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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1889, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and for the
THE plan of this tale is old, having suggested itself to the writer many years since; though the details are altogether of recent invention. The idea of associating seamen and savages, in incidents that might be supposed characteristic of the Great Lakes, having been mentioned to a publisher, the latter obtained something like a pledge from the Author, to carry out the design at some future day; which pledge is now tardily and imperfectly redeemed.
The reader may recognize an old friend, under new circumstances, in the principal character of this legend. If it should be found that the exhibition made of this old acquaintance, in the novel circumstances in which he appears, shall not lessen his favour with the public, it will be a source of extreme gratification to the writer, since he has an interest in the individual in question, that falls little short of reality. It is not an easy task, however, to introduce the same character in four separate works, and to maintain the peculiarities that are indispensable to identity, without incurring a risk of fatiguing the reader with sameness; and the present experiment has been so long delayed, quite as much from doubts of its success as from any other cause. In this, as in every other undertaking, it must be the "end" that will "crown the work.”
The Indian character has so little variety, that it has been an object to avoid dwelling on it too much, on the present occasion. Its association with the sailor,
too, it is feared, will be found to have more novelty than interest.
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 older American towns, and which were the seats of a species of civilization, long before the greater portion of even the older states was rescued from the wilderness.
Ontario, in our own times, has been the scene of important naval evolutions. Fleets have manœuvred on those waters, which, half a century since, were as deserted as waters well can be; 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