
strength; he goeth on to meet the armed men. He saith among
the trumpetsHaha; and he smelleth the battle afar off
the thunder of the captainsand the shouting' It would seem
that the stock of the horse of Israel had descended to our
own time; would it notfriend?"

Receiving no reply to this extraordinary appealwhich in
truthas it was delivered with the vigor of full and
sonorous tonesmerited some sort of noticehe who had thus
sung forth the language of the holy book turned to the
silent figure to whom he had unwittingly addressed himself
and found a new and more powerful subject of admiration in
the object that encountered his gaze. His eyes fell on the
stilluprightand rigid form of the "Indian runner who
had borne to the camp the unwelcome tidings of the preceding
evening. Although in a state of perfect repose, and
apparently disregarding, with characteristic stoicism, the
excitement and bustle around him, there was a sullen
fierceness mingled with the quiet of the savage, that was
likely to arrest the attention of much more experienced eyes
than those which now scanned him, in unconcealed amazement.
The native bore both the tomahawk and knife of his tribe;
and yet his appearance was not altogether that of a warrior.
On the contrary, there was an air of neglect about his
person, like that which might have proceeded from great and
recent exertion, which he had not yet found leisure to
repair. The colors of the war-paint had blended in dark
confusion about his fierce countenance, and rendered his
swarthy lineaments still more savage and repulsive than if
art had attempted an effect which had been thus produced by
chance. His eye, alone, which glistened like a fiery star
amid lowering clouds, was to be seen in its state of native
wildness. For a single instant his searching and yet wary
glance met the wondering look of the other, and then
changing its direction, partly in cunning, and partly in
disdain, it remained fixed, as if penetrating the distant
air.

It is impossible to say what unlooked-for remark this short
and silent communication, between two such singular men,
might have elicited from the white man, had not his active
curiosity been again drawn to other objects. A general
movement among the domestics, and a low sound of gentle
voices, announced the approach of those whose presence alone
was wanted to enable the cavalcade to move. The simple
admirer of the war-horse instantly fell back to a low,
gaunt, switch-tailed mare, that was unconsciously gleaning
the faded herbage of the camp nigh by; where, leaning with
one elbow on the blanket that concealed an apology for a
saddle, he became a spectator of the departure, while a foal
was quietly making its morning repast, on the opposite side
of the same animal.

A young man, in the dress of an officer, conducted to their
steeds two females, who, as it was apparent by their
dresses, were prepared to encounter the fatigues of a
journey in the woods. One, and she was the more juvenile in
her appearance, though both were young, permitted glimpses
of her dazzling complexion, fair golden hair, and bright
blue eyes, to be caught, as she artlessly suffered the
morning air to blow aside the green veil which descended low


from her beaver.

The flush which still lingered above the pines in the
western sky was not more bright nor delicate than the bloom
on her cheek; nor was the opening day more cheering than the
animated smile which she bestowed on the youth, as he
assisted her into the saddle. The other, who appeared to
share equally in the attention of the young officer,
concealed her charms from the gaze of the soldiery with a
care that seemed better fitted to the experience of four or
five additional years. It could be seen, however, that her
person, though molded with the same exquisite proportions,
of which none of the graces were lost by the traveling dress
she wore, was rather fuller and more mature than that of her
companion.

No sooner were these females seated, than their attendant
sprang lightly into the saddle of the war-horse, when the
whole three bowed to Webb, who in courtesy, awaited their
parting on the threshold of his cabin and turning their
horses' heads, they proceeded at a slow amble, followed by
their train, toward the northern entrance of the encampment.
As they traversed that short distance, not a voice was heard
among them; but a slight exclamation proceeded from the
younger of the females, as the Indian runner glided by her,
unexpectedly, and led the way along the military road in her
front. Though this sudden and startling movement of the
Indian produced no sound from the other, in the surprise her
veil also was allowed to open its folds, and betrayed an
indescribable look of pity, admiration, and horror, as her
dark eye followed the easy motions of the savage. The
tresses of this lady were shining and black, like the
plumage of the raven. Her complexion was not brown, but it
rather appeared charged with the color of the rich blood,
that seemed ready to burst its bounds. And yet there was
neither coarseness nor want of shadowing in a countenance
that was exquisitely regular, and dignified and surpassingly
beautiful. She smiled, as if in pity at her own momentary
forgetfulness, discovering by the act a row of teeth that
would have shamed the purest ivory; when, replacing the
veil, she bowed her face, and rode in silence, like one
whose thoughts were abstracted from the scene around her.

CHAPTER 2

Solasolawo hahosola!"--Shakespeare

While one of the lovely beings we have so cursorily
presented to the reader was thus lost in thoughtthe other
quickly recovered from the alarm which induced the
exclamationandlaughing at her own weaknessshe inquired
of the youth who rode by her side:

Are such specters frequent in the woods, Heyward, or is
this sight an especial entertainment ordered on our behalf?
If the latter, gratitude must close our mouths; but if the
former, both Cora and I shall have need to draw largely on
that stock of hereditary courage which we boast, even before
we are made to encounter the redoubtable Montcalm.

Yon Indian is a 'runner' of the army; and, after the
fashion of his people, he may be accounted a hero,returned


the officer. "He has volunteered to guide us to the lake
by a path but little knownsooner than if we followed the
tardy movements of the column; andby consequencemore
agreeably."

I like him not,said the ladyshudderingpartly in
assumedyet more in real terror. "You know himDuncanor
you would not trust yourself so freely to his keeping?"

Say, rather, Alice, that I would not trust you. I do know
him, or he would not have my confidence, and least of all at
this moment. He is said to be a Canadian too; and yet he
served with our friends the Mohawks, who, as you know, are
one of the six allied nations. He was brought among us, as
I have heard, by some strange accident in which your father
was interested, and in which the savage was rigidly dealt
by; but I forget the idle tale, it is enough, that he is now
our friend.

If he has been my father's enemy, I like him still less!
exclaimed the now really anxious girl. "Will you not speak
to himMajor Heywardthat I may hear his tones? Foolish
though it may beyou have often heard me avow my faith in
the tones of the human voice!"

It would be in vain; and answered, most probably, by an
ejaculation. Though he may understand it, he affects, like
most of his people, to be ignorant of the English; and least
of all will he condescend to speak it, now that the war
demands the utmost exercise of his dignity. But he stops;
the private path by which we are to journey is, doubtless,
at hand.

The conjecture of Major Heyward was true. When they reached
the spot where the Indian stoodpointing into the thicket
that fringed the military road; a narrow and blind path
which mightwith some little inconveniencereceive one
person at a timebecame visible.

Here, then, lies our way,said the young manin a low
voice. "Manifest no distrustor you may invite the danger
you appear to apprehend."

Cora, what think you?asked the reluctant fair one. "If
we journey with the troopsthough we may find their
presence irksomeshall we not feel better assurance of our
safety?"

Being little accustomed to the practices of the savages,
Alice, you mistake the place of real danger,said Heyward.
If enemies have reached the portage at all, a thing by no
means probable, as our scouts are abroad, they will surely
be found skirting the column, where scalps abound the most.
The route of the detachment is known, while ours, having
been determined within the hour, must still be secret.

Should we distrust the man because his manners are not our
manners, and that his skin is dark?coldly asked Cora.

Alice hesitated no longer; but giving her Narrangansett* a
smart cut of the whipshe was the first to dash aside the
slight branches of the bushesand to follow the runner
along the dark and tangled pathway. The young man regarded
the last speaker in open admirationand even permitted her


fairerthough certainly not more beautiful companionto
proceed unattendedwhile he sedulously opened the way
himself for the passage of her who has been called Cora. It
would seem that the domestics had been previously
instructed; forinstead of penetrating the thicketthey
followed the route of the column; a measure which Heyward
stated had been dictated by the sagacity of their guidein
order to diminish the marks of their trailifhaplythe
Canadian savages should be lurking so far in advance of
their army. For many minutes the intricacy of the route
admitted of no further dialogue; after which they emerged
from the broad border of underbrush which grew along the
line of the highwayand entered under the high but dark
arches of the forest. Here their progress was less
interrupted; and the instant the guide perceived that the
females could command their steedshe moved onat a pace
between a trot and a walkand at a rate which kept the surefooted
and peculiar animals they rode at a fast yet easy
amble. The youth had turned to speak to the dark-eyed Cora
when the distant sound of horses hoofsclattering over the
roots of the broken way in his rearcaused him to check his
charger; andas his companions drew their reins at the same
instantthe whole party came to a haltin order to obtain
an explanation of the unlooked-for interruption.

* In the state of Rhode Island there is a bay called
Narragansettso named after a powerful tribe of Indians
which formerly dwelt on its banks. Accidentor one of
those unaccountable freaks which nature sometimes plays in
the animal worldgave rise to a breed of horses which were
once well known in Americaand distinguished by their habit
of pacing. Horses of this race wereand are stillin much
request as saddle horseson account of their hardiness and
the ease of their movements. As they were also sure of
footthe Narragansetts were greatly sought for by females
who were obliged to travel over the roots and holes in the
new countries.
In a few moments a colt was seen glidinglike a fallow
deeramong the straight trunks of the pines; andin
another instantthe person of the ungainly mandescribed
in the preceding chaptercame into viewwith as much
rapidity as he could excite his meager beast to endure
without coming to an open rupture. Until now this personage
had escaped the observation of the travelers. If he
possessed the power to arrest any wandering eye when
exhibiting the glories of his altitude on foothis
equestrian graces were still more likely to attract
attention.

Notwithstanding a constant application of his one armed heel
to the flanks of the marethe most confirmed gait that he
could establish was a Canterbury gallop with the hind legs
in which those more forward assisted for doubtful moments
though generally content to maintain a loping trot. Perhaps
the rapidity of the changes from one of these paces to the
other created an optical illusionwhich might thus magnify
the powers of the beast; for it is certain that Heywardwho
possessed a true eye for the merits of a horsewas unable
with his utmost ingenuityto decide by what sort of
movement his pursuer worked his sinuous way on his footsteps
with such persevering hardihood.

The industry and movements of the rider were not less


remarkable than those of the ridden. At each change in the
evolutions of the latterthe former raised his tall person
in the stirrups; producingin this mannerby the undue
elongation of his legssuch sudden growths and diminishings
of the statureas baffled every conjecture that might be
made as to his dimensions. If to this be added the fact
thatin consequence of the ex parte application of the
spurone side of the mare appeared to journey faster than
the other; and that the aggrieved flank was resolutely
indicated by unremitted flourishes of a bushy tailwe
finish the picture of both horse and man.

The frown which had gathered around the handsomeopenand
manly brow of Heywardgradually relaxedand his lips
curled into a slight smileas he regarded the stranger.
Alice made no very powerful effort to control her merriment;
and even the darkthoughtful eye of Cora lighted with a
humor that it would seemthe habitrather than the nature
of its mistress repressed.

Seek you any here?demanded Heywardwhen the other had
arrived sufficiently nigh to abate his speed; "I trust you
are no messenger of evil tidings?"

Even so,replied the strangermaking diligent use of his
triangular castorto produce a circulation in the close air
of the woodsand leaving his hearers in doubt to which of
the young man's questions he responded; whenhoweverhe
had cooled his faceand recovered his breathhe continued
I hear you are riding to William Henry; as I am journeying
thitherward myself, I concluded good company would seem
consistent to the wishes of both parties.

You appear to possess the privilege of a casting vote,
returned Heyward; "we are threewhile you have consulted no
one but yourself."

Even so. The first point to be obtained is to know one's
own mind. Once sure of that, and where women are concerned
it is not easy, the next is, to act up to the decision. I
have endeavored to do both, and here I am.

If you journey to the lake, you have mistaken your route,
said Heywardhaughtily; "the highway thither is at least
half a mile behind you."

Even so,returned the strangernothing daunted by this
cold reception; "I have tarried at 'Edward' a weekand I
should be dumb not to have inquired the road I was to
journey; and if dumb there would be an end to my calling."
After simpering in a small waylike one whose modesty
prohibited a more open expression of his admiration of a
witticism that was perfectly unintelligible to his hearers
he continuedIt is not prudent for any one of my
profession to be too familiar with those he has to instruct;
for which reason I follow not the line of the army; besides
which, I conclude that a gentleman of your character has the
best judgment in matters of wayfaring; I have, therefore,
decided to join company, in order that the ride may be made
agreeable, and partake of social communion.

A most arbitrary, if not a hasty decision!exclaimed
Heywardundecided whether to give vent to his growing
angeror to laugh in the other's face. "But you speak of


instructionand of a profession; are you an adjunct to the
provincial corpsas a master of the noble science of
defense and offense; orperhapsyou are one who draws
lines and anglesunder the pretense of expounding the
mathematics?"

The stranger regarded his interrogator a moment in wonder;
and thenlosing every mark of self-satisfaction in an
expression of solemn humilityhe answered:

Of offense, I hope there is none, to either party: of
defense, I make none--by God's good mercy, having
committed no palpable sin since last entreating his
pardoning grace. I understand not your allusions about
lines and angles; and I leave expounding to those who have
been called and set apart for that holy office. I lay claim
to no higher gift than a small insight into the glorious art
of petitioning and thanksgiving, as practiced in psalmody.

The man is, most manifestly, a disciple of Apollo,cried
the amused Aliceand I take him under my own especial
protection. Nay, throw aside that frown, Heyward, and in
pity to my longing ears, suffer him to journey in our train.
Besides,she addedin a low and hurried voicecasting a
glance at the distant Corawho slowly followed the
footsteps of their silentbut sullen guideit may be a
friend added to our strength, in time of need.

Think you, Alice, that I would trust those I love by this
secret path, did I imagine such need could happen?

Nay, nay, I think not of it now; but this strange man
amuses me; and if he 'hath music in his soul', let us not
churlishly reject his company.She pointed persuasively
along the path with her riding whipwhile their eyes met in
a look which the young man lingered a moment to prolong;
thenyielding to her gentle influencehe clapped his spurs
into his chargerand in a few bounds was again at the side
of Cora.

I am glad to encounter thee, friend,continued the maiden
waving her hand to the stranger to proceedas she urged her
Narragansett to renew its amble. "Partial relatives have
almost persuaded me that I am not entirely worthless in a
duet myself; and we may enliven our wayfaring by indulging
in our favorite pursuit. It might be of signal advantage to
oneignorant as Ito hear the opinions and experience of a
master in the art."

It is refreshing both to the spirits and to the body to
indulge in psalmody, in befitting seasons,returned the
master of songunhesitatingly complying with her intimation
to follow; "and nothing would relieve the mind more than
such a consoling communion. But four parts are altogether
necessary to the perfection of melody. You have all the
manifestations of a soft and rich treble; I canby especial
aidcarry a full tenor to the highest letter; but we lack
counter and bass! Yon officer of the kingwho hesitated to
admit me to his companymight fill the latterif one may
judge from the intonations of his voice in common dialogue."

Judge not too rashly from hasty and deceptive appearances,
said the ladysmiling; "though Major Heyward can assume
such deep notes on occasionbelieve mehis natural tones


are better fitted for a mellow tenor than the bass you
heard."

Is he, then, much practiced in the art of psalmody?
demanded her simple companion.

Alice felt disposed to laughthough she succeeded in
suppressing her merrimentere she answered:

I apprehend that he is rather addicted to profane song.
The chances of a soldier's life are but little fitted for
the encouragement of more sober inclinations.

Man's voice is given to him, like his other talents, to be
used, and not to be abused. None can say they have ever
known me to neglect my gifts! I am thankful that, though my
boyhood may be said to have been set apart, like the youth
of the royal David, for the purposes of music, no syllable
of rude verse has ever profaned my lips.

You have, then, limited your efforts to sacred song?

Even so. As the psalms of David exceed all other language,
so does the psalmody that has been fitted to them by the
divines and sages of the land, surpass all vain poetry.
Happily, I may say that I utter nothing but the thoughts and
the wishes of the King of Israel himself; for though the
times may call for some slight changes, yet does this
version which we use in the colonies of New England so much
exceed all other versions, that, by its richness, its
exactness, and its spiritual simplicity, it approacheth, as
near as may be, to the great work of the inspired writer. I
never abid in any place, sleeping or waking, without an
example of this gifted work. 'Tis the six-and-twentieth
edition, promulgated at Boston, Anno Domini 1744; and is
entitled, 'The Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs of the Old
and New Testaments; faithfully translated into English
Metre, for the Use, Edification, and Comfort of the Saints,
in Public and Private, especially in New England'.

During this eulogium on the rare production of his native
poetsthe stranger had drawn the book from his pocketand
fitting a pair of iron-rimmed spectacles to his noseopened
the volume with a care and veneration suited to its sacred
purposes. Thenwithout circumlocution or apologyfirst
pronounced the word "Standish and placing the unknown
engine, already described, to his mouth, from which he drew
a high, shrill sound, that was followed by an octave below,
from his own voice, he commenced singing the following
words, in full, sweet, and melodious tones, that set the
music, the poetry, and even the uneasy motion of his illtrained
beast at defiance; How good it isO seeAnd how
it pleaseth wellTogether e'en in unityFor brethren so to
dwell. "It's like the choice ointmentFrom the head to the
beard did go; Down Aaron's headthat downward went His
garment's skirts unto."

The delivery of these skillful rhymes was accompaniedon
the part of the strangerby a regular rise and fall of his
right handwhich terminated at the descentby suffering
the fingers to dwell a moment on the leaves of the little
volume; and on the ascentby such a flourish of the member
as none but the initiated may ever hope to imitate. It
would seem long practice had rendered this manual


accompaniment necessary; for it did not cease until the
preposition which the poet had selected for the close of his
verse had been duly delivered like a word of two syllables.

Such an innovation on the silence and retirement of the
forest could not fail to enlist the ears of those who
journeyed at so short a distance in advance. The Indian
muttered a few words in broken English to Heywardwhoin
his turnspoke to the stranger; at once interruptingand
for the timeclosing his musical efforts.

Though we are not in danger, common prudence would teach us
to journey through this wilderness in as quiet a manner as
possible. You will then, pardon me, Alice, should I
diminish your enjoyments, by requesting this gentleman to
postpone his chant until a safer opportunity.

You will diminish them, indeed,returned the arch girl;
for never did I hear a more unworthy conjunction of
execution and language than that to which I have been
listening; and I was far gone in a learned inquiry into the
causes of such an unfitness between sound and sense, when
you broke the charm of my musings by that bass of yours,
Duncan!

I know not what you call my bass,said Heywardpiqued at
her remarkbut I know that your safety, and that of Cora,
is far dearer to me than could be any orchestra of Handel's
music.He paused and turned his head quickly toward a
thicketand then bent his eyes suspiciously on their guide
who continued his steady pacein undisturbed gravity. The
young man smiled to himselffor he believed he had mistaken
some shining berry of the woods for the glistening eyeballs
of a prowling savageand he rode forwardcontinuing the
conversation which had been interrupted by the passing
thought.

Major Heyward was mistaken only in suffering his youthful
and generous pride to suppress his active watchfulness. The
cavalcade had not long passedbefore the branches of the
bushes that formed the thicket were cautiously moved
asunderand a human visageas fiercely wild as savage art
and unbridled passions could make itpeered out on the
retiring footsteps of the travelers. A gleam of exultation
shot across the darkly-painted lineaments of the inhabitant
of the forestas he traced the route of his intended
victimswho rode unconsciously onwardthe light and
graceful forms of the females waving among the treesin the
curvatures of their pathfollowed at each bend by the manly
figure of Heywarduntilfinallythe shapeless person of
the singing master was concealed behind the numberless
trunks of treesthat rosein dark linesin the
intermediate space.

CHAPTER 3

Before these fields were shorn and till'd, Full to the brim
our rivers flow'd; The melody of waters fill'd The fresh and
boundless wood; And torrents dash'd, and rivulets play'd,
And fountains spouted in the shade.--Bryant

Leaving the unsuspecting Heyward and his confiding


companions to penetrate still deeper into a forest that
contained such treacherous inmateswe must use an author's
privilegeand shift the scene a few miles to the westward
of the place where we have last seen them.

On that daytwo men were lingering on the banks of a small
but rapid streamwithin an hour's journey of the encampment
of Webblike those who awaited the appearance of an absent
personor the approach of some expected event. The vast
canopy of woods spread itself to the margin of the river
overhanging the waterand shadowing its dark current with a
deeper hue. The rays of the sun were beginning to grow less
fierceand the intense heat of the day was lessenedas the
cooler vapors of the springs and fountains rose above their
leafy bedsand rested in the atmosphere. Still that
breathing silencewhich marks the drowsy sultriness of an
American landscape in Julypervaded the secluded spot
interrupted only by the low voices of the menthe
occasional and lazy tap of a woodpeckerthe discordant cry
of some gaudy jayor a swelling on the earfrom the dull
roar of a distant waterfall. These feeble and broken sounds
werehowevertoo familiar to the foresters to draw their
attention from the more interesting matter of their
dialogue. While one of these loiterers showed the red skin
and wild accouterments of a native of the woodsthe other
exhibitedthrough the mask of his rude and nearly savage
equipmentsthe brighterthough sun-burned and long-faced
complexion of one who might claim descent from a European
parentage. The former was seated on the end of a mossy log
in a posture that permitted him to heighten the effect of
his earnest languageby the calm but expressive gestures of
an Indian engaged in debate. his bodywhich was nearly
nakedpresented a terrific emblem of deathdrawn in
intermingled colors of white and black. His closely-shaved
headon which no other hair than the well-known and
chivalrous scalping tuft* was preservedwas without
ornament of any kindwith the exception of a solitary
eagle's plumethat crossed his crownand depended over the
left shoulder. A tomahawk and scalping knifeof English
manufacturewere in his girdle; while a short military
rifleof that sort with which the policy of the whites
armed their savage allieslay carelessly across his bare
and sinewy knee. The expanded chestfull formed limbsand
grave countenance of this warriorwould denote that he had
reached the vigor of his daysthough no symptoms of decay
appeared to have yet weakened his manhood.

* The North American warrior caused the hair to be
plucked from his whole body; a small tuft was left on the
crown of his headin order that his enemy might avail
himself of itin wrenching off the scalp in the event of
his fall. The scalp was the only admissible trophy of
victory. Thusit was deemed more important to obtain the
scalp than to kill the man. Some tribes lay great stress on
the honor of striking a dead body. These practices have
nearly disappeared among the Indians of the Atlantic states.
The frame of the white manjudging by such parts as were
not concealed by his clotheswas like that of one who had
known hardships and exertion from his earliest youth. His
personthough muscularwas rather attenuated than full;
but every nerve and muscle appeared strung and indurated by
unremitted exposure and toil. He wore a hunting shirt of
forest-greenfringed with faded yellow*and a summer cap


of skins which had been shorn of their fur. He also bore a
knife in a girdle of wampumlike that which confined the
scanty garments of the Indianbut no tomahawk. His
moccasins were ornamented after the gay fashion of the
nativeswhile the only part of his under dress which
appeared below the hunging frock was a pair of buckskin
leggingsthat laced at the sidesand which were gartered
above the kneeswith the sinews of a deer. A pouch and
horn completed his personal accoutermentsthough a rifle of
great length**which the theory of the more ingenious whites
had taught them was the most dangerous of all firearms
leaned against a neighboring sapling. The eye of the
hunteror scoutwhichever he might bewas smallquick
keenand restlessroving while he spokeon every side of
himas if in quest of gameor distrusting the sudden
approach of some lurking enemy. Notwithstanding the
symptoms of habitual suspicionhis countenance was not only
without guilebut at the moment at which he is introduced
it was charged with an expression of sturdy honesty.

* The hunting-shirt is a picturesque smock-frock
being shorterand ornamented with fringes and tassels. The
colors are intended to imitate the hues of the woodwith a
view to concealment. Many corps of American riflemen have
been thus attiredand the dress is one of the most striking
of modern times. The hunting-shirt is frequently white.
** The rifle of the army is short; that of the hunter
is always long.

Even your traditions make the case in my favor,
Chingachgook,he saidspeaking in the tongue which was
known to all the natives who formerly inhabited the country
between the Hudson and the Potomacand of which we shall
give a free translation for the benefit of the reader;
endeavoringat the same timeto preserve some of the
peculiaritiesboth of the individual and of the language.
Your fathers came from the setting sun, crossed the big
river*, fought the people of the country, and took the land;
and mine came from the red sky of the morning, over the salt
lake, and did their work much after the fashion that had
been set them by yours; then let God judge the matter
between us, and friends spare their words!

* The Mississippi. The scout alludes to a tradition
which is very popular among the tribes of the Atlantic
states. Evidence of their Asiatic origin is deduced from
the circumstancesthough great uncertainty hangs over the
whole history of the Indians.
My fathers fought with the naked red man!returned the
Indiansternlyin the same language. "Is there no
differenceHawkeyebetween the stone-headed arrow of the
warriorand the leaden bullet with which you kill?"

There is reason in an Indian, though nature has made him
with a red skin!said the white manshaking his head like
one on whom such an appeal to his justice was not thrown
away. For a moment he appeared to be conscious of having
the worst of the argumentthenrallying againhe answered
the objection of his antagonist in the best manner his
limited information would allow:

I am no scholar, and I care not who knows it; but, judging


from what I have seen, at deer chases and squirrel hunts, of
the sparks below, I should think a rifle in the hands of
their grandfathers was not so dangerous as a hickory bow and
a good flint-head might be, if drawn with Indian judgment,
and sent by an Indian eye.

You have the story told by your fathers,returned the
othercoldly waving his hand. "What say your old men? Do
they tell the young warriors that the pale faces met the red
menpainted for war and armed with the stone hatchet and
wooden gun?"

I am not a prejudiced man, nor one who vaunts himself on
his natural privileges, though the worst enemy I have on
earth, and he is an Iroquois, daren't deny that I am genuine
white,the scout repliedsurveyingwith secret
satisfactionthe faded color of his bony and sinewy hand
and I am willing to own that my people have many ways, of
which, as an honest man, I can't approve. It is one of
their customs to write in books what they have done and
seen, instead of telling them in their villages, where the
lie can be given to the face of a cowardly boaster, and the
brave soldier can call on his comrades to witness for the
truth of his words. In consequence of this bad fashion, a
man, who is too conscientious to misspend his days among the
women, in learning the names of black marks, may never hear
of the deeds of his fathers, nor feel a pride in striving to
outdo them. For myself, I conclude the Bumppos could shoot,
for I have a natural turn with a rifle, which must have been
handed down from generation to generation, as, our holy
commandments tell us, all good and evil gifts are bestowed;
though I should be loath to answer for other people in such
a matter. But every story has its two sides; so I ask you,
Chingachgook, what passed, according to the traditions of
the red men, when our fathers first met?

A silence of a minute succeededduring which the Indian sat
mute; thenfull of the dignity of his officehe commenced
his brief talewith a solemnity that served to heighten its
appearance of truth.

Listen, Hawkeye, and your ear shall drink no lie. 'Tis
what my fathers have said, and what the Mohicans have done.
He hesitated a single instantand bending a cautious glance
toward his companionhe continuedin a manner that was
divided between interrogation and assertion. "Does not this
stream at our feet run toward the summeruntil its waters
grow saltand the current flows upward?"

It can't be denied that your traditions tell you true in
both these matters,said the white man; "for I have been
thereand have seen themthough why waterwhich is so
sweet in the shadeshould become bitter in the sunis an
alteration for which I have never been able to account."

And the current!demanded the Indianwho expected his
reply with that sort of interest that a man feels in the
confirmation of testimonyat which he marvels even while he
respects it; "the fathers of Chingachgook have not lied!"

The holy Bible is not more true, and that is the truest
thing in nature. They call this up-stream current the tide,
which is a thing soon explained, and clear enough. Six
hours the waters run in, and six hours they run out, and the


reason is this: when there is higher water in the sea than
in the river, they run in until the river gets to be
highest, and then it runs out again.

The waters in the woods, and on the great lakes, run
downward until they lie like my hand,said the Indian
stretching the limb horizontally before himand then they
run no more.

No honest man will deny it,said the scouta little
nettled at the implied distrust of his explanation of the
mystery of the tides; "and I grant that it is true on the
small scaleand where the land is level. But everything
depends on what scale you look at things. Nowon the small
scalethe 'arth is level; but on the large scale it is
round. In this mannerpools and pondsand even the great
fresh-water lakesmay be stagnantas you and I both know
they arehaving seen them; but when you come to spread
water over a great tractlike the seawhere the earth is
roundhow in reason can the water be quiet? You might as
well expect the river to lie still on the brink of those
black rocks a mile above usthough your own ears tell you
that it is tumbling over them at this very moment."

If unsatisfied by the philosophy of his companionthe
Indian was far too dignified to betray his unbelief. He
listened like one who was convincedand resumed his
narrative in his former solemn manner.

We came from the place where the sun is hid at night, over
great plains where the buffaloes live, until we reached the
big river. There we fought the Alligewi, till the ground
was red with their blood. From the banks of the big river
to the shores of the salt lake, there was none to meet us.
The Maquas followed at a distance. We said the country
should be ours from the place where the water runs up no
longer on this stream, to a river twenty sun's journey
toward the summer. We drove the Maquas into the woods with
the bears. They only tasted salt at the licks; they drew no
fish from the great lake; we threw them the bones.

All this I have heard and believe,said the white man
observing that the Indian paused; "but it was long before
the English came into the country."

A pine grew then where this chestnut now stands. The first
pale faces who came among us spoke no English. They came in
a large canoe, when my fathers had buried the tomahawk with
the red men around them. Then, Hawkeye,he continued
betraying his deep emotiononly by permitting his voice to
fall to those lowguttural toneswhich render his
languageas spoken at timesso very musical; "then
Hawkeyewe were one peopleand we were happy. The salt
lake gave us its fishthe wood its deerand the air its
birds. We took wives who bore us children; we worshipped
the Great Spirit; and we kept the Maquas beyond the sound of
our songs of triumph."

Know you anything of your own family at that time?
demanded the white. "But you are just a manfor an Indian;
and as I suppose you hold their giftsyour fathers must
have been brave warriorsand wise men at the council-fire."

My tribe is the grandfather of nations, but I am an unmixed


man. The blood of chiefs is in my veins, where it must stay
forever. The Dutch landed, and gave my people the firewater;
they drank until the heavens and the earth seemed to
meet, and they foolishly thought they had found the Great
Spirit. Then they parted with their land. Foot by foot,
they were driven back from the shores, until I, that am a
chief and a Sagamore, have never seen the sun shine but
through the trees, and have never visited the graves of my
fathers.

Graves bring solemn feelings over the mind,returned the
scouta good deal touched at the calm suffering of his
companion; "and they often aid a man in his good intentions;
thoughfor myselfI expect to leave my own bones unburied
to bleach in the woodsor to be torn asunder by the wolves.
But where are to be found those of your race who came to
their kin in the Delaware countryso many summers since?"

Where are the blossoms of those summers!--fallen, one by
one; so all of my family departed, each in his turn, to the
land of spirits. I am on the hilltop and must go down into
the valley; and when Uncas follows in my footsteps there
will no longer be any of the blood of the Sagamores, for my
boy is the last of the Mohicans.

Uncas is here,said another voicein the same soft
guttural tonesnear his elbow; "who speaks to Uncas?"

The white man loosened his knife in his leathern sheathand
made an involuntary movement of the hand toward his rifle
at this sudden interruption; but the Indian sat composed
and without turning his head at the unexpected sounds.

At the next instanta youthful warrior passed between them
with a noiseless stepand seated himself on the bank of the
rapid stream. No exclamation of surprise escaped the
fathernor was any question askedor reply givenfor
several minutes; each appearing to await the moment when he
might speakwithout betraying womanish curiosity or
childish impatience. The white man seemed to take counsel
from their customsandrelinquishing his grasp of the
riflehe also remained silent and reserved. At length
Chingachgook turned his eyes slowly toward his sonand
demanded:

Do the Maquas dare to leave the print of their moccasins in
these woods?

I have been on their trail,replied the young Indianand
know that they number as many as the fingers of my two
hands; but they lie hid like cowards.

The thieves are outlying for scalps and plunder,said the
white manwhom we shall call Hawkeyeafter the manner of
his companions. "That busy FrenchmanMontcalmwill send
his spies into our very campbut he will know what road we
travel!"

'Tis enough,returned the fatherglancing his eye toward
the setting sun; "they shall be driven like deer from their
bushes. Hawkeyelet us eat to-nightand show the Maquas
that we are men to-morrow."

I am as ready to do the one as the other; but to fight the


Iroquois 'tis necessary to find the skulkers; and to eat,
'tis necessary to get the game--talk of the devil and he
will come; there is a pair of the biggest antlers I have
seen this season, moving the bushes below the hill! Now,
Uncas,he continuedin a half whisperand laughing with a
kind of inward soundlike one who had learned to be
watchfulI will bet my charger three times full of powder,
against a foot of wampum, that I take him atwixt the eyes,
and nearer to the right than to the left.

It cannot be!said the young Indianspringing to his feet
with youthful eagerness; "all but the tips of his horns are
hid!"

He's a boy!said the white manshaking his head while he
spokeand addressing the father. "Does he think when a
hunter sees a part of the creature'he can't tell where the
rest of him should be!"

Adjusting his riflehe was about to make an exhibition of
that skill on which he so much valued himselfwhen the
warrior struck up the piece with his handsaying:

Hawkeye! will you fight the Maquas?

These Indians know the nature of the woods, as it might be
by instinct!returned the scoutdropping his rifleand
turning away like a man who was convinced of his error. "I
must leave the buck to your arrowUncasor we may kill a
deer for them thievesthe Iroquoisto eat."

The instant the father seconded this intimation by an
expressive gesture of the handUncas threw himself on the
groundand approached the animal with wary movements. When
within a few yards of the coverhe fitted an arrow to his
bow with the utmost carewhile the antlers movedas if
their owner snuffed an enemy in the tainted air. In another
moment the twang of the cord was hearda white streak was
seen glancing into the bushesand the wounded buck plunged
from the coverto the very feet of his hidden enemy.
Avoiding the horns of the infuriated animalUncas darted to
his sideand passed his knife across the throatwhen
bounding to the edge of the river it felldyeing the waters
with its blood.

'Twas done with Indian skill,said the scout laughing
inwardlybut with vast satisfaction; "and 'twas a pretty
sight to behold! Though an arrow is a near shotand needs
a knife to finish the work."

Hugh!ejaculated his companionturning quicklylike a
hound who scented game.

By the Lord, there is a drove of them!exclaimed the
scoutwhose eyes began to glisten with the ardor of his
usual occupation; "if they come within range of a bullet I
will drop onethough the whole Six Nations should be
lurking within sound! What do you hearChingachgook? for
to my ears the woods are dumb."

There is but one deer, and he is dead,said the Indian
bending his body till his ear nearly touched the earth. "I
hear the sounds of feet!"


Perhaps the wolves have driven the buck to shelter, and are
following on his trail.

No. The horses of white men are coming!returned the
otherraising himself with dignityand resuming his seat
on the log with his former composure. "Hawkeyethey are
your brothers; speak to them."

That I will, and in English that the king needn't be
ashamed to answer,returned the hunterspeaking in the
language of which he boasted; "but I see nothingnor do I
hear the sounds of man or beast; 'tis strange that an Indian
should understand white sounds better than a man whohis
very enemies will ownhas no cross in his bloodalthough
he may have lived with the red skins long enough to be
suspected! Ha! there goes something like the cracking of a
dry sticktoo--now I hear the bushes move--yesyes
there is a trampling that I mistook for the falls--and-but
here they come themselves; God keep them from the
Iroquois!"

CHAPTER 4

Well go thy way: thou shalt not from this grove Till I
torment thee for this injury.--Midsummer Night's Dream.

The words were still in the mouth of the scoutwhen the
leader of the partywhose approaching footsteps had caught
the vigilant ear of the Indiancame openly into view. A
beaten pathsuch as those made by the periodical passage of
the deerwound through a little glen at no great distance
and struck the river at the point where the white man and
his red companions had posted themselves. Along this track
the travelerswho had produced a surprise so unusual in the
depths of the forestadvanced slowly toward the hunterwho
was in front of his associatesin readiness to receive
them.

Who comes?demanded the scoutthrowing his rifle
carelessly across his left armand keeping the forefinger
of his right hand on the triggerthough he avoided all
appearance of menace in the act. "Who comes hitheramong
the beasts and dangers of the wilderness?"

Believers in religion, and friends to the law and to the
king,returned he who rode foremost. "Men who have
journeyed since the rising sunin the shades of this
forestwithout nourishmentand are sadly tired of their
wayfaring."

You are, then, lost,interrupted the hunterand have
found how helpless 'tis not to know whether to take the
right hand or the left?

Even so; sucking babes are not more dependent on those who
guide them than we who are of larger growth, and who may now
be said to possess the stature without the knowledge of men.
Know you the distance to a post of the crown called William
Henry?

Hoot!shouted the scoutwho did not spare his open


laughterthough instantly checking the dangerous sounds he
indulged his merriment at less risk of being overheard by
any lurking enemies. "You are as much off the scent as a
hound would bewith Horican atwixt him and the deer!
William Henryman! if you are friends to the king and have
business with the armyyour way would be to follow the
river down to Edwardand lay the matter before Webbwho
tarries thereinstead of pushing into the defilesand
driving this saucy Frenchman back across Champlaininto his
den again."

Before the stranger could make any reply to this unexpected
propositionanother horseman dashed the bushes asideand
leaped his charger into the pathwayin front of his
companion.

What, then, may be our distance from Fort Edward?demanded
a new speaker; "the place you advise us to seek we left this
morningand our destination is the head of the lake."

Then you must have lost your eyesight afore losing your
way, for the road across the portage is cut to a good two
rods, and is as grand a path, I calculate, as any that runs
into London, or even before the palace of the king himself.

We will not dispute concerning the excellence of the
passage,returned Heywardsmiling; foras the reader has
anticipatedit was he. "It is enoughfor the present
that we trusted to an Indian guide to take us by a nearerthough
blinder pathand that we are deceived in his knowledge. In
plain wordswe know not where we are."

An Indian lost in the woods!said the scoutshaking his
head doubtingly; "When the sun is scorching the tree tops
and the water courses are full; when the moss on every beech
he sees will tell him in what quarter the north star will
shine at night. The woods are full of deer-paths which run
to the streams and licksplaces well known to everybody;
nor have the geese done their flight to the Canada waters
altogether! 'Tis strange that an Indian should be lost
atwixt Horican and the bend in the river! Is he a Mohawk?"

Not by birth, though adopted in that tribe; I think his
birthplace was farther north, and he is one of those you
call a Huron.

Hugh!exclaimed the two companions of the scoutwho had
continued until this part of the dialogueseated immovable
and apparently indifferent to what passedbut who now
sprang to their feet with an activity and interest that had
evidently got the better of their reserve by surprise.

A Huron!repeated the sturdy scoutonce more shaking his
head in open distrust; "they are a thievish racenor do I
care by whom they are adopted; you can never make anything
of them but skulls and vagabonds. Since you trusted
yourself to the care of one of that nationI only wonder
that you have not fallen in with more."

Of that there is little danger, since William Henry is so
many miles in our front. You forget that I have told you
our guide is now a Mohawk, and that he serves with our
forces as a friend.


And I tell you that he who is born a Mingo will die a
Mingo,returned the other positively. "A Mohawk! Nogive
me a Delaware or a Mohican for honesty; and when
they will fightwhich they won't all dohaving suffered
their cunning enemiesthe Maquasto make them women--but
when they will fight at alllook to a Delawareor a
Mohicanfor a warrior!"

Enough of this,said Heywardimpatiently; "I wish not to
inquire into the character of a man that I knowand to whom
you must be a stranger. You have not yet answered my
question; what is our distance from the main army at
Edward?"

It seems that may depend on who is your guide. One would
think such a horse as that might get over a good deal of
ground atwixt sun-up and sun-down.

I wish no contention of idle words with you, friend,said
Heywardcurbing his dissatisfied mannerand speaking in a
more gentle voice; "if you will tell me the distance to Fort
Edwardand conduct me thitheryour labor shall not go
without its reward."

And in so doing, how know I that I don't guide an enemy and
a spy of Montcalm, to the works of the army? It is not every
man who can speak the English tongue that is an honest
subject.

If you serve with the troops, of whom I judge you to be a
scout, you should know of such a regiment of the king as the
Sixtieth.

The Sixtieth! you can tell me little of the Royal Americans
that I don't know, though I do wear a hunting-shirt instead
of a scarlet jacket.

Well, then, among other things, you may know the name of
its major?

Its major!interrupted the hunterelevating his body like
one who was proud of his trust. "If there is a man in the
country who knows Major Effinghamhe stands before you."

It is a corps which has many majors; the gentleman you
name is the senior, but I speak of the junior of them all;
he who commands the companies in garrison at William Henry.

Yes, yes, I have heard that a young gentleman of vast
riches, from one of the provinces far south, has got the
place. He is over young, too, to hold such rank, and to be
put above men whose heads are beginning to bleach; and yet
they say he is a soldier in his knowledge, and a gallant
gentleman!

Whatever he may be, or however he may be qualified for his
rank, he now speaks to you and, of course, can be no enemy
to dread.

The scout regarded Heyward in surpriseand then lifting his
caphe answeredin a tone less confident than before-though
still expressing doubt.

I have heard a party was to leave the encampment this


morning for the lake shore?

You have heard the truth; but I preferred a nearer route,
trusting to the knowledge of the Indian I mentioned.

And he deceived you, and then deserted?

Neither, as I believe; certainly not the latter, for he is
to be found in the rear.

I should like to look at the creature'; if it is a true
Iroquois I can tell him by his knavish look, and by his
paint,said the scout; stepping past the charger of
Heywardand entering the path behind the mare of the
singing masterwhose foal had taken advantage of the halt
to exact the maternal contribution. After shoving aside the
bushesand proceeding a few paceshe encountered the
femaleswho awaited the result of the conference with
anxietyand not entirely without apprehension. Behind
thesethe runner leaned against a treewhere he stood the
close examination of the scout with an air unmovedthough
with a look so dark and savagethat it might in itself
excite fear. Satisfied with his scrutinythe hunter soon
left him. As he repassed the femaleshe paused a moment to
gaze upon their beautyanswering to the smile and nod of
Alice with a look of open pleasure. Thence he went to the
side of the motherly animaland spending a minute in a
fruitless inquiry into the character of her riderhe shook
his head and returned to Heyward.

A Mingo is a Mingo, and God having made him so, neither the
Mohawks nor any other tribe can alter him,he saidwhen he
had regained his former position. "If we were aloneand
you would leave that noble horse at the mercy of the wolves
to-nightI could show you the way to Edward myselfwithin
an hourfor it lies only about an hour's journey hence; but
with such ladies in your company 'tis impossible!"

And why? They are fatigued, but they are quite equal to a
ride of a few more miles.

'Tis a natural impossibility!repeated the scout; "I
wouldn't walk a mile in these woods after night gets into
themin company with that runnerfor the best rifle in the
colonies. They are full of outlying Iroquoisand your
mongrel Mohawk knows where to find them too well to be my
companion."

Think you so?said Heywardleaning forward in the saddle
and dropping his voice nearly to a whisper; "I confess I
have not been without my own suspicionsthough I have
endeavored to conceal themand affected a confidence I have
not always felton account of my companions. It was
because I suspected him that I would follow no longer;
making himas you seefollow me."

I knew he was one of the cheats as soon as I laid eyes on
him!returned the scoutplacing a finger on his nosein
sign of caution.

The thief is leaning against the foot of the sugar sapling,
that you can see over them bushes; his right leg is in a
line with the bark of the tree, and,tapping his rifleI
can take him from where I stand, between the angle and the


knee, with a single shot, putting an end to his tramping
through the woods, for at least a month to come. If I
should go back to him, the cunning varmint would suspect
something, and be dodging through the trees like a
frightened deer.

It will not do. He may be innocent, and I dislike the act.
Though, if I felt confident of his treachery--

'Tis a safe thing to calculate on the knavery of an
Iroquois,said the scoutthrowing his rifle forwardby a
sort of instinctive movement.

Hold!interrupted Heywardit will not do--we must
think of some other scheme--and yet, I have much reason to
believe the rascal has deceived me.

The hunterwho had already abandoned his intention of
maiming the runnermused a momentand then made a gesture
which instantly brought his two red companions to his side.
They spoke together earnestly in the Delaware language
though in an undertone; and by the gestures of the white
manwhich were frequently directed towards the top of the
saplingit was evident he pointed out the situation of
their hidden enemy. His companions were not long in
comprehending his wishesand laying aside their firearms
they partedtaking opposite sides of the pathand burying
themselves in the thicketwith such cautious movements
that their steps were inaudible.

Now, go you back,said the hunterspeaking again to
Heywardand hold the imp in talk; these Mohicans here will
take him without breaking his paint.

Nay,said HeywardproudlyI will seize him myself.

Hist! what could you do, mounted, against an Indian in the
bushes!

I will dismount.

And, think you, when he saw one of your feet out of the
stirrup, he would wait for the other to be free? Whoever
comes into the woods to deal with the natives, must use
Indian fashions, if he would wish to prosper in his
undertakings. Go, then; talk openly to the miscreant, and
seem to believe him the truest friend you have on 'arth.

Heyward prepared to complythough with strong disgust at
the nature of the office he was compelled to execute. Each
momenthoweverpressed upon him a conviction of the
critical situation in which he had suffered his invaluable
trust to be involved through his own confidence. The sun
had already disappearedand the woodssuddenly deprived of
his light*were assuming a dusky huewhich keenly reminded
him that the hour the savage usually chose for his most
barbarous and remorseless acts of vengeance or hostility
was speedily drawing near. Stimulated by apprehensionhe
left the scoutwho immediately entered into a loud
conversation with the stranger that had so unceremoniously
enlisted himself in the party of travelers that morning. In
passing his gentler companions Heyward uttered a few words
of encouragementand was pleased to find thatthough
fatigued with the exercise of the daythey appeared to


entertain no suspicion that their present embarrassment was
other than the result of accident. Giving them reason to
believe he was merely employed in a consultation concerning
the future routehe spurred his chargerand drew the reins
again when the animal had carried him within a few yards of
the place where the sullen runner still stoodleaning
against the tree.

* The scene of this tale was in the 42d degree of
latitudewhere the twilight is never of long continuation.
You may see, Magua,he saidendeavoring to assume an air
of freedom and confidencethat the night is closing around
us, and yet we are no nearer to William Henry than when we
left the encampment of Webb with the rising sun.


You have missed the waynor have I been more fortunate.
Buthappilywe have fallen in with a hunterhe whom you
hear talking to the singerthat is acquainted with the
deerpaths and by-ways of the woodsand who promises to lead
us to a place where we may rest securely till the morning."


The Indian riveted his glowing eyes on Heyward as he asked
in his imperfect EnglishIs he alone?


Alone!hesitatingly answered Heywardto whom deception
was too new to be assumed without embarrassment. "Oh! not
alonesurelyMaguafor you know that we are with him."


Then Le Renard Subtil will go,returned the runnercoolly
raising his little wallet from the place where it had lain
at his feet; "and the pale faces will see none but their own
color."


Go! Whom call you Le Renard?


'Tis the name his Canada fathers have given to Magua,
returned the runnerwith an air that manifested his pride
at the distinction. "Night is the same as day to Le Subtil
when Munro waits for him."


And what account will Le Renard give the chief of William
Henry concerning his daughters? Will he dare to tell the hot-
blooded Scotsman that his children are left without a guide,
though Magua promised to be one?


Though the gray head has a loud voice, and a long arm, Le
Renard will not hear him, nor feel him, in the woods.


But what will the Mohawks say? They will make him
petticoats, and bid him stay in the wigwam with the women,
for he is no longer to be trusted with the business of a
man.


Le Subtil knows the path to the great lakes, and he can
find the bones of his fathers,was the answer of the
unmoved runner.


Enough, Magua,said Heyward; "are we not friends?
Why should there be bitter words between us? Munro has
promised you a gift for your services when performedand I
shall be your debtor for another. Rest your weary limbs
thenand open your wallet to eat. We have a few moments to
spare; let us not waste them in talk like wrangling women.



When the ladies are refreshed we will proceed."

The pale faces make themselves dogs to their women,
muttered the Indianin his native languageand when they
want to eat, their warriors must lay aside the tomahawk to
feed their laziness.

What say you, Renard?

Le Subtil says it is good.

The Indian then fastened his eyes keenly on the open
countenance of Heywardbut meeting his glancehe turned
them quickly awayand seating himself deliberately on the
groundhe drew forth the remnant of some former repastand
began to eatthough not without first bending his looks
slowly and cautiously around him.

This is well,continued Heyward; "and Le Renard will have
strength and sight to find the path in the morning"; he
pausedfor sounds like the snapping of a dried stickand
the rustling of leavesrose from the adjacent bushesbut
recollecting himself instantlyhe continuedwe must be
moving before the sun is seen, or Montcalm may lie in our
path, and shut us out from the fortress.

The hand of Magua dropped from his mouth to his sideand
though his eyes were fastened on the groundhis head was
turned asidehis nostrils expandedand his ears seemed
even to stand more erect than usualgiving to him the
appearance of a statue that was made to represent intense
attention.

Heywardwho watched his movements with a vigilant eye
carelessly extricated one of his feet from the stirrup
while he passed a hand toward the bear-skin covering of his
holsters.

Every effort to detect the point most regarded by the runner
was completely frustrated by the tremulous glances of his
organswhich seemed not to rest a single instant on any
particular objectand whichat the same timecould be
hardly said to move. While he hesitated how to proceedLe
Subtil cautiously raised himself to his feetthough with a
motion so slow and guardedthat not the slightest noise was
produced by the change. Heyward felt it had now become
incumbent on him to act. Throwing his leg over the saddle
he dismountedwith a determination to advance and seize his
treacherous companiontrusting the result to his own
manhood. In orderhoweverto prevent unnecessary alarm
he still preserved an air of calmness and friendship.

Le Renard Subtil does not eat,he saidusing the
appellation he had found most flattering to the vanity of
the Indian. "His corn is not well parchedand it seems
dry. Let me examine; perhaps something may be found among
my own provisions that will help his appetite."

Magua held out the wallet to the proffer of the other. He
even suffered their hands to meetwithout betraying the
least emotionor varying his riveted attitude of attention.
But when he felt the fingers of Heyward moving gently along
his own naked armhe struck up the limb of the young man
anduttering a piercing cryhe darted beneath itand


plungedat a single boundinto the opposite thicket. At
the next instant the form of Chingachgook appeared from the
busheslooking like a specter in its paintand glided
across the path in swift pursuit. Next followed the shout
of Uncaswhen the woods were lighted by a sudden flash
that was accompanied by the sharp report of the hunter's
rifle.

CHAPTER 5

..."In such a night Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew;
And saw the lion's shadow ere himself." Merchant of Venice

The suddenness of the flight of his guideand the wild
cries of the pursuerscaused Heyward to remain fixedfor a
few momentsin inactive surprise. Then recollecting the
importance of securing the fugitivehe dashed aside the
surrounding bushesand pressed eagerly forward to lend his
aid in the chase. Before he hadhoweverproceeded a
hundred yardshe met the three foresters already returning
from their unsuccessful pursuit.

Why so soon disheartened!he exclaimed; "the scoundrel
must be concealed behind some of these treesand may yet be
secured. We are not safe while he goes at large."

Would you set a cloud to chase the wind?returned the
disappointed scout; "I heard the imp brushing over the dry
leaveslike a black snakeand blinking a glimpse of him
just over ag'in yon big pineI pulled as it might be on the
scent; but 'twouldn't do! and yet for a reasoning aimif
anybody but myself had touched the triggerI should call it
a quick sight; and I may be accounted to have experience in
these mattersand one who ought to know. Look at this
sumach; its leaves are redthough everybody knows the fruit
is in the yellow blossom in the month of July!"

'Tis the blood of Le Subtil! he is hurt, and may yet fall!

No, no,returned the scoutin decided disapprobation of
this opinionI rubbed the bark off a limb, perhaps, but
the creature leaped the longer for it. A rifle bullet acts
on a running animal, when it barks him, much the same as one
of your spurs on a horse; that is, it quickens motion, and
puts life into the flesh, instead of taking it away. But
when it cuts the ragged hole, after a bound or two, there
is, commonly, a stagnation of further leaping, be it Indian
or be it deer!

We are four able bodies, to one wounded man!

Is life grievous to you?interrupted the scout. "Yonder
red devil would draw you within swing of the tomahawks of
his comradesbefore you were heated in the chase. It was
an unthoughtful act in a man who has so often slept with the
war-whoop ringing in the airto let off his piece within
sound of an ambushment! But then it was a natural
temptation! 'twas very natural! Comefriendslet us move
our stationand in such fashiontooas will throw the
cunning of a Mingo on a wrong scentor our scalps will be
drying in the wind in front of Montcalm's marqueeag'in
this hour to-morrow."


This appalling declarationwhich the scout uttered with the
cool assurance of a man who fully comprehendedwhile he did
not fear to face the dangerserved to remind Heyward of the
importance of the charge with which he himself had been
intrusted. Glancing his eyes aroundwith a vain effort to
pierce the gloom that was thickening beneath the leafy
arches of the foresthe felt as ifcut off from human aid
his unresisting companions would soon lie at the entire
mercy of those barbarous enemieswholike beasts of prey
only waited till the gathering darkness might render their
blows more fatally certain. His awakened imagination
deluded by the deceptive lightconverted each waving bush
or the fragment of some fallen treeinto human formsand
twenty times he fancied he could distinguish the horrid
visages of his lurking foespeering from their hiding
placesin never ceasing watchfulness of the movements of
his party. Looking upwardhe found that the thin fleecy
cloudswhich evening had painted on the blue skywere
already losing their faintest tints of rose-colorwhile the
imbedded streamwhich glided past the spot where he stood
was to be traced only by the dark boundary of its wooded
banks.

What is to be done!he saidfeeling the utter
helplessness of doubt in such a pressing strait; "desert me
notfor God's sake! remain to defend those I escortand
freely name your own reward!"

His companionswho conversed apart in the language of their
tribeheeded not this sudden and earnest appeal. Though
their dialogue was maintained in low and cautious sounds
but little above a whisperHeywardwho now approached
could easily distinguish the earnest tones of the younger
warrior from the more deliberate speeches of his seniors.
It was evident that they debated on the propriety of some
measurethat nearly concerned the welfare of the travelers.
Yielding to his powerful interest in the subjectand
impatient of a delay that seemed fraught with so much
additional dangerHeyward drew still nigher to the dusky
groupwith an intention of making his offers of
compensation more definitewhen the white manmotioning
with his handas if he conceded the disputed pointturned
awaysaying in a sort of soliloquyand in the English
tongue:

Uncas is right! it would not be the act of men to leave
such harmless things to their fate, even though it breaks up
the harboring place forever. If you would save these tender
blossoms from the fangs of the worst of serpents, gentleman,
you have neither time to lose nor resolution to throw away!

How can such a wish be doubted! Have I not already offered
--

Offer your prayers to Him who can give us wisdom to
circumvent the cunning of the devils who fill these woods,
calmly interrupted the scoutbut spare your offers of
money, which neither you may live to realize, nor I to
profit by. These Mohicans and I will do what man's thoughts
can invent, to keep such flowers, which, though so sweet,
were never made for the wilderness, from harm, and that
without hope of any other recompense but such as God always
gives to upright dealings. First, you must promise two


things, both in your own name and for your friends, or
without serving you we shall only injure ourselves!

Name them.

The one is, to be still as these sleeping woods, let what
will happen and the other is, to keep the place where we
shall take you, forever a secret from all mortal men.

I will do my utmost to see both these conditions
fulfilled.

Then follow, for we are losing moments that are as precious
as the heart's blood to a stricken deer!

Heyward could distinguish the impatient gesture of the
scoutthrough the increasing shadows of the eveningand he
moved in his footstepsswiftlytoward the place where he
had left the remainder of the party. When they rejoined the
expecting and anxious femaleshe briefly acquainted them
with the conditions of their new guideand with the
necessity that existed for their hushing every apprehension
in instant and serious exertions. Although his alarming
communication was not received without much secret terror by
the listenershis earnest and impressive manneraided
perhaps by the nature of the dangersucceeded in bracing
their nerves to undergo some unlooked-for and unusual trial.
Silentlyand without a moment's delaythey permitted him
to assist them from their saddlesand when they descended
quickly to the water's edgewhere the scout had collected
the rest of the partymore by the agency of expressive
gestures than by any use of words.

What to do with these dumb creatures!muttered the white
manon whom the sole control of their future movements
appeared to devolve; "it would be time lost to cut their
throatsand cast them into the river; and to leave them
here would be to tell the Mingoes that they have not far to
seek to find their owners!"

Then give them their bridles, and let them range the
woods,Heyward ventured to suggest.

No; it would be better to mislead the imps, and make them
believe they must equal a horse's speed to run down their
chase. Ay, ay, that will blind their fireballs of eyes!
Chingach--Hist! what stirs the bush?

The colt.

That colt, at least, must die,muttered the scout
grasping at the mane of the nimble beastwhich easily
eluded his hand; "Uncasyour arrows!"

Hold!exclaimed the proprietor of the condemned animal
aloudwithout regard to the whispering tones used by the
others; "spare the foal of Miriam! it is the comely
offspring of a faithful damand would willingly injure
naught."

When men struggle for the single life God has given them,
said the scoutsternlyeven their own kind seem no more
than the beasts of the wood. If you speak again, I shall
leave you to the mercy of the Maquas! Draw to your arrow's


head, Uncas; we have no time for second blows.

The lowmuttering sounds of his threatening voice were
still audiblewhen the wounded foalfirst rearing on its
hinder legsplunged forward to its knees. It was met by
Chingachgookwhose knife passed across its throat quicker
than thoughtand then precipitating the motions of the
struggling victimhe dashed into the riverdown whose
stream it glided awaygasping audibly for breath with its
ebbing life. This deed of apparent crueltybut of real
necessityfell upon the spirits of the travelers like a
terrific warning of the peril in which they stood
heightened as it was by the calm though steady resolution of
the actors in the scene. The sisters shuddered and clung
closer to each otherwhile Heyward instinctively laid his
hand on one of the pistols he had just drawn from their
holstersas he placed himself between his charge and those
dense shadows that seemed to draw an impenetrable veil
before the bosom of the forest.

The Indianshoweverhesitated not a momentbut taking the
bridlesthey led the frightened and reluctant horses into
the bed of the river.

At a short distance from the shore they turnedand were
soon concealed by the projection of the bankunder the brow
of which they movedin a direction opposite to the course
of the waters. In the meantimethe scout drew a canoe of
bark from its place of concealment beneath some low bushes
whose branches were waving with the eddies of the current
into which he silently motioned for the females to enter.
They complied without hesitationthough many a fearful and
anxious glance was thrown behind themtoward the thickening
gloomwhich now lay like a dark barrier along the margin of
the stream.

So soon as Cora and Alice were seatedthe scoutwithout
regarding the elementdirected Heyward to support one side
of the frail vesseland posting himself at the otherthey
bore it up against the streamfollowed by the dejected
owner of the dead foal. In this manner they proceededfor
many rodsin a silence that was only interrupted by the
rippling of the wateras its eddies played around themor
the low dash made by their own cautious footsteps. Heyward
yielded the guidance of the canoe implicitly to the scout
who approached or receded from the shoreto avoid the
fragments of rocksor deeper parts of the riverwith a
readiness that showed his knowledge of the route they held.
Occasionally he would stop; and in the midst of a breathing
stillnessthat the dull but increasing roar of the
waterfall only served to render more impressivehe would
listen with painful intensenessto catch any sounds that
might arise from the slumbering forest. When assured that
all was stilland unable to detecteven by the aid of his
practiced sensesany sign of his approaching foeshe would
deliberately resume his slow and guarded progress. At
length they reached a point in the river where the roving
eye of Heyward became riveted on a cluster of black objects
collected at a spot where the high bank threw a deeper
shadow than usual on the dark waters. Hesitating to
advancehe pointed out the place to the attention of his
companion.

Ay,returned the composed scoutthe Indians have hid the


beasts with the judgment of natives! Water leaves no trail,
and an owl's eyes would be blinded by the darkness of such a
hole.

The whole party was soon reunitedand another consultation
was held between the scout and his new comradesduring
whichtheywhose fates depended on the faith and ingenuity
of these unknown forestershad a little leisure to observe
their situation more minutely.

The river was confined between high and cragged rocksone
of which impended above the spot where the canoe rested. As
theseagainwere surmounted by tall treeswhich appeared
to totter on the brows of the precipiceit gave the stream
the appearance of running through a deep and narrow dell.
All beneath the fantastic limbs and ragged tree topswhich
werehere and theredimly painted against the starry
zenithlay alike in shadowed obscurity. Behind themthe
curvature of the banks soon bounded the view by the same
dark and wooded outline; but in frontand apparently at no
great distancethe water seemed piled against the heavens
whence it tumbled into cavernsout of which issued those
sullen sounds that had loaded the evening atmosphere. It
seemedin truthto be a spot devoted to seclusionand the
sisters imbibed a soothing impression of securityas they
gazed upon its romantic though not unappalling beauties. A
general movement among their conductorshoweversoon
recalled them from a contemplation of the wild charms that
night had assisted to lend the place to a painful sense of
their real peril.

The horses had been secured to some scattering shrubs that
grew in the fissures of the rockswherestanding in the
waterthey were left to pass the night. The scout directed
Heyward and his disconsolate fellow travelers to seat
themselves in the forward end of the canoeand took
possession of the other himselfas erect and steady as if
he floated in a vessel of much firmer materials. The
Indians warily retraced their steps toward the place they
had leftwhen the scoutplacing his pole against a rock
by a powerful shovesent his frail bark directly into the
turbulent stream. For many minutes the struggle between the
light bubble in which they floated and the swift current was
severe and doubtful. Forbidden to stir even a handand
almost afraid to breathlest they should expose the frail
fabric to the fury of the streamthe passengers watched the
glancing waters in feverish suspense. Twenty times they
thought the whirling eddies were sweeping them to
destructionwhen the masterhand of their pilot would bring
the bows of the canoe to stem the rapid. A longa
vigorousandas it appeared to the femalesa desperate
effortclosed the struggle. Just as Alice veiled her eyes
in horrorunder the impression that they were about to be
swept within the vortex at the foot of the cataractthe
canoe floatedstationaryat the side of a flat rockthat
lay on a level with the water.

Where are we, and what is next to be done!demanded
Heywardperceiving that the exertions of the scout had
ceased.

You are at the foot of Glenn's,returned the other
speaking aloudwithout fear of consequences within the roar
of the cataract; "and the next thing is to make a steady


landinglest the canoe upsetand you should go down again
the hard road we have traveled faster than you came up; 'tis
a hard rift to stemwhen the river is a little swelled; and
five is an unnatural number to keep dryin a hurry-skurry
with a little birchen bark and gum. Therego you all on
the rockand I will bring up the Mohicans with the venison.
A man had better sleep without his scalpthan famish in the
midst of plenty."

His passengers gladly complied with these directions. As
the last foot touched the rockthe canoe whirled from its
stationwhen the tall form of the scout was seenfor an
instantgliding above the watersbefore it disappeared in
the impenetrable darkness that rested on the bed of the
river. Left by their guidethe travelers remained a few
minutes in helpless ignoranceafraid even to move along the
broken rockslest a false step should precipitate them down
some one of the many deep and roaring cavernsinto which
the water seemed to tumbleon every side of them. Their
suspensehoweverwas soon relieved; foraided by the
skill of the nativesthe canoe shot back into the eddyand
floated again at the side of the low rockbefore they
thought the scout had even time to rejoin his companions.

We are now fortified, garrisoned, and provisioned,cried
Heyward cheerfullyand may set Montcalm and his allies at
defiance. How, now, my vigilant sentinel, can see anything
of those you call the Iroquois, on the main land!

I call them Iroquois, because to me every native, who
speaks a foreign tongue, is accounted an enemy, though he
may pretend to serve the king! If Webb wants faith and
honesty in an Indian, let him bring out the tribes of the
Delawares, and send these greedy and lying Mohawks and
Oneidas, with their six nations of varlets, where in nature
they belong, among the French!

We should then exchange a warlike for a useless friend! I
have heard that the Delawares have laid aside the hatchet,
and are content to be called women!

Aye, shame on the Hollanders and Iroquois, who circumvented
them by their deviltries, into such a treaty! But I have
known them for twenty years, and I call him liar that says
cowardly blood runs in the veins of a Delaware. You have
driven their tribes from the seashore, and would now believe
what their enemies say, that you may sleep at night upon an
easy pillow. No, no; to me, every Indian who speaks a
foreign tongue is an Iroquois, whether the castle* of his
tribe be in Canada, or be in York.

* The principal villages of the Indians are still
called "castles" by the whites of New York. "Oneida castle"
is no more than a scattered hamlet; but the name is in
general use.
Heywardperceiving that the stubborn adherence of the scout
to the cause of his friends the Delawaresor Mohicansfor
they were branches of the same numerous peoplewas likely
to prolong a useless discussionchanged the subject.

Treaty or no treaty, I know full well that your two
companions are brave and cautious warriors! have they heard
or seen anything of our enemies!


An Indian is a mortal to be felt afore he is seen,
returned the scoutascending the rockand throwing the
deer carelessly down. "I trust to other signs than such as
come in at the eyewhen I am outlying on the trail of the
Mingoes."

Do your ears tell you that they have traced our retreat?

I should be sorry to think they had, though this is a spot
that stout courage might hold for a smart scrimmage. I will
not deny, however, but the horses cowered when I passed
them, as though they scented the wolves; and a wolf is a
beast that is apt to hover about an Indian ambushment,
craving the offals of the deer the savages kill.

You forget the buck at your feet! or, may we not owe their
visit to the dead colt? Ha! what noise is that?

Poor Miriam!murmured the stranger; "thy foal was
foreordained to become a prey to ravenous beasts!" Then
suddenly lifting up his voiceamid the eternal din of the
watershe sang aloud: "First born of Egyptsmite did he
Of mankindand of beast also: OEgypt! wonders sent 'midst
theeOn Pharaoh and his servants too!"

The death of the colt sits heavy on the heart of its
owner,said the scout; "but it's a good sign to see a man
account upon his dumb friends. He has the religion of the
matterin believing what is to happen will happen; and with
such a consolationit won't be long afore he submits to the
rationality of killing a four-footed beast to save the lives
of human men. It may be as you say he continued,
reverting to the purport of Heyward's last remark; and the
greater the reason why we should cut our steaksand let the
carcass drive down the streamor we shall have the pack
howling along the cliffsbegrudging every mouthful we
swallow. Besidesthough the Delaware tongue is the same as
a book to the Iroquoisthe cunning varlets are quick enough
at understanding the reason of a wolf's howl."

The scoutwhile making his remarkswas busied in
collecting certain necessary implements; as he concludedhe
moved silently by the group of travelersaccompanied by the
Mohicanswho seemed to comprehend his intentions with
instinctive readinesswhen the whole three disappeared in
successionseeming to vanish against the dark face of a
perpendicular rock that rose to the height of a few yards
within as many feet of the water's edge.

CHAPTER 6

Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide; He wales a
portion with judicious care; And 'Let us worship God', he
says, with solemn air.--Burns

Heyward and his female companions witnessed this mysterious
movement with secret uneasiness; forthough the conduct of
the white man had hitherto been above reproachhis rude
equipmentsblunt addressand strong antipathiestogether
with the character of his silent associateswere all causes
for exciting distrust in minds that had been so recently


alarmed by Indian treachery.

The stranger alone disregarded the passing incidents. He
seated himself on a projection of the rockswhence he gave
no other signs of consciousness than by the struggles of his
spiritas manifested in frequent and heavy sighs.
Smothered voices were next heardas though men called to
each other in the bowels of the earthwhen a sudden light
flashed upon those withoutand laid bare the much-prized
secret of the place.

At the further extremity of a narrowdeep cavern in the
rockwhose length appeared much extended by the perspective
and the nature of the light by which it was seenwas seated
the scoutholding a blazing knot of pine. The strong glare
of the fire fell full upon his sturdyweather-beaten
countenance and forest attirelending an air of romantic
wildness to the aspect of an individualwhoseen by the
sober light of daywould have exhibited the peculiarities
of a man remarkable for the strangeness of his dressthe
iron-like inflexibility of his frameand the singular
compound of quickvigilant sagacityand of exquisite
simplicitythat by turns usurped the possession of his
muscular features. At a little distance in advance stood
Uncashis whole person thrown powerfully into view. The
travelers anxiously regarded the uprightflexible figure of
the young Mohicangraceful and unrestrained in the
attitudes and movements of nature. Though his person was
more than usually screened by a green and fringed huntingshirt
like that of the white manthere was no concealment
to his darkglancingfearless eyealike terrible and
calm; the bold outline of his highhaughty featurespure
in their native red; or to the dignified elevation of his
receding foreheadtogether with all the finest proportions
of a noble headbared to the generous scalping tuft. It
was the first opportunity possessed by Duncan and his
companions to view the marked lineaments of either of their
Indian attendantsand each individual of the party felt
relieved from a burden of doubtas the proud and
determinedthough wild expression of the features of the
young warrior forced itself on their notice. They felt it
might be a being partially benighted in the vale of
ignorancebut it could not be one who would willingly
devote his rich natural gifts to the purposes of wanton
treachery. The ingenuous Alice gazed at his free air and
proud carriageas she would have looked upon some precious
relic of the Grecian chiselto which life had been imparted
by the intervention of a miracle; while Heywardthough
accustomed to see the perfection of form which abounds among
the uncorrupted nativesopenly expressed his admiration at
such an unblemished specimen of the noblest proportions of
man.

I could sleep in peace,whispered Alicein replywith
such a fearless and generous-looking youth for my sentinel.
Surely, Duncan, those cruel murders, those terrific scenes
of torture, of which we read and hear so much, are never
acted in the presence of such as he!

This certainly is a rare and brilliant instance of those
natural qualities in which these peculiar people are said to
excel,he answered. "I agree with youAlicein thinking
that such a front and eye were formed rather to intimidate
than to deceive; but let us not practice a deception upon


ourselvesby expecting any other exhibition of what we
esteem virtue than according to the fashion of the savage.
As bright examples of great qualities are but too uncommon
among Christiansso are they singular and solitary with the
Indians; thoughfor the honor of our common natureneither
are incapable of producing them. Let us then hope that this
Mohican may not disappoint our wishesbut prove what his
looks assert him to bea brave and constant friend."

Now Major Heyward speaks as Major Heyward should,said
Cora; "who that looks at this creature of natureremembers
the shade of his skin?"

A short and apparently an embarrassed silence succeeded this
remarkwhich was interrupted by the scout calling to them
aloudto enter.

This fire begins to show too bright a flame,he continued
as they compliedand might light the Mingoes to our
undoing. Uncas, drop the blanket, and show the knaves its
dark side. This is not such a supper as a major of the
Royal Americans has a right to expect, but I've known stout
detachments of the corps glad to eat their venison raw, and
without a relish, too*. Here, you see, we have plenty of
salt, and can make a quick broil. There's fresh sassafras
boughs for the ladies to sit on, which may not be as proud
as their my-hog-guinea chairs, but which sends up a sweeter
flavor, than the skin of any hog can do, be it of Guinea, or
be it of any other land. Come, friend, don't be mournful
for the colt; 'twas an innocent thing, and had not seen much
hardship. Its death will save the creature many a sore back
and weary foot!

* In vulgar parlance the condiments of a repast are
called by the American "a relish substituting the thing
for its effect. These provincial terms are frequently put
in the mouths of the speakers, according to their several
conditions in life. Most of them are of local use, and
others quite peculiar to the particular class of men to
which the character belongs. In the present instance, the
scout uses the word with immediate reference to the salt
with which his own party was so fortunate as to be provided.
Uncas did as the other had directed, and when the voice of
Hawkeye ceased, the roar of the cataract sounded like the
rumbling of distant thunder.

Are we quite safe in this cavern?" demanded Heyward. "Is
there no danger of surprise? A single armed manat its
entrancewould hold us at his mercy."

A spectral-looking figure stalked from out of the darkness
behind the scoutand seizing a blazing brandheld it
toward the further extremity of their place of retreat.
Alice uttered a faint shriekand even Cora rose to her
feetas this appalling object moved into the light; but a
single word from Heyward calmed themwith the assurance it
was only their attendantChingachgookwholifting another
blanketdiscovered that the cavern had two outlets. Then
holding the brandhe crossed a deepnarrow chasm in the
rocks which ran at right angles with the passage they were
inbut whichunlike thatwas open to the heavensand
entered another caveanswering to the description of the
firstin every essential particular.


Such old foxes as Chingachgook and myself are not often
caught in a barrow with one hole,said Hawkeyelaughing;
you can easily see the cunning of the place--the rock is
black limestone, which everybody knows is soft; it makes no
uncomfortable pillow, where brush and pine wood is scarce;
well, the fall was once a few yards below us, and I dare to
say was, in its time, as regular and as handsome a sheet of
water as any along the Hudson. But old age is a great
injury to good looks, as these sweet young ladies have yet
to l'arn! The place is sadly changed! These rocks are full
of cracks, and in some places they are softer than at
othersome, and the water has worked out deep hollows for
itself, until it has fallen back, ay, some hundred feet,
breaking here and wearing there, until the falls have
neither shape nor consistency.

In what part of them are we?asked Heyward.

Why, we are nigh the spot that Providence first placed them
at, but where, it seems, they were too rebellious to stay.
The rock proved softer on each side of us, and so they left
the center of the river bare and dry, first working out
these two little holes for us to hide in.

We are then on an island!

Ay! there are the falls on two sides of us, and the river
above and below. If you had daylight, it would be worth the
trouble to step up on the height of this rock, and look at
the perversity of the water. It falls by no rule at all;
sometimes it leaps, sometimes it tumbles; there it skips;
here it shoots; in one place 'tis white as snow, and in
another 'tis green as grass; hereabouts, it pitches into
deep hollows, that rumble and crush the 'arth; and
thereaways, it ripples and sings like a brook, fashioning
whirlpools and gullies in the old stone, as if 'twas no
harder than trodden clay. The whole design of the river
seems disconcerted. First it runs smoothly, as if meaning
to go down the descent as things were ordered; then it
angles about and faces the shores; nor are there places
wanting where it looks backward, as if unwilling to leave
the wilderness, to mingle with the salt. Ay, lady, the fine
cobweb-looking cloth you wear at your throat is coarse, and
like a fishnet, to little spots I can show you, where the
river fabricates all sorts of images, as if having broke
loose from order, it would try its hand at everything. And
yet what does it amount to! After the water has been
suffered so to have its will, for a time, like a headstrong
man, it is gathered together by the hand that made it, and a
few rods below you may see it all, flowing on steadily
toward the sea, as was foreordained from the first
foundation of the 'arth!

While his auditors received a cheering assurance of the
security of their place of concealment from this untutored
description of Glenn's* they were much inclined to judge
differently from Hawkeyeof its wild beauties. But they
were not in a situation to suffer their thoughts to dwell on
the charms of natural objects; andas the scout had not
found it necessary to cease his culinary labors while he
spokeunless to point outwith a broken forkthe
direction of some particularly obnoxious point in the
rebellious streamthey now suffered their attention to be


drawn to the necessary though more vulgar consideration of
their supper.

* Glenn's Falls are on the Hudsonsome forty or fifty
miles above the head of tideor that place where the river
becomes navigable for sloops. The description of this
picturesque and remarkable little cataractas given by the
scoutis sufficiently correctthough the application of
the water to uses of civilized life has materially injured
its beauties. The rocky island and the two caverns are
known to every travelersince the former sustains the pier
of a bridgewhich is now thrown across the river
immediately above the fall. In explanation of the taste of
Hawkeyeit should be remembered that men always prize that
most which is least enjoyed. Thusin a new countrythe
woods and other objectswhich in an old country would be
maintained at great costare got rid ofsimply with a view
of "improving" as it is called.
The repastwhich was greatly aided by the addition of a few
delicacies that Heyward had the precaution to bring with him
when they left their horseswas exceedingly refreshing to
the weary party. Uncas acted as attendant to the females
performing all the little offices within his powerwith a
mixture of dignity and anxious gracethat served to amuse
Heywardwho well knew that it was an utter innovation on
the Indian customswhich forbid their warriors to descend
to any menial employmentespecially in favor of their
women. As the rights of hospitality werehowever
considered sacred among themthis little departure from the
dignity of manhood excited no audible comment. Had there
been one there sufficiently disengaged to become a close
observerhe might have fancied that the services of the
young chief were not entirely impartial. That while he
tendered to Alice the gourd of sweet waterand the venison
in a trencherneatly carved from the knot of the
pepperidgewith sufficient courtesyin performing the same
offices to her sisterhis dark eye lingered on her rich
speaking countenance. Once or twice he was compelled to
speakto command her attention of those he served. In such
cases he made use of Englishbroken and imperfectbut
sufficiently intelligibleand which he rendered so mild and
musicalby his deepguttural voicethat it never failed
to cause both ladies to look up in admiration and
astonishment. In the course of these civilitiesa few
sentences were exchangedthat served to establish the
appearance of an amicable intercourse between the parties.

In the meanwhilethe gravity of Chingcachgook remained
immovable. He had seated himself more within the circle of
lightwhere the frequentuneasy glances of his guests were
better enabled to separate the natural expression of his
face from the artificial terrors of the war paint. They
found a strong resemblance between father and sonwith the
difference that might be expected from age and hardships.
The fierceness of his countenance now seemed to slumberand
in its place was to be seen the quietvacant composure
which distinguishes an Indian warriorwhen his faculties
are not required for any of the greater purposes of his
existence. It washowevereasy to be seenby the
occasional gleams that shot across his swarthy visagethat
it was only necessary to arouse his passionsin order to
give full effect to the terrific device which he had adopted
to intimidate his enemies. On the other handthe quick


roving eye of the scout seldom rested. He ate and drank
with an appetite that no sense of danger could disturbbut
his vigilance seemed never to desert him. Twenty times the
gourd or the venison was suspended before his lipswhile
his head was turned asideas though he listened to some
distant and distrusted sounds--a movement that never
failed to recall his guests from regarding the novelties of
their situationto a recollection of the alarming reasons
that had driven them to seek it. As these frequent pauses
were never followed by any remarkthe momentary uneasiness
they created quickly passed awayand for a time was
forgotten.

Come, friend,said Hawkeyedrawing out a keg from beneath
a cover of leavestoward the close of the repastand
addressing the stranger who sat at his elbowdoing great
justice to his culinary skilltry a little spruce; 'twill
wash away all thoughts of the colt, and quicken the life in
your bosom. I drink to our better friendship, hoping that a
little horse-flesh may leave no heart-burnings atween us.
How do you name yourself?

Gamut--David Gamut,returned the singing master
preparing to wash down his sorrows in a powerful draught of
the woodsman's high-flavored and well-laced compound.

A very good name, and, I dare say, handed down from honest
forefathers. I'm an admirator of names, though the
Christian fashions fall far below savage customs in this
particular. The biggest coward I ever knew as called Lyon;
and his wife, Patience, would scold you out of hearing in
less time than a hunted deer would run a rod. With an
Indian 'tis a matter of conscience; what he calls himself,
he generally is--not that Chingachgook, which signifies
Big Sarpent, is really a snake, big or little; but that he
understands the windings and turnings of human natur', and
is silent, and strikes his enemies when they least expect
him. What may be your calling?

I am an unworthy instructor in the art of psalmody.

Anan!

I teach singing to the youths of the Connecticut levy.

You might be better employed. The young hounds go laughing
and singing too much already through the woods, when they
ought not to breathe louder than a fox in his cover. Can
you use the smoothbore, or handle the rifle?

Praised be God, I have never had occasion to meddle with
murderous implements!

Perhaps you understand the compass, and lay down the
watercourses and mountains of the wilderness on paper, in
order that they who follow may find places by their given
names?

I practice no such employment.

You have a pair of legs that might make a long path seem
short! you journey sometimes, I fancy, with tidings for the
general.


Never; I follow no other than my own high vocation, which
is instruction in sacred music!

'Tis a strange calling!muttered Hawkeyewith an inward
laughto go through life, like a catbird, mocking all the
ups and downs that may happen to come out of other men's
throats. Well, friend, I suppose it is your gift, and
mustn't be denied any more than if 'twas shooting, or some
other better inclination. Let us hear what you can do in
that way; 'twill be a friendly manner of saying good-night,
for 'tis time that these ladies should be getting strength
for a hard and a long push, in the pride of the morning,
afore the Maquas are stirring.

With joyful pleasure do I consent', said David, adjusting
his iron-rimmed spectacles, and producing his beloved little
volume, which he immediately tendered to Alice. What can
be more fitting and consolatorythan to offer up evening
praiseafter a day of such exceeding jeopardy!"

Alice smiled; butregarding Heywardshe blushed and
hesitated.

Indulge yourself,he whispered; "ought not the suggestion
of the worthy namesake of the Psalmist to have its weight at
such a moment?"

Encouraged by his opinionAlice did what her pious
inclinationsand her keen relish for gentle soundshad
before so strongly urged. The book was open at a hymn not
ill adapted to their situationand in which the poetno
longer goaded by his desire to excel the inspired King of
Israelhad discovered some chastened and respectable
powers. Cora betrayed a disposition to support her sister
and the sacred song proceededafter the indispensable
preliminaries of the pitchpipeand the tune had been duly
attended to by the methodical David.

The air was solemn and slow. At times it rose to the
fullest compass of the rich voices of the femaleswho hung
over their little book in holy excitementand again it sank
so lowthat the rushing of the waters ran through their
melodylike a hollow accompaniment. The natural taste and
true ear of David governed and modified the sounds to suit
the confined cavernevery crevice and cranny of which was
filled with the thrilling notes of their flexible voices.
The Indians riveted their eyes on the rocksand listened
with an attention that seemed to turn them into stone. But
the scoutwho had placed his chin in his handwith an
expression of cold indifferencegradually suffered his
rigid features to relaxuntilas verse succeeded versehe
felt his iron nature subduedwhile his recollection was
carried back to boyhoodwhen his ears had been accustomed
to listen to similar sounds of praisein the settlements of
the colony. His roving eyes began to moistenand before
the hymn was ended scalding tears rolled out of fountains
that had long seemed dryand followed each other down those
cheeksthat had oftener felt the storms of heaven than any
testimonials of weakness. The singers were dwelling on one
of those lowdying chordswhich the ear devours with such
greedy raptureas if conscious that it is about to lose
themwhen a crythat seemed neither human nor earthly
rose in the outward airpenetrating not only the recesses
of the cavernbut to the inmost hearts of all who heard it.


