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master's? God bless ye, children! 'twas a kind thought, and kindness goes to the heart as life shortens."
Elizabeth turned her back to the speakers, but the pure cambric, that contrasted to her dark eyes, attested the feelings of the youthful bride. Effingham made a fruitless effort to speak before he succeeded in saying
"It is there cut in plain marble; but it should have been written in letters of gold!"
"Show me the name, boy," said Natty, with simple eagerness; "let me see my own name placed in such honour. 'Tis a gin'rous gift to a man, who leaves none of his name and family behind him in a country, where he has tarried so long."
Effingham guided his finger to the spot, and Natty followed the windings of the letters to the end, with deep interest, when he raised himself from the tomb, and said—
"I suppose it's all right, and it's kindly thought, and kindly done! But what have ye put over the Red skin?"
"You shall hear".
"This stone is raised to the memory of an Indian Chief, of the Delaware tribe, who was known by the several names of John Mohegan; Mohican"—
"Mo-hee-can, lad, they call theirselves! 'he
"Mohican; and Chingagook"
"'Gach, boy;-'gach-gook; Chingachgook; which, intarpreted, means Big-sarpent. The name should be set down right, for an Indian's name has always some meaning in it."
"I will see it altered," said Edwards. was the last of his people who continued to inha
bit this country; and it may be said of him, emphatically, that his faults were those of an Indian, and his virtues those of a man."
"You never said truer word, Mr. Oliver; ah's me! if you had know'd him as I did, in his prime, in that very battle, where the old gentleman, who sleeps by his side, sav'd his life, when them thieves, the Iriquois, had him at the stake, you'd have said all that, and more too. I cut the thongs with this very hand, and gave him my own tomahawk and knife, seeing that the rifle was always my fav'rite weapon. He did lay about him like a man! I met him as I was coming home from the trail, with eleven Mingo scalps on his pole. You needn't shudder, Madam Effingham, for they was all from shav'd heads and warriors. When I look about me, at these hills, where I used-to-could count sometimes twenty smokes, curling over the treetops, from the Delaware camps, it raises mournful thoughts, to think, that not a Red-skin is left of them all; unless it may be a drunken vagabond from the Oneidas, or them Yankee Indians, who, they say, be moving up from the sea-shore; and who belong to none of God's creaters, to my seeming; being, as it were, neither fish nor flesh; neither white man, nor savage. Well! well! the time has come at last, and I must go❞— "Go!" echoed Edwards, "whither do you go?"
The Leather-stocking, who had imbibed, unconsciously, many of the Indian qualities, though he always thought of himself as of a civilized being, compared with even the Delawares, averted his face to conceal the workings of his muscles, as he stooped to lift a large pack from behind the tomb, which he placed deliberately on his shoulders.
" Go!"* exclaimed Elizabeth, approaching him,
with a hurried step; (6 you should not venture se far in the woods alone, at your time of life, Natty; indeed, it is imprudent. He is bent, Effingham, on some distant hunting."
"What Mrs. Effingham tells you is true, Leatherstocking," said Edwards; "there can be no necessity for your submitting to such hardships now! So throw aside your pack, and confine your hunt to the mountains near us, if you will go.'
"Hardship! 'tis a pleasure, children, and the greatest that is left me on this side the grave." No, no; you shall not go to such a distance,' cried Elizabeth, smiling, and laying her white hand on his deer-skin pack. "I am right! I feel his camp-kettle and a canister of powder! he must not be suffered to wander so far from us, Oliver; remember how suddenly Mohegan dropp'd away."
"I know'd the parting would come hard, children; I know'd it would!" said Natty," and so I got aside to look at the graves by myself, and thought if I left ye the keep-sake which the Major gave me, when we first parted in the woods, ye wouldn't take it unkind, but would know, that, let the old man's body go where it might, his feelings staid behind him."
"This means something more than common !" exclaimed the youth; "where is it, Natty, that you purpose going?"
The hunter drew nigh him with a confident, reasoning air, as if what he had to say would silence all objections, and replied—
"Why, lad, they tell me, that on the Big-lakes there's the best of hunting, and a great range, without a white man on it, unless it may be one like myself. I'm weary of living in clearings, and where the hammer is sounding in my ears from sunrise to sundown. And though I'm much bound to ye both,
children-I wouldn't say it if it was not true-I crave to go into the woods ag'in, I do.”
"Woods!" echoed Elizabeth, trembling with her feelings; "do you not call these endless forests woods?"
"Ah! child, these be nothing to a man that's used to the wilderness. I have took but little comfort sin' your father come on with his settlers; but I wouldn't go far, while the life was in the body that lies under the sod there. But now he's gone, and Chingachgook is gone; and you be both young and happy. Yes! the big house has rung with merriment this month past! And now, I thought, was the time to try to get a little comfort, in the close of my days. Woods! indeed! I doesn't call these woods, Madam Effingham, where I lose myself, every day of my life, in the clearings."
"If there be any thing wanting to your comfort," cried Oliver, "name it, Leather-stocking; and if it be attainable, it is yours."
"You mean all for the best, lad; I know it; and so does Madam, too; but your ways isn't my ways. 'Tis like the dead there, who thought, when the breath was in them, that one went east, and one went west, to find their heavens; but they'll meet at last; and so shall we, children.—Yes, ind as you've begun, and we shall meet in the land of the just at last."
"This is so new! so unexpected!" said Elizabeth, in almost breathless excitement; "I had thought you meant to live with us, and die with us, Natty."
"Words are of no avail!" exclaimed her husband; “the habits of forty years are not to be disposessed by the ties of a day. I know you too il to urge you further, Natty; unless you will let me build you a hut, on one of the distant hills,
where we can sometimes see you, and know that you are comfortable."
"Don't fear the Leather-stocking, children; God will see that his days be provided for, and his ind happy. I know you mean all for the best, but our ways doesn't agree. I love the woods, and ye relish the face of man; I eat when hungry, and drink when a-dry, and ye keep stated hours and rules; nay, nay, you even over-feed the dogs, lad, from pure kindness; and hounds should be gaunty to run well. The meanest of God's creaters be made for some use, and I'm form'd for the wilderness; and, if ye love me, let me go where my soul craves to be ag'in !"
The appeal was decisive; not another word of entreaty for him to remain was then uttered; but Elizabeth bent her head to her bosom and wept, while her husband dashed away the tears from his eyes, and, with hands that almost refused to perform their office, he produced his pocket-book, and extended a parcel of bank-notes to the hunter.
"Take these," he said, "at least, take these ; secure them about your person, and, in the hour of need, they will do you good service."
The old man took the notes, and examined them with a curious eye, when he said
"This, then, is some of the new-fashioned money that they've been making at Albany, out of paper! It can't be worth much to they that hasn't larning! No, no, lad-take back the stuff; it will do me no sarvice. I took kear to get all the Frenchman's powder, afore he broke up, and they say lead grows where I'm going. It isn't even fit for wads, seeing that I use none but leather! Madam Effingham, let an old man kiss your hand, and wish God's choicest blessings on you and your'n "