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   Chapter 24 No.24

The Chainbearer; Or, The Littlepage Manuscripts By James Fenimore Cooper Characters: 33641

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


"My love is young-but other loves are young;

And other loves are fair, and so is mine;

An air divine discloses whence he sprung;

He is my love that boasts that air divine."

-Shenstone.

* * *

A more rude and violent interruption of a scene in which the more gentle qualities love to show themselves, never occurred. I, who knew the whole of the past, saw at once that we had very serious prospects before us; but Dus at first felt only the consciousness and embarrassment of a woman who has betrayed her most sacred secret to vulgar eyes. That very passion, which a month later, and after the exchange of the marriage vows, it would have been her glory to exhibit in face of the whole community, on the occurrence of any event of moment to myself, she now shrunk from revealing; and I do believe that maiden bashfulness gave her more pain, when thus arrested, than any other cause. As for the squatters, she probably had no very clear conceptions of their true characters; and it was one of her liveliest wishes to be able to join her uncle. But, Thousandacres soon gave us both cause to comprehend how much he was now in earnest.

"So, my young major, you're catched in the same nest, be you! You've your ch'ise to walk peaceably back where you belong, or to be tied and carried there like a buck that has been killed a little out in the woods. You never know'd Thousandacres and his race, if you really thought to slip away from him, and that with twenty miles of woods around you!"

I intimated a wish not to be tied, and professed a perfect willingness to accompany my captors back to their dwellings, for nothing would have tempted me to desert Dus, under the circumstances. The squatters might have declared the road open to me, but the needle does not point more unerringly to the pole than I should have followed my magnet, though at liberty.

Little more was said until we had quitted the woods, and had reached the open fields of the clearing. I was permitted to assist my companion through the bushes, and in climbing a fence or two; the squatters, who were armed to a man, forming a circle around us, at a distance that enabled me to whisper a few words to Dus, in the way of encouragement. She had great natural intrepidity for a woman, and I believe I ought to escape the imputation of vanity, if I add that we both felt so happy at the explanations which had so lately been had, that this new calamity could not entirely depress us, so long as we were not separated.

"Be not downhearted, dearest Dus," I whispered, as we approached the storehouse; "after all, these wretches will not dare to transgress against the law, very far."

"I have few fears, with you and uncle Chainbearer so near me, Mordaunt," was her smiling answer, "It cannot be long before we hear from Frank, who is gone, as you must have been told, to Ravensnest, for authority and assistance. He left our huts at the same time we left them to come here, and must be on his return long before this."

I squeezed the hand of the dear girl, receiving a gentle pressure in return, and prepared myself to be separated from her, as I took it for granted that Prudence and her daughters would hold watch and ward over the female prisoner. I had hesitated, ever since quitting the woods, about giving her notice of the trial that probably awaited her; but, as no attempt to coerce a marriage could be made until the magistrate arrived, I thought it would be rendering her unnecessarily unhappy. The trial, if it did come at all, would come soon enough of itself; and I had no apprehension that one of Dus's spirit and character, and who had so recently and frankly admitted that her whole heart was mine, could be frightened into a concession that would give Zephaniah any claim to her. To own the truth, a mountain had been removed from my own breast, and I was too happy on this particular account, to be rendered very miserable on any other, just at that time. I do believe Dus was a little sustained by some similar sentiment.

Dus and I parted at the door of the first house, she being transferred to the keeping of Tobit's wife, a woman who was well bestowed on her brutal and selfish husband. No violence was used, however, toward the prisoner, who was permitted to go at large; though I observed that one or two of the females attached themselves to her person immediately, no doubt as her keepers.

In consequence of our having approached the dwelling of the squatters by a new path, Chainbearer knew nothing of the arrest of his niece, until the fact was communicated by me. He was not even aware of my being retaken, until he saw me about to enter the prison again; though he probably anticipated that such might be my fate. As for Susquesus, he seldom manifested surprise or emotion of any sort, let what would occur.

"Well, Mortaunt, my lat, I knowet you had vanishet py hook or py crook, ant nopoty knowet how; put I t'ought you would find it hart to t'row t'ese rascally squatters off your trail," cried Andries, giving me a hearty shake of the hand as I entered the prison. "Here we are, all t'ree of us, ag'in; and it's lucky we're such goot frients, as our quarters are none of t'e largest or pest. The Injin fount I was alone, so he took pack his parole, and ist a close prisoner like t'e rest of us, put in one sense a free man. You can tig up t'e hatchet ag'in t'ese squatters whenever you please now; is it not so, Sureflint?"