It was followed by a stillness apparently as deep as if the
waters had been checked in their furious progressat such a
horrid and unusual interruption.

What is it?murmured Aliceafter a few moments of
terrible suspense.

What is it?repeated Hewyard aloud.

Neither Hawkeye nor the Indians made any reply. They
listenedas if expecting the sound would be repeatedwith
a manner that expressed their own astonishment. At length
they spoke togetherearnestlyin the Delaware language
when Uncaspassing by the inner and most concealed
aperturecautiously left the cavern. When he had gonethe
scout first spoke in English.

What it is, or what it is not, none here can tell, though
two of us have ranged the woods for more than thirty years.
I did believe there was no cry that Indian or beast could
make, that my ears had not heard; but this has proved that I
was only a vain and conceited mortal.

Was it not, then, the shout the warriors make when they
wish to intimidate their enemies?asked Cora who stood
drawing her veil about her personwith a calmness to which
her agitated sister was a stranger.

No, no; this was bad, and shocking, and had a sort of
unhuman sound; but when you once hear the war-whoop, you
will never mistake it for anything else. Well, Uncas!
speaking in Delaware to the young chief as he re-entered
what see you? do our lights shine through the blankets?

The answer was shortand apparently decidedbeing given in
the same tongue.

There is nothing to be seen without,continued Hawkeye
shaking his head in discontent; "and our hiding-place is
still in darkness. Pass into the other caveyou that need
itand seek for sleep; we must be afoot long before the
sunand make the most of our time to get to Edwardwhile
the Mingoes are taking their morning nap."

Cora set the example of compliancewith a steadiness that
taught the more timid Alice the necessity of obedience.
Before leaving the placehowevershe whispered a request
to Duncanthat he would follow. Uncas raised the blanket
for their passageand as the sisters turned to thank him
for this act of attentionthey saw the scout seated again
before the dying emberswith his face resting on his hands
in a manner which showed how deeply he brooded on the
unaccountable interruption which had broken up their evening
devotions.

Heyward took with him a blazing knotwhich threw a dim
light through the narrow vista of their new apartment.
Placing it in a favorable positionhe joined the females
who now found themselves alone with him for the first time
since they had left the friendly ramparts of Fort Edward.

Leave us not, Duncan,said Alice: "we cannot sleep in such
a place as thiswith that horrid cry still ringing in our
ears."


First let us examine into the security of your fortress,
he answeredand then we will speak of rest.

He approached the further end of the cavernto an outlet
whichlike the otherswas concealed by blankets; and
removing the thick screenbreathed the fresh and reviving
air from the cataract. One arm of the river flowed through
a deepnarrow ravinewhich its current had worn in the
soft rockdirectly beneath his feetforming an effectual
defenseas he believedagainst any danger from that
quarter; the watera few rods above themplunging
glancingand sweeping along in its most violent and broken
manner.

Nature has made an impenetrable barrier on this side,he
continuedpointing down the perpendicular declivity into
the dark current before he dropped the blanket; "and as you
know that good men and true are on guard in front I see no
reason why the advice of our honest host should be
disregarded. I am certain Cora will join me in saying that
sleep is necessary to you both."

Cora may submit to the justice of your opinion though she
cannot put it in practice,returned the elder sisterwho
had placed herself by the side of Aliceon a couch of
sassafras; "there would be other causes to chase away sleep
though we had been spared the shock of this mysterious
noise. Ask yourselfHeywardcan daughters forget the
anxiety a father must endurewhose children lodge he knows
not where or howin such a wildernessand in the midst of
so many perils?"

He is a soldier, and knows how to estimate the chances of
the woods.

He is a father, and cannot deny his nature.

How kind has he ever been to all my follies, how tender and
indulgent to all my wishes!sobbed Alice. "We have been
selfishsisterin urging our visit at such hazard."

I may have been rash in pressing his consent in a moment of
much embarrassment, but I would have proved to him, that
however others might neglect him in his strait his children
at least were faithful.

When he heard of your arrival at Edward,said Heyward
kindlythere was a powerful struggle in his bosom between
fear and love; though the latter, heightened, if possible,
by so long a separation, quickly prevailed. 'It is the
spirit of my noble- minded Cora that leads them, Duncan', he
said, 'and I will not balk it. Would to God, that he who
holds the honor of our royal master in his guardianship,
would show but half her firmness'!

And did he not speak of me, Heyward?demanded Alicewith
jealous affection; "surelyhe forgot not altogether his
little Elsie?"

That were impossible,returned the young man; "he called
you by a thousand endearing epithetsthat I may not presume
to usebut to the justice of whichI can warmly testify.
Onceindeedhe said--"


Duncan ceased speaking; for while his eyes were riveted on
those of Alicewho had turned toward him with the eagerness
of filial affectionto catch his wordsthe same strong
horrid cryas beforefilled the airand rendered him
mute. A longbreathless silence succeededduring which
each looked at the others in fearful expectation of hearing
the sound repeated. At lengththe blanket was slowly
raisedand the scout stood in the aperture with a
countenance whose firmness evidently began to give way
before a mystery that seemed to threaten some danger
against which all his cunning and experience might prove of
no avail.

CHAPTER 7

They do not sleep, On yonder cliffs, a grizzly band, I see
them sit.Gray

'Twould be neglecting a warning that is given for our good
to lie hid any longer,said Hawkeye "when such sounds are
raised in the forest. These gentle ones may keep closebut
the Mohicans and I will watch upon the rockwhere I suppose
a major of the Sixtieth would wish to keep us company."

Is, then, our danger so pressing?asked Cora.

He who makes strange sounds, and gives them out for man's
information, alone knows our danger. I should think myself
wicked, unto rebellion against His will, was I to burrow
with such warnings in the air! Even the weak soul who
passes his days in singing is stirred by the cry, and, as he
says, is 'ready to go forth to the battle' If 'twere only a
battle, it would be a thing understood by us all, and easily
managed; but I have heard that when such shrieks are atween
heaven and 'arth, it betokens another sort of warfare!

If all our reasons for fear, my friend, are confined to
such as proceed from supernatural causes, we have but little
occasion to be alarmed,continued the undisturbed Cora
are you certain that our enemies have not invented some new
and ingenious method to strike us with terror, that their
conquest may become more easy?

Lady,returned the scoutsolemnlyI have listened to
all the sounds of the woods for thirty years, as a man will
listen whose life and death depend on the quickness of his
ears. There is no whine of the panther, no whistle of the
catbird, nor any invention of the devilish Mingoes, that can
cheat me! I have heard the forest moan like mortal men in
their affliction; often, and again, have I listened to the
wind playing its music in the branches of the girdled trees;
and I have heard the lightning cracking in the air like the
snapping of blazing brush as it spitted forth sparks and
forked flames; but never have I thought that I heard more
than the pleasure of him who sported with the things of his
hand. But neither the Mohicans, nor I, who am a white man
without a cross, can explain the cry just heard. We,
therefore, believe it a sign given for our good.

It is extraordinary!said Heywardtaking his pistols from
the place where he had laid them on entering; "be it a sign


of peace or a signal of warit must be looked to. Lead the
waymy friend; I follow."

On issuing from their place of confinementthe whole party
instantly experienced a grateful renovation of spiritsby
exchanging the pent air of the hiding-place for the cool and
invigorating atmosphere which played around the whirlpools
and pitches of the cataract. A heavy evening breeze swept
along the surface of the riverand seemed to drive the roar
of the falls into the recesses of their own cavernwhence
it issued heavily and constantlike thunder rumbling beyond
the distant hills. The moon had risenand its light was
already glancing here and there on the waters above them;
but the extremity of the rock where they stood still lay in
shadow. With the exception of the sounds produced by the
rushing watersand an occasional breathing of the airas
it murmured past them in fitful currentsthe scene was as
still as night and solitude could make it. In vain were the
eyes of each individual bent along the opposite shoresin
quest of some signs of lifethat might explain the nature
of the interruption they had heard. Their anxious and eager
looks were baffled by the deceptive lightor rested only on
naked rocksand straight and immovable trees.

Here is nothing to be seen but the gloom and quiet of a
lovely evening,whispered Duncan; "how much should we prize
such a sceneand all this breathing solitudeat any other
momentCora! Fancy yourselves in securityand what now
perhapsincreases your terrormay be made conducive to
enjoyment--"

Listen!interrupted Alice.

The caution was unnecessary. Once more the same sound arose
as if from the bed of the riverand having broken out of
the narrow bounds of the cliffswas heard undulating
through the forestin distant and dying cadences.

Can any here give a name to such a cry?demanded Hawkeye
when the last echo was lost in the woods; "if solet him
speak; for myselfI judge it not to belong to 'arth!"

Here, then, is one who can undeceive you,said Duncan; "I
know the sound full wellfor often have I heard it on the
field of battleand in situations which are frequent in a
soldier's life. 'Tis the horrid shriek that a horse will
give in his agony; oftener drawn from him in painthough
sometimes in terror. My charger is either a prey to the
beasts of the forestor he sees his dangerwithout the
power to avoid it. The sound might deceive me in the
cavernbut in the open air I know it too well to be wrong."

The scout and his companions listened to this simple
explanation with the interest of men who imbibe new ideas
at the same time that they get rid of old oneswhich had
proved disagreeable inmates. The two latter uttered their
usual expressive exclamationhugh!as the truth first
glanced upon their mindswhile the formerafter a short
musing pausetook upon himself to reply.

I cannot deny your words,he saidfor I am little
skilled in horses, though born where they abound. The
wolves must be hovering above their heads on the bank, and
the timorsome creatures are calling on man for help, in the


best manner they are able. Uncas-- he spoke in Delaware
-- "Uncasdrop down in the canoeand whirl a brand among
the pack; or fear may do what the wolves can't get at to
performand leave us without horses in the morningwhen we
shall have so much need to journey swiftly!"

The young native had already descended to the water to
complywhen a long howl was raised on the edge of the
riverand was borne swiftly off into the depths of the
forestas though the beastsof their own accordwere
abandoning their prey in sudden terror. Uncaswith
instinctive quicknessrecededand the three foresters held
another of their lowearnest conferences.

We have been like hunters who have lost the points of the
heavens, and from whom the sun has been hid for days,said
Hawkeyeturning away from his companions; "now we begin
again to know the signs of our courseand the paths are
cleared from briers! Seat yourselves in the shade which the
moon throws from yonder beech -- 'tis thicker than that of
the pines -- and let us wait for that which the Lord may
choose to send next. Let all your conversation be in
whispers; though it would be betterandperhapsin the
endwiserif each one held discourse with his own
thoughtsfor a time."

The manner of the scout was seriously impressivethough no
longer distinguished by any signs of unmanly apprehension.
It was evident that his momentary weakness had vanished with
the explanation of a mystery which his own experience had
not served to fathom; and though he now felt all the
realities of their actual conditionthat he was prepared to
meet them with the energy of his hardy nature. This feeling
seemed also common to the nativeswho placed themselves in
positions which commanded a full view of both shoreswhile
their own persons were effectually concealed from
observation. In such circumstancescommon prudence
dictated that Heyward and his companions should imitate a
caution that proceeded from so intelligent a source. The
young man drew a pile of the sassafras from the caveand
placing it in the chasm which separated the two cavernsit
was occupied by the sisterswho were thus protected by the
rocks from any missileswhile their anxiety was relieved by
the assurance that no danger could approach without a
warning. Heyward himself was posted at handso near that
he might communicate with his companions without raising his
voice to a dangerous elevation; while Davidin imitation of
the woodsmenbestowed his person in such a manner among the
fissures of the rocksthat his ungainly limbs were no
longer offensive to the eye.

In this manner hours passed without further interruption.
The moon reached the zenithand shed its mild light
perpendicularly on the lovely sight of the sisters
slumbering peacefully in each other's arms. Duncan cast the
wide shawl of Cora before a spectacle he so much loved to
contemplateand then suffered his own head to seek a pillow
on the rock. David began to utter sounds that would have
shocked his delicate organs in more wakeful moments; in
shortall but Hawkeye and the Mohicans lost every idea of
consciousnessin uncontrollable drowsiness. But the
watchfulness of these vigilant protectors neither tired nor
slumbered. Immovable as that rockof which each appeared
to form a partthey laywith their eyes rovingwithout


intermissionalong the dark margin of treesthat bounded
the adjacent shores of the narrow stream. Not a sound
escaped them; the most subtle examination could not have
told they breathed. It was evident that this excess of
caution proceeded from an experience that no subtlety on the
part of their enemies could deceive. It washowever
continued without any apparent consequencesuntil the moon
had setand a pale streak above the treetopsat the bend
of the river a little belowannounced the approach of day.

Thenfor the first timeHawkeye was seen to stir. He
crawled along the rock and shook Duncan from his heavy
slumbers.

Now is the time to journey,he whispered; "awake the
gentle onesand be ready to get into the canoe when I bring
it to the landing-place."

Have you had a quiet night?said Heyward; "for myselfI
believe sleep has got the better of my vigilance."

All is yet still as midnight. Be silent, but be quick.

By this time Duncan was thoroughly awakeand he immediately
lifted the shawl from the sleeping females. The motion
caused Cora to raise her hand as if to repulse himwhile
Alice murmuredin her softgentle voiceNo, no, dear
father, we were not deserted; Duncan was with us!

Yes, sweet innocence,whispered the youth; "Duncan is
hereand while life continues or danger remainshe will
never quit thee. Cora! Alice! awake! The hour has come to
move!"

A loud shriek from the younger of the sistersand the form
of the other standing upright before himin bewildered
horrorwas the unexpected answer he received.

While the words were still on the lips of Heywardthere had
arisen such a tumult of yells and cries as served to drive
the swift currents of his own blood back from its bounding
course into the fountains of his heart. It seemedfor near
a minuteas if the demons of hell had possessed themselves
of the air about themand were venting their savage humors
in barbarous sounds. The cries came from no particular
directionthough it was evident they filled the woodsand
as the appalled listeners easily imaginedthe caverns of
the fallsthe rocksthe bed of the riverand the upper
air. David raised his tall person in the midst of the
infernal dinwith a hand on either earexclaiming:

Whence comes this discord! Has hell broke loose, that man
should utter sounds like these!

The bright flashes and the quick reports of a dozen rifles
from the opposite banks of the streamfollowed this
incautious exposure of his personand left the unfortunate
singing master senseless on that rock where he had been so
long slumbering. The Mohicans boldly sent back the
intimidating yell of their enemieswho raised a shout of
savage triumph at the fall of Gamut. The flash of rifles
was then quick and close between thembut either party was
too well skilled to leave even a limb exposed to the hostile
aim. Duncan listened with intense anxiety for the strokes


of the paddlebelieving that flight was now their only
refuge. The river glanced by with its ordinary velocity
but the canoe was nowhere to be seen on its dark waters. He
had just fancied they were cruelly deserted by their scout
as a stream of flame issued from the rock beneath themand
a fierce yellblended with a shriek of agonyannounced
that the messenger of death sent from the fatal weapon of
Hawkeyehad found a victim. At this slight repulse the
assailants instantly withdrewand gradually the place
became as still as before the sudden tumult.

Duncan seized the favorable moment to spring to the body of
Gamutwhich he bore within the shelter of the narrow chasm
that protected the sisters. In another minute the whole
party was collected in this spot of comparative safety.

The poor fellow has saved his scalp,said Hawkeyecoolly
passing his hand over the head of David; "but he is a proof
that a man may be born with too long a tongue! 'Twas
downright madness to show six feet of flesh and bloodon a
naked rockto the raging savages. I only wonder he has
escaped with life."

Is he not dead?demanded Corain a voice whose husky
tones showed how powerfully natural horror struggled with
her assumed firmness. "Can we do aught to assist the
wretched man?"

No, no! the life is in his heart yet, and after he has
slept awhile he will come to himself, and be a wiser man for
it, till the hour of his real time shall come,returned
Hawkeyecasting another oblique glance at the insensible
bodywhile he filled his charger with admirable nicety.
Carry him in, Uncas, and lay him on the sassafras. The
longer his nap lasts the better it will be for him, as I
doubt whether he can find a proper cover for such a shape on
these rocks; and singing won't do any good with the
Iroquois.

You believe, then, the attack will be renewed?asked
Heyward.

Do I expect a hungry wolf will satisfy his craving with a
mouthful! They have lost a man, and 'tis their fashion,
when they meet a loss, and fail in the surprise, to fall
back; but we shall have them on again, with new expedients
to circumvent us, and master our scalps. Our main hope,he
continuedraising his rugged countenanceacross which a
shade of anxiety just then passed like a darkening cloud
will be to keep the rock until Munro can send a party to
our help! God send it may be soon and under a leader that
knows the Indian customs!

You hear our probable fortunes, Cora,said Duncanand
you know we have everything to hope from the anxiety and
experience of your father. Come, then, with Alice, into
this cavern, where you, at least, will be safe from the
murderous rifles of our enemies, and where you may bestow a
care suited to your gentle natures on our unfortunate
comrade.

The sisters followed him into the outer cavewhere David
was beginningby his sighsto give symptoms of returning
consciousnessand then commending the wounded man to their


attentionhe immediately prepared to leave them.

Duncan!said the tremulous voice of Corawhen he had
reached the mouth of the cavern. He turned and beheld the
speakerwhose color had changed to a deadly palenessand
whose lips quiveredgazing after himwith an expression of
interest which immediately recalled him to her side.
Remember, Duncan, how necessary your safety is to our own
-- how you bear a father's sacred trust -- how much depends
on your discretion and care -- in short,she addedwhile
the telltale blood stole over her featurescrimsoning her
very templeshow very deservedly dear you are to all of
the name of Munro.

If anything could add to my own base love of life,said
Heywardsuffering his unconscious eyes to wander to the
youthful form of the silent Aliceit would be so kind an
assurance. As major of the Sixtieth, our honest host will
tell you I must take my share of the fray; but our task will
be easy; it is merely to keep these blood-hounds at bay for
a few hours.

Without waiting for a replyhe tore himself from the
presence of the sistersand joined the scout and his
companionswho still lay within the protection of the
little chasm between the two caves.

I tell you, Uncas,said the formeras Heyward joined
themyou are wasteful of your powder, and the kick of the
rifle disconcerts your aim! Little powder, light lead, and
a long arm, seldom fail of bringing the death screech from a
Mingo! At least, such has been my experience with the
creatur's. Come, friends: let us to our covers, for no man
can tell when or where a Maqua* will strike his blow.

* Mingo was the Delaware term of the Five Nations.
Maquas was the name given them by the Dutch. The French
from their first intercourse with themcalled them
Iroquois.
The Indians silently repaired to their appointed stations
which were fissures in the rockswhence they could command
the approaches to the foot of the falls. In the center of
the little islanda few short and stunted pines had found
rootforming a thicketinto which Hawkeye darted with the
swiftness of a deerfollowed by the active Duncan. Here
they secured themselvesas well as circumstances would
permitamong the shrubs and fragments of stone that were
scattered about the place. Above them was a barerounded
rockon each side of which the water played its gambols
and plunged into the abysses beneathin the manner already
described. As the day had now dawnedthe opposite shores
no longer presented a confused outlinebut they were able
to look into the woodsand distinguish objects beneath a
canopy of gloomy pines.

A long and anxious watch succeededbut without any further
evidences of a renewed attack; and Duncan began to hope that
their fire had proved more fatal than was supposedand that
their enemies had been effectually repulsed. When he
ventured to utter this impression to his companionsit was
met by Hawkeye with an incredulous shake of the head.

You know not the nature of a Maqua, if you think he is so


easily beaten back without a scalp!he answered. "If there
was one of the imps yelling this morningthere were forty!
and they know our number and quality too well to give up the
chase so soon. Hist! look into the water abovejust where
it breaks over the rocks. I am no mortalif the risky
devils haven't swam down upon the very pitchandas bad
luck would have itthey have hit the head of the island.
Hist! mankeep close! or the hair will be off your crown in
the turning of a knife!"

Heyward lifted his head from the coverand beheld what he
justly considered a prodigy of rashness and skill. The
river had worn away the edge of the soft rock in such a
manner as to render its first pitch less abrupt and
perpendicular than is usual at waterfalls. With no other
guide than the ripple of the stream where it met the head of
the islanda party of their insatiable foes had ventured
into the currentand swam down upon this pointknowing the
ready access it would giveif successfulto their intended
victims.

As Hawkeye ceased speakingfour human heads could be seen
peering above a few logs of drift-wood that had lodged on
these naked rocksand which had probably suggested the idea
of the practicability of the hazardous undertaking. At the
next momenta fifth form was seen floating over the green
edge of the falla little from the line of the island. The
savage struggled powerfully to gain the point of safety
andfavored by the glancing waterhe was already
stretching forth an arm to meet the grasp of his companions
when he shot away again with the shirling currentappeared
to rise into the airwith uplifted arms and starting
eyeballsand fellwith a sudden plungeinto that deep and
yawning abyss over which he hovered. A singlewild
despairing shriek rose from the cavernand all was hushed
again as the grave.

The first generous impulse of Duncan was to rush to the
rescue of the hapless wretch; but he felt himself bound to
the spot by the iron grasp of the immovable scout.

Would ye bring certain death upon us, by telling the
Mingoes where we lie?demanded Hawkeyesternly; "'Tis a
charge of powder savedand ammunition is as precious now as
breath to a worried deer! Freshen the priming of your
pistols--the midst of the falls is apt to dampen the
brimstone--and stand firm for a close strugglewhile I
fire on their rush."

He placed a finger in his mouthand drew a longshrill
whistlewhich was answered from the rocks that were guarded
by the Mohicans. Duncan caught glimpses of heads above the
scattered drift-woodas this signal rose on the airbut
they disappeared again as suddenly as they had glanced upon
his sight. A lowrustling sound next drew his attention
behind himand turning his headhe beheld Uncas within a
few feetcreeping to his side. Hawkeye spoke to him in
Delawarewhen the young chief took his position with
singular caution and undisturbed coolness. To Heyward this
was a moment of feverish and impatient suspense; though the
scout saw fit to select it as a fit occasion to read a
lecture to his more youthful associates on the art of using
firearms with discretion.


Of all we'pons,he commencedthe long barreled,
true-grooved, soft-metaled rifle is the most dangerous in
skillful hands, though it wants a strong arm, a quick eye,
and great judgment in charging, to put forth all its
beauties. The gunsmiths can have but little insight into
their trade when they make their fowling-pieces and short
horsemen's --

He was interrupted by the low but expressive "hugh" of
Uncas.

I see them, boy, I see them!continued Hawkeye; "they are
gathering for the rushor they would keep their dingy backs
below the logs. Welllet them he added, examining his
flint; the leading man certainly comes on to his death
though it should be Montcalm himself!"

At that moment the woods were filled with another burst of
criesand at the signal four savages sprang from the cover
of the driftwood. Heyward felt a burning desire to rush
forward to meet themso intense was the delirious anxiety
of the moment; but he was restrained by the deliberate
examples of the scout and Uncas.

When their foeswho had leaped over the black rocks that
divided themwith long boundsuttering the wildest yells
were within a few rodsthe rifle of Hawkeye slowly rose
among the shrubsand poured out its fatal contents. The
foremost Indian bounded like a stricken deerand fell
headlong among the clefts of the island.

Now, Uncas!cried the scoutdrawing his long knifewhile
his quick eyes began to flash with ardortake the last of
the screeching imps; of the other two we are sartain!

He was obeyed; and but two enemies remained to be overcome.
Heyward had given one of his pistols to Hawkeyeand
together they rushed down a little declivity toward their
foes; they discharged their weapons at the same instantand
equally without success.

I know'd it! and I said it!muttered the scoutwhirling
the despised little implement over the falls with bitter
disdain. "Come onye bloody minded hell-hounds! ye meet a
man without a cross!"

The words were barely utteredwhen he encountered a savage
of gigantic statureof the fiercest mien. At the same
momentDuncan found himself engaged with the otherin a
similar contest of hand to hand. With ready skillHawkeye
and his antagonist each grasped that uplifted arm of the
other which held the dangerous knife. For near a minute
they stood looking one another in the eyeand gradually
exerting the power of their muscles for the mastery.

At lengththe toughened sinews of the white man prevailed
over the less practiced limbs of the native. The arm of the
latter slowly gave way before the increasing force of the
scoutwhosuddenly wresting his armed hand from the grasp
of the foedrove the sharp weapon through his naked bosom
to the heart. In the meantimeHeyward had been pressed in
a more deadly struggle. His slight sword was snapped in the
first encounter. As he was destitute of any other means of
defensehis safety now depended entirely on bodily strength


and resolution. Though deficient in neither of these
qualitieshe had met an enemy every way his equal.
Happilyhe soon succeeded in disarming his adversarywhose
knife fell on the rock at their feet; and from this moment
it became a fierce struggle who should cast the other over
the dizzy height into a neighboring cavern of the falls.
Every successive struggle brought them nearer to the verge
where Duncan perceived the final and conquering effort must
be made. Each of the combatants threw all his energies into
that effortand the result wasthat both tottered on the
brink of the precipice. Heyward felt the grasp of the other
at his throatand saw the grim smile the savage gaveunder
the revengeful hope that he hurried his enemy to a fate
similar to his ownas he felt his body slowly yielding to a
resistless powerand the young man experienced the passing
agony of such a moment in all its horrors. At that instant
of extreme dangera dark hand and glancing knife appeared
before him; the Indian released his holdas the blood
flowed freely from around the severed tendons of the wrist;
and while Duncan was drawn backward by the saving hand of
Uncashis charmed eyes still were riveted on the fierce and
disappointed countenance of his foewho fell sullenly and
disappointed down the irrecoverable precipice.

To cover! to cover!cried Hawkeyewho just then had
despatched the enemy; "to coverfor your lives! the work is
but half ended!"

The young Mohican gave a shout of triumphand followed by
Duncanhe glided up the acclivity they had descended to the
combatand sought the friendly shelter of the rocks and
shrubs.

CHAPTER 8

They linger yet, Avengers of their native land.--Gray

The warning call of the scout was not uttered without
occasion. During the occurrence of the deadly encounter
just relatedthe roar of the falls was unbroken by any
human sound whatever. It would seem that interest in the
result had kept the natives on the opposite shores in
breathless suspensewhile the quick evolutions and swift
changes in the positions of the combatants effectually
prevented a fire that might prove dangerous alike to friend
and enemy. But the moment the struggle was decideda yell
arose as fierce and savage as wild and revengeful passions
could throw into the air. It was followed by the swift
flashes of the rifleswhich sent their leaden messengers
across the rock in volleysas though the assailants would
pour out their impotent fury on the insensible scene of the
fatal contest.

A steadythough deliberate return was made from the rifle
of Chingachgookwho had maintained his post throughout the
fray with unmoved resolution. When the triumphant shout of
Uncas was borne to his earsthe gratified father raised his
voice in a single responsive cryafter which his busy piece
alone proved that he still guarded his pass with unwearied
diligence. In this manner many minutes flew by with the
swiftness of thought; the rifles of the assailants speaking
at timesin rattling volleysand at others in occasional


scattering shots. Though the rockthe treesand the
shrubswere cut and torn in a hundred places around the
besiegedtheir cover was so closeand so rigidly
maintainedthatas yetDavid had been the only sufferer
in their little band.

Let them burn their powder,said the deliberate scout
while bullet after bullet whizzed by the place where he
securely lay; "there will be a fine gathering of lead when
it is overand I fancy the imps will tire of the sport
afore these old stones cry out for mercy! Uncasboyyou
waste the kernels by overcharging; and a kicking rifle never
carries a true bullet. I told you to take that loping
miscreant under the line of white point; nowif your bullet
went a hair's breadth it went two inches above it. The life
lies low in a Mingoand humanity teaches us to make a quick
end to the sarpents."

A quiet smile lighted the haughty features of the young
Mohicanbetraying his knowledge of the English language as
well as of the other's meaning; but he suffered it to pass
away without vindication of reply.

I cannot permit you to accuse Uncas of want of judgment or
of skill,said Duncan; "he saved my life in the coolest and
readiest mannerand he has made a friend who never will
require to be reminded of the debt he owes."

Uncas partly raised his bodyand offered his hand to the
grasp of Heyward. During this act of friendshipthe two
young men exchanged looks of intelligence which caused
Duncan to forget the character and condition of his wild
associate. In the meanwhileHawkeyewho looked on this
burst of youthful feeling with a cool but kind regard made
the following reply:

Life is an obligation which friends often owe each other in
the wilderness. I dare say I may have served Uncas some
such turn myself before now; and I very well remember that
he has stood between me and death five different times;
three times from the Mingoes, once in crossing Horican, and
--

That bullet was better aimed than common!exclaimed
Duncaninvoluntarily shrinking from a shot which struck the
rock at his side with a smart rebound.

Hawkeye laid his hand on the shapeless metaland shook his
headas he examined itsayingFalling lead is never
flattened, had it come from the clouds this might have
happened.

But the rifle of Uncas was deliberately raised toward the
heavensdirecting the eyes of his companions to a point
where the mystery was immediately explained. A ragged oak
grew on the right bank of the rivernearly opposite to
their positionwhichseeking the freedom of the open
spacehad inclined so far forward that its upper branches
overhung that arm of the stream which flowed nearest to its
own shore. Among the topmost leaveswhich scantily
concealed the gnarled and stunted limbsa savage was
nestledpartly concealed by the trunk of the treeand
partly exposedas though looking down upon them to
ascertain the effect produced by his treacherous aim.


These devils will scale heaven to circumvent us to our
ruin,said Hawkeye; "keep him in playboyuntil I can
bring 'killdeer' to bearwhen we will try his metal on each
side of the tree at once."

Uncas delayed his fire until the scout uttered the word.

The rifles flashedthe leaves and bark of the oak flew into
the airand were scattered by the windbut the Indian
answered their assault by a taunting laughsending down
upon them another bullet in returnthat struck the cap of
Hawkeye from his head. Once more the savage yells burst out
of the woodsand the leaden hail whistled above the heads
of the besiegedas if to confine them to a place where they
might become easy victims to the enterprise of the warrior
who had mounted the tree.

This must be looked to,said the scoutglancing about him
with an anxious eye. "Uncascall up your father; we have
need of all our we'pons to bring the cunning varmint from
his roost."

The signal was instantly given; andbefore Hawkeye had
reloaded his riflethey were joined by Chingachgook. When
his son pointed out to the experienced warrior the situation
of their dangerous enemythe usual exclamatory "hugh" burst
from his lips; after whichno further expression of
surprise or alarm was suffered to escape him. Hawkeye and
the Mohicans conversed earnestly together in Delaware for a
few momentswhen each quietly took his postin order to
execute the plan they had speedily devised.

The warrior in the oak had maintained a quickthough
ineffectual firefrom the moment of his discovery. But his
aim was interrupted by the vigilance of his enemieswhose
rifles instantaneously bore on any part of his person that
was left exposed. Still his bullets fell in the center of
the crouching party. The clothes of Heywardwhich rendered
him peculiarly conspicuouswere repeatedly cutand once
blood was drawn from a slight wound in his arm.

At lengthemboldened by the long and patient watchfulness
of his enemiesthe Huron attempted a better and more fatal
aim. The quick eyes of the Mohicans caught the dark line of
his lower limbs incautiously exposed through the thin
foliagea few inches from the trunk of the tree. Their
rifles made a common reportwhensinking on his wounded
limbpart of the body of the savage came into view. Swift
as thoughtHawkeye seized the advantageand discharged his
fatal weapon into the top of the oak. The leaves were
unusually agitated; the dangerous rifle fell from its
commanding elevationand after a few moments of vain
strugglingthe form of the savage was seen swinging in the
windwhile he still grasped a ragged and naked branch of
the tree with hands clenched in desperation.

Give him, in pity, give him the contents of another rifle,
cried Duncanturning away his eyes in horror from the
spectacle of a fellow creature in such awful jeopardy.

Not a karnel!exclaimed the obdurate Hawkeye; "his death
is certainand we have no powder to sparefor Indian
fights sometimes last for days; "tis their scalps or ours!


and Godwho made ushas put into our natures the craving
to keep the skin on the head."

Against this stern and unyielding moralitysupported as it
was by such visible policythere was no appeal. From that
moment the yells in the forest once more ceasedthe fire
was suffered to declineand all eyesthose of friends as
well as enemiesbecame fixed on the hopeless condition of
the wretch who was dangling between heaven and earth. The
body yielded to the currents of airand though no murmur or
groan escaped the victimthere were instants when he grimly
faced his foesand the anguish of cold despair might be
tracedthrough the intervening distancein possession of
his swarthy lineaments. Three several times the scout
raised his piece in mercyand as oftenprudence getting
the better of his intentionit was again silently lowered.
At length one hand of the Huron lost its holdand dropped
exhausted to his side. A desperate and fruitless struggle
to recover the branch succeededand then the savage was
seen for a fleeting instantgrasping wildly at the empty
air. The lightning is not quicker than was the flame from
the rifle of Hawkeye; the limbs of the victim trembled and
contractedthe head fell to the bosomand the body parted
the foaming waters like leadwhen the element closed above
itin its ceaseless velocityand every vestige of the
unhappy Huron was lost forever.

No shout of triumph succeeded this important advantagebut
even the Mohicans gazed at each other in silent horror. A
single yell burst from the woodsand all was again still.
Hawkeyewho alone appeared to reason on the occasionshook
his head at his own momentary weaknesseven uttering his
self-disapprobation aloud.

'Twas the last charge in my horn and the last bullet in my
pouch, and 'twas the act of a boy!he said; "what mattered
it whether he struck the rock living or dead! feeling would
soon be over. Uncasladgo down to the canoeand bring
up the big horn; it is all the powder we have leftand we
shall need it to the last grainor I am ignorant of the
Mingo nature."

The young Mohican compliedleaving the scout turning over
the useless contents of his pouchand shaking the empty
horn with renewed discontent. From this unsatisfactory
examinationhoweverhe was soon called by a loud and
piercing exclamation from Uncasthat soundedeven to the
unpracticed ears of Duncanas the signal of some new and
unexpected calamity. Every thought filled with apprehension
for the previous treasure he had concealed in the cavern
the young man started to his feettotally regardless of the
hazard he incurred by such an exposure. As if actuated by a
common impulsehis movement was imitated by his companions
andtogether they rushed down the pass to the friendly
chasmwith a rapidity that rendered the scattering fire of
their enemies perfectly harmless. The unwonted cry had
brought the sisterstogether with the wounded Davidfrom
their place of refuge; and the whole partyat a single
glancewas made acquainted with the nature of the disaster
that had disturbed even the practiced stoicism of their
youthful Indian protector.

At a short distance from the rocktheir little bark was to
be seen floating across the eddytoward the swift current


of the riverin a manner which proved that its course was
directed by some hidden agent. The instant this unwelcome
sight caught the eye of the scouthis rifle was leveled as
by instinctbut the barrel gave no answer to the bright
sparks of the flint.

'Tis too late, 'tis too late!Hawkeye exclaimeddropping
the useless piece in bitter disappointment; "the miscreant
has struck the rapid; and had we powderit could hardly
send the lead swifter than he now goes!"

The adventurous Huron raised his head above the shelter of
the canoeandwhile it glided swiftly down the streamhe
waved his handand gave forth the shoutwhich was the
known signal of success. His cry was answered by a yell and
a laugh from the woodsas tauntingly exulting as if fifty
demons were uttering their blasphemies at the fall of some
Christian soul.

Well may you laugh, ye children of the devil!said the
scoutseating himself on a projection of the rockand
suffering his gun to fall neglected at his feetfor the
three quickest and truest rifles in these woods are no
better than so many stalks of mullein, or the last year's
horns of a buck!

What is to be done?demanded Duncanlosing the first
feeling of disappointment in a more manly desire for
exertion; "what will become of us?"

Hawkeye made no other reply than by passing his finger
around the crown of his headin a manner so significant
that none who witnessed the action could mistake its
meaning.

Surely, surely, our case is not so desperate!exclaimed
the youth; "the Hurons are not here; we may make good the
cavernswe may oppose their landing."

With what?coolly demanded the scout. "The arrows of
Uncasor such tears as women shed! Nono; you are young
and richand have friendsand at such an age I know it is
hard to die! But glancing his eyes at the Mohicans, let
us remember we are men without a crossand let us teach
these natives of the forest that white blood can run as
freely as redwhen the appointed hour is come."

Duncan turned quickly in the direction indicated by the
other's eyesand read a confirmation of his worst
apprehensions in the conduct of the Indians. Chingachgook
placing himself in a dignified posture on another fragment
of the rockhad already laid aside his knife and tomahawk
and was in the act of taking the eagle's plume from his
headand smoothing the solitary tuft of hair in readiness
to perform its last and revolting office. His countenance
was composedthough thoughtfulwhile his darkgleaming
eyes were gradually losing the fierceness of the combat in
an expression better suited to the change he expected
momentarily to undergo.

Our case is not, cannot be so hopeless!said Duncan; "even
at this very moment succor may be at hand. I see no
enemies! They have sickened of a struggle in which they
risk so much with so little prospect of gain!"


It may be a minute, or it may be an hour, afore the wily
sarpents steal upon us, and it is quite in natur' for them
to be lying within hearing at this very moment,said
Hawkeye; "but come they willand in such a fashion as will
leave us nothing to hope! Chingachgook"--he spoke in
Delaware--"my brotherwe have fought our last battle
togetherand the Maquas will triumph in the death of the
sage man of the Mohicansand of the pale facewhose eyes
can make night as dayand level the clouds to the mists of
the springs!"

Let the Mingo women go weep over the slain!returned the
Indianwith characteristic pride and unmoved firmness; "the
Great Snake of the Mohicans has coiled himself in their
wigwamsand has poisoned their triumph with the wailings of
childrenwhose fathers have not returned! Eleven warriors
lie hid from the graves of their tribes since the snows have
meltedand none will tell where to find them when the
tongue of Chingachgook shall be silent! Let them draw the
sharpest knifeand whirl the swiftest tomahawkfor their
bitterest enemy is in their hands. Uncastopmost branch of
a noble trunkcall on the cowards to hastenor their
hearts will softenand they will change to women!"

They look among the fishes for their dead!returned the
lowsoft voice of the youthful chieftain; "the Hurons float
with the slimy eels! They drop from the oaks like fruit
that is ready to be eaten! and the Delawares laugh!"

Ay, ay,muttered the scoutwho had listened to this
peculiar burst of the natives with deep attention; "they
have warmed their Indian feelingsand they'll soon provoke
the Maquas to give them a speedy end. As for mewho am of
the whole blood of the whitesit is befitting that I should
die as becomes my colorwith no words of scoffing in my
mouthand without bitterness at the heart!"

Why die at all!said Coraadvancing from the place where
natural horror haduntil this momentheld her riveted to
the rock; "the path is open on every side; flythento the
woodsand call on God for succor. Gobrave menwe owe
you too much already; let us no longer involve you in our
hapless fortunes!"

You but little know the craft of the Iroquois, lady, if you
judge they have left the path open to the woods!returned
Hawkeyewhohoweverimmediately added in his simplicity
the down stream current, it is certain, might soon sweep us
beyond the reach of their rifles or the sound of their
voices.

Then try the river. Why linger to add to the number of the
victims of our merciless enemies?

Why,repeated the scoutlooking about him proudly;
because it is better for a man to die at peace with himself
than to live haunted by an evil conscience! What answer
could we give Munro, when he asked us where and how we left
his children?

Go to him, and say that you left them with a message to
hasten to their aid,returned Coraadvancing nigher to the
scout in her generous ardor; "that the Hurons bear them into


the northern wildsbut that by vigilance and speed they may
yet be rescued; and ifafter allit should please heaven
that his assistance come too latebear to him she
continued, her voice gradually lowering, until it seemed
nearly choked, the lovethe blessingsthe final prayers
of his daughtersand bid him not mourn their early fate
but to look forward with humble confidence to the
Christian's goal to meet his children." The hardweatherbeaten
features of the scout began to workand when she had
endedhe dropped his chin to his handlike a man musing
profoundly on the nature of the proposal.

There is reason in her words!at length broke from his
compressed and trembling lips; "ayand they bear the spirit
of Christianity; what might be right and proper in a redskin
may be sinful in a man who has not even a cross in
blood to plead for his ignorance. Chingachgook! Uncas! hear
you the talk of the dark-eyed woman?"

He now spoke in Delaware to his companionsand his address
though calm and deliberateseemed very decided. The elder
Mohican heard with deep gravityand appeared to ponder on
his wordsas though he felt the importance of their import.
After a moment of hesitationhe waved his hand in assent
and uttered the English word "Good!" with the peculiar
emphasis of his people. Thenreplacing his knife and
tomahawk in his girdlethe warrior moved silently to the
edge of the rock which was most concealed from the banks of
the river. Here he paused a momentpointed significantly
to the woods belowand saying a few words in his own
languageas if indicating his intended routehe dropped
into the waterand sank from before the eyes of the
witnesses of his movements.

The scout delayed his departure to speak to the generous
girlwhose breathing became lighter as she saw the success
of her remonstrance.

Wisdom is sometimes given to the young, as well as to the
old,he said; "and what you have spoken is wisenot to
call it by a better word. If you are led into the woods
that is such of you as may be spared for awhilebreak the
twigs on the bushes as you passand make the marks of your
trail as broad as you canwhenif mortal eyes can see
themdepend on having a friend who will follow to the ends
of the 'arth afore he desarts you."

He gave Cora an affectionate shake of the handlifted his
rifleand after regarding it a moment with melancholy
solicitudelaid it carefully asideand descended to the
place where Chingachgook had just disappeared. For an
instant he hung suspended by the rockand looking about
himwith a countenance of peculiar carehe added bitterly
Had the powder held out, this disgrace could never have
befallen!thenloosening his holdthe water closed above
his headand he also became lost to view.

All eyes now were turned on Uncaswho stood leaning against
the ragged rockin immovable composure. After waiting a
short timeCora pointed down the riverand said:

Your friends have not been seen, and are now, most
probably, in safety. Is it not time for you to follow?


Uncas will stay,the young Mohican calmly answered in
English.

To increase the horror of our capture, and to diminish the
chances of our release! Go, generous young man,Cora
continuedlowering her eyes under the gaze of the Mohican
and perhapswith an intuitive consciousness of her power;
go to my father, as I have said, and be the most
confidential of my messengers. Tell him to trust you with
the means to buy the freedom of his daughters. Go! 'tis my
wish, 'tis my prayer, that you will go!

The settledcalm look of the young chief changed to an
expression of gloombut he no longer hesitated. With a
noiseless step he crossed the rockand dropped into the
troubled stream. Hardly a breath was drawn by those he left
behinduntil they caught a glimpse of his head emerging for
airfar down the currentwhen he again sankand was seen
no more.

These sudden and apparently successful experiments had all
taken place in a few minutes of that time which had now
become so precious. After a last look at UncasCora
turned and with a quivering lipaddressed herself to
Heyward:

I have heard of your boasted skill in the water, too,
Duncan,she said; "followthenthe wise example set you
by these simple and faithful beings."

Is such the faith that Cora Munro would exact from her
protector?said the young mansmiling mournfullybut with
bitterness.

This is not a time for idle subtleties and false opinions,
she answered; "but a moment when every duty should be
equally considered. To us you can be of no further service
herebut your precious life may be saved for other and
nearer friends."

He made no replythough his eye fell wistfully on the
beautiful form of Alicewho was clinging to his arm with
the dependency of an infant.

Consider,continued Coraafter a pauseduring which she
seemed to struggle with a pang even more acute than any that
her fears had excitedthat the worst to us can be but
death; a tribute that all must pay at the good time of God's
appointment.

There are evils worse than death,said Duncanspeaking
hoarselyand as if fretful at her importunitybut which
the presence of one who would die in your behalf may avert.

Cora ceased her entreaties; and veiling her face in her
shawldrew the nearly insensible Alice after her into the
deepest recess of the inner cavern.

CHAPTER 9

Be gay securely; Dispel, my fair, with smiles, the tim'rous
clouds, That hang on thy clear brow.--Death of Agrippina


The sudden and almost magical changefrom the stirring
incidents of the combat to the stillness that now reigned
around himacted on the heated imagination of Heyward like
some exciting dream. While all the images and events he had
witnessed remained deeply impressed on his memoryhe felt a
difficulty in persuading him of their truth. Still ignorant
of the fate of those who had trusted to the aid of the swift
currenthe at first listened intently to any signal or
sounds of alarmwhich might announce the good or evil
fortune of their hazardous undertaking. His attention was
howeverbestowed in vain; for with the disappearance of
Uncasevery sign of the adventurers had been lostleaving
him in total uncertainty of their fate.

In a moment of such painful doubtDuncan did not hesitate
to look around himwithout consulting that protection from
the rocks which just before had been so necessary to his
safety. Every efforthoweverto detect the least evidence
of the approach of their hidden enemies was as fruitless as
the inquiry after his late companions. The wooded banks of
the river seemed again deserted by everything possessing
animal life. The uproar which had so lately echoed through
the vaults of the forest was goneleaving the rush of the
waters to swell and sink on the currents of the airin the
unmingled sweetness of nature. A fish-hawkwhichsecure
on the topmost branches of a dead pinehad been a distant
spectator of the fraynow swooped from his high and ragged
perchand soaredin wide sweepsabove his prey; while a
jaywhose noisy voice had been stilled by the hoarser cries
of the savagesventured again to open his discordant
throatas though once more in undisturbed possession of his
wild domains. Duncan caught from these natural
accompaniments of the solitary scene a glimmering of hope;
and he began to rally his faculties to renewed exertions
with something like a reviving confidence of success.

The Hurons are not to be seen,he saidaddressing David
who had by no means recovered from the effects of the
stunning blow he had received; "let us conceal ourselves in
the cavernand trust the rest to Providence."

I remember to have united with two comely maidens, in
lifting up our voices in praise and thanksgiving,returned
the bewildered singing-master; "since which time I have been
visited by a heavy judgment for my sins. I have been mocked
with the likeness of sleepwhile sounds of discord have
rent my earssuch as might manifest the fullness of time
and that nature had forgotten her harmony."

Poor fellow! thine own period was, in truth, near its
accomplishment! But arouse, and come with me; I will lead
you where all other sounds but those of your own psalmody
shall be excluded.

There is melody in the fall of the cataract, and the
rushing of many waters is sweet to the senses!said David
pressing his hand confusedly on his brow. "Is not the air
yet filled with shrieks and criesas though the departed
spirits of the damned--"

Not now, not now,interrupted the impatient Heywardthey
have ceased, and they who raised them, I trust in God, they
are gone, too! everything but the water is still and at


peace; in, then, where you may create those sounds you love
so well to hear.

David smiled sadlythough not without a momentary gleam of
pleasureat this allusion to his beloved vocation. He no
longer hesitated to be led to a spot which promised such
unalloyed gratification to his wearied senses; and leaning
on the arm of his companionhe entered the narrow mouth of
the cave. Duncan seized a pile of the sassafraswhich he
drew before the passagestudiously concealing every
appearance of an aperture. Within this fragile barrier he
arranged the blankets abandoned by the forestersdarkening
the inner extremity of the cavernwhile its outer received
a chastened light from the narrow ravinethrough which one
arm of the river rushed to form the junction with its sister
branch a few rods below.

I like not the principle of the natives, which teaches them
to submit without a struggle, in emergencies that appear
desperate,he saidwhile busied in this employment; "our
own maximwhich says'while life remains there is hope'
is more consolingand better suited to a soldier's
temperament. To youCoraI will urge no words of idle
encouragement; your own fortitude and undisturbed reason
will teach you all that may become your sex; but cannot we
dry the tears of that trembling weeper on your bosom?"

I am calmer, Duncan,said Aliceraising herself from the
arms of her sisterand forcing an appearance of composure
through her tears; "much calmernow. Surelyin this
hidden spot we are safewe are secretfree from injury; we
will hope everything from those generous men who have risked
so much already in our behalf."

Now does our gentle Alice speak like a daughter of Munro!
said Heywardpausing to press her hand as he passed toward
the outer entrance of the cavern. "With two such examples
of courage before hima man would be ashamed to prove other
than a hero." He then seated himself in the center of the
caverngrasping his remaining pistol with a hand
convulsively clenchedwhile his contracted and frowning eye
announced the sullen desperation of his purpose. "The
Huronsif they comemay not gain our position so easily as
they think he slowly muttered; and propping his head back
against the rock, he seemed to await the result in patience,
though his gaze was unceasingly bent on the open avenue to
their place of retreat.

With the last sound of his voice, a deep, a long, and almost
breathless silence succeeded. The fresh air of the morning
had penetrated the recess, and its influence was gradually
felt on the spirits of its inmates. As minute after minute
passed by, leaving them in undisturbed security, the
insinuating feeling of hope was gradually gaining possession
of every bosom, though each one felt reluctant to give
utterance to expectations that the next moment might so
fearfully destroy.

David alone formed an exception to these varying emotions.
A gleam of light from the opening crossed his wan
countenance, and fell upon the pages of the little volume,
whose leaves he was again occupied in turning, as if
searching for some song more fitted to their condition than
any that had yet met their eye. He was, most probably,


acting all this time under a confused recollection of the
promised consolation of Duncan. At length, it would seem,
his patient industry found its reward; for, without
explanation or apology, he pronounced aloud the words Isle
of Wight drew a long, sweet sound from his pitch-pipe, and
then ran through the preliminary modulations of the air
whose name he had just mentioned, with the sweeter tones of
his own musical voice.

May not this prove dangerous?" asked Coraglancing her
dark eye at Major Heyward.

Poor fellow! his voice is too feeble to be heard above the
din of the falls,was the answer; "besidethe cavern will
prove his friend. Let him indulge his passions since it may
be done without hazard."

Isle of Wight!repeated Davidlooking about him with that
dignity with which he had long been wont to silence the
whispering echoes of his school; "'tis a brave tuneand set
to solemn words! let it be sung with meet respect!"

After allowing a moment of stillness to enforce his
disciplinethe voice of the singer was heardin low
murmuring syllablesgradually stealing on the earuntil it
filled the narrow vault with sounds rendered trebly
thrilling by the feeble and tremulous utterance produced by
his debility. The melodywhich no weakness could destroy
gradually wrought its sweet influence on the senses of those
who heard it. It even prevailed over the miserable travesty
of the song of David which the singer had selected from a
volume of similar effusionsand caused the sense to be
forgotten in the insinuating harmony of the sounds. Alice
unconsciously dried her tearsand bent her melting eyes on
the pallid features of Gamutwith an expression of
chastened delight that she neither affected or wished to
conceal. Cora bestowed an approving smile on the pious
efforts of the namesake of the Jewish princeand Heyward
soon turned his steadystern look from the outlet of the
cavernto fasten itwith a milder characteron the face
of Davidor to meet the wandering beams which at moments
strayed from the humid eyes of Alice. The open sympathy of
the listeners stirred the spirit of the votary of music
whose voice regained its richness and volumewithout losing
that touching softness which proved its secret charm.
Exerting his renovated powers to their utmosthe was yet
filling the arches of the cave with long and full tones
when a yell burst into the air withoutthat instantly
stilled his pious strainschoking his voice suddenlyas
though his heart had literally bounded into the passage of
his throat.

We are lost!exclaimed Alicethrowing herself into the
arms of Cora.

Not yet, not yet,returned the agitated but undaunted
Heyward: "the sound came from the center of the islandand
it has been produced by the sight of their dead companions.
We are not yet discoveredand there is still hope."

Faint and almost despairing as was the prospect of escape
the words of Duncan were not thrown awayfor it awakened
the powers of the sisters in such a manner that they awaited
the results in silence. A second yell soon followed the


firstwhen a rush of voices was heard pouring down the
islandfrom its upper to its lower extremityuntil they
reached the naked rock above the cavernswhereafter a
shout of savage triumphthe air continued full of horrible
cries and screamssuch as man alone can utterand he only
when in a state of the fiercest barbarity.

The sounds quickly spread around them in every direction.
Some called to their fellows from the water's edgeand were
answered from the heights above. Cries were heard in the
startling vicinity of the chasm between the two caveswhich
mingled with hoarser yells that arose out of the abyss of
the deep ravine. In shortso rapidly had the savage sounds
diffused themselves over the barren rockthat it was not
difficult for the anxious listeners to imagine they could be
heard beneathas in truth they were above on every side of
them.

In the midst of this tumulta triumphant yell was raised
within a few yards of the hidden entrance to the cave.
Heyward abandoned every hopewith the belief it was the
signal that they were discovered. Again the impression
passed awayas he heard the voices collect near the spot
where the white man had so reluctantly abandoned his rifle.
Amid the jargon of Indian dialects that he now plainly
heardit was easy to distinguish not only wordsbut
sentencesin the patois of the Canadas. A burst of voices
had shouted simultaneouslyLa Longue Carabine!causing
the opposite woods to re-echo with a name whichHeyward
well rememberedhad been given by his enemies to a
celebrated hunter and scout of the English campand whohe
now learned for the first timehad been his late companion.

La Longue Carabine! La Longue Carabine!passed from mouth
to mouthuntil the whole band appeared to be collected
around a trophy which would seem to announce the death of
its formidable owner. After a vociferous consultation
which wasat timesdeafened by bursts of savage joythey
again separatedfilling the air with the name of a foe
whose bodyHeywood could collect from their expressions
they hoped to find concealed in some crevice of the island.

Now,he whispered to the trembling sistersnow is the
moment of uncertainty! if our place of retreat escape this
scrutiny, we are still safe! In every event, we are
assured, by what has fallen from our enemies, that our
friends have escaped, and in two short hours we may look for
succor from Webb.

There were now a few minutes of fearful stillnessduring
which Heyward well knew that the savages conducted their
search with greater vigilance and method. More than once he
could distinguish their footstepsas they brushed the
sassafrascausing the faded leaves to rustleand the
branches to snap. At lengththe pile yielded a littlea
corner of a blanket felland a faint ray of light gleamed
into the inner part of the cave. Cora folded Alice to her
bosom in agonyand Duncan sprang to his feet. A shout was
at that moment heardas if issuing from the center of the
rockannouncing that the neighboring cavern had at length
been entered. In a minutethe number and loudness of the
voices indicated that the whole party was collected in and
around that secret place.


As the inner passages to the two caves were so close to each
otherDuncanbelieving that escape was no longer possible
passed David and the sistersto place himself between the
latter and the first onset of the terrible meeting. Grown
desperate by his situationhe drew nigh the slight barrier
which separated him only by a few feet from his relentless
pursuersand placing his face to the casual openinghe
even looked out with a sort of desperate indifferenceon
their movements.

Within reach of his arm was the brawny shoulder of a
gigantic Indianwhose deep and authoritative voice appeared
to give directions to the proceedings of his fellows.
Beyond him againDuncan could look into the vault opposite
which was filled with savagesupturning and rifling the
humble furniture of the scout. The wound of David had dyed
the leaves of sassafras with a color that the native well
knew as anticipating the season. Over this sign of their
successthey sent up a howllike an opening from so many
hounds who had recovered a lost trail. After this yell of
victorythey tore up the fragrant bed of the cavernand
bore the branches into the chasmscattering the boughsas
if they suspected them of concealing the person of the man
they had so long hated and feared. One fierce and wildlooking
warrior approached the chiefbearing a load of the
brushand pointing exultingly to the deep red stains with
which it was sprinkleduttered his joy in Indian yells
whose meaning Heyward was only enabled to comprehend by the
frequent repetition of the name "La Longue Carabine!" When
his triumph had ceasedhe cast the brush on the slight heap
Duncan had made before the entrance of the second cavern
and closed the view. His example was followed by others
whoas they drew the branches from the cave of the scout
threw them into one pileaddingunconsciouslyto the
security of those they sought. The very slightness of the
defense was its chief meritfor no one thought of
disturbing a mass of brushwhich all of them believedin
that moment of hurry and confusionhad been accidentally
raised by the hands of their own party.

As the blankets yielded before the outward pressureand the
branches settled in the fissure of the rock by their own
weightforming a compact bodyDuncan once more breathed
freely. With a light step and lighter hearthe returned to
the center of the caveand took the place he had left
where he could command a view of the opening next the river.
While he was in the act of making this movementthe
Indiansas if changing their purpose by a common impulse
broke away from the chasm in a bodyand were heard rushing
up the island againtoward the point whence they had
originally descended. Here another wailing cry betrayed
that they were again collected around the bodies of their
dead comrades.

Duncan now ventured to look at his companions; forduring
the most critical moments of their dangerhe had been
apprehensive that the anxiety of his countenance might
communicate some additional alarm to those who were so
little able to sustain it.

They are gone, Cora!he whispered; "Alicethey are
returned whence they cameand we are saved! To Heaven
that has alone delivered us from the grasp of so merciless
an enemybe all the praise!"


Then to Heaven will I return my thanks!exclaimed the
younger sisterrising from the encircling arm of Coraand
casting herself with enthusiastic gratitude on the naked rock;
to that Heaven who has spared the tears of a gray-headed
father; has saved the lives of those I so much love.

Both Heyward and the more temperate Cora witnessed the act
of involuntary emotion with powerful sympathythe former
secretly believing that piety had never worn a form so
lovely as it had now assumed in the youthful person of
Alice. Her eyes were radiant with the glow of grateful
feelings; the flush of her beauty was again seated on her
cheeksand her whole soul seemed ready and anxious to pour
out its thanksgivings through the medium of her eloquent
features. But when her lips movedthe words they should
have uttered appeared frozen by some new and sudden chill.
Her bloom gave place to the paleness of death; her soft and
melting eyes grew hardand seemed contracting with horror;
while those handswhich she had raisedclasped in each
othertoward heavendropped in horizontal lines before
herthe fingers pointed forward in convulsed motion.
Heyward turned the instant she gave a direction to his
suspicionsand peering just above the ledge which formed
the threshold of the open outlet of the cavernhe beheld
the malignantfierce and savage features of Le Renard
Subtil.

In that moment of surprisethe self-possession of Heyward
did not desert him. He observed by the vacant expression of
the Indian's countenancethat his eyeaccustomed to the
open air had not yet been able to penetrate the dusky light
which pervaded the depth of the cavern. He had even thought
of retreating beyond a curvature in the natural wallwhich
might still conceal him and his companionswhen by the
sudden gleam of intelligence that shot across the features
of the savagehe saw it was too lateand that they were
betrayed.

The look of exultation and brutal triumph which announced
this terrible truth was irresistibly irritating. Forgetful
of everything but the impulses of his hot bloodDuncan
leveled his pistol and fired. The report of the weapon made
the cavern bellow like an eruption from a volcano; and when
the smoke it vomited had been driven away before the current
of air which issued from the ravine the place so lately
occupied by the features of his treacherous guide was
vacant. Rushing to the outletHeyward caught a glimpse of
his dark figure stealing around a low and narrow ledge
which soon hid him entirely from sight.

Among the savages a frightful stillness succeeded the
explosionwhich had just been heard bursting from the
bowels of the rock. But when Le Renard raised his voice in
a long and intelligible whoopit was answered by a
spontaneous yell from the mouth of every Indian within
hearing of the sound.

The clamorous noises again rushed down the island; and
before Duncan had time to recover from the shockhis feeble
barrier of brush was scattered to the windsthe cavern was
entered at both its extremitiesand he and his companions
were dragged from their shelter and borne into the day
where they stood surrounded by the whole band of the


triumphant Hurons.

CHAPTER 10

I fear we shall outsleep the coming morn As much as we this
night have overwatched!--Midsummer Night's Dream

The instant the shock of this sudden misfortune had abated
Duncan began to make his observations on the appearance and
proceedings of their captors. Contrary to the usages of the
natives in the wantonness of their success they had
respectednot only the persons of the trembling sisters
but his own. The rich ornaments of his military attire had
indeed been repeatedly handled by different individuals of
the tribes with eyes expressing a savage longing to possess
the baubles; but before the customary violence could be
resorted toa mandate in the authoritative voice of the
large warrioralready mentionedstayed the uplifted hand
and convinced Heyward that they were to be reserved for some
object of particular moment.

Whilehoweverthese manifestations of weakness were
exhibited by the young and vain of the partythe more
experienced warriors continued their search throughout both
cavernswith an activity that denoted they were far from
being satisfied with those fruits of their conquest which
had already been brought to light. Unable to discover any
new victimthese diligent workers of vengeance soon
approached their male prisonerspronouncing the name "La
Longue Carabine with a fierceness that could not be easily
mistaken. Duncan affected not to comprehend the meaning of
their repeated and violent interrogatories, while his
companion was spared the effort of a similar deception by
his ignorance of French. Wearied at length by their
importunities, and apprehensive of irritating his captors by
too stubborn a silence, the former looked about him in quest
of Magua, who might interpret his answers to questions which
were at each moment becoming more earnest and threatening.

The conduct of this savage had formed a solitary exception
to that of all his fellows. While the others were busily
occupied in seeking to gratify their childish passion for
finery, by plundering even the miserable effects of the
scout, or had been searching with such bloodthirsty
vengeance in their looks for their absent owner, Le Renard
had stood at a little distance from the prisoners, with a
demeanor so quiet and satisfied, as to betray that he had
already effected the grand purpose of his treachery. When
the eyes of Heyward first met those of his recent guide, he
turned them away in horror at the sinister though calm look
he encountered. Conquering his disgust, however, he was
able, with an averted face, to address his successful enemy.

Le Renard Subtil is too much of a warrior said the
reluctant Heyward, to refuse telling an unarmed man what
his conquerors say."

They ask for the hunter who knows the paths through the
woods,returned Maguain his broken Englishlaying his
handat the same timewith a ferocious smileon the
bundle of leaves with which a wound on his own shoulder was
bandaged. "'La Longue Carabine'! His rifle is goodand his


eye never shut; butlike the short gun of the white chief
it is nothing against the life of Le Subtil."

Le Renard is too brave to remember the hurts received in
war, or the hands that gave them.

Was it war, when the tired Indian rested at the sugartree
to taste his corn! who filled the bushes with creeping
enemies! who drew the knife, whose tongue was peace, while
his heart was colored with blood! Did Magua say that the
hatchet was out of the ground, and that his hand had dug it
up?

As Duncan dared not retort upon his accuser by reminding him
of his own premeditated treacheryand disdained to
deprecate his resentment by any words of apologyhe
remained silent. Magua seemed also content to rest the
controversy as well as all further communication therefor
he resumed the leaning attitude against the rock from which
in momentary energyhe had arisen. But the cry of "La
Longue Carabine" was renewed the instant the impatient
savages perceived that the short dialogue was ended.

You hear,said Maguawith stubborn indifference: "the red
Hurons call for the life of 'The Long Rifle'or they will
have the blood of him that keep him hid!"

He is gone -- escaped; he is far beyond their reach.

Renard smiled with cold contemptas he answered:

When the white man dies, he thinks he is at peace; but the
red men know how to torture even the ghosts of their
enemies. Where is his body? Let the Hurons see his scalp.

He is not dead, but escaped.

Magua shook his head incredulously.

Is he a bird, to spread his wings; or is he a fish, to swim
without air! The white chief read in his books, and he
believes the Hurons are fools!

Though no fish, 'The Long Rifle' can swim. He floated down
the stream when the powder was all burned, and when the eyes
of the Hurons were behind a cloud.

And why did the white chief stay?demanded the still
incredulous Indian. "Is he a stone that goes to the bottom
or does the scalp burn his head?"

That I am not stone, your dead comrade, who fell into the
falls, might answer, were the life still in him,said the
provoked young manusingin his angerthat boastful
language which was most likely to excite the admiration of
an Indian. "The white man thinks none but cowards desert
their women."

Magua muttered a few wordsinaudiblybetween his teeth
before he continuedaloud:

Can the Delawares swim, too, as well as crawl in the
bushes? Where is 'Le Gros Serpent'?


Duncanwho perceived by the use of these Canadian
appellationsthat his late companions were much better
known to his enemies than to himselfansweredreluctantly:
He also is gone down with the water.

'Le Cerf Agile' is not here?

I know not whom you call 'The Nimble Deer',said Duncan
gladly profiting by any excuse to create delay.

Uncas,returned Maguapronouncing the Delaware name with
even greater difficulty than he spoke his English words.
'Bounding Elk' is what the white man says, when he calls to
the young Mohican.

Here is some confusion in names between us, Le Renard,
said Duncanhoping to provoke a discussion. "Daim is the
French for deerand cerf for stag; elan is the true term
when one would speak of an elk."

Yes,muttered the Indianin his native tongue; "the pale
faces are prattling women! they have two words for each
thingwhile a red-skin will make the sound of his voice
speak to him." Thenchanging his languagehe continued
adhering to the imperfect nomenclature of his provincial
instructors. "The deer is swiftbut weak; the elk is
swiftbut strong; and the son of 'Le Serpent' is 'Le Cerf
Agile.' Has he leaped the river to the woods?"

If you mean the younger Delaware, he, too, has gone down
with the water.

As there was nothing improbable to an Indian in the manner
of the escapeMagua admitted the truth of what he had
heardwith a readiness that afforded additional evidence
how little he would prize such worthless captives. With his
companionshoweverthe feeling was manifestly different.

The Hurons had awaited the result of this short dialogue
with characteristic patienceand with a silence that
increased until there was a general stillness in the band.
When Heyward ceased to speakthey turned their eyesas one
manon Maguademandingin this expressive manneran
explanation of what had been said. Their interpreter
pointed to the riverand made them acquainted with the
resultas much by the action as by the few words he
uttered. When the fact was generally understoodthe
savages raised a frightful yellwhich declared the extent
of their disappointment. Some ran furiously to the water's
edgebeating the air with frantic gestureswhile others
spat upon the elementto resent the supposed treason it had
committed against their acknowledged rights as conquerors.
A fewand they not the least powerful and terrific of the
bandthrew lowering looksin which the fiercest passion
was only tempered by habitual self-commandat those
captives who still remained in their powerwhile one or two
even gave vent to their malignant feelings by the most
menacing gesturesagainst which neither the sex nor the
beauty of the sisters was any protection. The young soldier
made a desperate but fruitless effort to spring to the side
of Alicewhen he saw the dark hand of a savage twisted in
the rich tresses which were flowing in volumes over her
shoulderswhile a knife was passed around the head from
which they fellas if to denote the horrid manner in which


it was about to be robbed of its beautiful ornament. But
his hands were bound; and at the first movement he madehe
felt the grasp of the powerful Indian who directed the band
pressing his shoulder like a vise. Immediately conscious
how unavailing any struggle against such an overwhelming
force must provehe submitted to his fateencouraging his
gentle companions by a few low and tender assurancesthat
the natives seldom failed to threaten more than they
performed.

But while Duncan resorted to these words of consolation to
quiet the apprehensions of the sistershe was not so weak
as to deceive himself. He well knew that the authority of
an Indian chief was so little conventionalthat it was
oftener maintained by physical superiority than by any moral
supremacy he might possess. The danger wastherefore
magnified exactly in proportion to the number of the savage
spirits by which they were surrounded. The most positive
mandate from him who seemed the acknowledged leaderwas
liable to be violated at each moment by any rash hand that
might choose to sacrifice a victim to the manes of some dead
friend or relative. Whilethereforehe sustained an
outward appearance of calmness and fortitudehis heart
leaped into his throatwhenever any of their fierce captors
drew nearer than common to the helpless sistersor fastened
one of their sullenwandering looks on those fragile forms
which were so little able to resist the slightest assault.

His apprehensions werehowevergreatly relievedwhen he
saw that the leader had summoned his warriors to himself in
counsel. Their deliberations were shortand it would seem
by the silence of most of the partythe decision unanimous.
By the frequency with which the few speakers pointed in the
direction of the encampment of Webbit was apparent they
dreaded the approach of danger from that quarter. This
consideration probably hastened their determinationand
quickened the subsequent movements.

During his short conferenceHeywardfinding a respite from
his gravest fearshad leisure to admire the cautious manner
in which the Hurons had made their approacheseven after
hostilities had ceased.

It has already been stated that the upper half of the island
was a naked rockand destitute of any other defenses than a
few scattered logs of driftwood. They had selected this
point to make their descenthaving borne the canoe through
the wood around the cataract for that purpose. Placing
their arms in the little vessel a dozen men clinging to its
sides had trusted themselves to the direction of the canoe
which was controlled by two of the most skillful warriors
in attitudes that enabled them to command a view of the
dangerous passage. Favored by this arrangementthey
touched the head of the island at that point which had
proved so fatal to their first adventurersbut with the
advantages of superior numbersand the possession of
firearms. That such had been the manner of their descent
was rendered quite apparent to Duncan; for they now bore the
light bark from the upper end of the rockand placed it in
the waternear the mouth of the outer cavern. As soon as
this change was madethe leader made signs to the prisoners
to descend and enter.

As resistance was impossibleand remonstrance useless


Heyward set the example of submissionby leading the way
into the canoewhere he was soon seated with the sisters
and the still wondering David. Notwithstanding the Hurons
were necessarily ignorant of the little channels among the
eddies and rapids of the streamthey knew the common signs
of such a navigation too well to commit any material
blunder. When the pilot chosen for the task of guiding the
canoe had taken his stationthe whole band plunged again
into the riverthe vessel glided down the currentand in a
few moments the captives found themselves on the south bank
of the streamnearly opposite to the point where they had
struck it the preceding evening.

Here was held another short but earnest consultationduring
which the horsesto whose panic their owners ascribed their
heaviest misfortunewere led from the cover of the woods
and brought to the sheltered spot. The band now divided.
The great chiefso often mentionedmounting the charger of
Heywardled the way directly across the riverfollowed by
most of his peopleand disappeared in the woodsleaving
the prisoners in charge of six savagesat whose head was Le
Renard Subtil. Duncan witnessed all their movements with
renewed uneasiness.

He had been fond of believingfrom the uncommon forbearance
of the savagesthat he was reserved as a prisoner to be
delivered to Montcalm. As the thoughts of those who are in
misery seldom slumberand the invention is never more
lively than when it is stimulated by hopehowever feeble
and remotehe had even imagined that the parental feelings
of Munro were to be made instrumental in seducing him from
his duty to the king. For though the French commander bore
a high character for courage and enterprisehe was also
thought to be expert in those political practises which do
not always respect the nicer obligations of moralityand
which so generally disgraced the European diplomacy of that
period.

All those busy and ingenious speculations were now
annihilated by the conduct of his captors. That portion of
the band who had followed the huge warrior took the route
toward the foot of the Horicanand no other expectation was
left for himself and companionsthan that they were to be
retained as hopeless captives by their savage conquerors.
Anxious to know the worstand willingin such an
emergencyto try the potency of gold he overcame his
reluctance to speak to Magua. Addressing himself to his
former guidewho had now assumed the authority and manner
of one who was to direct the future movements of the party
he saidin tones as friendly and confiding as he could
assume:

I would speak to Magua, what is fit only for so great a
chief to hear.

The Indian turned his eyes on the young soldier scornfully
as he answered:

Speak; trees have no ears.

But the red Hurons are not deaf; and counsel that is fit
for the great men of a nation would make the young warriors
drunk. If Magua will not listen, the officer of the king
knows how to be silent.


The savage spoke carelessly to his comradeswho were
busiedafter their awkward mannerin preparing the horses
for the reception of the sistersand moved a little to one
sidewhither by a cautious gesture he induced Heyward to
follow.

Now, speak,he said; "if the words are such as Magua
should hear."

Le Renard Subtil has proved himself worthy of the honorable
name given to him by his Canada fathers,commenced Heyward;
I see his wisdom, and all that he has done for us, and
shall remember it when the hour to reward him arrives. Yes!
Renard has proved that he is not only a great chief in
council, but one who knows how to deceive his enemies!

What has Renard done?coldly demanded the Indian.

What! has he not seen that the woods were filled with
outlying parties of the enemies, and that the serpent could
not steal through them without being seen? Then, did he not
lose his path to blind the eyes of the Hurons? Did he not
pretend to go back to his tribe, who had treated him ill,
and driven him from their wigwams like a dog? And when he
saw what he wished to do, did we not aid him, by making a
false face, that the Hurons might think the white man
believed that his friend was his enemy? Is not all this
true? And when Le Subtil had shut the eyes and stopped the
ears of his nation by his wisdom, did they not forget that
they had once done him wrong, and forced him to flee to the
Mohawks? And did they not leave him on the south side of the
river, with their prisoners, while they have gone foolishly
on the north? Does not Renard mean to turn like a fox on his
footsteps, and to carry to the rich and gray-headed
Scotchman his daughters? Yes, Magua, I see it all, and I
have already been thinking how so much wisdom and honesty
should be repaid. First, the chief of William Henry will
give as a great chief should for such a service. The medal*
of Magua will no longer be of tin, but of beaten gold; his
horn will run over with powder; dollars will be as plenty in
his pouch as pebbles on the shore of Horican; and the deer
will lick his hand, for they will know it to be vain to fly
from the rifle he will carry! As for myself, I know not how
to exceed the gratitude of the Scotchman, but I--yes, I
will--

* It has long been a practice with the whites to
conciliate the important men of the Indians by presenting
medalswhich are worn in the place of their own rude
ornaments. Those given by the English generally bear the
impression of the reigning kingand those given by the
Americans that of the president.
What will the young chief, who comes from toward the sun,
give?demanded the Huronobserving that Heyward hesitated
in his desire to end the enumeration of benefits with that
which might form the climax of an Indian's wishes.

He will make the fire-water from the islands in the salt
lake flow before the wigwam of Magua, until the heart of the
Indian shall be lighter than the feathers of the humming-bird,
and his breath sweeter than the wild honeysuckle.


Le Renard had listened gravely as Heyward slowly proceeded
in this subtle speech. When the young man mentioned the
artifice he supposed the Indian to have practised on his own
nationthe countenance of the listener was veiled in an
expression of cautious gravity. At the allusion to the
injury which Duncan affected to believe had driven the Huron
from his native tribea gleam of such ungovernable ferocity
flashed from the other's eyesas induced the adventurous
speaker to believe he had struck the proper chord. And by
the time he reached the part where he so artfully blended
the thirst of vengeance with the desire of gainhe hadat
leastobtained a command of the deepest attention of the
savage. The question put by Le Renard had been calmand
with all the dignity of an Indian; but it was quite
apparentby the thoughtful expression of the listener's
countenancethat the answer was most cunningly devised.
The Huron mused a few momentsand then laying his hand on
the rude bandages of his wounded shoulderhe saidwith
some energy:

Do friends make such marks?

Would 'La Longue Carbine' cut one so slight on an enemy?

Do the Delawares crawl upon those they love like snakes,
twisting themselves to strike?

Would 'Le Gros Serpent' have been heard by the ears of one
he wished to be deaf?

Does the white chief burn his powder in the faces of his
brothers?

Does he ever miss his aim, when seriously bent to kill?
returned Duncansmiling with well acted sincerity.

Another long and deliberate pause succeeded these
sententious questions and ready replies. Duncan saw that
the Indian hesitated. In order to complete his victoryhe
was in the act of recommencing the enumeration of the
rewardswhen Magua made an expressive gesture and said:

Enough; Le Renard is a wise chief, and what he does will be
seen. Go, and keep the mouth shut. When Magua speaks, it
will be the time to answer.

Heywardperceiving that the eyes of his companion were
warily fastened on the rest of the bandfell back
immediatelyin order to avoid the appearance of any
suspicious confederacy with their leader. Magua approached
the horsesand affected to be well pleased with the
diligence and ingenuity of his comrades. He then signed to
Heyward to assist the sisters into the saddlesfor he
seldom deigned to use the English tongueunless urged by
some motive of more than usual moment.

There was no longer any plausible pretext for delay; and
Duncan was obligedhowever reluctantlyto comply. As he
performed this officehe whispered his reviving hopes in
the ears of the trembling femaleswhothrough dread of
encountering the savage countenances of their captors
seldom raised their eyes from the ground. The mare of David
had been taken with the followers of the large chief; in
consequenceits owneras well as Duncanwas compelled to


journey on foot. The latter did nothoweverso much
regret this circumstanceas it might enable him to retard
the speed of the party; for he still turned his longing
looks in the direction of Fort Edwardin the vain
expectation of catching some sound from that quarter of the
forestwhich might denote the approach of succor. When all
were preparedMagua made the signal to proceedadvancing
in front to lead the party in person. Next followed David
who was gradually coming to a true sense of his condition
as the effects of the wound became less and less apparent.
The sisters rode in his rearwith Heyward at their side
while the Indians flanked the partyand brought up the
close of the marchwith a caution that seemed never to
tire.

In this manner they proceeded in uninterrupted silence
except when Heyward addressed some solitary word of comfort
to the femalesor David gave vent to the moanings of his
spiritin piteous exclamationswhich he intended should
express the humility of resignation. Their direction lay
toward the southand in a course nearly opposite to the
road to William Henry. Notwithstanding this apparent
adherence in Magua to the original determination of his
conquerorsHeyward could not believe his tempting bait was
so soon forgotten; and he knew the windings of an Indian's
path too well to suppose that its apparent course led
directly to its objectwhen artifice was at all necessary.
Mile after mile washoweverpassed through the boundless
woodsin this painful mannerwithout any prospect of a
termination to their journey. Heyward watched the sunas
he darted his meridian rays through the branches of the
treesand pined for the moment when the policy of Magua
should change their route to one more favorable to his
hopes. Sometimes he fancied the wary savagedespairing of
passing the army of Montcalm in safetywas holding his way
toward a well-known border settlementwhere a distinguished
officer of the crownand a favored friend of the Six
Nationsheld his large possessionsas well as his usual
residence. To be delivered into the hands of Sir William
Johnson was far preferable to being led into the wilds of
Canada; but in order to effect even the formerit would be
necessary to traverse the forest for many weary leagues
each step of which was carrying him further from the scene
of the warandconsequentlyfrom the postnot only of
honorbut of duty.

Cora alone remembered the parting injunctions of the scout
and whenever an opportunity offeredshe stretched forth her
arm to bend aside the twigs that met her hands. But the
vigilance of the Indians rendered this act of precaution
both difficult and dangerous. She was often defeated in her
purposeby encountering their watchful eyeswhen it became
necessary to feign an alarm she did not feeland occupy the
limb by some gesture of feminine apprehension. Onceand
once onlywas she completely successful; when she broke
down the bough of a large sumachand by a sudden thought
let her glove fall at the same instant. This signintended
for those that might followwas observed by one of her
conductorswho restored the glovebroke the remaining
branches of the bush in such a manner that it appeared to
proceed from the struggling of some beast in its branches
and then laid his hand on his tomahawkwith a look so
significantthat it put an effectual end to these stolen
memorials of their passage.


As there were horsesto leave the prints of their
footstepsin both bands of the Indiansthis interruption
cut off any probable hopes of assistance being conveyed
through the means of their trail.

Heyward would have ventured a remonstrance had there been
anything encouraging in the gloomy reserve of Magua. But
the savageduring all this timeseldom turned to look at
his followersand never spoke. With the sun for his only
guideor aided by such blind marks as are only known to the
sagacity of a nativehe held his way along the barrens of
pinethrough occasional little fertile valesacross brooks
and rivuletsand over undulating hillswith the accuracy
of instinctand nearly with the directness of a bird. He
never seemed to hesitate. Whether the path was hardly
distinguishablewhether it disappearedor whether it lay
beaten and plain before himmade no sensible difference in
his speed or certainty. It seemed as if fatigue could not
affect him. Whenever the eyes of the wearied travelers rose
from the decayed leaves over which they trodhis dark form
was to be seen glancing among the stems of the trees in
fronthis head immovably fastened in a forward position
with the light plume on his crest fluttering in a current of
airmade solely by the swiftness of his own motion.

But all this diligence and speed were not without an object.
After crossing a low valethrough which a gushing brook
meanderedhe suddenly ascended a hillso steep and
difficult of ascentthat the sisters were compelled to
alight in order to follow. When the summit was gainedthey
found themselves on a level spotbut thinly covered with
treesunder one of which Magua had thrown his dark formas
if willing and ready to seek that rest which was so much
needed by the whole party.

CHAPTER 11

Cursed be my tribe If I forgive him.--Shylock

The Indian had selected for this desirable purpose one of
those steeppyramidal hillswhich bear a strong
resemblance to artificial moundsand which so frequently
occur in the valleys of America. The one in question was
high and precipitous; its top flattenedas usual; but with
one of its sides more than ordinarily irregular. It
possessed no other apparent advantage for a resting place
than in its elevation and formwhich might render defense
easyand surprise nearly impossible. As Heywardhowever
no longer expected that rescue which time and distance now
rendered so improbablehe regarded these little
peculiarities with an eye devoid of interestdevoting
himself entirely to the comfort and condolence of his
feebler companions. The Narragansetts were suffered to
browse on the branches of the trees and shrubs that were
thinly scattered over the summit of the hillwhile the
remains of their provisions were spread under the shade of a
beechthat stretched its horizontal limbs like a canopy
above them.

Notwithstanding the swiftness of their flightone of the
Indians had found an opportunity to strike a straggling fawn


with an arrowand had borne the more preferable fragments
of the victimpatiently on his shouldersto the stopping
place. Without any aid from the science of cookeryhe was
immediately employedin common with his fellowsin gorging
himself with this digestible sustenance. Magua alone sat
apartwithout participating in the revolting mealand
apparently buried in the deepest thought.

This abstinenceso remarkable in an Indianwhen he
possessed the means of satisfying hungerat length
attracted the notice of Heyward. The young man willingly
believed that the Huron deliberated on the most eligible
manner of eluding the vigilance of his associates. With a
view to assist his plans by any suggestion of his ownand
to strengthen the temptationhe left the beechand
straggledas if without an objectto the spot where Le
Renard was seated.

Has not Magua kept the sun in his face long enough to
escape all danger from the Canadians?he askedas though
no longer doubtful of the good intelligence established
between them; "and will not the chief of William Henry be
better pleased to see his daughters before another night may
have hardened his heart to their lossto make him less
liberal in his reward?"

Do the pale faces love their children less in the morning
than at night?asked the Indiancoldly.

