Obrázky stránek

leaned against a tree, and then each stood without stretching out an arm, as his eyes fell on the form of the girl. The Indian ulttered a few words to his companion, and resumed his seat and his meal as calmly as if no interruption had occurred. On the contrary, the white man left the fire, and came forward to meet Mabel.

The latter saw, as the stranger approached, that she was about to be addressed by one of her own color, though his dress was so strange 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 was in no danger. Still she paused, in obedience to a law of her habits if not of nature, which rendered her averse to the appearance of advancing too freely to meet one of the other sex, under the circumstances in which she was placed.

"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 justice. I'm 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-skins on the other side of the Big Lakes, I am called la Longue Carabine; by the Mohicans, a just-minded and upright tribe, what is left of them, Hawk-eye; 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 instantaneons. 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 be by no means particular, and half the time they don't know the difference atween 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 Serjeant Dunham's daughter, the great Prophet of the Delawares never uttered a plainer 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 Arrowhead is an ambitious chief. Is 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 misfortinate at any rate, for I promised the Serjeant 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 sarvice if wanted. It's lucky we did, for I doubt if Arrowhead be the man to shoot the current."

"Here come my uncle and the Tuscarora, and our parties can now join."

As Mabel concluded, Cap ard 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.

[graphic][merged small]


Yea! long as nature's humblest child

Hath kept her temple undefiled

By simple sacrifice,

Earth's fairest scenes are all his own,

He is a monarch, and his throne

Is built amid the skies!


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 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 honors as well as troubles in his day. He has an Injin name fit for a chief, but as the language is not always easy for the inexperienced to pronounce, we nat'rally 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 gripe; "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 pretensions 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 landfall."

“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 thau 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 time."

"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 land all round your lake."

"And, uncle, is there not more or less land all round the ocean?" said Magnet, quickly; for she dreaded a premature

« PředchozíPokračovat »