"Sartin-truce done-Susquesus prisoner like everybody. Give T'ousandacres p'role back ag'in-Injin free man, now."

I understood the Onondago's meaning well enough, though his freedom was of a somewhat questionable character. He merely wished to say that, having given himself up to the squatters, he was released from the conditions of his parole, and was at liberty to make his escape, or to wage war on his captors in any manner he saw fit. Luckily Jaap had escaped, for I could see no signs of even his presence being known to Thousandacres or to his sons. It was something to have so practised a woodsman and so true a friend still at large, and near us; and the information he could impart, should he fall in with Frank Malbone, with the constable and the posse, might be of the utmost service to us. All these points Chainbearer and I discussed at large, the Indian sitting by, an attentive but a silent listener. It was our joint opinion that Malbone could not now be very far distant with succor. What would be the effect of an attack on the squatters it was not easy to predict, since the last might make battle; and, small as was their force, it would be likely to prove very available in a struggle of that nature. The females of such a family were little less efficient than the males, when posted behind logs; and there were a hundred things in which their habits, experience, and boldness might be made to tell, should matters be pushed to extremities.

"Got knows-Got only knows, Mortaunt, what will come of it all," rejoined Chainbearer to one of my remarks, puffing coolly at his pipe at intervals, in order to secure the fire he had just applied to it. "Nut'in is more unsartain t'an war, as Sus, here, fery well knows py long exper'ence, ant as you ought to know yourself, my poy, hafin seen sarfice, ant warm sarfice, too. Shoult Frank Malbone make a charge on t'is settlement, as pein' an olt soltier, he will pe fery likely to do, we must make efery effort to fall in on one of his flanks, in orter to cover t'e atvance or t'e retreat, as may happen to pe t'e movement at t'e time."

"I trust it will be the advance, as Malbone does not strike me as a man likely to retreat very easily. But, are we certain 'Squire Newcome will grant the warrant he will ask for, being in such close communion himself with these squatters?"

"I haf t'ought of all t'at, too, Mortaunt, ant t'ere is goot sense in it. I t'ink he will at least sent wort to T'ousantacres, to let him know what is comin', ant make as many telays as possiple. T'e law is a lazy sarfant when it wishes to pe slow, ant many is t'e rogue t'at hast outrun it, when t'e race has peen to safe a pack or a fine. Nefert'eless, Mortaunt, t'e man who is right fights wit' great otts in his fafor, ant is fery apt to come out pest in t'e long run. It is a great advantage to pe always right; a trut' I've known ant felt from poyhoot, put which hast peen mate more ant more clear to me since t'e peace, ant I haf come pack to lif wit' Dus. T'at gal has teachet me much on all such matters; ant it woult do your heart goot to see her alone wit' an olt ignorant man in t'e woots, of a Sunday, a tryin' to teach him his piple, and how he ought to lofe ant fear Got!"

"Does Dus do this for you, my old friend?-Does that admirable creature really take on herself the solemn office of duty and love! Much as I admired and esteemed her before, for her reverence and affection for you, Chainbearer, I now admire and esteem her the more, for this proof of her most true and deep-seated interest in your welfare."

"I'll tell you what, poy-Dus is petter ast twenty tominies to call a stupporn olt fellow, t'at has got a conscience toughenet ant hartenet by lifin' t'reescore years ant ten in t'e worlt, pack from his wicketness into t'e ways of gotliness and peace. You're young, Mortaunt, and haf not yet got out of t'e gristle of sin into t'e pone, ant can hartly know how strong ist t'e holt t'at hapit and t'e worlt gets of an olt man; put I hope you may lif long enough to see it all, ant to feel it all." I did not even smile, for the childlike earnestness, and the sincere simplicity with which Andries delivered himself of this wish, concealed its absurdity behind a veil of truth and feeling too respectable to admit of a single disrespectful impulse. "Ant t'at is t'e worst wish I can wish you, my tear poy. You know how it hast peen wit' me, Mortaunt; a chainpearer's callin' is none of t'e pest to teach religion; which toes not seem to flourish in t'e woots; t'ough why I cannot tell; since, as Dus has ag'in ant ag'in shown to me. Got is in t'e trees, ant on t'e mountains, ant along t'e valleys, ant is to pe hearet in t'e prooks ant t'e rifers, as much if not more t'an he ist to pe hearet ant seen in t'e clearin's ant t'e towns. Put my life was not a religious life afore t'e war, ant war is not a pusiness to make a man t'ink of deat' as he ought; t'ough he hast it tay and night, as it might pe, afore his eyes."

