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JAMES. FENIMORE COOPER
ARRANGED FOR YOUTH
BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL
GLASGOW, MANCHESTER, AND NEW YORK
The turf shall be my fragrant shrine,
My temple, Lord that arch of thine;
My censer's breath the mountain airs,
And silent thoughts my only prayers.-MOnOE.
THE sublimity connected with vastness is familiar to every eye. The
most abstruse, the most far-reaching, perhaps the most chastened of the
poet's thoughts, crowd on the imagination as he gazes into the depths of
the illimitable void, The expanse of the ocean is seldom seen by the
novice with indifference, and the mind, even in the obscurity of night,
finds a parallel to that grandeur which seems inseparable from images that
the senses cannot compass. With feelings akin to this admiration and.awe
the offspring of sublimity-were the different characters with which the
action of this tale must open, gazing on the scene before them. Four per-
sons in all-two of each sex-they had managed to ascend a pile of trees,
that had been uptorn by a tempest, to catch a view of the objects that
surrounded them. It is still the practice of the country to call these spots
wind-rows. By letting in the light of heaven upon the dark and damp
recesses of the wood, they form a sort of oases in the solemn obscurity of
the virgin forests of America. The particular wind-row of which we are
writing, lay on the brow of a gentle acclivity, and, though small, it had
opened the way for an extensive view to those who might occupy its upper
margin-a rare occurrence to the traveller in the woods. As usual, the spot
was small, but owing to the circumstances of its lying on the low acclivity
mentioned, and that of the opening's extending downward, it offered more
than common advantages to the eye. Philosophy has not yet determined
the nature of the power that so often lays desolate spots of this descrip-
tion: some ascribing it to the whirlwinds that produce water-spouts on the
ocean; while others, again, impute it to sudden and violent passages of
streams of the electric fluid; but the effects in the woods are familiar to
all. On the upper margin of the opening to which there is allusion, the
viewless influence had piled tree on tree, in such a manner as had not only
enabled the two men of the party to ascend to an elevation of some thirty
feet above the level of the earth, but, with a little care and encouragement,
to induce their more timid companions to accompany them. The vast
trunks that had been broken and driven by the force of the gust, lay
blended like jack-straws, while their branches, still exhaling the fragrance
of wilted leaves, were interlaced in a manner to afford sufficient support to
the hands. One tree had been completely uprooted, and its lower end,
4 7HE PATHFINDER.
filed with earth, had been cast uppermost, in a way to supply a sort of
staging for the four adventurers, when they had gained the desired
distance from the ground.
The reader is to anticipate none of the appliances of people of condition
in the description of the personal appearances of the group in question.
They were all wayfarers in the wilderness; and had they not been, neither
their previous habits nor their actual social positions would have accus-
tomed them to many of the luxuries of rank. Two of the party, indeed,.
a man and woman, belonged to the native owners of the soil, being Indians
of the well-known tribe of the Tuscaroras; while their companions were a.
man, who bore about him the peculiarities of one who had passed his days.
on the ocean, and that, too, in a station little, if any, above that of a.
common mariner; while his associate was a maiden of a class in no great.
degree superior to his own; though her youth, sweetness of countenance,.
and a modest, but spirited, mien, lent that character of intellect and refine-.
ment which adds so much to the charm of beauty in the sex. On the-
present occasion, her full blue eye reflected the feeling of sublimity that.
the scene excited, and her pleasant face was beaming with the pensive-
expression with which all deep emotions, even though they bring the most.
grateful pleasure, shadow the countenances of the ingenuous and thoughtful.
And, truly, the scene was of a nature deeply to impress the imagination.
of the beholder. Towards the west, in which direction the faces of the-
party were turned, and in which alone could much be seen, the eye ranged
over an ocean of leaves, glorious and rich in the varied but lively verdure-
of a generous vegetation, and shaded by the luxuriant tints that belong to.
the forty-second degree of latitude. The elm, with its graceful and weep-
ing top, the rich varieties of the maple, most of the noble oaks of the
American forest, with the broad-leafed linden, known in the parlance of'
the country as the bass-wood, mingled their uppermost branches, forming-
one broad and seemingly interminable carpet of foliage, that stretched
away towards the setting sun, until it bounded the horizon, by blending
with the clouds, as the waves and sky meet at the base of the vault of'
Heaven. Here and there, by some accident of the tempests, or by a.
caprice of nature, a trifling opening among these giant members of the
forest permitted an inferior tree to struggle upward toward the light, and
to lift its modest head nearly to a level with the surrounding surface of'
verdure. Of this class were the birch, a tree of some account in regions
less favoured, the quivering aspen, various generous nut-woods, and divers.
others that resembled the ignoble and vulgar, thrown by circumstances into
the presence of the stately and great. Here and there, too, the tall, straight
trunk of the pine pierced the vast field, rising high above it, like some-
grand monument reared by art on a plain of leaves.
It was the vastness of the view, the nearly unbroken surface of verdure,
that contained theprinciple of grandeur. The beauty was to be traced in
the delicate tints, relieved by gradations of light and shadow; while the
solemn repose induced the feeling allied to awe.
Uncle," said the wondering, but pleased girl, addressing her male com-
panion, whose arm she rather touched than leaned on, to steady her own.
light but firm footing, this is like a view of the ocean you so much love."
So much for ignorance and a girl's fancy, Magnet"-a term of affec-
tion the sailor often used in allusion to his niece's personal attractions-
"no one but a child would think of likening his handful of leaves to a-
look at the real Atlantic. You might seize all these tree-tops to Neptune's
jacket, and they would make no more than a nosegay for his bosom."
"More fanciful than true, I think, uncle. Look thither; it must be
miles on miles, and yet we see nothing but leaves! what more could one
behold, if looking at the ocean ? "
More returned the uncle, giving an impatient gesture with the elbow
the other touched, for his arms were crossed, and the hands were thrust
into the bosom of a vest of red cloth, a fashion of the times, more,
Magnet ? say, rather, what less ? Where are your combing seas, your blue
water, your rollers, your breakers, your whales, or your water-spouts, and
your endless motion, in this bit of a forest, child ? "
And where are your tree-tops, your solemn silence, your fragrant leaves,
and your beautiful green, uncle, on the ocean ? "
Tut, Magnet; if you understood the thing, you would know that green
water is a sailor's bane. He scarcely relishes a greenhorn less."
"But green trees are a different thing. Hist! that sound is the air
breathing among the leaves."
You should hear a nor'-wester' breathe, girl, if you fancy wind aloft.
Now, where are your gales, and hurricanes, and trades, and levanters, and
such-like incidents, in this bit of a forest, and what fishes have you swim-
ming beneath yonder tame surface ? "
That there have been tempests here these signs around us plainly show,
and beasts, if not fishes, are beneath those leaves."
I do not know that," returned the uncle, with a sailor's dogmatism.
"They told us many stories at Albany of the wild animals we should fall
in with, and yet we have seen nothing to frighten a seal. I doubt whether
any of 'your inland animals will compare with a low latitude shark!"
See !" exclaimed the niece, who was more occupied with the sublimity
and beauty of the "boundless wood" than with her uncle's arguments,
"yonder is a smoke curling over the tops of the trees-can it come from a
Ay, ay; there is a look of humanity in that smoke," returned the old
seaman, which is worth a thousand trees. I must show it to Arrowhead,
who may be running past a port without knowing it. It is probable there
is a caboose where there is a smoke."
As he concluded, the uncle drew a hand from his bosom, touched the
Indian, who was standing near him, lightly on the shoulder, and pointed
out a thin line of vapour that was stealing slowly out of the wilderness of
leaves, at a distance of about a mile, and was diffusing itself in almost
imperceptible threads of humidity in the quivering atmosphere. The Tus-
carora was one of those noble-looking warriors that were oftener met with
among the aborigines of this continent a century since, than to-day; and,
while he had mingled sufficiently with the colonists to be familiar with
their habits, and even with their language, he had lost little, if any, of the
wild grandeur and simple dignity of a chief. Between him and the old
seaman the intercourse had been friendly, but distant, for the Indian had
been too much accustomed to mingle with the officers of the different
military posts he had frequented not to understand that his present com-
panion was only a subordinate. So imposing, indeed, had been the quiet
superiority of the Tuscarora's reserve, that Charles Cap, for so was the
seaman named, in his most dogmatical or facetious moments had not ven-
tured on familiarity in an intercourse that had now lasted more than a
6 THE PATHFINDER.
week. The sight of the curling smoke, however, had struck the latter like
the sudden appearance of a sail at sea, and, for the first time since they
met, he ventured to touch the warrior, as has been related.
The quick eye of the Tuscarora instantly caught sight of the smoke, and
for quite a minute he stood, slightly raised on tiptoe, with distended nostrils,
like the buck that scents a taint in the air, and a gaze as riveted as that of
the trained pointer, while he waits his master's aim. Then falling back on
his feet, a low exclamation, in the soft tones that form so singular a con-
trast to its harsher cries, in the Indian warrior's voice, was barely audible;
otherwise, he was undisturbed. His countenance was calm, and his quick,
dark, eagle eye moved over the leafy panorama, as if to take in at a glance
every circumstance that might enlighten his mind. That the long journey
they had attempted to make through a broad belt of wilderness, was neces-
sarily attended with danger, both uncle and niece well knew; though
neither could at once determine whether the sign that others were in their
vicinity was the harbinger of good or of evil.
There must be Oneidas, or Tuscaroras, near us, Arrowhead," said Cap,
addressing his Indian companion by his conventional English name; will
it not be well to join company with them, and get a comfortable berth for
the night in their wigwam ? "
No wigwam there," Arrowhead answered, in his unmoved manner-
"too much tree."
But Indians must be there; perhaps some old messmates of your own,
No Tuscarora-no Oneida-no Mohawk-pale-face fire."
The devil it is Well, Magnet, this surpasses a' seaman's philosophy
-we old sea-dogs can tell a soldier's from a sailor's quid, or a lubber's
nest from a mate's hammock; but I do not think the oldest admiral in his
Majesty's fleet can tell a king's smoke from a collier's "
The idea that human beings were in their vicinity in that ocean of wilder-
ness, had deepened the flush on the blooming cheek, and brightened the eye
of the fair creature at his side, but she soon turned with a look of surprise
to her relative, and said hesitatingly, for both had often admired the Tus-
carora's knowledge, or we might almost say, instinct,-
"A pale-face's fire! Surely, uncle, he cannot know that!"
"Ten days since, child, I would have sworn to it; but, now, I hardly
know what to believe. May I take the liberty of asking, Arrowhead, why
you fancy that smoke now a pale-face's smoke, and not a red-skin's ? "
Wet wood," returned the warrior, with the calmness with which the
pedagogue might point out an arithmetical demonstration to his puzzled
pupil. "Much wet-much smoke: much water-black smoke."
But, begging your pardon, Master Arrowhead, the smoke is not black,
nor is there much of it. To my eye, now, it is as light and fanciful a smoke
as ever rose from a captain's tea-kettle, when nothing was left to make the
fire but a few chips from the dunnage."
Too much water," returned Arrowhead, with a slight nod of the head:
"Tuscarora too cunning to make fire with water pale-face too much book,
and burn anything; much book, little know."
Well, that's reasonable, I allow," said Cap, who was no devotee of
learning: he-means that as a hit at your reading, Magnet, for the chief
has sensible notions of things in his own way. How far now, Arrowhead,
do you make us, by your calculation, from the bit of a pond that you call
THE PA THFINDER. 7
the Great Lake, and towards which we have been so many days shaping
our course ? "
The Tuscarora looked at the seaman with quiet superiority, as he
"Ontario like heaven, one sun, and the great traveller will know it."
"Well, I have been a great traveller, I cannot deny, but of all my v'y'ges,
this has been the longest, the least profitable, and the farthest inland. If
this body of fresh water is so nigh, Arrowhead, and at the same time so
large, one might think a pair of good eyes would find it out, for, apparently,
everything within thirty miles is to be seen'from this look-out."
Look," said Arrowhead, stretching an arm before him with quiet grace;
Uncle, you are accustomed to cry land ho! but not 'water ho' and
you do not see it," cried the niece, laughing as girls will laugh at their own
"How now, Magnet, dost suppose that I shouldn't know my native
element if it were in sight ? "
".But Ontario is not your native element, dear uncle, for you come from
the salt water, while this is fresh."
That might make some difference to your young mariner, but none in
the world to the old one. I should know water, child, were I to see it in
Ontario," repeated the Arrowhead with emphasis, again stretching his
hand towards the north-west.
Cap looked at the Tuscarora, for the first time since their acquaintance,
with something like an air of contempt, though he did not fail to follow the
direction of the chief's eye and arm, both of which were directed, to all
appearance, towards a vacant point in the heavens, a short distance above
the plain of leaves.
"Ay, ay; this is much as I expected, when I left the coast to come in
search of a fresh-water pond," resumed Cap, shrugging his shoulders like
one whose mind was made up, and who thought no more need be said.
Ontario may be there, or, for that matter, it may be in my pocket. Well,
I suppose there will be room enough, when we reach it, to work our canoe.
But, Arrowhead, if there are pale-faces in our neighbourhood, I confess I
should like to get within hail of them."
The Tuscarora now gave a quiet inclination of his head, and the whole
party descended in silence from the roots of the uptorn tree. When they
had reached the ground, Arrowhead intimated his intention to go towards
the fire, and ascertain who had lighted it, while he advised his wife and the
two others to return to a canoe which they had left in the adjacent stream,
and await his return.
Why, Chief, this might do on soundings, and in an offing where one
knew the channel," returned old Cap, but in an unknown region like this,
I think it unsafe to trust the pilot alone too far from the ship: so, with ,
your leave, we will not part company."
"What my brother want ?" asked the Indian, gravely, though without
taking offence at a distrust that was sufficiently plain.
Your company, Master Arrowhead, and no more. I will go with you
and speak these strangers."
The Tuscarora assented without difficulty, and again he directed his
patient and submissive little wife, who seldom turned her full rich black
8 7HE PATHFINDER.
eye on him, but to express equally her respect, her dread, and her love, to
proceed to the boat. But here Magnet raised a difficulty. Although
spirited, and of unusual energy in circumstances of trial, she was but
woman, and the idea of being entirely deserted by her two male protectors,
in the midst of a wilderness, that her senses had just told her was seemingly
illimitable, became so keenly painful that she expressed a wish to accom-
pany her uncle.
The exercise will be a relief, dear sir, after sitting so long in the canoe,"
she added, as the rich blood slowly returned to a cheek that had paled, in
spite of her efforts to be calm; "and there may be women with the
Come, then, child-it is but a cable's length, and we shall return an
hour before the sun sets."
With this permission, the girl, whose real name was Mable Dunham,
prepared to be of the party, while the Dew-of-June, as the wife of Arrow-
head was called, passively went her way towards the canoe, too much
accustomed to obedience, solitude, and the gloom of the forest to feel
The three who remained in the wind-row now picked their way around
its tangled maze, and gained the margin of the woods in the necessary
direction. A few glances of the eye sufficed for Arrowhead, but old Cap
deliberately set the smoke by a pocket-compass before he trusted himself
within the shadows of the trees.
This steering by the nose, Magnet, may do well enough for an Indian,
but your thorough-bred knows the virtue of the needle," said the uncle, as
he trudged at the heels of the light-stepping Tuscarora. America would
never have been discovered, take my word for it, if Columbus had been
nothing but nostrils. Friend Arrowhead, didst ever see a machine like this ? "
The Indian turned, cast a glance at the compass, which Cap held in a
way to direct his course, and gravely answered,-
"A pale-face eye. The Tuscarora see in his head. The Salt-Water"
(for so the Indian styled his companion) all eye now, no tongue."
He means, uncle, that we had needs be silent; perhaps he distrusts the
persons we are about to meet."
"Ay-'tis an Indian's fashion of going to quarters. You perceive he
has examined the priming of his rifle, and it may be as well if I look to that
of my own pistols."
Without betraying alarm at these preparations, to which she had become
accustomed by her long journey in the wilderness, Mabel followed with a
step as light and elastic as that of the Indian, keeping close in the- rear of
her companions. For the first half mile no other caution beyond a rigid
silence was observed, but as the party drew nearer to the spot where the
fire was known to be, much greater care became necessary.
The forest, as usual, had little to intercept the view, below the branches,
but the tall straight trunks of trees. Everything belonging to vegetation
had struggled towards the light, and beneath the leafy canopy one walked,
as it might be, through a vast natural vault, that was upheld by myriads
of rustic columns. These columns, or trees, however, often serve to con-
ceal the adventurer, the hunter, or the foe, and as Arrowhead swiftly
approached the spot where his practised and unerrig senses told him the
strangers ought to be, his footstep gradually became lighter, his eye more
vigilant, and his person was more carefully concealed.
THE PATHFINDER. 9
"See, Salt-Water," he said, exultingly, pointing at the same time through
the vista of trees, pale-face fire! "
The fellow is right," muttered Cap; "there they are, sure enough, and
eating their grub as quietly as if they were in the cabin of a three-decker."
"Arrowhead is but half right," whispered Mabel, "for there are two
Indians and only one white man."
"Pale-faces," said the Tuscarora, holding up two fingers; red man,"
holding up one.
Well," rejoined Cap, "it is hard to say which is right and which is
wrong. One is entirely white, and a fine comely lad he is, with an air of
life and respectability about him; one is a red-skin as plain as paint and
nature can make him; but the third chap is half-rigged, being neither brig
Pale-faces," repeated Arrowhead, again raising two fingers-" red-man,"
showing but one.
He must be right, uncle, for his eye seems never to fail. But it is now
urgent to know whether we meet as friends or foes. They may be
One hail will soon satisfy us on that head," returned Cap. Stand
you behind this tree, Magnet, lest the knaves take it into their heads to fire
a broadside without a parley, and I will soon learn what colours they sail
The uncle had placed his two hands to his mouth t6 form a trumpet, and
was about to give the promised hail, when a rapid movement from the
hand-of Arrowhead defeated the intention by deranging the instrument.
Red-man, Mohican," said the Tuscarora; "good; pale-faces, Yen-
These are heavenly tidings," murmured Mabel, who little relished the
prospect of a deadly fray in that remote wilderness. Let us approach at
once, dear uncle, and proclaim ourselves friends."
"Good," said the Tuscarora; "red-man cool, and know; pale-face
hurried, and fire. Let the squaw go."
What," said Cap, in astonishment, send little Magnet ahead, as a
look-out, while two lubbers like you and me, lie to, to see what sort of a
land-fall she will make! If I do, I- "
"It is wisest, uncle," interrupted the generous girl, "and I have no fear.
No Christian, seeing a woman approach alone, would fire upon her, and my
presence will be a pledge of peace. Let me go forward, as Arrowhead
wishes, and all will be well. We are, as yet, unseen, and the surprise of
the strangers will not partake of alarm."
Good," returned Arrowhead, who did not conceal his approbation of
"It has an unseaman-like look," answered Cap, "but, being in the
woods, no one will know it. If you think, Mabel-- "
"Uncle, I know. There is no cause to fear for me; and you are always
nigh to protect me."
"Well, take one of the pistols, then-- "
"Nay, I had better rely on my youth and feebleness," said the girl,
smiling, while her colour heightened under her feelings-" among Christian
men a woman's best guard is her claim to their protection. I know nothing
of arms, and wish to live in ignorance of them."
The uncle desisted; and, after receiving a few cautious instructions from
o1 THE PATHFINDER.
the Tuscarora, Mabel rallied all her spirit, and advanced alone towards the
group seated near the fire. Although the heart of the girl beat quickly,
her step was firm, and her movements,. seemingly, were without reluctance.
A death-like silence reigned in the forest, for they towards whom she ap-
proached were too much occupied in appeasing that great natural appetite,
hunger, to avert their looks, for an instant, from the important business in
which they wer3 all engaged. When, Mabel, however, had got within a
hundred feet of the fire, she trod upon a dried stick, and the trifling noise
that was produced by her light footstep caused the Mohican, as Arrowhead
had pronounced the Indian to be, and his companion whose character had
been thought so equivocal, to rise to their feet as quick as thought. Both
glanced at the rifles that leaned against a tree, and then each stood with-
out stretching out an
arm, as his eyes fell on
the form of the girl.
The Indian uttered a
few words to his com-
Spanion, and resumed
his seat and his meal,
as calmly as if no inter-
ruption had occurred.
On the contrary, the
white man left the fire,
and came forward to
The latter saw, as the
That she wa. about to be
addressed by one of her
own colour ,though his
dress was so stange a
mixture of the habits
of the two races, that
it required a near look
to be certain of the fact.
He was of middle age,
but there was an open
honesty, a total absence
of guile, in his face,
which otherwise would
not have been thought handsome, that at once assured Magnet she
wa's in no danger. Still she paused in obedience to a law of her habits, if
not of nature, which rendered her averse from the appearance of advancing
too freely to meet one of the other sex, in the circumstances in which she
Fear nothing, young woman," said the hunter, for such his attire would
indicate him to be, "you have met Christian men in the wilderness, and
such as know how to treat all kindly that are disposed to peace and jusitce.
I am a man well known in all these parts, and perhaps one of my names
may have reached your ears. By the Frenchers and the red-rkins on the
other side of the Big Lakes, I am called La Longue Carabine; by the
Mohicans, a justminded and upright tribe, what is left of them, Hawk-eye ;
THE PA THFINDER. I
while the troops and rangers along this side of the water call me Pathfinder,
inasmuch as I have never been known to miss one end of the trail, when
there was a Mingo, or a friend, who stood in need of me at the other."
This was not uttered boastfully, but with the honest confidence of one
who well knew that by whatever name others might have heard of him, he
had no reason to blush at the reports. The effect on Mabel was instantane-
ous. The moment she heard the last sobriquet, she clasped her hands
eagerly and repeated the word,-
"So they call me, young woman, and many a great lord has got a title
that he did not half so well merit; though, if truth be said, I rather pride
myself in finding my way, where there is no path, than in finding it where
there is. But the regular troops are by no means particular, and half the
time they don't know the difference between a trail and a path, though one
is a matter for the eye, while the other is little more than scent."
Then you are the friend my father promised to send to meet us ? "
"If you are Sergeant Dunham's daughter, the great Prophet of the
Delawares never uttered more truth."
I am Mabel, and yonder, hid by the trees, are my uncle, whose name
is Cap, and a Tuscarora, called Arrowhead. We did not hope to meet you
until we had nearly reached the shores of the lake."
I wish a juster-minded Indian had been your guide," said Pathfinder,
"for I am no lover of the Tuscaroras, who have travelled too far from the
graves of their fathers, always to remember the Great Spirit; and Arrow-
head is an ambitious chief. Is the Dew-of-June with him ? "
His wife accompanies us, and a humble and mild creature she is."
Ay, and true-hearted; which is more than any who know him will say
of Arrowhead. Well, we must take the fare that Providence bestows,
while we follow the trail of life. I suppose worse guides might have been
found than the Tuscarora; though he has too much Mingo blood for one
who consorts altogether with the Delawares."
It is then, perhaps, fortunate we have met," said Mabel.
It is not misfortunate, at any rate, for I promised the sergeant I would
see his child safe to the garrison, though I died for it. We expected to
meet you before you reached the falls, where we have left our own canoe;
while we thought it might do no harm to come up a few miles, in order to
be of service if wanted. It is lucky we did, for I doubt whether Arrowhead
is the man to shoot the current."
Here come my uncle and the Tuscarora, and our parties can now join."
As Mabel concluded, Cap and Arrowhead who saw that the conference
was amicable, drew nigh, and a few words sufficed to let them know as
much as the girl herself had learned from the strangers. As soon as
this was done, the party proceeded towards the two, who still remained
near the fire.
THE Mohican continued to eat, though the second white man rose, and
courteously took off his cap to Mabel Dunham. He was young, healthful,
and manly in appearance; and he wore a dress, which, while it was less
rigidly professional than that of the uncle, also denoted one accustomed to
THE PA THFINDER.
the water. In that age, real seamen were a class entirely apart from the
rest of mankind; their ideas, ordinary language, and attire, being as
strongly indicative of their calling, as the opinions, speech, and dress of a
Turk denote a Mussulman. Although the Pathfinder was scarcely in the
prime of life, Mabel had met him with a steadiness that may have been
the consequence of having braced her nerves for the interview; but when
her eyes encountered those of the young man at the fire, they fell before
the gaze of admiration, with which she saw, or fancied she saw, he greeted
her. Each, in truth, felt that interest in the other, which similarity of age,
condition, mutual comeliness, and their novel situation would be likely to
inspire in the young and ingenuous.
Here," said Pathfinder, with an honest smile bestowed on Mabel, "are
the friends your worthy father has sent to meet you. This is a great
Delaware; and one that has had honours as well as troubles in his day.
He has an Indian name fit for a chief, but as the language is not always
easy for the inexperienced to pronounce, we naturally turn it into English,
and call him the Big Sarpent. You are not to suppose, however, that by
this name we wish to say that he is treacherous, beyond what is lawful in
a red-skin, but that he is wise, and has the cunning that becomes a warrior.
Arrowhead, there, knows what I mean."
While the Pathfinder was delivering this address, the two Indians gazed
on each other steadily, and the Tuscarora advanced and spoke to the other
in an apparently friendly manner.
I like to see this," continued Pathfinder; the salutes of two red-skins
in the woods, Master Cap, are like the hailing of friendly vessels on the
ocean. But, speaking of water, it reminds me of my young friend, Jasper
Western, here, who can claim to know something of these matters, seeing
that he has passed his days on Ontario."
I am glad to see you, friend," said Cap, giving the young fresh-water
sailor a cordial grip; "though you must have something still to learn,
considering the school to which you have been sent. This is my niece
Mabel-I call her Magnet, for a reason she never dreams of, though you
may, possibly, have education enough to guess at it, having some.preten-
sions to understand the compass, I suppose."
The reason is easily comprehended," said the young man, involuntarily
fastening his keen dark eye, at the same time, on the suffused face of the
girl; and I feel sure that the sailor who steers by your Magnet will never
make a bad land-fall."
Ha-you do make use of some of the terms, I find, and that with
propriety and understanding; though, on the whole, I fear you have seen
more green than blue water !"
It is not surprising that we should get some of the phrases that belong
to the land, for we are seldom out of sight of it twenty-four hours at a
"More's the pity, boy; more's the pity. A very little land ought to go
a great way with a seafaring man. Now, if the truth were known, Master
Western, I suppose there is more or less laud all round your lake."
"And, uncle, is there not more or less land around the ocean ? said
Magnet, quickly; for she dreaded a premature display of the old seaman's
peculiar dogmatism, not to say pedantry.
No, child, there is more or less ocean all around the land that's what
I tell the people ashore, youngster. They are living, as it might be, in the
THE PA THFLVDER. 13
midst of the sea, without knowing it; by sufferance, as it were, the water
being so much the more powerful, and the largest. But there is no end to
conceit in this world, for a fellow who never saw salt water often fancies he
knows more than one who has gone round the Horn. No-no-this earth is
pretty much an island, and all that can be truly said not to be so, is water."
Mayhap the ocean has no ends ? Pathfinder said.
"That it hasn't; nor sides, nor bottom. The nation that is snugly
moored on one of its coasts need fear nothing from the one anchored abeam,
let it be ever so savage, unless it possesses the art of ship-building. No,
no-the people who live on the shores of the Atlantic need fear but little
for their skins or their scalps. A man may lie down at night, in those
regions, in the hope of finding the hair on his head in the morning, unless
he wears a wig."
"It isn't so here. I don't wish to flurry the young woman, and there-
fore I will be no way particular-though she seems pretty much listening
to Eau-douce, as we call him-but without the education I have received I
should think it, at this very moment, a risky journey to go over the very
ground that lies between us and the garrison, in the present state of this
frontier. There are about as many Iroquois on this side of Ontario as
there are on the other. It is for this very reason, friend Cap, that the
sergeant has engaged us to come out and show you the path."
What !-do the knaves dare to cruise so near the guns of one of his
Majesty's works ? "
"Do not the ravens resort near the carcase of the deer, though the
fowler is at hand. They come this-a-way, as it might be, naturally. There
are more or less whites passing between the forts and the settlements, and
they are sure to be on their trails. The Sarpent has come up one side of
the river, and I have come up the other, in order to scout for the outlying
rascals, while Jasper brought up the canoe, like a bold-hearted sailor, as
he is. The sergeant told him, with tears in his eyes, all about his child,
and how his heart yearned for her, and how gentle and obedient she was,
until I think the lad would have dashed into a Mingo camp, single handed,
rather than not a-come."
"We thank him-we thank him; and shall think the better of him for
his readiness; though I suppose the boy has run no great risk, after all ? "
Only the risk of being shot from a cover as he forced the canoe up a
swift rift, or turned an elbow in the stream, with his eyes fastened on the
eddies. Of all the risky journeys, that on an ambushed river is the most
risky, in my judgment, and that risk has Jasper run."
And what the devil is to prevent these Minks, of which you speak,
from shooting us as we double a head land, or are busy in steering clear
of the rocks ? "
The Lord! He who has so often helped others in greater difficulties.
Many and many is the time that my head would have been stripped of
hair, skin and all, hadn't the Lord fi't of my side. I never go into a skrim-
mage, friend mariner, without thinking of this great ally, who can do more
in battle than all the battalions of the 60th, were they brought into a
Ay, ay-this may do well enough for a scouter; but we seamen like our
offing, and to go into action with nothing in our minds but the business
before us-plain broadside and broadside work, and no trees or rocks to
thicken the water."
14 THE PA THFINDER.
"And no Lord, too, I dare to say, if the truth were known! Take my
word for it, Master Cap, that no battle is the worse fou't for having the
Lord on your side. Look at the head of the Big Sarpent, there; you can
see the mark of a knife all along by his left ear; now, nothing but a bullet
from this long rifle of mine saved his scalp that day, for it had fairly
started, and half a minute more would have left him without the war-lock.
When the Mohican squeezes my hand, and intermates that I befriended
him in that matter, I tell him no; it was the Lord who led me to the only
spot where execution could be done, or his necessity be made known, on
account of the smoke. Sartain when I got the right position I finished the
affair of my own accord, for a friend under the tomahawk is apt to make
a man think quick, and act at once, as was my case, or the Sarpent's spirit
would be hunting in the happy land of his people at this very moment."
"Come, come, Pathfinder, this palaver is worse than being skinned from
stem to stern; we have but a few hours of sun, and had better be drifting
down this said current of yours while we may. Magnet, dear, are you not
ready to get under-way ?"
Magnet started, blushed brightly, and made her preparations for an
immediate departure. Not a syllable of the discourse just related had she
heard, for Eau-douce, as young Jasper was oftener called than anything else,
had been filling her ears with a description of the yet distant port towards
which she was journeying, with accounts of her father, whom she had not
seen since a child, and with the manner of life of those who lived in the
frontier garrisons. Unconsciously she had become deeply interested, and
her thoughts had been too intently directed to these interesting matters to
allow any of the less agreeable subjects discussed by those so near to reach
her ears. The bustle of departure put an end to the conversation
entirely, and the baggage of the scouts, or guides, being trifling, in a few
minutes the whole party was ready to proceed. As they were about to quit
the spot, however, to the surprise of even his fellow-guides, Pathfinder
collected a quantity of branches, and threw them upon the embers of the
fire, taking care even to see that some of the wood was damp, in order to
raise as dark and dense a smoke as possible.
"When you can hide your trail, Jasper," he said, "a smoke at leaving
an encampment may do good instead of harm. If there are a dozen
Mingos within ten miles of us, some on 'em are on the heights, or in the
trees, looking out for smokes; let them see this, and much good may it do
them. They are welcome to our leavings."
"But may they not strike, and follow on our trail ? asked the youth,
whose interest in the hazard of his situation had much increased since the
meeting with Magnet. We shall leave a broad path to the river."
The broader the better: when there it will surpass Mingo cunning,
-even to say which way the canoe has gone; up stream or down. Water is the
only thing in natur' that will thoroughly wash out a trail, and even water will
not always do it when the scent is strong. Do you not see, Eau-douce, that
if any Mingos have seen our path below the falls they will strike off
towards this smoke, and that they will naturally conclude that they who
began by going up stream will end by going up stream ? If they know
.anything, they now know a party is out from the fort, and it will exceed
*even Mingo wit to fancy that we have come up here just for the pleasure of
,going back again, and that, too, the same day, and at the risk of our scalps."
