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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



GIFT




and prescribing
il 9, 1850

>y the Mem-
sssions of the
fficers of the
to keep their
the Supreme
bson shall be
1 two volumes

of all books

or returned ;

d Reports of

embers of the

be retained

Members of

turned at the



01 ,.



ts taken from
ig Section, he
the Library,
belongs, and
1 any Member

_ r diem allow-

anror~salary, he 'shall be satisfied that such Member or Officer
has returned all books taken out of the Library by him, and has
settled all accounts for injuring such books or otherwise.

6. All fines and forfeitures accruing under and by virtue of
'this Act, shall be recoverable by action of debt before any Justice
of the Peace or Court having jurisdiction of the same, in the name
of the People of the State "of California, for the use of the State
Library, and in all such trials, the entries of the Librarian, to be
made as hereinbefore described, shall be evidence of the delivery of
the book or books, and of the dates thereof; and it shall be his duty
to carry the provisions of this Act into execution, and sue for all
injuries done to the Library, and for all penalties under this Act.

L-ui=i-^i^S=^=i'&=iv- ; S

Jauics Allen, State Print.




*

'" -c< .





THE



OAK-OPENINGS;



THE BEE.HUNTER.



BY J. FEN IM ORE. COOPER



There have been tears from holier eyes than mine

PourM o'er thee, Zion! yea, the Son of Man

Thii thy deroted hour foresaw, and wept Milman.



COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.



NEW EDITION.



NEW YORK:
STRINGER AND TOWNSEND.

1856.



o



OAK OPENINGS.



Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1848, by
' J. FENIMORE COOPER,

in the clerk's office of the District Court for the Northern District
of New York.



College
Library



ft
n



>r!t o) f&m*t
PREFACE.



IT ought to be matter of surprise how men live in
the midst of marvels, without taking heed of their
existence. The slightest derangement of their ac
customed walks in political or social life shall excite
all their wonder, and furnish themes for their dis
cussions, for months ; while the prodigies that come
from above are presented daily to their eyes, and are
received without surprise, as things of course. In a
certain sense, this may be well enough, inasmuch
as all which comes directly from the hands of the
Creator may be said so far to exceed the power of
human comprehension, as to be beyond comment;
but the truth would show us that the cause of this
neglect is rather a propensity to dwell on such in
terests as those over which we have a fancied control,
than on those which confessedly transcend our un
derstanding. Thus is it ever with men. The won
ders of creation meet them at every turn, without
awakening reflection, while their minds labour on
subjects that are not only ephemeral and illusory,

(iii)



VI PREFACE.



merary, for the sake of uniformity that mode of
spelling, wrong as we think it, has been continued
throughout the book.

There is nothing imaginary in the fertility of the
west. Personal observation has satisfied us that it
much surpasses anything that exists in the Atlantic
states, unless in exceptions, through the agency of
great care anid high manuring, or in instances of
peculiar natural soil. In these times, men almost
fly. We have passed over a thousand miles of ter
ritory within the last few days, and have brought the
pictures at the two'extremes of this journey in close
proximity in our mind's eye. Time may lessen that
wonderful fertility, and bring the whole country more
on a level ; but there it now is, a glorious gift from
God, which it is devoutly to be wished may be ac
cepted with due gratitude, and with a constant re
collection of His unwavering rules of right and
wrong, by those who have been selected to enjoy it.



June, 1848






CHAPTER I.

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day,
From every opening flower.

Watti Hymns for Children.

WE have heard of those who fancied that they beheld a
signal instance of the hand of the Creator in the celebrated
cataract of Niagara. Such instances of the power of sen
sible and near objects to influence certain minds, only
prove how much easier it is to impress the imaginations
of the dull with images that are novel, than with those that
are less apparent, though of infinitely greater magnitude.
Thus, it would seem to be strange, indeed, that any human
being should find more to wonder at in anyone of the phe
nomena of the earth, than in the earth itself; or, should spe
cially stand astonished at the might of Him who created the
world, when each night brings into view a firmament studded
with other worlds, each equally the work of His hands !

