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FOLLOWING the order of events, this book should be the third in the Series of the Leather-Stocking Tales. In "The Deerslayer," Natty Bumppo, under the sobriquet which forms the title of that work, is represented as a youth, just commencing his forest career as a warrior; having, for several years, been a hunter so celebrated as already to have gained the honorable appellation he then bore. In “The Last of the Mohicans” he appears as Hawkeye, and is present at the death of young Uncas; while in this tale he reappears in the same war of '56, in company with bis Mohican friend, still in the vigor of manhood, and young enough to feel that master-passion to which all conditions of men, all tempers, and, we might almost say, all ages, submit, under circumstances that are incited to call it into existence.
“The Pathfinder" did not originally appear for several years after the publication of "The Prairie,” the work in which the leading character of both had closed his career by death. It was, perhaps, a too hazardous experiment to recall to life, in this manner, and after so long an interval, a character that was somewhat a favorite with the reading world, and which had been regularly consigned to his grave, like any living man. It is probably owing to this severe ordeal that the work, like its successor, "The Deerslayer,” has been so little noticed; scarce one in ten of those who know all about the three earliest books of the series having even a knowledge of the existence of the last at all. That this caprice in taste and favor is in no way dependent on merit, the writer feels certain; for, though the world will ever maintain that an author is always the worst judge of his own productions, one who has written much, and regards all his literary progeny with more or less of a paternal eye, must have a reasonably accurate knowledge of what he has been about the greater part of his life. Such a man may form too high an estimate of his relative merits, as relates to others; but it is not easy to see why he should fall into this error, more than another, as relates to himself. His general standard may be raised too high by means of self-love; but, unless he be disposed to maintain the equal perfection of what he has done, as probably no man was ever yet fool enough to do, he may very well have shrewd conjectures as to the comparative merits and defects of his own productions.
This work, on its appearance, was rudely and maliciously assailed by certain individuals out of pure personal malignancy. It is scarcely worth the author's while, nor would it have any interest for the reader, to expose the motives and frauds of these individuals, who have pretty effectually vindicated the writer by their own subsequent conduct. But even the falsest of men pay so much homage to truth, as to strive to seem its votaries. In attacking "The Pathfinder,” the persons alluded to pointed out faults that the author, for the first time, has now ascertained to be real; and much to his surprise, as of most of them he is entirely innocent. They are purely errors of the press, unless, indeed, the writer can justly be accused of having been a careless proof-reader. A single instance of the mistakes he means may be given in explanation of the manner in which the book was originally got up.
The heroine of this tale was at first called “Agnes.” In the fifth or sixth chapter this name was changed to “Mabel," and the manuscript was altered accordingly. Owing to inadvertency, however, the original appellation stood in several places, and the principal female character of the book, until now, has had the advantage of going by two names! Many other typographical errors exist in the earlier editions, most of which, it is believed, are corrected in this.
There are a few discrepancies in the facts of this work, as connected with the facts of the different books of the series. They are not material, and it was thought fairer to let them stand as proof of the manner in which the books were originally written, than to make any changes in the text.
In youth, when belonging to the navy, the writer of this book served for some time on the great Western lakes. He was, indeed, one of those who first carried the cockade of the republic on those inland seas. This was pretty early in the present century, when the navigation was still confined to the employment of a few ships and schooners. Since that day, light may have said to have broken into the wilderness, and the rays of the sun have penetrated to tens of thousands of beautiful valleys and plains, that then lay in “grateful shade.” Towns have been built along the whole of the extended line of coasts, and the traveller now stops at many a place of ten or fifteen, and at one of even fifty thousand inhabitants, where a few huts then marked the natural sites of future marts. In a word, though the scenes of this book are believed to have once been as nearly accurate as is required by the laws which govern fiction, they are so no longer. Oswego is a large and thriving town; Toronto and Kingston, on the other side of the lake, compete with it; while Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Chicago, on the upper lakes, to say nothing of a hundred places of lesser note, are fast advancing to the level of commercial places of great local importance. In these changes, the energy of youth and abundance is quite as much apparent as any thing else; and it is ardently to be hoped that the fruits of the gifts of a most bountiful Providence may not be mistaken for any peculiar qualities in those who have been their beneficiaries. A just appreciation of the first of these facts will render us grateful and meek; while the vainglorious, who are so apt to ascribe all to themselves, will be certain to live long enough to ascertain the magnitude of their error. That great results are intended to be produced by means of these wonderful changes, we firmly believe; but that they will prove to be the precise results now so generally anticipated, in consulting the experience of the past, and taking the nature of man into the account, the reflecting and intelligent may be permitted to doubt.