,, Certainly," added Jasper, who was talking apart with the Pathfinder,
THE PATHFINDER. 15
as they moved towards the wind-row, they cannot know anything about
the sergeant's daughter, for the greatest secrecy has been observed, on her
"And they will learn nothing here," returned Pathfinder, causing his
companion to see that he trod with the utmost care, on the impression left
on the leaves by the little foot of Mabel, "unless this old salt-water fish
has been taking his niece about in the wind-row, like a fawn playing by
the side of the old doe."
Buck you mean, Pathfinder."
"Isn't he a queerity ?-Now, I can consort with such a sailor as yourself,
Eau-douce, and find nothing very contrary in our gifts, though yours
belong to the lakes, and mine to the woods. Harkee, Jasper," continued
the scout, laughing in his noiseless manner; suppose we try the temper
of his blade, and run him over the falls ? "
"And what would be done with the pretty niece in the meanwhile ?"
"Nay-nay-no harm shall come to her; she must walk round the
portage at any rate; but you and I can try this Atlantic oceaner, and then
all parties will become better acquainted. We shall find out whether his
flint will strike fire; and he may come to know something of frontier
Young Jasper smiled, for he was not averse from fun, and had been a
little touched by Cap's superciliousness; but Mabel's fair face, light agile
form, and winning smiles, stood like a shield between her uncle and the
Perhaps the sergeant's daughter will be frightened," he said.
"Not she, if she has any of the sergeant's spirit in her. She doesn't
look like a skeary thing, at all. Leave it to me, then, Eau-douce, and I will
manage the affair alone."
Not you, Pathfinder; you would only drown both. If the canoe goes
over, I must go in it."
"Well, have it so, then; shall we smoke the pipe of agreement on the
Jasper laughed, nodded his head, by way of consent, and then the
subject was dropped, as the party had reached the canoe, so often men-
tioned, and fewer words had determined much greater things between the
THE vessel in which Cap and his niece had embarked for their long and
adventurous journey, was one of the canoes of bark, which the Indians are
in the habit of constructing, and which, by their exceeding lightness, and
the ease with which they are propelled, are admirably adapted to a naviga-
tion in which shoals, flood-wood, and other similar obstructions, so often
occur. The two men who composed its original crew had several times
carried it, when emptied of its luggage, many hundred yards; and it would
not have exceeded the strength of a single man to lift its weight. Still it
was long, and, for a canoe, wide, a want of steadiness being its principal
defect in the eyes of the uninitated. A few hours' practice, however, in a
great measure remedied this evil, and both Mabel and her uncle had
learned so far to humour its movements, that they now maintained their
16 THE PA THFINDER.
places with perfect composure; nor did the additional weight of the three
guides tax its power in any particular degree, the breath of rounded bottom
allowing the necessary quantity of water to be displaced, without bringing
the gunwale very sensibly nearer to the surface of the stream. Its work-
manship was neat; the timbers were small, and secured by thongs; and
the whole fabric, though it was so slight and precarious to the eye, was
probably capable of conveying double the number of persons that it now
Cap was seated on a low thwart, in the centre of the canoe; the Big
Serpent knelt near him. Arrowhead and his wife occupied places forward
of both, the former having relinquished his post aft. Mabel was half-
reclining on some of her own effects, behind her uncle, while the Pathfinder
and Eau-douce stood erect, the one in the bow, and the other in the stern,
.each using a paddle, with a long, steady, noiseless sweep. The conversa-
tion was carried on in low tones, all of the party beginning to feel the
necessity of prudence, as they drew nearer to the outskirts of the fort, and
had no longer the cover of the woods.
The Oswego, just at that place, was a deep, dark stream, of no great
width, its still, gloomy-looking current winding its way among overhanging
trees, that, in particular spots, almost shut out the light of the heavens. Here
and there some half-fallen giant of the forest lay nearly across its surface,
rendering care necessary to avoid the limbs; and most of the distance, the
lower branches and leaves of the trees of smaller growth were laved by its
"I sometimes wish for peace again," said the Pathfinder, when one can
range the forest without searching for any other enemy than the beasts and
fishes. Ah's me! many is the day that the Sarpent, there, and I have
passed happily among the streams, living on venison, salmon and trout,
without thought of a Mingo, or a scalp! I sometimes wish that them
blessed days might come back, for it is not my real gift to slay my own
kind. I'm sartin the sergeant's daughter don't think me a wretch that
takes pleasure in preying on human natur' ? "
As this remark, a sort of half interrogatory, was made, Pathfinder looked
behind him; and, though the most partial friend could scarcely term his
sunburnt and hard features handsome, even Mabel thought his smile
attractive, by its simple ingenuousness, and the uprightness that beamed in
every lineament of his honest countenance.
I do not think my father would have sent one like those you mention
to see his daughter through the wilderness," the young woman answered,
returning the smile as frankly as it was given, and much more sweetly.
That he wouldn't, that he wouldn't; the sergeant is a man of feeling,
and many is the march and the fight that we have had-stood shoulder to
shoulder in, as he would call it-though I always keep my limbs free, when
near a Frencher or a Mingo."
You are then the young friend of whom my father has spoken so often
in his letters? "
"His young friend-the sergeant has the advantage of me by thirty
years; yes, he is thirty years my senior, and as many my better."
Not in the eyes of the daughter, perhaps, friend Pathfinder," put in
Cap, whose spirits began to revive, when he found the water once more
flowing around him. "The thirty years that you mention are not often
thought to be an advantage in the eyes of girls of nineteen."
THE PA THFINDER. 17
Mabel coloured, and turning aside her face, to avoid the look of those in
the bow of the canoe, she encountered the admiring gaze of the young man
in the stern. As a last resource, her spirited, but soft blue eyes, sought
refuge in the water. Just at this moment a dull heavy sound swept up the
avenue formed by the trees, borne along by a light air that hardly produced
a ripple on the water.
That sounds pleasant," said Cap, pricking up his ears like a dog that
hears a distant baying; "it is the surf on the shores of your lake, I
suppose ? "
"Not so-not so," answered the Pathfinder; "it is merely this river
tumbling over some rocks, half a mile below us."
Is there a fall in the stream ? demanded Mabel, a still brighter flush
growing in her face.
"The devil! Master Pathfinder--or you, Master Eau-douce (for so Cap
began to style Jasper, by way of entering cordially into the border usages)-
had you not better give the canoe a sheer, and get nearer to the shore ?
These waterfalls have generally rapids above them, and one might as well
get into the Maelstrom at once as to run into their suction."
Trust to us-trust to us, friend Cap," answered Pathfinder; we are
but fresh water sailors, it is true, and I cannot boast of being much even
of that; but we understand rifts, and rapids, and cataracts; and, in going
down these, we shall do our endeavours not to disgrace our education."
"In going down! exclaimed Cap-" the devil, man you do not dream
of going down a water-fall in this egg-shell of bark! "
Sartain; the path lies over the falls, and it is much easier to shoot
them than to unload the canoe, and to carry that, and all it contains, around
a portage of a mile by hand."
Mabel turned her pallid countenance towards the young man in the
stern of the canoe, for just at that moment a fresh roar of the fall was
borne to her ears by a new current of the air, and it really sounded terrific,
now that the cause was understood.
We thought, that by landing the women and the two Indians," Jasper
quietly observed, "we three white-men, and all of whom are used to the
water, might carry the canoe over in safety, for we often shoot these falls."
And we counted on you, friend mariner, as a mainstay," said Pathfinder,
winking at Jasper, over his shoulder; "for you are accustomed to see
-waves tumbling about, and without some one to steady the cargo all the
finery of the sergeant's daughter might be washed into the river and be
Cap was puzzled. The idea of going over a water-fall was perhaps more
serious, in his eyes, than it would have been in those of one totally ignorant
of all that pertained to boats; for he understood the power of the element,
and the total feebleness of man when exposed to its fury. Still, his pride
revolted at the thought of deserting the boat, while others not only steadily,
but coolly, proposed to continue in it. Notwithstanding the latter feeling,
and his innate as well as acquired steadiness in danger, he would probably
have deserted his post, had not the images of Indians tearing scalps from
the human head taken so strong a hold of his fancy, as to induce him to
imagine the canoe a sort of sanctuary.
"What is to be done with Magnet?" he demanded, affection for his
niece raising another qualm in his conscience. "We cannot allow Magnet
to land if there are enemy's Indians near ? "
18 THE PATHFINDER.
"Nay-no Mingo will be near the portage, for that is a spot too pubhc
for their deviltries," answered the Pathfinder, confidently. "Natur' is
natur', and it is an Indian's natur' to be found where he is least expected.
No fear of him on a beaten path, for he wishes to come upon you when
unprepared to meet him, and the fiery villains make it a point to deceive
you one way or another. Sheer in, Eau-douce, and we will land the
sergeant's daughter on the end of that log, where she can reach the shore
with a dry foot."
The injunction was obeyed, and in a few minutes the whole party had
left the canoe, with the exception of Pathfinder and the two sailors. Not-
withstanding his professional pride, Cap would have gladly followed, but
he did not like to exhibit so unequivocal a weakness in the presence of a
"I call all hands to witness," he said, as those who had landed moved
away, that I do not look on this affair as anything more than canoeing
in the woods. There is no seamanship in tumbling over a waterfall, which
is a feat the greatest lubber can perform as well as the oldest mariner."
"Nay, nay, you needn't despise the Oswego Falls, neither," put in Path-
finder, for though they may not be Niagara, nor the Genessee, nor the
Cahoos nor Glenn's, nor those on the Canada, they are nervous enough for a
new beginner. Let the sergeant's daughter stand on yonder rock, and she will
see the manner in which we ignorant backwoodsman get over a difficulty
that we can't get under. Now, Eau-douce, a steady hand and a true eye,
for all rests on you, seeing that we can count Master Cap for no more than
The canoe was leaving the shore as he concluded, while Mabel went
hurriedly and trembling to the rock that had been pointed out, talking to
her companion of the danger her uncle so unnecessarily ran, while her
eyes were riveted on the agile and vigorous form of Eau-douce, as he stood
erect in the stern of the light boat, governing its movements. As soon,
however, as she reached a point where she got a view of the fall, she
gave an involuntary but suppressed scream, and covered her eyes. At
the next instant, the latter were again free, and the entranced girl stood
immovable as a statue, a scarcely breathing observer of all that passed.
The two Indians seated them passively on a log, hardly looking towards
the stream, while the wife of Arrowhead came near Mabel, and appeared
to watch the motions of the canoe, with some such interest as a child
regards the leaps of a tumbler.
As soon as the boat was in the stream, Pathfinder sunk on his knees,
continuing to use the paddle, though it was slowly, and in a manner not to
interfere with the efforts of his companion. The latter still stood erect,
and, as he kept his eye on some object beyond the fall, it was evident that
he was carefully looking for the spot proper for their passage.
"Farther west, boy; farther west," muttered Pathfinder: "there where
you see the water foam. Bring the top of the dead oak in a line with the
stem of the blasted hemlock."
Eau-douce made no answer, for the canoe was in the centre of the
stream, with its head pointed towards the fall, and it had already begun to
quicken its motion by the increased force of the current. At that moment
Cap would cheerfully have renounced every claim to glory that could
possibly be acquired by the feat, to have been safe again on shore. He
heard the roar of the water, thundering, as it might be, behind a screen,
THE PA THFINDER.
but becoming more and more distinct, louder and louder, and before him he
saw its line cutting the forest below, along which the green and angry element
seemed stretched and shining, as if the particles were about to lose their
principle of cohesion.
"Down with your helm-down with your helm, man! he exclaimed,
unable any longer to suppress his anxiety, as the canoe glided towards the
edge of the fall.
"Ay-y---down it is, sure enough," answered Pathfinder, looking
behind him for a single instant, with his silent, joyous laugh-" down we
go of a sartainty Heave her starn up, boy; further up with her starn "
The rest was like the passage of the viewless wind. Eau-douce gave the
required sweep with his paddle, the canoe glanced into the channel, and
for a few seconds it seemed to Cap that he was tossing in a caldron. He
felt the bow of the canoe tip, saw the raging, foaming water careering
madly by his side, was sensible that the light fabric in which he floated
was tossed about like an egg-shell, and then, not less to his great joy than
to his surprise, he discovered that it was gliding across the basin of still
water, below the fall, under the steady impulse of Jasper's paddle.
The Pathfinder continued to laugh, but he arose from his knees, and,
searching for a tin pot and a horn spoon, he began deliberately to measure
the water that had been taken into the passage.
"Fourteen spoonsful, Eau-douce; fourteen fairly-measured spoonsful.
I have, you must acknowledge, known you go over with only ten."
Master Cap leaned so hard up-stream," returned Jasper, seriously,
"that I had difficulty in trimming the canoe."
"It may be so-it may be so; no doubt it was so, since you say it; but
I have known you to go down with only ten."
Cap now gave a tremendous hem, felt for his queue, as if to ascertain its
safety, and then looked back, in order to examine the danger he had gone
through. His safety is easily explained. Most of the river fell perpen-
dicularly ten or twelve feet; but near its centre, the force of the current
had so far worn away the rock, as to permit the water to shoot through a
narrow passage, at an angle of about forty or forty-five degrees. Down
this ticklish descent the canoe had glanced, amid fragments of broken
rock, whirlpools, foam, and furious tossing of the element, which an
uninstructed eye would believe menaced inevitable destruction to an object
so fragile. But the very lightness of the canoe had favoured its descent;
for, borne on the crests of the waves, and directed by a steady eye and an
arm full of muscle, it had passed like a feather from one pile of foam to
another, scarcely permitting its glossy side to be wetted. There were a
few rocks to be avoided, the proper direction was to be rigidly observed, and
the fierce current did the rest.*
To say that Cap was astonished, would not be expressing half his feelings.
He felt awed, for the profound dread of rocks, which most seamen enter-
tain, came in aid of his admiration of the boldness of the exploit.
"Ha! Eau-douce; what is that in the river, at the lower turn yonder,
beneath the bushes-I mean standing on the rock ? "
"'Tis the Big Serpent, Pathfinder; he is making signs to us in a way I
"'Tis the Sarpent, as sure as I'm a white man, and he wishes us to drop
Lest the reader suppose we are dealing purely in fiction, the writer will add that he
has known a long thirty-two pounder carried over these same falls in perfect safety.
THE PA THFINDER.
in nearer to his shore. Mischief is brewing, or one of his deliberation and
steadiness would never take this trouble. Courage, all! we are men, and
must meet deviltry as becomes our colour and our callings. Ah I never
knew good come of boasting, and here, just as I was vaunting of our
safety, comes danger to give me the lie."
THE Oswego, below the falls, is a more rapid, unequal stream than it is
above them. There are places where the river flows in the quiet stillness
of deep water, but many shoals and rapids occur; and, at that distant day,
when everything was in its natural state, some of the passes were not alto-
gether without hazard. Very little exertion was required on the part of
those who managed the canoes, except in those places where the swiftness
of the current, and the presence of the rocks, required care; when, indeed,
not only vigilance, but great coolness, readiness, and strength of arm,
became necessary, in order to avoid the dangers. Of all this the Mohican
was aware, and he had judiciously selected a spot where the river flowed
tranquilly to intercept the canoes in order to make his communication
without hazard to those he wished to speak to.
The Pathfinder had no sooner recognised the form of his red friend,
than, with a strong sweep of his paddle, he threw the head of his own
canoe towards the shore, motioning for Jasper to follow. In a minute
both canoes were silently drifting down the stream, within reach of the
bushes that overhung the water, all observing a profound silence; some
from alarm, and others from habitual caution. As the travellers drew
nearer the Indian, he made a sign for them to stop; and then he and Path-
finder had a short but earnest conference, in the language of the Dela-
The Chief is not apt to see enemies in a dead log," observed the white-
man to his red associate; "why does he tell us to stop ?"
"Mingos are in the woods."
"That we have believed these two days: does the Chief know it ?"
The Mohican quietly held up the head of a pipe formed of stone.
It lay on a fresh trail that led towards the garrison '-?or so it was
the usage of that frontier to term a military work, whether it were occu-
pied or not.
"That may be the bowl of a pipe belonging to a soldier. Many use the
See," said the Big Serpent, again holding the thing he had found up to
the view of his friend.
The bowl of the pipe was of soapstone, and it had been carved with
great care, and with a very respectable degree of skill. In its centre was
a small Latin cross, made with an accuracy that permitted no doubt of its
That does foretell deviltry and wickedness," said the Pathfinder, who
had all the provincial horror of the holy symbol in question that then per-
vaded the country, and which became so incorporated with its prejudices, by
confounding men with things, as to have left its traces strong enough on
the moral feeling of the community to be discovered even at the present
hour; no Indian who had not been parvarted by the cunning priest of the
Canadas would dream of carving a thing like that on his pipe I'll warrant
ye the knave prays to the image every time he wishes to sarcumvent the
innocent, and work his fearful wickedness. It looks fresh, too, Chingach-
"The tobacco was burning when I found it."
That is close work, Chief-where was the trail? "
The Mohican pointed to a spot not a hundred yards distant from that
where they stood.
The matter now began to look very serious, and the two principal guides
conferred apart for several minutes, when both ascended the bank,
approached the indicated spot, and examined the trail with the utmost
care. After this investigation had lasted a quarter of an hour, the white
man returned alone, his red friend having disappeared in the forest.
The ordinary expression of the countenance of the Pathfinder was that
of simplicity, integrity, and sincerity, blended in an air of self-reliance that
usually gave great confidence to those who found themselves under his care;
but now a look of concern cast a shade over his honest face that struck the
"What cheer, Master Pathfinder? demanded Cap, permitting a voice
that was usually deep, loud, and confident, to sink into the cautious tones
that better suited the dangers of the wilderness; "has the enemy got
between us and our port ? "
"We have but one course, and that is a very nice one. We are judg-
matically placed here, both canoes being hid, by the high bank and the
bushes, from all eyes, except those of any lurker directly opposite. Here,
then, we may stay, without much present fear; but how to get the blood-
thirsty devils up the stream again? Ha !-I have it-I have it. If it
does no good, it can do no harm. Do you see the wide-top chestnut here,
Jasper, at the last turn in the river ?-on our own side of the stream, I
mean ? "
"That near the fallen pine ?"
"The very same. Take the flint and tinder box, creep along the bank,
and light a fire at that spot; maybe the smoke will draw them above us.
In the meanwhile we.will drop the canoes carefully down beyond the point
below, and find another shelter. Bushes are plentiful, and covers are
easily to be had in this region, as witness the many ambushments."
"I will do it, Pathfinder," said Jasper, springing to the shore. "In ten
minutes the fire shall be lighted."
And, Eau-douce, use plenty of damp wood this time," half-whispered
the other, laughing heartily, in his own peculiar manner-" when smoke is
wanted, water helps to thicken it."
The young man, who too well understood his duty to delay unnecessarily,
was soon off, making his way rapidly towards the desired point. A slight
attempt of Mabel object to the risk was disregarded, and the party
immediately prepared to change its position, as it could be seen from the
place where Jasper intended to light his fire. The movement did not
require haste, and it was made leisurely, and with care. The canoes were
got clear of the bushes, then suffered to drop down with the stream, until
they reached the spot where the chestnut, at the foot of which Jasper was
to light the fire, was almost shut out from view, when they stopped, and
every eye was turned in the direction of the adventurers.
22 THE PA THFINDER.
"There goes the smoke! exclaimed the Pathfinder, as a current of air
whirled a little column of the vapour from the land, allowing it to rise
spirally above the bed of the river. "A good flint, a small bit of steel,
and plenty of dry leaves, make a quick fire! I hope Eau-douce will have
the wit to bethink him of the damp wood, now, when it may serve us all a
Too much smoke-too much cunning," said Arrowhead, sententiously.
That is gospel truth, Tuscarora, if the Mingos didn't know that they
are near soldiers; but soldiers commonly think more of their dinner, at a
halt, than of their wisdom and danger. No, no; let the boy pile on his
logs, and smoke them well, too; it will all be laid to the stupidity of some
Scotch or Irish blunderer, who is thinking more of his oatmeal, or his
potatoes, than of Indian sarcumventions, or Indian rifles."
"And yet I should think, from all we have heard in the towns, that the
soldiers on this frontier are used to the artifices of their enemies," said
Mabel; and have got to be almost as wily as the red-men themselves."
Not they-not they. Experience makes them but little wiser; and
they wheel and platoon, and battalion it about, here in the forest, just as
they did in their parks at home, of which they are all so fond of talking.
One red-skin has more cunning in his natur' than a whole regiment from
the other side of the water-that is, what I call cunning of the woods.
But there is smoke enough, of all conscience, and we had better drop into
another cover. The lad has thrown the river on his fire, and there is danger
that the Mingos will believe a whole regiment is out."
While speaking the Pathfinder permitted his canoe to drift away from
the bush by which it had been retained, and in a couple of minutes the
bend in the river concealed the smoke and the tree. Fortunately, a small
indentation in the shore presented itself, within a few yards of the point
they had just passed; and the two canoes glided into it, under the im-
pulsion of the paddles.
A better spot could not have been found for the purpose of the
travellers than the one they now occupied. The bushes were thick, and
overhung the water, forming a complete canopy of leaves. There was a
small gravelly strand at the bottom of the little bay, where most of the
party landed to be more at their ease, and the only position from which
they could possibly be seen was a point on the river directly opposite.
There was little danger, however, of discovery from that quarter, as the
thicket there was even denser than common, and the land beyond it was so
wet and marshy as to render it difficult to be trodden.
"This is a safe cover," said the Pathfinder, after he had taken a
scrutinizing survey of his position; "but it may be necessary to make it
safer. Master Cap, I ask nothing of you but silence, and a quieting of
such gifts as you may have got at sea, while the Tuscarora and I make
provision for the evil hour."
The guide then went a short distance into the bushes, accompanied by
the Indian, where the two cut off the larger stems of several alders and
other bushes, using the utmost care not to make a noise. The ends of
these little trees, for such, in fact, they were, were forced into the mud
outside of the canoes, the depth of the water being very trifling; and in
the course of ten minutes a very effectual screen was interposed between
them and the principal point of danger. Much ingenuity and readiness
were manifested in making this simple arrangement, in which the two
THE PA THFINDER.
workmen were essentially favoured by the natural formation of the bank,
the indentation in the shore, the shallowness of the water, and the manner
in which the tangled bushes dipped into the stream. The Pathfinder had
the address to look for bushes that had curved stems, things easily found
in such a place; and by cutting them some distance beneath the bend,
and permitting the latter to touch the water, the artificial little thicket
had not the appearance of growing in the stream, which might have
excited suspicion; but one passing it would have thought that the bushes
shot out horizontally from the bank before they inclined upwards to-
wards the light. In short, the shelter was so cunningly devised, and so
artfully prepared, that none but an unusually distrustful eye would have
been turned for an instant towards the spot in quest of a hiding place.
This is the best cover I ever yet got into," said the Pathfinder, with
his quiet laugh, after having been on the outside to reconnoitre; "the
leaves of our new trees fairly touch those of the bushes over our heads,
and even the painter who has been in the garrison of late could not tell
which belong to Providence and which are ours. Hist!-yonder comes
Eau-douce, wading, like a sensible boy, as he is, to leave his trail in the
water; and we shall soon see whether our covert is good for anything or
Jasper had, indeed, returned from his duty above, and missing the
canoes, he at once inferred that they had dropped round the next bend in
the river in order to get out of sight of the fire. His habits of caution
immediately suggested the expediency of stepping into the water, in order
that there might exist no visible communication between the marks left on
the shore by the party and the place where he believed them to have
taken refuge below. Should the Canadian Indians return on their own
trail, and discover that made by the Pathfinder and the Serpent, in their
ascent from and descent to the river, the clue to their movements would
cease at the shore, water leaving no prints or footsteps. The young man
had, therefore, waded knee-deep as far as the point, and was now seen
making his way slowly down the margin of the stream, searching curiously
for the spot in which the canoes were hid.
In was in the power of those behind the bushes, by placing their eyes
near the leaves, to find many places to look through, while one at a little
distance lost this advantage; or, even did his sight happen to fall on
some small opening, the bank and the shadows beyond prevented him from
detecting forms and outlines of sufficient dimensions to expose the fugi-
tives. It was evident to those who watched his motions from behind their
cover, and they were all in the canoes, that Jasper was totally at a loss to
imagine where the Pathfinder had secreted himself. When fairly round
the curvature in the shore, and out of sight of the fire he had lighted
above, the young man stopped and began examining the bank deliberately,
and with great care. Occasionally he advanced eight or ten paces, and
then halted again to renew his search. The water being much shoaler
than common, he stepped aside, in order to walk with greater ease to
himself, and came so near the artificial plantation that he might have
touched it with his hand. Still he detected nothing, and was actually
passing the spot, when Pathfinder made an opening beneath the branches,
and called to him, in a low voice, to enter.
"This is pretty well," said the Pathfinder, laughing; though pale..
face eyes and red-skin eyes are as different as human spy-glasses. I would
wager, with the sergeant's daughter here, a horn of powder against a
wampum-belt for her girdle, that her father's rijiment should march by
this embankment of ours, and never find out the fraud i But, if the
Mingos actually get down into the bed of the river, where Jasper passed,
I should tremble for the plantation. It will do for their eyes, even across
the stream, however, and will not be without its use."
Don't you think, Master Pathfinder, that it would be wisest, after all,"
said Cap, "to get under way, at once, and carry sail hard down-stream,
as soon as we are satisfied these rascals are fairly astern of us ? We
seamen call a stern chase a long chase."
I wouldn't move from this spot until we hear from the Sarpent, with the
sergeant's pretty daughter here in our company for all the powder in the
magazine of the fort below Sartain captivity or sartain death would follow.
It would be a march of more than twenty miles, and that, too, of
tramping over brush and roots, and through swamps in the dark; the trail
of such a party would be wide, and we might have to fight our way into
the garrison after all. We will wait for the Mohican."
Such appearing to be the decision of him to whom all, in their present
strait, looked up for counsel, no more was said on the subject. The whole
party now broke up into groups; Arrowhead and his wife sitting apart
under the bushes, conversing in a low tone, though the man spoke sternly,
and the woman answered with the subdued mildness that marks the
degraded condition of a savage's wife. Pathfinder and Cap occupied one
canoe, chatting of their different adventures by sea and land, while Jasper
and Mabel sat in the other, making greater progress in intimacy in a single
hour than might have been effected under other circumstances in a
twelvemonth. Notwithstanding their situation as regards the enemy, the
time flew by swiftly, and the young people in particular were astonished
when Cap informed them how long they had been thus occupied.
"If one could smoke, Master Pathfinder," observed the old sailor, "this
berth would be snug enough; for, to give the devil his due, you have got
the canoes handsomely landlocked, and into moorings that would defy a
monsoon. The only hardship is the denial of the pipe."
The scent of the tobacco would betray us, and where is the use of
taking all these precautions against the Mingo's eyes if we are to tell him
where the cover is to be found through the nose ? No, no-deny your
appetites; deny your appetites, and learn one virtue from a red-skin, who
will pass a week without eating even, to get a single scalp. Did you hear
nothing, Jasper ?"
"The Serpent is coming."
"Then let us see whether Mohican eyes are better than them of a lad
who follows the water."
The Mohican had indeed made his appearance in the same direction as
that by which Jasper had rejoined his friends. Instead of coming directly
on, however, no sooner did he pass the bend, where he was concealed from
any who might be higher up stream, than he moved close under the bank,
and, using the utmost caution, got a position where he could look back,
with his person sufficiently concealed by the bushes to prevent its being
seen by any in that quarter.
"The Sarpent sees the knaves !" whispered Pathfinder-" as I'm a.
Christian white-man they have bit at the bait, and have ambushed the
THE PA THFINDER.
Here a hearty but silent laugh interrupted his words, and nudging Cap
with his elbow, they all continued to watch the movements of Chingach-
gook in profound stillness. The Mohican remained stationary as the rock
on which he stood fully ten minutes; and then it was apparent that some-
thing of interest had occurred within his view, for he drew back with a
hurried manner, looked anxiously and keenly along the margin of the
stream, and moved quickly down it, taking care to lose his trail in the
shallow water. He was evidently in a hurry and concerned, now looking
behind him, and then casting eager glances at every spot on the shore
where he thought a canoe might be concealed.
Call him in," whispered Jasper, scarce able to restrain his impatience-
"call him in, or it will be too late. See, he is actually passing us."
"Not so-not so, lad; nothing presses, depend on it," returned his
companion, or the Sarpent would begin to creep. The Lord help us and
teach us wisdom! I do believe even Chingachgook, whose sight is as
faithful as the hound's scent, overlooks us, and will not find out the
ambushment we have made "
This exultation was untimely, for the words were no sooner spoken than
the Indian, who had actually got several feet lower down the stream than
the artificial cover, suddenly stopped, fastened a keen riveted glance among
the transplanted bushes, made a few hasty steps backward, and, bending
his body and carefully separating the branches, he appeared among them.
The accursed Mingos said Pathfinder, as soon as his friend was near
enough to be addressed with prudence.
"Iroquois ;" returned the sententious Indian.
"No matter-no matter-Iroquois-devil-Mingo-Mengwes, or furies
-all are pretty much the same. I call all rascals Mingos. Come hither,
Chief, and let us converse rationally."
The two then stepped aside, and conversed earnestly in the dialect of
the Delawares. When their private communication was over, Pathfinder
rejoined the rest, and made them acquainted with all he had learned.
The Mohican had followed the trail of their enemies some distance
towards the fort, until the latter caught sight of the smoke of Jasper's
fire, when they instantly retraced their steps. It now became necessary
for Chingachgook, who ran the greatest risk of detection, to find a cover
where he could secrete himself until the party might pass. It was, per-
haps, fortunate for him that the savages were so intent on this recent
discovery, that they did not bestow the ordinary attention on the signs of
the forest. At all events, they passed him swiftly, fifteen in number,
treading lightly in each other's footsteps, and he was enabled again to get
into their rear. After proceeding to the place where the footsteps of
Pathfinder and the Mohican had joined the principal trail, the Iroquois
had struck off to the river, which they reached just as Jasper had dis-
appeared behind the bend below. The smoke being now in plain view,
the savages plunged into the woods, and endeavoured to approach the fire
unseen. Chingachgook profited by this occasion to descend to the water,
and to gain the bend in the river also, which he thought had been effected
undiscovered. Here he paused, as has been stated, until he saw his
enemies at the fire, where their stay, however, was very short.
Of the motives of the Iroquois, the Mohican could judge only by their
acts. He thought they had detected the artifice of the fire, and were aware
that it had been kindled with a view to mislead them; for, after a hasty
THE PA THFINDER.
examination of the spot, they had separated, some plunging again into the
woods, while six or eight had followed the footsteps of Jasper along the
shore, and came down the stream towards the place where the canoes had
landed. What course they might take on reaching the spot was only to be
conjectured, for the Serpent had felt the emergency to be too pressing to
delay looking for his friends any longer. From some indications that were
to be gathered from their gestures, however, he thought it probable that
their enemies might follow down in the margin of the stream, but could
not be certain.
As the Pathfinder related these facts to his companions, the professional
feelings of the two other white-men came uppermost, and both naturally
reverted to their habits in quest of the means of escape.
Let us run out the canoes at once," said Jasper, eagerly; the current
is strong, and by using the paddles vigorously we shall soon be beyond the
reach of these scoundrels "
And this poor flower, that first blossomed in the clearing-shall it
wither in the forest? objected his friend with a poetry that he had un-
consciously imbibed by his long association with the Delawares.
"We must all die first," answered the youth, a generous colour mount-
ing to his temples; VMabel and Arrowhead's wife may lie down in the
canoes, while we do our duty like men on our feet."
Ay, you are active at the paddle and the oar, Eau-douce, I will allow,
but an accursed Mingo is more active at his mischief; the canoes are swift,
but a rifle-bullet is swifter."
"It is the business of men, engaged as we have been, by a confiding
father, to run this risk- "
"But it is not their business to overlook prudence."
"Prudence! a man may carry his prudence so far as to forget his
The group was standing on the narrow strand, the Pathfinder leaning
on his rifle, the butt of which rested on the gravelly beach, while both his
hands clasped the barrel, at the height of his own shoulders. As Jasper
threw out this severe and unmerited imputation, the deep red of his com-
rade's face maintained its hue unchanged, though the young man per-
ceived that the fingers grasped the iron of the gun with the tenacity of a
vice. Here all betrayal of emotion ceased.
