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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1839, by
J. FENIMORE COOPER,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and for the Northern District of New York.
STEREOTYPED BY J. FAGAN.........PHILADELPHIA.
PRINTED BY T. K. AND P. G. COLLINS.
"Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Calm or convulsed-in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Dark heaving;-boundless, endless, and sublime -
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone."
As the day advanced, that portion of the inmates of the vessel which had the liberty of doing so, appeared on deck. As yet, the sea was not very high, from which it was infer red, that the cutter was still under the lee of the islands; but it was apparent to all who understood the lake, that they were about to experience one of the heavy autumnal gales of that region. Land was nowhere visible; and the horizon, on every side, exhibited that gloomy void, which lends to all views, on vast bodies of water, the sublimity of mystery. The swells, or, as landsmen term them, the waves, were short and curling, breaking of necessity sooner than the longer seas of the ocean; while the element itself, instead of presenting that beautiful hue, which rivals the deep tint of the southern sky, looked green and angry, though wanting in the lustre that is derived from the rays of the sun.
The soldiers were soon satisfied with the prospect, and, one by one, they disappeared, until none were left on deck, but the crew, the serjeant, Cap, Pathfinder, the QuarterMaster, and Mabel. There was a shade on the brow of the
latter, who had been made acquainted with the real state of things; and who had fruitlessly ventured an appeal in favour of Jasper's restoration to the command. A night's rest, and a night's reflection, appeared also to have confirmed the Pathfinder in his opinion of the young man's innocence; and he, too, had made a warm appeal in behalf of his friend, though with the same want of success.
Several hours passed away, the wind gradually getting to be heavier, and the sea rising, until the motion of the cutter compelled Mabel and the Quarter-Master to retreat, also. Cap wore several times; and it was now evident that the Scud was drifting into the broader and deeper parts of the lake, the seas raging down upon her in a way that none but a vessel of superior mould and build could have long ridden, and withstood. All this, however, gave Cap no uneasiness; but like the hunter that pricks his ears at the sound of the horn, or the war-horse that paws and snorts with pleasure at the roll of the drum, the whole scene awakened all that was man within him; and instead of the captious, supercilious, and dogmatic critic, quarrelling with trifles, and exaggerating immaterial things, he began to exhibit the qualities of the hardy and experienced seaman, that he truly was. The hands soon imbibed a respect for his skill; and, though they wondered at the disappearance of their old commander, and the pilot, for which no reason had been publicly given, they soon yielded an implicit and cheerful obedience to the new one.
"This bit of fresh-water, after all, brother Dunham, has some spirit, I find," cried Cap, about noon, rubbing his hands in pure satisfaction at finding himself once more wrestling with the elements. "The wind seems to be an honest old-fashioned gale, and the seas have a fanciful resemblance to those of the gulf stream. I like this, serjeant, I like this; and shall get to respect your lake, if it hold out twenty-four hours longer in the fashion in which it has begun." "Land, ho!" shouted the man who was stationed on the forecastle.
Cap hurried forward; and there, sure enough, the land was visible through the drizzle, at the distance of about half a mile, the cutter heading directly towards it. The first impulse of the old seaman was to give an order to “ stand
by, to ware off shore;" but the cool-headed soldier restrained him.
"By going a little nearer," said the serjeant, some of us may recognize the place. Most of us know the American shore, in this part of the lake; and it will be something gained to learn our position."
Very true-very true; if, indeed, there is any chance of that, we will hold on. What is this off here, a little on our weather bow? It looks like a low headland."
"The garrison, by Jove!" exclaimed the other, whose trained eye sooner recognized the military outlines than the less instructed senses of his connection.
The serjeant was not mistaken. There was the fort, sure enough, though it looked dim and indistinct through the fine rain, as if it were seen in the dusk of evening, or the haze of morning. The low, sodded, and verdant ramparts, the sombre palisades, now darker than ever with water, the roof of a house or two, the tall, solitary flag-staff, with its halyards blown steadily out, into a curve that appeared traced in immovable lines in the air, were all soon to be seen, though no sign of animated life could be discovered. Even the sentinel was housed; and, at first, it was believed that no eye would detect the presence of their own vessel. But the unceasing vigilance of a border garrison did not slumber. One of the look-outs probably made the interesting discovery; a man or two were seen on some elevated stands, and then the entire ramparts, next the lake, were dotted with human beings.
The whole scene was one in which sublimity was singularly relieved by the picturesque. The raging of the tempest had a character of duration, that rendered it easy to imagine it might be a permanent feature of the spot. The roar of the wind was without intermission, and the raging water answered to its dull but grand strains, with hissing spray, a menacing wash, and sullen surges. The drizzle made a medium for the eye which closely resembled that of a thin mist, softening and rendering mysterious the images it revealed, while the genial feeling that is apt to accompany a gale of wind on water, contributed to aid the milder influ ences of the moment. The dark, interminable forest hove up out of the obscurity, grand, sombre and impressive, while
the solitary, peculiar and picturesque glimpses of life that were caught in and about the fort, formed a refuge for the eye to retreat to, when oppressed with the more imposing objects of nature.
"They see us," said the serjeant, "and think we have returned on account of the gale, and have fallen to leeward of the port. Yes, there is Major Duncan himself, on the north-eastern bastion; I know him by his height, and by the officers around him!"
Serjeant, it would be worth standing a little jeering, if we could fetch into the river, and come safely to an anchor! In that case, too, we might land this Master Eau-douce, and purify the boat."
"It would indeed; but as poor a sailor as I am, I well know it cannot be done. Nothing that sails the lake can turn to windward against this gale; and there is no anchorage outside, in weather like this."
"I know it-I see it-serjeant, and pleasant as is that sight to you landsmen, we must leave it. For myself, I am never as happy, in heavy weather, as when I am certain that the land is behind me."
The Scud had now forged so near in, that it became indispensable to lay her head off shore, again, and the necessary orders were given. The storm-staysail was set forward, the gaff lowered, the helm put up, and the light craft, that seemed to sport with the elements like a duck, fell off a little, drew ahead swiftly, obeyed her rudder, and was soon flying away on the top of the surges, dead before the gale. While making this rapid flight, though the land still remained in view, on her larboard beam, the fort, and the groups of anxious spectators on its rampart, were swallowed up in the mist. Then followed the evolutions necessary to bring the head of the cutter up to the wind, when she again began to wallow her weary way towards the north shore.
Hours now passed, before any further change was made, the wind increasing in force, until even the dogmatical Cap fairly admitted it was blowing a thorough gale of wind. About sunset the Scud wore again, to keep her off the north shore, during the hours of darkness; and at midnight her temporary master, who, by questioning the crew in an indirect manner, nad obtained some general knowledge of the size and shape