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“ Ha, you do make use of some of the terms, I find, and that with propriety; though, on the whole, I fear you have seen more green than blue water.”
“ It is not surprising that we should get some of the phrases which belong to the land ; for we are seldom out of sight of it twenty-four hours at a time.”
“ More's the pity, boy ; more's the pity. A very little land ought to go a great way with a seafaring man. Now, if the truth were known, Master Western, I suppose there is more or less land all round your lake.”
" And, uncle, is there not more or less land around the ocean?” said Magnet, quickly ; for she dreaded a premature display of the old seaman's peculiar dogmatism, not to say pedantry.
“ No, child, there is more or less ocean all round the land; that's what I tell the people ashore, youngster. They are living, as it might be, in the midst of the sea, without knowing it; by sufferance, as it were, the water being so much the more powerful, and the largest. But there is no end to conceit in this world; for a fellow who never saw salt water often fancies he knows more than one who has gone round the Horn. . No, no, this earth is pretty much an island ; and all that can be truly said not to be so is water."
Young Western had a profound deference for a mariner of the ocean, on which he had often pined to sail ; but he had also a natural regard for the broad sheet on which he had passed his life, and which was not without its beauties
in his eyes.
“ What you say, sir," he answered, modestly, “ true, as to the Atlantic; but we have a respect for the land, up here, on Ontario."
“ That is because you are always land-locked,” returned Cap, laughing heartily; “ but yonder is the Pathfinder, as they call him, with some smoking platters, inviting us to share in his mess; and I will confess that one gets no veni
Master Western, civility to girls, at your time of life, comes as easy as taking in the slack of the ensign halyards; and if you will just keep an eye to her kid and
son at sea.
can, while I join the mess of the Pathfinder and our Indian friends, I make no doubt she will remember it.”
Master Cap uttered more than he was aware of at the time. Jasper Western did attend to the wants of Mabel, and she long remembered the kind manly attention of the young sailor, at this their first interview. He placed the end of a log for a seat, obtained for her a delicious morsel of the venison, gave her a draught of pure water from the spring, and as he sat near her, fast won his way to her es. teem by his gentle but frank manner of manifesting his care ; homage that woman always wishes to receive, but which is never so flattering or so agreeable as when it comes from the young to those of their own age— from the manly to the gentle. Like most of those who pass their time excluded from the society of the softer sex, young Western was earnest, sincere, and kind in his attentions, which, though they wanted a conventional refinement, which, perhaps, Mabel never missed, had those winning qualities that prove very sufficient as substitutes. Leaving these two unsophisticated young people to become acquainted through their feelings, rather than their expressed thoughts, we will turn to the group, in which the uncle had already become a principal actor.
The party had taken their places around a platter of venison steaks, which served for the common use, and the discourse naturally partook of the characters of the different individuals which composed it. The Indians were silent and industrious, the appetite of the aboriginal American for venison being seemingly inappeasable, while the two white men were communicative, each of the latter being garrulous and opinionated in his way. But, as the dialogue will put the reader in possession of certain facts that may render the succeeding narrative more clear, it will be well to record it.
“ There must be satisfaction in this life of yours, no doubt, Mr. Pathfinder,” continued Cap, when the hunger of the travellers was so far appeased that they began to pick and choose
“ it has some of the chances and luck that we seamen like; and if ours is all water, yours is all land”
“ Nay, we have water too, in our journeyings and
marches," returned his white companion ; we border-men handle the paddle and the spear, almost as much as the rifle and the hunting-knife.”
but do you handle the brace and the bow-line, the wheel and the lead-line, the reef-point and the toprope? The paddle is a good thing, out of doubt, in a canoe ; but of what use is it in the ship? ”
“ Nay, I respect all men in their callings, and I can be. lieve the things you mention have their uses. One who has lived, like myself, in company with many tribes, understands differences in usages. The paint of a Mingo is not the paint of a Delaware ; and he who should expect to see a warrior in the dress of a squaw might be disappointed. I am not yet very old, but I have lived in the woods, and have some acquaintance with human natur'. I never believed much in the learning of them that dwell in towns, for I never yet met with one that had an eye for a rifle, or a trail.”
“ That's my manner of reasoning, Master Pathfinder, to a yarn.
