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The Chainbearer; Or, The Littlepage Manuscripts By James Fenimore Cooper Characters: 33320

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


"When Adam delv'd, and Eve span,

Where was then the gentleman?"

-Old Saw.

* * *

Thousandacres had not altogether neglected forms, though so much set against the spirit of the law. We found a sort of court collected before the door of his dwelling, with himself in the centre, while the principal room contained no one but Prudence and one or two of her daughters. Among the latter was Lowiny, to my surprise; for I had not seen the girl return from the woods, though my eyes had not been long turned from the direction in which I had hopes of catching a glimpse of Dus.

Tobit led us prisoners into the house, placing us near the door, and facing his father; an arrangement that superseded the necessity of much watchfulness, as our only means of escape would necessarily be by rushing through the throng without-a thing virtually impracticable. But Chainbearer appeared to have no thought of flight. He entered that circle of athletic young men with perfect indifference; and I remember that it struck me his air resembled that which I had often seen him assume when our regiment was on the eve of serious service. At such moments old Andries could, and often did, appear grand-dignity, authority and coldness being blended with sterling courage.

When in the room, Chainbearer and I seated ourselves near the door, while Thousandacres had a chair on the turf without, surrounded by his sons, all of whom were standing. As this arrangement was made amid a grave silence, the effect was not altogether without impressiveness, and partook of some of the ordinary aspects of justice. I was struck with the anxious curiosity betrayed in the countenances of the females in particular; for the decision to which Thousandacres was about to come, would with them have the authority of a judgment of Solomon. Accustomed to reason altogether in their own interests, I make no doubt that, in the main, all of that semi-barbarous breed fancied themselves invested, in their lawless occupation, by some sort of secret natural right; ignorant of the fact that, the moment they reduced their claim to this standard, they put it on the level with that of all the rest of mankind. Nature gives nothing exclusively to an individual, beyond his individuality, and that which appertains to his person and personal qualities; all beyond he is compelled to share, under the law of nature, with the rest of his race. A title dependent on original possession forms no exception to this rule; for it is merely human convention that gives it force and authority, without which it would form no title at all. But into mysteries like these, none of the family of Thousandacres ever entered; though the still, small voice of conscience, the glimmerings of right, were to be traced occasionally, even amid the confused jumble of social maxims in which their selfishness had taken refuge.

We live in an age of what is called progress, and fancy that man is steadily advancing on the great path of his destiny, to something that we are apt to imagine is to form perfection. Certainly, I shall not presume to say what is, or what is not, the divine intention as to the future destination of our species on earth; but years and experience must have taught me, or I should have lived in vain, how little there is among our boasted improvements that is really new; and if we do possess anything in the way of principles that bear on them the impress of inviolability, they are those that have become the most venerable, by having stood the severest tests of time.

I know not whether the long, silent pause that succeeded our arrival was the result of an intention to heighten the effect of that scene, or whether Thousandacres really wished time to collect his thoughts and to mature his plans. One thing struck me; notwithstanding the violence that had so recently occurred between Chainbearer and himself, there were no traces of resentment in the hardened and wrinkled countenance of that old tenant of the forest; for he was too much accustomed to those sudden outbreakings of anger, to suffer them long to linger in his recollection. In all that was said, and in all that passed, in the course of that (to me) memorable day, I could trace no manifestation of any feeling in the squatter, in consequence of the rude personal rencontre that he had so lately had with my friend. They had clenched and he had been overthrown; and that ended the matter.

The silence which occurred after we took our seats must have lasted several minutes. For myself, I saw I was only a secondary person in this interview; old Andries having completely supplanted me in importance, not only in acts, but in the estimation of the squatters. To him they were accustomed, and accustomed, moreover, to regard as a sort of hostile power; his very pursuit being opposed to the great moving principle of their every-day lives. The man who measured land, and he who took it to himself without measurement, were exactly antagonist forces, in morals as well as in physics; and might be supposed not to regard each other with the most friendly eyes. Thus it was that the Chainbearer actually became an object of greater interest to these squatters, than the son of one of the owners of the soil, and the attorney in fact of both. As for the old man himself, I could see that he looked very Dutch, which implied a stubborn resolution bordering on obstinacy; unmoved adherence to what he conceived to be right; and a strong dislike to his present neighbors, in addition to other reasons, on account of their having come from the eastward; a race that he both distrusted and respected; disliked, yet covertly honored, for many a quality that was both useful and good.

