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COOPER'S LEATHER-STOCKING TALES.
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BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL
GLASGOW, MANCHESTER, AND NEW YORK
THE EDITOR'S PREFACE.
T HERE are, in our lives, no days so bright, so free from clouds, as
are the sunny days of youth; and the recollection of them is
as bright as were the days themselves. This was brought forcibly to
the mind of the Editor by the request of the Publishers that he would
prepare an edition of these stories specially for boys and girls. The
request carried him back fifty years; and it was with unspeakable
delight that he renewed his acquaintance with those friends of his
youth, "The Deerslayer," "The Last of the Mohicans," "The Pathfinder,"
"Leather Stocking," and "The Trapper." How well he remembers being,
again and again, one of a group of school-boys who each took it in turn to
read aloud to his rapt companions the tales of daring exploits and mar-
vellous skill and cunning of the Red Indians of the forests and prairies of
America! And though half a century has passed since then, he can con-
scientiously say that he finds the stories as fresh and as absorbingly
interesting as he did all those years ago. Therefore it is indisputable thai
there must be in them a principle of vitality, and that principle cannot be
other than that of Truth. The stories, of course, are fiction; but the
characters are true to nature-true to our nature-and consequently find
a ready welcome in our hearts. We grasp them, as it were, by the hand;
just as we would old acquaintances of whom we are proud, and are glad
to meet again and introduce to our friends. It is with this feeling that
the Editor issues the present volume.
G. W. M~
WHATEVER may be the changes produced by man, the eternal round of
the seasons is unbroken. Summer and winter, seed-time and harvest, return
in their stated order with a sublime precision, affording to man one of the
noblest of all the occasions he enjoys of proving the high powers of his far-
reaching mind, in compassing the laws that control their exact uniformity,
and in calculating their never-ending revolutions. Centuries of summer
suns had warmed the tops of the same noble oaks and pines, sending their
heats even to the tenacious roots, when voices were heard calling to each
other, in the depths of a forest, of which the leafy surface lay bathed in
the brilliant light of a cloudless day in June, while the trunks of the trees
rose in gloomy grandeur in the shades beneath. The calls were in different
tones, evidently proceeding from two men who had lost their way, and
were searching in different directions for their path. At last a shout
proclaimed success, and presently a man broke out of the tangled labyrinth
of a small swamp, emerging into an opening that appeared to have been
formed partly by the ravages of the wind, and partly by those of fire.
This little area, which afforded a good view of the sky, although it was
pretty well filled with dead trees, lay on the side of one of the high hills,
or low mountains, into which nearly the whole surface of the adjacent
country was broken.
"Here is room to breathe in!" exclaimed the liberated forester, as soon
as he found himself under a clear sky, shaking his huge frame like a
mastiff that has just escaped from a snow-bank. Hurrah, Deerslayer "
said Hurry Harry, "here is daylight at last, and yonder is the lake."
These words were scarcely uttered when the second forester dashed aside
the bushes of the swamp, and appeared in the area.
We will profit by this pause in the discourse to give the reader some
idea of the appearance of the men, both of whom are destined to enact no
insignificant part in our legend. It would not have been easy to find a more
noble specimen of vigorous manhood than was offered in the person of him
who called himself Hurry Harry. His real name was Henry March; but
the frontier men having caught the practice of giving sobriquets from the
Indians, the appellation of Hurry was far oftener applied to him than his
proper designation, and not unfrequently he was termed Hurry Skurry, a
nickname he had obtained from a dashing, reckless, off-hand manner and
a physical restlessness that kept him so constantly on the move as to cause
him to be known along the whole line of scattered habitations that lay
6 THE DEERSLAYER.
between the province and the Canadas. The stature of Hurry Harry ex-
ceeded six feet four, and being unusually well-proportioned, his strength
fully realized the idea created by his gigantic frame. The face did no
discredit to the rest of the man, for it was both good-humoured and
Deerslayer, as Hurry called his companion, was a very different person
in appearance as well as in character. In stature he stood about six
feet in his moccasins, but his frame was comparatively light and slender,
showing muscles, however, that promised unusual agility if not unusual
strength. His face would have had little to recommend it except youth,
were it not for an expression that seldom failed to win upon those who had
leisure to examine it, and to yield to the feeling of confidence it created.
This expression was simply that of guileless truth, sustained by an earnest-
ness of purpose, and a sincerity of feeling that rendered it remarkable.
Both these frontier men were still young, Hurry having reached the age
of six or eight-and-twenty, while Deerslayer was several years his junior.
Their attire needs no particular description, though it may be well to add
that it was composed in no small degree of dressed deer-skins, and had the
usual signs of belonging to those who passed their time between the skirts-
of civilized society and the boundless forests. There was, notwithstanding,
some attention to smartness and the picturesque in the arrangements of
Deerslayer's dress, more particularly in the part connected with his arms
and accoutrements. His rifle was in perfect condition, the handle of his
hunting-knife was neatly carved, his powder-horn was ornamented with
suitable devices, lightly cut into the material, and his shot-pouch was
decorated with wampum. On the other hand, Hurry Harry, either from
constitutional recklessness or from a secret consciousness how little his
appearance required artificial aids, wore everything in a careless, slovenly
manner, as if he felt a noble scorn for the trifling accessories of dress and
ornaments. Perhaps the peculiar effect of his fine form and great stature
was increased, rather than lessened, by this unstudied and disdainful air
"Come, Deerslayer, fall to, and prove that you have a Delaware stomach
as you say you have had a Delaware education," cried Hurry, setting the
example by opening his mouth to receive a slice of cold venison steak that
would have made an entire meal for a European peasant; "fall to, lad,
and prove your manhood on this poor devil of a doe with your teeth, as
you've already done with your rifle."
Nay, nay, Hurry, there's little manhood in killing a doe, and that, too,
out of season; though there might be some in bringing down a painter or
a catamount," returned the other, disposing himself to comply. The
Delawares have given me my name, not so much on account of a bold heart
as on account of a quick eye and an actyve foot. There may not be any
cowardyce in overcoming a.deer, but sartain it is there's no great valour."
Harkee, Master Deerslayer, since we are on the subject we may as well
open our minds to each other in a man-to-man way. Answer me one
question; you have had so much luck among the game as to have gotten
a title, it seems, but did you ever hit anything human or intelligible?
did you ever pull trigger on an inimy that was capable of pulling one upon
"To own the truth, I never did," answered Deerslayer, seeing that a
fitting occasion never offered. The Delawares have been peaceable since
THE DEERSLA YER. 7
my sojourn with 'em, and I hold it to be onlawful to take the life of man,
except in open and generous warfare."
What.! did you never find a fellow thieving among your traps and
skins, and do the law on him with your own hands, by way of saving the
magistrates trouble in the settlements, and the rogue himself the costs of
"I am no trapper, Hurry," returned the young man, proudly; "I live
by the rifle, a we'pon at which I will not turn my back on any man of my
years, atween the Hudson and the St. Lawrence. I never offer a skin that
has not a hole in its head besides them which natur' made to see with or to
"I wish I knew what has brought that skulking Delaware into this part
of the country so early in the season," muttered Hurry to himself, in a
way to show equally distrust and a recklessness of its betrayal. "Where
did you say the young chief was to give you the meeting ?"
At a small, round rock, near the foot of the lake,, where, they tell me,
the tribes are given to resorting to make their treaties and to bury their
hatchets. This rock have I often heard the Delawares mention, though
lake and rock are equally strangers to me. The country is claimed by
both Mingos and Mohicans, and is a sort of common territory to fish and
hunt through in time of peace, though what it may become in war-time,
the Lord only knows."
I "Common territory! exclaimed Hurry, laughing aloud. "I should
like to know what Floating Tom Hutter would say to that ? He claims the
lake as his own property, in vartue of fifteen years' possession, and will not
be likely to give it up to either Mingo or Delaware, without a battle for it.
Not a human being, the Lord excepted, owns a foot of si'le in this part of
the country. Pen was never put to paper consarning either hill or valley
hereaway, as I've heard old Tom say time and ag'in, and so he claims the
best right to it of any man breathing; and what Tom claims he'll be very
likely to maintain."
By what I've heard you say, Hurry, this Floating Tom must be an un-
common mortal; neither Mingo, Delaware, nor Pale-face. His possession,
too, has been long, by your tell, and altogether beyond frontier endurance.
What's the man's history and natur' ?"
Why, as to old Tom's human natur', it is not much like other men's
human natur', but more like a musk-rat's human natur', seeing that he
takes more to the ways of that animal than to the ways of any other fellow-
creatur'. Some think he was a free liver on the salt-water in his youth,
and a companion of a sartain Kidd, who was hanged for piracy long afore
you and I were born or acquainted, and that he came up into these regions,
thinking that the king's cruisers could never cross the mountains, and that
he might enjoy the plunder peaceably in the woods."
Then he was wrong, Hurry; very wrong. A man can enjoy plunder
Some men have no peace if tLy don't find plunder, and some if they
do. Human natur' is.crooked in these matters. Old Tom seems to belong
to neither set, as he enjoys his, if plunder he has really got, with his darters,
in a very quiet and comfortable way, and wishes for no more."
"Ay, he has darters, too. I've heard the Delawares, who've hunted
this-a-way, tell their histories of these young women. Is there no mother,
THE DEERSLA YER.
"There was once, as in reason; but she has now been dead and sunk
these two good years."
"Anan?" said Deerslayer, looking up at his companion in a little
Dead and sunk, I say, and I hope that's good English. The old
fellow lowered his wife into the lake, by way of seeing the last of her, as
I can testify, being an eye-witness of the ceremony; but whether Tom did
it to save digging, which is no easy job among roots, or out of a consait
that water washes away sin sooner than 'arth, is more than I can say. But
Judith I shall always esteem, as it's recommend enough to one woman to
be the mother of such a creature' as her darter, Judith Hutter !"
"Ay, Judith was the name the Delawares mentioned, though it was pro-
nounced after a fashion of their own. From their discourse I do not think
the girl would much please my fancy."
"Judith is only for a man whose teeth show the full marks, and it's
foolish to be afeared of a boy. What did the Delawares say of the hussy;
for an Indian, after all, has his notions of woman-kind, as well as a white
man ? "
They said she was fair to look on, and pleasant of speech, but over-
given to admirers and light-minded."
They are devils incarnate! After all, what schoolmaster is a match
for an Indian in looking into natur' ? Some people think they are only
good on a trail or the war-path; but I say that they are philosophers, and
understand a man as well as they understand a beaver, and a woman as
well as they understand either. Now that's Judith's character to a riband 1
To own the truth to you, Deerslayer, I should have married the gal two
years since, if it had not been for two particular things, one of which was
this very light-mindedness."
And what may have been the other ? demanded the hunter, who con-
tinued to eat like one that took very little interest in the subject.
"T'other was an unsartainty about her having me. The hussy is hand-
some, and she knows it. Boy, not a tree that is growing in these hills is
straighter, or waves in the wind with an easier bend, nor did you ever see
the doe that bounded with a more natural motion. Officers sometimes stray
over to the lake from the forts on the Mohawk, to fish and hunt, and then
the creature' seems beside herself! You can see it in the manner in which
she wears her finery, and the airs she gives herself with the gallants."
That is unseemly in a poor man's darter," returned Deerslayer, gravely,
"the officers are all gentry, and can only look on such as Judith with evil
I would think no more of such a woman, but turn my mind altogether
to the forest; that will never deceive you, being ordered and ruled by a hand
that never wavers."
"If you know'd Judith, -you would see how much easier it is to say this
than it would be to do it Could I bring my mind to be easy about the
officers, I would carry the gal off to the Mohawk by force, make her marry
me in spite of her whiffling, and leave old Tom to the care of Hetty, his
other child, who, if she be not so handsome or so quick witted as her sister,
is much the most dutiful."
"Is there another bird in the same nest ? asked Deerslayer, raising his
eyes with a species of half-awakened curiosity-" the Delawares spoke to
me of only one."
THE DEERSLA YER.
"That's natural enough, when Judith Hutter and Hetty Hutter are in
question. Hetty is only comely, while her sister, I tell thee, boy, is such
another as is not to be found atween this and the sea. Judith is as full of
wit, and talk, and cunning as an old Indian orator, while poor Hetty is at
the best not 'compass meant us.' "
"Anan ? inquired again the Deerslayer.
"Why, what the*officers call 'compass meant us,' which I understand to
signify that she means always to go in the right direction, but sometimes
doesn't know how. Compass' for the p'int, and meant us 'for the inten-
tion. No, poor Hetty is what I call on the varge of ignorance, and some-
times she stumbles on one side of the line, and sometimes on t'other."
Them are beings that the Lord has in His 'special care," said Deer-
slayer, solemnly; "for He looks carefully to all who fall short of their
proper share of reason."
"'Twould be an awful thing to me, Deerslayer, did I find Judith married,
after an absence of six months "
Have you the gal's faith to encourage you to hope otherwise ?"
Not at all. I know not how it is-I'm good-looking, boy-that much
I can see in any spring on which the sun shines-and yet I could never get
the hussy to a promise, or even a cordial willing smile, though she will
laugh by the hour. If she has dared to marry in my absence, she'll be like
to know the pleasures of widowhood afore she is twenty "
You would not harm the man she had chosen, Hurry, simply because
she found him more to her liking than yourself ? "
Why not ? If an enemy crosses my path, will I not beat him out of it!
Look at me-am I a man like to let any sneaking, crawling skin-trader get
the better of me in a matter that touches me as near as the kindness of
Judith Hutter ? Besides, when we live beyond law we must be our own
judges and executioners. And if a man should be found dead in the woods,
who is there to say who slew him, even admitting that the colony took the
matter in hand, and made a stir about it ? "
If that man should be Judith Hutter's husband, after what has passed,
I might tell enough at least to put the colony on the trail."
"You !-half-grown, venison-hunting bantling! You dare to think of
informing against Hurry Harry in so much as a matter touching a mink or
a woodchuck ? "
"I would dare to speak truth, Hurry, consarning you or any man that
March looked at his companion for a moment in silent amazement; then
seizing him by the throat with both hands, he shook his comparatively
slight frame with a violence that menaced the dislocation of some of the
bones. Nor was this done jocularly, for anger flashed from the giant's eyes,
and there were certain signs that seemed to threaten much more earnestness
than the occasion appeared to call for. Whatever might be the real
intention of March, and it is probable there was none settled in his mind, it
is certain that he was unusually aroused; and most men who found them-
selves throttled by one of a mould so gigantic, in such a mood and in a
solitude so deep and helpless, would have felt intimidated, and tempted to
yield even the right. Not so, however, with Deerslayer. His countenance
remained unmoved; his hand did not shake, and his answer was given in a
voice that did not resort to the artifice of louder tones, even by way of
proving its owner's resolution.
zo THE DEERSLA YER.
You may shake, Hurry, until you bring down the mountain," he said,
quietly, but nothing beside truth will you shake from me. It is probable
that Judith Hutter has no husband to slay, and you may never have a
chance to waylay one, else would I tell her of your threat in the first con-
versation I held with the gal."
March released his grip, and sat regarding the other in silent astonish-
I thought we had been friends," he at length added; but you've got
the last secret of mine that will ever enter your ears."
I want none, if they are to be like this. I know we live in the woods,
Hurry, and are thought to be beyond human laws-and perhaps we are so,
in fact, whatever it may be in right-but there is a law, and a Law-miker
that rule across the whole continent. He that flies in the face of either
need not call me fri'nd."
"Damme, Deerslayer, if I do not believe you are at heart a Moravian,
and no fair-minded, plain-dealing hunter, as you've pretended to be "
"Fair-minded or not, Hurry, you will find me as plain-dealing in deeds
as I am in words. But this giving way to sudden anger is foolish, and
proves how little you have sojourned with the red men. Judith Hutter no
doubt is still single, and you spoke but as the tongue ran, and not as the
heart felt. There's my hand, and we will say and think no more about it."
Hurry seemed more surprised than ever; then he burst forth in a loud
good-natured laugh, which brought tears to his eyes. After this he ac-
cepted the offered hand, and the parties became friends.
Ou two adventurers had not far to go. Hurry knew the direction as
soon as he had found the open spot and the spring, and he now led on with
the confident step of a man assured of his object. The forest was dark, as
a matter of course, but it was no longer obstructed by under-brush, and the
footing was firm and dry. After proceeding near a mile, March stopped,
and began to cast about him with an inquiring look, examining the different
objects with care, and occasionally turning his eyes on the trunks of the
fallen trees, with which the ground was well sprinkled, as is usually the
case.in an American wood, especially in those parts of the country where
timber has not yet become valuable.
This must be the place, Deerslayer," March at length observed; here
is a beech by the side of a hemlock, with three pines at hand, and yonder is
a white birch with a broken top; and yet I see no rock, nor any of the
branches bent down, as I told you would be the case."
Look this-a-way, Hurry-here, in a line with the black oak. Don't you
see the crooked sapling that is hooked up in the branches of the bass-wood
near it ? Now, that sapling was once snow-ridden, and got the bend by its
weight; but it never straightened itself, and fastened itself in among the
bass-wood branches in the way you see. The hand of man did that act of
kindness for it."
That hand was mine! exclaimed Hurry; "I found the slender young
thing bent to the airth, like an unfortunate creature' borne down by mis-
THE DEERSLA YER.
fortune, and stuck it up where you see it. After all, Deerslayer, I must
allow you're, getting to have an oncommon good eye for the woods !"
"'Tis improving, Hurry-'tis improving, I will acknowledge; but 'tis
still only a child's eye compared to some I know. There's Tamenund, now,
though a man so old that few remember when he was in his prime, Tamenund
lets nothing escape his look, which is more like the scent of a hound than
the sight of an eye. Then Uncas, the father of Chingachgook, and the
lawful chief of the Mohicans, is another that it is almost hopeless to pass
unseen. I'm improving, I will allow-I'm improving, but far from being
Perfect as yet."
And who is this Chingachgook, of whom you talk so much, Deerslayer ?"
asked Hurry, as he moved off in the direction of the righted sapling; "a
Sloping red-skin at the best, I make no question."
"Not so, Hurry, but the best of loping red-skins, as you call 'em. If he
had his rights, he would be a great chief; but, as it is, he is only a brave
and just-minded Delaware; respected and even obeyed in some things, 'tis
true, but of a fallen race, and belonging to a fallen people. Ah !'Harry
March, wouldd warm the heart within you to sit in their lodges of a-winter's
night, and listen to the traditions of the ancient greatness and power of
the Mohicans !"
This remark cut short the discourse, and both the men now gave all
their attention to the object immediately before them. Deerslayer pointed
out to his companion the trunk of a huge linden, or bass-wood, as it is
termed in the language of the country, which had filled its time, and fallen
by its own weight.
Ay, here we have what we want," cried Hurry, looking in at the larger
end of the linden; everything is as snug as if it had been left in an old
woman's cupboard. Come, lend me a hand, Deerslayer, and we'll be afloat
in half an hour."
At this call the hunter joined his companion, and the.two went to work
deliberately and regularly, like men accustomed to the sort of thing in
which they were employed. In the first place, Hurry removed some pieces
of bark that lay before the large opening in the tree, and which the other
declared to be disposed in a way that would have been more likely to
attract attention than to conceal the cover, had any straggler passed that
way. The two then drew out a bark canopy, containing its seats, paddles,
and other appliances, even to fishing lines and rods. This vessel was by no
means small; but such was its comparative lightness, and so gigantic was
the strength of Hurry, that the latter shouldered it with seeming ease; de-
clining all assistance, even in the act of raising it to the awkward position
in which he was obliged to hold it.
"Lead ahead, Deerslayer," said March, "and open the bushes; the rest
I can do for myself."
The other obeyed, and the men left the spot, Deerslayer clearing the way
for his companion, and inclining to the right or to the left, as the latter
directed. In about ten minutes they both broke suddenly into the brilliant
Slight of the sun, on a low gravelly point, that was washed by water on
quite half its outline.
On a level with the point lay a broad sheet of water, so placid and limpid
that it resembled a bed of the pure mountain atmosphere compressed into
a setting of hills and woods.
But the most striking peculiarities of this scene were its solemn solitude
S2 THE DEERSLA YER.
and sweet repose. On all sides, wherever the eye turned, nothing met it
but the mirror-like surface of the lake, the placid view of heaven, and the
dense setting of woods. So rich and fleecy were the outlines of the forest
that scarce an opening could be seen, the whole visible earth, from the
rounded mountain-top to the water's edge, presenting one unvaried line of
"This is grand!-'tis solemn!-'tis an education of itself to look upon! "
exclaimed Deerslayer, as he stood leaning on his rifle, and gazing to the
right and left, north and south, above and beneath, in whichever direction
his eye could wander; "not a tree disturbed even by red-skin hand, as I
can discover, but everything left in the ordering of the Lord, to live and die
according to His own designs and laws; Hurry, your Judith ought to be
a moral and well-disposed young woman, if she has passed half the time
you mention in the centre of a spot so favoured."
But what is this I see off here, abreast of us, that seems too small for
an island and too large for a boat, though it stands in the midst of the
Why, that is what these gallanting gentry from the forts call Muskrat
Castle; and old Tom himself will grin at the name, though it bears so hard
on his own natur' and character. 'Tis the stationary house, there being
two; this, which never moves, and the other that floats, being sometimes in
one part of the lake, and sometimes in another. The last goes by the name
of the Ark."
Do you see anything of this ark ?"
'"'Tis down south, no doubt, or anchored in some of the bays. But the
canoe is ready, and fifteen minutes will carry two such paddles as your'n
and mine to the castle."
At this suggestion Deerslayer helped his companion to place the different
articles in the canoe, which was already afloat. This was no sooner done,
than the two frontier men embarked, and, by a vigorous push, sent the light
bark some eight or ten rods from the shore. Hurry now took the seat in
the stern, while Deerslayer placed himself forward, and, by leisurely, but
steady strokes of the paddles, the canoe glided across the placid sheet,
towards the extraordinary-looking structure that the former had styled
This is a sight to warm the, heart! exclaimed Deerslayer, when they
had thus stopped for the fourth or fifth time; "the lake seems made to let
us get an insight into the noble forests; and land and water alike stand in
the beauty of God's providence Do you say, Hurry,that there is no man
who calls himself lawful owner of all these glories Y "
"None but the king, lad. He may pretend to some right of that natur',
but he is so far away that his claims will never trouble old Tom Hutter,
who has got possession, and is like to keep it as long as his life lasts. Tom
is no squatter, not being on land; but I call him a floater."
"I invy that man !-I know it's wrong, and I strive ag'in the feeling but
I invy that man Don't think, Hurry, that I'm consarting any plan to put
myself in his moccasins, for such a thought doesn't harbour in my mind;
but I can't help a little invy! 'Tis a natural feeling and the best of us are
but natural after all, and give way to such feeling's at times. Do the red-
men often visit this lake, Hurry ?" continued Deerslayer, pursuing his own
train of thought.
Why, they come and go; sometimes in parties, and sometimes singly.
THE DEERSLA YER.
The country seems to belong to no native tribe in particular; and so it has
fallen into the hands of the Hutter tribe. The old man tells me that some
sharp ones have been wheedling the Mohawks for an Indian deed, in
order to get a title out of the colony; but nothing has come of it, seeing
that no one heavy enough for such a trade has yet meddled with the matter.
The hunters have a good life-lease still of this wilderness."
So much the better-so much the better, Hurry. If I were king of
England, the man that felled one of these trees without good occasion for
the timber should be banished to a deserted and forlorn region, in which
no four-footed animal ever trod. Right glad am I that Chingachgook
appointed our meeting on this lake, for hitherto eye of mine never looked
on such a glorious spectacle "
"That's because you've kept so much among the Delawares, in whose
country there are no lakes. Now, farther north, and farther west, these
bits of water abound; and you're young, and may yet live to see 'em. But,
though there be other lakes, Deerslayer, there's no other Judith Hutter."
At this remark his companion smiled, and then he dropped his paddle
into the water, as if in consideration of a lover's haste. Both now pulled
vigorously until they got within a hundred yards of the castle," as Hurry
familiarly called the house of Hutter, when they again ceased paddling;
the admirer of Judith restraining his impatience the more readily as he
perceived that the building was untenanted at the moment.
While the parties were thus discoursing, the canoe had been gradually
drawing nearer to the castle," and was now so close as to require but a
single stroke of a paddle to reach the landing. This was at a floored plat-
form in front of the entrance, that might have been some twenty feet
"Old Tom calls this sort of a wharf his door-yard," observed Hurry, as
he fastened the canoe, after he and his companion had left it; and the
gallants from the forts have named it 'castle court,' though what a court'
can have to do here is more than I can tell you, seeing that there is no law.
'Tis as I supposed; not a soul within, but the whole family is off on a
v'yg'e of discovery. Old Tom has taken to a new calling, and has been
trying his hands at the traps," cried Hurry, who had been coolly examining
the borderer's implements; if that is his humour, and you're disposed to
remain in these parts, we can make an oncommon comfortable season of it;
for, while the old man and I out-knowledge the beaver, you can fish, and
knock down the deer, to keep body and soul together. We always give the
poorest hunters half a share, but one as actyve and sartain as yourself
might expect a full one."
Thank'ee, Hurry ; thank'ee, with all my heart-but I do a little beaver-
ing for myself as occasions offer. 'Tis true the Delawares call me Deer-
slayer, but it's not so much because I'm pretty fatal with the venison, as
because that while I kill so many bucks and does, I've never yet taken the
life of a fellow-creatur' They say their traditions do not tell of another
who had shed so much blood of animals that had not shed the blood of
"I hope, they don't account you chicken-hearted, lad ? A faint-hearted
man is like a no-tailed beaver."
I don't believe, Hurry that they account me as out-of-the-way timor-
some, even though they may not account me as out-of-the-way brave. But
I'm not quarrelsome; and that goes a great way towards keeping blood off
14 THE DEERSLAYER.
the hands among the hunters and red-skins; and then, Harry March, it
keeps blood off the conscience too."
Well, for my part, I account game, a red-skin, and a Frenchman as
pretty much the same thing; though I'm as onquarrelsome a man too as
there is in all the Colonies. I despise a quarreller as I do a cur-dog; but
one has no need to be over-scrupulsome when it's the right time to show
"I look upon him as the most of a man who acts nearest the right,
Hurry. But this is a glorious spot, and my eyes never a-weary looking
at it! "
'Tis your first acquaintance with a lake; and these ideas come over us
all at such times. Lakes have a general character, as I say, being pretty
much water and land, and points and bays."
As this definition by no means met the feelings that were uppermost in
the mind'of the young hunter, he made no immediate answer, but stood
gazing at the dark hills and the glassy water in silent enjoyment.
Have the governor's or the king's people given this lake a name ?" he
suddenly asked, as if struck with a new idea. If they've not begun to
blaze their trees, and set up their compasses, and line off their maps, it's
likely they've not bethought them to disturb natur' with a name."
As for the tribes, each has its own tongue and its own way of calling
things; and they treat this part of the world just as they treat all others.
Among ourselves we've got to calling the place the Glimmerglass,' seeing
that its whole basin is so often fringed with pines, cast upwards from its
face, as if it would throw back the hills that hang over it."
"There is an outlet, I know, for all lakes have outlets, and the rock at
which I am to meet Chingachgook stands near an outlet. Has that no
Colony-name yet ?"
In that particular they've got the advantage of us, having one end, and
that the biggest, in their own keeping; they've given it a name which has
found its way up to its source, names naturally working up stream. No
doubt, Deerslayer, you've seen the Susquehannah, down in the Delaware
country ? "
"That have I, and hunted along its banks a hundred times."
"That and this are the same, in fact, and, I suppose, the same in sound.
I am glad they've been compelled to keep the red-men's name, for it would
be too hard to rob them of both land and name !"
H-Uan HAnwB thought more of the beauties of Judith Hutter than of
those of the Glimmerglass and its accompanying scenery. As soon as he
had taken a sufficiently intimate survey of Floating Tom's implements,
therefore, he summoned his companion to the canoe, that they might go
down the lake in quest of the family. Previous to embarking, however,
Hurry carefully examined the whole of the northern end of the water with
an indifferent ship's glass that formed a part of Hutter's effects. In this
scrutiny no part of the shore was overlooked; the bays and points, in
THE DEERSLA YER. 15
particular, being subjected to a closer inquiry than the rest of the wooded
"'Tis as I thought," said Hurry, laying aside the glass; "the old fellow
is drifting about the south end this fine weather, and has left the castle
to defend itself. Well, now we know that he is not up this-a-way, 'twill
be but a small matter to paddle down, and hunt him up in his hiding-
Let us keep a good look-out for your friend, Floating Tom, lest we
pass him, as he lies hidden under this bushy shore."
Deerslayer had not yet named the borders of the lake amiss. Along
their whole length the smaller trees overhung the water, with their branches
often dipping in the transparent element. The banks were steep, even
from the narrow strand; and, as vegetation invariably struggles towards
the light, the effect was precisely that at which the lover of the picturesque
would have aimed, had the ordering of this glorious setting of forest been
submitted to his control. The points and bays, too, were sufficiently
numerous to render the outline broken and diversified. As the canoe kept
close along the western side of the lake, with a view, as Hurry had ex-
plained to his companion, of reconnoitring for enemies, before he trusted
himself too openly in sight, the expectations of the two adventurers were
kept constantly on the stretch, as neither could foretell what the next
turning of a point might reveal. Their progress was swift, the gigantic
strength of Hurry enabling him to play with the light bark as if it had
been a feather, while the skill of his companion almost equalized their
usefulness, notwithstanding the disparity in natural means.
Each time the canoe passed a point Hurry turned to look behind him,
expecting to see the ark anchored or beached in the bay. He was fated
to be disappointed, however; and they got within a mile of the southern
end of the lake, or a distance of quite two leagues from the "castle,"
which was now hidden from view by half-a-dozen intervening projections
of the land, when he suddenly ceased paddling, as if uncertain in what
direction next to steer.
S "It is possible that the old chap has dropped into the river," said Hurry,
after looking carefully along the whole of the eastern shore, which was
about a mile distant, and opened to his scrutiny for more than half its length;
" for he has taken to trapping considerable of late, and, barring flood-wood,
he might drop down it a mile or so; though he would have a most scratch-
ing time in getting back again "
"Where is this outlet ?" asked Deerslayer. "I see no opening in the
banks or the trees, that looks as if it would let a river like the Susquehannah
run through it."
Ay, Deerslayer, rivers are like human mortals, having small beginnings,
and ending with broad shoulders and wide mouths. You don't see the
outlet, because it passes atween high, steep banks; and the pines, and
hemlocks, and bass-wood hang over it, as a roof hangs over a house. If
old Tom is not in the Rat's Cove,' he must have burrowed in the river;
we'll look for him first in the Cove, and then we'll cross to the outlet."
As they proceeded, Hurry explained that there was a shallow bay, formed
by a long, low point, that had gotten the name of "Rat's Cove," from the
circumstance of its being a favourite haunt of the musk-rat; and which
offered so complete a cover for the ark," that its owner was fond of lying
in it whenever he found it convenient.
THE DEERSLA YER.
"But here is the end of the long p'int you mentioned, and the Rat's
Cove' can't be far off."
This point, instead of thrusting itself forward, like all the others, ran in
a line with the main shore of the lake, which here swept within it in a
deep and retired bay circling round south again at the distance of a
quarter of a mile, and crossed the valley forming the southern termination
of the water. In this bay Hurry felt almost certain of finding the ark,
since, anchored behind the trees that covered the narrow strip of the point,
it might have laid concealed from prying eyes an entire summer. So com-
plete, indeed, was the cover in this spot, that a boat hauled close to the
beach, within the point, and near the bottom of the bay, could by possi-
bility be seen from only one direction, and that was from a densely wooded
shore, within the sweep of the water, where strangers would be little apt
"We shall soon see the ark," said Hurry, as the canoe glided round the
extremity of the point, where the water was so deep as actually to appear
black; he loves to burrow up among the rushes, and we shall be in his
nest in five minutes, although the old fellow may be off among the traps
At this' instant a dry stick was heard cracking on the narrow strip of
land that concealed the bay from the open lake. Both the adventurers
started, and each extended a hand towards his rifle, the weapon never being
out of reach of the arm.