Walking about streets, going to church of Sundays, and hearing sermons, never yet made a man of a human being. Send the boy out upon the broad ocean, if you wish to open his eyes, and let him look upon foreign nations, or, what I call the face of nature, if you wish him to understand his own character. Now, there is my brother-in-law, the Sergeant, he is as good a fellow as ever broke a biscuit, in his way ; but what is he, after all ? why, nothing but a soldier.
A sergeant, to be sure, but that is a sort of a soldier, you know. When he wished to marry poor Bridget, my sister, I told the girl what he was, as in duty bound, and what she might expect from such a husband; but you know how it is with girls when their minds are jammed by an inclination. It is true, the Sergeant has risen in his calling, and they say he is an important man at the fort ; but his poor wife has not lived to see it all, for she has now been dead these fourteen years.”
“ A soldier's calling is honourable, provided he has fi't only on the side of right,” returned the Pathfinder ; as the Frenchers are always wrong, and his sacred Majesty
and these colonies are always right, I take it the Sergeant has a quiet conscience as well as a good character. I have never slept more sweetly than when I have fi't the Mingos, though it is the law with me to fight always like a white man, and never like an Indian.
The Sarpent, here, has his fashions, and I have mine; and yet have we fi't side by side, these many years, without either thinking a hard thought consarning the other's ways. I tell him there is but one heaven and one hell, notwithstanding his traditions, though there are many paths to both."
“ That is rational; and he is bound to believe you, though, I fancy, most of the roads to the last are on dry land. The sea is what my poor sister Bridget used to call a 'purifying place,' and one is out of the
way of temptation when out of sight of land. I doubt if as much can be said in favour of your lakes, up hereaway."
“ That towns and settlements lead to sin, I will allow; but our lakes are bordered by the forests, and one is every day called upon to worship God in such a temple. That men are not always the same, even in the wilderness, I must admit, for the difference between a Mingo and a Delaware is as plain to be seen as the difference between the sun and the moon. I am glad, friend Cap, that we have met, however, if it be only that you may tell the Big Sarpent here, that there are lakes in which the water is salt.
We have been pretty much of one mind since our acquaintance began, and if the Mohican has only half the faith in me that I have in him, he believes all that I have told him touching the white men's ways and natur's laws; but it has always seemed to me that none of the red-skins have given as free a belief as an honest man likes to the accounts of the Big Salt Lakes, and to that of there being rivers that flow up stream.”
“ This comes of getting things wrong end foremost," answered Cap, with a condescending nod. “ You have thought of your lakes and rifts, as the ship; and of the ocean and the tides, as the boat. Neither Arrowhead nor the Serpent need doubt what you have said concerning both, though I confess, myself, to some difficulty in swallowing the tale about there being inland seas at all,
and still more that there is any sea of fresh water. I have come this long journey as much to satisfy my own eyes concerning these facts, as to oblige the Sergeant and Magnet, though the first was my sister's husband, and I love the last like a child."
“ You are wrong, friend Cap, very wrong, to distrust the power of God, in any thing," returned Pathfinder, earnestly. “ They that live in the settlements and the towns have confined and unjust opinions consarning the might of His hand, but we, who pass our time in His very presence, as it might be, see things differently — I mean, such of us as have white natur’s. A red-skin has his notions, and it is right that it should be so; and if they are not exactly the same as a Christian white man's, there is no harm in it. Still, there are matters which belong altogether to the ordering of God's providence ; and these salt and fresh water lakes are some of them. I do not pretend to account for these things, but I think it the duty of all to believe in them."
“ Hold on there, Master Pathfinder,” interrupted Cap, not without some heat; “in the way of a proper and manly faith, I will turn my back on no one, when afloat. Although more accustomed to make all snug aloft, and to show the proper canvass, than to pray when the hurricane comes, I know that we are but helpless mortals at times, and I hope I pay reverence where reverence is due. All I mean to say is this ; that, being accustomed to see water in large bodies salt, I should like to taste it before I can believe it to be fresh.”
“ God has given the salt lick to the deer; and he has given to man, red-skin and white, the delicious spring at which to slake his thirst. It is unreasonable to think that he may not have given lakes of pure water to the west, and lakes of impure water to the east.”
Cap was awed, in spite of his overweening dogmatism, by the earnest simplicity of the Pathfinder, though he did not relish the idea of believing a fact which, for many years, he had pertinaciously insisted could not be true. Unwilling to give up the point, and, at the same time, unable to maintain it against a reasoning to which he was unaccus