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   Chapter 23 No.23

The Chainbearer; Or, The Littlepage Manuscripts By James Fenimore Cooper Characters: 33671

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


"Alone, amid the shades,

Still in harmonious intercourse they liv'd

The rural day, and talked the flowing heart,

Or sigh'd, and looked unutterable things."

-Thomson.

* * *

That was a somewhat breathless moment. The intensity with which I had listened for any sound that might announce my discovery, was really painful. I almost fancied I heard a shout, but none came. Then I gave myself up, actually believing that footsteps were rushing toward the mill, with a view to seize me. It was imagination; the rushing of the waters below being the only real sound that disturbed the silence of the place. I had time to breathe and to look about me.

As might be supposed, the mill was very rudely constructed. I have spoken of a loft, but there was nothing that really deserved the term. Some refuse boards were laid about, here and there, on the beams, making fragments of rough flooring; and my first care was to draw several of these boards close together, placing them two or three in thickness, so as to make a place where, by lying down, I could not be seen by any one who should happen to enter the mill. There lay what the millers call a bunch of cherry-wood boards at no great distance from the spot where the roof joined the plate of the building, and within this bunch I arranged my hiding-place. No ostensible change was necessary to complete it, else the experiment might have been hazardous among those who were so much accustomed to note circumstances of that nature. The manner in which the lumber was arranged when I reached the spot was so little different from what it was when I had done with it, as scarcely to attract attention.

No sooner was my hiding-place completed to my mind, than I looked round to see if there were any means of making observations without. The building was not shingled, but the rain was kept out by placing slabs up and down, as is often seen in the ruder rustic frontier architecture of America. With the aid of my knife I soon had a small hole between two of these slabs, at a place favorable to such an object; and though it was no larger than the eye itself, it answered every purpose. Eagerly enough did I now commence my survey.

The search was still going on actively. Those experienced bordermen well knew it was not possible for me to cross the open ground and to reach the woods in the short interval of time between my disappearance and their discovery of the fact, and they consequently felt certain that I was secreted somewhere near the building. Every house had been searched, though no one thought of entering the mill, because my movement, as all supposed, was necessarily in an opposite direction. The fences were examined, and everything like a cover on the proper side of the house was looked into with care and activity. It would seem that, just as I took my first look through the hole, my pursuers were at fault. The search had been made, and of course without effect. Nothing likely to conceal me remained to be examined. It was necessary to come to a stand, and to concert measures for a further search.

The family of squatters were too much accustomed to their situation and its hazards, not to be familiar with all the expedients necessary to their circumstances. They placed the younger children on the lookout, at the points most favorable to my retreat, should I be in a situation to attempt going off in that quarter of the clearing; and then the father collected his older sons around him, and the whole cluster of them, seven in number, came slowly walking toward the mill. The excitement of the first pursuit had sensibly abated, and these practised woodsmen were in serious consultation on the measures next to be taken. In this condition the whole party entered the mill, taking their seats, or standing directly beneath my post, and within six feet of me. As a matter of course, I heard all that was said, though completely hid from view.

"Here we shall be safe from the long ears of little folks," said the father, as he placed his own large frame on the log that was next to be sawed. "This has been a most onaccountable thing, Tobit, and I'd no idee at all them 'ere city-bred gentry was so expart with their legs. I sometimes think he can't be a Littlepage, but that he's one of our hill folks, tossed out and mannered a'ter the towns' folks, to take a body in. It seems an onpossibility that the man should get off, out of the midst on us, and we not see or hear anything on him."

"We may as well give up the lumber and the betterments, at once," growled Tobit, "as let him get clear. Should he reach Ravensnest, the first thing he'd do would be to swear out warrants ag'n us all, and Newcome is not the man to stand by squatters in trouble. He'd no more dare deny his landlord, than deny his meetin'."

This expression of Tobit's is worthy of notice. In the estimation of a certain class of religionists among us, the "meetin'," as the young squatter called his church, had the highest place in his estimate of potentates and powers; it is to be feared, often even higher than the dread Being for whose worship that "meetin'" existed.