"'Twas too heavy for any light creature, whispered Hurry, "and it
sounded like the tread of a man 1 "
Not so-not so," returned Deerslayer : "'twas as you say, too heavy for
one, but it was too light for the other. Put your paddle in the water, and
send the canoe in to that log. I'll land and cut off the creature's retreat
at the p'int, be it a Mingo or be it only a musk-rat."
As Hurry complied, Deerslayer was soon on the shore, advancing into
the thicket with a moccasined foot, and a caution that prevented the least
noise. In a minute he was in the centre of the narrow strip of land, and
moving slowly down towards its end, the bushes rendering extreme watch-
fulness necessary. Just as he reached the centre of the thicket, the dried
twigs cracked again, and the noise was repeated, at short intervals, as if
some creature having life, walked slowly towards the point. Hurry heard
these sounds also, and, pushing the canoe off into the bay, he seized his
rifle to watch the result. A breathless minute succeeded, after which a
noble buck walked out of the thicket, proceeded with a stately step to the
sandy extremity of the point, and began to slake its thirst from the water
of the lake. Hurry hesitated an instant; then raising his rifle hastily
to his shoulder, he took sight and fired. The effect of this sudden interrup-
tion of the solemn stillness of such a scene, was not its least striking
peculiarity. The report of the weapon had the usual sharp, short sound.
of the rifle; but when a few moments of silence had succeeded the sudden
crack, during which the noise was floating in air across the water, it reached
the rocks of the opposite mountain, where the vibrations accumulated, and
were rolled from cavity to cavity for miles along the hills, seeming to awaken
the sleeping thunders of the woods. The buck merely shook his head at
report of the rifle, and the whistling of the bullet, for never before had he
come in contact with man; but the echoes of the hills awakened his dis-
trust, and, leaping forward, with his.four legs drawn under his body, he
THE DEERSLA YER.
fell at once into deep water, and began to swim towards the foot of the lake.
Hurry shouted, and dashed forward in chase, and for one or two minutes
the water foamed around the pursuer and the pursued. The former was
dashing past the point, when Deerslayer appeared on the sand, and signed
to him to return.
"'Twas inconsiderate to pull a trigger afore we.had reconn'itred the
shore, and made sartain that no inimies harboured near it," said the latter,
as his companion slowly and reluctantly complied. "This much I have
1'arned from the Delawares, in the way of schooling and traditions, even
though I've never yet been on a war-path. And, moreover, vension can
hardly be called in season now, and we do not want for food. They call
me Deerslayer, I'll own; and perhaps I deserve the name, in the way of
understanding the creature's habits, as well as for sartainty in the aim; but
they can't accuse me of killing an animal when there is no occasion for the
meat, or the skin. I may be a slayer, it's true, but I'm no slaughterer."
"'Twas an awful mistake to miss that buck! exclaimed Hurry, doffing
his cap, and running his fingers through his handsome but matted curls, as
if he would loosen his tangled ideas by the process; "I've not done so
onhandy a thing since I was fifteen."
"Never lament it; the creature's death could have done neither of us any
good, and might have done us harm. Them echoes are more awful, in my
ears than your mistake, Hurry; for they sound like the voice of nature'
calling out ag'in a wasteful and onthinking action."
They were now, indeed, quite near the place that March had pointed out
for the position of the outlet, and both began to look for it with a curiosity
that was increased by the expectation of finding the ark.
I've not been down at this end of the lake these two summers," said
Hurry, standing up in the canoe the better to look about him. "Ay-there's
the rock showing its chin above the water, and I know that the river begins
in its neighbourhood."
The men now plied the paddles again, and they were presently within a
few yards of the rock-floating towards it, though their efforts were sus.
pended. This rock was not large, being merely some five or six feet high,
only half of which elevation rose above the lake.
The incessant washing of the water for centuries had so rounded its
summit that it resembled a large bee-hive in shape, its form being more
than usually regular and even. Hurry remarked, as they floated slowly
past, that this rock was well known to all the Indians in that part of the
country, and that they were in the practice of using it as a mark to designate
the place of meeting when separated by their hunts and marches.
"This is a natural and-bush," half whispered Hurry, as if he felt that
the place was devoted to secrecy and watchfulness; depend on it, old Tom
has burrowed with the ark somewhere in this quarter. We will drop down
with the current a short distance, and ferret him out."
This seems no place for a vessel of any size," returned the other; "it
appears to me that we shall have hardly room enough for the canoe."
Hurry laughed at this suggestion, and, as it soon appeared, with reason;
for the fringe of bushes immediately on the shore of the lake was no sooner
passed, than the adventurers found themselves in a narrow stream of a
sufficient depth of limpid water, with a strong current, and a canopy of
leaves, upheld by arches composed of the limbs of hoary trees. Bushes
lined the shores, as usual, but they left sufficient space between them to
18 THE DEERSLA YER.
admit the passage of anything that did not exceed twenty feet in width,
and to allow of a perspective ahead of eight or ten times that distance.
There the old fellow is whispered Hurry, pointing with a finger, and
laughing heartily, though he carefully avoided making a noise, ratting it
away, just as I supposed; up to his knees in the mud and water, looking to
the traps and the bait. But, for the life of me, I can see nothing of the
ark ; though I'll bet every skin I take this season, Jude isn't trusting her
pretty little feet in the neighbourhood of that black mud. The girl's more
likely to be braiding her hair by the side of some spring, where she can
see her own good looks, and collect scornful feelings ag'in us men."
"You over-judge young women-yes you do, Hurry-who as often bethink
them of their failings as they do of their perfections. I dare to say this
Judith, now, is no such admirer of herself, and no such scorner of your sex
as you seem to think; and that she is quite as likely to be serving her
father in the house, wherever that may be, as he is to be serving her among
"It's a pleasure to hear truth from a man's tongue, if it be only once in
a girl's life," cried a pleasant, rich, and yet soft female voice, so near the
canoe as to make both the listeners start. "As for you, Master Hurry,
fair words are so apt to choke you, that I no longer expect to hear them from
.your mouth; the last you uttered sticking in your throat, and coming near
THE DEERSLA YER. 19
to death. But I'm glad to see you keep better society than formerly, and
that they who know how to esteem and treat women are not ashamed to
journey in your company."
As this was said, a singularly handsome and youthful face was thrust
through an opening in the leaves, within reach of Deerslayer's paddle. Its
owner smiled graciously on the young man; and the frown that she cast on
Hurry, though simulated and pettish, had the effect to render her beauty
more striking, by exhibiting the play of an expressive but capricious
*countenance; one that seemed to change from the soft to the severe, the
mirthful to the reproving, with facility and indifference.
A second look explained the nature of the surprise. Unwittingly, the
Smen had dropped alongside of the ark, which had been purposely concealed
in bushes cut and arranged for the purpose; and Judith Hutter had merely
pushed aside the leaves that lay before a window, in order to show her
face, and speak to them.
THE ark, as the floating habitation of the Hutters was generally called
was a very simple contrivance. A large flat, or scow, composed the buoyant
part of the vessel; and in its centre, occupying the whole of its breadth,
;and about two-thirds of its length, stood alow fabric, resembling the castle
Sin construction, though made of materials so light as barely to be bullet-
Sproof. As the sides of the scow were a little higher than usual, and the
interior of the cabin had no more elevation than was necessary for comfort,
this unusual addition had neither a very clumsy nor a very obstrusive
.appearance. It was, in short, little more than modern canal-boat, though
more rudely constructed, of greater breadth than common, and bearing
about it the signs of the wilderness, in its bark-covered posts and roof.
'The scow, however, had been put together with some skill, being compara-
tively light for its strength, and sufficiently manageable. The cabin was
-divided into two apartments, one of which served for a parlour and a sleep-
ing-room of the father, and the other was appropriated to the uses of the
Daughters. A very simple arrangement sufficed for the kitchen, which was
in one end of the scow and removed from the cabin, standing in the open
air; the ark being altogether a summer habitation.
"You are Hetty Hutter," said Deerslayer, in the way one puts a question
unconsciously to himself, assuming a kindness of tone and manner that
were singularly adapted to win the confidence of her whom he addressed-
"Hurry Harry has told me of you, and I know you must be the child ? "
"Yes, I'm Hetty Hutter," returned the girl, in a low, sweet voice, which
nature, aided by some education, had preserved from vulgarity of tone
.and utterance; "I'm Hetty; Judith Hutter's sister; and Thomas Hutter's
"I know your history, then, for Hurry Harry talks considerable, and
he is free of speech when he can find other people's consarns to dwell on.
You pass most of your life on the lake, Hetty."
"Certainly. Mother is dead; father is gone a-trapping, and Judith
.and I stay at home. What's your name ? "
THE DEERSLA YER.
That's a question more easily asked than it is answered, young woman ;
seeing that I'm so young, and yet have borne more names than some of
the greatest chiefs in all America."
"But you've got a name-you don't throw away one name before you
come honestly by another."
I hope not, gal-I hope not. My names have come naturally, and I
suppose the one I bear now will be of no great lasting, since the Dela-
wares seldom settle on a man's ra'al title, until such time as he has an
opportunity of showing his true natur', in the council or on the war-path;
which has never behappened me.; seeing, firstly, because I am not born a
red-skin, and have no right to sit in their councillings, and am much too
humble to be called on for opinions from the great of my own colour; and
secondly, because this is the first war that has befallen in my time, and no
inimy has yet inroaded far enough into the colony, to be reached by an
arm even longer than mine."
"Tell me all your names," repeated the girl, earnestly, for her mind was
too simple to separate things from professions, and she did attach import-
ance to a name; "I want to know what to think of you."
"Well, sartain; I've no objection, and you shall hear them all. In the
first place, then, I'm Christian and. white-born, like yourself, and my
parents had a name that came down from father to son, as is a part of
their gifts. My father was called Bumppo; and I was named after him,.
of course, the given name being Nathaniel, or Natty, as most people saw
fit to tarm it."
"Yes, yes-Natty-and Hetty-" interrupted the girl, quickly, and
looking up from her work again, with a smile; "you are Natty, and I'm
Hetty- though you are Bumppo, and I'm Hutter. Bumppo isn't as-
pretty as Hutter, is it ? "
"Why, that's as people fancy. Bumppo has no lofty sound, I admit;.
and yet men have bumped through the world with it. I did not go by
this name, however, very long, for the Delawares soon found out, or
thought they found out, that I was not given to lying, and they called me
That's a good name," interrupted Hetty, earnestly, and in a positive
manner; "don't tell me there's no virtue in names !"
I do not say that, for perhaps I deserved to be so called, lies being no
favourites with me, as they are with some. After a while they found out
that I was quick of foot, and then they called me The Pigeon' which,
you know, has a swift wing, and flies in a direct line."
That was a pretty name !" exclaimed Hetty; "pigeons are pretty
Most things that God has created are pretty in their way, my good:
gal, though they get to be deformed by mankind, so as to change their
natur's, as well as their appearance. From carrying messages, and striking
blind trails, I got, at last, to following the hunters, when it was thought I
was quicker and surer at finding the game than most lads, and then they
called me the 'Lap-ear,' as they said I partook of the sagacity of a hound."
That is not so pretty," answered Hetty; I hope you didn't keep that'
"Not after I was rich enough to buy a rifle," returned the other,.
betraying a little pride through his usually quiet and subdued manner;
" then it was seen I could keep a wigwam in ven'son; and, in time, I got,
THE DEERSLA YER. 21
the name of Deerslayer,' which is that I now bear; homely as some will
think it, who set more valie on the scalp of a fellow-mortal than on the
horns of a buck."
"Well, Deerslayer, I'm not one of them," answered Hetty, simply;
"Judith likes soldiers, and flary coats, and fine feathers; but they're all
naught to me. She says the officers are great and gay, and of soft speech;
but they make me shudder, for their business is to kill their fellow-
creatures. I like your calling better; and your last name is a very good
one-better than Natty Bumppo."
"This is natural, in one of your turn of mind, Hetty, and much as I
should have expected. Chingachgook is to meet me at the rock an hour
afore sunset to-morrow evening, after which we shall go our way together,
molesting none but the king's inimies, who are lawfully our own. Know-
ing Hurry of old, who once trapped in our hunting-grounds, and falling
in with him on the Schoharie just as he was on the p'int of starting for
his summer ha'nts, we agreed to journey in company, not so much from
fear of the Mingos as from good-fellowship, and, as he says, to shorten a
At this juncture the owner of the ark arrived and spoke of a trail he had
seen, and said, "the trail I saw may have been that of your friend, ahead
of his time."
"That's my idee, which may be wrong, but which may be right. If I
saw the moccasin, however, I could tell in a minute whether it is made in
the Delaware fashion or not."
"Here it is, then," said the quick-witted Judith, who had already gone
to the canoe in quest of it; "tell us what it says, friend or enemy. You
look honest, and I believe all you say, whatever father may think."
That's the way with you, Jude, for ever finding out friends where I
distrust foes," grumbled Tom; but speak out, young man, and tell us what
you think of the moccasin."
"That's not Delaware-made," returned Deerslayer, examining the worn
.and rejected covering for the foot with a cautious eye; I'm too young on
.a war-path to be positive, but I should say that moccasin has a northern
look, and comes from beyond the great lakes."
"If such is the case we ought not to lie here a minute longer than is
necessary," said Hutter, glancing through the leaves of his cover, as if he
already distrusted the presence of an enemy on the opposite shore of the
narrow and sinuous stream. It wants but an hour or so of night, and
to move in the dark will be impossible, without making a noise that would
Well, old Tom," cried Hurry, if we are to move, the sooner we make
a beginning the sooner we shall know whether we are to have our scalps
for night-caps or not."
In spite of their long familiarity with the woods, the gloomy character
-of the shaded river added to the uneasiness that each felt; and when the
ark reached the first bend in the Susquehannah, and the eye caught a
.glimpse of the broader expense of the lake, all felt a relief that perhaps
neither would have been willing to confess.
Thank God ejaculated Hurry, there is daylight, and we shall soon
have a chance of seeing our inimies, if we are to. feel 'em."
That is more than you or any man can say," growled Hutter. There
is no spot so likely to harbour a party as the shore around the outlet; and
22 THE DEERSLA YER.
the moment we clear these trees and get into open water, will be the most
trying time, since it will leave the enemy a cover while it puts us out of
one. Judith, girl, do you and Hetty leave the oar to take care of itself,
and go within the cabin: and be mindful not to show your faces at
window, for they who will look at them won't stop to praise their beauty.
And now, Hurry, we'll step into this outer room ourselves, and haul
through the door where we shall all be safe, from a surprise, at least.
Friend Deerslayer, as the current is lighter, and the line has all the strain
on it that is prudent, do you keep moving from window to window, taking
care not to let your head be seen, if you set any value on life. No one
knows when or where we shall hear from our neighbours."
As he took his stand at a window the ark was just passing through
the narrowest part of the stream, a point where the water first entered
what was properly termed the river, and where the trees fairly interlocked
overhead, causing the current to rush into an arch of verdure; a feature
as appropriate and peculiar to the country, perhaps, as that of Switzer-
land, where the rivers come rushing literally from chambers of ice.
The ark was in the act of passing the last curve of this leafy entrance
as Deerslayer, having examined all that could be seen of the eastern bank
of the river, crossed the room to look from the opposite window at the
western. His arrival at this aperture was most opportune, for he had
no sooner placed his eye at a crack, than a sight met his gaze that might.
well have alarmed a sentinel so young and inexperienced. A sapling over-
hung the water, in nearly half a circle, Laving first grown towards the
light, and then been pressed down into this form by the weight of the
snows-a circumstance of common occurrence in the American woods.
On this tree no fewer than six Indians had already appeared, others;
standing ready to follow them as they left room; each evidently bent
on running out on the trunk, and dropping on the roof of the ark as it
passed beneath. This would have been an exploit of no great difficulty,
the inclination of the tree admitting of an easy passage, the adjoining
branches offering ample support for the hands, and the fall being too
trifling to be apprehended. When Deerslayer first saw this party, it was
just unmasking itself, by ascending the part of the tree nearest to the earth,
or that which was much the most difficult to overcome; and his know-
ledge of Indian habits told him at once that they were all in their war-
paint, and belonged to a hostile tribe.
Pull, Hurry he cried; "pull for your life, and as you love Judith
Hutter Pull, man, pull!"
This call was made to one that the young man knew had the strength of
a giant. It was so earnest and solemn, that both Hutter and March felt
it was not idly given, and they applied all their force to the line simul-
taneously, and at a most critical moment. The scow redoubled its
motion, and seemed to glide from under the tree as if conscious of the-
danger that was impending overhead. Perceiving that they were dis-
covered, the. Indians uttered the fearful war-whoop, and running forward,
on the tree, leaped desperately towards their fancied prize. There were
six on the tree, and each made the effort. All but their leader fell into,
the river, more or less distant from the ark, as they came, sooner or later,
to the leaping-place. The chief, who had taken the dangerous post in
advance, having an earlier opportunity than the others, struck the scow
just within the stern. The fall proving so much greater than he hadi
THE DEERSLA YER. 23
anticipated, he was slightly stunned, and for a moment he remained half
bent and unconscious of his situation. At this instant Judith rushed
from the cabin, her beauty heightened by the excitement that produced
the bold act, which flushed her cheek to crimson, and throwing all her
strength into the effort, she pushed the intruder over the edge of the scow,
headlong into the river. This decided feat was no sooner accomplished
than the woman resumed her sway: Judith looked over the stern to
ascertain what had
become of the man,
and the expression .
of her eyes softened -
to concern; next her I
cheek crimsoned be-
tween shame and
surprise at her own
temerity; and then
she laughed, in her
own merry and
sweet manner. All
this occupied less
than a minute, when
the arm of Deer-
slayer was thrown
around -her waist, -
and she was dragged out., ,
swiftly within the
protection of the
cabin. This retreat
was not effected too -
soon. Scarcely were -
the two in safety, "
when the forest was -
filled with yells, and --
bullets began to pat- 'i
ter against the logs. ,I
The ark being in
swift motion all this
while, it was beyond
the danger of pur- -
suit by the time -
these little events --
had occurred; and
the savages, as soon
as the first burst of their anger had subsided, ceased firing, with the con-
sciousness that they were expending their ammunition in vain. When the
scow came up above the grapnel, Hutter tripped the latter, in a way not to
impede the motion; and being now beyond the influence of the current,
the vessel continued to drift ahead, until fairly in the open lake, though
still near enough to the land to render exposure to a rifle-bullet dangerous.
Hutter and March got out two small sweeps, and, covered by the cabin,
they soon urged the ark far enough from the shore to leave no inducement
to their enemies to make any further attempts to injure them.
THE DEERSLA YER.
"I THOUGHT I should have killed myself with laughing, Deerslayer," the
beauty abruptly but coquettishly commenced, when I saw that Indian
dive into the river! He was a good-looking savage, too "-the girl always
dwelt on personal beauty as a sort of merit-" and yet one couldn't stop to
consider whether his paint would stand water!"
And I thought they would have killed you with their weapons, Judith,"
returned Deerslayer; "it was an awful risk for a girl to run in the face of
a dozen Mingos "
Did that make you come out of the cabin, in spite of their rifles, too "
asked the girl, with more real interest than she would have cared to betray,
though with an indifference of manner that was the result of a good deal
of practice, united to native readiness.
"Men ar'n't apt to see girls in danger and. not come to their assistance.
Even a Mingo knows that."
This sentiment was uttered with as much simplicity of manner as of
feeling, and Judith rewarded it with a smile so sweet that even Deerslayer,
who had imbibed a prejudice against the girl in consequence of Hurry's
suspicions of her levity, felt its charm, notwithstanding half its winning
influence was lost in the feeble light. It at once created a sort of confidence
between them, and the discourse was continued on the part of the hunter
without the lively consciousness of the character of this coquette of the
wilderness, with which it had certainly commenced.
You are a man of deeds and not of words, I see plainly, Deerslayer,"
continued the beauty, taking her seat near the spot where the other stood,
" and I foresee we shall be very good friends. Hurry Harry has a tongue,
and, giant as he is, he talks more than he performs."
"Hurry is your friend, Judith; and friends should be tender of each
other when apart."
"We all know what Hurry's friendship comes to! Let him have his
own way in everything, and he's the best fellow in the colony; but 'head
him off,' as you say of the deer, and he is master of everything near him,
but himself. Hurry is no favourite of mine, Deerslayer; and I dare say,
if the truth were known, and his conversation about me repeated, it would
be found that he thinks no better of me than I do of him."
"Master Hurry may find it pleasant to traduce us, but, sooner or later,
Nay, Judith, this is taking the matter up too much in 'arnest. Hurry
has never whispered a syllable ag'n the good name of Hetty, to begin
"I see how it is-I see how it is "-impetuously interrupted Judith. "I
am the one he sees fit to scorch with his withering tongue !-Hetty, in-
deed !-poor Hetty! "-she continued, her voice sinking into low, husky
tones, that seemed nearly to stifle her in the utterance-" she is beyond and
above his slanderous malice! Poor Hetty If God has created her feeble-
minded, the weakness lies altogether on the side of errors of which she
seems to know nothing. The earth never held a purer being than Hetty
THE DEERSLA YER. 25
"I can believe it-yes, I can believe that, Judith, and I hope earnestlyy
that the same can be said of her handsome sister."
There was a soothing sincerity in the voice of Deerslayer which touched
the girl's feelings; nor did the allusion to her beauty lessen the effect with
,one who knew only too well the power of her personal charms.
SHORTLY after the disappearance of Judith a light southerly air arose,
and Hutter set a large square sail, that had once been the flying top-sail of
an Albany sloop, but which, having become threadbare in catching the
breezes of Tappan, had been condemned and sold. He had a light tough
spar of tamarack that he could raise on occasion, and with a little con-
trivance his duck was spread to the wind in a sufficiently professional
manner. The effect on the ark was such as to supersede the necessity of
rowing; and in about two hours the castle was seen in the darkness, rising
out of the water, at the distance of a hundred yards. The sail was then
lowered, and by slow degrees the scow drifted up to the building and was
No one had visited the house since Hurry and his companion left it. The
place was found in the quiet of midnight-a sort of type of the solitude of
Sa wilderness. As an enemy was known to be near, Hutter directed his
-daughters to abstain from the use of lights-luxuries in which they
.seldom indulged during the warm months lest they might prove beacons
to direct their foes where they might be found.
In open daylight I shouldn't fear a host of savages behind these stout
logs, and they without any cover to skulk into," added Hutter, when he had
explained to his guests the reasons why he forbade the use of lights;," for
I've three or four trusty weapons always loaded; and Killdeer, in particular,
is a piece that never misses. But it's a different thing at night. A canoe
might get upon us unseen in the dark; and the savages have so many
.cunning ways of attacking, that I look upon it as bad enough to deal with
'em under a bright sun. I built this dwelling in order to have 'em at arm's
length in case we should ever get to blows again. Some people think it's
too open and exposed, but I'm for anchoring out here, clear of underbrush
and thickets, as the surest means of making a safe berth."
"The great object for people posted like ourselves is to command the
water. As long as there is no other craft on the lake, a barque canoe is as
good as a man-of-war, since the castle will not be easily taken by swimming.
Now, there are but five canoes remaining in these parts, two of which are
mine and one is Hurry's. These three we have with us here-one being
fastened in the canoe-dock beneath the house, and the other two being
.alongside the scow. The other canoes are housed on the shore, in hollow
logs; and the savages, who are such venomous enemies, will leave no
likely place unexamined in the morning, if they're serious in s'arch of
Now, friend Hutter," interrupted Hurry, the Indian don't live that
can find a canoe that is suitably wintered. I've done something at this
26 THE DEERSLAYER.
business before now, and Deerslayer here knows that I am one that can
hide a craft in such a way that I can't find it myself."
"Very true, Hurry," put in the person to whom the appeal had been
made, but you overlook the sarcumstance that if you couldn't see the
trail of the man who did the job I could. I'm of Master Hutter's mind,
that it's far wiser to mistrust a savage's ingenuity than to build any great
expectations on his want of eyesight. If these two canoes can be got off
to the castle, therefore, the sooner it's done the better."
Will you be of the party that's to do it ?" demanded Hutter, in a way
to show that the proposal both surprised and pleased him.
Sartain. I'm ready to enlist in any enterprise that's not ag'in a white
man's lawful gifts. Natur' orders us to defend our lives, and the lives of
others, too, when there's occasion and opportunity. I'll follow you, Float-
ing Tom, into the Mingo camp on such an arr'nd, and will strive to do my
duty should we come to blows; though, never having been tried in battle,
I don't like to promise more than I may be able to perform. We all know
our wishes, but none know their might till put to the proof."
At any rate, we know that you can use a paddle, young man," said
Hutter, and that is all we shall ask of you to-night. Let us waste no.
more time, but get into the canoe, and do, in place of talking."
Had there been a temple reared to God in that solitary wilderness, its
clock would have told the hour of midnight as the party set forth on their
expedition. The darkness had increased, though the night was still clear,
and the light of the stars sufficed for all the purposes of the adventurers.
Hutter alone knew the places where the two canoes were hid, and he
directed the course, while his two athletic companions raised and dipped
their paddles with proper caution, lest the sounds should be carried
to the ears of their enemies across that sheet of placid water, in the
stillness of .deep night. But the barque was too light to require any extra-
ordinary efforts, and skill supplying the place of strength, in about half
an hour they were approaching the shore, at a point near a league from
--Lay .-_ your paddles, men," said Hutter, in a low voice, and let us look
about us for a moment. We must now be all eyes and ears, for these vermin
have noses like bloodhounds."
The shores of the lake were examined closely, in order to discover any
glimmering of light that might have been left in a camp; and the men
strained their eyes in the obscurity to see whether some thread of smoke
was not still stealing along the mountain side, as it arose from the dying
embers of a fire. Nothing unusual could be traced; and as the position
was at some. distance from the outlet, or the spot where the savages had
been met, it was thought safe to land. The paddles were plied again, and
the bows of the canoe ground upon the gravelly beach with a gentle motion,
and a sound barely audible. Hutter and Hurry immediately landed, the
former carrying his own and his friend's rifle, leaving Deerslayer in charge
of the canoe. The hollow log lay a little distance up the side of the moun-
tain, and the old man led the way towards it, using so much caution as to
stop at every third or fourth step, to listen if any tread betrayed the
presence of a foe. The same deathlike stillness, however, reigned on the
midnight scene, and the desired place was reached without an occurrence
to induce alarm.
"This is it," whispered Hatter, laying a foot on the trunk of a fallen
THE DEERSLA YER.
linden; "hand me the paddles first, and draw the boat out with care for
the wretches may have left it for a bait, after all."
"Keep my riflelhandy, butt towards me, old fellow," answered Hurry.
"If they attack me loaded, I shall want to unload the piece at 'em, at least.
And feel whether the pan is full."
"All's right," muttered the other; "move slow when you get your load,.
and let me lead the way."
The canoe was drawn out of the log with the utmost care, raised by
Hurry to his shoulder, and the two began to return to the shore, moving
but a step at a time, lest they should tumble down the steep declivity. The
distance was not great, but the descent was extremely difficult; and towards
the end of their little journey, Deerslayer was obliged to land and meet
them, in order to aid in lifting the canoe through the bushes. With his.
assistance the task was successfully accomplished, and the light craft soon
floated by the side of the other canoe. This was no sooner done than all
three turned anxiously toward the forest and the mountain, expecting an
enemy to break out of the one, or to come rushing down the other. Still
the silence was unbroken, and they all embarked with the caution that had
been used in coming ashore.
Hutter now steered broad off towards the centre of the lake. Having got
a sufficient distance from the shore, he cast his prize loose, knowing that it
would drift slowly up the lake before the light southerly air, and intending
to find it on his return. Thus relieved of his tow, the old man held his.
way down the lake, steering towards the very point where Hurry had made-
his fruitless attempt on the life of the deer. As the distance from this
point to the outlet was less than a mile, it was like entering an enemy's
country, and redoubled caution became necessary. They reached the ex-
tremity of the point, however, and landed in safety on the little gravelly
beach already mentioned. Unlike the last place at which they had gone
ashore, here was no acclivity to ascend, the mountains looming up in the
darkness quite a quarter of a mile further west, leaving a margin of level
ground between them and the strand. The point itself, though long and
covered with tall trees, was nearly flat, and for some distance only a few
yards in width. Hutter and Hurry landed, as before, leaving their com-
panion in charge of the boat.
In this instance the dead tree that contained the canoe of which they
had come in quest, lay about half-way between the extremity of the narrow
slip of land and the place where it joined the main shore; and knowing
that there was water so near him on his left the old man led the way along
the eastern side of the belt with some confidence, walking boldly, though
still with caution. He had landed at the point expressly to get a glimpse
into the bay, and to make certain that the coast was clear, otherwise he
would have come ashore directly abreast of the hollow tree. There was no.
difficulty in finding the latter, from which the canoe was drawn as before;
and instead of carrying it down to the place where Deerslayer lay, it was
launched at the nearest favourable spot. As soon as it was in the water
Hurry entered it and paddled round to the point, whither Hutter also pro-
ceeded, following the beach. As the three men had now in their possession
all the boats on the lake their confidence was greatly increased, and there
was no longer the same feverish desire to quit the shore, or the same
necessity for extreme caution. Their position on the extremity of the long
narrow bit of land added to the feeling of security, as it permitted an.
28 THE DEERSLA YER.
enemy to approach in only one direction, that in their front, and in cir-
cumstances that would render discovery, with their habitual vigilance,
almost certain. The three now landed together and stood grouped in con-
sultation on the gravelly point.
We've fairly tree'd the scamps," said Hurry, chuckling at their success;
"if they wish to visit the castle, let 'em wade or swim! Old Tom, that
idee of your'n, in burrowing out in the lake, was high proof, and carries a
fine head. There be men who would think the land safer than the water;
but after all, reason shows it isn't; the beaver and rats, and other earnedd
creature's taking to the last when hard pressed. I call our position now
entrenched, and set the Canadas at defiance,"
Let us paddle along this south shore," said Hutter, "and see whether
there's no sign of an encampment; but first, let me have a better look into
the bay, for no one has been far enough round the inner shore of the point
to make sure of that quarter yet."
SAs Hutter ceased speaking, all three moved in the direction he had
named. Scarce had they fairly opened the bottom of the bay, when a
general start proved that their eyes had lighted on a common object at the
same instant. It was no more than a dying brand giving out its flickering
and failing light; but at that hour and in that place it was at once as con-
spicuous as a good deed in a naughty world." There was not a shadow
of doubt that this fire had been kindled at an encampment of the Indians.
The situation, sheltered from observation on all sides but one, and even on
that except for a very short distance, proved that more care had been taken
to conceal the spot than would be used for ordinary purposes, and Hutter,
who knew that a spring was near at hand, as well as one of the best fishing
stations on the lake, immediately inferred that this encampment contained
the women and children of the party.
That's'not a warriors' encampment," he growled to Hurry; "and
there's bounty enough sleeping round that fire to make a heavy division of
lead-money. Send the lad to the canoes, for there'll come no good of him
in such an onset, and let us take the matter in hand at once like men."
There's judgment in your notion, old Tom, and I like it to the backbone.
Deerslayer, do you get into the canoe, lad, and paddle off into the lake with
-the spare one and set it adrift as we did with the other; after which you can
float along shore as near as you can get to the head of the bay, keeping
-outside the point, however, and outside the rushes too. You can hear us
when we want you; and if there's any delay I'll call like a loon-yes, that'll
do it-the call of a loon shall be the signal. If you hear rifles and feel
like soldiering, why you may close in and see if you can make the same
hand with the savages that you do with the deer."