Nevertheless, there is (at bottom) a motive for adoration,
in the study of the lowest fruits of the wisdom and power
of God. The leaf is as much beyond our comprehension
of remote causes, as much a subject of intelligent admira
tion, as the tree which bears it : the single tree confounds
our knowledge and researches the same as the entire forest;
and, though a variety that appears to be endless pervades
the world, the same admirable adaptation of means to
ends, the same bountiful forethought, and the same bene-

&



10 THE OAK OPENINGS.

volent wisdom are to be found in the acorn, as in the
gnarled branch on which it grew.

The American forest has so often been described, as to
cause one to hesitate about reviving scenes that might pos
sibly pall, and in retouching pictures that have been so fre
quently painted as to be familiar to every mind. But God
created the woods, and the themes bestowed by his bounty
are inexhaustible. Even the ocean, with its boundless
waste of water, has been found to be rich in its various
beauties and marvels ; and he who shall bury himself with
us, once more, in the virgin forests of this wide-spread
land, may possibly discover new subjects of admiration, new
causes to adore the being that has brought all into exist
ence, from the universe to its most minute particle.

The precise period of our legend was in the year 1812,
and the season of the year the pleasant month of July,
which had now drawn near to its close. The sun was al
ready approaching the western limits of a wooded view,
when the actors in its opening scene must appear on a
stage that is worthy of a more particular description.

The region was, in one sense, wild, though it offered a
picture that was not without some of the strongest and most
pleasing features of civilization. The country was what
is termed " rolling," from some fancied resemblance to the
surface of the ocean, when it is just undulating with a
long " ground-swell." Although wooded, it was not as the
American forest is wont to grow, with tall straight trees
towering towards the light, but with intervals between the
low oaks that were scattered profusely over the view, and
with much of that air of negligence that one is apt to see
in grounds, where art is made to assume the character of
nature. The trees, with very few exceptions, were what
is called the " burr oak," a small variety of a very exten
sive genus; and the spaces between them, always irregular,
and often of singular beauty, have obtained the name of
"openings;" the two terms combined giving their appella
tion to this particular species of native forest, under the
name of " Oak Openings."

These woods, so peculiar to certain districts of country,
are not altogether without some variety, though possessing
a general character of sameness. The trees were of very



THE OAK OPENINGS. 11

nniform size, being little taller than pear trees, which they
resemble a good deal in form ; and having trunks that rarely
attain two feet in diameter. The variety is produced by
their distribution. In places they stand with a regularity
resembling that of an orchard ; then, again, they are more
scattered and less formal, while wide breadths of the land
are occasionally seen in which they stand in copses, with
vacant spaces, that bear no small affinity to artificial lawns,
being covered with verdure. The grasses are supposed to
be owing to the fires lighted periodically by the Indians in
order to clear their hunting-grounds.

Towards one of these grassy glades, which was spread
on an almost imperceptible acclivity, and which might have
contained some fifty or sixty acres of land, the reader is
now requested to turn his eyes. Far in the wilderness as
was the spot, four men were there, and two of them had
even some of the appliances of civilization about them.
The woods around were the then unpeopled forest of Mi
chigan, and the small winding reach of placid water that
was just visible in the distance, was an elbow of the Kala-
mazoo, a beautiful little river that flows westward, empty
ing its tribute into the vast expanse of Lake Michigan.
Now, this river has already become known, by its villages
and farms, and railroads and mills ; but then, not a dwell
ing of more pretension than the wigwam of the Indian, or
an occasional shanty of some white adventurer, had ever
been seen on its banks. In that day, the whole of that fine
peninsula, with the exception of a narrow belt of country
along the Detroit river, which was settled by the French as
far back as near the close of the seventeenth century, was
literally a wilderness. If a white man found his way into
it, it was as an Indian trader, a hunter, or an adventurer in
some other of the pursuits connected with border life and
the habits of the savages.

