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Title: The Frontiersmen
Author: Aimard, Gustave, 1818-1883
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Frontiersmen" ***

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D'Hooghe at http://www.freeliterature.org



THE FRONTIERSMEN

_A NOVEL_.

By GUSTAVE AIMARD

NEW YORK:

THE F.M. LUPTON PUBLISHING COMPANY,

Nos. 72-76 Walker Street.

1854



CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY.


In the year 1783, Western New York--or at least what was then deemed
Western New York--was an almost unbroken wilderness, scarcely known to
the inhabitants of the eastern and south-eastern portions of the State;
although the greater part of that large tract of territory then known as
Tryon County, was especially an unexplored country. It is true that
occasionally some adventurous pioneer had penetrated the wilderness, and
endeavored to form for himself and family a home, where, if he could not
enjoy the luxuries and comforts to be found in more populous sections,
he could at least be freed from many of the evils incident to the
growing settlements and cities. Some there were, who had not these
inducements, but, moved by a spirit of hardy enterprise, and with a love
for the excitements and dangers of a pioneer life, penetrated the
wilderness alone, with no companion but the rifle--a sure and steadfast
friend amidst the dangers which were certain to beset him.

Thus, an adventurous traveler, who perhaps fancied himself the first
white man who had ever toiled through the forests of this portion of the
State, would be surprised as he came upon the traces of civilization, in
a log hut, situated, perhaps, in the midst of a few acres of partially
cleared wilderness. When such happened to be the case, it would be no
occasion for wonder that the traveler and the _settler_ became at once
acquaintances and friends. The news from the settlements--inquiries for
friends, and political information, would gladly be exchanged for the
homely but welcome entertainment, which was at once provided.

At the period which we have chosen for our narrative, the County of
Tryon was inhabited by roving bands of Indians, mostly belonging to the
Six Nations. Some favorite localities were selected, which might be
deemed peculiarly the homes of these bands; although their roving
dispositions, the pursuit of game, or hostile encounters, would prevent
the permanent occupation of any one locality.

That portion of Tryon County with which the reader will become somewhat
acquainted in due course of this narrative, was more especially
inhabited by that division of the Iroquois, known as the Oneidas. But it
was not infrequent that bands belonging to other tribes of the
confederacy made incursions into this territory, in pursuit of game, and
occasionally on less peaceable missions.

It is well known that during the War of the Revolution, the different
tribes, composing the confederacy of the Six Nations, were divided in
their choice between England and the rebellious Colonies. The Oneidas,
and a part of the Tuscaroras and Mohawks, adhered to the Colonies, while
the other three nations of the confederacy were leagued with England,
under Col. Butler, and the notorious Johnson. It was under the former
officer that the Senecas, principally, aided by Tories, perpetrated the
Massacre of Wyoming. The Onondagas, at first, professed neutrality
between the belligerent parties; but as it was believed that they aided
in the more hostile operations of the Senecas, a detachment was sent
from Fort Stanwix, which destroyed their villages. This attack was
revenged by assaults upon the settlements of Schoharie and the western
borders of Ulster.

During the war, Tryon County contained a large number of Tories, who
were constantly inciting the Indians to acts of hostility against the
Colonies. But while they were successful with a large portion of the
Iroquois, they signally failed in all their attempts to abate the
fidelity of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras. This division in the councils of
the Six Nations, disturbed the amity which had previously existed
between the confederated tribes; and the bond which had so long united
them, was severed forever. More than once, were the Oneidas driven from
their villages, and compelled to seek protection from the whites; and
parties of the latter tribe, with a part of the Tuscaroras, actually
took up arms against their ancient brethren. It is said that the
notorious Col. Walter Butler was killed by an Oneida Chief, during his
flight after the battle of Johnstown.

At the time embraced by our narrative, it was not infrequent that
difficulties occurred between the separated parties of the confederacy,
and hostile encounters took place, which ended in bloodshed. Indeed, the
successful Colonies had not concluded any treaty of peace with the
Mohawks, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, until October, 1784. By that
treaty, those tribes consented to a release of prisoners, and also to a
cession of all their territory west of Pennsylvania.

The Six Nations, at the time of the Revolution, were considered the most
formidable of the Indian warriors to be found on the North American
Continent; and overtures were made to them, as well by the Congress of
the confederated Colonies, as by the English Government. The overtures
of the latter were made through Col. Guy Johnson--successor to Sir
William--and through the great influence he possessed over them, he was
able to induce them to take up arms against the peaceable and scattered
inhabitants of the frontier. The number of Indians of the Six Nations
who actually took up arms in favor of Great Britain, is estimated at
about 1200. The whole number of Indians, of all tribes, who were
employed by the British against the Colonies, was estimated by Captain
Dalton, (Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1783.) at 12,690.

The histories of the time, relate the terrible sufferings endured by the
inhabitants of Tryon County. The valleys of the Schoharie, the Mohawk
and the Susquehanna, were swept, year after year, by the Indians;
villages were burnt--and, without discrimination of age or sex, the
whites who were supposed to be favorable to the Colonial cause, were
massacred. These events gave rise to the expedition of Gen. Sullivan
into the Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca country, which was overrun and laid
waste; and it was hoped that the Indians, having lost their provisions
and stores, would cease their incursions upon the border settlements.
But all such hopes were vain; the depredations were renewed, and
continued until the end of the war. It is said by the author of the Life
of Brant, that "two years before the close of the war, one-third of the
population had gone over to the enemy--one-third had been driven from
the country, or were slain in battle, and by private assassination. And
yet among the inhabitants of the other remaining third, in June, 1783,
it was stated at a public meeting held at Fort Plain, that there were
three hundred widows and two thousand orphan children."

The country which is the immediate scene of the following narrative, was
little known in the time of the Revolution. The maps of the period
designated it as Indian country, and as an unexplored region. The
Tienaderack, or Unadilla River--one of the tributaries of the
Susquehanna--is given as the western boundary of the whites, beyond
which are the villages and hunting-grounds of the Oneidas and
Tuscaroras. It is into this unexplored region that we propose to conduct
the reader. We cannot promise a strict fidelity to truth, in the precise
incidents related in our narrative, but they have kindred features in
narratives related by the ancient settlers of this valley. There are
traditions, well authenticated, which might give rise to many of the
incidents. With this general view of the condition of Tryon County, at
the time of the Revolution, we will conduct the reader to that portion
of it in which we are more immediately interested.



CHAPTER II.


   "Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
    Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
    More free from peril than the envious court?
    Here feel we but the penalty of Adam--
    The season's difference."
                                        AS YOU LIKE IT.


It was, then, in the early part of the month of October, 1783, that two
travelers might have been seen, leisurely wending their way, on foot,
southwardly, along a somewhat narrow valley, through which flowed a
rapid but attractive river. That part of the valley which was now in
their view, was not more than half a mile in breadth. On the west, the
hills were low, and presented no peculiar attraction to the eye. On the
east, however, they attained a loftier height, and, in the golden
sunshine which fell from the autumn sky, excited the surprise and
admiration of our travelers. From the position they occupied, they could
trace the course of the valley for some six or seven miles, among the
hills, which became bolder and loftier, until it was lost in a sudden
turn to the westward. The river, along whose banks they had traveled for
some ten or twelve miles, was here from four to six rods in width; and,
as we have before observed, was attractive by the rapidity of its
current and the frequent but graceful curves in which it pursued its
course. The Indian name, which this river now bears, implies "the
Pleasant River."

The forest about them exhibited much variety of vegetation; and among
the trees which they observed, they saw fine specimens of the pine,
which towered above the surrounding forest, in the graceful superiority
of foliage and beauty. The maple, hemlock, beech, birch, walnut, and
chestnut, were abundant. It was at just the season of the year when the
leaf of the maple wears its choicest hue of red; and the beech and
chestnut assume their "sere and yellow." Blending with these varieties,
the unfading richness of the evergreen, it would excite no wonder, that
the younger of our travelers, at least, beheld with admiration the
gorgeous drapery which, in this climate, the forest assumes, preparatory
to the desolation of winter.

The younger of the two persons to whom we have called the attention of
the reader, might have been twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age. Of
middle stature, he exhibited a frame of much symmetry and power; and it
was apparent that he had been inured to labors which had fully
developed health and strength. His face was somewhat embrowned by
exposure to the weather; but his active and intelligent eyes, the firm
compression of his lips, and the ready play of his countenance, as he
listened to or answered some remark of his companion, made it apparent
that he had at least bestowed some labor upon the cultivation of his
mind; for inward discipline and culture always have their effect upon
the outward bearing. Besides this, there was in his countenance an
evidence of sincerity of purpose, which if it pursues but one path to
attain its end, and that frequently an _uncomfortable_ one, always
triumphs over temporary difficulties. Ralph Weston--for that is the name
of the young traveler--was ever honorable and upright, even where
worldly "prudence" would have admitted of a slight departure from the
rigid rules of propriety. He was not of that modern school, which makes
_expediency_ the touchstone of morality of conduct; but he always
disclaimed the artifices to which men too frequently resort to hide the
practices which are well enough in themselves, but which happen to
contravene popular opinions or customs. But, with this serious turn of
mind, he possessed a romantic disposition, which frequently led him into
acts that excited the surprise of more sedate or less romantic
acquaintances; but with no art, save a frank disposition, and a heart of
sympathy and friendship, Ralph Weston always found "troops of friends"
to whom he was little less than what we propose to make of him--a hero.

Ralph Weston, then, as might be readily supposed, in the dark hours when
the Colonies were struggling for life, embarked his hopes and fortunes
in the cause of his country. At the age of eighteen, he volunteered as a
private soldier, and after serving a short time in this humble capacity,
he had risen in rank, until at the close of the war, he held the
commission of a captain. His maternal aunt (for he had neither father
nor mother, both having died in his infancy) always insisted that he
should have been a general, at least; and perhaps, if merit were always
the true test of advancement, he would have attained a much higher rank.
But while he was always foremost in danger, he was ever a laggard in the
ranks of those who press eagerly forward for the spoils of victory, or
the honors which are more often worn than deserved. But we will suffer
the reader to become more intimately acquainted with him as we proceed
in our history.

His traveling companion, however, cannot be dismissed without notice;
for Ichabod Jenkins (familiarly called "Ike," by his too-presuming
acquaintances) had no small idea of his own importance. At the time when
he appears before us, he cannot be less than forty-seven or eight years
of age; when standing erect, he is full six feet two in stockings; but
as he generally appears in locomotion, you would make his height at
about five feet ten. His frame was not, apparently, robust, and a
stranger would have been surprised at any great indication of strength
on his part; yet few in the neighborhood of his residence, on any public
occasion, when feats of agility or strength were undertaken, would have
dared to match him in any game where these qualities were necessary. Yet
this was the least of Ichabod's merits, if his own judgment could be
trusted.