"And Dus, the excellent, frank, buoyant, sincere, womanly and charming Dus, adds these admirable qualities to other merits, does she! I knew she had a profound sentiment on the subject of religion, Chainbearer, though I did not know she took so very lively an interest in the welfare of those she loves, in connection with that all-important interest."

"You may well call t'e gal py all t'em fine worts, Mortaunt, for she desarfs efery one of t'em, ant more too. No-no-Dus isn't known in a tay. A poty may lif in t'e same house wit' her, and see her smilin' face, and hear her merry song, mont's ant mont's, ant not l'arn all t'at t'ere ist of gotliness, ant meekness, ant virtue, ant love, and piety, in t'e pottom of her soul. One tay you'll tink well of Dus, Mortaunt Littlepage."

"I!-Tell me that I shall think well of Ursula Malbone, the girl that I almost worship! Think well of her whom I now love with an intensity that I did not imagine was possible, three months since! Think well of her who fills all my waking, and not a few of my sleeping thoughts-of whom I dream-to whom I am betrothed-who has heard my vows with favor, and has cheerfully promised, all parties that are interested consenting, to become at some early day my wife!"

Old Andries heard my energetic exclamation with astonishment; and even the Indian turned his head to look on me with a gratified attention. Perceiving that I had gone so far, under an impulse I had found irresistible, I felt the necessity of being still more explicit, and of communicating all I had to say on the subject.

"Yes," I added, grasping old Andries by the hand-"Yes, Chainbearer, I shall comply with your often-expressed wishes. Again and again have you recommended your lovely niece to me as a wife, and I come now to take you at your word, and to say that nothing will make me so happy as to be able to call you uncle."

To my surprise, Chainbearer expressed no delight at this announcement. I remarked that he had said nothing to me on his favorite old subject of my marrying his niece, since my arrival at the Nest; and now, when I was not only so ready, but so anxious to meet his wishes, I could plainly see that he drew back from my proposals, and wished they had not been made. Amazed, I waited for him to speak with a disappointment and uneasiness I cannot express.

"Mortaunt! Mortaunt!" at length broke out of the old man's very heart-"I wish to Heafen you hat nefer sait t'is! I lofe you, poy, almost as much as I lofe Dus, herself; put it griefs me-it griefs me to hear you talk of marryin' t'e gal!"

"You grieve, as much as you astonish me, Chainbearer, by making such a remark! How often have you, yourself, expressed to me the wish that I might become acquainted with your niece, and love her, and marry her! Now, when I have seen her-when I have become acquainted with her-when I love her to my heart's core, and wish to make her my wife, you meet my proposals as if they were unworthy of you and yours!"

"Not so, lat-not so. Nut'in' would make me so happy as to see you t'e huspant of Dus, supposin' it coult come to pass, ant wrong pe tone to no one; put it cannot pe so. I tid talk as you say, ant a foolish, selfish, conceitet olt man I was for my pains. I wast t'en in t'e army, and we wast captains alike; ant I wast t'e senior captain, and might orter you apout, ant tid orter you apout; ant I wore an epaulette, like any ot'er captain, and hat my grandfat'er's swort at my site, ant t'ought we wast equals, ant t'at it wast an honor to marry my niece; put all t'is was changet, lat, when I came into t'e woots ag'in, ant took up my chain, ant pegan to lif, ant to work, ant to feel poor, ant to see myself as I am. No-no-Mortaunt Littlepage, t'e owner of Ravensnest, ant t'e heir of Mooseritge, ant of Satanstoe, ant of Lilacsbush, ant of all t'e fine houses, ant stores, ant farms t'at are in York ant up ant town t'e country, is not a suitaple match for Dus Malbone!"

"This is so extraordinary a notion for you to take up, Chainbearer, and so totally opposed to all I have ever before heard from you on the subject, that I must be permitted to ask where you got it?"

