MoboReader> Literature > The Chainbearer; Or, The Littlepage Manuscripts

   Chapter 42 No.42

The Chainbearer; Or, The Littlepage Manuscripts By James Fenimore Cooper Characters: 34070

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

"He knows the game; how true he keeps the wind!


-King Henry VI.

* * *

After an early breakfast, next morning, the signs of preparation for a start became very apparent in the family. Not only Miller, but his wife and daughter, intended to go down to "Little Neest," as the hamlet was almost invariably called in that fragment of the universe, in contradistinction to the "Neest" proper. I found afterward that this very circumstance was cited against me in the controversy, it being thought lèse-majesté for a private residence to monopolize the major of the proposition, while a hamlet had to put up with the minor; the latter, moreover, including two taverns, which are exclusively the property of the public, there being exclusiveness with the public as well as with aristocrats-more especially in all things that pertain to power or profit. As to the two last, even Joshua Brigham was much more of an aristocrat than I was myself. It must be admitted that the Americans are a humane population, for they are the only people who deem that bankruptcy gives a claim to public favor.[25]

As respects the two "Nests," had not so much more serious matter been in agitation, the precedence of the names might actually have been taken up as a question of moment. I have heard of a lawsuit in France, touching a name that has been illustrious in that country for a period so long as to extend beyond the reach of man-as, indeed, was apparent by the matter in controversy-and which name has obtained for itself a high place in the annals of even our own republic. I allude to the house of Grasse, which was seated, prior to the revolution, and may be still, at a place called Grasse, in the southern part of the kingdom, the town being almost as famous for the manufacture of pleasant things as the family for its exploits in arms. About a century since, the Marquis de Grasse is said to have had a procès with his neighbors of the place, to establish the fact whether the family gave its name to the town, or the town gave its name to the family. The marquis prevailed in the struggle, but greatly impaired his fortune in achieving that new victory. As my house, or its predecessor, was certainly erected and named while the site of Little Nest was still in the virgin forest, one would think its claims to the priority of possession beyond dispute; but such might not prove to be the case on a trial. There are two histories among us, as relates to both public and private things; the one being as nearly true as is usual, while the other is invariably the fruits of the human imagination. Everything depending so much on majorities, that soon gets to be the most authentic tradition which has the most believers; for, under the system of numbers, little regard is paid to superior advantages, knowledge, or investigation, all depending on three as against two, which makes one majority. I find a great deal of this spurious history is getting to be mixed up with the anti-rent controversy, facts coming out daily that long have lain dormant in the graves of the past. These facts affect the whole structure of the historical picture of the State and colony, leaving touches of black where the pencil had originally put in white, and placing the high lights where the shadows have before always been understood to be. In a word, men are telling the stories as best agrees with their present views, and not at all as they agree with the fact.

It was the intention of Tom Miller to give my uncle Ro and me a dearborn to ourselves, while he drove his wife, Kitty and a help, as far as the "Little Neest," in a two-horse vehicle that was better adapted to such a freight. Thus disposed of, then, we all left the place in company, just as the clock in the farm-house entry struck nine. I drove our horse myself; and mine he was, in fact, every hoof, vehicle and farming utensil on the Nest farm, being as much my property, under the old laws, as the hat on my head. It is true, the Millers had now been fifty years or more, nay, nearly sixty, in possession, and by the new mode of construction it is possible some may fancy that we had paid them wages so long for working the land, and for using the cattle and utensils, that the title, in a moral sense, had passed out of me, in order to pass into Tom Miller. If use begets a right, why not to a wagon and horse, as well as to a farm.

As we left the place I gazed wistfully toward the Nest House, in the hope of seeing the form of some one that I loved, at a window, on the lawn, or in the piazza. Not a soul appeared, however, and we trotted down the road a short distance in the rear of the other wagon, conversing on such things as came uppermost in our minds. The distance we had to go was about four miles, and the hour named for the commencement of the lecture, which was to be the great affair of the day, had been named at eleven. This caused us to be in no hurry, and I rather preferred to coincide with the animal I drove, and move very slowly, than hurry on, and arrive an hour or two sooner than was required. In consequence of this feeling on our part, Miller and his family were soon out of sight, it being their wish to obtain as much of the marvels of the day as was possible.