Of this last character were two of the men on the open
glade just mentioned, while their companions were of the
race of the aborigines. What is much more remarkable,
the four were absolutely strangers to each other's faces,
having met for the first time in their lives, only an hour
previously to the commencement of our tale. By saying
that they were strangers to each other, we do not mean that



12 THE OAK OPENINGS'.

the white men were acquaintances, and the Indians strang
ers, but that neither of the four had ever seen either of the
party until they met on that grassy glade, though fame had
made them somewhat acquainted through their reputations.
At the moment when we desire to present this group to the
imagination of the reader, three of its number were grave
and silent observers of the movements of the fourth. The
fourth individual was of middle size, young, active, exceed
ingly well formed, and with a certain open and frank ex
pression of countenance, that rendered him at least well-
looking, though slightly marked with the small-pox. His
veal name was Benjamin Boden, though he was extensively
known throughout the north-western territories by the so-
briquet of Ben Buzz extensively as to distances, if not
as to people. By the voyageurs, and other French of that
region, he was almost universally styled le Bourdon, or the
" Drone ;" not, however, from his idleness or inactivity, but
from the circumstance that he was notorious for laying his
hands on the products of labour that proceeded from others.
In a word, Ben Boden was a " bee-hunter," and as he was
one of the first to exercise his craft in that portion of the
country, so was he infinitely the most skilful and pros-
perous. The honey of le Bourdon was not only thought
to be purer and of higher flavour than that of any other
trader in the article, but it was much the most abundant.
There were a score of respectable families on the two
banks of the Detroit, who never purchased of any one else,
but who patiently waited for the arrival of the capacious
bark canoe of Buzz, in the autumn, to lay in their supplies
of this savoury nutriment for the approaching winter. The
whole family of griddle cakes, including those of buckwheat,
Indian, rice and wheaten flour, were more or less depen
dent on the safe arrival of le Bourdon, for their popularity
and welcome. Honey was eaten with all ; and wild honey
had a reputation, rightfully or not obtained, that even ren
dered it more welcome than that which was formed by the
labour and art of the domesticated bee.

The dress of le Bourdon was well adapted to his pur
suits and life. He wore a hunting-shirt and trowsers, made
of thin stuff, which was dyed green, and trimmed with
yellow fringe. This was the ordinary forest attire of the



THE OAK OPENINGS. 13

American rifleman ; being of a character, as it was thought,
to conceal the person in the woods, by blending its hues
with those of the forest. On his head Ben wore a skin
cap, somewhat smartly made, but without the fur; the
weather being warm. His moccasins were a good deal
wrought, but seemed to be fading under the exposure of
many marches. His arms were excellent ; but all his mar
tial accoutrements, even to a keen long-bladed knife, were
suspended from the rammer of his rifle ; the weapon itself
being allowed to lean, in careless confidence, against the
trunk of the nearest oak, as if their master felt there was
no immediate use for them.

Not so with the other three. Not only was each man
well armed, but each man kept his trusty rifle hugged to
his person, in a sort of jealous watchfulness ; while the
other white man, from time to time, secretly, but with great
minuteness, examined the flint and priming of his own
piece. This second pale-face was a very different person
from him just described. He was still young, tall, sinewy,
gaunt, yet springy and strong, stooping and round-shoul
dered, with a face that carried a very decided top-light in
it, like that of the notorious Bardolph. In short, whiskey
had dyed the countenance of Gershom Waring with a tell
tale hue, that did not less infallibly betray his destination,
than his speech denoted his origin, which was clearly from
one of the states of New England. But Gershom had
been so long at the North-West as to have lost many of
his peculiar habits and opinions, and to have obtained sub
stitutes.

Of the Indians, one, an elderly, wary, experienced war
rior, was a Pottawattamie, named Elksfoot, who was well
known at all the trading-houses and " garrisons" of the
North-Western Territory, including Michigan as low down
as Detroit itself. The other red man was a young Chip-
pewa, or O-jeb-way, as the civilized natives of that nation
now tell us the word should be spelled. His ordinary ap
pellation among his own people was that of Pigeonswing;
a name obtained from the rapidity and length of his flights.
This young man, who was scarcely turned of five-and
twenty, had already obtained a high reputation among the
nume-ous Bribes of his nation, as a messenger, or " runner."
2