"From Dus Malbone, herself-yes, from her own mout', ant in her own pretty manner of speech."

"Has, then, the probability of my ever offering to your niece been a subject of conversation between you?"

"T'at hast it-t'at hast it, ant time ant ag'in, too. Sit town on t'at log of woot, ant listen to what I haf to say, ant I will tell you t'e whole story. Susquesus, you neetn't go off into t'at corner, like a gentleman as you pe; t'ough it is only an Injin gentleman; for I haf no secrets from such a frient as yourself. Come pack, t'en, Injin, ant take your olt place, close at my site, where you haf so often peen when t'e inemy wast chargin' us poltly in front." Sureflint quietly did as desired, while Chainbearer turned toward me and continued the discourse. "You wilt see, Mortaunt, poy, t'ese here are t'e fery facts ant trut' of t'e case. When I came first from camp, ant I wast full of t'e prite, ant aut'ority, ant feelin's of a soltier, I pegan to talk to Dus apout you, as I hat peen accustomed to talk to you apout Dus. Ant I tolt her what a fine, bolt, hantsome, generous, well-principlet young fellow you wast"-the reader will overlook my repeating that to which the partiality of the Chainbearer so readily gave utterance-"ant I tolt her of your sarfice in t'e wars, ant of your wit, ant how you mate us all laugh, t'ough we might pe marchin' into pattle, ant what a fat'er you hat, ant what a grantfat'er, ant all t'at a goot ant a warm frient ought to say of anot'er, when it wast true, ant when it wast tolt to a hantsome ant heart-whole young woman t'at he wishet to fall in love wit' t'at fery same frient. Well, I tolt t'is to Dus, not once, Mortaunt; nor twice; put twenty times, you may depent on it."

"Which makes me the more curious to hear what Dus could or did say in reply."

"It's t'at reply, lat, t'at makes all t'e present tifficulty petween us. For a long time Dus sait little or not'in'. Sometimes she woult look saucy ant laugh-ant you know, lat, t'e gal can do bot' of t'em t'ings as well as most young women. Sometimes she woult pegin to sing a song, all about fait'less young men, perhaps, and proken-hearted virgins. Som

etimes she woult look sorrowful, ant I coult fint tears startin' in her eyes; ant t'en I pecome as soft ant feeple-hearted as a gal, myself, to see one who smiles so easily mate to shet tears."

"But how did all this end? What can possibly have occurred, to cause this great change in your own wishes?"

"Tis not so much my wishes t'at be changet, Mortaunt, ast my opinion. If a poty coult haf t'ings just as he wishet, lat, Dus ant you shoult pe man ant wife, so far as it tepentet on me, pefore t'e week ist out. Put, we are not our own masters, nor t'e masters of what ist to happen to our nephews and nieces, any more t'an we are masters of what ist to happen to ourselves. Put, I wilt tell you just how it happenet. One tay, as I wast talking to t'e gal in t'e olt way, she listenet to all I hat to say more seriously t'an ast common, ant when she answeret, it wast much in t'is manner: 'I t'ank you from t'e pottom of my heart, uncle Chainpearer,' she sait, 'not only for all t'at you haf tone for me, t'e orphan da'ghter of your sister, put for all you wish in my pehalf. I perceive t'at t'is itee of my marryin' your young frient, Mr. Mortaunt Littlepage, hast a strong holt on your feelin's, ant it ist time to talk seriously on t'at supject. When you associatet with t'at young gentleman, uncle Chainpearer, you wast Captain Coejemans, of t'e New York State line, ant his senior officer, ant it was nat'ral to s'pose your niece fit to pecome his wife. Put it ist our tuty to look at what we now are, ant are likely to remain. Major Littlepage hast a fat'er ant a mot'er, I haf he'rt you say, uncle Chainpearer, ant sisters, too; now marriage ist a most serious t'ing. It ist to last for life, ant no one shoult form sich a connection wit'out reflectin' on all its pearin's. It ist hartly possiple t'at people in t'e prosperity ant happiness of t'ese Littlepages woult wish to see an only son, ant t'e heir of t'eir name ant estates, takin' for a wife a gal out of t'e woots; one t'at is not only a chainpearer's niece, put who hast peen a chainpearer herself, ant who can pring into t'eir family no one t'ing to compensate 'em for t'e sacrifice.'"

