James Fenimore Cooper.

The pathfinder, or, The inland sea (Volume 3) online

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Here the heart

May give a, useful lesson to the head,
And Learning wiser grow without his books.






Bangor House, Shoe Lane.



Wandering, I found on my ruinous walk,

By the dial stone, aged and green,
One rose of the wilderness, left on its stalk,

To mark where a garden had beep.


IT was not only broad daylight when Mabel
awoke, but the sun had actually been up some
time. Her sleep had been tranquil, for she
rested on an approving conscience, and fatigue
contributed to render it sweet ; and no sound
of those who had been so early in motion had
interfered with her rest. Springing to her feet,
and rapidly dressing herself, the girl was soon
breathing the fragrance of the morning, in the
open air. For the first time, she was sensibly



struck with the singular beauties, as well as
with the profound retirement, of her present
situation. The day proved to be one of those
of the autumnal glory, so common to a climate
that is more abused than appreciated, and its
influence was every way inspiriting and genial.
Mabel was benefited by this circumstance ; for,
as she fancied, her heart was heavy on account
of the dangers to which a father, whom she now
began to love as women love when confidence is


created, was exposed.

But the island seemed absolutely deserted.
The previous night, the bustle of the arrival
had given the spot an appearance of life that
was now entirely gone; and our heroine had
turned her eyes nearly around on every object
in sight, before she caught a view of a single
human being to remove the sense of utter soli
tude. Then, indeed, she beheld all who were
left behind, collected in a group, around a fire
which might be said to belong to the camp.
The person of her uncle, to whom she was so
much accustomed, re-assured the girl; and she
examined the remainder with a curiosity natu-


ral to her situation. Besides Cap and the Quar
ter-Master, there were the corporal, the three
soldiers, and the woman who was cooking.
The huts were silent and empty; and the
low but tower-like summit of the blockhouse
rose above the bushes, by which it was half-
concealed, in picturesque beauty. The sun
was just casting its brightness into the open
places of the glade, and the vault over her
head was impending in the soft sublimity of
the blue void. Not a cloud was visible, and
she secretly fancied the circumstance might
be taken as a harbinger of peace and security.

Perceiving that all the others were occupied
with that great concern of human nature a
breakfast, Mabel walked, unobserved, towards
an end of the island where she was completely
shut out of view by the trees and bushes.
Here she got a stand on the very edge of the
water, by forcing aside the low branches, and
stood watching the barely perceptible flow and
re-flow of the miniature waves that laved the
shore ; a sort of physical echo to the agitation
that prevailed on the lake fifty miles above her.



The glimpses of natural scenery that offered
were very soft and pleasing ; and our heroine,
who had a quick and true eye for all that was
lovely in nature, was not slow in selecting the
most striking bits of landscape. She gazed
through the different vistas, formed by the
openings between the islands, and thought she
had never looked on aught more lovely.

While thus occupied, Mabel was suddenly
alarmed by fancying that she caught a glimpse
of a human form among the bushes that lined
the shore of the island that lay directly before
her. The distance across the water was not a
hundred yards; and, though she might be
mistaken, and her fancy was wandering when
the form passed before her sight, still she did
not think she could he deceived. Aware that
her sex would be no protection against a rifle-
bullet, should an Iroquois get a view of her,
the girl instinctively drew back, taking care
to conceal her person as much as possible by
the leaves, while she kept her own look riveted
on the opposite shore, vainly waiting for some
time, in the expectation of the stranger. She


was about to quit her post in the bushes, and
hasten to her uncle, in order to acquaint him
of her suspicions, when she saw the branch of
an alder thrust beyond the fringe of bushes on
the other island, and waved toward her signi
ficantly, and as she fancied in token of amity.
This was a breathless and a trying moment to
one as inexperienced in frontier warfare as our
heroine ; and yet she felt the great necessity
that existed for preserving her recollection, and
of acting with steadiness and discretion.