By no means,returned Heywardanxious to recall his
errorif he had made one; "the white man mayand does
oftenforget the burial place of his fathers; he sometimes
ceases to remember those he should loveand has promised to
cherish; but the affection of a parent for his child is
never permitted to die."

And is the heart of the white-headed chief soft, and will
he think of the babes that his squaws have given him? He is
hard on his warriors and his eyes are made of stone?

He is severe to the idle and wicked, but to the sober and
deserving he is a leader, both just and humane. I have
known many fond and tender parents, but never have I seen a
man whose heart was softer toward his child. You have seen
the gray-head in front of his warriors, Magua; but I have
seen his eyes swimming in water, when he spoke of those
children who are now in your power!

Heyward pausedfor he knew not how to construe the
remarkable expression that gleamed across the swarthy
features of the attentive Indian. At first it seemed as if
the remembrance of the promised reward grew vivid in his
mindwhile he listened to the sources of parental feeling
which were to assure its possession; butas Duncan
proceededthe expression of joy became so fiercely
malignant that it was impossible not to apprehend it
proceeded from some passion more sinister than avarice.

Go,said the Huronsuppressing the alarming exhibition in
an instantin a death-like calmness of countenance; "go to
the dark-haired daughterand say'Magua waits to speak'
The father will remember what the child promises."

Duncanwho interpreted this speech to express a wish for


some additional pledge that the promised gifts should not be
withheldslowly and reluctantly repaired to the place where
the sisters were now resting from their fatigueto
communicate its purport to Cora.

You understand the nature of an Indian's wishes,he
concludedas he led her toward the place where she was
expectedand must be prodigal of your offers of powder and
blankets. Ardent spirits are, however, the most prized by
such as he; nor would it be amiss to add some boon from your
own hand, with that grace you so well know how to practise.
Remember, Cora, that on your presence of mind and ingenuity,
even your life, as well as that of Alice, may in some
measure depend.

Heyward, and yours!

Mine is of little moment; it is already sold to my king,
and is a prize to be seized by any enemy who may possess the
power. I have no father to expect me, and but few friends
to lament a fate which I have courted with the insatiable
longings of youth after distinction. But hush! we approach
the Indian. Magua, the lady with whom you wish to speak, is
here.

The Indian rose slowly from his seatand stood for near a
minute silent and motionless. He then signed with his hand
for Heyward to retiresayingcoldly:

When the Huron talks to the women, his tribe shut their
ears.

Duncanstill lingeringas if refusing to complyCora
saidwith a calm smile:

You hear, Heyward, and delicacy at least should urge you to
retire. Go to Alice, and comfort her with our reviving
prospects.

She waited until he had departedand then turning to the
nativewith the dignity of her sex in her voice and manner
she added: "What would Le Renard say to the daughter of
Munro?"

Listen,said the Indianlaying his hand firmly upon her
armas if willing to draw her utmost attention to his
words; a movement that Cora as firmly but quietly repulsed
by extricating the limb from his grasp: "Magua was born a
chief and a warrior among the red Hurons of the lakes; he
saw the suns of twenty summers make the snows of twenty
winters run off in the streams before he saw a pale face;
and he was happy! Then his Canada fathers came into the
woodsand taught him to drink the fire-waterand he became
a rascal. The Hurons drove him from the graves of his
fathersas they would chase the hunted buffalo. He ran
down the shores of the lakesand followed their outlet to
the 'city of cannon' There he hunted and fishedtill the
people chased him again through the woods into the arms of
his enemies. The chiefwho was born a Huronwas at last a
warrior among the Mohawks!"

Something like this I had heard before,said Cora
observing that he paused to suppress those passions which
began to burn with too bright a flameas he recalled the


recollection of his supposed injuries.

Was it the fault of Le Renard that his head was not made of
rock? Who gave him the fire-water? who made him a villain?
'Twas the pale faces, the people of your own color.

And am I answerable that thoughtless and unprincipled men
exist, whose shades of countenance may resemble mine?Cora
calmly demanded of the excited savage.

No; Magua is a man, and not a fool; such as you never open
their lips to the burning stream: the Great Spirit has given
you wisdom!

What, then, have I do to, or say, in the matter of your
misfortunes, not to say of your errors?

Listen,repeated the Indianresuming his earnest
attitude; "when his English and French fathers dug up the
hatchetLe Renard struck the war-post of the Mohawksand
went out against his own nation. The pale faces have driven
the red-skins from their hunting groundsand now when they
fighta white man leads the way. The old chief at Horican
your fatherwas the great captain of our war-party. He
said to the Mohawks do thisand do thatand he was minded.
He made a lawthat if an Indian swallowed the fire-water
and came into the cloth wigwams of his warriorsit should
not be forgotten. Magua foolishly opened his mouthand the
hot liquor led him into the cabin of Munro. What did the
gray-head? let his daughter say."

He forgot not his words, and did justice, by punishing the
offender,said the undaunted daughter.

Justice!repeated the Indiancasting an oblique glance of
the most ferocious expression at her unyielding countenance;
is it justice to make evil and then punish for it? Magua
was not himself; it was the fire-water that spoke and acted
for him! but Munro did believe it. The Huron chief was tied
up before all the pale-faced warriors, and whipped like a
dog.

Cora remained silentfor she knew not how to palliate this
imprudent severity on the part of her father in a manner to
suit the comprehension of an Indian.

See!continued Maguatearing aside the slight calico that
very imperfectly concealed his painted breast; "here are
scars given by knives and bullets--of these a warrior may
boast before his nation; but the gray-head has left marks on
the back of the Huron chief that he must hide like a squaw
under this painted cloth of the whites."

I had thought,resumed Corathat an Indian warrior was
patient, and that his spirit felt not and knew not the pain
his body suffered.

When the Chippewas tied Magua to the stake, and cut this
gash,said the otherlaying his finger on a deep scar
the Huron laughed in their faces, and told them, Women
struck so light! His spirit was then in the clouds! But
when he felt the blows of Munro, his spirit lay under the
birch. The spirit of a Huron is never drunk; it remembers
forever!


But it may be appeased. If my father has done you this
injustice, show him how an Indian can forgive an injury, and
take back his daughters. You have heard from Major Heyward
--

Magua shook his headforbidding the repetition of offers he
so much despised.

What would you have?continued Coraafter a most painful
pausewhile the conviction forced itself on her mind that
the too sanguine and generous Duncan had been cruelly
deceived by the cunning of the savage.

What a Huron loves -- good for good; bad for bad!

You would, then, revenge the injury inflicted by Munro on
his helpless daughters. Would it not be more like a man to
go before his face, and take the satisfaction of a warrior?

The arms of the pale faces are long, and their knives
sharp!returned the savagewith a malignant laugh: "why
should Le Renard go among the muskets of his warriorswhen
he holds the spirit of the gray-head in his hand?"

Name your intention, Magua,said Corastruggling with
herself to speak with steady calmness. "Is it to lead us
prisoners to the woodsor do you contemplate even some
greater evil? Is there no rewardno means of palliating the
injuryand of softening your heart? At leastrelease my
gentle sisterand pour out all your malice on me. Purchase
wealth by her safety and satisfy your revenge with a single
victim. The loss of both his daughters might bring the aged
man to his graveand where would then be the satisfaction
of Le Renard?"

Listen,said the Indian again. "The light eyes can go
back to the Horicanand tell the old chief what has been
doneif the dark-haired woman will swear by the Great
Spirit of her fathers to tell no lie."

What must I promise?demanded Corastill maintaining a
secret ascendancy over the fierce native by the collected
and feminine dignity of her presence.

When Magua left his people his wife was given to another
chief; he has now made friends with the Hurons, and will go
back to the graves of his tribe, on the shores of the great
lake. Let the daughter of the English chief follow, and
live in his wigwam forever.

However revolting a proposal of such a character might prove
to Corashe retainednotwithstanding her powerful disgust
sufficient self-command to replywithout betraying the
weakness.

And what pleasure would Magua find in sharing his cabin
with a wife he did not love; one who would be of a nation
and color different from his own? It would be better to take
the gold of Munro, and buy the heart of some Huron maid with
his gifts.

The Indian made no reply for near a minutebut bent his
fierce looks on the countenance of Corain such wavering


glancesthat her eyes sank with shameunder an impression
that for the first time they had encountered an expression
that no chaste female might endure. While she was shrinking
within herselfin dread of having her ears wounded by some
proposal still more shocking than the lastthe voice of
Magua answeredin its tones of deepest malignancy:

When the blows scorched the back of the Huron, he would
know where to find a woman to feel the smart. The daughter
of Munro would draw his water, hoe his corn, and cook his
venison. The body of the gray-head would sleep among his
cannon, but his heart would lie within reach of the knife of
Le Subtil.

Monster! well dost thou deserve thy treacherous name,
cried Corain an ungovernable burst of filial indignation.
None but a fiend could meditate such a vengeance. But thou
overratest thy power! You shall find it is, in truth, the
heart of Munro you hold, and that it will defy your utmost
malice!

The Indian answered this bold defiance by a ghastly smile
that showed an unaltered purposewhile he motioned her
awayas if to close the conference forever. Coraalready
regretting her precipitationwas obliged to complyfor
Magua instantly left the spotand approached his gluttonous
comrades. Heyward flew to the side of the agitated female
and demanded the result of a dialogue that he had watched at
a distance with so much interest. Butunwilling to alarm
the fears of Aliceshe evaded a direct replybetraying
only by her anxious looks fastened on the slightest
movements of her captors. To the reiterated and earnest
questions of her sister concerning their probable
destinationshe made no other answer than by pointing
toward the dark groupwith an agitation she could not
controland murmuring as she folded Alice to her bosom.

There, there; read our fortunes in their faces; we shall
see; we shall see!

The actionand the choked utterance of Coraspoke more
impressively than any wordsand quickly drew the attention
of her companions on that spot where her own was riveted
with an intenseness that nothing but the importance of the
stake could create.

When Magua reached the cluster of lolling savageswho
gorged with their disgusting meallay stretched on the
earth in brutal indulgencehe commenced speaking with the
dignity of an Indian chief. The first syllables he uttered
had the effect to cause his listeners to raise themselves in
attitudes of respectful attention. As the Huron used his
native languagethe prisonersnotwithstanding the caution
of the natives had kept them within the swing of their
tomahawkscould only conjecture the substance of his
harangue from the nature of those significant gestures with
which an Indian always illustrates his eloquence.

At firstthe languageas well as the action of Magua
appeared calm and deliberative. When he had succeeded in
sufficiently awakening the attention of his comrades
Heyward fanciedby his pointing so frequently toward the
direction of the great lakesthat he spoke of the land of
their fathersand of their distant tribe. Frequent


indications of applause escaped the listenerswhoas they
uttered the expressive "Hugh!" looked at each other in
commendation of the speaker. Le Renard was too skillful to
neglect his advantage. He now spoke of the long and painful
route by which they had left those spacious grounds and
happy villagesto come and battle against the enemies of
their Canadian fathers. He enumerated the warriors of the
party; their several merits; their frequent services to the
nation; their woundsand the number of the scalps they had
taken. Whenever he alluded to any present (and the subtle
Indian neglected none)the dark countenance of the
flattered individual gleamed with exultationnor did he
even hesitate to assert the truth of the wordsby gestures
of applause and confirmation. Then the voice of the speaker
felland lost the loudanimated tones of triumph with
which he had enumerated their deeds of success and victory.
He described the cataract of Glenn's; the impregnable
position of its rocky islandwith its caverns and its
numerous rapids and whirlpools; he named the name of "La
Longue Carabine and paused until the forest beneath them
had sent up the last echo of a loud and long yell, with
which the hated appellation was received. He pointed toward
the youthful military captive, and described the death of a
favorite warrior, who had been precipitated into the deep
ravine by his hand. He not only mentioned the fate of him
who, hanging between heaven and earth, had presented such a
spectacle of horror to the whole band, but he acted anew the
terrors of his situation, his resolution and his death, on
the branches of a sapling; and, finally, he rapidly
recounted the manner in which each of their friends had
fallen, never failing to touch upon their courage, and their
most acknowledged virtues. When this recital of events was
ended, his voice once more changed, and became plaintive and
even musical, in its low guttural sounds. He now spoke of
the wives and children of the slain; their destitution;
their misery, both physical and moral; their distance; and,
at last, of their unavenged wrongs. Then suddenly lifting
his voice to a pitch of terrific energy, he concluded by
demanding:

Are the Hurons dogs to bear this? Who shall say to the wife
of Menowgua that the fishes have his scalpand that his
nation have not taken revenge! Who will dare meet the
mother of Wassawattimiethat scornful womanwith his hands
clean! What shall be said to the old men when they ask us
for scalpsand we have not a hair from a white head to give
them! The women will point their fingers at us. There is a
dark spot on the names of the Huronsand it must be hid in
blood!" His voice was no longer audible in the burst of
rage which now broke into the airas if the woodinstead
of containing so small a bandwas filled with the nation.
During the foregoing address the progress of the speaker was
too plainly read by those most interested in his success
through the medium of the countenances of the men he
addressed. They had answered his melancholy and mourning by
sympathy and sorrow; his assertionsby gestures of
confirmation; and his boastingwith the exultation of
savages. When he spoke of couragetheir looks were firm
and responsive; when he alluded to their injuriestheir
eyes kindled with fury; when he mentioned the taunts of the
womenthey dropped their heads in shame; but when he
pointed out their means of vengeancehe struck a chord
which never failed to thrill in the breast of an Indian.
With the first intimation that it was within their reach


the whole band sprang upon their feet as one man; giving
utterance to their rage in the most frantic criesthey
rushed upon their prisoners in a body with drawn knives and
uplifted tomahawks. Heyward threw himself between the
sisters and the foremostwhom he grappled with a desperate
strength that for a moment checked his violence. This
unexpected resistance gave Magua time to interposeand with
rapid enunciation and animated gesturehe drew the
attention of the band again to himself. In that language he
knew so well how to assumehe diverted his comrades from
their instant purposeand invited them to prolong the
misery of their victims. His proposal was received with
acclamationsand executed with the swiftness of thought.

Two powerful warriors cast themselves on Heywardwhile
another was occupied in securing the less active singing-master.
Neither of the captiveshoweversubmitted without a
desperatethough fruitlessstruggle. Even David hurled
his assailant to the earth; nor was Heyward secured until
the victory over his companion enabled the Indians to direct
their united force to that object. He was then bound and
fastened to the body of the saplingon whose branches Magua
had acted the pantomime of the falling Huron. When the
young soldier regained his recollectionhe had the painful
certainty before his eyes that a common fate was intended
for the whole party. On his right was Cora in a durance
similar to his ownpale and agitatedbut with an eye whose
steady look still read the proceedings of their enemies. On
his leftthe withes which bound her to a pineperformed
that office for Alice which her trembling limbs refusedand
alone kept her fragile form from sinking. Her hands were
clasped before her in prayerbut instead of looking upward
toward that power which alone could rescue themher
unconscious looks wandered to the countenance of Duncan with
infantile dependency. David had contendedand the novelty
of the circumstance held him silentin deliberation on the
propriety of the unusual occurrence.

The vengeance of the Hurons had now taken a new direction
and they prepared to execute it with that barbarous
ingenuity with which they were familiarized by the practise
of centuries. Some sought knotsto raise the blazing pile;
one was riving the splinters of pinein order to pierce the
flesh of their captives with the burning fragments; and
others bent the tops of two saplings to the earthin order
to suspend Heyward by the arms between the recoiling
branches. But the vengeance of Magua sought a deeper and
more malignant enjoyment.

While the less refined monsters of the band preparedbefore
the eyes of those who were to sufferthese well-known and
vulgar means of torturehe approached Coraand pointed
outwith the most malign expression of countenancethe
speedy fate that awaited her:

Ha!he addedwhat says the daughter of Munro? Her head
is too good to find a pillow in the wigwam of Le Renard;
will she like it better when it rolls about this hill a
plaything for the wolves? Her bosom cannot nurse the
children of a Huron; she will see it spit upon by Indians!

What means the monster!demanded the astonished Heyward.

Nothing!was the firm reply. "He is a savagea barbarous


and ignorant savageand knows not what he does. Let us
find leisurewith our dying breathto ask for him
penitence and pardon."

Pardon!echoed the fierce Huronmistaking in his anger
the meaning of her words; "the memory of an Indian is no
longer than the arm of the pale faces; his mercy shorter
than their justice! Say; shall I send the yellow hair to
her fatherand will you follow Magua to the great lakesto
carry his waterand feed him with corn?"

Cora beckoned him awaywith an emotion of disgust she could
not control.

Leave me,she saidwith a solemnity that for a moment
checked the barbarity of the Indian; "you mingle bitterness
in my prayers; you stand between me and my God!"

The slight impression produced on the savage washowever
soon forgottenand he continued pointingwith taunting
ironytoward Alice.

Look! the child weeps! She is too young to die! Send her
to Munro, to comb his gray hairs, and keep life in the heart
of the old man.

Cora could not resist the desire to look upon her youthful
sisterin whose eyes she met an imploring glancethat
betrayed the longings of nature.

What says he, dearest Cora?asked the trembling voice of
Alice. "Did he speak of sending me to our father?"

For many moments the elder sister looked upon the younger
with a countenance that wavered with powerful and contending
emotions. At length she spokethough her tones had lost
their rich and calm fullnessin an expression of tenderness
that seemed maternal.

Alice,she saidthe Huron offers us both life, nay, more
than both; he offers to restore Duncan, our invaluable
Duncan, as well as you, to our friends -- to our father -to
our heart-stricken, childless father, if I will bow down
this rebellious, stubborn pride of mine, and consent --

Her voice became chokedand clasping her handsshe looked
upwardas if seekingin her agonyintelligence from a
wisdom that was infinite.

Say on,cried Alice; "to whatdearest Cora? Oh! that the
proffer were made to me! to save youto cheer our aged
fatherto restore Duncanhow cheerfully could I die!"

Die!repeated Corawith a calmer and firmer voicethat
were easy! Perhaps the alternative may not be less so. He
would have me,she continuedher accents sinking under a
deep consciousness of the degradation of the proposal
follow him to the wilderness; go to the habitations of the
Hurons; to remain there; in short, to become his wife!
Speak, then, Alice; child of my affections! sister of my
love! And you, too, Major Heyward, aid my weak reason with
your counsel. Is life to be purchased by such a sacrifice?
Will you, Alice, receive it at my hands at such a price?
And you, Duncan, guide me; control me between you; for I am


wholly yours!

Would I!echoed the indignant and astonished youth.
Cora! Cora! you jest with our misery! Name not the horrid
alternative again; the thought itself is worse than a
thousand deaths.

That such would be your answer, I well knew!exclaimed
Coraher cheeks flushingand her dark eyes once more
sparkling with the lingering emotions of a woman. "What
says my Alice? for her will I submit without another
murmur."

Although both Heyward and Cora listened with painful
suspense and the deepest attentionno sounds were heard in
reply. It appeared as if the delicate and sensitive form of
Alice would shrink into itselfas she listened to this
proposal. Her arms had fallen lengthwise before herthe
fingers moving in slight convulsions; her head dropped upon
her bosomand her whole person seemed suspended against the
treelooking like some beautiful emblem of the wounded
delicacy of her sexdevoid of animation and yet keenly
conscious. In a few momentshoweverher head began to
move slowlyin a sign of deepunconquerable
disapprobation.

No, no, no; better that we die as we have lived, together!

Then die!shouted Maguahurling his tomahawk with
violence at the unresisting speakerand gnashing his teeth
with a rage that could no longer be bridled at this sudden
exhibition of firmness in the one he believed the weakest of
the party. The axe cleaved the air in front of Heywardand
cutting some of the flowing ringlets of Alicequivered in
the tree above her head. The sight maddened Duncan to
desperation. Collecting all his energies in one effort he
snapped the twigs which bound him and rushed upon another
savagewho was preparingwith loud yells and a more
deliberate aimto repeat the blow. They encountered
grappledand fell to the earth together. The naked body of
his antagonist afforded Heyward no means of holding his
adversarywho glided from his graspand rose again with
one knee on his chestpressing him down with the weight of
a giant. Duncan already saw the knife gleaming in the air
when a whistling sound swept past himand was rather
accompanied than followed by the sharp crack of a rifle. He
felt his breast relieved from the load it had endured; he
saw the savage expression of his adversary's countenance
change to a look of vacant wildnesswhen the Indian fell
dead on the faded leaves by his side.

CHAPTER 12

Clo.--I am gone, sire, And anon, sire, I'll be with you
again.--Twelfth Night

The Hurons stood aghast at this sudden visitation of death
on one of their band. But as they regarded the fatal
accuracy of an aim which had dared to immolate an enemy at
so much hazard to a friendthe name of "La Longue Carabine"
burst simultaneously from every lipand was succeeded by a
wild and a sort of plaintive howl. The cry was answered by


a loud shout from a little thicketwhere the incautious
party had piled their arms; and at the next momentHawkeye
too eager to load the rifle he had regainedwas seen
advancing upon thembrandishing the clubbed weaponand
cutting the air with wide and powerful sweeps. Bold and
rapid as was the progress of the scoutit was exceeded by
that of a light and vigorous form whichbounding past him
leapedwith incredible activity and daringinto the very
center of the Huronswhere it stoodwhirling a tomahawk
and flourishing a glittering knifewith fearful menacesin
front of Cora. Quicker than the thoughts could follow those
unexpected and audacious movementsan imagearmed in the
emblematic panoply of deathglided before their eyesand
assumed a threatening attitude at the other's side. The
savage tormentors recoiled before these warlike intruders
and utteredas they appeared in such quick successionthe
often repeated and peculiar exclamations of surprise
followed by the well-known and dreaded appellations of:

Le Cerf Agile! Le Gros Serpent!

But the wary and vigilant leader of the Hurons was not so
easily disconcerted. Casting his keen eyes around the
little plainhe comprehended the nature of the assault at a
glanceand encouraging his followers by his voice as well
as by his examplehe unsheathed his long and dangerous
knifeand rushed with a loud whoop upon the expected
Chingachgook. It was the signal for a general combat.
Neither party had firearmsand the contest was to be
decided in the deadliest mannerhand to handwith weapons
of offenseand none of defense.

Uncas answered the whoopand leaping on an enemywith a
singlewell-directed blow of his tomahawkcleft him to the
brain. Heyward tore the weapon of Magua from the sapling
and rushed eagerly toward the fray. As the combatants were
now equal in numbereach singled an opponent from the
adverse band. The rush and blows passed with the fury of a
whirlwindand the swiftness of lightning. Hawkeye soon got
another enemy within reach of his armand with one sweep of
his formidable weapon he beat down the slight and
inartificial defenses of his antagonistcrushing him to the
earth with the blow. Heyward ventured to hurl the tomahawk
he had seizedtoo ardent to await the moment of closing.
It struck the Indian he had selected on the foreheadand
checked for an instant his onward rush. Encouraged by this
slight advantagethe impetuous young man continued his
onsetand sprang upon his enemy with naked hands. A single
instant was enough to assure him of the rashness of the
measurefor he immediately found himself fully engaged
with all his activity and couragein endeavoring to ward
the desperate thrusts made with the knife of the Huron.
Unable longer to foil an enemy so alert and vigilanthe
threw his arms about himand succeeded in pinning the limbs
of the other to his sidewith an iron graspbut one that
was far too exhausting to himself to continue long. In this
extremity he heard a voice near himshouting:

Extarminate the varlets! no quarter to an accursed Mingo!

At the next momentthe breech of Hawkeye's rifle fell on
the naked head of his adversarywhose muscles appeared to
wither under the shockas he sank from the arms of Duncan
flexible and motionless.


When Uncas had brained his first antagonisthe turnedlike
a hungry lionto seek another. The fifth and only Huron
disengaged at the first onset had paused a momentand then
seeing that all around him were employed in the deadly
strifehe had soughtwith hellish vengeanceto complete
the baffled work of revenge. Raising a shout of triumphhe
sprang toward the defenseless Corasending his keen axe as
the dreadful precursor of his approach. The tomahawk grazed
her shoulderand cutting the withes which bound her to the
treeleft the maiden at liberty to fly. She eluded the
grasp of the savageand reckless of her own safetythrew
herself on the bosom of Alicestriving with convulsed and
ill-directed fingersto tear asunder the twigs which
confined the person of her sister. Any other than a monster
would have relented at such an act of generous devotion to
the best and purest affection; but the breast of the Huron
was a stranger to sympathy. Seizing Cora by the rich
tresses which fell in confusion about her formhe tore her
from her frantic holdand bowed her down with brutal
violence to her knees. The savage drew the flowing curls
through his handand raising them on high with an
outstretched armhe passed the knife around the exquisitely
molded head of his victimwith a taunting and exulting
laugh. But he purchased this moment of fierce gratification
with the loss of the fatal opportunity. It was just then
the sight caught the eye of Uncas. Bounding from his
footsteps he appeared for an instant darting through the air
and descending in a ball he fell on the chest of his enemy
driving him many yards from the spotheadlong and
prostrate. The violence of the exertion cast the young
Mohican at his side. They arose togetherfoughtand bled
each in his turn. But the conflict was soon decided; the
tomahawk of Heyward and the rifle of Hawkeye descended on
the skull of the Huronat the same moment that the knife of
Uncas reached his heart.

The battle was now entirely terminated with the exception of
the protracted struggle between "Le Renard Subtil" and "Le
Gros Serpent." Well did these barbarous warriors prove that
they deserved those significant names which had been
bestowed for deeds in former wars. When they engagedsome
little time was lost in eluding the quick and vigorous
thrusts which had been aimed at their lives. Suddenly
darting on each otherthey closedand came to the earth
twisted together like twining serpentsin pliant and subtle
folds. At the moment when the victors found themselves
unoccupiedthe spot where these experienced and desperate
combatants lay could only be distinguished by a cloud of
dust and leaveswhich moved from the center of the little
plain toward its boundaryas if raised by the passage of a
whirlwind. Urged by the different motives of filial
affectionfriendship and gratitudeHeyward and his
companions rushed with one accord to the placeencircling
the little canopy of dust which hung above the warriors. In
vain did Uncas dart around the cloudwith a wish to strike
his knife into the heart of his father's foe; the
threatening rifle of Hawkeye was raised and suspended in
vainwhile Duncan endeavored to seize the limbs of the
Huron with hands that appeared to have lost their power.
Covered as they were with dust and bloodthe swift
evolutions of the combatants seemed to incorporate their
bodies into one. The death-like looking figure of the
Mohicanand the dark form of the Hurongleamed before


their eyes in such quick and confused successionthat the
friends of the former knew not where to plant the succoring
blow. It is true there were short and fleeting moments
when the fiery eyes of Magua were seen glitteringlike the
fabled organs of the basilisk through the dusty wreath by
which he was envelopedand he read by those short and
deadly glances the fate of the combat in the presence of his
enemies; erehoweverany hostile hand could descend on his
devoted headits place was filled by the scowling visage of
Chingachgook. In this manner the scene of the combat was
removed from the center of the little plain to its verge.
The Mohican now found an opportunity to make a powerful
thrust with his knife; Magua suddenly relinquished his
graspand fell backward without motionand seemingly
without life. His adversary leaped on his feetmaking the
arches of the forest ring with the sounds of triumph.

Well done for the Delawares! victory to the Mohicans!
cried Hawkeyeonce more elevating the butt of the long and
fatal rifle; "a finishing blow from a man without a cross
will never tell against his honornor rob him of his right
to the scalp."

But at the very moment when the dangerous weapon was in the
act of descendingthe subtle Huron rolled swiftly from
beneath the dangerover the edge of the precipiceand
falling on his feetwas seen leapingwith a single bound
into the center of a thicket of low busheswhich clung
along its sides. The Delawareswho had believed their
enemy deaduttered their exclamation of surpriseand were
following with speed and clamorlike hounds in open view of
the deerwhen a shrill and peculiar cry from the scout
instantly changed their purposeand recalled them to the
summit of the hill.

'Twas like himself!cried the inveterate foresterwhose
prejudices contributed so largely to veil his natural sense
of justice in all matters which concerned the Mingoes; "a
lying and deceitful varlet as he is. An honest Delaware
nowbeing fairly vanquishedwould have lain stilland
been knocked on the headbut these knavish Maquas cling to
life like so many cats-o'-the-mountain. Let him go -- let
him go; 'tis but one manand he without rifle or bowmany
a long mile from his French commerades; and like a rattler
that lost his fangshe can do no further mischiefuntil
such time as heand we toomay leave the prints of our
moccasins over a long reach of sandy plain. SeeUncas he
added, in Delaware, your father is flaying the scalps
already. It may be well to go round and feel the vagabonds
that are leftor we may have another of them loping through
the woodsand screeching like a jay that has been winged."

So saying the honest but implacable scout made the circuit
of the deadinto whose senseless bosoms he thrust his long
knifewith as much coolness as though they had been so many
brute carcasses. He hadhoweverbeen anticipated by the
elder Mohicanwho had already torn the emblems of victory
from the unresisting heads of the slain.

But Uncasdenying his habitswe had almost said his
natureflew with instinctive delicacyaccompanied by
Heywardto the assistance of the femalesand quickly
releasing Aliceplaced her in the arms of Cora. We shall
not attempt to describe the gratitude to the Almighty


Disposer of Events which glowed in the bosoms of the
sisterswho were thus unexpectedly restored to life and to
each other. Their thanksgivings were deep and silent; the
offerings of their gentle spirits burning brightest and
purest on the secret altars of their hearts; and their
renovated and more earthly feelings exhibiting themselves in
long and fervent though speechless caresses. As Alice rose
from her kneeswhere she had sunk by the side of Corashe
threw herself on the bosom of the latterand sobbed aloud
the name of their aged fatherwhile her softdove-like
eyessparkled with the rays of hope.

We are saved! we are saved!she murmured; "to return to
the arms of our deardear fatherand his heart will not be
broken with grief. And youtooCoramy sistermy more
than sistermy mother; youtooare spared. And Duncan
she added, looking round upon the youth with a smile of
ineffable innocence, even our own brave and noble Duncan
has escaped without a hurt."

To these ardent and nearly innocent words Cora made no other
answer than by straining the youthful speaker to her heart
as she bent over her in melting tenderness. The manhood of
Heyward felt no shame in dropping tears over this spectacle of
affectionate rapture; and Uncas stoodfresh and blood-stained
from the combata calmandapparentlyan unmoved
looker-onit is truebut with eyes that had already lost
their fiercenessand were beaming with a sympathy that
elevated him far above the intelligenceand advanced him
probably centuries beforethe practises of his nation.

During this display of emotions so natural in their
situationHawkeyewhose vigilant distrust had satisfied
itself that the Huronswho disfigured the heavenly scene
no longer possessed the power to interrupt its harmony
approached Davidand liberated him from the bonds he had
until that momentendured with the most exemplary patience.

There,exclaimed the scoutcasting the last withe behind
himyou are once more master of your own limbs, though you
seem not to use them with much greater judgment than that in
which they were first fashioned. If advice from one who is
not older than yourself, but who, having lived most of his
time in the wilderness, may be said to have experience
beyond his years, will give no offense, you are welcome to
my thoughts; and these are, to part with the little tooting
instrument in your jacket to the first fool you meet with,
and buy some we'pon with the money, if it be only the barrel
of a horseman's pistol. By industry and care, you might
thus come to some prefarment; for by this time, I should
think, your eyes would plainly tell you that a carrion crow
is a better bird than a mocking-thresher. The one will, at
least, remove foul sights from before the face of man, while
the other is only good to brew disturbances in the woods, by
cheating the ears of all that hear them.

Arms and the clarion for the battle, but the song of
thanksgiving to the victory!answered the liberated David.
Friend,he addedthrusting forth his leandelicate hand
toward Hawkeyein kindnesswhile his eyes twinkled and
grew moistI thank thee that the hairs of my head still
grow where they were first rooted by Providence; for, though
those of other men may be more glossy and curling, I have
ever found mine own well suited to the brain they shelter.


That I did not join myself to the battle, was less owing to
disinclination, than to the bonds of the heathen. Valiant
and skillful hast thou proved thyself in the conflict, and I
hereby thank thee, before proceeding to discharge other and
more important duties, because thou hast proved thyself well
worthy of a Christian's praise.

The thing is but a trifle, and what you may often see if
you tarry long among us,returned the scouta good deal
softened toward the man of songby this unequivocal
expression of gratitude. "I have got back my old companion
'killdeer' he added, striking his hand on the breech of
his rifle; and that in itself is a victory. These Iroquois
are cunningbut they outwitted themselves when they placed
their firearms out of reach; and had Uncas or his father
been gifted with only their common Indian patiencewe
should have come in upon the knaves with three bullets
instead of oneand that would have made a finish of the
whole pack; yon loping varletas well as his commerades.
But 'twas all fore-orderedand for the best."

Thou sayest well,returned Davidand hast caught the
true spirit of Christianity. He that is to be saved will be
saved, and he that is predestined to be damned will be
damned. This is the doctrine of truth, and most consoling
and refreshing it is to the true believer.

The scoutwho by this time was seatedexamining into the
state of his rifle with a species of parental assiduitynow
looked up at the other in a displeasure that he did not
affect to concealroughly interrupting further speech.

Doctrine or no doctrine,said the sturdy woodsman'tis
the belief of knaves, and the curse of an honest man. I can
credit that yonder Huron was to fall by my hand, for with my
own eyes I have seen it; but nothing short of being a
witness will cause me to think he has met with any reward,
or that Chingachgook there will be condemned at the final
day.

You have no warranty for such an audacious doctrine, nor
any covenant to support it,cried David who was deeply
tinctured with the subtle distinctions whichin his time
and more especially in his provincehad been drawn around
the beautiful simplicity of revelationby endeavoring to
penetrate the awful mystery of the divine naturesupplying
faith by self-sufficiencyand by consequenceinvolving
those who reasoned from such human dogmas in absurdities and
doubt; "your temple is reared on the sandsand the first
tempest will wash away its foundation. I demand your
authorities for such an uncharitable assertion (like other
advocates of a systemDavid was not always accurate in his
use of terms). Name chapter and verse; in which of the holy
books do you find language to support you?"

Book!repeated Hawkeyewith singular and ill-concealed
disdain; "do you take me for a whimpering boy at the
apronstring of one of your old gals; and this good rifle on
my knee for the feather of a goose's wingmy ox's horn for
a bottle of inkand my leathern pouch for a cross-barred
handkercher to carry my dinner? Book! what have such as I
who am a warrior of the wildernessthough a man without a
crossto do with books? I never read but in oneand the
words that are written there are too simple and too plain to


need much schooling; though I may boast that of forty long
and hard-working years."

What call you the volume?said Davidmisconceiving the
other's meaning.

'Tis open before your eyes,returned the scout; "and he
who owns it is not a niggard of its use. I have heard it
said that there are men who read in books to convince
themselves there is a God. I know not but man may so deform
his works in the settlementas to leave that which is so
clear in the wilderness a matter of doubt among traders and
priests. If any such there beand he will follow me from
sun to sunthrough the windings of the foresthe shall see
enough to teach him that he is a fooland that the greatest
of his folly lies in striving to rise to the level of One he
can never equalbe it in goodnessor be it in power."

The instant David discovered that he battled with a
disputant who imbibed his faith from the lights of nature
eschewing all subtleties of doctrinehe willingly abandoned
a controversy from which he believed neither profit nor
credit was to be derived. While the scout was speakinghe
had also seated himselfand producing the ready little
volume and the iron-rimmed spectacleshe prepared to
discharge a dutywhich nothing but the unexpected assault
he had received in his orthodoxy could have so long
suspended. He wasin trutha minstrel of the western
continent -- of a much later daycertainlythan those
gifted bardswho formerly sang the profane renown of baron
and princebut after the spirit of his own age and country;
and he was now prepared to exercise the cunning of his
craftin celebration ofor rather in thanksgiving forthe
recent victory. He waited patiently for Hawkeye to cease
then lifting his eyestogether with his voicehe said
aloud:

I invite you, friends, to join in praise for this signal
deliverance from the hands of barbarians and infidels, to the
comfortable and solemn tones of the tune called 'Northampton'.

He next named the page and verse where the rhymes selected
were to be foundand applied the pitch-pipe to his lips
with the decent gravity that he had been wont to use in the
temple. This time he washoweverwithout any
accompanimentfor the sisters were just then pouring out
those tender effusions of affection which have been already
alluded to. Nothing deterred by the smallness of his
audiencewhichin truthconsisted only of the
discontented scouthe raised his voicecommencing and
ending the sacred song without accident or interruption of
any kind.

Hawkeye listened while he coolly adjusted his flint and
reloaded his rifle; but the soundswanting the extraneous
assistance of scene and sympathyfailed to awaken his
slumbering emotions. Never minstrelor by whatever more
suitable name David should be knowndrew upon his talents
in the presence of more insensible auditors; though
considering the singleness and sincerity of his motiveit
is probable that no bard of profane song ever uttered notes
that ascended so near to that throne where all homage and
praise is due. The scout shook his headand muttering some
unintelligible wordsamong which "throat" and "Iroquois"


were alone audiblehe walked awayto collect and to
examine into the state of the captured arsenal of the
Hurons. In this office he was now joined by Chingachgook
who found his ownas well as the rifle of his sonamong
the arms. Even Heyward and David were furnished with
weapons; nor was ammunition wanting to render them all
effectual.

When the foresters had made their selectionand distributed
their prizesthe scout announced that the hour had arrived
when it was necessary to move. By this time the song of
Gamut had ceasedand the sisters had learned to still the
exhibition of their emotions. Aided by Duncan and the
younger Mohicanthe two latter descended the precipitous
sides of that hill which they had so lately ascended under
so very different auspicesand whose summit had so nearly
proved the scene of their massacre. At the foot they found
the Narragansetts browsing the herbage of the bushesand
having mountedthey followed the movements of a guidewho
in the most deadly straitshad so often proved himself
their friend. The journey washowevershort. Hawkeye
leaving the blind path that the Hurons had followedturned
short to his rightand entering the thickethe crossed a
babbling brookand halted in a narrow dellunder the shade
of a few water elms. Their distance from the base of the
fatal hill was but a few rodsand the steeds had been
serviceable only in crossing the shallow stream.

The scout and the Indians appeared to be familiar with the
sequestered place where they now were; forleaning their
rifle against the treesthey commenced throwing aside the
dried leavesand opening the blue clayout of which a
clear and sparkling spring of brightglancing water
quickly bubbled. The white man then looked about himas
though seeking for some objectwhich was not to be found as
readily as he expected.

Them careless imps, the Mohawks, with their Tuscarora and
Onondaga brethren, have been here slaking their thirst,he
mutteredand the vagabonds have thrown away the gourd!
This is the way with benefits, when they are bestowed on
such disremembering hounds! Here has the Lord laid his
hand, in the midst of the howling wilderness, for their
good, and raised a fountain of water from the bowels of the
'arth, that might laugh at the richest shop of apothecary's
ware in all the colonies; and see! the knaves have trodden
in the clay, and deformed the cleanliness of the place, as
though they were brute beasts, instead of human men.

Uncas silently extended toward him the desired gourdwhich
the spleen of Hawkeye had hitherto prevented him from
observing on a branch of an elm. Filling it with waterhe
retired a short distanceto a place where the ground was
more firm and dry; here he coolly seated himselfand after
taking a longandapparentlya grateful draughthe
commenced a very strict examination of the fragments of food
left by the Huronswhich had hung in a wallet on his arm.

Thank you, lad!he continuedreturning the empty gourd to
Uncas; "now we will see how these rampaging Hurons lived
when outlying in ambushments. Look at this! The varlets
know the better pieces of the deer; and one would think they
might carve and roast a saddleequal to the best cook in
the land! But everything is rawfor the Iroquois are


thorough savages. Uncastake my steel and kindle a fire; a
mouthful of a tender broil will give natur' a helping hand
after so long a trail."

Heywardperceiving that their guides now set about their
repast in sober earnestassisted the ladies to alightand
placed himself at their sidenot unwilling to enjoy a few
moments of grateful restafter the bloody scene he had just
gone through. While the culinary process was in hand
curiosity induced him to inquire into the circumstances
which had led to their timely and unexpected rescue:

How is it that we see you so soon, my generous friend,he
askedand without aid from the garrison of Edward?

Had we gone to the bend in the river, we might have been in
time to rake the leaves over your bodies, but too late to
have saved your scalps,coolly answered the scout. "No
no; instead of throwing away strength and opportunity by
crossing to the fortwe lay byunder the bank of the
Hudsonwaiting to watch the movements of the Hurons."

You were, then, witnesses of all that passed?

Not of all; for Indian sight is too keen to be easily
cheated, and we kept close. A difficult matter it was, too,
to keep this Mohican boy snug in the ambushment. Ah! Uncas,
Uncas, your behavior was more like that of a curious woman
than of a warrior on his scent.

Uncas permitted his eyes to turn for an instant on the
sturdy countenance of the speakerbut he neither spoke nor
gave any indication of repentance. On the contraryHeyward
thought the manner of the young Mohican was disdainfulif
not a little fierceand that he suppressed passions that
were ready to explodeas much in compliment to the
listenersas from the deference he usually paid to his
white associate.

You saw our capture?Heyward next demanded.

We heard it,was the significant answer. "An Indian yell
is plain language to men who have passed their days in the
woods. But when you landedwe were driven to crawl like
sarpentsbeneath the leaves; and then we lost sight of you
entirelyuntil we placed eyes on you again trussed to the
treesand ready bound for an Indian massacre."

Our rescue was the deed of Providence. It was nearly a
miracle that you did not mistake the path, for the Hurons
divided, and each band had its horses.

Ay! there we were thrown off the scent, and might, indeed,
have lost the trail, had it not been for Uncas; we took the
path, however, that led into the wilderness; for we judged,
and judged rightly, that the savages would hold that course
with their prisoners. But when we had followed it for many
miles, without finding a single twig broken, as I had
advised, my mind misgave me; especially as all the footsteps
had the prints of moccasins.

Our captors had the precaution to see us shod like
themselves,said Duncanraising a footand exhibiting the
buckskin he wore.


Aye, 'twas judgmatical and like themselves; though we were
too expart to be thrown from a trail by so common an
invention.

To what, then, are we indebted for our safety?

To what, as a white man who has no taint of Indian blood, I
should be ashamed to own; to the judgment of the young
Mohican, in matters which I should know better than he, but
which I can now hardly believe to be true, though my own
eyes tell me it is so.

'Tis extraordinary! will you not name the reason?

Uncas was bold enough to say, that the beasts ridden by the
gentle ones,continued Hawkeyeglancing his eyesnot
without curious intereston the fillies of the ladies
planted the legs of one side on the ground at the same
time, which is contrary to the movements of all trotting
four-footed animals of my knowledge, except the bear. And
yet here are horses that always journey in this manner, as
my own eyes have seen, and as their trail has shown for
twenty long miles.

'Tis the merit of the animal! They come from the shores of
Narrangansett Bay, in the small province of Providence
Plantations, and are celebrated for their hardihood, and the
ease of this peculiar movement; though other horses are not
unfrequently trained to the same.

It may be--it may be,said Hawkeyewho had listened
with singular attention to this explanation; "though I am a
man who has the full blood of the whitesmy judgment in
deer and beaver is greater than in beasts of burden. Major
Effingham has many noble chargersbut I have never seen one
travel after such a sidling gait."

True; for he would value the animals for very different
properties. Still is this a breed highly esteemed and, as
you witness, much honored with the burdens it is often
destined to bear.

The Mohicans had suspended their operations about the
glimmering fire to listen; andwhen Duncan had donethey
looked at each other significantlythe father uttering the
never-failing exclamation of surprise. The scout ruminated
like a man digesting his newly-acquired knowledgeand once
more stole a glance at the horses.

I dare to say there are even stranger sights to be seen in
the settlements!he saidat length. "Natur' is sadly abused
by manwhen he once gets the mastery. Butgo sidling or
go straightUncas had seen the movementand their trail
led us on to the broken bush. The outer branchnear the
prints of one of the horseswas bent upwardas a lady
breaks a flower from its stembut all the rest were ragged
and broken downas if the strong hand of a man had been
tearing them! So I concluded that the cunning varments had
seen the twig bentand had torn the restto make us
believe a buck had been feeling the boughs with his
antlers."

I do believe your sagacity did not deceive you; for some


such thing occurred!

That was easy to see,added the scoutin no degree
conscious of having exhibited any extraordinary sagacity;
and a very different matter it was from a waddling horse!
It then struck me the Mingoes would push for this spring,
for the knaves well know the vartue of its waters!

Is it, then, so famous?demanded Heywardexaminingwith
a more curious eyethe secluded dellwith its bubbling
fountainsurroundedas it wasby earth of a deepdingy
brown.

Few red-skins, who travel south and east of the great lakes
but have heard of its qualities. Will you taste for
yourself?

Heyward took the gourdand after swallowing a little of the
waterthrew it aside with grimaces of discontent. The
scout laughed in his silent but heartfelt mannerand shook
his head with vast satisfaction.

Ah! you want the flavor that one gets by habit; the time
was when I liked it as little as yourself; but I have come
to my taste, and I now crave it, as a deer does the licks*.
Your high-spiced wines are not better liked than a red-skin
relishes this water; especially when his natur' is ailing.
But Uncas has made his fire, and it is time we think of
eating, for our journey is long, and all before us.

* Many of the animals of the American forests resort
to those spots where salt springs are found. These are
called "licks" or "salt licks in the language of the
country, from the circumstance that the quadruped is often
obliged to lick the earth, in order to obtain the saline
particles. These licks are great places of resort with the
hunters, who waylay their game near the paths that lead to
them.
Interrupting the dialogue by this abrupt transition, the
scout had instant recourse to the fragments of food which
had escaped the voracity of the Hurons. A very summary
process completed the simple cookery, when he and the
Mohicans commenced their humble meal, with the silence and
characteristic diligence of men who ate in order to enable
themselves to endure great and unremitting toil.

When this necessary, and, happily, grateful duty had been
performed, each of the foresters stooped and took a long and
parting draught at that solitary and silent spring*, around
which and its sister fountains, within fifty years, the
wealth, beauty and talents of a hemisphere were to assemble
in throngs, in pursuit of health and pleasure. Then Hawkeye
announced his determination to proceed. The sisters resumed
their saddles; Duncan and David grapsed their rifles, and
followed on footsteps; the scout leading the advance, and
the Mohicans bringing up the rear. The whole party moved
swiftly through the narrow path, toward the north, leaving
the healing waters to mingle unheeded with the adjacent
brooks and the bodies of the dead to fester on the
neighboring mount, without the rites of sepulture; a fate
but too common to the warriors of the woods to excite either
commiseration or comment.


* The scene of the foregoing incidents is on the spot
where the village of Ballston now stands; one of the two
principal watering places of America.
CHAPTER 13

I'll seek a readier path."--Parnell

The route taken by Hawkeye lay across those sandy plains
relived by occasional valleys and swells of landwhich had
been traversed by their party on the morning of the same
daywith the baffled Magua for their guide. The sun had
now fallen low toward the distant mountains; and as their
journey lay through the interminable forestthe heat was no
longer oppressive. Their progressin consequencewas
proportionate; and long before the twilight gathered about
themthey had made good many toilsome miles on their
return.

The hunterlike the savage whose place he filledseemed to
select among the blind signs of their wild routewith a
species of instinctseldom abating his speedand never
pausing to deliberate. A rapid and oblique glance at the
moss on the treeswith an occasional upward gaze toward the
setting sunor a steady but passing look at the direction
of the numerous water coursesthrough which he wadedwere
sufficient to determine his pathand remove his greatest
difficulties. In the meantimethe forest began to change
its hueslosing that lively green which had embellished its
archesin the graver light which is the usual precursor of
the close of day.

While the eyes of the sisters were endeavoring to catch
glimpses through the treesof the flood of golden glory
which formed a glittering halo around the suntinging here
and there with ruby streaksor bordering with narrow
edgings of shining yellowa mass of clouds that lay piled
at no great distance above the western hillsHawkeye turned
suddenly and pointing upward toward the gorgeous heavenshe
spoke:

Yonder is the signal given to man to seek his food and
natural rest,he said; "better and wiser would it beif he
could understand the signs of natureand take a lesson from
the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field! Our
nighthoweverwill soon be overfor with the moon we must
be up and moving again. I remember to have fou't the
Maquashereawaysin the first war in which I ever drew
blood from man; and we threw up a work of blocksto keep
the ravenous varmints from handling our scalps. If my marks
do not fail mewe shall find the place a few rods further
to our left."

Without waiting for an assentorindeedfor any reply
the sturdy hunter moved boldly into a dense thicket of young
chestnutsshoving aside the branches of the exuberant
shoots which nearly covered the groundlike a man who
expectedat each stepto discover some object he had
formerly known. The recollection of the scout did not
deceive him. After penetrating through the brushmatted as
it was with briarsfor a few hundred feethe entered an
open spacethat surrounded a lowgreen hillockwhich was


crowned by the decayed blockhouse in question. This rude
and neglected building was one of those deserted works
whichhaving been thrown up on an emergencyhad been
abandoned with the disappearance of dangerand was now
quietly crumbling in the solitude of the forestneglected
and nearly forgottenlike the circumstances which had
caused it to be reared. Such memorials of the passage and
struggles of man are yet frequent throughout the broad
barrier of wilderness which once separated the hostile
provincesand form a species of ruins that are intimately
associated with the recollections of colonial historyand
which are in appropriate keeping with the gloomy character
of the surrounding scenery. The roof of bark had long since
fallenand mingled with the soilbut the huge logs of
pinewhich had been hastily thrown togetherstill
preserved their relative positionsthough one angle of the
work had given way under the pressureand threatened a
speedy downfall to the remainder of the rustic edifice.
While Heyward and his companions hesitated to approach a
building so decayedHawkeye and the Indians entered within
the low wallsnot only without fearbut with obvious
interest. While the former surveyed the ruinsboth
internally and externallywith the curiosity of one whose
recollections were reviving at each momentChingachgook
related to his sonin the language of the Delawaresand
with the pride of a conquerorthe brief history of the
skirmish which had been foughtin his youthin that
secluded spot. A strain of melancholyhoweverblended
with his triumphrendering his voiceas usualsoft and
musical.

In the meantimethe sisters gladly dismountedand prepared
to enjoy their halt in the coolness of the eveningand in a
security which they believed nothing but the beasts of the
forest could invade.

Would not our resting-place have been more retired, my
worthy friend,demanded the more vigilant Duncan
perceiving that the scout had already finished his short
surveyhad we chosen a spot less known, and one more
rarely visited than this?

Few live who know the blockhouse was ever raised,was the
slow and musing answer; "'tis not often that books are made
and narratives written of such a scrimmage as was here fou't
atween the Mohicans and the Mohawksin a war of their own
waging. I was then a younkerand went out with the
Delawaresbecause I know'd they were a scandalized and
wronged race. Forty days and forty nights did the imps
crave our blood around this pile of logswhich I designed
and partly rearedbeingas you'll rememberno Indian
myselfbut a man without a cross. The Delawares lent
themselves to the workand we made it goodten to twenty
until our numbers were nearly equaland then we sallied out
upon the houndsand not a man of them ever got back to tell
the fate of his party. Yesyes; I was then youngand new
to the sight of blood; and not relishing the thought that
creatures who had spirits like myself should lay on the
naked groundto be torn asunder by beastsor to bleach in
the rainsI buried the dead with my own handsunder that
very little hillock where you have placed yourselves; and no
bad seat does it make neitherthough it be raised by the
bones of mortal men."


Heyward and the sisters aroseon the instantfrom the
grassy sepulcher; nor could the two latternotwithstanding
the terrific scenes they had so recently passed through
entirely suppress an emotion of natural horrorwhen they
found themselves in such familiar contact with the grave of
the dead Mohawks. The gray lightthe gloomy little area of
dark grasssurrounded by its border of brushbeyond which
the pines rosein breathing silenceapparently into the
very cloudsand the deathlike stillness of the vast forest
were all in unison to deepen such a sensation. "They are
goneand they are harmless continued Hawkeye, waving his
hand, with a melancholy smile at their manifest alarm;
they'll never shout the war-whoop nor strike a blow with
the tomahawk again! And of all those who aided in placing
them where they lieChingachgook and I only are living!
The brothers and family of the Mohican formed our war party;
and you see before you all that are now left of his race."

The eyes of the listeners involuntarily sought the forms of
the Indianswith a compassionate interest in their desolate
fortune. Their dark persons were still to be seen within
the shadows of the blockhousethe son listening to the
relation of his father with that sort of intenseness which
would be created by a narrative that redounded so much to
the honor of those whose names he had long revered for their
courage and savage virtues.

I had thought the Delawares a pacific people,said Duncan
and that they never waged war in person; trusting the
defense of their hands to those very Mohawks that you slew!

'Tis true in part,returned the scoutand yet, at the
bottom, 'tis a wicked lie. Such a treaty was made in ages
gone by, through the deviltries of the Dutchers, who wished
to disarm the natives that had the best right to the
country, where they had settled themselves. The Mohicans,
though a part of the same nation, having to deal with the
English, never entered into the silly bargain, but kept to
their manhood; as in truth did the Delawares, when their
eyes were open to their folly. You see before you a chief
of the great Mohican Sagamores! Once his family could chase
their deer over tracts of country wider than that which
belongs to the Albany Patteroon, without crossing brook or
hill that was not their own; but what is left of their
descendant? He may find his six feet of earth when God
chooses, and keep it in peace, perhaps, if he has a friend
who will take the pains to sink his head so low that the
plowshares cannot reach it!

Enough!said Heywardapprehensive that the subject might
lead to a discussion that would interrupt the harmony so
necessary to the preservation of his fair companions; "we
have journeyed farand few among us are blessed with forms
like that of yourswhich seems to know neither fatigue nor
weakness."

The sinews and bones of a man carry me through it all,
said the huntersurveying his muscular limbs with a
simplicity that betrayed the honest pleasure the compliment
afforded him; "there are larger and heavier men to be found
in the settlementsbut you might travel many days in a city
before you could meet one able to walk fifty miles without
stopping to take breathor who has kept the hounds within
hearing during a chase of hours. Howeveras flesh and


blood are not always the sameit is quite reasonable to
suppose that the gentle ones are willing to restafter all
they have seen and done this day. Uncasclear out the
springwhile your father and I make a cover for their
tender heads of these chestnut shootsand a bed of grass
and leaves."

The dialogue ceasedwhile the hunter and his companions
busied themselves in preparations for the comfort and
protection of those they guided. A springwhich many long
years before had induced the natives to select the place for
their temporary fortificationwas soon cleared of leaves
and a fountain of crystal gushed from the beddiffusing its
waters over the verdant hillock. A corner of the building
was then roofed in such a manner as to exclude the heavy dew
of the climateand piles of sweet shrubs and dried leaves
were laid beneath it for the sisters to repose on.

While the diligent woodsmen were employed in this manner
Cora and Alice partook of that refreshment which duty
required much more than inclination prompted them to accept.
They then retired within the wallsand first offering up
their thanksgivings for past merciesand petitioning for a
continuance of the Divine favor throughout the coming night
they laid their tender forms on the fragrant couchand in
spite of recollections and forebodingssoon sank into those
slumbers which nature so imperiously demandedand which
were sweetened by hopes for the morrow. Duncan had prepared
himself to pass the night in watchfulness near themjust
without the ruinbut the scoutperceiving his intention
pointed toward Chingachgookas he coolly disposed his own
person on the grassand said:

The eyes of a white man are too heavy and too blind for
such a watch as this! The Mohican will be our sentinel,
therefore let us sleep.

I proved myself a sluggard on my post during the past
night,said Heywardand have less need of repose than
you, who did more credit to the character of a soldier. Let
all the party seek their rest, then, while I hold the
guard.

If we lay among the white tents of the Sixtieth, and in
front of an enemy like the French, I could not ask for a
better watchman,returned the scout; "but in the darkness
and among the signs of the wilderness your judgment would be
like the folly of a childand your vigilance thrown away.
Do thenlike Uncas and myselfsleepand sleep in safety."

Heyward perceivedin truththat the younger Indian had
thrown his form on the side of the hillock while they were
talkinglike one who sought to make the most of the time
allotted to restand that his example had been followed by
Davidwhose voice literally "clove to his jaws with the
fever of his wound, heightened, as it was, by their toilsome
march. Unwilling to prolong a useless discussion, the young
man affected to comply, by posting his back against the logs
of the blockhouse, in a half recumbent posture, though
resolutely determined, in his own mind, not to close an eye
until he had delivered his precious charge into the arms of
Munro himself. Hawkeye, believing he had prevailed, soon
fell asleep, and a silence as deep as the solitude in which
they had found it, pervaded the retired spot.


For many minutes Duncan succeeded in keeping his senses on
the alert, and alive to every moaning sound that arose from
the forest. His vision became more acute as the shades of
evening settled on the place; and even after the stars were
glimmering above his head, he was able to distinguish the
recumbent forms of his companions, as they lay stretched on
the grass, and to note the person of Chingachgook, who sat
upright and motionless as one of the trees which formed the
dark barrier on every side. He still heard the gentle
breathings of the sisters, who lay within a few feet of him,
and not a leaf was ruffled by the passing air of which his
ear did not detect the whispering sound. At length,
however, the mournful notes of a whip-poor-will became
blended with the moanings of an owl; his heavy eyes
occasionally sought the bright rays of the stars, and he
then fancied he saw them through the fallen lids. At
instants of momentary wakefulness he mistook a bush for his
associate sentinel; his head next sank upon his shoulder,
which, in its turn, sought the support of the ground; and,
finally, his whole person became relaxed and pliant, and the
young man sank into a deep sleep, dreaming that he was a
knight of ancient chivalry, holding his midnight vigils
before the tent of a recaptured princess, whose favor he did
not despair of gaining, by such a proof of devotion and
watchfulness.

How long the tired Duncan lay in this insensible state he
never knew himself, but his slumbering visions had been long
lost in total forgetfulness, when he was awakened by a light
tap on the shoulder. Aroused by this signal, slight as it
was, he sprang upon his feet with a confused recollection of
the self-imposed duty he had assumed with the commencement
of the night.

Who comes?" he demandedfeeling for his swordat the
place where it was usually suspended. "Speak! friend or
enemy?"

Friend,replied the low voice of Chingachgook; who
pointing upward at the luminary which was shedding its mild
light through the opening in the treesdirectly in their
bivouacimmediately addedin his rude English: "Moon comes
and white man's fort far -- far off; time to movewhen
sleep shuts both eyes of the Frenchman!"

You say true! Call up your friends, and bridle the horses
while I prepare my own companions for the march!

We are awake, Duncan,said the softsilvery tones of
Alice within the buildingand ready to travel very fast
after so refreshing a sleep; but you have watched through
the tedious night in our behalf, after having endured so
much fatigue the livelong day!

Say, rather, I would have watched, but my treacherous eyes
betrayed me; twice have I proved myself unfit for the trust
I bear.

Nay, Duncan, deny it not,interrupted the smiling Alice
issuing from the shadows of the building into the light of
the moonin all the loveliness of her freshened beauty; "I
know you to be a heedless onewhen self is the object of
your careand but too vigilant in favor of others. Can we


not tarry here a little longer while you find the rest you
need? Cheerfullymost cheerfullywill Cora and I keep the
vigilswhile you and all these brave men endeavor to snatch
a little sleep!"

If shame could cure me of my drowsiness, I should never
close an eye again,said the uneasy youthgazing at the
ingenuous countenance of Alicewherehoweverin its sweet
solicitudehe read nothing to confirm his half-awakened
suspicion. "It is but too truethat after leading you into
danger by my heedlessnessI have not even the merit of
guarding your pillows as should become a soldier."

No one but Duncan himself should accuse Duncan of such a
weakness. Go, then, and sleep; believe me, neither of us,
weak girls as we are, will betray our watch.

The young man was relieved from the awkwardness of making
any further protestations of his own demeritsby an
exclamation from Chingachgookand the attitude of riveted
attention assumed by his son.

The Mohicans hear an enemy!whispered Hawkeyewhoby
this timein common with the whole partywas awake and
stirring. "They scent danger in the wind!"

God forbid!exclaimed Heyward. "Surely we have had enough
of bloodshed!"

While he spokehoweverthe young soldier seized his rifle
and advancing toward the frontprepared to atone for his
venial remissnessby freely exposing his life in defense of
those he attended.

'Tis some creature of the forest prowling around us in
quest of food,he saidin a whisperas soon as the low
and apparently distant soundswhich had startled the
Mohicansreached his own ears.

Hist!returned the attentive scout; "'tis man; even I can
now tell his treadpoor as my senses are when compared to
an Indian's! That Scampering Huron has fallen in with one
of Montcalm's outlying partiesand they have struck upon
our trail. I shouldn't likemyselfto spill more human
blood in this spot he added, looking around with anxiety
in his features, at the dim objects by which he was
surrounded; but what must bemust! Lead the horses into
the blockhouseUncas; andfriendsdo you follow to the
same shelter. Poor and old as it isit offers a coverand
has rung with the crack of a rifle afore to-night!"

He was instantly obeyedthe Mohicans leading the
Narrangansetts within the ruinwhither the whole party
repaired with the most guarded silence.

The sound of approaching footsteps were now too distinctly
audible to leave any doubts as to the nature of the
interruption. They were soon mingled with voices calling to
each other in an Indian dialectwhich the hunterin a
whisperaffirmed to Heyward was the language of the Hurons.
When the party reached the point where the horses had
entered the thicket which surrounded the blockhousethey
were evidently at faulthaving lost those marks which
until that momenthad directed their pursuit.


It would seem by the voices that twenty men were soon
collected at that one spotmingling their different
opinions and advice in noisy clamor.

The knaves know our weakness,whispered Hawkeyewho stood
by the side of Heywardin deep shadelooking through an
opening in the logsor they wouldn't indulge their
idleness in such a squaw's march. Listen to the reptiles!
each man among them seems to have two tongues, and but a
single leg.

Duncanbrave as he was in the combatcould notin such a
moment of painful suspensemake any reply to the cool and
characteristic remark of the scout. He only grasped his
rifle more firmlyand fastened his eyes upon the narrow
openingthrough which he gazed upon the moonlight view with
increasing anxiety. The deeper tones of one who spoke as
having authority were next heardamid a silence that
denoted the respect with which his ordersor rather advice
was received. After whichby the rustling of leavesand
crackling of dried twigsit was apparent the savages were
separating in pursuit of the lost trail. Fortunately for
the pursuedthe light of the moonwhile it shed a flood of
mild luster upon the little area around the ruinwas not
sufficiently strong to penetrate the deep arches of the
forestwhere the objects still lay in deceptive shadow.
The search proved fruitless; for so short and sudden had
been the passage from the faint path the travelers had
journeyed into the thicketthat every trace of their
footsteps was lost in the obscurity of the woods.

It was not longhoweverbefore the restless savages were
heard beating the brushand gradually approaching the inner
edge of that dense border of young chestnuts which encircled
the little area.

They are coming,muttered Heywardendeavoring to thrust
his rifle through the chink in the logs; "let us fire on
their approach."

Keep everything in the shade,returned the scout; "the
snapping of a flintor even the smell of a single karnel of the
brimstonewould bring the hungry varlets upon us in a body.
Should it please God that we must give battle for the scalps
trust to the experience of men who know the ways of the savages
and who are not often backward when the war-whoop is howled."

Duncan cast his eyes behind himand saw that the trembling
sisters were cowering in the far corner of the building
while the Mohicans stood in the shadowlike two upright
postsreadyand apparently willingto strike when the
blow should be needed. Curbing his impatiencehe again
looked out upon the areaand awaited the result in silence.
At that instant the thicket openedand a tall and armed
Huron advanced a few paces into the open space. As he gazed
upon the silent blockhousethe moon fell upon his swarthy
countenanceand betrayed its surprise and curiosity. He
made the exclamation which usually accompanies the former
emotion in an Indianandcalling in a low voicesoon drew
a companion to his side.

These children of the woods stood together for several
moments pointing at the crumbling edificeand conversing in


the unintelligible language of their tribe. They then
approachedthough with slow and cautious stepspausing
every instant to look at the buildinglike startled deer
whose curiosity struggled powerfully with their awakened
apprehensions for the mastery. The foot of one of them
suddenly rested on the moundand he stopped to examine its
nature. At this momentHeyward observed that the scout
loosened his knife in its sheathand lowered the muzzle of
his rifle. Imitating these movementsthe young man
prepared himself for the struggle which now seemed
inevitable.

The savages were so nearthat the least motion in one of
the horsesor even a breath louder than commonwould have
betrayed the fugitives. But in discovering the character of
the moundthe attention of the Hurons appeared directed to
a different object. They spoke togetherand the sounds of
their voices were low and solemnas if influenced by a
reverence that was deeply blended with awe. Then they drew
warily backkeeping their eyes riveted on the ruinas if
they expected to see the apparitions of the dead issue from
its silent wallsuntilhaving reached the boundary of the
areathey moved slowly into the thicket and disappeared.

Hawkeye dropped the breech of his rifle to the earthand
drawing a longfree breathexclaimedin an audible
whisper:

Ay! they respect the dead, and it has this time saved their
own lives, and, it may be, the lives of better men too.

Heyward lent his attention for a single moment to his
companionbut without replyinghe again turned toward
those who just then interested him more. He heard the two
Hurons leave the bushesand it was soon plain that all the
pursuers were gathered about themin deep attention to
their report. After a few minutes of earnest and solemn
dialoguealtogether different from the noisy clamor with
which they had first collected about the spotthe sounds
grew fainter and more distantand finally were lost in the
depths of the forest.

Hawkeye waited until a signal from the listening
Chingachgook assured him that every sound from the retiring
party was completely swallowed by the distancewhen he
motioned to Heyward to lead forth the horsesand to assist
the sisters into their saddles. The instant this was done
they issued through the broken gatewayand stealing out by
a direction opposite to the one by which they enteredthey
quitted the spotthe sisters casting furtive glances at the
silentgrave and crumbling ruinas they left the soft
light of the moonto bury themselves in the gloom of the
woods.

CHAPTER 14

Guard.--Qui est la? Puc.--Paisans, pauvres gens de
France.--King Henry VI

During the rapid movement from the blockhouseand until the
party was deeply buried in the foresteach individual was
too much interested in the escape to hazard a word even in


whispers. The scout resumed his post in advancethough his
stepsafter he had thrown a safe distance between himself
and his enemieswere more deliberate than in their previous
marchin consequence of his utter ignorance of the
localities of the surrounding woods. More than once he
halted to consult with his confederatesthe Mohicans
pointing upward at the moonand examining the barks of the
trees with care. In these brief pausesHeyward and the
sisters listenedwith senses rendered doubly acute by the
dangerto detect any symptoms which might announce the
proximity of their foes. At such momentsit seemed as if a
vast range of country lay buried in eternal sleep; not the
least sound arising from the forestunless it was the
distant and scarcely audible rippling of a water-course.
Birdsbeastsand manappeared to slumber alikeif
indeedany of the latter were to be found in that wide
tract of wilderness. But the sounds of the rivuletfeeble
and murmuring as they wererelieved the guides at once from
no trifling embarrassmentand toward it they immediately
held their way.

When the banks of the little stream were gainedHawkeye
made another halt; and taking the moccasins from his feet
he invited Heyward and Gamut to follow his example. He then
entered the waterand for near an hour they traveled in the
bed of the brookleaving no trail. The moon had already
sunk into an immense pile of black cloudswhich lay
impending above the western horizonwhen they issued from
the low and devious water-course to rise again to the light
and level of the sandy but wooded plain. Here the scout
seemed to be once more at homefor he held on this way with
the certainty and diligence of a man who moved in the
security of his own knowledge. The path soon became more
unevenand the travelers could plainly perceive that the
mountains drew nigher to them on each handand that they
werein truthabout entering one of their gorges.
SuddenlyHawkeye made a pauseandwaiting until he was
joined by the whole partyhe spokethough in tones so low
and cautiousthat they added to the solemnity of his words
in the quiet and darkness of the place.

It is easy to know the pathways, and to find the licks and
water-courses of the wilderness,he said; "but who that saw
this spot could venture to saythat a mighty army was at
rest among yonder silent trees and barren mountains?"

We are, then, at no great distance from William Henry?
said Heywardadvancing nigher to the scout.

It is yet a long and weary path, and when and where to
strike it is now our greatest difficulty. See,he said
pointing through the trees toward a spot where a little
basin of water reflected the stars from its placid bosom
here is the 'bloody pond'; and I am on ground that I have
not only often traveled, but over which I have fou't the
enemy, from the rising to the setting sun.

Ha! that sheet of dull and dreary water, then, is the
sepulcher of the brave men who fell in the contest. I have
heard it named, but never have I stood on its banks before.

Three battles did we make with the Dutch-Frenchman* in a
day,continued Hawkeyepursuing the train of his own
thoughtsrather than replying to the remark of Duncan. "He


met us hard byin our outward march to ambush his advance
and scattered uslike driven deerthrough the defileto
the shores of Horican. Then we rallied behind our fallen
treesand made head against himunder Sir William--who
was made Sir William for that very deed; and well did we pay
him for the disgrace of the morning! Hundreds of Frenchmen
saw the sun that day for the last time; and even their
leaderDieskau himselffell into our handsso cut and
torn with the leadthat he has gone back to his own
countryunfit for further acts in war."

* Baron Dieskaua Germanin the service of France.
A few years previously to the period of the talethis
officer was defeated by Sir William Johnsonof Johnstown
New Yorkon the shores of Lake George.
'Twas a noble repulse!exclaimed Heywardin the heat of
his youthful ardor; "the fame of it reached us earlyin our
southern army."

Ay! but it did not end there. I was sent by Major
Effingham, at Sir William's own bidding, to outflank the
French, and carry the tidings of their disaster across the
portage, to the fort on the Hudson. Just hereaway, where
you see the trees rise into a mountain swell, I met a party
coming down to our aid, and I led them where the enemy were
taking their meal, little dreaming that they had not
finished the bloody work of the day.

And you surprised them?

If death can be a surprise to men who are thinking only of
the cravings of their appetites. We gave them but little
breathing time, for they had borne hard upon us in the fight
of the morning, and there were few in our party who had not
lost friend or relative by their hands.

When all was over, the dead, and some say the dying, were
cast into that little pond. These eyes have seen its waters
colored with blood, as natural water never yet flowed from
the bowels of the 'arth.

It was a convenient, and, I trust, will prove a peaceful
grave for a soldier. You have then seen much service on
this frontier?

Ay!said the scouterecting his tall person with an air
of military pride; "there are not many echoes among these
hills that haven't rung with the crack of my riflenor is
there the space of a square mile atwixt Horican and the
riverthat 'killdeer' hasn't dropped a living body onbe
it an enemy or be it a brute beast. As for the grave there
being as quiet as you mentionit is another matter. There
are them in the camp who say and thinkmanto lie still
should not be buried while the breath is in the body; and
certain it is that in the hurry of that eveningthe doctors
had but little time to say who was living and who was dead.
Hist! see you nothing walking on the shore of the pond?"

'Tis not probable that any are as houseless as ourselves in
this dreary forest.

Such as he may care but little for house or shelter, and
night dew can never wet a body that passes its days in the


water,returned the scoutgrasping the shoulder of Heyward
with such convulsive strength as to make the young soldier
painfully sensible how much superstitious terror had got the
mastery of a man usually so dauntless.

By heaven, there is a human form, and it approaches! Stand
to your arms, my friends; for we know not whom we
encounter.

Qui vive?demanded a sternquick voicewhich sounded
like a challenge from another worldissuing out of that
solitary and solemn place.

What says it?whispered the scout; "it speaks neither
Indian nor English."

Qui vive?repeated the same voicewhich was quickly
followed by the rattling of armsand a menacing attitude.

France!cried Heywardadvancing from the shadow of the
trees to the shore of the pondwithin a few yards of the
sentinel.

D'ou venez-vous--ou allez-vous, d'aussi bonne heure?
demanded the grenadierin the language and with the accent
of a man from old France.

Je viens de la decouverte, et je vais me coucher.

Etes-vous officier du roi?

Sans doute, mon camarade; me prends-tu pour un provincial!
Je suis capitaine de chasseurs (Heyward well knew that the
other was of a regiment in the line); j'ai ici, avec moi,
les filles du commandant de la fortification. Aha! tu en as
entendu parler! je les ai fait prisonnieres pres de l'autre
fort, et je les conduis au general.

Ma foi! mesdames; j'en suis fÉche pour vous,exclaimed the
young soldiertouching his cap with grace; "mais -- fortune
de guerre! vous trouverez notre general un brave hommeet
bien poli avec les dames."

C'est le caractere des gens de guerre,said Corawith
admirable self-possession. "Adieumon ami; je vous
souhaiterais un devoir plus agreable a remplir."

The soldier made a low and humble acknowledgment for her
civility; and Heyward adding a "Bonne nuitmon camarade
they moved deliberately forward, leaving the sentinel pacing
the banks of the silent pond, little suspecting an enemy of
so much effrontery, and humming to himself those words which
were recalled to his mind by the sight of women, and,
perhaps, by recollections of his own distant and beautiful
France: Vive le vinvive l'amour etc., etc.

'Tis well you understood the knave!" whispered the scout
when they had gained a little distance from the placeand
letting his rifle fall into the hollow of his arm again; "I
soon saw that he was one of them uneasy Frenchers; and well
for him it was that his speech was friendly and his wishes
kindor a place might have been found for his bones among
those of his countrymen."


He was interrupted by a long and heavy groan which arose
from the little basinas thoughin truththe spirits of
the departed lingered about their watery sepulcher.


Surely it was of flesh,continued the scout; "no spirit
could handle its arms so steadily."


It was of flesh; but whether the poor fellow still belongs
to this world may well be doubted,said Heywardglancing
his eyes around himand missing Chingachgook from their
little band. Another groan more faint than the former was
succeeded by a heavy and sullen plunge into the waterand
all was still again as if the borders of the dreary pool had
never been awakened from the silence of creation. While
they yet hesitated in uncertaintythe form of the Indian
was seen gliding out of the thicket. As the chief rejoined
themwith one hand he attached the reeking scalp of the
unfortunate young Frenchman to his girdleand with the
other he replaced the knife and tomahawk that had drunk his
blood. He then took his wonted stationwith the air of a
man who believed he had done a deed of merit.


The scout dropped one end of his rifle to the earthand
leaning his hands on the otherhe stood musing in profound
silence. Thenshaking his head in a mournful mannerhe
muttered:


'Twould have been a cruel and an unhuman act for a white-skin;
but 'tis the gift and natur' of an Indian, and I suppose it
should not be denied. I could wish, though, it had befallen an
accursed Mingo, rather than that gay young boy from the old countries.


Enough!said Heywardapprehensive the unconscious sisters
might comprehend the nature of the detentionand conquering
his disgust by a train of reflections very much like that of
the hunter; "'tis done; and though better it were left
undonecannot be amended. You seewe aretoo obviously
within the sentinels of the enemy; what course do you
propose to follow?"


Yes,said Hawkeyerousing himself again; "'tis as you
saytoo late to harbor further thoughts about it. Aythe
French have gathered around the fort in good earnest and we
have a delicate needle to thread in passing them."


And but little time to do it in,added Heywardglancing
his eyes upwardstoward the bank of vapor that concealed
the setting moon.


And little time to do it in!repeated the scout. "The
thing may be done in two fashionsby the help of
Providencewithout which it may not be done at all."


Name them quickly for time presses.


One would be to dismount the gentle ones, and let their
beasts range the plain, by sending the Mohicans in front, we
might then cut a lane through their sentries, and enter the
fort over the dead bodies.


It will not do -- it will not do!interrupted the generous
Heyward; "a soldier might force his way in this mannerbut
never with such a convoy."



'Twould be, indeed, a bloody path for such tender feet to
wade in,returned the equally reluctant scout; "but I
thought it befitting my manhood to name it. We mustthen
turn in our trail and get without the line of their
lookoutswhen we will bend short to the westand enter the
mountains; where I can hide youso that all the devil's
hounds in Montcalm's pay would be thrown off the scent for
months to come."

Let it be done, and that instantly.

Further words were unnecessary; for Hawkeyemerely uttering
the mandate to "follow moved along the route by which they
had just entered their present critical and even dangerous
situation. Their progress, like their late dialogue, was
guarded, and without noise; for none knew at what moment a
passing patrol, or a crouching picket of the enemy, might
rise upon their path. As they held their silent way along
the margin of the pond, again Heyward and the scout stole
furtive glances at its appalling dreariness. They looked in
vain for the form they had so recently seen stalking along
in silent shores, while a low and regular wash of the little
waves, by announcing that the waters were not yet subsided,
furnished a frightful memorial of the deed of blood they had
just witnessed. Like all that passing and gloomy scene, the
low basin, however, quickly melted in the darkness, and
became blended with the mass of black objects in the rear of
the travelers.

Hawkeye soon deviated from the line of their retreat, and
striking off towards the mountains which form the western
boundary of the narrow plain, he led his followers, with
swift steps, deep within the shadows that were cast from
their high and broken summits. The route was now painful;
lying over ground ragged with rocks, and intersected with
ravines, and their progress proportionately slow. Bleak and
black hills lay on every side of them, compensating in some
degree for the additional toil of the march by the sense of
security they imparted. At length the party began slowly to
rise a steep and rugged ascent, by a path that curiously
wound among rocks and trees, avoiding the one and supported
by the other, in a manner that showed it had been devised by
men long practised in the arts of the wilderness. As they
gradually rose from the level of the valleys, the thick
darkness which usually precedes the approach of day began to
disperse, and objects were seen in the plain and palpable
colors with which they had been gifted by nature. When they
issued from the stunted woods which clung to the barren
sides of the mountain, upon a flat and mossy rock that
formed its summit, they met the morning, as it came blushing
above the green pines of a hill that lay on the opposite
side of the valley of the Horican.

The scout now told the sisters to dismount; and taking the
bridles from the mouths, and the saddles off the backs of
the jaded beasts, he turned them loose, to glean a scanty
subsistence among the shrubs and meager herbage of that
elevated region.

Go he said, and seek your food where natur' gives it to
you; and beware that you become not food to ravenous wolves
yourselvesamong these hills."

Have we no further need of them?demanded Heyward.


See, and judge with your own eyes,said the scout
advancing toward the eastern brow of the mountainwhither
he beckoned for the whole party to follow; "if it was as
easy to look into the heart of man as it is to spy out the
nakedness of Montcalm's camp from this spothypocrites
would grow scarceand the cunning of a Mingo might prove a
losing gamecompared to the honesty of a Delaware."

When the travelers reached the verge of the precipices they
sawat a glancethe truth of the scout's declarationand
the admirable foresight with which he had led them to their
commanding station.

The mountain on which they stoodelevated perhaps a
thousand feet in the airwas a high cone that rose a little
in advance of that range which stretches for miles along the
western shores of the lakeuntil meeting its sisters miles
beyond the waterit ran off toward the Canadasin confused
and broken masses of rockthinly sprinkled with evergreens.
Immediately at the feet of the partythe southern shore of
the Horican swept in a broad semicircle from mountain to
mountainmarking a wide strandthat soon rose into an
uneven and somewhat elevated plain. To the north stretched
the limpidandas it appeared from that dizzy heightthe
narrow sheet of the "holy lake indented with numberless
bays, embellished by fantastic headlands, and dotted with
countless islands. At the distance of a few leagues, the
bed of the water became lost among mountains, or was wrapped
in the masses of vapor that came slowly rolling along their
bosom, before a light morning air. But a narrow opening
between the crests of the hills pointed out the passage by
which they found their way still further north, to spread
their pure and ample sheets again, before pouring out their
tribute into the distant Champlain. To the south stretched
the defile, or rather broken plain, so often mentioned. For
several miles in this direction, the mountains appeared
reluctant to yield their dominion, but within reach of the
eye they diverged, and finally melted into the level and
sandy lands, across which we have accompanied our
adventurers in their double journey. Along both ranges of
hills, which bounded the opposite sides of the lake and
valley, clouds of light vapor were rising in spiral wreaths
from the uninhabited woods, looking like the smoke of hidden
cottages; or rolled lazily down the declivities, to mingle
with the fogs of the lower land. A single, solitary, snow-white
cloud floated above the valley, and marked the spot beneath
which lay the silent pool of the bloody pond."

Directly on the shore of the lakeand nearer to its western
than to its eastern marginlay the extensive earthen
ramparts and low buildings of William Henry. Two of the
sweeping bastions appeared to rest on the water which washed
their baseswhile a deep ditch and extensive morasses
guarded its other sides and angles. The land had been
cleared of wood for a reasonable distance around the work
but every other part of the scene lay in the green livery of
natureexcept where the limpid water mellowed the viewor
the bold rocks thrust their black and naked heads above the
undulating outline of the mountain ranges. In its front
might be seen the scattered sentinelswho held a weary
watch against their numerous foes; and within the walls
themselvesthe travelers looked down upon men still drowsy
with a night of vigilance. Toward the southeastbut in


immediate contact with the fortwas an entrenched camp
posted on a rocky eminencethat would have been far more
eligible for the work itselfin which Hawkeye pointed out
the presence of those auxiliary regiments that had so
recently left the Hudson in their company. From the woods
a little further to the southrose numerous dark and lurid
smokesthat were easily to be distinguished from the purer
exhalations of the springsand which the scout also showed
to Heywardas evidences that the enemy lay in force in that
direction.

But the spectacle which most concerned the young soldier was
on the western bank of the lakethough quite near to its
southern termination. On a strip of landwhich appeared
from his stand too narrow to contain such an armybut
whichin truthextended many hundreds of yards from the
shores of the Horican to the base of the mountainwere to
be seen the white tents and military engines of an
encampment of ten thousand men. Batteries were already
thrown up in their frontand even while the spectators
above them were looking downwith such different emotions
on a scene which lay like a map beneath their feetthe roar
of artillery rose from the valleyand passed off in
thundering echoes along the eastern hills.

Morning is just touching them below,said the deliberate
and musing scoutand the watchers have a mind to wake up
the sleepers by the sound of cannon. We are a few hours too
late! Montcalm has already filled the woods with his
accursed Iroquois.

The place is, indeed, invested,returned Duncan; "but is
there no expedient by which we may enter? capture in the
works would be far preferable to falling again into the
hands of roving Indians."