To the next generation the feeling that was once so active between the descendants of Holland among ourselves, and the people of English birth who came from the Eastern States, will be almost purely a matter of history. I perceive that my father, in the manuscript he has transmitted to me, as well as I myself, have made various allusions to the subject. It is my wish to be understood in this matter. I have introduced it solely as a fact that is beyond controversy; but, I trust, without any undue bigotry of opinion. It is possible that both Mr. Cornelius Littlepage and his son, unconsciously to ourselves, may have been influenced by the ancient prejudices of the colonies, though I have endeavored scrupulously to avoid them. At any rate, if either of us has appeared to be a little too severe, I trust the reader will remember how much has been uttered to the world in reference to this dislike, by the Yankee, and how little by the Dutchman during the last century and a half, and grant to one who is proud of the little blood from Holland that he happens to possess, the privilege of showing at least one of the phases of his own side of the story. But it is time to return to our scene in the hut.

"Chainbearer," commenced Thousandacres, after the pause already mentioned had lasted several minutes, and speaking with a dignity that could only have proceeded from the intensity of his feelings; "Chainbearer, you've been an inimy to me and mine sin' the day we first met. You're an inimy by your cruel callin'; yet you've the boldness to thrust yourself into my very hands!"

"I'm an enemy to all knaves, T'ousantacres, and I ton't care who knows it," answered old Andries, sternly; "t'at ist my trate, ast well ast carryin' chain; ant I wish it to pe known far and near. Ast for pein' your enemy by callin', I may say as much of yourself; since there coult pe no surveyin', or carryin' of chain, tit all t'e people help t'emselves to lant, as you haf tone your whole life, wit'out as much as sayin' to t'e owners 'py your leaf.'"

"Things have now got to a head atween us, Chainbearer," returned the squatter; "but seein' that you're in my hands, I'm ready and willin' to reason the p'int with you, in hopes that we may yet part fri'nds, and that this may be the last of all our troubles. You and I be getting to be oldish men, Chainbearer; and it's fittin' that them that be gettin' near their eends, should sometimes think on 'em. I come from no Dutch colony, but from a part of the world where mankind fears God, and has some thoughts of a futur' state."

"T'at's neit'er here nor t'ere, T'ousantacres," cried Andries, impatiently. "Not put what religion is a goot t'ing, and a t'ing to be venerated, ant honoret, ant worshippet; put t'at it's out of place in a squatter country, and most of all in a squatter's mout'. Can you telt me one t'ing, T'ousantacres, and t'at ist, why you Yankees pray so much, ant call on Got to pless you every o'ter wort, ant turn up your eyes, ant look so temure of Suntays, ant ten go ant squat yourselfs town on a Tutchman's lant on a Montay? I'm an olt man, ant haf lifed long ant seen much, ant hope I unterstant some of t'at which I haf seen ant lifed amongst, put I do not comprehent t'at! Yankee religion ant Tutch religion cannot come out of t'e same piple."

"I should think not, I should think not, Chainbearer and I hope not, in the bargain. I do not wish to be justified by ways like your'n, or a religion like your'n. That which is foreordained will come to pass, let what will happen, and that's my trust. But, leaving religion out of this matter atween us altogether--"

"Ay, you'll do well to do t'at," growled Chainbearer, "for religion hast inteet very little to do wit' it."

"I say," answered Thousandacres, on a higher key, as if resolute to make himself heard, "leaving religion for Sabba' days and proper occasions, I'm ready to talk this matter over on the footin' of reason, and not only to tell you my say, but to hear your'n, as is right atween man and man."