It was one of the peculiarities of the expo
sure to which those who dwelt on the frontiers
of America were liable, to bring out the moral
qualities of the women to a degree that they
must themselves, under other circumstances,
have believed they were incapable of manifest
ing; and Mabel well knew that the borderers
loved to dwell in their legends on the presence
of mind, fortitude, and spirit that their wives
and sisters had displayed under circumstances
the most trying. Her emulation had been
awakened by what she had heard on such sub
jects ; and it at once struck her that now was


the moment for her to show that she was truly
Sergeant Dunham's child. The motion of the
branch was such as she -believed indicated
amity ; and, after a moment's hesitation, she
broke off a twig, fastened it to a stick, and,
thrusting it through an opening, waved it in
return, imitating as closely as possible the
manner of the other.

This dumb show lasted two or three minutes
on both sides, when Mabel perceived that the
bushes opposite were cautiously pushed aside,
and a human face appeared at an opening. A
glance sufficed to let Mabel see that it was
the countenance of a red-skin, as well as that
of a woman. A second and a better look,
satisfied her that it was the face of the Dew-
of-June, the wife of Arrowhead. During the
time she had travelled in company with this
woman, Mabel had been won by the gentle
ness of manner, the meek simplicity, and the
mingled awe and affection with which she re
garded her husband. Once or twice, in the
course of the journey, she fancied the Tusca-
rora had manifested towards herself an un-


pleasant degree of attention ; and, on those
occasions, it had struck her, that his wife ex
hibited sorrow and mortification. As Mabel,
however, had more than compensated for any
pain she might, in this way, unintentionally
have caused her companion, by her own kind
ness of manner and attentions, the woman had
shown much attachment to her, and they had
parted, with a deep conviction on the mind of
our heroine, that in the Dew-of-June she had
lost a friend.

It is useless to attempt to analyse all the
ways by which the human heart is led into
confidence. Such a feeling, however, had the
young Tuscarora woman awakened in the
breast of our heroine ; and the latter, under
the impression that this extraordinary visit
was intended for her own good, felt every
disposition to have a closer communication.
She no longer hesitated about showing herself
clear of the bushes, and was not sorry to see
the Dew-of-June imitate her confidence, by
stepping fearlessly out of her own cover. The
two girls, for the Tuscorora, though married,


was even younger than Mabel, now openly
exchanged signs of friendship, and the latter
beckoned to her friend to approach, though she
knew not the manner, herself, in which this
object could be effected. But the Dew-of-June
was not slow in letting it be seen that it was
in her power ; for, disappearing a moment,
she soon showed herself again in the end of a
bark canoe, the bows of which she had drawn
to the edge of the bushes, and of which the
body still lay in a sort of covered creek. Ma
bel was about to invite her to cross, when her
own name was called aloud, in the stentorian
voice of her uncle. Making a hurried gesture
for the Tuscarora girl to conceal herself, Ma
bel sprang from the bushes, and tripped up
the glade towards the sound, and perceived
that the whole party had just seated them
selves at breakfast ; Cap having barely put his
appetite under sufficient restraint to summon
her to join them. That this was the most fa
vourable instant for the interview flashed on
the mind of Mabel ; and excusing herself on
the plea of not being prepared for the meal,


she bounded back to the thicket, and soon
renewed her communications with the young
Indian woman.

Dew-of-June was quick of cornprehension ;
and with half-a-dozen noiseless strokes of the
paddles, her canoe was concealed in the bushes
of Station Island. In another minute, Mabel
held her hand, and was leading her through
the grove towards her own hut. Fortunately,
the latter was so placed as to be completely
hid from the sight of those at the fire, and they
both entered it unseen. Hastily explaining to
her guest, in the best manner she could, the
necessity of quitting her for a short time, Mabel,
first placing the Dew-of-June in her own room,
with a full certainty that she would not quit
it until told to do so, went to the fire, and took
her seat among the rest, with all the compo
sure it was in her power to command.

u Late come, late served, Mabel," said her
uncle, between two mouthfuls of broiled sal
mon ; for though the cookery might be very
unsophisticated on that remote frontier, the
viands were generally delicious ; " late come,

B 5


late served ; it is a good rule, and keeps lag
gards up to their work."