"If my wishes could be followed, this matter would not be undertaken,,
Quite true-nobody denies it, boy; but your wishes can't be followed;
and that inds the matter. So just canoe yourself off into the middle of
the lake, and by the time you get back there'll be movements in that
The young man set about complying with great reluctance and a heavy
.heart. He knew the prejudices of the frontier men too well, however,
to attempt a remonstrance. The latter, indeed, in the circumstances,
might prove dangerous, as it would certainly prove useless. He paddled
vthe canoe, therefore, silently and with the former caution, to a spot near the
THE DEERSLA YER. 29;
, centre of the placid sheet of water, and set the boat just recovered adrift,
to float towards the castle before the light southerly air. This expedient
had been adopted in both cases under the certainty that the drift could not
carry the light barque more than a league or two before the return of light,
when they might easily be overtaken. In order to prevent any wandering
savage from using them by swimming off and getting possession, a possible
but scarcely a probable event, all the paddles were retained.
No sooner had he set the recovered canoe adrift than Deerslayer turned
Sthe bows of his own towards the point on the shore that had been indicated
by Hurry. So light was the movement of the little craft, and so steady the
sweep of its master's arm, that ten minutes had not elapsed ere it was again
approaching the land, having in that brief time passed over fully half a
mile of distance. As soon as Deerslayer's eye caught a glimpse of the
rushes, of which there were many growing in the water a hundred feet
from the shore, he arrested the motion of the canoe and anchored his boat
by holding fast to the delicate but tenacious stem of one of the drooping
plants. Here he remained, awaiting with an intensity of suspense that can
be easily imagined the result of the hazardous enterprise.
It might have been an hour and a half after his companions and he had
parted when Deerslayer was aroused by a sound that filled him equally
with concern and surprise. The quavering call of a loon arose from the
opposite side of the lake, evidently at no great distance from its outlet.
There was no mistaking the note of this bird, which is so familiar to all
who know the sounds of the American lakes. Shrill, tremulous, loud and
sufficiently prolonged, it seems the very cry of warning. It is often raised
also at night-an exception to the habits of most of the other feathered
Inmates of the wilderness-a circumstance which had induced Hurry to
select it as his own signal. There had been sufficient time, certainly, for
the two adventurers to make their way by land from the point where they
had been left to that whence the call had come, but it was not probable
that they would adopt such a course. Had the camp been deserted, they
would have summoned Deerslayer to the shore, and did it prove to be
peopled, there could be no sufficient motive for circling it in order to re-
embark at so great a distance. Should he obey the signal and be drawn away
from the landing, the lives of those who depended on him might be the
forfeit; and should he neglect the call, on the supposition that it had been
really made, the consequences might be equally disastrous, though from a
different cause. In this indecision he waited, trusting that the call, whether
I feigned or natural, would be speedily renewed. Nor was he mistaken. A
very few minutes elapsed before the same shrill, warning cry was repeated,
and from the same part of the lake. This time, being on the alert, his
senses were not deceived. Although he had often heard admirable imita-
tions of this bird, and was no mean adept himself in raising its notes, he
felt satisfied that Hurry, to whose efforts in that way he had attended,
could never so completely and closely follow nature. He determined there-
fore, to disregard that cry, and to wait for one less perfect, and nearer at
Deerslayer had hardly come to this determination, when the profound
stillness of night and solitude was broken by a cry so startling as to drive
all recollection of the more melancholy call of the loon from the listener's
mind. It was a shriek of agony that came either from one of the female sex,
or from a boy so young as not yet to have attained a manly voice. This.
30 THE DEERSLA YER.
appeal could not be mistaken. Heartrending terror-if not writhing agony
-was in the sounds, and the anguish that had awakened them was as
sudden as it was fearful. The young man released his hold of the rush,
and dashed his paddle into the water-to do he knew not what, to steer he
knew not whither. A very few moments, however, removed his indecision.
The breaking of branches, the cracking of dried sticks, and the fall of feet
were all distinctly audible, the sounds appearing to approach the water,
though in a direction that led diagonally towards the shore, and a little
farther north than the spot that Deerslayer had been ordered to keep near.
Following this clue, the young man urged the canoe ahead, paying but
little attention to the manner in which he might betray its presence. He
had reached a part of the shore where its immediate bank was tolerably
high and quite steep. Men were evidently threshing through the bushes
and trees on the summit of this bank, following the line of the shore as if
those who fled sought a favourable place for defending. Just at this instant
five or six rifles flashed, and the opposite hills gave back as usual the sharp
reports in prolonged, rolling echoes. One or two shrieks, like those which
escape the bravest when suddenly overcome by unexpected anguish and
alarm, followed, and then the threshing among the bushes was renewed in
a way to show that man was grappling with man.
"Slippery devil! shouted Hurry, with the fury of disappointment; his
skin's greased I shan't grapple Take that for your cunning "
The words were followed by the fall of some heavy object among the
smaller trees that fringed the bank, appearing to Deerslayer as if his
gigantic associate had hurled an enemy from him in this unceremonious
manner. Again the flight and pursuit were renewed, and then the young
man saw a human form break down the hill and rush several yards into the
water. At this critical moment the canoe was just near enough to the spot i
to allow this movement, which was accompanied by no little noise, to be seen
and feeling that there he must take in his companions, if anywhere, Deer-
slayer urged the canoe forward to the rescue. His paddle had not been i
raised twice when the voice of Hurry was heard filling the air with impreca-
tions, and he rolled on the narrow beach, literally loaded down with enemies.
While prostrate and almost smothered with his foes, the athletic frontier
man gave his loon-call in a manner that would have excited laughter in
circumstances less terrific. The figure in the water seemed suddenly to
repent his own flight, and rushed to the shore to aid his companion, but
was met and immediately overpowered by half-a-dozen fresh pursuers, who
just then came leaping down the bank.
"Let up, you painted riptyles-let up! cried Hurry, too hard pressed to
be particular about the terms he used; 'isn't it enough that I'm withed like
a saw-log, that ye must choke too ? "
This speech satisfied Deerslayer that his friends were prisoners, and that
to land would be to share their fate. He was already within a hundred
feet of the shore, when a few timely strokes of the paddle not only arrested
his advance, but forced him off to six or eight times that distance from his
enemies. Luckily for him, all of the Indians had dropped their rifles in
the pursuit, or this retreat might not have been effected with impunity;
though no one had noted the canoe in the first confusion of the milee.
Keep off the land, lad," called out Hutter; the girls depend only on
you, now: you will want all your caution to escape these savages. Keep
off, and God prosper you, as you aid my children."
THE DEERSLA YER. 31
There was little sympathy, in general, between Hutter and the young
nman, but the bodily and mental anguish with which this appeal was made
served at the moment to conceal from the latter the former's faults. He
saw only the father in his sufferings, and resolved at once to give a pledge
Sof fidelity to his interests, and to be faithful to his word.
"Put your heart at ease, Master Hutter," he called out; "the gals shall
1.: looked to, as well as the castle. The inimy has got the shore, 'tis no
juse to deny, but he hasn't got the water. Providence has the charge of all,
and no one can say what will come of it; but if good-will can sarve you
i.l vour'n, depend on that much. My experience is small, but my will is
** Ay-ay, Deerslayer," returned Hurry, in his stentorian voice, which
'i.. losing some of its heartiness, notwithstanding-"Ay, ay, Deerslayer
-.,,t r ean well enough, but what can you do ? You're no great matter in the
i.. t of times, and such a person is not likely to turn out a miracle in the
i.-..,.t. If there's one savage on this lake shore, there's forty, and that's
a,,i ,rnmy you ar'n't the man to overcome. The best way, in my judgment,
will be to make a straight course to the castle; get the gals into the canoe
with a few eatables; then strike off for the corner of the lake where we
-came in, and take the best trail for the Mowhawk. These devils won't
Know where to look for you for some hours, and if they did, and went off
Shot in the pursuit, they must turn either the foot or the head of the lake
to get at you. That's my judgment in the matter ; and if old Tom here
wishes to make his last will and testament in a manner favourable to his
darters, he'll say the same."
"Twill never do young man," rejoined Hutter. The enemy has scouts
-out at this moment, looking for canoes, and you'll be seen and taken.
Trust to the castle, and above all things keep clear of the land. Hold out
.a week and parties from the garrisons will drive the savages off."
Twon't be four-and-twenty hours, old fellow, afore these foxes will be
rafting off to storm your castle," interrupted Hurry, with more of the
heat of argument than might be expected from a man who was bound and
a captive, and about whom nothing could be called free but his opinions
and his tongue. Your advice has a stout sound, but it will have a fatal
tartuination. If you or I was in the house,we might hold out a few days,
but remember that this lad has never seen an inimy afore to-night, and is
what you yourself called settlement-conscienced; though, for my part, I
think the consciences in the settlements pretty much the same as they are out
here in the woods. These savages are making signs, Deerslayer, for me to
encourage you to come ashore with the canoe ; but that I'll never do, as it's
ag'in reason and natur'. As for old Tom and myself, whether they'll scalp
us to-night, keep us for the torture by fire, or carry us to Canada, is more
than any one knows, but the devil that advises them how to act. I've such
a big and bushy head, that it's quite likely they'll indiver to get two scalps
off it, for the bounty is a tempting thing, or old Tom and I wouldn't be in
this scrape. Ay-there they go with their signs ag'in, but if I advise you
to land, may they eat me as well as roast me. No, no, Deerslayer-do you
keep off where you are, and after daylight on no account come within two
This injunction of Hurry's was stopped by a hand being rudely slapped
.against his mouth, the certain sign that some one in the party sufficiently
understood English to have at length detected the drift of his discourse,
THE DEERSLA YER.
Immediately after, the whole group entered the forest, Hutter and Hurry
apparently making no resistance to the movement. Just as the sounds of
the cracking bushes were ceasing, however, the voice of the father was
As you're true to my children, God prosper you, young man! were.
the words that reached Deerslayer's ears ; after which he found himself left
to follow the dictates of his own discretion.
Several minutes elapsed in deathlike stillness, when the party on the
shore had disappeared in the woods. Owing to the distance, rather more-
than two hundred yards, and the obscurity, Deerslayer had been able barely
to distinguish the group, and to see it retiring; but even this dim connec-
tion with human forms gave an animation to the scene that was strongly in
contrast to the absolute solitude that remained. Although the young man.
leaned forward to listen, holding his breath and condensing every faculty
in the single sense of hearing, not another sound reached his ears to denote-
the vicinity of human beings. It seemed as if a silence that had never been
broken reigned on the spot again; and, for an instant, even that piercing
shriek which had so lately broken the stillness of the forest, or the execra-
tions of Hurry, would have been a relief to the feeling of desertion to which
it gave rise.
This paralysis of mind and body, however, could not last long in one-
constituted mentally and physically like Deerslayer. Dropping his paddle
into the water, he turned the head of the canoe, and proceeded slowly, as.
one walks who thinks intently, towards the centre of the lake. When he-
believed himself to have reached a point in a line with that where he had.
set the last canoe adrift, he changed his direction northward, keeping the
light air as nearly on his back as possible. After paddling a quarter of a.
mile in this direction, a dark object became visible on the lake, a little to
the right; and turning on one side for the purpose, he had soon secured his
lost prize to his own boat. Deerslayer now examined the heavens, the
course of the air, and the position of the two canoes. Finding nothing in
either to induce a change of plan, he lay down and prepared to catch a few
hours' sleep, that the morrow might find him equal to its exigencies.
Although the hardy and the tired sleep profoundly, even in scenes of
danger, it was some time before Deerslayer lost his recollection. His mind:
dwelt on what had passed, and his half-conscious faculties kept figuring the.
events of the night in a sort of waking dream. Suddenly he was up and
alert, for he fancied he heard the preconcerted signal of Hurry, summoning
him to the shore. But all was still as the grave again. The canoes were
slowly drifting northward, the thoughtful stars were glimmering in their-
mild glory over his head, and the forest-bound sheet of water lay embedded
between its mountains, as calm and melancholy as if never troubled by the
winds, or brightened by a noonday sun. Once more the loon raised his
tremulous cry near the foot of the lake, and the mystery of the alarm was
explained. Deerslayer adjusted his hard pillow, stretched his form in the-
bottom of the canoe, and slept.
THE DEE RSLA YEA. 33
DAY had fairly dawned before the young man, whom we have left in the
situation described in the last chapter, again opened his eyes. This was
no sooner done than he started up, and looked about him with the eager-
ness of one who suddenly felt the importance of accurately ascertaining his
precise position. His rest had been deep and undisturbed; and when he
awoke, it was with a clearness of intellect and a readiness of resources that
Were much needed at that particular moment. The sun had not risen, it was
true, but the vault of heaven was rich with the winning softness that
"brings and shuts the day," while the whole air was filled with the carols
of birds, the hymns of the feathered tribe. These sounds first told Deer-
slayer the risks he ran. The air, for windit could scarce be called, was still
light, it is true, but it had increased a little in the course of the night, and
as the canoes were mere feathers on the water, they had drifted twice the
expected distance; and, what was still more dangerous, had approached so
near the base of the mountain that here rose precipitously from the eastern
shore, as to render the carols of the birds plainly audible. This was not
the worst. The third canoe had taken the same direction, and was slowly
drifting towards a point where it must inevitably touch, unless turned aside
by a shift of wind or human hands. In other respects nothing presented
itself to attract attention, or to awaken alarm. The castle stood on its
shoal, nearly abreast of the canoes, for the drifts had amounted to miles in
the course of the night, and the ark lay fastened to its piles, as both had
been left so many hours before.
As a matter of course, Deerslayer's attention was first given to the canoe
ahead. It was already quite near the point, and a very few strokes of the
paddle sufficed to tell him that it must touch before he could possibly over-
take it. Just at this moment, too, the wind inopportunely freshened,
1 rendering the drift of the light craft much more rapid and certain. Feeling
Sthe impossibility of preventing a contact with the land, the young man
Wisely determined not to heat himself with unnecessary exertions; but,
first looking to the priming of his piece, he proceeded slowly and warily
Stewards the point, taking care to make a little circuit, that he might be
Exposed on only one side as he approached.
When about a hundred yards from the shore, Deerslayer rose in the
canoe, gave three or four vigorous strokes with the paddle, sufficient of
themselves to impel the barque to land, and then quickly laying aside the
instrument of labour, he seized that of war. He was in the very act of
raising the rifle, when a sharp report was followed by the buzz of a bullet
I that passed so near his body as to cause him involuntarily to start. The
next instant Deerslayer staggered, and fell his whole length in the bottom
Sof the canoe. A yell-it came from a single voice-followed, and an Indian
leaped from the bushes upon the open area of the point, bounding towards
the canoe. This was the moment the young man desired. He rose on the
instant, and levelled his own rifle at his uncovered foe; but his finger hesi-
tated about pulling the trigger on one whom he held at such a disadvan-
tage. This little delay probably saved the life of the Indian, who bounded
back into the cover as swiftly as he had broken out of it. In the meantime
Deerslayer had been swiftly approaching the land, and his own canoe
reached the point just as his enemy disappeared. As its movements had
not been directed, it touched the shore a few yards from the other boet ;
and though the rifle of his foe had to be loaded, there was not time to
secure his prize and to carry it beyond danger before he would be exposed
to another shot. Under the circumstances, therefore, he did not pause an
instant, but dashed into the woods and sought a cover.
On the immediate point there was a small open area, partly in native
grass and partly beach, but a dense fringe of bushes lined its upper side.
This narrow belt of dwarf vegetation passed, one issued immediately into
the high and gloomy vaults of the forest. The land was tolerably level for
a few hundred feet, and then it rose precipitously in a mountain-side. The
trees were tall, large, and so free from underbrush, that they resembled vast
columns, irregularly scattered, upholding a dome of leaves. Although they
stood tolerably close together for their ages and size, the eye could penetrate
to considerable distances; and bodies of men even might have engaged
beneath their cover with concert and intelligence.
Deerslayer knew that his adversary must be employed in re-loading
unless he had fled. The former proved to, be the case, for the young man
had no sooner placed himself behind a tree, than he caught a glimpse of
the arm of the Indian, his body being concealed by an oak, in the very act
of forcing the leathered bullet home. Nothing would have been easier
than to spring forward, and decide the affair by a close assault on his un-
prepared foe; but every feeling of Deerslayer revolted at such a step,
although his own life had just been attempted from a cover. He was yet
unpractised in the ruthless expedients of savage warfare, of which he knew
nothing except by tradition and theory, and it struck him as an unfair
advantage to assail an unarmed foe. His colour had heightened, his eye-
frowned, his lips were compressed, and all his energies were collected and
ready; but, instead of advancing to fire, he dropped his rifle to the usual
position of a sportsman in readiness to catch his aim, and muttered to
himself, unconscious that he was speaking,--
"No, no-that may be red-skin warfare, but it's not a Christian's gifts.
Let the miscreant charge, and then we'll take it out like men; for the-
canoe he must not, and shall not, have. No, no; let him have time to load,
and God will take care of the right!"
All this time the Indian had been so intent on his own movements, that
he was even ignorant that his enemy was in the wood. His only appre-
hension was, that the canoe would be recovered and carried away before
he might be in readiness to prevent it. He had sought the cover from
habit, but was within a few feet of the fringe of bushes, and could be at
the margin of the forest, in readiness to fire in a moment. The distance
between him and his enemy was about fifty yards, and the trees were so
arranged by nature that the line of sight was not interrupted except by
the particular trees behind which each party stood.
His rifle was no sooner loaded, than the savage glanced around him, and
advanced incautiously as regarded the real, but stealthily as respected the
fancied position of his enemy, until he was fairly exposed. Then Deer-
slayer stepped from behind his own cover, and hailed him.
This-a-way, red-skin: this-a-way, if you're looking for me," he called
out; "I'm young in war, but not so young as to stand on an open beach
to be shot down like an owl by daylight. It rests on yourself whether it's.
THE DEERSLA YER. 35
Space or war atween us; for my gifts are white gifts, and I'm not one of
them that thinks it valiant to slay human mortals singly in the woods."
The savage was a good deal startled by this sudden discovery of the
the danger he ran. He had a little knowledge of English, however, and
caught the drift of the other's meaning. He was also too well schooled to
betray alarm, but dropping the butt of his rifle to the earth, with an air
Sof confidence he made a gesture of lofty courtesy. All this was done with
Sthe ease and self-possession of one accustomed to consider no man his
superior. In the midst of this consummate acting, however, the volcano
that raged within caused his eyes to glare, and his nostrils to dilate, like
those of some wild beast that is suddenly prevented from taking the fatal
"Two canoe," he said, in the deep guttural tones of his race, holding
Sup the number of fingers he mentioned, by way of preventing mistakes;
"one for you-one for me."
No, no, Mingo, that will never do. You own neither, and neither shall
you have, as long as I can prevent it. I know it's war atween your people
and mine, but that's no reason why human mortals should slay each other,
like savage creature's that meet in the woods: go your way then, and leave
me to go mine. The world is large enough for us both; and when we
meet fairly in battle, why, the Lord will order the fate of each of us."
"Good!" exclaimed the Indian; "my brother missionary-great talk;
all about Manitou."
"Not so, not so, warrior. I'm not good enough for the Moravians, and
Sam too good for most of the other vagabonds that preach about in the
Woods. No, no, I'm only a hunter as yet, though afore the peace is made,
'tis like enough there'll be occasion to strike a blow at some of your
People. Still, I wish it to be done in fair fight, and not in a quarrel about
the ownership of a miserable canoe."
Good My brother very young, but he very wise. Little warrior-
great talker. Chief sometimes in council."
"I don't know this, nor do I say it, Indian," returned Deerslayer, colour-
ing a little at the ill-concealed sarcasm of the other's manner; "I look
forward to a life in the woods, and I only hope it may be a peaceable one.
All young men must go on the war-path when there's occasion, but war
isn't needfully massacre. I've seen enough of the last, this very night, to
know that Providence frowns on it; and I now invite you to go your own
Sway, while I go mine; and hope that we may part friends."
S "Good; My brother has two scalp-grey hair under t'other. Old
Here the savage advanced with confidence, his hand extended, his face
smiling, and his whole bearing denoting amity and respect. Deerslayer
Smet his offered friendship in a proper spirit, and they shook hands cor-
dially, each endeavouring to assure the other of his sincerity and desire
Sto be at peace.
All have his own," said the Indian; "my canoe, mine; your canoe,
' your'n. Go look; if your'n, you keep; if mine, I keep."
That's just, red-skin; though you must be wrong in thinking the
Scanoe your property. However, seein' is believin', and we'll go down to
the shore, where you may look with your own eyes; for it's likely you'll
object to trustin' altogether to mine."
The Indian uttered his favourite exclamation of good !" and then they
36 THE DEERSLA YER.
walked, side by side, towards the shore. There was no apparent distrust
in the manner of either, the Indian moving in advance, as if he wished to
show his companion that he did not fear turning his back to him. As
they reached the open ground the former pointed towards Deerslayer's
boat, and said, emphatically,-
No mine-pale-face canoe. This red man's, No want other man's
canoe-want his own."
You're wrong, red-skin; you're altogether wrong. This canoe was left
in old Hutter's keeping, and is his'n, according to all law, red or white, till
its owner comes to claim it. Here's the seats and the stitching of the bark
to speak for themselves. No man ever know'd an Indian to turn off such
Good! My brother little old-big wisdom. Indian no make him.
White man's work."
"I'm glad you think so, for holding out to the contrary might have
made ill blood atween us; every one having a right to take possession of
his own. I'll just shove the canoe out of reach of dispute at once, as the
quickest way of settling difficulties."
While Deerslayer was speaking, he put a foot against the end of the light
boat, and giving a vigorous shove, he sent it out into the lake a hundred feet
or more, where, taking the true current, it would necessarily float past the
point, and be in no further danger of coming ashore. The savage started at
this ready and decided expedient, and his companion saw that he cast a hur-
ried and fierce glance at his own canoe, or that which contained the paddles.
The change of manner, however, was but momentary, and then the Iroquois
resumed his air of friendliness and a smile of satisfaction.
"Good!" he repeated, with stronger emphasis than ever. "Young
head, old mind. Know how to settle quarrel. Farewell, brother. He go
to house in water-musk-rat house-Indian go to caunp; tell chief no find
Deerslayer was not sorry to hear this proposal, for he felt anxious to join
the girls, and he took the offered hand of the Indian very willingly. The
parting words were friendly; and while the red man walked calmly towards
the wood, with the rifle in the hollow of his arm, without once looking
back in uneasiness or distrust, the white man moved towards the remaining
canoe, carrying his piece in the same pacific manner, it is true, but keeping
his eyes fastened on the movements of the other. This distrust, however,
seemed to be altogether uncalled for, and, as if ashamed to have enter-
tained it, the young man averted his look, and stepped carelessly up to his
boat. Here he began to push the canoe from the shore, and to make his
other preparations for departing. He might have been thus employed a
minute when, happening to turn his face towards the land, his quick and
certain eye told him at a glance the imminent jeopardy in which his life
was placed. The black, ferocious eyes of the savage were glancing on
him, like those of the crouching tiger, through a small opening in the
bushes, and the muzzle of his rifle seemed already to be opening in a line
with his own body.
Then, indeed, the long practice of Deerslayer, as a hunter, did him good
service. Accustomed to fire with the deer on the bound, and often when
the precise position of the animal's body had in a manner to be guessed at,
he used the same expedients here. To cock and poise his rifle were the
acts of a single moment, and a single motion; then, aiming almost without
THE DEERSLA YER.
silhti.g, he fired into the bushes where he knew a body ought to be, in
order to sustain the appalling countenance which alone was visible. There
was not time to raise the piece any higher, or to take a more deliberate aim.
So rapid were his movements that both parties discharged their pieces at
the same instant, the concussions mingling in one report. The mountains,
indeed, gave back but a single echo. Deerslayer dropped his piece, and
and stood with head erect, steady as one of the pines in the calm of a
June morning, watching the result; while the savage gave the yell that
has become historical for its appalling influence, leaped through the bushes,
arin. came bounding across the open ground, flourishing a tomahawk.
Still Deerslayer moved not, but stood with his unloaded rifle fallen against
hi : h.,ulders, while, with a hunter's habits, his hands were mechanically
f.t.-iL Z for the powder-horn and charger. When about forty feet from his
. ,. t;. the savage hurled his keen weapon; but it was with an eye so
t.l..,I t and a hand so unsteady and feeble, that the young man caught it
Iy ib .: handle as it was flying past him. At that instant the Indian stag-
I; I i nd fell his whole length on the ground.
** I L-now'd it-I know'd it "' exclaimed Deerslayer, who was already pre-
paring to force a fresh bullet into his rifle; I know'd it must come to this
as soon as I had got the rangefrom thecreatur's eyes. Aman sights suddenly,
and fires quick, when his own life's in danger; yes, I know'd it would come
to this. I was about the hundredth part of a second too quick for him, or
it might have been bad for me! The riptyle's bullet has just grazed my
side-but, say what you will, for or ag'in 'em, a red-skin is by no means as
sartain with powder and ball as a white man. Their gifts don't seem to
lie that-a-way. Even Chingachgook, great as he is in other matters, isn't
downright deadly with the rifle."
By this time the piece was reloaded, and Deerslayer, after tossing the
tomahawk into the canoe, advanced to his victim and stood over him, lean-
ing on his rifle in melancholy attention. It was the first instance in which
he had seen a man fall in battle-it was the first fellow-creature against
whom he had ever seriously raised his own hand. The sensations were
novel; and regret, with the freshness of our better feelings, mingled with
his triumph. The Indian was not dead, though shot directly through the
body. He lay on his back motionless, but his eyes now full of conscious-
ness, watched each action of his victor-as the fallen bird regards the
fowler-jealous of every movement. The man probably expected the fatal
blow, which was to precede the loss of his scalp; or, perhaps he anticipated
that this latter act of cruelty would precede his death. Deerslayer read his
thoughts, and he found a melancholy satisfaction in relieving the appre-
hensions of the helpless savage.
"No, no, red-skin," he said; "you've nothing more to fear from me. I
am of a Christian stock, and scalping is not of my gifts. I'll just make
sartain of your rifle, and then come back and do you what service I can.
Though here I can't stay much longer, as the crack of three rifles will be
apt to bring some of your devils down upon me."
The close of this was said in a sort of a soliloquy, as the young man went
in quest of the fallen rifle. The piece was found where its owner had
dropped it, and was immediately put into the canoe. Laying his own rifle
at its side, Deerslayer then returned and stood over the Indian again.
All inmity atween you and me's at an ind, red-skin," he said: and
you may set your heart at rest on the score of the scalp, or any further
38 THE DEERSLA YER.
injury. My gifts are white, as I've told you; and I hope my conduct will
be white also !"
Could looks have conveyed all they meant, it is probable Deerslayer's
innocent vanity on the subject of colour would have been rebuked a little:
but he comprehended the gratitude that was expressed in the eyes of the
dying savage, without in the least detecting the bitter sarcasm that
struggled with the better feeling.
"Water! ejaculated the thirsty and unfortunate creature; "give poor
Ay, water you shall have, if you drink the lake dry. I'll just carry you
down to it, that you may take your fill. This is the way, they tell me, with
all wounded people-water is their greatest comfort and delight."
So saying, Deerslayer raised the Indian in his arms, and carried him to
the lake. Here he first helped him to take an attitude in which he could
appease his burning
thirst; after which he
.-' seated himself on a
stone, and took the
head of his wounded
-I adversary in his own
lap, and endeavoured to
; t soothe his anguish in
the best manner he
"It would be sinful
in me to tell you your
time hadn't come, war-
rior," he commenced.
S "and therefore I'll not
say it. You've passed
the middle age already,
and, considering' the sort
of lives ye lead, your
days have been pretty
well fled. The prin-
cipal thing now is to
look forward to what
comes next. Neither red-skin nor pale-face, on the whole, calculates much
on sleeping' for ever; but both expect to live in another world. Each has
his gifts, and will be judged by 'em, and I suppose you've thought these
matters over enough, not to stand in need of sarmons, when the trial comes.
You'll find your happy hunting-grounds if you've been a just Indian; if
an unjust, you'll meet your desarts in another way. I've my own ideas
about these things ; but your too old and experienced to need any expla-
nations from one as young as I."
"Good! ejaculated the Indian, whose voice retained its depth even as
life ebbed away; ." young head-old wisdom! "
"It's sometimes a consolation, when the ind comes, to know that them
we've harmed, or tried to harm, forgive us. I suppose natur' seeks this
relief by way of getting a pardon on 'arth; as we never can know whether
He pardons, who is all in all, till judgment itself comes. It's soothing to
know that any pardon at such times ; and that, I conclude, is the secret.
THE DEERSLA YER
Now, as for myself, I overlook altogether your designs ag'in my life; first,
because no harm came of 'em; next, because it's your gifts, and natur', and
training and I ought not to have trusted you at all; and, finally and chiefly,
because I can bear no ill-will to a dying man, whether heathen or Christian.
SSo put your heart at ease, so far as I'm consarned ; you know best what
other matters ought to trouble you, or what ought to give you satisfaction,
in so trying a moment."
'" Good! he repeated-for this was an English word much used by the
savages-" good-young head; young heart, too. Old heart tough; no shed
tear. Hear Indian when he die, and no want to lie-what he call him ? "
"Deerslayer is the name I bear now, though the Delawares have said
that when I get back from this war-path, I shall have a more manly title,
provided I can 'am one."
That good name for boy-poor name for warrior. He get better quick.
No fear there "-the savage had strength sufficient, under the strong excite-
ment he felt, to raise a hand and tap the young man on his breast-" eye
sartain-finger lightning-aim death-great warrior soon. No Deerslayer
-Hawkeye-Hawkeye-Hawkeye. Shake hand."
Deerslayer-or Hawkeye, as the youth was then first named, for in after
years he bore the appellation throughout all that region-Deerslayer took
the hand of the savage, whose last breath was drawn in that attitude,
gazing in admiration at the countenance of a stranger who had shown so
much readiness, skill, and firmness, in a scene that was equally trying and
novel. When the reader remembers it is the highest gratification an Indian
can receive to see his enemy betray weakness, he will be better able to
Appreciate the conduct which had extorted so great a concession at such a
"His spirit has fled!" said Deerslayer, in a suppressed, melancholy
voice. "Ahs me! Well, to this we must all come, sooner or later; and
he is happiest, let his skin be of what colour it may, who is best fitted to
meet it. Here lies the body of, no doubt, a brave warrior, and the soul is
already flying towards its heaven or hell, whether that be a happy hunting-
Sground, a place scant of game; regions of glory, according to Moravian
doctrine, or flames of fire."
As the young man had no longer any motive to remain near the point,
he prepared to collect his canoes, in order to tow them off to the castle.
The nearest was soon in tow, when he proceeded in quest of the other,
which was all this time floating up the lake. The eye of Deerslayer was
no sooner fastened on this last boat than it struck him that it was nearer
to the shore than it would have been had it merely followed the course of
the gentle current of air. He began to suspect the influence of some un-
seen current in the water, and he quickened his exertions in order to regain
possession of it before it could drift in to a dangerous proximity to the
woods. On getting nearer, he thought that the canoe had a perceptible
motion through the water, and as it lay broadside to the. air, that this
motion was taking it towards the land. A few vigorous strokes of the
paddle carried him still nearer, when the mystery was explained. Some-
thing was evidently in motion on the off-side of the canoe, or that which
was furthest from himself, and closer scrutiny showed that it was a naked
human arm. An Indian was lying in the bottom of the canoe, and was
propelling it slowly, but certainly, to the shore, using his hand as a paddle.
SDeerslayer understood the whole artifice at a glance. A savage had swam
40 THE DEERSLAYER.
off to the boat while he was occupied with his enemy on the point, got
possession, and was-using these means to urge it to the shore.
Satisfied that the man in the canoe could have no arms, Deerslayer did
not hesitate to dash close alongside of the retiring boat, without deeming
it necessary to raise his own rifle. As soon as the wash of the water which
he made in approaching became audible to the prostrate savage, the latter
sprang to his feet and uttered an exclamation that proved how completely
he was taken by surprise.