The road, of course, was perfectly well known to my uncle and myself; but, had it not been, there was no danger of missing our way, as we had only to follow the general direction of the broad valley through which it ran. Then Miller had considerately told us that we must pass two churches, or a church and a "meetin'-'us'," the spires of both of which were visible most of the way, answering for beacons. Referring to this term of "meeting-house," does it not furnish conclusive evidence, of itself, of the inconsistent folly of that wisest of all earthly beings, man? It was adopted in contradistinction from, and in direct opposition to, the supposed idolatrous association connected with the use of the word "church," at a time when certain sects would feel offended at hearing their places of worship thus styled; whereas, at the present day, those very sectarians are a little disposed to resent this exclusive appropriation of the proscribed word by the sects who have always adhered to it as offensively presuming, and, in a slight degree, "arisdogradic!" I am a little afraid that your out-and-outers in politics, religion, love of liberty, and other human excellences, are somewhat apt to make these circuits in their eccentric orbits, and to come out somewhere quite near the places from which they started.

The road between the Nest House and Little Nest, the hamlet, is rural, and quite as agreeable as is usually found in a part of the country that is without water-views or mountain scenery. Our New York landscapes are rarely, nay, never grand, as compared with the noble views one finds in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and the finer parts of Europe; but we have a vast many that want nothing but a finish to their artificial accessories to render them singularly agreeable. Such is the case with the principal vale of Ravensnest, which, at the very moment we were driving through it, struck my uncle and myself as presenting a picture of rural abundance, mingled with rural comfort, that one seldom sees in the old world, where the absence of enclosures, and the concentration of the dwellings in villages, leave the fields naked and with a desolate appearance, in spite of their high tillage and crops.

"This is an estate worth contending for, now," said my uncle, as we trotted slowly on, "although it has not hitherto been very productive to its owner. The first half-century of an American property of this sort rarely brings much to its proprietor beyond trouble and vexation."

"And after that time the tenant is to have it, pretty much at his own price, as a reward for his own labor!"

"What evidences are to be found, wherever the eye rests, of the selfishness of man, and his unfitness to be left to the unlimited control of his own affairs! In England they are quarrelling with the landlords, who do compose a real aristocracy, and make the laws, about the manner in which they protect themselves and the products of their estates; while here the true owner of the soil is struggling against the power of numbers, with the people, who are the only aristocrats we possess, in order to maintain his right of property in the simplest and most naked form! A common vice is at the bottom of both wrongs, and that is the vice of selfishness."

"But how are abuses like those of which we complain here-abuses of the most formidable character of any that can exist, since the oppressors are so many, and so totally irresponsible by their numbers-to be avoided, if you give the people the right of self-government?"

"God help the nation where self-government, in its literal sense, exists, Hugh! The term is conventional, and, properly viewed, means a government in which the source of authority is the body of the nation, and does not come from any other sovereign. When a people that has been properly educated by experience calmly selects its agents, and coolly sets to work to adopt a set of principles to form its fundamental law or constitution, the machine is on the right track, and will work well enough so long as it is kept there; but this running off, and altering the fundamental principles every time a political faction has need of recruits, is introducing tyranny in its worst form-a tyranny that is just as dangerous to real liberty as hypocrisy is to religion!"

We were now approaching St. Andrew's church and the rectory, with its glebe, the latter lying contiguous to the church-yard, or, as it is an Americanism to say, the "graveyard." There had been an evident improvement around the rectory since I had last seen it. Shrubbery had been planted, care was taken of the fences, the garden was neatly and well worked, the fields looked smooth, and everything denoted that it was "new lords and new laws." The last incumbent had been a whining, complaining, narrow-minded, selfish and lazy priest, the least estimable of all human characters, short of the commission of the actual and higher crimes; but his successor had the reputation of being a devout and real Christian-one who took delight in the duties of his holy office, and who served God because he loved him. I am fully aware how laborious is the life of a country priest, and how contracted and mean is the pittance he in common receives, and how much more he merits than he gets, if his reward were to be graduated by things here. But this picture, like every other, has its different sides, and occasionally men do certainly enter the church from motives as little as possible connected with those that ought to influence them.

"There is the wagon of Mr. Warren, at his door," observed my uncle, as we passed the rectory. "Can it be that he intends visiting the village also, on an occasion like this?"

"Nothing more probable, sir, if the character Patt has given of him be true," I answered. "She tells me he has been active in endeavoring to put down the covetous spirit that is getting uppermost in the town, and has even preached boldly, though generally, against the principles involved in the question. The other man, they say, goes for popularity, and preaches and prays with the anti-renters."