"And you had the heart to be quiet, Andries, and let Ursula say all this?"

"Ah! lat, how coult I help it? You woult have tone it yourself, Mortaunt, coult you haf he'rt how prettily she turnet her periots, as I hef he'rt you call it, and how efery syllaple she sait come from t'e heart. T'en t'e face of t'e gal wast enough to convince me t'at she wast right; she looket so 'arnest, ant sat, ant peautiful, Mortaunt! No, no; when an itee comes into t'e mint, wit' t'e ait of sich worts and looks, my poy, 'tis not an easy matter to get rit of it."

"You do not seriously mean to say, Chainbearer, that you will refuse me Dus?"

"Dus will do t'at herself, lat; for she ist still a chainpearer's niece, ant you are still General Littlepage's son ant heir. Try her, ant see what she wilt say."

"But I have tried her, as you call it; have told her of my love; have offered her my hand, and--"

"Ant what?"

"Why, she does not answer me as you say she answered you."

"Hast t'e gal sait she woult haf you, Mortaunt? Hast she said yes?"

"Conditionally she has. If my grandmother cheerfully consent, and my parents do the same; and my sister Kettletas and her husband, and my laughing, merry Kate, then Dus will accept me."

"T'is ist strange! Ah! I see how it is; t'e gal has seen you, and peen much wit' you, ant talket wit' you, ant sung wit' you, ant laughet wit' you; ant I s'pose, a'ter all, t'at will make a tifference in her judgment of you. I'm a patchelor, Mortaunt, ant haf no wife, nor any sweetheart, put it ist easy enough to comprehent how all t'ese matters must make a fery great tifference. I'm glat, howsefer, t'at t'e tifference is not so great as to make t'e gal forget all your frients; for if efery poty consents, ant is cheerful, why t'en my pein' a chainbearer, and Dus pein' so poor ant forsaken like, will not pe so likely to be rememperet hereafter, and bring you pitter t'oughts."

"Andries Coejemans, I swear to you, I would rather become your nephew at this moment, than become the son-in-law of Washington himself, had he a daughter."

"T'at means you'd rat'er haf Dus, t'an any ot'er gal of your acquaintance. T'at's nat'ral enough, and may make me look like his excellency, for a time, in your eyes; put when you come to t'ink and feel more coolly, my tear poy, t'ere ist t'e tanger t'at you wilt see some tifference petween t'e captain-general and commanter-in-chief of all t'e American armies, and a poor chainpearer, who in his pest tays was nut'in' more t'an a captain in t'e New York line. I know you lofe me, Mortaunt; put t'ere ist tanger t'at it might not pe exactly an uncle and nephew's love in t'e long run. I am only a poor Tutchman, when all is sait, wit'out much etication, ant wit' no money, ant not much more manners; while you've peen to college, and pe college l'arn't, ant pe as gay ant gallant a spark as can pe fount in t'e States, as we call t'e olt colonies now. Wast you a Yankee, Mortaunt, I'd see you marriet, and unmarriet twenty times, pefore I'd own as much as t'is; put a man may pe sensible of his ignorance, ant pat etication, and weaknesses, wit'out wishin' to pe tolt of it to his face, and laughed at apout it, py efery A B C scholar t'at comes out of New Englant. No, no-I'm a poor Tutchman, I know; ant a poty may say as much to a frient, when he woult tie pefore he woult own t'ere wast any t'ing poor apout it to an inimy."

"I would gladly pursue this discourse, Andries, and bring it to a happy termination," I answered; "but here come the squatters in a body, and I suppose some movement or proposal is in the wind. We will defer our matter, then; you remembering that I agree to none of your opinions or decisions. Dus is to be mine, if indeed we can protect her against the grasp of these wretches. I have something to say on that subject, too; but this is not the moment to utter it."