If you've enj'yed yourself enough in that canoe, red-skin," Deerslayer
coolly observed, stopping his own career in sufficient time to prevent an
absolute collision between the two boats-" if you've enj'yed yourself
enough in that canoe, you'll do a prudent act by taking to the lake ag'in.
F'm reasonable in these matters, and don't crave your blood, though there's
them about that would look upon you more as a duebill for the bounty than a
human mortal. Take to the lake this minute, afore we get to hot words."
The savage was one of those who did not understand a word of English,
and he was indebted to the gestures of Deerslayer, and to the expression
of an eye that did not often deceive, for an imperfect comprehension of his
meaning. Perhaps, too, the sight of the rifle that lay so near the hand of
the white man quickened his decision. At all events, he crouched like a
tiger about to take his leap, uttered a yell, and the next instant his naked
body had disappeared in the water. When he rose to take breath it was
at the distance of several yards from the canoe, and the hasty glance he
,threw behind him denoted how much he feared the arrival of a fatal mes-
senger from the rifle of his foe. But the young man made no indication
of any hostile intention. Deliberately securing the canoe to the others, he
began to paddle from the shore, and by the time the Indian reached the
land and had shaken himself, like a spaniel on quitting the water, his
dreaded enemy was already beyond rifle-shot on his way to the castle.
By this time the sun had not only risen, but it had appeared over the
eastern mountains, and was shedding a flood of glorious light on this as
yet unchristened sheet of water. The whole scene was radiant with beauty;
and no one unaccustomed to the ordinary history of the woods, would
fancy it had so lately witnessed incidents so ruthless and barbarous. As
he approached the building of old Hutter, Deerslayer thought, or rather
felt, that its appearance was in singular harmony with all the rest of the
When Deerslayer drew nearer to the castle, however, objects of interest
presented themselves that at once eclipsed any beauties that might have
distinguished the scenery of the lake, and the site of the singular edifice.
Judith and Hetty stood on the platform before the door, Hurry's door-yard,
awaiting his approach with manifest anxiety; the former, from time to
time, taking a survey of his person and of the canoes, through the old
ship's spy-glass that has been already mentioned. Never probably did
this girl seem more brilliantly beautiful than at that moment; the flush of
anxiety and alarm increasing her colour to its richest tints, while the soft-
ness of her eyes, a charm that even poor Hetty shared with her, was deep-
ened by intense concern. Such, at least, without pausing, or pretending
to analyze motives, to draw any other very nice distinctions between cause
and effect, were the opinions of the young man as his canoes reached the
side of the ark, where he carefully fastened all three before he put his foot
on the platform.
THE DEERSLA YER.
NEITHER of the girls spoke, as Deerslayer stood before them alone, his
countenance betraying all the apprehension he felt on account of the two
absent members of their party.
Father! Judith at length exclaimed, succeeding in uttering the word,
:as it might be by a desperate effort.
"He's met with misfortune, and there's no use in concealing it," answered
Deerslayer, in his direct and simple-minded manner. "He and Hurry are
Sin Mingo hands, and Heaven only knows what's to be the termination.
I've got the canoes safe, and that's a consolation, since the vagabonds will
have to swim for it, or raft off, to come near this place. At sunset we'll
be reinforced by Chingachgook, if I can manage to get him into a canoe;
and then I think we two can answer for the ark and the castle, 'til some
of the officers in the garrisons hear of this war-path, which sooner or later
must be the case, when we may look for succour from that quarter, if from
no other. Your father has been acquainted with the sea, they tell me,
Judith," returned the young man, who could not forbear throwing a glance
Sof inquiry at the girl; for, in common with all who knew Hutter, he had some
curiosity on the subject of his early history. "Hurry Harry tells he was.
once a sailor."
Judith first looked perplexed; then, influenced by feelings that were
novel to her in more ways than one, she became suddenly communicative,
and seemingly much interested in the discourse.
"If Hurry knows anything of father's history, I would he had told it.
to me! she cried. "Sometimes I think, too, he was once a sailor, and
then again I think he was not. If that chest were open, or if it could speak,
it might let us into his whole history. But its fastenings are too strong to
be broken like pack-thread."
Deerslayer turned to the chest in question, and for the first time examined
it closely. Although discoloured, and bearing proofs of having received
much ill-treatment, he saw that it was of materials and workmanship
altogether superior to anything of the same sort he had ever before beheld.
The wood was dark, rich, and had once been highly polished, though the
treatment it had received left little gloss on its surface ; and various scratches
and indentations proved the rough collisions that it had encountered with
substances still harder than itself. The corners were firmly bound with steel,
elaborately and richly wrought, while the locks, of which it had no fewer
than three, and the hinges were of a fashion and workmanship that would
have attracted attention even in a warehouse of curious furniture. The
chest was large, too; and when Deerslayer arose, and endeavoured to raise
an end by its massive handle, he found that the weight fully corresponded
with the external appearance.
"You have not told us all, Deerslayer," said Judith, earnestly. "We
heard rifles under the eastern mountain; the echoes were full and long,.
and came so soon after the reports that the pieces must have been fired on
or quite near to the shore. Our ears are used to these signs, and are not to be.
deceived. You have been fighting the savages, Deerslayer, singly and by
yourself !" she said. In your wish to take care of us-of Hetty-of me,
42 THE DEERSLA YER.
perhaps-you've fought the enemy bravely, with no eye to encourage your
deeds, or to witness your fall, had it pleased Providence to suffer so great
a calamity !"
I've fou't, Judith; yes I have fou't the inimy, and that, too, for the first
time in my life. These things must be, and they bring with 'em a mixed
feeling' of sorrow and triumph. Human natur' is a fighting' natur'. I suppose,
as all nations kill in battle, and we must be true to our rights and gifts.
What has yet been done is no great matter, but should Chingachgook come
to the rock this evening, as is agreed atween us, and I get him off it, onbe-
known to the savages, or, if known to them, ag'in their wishes and designs,
then may we all look to something like warfare, afore the Mingos shall
get possession of either the castle, or the ark, or yourselves."
Who is this Chingachgook-from what place does he come-and why
does he come here ? "
The questions are natural and right, I suppose, though the youth has a
great name already in his own part of the country. Chingachgook is a
Mohican by blood, consorting with the Delawares by usage, as is the case
with most of his triple, which has long been broken up by the increase of
our colour. He is of the family of the great chiefs; Uncas, his father,
having been the considerablest warrior and counsellor of his people. Even
old Tamenund honours Chingachgook, though he is thought to be yet too
young to lead in war; and then the nation is so dispersed and diminished
that chieftainship among 'em has got to be little more than a name. Well,
this war having commenced in 'arnest, the Delaware and I rendezvous'd an
appointment to meet this evening at sunset, on the rendezvous-rock, at the
foot of this very lake, intending to come out on our first hostile expedition
ag'in the lMingos. Why we come exactly this-a-way is our own secret; but
thoughtful young men on a war-path, as you may suppose, do nothing
without a calculation and a design."
ADelaware can have no unfriendly intentions towards us," said Judith,
after a moment's hesitation, and we know you to be friendly."
Treachery is the last crime I hope to be accused of," returned Deerslayer,
hurt at the gleam of distrust that had shot through Judith's mind; "and,
least of all, treachery to my own colour."
"No one suspects you, Deerslayer," the girl impetuously cried. "No,
no-your honest countenance would be a sufficient surety for the truth of
a thousand hearts! What is the English of his Indian name ? "
Big Sarpent-so called for his wisdom and cunning. Uncas is his ra'al
name-all his family being called Uncas, until they get a title that has been
'arned by deeds."
"If he has all this wisdom, we may expect a useful friend in him, unless
his own business in this part of the country should prevent him from serv-
I see no great harm in telling you his 'arn'd, after all, and, as you may
find means to help us, I will let you and Hetty into the whole matter, trust-
ing that you'll keep the secret as if it was your own. You must know that
Chingachgook is a comely Indian, and is much looked upon and admired
by the young women of his tribe, both on account of his family, and on
account of himself. Now, there is a chief that has a daughter called Wah-
ta!-Wah, which is interpreted into Hist-oh!-Hist in the English tongue,
the rarest gal among the Delawares, and the one most sought after and
craved for a wife by all the young warriors of the nation. Well, Chin-
THE DEERSLA YER.
gachgook, among others, took a fancy to Wah-ta !-Wah, and Wah-ta !-Wah
took a fancy to him." Here Deerslayer paused an instant; for as he got
thus far in his tale, Hetty Hutter arose, approached and stood attentive at
his knee, as a child draws near to listen to the legends of its mother. Yes,
he fancied her, and she fancied him," resumed Deerslayer, after casting
sa friendly and approving glance at the innocent and interesting girl; "and
when that is the case, and all the elders are agreed, it does not often
happen that the young couple keep apart. Chingachgook couldn't well
: carry off such a prize without making inimies among them that wanted her
as much as he did himself. A sartain Briarthorn, as we call him in English
or Yocommon, as he is tarmed in Indian, took it most to heart, and we
Mistrust him of having a hand in all that followed. Wah-ta !-Wah went
i with her father and mother, two moons ago, to fish for salmon, on the
western streams, where, it is agreed by all in these parts, that fish most
.abounds, and while thus empl'y'd the gal vanished. For several weeks we
could get no tidings of her; but here, ten days since, a runner that came
through the Delaware country, brought us a message, by which we learned
that Wah-ta !-Wah was stolen from her people-we think, but do not know it,
by Briarthorn's sarcumventions-and that she was now with the inimy, who
had adopted her, and wanted her to marry a young Mingo. The message
said that the party intended to hunt and forage through this region for a
month or two, afore it went back into the Canadas, and that if we could
-contrive to get on a scent in this quarter, something might turn up that
would lead to our getting the maiden off."
And how does that concern you, Deerslayer ? demanded Judith, a little
"It consarns me, as all things that touches a fri'nd consarns a fri'nd.
I'm here as Chingachgook's aid and h elper, and if we can get the young
maiden he likes back ag'in, it will give me almost as much pleasure as if I
had got back my own sweetheart."
"And where, then, is your sweetheart, Deerslayer ?"
She's in the forest, Judith-hanging from the boughs of the trees, in a
*soft rain-in the dew on the open grass-the clouds that float about in the
blue heavens-the birds that sing in the woods-the sweet springs where I
slake my thirst-and in all the other glorious gifts that come from God's
You mean that as yet you've never loved one of my sex, but love best
your haunts, and your own manner of life."
"That's it-that's just it."
At length the hour arrived when it became necessary to proceed to the
place of rendezvous appointed with the Mohican, or Delaware, as Chin-
gachgook was more commonly called. As the plan had been matured by
Deerslayer, and fully communicated to his companions, all three set about
its execution in concert, and intelligently. Hetty passed into the ark, and
fastening two of the canoes together, she entered one, and paddled up to
.a sort of gateway in the palisadoes that surrounded the building, through
which she carried both, securing them beneath the house by chains that
were fastened within the building. These palisadoes were trunks of
trees driven firmly into the mud, and served the double purpose of a small
enclosure, that was intended to be used in this very manner, and to keep
any enemy that might approach in boats at arm's length. Canoes thus
.docked were, in a measure, hid from sight, and as the gate was properly
THE DEERSLA YER.
barred and fastened, it would not be an easy task to remove them, even in,
the event of their being seen. Previously, however, to closing the gate,
Judith also entered within the enclosure with the third canoe, leaving
Deerslayer busy in securing the door and windows inside the building,
over her head. As everything was massive and strong, and small saplings
were used as bars, it would have been the work of an hour or two to break
into the building when Deerslayer had ended his task, even allowing the
assailants the use of any tools but the axe, and to be unresisted. This
attention to security arose from Hutter's having been robbed once or
twice by the lawless whites of the frontiers, during some of his many
absences from home.
As soon as all was fast in the inside of the dwelling, Deerslayer
appeared at a trap, from which he descended into the canoe of Judith.
When this was done he fastened the door with a massive staple and stout
padlock. Hetty was then received in the canoe, which was shoved out-
side of the palisadoes. The next precaution was to fasten the gate, and
the keys were carried into the ark. The three were now fastened out of
the dwelling, which could only be entered by violence, or by following the
course taken by the young man in quitting it.
The glass had been brought outside as a preliminary step, and Deer-
slayer next took a careful survey of the entire shore of the lake, as far
as his own position would allow. Not a living thing was visible, a few
birds excepted, and even the last fluttered about in the shade of the
trees, as if unwilling to encounter the heat of a sultry afternoon. All
the nearest points, in particular, were subjected to severe scrutiny, in
order to make certain that no raft was in preparation, the result every-
where giving the same picture of calm solitude.
Nothing is stirring, hows'ever," exclaimed Deerslayer, as he finally
lowered the glass, and prepared to enter the ark; "if the vagabonds
do harbour mischief in their minds, they are too cunning to let it be
seen; it's true a raft may be in preparation in the woods, but it has not yet
been brought down to the lake. They can't guess that we are about to
quit the castle, and if they did, they've no means of knowing where we
intend to go."
This is so true, Deerslayer," returned Judith, that now all is ready
we may proceed at once, boldly, and without the fear of being followed-
else we shall be behind our time."
No, no-the matter needs management; for though the savages are in
the dark as to Chingachgook and the rock, they've eyes and legs, and
will see in what direction we steer, and will be sartain to follow us. I
shall strive to baffle 'em, hows'ever, by heading the scow in all manner
of ways, first in one quarter and then in another, until they get to be a
leg-weary, and tired of tramping after us.
This artifice was well managed; since the sweep of the bay, the curva-
ture of the lake, and the low, marshy land that intervened, would probably
allow the ark to reach the rock, before its pursuers, if really collected near
the point, could have time to make the circuit that would be required to
get there by land. With a view to aid this deception, Deerslayer stood as
near the western shore as was at all prudent; and then, causing Judith
and Hetty to enter the house, or cabin, and crouching himself so as to.
conceal his person by the frame of the scow, he suddenly threw the head
of the latter round, and began to make the best of his way towards the
THE DEERSLA YER.
*outlet. Favoured by an increase in the wind, the progress of the ark w~as
such as to promise the complete success of this plan, though the crab-like
movement of the craft compelled the helmsman to keep its head looking in
a direction very different from that in which it was actually moving.
"Is the rock empty, Judith?" inquired Deerslayer, as soon as he had
checked the drift of the ark, deeming it imprudent to venture unneces-
:.' sarily near the shore. "Is anything to be seen of the Delaware chief ? "
"Nothing, Deerslayer. Neither rock, shore, tree, nor lake seems to
have ever held a human form."
"Keep close, Judith-keep close, Hetty-a rifle has a prying eye, a
nimble foot, and a desperate fatal tongue. Keep close, then, but keep up
actyve looks, and be on the alart. 'Twould grieve me to the heart did.any
Sharm befal either of you."
And you, Deerslayer! exclaimed Judith, turning her handsome face
from the loop to bestow a gracious and grateful look on the young man;
"do you 'keep close,' and have a proper care that the savages do not catch
a glimpse of you! A bullet might be as fatal to you as to one of us; and
the blow that you felt would be felt by all."
"No fear of me, Judith-no fear of me, my good gal. Do not look
this-a-way, although you look so pleasant and comely, but keep your eyes
on the rock and the shore, and the-"
Deerslayer was interrupted by a slight exclamation from the girl, who,
in obedience to his hurried gestures, as much as in obedience to his words,
had immediately bent her looks again in the opposite direction.
What is't ?-what is't, Judith ? he hastily demanded. "Is anything
to be seen ? "
"There is a man on the rock!-an Indian warrior, in his paint, and
Where does he wear his hawk's feather ? eagerly added Deerslayer,
relaxing his hold of the line, in readiness to drift nearer to the place of
rendezvous. Is it fast to the warlock, or does he carry it above the left
"'Tis as you say, above the left ear; he smiles, too, and mutters the
God be praised, 'tis the Sarpent, at last! exclaimed the young man,
suffering the line to slip through his hands, until hearing a light bound
m in the other end of the craft, he instantly checked the rope, and began to
haul it in again, under the assurance that his object was effected.
At that moment the door of the cabin was opened hastily, and a warrior,
Starting through the little room, stood at Deerslayer's side, simply uttering
the exclamation, "Hugh!" At the next instant, Judith and Hetty
shrieked, and the air was filled with the yell of twenty savages, who came
leaping through the branches, down the bank, some actually falling head-
long into the water, in their haste.
"Pull, Deerslayer," cried Judith, hastily barring the door, in order to
prevent an inroad by the passage through which the Delaware had jusi
46 THE DEERSLA YER.
entered; "pull for life and death-the lake is full of savages, wading
The young men-for Chingachgook immediately came to his friend's
assistance-needed no second bidding, but they applied themselves to their
task in a way that showed how urgent they deemed the occasion. The
great difficulty was in suddenly overcoming the vis inertice of so large a
mass; for, once in motion, it was easy to cause the scow to skim the water
with all the necessary speed.
"Pull, Deerslayer, for Heaven's sake !" cried Judith again at the loop.
'These wretches rush into the water like hounds following their prey!
Ah!-the scow moves! and now the water deepens to the armpits of the
foremost; still they rush forward, and will seize the ark !"
A slight scream, and then a joyous laugh followed from the girl; the
first produced by a desperate effort of their pursuers, and the last by its
failure; the scow, which had now got fairly in motion, gliding ahead into
deep water, with a velocity that set the designs of their enemies at nought.
As the two men were prevented by the position of the cabin from seeing
what passed astern, they were compelled to inquire of the girls into the
state of the chase.
What now, Judith ?-what next ?-Do the Mingos still follow, or are
we quit of 'em, for the present ? demanded Deerslayer, when he felt the
rope yielding, as if the scow was going fast ahead, and heard the scream
and the laugh of the girl, almost in the same breath.
They have vanished!-one, the last, is just burying himself in the
bushes of the bank-there, he has disappeared in the shadows of the
trees You have got your friend, and we are all safe "
"Well, Sarpent," asked Deerslayer, when the other had ended his brief
but. spirited narrative, speaking always in the Delaware tongue, which for
the reader's convenience only we render into the peculiar vernacular of
the speaker. "Well, Sarpent, as you've been scouting around these
Mingos, have you anything to tell us of their captyves; the father of these
young women, and another, who, I somewhat conclude, is the lovyer of one
of 'em ?"
Chingachgook has seen them. An old man and a young warrior-the
falling hemlock and the tall pine."
"You're not so much out, Delaware; you're not so much out. Old
Butter is decaying, of a sartainty, though many solid blocks might be
hewn out of his trunk yet; and as for Hurry Harry, so far as height, and
strength, and comeliness go, he may be called the pride of the human
forest. Were the men bound, or in any manner suffering torture ? I ask
on account of the young women; who, I dare to say, would be glad to
It is not so, Deerslayer. The Mingos are too many to cage their game.
Some watch; some sleep; some scout; some hunt. The pale-faces are
treated like brothers to-day; to-morrow they will lose their scalps."
Yes, that's red natur', and must be submitted to I Judith and Hetty,
here's comforting tidings for you, the Delaware telling me that neither
your father nor Hurry Harry is in suffering; but, bating the loss of
liberty, as well off as we are ourselves. Of course they are kept in the
camp; otherwise they do much as they please."
"I rejoice to hear this, Deerslayer," returned Judith, "and now we are
joined by your friend, I make no manner of question that we shall find an
THE DEERSLA YER.
opportunity to ransom the prisoners. If there are any women in the
camp, I have articles of dress that will catch their eyes; and, should the
worst come to the worst, we can open the good chest, which I think will
be found to hold things that may tempt the chiefs. 'Tis a gloomy night,"
observed the girl, after a pause of several minutes. I hope we may
be able to find the castle."
Little fear of our missing that, if we keep this path, in the middle of
the lake," returned the young man. "Natur' has made us a road here,
and, dim as it is, there'll be little difficulty in following it."
Do you hear no-
thing, Deerslayer ? It
seemed as if the water
was stirring quite
near us "
thing did move the
water, oncommon like;
it must have been a
fish. Them creature's
prey upon each other
like men and animals
on the land; one has
leaped into the air,
and fallen back hard
into his own element.
'Tis of little use,
Judith, for any to
strive to get out of
their elements, since
it's natur' to stay in
'em; and natur' will
have its way. Ha!
that sounds like a
paddle, used with
more than common
At this moment the
Delaware bent for-
ward, and pointed sig-
nificantly into the _
boundary of gloom, as
if some object had = .
suddenly caught hi
eye. Both Deerslayer and Judith followed the direction of his gesture,
and each got a view of a canoe at the same instant. The glimpse of this
startling neighbour was dim, and to eyes less practised, it might have been
uncertain; though to those in the ark the object was evidently a canoe,
with a single individual in it, the latter standing erect and paddling.
How many lay concealed in its bottom of course could not be known.
Flight, by means of oars, from a bark canoe impelled by vigorous and
skilful hands, was utterly impracticable, and each of the men seized his
rifle in expectation of a conflict.
THE DEERSLA YER.
"I can easily bring down the paddler," whispered Deerslayer; "but
we'll first hail him and ask his ar'n'd." Then raising his voice, he con-
tinued in a solemn manner, "Hold! If you come nearer I must fire,
though contrary to my wishes, and then sartin death will follow. Stop
paddling, and answer "
Fire, and slay a poor defenceless girl," returned a soft tremulous female
voice, "and God will never forgive you Go your way, Deerslayer, ana
let me go mine."
Hetty !" exclaimed the young man and Judith in a breath; and the
former sprang instantly to the spot where he had left the canoe they had
been towing. It was gone, and he understood the whole affair. As for
the fugitive, frightened at the menace, she ceased paddling, and remained
dimly visible, resembling a spectral outline of a human form standing on
the water. At the next moment the sail was lowered, to prevent the ark
from passing the spot where the canoe lay. This last expedient, however,
was not taken in time; for the momentum of so heavy a craft, and the
impulsion of the air, soon set her by, bringing Hetty directly to wind-
ward, though still visible, as the change in the positions of the two boats
now placed her in that species of milky-way which has been mentioned.
"What can this mean, Judith ?" demanded Deerslayer. "Why has
your sister taken the canoe and left us ? "
"You know she is feeble-minded, poor girl! and she has her own ideas
of what ought to be done. She loves her father more than most children
love their parents-and then- "
Then what, gal? This is a trying moment; one in which truth must
be spoken !"
Judith felt a generous and womanly regret at betraying her sister, and
she hesitated ere she spoke again. But once more urged by Deerslayer,
and conscious herself of all the risks the whole party was running by the
indiscretion of Hetty, she could refrain no longer.
"Then 1 fear poor weak-minded Hetty has not been altogether able to
see the vanity, and madness, and folly that lie hid behind the handsome
face and fine form of Hurry Harry. She talks of him in her sleep, and
sometimes betrays the inclination in her waking moments."
You think, Judith, that your sister is now bent on some mad scheme
to serve her father and Hurry, which will, in all likelihood, give them
riptyles, the Mingos, the mastership of a canoe ?"
Such, I fear, will turn out to be the fact, Deerslayer. Poor Hetty has
hardly sufficient cunning to outwit a savage ?"
All this while the canoe, with the form of Hetty erect in one end of it,
was dimly perceptible, though the greater drift of the ark rendered it at
each instant less and less distinct. It was evident no time was to be lost,
lest it should altogether disappear. The rifles were now laid aside as use-
less, and then the two men seized the oars, and began to sweep the head of
*the scow round in the direction of the canoe. Judith, accustomed to the
office, flew to the other end of the ark, and placed herself at what might
be called the helm. Hetty took the alarm at these preparations, which
could not be made without noise, and started off like a bird that had been
suddenly put up by the approach of unexpected danger.
As Deerslayer and his companion rowed with the energy of those who
felt the necessity of straining every nerve, and Hetty's strength was
impaired by a nervous desire to escape, the chase would have quickly
THE DEERSLA YER. 49
terminated in the capture of the fugitive had not the girl made several
short and unlooked-for deviations in her course. These turnings gave her
time, and they had also the effect of gradually bringing both canoe and
ark within the deeper gloom cast by the shadows from the hills. They
also gradually increased the distance between the fugitive and her pur-
suers, until Judith called out to her companions to cease rowing, for she
had completely lost sight of the canoe.
When this mortifying announcement was made, Hetty was actually so
near as to understand every syllable her sister uttered, though the latter
had used the precaution of speaking as low as circumstances would allow
her to do, and to make herself heard. Hetty stopped paddling at the
same moment, and waited the result with an impatience that was breath-
less, equally from her late exertions and her desire to land. A dead
silence immediately fell on the lake, during which the three in the ark
were using their senses differently, in order to detect the position of the
canoe. Judith leant forward to listen, in the hope of catching some
sound that might betray the direction in which her sister was stealing
away; while her two companions brought their eyes as near as possible to
a level with the water, in order to detect any object that might be floating
on its surface. All was in vain, however, for neither sound nor sight
rewarded their efforts. All this time, Hetty, who had not the cunning to
sink into the canoe, stood erect, a finger pressed on her lips, gazing in the
direction in which the voices had been heard, resembling a statue of pro-
found and timid attention. Her ingenuity had barely sufficed to enable
her to seize the canoe, and to quit the ark in the noiseless manner related;
and then it appeared to be momentarily exhausted. Even the doubling
of the canoe had been as much the consequence of an uncertain hand, and
of nervous agitation, as of any craftiness or calculation.
THE girl was quite an hour finding her way to the point, the distance
and the obscurity equally detaining her; but she was no sooner on the
gravelly beach than she prepared to set the canoe adrift in the manner
mentioned. While in the act of pushing it from her, she heard low voices
that seemed to come from among the trees behind her. Startled at this
unexpected danger, Hetty was on the point of springing into the canoe
again, in order to seek safety in flight, when she thought she recognized
the tones of Judith's melodious voice. Bending forward, so as to catch
the sounds more directly-they evidently came from the water-and then
she understood that the ark was approaching from the south, and so close
in with the western shore as necessarily to cause it to pass the point within
twenty yards of the spot where she stood. Here, then, was all she could
desire! the canoe was shoved off into the lake, leaving its late occupant
alone on the narrow strand.
"Lay her head more off the shore, Delaware," said Deerslayer for the
third time, speaking in English, that his fair companion might understand
his words; "lay her head well off shore. We have got embayed here,
and needs keep the mast clear of the trees. Judith, there's a canoe "
50 THE DEERSLA YER.
The last words were uttered with great earnestness, and Deerslayer's
hand was on his rifle ere they were fairly out of his mouth. But the
truth flashed on the mind of the quick-witted girl, and she instantly told
her companion that the boat must be that in which her sister had fled.
"Keep the scow straight, Delaware; steer as straight as your bullet flies
when sent ag'in a buck-there, I have it."
The canoe was seized and immediately secured again to the side of the
ark. At the next moment the sail was lowered, and the motion of the ark
arrested by means of the oars.
Hetty! called out Judith, concern, even affection, betraying itself in
her tones; are you within hearing, sister ? For God's sake answer, and
let me hear the sound of your voice again! Hetty dear Hetty! "
I'm here, Judith-here on the shore, where it will be useless to follow
me, as I will hide in the woods."
Oh, Hetty what is't you do Remember 'tis drawing near midnight,
and that the woods are filled with savages and wild beasts "
"Neither will harm a poor half-witted girl, Judith. God is as much
with me here as He would be in the ark or in the hut. I am going to
help my father and poor Hurry Harry, who will be tortured and slain
unless some one cares for them."
We all care for them, and intend to-morrow to send them a flag of
truce to buy their ransom. Come back then, sister. Trust to us, who
have better heads than you, and who will do all we can for father."
I know your head is better than mine, Judith, for mine is very weak,
to be sure; but I must go to father and poor Hurry. Do you and Deer-
slayer keep the castle, sister; leave me in the hands of God."
God is with us all, Hetty-in the castle or on the shore-father as
well as ourselves, and it is sinful not to trust to His goodness. You can
do nothing in the dark, will lose your way in the forest, and perish for
want of food."
God will not let that happen to a poor child that goes to serve her
father, sister. I must try and find the savages."
Come back for this night only. In the morning we will put you
ashore and leave you to do as you may think right."
"You say so, Judith, and you think so; but you would not. Your
heart would soften, and you'd see tomahawks and scalping knives in the
air. Besides, I've got a thing to tell the Indian chief that will answer all
our wishes, and I'm afraid I may forget it if I don't tell it to him at once.
You'll see that he will let father go as soon as he hears it! "
"Poor Hetty! What can you say to a ferocious savage that will be
likely to change his bloody purpose ? "
That which will frighten him and make him let father go," returned
the simple-minded girl, positively. "You'll see, sister, you'll see how soon
it will bring him to, like a gentle child!"
Will you tell me, Hetty, what you intend to say ? asked Deerslayer.
"I know the savages well, and can form some idee how far fair words will
be likely or not to work on their bloody natur's. If it's not suited to the
gifts of a red-skin, 'twill be of no use, for reason goes by gifts as well as
"Well, then," answered Hetty, dropping her voice to a low, confidential
tone, for the stillness of the night and the nearness of the ark permitted
her to do this and still to be heard; "well, then, Deerslayer, as you seem a
THE DEERSLA YER.
good and honest young man, I will tell you. I mean not to say a word to
any of the savages until I get face to face with their head chief, let them
plague me with as many questions as they please; no, I'll answer none of
them, unless it be to tell them to lead me to their wisest man. Then,
Deerslayer, I'll tell him that God will not forgive murder and thefts, and
that if Father and Hurry did go after the scalps of the Iroquois he must
return good for evil, for so the Bible commands, else he will go into ever-
lasting punishment. When he hears this and feels it to be true, as feel
it he must, how long will it be before he sends father and Hurry and
me to the shore opposite the castle, telling us all three to go our way in
peace ? "
By the snapping of twigs and the rustling of leaves, Hetty had evi-
dently quitted the shore, and was already burying herself in the forest.
To follow her would have been bootless, since the darkness, as well as the
dense cover that the woods everywhere afforded, would have rendered her
capture next to impossible; and there was also the never-ceasing danger of
falling into the hands of their enemies. After a short and melancholy
discussion, therefore, the sail was again set, and the ark pursued its course
towards its habitual moorings, Deerslayer silently felicitating himself on
the recovery of the canoe, and brooding over his plans for the morrow.
The wind rose as the party quitted the point, and in less than an hour
they reached the castle. Here all was found as it had been left, and the
reverse of the ceremonies had to be taken in entering the building that
had been used on quitting it. Judith occupied a solitary bed that night,
bedewing the pillow with her tears, as she thought of the innocent and
hitherto neglected creature who had been her companion from childhood,
and bitter regrets came over her mind from more causes than one as the
weary hours passed away, making it nearly morning before she lost her
recollection in sleep. Deerslayer and the Delaware took their rest in the
ark, where we shall leave them enjoying the deep sleep of the honest, the
healthful, and fearless, to return to the girl we have last seen in the midst
of the forest.
When Hetty left the shore she took her way unhesitatingly into the
woods, with a nervous apprehension of being followed. Luckily, this
course was the best she could have hit on to effect her own purpose, since
it was the only one that led her from the point. The night was so intensely
dark, beneath the branches of the trees, that her progress was very slow,
and the direction she went altogether a matter of chance, after the first few
yards. The formation of the ground, however, did not permit her to
deviate far from the line in which she desired to proceed. On one hand,
it was soon bounded by the acclivity of the hill; while the lake, on the
*other, served as a guide. For two hours did this single-hearted and
simple-minded girl toil through the mazes of the forest, sometimes finding
herself on the brow of the bank that bounded the water, and at others
struggling up an ascent that warned her to go no farther in that direc-
tion, since it necessarily ran at right angles to the course on which she
wished to proceed. Her feet often slid from beneath her, and she got
many falls, though none to do her injury; but by the end of the period
mentioned, she had become' so weary as to want strength to go any farther.
Rest was indispensable; and she set about preparing a bed, with the readi-
ness and coolness of one to whom the wilderness presented no unnecessary
terrors. She knew that vild beasts roamed through all the adjacent forest,
52 THE DEERSLA YER.
but animals that preyed on the human species were rare, and of dangerous
serpents there were literally none.