No more was said, but on we went, soon entering a large bit of wood, a part of the virgin forest. This wood, exceeding a thousand acres in extent, stretched down from the hills along some broken and otherwise little valuable land, and had been reserved from the axe to meet the wants of some future day. It was mine, therefore, in the fullest sense of the word; and, singular as it may seem, one of the grounds of accusation brought against me and my predecessors was that we had declined leasing it! Thus, on the one hand, we were abused for having leased our land, and, on the other, for not having leased it. The fact is, we, in common with other extensive landlords, are expected to use our property as much as possible for the particular benefit of other people, while those other people are expected to use their property as much as possible for their own particular benefit.

There was near a mile of forest to pass before we came out again in the open country, at about a mile and a half's distance from the hamlet. On our left this little forest did not extend more than a hundred rods, terminating at the edge of the rivulet-or creek, as the stream is erroneously called, and for no visible reason but the fact that it was only a hundred feet wide-which swept close under the broken ground mentioned at this point. On our right, however, the forest stretched away for more than a mile, until, indeed, it became lost and confounded with other portions of wood that had been reserved for the farms on which they grew. As is very usual in America, in cases where roads pass through a forest, a second growth had shot up on each side of this highway, which was fringed for the whole distance with large bushes of pine, hemlock, chestnut, and maple. In some places these bushes almost touched the track, while in others a large space was given. We were winding our way through this wood, and had nearly reached its centre, at a point where no house was visible-and no house, indeed, stood within half a mile of us-with the view in front and in rear limited to some six or eight rods in each direction by the young trees, when our ears were startled by a low, shrill, banditti-like whistle. I must confess that my feelings were anything but comfortable at that interruption, for I remembered the conversation of the previous night. I thought by the sudden jump of my uncle, and the manner he instinctively felt where he ought to have had a pistol, to meet such a crisis, that he believed himself already in the hands of the Philistines.

A half minute sufficed to tell us the truth. I had hardly stopped the horse, in order to look around me, when a line of men, all armed and disguised, issued in single file from the bushes, and drew up in the road, at right angles to its course. There were six of these "Injins," as they are called, and, indeed, call themselves, each carrying a rifle, horn, and pouch, and otherwise equipped for the field. The disguises were very simple, consisting of a sort of loose calico hunting-shirt and trowsers that completely concealed the person. The head was covered by a species of hood or mask, equally of calico, that was fitted with holes for the eyes, nose, and mouth, and which completed the disguise. There were no means of recognizing a man thus equipped, unless it might be by the stature, in cases in which the party was either unusually tall or unusually short. A middle-sized man was perfectly safe from recognition, so long as he did not speak and could keep his equipments. Those who did speak altered their voices, as we soon found, using a jargon that was intended to imitate the imperfect English of the native owners of the soil. Although neither of us had ever seen one of the gang before, we knew these disturbers of the public peace to be what in truth they were, the instant our eyes fell on them. One could not well be mistaken, indeed, under the circumstances in which we were placed; but the tomahawks that one or two carried, the manner of their march, and other pieces of mummery that they exhibited, would have told us the fact, had we met them even in another place.

My first impulse was to turn the wagon, and to endeavor to lash the lazy beast I drove into a run. Fortunately, before the attempt was made, I turned my head to see if there was room for such an exploit, and saw six others of these "Injins" drawn across the road behind us. It was now so obviously the wisest course to put the best face on the matter, that we walked the horse boldly up to the party in front, until he was stopped by one of the gang taking him by the bridle.

"Sago, sago," cried one who seemed to act as a chief, and whom I shall thus designate, speaking in his natural voice, though affecting an Indian pronunciation. "How do, how do?-where come from, eh?-where go, eh? What you say, too-up rent or down rent, eh?"

"Ve ist two Charmans," returned Uncle Ro, in his most desperate dialect, the absurdity of men who spoke the same language resorting to such similar means of deception tempting me sorely to laugh in the fellows' faces; "Ve ist two Charmans dat ist goin' to hear a man's sbeak about bayin rent, und to sell vatches. Might you buy a vatch, goot shentlemans?"