" I am no laggard, uncle ; for I have been
stirring nearly an hour, and exploring our

" It 's little you '11 make o' that, Mistress
Mabel," put in Muir, " that 's little by na
ture. Lundie, or it might be better to style
him Major Duncan in this presence" this
was said in consideration of the corporal and
the common men, though they were taking
their meal a little apart " it might be better
to style him Major Duncan in this presence,
has not added an empire to his Majesty's do
minions in getting possession of this island,
which is likely to equal that of the celebrated
Sancho, in revenues and profits Sancho of
whom, doubtless, Master Cap, you 11 often
have been reading in your leisure hours, more
especially in calms, and moments of inactivity."

" I know the spot you mean, Quarter-
Master ; Sancho's Island coral rock, of new
formation, and as bad a landfall, in a dark
night and blowing weather, as a sinner could


wish to keep clear of. It's a famous place
for cocoa-nuts and bitter water, that Sancho^s

" It 's no very famous for dinners," re
turned Muir, repressing the smile that was
struggling to his lips, out of respect to Mabel,
" nor do I think there "11 be much to choose
between its revenue and that of this spot. In
my judgment, Master Cap, this is a very un-
military position, and I look to some calamity
befalling it, sooner or later."

" It is to be hoped not until our turn of
duty is over," observed Mabel. " I have no
wish to study the French language."

" We might think ourselves happy, did it
not prove to be the Iroquois. I have rea
soned with Major Duncan on the occupation
of this position, but c a wilfu* man maun ha'
his way.' My first object, in accompanying
this party, was to endeavour to make myself
acceptable and useful to your beautiful niece,
Master Cap ; and the second was to take such
an account of the stores that belong to my
particular department, as shall leave no ques-


tion open to controversy, concerning the man
ner of expenditure, when they shall have dis
appeared by means of the enemy."

" Do you look upon matters as so serious ?"
demanded Cap, actually suspending his mas
tication of a bit of venison, for he passed al
ternately, like a modern elegant, from fish to
flesh and back again, in the interest he took
in the answer. " Is the danger pressing ?"

"I'll no say just that; and I'll no say
^just the contrary. There is always danger
in war, and there is more of it at the advanced
posts than at the main encampment. It ought,
therefore, to occasion no surprise were we to
be visited by the French at any moment.""

" And what the devil is to be done in that
case ? Six men and two women would make
but a poor job, in defending such a place as
this, should the enemy invade us ; as no doubt,
Frenchman-like, they would take very good
care to come strong-handed."

" That we may depend on some very for
midable force, at the very lowest. A military
disposition might be made in defence of the


island, out of all question, and according to
the art of war, though we would probably
fail in the force necessary to carry out the
design, in any very creditable manner. In
the first place, a detachment should be sent
off to the shore, with orders to annoy the
enemy in landing; a strong party ought in
stantly to be thrown into the blockhouse, as
the citadel, for on that all the different de
tachments would naturally fall back for sup
port, as the French advanced ; and an en
trenched camp might be laid out around the
stronghold, as it would be very unmilitary
indeed, to let the foe get near enough to the
foot of the walls to mine them. Chevaux-de-
frise would keep the cavalry in check ; and as
for the artillery, redoubts should be thrown
up under cover of yon woods. Strong skir
mishing parties, moreover, would be exceed
ingly serviceable in retarding the march of
the enemy ; and these different huts, if pro
perly piqueted and ditched, would be con
verted into very eligible positions for that ob


" Whe-e-e-w ! Quarter-Master. And who
the d 1 is to find all the men to carry out
such a plan ? "

" The King, out of all question. Master
Cap. It is his quarrel, and it 's just he should
bear the burthen o' it."

" And we are only six ! This is fine talk
ing, with a vengeance. You could be sent
down to the shore to oppose the landing,
Mabel might skirmish with her tongue at
least, the soldier's wife might act chevaux-
de-frise, to entangle the cavalry, the corporal
should command the entrenched camp, his
three men could occupy the five huts, and
I would take the blockhouse. Whe-e-e-w !
you describe well, Lieutenant ; and should have
been a limner instead of a soldier."