You are young and hot-headed," returned Pathfinder, with a dignity
that impressed his listener with a keen sense of his moral superiority;
" but my life has been passed among dangers of this sort, and my experience
and gifts are not to be mastered by the impatience of a boy. As for
courage, Jasper, I will not send back an angry and unmeaning word, to
meet an angry and unmeaning word, for I know that you are true, in
your station and according to your knowledge; but take the advice of one
who faced the Mingos when you were a child, and know that their cunning
is easier sarcumvented by prudence, than outwitted by foolishness."
"I ask your pardon, Pathfinder," said the repentant Jasper, eagerly
grasping the hand that the other permitted him to seize; "I ask your
pardon, humbly and sincerely. 'Twas a foolish as well as a wicked thing
to hint of a man whose heart, in a good cause, is known to be as firm as
the rocks on the lake shore."
For the first time the colour deepened on the cheek of the Pathfinder,
and the solemn dignity that he had assumed under a purely natural im-
THE PATHFINDER. 27
pulse, disappeared in the expression of the earnest simplicity that was
inherent in all his feelings. He met the grasp of his young friend with a
squeeze as cordial as if no chord had jarred between them, and a slight
sternness that had gathered about his eye disappeared in a look of natural
"'Tis well, Jasper, 'tis well," he answered, laughing; "I bear no ill-will,
nor shall any one in my behalf. My natur' is that of a white-man, and
that is to bear no malice. It might have been ticklish work to have said
half as much to the Sarpent here, though he is a Delaware-for colour will
have its way- "
A touch on his shoulder caused the speaker to cease. Mabel was stand-
ing erect in the canoe, her light but swelling form bent forward in an
attitude of graceful earnestness, her finger on her lips, her head averted,
the spirited eyes riveted on an opening in the bushes, and one arm ex-
tended with a fishing-rod, the end of which had touched the Pathfinder.
The latter bowed his head to a level with a look-out, near which he had
intentionally kept himself, and then whispered to Jasper,-
The accursed Mingos Stand to your arms, my men, but lie quiet as
the corpses of dead trees !"
Jasper advanced rapidly but noiselessly to the canoe, and with a gentle
violence induced Mabel to place herself in such an attitude as concealed
her entire body, though it would have probably exceeded his means to
induce the girl so far to lower her head that she could not keep her gaze
fastened on their enemies. He then took his own post near her, with his
rifle cocked and poised, in readiness to fire. Arrowhead and Chingachgook
crawled to the cover, and lay in wait like snakes, with their arms prepared
for service, while the wife of the former bowed her head between her knees,
covered it with her calico robe, and remained passive and immovable. Cap
loosened both his pistols in their belt, but seemed quite at a loss what
,course to pursue. The Pathfinder did not stir. He had originally got a
position where he might aim with deadly effect through the leaves, and
where he could watch the movements of his enemies; and he was far too
steady to be disconcerted at a moment so critical.
It was truly an alarming instant. Just as Mabel touched the shoulder
-of her guide, three of the Iroquois had appeared in the water, at the bend
-of the river, within a hundred yards of the cover, and halted to examine
the stream below. They were all naked to the waist, armed for an ex-
pedition against their foes, and in their war-paint. It was apparent that
they were undecided as to the course they ought to pursue, in order to find
the fugitives. One pointed down the river, a second up the stream, and
a third towards the opposite bank. They evidently doubted.
IT was a breathless moment. The only clue the fugitives possessed to
the intentions of their pursuers was in their gestures, and the indications
that escaped them in the fury of disappointment. That a party had re-
turned already on their own footsteps, by land, was pretty certain; and all
the benefit expected from the artifice of the fire was necessarily lost. But
that consideration became of little moment, just then, for the party was
28 THE PATHFINDER.
menaced with an immediate discovery by those who had kept on a level
with the river. All the facts presented themselves clearly, and as it might
be, by intuition, to the mind of Pathfinder, who perceived the necessity of
immediate decision, and of being in readiness to act in concert. Without
making any noise, therefore, he managed to get the two Indians and Jasper
near him, when he opened his communications in a whisper.
"We must be ready-we must be ready," he said. "There are but.
three of the scalping devils, and we are five, four of whom may be set
down as manful warriors for such a scrimmage. Eau-douce, do you take
the fellow that is painted like death; Chingackgook, I give you the chief;
and Arrowhead must keep his eye on the young one. There must be no
mistake; for two bullets in the same body would be sinful waste, with one
like the sergeant's daughter in danger. I shall hold myself in reserve
against accident, lest a fourth reptyle appear, for one of your hands may
prove unsteady. By no means fire until I give the word; we must not let
the crack of the rifle be heard except in the last resort, since all the rest of
the miscreants are still within hearing. Jasper, boy, in case of any move-
ment behind us, on the bank, I trust to you to run out the canoe, with
the sergeant's daughter, and to pull for the garrison by God's leave."
The Pathfinder had no sooner given these directions than the near
approach of their enemies rendered profound silence necessary. The
Iroquois in the river were slowly descending the stream, keeping of neces-
sity near the bushes that overhung the water, while the rustling of leaves
and the snapping of twigs soon gave fearful evidence that another party
was moving along the bank at an equally graduated pace, and directly
abreast of them. In consequence of the distance between the bushes.
planted by the fugitives and the true shore, the two parties became visible
to each other, when opposite that precise spot. Both stopped, and a con-
versation ensued that may be said to have passed directly over the heads
of those who were concealed. Indeed, nothing sheltered the travellers but
the branches and leaves of plants so pliant that they yielded to every
current of air, and which a puff of wind, a little stronger than common,
would have blown away. Fortunately the line of sight carried the eyes of
the two parties of savages, whether they stood in the water or on the land,
above the bushes; and the leaves appeared blended in a way to excite no-
suspicion. Perhaps the very boldness of the expedient alone prevented an
immediate exposure. The conversation that took place was conducted
earnestly, but in guarded tones, as if those who spoke wished to defeat the
intentions of any listeners. It was in a dialect that both the Indian
warriors beneath, as well as the Pathfinder, understood. Even Jasper
comprehended a portion of what was said.
The trail is washed away by the water !" said one from below, who,
stood so near the artificial cover of the fugitives, that he might have been
struck by the salmon-spear that lay in the bottom of Jasper's canoe.
"Water has washed it so clear, that Yengeese hound could not follow."
"The pale-faces have left the shore in their canoes," answered the-
speaker on the bank.
"It cannot be. The rifles of our warriors below are certain."
The Pathfinder gave a significant glance at Jasper, and he clenched his
teeth in order to suppress the sound of his own breathing.
Let my young men look as if their eyes were eagles'," said the eldest-
warrior among those who were wading in the river. We have been a
THE PA THFINDER. 29
whole moon on the war-path, and have found but one scalp. There is a
maiden among them, and some of our braves want wives."
Happily these words were lost on Mabel, but Jasper's frown became
deeper, and his face fiercely flushed.
The savages now ceased speaking, and the party that was concealed heard
the slow and guarded movements of those who were on the bank, as they
pushed the bushes aside in their wary progress. It was soon evident that
the latter had passed the cover; but the group in the water still remained,
scanning the shore, with eyes that glared through their war-paint like coals
of living fire. After a pause of two or three minutes, these three began
also to descend the stream, though it was step by step, as men move who
look for an object that has been lost. In this manner they passed the
artificial screen, and Pathfinder opened his mouth, in that hearty but
noiseless laugh that nature and habit had contributed to render a peculi-
arity of the man. His triumph, however, was premature; for the last of
the retiring party, just at this moment casting a look behind him, suddenly
stopped; and his fixed attitude and steady gaze at once betrayed the
appalling fact that some neglected bush had awakened his suspicions.
It was, perhaps, fortunate for the concealed, that the warrior who mani-
fested these fearful signs of distrust was young, and had still a reputation
to acquire. He knew the importance of discretion and modesty in one of
his years, and most of all did he dread the ridicule and contempt that
would certainly follow a false alarm. Without recalling any of his com-
panions, therefore, he turned on his own footsteps, and while the others
continued to descend the river, he cautiously approached the bushes, on
which his looks were still fastened, as by a charm. Some of the leaves
which were exposed to the sun had drooped a little, and this slight
departure from the usual natural laws had caught the quick eye of the
Indian; for so practised and acute do the senses of the savage become,
more especially when he is on the war-path, that trifles apparently of the
most insignificant sort, often prove to be clues to lead him to his object.
The trifling nature of the change which had aroused the suspicion of
this youth, was an additional motive for not acquainting his companions
with his discovery. Should he really detect anything, the glory would be
the greater for being unshared; and should he not, he might hope to escape
that derision which the young Indian so much dreads. Then there were
the dangers of an ambush and a surprise, to which every warrior of the
woods is keenly alive, to render his approach slow and cautious. In con-
sequence of the delay that proceeded from these combined causes, the two
parties had descended some fifty or sixty yards before the young savage
was again near enough to the bushes of Pathfinder to touch them with his
Notwithstanding their critical situation, the whole party behind the
cover had their eyes fastened on the working countenance of the young
Iroquois, who was agitated by conflicting feelings. First came the eager
hope of obtaining success, where some of the most experienced of his tribe
had failed, and with it a degree of glory that had seldom fallen to the
share of one of his years, or a brave on his first war-path; then followed
doubts, as the drooping leaves seemed to rise again, and to revive in the
currents of air; and distrust of hidden danger lent its exciting feeling to
keep the eloquent features in play. So very slight, however, had been the
alteration produced by the heat on bushes of which the stems were in the
THE PA THFINDER.
water, that when the Iroquois actually laid his hand on the leaves, he
fancied that he had been deceived. As no man ever distrusts strongly,
without using all convenient means of satisfying his doubts, however, the
young warrior cautiously pushed aside the branches, and advanced a step
within the hiding-place, when the forms of the concealed party met his
gaze, resembling so many breathless statues. The low exclamation, the
slight start, and the glaring eye, were hardly seen and heard, before the
arm of Chingachgook was raised, and the tomahawk of the Delaware
descended on the shaven head of his foe. The Iroquois raised his hands
frantically, bounded backward, and fell into the water, at a spot where the
current swept the body away, the struggling limbs still tossing and writhing
in the agony of death. The Delaware made a vigorous but unsuccessful
attempt to seize an arm, with the hope of securing the scalp; but the
whirled down the cur-
rent, carrying with
So them their quivering
aAll this passed in
p so less than a minute;
Sand the events were
e- so sudden and unex-
.i t pected, that men less
o accustomed than the
Pathfinder and his as-
sociates to forest war-
fare, would have been
at a loss how to act.
"There is not a
moment to lose," said
Jasper, tearing aside
the bushes as he spoke
earnestly, but in a
suppressed v oice.
o,!, Do as I do, Master
Cap, if you would
save your niece; and
--. .. you, Mabel, lie at your
length in the canoe."
The words were scarcely uttered, when, seizing the bow of the light boat,
he dragged it along the shore, wading himself while Cap aided behind,
keeping so near the bank as to avoid being seen by the savages below, and
striving to gain the turn in the river above him, which would effectually
conceal the party from the enemy. The Pathfinder's canoe lay nearest to
the bank, and it was necessarily the last to quit the shore. The Delaware
leaped on the narrow strand, and plunged into the forest, it being his
assigned duty to watch the foe in that quarter, while Arrowhead motioned
to his white companion to seize the bow of the boat, and to follow Jasper.
All this was the work of an instant. But when the Pathfinder reached the
current that was sweeping round the turn, he felt a sudden change in the
weight he was dragging, and looking back he found that both the Tuscarora
and his wife had deserted him. The thought of treachery flashed upon
THE PATHFINDER. 31
his mind, but there was no time to pause, for the wailing shout that arose
from the party below proclaimed that the body of the young Iroquois had
floated as low as the spot reached by his friends. The report of a rifle
followed; and then the guide saw that Jasper, having doubled the bend in
the river, was crossing the stream, standing erect in the stern of the canoe,
while Cap was seated forward, both propelling the light boat with vigorous
strokes of the paddles. A glance, a thought, and an expedient followed
each other quickly in one so trained in the vicissitudes of the frontier war-
fare. Springing into the stern of his own canoe, he urged it by a vigorous
shove into the current, and commenced crossing the stream himself, at a
point so much lower than that of his companions, as to offer his own person
for a target to the enemy, well knowing that their keen desire to secure a
scalp would control all other feelings.
Keep well up the current, Jasper," shouted the gallant guide, as he
swept the water with long, steady, vigorous strokes of the paddle-" keep
well up the current, and pull for the alder bushes opposite. Presarve the
sergeant's daughter, before all things, and leave these Mingo knaves to
the Sarpent and me."
Jasper flourished his paddle, as a signal of understanding, while shot
succeeded shot in quick succession, all now being aimed at the solitary
man in the nearest canoe.
Ay, empty your rifles, like simpletons, as you are," said the Path-
finder, who had acquired a habit of speaking when alone, from passing so
much of his time in the solitude of the forest; empty your rifles with an
unsteady aim, and give me time to put yard upon yard of river between
us. I will not revile you, like a Delaware, or a Mohican, for my gifts are
a white-man's gifts, and not an Indian's, and boasting in battle is no part
of a Christian warrior; but I may say, here, all alone by myself, that you
are little better than so many men from the town, shooting at robins in
the orchards! That was well meant," throwing back his head as a rifle-
bullet cut a lock of hair from his temple-" but the lead that misses by an
inch, is as useless as the lead that never quits the barrel. Bravely done,
Jasper the sergeant's sweet child must be saved, even if we go in without
our own scalps."
By this time the Pathfinder was in the centre of the river, and almost
abreast of his enemies, while the other canoe, impelled by the vigorous
arms of Cap and Jasper, had nearly gained the opposite shore at the pre-
cise spot that had been pointed out to them. The old mariner now played
his part manfully; for he was on his proper element, loved his niece
sincerely, had a proper regard for his own person, and was not unused to.
fire, though his experience certainly lay in a very different species of war-
fare. A few strokes of the paddles were given, and the canoe shot into
the bushes, Mabel was hurried to land by Jasper, and, for the present, all
three of the fugitives were safe.
Not so with the Pathfinder. His hardy self-devotion had brought him
into a situation of unusual exposure, the hazards of which were much
increased by the fact that just as he drifted nearest to the enemy, the
party on the shore rushed down the bank, and joined their friends who
still stood in the water. The Oswego was about a cable's length in width
at this point, and the canoe being in the centre, the object was only a,
hundred yards from the rifles, that were constantly discharged at it; or,
at the usual target distance for that weapon.
THE PA THFINDER.
In this extremity the steadiness and skill of the Pathfinder did him
good service. He knew that his safety depended altogether on keeping in
motion; for a stationary object, at that distance, would have been hit
nearly every shot. Nor was motion of itself sufficient; for, accustomed
to kill the bounding deer, his enemies probably knew how to vary the line
of aim so as to strike him, should he continue to move in any one direc-
tion. He was consequently compelled to change the course of the canoe,
at one moment shooting down with the current, with the swiftness of an
arrow, and at the next checking its progress in that direction, to glance
athwart the stream. Luckily the Iroquois could not reload their pieces in
the water, and the bushes that everywhere fringed the shore rendered it
difficult to keep the fugitive in view when on the land. Aided by these
circumstances, and having received the fire of all his foes, the Pathfinder
was gaining fast in distance, both downwards and across the current,
when a new danger suddenly, if not unexpectedly, presented itself, by the
appearance of the party that had been left in ambush below, with a view
to watch the river.
These were the savages alluded to in the short dialogue that has been
already related. They were no fewer than ten in number, and understand-
ing all the advantages of their bloody occupation, they had posted them-
selves at a spot where the water dashed among rocks and other shallows, in a
way to form a rapid, which, in the language of the country, is called a
rift. The Pathfinder saw that if he entered this rift, he should be com-
pelled to approach a point where the Iroquois had posted themselves, for
the current was irresistible, and the rocks allowed no other safe passage,
while death or captivity would be the probable result of the attempt. All
his efforts, therefore, were turned towards reaching the western shore, the
foe being all on the eastern side of the river. But the exploit surpassed
human power, and to attempt to stem the stream would at once have so
far diminished the motion of the canoe as to render aim certain. In this
exigency the guide came to a decision with his usual cool promptitude,
making his preparations accordingly. Instead of endeavouring to gain
the channel, he steered towards the shallowest part of the stream, on
reaching which he seized his rifle and pack, leaped into the water, and
began to wade from rock to rock, taking the direction of the western
shore. The canoe whirled about in the furious current, now rolling over
some slippery stone, now filling and then emptying itself, until it lodged
.on the shore, within a few yards of the spot where the Iroquois had posted
In the meanwhile the Pathfinder was far from being out of danger: for
the first minute, admiration of his promptitude and daring, which are such
high virtues in the mind of an Indian, kept his enemies motionless ; but
the desire of revenge, and the cravings for the much-prized trophy, soon
.overcame this transient feeling, and aroused them from their stupor.
Rifle flashed after rifle, and the bullets whistled around the head of the
fugitive, amid the roar of the waters. Still he proceeded like one who
bore a charmed life, for while his rude frontier garments were more than
.once cut, his skin was not grazed.
As the Pathfinder, in several instances, was compelled to wade in water
.that rose nearly to his arms, while he kept his rifle and ammunition ele-
vated above the raging current, the toil soon fatigued him, and he was
,glad to stop at a large stone, or a small rock, which rose so high above the
river, that its upper surface was dry. On this stone he placed his powder-
horn, getting behind it himself, so as to have the advantage of a partial
cover for his body. The western shore was only fifty feet distant, but the
quiet, swift, dark current that glanced through the interval, sufficiently
showed that here he would be compelled to swim.
A short cessation in the firing now took place on the part of the
Indians, who gathered about the canoe, and, having found the paddles,
were preparing to cross the river.
"Pathfinder," called a voice from among the bushes, at the point
nearest to the person addressed, on the western shore.
What would you have, Jasper ? "
"Be of good heart-friends are at hand, and not a single Mingo shall
cross without suffering for his boldness. Had you not better leave the'
rifle on the rock, and swim to us before the rascals can get afloat ? "
"A true woodsman never quits his piece, while he has any powder in his
horn, or a bullet in his pouch. I have not drawn a trigger this day, Eau-
douce, and shouldn't relish the idea of parting with those reptyles without
causing them to remember my name. A little water will not harm my
legs; and I see that blackguard, Arrowhead, among the scamps, and wish
to send him the wages he has so faithfully earned. You have not brought
the sergeant's daughter down here in a range with their bullets, I hope,
Jasper ? "
She is safe, for the present at least; though all depends on our keep-
ing the river between us and the enemy. They must know our weakness,
now; and should they cross, no doubt some of their party will be left on
the other side."
This canoeing touches your gifts rather than mine, boy, though I will
handle a paddle with the best Mingo that ever struck a salmon. If they
cross below the rift, why can't we cross in the still water above, and keep
playing at dodge and turn with the wolves? "
"Because, as I have said, they will leave a party on the other shore-
and then, Pathfinder, would you expose Mabel to the rifles of the Iroquois ? "
"The sergeant's daughter must be saved," returned the guide, with
calm energy. "You are right, Jasper; she has no gift to authorize her in
offering her sweet face and tender body to a Mingo rifle. What can be
done, then ? They must be kept from crossing for an hour or two, if
possible, when we must do our best in the darkness."
"I agree with you, Pathfinder, if it can be effected; but are we strong
enough for such a purpose ? "
The Lord is with us, boy-the Lord is with us; and it is unreasonable
to suppose that one like the sergeant's daughter will be altogether aban-
doned by Providence, in such a strait. There is not a boat between the
falls and the garrison, except these two canoes, to my sartain knowledge;
and I think it will go beyond red-skin gifts to cross in the face of two
rifles, like these of yourn and mine. I will not vaunt, Jasper, but it is
well known on all this frontier that Killdeer seldom fails."
Your skill is admitted by all, far and near, Pathfinder; but a rifle
takes time to be loaded; nor are you on the land, aided by a good cover,
where you can work to the advantage you are used to. If you had our
canoe, might you not pass to the shore with a dry rifle ? "
Can an eagle fly, Jasper? returned the other, laughing, in his usual
manner, and looking back as he spoke. "But it would be unwise to
34 THE PA THFINDER.
expose yourself on the water, for them miscreants are beginning to bethink
them again of powder and bullets."
"It can be done without any such chances. Master Cap has gone up to
the canoe, and will cast the branch of a tree into the river to try the
current, which sets from the point above in the direction of your rock.
See, there it comes already; if it float fairly, you must raise your arm,
when the canoe will follow. At all events, if the boat should pass you,
the eddy below will bring it up, and I can recover it."
While Jasper was still speaking, the floating branch came in sight, and
quickening its progress with the increasing velocity of the current, it
swept swiftly down towards the Pathfinder, who seized it as it was pass-
ing, and. held it in the air, as a sign of success. Cap understood the
signal, and presently the canoe was launched into the stream, with a
caution and intelligence that the habits of the mariner had fitted him to
observe. It floated in the same direction as the branch, and in a minute
was arrested by the Pathfinder.
This has been done with a frontier man's judgment, Jasper," said the
guide, laughing; "but you have your gifts, which incline most to the
water, as mine incline to the woods. Now, let them Mingo knaves cock
their rifles and get rests, for this is the last chance they are likely to have
at a man without a cover."
Nay, shove the canoe towards the shore, quartering the current, and
throw yourself into it as it goes off," said Jasper, eagerly. "There is little
use in running any risk."
I love to stund up face to face with my enemies like a man, while they
set me the example," returned the Pathfinder, proudly. "I am not a red-
skin born, and it is more a white-man's gifts to fight openly, than to lie
And Mabel ? "
True, boy, true-the sergeant's daughter must be saved; and, as you
say, foolish risks only becomes boys. Think you that you can catch the
canoe where you stand ? "
There can be no doubt, if you give a vigorous push,"
Pathfinder made the necessary effort, the light bark shot across the
intervening space, and Jasper seized it as it came to land. To secure
the canoe, and to take proper positions in the cover, occupied the friends
but a moment, when they shook hands cordially, like those who had met
after a long separation.
Now, Jasper, we shall see if a Mingo of them all dare cross the
Oswego in the teeth of Killdeer You are handier with the oar, and the
paddle, and the sail, than with the rifle, perhaps; but you have a stout
heart and a steady hand, and them are things that count in a fight."
Mabel will find me between her and her enemies," said Jasper, calmly.
"Yes, yes, the sergeant's daughter must be protected. I like you, boy,
on your own account, but I like you all the better that you think of one so
feeble, at a moment when there is need of all your manhood. See, Jasper:
three of the knaves are actually getting into the canoe! They must
believe we have fled, or they would not venture so much, directly in the
very face of Kildeer "
Sure enough, the Iroquois did appear bent on venturing across the
stream, for, as the Pathfinder and his friend now kept their persons
strictly concealed, their enemies began to think that the latter had taken
THE PA THFINDER.
to flight. Such a course as that which most white-men would have
followed; but Mabel was under the care of those who were much too well
skilled in forest warfare, to neglect to defend the only pass, that, in truth,
now offered even a probable chance of protection.
As the Pathfinder had said, three warriors were in the canoe, two hold-
ing their rifles at a poise, as they knelt in readiness to aim the deadly
weapons, and the other standing erect in the stern to wield the paddle. In
This manner they left the shore, having had the precaution to haul the
canoe, previous to entering it, so far up the stream, as to have got into
the comparatively still water above the rift. It was apparent, at a glance,
that the savage who guided the boat was skilled in the art, for the long
steady sweep of his paddle sent the light bark over the glossy surface of
the tranquil river, as if it were a feather floating in air.
"Shall I fire? demanded Jasper, in a whisper, trembling with eager-
ness to engage.
Not yet, boy, not yet. There are but three of them, and if Master
Cap, yonder, knows how to use the pop-guns he carries in his belt, we
Smay even let them land, and then we shall recover the canoe."
But Mabel ?- "
"No fear for the sergeant's daughter. She is safe, in the hollow stump,
you say, with the opening judgmatically hid by the brambles. If what you
tell me of the manner in which you concealed the trail be true, the sweet-one
might lie there, a month, and laugh at the Mingos."
We are never certain-I wish we had brought her nearer to our own
: cover "
"What for, Eau-douce ?-to place her pretty little head and leaping
heart among flying bullets. No-no-she is better where she is, because
she is safer."
We are never certain. We thought ourselves safe behind the bushes,
.and yet you saw that we were discovered."
"And the Mingo imp paid for his curiosity, as these knaves are about
The Pathfinder ceased speaking, for at that instant, the sharp report
of a rifle wys heard, when the Indian in the stern of the canoe leaped high
into the air, and fell into the water, holding the paddle in his hand. A
:small wreath of smoke floated out from among the bushes of the eastern
shore, and was soon absorbed by the atmosphere.
S "That is the Sarpent hissing !" exclaimed the Pathfinder, exultingly.
A bolder or a truer heart never beat in the breast of a Delaware. I am
sorry that he interfered, but he could not have known our condition-he
could not have known our condition."
The canoe no sooner lost its guide, than it floated with the stream, and
was soon sucked into the rapids of the rift. Perfectly helpless, the two
remaining savages gazed wildly about them, but could offer no resist-
ance to the power of the element. It was, perhaps, fortunate for Chin-
gachgook that the attention of most of the Iroquois was intently given
to the situation of those in the boat, else would his escape have been,
1 to the last degree, difficult, if not totally impracticable. But not a foe
,i moved, except to conceal his person behind some cover, and every eye was
f rivetted on the two remaining adventurers. In less time than has been
necessary to record these occurences, the canoe was whirling and tossing in
-the rift, while both the savages had stretched themselves in its bottom, as
36 THE PA THFINDER.
the only means of preserving the equilibrium. This natural expedient
soon failed them, for, striking a rock, the light craft rolled over, and the
two warriors were thrown into the river. The water is seldom deep on a
rift, except in particular places, where it may have worn channels, and
there was little to be apprehended from drowning, though their arms were
lost and the two savages were fain to make the best of their way to the
friendly shore, swimming and wading as circumstances required. The
canoe itself lodged on a rock, in the centre of the stream, where for the
moment it became useless to both parties.
Now is our time, Pathfinder," cried Jasper, as the two Iroquois ex-
posed most of their persons while wading in the shallowest part of the
rapids- the fellow up-stream is mine, and you can take the lower."
So excited had the young man become by all the incidents of the
stirring scene, that the bullet sped from his rifle as he spoke, but uselessly,
as it would seem, for both the fugitives tossed their arms in disdain. The
Pathfinder did not fire.
No-no-Eau-douce," he answered- "I do not seek blood without a
cause, and my bullet is well leathered and carefully driven down, for the
time of need. I love no Mingo, as is just, seeing how much I have con-
sorted with the Delawares, who are their mortal and natural enemies; but
I never pull trigger on one of the miscreants, unless it be plain that his
death will lead to some good end. The deer never leaped that fell by my
hand wantonly. By living much alone with God in the wilderness, a man
gets to feel the justice of such opinions. One life is sufficient for our
present wants, and there may yet be occasion to use Killdeer in behalf of
the Sarpent, who has done an untimersome thing to let them rampant
devils so plainly know that he is in their neighbourhood. As I'm a wicked
sinner, there is one of them prowling along the bank, this very moment,
like one of the boys of the garrison skulking behind a fallen tree, to get a
shot at a squirrel !"
As the Pathfinder pointed with his finger while speaking, the quick eye.
of Jasper soon caught the object towards which it was directed. One of
the young warriors of the enemy, burning with a desire to distinguish
himself, had stolen from his party towards the cover in which Chin-
gachgook had concealed himself; and as the latter was deceived by the.
apparent apathy of his foes, as well as engaged in some further pre-
parations of his own, he had evidently obtained a position where he got a
sight of the Delaware. This circumstance was apparent by the arrange-
ments the Iroquois was making to fire, for Chingachgook himself was not
visible from the western side of the river. The rift was at a bend in the
Oswego, and the sweep of the eastern shore formed a curve so wide that
Chingachgook was quite near to his enemies in a straight direction, though
separated by several hundred feet on the land, owing to which fact, air
lines brought both parties nearly equidistant from the Pathfinder and
Jasper. The general width of the river being a little less than two hundred
yards, such necessarily was about the distance between his two observers
and the skulking Iroquois.
The Sarpent must be thereabouts," observed Pathfinder, who never-
turned his eye for an instant from the young warrior: "and yet he must
be strangely off his guard to allow a Mingo devil to get his stand so near,.
with manifest signs of bloodshed in his heart."
See," interrupted Jasper- there is the body of the Indian the.
THE PATHFINDER. 37
Delaware shot! it has drifted on a rock, and the current has forced the
head and face above the water."
Quite likely, boy; quite likely. Human natur' is little better than a
log of drift-wood, when the life that was breathed into its nostrils has
departed. That Iroquois will never harm any one more; but yonder
skulking savage is bent on taking the scalp of my best and most tried
The Pathfinder suddenly interrupted himself by raising his rifle, a
weapon of unusual length, with admirable precision, and firing the instant
it had got its level. The Iroqrois on the opposite shore was in the act of
aiming when the fatal messenger from Killdeer arrived. His rifle was
discharged, it is true, but it was with the muzzle in the air, while the man
himself plunged into the bushes, quite evidently hurt, if not slain.
"The skulking reptyle brought it on himself," muttered Pathfinder,
sternly, as dropping the breach of his rifle, he carefully commenced re-
loading it. Chingachgook and I have consorted together since we were
boys, and have fou't in company, on the Horican, the Mohawk, the Ontario,
and all the other bloody passes between the country of the Frenchers and
our own; and did the foolish knave believe that I would stand by and see
my best friend cut off in an ambushment ? "
We have served the Serpent as good a turn as he served us. Those
rascals are troubled, Pathfinder, and are falling back into their covers,
since they find we can reach them across the river."
The shot is no great matter, Jasper-no great matter. Ask any of the
60th, and they can tell you what Killdeer can do, and has done, and that
too, when the bullets were flying about our heads like hailstones. No-
no-this is no great matter, and the unthoughtful vagabond drew it down
Is that a dog, or a deer swimming towards this shore ? "
Pathfinder started, for sure enough, an object was crossing the stream,
above the rift, towards which, however, it was gradually setting by the
force of the current. A second look satisfied both the observers that it
was a man, and an Indian, though so concealed as, at first, to render
it doubtful. Some stratagem was apprehended, and the closest attention
was given to the movements of the stranger.
He is pushing something before him, as he swims, and his head resembles
a drifting bush! said Jasper.
"'Tis Indian deviltry, boy; but Christian honesty shall sarcumvent their
As the man slowly approached the observers began to doubt the accuracy
of their first impressions, and it was only when two-thirds of the stream
was passed that the truth was really known. "The big Sarpent, as I live "
exclaimed Pathfinder, looking at his companion, and laughing until the
tears came into his eyes, with pure delight at the success of the artifice.
,'He has tied bushes to his head, so as to hide it, put the horn on top,
lashed the rifle to that bit of log he is pushing before him, and has come
over to join his friends. Ahs me! The times and times that he and I have
cut such pranks, right in the teeth of Mingos raging for our blood, in the
great thoroughfare round and about Ty "
It may not be the Serpent, after all, Pathfinder-I can see no feature
that I remember."
Feature Who looks for features in an Indian ?-No-no-boy ; 'tis the
38 THE PA THFINDER.
paint that speaks-and none but a Delaware would wear that paint. Them
are his colours, Jasper, just as your craft on the lake wears St. George's
Cross and the Frenchers set their table-cloths to fluttering in the wind,
with all the stains of fish-bones and venison steaks upon them. Now, you
see the eye, lad, and it is the eye of a chief. But, Eau-douce, fierce as it
is in battle, and glassy as it looks from among the leaves"-here the Path-
finder laid his finger lightly but impressively on his companion's arm,-" I
have seen it shed tears like rain. There is a soul and a heart under that
red-skin, rely on it! although they are a soul and a heart with gifts
different from our own."
"No one, who is acquainted with the chief, ever doubted that."
I know it," returned the other proudly, for I have consorted with him
in sorrow, in joy; in one I have found him a man, and however stricken;
in the other, a chief who knows that the women of his tribe are the most
seemly in light merriment. But Hist! It is too much like the people of
the settlements to pour soft speeches into another's ear: and the Sarpent
has keen senses. He knows I love him, and that I speak well of him
behind his back; but a Delaware has modesty in his inmost natur', though
he will brag like a sinner when tied to a stake."