See!exclaimed the scoutunconsciously directing the
attention of Cora to the quarters of her own fatherhow
that shot has made the stones fly from the side of the
commandant's house! Ay! these Frenchers will pull it to
pieces faster than it was put together, solid and thick
though it be!

Heyward, I sicken at the sight of danger that I cannot
share,said the undaunted but anxious daughter. "Let us go
to Montcalmand demand admission: he dare not deny a child
the boon."

You would scarce find the tent of the Frenchman with the
hair on your head; said the blunt scout. "If I had but one
of the thousand boats which lie empty along that shoreit
might be done! Ha! here will soon be an end of the firing
for yonder comes a fog that will turn day to nightand make
an Indian arrow more dangerous than a molded cannon. Now
if you are equal to the workand will followI will make a
push; for I long to get down into that campif it be only
to scatter some Mingo dogs that I see lurking in the skirts
of yonder thicket of birch."

We are equal,said Corafirmly; "on such an errand we
will follow to any danger."

The scout turned to her with a smile of honest and cordial
approbationas he answered:


I would I had a thousand men, of brawny limbs and quick
eyes, that feared death as little as you! I'd send them
jabbering Frenchers back into their den again, afore the
week was ended, howling like so many fettered hounds or
hungry wolves. But, sir,he addedturning from her to the
rest of the partythe fog comes rolling down so fast, we
shall have but just the time to meet it on the plain, and
use it as a cover. Remember, if any accident should befall
me, to keep the air blowing on your left cheeks--or,
rather, follow the Mohicans; they'd scent their way, be it
in day or be it at night.

He then waved his hand for them to followand threw himself
down the steep declivitywith freebut careful footsteps.
Heyward assisted the sisters to descendand in a few
minutes they were all far down a mountain whose sides they
had climbed with so much toil and pain.

The direction taken by Hawkeye soon brought the travelers to
the level of the plainnearly opposite to a sally-port in
the western curtain of the fortwhich lay itself at the
distance of about half a mile from the point where he halted
to allow Duncan to come up with his charge. In their
eagernessand favored by the nature of the groundthey had
anticipated the fogwhich was rolling heavily down the
lakeand it became necessary to pauseuntil the mists had
wrapped the camp of the enemy in their fleecy mantle. The
Mohicans profited by the delayto steal out of the woods
and to make a survey of surrounding objects. They were
followed at a little distance by the scoutwith a view to
profit early by their reportand to obtain some faint
knowledge for himself of the more immediate localities.

In a very few moments he returnedhis face reddened with
vexationwhile he muttered his disappointment in words of
no very gentle import.

Here has the cunning Frenchman been posting a picket
directly in our path,he said; "red-skins and whites; and
we shall be as likely to fall into their midst as to pass
them in the fog!"

Cannot we make a circuit to avoid the danger,asked
Heywardand come into our path again when it is passed?

Who that once bends from the line of his march in a fog can
tell when or how to find it again! The mists of Horican are
not like the curls from a peace-pipe, or the smoke which
settles above a mosquito fire.

He was yet speakingwhen a crashing sound was heardand a
cannon-ball entered the thicketstriking the body of a
saplingand rebounding to the earthits force being much
expended by previous resistance. The Indians followed
instantly like busy attendants on the terrible messenger
and Uncas commenced speaking earnestly and with much action
in the Delaware tongue.

It may be so, lad,muttered the scoutwhen he had ended;
for desperate fevers are not to be treated like a
toothache. Come, then, the fog is shutting in.

Stop!cried Heyward; "first explain your expectations."


'Tis soon done, and a small hope it is; but it is better
than nothing. This shot that you see,added the scout
kicking the harmless iron with his foothas plowed the
'arth in its road from the fort, and we shall hunt for the
furrow it has made, when all other signs may fail. No more
words, but follow, or the fog may leave us in the middle of
our path, a mark for both armies to shoot at.

Heyward perceiving thatin facta crisis had arrivedwhen
acts were more required than wordsplaced himself between
the sistersand drew them swiftly forwardkeeping the dim
figure of their leader in his eye. It was soon apparent
that Hawkeye had not magnified the power of the fogfor
before they had proceeded twenty yardsit was difficult for
the different individuals of the party to distinguish each
other in the vapor.

They had made their little circuit to the leftand were
already inclining again toward the righthavingas Heyward
thoughtgot over nearly half the distance to the friendly
workswhen his ears were saluted with the fierce summons
apparently within twenty feet of themof:

Qui va la?

Push on!whispered the scoutonce more bending to the
left.

Push on!repeated Heyward; when the summons was renewed by
a dozen voiceseach of which seemed charged with menace.

C'est moi,cried Duncandragging rather than leading
those he supported swiftly onward.

Bete!--qui?--moi!

Ami de la France.

Tu m'as plus l'air d'un ennemi de la France; arrete ou
pardieu je te ferai ami du diable. Non! feu, camarades,
feu!

The order was instantly obeyedand the fog was stirred by
the explosion of fifty muskets. Happilythe aim was bad
and the bullets cut the air in a direction a little
different from that taken by the fugitives; though still so
nigh themthat to the unpractised ears of David and the two
femalesit appeared as if they whistled within a few inches
of the organs. The outcry was renewedand the ordernot
only to fire againbut to pursuewas too plainly audible.
When Heyward briefly explained the meaning of the words they
heardHawkeye halted and spoke with quick decision and
great firmness.

Let us deliver our fire,he said; "they will believe it a
sortieand give wayor they will wait for reinforcements."

The scheme was well conceivedbut failed in its effects.
The instant the French heard the piecesit seemed as if the
plain was alive with menmuskets rattling along its whole
extentfrom the shores of the lake to the furthest boundary
of the woods.


We shall draw their entire army upon us, and bring on a
general assault,said Duncan: "lead onmy friendfor your
own life and ours."

The scout seemed willing to comply; butin the hurry of the
momentand in the change of positionhe had lost the
direction. In vain he turned either cheek toward the light
air; they felt equally cool. In this dilemmaUncas lighted
on the furrow of the cannon ballwhere it had cut the
ground in three adjacent ant-hills.

Give me the range!said Hawkeyebending to catch a
glimpse of the directionand then instantly moving onward.

Criesoathsvoices calling to each otherand the reports
of musketswere now quick and incessantandapparently
on every side of them. Suddenly a strong glare of light
flashed across the scenethe fog rolled upward in thick
wreathsand several cannons belched across the plainand
the roar was thrown heavily back from the bellowing echoes
of the mountain.

'Tis from the fort!exclaimed Hawkeyeturning short on
his tracks; "and welike stricken foolswere rushing to
the woodsunder the very knives of the Maquas."

The instant their mistake was rectifiedthe whole party
retraced the error with the utmost diligence. Duncan
willingly relinquished the support of Cora to the arm of
Uncas and Cora as readily accepted the welcome assistance.
Menhot and angry in pursuitwere evidently on their
footstepsand each instant threatened their captureif not
their destruction.

Point de quartier aux coquins!cried an eager pursuerwho
seemed to direct the operations of the enemy.

Stand firm, and be ready, my gallant Sixtieths!suddenly
exclaimed a voice above them; "wait to see the enemyfire
low and sweep the glacis."

Father! father!exclaimed a piercing cry from out the
mist: "it is I! Alice! thy own Elsie! Spareoh! save
your daughters!"

Hold!shouted the former speakerin the awful tones of
parental agonythe sound reaching even to the woodsand
rolling back in solemn echo. "'Tis she! God has restored
me to my children! Throw open the sally-port; to the field
Sixtiethsto the field; pull not a triggerlest ye kill my
lambs! Drive off these dogs of France with your steel."

Duncan heard the grating of the rusty hingesand darting to
the spotdirected by the soundhe met a long line of dark
red warriorspassing swiftly toward the glacis. He knew
them for his own battalion of the Royal Americansand
flying to their headsoon swept every trace of his pursuers
from before the works.

For an instantCora and Alice had stood trembling and
bewildered by this unexpected desertion; but before either
had leisure for speechor even thoughtan officer of
gigantic framewhose locks were bleached with years and
servicebut whose air of military grandeur had been rather


softened than destroyed by timerushed out of the body of
mistand folded them to his bosomwhile large scalding
tears rolled down his pale and wrinkled cheeksand he
exclaimedin the peculiar accent of Scotland:

For this I thank thee, Lord! Let danger come as it will,
thy servant is now prepared!

CHAPTER 15

Then go we in, to know his embassy; Which I could, with
ready guess, declare, Before the Frenchmen speak a word of
it,--King Henry V

A few succeeding days were passed amid the privationsthe
uproarand the dangers of the siegewhich was vigorously
pressed by a poweragainst whose approaches Munro possessed
no competent means of resistance. It appeared as if Webb
with his armywhich lay slumbering on the banks of the
Hudsonhad utterly forgotten the strait to which his
countrymen were reduced. Montcalm had filled the woods of
the portage with his savagesevery yell and whoop from whom
rang through the British encampmentchilling the hearts of
men who were already but too much disposed to magnify the
danger.

Not sohoweverwith the besieged. Animated by the words
and stimulated by the examples of their leadersthey had
found their courageand maintained their ancient
reputationwith a zeal that did justice to the stern
character of their commander. As if satisfied with the toil
of marching through the wilderness to encounter his enemy
the French generalthough of approved skillhad neglected
to seize the adjacent mountains; whence the besieged might
have been exterminated with impunityand whichin the more
modern warfare of the countrywould not have been neglected
for a single hour. This sort of contempt for eminencesor
rather dread of the labor of ascending themmight have been
termed the besetting weakness of the warfare of the period.
It originated in the simplicity of the Indian contestsin
whichfrom the nature of the combatsand the density of
the forestsfortresses were rareand artillery next to
useless. The carelessness engendered by these usages
descended even to the war of the Revolution and lost the
States the important fortress of Ticonderoga opening a way
for the army of Burgoyne into what was then the bosom of the
country. We look back at this ignoranceor infatuation
whichever it may be calledwith wonderknowing that the
neglect of an eminencewhose difficultieslike those of
Mount Defiancehave been so greatly exaggeratedwouldat
the present timeprove fatal to the reputation of the
engineer who had planned the works at their baseor to that
of the general whose lot it was to defend them.

The touristthe valetudinarianor the amateur of the
beauties of naturewhoin the train of his four-in-hand
now rolls through the scenes we have attempted to describe
in quest of informationhealthor pleasureor floats
steadily toward his object on those artificial waters which
have sprung up under the administration of a statesman* who
has dared to stake his political character on the hazardous
issueis not to suppose that his ancestors traversed those


hillsor struggled with the same currents with equal
facility. The transportation of a single heavy gun was
often considered equal to a victory gained; if happilythe
difficulties of the passage had not so far separated it from
its necessary concomitantthe ammunitionas to render it
no more than a useless tube of unwieldy iron.

* Evidently the late De Witt Clintonwho died
governor of New York in 1828.
The evils of this state of things pressed heavily on the
fortunes of the resolute Scotsman who now defended William
Henry. Though his adversary neglected the hillshe had
planted his batteries with judgment on the plainand caused
them to be served with vigor and skill. Against this
assaultthe besieged could only oppose the imperfect and
hasty preparations of a fortress in the wilderness.

It was in the afternoon of the fifth day of the siegeand
the fourth of his own service in itthat Major Heyward
profited by a parley that had just been beatenby repairing
to the ramparts of one of the water bastionsto breathe the
cool air from the lakeand to take a survey of the progress
of the siege. He was aloneif the solitary sentinel who
paced the mound be excepted; for the artillerists had
hastened also to profit by the temporary suspension of their
arduous duties. The evening was delightfully calmand the
light air from the limpid water fresh and soothing. It
seemed as ifwith the termination of the roar of artillery
and the plunging of shotnature had also seized the moment
to assume her mildest and most captivating form. The sun
poured down his parting glory on the scenewithout the
oppression of those fierce rays that belong to the climate
and the season. The mountains looked greenand freshand
lovelytempered with the milder lightor softened in
shadowas thin vapors floated between them and the sun.
The numerous islands rested on the bosom of the Horican
some low and sunkenas if embedded in the watersand
others appearing to hover about the elementin little
hillocks of green velvet; among which the fishermen of the
beleaguering army peacefully rowed their skiffsor floated
at rest on the glassy mirror in quiet pursuit of their
employment.

The scene was at once animated and still. All that
pertained to nature was sweetor simply grand; while those
parts which depended on the temper and movements of man were
lively and playful.

Two little spotless flags were abroadthe one on a salient
angle of the fortand the other on the advanced battery of
the besiegers; emblems of the truth which existednot only
to the actsbut it would seemalsoto the enmity of the
combatants.

Behind these again swungheavily opening and closing in
silken foldsthe rival standards of England and France.

A hundred gay and thoughtless young Frenchmen were drawing a
net to the pebbly beachwithin dangerous proximity to the
sullen but silent cannon of the fortwhile the eastern
mountain was sending back the loud shouts and gay merriment
that attended their sport. Some were rushing eagerly to
enjoy the aquatic games of the lakeand others were already


toiling their way up the neighboring hillswith the
restless curiosity of their nation. To all these sports and
pursuitsthose of the enemy who watched the besiegedand
the besieged themselveswerehowevermerely the idle
though sympathizing spectators. Here and there a picket
hadindeedraised a songor mingled in a dancewhich had
drawn the dusky savages around themfrom their lairs in the
forest. In shorteverything wore rather the appearance of
a day of pleasurethan of an hour stolen from the dangers
and toil of a bloody and vindictive warfare.

Duncan had stood in a musing attitudecontemplating this
scene a few minuteswhen his eyes were directed to the
glacis in front of the sally-port already mentionedby the
sounds of approaching footsteps. He walked to an angle of
the bastionand beheld the scout advancingunder the
custody of a French officerto the body of the fort. The
countenance of Hawkeye was haggard and carewornand his air
dejectedas though he felt the deepest degradation at
having fallen into the power of his enemies. He was without
his favorite weaponand his arms were even bound behind him
with thongsmade of the skin of a deer. The arrival of
flags to cover the messengers of summonshad occurred so
often of latethat when Heyward first threw his careless
glance on this grouphe expected to see another of the
officers of the enemycharged with a similar office but the
instant he recognized the tall person and still sturdy
though downcast features of his friendthe woodsmanhe
started with surpriseand turned to descend from the
bastion into the bosom of the work.

The sounds of other voiceshowevercaught his attention
and for a moment caused him to forget his purpose. At the
inner angle of the mound he met the sisterswalking along
the parapetin searchlike himselfof air and relief from
confinement. They had not met from that painful moment when
he deserted them on the plainonly to assure their safety.
He had parted from them worn with careand jaded with
fatigue; he now saw them refreshed and bloomingthough
timid and anxious. Under such an inducement it will cause
no surprise that the young man lost sight for a timeof
other objects in order to address them. He washowever
anticipated by the voice of the ingenuous and youthful
Alice.

Ah! thou tyrant! thou recreant knight! he who abandons his
damsels in the very lists,she cried; "here have we been
daysnayagesexpecting you at our feetimploring mercy
and forgetfulness of your craven backslidingor I should
rather saybackrunning--for verily you fled in the manner
that no stricken deeras our worthy friend the scout would
saycould equal!"

You know that Alice means our thanks and our blessings,
added the graver and more thoughtful Cora. "In truthwe
have a little wonder why you should so rigidly absent
yourself from a place where the gratitude of the daughters
might receive the support of a parent's thanks."

Your father himself could tell you, that, though absent
from your presence, I have not been altogether forgetful of
your safety,returned the young man; "the mastery of yonder
village of huts pointing to the neighboring entrenched
camp, has been keenly disputed; and he who holds it is sure


to be possessed of this fortand that which it contains.
My days and nights have all been passed there since we
separatedbecause I thought that duty called me thither.
But he added, with an air of chagrin, which he endeavored,
though unsuccessfully, to conceal, had I been aware that
what I then believed a soldier's conduct could be so
construedshame would have been added to the list of
reasons."

Heyward! Duncan!exclaimed Alicebending forward to read
his half-averted countenanceuntil a lock of her golden
hair rested on her flushed cheekand nearly concealed the
tear that had started to her eye; "did I think this idle
tongue of mine had pained youI would silence it forever.
Cora can sayif Cora wouldhow justly we have prized your
servicesand how deep -- I had almost saidhow fervent -is
our gratitude."

And will Cora attest the truth of
this?cried Duncansuffering the cloud to be chased from
his countenance by a smile of open pleasure. "What says our
graver sister? Will she find an excuse for the neglect of
the knight in the duty of a soldier?"

Cora made no immediate answerbut turned her face toward
the wateras if looking on the sheet of the Horican. When
she did bend her dark eyes on the young manthey were yet
filled with an expression of anguish that at once drove
every thought but that of kind solicitude from his mind.

You are not well, dearest Miss Munro!he exclaimed; "we
have trifled while you are in suffering!"

'Tis nothing,she answeredrefusing his support with
feminine reserve. "That I cannot see the sunny side of the

picture of lifelike this artless but ardent enthusiast
she added, laying her hand lightly, but affectionately, on
the arm of her sister, is the penalty of experienceand
perhapsthe misfortune of my nature. See she continued,
as if determined to shake off infirmity, in a sense of duty;
look around youMajor Heywardand tell me what a prospect
is this for the daughter of a soldier whose greatest
happiness is his honor and his military renown."

Neither ought nor shall be tarnished by circumstances over
which he has had no control,Duncan warmly replied. "But
your words recall me to my own duty. I go now to your
gallant fatherto hear his determination in matters of the
last moment to the defense. God bless you in every fortune
noble -- Cora -- I may and must call you." She frankly gave
him her handthough her lip quiveredand her cheeks
gradually became of ashly paleness. "In every fortuneI
know you will be an ornament and honor to your sex. Alice
adieu" -- his voice changed from admiration to tenderness -"
adieuAlice; we shall soon meet again; as conquerorsI
trustand amid rejoicings!"

Without waiting for an answer from eitherthe young man
threw himself down the grassy steps of the bastionand
moving rapidly across the paradehe was quickly in the
presence of their father. Munro was pacing his narrow
apartment with a disturbed air and gigantic strides as
Duncan entered.


You have anticipated my wishes, Major Heyward,he said; "I
was about to request this favor."

I am sorry to see, sir, that the messenger I so warmly
recommended has returned in custody of the French! I hope
there is no reason to distrust his fidelity?

The fidelity of 'The Long Rifle' is well known to me,
returned Munroand is above suspicion; though his usual
good fortune seems, at last, to have failed. Montcalm has
got him, and with the accursed politeness of his nation, he
has sent him in with a doleful tale, of 'knowing how I
valued the fellow, he could not think of retaining him.' A
Jesuitical way that, Major Duncan Heyward, of telling a man
of his misfortunes!

But the general and his succor?

Did ye look to the south as ye entered, and could ye not
see them?said the old soldierlaughing bitterly.

Hoot! hoot! you're an impatient boy, sir, and cannot give
the gentlemen leisure for their march!

They are coming, then? The scout has said as much?

When? and by what path? for the dunce has omitted to tell
me this. There is a letter, it would seem, too; and that is
the only agreeable part of the matter. For the customary
attentions of your Marquis of Montcalm -- I warrant me,
Duncan, that he of Lothian would buy a dozen such
marquisates -- but if the news of the letter were bad, the
gentility of this French monsieur would certainly compel him
to let us know it.

He keeps the letter, then, while he releases the
messenger?

Ay, that does he, and all for the sake of what you call
your 'bonhommie' I would venture, if the truth was known,
the fellow's grandfather taught the noble science of
dancing.

But what says the scout? he has eyes and ears, and a
tongue. What verbal report does he make?

Oh! sir, he is not wanting in natural organs, and he is
free to tell all that he has seen and heard. The whole
amount is this; there is a fort of his majesty's on the
banks of the Hudson, called Edward, in honor of his gracious
highness of York, you'll know; and it is well filled with
armed men, as such a work should be.

But was there no movement, no signs of any intention to
advance to our relief?

There were the morning and evening parades; and when one of
the provincial loons -- you'll know, Duncan, you're half a
Scotsman yourself -- when one of them dropped his powder
over his porretch, if it touched the coals, it just burned!
Thensuddenly changing his bitterironical mannerto one
more grave and thoughtfulhe continued: "and yet there
mightand must besomething in that letter which it would


be well to know!"

Our decision should be speedy,said Duncangladly
availing himself of this change of humorto press the more
important objects of their interview; "I cannot conceal from
yousirthat the camp will not be much longer tenable; and
I am sorry to addthat things appear no better in the fort;
more than half the guns are bursted."

And how should it be otherwise? Some were fished from the
bottom of the lake; some have been rusting in woods since
the discovery of the country; and some were never guns at
all--mere privateersmen's playthings! Do you think, sir,
you can have Woolwich Warren in the midst of a wilderness,
three thousand miles from Great Britain?

The walls are crumbling about our ears, and provisions
begin to fail us,continued Heywardwithout regarding the
new burst of indignation; "even the men show signs of
discontent and alarm."

Major Heyward,said Munroturning to his youthful
associate with the dignity of his years and superior rank;
I should have served his majesty for half a century, and
earned these gray hairs in vain, were I ignorant of all you
say, and of the pressing nature of our circumstances; still,
there is everything due to the honor of the king's arms, and
something to ourselves. While there is hope of succor, this
fortress will I defend, though it be to be done with pebbles
gathered on the lake shore. It is a sight of the letter,
therefore, that we want, that we may know the intentions of
the man the earl of Loudon has left among us as his
substitute.

And can I be of service in the matter?

Sir, you can; the marquis of Montcalm has, in addition to
his other civilities, invited me to a personal interview
between the works and his own camp; in order, as he says, to
impart some additional information. Now, I think it would
not be wise to show any undue solicitude to meet him, and I
would employ you, an officer of rank, as my substitute; for
it would but ill comport with the honor of Scotland to let
it be said one of her gentlemen was outdone in civility by a
native of any other country on earth.

Without assuming the supererogatory task of entering into a
discussion of the comparative merits of national courtesy
Duncan cheerfully assented to supply the place of the
veteran in the approaching interview. A long and
confidential communication now succeededduring which the
young man received some additional insight into his duty
from the experience and native acuteness of his commander
and then the former took his leave.

As Duncan could only act as the representative of the
commandant of the fortthe ceremonies which should have
accompanied a meeting between the heads of the adverse
forces wereof coursedispensed with. The truce still
existedand with a roll and beat of the drumand covered
by a little white flagDuncan left the sally-portwithin
ten minutes after his instructions were ended. He was
received by the French officer in advance with the usual
formalitiesand immediately accompanied to a distant


marquee of the renowned soldier who led the forces of
France.

The general of the enemy received the youthful messenger
surrounded by his principal officersand by a swarthy band
of the native chiefswho had followed him to the field
with the warriors of their several tribes. Heyward paused
shortwhenin glancing his eyes rapidly over the dark
group of the latterhe beheld the malignant countenance of
Maguaregarding him with the calm but sullen attention
which marked the expression of that subtle savage. A slight
exclamation of surprise even burst from the lips of the
young manbut instantlyrecollecting his errandand the
presence in which he stoodhe suppressed every appearance
of emotionand turned to the hostile leaderwho had
already advanced a step to receive him.

The marquis of Montcalm wasat the period of which we
writein the flower of his ageandit may be addedin
the zenith of his fortunes. But even in that enviable
situationhe was affableand distinguished as much for his
attention to the forms of courtesyas for that chivalrous
courage whichonly two short years afterwardinduced him
to throw away his life on the plains of Abraham. Duncanin
turning his eyes from the malign expression of Magua
suffered them to rest with pleasure on the smiling and
polished featuresand the noble military airof the French
general.

Monsieur,said the latterj'ai beaucoup de plaisir a -bah!
-- ou est cet interprete?

Je crois, monsieur, qu'il ne sear pas necessaire,Heyward
modestly replied; "je parle un peu francais."

Ah! j'en suis bien aise,said Montcalmtaking Duncan
familiarly by the armand leading him deep into the
marqueea little out of earshot; "je deteste ces fripons-la;
on ne sait jamais sur quel pie on est avec eux. Eh
bien! monsieur he continued still speaking in French;
though I should have been proud of receiving your
commandantI am very happy that he has seen proper to
employ an officer so distinguishedand whoI am sureis
so amiableas yourself."

Duncan bowed lowpleased with the complimentin spite of a
most heroic determination to suffer no artifice to allure
him into forgetfulness of the interest of his prince; and
Montcalmafter a pause of a momentas if to collect his
thoughtsproceeded:

Your commandant is a brave man, and well qualified to repel
my assault. Mais, monsieur, is it not time to begin to take
more counsel of humanity, and less of your courage? The one
as strongly characterizes the hero as the other.

We consider the qualities as inseparable,returned Duncan
smiling; "but while we find in the vigor of your excellency
every motive to stimulate the onewe canas yetsee no
particular call for the exercise of the other."

Montcalmin his turnslightly bowedbut it was with the
air of a man too practised to remember the language of
flattery. After musing a momenthe added:


It is possible my glasses have deceived me, and that your
works resist our cannon better than I had supposed. You
know our force?

Our accounts vary,said Duncancarelessly; "the highest
howeverhas not exceeded twenty thousand men."

The Frenchman bit his lipand fastened his eyes keenly on
the other as if to read his thoughts; thenwith a readiness
peculiar to himselfhe continuedas if assenting to the
truth of an enumeration which quite doubled his army:

It is a poor compliment to the vigilance of us soldiers,
monsieur, that, do what we will, we never can conceal our
numbers. If it were to be done at all, one would believe it
might succeed in these woods. Though you think it too soon
to listen to the calls of humanity,he addedsmiling
archlyI may be permitted to believe that gallantry is not
forgotten by one so young as yourself. The daughters of the
commandant, I learn, have passed into the fort since it was
invested?

It is true, monsieur; but, so far from weakening our
efforts, they set us an example of courage in their own
fortitude. Were nothing but resolution necessary to repel
so accomplished a soldier as M. de Montcalm, I would gladly
trust the defense of William Henry to the elder of those
ladies.

We have a wise ordinance in our Salique laws, which says,
'The crown of France shall never degrade the lance to the
distaff',said Montcalmdrylyand with a little hauteur;
but instantly addingwith his former frank and easy air:
as all the nobler qualities are hereditary, I can easily
credit you; though, as I said before, courage has its
limits, and humanity must not be forgotten. I trust,
monsieur, you come authorized to treat for the surrender of
the place?

Has your excellency found our defense so feeble as to
believe the measure necessary?

I should be sorry to have the defense protracted in such a
manner as to irritate my red friends there,continued
Montcalmglancing his eyes at the group of grave and
attentive Indianswithout attending to the other's
questions; "I find it difficulteven nowto limit them to
the usages of war."

Heyward was silent; for a painful recollection of the
dangers he had so recently escaped came over his mindand
recalled the images of those defenseless beings who had
shared in all his sufferings.

Ces messieurs-la,said Montcalmfollowing up the
advantage which he conceived he had gainedare most
formidable when baffled; and it is unnecessary to tell you
with what difficulty they are restrained in their anger. Eh
bien, monsieur! shall we speak of the terms?

I fear your excellency has been deceived as to the strength
of William Henry, and the resources of its garrison!


I have not sat down before Quebec, but an earthen work,
that is defended by twenty-three hundred gallant men,was
the laconic reply.

Our mounds are earthen, certainly--nor are they seated on
the rocks of Cape Diamond; but they stand on that shore
which proved so destructive to Dieskau and his army. There
is also a powerful force within a few hours' march of us,
which we account upon as a part of our means.

Some six or eight thousand men,returned Montcalmwith
much apparent indifferencewhom their leader wisely judges
to be safer in their works than in the field.

It was now Heyward's turn to bite his lip with vexation as
the other so coolly alluded to a force which the young man
knew to be overrated. Both mused a little while in silence
when Montcalm renewed the conversationin a way that showed
he believed the visit of his guest was solely to propose
terms of capitulation. On the other handHeyward began to
throw sundry inducements in the way of the French general
to betray the discoveries he had made through the
intercepted letter. The artifice of neitherhowever
succeeded; and after a protracted and fruitless interview
Duncan took his leavefavorably impressed with an opinion
of the courtesy and talents of the enemy's captainbut as
ignorant of what he came to learn as when he arrived.
Montcalm followed him as far as the entrance of the marquee
renewing his invitations to the commandant of the fort to
give him an immediate meeting in the open ground between the
two armies.

There they separatedand Duncan returned to the advanced
post of the Frenchaccompanied as before; whence he
instantly proceeded to the fortand to the quarters of his
own commander.

CHAPTER 16

EDG.--Before you fight the battle ope this letter.--
Lear

Major Heyward found Munro attended only by his daughters.
Alice sat upon his kneeparting the gray hairs on the
forehead of the old man with her delicate fingers; and
whenever he affected to frown on her triflingappeasing his
assumed anger by pressing her ruby lips fondly on his
wrinkled brow. Cora was seated nigh thema calm and amused
looker-on; regarding the wayward movements of her more
youthful sister with that species of maternal fondness which
characterized her love for Alice. Not only the dangers
through which they had passedbut those which still
impended above themappeared to be momentarily forgotten
in the soothing indulgence of such a family meeting. It
seemed as if they had profited by the short truceto devote
an instant to the purest and best affection; the daughters
forgetting their fearsand the veteran his caresin the
security of the moment. Of this sceneDuncanwhoin his
eagerness to report his arrivalhad entered unannounced
stood many moments an unobserved and a delighted spectator.
But the quick and dancing eyes of Alice soon caught a
glimpse of his figure reflected from a glassand she sprang


blushing from her father's kneeexclaiming aloud:

Major Heyward!

What of the lad?demanded her father; "I have sent him to
crack a little with the Frenchman. Hasiryou are young
and you're nimble! Away with youye baggage; as if there
were not troubles enough for a soldierwithout having his
camp filled with such prattling hussies as yourself!"

Alice laughingly followed her sisterwho instantly led the
way from an apartment where she perceived their presence was
no longer desirable. Munroinstead of demanding the result
of the young man's missionpaced the room for a few
momentswith his hands behind his backand his head
inclined toward the floorlike a man lost in thought. At
length he raised his eyesglistening with a father's
fondnessand exclaimed:

They are a pair of excellent girls, Heyward, and such as
any one may boast of.

You are not now to learn my opinion of your daughters,
Colonel Munro.

True, lad, true,interrupted the impatient old man; "you
were about opening your mind more fully on that matter the
day you got inbut I did not think it becoming in an old
soldier to be talking of nuptial blessings and wedding jokes
when the enemies of his king were likely to be unbidden
guests at the feast. But I was wrongDuncanboyI was
wrong there; and I am now ready to hear what you have to
say."

Notwithstanding the pleasure your assurance gives me, dear
sir, I have just now, a message from Montcalm --

Let the Frenchman and all his host go to the devil, sir!
exclaimed the hasty veteran. "He is not yet master of
William Henrynor shall he ever beprovided Webb proves
himself the man he should. Nosirthank Heaven we are not
yet in such a strait that it can be said Munro is too much
pressed to discharge the little domestic duties of his own
family. Your mother was the only child of my bosom friend
Duncan; and I'll just give you a hearingthough all the
knights of St. Louis were in a body at the sally-portwith
the French saint at their headcrying to speak a word under
favor. A pretty degree of knighthoodsiris that which
can be bought with sugar hogsheads! and then your twopenny
marquisates. The thistle is the order for dignity and
antiquity; the veritable 'nemo me impune lacessit' of
chivalry. Ye had ancestors in that degreeDuncanand they
were an ornament to the nobles of Scotland."

Heywardwho perceived that his superior took a malicious
pleasure in exhibiting his contempt for the message of the
French generalwas fain to humor a spleen that he knew
would be short-lived; he thereforereplied with as much
indifference as he could assume on such a subject:

My request, as you know, sir, went so far as to presume to
the honor of being your son.

Ay, boy, you found words to make yourself very plainly


comprehended. But, let me ask ye, sir, have you been as
intelligible to the girl?

On my honor, no,exclaimed Duncanwarmly; "there would
have been an abuse of a confided trusthad I taken
advantage of my situation for such a purpose."

Your notions are those of a gentleman, Major Heyward, and
well enough in their place. But Cora Munro is a maiden too
discreet, and of a mind too elevated and improved, to need
the guardianship even of a father.

Cora!

Ay -- Cora! we are talking of your pretensions to Miss
Munro, are we not, sir?

I -- I -- I was not conscious of having mentioned her
name,said Duncanstammering.

And to marry whom, then, did you wish my consent, Major
Heyward?demanded the old soldiererecting himself in the
dignity of offended feeling.

You have another, and not less lovely child.

Alice!exclaimed the fatherin an astonishment equal to
that with which Duncan had just repeated the name of her
sister.

Such was the direction of my wishes, sir.

The young man awaited in silence the result of the
extraordinary effect produced by a communicationwhichas
it now appearedwas so unexpected. For several minutes
Munro paced the chamber with long and rapid strideshis
rigid features working convulsivelyand every faculty
seemingly absorbed in the musings of his own mind. At
lengthhe paused directly in front of Heywardand riveting
his eyes upon those of the otherhe saidwith a lip that
quivered violently:

Duncan Heyward, I have loved you for the sake of him whose
blood is in your veins; I have loved you for your own good
qualities; and I have loved you, because I thought you would
contribute to the happiness of my child. But all this love
would turn to hatred, were I assured that what I so much
apprehend is true.

God forbid that any act or thought of mine should lead to
such a change!exclaimed the young manwhose eye never
quailed under the penetrating look it encountered. Without
adverting to the impossibility of the other's comprehending
those feelings which were hid in his own bosomMunro
suffered himself to be appeased by the unaltered countenance
he metand with a voice sensibly softenedhe continued:

You would be my son, Duncan, and you're ignorant of the
history of the man you wish to call your father. Sit ye
down, young man, and I will open to you the wounds of a
seared heart, in as few words as may be suitable.

By this timethe message of Montcalm was as much forgotten
by him who bore it as by the man for whose ears it was


intended. Each drew a chairand while the veteran communed
a few moments with his own thoughtsapparently in sadness
the youth suppressed his impatience in a look and attitude
of respectful attention. At lengththe former spoke:

You'll know, already, Major Heyward, that my family was
both ancient and honorable,commenced the Scotsman; "though
it might not altogether be endowed with that amount of
wealth that should correspond with its degree. I was
maybesuch an one as yourself when I plighted my faith to
Alice Grahamthe only child of a neighboring laird of some
estate. But the connection was disagreeable to her father
on more accounts than my poverty. I didthereforewhat an
honest man should -- restored the maiden her trothand
departed the country in the service of my king. I had seen
many regionsand had shed much blood in different lands
before duty called me to the islands of the West Indies.
There it was my lot to form a connection with one who in
time became my wifeand the mother of Cora. She was the
daughter of a gentleman of those islesby a lady whose
misfortune it wasif you will said the old man, proudly,
to be descendedremotelyfrom that unfortunate class who
are so basely enslaved to administer to the wants of a
luxurious people. Aysirthat is a curseentailed on
Scotland by her unnatural union with a foreign and trading
people. But could I find a man among them who would dare to
reflect on my childhe should feel the weight of a father's
anger! Ha! Major Heywardyou are yourself born at the
southwhere these unfortunate beings are considered of a
race inferior to your own."

'Tis most unfortunately true, sir,said Duncanunable any
longer to prevent his eyes from sinking to the floor in
embarrassment.

And you cast it on my child as a reproach! You scorn to
mingle the blood of the Heywards with one so degraded -lovely
and virtuous though she be?fiercely demanded the
jealous parent.

Heaven protect me from a prejudice so unworthy of my
reason!returned Duncanat the same time conscious of such
a feelingand that as deeply rooted as if it had been
ingrafted in his nature. "The sweetnessthe beautythe
witchery of your younger daughterColonel Munromight
explain my motives without imputing to me this injustice."

Ye are right, sir,returned the old managain changing
his tones to those of gentlenessor rather softness; "the
girl is the image of what her mother was at her yearsand
before she had become acquainted with grief. When death
deprived me of my wife I returned to Scotlandenriched by
the marriage; andwould you think itDuncan! the suffering
angel had remained in the heartless state of celibacy twenty
long yearsand that for the sake of a man who could forget
her! She did moresir; she overlooked my want of faith
andall difficulties being now removedshe took me for her
husband."

And became the mother of Alice?exclaimed Duncanwith an
eagerness that might have proved dangerous at a moment when
the thoughts of Munro were less occupied that at present.

She did, indeed,said the old manand dearly did she pay


for the blessing she bestowed. But she is a saint in
heaven, sir; and it ill becomes one whose foot rests on the
grave to mourn a lot so blessed. I had her but a single
year, though; a short term of happiness for one who had seen
her youth fade in hopeless pining.

There was something so commanding in the distress of the old
manthat Heyward did not dare to venture a syllable of
consolation. Munro sat utterly unconscious of the other's
presencehis features exposed and working with the anguish
of his regretswhile heavy tears fell from his eyesand
rolled unheeded from his cheeks to the floor. At length he
movedand as if suddenly recovering his recollection; when
he aroseand taking a single turn across the roomhe
approached his companion with an air of military grandeur
and demanded:

Have you not, Major Heyward, some communication that I
should hear from the marquis de Montcalm?

Duncan started in his turnand immediately commenced in an
embarrassed voicethe half-forgotten message. It is
unnecessary to dwell upon the evasive though polite manner
with which the French general had eluded every attempt of
Heyward to worm from him the purport of the communication he
had proposed makingor on the decidedthough still
polished messageby which he now gave his enemy to
understandthatunless he chose to receive it in person
he should not receive it at all. As Munro listened to the
detail of Duncanthe excited feelings of the father
gradually gave way before the obligations of his station
and when the other was donehe saw before him nothing but
the veteranswelling with the wounded feelings of a
soldier.

You have said enough, Major Heyward,exclaimed the angry
old man; "enough to make a volume of commentary on French
civility. Here has this gentleman invited me to a
conferenceand when I send him a capable substitutefor
ye're all thatDuncanthough your years are but fewhe
answers me with a riddle."

He may have thought less favorably of the substitute, my
dear sir; and you will remember that the invitation, which
he now repeats, was to the commandant of the works, and not
to his second.

Well, sir, is not a substitute clothed with all the power
and dignity of him who grants the commission? He wishes to
confer with Munro! Faith, sir, I have much inclination to
indulge the man, if it should only be to let him behold the
firm countenance we maintain in spite of his numbers and his
summons. There might be not bad policy in such a stroke,
young man.

Duncanwho believed it of the last importance that they
should speedily come to the contents of the letter borne by
the scoutgladly encouraged this idea.

Without doubt, he could gather no confidence by witnessing
our indifference,he said.

You never said truer word. I could wish, sir, that he
would visit the works in open day, and in the form of a


storming party; that is the least failing method of proving
the countenance of an enemy, and would be far preferable to
the battering system he has chosen. The beauty and
manliness of warfare has been much deformed, Major Heyward,
by the arts of your Monsieur Vauban. Our ancestors were far
above such scientific cowardice!

It may be very true, sir; but we are now obliged to repel
art by art. What is your pleasure in the matter of the
interview?

I will meet the Frenchman, and that without fear or delay;
promptly, sir, as becomes a servant of my royal master. Go,
Major Heyward, and give them a flourish of the music; and
send out a messenger to let them know who is coming. We
will follow with a small guard, for such respect is due to
one who holds the honor of his king in keeping; and hark'ee,
Duncan,he addedin a half whisperthough they were
aloneit may be prudent to have some aid at hand, in case
there should be treachery at the bottom of it all.

The young man availed himself of this order to quit the
apartment; andas the day was fast coming to a closehe
hastened without delayto make the necessary arrangements.
A very few minutes only were necessary to parade a few
filesand to dispatch an orderly with a flag to announce
the approach of the commandant of the fort. When Duncan had
done both thesehe led the guard to the sally-portnear
which he found his superior readywaiting his appearance.
As soon as the usual ceremonials of a military departure
were observedthe veteran and his more youthful companion
left the fortressattended by the escort.

They had proceeded only a hundred yards from the workswhen
the little array which attended the French general to the
conference was seen issuing from the hollow way which formed
the bed of a brook that ran between the batteries of the
besiegers and the fort. From the moment that Munro left his
own works to appear in front of his enemy'shis air had
been grandand his step and countenance highly military.
The instant he caught a glimpse of the white plume that
waved in the hat of Montcalmhis eye lightedand age no
longer appeared to possess any influence over his vast and
still muscular person.

Speak to the boys to be watchful, sir,he saidin an
undertoneto Duncan; "and to look well to their flints and
steelfor one is never safe with a servant of these
Louis's; at the same timewe shall show them the front of
men in deep security. Ye'll understand meMajor Heyward!"

He was interrupted by the clamor of a drum from the
approaching Frenchmenwhich was immediately answeredwhen
each party pushed an orderly in advancebearing a white
flagand the wary Scotsman halted with his guard close at
his back. As soon as this slight salutation had passed
Montcalm moved toward them with a quick but graceful step
baring his head to the veteranand dropping his spotless
plume nearly to the earth in courtesy. If the air of Munro
was more commanding and manlyit wanted both the ease and
insinuating polish of that of the Frenchman. Neither spoke
for a few momentseach regarding the other with curious and
interested eyes. Thenas became his superior rank and the
nature of the interviewMontcalm broke the silence. After


uttering the usual words of greetinghe turned to Duncan
and continuedwith a smile of recognitionspeaking always
in French:

I am rejoiced, monsieur, that you have given us the
pleasure of your company on this occasion. There will be no
necessity to employ an ordinary interpreter; for, in your
hands, I feel the same security as if I spoke your language
myself.

Duncan acknowledged the complimentwhen Montcalmturning
to his guardwhich in imitation of that of their enemies
pressed close upon himcontinued:

En arriere, mes enfants -- il fait chaud ---retirez-vous un
peu.

Before Major Heyward would imitate this proof of confidence
he glanced his eyes around the plainand beheld with
uneasiness the numerous dusky groups of savageswho looked
out from the margin of the surrounding woodscurious
spectators of the interview.

Monsieur de Montcalm will readily acknowledge the
difference in our situation,he saidwith some
embarrassmentpointing at the same time toward those
dangerous foeswho were to be seen in almost every
direction. "were we to dismiss our guardwe should stand
here at the mercy of our enemies."

Monsieur, you have the plighted faith of 'un gentilhomme
Francais', for your safety,returned Montcalmlaying his
hand impressively on his heart; "it should suffice."

It shall. Fall back,Duncan added to the officer who led
the escort; "fall backsirbeyond hearingand wait for
orders."

Munro witnessed this movement with manifest uneasiness; nor
did he fail to demand an instant explanation.

Is it not our interest, sir, to betray distrust?retorted
Duncan. "Monsieur de Montcalm pledges his word for our
safetyand I have ordered the men to withdraw a littlein
order to prove how much we depend on his assurance."

It may be all right, sir, but I have no overweening
reliance on the faith of these marquesses, or marquis, as
they call themselves. Their patents of nobility are too
common to be certain that they bear the seal of true honor.

You forget, dear sir, that we confer with an officer,
distinguished alike in Europe and America for his deeds.
From a soldier of his reputation we can have nothing to
apprehend.

The old man made a gesture of resignationthough his rigid
features still betrayed his obstinate adherence to a
distrustwhich he derived from a sort of hereditary
contempt of his enemyrather than from any present signs
which might warrant so uncharitable a feeling. Montcalm
waited patiently until this little dialogue in demi-voice
was endedwhen he drew nigherand opened the subject of
their conference.


I have solicited this interview from your superior,
monsieur,he saidbecause I believe he will allow himself
to be persuaded that he has already done everything which is
necessary for the honor of his prince, and will now listen
to the admonitions of humanity. I will forever bear
testimony that his resistance has been gallant, and was
continued as long as there was hope.

When this opening was translated to Munrohe answered with
dignitybut with sufficient courtesy:

However I may prize such testimony from Monsieur Montcalm,
it will be more valuable when it shall be better merited.

The French general smiledas Duncan gave him the purport of
this replyand observed:

What is now so freely accorded to approved courage, may be
refused to useless obstinacy. Monsieur would wish to see my
camp, and witness for himself our numbers, and the
impossibility of his resisting them with success?

I know that the king of France is well served,returned
the unmoved Scotsmanas soon as Duncan ended his
translation; "but my own royal master has as many and as
faithful troops."

Though not at hand, fortunately for us,said Montcalm
without waitingin his ardorfor the interpreter. "There
is a destiny in warto which a brave man knows how to
submit with the same courage that he faces his foes."

Had I been conscious that Monsieur Montcalm was master of
the English, I should have spared myself the trouble of so
awkward a translation,said the vexed Duncandryly;
remembering instantly his recent by-play with Munro.

Your pardon, monsieur,rejoined the Frenchmansuffering a
slight color to appear on his dark cheek. "There is a vast
difference between understanding and speaking a foreign
tongue; you willthereforeplease to assist me still."
Thenafter a short pausehe added: "These hills afford us
every opportunity of reconnoitering your worksmessieurs
and I am possibly as well acquainted with their weak
condition as you can be yourselves."

Ask the French general if his glasses can reach to the
Hudson,said Munroproudly; "and if he knows when and
where to expect the army of Webb."

Let General Webb be his own interpreter,returned the
politic Montcalmsuddenly extending an open letter toward
Munro as he spoke; "you will there learnmonsieurthat his
movements are not likely to prove embarrassing to my army."

The veteran seized the offered paperwithout waiting for
Duncan to translate the speechand with an eagerness that
betrayed how important he deemed its contents. As his eye
passed hastily over the wordshis countenance changed from
its look of military pride to one of deep chagrin; his lip
began to quiver; and suffering the paper to fall from his
handhis head dropped upon his chestlike that of a man
whose hopes were withered at a single blow. Duncan caught


the letter from the groundand without apology for the
liberty he tookhe read at a glance its cruel purport.
Their common superiorso far from encouraging them to
resistadvised a speedy surrenderurging in the plainest
languageas a reasonthe utter impossibility of his
sending a single man to their rescue.

Here is no deception!exclaimed Duncanexamining the
billet both inside and out; "this is the signature of Webb
and must be the captured letter."

The man has betrayed me!Munro at length bitterly
exclaimed; "he has brought dishonor to the door of one where
disgrace was never before known to dwelland shame has he
heaped heavily on my gray hairs."

Say not so,cried Duncan; "we are yet masters of the fort
and of our honor. Let usthensell our lives at such a
rate as shall make our enemies believe the purchase too
dear."

Boy, I thank thee,exclaimed the old manrousing himself
from his stupor; "you havefor oncereminded Munro of his
duty. We will go backand dig our graves behind those
ramparts."

Messieurs,said Montcalmadvancing toward them a stepin
generous interestyou little know Louis de St. Veran if
you believe him capable of profiting by this letter to
humble brave men, or to build up a dishonest reputation for
himself. Listen to my terms before you leave me.

What says the Frenchman?demanded the veteransternly;
does he make a merit of having captured a scout, with a
note from headquarters? Sir, he had better raise this
siege, to go and sit down before Edward if he wishes to
frighten his enemy with words.

Duncan explained the other's meaning.

Monsieur de Montcalm, we will hear you,the veteran added
more calmlyas Duncan ended.

To retain the fort is now impossible,said his liberal
enemy; "it is necessary to the interests of my master that
it should be destroyed; but as for yourselves and your brave
comradesthere is no privilege dear to a soldier that shall
be denied."

Our colors?demanded Heyward.

Carry them to England, and show them to your king.

Our arms?

Keep them; none can use them better.

Our march; the surrender of the place?

Shall all be done in a way most honorable to yourselves.

Duncan now turned to explain these proposals to his
commanderwho heard him with amazementand a sensibility
that was deeply touched by so unusual and unexpected


generosity.

Go you, Duncan,he said; "go with this marquessas
indeedmarquess he should be; go to his marquee and arrange
it all. I have lived to see two things in my old age that
never did I expect to behold. An Englishman afraid to
support a friendand a Frenchman too honest to profit by
his advantage."

So sayingthe veteran again dropped his head to his chest
and returned slowly toward the fortexhibitingby the
dejection of his airto the anxious garrisona harbinger
of evil tidings.

From the shock of this unexpected blow the haughty feelings
of Munro never recovered; but from that moment there
commenced a change in his determined characterwhich
accompanied him to a speedy grave. Duncan remained to
settle the terms of the capitulation. He was seen to reenter
the works during the first watches of the nightand
immediately after a private conference with the commandant
to leave them again. It was then openly announced that
hostilities must cease -- Munro having signed a treaty by
which the place was to be yielded to the enemywith the
morning; the garrison to retain their armsthe colors and
their baggageandconsequentlyaccording to military
opiniontheir honor.

CHAPTER 17

Weave we the woof. The thread is spun. The web is wove.
The work is done.--Gray

The hostile armieswhich lay in the wilds of the Horican
passed the night of the ninth of August1757much in the
manner they wouldhad they encountered on the fairest field
of Europe. While the conquered were stillsullenand
dejectedthe victors triumphed. But there are limits alike
to grief and joy; and long before the watches of the morning
came the stillness of those boundless woods was only broken
by a gay call from some exulting young Frenchman of the
advanced picketsor a menacing challenge from the fort
which sternly forbade the approach of any hostile footsteps
before the stipulated moment. Even these occasional
threatening sounds ceased to be heard in that dull hour
which precedes the dayat which period a listener might
have sought in vain any evidence of the presence of those
armed powers that then slumbered on the shores of the "holy
lake."

It was during these moments of deep silence that the canvas
which concealed the entrance to a spacious marquee in the
French encampment was shoved asideand a man issued from
beneath the drapery into the open air. He was enveloped in
a cloak that might have been intended as a protection from
the chilling damps of the woodsbut which served equally
well as a mantle to conceal his person. He was permitted to
pass the grenadierwho watched over the slumbers of the
French commanderwithout interruptionthe man making the
usual salute which betokens military deferenceas the other
passed swiftly through the little city of tentsin the
direction of William Henry. Whenever this unknown


individual encountered one of the numberless sentinels who
crossed his pathhis answer was promptandas it
appearedsatisfactory; for he was uniformly allowed to
proceed without further interrogation.

With the exception of such repeated but brief interruptions
he had moved silently from the center of the camp to its
most advanced outpostswhen he drew nigh the soldier who
held his watch nearest to the works of the enemy. As he
approached he was received with the usual challenge:

Qui vive?

France,was the reply.

Le mot d'ordre?

La victorie,said the otherdrawing so nigh as to be
heard in a loud whisper.

C'est bien,returned the sentinelthrowing his musket
from the charge to his shoulder; "vous promenez bien matin
monsieur!"

Il est necessaire d'etre vigilant, mon enfant,the other
observeddropping a fold of his cloakand looking the
soldier close in the face as he passed himstill continuing
his way toward the British fortification. The man started;
his arms rattled heavily as he threw them forward in the
lowest and most respectful salute; and when he had again
recovered his piecehe turned to walk his postmuttering
between his teeth:

Il faut etre vigilant, en verite! je crois que nous avons
la, un caporal qui ne dort jamais!

The officer proceededwithout affecting to hear the words
which escaped the sentinel in his surprise; nor did he again
pause until he had reached the low strandand in a somewhat
dangerous vicinity to the western water bastion of the fort.
The light of an obscure moon was just sufficient to render
objectsthough dimperceptible in their outlines. He
thereforetook the precaution to place himself against the
trunk of a treewhere he leaned for many minutesand
seemed to contemplate the dark and silent mounds of the
English works in profound attention. His gaze at the
ramparts was not that of a curious or idle spectator; but
his looks wandered from point to pointdenoting his
knowledge of military usagesand betraying that his search
was not unaccompanied by distrust. At length he appeared
satisfied; and having cast his eyes impatiently upward
toward the summit of the eastern mountainas if
anticipating the approach of the morninghe was in the act
of turning on his footstepswhen a light sound on the
nearest angle of the bastion caught his earand induced him
to remain.

Just then a figure was seen to approach the edge of the
rampartwhere it stoodapparently contemplating in its
turn the distant tents of the French encampment. Its head
was then turned toward the eastas though equally anxious
for the appearance of lightwhen the form leaned against
the moundand seemed to gaze upon the glassy expanse of the
waterswhichlike a submarine firmamentglittered with


its thousand mimic stars. The melancholy airthe hour
together with the vast frame of the man who thus leaned
musingagainst the English rampartsleft no doubt as to
his person in the mind of the observant spectator.
Delicacyno less than prudencenow urged him to retire;
and he had moved cautiously round the body of the tree for
that purposewhen another sound drew his attentionand
once more arrested his footsteps. It was a low and almost
inaudible movement of the waterand was succeeded by a
grating of pebbles one against the other. In a moment he
saw a dark form riseas it wereout of the lakeand steal
without further noise to the landwithin a few feet of the
place where he himself stood. A rifle next slowly rose
between his eyes and the watery mirror; but before it could
be discharged his own hand was on the lock.

Hugh!exclaimed the savagewhose treacherous aim was so
singularly and so unexpectedly interrupted.

Without making any replythe French officer laid his hand
on the shoulder of the Indianand led him in profound
silence to a distance from the spotwhere their subsequent
dialogue might have proved dangerousand where it seemed
that one of themat leastsought a victim. Then throwing
open his cloakso as to expose his uniform and the cross of
St. Louis which was suspended at his breastMontcalm
sternly demanded:

What means this? Does not my son know that the hatchet is
buried between the English and his Canadian Father?

What can the Hurons do?returned the savagespeaking
alsothough imperfectlyin the French language.

Not a warrior has a scalp, and the pale faces make
friends!

Ha, Le Renard Subtil! Methinks this is an excess of zeal
for a friend who was so late an enemy! How many suns have
set since Le Renard struck the war-post of the English?

Where is that sun?demanded the sullen savage. "Behind
the hill; and it is dark and cold. But when he comes again
it will be bright and warm. Le Subtil is the sun of his
tribe. There have been cloudsand many mountains between
him and his nation; but now he shines and it is a clear
sky!"

That Le Renard has power with his people, I well know,
said Montcalm; "for yesterday he hunted for their scalps
and to-day they hear him at the council-fire."

Magua is a great chief.

Let him prove it, by teaching his nation how to conduct
themselves toward our new friends.

Why did the chief of the Canadas bring his young men into
the woods, and fire his cannon at the earthen house?
demanded the subtle Indian.

To subdue it. My master owns the land, and your father was
ordered to drive off these English squatters. They have
consented to go, and now he calls them enemies no longer.


'Tis well. Magua took the hatchet to color it with blood.
It is now bright; when it is red, it shall be buried.

But Magua is pledged not to sully the lilies of France.
The enemies of the great king across the salt lake are his
enemies; his friends, the friends of the Hurons.

Friends!repeated the Indian in scorn. "Let his father
give Magua a hand."

Montcalmwho felt that his influence over the warlike
tribes he had gathered was to be maintained by concession
rather than by powercomplied reluctantly with the other's
request. The savage placed the fingers of the French
commander on a deep scar in his bosomand then exultingly
demanded:

Does my father know that?

What warrior does not? 'Tis where a leaden bullet has cut.

And this?continued the Indianwho had turned his naked
back to the otherhis body being without its usual calico
mantle.

This! -- my son has been sadly injured here; who has done
this?

Magua slept hard in the English wigwams, and the sticks
have left their mark,returned the savagewith a hollow
laughwhich did not conceal the fierce temper that nearly
choked him. Thenrecollecting himselfwith sudden and
native dignityhe added: "Go; teach your young men it is
peace. Le Renard Subtil knows how to speak to a Huron
warrior."

Without deigning to bestow further wordsor to wait for any
answerthe savage cast his rifle into the hollow of his

armand moved silently through the encampment toward the
woods where his own tribe was known to lie. Every few yards
as he proceeded he was challenged by the sentinels; but he
stalked sullenly onwardutterly disregarding the summons of
the soldierswho only spared his life because they knew the
air and tread no less than the obstinate daring of an
Indian.

Montcalm lingered long and melancholy on the strand where he
had been left by his companionbrooding deeply on the
temper which his ungovernable ally had just discovered.
Already had his fair fame been tarnished by one horrid
sceneand in circumstances fearfully resembling those under
which he now found himself. As he mused he became keenly
sensible of the deep responsibility they assume who
disregard the means to attain the endand of all the danger
of setting in motion an engine which it exceeds human power
to control. Then shaking off a train of reflections that he
accounted a weakness in such a moment of triumphhe
retraced his steps toward his tentgiving the order as he
passed to make the signal that should arouse the army from
its slumbers.

The first tap of the French drums was echoed from the bosom


of the fortand presently the valley was filled with the
strains of martial musicrising longthrilling and lively
above the rattling accompaniment. The horns of the victors
sounded merry and cheerful flourishesuntil the last
laggard of the camp was at his post; but the instant the
British fifes had blown their shrill signalthey became
mute. In the meantime the day had dawnedand when the line
of the French army was ready to receive its generalthe
rays of a brilliant sun were glancing along the glittering
array. Then that successwhich was already so well known
was officially announced; the favored band who were selected
to guard the gates of the fort were detailedand defiled
before their chief; the signal of their approach was given
and all the usual preparations for a change of masters were
ordered and executed directly under the guns of the
contested works.

A very different scene presented itself within the lines of
the Anglo-American army. As soon as the warning signal was
givenit exhibited all the signs of a hurried and forced
departure. The sullen soldiers shouldered their empty tubes
and fell into their placeslike men whose blood had been
heated by the past contestand who only desired the
opportunity to revenge an indignity which was still wounding
to their prideconcealed as it was under the observances of
military etiquette.

Women and children ran from place to placesome bearing the
scanty remnants of their baggageand others searching in
the ranks for those countenances they looked up to for
protection.

Munro appeared among his silent troops firm but dejected.
It was evident that the unexpected blow had struck deep into
his heartthough he struggled to sustain his misfortune
with the port of a man.

Duncan was touched at the quiet and impressive exhibition of
his grief. He had discharged his own dutyand he now
pressed to the side of the old manto know in what
particular he might serve him.

My daughters,was the brief but expressive reply.

Good heavens! are not arrangements already made for their
convenience?

To-day I am only a soldier, Major Heyward,said the
veteran. "All that you see hereclaim alike to be my
children."

Duncan had heard enough. Without losing one of those
moments which had now become so precioushe flew toward the
quarters of Munroin quest of the sisters. He found them
on the threshold of the low edificealready prepared to
departand surrounded by a clamorous and weeping assemblage
of their own sexthat had gathered about the placewith a
sort of instinctive consciousness that it was the point most
likely to be protected. Though the cheeks of Cora were pale
and her countenance anxiousshe had lost none of her
firmness; but the eyes of Alice were inflamedand betrayed
how long and bitterly she had wept. They bothhowever
received the young man with undisguised pleasure; the
formerfor a noveltybeing the first to speak.


The fort is lost,she saidwith a melancholy smile;
though our good name, I trust, remains.

'Tis brighter than ever. But, dearest Miss Munro, it is
time to think less of others, and to make some provision for
yourself. Military usage -- pride -- that pride on which
you so much value yourself, demands that your father and I
should for a little while continue with the troops. Then
where to seek a proper protector for you against the
confusion and chances of such a scene?

None is necessary,returned Cora; "who will dare to injure
or insult the daughter of such a fatherat a time like
this?"

I would not leave you alone,continued the youthlooking
about him in a hurried mannerfor the command of the best
regiment in the pay of the king. Remember, our Alice is not
gifted with all your firmness, and God only knows the terror
she might endure.

You may be right,Cora repliedsmiling againbut far
more sadly than before. "Listen! chance has already sent us
a friend when he is most needed."

Duncan did listenand on the instant comprehended her
meaning. The low and serious sounds of the sacred musicso
well known to the eastern provincescaught his earand
instantly drew him to an apartment in an adjacent building
which had already been deserted by its customary tenants.
There he found Davidpouring out his pious feelings through
the only medium in which he ever indulged. Duncan waited
untilby the cessation of the movement of the handhe
believed the strain was endedwhenby touching his
shoulderhe drew the attention of the other to himselfand
in a few words explained his wishes.

Even so,replied the single-minded disciple of the King of
Israelwhen the young man had ended; "I have found much
that is comely and melodious in the maidensand it is
fitting that we who have consorted in so much perilshould
abide together in peace. I will attend themwhen I have
completed my morning praiseto which nothing is now wanting
but the doxology. Wilt thou bear a partfriend? The meter
is commonand the tune 'Southwell'."

Thenextending the little volumeand giving the pitch of
the air anew with considerate attentionDavid recommenced
and finished his strainswith a fixedness of manner that it
was not easy to interrupt. Heyward was fain to wait until
the verse was ended; whenseeing David relieving himself
from the spectaclesand replacing the bookhe continued.

It will be your duty to see that none dare to approach the
ladies with any rude intention, or to offer insult or taunt
at the misfortune of their brave father. In this task you
will be seconded by the domestics of their household.

Even so.

It is possible that the Indians and stragglers of the enemy
may intrude, in which case you will remind them of the terms
of the capitulation, and threaten to report their conduct to


Montcalm. A word will suffice.

If not, I have that here which shall,returned David
exhibiting his bookwith an air in which meekness and
confidence were singularly blended. Here are words which
utteredor rather thunderedwith proper emphasisand in
measured timeshall quiet the most unruly temper:

'Why rage the heathen furiously'?

Enough,said Heywardinterrupting the burst of his
musical invocation; "we understand each other; it is time
that we should now assume our respective duties."

Gamut cheerfully assentedand together they sought the
females. Cora received her new and somewhat extraordinary
protector courteouslyat least; and even the pallid
features of Alice lighted again with some of their native
archness as she thanked Heyward for his care. Duncan took
occasion to assure them he had done the best that
circumstances permittedandas he believedquite enough
for the security of their feelings; of danger there was
none. He then spoke gladly of his intention to rejoin them
the moment he had led the advance a few miles toward the
Hudsonand immediately took his leave.

By this time the signal for departure had been givenand
the head of the English column was in motion. The sisters
started at the soundand glancing their eyes aroundthey
saw the white uniforms of the French grenadierswho had
already taken possession of the gates of the fort. At that
moment an enormous cloud seemed to pass suddenly above their
headsandlooking upwardthey discovered that they stood
beneath the wide folds of the standard of France.

Let us go,said Cora; "this is no longer a fit place for
the children of an English officer."

Alice clung to the arm of her sisterand together they left
the paradeaccompanied by the moving throng that surrounded
them.

As they passed the gatesthe French officerswho had
learned their rankbowed often and lowforbearing
howeverto intrude those attentions which they sawwith
peculiar tactmight not be agreeable. As every vehicle and
each beast of burden was occupied by the sick and wounded
Cora had decided to endure the fatigues of a foot march
rather than interfere with their comforts. Indeedmany a
maimed and feeble soldier was compelled to drag his
exhausted limbs in the rear of the columnsfor the want of
the necessary means of conveyance in that wilderness. The
wholehoweverwas in motion; the weak and wounded
groaning and in suffering; their comrades silent and sullen;
and the women and children in terrorthey knew not of what.

As the confused and timid throng left the protecting mounds
of the fortand issued on the open plainthe whole scene
was at once presented to their eyes. At a little distance
on the rightand somewhat in the rearthe French army
stood to their armsMontcalm having collected his parties
so soon as his guards had possession of the works. They
were attentive but silent observers of the proceedings of
the vanquishedfailing in none of the stipulated military


honorsand offering no taunt or insultin their success
to their less fortunate foes. Living masses of the English
to the amountin the wholeof near three thousandwere
moving slowly across the plaintoward the common center
and gradually approached each otheras they converged to
the point of their marcha vista cut through the lofty
treeswhere the road to the Hudson entered the forest.
Along the sweeping borders of the woods hung a dark cloud of
savageseyeing the passage of their enemiesand hovering
at a distancelike vultures who were only kept from
swooping on their prey by the presence and restraint of a
superior army. A few had straggled among the conquered
columnswhere they stalked in sullen discontent; attentive
thoughas yetpassive observers of the moving multitude.

The advancewith Heyward at its headhad already reached
the defileand was slowly disappearingwhen the attention
of Cora was drawn to a collection of stragglers by the
sounds of contention. A truant provincial was paying the
forfeit of his disobedienceby being plundered of those
very effects which had caused him to desert his place in the
ranks. The man was of powerful frameand too avaricious to
part with his goods without a struggle. Individuals from
either party interfered; the one side to prevent and the
other to aid in the robbery. Voices grew loud and angry
and a hundred savages appearedas it wereby magicwhere
a dozen only had been seen a minute before. It was then
that Cora saw the form of Magua gliding among his
countrymenand speaking with his fatal and artful
eloquence. The mass of women and children stoppedand
hovered together like alarmed and fluttering birds. But the
cupidity of the Indian was soon gratifiedand the different
bodies again moved slowly onward.

The savages now fell backand seemed content to let their
enemies advance without further molestation. Butas the
female crowd approached themthe gaudy colors of a shawl
attracted the eyes of a wild and untutored Huron. He
advanced to seize it without the least hesitation. The
womanmore in terror than through love of the ornament
wrapped her child in the coveted articleand folded both
more closely to her bosom. Cora was in the act of speaking
with an intent to advise the woman to abandon the trifle
when the savage relinquished his hold of the shawland tore
the screaming infant from her arms. Abandoning everything
to the greedy grasp of those around herthe mother darted
with distraction in her miento reclaim her child. The
Indian smiled grimlyand extended one handin sign of a
willingness to exchangewhilewith the otherhe
flourished the babe over his headholding it by the feet as
if to enhance the value of the ransom.

Here -- here -- there -- all -- any -- everything!
exclaimed the breathless womantearing the lighter articles
of dress from her person with ill-directed and trembling
fingers; "take allbut give me my babe!"

The savage spurned the worthless ragsand perceiving that
the shawl had already become a prize to anotherhis
bantering but sullen smile changing to a gleam of ferocity
he dashed the head of the infant against a rockand cast
its quivering remains to her very feet. For an instant the
mother stoodlike a statue of despairlooking wildly down
at the unseemly objectwhich had so lately nestled in her


bosom and smiled in her face; and then she raised her eyes
and countenance toward heavenas if calling on God to curse
the perpetrator of the foul deed. She was spared the sin of
such a prayer formaddened at his disappointmentand
excited at the sight of bloodthe Huron mercifully drove
his tomahawk into her own brain. The mother sank under the
blowand fellgrasping at her childin deathwith the
same engrossing love that had caused her to cherish it when
living.

At that dangerous momentMagua placed his hands to his
mouthand raised the fatal and appalling whoop. The
scattered Indians started at the well-known cryas coursers
bound at the signal to quit the goal; and directly there
arose such a yell along the plainand through the arches of
the woodas seldom burst from human lips before. They who
heard it listened with a curdling horror at the heart
little inferior to that dread which may be expected to
attend the blasts of the final summons.

More than two thousand raving savages broke from the forest
at the signaland threw themselves across the fatal plain
with instinctive alacrity. We shall not dwell on the
revolting horrors that succeeded. Death was everywhereand
in his most terrific and disgusting aspects. Resistance
only served to inflame the murdererswho inflicted their
furious blows long after their victims were beyond the power
of their resentment. The flow of blood might be likened to
the outbreaking of a torrent; and as the natives became
heated and maddened by the sightmany among them even
kneeled to the earthand drank freelyexultingly
hellishlyof the crimson tide.

The trained bodies of the troops threw themselves quickly
into solid massesendeavoring to awe their assailants by
the imposing appearance of a military front. The experiment
in some measure succeededthough far too many suffered
their unloaded muskets to be torn from their handsin the
vain hope of appeasing the savages.

In such a scene none had leisure to note the fleeting moments.
It might have been ten minutes (it seemed an age) that the
sisters had stood riveted to one spothorror-stricken and
nearly helpless. When the first blow was strucktheir
screaming companions had pressed upon them in a bodyrendering
flight impossible; and now that fear or death had scattered
mostif not allfrom around themthey saw no avenue open
but such as conducted to the tomahawks of their foes. On every
side arose shrieksgroansexhortations and curses. At this
momentAlice caught a glimpse of the vast form of her father
moving rapidly across the plainin the direction of the French
army. He wasin truthproceeding to Montcalmfearless of
every dangerto claim the tardy escort for which he had before
conditioned. Fifty glittering axes and barbed spears were
offered unheeded at his lifebut the savages respected his
rank and calmnesseven in their fury. The dangerous weapons
were brushed aside by the still nervous arm of the veteranor
fell of themselvesafter menacing an act that it would seem no
one had courage to perform. Fortunatelythe vindictive Magua
was searching for his victim in the very band the veteran had
just quitted.

Father -- father -- we are here!shrieked Aliceas he
passedat no great distancewithout appearing to heed


them. "Come to usfatheror we die!"

The cry was repeatedand in terms and tones that might have
melted a heart of stonebut it was unanswered. Once
indeedthe old man appeared to catch the soundfor he
paused and listened; but Alice had dropped senseless on the
earthand Cora had sunk at her sidehovering in untiring
tenderness over her lifeless form. Munro shook his head in
disappointmentand proceededbent on the high duty of his
station.

Lady,said Gamutwhohelpless and useless as he washad
not yet dreamed of deserting his trustit is the jubilee
of the devils, and this is not a meet place for Christians
to tarry in. Let us up and fly.

Go,said Corastill gazing at her unconscious sister;
save thyself. To me thou canst not be of further use.

David comprehended the unyielding character of her
resolutionby the simple but expressive gesture that
accompanied her words. He gazed for a moment at the dusky
forms that were acting their hellish rites on every side of
himand his tall person grew more erect while his chest
heavedand every feature swelledand seemed to speak with
the power of the feelings by which he was governed.

If the Jewish boy might tame the great spirit of Saul by
the sound of his harp, and the words of sacred song, it may
not be amiss,he saidto try the potency of music here.

Then raising his voice to its highest tonehe poured out a
strain so powerful as to be heard even amid the din of that
bloody field. More than one savage rushed toward them
thinking to rifle the unprotected sisters of their attire
and bear away their scalps; but when they found this strange
and unmoved figure riveted to his postthey paused to
listen. Astonishment soon changed to admirationand they
passed on to other and less courageous victimsopenly
expressing their satisfaction at the firmness with which the
white warrior sang his death song. Encouraged and deluded
by his successDavid exerted all his powers to extend what
he believed so holy an influence. The unwonted sounds
caught the ears of a distant savagewho flew raging from
group to grouplike one whoscorning to touch the vulgar
herdhunted for some victim more worthy of his renown. It
was Maguawho uttered a yell of pleasure when he beheld his
ancient prisoners again at his mercy.

Come,he saidlaying his soiled hands on the dress of
Corathe wigwam of the Huron is still open. Is it not
better than this place?

Away!cried Coraveiling her eyes from his revolting
aspect.

The Indian laughed tauntinglyas he held up his reeking
handand answered: "It is redbut it comes from white
veins!"

Monster! there is blood, oceans of blood, upon thy soul;
thy spirit has moved this scene.

Magua is a great chief!returned the exulting savage


will the dark-hair go to his tribe?

Never! strike if thou wilt, and complete thy revenge.He
hesitated a momentand then catching the light and
senseless form of Alice in his armsthe subtle Indian moved
swiftly across the plain toward the woods.

Hold!shrieked Corafollowing wildly on his footsteps;
release the child! wretch! what is't you do?

But Magua was deaf to her voice; orratherhe knew his
powerand was determined to maintain it.

Stay -- lady -- stay,called Gamutafter the unconscious
Cora. "The holy charm is beginning to be feltand soon
shalt thou see this horrid tumult stilled."

Perceiving thatin his turnhe was unheededthe faithful
David followed the distracted sisterraising his voice
again in sacred songand sweeping the air to the measure
with his long armin diligent accompaniment. In this
manner they traversed the plainthrough the flyingthe
wounded and the dead. The fierce Huron wasat any time
sufficient for himself and the victim that he bore; though
Cora would have fallen more than once under the blows of her
savage enemiesbut for the extraordinary being who stalked
in her rearand who now appeared to the astonished natives
gifted with the protecting spirit of madness.

Maguawho knew how to avoid the more pressing dangersand
also to elude pursuitentered the woods through a low
ravinewhere he quickly found the Narragansettswhich the
travelers had abandoned so shortly beforeawaiting his
appearancein custody of a savage as fierce and malign in
his expression as himself. Laying Alice on one of the
horseshe made a sign to Cora to mount the other.

Notwithstanding the horror excited by the presence of her
captorthere was a present relief in escaping from the
bloody scene enacting on the plainto which Cora could not
be altogether insensible. She took her seatand held forth
her arms for her sisterwith an air of entreaty and love
that even the Huron could not deny. Placing Alicethenon
the same animal with Corahe seized the bridleand
commenced his route by plunging deeper into the forest.
Davidperceiving that he was left aloneutterly
disregarded as a subject too worthless even to destroy
threw his long limb across the saddle of the beast they had
desertedand made such progress in the pursuit as the
difficulties of the path permitted.

They soon began to ascend; but as the motion had a tendency
to revive the dormant faculties of her sisterthe attention
of Cora was too much divided between the tenderest
solicitude in her behalfand in listening to the cries
which were still too audible on the plainto note the
direction in which they journeyed. Whenhoweverthey
gained the flattened surface of the mountain-topand
approached the eastern precipiceshe recognized the spot to
which she had once before been led under the more friendly
auspices of the scout. Here Magua suffered them to
dismount; and notwithstanding their own captivitythe
curiosity which seems inseparable from horrorinduced them
to gaze at the sickening sight below.


The cruel work was still unchecked. On every side the
captured were flying before their relentless persecutors
while the armed columns of the Christian king stood fast in
an apathy which has never been explainedand which has left
an immovable blot on the otherwise fair escutcheon of their
leader. Nor was the sword of death stayed until cupidity
got the mastery of revenge. Thenindeedthe shrieks of
the woundedand the yells of their murderers grew less
frequentuntilfinallythe cries of horror were lost to
their earor were drowned in the loudlong and piercing
whoops of the triumphant savages.

CHAPTER 18

Why, anything; An honorable murderer, if you will; For
naught I did in hate, but all in honor.--Othello

The bloody and inhuman scene rather incidentally mentioned
than described in the preceding chapteris conspicuous in
the pages of colonial history by the merited title of "The
Massacre of William Henry." It so far deepened the stain
which a previous and very similar event had left upon the
reputation of the French commander that it was not entirely
erased by his early and glorious death. It is now becoming
obscured by time; and thousandswho know that Montcalm died
like a hero on the plains of Abrahamhave yet to learn how
much he was deficient in that moral courage without which no
man can be truly great. Pages might yet be written to prove
from this illustrious examplethe defects of human
excellence; to show how easy it is for generous sentiments
high courtesyand chivalrous courage to lose their
influence beneath the chilling blight of selfishnessand to
exhibit to the world a man who was great in all the minor
attributes of characterbut who was found wanting when it
became necessary to prove how much principle is superior to
policy. But the task would exceed our prerogatives; andas
historylike loveis so apt to surround her heroes with an
atmosphere of imaginary brightnessit is probable that
Louis de Saint Veran will be viewed by posterity only as the
gallant defender of his countrywhile his cruel apathy on
the shores of the Oswego and of the Horican will be
forgotten. Deeply regretting this weakness on the part of a
sister musewe shall at once retire from her sacred
precinctswithin the proper limits of our own humble
vocation.

The third day from the capture of the fort was drawing to a
closebut the business of the narrative must still detain
the reader on the shores of the "holy lake." When last
seenthe environs of the works were filled with violence
and uproar. They were now possessed by stillness and death.
The blood-stained conquerors had departed; and their camp
which had so lately rung with the merry rejoicings of a
victorious armylay a silent and deserted city of huts.
The fortress was a smoldering ruin; charred rafters
fragments of exploded artilleryand rent mason-work
covering its earthen mounds in confused disorder.

A frightful change had also occurred in the season. The sun
had hid its warmth behind an impenetrable mass of vaporand
hundreds of human formswhich had blackened beneath the


fierce heats of Augustwere stiffening in their deformity
before the blasts of a premature November. The curling and
spotless mistswhich had been seen sailing above the hills
toward the northwere now returning in an interminable
dusky sheetthat was urged along by the fury of a tempest.
The crowded mirror of the Horican was gone; andin its
placethe green and angry waters lashed the shoresas if
indignantly casting back its impurities to the polluted
strand. Still the clear fountain retained a portion of its
charmed influencebut it reflected only the somber gloom
that fell from the impending heavens. That humid and
congenial atmosphere which commonly adorned the view
veiling its harshnessand softening its asperitieshad
disappearedthe northern air poured across the waste of
water so harsh and unmingledthat nothing was left to be
conjectured by the eyeor fashioned by the fancy.

The fiercer element had cropped the verdure of the plain
which looked as though it were scathed by the consuming
lightning. Buthere and therea dark green tuft rose in
the midst of the desolation; the earliest fruits of a soil
that had been fattened with human blood. The whole
landscapewhichseen by a favoring lightand in a genial
temperaturehad been found so lovelyappeared now like
some pictured allegory of lifein which objects were
arrayed in their harshest but truest colorsand without the
relief of any shadowing.

The solitary and arid blades of grass arose from the passing
gusts fearfully perceptible; the bold and rocky mountains
were too distinct in their barrennessand the eye even
sought reliefin vainby attempting to pierce the
illimitable void of heavenwhich was shut to its gaze by
the dusky sheet of ragged and driving vapor.

The wind blew unequally; sometimes sweeping heavily along
the groundseeming to whisper its moanings in the cold ears
of the deadthen rising in a shrill and mournful whistling
it entered the forest with a rush that filled the air with
the leaves and branches it scattered in its path. Amid the
unnatural showera few hungry ravens struggled with the
gale; but no sooner was the green ocean of woods which
stretched beneath thempassedthan they gladly stoppedat
randomto their hideous banquet.

In shortit was a scene of wildness and desolation; and it
appeared as if all who had profanely entered it had been
strickenat a blowby the relentless arm of death. But
the prohibition had ceased; and for the first time since the
perpetrators of those foul deeds which had assisted to
disfigure the scene were goneliving human beings had now
presumed to approach the place.

About an hour before the setting of the sunon the day
already mentionedthe forms of five men might have been
seen issuing from the narrow vista of treeswhere the path
to the Hudson entered the forestand advancing in the
direction of the ruined works. At first their progress was
slow and guardedas though they entered with reluctance
amid the horrors of the postor dreaded the renewal of its
frightful incidents. A light figure preceded the rest of
the partywith the caution and activity of a native;
ascending every hillock to reconnoiterand indicating by
gesturesto his companionsthe route he deemed it most


prudent to pursue. Nor were those in the rear wanting in
every caution and foresight known to forest warfare. One
among themhe also was an Indianmoved a little on one
flankand watched the margin of the woodswith eyes long
accustomed to read the smallest sign of danger. The
remaining three were whitethough clad in vestments
adaptedboth in quality and colorto their present
hazardous pursuit--that of hanging on the skirts of a
retiring army in the wilderness.

The effects produced by the appalling sights that constantly
arose in their path to the lake shorewere as different as
the characters of the respective individuals who composed
the party. The youth in front threw serious but furtive
glances at the mangled victimsas he stepped lightly across
the plainafraid to exhibit his feelingsand yet too
inexperienced to quell entirely their sudden and powerful
influence. His red associatehoweverwas superior to such
a weakness. He passed the groups of dead with a steadiness
of purposeand an eye so calmthat nothing but long and
inveterate practise could enable him to maintain. The
sensations produced in the minds of even the white men were
differentthough uniformly sorrowful. Onewhose gray
locks and furrowed lineamentsblending with a martial air
and treadbetrayedin spite of the disguise of a
woodsman's dressa man long experienced in scenes of war
was not ashamed to groan aloudwhenever a spectacle of more
than usual horror came under his view. The young man at his
elbow shudderedbut seemed to suppress his feelings in
tenderness to his companion. Of them allthe straggler who
brought up the rear appeared alone to betray his real
thoughtswithout fear of observation or dread of
consequences. He gazed at the most appalling sight with
eyes and muscles that knew not how to waverbut with
execrations so bitter and deep as to denote how much he
denounced the crime of his enemies.

The reader will perceive at oncein these respective
charactersthe Mohicansand their white friendthe scout;
together with Munro and Heyward. It wasin truththe
father in quest of his childrenattended by the youth who
felt so deep a stake in their happinessand those brave and
trusty foresterswho had already proved their skill and
fidelity through the trying scenes related.

When Uncaswho moved in fronthad reached the center of
the plainhe raised a cry that drew his companions in a
body to the spot. The young warrior had halted over a group
of females who lay in a clustera confused mass of dead.
Notwithstanding the revolting horror of the exhibition
Munro and Heyward flew toward the festering heap
endeavoringwith a love that no unseemliness could
extinguishto discover whether any vestiges of those they
sought were to be seen among the tattered and many-colored
garments. The father and the lover found instant relief in
the search; though each was condemned again to experience
the misery of an uncertainty that was hardly less
insupportable than the most revolting truth. They were
standingsilent and thoughtfularound the melancholy pile
when the scout approached. Eyeing the sad spectacle with an
angry countenancethe sturdy woodsmanfor the first time
since his entering the plainspoke intelligibly and aloud:

I have been on many a shocking field, and have followed a


trail of blood for weary miles,he saidbut never have I
found the hand of the devil so plain as it is here to be
seen! Revenge is an Indian feeling, and all who know me
know that there is no cross in my veins; but this much will
I say -- here, in the face of heaven, and with the power of
the Lord so manifest in this howling wilderness -- that
should these Frenchers ever trust themselves again within
the range of a ragged bullet, there is one rifle which shall
play its part so long as flint will fire or powder burn! I
leave the tomahawk and knife to such as have a natural gift
to use them. What say you, Chingachgook,he addedin
Delaware; "shall the Hurons boast of this to their women
when the deep snows come?"

A gleam of resentment flashed across the dark lineaments of
the Mohican chief; he loosened his knife in his sheath; and
then turning calmly from the sighthis countenance settled
into a repose as deep as if he knew the instigation of
passion.

Montcalm! Montcalm!continued the deeply resentful and
less self-restrained scout; "they say a time must come when
all the deeds done in the flesh will be seen at a single
look; and that by eyes cleared from mortal infirmities. Woe
betide the wretch who is born to behold this plainwith the
judgment hanging about his soul! Ha -- as I am a man of
white bloodyonder lies a red-skinwithout the hair of his
head where nature rooted it! Look to himDelaware; it may
be one of your missing people; and he should have burial
like a stout warrior. I see it in your eyeSagamore; a
Huron pays for thisafore the fall winds have blown away
the scent of the blood!"