In his earlier days, a long struggle had taken place in his mind between
the love of wealth and literary pursuits. He recognized the distinctive
antipathy between these two mistresses; yet neither of them had ever
acquired a complete victory over the other; so he had compromised
between them by uniting a course of such reading as could then be
attained in general literature, with a strong speculative disposition,
which desired to leap at once, and by one bound, from rags into purple.
Now, it must be confessed, that Ichabod had succeeded about as well in
one pursuit as in the other--and to which of his mistresses to attribute
his ill success, he did not know. He had read Mrs. Bradstreet's poems,
who, in her day, was styled "the mirror of her age and the glory of her
sex"--he had much admired the poetry of George Wolcott, but he was
completely intoxicated with the "Simple Cobbler of Agawam," by Nathanial
Ward, although he did not adopt its fanatical sentiments; the
Revolutionary poets he had by heart, and for the reputation of Freneau,
he would have abandoned the fame of Shakespeare, had he possessed the
power of choice. He had at one time secluded himself from all of his
acquaintances for a month or two; and at last, when he emerged from his
solitude, he was seen with a quantity of manuscript, which he read to
his most intimate friends with exceedingly rhapsodical gestures. It was
even thought that this manuscript had been offered to some publisher,
but as its contents whatever they were, never appeared in print, it was
well understood that it had been rejected. It is certain, that from this
time he abandoned all ideas of winning a literary reputation, and set
earnestly to work to win the fortune of which he had so long been
dreaming. But Ichabod, with an innate love for the jingle of rhyme,
could, even at this day, repeat enough of the lyrical poetry of the
country to endanger the patience and temper of his warmest friend.

After attempting, at Boston, many schemes for the sudden acquisition of
wealth, which had all resulted in failure, he had, some time previous to
the war, shaken off the dust of the (to him) unprosperous city, and
traveled westward in search of a more congenial spot, where the
resources of his mind could be developed.

He had _finally located_ at one of the frontier settlements in the State
of New York--a small, but growing place--and unencumbered by wife or
family, he fancied himself certain of success at last. He had at one
time taken a trip to the shores of Long Island Sound, for the purpose
of making inquiry as to the prospect of realizing anything from the
buried money of Capt. Kidd; but he returned somewhat poorer than he
left. One time, while wandering on the shore of a small creek, in his
own neighborhood, devising means for the expenditure of his wealth when
it should be obtained, he was suddenly arrested by the glitter of some
fine, shining particles, in the sand. Certain that he had at length
discovered a gold mine, the land was purchased by him on contract, at an
extravagant price, by turning out what little money and few valuables he
possessed. His mysterious appearance and conduct, attracted towards him
the attention of the whole settlement; it was whispered that he was
always out of his boarding-house at night, and that he invariably slept
a portion of the day. He had been heard, too, to hint, in a solemn
manner, of his taking up his residence at Boston or New York, and of
building half a dozen blocks of brick buildings, and living in a style
of splendor that should astonish his early acquaintances, who had always
enviously predicted that he would never amount to anything. The
consequence was, that after much managing and prying, Ichabod's mine was
discovered, and the whole settlement rushed--men, women and children--to
share his good fortune. Trespass suits followed thick and fast, and at
length it was discovered that the glittering particles which had been
gathered so eagerly, were worth just as much as the sand in which they
were imbedded, and no more. The result of this speculation was, that
Ichabod lost both his gold and his land, and the little money he had
previously possessed.

But nothing disheartened, other schemes filled his mind; and he was
always the surest of success, just as he was the most certain to be
unsuccessful. Ichabod was altogether too busy in his financial
operations to volunteer as a soldier during the Revolutionary War,
although he had cast around earnestly to ascertain if there was any way
by which he could make his business and patriotism harmonize together.
But while he had refused to sacrifice his chances of a fortune by taking
up arms as a soldier, to his credit be it said, that in the frequent
Indian incursions which had been made on the frontier settlements of New
York, he had zealously engaged in the plans of defense, and had won an
enviable notoriety as an Indian fighter. Always cool and calculating, he
never suffered himself to be surprised; and he came at last to be
dreaded by the Indians, as bearing a charmed life, which could not be
taken. More than one Seneca, who had escaped from his rifle, bore the
marks of his bullets; and his name was never mentioned by them but with
a look of hatred. This feeling was cordially reciprocated; and even a
lucky chance at a fortune could scarcely have deterred him from an
attack, even in a time of peace, upon an Onondaga, Cayuga, or Seneca.

But with the return of peace, all ideas of war had vanished, and he now
felt that it was necessary to make a desperate effort for the fortune
which had been so long delayed. But it was necessary to possess some
little capital; and with the view of laying the foundation for the
capital desired, he had embraced the opportunity of guiding Ralph Weston
on his journey, which was now nearly completed. He also had an idea
about a speculation which he wished to look after; but of that
hereafter.

Armed with a rifle, which had been his constant companion in his
encounters with the Indians, and with a hunting-knife which he wore in a
leathern belt, it would have been difficult for a stranger to have
pronounced his vocation. There was little in his figure or appearance
which would have indicated the habits of a borderer of the period, yet
one would scarcely have ventured to guess at any other calling or
profession.

His hair, which was long and straight, and originally of a brownish
color, had become grizzly, and flowed from under his cap without order
or regularity. His face was embrowned by long exposure to the extremes
of weather, while its expression had a rigidity that was scarcely ever
discomposed. His eyes were of a grayish cast, and seemed always to be on
the alert, to detect dangers that might threaten either his person, or
the mental treasures which were just ready to be coined.

The travelers journeyed in a sort of path, which had evidently been made
some time before, but which had been little used. Occasionally, a tree
that could not be avoided had been felled, and the stump wholly or
partially removed; and often the path was obstructed by the trunk of a
decayed tree, which had fallen from old age, or had been overthrown by
the violence of the winds.

"Well, Ichabod," said Ralph, after the travelers had paused a while to
survey the valley which now opened upon their view, "we must be near our
journey's end. From the indications you gave me, we cannot be more than
a mile distant, at farthest."

"I should say not, Captain," replied Ichabod; "I was never hereabouts
but once before, and then I reckon we made something of a spec in the
way of Injins. The varmints! but they are a long way off now, I reckon."

"I have never heard," said Ralph, "that any battles of consequence were
fought in this section of the State. This region is too distant from the
settlements, and too much of a wilderness, to have been the scene of any
important conflict."

"I can't say, Captain, how important it may or mayn't have been to the
country at large; but this I _do_ calculate, that it was mighty
important to them that had the fighting on't. Three Injins to one man,
sartin; and they fought like devils, as they were, confound 'em! Why,
Captain, if you'll believe it, one of them red rascals and I ra'ally had
a pitched battle for the ownership of this here companion of mine,"
pointing to his rifle; "but we taught the cussed red-skins better
manners. We don't part company so easy;" and Ichabod grasped his rifle
with a still firmer hand; and then half said and half sung, from the old
ballad of "Lovewell's fight,"

  "'For, as we are informed,
      So thick and fast they fell,
    Scarce twenty of their number
      At night did get home well.'"

"I supposed," said Ralph, "that this country, through which we are now
traveling, was in the possession of the friendly Oneidas and
Tuscaroras?"

"Yes, it was in their possession," answered Ichabod, "except when it was
overrun by those devils of Senecas or Onondagas and that was pretty
tolerably often. They got lots of scalps, sometimes, and sometimes they
lost their own. The Tryon County boys, when they had a fair chance at
'em, always paid 'em off with interest. As the poet said:

  "'Come all you Tryon County men,
      And never be dismayed;
    But trust sincerely in the Lord,
      And He will be your aid.'"

"But, as I ginerally found, they had to trust a good deal to their
rifles."

"I had heard of the sufferings of the people at the settlements," said
Ralph, "and knew the fact that many sharp battles, which are little
known in the general history of the war, occurred; but I supposed they
were confined to the immediate neighborhood of the settlements."

"Why, you see, Captain, if we got the start of 'em at the settlements,
we weren't such fools as to let 'em go without a taste of our pluck; and
it was on one of them occasions that I was down here. But I say,
Captain," exclaimed he, as he approached a sudden bend in the river,
where there was a much more than usual current, "what d'ye think of the
chance of setting up a woolen factory down here, on this creek?"

Amused with the turn Ichabod had given to the conversation, Ralph
suggested that it might possibly be a profitable investment, provided he
could induce the Indians to become customers to his establishment, and
provided the requisite staples for the manufacture could be obtained.
Nothing daunted by the suggestion of obstacles, Ichabod proceeded to
explain to Ralph how a rapid fortune, in that line, could be
accumulated.

"Now s'pose, Captain, that we buy of these Oneidas and Tuscaroras a
water-privilege. Well, that's done. Then we'll put up a building. Plenty
of materials, you see, all around here; and we can get the machinery at
New York, or send for a good hand, and make it ourselves. Then, as you
say, we shall have to get the wool; and after it's manufactured, we
shall have to sell it. But why can't we raise sheep here? We can get a
small stock at the settlement, and what with them and the increase, we
shan't have any lack of wool: and for a market, haven't we got the whole
country? But you'll say, Captain, that the foreign importations will
ruins us? Well, that _is_ a difficulty; but it can't last, Captain; it
won't last. We'll conquer them foreign fellows in that business, yet, as
we did in the other. But I think we can, any way, get up a good-enough
home market among these Injins. I'll have a talk with 'em about it." And
we shall see that he did, on a subsequent occasion, faithfully perform
his promise.

But we will not follow the worthy Ichabod in his calculations upon the
profits of his speculation. He had scarcely reached the middle of his
figurings upon the profits to be realized from a thousand sheep, when
Ralph, who was wearied, yet amused, by the earnestness of his companion,
exclaimed:

"Arrived at last!"

They had now approached near the northeastern shore of a small lake or
pond, which lay buried in the valley, completely surrounded by the
forest. Its eastern shore was about fifty rods from the river; and so
far as they could observe, it had neither inlet nor outlet. It was of an
almost perfect oval form, having on the eastern and a portion of the
southern shore a bluff of fifteen or twenty feet in height; but on the
southwest, the land gradually receded in an upward slope, into a hill of
fifty or sixty feet in height, while, towards the northwest, the land
rose sharply from the water's edge to an elevation of eighty or a
hundred feet. The northern shore seemed to be flat and marshy, and had
the appearance of having, at one time, been covered with the waters of
the pond. As we have said, it was of nearly an oval form, and was about
one hundred rods across, from east to west, while from north to south
the distance was still greater. The water was calm and clear, and
reflected, with the brightness and truthfulness of a mirror, the forms
of the trees which stood upon its western shore. Even Ichabod awoke from
his speculative dreams, and admired, with Ralph, the still and quiet
beauty of the scene.