Although the fellows doubtless knew who we were, so far as our assumed characters went, and had probably been advised of our approach, this bait took, and there was a general jumping up and down, and a common pow-wowing among them, indicative of the pleasure such a proposal gave. In a minute the whole party were around us, with some eight or ten more, who appeared from the nearest bushes. We were

helped out of the wagon with a gentle violence that denoted their impatience. As a matter of course, I expected that all the trinkets and watches, which were of little value, fortunately, would immediately disappear; for who could doubt that men engaged in attempting to rob on so large a scale as these fellows were engaged in, would hesitate about doing a job on one a little more diminutive. I was mistaken, however; some sort of imperceptible discipline keeping those who were thus disposed, of whom there must have been some in such a party, in temporary order. The horse was left standing in the middle of the highway, right glad to take his rest, while we were shown the trunk of a fallen tree, near by, on which to place our box of wares. A dozen watches were presently in the hands of as many of these seeming savages, who manifested a good deal of admiration at their shining appearance. While this scene, which was half mummery and half nature, was in the course of enactment, the chief beckoned me to a seat on the further end of the tree, and, attended by one or two of his companions, he began to question me as follows:

"Mind, tell truth," he said, making no very expert actor in the way of imitation. "Dis 'Streak o' Lightning,'" laying his hand on his own breast, that I might not misconceive the person of the warrior who bore so eminent a title-"no good lie to him-know ebbery t'ing afore he ask, only ask for fun-what do here, eh?"

"Ve coomes to see der Injins und der beoples at der village, dat ve might sell our vatches."

"Dat all; sartain?-can call 'down rent,' eh?"

"Dat ist ferry easy; 'down rent, eh?'"

"Sartain Jarman, eh?-you no spy?-you no sent here by gubbernor, eh?-landlord no pay you, eh?"

"Vhat might I spy? Dere ist nothin' to spy, but mans vid calico faces. Vhy been you afraid of der governor?-I dinks der governors be ferry goot frients of der anti-rents."

"Not when we act this way. Send horse, send foot a'ter us, den. T'ink good friend, too, when he dare."

"He be d-d!" bawled out one of the tribe, in as good, homely, rustic English as ever came out of the mouth of a clown. "If he's our friend, why did he send the artillery and horse down to Hudson?-and why has he had Big Thunder up afore his infarnal courts? He be d-d!"

There was no mistaking this outpouring of the feelings; and so "Streak o' Lightning" seemed to think too, for he whispered one of the tribe, who took the plain-speaking Injin by the arm and led him away, grumbling and growling, as the thunder mutters in the horizon after the storm has passed on. For myself, I made several profitable reflections concerning the inevitable fate of those who attempt to "serve God and Mammon." This anti-rentism is a question in which, so far as a governor is concerned, there is but one course to pursue, and that is to enforce the laws by suppressing violence, and leaving the parties to the covenants of leases to settle their differences in the courts, like the parties to any other contracts. It is a poor rule that will not work both ways. Many a landlord has made a hard bargain for himself; and I happen to know of one case in particular, in which a family has long been, and is still, kept out of the enjoyment of a very valuable estate, as to any benefit of importance, purely by the circumstance that a weak-minded possessor of the property fancied he was securing souls for paradise by letting his farms on leases for ninety-nine years, at nominal rents, with a covenant that the tenant should go twice to a particular church! Now, nothing is plainer than that it is a greater hardship to the citizen who is the owner of many farms so situated, than to the citizen who is the lessee of only one with a hard covenant; and, on general principles, the landlord in question would be most entitled to relief, since one man who suffers a good deal is more an object of true commiseration than many who suffer each a little. What would a governor be apt to say if my landlord should go with his complaints to the foot of the executive chair, and tell him that the very covenant which had led his predecessor into the mistake of thus wasting his means was openly disregarded; that farms worth many thousands of dollars had now been enjoyed by the tenants for near a century for mere nominal rents, and that the owner of the land in fee had occasion for his property, etc., etc.? Would the governor recommend legislative action in that case? Would the length of such leases induce him to recommend that no lease should exceed five years in duration? Would the landlords who should get up a corps of Injins to worry their tenants into an abandonment of their farms be the objects of commiseration?-and would the law slumber for years over their rebellions and depredations, until two or three murders aroused public indignation? Let them answer that know. As a landlord, I should be sorry to incur the ridicule that would attend even a public complaint of the hardships of such a case. A common sneer would send me to the courts for my remedy, if I had one, and the whole difference between the "if and ifs" of the two cases would be that a landlord gives but one vote, while his tenants may be legion.[26]

"He be d--d," muttered the plain-speaking Injin, as long as I could hear him. As soon as released from his presence, Streak o' Lightning continued his examination, though a little vexed at the undramatical character of the interruption.

"Sartain no spy, eh?-sartain gubbernor no send him, eh?-sartain come to sell watch, eh?"

"I coomes, as I tell ye, to see if vatches might be solt, und not for der gobbernor; I neffer might see der mans."

As all this was true, my conscience felt pretty easy on the score of whatever there might be equivocal about it.