" Na, I Ve been very literal and upright in
my exposition of matters. That there is no
greater force here to carry out the plan, is a
fault of His Majesty's ministers, and none of

" But should our enemy really appear," ask
ed Mabel, with more interest than she might


have shown, had she not remembered the guest
in the hut, " what course ought we to pur

" My advice would be to attempt to achieve
that, pretty Mabel, which rendered Xenophon
so justly celebrated."

" I think you mean a retreat, though I half
guess at your allusion."

" You 've imagined my meaning from the
possession of a strong native sense, young lady.
I am aware that your worthy father has pointed
out to the corporal certain modes and methods
by which he fancies this island could be held,
in case the French should discover its position ;
but the excellent Sergeant, though your father,
and as good a man in his duties as ever wielded
a spontoon, is not the great Lord Stair, or
even the Duke of Maryborough. I '11 not deny
the Sergeant's merits, in his particular sphere,
though I cannot exaggerate qualities, however
excellent, into those of men who may be, in
some trifling degree, his superiors. Sergeant
Dunham has taken counsel of his heart, in
stead of his head, in resolving to issue such


orders ; but, if the fort fall, the blame will lie
on him that ordered it to be occupied, and not
on him whose duty it was to defend it. What
ever may be the determination of the latter,
should the French and their allies land, a good
commander never neglects the preparations ne
cessary to effect a retreat ; and I would advise
Master Cap, who is the admiral of our navy,
to have a boat in readiness to evacuate the
island, if need comes to need. The largest
boat that we have left carries a very ample
sail ; and by hauling it round here, and moor
ing it under those bushes, there will be a con
venient place for a hurried embarkation ; and
then you '11 perceive, pretty Mabel, that it is
scarcely fifty yards before we shall be in a chan
nel between two other islands, and hid from
the sight of those who may happen to be on

"All that you say is very true, Mr. Muir;
but may not the French come from that quar
ter themselves ? If it is so good for a retreat,
it is equally good for an advance."

4< They 11 no have the sense to do so discreet


a thing," returned Muir, looking furtively and
a little uneasily around him ; " they 11 no have
sufficient discretion. Your French are a head-
over-heels nation, and usually come forward in
a random way; so we may look for them, if
they come at all, on the other side of the

The discourse now became exceedingly de
sultory, touching principally, however, on the
probabilities of an invasion, and the best means
of meeting it.

To most of this Mabel paid but little atten
tion ; though she felt some surprise that Lieu
tenant Muir, an officer whose character for
courage stood well, should openly recommend
an abandonment of what appeared to her to be
doubly a duty, her father's character being
connected with the defence of the island. Her
mind, however, was so much occupied with her
guest, that, seizing the first favourable mo
ment, she left the table, and was soon in her
own hut again. Carefully fastening the door,
and seeing that the simple curtain was drawn
before the single little window, Mabel next led


the Dew-of-June, or June, as she was familiarly
termed by those who spoke to her in English,
into the outer room, making signs of affection
and confidence.

" I am glad to see you, June," said Mabel,
with one of her sweetest smiles, and in her own
winning voice ; " very glad to see you : what
has brought you hither, and how did you dis
cover the island ? "

" Speak slow," said June, returning smile
for smile, and pressing the little hand she held
with one of her own, that was scarcely larger,
though it had been hardened by labour; " more
slow too quick."

Mabel repeated her questions, endeavouring
to repress the impetuosity of her feelings ; and
she succeeded in speaking so distinctly as to
be understood.

" June, friend," returned the Indian woman.

" I believe you, June from my soul I be
lieve you; what has this to do with your

" Friend come to see friend," answered June,
again smiling openly in the other's face.


" There is some other reason, June : else
would you never run this risk, and alone. You
are alone, June ?"

" June wid you, no one else. June come
alone, paddle canoe."

" I hope so, I think so nay, I know so.
You would not be treacherous with me, June ?"

" What treacherous?"

" You would not betray me, would not give
me to the French, to the Iroquois, to Arrow
head ? " June shook her head earnestly
" you would not sell my scalp ? "

Here June passed her arm fondly around
the slender waist of Mabel, and pressed her
to her heart with a tenderness and affection
that brought tears into the eyes of our heroine.
It was done in the fond caressing manner of
a woman, and it was scarcely possible that it
should not obtain credit for sincerity with a
young and ingenuous person of the same sex.
Mabel returned the pressure, and then held the
other off at the length of her arm, looked her
steadily in the face, and continued her inquiries.