The Serpent now reached the shore, directly in the front of his two
comrades, with whose precise position he must have been acquainted, before
leaving the eastern side of the river, and rising from the water he shook
himself like a dog, and made the usual exclamation.-
As the chief landed he was met by the Pathfinder, who addressed him
in the language of the warrior's people.
"Was it well done, Chingachgook," he said reproachfully, "to ambush a
dozen Mingos, alone Killdeer seldom fails me, it is true; but the Oswego
makes a distant mark, and that miscreant showed little more than his head
and shoulders above the bushes, and an onpractiysed hand and eye might
have failed. You should have thought of this, chief; you should have
thought of this "
"The Great Serpent is a Mohican warrior-he sees only his enemies
when he is on the war-path, and his fathers have struck the Mingos from
behind since the waters began to run "
"I know your gifts-I know your gifts, and respect them, too. No man
shall hear me complain that a red-skin observes red-skin natur', but prudence
as much becomes a warrior as valour; and had not the Iroquois devils been
looking after their friends who were in the water, a hot trail they would
have made of yourn!"
What is the Delaware about to do ?" exclaimed Jasper, who observed
at that moment, that the chief had suddenly left the Pathfinder, and
advanced to the water's edge, apparently with the intention of again entering
the river. He will not be so mad as to return to the other shore for any
rifle he may have forgotten ? "
Not he-not he; he is as prudent as he is brave, in the main, though so
forgetful of himself in the late ambushment. Harkee, Jasper," leading the
other a little aside, just as they heard the Indian's plunge into the water-
"harkee lad; Chingachgook is not a Christian white-man like ourselves, buta
Mohican chief, who has his gifts and traditions to tell him what he ought to
do ; and he who consorts with them that are not strictly and altogether of
his own kind, had better leave natur' and use to govern his comrade. A king's
soldier will swear, andhe will drink, and itis of little use to try to prevent
him; a gentleman likes his delicacies, and a lady her feathers and it does
not avail much to struggle against either, whereas an Indian's nature and
gifts are much stronger than these, and no doubt were bestowed by the
Lord for wise ends, though neither you nor me can follow them in all their
What does this mean ?-See, the Delaware is swimming towards the
body that is lodged on the rock. Why does he risk this ? "
For honour, and glory, and renown, as great gentlemen quit their quiet
homes, beyond seas, where, as they tell me, heart has nothing left to wish
for; that is, such as can be satisfied in a clearing, to hearts come hither to
live on game and fight the Frenchers."
I understand you-your friend has gone to secure the scalp."
"'Tis his gift, and let him enjoy it. We are white-men and cannot
mangle a dead enemy, but it is honour in the eyes of a red-skin to do so.
It may seem singular to you, Eau-douce, but I've known white-men of
great name and character manifest as remarkable ideas concerning their
honour, I have."
"A savage will be a savage, Pathfinder, let him keep what company he
It is well for us to say so, lad; but, as I tell you, white honour will
not always conform to reason, or to the will of God. I have passed days
thinking of these matters, out in the silent woods, and I have come to the
opinion, boy, that, as Providence rules all things, no gift is bestowed with-
out some wise and reasonable end. If Indians are of no use, Indians would
not have been created, and I do suppose, could one dive to the bottom of
things, it would be found that even the'Mingo tribes were produced for
some rational and proper purpose, though 1 confess it surpasses my means
to say what it is."
The Serpent greatly exposes himself to the enemy, in order to get his
scalp This may lose us the day."
"Not in his mind, Jasper. That one scalp has more honour in it,
according to the Sarpent's notions of warfare, than a field covered with
slain that kept the hair on their heads. Now, there was the fine young
captain of the 60th that threw away his life in trying to bring off a three-
pounder from among the Frenchers, in the last skrimmage we had; he
thought he was serving honour; and I have known a young ensign wrap
himself up in his colours, and go to sleep in his blood, fancying that he
was lying on something softer even than buffalo skins "
Yes, yes; one can understand the merit of not hauling down an ensign."
And these are Chingachgook's colours--he will keep them to show his
children's children-" here the Pathfinder interrupted himself, shook his
head in melancholy, and slowly added-" Ahs me no shoot of the old
Mohican stem remains! He has no children to delight with his tropies;
no tribe to honour by his deeds; he is a lone man in this world, and yet he
stands true to his training and his gifts! There is something honest and
respectable in these, you must allow Jasper; yes, there is something decent
40 THE PA YHFINDER.
Here a great outcry from among the Iroquois was succeeded by the quick
reports of their rifles, and so eager did the enemy become, in the desire to
drive the Delaware back from his victim, that a dozen rushed into the river
several of whom even advanced near a hundred feet into the foaming
current, as if they actually meditated a serious sortie. But Chingachgook
continued as unmoved as he remained unhurt by the missiles, accomplish-
ing his task with the dexterity of long habit. Flourishing his reeking trophy,
he gave the war-whoop in its most frightful intonations, and for a minute
the arches of the silent woods, and the deep vista formed by the course of
the river, echoed with cries so terrific that Mabel bowed her head in irre-
pressible, fear while her uncle, for a single instant, actually meditated
all I have heard from
the wretches," Jas-
per exclaimed, stop-
S ping his ears, equally
in horror and dis-
"b 'Tis their music,
S boy ; their drum and
fife; their trumpets
Sand clarions. No
S doubt they love
4Wg those sounds, for
they stir up in them
fierce feelings, and a
desire for blood,"
S returned the Path-
finder, totally un-
moved. "I thought
Them rather fright-
M ful when a mere
youngster, but they
have got to be like
the whistle of the
the song of the cat-
bird, in my ear now.
All the screeching
reptyles that could
stand between the
Falls and the garrison would have no effect on my narves, at this time of
day. I say it not in boasting, Jasper, for the man that lets in cowardice
through the ears must have but a weak heart, at the best; sounds and out-
cries being more intended to alarm women and children than such as scout
the forest and face the foe. I hope the Sarpent is now satisfied, for here
he comes with the scalp at his belt."
Jasper turned away his head as the Delaware rose from the water, in pure
disgust at his late errand, but the Pathfinder regarded his friend with the
philosophical indifference of one who had made up his mind to be indif-
ferent to things he deemed immaterial. As the Delaware passed deeper
THE PA THFINDER.
into the bushes, with a viewto wring his trifling calico dress, and to prepare
his rifle for service, he gave one glance of triumph at his companions, and
then all emotion connected with the recent exploit seemed to cease.
"Jasper," resumed the guide, "step down to the station of Master Cap
and ask him to join us: we have little time for a council, and yet our plans
must be laid quickly, for it will not be long before them Mingos will be
Splitting our ruin."
The young man complied, and in a few minutes the four were assembled
Near the shore, completely concealed from the view of their enemies while
they kept a vigilant watch over the proceedings of the latter, in order to
consult on their own future movements.
By this time, the day had so far advanced as to leave but a few minutes
between the passing light and an obscurity that promised to be even deeper
than common. The sun had already set, and the twilight of a low latitude
would soon pass into the darkness of deep night. Most of the hopes of
the party rested on this favourable circumstance, though it was not with-
out its dangers, also, as the very obscurity which would favour their escape
would be as likely to conceal the movements of their wily enemies.
The moment has come, men," Pathfinder commenced, when our plans
must be coolly laid, in order that we may act together, and with a right
understanding of our errand and gifts. In an hour's time these woods
will be as dark as midnight, and if we are ever to gain the garrison, it
must be done under favour of this advantage. What say you, Master
Cap, for though none of the most experienced in combats and retreats in
the woods, your years entitle you to speak first, in a matter like this, and
in a council."
"And my near relationship to Mabel, Pathfinder, ought to count for
I don't know that-I don't know that. Regard is regard, and liking,
liking, whether it be a gift of natur', or come from one's own judgment
and inclinations. I will say nothing for the Sarpent, who is past placing his
mind on the women, but as for Jasper and myself, we are as ready to
stand between the sergeant's daughter and the Mingos as her own brave
father himself could be. Do I say more than the truth, lad? "
Mabel may count on me to the last drop of my blood," said Jasper,
speaking low, but speaking with intense feeling.
Well, well," rejoined the uncle, we will not discuss this matter, as all
seem willing to serve the girl, and deeds are better than words. In my
judgment, all we have to do is to go on board the canoe, when it gets so
dark the enemy's look-outs can't see us, and run for the haven, as wind
and tide will allow."
That is easily said, but not so easily done," returned the guide. We
shall be more exposed in the river than by following the woods, and then
there is the Oswego rift below us, and I am far from sartain that Jasper
himself can carry a boat safely through it in the dark. What say you,
lad, as to your own skill and judgment ? "
"I am of Master Cap's opinion about using the canoe. Mabel is too
tender to walk through swamps, and among roots of trees, in such a night
as this promises to be, and then I always feel myself stouter of heart and
truer of eye when afloat than when ashore."
Stout of heart you always be, lad, and I think tolerably true of eye for
one who has lived so much in broad sunshine, and so little in the woods.
42 THE PA THFINDER.
Ahs me! the Ontario has no trees, or it would be a plain to delight a
hunter's heart! As to your opinion, friends, there is much for, and much
against it. For it, it may be said water leaves no trail-"
What do you call the wake ? interrupted the pertinacious and dog-
Go on," said Jasper; Master Cap thinks he is on the ocean-water
leaves no trail- "
"It leaves none, Eau-douce, hereaway, though I do not pretend to say
'what it may leave on the sea. Then a canoe is both swift and easy, when
it floats with the current, and the tender limbs of the sergeant's daughter
will be favoured by its motion. But, on the other hand, the river will
have no cover but the clouds in the heavens; the rift is a ticklish thing for
boats to venture into, even by daylight, and it is six fairly-measured miles,
by water, from this spot to the garrison. Then a trail on land is not easy
to be found in the dark. I am troubled, Jasper, to say which way we
ought to counsel and advise."
If the Serpent and myself could swim into the river, and bring off the
other canoe," the young sailor replied, "it would seem to me that our
safest course would be the water."
If, indeed and yet it might easily be done, as soon as it is a little darker.
Well, well, considering the sergeant's daughter, and her gifts, I am not
sartain it will not be the best.. Though were we only a party of men, it
would be like a hunt to the lusty and brave, to play at hide-and-seek with
yonder miscreants on the other shore. Jasper," continued the guide, into
whose character there entered no ingredient that belonged to vain display,
or theatrical effect, "will you undertake to bring in the canoe ? "
I will undertake anything that will serve and protect Mabel, Path-
That is an upright feeling, and I suppose it is natur'. The Sarpent,
who is nearly naked already, can help you, and this will be cutting off one
of the means of them devils to work their harm."
This material point being settled, the different members of the party
prepared themselves to put the project in execution. The shades of even-
ing fell fast upon the forest, and by the time all was ready for the attempt,
it was found impossible to discern objects on the opposite shore. Time
now pressed, for Indian cunning could devise so many expedients for pass-
ing so narrow a stream, that the Pathfinder was getting impatient to quit
the spot. While Jasper and his companion entered the river, armed with
nothing but their knives and the Delaware's tomahawk, observing the
greatest caution not to betray their movements, the guide brought Mabel
from her place of concealment, and bidding her and Cap proceed along the
shore to the foot of the rapids, he got into the canoe that remained in his
possession, in order to carry it to the same place.
This was easily effected. The canoe was laid against the bank, and
Mabel and her uncle entered it, taking their seats as usual; while the
Pathfinder, erect in the stern, held by a bush, in order to prevent the swift
stream from sweeping them down its current. Several minutes of intense
and breathless expectation followed, while they waited the result of the bold
attempt of their comrades.
It will be understood that the two adventurers were compelled to swim
across a deep and rapid channel, ere they could reach a part of the rift that
THE PA THFINDER.
admitted of wading. This portion of the enterprise was soon effected ; and
Jasper and the Serpent struck the bottom, side by side, at the same
Instant. Having secured firm footing, they took hold of each other's hands,
and waded slowly and with extreme caution, in the supposed direction of
the canoe. But the darkness was already so deep, that they soon ascer-
Stained that they were to be but little aided by the sense of sight, and that
their search must be conducted on that species of instinct which enables
the woodsman to find his way, when the sun is hid, no stars appear, and
Small would seem chaos to one less accustomed to the mazes of the forest.
Under these circumstances, Jasper submitted to be guided by the Delaware,
whose habits best fitted him to take the lead. Still it was no easy matter
to wade amid the roaring element at that hour, and retain a clear recollec-
tion of the localities. By the time they believed themselves to be in the
centre of the stream, the two shores were discernible merely by masses of
obscurity denser than common, the outlines against the clouds being
barely distinguishable by the ragged tops of the trees. Once or twice ihe
wanderers altered their course, in consequence of unexpectedly stepping
into deep water, for they knew that the boat had lodged on the shallowest
part of the rift. In short, with this fact for their compass, Jasper and his
companion wandered about in the water for near a quarter of an hour,
and at the end of that period, which began to appear interminable to the
young man, they found themselves apparently no nearer the object of their
search than they had been at its commencement. Just as the Delaware
was about to stop, in order to inform his associate that they would do well
to return to the land, in order to take a fresh departure, he saw the form
of a man moving about in the water, almost within reach of his arm.
Jasper was at his side, and he at once understood that the Iroquois was
engaged on the same errand as he was himself.
Mingo he uttered in Jasper's ear-" the Serpent will show his
brother how to be cunning."
SThe young sailor caught a glimpse of the figure at that instant, and the
startling truth also flashed on his mind. Understanding the necessity of
trusting all to the Delaware chief, he kept back, while his friend moved
cautiously in the direction in which the strange form had vanished. In
another moment it was seen again, evidently moving towards themselves.
The waters made such an uproar that little was to be apprehended from
ordinary sounds, and the Indian, turning his head, hastily said:-
"Leave it to the cunning of the Great Serpent."
Hugh! exclaimed the strange savage, adding, in the language of his
people-" the canoe is found, but there were none to help me. Come; let
us raise it from the rock."
"Willingly," answered Chingachgook, who understood the dialect-
S" lead; we will follow."
The stranger, unable to distinguish between voices and accents, amid
the raging of the rapid, led the way in the necessary direction, and, the
two others keeping close at his heels, all three speedily reached the canoe.
The Iroquois laid hold of one end, Chingachgook placed himself in the
centre, and Jasper went to the opposite extremity, as it was important that
the stranger should not detect the presence of a pale-face-a discovery that
might be made by the parts of the dress the young man still wore, as well
as by the general appearance of his head.
"Lift," said the Iroquois, in the sententious manner of his race; and by
44 THE PA THFINDER.
a trifling effort the canoe was raised from the rock, held a moment in the
air to empty, and then placed carefully on the water, in its proper position.
All three held it firmly, lest it should escape from their hands, under the
pressure of the violent current, while the Iroquois, who led, of course,
being at the upper end of the boat, took the direction of the eastern shore,
or towards the spot where his friends waited his return.
As the Delaware and Jasper well knew there must be several more of
Iroquois on the rift, from the circumstance that their own appearance had
Occasioned no surprise in the individual they had met, both felt the
necessity of extreme caution. Men less bold and determined would have
thought that they were incurring too great a risk, by thus venturing into
the midst of their enemies; but these hardy borderers were unacquainted
with fear, were accustomed to hazards, and so well understood the necessity
of at least preventing their foes from getting the boat, that they would
have cheerfully encountered even greater risks to secure their object. So
all-important to the safety of Mabel, indeed, did Jasper deem the posses-
sion, or the destruction of this canoe, that he had drawn his knife, and
stood ready to rip up the bark, in order to render the boat temporarily un-
serviceable, should anything occur to compel the Delaware and himself to
abandon their prize.
In the meantime, the Iroquois, who led the way, proceeded slowly
through the water, in the direction of his own party, still grasping the
canoe, and dragging his reluctant followers in his train. Once Chingach-
gook raised his tomahawk and was about to bury it in the brain of his
confiding and unsuspicious neighbour, but the probability that the death-
cry or the floating body might give the alarm, induced that wary chief to
change his purpose. At the next moment he regretted this indecision, for
the three who clung to the canoe suddenly found themselves in the centre
of a party of no less than four others who were in quest of it.
After the usual brief, characteristic exclamations of satisfaction, the
savages eagerly laid hold of the canoe, for all seemed impressed with the
necessity of securing this important boat, the one side in order to assail
their foes, and the other to secure their retreat. The addition to the
party, however, was so unlocked for, and so completely gave the enemy the
superiority, that, for a few moments, the ingenuity and address of
even the Delaware were at fault. The five Iroquois, who seemed perfectly
to understand their errand, pressed forward towards their own shore,
without pausing to converse; their object being in truth to obtain the
paddles, which they had previously secured, and to embark three or four
warriors, with all their rifles and powder-horns, the want of which had
alone prevented their crossing the river, by swimming, as soon as it was
In this manner, the body of friends and foes united, reached the
margin of the eastern channel, where, as in the case of the western, the
river was too deep to be waded. Here a short pause succeeded, it being
necessary to determine the manner in which the canoe was to be carried
across. One of the four who had just reached the boat was a chief, and
the habitual deference which the American Indian pays to merit, experience,
and station, kept the others silent, until this individual had spoken.
The halt greatly added to the danger of discovering the presence of
Jasper, in particular, who, however, had the precaution to throw the cap he
wore into the bottom of the canoe. Being without his jacket and shirt,
THE PATHFINDER. 45
the outline of his figure, in the obscurity, would now be less likely to
attract observation. His position, too, at the stern of the canoe, a little
favoured his concealment, the Iroquois naturally keeping their looks
directed the other way. Not so with Chingachgook. This warrior was
Literally in the midst of his most deadly foes, and he could scarcely move
Without touching one of them. Yet he was apparently unmoved, though
She kept all his senses on the alert, in readiness to escape, or to strike a
Sblow at the proper moment. By carefully abstaining from looking at those
behind him, he lessened the chances of discovery, and waited with the
indomitable patience of an Indian for the instant when he should be
required to act.
Let all my young men but two, one at each end of the canoe, cross
and get their arms," said the Iroquois chief. Let the two push over the
The Indians quietly obeyed, leaving Jasper at the stern, and the
Iroquois who had found the canoe, at the bow of the light craft, Chin-
gachgook burying himself so deep in the river as to be passed by the others
without detection. The splashing in the water, the tossing arms, and the
calls one to another, soon announced that the four who had last joined the
party were already swimming. As soon as this fact was certain, the
Delaware rose, resumed his former station, and began to think the
moment for action was come.
One less habitually under self-restraint than this warrior, would probably
have now aimed his meditated blow; but Chinghachgook knew there were
More Iroquois behind him on the rift, and he was a warrior much too trianed
and experienced to risk anything unnecessarily. He suffered the Indian
at the bow of the canoe to push into the deep water, and then all three
were swimming in the direction of the eastern shore. Instead, however,
of helping the canoe across the swift current, no sooner did the Delaware
and Jasper find themselves within the influence of its greatest force, than
both began to swim in a way to check their further progress across the
stream. Nor was this done suddenly, or in the incautious manner in which
46 THE PA THFINDER.
a civilized man would have been apt to attempt the artifice, but warily, and
so gradually that the Iroquois at the bow fancied at first that he was
merely -t'l_. i -_ against the strength of the current. Of course, while
acted on by these opposing efforts, the canoe drifted down the stream, and
in about a minute it was floating in still deeper water at the foot of the
rift. Here, however, the Iroquois was not slow in finding that something
unusual retarded their advance, and looking back he first learned that he
was resisted by the efforts of his companions.
That second nature, which grows up through habit, instantly told the
young Iroquois that he was alone with enemies. Dashing the water
aside, he sprang at the throat of Chingachgook, and the two Indians,
relinquishing their hold of the canoe, seized each other like tigers. In the
midst of the darkness of that gloomy night, and floating in an element so
dangerous to man, when engaged in deadly strife, they appeared to forget
everything but their fell animosity, and their mutual desire to conquer.
Jasper had now complete command of the canoe, which flew off like a
feather impelled by the breath, under the violent reaction of the struggles
of the two combatants. The first impulse of the youth was to swim to the
aid of the Delaware, but the importance of securing the boat presented
itself with tenfold force, while he listened to the heavy breathing of the
warriors, as they throttled each other, and he proceeded as fast as possible
towards the western shore. This he soon reached, and after a short search,
he succeeded in discovering the remainder of the party, and in procuring
his clothes. A few words sufficed to explain the situation in which he had
left the Delaware, and the manner in which the canoe had been obtained.
When those who had been left behind had heard the, explanations of
Jasper, a profound stillness reigned among them, each listening intently,
in the vain hope of catching some clue to the result of the fearful struggle
that had just taken place, if it were not still going in on the water. Nothing
was audible beyond the steady roar of the rushing river; it being apart
of the policy of their enemies on the opposite shore, to observe the most
Take this paddle, Jasper," said Pathfinder, calmly, though the listeners
thought his voice sounded more melancholy than usual; and follow with
your own canoe. It is unsafe for us to remain here longer."
"But the Serpent ? "
"The Great Sarpent is in the hands of his own deity, and will live or
die, according to the intention of Providence. We can do him no good,
and may risk too much by remaining here in idleness, like women talking
over their distresses. The darkness is very precious--"
A loud, long, piercing yell came from the shore, and cut short the words
of the guide.
What is the meaning of that uproar, Master Pathfinder ? demanded
Cap. "It sounds more like the outcries of devils than anything that can
-come from the throats of Christians and men."
Christians they are not, and do not pretend to be, and do not wish to
be; and in calling them devils you have scarcely misnamed them. That
yell is one of rejoicing, and it is as conquerors they have given it. The body
.of the Sarpent, no doubt, dead or alive, is in their power! "
"And we! "-exclaimed Jasper, who felt a pang of generous regret as
the idea that he might have averted the calamity presented itself to his
:mind-had he not deserted his comrade.
THE PATHFINDER. 47
"We can do the chief no good, lad, and must quit this spot as fast as
Without one attempt to rescue him !-without even knowing whether
he be dead or living? "
Jasper is right," said Mabel, who could speak, though her voice sounded
huskily and trembling. "I have no fears, uncle, and will stay here until
we know what has become of our friend."
This seems reasonable, Pathfinder," put in Cap. Your true seaman
cannot well desert a messmate ; and I am glad to find that motives so correct
exist among those fresh-water people !"
"Tut-tut," returned the impatient guide, forcing the canoe into the
stream as he spoke, "ye know nothing, and ye fear nothing. If ye value
your lives, think of reaching the garrison, and leave the Delaware in the
hands of Providence. Ahs me The deer that goes too often to the lick
meets the hunter at last! "
WHILE the desultory conversation just related had been carried on
in subdued voices, the canoes were dropping slowly down with the current,
within the deep shadow of the western shore, the paddles being used merely
to preserve the desired direction and proper positions. The strength of
the stream varied materially, the water being seemingly still in places,
while in other reaches it flowed at a rate exceeding two, or even three miles in
the hour. On the rifts it even dashed forward with a velocity that was
appalling to the unpractised eye. Jasper was of opinion that. they might
drift down with the current to the mouth of the river in two hours from
the time they left the shore, and he and the Pathfinder had. agreed on the
expediency of suffering the canoes to float of themselves, for a time, or, at
least, until they had passed the first dangers of their new movement. The
dialogue had been carried on in voices, too, guardedly low; for, though the
quiet of deep solitude reigned in that vast and nearly boundless forest,
nature was speaking with her thousand tongues, in the eloquent
language of night in a wilderness. The air sighed through ten thousand
trees, the water rippled, and, at places, even roared along the shores; and
now and then was heard the creaking of a branch or a- trunk, as it rubbed
against some object similar to itself, under the vibrations of a nicely-
balanced body. All living sounds had ceased. Once, it is true, the Path-
finder fancied he heard the howl of a distant wolf, of which a few prowled
through these woods, but it was a transient and doubtful cry, that might
possibly have been attributed to the imagination. When he desired his
companions, however, to cease talking, in the manner just mentioned, his
viligant ear had caught the peculiar sound that is made by the parting of
a dried branch of a tree, and which, if his senses did not deceive him, came
from the western shore. All who are accustomed to that particular sound,
will understand how readily the ear receives it, and how easy it is to dis-
tinguish the tread which breaks the branch from every other noise of the
There is the footstep of a man on the bank," said Pathfinder to Jasper,
speaking in neither a whisper not yet in a voice loud enough to be heard at
THE PA THFINDER.
any distance. Can the accursed Iroquois have crossed the river already,
with their arms, and without a boat ? "
It may be the Delaware 1 He would follow us of course down this
bank, and would know where to look for us. Let me draw closer into the
shore, and reconnoitre."
Go, boy, butbe light with the paddle, and on no account venture ashore
on an onsartainty."
Is this prudent ?" demanded Mabel, with an impetuosity that
rendered her incautious in modulating her sweet voice.
"Very imprudent if you speak so loud, fair one. I like your voice,
which is soft and pleasing, after listening so long to the tones of men;
but it must not be heard too much, or too freely just now. Your father,
the honest sergeant, will tell you when you meet him, that silence is a
double virtue on a trail. Go, Jasper, and do justice to your own character
Ten anxious minutes succeeded the disappearance of the canoe of Jasper,
which glided away from that of the Pathfinder so noiselessly that it had
been swallowed up in the gloom before Mabel allowed herself to believe the
young man would really venture alone, on a service that struck her
imagination as singularly dangerous. During this time the party continued
to float with the current, no one speaking, and, it might almost be said, no
one breathing, so strong was the general desire to catch the minutest sound
that should come from the shore. But the same solemn,we might, indeed,
say sublime, quiet, reigned as before; the washing of the water as it piled
up against some slight obstruction, and the sighing of the trees alone
interrupting the slumbers of the forest. At the end of the period men-
tioned, the snapping of dried branches were again faintly heard, and the
Pathfinder fancied that the sound of smothered voices reached him.
I may be mistaken," he said, "for the thoughts often fancy what the
heart wishes; but these were notes like the low tones of the Delaware !"
Do the dead of the savages ever walk ? demanded Cap.
"Ay, and run, too, in their happy hunting-grounds, but nowhere else.
A red-skin finishes with the 'arth after the breath quits the body. It is
not one of his gifts to linger around his wigwam when his hour has
"I see some object on the water," whispered Mabel, whose eye had not
ceased to dwell on the body of gloom, with close intensity, since the dis-
appearance of Jasper.
"It is the canoe !" returned the guide, greatly relieved. "All must be
safe, or we should have heard from the lad."
In another minute the two canoes, which became visible to those they
carried only as they drew near to each other, again floated side by side, and
the form of Jasper was recognized at the stern of his own boat. The
figure of a second man was seated in the bow, and as the young sailor so
wielded his paddle as to bring the face of his companion near the eyes of
the Pathfinder and Mabel, they both recognized the person of the Dela-
Chingachgook-my brother! said the guide, in the dialect of the
other's people, a tremor shaking his voice that betrayed the strength of his
feelings-" Chief of the Mohicans, my heart is very glad. Often have we
passed through blood and strife together, but I was afraid it was never to
be so again."
THE PATHFINDER. 49
"Hugh !-the Mingos are squaws! Three of their scalps hang at my
girdle. They do not know how to strike the Great Serpent of the Dela-
wares. Their hearts have noblood, and their thoughts are on their return
path, across the waters of the Great Lake."
"Have you been among them, chief ?-and what has become of the
warrior who was in the river ? "
He has turned into a fish, and lies at the bottom with the eels! Let
his brothers bait their hooks for him. Pathfinder, I have counted the
enemy, and have touched their rifles."
Ah! I thought he would be venturesome!" exclaimed the guide in
English. "The risky fellow has been in the midst of them, and has
brought us back their whole history. Speak, Chingachgook, and I will
make our friends as knowing as ourselves,"
The Delaware now related, in a low earnest manner, the substance of all
his discoveries since he was last seen struggling with his foe in the river.
Of the fate of his antagonist he said no more, it not being usual for a
warrior to boast in his more direct and useful narratives. As soon as he
had conquered in that fearful strife, however, he swam to the eastern shore,
landed with caution, and wound his way in amongst the Iroquois, con-
cealed by the darkness, and, in the main, even unsuspected, Once, indeed,
he had been questioned, but answering that he was Arrowhead, no further
inquiries were made. By the passing remarks he soon ascertained that the
party was out expressly to intercept Mabel and her uncle, concerning whose
rank, however, they had evidently been deceived. He also ascertained
enough to satisfy the suspicion that Arrowhead had betrayed them to their
enemies, for some motive that it was not now easy to reach, as he had not
yet received the reward of his services.
Pathfinder communicated no more of this intelligence to his companions
than he thought might relieve their apprehensions, intimating at the same
tirce that now was the moment for exertion, the Iroquois not having yet
entirely recovered from the confusion created by their losses.
"We shall find them at the rift, I make no manner of doubt," he con-
tinued, and there it will be our fate to pass them, or to fall into their
hands. The distance to the garrison will then be so short that I have been
thinking of the plan of landing with Mabel myself, that I may take her in
by some of the by-ways, and leave the canoes to their chances in Ihe
It will never succeed, Pathfinder," eagerly interrupted Jasper. "Mabel
is not strong enough to tramp the woods in a night like this. Put her in
my skiff, and I will lose my life or carry her through the rift safely, dark
as it is."
"No doubt you will, lad; no one doubts your willingness to do anything
to serve the sergeant's daughter; but it must be the eye of Providence and
not your own that will take you safely through the Oswego rift in a night
like this. Bring your canoe close alongside, Jasper, and I will give you
what you must consider as a precious treasure."
"I do so consider it," returned the youth, not losing a moment in com-
plying with the request; when Mabel passed from one canoe to the other,
taking her seat on the effects which had hitherto composed its sole cargo.
As soon as this arrangement was made the canoes separated a short dis-
tance, and the paddles were used, though with great care to avoid making
any noise. The conversation gradually ceased, and as the dreaded rift was
50 THE PATHFINDER.
approached, all became impressed with the gravity of the moment. That
their enemies would endeavour to reach this point before them was almost
certain; and it seemed so little probable any one should attempt to pass it,
in the profound obscurity which reigned, that the Pathfinder was confident
parties were on both sides of the river in the hope of intercepting them
when they might land. He would not have made the proposal he did had
he not felt sure of his own ability to convert this very anticipation of suc-
cess into a means of defeating the plans of the Iroquois. As the arrange-
ment now stood, however, everything depended on the skill of those who
guided the canoes; for should either hit a rock, if not split asunder, it
would almost certainly be upset, and then would come not only all the
hazards of the river itself, but for Mabel the certainty of falling into the
hands of her pursuers. The utmost circumspection consequently became
necessary, and each one was too much engrossed with his own thoughts to
feel a disposition to utter more than was called for by the exigencies of the
As the canoes stole silently along the roar of the rift became audible, and
it required all the fortitude of Cap to keep his seat while these boding
sounds were approached, amid a darkness that scarcely permitted view of
the outlines of the wooded shore, and of the gloomy vault above his head.
He retained a vivid impression of the Falls, and his imagination was not
now idle in swelling the dangers of the rift to a level with those of the
headlong descent he had that day made, and even to increase them under
the influence of doubt and uncertainty. In this, however, the old mariner
was mistaken, for the Oswego Rift and the Oswego Falls are very different
in their characters and violence; the former being no more than a rapid
that glances among shallows and rocks, while the latter really deserved the
name it bore as has been already shown.
Mabel certainly felt distrust and apprehension; but her entire situation
was so novel, and her reliance on her guide so great, that she retained a
self-command that might not have existed had she clearer perceptions of
the truth, or been better acquainted with the helplessness of men when
placed in opposition to the power and majesty of nature.
That is the spot you have mentioned ? she said to Jasper, when the
roar of the rift first came fresh and distinct on her ear.
"It is; and I beg you to have confidence in me. We are not old
acquaintances, Mabel, but we live many days in one in this wilderness. I
think already that I have known you years! "
And I do not feel as if you were a stranger to me, Jasper. I have
every reliance on your skill, as well as on your disposition to serve me."
We shall see-we shall see. Pathfinder is striking the rapids too near
the centre of the river. The bed of the water is closer to the eastern
shore; but I cannot make him hear me now. Hold firmly to the canoe,
Mabel, and fear nothing."