"I don't think as hard of the 'squire as all that," answered Thousandacres. "He'll never send out a warrant ag'in us, without sendin' out a messenger to let us hear of it, and that in time to get us all out of the way."

"And who's to get the boards in the creek out of the way afore the water rises? And who's to hide or carry off all them logs? There's more than a ton weight of my blood and bones in them very logs, in the shape of hard labor, and I'll fight like a she-bear for her cubs afore I'll be driven from them without pay."

It is very surprising that one who set this desperate value on the property he deemed his, should have so little regard for that which belonged to other persons. In this respect, however, Tobit's feeling was no more than submission to the general law of our nature, which reverses the images before our moral vision, precisely as we change our own relations to them.

"It would go hard with me afore I should give up the lumber or the clearin'," returned Thousandacres, with emphasis. "We've fit King George for liberty, and why shouldn't we fight for our property? Of what use is liberty at all, if it won't bear a man harmless out of a job of this sort? I despise sich liberty, b'ys, and want none on it."

All the young men muttered their approbation of such a sentiment, and it was easy enough to understand that the elevated notion of personal rights entertained by Thousandacres found an answering echo in the bosom of each of his heroic sons. I dare say the same sympathy would have existed between them, had they been a gang of pickpockets collected in council in a room of the Black Horse, St. Catharine's Lane, Wapping, London.

"But what can we do with the young chap, father, should we take him ag'in?" asked Zephaniah; a question, as all will see, of some interest to myself. "He can't be kept a great while without having a stir made a'ter him, and that would break us up, sooner or later. We may have a clear right to the work of our hand; but, on the whull, I rather conclude the country is ag'in squatters."

"Who cares for the country?" answered Thousandacres fiercely. "If it wants young Littlepage, let it come and s'arch for him, as we've been doin'. If that chap falls into my hands once more, he never quits 'em alive, unless he gives me a good and sufficient deed to two hundred acres, includin' the mill, and a receipt in full, on his father's behalf, for all back claims. On them two principles my mind is set, and not to be altered."

A long pause succeeded this bold announcement, and I began to be afraid that my suppressed breathing might be overheard in the profound stillness that followed. But Zephaniah spoke in time to relieve me from this apprehension, and in a way to satisfy me that the party below, all of whom were concealed from my sight, had been pondering on what had been said by their leader, and not listening to detect any tell-tale sounds from me.

"I've heern say," Zephaniah remarked, "that deeds gi'n in that way won't stand good in law. 'Squire Newcome was talkin' of sich transactions the very last time I was out at the Nest."

"I wish a body could find out what would stand good in law!" growled Thousandacres. "They make their laws, and lay great account in havin' em obsarved; and then, when a man comes into court with everything done accordin' to their own rules, five or six attorneys start up and bawl out, 'This is ag'in law!' If a deed is to set forth so and so, and is to have what they call 'hand and seal and date' beside; and sich bein' the law, I want to know why an instrument so made won't hold good by their confounded laws? Law is law, all over the world, I s'pose; and though it's an accursed thing, if men agree to have it they ought to stand by their own rules. I've thought a good deal of squeezin' writin's out of this young Littlepage; and just as my mind's made up to do't, if I can lay hands on him ag'in, you come out and tell me sich writin's be good for nothin'. Zeph, Zeph-you go too often out into them settlements, and get your mind perverted by their wickedness and talk."

"I hope not, father, though I own I do like to go there. I've come to a time of life when a man thinks of marryin', and there bein' no gal here, unless it be one of my own sisters, it's nat'ral to look into the next settlement. I'll own sich has been my object in going to the Nest."

"And you've found the gal you set store by? Out with the whull truth, like a man. You know I've always been set ag'in lyin', and have ever endeavored to make the whull of you speak truth. How is it, Zephaniah? have you found a gal to your mind, and who is't? Ourn is a family into which anybody can come by askin', you will remember."