"I confess a strong desire to listen to what Thousandacres has to say in defence of his conduct, Chainbearer," I now thought it best to put in; "and I hope you will so far oblige me as to be a patient listener. I am very willing that you should answer, for I know of no person to whom I would sooner trust a religious cause than yourself. Proceed, Thousandacres; my old friend will comply."

Andries did conform to my wishes, thus distinctly expressed, but it was not without sundry signs of disquiet, as expressed in his honest countenance, and a good deal of subdued muttering about "Yankee cunnin' and holy gotliness, t'at is dresset up in wolf's clot'in';" Chainbearer meaning to express the native garment of the sheep by the latter expression, but falling into a confusion of images that is by no means rare among the men of his caste and people. After a pause the squatter proceeded.

"In talkin' this matter over, young man, I propose to begin at the beginnin' of things," he said; "for I allow, if you grant any value to titles, and king's grants, and sich sort of things, that my rights here be no great matter. But, beginnin' at the beginnin', the case is very different. You'll admit, I s'pose, that the Lord created the heavens and the 'arth, and that He created man to be master over the last."

"What of t'at?" eagerly cried Chainbearer. "What of t'at, olt T'ousantacres? So t'e Lort createt yonter eagle t'at is flyin' so far apove your heat, put it's no sign you are to kill him, or he ist to kill you."

"Hear to reason, Chainbearer, and let me have my say; a'ter which I'm willing to hear you. I begin at the beginnin', when man was first put in possession of the 'arth, to till, and to dig, and to cut saw-logs, and to make lumber, jist as it suited his wants and inclinations. Now Adam was the father of all, and to him and his posterity was the possession of the 'arth given, by Him whose title's worth that of all the kings, and governors, and assemblies in the known world. Adam lived his time, and left all things to his posterity, and so has it been from father to son, down to our own day and giniration, accordin' to the law of God, though not accordin' to the laws of man."

"Well, admittin' all you say, squatter, how does t'at make your right here petter t'an t'at of any ot'er man?" demanded Andries, disdainfully.

"Why, reason tells us where a man's rights begin, you'll see, Chainbearer. Here is the 'arth, as I told you, given to man, to be used for his wants. When you and I are born, some parts of the world is in use, and some parts isn't. We want land, when we are old enough to turn our hands to labor, and I make my pitch out here in the woods, say where no man has pitched afore me. Now in my judgment that makes the best of title, the Lord's title."[17]

"Well, t'en, you've got your title from t'e Lord," answered Chainbearer, "and you've got your lant. I s'pose you'll not take all t'e 'art' t'at is not yet peoplet, and I shoult like to know how you wilt run your lines petween you ant your next neighpor. Atmittin' you're here in t'e woots, how much of t'e lant woult you take for your own religious uses, and how much woult you leaf for t'e next comer?"

"Each man would take as much as was necessary for his wants, Chainbearer, and hold as much as he possessed."

"Put what ist wants, ant what ist possession? Look arount you T'ousantacres, and tell me how much of t'is fery spot you'd haf a mint to claim, under your Lort's title?"

"How much? As much as I have need on-enough to feed me and mine-and enough for lumber, and to keep the b'ys busy. It would somewhat depend on sarcumstances: I might want more at one time than at another, as b'ys grew up, and the family increased in numbers."

"Enough for lumper how long? and to keep t'e poys pusy how long? For a tay, or a week, or a life, or a great numper of lifes? You must tell me t'at, Tousantacres, pefore I gif cretit to your title."

"Don't be onreasonable-don't be onreasonable in your questions, Chainbearer; and I'll answer every one on 'em, and in a way to satisfy you, or any judgmatical man. How long do I want the lumber? As long as I've use for it. How long do I want to keep the b'ys busy? Till they're tired of the place, and want to change works. When a man's aweary of his pitch, let him give it up for another, selling his betterments, of course, to the best chap he can light on."

"Oh! you't sell you petterments, woult you! What! sell t'e Lort's title, olt T'ousantacres? Part wit' Heaven's gift for t'e value of poor miseraple silver and golt?"