Upon the brow of the hill which we have described on the southwestern
shore of the pond, in a clearing of few acres in extent, stood a
cottage, not much different from the general style of cottages, as they
were then built by the pioneers of the wilderness. Yet, in the distance
which intervened between it and our travelers, and in the calmness and
clearness of the day, which had now nearly reached its close, the
cottage possessed charms, in their eyes, which its intrinsic beauties,
either in situation or construction, did not perhaps merit. So far as
Ralph was concerned, perhaps, there were other reasons to lend it a
charm, beyond the beauty of the landscape or the golden rays thrown upon
it by the setting sun.

While they were yet observing it, with very different emotions, it was
apparent from an unwonted excitement among its inhabitants, that their
arrival had been observed, and the figure of a stout-looking elderly
man, followed by a negro, could be seen advancing towards them. But we
must leave the meeting to be recorded in the next chapter.



CHAPTER III.


  "'Tis pleasant, through the loop-holes of retreat,
      To peep at such a world; to see the stir
    Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd;
      To hear the roar she sends, through all her gates,
    At a safe distance, where the dying sound
      Falls, a soft murmur, on the uninjured ear."
                                                      WILLIAM COWPER

The individual we have mentioned, who now came rapidly, towards Ralph,
was somewhat advanced in years--not less, perhaps, than sixty. Yet, in
his whole bearing and appearance could be seen the iron frame and
hardihood, which in these days have given place to a certain effeminacy
of manners. The hardy, robust race of men who cleared our forests, and
encountered cheerfully the sufferings and privations, and endured the
toil incident to a pioneer life, are passing away; and however much our
vanity may suffer in making the confession, their sons and successors
are apt to lack in those iron qualities which succeeded against
obstacles, the magnitude of which most of us do not appreciate.

The countenance of this individual exhibited tokens of the energy of
this now nearly departed class of men; yet upon it, at the same time,
glowed an expression of honesty and intelligence, which at once win the
heart and command confidence and respect. The frosts of time had but
lightly touched his hair, and at the first glance, one would have
guessed him at least ten years younger than he actually was.

Matthew Barton, for such was his name, about two years before the period
we have assigned for our narrative, had left one of the settlements at
the eastward, and removed with his family to this remote region. He had
been unfortunate in his pecuniary affairs, and his confidence had been
betrayed by a friend for whom he had incurred obligations nearly to the
amount of his small fortune. With the remains of his little property he
had removed to the west, advancing beyond the remotest dwelling in this
section of the State. He was satisfied that he had years of labor left
in him yet; and with a prudent foresight, he saw that a few years, at
most, would surround him with neighbors, who would be likely to follow
him to the fertile and beautiful valley he had selected. Suddenly,
perhaps, for one advanced to his age, and yielding partially to the
feelings of mortification he endured at the idea of struggling with
poverty among those who had seen him in a more prosperous condition, he
resolved upon this course, and it was at once adopted.

His wife had died a number of years before, leaving him but one child, a
daughter, who at this time had arrived at about twenty years of age. He
had purchased, with the remains of his property, a negro, to assist him
in his farming operations, and thus provided, we behold him in the new
house of his old age.

Ralph advanced rapidly forward to meet him, and hearty were the
greetings between them.

"Right glad am I to see you here, Ralph," said Barton, "yours is the
first friendly face I have seen from the settlements in many a day; and
I can say, too, that there is no other I would more gladly see. Oneidas
and Tuscaroras are well enough in their place, but it does one good to
see a little of the old eastern blood, once in a while."

The first greetings over, Ralph, with a blush--very faint indeed, but
still a blush--of which the old gentleman was entirely unconscious,
inquired about his old playmate, Ruth.

"Well and happy, Ralph--at least, as happy as one can be, so far from
friends; but she will be right glad to see you, I doubt not."

Ralph introduced Ichabod to Mr. Barton, as a worthy gentleman from the
settlements, who had been induced to accompany him through the
wilderness; and the party then proceeded towards the cottage, which, on
a nearer approach, if it lost some of the enchantments which distance
had lent it, gained on the score of adaptation to the purposes for which
it had been erected. It was situated in the midst of a few acres of land
which had been almost entirely cleared, and which showed abundant signs
of having already repaid, for the season, the labor which had been
bestowed upon it. A log barn had been erected, a short distance from the
house, and about the premises were seen the usual fixtures of a pioneer
habitation. The house itself was built of logs, but they had been hewn
and squared with some care; and, altogether, it had the appearance of a
neat and comfortable residence. It had, also, with a foresight against
contingencies which might occur, been adapted as a place of defense
against any attacks which might be made upon it by Indians.

"Stir your shanks, Sambo!" said Barton to the negro, "and inform your
mistress that she has visitors coming."

The negro hurried away on his errand, while the party proceeded more
leisurely towards the dwelling.

Ralph was welcomed by Miss Barton with all the warmth and pleasure that
might have been expected from their early friendship. Years had elapsed
since they had been separated, and, in the look of mutual joy and
pleased surprise at the changes which time had wrought in each other,
might be traced, perhaps, in both, the existence of a tenderer feeling
than belongs to mere friendship.

Ruth Barton, as we have already said, was about twenty years of age. In
figure, she was of the medium female height, but with a form fully
developed by healthful exercise; her countenance possessed a gentle
quietness, which was peculiarly feminine; but withal it gave evidence of
a confidence and self-reliance necessary to the women as well as to the
men of the frontier settlements of that period. She was, as her
appearance would indicate, the life of the family--always busy in the
labors and duties of the household; and, under her superintendence,
there were a regularity and neatness which, to the most fastidious of
housekeepers, might perhaps have been a little surprising. But these
were not the only qualifications which Ruth Barton possessed. She was
not satisfied with the mere routine of ordinary duties, but she had
found time to adorn her mind with many of the accomplishments of
education--far beyond most of those even, who were elevated above her by
the means and opportunity of acquiring a thorough education. Her mind
was of a somewhat imaginative cast, and she possessed a deep and quiet
love for the beauties of Nature. She loved her new home in the
wilderness--the beautiful valley which her father had selected,
possessed charms which she admired; and she had never wished to exchange
it, though solitary and neighborless, for the more populous country in
which she had once resided.

There was also present in the room an ill-clad, stout-looking man, by
the name of Guthrie, apparently about forty-five years of age. His
countenance had a vulgar cast; and it wore, besides, an ill-natured
expression, that repelled any attempt at an intimate acquaintance. This
Guthrie had, during the war of the Revolution, been a Tory; and it had
been suspected that he was one of the most active agents in inciting the
Indians of this locality to revolt. He resided at some distance below,
on the river, in a log shanty erected by him. He was a sort of squatter,
and tilled a few acres which had been partially cleared by the Indians
years before; but relied principally upon his gun and fish-pole for a
livelihood. Occasionally he went to the settlements with such skins or
other articles as he could exchange. He was merely tolerated in the
family of Mr. Barton, whenever he made his appearance; and knowing the
ill favor with which he was received, it was seldom that he intruded
himself upon them.

As the party entered the door, Guthrie, who had been sitting listlessly
by the fireside, arose with a sort of dogged air; but as the tall figure
of Ichabod met his eye, he shrank quietly back again, and endeavored, as
much as possible, to withdraw himself from observation. Ichabod did not
observe him, or, at least, exhibited no signs of recognition.

"We have been expecting you, Captain Weston, for some days," said Ruth;
"we learned by Guthrie, who came about a week ago from the settlements,
that you had returned from the army; and we have been awaiting the
fulfilment of an old promise to visit us."

"I left Philadelphia but a few weeks since," replied Ralph: "I was
mindful of my promise, and set out on my visit here as soon as my
business arrangements would allow; but I hardly think I should have
found my way here at all, had it not been for my friend, Mr. Jenkins. He
picked his way through your wilderness like an old acquaintance."

Ichabod acknowledged the attention which this remark attracted towards
him, by gradually elevating his form and replying:

"Well, these woods _are_ something like an old acquainance to me, seeing
as how I have been through here on some sharp war paths, afore now. It
was down yonder in them flats, we had a terrible skrimmage with them red
sarpints the Senecas and Onondagas; but we gave 'em a touch of
Independence, _con_-found 'em!"

"How long ago, Mr. Jenkins," asked Barton, "did the fight which you
mention occur?"

"Well, as near as I can calculate, I should think it was in the fall of
'79."

"That must have been the same affair which I have heard you mention,
Guthrie," said Barton, addressing that individual, who sat in the corner
of the large fireplace, with his hat drawn over his eyes.

"Yes," growled Guthrie, without moving.

"What! old veteran, was you there, too?" asked Ichabod, approaching him.

"No, I wan't there," replied Guthrie ferociously, partly turning his
face towards Ichabod.

"Well, you needn't be so savage about it, friend," said Ichabod, slowly.
"Them that fout there, so far as I know, hadn't nothing to be ashamed
on." Then turning away, he muttered to himself, "I've seen them features
afore, somewhere--down in the settlements, perhaps. But I say, Squire,"
turning towards Barton, "you've done a mighty smart business, clearing
up here, lately."

"Yes, something of a business. We have not been idle. Sambo and I have
got ten or fifteen acres pretty well cleared."

In the meantime, Ruth was busy making preparations for the family
supper, and providing otherwise for the comfort of their guests. Guthrie
took the opportunity quietly to leave the room, and with his rifle on
his shoulder, proceeded rapidly in a southerly direction.

The conversation then turned upon the political condition of the
country, the depreciated state of the currency, and the anticipated
proceedings of Congress.

"The greatest difficulty that lies in the way of a proper management
and settlement of our affairs," said Ralph, in reply to some remark of
Barton, "it seems to me, is in the limited powers of Congress. Impotent
for any purpose, it has a herculean task before it. I think it will be
found necessary to adopt a stronger government."

"No, no," replied Barton, who seemed to be tenacious of State rights,
and to labor under a great fear of the evil consequences of a
centralization of power. "Congress has power enough. The disorders under
which the country labors, would have been no less under any form of
government. Without resources, in a long and harassing war, the burden
of indebtedness and the depreciated condition of the currency, were
unavoidable; but all that will be necessary to restore us, will be a few
years of peace. Things will come round of themselves."

