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THE DEERSLAYER.



VOL. I.




LONDON:
PRINTED BY SCHULZE AND CO., 13, POLAND STRKET.




THE



DEERSLAYER:



A TALE.



BY J. FENIMORE COOPER, ESQ.



AUTHOR OF " THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS," " THE PATH-
FINDER," " THE PIONEERS," AND " THE PRAIRIE."



" What Terrors round him wait !
Amazement in his van, with Flight combined,
And Sorrow's faded form, and Solitude behind."

GRAY.



IN THREE VOLUMES.
VOL. I.



LONDON:

RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET
1841.



PREFACE.



THIS book has not been written without many
misgivings as to its probable reception. To
carry one and the same character through five
several works would seem to be a wilful over
drawing on the good-nature of the public, and
many persons may very reasonably suppose it
an act, of itself, that ought to invite a rebuke.
To this natural objection, the author can only
say that, if he has committed a grave fault on
this occasion, his readers are in some measure
answerable for it. The favourable manner in
which the more advanced career, and the death,
of Leather-Stocking, were received, has created,
in the mind of the author, at least, a sort of ne
cessity for giving some account of his younger
days. In short, the pictures of his life, such as
they are, were already so complete as to excite
some little desire to see the ' study/ from which
they have all been drawn.



VI PREFACE.

" The Leather-Stocking Tales/ 5 now form some
thing like a drama in five acts ; complete as
to material and design, though probably very in
complete as to execution. Such as they are, the
reading world has them before it. The author
hopes, should it decide that this particular act,
the last in execution, though the first in the order
of perusal, is not the best of the series, it will
also come to the conclusion that it is not ab
solutely the worst. More than once, he has
been tempted to burn his manuscript, and to turn
to some other subject, though he has met with
an encouragement, in the course of his labours,
of a character so singular, as to be worth men
tioning. An anonymous letter from England has
reached him, written, as he thinks, by a lady, in
which he is urged to do almost the very thing
he had already more than half executed ; a request
that he has been willing enough to construe into
a sign that his attempt will be partially forgiven,
if not altogether commended.

Little need be said concerning the characters
and scenery of this tale. The former are ficti
tious, as a matter of course ; but the latter is as
true to nature as an intimate knowledge of the
present appearance of the region described, and
such probable conjectures concerning its ancient
state as could be furnished by the imagination,



PREFACE. Vll

enabled the writer to render it. The lake, moun
tains, valley and forests, are all believed to be
sufficiently exact ; while the river, rock and shoal
are faithful transcripts from nature. Even the
points exist, a little altered by civilization, but so
nearly answering to the descriptions, as to be
easily recognized by all who are familiar with the
scenery of the particular region in question.

As to the accuracy of the incidents of this tale,
in whole or in part, it is the intention of the author
to stand on his rights, and say no more than he
deems to be necessary. In the great struggle for
veracity that is carrying on between History and
Fiction, the latter has so often the best of it, that
he is quite willing to refer the reader to his
own researches, by way of settling this particular
point. Should it appear, on inquiry, that any
professed historian, the public document, or even
the local traditions, contradict the statements of
this book, the writer is ready to admit that the
circumstance has entirely escaped his observation,
and to confess his ignorance. On the other hand,
should it be found that the annals of America do
not contain a syllable in opposition to what has
been now laid before the world, as he firmly be
lieves investigation will show to be the case, he
shall claim for his legend just as much authority
as it deserves.



Vlll PREFACE.

There is a respectable class of novel-readers
respectable for numbers, quite as much as for
every thing else who have often been likened to
the man that " sings when he reads, and reads
when he sings." These persons are exceedingly
imaginative in all matters of fact, and as literal as
a school-boy's translation in every thing that
relates to poetry. For the benefit of all such
persons, it is explicitly stated, that Judith Hutter
is Judith Hutter, and not Judith any one else ;
and, generally, that wherever a coincidence may
occur in a Christian name, or in the colour of hair,
nothing more is meant than can properly be in
ferred from a coincidence in a Christian name, or
in the colour of hair. Long experience has taught
the writer that this portion of his readers is much
the most difficult to please ; and he would res
pectfully suggest, for the benefit of both parties,
that they try the experiment of reading works of
the imagination as if they were intended for
matters of fact. Such a plan might possibly
enable them to believe in the possibility of fiction.