As soon as Hetty had collected a sufficient number of the dried leaves
to protect her person from the damps of the ground, she kneeled beside
the humble pile, clasped her raised hands in an attitude of deep devotion,
and in a soft, low, but audible, voice, repeated the Lord's Prayer. This
was followed by those simple and devout verses, so familiar to children, in
which she recommended her soul to God, should it be called away to another
state of existence ere the return of morning. This duty done, she lay
down and disposed herself to sleep. The attire of the girl, though suited
to the season was sufficiently warm for all ordinary purposes; but the
forest is ever cool, and the nights of that elevated region of country have
always a freshness about them that renders clothing more necessary than
is commonly the case in the summers of a low latitude. This had been
foreseen by Hetty, who had brought with her a coarse, heavy mantle,
which, when laid over her body, answered all the useful purposes of a
blanket. Thus protected, she dropped to sleep in a few minutes, as tran-
quilly as if watched over by the guardian care of that mother who had so
recently been taken from her for ever-affording, in this particular, a most
striking contrast between her own humble couch and the sleepless pillow
of her sister.
Hour passed after hour in a tranquility as undisturbed and a rest as sweet
as if angels, expressly commissioned for that object, watched around the bed
of Hetty Hutter. Not once did her soft eyes open, until the grey of the
dawn came struggling through the tops of the trees, falling on their lids,
and, united to the freshness of a summer's morning, giving the usual
summons to awake. Ordinarily, Hetty was up ere the rays of the sun
tipped the summits of the mountains ; but on this occasion her fatigue had
been so great, and her rest was so profound, that the customary warnings
failed of their effect. The girl murmured in her sleep, threw an arm for-
ward, smiled as gently as an infant in its cradle, but still slumbered. In
making this unconscious gesture her hand fell on some object that was
warm and, in the half unconscious state in which she lay, she connected the
circumstance with her habits. At the next moment a rude attack was made
on her side, as if a rooting animal were thrusting its snout beneath, with a
desire to force her position; and then uttering the name of Judith," she
awoke. As the startled girl arose to a sitting attitude she perceived that
some dark object sprang from her, scattering the leaves and snapping the
fallen twigs in its haste. Opening her eyes, and recovering from the first
confusion and astonishment of her situation, Hetty perceived a cub of the
common American brown bear balancing itself on its hinder legs, and still
looking towards her, as if doubtful whether it would be safe to trust itself
near her person again. The first impulse of Hetty, who had been mistress
of several of these cubs, was to run and seize the little creature as a prize,
but a low growl warned her of the danger of such a procedure. Recoiling
a few steps, the girl looked hurriedly around, and perceived the dam watch-
ing her movements with fiery eyes, at no great distance. A hollow tree,
that had once been the home of bees, having recently fallen, the mother,
with two more cubs, was feasting on the dainty food that this accident had
placed within her reach, while the first kept a jealous eye on the situation
of its truant and reckless young.
Recollecting her errand among the hills, she tore herself away from the
THE DEERSLA YER.
group, and proceeded on her course along the margin of the lake, of which
she now caught glimpses again through the trees. To her surprise, though
not to her alarm, the family of bears arose and followed her steps, keeping
a short distance behind her, apparently watching every movement, as if
they had a near interest in what she did.
In this manner, escorted by the dam and cubs, the girl proceeded nearly
a mile, thrice the distance she had been able to achieve in the darkness
during the same period of time. She then reached a brook that had dug
a channel for itself into the earth, and went brawling into the lake between
steep and high banks covered with trees. Here Hetty performed her
ablutions; then, drinking of the pure mountain water, she went her way
refreshed and lighter of heart, still attended by her singular companions.
Her course now lay along a broad and nearly level terrace, which stretched
from the top of the bank that bounded the water to a low acclivity that rose
to a second and irregular platform above. This was at a part of the
valley where the mountains ran obliquely, forming the commencement of a
plain that spread between the hills southward of the sheet of water. Hetty
knew by this circumstance that she was getting near to the encampment,
and had she not, the bears would have given her warning of the vicinity of
human beings. Snuffing the air, the dam refused to follow any further,
though the girl looked back and invited her to come by childish signs, and
even by direct appeals made in her own sweet voice. It was while
making her way slowly through some bushes in this manner, with averted
face and eyes riveted on the immovable animals, that the girl suddenly
found herself arrested by a human hand that was laid lightly on her
Where go ? said a soft female voice, speaking hurriedly, and in con-
cern. Indian-red man-savage-wicked warrior-that-a-way."
The girl who had so suddenly arrested the steps of Hetty, was dressed
in a calico mantle that effectually protected all the upper part of her person,
while a short petticoat of blue cloth, edged with gold lace that fell no lower
than her knees, leggings of the same, and moccasins of deer-skin completed
her attire. Her hair fell in long dark braids down her shoulders and back,
and was parted above a low smooth forehead in a way to soften the expres-
sion of eyes that were full of archness and natural feeling. Her face was
oval, with delicate features the teeth were even and white, while the
mouth expressed a melancholy tenderness as if it wore this peculiar mean-
ing in intuitive perception of the fate of a being who was doomed from
birth to endure a woman's sufferings, relieved by a woman's affections.
Her voice, as has been already intimated, was soft as the sighing of the
night air-a characteristic of the women of her race, but which was so
,conspicuous in herself as to have procured for her the name of Wah-to !-
Wah which, rendered into English, means Hist-oh !-Hist.
In a word, this was the betrothed of Chingachgook, who, having suc-
ceeded in lulling their suspicions, was permitted to wander around the
'encampment of her captors. This indulgence was in accordance with the
:general policy of the red man, who well knew, moreover, that her trail
*could have been followed in the event of flight. It will also be remembered
that the Iroquois, or Hurons, as it would be better to call them, were entirely
ignorant of the proximity of her lover-a fact, indeed, that she did not
Where go ? repeated Wah-ta!-Wah, returning the smile of Hetty, in
THE DEERSLA YER.
her own gentle, winning manner; "wicked warrior, that-a-way-good
warrior, far off."
"What's your name ? asked Hetty, with the simplicity of a child.
"Wah-ta!-Wah. I no Mingo -good Delaware -Yengeese friend.
Mingo very cruel, and love scalp for blood-Delaware love him for honour.
Come here, where no eyes."
Wah-ta !-Wal now led her companion towards the lake, descending the
bank so as to place its overhanging trees and bushes between them and
any probable observers; nor did she stop until they were both seated, side
by side, on a fallen log, one end of which actually lay buried in the water.
Why you come for? the young Indian then eagerly inquired; "where
you come from? "
Hetty told her tale in her own simple and truth-loving manner. She
explained the situation of her father, and stated her desire to serve him,
and, if possible, to procure his release.
Why your fader come to Mingo camp in night ? asked the Indian
girl, with a directness which, if not borrowed from the other, partook
largely of its sincerity. He know it war-time, and he no boy-he no
want beard-no want to be told Iroquois carry tomahawk, and knife, and
rifle. Why he come night time, seize me by hair, and try to scalp Delaware
"You! said Hetty, almost sickening with horror; did he seize you-
did he try to scalp you? "
Why no ? Delaware scalp sell for much as Mingo scalp. Governor no
tell difference. Wicked t'ing for pale-face to scalp. No his gifts, as the
good Deerslayer always tell me."
And do you know the Deerslayer ? said Hetty, colouring with delight
and surprise, forgetting her regrets at the moment, in the influence of this
new feeling. "I know him, too. He is now in the ark, with Judith, and
a Delaware, who is called the Big Serpent. A bold and handsome warrior
is this Serpent, too 1"
Spite of the rich deep colour that nature had bestowed on the Indian
beauty, the tell-tale blood deepened on her cheeks, until the blush gave
new animation and intelligence to her jet-black eyes. Raising a finger in
an attitude of warning, she dropped her voice, already so soft and sweet,
nearly to a whisper, as she continued the discourse.
"Chingachgook!" returned the Delaware girl, sighing out the harsh
name in sounds so softly guttural as to cause it to reach the ear in melody.
" His father, Uncas-great chief of the Mahicanni-next to old Tamenund!
More as warrior, not so much grey hair, and less at council fire. You know
He joined us last evening, and was in the ark with me for two or three
hours before I left it. I'm afraid, Hist"-Hetty could not pronounce the
Indian name of her new friend, but having heard Deerslayer give her this
familiar appellation, she used it without any of the ceremony of civilized
life-" I'm afraid, Hist, he has come after scalps, as well as my poor father
and Hurry Harry !"
"Why he shouldn't, ha ? Chingachgook red warrior, very red-scalp
make his honour-be sure he take him."
"Then," said Hetty, earnestly, "he will be as wicked as any other.
God will not pardon in a red man what He will not pardon in a white man."
"No true," returned the Delaware girl, with a warmth that nearly
THE DEERSLA YER. s5
amounted to passion; no true, I tell you The Manitou smile and please
when he see young warrior come back from the war-path, with two, ten,
hundred scalp on a pole! Chingachgook father take scalp, grandfather
take scalp-all old chief take scalp; and Chingachgook take as many scalp
as he can carry, himself !"
"Then, Hist, his sleep of nights must be terrible to think of No one
can be cruel and hope to be forgiven."
"No cruel-plenty forgiven," returned Wah-ta !-Wah, stamping her
little foot on the stony strand, and shaking her head in a way to show how
completely feminine feeling, in one of its aspects, had gotten the better of
feminine feeling in another. "I tell you, Serpent brave; he go home, this
time, with four, yes, two scalp."
"And is that his errand here ? Did he really come all this distance,
across mountains and valley, rivers and lakes, to torment his fellow-crea-
tures, and do so wicked a thing ? "
Hist gazed at the gentle, simple girl for quite a minute, without speaking;
when the truth appeared to flash all at once on the mind of the young
Indian maid. Pity, reverence, and tenderness seemed struggling together
in her breast; and then, rising suddenly, she indicated a wish to her com-
panion that she would accompany her to the camp, which was situated at
no great distance. This unexpected change from the precaution that Hist
had previously manifested a desire to use, in order to prevent being seen,
to an open exposure of the person of her friend, arose from the perfect
conviction that no Indian would harm a being whom the Great Spirit had
disharmed, by depriving it of its strongest defence-reason.
Hetty accompanied her new friend without apprehension or reluctance.
It was her wish to reach the camp; and, sustained by her motives, she felt
no more concern for the consequences than did her companion herself, now
the latter was apprised of the character of the protection that the pale-face
maiden carried with her.
THAT the party to which Hist compulsorily belonged was not one that
was regularly on the war-path, was evident by the presence of women. It
was a small fragment of a tribe that had been hunting and fishing within
the English limits, where it was found at the commencement of hostilities;
and after passing the winter and spring by living on what was strictly the
property of its enemies, it chose to strike a hostile blow before it finally
The encampment being temporary, it offered to the eye no more than the
rude protection of a bivouac, relieved in some slight degree by the ingenious
expedients which suggested themselves to the readiness of those who passed
their lives amid similar scenes. One fire, that had been kindled against
the roots of a living oak, sufficed for the whole party; the weather being
too mild to require it for any purpose but cooking. Scattered around this
centre of attraction were some fifteen or twenty low huts-perhaps kennels
would be a better word-into which their different owners crept at night,
and which were also intended to meet the exigencies of a storm. These
56 THE DEERSLA YER.
little huts were made of the branches of trees, put together with some
ingenuity, and they were uniformly topped with bark that had been stripped
from fallen trees, of which every virgin forest possesses hundreds, in all
stages of decay. Of furniture they had next to none. Cooking utensils of
the simplest sort were lying near the fire; a few articles of clothing were
to be seen in or around the huts; rifles, horns, and pouches leaned against
the trees, or were suspended from the lower branches; and the carcases of
two or three deer were stretched to view on the same natural shambles.
As the encampment was in the midst of a dense wood, the eye could not
take in its tout ensemble at a glance; but hut after hut started out of the
gloomy picture, as one gazed about him in quest of objects. There was no
centre, unless the fire might be so considered-no open area where the
possessors of this rude village might congregate; but all was concealed,
dark, covert and cunning, like its owners. A few children strayed from hut to
hut, giving the spot a little the air of domestic life; and the suppressed
laugh and low voices of the women occasionally broke in upon the deep
stillness of the sombre forest. As for the men, they either ate, slept, or
examined their arms. They conversed but little, and then usually apart,
or in groups withdrawn from the women; whilst an air of untiring, innate
watchfulness and apprehension of danger seemed to be blended even with
As the two girls came near the encampment, Hetty uttered a slight
exclamation, on catching a view of the person of her father. He was seated
on the ground with his back to a tree, and Hurry stood near him, indolently
whittling a twig. Apparently they were as much at liberty as any others
in or about the camp; and one unaccustomed to Indian usages would
have mistaken them for visitors, instead of supposing them to be captives.
Wah-ta !-Wah led her new friend quite near them, and then modestly with-
drew, that her own presence might be no restraint on her feelings. But
Hetty was not sufficiently familiar with caresses, or outward demonstrations
of fondness, to indulge in any outbreaking of feeling. She merely
approached and stood at her father's side without speaking, resembling a
silent statue of filial affection. The old man expressed neither alarm nor
surprise at her sudden appearance. In these particulars he had caught the
stoicism of the Indians; well knowing that there was no more certain mode
of securing their respect than by imitating their self-command. Nor did
the savages themselves betray the least sign of emotion at this sudden
appearance of a stranger among them. In a word, this arrival produced
much less visible sensation, though occurring under circumstances so pecu-
liar, than would be seen in a village of higher pretensions to civilization
did an ordinary traveller drive up to the door of its principal inn. Still, a
few warriors collected, and it was evident by the manner in which they
glanced at Hetty as they conversed together, that she was the subject of
their discourse, and probable that the reasons of her unlooked-for appear-
ance were matters of discussion. This phlegm of manner is characteristic
of the North American Indian-some say of his white successor also-but,
in this case, much should be attributed to the peculiar situation in which
the party was placed. The force in the ark, the presence of Chingachgook
excepted, was well known, no tribe or body of troops was believed to be
near, and vigilant eyes were posted round the entire lake, watching day and
night the slightest movement of those whom it would not be exaggerated
now to term the besieged.
THE DEERSLA YER.
Hutter was inwardly much moved by the conduct of Hetty, though he
affected so much indifference of manner. He recollected her gentle appeal
to him, before he left the ark, and misfortune rendered that of weight which
might have been forgotten amid the triumph of success. Then he knew the
simple, single-hearted fidelity of this child, and understood why she had
come, and the total disregard of self that reigned in all her acts.
This is not well, Hetty," he said, deprecating the consequences to the
girl herself, more than any other evil. These are fierce Iroquois, and as
little apt to forget an injury as a favour."
Tell me, father," returned the girl, looking furtively about her, as if
fearful of being overheard, "did God let you do the cruel errand on which
you came? I want much to know this, that I may speak to the Indians
plainly, if He did not."
You should not have come hither, Hetty; these brutes will not under-
stand your nature, or your intentions! "
How was it, father ? neither you nor Hurry seem to have anything that
looks like scalps."
If that will set your mind at peace, child, I can answer you-no. I
had caught the young creature' who came here with you, but her screeches
soon brought down upon me a troop of the wild cats, that was too much
for any single Christian to withstand. If that will do you any good, we are
as innocent of having taken a scalp this time, as I make no doubt we shall
also be innocent of receiving the bounty."
Thank you for that, father. Now I can speak boldly to the Iroquois,
and with an easy conscience. I hope Hurry, too, has not been able to harm
any of the Indians ? "
Why, as to that matter, Hetty," returned the individual in question,
"you've put it pretty much in the natyve character of the religious truth.
Here was old Tom, your father, and myself, bent on a legal operation, as is
to be seen in the words of the law and the proclamation, thinking no harm;
when we were set upon by critturs that were more like a pack of hungry
wolves than mortal savages even, and there they had us tethered like two
sheep, in less time than it has taken me to tell you the story."
"You are free now, Hurry," returned Hetty, glancing timidly at the fine
unfettered limbs of the young giant. You have no cords or withes to pain
your arms or legs now."
Not I, Hetty. Natur' is natur,' and freedom is natur', too. My limbs
have a free look, but that's pretty much the amount of it, sin' I can't use
them in the way I should like. Even these trees have eyes; ay, and
tongues, too; for was the old man here or I to start one single rod beyond
our gaol limits, service would be put on the bail afore we could 'gird up
our loins for a race': and, like as not, four or five rifle-bullets would be
travelling after us, carrying so many invitations to curb our impatience."
As Hetty approached the chiefs, they opened their little circle with an
ease and deference of manner that would have done credit to men of more
courtly origin. A fallen tree lay near, and the oldest of the warriors made
a quiet sign for the girl to be seated on it, taking his place at her side with
the gentleness of a father. The others arranged themselves around the two
with grave dignity; and then the girl, who had sufficient observation to
perceive that such a course was expected of her, began to reveal the object
of her visit. The moment she opened her mouth to speak, however, the old
chief gave a gentle sign for her to forbear, said a few words to one of his
58 THE DEERSLA YER.
juniors, and then waited in silent patience until the latter had summoned
Hist to the party. This interruption proceeded from the chief's having dis-
covered that there existed a necessity for an interpreter, few of the Hurons
present understanding the English language, and they but imperfectly.
Wah-ta !-Wah was not sorry to be called upon to be present at the inter-
view, and least of all in the character in which she was now wanted. She
was aware of the hazards she ran in attempting to deceive one or two of
the party, but was none the less resolved to use every means that offered,
and to practise every artifice that an Indian education could supply, to con-
ceal the facts of the vicinity of her betrothed, and of the errand on which
he had come. One unpractised in the expedients and opinions of savage
life would not have suspected the readiness of invention, the wariness of
action, the high resolution, the noble impulses, the deep self-devotion, -and
the feminine disregard of self where the affections were concerned, that lay
concealed beneath the demure looks, the mild eye, and the sunny smiles of
this young Indian beauty. As she approached them, the grim old warriors
regarded her with pleasure, for they had a secret pride in the hope of
enygrafting so rare a scion on the stock of their own nation, adoption being
as regularly practised and as distinctly recognized among the tribes of
America as it ever had been among those nations that submit to the sway
of the civil law.
As soon as Hist was seated by the side of Hetty, the old chief desired her
to ask the fair young pale-face what had brought her among the Iroquois,
and what they could do to serve her.
"Tell them Hist, who I am-Thomas Hutter's youngest daughter;
THE DEERSLA YER. 59
Thomas Hutter, the oldest of their two prisoners; he who owns the castle
and the ark, and who has the best right to be thought the owner of these
hills, and that lake, since he has dwelt so long, and trapped so long, and
fished so long, among them. They'll know whom you mean by Thomas
SHutter, if you tell them that. And then tell them that I've come here to
convince them they ought not to harm father and Hurry, but let them go
in peace, and to treat them as brothers, rather than as enemies. Now tell
them all this plainly, Hist, and fear nothing for yourself or me: God will
Wah-ta !-Wah did as the other desired; taking care to render the words
of her friend as literally as possible into the Iroquois tongue, a language
she used with a readiness almost equal to that with which she spoke her
own. The chiefs heard this opening explanation with grave decorum; the
two who had a little knowledge of English intimating their satisfaction with
the interpreter, by furtive but significant glances of the eyes.
Ask them first, Hist, if they know there is a God, who reigns over the
whole earth, and is ruler and chief of all who live, let them be red, or white,
or what colour they may ? "
Wah-ta !-Wah looked a little surprised at this question; for the idea of
the Great Spirit is seldom long absent from the mind of an Indian girl.
She put the question as literally as possible, however, and received a grave
answer in the affirmative,
"This is right;" continued Hetty, "and my duty will now be right. This
Great Spirit, as you call our God, has caused a book to be written that we
call a Bible; and in this book have been set down all His commandments,
and His holy will and pleasure, and the rules by which all men are to live,
and directions how to govern the thought. even, and the wishes, and the
will. Here, this is one of these holy books, and you must tell the chiefs
what I am about to read to them from its sacred pages."
"I will now read to the warriors some of the verses that it is good for
them to know," continued the girl, whose manner grew more solemn and
earnest as she proceeded; and they will remember that they are the very
words of the Great Spirit. First, then, ye are commanded to 'Love thy
neighbour as thyself' Tell them that, dear Hist."
And hear this, too, Hist," she added, Love your enemies; bless them
that curse you; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them which.
despitefully use you and persecute you.' "
By this time Hetty had become excited; her eye gleamed with the
earnestness of her feelings, her cheeks flushed, and her voice, usually so low
and modulated, became stronger and more impressive. With the Bible she
had been early made familiar by her mother; and she now turned from
passage to passage with surprising rapidity, taking care to cull such verses
as taught the sublime lessons of Christian charity and Christian forgive-
ness. To translate half she said in her pious earnestness, Wah-ta'!-Wah
would have found impracticable, had she made the effort; but wonder held
her tongue-tied, equally with the chiefs; and the young simple-minded
enthusiast had. fairly become exhausted with her own efforts before the
other opened her mouth again to utter a syllable. Then, indeed, the
Delaware girl gave a brief translation of the substance of what had been
both read and said, confining herself to one or two of the more striking of
the verses, those that had struck her own imagination as the most para-
doxical, and which certainly would have been the most applicable to the.
60 THE DEERSLA YER.
case, could the uninstructed minds of the listeners embrace the great moral
truths they contained.
This is the Good Book of the pale-faces," observed one of these chiefs,
taking the volume from the unresisting hand of Hetty, who gazed anxiously
at his face while he turned the leaves, as if she expected to witness some
visible results from the circumstance. This is the law by which my white
brethren profess to live ? "
Hist, to whom this question was addressed, if it might be considered as
addressed to any one in particular, answered simply in the affirmative,
adding that both the French of the Canadas and the Yengeese of the British
provinces equally admitted its authority, and affected to revere its principles.
Tell my young sister," said the Huron, looking directly at Hist, that
I will open my mouth and say a few words."
"The Iroquois chief go to speak-my pale-face friend listen," said Hist.
I rejoice to hear it! exclaimed Hetty. God.has touched his heart,
and he will now let father and Hurry go! "
"This is the pale-face law," resumed the chief. "It tells him to do
good to them that hurt him, and when his brother asks him for his rifle to
give him the'powder-horn too. Such is the pa.a-face law ? "
Not so-not so," answered Hetty, earnestly, when these words had been
interpreted. "There is not a word about rifles in the whole book; and
powder and bullets give offence to the Great Spirit."
"Why, then, does the pale-face use them ? If he is ordered to give double
to him that asks only for one thing, why does he take double from the poor
Indians, who ask for no thing ? He comes from beyond the rising sun
with his book in his hand, and he teaches the red man to read it; but why
does he forget himself all it says ? When the Indian gives, he is never
satisfied; and now he offers gold for the scalps of our women and children,
though he calls us beasts if we take the scalp of a warrior killed in open
war. My name is Rivenoak."
When Hetty had got this formidable question fairly presented to her
mind in the translation, and Hist did her duty with more than usual readi-
ness on this occasion, it scarcely need be said that she was sorely perplexed
Abler heads than that of this poor girl have frequently been puzzled by
questions of a similar drift, and it is not surprising that, with all her own
earnestness and sincerity, she did not know what answer to make.
Hetty was more and more embarrassed, until, overcome with the appre-
hension that she had failed in her object, and that the lives of her father
and Hurry would be the forfeit of some blunder of her own, she burst into
tears. From that moment the manner of Hist lost all its irony and cool
indifference, and she became the fond caressing friend again. Throwing
her arms around the afflicted girl, she attempted to soothe her sorrows by
the scarcely ever-failing remedy of female sympathy.
Stop cry-no cry," she said, wiping the tears from the face of Hetty,
as she would have performed the same office for a child, and stopping to
press her occasionally to her own warm bosom with the affection of a sister ;
" why you so trouble? You no make he book, if he be wrong; and you
no make he pale-face, if he wicked. There wicked red man, and wicked
white man-no colour all good-no colour all wicked. Chiefs know that
Hett" soon recovered from this sudden burst of grief, and then her mind
reverted to the purpose of her visit, with all its single-hearted earnestness.
THE DEERSLA YER. 6
SPerceiving that the grim-looking chiefs were still standing around her, in
grave attention, she hoped that another effort to convince them of the right
might be successful.
"Listen, Hist," she said, struggling to suppress her sobs, and to speak
distinctly; "tell the chiefs that it matters not what the wicked do-right
is right-the words of the Great Spirit are the words of the Great Spirit-
and no one can go harmless for doing an evil act, because another has done
it before him? Not rendering evil for evil; but contrariwise, blessing,'
says this book, and that is the law for the red man as well as for the white
Never hear such a law among Delaware, or among Iroquois," answered
Hist, soothingly. "No good to tell chiefs any such law as that. Tell 'em
something they believe."
Hist was about to proceed notwithstanding, when a tap on the shoulder
from the finger of the oldest chief caused her to look up. She then per-
ceived that one of the warriors had left the group, and was already return-
ing to it with Hutter and Hurry. Understanding that the two last were
to become parties in the inquiry, she became mute, with the unhesitating
obedience of an Indian woman. In a few seconds the prisoners stood face
to face with the principal men of the captors.
"Daughter," said the senior chief to the young Delaware, ask this
greybeard why he came into our camp ? "
The question was put by Hist, in her own imperfect English, but in a
way that was easy to be understood. Hutter was too stern and obstinate
by nature to shrink from the consequences of any of his acts, and he was
also too familiar with the opinions of the savages not to understand that
nothing was to be gained by equivocation, or an unmanly dread bf their
anger. Without hesitating, therefore, he avowed the purpose with which
he had landed, merely justifying it by the fact that the government of the
province had bid high for scalps. This frank avowal was received by the
Iroquois with evident satisfaction, not so much so, however, on account of
the advantage it gave them in a moral point of view, as by proving that
they had captured a man worthy of occupying their thoughts, and of be-
coming a subject of their revenge. Hurry, when interrogated, confessed
the truth, though he would have been more disposed to concealment than
his sterner companion, did the circumstances very well admit of its adop-
tion. But he had tact enough to discover that equivocation would be
useless at that moment, and he made a merit of necessity by imitating a
frankness which, in the case of Hutter, was the offspring of habits of
indifference, acting on a disposition that was always ruthless and reckless
of personal consequences.
As soon as the chiefs had received the answers to their questions, they
walked away in silence, like men who deemed the matter disposed of, all
Lietty's dogmas being thrown away on beings trained in violence, from
infancy to manhood. Hetty and Hist were now left alone with Hutter
and Hurry, no visible restraint being placed on the movements of either;
though all four, in fact, were vigilantly and unceasingly watched. As
respects the men, care was had to prevent them from getting possession of
any of the rifles that lay scattered about, their own included; and there all
open manifestations of watchfulness ceased. But they, who were so ex-
perienced in Indian practices, knew too well how great was the distance
between appearances and reality, to become the dupes of this seeming
62 THE DEERSLA YER.
carelessness. Although both thought incessantly of the means of escape,
and this without concert, each was aware of the uselessness of attempting
any project of the sort that was not deeply laid and promptly executed.
They had been long enough in the encampment, and were sufficiently i
observant, to have ascertained that Hist also was a sort of captive; and,
presuming on the circumstance, Hutter spoke in her presence more openly
than he might otherwise have thought it prudent to do; inducing Hurry
to be equally unguarded by his example.
Have we a friend in you, young woman ? inquired Hutter, with an
increasing earnestness in the conference. "If so, you may calculate on a
solid reward, and nothing will be easier than to send you to your own tribe i
if we can once fairly get you off with us to the castle. Give us the ark
and the canoes, and we can command the lake, spite of all the savages in
the Canadas. Nothing but artillery could drive us out of the castle, if we
can get back to it."
"Father," said Hetty, Judith thinks of breaking open the big chest in
hopes of finding something in that which may buy your freedom of the
A dark look came over Hutter at the announcement of this fact, and he
muttered his dissatisfaction in a way to render it intelligible to all present.
What for no break open chest ? put in Hist. Life sweeter than old
chest-scalp sweeter than old chest. If no tell darter to break him open,
Wah-ta !-Wah no help him to run away."
"Ye know not what ye ask, ye are but silly girls, and the wisest way for
ye both is to speak of what ye understand, and to speak of nothing else.
I little like this cold neglect of the savages, Hurry; it's a proof that they
think of something serious, and if we are to do anything, we must do it
soon. Can we count on this young woman, think you? "
Listen," said Hist, quickly, and with an earnestness that proved how
much her feelings were concerned, Wah-ta !-Wah no Iroquois, all over
Delaware, got Delaware heart, Delaware feeling. She prisoner, too. One
prisoner help t'other prisoner. No good to talk more now. Darter stay
with father. Wah-ta !-Wah come and see friend. All look right-then
tell what he do."
This was said in a low voice, but distinctly, and in a manner to make an
impression. As soon as it was uttered, the girl arose and left the group,
walking composedly towards the hut she occupied, as if she had no further
interest in what might pass between the three pale-faces.
WE left the occupants of the castle and the ark buried in sleep. Once
or twice in the course of the night, it is true, Deerslayer or the Delaware
arose and looked out upon the tranquil lake, when, finding all safe, they
returned to their pallets and slept like men who were not easily deprived
of their natural rest. At the first signs of the dawn the former arose,
however, and made his personal arrangements for the day, though his
companion, whose nights had not been tranquil or without disturbance of
late, continued on his blanket until the sun had fairly risen. Judith, too,
THE DEERSLA YER.
was later than common that morning, for the earlier hours of the night
had brought her little of either refreshment or sleep. But ere the sun had
shown himself over the eastern hills these two were up and afoot, even the
tardy in that region seldom remaining on their pallets after the appearance
of the great luminary.
Chingachgook was in the act of arranging his forest toilet when Deer-
slayer entered the cabin of the ark, and threw him a few coarse but light
summer vestments that belonged to Hutter.
Judith hath given me them for your use, Chief," said the latter, as he
cast the jacket and trousers at the feet of the Indian, for it's ag'in all
prudence and caution to be seen in your war-dress and paint. Wash off
all them fiery streaks from your cheeks, put on these garments, and here is
a hat, such as it is, that will give you an awful oncivilized sort of civiliza-
tion, as the missionaries call it. Remember that Hist is at hand, and what
we do for the maiden must be done while we are doing for others. I know
it's ag'in your gifts and your natur' to wear clothes, unless they are cut
and carried in a red man's fashion, but make a vartue of necessity and pit
these on at once, even if they do rise a little in your throat."
Chingachgook, or the Serpent, eyed the vestments with strong disgust,
but he saw the usefulness of the disguise, if not its absolute necessity.
Should the Iroquois discover a red man in or about the castle, it might,
indeed, place them more on their guard, and give their suspicions a
direction towards their female captive. Anything was better than a failure
as it regarded his betrothed, and after turning the different garments round
and round, examining them with a species of grave irony, affecting to draw
them on in a way that defeated itself, and otherwise manifesting the re-
luctance of a young savage to confine his limbs in the usual appliances of
civilized life, the chief submitted to the directions of his companion, and
finally stood forth, so far as the eye could detect, a red man in colour alone.
Little was to be apprehended from this last peculiarity, however, the dis-
tance from the shore, and the want of glasses, preventing any very close
scrutiny; and Deerslayer himself, though of a brighter and fresher tint,
had a countenance that was burnt by the sun to a hue scarcely less red
than that of his Mohican companion. The awkwardness of the Delaware
in his new attire caused his friend to smile more than once that day, but
he carefully abstained from the use of any of those jokes which would have
been bandied among white men on such an occasion,; the habits of a chief,
the dignity of a warrior on his first path, and the gravity of the circum-
stances in which they were placed uniting to render so much levity out of
The meeting at the morning meal of the three islanders, if we may use
the term, was silent, grave, and thoughtful. Judith showed by her looks
that she had passed an unquiet night, while the two men had the future
before them, with its unseen and unknown events. A few words of
courtesy passed between Deerslayer and the girl in the course of the
breakfast, but no allusion was made to their situation. At length, Judith,
whose heart was full, and whose novel feelings disposed her to entertain
sentiments more gentle and tender than common, introduced the subject,
and this in a way to show how much of her thoughts it had occupied in
the course of the last sleepless night.