"But," said Ralph, "how is our indebtedness to be paid? The country is
already exhausted by taxation. The States themselves are overburdened
with their own debts: when to these are added those contracted by
Congress, it is very difficult, under the present order of things, to
see our way clearly out of our embarrassments. No credit in Europe--no
money at home--no confidence anywhere. With a few years of peace, had
Congress the power to levy impost duties, much might be done. Even the
late measure of a proposed impost duty of five per cent. has been lost
by the obstinacy of Rhode Island, which would not concur in the
measure."

"Say, the _patriotism_ of Rhode Island, rather," answered Barton, "if
that term may be applied to a State. I look upon that system of impost
duties as a direct robbery of the people. Give Congress that power, and
you give away the whole property of the nation. Duties would be laid
that would deprive the poorer classes of all the comforts--ay, of many
of the necessaries of life. That won't do."

"How, then," asked Ralph, "would you pay off our indebtedness, and
support the burthens of government?"

"By direct taxation!"

"But that system, you would find, I think," said Ralph, "would not
answer the purpose. It would only reach a certain class, and would be
very strongly resisted. But, by the other system, the trifling addition
to the cost of articles of general consumption would be little felt, and
after a time, would be generally acquiesced in. Besides, all classes of
persons would be reached, and almost universally in proportion to their
means."

"It is only a return to the principle of the stamp act," said Barton,
who was a little excited; "and our seven years of warfare and suffering
will have been useless, if, after all, we are to permit any authority,
in its discretion, to impose burdens upon us."

"I don't know about that, Squire," interrupted Ichabod, who had
listened to this discussion with much interest, and to whose mind the
factory speculation proposed to Ralph, recurred. "Wouldn't such a system
a little better allow us to take care of ourselves? Couldn't we a little
easier build up manufactories of our own? Just add that five or ten per
cent, to the profits of our own manufacturers, and pretty soon we'd hold
them _furrin_ manufacturers off at arm's length. You'd see factories of
all sorts starting up all over the country, and there would be a
pleasure in that, to a man who loved his own country--to wear cloth and
drive nails made at home. Now, couldn't _you_, Squire if a duty of ten
or fifteen per cent, was laid on woollen fixins', afford to go into the
factory business, on your own hook, on this river of your'n, here?"

"Fiddlesticks!" ejaculated Barton, "what could _I_ do in the factory
business?"

"Well, perhaps _you_ mightn't do anything at it, Squire," replied
Ichabod; "but somebody else might. Now, suppose somebody _should_ locate
a business of that kind down here, I'll tell you how you could make a
nice spec out of it, without laying out any capital at all--although it
would be kind'er fair to lend a helping hand, jist to start, perhaps,
seeing you could make so well out of it."

Barton looked at Ichabod, as if he began to doubt his sanity; but to
Ralph, the earnestness of the one and the surprise of the other, was a
matter of great amusement.

Ichabod continued, pleased at the surprised attention which Barton was
giving to him:

"You see, Squire, s'pose that business should be started down here, jist
opposite them flats, it would be necessary to bring in lots of people,
and you could lay out them flats into building-lots, and realize
something handsome out of it."

"Pshaw!" said Barton, "a city down here! Well, I'll tell you what I'll
do, Mr. Jenkins. I'll give you the land for your factory, together with
your water-privilege, and we'll divide the profits on the city lots;"
and the old gentleman laughed heartily at the suggestion.

"That's what I call fair," said Ichabod, slowly; "but _couldn't_ you,
Squire, do a little something towards furnishing the capital?"

"Furnishing the capital!" ejaculated Barton; "why, as to that, I haven't
capital enough to furnish my own farm, small as it is. No: I think, Mr.
Jenkins, I have made you a very fair offer."

Just at this moment, Sambo announced their supper to be ready, and
Ichabod was obliged to desist from the further prosecution of his
project. But, extremely well satisfied with the progress already made,
he began seriously to dream of the manufacturing firm of "Barton,
Weston, Jenkins & Co."



CHAPTER IV.

     _2d Fisherman_.--"Master, I marvel how the fishes live in the sea."

     _1st Fisherman_.--"Why, as men do on land--the great ones eat up
     the little ones."--PERICLES.

Ralph was now fairly installed as a member of the family of Mr. Barton.
He had found an opportunity, in the course of the evening of his
arrival, to exchange a few words of conversation with Ruth; and he was
now satisfied that the partiality with which, in former days, she had
regarded him, had not given place to indifference. The consciousness of
this fact amply repaid him for long years of absence, and led him to
look forward to such a future as only appears to the vision of those who
reason from the heart. The future, cold, impassable, dark, and filled
with mysterious dread, to him who has outlived the power of youthful
passion--to the young and the hopeful, is the unattained but attainable
region, where exist all the charms and raptures which can be bodied
forth by an ardent imagination. So different are the views of life which
can be made by a few active, busy years.

On the morning of the day after their arrival, Ralph and Ichabod,
accompanied by Barton, examined the farm and the improvements which had
been made by the energy of the latter. Some fifteen acres of forest had
already been cleared, and Sambo, on this morning, was engaged in still
farther invading the domains of the wilderness; and with his bare and
muscular arms was wielding the axe like a redoubtable soldier among a
multitude of enemies.

There is something pleasant to the eye in beholding the struggle of man
with the wilderness; to see old, mossy trees, that had stood for ages,
faithful guardians of the soil, whose long, leafy boughs and bushy
crowns, seemed to belong as much to the sky in which they waved and
nodded, as to the earth which sustained them, bow down their heavy heads
with a crash, that to the imaginative mind, seems, with its echoes, like
a mournful wail issuing from the surviving forest. As the tree falls,
the golden sunlight darts into a new and unexplored region, and the
melancholy forest abode recedes, as if pursued by an implacable enemy.
But it is a rescue of the earth from the long slumber of past time, and
an offering to the comforts and necessities of the future.

It is scarcely to be wondered at, that in earlier times, when the
imaginations of men overruled their powers of reason, the sombre,
melancholy forest abode was peopled with fanciful beings--children of
the shadow and of the forest--Fairies, Dryads, and Satyrs, with Arcadian
landscapes, and the good god Pan to preside over sylvan sports! But in
these days of utility, the reed of the shepherd and the music of the
sylvan gods are drowned in the clatter of saw-mills, and the hoarse song
of the woodchopper.

Ichabod, who had not forgotten the conversation of the previous evening,
endeavored, two or three times, to revive the project which on that
occasion he had proposed to Barton; but he was unsuccessful in his
attempts to renew the discussion. After a few hours thus spent, the
party returned to the cottage. Barton proposed, for the afternoon, a
fishing excursion upon the pond. "It is filled," said he, "with pickerel
and perch--both very delicious fish, and they are taken with the utmost
ease. This is just the season for them."

Ralph inquired if the streams contained any specimens of trout; and
Barton answered, "that the river contained some very fine specimens,
although they were not so numerous as in the smaller streams.
Occasionally we take pike, but they do not come so far up the river in
very large quantities. But," he continued, with a zeal that showed he
was not a stranger to the gentle art, "our brooks are filled--absolutely
filled--with trout. There is a stream, about a mile and a half west of
us, which comes from the northwest, through a wilderness, with which I
am almost wholly unacquainted, where they can be taken in great numbers.
In an hour, we can catch as many as it will be convenient to carry. If
you like, we will go over there to-morrow, or next day; but for to-day,
I am anxious to show you sport nearer by."

It was arranged, that in the afternoon the suggestion of Barton should
be followed; and hearing the latter giving some directions to Sambo,
which it will be unnecessary here to repeat, Ralph and Ichabod proceeded
leisurely towards the cottage.

"There is a charm, for me, about a life in the woods," said Ralph,
"which I cannot explain. Mingled with the idea of a nearer approach to
the Court of Nature, is that of separation from the passions and vices
of men in the world. One feels to exclaim with the Bard of Avon,

       "Is not this life more sweet
    Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
    More free from peril than the envious court?"

"I don't dispute the general idea," said Ichabod, "about the sweetness
of a life in the woods. I have never tried it very much, but I always
have a different sort of feeling from usual when I find myself in the
forest; but I reckon that it can't be considered very patriotic for a
Captain in the Revolutionary Army to be quoting Shakspeare, or any
other British poet. What did _he_ know about _our_ woods? All the woods
he ever saw were but a child's play-ground compared with the eternal,
never-ending forests of America. As for me, if I've got any poetry to
quote, I can find enough of our own manufacture. I believe in the home
manufacture of _that_ article, just as much as I do in that of the other
kind we were talking about last night."

Ralph smiled at Ichabod's literary bigotry. He answered:

"I do not know any reasonable objection to our admiring the men of
genius of a foreign or hostile nation, or their writings. Men of genius
are the property of the world. Whatever they may think or say that may
delight and instruct one people, may equally delight and instruct all
others. We are yet in the infancy of the poetic art, and have produced
no poets capable of winning a world-wide reputation."

"That's precisely what the British say, Captain; and if I didn't know
that your heart was true as steel to the American cause, I should be a
little _jealous_ of you. No poets of reputation! Did you ever read
Freneau, Captain? To my mind, he's got more poetry in his little finger
than Shakspeare had in his whole body. Now, did Shakspeare ever write
anything equal to Freneau's "Antiquity of America"?"

And Ichabod began reciting, in a loud voice--

  "'America, to every climate known,
    Spreads her broad bosom to the burning zone;
    To either pole extends her vast domain,
    Where varying suns in different summers reign.'"

"That's the way the poem begins, and it fully keeps up its pitch all the
way through."

Ralph had some knowledge of the poetical compositions of Freneau, who
had really produced some poems, full of a fine, poetic feeling, and who
was much beyond the mass of his poetical contemporaries in this country;
yet, although he entertained a feeling of respect for the ability and
services of the revolutionary poet, he could not share the high degree
of admiration which Ichabod entertained for him.

"I'll grant," said Ralph, scarcely knowing how to reply to the irritated
Ichabod, "that Shakespeare never _did_ write precisely such a poem; and
I will admit that I do not believe he ever _could_ have written such an
one."

"I knew you were right at heart, Captain," exclaimed Ichabod, highly
elated over his equivocal victory. "Some of his verses have done as much
towards bringing down the British, as whole regiments of Continentals
could have done. But then, Freneau is only one of a whole circle of
poets. The British boast about their old ballads; now, I'll take an even
bet, that I can show 'em ballads, written here at home, that will make
'em ashamed. Why, we've had a woman that would eclipse 'em all, to my
mind--Mrs. Bradstreet, of whom another poet said:

  "'Her breast was a brave palace, a broad street,
    Where all heroic, ample thoughts did meet.'"