14 THE OAK OPENINGS.

Accident had brought these four persons, each and all
strangers to one another, in communication in the glade
of the Oak Openings, which has already been mentioned,
within half an hour of the scene we are about to present
to the reader. Although the rencontre had been accom
panied by the usual precautions of those who meet in a
wilderness, it had been friendly so far; a circumstance that
was i'n some measure owing to the interest they all took in
the occupation of the bee-hunter. The three others, indeed,
had come in on different trails, and surprised le Bourdon
in the midst of one of the most exciting exhibitions of his
art an exhibition that awoke so much and so common an
interest in the spectators, as at once to place its continu
ance for the moment above all other considerations. After
brief salutations, and wary examinations of the spot and
its tenants, each individual had, in succession, given his
grave attention to what was going on, and all had united in
begging Ben Buzz to pursue his occupation, without re
gard to his visiters. The conversation that took place was
partly in English, and partly in one of the Indian dialects,
which luckily all the parties appeared to understand. A3
a matter of course, with a sole view to oblige the reader,
we shall render what was said, freely, into the vernacular.

" Let 's see, let 's see, stranger," cried Gershom, em
phasizing the syllable we have put in italics, as if especially
to betray his origin, " what you can do with your tools.
I 've heer'n tell of such doin's, but never see'd a bee lined
in all my life, and have a desp'rate fancy for larnin' of all
sorts, from 'rithmetic to preachin'."

" That comes from your puritan blood," answered le
Bourdon, with a quiet smile, using surprisingly pure Eng
lish for one in his class of life. " They tell me you puri
tans preach by instinct."

" I don't know how that is," answered Gershom,
" though I can turn my hand to anything. I heer'n tell,
across at Bob Ruly (Bois BruU*) of sich doin's, and

* This unfortunate name, which it may be necessary to tell a
portion of our readers means "Burnt Wood," seems condemned to
all sorts of abuses among the linguists of the west. Among other
pronunciations is that of "Bob Ruly;" while an island near Dc
troit, the proper name of which is " Bois Blanc," is familiarly
known to the lake mariners by the name of " Boboio."



THE OAK OPENINGS. 15

would give a week's keep at Whiskey Centre, to know
how t'was done."

' Whiskey Centre" was a sobriquet bestowed by the
fresh-water sailors of that region, and the few other white
adventurers or Saxon origin who found their way into that
trackless region, firstly on Gershom himself, and secondly
on his residence. These names were obtained from the
intensity of their respective characters, in favour of the be
verage named. L'eau de mort, was the place termed by
the voyageurs, in a sort of pleasant travesty on the eau de
vie of their distant, but still well-remembered manufactures
on the banks of the Garonne. Ben Boden, however, paid
but little attention to the drawling remarks of Gershom
Waring. This was not the first time he had heard of
" Whiskey Centre," though the first time he had ever seen
the man himself. His attention was on his own trade, or
present occupation ; and when it wandered at all, it was
principally bestowed on the Indians ; more especially on
the runner. Of Elk's foot, or Elksfoot, as we prefer to
spell it, he had some knowledge by means of rumour ; and
the little he knew rendered him somewhat more indifferent
to his proceedings, than he felt towards those of the Pigeons-
wing. Of this young red-skin he had never heard ; and,
while he managed to suppress all exhibition of the feeling,
a lively curiosity to learn the Chippewa's business was
uppermost in his mind. As for Gershom, he had taken his
measure at a glance, and had instantly set him down to be,
what in truth he was, a wandering, drinking, reckless ad
venturer, who had a multitude of vices and bad qualities,
mixed up with a few that, if not absolutely redeeming,
served to diminish the disgust in which he might otherwise
have been held by all decent people. In the meanwhile,
the bee-hunting, in which all the spectators took so much
interest, went on. As this is a process with which most
of our readers are probably unacquainted, it may be ne
cessary to explain the modus operandi, as well as the ap
pliances used.