"Lord, father! Dus Malbone would no more think of askin' me to have her, than she'd think of marryin' you! I've offered three times, and she's told me, as plain as a woman could speak, that she couldn't nohow consent, and that I hadn't ought to think of her any longer."

"Who is the gal, in this part of the country, that holds her head so much higher than one of Thousandacres' sons?" demanded the old squatter, with some such surprise, real or affected, as a Bourbon might be supposed to feel at having his alliance spurned on the score of blood. "I'd like to see her, and to convarse with this young woman. What did you call her name, Zeph?"

"Dus Malbone, father, and the young woman that lives with Chainbearer. She's his niece, I b'lieve, or something of that sort."

"Ha! Chainbearer's niece, d'ye say? His taken da'ghter. Isn't there some mistake?"

"Dus Malbone calls old Andries 'Uncle Chainbearer,' and I s'pose from that she's his niece."

"And you've offered to marry the gal three times, d'ye tell me, Zephaniah?"

"Three times, father; and every time she has given 'no' for her answer."

"The fourth time, maybe, she'll change her mind. I wonder if we couldn't lay hands on this gal, and bring her into our settlement? Does she live with Chainbearer, in his hut out here in the woods?"

"She doos, father."

"And doos she set store by her uncle? or is she one of the flaunty sort that thinks more of herself and gownd than she does of her own flesh and blood? Can you tell me that, Zeph?"

"In my judgment, father, Dus Malbone loves Chainbearer as much as she would was he her own father."

"Ay, some gals haven't half the riverence and love for their own fathers that they should have. What's to prevint your goin', Zephaniah, to Chainbearer's pitch, and tell the gal that her uncle's in distress, and that you don't know what may happen to him, and that she had better come over and see a'ter him? When we get her here, and she understands the natur' of the case, and you put on your Sabba'day clothes, and we send for 'Squire Newcome, you may find yourself a married man sooner than you thought for, my son, and settle down in life. A'ter that, there'll not be much danger of Chainbearer's tellin' on us, or of his great fri'nd here, this Major Littlepage's troublin' the lumber afore the water rises."

A murmur of applause followed this notable proposal, and I fancied I could hear a snigger from the young man, as if he found the project to his mind, and thought it might be feasible.

"Father," said Zephaniah, "I wish you'd call Lowiny here, and talk to her a little about Dus Malbone. There she is, with Tobit's wife and mother, looking round among the cabbages, as if a man could be hid in such a place."

Thousandacres called to his daughter in an authoritative way; and I soon heard the girl's step, as she came, a little hesitatingly, as I fancied, into the mill. As it would be very natural to one in Lowiny's situation to suppose that her connection with my escape occasioned this summons, I could not but feel for what I presumed was the poor girl's distress at receiving it.

"Come here, Lowiny," commenced Thousandacres, in the stern manner with which it was his wont to speak to his children; "come nearer, gal. Do you know anything of one Dus Malbone, Chainbearer's niece?"

"Lord ha' massy! Father, how you did frighten me! I thought you might have found the gentleman, and s'posed I'd a hand in helpin' to hide him!"

Singular as it may seem, this burst of conscience awakened no suspicion in any of the listeners. When the girl thus betrayed herself, I very naturally expected that such an examination would follow as would extort the whole details from her. Not at all, however; neither the father nor any of the sons understood the indiscreet remarks of the girl, but imputed them to the excitement that had just existed, and the circumstance that her mind had, naturally enough, been dwelling on its cause. It is probable that the very accidental manner of my evasion, which precluded the attaching of suspicious facts to what had really occurred, favored Lowiny on this occasion; it being impossible that she should be suspected of anything of that character.

"Who's talkin' or thinkin' now of young Littlepage, at all?" returned Thousandacres, a little angrily. "I ask if you know anything of Chainbearer's niece-one Dus Malbone, or Malcome?"