"Mrs. Bradstreet _did_ possess a sweetness of expression," said Ralph;
"and, with a higher cultivation, she might have written some fine
poetry."

"_Might_, Captain! Lord bless you, she did! Speaking of the Squire's
fishing expedition, what other poet ever said as fine things about
_fish_, for instance, as she did?

  "'Ye fish, which in this liquid region 'bide,
    That for each season have your habitation,
    Now salt, now fresh, where you think best to glide,
    To unknown coasts to give a visitation.
    In lakes and ponds you leave your numerous fry:
    So Nature taught, and yet you know not why,
    You wat'ry folk that know not your felicity.'"

Ralph was much amused at the earnestness of Ichabod, and he did not wish
to irritate him by any depreciating criticism upon verses which he
considered so extraordinary; but remarked:

"An admiration of poetic productions depends very much upon the quality
of our taste. I presume that I have very little taste for such things;
but I do think that our ballad poetry has done us good service. Written
in a popular style, and sung or recited by men who _felt_ the particular
sentiments usually contained in them, these ballads have frequently
proved effective in inspiring a proper, natural feeling."

"Them's my sentiments, Captain," said Ichabod; "and I'm glad to see that
you're right on that p'int. We've got ballads on all sorts of subjects,
from the time of King Philip's war down to these days. Did you ever read
the ballad of 'Lovewell's Fight,' Captain? I call it a great poem. After
speaking of the valiant Captain Lovewell, it goes on to say:

  "'He and his valiant soldiers
      Did range the woods full wide,
    And hardships they endured,
      To quell the Indian's pride.

 "''Twas nigh unto Pigwacket,
      Upon the eighth of May,
    They spied a rebel Indian
      Soon after break of day.
    He on a bank was walking,
      Upon a neck of land
    Which leads into a pond, as
      We're made to understand.'

"It then goes on to describe the fight between the company and the
Injins that laid in ambush, and winds up with telling who and how many
were killed.

  "'Our worthy Captain Lovewell
      Among them there did die;
    They killed Lieutenant Robbins,
      And wounded good young Frye,'

while the rest of the company started for home;

   'And braving many dangers
      And hardship in the way,
    They safe arrived at Dunstable,
      The thirteenth day of May.'"

"Very good, Ichabod--very good! It is really quite American in style, as
well as theme."

"But good as it is, Captain, it isn't a circumstance to some of 'em.
There's 'Brave Pawling and the Spy,' and 'Bold Hawthorne,' and 'American
Taxation.' That last poem, Captain, has got the true essence of poetry
in it. If I was the author of that, I'd die content. The poem goes on to
say.

  "'The cruel lords of Britain,
      Who glory in their shame,
    The project they have hit on
      They joyfully proclaim;
    'Tis what they're striving after,
      Our rights to take away,
    And rob us of our charter,
      In North America.'

"Then 'two mighty speakers, who rule in Piedmont,' propose to King
George a plan for taxation of the colonies, to which the king accedes,
and says:

  "'My subjects shall be taxed
      In North America

    Invested with a warrant
      My publicans shall go,
    The tenth of all their current
      They surely shall bestow:
    If they indulge rebellion,
      Or from my precepts stray,
    I'll send my war battalion
      To North America.'

"Then the people of the colonies address King George, and implore him
not to tax 'em; and finally say that if he does they'll fight about it,
and that

  "'We never will knock under,
      O George, we do not fear
    The rattling of your thunder,
      Nor lightning of your spear;

    Though rebels you declare us,
      We're strangers to dismay;
    Therefore you cannot scare us
      In North America.'

"It's a great poem, Captain; it was written by a schoolmaster in
Connecticut."

"It is patriotic in tone," replied Ralph; "it has that merit, at least.
Are you much acquainted with the old poets of the country?"

"A little, Captain; I've read them all. Besides Mrs. Bradstreet, there's
Roger Wolcott, Nathaniel Ward, Mather Byles, Joseph Green, Peter
Foulger, old Michael Wigglesworth, and hosts of others. A splendid
galaxy, Captain! There's 'The Day of Doom; or, a Poetical Description of
the Great and Last Judgment,' by Wigglesworth. It _is_ rather strong on
the old New England religion, but as a piece of poetical work, it's
really great. Was anything ever more terrible than the description of
the final judgment? After the sentence is pronounced, before the
condemned,

  "'They wring their hands, their caitiff hands,
      And gnash their teeth in terror;
    They cry, they war, for anguish sore,
      And gnaw their tongues for horror;
    But get away, without delay,
      Christ pities not your cry:
    Depart to hell--there ye may yell,
      And war eternally.'

"We can admire poetry, sometimes, when we don't precisely approve of the
sentiments. Did you ever see a more terrific piece of writing than that,
Captain?"

"It is full of horrors, I must confess," said Ralph, who was beginning
to get weary at the extent of Ichabod's poetical recollections; "but we
are near the cottage, and we must now make our preparations for the
fishing expedition. Are you anything of a fisherman, Ichabod?"

"I can't say that I am, Captain. With all respect for the taste of other
people, it always looked to me like rather poor sport. A man may do
that, as he does anything else, for a livelihood; but, for sport, give
me a rifle, a sharp eye, and a practised hand. Howsomever, I am with
you."

The afternoon seemed to prepare itself expressly for the accommodation
of the fishing party. Light clouds covered the sky and a gentle south
wind just stirred the face of the water. Sambo had been to the river and
caught for bait a quantity of small white fish; and, equipped with hooks
and line, Barton, with Ralph and Ichabod, proceeded to the pond, where
they entered a boat that had been made by hollowing out two halves of a
large log, some three feet in diameter and attaching them together.
Barton paddled towards the north-west side, and advanced some fifteen or
twenty rods from the shore.

"In this portion of the pond," said he, "the pickerel are most abundant.
Perch are found in large quantities near the south-east shore."

They then fastened the bait, which had been kept alive, to the hooks,
and threw them overboard. Ichabod was a stranger to this manner of
fishing, and he watched the proceedings with an evident degree of
interest. Ralph had been accustomed to it in his boyhood and therefore
needed no instructions.

Seeing that Ichabod did not understand the course of operations, Barton
said to him, "It is necessary, usually, for the purpose of securing the
fish, whenever it strikes the bait, to allow it to run with the line for
a short distance, when it stops and endeavors to swallow its prey. If it
succeeds in doing so, or if it finds itself hooked, it then runs. Then
is the time to pull; pull slowly, but steadily, and you have him."

"Hallo! ive got one!" shouted Ichabod; and, mindful of the directions he
had just received, he commenced jerking and pulling violently on his
line. The fish, which was of good size, and would weigh from two to
three pounds, came struggling towards the boat, as if not anxious to
make a more familiar acquaintance with the party. "Ah you varmint,--you
Seneca!" shouted Ichabod. "Pull will you! I'll show you a trick worth
two of that!" He had just got the fish close to the side of the boat,
and was eagerly bent over to grasp him, if necessary, when the pickerel,
with a desperate struggle, that splashed the water in all directions,
broke loose, and darted with the rapidity of light, as it seemed to the
eyes of Ichabod, back into the pond. The excitement, and the sudden
release of the prisoner, nearly capsized Ichabod. He fell towards the
other side of the boat, and and had it not been for Ralph, would have
tumbled overboard.

"Hallo, there!" said Barton, laughing, "it's no use going into the water
after him; you cannot catch him that way."

Ralph also laughed heartily at the accident; and Ichabod, much
disconcerted, quietly fastened another bait, determined to succeed
better on the next trial.

Just then, a pickerel of large size darted at Barton's bait, and Barton
eased off his line, while the fish ran with it some eight or ten feet,
and then commenced its efforts to swallow the captive it had seized. It
would have been amusing to one who had no experience in the excitements
of that species of fishing, to have Seen the evident anxiety of Barton.
To the sportsman, the excitement is of such a degree as almost to obtain
the mastery of his calmness, when, with a dart like a flash of sunlight,
the pickerel seizes the bait, and flies so suddenly that one can
scarcely say he saw it; then comes the violent twitching and jerking of
the line, as the monster endeavors in its eagerness to devour its prey.
Barton waited patiently, until by the rapid motion of his line through
the water, it was apparent that the pickerel was disposed to make off,
either entirely satisfied or very much dissatisfied,--when, with a
steady pull, he assisted the captive in its escape, and brought it
slowly, but struggling violently, back to the boat. In a moment it was
lifted in, and the capture was completed. One would have supposed from
the appearance of Barton, that he had triumphed in some great encounter
in another and more important field of action. But it is true, although
perhaps not strange, that we enjoy with as keen a relish, a triumph,
when we contend only with trifles, if our success is owing to our own
skill or wisdom, as we do, where we triumph over greater obstacles with
less skill, but with the assistance of accident.

Barton and Ralph both had extensively "good luck," and the boat began to
be loaded with the fish they had taken. Ichabod, who for some time had
watched their operations with much interest, had, of late, become
silent, and seemed to pay little or no attention to the sport. His first
failure, and the success of the others, had disconcerted him somewhat;
and his want of luck began to make him think he was engaged in rather
dull business.

At an interval of cessation in their sport, which had now become a
little like labor, Ralph turned to Ichabod, and said,

"How now, Ichabod--did that pickerel run away with your spirits? Wake
up, man; what are you dreaming about?"

"Confound the varmints!" exclaimed Ichabod. "The pervarse cree'turs
ain't worth talking about, to say nothing about skirmishing here half a
day after 'em. Give me a chance at them deer yonder in the woods, or the
wolves I've heered of round here, and we'd have something to talk about,
I tell you."

"Well we'll give you a chance," said Barton laughing; "you shall have an
opportunity to triumph in your own field. You don't like
pickerel-fishing, then?"

"Pickerel-fishing," replied Ichabod gravely; "may be good sport for them
as likes it, and have a cunning that way; but you see, I don't look upon
it as a reg'lar large business any way. Give me the sports one can unite
with business. Now you see, the man that's a good shot on a deer, may be
jist as good a shot, providing he has steady nerves, on an Injin; but
you can't catch Senecas or Onondagas with this kind of bait. No, I don't
like it, Squire." And Ichabod drew back into his former position of
listlessness.

"I say, Squire," said he, in a moment, with a twinkle of his eyes, as if
he had hit upon a happy idea. "I say, Squire, there's one way you might
make this pond profitable. This wasn't put here merely to grow these
cussed varmints in. Things has their uses; and the uses of this body of
water isn't to cover fish spawn, as any man can see with half an eye."

"Well, Ichabod, any more factory projects?" asked Barton with an attempt
at composure.