Chingachgook approached the mutilated formandturning it
overhe found the distinguishing marks of one of those six
allied tribesor nationsas they were calledwhowhile
they fought in the English rankswere so deadly hostile to
his own people. Spurning the loathsome object with his
foothe turned from it with the same indifference he would
have quitted a brute carcass. The scout comprehended the
actionand very deliberately pursued his own way
continuinghoweverhis denunciations against the French
commander in the same resentful strain.

Nothing but vast wisdom and unlimited power should dare to
sweep off men in multitudes,he added; "for it is only the
one that can know the necessity of the judgment; and what is
thereshort of the otherthat can replace the creatures of
the Lord? I hold it a sin to kill the second buck afore the
first is eatenunless a march in frontor an ambushment
be contemplated. It is a different matter with a few
warriors in open and rugged fightfor 'tis their gift to
die with the rifle or the tomahawk in hand; according as
their natures may happen to bewhite or red. Uncascome
this wayladand let the ravens settle upon the Mingo. I
knowfrom often seeing itthat they have a craving for the
flesh of an Oneida; and it is as well to let the bird follow
the gift of its natural appetite."

Hugh!exclaimed the young Mohicanrising on the
extremities of his feetand gazing intently in his front
frightening the ravens to some other prey by the sound and
the action.


What is it, boy?whispered the scoutlowering his tall
form into a crouching attitudelike a panther about to take
his leap; "God send it be a tardy Frencherskulking for
plunder. I do believe 'killdeer' would take an uncommon
range today!"

Uncaswithout making any replybounded away from the spot
and in the next instant he was seen tearing from a bushand
waving in triumpha fragment of the green riding-veil of
Cora. The movementthe exhibitionand the cry which again
burst from the lips of the young Mohicaninstantly drew the
whole party about him.

My child!said Munrospeaking quickly and wildly; "give
me my child!"

Uncas will try,was the short and touching answer.

The simple but meaning assurance was lost on the fatherwho
seized the piece of gauzeand crushed it in his handwhile
his eyes roamed fearfully among the bushesas if he equally
dreaded and hoped for the secrets they might reveal.

Here are no dead,said Heyward; "the storm seems not to
have passed this way."

That's manifest; and clearer than the heavens above our
heads,returned the undisturbed scout; "but either sheor
they that have robbed herhave passed the bush; for I
remember the rag she wore to hide a face that all did love
to look upon. Uncasyou are right; the dark-hair has been
hereand she has fled like a frightened fawnto the wood;
none who could fly would remain to be murdered. Let us
search for the marks she left; forto Indian eyesI
sometimes think a humming-bird leaves his trail in the air."

The young Mohican darted away at the suggestionand the
scout had hardly done speakingbefore the former raised a
cry of success from the margin of the forest. On reaching
the spotthe anxious party perceived another portion of the
veil fluttering on the lower branch of a beech.

Softly, softly,said the scoutextending his long rifle
in front of the eager Heyward; "we now know our workbut
the beauty of the trail must not be deformed. A step too
soon may give us hours of trouble. We have themthough;
that much is beyond denial."

Bless ye, bless ye, worthy man!exclaimed Munro; "whither
thenhave they fledand where are my babes?"

The path they have taken depends on many chances. If they
have gone alone, they are quite as likely to move in a
circle as straight, and they may be within a dozen miles of
us; but if the Hurons, or any of the French Indians, have
laid hands on them, 'tis probably they are now near the
borders of the Canadas. But what matters that?continued
the deliberate scoutobserving the powerful anxiety and
disappointment the listeners exhibited; "here are the
Mohicans and I on one end of the trailandrely on itwe
find the otherthough they should be a hundred leagues
asunder! GentlygentlyUncasyou are as impatient as a
man in the settlements; you forget that light feet leave but
faint marks!"


Hugh!exclaimed Chingachgookwho had been occupied in
examining an opening that had been evidently made through
the low underbrush which skirted the forest; and who now
stood erectas he pointed downwardin the attitude and
with the air of a man who beheld a disgusting serpent.

Here is the palpable impression of the footstep of a man,
cried Heywardbending over the indicated spot; "he has trod
in the margin of this pooland the mark cannot be mistaken.
They are captives."

Better so than left to starve in the wilderness,returned
the scout; "and they will leave a wider trail. I would
wager fifty beaver skins against as many flintsthat the
Mohicans and I enter their wigwams within the month! Stoop
to itUncasand try what you can make of the moccasin; for
moccasin it plainly isand no shoe."

The young Mohican bent over the trackand removing the
scattered leaves from around the placehe examined it with
much of that sort of scrutiny that a money dealerin these
days of pecuniary doubtswould bestow on a suspected due-bill.
At length he arose from his kneessatisfied with the result
of the examination.

Well, boy,demanded the attentive scout; "what does it
say? Can you make anything of the tell-tale?"

Le Renard Subtil!

Ha! that rampaging devil again! there will never be an end
of his loping till 'killdeer' has said a friendly word to
him.

Heyward reluctantly admitted the truth of this intelligence
and now expressed rather his hopes than his doubts by
saying:

One moccasin is so much like another, it is probable there
is some mistake.

One moccasin like another! you may as well say that one
foot is like another; though we all know that some are long,
and others short; some broad and others narrow; some with
high, and some with low insteps; some intoed, and some out.
One moccasin is no more like another than one book is like
another: though they who can read in one are seldom able to
tell the marks of the other. Which is all ordered for the
best, giving to every man his natural advantages. Let me
get down to it, Uncas; neither book nor moccasin is the
worse for having two opinions, instead of one.The scout
stooped to the taskand instantly added:

You are right, boy; here is the patch we saw so often in
the other chase. And the fellow will drink when he can get
an opportunity; your drinking Indian always learns to walk
with a wider toe than the natural savage, it being the gift
of a drunkard to straddle, whether of white or red skin.
'Tis just the length and breadth, too! look at it, Sagamore;
you measured the prints more than once, when we hunted the
varmints from Glenn's to the health springs.

Chingachgook complied; and after finishing his short


examinationhe aroseand with a quiet demeanorhe merely
pronounced the word:

Magua!

Ay, 'tis a settled thing; here, then, have passed the
dark-hair and Magua.

And not Alice?demanded Heyward.

Of her we have not yet seen the signs,returned the scout
looking closely around at the treesthe bushes and the
ground. "What have we there? Uncasbring hither the thing
you see dangling from yonder thorn-bush."

When the Indian had compliedthe scout received the prize
and holding it on highhe laughed in his silent but
heartfelt manner.

'Tis the tooting we'pon of the singer! now we shall have a
trail a priest might travel,he said. "Uncaslook for the
marks of a shoe that is long enough to uphold six feet two
of tottering human flesh. I begin to have some hopes of the
fellowsince he has given up squalling to follow some
better trade."

At least he has been faithful to his trust,said Heyward.
And Cora and Alice are not without a friend.

Yes,said Hawkeyedropping his rifleand leaning on it
with an air of visible contempthe will do their singing.
Can he slay a buck for their dinner; journey by the moss on
the beeches, or cut the throat of a Huron? If not, the
first catbird* he meets is the cleverer of the two. Well,
boy, any signs of such a foundation?

* The powers of the American mocking-bird are
generally known. But the true mocking-bird is not found so
far north as the state of New Yorkwhere it hashowever
two substitutes of inferior excellencethe catbirdso
often named by the scoutand the bird vulgarly called
ground-thresher. Either of these last two birds is superior
to the nightingale or the larkthoughin generalthe
American birds are less musical than those of Europe.
Here is something like the footstep of one who has worn a
shoe; can it be that of our friend?

Touch the leaves lightly or you'll disconsart the
formation. That! that is the print of a foot, but 'tis the
dark-hair's; and small it is, too, for one of such a noble
height and grand appearance. The singer would cover it with
his heel.

Where! let me look on the footsteps of my child,said
Munroshoving the bushes asideand bending fondly over the
nearly obliterated impression. Though the tread which had
left the mark had been light and rapidit was still plainly
visible. The aged soldier examined it with eyes that grew
dim as he gazed; nor did he rise from this stooping posture
until Heyward saw that he had watered the trace of his
daughter's passage with a scalding tear. Willing to divert
a distress which threatened each moment to break through the
restraint of appearancesby giving the veteran something to


dothe young man said to the scout:

As we now possess these infallible signs, let us commence
our march. A moment, at such a time, will appear an age to
the captives.

It is not the swiftest leaping deer that gives the longest
chase,returned Hawkeyewithout moving his eyes from the
different marks that had come under his view; "we know that
the rampaging Huron has passedand the dark-hairand the
singerbut where is she of the yellow locks and blue eyes?
Though littleand far from being as bold as her sistershe
is fair to the viewand pleasant in discourse. Has she no
friendthat none care for her?"

God forbid she should ever want hundreds! Are we not now
in her pursuit? For one, I will never cease the search till
she be found.

In that case we may have to journey by different paths; for
here she has not passed, light and little as her footsteps
would be.

Heyward drew backall his ardor to proceed seeming to
vanish on the instant. Without attending to this sudden
change in the other's humorthe scout after musing a moment
continued:

There is no woman in this wilderness could leave such a
print as that, but the dark-hair or her sister. We know
that the first has been here, but where are the signs of the
other? Let us push deeper on the trail, and if nothing
offers, we must go back to the plain and strike another
scent. Move on, Uncas, and keep your eyes on the dried
leaves. I will watch the bushes, while your father shall
run with a low nose to the ground. Move on, friends; the
sun is getting behind the hills.

Is there nothing that I can do?demanded the anxious
Heyward.

You?repeated the scoutwhowith his red friendswas
already advancing in the order he had prescribed; "yesyou
can keep in our rear and be careful not to cross the trail."

Before they had proceeded many rodsthe Indians stopped
and appeared to gaze at some signs on the earth with more
than their usual keenness. Both father and son spoke quick
and loudnow looking at the object of their mutual
admirationand now regarding each other with the most
unequivocal pleasure.

They have found the little foot!exclaimed the scout
moving forwardwithout attending further to his own portion
of the duty. "What have we here? An ambushment has been
planted in the spot! Noby the truest rifle on the
frontiershere have been them one-sided horses again! Now
the whole secret is outand all is plain as the north star
at midnight. Yeshere they have mounted. There the beasts
have been bound to a saplingin waiting; and yonder runs
the broad path away to the northin full sweep for the
Canadas."

But still there are no signs of Alice, of the younger Miss


Munro,said Duncan.

Unless the shining bauble Uncas has just lifted from the
ground should prove one. Pass it this way, lad, that we may
look at it.

Heyward instantly knew it for a trinket that Alice was fond
of wearingand which he recollectedwith the tenacious
memory of a loverto have seenon the fatal morning of the
massacredangling from the fair neck of his mistress. He
seized the highly prized jewel; and as he proclaimed the
factit vanished from the eyes of the wondering scoutwho
in vain looked for it on the groundlong after it was
warmly pressed against the beating heart of Duncan.

Pshaw!said the disappointed Hawkeyeceasing to rake the
leaves with the breech of his rifle; "'tis a certain sign of
agewhen the sight begins to weaken. Such a glittering
gewgawand not to be seen! WellwellI can squint along
a clouded barrel yetand that is enough to settle all
disputes between me and the Mingoes. I should like to find
the thingtooif it were only to carry it to the right
ownerand that would be bringing the two ends of what I
call a long trail togetherfor by this time the broad St.
Lawrenceor perhapsthe Great Lakes themselvesare
between us."

So much the more reason why we should not delay our march,
returned Heyward; "let us proceed."

Young blood and hot blood, they say, are much the same
thing. We are not about to start on a squirrel hunt, or to
drive a deer into the Horican, but to outlie for days and
nights, and to stretch across a wilderness where the feet of
men seldom go, and where no bookish knowledge would carry
you through harmless. An Indian never starts on such an
expedition without smoking over his council-fire; and,
though a man of white blood, I honor their customs in this
particular, seeing that they are deliberate and wise. We
will, therefore, go back, and light our fire to-night in the
ruins of the old fort, and in the morning we shall be fresh,
and ready to undertake our work like men, and not like
babbling women or eager boys.

Heyward sawby the manner of the scoutthat altercation
would be useless. Munro had again sunk into that sort of
apathy which had beset him since his late overwhelming
misfortunesand from which he was apparently to be roused
only by some new and powerful excitement. Making a merit of
necessitythe young man took the veteran by the armand
followed in the footsteps of the Indians and the scoutwho
had already begun to retrace the path which conducted them
to the plain.

CHAPTER 19

Salar.--Why, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not
take his flesh; what's that good for? Shy.--To bait fish
withal; if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my
revenge.--Merchant of Venice

The shades of evening had come to increase the dreariness of


the placewhen the party entered the ruins of William
Henry. The scout and his companions immediately made their
preparations to pass the night there; but with an
earnestness and sobriety of demeanor that betrayed how much
the unusual horrors they had just witnessed worked on even
their practised feelings. A few fragments of rafters were
reared against a blackened wall; and when Uncas had covered
them slightly with brushthe temporary accommodations were
deemed sufficient. The young Indian pointed toward his
rude hut when his labor was ended; and Heywardwho
understood the meaning of the silent gesturesgently urged
Munro to enter. Leaving the bereaved old man alone with his
sorrowsDuncan immediately returned into the open airtoo
much excited himself to seek the repose he had recommended
to his veteran friend.

While Hawkeye and the Indians lighted their fire and took
their evening's repasta frugal meal of dried bear's meat
the young man paid a visit to that curtain of the
dilapidated fort which looked out on the sheet of the
Horican. The wind had fallenand the waves were already
rolling on the sandy beach beneath himin a more regular
and tempered succession. The cloudsas if tired of their
furious chasewere breaking asunder; the heavier volumes
gathering in black masses about the horizonwhile the
lighter scud still hurried above the wateror eddied among
the tops of the mountainslike broken flights of birds
hovering around their roosts. Here and therea red and
fiery star struggled through the drifting vaporfurnishing
a lurid gleam of brightness to the dull aspect of the
heavens. Within the bosom of the encircling hillsan
impenetrable darkness had already settled; and the plain lay
like a vast and deserted charnel-housewithout omen or
whisper to disturb the slumbers of its numerous and hapless
tenants.

Of this sceneso chillingly in accordance with the past
Duncan stood for many minutes a rapt observer. His eyes
wandered from the bosom of the moundwhere the foresters
were seated around their glimmering fireto the fainter
light which still lingered in the skiesand then rested
long and anxiously on the embodied gloomwhich lay like a
dreary void on that side of him where the dead reposed. He
soon fancied that inexplicable sounds arose from the place
though so indistinct and stolenas to render not only their
nature but even their existence uncertain. Ashamed of his
apprehensionsthe young man turned toward the waterand
strove to divert his attention to the mimic stars that dimly
glimmered on its moving surface. Stillhis too-conscious
ears performed their ungrateful dutyas if to warn him of
some lurking danger. At lengtha swift trampling seemed
quite audiblyto rush athwart the darkness. Unable any
longer to quiet his uneasinessDuncan spoke in a low voice
to the scoutrequesting him to ascend the mound to the
place where he stood. Hawkeye threw his rifle across an arm
and compliedbut with an air so unmoved and calmas to
prove how much he counted on the security of their position.

Listen!said Duncanwhen the other placed himself
deliberately at his elbow; "there are suppressed noises on
the plain which may show Montcalm has not yet entirely
deserted his conquest."

Then ears are better than eyes,said the undisturbed


scoutwhohaving just deposited a portion of a bear
between his grindersspoke thick and slowlike one whose
mouth was doubly occupied. "I myself saw him caged in Ty
with all his host; for your Frencherswhen they have done a
clever thinglike to get backand have a danceor a
merry-makingwith the women over their success."

I know not. An Indian seldom sleeps in war, and plunder
may keep a Huron here after his tribe has departed. It
would be well to extinguish the fire, and have a watch -listen!
you hear the noise I mean!

An Indian more rarely lurks about the graves. Though ready
to slay, and not over regardful of the means, he is commonly
content with the scalp, unless when blood is hot, and temper
up; but after spirit is once fairly gone, he forgets his
enmity, and is willing to let the dead find their natural
rest. Speaking of spirits, major, are you of opinion that
the heaven of a red-skin and of us whites will be of one and
the same?

No doubt -- no doubt. I thought I heard it again! or was
it the rustling of the leaves in the top of the beech?

For my own part,continued Hawkeyeturning his face for a
moment in the direction indicated by Heywardbut with a
vacant and careless mannerI believe that paradise is
ordained for happiness; and that men will be indulged in it
according to their dispositions and gifts. I, therefore,
judge that a red-skin is not far from the truth when he
believes he is to find them glorious hunting grounds of
which his traditions tell; nor, for that matter, do I think
it would be any disparagement to a man without a cross to
pass his time --

You hear it again?interrupted Duncan.

Ay, ay; when food is scarce, and when food is plenty, a
wolf grows bold,said the unmoved scout. "There would be
pickingtooamong the skins of the devilsif there was
light and time for the sport. Butconcerning the life that
is to comemajor; I have heard preachers sayin the
settlementsthat heaven was a place of rest. Nowmen's
minds differ as to their ideas of enjoyment. For myself
and I say it with reverence to the ordering of Providence
it would be no great indulgence to be kept shut up in those
mansions of which they preachhaving a natural longing for
motion and the chase."

Duncanwho was now made to understand the nature of the
noise he had heardansweredwith more attention to the
subject which the humor of the scout had chosen for
discussionby saying:

It is difficult to account for the feelings that may attend
the last great change.

It would be a change, indeed, for a man who has passed his
days in the open air,returned the single-minded scout;
and who has so often broken his fast on the head waters of
the Hudson, to sleep within sound of the roaring Mohawk.
But it is a comfort to know we serve a merciful Master,
though we do it each after his fashion, and with great
tracts of wilderness atween us -- what goes there?


Is it not the rushing of the wolves you have mentioned?

Hawkeye slowly shook his headand beckoned for Duncan to
follow him to a spot to which the glare from the fire did
not extend. When he had taken this precautionthe scout
placed himself in an attitude of intense attention and
listened long and keenly for a repetition of the low sound
that had so unexpectedly startled him. His vigilance
howeverseemed exercised in vain; for after a fruitless
pausehe whispered to Duncan:

We must give a call to Uncas. The boy has Indian senses,
and he may hear what is hid from us; for, being a white-skin,
I will not deny my nature.

The young Mohicanwho was conversing in a low voice with
his fatherstarted as he heard the moaning of an owland
springing on his feethe looked toward the black moundsas
if seeking the place whence the sounds proceeded. The scout
repeated the calland in a few momentsDuncan saw the
figure of Uncas stealing cautiously along the rampartto
the spot where they stood.

Hawkeye explained his wishes in a very few wordswhich were
spoken in the Delaware tongue. So soon as Uncas was in
possession of the reason why he was summonedhe threw
himself flat on the turf; whereto the eyes of Duncanhe
appeared to lie quiet and motionless. Surprised at the
immovable attitude of the young warriorand curious to
observe the manner in which he employed his faculties to
obtain the desired informationHeyward advanced a few
stepsand bent over the dark object on which he had kept
his eye riveted. Then it was he discovered that the form of
Uncas vanishedand that he beheld only the dark outline of
an inequality in the embankment.

What has become of the Mohican?he demanded of the scout
stepping back in amazement; "it was here that I saw him
falland could have sworn that here he yet remained."

Hist! speak lower; for we know not what ears are open, and
the Mingoes are a quick-witted breed. As for Uncas, he is
out on the plain, and the Maquas, if any such are about us,
will find their equal.

You think that Montcalm has not called off all his Indians?
Let us give the alarm to our companions, that we may stand
to our arms. Here are five of us, who are not unused to
meet an enemy.

Not a word to either, as you value your life. Look at the
Sagamore, how like a grand Indian chief he sits by the fire.
If there are any skulkers out in the darkness, they will
never discover, by his countenance, that we suspect danger
at hand.

But they may discover him, and it will prove his death.
His person can be too plainly seen by the light of that
fire, and he will become the first and most certain victim.

It is undeniable that now you speak the truth,returned
the scoutbetraying more anxiety than was usual; "yet what
can be done? A single suspicious look might bring on an


attack before we are ready to receive it. He knowsby the
call I gave to Uncasthat we have struck a scent; I will
tell him that we are on the trail of the Mingoes; his Indian
nature will teach him how to act."

The scout applied his fingers to his mouthand raised a low
hissing soundthat caused Duncan at first to start aside
believing that he heard a serpent. The head of Chingachgook
was resting on a handas he sat musing by himself but the
moment he had heard the warning of the animal whose name he
borehe arose to an upright positionand his dark eyes
glanced swiftly and keenly on every side of him. With his
sudden andperhapsinvoluntary movementevery appearance
of surprise or alarm ended. His rifle lay untouchedand
apparently unnoticedwithin reach of his hand. The
tomahawk that he had loosened in his belt for the sake of
easewas even suffered to fall from its usual situation to
the groundand his form seemed to sinklike that of a man
whose nerves and sinews were suffered to relax for the
purpose of rest. Cunningly resuming his former position
though with a change of handsas if the movement had been
made merely to relieve the limbthe native awaited the
result with a calmness and fortitude that none but an Indian
warrior would have known how to exercise.

But Heyward saw that while to a less instructed eye the
Mohican chief appeared to slumberhis nostrils were
expandedhis head was turned a little to one sideas if to
assist the organs of hearingand that his quick and rapid
glances ran incessantly over every object within the power
of his vision.

See the noble fellow!whispered Hawkeyepressing the arm
of Heyward; "he knows that a look or a motion might
disconsart our schemesand put us at the mercy of them imps --"

He was interrupted by the flash and report of a rifle. The
air was filled with sparks of firearound that spot where
the eyes of Heyward were still fastenedwith admiration and
wonder. A second look told him that Chingachgook had
disappeared in the confusion. In the meantimethe scout
had thrown forward his riflelike one prepared for service
and awaited impatiently the moment when an enemy might rise
to view. But with the solitary and fruitless attempt made
on the life of Chingachgookthe attack appeared to have
terminated. Once or twice the listeners thought they could
distinguish the distant rustling of bushesas bodies of
some unknown description rushed through them; nor was it
long before Hawkeye pointed out the "scampering of the
wolves as they fled precipitately before the passage of
some intruder on their proper domains. After an impatient
and breathless pause, a plunge was heard in the water, and
it was immediately followed by the report of another rifle.

There goes Uncas!" said the scout; "the boy bears a smart
piece! I know its crackas well as a father knows the
language of his childfor I carried the gun myself until a
better offered."

What can this mean?demanded Duncanwe are watched, and,
as it would seem, marked for destruction.

Yonder scattered brand can witness that no good was
intended, and this Indian will testify that no harm has been


done,returned the scoutdropping his rifle across his arm
againand following Chingachgookwho just then reappeared
within the circle of lightinto the bosom of the work.
How is it, Sagamore? Are the Mingoes upon us in earnest,
or is it only one of those reptiles who hang upon the skirts
of a war-party, to scalp the dead, go in, and make their
boast among the squaws of the valiant deeds done on the pale
faces?

Chingachgook very quietly resumed his seat; nor did he make
any replyuntil after he had examined the firebrand which
had been struck by the bullet that had nearly proved fatal
to himself. After which he was content to replyholding a
single finger up to viewwith the English monosyllable:

One.

I thought as much,returned Hawkeyeseating himself; "and
as he had got the cover of the lake afore Uncas pulled upon
himit is more than probable the knave will sing his lies
about some great ambushmentin which he was outlying on the
trail of two Mohicans and a white hunter -- for the officers
can be considered as little better than idlers in such a
scrimmage. Welllet him -- let him. There are always some
honest men in every nationthough heaven knowstoothat
they are scarce among the Maquasto look down an upstart
when he brags ag'in the face of reason. The varlet sent his
lead within whistle of your earsSagamore."

Chingachgook turned a calm and incurious eye toward the
place where the ball had struckand then resumed his former
attitudewith a composure that could not be disturbed by so
trifling an incident. Just then Uncas glided into the
circleand seated himself at the firewith the same
appearance of indifference as was maintained by his father.

Of these several moments Heyward was a deeply interested and
wondering observer. It appeared to him as though the
foresters had some secret means of intelligencewhich had
escaped the vigilance of his own faculties. In place of
that eager and garrulous narration with which a white youth
would have endeavored to communicateand perhaps
exaggeratethat which had passed out in the darkness of the
plainthe young warrior was seemingly content to let his
deeds speak for themselves. It wasin factneither the
moment nor the occasion for an Indian to boast of his
exploits; and it is probably thathad Heyward neglected to
inquirenot another syllable wouldjust thenhave been
uttered on the subject.

What has become of our enemy, Uncas?demanded Duncan; "we
heard your rifleand hoped you had not fired in vain."

The young chief removed a fold of his hunting skirtand
quietly exposed the fatal tuft of hairwhich he bore as the
symbol of victory. Chingachgook laid his hand on the scalp
and considered it for a moment with deep attention. Then
dropping itwith disgust depicted in his strong features
he ejaculated:

Oneida!

Oneida!repeated the scoutwho was fast losing his
interest in the scenein an apathy nearly assimilated to


that of his red associatesbut who now advanced in uncommon
earnestness to regard the bloody badge. "By the Lordif
the Oneidas are outlying upon the trailwe shall by flanked
by devils on every side of us! Nowto white eyes there is
no difference between this bit of skin and that of any other
Indianand yet the Sagamore declares it came from the poll
of a Mingo; nayhe even names the tribe of the poor devil
with as much ease as if the scalp was the leaf of a book
and each hair a letter. What right have Christian whites to
boast of their learningwhen a savage can read a language
that would prove too much for the wisest of them all! What
say youladof what people was the knave?"

Uncas raised his eyes to the face of the scoutand
answeredin his soft voice:

Oneida.

Oneida, again! when one Indian makes a declaration it is
commonly true; but when he is supported by his people, set
it down as gospel!

The poor fellow has mistaken us for French,said Heyward;
or he would not have attempted the life of a friend.

He mistake a Mohican in his paint for a Huron! You would
be as likely to mistake the white-coated grenadiers of
Montcalm for the scarlet jackets of the Royal Americans,
returned the scout. "Nonothe sarpent knew his errand;
nor was there any great mistake in the matterfor there is
but little love atween a Delaware and a Mingolet their
tribes go out to fight for whom they mayin a white
quarrel. For that matterthough the Oneidas do serve his
sacred majestywho is my sovereign lord and masterI
should not have deliberated long about letting off
'killdeer' at the imp myselfhad luck thrown him in my
way."

That would have been an abuse of our treaties, and unworthy
of your character.

When a man consort much with a people,continued Hawkeye
if they were honest and he no knave, love will grow up
atwixt them. It is true that white cunning has managed to
throw the tribes into great confusion, as respects friends
and enemies; so that the Hurons and the Oneidas, who speak
the same tongue, or what may be called the same, take each
other's scalps, and the Delawares are divided among
themselves; a few hanging about their great council-fire on
their own river, and fighting on the same side with the
Mingoes while the greater part are in the Canadas, out of
natural enmity to the Maquas -- thus throwing everything
into disorder, and destroying all the harmony of warfare.
Yet a red natur' is not likely to alter with every shift of
policy; so that the love atwixt a Mohican and a Mingo is
much like the regard between a white man and a sarpent.

I regret to hear it; for I had believed those natives who
dwelt within our boundaries had found us too just and
liberal, not to identify themselves fully with our
quarrels.

Why, I believe it is natur' to give a preference to one's
own quarrels before those of strangers. Now, for myself, I


do love justice; and, therefore, I will not say I hate a
Mingo, for that may be unsuitable to my color and my
religion, though I will just repeat, it may have been owing
to the night that 'killdeer' had no hand in the death of
this skulking Oneida.

Thenas if satisfied with the force of his own reasons
whatever might be their effect on the opinions of the other
disputantthe honest but implacable woodsman turned from
the firecontent to let the controversy slumber. Heyward
withdrew to the ramparttoo uneasy and too little
accustomed to the warfare of the woods to remain at ease
under the possibility of such insidious attacks. Not so
howeverwith the scout and the Mohicans. Those acute and
long-practised senseswhose powers so often exceed the
limits of all ordinary credulityafter having detected the
dangerhad enabled them to ascertain its magnitude and
duration. Not one of the three appeared in the least to
doubt their perfect securityas was indicated by the
preparations that were soon made to sit in council over
their future proceedings.

The confusion of nationsand even of tribesto which
Hawkeye alludedexisted at that period in the fullest
force. The great tie of languageandof courseof a
common originwas severed in many places; and it was one of
its consequencesthat the Delaware and the Mingo (as the
people of the Six Nations were called) were found fighting
in the same rankswhile the latter sought the scalp of the
Huronthough believed to be the root of his own stock. The
Delawares were even divided among themselves. Though love
for the soil which had belonged to his ancestors kept the
Sagamore of the Mohicans with a small band of followers who
were serving at Edwardunder the banners of the English
kingby far the largest portion of his nation were known to
be in the field as allies of Montcalm. The reader probably
knowsif enough has not already been gleaned form this
narrativethat the Delawareor Lenapeclaimed to be the
progenitors of that numerous peoplewho once were masters
of most of the eastern and northern states of Americaof
whom the community of the Mohicans was an ancient and highly
honored member.

It wasof coursewith a perfect understanding of the
minute and intricate interests which had armed friend
against friendand brought natural enemies to combat by
each other's sidethat the scout and his companions now
disposed themselves to deliberate on the measures that were
to govern their future movementsamid so many jarring and
savage races of men. Duncan knew enough of Indian customs
to understand the reason that the fire was replenishedand
why the warriorsnot excepting Hawkeyetook their seats
within the curl of its smoke with so much gravity and
decorum. Placing himself at an angle of the workswhere he
might be a spectator of the scene withouthe awaited the
result with as much patience as he could summon.

After a short and impressive pauseChingachgook lighted a
pipe whose bowl was curiously carved in one of the soft
stones of the countryand whose stem was a tube of wood
and commenced smoking. When he had inhaled enough of the
fragrance of the soothing weedhe passed the instrument
into the hands of the scout. In this manner the pipe had
made its rounds three several timesamid the most profound


silencebefore either of the party opened his lips. Then
the Sagamoreas the oldest and highest in rankin a few
calm and dignified wordsproposed the subject for
deliberation. He was answered by the scout; and
Chingachgook rejoinedwhen the other objected to his
opinions. But the youthful Uncas continued a silent and
respectful listeneruntil Hawkeyein complaisance
demanded his opinion. Heyward gathered from the manners of
the different speakersthat the father and son espoused one
side of a disputed questionwhile the white man maintained
the other. The contest gradually grew warmeruntil it was
quite evident the feelings of the speakers began to be
somewhat enlisted in the debate.

Notwithstanding the increasing warmth of the amicable
contestthe most decorous Christian assemblynot even
excepting those in which its reverend ministers are
collectedmight have learned a wholesome lesson of
moderation from the forbearance and courtesy of the
disputants. The words of Uncas were received with the same
deep attention as those which fell from the maturer wisdom
of his father; and so far from manifesting any impatience
neither spoke in replyuntil a few moments of silent
meditation wereseeminglybestowed in deliberating on what
had already been said.

The language of the Mohicans was accompanied by gestures so
direct and natural that Heyward had but little difficulty in
following the thread of their argument. On the other hand
the scout was obscure; because from the lingering pride of
colorhe rather affected the cold and artificial manner
which characterizes all classes of Anglo-Americans when
unexcited. By the frequency with which the Indians
described the marks of a forest trialit was evident they
urged a pursuit by landwhile the repeated sweep of
Hawkeye's arm toward the Horican denoted that he was for a
passage across its waters.

The latter was to every appearance fast losing groundand
the point was about to be decided against himwhen he arose
to his feetand shaking off his apathyhe suddenly assumed
the manner of an Indianand adopted all the arts of native
eloquence. Elevating an armhe pointed out the track of
the sunrepeating the gesture for every day that was
necessary to accomplish their objects. Then he delineated a
long and painful pathamid rocks and water-courses. The
age and weakness of the slumbering and unconscious Munro
were indicated by signs too palpable to be mistaken. Duncan
perceived that even his own powers were spoken lightly of
as the scout extended his palmand mentioned him by the
appellation of the "Open Hand" -- a name his liberality had
purchased of all the friendly tribes. Then came a
representation of the light and graceful movements of a
canoeset in forcible contrast to the tottering steps of
one enfeebled and tired. He concluded by pointing to the
scalp of the Oneidaand apparently urging the necessity of
their departing speedilyand in a manner that should leave
no trail.

The Mohicans listened gravelyand with countenances that
reflected the sentiments of the speaker. Conviction
gradually wrought its influenceand toward the close of
Hawkeye's speechhis sentences were accompanied by the
customary exclamation of commendation. In shortUncas and


his father became converts to his way of thinking
abandoning their own previously expressed opinions with a
liberality and candor thathad they been the
representatives of some great and civilized peoplewould
have infallibly worked their political ruinby destroying
forever their reputation for consistency.

The instant the matter in discussion was decidedthe
debateand everything connected with itexcept the result
appeared to be forgotten. Hawkeyewithout looking round to
read his triumph in applauding eyesvery composedly
stretched his tall frame before the dying embersand closed
his own organs in sleep.

Left now in a measure to themselvesthe Mohicanswhose
time had been so much devoted to the interests of others
seized the moment to devote some attention to themselves.
Casting off at once the grave and austere demeanor of an
Indian chiefChingachgook commenced speaking to his son in
the soft and playful tones of affection. Uncas gladly met
the familiar air of his father; and before the hard
breathing of the scout announced that he slepta complete
change was effected in the manner of his two associates.

It is impossible to describe the music of their language
while thus engaged in laughter and endearmentsin such a
way as to render it intelligible to those whose ears have
never listened to its melody. The compass of their voices
particularly that of the youthwas wonderful--extending
from the deepest bass to tones that were even feminine in
softness. The eyes of the father followed the plastic and
ingenious movements of the son with open delightand he
never failed to smile in reply to the other's contagious but
low laughter. While under the influence of these gentle and
natural feelingsno trace of ferocity was to be seen in the
softened features of the Sagamore. His figured panoply of
death looked more like a disguise assumed in mockery than a
fierce annunciation of a desire to carry destruction in his
footsteps.

After an hour had passed in the indulgence of their better
feelingsChingachgook abruptly announced his desire to
sleepby wrapping his head in his blanket and stretching
his form on the naked earth. The merriment of Uncas
instantly ceased; and carefully raking the coals in such a
manner that they should impart their warmth to his father's
feetthe youth sought his own pillow among the ruins of the
place.

Imbibing renewed confidence from the security of these
experienced forestersHeyward soon imitated their example;
and long before the night had turnedthey who lay in the
bosom of the ruined workseemed to slumber as heavily as
the unconscious multitude whose bones were already beginning
to bleach on the surrounding plain.

CHAPTER 20

Land of Albania! let me bend mine eyes On thee; thou rugged
nurse of savage men!--Childe Harold

The heavens were still studded with starswhen Hawkeye came


to arouse the sleepers. Casting aside their cloaks Munro
and Heyward were on their feet while the woodsman was still
making his low callsat the entrance of the rude shelter
where they had passed the night. When they issued from
beneath its concealmentthey found the scout awaiting their
appearance nigh byand the only salutation between them was
the significant gesture for silencemade by their sagacious
leader.

Think over your prayers,he whisperedas they approached
him; "for He to whom you make themknows all tongues; that
of the heartas well as those of the mouth. But speak not
a syllable; it is rare for a white voice to pitch itself
properly in the woodsas we have seen by the example of
that miserable devilthe singer. Come he continued,
turning toward a curtain of the works; let us get into the
ditch on this sideand be regardful to step on the stones
and fragments of wood as you go."

His companions compliedthough to two of them the reasons
of this extraordinary precaution were yet a mystery. When
they were in the low cavity that surrounded the earthen fort
on three sidesthey found that passage nearly choked by the
ruins. With care and patiencehoweverthey succeeded in
clambering after the scoutuntil they reached the sandy
shore of the Horican.

That's a trail that nothing but a nose can follow,said
the satisfied scoutlooking back along their difficult way;
grass is a treacherous carpet for a flying party to tread
on, but wood and stone take no print from a moccasin. Had
you worn your armed boots, there might, indeed, have been
something to fear; but with the deer-skin suitably prepared,
a man may trust himself, generally, on rocks with safety.
Shove in the canoe nigher to the land, Uncas; this sand will
take a stamp as easily as the butter of the Jarmans on the
Mohawk. Softly, lad, softly; it must not touch the beach,
or the knaves will know by what road we have left the
place.

The young man observed the precaution; and the scoutlaying
a board from the ruins to the canoemade a sign for the two
officers to enter. When this was doneeverything was
studiously restored to its former disorder; and then Hawkeye
succeeded in reaching his little birchen vesselwithout
leaving behind him any of those marks which he appeared so
much to dread. Heyward was silent until the Indians had
cautiously paddled the canoe some distance from the fort
and within the broad and dark shadows that fell from the
eastern mountain on the glassy surface of the lake; then he
demanded:

What need have we for this stolen and hurried departure?

If the blood of an Oneida could stain such a sheet of pure
water as this we float on,returned the scoutyour two
eyes would answer your own question. Have you forgotten the
skulking reptile Uncas slew?

By no means. But he was said to be alone, and dead men
give no cause for fear.

Ay, he was alone in his deviltry! but an Indian whose tribe
counts so many warriors, need seldom fear his blood will run


without the death shriek coming speedily from some of his
enemies.

But our presence -- the authority of Colonel Munro -- would
prove sufficient protection against the anger of our allies,
especially in a case where the wretch so well merited his
fate. I trust in Heaven you have not deviated a single foot
from the direct line of our course with so slight a reason!

Do you think the bullet of that varlet's rifle would have
turned aside, though his sacred majesty the king had stood
in its path?returned the stubborn scout. "Why did not the
grand Frencherhe who is captain-general of the Canadas
bury the tomahawks of the Huronsif a word from a white can
work so strongly on the natur' of an Indian?"

The reply of Heyward was interrupted by a groan from Munro;
but after he had paused a momentin deference to the sorrow
of his aged friend he resumed the subject.

The marquis of Montcalm can only settle that error with his
God,said the young man solemnly.

Ay, ay, now there is reason in your words, for they are
bottomed on religion and honesty. There is a vast
difference between throwing a regiment of white coats atwixt
the tribes and the prisoners, and coaxing an angry savage to
forget he carries a knife and rifle, with words that must
begin with calling him your son. No, no,continued the
scoutlooking back at the dim shore of William Henrywhich
was now fast recedingand laughing in his own silent but
heartfelt manner; "I have put a trail of water atween us;
and unless the imps can make friends with the fishesand
hear who has paddled across their basin this fine morning
we shall throw the length of the Horican behind us before
they have made up their minds which path to take."

With foes in front, and foes in our rear, our journey is
like to be one of danger.

Danger!repeated Hawkeyecalmly; "nonot absolutely of
danger; forwith vigilant ears and quick eyeswe can
manage to keep a few hours ahead of the knaves; orif we
must try the riflethere are three of us who understand its
gifts as well as any you can name on the borders. Nonot
of danger; but that we shall have what you may call a brisk
push of itis probable; and it may happena brusha
scrimmageor some such divarsionbut always where covers
are goodand ammunition abundant."

It is possible that Heyward's estimate of danger differed in
some degree from that of the scoutforinstead of
replyinghe now sat in silencewhile the canoe glided over
several miles of water. Just as the day dawnedthey
entered the narrows of the lake*and stole swiftly and
cautiously among their numberless little islands. It was by
this road that Montcalm had retired with his armyand the
adventurers knew not but he had left some of his Indians in
ambushto protect the rear of his forcesand collect the
stragglers. Theythereforeapproached the passage with
the customary silence of their guarded habits.

* The beauties of Lake George are well known to every
American tourist. In the height of the mountains which
surround itand in artificial accessoriesit is inferior

to the finest of the Swiss and Italian lakeswhile in
outline and purity of water it is fully their equal; and in
the number and disposition of its isles and islets much
superior to them all together. There are said to be some
hundreds of islands in a sheet of water less than thirty
miles long. The narrowswhich connect what may be called
in truthtwo lakesare crowded with islands to such a
degree as to leave passages between them frequently of only
a few feet in width. The lake itself varies in breadth from
one to three miles.

Chingachgook laid aside his paddle; while Uncas and the
scout urged the light vessel through crooked and intricate
channelswhere every foot that they advanced exposed them
to the danger of some sudden rising on their progress. The
eyes of the Sagamore moved warily from islet to isletand
copse to copseas the canoe proceeded; andwhen a clearer
sheet of water permittedhis keen vision was bent along the
bald rocks and impending forests that frowned upon the
narrow strait.

Heywardwho was a doubly interested spectatoras well from
the beauties of the place as from the apprehension natural
to his situationwas just believing that he had permitted
the latter to be excited without sufficient reasonwhen the
paddle ceased movingin obedience to a signal from
Chingachgook.

Hugh!exclaimed Uncasnearly at the moment that the light
tap his father had made on the side of the canoe notified
them of the vicinity of danger.

What now?asked the scout; "the lake is as smooth as if
the winds had never blownand I can see along its sheet for
miles; there is not so much as the black head of a loon
dotting the water."

The Indian gravely raised his paddleand pointed in the
direction in which his own steady look was riveted.
Duncan's eyes followed the motion. A few rods in their
front lay another of the wooded isletsbut it appeared as
calm and peaceful as if its solitude had never been
disturbed by the foot of man.

I see nothing,he saidbut land and water; and a lovely
scene it is.

Hist!interrupted the scout. "AySagamorethere is
always a reason for what you do. 'Tis but a shadeand yet
it is not natural. You see the mistmajorthat is rising
above the island; you can't call it a fogfor it is more
like a streak of thin cloud --"

It is vapor from the water.

That a child could tell. But what is the edging of blacker
smoke that hangs along its lower side, and which you may
trace down into the thicket of hazel? 'Tis from a fire; but
one that, in my judgment, has been suffered to burn low.

Let us, then, push for the place, and relieve our doubts,
said the impatient Duncan; "the party must be small that can
lie on such a bit of land."


If you judge of Indian cunning by the rules you find in
books, or by white sagacity, they will lead you astray, if
not to your death,returned Hawkeyeexamining the signs of
the place with that acuteness which distinguished him. "If
I may be permitted to speak in this matterit will be to
saythat we have but two things to choose between: the one
isto returnand give up all thoughts of following the
Hurons --"

Never!exclaimed Heywardin a voice far too loud for
their circumstances.

Well, well,continued Hawkeyemaking a hasty sign to
repress his impatience; "I am much of your mind myself;
though I thought it becoming my experience to tell the
whole. We mustthenmake a pushand if the Indians or
Frenchers are in the narrowsrun the gauntlet through these
toppling mountains. Is there reason in my wordsSagamore?"

The Indian made no other answer than by dropping his paddle
into the waterand urging forward the canoe. As he held
the office of directing its coursehis resolution was
sufficiently indicated by the movement. The whole party now
plied their paddles vigorouslyand in a very few moments
they had reached a point whence they might command an entire
view of the northern shore of the islandthe side that had
hitherto been concealed.

There they are, by all the truth of signs,whispered the
scouttwo canoes and a smoke. The knaves haven't yet got
their eyes out of the mist, or we should hear the accursed
whoop. Together, friends! we are leaving them, and are
already nearly out of whistle of a bullet.

The well-known crack of a riflewhose ball came skipping
along the placid surface of the straitand a shrill yell
from the islandinterrupted his speechand announced that
their passage was discovered. In another instant several
savages were seen rushing into canoeswhich were soon
dancing over the water in pursuit. These fearful precursors
of a coming struggle produced no change in the countenances
and movements of his three guidesso far as Duncan could
discoverexcept that the strokes of their paddles were
longer and more in unisonand caused the little bark to
spring forward like a creature possessing life and volition.

Hold them there, Sagamore,said Hawkeyelooking coolly
backward over this left shoulderwhile he still plied his
paddle; "keep them just there. Them Hurons have never a
piece in their nation that will execute at this distance;
but 'killdeer' has a barrel on which a man may calculate."

The scout having ascertained that the Mohicans were
sufficient of themselves to maintain the requisite distance
deliberately laid aside his paddleand raised the fatal
rifle. Three several times he brought the piece to his
shoulderand when his companions were expecting its report
he as often lowered it to request the Indians would permit
their enemies to approach a little nigher. At length his
accurate and fastidious eye seemed satisfiedandthrowing
out his left arm on the barrelhe was slowly elevating the
muzzlewhen an exclamation from Uncaswho sat in the bow
once more caused him to suspend the shot.


What, now, lad?demanded Hawkeye; "you save a Huron from
the death-shriek by that word; have you reason for what you
do?"

Uncas pointed toward a rocky shore a little in their front
whence another war canoe was darting directly across their
course. It was too obvious now that their situation was
imminently perilous to need the aid of language to confirm
it. The scout laid aside his rifleand resumed the paddle
while Chingachgook inclined the bows of the canoe a little
toward the western shorein order to increase the distance
between them and this new enemy. In the meantime they were
reminded of the presence of those who pressed upon their
rearby wild and exulting shouts. The stirring scene
awakened even Munro from his apathy.

Let us make for the rocks on the main,he saidwith the
mien of a tired soldierand give battle to the savages.
God forbid that I, or those attached to me and mine, should
ever trust again to the faith of any servant of the
Louis's!

He who wishes to prosper in Indian warfare,returned the
scoutmust not be too proud to learn from the wit of a
native. Lay her more along the land, Sagamore; we are
doubling on the varlets, and perhaps they may try to strike
our trail on the long calculation.

Hawkeye was not mistaken; for when the Hurons found their
course was likely to throw them behind their chase they
rendered it less directuntilby gradually bearing more
and more obliquelythe two canoes wereere longgliding
on parallel lineswithin two hundred yards of each other.
It now became entirely a trial of speed. So rapid was the
progress of the light vesselsthat the lake curled in their
frontin miniature wavesand their motion became
undulating by its own velocity. It wasperhapsowing to
this circumstancein addition to the necessity of keeping
every hand employed at the paddlesthat the Hurons had not
immediate recourse to their firearms. The exertions of the
fugitives were too severe to continue longand the pursuers
had the advantage of numbers. Duncan observed with
uneasinessthat the scout began to look anxiously about
himas if searching for some further means of assisting
their flight.

Edge her a little more from the sun, Sagamore,said the
stubborn woodsman; "I see the knaves are sparing a man to
the rifle. A single broken bone might lose us our scalps.
Edge more from the sun and we will put the island between
us."

The expedient was not without its use. A longlow island
lay at a little distance before themandas they closed
with itthe chasing canoe was compelled to take a side
opposite to that on which the pursued passed. The scout and
his companions did not neglect this advantagebut the
instant they were hid from observation by the bushesthey
redoubled efforts that before had seemed prodigious. The
two canoes came round the last low pointlike two coursers
at the top of their speedthe fugitives taking the lead.
This change had brought them nigher to each otherhowever
while it altered their relative positions.


You showed knowledge in the shaping of a birchen bark,
Uncas, when you chose this from among the Huron canoes,
said the scoutsmilingapparently more in satisfaction at
their superiority in the race than from that prospect of
final escape which now began to open a little upon them.
The imps have put all their strength again at the paddles,
and we are to struggle for our scalps with bits of flattened
wood, instead of clouded barrels and true eyes. A long
stroke, and together, friends.

They are preparing for a shot,said Heyward; "and as we
are in a line with themit can scarcely fail."

Get you, then, into the bottom of the canoe,returned the
scout; "you and the colonel; it will be so much taken from
the size of the mark."

Heyward smiledas he answered:

It would be but an ill example for the highest in rank to
dodge, while the warriors were under fire.

Lord! Lord! That is now a white man's courage!exclaimed
the scout; "and like to many of his notionsnot to be
maintained by reason. Do you think the Sagamoreor Uncas
or even Iwho am a man without a crosswould deliberate
about finding a cover in the scrimmagewhen an open body
would do no good? For what have the Frenchers reared up
their Quebecif fighting is always to be done in the
clearings?"

All that you say is very true, my friend,replied Heyward;
still, our customs must prevent us from doing as you wish.

A volley from the Hurons interrupted the discourseand as
the bullets whistled about themDuncan saw the head of
Uncas turnedlooking back at himself and Munro.
Notwithstanding the nearness of the enemyand his own great
personal dangerthe countenance of the young warrior
expressed no other emotionas the former was compelled to
thinkthan amazement at finding men willing to encounter so
useless an exposure. Chingachgook was probably better
acquainted with the notions of white menfor he did not
even cast a glance aside from the riveted look his eye
maintained on the object by which he governed their course.
A ball soon struck the light and polished paddle from the
hands of the chiefand drove it through the airfar in the
advance. A shout arose from the Huronswho seized the
opportunity to fire another volley. Uncas described an arc
in the water with his own bladeand as the canoe passed
swiftly onChingachgook recovered his paddleand
flourishing it on highhe gave the war-whoop of the
Mohicansand then lent his strength and skill again to the
important task.

The clamorous sounds of "Le Gros Serpent!" "La Longue
Carabine!" "Le Cerf Agile!" burst at once from the canoes
behindand seemed to give new zeal to the pursuers. The
scout seized "killdeer" in his left handand elevating it
about his headhe shook it in triumph at his enemies. The
savages answered the insult with a yelland immediately
another volley succeeded. The bullets pattered along the
lakeand one even pierced the bark of their little vessel.
No perceptible emotion could be discovered in the Mohicans


during this critical momenttheir rigid features expressing
neither hope nor alarm; but the scout again turned his head
andlaughing in his own silent mannerhe said to Heyward:

The knaves love to hear the sounds of their pieces; but the
eye is not to be found among the Mingoes that can calculate
a true range in a dancing canoe! You see the dumb devils
have taken off a man to charge, and by the smallest
measurement that can be allowed, we move three feet to their
two!

Duncanwho was not altogether as easy under this nice
estimate of distances as his companionswas glad to find
howeverthat owing to their superior dexterityand the
diversion among their enemiesthey were very sensibly
obtaining the advantage. The Hurons soon fired againand a
bullet struck the blade of Hawkeye's paddle without injury.

That will do,said the scoutexamining the slight
indentation with a curious eye; "it would not have cut the
skin of an infantmuch less of menwholike ushave been
blown upon by the heavens in their anger. Nowmajorif
you will try to use this piece of flattened woodI'll let
'killdeer' take a part in the conversation."

Heyward seized the paddleand applied himself to the work
with an eagerness that supplied the place of skillwhile
Hawkeye was engaged in inspecting the priming of his rifle.
The latter then took a swift aim and fired. The Huron in
the bows of the leading canoe had risen with a similar
objectand he now fell backwardsuffering his gun to
escape from his hands into the water. In an instant
howeverhe recovered his feetthough his gestures were
wild and bewildered. At the same moment his companions
suspended their effortsand the chasing canoes clustered
togetherand became stationary. Chingachgook and Uncas
profited by the interval to regain their windthough Duncan
continued to work with the most persevering industry. The
father and son now cast calm but inquiring glances at each
otherto learn if either had sustained any injury by the
fire; for both well knew that no cry or exclamation would
in such a moment of necessity have been permitted to betray
the accident. A few large drops of blood were trickling
down the shoulder of the Sagamorewhowhen he perceived
that the eyes of Uncas dwelt too long on the sightraised
some water in the hollow of his handand washing off the
stainwas content to manifestin this simple mannerthe
slightness of the injury.

Softly, softly, major,said the scoutwho by this time
had reloaded his rifle; "we are a little too far already for
a rifle to put forth its beautiesand you see yonder imps
are holding a council. Let them come up within striking
distance -- my eye may well be trusted in such a matter -and
I will trail the varlets the length of the Horican
guaranteeing that not a shot of theirs shallat the worst
more than break the skinwhile 'killdeer' shall touch the
life twice in three times."

We forget our errand,returned the diligent Duncan. "For
God's sake let us profit by this advantageand increase our
distance from the enemy."

Give me my children,said Munrohoarsely; "trifle no


longer with a father's agonybut restore me my babes."

Long and habitual deference to the mandates of his superiors
had taught the scout the virtue of obedience. Throwing a
last and lingering glance at the distant canoeshe laid
aside his rifleandrelieving the wearied Duncanresumed
the paddlewhich he wielded with sinews that never tired.
His efforts were seconded by those of the Mohicans and a
very few minutes served to place such a sheet of water
between them and their enemiesthat Heyward once more
breathed freely.

The lake now began to expandand their route lay along a
wide reachthat was linedas beforeby high and ragged
mountains. But the islands were fewand easily avoided.
The strokes of the paddles grew more measured and regular
while they who plied them continued their laborafter the
close and deadly chase from which they had just relieved
themselveswith as much coolness as though their speed had
been tried in sportrather than under such pressingnay
almost desperatecircumstances.

Instead of following the western shorewhither their errand
led themthe wary Mohican inclined his course more toward
those hills behind which Montcalm was known to have led his
army into the formidable fortress of Ticonderoga. As the
Huronsto every appearancehad abandoned the pursuit
there was no apparent reason for this excess of caution. It
washowevermaintained for hoursuntil they had reached a
baynigh the northern termination of the lake. Here the
canoe was driven upon the beachand the whole party landed.
Hawkeye and Heyward ascended an adjacent bluffwhere the
formerafter considering the expanse of water beneath him
pointed out to the latter a small black objecthovering
under a headlandat the distance of several miles.

Do you see it?demanded the scout. "Nowwhat would you
account that spotwere you left alone to white experience
to find your way through this wilderness?"

But for its distance and its magnitude, I should suppose it
a bird. Can it be a living object?

'Tis a canoe of good birchen bark, and paddled by fierce
and crafty Mingoes. Though Providence has lent to those who
inhabit the woods eyes that would be needless to men in the
settlements, where there are inventions to assist the sight,
yet no human organs can see all the dangers which at this
moment circumvent us. These varlets pretend to be bent
chiefly on their sun-down meal, but the moment it is dark
they will be on our trail, as true as hounds on the scent.
We must throw them off, or our pursuit of Le Renard Subtil
may be given up. These lakes are useful at times,
especially when the game take the water,continued the
scoutgazing about him with a countenance of concern; "but
they give no coverexcept it be to the fishes. God knows
what the country would beif the settlements should ever
spread far from the two rivers. Both hunting and war would
lose their beauty."

Let us not delay a moment, without some good and obvious
cause.

I little like that smoke, which you may see worming up


along the rock above the canoe,interrupted the abstracted
scout. "My life on itother eyes than ours see itand
know its meaning. Wellwords will not mend the matterand
it is time that we were doing."

Hawkeye moved away from the lookoutand descendedmusing
profoundlyto the shore. He communicated the result of his
observations to his companionsin Delawareand a short and
earnest consultation succeeded. When it terminatedthe
three instantly set about executing their new resolutions.

The canoe was lifted from the waterand borne on the
shoulders of the partythey proceeded into the woodmaking
as broad and obvious a trail as possible. They soon reached
the water-coursewhich they crossedandcontinuing
onwarduntil they came to an extensive and naked rock. At
this pointwhere their footsteps might be expected to be no
longer visiblethey retraced their route to the brook
walking backwardwith the utmost care. They now followed
the bed of the little stream to the lakeinto which they
immediately launched their canoe again. A low point
concealed them from the headlandand the margin of the lake
was fringed for some distance with dense and overhanging
bushes. Under the cover of these natural advantagesthey
toiled their waywith patient industryuntil the scout
pronounced that he believed it would be safe once more to
land.

The halt continued until evening rendered objects indistinct
and uncertain to the eye. Then they resumed their route
andfavored by the darknesspushed silently and vigorously
toward the western shore. Although the rugged outline of
mountainto which they were steeringpresented no
distinctive marks to the eyes of Duncanthe Mohican entered
the little haven he had selected with the confidence and
accuracy of an experienced pilot.

The boat was again lifted and borne into the woodswhere it
was carefully concealed under a pile of brush. The
adventurers assumed their arms and packsand the scout
announced to Munro and Heyward that he and the Indians were
at last in readiness to proceed.

CHAPTER 21

If you find a man there, he shall die a flea's death.--
Merry Wives of Windsor

The party had landed on the border of a region that iseven
to this dayless known to the inhabitants of the States
than the deserts of Arabiaor the steppes of Tartary. It
was the sterile and rugged district which separates the
tributaries of Champlain from those of the Hudsonthe
Mohawkand the St. Lawrence. Since the period of our tale
the active spirit of the country has surrounded it with a
belt of rich and thriving settlementsthough none but the
hunter or the savage is ever known even now to penetrate its
wild recesses.

As Hawkeye and the Mohicans hadhoweveroften traversed
the mountains and valleys of this vast wildernessthey did
not hesitate to plunge into its depthwith the freedom of


men accustomed to its privations and difficulties. For many
hours the travelers toiled on their laborious wayguided by
a staror following the direction of some water-course
until the scout called a haltand holding a short
consultation with the Indiansthey lighted their fireand
made the usual preparations to pass the remainder of the
night where they then were.

Imitating the exampleand emulating the confidence of their
more experienced associatesMunro and Duncan slept without
fearif not without uneasiness. The dews were suffered to
exhaleand the sun had dispersed the mistsand was
shedding a strong and clear light in the forestwhen the
travelers resumed their journey.

After proceeding a few milesthe progress of Hawkeyewho
led the advancebecame more deliberate and watchful. He
often stopped to examine the trees; nor did he cross a
rivulet without attentively considering the quantitythe
velocityand the color of its waters. Distrusting his own
judgmenthis appeals to the opinion of Chingachgook were
frequent and earnest. During one of these conferences
Heyward observed that Uncas stood a patient and silent
thoughas he imaginedan interested listener. He was
strongly tempted to address the young chiefand demand his
opinion of their progress; but the calm and dignified
demeanor of the native induced him to believethatlike
himselfthe other was wholly dependent on the sagacity and
intelligence of the seniors of the party. At last the scout
spoke in Englishand at once explained the embarrassment of
their situation.

When I found that the home path of the Hurons run north,
he saidit did not need the judgment of many long years to
tell that they would follow the valleys, and keep atween the
waters of the Hudson and the Horican, until they might
strike the springs of the Canada streams, which would lead
them into the heart of the country of the Frenchers. Yet
here are we, within a short range of the Scaroons, and not a
sign of a trail have we crossed! Human natur' is weak, and
it is possible we may not have taken the proper scent.

Heaven protect us from such an error!exclaimed Duncan.
Let us retrace our steps, and examine as we go, with keener
eyes. Has Uncas no counsel to offer in such a strait?

The young Mohican cast a glance at his fatherbut
maintaining his quiet and reserved mienhe continued
silent. Chingachgook had caught the lookand motioning
with his handhe bade him speak. The moment this
permission was accordedthe countenance of Uncas changed
from its grave composure to a gleam of intelligence and joy.
Bounding forward like a deerhe sprang up the side of a
little acclivitya few rods in advanceand stood
exultinglyover a spot of fresh earththat looked as
though it had been recently upturned by the passage of some
heavy animal. The eyes of the whole party followed the
unexpected movementand read their success in the air of
triumph that the youth assumed.

'Tis the trail!exclaimed the scoutadvancing to the
spot; "the lad is quick of sight and keen of wit for his
years."


'Tis extraordinary that he should have withheld his
knowledge so long,muttered Duncanat his elbow.

It would have been more wonderful had he spoken without a
bidding. No, no; your young white, who gathers his learning
from books and can measure what he knows by the page, may
conceit that his knowledge, like his legs, outruns that of
his fathers', but, where experience is the master, the
scholar is made to know the value of years, and respects
them accordingly.

See!said Uncaspointing north and southat the evident
marks of the broad trail on either side of himthe
dark-hair has gone toward the forest.

Hound never ran on a more beautiful scent,responded the
scoutdashing forwardat onceon the indicated route; "we
are favoredgreatly favoredand can follow with high
noses. Ayhere are both your waddling beasts: this Huron
travels like a white general. The fellow is stricken with a
judgmentand is mad! Look sharp for wheelsSagamore he
continued, looking back, and laughing in his newly awakened
satisfaction; we shall soon have the fool journeying in a
coachand that with three of the best pair of eyes on the
borders in his rear."

The spirits of the scoutand the astonishing success of the
chasein which a circuitous distance of more than forty
miles had been passeddid not fail to impart a portion of
hope to the whole party. Their advance was rapid; and made
with as much confidence as a traveler would proceed along a
wide highway. If a rockor a rivuletor a bit of earth
harder than commonsevered the links of the clew they
followedthe true eye of the scout recovered them at a
distanceand seldom rendered the delay of a single moment
necessary. Their progress was much facilitated by the
certainty that Magua had found it necessary to journey
through the valleys; a circumstance which rendered the
general direction of the route sure. Nor had the Huron
entirely neglected the arts uniformly practised by the
natives when retiring in front of an enemy. False trails
and sudden turnings were frequentwherever a brook or the
formation of the ground rendered them feasible; but his
pursuers were rarely deceivedand never failed to detect
their errorbefore they had lost either time or distance on
the deceptive track.

By the middle of the afternoon they had passed the Scaroons
and were following the route of the declining sun. After
descending an eminence to a low bottomthrough which a
swift stream glidedthey suddenly came to a place where the
party of Le Renard had made a halt. Extinguished brands
were lying around a springthe offals of a deer were
scattered about the placeand the trees bore evident marks
of having been browsed by the horses. At a little distance
Heyward discoveredand contemplated with tender emotion
the small bower under which he was fain to believe that Cora
and Alice had reposed. But while the earth was troddenand
the footsteps of both men and beasts were so plainly visible
around the placethe trail appeared to have suddenly ended.

It was easy to follow the tracks of the Narragansettsbut
they seemed only to have wandered without guidesor any
other object than the pursuit of food. At length Uncas


whowith his fatherhad endeavored to trace the route of
the horsescame upon a sign of their presence that was
quite recent. Before following the clewhe communicated
his success to his companions; and while the latter were
consulting on the circumstancethe youth reappeared
leading the two fillieswith their saddles brokenand the
housings soiledas though they had been permitted to run at
will for several days.

What should this prove?said Duncanturning paleand
glancing his eyes around himas if he feared the brush and
leaves were about to give up some horrid secret.

That our march is come to a quick end, and that we are in
an enemy's country,returned the scout. "Had the knave
been pressedand the gentle ones wanted horses to keep up
with the partyhe might have taken their scalps; but
without an enemy at his heelsand with such rugged beasts
as thesehe would not hurt a hair of their heads. I know
your thoughtsand shame be it to our color that you have
reason for them; but he who thinks that even a Mingo would
ill-treat a womanunless it be to tomahawk herknows
nothing of Indian natur'or the laws of the woods. Nono;
I have heard that the French Indians had come into these
hills to hunt the mooseand we are getting within scent of
their camp. Why should they not? The morning and evening
guns of Ty may be heard any day among these mountains; for
the Frenchers are running a new line atween the provinces of
the king and the Canadas. It is true that the horses are
herebut the Hurons are gone; let usthenhunt for the
path by which they parted."

Hawkeye and the Mohicans now applied themselves to their
task in good earnest. A circle of a few hundred feet in
circumference was drawnand each of the party took a
segment for his portion. The examinationhoweverresulted
in no discovery. The impressions of footsteps were
numerousbut they all appeared like those of men who had
wandered about the spotwithout any design to quit it.
Again the scout and his companions made the circuit of the
halting placeeach slowly following the otheruntil they
assembled in the center once moreno wiser than when they
started.

Such cunning is not without its deviltry,exclaimed
Hawkeyewhen he met the disappointed looks of his
assistants.

We must get down to it, Sagamore, beginning at the spring,
and going over the ground by inches. The Huron shall never
brag in his tribe that he has a foot which leaves no print.

Setting the example himselfthe scout engaged in the
scrutiny with renewed zeal. Not a leaf was left unturned.
The sticks were removedand the stones lifted; for Indian
cunning was known frequently to adopt these objects as
coverslaboring with the utmost patience and industryto
conceal each footstep as they proceeded. Still no discovery
was made. At length Uncaswhose activity had enabled him
to achieve his portion of the task the soonestraked the
earth across the turbid little rill which ran from the
springand diverted its course into another channel. So
soon as its narrow bed below the dam was dryhe stooped
over it with keen and curious eyes. A cry of exultation


immediately announced the success of the young warrior. The
whole party crowded to the spot where Uncas pointed out the
impression of a moccasin in the moist alluvion.

This lad will be an honor to his people,said Hawkeye
regarding the trail with as much admiration as a naturalist
would expend on the tusk of a mammoth or the rib of a
mastodon; "ayand a thorn in the sides of the Hurons. Yet
that is not the footstep of an Indian! the weight is too
much on the heeland the toes are squaredas though one of
the French dancers had been inpigeon-winging his tribe!
Run backUncasand bring me the size of the singer's foot.
You will find a beautiful print of it just opposite yon
rockagin the hillside."

While the youth was engaged in this commissionthe scout
and Chingachgook were attentively considering the
impressions. The measurements agreedand the former
unhesitatingly pronounced that the footstep was that of
Davidwho had once more been made to exchange his shoes for
moccasins.

I can now read the whole of it, as plainly as if I had seen
the arts of Le Subtil,he added; "the singer being a man
whose gifts lay chiefly in his throat and feetwas made to
go firstand the others have trod in his stepsimitating
their formation."

But,cried DuncanI see no signs of --

The gentle ones,interrupted the scout; "the varlet has
found a way to carry themuntil he supposed he had thrown
any followers off the scent. My life on itwe see their
pretty little feet againbefore many rods go by."

The whole party now proceededfollowing the course of the
rillkeeping anxious eyes on the regular impressions. The
water soon flowed into its bed againbut watching the
ground on either sidethe foresters pursued their way
content with knowing that the trail lay beneath. More than
half a mile was passedbefore the rill rippled close around
the base of an extensive and dry rock. Here they paused to
make sure that the Hurons had not quitted the water.

It was fortunate they did so. For the quick and active
Uncas soon found the impression of a foot on a bunch of
mosswhere it would seem an Indian had inadvertently
trodden. Pursuing the direction given by this discoveryhe
entered the neighboring thicketand struck the trailas
fresh and obvious as it had been before they reached the
spring. Another shout announced the good fortune of the
youth to his companionsand at once terminated the search.

Ay, it has been planned with Indian judgment,said the
scoutwhen the party was assembled around the placeand
would have blinded white eyes.

Shall we proceed?demanded Heyward.

Softly, softly, we know our path; but it is good to examine
the formation of things. This is my schooling, major; and
if one neglects the book, there is little chance of learning
from the open land of Providence. All is plain but one
thing, which is the manner that the knave contrived to get


the gentle ones along the blind trail. Even a Huron would
be too proud to let their tender feet touch the water.

Will this assist in explaining the difficulty?said
Heywardpointing toward the fragments of a sort of
handbarrowthat had been rudely constructed of boughsand
bound together with withesand which now seemed carelessly
cast aside as useless.

'Tis explained!cried the delighted Hawkeye. "If them
varlets have passed a minutethey have spent hours in
striving to fabricate a lying end to their trail! Well
I've known them to waste a day in the same manner to as
little purpose. Here we have three pair of moccasinsand
two of little feet. It is amazing that any mortal beings
can journey on limbs so small! Pass me the thong of
buckskinUncasand let me take the length of this foot.
By the Lordit is no longer than a child's and yet the
maidens are tall and comely. That Providence is partial in
its giftsfor its own wise reasonsthe best and most
contented of us must allow."

The tender limbs of my daughters are unequal to these
hardships,said Munrolooking at the light footsteps of
his childrenwith a parent's love; "we shall find their
fainting forms in this desert."

Of that there is little cause of fear,returned the scout
slowly shaking his head; "this is a firm and straight
though a light stepand not over long. Seethe heel has
hardly touched the ground; and there the dark-hair has made
a little jumpfrom root to root. Nono; my knowledge for
itneither of them was nigh faintinghereaway. Nowthe
singer was beginning to be footsore and leg-wearyas is
plain by his trail. Thereyou seehe slipped; here he has
traveled wide and tottered; and there again it looks as
though he journeyed on snowshoes. Ayaya man who uses
his throat altogethercan hardly give his legs a proper
training."

From such undeniable testimony did the practised woodsman
arrive at the truthwith nearly as much certainty and
precision as if he had been a witness of all those events
which his ingenuity so easily elucidated. Cheered by these
assurancesand satisfied by a reasoning that was so
obviouswhile it was so simplethe party resumed its
courseafter making a short haltto take a hurried repast.

When the meal was endedthe scout cast a glance upward at
the setting sunand pushed forward with a rapidity which
compelled Heyward and the still vigorous Munro to exert all
their muscles to equal. Their route now lay along the
bottom which has already been mentioned. As the Hurons had
made no further efforts to conceal their footstepsthe
progress of the pursuers was no longer delayed by
uncertainty. Before an hour had elapsedhoweverthe speed
of Hawkeye sensibly abatedand his headinstead of
maintaining its former direct and forward lookbegan to
turn suspiciously from side to sideas if he were conscious
of approaching danger. He soon stopped againand waited
for the whole party to come up.

I scent the Hurons,he saidspeaking to the Mohicans;
yonder is open sky, through the treetops, and we are


getting too nigh their encampment. Sagamore, you will take
the hillside, to the right; Uncas will bend along the brook
to the left, while I will try the trail. If anything should
happen, the call will be three croaks of a crow. I saw one
of the birds fanning himself in the air, just beyond the
dead oak -- another sign that we are approaching an
encampment.

The Indians departed their several ways without replywhile
Hawkeye cautiously proceeded with the two gentlemen.
Heyward soon pressed to the side of their guideeager to
catch an early glimpse of those enemies he had pursued with
so much toil and anxiety. His companion told him to steal
to the edge of the woodwhichas usualwas fringed with a
thicketand wait his comingfor he wished to examine
certain suspicious signs a little on one side. Duncan
obeyedand soon found himself in a situation to command a
view which he found as extraordinary as it was novel.

The trees of many acres had been felledand the glow of a
mild summer's evening had fallen on the clearingin
beautiful contrast to the gray light of the forest. A short
distance from the place where Duncan stoodthe stream had
seemingly expanded into a little lakecovering most of the
low landfrom mountain to mountain. The water fell out of
this wide basinin a cataract so regular and gentlethat
it appeared rather to be the work of human hands than
fashioned by nature. A hundred earthen dwellings stood on
the margin of the lakeand even in its watersas though
the latter had overflowed its usual banks. Their rounded
roofsadmirably molded for defense against the weather
denoted more of industry and foresight than the natives were
wont to bestow on their regular habitationsmuch less on
those they occupied for the temporary purposes of hunting
and war. In shortthe whole village or townwhichever it
might be termedpossessed more of method and neatness of
executionthan the white men had been accustomed to believe
belongedordinarilyto the Indian habits. It appeared
howeverto be deserted. At leastso thought Duncan for
many minutes; butat lengthhe fancied he discovered
several human forms advancing toward him on all foursand
apparently dragging in the train some heavyand as he was
quick to apprehendsome formidable engine. Just then a few
dark-looking heads gleamed out of the dwellingsand the
place seemed suddenly alive with beingswhichhowever
glided from cover to cover so swiftlyas to allow no
opportunity of examining their humors or pursuits. Alarmed
at these suspicious and inexplicable movementshe was about
to attempt the signal of the crowswhen the rustling of
leaves at hand drew his eyes in another direction.

The young man startedand recoiled a few paces
instinctivelywhen he found himself within a hundred yards
of a stranger Indian. Recovering his recollection on the
instantinstead of sounding an alarmwhich might prove
fatal to himselfhe remained stationaryan attentive
observer of the other's motions.

An instant of calm observation served to assure Duncan that
he was undiscovered. The nativelike himselfseemed
occupied in considering the low dwellings of the village
and the stolen movements of its inhabitants. It was
impossible to discover the expression of his features
through the grotesque mask of paint under which they were


concealedthough Duncan fancied it was rather melancholy
than savage. His head was shavedas usualwith the
exception of the crownfrom whose tuft three or four faded
feathers from a hawk's wing were loosely dangling. A ragged
calico mantle half encircled his bodywhile his nether
garment was composed of an ordinary shirtthe sleeves of
which were made to perform the office that is usually
executed by a much more commodious arrangement. His legs
werehowevercovered with a pair of good deer-skin
moccasins. Altogetherthe appearance of the individual was
forlorn and miserable.

Duncan was still curiously observing the person of his
neighbor when the scout stole silently and cautiously to his
side.

You see we have reached their settlement or encampment,
whispered the young man; "and here is one of the savages
himselfin a very embarrassing position for our further
movements."

Hawkeye startedand dropped his riflewhendirected by
the finger of his companionthe stranger came under his
view. Then lowering the dangerous muzzle he stretched
forward his long neckas if to assist a scrutiny that was
already intensely keen.

The imp is not a Huron,he saidnor of any of the Canada
tribes; and yet you see, by his clothes, the knave has been
plundering a white. Ay, Montcalm has raked the woods for
his inroad, and a whooping, murdering set of varlets has he
gathered together. Can you see where he has put his rifle
or his bow?

He appears to have no arms; nor does he seem to be
viciously inclined. Unless he communicate the alarm to his
fellows, who, as you see, are dodging about the water, we
have but little to fear from him.

The scout turned to Heywardand regarded him a moment with
unconcealed amazement. Then opening wide his mouthhe
indulged in unrestrained and heartfelt laughterthough in
that silent and peculiar manner which danger had so long
taught him to practise.

Repeating the wordsFellows who are dodging about the
water!he addedso much for schooling and passing a
boyhood in the settlements! The knave has long legs,
though, and shall not be trusted. Do you keep him under
your rifle while I creep in behind, through the bush, and
take him alive. Fire on no account.

Heyward had already permitted his companion to bury part of
his person in the thicketwhenstretching forth his arm
he arrested himin order to ask:

If I see you in danger, may I not risk a shot?

Hawkeye regarded him a momentlike one who knew not how to
take the question; thennodding his headhe answered
still laughingthough inaudibly:

Fire a whole platoon, major.


In the next moment he was concealed by the leaves. Duncan
waited several minutes in feverish impatiencebefore he
caught another glimpse of the scout. Then he reappeared
creeping along the earthfrom which his dress was hardly
distinguishabledirectly in the rear of his intended
captive. Having reached within a few yards of the latter
he arose to his feetsilently and slowly. At that instant
several loud blows were struck on the waterand Duncan
turned his eyes just in time to perceive that a hundred dark
forms were plungingin a bodyinto the troubled little
sheet. Grasping his rifle his looks were again bent on the
Indian near him. Instead of taking the alarmthe
unconscious savage stretched forward his neckas if he also
watched the movements about the gloomy lakewith a sort of
silly curiosity. In the meantimethe uplifted hand of
Hawkeye was above him. Butwithout any apparent reasonit
was withdrawnand its owner indulged in another long
though still silentfit of merriment. When the peculiar
and hearty laughter of Hawkeye was endedinstead of
grasping his victim by the throathe tapped him lightly on
the shoulderand exclaimed aloud:

How now, friend! have you a mind to teach the beavers to
sing?

Even so,was the ready answer. "It would seem that the
Being that gave them power to improve His gifts so well
would not deny them voices to proclaim His praise."

CHAPTER 22

Bot.--Abibl we all met? Qui.--Pat--pat; and here's
a marvelous convenient place for our rehearsal.--
Midsummer Night's Dream

The reader may better imaginethan we describe the surprise
of Heyward. His lurking Indians were suddenly converted
into four-footed beasts; his lake into a beaver pond; his
cataract into a damconstructed by those industrious and
ingenious quadrupeds; and a suspected enemy into his tried
friendDavid Gamutthe master of psalmody. The presence
of the latter created so many unexpected hopes relative to
the sisters thatwithout a moment's hesitationthe young
man broke out of his ambushand sprang forward to join the
two principal actors in the scene.

The merriment of Hawkeye was not easily appeased. Without
ceremonyand with a rough handhe twirled the supple Gamut
around on his heeland more than once affirmed that the
Hurons had done themselves great credit in the fashion of
his costume. Thenseizing the hand of the otherhe
squeezed it with a grip that brought tears into the eyes of
the placid Davidand wished him joy of his new condition.

You were about opening your throat-practisings among the
beavers, were ye?he said. "The cunning devils know half
the trade alreadyfor they beat the time with their tails
as you heard just now; and in good time it wastooor
'killdeer' might have sounded the first note among them. I
have known greater foolswho could read and writethan an
experienced old beaver; but as for squallingthe animals
are born dumb! What think you of such a song as this?"


David shut his sensitive earsand even Heyward apprised as
he was of the nature of the crylooked upward in quest of
the birdas the cawing of a crow rang in the air about
them.

See!continued the laughing scoutas he pointed toward
the remainder of the partywhoin obedience to the signal
were already approaching; "this is music which has its
natural virtues; it brings two good rifles to my elbowto
say nothing of the knives and tomahawks. But we see that
you are safe; now tell us what has become of the maidens."

They are captives to the heathen,said David; "andthough
greatly troubled in spiritenjoying comfort and safety in
the body."

Both!demanded the breathless Heyward.

Even so. Though our wayfaring has been sore and our
sustenance scanty, we have had little other cause for
complaint, except the violence done our feelings, by being
thus led in captivity into a far land.

Bless ye for these very words!exclaimed the trembling
Munro; "I shall then receive my babesspotless and
angel-likeas I lost them!"

I know not that their delivery is at hand,returned the
doubting David; "the leader of these savages is possessed of
an evil spirit that no power short of Omnipotence can tame.
I have tried him sleeping and wakingbut neither sounds nor
language seem to touch his soul."

Where is the knave?bluntly interrupted the scout.

He hunts the moose to-day, with his young men; and
tomorrow, as I hear, they pass further into the forests, and
nigher to the borders of Canada. The elder maiden is
conveyed to a neighboring people, whose lodges are situate
beyond yonder black pinnacle of rock; while the younger is
detained among the women of the Hurons, whose dwellings are
but two short miles hence, on a table-land, where the fire
had done the office of the axe, and prepared the place for
their reception.

Alice, my gentle Alice!murmured Heyward; "she has lost
the consolation of her sister's presence!"

Even so. But so far as praise and thanksgiving in psalmody
can temper the spirit in affliction, she has not suffered.

Has she then a heart for music?

Of the graver and more solemn character; though it must be
acknowledged that, in spite of all my endeavors, the maiden
weeps oftener than she smiles. At such moments I forbear to
press the holy songs; but there are many sweet and
comfortable periods of satisfactory communication, when the
ears of the savages are astounded with the upliftings of our
voices.

And why are you permitted to go at large, unwatched?


David composed his features into what he intended should
express an air of modest humilitybefore he meekly replied:

Little be the praise to such a worm as I. But, though the
power of psalmody was suspended in the terrible business of
that field of blood through which we have passed, it has
recovered its influence even over the souls of the heathen,
and I am suffered to go and come at will.

The scout laughedandtapping his own forehead
significantlyhe perhaps explained the singular indulgence
more satisfactorily when he said:

The Indians never harm a non-composser. But why, when the
path lay open before your eyes, did you not strike back on
your own trail (it is not so blind as that which a squirrel
would make), and bring in the tidings to Edward?

The scoutremembering only his own sturdy and iron nature
had probably exacted a task that Davidunder no
circumstancescould have performed. Butwithout entirely
losing the meekness of his airthe latter was content to
answer:

Though my soul would rejoice to visit the habitations of
Christendom once more, my feet would rather follow the
tender spirits intrusted to my keeping, even into the
idolatrous province of the Jesuits, than take one step
backward, while they pined in captivity and sorrow.

Though the figurative language of David was not very
intelligiblethe sincere and steady expression of his eye
and the glow of his honest countenancewere not easily
mistaken. Uncas pressed closer to his sideand regarded
the speaker with a look of commendationwhile his father
expressed his satisfaction by the ordinary pithy exclamation
of approbation. The scout shook his head as he rejoined:

The Lord never intended that the man should place all his
endeavors in his throat, to the neglect of other and better
gifts! But he has fallen into the hands of some silly
woman, when he should have been gathering his education
under a blue sky, among the beauties of the forest. Here,
friend; I did intend to kindle a fire with this tooting-whistle
of thine; but, as you value the thing, take it, and blow your
best on it.

Gamut received his pitch-pipe with as strong an expression
of pleasure as he believed compatible with the grave
functions he exercised. After essaying its virtues
repeatedlyin contrast with his own voiceandsatisfying
himself that none of its melody was losthe made a very
serious demonstration toward achieving a few stanzas of one
of the longest effusions in the little volume so often
mentioned.

Heywardhoweverhastily interrupted his pious purpose by
continuing questions concerning the past and present
condition of his fellow captivesand in a manner more
methodical than had been permitted by his feelings in the
opening of their interview. Davidthough he regarded his
treasure with longing eyeswas constrained to answer
especially as the venerable father took a part in the
interrogatorieswith an interest too imposing to be denied.


Nor did the scout fail to throw in a pertinent inquiry
whenever a fitting occasion presented. In this manner
though with frequent interruptions which were filled with
certain threatening sounds from the recovered instrument
the pursuers were put in possession of such leading
circumstances as were likely to prove useful in
accomplishing their great and engrossing object -- the
recovery of the sisters. The narrative of David was simple
and the facts but few.

Magua had waited on the mountain until a safe moment to
retire presented itselfwhen he had descendedand taken
the route along the western side of the Horican in direction
of the Canadas. As the subtle Huron was familiar with the
pathsand well knew there was no immediate danger of
pursuittheir progress had been moderateand far from
fatiguing. It appeared from the unembellished statement of
Davidthat his own presence had been rather endured than
desired; though even Magua had not been entirely exempt from
that veneration with which the Indians regard those whom the
Great Spirit had visited in their intellects. At nightthe
utmost care had been taken of the captivesboth to prevent
injury from the damps of the woods and to guard against an
escape. At the springthe horses were turned looseas has
been seen; andnotwithstanding the remoteness and length of
their trailthe artifices already named were resorted to
in order to cut off every clue to their place of retreat.
On their arrival at the encampment of his peopleMaguain
obedience to a policy seldom departed fromseparated his
prisoners. Cora had been sent to a tribe that temporarily
occupied an adjacent valleythough David was far too
ignorant of the customs and history of the nativesto be
able to declare anything satisfactory concerning their name
or character. He only knew that they had not engaged in the
late expedition against William Henry; thatlike the Hurons
themselves they were allies of Montcalm; and that they
maintained an amicablethough a watchful intercourse with
the warlike and savage people whom chance hadfor a time
brought in such close and disagreeable contact with
themselves.