" If June has something to tell her friend,


let her speak plainly," she said. " My ears
are open."

" June 'fraid Arrowhead kill her."

" But Arrowhead will never know it." Ma-
bePs blood mounted to her temples as she
said this; for she felt that she was urging a
wife to be treacherous to her husband. " That
is, Mabel will not tell him."

" He bury tomahawk in June's head."

" That must never be, dear June ; I would
rather you should say no more, than run this

" Blockhouse good place to sleep, good
place to stay."

" Do you mean that I may save my life by
keeping in the blockhouse, June ? ' Surely,
surely, Arrowhead will not hurt you for tel
ling me that. He cannot wish me any great
harm, for I never injured him."

" Arrowhead wish no harm to handsome
pale-face," returned June, averting her face ;
and, though she always spoke in the soft gentle
voice of an Indian girl, now permitting its
notes to fall so low as to cause them to sound


melancholy and timid, " Arrowhead love pale
face girl."

Mabel blushed, she knew not why, and for a
moment her questions were repressed by a feel
ing of inherent delicacy. But it was necessary
to know more ; for her apprehensions had been
keenly awakened, and she resumed her inquiries.

" Arrowhead can have no reason to love or
to hate me," she said. " Is he near you ? "

" Husband always near wife, here," said
June, laying her hand on her heart.

66 Excellent creature ! But tell me, June,
ought I to keep in the blockhouse to-day
this morning now ? "

" Blockhouse very good ; good for women.
Blockhouse got no scalp."

" I fear I understand you only too well,
June. Do you wish to see my father ? "

" No here ; gone away."

" You cannot know that, June; you see the
island is full of his soldiers."

"No full; gone away:" here June held
up four of her fingers, " so many red-coats."

" And Pathfinder ? would you not like to


see the Pathfinder ? he can talk to you in the
Iroquois tongue."

" Tongue gone wid him," said June, laugh
ing ; " keep tongue in his moutY'

There was something so sweet and contagi
ous in the infantine laugh of an Indian girl,
that Mabel could not refrain from joining in
it, much as her fears were aroused by all that
had passed.

" You appear to know, or to think you
know, all about us, June. But if Pathfinder
be gone, Eau-douce can speak French, too.
You know Eau-douce ; shall I run and bring
him to talk with you ? "

" Eau-douce gone too, all but heart; that
there." As June said this, she laughed again ;
looked in different directions, as if unwilling to
confuse the other ; and laid her hand on Ma
bel's bosom.

Our heroine had often heard of the wonder
ful sagacity of the Indians, and of the surpris
ing manner in which they noted all things,
while they appeared to regard none ; but she
was scarcely prepared for the direction the dis-


course had so singularly taken. Willing to
change it, and at the same time truly anxious
to learn how great the danger that impended
over them might really be, she rose from the
camp-stool on which she had been seated ; and,
by assuming an attitude of less affectionate
confidence, she hoped to hear more of that she
really desired to learn, and to avoid allusions
to that which she found so embarrassing.

" You know how much or how little you
ought to tell me, June," she said ; " and I hope
you love me well enough to give me the infor
mation I ought to hear. My dear uncle, too,
is on the island, and you are, or ought to
be, his friend as well as mine; and both of
us will remember your conduct when we get
back to Oswego."

" May be, never get back; who know?"
This was said doubtingly, or as one lays down
an uncertain proposition, and not with a taunt,
or a desire to alarm.

" No one knows what will happen but God.
Our lives are in his hands. Still, I think you
are to be his instrument in savin us."


This passed June's comprehension, and she
only looked her ignorance ; for it was evident
she wished to be of use.

" Blockhouse very good," she repeated, as
soon as her countenance ceased to express un
certainty, laying strong emphasis on the two
last words.

" Well, I understand this, June, and will
sleep in it to-night. Of course, I am to tell
my uncle what you have said ? "

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