"You don't comprehend Aaron," put in Prudence, who saw that Chainbearer was likely to get the best of the argument, and who was always ready to come to the rescue of any of her tribe, whether it might be necessary with words, or tooth and nail, or the rifle. "You don't, by no manner of means, comprehend Aaron, Chainbearer. His idee is, that the Lord has made the 'arth for his crittur's; that any one that wants land, has a right to take as much as he wants, and to use it as long as he likes; and when he has done, to part with his betterments for sich price as may be agreed on."

"I stick to that," joined in the squatter, with a loud hem, like a man who was sensible of relief; "that's my idee, and I'm determined to live and die by it."

"You've lifed py it, I know very well, T'ousantacres; ant, now you're olt, it's quite likely you'll tie py it. As for comprehentin', you don't comprehent yourself. I'll just ask you, in the first place, how much lant do you holt on t'is very spot? You're here squattet so completely ant finally as to haf puilt a mill. Now tell me how much lant you holt, t'at when I come to squat alongsite of you, our fences may not lap on one anot'er. I ask a simple question, ant I hope for a plain ant straight answer. Show me t'e pountaries of your tomain, ant how much of t'e worlt you claim, ant how much you ton't claim."

"I've pretty much answered that question already, Chainbearer. My creed is, that a man has a right to hold all he wants, and to want all he holds."

"Got help t'e men, t'en, t'at haf to carry chain petween you and your neighpors, T'ousandacres; a man's wants to-tay may tiffer from his wants to-morrow, and to-morrow from t'e next tay, ant so on to t'e ent of time! On your toctrine, not'in' woult pe settlet, ant all woult pe at sixes ant sevens."

"I don't think I'm fully understood, a'ter all that's been said," returned the squatter. "Here's two men start in life at the same time, and both want farms. Wa-a-l; there's the wilderness, or maybe it isn't all wilderness, though it once was. One chooses to buy out betterments, and he does so; t'other plunges in, out o' sight of humanity, and makes his pitch. Both them men's in the right, and can hold on to their possessions, I say, to the eend of time.

That is, on the supposition that right is stronger than might."

"Well, well," answered Chainbearer, a little dryly; "ant s'pose one of your men ton't want to puy petterments, put follows t'ot'er, and makes his pitch in t'e wilterness, also?"

"Let him do't, I say; t'is his right, and the law of the Lord."

"Put, s'pose bot' your young men want t'e same pit of wilt lant?"

"First come, first sarv'd; that's my maxim. Let the spryest chap have the land. Possession's everything in settling land titles."

"Well, t'en, to please you, T'ousandacres, we'll let one get aheat of t'other, and haf his possession first; how much shalt he occupy?"

"As much as he wants, I've told you already."

"Ay, put when his slower frient comes along, ant hast his wants too, and wishes to make his pitch alongsite of his olt neighpor, where is t'e pountary petween 'em to be fount?"

"Let 'em agree on't! They must be dreadful poor neighbors, if they can't agree on so small a matter as that," said Tobit, who was getting weary of the argument.

"Tobit is right," added the father; "let 'em agree on their line, and run it by the eye. Curse on all chains and compasses, say I! They're an invention of the devil, to make ill blood in a neighborhood, and to keep strife awake, when our Bibles tell us to live in peace with all mankind.

"Yes, yes, I understand all t'at," returned Chainbearer, a little disdainfully. "A Yankee piple ist a fery convenient pook. T'ere's aut'ority in it for all sort of toctrines ant worshipin', ant prayin', ant preachin', ant so forth. It's what I call a so-forth piple, Mortaunt, and wilt reat packwarts as well ast forwarts; put all t'e chapters into one, if necessary, or all t'e verses into chapters. Sometimes St. Luke is St. Paul, and St. John ist St. Matt'ew. I've he'rt your tominies expount, and no two expount alike. Novelties ist t'e religion of New Englant, ant novelties, in t'e shape of ot'er men's lants, is t'e creet of her lofely chiltren! Oh! yes, I've seen a Yankee piple! Put, this toesn't settle out two squatters; bot' of whom wants a sartain hill for its lumper; now, which is to haf it?"