"I do know suthin' of her, father," answered Lowiny, willing enough to betray one-the lesser-of her secrets, in order to conceal the other, which, on all accounts, was much the most important; "though I never laid eyes on her 'till to-day. Zeph has often talked to me of the gal that carried chain with her uncle for a whull month; and he has a notion to marry her if he can get her."

"Never laid eyes on her 'till to-day! Whereabouts have you laid eyes on her to-day, gal? Is all creation comin' in upon my clearin' at once? Whereabouts have you seen this gal to-day?"

"She come to the edge of the clearin' with her uncle, and--"

"Well, what next? Why don't you go on, Lowiny?"

I could have told Thousandacres why his daughter hesitated; but the girl got out of the scrape by her own presence of mind and ingenuity, a little aided, perhaps, by some practice in sins of the sort.

"Why, I went a berryin' this forenoon, and up ag'in the berry lot, just in the edge of the woods, I saw a young woman, and that was the Malbone gal. So we talked together, and she told me all about it. She's waitin' for her uncle to come back."

"So, so; this is news indeed, b'ys! Do you know where the gal is now, Lowiny?"

"Not just now, for she told me she should go deeper into the woods, lest she should be seen; but an hour afore sundown she's to come to the foot of the great chestnut, just ag'in the berry lot; and I promised to meet her, or to carry her out suthin' for supper, and to make a bed on."

This was said frankly, and with the feeling and sympathy that females are apt to manifest in behalf of each other. It was evident Lowiny's audience believed every word she had said; and the old man, in particular, determined at once to act. I heard him move from his seat, and his voice sounded like one who was retiring, as he said:

"Tobit-b'ys-come with me, and we'll have one more look for this young chap through the lumber and the housen. It may be that he's stolen in there while our eyes have been turned another way. Lowiny, you needn't come with us, for the flutterin' way of you gals don't do no good in sich a s'arch."

I waited until the last heavy footstep was inaudible, and then ventured to move far enough, on my hands, to find a crack that I had purposely left, with a view to take through it an occasional look below. On the log which her father had just left, Lowiny had seated herself. Her eye was roaming over the upper part of the mill, as if in quest of me. At length

she said, in a suppressed voice-

"Be you here still? Father and the b'ys can't hear us now, if you speak low."

"I am here, good Lowiny, thanks to your friendly kindness, and have overheard all that passed. You saw Ursula Malbone, and gave her my note?"

"As true as you are there, I did; and she read it over so often, I guess she must know it by heart."

"But what did she say? Had she no message for her uncle-no answer to what I had written?"

"Oh! she'd enough to say-gals love to talk, you know, when they get with one another, and Dus and I talked together half an hour, or longer. She'd plenty to say, though it wunt do for me to sit here and tell it to you, lest somebody wonder I stay so long in the mill."

"You can tell me if she sent any message or answer to my note?"

"She never breathed a syllable about what you'd writ. I warrant you she's close-mouthed enough, when she gets a line from a young man. Do you think her so desp'rate handsome as Zeph says she is?"

This boded ill, but it was a question that it was politic to answer, and to answer with some little discretion. If I lost the services of Lowiny, my main stay was gone.

"She is well enough to look at, but I've seen quite as handsome young women, lately. But, handsome or not, she is one of your own sex, and is not to be deserted in her trouble."

"Yes, indeed," answered Lowiny, with an expression of countenance that told me at once, the better feelings of her sex had all returned again, "and I'll not desart her, though father drive me out of the settlement. I am tired of all this squatting, and think folks ought to live as much in one spot as they can. What's best to be done about Dus Malbone-perhaps she'd like well enough to marry Zeph?"

"Did you see or hear anything while with her, to make you think so? I am anxious to know what she said."

"La! She said sights of things; but most of her talk was about old Chainbearer. She never named your name so much as once!"

"Did she name Zephaniah's? I make no doubt that anxiety on account of her uncle was her chief care. What are her intentions, and will she remain near that tree until you come?"

"She stays under a rock not a great way from the tree, and there she'll stay till I go to meet her, at the chestnut. We had our talk under that rock, and it's easy enough to find her there."

