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. “ Stand you behind this tree, Magnet, lest the knaves take it into their heads to fire a broadside without a parley, and I will soon learn what colours they sail under.”
The uncle had placed his two hands to his mouth to form a trumpet, and was about to give the promised hail, when a rapid movement from the hand Arrowhead defeated the intention by deranging the instrument
" Red man, Mohican,” said the Tuscarora ; “good ; pale-faces, Yengeese."
“ These are heavenly tidings," murmured Mabel, who little relished the prospect of a deadly fray in that remote wilderness. “ Let us approach at once, dear uncle, and proclaim ourselves friends."
“ Good," said the Tuscarora ; “red man cool, and know; pale-face, hurried, and fire. Let the squaw go.”
“ What !” said Cap, in astonishment, “send little Magnet ahead, as a look-out, while two lubbers, like you and me, lie-to, to see what sort of a land-fall she will make! If I do, I
“ It is wisest, uncle,” interrupted the generous girl, “ and I have no fear. No Christian, seeing a woman approach alone, would fire upon
my presence will be a pledge of peace. Let me go forward, as Arrowhead wishes, and all will be well. We are, as yet, unseen, and the surprise of the strangers will not partake of alarm.”
“ Good," returned Arrowhead, who did not conceal his approbation of Mabel's spirit.
“ It has an unseaman-like look," answered Cap; “but, being in the woods, no one will know it. If you think, Mabel
Uncle, I know. There is no cause to fear for me ; and you are always nigh to protect me.”
“ Well, take one of the pistols, then
“ Nay, I had better rely on my youth and feebleness," said the girl, smiling, while her colour heightened under her feelings. “ Among Christian men, a woman's best guard is her claim to their protection. I know nothing of arms, and wish to live in ignorance of them.”
The uncle desisted ; and, after receiving a few cautious instructions from the Tuscarora, Mabel rallied all her
spirit, and advanced alone towards the group seated near the fire. Although the heart of the girl beat quick, her step was firm, and her movements, seemingly, were without reluctance, A death-like silence reigned in the forest; for they towards whom she approached were too much occupied in appeasing their hunger, to avert their looks, for an instant from the important business in which they were all engaged. When Mabel, however, had got within a hundred feet of the fire, she trod upon a dried stick, and the trifling noise produced by her light footstep caused the Mohican, as Arrowhead had pronounced the Indian to be, and his companion, whose character had been thought so equivocal, to rise to their feet, as quick as thought. Both glanced at the rifles that 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 uttered 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 colour, 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.
“ 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 who are disposed to peace and justice. I am 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 instanta
The moment she heard the last sobriquet, she clasped her hands eagerly and repeated the word “ Path. finder !”
“ 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 are by no means particular, and half the time they don't know the difference between 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 Sergeant Dunham's daughter, the great Prophet of the Delawares never uttered more 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 the 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 misfortunate, at any rate ; for I promised the Sergeant 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 service if wanted. It is 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 and 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.
Yea! long as Nature's humblest child
By simple sacrifice,
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 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 be. stowed on Mabel, are the friends your worthy father has sent to meet you.
This is a great Delaware; and one who has had honours as well as troubles in his day. He has an Indian name fit for a chief; but as the language is not always easy for the inexperienced to pronounce, we naturally 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 which 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 land-fall.”