THE



DEERSLAYER.



CHAPTER I.

" There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar :
I love not man the less, but nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal,
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal."

CHILDE HAROLD.

ON the human imagination, events produce
the effects of time. Thus, he who has tra
velled far and seen much, is apt to fancy that
he has lived long ; and the history that most
abounds in important incidents, soonest assumes
the aspect of antiquity. In 110 other way can
we account for the venerable air that is already

VOL. I. B



2 THE DEKRSLAYER.

gathering around American annals. When the
mind reverts to the earliest days of colonial
history, the period seems remote and obscure,
the thousand changes that thicken along the
links of recollections, throwing back the origin
of the nation to a day so distant as seemingly
to reach the mists of time ; and yet four lives
of ordinary duration would suffice to transmit,
from mouth to mouth, in the form of tradition,
all that civilized man has achieved within the
limits of the republic. Although New York,
alone, possesses a population materially exceed
ing that of either of the four smallest kingdoms
of Europe, or materially exceeding that of the
entire Swiss Confederation, it is little more
than two centuries since the Dutch commenced
their settlement, rescuing the region from the
savage state. Thus, what seems venerable by
an accumulation of changes, is reduced to fa
miliarity when we come seriously to consider
it solely in connection with time.

This glance into the perspective of the past,
will prepare the reader to look at the pictures
we are about to sketch, with less surprise than
he might otherwise feel ; and a few additional
explanations may carry him back in imagina-



THE DEERSLAYER. 3

tion, to the precise condition of society that
we desire to delineate. It is matter of history
that the settlements on the eastern shores of
the Hudson, such as Claverack, Kinderhook,
and even Poughkeepsie, were not regarded as
safe from Indian incursions a century since ;
and there is still standing on the banks of the
same river, and within musket-shot of the
wharves of Albany, a residence of a younger
branch of the Van Rensselaers, that has loop
holes constructed for defence against the same
crafty enemy, although it dates from a period
scarcely so distant. Other similar memorials
of the infancy of the country are to be found,
scattered through what is now deemed the
very centre of American civilisation, affording
the plainest proofs that all we possess of secu
rity from invasion and hostile violence, is the
growth of but little more than the time that is
frequently filled by a single human life.

The incidents of this tale occurred between
the years 1740 and 1745, when the settled por
tions of the colony of New York were confined
to the four Atlantic counties, a narrow belt of
country on each side of the Hudson, extending
from its mouth to the falls near its head, and

B 2



4 THE DEERSLAYER.

to a few advanced " neighbourhoods" on the
Mohawk and the Schoharie. Broad belts of
the virgin wilderness, not only reached the
shores of the first river, but they even crossed
it, stretching away into New England, and af
fording forest covers to the noiseless moccasin
of the native warrior, as he trod the secret and
bloody war-path. A bird's-eye view of the
whole region east of the Mississippi, must then
have offered one vast expanse of woods, relieved
by a comparatively narrow fringe of cultivation
along the sea, dotted by the glittering surfaces
of lakes, and intersected by the waving lines of
rivers. In such a vast picture of solemn soli
tude, the district of country we design to paint
sinks into insignificance, though we feel en
couraged to proceed by the conviction that, with
slight and immaterial distinctions, he who suc
ceeds in giving an accurate idea of any portion
of this wild region, must necessarily convey a
tolerably correct notion of the whole.

Whatever may be the changes produced by
man, the eternal round of the seasons is un
broken. Summer and winter, seed-time and
harvest, return in their stated order, with a
sublime precision, affording to man one of the
noblest of all the occasions he enjoys of proving



THE DEERSLAYER. 5

the high powers of his far-reaching mind, in
compassing the laws that control their exact
uniformity, and in calculating their never-
ending revolutions. Centuries of summer suns
had warmed the tops of the same noble oaks
and pines, sending their heats even to the te
nacious roots, when voices were heard calling
to each other, in the depths of a forest, of which
the leafy surface lay bathed in the brilliant light
of a cloudless day in June, while the trunks of
the trees rose in gloomy grandeur in the shades
beneath. The calls were in different tones,
evidently proceeding from two men who had
lost their way, and were searching in different
directions for their path. At length a shout
proclaimed success, and presently a man broke
out of the tangled labyrinth of a small swamp,
emerging into an opening that appeared to have
been formed partly by the ravages of the
wind, and partly by those of fire. This little
area, which afforded a good view of the sky,
although it was pretty well filled with dead trees,
lay on the side of one of the high hills, or low
mountains, into which nearly the whole surface
of the adjacent country was broken.