The tools of Ben Buzz, as Gershom had termed these
implements of his trade, were neither very numerous nor
very complex. They were all contained in a small covered
wooden pail like those that artisans and labourers are



16 THE OA.K OPENINGS.

accustomed to carry for the purposes of conveying tlieh
food from place to place. Uncovering this, le Bourdon
had brought his implements to view, previously to the mo
ment when he was first seen by the reader. There was a
small covered cup of tin ; a wooden box ; a sort of plate,
or platter, made also of wood; and a common tumbler, of
a very inferior, greenish glass. In the year 1812, there
was not a pane, nor a vessel, of clear, transparent glass,
made in all America ! Now, some of the most beautiful
manufactures of that sort, known to civilization, are abun
dantly produced among us, in common with a thousand
other articles that are used in domestic economy. The
tumbler of Ben Buzz, however, was his countryman in
more senses than one. It was not only American, but it
came from the part of Pennsylvania of which he was him
self a native. Blurred, and of a greenish hue, the glass
was the best that Pittsburg could then fabricate, and Ben
had bought it only the year before, on the very spot where
it had been made.

An oak, of more size than usual, had stood a little re
mote from its fellows, or more within the open ground of
the glade than the rest of the " orchard." Lightning had
struck this tree that very summer, twisting off its trunk at
a height of about four feet from the ground. Several frag
ments of the body and branches lay near, and on these the
spectators now took their seats, watching attentively the
movements of the bee-hunter. Of the stump Ben had made
a sort of table, first levelling its splinters with an axe, and
on it he placed the several implements of his craft, as he
had need of each in succession.

The wooden platter was first placed on this rude table.
Then le Bourdon opened his small box, and took out of it
a piece of honey-comb, that was circular in shape, and
about an inch and a half in diameter. The little covered
tin vessel was next brought into use. Some pure and
beautifully clear honey was poured from its spout, into the
cells of the piece of comb, until each of them was about
half filled. The tumbler was next taken in hand, carefully
wiped, and examined, by holding it up before the eyes of
the bee-hunter. Certainly, there was little to admire in it,
but it was sufficiently transparent to answer his purposes



THE OAK OPENINGS. i7

All he asked was to be able to look through the glass in
order to see what was going on, in its interior.

Having made these preliminary arrangements, Buzzing
Ben for the sobriquet was applied to him in this form
quite as often as in the other next turned his attention
to the velvet-like covering of the grassy glade. Fire had
run over the whole region late that spring, and the grass
was now as fresh, and sweet and short, as if the place were
pastured. The white clover, in particular, abounded, and
was then just bursting forth into the blossom. Various
other flowers had also appeared, and around them were
buzzing thousands of bees. These industrious little ani
mals were hard at work, loading themselves with sweets;
little foreseeing the robbery contemplated by the craft of
man. As le Bourdon moved stealthily among the flowers
and their humming visitors, the eyes of the two red men
followed his smallest movement, as the cat watches the
mouse ; but Gershom was less attentive, thinking the whole
curious enough, but preferring whiskey to all the honey on
earth.

At length le Bourdon found a bee to his mind, and
watching the moment when the animal was sipping sweets
from a head of white clover, he cautiously placed his blur
red and green-looking tumbler over it, and made it his
prisoner. The moment the bee found itself encircled with
the glass, it took wing and attempted to rise. This carried
it to the upper part of its prison, when Ben carefully intro
duced the unoccupied hand beneath the glass, and returned
to the stump. Here he set the tumbler down on the plat
ter in a way to bring the piece of honey-comb within its
circle.

So much done successfully, and with very little trouble,
Buzzing Ben examined his captive for a moment, to make
sure that all was right. Then he took off his cap and
placed it over tumbler, platter, honey-comb and bee. He
now waited half a minute, when cautiously raising the cap
again, it was seen that the bee, the moment a darkness like
that of its hive came over it, had lighted on the comb, and
commenced filling itself with the honey. When Ben took
away the cap altogether, the head, and half of the body of
the bee was in one of the cells, its whole attention being
2*



IS THE OAK OPENINGS.

bestowed on this unlooked-for hoard of treasure. As this
was just what its captor wished, he considered that part of
his work accomplished. It now became apparent why a
glass was used to take the bee, instead of a vessel of
wood or of bark. Transparency was necessary in order to
watch the movements of the captive, as darkness was ne
cessary in order to induce it to cease its efforts to escape,
and to settle on the comb.

As the bee was now intently occupied in filling itself,
Buzzing Ben, or le Bourdon, did not hesitate about re
moving the glass. He even ventured to look around him,
and to make another captive, which he placed over the



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