"How do things look around us? Might I descend, slip down into the bed of the river, and go round to Dus Malbone, so as to give her notice of the danger she is in?"

Lowiny did not answer me for near a minute, and I began to fear that I had put another indiscreet question. The girl seemed thoughtful, but when she raised her face so high as to allow me to see it, all the expression of the more generous feminine sympathy was visible.

"'Twould be hard to make Dus have Zeph, if she don't like him, wouldn't it!" she said with emphasis. "I don't know but t'would be better to let her know what's coming so that she can choose for herself."

"She told me," I answered, with perfect truth, "that she is engaged to another, and it would be worse than cruel-it would be wicked, to make her marry one man, while she loves another."

"She shan't do't!" cried the girl, with an animation that I thought dangerous. But she gave me no opportunity for remonstrance, as, all her energies being roused, she went to work in earnest to put me in the way of doing what I most desired to achieve.

"D'ye see the lower corner of the mill?" she continued, hurriedly. "That post goes down to the rock over which the water falls. You can walk to that corner without any danger of being seen, as the ruff hides you, and when you get there, you can wait till I tell you to get on the post. 'T will be easy to slide down that post to the rock, and there'll be not much of a chance of being seen, as the post will nearly hide you. When you're on the rock, you'll find a path that leads along the creek till you come to a foot-bridge. If you cross that log, and take the left-hand path, 'twill bring you out near the edge of the clearin', up on the hill again, and then you'll have only to follow the edge of the woods a little way, afore you come to the chestnut. The rock is right off, ag'in the chestnut, only about fifty rods."

I took in these directions eagerly, and was at the post almost as soon as the girl ceased speaking. In order to do this I had only to walk on the boards that lay scattered about on the girts of the mill, the roof completely concealing the movement from any on its outside. I made my arrangements, and only waited for a signal, or the direction from Lowiny, to proceed.

"Not yet," said the girl, looking down and affecting to be occupied with something near her feet. "Father and Tobit are walkin' this way, and lookin' right at the mill. Now-get ready-they've turned their heads, and seem as if they'd turn round themselves next. They've turned ag'in, wait one moment-now's a good time-don't go away altogether without my seein' you once more."

I heard these last words, but it was while sliding down the post. Just as my head came so low as to be in a line with the objects scattered about the floor of the mill, I clung to the post to catch one glimpse of what was going on without. Thousandacres and Tobit were about a hundred yards distant, walking apart from the group of young men, and apparently in deep consultation together. It was quite evident no alarm was taken, and down I slid to the rock. At the next moment, I was in the path, descending to the foot-bridge, a tree that had been felled across the stream. Until that tree was crossed, and a slight distance of the ascent on the other side of the stream, along the left-hand path was overcome, I was completely exposed to the observation of any one who might be in a situation to look down into the glen of the river. At almost any other moment at that particular season, my discovery would have been nearly certain, as some of the men or boys were always at work in the water; but the events of that morning called them elsewhere, and I made the critical passage, a distance of two hundred yards or more, in safety. As soon as I entered behind a cover, my speed abated, and having risen again to the level of the dwellings, or even a little above them, I profited by openings among the small pine-bushes that fringed the path, to take a survey of the state of things among the squatters.

There the cluster of heavy, lounging young men was, Thousandacres and Tobit walking apart, as when last seen. Prudence was at the door of a distant cabin, surrounded, as usual, by a collection of the young fry, and conversing herself eagerly, with the wives of two or three of her married sons. Lowiny had left the mill, and was strolling along the opposite side of the glen, so near the verge of the rocks as to have enabled her to see the whole of my passage across the open space. Perceiving that she was quite alone, I ventured to hem just loud enough to reach her ear. A hurried, frightened gesture assured me that I had been heard, and first making a gesture for me to go forward, the girl turned away, and went skipping off toward the cluster of females who surrounded her mother.