At the next moment the swift current had sucked them into the rift,
and for three or four minutes the awestruck, rather than the alarmed, girl
saw nothing around her but sheets of glancing foam; heard nothing but
the roar of waters. Twenty times did the canoe appear about to dash
against some curling and bright wave that showed itself even amid that
obscurity, and as often did it glide away again unharmed; impelled by the
vigorous arm of him who governed its movements. Once, and once only,
did Jasper seem to lose command of his frail bark, during which brief
THE PA THFINDER. 51
space it fairly whirled entirely round; but, by a desperate effort, he
brought it again under control, recovered the lost channel, and was soon
rewarded for all his anxiety by findi hihimself floating quietly in the
deep water below the rapids; secure from every danger, and without having
taken in enough of the element to serve for a draught.
"All is over, Mabel," the young man cried, cheerfully. "The danger
is past, and you may now, indeed, hope to meet your father this very
God be praised! Jasper, we shall owe this great happiness to you!
The Pathfinder may claim a full share in the merit; but what has
become of the other canoe ?"
"I see something near us on the water: is it not the boat of our
friends ? "
A few strokes of the paddle brought Jasper to the side of the object
in question. It was the other canoe. empty and bottom upwards.. No
sooner did the young man ascertain this fact than he began to search for
the swimmers; and, to his great joy, Cap was soon discovered drifting
down with the current; the old seaman preferring the chances of drowning
to those of landing among savages. He was hauled into the canoe,
though not without difficulty, and then the search ended; for Jasper was
persuaded that the Pathfinder would wade to the shore, the water being
shallow, in preference to abandoning his beloved rifle.
The remainder of the passage was short, though made amid darkness
and doubt. After a short pause a dull roaring sound was heard, which
at times resembled the mutterings of thunder, and then again brought
with it the washing of waters. Jasper announced to his companions
that they now heard the surf of the lake. Low, curved spits of land lay
before them, into the bay formed by one of which the canoe glided, and
then it shot up noiselessly upon a gravelly beach. The transition that
followed was so hurried and great that Mabel scarce knew what passed.
In the course of a few minutes, however, sentinels had been passed, a
gate was opened, and the agitated girl found herself in the arms of a
parent who was almost a stranger to her.
How beautiful! she exclaimed, unconscious of speaking, as she stood
on the solitary bastion, facing the air from the lake, and experiencing the
genial influence of its freshness pervading both her body and her mind.
"How very beautiful; and yet how singular!"
The words, and the train of her ideas, were interrupted by a touch
of a finger on her shoulder, and turning, in the expectation of seeing her
father, Mabel found Pathfinder at her side. He was leaning quietly on
his long rifle, and laughing in his quiet manner, while, with an outstretched
arm, he swept over the whole panorama of land and water.
"Here you have both our domains," he said, "Jasper's and mine.
The lake is for him, and the woods are for me. The lad sometimes
boasts of the breadth of his dominions, but 1 tell him my trees make as
broad a plain on the face of this 'arth as all his water. Well, now you
52 THE PATHFINDER.
have met your father, do you find the honest old soldier the sort of person
you expected to find ?"
He is my own dear father, and received me as, a soldier and a father
should receive a child. Have you known him long, Pathfinder? "
"That is as people count time. I was just twelve when the sergeant
took me on my first scouting, and that is now more than twenty years
ago. We had a tramping time of it, and as it was before your day you
would have had no father had not the rifle been one of my natural gifts."
"It is too simple for many words. We were ambushed, and the sergeant
got a bad hurt, and would have lost his scalp but for a sort of inbred
turn I took to the weapon. We brought him off, however, and a hand-
somer head of hair, for his time of life, is not to be found in the rijiment
than the sergeant carries about with him this blessed day."
You have saved my father's life, Pathfinder! exclaimed Mabel, uncon-
sciously, though warmly, taking one of his hard, sinewy hands into her
Dwn. God bless you for this, too, among your other good acts."
"Nay, I did not say that much, though I believe I did save his scalp.
A man might live without a scalp, and so I cannot say I saved his life.
Jasper may say that much consarning you, for without his eye and arm
the canoe would never have passed the rift in safety on a night like the
last. The gifts of the lad are for the water, while mine are for the hunt
and the trail. He is yonder, in the cove there, looking after the canoes,
and keeping an eye on his beloved little craft. To my eye there is no
likelier youth, in these parts, than Jasper Western."
Several skiffs, batteaux and canoes were Rauled up on the shore, and in
-the cove itself lay the little craft from which Jasper obtained his claim
to be considered a sailor. She was cutter-rigged, might have been of
:forty tons burthen, was so neatly constructed and painted as to have some-
thing of the air of a vessel of war, though entirely without quarters, and
rigged and sparred with so scrupulous a regard to proportions and beauty,
..as well as fitness and judgment, as to give her an appearance that even
Mabel at once distinguished to be gallant and trim. Her mould was
admirable, for a wright of great skill had sent her drafts from England
:at the express request of the officer who had caused her to be constructed;
her paint, dark, warlike, and neat; and the long coach-whip pennant that
she wore at once proclaimed her to be the property of the king. Her
name was the Scud.
"That, then, is the vessel of Jasper !" said Mabel, who associated the
*master of the little craft quite naturally with the cutter itself.
ACQUAINTANCES made in a forest, or in any circumstances of unusual
excitement, soon attain their limits. Mabel found one week's residence at
Oswego sufficient to determine her as to those with whom she might be
intimate, and those whom she ought to avoid. The sort of neutral
position occupied by her father, who was not an officer, while he was so
much more than a common soldier, by keeping her aloof from the two great
classes of military life, lessened the number of those whom she was com-
THE PA THFINDER. 53
pelled to know, and made the duty of decision comparatively easy. Still
she soon discovered that there were a few, even among those that could
aspire to a seat at the commandant's table, who were disposed to over-
look the halbert for the novelty of a well-turned figure, and of a pretty,
winning face; and by the end of the first two or three days, she had
admirers even among the gentlemen. The quarter-master, in particular, a
middle-aged soldier, who had more than once tried the blessings of matri-
mony already, but was now a widower, was evidently disposed to increase
his intimacy with the sergeant, though their duties often brought them
together; and the youngsters among his messmates did not fail to note
that this man of method, who was a Scotsman of the name of Muir, was
much more frequent in his visits to the quarters of his subordinate than
had formerly been his wont. A laugh, or a joke, in honour of the
" sergeant's daughter," however, limited their strictures; though Mabel
Dunham" was soon a toast that even the ensign, or the lieutenant, did not
disdain to give.
It was now September, a month in which the strong gales of the coast
often appear to force themselves across the country as far as the great lakes,
where the inland sailor sometimes feels that genial influence which charac-
terises the winds of the ocean; invigorating his frame, cheering his spirits,
and arousing his moral force. Such a day was that on which the garrison
of Oswego assembled to witness what its commander had jocularly called
a "passage of arms."
As soon as everything was prepared, Muir was summoned to the stand,
and the potato was held in readiness to be thrown. As the sort of feat we
are about to offer to the reader, however, may be new to him, a word in
explanation will render the matter more clear. A potato, of large size
was selected, and given to one who stood at the distance of twenty yards
from the stand. At the word "heave," which was given by the marksman
the vegetable was thrown with a gentle toss into the air, and it was the
business of the adventurer to cause a ball to pass through it, before it
reached the ground.
The quarter-master, in a hundred experiments, had once succeeded in
accomplishing this difficult feat, but he now essayed to perform it again,
with a sort of blind hope, that was fated to be disappointed. The potato
was thrown in the usual manner, the rifle was discharged, but the flying
target was untouched.
"To the right about, and fall out, quarter-master," said Lundie, smil-
ing at the success of his own artifice-" the honour of the silken calash
will lie between Jasper Eau-douce and Pathfinder."
And how is the trial to end, Major ? inquired the latter. "Are we to
have the two potato trial, or is it to be settled by centre and skin ? "
By centre and skin if there's any perceptible difference; otherwise the
double shot must follow."
"This is an awful moment to me, Pathfinder," observed Jasper, as he
moved towards the stand, his face actually losing its colour in intensity of
Pathfinder gazed earnestly at the young man, and then begging Major
Duncan to have patience for a moment, he led his friend out of the hearing
of all near him, before he spoke.
"You seem to take this matter to heart, Jasper ? the hunter remarked
keeping his eye fastened on those of the youth.
54 THE PATHFINDER.
I must own, Pathfinder, that my feelings were never before so much
bound up in success."
"And do you so much crave to outdo me, an old and tried friend ?-and
that as it might be, in my own way ? Shooting is my gift, boy, and no
common hand can equal mine! "
"I know it-I know it, Pathfinder-but-yet- "
But what, Jasper, boy ?-speak freely; you talk to a friend."
The young man compressed his lips, dashed a hand across his eye, and
flushed and paled alternately, like a girl confessing her love. Then, squeez-
ing the other's hand, he said calmly, like one whose manhood has overcome
all other sensations,-
"I would lose an arm, Pathfinder, to be able to make an offering of that
calash to Mabel Dunham."
The hunter dropped his eyes to the ground, and as he walked slowly
back towards the stand, he seemed to ponder deeply on what he had just
You never could succeed in the double trial, Jasper 1" he suddenly
Of that I am certain, and it troubles me."
"What a creature is mortal man He pines for things which are not of
his gift, and treats the bounties of Providence lightly. No matter-no
matter. Take your station, Jasper, for the Major is waiting-and, harkee,
lad-I must touch the skin, for I could not show my face in the garrison
with less than that."
"I suppose I must submit to my fate," returned Jasper, flushing and
losing his colour as before ;-" but I will make the effort if I die."
"What a thing is mortal man !" repeated Pathfinder, falling back to
allow his friend to take his aim-" he overlooks his own gifs, and craves
those of another!"
The potato was thrown, Jasper fired, and the shout that followed pre-
ceded the announcement of the fact, that he had driven his bullet through
its centre, or so nearly so as to merit the reward.
Here is a competitor worthy of you, Pathfinder," cried Major Duncan
with delight, as the former took his station, and we may look to some fine
shooting in the double trial."
"What a thing is mortal man!" repeated the hunter, scarce seeming to
notice what was passing around him, so much were his thoughts absorbed
in his own reflections-" Toss."
The potato was tossed, the rifle cracked-it was remarked just as the
little black ball seemed stationary in the air, for the marksman evidently
took unusual heed to his aim-and then a look of disappointment and
wonder succeeded among those who caught the falling target.
Two holes in one ?" called out the major.
"The skin-the skin-" was the answer: "only the skin "
How's this, Pathfinder Is Jasper Eau-douce to carry off the honours
of the day ?"
"The calash is his," returned the other shaking his head, and walking
quietly away from the stand. What a creature is mortal man Never
satisfied with his own gifts, but for ever craving that which Providence
As Pathfinder had not buried his bullet in the potato, but had cut through
the skin, the prize was immediately adjudged to Jasper. The calash was
THE PATHFINDER. 55
in the hands of the latter, when the quarter-master approached, and with
a poetic air of cordiality he wished his successful rival joy of his victory.
"But now you've got the calash, lad, it's of no use to you," he added;
"it will never make a sail, nor even an ensign. I'm thinking, Eau-douce,
you'd no be sorry to see its value in good silver of the king? "
"Money cannot buy it, lieutenant," returned Jasper, whose eye lighted
with all the fire of success and joy. I would rather have won this calash
than have obtained fifty new suits of sails for the Scud !"
Hoot-hoot-lad; you are going mad like all the rest of them. I'd
even venture to offer half-a-guinea for the trifle, rather than it should lie
kicking about in the cabin of your cutter, and, in the end, become an orna-
ment for the head of a squaw."
Although Jasper did not know that the wary quarter-master had not
offered half the actual cost of the prize, he heard the proposition with
indifference. Shaking his head in the negative, he advanced towards the
stage, where his approach excited a little commotion, the officers' ladies,
one and all, having determined to accept the present, should the gallantry
of the young sailor induce him to offer it. But Jasper's diffidence, no less
than admiration for another, would have prevented him from aspiring to
the honour of complimenting any whom he thought so much his superiors.
Mabel," he said, "this prize is for you, unless-- "
Unless what, Jasper ? answered the girl, losing her own bashfulness
in the natural and generous wish to relieve his embarrassment, though both
reddened in a way to betray strong feeling.
"Unless you may think too indifferently of it, because it is offered by
one who may have no right to believe his gift will be accepted."
I do accept it, Jasper; and it shall be a sign of danger I have passed
in your company, and of the gratitude I feel for your care of me-your
care, and that of the Pathfindei."
The remainder of the sports offered nothing of interest. The shooting
was reasonably good, but the trials were all of a scale lower than those re-
lated, and the competitors were soon left to themselves. The ladies and
most of the officers withdrew, and the remainder of the women soon followed
their example. Mabel was returning along the low flat rocks that line the
shore of the lake, dangling her pretty calash from a prettier finger, when
Pathfinder met her. He carried the rifle which he had used that day, but
his manner had less of the frank ease of the hunter about it than usual,
while his eye seemed roving and uneasy. After a few unmeaning words
concerning the noble sheet of water before them, he turned towards his
companion with strong interest in his countenance, and said,-
Jasper earned that calash for you, Mabel, without much trial of his gifts."
It was fairly done, Pathfinder."
No doubt-no doubt. The bullet passed neatly through the potato, and
no man could have done more; though others might have done as much."
But no one did as much!" exclaimed Mabel, with an animation that
she instantly regretted, for she saw by the pained look of the guide, that
he was mortified equally by the remark, and by the feeling with which it
It is true-it is true, Mabel, no one did as much then, but-yet, there
is no reason I should deny my gifts which come from Providence-yes,
yes; no one did as much there, but you shall know what can be done here.
Do you observe the gulls that are flying over our heads ?"
56 THE PATHFINDER.
"Certainly, Pathfinder-there are too many to escape notice."
"Here, where they cross each other, in sailing about," he added, cocking
and raising his rifle-" the two-the two-now look I"
The piece was presented quick as thought, as two of the birds came in a
line, though distant from each other many yards-the report followed, and
the bullet passed through the bodies of both the victims. No sooner had
the gulls fallen into the lake, than Pathfinder dropped the breach of the
rifle, and laughed in his own peculiar manner, every shade of dissatisfac-
tion and mortified pride having left his honest face.
A FEW hours later, Mabel Dunham was on the bastion that overlooked
the river and the lake, seemingly in deep thought. The evening was calm
and soft, and the question had arisen whether the party for the Thousand
Islands would be able to get out that night or not, on account of the total
absence of wind. The stores, arms and ammunition were already shipped,
and even Mabel's effects were on board; but the small draft of men that
was to go was still ashore, there being no apparent prospect of the cutter's
getting under way. Jasper had warped the Scud out of the cove, and so
far up the stream as to enable him to pass out through the outlet of the
river whenever he choose; but there he still lay, riding at single anchor.
The drafted men were lounging about the shore of the cove, undecided
whether or not to pull off.
Mabel turned her eyes towards the river, where the appearance of some
movement on board the Scud began to be visible.
Jasper was bringing the cutter out," observed the guide, whose look
was drawn in the same direction, by the fall of some heavy article on the
deck. The lad sees the signs of wind, no doubt, and wishes to be ready
Ay, now we shall have an opportunity of learning seamanship-" re-
turned Cap, with a sneer. There is a nicety in getting a craft under her
canvas, that shows the thoroughbred mariner as much as anything else.
It's like a soldier buttoning his coat, and one can see whether he begins at
the top or the bottom."
I will not say that Jasper is equal to your seafarers below," observed
Pathfinder, across whose upright mind an unworthy feeling of envy or of
jealousy never passed; but he is a bold boy, and manages his cutter as
skilfully as any man can desire, on this lake at least. You didn't find him
backward at the Oswego Falls, Master Cap, where fresh-water contrives to
tumble down hill with little difficulty."
Cap made no other answer than a dissatisfied ejaculation, and then a
general silence followed, all on the bastion studying the movements of the
cutter, with the interest that was natural to their own future connection
with the vessel. It was still a dead calm, the surface of the lake literally
glittering with the last rays of the sun. The Scud had been warped up to
a kedge, that lay a hundred yards above the points of the outlet, where she
had room to manceuvre in the river, which then formed the harbour of
Oswego. But the total want of air prevented any such attempt, and it was
THE PA THFINDER. 57
soon evident that the light vessel was to be taken through the passage
under her sweeps. Not a sail was loosened, but as soon as the kedge was
tripped the heavy fall of the sweeps was heard, when the cutter, with her
head up stream, began to sheer towards the centre of the current; on
reaching which the efforts of the men ceased, and she drifted towards the
outlet. In the narrow pass itself her movement was rapid, and in less
than five minutes the Scud was floating outside of the two low gravelly
points that intercepted the waves of the lake. No anchor was let go, but
the vessel continued to set off from the land, until her dark hull was seen
resting on the glassy surface of the lake, fully a quarter of a mile beyond
the low bluff, which formed the eastern extremity of what might be called
the outer harbour or roadstead. Here the influence of the river current
ceased, and she became virtually stationary.
"She seems very beautiful to me, uncle," said Mabel, whose gaze had
not been averted from the cutter for a single moment while it had thus
been changing its position; I dare say you can find faults in her appear-
ance, and in the way she is managed; but to my ignorance both are
Ay-ay-she drops down with a current well enough, girl, and so
would a chip. But when you come to niceties, an old tar, like myself, has
no need of spectacles to find faults."
This may be very true, uncle, though I much question whether Jasper
knows of them. I do not think he would suffer these things, Pathfinder,
if they were once pointed out to him."
"Let Jasper manage his own cutter, Mabel: let him manage his own
cutter. His gift lies that-a-way, and I'll answer for it, no one can teach
him how to keep the Scud out of the hands of the Frontenackers, or their
devilish Mingo friends. Who cares for round turns in kedges, and for
hawsers that are topped too high, Master Cap, so long as the craft sails
well, and keeps clear of the Frenchers ? I will trust Jasper against all the
seafarers of the coast up here on the lakes-but I do not say he has any
gift for the ocean, for there he has never been tried."
Cap smiled condescendingly, but he did not think it necessary to push
his criticisms any farther just at that moment. His air and manner
gradually became more supercilious and lofty, though he now wished to
seem indifferent to any discussions on points of which one of the parties
was entirely ignorant. By this time the cutter had begun to drift at the
mercy of the currents of the lake, her head turning in all directions, though
slowly, and not in a way to attract particular attention. Jast at this
moment the jib was loosened and hoisted, and presently the canvas swelled
towards the land, though no evidences of air were yet to be seen on the
surface of the water. Slight, however, as was the impulsion, the light hull
yielded, and, in another minute, the Scud was seen standing across the
current of the river, with a movement so easy and moderate as to be
scarcely perceptible. When out of the stream she struck an eddy, and shot
up towards the land, under the eminence where the fort stood, when Jasper
dropped his kedge.
"Not lubberly done," muttered Cap, in a sort of soliloquy, "not over-
lubberly, though he should have put his helm a-starboard instead of a-port,
for a vessel ought always to come-to with her head off shore, whether she
is a league from the land, or only a cable's length, since it his a careful
look; and looks are something in this world."
58 THE PA THFINDER.
"Jasper is a handy lad," suddenly observed Sergeant Dunham, at his
brother-in-law's elbow; "and we place great reliance on his skill in our
expeditions. But come, one and all, we have but half an hour more of
daylight to embark in, and the boats will be ready for us by the time we
are ready for them."
On this intimation the whole party separated, each to find those trifles
which had not been shipped already. A few taps of the drum gave the
necessary signal to the soldiers, and in a minute all were in motion.
THE embarkation of so small a party was a matter of no great delay or
embarrassment. The whole force confided to the care of Sergeant Dunham
consisted of but ten privates, and two non-commissioned officers, though it
was soon positively known that Mr. Muir was to accompany the expedition.
The quarter-master, however, went as a volunteer, while some duty con-
nected with his own department, as had been arranged between him and
his commander, was the avowed object. To these must be added the Path-
finder and Cap, with Jasper and his subordinates, one of whom was a boy.
The males of the entire party, consequently, consisted of fewer than twenty
men, and a lad of fourteen. Mabel, and the wife of a common soldier,
were the only women.
Sergeant Dunham carried off his command in a large batteau, and then
returned for his final orders, and to see that his brother-in-law and daughter
were properly attended to. Having pointed out to Cap the boat that he
and Mabel were to use, he ascended the hill to seek his last interview with
Lundie. The major was on the bastion so often mentioned; leaving him
and the sergeant together, for a short time we will return to the beach.
It was nearly dark, when Mabel found herself in the boat that was to
carry her off to the cutter. So very smooth was the surface of the lake,
that it was not found necessary to bring the batteaux into the river to
receive their freights, but the beach outside being totally without surf,
and the water as tranquil as that of a pond, everybody embarked there. As
Cap had said, there was no heaving and setting, no working of vast lungs,
nor any respiration of an ocean; for, on Ontario, unlike the Atlantic, gales
were not agitating the elements at one point, while calms prevailed at
another. This the distances did not permit, and it is the usual remark of
mariners, that the sea got up faster and went down sooner, on all the great
lakes of the west, than on the different seas of their acquaintance. When
the boats left the land, therefore, Mabel would not have known that she
was afloat on so broad a sheet of water, by any movement that is usual in
such circumstances. The oars had barely time to give a dozen strokes,
when the boat lay at the cutter's side.
Jasper was in readiness to receive his passengers, and, as the deck of
the Scud was but two or three feet above the water, no difficulty was experi-
enced in getting on board her. As soon as this was effected, the young
man pointed out to Mabel and her companion the accommodations prepared
for their reception, and they took possession of them. The little vessel
contained four apartments below, all between decks having been expressly
THE PA THFINDER. 59
constructed with a view to the transportation of officers and men, with their
wives and families.
First in rank was what was called the after-cabin, a small apartment that
contained four berths, and which enjoyed the advantage of possessing small
windows for the admission of air and light. This was uniformly devoted
to women, whenever any were on board; and as Mabel and her companion
were alone, they had ample space and accommodation. The main-cabin was
larger, and lighted from above. It was now appropriated to the uses of
the quarter-master, the sergeant, Cap, and Jasper; the Pathfinder roaming
through any part of the cutter he pleased, the women's apartment excepted.
The corporals and common soldiers occupied the space beneath the main
hatch, which had a deck for such a purpose; while the crew were berthed,
as usual, in the forecastle. Although the cutter did not measure quite
fifty tons, the draft of officers and men was so light that there was ample
room for all on board, there being space enough to accommodate treble the
number, if necessary.
As soon as Mabel had taken possession of her own really comfortable
and pretty cabin, in doing which she could not abstain from indulging in
the pleasant reflection that some of Jasper's favour had been especially
manifested in her behalf, she went on deck again. Here all was momen-
tarily in motion; the men were roving to and fro, in quest of their knap-
sacks and other effects ; but method and habit soon reduced things to order,
when the stillness on board became even imposing, for it was connected
with the idea of future adventure and ominous preparation.
Darkness was now beginning to render objects on shore indistinct, the
whole of the land forming one shapeless black outline, of even forest
summits, that was to be distinguished from the impending heavens only by
the greater light of the sky. The stars, however, soon began to appear in
the latter, one after another, in their usual mild, placid lustre, bringing
with them that sense of quiet which ordinarily accompanies night. There
was something soothing, as well as exciting in such a scene; and Mabel,
who was seated on the quarter-deck, sensibly felt both influences. The
Pathfinder was standing near her, leaning, as usual, on his long rifle,
and she fancied that, through the growing darkness of the hour, she could
trace even stronger lines of thought than usual in his rugged countenance.
"To you, Pathfinder, expeditions like this can be no great novelty," she
said, though I am surprised to find how silent and thoughtful the men
appear to be."
We learn this, by making war ag'in Indians. Your militia are great
talkers, and little doers, in general; but the soldier who has often met the
Mingos, learns to know the value of a prudent tongue. A silent army, in
the woods, is doubly strong; and a noisy one doubly weak. If tongues
made soldiers, the women of a camp would generally carry the day."
But we are neither an army, nor in the woods. There can be no danger
of Mingos in the Scud."
Ask Jasper how he got to be master of this cutter, and you will find
yourself answered, as to that opinion No one is safe from a Mingo, who
does not understand his very natur'; and even then he must act up to his
own knowledge, and that closely. Ask Jasper how he got command of this
very cutter! "
"And how did he get the command ? inquired Mabel, with an earnest-
ness and an interest that delighted her simple-minded and true-hearted
60 THE PATHFINDER.
companion, who was neverbetter pleased than when he had an opportunity of
saying aught in favour of a friend. It is honourable to him that he has
reached this station, while yet so young."
That is it-but he deserved it all, and more. A frigate wouldn't have
been too much to pay for so much spirit and coolness, had there been
such a thing on Ontario, as there is not, however, or likely to be."
"But Jasper-you have not yet told me how he got the command of the
It is a long story, Mabel; and one your father, the sergeant, can tell
much better than I, for he was present, while I was off on a distant
scouting. Jasper is not good at a story, I will own that; I've heard him
questioned about this affair, and he never made a good tale of it, although
everybody knows it was a good thing. No-no-Jasper is not good at a
story, as his best friends must own. The Scud had near fallen into the
hands of the French and the Mingos, when Jasper saved her, in a way
that none but a quick-witted mind and a bold heart would have attempted.
The sergeant will tell the tale better than I can, and I wish you to
question him some day, when nothing better offers. As for Jasper himself,
there will be no use in worrying the lad, since he will make a bungling
matter of it, for he don't know how to give a story at all."
Mabel determined to ask her father to repeat the incidents of the
affair that very night, for it struck her young fancy that nothing better
could well offer than to listen to the praises of one who was a bad
historian of his own exploits.
Will the Scud remain with us when we reach the island ? she asked,
after a little hesitation about the propriety of the question, or shall we
be left to ourselves? "
That's as may be. Jasper does not often keep the cutter idle, when
anything is to be done, and we may expect activity on his part. My
gifts, however, run so little towards the water, and vessels, generally,
unless it be among rapids and falls, and in canoes, that I pretend to
know nothing about it. We shall have all right, under Jasper, I make
no doubt, who can find a trail on Ontario, as well as a Delaware can find
one on the land."
"And our own Delaware, Pathfinder-the Big Serpent-why is he not
with us to-night ? "
Your question would have been more natural had you said, why are
you here, Pathfinder ? The Sarpent is in his place, while I am not in mine.
He is out, with two or three more, scouting the lake shores, and will join
us down among the islands, with the tidings he may gather. The sergeant
is too good a soldier to forget his rear, while he is facing the enemy in
front! It's a thousand pities, Mabel, your father wasn't born a general,
as some of the English are who come among us, for I feel sartain he
wouldn't leave a Frencher in the Canadas a week, could he have his own
way with them."
Shall we have enemies to face in front ? asked Mabel, smiling, and
for the first time feeling a slight apprehension about the danger of the
expedition. "Are we like to have an engagement?"
"If we have, Mabel, there will be men enough ready and willing to
stand between you and harm. But you are a soldier's daughter, and we
all know, have the spirit of one. Don't let the fear of a battle keep your
pretty eyes from sleeping."
THE PATHFINDER. 61
"I do feel braver, out here in the woods, Pathfinder, than I ever felt
before, amid the weaknesses of the towns, although I have always tried to
remember what I owe to my dear father."
"Ay, your mother was so before you! 'You will find Mabel, like her
mother, no screamer, or a faint-hearted girl, to trouble a man in his need,
out one who would encourage her mate, and help to keep his heart up,
when sorest pressed by danger,'-said the sergeant to me, before I ever
laid eyes on that sweet countenance of yours,-he did! "
"And why should my father have told you this, Pathfinder? the girl
demanded a little earnestly. Perhaps he fancied you would think the
better of me if you did not believe me a silly coward, as so many of my sex
love to make themselves appear."
Deception, unless it were at the expense of his enemies in the field-nay,
concealment of even a thought, was so little in accordance with the Path-
finder's very nature, that he was not a little embarrassed by this simple
question. To own the truth openly, he felt, by a sort of instinct for which
it would have puzzled him to account, would not be proper; and to hide it
agreed with neither his sense of right nor his habits. In such a strait he
involuntarily took refuge in a middle course, not revealing that which he
fancied ought not to be told, nor yet absolutely concealing it.
"You must know, Mabel," he said, "that the Sergeant and I are old
friends, and have stood side by side-or, if not actually side by side, I a
little in advance as became a scout, and your father, with his own men, as
better suited a soldier of the king-on many a hard fou't and bloody day.
It's the way of us skirmishers to think little of the fight when the rifle has
done cracking; and at night, around our fires, or on our marches, we talk
of the things we love, just as you young women convarse about your fancies
and opinions when you get together to laugh over your idees. Now, it was
natural that the Sergeant, having such a daughter as you, should love her
better than anything else, and that he should talk of her oftener than of any-
thing else-while I, having neither daughter, nor sister, nor mother,
nor kith nor kin, nor anything but the Delawares to love, I naturally
chimed in, as it were, and got to love you, Mabel, before I ever saw you-
yes, I did-just by talking about you so much."
And now you have seen me," returned the smiling girl, whose unmoved
and natural manner proved how little she was thinking of anything more
than parental or fraternal regard, you are beginning to see the folly of
forming friendships for people before you know anything about them,
except by hearsay."
It wasn't friendship-it isn't friendship, Mabel, that I feel for you. I
am the friend of the Delawares, and have been so from boyhood; but my
feelings for them, or for the best of them, are not the same as those I got
from the sergeant for you; and especially now that I begin to know you
better. I'm sometimes afear'd it isn't wholesome for one who is much
occupied in a very manly calling, like that of a guide, or a scout, or a
soldier even, to form friendships for women-young women in particular-
as they seem to me to lessen the love of enterprise, and to turn the feelings
away from their gifts and natural occupations."
You surely do not mean, Pathfinder, that a friendship for a girl like
me would make you less bold and more unwilling to meet the French than
you were before? "
"Not so-not so. With you in danger, for instance, I fear I might
62 THE PATHFINDER.
become foolhardy; but before we became so intimate, as I may say, I loved
to think of my scouting, and of my marches, and out-lyings, and fights,
and other adventures; but now my mind cares less about them: I think
more of the barracks, and of evenings passed in discourse, of feelings in
which there are no wranglings and bloodshed, and of young women and
of their laughs, and their cheerful soft voices, their pleasant looks, and
their winning ways! I sometimes tell the sergeant that he and his daughter
will be the spoiling of one of the best and most experienced scouts on the
"Not they, Pathfinder; they will try to make that which is already so
excellent, perfect. You do not know us if you think that either wishes to
see you in the least changed. Remain, as at present, the same honest,
upright, conscientious, fearless, intelligent, trustworthy guide, that you
are, and neither my dear father nor myself can ever think of you differently
from what we now do."
It was too dark for Mabel to note the workings of the countenance of
her listener, but her own sweet face was turned towards him as she spoke
with an energy equal to her frankness, in a way to show how little em-
barrassed were her thoughts, and how sincere were her words. Her
countenance was a little flushed, it is true, but it was with earnestness and
truth of feeling; though no nerve thrilled, no limb trembled, no pulsation
quickened. In short, her manner and appearance were those of a sincere-
minded and frank girl, making such a declaration of good-will and regard
for one of the other sex as she felt that his services and good qualities
merited, without any of the emotion that invariably accompanies the con-
sciousness of an inclination which might lead to softer disclosures.
The Pathfinder was too unpractised, however, to enter into distinctions
of this kind, and his humble nature was encouraged by the directness and
strength of the words he had just heard. Unwilling, if not unable to say
any more, he walked away and stood leaning on his rifle and looking up at
the stars for quite ten minutes in profound silence.
In the meanwhile, the interview on the bastion, to which we have already
alluded, took place between Lundie and the sergeant.
Have the men's knapsacks been examined ? demanded Major Duncan
after he had cast his eye at a written report, handed to him by the sergeant,
but which it was too dark to read.
All, your honour; and all are right."
"The ammunition-arms- ? "
"All in order, Major Duncan, and fit for any service."
You have the men named in my own draft, Dunham ?"
"Without an exception, sir. Better men could not be found in the
You have need of the best of our men, sergeant. This experiment has
now been tried three times; always under one of the ensigns, who have
flattered me with success, but have as often failed. After so much pre-
paration and expense, I do not like to abandon the project entirely; but
this will be the last effort, and the result will mainly depend on you and on
"You may count on us both, Major Duncan. The duty you have given
us is not above our habits and experience, and I think it will be well done.
I know that the Pathfinder will not be wanting."