"What folks think of Injin down below, eh?-what folks say of anti-rent, eh?-hear him talk about much?"

"Vell, soome does dink anti-rent ist goot, and soome does dink anti-rent ist bad. Dey dinks as they wishes."

Here a low whistle came down the road, or rather down the bushes, when every Injin started up; each man very fairly gave back the watch he was examining, and in less than half a minute we were alone on the log. This movement was so sudden that it left us in a little doubt as to the proper mode of proceeding. My uncle, however, coolly set about replacing his treasures in their box, while I went to the horse, which had shaken off his head-stall, and was quietly grazing along the road-side. A minute or two might have been thus occupied, when the trotting of a horse and the sound of wheels announced the near approach of one of those vehicles which have got to be almost national-a dearborn, or a one-horse wagon. As it came out from behind a screen of bushes formed by a curvature in the road, I saw that it contained the Rev. Mr. Warren and his sweet daughter.

The road being narrow, and our vehicle in its centre, it was not possible for the new-comers to proceed until we got out of the way, and the divine pulled up as soon as he reached the spot where we stood.

"Good morning, gentlemen," said Mr. Warren, cordially, and using a word that, in his mouth, I felt meant all it expressed. "Good morning, gentlemen. Are you playing Handel to the wood-nymphs, or reciting eclogues?"

"Neider, neider, Herr Pastor; we meet wid coostomers here, and dey has joost left us," answered uncle Ro, who certainly enacted his part with perfect aplomb, and the most admirable mimicry as to manner. "Guten tag, guten tag. Might der Herr Pastor been going to der village?"

"We are. I understand there is to be a meeting there of the misguided men called anti-renters, and that several of my parishioners are likely to be present. On such an occasion I conceive it to be my duty to go among my own particular people, and whisper a word of advice. Nothing can be farther from my notions of propriety than for a clergyman to be mingling and mixing himself up with political concerns in general, but this is a matter that touches morality, and the minister of God is neglectful of his duty who keeps aloof when a word of admonition might aid in preventing some wavering brother from the commission of a grievous sin. This last consideration has brought me out to a scene I could otherwise most heartily avoid."

This might be well enough, I said to myself, but what has your daughter to do in such a scene? Is the mind of Mary Warren then, after all, no better than vulgar minds in general?-and can she find a pleasure in the excitement of lectures of this cast, and in that of public meetings? No surer test can be found of cultivation, than the manner in which it almost intuitively shrinks from communion unnecessarily with tastes and principles below its own level; yet here was the girl with whom I was already half in love-and that was saying as little as could be said, too-actually going down to the "Little Nest" to hear an itinerant lecturer on political economy utter his crudities, and to see and be seen! I was grievously disappointed, and would at the moment have cheerfully yielded the best farm on my estate to have had the thing otherwise. My uncle must have had some similar notion, by the remark he made.

"Und doost das jung frau go to see the Injins, too; to bersuade 'em dey ist fery vicked?"

Mary's face had been a little pale for her, I thought, as the wagon drew up; but it immediately became scarlet. She even suffered her head to droop a little, and then I perceived that she cast an anxious and tender glance at her father. I cannot say whether this look were or were not intended for a silent appeal, unconsciously made; but the father, without even seeing it, acted as if he fancied it might be.

"No, no," he said, hurriedly; "this dear girl is doing violence to all her feelings but one, in venturing to such a place. Her filial piety has proved stronger than her fears and her tastes, and when she found that go I would, no argument of mine could persuade her to remain at home. I hope she will not repent it."

The color did not quit Mary's face, but she looked grateful at finding her true motives appreciated; and she even smiled, though she said nothing. My own feelings underwent another sudden revulsion. There was no want of those tastes and inclinations that can alone render a young woman attractive to any man of sentiment, but there was high moral feeling and natural affection enough to overcome them in a case in which she thought duty demanded the sacrifice! It was very little probable that anything would or could occur that day to render the presence of Mary Warren in the least necessary or useful; but it was very pleasant to me and very lovely in her to think otherwise, under the strong impulses of her filial attachment.

Another idea, however, and one far less pleasant, suggested itself to the minds of my uncle and myself, and almost at the same instant; it was this: the conversation was carried on in a high key, or loud enough to be heard at some little distance, the horse and part of the wagon interposing between the speakers; and there was the physical certainty that some of those whom we knew to be close at hand, in the bushes, must hear all that was said, and might take serious offense at it. Under this apprehension, therefore, my uncle directed me to remove our own vehicle as fast as possible, in order that the clergyman might pass. Mr. Warren, however, was in no hurry to do this, for he was utterly ignorant of the audience he had, and entertained that feeling toward us that men of liberal acquirements are apt to feel when they see others of similar educations reduced by fortune below their proper level. He was consequently desirous of manifesting his sympathy with us, and would not proceed, even after I had opened the way for him.