As for myself, I now thought only of Dus. What cared I if she did love another? A girl of her education, manners, sentiments, birth and character, was not to be sacrificed to one like Zephaniah, let what might happen; and could I reach her place of concealment in time, she might still be saved. These thoughts fairly winged my flight, and I soon came in sight of the chestnut. Three minutes later I laid a hand on the trunk of the tree itself. As I had been a quarter of an hour at least, in making the circuit of that side of the clearing, some material change might have occurred among the squatters, and I determined to advance to the edge of the bushes, in Lowiny's "berry lot," which completely screened the spot, and ascertain the facts, before I sought Dus at her rock.

The result showed that some measures had been decided on between Thousandacres and Tobit. Not one of the males, a lad that stood sentinel at the storehouse, and a few of the smaller boys excepted, was to be seen. I examined all the visible points with care, but no one was visible. Even Susquesus, who had been lounging about the whole day, or since his liberation, had vanished. Prudence and her daughters, too, were in a great commotion, hurrying from cabin to cabin, and manifesting all that restlessness which usually denotes excitement among females. I stopped but a moment to ascertain these leading circumstances, and turned to seek the rock. While retiring from among the bushes, I heard the fallen branch of a tree snap under a heavy footstep, and looking cautiously around, saw Jaaf, or Jaap as we commonly called him, advancing toward me, carrying a rifle on each shoulder.

"Heaven's blessings on you, my faithful Jaap!" I cried, holding out an arm to receive one of the weapons. "You come at a most happy moment, and can lead me to Miss Malbone."

"Yes, sah, and glad to do it, too. Miss Dus up here, a bit, in 'e wood, and can werry soon see her. She keep me down here to look out, and I carry bot' rifle, Masser Chainbearer's and my own, 'cause Miss Dus no great hand wid gunpowder. But, where you come from, Masser Mordaunt?-and why you run away so, in night-time?"

"Never mind just now, Jaap-in proper time you shall know all about it. Now we must take care of Miss Ursula. Is she uneasy? has she shown any fear on her uncle's account?"

"She cry half 'e time, sah-den she look up bold, and resolute, just like ole Massar, sah, when he tell he rijjement 'charge baggonet,' and seem as if she want to go right into T'ousandacres' huts. Lor' bless me, sah, Masser Mordaunt-if she ask me one question about you to-day, she ask me a hundred!"

"About me, Jaap!" But I arrested the impulsive feeling in good time, so as not to be guilty of pumping my own servant concerning what others had said of me; a meanness I could not easily have pardoned in myself. But I increased my speed, and having Jaap for my guide, was soon at the side of Dus. The negro had no sooner pointed out to me the object of my search, than he had the discretion to return to the edge of the clearing, carrying with him both rifles; for I returned to him the one I had taken, in my eagerness to hurry forward, the instant I beheld Dus.

I can never forget the look with which that frank, noble-hearted girl received me! It almost led me to hope that my ears had deceived me, and that after all, I was an object of the highest interest with her. A few tears, half-suppressed, but suppressed with difficulty, accompanied that look; and I had the happiness of holding for some time and of pressing to my heart, that little hand that was freely-nay, warmly extended to me.

"Let us quit this spot at once, dearest Ursula," I cried, the moment I could speak. "It is not safe to remain near that family of wretches, who live by depredation and violence."

"And leave uncle Chainbearer in their hands?" answered Dus, reproachfully. "You, surely, would not advise me to do that?"

"If your own safety demands it, yes-a thousand times yes. We must fly, and there is not a moment to lose. A design exists among those wretches to seize you, and to make use of your fears to secure the aid of your uncle in extricating them from the consequences of this discovery of their robberies. It is not safe, I repeat, for you to remain a minute longer here."

The smile that Dus now bestowed on me was very sweet, though I found it inexplicable; for it had as much of pain and suffering in it, as it had of that which was winning.

"Mordaunt Littlepage, have you forgotten the words spoken by me when we last parted?" she asked, seriously.

"Forgotten! I can never forget them! They drove me nearly to despair, and were the cause of bringing us all into this difficulty."

