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"O Pathfinder! if you think this so bitter in a dream, what must it be to one who feels its reality, and knows it all to be true, true, true? So true, as to leave no hope; to leave nothing but despair!"
These words burst from Jasper, as a fluid pours from the vessel that has been suddenlybroken. They were uttered involuntarily, almost unconsciously, but with a truth and feeling, that carried with them the instant conviction of their deep sincerity. Pathfinder started, gazed at his friend for quite a minute, like one bewildered; and then it was, that, in despite of all his simplicity, the truth gleamed upon him. All know how corroborating proofs crowd upon the mind, as soon as it catches a direct clue to any hitherto unsuspected fact; how rapidly the thoughts flow, and premises tend to their just conclusions, under such circumstances. Our hero was so confiding by nature, so just, and so much disposed to imagine that all his friends wished him the same happiness as he wished them, that, until this unfortunate moment, a suspicion of Jasper's attachment for Mabel had never been awakened in his bosom. He was however, now too experienced in the emotions that characterise the passion; and the burst of feeling in his companion was too violent, and too natural, to leave any further doubt on the subject. The feeling that first followed this change of opinion was one of deep humility and exquisite pain. He bethought him of Jasper's youth, his higher claims to personal appearance, and all the general probabilities that such a suitor would be more agreeable to Mabel than he could possibly be, himself. Then the noble rectitude of mind, for which the man was so distinguished, asserted its power; it was sustained by his rebuked manner of thinking of himself, and all that habitual deference for the rights and feelings of others, which appeared to be inbred in his very nature. Taking the arm of Jasper, he led him to a log, where he compelled the young man to seat himself, by a sort of irresistible exercise of his iron muscles, and where he placed himself at his side.
The instant his feelings had found vent, Eau-douce was both alarmed at, and ashamed of, their violence. He would have given all he possessed on earth, could the last three minutes be recalled; but he was too frank by disposition, and too much accustomed to deal ingenuously by his friend, to think a moment of attempting further concealment, or of any evasion of the explanation that he knew was about to be demanded. Even while he trembled in an ticipation of what was about to follow, he never contemplated equivocation.
"Jasper," Pathfinder commenced, in a tone so solemn as to thrill on every nerve in his listener's body, "this has surprised
me! You have kinder feelings towards Mabel than I had thought; and, unless my own mistaken vanity and consait have cruelly deceived me, I pity you, boy, from my soul, I do! Yes, I think, I know how to pity any one who has set his heart on a creature like Mabel, unless he sees a prospect of her regarding him as he regards her. This matter must be cleared up, Eaudouce, as the Delawares say, until there shall not be a cloud | atween us."
"What clearing up can it want, Pathfinder? I love Mabel Dunham, and Mabel Dunham does not love me; she prefers you for a husband; and the wisest thing I can do is to go off at once to the salt-water, and try to forget you both.
66 Forget me, Jasper!-that would be a punishment I don't desarve. But how do you know that Mabel prefars me ?-how do you know it, lad? to me it seems impossible, like!"
"Is she not to marry you, and would Mabel marry a man she does not love?"
"She has been hard urged by the Sergeant, she has; and a dutiful child may have found it difficult to withstand the wishes of a dying parent. Have you ever told Mabel, that you prefarred her, Jasper? that you bore her these feelings?"
Never, Pathfinder! I would not do you that wrong."
"I believe you, lad, I do believe you; and I think you would now go off to the salt-water, and let the scent die with you. But this must not be. Mabel shall hear all, and she shall have her own way, if my heart breaks in the trial, she shall. No words have ever passed atween you, then, Jasper?"
"Nothing of account, nothing direct. Still, I will own all my foolishness, Pathfinder, for I ought to own it to a generous friend like you, and there will be an end of it. You know how young people understand each other, or think they understand each other, without always speaking out in plain speech; and get to know each other's thoughts, or to think they know them, by. means of a hundred little ways?"
"Not 1, Jasper, not I," truly answered the guide; for, sooth to say, his advances had never been met with any of that sweet and precious encouragement that silently marks the course of sympathy united to passion. "Not I, Jasper; I know nothing of all this. Mabel has always treated me fairly, and said what she has had to say, in speech as plain as tongue could tell it."
"You have had the pleasure of hearing her say that she loved you, Pathfinder ?"
"Why no, Jasper, not just that, in words. She has told me that we never could, never ought to be married; that she was not good enough for me; though she did say that she honoured me,
and respected me. But then the Sergeant said it was always so with the youthful and timid; that her mother did so, and said so, afore her; and that I ought to be satisfied if she would consent, on any terms, to marry me: and, therefore, I have concluded that all was right, I have."
In spite of all his friendship for the successful wooer, in spite of all his honest sincere wishes for his happiness, we should be unfaithful chroniclers, did we not own that Jasper felt his heart bound with an uncontrollable feeling of delight at this admission. It was not that he saw or felt any hope connected with the circumstance; but it was grateful to the jealous covetousness of unlimited love, thus to learn that no other ears had heard the sweet confessions that were denied its own.
"Tell me more of this manner of talking without the use of the tongue," continued Pathfinder, whose countenance was getting to be grave, and who now questioned his companion like one that seemed to anticipate evil in the reply. "I can and have conversed with Chingachgook, and with his son Uncas, too, in that mode, afore the latter fell; but I did'nt know that young girls practysed this art; and, least of all, Mabel Dunham."