"There isn't anything to laugh at in that idea," said Ichabod. "You
haven't thought of it as much as I have. But I tell you, Squire, you
might jist as well build up this country here, and make your own spec.
out of it, as to allow some body else to come in here, and do it; for
'twill be done, I tell you. A country like this can't be kept out of all
its advantages a great while, any way. Now, you see, this pond, Squire,
providing--I say, _providing_--you can get a proper fall of water from
it, as I reckon you can, would make a great chance for a mill privilege,
or something of that sort; and you see, Squire, if that could be done,
you'd have a supply of water here, that----Creation, what _have_ I got
hold on?" and Ichabod commenced tugging violently at his line; for he
evidently had caught something that offered much more than ordinary
resistance to his efforts. His struggles attracted the attention of both
Barton and Ralph, who came to offer him any assistance that might be
necessary.

"Slow! steady!" said Barton.

"Yes, yes," shouted Ichabod: "I'll have him now. Ah! here he comes--ugh!
what in creation----" and in his astonishment he dropped his line, which
began to make off rapidly from the boat.

"A turtle!" exclaimed Barton, "a mud-turtle!" seizing the line, and
pulling in the turtle, which would weigh eight or ten pounds. "You have
triumphed at last, Jenkins. Nobody else has caught a turtle to-day--and
so large a one, too. It is a real victory--another Saratoga," and he
laughed so heartily that Ichabod showed some symptoms of getting angry.

"_Con_-found the victory, Squire," said he, "I'll tell you what, Squire,
I don't handle them traps any more. If you want to see slaughter among
your bears and wolves, bring 'em on: but I've got through with this
cussed business, any how."

"But, without jesting, Jenkins," said Barton, "that turtle is worth more
for eating than all the fish we've got here--their meat is delicious;
and I prize them highly."

"If that's so, Squire," said Ichabod, "you're entirely welcome to it.
The varmint! I've seen 'em down in the settlements: but I never heerd of
eating 'em, before; _I'd_ feed 'em to Senecas."

"They would be very thankful for them," said Barton. "It isn't every day
they get a turtle like this."

The lines were all taken in, and as they were now sufficiently wearied,
the boat was paddled towards the shore, where Sambo was waiting to
receive the fish.

"Golly!" said the negro, grinning "who caught dis ere fellar? he! he!
he!" pointing towards the turtle.

"_I_ caught that varmint!" replied Ichabod, gravely.

"Guess massa Jenkins let he bait die," said Sambo. "Dose fellars don't
bite like pickerel, no how. How massa Jenkins manage?"

"Manage! you black devil," said Ichabod, angrily, "I'll feed you to him,
if you ask any more questions."

Ralph and Barton were very much amused at Ichabod's discomfiture, which
did not at all pacify him; but the party proceeded towards the cottage,
Sambo being careful to keep out of Ichabod's way; but many were the
grins which he made at his expense, behind his back. Ichabod gave up the
idea of ever being a fisherman; but, as he seemed to be extremely
sensitive on that subject, neither Ralph nor Barton saw fit to make any
particular allusion to it.



CHAPTER V.

   "We rustled through the leaves like wind,
    Left shrubs, and trees, and wolves behind;
    By night I heard them on the track,
    Their whoop came hard upon our back,
    With their long gallop, which can tire
    The hound's deep hate and hunter's fire."
      MAZEPPA

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon, when they returned to the
cottage; and as the sun had again made its appearance, and there were no
indications of unpleasant weather. Ralph proposed to Miss Barton that
they should put in execution a project which she had mentioned, of
taking a ride on horseback down the valley.

The horses were at once brought out, by the negro. They were kept for
working horses by Barton; but they had sufficient life and activity to
make an excursion in that mode pleasant and agreeable.

Sambo, who was very much attached to his mistress, took the liberty of
cautioning her to be home again by nightfall, and muttered something
about "strange Injins" and wolves. Barton smiled at the fears of the
negro; but at the same time intimated that any possible danger might be
avoided by an early return.

"As for Indians," said he, "I haven't known many around here lately, and
they are all of the friendly sort. The King's Indians, as they are
called, have not been here, as I have known, since I have resided here.
As for wolves, they are sometimes dangerous, in winter; I have heard of
them pursuing people, at that season of the year, when they are
particularly voracious; but I never heard of such an instance so early
in the season--although it is possible that it might occur. But Ruth
knows the country," continued he, "and will know how to avoid any
dangers that are incident to it."

"I shall place myself wholly under the control of Miss Barton," said
Ralph; "she shall be both guide and guard."

"I can answer for the guide," replied Ruth, "if not for the guard. But I
have often taken the short excursion I proposed for to-day; and I will
promise to bring home Captain Weston safe and sound."

They mounted their horses, and proceeded slowly down the valley, along a
narrow path or road, but of sufficient width to allow two horses to
travel abreast. They had proceeded in this manner about a mile, in a
southerly direction, with little conversation, except such as was
suggested by their ride, when after rounding a hill which ran down
nearly to the river, they came in full view of the valley, which here
widened out into broad flats, and certainly offered to their observation
a high degree of beauty and attraction.

"Beyond the hill which you see yonder," said Ruth, "the valley attains a
much greater width. The river, on one side, flows at the base of the
eastern hills; and a pleasant stream, which, to translate the Indian
appellation, means a "swiftly running creek," flows at the base of the
hills on the west. At about a mile and a half below, they unite, and
finally empty into the Susquehanna. The excursion I proposed for to-day
was only to the spot where the junction of the two streams is formed. I
have been there a few times, and I have always been charmed with the
beauty of the place."

"The whole valley is beautiful," said Ralph, "beyond any ideas I
entertained before visiting it. Such a place will soon be populated. I
do not blame Ichabod for his schemes at speculation here; for with the
impulse which the country must now receive in population and wealth, so
beautiful and advantageous a region as this, will not long be
neglected."

They passed around the hill which Ruth had mentioned, where the valley,
as she had observed, became of a much greater width, wider than Ralph
had yet seen it. It was almost entirely covered with forest; although
here and there were places which had been partially cleared by the
savages, in former days. The forest in which they were encompassed shut
out any very extensive observation of the valley itself, except when
they were upon some of the high ground; but enough could be seen to give
one a good general idea of its shape and condition. The path had become
somewhat more narrow, and they were surrounded by a wilderness of
vegetation, which was peculiarly attractive to the eyes of Ralph and his
companion.

After about half an hour's further progress, they arrived at the place
which had been mentioned by Ruth. The river, just before it reaches the
spot where it receives the waters of the creek, makes a sudden turn to
the east, for about thirty rods, and then returns to nearly the same
point, in a north and south line, at a distance of only fifteen or
twenty rods, where the junction is formed. A portion of the waters of
the river, however escape from the main channel and flow directly
towards the south, making an island two or three acres in extent.

Having arrived at this spot, Ralph and his companion dismounted from
their horses, and fastening them to some small trees nearby, they gave
themselves up to the contemplation of the fine scenery around them. The
sun was then about an hour high, and the golden sunlight flashing upon
the variegated foliage of the forest--the calmness which reigned
undisturbed around them, the solitude of the wilderness in which they
were encompassed, all conspired to give a hue to feelings which both
possessed, but which they scarcely dared to breathe to each other.

"I have often dreamed," said Ralph, "of just such a spot as this. I am
something of a recluse by nature; but after all, I have some choice as
to the place of my isolation."

"I shall expect, then," answered Ruth, smiling, "to hear of Ralph
Weston, the hermit, occasionally, from those who may pass by here. Where
do you propose to establish your hermitage?"

"In truth, I cannot say," replied Ralph; "but I suppose it will be when
I, like the hermits of old, have become sufficiently disgusted with the
world, to make me fly from it with hatred; I will not fix the precise
time, just now--I will leave it to circumstances. But familiarity with
Nature--converse with the solitude of the forest, is the best antidote
to the disgust which many persons conceive of society. The man cannot be
all bad, who has any relish left in him for the beauties which Nature
can unfold to him."

"You are becoming very much of a philosopher, Captain Weston. You shall
have another title added to that of hermit. You shall be a philosophical
hermit."

"Ruth! you laugh at me! But you must pardon my caprice at the idea of a
forest life; for I am not much of a woodsman, you know. But I'll venture
to say, after all, that you agree with me."

"Yes," answered Ruth, earnestly, "I do like our new mode of life. We are
nearly shut out from the world,--but we have still a thousand pleasures,
perhaps the sweeter from our solitary position. We do not merely _find_
a home, we _create_ one. We see broad meadows starting out from the
forest, and know that they are ours by the best of titles--a reclamation
from the waste of Nature. I have often asked myself whether I would be
willing to abandon our present home for the old home in the settlements,
and I never yet could answer that I would."

"To a light, vain head," answered Ralph, "such a life would be tiresome;
but it seems to me, although how long the feeling would endure, I cannot
say--yet it seems to me, that the constant idea of dependence upon a
Power beyond and over men, which must be ever present to the minds of
those who dwell in the wilderness, would give life a higher and truer
aim, than can be attained in society. But familiarity with scenes like
these, blunts the mind, perhaps, and the idea is soon lost."

"I believe the remark is true," replied Ruth. "We cannot entirely forego
society, without injury to ourselves."

"Yes, perhaps it is so," said Ralph; "we can attain no such marvellous
degree of sentiment or independence as wholly to destroy our taste for
crowds and social intercourse. I think, after all, that if I were to
become a hermit, I should like a few familiar friends to share my
hermitage."

Ruth smiled as she replied, "your hermitage, then, Captain Weston, would
be a very different affair from the 'cave, rock and desert' of an
old-fashioned recluse, who

  "'Had nought to do but feed on roots,
      And gaze upon the stars!'"

"Were I ever to choose the 'rock, cave and desert,'" said Ralph, "I
believe I should wish my solitary life, after all, to be terminated, as
was the Solitude of Edwin, in the ballad of Goldsmith; that is, if I
could ever hope that any Angelina would seek the solitude I sought. But
I suppose that "Angelinas" are the creatures of poetry."

"And why not Edwins, too?" inquired Ruth, with an arch smile.

"And why, since we are asking questions," asked Ralph, with a look that
brought a blush to the cheek of his companion, "may I not ask Miss
Barton----"

But the question, however important to the happiness of either, or both
of them, was interrupted by a sudden rustling of dry underbrush in their
immediate vicinity, as if trodden upon by a hasty foot. Ralph turned
suddenly round, and beheld the ill-natured countenance of Guthrie before
him. The squatter stopped short, leaning upon his rifle, and said, with
an attempt at civility, but in a gruff tone:

"You're a _stranger_ in these parts, friend, and don't know that you may
find it a little _dangerous_ traveling through this forest by night."