It would be dreadful, Deerslayer," the girl abruptly exclaimed, "should
anything serious befall my father and Hetty! We cannot remain quietly
THE DEERSLA YER.
here, and leave them in the hands of the Iroquois, without bethinking us
of some means of serving them."
"I'm ready, Judith, to sarve them, and all others who are in trouble,
could the way to do it be p'inted out. It's no trifling matter to fall into,
red-skin hands, when men set out on an a'r'n'd like that which took Hutter
and Hurry ashore; that I know as well as another; and I wouldn't wish
my worst inimy in such a strait, much less them with whom I've journeyed,
and eat and slept. Have you any scheme that you would like to have the
Sarpent and me indivour to carry out ? said Deerslayer.
I know of no other means to release the prisoners, than by bribing the
Iroquois. They are not proof against presents; and we might offer
enough, perhaps, to make them think it better to carry away what to them
will be rich gifts, than to carry away poor prisoners; if, indeed, they should
carry them away at all "
This is well enough, Judith; yes, it's well enough, if the inimy is to
be bought, and we can find articles to make the purchase with. Your
father has a convenient lodge, and it is most cunningly placed; though it.
doesn't seem overstock'd with riches that will be likely to buy his ransom.
There's the piece he calls Kildeer might count for something, and I under-
stand there's a keg of powder about, which might be a make-weight,
sartain; and yet two able-bodied men are not to be bought off for a trifle.'
"This is horrible," muttered the girl, struck by the homely manner in
which her companion was accustomed to state his facts. But you over-
look my own clothes, Deerslayer; and they, I think, might go far with the
women of the Iroquois. And, besides, there is the chest."
"Ay, there is the chist, as you say, Judith; and when the question gets,
to between a secret and a scalp, I should think most men would prefer
keeping the last. Did your father ever give you any downright command
consarning that chist ?"
"Never. He has always appeared to think its locks, and its steel bands,
and its strength, its best protection."
"'Tis a rare chist, and altogether of curious build," returned Deerslayer,
rising and approaching the thing in question, on which he seated himself,
with a view to examine it with greater ease. Chingachgook, this is no
wood that comes of any forest that you or I have ever trailed through I
'Tisn't the black walnut; and yet it's quite as comely, if not more so, did
the smoke and the treatment give it fair play."
The Delaware drew near, felt of the wood, examined its grain, endeavoured
to indent the surface with a nail, and passed his hand curiously over the
steel bands, the heavy padlocks, and the other novel peculiarities of the '
"No-nothing like this grows in these regions," resumed Deerslayer; ,
"I've seen all the oaks, both the maples, the elms, the basswood, all the.
walnuts, the butternuts, and every tree that has a substance and colour,.
wrought into some form or other; but never have I before seen such a wood
as this! Judith, the chist itself would buy your father's freedom: or
iroquois cur'osity isn't as strong as red-skin cur'osity in general; especially
m the matter of woods."
The purchase might be cheaper made, perhaps, Deerslayer. The chest
Is full, and it would be better to part with-half than to part with the whole.
Besides, father-I know not why-but father values that chest highly."
"He would seem to prize what it holds more than the chist itself, judging
THE DEERSLA YER.
by the manner in which he treats the outside, and secures the inside. Here
are three locks, Judith; is there no key? "
"I've never seen one; and yet key there must be, since Hetty told us she
had often seen the chest opened."
Keys no more lie in the air, or float on the water, than humans, gal;
if there is a key, there must be a place in which it is kept."
That is true, and it might not be difficult to find it, did we dare to
"I hope you do not believe I can'hesitate, when my father's life's in
Deerslayer, if we can find the key, I will authorize you to open the
chest, and to take such things from it as you may think will buy father's
First find the key, gal; we'll talk of the rest afterwards. Sarpent,
you've eyes like a fly, and a judgment that's seldom out; can you help us
in calculating where Floating Tom would be apt to keep the key of a chist
that he holds to be as private as this ?"
As it was certain that the desired key was not to be found in any of the
common drawers or closets, of which there were several in the building,
none looked there, but all turned their inquiries to those places that struck
them as ingenious hiding-places, and more likely to be used for such a
They now entered the bedroom of the daughters. Chingachgook was
immediately struck with the contrast between the articles and the arrange-
ment of that side of the room that might be called Judith's and that which
more properly belonged to Hetty. A slight exclamation escaped him, and
pointing in each direction, he alluded to the fact in a low voice, speaking to
his friend in the Delaware tongue.
"As you think, Sarpent," answered Deerslayer, whose remarks we
always translate into English, preserving as much as possible of the peculiar
phraseology and manner of the man. "'Tis just so, as any one may see;
and 'tis all founded in natur'. One sister loves finery, some say, overmuch,
while t'other is as meek and lowly as God ever created goodness and truth.
Yet, after all, I dare say that Judith has her vartues and Hetty has her
And the Feeble-Mind' has seen the chest opened ? inquired Chin-
gachgook, with curiosity in his glance.
Sartain; that much I've heard from her own lips ; and, for that matter,
so have you. It seems her father doesn't misgive her discretion, though he
does that of his eldest darter."
Then the key is hid only from the Wild Rose for so Chingachgook
had begun gallantly to term Judith in his private discourse with his friend.
"That's it! That's just it One he trusts and the other he doesn't.
There's red and white, Sarpent; all tribes-and nations agreeing in trusting
some and refusing to trust other some. It depends on character and judg-
Where could a key be put, so little likely to be found by the Wild Rose,
as among coarse clothes? "
Deerslayer started, and turning to his friend with admiration expressed
in every lineament of his face, he fairly laughed, in his silent but hearty
manner, at the ingenuity and readiness of the conjecture.
"Your name's well bestowed, Sarpent-yes, 'tis well bestowed Sure
66 THE DEERSLA YER.
enough, where would a lover of finery be so little likely to s'arch as among
garments as coarse and unseemly as those of poor Hetty. I dare say
Judith's delicate fingers haven't touch'd a bit of cloth as rough and oncomely
as that petticoat now, since she first made acquaintance with the officers t
Yet who knows ? The key may be as likely to be on the same peg as in
any other place. Take down the garment, Delaware, and let us see if you
are ra'ally a prophet."
Chingachgook did as desired, but no key was found. A coarse
pocket, apparently empty, hung on the adjoining peg, and this was next
examined. By this time the attention of Judith was called in that direc-
tion, and she spoke hurriedly and like one who wished to save unnecessary
"These are only the clothes of poor Hetty, dear, simple girl! she said;.
nothing we seek would be likely to be there."
The words were hardly out of the handsome mouth of the speaker when
Chingachgook drew the desired key from the pocket. The former- who had
taken the key from the Indian, led the way into the adjoining room, and
applying it-to a lock, ascertained that the right instrument had actually
been found. There were three padlocks, each of which, however, was easily
opened by this single key. Deerslayer removed them all, loosened the
hasps, raised the lid a little to make certain it was loose, and then he drew
back from the chest several feet, signing to his friend to follow.
This is a family chist, Judith," he said, "and 'tis like to hold family
secrets. The Sarpent and I will go 'ito the ark and look to the canoes,.
and paddles, and oars; while you can examine it by yourself, and find out
whether anything that will be a make-weight in a ransom is or is not among
the articles. When you've got through give us a call, and we'll all sit in
council together touching the value of the articles."
"Stop, Deerslayer! exclaimed the girl, as he was about to withdraw;
"not a single thing will I touch-I will not even raise the lid-unless you
are present. Father and Hetty have seen fit to keep the inside of this chest.
a secret from me, and I am much too proud to pry into their hidden
treasures unless it were for their own good. But on no account will I open
the chest alone. Stay with me, then. I want witnesses of what I do."
I rather think, Sarpent, that the gal is right! Confidence and reliance-
beget security, but suspicion is like to make us all wary. Judith has a
right to ask us to be present; and should the chist hold any of Master
Butter's secrets, they will fall into the keeping of two as close-mouthed
young men as are to be found. We will stay with you, Judith; but first
let us take a look at the lake and the shore, for this chist will not be emptied
in a minute."
The two men now went out on the platform, and Deerslayer swept the
shore with the glass, while the Indian gravely turned his eye on the water
and the woods, in quest of any sign that might betray the machinations of
their enemies. Nothing was visible, and assured of their temporary security,
the three collected around the chest again, with the avowed object of open-
Finding that both her companions were watching her movements in grave
silence, Judith placed a hand on the lid, and endeavoured to raise it. Her
strength, however, was insufficient, and it appeared to the girl, who was.
fully aware that all the fastenings were removed, that she was resisted in an
unhallowed attempt by some supernatural power.
THE DEERSLA YER. 67
I cannot raise the lid, Deerslayer," she said; had we not better give
up the attempt, and find some other means of releasing the prisoners ?"
"Not so, Judith; not so, gal. No means are as sartain and easy as a
good bribe," answered the other. "As for the lid, 'tis held by nothing but
its own weight, which is prodigious for so small a piece of wood, loaded with
iron as it is."
As Deerslayer spoke, he applied his own strength to the effort, and
succeeded in raising the lid against the timbers of the house, where he
took care to secure it by a sufficient prop. Judith fairly trembled, as she
cast her first glance at the interior; and she felt a temporary relief in
discovering that a piece of canvas, that was carefully tucked in around the
edges, effectually concealed all beneath it. The chest was apparently well
stored, however, the canvas lying within an inch of the lid.
"Here's a full cargo," said Deerslayer, eyeing the arrangement; "and
we had needs go to work leisurely, and at our ease. Sarpent, bring some
stools, while I spread this blanket on the floor, and then we'll begin work
orderly, and in comfort."
The Delaware complied; Deerslayer civilly placed a stool for Judith,.
took one himself, and commenced the removal of the canvas covering.
This was done deliberately, and in as cautious a manner as if it were
believed that fabrics of a delicate construction lay hidden beneath. When
the canvas was removed, the first articles that came in view were some of the
habiliments of the male sex. These were of fine materials, and, according
to the fashions of the age, were gay i:i.i r .. and rich in ornaments. One
coat in particular was of scarlet, and had button-holes worked in gold
"Lay the coat down on the blanket, Sarpent, and let us look further into
The tempting garment, one surely that was never intended for Hutfer,
was laid aside, and the examination proceeded. The male attire, all of
which corresponded with the coat in quality, was soon exhausted, and then
succeeded female. A beautiful dress of brocade, a little the worse from
negligent treatment, followed; and this time open exclamations of delight
escaped the lips of Judith. Much as the girl had been addicted to dress,
andfavourable as had been her opportunities of seeing some little preten-
sion in that way among the wives of the different commandants and other
ladies of the forts, never before had she beheld a tissue or tints to equal
those that were now so unexpectedly placed before her eyes. Her rapture was
almost childish; nor would she allow the inquiry to proceed until she had
attired her person in a robe so unsuited to her habits and her abode. With
this end, she withdrew into her own room, where, with hands practised in
such offices, she soon got rid of her own neat gown of linen, and stood forth
in the gay tints of the brocade. The dress happened to fit the fine, full
person of Judith, and certainly it had never adorned a being better qualified
by natural gifts to do credit to its really rich hues and fine texture. When
she returned, both Deerslayer and Chingachgook, who had passed the brief
time of her absence in taking a second look at the male garments, arose in
surprise, each permitting exclamations of wonder and pleasure to escape.
him in a way so unequivocal as to add new lustre to the eyes of Judith,
by flushing her cheeks with a glow of triumph. Affecting, however, not to
notice the impression she had made, the girl seated herself with the state-
liness of a queen, desiring that the chest might be looked into further.
THE DEERSLA YER.
I don't know a better way to treat with the Mingos, gal," cried Deer-
slayer, than to send you ashore, as you be, and to tell 'em that a queen has
arrived among 'em! ,They'll give up old Hutter, and Hurry, and Hetty,
too, at such a spectacle!"
I thought your tongue too honest to flatter, Deeeslayer," returned the
girl, gratified at this admiration more than she would have cared to own.
"'One of the chief reasons of my respect for you was your love for truth."
And 'tis truth, and solemn truth, Judith, and nothing else. Never did
eyes of mine gaze on as glorious a looking' creature' as you be yourself, at
this very moment! I've seen beauties in my time, too, both white and red;
and them that was renowned and talk'd of, far and near; but never have I
beheld one that could hold comparison with what you are at this blessed
instant, Judith; never."
The glance of delight which the girl bestowed on the frank-speaking
hunter in no degree lessened the effect of her charms.
When these two remarkable suits, male and female they might be termed,
were removed, another canvas covering separated the remainder of the
articles from the part of the chest which they had occupied. As soon as
Deerslayer perceived this arrangement he paused, doubtful of the propriety
of proceeding any further.
The articles that lay uppermost when the curtain was raised on the con-
tents of the chest were a pair of pistols, curiously inlaid with silver. Their
value would have been considerable in one of the towns, though as weapons
in the woods they were a species of arms seldom employed-never, indeed,
unless it might be by some officer from Europe who visited the colonies, as
many were then wont to do, so much impressed with the superiority of the
usages of London as to fancy they were not to be laid aside on the frontier
of America. What occurred on the discovery of these weapons will appear
in the succeeding chapter.
No sooner did Deerslayer raise the pistols than he turned to the Dela-
ware, and held them up for his admiration.
Child gun," said the Serpent, smiling, while he handled one of the
instruments as if it had been a toy.
Not it, Sarpent; not it. 'Tis made for a man, and would satisfy a
giant if rightly used. But stop; white men are remarkable for their care-
lessness for putting away firearms in chists and corners. Let me look if
care has been given to these weapons."
As Deerslayer spoke, he took the weapon from the hand of his friend
and opened the pan. The last was filled with priming, caked like a bit of
cinder by time, moisture and compression. An application of the ramrod
showed that both the pistols were charged, although Judith could testify
that they had probably lain for years in the chest. It is not easy to por-
tray the surprise of the Indian at this discovery, for he was in the practice
of renewing his priming daily, and of looking to the contents of his piece
at other short intervals.
This is white neglect," said Deerslayer, shaking his head, and scarce a
THE DEERSLA YER. 69
season goes by that some one in the settlements don't suffer from it. It's
extr'ornary too, Judith-yes, it's downright extr'ornary that the owner
shall fire his piece at a deer or some other game, or perhaps at an inimy,
and twice out of three times he'll miss; but let him catch an accident with
one of these forgotten charges, and he makes it sartain death to a child, or
a brother, or a fri'nd! Well, we shall do a good turn to the owner if we
fire these pistols for him; and as they're novelties to you and me, Sarpeft,
we'll try our hands at a mark. Freshen that priming, and I'll do the same
with this, and then we'll see who is the best man with a pistol; as for the
rifle, that's long been settled atween us."
Deerslayer laughed heartily at his own conceit, and in a minute or two
they were both standing on the platform, selecting some object in the ark
for their target. Judith was led by curiosity to their side.
Stand back, gal, stand a little back; these weapons have been long
loaded," said Deerslayer, and some accident may happen in the dis-
Then you shall not fire them Give them both to the Delaware; or it
would be better to unload them without firing."
"That's ag'in usage-and some people say ag'in manhood; though I
hold to no such silly doctrine. We must fire 'em, Judith; yes, we must
fire them, though I foresee that neither will have any great reason to boast
of his skill."
Judith, in the main, was a girl of great personal spirit, and her habits
prevented her from feeling any of the terror that is apt to come over her
sex at the report of firearms. She had discharged many a rifle, and had
even been known to kill a deer under circumstances that were favourable
to the effort. She submitted, therefore, falling a little back by the side of
Deerslayer, giving the Indian the front of the platform to himself. Chin-
gachgook raised the weapon several times, endeavoured to steady it by using
both hands, changed his attitude from one that was awkward to another
still more so, and finally drew the trigger with a sort of desperate indiffer-
ence, without having in reality secured any aim at all. The consequence
was, that instead of hitting the knot which had been selected for the mark,
he missed the ark altogether, the bullet skipping along the water like a
stone that was thrown by hand.
"Well done, Sarpent--well done cried Deerslayer, laughing with his
noiseless glee, "you've hit the lake, and that's an expl'ite for some men!
I know'd it, and as much as said it here to Judith; for your short weapons
don't belong to red-skin gifts. You've hit the lake, and that's better than
only hitting the air! Now stand back, and let us see what white gifts can
do with a white we'pon. A pistol isn't a rilqe; but colour is colour."
The aim of Deerslayer was both quick and steady, and the report fol-
lowed almost as soon as the weapon rose. Still the pistol hung fire, as it
is termed, and fragments of it flew in a dozen directions, some falling on
the roof of the castle, others in the ark, and one in the water. Judith
screamed, and when the two men turned anxiously towards the girl she
was as pale as death, trembling in every limb.
"She's wounded-yes, the poor gal's wounded, Sarpent, though one
couldn't foresee it, standing where she did. We'll lead her in to a seat,
and we must do the best for her that our knowledge and skill can afford."
Judith suffered herself to be supported to a seat, swallowed a mouthful
of the water that the Delaware offered her in a gourd, and after a violent
70 THE DEERSLA YER.
fit of trembling, that seemed ready to shake her fine frame to dissolution,
she burst into tears.
The pain must be borne, poor Judith-yes, it must be borne," said
Deerslayer, soothingly; though I am far from wishing you not to weep;
for weeping often lightens galish feeling's. Where can she be hurt, Sarpent ?
I see no signs of blood, nor any rent of skin or garments."
"I am uninjured, Deerslayer," stammered the girl through her tears.
"It's fright-nothing more, I do assure you; and God be praised no one,
I find, has been hurt by the accident. And you, Deerslayer," she at length
succeeded in saying, "-are you indeed altogether unhurt ? It seems almost
miraculous that a pistol should have burst m your hand, and you escape
without the loss of a limb, if not of life "
Such wonders ar'n't oncommon at all among worn-out arms. The first
rifle they gave me played the same trick, and yet I lived through it, though
not as onharmless as I've got out of this affair. Thomas Hutter is master
of one pistol less than he was this
S morning; but as it happened in
trying to sarve him, there's no
ground of complaint. Now draw
near, and let us look further into
Sthe inside of the chist."
Deerslayer had opened a small
bag, from which he was taking, one
by one, the pieces of a set of chess-
men. They were of ivory, much
larger than common, and exqui-
sitely wrought. Each piece repre-
Ssented the character or thing after
which it is named; the knights
Being mounted, the castles stood
on elephants, and even the pawns
Possessed the heads and busts of
nmen. The set was not complete,
and a few fractures betrayed bad
usage; but all that was left had
l b been carefully put away and pre-
served. Even Judith expressed
wonder as these novel objects were
placed before her eyes, and Chingachgook fairly forgot his Indian dignity
in admiration and delight. The latter took up each piece and examined it
with never tiring satisfaction, pointing out to the girl the more ingenious
and striking portions of the workmanship. But the elephants gave him
the greatest pleasure. The hughs that he uttered as he passed his
fingers over their trunks, and ears, and tails were very distinct; nor did he
fail to note the pawns, which were armed as archers.
This discovery of the uses of the extraordinary-looking little images
settled the affair of the proposed ransom. It was agreed generally-
and all understood the weaknesses and tastes of Indians-that nothing
could be more likely to tempt the cupidity of the Iroquois than the
elephants in particular. Luckily, the whole of the castles were among the
peices, and these four tower-bearing animals it was finally determined
should be the ransom offered. The remainder of the men, and, indeed,
THE DEERSLAYER. 71
all the rest of the articles in the chest, were to be kept out of view, and
to be resorted to only as a last appeal. As soon as these preliminaries
were settled, everything but those intended for the bribe was carefully
replaced in the chest, and all the covers were "tucked in," as they had
been found; and it was quite possible, could butter have been put in
possession of the castle again, that he might have passed the remainder of
his days in it, without even suspecting the invasion that had been made
on the privacy of the chest. The rent pistol would have been the most
likely to reveal the secret; but this was placed by the side of its fellow,
and all were pressed down as before-some half-a-dozen packages in the
bottom of the chest not having been opened at all. When this was done,
the lid was lowered, the padlocks replaced, and the key turned. The
latter was then placed in the pocket from which it had been taken.
"Well, Judith," said Deerslayer, rising, after the interview had lasted
much longer than even he himself suspected, "'tis pleasant convarsing with
you, and settling all these matters, but duty calls us another way. All
this time, Hurry and your father, not to say Hetty--"
This word was cut short in the speaker's mouth, for at that critical
moment a light step was heard on the platform, or courtyard, a human
figure darkened the doorway, and the person last mentioned stood before
him. The low exclamation that escaped Deerslayer, and the slight scream
of Judith, were hardly uttered, when an Indian youth, between the ages
of fifteen and seventeen, stood beside her. These two entrances had been
made with moccasined feet, and consequently almost without noise; but
unexpected and stealthy as they were, they had not the effect to disturb
Deerslayer's self-possession. His first measure was to speak rapidly in
Delaware to his friend, cautioning him to keep out of sight, while he stood
on his guard; the second was to step to the door to ascertain the extent
of the danger. No one else, however, had come; and a simple contrivance,
in the shape of a raft, that lay floating at the side of the ark, at once
explained the means that had been used in bringing Hetty off. Two dead
and dry, and consequently buoyant, logs of pine were bound together with
pines and withes, and a little platform of riven chestnut had been rudely
placed on their surfaces. Here Hetty had been seated on a billet of wood,
while the young Iroquois had rowed the primitive and slow-moving, but
perfectly safe, craft from the shore. As soon as Deerslayer had taken a
close survey of this craft, and satisfied himself nothing else was near, he
shook his head, and muttered in his soliloquizing way:-
This comes of prying into another man's chist I Had we been watch-
ful and keen-eyed, such a surprise could never have happened; and getting
this much from a boy teaches us what we may expect when the old warriors
set themselves fairly about their sarcumventions. It opens the way,
however, to a treaty for the ransom, and I will hear what Hetty has to
Judith, as soon as her surprise and alarm had a little abated, discovered
a proper share of affectionate joy at the return of her sister. She folded
her to her bosom, and kissed her, as had been her wont in the days of
their childhood and innocence. Hetty herself was less affected, for to her
there was no surprise, and her nerves were sustained by the purity and
holiness of her purpose. At her sister's request she took a seat, and
,entered into an account of her adventures since they had parted. Her
ale commenced just as Deerslayer returned, and he also became an atten-
72 THE DEERSLA YER.
tive listener, while the young Iroquois stood near the door, seemingly as
indifferent to what was passing as one of its posts.
The narrative of the girl was sufficiently clear until she reached the time
where we left her in the camp, after the interview with the chiefs, and at
the moment when Hist quitted her in the abrupt manner already stated.
The sequel of the story may be told in her own language.
When I read the texts to the chiefs, Judith, you could not have seen
that they made any changes on their minds," she said, "but if seed is
planted it will grow. God planted the seeds of all the trees-"
"Ay, that did He-that did He," muttered Deerslayer; "and a goodly
harvest has followed."
"God planted the seeds of all the trees," continued Hetty, after a
moment's pause, "and you see to what a height and shade they have
grown! So it is with the Bible. You may read a verse this year, and
forget it, and it will come back to you a year hence, when you least expect
to remember it."
And did you find anything of this among the savages, poor Hetty ?"
Yes, Judith, and sooner and more fully than I had even hoped. I did
not stay long with father and Hurry, but went to get my breakfast with
Hist. As soon as we had done, the chiefs came to us, and then we found
the fruits of the seed that had been planted. They said what I had read
from the good book was right-it must be right-it sounded right; like a
sweet bird singing in their ears; and they told me to come back and say as
much to the great warrior who had slain one of their braves; and to tell it
to you, and to say how happy they should be to come to church here in the
castle, or to come out in the sun and hear me read more of the sacred
volume-and to tell you that they wish you would lend them some canoes
that they can bring father and Hurry and their women to the castle, that
we might all sit on the platform there, and listen to the singing of the
pale-face Manitou. There, Judith; did you ever know of anything that
so plainly shows the power of the Bible as that! "
"If it were true, wouldd be a miracle, indeed, Hetty. But all this is no
more than Indian cunning and Indian treachery, striving to get the better
of us by management, when they find it is not to be done by force."
"Do you doubt the Bible, sister, that you judge the savages so
"I do not doubt the Bible, poor Hetty, but I much doubt an Indian and
an Iroquois. What do you say to this visit, Deerslayer ?"
"First let me talk a little with Hetty," returned the party appealed to;
"was this raft made after you had got your breakfast, gal; and did you
walk from the camp to the shore opposite to us here ? "
"Oh no, Deerslayer. The raft was ready made, and in the water-
could that have been by a miracle, Judith ? "
Yes-yes-an Indian miracle," rejoined the hunter. They're expert
enough in them sort of miracles. And you found the raft ready made to
your hands, and in the water, and in waiting like for its cargo ? "
It was all as you say. The raft was near the camp, and the Indians
put me on it, and had ropes of bark, and they dragged me to the place
opposite to the castle, and then they told that young man to, row me off
"And the woods are full of the vagabonds, waiting to know what is to
be the upshot of the miracle. We comprehend this affair now,, Judith, and
THE DEERSLA YER. 73
I'll first get rid of this young Canadian blood-sucker, and then we'll settle
our own course. Do you and Hetty leave us together, first bringing me
the elephants, which the Sarpent is admiring; for 'twill never do to let
this loping deer be alone a minute, or he'll borrow a canoe without asking."
Judith did as desired, first bringing the pieces, and retiring with her
sister into their own room. Deerslayer had acquired some knowledge of
most of the Indian dialects of that region, and he knew enough of the
Iroquois to hold a dialogue in the language. Beckoning to the lad, there-
fore, he caused him to take a seat on the chest, when he placed two of the
castles suddenly before him. Up to that moment, this youthful savage
had not expressed a single intelligible emotion or fancy. There were many
things in and about the place that were novelties to him, but he had main-
tained his self-command with philosophical composure. It is true, Deer-
slayer had detected his dark eyes scanning the defences and the arms, but
the scrutiny had been made with such an air of innocence, in such a
gaping, indolent, boyish manner, that no one but a man who had himself
been taught in a similar school would have even suspected his object. The
instant, however, the eyes of the savage fell upon the wrought ivory, and
the images of the wonderful, unknown beasts, surprise and admiration got,
the mastery of him. The manner in which the natives of the South Sea.
Islands first beheld the toys of -civilized life has been often described; but
the reader is not to confound it with the manner of an American Indian.
under similar circumstances. In this particular case, the young Iroquois,
or Huron, permitted an exclamation of rapture to escape him, and then he
checked himself like one who had been guilty of an indecorum. After
this, his eyes ceased to wander, but became riveted on the elephants, one
of which, after a short hesitation, he even presumed to handle. Deerslayer
did not interrupt him for quite ten minutes, knowing that the lad was
taking such note of the curiosities as would enable him to give the most
minute and accurate description of their appearance to his seniors on his
return. When he thought sufficient time had been allowed to produce the.
desired effect, the hunter laid a finger on the naked knee of the youth, and
drew his attention to himself.
"Listen," he said; "I want to talk with my young friend from the
Canadas. Let him forget that wonder for a minute."
Where t'other pale brother ? demanded the boy, looking up, and
letting the idea that had been most prominent in his mind, previously to,
the introduction of the chessmen, escape him involuntarily.
"He sleeps-or if he isn't fairly asleep, he is in the room where the men
do sleep," returned Deerslayer. How did my young friend know there
was another ? "
See him from the shore. Iroquois have got long eyes-see beyond the
clouds-see the bottom of the great spring! "
"Well, the Iroquois are welcome. Two pale-faces are prisoners in the
camp of your fathers, boy."
The lad nodded, treating the circumstance with great apparent in-
difference; though a moment after he laughed, as if exulting in the
superior address of his own tribe.
Can you tell me, boy, what your chiefs intend to do with these cap-
tyves ; or haven't they yet made up their minds ? "
The lad looked a moment at the hunter with a little surprise: then he
coolly put the end of his fore-finger on his own head, just above the left
THE DEERSLA YER.
ear, and passed it round his crown, with an accuracy and readiness that
showed how well he had been drilled in the peculiar art of his race.
"When ? demanded Deerslayer, whose gorge rose at this cool demon-
stration of indifference to human life. "And why not take them to your
wigwams ? "
"Road too long, and full of pale-faces. Wigwam full, and scalps sell
high. Small scalp, much gold."
"Well, that explains it-yes, that does explain it. There's no need of
being any plainer. Now you know, lad, that the oldest of your prisoners
is the father of these two young women, and the other is the suitor of one
of them. The gals naturally wish to save the scalps of such friends, and
they will give them two ivory creature's as ransom--one for each scalp.
Go back and tell this to your chiefs, and bring me the answer before the
The boy entered zealously into this project, and with a sincerity that
left no doubt of his. executing his commission with intelligence and
promptitude. For a moment he forgot his love of honour, and all his
clannish hostility to the British and their Indians, in his wish to have
such a treasure in his tribe; and Deerslayer was satisfied with the im-
pression he had made. It is true, the lad proposed to carry one of the
elephants with him, as a specimen of the other, but to this his brother
negotiator was too sagacious to consent, well knowing that it might never
reach its destination, if confided to such hands. This little difficulty was
soon arranged, and then the boy prepared to depart. As he stood on the
platform, ready to step aboard of the raft, he hesitated, and turned short
with a proposal to borrow a canoe, as the means most likely to shorten the
negotiation. Deerslayer quietly refused the request, and after lingering a
little longer, the boy rowed slowly away from the castle, taking the direc-
tion of a thicket on the shore, that lay less than half a mile distant.
Deerslayer seated himself on a stool, and watched the progress of the
ambassador, sometimes closely scanning the whole line of shore as far as
eye could reach, and then placing an elbow on a knee, he remained a
long time with his chin resting on the hand.
During the interview between Deerslayer and the lad, a different scene
took place in the adjoining room. Hetty had inquired for the Delaware,
and being told why and where he remained concealed, she joined him.
The reception which Chingachgook gave his visitor was respectful and gentle.
He understood her character; and no doubt his disposition to be kind to
such a being was increased by the hope of learning some tidings of his
betrothed. As soon as the girl entered, she took a seat, and invited the
Indian to place himself near her; and then she continued silent, as if she
thought it decorous for him to question her before she consented to speak
on the subject she had on her mind. But as Chingachgook did not under-
stand this feeling, he remained respectfully attentive to anything she
might be pleased to tell him.
You are Chingaehgook, the Great Serpent of the Delawares, ar'n't
you ?" the girl at length commenced, in her own simple way, losing her
self-command in the desire to proceed, but anxious first to make sure of
Chingachgook," returned the Delaware, with grave dignity. That
ay Great Sarpent in Deerslayer tongue."
Well, that is my tongue. Deerslayer, and father, and Judith, and I,
THE DEERSLA YER.
and poor Hurry Harry-do you know Henry March, Great Sarpent ? I
know you don't, however, or he would have spoken of you too."
"Did any tongue name Chingachgook, Drooping-Lily ? for so the
*chief had named poor Hetty. Was his name sung by a little bird among
the Iroquois? "
Hetty did not answer at first; but with that indescribable feeling that
awakens sympathy and intelligence among the youthful and unpractised of
her sex, she hung her head, and the blood suffused her cheek ere she found
her tongue. It would have exceeded her stock of intelligence to explain
this embarrassment; but though poor Hetty could not reason on every
emergency, she could always feel. The colour slowly receded from her
.cheek, and the girl looked up archly at the Indian, smiling with the
innocence of a child, mingled with the interest of a woman.
My sister, the Drooping-Lily, hear such bird! Chingachgook added,
and this with a gentleness of tone and manner that would have astonished
those who sometimes heard the discordant cries that often came from the
same throat; these transitions from the harsh and guttural to the soft and
melodious not being infrequent in ordinary Indian dialogues. My
sister's ears were open-has she lost her tongue ? "
You are Chingachgook-you must be ? for there is no other red man
here, and she thought Chingachgook would come."
Chin-gach-gook," pronouncing the same slowly, and dwelling on each
syllable; Great Sarpent, Yengeese* tongue."