It may strike the novice as an anachronism, to place vessels on Ontario in the middle of the eighteenth century, but, in this particular, facts will fully bear out all the license of the fiction. Although the precise vessels mentioned in these pages may never have existed on that water, or anywhere else, others so nearly resembling them as to form a sufficient authority for their introduction into a work of fiction, are known to have navigated that inland sea, even at a period much earlier than the one just mentioned. It is a fact not generally remembered, however well known it may be, that there are isolated spots along the line of the great lakes, that date, as settlements, as far back as many of the oldest American towns, and which were the seats of a species of civilization long before the greater portion of even the original States was rescued from the wilderness.
Ontario, in our own times, has been the scene of important naval evolutions. Fleets have maneuvred on those waters, which, half a century since, were desert wastes; and the day is not distant, when the whole of that vast range of lakes will become the seat of empire, and fraught with all the interests of human society. A passing glimpse, even though it be in a work of fiction, of what that vast region so lately was, may help to make up the sum of knowledge by which alone a just appreciation can be formed of the wonderful means by which Providence is clearing the way for the advancement of civilization across the whole American continent.
ascribing it to the whirlwinds that produce waCHAPTER I.
ter-spouts on the ocean; while others again im“ The turf shall be my fragrant shrine,
pute it to sudden and violent passages of streams My temple, Lord I that arch of thine;
of the electric fluid ; but the effects in the woods My censer's breath the mountain airs,
are familiar to all. On the upper margin of the And silent thoughts my only prayers."
opening to which there is allusion, the viewless MOORE.
influence had piled tree on tree, in such a manner THE sublimity connected with vastness is fa- as had not only enabled the two males of the parmiliar to every eye. The most abstruse, the most ty to ascend to an elevation of some thirty feet far-reaching, perhaps the most chastened of the above the level of the earth, but, with a little poet's thoughts, crowd on the imagination as he care and encouragement, to induce their more gazes into the depths of the illimitable void. The timid companions to accompany them. The vast expanse of the ocean is seldom seen by the novice trunks that had been broken and driven by the with indifference; and the mind, even in the ob- force of the gust, lay blended like jack-straws; scurity of night, finds a parallel to that grandeur while their branches, still exhaling the fragrance which seems inseparable from images that the of wilted leaves, were interlaced in a manner to senses cannot compass. With feelings akin to afford sufficient support to the hands. One treo this admiration and awe—the offspring of sub- had been completely uprooted; and its lower end limity-were the different characters with which filled with earth, had been cast uppermost, in a the action of this tale must open, gazing on the way to supply a sort of staging for the four adscene before them. Four persons in all—two of venturers, when they had gained the desired diseach sex—they had managed to ascend a pile of tance from the ground. trees, that had been uptorn by a tempest, to catch The reader is to anticipate none of the applia view of the objects that surrounded them. It ances of people of condition in the description of is still the practice of the country to call these the personal appearances of the group in quesspots windrows. By letting in the light of heav- tion. They were all wayfarers in the wilderness; en upon the dark and damp recesses of the wood, and had they not been, neither their previous they form a sort of oases in the solemn obscurity habits nor their actual social positions would have of the virgin forests of America. The particular accustomed them to many of the luxuries of rank. windrow of which we are writing, lay on the Two of the party, indeed, a male and a female, brow a gentle acclivity, and it opened the way belonged to the native owners of the soil, being for an extensive view to those who might occupy | Indians of the well-known tribe of the Tuscaroits upper margin, a rare occurrence to the travel ras; while their companions were a man, who ler in the woods. As usual, the spot was small, bore about him the peculiarities of one who had but owing to the circumstances of its lying on the passed his days on the ocean, and this, too, in a low acclivity mentioned, and that of the opening's station little, if any, above that of a common marextending downward, it offered more than com- iner; while his female associate was a maiden of mon advantages to the eye. Philosophy has not a class in no great degree superior to his own; yet determined the nature of the power that so though her youth, sweetness of countenance, and often lays desolate spots of this description : some a modest but spirited mien, lent that character of
intellect and refinement which adds so much to , ful of leaves to a look at the real Atlantic. You
And, truly, the scene was of a nature deeply * More!” returned the uncle, giving an im-
“See !” exclaimed the niece, who was more It was the vastness of the view, the nearly occupied with the sublimity and beauty of the unbroken surface of verdure, that contained the “boundless wood” than with her uncle's arguprinciple of grandeur. The beauty was to be ments, “yonder is a smoke curling over the tops traced in the delicate tints, relieved by gradations of the trees--can it come from a house ?” of light and shadow; while the solemn repose in- “Ay, ay; there is a look of humanity in that duced the feeling allied to awe.
smoke," returned the old seaman," which is worth Uncle," said the wondering but pleased girl, a thousand trees; I must show it to Arrowhead, addressing her male companion, whose arm she who may be running past a port without knowing rather touched than leaned on, to steady her own it. It is probable there is a camboose where light but firm footing, “this is like a view of the there is a smoke." ocean you so much love !"