"Dangerous, Guthrie! how so?" inquired Ruth.

"You, who live up at the cottage, Miss Ruth, mayn't know it, but the
wolves have been prowling around here in reg'lar troops, for a few days
past; and it will be dark now, afore you can get back to the cottage. I
had a set-to with a rascally troop of them, last night."

Ralph thanked Guthrie for his caution, although he was half angry at the
interruption, at that particular moment of time, and intimated to Ruth
that perhaps they had better return. Ruth assented, the horses were
unfastened, and they proceeded at a leisurely pace towards home,
although more rapidly than they had come.

The labor and perplexity of making their way along the rough path and
among the underbrush were such as to prevent any continued conversation.
By the time they had traveled half a mile, the sun, with a broad, ruddy
glow, had sunk behind the western hills. The twilight in the midst of
the forest soon gave way to a deep shade, which rendered their path
still more difficult.

Ralph, who had at first inwardly cursed the interruption made by
Guthrie, in a conversation which had reached a point most deeply
interesting to him, now almost wished that it had occurred a little
earlier. Ruth evidently entertained the same thought, for her
countenance exhibited much anxiety.

"Guthrie's advice was reasonable, most certainly," she said, "although
it was not given in the most civil manner."

"It was somewhat later than I thought," answered Ralph, "but we shall
reach home in an hour more, at least. But who is this Guthrie? I believe
I saw him at your father's on the night of my arrival."

"Nothing is known of him, with certainty," replied Ruth. "He has a
shanty somewhere below here, where he lives alone, subsisting upon such
game as he finds, and upon the trade he drives at the settlements. He is
supposed to have been a Tory, and to have been leagued with the Indians
of this region; although we merely suspect it--we do not know it."

"He has an ill-favored countenance. He wears one of those peculiar
faces, that we always distrust. Is he often at your father's?"

"Not very frequently; we entertained the same distrust of him you have
expressed, on first seeing him, and that feeling has rather increased
than diminished, with only a very short acquaintance."

"He has certainly rendered us a favor on this occasion," said Ralph, who
found their progress was momently becoming more difficult, as the
darkness increased.

It was just at this instant, that a long howl was heard at some distance
behind them, but apparently from the westward. In the stillness and
darkness which encompassed them, it had a melancholy and threatening
sound, which was far from agreeable. Scarcely a moment had elapsed ere
the howl which they had heard was answered from the opposite direction;
and almost simultaneously it seemed to be echoed by a hundred discordant
throats.

"The wolves!" exclaimed Ralph and Ruth, together. "But," said Ralph,
"perhaps they have not scented us, and we may have nothing to fear from
them."

"Heaven grant that it may be so," earnestly replied Ruth; but as if at
once to end their hopes, the cries were again heard, sharper and wilder.
Just at this moment the moon arose, and began to throw a misty and
uncertain light through the forest. Ralph seized the horse upon which
Ruth was mounted by the bits, and the animals were at once urged to the
greatest speed which the difficulties of their path would allow. The
horses themselves felt the alarm, and readily yielded to the impulse of
their riders.

The cries seemed now to be nearly half a mile behind them; and Ralph
hoped, at the least, to be able to arrive so near the house of Mr.
Barton, that assistance could be immediately afforded. But in spite of
all their exertions, the path was so intricate, owing to the thick
underbrush and the overhanging branches of trees, together with the
rough and uneven surface of the ground, that the utmost care was
necessary to prevent the falling of the horses, on the one hand, and to
guard against being thrown from them by the branches which were
constantly projecting before them, on the other.

On they rode, with as much rapidity as the utmost limit of safety would
allow. They well knew that their only hope of safety depended upon their
being able to keep mounted and in flight; for were any accident to
happen to their horses, they would be left, in the midst of the
wilderness, at the mercy of the ferocious beasts that were on their
track. But their pursuers gained upon them; the howls which but a few
moments since seemed fully half a mile behind, were now evidently within
a much less distance. The woods appeared to be alive with their enemies.
The discordant cries filled every avenue of sound. Faster, faster ran
the horses--but still nearer approached the sound of the cowardly
pack--cowardly when few in numbers, but savage in multitude.

The moonlight lay in scattered patches in the forest, but every shadow
seemed occupied by an enemy. The pursuers had now approached so near,
that Ralph could hear the crackling of the dry underbrush and branches,
over and through which they ran, amidst the noise of their cries.
Looking behind him, he saw the leaders of the pack leaping upon their
track, and in the moonlight saw, with terrible distinctness, their
glaring eyes and protruded tongues. The horses strained every muscle,
quivering with affright, but the wolves were approaching--were almost
upon them! Snatching, with a hurried hand, a shawl from the shoulders of
Ruth, he threw it behind them. For a moment the chase ceased; and with
wild, ferocious cries, the pack gathered around the object which had
been so opportunely offered to them. At that instant, when the last hope
had nearly vanished, the eyes of the travelers encountered in the path
before them the form of an Indian, who, with outstretched arms,
requested them to stop. In a moment they approached him, when with a
rapid utterance, he exclaimed:

"Me friend; me Tuscarora--come!" and suddenly seizing the horses by the
bits, he led them three or four rods from the path, where they saw
before them, in the midst of the forest, a small log hut; although in an
extremely ruinous condition, it afforded the protection which, but a
few minutes before, seemed utterly withheld from them.

Again were heard the cries of the wolves, and the noise of their
approach! Ralph leaped from his horse, and at once lifted Ruth from the
saddle, who, until that moment, had preserved her courage and fortitude,
but now fell fainting into his arms. He bore her instantly into the hut,
where the Tuscarora rapidly brought in the horses after them; and the
door was closed, just as the ferocious pack came rushing into the open
space before the hut.



CHAPTER VI.


   "And then to mark the lord of all,
      The forest hero, trained to wars,
    Quivered and plumed, and lithe and tall,
      And seamed with glorious scars."
                                     BRYANT.


Ralph, as we have said, bore his fainting burden into the hut and the
Tuscarora, having secured the frightened horses, at once hastened to his
assistance. Ruth, in a few moments, became partially restored; and a
blush lit up the pallor of her countenance, as she found herself
sustained in the arms of Ralph. Partially withdrawing from his support,
she said:

"You must be astonished, Captain Weston, that a woodman's daughter had
so little fortitude as to be unable to withstand the ordinary perils of
her condition. I almost feel that I owe you an apology."

"You have no reason to be ashamed of your want of fortitude, Miss
Barton," answered Ralph. "The courage with which you endured that
terrible ride was amazing. You have more, much more, than sustained your
reputation as a woodman's daughter."

Ralph now, for the first time, observed the Tuscarora, who was standing
silently before him leaning upon his rifle. The Indian was of little
more than medium height, and straight as an arrow. His form was rather
slight than otherwise, but was fully developed, and gave evidence of
great agility and strength. His countenance was open and frank; and in
his present attitude of repose, one would not have thought that he
possessed those peculiar qualities of the Indian, which we are apt to
associate with our recollections of that rapidly wasting race. He looked
like a true lord of the forest,--cold and impassive in demeanor,--but
concealing beneath that grave exterior a fountain of terrible passions.
He had not yet passed the age of "youth," for not more than thirty
times, to him, had the leaves of autumn fallen; yet his youth seemed
extinguished in the gravity of the warrior.

Ralph could not resist a feeling of admiration at the well-built frame
and noble countenance of the Tuscarora; and advancing towards him, he
grasped him by the hand.

"Tuscarora," said he, "you have this night rendered this young lady and
myself a service, for which we shall ever be grateful; you have
preserved our lives."

The Indian, with a modest gesture, seemed to disclaim the gratitude
which Ralph so freely expressed--then quietly said:

"Tuscarora friend to the colony pale-face--me no Kings Injin--me do my
duty to friend. Young people careless--all heart--no eyes--no mind
wolves;--me know--me waited for 'em."

"I did not know," said Ralph, "that the wolves of this section ever
attacked men."

"No often; but get hungry sometimes--then ugly--then must look out. Hear
that?"

Since our travelers had entered their place of safety, the forest seemed
to be alive with the unearthly howls of the beasts, whose din increased
at the loss of their prey. They had rushed up to the sides of the hut;
and, as the Tuscarora answered Ralph, a number of them had evidently
leaped against the door and the sides of the building with a savage
ferocity.

"Me have fun, now," said the Tuscarora, advancing towards one of the
numerous loop-holes of the hut, which had been made by its builder for
its defence. "Me shoot--give 'em something to howl for."

His rifle was discharged, and for a moment, the din outside completely
ceased; but as the pack saw one of their number fall, their cries
increased in ferocity, until they became almost deafening. Ralph
advanced to one of the loop-holes, and looked out upon the savage crowd
of beasts, which seemed determined to besiege them into a surrender. As
well as he could observe in the moonlight, there appeared to be forty or
fifty of them, standing before and prowling about the hut, with their
faces upturned--and their eyes gleaming like balls of fire.

The North American wolf is naturally a cowardly animal; and never, when
alone, dares to attack a man. The animal has become, in the section of
country of which we are now writing, entirely extinct. Mean, thievish,
cowardly in disposition, they always fled from an encounter with a human
creature, except when frenzied with hunger, and gathered in large packs.
At such times, they become extremely dangerous; yet, even then, any
resistance which seemed able to withstand their attack, at once
disconcerted them.

The Indian again loaded his rifle, and again it was discharged. Another
wolf was killed; and although they still kept up their clamor, they
began to retreat to a distance from an enemy who had so much advantage
of them.

"Wolf run," said the Tuscarora; "wolf no like rifle--they got no
heart--cowards!" and, as if he disdained the firing upon so mean a foe,
after reloading his rifle, he came towards Ralph, and quietly sat down
on a rough bench by the side of the hut.

"Wolf run away," said he--"they gone soon--then you go home."

"We have our lives to thank you for, Tuscarora," said Ruth, with a look
of gratitude, "and my father will always be glad to welcome you to the
cottage. Will you not return with us?"

"Not now--may be by-'m-by."

"Is your nation in this territory now?" asked Ralph.

"Me got no nation," said the Indian, sorrowfully. "Tuscaroras once
great--away south. Then had great many warriors--then they great
nation--but most all gone, now."

"Are not your people and the Oneidas brethren?"

"Oneidas are brothers--love Oneidas."

"Why are you here in this section alone, Tuscarora, with none of your
brethren near you?" abruptly asked Ralph.

The Indian looked at him steadily for a moment, and then replied:

"My young friend is wise. The white men all ask questions--no good for
Injin to answer questions;" and he fell into a gloomy and listless
posture, and refused, for the time, to hold any further conversation.