"Chin-gach-gook," repeated Hetty, in the same deliberate manner.
"Yes, so Hist called it, and you must be the chief."
"Wah-ta !-Wah," added the Delaware.
"Wah-ta !-Wah, or Hist-oh !-Hist. I think Hist prettier than Wah, and
so I call her Hist,"
Wah very sweet in Delaware ears "
"You make it sound differently from me. But never mind; I did
hear the bird you speak of sing, Great Serpent."
"Will my sister say words of song? What she sing most-how she
look-often she laugh "
She sang Chin-gach-gook oftener than anything else; and she laughed
heartily when I told how the Iroquois waded into the water after us, and
couldn't catch us. I hope these logs haven't ears, Serpent! "
"No fear logs; fear, sister, next room. No fear Iroquois. Deerslayer
stuff his eyes and ears with strange beast."
"I understand you, Serpent, and I understood Hist. Sometimes I
think I'm not half as feeble-minded as they say I am. Now, do you look
up at the roof, and I'll tell you all. But you frighten me, you look so
eager when I speak of Hist."
It is singular there should be any question concerning the origin of the well-known
-sobriquet of Yankees." Nearly all the old writers, who speak of the Indians first known
to the Colonists, make them pronounce the word "English as "Yengeese." Even at
this day, it is a provincialism of New England to say "English," instead of "Inglish," and
there is a close conformity of sound between English and "Yengeese," more especially
if the latter word, as was probably the case, be pronounced short. The transition from
"Yengheese," thus pronounced, to "Yankees" is quite easy. If the former is pronounced
"Yangis," it is almost identical with Yankees," and Indian words have seldom been spelt
as they are pronounced. Thus the scene of this tale is spelt Otsego," and is properly
pronounced "Otsago." The liquids of the Indians would easily convert "En" into
THE DEERSLA YER
The Indian controlled his looks, and affected to comply with the simple-
request of the girl.
Hist told me to say in a very low voice that you mustn't trust the
Iroquois in anything. They are more artful than any Indians she knows.
Then she says that there is a large bright star that comes over the hill
about an hour after dark-(Hist had pointed out the planet Jupiter with-
out knowing it)-and just as that star comes in sight, she will be on the
point where I landed last night, and that you must come for her in a
Good-Chingachgook understand well enough now; but he understand.
better if my sister sing to him ag'in."
Hetty repeated her words, more fully explaining what star was meant,
and mentioning the part of the point where he was to venture ashore. She
now proceeded in her own unsophisticated way to relate her intercourse
with the Indian maid, and to repeat several of her expressions and opinions,
that gave great delight to the heart of her betrothed. She particularly re-
newed her injunctions to be on their guard against treachery; a warning
that was scarcely needed, however, as addressed to men as wary as those to
whom it was sent. She also explained, with sufficient clearness-for on all
such subjects the mind of the girl seldom failed her-the present state of
the enemy, and the movements they had made since morning. Hist had
been on the raft with her until it had quitted the shore; and was now
somewhere in the woods opposite to the castle, and did not intend to return.
to the camp until night approached, when she hoped to be able to slip away
from her companions as they followed the shore on their way home, and
conceal herself on the point. No one appeared to suspect the presence of
Chingachgook, though it was necessarily known that an Indian had entered
the ark the previous night, and it was suspected that he had since appeared
in and about the castle in the dress of a pale-face. Still, some little doubt
existed on the latter point; for as this was the season when white men
might be expected to arrive, there was some fear that the garrison of the
castle was increasing by these ordinary means. All this had Hist com-
municated to Hetty while the Indians were dragging them along shore; the
distance, which exceeded six miles, affording abundance of time.
Hist don't know herself whether they suspect her or not, or whether
they suspect you; but she hopes neither is the case. And now, Serpent,
since I have told you so much from your betrothed," continued Hetty, un-
consciously taking one of the Indians hands and playing with the fingers,
as a child is often seen to play with those of a parent, "you must let me
tell you something from myself. When you marry Hist you must be kind
to her, and smile on her as you do now on me, and not look cross as some
of the chiefs do at their squaws. Will you promise this? "
Alway good to Wah !-too tender to twist hard; else she break."
Yes, and smile too; you don't know how much a girl craves smiles
from them she loves. Father scarce smiled on me once, while I was with
him-and Hurry-yes, Hurry-talked loud and laughed; but I don't think
he smiled once either. You know the difference between a smile and a
"Laugh, best. Hear Wah laugh, think bird sing "
"I know that; her laugh is pleasant, but you must smile. And then,
Serpent, you mustn't make her carry burthens, and hoe corn as so many
Indians do, but treat her more as the pale-faces treat their wives."
THE DEERSTA YER.
Wah-ta !-Wah no pale-face-got red skin, red heart, red feeling's. All
red; no pale-face. Must carry papoose."
Every woman is willing to carry her child," said Hetty, smiling; "and
there is no harm in that. But you must love Hist and be gentle and good
to her, for she is gentle and good herself."
Chingachgook gravely bowed, and then he seemed to think this part of
the subject might be dismissed. Before there was time for Hetty to resume
her communications the voice of Deerslayer was heard calling on his friend
in the outer room. At this summons the Serpent arose to obey, and Hetty
joined her sister.
THE first act of the Delaware on rejoining his friend was to proceed
gravely to disencumber himself of his civilized attire, and to stand forth
an Indian warrior again. The protest of Deerslayer was met by his com-
municating the fact that the presence of an Indian in the hut was known
to the Iroquois, and that his maintaining the disguise would be more likely
to direct suspicions to his real object than if he came out openly as a
member of a hostile tribe. When the latter understood the truth, and was
told that he had been deceived in supposing the chief had succeeded in
entering the ark undiscovered, he cheerfully consented to the change, since
further attempt at concealment was useless.
I will go to the Iroquois camp," said the Delaware, gravely. No one
knows Chingachgook but Wah! and a treaty for lives and scalps should be
made by a chief Give me the strange beasts, and let me take a canoe."
Deerslayer dropped his head and played with the end of a fish-pole in
the water, as he sat dangling his legs over the edge of the platform like a
man who was lost in thought by the sudden occurrence of a novel idea.
Instead of directly answering the proposal of his friend he began to solilo-
quize; a circumstance, however, that in no manner rendered his words
more true, as he was remarkable for saying what he thought, whether the
remarks were addressed to himself or to anyone else.
Yes, yes," he said, this must be what they call love 1 I've heard say
that it sometimes upsets reason altogether, leaving a young man as helpless
as to calculation and caution as a brute beast. To think that the Sarpent
should be so lost to reason and cunning and wisdom We must sartainly
manage to get Hist off, and have 'em married as soon as we get back to the
tribe, or this war will be of no more use to the chief than a hunt a little
uncommon and extr'ornary. Yes, yes-he'll never be the man he was till
this matter is off his mind and he comes to his senses, like all the rest of
mankind. Sarpent, you can't be in airnest, and therefore I shall say but
little to your offer. But you're a chief, and will soon be sent out on the
warpath at the head of parties, and I'll just ask if you'd think of putting
your forces into the inimy's hands afore the battle is fou't ?"
"Wah ejaculated the Indian.
"Ay-Wah !-I know well enough it's Wah! and altogether Wah!
Ra'ally, Sarpent, I'm consarned and mortified about you! I never heard
so weak an idee come from a chief, and he, too, one that's already got a
name for being wise, young and inexperienced as he is. Canoe you shan't
THE DEERSLA YER.
have so long as the v'ice of friendship and warning can count for any-
My pale-face friend is right. A cloud came over the face of Chingach-
gook, and weakness got into his mind, while his eyes were dim. My brother
has a good memory for good deeds, and a weak memory for bad. He will
Yes, that's easy enough. Say no more about it, chief; but if another
of them clouds blow near you, do your endivour to get out of its way.
Clouds are bad enough in the weather, but when they come to the reason
it gets to be serious. Now sit down by me here and let us calculate our
movements a little, for we shall soon either have a truce and a peace, or we
shall come to. an actyve and bloody war. You see the vagabonds can make
logs serve their turn as well as the best raftsmen on the rivers, and it
would be no great expl'ite. for them to invade us in a body. I've been
thinking of the wisdom of putting all old Tom's stores into the ark, of
barring and locking up the castle, and of taking to the ark altogether.
That is movable, and by keeping the sail up and shifting places, we might
worry through a great many nights without them Canada wolves finding a
way into our sheepfold."
Chingachgook listened to this plan with approbation. Did the negotia-
tion fail, there was now little hope that the night would pass without an
assault: and the enemy had sagacity enough to understand that, in carry-
ing the castle they would probably become masters of all it contained, the
offered ransom included, and still retain the advantages they had hitherto
gained. Some precaution of the sort appeared to be absolutely necessary;
for now the numbers of the Iroquois were known, a night attack could
scarcely be successfully met. It would be impossible to prevent the enemy
from getting possession of the canoes and the ark, and the latter itself
would be a hold in which the assailants would be as effectually protected
against bullets as were those in the building. For a few minutes both the
men thought of sinking the ark in the shallow water, of bringing the canoes
into the house, and of depending altogether on the castle for protection.
But reflection satisfied them that in the end this expedient would fail. It
was so easy to collect logs on the shore, and to construct a raft of almost
any size, that it was certain the Iroquois, now they had turned their atten-
tion to such means, would resort to them seriously, so long as there was the
certainty of success by perseverance. After deliberating maturely, and plac-
ing all the considerations fairly before them, the two young beginners in the
art of forest warfare settled down into the opinion that the ark offered the
only available means of security. This decision was no sooner come to
than it was communicated to Judith. The girl had no serious objection to
make, and then all four set about the measures necessary for carrying the
plan into execution.
The reader will readily understand that Floating Tom's worldly goods
were of no great amount. A couple of beds, some wearing apparel, the arms
and ammunition, a few cooking utensils, with the mysterious and but half-
examined chest, formed the principal items. These were all soon removed,
the ark having been hauled on the eastern side of the building, so that the
transfer could be made without being seen from the shore. It was
thought unnecessary to disturb the heavier and coarser articles of furniture,
as they were not required in the ark, and were of but little value in them-
selves. As great caution was necessary in removing the different objects,
THE DEERSLA YER.
most of which were passed out of a window with a view to conceal what
was going on, it required two or three hours before all could be effected.
By the expiration of that time the raft made its appearance, moving from
the shore. Deerslayer immediately had recourse to the glass, by the aid of
which he perceived that two warriors were on it, though they appeared to
be unharmed. The progress of the raft was slow, a circumstance that
formed one of the great advantages that would be possessed by the scow
in any future collision between them : the movements of the latter being
comparatively swift and light. As there was time to make the disposition
for the reception of the two dangerous visitors, everything was prepared
for them long before they had got near enough to be hailed. The Serpent
and the girls retired into the building, where the former stood near the
door well provided with rifles, while Judith watched the proceedings with-
out through a loop. As for Deerslayer, he had brought a stool to the edge
of the platform, at the point towards which the raft was advancing, and
taken his seat, with his rifle leaning carelessly between his legs.
As the raft drew nearer, every means possessed by the party in the castle
was resorted to, in order to ascertain if their visitors had any fire-arms.
Neither Deerslayer nor Chingachgook could discover any; but Judith, un-
willing to trust to simple eyesight, thrust the glass through the loop, and
directed it towards the hemlock boughs that lay between the two logs of
the raft, forming a sort of flooring, as well as a seat for the use of the
rowers. When the heavy-moving craft was within fifty feet of him,
Deerslayer hailed the Hurons, directing them to cease rowing, it not being
his intention to permit them to land. Compliance, of course, was necessary
and the two grim-looking warriors instantly quitted their eats, though the
raft continued slowly to approach until it had driven in much nearer to the
"Are ye chiefs? demanded Deerslayer, with dignity. "Are ye chiefs ?
-or have the Mingos sent me warriors without names on such an ar'nd ?
If so, the sooner ye go back the sooner the one will be likely to come that
a warrior can talk with."
Hugh exclaimed the elder of the two on the raft, rolling his glowing
eyes over the different objects that were visible in and about the castle,
with a keenness that showed how little escaped him. My brother is very
proud, but Rivenoak (we use the literal translation of the term, writing
as we do in English) is a name to make a Delaware turn pale."
That's true, or it's a lie, Rivenoak, as it may be; but I am not likely
to turn pale, seeing that I was born pale. What's your ar'n'd, and why
do you come among light bark canoes on logs that are not even dug out ? "
"The Iroquois are not ducks to walk on water! Let the pale-faces give
them a canoe, and they'll come in a canoe."
That's more rational than likely to come to pass. We have but four
canoes, and being four persons, that's only one for each of us. We thank
you for the offer, however, though we ask leave not to accept it. You are
welcome, Iroquois, on your logs."
Thanks, my young pale-face warrior-he has got a name-how do the
chiefs call him ? "
Deerslayer hesitated a moment, and a gleam of pride and hum n weak-
ness came over him. He smiled, muttered between his teeth, and then
looking up, proudly, he said,-
Mingo, like all who are young and actyve, Iv'e been known by different
THE DEERSLA YER.
names at different times. One of your warriors, whose spirit started for
the happy grounds of your people as lately as yesterday morning, thought
I deserved to be known by the name of Hawkeye; and this because my sight
happened to be quicker than his own when it got to be life or death atween
The two Iroquois spoke to each other in low tones, and both drew near
the end of the raft that was closest to the platform.
My brother, Hawkeye has sent a message to the Hurons," resumed
.Rivenoak, "and it has made their hearts very glad. They hear he has
images of beasts with two tails! Will he show them to his friends ? "
"Inimies would be truer," returned Deerslayer; "but sound isn't sense,
and does little harm. Here is one of the images ; I toss it to you under
faith of treaties. If it's not returned, the rifle will settle the p'int atween
The Iroquois seemed to acquiesce in the conditions, and Deerslayer arose
and prepared to toss one of the elephants to the raft, both parties using all
the precaution that was necessary to prevent its loss. As practice renders
men expert in such things, the little piece of ivory was soon successfully
transferred from one hand to the other; and then followed another scene
on the raft, in which astonishment and delight got the mastery of Indian
stoicism. These two grim old warriors manifested even more feeling as
they examined the curiously-wrought chessman than had been betrayed by
the boy, for in the case of the latter, recent schooling had interposed its
influence; while the men, like all who are sustained by well-established
characters, were not ashamed to let some of their emotions be discovered.
For a few minutes they apparently lost all consciousness of their situation
in the intense scrutiny they bestowed on a material so fine, work so highly
wrought, and an animal so extraordinary. The lip of the moose is, perhaps,
the nearest approach to the trunk of the elephant that is to be found in the
American forest ; but this resemblance was far from being sufficiently strik-
ing to bring the new creature within the range of their habits and ideas,
and the more they studied the image the greater was their astonishment.
Nor did the children of the forest mistake the structure on the back of the
elephant for a part of the animal. They were familiar with horses and
oxen, and had seen towers in the Canadas, and found nothing surprising in
creatures of burthen. Still by a very natural association, they supposed the
carving meant to represent that the animal they saw was of a strength
sufficient to carry a fort on its back, a circumstance that in no degree
lessened their wonder.
"Has my pale-face brother any more such beasts? at last the senior of
-the Iroquois asked, in a sort of petitioning manner.
There's more where them came from, Mingo," was the answer; one
is enough, however, to buy off fifty scalps."
One of my prisoners is a great warrior-tall as a pine-strong as the
moose-active as a deer-fierce as a panther Some day he'll be a great
chief, and lead the army of King George "
Tut-tut-Mingo; Harry Hurry is Harry Hurry and you'll never
make more than a corporal of him, if you do that. He's tall enough of a
-sartinty, but that's of no use, as he only hits his head ag'in the branches
as he goes through the forest. He's strong, too; but a strong body isn't a
strong head, and the king's generals are not chosen for their sinews. He's
:swift, if you will, but a rifle-bullet is swifter; and as for f'erceness, it's no
THE DEERSLA YER.
great recommend to a soldier; they that think they feel the stoutest often
givin' out at the pinch. No, no-you'll never make Hurry's scalp pass for
more than a good head of curley hair, and a rattlepate beneath it "
"My old prisoner very wise-king of the lake-great warrior-wise
"Well, there's them that might gainsay all this too, Mingo. A very wise
man wouldn't be apt to be taken in so foolish a manner. as befel Master
Butter; and if he gives good counsel he must have listened to bad in all
that affair. There's only one king of this lake, and he's a long way off, and
isn't likely ever to see it. Floating Tom is some such king of this region as
the wolf that prowls through the woods is king of the forest. A beast
with two tails is well worth two such scalps!"
"But my brother has another beast !-He will give two," holding up as
many fingers, for old father ? "
"Floating Tom is no father of mine, but he'll fare none the worse for
that. As for giving two beasts for his scalp, and each beast with twotails,
it is quite beyond reason, think yourself well-off Mingo, if you make a much
At length the savage pretended that further negotiation was useless,
since he could not be so unjust to his tribe as to part with the honour and
emoluments of two excellent, full-grown, male scalps, for a consideration
so trifling as two toys like those he had seen-and he prepared to take his:.
departure. Both parties now felt as men are wont to feel when a bargain
that each is anxious to conclude is on the eve of being broken off, in con-
sequence of too much pertinacity in the way of management. The effect.
of the disappointment was very different, however, on the respective indi-
viduals. Deerslayer was mortified, and filled with regret; for he not only
felt for the prisoners, but he also felt deeply for the two girls. The conclu-
sion of the treaty, therefore, left him melancholy and full of regret. With
the savage his defeat produced the savage desire of revenge. In a moment
of excitement he had loudly announced his intention to say no more; and
he felt equally enraged with himself and with his cool opponent that he
had permitted a pale-face to manifest more indifference and self-command
than an Indian chief. When he began to urge his raft away from the
platform, his countenance lowered, and his eye glowed, even while he.
affected a smile of amity and a gesture of courtesy at parting.
It took some little time to overcome the vis inertia of the logs, and.
while this was doing by the silent Indian, Rivenoak stalked over the hem-
lock boughs that lay between the logs, in sullen ferocity, eyeing keenly the.
while the hut, the platform, and the person of his late disputant. Once
he spoke in low, quick terms to his companion, and he stirred the boughs:
with his feet, like an animal that is restive. At that moment the watch-
fulness of Deerslayer had a little abated, for he sat musing on the means:
of renewing the negotiation without giving too much advantage to the.
other side. It was perhaps fortunate for him that the keen and bright
eyes of Judith were as vigilant as ever. At the instant when the young
man was least on his guard, and his enemy was most on the alert, she
called out in a warning voice to the former, most opportunely giving the
"Be on your guard, Deerslayer," the girl cried; "I see rifles with the
glass, beneath the hemlock brush, and the Iroquois is loosening them with
82 THE DEERSLA YER.
It would seem that the enemy had carried their artifices so far as to
employ an agent who understood English. The previous dialogue had
taken place in his own language, but it was evident by the sudden manner
in which his feet ceased their treacherous occupation, and in which the
countenance of Rivenoak changed from sullen ferocity to a smile of
courtesy, that the call of the girl was understood. Signing to his com-
panion to cease his efforts to set the logs in motion, he advanced to the
end of the raft which was nearest to the platform, and spoke.
Why should Rivenoak and his brother leave any cloud between them ?"
he said. They are both wise, both brave, and both generous; they ought
to part friends. One beast shall be the price of one prisoner."
"And, Mingo," answered the other, delighted to renew the negotiation
on almost any terms, and determined to clinch the bargain if possible by
a little extra liberality, you'll see that a pale-face knows how to pay a full
price when he trades with an open heart and an open hand. Keep the
beast that you had forgotten to give back to me as you was about to start,
and which I forgot to ask for, on account of consarn at parting in anger.
Show it to your chiefs. When you bring us our fr'inds two more shall
be added to it-and-" hesitating a moment in distrust of the expediency
of so great a concession, then deciding in its favour-" and if we see them
afore the sun sets, we may find a fourth to make up an even number."
After repeating the terms of agreement, and professing to understand
them, the two Indians finally took their departure, moving slowly towards
Can any faith be put in such wretches ? asked Judith, when she and
Hetty had come out on the platform, and were standing at the side of
Deerslayer, watching the dull movement of the logs. "Will they not
rather keep the toy they have, and send us off some bloody proofs of
their getting the better of us in cunning, by way of boasting? I've heard
-of acts as bad as this."
"No doubt, Judith; no manner of doubt, if it wasn't for Indian natur'.
But I'm no judge of a red-skin if that two-tailed beast doesn't set the
whole tribe in some such stir as a stick raises in a beehive! Now, there's
the Sarpent; a man with narves like flint, and no more cur'osity in every-
.day consarns than is befitting prudence. Why he was so overcome with
the sight of the creature carved as it is in bone, that I felt ashamed for
him That's just their gifts, however, and one can't well quarrel with a
man for his gifts when they are lawful. Chingachgook will soon get over
his weakness, and remember that he's a chief, and that he comes of a great
stock, and has a renowned name to support and uphold; but as for yonder
scamps, there'll be no peace among 'em until they think they've got posses-
sion of everything of the natur' of that bit of carved bone that's to be
found among Thomas Hutter's stores !"
They only know of the elephants, and can have no hopes about the
That's true, Judith; still, covetousness is a craving feeling They'll
:say, if the pale-faces have these curious beasts with two tails, who knows
but they've got some with three, or, for that matter, with four "
The prospects of success were now so encouraging, as to raise the spirits
of all in the castle, though a due watchfulness on the movements of the
enemy was maintained. Hour passed after hour, notwithstanding, and the
sun had once more begun to fall towards the summits of the western hills,
THE DEERSLA YER.
and yet no signs were seen of the return of the raft. By dint of sweeping
the shore with the glass, Deerslayer at length discovered a place in the
dense and dark woods, where he entertained no doubt the Iroquois were
assembled in considerable numbers. It was near the thicket whence the
raft had issued, and a little rill that trickled into the lake announced the
vicinity of a spring. Here, then, the savages were probably holding their
Consultation, and the decision was to be made that went to settle the ques-
tion of life or death for the prisoners. There was one ground for hope
in spite of the delay, however, that Deerslayer did not fail to place before
his anxious companions. It was far more probable that the Indians had
left their prisoners in the camp, than that they had encumbered them-
selves, by causing them to follow through the woods a party that was out
.on a merely temporary excursion. If such was the fact, it required con-
siderable time to send a messenger the necessary distance, and to bring the
two white men to the spot were they where to embark. Encouraged by
these reflections, a new stock of patience was gathered, and the declension
of the sun was noticed with less alarm.
The result justified Deerslayer's conjecture. Not long before the sun
had fairly disappeared, the two logs were seen coming out of the thicket
again; and as it drew near, Judith announced that her father and Hurry,
both of them pinioned, lay on the bushes in the centre. As before, the
Indians were rowing. The latter seemed to be conscious that the lateness
of the hour demanded unusual exertions, and contrary to the habits of
their people, who are ever averse from toil, they laboured hard at the rude
substitutes for oars. In consequence of this diligence, the raft occupied
its old station in about half the time that had been taken in the previous
Even after the conditions were so well understood, and matters had pro-
ceeded so far, the actual transfer of the prisoners was not a duty to be
executed without difficulty. The Iroquois were compelled to place great
reliance on the good faith of their foes, though it was reluctantly given,
and was yielded to necessity rather than to confidence. As soon as Hutter
and Hurry should be released, the party in the castle numbered two to
one, as opposed to those on the raft, and escape by flight was out of the
question, as the former had three bark canoes, to say nothing of the
defences of the house and the ark. All this was understood by both
parties, and it is probable the arrangement never could have been com-
pleted had not the honest countenance and manner of Deerslayer wrought
their usual effect on Rivenoak.
"My brother knows I put faith in him," said the latter, as he advanced
with Hutter whose legs had been released in order to enable the old man
to ascend the platform. One more scalp-one more beast."
Stop, Mingo," interrupted the hunter; keep your prisoner a moment.
I have to go and seek the means of payment."
This excuse, however, though true in part, was principally a fetch.
Deerslayer left the platform, and entering the house he directed Judith to
collect all the arms, and to conceal them in her own room. He then spoke
earnestly to the Delaware, who stood on guard as before, near the entrance
of the building, put the three remaining castles in his pocket, and
"You are welcome back to your old abode, Master Hutter," said Deer-
slayer, as he helped the other up on the platform, slyly passing into the
84 THE DEERSLAYER.
hand of Rivenoak at the same time another of the castles. "You'll find
your darters right glad to see you; and here's Hetty come here herself, to
say as much in her own behalf."
Here the hunter stopped speaking of his own accord, and broke out into
a hearty fit of his silent and peculiar laughter. Hurry's legs were just
released, and he had been placed on his feet. So tightly had the ligatures
been drawn, that the use of his limbs was not immediately recovered, and
the young giant presented, in good sooth, a very helpless and a somewhat
ludicrous picture. It was this unusual spectacle, particularly the bewil-
dered countenance, that excited the merriment of Deerslayer.
"You look like a girdled pine in a clearin', Harry Hurry, that is rocking
in a gale," said Deerslayer, checking his unseasonable mirth, more from
delicacy to the others, than from any respect to the liberated captive.
"I'm glad, however, to see that you haven't had your hair dressed by
any of the Iroquois barbers in your late visit to their camp."
Harkee, Deerslayer," returned the other, a little fiercely; "it will be
prudent for you to deal less in mirth and more in friendship on this occa-
sion. Act like a Christian for once, and not like a laughing gal in a
country school when the master's back is turned, and just tell me whether
there's any feet or not at the end of these legs of mine. I think I can see
them, but as for feeling they might as well be down on the banks of the
Mohawk as where they seem to be."
You've come off whole, Hurry, and that's not a little," answered the
other, secretly passing to the Indian the remainder of the stipulated ran-
som, and making an earnest sign at the same moment for him to com-
mence his retreat. "You've come off. whole, feet and all, and are only a
little numb, from the tight fit of the withes. Natur'll soon set the blood
in motion, and then you may begin to dance, to celebrate what I call a
most wonderful and unexpected deliverance from a den of wolves."
Before darkness had completely set in, and while the girls were prepar-
ing the evening meal, Deerslayer related to Hutter an outline of the events
that had taken place, and gave him a history of the means he had adopted
for the security of his children and property.
THE two ransomed prisoners felt humbled and dishonoured, but their
humility partook of the rancour of revenge. They were far more disposed
to remember the indignity with which they had been treated during the
last few hours of their captivity than to feel grateful for the previous
indulgence. Then that keen-sighted monitor, conscience, by reminding
them of the retributive justice of all they had endured, goaded them
rather to turn the tables on their enemies than accuse themselves.
Old Tom! cried Hurry, bursting into a fit of boisterous laughter; you
look'd amazin'ly like a tethered bear as you was stretched on them hemlock
boughs, and I only wonder you didn't growl more. Well, it's over, and
syth's and lamentations won't mend the matter There's the blackguard,
Rivenoak, he that brought us off, has an oncommon scalp, and I'd give as
much for it myself as the Colony."
THE DEERSLA YER.
*" It's a wonderment to me how you got us off, Deerslayer. Let us into
the secret, that we may do you the same good turn at need. Was it by
lying or by coaxing? "
"By neither, Hurry, but by buying. We paid a ransom for you both,
and that too at a price so high you had well be on your guard ag'in another
captyvement, lest our stock of goods shouldn't hold out."
A ransom! Old Tom has paid the fiddler, then, for nothing of mine
would have bought off the hair, much less the skin. I didn't think men
as keen set as them vagabonds would let a fellow up so easy when they
had him fairly at a close hug and floored. But money is money, and
somehow it's unnat'ral hard to withstand. Indian or white man, 'tis pretty
much the same."
Hutter now rose, and signing to Deerslayer, he led him to an inner room
where, in answer to his questions, he first learned the price that had been
paid for his release. The old man expressed neither resentment nor
surprise at the inroad that had been made on his chest, though he did
manifest some curiosity to know how far the investigation of its contents
had been carried. He also inquired where the key had been found. The
habitual frankness of Deerslayer prevented any prevarication, and the
conference soon terminated by the return of the two to the outer room, or
that which served for the double purpose of parlour and kitchen.
I wonder if it's peace or war between us and the savages ? exclaimed
Hurry, just as Deerslayer, who had paused for a single instant, listened
attentively, and was passing through the outer door without stopping.
This givin' up captives has a friendly look, and when men have traded
together on a fair and honourable footing, they ought to part friends for
that occasion at least. Come back, Deerslayer, and let us have your
judgment, for I'm beginning' to think more of you since your late behaviour
than I used to do."
"There's an answer to your question, Hurry, since you're in such haste
to come ag'in to blows."
As Deerslayer spoke, he threw on the table on which the other was
reclining with one elbow a sort of miniature faggot, composed of a dozen
sticks bound tightly together with a deerskin thong. March seized it
eagerly, and holding it close to a blazing knot of pine that lay on the
hearth, and which gave out all the light there was in the room, ascertained
that the ends of the several sticks had been dipped in blood.
If this isn't plain English," said the reckless frontier man, "it's plain
Indian Here's what they call a dicliration of war down at York, Judith.
How did you come by this defiance, Deerslayer ? "
Fairly enough. It lay not a minut' since in what you call Floatin'
"How come it there ? It never fell from the clouds, Judith, as little
toads sometimes do, and then it don't rain. You must prove where it
come from, Deerslayer, or we shall suspect some design to skear them that
would have lost their wits long ago if fear could drive 'em away."
Deerslayer had approached a window, and cast a glance out of it on the
dark aspect of the lake. As if satisfied with what he beheld, he drew
near Hurry and took the bundle of sticks into his own hand, examining it
Yes, this is an Indian dicliration of war, sure enough," he said, "and
it's a proof how little you're suited to be on the path it has travelled,
86 THE DEERSLA YER.
Harry March, that it has got here, and you never the wiser as to the means.
The savages may have left the scalp on your head, but they must have
taken off the ears; else you'd have heard the stirring of the water made
by the lad as he come off ag'in, on his two logs. His ar'n'd was to throw
these sticks at our door, as much as to say, we've struck the war-pool since
the trade, and the next thing will be to strike you."
"The prowling wolves! But hand me that rifle, Judith, and I'll send an
answer back to the vagabonds through their messenger."
"Not while I stand by, Master March," coolly put in Deerslayer, mo-
tioning for the other to forbear. Faith is faith, whether given to a red-
skin or to a Christian. The lad lighted a knot, and came off fairly under
its blaze, to give us this warning; and no man here should harm him while
employed on such an ar'n'd. There's no use in words, for the boy is too
cunning to leave the knot burning now his business is done, and the night
is already too dark for a rifle to have any sartainty,"
That may be true enough as to a gun, but there's virtue still in a
canoe," answered Hurry, passing towards the door with enormous strides,
carrying a rifle in his hands. The being doesn't live that shall stop me
from following, and bringing back that riptyle's scalp. The more on 'em
that you crush in the egg, the fewer there'll be to dart at you in the
"Hurry," said a gentle, soothing voice at his elbow, "it's wicked to be
so angry, and God will not overlook it. The Iroquois treated you well.
and they didn't take your scalp, though you and father wanted to take
The influence of mildness on passion is well known. Hetty, too, had
earned a sort of consideration that had never before been enjoyed by her,
through the self-devotion and decision of her recent conduct. Perhaps
her established mental imbecility, by removing all distrust of a wish to
control, aided her influence. Let the cause be as questionable as it might,
the effect was sufficiently certain. Instead of throttling his old fellow-
traveller, Hurry turned to the girl, and poured out a portion of his dis-
content, if none of his anger, in her attentive ears.
"'Tis too bad, Hetty he exclaimed; "as bad as a county gaol, or a
lack of beaver, to get a creature' into your very trap, and then to see it get
off. As much as six first quality skins in valie has paddled off on them
clumsy logs, when twenty strokes of a well-turned paddle would overtake
'em. I say in valie, for as to the boy in the way of natur', he is only a boy,
and is worth neither more nor less than one. Deerslayer, you've been on-
true to your friends in letting such a chance slip through my fingers as
well as your own."