" Here is room to breathe in !" exclaimed



6 THE DEERSLAYER.

the liberated forester, as soon as he found him
self under a clear sky, shaking his .huge frame
like a mastiff that has just escaped from a snow
bank ; " Hurrah ! Deerslayer ; here is daylight,
at last, and yonder is the lake."

These words were scarcely uttered when the
second forester dashed aside the bushes of the
swamp, and appeared in the area. After
making a hurried adjustment of his arms and
disordered dress, he joined his companion, who
had already begun his dispositions for a halt.

" Do you know this spot?'' demanded the
one called Deerslayer, " or do you shout at the
sight of the sun ?"

<e Both, lad, both ; I know the spot, and am
not sorry to see so useful a friend as the sun.
Now we have got the points of the compass in
our minds, once more, and 5 t will be our own
faults if we let any thing turn them topsy-turvy
ag'in, as has just happened. My name is not
Hurry Harry, if this be not the very spot
where the land-hunters 'camped last summer,
and passed a week. See, yonder are the dead
bushes of their bower, and here is the spring.
Much as I like the sun, boy, I've no occasion
for it to tell me it is noon ; this stomach of



THE DEERSLAYKR. 7

mine is as good a time-piece as is to be found in.
the colony, and it already p'ints to half-past
twelve. So open the wallet, and let us wind
up for another six hours' run/ 3

At this suggestion, both set themselves about
making the preparations necessary for their
usual frugal, but hearty, meal. We will profit
by this pause in the discourse to give the reader
some idea of the appearance of the men, both
of whom are destined to enact no insignificant
parts in our legend. It would not have been
easy to find a more noble specimen of vigorous
manhood, than was offered in the person of
him who called himself Hurry Harry. His
real name was Henry March ; but the frontier-
men having caught the practice of giving sobri
quets, from the Indians, the appellation of
Hurry was far oftener applied to him than his
proper designation, and not unfrequently he was
termed Hurry Skurry, a nick- name he had
obtained from a dashing, reckless, off-hand
manner, and a physical restlessness that kept
him so constantly on the move, as to cause him
to be known along the whole line of scattered
habitations that lay between the province and
the Canadas. The stature of Hurry Harry ex-



8 THE DEERSLAYER.

ceeded six feet four, and being unusually well
proportioned, his strength fully realized the
idea created by his gigantic frame. The face
did no discredit to the rest of the man, for it
was both good-humoured and handsome. His
air was free, and though his manner necessarily
partook of the rudeness of a border life, the
grandeur that pervaded so noble a physique
prevented it from becoming altogether vulgar.

Deerslayer, as Hurry called his companion,
was a very different person in appearance, as
well as in character. In stature, he stood about
six feet in his moccasins, but his frame was
comparatively light and slender, showing
muscles, however, that promised unusual agility,
if not unusual strength. His face would have
had little to recommend it except youth, were
it not for an expression that seldom failed to
win upon those who had leisure to examine it,
and to yield to the feeling of confidence it
created. This expression was simply that of
guileless truth, sustained by an earnestness of
purpose, and a sincerity of feeling, that rendered
it remarkable. At times this air of integrity
seemed to be so simple as to awaken the sus
picion of a want of the usual means to dis-



THE DEERSLAYER. 9

criminate between artifice and truth ; but few
came in serious contact with the man, without
losing this distrust in respect for his opinions
and motives.