The Mohicans and the scout listened to his interrupted and
imperfect narrativewith an interest that obviously
increased as he proceeded; and it was while attempting to
explain the pursuits of the community in which Cora was
detainedthat the latter abruptly demanded:

Did you see the fashion of their knives? were they of
English or French formation?

My thoughts were bent on no such vanities, but rather
mingled in consolation with those of the maidens.

The time may come when you will not consider the knife of a
savage such a despicable vanity,returned the scoutwith a
strong expression of contempt for the other's dullness.
Had they held their corn feast -- or can you say anything
of the totems of the tribe?

Of corn, we had many and plentiful feasts; for the grain,
being in the milk is both sweet to the mouth and comfortable
to the stomach. Of totem, I know not the meaning; but if it
appertaineth in any wise to the art of Indian music, it need
not be inquired after at their hands. They never join their


voices in praise, and it would seem that they are among the
profanest of the idolatrous.

Therein you belie the natur' of an Indian. Even the Mingo
adores but the true and loving God. 'Tis wicked fabrication
of the whites, and I say it to the shame of my color that
would make the warrior bow down before images of his own
creation. It is true, they endeavor to make truces to the
wicked one -- as who would not with an enemy he cannot
conquer! but they look up for favor and assistance to the
Great and Good Spirit only.

It may be so,said David; "but I have seen strange and
fantastic images drawn in their paintof which their
admiration and care savored of spiritual pride; especially
oneand thattooa foul and loathsome object."

Was it a sarpent?quickly demanded the scout.

Much the same. It was in the likeness of an abject and
creeping tortoise.

Hugh!exclaimed both the attentive Mohicans in a breath;
while the scout shook his head with the air of one who had
made an important but by no means a pleasing discovery.
Then the father spokein the language of the Delawaresand
with a calmness and dignity that instantly arrested the
attention even of those to whom his words were
unintelligible. His gestures were impressiveand at times
energetic. Once he lifted his arm on high; andas it
descendedthe action threw aside the folds of his light
mantlea finger resting on his breastas if he would
enforce his meaning by the attitude. Duncan's eyes followed
the movementand he perceived that the animal just
mentioned was beautifullythough faintlyworked in blue
tinton the swarthy breast of the chief. All that he had
ever heard of the violent separation of the vast tribes of
the Delawares rushed across his mindand he awaited the
proper moment to speakwith a suspense that was rendered
nearly intolerable by his interest in the stake. His wish
howeverwas anticipated by the scout who turned from his
red friendsaying:

We have found that which may be good or evil to us, as
heaven disposes. The Sagamore is of the high blood of the
Delawares, and is the great chief of their Tortoises! That
some of this stock are among the people of whom the singer
tells us, is plain by his words; and, had he but spent half
the breath in prudent questions that he has blown away in
making a trumpet of his throat, we might have known how many
warriors they numbered. It is, altogether, a dangerous path
we move in; for a friend whose face is turned from you often
bears a bloodier mind than the enemy who seeks your scalp.

Explain,said Duncan.

'Tis a long and melancholy tradition, and one I little like
to think of; for it is not to be denied that the evil has
been mainly done by men with white skins. But it has ended
in turning the tomahawk of brother against brother, and
brought the Mingo and the Delaware to travel in the same
path.

You, then, suspect it is a portion of that people among


whom Cora resides?

The scout nodded his head in assentthough he seemed
anxious to waive the further discussion of a subject that
appeared painful. The impatient Duncan now made several
hasty and desperate propositions to attempt the release of
the sisters. Munro seemed to shake off his apathyand
listened to the wild schemes of the young man with a
deference that his gray hairs and reverend years should have
denied. But the scoutafter suffering the ardor of the
lover to expend itself a littlefound means to convince him
of the folly of precipitationin a manner that would
require their coolest judgment and utmost fortitude.

It would be well,he addedto let this man go in again,
as usual, and for him to tarry in the lodges, giving notice
to the gentle ones of our approach, until we call him out,
by signal, to consult. You know the cry of a crow, friend,
from the whistle of the whip-poor-will?

'Tis a pleasing bird,returned Davidand has a soft and
melancholy note! though the time is rather quick and ill-measured.

He speaks of the wish-ton-wish,said the scout; "well
since you like his whistleit shall be your signal.
Rememberthenwhen you hear the whip-poor-will's call
three times repeatedyou are to come into the bushes where
the bird might be supposed --"

Stop,interrupted Heyward; "I will accompany him."

You!exclaimed the astonished Hawkeye; "are you tired of
seeing the sun rise and set?"

David is a living proof that the Hurons can be merciful.

Ay, but David can use his throat, as no man in his senses
would pervart the gift.

I too can play the madman, the fool, the hero; in short,
any or everything to rescue her I love. Name your
objections no longer: I am resolved.

Hawkeye regarded the young man a moment in speechless
amazement. But Duncanwhoin deference to the other's
skill and serviceshad hitherto submitted somewhat
implicitly to his dictationnow assumed the superiorwith
a manner that was not easily resisted. He waved his hand
in sign of his dislike to all remonstranceand thenin
more tempered languagehe continued:

You have the means of disguise; change me; paint me, too,
if you will; in short, alter me to anything -- a fool.

It is not for one like me to say that he who is already
formed by so powerful a hand as Providence, stands in need
of a change,muttered the discontented scout. "When you
send your parties abroad in waryou find it prudentat
leastto arrange the marks and places of encampmentin
order that they who fight on your side may know when and
where to expect a friend."

Listen,interrupted Duncan; "you have heard from this
faithful follower of the captivesthat the Indians are of


two tribesif not of different nations. With onewhom you
think to be a branch of the Delawaresis she you call the
'dark-hair'; the otherand youngerof the ladiesis
undeniably with our declared enemiesthe Hurons. It
becomes my youth and rank to attempt the latter adventure.
While youthereforeare negotiating with your friends for
the release of one of the sistersI will effect that of the
otheror die."

The awakened spirit of the young soldier gleamed in his
eyesand his form became imposing under its influence.
Hawkeyethough too much accustomed to Indian artifices not
to foresee the danger of the experimentknew not well how
to combat this sudden resolution.

Perhaps there was something in the proposal that suited his
own hardy natureand that secret love of desperate
adventurewhich had increased with his experienceuntil
hazard and danger had becomein some measurenecessary to
the enjoyment of his existence. Instead of continuing to
oppose the scheme of Duncanhis humor suddenly alteredand
he lent himself to its execution.

Come,he saidwith a good-humored smile; "the buck that
will take to the water must be headedand not followed.
Chingachgook has as many different paints as the engineer
officer's wifewho takes down natur' on scraps of paper
making the mountains look like cocks of rusty hayand
placing the blue sky in reach of your hand. The Sagamore
can use themtoo. Seat yourself on the log; and my life on
ithe can soon make a natural fool of youand that well to
your liking."

Duncan complied; and the Mohicanwho had been an attentive
listener to the discoursereadily undertook the office.
Long practised in all the subtle arts of his racehe drew
with great dexterity and quicknessthe fantastic shadow
that the natives were accustomed to consider as the evidence
of a friendly and jocular disposition. Every line that
could possibly be interpreted into a secret inclination for
warwas carefully avoided; whileon the other handhe
studied those conceits that might be construed into amity.

In shorthe entirely sacrificed every appearance of the
warrior to the masquerade of a buffoon. Such exhibitions
were not uncommon among the Indiansand as Duncan was
already sufficiently disguised in his dressthere certainly
did exist some reason for believing thatwith his knowledge
of Frenchhe might pass for a juggler from Ticonderoga
straggling among the allied and friendly tribes.

When he was thought to be sufficiently paintedthe scout
gave him much friendly advice; concerted signalsand
appointed the place where they should meetin the event of
mutual success. The parting between Munro and his young
friend was more melancholy; stillthe former submitted to
the separation with an indifference that his warm and honest
nature would never have permitted in a more healthful state
of mind. The scout led Heyward asideand acquainted him
with his intention to leave the veteran in some safe
encampmentin charge of Chingachgookwhile he and Uncas
pursued their inquires among the people they had reason to
believe were Delawares. Thenrenewing his cautions and
advicehe concluded by sayingwith a solemnity and warmth


of feelingwith which Duncan was deeply touched:

And, now, God bless you! You have shown a spirit that I
like; for it is the gift of youth, more especially one of
warm blood and a stout heart. But believe the warning of a
man who has reason to know all he says to be true. You will
have occasion for your best manhood, and for a sharper wit
than what is to be gathered in books, afore you outdo the
cunning or get the better of the courage of a Mingo. God
bless you! if the Hurons master your scalp, rely on the
promise of one who has two stout warriors to back him. They
shall pay for their victory, with a life for every hair it
holds. I say, young gentleman, may Providence bless your
undertaking, which is altogether for good; and, remember,
that to outwit the knaves it is lawful to practise things
that may not be naturally the gift of a white-skin.

Duncan shook his worthy and reluctant associate warmly by
the handonce more recommended his aged friend to his care
and returning his good wisheshe motioned to David to
proceed. Hawkeye gazed after the high-spirited and
adventurous young man for several momentsin open
admiration; thenshaking his head doubtinglyhe turned
and led his own division of the party into the concealment
of the forest.

The route taken by Duncan and David lay directly across the
clearing of the beaversand along the margin of their pond.

When the former found himself alone with one so simpleand
so little qualified to render any assistance in desperate
emergencieshe first began to be sensible of the
difficulties of the task he had undertaken. The fading
light increased the gloominess of the bleak and savage
wilderness that stretched so far on every side of himand
there was even a fearful character in the stillness of those
little hutsthat he knew were so abundantly peopled. It
struck himas he gazed at the admirable structures and the
wonderful precautions of their sagacious inmatesthat even
the brutes of these vast wilds were possessed of an instinct
nearly commensurate with his own reason; and he could not
reflectwithout anxietyon the unequal contest that he had
so rashly courted. Then came the glowing image of Alice;
her distress; her actual danger; and all the peril of his
situation was forgotten. Cheering Davidhe moved on with
the light and vigorous step of youth and enterprise.

After making nearly a semicircle around the pondthey
diverged from the water-courseand began to ascend to the
level of a slight elevation in that bottom landover which
they journeyed. Within half an hour they gained the margin
of another opening that bore all the signs of having been
also made by the beaversand which those sagacious animals
had probably been inducedby some accidentto abandonfor
the more eligible position they now occupied. A very
natural sensation caused Duncan to hesitate a moment
unwilling to leave the cover of their bushy pathas a man
pauses to collect his energies before he essays any
hazardous experimentin which he is secretly conscious they
will all be needed. He profited by the haltto gather such
information as might be obtained from his short and hasty
glances.

On the opposite side of the clearingand near the point


where the brook tumbled over some rocksfrom a still higher
levelsome fifty or sixty lodgesrudely fabricated of logs
brushand earth intermingledwere to be discovered. They
were arranged without any orderand seemed to be
constructed with very little attention to neatness or
beauty. Indeedso very inferior were they in the two
latter particulars to the village Duncan had just seenthat
he began to expect a second surpriseno less astonishing
that the former. This expectation was is no degree
diminishedwhenby the doubtful twilighthe beheld twenty
or thirty forms rising alternately from the cover of the
tallcoarse grassin front of the lodgesand then sinking
again from the sightas it were to burrow in the earth. By
the sudden and hasty glimpses that he caught of these
figuresthey seemed more like darkglancing spectersor
some other unearthly beingsthan creatures fashioned with
the ordinary and vulgar materials of flesh and blood. A
gauntnaked form was seenfor a single instanttossing
its arms wildly in the airand then the spot it had filled
was vacant; the figure appearing suddenly in some other and
distant placeor being succeeded by anotherpossessing the
same mysterious character. Davidobserving that his
companion lingeredpursued the direction of his gazeand
in some measure recalled the recollection of Heywardby
speaking.

There is much fruitful soil uncultivated here,he said;
and, I may add, without the sinful leaven of self-commendation,
that, since my short sojourn in these heathenish abodes, much
good seed has been scattered by the wayside.

The tribes are fonder of the chase than of the arts of men
of labor,returned the unconscious Duncanstill gazing at
the objects of his wonder.

It is rather joy than labor to the spirit, to lift up the
voice in praise; but sadly do these boys abuse their gifts.
Rarely have I found any of their age, on whom nature has so
freely bestowed the elements of psalmody; and surely,
surely, there are none who neglect them more. Three nights
have I now tarried here, and three several times have I
assembled the urchins to join in sacred song; and as often
have they responded to my efforts with whoopings and
howlings that have chilled my soul!

Of whom speak you?

Of those children of the devil, who waste the precious
moments in yonder idle antics. Ah! the wholesome restraint
of discipline is but little known among this self-abandoned
people. In a country of birches, a rod is never seen, and
it ought not to appear a marvel in my eyes, that the
choicest blessings of Providence are wasted in such cries as
these.

David closed his ears against the juvenile packwhose yell
just then rang shrilly through the forest; and Duncan
suffering his lip to curlas in mockery of his own
superstitionsaid firmly:

We will proceed.

Without removing the safeguards form his earsthe master of
song compliedand together they pursued their way toward


what David was sometimes wont to call the "tents of the
Philistines."

CHAPTER 23

But though the beast of game The privilege of chase may
claim; Though space and law the stag we lend Ere hound we
slip, or bow we bend; Whoever recked, where, how, or when
The prowling fox was trapped or slain?--Lady of the Lake

It is unusual to find an encampment of the nativeslike
those of the more instructed whitesguarded by the presence
of armed men. Well informed of the approach of every
dangerwhile it is yet at a distancethe Indian generally
rests secure under his knowledge of the signs of the forest
and the long and difficult paths that separate him from
those he has most reason to dread. But the enemy whoby
any lucky concurrence of accidentshas found means to elude
the vigilance of the scoutswill seldom meet with sentinels
nearer home to sound the alarm. In addition to this general
usagethe tribes friendly to the French knew too well the
weight of the blow that had just been struckto apprehend
any immediate danger from the hostile nations that were
tributary to the crown of Britain.

When Duncan and Davidthereforefound themselves in the
center of the childrenwho played the antics already
mentionedit was without the least previous intimation of
their approach. But so soon as they were observed the whole
of the juvenile pack raisedby common consenta shrill and
warning whoop; and then sankas it wereby magicfrom
before the sight of their visitors. The nakedtawny bodies
of the crouching urchins blended so nicely at that hour
with the withered herbagethat at first it seemed as if the
earth hadin truthswallowed up their forms; though when
surprise permitted Duncan to bend his look more curiously
about the spothe found it everywhere met by darkquick
and rolling eyeballs.

Gathering no encouragement from this startling presage of
the nature of the scrutiny he was likely to undergo from the
more mature judgments of the menthere was an instant when
the young soldier would have retreated. It washowever
too late to appear to hesitate. The cry of the children had
drawn a dozen warriors to the door of the nearest lodge
where they stood clustered in a dark and savage group
gravely awaiting the nearer approach of those who had
unexpectedly come among them.

Davidin some measure familiarized to the sceneled the
way with a steadiness that no slight obstacle was likely to
disconcertinto this very building. It was the principal
edifice of the villagethough roughly constructed of the
bark and branches of trees; being the lodge in which the
tribe held its councils and public meetings during their
temporary residence on the borders of the English province.
Duncan found it difficult to assume the necessary appearance
of unconcernas he brushed the dark and powerful frames of
the savages who thronged its threshold; butconscious that
his existence depended on his presence of mindhe trusted
to the discretion of his companionwhose footsteps he
closely followedendeavoringas he proceededto rally his


thoughts for the occasion. His blood curdled when he found
himself in absolute contact with such fierce and implacable
enemies; but he so far mastered his feelings as to pursue
his way into the center of the lodgewith an exterior that
did not betray the weakness. Imitating the example of the
deliberate Gamuthe drew a bundle of fragrant brush from
beneath a pile that filled the corner of the hutand seated
himself in silence.

So soon as their visitor had passedthe observant warriors
fell back from the entranceand arranging themselves about
himthey seemed patiently to await the moment when it might
comport with the dignity of the stranger to speak. By far
the greater number stood leaningin lazylounging
attitudesagainst the upright posts that supported the
crazy buildingwhile three or four of the oldest and most
distinguished of the chiefs placed themselves on the earth a
little more in advance.

A flaring torch was burning in the placeand set its red
glare from face to face and figure to figureas it waved in
the currents of air. Duncan profited by its light to read
the probable character of his receptionin the countenances
of his hosts. But his ingenuity availed him littleagainst
the cold artifices of the people he had encountered. The
chiefs in front scarce cast a glance at his personkeeping
their eyes on the groundwith an air that might have been
intended for respectbut which it was quite easy to
construe into distrust. The men in the shadow were less
reserved. Duncan soon detected their searchingbut stolen
looks whichin truthscanned his person and attire inch by
inch; leaving no emotion of the countenanceno gestureno
line of the paintnor even the fashion of a garment
unheededand without comment.

At length one whose hair was beginning to be sprinkled with
graybut whose sinewy limbs and firm tread announced that
he was still equal to the duties of manhoodadvanced out of
the gloom of a cornerwhither he had probably posted
himself to make his observations unseenand spoke. He used
the language of the Wyandotsor Hurons; his words were
consequentlyunintelligible to Heywardthough they seemed
by the gestures that accompanied themto be uttered more in
courtesy than anger. The latter shook his headand made a
gesture indicative of his inability to reply.

Do none of my brothers speak the French or the English?he
saidin the former languagelooking about him from
countenance to countenancein hopes of finding a nod of
assent.

Though more than one had turnedas if to catch the meaning
of his wordsthey remained unanswered.

I should be grieved to think,continued Duncanspeaking
slowlyand using the simplest French of which he was the
masterto believe that none of this wise and brave nation
understand the language that the'Grand Monarque' uses when
he talks to his children. His heart would be heavy did he
believe his red warriors paid him so little respect!

A long and grave pause succeededduring which no movement
of a limbnor any expression of an eyebetrayed the
expression produced by his remark. Duncanwho knew that


silence was a virtue among his hostsgladly had recourse to
the customin order to arrange his ideas. At length the
same warrior who had before addressed him repliedby dryly
demandingin the language of the Canadas:

When our Great Father speaks to his people, is it with the
tongue of a Huron?

He knows no difference in his children, whether the color
of the skin be red, or black, or white,returned Duncan
evasively; "though chiefly is he satisfied with the brave
Hurons."

In what manner will he speak,demanded the wary chief
when the runners count to him the scalps which five nights
ago grew on the heads of the Yengeese?

They were his enemies,said Duncanshuddering
involuntarily; "and doubtlesshe will sayit is good; my
Hurons are very gallant."

Our Canada father does not think it. Instead of looking
forward to reward his Indians, his eyes are turned backward.
He sees the dead Yengeese, but no Huron. What can this
mean?

A great chief, like him, has more thoughts than tongues.
He looks to see that no enemies are on his trail.

The canoe of a dead warrior will not float on the Horican,
returned the savagegloomily. "His ears are open to the
Delawareswho are not our friendsand they fill them with
lies."

It cannot be. See; he has bid me, who am a man that knows
the art of healing, to go to his children, the red Hurons of
the great lakes, and ask if any are sick!

Another silence succeeded this annunciation of the character
Duncan had assumed. Every eye was simultaneously bent on
his personas if to inquire into the truth or falsehood of
the declarationwith an intelligence and keenness that
caused the subject of their scrutiny to tremble for the
result. He washoweverrelieved again by the former
speaker.

Do the cunning men of the Canadas paint their skins?the
Huron coldly continued; "we have heard them boast that their
faces were pale."

When an Indian chief comes among his white fathers,
returned Duncanwith great steadinesshe lays aside his
buffalo robe, to carry the shirt that is offered him. My
brothers have given me paint and I wear it.

A low murmur of applause announced that the compliment of
the tribe was favorably received. The elderly chief made a
gesture of commendationwhich was answered by most of his
companionswho each threw forth a hand and uttered a brief
exclamation of pleasure. Duncan began to breathe more
freelybelieving that the weight of his examination was
past; andas he had already prepared a simple and probable
tale to support his pretended occupationhis hopes of
ultimate success grew brighter.


After a silence of a few momentsas if adjusting his
thoughtsin order to make a suitable answer to the
declaration their guests had just givenanother warrior
aroseand placed himself in an attitude to speak. While
his lips were yet in the act of partinga low but fearful
sound arose from the forestand was immediately succeeded
by a highshrill yellthat was drawn outuntil it equaled
the longest and most plaintive howl of the wolf. The sudden
and terrible interruption caused Duncan to start from his
seatunconscious of everything but the effect produced by
so frightful a cry. At the same momentthe warriors glided
in a body from the lodgeand the outer air was filled with
loud shoutsthat nearly drowned those awful soundswhich
were still ringing beneath the arches of the woods. Unable
to command himself any longerthe youth broke from the
placeand presently stood in the center of a disorderly
throngthat included nearly everything having lifewithin
the limits of the encampment. Menwomenand children; the
agedthe informthe activeand the strongwere alike
abroadsome exclaiming aloudothers clapping their hands
with a joy that seemed franticand all expressing their
savage pleasure in some unexpected event. Though astounded
at firstby the uproarHeyward was soon enabled to find
its solution by the scene that followed.

There yet lingered sufficient light in the heavens to
exhibit those bright openings among the tree-topswhere
different paths left the clearing to enter the depths of the
wilderness. Beneath one of thema line of warriors issued
from the woodsand advanced slowly toward the dwellings.
One in front bore a short poleon whichas it afterwards
appearedwere suspended several human scalps. The
startling sounds that Duncan had heard were what the whites
have not inappropriately called the "death-hallo"; and each
repetition of the cry was intended to announce to the tribe
the fate of an enemy. Thus far the knowledge of Heyward
assisted him in the explanation; and as he now knew that the
interruption was caused by the unlooked-for return of a
successful war-partyevery disagreeable sensation was
quieted in inward congratulationfor the opportune relief
and insignificance it conferred on himself.

When at the distance of a few hundred feet from the lodges
the newly arrived warriors halted. Their plaintive and
terrific crywhich was intended to represent equally the
wailings of the dead and the triumph to the victorshad
entirely ceased. One of their number now called aloudin
words that were far from appallingthough not more
intelligible to those for whose ears they were intended
than their expressive yells. It would be difficult to
convey a suitable idea of the savage ecstasy with which the
news thus imparted was received. The whole encampmentin a
momentbecame a scene of the most violent bustle and
commotion. The warriors drew their knivesand flourishing
themthey arranged themselves in two linesforming a lane
that extended from the war-party to the lodges. The squaws
seized clubsaxesor whatever weapon of offense first
offered itself to their handsand rushed eagerly to act
their part in the cruel game that was at hand. Even the
children would not be excluded; but boyslittle able to
wield the instrumentstore the tomahawks from the belts of
their fathersand stole into the ranksapt imitators of
the savage traits exhibited by their parents.


Large piles of brush lay scattered about the clearingand a
wary and aged squaw was occupied in firing as many as might
serve to light the coming exhibition. As the flame arose
its power exceeded that of the parting dayand assisted to
render objects at the same time more distinct and more
hideous. The whole scene formed a striking picturewhose
frame was composed of the dark and tall border of pines.
The warriors just arrived were the most distant figures. A
little in advance stood two menwho were apparently
selected from the restas the principal actors in what was
to follow. The light was not strong enough to render their
features distinctthough it was quite evident that they
were governed by very different emotions. While one stood
erect and firmprepared to meet his fate like a herothe
other bowed his headas if palsied by terror or stricken
with shame. The high-spirited Duncan felt a powerful
impulse of admiration and pity toward the formerthough no
opportunity could offer to exhibit his generous emotions.
He watched his slightest movementhoweverwith eager eyes;
andas he traced the fine outline of his admirably
proportioned and active framehe endeavored to persuade
himselfthatif the powers of manseconded by such noble
resolutioncould bear one harmless through so severe a
trialthe youthful captive before him might hope for
success in the hazardous race he was about to run.
Insensibly the young man drew nigher to the swarthy lines of
the Huronsand scarcely breathedso intense became his
interest in the spectacle. Just then the signal yell was
givenand the momentary quiet which had preceded it was
broken by a burst of criesthat far exceeded any before
heard. The more abject of the two victims continued
motionless; but the other bounded from the place at the cry
with the activity and swiftness of a deer. Instead of
rushing through the hostile linesas had been expectedhe
just entered the dangerous defileand before time was given
for a single blowturned shortand leaping the heads of a
row of childrenhe gained at once the exterior and safer
side of the formidable array. The artifice was answered by
a hundred voices raised in imprecations; and the whole of
the excited multitude broke from their orderand spread
themselves about the place in wild confusion.

A dozen blazing piles now shed their lurid brightness on the
placewhich resembled some unhallowed and supernatural
arenain which malicious demons had assembled to act their
bloody and lawless rites. The forms in the background
looked like unearthly beingsgliding before the eyeand
cleaving the air with frantic and unmeaning gestures; while
the savage passions of such as passed the flames were
rendered fearfully distinct by the gleams that shot athwart
their inflamed visages.

It will easily be understood thatamid such a concourse of
vindictive enemiesno breathing time was allowed the
fugitive. There was a single moment when it seemed as if he
would have reached the forestbut the whole body of his
captors threw themselves before himand drove him back into
the center of his relentless persecutors. Turning like a
headed deerhe shotwith the swiftness of an arrow
through a pillar of forked flameand passing the whole
multitude harmlesshe appeared on the opposite side of the
clearing. Heretoohe was met and turned by a few of the
older and more subtle of the Hurons. Once more he tried the


throngas if seeking safety in its blindnessand then
several moments succeededduring which Duncan believed the
active and courageous young stranger was lost.

Nothing could be distinguished but a dark mass of human
forms tossed and involved in inexplicable confusion. Arms
gleaming knivesand formidable clubsappeared above them
but the blows were evidently given at random. The awful
effect was heightened by the piercing shrieks of the women
and the fierce yells of the warriors. Now and then Duncan
caught a glimpse of a light form cleaving the air in some
desperate boundand he rather hoped than believed that the
captive yet retained the command of his astonishing powers
of activity. Suddenly the multitude rolled backwardand
approached the spot where he himself stood. The heavy body
in the rear pressed upon the women and children in front
and bore them to the earth. The stranger reappeared in the
confusion. Human power could nothowevermuch longer
endure so severe a trial. Of this the captive seemed
conscious. Profiting by the momentary openinghe darted
from among the warriorsand made a desperateand what
seemed to Duncan a final effort to gain the wood. As if
aware that no danger was to be apprehended from the young
soldierthe fugitive nearly brushed his person in his
flight. A tall and powerful Huronwho had husbanded his
forcespressed close upon his heelsand with an uplifted
arm menaced a fatal blow. Duncan thrust forth a footand
the shock precipitated the eager savage headlongmany feet
in advance of his intended victim. Thought itself is not
quicker than was the motion with which the latter profited
by the advantage; he turnedgleamed like a meteor again
before the eyes of Duncanandat the next momentwhen the
latter recovered his recollectionand gazed around in quest
of the captivehe saw him quietly leaning against a small
painted postwhich stood before the door of the principal
lodge.

Apprehensive that the part he had taken in the escape might
prove fatal to himselfDuncan left the place without delay.
He followed the crowdwhich drew nigh the lodgesgloomy
and sullenlike any other multitude that had been
disappointed in an execution. Curiosityor perhaps a
better feelinginduced him to approach the stranger. He
found himstanding with one arm cast about the protecting
postand breathing thick and hardafter his exertionsbut
disdaining to permit a single sign of suffering to escape.
His person was now protected by immemorial and sacred usage
until the tribe in council had deliberated and determined on
his fate. It was not difficulthoweverto foretell the
resultif any presage could be drawn from the feelings of
those who crowded the place.

There was no term of abuse known to the Huron vocabulary
that the disappointed women did not lavishly expend on the
successful stranger. They flouted at his effortsand told
himwith bitter scoffsthat his feet were better than his
hands; and that he merited wingswhile he knew not the use
of an arrow or a knife. To all this the captive made no
reply; but was content to preserve an attitude in which
dignity was singularly blended with disdain. Exasperated as
much by his composure as by his good-fortunetheir words
became unintelligibleand were succeeded by shrill
piercing yells. Just then the crafty squawwho had taken
the necessary precaution to fire the pilesmade her way


through the throngand cleared a place for herself in front
of the captive. The squalid and withered person of this hag
might well have obtained for her the character of possessing
more than human cunning. Throwing back her light vestment
she stretched forth her longskinny armin derisionand
using the language of the Lenapeas more intelligible to
the subject of her gibesshe commenced aloud:

Look you, Delaware,she saidsnapping her fingers in his
face; "your nation is a race of womenand the hoe is better
fitted to your hands than the gun. Your squaws are the
mothers of deer; but if a bearor a wildcator a serpent
were born among youye would flee. The Huron girls shall
make you petticoatsand we will find you a husband."

A burst of savage laughter succeeded this attackduring
which the soft and musical merriment of the younger females
strangely chimed with the cracked voice of their older and
more malignant companion. But the stranger was superior to
all their efforts. His head was immovable; nor did he
betray the slightest consciousness that any were present
except when his haughty eye rolled toward the dusky forms of
the warriorswho stalked in the background silent and
sullen observers of the scene.

Infuriated at the self-command of the captivethe woman
placed her arms akimbo; andthrowing herself into a posture
of defianceshe broke out anewin a torrent of words that
no art of ours could commit successfully to paper. Her
breath washoweverexpended in vain; foralthough
distinguished in her nation as a proficient in the art of
abuseshe was permitted to work herself into such a fury as
actually to foam at the mouthwithout causing a muscle to
vibrate in the motionless figure of the stranger. The
effect of his indifference began to extend itself to the
other spectators; and a youngsterwho was just quitting the
condition of a boy to enter the state of manhoodattempted
to assist the termagantby flourishing his tomahawk before
their victimand adding his empty boasts to the taunts of
the women. Thenindeedthe captive turned his face toward
the lightand looked down on the stripling with an
expression that was superior to contempt. At the next
moment he resumed his quiet and reclining attitude against
the post. But the change of posture had permitted Duncan to
exchange glances with the firm and piercing eyes of Uncas.

Breathless with amazementand heavily oppressed with the
critical situation of his friendHeyward recoiled before
the looktrembling lest its meaning mightin some unknown
mannerhasten the prisoner's fate. There was nothowever
any instant cause for such an apprehension. Just then a
warrior forced his way into the exasperated crowd.
Motioning the women and children aside with a stern gesture
he took Uncas by the armand led him toward the door of the
council-lodge. Thither all the chiefsand most of the
distinguished warriorsfollowed; among whom the anxious
Heyward found means to enter without attracting any
dangerous attention to himself.

A few minutes were consumed in disposing of those present in
a manner suitable to their rank and influence in the tribe.
An order very similar to that adopted in the preceding
interview was observed; the aged and superior chiefs
occupying the area of the spacious apartmentwithin the


powerful light of a glaring torchwhile their juniors and
inferiors were arranged in the backgroundpresenting a dark
outline of swarthy and marked visages. In the very center
of the lodgeimmediately under an opening that admitted the
twinkling light of one or two starsstood Uncascalm
elevatedand collected. His high and haughty carriage was
not lost on his captorswho often bent their looks on his
personwith eyes whichwhile they lost none of their
inflexibility of purposeplainly betrayed their admiration
of the stranger's daring.

The case was different with the individual whom Duncan had
observed to stand forth with his friendpreviously to the
desperate trial of speed; and whoinstead of joining in the
chasehad remainedthroughout its turbulent uproarlike a
cringing statueexpressive of shame and disgrace. Though
not a hand had been extended to greet himnor yet an eye
had condescended to watch his movementshe had also entered
the lodgeas though impelled by a fate to whose decrees he
submittedseeminglywithout a struggle. Heyward profited
by the first opportunity to gaze in his facesecretly
apprehensive he might find the features of another
acquaintance; but they proved to be those of a stranger
andwhat was still more inexplicableof one who bore all
the distinctive marks of a Huron warrior. Instead of
mingling with his tribehoweverhe sat aparta solitary
being in a multitudehis form shrinking into a crouching
and abject attitudeas if anxious to fill as little space
as possible. When each individual had taken his proper
stationand silence reigned in the placethe gray-haired
chief already introduced to the readerspoke aloudin the
language of the Lenni Lenape.

Delaware,he saidthough one of a nation of women, you
have proved yourself a man. I would give you food; but he
who eats with a Huron should become his friend. Rest in
peace till the morning sun, when our last words shall be
spoken.

Seven nights, and as many summer days, have I fasted on the
trail of the Hurons,Uncas coldly replied; "the children of
the Lenape know how to travel the path of the just without
lingering to eat."

Two of my young men are in pursuit of your companion,
resumed the otherwithout appearing to regard the boast of
his captive; "when they get backthen will our wise man say
to you 'live' or 'die'."

Has a Huron no ears?scornfully exclaimed Uncas; "twice
since he has been your prisonerhas the Delaware heard a
gun that he knows. Your young men will never come back!"

A short and sullen pause succeeded this bold assertion.
Duncanwho understood the Mohican to allude to the fatal
rifle of the scoutbent forward in earnest observation of
the effect it might produce on the conquerors; but the chief
was content with simply retorting:

If the Lenape are so skillful, why is one of their bravest
warriors here?

He followed in the steps of a flying coward, and fell into
a snare. The cunning beaver may be caught.


As Uncas thus repliedhe pointed with his finger toward the
solitary Huronbut without deigning to bestow any other
notice on so unworthy an object. The words of the answer
and the air of the speaker produced a strong sensation among
his auditors. Every eye rolled sullenly toward the
individual indicated by the simple gestureand a low
threatening murmur passed through the crowd. The ominous
sounds reached the outer doorand the women and children
pressing into the throngno gap had been leftbetween
shoulder and shoulderthat was not now filled with the dark
lineaments of some eager and curious human countenance.

In the meantimethe more aged chiefsin the center
communed with each other in short and broken sentences. Not
a word was uttered that did not convey the meaning of the
speakerin the simplest and most energetic form. Againa
long and deeply solemn pause took place. It was knownby
all presentto be the brave precursor of a weighty and
important judgment. They who composed the outer circle of
faces were on tiptoe to gaze; and even the culprit for an
instant forgot his shame in a deeper emotionand exposed
his abject featuresin order to cast an anxious and
troubled glance at the dark assemblage of chiefs. The
silence was finally broken by the aged warrior so often
named. He arose from the earthand moving past the
immovable form of Uncasplaced himself in a dignified
attitude before the offender. At that momentthe withered
squaw already mentioned moved into the circlein a slow
sidling sort of a danceholding the torchand muttering
the indistinct words of what might have been a species of
incantation. Though her presence was altogether an
intrusionit was unheeded.

Approaching Uncasshe held the blazing brand in such a
manner as to cast its red glare on his personand to expose
the slightest emotion of his countenance. The Mohican
maintained his firm and haughty attitude; and his eyesso
far from deigning to meet her inquisitive lookdwelt
steadily on the distanceas though it penetrated the
obstacles which impeded the view and looked into futurity.
Satisfied with her examinationshe left himwith a slight
expression of pleasureand proceeded to practise the same
trying experiment on her delinquent countryman.

The young Huron was in his war paintand very little of a
finely molded form was concealed by his attire. The light
rendered every limb and joint discernibleand Duncan turned
away in horror when he saw they were writhing in
irrepressible agony. The woman was commencing a low and
plaintive howl at the sad and shameful spectaclewhen the
chief put forth his hand and gently pushed her aside.

Reed-that-bends,he saidaddressing the young culprit by
nameand in his proper languagethough the Great Spirit
has made you pleasant to the eyes, it would have been better
that you had not been born. Your tongue is loud in the
village, but in battle it is still. None of my young men
strike the tomahawk deeper into the war- post -- none of
them so lightly on the Yengeese. The enemy know the shape
of your back, but they have never seen the color of your
eyes. Three times have they called on you to come, and as
often did you forget to answer. Your name will never be
mentioned again in your tribe -- it is already forgotten.


As the chief slowly uttered these wordspausing
impressively between each sentencethe culprit raised his
facein deference to the other's rank and years. Shame
horrorand pride struggled in its lineaments. His eye
which was contracted with inward anguishgleamed on the
persons of those whose breath was his fame; and the latter
emotion for an instant predominated. He arose to his feet
and baring his bosomlooked steadily on the keen
glittering knifethat was already upheld by his inexorable
judge. As the weapon passed slowly into his heart he even
smiledas if in joy at having found death less dreadful
than he had anticipatedand fell heavily on his faceat
the feet of the rigid and unyielding form of Uncas.

The squaw gave a loud and plaintive yelldashed the torch
to the earthand buried everything in darkness. The whole
shuddering group of spectators glided from the lodge like
troubled sprites; and Duncan thought that he and the yet
throbbing body of the victim of an Indian judgment had now
become its only tenants.

CHAPTER 24

Thus spoke the sage: the kings without delay Dissolve the
council, and their chief obey.--Pope's Iliad

A single moment served to convince the youth that he was
mistaken. A hand was laidwith a powerful pressureon his
armand the low voice of Uncas muttered in his ear:

The Hurons are dogs. The sight of a coward's blood can
never make a warrior tremble. The 'Gray Head' and the
Sagamore are safe, and the rifle of Hawkeye is not asleep.
Go -- Uncas and the 'Open Hand' are now strangers. It is
enough.

Heyward would gladly have heard morebut a gentle push from
his friend urged him toward the doorand admonished him of
the danger that might attend the discovery of their
intercourse. Slowly and reluctantly yielding to the
necessityhe quitted the placeand mingled with the throng
that hovered nigh. The dying fires in the clearing cast a
dim and uncertain light on the dusky figures that were
silently stalking to and fro; and occasionally a brighter
gleam than common glanced into the lodgeand exhibited the
figure of Uncas still maintaining its upright attitude near
the dead body of the Huron.

A knot of warriors soon entered the place againand
reissuingthey bore the senseless remains into the adjacent
woods. After this termination of the sceneDuncan wandered
among the lodgesunquestioned and unnoticedendeavoring to
find some trace of her in whose behalf he incurred the risk
he ran. In the present temper of the tribe it would have
been easy to have fled and rejoined his companionshad such
a wish crossed his mind. Butin addition to the never-ceasing
anxiety on account of Alicea fresher though feebler interest
in the fate of Uncas assisted to chain him to the spot. He
continuedthereforeto stray from hut to hutlooking into
each only to encounter additional disappointmentuntil he had
made the entire circuit of the village. Abandoning a species of


inquiry that proved so fruitlesshe retraced his steps to the
council-lodgeresolved to seek and question Davidin order to
put an end to his doubts.

On reaching the buildingwhich had proved alike the seat of
judgment and the place of executionthe young man found
that the excitement had already subsided. The warriors had
reassembledand were now calmly smokingwhile they
conversed gravely on the chief incidents of their recent
expedition to the head of the Horican. Though the return of
Duncan was likely to remind them of his characterand the
suspicious circumstances of his visitit produced no
visible sensation. So farthe terrible scene that had just
occurred proved favorable to his viewsand he required no
other prompter than his own feelings to convince him of the
expediency of profiting by so unexpected an advantage.

Without seeming to hesitatehe walked into the lodgeand
took his seat with a gravity that accorded admirably with
the deportment of his hosts. A hasty but searching glance
sufficed to tell him thatthough Uncas still remained where
he had left himDavid had not reappeared. No other
restraint was imposed on the former than the watchful looks
of a young Huronwho had placed himself at hand; though an
armed warrior leaned against the post that formed one side
of the narrow doorway. In every other respectthe captive
seemed at liberty; still he was excluded from all
participation in the discourseand possessed much more of
the air of some finely molded statue than a man having life
and volition.

Heyward had too recently witnessed a frightful instance of
the prompt punishments of the people into whose hands he had
fallen to hazard an exposure by any officious boldness. He
would greatly have preferred silence and meditation to
speechwhen a discovery of his real condition might prove
so instantly fatal. Unfortunately for this prudent
resolutionhis entertainers appeared otherwise disposed.
He had not long occupied the seat wisely taken a little in
the shadewhen another of the elder warriorswho spoke the
French languageaddressed him:

My Canada father does not forget his children,said the
chief; "I thank him. An evil spirit lives in the wife of
one of my young men. Can the cunning stranger frighten him
away?"

Heyward possessed some knowledge of the mummery practised
among the Indiansin the cases of such supposed
visitations. He sawat a glancethat the circumstance
might possibly be improved to further his own ends. It
wouldthereforehave been difficultjust then to have
uttered a proposal that would have given him more
satisfaction. Aware of the necessity of preserving the
dignity of his imaginary characterhoweverhe repressed
his feelingsand answered with suitable mystery:

Spirits differ; some yield to the power of wisdom, while
others are too strong.

My brother is a great medicine,said the cunning savage;
he will try?

A gesture of assent was the answer. The Huron was content


with the assuranceandresuming his pipehe awaited the
proper moment to move. The impatient Heywardinwardly

execrating the cold customs of the savageswhich required
such sacrifices to appearancewas fain to assume an air of
indifferenceequal to that maintained by the chiefwho
wasin trutha near relative of the afflicted woman. The
minutes lingeredand the delay had seemed an hour to the
adventurer in empiricismwhen the Huron laid aside his pipe
and drew his robe across his breastas if about to lead the
way to the lodge of the invalid. Just thena warrior of
powerful framedarkened the doorand stalking silently
among the attentive grouphe seated himself on one end of
the low pile of brush which sustained Duncan. The latter
cast an impatient look at his neighborand felt his flesh
creep with uncontrollable horror when he found himself in
actual contact with Magua.

The sudden return of this artful and dreaded chief caused a
delay in the departure of the Huron. Several pipesthat
had been extinguishedwere lighted again; while the
newcomerwithout speaking a worddrew his tomahawk from
his girdleand filling the bowl on its head began to inhale
the vapors of the weed through the hollow handlewith as
much indifference as if he had not been absent two weary
days on a long and toilsome hunt. Ten minuteswhich
appeared so many ages to Duncanmight have passed in this
manner; and the warriors were fairly enveloped in a cloud of
white smoke before any of them spoke.

Welcome!one at length uttered; "has my friend found the
moose?"

The young men stagger under their burdens,returned Magua.
Let 'Reed-that-bends' go on the hunting path; he will meet
them.

A deep and awful silence succeeded the utterance of the
forbidden name. Each pipe dropped from the lips of its
owner as though all had inhaled an impurity at the same
instant. The smoke wreathed above their heads in little
eddiesand curling in a spiral form it ascended swiftly
through the opening in the roof of the lodgeleaving the
place beneath clear of its fumesand each dark visage
distinctly visible. The looks of most of the warriors were
riveted on the earth; though a few of the younger and less
gifted of the party suffered their wild and glaring eyeballs
to roll in the direction of a white-headed savagewho sat
between two of the most venerated chiefs of the tribe.
There was nothing in the air or attire of this Indian that
would seem to entitle him to such a distinction. The former
was rather depressedthan remarkable for the bearing of the
natives; and the latter was such as was commonly worn by the
ordinary men of the nation. Like most around him for more
than a minute his looktoowas on the ground; but
trusting his eyes at length to steal a glance asidehe
perceived that he was becoming an object of general
attention. Then he arose and lifted his voice in the
general silence.

It was a lie,he said; "I had no son. He who was called
by that name is forgotten; his blood was paleand it came
not from the veins of a Huron; the wicked Chippewas cheated
my squaw. The Great Spirit has saidthat the family of


Wiss-entush should end; he is happy who knows that the evil
of his race dies with himself. I have done."

The speakerwho was the father of the recreant young
Indianlooked round and about himas if seeking
commendation of his stoicism in the eyes of the auditors.
But the stern customs of his people had made too severe an
exaction of the feeble old man. The expression of his eye
contradicted his figurative and boastful languagewhile
every muscle in his wrinkled visage was working with
anguish. Standing a single minute to enjoy his bitter
triumphhe turned awayas if sickening at the gaze of men
andveiling his face in his blankethe walked from the
lodge with the noiseless step of an Indian seekingin the
privacy of his own abodethe sympathy of one like himself
agedforlorn and childless.

The Indianswho believe in the hereditary transmission of
virtues and defects in charactersuffered him to depart in
silence. Thenwith an elevation of breeding that many in a
more cultivated state of society might profitably emulate
one of the chiefs drew the attention of the young men from
the weakness they had just witnessedby sayingin a
cheerful voiceaddressing himself in courtesy to Maguaas
the newest comer:

The Delawares have been like bears after the honey pots,
prowling around my village. But who has ever found a Huron
asleep?

The darkness of the impending cloud which precedes a burst
of thunder was not blacker than the brow of Magua as he
exclaimed:

The Delawares of the Lakes!

Not so. They who wear the petticoats of squaws, on their
own river. One of them has been passing the tribe.

Did my young men take his scalp?

His legs were good, though his arm is better for the hoe
than the tomahawk,returned the otherpointing to the
immovable form of Uncas.

Instead of manifesting any womanish curiosity to feast his
eyes with the sight of a captive from a people he was known
to have so much reason to hateMagua continued to smoke
with the meditative air that he usually maintainedwhen
there was no immediate call on his cunning or his eloquence.
Although secretly amazed at the facts communicated by the
speech of the aged fatherhe permitted himself to ask no
questionsreserving his inquiries for a more suitable
moment. It was only after a sufficient interval that he
shook the ashes from his pipereplaced the tomahawk
tightened his girdleand arosecasting for the first time
a glance in the direction of the prisonerwho stood a
little behind him. The warythough seemingly abstracted
Uncascaught a glimpse of the movementand turning
suddenly to the lighttheir looks met. Near a minute these
two bold and untamed spirits stood regarding one another
steadily in the eyeneither quailing in the least before
the fierce gaze he encountered. The form of Uncas dilated
and his nostrils opened like those of a tiger at bay; but so


rigid and unyielding was his posturethat he might easily
have been converted by the imagination into an exquisite and
faultless representation of the warlike deity of his tribe.
The lineaments of the quivering features of Magua proved
more ductile; his countenance gradually lost its character
of defiance in an expression of ferocious joyand heaving a
breath from the very bottom of his chesthe pronounced
aloud the formidable name of:

Le Cerf Agile!

Each warrior sprang upon his feet at the utterance of the
well-known appellationand there was a short period during
which the stoical constancy of the natives was completely
conquered by surprise. The hated and yet respected name was
repeated as by one voicecarrying the sound even beyond the
limits of the lodge. The women and childrenwho lingered
around the entrancetook up the words in an echowhich was
succeeded by another shrill and plaintive howl. The latter
was not yet endedwhen the sensation among the men had
entirely abated. Each one in presence seated himselfas
though ashamed of his precipitation; but it was many minutes
before their meaning eyes ceased to roll toward their
captivein curious examination of a warrior who had so
often proved his prowess on the best and proudest of their
nation. Uncas enjoyed his victorybut was content with
merely exhibiting his triumph by a quiet smile -- an emblem
of scorn which belongs to all time and every nation.

Magua caught the expressionand raising his armhe shook
it at the captivethe light silver ornaments attached to
his bracelet rattling with the trembling agitation of the
limbasin a tone of vengeancehe exclaimedin English:

Mohican, you die!

The healing waters will never bring the dead Hurons to
life,returned Uncasin the music of the Delawares; "the
tumbling river washes their bones; their men are squaws:
their women owls. Go! call together the Huron dogsthat
they may look upon a warriorMy nostrils are offended; they
scent the blood of a coward."

The latter allusion struck deepand the injury rankled.
Many of the Hurons understood the strange tongue in which
the captive spokeamong which number was Magua. This
cunning savage beheldand instantly profited by his
advantage. Dropping the light robe of skin from his
shoulderhe stretched forth his armand commenced a burst
of his dangerous and artful eloquence. However much his
influence among his people had been impaired by his
occasional and besetting weaknessas well as by his
desertion of the tribehis courage and his fame as an
orator were undeniable. He never spoke without auditors
and rarely without making converts to his opinions. On the
present occasionhis native powers were stimulated by the
thirst of revenge.

He again recounted the events of the attack on the island at
Glenn'sthe death of his associates and the escape of their
most formidable enemies. Then he described the nature and
position of the mount whither he had led such captives as
had fallen into their hands. Of his own bloody intentions
toward the maidensand of his baffled malice he made no


mentionbut passed rapidly on to the surprise of the party
by "La Longue Carabine and its fatal termination. Here he
paused, and looked about him, in affected veneration for the
departed, but, in truth, to note the effect of his opening
narrative. As usual, every eye was riveted on his face.
Each dusky figure seemed a breathing statue, so motionless
was the posture, so intense the attention of the individual.

Then Magua dropped his voice which had hitherto been clear,
strong and elevated, and touched upon the merits of the
dead. No quality that was likely to command the sympathy of
an Indian escaped his notice. One had never been known to
follow the chase in vain; another had been indefatigable on
the trail of their enemies. This was brave, that generous.
In short, he so managed his allusions, that in a nation
which was composed of so few families, he contrived to
strike every chord that might find, in its turn, some breast
in which to vibrate.

Are the bones of my young men he concluded, in the
burial-place of the Hurons? You know they are not. Their
spirits are gone toward the setting sunand are already
crossing the great watersto the happy hunting-grounds.
But they departed without foodwithout guns or knives
without moccasinsnaked and poor as they were born. Shall
this be? Are their souls to enter the land of the just like
hungry Iroquois or unmanly Delawaresor shall they meet
their friends with arms in their hands and robes on their
backs? What will our fathers think the tribes of the
Wyandots have become? They will look on their children with
a dark eyeand say'Go! a Chippewa has come hither with
the name of a Huron.' Brotherswe must not forget the dead;
a red-skin never ceases to remember. We will load the back
of this Mohican until he staggers under our bountyand
dispatch him after my young men. They call to us for aid
though our ears are not open; they say'Forget us not.' When
they see the spirit of this Mohican toiling after them with
his burdenthey will know we are of that mind. Then will
they go on happy; and our children will say'So did our
fathers to their friendsso must we do to them.' What is a
Yengee? we have slain manybut the earth is still pale. A
stain on the name of Huron can only be hid by blood that
comes from the veins of an Indian. Let this Delaware die."

The effect of such an haranguedelivered in the nervous
language and with the emphatic manner of a Huron orator
could scarcely be mistaken. Magua had so artfully blended
the natural sympathies with the religious superstition of
his auditorsthat their mindsalready prepared by custom
to sacrifice a victim to the manes of their countrymenlost
every vestige of humanity in a wish for revenge. One
warrior in particulara man of wild and ferocious mienhad
been conspicuous for the attention he had given to the words
of the speaker. His countenance had changed with each
passing emotionuntil it settled into a look of deadly
malice. As Magua ended he arose anduttering the yell of a
demonhis polished little axe was seen glancing in the
torchlight as he whirled it above his head. The motion and
the cry were too sudden for words to interrupt his bloody
intention. It appeared as if a bright gleam shot from his
handwhich was crossed at the same moment by a dark and
powerful line. The former was the tomahawk in its passage;
the latter the arm that Magua darted forward to divert its
aim. The quick and ready motion of the chief was not


entirely too late. The keen weapon cut the war plume from
the scalping tuft of Uncasand passed through the frail
wall of the lodge as though it were hurled from some
formidable engine.

Duncan had seen the threatening actionand sprang upon his
feetwith a heart whichwhile it leaped into his throat
swelled with the most generous resolution in behalf of his
friend. A glance told him that the blow had failedand
terror changed to admiration. Uncas stood stilllooking
his enemy in the eye with features that seemed superior to
emotion. Marble could not be coldercalmeror steadier
than the countenance he put upon this sudden and vindictive
attack. Thenas if pitying a want of skill which had
proved so fortunate to himselfhe smiledand muttered a
few words of contempt in his own tongue.

No!said Maguaafter satisfying himself of the safety of
the captive; "the sun must shine on his shame; the squaws
must see his flesh trembleor our revenge will be like the
play of boys. Go! take him where there is silence; let us
see if a Delaware can sleep at nightand in the morning
die."

The young men whose duty it was to guard the prisoner
instantly passed their ligaments of bark across his arms
and led him from the lodgeamid a profound and ominous
silence. It was only as the figure of Uncas stood in the
opening of the door that his firm step hesitated. There he
turnedandin the sweeping and haughty glance that he
threw around the circle of his enemiesDuncan caught a look
which he was glad to construe into an expression that he was
not entirely deserted by hope.

Magua was content with his successor too much occupied
with his secret purposes to push his inquiries any further.
Shaking his mantleand folding it on his bosomhe also
quitted the placewithout pursuing a subject which might
have proved so fatal to the individual at his elbow.
Notwithstanding his rising resentmenthis natural firmness
and his anxiety on behalf of UncasHeyward felt sensibly
relieved by the absence of so dangerous and so subtle a foe.
The excitement produced by the speech gradually subsided.
The warriors resumed their seats and clouds of smoke once
more filled the lodge. For near half an hournot a
syllable was utteredor scarcely a look cast aside; a grave
and meditative silence being the ordinary succession to
every scene of violence and commotion among these beings
who were alike so impetuous and yet so self-restrained.

When the chiefwho had solicited the aid of Duncan
finished his pipehe made a final and successful movement
toward departing. A motion of a finger was the intimation
he gave the supposed physician to follow; and passing
through the clouds of smokeDuncad was gladon more
accounts than oneto be able at last to breathe the pure
air of a cool and refreshing summer evening.

Instead of pursuing his way among those lodges where Heyward
had already made his unsuccessful searchhis companion
turned asideand proceeded directly toward the base of an
adjacent mountainwhich overhung the temporary village. A
thicket of brush skirted its footand it became necessary
to proceed through a crooked and narrow path. The boys had


resumed their sports in the clearingand were enacting a
mimic chase to the post among themselves. In order to
render their games as like the reality as possibleone of
the boldest of their number had conveyed a few brands into
some piles of tree-tops that had hitherto escaped the
burning. The blaze of one of these fires lighted the way of
the chief and Duncanand gave a character of additional
wildness to the rude scenery. At a little distance from a
bald rockand directly in its frontthey entered a grassy
openingwhich they prepared to cross. Just then fresh fuel
was added to the fireand a powerful light penetrated even
to that distant spot. It fell upon the white surface of the
mountainand was reflected downward upon a dark and
mysterious-looking being that aroseunexpectedlyin their
path. The Indian pausedas if doubtful whether to proceed
and permitted his companion to approach his side. A large
black ballwhich at first seemed stationarynow began to
move in a manner that to the latter was inexplicable. Again
the fire brightened and its glare fell more distinctly on
the object. Then even Duncan knew itby its restless and
sidling attitudeswhich kept the upper part of its form in
constant motionwhile the animal itself appeared seatedto
be a bear. Though it growled loudly and fiercelyand there
were instants when its glistening eyeballs might be seenit
gave no other indications of hostility. The Huronat
leastseemed assured that the intentions of this singular
intruder were peaceablefor after giving it an attentive
examinationhe quietly pursued his course.

Duncanwho knew that the animal was often domesticated
among the Indiansfollowed the example of his companion
believing that some favorite of the tribe had found its way
into the thicketin search of food. They passed it
unmolested. Though obliged to come nearly in contact with
the monsterthe Huronwho had at first so warily
determined the character of his strange visitorwas now
content with proceeding without wasting a moment in further
examination; but Heyward was unable to prevent his eyes from
looking backwardin salutary watchfulness against attacks
in the rear. His uneasiness was in no degree diminished
when he perceived the beast rolling along their pathand
following their footsteps. He would have spokenbut the
Indian at that moment shoved aside a door of barkand
entered a cavern in the bosom of the mountain.

Profiting by so easy a method of retreatDuncan stepped
after himand was gladly closing the slight cover to the
openingwhen he felt it drawn from his hand by the beast
whose shaggy form immediately darkened the passage. They
were now in a straight and long galleryin a chasm of the
rockswhere retreat without encountering the animal was
impossible. Making the best of the circumstancesthe young
man pressed forwardkeeping as close as possible to his
conductor. The bear growled frequently at his heelsand
once or twice its enormous paws were laid on his personas
if disposed to prevent his further passage into the den.

How long the nerves of Heyward would have sustained him in
this extraordinary situationit might be difficult to
decideforhappilyhe soon found relief. A glimmer of
light had constantly been in their frontand they now
arrived at the place whence it proceeded.

A large cavity in the rock had been rudely fitted to answer


the purposes of many apartments. The subdivisions were
simple but ingeniousbeing composed of stonesticksand
barkintermingled. Openings above admitted the light by
dayand at night fires and torches supplied the place of
the sun. Hither the Hurons had brought most of their
valuablesespecially those which more particularly
pertained to the nation; and hitheras it now appearedthe
sick womanwho was believed to be the victim of
supernatural powerhad been transported alsounder an
impression that her tormentor would find more difficulty in
making his assaults through walls of stone than through the
leafy coverings of the lodges. The apartment into which
Duncan and his guide first enteredhad been exclusively
devoted to her accommodation. The latter approached her
bedsidewhich was surrounded by femalesin the center of
whom Heyward was surprised to find his missing friend David.

A single look was sufficient to apprise the pretended leech
that the invalid was far beyond his powers of healing. She
lay in a sort of paralysisindifferent to the objects which
crowded before her sightand happily unconscious of
suffering. Heyward was far from regretting that his
mummeries were to be performed on one who was much too ill
to take an interest in their failure or success. The slight
qualm of conscience which had been excited by the intended
deception was instantly appeasedand he began to collect
his thoughtsin order to enact his part with suitable
spiritwhen he found he was about to be anticipated in his
skill by an attempt to prove the power of music.

Gamutwho had stood prepared to pour forth his spirit in
song when the visitors enteredafter delaying a moment
drew a strain from his pipeand commenced a hymn that might
have worked a miraclehad faith in its efficacy been of much
avail. He was allowed to proceed to the closethe Indians
respecting his imaginary infirmityand Duncan too glad of
the delay to hazard the slightest interruption. As the
dying cadence of his strains was falling on the ears of the
latterhe started aside at hearing them repeated behind
himin a voice half human and half sepulchral. Looking
aroundhe beheld the shaggy monster seated on end in a
shadow of the cavernwherewhile his restless body swung
in the uneasy manner of the animalit repeatedin a sort
of low growlsoundsif not wordswhich bore some slight
resemblance to the melody of the singer.

The effect of so strange an echo on David may better be
imagined than described. His eyes opened as if he doubted
their truth; and his voice became instantly mute in excess
of wonder. A deep-laid schemeof communicating some
important intelligence to Heywardwas driven from his
recollection by an emotion which very nearly resembled fear
but which he was fain to believe was admiration. Under its
influencehe exclaimed aloud: "She expects youand is at
hand"; and precipitately left the cavern.

CHAPTER 25

Snug.--Have you the lion's part written? Pray you, if
it be, give it to me, for I am slow of study.
Quince.--You may do it extempore, for it is nothing
but roaring.--Midsummer Night's Dream


There was a strange blending of the ridiculous with that
which was solemn in this scene. The beast still continued
its rollingand apparently untiring movementsthough its
ludicrous attempt to imitate the melody of David ceased the
instant the latter abandoned the field. The words of Gamut
wereas has been seenin his native tongue; and to Duncan
they seem pregnant with some hidden meaningthough nothing
present assisted him in discovering the object of their
allusion. A speedy end washoweverput to every
conjecture on the subjectby the manner of the chiefwho
advanced to the bedside of the invalidand beckoned away
the whole group of female attendants that had clustered
there to witness the skill of the stranger. He was
implicitlythough reluctantlyobeyed; and when the low
echo which rang along the hollownatural galleryfrom the
distant closing doorhad ceasedpointing toward his
insensible daughterhe said:

Now let my brother show his power.

Thus unequivocally called on to exercise the functions of
his assumed characterHeyward was apprehensive that the
smallest delay might prove dangerous. Endeavoringthento
collect his ideashe prepared to perform that species of
incantationand those uncouth ritesunder which the Indian
conjurers are accustomed to conceal their ignorance and
impotency. It is more than probable thatin the disordered
state of his thoughtshe would soon have fallen into some
suspiciousif not fatalerror had not his incipient
attempts been interrupted by a fierce growl from the
quadruped. Three several times did he renew his efforts to
proceedand as often was he met by the same unaccountable
oppositioneach interruption seeming more savage and
threatening than the preceding.

The cunning ones are jealous,said the Huron; "I go.
Brotherthe woman is the wife of one of my bravest young
men; deal justly by her. Peace!" he addedbeckoning to the
discontented beast to be quiet; "I go."

The chief was as good as his wordand Duncan now found
himself alone in that wild and desolate abode with the
helpless invalid and the fierce and dangerous brute. The
latter listened to the movements of the Indian with that air
of sagacity that a bear is known to possessuntil another
echo announced that he had also left the cavernwhen it
turned and came waddling up to Duncan before whom it seated
itself in its natural attitudeerect like a man. The youth
looked anxiously about him for some weaponwith which he
might make a resistance against the attack he now seriously
expected.

It seemedhoweveras if the humor of the animal had
suddenly changed. Instead of continuing its discontented
growlsor manifesting any further signs of angerthe whole
of its shaggy body shook violentlyas if agitated by some
strange internal convulsion. The huge and unwieldy talons
pawed stupidly about the grinning muzzleand while Heyward
kept his eyes riveted on its movements with jealous
watchfulnessthe grim head fell on one side and in its
place appeared the honest sturdy countenance of the scout
who was indulging from the bottom of his soul in his own
peculiar expression of merriment.


Hist!said the wary woodsmaninterrupting Heyward's
exclamation of surprise; "the varlets are about the place
and any sounds that are not natural to witchcraft would
bring them back upon us in a body."

Tell me the meaning of this masquerade; and why you have
attempted so desperate an adventure?

Ah, reason and calculation are often outdone by accident,
returned the scout. "Butas a story should always commence
at the beginningI will tell you the whole in order. After
we parted I placed the commandant and the Sagamore in an old
beaver lodgewhere they are safer from the Hurons than they
would be in the garrison of Edward; for your high north-west
Indiansnot having as yet got the traders among them
continued to venerate the beaver. After which Uncas and I
pushed for the other encampment as was agreed. Have you
seen the lad?"

To my great grief! He is captive, and condemned to die at
the rising of the sun.

I had misgivings that such would be his fate,resumed the
scoutin a less confident and joyous tone. But soon
regaining his naturally firm voicehe continued: "His bad
fortune is the true reason of my being herefor it would
never do to abandon such a boy to the Hurons. A rare time
the knaves would have of itcould they tie 'The Bounding
Elk' and 'The Long Carabine'as they call meto the same
stake! Though why they have given me such a name I never
knewthere being as little likeness between the gifts of
'killdeer' and the performance of one of your real Canada
carabynesas there is between the natur' of a pipe-stone
and a flint."

Keep to your tale,said the impatient Heyward; "we know
not at what moment the Hurons may return."

No fear of them. A conjurer must have his time, like a
straggling priest in the settlements. We are as safe from
interruption as a missionary would be at the beginning of a
two hours' discourse. Well, Uncas and I fell in with a
return party of the varlets; the lad was much too forward
for a scout; nay, for that matter, being of hot blood, he
was not so much to blame; and, after all, one of the Hurons
proved a coward, and in fleeing led him into an ambushment.

And dearly has he paid for the weakness.

The scout significantly passed his hand across his own
throatand noddedas if he saidI comprehend your
meaning.After which he continuedin a more audible
though scarcely more intelligible language:

After the loss of the boy I turned upon the Hurons, as you
may judge. There have been scrimmages atween one or two of
their outlyers and myself; but that is neither here nor
there. So, after I had shot the imps, I got in pretty nigh
to the lodges without further commotion. Then what should
luck do in my favor but lead me to the very spot where one
of the most famous conjurers of the tribe was dressing
himself, as I well knew, for some great battle with Satan -though
why should I call that luck, which it now seems was


an especial ordering of Providence. So a judgmatical rap
over the head stiffened the lying impostor for a time, and
leaving him a bit of walnut for his supper, to prevent an
uproar, and stringing him up atween two saplings, I made
free with his finery, and took the part of the bear on
myself, in order that the operations might proceed.

And admirably did you enact the character; the animal
itself might have been shamed by the representation.

Lord, major,returned the flattered woodsmanI should be
but a poor scholar for one who has studied so long in the
wilderness, did I not know how to set forth the movements or
natur' of such a beast. Had it been now a catamount, or
even a full-size panther, I would have embellished a
performance for you worth regarding. But it is no such
marvelous feat to exhibit the feats of so dull a beast;
though, for that matter, too, a bear may be overacted. Yes,
yes; it is not every imitator that knows natur' may be
outdone easier than she is equaled. But all our work is yet
before us. Where is the gentle one?

Heaven knows. I have examined every lodge in the village,
without discovering the slightest trace of her presence in
the tribe.

You heard what the singer said, as he left us: 'She is at
hand, and expects you'?

I have been compelled to believe he alluded to this unhappy
woman.

The simpleton was frightened, and blundered through his
message; but he had a deeper meaning. Here are walls enough
to separate the whole settlement. A bear ought to climb;
therefore will I take a look above them. There may be honey-pots
hid in these rocks, and I am a beast, you know, that has a
hankering for the sweets.

The scout looked behind himlaughing at his own conceit
while he clambered up the partitionimitatingas he went
the clumsy motions of the beast he represented; but the
instant the summit was gained he made a gesture for silence
and slid down with the utmost precipitation.

She is here,he whisperedand by that door you will find
her. I would have spoken a word of comfort to the afflicted
soul; but the sight of such a monster might upset her
reason. Though for that matter, major, you are none of the
most inviting yourself in your paint.

Duncanwho had already swung eagerly forwarddrew
instantly back on hearing these discouraging words.

Am I, then, so very revolting?he demandedwith an air of
chagrin.

You might not startle a wolf, or turn the Royal Americans
from a discharge; but I have seen the time when you had a
better favored look; your streaked countenances are not
ill-judged of by the squaws, but young women of white blood give
the preference to their own color. See,he addedpointing
to a place where the water trickled from a rockforming a
little crystal springbefore it found an issue through the


adjacent crevices; "you may easily get rid of the Sagamore's
dauband when you come back I will try my hand at a new
embellishment. It's as common for a conjurer to alter his
paint as for a buck in the settlements to change his
finery."

The deliberate woodsman had little occasion to hunt for
arguments to enforce his advice. He was yet speaking when
Duncan availed himself of the water. In a moment every
frightful or offensive mark was obliteratedand the youth
appeared again in the lineaments with which he had been
gifted by nature. Thus prepared for an interview with his
mistresshe took a hasty leave of his companionand
disappeared through the indicated passage. The scout
witnessed his departure with complacencynodding his head
after himand muttering his good wishes; after which he
very coolly set about an examination of the state of the
larderamong the Huronsthe cavernamong other purposes
being used as a receptacle for the fruits of their hunts.

Duncan had no other guide than a distant glimmering light
which servedhoweverthe office of a polar star to the
lover. By its aid he was enabled to enter the haven of his
hopeswhich was merely another apartment of the cavern
that had been solely appropriated to the safekeeping of so
important a prisoner as a daughter of the commandant of
William Henry. It was profusely strewed with the plunder of
that unlucky fortress. In the midst of this confusion he
found her he soughtpaleanxious and terrifiedbut
lovely. David had prepared her for such a visit.

Duncan!she exclaimedin a voice that seemed to tremble
at the sounds created by itself.

Alice!he answeredleaping carelessly among trunks
boxesarmsand furnitureuntil he stood at her side.

I knew that you would never desert me,she saidlooking
up with a momentary glow on her otherwise dejected
countenance. "But you are alone! Grateful as it is to be
thus rememberedI could wish to think you are not entirely
alone."

Duncanobserving that she trembled in a manner which
betrayed her inability to standgently induced her to be
seatedwhile he recounted those leading incidents which it
has been our task to accord. Alice listened with breathless
interest; and though the young man touched lightly on the
sorrows of the stricken father; taking carehowevernot to
wound the self-love of his auditorthe tears ran as freely
down the cheeks of the daughter as though she had never wept
before. The soothing tenderness of Duncanhoweversoon
quieted the first burst of her emotionsand she then heard
him to the close with undivided attentionif not with
composure.

And now, Alice,he addedyou will see how much is still
expected of you. By the assistance of our experienced and
invaluable friend, the scout, we may find our way from this
savage people, but you will have to exert your utmost
fortitude. Remember that you fly to the arms of your
venerable parent, and how much his happiness, as well as
your own, depends on those exertions.


Can I do otherwise for a father who has done so much for
me?

And for me, too,continued the youthgently pressing the
hand he held in both his own.

The look of innocence and surprise which he received in
return convinced Duncan of the necessity of being more
explicit.

This is neither the place nor the occasion to detain you
with selfish wishes,he added; "but what heart loaded like
mine would not wish to cast its burden? They say misery is
the closest of all ties; our common suffering in your behalf
left but little to be explained between your father and
myself."

And, dearest Cora, Duncan; surely Cora was not forgotten?

Not forgotten! no; regretted, as woman was seldom mourned
before. Your venerable father knew no difference between
his children; but I -- Alice, you will not be offended when
I say, that to me her worth was in a degree obscured --

Then you knew not the merit of my sister,said Alice
withdrawing her hand; "of you she ever speaks as of one who
is her dearest friend."

I would gladly believe her such,returned Duncanhastily;
I could wish her to be even more; but with you, Alice, I
have the permission of your father to aspire to a still
nearer and dearer tie.

Alice trembled violentlyand there was an instant during
which she bent her face asideyielding to the emotions
common to her sex; but they quickly passed awayleaving her
mistress of her deportmentif not of her affections.

Heyward,she saidlooking him full in the face with a
touching expression of innocence and dependencygive me
the sacred presence and the holy sanction of that parent
before you urge me further.

Though more I should not, less I could not say,the youth
was about to answerwhen he was interrupted by a light tap
on his shoulder. Starting to his feethe turnedand
confronting the intruderhis looks fell on the dark form
and malignant visage of Magua. The deep guttural laugh of
the savage soundedat such a momentto Duncanlike the
hellish taunt of a demon. Had he pursued the sudden and
fierce impulse of the instanthe would have cast himself on
the Huronand committed their fortunes to the issue of a
deadly struggle. Butwithout arms of any description
ignorant of what succor his subtle enemy could commandand
charged with the safety of one who was just then dearer than
ever to his hearthe no sooner entertained than he
abandoned the desperate intention.

What is your purpose?said Alicemeekly folding her arms
on her bosomand struggling to conceal an agony of
apprehension in behalf of Heywardin the usual cold and
distant manner with which she received the visits of her
captor.


The exulting Indian had resumed his austere countenance
though he drew warily back before the menacing glance of the
young man's fiery eye. He regarded both his captives for a
moment with a steady lookand thenstepping asidehe
dropped a log of wood across a door different from that by
which Duncan had entered. The latter now comprehended the
manner of his surpriseandbelieving himself irretrievably
losthe drew Alice to his bosomand stood prepared to meet
a fate which he hardly regrettedsince it was to be
suffered in such company. But Magua meditated no immediate
violence. His first measures were very evidently taken to
secure his new captive; nor did he even bestow a second
glance at the motionless forms in the center of the cavern
until he had completely cut off every hope of retreat
through the private outlet he had himself used. He was
watched in all his movements by Heywardwhohowever
remained firmstill folding the fragile form of Alice to
his heartat once too proud and too hopeless to ask favor
of an enemy so often foiled. When Magua had effected his
object he approached his prisonersand said in English:

The pale faces trap the cunning beavers; but the red-skins
know how to take the Yengeese.

Huron, do your worst!exclaimed the excited Heyward
forgetful that a double stake was involved in his life; "you
and your vengeance are alike despised."

Will the white man speak these words at the stake?asked
Magua; manifestingat the same timehow little faith he
had in the other's resolution by the sneer that accompanied
his words.

Here; singly to your face, or in the presence of your
nation.

Le Renard Subtil is a great chief!returned the Indian;
he will go and bring his young men, to see how bravely a
pale face can laugh at tortures.

He turned away while speakingand was about to leave the
place through the avenue by which Duncan had approached
when a growl caught his earand caused him to hesitate.
The figure of the bear appeared in the doorwhere it sat
rolling from side to side in its customary restlessness.
Magualike the father of the sick womaneyed it keenly for
a momentas if to ascertain its character. He was far
above the more vulgar superstitions of his tribeand so
soon as he recognized the well-known attire of the conjurer
he prepared to pass it in cool contempt. But a louder and
more threatening growl caused him again to pause. Then he
seemed as if suddenly resolved to trifle no longerand
moved resolutely forward.

The mimic animalwhich had advanced a littleretired
slowly in his frontuntil it arrived again at the pass
whenrearing on his hinder legsit beat the air with its
pawsin the manner practised by its brutal prototype.

Fool!exclaimed the chiefin Hurongo play with the
children and squaws; leave men to their wisdom.

He once more endeavored to pass the supposed empiric
scorning even the parade of threatening to use the knifeor


tomahawkthat was pendent from his belt. Suddenly the
beast extended its armsor rather legsand inclosed him in
a grasp that might have vied with the far-famed power of the
bear's hugitself. Heyward had watched the whole
procedureon the part of Hawkeyewith breathless interest.
At first he relinquished his hold of Alice; then he caught
up a thong of buckskinwhich had been used around some
bundleand when he beheld his enemy with his two arms
pinned to his side by the iron muscles of the scouthe
rushed upon himand effectually secured them there. Arms
legsand feet were encircled in twenty folds of the thong
in less time than we have taken to record the circumstance.
When the formidable Huron was completely pinionedthe scout
released his holdand Duncan laid his enemy on his back
utterly helpless.

Throughout the whole of this sudden and extraordinary
operationMaguathough he had struggled violentlyuntil
assured he was in the hands of one whose nerves were far
better strung than his ownhad not uttered the slightest
exclamation. But when Hawkeyeby way of making a summary
explanation of his conductremoved the shaggy jaws of the
beastand exposed his own rugged and earnest countenance to
the gaze of the Huronthe philosophy of the latter was so
far mastered as to permit him to utter the never failing:

Hugh!

Ay, you've found your tongue,said his undisturbed
conqueror; "nowin order that you shall not use it to our
ruinI must make free to stop your mouth."

As there was no time to be lostthe scout immediately set
about effecting so necessary a precaution; and when he had
gagged the Indianhis enemy might safely have been
considered as "hors de combat."

By what place did the imp enter?asked the industrious
scoutwhen his work was ended. "Not a soul has passed my
way since you left me."

Duncan pointed out the door by which Magua had comeand
which now presented too many obstacles to a quick retreat.

Bring on the gentle one, then,continued his friend; "we
must make a push for the woods by the other outlet."

'Tis impossible!said Duncan; "fear has overcome herand
she is helpless. Alice! my sweetmy own Alicearouse
yourself; now is the moment to fly. 'Tis in vain! she
hearsbut is unable to follow. Gonoble and worthy
friend; save yourselfand leave me to my fate."

Every trail has its end, and every calamity brings its
lesson!returned the scout. "Therewrap her in them
Indian cloths. Conceal all of her little form. Naythat
foot has no fellow in the wilderness; it will betray her.
Allevery part. Now take her in your armsand follow.
Leave the rest to me."

Duncanas may be gathered from the words of his companion
was eagerly obeying; andas the other finished speakinghe
took the light person of Alice in his armsand followed in
the footsteps of the scout. They found the sick woman as


they had left herstill aloneand passed swiftly onby
the natural galleryto the place of entrance. As they
approached the little door of barka murmur of voices
without announced that the friends and relatives of the
invalid were gathered about the placepatiently awaiting a
summons to re-enter.

If I open my lips to speak,Hawkeye whisperedmy
English, which is the genuine tongue of a white-skin, will
tell the varlets that an enemy is among them. You must give
'em your jargon, major; and say that we have shut the evil
spirit in the cave, and are taking the woman to the woods in
order to find strengthening roots. Practise all your
cunning, for it is a lawful undertaking.

The door opened a littleas if one without was listening to
the proceedings withinand compelled the scout to cease his
directions. A fierce growl repelled the eavesdropperand
then the scout boldly threw open the covering of barkand
left the placeenacting the character of a bear as he
proceeded. Duncan kept close at his heelsand soon found
himself in the center of a cluster of twenty anxious
relatives and friends.

The crowd fell back a littleand permitted the fatherand
one who appeared to be the husband of the womanto
approach.

Has my brother driven away the evil spirit?demanded the
former. "What has he in his arms?"

Thy child,returned Duncangravely; "the disease has gone
out of her; it is shut up in the rocks. I take the woman to
a distancewhere I will strengthen her against any further
attacks. She will be in the wigwam of the young man when
the sun comes again."

When the father had translated the meaning of the stranger's
words into the Huron languagea suppressed murmur announced
the satisfaction with which this intelligence was received.
The chief himself waved his hand for Duncan to proceed
saying aloudin a firm voiceand with a lofty manner:

Go; I am a man, and I will enter the rock and fight the
wicked one.

Heyward had gladly obeyedand was already past the little
groupwhen these startling words arrested him.

Is my brother mad?he exclaimed; "is he cruel? He will
meet the diseaseand it will enter him; or he will drive
out the diseaseand it will chase his daughter into the
woods. No; let my children wait withoutand if the spirit
appears beat him down with clubs. He is cunningand will
bury himself in the mountainwhen he sees how many are
ready to fight him."

This singular warning had the desired effect. Instead of
entering the cavernthe father and husband drew their
tomahawksand posted themselves in readiness to deal their
vengeance on the imaginary tormentor of their sick relative
while the women and children broke branches from the bushes
or seized fragments of the rockwith a similar intention.
At this favorable moment the counterfeit conjurers


disappeared.

Hawkeyeat the same time that he had presumed so far on the
nature of the Indian superstitionswas not ignorant that
they were rather tolerated than relied on by the wisest of
the chiefs. He well knew the value of time in the present
emergency. Whatever might be the extent of the self-delusion
of his enemiesand however it had tended to assist his
schemesthe slightest cause of suspicionacting on the
subtle nature of an Indianwould be likely to prove fatal.
Taking the paththereforethat was most likely to avoid
observationhe rather skirted than entered the village.
The warriors were still to be seen in the distanceby the
fading light of the firesstalking from lodge to lodge.
But the children had abandoned their sports for their beds
of skinsand the quiet of night was already beginning to
prevail over the turbulence and excitement of so busy and
important an evening.

Alice revived under the renovating influence of the open
airandas her physical rather than her mental powers had
been the subject of weaknessshe stood in no need of any
explanation of that which had occurred.

Now let me make an effort to walk,she saidwhen they had
entered the forestblushingthough unseenthat she had
not been sooner able to quit the arms of Duncan; "I am
indeed restored."

Nay, Alice, you are yet too weak.

The maiden struggled gently to release herselfand Heyward
was compelled to part with his precious burden. The
representative of the bear had certainly been an entire
stranger to the delicious emotions of the lover while his
arms encircled his mistress; and he wasperhapsa stranger
also to the nature of that feeling of ingenuous shame that
oppressed the trembling Alice. But when he found himself at
a suitable distance from the lodges he made a haltand
spoke on a subject of which he was thoroughly the master.

This path will lead you to the brook,he said; "follow its
northern bank until you come to a fall; mount the hill on
your rightand you will see the fires of the other people.
There you must go and demand protection; if they are true
Delawares you will be safe. A distant flight with that
gentle onejust nowis impossible. The Hurons would
follow up our trailand master our scalps before we had got
a dozen miles. Goand Providence be with you."

And you!demanded Heywardin surprise; "surely we part
not here?"

The Hurons hold the pride of the Delawares; the last of the
high blood of the Mohicans is in their power,returned the
scout; "I go to see what can be done in his favor. Had they
mastered your scalpmajora knave should have fallen for
every hair it heldas I promised; but if the young Sagamore
is to be led to the stakethe Indians shall see also how a
man without a cross can die."

Not in the least offended with the decided preference that
the sturdy woodsman gave to one who mightin some degree
be called the child of his adoptionDuncan still continued


to urge such reasons against so desperate an effort as
presented themselves. He was aided by Alicewho mingled
her entreaties with those of Heyward that he would abandon a
resolution that promised so much dangerwith so little hope
of success. Their eloquence and ingenuity were expended in
vain. The scout heard them attentivelybut impatiently
and finally closed the discussionby answeringin a tone
that instantly silenced Alicewhile it told Heyward how
fruitless any further remonstrances would be.

I have heard,he saidthat there is a feeling in youth
which binds man to woman closer than the father is tied to
the son. It may be so. I have seldom been where women of
my color dwell; but such may be the gifts of nature in the
settlements. You have risked life, and all that is dear to
you, to bring off this gentle one, and I suppose that some
such disposition is at the bottom of it all. As for me, I
taught the lad the real character of a rifle; and well has
he paid me for it. I have fou't at his side in many a
bloody scrimmage; and so long as I could hear the crack of
his piece in one ear, and that of the Sagamore in the other,
I knew no enemy was on my back. Winters and summer, nights
and days, have we roved the wilderness in company, eating of
the same dish, one sleeping while the other watched; and
afore it shall be said that Uncas was taken to the torment,
and I at hand -- There is but a single Ruler of us all,
whatever may the color of the skin; and Him I call to
witness, that before the Mohican boy shall perish for the
want of a friend, good faith shall depart the 'arth, and
'killdeer' become as harmless as the tooting we'pon of the
singer!

Duncan released his hold on the arm of the scoutwho
turnedand steadily retraced his steps toward the lodges.
After pausing a moment to gaze at his retiring formthe
successful and yet sorrowful Heyward and Alice took their
way together toward the distant village of the Delawares.