As he concluded, the uncle drew a hand from “So much for ignorance, and a girl's fancy, his bosom, touched the male Indian, who was Magnet,” a term of affection the sailor often used standing near him, lightly on the shoulder, and in allusion to his niece's personal attractions, “no pointed out a thin line of vapor that was stealing one but a child would think of likening this hand. I slowly out of the wilderness of leaves, at a dis.
tance of about a mile, and was diffusing itself, in “No Tuscarora-no Oneida-no Mohawk almost imperceptible threads of humidity, in the pale-face fire." quivering atmosphere. The Tuscarora was one “ The devil it is !-Well, Magnet, this surpasses of those noble-looking warriors that were oftener a seaman's philosophy-we old sea-dogs can tell met with among the aborigines of this continent a soldier's from a sailor's quid, or a lubber's nest a century since, than to-day; and, while he had from a mate's hammock; but I do not think the mingled sufficiently with the colonists to be fa- oldest admiral in his majesty's fleet can tell a miliar with their habits, and even with their lan. king's smoke from a collier's !” guage, he had lost little, if any, of the wild gran. The idea that human beings were in their videur and simple dignity of a chief. Between cinity in that ocean of wilderness, had deepened him and the old seaman the intercourse had been the flush on the blooming cheek and brightened friendly, but distant, for the Indian had been too the eye of the fair creature at his side, but she much accustomed to mingle with the officers of soon turned with a look of surprise to her relathe different military posts he had frequented, tive, and said, hesitatingly, for both had often adnot to understand that his present companion was mired the Tuscarora's knowledge, or we might only a subordinate. So imposing, indeed, had almost say, instinct : been the quiet superiority of the Tuscarora's re- "A pale-face's fire! Surely, uncle, he cannot serve, that Charles Cap, for so was the seaman know that !" named, in his most dogmatical or facetious mo- “Ten days since, child, I would have sworn ments, had not ventured on familiarity, in an in- to it; but, now, I hardly know what to believe.tercourse that had now lasted more than a week. | May I take the liberty of asking, Arrowhead, why The sight of the curling smoke, however, had you fancy that smoke, now, a pale-face's smoke, struck the latter like the sudden appearance of a and not a red-skin's ?" sail at sea, and, for the first time since they met, “Wet wood,” returned the warrior, with the he ventured to touch the warrior, as has been re- calmness with which the pedagogue might point lated.
out an arithmetical demonstration to his puzzled The quick eye of the Tuscarora instantly pupil. “Much wet-much smoke; much water caught a sight of the smoke, and for quite a min-1-black smoke." ute he stood, slightly raised on tiptoe, with dis- “But, begging your pardon, Master Arrowtended nostrils, like the buck that scents a taint head, the smoke is not black, nor is there much in the air, and a gaze as riveted as that of a trained of it. To my eye, now, it is as light and fanciful pointer, while he waits his master's. aim. Then, a smoke as ever rose from a captain's tea-kettle, falling back on his feet, a low exclamation, in the when nothing was left to make the fire but a few soft tones that form so singular a contrast to its chips from the dunnage.” harsher cries in the Indian warrior's voice, was “ Too much water,' returned Arrowhead, barely audible; otherwise, he was undisturbed with a slight nod of the head; “Tuscarora too His countenance was calm, and his quick, dark cunning to make fire with water ; pale-face too
eagle-eye moved over the leafy panorama, as if to much book, and burn any thing; much book, 'take in at a glance every circumstance that might little know." enlighten his mind. That the long journey they “Well, that's reasonable, I allow,” said Cap, had attempted to make through a broad belt of who was no devotee of learning ; "he means that wilderness, was necessarily attended with danger, as a bit at your reading, Magnet, for the chief has both uncle and niece well knew; though neither sensible notions of things in his own way.-How could at once determine whether the sign that far, now, Arrowhead, do you make us by your others were in their vicinity, was the barbinger calculation, from the bit of a pond that you call of good or evil.
the Great Lake, and toward which we have been There must be Oneidas or Tuscaroras near so many days shaping our course ?" us, Arrowhead,” said Cap, addressing his Indian The Tuscarora looked at the seaman with companion by his conventional English name; quiet superiority, as he answered : " will it not be well to join company with them, “Ontario, like heaven; one sun, and the and get a comfortable berth for the night in great traveller will know it." their wigwam?”
“Well, I have been a great traveller, I can“No wigwam there," Arrowhead answered, not deny, but of all my v'y'ges this has been the in his unmoved manner" too much tree." longest, the least profitable, and the farthest in
“But Indians must be there ; perhaps some land. If this body of fresh water is so nigh, old messmates of your own, Master Arrowhead.” | Arrowhead, and at the same time so large, one