"I told you that my faith was already plighted-that I could not accept your noble, frank, generous, manly offer, because another had my troth."

"You did-you did. Why renew my misery-"

"It is with a different object that I am now more explicit. That man to whom I am pledged is in those huts, and I cannot desert him."

"Can I believe my senses! Do you-can you-is it possible that one like Ursula Malbone can love Zephaniah Thousandacres-a squatter himself, and the son of a squatter?"

The look with which Dus regarded me, said at once that her astonishment was quite as great as my own. I could have bitten off my hasty and indiscreet tongue, the instant it had spoken; and I am sure the rush of tell-tale blood in my face must have proclaimed to my companion that I felt most thoroughly ashamed of myself. This feeling was deepened nearly to despair, when I saw the expression of abased mortification that came over the sweet and usually happy countenance of Dus, and the difficulty she had in suppressing her tears.

Neither spoke for a minute, when my companion broke silence by saying steadily-I might almost add solemnly-

"This, indeed, shows how low my fortune has become! But I pardon you, Mordaunt; for, humble as that fortune is, you have spoken nobly and frankly in my behalf, and I exonerate you from any feeling that is not perfectly natural for the circumstances. Perhaps"-and a bright blush suffused the countenance of Dus as she said it-"Perhaps I may attribute the great mistake into which you have fallen to a passion that is most apt to accompany strong love, and insomuch prize it, instead of throwing it away with contempt. But, between you and me, whatever comes of it, there must be no more mistakes. The man to whom my faith is plighted, and to whom my time and services are devoted, so long as one or both of us live, is uncle Chainbearer, and no other. Had you not rushed from me in the manner you did, I might have told you this, Mordaunt, the evening you were showing so much noble frankness yourself."

"Dus!-Ursula!-beloved Miss Malbone, have I then no preferred rival?"

"No man has ever spoken to me of love, but this uncouth and rude young squatter, and yourself."

"Is your heart then untouched? Are you still mistress of your own affections?"

The look I now received from Dus was a little saucy; but that expression soon changed to one that had more of the deep feeling and generous sympathy of her precious sex in it.

"Were I to answer 'yes,' many women would think I was being no more than true to the rights of a girl who has been so unceremoniously treated; but--"

"But what, charming, most beloved Ursula? But what?"

"I prefer truth to coquetry, and shall not attempt to deny what it would almost be treason against nature to suppose. How could a girl, educated as I have been, without any preference to tie her to another, be shut up in this forest with a man who has treated her with so much kindness and devotion and manly tenderness, and insensible to his merits? Were we in the world, Mordaunt, I think I should prefer you to all others; being, as we are, in this forest, I know I do."

The reader shall not be let into the sacred confidence that followed; any further, at least, than to know the main result. A quarter of an hour passed so swiftly, and so sweetly, indeed, that I could hardly take it on myself to record one-half that was said. Dus made no longer any hesitation in declaring her attachment for me; and though she urged her own poverty as a just obstacle to my wishes, it was faintly, as most Americans of either sex would do. In this particular, at least, we may fairly boast of a just superiority over all the countries of the old world. While it is scarcely possible that either man or woman should not see how grave a barrier to wedded happiness is interposed by the opinions and habits of social castes, it is seldom that any one, in his or her own proper sphere, feels that the want of money is an insurmountable obstacle to a union-more especially when one of the parties is provided with the means of maintaining the household gods. The seniors may, and do often have scruples on this score; but the young people rarely. Dus and myself were in the complete enjoyment of this happy simplicity, with my arms around her waist, and her head leaning on my shoulder, when I was aroused from a state that I fancied Elysium, by the hoarse, raven-throated cry of-

"Here she is! Here she is, father! Here they are both!"

On springing forward to face the intruders, I saw Tobit and Zephaniah directly before me, with Lowiny standing at no great distance behind them. The first looked ferocious, the second jealous and angry, the third abashed and mortified. In another minute we were surrounded by Thousandacres and all the males of his brood.

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