CHAPTER 26

Bot.--Let me play the lion too.--Midsummer Night's
Dream

Notwithstanding the high resolution of Hawkeye he fully
comprehended all the difficulties and danger he was about to
incur. In his return to the camphis acute and practised
intellects were intently engaged in devising means to
counteract a watchfulness and suspicion on the part of his
enemiesthat he knew werein no degreeinferior to his
own. Nothing but the color of his skin had saved the lives
of Magua and the conjurerwho would have been the first
victims sacrificed to his own securityhad not the scout
believed such an acthowever congenial it might be to the
nature of an Indianutterly unworthy of one who boasted a
descent from men that knew no cross of blood. Accordingly
he trusted to the withes and ligaments with which he had
bound his captivesand pursued his way directly toward the
center of the lodges. As he approached the buildingshis
steps become more deliberateand his vigilant eye suffered
no signwhether friendly or hostileto escape him. A
neglected hut was a little in advance of the othersand
appeared as if it had been deserted when half completed -



most probably on account of failing in some of the more
important requisites; such as wood or water. A faint light
glimmered through its crackshoweverand announced that
notwithstanding its imperfect structureit was not without
a tenant. Thitherthenthe scout proceededlike a
prudent generalwho was about to feel the advanced
positions of his enemybefore he hazarded the main attack.

Throwing himself into a suitable posture for the beast he
representedHawkeye crawled to a little openingwhere he
might command a view of the interior. It proved to be the
abiding place of David Gamut. Hither the faithful singing-master
had now brought himselftogether with all his sorrowshis
apprehensionsand his meek dependence on the protection of
Providence. At the precise moment when his ungainly person
came under the observation of the scoutin the manner just
mentionedthe woodsman himselfthough in his assumed character
was the subject of the solitary being's profounded reflections.

However implicit the faith of David was in the performance
of ancient miracleshe eschewed the belief of any direct
supernatural agency in the management of modern morality.
In other wordswhile he had implicit faith in the ability
of Balaam's ass to speakhe was somewhat skeptical on the
subject of a bear's singing; and yet he had been assured of
the latteron the testimony of his own exquisite organs.
There was something in his air and manner that betrayed to
the scout the utter confusion of the state of his mind. He
was seated on a pile of brusha few twigs from which
occasionally fed his low firewith his head leaning on his
armin a posture of melancholy musing. The costume of the
votary of music had undergone no other alteration from that
so lately describedexcept that he had covered his bald
head with the triangular beaverwhich had not proved
sufficiently alluring to excite the cupidity of any of his
captors.

The ingenious Hawkeyewho recalled the hasty manner in
which the other had abandoned his post at the bedside of the
sick womanwas not without his suspicions concerning the
subject of so much solemn deliberation. First making the
circuit of the hutand ascertaining that it stood quite
aloneand that the character of its inmate was likely to
protect it from visitorshe ventured through its low door
into the very presence of Gamut. The position of the latter
brought the fire between them; and when Hawkeye had seated
himself on endnear a minute elapsedduring which the two
remained regarding each other without speaking. The
suddenness and the nature of the surprise had nearly proved
too much for -- we will not say the philosophy -- but for
the pitch and resolution of David. He fumbled for his pitch-pipe
and arose with a confused intention of attempting a musical exorcism.

Dark and mysterious monster!he exclaimedwhile with
trembling hands he disposed of his auxiliary eyesand
sought his never-failing resource in troublethe gifted
version of the psalms; "I know not your nature nor intents;
but if aught you meditate against the person and rights of
one of the humblest servants of the templelisten to the
inspired language of the youth of Israeland repent."

The bear shook his shaggy sidesand then a well-known voice
replied:


Put up the tooting we'pon, and teach your throat modesty.
Five words of plain and comprehendible English are worth
just now an hour of squalling.

What art thou?demanded Davidutterly disqualified to
pursue his original intentionand nearly gasping for
breath.

A man like yourself; and one whose blood is as little
tainted by the cross of a bear, or an Indian, as your own.
Have you so soon forgotten from whom you received the
foolish instrument you hold in your hand?

Can these things be?returned Davidbreathing more
freelyas the truth began to dawn upon him. "I have found
many marvels during my sojourn with the heathenbut surely
nothing to excel this."

Come, come,returned Hawkeyeuncasing his honest
countenancethe better to assure the wavering confidence of
his companion; "you may see a skinwhichif it be not as
white as one of the gentle oneshas no tinge of red to it
that the winds of the heaven and the sun have not bestowed.
Now let us to business."

First tell me of the maiden, and of the youth who so
bravely sought her,interrupted David.

Ay, they are happily freed from the tomahawks of these
varlets. But can you put me on the scent of Uncas?

The young man is in bondage, and much I fear his death is
decreed. I greatly mourn that one so well disposed should
die in his ignorance, and I have sought a goodly hymn --

Can you lead me to him?

The task will not be difficult,returned David
hesitating; "though I greatly fear your presence would
rather increase than mitigate his unhappy fortunes."

No more words, but lead on,returned Hawkeyeconcealing
his face againand setting the example in his own person
by instantly quitting the lodge.

As they proceededthe scout ascertained that his companion
found access to Uncasunder privilege of his imaginary
infirmityaided by the favor he had acquired with one of
the guardswhoin consequence of speaking a little
Englishhad been selected by David as the subject of a
religious conversion. How far the Huron comprehended the
intentions of his new friend may well be doubted; but as
exclusive attention is as flattering to a savage as to a
more civilized individualit had produced the effect we
have mentioned. It is unnecessary to repeat the shrewd
manner with which the scout extracted these particulars from
the simple David; neither shall we dwell in this place on
the nature of the instruction he deliveredwhen completely
master of all the necessary facts; as the whole will be
sufficiently explained to the reader in the course of the
narrative.

The lodge in which Uncas was confined was in the very center
of the villageand in a situationperhapsmore difficult


than any other to approachor leavewithout observation.
But it was not the policy of Hawkeye to affect the least
concealment. Presuming on his disguiseand his ability to
sustain the character he had assumedhe took the most plain
and direct route to the place. The hourhoweverafforded
him some little of that protection which he appeared so much
to despise. The boys were already buried in sleepand all
the womenand most of the warriorshad retired to their
lodges for the night. Four or five of the latter only
lingered about the door of the prison of Uncaswary but
close observers of the manner of their captive.

At the sight of Gamutaccompanied by one in the well-known
masquerade of their most distinguished conjurerthey
readily made way for them both. Still they betrayed no
intention to depart. On the other handthey were evidently
disposed to remain bound to the place by an additional
interest in the mysterious mummeries that they of course
expected from such a visit.

From the total inability of the scout to address the Hurons
in their own languagehe was compelled to trust the
conversation entirely to David. Notwithstanding the
simplicity of the latterhe did ample justice to the
instructions he had receivedmore than fulfilling the
strongest hopes of his teacher.

The Delawares are women!he exclaimedaddressing himself
to the savage who had a slight understanding of the language
in which he spoke; "the Yengeesemy foolish countrymen
have told them to take up the tomahawkand strike their
fathers in the Canadasand they have forgotten their sex.
Does my brother wish to hear 'Le Cerf Agile' ask for his
petticoatsand see him weep before the Huronsat the
stake?"

The exclamation "Hugh!" delivered in a strong tone of
assentannounced the gratification the savage would receive
in witnessing such an exhibition of weakness in an enemy so
long hated and so much feared.

Then let him step aside, and the cunning man will blow upon
the dog. Tell it to my brothers.

The Huron explained the meaning of David to his fellows
whoin their turnlistened to the project with that sort
of satisfaction that their untamed spirits might be expected
to find in such a refinement in cruelty. They drew back a
little from the entrance and motioned to the supposed
conjurer to enter. But the bearinstead of obeying
maintained the seat it had takenand growled:

The cunning man is afraid that his breath will blow upon
his brothers, and take away their courage too,continued
Davidimproving the hint he received; "they must stand
further off."

The Huronswho would have deemed such a misfortune the
heaviest calamity that could befall themfell back in a
bodytaking a position where they were out of earshot
though at the same time they could command a view of the
entrance to the lodge. Thenas if satisfied of their
safetythe scout left his positionand slowly entered the
place. It was silent and gloomybeing tenanted solely by


the captiveand lighted by the dying embers of a fire
which had been used for the purposed of cookery.

Uncas occupied a distant cornerin a reclining attitude
being rigidly boundboth hands and feetby strong and
painful withes. When the frightful object first presented
itself to the young Mohicanhe did not deign to bestow a
single glance on the animal. The scoutwho had left David
at the doorto ascertain they were not observedthought it
prudent to preserve his disguise until assured of their
privacy. Instead of speakingthereforehe exerted himself
to enact one of the antics of the animal he represented.
The young Mohicanwho at first believed his enemies had
sent in a real beast to torment himand try his nerves
detected in those performances that to Heyward had appeared
so accuratecertain blemishesthat at once betrayed the
counterfeit. Had Hawkeye been aware of the low estimation
in which the skillful Uncas held his representationshe
would probably have prolonged the entertainment a little in
pique. But the scornful expression of the young man's eye
admitted of so many constructionsthat the worthy scout was
spared the mortification of such a discovery. As soon
thereforeas David gave the preconcerted signala low
hissing sound was heard in the lodge in place of the fierce
growlings of the bear.

Uncas had cast his body back against the wall of the hut and
closed his eyesas if willing to exclude so contemptible
and disagreeable an object from his sight. But the moment
the noise of the serpent was heardhe aroseand cast his
looks on each side of himbending his head lowand turning
it inquiringly in every directionuntil his keen eye rested
on the shaggy monsterwhere it remained rivetedas though
fixed by the power of a charm. Again the same sounds were
repeatedevidently proceeding from the mouth of the beast.
Once more the eyes of the youth roamed over the interior of
the lodgeand returning to the former resting placehe
utteredin a deepsuppressed voice:

Hawkeye!

Cut his bands,said Hawkeye to Davidwho just then
approached them.

The singer did as he was orderedand Uncas found his limbs
released. At the same moment the dried skin of the animal
rattledand presently the scout arose to his feetin
proper person. The Mohican appeared to comprehend the
nature of the attempt his friend had madeintuitively
neither tongue nor feature betraying another symptom of
surprise. When Hawkeye had cast his shaggy vestmentwhich
was done by simply loosing certain thongs of skinhe drew a
longglittering knifeand put it in the hands of Uncas.

The red Hurons are without,he said; "let us be ready."
At the same time he laid his finger significantly on another
similar weaponboth being the fruits of his prowess among
their enemies during the evening.

We will go,said Uncas.

Whither?

To the Tortoises; they are the children of my


grandfathers.

Ay, lad,said the scout in English -- a language he was
apt to use when a little abstracted in mind; "the same blood
runs in your veinsI believe; but time and distance has a
little changed its color. What shall we do with the Mingoes
at the door? They count sixand this singer is as good as
nothing."

The Hurons are boasters,said Uncasscornfully; "their
'totem' is a mooseand they run like snails. The Delawares
are children of the tortoiseand they outstrip the deer."

Ay, lad, there is truth in what you say; and I doubt not,
on a rush, you would pass the whole nation; and, in a
straight race of two miles, would be in, and get your breath
again, afore a knave of them all was within hearing of the
other village. But the gift of a white man lies more in his
arms than in his legs. As for myself, I can brain a Huron
as well as a better man; but when it comes to a race the
knaves would prove too much for me.

Uncaswho had already approached the doorin readiness to
lead the waynow recoiledand placed himselfonce more
in the bottom of the lodge. But Hawkeyewho was too much
occupied with his own thoughts to note the movement
continued speaking more to himself than to his companion.

After all,he saidit is unreasonable to keep one man in
bondage to the gifts of another. So, Uncas, you had better
take the lead, while I will put on the skin again, and trust
to cunning for want of speed.

The young Mohican made no replybut quietly folded his
armsand leaned his body against one of the upright posts
that supported the wall of the hut.

Well,said the scout looking up at himwhy do you tarry?
There will be time enough for me, as the knaves will give
chase to you at first.

Uncas will stay,was the calm reply.

For what?

To fight with his father's brother, and die with the friend
of the Delawares.

Ay, lad,returned Hawkeyesqueezing the hand of Uncas
between his own iron fingers; "'twould have been more like a
Mingo than a Mohican had you left me. But I thought I would
make the offerseeing that youth commonly loves life.
Wellwhat can't be done by main couragein warmust be
done by circumvention. Put on the skin; I doubt not you can
play the bear nearly as well as myself."

Whatever might have been the private opinion of Uncas of
their respective abilities in this particularhis grave
countenance manifested no opinion of his superiority. He
silently and expeditiously encased himself in the covering
of the beastand then awaited such other movements as his
more aged companion saw fit to dictate.

Now, friend,said Hawkeyeaddressing Davidan exchange


of garments will be a great convenience to you, inasmuch as
you are but little accustomed to the make-shifts of the
wilderness. Here, take my hunting shirt and cap, and give
me your blanket and hat. You must trust me with the book
and spectacles, as well as the tooter, too; if we ever meet
again, in better times, you shall have all back again, with
many thanks into the bargain.

David parted with the several articles named with a
readiness that would have done great credit to his
liberalityhad he not certainly profitedin many
particularsby the exchange. Hawkeye was not long in
assuming his borrowed garments; and when his restless eyes
were hid behind the glassesand his head was surmounted by
the triangular beaveras their statures were not
dissimilarhe might readily have passed for the singerby
starlight. As soon as these dispositions were madethe
scout turned to Davidand gave him his parting
instructions.

Are you much given to cowardice?he bluntly askedby way
of obtaining a suitable understanding of the whole case
before he ventured a prescription.

My pursuits are peaceful, and my temper, I humbly trust, is
greatly given to mercy and love,returned Davida little
nettled at so direct an attack on his manhood; "but there
are none who can say that I have ever forgotten my faith in
the Lordeven in the greatest straits."

Your chiefest danger will be at the moment when the savages
find out that they have been deceived. If you are not then
knocked on the head, your being a non-composser will protect
you; and you'll then have a good reason to expect to die in
your bed. If you stay, it must be to sit down here in the
shadow, and take the part of Uncas, until such times as the
cunning of the Indians discover the cheat, when, as I have
already said, your times of trial will come. So choose for
yourself -- to make a rush or tarry here.

Even so,said Davidfirmly; "I will abide in the place of
the Delaware. Bravely and generously has he battled in my
behalfand thisand morewill I dare in his service."

You have spoken as a man, and like one who, under wiser
schooling, would have been brought to better things. Hold
your head down, and draw in your legs; their formation might
tell the truth too early. Keep silent as long as may be;
and it would be wise, when you do speak, to break out
suddenly in one of your shoutings, which will serve to
remind the Indians that you are not altogether as
responsible as men should be. If however, they take your
scalp, as I trust and believe they will not, depend on it,
Uncas and I will not forget the deed, but revenge it as
becomes true warriors and trusty friends.

Hold!said Davidperceiving that with this assurance they
were about to leave him; "I am an unworthy and humble
follower of one who taught not the damnable principle of
revenge. Should I fallthereforeseek no victims to my
manesbut rather forgive my destroyers; and if you remember
them at alllet it be in prayers for the enlightening of
their mindsand for their eternal welfare."


The scout hesitatedand appeared to muse.

There is a principle in that,he saiddifferent from the
law of the woods; and yet it is fair and noble to reflect
upon.Then heaving a heavy sighprobably among the last
he ever drew in pining for a condition he had so long
abandonedhe added: "it is what I would wish to practise
myselfas one without a cross of bloodthough it is not
always easy to deal with an Indian as you would with a
fellow Christian. God bless youfriend; I do believe your
scent is not greatly wrongwhen the matter is duly
consideredand keeping eternity before the eyesthough
much depends on the natural giftsand the force of
temptation."

So sayingthe scout returned and shook David cordially by
the hand; after which act of friendship he immediately left
the lodgeattended by the new representative of the beast.

The instant Hawkeye found himself under the observation of
the Huronshe drew up his tall form in the rigid manner of
Davidthrew out his arm in the act of keeping timeand
commenced what he intended for an imitation of his psalmody.
Happily for the success of this delicate adventurehe had
to deal with ears but little practised in the concord of
sweet soundsor the miserable effort would infallibly have
been detected. It was necessary to pass within a dangerous
proximity of the dark group of the savagesand the voice of
the scout grew louder as they drew nigher. When at the
nearest point the Huron who spoke the English thrust out an
armand stopped the supposed singing-master.

The Delaware dog!he saidleaning forwardand peering
through the dim light to catch the expression of the other's
features; "is he afraid? Will the Hurons hear his groans?"

A growlso exceedingly fierce and naturalproceeded from
the beastthat the young Indian released his hold and
started asideas if to assure himself that it was not a
veritable bearand no counterfeitthat was rolling before
him. Hawkeyewho feared his voice would betray him to his
subtle enemiesgladly profited by the interruptionto
break out anew in such a burst of musical expression as
wouldprobablyin a more refined state of society have
been termed "a grand crash." Among his actual auditors
howeverit merely gave him an additional claim to that
respect which they never withhold from such as are believed
to be the subjects of mental alienation. The little knot on
Indians drew back in a bodyand sufferedas they thought
the conjurer and his inspired assistant to proceed.

It required no common exercise of fortitude in Uncas and the
scout to continue the dignified and deliberate pace they had
assumed in passing the lodge; especially as they immediately
perceived that curiosity had so far mastered fearas to
induce the watchers to approach the hutin order to witness
the effect of the incantations. The least injudicious or
impatient movement on the part of David might betray them
and time was absolutely necessary to insure the safety of
the scout. The loud noise the latter conceived it politic
to continuedrew many curious gazers to the doors of the
different huts as thy passed; and once or twice a dark-looking
warrior stepped across their pathled to the act by
superstition and watchfulness. They were nothowever


interruptedthe darkness of the hourand the boldness of
the attemptproving their principal friends.

The adventurers had got clear of the villageand were now
swiftly approaching the shelter of the woodswhen a loud
and long cry arose from the lodge where Uncas had been
confined. The Mohican started on his feetand shook his
shaggy coveringas though the animal he counterfeited was
about to make some desperate effort.

Hold!said the scoutgrasping his friend by the shoulder
let them yell again! 'Twas nothing but wonderment.

He had no occasion to delayfor at the next instant a burst
of cries filled the outer airand ran along the whole
extent of the village. Uncas cast his skinand stepped
forth in his own beautiful proportions. Hawkeye tapped him
lightly on the shoulderand glided ahead.

Now let the devils strike our scent!said the scout
tearing two rifleswith all their attendant accouterments
from beneath a bushand flourishing "killdeer" as he handed
Uncas his weapon; "twoat leastwill find it to their
deaths."

Thenthrowing their pieces to a low traillike sportsmen
in readiness for their gamethey dashed forwardand were
soon buried in the somber darkness of the forest.

CHAPTER 27

Ant. I shall remember: When C'sar says Do this, it is
performed.--Julius Caesar

The impatience of the savages who lingered about the prison
of Uncasas has been seenhad overcome their dread of the
conjurer's breath. They stole cautiouslyand with beating
heartsto a crevicethrough which the faint light of the
fire was glimmering. For several minutes they mistook the
form of David for that of the prisoner; but the very
accident which Hawkeye had foreseen occurred. Tired of
keeping the extremities of his long person so near together
the singer gradually suffered the lower limbs to extend
themselvesuntil one of his misshapen feet actually came in
contact with and shoved aside the embers of the fire. At
first the Hurons believed the Delaware had been thus
deformed by witchcraft. But when Davidunconscious of
being observedturned his headand exposed his simple
mild countenancein place of the haughty lineaments of
their prisonerit would have exceeded the credulity of even
a native to have doubted any longer. They rushed together
into the lodgeandlaying their handswith but little
ceremonyon their captiveimmediately detected the
imposition. Then arose the cry first heard by the
fugitives. It was succeeded by the most frantic and angry
demonstrations of vengeance. Davidhoweverfirm in his
determination to cover the retreat of his friendswas
compelled to believe that his own final hour had come.
Deprived of his book and his pipehe was fain to trust to a
memory that rarely failed him on such subjects; and breaking
forth in a loud and impassioned strainhe endeavored to
smooth his passage into the other world by singing the


opening verse of a funeral anthem. The Indians were
seasonably reminded of his infirmityandrushing into the
open airthey aroused the village in the manner described.

A native warrior fights as he sleepswithout the protection
of anything defensive. The sounds of the alarm were
thereforehardly uttered before two hundred men were afoot
and ready for the battle or the chaseas either might be
required. The escape was soon known; and the whole tribe
crowdedin a bodyaround the council-lodgeimpatiently
awaiting the instruction of their chiefs. In such a sudden
demand on their wisdomthe presence of the cunning Magua
could scarcely fail of being needed. His name was
mentionedand all looked round in wonder that he did not
appear. Messengers were then despatched to his lodge
requiring his presence.

In the meantimesome of the swiftest and most discreet of
the young men were ordered to make the circuit of the
clearingunder cover of the woodsin order to ascertain
that their suspected neighborsthe Delawaresdesigned no
mischief. Women and children ran to and fro; andin short
the whole encampment exhibited another scene of wild and
savage confusion. Graduallyhoweverthese symptoms of
disorder diminished; and in a few minutes the oldest and
most distinguished chiefs were assembled in the lodgein
grave consultation.

The clamor of many voices soon announced that a party
approachedwho might be expected to communicate some
intelligence that would explain the mystery of the novel
surprise. The crowd without gave wayand several warriors
entered the placebringing with them the hapless conjurer
who had been left so long by the scout in duress.

Notwithstanding this man was held in very unequal estimation
among the Huronssome believing implicitly in his power
and others deeming him an impostorhe was now listened to
by all with the deepest attention. When his brief story was
endedthe father of the sick woman stepped forthandin a
few pithy expressionrelatedin his turnwhat he knew.
These two narratives gave a proper direction to the
subsequent inquirieswhich were now made with the
characteristic cunning of savages.

Instead of rushing in a confused and disorderly throng to
the cavernten of the wisest and firmest among the chiefs
were selected to prosecute the investigation. As no time
was to be lostthe instant the choice was made the
individuals appointed rose in a body and left the place
without speaking. On reaching the entrancethe younger men
in advance made way for their seniors; and the whole
proceeded along the lowdark gallerywith the firmness of
warriors ready to devote themselves to the public good
thoughat the same timesecretly doubting the nature of
the power with which they were about to contend.

The outer apartment of the cavern was silent and gloomy.
The woman lay in her usual place and posturethough there
were those present who affirmed they had seen her borne to
the woods by the supposed "medicine of the white men." Such
a direct and palpable contradiction of the tale related by
the father caused all eyes to be turned on him. Chafed by
the silent imputationand inwardly troubled by so


unaccountable a circumstancethe chief advanced to the side
of the bedandstoopingcast an incredulous look at the
featuresas if distrusting their reality. His daughter was
dead.

The unerring feeling of nature for a moment prevailed and
the old warrior hid his eyes in sorrow. Thenrecovering
his self-possessionhe faced his companionsandpointing
toward the corpsehe saidin the language of his people:

The wife of my young man has left us! The Great Spirit is
angry with his children.

The mournful intelligence was received in solemn silence.
After a short pauseone of the elder Indians was about to
speakwhen a dark-looking object was seen rolling out of an
adjoining apartmentinto the very center of the room where
they stood. Ignorant of the nature of the beings they had
to deal withthe whole party drew back a littleand
rising on endexhibited the distorted but still fierce and
sullen features of Magua. The discovery was succeeded by a
general exclamation of amazement.

As soonhoweveras the true situation of the chief was
understoodseveral knives appearedand his limbs and
tongue were quickly released. The Huron aroseand shook
himself like a lion quitting his lair. Not a word escaped
himthough his hand played convulsively with the handle of
his knifewhile his lowering eyes scanned the whole party
as if they sought an object suited to the first burst of his
vengeance.

It was happy for Uncas and the scoutand even Davidthat
they were all beyond the reach of his arm at such a moment;
forassuredlyno refinement in cruelty would then have
deferred their deathsin opposition to the promptings of
the fierce temper that nearly choked him. Meeting
everywhere faces that he knew as friendsthe savage grated
his teeth together like rasps of ironand swallowed his
passion for want of a victim on whom to vent it. This
exhibition of anger was noted by all present; and from an
apprehension of exasperating a temper that was already
chafed nearly to madnessseveral minutes were suffered to
pass before another word was uttered. Whenhowever
suitable time had elapsedthe oldest of the party spoke.

My friend has found an enemy,he said. "Is he nigh that
the Hurons might take revenge?"

Let the Delaware die!exclaimed Maguain a voice of
thunder.

Another longer and expressive silence was observedand was
brokenas beforewith due precautionby the same
individual.

The Mohican is swift of foot, and leaps far,he said; "but
my young men are on his trail."

Is he gone?demanded Maguain tones so deep and guttural
that they seemed to proceed from his inmost chest.

An evil spirit has been among us, and the Delaware has
blinded our eyes.


An evil spirit!repeated the othermockingly; "'tis the
spirit that has taken the lives of so many Hurons; the
spirit that slew my young men at 'the tumbling river'; that
took their scalps at the 'healing spring'; and who hasnow
bound the arms of Le Renard Subtil!"

Of whom does my friend speak?

Of the dog who carries the heart and cunning of a Huron
under a pale skin -- La Longue Carabine.

The pronunciation of so terrible a name produced the usual
effect among his auditors. But when time was given for
reflectionand the warriors remembered that their
formidable and daring enemy had even been in the bosom of
their encampmentworking injuryfearful rage took the
place of wonderand all those fierce passions with which
the bosom of Magua had just been struggling were suddenly
transferred to his companions. Some among them gnashed
their teeth in angerothers vented their feelings in yells
and someagainbeat the air as frantically as if the
object of their resentment were suffering under their blows.
But this sudden outbreaking of temper as quickly subsided in
the still and sullen restraint they most affected in their
moments of inaction.

Maguawho had in his turn found leisure for reflectionnow
changed his mannerand assumed the air of one who knew how
to think and act with a dignity worthy of so grave a
subject.

Let us go to my people,he said; "they wait for us."

His companions consented in silenceand the whole of the
savage party left the cavern and returned to the council-lodge.
When they were seatedall eyes turned on Maguawho
understoodfrom such an indicationthatby common
consentthey had devolved the duty of relating what had
passed on him. He aroseand told his tale without
duplicity or reservation. The whole deception practised by
both Duncan and Hawkeye wasof courselaid nakedand no
room was foundeven for the most superstitious of the
tribeany longer to affix a doubt on the character of the
occurrences. It was but too apparent that they had been
insultinglyshamefullydisgracefully deceived. When he
had endedand resumed his seatthe collected tribe -- for
his auditorsin substanceincluded all the fighting men of
the party -- sat regarding each other like men astonished
equally at the audacity and the success of their enemies.
The next considerationhoweverwas the means and
opportunities for revenge.

Additional pursuers were sent on the trail of the fugitives;
and then the chiefs applied themselvesin earnestto the
business of consultation. Many different expedients were
proposed by the elder warriorsin successionto all of
which Magua was a silent and respectful listener. That
subtle savage had recovered his artifice and self-command
and now proceeded toward his object with his customary
caution and skill. It was only when each one disposed to
speak had uttered his sentimentsthat he prepared to
advance his own opinions. They were given with additional
weight from the circumstance that some of the runners had


already returnedand reported that their enemies had been
traced so far as to leave no doubt of their having sought
safety in the neighboring camp of their suspected allies
the Delawares. With the advantage of possessing this
important intelligencethe chief warily laid his plans
before his fellowsandas might have been anticipated from
his eloquence and cunningthey were adopted without a
dissenting voice. They werebrieflyas followsboth in
opinions and in motives.

It has been already stated thatin obedience to a policy
rarely departed fromthe sisters were separated so soon as
they reached the Huron village. Magua had early discovered
that in retaining the person of Alicehe possessed the most
effectual check on Cora. When they partedthereforehe
kept the former within reach of his handconsigning the one
he most valued to the keeping of their allies. The
arrangement was understood to be merely temporaryand was
made as much with a view to flatter his neighbors as in
obedience to the invariable rule of Indian policy.

While goaded incessantly by these revengeful impulses that
in a savage seldom slumberthe chief was still attentive to
his more permanent personal interests. The follies and
disloyalty committed in his youth were to be expiated by a
long and painful penanceere he could be restored to the
full enjoyment of the confidence of his ancient people; and
without confidence there could be no authority in an Indian
tribe. In this delicate and arduous situationthe crafty
native had neglected no means of increasing his influence;
and one of the happiest of his expedients had been the
success with which he had cultivated the favor of their
powerful and dangerous neighbors. The result of his
experiment had answered all the expectations of his policy;
for the Hurons were in no degree exempt from that governing
principle of naturewhich induces man to value his gifts
precisely in the degree that they are appreciated by others.

Butwhile he was making this ostensible sacrifice to
general considerationsMagua never lost sight of his
individual motives. The latter had been frustrated by the
unlooked-for events which had placed all his prisoners
beyond his control; and he now found himself reduced to the
necessity of suing for favors to those whom it had so lately
been his policy to oblige.

Several of the chiefs had proposed deep and treacherous
schemes to surprise the Delawares andby gaining possession
of their campto recover their prisoners by the same blow;
for all agreed that their honortheir interestsand the
peace and happiness of their dead countrymenimperiously
required them speedily to immolate some victims to their
revenge. But plans so dangerous to attemptand of such
doubtful issueMagua found little difficulty in defeating.
He exposed their risk and fallacy with his usual skill; and
it was only after he had removed every impedimentin the
shape of opposing advicethat he ventured to propose his
own projects.

He commenced by flattering the self-love of his auditors; a
never-failing method of commanding attention. When he had
enumerated the many different occasions on which the Hurons
had exhibited their courage and prowessin the punishment
of insultshe digressed in a high encomium on the virtue of


wisdom. He painted the quality as forming the great point
of difference between the beaver and other brutes; between
the brutes and men; andfinallybetween the Huronsin
particularand the rest of the human race. After he had
sufficiently extolled the property of discretionhe
undertook to exhibit in what manner its use was applicable
to the present situation of their tribe. On the one hand
he saidwas their great pale fatherthe governor of the
Canadaswho had looked upon his children with a hard eye
since their tomahawks had been so red; on the othera
people as numerous as themselveswho spoke a different
languagepossessed different interestsand loved them not
and who would be glad of any pretense to bring them in
disgrace with the great white chief. Then he spoke of their
necessities; of the gifts they had a right to expect for
their past services; of their distance from their proper
hunting-grounds and native villages; and of the necessity of
consulting prudence moreand inclination lessin so
critical circumstances. When he perceived thatwhile the
old men applauded his moderationmany of the fiercest and
most distinguished of the warriors listened to these politic
plans with lowering lookshe cunningly led them back to the
subject which they most loved. He spoke openly of the
fruits of their wisdomwhich he boldly pronounced would be
a complete and final triumph over their enemies. He even
darkly hinted that their success might be extendedwith
proper cautionin such a manner as to include the
destruction of all whom they had reason to hate. In short
he so blended the warlike with the artfulthe obvious with
the obscureas to flatter the propensities of both parties
and to leave to each subject of hopewhile neither could
say it clearly comprehended his intentions.

The oratoror the politicianwho can produce such a state
of thingsis commonly popular with his contemporaries
however he may be treated by posterity. All perceived that
more was meant than was utteredand each one believed that
the hidden meaning was precisely such as his own faculties
enabled him to understandor his own wishes led him to
anticipate.

In this happy state of thingsit is not surprising that the
management of Magua prevailed. The tribe consented to act
with deliberationand with one voice they committed the
direction of the whole affair to the government of the chief
who had suggested such wise and intelligible expedients.

Magua had now attained one great object of all his cunning
and enterprise. The ground he had lost in the favor of his
people was completely regainedand he found himself even
placed at the head of affairs. He wasin truththeir
ruler; andso long as he could maintain his popularityno
monarch could be more despoticespecially while the tribe
continued in a hostile country. Throwing offtherefore
the appearance of consultationhe assumed the grave air of
authority necessary to support the dignity of his office.

Runners were despatched for intelligence in different
directions; spies were ordered to approach and feel the
encampment of the Delawares; the warriors were dismissed to
their lodgeswith an intimation that their services would
soon be needed; and the women and children were ordered to
retirewith a warning that it was their province to be
silent. When these several arrangements were madeMagua


passed through the villagestopping here and there to pay a
visit where he thought his presence might be flattering to
the individual. He confirmed his friends in their
confidencefixed the waveringand gratified all. Then he
sought his own lodge. The wife the Huron chief had
abandonedwhen he was chased from among his peoplewas
dead. Children he had none; and he now occupied a hut
without companion of any sort. It wasin factthe
dilapidated and solitary structure in which David had been
discoveredand whom he had tolerated in his presenceon
those few occasions when they metwith the contemptuous
indifference of a haughty superiority.

HitherthenMagua retiredwhen his labors of policy were
ended. While others slepthoweverhe neither knew or
sought repose. Had there been one sufficiently curious to
have watched the movements of the newly elected chiefhe
would have seen him seated in a corner of his lodgemusing
on the subject of his future plansfrom the hour of his
retirement to the time he had appointed for the warriors to
assemble again. Occasionally the air breathed through the
crevices of the hutand the low flame that fluttered about
the embers of the fire threw their wavering light on the
person of the sullen recluse. At such moments it would not
have been difficult to have fancied the dusky savage the
Prince of Darkness brooding on his own fancied wrongsand
plotting evil.

Long before the day dawnedhoweverwarrior after warrior
entered the solitary hut of Maguauntil they had collected
to the number of twenty. Each bore his rifleand all the
other accouterments of warthough the paint was uniformly
peaceful. The entrance of these fierce-looking beings was
unnoticed: some seating themselves in the shadows of the
placeand others standing like motionless statuesuntil
the whole of the designated band was collected.

Then Magua arose and gave the signal to proceedmarching
himself in advance. They followed their leader singlyand
in that well-known order which has obtained the
distinguishing appellation of "Indian file." Unlike other
men engaged in the spirit-stirring business of warthey
stole from their camp unostentatiously and unobserved
resembling a band of gliding spectersmore than warriors
seeking the bubble reputation by deeds of desperate daring.

Instead of taking the path which led directly toward the
camp of the DelawaresMagua led his party for some distance
down the windings of the streamand along the little
artificial lake of the beavers. The day began to dawn as
they entered the clearing which had been formed by those
sagacious and industrious animals. Though Maguawho had
resumed his ancient garbbore the outline of a fox on the
dressed skin which formed his robethere was one chief of
his party who carried the beaver as his peculiar symbolor
totem.There would have been a species of profanity in
the omissionhad this man passed so powerful a community of
his fancied kindredwithout bestowing some evidence of his
regard. Accordinglyhe pausedand spoke in words as kind
and friendly as if he were addressing more intelligent
beings. He called the animals his cousinsand reminded
them that his protecting influence was the reason they
remained unharmedwhile many avaricious traders were
prompting the Indians to take their lives. He promised a


continuance of his favorsand admonished them to be
grateful. After whichhe spoke of the expedition in which
he was himself engagedand intimatedthough with
sufficient delicacy and circumlocutionthe expediency of
bestowing on their relative a portion of that wisdom for
which they were so renowned.*

* These harangues of the beasts were frequent among
the Indians. They often address their victims in this way
reproaching them for cowardice or commending their
resolutionas they may happen to exhibit fortitude or the
reversein suffering.
During the utterance of this extraordinary addressthe
companions of the speaker were as grave and as attentive to
his language as though they were all equally impressed with
its propriety. Once or twice black objects were seen rising
to the surface of the waterand the Huron expressed
pleasureconceiving that his words were not bestowed in
vain. Just as he ended his addressthe head of a large
beaver was thrust from the door of a lodgewhose earthen
walls had been much injuredand which the party had
believedfrom its situationto be uninhabited. Such an
extraordinary sign of confidence was received by the orator
as a highly favorable omen; and though the animal retreated
a little precipitatelyhe was lavish of his thanks and
commendations.

When Magua thought sufficient time had been lost in
gratifying the family affection of the warriorhe again
made the signal to proceed. As the Indians moved away in a
bodyand with a step that would have been inaudible to the
ears of any common manthe same venerable-looking beaver
once more ventured his head from its cover. Had any of the
Hurons turned to look behind themthey would have seen the
animal watching their movements with an interest and
sagacity that might easily have been mistaken for reason.
Indeedso very distinct and intelligible were the devices
of the quadrupedthat even the most experienced observer
would have been at a loss to account for its actionsuntil
the moment when the party entered the forestwhen the whole
would have been explainedby seeing the entire animal issue
from the lodgeuncasingby the actthe grave features of
Chingachgook from his mask of fur.

CHAPTER 28

Brief, I pray for you; for you see, 'tis a busy time with
me.--Much Ado About Nothing

The tribeor rather half tribeof Delawareswhich has
been so often mentionedand whose present place of
encampment was so nigh the temporary village of the Hurons
could assemble about an equal number of warriors with the
latter people. Like their neighborsthey had followed
Montcalm into the territories of the English crownand were
making heavy and serious inroads on the hunting-grounds of
the Mohawks; though they had seen fitwith the mysterious
reserve so common among the nativesto withhold their
assistance at the moment when it was most required. The
French had accounted for this unexpected defection on the
part of their ally in various ways. It was the prevalent


opinionhoweverthat they had been influenced by
veneration for the ancient treatythat had once made them
dependent on the Six Nations for military protectionand
now rendered them reluctant to encounter their former
masters. As for the tribe itselfit had been content to
announce to Montcalmthrough his emissarieswith Indian
brevitythat their hatchets were dulland time was
necessary to sharpen them. The politic captain of the
Canadas had deemed it wiser to submit to entertain a passive
friendthan by any acts of ill-judged severity to convert
him into an open enemy.

On that morning when Magua led his silent party from the
settlement of the beavers into the forestsin the manner
describedthe sun rose upon the Delaware encampment as if
it had suddenly burst upon a busy peopleactively employed
in all the customary avocations of high noon. The women ran
from lodge to lodgesome engaged in preparing their
morning's meala few earnestly bent on seeking the comforts
necessary to their habitsbut more pausing to exchange
hasty and whispered sentences with their friends. The
warriors were lounging in groupsmusing more than they
conversed and when a few words were utteredspeaking like
men who deeply weighed their opinions. The instruments of
the chase were to be seen in abundance among the lodges; but
none departed. Here and there a warrior was examining his
armswith an attention that is rarely bestowed on the
implementswhen no other enemy than the beasts of the
forest is expected to be encountered. And occasionallythe
eyes of a whole group were turned simultaneously toward a
large and silent lodge in the center of the villageas if
it contained the subject of their common thoughts.

During the existence of this scenea man suddenly appeared
at the furthest extremity of a platform of rock which formed
the level of the village. He was without armsand his
paint tended rather to soften than increase the natural
sternness of his austere countenance. When in full view of
the Delawares he stoppedand made a gesture of amityby
throwing his arm upward toward heavenand then letting it
fall impressively on his breast. The inhabitants of the
village answered his salute by a low murmur of welcomeand
encouraged him to advance by similar indications of
friendship. Fortified by these assurancesthe dark figure
left the brow of the natural rocky terracewhere it had
stood a momentdrawn in a strong outline against the
blushing morning skyand moved with dignity into the very
center of the huts. As he approachednothing was audible
but the rattling of the light silver ornaments that loaded
his arms and neckand the tinkling of the little bells that
fringed his deerskin moccasins. He madeas he advanced
many courteous signs of greeting to the men he passed
neglecting to notice the womenhoweverlike one who deemed
their favorin the present enterpriseof no importance.
When he had reached the group in which it was evidentby
the haughtiness of their common mienthat the principal
chiefs were collectedthe stranger pausedand then the
Delawares saw that the active and erect form that stood
before them was that of the well-known Huron chiefLe
Renard Subtil.

His reception was gravesilentand wary. The warriors in
front stepped asideopening the way to their most approved
orator by the action; one who spoke all those languages that


were cultivated among the northern aborigines.

The wise Huron is welcome,said the Delawarein the
language of the Maquas; "he is come to eat his 'succotash'*
with his brothers of the lakes."

* A dish composed of cracked corn and beans. It is
much used also by the whites. By corn is meant maise.
He is come,repeated Maguabending his head with the
dignity of an eastern prince.

The chief extended his arm and taking the other by the
wristthey once more exchanged friendly salutations. Then
the Delaware invited his guest to enter his own lodgeand
share his morning meal. The invitation was accepted; and
the two warriorsattended by three or four of the old men
walked calmly awayleaving the rest of the tribe devoured
by a desire to understand the reasons of so unusual a visit
and yet not betraying the least impatience by sign or word.

During the short and frugal repast that followedthe
conversation was extremely circumspectand related entirely
to the events of the huntin which Magua had so lately been
engaged. It would have been impossible for the most
finished breeding to wear more of the appearance of
considering the visit as a thing of coursethan did his
hostsnotwithstanding every individual present was
perfectly aware that it must be connected with some secret
object and that probably of importance to themselves. When
the appetites of the whole were appeasedthe squaws removed
the trenchers and gourdsand the two parties began to
prepare themselves for a subtle trial of their wits.

Is the face of my great Canada father turned again toward
his Huron children?demanded the orator of the Delawares.

When was it ever otherwise?returned Magua. "He calls my
people 'most beloved'."

The Delaware gravely bowed his acquiescence to what he knew
to be falseand continued:

The tomahawks of your young men have been very red.

It is so; but they are now bright and dull; for the
Yengeese are dead, and the Delawares are our neighbors.

The other acknowledged the pacific compliment by a gesture
of the handand remained silent. Then Maguaas if
recalled to such a recollectionby the allusion to the
massacredemanded:

Does my prisoner give trouble to my brothers?

She is welcome.

The path between the Hurons and the Delawares is short and
it is open; let her be sent to my squaws, if she gives
trouble to my brother.

She is welcome,returned the chief of the latter nation
still more emphatically.


The baffled Magua continued silent several minutes
apparently indifferenthoweverto the repulse he had
received in this his opening effort to regain possession of
Cora.

Do my young men leave the Delawares room on the mountains
for their hunts?he at length continued.

The Lenape are rulers of their own hills,returned the
other a little haughtily.

It is well. Justice is the master of a red-skin. Why
should they brighten their tomahawks and sharpen their
knives against each other? Are not the pale faces thicker
than the swallows in the season of flowers?

Good!exclaimed two or three of his auditors at the same
time.

Magua waited a littleto permit his words to soften the
feelings of the Delawaresbefore he added:

Have there not been strange moccasins in the woods? Have
not my brothers scented the feet of white men?

Let my Canada father come,returned the otherevasively;
his children are ready to see him.

When the great chief comes, it is to smoke with the Indians
in their wigwams. The Hurons say, too, he is welcome. But
the Yengeese have long arms, and legs that never tire! My
young men dreamed they had seen the trail of the Yengeese
nigh the village of the Delawares!

They will not find the Lenape asleep.

It is well. The warrior whose eye is open can see his
enemy,said Maguaonce more shifting his groundwhen he
found himself unable to penetrate the caution of his
companion. "I have brought gifts to my brother. His nation
would not go on the warpathbecause they did not think it
wellbut their friends have remembered where they lived."

When he had thus announced his liberal intentionthe crafty
chief aroseand gravely spread his presents before the
dazzled eyes of his hosts. They consisted principally of
trinkets of little valueplundered from the slaughtered
females of William Henry. In the division of the baubles
the cunning Huron discovered no less art than in their
selection. While he bestowed those of greater value on the
two most distinguished warriorsone of whom was his host
he seasoned his offerings to their inferiors with such well-timed
and apposite complimentsas left them no ground of complaint.
In shortthe whole ceremony contained such a happy blending of
the profitable with the flatteringthat it was not difficult for
the donor immediately to read the effect of a generosity so aptly
mingled with praisein the eyes of those he addressed.

This well-judged and politic stroke on the part of Magua was
not without instantaneous results. The Delawares lost their
gravity in a much more cordial expression; and the hostin
particularafter contemplating his own liberal share of the
spoil for some moments with peculiar gratificationrepeated
with strong emphasisthe words:


My brother is a wise chief. He is welcome.

The Hurons love their friends the Delawares,returned
Magua. "Why should they not? they are colored by the same
sunand their just men will hunt in the same grounds after
death. The red-skins should be friendsand look with open
eyes on the white men. Has not my brother scented spies in
the woods?"

The Delawarewhose name in English signified "Hard Heart
an appellation that the French had translated into le Coeurdur
forgot that obduracy of purpose, which had probably
obtained him so significant a title. His countenance grew
very sensibly less stern and he now deigned to answer more
directly.

There have been strange moccasins about my camp. They have
been tracked into my lodges."

Did my brother beat out the dogs?asked Maguawithout
adverting in any manner to the former equivocation of the
chief.

It would not do. The stranger is always welcome to the
children of the Lenape.

The stranger, but not the spy.

Would the Yengeese send their women as spies? Did not the
Huron chief say he took women in the battle?

He told no lie. The Yengeese have sent out their scouts.
They have been in my wigwams, but they found there no one to
say welcome. Then they fled to the Delawares -- for, say
they, the Delawares are our friends; their minds are turned
from their Canada father!

This insinuation was a home thrustand one that in a more
advanced state of society would have entitled Magua to the
reputation of a skillful diplomatist. The recent defection
of the tribe hadas they well knew themselvessubjected
the Delawares to much reproach among their French allies;
and they were now made to feel that their future actions
were to be regarded with jealousy and distrust. There was
no deep insight into causes and effects necessary to foresee
that such a situation of things was likely to prove highly
prejudicial to their future movements. Their distant
villagestheir hunting-grounds and hundreds of their women
and childrentogether with a material part of their
physical forcewere actually within the limits of the
French territory. Accordinglythis alarming annunciation
was receivedas Magua intendedwith manifest
disapprobationif not with alarm.

Let my father look in my face,said Le Coeur-dur; "he will
see no change. It is truemy young men did not go out on
the war-path; they had dreams for not doing so. But they
love and venerate the great white chief."

Will he think so when he hears that his greatest enemy is
fed in the camp of his children? When he is told a bloody
Yengee smokes at your fire? That the pale face who has
slain so many of his friends goes in and out among the


Delawares? Go! my great Canada father is not a fool!

Where is the Yengee that the Delawares fear?returned the
other; "who has slain my young men? Who is the mortal enemy
of my Great Father?"

La Longue Carabine!

The Delaware warriors started at the well-known name
betraying by their amazementthat they now learnedfor the
first timeone so famous among the Indian allies of France
was within their power.

What does my brother mean?demanded Le Coeur-durin a
tone thatby its wonderfar exceeded the usual apathy of
his race.

A Huron never lies!returned Maguacoldlyleaning his
head against the side of the lodgeand drawing his slight
robe across his tawny breast. "Let the Delawares count
their prisoners; they will find one whose skin is neither
red nor pale."

A long and musing pause succeeded. The chief consulted
apart with his companionsand messengers despatched to
collect certain others of the most distinguished men of the
tribe.

As warrior after warrior dropped inthey were each made
acquaintedin turnwith the important intelligence that
Magua had just communicated. The air of surpriseand the
usual lowdeepguttural exclamationwere common to them
all. The news spread from mouth to mouthuntil the whole
encampment became powerfully agitated. The women suspended
their laborsto catch such syllables as unguardedly fell
from the lips of the consulting warriors. The boys deserted
their sportsand walking fearlessly among their fathers
looked up in curious admirationas they heard the brief
exclamations of wonder they so freely expressed the temerity
of their hated foe. In shortevery occupation was
abandoned for the timeand all other pursuits seemed
discarded in order that the tribe might freely indulge
after their own peculiar mannerin an open expression of
feeling.

When the excitement had a little abatedthe old men
disposed themselves seriously to consider that which it
became the honor and safety of their tribe to performunder
circumstances of so much delicacy and embarrassment. During
all these movementsand in the midst of the general
commotionMagua had not only maintained his seatbut the
very attitude he had originally takenagainst the side of
the lodgewhere he continued as immovableandapparently
as unconcernedas if he had no interest in the result. Not
a single indication of the future intentions of his hosts
howeverescaped his vigilant eyes. With his consummate
knowledge of the nature of the people with whom he had to
dealhe anticipated every measure on which they decided;
and it might almost be saidthatin many instanceshe
knew their intentionseven before they became known to
themselves.

The council of the Delawares was short. When it was ended
a general bustle announced that it was to be immediately


succeeded by a solemn and formal assemblage of the nation.
As such meetings were rareand only called on occasions of
the last importancethe subtle Huronwho still sat apart
a wily and dark observer of the proceedingsnow knew that
all his projects must be brought to their final issue. He
thereforeleft the lodge and walked silently forth to the
placein front of the encampmentwhither the warriors were
already beginning to collect.

It might have been half an hour before each individual
including even the women and childrenwas in his place.
The delay had been created by the grave preparations that
were deemed necessary to so solemn and unusual a conference.
But when the sun was seen climbing above the tops of that
mountainagainst whose bosom the Delawares had constructed
their encampmentmost were seated; and as his bright rays
darted from behind the outline of trees that fringed the
eminencethey fell upon as graveas attentiveand as
deeply interested a multitudeas was probably ever before
lighted by his morning beams. Its number somewhat exceeded
a thousand souls.

In a collection of so serious savagesthere is never to be
found any impatient aspirant after premature distinction
standing ready to move his auditors to some hastyand
perhapsinjudicious discussionin order that his own
reputation may be the gainer. An act of so much
precipitancy and presumption would seal the downfall of
precocious intellect forever. It rested solely with the
oldest and most experienced of the men to lay the subject of
the conference before the people. Until such a one chose to
make some movementno deeds in armsno natural giftsnor
any renown as an oratorwould have justified the slightest
interruption. On the present occasionthe aged warrior
whose privilege it was to speakwas silentseemingly
oppressed with the magnitude of his subject. The delay had
already continued long beyond the usual deliberative pause
that always preceded a conference; but no sign of impatience
or surprise escaped even the youngest boy. Occasionally an
eye was raised from the earthwhere the looks of most were
rivetedand strayed toward a particular lodgethat was
howeverin no manner distinguished from those around it
except in the peculiar care that had been taken to protect
it against the assaults of the weather.

At length one of those low murmursthat are so apt to
disturb a multitudewas heardand the whole nation arose
to their feet by a common impulse. At that instant the door
of the lodge in question openedand three menissuing from
itslowly approached the place of consultation. They were
all agedeven beyond that period to which the oldest
present had reached; but one in the centerwho leaned on
his companions for supporthad numbered an amount of years
to which the human race is seldom permitted to attain. His
framewhich had once been tall and erectlike the cedar
was now bending under the pressure of more than a century.
The elasticlight step of an Indian was goneand in its
place he was compelled to toil his tardy way over the
groundinch by inch. His darkwrinkled countenance was in
singular and wild contrast with the long white locks which
floated on his shouldersin such thicknessas to announce
that generations had probably passed away since they had
last been shorn.


The dress of this patriarch -- for suchconsidering his
vast agein conjunction with his affinity and influence
with his peoplehe might very properly be termed -- was
rich and imposingthough strictly after the simple fashions
of the tribe. His robe was of the finest skinswhich had
been deprived of their furin order to admit of a
hieroglyphical representation of various deeds in armsdone
in former ages. His bosom was loaded with medalssome in
massive silverand one or two even in goldthe gifts of
various Christian potentates during the long period of his
life. He also wore armletsand cinctures above the ankles
of the latter precious metal. His headon the whole of
which the hair had been permitted to growthe pursuits of
war having so long been abandonedwas encircled by a sort
of plated diademwhichin its turnbore lesser and more
glittering ornamentsthat sparkled amid the glossy hues of
three drooping ostrich feathersdyed a deep blackin
touching contrast to the color of his snow-white locks. His
tomahawk was nearly hid in silverand the handle of his
knife shone like a horn of solid gold.

So soon as the first hum of emotion and pleasurewhich the
sudden appearance of this venerated individual createdhad
a little subsidedthe name of "Tamenund" was whispered from
mouth to mouth. Magua had often heard the fame of this wise
and just Delaware; a reputation that even proceeded so far
as to bestow on him the rare gift of holding secret
communion with the Great Spiritand which has since
transmitted his namewith some slight alterationto the
white usurpers of his ancient territoryas the imaginary
tutelar saint* of a vast empire. The Huron chief
thereforestepped eagerly out a little from the throngto
a spot whence he might catch a nearer glimpse of the
features of the manwhose decision was likely to produce so
deep an influence on his own fortunes.

* The Americans sometimes called their tutelar saint
Tamenaya corruption of the name of the renowned chief here
introduced. There are many traditions which speak of the
character and power of Tamenund.
The eyes of the old man were closedas though the organs
were wearied with having so long witnessed the selfish
workings of the human passions. The color of his skin
differed from that of most around himbeing richer and
darkerthe latter having been produced by certain delicate
and mazy lines of complicated and yet beautiful figures
which had been traced over most of his person by the
operation of tattooing. Notwithstanding the position of the
Huronhe passed the observant and silent Magua without
noticeand leaning on his two venerable supporters
proceeded to the high place of the multitudewhere he
seated himself in the center of his nationwith the dignity
of a monarch and the air of a father.

Nothing could surpass the reverence and affection with which
this unexpected visit from one who belongs rather to another
world than to thiswas received by his people. After a
suitable and decent pausethe principal chiefs aroseand
approaching the patriarchthey placed his hands reverently
on their headsseeming to entreat a blessing. The younger
men were content with touching his robeor even drawing
nigh his personin order to breathe in the atmosphere of
one so agedso justand so valiant. None but the most


distinguished among the youthful warriors even presumed so
far as to perform the latter ceremonythe great mass of the
multitude deeming it a sufficient happiness to look upon a
form so deeply veneratedand so well beloved. When these
acts of affection and respect were performedthe chiefs
drew back again to their several placesand silence reigned
in the whole encampment.

After a short delaya few of the young mento whom
instructions had been whispered by one of the aged
attendants of Tamenundaroseleft the crowdand entered
the lodge which has already been noted as the object of so
much attention throughout that morning. In a few minutes
they reappearedescorting the individuals who had caused
all these solemn preparations toward the seat of judgment.
The crowd opened in a lane; and when the party had re-entered
it closed in againforming a large and dense belt of human
bodiesarranged in an open circle.

CHAPTER 29

The assembly seated, rising o'er the rest, Achilles thus
the king of men addressed.--Pope's Illiad

Cora stood foremost among the prisonersentwining her arms
in those of Alicein the tenderness of sisterly love.
Notwithstanding the fearful and menacing array of savages on
every side of herno apprehension on her own account could
prevent the nobler-minded maiden from keeping her eyes
fastened on the pale and anxious features of the trembling
Alice. Close at their side stood Heywardwith an interest
in boththatat such a moment of intense uncertainty
scarcely knew a preponderance in favor of her whom he most
loved. Hawkeye had placed himself a little in the rear
with a deference to the superior rank of his companions
that no similarity in the state of their present fortunes
could induce him to forget. Uncas was not there.

When perfect silence was again restoredand after the usual
longimpressive pauseone of the two aged chiefs who sat
at the side of the patriarch aroseand demanded aloudin
very intelligible English:

Which of my prisoners is La Longue Carabine?

Neither Duncan nor the scout answered. The formerhowever
glanced his eyes around the dark and silent assemblyand
recoiled a pacewhen they fell on the malignant visage of
Magua. He sawat oncethat this wily savage had some
secret agency in their present arraignment before the
nationand determined to throw every possible impediment in
the way of the execution of his sinister plans. He had
witnessed one instance of the summary punishments of the
Indiansand now dreaded that his companion was to be
selected for a second. In this dilemmawith little or no
time for reflectionhe suddenly determined to cloak his
invaluable friendat any or every hazard to himself.
Before he had timehoweverto speakthe question was
repeated in a louder voiceand with a clearer utterance.

Give us arms,the young man haughtily repliedand place


us in yonder woods. Our deeds shall speak for us!

This is the warrior whose name has filled our ears!
returned the chiefregarding Heyward with that sort of
curious interest which seems inseparable from manwhen
first beholding one of his fellows to whom merit or
accidentvirtue or crimehas given notoriety. "What has
brought the white man into the camp of the Delawares?"

My necessities. I come for food, shelter, and friends.

It cannot be. The woods are full of game. The head of a
warrior needs no other shelter than a sky without clouds;
and the Delawares are the enemies, and not the friends of
the Yengeese. Go, the mouth has spoken, while the heart
said nothing.

Duncana little at a loss in what manner to proceed
remained silent; but the scoutwho had listened attentively
to all that passednow advanced steadily to the front.

That I did not answer to the call for La Longue Carabine,
was not owing either to shame or fear,he saidfor
neither one nor the other is the gift of an honest man. But
I do not admit the right of the Mingoes to bestow a name on
one whose friends have been mindful of his gifts, in this
particular; especially as their title is a lie, 'killdeer'
being a grooved barrel and no carabyne. I am the man,
however, that got the name of Nathaniel from my kin; the
compliment of Hawkeye from the Delawares, who live on their
own river; and whom the Iroquois have presumed to style the
'Long Rifle', without any warranty from him who is most
concerned in the matter.

The eyes of all presentwhich had hitherto been gravely
scanning the person of Duncanwere now turnedon the
instanttoward the upright iron frame of this new pretender
to the distinguished appellation. It was in no degree
remarkable that there should be found two who were willing
to claim so great an honorfor impostorsthough rarewere
not unknown among the natives; but it was altogether
material to the just and severe intentions of the Delawares
that there should be no mistake in the matter. Some of
their old men consulted together in privateand thenas it
would seemthey determined to interrogate their visitor on
the subject.

My brother has said that a snake crept into my camp,said
the chief to Magua; "which is he?"

The Huron pointed to the scout.

Will a wise Delaware believe the barking of a wolf?
exclaimed Duncanstill more confirmed in the evil
intentions of his ancient enemy: " a dog never liesbut
when was a wolf known to speak the truth?"

The eyes of Magua flashed fire; but suddenly recollecting
the necessity of maintaining his presence of mindhe turned
away in silent disdainwell assured that the sagacity of
the Indians would not fail to extract the real merits of the
point in controversy. He was not deceived; forafter
another short consultationthe wary Delaware turned to him
againand expressed the determination of the chiefsthough


in the most considerate language.

My brother has been called a liar,he saidand his
friends are angry. They will show that he has spoken the
truth. Give my prisoners guns, and let them prove which is
the man.

Magua affected to consider the expedientwhich he well knew
proceeded from distrust of himselfas a complimentand
made a gesture of acquiescencewell content that his
veracity should be supported by so skillful a marksman as
the scout. The weapons were instantly placed in the hands
of the friendly opponentsand they were bid to fireover
the heads of the seated multitudeat an earthen vessel
which layby accidenton a stumpsome fifty yards from
the place where they stood.

Heyward smiled to himself at the idea of a competition with
the scoutthough he determined to persevere in the
deceptionuntil apprised of the real designs of Magua.

Raising his rifle with the utmost careand renewing his aim
three several timeshe fired. The bullet cut the wood
within a few inches of the vessel; and a general exclamation
of satisfaction announced that the shot was considered a
proof of great skill in the use of a weapon. Even Hawkeye
nodded his headas if he would sayit was better than he
expected. Butinstead of manifesting an intention to
contend with the successful marksmanhe stood leaning on
his rifle for more than a minutelike a man who was
completely buried in thought. From this reveriehe was
howeverawakened by one of the young Indians who had
furnished the armsand who now touched his shouldersaying
in exceedingly broken English:

Can the pale face beat it?

Yes, Huron!exclaimed the scoutraising the short rifle
in his right handand shaking it at Maguawith as much
apparent ease as if it were a reed; "yesHuronI could
strike you nowand no power on earth could prevent the
deed! The soaring hawk is not more certain of the dove than
I am this moment of youdid I choose to send a bullet to
your heart! Why should I not? Why! -- because the gifts of
my color forbid itand I might draw down evil on tender and
innocent heads. If you know such a being as Godthank Him
thereforein your inward soul; for you have reason!"

The flushed countenanceangry eye and swelling figure of
the scoutproduced a sensation of secret awe in all that
heard him. The Delawares held their breath in expectation;
but Magua himselfeven while he distrusted the forbearance
of his enemyremained immovable and calmwhere he stood
wedged in by the crowdas one who grew to the spot.

Beat it,repeated the young Delaware at the elbow of the
scout.

Beat what, fool! -- what?exclaimed Hawkeyestill
flourishing the weapon angrily above his headthough his
eye no longer sought the person of Magua.

If the white man is the warrior he pretends,said the aged
chieflet him strike nigher to the mark.


The scout laughed aloud -- a noise that produced the
startling effect of an unnatural sound on Heyward; then
dropping the pieceheavilyinto his extended left handit
was dischargedapparently by the shockdriving the
fragments of the vessel into the airand scattering them on
every side. Almost at the same instantthe rattling sound
of the rifle was heardas he suffered it to fall
contemptuouslyto the earth.

The first impression of so strange a scene was engrossing
admiration. Then a lowbut increasing murmurran through
the multitudeand finally swelled into sounds that denoted
a lively opposition in the sentiments of the spectators.
While some openly testified their satisfaction at so
unexampled dexterityby far the larger portion of the tribe
were inclined to believe the success of the shot was the
result of accident. Heyward was not slow to confirm an
opinion that was so favorable to his own pretensions.

It was chance!he exclaimed; "none can shoot without an
aim!"

Chance!echoed the excited woodsmanwho was now
stubbornly bent on maintaining his identity at every hazard
and on whom the secret hints of Heyward to acquiesce in the
deception were entirely lost. "Does yonder lying Huron
toothink it chance? Give him another gunand place us
face to facewithout cover or dodgeand let Providence
and our own eyesdecide the matter atween us! I do not
make the offerto youmajor; for our blood is of a color
and we serve the same master."

That the Huron is a liar, is very evident,returned
Heywardcoolly; "you have yourself heard him asset you to
be La Longue Carabine."

It were impossible to say what violent assertion the
stubborn Hawkeye would have next madein his headlong wish
to vindicate his identityhad not the aged Delaware once
more interposed.

The hawk which comes from the clouds can return when he
will,he said; "give them the guns."

This time the scout seized the rifle with avidity; nor had
Maguathough he watched the movements of the marksman with
jealous eyesany further cause for apprehension.

Now let it be proved, in the face of this tribe of
Delawares, which is the better man,cried the scout
tapping the butt of his piece with that finger which had
pulled so many fatal triggers.

You see that gourd hanging against yonder tree, major; if
you are a marksman fit for the borders, let me see you break
its shell!

Duncan noted the objectand prepared himself to renew the
trial. The gourd was one of the usual little vessels used
by the Indiansand it was suspended from a dead branch of a
small pineby a thong of deerskinat the full distance of
a hundred yards. So strangely compounded is the feeling of
self-lovethat the young soldierwhile he knew the utter


worthlessness of the suffrages of his savage umpiresforgot
the sudden motives of the contest in a wish to excel. It
had been seenalreadythat his skill was far from being
contemptibleand he now resolved to put forth its nicest
qualities. Had his life depended on the issuethe aim of
Duncan could not have been more deliberate or guarded. He
fired; and three or four young Indianswho sprang forward
at the reportannounced with a shoutthat the ball was in
the treea very little on one side of the proper object.
The warriors uttered a common ejaculation of pleasureand
then turned their eyesinquiringlyon the movements of his
rival.

It may do for the Royal Americans!said Hawkeyelaughing
once more in his own silentheartfelt manner; "but had my
gun often turned so much from the true linemany a marten
whose skin is now in a lady's muffwould still be in the
woods; ayand many a bloody Mingowho has departed to his
final accountwould be acting his deviltries at this very
dayatween the provinces. I hope the squaw who owns the
gourd has more of them in her wigwamfor this will never
hold water again!"

The scout had shook his primingand cocked his piecewhile
speaking; andas he endedhe threw back a footand slowly
raised the muzzle from the earth: the motion was steady
uniformand in one direction. When on a perfect levelit
remained for a single momentwithout tremor or variation
as though both man and rifle were carved in stone. During
that stationary instantit poured forth its contentsin a
brightglancing sheet of flame. Again the young Indians
bounded forward; but their hurried search and disappointed
looks announced that no traces of the bullet were to be
seen.

Go!said the old chief to the scoutin a tone of strong
disgust; "thou art a wolf in the skin of a dog. I will talk
to the 'Long Rifle' of the Yengeese."

Ah! had I that piece which furnished the name you use, I
would obligate myself to cut the thong, and drop the gourd
without breaking it!returned Hawkeyeperfectly
undisturbed by the other's manner. "Foolsif you would
find the bullet of a sharpshooter in these woodsyou must
look in the objectand not around it!"

The Indian youths instantly comprehended his meaning -- for
this time he spoke in the Delaware tongue -- and tearing the
gourd from the treethey held it on high with an exulting
shoutdisplaying a hole in its bottomwhich had been cut
by the bulletafter passing through the usual orifice in
the center of its upper side. At this unexpected
exhibitiona loud and vehement expression of pleasure burst
from the mouth of every warrior present. It decided the
questionand effectually established Hawkeye in the
possession of his dangerous reputation. Those curious and
admiring eyes which had been turned again on Heywardwere
finally directed to the weather-beaten form of the scout
who immediately became the principal object of attention to
the simple and unsophisticated beings by whom he was
surrounded. When the sudden and noisy commotion had a
little subsidedthe aged chief resumed his examination.

Why did you wish to stop my ears?he saidaddressing


Duncan; "are the Delawares fools that they could not know
the young panther from the cat?"

They will yet find the Huron a singing-bird,said Duncan
endeavoring to adopt the figurative language of the natives.

It is good. We will know who can shut the ears of men.
Brother,added the chief turning his eyes on Maguathe
Delawares listen.

Thus singledand directly called on to declare his object
the Huron arose; and advancing with great deliberation and
dignity into the very center of the circlewhere he stood
confronted by the prisonershe placed himself in an
attitude to speak. Before opening his mouthhoweverhe
bent his eyes slowly along the whole living boundary of
earnest facesas if to temper his expressions to the
capacities of his audience. On Hawkeye he cast a glance of
respectful enmity; on Duncana look of inextinguishable
hatred; the shrinking figure of Alice he scarcely deigned to
notice; but when his glance met the firmcommandingand
yet lovely form of Corahis eye lingered a momentwith an
expression that it might have been difficult to define.
Thenfilled with his own dark intentionshe spoke in the
language of the Canadasa tongue that he well knew was
comprehended by most of his auditors.

The Spirit that made men colored them differently,
commenced the subtle Huron. "Some are blacker than the
sluggish bear. These He said should be slaves; and He
ordered them to work foreverlike the beaver. You may hear
them groanwhen the south wind blowslouder than the
lowing buffaloesalong the shores of the great salt lake
where the big canoes come and go with them in droves. Some
He made with faces paler than the ermine of the forests; and
these He ordered to be traders; dogs to their womenand
wolves to their slaves. He gave this people the nature of
the pigeon; wings that never tire; youngmore plentiful
than the leaves on the treesand appetites to devour the
earth. He gave them tongues like the false call of the
wildcat; hearts like rabbits; the cunning of the hog (but
none of the fox)and arms longer than the legs of the
moose. With his tongue he stops the ears of the Indians;
his heart teaches him to pay warriors to fight his battles;
his cunning tells him how to get together the goods of the
earth; and his arms inclose the land from the shores of the
salt-water to the islands of the great lake. His gluttony
makes him sick. God gave him enoughand yet he wants all.
Such are the pale faces.

Some the Great Spirit made with skins brighter and redder
than yonder sun,continued Maguapointing impressively
upward to the lurid luminarywhich was struggling through
the misty atmosphere of the horizon; "and these did He
fashion to His own mind. He gave them this island as He had
made itcovered with treesand filled with game. The wind
made their clearings; the sun and rain ripened their fruits;
and the snows came to tell them to be thankful. What need
had they of roads to journey by! They saw through the
hills! When the beavers workedthey lay in the shadeand
looked on. The winds cooled them in summer; in winter
skins kept them warm. If they fought among themselvesit
was to prove that they were men. They were brave; they were
just; they were happy."


Here the speaker pausedand again looked around him to
discover if his legend had touched the sympathies of his
listeners. He met everywherewith eyes riveted on his own
heads erect and nostrils expandedas if each individual
present felt himself able and willingsinglyto redress
the wrongs of his race.

If the Great Spirit gave different tongues to his red
children,he continuedin a lowstill melancholy voice
it was that all animals might understand them. Some He
placed among the snows, with their cousin, the bear. Some
he placed near the setting sun, on the road to the happy
hunting grounds. Some on the lands around the great fresh
waters; but to His greatest, and most beloved, He gave the
sands of the salt lake. Do my brothers know the name of
this favored people?

It was the Lenape!exclaimed twenty eager voices in a
breath.

It was the Lenni Lenape,returned Maguaaffecting to bend
his head in reverence to their former greatness. "It was
the tribes of the Lenape! The sun rose from water that was
saltand set in water that was sweetand never hid himself
from their eyes. But why should Ia Huron of the woods
tell a wise people their own traditions? Why remind them of
their injuries; their ancient greatness; their deeds; their
glory; their happiness; their losses; their defeats; their
misery? Is there not one among them who has seen it all
and who knows it to be true? I have done. My tongue is
still for my heart is of lead. I listen."

As the voice of the speaker suddenly ceasedevery face and
all eyes turnedby a common movementtoward the venerable
Tamenund. From the moment that he took his seatuntil the
present instantthe lips of the patriarch had not severed
and scarcely a sign of life had escaped him. He sat bent in
feeblenessand apparently unconscious of the presence he
was induring the whole of that opening scenein which the
skill of the scout had been so clearly established. At the
nicely graduated sound of Magua's voicehoweverhe
betrayed some evidence of consciousnessand once or twice
he even raised his headas if to listen. But when the
crafty Huron spoke of his nation by namethe eyelids of the
old man raised themselvesand he looked out upon the
multitude with that sort of dullunmeaning expression which
might be supposed to belong to the countenance of a specter.
Then he made an effort to riseand being upheld by his
supportershe gained his feetin a posture commanding by
its dignitywhile he tottered with weakness.

Who calls upon the children of the Lenape?he saidin a
deepguttural voicethat was rendered awfully audible by
the breathless silence of the multitude; "who speaks of
things gone? Does not the egg become a worm -- the worm a
flyand perish? Why tell the Delawares of good that is
past? Better thank the Manitou for that which remains."

It is a Wyandot,said Maguastepping nigher to the rude
platform on which the other stood; "a friend of Tamenund."

A friend!repeated the sageon whose brow a dark frown
settledimparting a portion of that severity which had


rendered his eye so terrible in middle age. "Are the
Mingoes rulers of the earth? What brings a Huron in here?"

Justice. His prisoners are with his brothers, and he comes
for his own.

Tamenund turned his head toward one of his supportersand
listened to the short explanation the man gave.

Thenfacing the applicanthe regarded him a moment with
deep attention; after which he saidin a low and reluctant
voice:

Justice is the law of the great Manitou. My children, give
the stranger food. Then, Huron, take thine own and depart.

On the delivery of this solemn judgmentthe patriarch
seated himselfand closed his eyes againas if better
pleased with the images of his own ripened experience than
with the visible objects of the world. Against such a
decree there was no Delaware sufficiently hardy to murmur
much less oppose himself. The words were barely uttered
when four or five of the younger warriorsstepping behind
Heyward and the scoutpassed thongs so dexterously and
rapidly around their armsas to hold them both in instant
bondage. The former was too much engrossed with his
precious and nearly insensible burdento be aware of their
intentions before they were executed; and the latterwho
considered even the hostile tribes of the Delawares a
superior race of beingssubmitted without resistance.
Perhapshoweverthe manner of the scout would not have
been so passivehad he fully comprehended the language in
which the preceding dialogue had been conducted.

Magua cast a look of triumph around the whole assembly
before he proceeded to the execution of his purpose.
Perceiving that the men were unable to offer any resistance
he turned his looks on her he valued most. Cora met his
gaze with an eye so calm and firmthat his resolution
wavered. Thenrecollecting his former artificehe raised
Alice from the arms of the warrior against whom she leaned
and beckoning Heyward to followhe motioned for the
encircling crowd to open. But Corainstead of obeying the
impulse he had expectedrushed to the feet of the
patriarchandraising her voiceexclaimed aloud:

Just and venerable Delaware, on thy wisdom and power we
lean for mercy! Be deaf to yonder artful and remorseless
monster, who poisons thy ears with falsehoods to feed his
thirst for blood. Thou that hast lived long, and that hast
seen the evil of the world, should know how to temper its
calamities to the miserable.

The eyes of the old man opened heavilyand he once more
looked upward at the multitude. As the piercing tones of
the suppliant swelled on his earsthey moved slowly in the
direction of her personand finally settled there in a
steady gaze. Cora had cast herself to her knees; andwith
hands clenched in each other and pressed upon her bosomshe
remained like a beauteous and breathing model of her sex
looking up in his faded but majestic countenancewith a
species of holy reverence. Gradually the expression of
Tamenund's features changedand losing their vacancy in
admirationthey lighted with a portion of that intelligence


which a century before had been wont to communicate his
youthful fire to the extensive bands of the Delawares.
Rising without assistanceand seemingly without an effort
he demandedin a voice that startled its auditors by its
firmness:

What art thou?

A woman. One of a hated race, if thou wilt -- a Yengee.
But one who has never harmed thee, and who cannot harm thy
people, if she would; who asks for succor.

Tell me, my children,continued the patriarchhoarsely
motioning to those around himthough his eyes still dwelt
upon the kneeling form of Corawhere have the Delawares
camped?

In the mountains of the Iroquois, beyond the clear springs
of the Horican.

Many parching summers are come and gone,continued the
sagesince I drank of the water of my own rivers. The
children of Minquon* are the justest white men, but they
were thirsty and they took it to themselves. Do they follow
us so far?

* William Penn was termed Minquon by the Delawares
andas he never used violence or injustice in his dealings
with themhis reputation for probity passed into a proverb.
The American is justly proud of the origin of his nation
which is perhaps unequaled in the history of the world; but
the Pennsylvanian and Jerseyman have more reason to value
themselves in their ancestors than the natives of any other
statesince no wrong was done the original owners of the
soil.
We follow none, we covet nothing,answered Cora.
Captives against our wills, have we been brought amongst
you; and we ask but permission to depart to our own in
peace. Art thou not Tamenund -- the father, the judge, I
had almost said, the prophet -- of this people?

I am Tamenund of many days.

'Tis now some seven years that one of thy people was at the
mercy of a white chief on the borders of this province. He
claimed to be of the blood of the good and just Tamenund.
'Go', said the white man, 'for thy parent's sake thou art
free.' Dost thou remember the name of that English warrior?

I remember, that when a laughing boy,returned the
patriarchwith the peculiar recollection of vast ageI
stood upon the sands of the sea shore, and saw a big canoe,
with wings whiter than the swan's, and wider than many
eagles, come from the rising sun.

Nay, nay; I speak not of a time so very distant, but of
favor shown to thy kindred by one of mine, within the memory
of thy youngest warrior.

Was it when the Yengeese and the Dutchmanne fought for the
hunting-grounds of the Delawares? Then Tamenund was a
chief, and first laid aside the bow for the lightning of the
pale faces --


Not yet then,interrupted Coraby many ages; I speak of
a thing of yesterday. Surely, surely, you forget it not.

It was but yesterday,rejoined the aged manwith touching
pathosthat the children of the Lenape were masters of the
world. The fishes of the salt lake, the birds, the beasts,
and the Mengee of the woods, owned them for Sagamores.

Cora bowed her head in disappointmentandfor a bitter
moment struggled with her chagrin. Thenelevating her rich
features and beaming eyesshe continuedin tones scarcely
less penetrating than the unearthly voice of the patriarch
himself:

Tell me, is Tamenund a father?

The old man looked down upon her from his elevated stand
with a benignant smile on his wasted countenanceand then
casting his eyes slowly over the whole assemblagehe
answered:

Of a nation.

For myself I ask nothing. Like thee and thine, venerable
chief,she continuedpressing her hands convulsively on
her heartand suffering her head to droop until her burning
cheeks were nearly concealed in the maze of darkglossy
tresses that fell in disorder upon her shouldersthe curse
of my ancestors has fallen heavily on their child. But
yonder is one who has never known the weight of Heaven's
displeasure until now. She is the daughter of an old and
failing man, whose days are near their close. She has many,
very many, to love her, and delight in her; and she is too
good, much too precious, to become the victim of that
villain.

I know that the pale faces are a proud and hungry race. I
know that they claim not only to have the earth, but that
the meanest of their color is better than the Sachems of the
red man. The dogs and crows of their tribes,continued the
earnest old chieftainwithout heeding the wounded spirit of
his listenerwhose head was nearly crushed to the earth in
shameas he proceededwould bark and caw before they
would take a woman to their wigwams whose blood was not of
the color of snow. But let them not boast before the face
of the Manitou too loud. They entered the land at the
rising, and may yet go off at the setting sun. I have often
seen the locusts strip the leaves from the trees, but the
season of blossoms has always come again.

It is so,said Coradrawing a long breathas if reviving
from a tranceraising her faceand shaking back her
shining veilwith a kindling eyethat contradicted the
death-like paleness of her countenance; "but why -- it is
not permitted us to inquire. There is yet one of thine own
people who has not been brought before thee; before thou
lettest the Huron depart in triumphhear him speak."

Observing Tamenund to look about him doubtinglyone of his
companions said:

It is a snake -- a red-skin in the pay of the Yengeese. We
keep him for the torture.


Let him come,returned the sage.

Then Tamenund once more sank into his seatand a silence so
deep prevailed while the young man prepared to obey his
simple mandatethat the leaveswhich fluttered in the
draught of the light morning airwere distinctly heard
rustling in the surrounding forest.

CHAPTER 30

If you deny me, fie upon your law! There is no force in
the decrees of Venice: I stand for judgment: answer, shall I
have it?--Merchant of Venice

The silence continued unbroken by human sounds for many
anxious minutes. Then the waving multitude opened and shut
againand Uncas stood in the living circle. All those
eyeswhich had been curiously studying the lineaments of
the sageas the source of their own intelligenceturned on
the instantand were now bent in secret admiration on the
erectagileand faultless person of the captive. But
neither the presence in which he found himselfnor the
exclusive attention that he attractedin any manner
disturbed the self-possession of the young Mohican. He cast
a deliberate and observing look on every side of him
meeting the settled expression of hostility that lowered in
the visages of the chiefs with the same calmness as the
curious gaze of the attentive children. But whenlast in
this haughty scrutinythe person of Tamenund came under his
glancehis eye became fixedas though all other objects
were already forgotten. Thenadvancing with a slow and
noiseless step up the areahe placed himself immediately
before the footstool of the sage. Here he stood unnoted
though keenly observant himselfuntil one of the chiefs
apprised the latter of his presence.

With what tongue does the prisoner speak to the Manitou?
demanded the patriarchwithout unclosing his eyes.

Like his fathers,Uncas replied; "with the tongue of a
Delaware."

At this sudden and unexpected annunciationa lowfierce
yell ran through the multitudethat might not inaptly be
compared to the growl of the lionas his choler is first
awakened -- a fearful omen of the weight of his future
anger. The effect was equally strong on the sagethough
differently exhibited. He passed a hand before his eyesas
if to exclude the least evidence of so shameful a spectacle
while he repeatedin his lowguttural tonesthe words he
had just heard.

A Delaware! I have lived to see the tribes of the Lenape
driven from their council-fires, and scattered, like broken
herds of deer, among the hills of the Iroquois! I have seen
the hatchets of a strong people sweep woods from the
valleys, that the winds of heaven have spared! The beasts
that run on the mountains, and the birds that fly above the
trees, have I seen living in the wigwams of men; but never
before have I found a Delaware so base as to creep, like a
poisonous serpent, into the camps of his nation.


The singing-birds have opened their bills,returned Uncas
in the softest notes of his own musical voice; "and Tamenund
has heard their song."

The sage startedand bent his head asideas if to catch
the fleeting sounds of some passing melody.

Does Tamenund dream!he exclaimed. "What voice is at his
ear! Have the winters gone backward! Will summer come
again to the children of the Lenape!"

A solemn and respectful silence succeeded this incoherent
burst from the lips of the Delaware prophet. His people
readily constructed his unintelligible language into one of
those mysterious conferences he was believed to hold so
frequently with a superior intelligence and they awaited the
issue of the revelation in awe. After a patient pause
howeverone of the aged menperceiving that the sage had
lost the recollection of the subject before themventured
to remind him again of the presence of the prisoner.

The false Delaware trembles lest he should hear the words
of Tamenund,he said. "'Tis a hound that howlswhen the
Yengeese show him a trail."

And ye,returned Uncaslooking sternly around himare
dogs that whine, when the Frenchman casts ye the offals of
his deer!

Twenty knives gleamed in the airand as many warriors
sprang to their feetat this bitingand perhaps merited
retort; but a motion from one of the chiefs suppressed the
outbreaking of their tempersand restored the appearance of
quiet. The task might probably have been more difficult
had not a movement made by Tamenund indicated that he was
again about to speak.

Delaware!resumed the sagelittle art thou worthy of thy
name. My people have not seen a bright sun in many winters;
and the warrior who deserts his tribe when hid in clouds is
doubly a traitor. The law of the Manitou is just. It is
so; while the rivers run and the mountains stand, while the
blossoms come and go on the trees, it must be so. He is
thine, my children; deal justly by him.

Not a limb was movednor was a breath drawn louder and
longer than commonuntil the closing syllable of this final
decree had passed the lips of Tamenund. Then a cry of
vengeance burst at onceas it might befrom the united
lips of the nation; a frightful augury of their ruthless
intentions. In the midst of these prolonged and savage
yellsa chief proclaimedin a high voicethat the captive
was condemned to endure the dreadful trial of torture by
fire. The circle broke its orderand screams of delight
mingled with the bustle and tumult of preparation. Heyward
struggled madly with his captors; the anxious eye of Hawkeye
began to look around himwith an expression of peculiar
earnestness; and Cora again threw herself at the feet of the
patriarchonce more a suppliant for mercy.