On that, indeed, it will be safe to rely. He is a most extraordinary
THE PATHFINDER. 63
man, Dunham-one who long puzzled me; but who, now that I understand.
him, commands as much of my respect as any general in His Majesty's
"I was in hopes, sir, that you would come to look at the proposed
marriage with Mabel as a thing I ought to wish and forward."
"As for that, sergeant, time will show," returned Lundie, smiling;
though here, too, the obscurity concealed the nicer shades of expression-
one woman is sometimes more difficult to manage than a whole regiment
of men. By the way, you know that your would-be son-in-law, the
quarter-master, will be of the party; and I trust you will at least give
him an equal chance in the trial for your daughter's smiles."
"If respect for his rank, sir, did not cause me to do this, your honour's
wish would be sufficient."
"I thank you, sergeant. We have served much together, and ought to
value each other in our several stations. Understand me, however; I ask
no more for Davy Muir than a clear field and no favour. In love, as in war,
each man must gain his own victories. Are you certain that the rations
have been properly calculated ? "
"I'll answer for it, Major Duncan; but if they were not, we cannot
suffer with two such hunters as Pathfinder and the Serpent in company."
"You have no doubt of the skill of this Jasper Eau.douce? "
The boy has been tried, sir, and found equal to-all that can be required
"He has a French name, and has passed much of his boyhood in the
French colonies: has he French blood in his veins, sergeant ? "
Not a drop, your honour. Jasper's father was an old comrade of my
own, and his mother came of an honest and loyal family in this very
How came he then so much among the French, and whence his name ?
He speaks the language of the Canadas, too, I find !"
"That is easily explained, Major Duncan. The boy was left under the
care of one of our mariners in the old war, and he took to the water like a
duck. Your honour knows that we have no ports on Ontario that can be
named as such, and he naturally passed most of his time on the other side
of the lake, where the French have had a few vessels these fifty years. He
learned to speak their language, as a matter of course, and got his name
from the Indians and Canadians, who are fond of calling men by their
qualities as it might be."
A French master is but a poor instructor for a British sailor, notwith-
"I beg your pardon, sir; Jasper Eau-douce was brought up under a
real English seaman; one that had sailed under the King's pennant, and
may be called a thorough-bred: that is to say, a subject born in the
colonies, but none the worse at his trade, I hope, Major Duncan, for
"Perhaps not, sergeant; perhaps not; nor any better. This Jasper
behaved well, too, when I gave him the command of the Scud; no lad
could have conducted himself more loyally or better."
Or more bravely, Major Duncan. I am sorry to see, sir, that you have
doubts as to the fidelity of Jasper."
It is the duty of the soldier who is intrusted with the care of a distant
and important post like this, Dunham, never to relax his vigilance. We
64 THE PATHFINDER.
have two of the most artful enemies that the world has ever produced, in
their several ways, to contend with-the Indians and the French: and
nothing should be overlooked that can lead to injury."
I hope your honour considers me fit to be entrusted with any particular
reason that may exist for doubting Jasper, since you have seen fit to intrust
me with this command ? "
It is not that I doubt you, Dunham, that I hesitate to reveal all I may
happen to know, but from a strong reluctance to circulate an evil report of
one whom I have hitherto thought well. You must think well of the
Pathfinder, or you would not wish to give him your daughter ? "
For the Pathfinder's honesty I will answer with my life, sir," returned
the sergeant, firmly, and not without a dignity of manner that struck his
superior. Such a man doesn't know how to be false."
I believe you are right, Dunham, and yet this last information has un-
settled all my old opinions. I have received an anonymous communication,
sergeant, advising me to be on my guard against Jasper Western or Jasper
Eau-douce, as he is called; who, it alleges, has been bought by the enemy,
and giving me reason to expect that further and more precise information
will soon be sent."
"Letters without signatures to them, sir, are scarcely to be regarded in
Or in peace, Dunham. No one can entertain a lower opinion of the
writer of an anonymous letter, in ordinary matters, than myself. The very
act denotes cowardice, meanness, and baseness ; and it usually is a token
of falsehood, as well as of other vices. But, in matters of war, it is not
exactly the same thing. Besides, several suspicious circumstances have
been pointed out to me-"
Such as is fit for an orderly to hear, your honour ? "
Certainly, one in whom I confide as much as in yourself, Dunham. It
is said, for instance, that your daughter and her party were permitted to
escape the Iroquois, when they came in, merely to give Jasper credit with
me. I am told that the gentry at Frontenac will care more for the capture
of the Scud, with Sergeant Dunham and a party of men, together with the
defeat of our favourite plan, than for the capture of a girl, and the 'scalp
of her uncle."
I understand the hint, sir, but I do not give it credit. Jasper can
hardly be true, and Pathfinder false; and, as for the last, I would as soon
distrust your honour as distrust him! "
It would seem so, sergeant; it would indeed seem so. But Jasper is
not the Pathfinder after all, and I will own, Dunham, I should put more
faith in the lad if he didn't speak French "
It's no recommendation in my eyes, I assure your honour; but the boy
learned it by compulsion, as it were, and ought not to be condemned too
hastily for the circumstance, by your honour's leave. If he does speak
French, it's because he can't well help it."
"It's a d- d lingo, and never did any one good-at least no British
subject; for I suppose the French themselves must talk together, in some
language or other. I should have much more faith in this Jasper, did he
know nothing of their language. This letter has made me uneasy; and,
were there another to whom I could trust the cutter, I would devise some
means to detain him here. I have spoken to you already of a brother-in-
law who goes with you, sergeant, and who is a sailor ? "
THE PA THFINDER. 65
A real seafaring man, your honour, and somewhat prejudiced against
freshwater. I doubt whether he could be induced to risk his character
on a lake, and I'm certain he never could find the station."
The last is probably true, and then the man cannot know enough of this
treacherous lake to be fit for the employment! You will have to be doubly
vigilant, Dunham. I give you full powers, and should you detect this
Jasper in any treachery, make him a sacrifice at once to offended justice."
"Being in the service of the crown, your honour, he is amenable to
martial law- "
"Very true-then iron him, from his head to his heels, and send him up
here, in his own cutter. That brother-in-law of yours must be able to find
the way back, after he has just travelled the road."
I make no doubt, Major Duncan, we shall be able to do all that will
be necessary should Jasper turn out as you seem to anticipate; though, I
think I would risk my life on his truth."
"I like your confidence; it speaks well for the fellow-but that infernal
letter !-There is such an air of truth about it-nay, there is so much truth
in it, touching other matters-"
"I think your honour said it wanted the name at the bottom; a great
omission for an honest man to make."
"Quite right, Dunham; and no one but a rascal, and a cowardly rascal
in the bargain, would write an anonymous letter, on private affairs. It is
different, however, in war. Despatches are feigned, and artifice is generally
allowed to be justifiable."
Military, manly artifices, sir, if you will; such as ambushes, surprises,
feints, false attacks, and even spies; but I never heard of a true soldier
who could wish to undermine the character of an honest young man by
such means as these! "
"I have met with many strange events, and some stranger people, in the
course of my experience. But fare-you-well, sergeant; I must detain you
no longer. You are now on your guard, and I recommend to you untiring
vigilance. T think Muir means shortly to retire, and should you fully
succeed in this enterprise, my influence will not be wanting in endeavour-
ing to put you in the vacancy, to which you have many claims "
"I humbly thank your honour," coolly returned the sergeant, who had
been encouraged in this manner, any time for the twenty preceding years,
"and hope I shall never disgrace my station, whatever it may be. I am
what nature and Providence have made me, and hope I am satisfied."
You have not forgotten the howitzer ? "
"Jasper took it on board this morning, sir."
"Be wary, and do not trust that man unnecessarily. Make a confidant
of Pathfinder at once; he may be of service in detecting any villany that
may be stirring. His simple honesty will favour his observation, by con-
cealing it, He must be true."
For him, sir, my own head shall answer, or even my rank in the regi-
ment. I have seen him too often tried to doubt him."
Of all wretched sensations, Dunham, distrust, where one is compelled
to confide, is the most painful. You have bethought you of the spare
flints ? "
A sergeant is a safe commander for all such details, your honour."
Well, then, give me your hand, Dunham. God bless you, and may
you be successful."
66 THE PATHFINDER.
The sergeant took the extended hand of his superior with proper respect,
and they finally parted; Lundie hastening into his own moveable abode,
while the other left the fort, descended to the beach, and got into a boat.
The Scud's kedge was lifted as soon as the boat with the sergeant, who
was the last person expected, was seen to quit the shore, and the head of
the cutter was cast to the eastward by means of the sweeps. A few vigo-
rous strokes of the latter, in which the soldiers aided, now sent the light
craft into the line of the current that flowed from the river, when she was
suffered to drift into the offing again. As yet, there was no wind, the
light and almost imperceptible air from the lake, that had existed previously
to the setting of the sun, having entirely failed.
All this time an unusual quiet prevailed in the cutter. It appeared as if
those on board of her felt that they were entering upon an uncertain enter-
prise, in the obscurity of night, and that their duty, the hour, and the
manner of their departure lent a solemnity to their movements. Discipline
also came in aid of these feelings. Most were silent, and those who did
speak, spoke seldom and in low voices. In this manner the cutter set
slowly out into the lake, until she had got as far as the river current would
carry her, when sh became stationary, waiting for the usual land-breeze.
An interval of half an hour followed, during the whole of which time the
Scud lay as motionless as a log, floating on the water. While the little
changes just mentioned were occurring in the situation of the vessel, not-
withstanding the general quiet that prevailed, all conversation had not
been repressed; for Sergeant Dunham, having first ascertained that both .
his daughter and her female companion were on the quarter-deck, led the
Pathfinder to the after-cabin, where, closing the door with great caution,
and otherwise making certain he was beyond the reach of eavesdroppers,
he commenced as follows:-
"It is now many years, my friend, since you began to experience the
hardships and dangers of the woods in my company."
"It is, sergeant; yes, it is. I sometimes fear I am too old for Mabel,
who was not born until you and I had fought the Frenchers as com-
No fear on that account, Pathfinder. I was near your age before I
prevailed on the mind of her mother; and Mabel is a steady, thoughtful
girl; one that will regard character more than anything else. A lad like
Jasper Eau-douce, for instance, will have no chance with her, though he is
both young and comely."
Does Jasper think of marrying ? inquired the guide, simply, but
I should hope not-at least, not until he has satisfied every one of his
fitness to possess a wife."
"Jasper is a gallant boy, and one of great gifts in his way; he may
claim a wife, as well as another."
To be frank with you, Pathfinder, I brought you here to talk about
this very youngster. Major Duncan has received some information which
has led him to suspect that Eau-douce is false, and in the pay of the enemy;
I wish to hear your opinion on the subject."
"I say the major.suspects Jasper of being a traitor-a French spy-or,
what is worse, of being bought to betray us. He has received a letter to
this effect, and has been charging me to keep an eye on the boy's move-
THE PA THFINDER. 67
ments, for he fears we shall meet with enemies when we least suspect it,
and by his means."
Duncan of Lundie has told you this, Sergeant Dunham ? "
"He has, indeed, Pathfinder; and though I have been loath to believe
anything to the injury of Jasper, I have a feeling which tells me I ought to
distrust him. Do you believe in presentiments, my friend ? "
In what, sergeant ?"
"Presentiments-a sort of secret foreknowledge of events that are about
to happen. The Scotch of our regiment are great sticklers for such things;
and my opinion of Jasper is changing so fast, that I begin to fear there
must be some truth in their doctrines."
But you've been talking with Duncan of Lundie concerning Jasper, and
his words have raised misgivings."
"Not it-not so, in the least. For, while conversing with the major, my
feelings were altogether the other way; and I endeavoured to convince him
all I could, that he did the boy injustice. But there is no use in holding
out against a presentiment, I find, and I fear there is something in the
suspicion, after all."
"I know nothing of presentiments, sergeant, but I have known Jasper
Eau-douce since he was a boy, and I have as much faith in his honesty as
I have in my own, or that of the Sarpent himself."
But the Serpent, Pathfinder, has his tricks and ambushes in war as
well as another! "
"Ay, them are his natural gifts, and are such as belong to his people.
Neither red-skin nor pale-face can deny natur'; but Chingachgook is not
a man to feel a presentiment against."
"That I believe, nor should I have thought ill of Jasper this very
morning. It seems to me, Pathfinder, since I've taken up this presenti-
ment, that the lad does not bustle about his deck naturally, as he used to
do; but that he is silent, and moody, and thoughtful, like a man who has
a load on his conscience."
"Jasper is never noisy, and he tells me noisy ships are generally ill-
worked ships. Master Cap agrees in this, too. No-no-I will believe
nought against Jasper until I see it. Send for your brother, sergeant, and
let us question him in this matter; for to sleep with distrust of one's friend
in the heart, is like sleeping with lead there. I have no faith in your
The sergeant, though he scarcely knew himself with what object, com-
plied, and Cap was summoned to join in the consultation. As Pathfinder
was more collected than his companion, and felt so strong a conviction
of the good faith of the party accused, he assumed the office of spokes-
We have asked you to come down, Master Cap," he commenced, "in
order to inquire whether you have remarked anything out of the common
way in the movements of Eau-douce, this evening."
His movements are common enough, I dare say, for fresh water, Master
Pathfinder, though we should think most of his proceedings irregular down
on the coast."
Yes, yes-we know you will never agree with the lad about the manner
the cutter ought to be managed; but it is on another point we wish your
The Pathfinder then explained to Cap the nature of the suspicions which
68 THE PATHFINDER.
the sergeant entertained, and the reasons why they had been excited, as far
as the latter had been communicated by Major Duncan.
The youngster talks French, does he ? said Cap.
"They say he speaks it better than common," returned the sergeant,
gravely. "Pathfinder knows this to be true."
"I'll not gainsay it-I'll not gainsay it," answered the guide; at least
they tell me such is the fact. But this would prove nothing ag'in' a
Mississagua, and least of all ag'in' one like Jasper. I speak the Mingo
dialect myself, having learnt it while a prisoner among the reptyles; but
who will say I am their friend ?-Not that I am an enemy, either, according
to Indian notions; though I am their enemy, I will admit, agreeable to
Ay, Pathfinder, but Jasper did not get his French as a prisoner: he
took it in boyhood, when the mind is easily impressed and gets its perma-
nent notions; when nature has a presentiment, as it were, which way the
character is likely to incline."
A very just remark," added Cap,." for that is the time of life when we
all learn the catechism, and other moral improvements. The sergeant's
observation shows that he understands human nature, and I agree with
him perfectly; it is a damnable thing for a youngster up here, on this bit
of fresh water, to talk French. If it were down on the Atlantic, now,
where a seafaring man has occasion sometimes to converse with a pilot, or
a linguister in that language, I should not think so much of it, though we
always look with suspicion, even there, at a shipmate who knows too much
of the tongue; but up here, on Ontario, I hold it to be a most suspicious
"But Jasper must talk in French to the people on the other shore,"
said Pathfinder, "or hold his tongue, as there are none but French to
You don't mean to tell me, Pathfinder, that France lies hereaway, on
the opposite coast? cried Cap, jerking a thumb over his shoulder in the
direction of the Canadas; "that one side of this bit of fresh water is York,
and the other France! "
I mean to tell you this is York, and that is Upper Canada; and that
English, and Dutch, and Indian are spoken in the first, and French and
Indian in the last. Even the Mingos have got many of the French words
in their dialect, and it is no improvement, neither."
"Very true; and what sort of people are the Mingos, my friend?"
inquired the sergeant, touching the other on the shoulder, by way of
enforcing a remark, the inherent truth of which sensibly increased its value
in the eyes of the speaker-" No one knows them better than yourself, and
I ask you what sort of tribe are they ? "
"Jasper is no Mingo, Sergeant."
He speaks French, and he might as well be, in that particular. Brother
Cap, can you recollect no movement of this unfortunate young man, m the
way of his calling, that would seem to denote treachery ? "
"Now I recollect me," continued Cap, "there was a circumstance, just
after we came on board this evening, that is extremely suspicious, and
which may be set down at once, as a make-weight against this lad. Jasper
bent on the king's ensign with his own hands, and while he pretended to
be looking at Mabel and the soldier's wife, giving directions about showing
them below, here, and all that, he got the flag union down "
THE PATHFINDER. 69
"That might have been accident," returned the sergeant, "for such a
thing has happened to myself; besides, the halyards lead to a pully, and
the flag would have come, or not, according to the manner in which the lad
"Well, for my part," said Pathfinder, drawing a heavy sigh, "I shall
cling to the hope of Jasper's innocence, and recommend plain dealing, by
asking the lad himself, without further delay, whether he is, or is not, a
traitor. I'll put Jasper Western against all the presentiments and circum-
stances in the colony."
"That will never do," rejoined the sergeant. "The responsibility of
this affair rests with me, and I request and enjoin that nothing be said to
any one, without my knowledge. We will all keep watchful eyes about us,
and take proper note of circumstances."
Ay-ay-circumstances are the things, after all," returned Cap. One
circumstance is worth fifty facts. That I know to be the law of this realm.
Many a man has been hanged on circumstances."
The conversation now ceased, and after a short delay, the whole party
returned to the deck, each individual disposed to view the conduct of the
suspected Jasper in the manner most suited to his own habits and
ALL this time, matters were elsewhere passing in their usual train.
Jasper, like the weather, and his vessel, seemed to be waiting for the land-
breeze; while the soldiers, accustomed to early rising, had, to a man, sought
their pallets in a main hole. None remained on deck but the people of the
cutter, Mr. Muir, and the two women. The quarter-master was endeavour-
ing to render himself agreeable to Mabel, while our heroine herself, little
affected by his assiduities, which she ascribed partly to the habitual
gallantry of a soldier, and partly, perhaps, to her own pretty face, was
enjoying the peculiarities of a scene and situation, that, to her, were full of
the charms of novelty.
The sails had been hoisted, but as yet not a breath of air was in motion,
and so still and placid was the lake, that not the smallest motion was per-
ceptible in the cutter. She had drifted in the river current to a distance a
little exceeding a quarter of a mile from the land, and there she lay, beautiful
in her symmetry and form, but like a fixture. Young Jasper was on the
quarter-deck, near enough to hear occasionally the conversation which
passed, but too diffident of his own claim, and too intent on his duties, to
attempt to mingle in it. The fine blue eyes of Mabel followed his motions
in curious expectation, and more than once the quarter-master had to
repeat his compliments ere she heard them, so intent was she on the little
occurrences of the vessel, and, we might add, so indifferent to the eloquence
of her companion. At last even Mr. Muir became silent, and there was a
deep stillness on the water. Presently, an oar-blade fell in a boat, beneath
the fort, and the sound reached the cutter as distinctly as if it had been
produced on her deck. Then came a murmur, like a sigh of the night, a
fluttering of the canvas, the creaking of the boom, and the flap of the jib.
These well-known sounds were followed by a slight heel in the cutter, and
by the bellying of all the sails.
70 THE PA THFINDER.
"Here's the wind, Anderson," called out Jasper to the oldest of his
sailors; "take the helm."
This brief order was obeyed; the helm was put up, the cutter's bows
fell off, and, in a few minutes, the water was heard murmuring under her
head as the Scud glanced through the lake at the rate of five miles'in the
hour. All this passed in profound silence, when Jasper again gave the
order to ease off the sheets a little, and keep her along the land."
It was at this instant that the party from the after-cabin reappeared on
You've no inclination, Jasper, lad, to trust yourself too near our neigh-
bours, the French," observed Muir, who took that occasion to recommence
the discourse. "Well, well, your prudence will never be questioned by
me, for I like the Canadas as little as you can possibly like them yourself."
"I hug this shore, Mr. Muir, on account of the wind. The land-breeze
is always freshest close in, provided you are not so near as to make a lee
of the trees. We have Mexico Bay to cross, and that on the present course,
will give us quite offing enough."
I'm right glad it's not the Bay of Mexico," put in Cap, which is a
part of the world I would rather not visit in one of your inland craft.
Does your cutter bear a weather helm, Master Eau-douce ? "
"She is easy on her rudder, Master Cap, but likes looking up at the
breeze as well as another, when in lively motion."
I suppose you have such things as reefs, though you can hardly have
occasion to use them ? "
Mabel's bright eye detected the smile that gleamed for an instant on
Jasper's handsome face, but no one else saw that momentary exhibition of
surprise and contempt.
We have reefs, and often have occasion to use them," quietly returned
the young man. "Before we get in, Master Cap, an opportunity may offer
to show you the manner in which we do so, for there is easterly weather
brewing, and the wind cannot chop, even on the ocean itself, more readily
than it flies round on Lake Ontario."
"So much for knowing no better! I have seen the wind, in the Atlantic,
fly round like a coach-wheel, in a way to keep your sails shaking for an
hour, and the ship would become perfectly motionless from not knowing
which way to turn."
We have no such sudden charges here, certainly," Jasper mildly
answered-" though we think ourselves liable to unexpected shifts of wind.
I hope, however, to carry this land-breeze as far as the first islands; after
which, there will be less danger of our being seen and followed by any of
the look-out boats from Frontenac."
"Do you think the French keep spies out on the broad lake, Jasper,"
We know they do; one was off Oswego during the night of Monday
last. A bark canoe came close in with the eastern point, and landed an
Indian and an officer. Had you been out-lying that night as usual, we
should have secured one, if not both of them."
It was too dark to betray the colour that deepened on the weather-burnt
features of the guide, for he felt the consciousness of having lingered in
the fort that night, listening to the sweet tones of Mabel's voice, as she
sang ballads to her father, and gazing at a countenance that, to him, was
radiant with charms. Probity, in thought and deed, being the dis-
THE PA THFINDER.
tinguishing quality of this extraordinary man's mind, while he felt a sort of
disgrace ought to attach to his idleness on the occasion mentioned, the
last thought that could occur would be to attempt to palliate or deny his
I confess it, Jasper, I confess it," he said, humbly. Had I been out
that night-and I now recollect no sufficient reason why I was not-it
might, indeed, have turned out as you say."
It was the evening you passed with us, Pathfinder," Mabel innocently
remarked; surely one who lives so much of his time in the forest, in front
of the enemy, may be excused for giving a few hours of his time to an old
friend and his daughter."
Nay, nay, I've done little else but idle since we reached the garrison,"
returned the other, sighing; and it is well that the lad should tell me of
it; the idler needs a rebuke-yes, he needs a rebuke."
Rebuke, Pathfinder I never dreamed of saying anything disagreeable,
and least of all would I think of rebuking you, because a solitary spy and
an Indian or two have escaped us? Now I know where you were, I think
your absence the most natural thing in the world."
"I think nothing of it, Jasper. I think nothing of what you said, since
it was deserved. We are all human, and all do wrong."
"This is unkind, Pathfinder."
"Give me your hand, lad, give me your hand. It wasn't you that gave
the lesson; it was conscience."
Well, well," interrupted Cap, "now this latter matter is settled to the
satisfaction of all parties, perhaps you will tell us how it happened to be
known that there were spies near us so lately. This looks amazingly
like a circumstance!"
As the mariner uttered the last sentence he pressed a foot slyly on that
of the sergeant, and nudged the guide with his elbow, winking at the
same time, though this sign was lost in the obscurity.
"It is known because the trail was found next day by the Serpent,
and it was that of a military boot and a moccasin. One of our
hunters, moreover, saw the canoe crossing towards Frontenac next
Did the trail lead near the garrison, Jasper," Pathfinder asked, in a
manner so meek and subdued that it resembled the tone of a rebuked
school-boy. Did the trail lead near the garrison, lad ? "
We thought not-though, of course, it did not cross the river. It was
followed down to the eastern point, at the river's mouth, where what was
doing in port might be seen; but it did not cross, as we could discover."
And why didn't you get under way, Master Jasper," Cap demanded,
" and give chase ? On Tuesday morning it blew a good breeze; one in ,
which this cutter might have run nine knots."
That may do on the ocean, Master Cap," put in Pathfinder, but it
would not do here. Water leaves no trail, and a Mingo and a Frenchman
are a match for the devil in a pursuit."
Who wants a trail when the chase can be seen from the deck, as Jasper
here said was the case with this canoe ? and it mattered nothing if there
were twenty of your Mingos and Frenchmen with a good British-built
bottom in their wake. I'll engage, Master Eau-douce, had you given me a
call that said Tuesday morning that we should have overhauled the black-
72 THE PA THFINVDER.
"I dare say, Master Cap, that the advice of as old a seaman as you
might have done no harm to as young a sailor as myself, but it is a long
and a hopeless chase that has a bark canoe in it."
"You would have had only to press it hard to drive it ashore."
"Ashore, Master Cap You do not understand our lake navigation at
all if you suppose it an easy matter to force a bark canoe ashore. As
soon as they find themselves pressed these bubbles paddle right into the
wind's eye, and before you know it you find yourself a mile or two dead
under their lea."
S "You don't wish me
to believe, Master Jas-
Adnper, that any one is so
Seedless of drowning
ws -i. eas to put off into this
c-y lake in one of them
--egg-shells when there is
I have often crossed
S Ontario in a bark canoe,
Jasper-- r- even when there has
been a good deal of sea
on. Well managed
they are the driest boats
of which we have any
Cap now led his
Pathfinder aside, when
he assured him that the
admission of Jasper
concerning the spies
was a circumstance,"
and "a strong circum-
stance," and as such it
deserved his deliberate
investigation; while his
account of the canoes
was so improbable as
." to wear the appearance
of browbeating the lis-
teners. Jasper spoke
confidently of the character of the two individuals who had landed, and
this Cap deemed pretty strong proof that he knew more about them than
was to be gathered from a mere trail. As for moccasins, he said that they
were worn, in that part of the world, by white men as well as by Indians;
he had purchased a pair himself; and boots, it was notorious, did not
particularly make a soldier. Although much of this logic was thrown
away on the sergeant, still it produced some effect.
Sail ho! exclaimed Cap; or boat ho would be nearer the truth."
Jasper ran forward; and, sure enough, a small object was discernible
about a hundred yards ahead of the cutter, and nearly on her lee bow. At
the first glance he saw it was a bark canoe; for, though the darkness pre-
THE PA THFINDER. 73
vented hues from being distinguished, the eye that had got to be accus-
tomed to the night might discern forms at some little distance; and the
eye which, like Jasper's, had long been familiar with things aquatic,
could not be at a loss in discovering the outlines necessary to come to the
-conclusions he did.
This may be an enemy," the young man remarked, and it may be
well to overhaul him."
He is paddling with all his might, lad," observed the Pathfinder, and
means to cross your bows and get to windward, when you might as well
chase a full-grown buck on snow-shoes."
Let her luff !" cried Jasper to the man at the helm. "Luff up till
she shakes-there, steady, and hold all that."
The helmsman complied, and, as the Scud was now dashing the water
aside merrily, a minute or two put the canoe so far to leeward as to
render escape impracticable. Jasper now sprang to the helm himself, and
by judicious and careful handling he got so near his chase that it was
secured by a boat-hook. On receiving an order, the two persons who
were in the canoe left it, and no sooner had they reached the deck of the
cutter than they were found to be Arrowhead and his wife.
THE meeting with the Indian and his wife excited no surprise in the
.majority of those who witnessed the occurrence, but Mabel, and all who
knew of the manner in which this chief had been separated from the party
-of Cap, simultaneously entertained suspicion, which it was far easier to
feel than to follow out by any possible clue to certainty. Pathfinder, who
alone could converse freely with the prisoners, for such they might now
be considered, took Arrowhead aside and held a long conversation with
him concerning the reasons of the latter for having deserted his charge,
.and the manner in which he had been since employed.
The Tuscarora met these inquiries, and he gave his answers, with the
.stoicism of an Indian. As respects the separation, his excuses were very
simply made, and they seemed to be sufficiently plausible. When he
found that the party was discovered in its place of concealment he naturally
sought his own safety, which he secured by plunging into the woods, for
he made no doubt that all who could not effect this much would be
massacred on the spot. In a word, he had run away in order to save his life.
"This is well," returned Pathfinder, affecting to believe the other's
.apologies; "my brother did very wisely; but his woman followed."
"Do not the pale-faces' women follow their husbands? Would not
Pathfinder have looked back to see if one he loved was coming ? "
This appeal was made to the guide while he was in a most fortunate
frame of mind to admit its force; for Mabel and her blandishments and
-constancy were getting to be images familiar to his thoughts. The
Tuscarora, though he could not trace the reason, saw that his excuse was
admitted, and he stood, with great dignity, awaiting the next inquiry.
This is reasonable and natural," returned Pathfinder, in English,
passing from one language to the other, insensibly to himself, as his feel-
dngs or habit dictated, this is natural, and may be so. A woman would
74 THE PATHFINDER.
likely to follow the man to whom she had plighted her faith, and husband
and wife are one flesh. Mabel herself would have been likely to follow
the sergeant had he been present, and retreated in this manner; and, no
doubt, no doubt, the warm-hearted girl would have followed her husband!
Your words are honest, Tuscarora," changing the language to the dialect of
the other. "Your words are honest, and very pleasant, and just. But
why has my brother been so long from the fort? His friends have
thought of him often, but have never seen him "
If the doe follows the buck, ought not the buck to follow the doe ?"
answered the Tuscarora, smiling, as he laid a finger significantly on the
shoulder of his interrogator. "Arrowhead's wife followed Arrowhead;
it was right in Arrowhead to follow his wife. She lost her way, and they
made her cook in a strange wigwam."
"I understand you, Tuscarora. The woman fell into the hands of the
Mingos, and you kept upon their trail.
Pathfinder can see a reason as easily as he can see the moss on the
trees. It is so."
Andhow long have you got the woman back, and in what manner has
it been done ? "
Two suns. The Dew of June was not long in coming when her hus-
band whispered to her the path."
"Well, well, all this seems natural, and according to matrimony. But,
Tuscarora, how did you get that canoe, and why are you paddling towards
the St. Lawrence instead of the garrison ? "
"Arrowhead can tell his own from that of another. This canoe is
mine; I found it on the shore near the fort."
"That sounds reasonable, too, for the canoe does belong to the man,.
and an Indian would make few words about taking it. Still, it is extraor-
dinary that we saw nothing of the fellow and his wife, for the canoe must
have left the river before we did ourselves."
This idea, which passed rapidly through the mind of the guide, was now
put to the Indian in the shape of a question.
"Pathfinder knows that a warrior can have shame. The father would
have asked me for his daughter, and I could not give him to her. I sent.
the Dew of June for the canoe, and no one spoke to the woman. A
Tuscarora woman would not be free in speaking to strange men."
All this, too, was plausible, and in conformity with Indian character and
Indian customs. As was usual, Arrowhead had received one half of his
compensation previous to quitting the Mohawk; and his refraining to
demand the residue was a proof of that conscientious consideration of
mutual rights that quite as often distinguishes the morality of a savage as.
that of a Christian. To one as upright as Pathfinder, Arrowhead had
conducted himself with delicacy and propriety, though it would have
been more in accordance with his own frank nature to have met the father,
and abided by the simple truth. Still, accustomed to the ways of Indians,
he saw nothing out of the ordinary track of things in the course the other
This runs like water flowing down hill, Arrowhead," he answered,
after a little reflection, and truth obliges me to own it. It was the gift.
of a red-skin to act in this way, though I do not think it was the gift of a.
pale-face. You would not look upon the grief of the girl's father ?"
Arrowhead made a quiet inclination of the body as if to assent.
THE PA THFINDER.
One thing more my brother will tell me," continued Pathfinder, "and
there will be no cloud between his wigwam and the strong-house of the
Yengeese. If he can blow away this bit of fog with his breath his friends
will look at him, as he sits by his own fire, and he can look at them, as
they lay aside their arms, and forget that they are warriors. Why was
the head of Arrowhead's canoe looking towards the St. Lawrence, where
there are none but enemies to be found ? "
"Why were the Pathfinder and his friends looking the same way?"
asked the Tuscarora, calmly. "A Tuscarora may look in the same direc-
tion as a Yengeese."
Why, to own the truth, Arrowhead, we are out scouting, like-that is
sailing-in other words, we are on the king's business, and we have a
right to be here, though we may not have a right to say why we are here."
"Arrowhead saw the big canoe, and he loves to look on the face of
Eau-douce. He was going towards the sun at evening, in order to seek
his wigwam; but finding that the young sailor was going the other way
he turned that he might look in the same direction. Eau-douce and
Arrowhead were together on the last trail."
This may all be true, Tuscarora, and you are welcome. You shall
eat of our venison, and then we must separate. The setting' sun is behind
us, and both of us move quick; my brother will get too far from that
which he seeks unless he turns round."