The answer was given quietly, but with a voice as steady as a fearless
nature and the consciousness of rectitude could make it. I should have
been untrue to the right, had I done otherwise," returned the Deerslayer,
steadily; "and neither you nor any other man has authority to demand
that much of me. The lad came on a lawful business, and the meanest
red-skin that roams the woods would be ashamed of not respecting his
ar'n'd. But he's now far beyond your reach, Master March, and there's
little use in talking, like a couple of women, of what can no longer be
So saying, Deerslayer turned away, like one resolved to waste no more
words on the subject, while Hutter pulled Hurry by the sleeve, and led.
THE DEERSLAYER. 87
him into the ark. There they sat long in private conference. In the
meantime, the Indian and his friend had their secret consultation; for
though it wanted some three or four hours to the rising of the star, the
former could not abstain from canvassing his scheme, and from opening his
heart to the other. Judith, too, yielded to her softer feelings, and listened
to the whole of Hetty's artless narrative of what occurred after she had
landed. The woods had few terrors for either of these girls, educated as
they had been, and accustomed as they were to look out daily at their rich
expanse, or to wander beneath their dark shades; but the elder sister felt
that she would have hesitated about thus venturing alone into an Iroquois
camp. Concerning Hist, Hetty was not very communicative. She spoke
of her kindness and gentleness, and of the meeting in the forest; but the
secret of Chingachgook was guarded with a shrewdness and fidelity that
many a sharper-witted girl might have failed to display.
At length the several conferences were broken up by the reappearance of
Hutter on the platform. Here he assembled the whole party, and com-
municated as much of his intentions as he deemed expedient. Of the
arrangement made by Deerslayer to abandon the castle during the night,
and to take refuge in the ark, he entirely approved. It struck him, as it
had the others, as the only effectual means of escaping destruction. Now
that the savages had turned their attention to the construction of rafts, no
doubt could exist of their at least making an attempt to carry the building,
and the message of the bloody sticks sufficiently showed their confidence
in their own success. In short, the old man viewed the night as critical,
and he called on all to get ready as soon as possible in order to abandon
the dwelling, temporarily at least, if not for ever.
These communications made, everything proceeded promptly and with in-
telligence: the castle was secured in the manner already described, the
canoes were withdrawn from the dock and fastened to the ark by the side
of the other; the few necessaries that had been left in the house were
transferred to the cabin, the fire was extinguished, and all embarked.
The vicinity of the hills, with their drapery of pines, had the effect to
render nights that were obscure darker than common on the lake. As
usual, however, a belt of comparative light was stretched through the
centre of the sheet, while it was within the shadows of the mountains that
the gloom rested most heavily on the water. The island or castle stood in
this belt of comparative light, but still the night was so dark as to cover
the departure of the ark. At the distance of an observer on the shore her
movements could not be seen at all, more particularly as a background of
dark hill-side filled up the perspective of every view that was taken
diagonally or directly across the water.
Familiar as Hutter was with the lake, it was easy to deceive one who had
little practice on. the water; and let his intentions be what they might, it
was evident ere two hours had elapsed that the ark had got over sufficient
space to be within a hundred rods of the shore, directly abreast of the
known position of the camp. For a considerable time previously to reach-
ing this point, Hurry, who had some knowledge of the Algonquin language,
had been in close conference with the Indian, and the result was now
announced by the latter to, Deerslayer, who had been a cold, not to say
distrusted, looker-on of all that passed.
My old father, and my young brother, the Big Pine,"-for so the
Delaware had named March-" want to see Huron scalps at their belts,"
88 THE DEERSLA YER.
said Chingachgook to his friend. There is room for some on the girdle
of the Serpent, and his people will look for them when he goes back to his
village. Their eyes must not be left long in a fog, but they must see what
they look for. I know that my brother has a white hand; he will not strike
even the dead. He will wait for us; when we come back he will not hide
his face from shame for his friend. The great Sarpent of the Mohicans
must be worthy to go on the war-path with Hawkeye."
Ay, ay, Sarpent, I see how it is; that name's to stick, and in time I
shall get to be known by it instead of Deerslayer; well, if such honours
will come, the humblest of us all must be willing to abide by 'em. As for
your looking for scalps, it belongs to your gifts, and I see no harm in it.
Be merciful, Sarpent, however; be merciful, I beseech of you. It surely
can do no harm to a red-skin's honour to show a little marcy. As for the
old man, the father of two young women, who might ripen better feelings
in his heart, and Harry March here, who, pine as he is, might better bear
the fruit of a more christianized tree-as for them two, I leave 'em in the
hands of the white' man's God. Wasn't it for the bloody sticks no man
should go ag'in the Mingos this night, seeing' that it would dishonour our
faith and characters ; but them that crave blood can't complain if blood is
shed at their call. Still, Sarpent, you can be marciful. Don't begin your
career with the wails of women and the cries of children. Bear yourself
so that Hist will smile and not weep when she meets you. Go, then, and
the Manitou preserve you! "
My brother will stay here with the scow. Wah! will soon be standing
on the shore waiting, and Chingachgook must hasten."
The Indian then joined his two co-adventurers, and first lowering the
sail, they all three entered a canoe and left the side of the ark. Neither
Hutter nor March spoke to Deeralayer concerning their object, or the
probable length of their absence. All this had been confided to the Indian,
who had acquitted himself of the trust with characteristic brevity. As
soon as the canoe was out of sight, and that occurred ere the paddles had
given a dozen strokes, Deerslayer made the best dispositions he could to
keep the ark as nearly stationary as possible; and then he sat down in the
end of the scow to chew the cud of his own bitter reflections.
Hutter steered the canoe; Hurry had manfully taken his post in the
bows, and Chingachgook stood in the centre. We say stood, for all three
were so skilled in the management of that species of frail barque as to be
able to keep erect positions in the midst of the darkness. The approach
to the shore was made with great caution and the landing was effected in
safety. The three now prepared their arms, and began their tiger-like
approach upon the camp. The Indian was on the lead, his two com-
panions treading in his footsteps with a stealthy cautiousness of manner
that rendered their progress almost literally noiseless. Occasionally a dry
twig snapped under the heavy weight of the gigantic Hurry, or the blunder-
ing clumsiness of the old man; but had the Indian walked on air his step
could not have seemed lighter. The great object was first to discover the
position of the fire, which was known to be the centre of the whole position.
At length the keen eye of Chingachgook caught a glimpse of this impor-
tant guide. It was glimmering at a distance among the trunks of trees.
There was no blaze, but merely a single smouldering brand as suited the
hour; the savages usually retiring and rising with the revolutions of the
THE DEERSLA YER. 89
As soon as a view was obtained of this beacon, the progress of the
adventurers became swifter and more certain. In a few minutes they got
to the edge of the circle of little huts. Here they stopped to survey their
ground and to concert their movements. The darkness was so deep as to
render it difficult to distinguish anything but the glowing brand, the trunks
of the nearest trees, and the endless canopy of leaves that veiled the clouded
heaven. It was ascertained, however, that a hut was quite near, and Chin-
gachgook attempted to reconnoitre its interior. The manner in which the
Indian approached the place that was supposed to contain enemies re-
sembled the wily advances of the cat on the bird. As he drew near he
stooped to his hands and knees, for the entrance was so low as to require
this attitude, even as a convenience. Before trusting his head inside, how-
ever, he listened long to catch the breathing of sleepers. No sound was
audible, and this human Serpent thrust his head in at the door or opening,
as another serpent would have peered in on the nest. Nothing rewarded
the hazardous experiment, for after feeling cautiously with a hand the
place was found to be empty.
The Delaware proceeded in the same guarded manner to one or two
more of the huts, finding all in the same situation. He then returned to
his companions and informed them that the Hurons had deserted their
camp. A little further inquiry corroborated this fact, and it only remained
to return to the canoe.
It has been said that Judith took her place at the side of Deerslayer
soon after the adventurers departed. For a short time the girl was silent,
and the hunter was ignorant which of the sisters had approached him; but
he soon recognized the rich, full-spirited voice of the elder, as her feelings
escaped in words.
"This is a terrible life for women, Deerslayer she exclaimed. "Would
to Heaven I could see an end of it! "
The life is well enough, Judith," was the answer, being pretty much
as it is used or abused. What would you wish to see in its place ? "
I should be a thousand times happier to live nearer to civilized beings,
where there are farms and churches, and houses built as it might be by
Christain hands, and where my sleep at night would be sweet and tranquil.
A dwelling near one of the forts would be far better than this dreary place
where we live "
Nay, Judith I can't agree too lightly in the truth of all this. If forts
are good to keep off inimies, they sometimes hold inimies of their own. I
don't think it would be for your good, or the good of Hetty, to live near
one; and if I must say what I think, I'm afeared you are a little too near
as it is." Deerslayer went on in his own steady, earnest manner, for the
darkness concealed the tints that had coloured the cheeks of the girl almost
to the brightness of crimson, while her own great efforts suppressed the
sounds of the breathing that almost choked her. As for farms, they have
their uses, and there's them that like to pass their lives on 'em; but
what comfort can a man look for in a clearin' that he can't find in double
quantities in the forest ? If air, and room, and light are a little craved,
the wind-rows and the streams will furnish 'em, or here are the lakes for
such as have bigger longings in that way; but where are you to find your
shades, and laughing springs and leaping brooks, and vinerable trees a
thousand years old, in a clearin' ? You don't find them, but you find
their disabled trunks marking the 'arth like head-stones in a grave-yard"
THE DEERSLA YER.
It seems to me that the people who live in such places must be always
thinking of their own inds and of universal decay; and that, too, not of
the decay that is brought about by time and natur', but the decay that
follows waste and violence. Then as to churches, they are good, I suppose,
else wouldn't good men uphold them ; but they are not altogether necessary.
They call 'em the temples of the Lord; but, Judith, the whole 'arth is a
temple of the Lord to such as have the right minds. Neither forts nor
churches make people happier of themselves. Moreover allis contradiction
in the settlements, while all is concord in the woods. Forts and churches
almost always go together, and yet they're downright contradictions,
churches being for peace and forts for war. No, no-give me the strong
places of the wilderness, which is the trees, and the churches, too, which
are arbours raised by the hand of natur'."
Just at this instant a fall of a paddle was heard in the canoe, for vexa-
tion had made March reckless; and Deerslayer felt convinced his con-
jecture was true. The sail being down, the ark had not drifted far, and ere
many minutes he heard Chingachgook, in a low quiet tone, directing Hutter
how to steer in order to reach it. In less time than it takes to tell the fact,
the canoe touched the scow, and the adventurers entered the latter. Neither
Hutter nor Hurry spoke of what had occurred. But the Delaware, in pass-
ing his friend, merely uttered the words fire's out; which, if not literally
true, sufficiently explained the truth to his listener.
It was now a question as to the course to be steered. A short surly con-
ference was held, when Hutter decided that the wisest way would be to
keep in motion, as the means most likely to defeat any attempt at surprise
-announcing his own and March's intention to requite themselves for the
loss of sleep during their captivity by lying down. As the air still baffled
and continued light, it was finally determined to sail before it, let it come
in what direction it might, so long as it did not blow the ark upon the
strand. This point settled, the released prisoners helped to hoist the sail,
and then they threw themselves on two of the pallets, leaving Deerslayer
and his friend to look after the movements of the craft. As neither of the
latter was disposed to sleep on account of the appointment with Hist, this
arrangement was acceptable to all parties. That Judith and Hetty also re-
mained up in no manner impaired the agreeable features of this change.
For some time the scow rather drifted than sailed along the western shore,
following a light southerly current of the air. The progress was slow-not
exceeding a couple of miles in the hour-but the two men perceived that it
was not only carrying them towards the point they desired to reach, but at a
rate that was quite as fast as the hour yet rendered necessary. But little
was said the while, even by the girls; and that little had more reference to
the rescue of Hist than to any other subject. The Indian was calm, to the
eye; but as minute after minute passed, his feelings became more and more
excited, until they reached a state that might have satisfied the demands
of even the most exacting mistress. Deerslayer kept the craft as much in
the bays as was prudent, for the double purpose of sailing within the
shadows of the woods, and of detecting any signs of an encampment that
might pass on the shore. In this manner they had doubled one low point,
and were already in the bay that was terminated north by the goal at which
they aimed. The latter was still a quarter of a mile distant, when Ching-
achgook, came silently to the side of his friend, and pointed to a place directly
ahead. A small fire was glimmering, just within the verge of the bushes
THE DEERSLAYER. 91
that lined the shore on the southern side of the point-leaving no doubt
that the Indians had suddenly removed their camp to the very place, or at
least to the very projection of land, where Hist had given them the
THE discovery mentioned at the close of the preceding chapter was of
great moment in the eyes of Deerslayer and his friend. In the first place
there was the danger, almost the certainty, that Hutter and Hurry would
make a fresh attempt on this camp, should they awake and ascertain its
position. Then there was the increased risk of landing to bring off Hist;
and there were the general uncertainty and additional hazards that must
follow from the circumstance that their enemies had begun to change their
positions. As the Delaware was aware that the hour was near when he
ought to repair to the rendezvous, he no longer thought of trophies torn from
his foes; and one of the first things arranged between him and his associate
was to permit the two others to sleep on, lest they should disturb the exe-
cution of their plans by substituting some of their own. The ark moved
slowly, and it would have taken fully a quarter of an hour to reach the
point, at the rate at which they were going; thus affording time for a little
forethought. The Indians, in the wish to conceal their fire from those who
were thought to be still in the castle, had placed it so near the southern
side of the point as to render it extremely difficult to shut it in by the
bushes, though Deerslayer varied the direction of the scow, both to the
right and to the left, in the hope of being able to effect that object.
"There's one advantage, Judith, in finding that fire so near the water,"
he said, while executing these little manoeuvres ; since it shows the Mingos
believe we are in the hut, and our coming on 'em from this quarter will be
an unlooked-for event. But 'tis lucky Harry March and your father are
asleep, else we should have 'em prowling after scalps ag'in. Ha there-
the bushes are beginning to shut in the fire-and now it can't be seen at
Deerslayer waited a little to make certain that he had at last gained the
desired position, when he gave the signal agreed on, and Chingachgook let
go the grapnel and lowered the sail.
The situation in which the ark now lay had its advantages and its dis-
advantages. The fire had been hid by sheering towards the shore, and
the latter was nearer perhaps than was desirable. Still, the water was
known to be very deep further off in the lake ; and anchoring in deep water,
under the circumstances in which the party was placed, was to be avoided,
if possible. It was also believed no raft could be within miles; and
though the trees in the darkness appeared almost to overhang the scow, it
would not be easy to get off to her without using a boat. The intense dark-
ness that prevailed so close in with the forest, too served as an effectual
screen; and so long as care was had not to make a noise, there was little
or no danger of being detected. All these things Deerslayer pointed out
to Judith, instructing her as to the course she was to follow in the event of
an alarm, for it was thought to the last degree inexpedient to arouse the
sleepers, unless it might be in the greatest emergency.
92 THE DEERSLA YER.
And now, Judith, as we understand one another it is time the Sarpent
and I had taken to the canoe," the hunter concluded. The star has not
risen yet, it's true; but it soon must, though none of us are likely to be
any the wiser for it to-night, on account of the clouds. However, Hist
has a ready mind, and she's one of them that doesn't always need to have
a thing afore her to see it. I'll warrant you she'll not be either two minutes,
or two feet out of the way, unless then jealous vagabonds, the Mingos,
have taken the alarm, and put her as a stool-pigeon to catch us; or have
hid her away, in order to prepare her mind for a Huron instead of a Mohican
Chingachgook and his pale-face friend set forth on their hazardous and
delicate enterprise, with a coolness and method that would have done credit
to men who were on their twentieth, instead of being on their first war-
path. As suited his relation to the pretty fugitive in whose service they
were engaged, the Indian took his place in the head of the canoe, while
Deerslayer guided its movements in the stern. By this arrangement the
former would be the first to land, and of course the first to meet his
mistress. The latter had taken his post without comment, but in secret
influenced by the reflection that one who had so much at stake as the
Indian, might not possibly guide the canoe with the same steadiness and
intelligence as another who had more command of his feelings. From the
instant they left the side of the ark, the movements of the two adventurers
were like the manoeuvres of highly-drilled soldiers who for the first time
were called on to meet the enemy in the field. As yet Chingachgook had
never fired a shot in anger, and the debut of his companion in warfare is
known to the reader. It is true the Indian had been hanging about his
enemy's camp for a few hours, on his first arrival; and he had even once
entered it, as related in the last chapter, but no consequences had followed
either experiment. Now, it was certain that an important result was to
be effected, or a mortifying failure was to ensue. The rescue or the con-
tinued captivity of Hist depended on the enterprise. In a word, it was
virtually the maiden expedition of these two ambitious young forest
soldiers; and while one of them set forth impelled by sentiments that
usually carry men so far, both had all their feelings of pride and manhood
enlisted in their success.
Instead of steering in a direct line to the point, then distant from the
ark less than a quarter of a mile, Deerslayer laid the head of his canoe
diagonally towards the centre of the lake, with a view to obtain a position
from which he might approach the shore, having his enemies in his front
only. The spot where Hetty had landed, and where Hist had promised to
meet them, moreover, was on the upper side of the projection, rather than
on the lower; and to reach it would have required the adventurers to
double nearly the whole point close in with the shore, had not this pre-
liminary step been taken. So well was the necessity for this measure
understood that Chingachgook quietly paddled on, although it was adopted
without consulting him, and apparently was taking him in a direction nearly
opposite to that one might think he most wished to go. A few minutes
sufficed, however, to carry the canoe the necessary distance, when both the
young men ceased paddling, as it were by instinctive consent, and the boat
The darkness increased rather than diminished, but it was still possible
from the place where the adventurers lay to distinguish the outlines of the
THE DEERSLA YER. 93
mountains. In vain did the Delaware turn his head eastward, to catch a
glimpse of the promised star; for notwithstanding the clouds broke a little
near the horizon in that quarter of the heavens, the curtain continued so
far drawn as effectually to conceal all behind it. In front, as was known
by the formation of land above and behind it, lay the point, at a distance
of about a thousand feet. No signs of the castle could be seen, nor could
any movement in that quarter of the lake reach the ear. The latter cir-
cumstance might have been equally owing to the distance, which was
several miles, or to the fact that nothing was in motion. As for the ark,
though scarcely farther from the canoe than the point, it lay so completely
buried in the shadows of the shore, that it would not have been visible
even had there been many degrees more of light than actually existed.
The adventurers now held a conference in low voices, consulting together
as to the probable time. Deerslayer thought it wanted yet some minutes
to the rising of the star, while the impatience of the chief caused him to
fancy the night further advanced, and to believe that his betrothed was
already waiting his appearance on the shore. As might have been expected,
the opinion of the latter prevailed, and his friend disposed him to steer for
the place of rendezvous. The utmost skill and precaution now became
necessary in the management of the canoe. The paddles were lifted, and
returned to the water in a noiseless manner; and when within a hundred
yards of the beach, Chingachgook took in his altogether, laying his hand
on his rifle in its stead. As they got still more within the belt of darkness
that girded the woods, it was seen that they were steering too far north,
and the course was altered accordingly. The canoe now seemed to move
by instinct, so cautious and deliberate were all its motions. Still it con-
tinued to advance, until its bows grated on the gravel of the beach, at the
precise spot where Hetty had landed, and whence her voice had issued the
previous night, as the ark was passing. There was, as usual, a narrow
strand, but bushes fringed the woods, and in most places overhung the
Chingachgook stepped upon the beach, and cautiously examined it for
some distance on each side of the canoe. In order to do this, he was often
obliged to wade to his knees in the lake, but no Hist rewarded his search.
When he returned he found his friend also on the shore. They next con-
ferred in whispers, the Indian apprehending that they must have mistaken
the place of rendezvous. But Deerslayer thought it was probable they
had mistaken the hour. While he was yet speaking, he grasped the arm
of the Delaware, caused him to turn his head in the direction of the lake,
and pointed towards the summits of the eastern mountains. The clouds
had broken a little, apparently behind rather than above the hills, and the
selected star was glittering among the branches of a pine. This was every
way a flattering omen, and the young men leaned on their rifles, listening
intently for the sound of approaching footsteps. Voices they often heard,
and mingled with them were the suppressed cries of children, and the low
but sweet laugh of Indian women. As the native Americans are habitually
cautious, and seldom break out in loud conversation, the adventurers knew
by these facts, that they must be very near the encampment. It was easy
to perceive that there was a fire within the woods, by the manner in which
some of the upper branches of the trees were illuminated, but it was not
possible, where they stood, to ascertain exactly how near it was to them-
selves. Once or twice, it seemed as if stragglers from around the fire were
94 THE DEERSLAYER.
approaching the place of rendezvous; but.thesel sounds ,were either alto-
gether illusions, or those who had drawn near, returned -again without
coming to the shore. A quarter of an hour was passed in this state .of
intense expectation and anxiety, when Deerslayer proposed that.they should
circle the point in the canoe ; and by getting a position close in, where the
camp could be seen, reconnoitre the Indians, and thus enable themselves
to form some plausible conjectures for the non-appearance of Hist. The
Delaware, however, resolutely refused to quit the spot, reasonably enough
offering as a reason, the disappointment of the girl, should she arrive in
his absence. Deerslayer felt for his friend's ,concern, and offered to make
the circuit of the point by himself, leaving the latter -concealed in the
bushes to await the occurrence of any fortunate event that might favour
his views. With this understanding, then, the parties separated.
As soon as Deerslayer was at his post again, in the stern of the canoe,
he left the shore with the same precautions, and in the same noiseless
manner as he had approached it. On this occasion he did not go far from
the land, the bushes affording-a sufficient cover, by keeping as close in as
possible. Indeed, it would not have been easy to devise any means more
favourable to reconnoitring round an Indian camp, than those afforded by
Sthe actual state of things. The formation of the point permitted the place
to be circled on three of its sides, and the progress of the boat was so
noiseless as to remove any apprehensions from an: alarm through sound.
The most practised and guarded foot might stir a bunch of leaves, or snap
Sa dried stick in the dark, but a bark canoe could be made to float over the
surface of smooth water, almost with the instinctive readiness andcertainty,
with the noiseless movements of an aquatic bird.
Deerslayer had got nearly in a line between the camp and the ark, before
he caught a glimpse of the fire. This came upon him suddenly, and a
little unexpectedly, at first causing an alarm, lest he had incautiously ven-
tured within the circle of light it cast. But, perceiving at a second glance,
that he was certainly safe from detection, so long as the Indians kept near
the centre of the illumination, he brought the canoe to a state of rest, in
the most favourable position he could find, and commenced his obser-
The canoe lay in front of a natural vista, not only through the bushes
that lined the shore, but of the trees also, that afforded a clear view of the
camp. It was by means of this same opening that the light had been first
seen from the ark. In consequence of their recent change of ground, the
Indians had not yet retired to their huts, but had been delayed by their
preparations, which included lodging as well as food. A large fire had
been made, as much to answer the purpose of torches as for the use of
their simple cookery; and at this precise moment it was blazing high and
bright, having recently received a large supply of dried brush. The effect was
to illuminate the arches of the forest, and to render the whole area occupied
by the camp as light as if hundreds of tapers were burning. Most of the
toil had ceased, and even the hungriest child had satisfied its appetite. In
a word, the time was that moment of relaxation and general indolence
which is al t to succeed a hearty meal, and when the labours of the day have
ended. The hunters and the fishermen had been equally successful; and
food, that one great requisite of savage life, being abundant, every other
care appeared to have subsided in the sense of enjoyment dependent on
this all-important fact.
THE DEERSLA YER.
Deerslayer saw at a glance that many of the warriors were absent. His
acquaintance, Rivenoak, however, wns present, being seated in the fore-
ground of a picture that Salvator Rosa would have delighted to draw, his
swarthy features illuminated as much by pleasure as by the torch-like
flame, while he showed another of the tribe one of the elephants that had
caused so much sensation among his people. A boy was looking over his
shoulder, in dull curiosity, completing the group. More inthe background
eight or ten warriors lay half recumbent on the ground, or sat with their
backs inclined against trees, so many types of indolent repose. Their arms
were near them all, sometimes leaning against the same tree as themselves,
or were lying across their bodies in careless preparation. But the group
that most attracted the attention of Deerslayer was that composed of the
women and children. All the former appeared to be collected together,
and, almost as a matter of course, their young were near them. The
former laughed and chatted, in their rebuked and quiet manner, though
one who knew the habits of the people might have detected that every-
thing was not going on in its usual train. Most of the young women
seemed to be light-hearted enough; but one old hag was seated apart, with
a watchful, soured aspect, which the hunter at once knew betokened that
some duty of an unpleasant character had been assigned her by the chiefs.
What that duty was he had no means of knowing; but he felt satisfied it
must be, in some measure, connected with her own sex, the aged among
the women generally being chosen for such offices, and no other.
As a matter of course, Deerslayer looked eagerly and anxiously for the
form of Hist. She was nowhere visible, though the light penetrated -to
considerable distances in all directions around the fire. Once or twice he
started, as he thought he recognized her laugh; but his ears were deceived
by the soft melody that is so common to the Indian female voice. At
length the old woman spoke loud and angrily, and then he caught a glimpse
of one or two dark figures in the background of trees, which turned as if
obedient to the rebuke, and walked more within the circle of the light. A
young warrior's first came fairly into view; then followed two youthful
women, one of whom proved to be the Delaware girl. Deerslayer now
comprehended it all. Hist was watched, possibly by her young companion,
certainly by the old woman. The youth was probably some suitor of either
her or her companion; but even his discretion was distrusted under the
influence of his admiration. The known vicinity of those who might be
supposed to be her friends, and the arrival of a strange red-man on the
lake had induced more than the usual care, and the girl had not been able
to slip away from those who watched her, in order to keep her appointment.
Deerslayer traced her uneasiness by her attempting once or twice to look
up through the branches of the trees, as if endeavouring to get glimpses of
the star she had herself named as the sign for meeting. All was vain,
however, and after strolling about the camp a little longer in affected in-
difference, the two girls quitted their male escort, and took seats among
their own sex. As soon as this was done the old sentinel changed her
place to one more agreeable to herself-a certain proof that she had
hitherto been exclusively on watch.
Deerslayer now felt greatly at a loss how to proceed. He well knew
that Chingachgook could never be persuaded to return to the ark without
making some desperate effort for the recovery of his mistress, and his own
generous feelings well disposed him to aid in such an undertaking. He
THE DEERSLA YER.
thought he saw the signs of an intention among the women to retire for
the night; and should he remain, and the fire continue to give out its
light, he might discover the particular hut or arbour under which Hist
reposed-a circumstance that would be of infinite use in their future pro-
ceedings. Should he remain, however, much longer where he was, there
was great danger that the impatience of his friend would drive him into
some act of imprudence. At each instant, indeed, he expected to see the
swarthy form of the Delaware appearing in the background, like the tiger
prowling around the fold. Taking all things into consideration, therefore,
he came to the conclusion it would be better to rejoin his friend and en-
deavour to temper his impetuosity by some of his own coolness and discre-
tion. It required but a minute or two to put this plan in execution, the
canoe returning to the strand some ten or fifteen minutes after it had
Contrary to his expectations, perhaps, Deerslayer found the Indian at
his post, from which he had not stirred, fearful that his betrothed might
arrive during his absence. A conference followed, in which Chingachgook
was made acquainted with the state of things in the camp. When Hist
named the point as the place of meeting it was with the expectation of
making her escape from the old position, and of repairing to a spot that she
expected to find without any occupants; but the sudden change of localities
had disconcerted all her plans. A much greater degree of vigilance than
had been previously required was now necessary; and the circumstance
that an aged woman was on watch, also denoted some special grounds of
alarm. All these considerations, and many more that will readily suggest
themselves to the reader, were briefly discussed before the young men
came to any decision. The occasion, however, being one that required acts
instead of words, the course to be pursued was soon chosen.
Disposing of the canoe in such a manner that Hist must see it, should
she come to the place of meeting previously to their return, the young men
looked to their arms, and prepared to enter the wood.
The reader will understand that the little rise in the ground that lay
behind the Indian encampment greatly favoured the secret advance of the
two adventurers. It prevented the light of the fire diffusing itself on the
ground directly in the rear, although the land fell away towards the water,
so as to leave what might be termed the left, or eastern flank of the posi-
tion, unprotected by this covering. We have said "unprotected," though
that is not properly the word, since the knoll behind the huts and the fire
offered a cover for those who were now stealthily approaching, rather than
any protection to the Indians. Deerslayer did not break through the fringe
of bushes immediately abreast of the canoe, which might have brought him
too suddenly within the influence of the light, since the hillock did not
extend to the water: but he followed the beach northerly until he had got
nearly on the opposite side of the tongue of land, which brought him under
the shelter of the low acclivity, and consequently more in shadow.
As soon as his friends emerged from the bushes, they stopped to recon-
noitre. The fire was still blazing behind the little ridge, casting its light
upwards into the tops of the trees, producing an effect that was more
pleasing than advantageous. Still the glare had its uses; for while the
background was in obscurity, the foreground was in strong light; exposing
the savages and concealing their foes. Profiting by the latter circumstance,
the young men advanced cautiously towards the ridge, Deerslayer in front,
THE DEERSLA YER.
for he insisted on this arrangement lest the Delaware should be led by his
feelings into some indiscretion. It required but a moment to reach the
foot of the little ascent, and then commenced the most critical part of the
enterprise. Moving with exceeding caution, and trailing his rifle, both to
keep its barrel out of view, and in readiness for service, the hunter put
foot before foot until he had got sufficiently high to overlook the summit, his
own head being alone brought into the light. Chingachgook was at his side,
and both paused to take another close examination of the camp. In order,
however, to protect themselves against any straggler in the rear, they placed
their bodies against the trunk of an oak, standing on the side next the fire.
The view that Deerslayer now obtained of the camp, was exactly the
reverse of that he had perceived from the water. The dim figures which he
had formerly discovered must have been on the summit of the ridge, a few
feet in advance of the spot where he was now posted. The fire was still
blazing brightly, and around it were seated on logs thirteen warriors, which
accounted for all whom he had seen from the canoe. They were conversing
with much earnestness among themselves, the image of the elephant pass-
ing from hand to hand. The first burst of savage wonder had abated,
and the question now under discussion was the probable existence, the
history and habits of so extraordinary an animal.
The women were collected near each other, much as Deerslayer had last
seen them, nearly in a line between the place where he now stood and the
fire. The distance from the oak against which the young men leaned and
the warriors was about thirty yards; the women may have been half that
number of yards nigher. The latter, indeed, were so near as to make the
utmost circumspection, as to motion and noise, indispensable. Although
they conversed in their low, soft voices, it was possible, in the profound
stillness of the woods, even to catch passages of the discourse; and the
light-hearted laugh that escaped the girls might occasionally have reached
the canoe. Deerslayer felt the tremor that passed through the frame of
his friend when the latter first caught the sweet sounds that issued from
the plump, pretty lips of Hist. He even laid a hand on the shoulder of
the Indian, as a sort of admonition to command himself. As the conver-
sation grew more earnest, each leaned forward to listen.
The Hurons have more curious beasts than that," said one of the girls,
contemptuously, for, like the men, they conversed of the elephant and his
qualities. "The Delawares will think this creature wonderful, but to-
morrow no Huron tongue will talk of it. Our young men will find him if
the animal dares to come near our wigwams "
This was in fact addressed to Wah-ta !-Wah, though she who spoke
uttered her words with an assumed diffidence and humility that prevented
her looking at the other.
The Delawares are so far from letting such creatures come into their
country," returned Hist, "that no one has even seen their images there !
Their young men would frighten away the images as well as the beasts."
"The Delaware young men!-the nation is one of women--even the
deer walk when they hear their hunters coming! Who has ever heard
the name of a young Delaware warrior ? "
This was said in good humour, and with a laugh; but it was also said
bitingly. That Hist so felt it was apparent by the spirit betrayed in her
Who has ever heard the name of a young Delaware! she repeated,