Chainbearer seized my hand, and gave it a friendly pressure, which terminated the discourse. On the subject of the intentions of Thousandacres toward Dus, I was now not altogether free from uneasiness; though the tumult of rapturous feeling through which I had just passed drove it temporarily from my mind. I had no apprehensions that Ursula Malbone would ever be induced, by ordinary means, to become the wife of Zephaniah; but I trembled as to what might be the influence of menaces against her uncle and myself. Nor was I altogether easy on the score of the carrying out of those menaces. It often happens with crime, as in the commission of ordinary sins, that men are impelled by circumstances, which drive them to deeds from which they would have recoiled in horror, had the consummation been directly presented to their minds, without the intervention of any mediate causes. But the crisis was evidently approaching, and I waited with as much calmness as I could assume for its development. As for Chainbearer, being still ignorant of the conversation I had overheard in the mill, he had no apprehensions of evil from the source of my greatest dread.

The day had advanced, all this time, and the sun had set, and night was close upon us, as Tobit and his brethren came to the door of our prison, and called upon Chainbearer and myself to come forth, leaving Susquesus behind. We obeyed with alacrity; for there was a species of liberty in being outside of those logs, with my limbs unfettered, though a vigilant watch was kept over us both. On each side of me walked an armed man, and Chainbearer was honored with a similar guard. For all this, old Andries cared but little. He knew and I knew that the time could not be very distant when we might expect to hear from Frank Malbone; and every minute that went by added to our confidence in this respect.

We were about half-way between the storehouse and the dwelling of Thousandacres, toward which our steps were directed, when Andries suddenly stopped, and asked leave to say a word to me in private. Tobit was at a loss how to take this request; but, there being an evident desire to keep on reasonably good terms with Chainbearer, after a short pause he consented to form an extended ring with his brothers, leaving me and my old friend in its centre.

"I'll tell you what I t'ink atvisaple in t'is matter," commenced Andries, in a sort of whisper. "It cannot pe long afore Malpone will be pack wit' t'e posse ant constaples, ant so fort'; now, if we tell t'ese rapscallions t'at we want taylight to meet our inimies in, ant t'at we haf no stomach for nightwork, perhaps t'ey'll carry us pack to jail, ant so gif more time to Frank to get here."

"It will be much better, Chainbearer, to prolong our interview with these squatters, so that you and I may be at large, or at least not shut up in the storehouse, when Malbone makes his appearance. In the confusion we may even escape and join our friends, which will be a thousand times better than to be found within four walls."

Andries nodded his head, in sign of acquiescence, and thenceforth he seemed to aim at drawing things out, in order to gain time, instead of bringing them to a speedy conclusion. As soon as our discourse was ended, the young men closed round us again, and we moved on in a body.

Darkness being so close upon us, Thousandacres had determined to hold his court, this time, within the house, having a care to a sufficient watchfulness about the door. There is little variation in the internal distribution of the room of what may be called an American cottage. About two-thirds of the space is given to the principal apartment, which contains the fireplace,[18] and is used for all the purposes of kitchen and sitting-room, while the rest of the building is partitioned into three several subdivisions. One of these subdivisions is commonly a small bedroom; another is the buttery, and the third holds the stairs, or ladders, by which to ascend to the loft, or to descend to the cellar. Such was the arrangement of the dwelling of Thousandacres, and such is the arrangement in thousands of other similar buildings throughout the land. The thriving husbandman is seldom long contented, however, with such narrow and humble accommodations; but the framed house, of two stories in height, and with five windows in front, usually soon succeeds this cottage, in his case. It is rare, indeed, that any American private edifice has more than five windows in front, the few exceptions which do exist to the rule being residences of mark, and the supernumerary windows are generally to be found in wings. Some of our old, solid, substantial, stone country houses occasionally stretch themselves out to eight or nine apertures of this sort, but they are rare. I cannot gossip here, however, about country houses and windows, when I have matters so grave before me to relate.

In the forest, and especially in the newer portions of New York, the evenings are apt to be cool, even in the warm months. That memorable night, I well remember, had a sharpness about it that threatened even a frost, and Prudence had lighted a fire on the yawning hearth of her rude chimney. By the cheerful blaze of that fire, which was renewed from time to time by dried brush, the American frontier substitute for the fagot, were the scenes I am about to mention enacted.