Pathfinder now returned to the others, and repeated the result of his
examination. He appeared himself to believe that the account of Arrow-
head might be true, though he admitted that caution would be prudent
with one he disliked; but his auditors, Jasper excepted, seemed less dis-
posed to put faith in the explanations.
This chap must be ironed at once, brother Dunham," said Cap, as
soon as Pathfinder finished his narration; "he must be turned over to
the master-at-arms if there is any such officer on fresh water, and a court-
martial ought to be ordered as soon as we reach port."
I think it wisest to detain the fellow," the sergeant answered, "but
irons are unnecessary so long as he remains in the cutter. In the morning
the matter shall be inquired into."
Arrowhead was now summoned and told the decision. The Indian
listened gravely, and made no objections. On the contrary, he submitted
with the calm and reserved dignity with which the American aborigines
are known to yield to fate; and he stood apart, an attentive but calm
observer of what was passing. Jasper caused the cutter's sails to be filled,
and the Scud resumed her course.
It was now getting near the hour to set the watch, and when it was
usual to retire for the night. Most of the party went below, leaving no
one on deck but Cap, the sergeant, Jasper, and two of the crew. Arrow-
head and his wife also remained, the former standing aloof in proud re-
serve, and the latter exhibiting, by her attitude and passiveness, the meek
humility that characterises an Indian woman.
You will find a place for your wife below, Arrowhead, where my
daughter will attend to her wants," said the sergeant, kindly, who was
himself on the point of quitting the deck; "yonder is a sail where you
may sleep yourself."
"I thank my father. The Tuscaroras are not poor. The woman will
look for my blankets in the canoe."
76 THE PA THFINDER.
As you wish, my friend. We think it necessary to detain you, but not
necessary to confine or to maltreat you. Send your squaw into the canoe
for the blankets, and you may follow her yourself, and hand us up the
paddles. As there may be some sleepy heads in the Scud, Eau-douce,"
added the sergeant, in a lower tone, it may be well to secure the paddles."
Jasper assented, and Arrowhead and his wife, with whom resistance
appeared to be out of the question, silently complied with the directions.
A few expressions of sharp rebuke passed from the Indian to his wife
while both were employed in the canoe, which the latter received with
submissive quiet, immediately repairing an error she had made, by laying
aside the blanket she had taken, and searching for another that was more
to her tyrant's mind.
Come, bear a hand, Arrowhead," said the sergeant, who stood on the
gunwale, overlooking the movements of the two, which were proceeding
too slowly for the impatience of a drowsy man; it is getting late; and
we soldiers have such a thing as reveille-early to bed and early to rise."
"Arrowhead is coming," was the answer, as the Tuscarora stepped
towards the head of his canoe.
One blow of his keen knife severed the rope which held the boat, and
then the cutter glanced ahead, leaving the light bubble of bark, which
instantly lost its way, almost stationary. So suddenly and dexterously
was this manceuvre performed, that the canoe was on the lee quarter of the
Scud before the sergeant was aware of the artifice, and quite in her wake,
ere he had time to announce it to his companions.
Hard-a-lee!" shouted Jasper, letting fly the jib-sheet with his own
hands, when the cutter came swiftly up to the breeze, with all her canvas
flapping, or was running into the wind's eye, as seamen term it, until the
light craft was a hundred feet to windward of her former position. Quick
and dexterous as was this movement, and ready as had been the expedient,
it was not quicker, or more ready, than that of the Tuscarora. With an
intelligence that denoted some familiarity with vessels, he had seized his
paddle, and was already skimming the water, aided by the efforts of his
wife. The direction he took was south-westerly, or on a line that led him
equally towards the wind and the shore, while it also kept him so far aloof
from the cutter, as to avoid the danger of the latter's falling on board of
him, when she filled on the other tack. Swiftly as the Scud had shot into
the wind, and far as she had forged ahead, Jasper knew it was necessary
to cast her, ere she had lost all her way; and it was not two minutes from
the time the helm had been put down before the lively little craft was
aback forward, and rapidly falling off, in order to allow her sails to fill on
the opposite tack.
He will escape said Jasper, the instant he caught a glimpse of the
relative bearings of the cutter and canoe. The cunning knave is paddling
dead to windward, and the Scud can never overtake him "
"You have a canoe exclaimed the sergeant, manifesting the eagerness
of a boy to join in the pursuit. Let us launch it, and give chase "
"'Twill be useless. If Pathfinder had been on deck, there might have
been a chance; but there is none now. To launch the canoe would have
taken three or four minutes; and the time lost would be quite sufficient
Both Cap and the sergeant saw the truth of this, which would have been
nearly self-evident even to one unaccustomed to vessels. The shore was
THE PA THFINDER.
distant less than half a mile, and the canoe was already glancing into its
shadows, at a rate to show that it would reach the land ere its pursuers
could probably run half the distance. The canoe itself might have been
seized, but it would have been a useless prize; for Arrowhead, in the
woods, would be more likely to reach the other shore without detection,
than if he still possessed the means to venture on the lake again; though
it might be, and probably would be, a greater bodily labour to himself.
The helm of the Scud was reluctantly put up again, and the cutter wore
short round on her heel, coming up to her course on the other tack, as if
acting on an instinct. All this was done by Jasper in profound silence,
his assistants understanding what was necessary, and lending their aid in
a sort of mechanical imitation. While these manoeuvres were in the course
of execution, Cap took the sergeant by a button, and led him towards the
cabin-door, where he was out of earshot, and began to unlock his stores
Harkee, brother Dunham," he said, with an ominous face, "this is a
matter that requires mature thought and much circumspection."
"The life of a soldier, brother Cap, is one of constant thought and
circumspection. On this frontier, were we to overlook either our scalps
might be taken from our heads in the first nap."
But I consider this capture of Arrowhead as a circumstance-and I
might add his escape as another. This Jasper Fresh-water must look to
They are both circumstances, truly, brother; but they tell in different
ways. If it is a circumstance against the lad, that the Indian has escaped,
it is a circumstance in his favour, that he was first taken."
Ay, ay, but two circumstances do not contradict each other, like two
negatives. If you will follow the advice of an old seaman, sergeant, not
a moment is to be lost in taking the steps necessary for the security of
the vessel, and all on board of her. The cutter is now slipping through
the water at the rate of six knots, and as the distances are so short on this
bit of a pond, we may all find ourselves in a French port before morning,
and in a French prison before night."
This may be true enough: what would you advise me to do, brother ? "
In my opinion, you should put this Master Fresh-water under arrest
on the spot; send him below, under the charge of a sentinel, and transfer
the command of the cutter to me. All this you have power to perform,
the craft belonging to the army, and you being the commanding officer of
the troops present."
Serjeant Dunham deliberated more than an hour on the propriety of
this proposal; for, though sufficiently prompt when his mind was really
made up, he was habitually thoughtful and wary. The habit of super-
intending the personal police of the garrison had made him acquainted
with character, and he had long been disposed to think well of Jasper.
Still that subtle poison, suspicion, had entered his soul; and so much were
the artifices and intrigues of the French dreaded, that, especially warned
as he had been by his commander, it is not to be wondered the recollection
of years of good conduct should vanish under the influence of a distrust
so keen, and seemingly so plausible. In this embarrassment, the serjeant
consulted the quarter-master, whose opinion, as his superior, he felt bound
to respect, though, at the moment, independent of his control. It is an
unfortunate occurrence, for one who is in a dilemma, to ask advice of
78 THE PATHFINDER.
another who is desirous of standing well in his favour; the party con-
sulted being almost certain to try to think in the manner which will be
the most argeeable to the party consulting. In the present instance, it
was equally unfortunate, as respects a candid consideration of the subject,
that Cap, instead of the sergeant himself, made the statement of the case;
for the earnest old sailor was not backward in letting his listener perceive
to which side he was desirous that the quarter-master should lean.
Lieutenant Muir was much too politic to offend the uncle and father of
the woman he hoped and expected to win, had he really thought the case
admitted of doubt; but, in the manner in which the facts were submitted
to him, he was seriously inclined to think that it would be well to put the
control of the Scud temporarily into the management of Cap, as a pre-
caution against treachery. This opinion then decided the sergeant, who,
forthwith, set about the execution of the necessary measures.
Without entering into any explanations, Serjeant Dunham simply in-
formed Jasper that he felt it to be his duty to deprive him, temporarily, of
the command of the cutter, and to confer it on his own brother-in-law. A
natural and involuntary burst of surprise which escaped the young man,
was met by a quiet remark, reminding him that military service was often
of a nature that required concealment, and a declaration that the present
duty was of such a character that this particular arrangement had become
indispensable. Although Jasper's astonishment remained undiminished-
the sergeant cautiously abstaining from making any allusion to his suspi-
cions-the young man was accustomed to obey with military submission;
and he quietly acquiesced-with his own mouth directing the little crew to
receive their further orders from Cap, until another change should be
effected. When, however, he was told the case required that not only he
himself, but his principal assistant, who, on account of his long acquaint-
ance with the lake, was usually termed the pilot, were to remain below,
there was an alteration in his countenance and manner that denoted strong
feeling, though it was so well mastered as to leave even the distrustful
Cap in doubt as to its meaning. As a matter of course, however, when
distrust exists, it was not long before the worst construction was put upon
As soon as Jasper and the pilot were below, the sentinel at the hatch
received private orders to pay particular attention to both; to allow neither
to come on deck again without giving instant notice to the person who
might then be in charge of the cutter, and to insist on his return below, as
soon as possible. This precaution, however, was uncalled-for ; Jasper and
his assistant both throwing themselves silently on their pallets, which
neither quitted again that night.
And now, sergeant," said Cap, as soon as he found himself master of
the deck, you will just have the goodness to give me the courses and
distance, that I may see the boat keeps her head the right way."
"I know nothing of either, brother Cap," returned Dunham, not a little
embarrassed at the question. "We must make the best of our way to
the station among the Thousand Islands, where we shall land, relieve
the party that is already out, and get information for our future govern-
ment.' That's it, nearly word for word, as it stands in the written orders."
"But you can muster a chart-something in the way of bearings and
distances, that I may see the road ?"
I do not think Jasper ever had anything of the sort to go by."
THE PA THFINDER. 79
No chart, Sergeant Dunham !"
"Not a scrap of a pen, even. Our sailors navigate this lake without any
aid from maps."
"The devil they do! They must be regular Yahoos. And do you
suppose, Sergeant Dunham, that I can find one island out of a thousand,
without knowing its name, or its position-without even a course, or a
distance ? "
As for the name, brother Cap, you need not be particular, for not one
of the whole thousand has a name, and so a mistake can never be made on
that score. As for the position, never having been there myself, I can tell
you nothing about it, nor do I think its position of any particular con-
sequence, provided we find the spot. Perhaps one of the hands on deck
can tell us the way."
Hold on, sergeant-hold on a moment, if you please, Sergeant Dunham.
If I am to command this craft, it must be done, if you please, without
holding any councils of war with the cook and cabin-boy. A ship-master
is a ship-master, and he must have an opinion of his own, even if it be a
wrong one. I suppose you know service well enough to understand that
it is better in a commander to go wrong, than to go nowhere. At all
events, the Lord High Admiral couldn't command a yawl with dignity, if
he consulted the cockswain every time he wished to go ashore. No-sir
-if I sink, I sink; but d-- e, I'll go down ship-shape and with
"But, brother Cap, I have no wish to go down anywhere, unless it be to
the station among the Thousand Islands, whither we are bound."
Well, well, sergeant, rather than ask advice, that is, direct, bare-faced
advice, of a fore-mast hand, or any other than a quarter-deck-officer, I
would go round to the whole thousand and examine them one by one,
until we got the right haven. But there is such a thing as coming at an
opinion without manifesting ignorance, and I will manage to rouse all
there is out of these hands, and make them think all the while that
I am cramming them with my own experience. We are sometimes
obliged to use the glass at sea when there is nothing in sight, or to heave
the lead long before we strike soundings. I suppose you know in the army,
sergeant, that the next thing to knowing that which is desirable, is to seem
to know all about it. When a youngster, I sailed two v'y'ges with a man
who navigated his ship pretty much by the latter sort of information,
which sometimes answers."
I know we are steering in the right direction at present," returned the
sergeant, but in the course of a few hours we shall be up with a headland,
where we must feel our way with more caution."
Leave me to pump the man at the wheel, brother, and you shall see
that I will make him suck, in a very few minutes."
Cap and the sergeant now walked aft, until they stood by the sailor who
was at the helm, Cap maintaining an air of security and tranquillity, like
one who was entirely confident of his own powers.
This is a wholesome air, my lad," Cap observed, as it might be inci-
dentally, and in the manner that a superior on board a vessel sometimes
condescends to use to a favoured inferior. Of course, you have it in this
fashion, off the land, every night!"
"At this season of the year, sir," the man returned, touching his hat,
out of respect to his new commander and Sergeant Dunham's connection.
THE PA THFINDER.
The same thing, I take it, among the Thousand Islands ? The wind
will stand, of course, though we shall then have land on every side of us."
When we get further east, sir, the wind will probably shift, for there
can then be no particular land-breeze."
"Ay, ay-so much for your fresh water! It has always some trick
that is opposed to nature. Now, down among the West India Islands one-
is just as certain of having a land-breeze as he is of having a sea-breeze.
In that respect there is no difference, though it's quite in rule it should be
different up here, on this bit of fresh water. Of course, my lad, you know
all about these said Thousand Islands? "
"Lord bless you, master Cap, nobody knows anything about them.
They are a puzzle to the oldest sailor on the lake, and we don't pretend
to know even their names. For that matter, most of them have no more
name than a child that dies before it is christened."
Are you a Roman Catholic ?" demand the sergeant, sharply.
"No, sir, nor anything else. I'm a generalizer about religion, never
troubling that which don't trouble me."
Hum! a generalizer; that is, no doubt, one of the new sects that afflict
the country muttered Mr. Dunham, whose grandfather had been a New
Jersey Quaker, his father a Presbyterian, and who had joined the Church
of England himself after he entered the army.
I take it, John," resumed Cap-" your name is Jack, I believe ?"
No, sir ; I am called Robert."
Aye, Robert-it's very much the same thing-Jack or Bob-we use the
two indifferently. I say, Bob, it's good holding-ground, is it, down at this
same station for which we are bound? "
Bless you, sir, I know no more about it than one of the Mohawks, or a
soldier of the 55th."
Did you never anchor there ? "
Never, sir. Master Eau-douce always makes fast to the shore."
But in running in for the town, you keep the lead going, out of question,
and must have tallowed as usual? "
"Tallow! and town, too! Bless your heart, Master Cap, there is no
more town than there is on your chin, and not half as much tallow."
The serjeant smiled grimly, but his brother-in-law did not detect this
proof of facetiousness.
No church tower, nor light, nor fort, ha There is a garrison, as you
call it hereaway, at least."
Ask Sergeant Dunham, sir, if you wish to know that! All the garrison
is on board the Scud."
But in running in, Bob, which of the channels do you think the best,
the one you went last, or-or-or-ay, or the other ?"
I can't say, sir. 1 know nothing of either."
You didn't go to sleep, fellow, at the wheel, did you ? "
"Not at the wheel, sir, but down in the fore-peak, in my berth. Eau-
douce sent us below, soldiers and all, with the exception of the pilot, and
we knew no more of the road than if we had never been over it. This he
has always done, in going in and coming out ; and, for the life of me, I
could tell you nothing of the channel, or of the course, after we are once
fairly up with the islands. No one knows anything of either, but Jasper
and the pilot."
"Here is a circumstance for you, sergeant!" said Cap, leading his
THE PA THFINDER.
brother-in-law a little aside. There is no one on board to pump, for they
all suck from ignorance, at the first stroke of the brake. How the devil am
I to find my way to this station, for which we are bound ? "
Sure enough, brother Cap, your question is more easily put than
answered. Is there no such thing as figuring it out by navigation? I
thought you salt-water mariners were able to do as small a thing as that!
I have often read of their discovering islands, surely.
That you have, brother-that you have, and this discovery would be
the greatest of them all; for it would not only be discovering one island.
but one island out of a thousand. I might make out to pick up a single
needle on this deck as old as I am, but I much doubt whether I could pick
one out of a haystack."
Still sailors of the lake have a method of finding places they wish to go to."
"If I have understood you, sergeant, this station, or block-house, is
particularly private ? "
It is, indeed; the utmost care having been taken to prevent a knowledge
of its position from reaching the enemy."
And you expect me, a stranger on your lake, to find this place without
chart, course, distance, latitude, longitude, or soundings-aye, d- e, or
tallow! Allow me to ask if you think a mariner runs by his nose, like one
of Pathfinder's hounds ?"
Well, brother, you may yet learn something by questioning the young
man at the helm; I can hardly think he is as ignorant as he pretends to be."
"Hum-this looks like another circumstance For that matter the case
is getting to be so full of circumstances, that one hardly knows how to foot
up the evidence. But we will soon see how much the lad knows."
Cap and the sergeant now returned to their station near the helm, and
the former renewed his inquiries.
Do you happen to know what may be the latitude and longitude of this
said island, my lad ?" he asked.
"The what, sir ?"
"Why, the latitude or longitude; one or both; I'm not particular which,
as I merely inquire in order to see how they bring up young men on this bit
of fresh water ? "
"I'm not particular about either, myself, sir, and so I do not happen to
know what you mean."
Not what I mean You know what latitude is ? "
Not I, sir," returned the man, hesitating, though I believe it is French
for the upper lakes."
"Whe-e-w," whistled Cap, drawing out his breath, like the broken stop
of an organ; latitude, French for upper lakes ? Harkee, young mar,
do you know what longitude means ? "
"I believe I do, sir-that is five feet six, the regulation height for
soldiers in the king's service."
There's the longitude found out for you, sergeant, in the rattling of a
brace block! You have some notion about a degree, and minutes, and
seconds, I hope ? "
Yes, sir, degree means my betters, and minutes and seconds are for the
short or long log-lines. We all know these things, as well as the salt-water
D- e, brother Dunham, if I think even Faith can get along on this
lake, much as they say it can do with mountains. I'm sure character is in
82 THE PA THFNDER.
no security. Well, my lad, you understand the azimuth, and measuring
distances, and how to box the compass."
As for the first, sir, I can't say I do. The distances we all know, as
we measure them from point to point; and as for boxing the compass, I
will turn my back to no Admiral in his Majesty's fleet. Nothe-nothe and
by east, nothe-nothe-east, nothe-east and by nothe-nothe-east; nothe-east
and by east, east-nothe-east, east-and-by-nothe, east:--"
That will do-that will do. You'll bring about a shiftof wind, if you
go on in this manner. I see very plainly, sergeant," walking away again,
and dropping his voice, we've nothing to hope for from that chap. I'll
stand on two hours longer on this tack, when we'll heave-to and get the
soundings; after which, we will be governed by circumstances."
To this the sergeant, who, to coin a word, was very much of an idio-
syncratist, made no objections; and, as the wind grew lighter, as usual
with the advance of night, and there were no immediate obstacles to the
navigation, he made a bed of a sail, on deck, and was soon lost in the
sound sleep of a soldier. Cap continued to walk the deck, for he was one
whose iron frame set fatigue at defiance, anl not once that night did he
close his eyes.
It was broad daylight when Sergeant Dunham awoke, and the exclama-
tion of surprise that escaped him, as he rose to his feet and began to look
about him, was stronger than it was usual for one so drilled to suffer to be
heard. He found the weather entirely changed; the view bounded by
driving mist, that limited the visible horizon to a circle of about a mile
in diameter, the lake raging and covered with foam, and the Scud lying-to.
A brief conversation with his brother-in-law let him into the secrets of
all these sudden changes.
According to the account of Master Cap, the wind had died away to a
calm, about midnight, or just as he was thinking of heaving-to to sound,
for islands ahead were beginning to be seen. At one A.M. it began to
blow from the north-east, accompanied by a drizzle, and he stood off to
the northward and westward, knowing that the coast of New York lay in
the opposite direction. At half-past one he stowed the staysail, reefed the
mainsail and took the bonnet off the jib. At two, he was compelled
to get a second reef aft; and by half-past two, he had put a balance-reef in
the sail, and was lying-to.
"I can't say but the boat behaves well, sergeant," the old sailor added;
"but it blows forty-two pounders I had no idee there were any such cur-
rents of air up here on this bit of fresh water, though I care not the
knotting of a yarn for it, as your lake has now somewhat of a natural look,
and- spitting from his mouth, with distaste a dash of the spray that
had just wetted his face, and if this d- d water had a savour of salt
about it one might be comfortable."
How long have you been heading in this direction, brother Cap,"
inquired the prudent soldier; and at what rate may we be going through
the water ? "
"Why, two or three hours, mayhap, and she went like a horse for the
first pair of them. Oh! we've a fine offing, now, for to own the truth,
little relishing the neighbourhood of them said islands, although they are to
windward, I took the helm myself, and run her off free, for some league or
two. We are well to leeward of them, I'll engage, I say, to leeward, for,
though one might wish to be well to windward of one island, or even half
a dozen, when it comes to a thousand, the better way is to give it up at
once, and to slide down under their lee, as fast as possible. No-no-
there they are, up yonder in the drizzle,-and there they may stay, for
anything Charles Cap cares!"
"As the north shore lies only some five or six leagues from us,
brother, and I know there is a large bay in that quarter, might it not be
well to consult some of the crew concerning our position, if indeed we do
not call up Jasper Eau-douce, and tell him to carry us back to Oswego ?
It is quite impossible we should ever reach the station with this wind
directly in our teeth."
"There are several serious professional reasons, sergeant, against all
your propositions. In the first place, an admission of ignorance on the
part of a commander would destroy discipline. No matter, brother, I
understand your shake of the head, but nothing capsizes discipline so
much as to confess ignorance. I once knew a master of a vessel who went
a week on a wrong course, rather than allow he had made a mistake;
and it was surprising how much he rose in the opinions of his people, just
because they could not understand him."
That may do on salt water, brother Cap; but it will hardly do on fresh.
Rather than wreck my command on the Canada shore, I shall feel it my
duty to take Jasper out of arrest."
"And make a haven in Frontenac! No, sergeant, the Scud is in good
hands, and will now learn something of seamanship. We have a fine
offing, and no one but a madman would think of going on a coast in a gale
like this. I shall ware every watch, and then we shall be safe against all
dangers, but those of the drift, which, in a light, low craft like this, with-
out top-hammer, will be next to nothing. Leave it all to me, sergeant,
and I pledge you the character of Charles Cap, that all will go well,"
Sergeant Dunham, was fain to yield. He had great confidence in his
connection's professional skill, and hoped that he would take such care
of the cutter as would amply justify his good opinion. On the other
hand, as distrust, like love, grows by what it feeds on, he entertained so
much apprehension of treachery, that he was quite willing anyone but
Jasper should, just then, have the control of the fate of the whole party.
Truth, moreover, compels us to admit another motive. The particular
duty on which he was now sent, should have been confided to a com-
missioned officer of right; and Major Duncan had excited a good deal of
discontent among the subalterns of the garrison, by having confided it to
one of the sergeant's humble station. To return, without having even
reached the point of destination, therefore, the latter felt would be a failure
from which he was not likely soon to recover; and the measure would,
at once, be the means of placing a superior in his shoes.
As the day advanced, that portion of the inmates of the vessel which
had the liberty of doing so, appeared on deck. As yet, the sea was not
very high, from which it was inferred that the cutter was still under the
lee of the islands; but it was apparent to all who understood the lake that
they were about to experience one of the heavy autumnal gales of that
84 THE PATHFINDER.
region. Land was nowhere visible: and the horizon, on every side ex-
hibited that gloomy void, which lends to all views on vast bodies of water,
the sublimity of mystery. The swells, or, as landsmen term them, the
waves, were short and curling, breaking of necessity sooner than the
longer seas of the ocean; while the element itself, instead of presenting
that beautiful hue, which rivals the deep tint of the southern sky, looked
green and angry, though wanting in the lustre that is derived from the
rays of the sun.
The soldiers were soon satisfied with the prospect, and, one by one, they
disappeared, until none were left on deck but the crew, the sergeant, Cap,
Pathfinder, the quarter-master, and Mabel. There was a shade on the
brow of the latter, who had been made acquainted with the real state of
things; and who had fruitlessly ventured an appeal in favour of Jasper's
restoration to the command. A night's rest, and a night's reflection,
appeared also to have confirmed the Pathfinder in his opinion of the young
man's innocence; and he, too, had made a warm appeal in behalf of his
friend, though with the same want of success.
Several hours passed away, the wind gradually getting to be heavier,
and the sea rising, until the motion of the cutter compelled Mabel and
the quarter-master to retreat also. Cap wore several times; and it was
now evident that the Scud was drifting into the broader and deeper parts
of the lake, the seas raging down upon her in a way that none but a vessel
of superior mould and build could have long ridden and withstood. All
this, however, gave Cap no uneasiness; but like the hunter that pricks
his ears at the sound of the horn, or the war-horse that paws and snorts
with pleasure at the roll of the drum, the whole scene awakened all that
was man within him; and instead of the captious, supercilious, and dog-
matic critic, quarrelling with trifles, and exaggerating immaterial things,
he began to exhibit the qualities of the hardy and experienced seaman
that he truly was. The hands soon imbibed a respect for his skill; and,
though they wondered at the disappearance of their old commander and
the pilot, for which no reason had been publicly given, they soon yielded
an implicit and cheerful obedience to the new one.
This bit of fresh-water, after all, brother Dunham, has some spirit,I find,"
cried Cap, about noon, rubbing his hands in pure satisfaction at finding
himself once more wrestling with the elements. The wind seems to be
an honest old-fashioned gale, and the seas have a fanciful resemblance to
those of the Gulf Stream. I like this, sergeant, I like this; and shall get
to respect your lake, if it hold out twenty-four hours longer in the fashion
in which it has begun."
Land, ho shouted the man who was stationed on the forecastle.
Cap hurried forward; and there, sure enough, the land was visible
through the drizzle, at the distance of about half-a-mile,-the cutter head-
ing directly towards it. The first impulse of the old seaman was to give
an order to "stand by, to ware off shore; but the cool-headed soldier
By going a little nearer," said the sergeant,." some of us may recog-
nize the place. Most of us know the American shore, in this part of the
lake; and it will be something gained to learn our position."
Very true-very true; if, indeed, there is any chance of that, we will
hold on. What is this off here, a little on our weather bow ? It looks
like a low headland."
THE PATHFINDER. 85
"The garrison, by Jove!" exclaimed the other, whose trained eye sooner re-
cognised the military outlines than the less instructed sense of his connection.
The sergeant was not mistaken. There was the fort, sure enough, though
it looked dim and indistinct through the fine rain, as if it were seen in the
dusk of evening, or the haze of morning. The low, sodded, and verdant
ramparts, the sombre palisades, now darker than ever with water, the roof
of a house or two, the tall, solitary flag-staff, with its halyards blown
steadily out into a curve that appeared traced in immovable lines in the air,
were all soon to be seen, though no sign of animated life could be dis-
covered. Even the sentinel was housed; and, at first, it was believed that
no eye would detect the presence of their own vessel. But the unceasing
vigilance of a border garrison did not slumber. One of the lookouts pro-
bably made the interesting discovery; a man or two were seen on some
elevated stands, and then the entire ramparts, next the lake, were dotted
with human beings.
The whole scene was one in which sublimity was singularly relieved by
the picturesque. The raging of the tempest had a character of duration,
that rendered it easy to imagine it might be a permanent feature of the
spot. The roar of the wind was without intermission, and the raging water
answered to its dull but grand strains with hissing spray, a menacing wash,
and sullen surges. The drizzle made a medium for the eye which closely
resembled that of a thin mist, softening and rendering mysterious the
images it revealed, while the genial feeling that is apt to accompany a gale
of wind on water, contributed to aid the milder influences of the moment.
The dark, interminable forest hove up out of the obscurity, grand, sombre,
and impressive, while the solitary, peculiar, and picturesque glimpses of life
that were caught in and about the fort, formed a refuge for the eye to re-
treat to, when impressed with the more imposing objects of nature.
"They see us," said the sergeant, "and think we have returned on
account of the gale, and have fallen to leeward of the port. Yes, there is
Major Duncan himself, on the north-eastern bastion; I know him by his
height, and by the officers around him "
Sergeant, it would be worth standing a little jeering, if we could fetch
into the river, and come safely to an anchor! In that case, too, we might
land this Master Eau-douce, and purify the boat."
It would, indeed; but as poor a sailor as I am, I well know it cannot be
done. Nothing that sails the lake can turn to windward against this gale;
and there is no anchorage outside, in weather like this."
I know it-I see it-sergeant, and pleasant as is that sight to you
landsmen, we must leave it. For myself, I am never so happy, in heavy
weather, as when I am certain that the land is behind me."
The Scud had now forged so near in, that it became indispensable to lay
her head off shore again, and the necessary orders were given. The storm-
staysail was set forward, the gaff lowered, the helm put up, and the light
craft, that seemed to sport with the elements like a duck, fell off a little,
drew ahead swiftly, obeyed her rudder, and was soon flying away on the top
of the surges, dead before the gale. While making this rapid flight, though
the land still remained in view, on her larboard beam, the fort, and the
groups of anxious spectators on its rampart, were swallowed up in the
nist. Then followed the evolutions necessary to bring the head of the
cutter up to the wind, when she again began to wallow her weary way tq-
wards the north shore.
86 THE PATHFINDER.
Hours now passed before any further change was made, the wind in-
creasing in force, until even the dogmatical Cap fairly admitted it was
blowing a thorough gale of wind. About sunset the Scud wore again, to
keep her off the north shore, during the hours of darkness; and at mid-
night her temporary master, who, by questioning the crew in an indirect
manner, had obtained some general knowledge of the size and shape of the
lake, believed himself to be about midway between the two shores. The
height and length of the seas aided this impression; and it must be added
that Cap, by this time,'began to feel a respect for fresh water, that twenty-
four hours earlier, he would have derided as impossible. Just as the night
turned, the fury of the wind became so great, that he found it impossible
to bear up against it, the water falling on the deck of the little craft in such
masses as to cause it to shake to the centre, and, though a vessel of sin-
gularly lively qualities, to threaten it to bury it beneath its weight. The
people of the Scud averred that never before had they been out in such a
tempest; which was true, for, possessing a perfect knowledge of all the
rivers and headlands and havens, Jasper would have carried the cutter in
shore, long ere this, and placed her in safety, in some secure anchorage.
But Cap still disdained to consult the young master, who continued below,
determining to act like a mariner of the broad ocean.
It was one in the morning, when the storm-staysail was again got on the.
Scud, the head of the mainsail lowered, and the cutter put before the wind.
Although the canvas now exposed was merely a rag in surface, the little
craft nobly justified the use of the name she bore. For eight hours did she
scud, in truth; and it was almost with the velocity of the gulls that wheeled
wildly over her in the tempest, apparently afraid to alight in the boiling
cauldron of the lake. The dawn of day brought little change; for no other
horizon became visible than the little circle of drizzling sky and water
already described, in which it seemed as if the elements were rioting in a
sort of chaotic confusion. During this time the crew and passengers of the
cutter were of necessity passive. Jasper and the pilot remained below;
but, on the motion of the vessel having become easier, nearly all the rest
were on deck. The morning meal had been taken in silence, and eye met
eye, as if their owners asked each other, in dumb show, what was to be the.
end of this strife in the elements. Cap, however, was perfectly composed,
and his face brightened, his step grew firmer, and his whole air more as-
sured, as the storm increased, making larger demands on his professional
skill and personal spirit. He stood on the forecastle, his arms crossed,
balancing his body with a seaman's instinct, while his eyes watched the
caps of the seas, as they broke and glanced past the reeling cutter, itself in
such swift motion, as if they were the scud flying athwart the sky. At this-
sublime instant one of the hands gave the unexpected cry of A sail!"
There was so much of the wild and solitary character of the wilderness.
about Ontario, that one scarcely expected to meet with a vessel on its waters.
The Scud, herself, to those who were in her, resembled a man threading the.
forest alone, and the meeting was like that of two solitary hunters beneath
the broad canopy of leaves that then covered so many millions of acres on.
the continent of America. The peculiar state of the weather served to in-
crease the romantic, almost supernatural appearance of the passage. Cap
alone regarded it with practised eyes, and even he felt his iron nerves
thrill under the sensations that were awakened by the wild features oi
THE PATHFINDER. 87
The strange vessel was about two cables' length ahead of the Scud, stand-
ing by the wind athwart her bows, and steering a course to render it pro-
bable that the latter would pass within a few yards of her. She was a full-
rigged ship, and seen through the misty medium of the tempest, the most
experienced eye could detect no imperfection in her gear or construction.