"It is a painful thing," continued Mr. Warren, "to find men mistaking their own cupidity for the workings of a love of liberty. To me nothing is more palpable than that this anti-rent movement is covetousness incited by the father of evil; yet you will find men among us who fancy they are aiding the cause of free institutions by joining in it, when, in truth, they are doing all they can to bring them into discredit, and to insure their certain downfall, in the end."

This was sufficiently awkward; for, by going near enough to give a warning in a low voice, and have that warning followed by a change in the discourse, we should be betraying ourselves, and might fall into serious danger. At the very moment the clergyman was thus speaking I saw the masked head of Streak o' Lightning appearing through an opening in some small pines that grew a little in the rear of the wagon, a position that enabled him to hear every syllable that was uttered. I was afraid to act myself, and trusted to the greater experience of my uncle.

Whether the last also saw the pretended chief was more than I knew, but he decided to let the conversation go on, rather leaning to the anti-rent side of the question, as the course that could do no serious evil, while it might secure our own safety. It is scarcely necessary to say all these considerations glanced through our minds so swiftly as to cause no very awkward or suspicious pause in the discourse.

"B'rhaps dey doosn't like to bay rent?" put in my uncle, with a roughness of manner that was in accordance with the roughness of the sentiment "Beoples might radder haf deir landts for nuttin', dan bay rents for dem."

"In that case, then, let them go and buy lands for themselves; if they do not wish to pay rent, why did they agree to pay rent?"

"May be dey changes deir minds. Vhat is goot to-day doosn't always seem goot to-morrow."

"That may be true; but we have no right to make others suffer for our own fickleness. I dare say, now, that it might be better for the whole community that so large a tract of land as that included in the Manor of Rensselaerwyck, for instance, and lying as it does in the very heart of the State, should be altogether in the hands of the occupants, than have it subject to the divided interest that actually exists; but it does not follow that a change is to be made by violence, or by fraudulent means. In either of the latter cases the injury done the community would be greater than if the present tenures were to exist a thousand years. I dare say much the larger portion of those farms can be bought off at a moderate advance on their actual money-value; and that is the way to get rid of the difficulty; not by bullying owners out of their property. If the State finds a political consideration of so much importance for getting rid of the tenures, let the State tax itself to do so, and make a liberal offer, in addition to what the tenants will offer, and I'll answer for it the landlords will not stand so much in their own way as to decline good prices."

"But maybes dey won't sell all der landts; dey may wants to keep some of dem."

"They have a right to say yes or no, while we have no right to juggle or legislate them out of their property. The Legislature of this State has quite lately been exhibiting one of the most pitiable sights the world has seen in my day. It has been struggling for months to find a way to get round the positive provisions of laws and constitutions, in order to make a sacrifice of the rights of a few, to secure the votes of the many."

"Votes ist a goot ding, at election dimes-haw, haw, haw!" exclaimed my uncle.

Mr. Warren looked both surprised and offended. The coarseness of manner that my uncle had assumed effected its object with the Injins, but it almost destroyed the divine's previous good opinion of our characters, and quite upset his notions of our refinement and principles. There was no time for explanations, however; for, just as my uncle's broad and well-acted "haw, haw, haw" was ended, a shrill whistle was heard in the bushes, and some forty or fifty of the Injins came whooping and leaping out from their cover, filling the road in all directions, immediately around the wagons.

Mary Warren uttered a little scream at this startling scene, and I saw her arm clinging to that of her father, by a sort of involuntary movement, as if she would protect him at all hazards. Then she seemed to rally, and from that instant her character assumed an energy, an earnestness, a spirit and an intrepidity that I had least expected in one so mild in aspect, and so really sweet in disposition.

All this was unnoticed by the Injins. They had their impulses, too, and the first thing they did was to assist Mr. Warren and his daughter to alight from the wagon. This was done not without decorum of manner, and certainly not without some regard to the holy office of one of the parties, and to the sex of the other. Nevertheless, it was done neatly and expeditiously, leaving us all, Mr. Warren and Mary, my uncle and myself, with a cluster of some fifty Injins around us, standing in the centre of the highway.

* * *

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top