"The man that got there first, I've told you, old Chainbearer, and once tellin' is as good as a thousand. If the first comer looked on that hill, and said to himself, 'that hill's mine,' 't is his'n."

"Well, t'at ist making property fast; Wast t'at t'e way, T'ousantacres, t'at you took up your estate on t'e Mooseridge property?"

"Sartain-I want no better title. I got here first, and tuck up the land, and shall continue to tuck it up, as I want it. There's no use in being mealy-mouthed, for I like to speak out, though the landlord's son be by!"

"Oh! you speak out lout enouf, ant plain enouf, and I shoultn't wonter if you got tucket up yourself, one tay, for your pains. Here ist a tifficulty, however, t'at I'll just mention, T'ousantacres, for your consiteration. You take possession of timper-lant, by lookin' at it, you say-"

"Even lookin' at isn't necessary," returned the squatter, eager to widen the grasp of his rights. "It's enough that a man wants the land, and he comes, or sends to secure it. Possession is everything, and I call it possession, to crave a spot, and to make some sort of calkerlation, or works, reasonably near it. That gives a right to cut and clear, and when a clearin's begun, it's betterments, and everybody allows that betterments may be both bought and sold."

"Well, now we understant each o'ter. Put here ist t'e small tifficulty I woult mention. One General Littlepage and one Colonel Follock took a fancy to t'is spot long pefore t'e olt French war; ant pesites fancyin' t'e place, and sentin' messengers to look at it, t'ey pought out t'e Injin right in t'e first place; t'en t'ey pought of t'e king, who hat all t'e lant in t'e country, at t'at time, ast hatn't ot'er owners. T'en t'ey sent surfeyors to run t'e lines, ant t'em very surfeyors passet along py t'is river, ast I know py t'eir fielt-pooks (field-books): t'en more surfeyors wast sent out to tivite it into great lots, ant now more still haf come to tivite it into small lots: ant t'ey've paid quit-rents for many years, ant tone ot'er t'ings to prove t'ey want t'is place as much as you want it yourself. T'ey haf hat it more ast a quarter of a century, ant exerciset ownership over it all t'at time; ant wantet it very much t'e whole of t'at quarter of a century, ant, if t'e truit' was sait, want it still."

A long pause followed this statement, during which the different members of the family looked at each other, as if in quest of support. The idea of there being any other side to the question than that they had been long accustomed to consider so intently, was novel to them, and they were a little bewildered by the extraordinary circumstance. This is one of the great difficulties under which the inhabitant of a narrow district labors, in all that pertains to his personal notions and tastes, and a good deal in what relates to his principles. This it is that makes the true provincial, with his narrow views, set notions, conceit, and unhesitating likes and dislikes. When one looks around him and sees how very few are qualified, by experience and knowledge of the world, to utter opinions at all, he is apt to be astonished at finding how many there are that do it. I make no doubt that the family of Thousandacres were just as well satisfied with their land-ethics, as Paley ever could have been with his moral philosophy, or Newton with his mathematical demonstrations.

"I don't wonter you're callet T'ousantacres, Aaron Timperman," continued Chainbearer, pushing his advantage, "for wit' such a title to your estate, you might as well pe tarmet Ten T'ousantacres at once, ant more, too! Nay, I wonter, while your eyes was trawin' up title teets, t'at you shoult haf peen so mot'erate, for it was just as easy to possess a patent on t'at sort of right, as to possess a single farm."

But Thousandacres had made up his mind to pursue the subject no further; and while it was easy to see what fiery passions were burning within him, he seemed now bent on bringing a conference, from which he doubtless expected different results, to a sudden close. It was with difficulty that he suppressed the volcano that was raging within, but he so far succeeded as to command Tobit to shut up his prisoner again.

"Take him away, b'ys, take him back to the store'us'," said the old squatter, rising and moving a little on one side to permit Andries to pass, as if afraid to trust himself too near; "he was born the sarvent of the rich, and will die their sarvent. Chains be good enough for him, and I wish him no greater harm than to carry chains the rest of his days."