Throughout the whole of these trying momentsUncas had
alone preserved his serenity. He looked on the preparations
with a steady eyeand when the tormentors came to seize


himhe met them with a firm and upright attitude. One
among themif possible more fierce and savage than his
fellowsseized the hunting-shirt of the young warriorand
at a single effort tore it from his body. Thenwith a yell
of frantic pleasurehe leaped toward his unresisting victim
and prepared to lead him to the stake. Butat that moment
when he appeared most a stranger to the feelings of
humanitythe purpose of the savage was arrested as suddenly
as if a supernatural agency had interposed in the behalf of
Uncas. The eyeballs of the Delaware seemed to start from
their sockets; his mouth opened and his whole form became
frozen in an attitude of amazement. Raising his hand with a
slow and regulated motionhe pointed with a finger to the
bosom of the captive. His companions crowded about him in
wonder and every eye was like his ownfastened intently on
the figure of a small tortoisebeautifully tattooed on the
breast of the prisonerin a bright blue tint.

For a single instant Uncas enjoyed his triumphsmiling
calmly on the scene. Then motioning the crowd away with a
high and haughty sweep of his armhe advanced in front of
the nation with the air of a kingand spoke in a voice
louder than the murmur of admiration that ran through the
multitude.

Men of the Lenni Lenape!he saidmy race upholds the
earth! Your feeble tribe stands on my shell! What fire
that a Delaware can light would burn the child of my
fathers,he addedpointing proudly to the simple blazonry
on his skin; "the blood that came from such a stock would

smother your flames! My race is the grandfather of
nations!"

Who art thou?demanded Tamenundrising at the startling
tones he heardmore than at any meaning conveyed by the
language of the prisoner.

Uncas, the son of Chingachgook,answered the captive
modestlyturning from the nationand bending his head in
reverence to the other's character and years; "a son of the
great Unamis."*

* Turtle.
The hour of Tamenund is nigh!exclaimed the sage; "the day
is comeat lastto the night! I thank the Manitouthat
one is here to fill my place at the council-fire. Uncas
the child of Uncasis found! Let the eyes of a dying eagle
gaze on the rising sun."

The youth stepped lightlybut proudly on the platform
where he became visible to the whole agitated and wondering
multitude. Tamenund held him long at the length of his arm
and read every turn in the fine lineaments of his
countenancewith the untiring gaze of one who recalled days
of happiness.

Is Tamenund a boy?at length the bewildered prophet
exclaimed. "Have I dreamed of so many snows -- that my
people were scattered like floating sands -- of Yengeese
more plenty than the leaves on the trees! The arrow of
Tamenund would not frighten the fawn; his arm is withered
like the branch of a dead oak; the snail would be swifter in


the race; yet is Uncas before him as they went to battle
against the pale faces! Uncasthe panther of his tribe
the eldest son of the Lenapethe wisest Sagamore of the
Mohicans! Tell meye Delawareshas Tamenund been a sleeper
for a hundred winters?"

The calm and deep silence which succeeded these words
sufficiently announced the awful reverence with which his
people received the communication of the patriarch. None
dared to answerthough all listened in breathless
expectation of what might follow. Uncashoweverlooking
in his face with the fondness and veneration of a favored
childpresumed on his own high and acknowledged rankto
reply.

Four warriors of his race have lived and died,he said
since the friend of Tamenund led his people in battle. The
blood of the turtle has been in many chiefs, but all have
gone back into the earth from whence they came, except
Chingachgook and his son.

It is true -- it is true,returned the sagea flash of
recollection destroying all his pleasing fanciesand
restoring him at once to a consciousness of the true history
of his nation. "Our wise men have often said that two
warriors of the unchanged race were in the hills of the
Yengeese; why have their seats at the council-fires of the
Delawares been so long empty?"

At these words the young man raised his headwhich he had
still kept bowed a littlein reverence; and lifting his
voice so as to be heard by the multitudeas if to explain
at once and forever the policy of his familyhe said aloud:

Once we slept where we could hear the salt lake speak in
its anger. Then we were rulers and Sagamores over the land.
But when a pale face was seen on every brook, we followed
the deer back to the river of our nation. The Delawares
were gone. Few warriors of them all stayed to drink of the
stream they loved. Then said my fathers, 'Here will we
hunt. The waters of the river go into the salt lake. If we
go toward the setting sun, we shall find streams that run
into the great lakes of sweet water; there would a Mohican
die, like fishes of the sea, in the clear springs. When the
Manitou is ready and shall say Come we will follow the
river to the sea, and take our own again. Such, Delawares,
is the belief of the children of the Turtle. Our eyes are
on the rising and not toward the setting sun. We know
whence he comes, but we know not whither he goes. It is
enough.

The men of the Lenape listened to his words with all the
respect that superstition could lendfinding a secret charm
even in the figurative language with which the young
Sagamore imparted his ideas. Uncas himself watched the
effect of his brief explanation with intelligent eyesand
gradually dropped the air of authority he had assumedas he
perceived that his auditors were content. Thenpermitting
his looks to wander over the silent throng that crowded
around the elevated seat of Tamenundhe first perceived
Hawkeye in his bonds. Stepping eagerly from his standhe
made way for himself to the side of his friend; and cutting
his thongs with a quick and angry stroke of his own knife
he motioned to the crowd to divide. The Indians silently


obeyedand once more they stood ranged in their circleas
before his appearance among them. Uncas took the scout by
the handand led him to the feet of the patriarch.

Father,he saidlook at this pale face; a just man, and
the friend of the Delawares.

Is he a son of Minquon?

Not so; a warrior known to the Yengeese, and feared by the
Maquas.

What name has he gained by his deeds?

We call him Hawkeye,Uncas repliedusing the Delaware
phrase; "for his sight never fails. The Mingoes know him
better by the death he gives their warriors; with them he is
'The Long Rifle'."

La Longue Carabine!exclaimed Tamenundopening his eyes
and regarding the scout sternly. "My son has not done well
to call him friend."

I call him so who proves himself such,returned the young
chiefwith great calmnessbut with a steady mien. "If
Uncas is welcome among the Delawaresthen is Hawkeye with
his friends."

The pale face has slain my young men; his name is great for
the blows he has struck the Lenape.

If a Mingo has whispered that much in the ear of the
Delaware, he has only shown that he is a singing-bird,said
the scoutwho now believed that it was time to vindicate
himself from such offensive chargesand who spoke as the
man he addressedmodifying his Indian figureshowever
with his own peculiar notions. "That I have slain the Maquas
I am not the man to denyeven at their own council-fires;
but thatknowinglymy hand has never harmed a Delawareis
opposed to the reason of my giftswhich is friendly to them
and all that belongs to their nation."

A low exclamation of applause passed among the warriors who
exchanged looks with each other like men that first began to
perceive their error.

Where is the Huron?demanded Tamenund. "Has he stopped my
ears?"

Maguawhose feelings during that scene in which Uncas had
triumphed may be much better imagined than described
answered to the call by stepping boldly in front of the
patriarch.

The just Tamenund,he saidwill not keep what a Huron
has lent.

Tell me, son of my brother,returned the sageavoiding
the dark countenance of Le Subtiland turning gladly to the
more ingenuous features of Uncashas the stranger a
conqueror's right over you?

He has none. The panther may get into snares set by the
women; but he is strong, and knows how to leap through


them.

La Longue Carabine?

Laughs at the Mingoes. Go, Huron, ask your squaws the
color of a bear.

The stranger and white maiden that come into my camp
together?

Should journey on an open path.

And the woman that Huron left with my warriors?

Uncas made no reply.

And the woman that the Mingo has brought into my camp?
repeated Tamenundgravely.

She is mine,cried Maguashaking his hand in triumph at
Uncas. "Mohicanyou know that she is mine."

My son is silent,said Tamenundendeavoring to read the
expression of the face that the youth turned from him in
sorrow.

It is so,was the low answer.

A short and impressive pause succeededduring which it was
very apparent with what reluctance the multitude admitted
the justice of the Mingo's claim. At length the sageon
whom alone the decision dependedsaidin a firm voice:

Huron, depart.

As he came, just Tamenund,demanded the wily Maguaor
with hands filled with the faith of the Delawares? The
wigwam of Le Renard Subtil is empty. Make him strong with
his own.

The aged man mused with himself for a time; and then
bending his head toward one of his venerable companionshe
asked:

Are my ears open?

It is true.

Is this Mingo a chief?

The first in his nation.

Girl, what wouldst thou? A great warrior takes thee to
wife. Go! thy race will not end.

Better, a thousand times, it should,exclaimed the
horror-struck Corathan meet with such a degradation!

Huron, her mind is in the tents of her fathers. An
unwilling maiden makes an unhappy wigwam.

She speaks with the tongue of her people,returned Magua
regarding his victim with a look of bitter irony.


She is of a race of traders, and will bargain for a bright
look. Let Tamenund speak the words.

Take you the wampum, and our love.

Nothing hence but what Magua brought hither.

Then depart with thine own. The Great Manitou forbids that
a Delaware should be unjust.

Magua advancedand seized his captive strongly by the arm;
the Delawares fell backin silence; and Coraas if
conscious that remonstrance would be uselessprepared to
submit to her fate without resistance.

Hold, hold!cried Duncanspringing forward; "Huronhave
mercy! her ransom shall make thee richer than any of thy
people were ever yet known to be."

Magua is a red-skin; he wants not the beads of the pale
faces.

Gold, silver, powder, lead -- all that a warrior needs
shall be in thy wigwam; all that becomes the greatest
chief.

Le Subtil is very strong,cried Maguaviolently shaking
the hand which grasped the unresisting arm of Cora; "he has
his revenge!"

Mighty ruler of Providence!exclaimed Heywardclasping
his hands together in agonycan this be suffered! To you,
just Tamenund, I appeal for mercy.

The words of the Delaware are said,returned the sage
closing his eyesand dropping back into his seatalike
wearied with his mental and his bodily exertion. "Men speak
not twice."

That a chief should not misspend his time in unsaying what
has once been spoken is wise and reasonable,said Hawkeye
motioning to Duncan to be silent; "but it is also prudent in
every warrior to consider well before he strikes his
tomahawk into the head of his prisoner. HuronI love you
not; nor can I say that any Mingo has ever received much
favor at my hands. It is fair to conclude thatif this war
does not soon endmany more of your warriors will meet me
in the woods. Put it to your judgmentthenwhether you
would prefer taking such a prisoner as that into your
encampmentor one like myselfwho am a man that it would
greatly rejoice your nation to see with naked hands."

Will 'The Long Rifle' give his life for the woman?
demanded Maguahesitatingly; for he had already made a
motion toward quitting the place with his victim.

No, no; I have not said so much as that,returned Hawkeye
drawing back with suitable discretionwhen he noted the
eagerness with which Magua listened to his proposal. "It
would be an unequal exchangeto give a warriorin the
prime of his age and usefulnessfor the best woman on the
frontiers. I might consent to go into winter quartersnow

-- at least six weeks afore the leaves will turn -- on
condition you will release the maiden."


Magua shook his headand made an impatient sign for the
crowd to open.

Well, then,added the scoutwith the musing air of a man
who had not half made up his mind; "I will throw 'killdeer'
into the bargain. Take the word of an experienced hunter
the piece has not its equal atween the provinces."

Magua still disdained to replycontinuing his efforts to
disperse the crowd.

Perhaps,added the scoutlosing his dissembled coolness
exactly in proportion as the other manifested an
indifference to the exchangeif I should condition to
teach your young men the real virtue of the we'pon, it would
smoothe the little differences in our judgments.

Le Renard fiercely ordered the Delawareswho still lingered
in an impenetrable belt around himin hopes he would listen
to the amicable proposalto open his paththreateningby
the glance of his eyeanother appeal to the infallible
justice of their "prophet."

What is ordered must sooner or later arrive,continued
Hawkeyeturning with a sad and humbled look to Uncas. "The
varlet knows his advantage and will keep it! God bless you
boy; you have found friends among your natural kinand I
hope they will prove as true as some you have met who had no
Indian cross. As for mesooner or laterI must die; it
isthereforefortunate there are but few to make my death-howl.
After allit is likely the imps would have managed to master my
scalpso a day or two will make no great difference in the
everlasting reckoning of time. God bless you added the rugged
woodsman, bending his head aside, and then instantly changing its
direction again, with a wistful look toward the youth; I loved
both you and your fatherUncasthough our skins are not
altogether of a colorand our gifts are somewhat different.
Tell the Sagamore I never lost sight of him in my greatest
trouble; andas for youthink of me sometimes when on a lucky
trailand depend on itboywhether there be one heaven or two
there is a path in the other world by which honest men may come
together again. You'll find the rifle in the place we hid it;
take itand keep it for my sake; andharkeeladas your
natural gifts don't deny you the use of vengeanceuse it a
little freely on the Mingoes; it may unburden griefs at my
lossand ease your mind. HuronI accept your offer;
release the woman. I am your prisoner!"

A suppressedbut still distinct murmur of approbation ran
through the crowd at this generous proposition; even the
fiercest among the Delaware warriors manifesting pleasure at
the manliness of the intended sacrifice. Magua pausedand
for an anxious momentit might be saidhe doubted; then
casting his eyes on Corawith an expression in which
ferocity and admiration were strangely mingledhis purpose
became fixed forever.

He intimated his contempt of the offer with a backward
motion of his headand saidin a steady and settled voice:

Le Renard Subtil is a great chief; he has but one mind.
Come,he addedlaying his hand too familiarly on the
shoulder of his captive to urge her onward; "a Huron is no


tattler; we will go."

The maiden drew back in lofty womanly reserveand her dark
eye kindledwhile the rich blood shotlike the passing
brightness of the suninto her very templesat the
indignity.

I am your prisoner, and, at a fitting time shall be ready
to follow, even to my death. But violence is unnecessary,
she coldly said; and immediately turning to Hawkeyeadded:
Generous hunter! from my soul I thank you. Your offer is
vain, neither could it be accepted; but still you may serve
me, even more than in your own noble intention. Look at
that drooping humbled child! Abandon her not until you
leave her in the habitations of civilized men. I will not
say,wringing the hard hand of the scoutthat her father
will reward you -- for such as you are above the rewards of
men -- but he will thank you and bless you. And, believe
me, the blessing of a just and aged man has virtue in the
sight of Heaven. Would to God I could hear one word from
his lips at this awful moment!Her voice became choked
andfor an instantshe was silent; thenadvancing a step
nigher to Duncanwho was supporting her unconscious sister
she continuedin more subdued tonesbut in which feeling
and the habits of her sex maintained a fearful struggle: "I
need not tell you to cherish the treasure you will possess.
You love herHeyward; that would conceal a thousand faults
though she had them. She is kindgentlesweetgoodas
mortal may be. There is not a blemish in mind or person at
which the proudest of you all would sicken. She is fair -oh!
how surpassingly fair!" laying her own beautifulbut
less brillianthand in melancholy affection on the
alabaster forehead of Aliceand parting the golden hair
which clustered about her brows; "and yet her soul is pure
and spotless as her skin! I could say much -- more
perhapsthan cooler reason would approve; but I will spare
you and myself --" Her voice became inaudibleand her face
was bent over the form of her sister. After a long and
burning kissshe aroseand with features of the hue of
deathbut without even a tear in her feverish eyeshe
turned awayand addedto the savagewith all her former
elevation of manner: "Nowsirif it be your pleasureI
will follow."

Ay, go,cried Duncanplacing Alice in the arms of an
Indian girl; "goMaguago. these Delawares have their
lawswhich forbid them to detain you; but I -- I have no
such obligation. Gomalignant monster -- why do you
delay?"

It would be difficult to describe the expression with which
Magua listened to this threat to follow. There was at first
a fierce and manifest display of joyand then it was
instantly subdued in a look of cunning coldness.

The words are open,he was content with answering'The
Open Hand' can come.

Hold,cried Hawkeyeseizing Duncan by the armand
detaining him by violence; "you know not the craft of the
imp. He would lead you to an ambushmentand your death --"

Huron,interrupted Uncaswho submissive to the stern
customs of his peoplehad been an attentive and grave


listener to all that passed; "Huronthe justice of the
Delawares comes from the Manitou. Look at the sun. He is
now in the upper branches of the hemlock. Your path is
short and open. When he is seen above the treesthere will
be men on your trail."

I hear a crow!exclaimed Maguawith a taunting laugh.
Go!he addedshaking his hand at the crowdwhich had
slowly opened to admit his passage. "Where are the
petticoats of the Delawares! Let them send their arrows and
their guns to the Wyandots; they shall have venison to eat
and corn to hoe. Dogsrabbitsthieves -- I spit on you!"

His parting gibes were listened to in a deadboding
silenceandwith these biting words in his mouththe
triumphant Magua passed unmolested into the forestfollowed
by his passive captiveand protected by the inviolable laws
of Indian hospitality.

CHAPTER 31

Flue.--Kill the poys and the luggage! 'Tis expressly
against the law of arms; 'tis as arrant a piece of knavery,
mark you now, as can be offered in the 'orld.--King
Henry V

So long as their enemy and his victim continued in sight
the multitude remained motionless as beings charmed to the
place by some power that was friendly to the Huron; butthe
instant he disappearedit became tossed and agitated by
fierce and powerful passion. Uncas maintained his elevated
standkeeping his eyes on the form of Corauntil the
colors of her dress were blended with the foliage of the
forest; when he descendedandmoving silently through the
thronghe disappeared in that lodge from which he had so
recently issued. A few of the graver and more attentive
warriorswho caught the gleams of anger that shot from the
eyes of the young chief in passingfollowed him to the
place he had selected for his meditations. After which
Tamenund and Alice were removedand the women and children
were ordered to disperse. During the momentous hour that
succeededthe encampment resembled a hive of troubled bees
who only awaited the appearance and example of their leader
to take some distant and momentous flight.

A young warrior at length issued from the lodge of Uncas;
andmoving deliberatelywith a sort of grave marchtoward
a dwarf pine that grew in the crevices of the rocky terrace
he tore the bark from its bodyand then turned whence he
came without speaking. He was soon followed by anotherwho
stripped the sapling of its branchesleaving it a naked and
blazed* trunk. A third colored the post with stripes of a
dark red paint; all which indications of a hostile design in
the leaders of the nation were received by the men without
in a gloomy and ominous silence. Finallythe Mohican
himself reappeareddivested of all his attireexcept his
girdle and leggingsand with one-half of his fine features
hid under a cloud of threatening black.

* A tree which has been partially or entirely stripped
of its bark is saidin the language of the countryto be
blazed.The term is strictly Englishfor a horse is said

to be blazed when it has a white mark.


Uncas moved with a slow and dignified tread toward the post
which he immediately commenced encircling with a measured
stepnot unlike an ancient danceraising his voiceat the
same timein the wild and irregular chant of his war song.
The notes were in the extremes of human sounds; being
sometimes melancholy and exquisitely plaintiveeven
rivaling the melody of birds -- and thenby sudden and
startling transitionscausing the auditors to tremble by
their depth and energy. The words were few and often
repeatedproceeding gradually from a sort of invocationor
hymnto the Deityto an intimation of the warrior's
objectand terminating as they commenced with an
acknowledgment of his own dependence on the Great Spirit.
If it were possible to translate the comprehensive and
melodious language in which he spokethe ode might read
something like the following: "Manitou! Manitou! Manitou!
Thou art greatthou art goodthou art wise: Manitou!
Manitou! Thou art just. "In the heavensin the clouds
ohI see many spots -- many darkmany red: In the heavens
ohI see many clouds."


In the woods, in the air, oh, I
hear the whoop, the long yell, and the cry: In the woods,
oh, I hear the loud whoop!


Manitou! Manitou! Manitou! I am weak -- thou art strong;
I am slow; Manitou! Manitou! Give me aid.

At the end of what might be called each verse he made a
pauseby raising a note louder and longer than commonthat
was peculiarly suited to the sentiment just expressed. The
first close was solemnand intended to convey the idea of
veneration; the second descriptivebordering on the alarming;
and the third was the well-known and terrific war-whoopwhich
burst from the lips of the young warriorlike a combination
of all the frightful sounds of battle. The last was like the
firsthumble and imploring. Three times did he repeat this
songand as often did he encircle the post in his dance.

At the close of the first turna grave and highly esteemed
chief of the Lenape followed his examplesinging words of
his ownhoweverto music of a similar character. Warrior
after warrior enlisted in the danceuntil all of any renown
and authority were numbered in its mazes. The spectacle now
became wildly terrific; the fierce-looking and menacing
visages of the chiefs receiving additional power from the
appalling strains in which they mingled their guttural
tones. Just then Uncas struck his tomahawk deep into the
postand raised his voice in a shoutwhich might be termed
his own battle cry. The act announced that he had assumed
the chief authority in the intended expedition.

It was a signal that awakened all the slumbering passions of
the nation. A hundred youthswho had hitherto been
restrained by the diffidence of their yearsrushed in a
frantic body on the fancied emblem of their enemyand
severed it asundersplinter by splinteruntil nothing
remained of the trunk but its roots in the earth. During
this moment of tumultthe most ruthless deeds of war were
performed on the fragments of the treewith as much
apparent ferocity as if they were the living victims of
their cruelty. Some were scalped; some received the keen


and trembling axe; and others suffered by thrusts from the
fatal knife. In shortthe manifestations of zeal and
fierce delight were so great and unequivocalthat the
expedition was declared to be a war of the nation.

The instant Uncas had struck the blowhe moved out of the
circleand cast his eyes up to the sunwhich was just
gaining the pointwhen the truce with Magua was to end.
The fact was soon announced by a significant gesture
accompanied by a corresponding cry; and the whole of the
excited multitude abandoned their mimic warfarewith shrill
yells of pleasureto prepare for the more hazardous
experiment of the reality.

The whole face of the encampment was instantly changed. The
warriorswho were already armed and paintedbecame as
still as if they were incapable of any uncommon burst of
emotion. On the other handthe women broke out of the
lodgeswith the songs of joy and those of lamentation so
strangely mixed that it might have been difficult to have
said which passion preponderated. Nonehoweverwas idle.
Some bore their choicest articlesothers their youngand
some their aged and infirminto the forestwhich spread
itself like a verdant carpet of bright green against the
side of the mountain. Thither Tamenund also retiredwith
calm composureafter a short and touching interview with
Uncas; from whom the sage separated with the reluctance that
a parent would quit a long lost and just recovered child.
In the meantimeDuncan saw Alice to a place of safetyand
then sought the scoutwith a countenance that denoted how
eagerly he also panted for the approaching contest.

But Hawkeye was too much accustomed to the war song and the
enlistments of the nativesto betray any interest in the
passing scene. He merely cast an occasional look at the
number and quality of the warriorswhofrom time to time
signified their readiness to accompany Uncas to the field.
In this particular he was soon satisfied; foras has been
already seenthe power of the young chief quickly embraced
every fighting man in the nation. After this material point
was so satisfactorily decidedhe despatched an Indian boy
in quest of "killdeer" and the rifle of Uncasto the place
where they had deposited their weapons on approaching the
camp of the Delawares; a measure of double policyinasmuch
as it protected the arms from their own fateif detained as
prisonersand gave them the advantage of appearing among
the strangers rather as sufferers than as men provided with
means of defense and subsistence. In selecting another to
perform the office of reclaiming his highly prized rifle
the scout had lost sight of none of his habitual caution.
He knew that Magua had not come unattendedand he also knew
that Huron spies watched the movements of their new enemies
along the whole boundary of the woods. It wouldtherefore
have been fatal to himself to have attempted the experiment;
a warrior would have fared no better; but the danger of a
boy would not be likely to commence until after his object
was discovered. When Heyward joined himthe scout was
coolly awaiting the result of this experiment.

The boywho had been well instructedand was sufficiently
craftyproceededwith a bosom that was swelling with the
pride of such a confidenceand all the hopes of young
ambitioncarelessly across the clearing to the woodwhich
he entered at a point at some little distance from the place


where the guns were secreted. The instanthoweverhe was
concealed by the foliage of the busheshis dusky form was
to be seen glidinglike that of a serpenttoward the
desired treasure. He was successful; and in another moment
he appeared flying across the narrow opening that skirted
the base of the terrace on which the village stoodwith the
velocity of an arrowand bearing a prize in each hand. He
had actually gained the cragsand was leaping up their
sides with incredible activitywhen a shot from the woods
showed how accurate had been the judgment of the scout. The
boy answered it with a feeble but contemptuous shout; and
immediately a second bullet was sent after him from another
part of the cover. At the next instant he appeared on the
level aboveelevating his guns in triumphwhile he moved
with the air of a conqueror toward the renowned hunter who
had honored him by so glorious a commission.

Notwithstanding the lively interest Hawkeye had taken in the
fate of his messengerhe received "killdeer" with a
satisfaction thatmomentarilydrove all other
recollections from his mind. After examining the piece with
an intelligent eyeand opening and shutting the pan some
ten or fifteen timesand trying sundry other equally
important experiments on the lockhe turned to the boy and
demanded with great manifestations of kindnessif he was
hurt. The urchin looked proudly up in his facebut made no
reply.

Ah! I see, lad, the knaves have barked your arm!added the
scouttaking up the limb of the patient suffereracross
which a deep flesh wound had been made by one of the
bullets; "but a little bruised alder will act like a charm.
In the meantime I will wrap it in a badge of wampum! You
have commenced the business of a warrior earlymy brave
boyand are likely to bear a plenty of honorable scars to
your grave. I know many young men that have taken scalps
who cannot show such a mark as this. Go! " having bound up
the arm; "you will be a chief!"

The lad departedprouder of his flowing blood than the
vainest courtier could be of his blushing ribbon; and
stalked among the fellows of his agean object of general
admiration and envy.

Butin a moment of so many serious and important duties
this single act of juvenile fortitude did not attract the
general notice and commendation it would have received under
milder auspices. It hadhoweverserved to apprise the
Delawares of the position and the intentions of their
enemies. Accordingly a party of adventurersbetter suited
to the task than the weak though spirited boywas ordered
to dislodge the skulkers. The duty was soon performed; for
most of the Hurons retired of themselves when they found
they had been discovered. The Delawares followed to a
sufficient distance from their own encampmentand then
halted for ordersapprehensive of being led into an ambush.
As both parties secreted themselvesthe woods were again as
still and quiet as a mild summer morning and deep solitude
could render them.

The calm but still impatient Uncas now collected his chiefs
and divided his power. He presented Hawkeye as a warrior
often triedand always found deserving of confidence. When
he found his friend met with a favorable receptionhe


bestowed on him the command of twenty menlike himself
activeskillful and resolute. He gave the Delawares to
understand the rank of Heyward among the troops of the
Yengeeseand then tendered to him a trust of equal
authority. But Duncan declined the chargeprofessing his
readiness to serve as a volunteer by the side of the scout.
After this dispositionthe young Mohican appointed various
native chiefs to fill the different situations of
responsibilityandthe time pressinghe gave forth the
word to march. He was cheerfullybut silently obeyed by
more than two hundred men.

Their entrance into the forest was perfectly unmolested; nor
did they encounter any living objects that could either give
the alarmor furnish the intelligence they neededuntil
they came upon the lairs of their own scouts. Here a halt
was orderedand the chiefs were assembled to hold a
whispering council.

At this meeting divers plans of operation were suggested
though none of a character to meet the wishes of their
ardent leader. Had Uncas followed the promptings of his own
inclinationshe would have led his followers to the charge
without a moment's delayand put the conflict to the hazard
of an instant issue; but such a course would have been in
opposition to all the received practises and opinions of his
countrymen. He wasthereforefain to adopt a caution that
in the present temper of his mind he execratedand to
listen to advice at which his fiery spirit chafedunder the
vivid recollection of Cora's danger and Magua's insolence.

After an unsatisfactory conference of many minutesa
solitary individual was seen advancing from the side of the
enemywith such apparent hasteas to induce the belief he
might be a messenger charged with pacific overtures. When
within a hundred yardshoweverof the cover behind which
the Delaware council had assembledthe stranger hesitated
appeared uncertain what course to takeand finally halted.
All eyes were turned now on Uncasas if seeking directions
how to proceed.

Hawkeye,said the young chiefin a low voicehe must
never speak to the Hurons again.

His time has come,said the laconic scoutthrusting the
long barrel of his rifle through the leavesand taking his
deliberate and fatal aim. Butinstead of pulling the
triggerhe lowered the muzzle againand indulged himself
in a fit of his peculiar mirth. "I took the imp for a
Mingoas I'm a miserable sinner!" he said; "but when my eye
ranged along his ribs for a place to get the bullet in -would
you think itUncas -- I saw the musicianer's blower;
and soafter allit is the man they call Gamutwhose
death can profit no oneand whose lifeif this tongue can
do anything but singmay be made serviceable to our own
ends. If sounds have not lost their virtueI'll soon have
a discourse with the honest fellowand that in a voice
he'll find more agreeable than the speech of 'killdeer'."

So sayingHawkeye laid aside his rifle; andcrawling
through the bushes until within hearing of Davidhe
attempted to repeat the musical effortwhich had conducted
himselfwith so much safety and eclatthrough the Huron
encampment. The exquisite organs of Gamut could not readily


be deceived (andto say the truthit would have been
difficult for any other than Hawkeye to produce a similar
noise)andconsequentlyhaving once before heard the
soundshe now knew whence they proceeded. The poor fellow
appeared relieved from a state of great embarrassment; for
pursuing the direction of the voice -- a task that to him
was not much less arduous that it would have been to have
gone up in the face of a battery -- he soon discovered the
hidden songster.

I wonder what the Hurons will think of that!said the
scoutlaughingas he took his companion by the armand
urged him toward the rear. "If the knaves lie within
earshotthey will say there are two non-compossers instead
of one! But here we are safe he added, pointing to Uncas
and his associates. Now give us the history of the Mingo
inventions in natural Englishand without any ups and downs
of voice."

David gazed about himat the fierce and wild-looking
chiefsin mute wonder; but assured by the presence of faces
that he knewhe soon rallied his faculties so far as to
make an intelligent reply.

The heathen are abroad in goodly numbers,said David;
and, I fear, with evil intent. There has been much howling
and ungodly revelry, together with such sounds as it is
profanity to utter, in their habitations within the past
hour, so much so, in truth, that I have fled to the
Delawares in search of peace.

Your ears might not have profited much by the exchange, had
you been quicker of foot,returned the scout a little
dryly. "But let that be as it may; where are the Hurons?"

They lie hid in the forest, between this spot and their
village in such force, that prudence would teach you
instantly to return.

Uncas cast a glance along the range of trees which concealed
his own band and mentioned the name of:

Magua?

Is among them. He brought in the maiden that had sojourned
with the Delawares; and, leaving her in the cave, has put
himself, like a raging wolf, at the head of his savages. I
know not what has troubled his spirit so greatly!

He has left her, you say, in the cave!interrupted
Heyward; "'tis well that we know its situation! May not
something be done for her instant relief?"

Uncas looked earnestly at the scoutbefore he asked:

What says Hawkeye?

Give me twenty rifles, and I will turn to the right, along
the stream; and, passing by the huts of the beaver, will
join the Sagamore and the colonel. You shall then hear the
whoop from that quarter; with this wind one may easily send
it a mile. Then, Uncas, do you drive in the front; when
they come within range of our pieces, we will give them a
blow that, I pledge the good name of an old frontiersman,


shall make their line bend like an ashen bow. After which,
we will carry the village, and take the woman from the cave;
when the affair may be finished with the tribe, according to
a white man's battle, by a blow and a victory; or, in the
Indian fashion, with dodge and cover. There may be no great
learning, major, in this plan, but with courage and patience
it can all be done.

I like it very much,cried Duncanwho saw that the
release of Cora was the primary object in the mind of the
scout; "I like it much. Let it be instantly attempted."

After a short conferencethe plan was maturedand rendered
more intelligible to the several parties; the different
signals were appointedand the chiefs separatedeach to
his allotted station.

CHAPTER 32

But plagues shall spread, and funeral fires increase, Till
the great king, without a ransom paid, To her own Chrysa
send the black-eyed maid.--Pope

During the time Uncas was making this disposition of his
forcesthe woods were as stillandwith the exception of
those who had met in councilapparently as much untenanted
as when they came fresh from the hands of their Almighty
Creator. The eye could rangein every directionthrough
the long and shadowed vistas of the trees; but nowhere was
any object to be seen that did not properly belong to the
peaceful and slumbering scenery.

Here and there a bird was heard fluttering among the
branches of the beechesand occasionally a squirrel dropped
a nutdrawing the startled looks of the party for a moment
to the place; but the instant the casual interruption
ceasedthe passing air was heard murmuring above their
headsalong that verdant and undulating surface of forest
which spread itself unbrokenunless by stream or lakeover
such a vast region of country. Across the tract of
wilderness which lay between the Delawares and the village
of their enemiesit seemed as if the foot of man had never
troddenso breathing and deep was the silence in which it
lay. But Hawkeyewhose duty led him foremost in the
adventureknew the character of those with whom he was
about to contend too well to trust the treacherous quiet.

When he saw his little band collectedthe scout threw
killdeerinto the hollow of his armand making a silent
signal that he would be followedhe led them many rods
toward the rearinto the bed of a little brook which they
had crossed in advancing. Here he haltedand after waiting
for the whole of his grave and attentive warriors to close
about himhe spoke in Delawaredemanding:

Do any of my young men know whither this run will lead us?

A Delaware stretched forth a handwith the two fingers
separatedand indicating the manner in which they were
joined at the roothe answered:

Before the sun could go his own length, the little water


will be in the big.Then he addedpointing in the
direction of the place he mentionedthe two make enough
for the beavers.

I thought as much,returned the scoutglancing his eye
upward at the opening in the tree-topsfrom the course it
takes, and the bearings of the mountains. Men, we will keep
within the cover of its banks till we scent the Hurons.

His companions gave the usual brief exclamation of assent
butperceiving that their leader was about to lead the way
in personone or two made signs that all was not as it
should be. Hawkeyewho comprehended their meaning glances
turned and perceived that his party had been followed thus
far by the singing-master.

Do you know, friend,asked the scoutgravelyand perhaps
with a little of the pride of conscious deserving in his
mannerthat this is a band of rangers chosen for the most
desperate service, and put under the command of one who,
though another might say it with a better face, will not be
apt to leave them idle. It may not be five, it cannot be
thirty minutes, before we tread on the body of a Huron,
living or dead.

Though not admonished of your intentions in words,
returned Davidwhose face was a little flushedand whose
ordinarily quiet and unmeaning eyes glimmered with an
expression of unusual fireyour men have reminded me of
the children of Jacob going out to battle against the
Shechemites, for wickedly aspiring to wedlock with a woman
of a race that was favored of the Lord. Now, I have
journeyed far, and sojourned much in good and evil with the
maiden ye seek; and, though not a man of war, with my loins
girded and my sword sharpened, yet would I gladly strike a
blow in her behalf.

The scout hesitatedas if weighing the chances of such a
strange enlistment in his mind before he answered:

You know not the use of any we'pon. You carry no rifle;
and believe me, what the Mingoes take they will freely give
again.

Though not a vaunting and bloodily disposed Goliath,
returned Daviddrawing a sling from beneath his particolored
and uncouth attireI have not forgotten the
example of the Jewish boy. With this ancient instrument of
war have I practised much in my youth, and peradventure the
skill has not entirely departed from me.

Ay!said Hawkeyeconsidering the deer-skin thong and
apronwith a cold and discouraging eye; "the thing might do
its work among arrowsor even knives; but these Mengwe have
been furnished by the Frenchers with a good grooved barrel a
man. Howeverit seems to be your gift to go unharmed amid
fire; and as you have hitherto been favored -- majoryou
have left your rifle at a cock; a single shot before the
time would be just twenty scalps lost to no purpose -singer
you can follow; we may find use for you in the
shoutings."

I thank you, friend,returned Davidsupplying himself
like his royal namesakefrom among the pebbles of the


brook; "though not given to the desire to killhad you sent
me away my spirit would have been troubled."

Remember,added the scouttapping his own head
significantly on that spot where Gamut was yet sorewe
come to fight, and not to musickate. Until the general
whoop is given, nothing speaks but the rifle.

David noddedas much to signify his acquiescence with the
terms; and then Hawkeyecasting another observant glance
over this followers made the signal to proceed.

Their route layfor the distance of a milealong the bed
of the water-course. Though protected from any great danger
of observation by the precipitous banksand the thick
shrubbery which skirted the streamno precaution known to
an Indian attack was neglected. A warrior rather crawled
than walked on each flank so as to catch occasional glimpses
into the forest; and every few minutes the band came to a
haltand listened for hostile soundswith an acuteness of
organs that would be scarcely conceivable to a man in a less
natural state. Their march washoweverunmolestedand
they reached the point where the lesser stream was lost in
the greaterwithout the smallest evidence that their
progress had been noted. Here the scout again haltedto
consult the signs of the forest.

We are likely to have a good day for a fight,he saidin
Englishaddressing Heywardand glancing his eyes upward at
the cloudswhich began to move in broad sheets across the
firmament; "a bright sun and a glittering barrel are no
friends to true sight. Everything is favorable; they have
the windwhich will bring down their noises and their
smoketoono little matter in itself; whereaswith us it
will be first a shotand then a clear view. But here is an
end to our cover; the beavers have had the range of this
stream for hundreds of yearsand what atween their food and
their damsthere isas you seemany a girdled stubbut
few living trees."

Hawkeye hadin truthin these few wordsgiven no bad
description of the prospect that now lay in their front.
The brook was irregular in its widthsometimes shooting
through narrow fissures in the rocksand at others
spreading over acres of bottom landforming little areas
that might be termed ponds. Everywhere along its bands were
the moldering relics of dead treesin all the stages of
decayfrom those that groaned on their tottering trunks to
such as had recently been robbed of those rugged coats that
so mysteriously contain their principle of life. A few
longlowand moss-covered piles were scattered among them
like the memorials of a former and long-departed generation.

All these minute particulars were noted by the scoutwith a
gravity and interest that they probably had never before
attracted. He knew that the Huron encampment lay a short
half mile up the brook; andwith the characteristic anxiety
of one who dreaded a hidden dangerhe was greatly troubled
at not finding the smallest trace of the presence of his
enemy. Once or twice he felt induced to give the order for
a rushand to attempt the village by surprise; but his
experience quickly admonished him of the danger of so
useless an experiment. Then he listened intentlyand with
painful uncertaintyfor the sounds of hostility in the


quarter where Uncas was left; but nothing was audible except
the sighing of the windthat began to sweep over the bosom
of the forest in gusts which threatened a tempest. At
lengthyielding rather to his unusual impatience than
taking counsel from his knowledgehe determined to bring
matters to an issueby unmasking his forceand proceeding
cautiouslybut steadilyup the stream.

The scout had stoodwhile making his observations
sheltered by a brakeand his companions still lay in the
bed of the ravinethrough which the smaller stream
debouched; but on hearing his lowthough intelligible
signal the whole party stole up the banklike so many dark
spectersand silently arranged themselves around him.
Pointing in the direction he wished to proceedHawkeye
advancedthe band breaking off in single filesand
following so accurately in his footstepsas to leave itif
we except Heyward and Davidthe trail of but a single man.

The party washoweverscarcely uncovered before a volley
from a dozen rifles was heard in their rear; and a Delaware
leaping high in to the airlike a wounded deerfell at his
whole lengthdead.

Ah, I feared some deviltry like this!exclaimed the scout
in Englishaddingwith the quickness of thoughtin his
adopted tongue: "To covermenand charge!"

The band dispersed at the wordand before Heyward had well
recovered from his surprisehe found himself standing alone
with David. Luckily the Hurons had already fallen backand
he was safe from their fire. But this state of things was
evidently to be of short continuance; for the scout set the
example of pressing on their retreatby discharging his
rifleand darting from tree to tree as his enemy slowly
yielded ground.

It would seem that the assault had been made by a very small
party of the Huronswhichhowevercontinued to increase
in numbersas it retired on its friendsuntil the return
fire was very nearlyif not quiteequal to that maintained
by the advancing Delawares. Heyward threw himself among the
combatantsand imitating the necessary caution of his
companionshe made quick discharges with his own rifle.
The contest now grew warm and stationary. Few were injured
as both parties kept their bodies as much protected as
possible by the trees; neverindeedexposing any part of
their persons except in the act of taking aim. But the
chances were gradually growing unfavorable to Hawkeye and
his band. The quick-sighted scout perceived his danger
without knowing how to remedy it. He saw it was more
dangerous to retreat than to maintain his ground: while he
found his enemy throwing out men on his flank; which
rendered the task of keeping themselves covered so very
difficult to the Delawaresas nearly to silence their fire.
At this embarrassing momentwhen they began to think the
whole of the hostile tribe was gradually encircling them
they heard the yell of combatants and the rattling of arms
echoing under the arches of the wood at the place where
Uncas was posteda bottom whichin a mannerlay beneath
the ground on which Hawkeye and his party were contending.

The effects of this attack were instantaneousand to the
scout and his friends greatly relieving. It would seem


thatwhile his own surprise had been anticipatedand had
consequently failedthe enemyin their turnhaving been
deceived in its object and in his numbershad left too
small a force to resist the impetuous onset of the young
Mohican. This fact was doubly apparentby the rapid manner
in which the battle in the forest rolled upward toward the
villageand by an instant falling off in the number of
their assailantswho rushed to assist in maintaining the
frontandas it now proved to bethe principal point of
defense.

Animating his followers by his voiceand his own example
Hawkeye then gave the word to bear down upon their foes.
The chargein that rude species of warfareconsisted
merely in pushing from cover to covernigher to the enemy;
and in this maneuver he was instantly and successfully
obeyed. The Hurons were compelled to withdrawand the
scene of the contest rapidly changed from the more open
groundon which it had commencedto a spot where the
assailed found a thicket to rest upon. Here the struggle
was protractedarduous and seemingly of doubtful issue; the
Delawaresthough none of them fellbeginning to bleed
freelyin consequence of the disadvantage at which they
were held.

In this crisisHawkeye found means to get behind the same
tree as that which served for a cover to Heyward; most of
his own combatants being within calla little on his right
where they maintained rapidthough fruitlessdischarges on
their sheltered enemies.

You are a young man, major,said the scoutdropping the
butt of "killdeer" to the earthand leaning on the barrel
a little fatigued with his previous industry; "and it may be
your gift to lead armiesat some future dayag'in these
impsthe Mingoes. You may here see the philosophy of an
Indian fight. It consists mainly in ready handa quick eye
and a good cover. Nowif you had a company of the Royal
Americans herein what manner would you set them to work in
this business?"

The bayonet would make a road.

Ay, there is white reason in what you say; but a man must
ask himself, in this wilderness, how many lives he can
spare. No -- horse*,continued the scoutshaking his
headlike one who mused; "horseI am ashamed to say must
sooner or later decide these scrimmages. The brutes are
better than menand to horse must we come at last. Put a
shodden hoof on the moccasin of a red-skinandif his
rifle be once emptiedhe will never stop to load it again."

* The American forest admits of the passage of horses
there being little underbrushand few tangled brakes. The
plan of Hawkeye is the one which has always proved the most
successful in the battles between the whites and the
Indians. Waynein his celebrated campaign on the Miami
received the fire of his enemies in line; and then causing
his dragoons to wheel round his flanksthe Indians were
driven from their covers before they had time to load. One
of the most conspicuous of the chiefs who fought in the
battle of Miami assured the writerthat the red men could
not fight the warriors with "long knives and leather
stockings"; meaning the dragoons with their sabers and

boots.

This is a subject that might better be discussed at another
time,returned Heyward; "shall we charge?"

I see no contradiction to the gifts of any man in passing
his breathing spells in useful reflections,the scout
replied. "As to rushI little relish such a measure; for a
scalp or two must be thrown away in the attempt. And yet
he added, bending his head aside, to catch the sounds of the
distant combat, if we are to be of use to Uncasthese
knaves in our front must be got rid of."

Thenturning with a prompt and decided airhe called aloud
to his Indiansin their own language. His words were
answered by a shout; andat a given signaleach warrior
made a swift movement around his particular tree. The sight
of so many dark bodiesglancing before their eyes at the
same instantdrew a hasty and consequently an ineffectual
fire from the Hurons. Without stopping to breathethe
Delawares leaped in long bounds toward the woodlike so
many panthers springing upon their prey. Hawkeye was in
frontbrandishing his terrible rifle and animating his
followers by his example. A few of the older and more
cunning Huronswho had not been deceived by the artifice
which had been practiced to draw their firenow made a
close and deadly discharge of their pieces and justified the
apprehensions of the scout by felling three of his foremost
warriors. But the shock was insufficient to repel the
impetus of the charge. The Delawares broke into the cover
with the ferocity of their natures and swept away every
trace of resistance by the fury of the onset.

The combat endured only for an instanthand to handand
then the assailed yielded ground rapidlyuntil they reached
the opposite margin of the thicketwhere they clung to the
coverwith the sort of obstinacy that is so often witnessed
in hunted brutes. At this critical momentwhen the success
of the struggle was again becoming doubtfulthe crack of a
rifle was heard behind the Huronsand a bullet came
whizzing from among some beaver lodgeswhich were situated
in the clearingin their rearand was followed by the
fierce and appalling yell of the war-whoop.

There speaks the Sagamore!shouted Hawkeyeanswering the
cry with his own stentorian voice; "we have them now in face
and back!"

The effect on the Hurons was instantaneous. Discouraged by
an assault from a quarter that left them no opportunity for
coverthe warriors uttered a common yell of disappointment
and breaking off in a bodythey spread themselves across
the openingheedless of every consideration but flight.
Many fellin making the experimentunder the bullets and
the blows of the pursuing Delawares.

We shall not pause to detail the meeting between the scout
and Chingachgookor the more touching interview that Duncan
held with Munro. A few brief and hurried words served to
explain the state of things to both parties; and then
Hawkeyepointing out the Sagamore to his bandresigned the
chief authority into the hands of the Mohican chief.
Chingachgook assumed the station to which his birth and
experience gave him so distinguished a claimwith the grave


dignity that always gives force to the mandates of a native
warrior. Following the footsteps of the scouthe led the
party back through the thickethis men scalping the fallen
Hurons and secreting the bodies of their own dead as they
proceededuntil they gained a point where the former was
content to make a halt.

The warriorswho had breathed themselves freely in the
preceding strugglewere now posted on a bit of level
groundsprinkled with trees in sufficient numbers to
conceal them. The land fell away rather precipitately in
frontand beneath their eyes stretchedfor several miles
a narrowdarkand wooded vale. It was through this dense
and dark forest that Uncas was still contending with the
main body of the Hurons.

The Mohican and his friends advanced to the brow of the
hilland listenedwith practised earsto the sounds of
the combat. A few birds hovered over the leafy bosom of the
valleyfrightened from their secluded nests; and here and
there a light vapory cloudwhich seemed already blending
with the atmospherearose above the treesand indicated
some spot where the struggle had been fierce and stationary.

The fight is coming up the ascent,said Duncanpointing
in the direction of a new explosion of firearms; "we are too
much in the center of their line to be effective."

They will incline into the hollow, where the cover is
thicker,said the scoutand that will leave us well on
their flank. Go, Sagamore; you will hardly be in time to
give the whoop, and lead on the young men. I will fight
this scrimmage with warriors of my own color. You know me,
Mohican; not a Huron of them all shall cross the swell, into
your rear, without the notice of 'killdeer'.

The Indian chief paused another moment to consider the signs
of the contestwhich was now rolling rapidly up the ascent
a certain evidence that the Delawares triumphed; nor did he
actually quit the place until admonished of the proximity of
his friendsas well as enemiesby the bullets of the
formerwhich began to patter among the dried leaves on the
groundlike the bits of falling hail which precede the
bursting of the tempest. Hawkeye and his three companions
withdrew a few paces to a shelterand awaited the issue
with calmness that nothing but great practise could impart
in such a scene.

It was not long before the reports of the rifles began to
lose the echoes of the woodsand to sound like weapons
discharged in the open air. Then a warrior appearedhere
and theredriven to the skirts of the forestand rallying
as he entered the clearingas at the place where the final
stand was to be made. These were soon joined by others
until a long line of swarthy figures was to be seen clinging
to the cover with the obstinacy of desperation. Heyward
began to grow impatientand turned his eyes anxiously in
the direction of Chingachgook. The chief was seated on a
rockwith nothing visible but his calm visageconsidering
the spectacle with an eye as deliberate as if he were posted
there merely to view the struggle.

The time has come for the Delaware to strike!said Duncan.


Not so, not so,returned the scout; "when he scents his
friendshe will let them know that he is here. Seesee;
the knaves are getting in that clump of pineslike bees
settling after their flight. By the Lorda squaw might put
a bullet into the center of such a knot of dark skins!"

At that instant the whoop was givenand a dozen Hurons fell
by a discharge from Chingachgook and his band. The shout
that followed was answered by a single war-cry from the
forestand a yell passed through the air that sounded as if
a thousand throats were united in a common effort. The
Hurons staggereddeserting the center of their lineand
Uncas issued from the forest through the opening they left
at the head of a hundred warriors.

Waving his hands right and leftthe young chief pointed out
the enemy to his followerswho separated in pursuit. The
war now dividedboth wings of the broken Hurons seeking
protection in the woods againhotly pressed by the
victorious warriors of the Lenape. A minute might have
passedbut the sounds were already receding in different
directionsand gradually losing their distinctness beneath
the echoing arches of the woods. One little knot of Hurons
howeverhad disdained to seek a coverand were retiring
like lions at bayslowly and sullenly up the acclivity
which Chingachgook and his band had just desertedto mingle
more closely in the fray. Magua was conspicuous in this
partyboth by his fierce and savage mienand by the air of
haughty authority he yet maintained.

In his eagerness to expedite the pursuitUncas had left
himself nearly alone; but the moment his eye caught the
figure of Le Subtilevery other consideration was
forgotten. Raising his cry of battlewhich recalled some
six or seven warriorsand reckless of the disparity of
their numbershe rushed upon his enemy. Le Renardwho
watched the movementpaused to receive him with secret joy.
But at the moment when he thought the rashness of his
impetuous young assailant had left him at his mercyanother
shout was givenand La Longue Carabine was seen rushing to
the rescueattended by all his white associates. The Huron
instantly turnedand commenced a rapid retreat up the
ascent.

There was no time for greetings or congratulations; for
Uncasthough unconscious of the presence of his friends
continued the pursuit with the velocity of the wind. In
vain Hawkeye called to him to respect the covers; the young
Mohican braved the dangerous fire of his enemiesand soon
compelled them to a flight as swift as his own headlong
speed. It was fortunate that the race was of short
continuanceand that the white men were much favored by
their positionor the Delaware would soon have outstripped
all his companionsand fallen a victim to his own temerity.
Butere such a calamity could happenthe pursuers and
pursued entered the Wyandot villagewithin striking
distance of each other.

Excited by the presence of their dwellingsand tired of the
chasethe Hurons now made a standand fought around their
council-lodge with the fury of despair. The onset and the
issue were like the passage and destruction of a whirlwind.
The tomahawk of Uncasthe blows of Hawkeyeand even the
still nervous arm of Munro were all busy for that passing


momentand the ground was quickly strewed with their
enemies. Still Maguathough daring and much exposed
escaped from every effort against his lifewith that sort
of fabled protection that was made to overlook the fortunes
of favored heroes in the legends of ancient poetry. Raising
a yell that spoke volumes of anger and disappointmentthe
subtle chiefwhen he saw his comrades fallendarted away
from the placeattended by his two only surviving friends
leaving the Delawares engaged in stripping the dead of the
bloody trophies of their victory.

But Uncaswho had vainly sought him in the meleebounded
forward in pursuit; HawkeyeHeyward and David still
pressing on his footsteps. The utmost that the scout could
effectwas to keep the muzzle of his rifle a little in
advance of his friendto whomhoweverit answered every
purpose of a charmed shield. Once Magua appeared disposed
to make another and a final effort to revenge his losses;
butabandoning his intention as soon as demonstratedhe
leaped into a thicket of bushesthrough which he was
followed by his enemiesand suddenly entered the mouth of
the cave already known to the reader. Hawkeyewho had only
forborne to fire in tenderness to Uncasraised a shout of
successand proclaimed aloud that now they were certain of
their game. The pursuers dashed into the long and narrow
entrancein time to catch a glimpse of the retreating forms
of the Hurons. Their passage through the natural galleries
and subterraneous apartments of the cavern was preceded by
the shrieks and cries of hundreds of women and children.
The placeseen by its dim and uncertain lightappeared
like the shades of the infernal regionsacross which
unhappy ghosts and savage demons were flitting in
multitudes.

Still Uncas kept his eye on Maguaas if life to him
possessed but a single object. Heyward and the scout still
pressed on his rearactuatedthough possibly in a less
degreeby a common feeling. But their way was becoming
intricatein those dark and gloomy passagesand the
glimpses of the retiring warriors less distinct and
frequent; and for a moment the trace was believed to be
lostwhen a white robe was seen fluttering in the further
extremity of a passage that seemed to lead up the mountain.

'Tis Cora!exclaimed Heywardin a voice in which horror
and delight were wildly mingled.

Cora! Cora!echoed Uncasbounding forward like a deer.

'Tis the maiden!shouted the scout. "Couragelady; we
come! we come!"

The chase was renewed with a diligence rendered tenfold
encouraging by this glimpse of the captive. But the way was
ruggedbrokenand in spots nearly impassable. Uncas
abandoned his rifleand leaped forward with headlong
precipitation. Heyward rashly imitated his examplethough
both werea moment afterwardadmonished of his madness by
hearing the bellowing of a piecethat the Hurons found time
to discharge down the passage in the rocksthe bullet from
which even gave the young Mohican a slight wound.

We must close!said the scoutpassing his friends by a
desperate leap; "the knaves will pick us all off at this


distance; and seethey hold the maiden so as to shield
themselves!"

Though his words were unheededor rather unheardhis
example was followed by his companionswhoby incredible
exertionsgot near enough to the fugitives to perceive that
Cora was borne along between the two warriors while Magua
prescribed the direction and manner of their flight. At
this moment the forms of all four were strongly drawn
against an opening in the skyand they disappeared. Nearly
frantic with disappointmentUncas and Heyward increased
efforts that already seemed superhumanand they issued from
the cavern on the side of the mountainin time to note the
route of the pursued. The course lay up the ascentand
still continued hazardous and laborious.

Encumbered by his rifleandperhapsnot sustained by so
deep an interest in the captive as his companionsthe scout
suffered the latter to precede him a littleUncasin his
turntaking the lead of Heyward. In this mannerrocks
precipices and difficulties were surmounted in an incredibly
short spacethat at another timeand under other
circumstanceswould have been deemed almost insuperable.
But the impetuous young men were rewarded by finding that
encumbered with Corathe Hurons were losing ground in the
race.

Stay, dog of the Wyandots!exclaimed Uncasshaking his
bright tomahawk at Magua; "a Delaware girl calls stay!"

I will go no further!cried Corastopping unexpectedly on
a ledge of rockthat overhung a deep precipiceat no great
distance from the summit of the mountain. "Kill me if thou
wiltdetestable Huron; I will go no further."

The supporters of the maiden raised their ready tomahawks
with the impious joy that fiends are thought to take in
mischiefbut Magua stayed the uplifted arms. The Huron
chiefafter casting the weapons he had wrested from his
companions over the rockdrew his knifeand turned to his
captivewith a look in which conflicting passions fiercely
contended.

Woman,he saidchose; the wigwam or the knife of Le
Subtil!

Cora regarded him notbut dropping on her kneesshe raised
her eyes and stretched her arms toward heavensaying in a
meek and yet confiding voice:

I am thine; do with me as thou seest best!

Woman,repeated Maguahoarselyand endeavoring in vain
to catch a glance from her serene and beaming eyechoose!

But Cora neither heard nor heeded his demand. The form of
the Huron trembled in every fibreand he raised his arm on
highbut dropped it again with a bewildered airlike one
who doubted. Once more he struggled with himself and lifted
the keen weapon again; but just then a piercing cry was
heard above themand Uncas appearedleaping frantically
from a fearful heightupon the ledge. Magua recoiled a
step; and one of his assistantsprofiting by the chance
sheathed his own knife in the bosom of Cora.


The Huron sprang like a tiger on his offending and already
retreating country manbut the falling form of Uncas
separated the unnatural combatants. Diverted from his
object by this interruptionand maddened by the murder he
had just witnessedMagua buried his weapon in the back of
the prostrate Delawareuttering an unearthly shout as he
committed the dastardly deed. But Uncas arose from the
blowas the wounded panther turns upon his foeand struck
the murderer of Cora to his feetby an effort in which the
last of his failing strength was expended. Thenwith a
stern and steady lookhe turned to Le Subtiland indicated
by the expression of his eye all that he would do had not
the power deserted him. The latter seized the nerveless arm
of the unresisting Delawareand passed his knife into his
bosom three several timesbefore his victimstill keeping
his gaze riveted on his enemywith a look of
inextinguishable scornfell dead at his feet.

Mercy! mercy! Huron,cried Heywardfrom abovein tones
nearly choked by horror; "give mercyand thou shalt receive
from it!"

Whirling the bloody knife up at the imploring youththe
victorious Magua uttered a cry so fierceso wildand yet
so joyousthat it conveyed the sounds of savage triumph to
the ears of those who fought in the valleya thousand feet
below. He was answered by a burst from the lips of the
scoutwhose tall person was just then seen moving swiftly
toward himalong those dangerous cragswith steps as bold
and reckless as if he possessed the power to move in air.
But when the hunter reached the scene of the ruthless
massacrethe ledge was tenanted only by the dead.

His keen eye took a single look at the victimsand then
shot its glances over the difficulties of the ascent in his
front. A form stood at the brow of the mountainon the
very edge of the giddy heightwith uplifted armsin an
awful attitude of menace. Without stopping to consider his
personthe rifle of Hawkeye was raised; but a rockwhich
fell on the head of one of the fugitives belowexposed the
indignant and glowing countenance of the honest Gamut. Then
Magua issued from a creviceandstepping with calm
indifference over the body of the last of his associateshe
leaped a wide fissureand ascended the rocks at a point
where the arm of David could not reach him. A single bound
would carry him to the brow of the precipiceand assure his
safety. Before taking the leaphoweverthe Huron paused
and shaking his hand at the scouthe shouted:

The pale faces are dogs! the Delawares women! Magua leaves
them on the rocks, for the crows!

Laughing hoarselyhe made a desperate leapand fell short
of his markthough his hands grasped a shrub on the verge
of the height. The form of Hawkeye had crouched like a
beast about to take its springand his frame trembled so
violently with eagerness that the muzzle of the half-raised
rifle played like a leaf fluttering in the wind. Without
exhausting himself with fruitless effortsthe cunning Magua
suffered his body to drop to the length of his armsand
found a fragment for his feet to rest on. Thensummoning
all his powershe renewed the attemptand so far succeeded
as to draw his knees on the edge of the mountain. It was


nowwhen the body of his enemy was most collected together
that the agitated weapon of the scout was drawn to his
shoulder. The surrounding rocks themselves were not
steadier than the piece becamefor the single instant that
it poured out its contents. The arms of the Huron relaxed
and his body fell back a littlewhile his knees still kept
their position. Turning a relentless look on his enemyhe
shook a hand in grim defiance. But his hold loosenedand
his dark person was seen cutting the air with its head
downwardfor a fleeting instantuntil it glided past the
fringe of shrubbery which clung to the mountainin its
rapid flight to destruction.

CHAPTER 33

They fought, like brave men, long and well, They piled that
ground with Moslem slain, They conquered--but Bozzaris
fell, Bleeding at every vein. His few surviving comrades
saw His smile when rang their loud hurrah, And the red field
was won; Then saw in death his eyelids close Calmly, as to a
night's repose, Like flowers at set of sun.--Halleck

The sun found the Lenapeon the succeeding daya nation of
mourners. The sounds of the battle were overand they had
fed fat their ancient grudgeand had avenged their recent
quarrel with the Mengweby the destruction of a whole
community. The black and murky atmosphere that floated
around the spot where the Hurons had encampedsufficiently
announced of itselfthe fate of that wandering tribe; while
hundreds of ravensthat struggled above the summits of the
mountainsor sweptin noisy flocksacross the wide ranges
of the woodsfurnished a frightful direction to the scene
of the combat. In shortany eye at all practised in the
signs of a frontier warfare might easily have traced all
those unerring evidences of the ruthless results which
attend an Indian vengeance.

Stillthe sun rose on the Lenape a nation of mourners. No
shouts of successno songs of triumphwere heardin
rejoicings for their victory. The latest straggler had
returned from his fell employmentonly to strip himself of
the terrific emblems of his bloody callingand to join in
the lamentations of his countrymenas a stricken people.
Pride and exultation were supplanted by humilityand the
fiercest of human passions was already succeeded by the most
profound and unequivocal demonstrations of grief.

The lodges were deserted; but a broad belt of earnest faces
encircled a spot in their vicinitywhither everything
possessing life had repairedand where all were now
collectedin deep and awful silence. Though beings of
every rank and ageof both sexesand of all pursuitshad
united to form this breathing wall of bodiesthey were
influenced by a single emotion. Each eye was riveted on the
center of that ringwhich contained the objects of so much
and of so common an interest.

Six Delaware girlswith their longdarkflowing tresses
falling loosely across their bosomsstood apartand only
gave proof of their existence as they occasionally strewed
sweet-scented herbs and forest flowers on a litter of
fragrant plants thatunder a pall of Indian robes


supported all that now remained of the ardenthigh-souled
and generous Cora. Her form was concealed in many wrappers
of the same simple manufactureand her face was shut
forever from the gaze of men. At her feet was seated the
desolate Munro. His aged head was bowed nearly to the
earthin compelled submission to the stroke of Providence;
but a hidden anguish struggled about his furrowed browthat
was only partially concealed by the careless locks of gray
that had fallenneglectedon his temples. Gamut stood at
his sidehis meek head bared to the rays of the sunwhile
his eyeswandering and concernedseemed to be equally
divided between that little volumewhich contained so many
quaint but holy maximsand the being in whose behalf his
soul yearned to administer consolation. Heyward was also
nighsupporting himself against a treeand endeavoring to
keep down those sudden risings of sorrow that it required
his utmost manhood to subdue.

But sad and melancholy as this group may easily be imagined
it was far less touching than anotherthat occupied the
opposite space of the same area. Seatedas in lifewith
his form and limbs arranged in grave and decent composure
Uncas appearedarrayed in the most gorgeous ornaments that
the wealth of the tribe could furnish. Rich plumes nodded
above his head; wampumgorgetsbraceletsand medals
adorned his person in profusion; though his dull eye and
vacant lineaments too strongly contradicted the idle tale of
pride they would convey.

Directly in front of the corpse Chingachgook was placed
without armspaint or adornment of any sortexcept the
bright blue blazonry of his racethat was indelibly
impressed on his naked bosom. During the long period that
the tribe had thus been collectedthe Mohican warrior had
kept a steadyanxious look on the cold and senseless
countenance of his son. So riveted and intense had been
that gazeand so changeless his attitudethat a stranger
might not have told the living from the deadbut for the
occasional gleamings of a troubled spiritthat shot athwart
the dark visage of oneand the deathlike calm that had
forever settled on the lineaments of the other. The scout
was hard byleaning in a pensive posture on his own fatal
and avenging weapon; while Tamenundsupported by the elders
of his nationoccupied a high place at handwhence he
might look down on the mute and sorrowful assemblage of his
people.

Just within the inner edge of the circle stood a soldierin
the military attire of a strange nation; and without it was
his warhorsein the center of a collection of mounted
domesticsseemingly in readiness to undertake some distant
journey. The vestments of the stranger announced him to be
one who held a responsible situation near the person of the
captain of the Canadas; and whoas it would now seem
finding his errand of peace frustrated by the fierce
impetuosity of his allieswas content to become a silent
and sad spectator of the fruits of a contest that he had
arrived too late to anticipate.

The day was drawing to the close of its first quarterand
yet had the multitude maintained its breathing stillness
since its dawn.

No sound louder than a stifled sob had been heard among


themnor had even a limb been moved throughout that long
and painful periodexcept to perform the simple and
touching offerings that were madefrom time to timein
commemoration of the dead. The patience and forbearance of
Indian fortitude could alone support such an appearance of
abstractionas seemed now to have turned each dark and
motionless figure into stone.

At lengththe sage of the Delawares stretched forth an arm
and leaning on the shoulders of his attendantshe arose
with an air as feeble as if another age had already
intervened between the man who had met his nation the
preceding dayand him who now tottered on his elevated
stand.

Men of the Lenape!he saidin lowhollow tonesthat
sounded like a voice charged with some prophetic mission:
the face of the Manitou is behind a cloud! His eye is
turned from you; His ears are shut; His tongue gives no
answer. You see him not; yet His judgments are before you.
Let your hearts be open and your spirits tell no lie. Men
of the Lenape! the face of the Manitou is behind a cloud.

As this simple and yet terrible annunciation stole on the
ears of the multitudea stillness as deep and awful
succeeded as if the venerated spirit they worshiped had
uttered the words without the aid of human organs; and even
the inanimate Uncas appeared a being of lifecompared with
the humbled and submissive throng by whom he was surrounded.
As the immediate effecthowevergradually passed awaya
low murmur of voices commenced a sort of chant in honor of
the dead. The sounds were those of femalesand were
thrillingly soft and wailing. The words were connected by
no regular continuationbut as one ceased another took up
the eulogyor lamentationwhichever it might be called
and gave vent to her emotions in such language as was
suggested by her feelings and the occasion. At intervals
the speaker was interrupted by general and loud bursts of
sorrowduring which the girls around the bier of Cora
plucked the plants and flowers blindly from her bodyas if
bewildered with grief. Butin the milder moments of their
plaintthese emblems of purity and sweetness were cast back
to their placeswith every sign of tenderness and regret.
Though rendered less connected by many and general
interruptions and outbreakingsa translation of their
language would have contained a regular descantwhichin
substancemight have proved to possess a train of
consecutive ideas.

A girlselected for the task by her rank and
qualificationscommenced by modest allusions to the
qualities of the deceased warriorembellishing her
expressions with those oriental images that the Indians have
probably brought with them from the extremes of the other
continentand which form of themselves a link to connect
the ancient histories of the two worlds. She called him the
panther of his tribe; and described him as one whose
moccasin left no trail on the dews; whose bound was like the
leap of a young fawn; whose eye was brighter than a star in
the dark night; and whose voicein battlewas loud as the
thunder of the Manitou. She reminded him of the mother who
bore himand dwelt forcibly on the happiness she must feel
in possessing such a son. She bade him tell herwhen they
met in the world of spiritsthat the Delaware girls had


shed tears above the grave of her childand had called her
blessed.

Thenthey who succeededchanging their tones to a milder
and still more tender strainalludedwith the delicacy and
sensitiveness of womento the stranger maidenwho had left
the upper earth at a time so near his own departureas to
render the will of the Great Spirit too manifest to be
disregarded. They admonished him to be kind to herand to
have consideration for her ignorance of those arts which
were so necessary to the comfort of a warrior like himself.
They dwelled upon her matchless beautyand on her noble
resolutionwithout the taint of envyand as angels may be
thought to delight in a superior excellence; addingthat
these endowments should prove more than equivalent for any
little imperfection in her education.

After whichothers againin due successionspoke to the
maiden herselfin the lowsoft language of tenderness and
love. They exhorted her to be of cheerful mindand to fear
nothing for her future welfare. A hunter would be her
companionwho knew how to provide for her smallest wants;
and a warrior was at her side who was able to protect he
against every danger. They promised that her path should be
pleasantand her burden light. They cautioned her against
unavailing regrets for the friends of her youthand the
scenes where her father had dwelt; assuring her that the
blessed hunting grounds of the Lenape,contained vales as
pleasantstreams as pure; and flowers as sweetas the
heaven of the pale faces.They advised her to be
attentive to the wants of her companionand never to forget
the distinction which the Manitou had so wisely established
between them. Thenin a wild burst of their chant they
sang with united voices the temper of the Mohican's mind.
They pronounced him noblemanly and generous; all that
became a warriorand all that a maid might love. Clothing
their ideas in the most remote and subtle imagesthey
betrayedthatin the short period of their intercourse
they had discoveredwith the intuitive perception of their
sexthe truant disposition of his inclinations. The
Delaware girls had found no favor in his eyes! He was of a
race that had once been lords on the shores of the salt
lakeand his wishes had led him back to a people who dwelt
about the graves of his fathers. Why should not such a
predilection be encouraged! That she was of a blood purer
and richer than the rest of her nationany eye might have
seen; that she was equal to the dangers and daring of a life
in the woodsher conduct had proved; and nowthey added
the "wise one of the earth" had transplanted her to a place
where she would find congenial spiritsand might be forever
happy.

Thenwith another transition in voice and subject
allusions were made to the virgin who wept in the adjacent
lodge. They compared her to flakes of snow; as pureas
whiteas brilliantand as liable to melt in the fierce
heats of summeror congeal in the frosts of winter. They
doubted not that she was lovely in the eyes of the young
chiefwhose skin and whose sorrow seemed so like her own;
but though far from expressing such a preferenceit was
evident they deemed her less excellent than the maid they
mourned. Still they denied her no need her rare charms
might properly claim. Her ringlets were compared to the
exuberant tendrils of the vineher eye to the blue vault of


heavensand the most spotless cloudwith its glowing flush
of the sunwas admitted to be less attractive than her
bloom.

During these and similar songs nothing was audible but the
murmurs of the music; relievedas it wasor rather
rendered terribleby those occasional bursts of grief which
might be called its choruses. The Delawares themselves
listened like charmed men; and it was very apparentby the
variations of their speaking countenanceshow deep and true
was their sympathy. Even David was not reluctant to lend
his ears to the tones of voices so sweet; and long ere the
chant was endedhis gaze announced that his soul was
enthralled.

The scoutto whom aloneof all the white menthe words
were intelligiblesuffered himself to be a little aroused
from his meditative postureand bent his face asideto
catch their meaningas the girls proceeded. But when they
spoke of the future prospects of Cora and Uncashe shook
his headlike one who knew the error of their simple creed
and resuming his reclining attitudehe maintained it until
the ceremonyif that might be called a ceremonyin which
feeling was so deeply imbuedwas finished. Happily for the
self-command of both Heyward and Munrothey knew not the
meaning of the wild sounds they heard.

Chingachgook was a solitary exception to the interest
manifested by the native part of the audience. His look
never changed throughout the whole of the scenenor did a
muscle move in his rigid countenanceeven at the wildest or
the most pathetic parts of the lamentation. The cold and
senseless remains of his son was all to himand every other
sense but that of sight seemed frozenin order that his
eyes might take their final gaze at those lineaments he had
so long lovedand which were now about to be closed forever
from his view.

In this stage of the obsequiesa warrior much renowned for
deed in armsand more especially for services in the recent
combata man of stern and grave demeanoradvanced slowly
from the crowdand placed himself nigh the person of the
dead.

Why hast thou left us, pride of the Wapanachki?he said
addressing himself to the dull ears of Uncasas if the
empty clay retained the faculties of the animated man; "thy
time has been like that of the sun when in the trees; thy
glory brighter than his light at noonday. Thou art gone
youthful warriorbut a hundred Wyandots are clearing the
briers from thy path to the world of the spirits. Who that
saw thee in battle would believe that thou couldst die? Who
before thee has ever shown Uttawa the way into the fight?
Thy feet were like the wings of eagles; thine arm heavier
than falling branches from the pine; and thy voice like the
Manitou when He speaks in the clouds. The tongue of Uttawa
is weak he added, looking about him with a melancholy
gaze, and his heart exceeding heavy. Pride of the
Wapanachkiwhy hast thou left us?"

He was succeeded by othersin due orderuntil most of the
high and gifted men of the nation had sung or spoken their
tribute of praise over the manes of the deceased chief.
When each had endedanother deep and breathing silence


reigned in all the place.

Then a lowdeep sound was heardlike the suppressed
accompaniment of distant musicrising just high enough on
the air to be audibleand yet so indistinctlyas to leave
its characterand the place whence it proceededalike
matters of conjecture. It washoweversucceeded by
another and another straineach in a higher keyuntil they
grew on the earfirst in long drawn and often repeated
interjectionsand finally in words. The lips of
Chingachgook had so far partedas to announce that it was
the monody of the father. Though not an eye was turned
toward him nor the smallest sign of impatience exhibitedit
was apparentby the manner in which the multitude elevated
their heads to listenthat they drank in the sounds with an
intenseness of attentionthat none but Tamenund himself had
ever before commanded. But they listened in vain. The
strains rose just so loud as to become intelligibleand
then grew fainter and more tremblinguntil they finally
sank on the earas if borne away by a passing breath of
wind. The lips of the Sagamore closedand he remained
silent in his seatlooking with his riveted eye and
motionless formlike some creature that had been turned
from the Almighty hand with the form but without the spirit
of a man. The Delawares who knew by these symptoms that the
mind of their friend was not prepared for so mighty an
effort of fortituderelaxed in their attention; andwith
an innate delicacyseemed to bestow all their thoughts on
the obsequies of the stranger maiden.

A signal was givenby one of the elder chiefsto the women
who crowded that part of the circle near which the body of
Cora lay. Obedient to the signthe girls raised the bier
to the elevation of their headsand advanced with slow and
regulated stepschantingas they proceededanother
wailing song in praise of the deceased. Gamutwho had been
a close observer of rites he deemed so heathenishnow bent
his head over the shoulder of the unconscious father
whispering:

They move with the remains of thy child; shall we not
follow, and see them interred with Christian burial?

Munro startedas if the last trumpet had sounded in his
earand bestowing one anxious and hurried glance around
himhe arose and followed in the simple trainwith the
mien of a soldierbut bearing the full burden of a parent's
suffering. His friends pressed around him with a sorrow
that was too strong to be termed sympathy -- even the young
Frenchman joining in the processionwith the air of a man
who was sensibly touched at the early and melancholy fate of
one so lovely. But when the last and humblest female of the
tribe had joined in the wild and yet ordered arraythe men
of the Lenape contracted their circleand formed again
around the person of Uncasas silentas graveand as
motionless as before.

The place which had been chosen for the grave of Cora was a
little knollwhere a cluster of young and healthful pines
had taken rootforming of themselves a melancholy and
appropriate shade over the spot. On reaching it the girls
deposited their burdenand continued for many minutes
waitingwith characteristic patienceand native timidity
for some evidence that they whose feelings were most


concerned were content with the arrangement. At length the
scoutwho alone understood their habitssaidin their own
language:

My daughters have done well; the white men thank them.

Satisfied with this testimony in their favorthe girls
proceeded to deposit the body in a shellingeniouslyand
not inelegantlyfabricated of the bark of the birch; after
which they lowered it into its dark and final abode. The
ceremony of covering the remainsand concealing the marks
of the fresh earthby leaves and other natural and
customary objectswas conducted with the same simple and
silent forms. But when the labors of the kind beings who
had performed these sad and friendly offices were so far
completedthey hesitatedin a way to show that they knew
not how much further they might proceed. It was in this
stage of the rites that the scout again addressed them:

My young women have done enough,he said: "the spirit of
the pale face has no need of food or raimenttheir gifts
being according to the heaven of their color. I see he
added, glancing an eye at David, who was preparing his book
in a manner that indicated an intention to lead the way in
sacred song, that one who better knows the Christian
fashions is about to speak."

The females stood modestly asideandfrom having been the
principal actors in the scenethey now became the meek and
attentive observers of that which followed. During the time
David occupied in pouring out the pious feelings of his
spirit in this mannernot a sign of surprisenor a look of
impatienceescaped them. They listened like those who knew
the meaning of the strange wordsand appeared as if they
felt the mingled emotions of sorrowhopeand resignation
they were intended to convey.

Excited by the scene he had just witnessedand perhaps
influenced by his own secret emotionsthe master of song
exceeded his usual efforts. His full rich voice was not
found to suffer by a comparison with the soft tones of the
girls; and his more modulated strains possessedat least
for the ears of those to whom they were peculiarly
addressedthe additional power of intelligence. He ended
the anthemas he had commenced itin the midst of a grave
and solemn stillness.

Whenhoweverthe closing cadence had fallen on the ears of
his auditorsthe secrettimorous glances of the eyesand
the general and yet subdued movement of the assemblage
betrayed that something was expected from the father of the
deceased. Munro seemed sensible that the time was come for
him to exert what isperhapsthe greatest effort of which
human nature is capable. He bared his gray locksand
looked around the timid and quiet throng by which he was
encircledwith a firm and collected countenance. Then
motioning with his hand for the scout to listenhe said:

Say to these kind and gentle females, that a heart-broken
and failing man returns them his thanks. Tell them, that
the Being we all worship, under different names, will be
mindful of their charity; and that the time shall not be
distant when we may assemble around His throne without
distinction of sex, or rank, or color.


The scout listened to the tremulous voice in which the
veteran delivered these wordsand shook his head slowly
when they were endedas one who doubted their efficacy.

To tell them this,he saidwould be to tell them that
the snows come not in the winter, or that the sun shines
fiercest when the trees are stripped of their leaves.

Then turning to the womenhe made such a communication of
the other's gratitude as he deemed most suited to the
capacities of his listeners. The head of Munro had already
sunk upon his chestand he was again fast relapsing into
melancholywhen the young Frenchman before named ventured
to touch him lightly on the elbow. As soon as he had gained
the attention of the mourning old manhe pointed toward a
group of young Indianswho approached with a light but
closely covered litterand then pointed upward toward the
sun.

I understand you, sir,returned Munrowith a voice of
forced firmness; "I understand you. It is the will of
Heavenand I submit. Coramy child! if the prayers of a
heart-broken father could avail thee nowhow blessed
shouldst thou be! Comegentlemen he added, looking about
him with an air of lofty composure, though the anguish that
quivered in his faded countenance was far too powerful to be
concealed, our duty here is ended; let us depart."

Heyward gladly obeyed a summons that took them from a spot
whereeach instanthe felt his self-control was about to
desert him. While his companions were mountinghoweverhe
found time to press the hand of the scoutand to repeat the
terms of an engagement they had made to meet again within
the posts of the British army. Thengladly throwing
himself into the saddlehe spurred his charger to the side
of the litterwhence low and stifled sobs alone announced
the presence of Alice. In this mannerthe head of Munro
again drooping on his bosomwith Heyward and David
following in sorrowing silenceand attended by the aide of
Montcalm with his guardall the white menwith the
exception of Hawkeyepassed from before the eyes of the
Delawaresand were buried in the vast forests of that
region.

But the tie whichthrough their common calamityhad united
the feelings of these simple dwellers in the woods with the
strangers who had thus transiently visited themwas not so
easily broken. Years passed away before the traditionary
tale of the white maidenand of the young warrior of the
Mohicans ceased to beguile the long nights and tedious
marchesor to animate their youthful and brave with a
desire for vengeance. Neither were the secondary actors in
these momentous incidents forgotten. Through the medium of
the scoutwho served for years afterward as a link between
them and civilized lifethey learnedin answer to their
inquiriesthat the "Gray Head" was speedily gathered to his
fathers -- borne downas was erroneously believedby his
military misfortunes; and that the "Open Hand" had conveyed
his surviving daughter far into the settlements of the pale
faceswhere her tears had at last ceased to flowand had
been succeeded by the bright smiles which were better suited
to her joyous nature.


But these were events of a time later than that which
concerns our tale. Deserted by all of his colorHawkeye
returned to the spot where his sympathies led himwith a
force that no ideal bond of union could destroy. He was
just in time to catch a parting look of the features of
Uncaswhom the Delawares were already inclosing in his last
vestment of skins. They paused to permit the longing and
lingering gaze of the sturdy woodsmanand when it was
endedthe body was envelopednever to be unclosed again.
Then came a procession like the otherand the whole nation
was collected about the temporary grave of the chief -temporary
because it was proper thatat some future day
his bones should rest among those of his own people.

The movementlike the feelinghad been simultaneous and
general. The same grave expression of griefthe same rigid
silenceand the same deference to the principal mourner
were observed around the place of interment as have been
already described. The body was deposited in an attitude of
reposefacing the rising sunwith the implements of war
and of the chase at handin readiness for the final
journey. An opening was left in the shellby which it was
protected from the soilfor the spirit to communicate with
its earthly tenementwhen necessary; and the whole was
concealed from the instinctand protected from the ravages
of the beasts of preywith an ingenuity peculiar to the
natives. The manual rites then ceased and all present
reverted to the more spiritual part of the ceremonies.

Chingachgook became once more the object of the common
attention. He had not yet spokenand something consolatory
and instructive was expected from so renowned a chief on an
occasion of such interest. Conscious of the wishes of the
peoplethe stern and self-restrained warrior raised his
facewhich had latterly been buried in his robeand looked
about him with a steady eye. His firmly compressed and
expressive lips then severedand for the first time during
the long ceremonies his voice was distinctly audible. "Why
do my brothers mourn?" he saidregarding the dark race of
dejected warriors by whom he was environed; "why do my
daughters weep? that a young man has gone to the happy
hunting-grounds; that a chief has filled his time with
honor? He was good; he was dutiful; he was brave. Who can
deny it? The Manitou had need of such a warriorand He has
called him away. As for methe son and the father of
UncasI am a blazed pinein a clearing of the pale faces.
My race has gone from the shores of the salt lake and the
hills of the Delawares. But who can say that the serpent of
his tribe has forgotten his wisdom? I am alone --"

No, no,cried Hawkeyewho had been gazing with a yearning
look at the rigid features of his friendwith something
like his own self-commandbut whose philosophy could endure
no longer; "noSagamorenot alone. The gifts of our
colors may be differentbut God has so placed us as to
journey in the same path. I have no kinand I may also
saylike youno people. He was your sonand a red-skin
by nature; and it may be that your blood was nearer -- but
if ever I forget the lad who has so often fou't at my side
in warand slept at my side in peacemay He who made us
allwhatever may be our color or our giftsforget me! The
boy has left us for a time; butSagamoreyou are not
alone."


Chingachgook grasped the hand thatin the warmth of
feelingthe scout had stretched across the fresh earthand
in an attitude of friendship these two sturdy and intrepid
woodsmen bowed their heads togetherwhile scalding tears
fell to their feetwatering the grave of Uncas like drops
of falling rain.

In the midst of the awful stillness with which such a burst
of feelingcoming as it didfrom the two most renowned
warriors of that regionwas receivedTamenund lifted his
voice to disperse the multitude.

It is enough,he said. "Gochildren of the Lenapethe
anger of the Manitou is not done. Why should Tamenund stay?
The pale faces are masters of the earthand the time of the
red men has not yet come again. My day has been too long.
In the morning I saw the sons of Unamis happy and strong;
and yetbefore the night has comehave I lived to see the
last warrior of the wise race of the Mohicans."