"'T is nothing, Pathfinder. I mean only a look, or a smile, or a glance of the eye, or the trembling of an arm, or a hand, when the young woman has had occasion to touch me; and because I have been weak enough to tremble even at Mabel's breath, or her brushing me with her clothes, my vain thoughts have misled me. I never spoke plainly to Mabel, myself; and now there is no use for it, since there is clearly no hope."
Jasper," returned Pathfinder, simply, but with a dignity that precluded farther remarks at the moment, "we will talk of the Sergeant's funeral, and of our own departure from this island. After these things are disposed of it will be time enough to say more of the Sergeant's daughter. This matter must be looked into; for the father left me the care of his child.”
Jasper was glad enough to change the subject, and the friends separated, each charged with the duty most peculiar to his own station and habits.
That afternoon all the dead were interred, the grave of Sergeant Dunham being dug in the centre of the glade, beneath the shade of a huge elm. Mabel wept bitterly at the ceremony, and she found relief in thus disburthening her sorrow. The night passed tranquilly, as did the whole of the following day, Jasper declaring that the gale was too severe to venture on the lake. This circumstance detained Captain Sanglier, also who did not quit the island until the morning of the third day after the death of Dunham, when the weather had moderated, and the wind had be
come fair. Then, indeed, he departed, after taking leave of the Pathfinder, in the manner of one who believed he was in company of a distinguished character, for the last time. The two separated like those who respect one another, while each felt that the other was an enigma to himself.
Playful she turn'd, that he might see
His eyes met hers, that smile was gone.-LALLA ROOKH.
THE Occurrences of the last few days had been too exciting, and had made too many demands on the fortitude of our heroine, to leave her in the helplessness of grief. She mourned for her father, and she occasionally shuddered, as she recalled the sudden death of Jeannie, and all the horrible scenes she had witnessed, but, on the whole, she had aroused herself, and was no longer in the deep depression that usually accompanies grief. Perhaps the overwhelming, almost stupifying, sorrow that crushed poor June, and left her for nearly twenty-four hours in a state of stupor, assisted Mabel in conquering her own feelings, for she had felt called on to administer consolation to the young Indian woman. This she had done, in the quiet, soothing, insinuating way, in which her sex usually exerts its influence on such occasions.
The morning of the third day was set for that on which the Scud was to sail. Jasper had made all his preparations; the different effects were embarked, and Mabel had taken leave of June, a painful and affectionate parting. In a word, all was ready, and every soul had left the island but the Indian woman, Pathfinder, Jasper, and our heroine. The former had gone into a thicket to weep, and the three last were approaching the spot where three canoes lay, one of which was the property of June, and the other two were in waiting to carry the others off to the Scud. Pathfinder led the way, but, when he drew near the shore, instead of taking the direction to the boats, he motioned to his companions to follow, and proceeded to a fallen tree, that lay on the margin of the glade, and out of view of those in the cutter. Seating himself on the trunk, he signed to Mabel to take her place on one side of him, and to Jasper to occupy the other.
"Sit down here, Mabel; sit down there, Eau-douce," he commenced, as soon as he had taken his own seat; "I've something that lies heavy on my mind, and now is the time to take it off, if
it's ever to be done. Sit down, Mabel, and let me lighten my heart, if not my conscience, while I've the strength to do it."
The pause that succeeded lasted two or three minutes, and both the young people wondered what was to come next. The idea that Pathfinder could have any weight on his conscience, seeming equally improbable to each.
"Mabel," our hero at length resumed, "we must talk plainly to each other, afore we join your uncle in the cutter, where the Salt-water has slept every night since the last rally, for he says it's the only place in which a man can be sure of keeping the hair on his head, he does-Ah's me! what have I to do with these follies and sayings, now! I try to be pleasant, and to feel lighthearted, but the power of man can't make water run up stream. Mabel, you know that the Sergeant, afore he left us, had settled it, atween us two, that we were to become man and wife, and that we were to live together, and to love one another as long as the Lord was pleased to keep us both on 'arth; es, and afterwards, too?"
Mabel's cheeks had regained a little of their ancient bloom, in the fresh air of the morning; but, at this unlooked-for address they blanched again, nearly to the pallid hue which grief had imprinted there. Still, she looked kindly, though seriously, at Pathfinder, and even endeavoured to force a smile.
"Very true, my excellent friend," she answered; "this was my poor father's wish, and I feel certain that a whole life devoted to your welfare and comforts could scarcely repay you for all you have done for us."
"I fear me, Mabel, that man and wife needs be bound together by a stronger tie than such feelings, I do. You have done nothing for me, or nothing of any account, and yet my very heart yearns towards you, it does; and therefore it seems likely that these feelings come from something besides saving scalps and guiding through woods."
Mabel's cheek had begun to glow again; and, though she struggled hard to smile, her voice trembled a little, as she answered.
"Had we not better postpone this conversation, Pathfinder?" she said; "we are not alone; and nothing is so unpleasant to a listener, they say, as family matters in which he feels no interest."
"It's because we are not alone, Mabel, or rather because Jasper is with us, that I wish to talk of this matter. The Sergeant believed I might make a suitable companion for you, and, though I had misgivings about it—yes, I had many misgivings—he finally persuaded me into the idee, and things came round atween us, as you know. But, when you promised your father to marry me,