"Oh! you're a true son of liperty!" called out the Chainbearer, as he quietly returned to his prison; "a true son of liperty, accordin' to your own conceit! You want eferyt'ing in your own way, and eferyt'ing in your own pocket. T'e Lort's law is a law for T'ousantacres, put not a law to care for Cornelius Littlepage or Tirck Follock!"

Although my old friend was escorted to his prison, no attempt was made to remove me. On the contrary, Prudence joined her husband without, followed by all her young fry, and for a moment I fancied myself forgotten and deserted. A movement in one corner of the room, however, drew my attention there, and I saw Lowiny standing on tiptoe, with a finger on her lips, the sign of silence, while she made eager gestures with the other hand for me to enter a small passage that communicated, by means of a ladder, with the loft of the hut. My moccasons were now of great advantage to me. Without pausing to reflect on consequences, or to look around, I did as directed, drawing-to the door after me. There was a small window in the sort of passage in which I now found myself alone with the girl, and my first impulse was to force my body through it, for it had neither glass nor sash, but Lowiny caught my arms.

"Lord ha' massy on us!" whispered the girl-"you'd be seen and taken, or shot! For your life don't go out there now. Here's a hole for a cellar, and there's the trap-go down there, and wait 'till you hear news from me."

There was no time for deliberation, and the sight of Chainbearer's escort, as they proceeded toward the storehouse, satisfied me that the girl was right. She held up the trap, and I descended into the hole that answered the purposes of a cellar. I heard Lowiny draw a chest over the trap, and then I fancied I could distinguish the creaking of the rounds of the ladder, as she went up into the loft, which was the place where she usually slept.

All this occurred literally in about one minute of time. Another minute may have passed, when I heard the heavy tread of Thousandacres' foot on the floor above me, and the clamor of many voices, all speaking at once. It was evident that I was missed, and a search had already been commenced. For half a minute nothing was very intelligible to me; then I heard the shrill voice of Prudence calling for Lowiny.

"Lowiny-you Lowiny!" she cried-"where has the gal got to?"

"I'm here, mother"-answered my friend, from her loft-"you told me to come up, and look for your new Bible."

I presume this was true; for Prudence had really despatched the girl on that errand, and it must have sufficed to lull any suspicions of her daughter's being connected with my disappearance, if any such had been awakened. The movement of footsteps was now quick over my head, those of several men being among them; and in the confusion of voices, I heard that of Lowiny, who must have descended the ladder and joined in the search.

"He mustn't be allowed to get off, on no account," said Thousandacres aloud, "or we're all ondone. Everything we have will fall into their hands, and mill, logs, and all, will be utterly lost. We shan't even have time to get off the gear and the household stuff."

"He's up-stairs"-cried one-"he must be down cellar," said another. Steps went up the ladder, and I heard the chest drawn from the trap; and a stream of light entering the place, notified me that the trap was raised. The place I was in was a hole twenty feet square, roughly walled with stones, and nearly empty, though it did contain a meat-barrel or two, and a few old tubs. In the winter, it would have been filled with vegetables. There was no place to hide in, and an attempt at concealment would have led to a discovery. I withdrew to a corner, in a part of the cellar that was quite dark, but thought myself lost when I saw a pair of legs descending the ladder. Almost at the same moment, three of the men and two of the women came into the hole, a fourth female, whom I afterward ascertained to be Lowiny herself, standing in the trap in such a way as to double the darkness below. The first man who got down began to tumble the tubs about, and to look into the corners; and the lucky thought occurred to me to do the same thing. By keeping as busy as the rest of them, I actually escaped detection in the dark; and Tobit soon rushed to the ladder, calling out, "the window-the window-he's not here-the window!" In half a minute the cellar was empty again; or no one remained but myself.