We found all the males, and several of the females, assembled in the large apartment of the building I have described, when Chainbearer and myself entered. The wife of Tobit, with one or two of the sisterhood, however, were absent; doubtless in attendance on Dus Lowiny, I remarked, stood quite near the fire, and the countenance of the girl seemed to me to be saddened and thoughtful. I trust I shall not be accused of being a coxcomb, if I add that the idea crossed my mind that the appearance and manners of a youth so much superior to those with whom she was accustomed to associate had made a slight impression on this girl's-I will not say heart, for imagination would be the better word-and had awakened sympathies that manifested themselves in her previous conduct; while the shade that was now cast across her brow came quite as much from the scene she had witnessed between myself and Dus, near the rock, as from seeing me again a prisoner. The friendship of this girl might still be of importance to me, and still more so to Ursula, and I will acknowledge that the apprehension of losing it was far from pleasant. I could only wait for the developments of time however, in order to reach any certainty on this, as well as on other most interesting topics.

Thousandacres had the civility to order us chairs, and we took our seats accordingly. On looking round the grave and attentive circle, I could trace no new signs of hostility; but, on the contrary, the countenances of all seemed more pacific than they were when we parted. I considered this as an omen that I and my friend should receive some propositions that tended toward peace. In this I was not mistaken; the first words that were uttered having that character.

"It's time this matter atween us, Chainbearer," commenced Thousandacres himself, "should be brought to suthin' like an eend. It keeps the b'ys from their lumberin', and upsets my whull family. I call myself a reasonable man; and be as ready to settle a difficulty on as accommodatin' tarms as any parson you'll find by lookin' up and down the land. Many is the difficulty that I've settled in my day; and I'm not too old to settle 'em now. Sometimes I've fit out, when I've fell in with an obstinate fellow; sometimes I've left it out to men; and sometimes I've settled matters myself. No man can say he ever know'd me refuse to hearken to reason, or know'd me to gi'n up a just cause, so long as there was a morsel of a chance to defend it. When overpowered by numbers, and look'd down by your accursed law, as you call it, I'll own that, once or twice in my time, when young and inexper'enced, I did get the worst of it; and so was obliged to sort o' run away. But use makes parfect. I've seen so much, by seventy odd, as to have l'arnt to take time by the forelock, and don't practyse delays in business. I look upon you, Chainbearer, as a man much like myself, reasonable, exper'enced, and willin' to accommodate. I see no great difficulty, therefore, in settlin' this matter on the spot, so as to have no more hard feelin's or hot words atween us. Sich be my notions; and I should like to hear your'n."

"Since you speak to me, T'ousantacres, in so polite and civil a manner, I'm reaty to hear you, ant to answer in t'e same temper," returned old Andries, his countenance losing much of the determined and angry expression with which he had taken his seat in the circle. "T'ere ist nuttin' t'at more pecomes a man t'an moteration; ant an olt man in partic'lar. I do not t'ink, however, t'at t'ere ist much resemplance petween you ant me, T'ousantacres, in any one t'ing, except it pe in olt age. We're pot' of us pretty well atvancet, ant haf reachet a time of life when it pehooves a man to examine ant reflect on t'e great trut's t'at are to pe fount in his piple. T'e piple ist a pook, Aaron, t'at ist not enough re't in t'e woots; t'ough Almighty Got hast all t'e same rights to t'e sacrifices ant worship of his creatures in t'e forest, as to t'e worship and sacrifices of his creatures in t'e settlements. I'm not a tellin' you t'is, T'ousantacres, py way of showin' off my own l'arnin'; for all I know on the supject, myself, I haf got from Dus, my niece, who ist as goot, ant as willin', ant as hanty in explainin' sich matters, as any tominie I ever talket wit'. I wish you would listen to her, yourself; you and Prutence; when I t'ink you woult allow t'at her tiscourse ist fery etifyin' ant improfin'. Now you seem in t'e right temper, ist a goot time to pe penefitet in t'at way; for t'ey tell me my niece ist here, ant at hant."

"She is; and I rej'ice that you have brought her name into the discourse so 'arly; as it was my design to mention it myself. I see we think alike about the young woman, Chainbearer, and trust and believe she'll be the means of reconciling all parties, and of making us good fri'nds. I've sent for the gal; and she'll soon be coming along, with Tobit's wife, who sets by her wonderfully already."

"Well, talkin' of wonterful t'ings, wonters wilt never cease, I do pelieve!" Chainbearer exclaimed, for he really believed that the family of the squatter was taken suddenly with a "religious turn," and that something like a conversion was about to occur. "Yes, yes; it ist so; we meet wit' wonters when we least expect 'em; and t'at it is t'at makes wonters so wonterful!"

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