Both these frontier-men were still young,
Hurry having reached the age of six or eight
and twenty, while Deerslayer was several years
his junior. Their attire needs no particular
description, though it may be well to add that
it was composed in no small degree of dressed
deer-skins, and had the usual signs of belong
ing to those who passed their time between the
skirts of civilized society and the boundless
forests. There was, notwithstanding, some
attention to smartness and the picturesque
in the arrangements of Deerslayer's dress, more
particularly in the part connected with his arms
and accoutrements. His rifle was in perfect
condition, the handle of his hunting- knife was
neatly carved, his powder-horn was ornamented
with suitable devices, lightly cut into the mate
rial, and his shot-pouch was decorated with
wampum. On the other hand, Hurry Harry,
either from constitutional recklessness, or from
a secret consciousness how little his appearance
required artificial aids, wore every thing in a

B 3



10 THE DEERSLATER.

careless, slovenly manner, as if he felt a noble
scorn for the trifling accessories of dress and
ornaments. Perhaps the peculiar effect of his
fine form and great stature was increased,
rather than lessened, by this unstudied and
disdainful air of indifference.

" Come, Deerslayer, fall to, and prove that
you have a Delaware stomach, as you say you
have had a Delaware edication," cried Hurry,
setting the example by opening his mouth to
receive a slice of cold venison steak that would
have made an entire meal for a European
peasant ; " fall to, lad, and prove your man
hood on this poor devil of a doe, with your
te x eth, as you've already done with your rifle/'

" Nay, nay, Hurry, there's little manhood in
killing a doe, and that, too, out of season ;
though there might be some in bringing
down a painter, or a catamount," returned
the other, disposing himself to comply. " The
Delawares have given me my name, not so
much on account of a bold heart, as on ac
count of a quick eye, and an active foot.
There may not be any cowardice in overcoming
a deer, but sartin it is, there's no great valour."

" The Delawares, themselves, are no heroes/'



THE DEERSLAYER. 11

muttered Hurry through his teeth, the mouth
being too full to permit it to be fairly opened,
" or they would never have allowed them lop
ing vagabonds, the Mingos, to make them
women "

" That matter is not rightly understood has
never been rightly explained,' 5 said Deerslayer
earnestly, for he was as zealous a friend, as his
companion was dangerous as an enemy; the
Mengwe fill the woods with their lies, and
misconceive words and treaties. I have now
lived ten years with the Delawares, and know
them to be as manful as any other nation, when
the proper time to strike comes."

" Harkee, Master Deerslayer, since we are
on the subject, we may as well open our minds
to each other in a man-to-maii way ; answer
me one question ; you have had so much luck
among the game as to have gotten a title, it
would seem, but did you ever hit any thing
human or intelligible : did you ever pull trig
ger on an inimy that w r as capable of pulling
one upon you ?"

This question produced a singular collision
between mortification and correct feeling, in
the bosom of the youth, that was easily to be



12 THE DEERSLAYER.

traced in the workings of his ingenuous coun
tenance. The struggle was short, however;
uprightness of heart soon getting the better of
false pride, and frontier boastfulness.

" To own the truth, I never did/ 5 answered
Deerslayer; " seeing that a fitting occasion
never offered. The Delawares have been peace
able since my sojourn with 5 em, and I hold it
to be onlawful to take the life of man, except
in open and ginerous warfare.' 5

" What ! did you never find a fellow thiev
ing among your traps and skins, and do the
law on him with your own hands, by way
of saving the magistrates trouble, in the settle
ments, and the rogue himself the costs of the
suit ?' 5

" I am no trapper, Hurry/ 5 returned the
young man proudly : " I live by the rifle, a
we'pon at which I will not turn my back on
any man of my years, atween the Hudson and
the St. Lawrence. I never offer a skin that
has not a hole in its head beside them which
natur 5 made to see with, or to breathe through.' 5

" Ay, ay, this is all very well, in the animal
way, though it makes but a poor figure along-
sides of scalps and and-bushes. Shooting an



THE DEERSLAYER. 13

Indian from an and-bush is acting up to his
own principles, and now we have what you call
a lawful war on our hands, the sooner you
wipe that disgrace off your conscience, the
sounder will be your sleep ; if it only come
from knowing there is one inimy the less
prowling in the woods. I shall not frequent
your society long, friend Natty, unless you
look higher than four-footed beasts to practise
your rifle on/'

" Our journey is nearly ended, you say,
Master March, and we can part to-night, if you
see occasion. I have a fri'nd waiting for me,
who will think it no disgrace to consort with
a fellow creatur' that has never yet slain his
kind,"

" I wish I knew what has brought that
skulking Delaware into this part of the country
so early in the season," muttered Hurry to
himself, in a way to show equally distrust and
a recklessness of its betrayal. " Where did
you say the young chief was to give you the
meeting ?"