At first I had great difficulty in believing in my good luck; but the trap fell, and the profound stillness of the place satisfied me that I had avoided that danger, at least. This escape was so singular and unexpected, that I could hardly believe in its reality; though real it was, to all intents and purposes. The absurd often strikes the imagination in an absurd way; and so it proved with me on this occasion. I sat down on a tub and laughed heartily, when I felt absolutely certain all was right, holding my sides lest the sound of my voice might yet betray me. Lowiny was similarly infected, for I heard peals of girlish laughter from her, as her brothers tumbled about barrels, and tubs, and bedsteads, in the upper part of the building, in their fruitless and hurried search. This merriment did not pass unrebuked, however; Prudence lending her daughter a box on the side of the head, that, in one sense, reached even my ears; though it probably aided in saving the girl from the suspicion of being in my secret, by the very natural character of her girlish indulgence. Two or three minutes after the trap closed on me for the second time, the sounds of footsteps and voices overhead ceased, and the hut seemed deserted.

My situation now was far from comfortable. Confined in a dark cellar, with no means of escaping but by the trap, and the almost certainty of falling into the hands of my captors, should I attempt such a thing, I now began to regret having entered so readily into Lowiny's scheme. There would be a certain loss of dignity in a recapture, that was not pleasant in itself; and I will own, I began to have some doubts of my eventual safety, should I again come under the control of such spirits as those of Thousandacres and his eldest son. Buried in that cellar, I was in a manner placed immediately beneath those whose aim it was to secure me, rendering escape impossible, and detection nearly unavoidable.

Such were my meditations when light again streamed into the cellar. The trap was raised, and presently I heard my name uttered in a whisper. Advancing to the ladder, I saw Lowiny holding the door, and beckoning for me to ascend. I followed her directions blindly, and was soon at her side. The girl was nearly convulsed between dread of detection and a desire to laugh; my emerging from the cellar recalling to her imagination all the ludicrous circumstances of the late search.

"Warn't it queer that none on 'em know'd you!" she whispered; then commanding silence by a hasty gesture. "Don't speak; for they're s'archin' still, cluss by, and some on 'em may follow me here. I wanted to get you out of the cellar, as some of the young-uns will be rummagin' there soon for pork for supper; and their eyes are as sharp as needles. Don't you think you could crawl into the mill? It's stopped now, and wun't be goin' ag'in till this stir's over."

"I should be seen, my good girl, if any of your people are looking for me near at hand."

"I don't know that. Come to the door, and you'll see there is a way. Everybody's lookin' on the right side of this house; and by creepin' as far as them logs, you'd be pretty safe. If you reach the mill safely, climb up into the loft."

I took a moment to survey the chances. At the distance of a hundred feet from the house there commenced a large bed of saw-logs, which were lying alongside of each other; and the timber being from two to four feet in diameter, it would be very possible to creep among it, up to the mill itself, into which even several of the logs had been rolled. The great difficulty would be in reaching the logs through a perfectly open space. The house would be a cover, as against most of the family, who were busy examining everything like a cover on its opposite side; no one supposing for a moment I could be near the mill, inasmuch as it stood directly in front of the spot where the crowd was collected at the moment of my sudden disappearance. But the boys and girls were flying around in all directions; rendering it uncertain how long they would remain in a place, or how long their eyes would be turned away from my path.

It was necessary to do something, and I determined to make an effort. Throwing myself on the ground, I crawled, rather slowly than fast, across that terrible space, and got safely among the logs. As there was no outcry, I knew I had not been seen. It was now comparatively easy to reach the mill. Another dangerous experiment, however, was to expose my person by climbing up to the loft. I could not do this without running the risk of being seen; and I felt the necessity of using great caution. I first raised my head high enough to survey the state of things without. Luckily the house was still between me and most of my enemies; though the small fry constantly came into view and vanished. I looked around for a spot to ascend, and took a final survey of the scene. There stood Lowiny in the door of the hut, her hands clasped, and her whole air expressive of concern. She saw my head, I knew, and I made a gesture of encouragement, which caused her to start. At the next instant my foot was on a brace, and my body was rising to the beams above. I do not think my person was uncovered ten seconds; and no clamor succeeded. I now felt there were really some chances of my finally effecting an escape, and glad enough was I to think so.

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