The only canvas she had set was a close-reefed main-topsail, and two small
storm-staysails, one forward and the other aft. Still the power of the wind
pressed so hard upon her as to bear her down nearly to her beam-ends,
whenever the hull was not righted by the buoyancy of some wave under
her lee. Her spars were all in their places, and by her motion through the
water, which might have equalled four knots in the hour, it was apparent
that she steered a little free.
The fellow must know his position well," said Cap, as the cutter flew
down towards the ship, with a velocity almost equalling that of the gale,
"for he is standing boldly to the southward, where he expects to find
anchorage or a haven. No man in his senses would run off free in that
fashion, that was not driven to scudding, like ourselves, who did not per-
fectly understand where he was going."
We have made an awful run, captain," returned the man to whom this
remark had been addressed. That is the French king's ship, Le-my-calm
(le Montcalm), and she is standing in for the Niagara, where her owner has
a garrison and a port. We have made an awful run of it! "
Ay, bad luck to him! Frenchman like, he skulks into port the moment
he sees an English bottom."
It might be well for us, if we could follow him," returned the man,
shaking his head despondingly, for we are getting into the end of a bay
up here at the head of the lake, and it is uncertain whether we ever get out
of it again "
Poh! man, poh!-We have plenty of sea room, and a good English
hull beneath us. We are no Johnny Crapauds to hide ourselves behind a
point or a fort, on account of a puff of wind. Mind your helm, sir! "
The order was given on account of the menacing appearance of the ap-
proaching passage. The Scud was now heading directly for the fore-foot
of the Frenchmen; and the distance between the two vessels having
diminished to a hundred yards, it was momentarily questionable if there
was room to pass.
Port, sir-port!" shouted Cap. Port your helm, and pass astern "
The crew of the Frenchman were seen assembling to windward, and a few
muskets were pointed, as if to order the people of the Scud to keep off.
Gesticulations were observed, but the sea was too wild and menacing to
admit of the ordinary expedients of war. The water was dripping from the
muzzles of two or three light guns on board the ship, but no one thought of
loosening them for service in such a tempest. Her black sides, as they
emerged from a wave, glistened and seemed to frown, but the wind howled
through her rigging, whistling the thousand notes of a ship; and the hails
and cries that escape a Frenchman with so much readiness, were inaudible.
Let him halloa himself hoarse growled Cap. This is no weather
to whisper secrets in. Port, sir-port!"
The man at the wheel obeyed, and the next send of the sea drove the Scud
down upon the quarter of the ship, so near her that the old mariner him-
self recoiled a step, in a vague expectation, that at the next surge ahead,
she would drive bows for most directly into the planks of the other vessel.
S8 THE PA THFINDER.
But this was not to be. Rising from the crouching position she had taken-
.like a panther about to leap-the cutter dashed onward, and at the next in-
stant she was glancing past the stern of her enemy, just clearing the end of
her spankerboom with her own lower yard.
The young Frenchman, who commanded the Montcalm, leaped over the
taffrail, and with that high-toned courtesy which relieves even the worst
acts of his countrymen, he raised his cap, and smiled a salutation, as the
Scud shot past. There were bonhommie and good taste in this act of
courtesy, when circumstances allowed of no other communications; but
they were lost on Cap, who, with an instinct quite as true to his race, shook
his fist menacingly, and muttered to himself:-
"Ay-ay--it's d- d lucky for you I've no armament on board here,
or I'd send you in to
get new cabin windows
fitted. Sergeant, he's a
"'Twas civil, brother
Cap," returned the
Other, lowering his
c o hand from the military
salute, which his pride
r .in as a soldier had induced
him to return--"'twas
civil, and that's as much
as you can expect from
a Frenchman. What
he really meant by it,
no one can say."
"I e is not heading
up to this sea without
an object, neither!
: .. .. Well, let him run in if
h3 can get there; we
.will keep the lake like
hearty English mari-
: neThis sounded glori-
ously, but Cap eyed
with envy the glittering
black mass of the Montcalmn's hull, her waving top-sail, and the misty tracery
of her spars, as she grew less and less distinct, and finally disappeared in the
drizzle, in a form as shadowy as that of some unreal image. Gladly would
he have followed in her wake, had he dared; for, to own the truth, the
prospect of another stormy night in the midst of the wild waters that were
raging around him, brought little consolation. Still he had too much
professional pride to betray his uneasiness, and those under his care relied
on his knowledge and resources, with the implicit and blind confidence that
the ignorant are apt to feel.
A few hours succeeded, and darkness came again to increase the perils of
the Scud. A lull in the gale, however, had induced Cap to come by the
wind once more, and throughout the night the cutter was lying-to, as
before, head-reaching, as a matter of course, and occasionally waring to
THE PATHFINDER. 89
keep off the land. It is unnecessary to dwell on the incidents of the night,
which resembled those of any other gale of wind. There were the pitching
of the vessel, the hissing of the waters, the dashing of spray, the shocks
that menaced annihilation to the little craft as she plunged into the seas,
the undying howling of the wind, and the fearful drift. The last was the
most serious danger; for, though exceedingly weatherly under her canvas,
and totally without top-hamper, the Scud was so light, that the combing
of the swells seemed at times to wash her down to leeward, with a velocity
as great as that of the surges themselves.
During the night Cap slept soundly, and for several hours. The day
was just dawning, when he felt himself shaken by the shoulder, and
arousing himself, he found the Pathfinder standing at his side. During
the gale, the guide had appeared little on deck, for his natural modesty
told him that seamen alone should interfere with the management of the
vessel; and he was willing to show the same reliance on those who had
charge of the Scud, as he expected those who followed him through the forest
to manifest in his own skill. But he now thought himself justified in
interfering, which he did in his own unsophisticated and peculiar manner.
Sleep is sweet, Master Cap," he said, as soon as the eyes of the latter
were fairly open, and his consciousness had sufficiently returned-" Sleep is
sweet, as I know from experience, but life is sweeter still. Look about you,
and say if this is exactly the moment for a commander to be off his feet."
How now-how now-Master Pathfinder !" growled Cap, in the first
moments of his awakened faculties-" Are you, too, getting on the side of
the grumblers ? When ashore, I admired your sagacity in running through
the worst shoals without a compass, and, since we have been afloat, your
meekness and submission have been as pleasant as your confidence on your
own ground; I little expected such a summons from you."
As for myself, Master Cap, I feel I have my gifts, and I believe they'll
interfere with those of no other man; but the case may be different with
Mabel Dunham. She has her gifts, too, it is true; but they are not rude,
like ours, but gentle and womanish, as they ought to be. It's on her
account that I speak, and not on my own."
Ay-ay-I begin to understand. The girl is a good girl, my worthy
friend, but she is a soldier's daughter and a sailor's niece, and ought not to
be too tame, or too tender in a gale. Does she show any fear? "
Not she-not she. Mabel is a woman, but she is reasonable and
silent. Not a word have I heard from her, concerning our doings; though
I do think, Master Cap, she would like it better, if Jasper Eau-douce were
put into his proper place, and things were restored to their old situation,
like. This is human natur'."
I'll warrant it!-Girl-like, and Dunham-like, too. Anything is better
than an old uncle, and everybody knows more than an old seaman This
is human natur', Master Pathfinder, and d-- e, if I'm a man to sheer a
fathom, starboard or port, for all the human natur' that can be found in a
minx of twenty-ay,-or "-lowering his voice a little-" for all that can
be paraded in His Majesty's 55th regiment of foot. I've not been at
sea forty years, to come up on this bit of fresh-water, to be taught human
natur'. How this gale holds out! It blows as hard, at this moment, as if
Boreas had just clapped his hand upon the bellows. And what is all this
to leeward ? "-rubbing his eyes--"land, as sure as my name is Cap ; and
high land, too! "
90 THE PA THFINDER.
The Pathfinder made no immediate answer, but shaking his head, he
watched the expression of his companion's face, with a look of strong
anxiety in his own.
Land, as certain as this is the Scud! "-repeated Cap-" a lee-shore, and
that, too, within a league of us, with as pretty a line of breakers as one
could find on the beach of all Long Island "
"And is that encouraging, or is it disheartening ?" demanded the
Ha! encouraging, disheartening ?-Why, neither. No, no-there is
nothing encouraging about it; and, as for disheartening, nothing ought to
dishearten a seaman. You never get disheartened or afraid in the woods,
I'll not say that-I'll not say that. When the danger is great, it is
my gift to see it, and know it, and to try to avoid it; else would my scalp,
long since, have been drying in a Mingo wigwam. On this lake, however,
I can see no trail, and I feel it my duty to submit; though I think we
ought to remember there is such a person as Mabel Dunham on board.
But here comes her father, and he will naturally feel for his own child "
We are all seriously situated, I believe, brother Cap," saidthe sergeant
when he had reached the spot, by what I can gather from the two hands
on the forecastle. They tell me the cutter cannot carry any more sail, and
her drift is so great we shall go ashore in an hour or two. I hope their
fears have deceived them ?"
Cap made no reply, but he gazed at the land with a rueful face, and then
looked to windward, with an expression of ferocity, as if he would gladly
have quarrelled with the weather.
It may be well, brother," the sergeant continued, to send for Jasper,
and consult him as to what is to be done. There are no French here to-
dread, and, under all circumstances, the boy will save us from drowning, if
Ay-ay-'tis these cursed circumstances that have done all the mischief!
But let the fellow come; let him come; a few well-managed questions will
bring the truth out of him I'll warrant you."
This acquiescence on the part of the dogmatical Cap was no sooner
obtained, than Jasper was sent for. The young man instantly made his
appearance, his whole air, countenance, and mien, expressive of mortifica-
tion, humility, and, as his observers fancied, rebuked deception. When
he first stepped on deck, Jasper cast one hurried, anxious glance around,
as if curious to know the situation of the cutter; and that glance sufficed,
it seemed, to let him into the secret of all her perils. At first he looked to.
windward, as is usual with every seaman; then he turned round the horizon,
until his eye caught a view of the highlands to leeward, when the whole
truth burst upon him at once.
"I've sent for you, Master Jasper," said Cap, folding his arms, and
balancing his body with the dignity of the forecastle, in order to learn
something about the haven to leeward. We take it for granted you do.
not bear malice so hard as to wish to drown us all, especially the women;
and I suppose you will be man enough to help us to run the cutter into
some safe berth, until this bit of a gale has done blowing ?"
I would die myself, rather than harm should come to Mabel Dunham,'
the young man earnestly answered.
I knew it !-I knew it 1" cried the Pathfinder, clapping his hand kindly
THE PA THFINDER. 91
on Jasper's shoulder. The lad is as true as the best compass that ever
run a boundary, or brought a man off from a blind trail! It is a moral
sin to believe otherwise."
Humph!" ejaculated Cap, especially the women !-As if they were in
any particular danger. Never mind, young man; we shall understand
each other by talking like two plain seamen. Do you know of any port
under our lee ? "
"None. There is a large bay at this end of the lake, but it is unknown
to us all; and not easy of entrance."
"And this coast to leeward-it has nothing particular to recommend it, I
suppose ? "
It is a wilderness until you reach the mouth of the Niagara, in one direc-
tion, and Frontenac in the other. North and west, they tell me, there is
nothing but forests and prairies, for a thousand miles."
"Thank God, then, there can be no French. Are there many savages,
hereaway, on the land ?"
The Indians are to be found in all directions; though they are nowhere
very numerous. By accident, we might find a party at any point on the
shore; or, we might pass months there without seeing one."
"We must take our chance, then, as to the blackguards-but, to be
frank with you, Master Western-if this little unpleasant matter about the
French had not come to pass, what would you now do with the cutter? "
I am a much younger sailor than yourself, Master Cap," said Jasper,
modestly, "and am hardly fitted to advise you."
Ay-ay-we all know that. In a common case, perhaps not. But
this is an uncommon case, and a circumstance; and on this bit of fresh-
water it has what may be called its peculiarities; and so, everything con-
sidered, you may be fitted to advise even your own father. At all events,
you can speak, and I can judge of your opinions, agreeably to my own
"I think, sir, before two hours are over, the cutter will have to anchor."
Anchor !-not out here, in the lake ? "
No, sir; but in yonder, near the land."
You do not mean to say, Master Eau-douce, you would anchor on a lee
shore, in a gale of wind ? "
If I would save my vessel, that is exactly what I would do, Master
"Whe-e-e-w!-this is fresh-water, with a vengeance. Harkee, young
man, I've been a sea-faring animal, boy and man, forty-one years, and
I never yet heard of such a thing. I'd throw my ground-tackle over-
board, before I would be guilty of so lubberly an act "
That is what we do, on this lake," modestly replied Jasper, when we
are hard pressed. I dare say we might do better, had we been better taught."
"That you might, indeed! No; no man induces me to commit such a
sin against my own bringing up. I should never dare show my face inside
of Sandy Hook again, had I committed so know-nothing an exploit. Why,
Pathfinder here has more seamanship in him than that comes to. You can
go below again, Master Eau-douce."
Jasper quietly bowed and withdrew; still, as he passed down the ladder,
the spectators observed that he cast a lingering, anxious look at the hori-
zon to windward, and the land to leeward, and then disappeared with
concern strongly expressed in every lineament of his face.
THE PA THFINDER.
As the soldier's wife was sick in her berth, Mabel Dunham was the only
person in the outer cabin, when Jasper returned to it; for, by an act of
grace in the sergeant, he had been permitted to resume his proper place in
this :art of the vessel. We should be ascribing too much simplicity of
character to our heroine, if we said that she had felt no distrust of the
young man, in consequence of his arrest; but we should also be doing
injustice to her warmth of feeling and generosity of disposition, if we did
not add, that this distrust was insignificant and transient. As he now took
his seat near her, his whole countenance clouded with the uneasiness he
felt concerning the situation of the cutter, everything like suspicion was
banished from her mind, and she saw in him only an injured man.
You let this affair weigh too heavily on your mind, Jasper," she said,
eagerly, or with that forgetfulness of self with which the youthful of her
sex are wont to betray their feelings, when a strong and generous interest
has attained the ascendency-" no one who knows you can, or does, believe
you guilty. Pathfinder says he will pledge his life for you."
Then you, Mabel," returned the youth, his eyes flashing fire, "do not
look upon me as the traitor that your father seems to believe me to be ? "
My dear father is a soldier, and is obliged to act as one. My father's
daughter is not, and will think of you as she ought to think of a man who
has done so much to serve her already."
Mabel-I am not used to talking with one like you-or saying all I
think and feel with any. I never had a sister, and my mother died when
I was a child, so that I know little what your sex most likes to hear- "
Mabel would have given the world to know what lay behind the seeming
word, at which Jasper hesitated; but the indefinable and controlling sense
of womanly diffidence made her suppress her womanly curiosity. She
waited in silence for him to explain his own meaning.
I wish to say, Mabel," the young man continued after a pause which
he found sufficiently embarrassing, that I am unused to the ways and
opinions of one like you, and that you must imagine all I would add."
Mabel had imagination enough to fancy anything, but there are ideas
and feelings that her sex prefer to have expressed, before they yield them
all their own sympathies, and she had a vague consciousness that these of
Jasper might properly be enumerated in the class; with a readiness that
belonged to her sex, therefore, she preferred changing the discourse to per-
mitting it to proceed any further, in a manner so awkward and so unsatis-
Tell me one thing, Jasper, and I shall be content," she said, speaking
now with a firmness that denoted confidence not only in herself but in her
companion-" you do not deserve this cruel suspicion which rests upon
you ? "
"I do not, Mabel," answered Jasper, looking into her full blue eyes, with
an openness and simplicity that might have shaken strong distrust. As
I hope for mercy hereafter, I do not."
"I knew it-I could have sworn it," returned the girl, warmly. "And
yet my father means well: but do not let this matter disturb you, Jasper."
"There is so much more to apprehend from another quarter, just now,
that I scarce think of it."
THE PA THFINDER. 93
"I do not wish to alarm you, Mabel, but if your uncle could be persuaded
to change his notions about handling the Scud-and yet, he is so much
older and more experienced than I am, that he ought, perhaps, to place
more reliance on his own judgment than on mine."
Do you think the cutter in any danger ? demanded Mabel, quick as
"I fear so-at least, she would have been thought in great danger by us
of the lake; perhaps an old seaman of the ocean may have means of his
own to take care of her."
"Jasper, all agree in giving you credit for skill in managing the Scud.
You know the lake, you know the cutter-you must be the best judge of
our real situation "
My concern for you, Mabel, may make me more cowardly than common;
but, to be frank, I see but one method of keeping the cutter from being
wrecked in the course of the next two or three hours, and that your uncle
refuses to take. After all, this may be my ignorance; for, as he says,
Ontario is merely fresh-water."
You cannot believe this will make any difference. Think of my dear
father, Jasper!-Think of yourself, of all the lives that depend on a timely
word from you to save them! "
"I think of you, Mabel, and that is more, much more, than all the rest
put together," returned the young man, with a strength of expression and
an earnestness of look, that uttered infinitely more than the words them-
Mabel's heart beat quick, and a gleam of grateful satisfaction shot across
her blushing features; but the alarm was too vivid and too serious to
admit of much relief from happier thoughts. She did not attempt to
repress a look of gratitude, and then she returned to the feeling that was
My uncle's obstinacy must not be permitted to occasion this disaster.
Go once more on deck, Jasper, and ask my father to come into the cabin."
While the young man was complying with this request, Mabel sat listen-
ing to the howling of the storm, and the dashing of the water against the
cutter, in a dread to which she had hitherto been a stranger. Constitu-
tionally an excellent sailor, as the term is used among passengers, she had
not, hitherto, bethought her of any danger, and had passed her time, since
the commencement of the gale, in such womanly employment as her situa-
tion allowed; but now alarm was seriously awakened, she did not fail to
perceive that never before had she been on the water in such a tempest.
The minute or two that elapsed ere the sergeant came appeared an hour, and
she scarcely breathed when she saw him and Jasper descending the ladder
in company. Quick as language could express her meaning, she acquainted
her father with Jasper's opinion of their situation, and entreated him, if
he loved her, or had any regard for his own life, or for those of his men, to
interfere with her uncle, and to induce him to yield the control of the cutter
again to its proper commander.
"Jasper is true, father," she added, earnestly, "and if false, he could
have no motive in wrecking us in this distant part of the lake, at the risk
of all our lives, his own included. Iwill pledge my own life for his truth."
Ay, this is well enough for a young woman who is frightened," answered
the more phlegmatic parent; "but it might not be so prudent or excusable
in one in command of an expedition. Jasper may think the chance of
drowning in getting ashore fully repaid by the chance of escaping as soon
as he reaches the land."
These exclamations were made simultaneously, but they were uttered in
tones expressive of different feelings. In Jasper, surprise was the emotion
uppermost; in Mabel reproach. The old soldier, however, was too much
accustomed to deal frankly with subordinates to heed either; and, after a
moment's thought, he continued, as if neither had spoken.
Nor is brother Cap a man likely to submit to be taught his duty on
board a vessel."
"But, father, when all our lives are in the utmost jeopardy."
So much the worse. The fair-weather commander is no great matter;
it is when things go wrong, that the best officer shows himself in his true
colours. Charles Cap will not be likely to quit the helm because the ship
is in danger. Besides, Jasper Eau-douce, he says your proposal, in itself,
has a suspicious air about it, and sounds more like treachery than
He may think so, but let him send for the pilot, and hear his opinion.
It is well known I have not seen the man since yesterday evening."
This does sound reasonable, and the experiment shall be tried. Follow
me on deck, then, that all may be honest and above-board."
Jasper obeyed, and so keen was the interest of Mabel, that she, too,
ventured as far as the companion-way, where her garments were sufficiently
protected against the violence of the wind, and her person from the spray.
Here maiden modesty induced her to remain, though an absorbed witness
of what was passing.
The pilot soon appeared, and there was no mistaking the look of concern
that he cast around at the scene, as soon as he was in the open air. Some
rumours of the situation of the Scud had found their way below, it is
true; but in this instance, rumour had lessened instead of magnifying the
danger. He was allowed a few minutes to look about him, and then the
question was put as to the course that he thought it most prudent to follow.
"I see no means of saving the cutter but to anchor," he answered,
simply, and without hesitation.
What, out here, in the lake ? inquired Cap, as he had previously
done of Jasper.
"No-but closer in; just at the outer line of the breakers."
The effect of this communication was to leave no doubt, in the mind of
Cap, that there was a secret arrangement between her commander and the
pilot, to cast away the Scud; most probably with the hope of effecting
their escape. He consequently treated the opinion of the latter with the
indifference he had manifested towards that of the former.
I tell you, brother Dunham," he said, in answer to the remonstrances
of the sergeant against his turning a deaf ear to this double representa-
tion, "that no seaman would give such an opinion honestly. To anchor
on a lee shore, in a gale of wind, would be an act of madness that I could
never excuse to the underwriters, in any circumstances, as long as a rag
can be set-but to anchor close to breakers would be insanity."
"His Majesty underwrites the Scud, brother, and I am responsible for
the lives of my command. These men are better acquainted with Lake
TIE PATHFINDER. 95
Ontario than we can possibly be, and I do think their telling the same tale
entitles them to some credit."
Uncle cried Mabel, earnestly,-but a gesture from Jasper induced
the girl to restrain her feelings.
We are drifting down upon the breakers so rapidly," said the young
man, "that little need be said on the subject. Half an hour must settle
the matter, one way or the other; but I warn Master Cap that the surest-
footed man among us will not be able to keep his feet an instant on the
deck of this low craft, should she fairly get within them. Indeed, I make
little doubt that we shall fill and founder before the second line of rollers
"And how would anchoring help the matter?" demanded Cap,
furiously, as if he felt that Jasper was responsible for the effects of the
gale, as well as for the opinion he had just given.
It would at least do no harm," Eau-douce mildly replied. By bring-
ing the cutter head to sea we should lessen her drift; and even if we
dragged through the breakers, it would be with the least possible danger.
I hope, Master Cap, you will allow the pilot and myself to prepare for
anchoring, since the precaution may do good, and can do no harm."
Overhaul your ranges if you will, and get your anchors clear, with all
my heart. We are now in a situation that cannot be much affected by
anything of that sort. Sergeant, a word with you, aft here, if you please."
Cap led his brother-in-law out of ear-shot; and then, with more of
human feeling in his voice and manner than he was apt to exhibit, he
opened his heart on the subject of their real situation.
This a melancholy affair for poor Mabel," he said, blowing his nose,
and speaking with a a slight tremor. "You and I, sergeant, are old
fellows, and used to being near death, if not to actually dying. Our trades
fit us for such scenes; but poor Mabel, she is an affectionate and kind-
hearted girl, and I had hoped to see her comfortably settled and a mother
before my time came. Well, well; we must take the bad with the good in
every v'y'ge, and the only serious objection that an old sea-faring man can
with propriety make to such an event, is that it should happen on this bit
of d-d fresh-water."
Sergeant Dunham was a brave man, and had shown his spirit in scenes
that looked much more appalling than this. But, on all such occasions,
he had been able to act his part against his foes, while here he was pressed
upon by an enemy whom he had no means of resisting. For himself he
cared far less than for his daughter; feeling some of that self-reliance
which seldom deserts a man of firmness, who is in vigorous health, and
who has been accustomed to personal exertions in moments of jeopardy.
But, as respects Mabel, he saw no means of escape, and with a father's
fondness he at once determined that, if either was doomed to perish, he
and his daughter must perish together."
"Do you think this must come to pass ? he asked of Cap, firmly, but
with strong feeling.
Twenty minutes will carry us into the breakers, and, look for yourself,
sergeant, what chance will even the stoutest man among us have in that
cauldron to leeward "
The prospect was, indeed, little calculated to encourage hope. By this
time the Scud was within a mile of the shore, on which the gale was
blowing at right angles, with a violence that forbade the idea of showing
96 THE PA THFINDER.
any additional canvas with a view to claw off. The small portion of the
mainsail that was actually set, and which merely served to keep the head
of the Scud so near the wind as to prevent the waves from breaking over
her, quivered under the gusts as if at each moment the stout threads
which held the complicated fabric together were about to be torn asunder.
The drizzle had ceased; but the air, for a hundred feet above the surface
of the lake, was filled with dazzling spray, which had an appearance not
unlike that of a brilliant mist, while above all, the sun was shining glori-
ously in a cloudless sky. Jasper had noted the omen; and had foretold
that it announced a speedy termination to the gale, though the next hour
or two must decide their fate. Between the cutter and the shore, the view
was still more wild and appalling. The breakers extended near half a
mile; while the water within their line was white with foam, the air above
them was so far filled with vapour and spray as to render the land beyond
hazy and indistinct. Still it could be seen that the latter was high; not a
usual thing for the shores of Ontario; and that it was covered with the
verdant mantle of the interminable forest.
While the sergeant and Cap were gazing at this scene in silence, Jasper
and his people were actively engaged on the forecastle. No sooner had
the young man received permission to resume his old employment, than
appealing to some of the soldiers for aid, he mustered five or six assis-
tants, and set about in earnest the performance of a duty that had been
too long delayed. On these narrow waters, anchors are never stored
in-board, or cables that are intended for service unbent, and Jasper was
saved much of the labour that would have been necessary in a vessel at
sea. The two bowers were soon ready to be let go, ranges of the cables
were overhauled, and then the party paused to look about them. No
changes for the better had occurred, but the cutter was falling slowly in,
and each instant rendered it more certain that she could not gain an inch
One long, earnest survey of the lake ended, Jasper gave new orders in a
manner to prove how much he thought that the time pressed. Two
kedges were got on deck, and hawsers were bent to them; the inner ends
of the hawsers were bent in their turns to the crowns of the anchors, and
everything was got ready to throw them overboard at the proper moment.
These preparations completed, Jasper's manner changed from the excite-
ment of exertion to a look of calm but settled concern. He quitted the
forecastle, where the seas were dashing in-board at every plunge of the
vessel, the duty just mentioned having been executed with the bodies of
the crew frequently buried in the water, and walked to a drier part of the
deck, aft. Here he was met by the Pathfinder, who was standing near
Mabel and the quarter-master. Most of those on board, with the excep-
tion of the individuals who have already been particularly mentioned,
were below, some seeking relief from physical suffering on their pallets;
and others tardily bethinking them of their sins. For the first time, most
probably, since her keel had dipped into the limpid waters of Ontario, the
voice of prayer was heard on board the Scud.
Jasper," commenced his friend, the guide, I have been of no use this
morning, for my gifts are of little account, as you know, in a vessel like
this; but, should it please God to let the sergeant's daughter reach the
shore alive, my acquaintance with the forest may still carry her through
m safety to the garrison."
THE PA THFINDER.
"'Tis a fearful distance thither, Pathfinder Mabel rejoined, the party
being so near together that all that was said by one was overheard by the
others. I am afraid none of us could live to reach the fort."
It would be a risky path, Mabel, and a crooked one; though some of
your sex have undergone even more than that in this wilderness. But,
Jasper, either you or I, or both of us, must man this bark canoe; Mabel's
only chance will lie in getting through the breakers in that."
I would willingly man anything to save Mabel," answered Jasper, with
a melancholy smile; but no human hand, Pathfinder, could carry that
canoe through yonder breakers in a gale like this. I have hopes from
anchoring, after all; for, once before, have we saved the Scud in an
extremity nearly as great as this."
"If we are to anchor, Jasper," the sergeant inquired, why not do it at
once ? Every foot we lose in drifting now, would come into the distance
we shall probably drag when the anchors are let go."
Jasper drew nearer to the sergeant, and took his hand, pressing it
earnestly, and in a way to denote strong, almost uncontrollable feelings.
Sergeant Dunham," he said, solemnly, "you are a good man, though
you have treated me harshly in this business. You love your daughter."
That you cannot doubt, Eau-douce," returned the sergeant, huskily.
"Will you give her-give us all, the only chance for life that is left ? "
"What would you have me do, boy; what would you have me do ? I
have acted according to my judgment hitherto-what would you.have me
Support me against Master Cap for five minutes, and all that man can
do towards saving the Scud shall be done."
The sergeant hesitated, for he was too much of a disciplinarian to fly
in the face of regular orders. He disliked the appearance of vacillation,
too; and then he had a profound respect for his kinsman's seamanship.
While he was deliberating, Cap came from the post he had some time
occupied, which was at the side of the man at the helm, and drew nigh the
Master Eau-douce," he said, as soon as near enough to be heard, "I
have come to inquire if you know any spot near by where this cutter can
be beached ? The moment has arrived when we are driven to this hard
That instant of indecision on the part of Cap secured the triumph of
Jasper. Looking at the sergeant, the young man received a nod that
assured him of all he asked, and he lost not one of those moments that
were getting to be so very precious.
Shall I take the helm? he inquired of Cap, and see if we can
reach a creek that lies to leeward ?"
Do so-do so," said the other, hemming to clear his throat, for he felt
oppressed by a responsibility that weighed all the heavier on his shoulders
on account of his ignorance. Do so, Eau-douce, since, to be frank with
you, I can see nothing better to be done. We must beach or swamp "
Jasper required no more; springing aft, he soon had the tiller in his
own hands. The pilot was prepared for what was to follow, and, at a sign
from his young commander, the rag of sail that had so long been set was
taken in. At that moment, Jasper, watching his time, put the helm up,
the head of a stay-sail was loosened forward, and the light cutter, as if
conscious she was now under the control of familiar hands, fell off, and
THE PA THFINDER.
was soon in the trough of the sea. This perilous instant was passed in
safety, and at the next moment the little vessel appeared flying down to-
ward the breakers, at a rate that threatened instant destruction. The
distances had got to be so short, that five or six minutes sufficed for all
that Jasper wished, and he put the helm down again, when the bows of the
Scud came up to the wind, notwithstanding the turbulence of the waters,
as gracefully as the duck varies its line of direction on the glassy pond.
A sign from Jasper set all in motion on the forecastle, and a kedge was
thrown from each bow. The fearful nature of the drift was now apparent,
even to Mabel's eyes, for the two hawsers ran out like tow-lines. As soon
as they straightened to a slight strain, both anchors were let go, and cable
was given to each, nearly to the better-ends. It was not a difficult task to
snub so little a craft, with ground-tackle of a quality better than common;
and in less than ten minutes from the moment when Jasper went to the
helm the Scud was riding, head to sea, with the two cables stretched
ahead in lines that resembled bars of iron.
This is not well done, Master Jasper! angrily exclaimed Cap, as soon
as he perceived the trick that had been played him-" this is not well done,
sir; I order you to cut, and to beach the cutter, without a moment's delay."
No one, however, seemed disposed to comply with this order, for as long
as Eau-douce saw fit to command, his own people were disposed to obey.
Finding that the men remained passive, Cap, who believed they were in
the utmost peril, turned fiercely to Jasper, and renewed his remonstrances.
You did not head for your pretended creek," he added, after dealing
in some objurgatory remarks that we do not deem it necessary to record,
" but steered for that bluff, where every soul on board would have been
drowned, had we gone ashore!"
And you wish to cut, and put every soul ashore, at that very spot! "
Jasper retorted, a little drily.
"Throw a head-line overboard, and ascertain the drift "-Cap now
roared to the people forward. A sign from Jasper sustaining this order,
it was instantly obeyed. All on deck gathered round the spot, and watched
with nearly breathless interest the result of the experiment. The lead was
no sooner on the bottom, than the line tended forward, and in about two
minutes it was seen that the cutter had drifted her length, dead in towards
the bluff. Jasper looked grave, for he well knew nothing would hold the
vessel did she get within the vortex of the breakers, the first line of which
was appearing and disappearing about a cable's length directly under their
"Traitor! exclaimed Cap, shaking a finger at the young commander,
though passion choked the rest. "You must answer for this with your
life he added after a short pause. "If I were at the head of this expe-
dition, sergeant, I would hang him at the end of the main boom, lest he
"Moderate your feelings, brother-be more moderate, I beseech you;
Jasper appears to have done all for the best, and matters may not be so
bad as you believe them."
Why did he not run for the creek he mentioned-why has he brought
us here, dead to windward of that bluff, and to a spot where even the
breakers are only of half the ordinary width, as if in a hurry to drown all
on board ?"
I headed for the bluff, for the precise reason that the breakers are so