" At a small, round rock, near the foot of the
lake, where, they tell me, the tribes are given
to resorting to make their treaties, and to bury



14 THE DEERSLAYER.

their hatchets. This rock have I often heard
the Delawares mention, though lake and rock
are equally strangers to me. The country is
claimed by both Mingos and Mohicans, and is
a sort of common territory to fish and hunt
through, in time of peace, though what it may
become in war-time, the Lord only knows \"

" Common territory !" exclaimed Hurry,
laughing aloud. " I should like to know what
Floating Tom Hutter would say to that ? He
claims the lake as his own property, in vartue
of fifteen years 5 possession, and will not be
likely to give it up either to Mingo or Delaware,
without a battle for it/'

" And what will the colony say to such a
quarrel ? All this country must have some
owner, the gentry pushing their cravings into
the wilderness, even where they never dare to
ventur', in their own persons, to look at 'em."

" That may do in other quarters of the
colony, Deerslayer, but it will not do here.
Not a human being, the Lord excepted, owns
a foot of s'ile in this part of the country. Pen
was never put to paper, consarning either hill
or valley, hereaway, as Fve heard old Tom say,
time and ag'in. and so he claims the best right



THE DKERSLAYER. 15

to it of any man breathing ; and what Tom
claims, he'll be very likely to maintain."

" By what I've heard you say, Hurry, this
Floating Tom must be an oncommon mortal;
neither Mingo, Delaware^ nor Pale-Face. His
possession, too, has been long, by your tell,
and altogether beyond frontier endurance.
What's the man's history and natur' ?"

" Why, as to old Tom's human natur', it is
not much like other men's human natur', but
more like a musk-rat's human natur', seeing
that he takes more to the ways of that animal,
than to the ways of any other fellow-creatui*'.
Some think he was a free liver on the salt
water, in his youth arid, a companion of a sartain
Kidd, who was hanged for piracy, long afore
you and 1 were born, or acquainted, and that
he came up into these regions, thinking that
the king's cruisers could never cross the moun
tains, and that he might enjoy the plunder
peaceably in the woods.''

" Then he was wrong, Hurry ; very wrong.
A man can enjoy plunder peaceably nowhere."

" That's much as his turn of mind may
happen to be. I've known them that never
could enjoy it at all, unless it was in the



16 THE DEERSLAYER.

midst of a jollification, and them ag'in that en
joyed it best in a corner. Some men have no
peace if they don't find plunder, and some if
they do. Human natur' is crooked in these
matters. Old Tom seems to belong to neither
set, as he enjoys his, if plunder he has really
got, with his darters, in a very quiet and com
fortable way, and wishes for no more."

(S Ay, he has darters, too ; I've heard the
Delawares, who've hunted this- a- way, tell their
histories of these young women. Is there
no mother, Hurry ?"

" There was once, as in reason ; but she has
now been dead and sunk these two good
years."

" Anan ?" said Deerslayer, looking up at his
companion in a little surprise.

" Dead and sunk, I say, and I hope that's
good English. The old fellow lowered his wife
into the lake, by way of seeing the last of her,
as I can testify, being an eye-witness of the
ceremony; but whether Tom did it to save
digging, which is no easy job among roots, or
out of a consait that water washes away sin
sooner than 'arth, is more than I can say."

66 Was the poor woman oncommon wicked,



THE DEERSLAYER. 17

that her husband should take so much pains
with her body ?"

" Not onreasonable ; though she had her
faults. I consider Judith Hutter to have been
as graceful, and about as likely to make a good
ind, as any woman who had lived so long
beyond the sound of church bells ; and I con
clude Old Tom sunk her as much by way of
saving pains, as by way of taking it. There
was a little steel in her temper, it' s true, and, as
old Hutter is pretty much flint, they struck out
sparks once-and-a- while, but, on the whole, they
might be said to live amicable like. When they
did kindle, the listeners got some such insights
into their past lives, as one gets into the darker
parts of the woods, when a stray gleam of sun
shine finds its way down to the roots of the
trees. But Judith I shall always esteem, as


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