The silence of the Tuscarora was somewhat embarrassing to Ralph; and he
again went towards the loop-holes to reconnoitre the present position of
the enemy. The howls had almost entirely ceased; and what few were
heard, seemed to be twenty-five or thirty rods distant. Just as he
reached the loop-hole, he heard a rifle discharged on the outside, and a
voice which he recognized as that of Ichabod, which made the woods ring
again with a loud halloo.

The Indian started abruptly from his seat, and both he and Ralph
advanced towards the door. On opening it, they discovered at the
distance of ten rods three men who were rapidly approaching the hut. As
they came from among the shadows of the trees into the bright moonlight,
which lay in the small opening in front of the hut, Ralph recognized
Barton and Ichabod accompanied by the negro.

The moment they were discovered by the party, Barton ran towards Ralph,
exclaiming, "Is she safe, Ralph--is she safe?"

Scarcely was the question asked, before Ruth was in her father's arms.
"God bless thee, girl," said he; "I hardly dared hope ever to see thee
again," and the tears rolled down his manly face.

"For this joy, my father, we have to thank this good Indian here. He it
was who saved us."

The Indian, during this scene, had silently withdrawn into a deep shadow
which fell by the side of the hut. There he stood, leaning upon his
rifle, seemingly as passionless and unconcerned as the shadow within
which he stood.

Barton went up to him, and grasped him by the hand. "You have this day,"
said he, "in rescuing my daughter, saved both her life and my own. How
can I thank you?"

The Tuscarora remained unmoved. "No thanks," said he. "The Great Spirit
smiles when his children do their duty. Tuscarora likes colony
pale-face. The Great Spirit sent me here--thank him, not poor
Tuscarora."

"You say right, Tuscarora. God hath preserved my child this day. To Him
be thanks, who taketh and giveth."

Scarcely had the first sound issued from the mouth of the Tuscarora,
when Ichabod rapidly approached him. The Indian gave him a glance of
recognition, and silently took his hand.

"Eagle's Wing, as I live!" exclaimed he. "Glad to see you again, old
friend. I haven't seen you since we were down here on that last
war-path."

Canendesha, as the Tuscarora was named by his own people, bore also the
name of Eagle's Wing, which had been bestowed upon him not only for his
boldness in fight, but for the keenness and rapidity with which he
followed the trail of an enemy. When he heard himself thus called by his
name of honor, he drew himself up with pride as he replied:

"Three summers and winters have destroyed the marks of the war-path. I
have dwelt in the wigwams of my people, and near by the fires of the
Oneidas."

In the meantime Barton had approached Ralph, and testified scarcely less
joy at his deliverance than he had at that of Ruth. Ichabod and Eagle's
Wing had withdrawn still further from observation into the shadow.

"Eagle's Wing," said Ichabod, imitating the language of the Tuscarora,
"is wise. He dwells in peace in the wigwams of his people. But why is he
here--two days' march from his friends?"

The Indian remained silent for a few moments. At length he replied:

"I am in the hunting grounds of my people. The heart of Eagle's Wing is
filled with peace."

"Yes, yes, old friend," said Ichabod, resuming his usual manner of
expression. "You and I have been on a good many warpaths together. I
know a Tuscarora and Oneida just as well as I know a Seneca or Mohawk. I
know your people are gentlemen born, and I know them others are
reptiles. You can't deceive _me_, Eagle's Wing--you are on a trail?"

"The eyes of my brother are keen--he has followed the war-path. Has he
crossed the trail of an enemy?"

The Indian uttered this with a countenance so unmoved, and with such an
expression of sincerity, that Ichabod began to think the Tuscarora had
nothing to conceal from him. He said, however, in reply:

"I know your heart is true, Eagle's Wing; but I rather thought, at
first, you might be following up some devil of a Seneca. But them
varmints have left these parts, I s'pose."

"My brother is wise," softly replied the Tuscarora, but at the same time
with a quiet expression of victory in the glance which he cast towards
Ichabod. The glance was not unnoticed, and the latter at once saw that
his original suspicions were correct. But he knew it would be useless to
press the Tuscarora with questions. He said to him, however, in a tone
that convinced the Indian that Ichabod was not deceived:

"Well, old friend, you and I have been brothers in harder times than
these; and if you need the help of this rifle here, which is an old
acquaintance of your'n, I shall take it in dudgeon if you don't call on
me."

The Indian still remained unmoved; but Ichabod could see that the offer
was kindly received.

At this moment, Barton approached, and invited the Tuscarora to
accompany him to his dwelling. "You will always be welcome there, and I
hope I may have many opportunities to testify to you my gratitude."

The Tuscarora courteously declined the invitation for the present, and
the party prepared to depart. The horses were led out, and the party
proceeded towards the cottage, while Eagle's Wing, remained as long as
he could be observed, still leaning upon his rifle in front of the hut.

The party journeyed for some distance without conversation, until Ralph
at length asked Ichabod, who seemed to be much less talkative than
usual, how they who were at the cottage had so soon learned the danger
which Ruth and he were in, from the pursuit of the wolves.

"Learn!" answered Ichabod. "Why, you see the old Squire, 'long towards
dusk, began to get considerable uneasy, from some cause or other--either
because he had heard more about them infarnal varmints, lately, than he
chose to tell, or else because Sambo teazed him until he ra'ally thought
you was in some danger; and so he proposed to me to walk with him along
down the road, until we met you. We'd got in just about a mile of that
shanty, when we heard the yells of them pestiferous cre'turs. I tell
you, Captain, them would have been tough customers to have come to a
close fight with."

"I was entirely unarmed," said Ralph, "but I had no reason to expect
meeting an enemy of any kind; and least of all did I suppose we should
run any danger from such an enemy."

"Them varmints," replied Ichabod, "when they've once had a taste of
human blood, are as hungry for it as Senecas are for scalps--_con_-found
'em."

"I know the prevalent opinion in some portions of Europe--in Germany,
for instance, of the ferocity of wolves. There is an old superstition of
Weird-wolves, of which I have heard."

Ralph explained, by giving an account of this peculiar superstition. In
Germany, and in the Netherlands, and in some other portions of Europe,
the opinion had been prevalent among the people, that there were certain
sorcerers, who, having anointed their bodies with ointment, the
preparation of which, they had learned from the devil, and having put on
an enchanted girdle, so long as they wore it, appeared, to the eyes of
others, like wolves; and who possessed the same ferocity and appetite
for human blood, as the animals they were believed to resemble. A large
number of persons in these countries had been executed, who were
supposed to be guilty of that offence. They were generally known as
Weird-wolves.

This popular superstition, indeed, has survived in some portions of
Europe, until this day. In the "Arabian Night's Entertainments," the
unhappy subjects of this superstition were denominated "ghouls," but in
the west they were known by the name we have already mentioned. A
circumstance occurred in Paris, in 1849, which seemed to throw more
light upon the nature of this superstition, and to prove indeed, that
there was a pretty good foundation for the popular belief. Like the
delusion under which many of those unhappy persons labored in the days
of the "Salem witchcraft," who really believed themselves to be what
their judges pronounced them, so these Weird-wolves were undoubtedly
insane persons, who fancied themselves possessed of the wolfish form and
nature.

"I have heard," said Barton, who now joined in the conversation, "of
many instances in our northern settlements, where people have been
attacked by these animals; but, although it is a frequent occurrence for
them to disturb the whole country about here with their howls by night,
I had never apprehended any such danger from them. But we ought to be
thankful that there is no worse enemy about here."

Ichabod, whose mind, ever since his conversation with the Tuscarora, had
been occupied with thoughts that did not seem very agreeable to him,
started at this remark, and said, slowly--

"Well, squire, I hope you mayn't be able to change that last remark of
your'n by to-morrow this time."

Ralph, who knew Ichabod well enough to know that however unsafe his
opinion might be upon subjects relating to moneymaking, yet that, upon
all the perils and dangers incident to a forest life, he possessed an
excellent judgment, with some anxiety asked him for an explanation.

The whole party had caught the alarm; and Ichabod, with a mixture of
pride at finding himself in such an important position, and of sorrow at
the information he felt bound to communicate, answered--

"You see, Eagle's-Wing and I are old friends. We've _fout_ many a battle
agin them cussed Senecas and Onondagas; and I reckon I know an Injin,
and can read him through pretty tolerably easy. Now Eagle's-Wing isn't
down here for nothing; and though his Injin blood wouldn't let him tell
me what kind of speculation he _is_ on, yet I know he's on a trail of
some sort. You can always tell an Injin when he's after an enemy."

"But _what_ enemy," asked Barton, "can he be pursuing in this direction?
There can be no large body of hostile Indians in these forests; for
Guthrie, who is a woodsman, and who would at once have discovered the
fact, would have communicated the intelligence to us. I think there can
be no ground for apprehension."

"I don't know about that, Squire," replied Ichabod, "but I'm sure
something's in the wind; and if you take my advice, you'll prepare for
defence. As for Guthrie, as you call him, _you_ know best about _him_;
he's got a miserable, hang-dog face, any way."

Although there was much plausibility in the opinion of Barton and
Ichabod's apprehensions did not seem to be well-grounded, yet Ralph, who
knew that Ichabod had not given this advice without reflection, also
advised Barton at once to take means of defense against any attack which
might be made upon the cottage.

Barton yielded to the solicitations of Ralph and Ichabod; and the party
having arrived at the cottage, Sambo was at once despatched to drive in
the cattle into an enclosure which had been constructed upon the west
side of the house. This yard was guarded upon all sides by an enclosure
of logs some ten or twelve feet in height, and had been prepared
expressly for the purpose for which it was now used. Its construction
had been deemed necessary by Barton for the purpose of protecting his
cattle in case of an attack by Indians, as well as to protect them from
wolves or bears, which were occasionally seen prowling around the
premises.

The house itself, as we have before remarked, was adapted for defence
against any outward attack from such means of warfare as Indians would
be likely to attempt. The outside doors were heavy, and were secured by
strong bars, which would resist any ordinary force that might be applied
to them. The windows in the lower story were fitted with strong blinds,
which it would be impossible to remove from the outside. In the second
story, the windows were guarded by long hickory bars which had been
morticed into the logs, while loop-holes had been provided, through
which an attack might be repelled.

The house was put into a complete state of defense. The rifles were all
loaded, and placed in a position where they could be readily obtained,
in case they should be needed. Thus prepared, the family at length
retired to rest, the negro having been ordered to keep watch during the
night.



CHAPTER VII.


 "It is not a time for idle grief,
    Nor a time for tears to flow;
  The horror that freezes his limbs is brief--
    He grasps his war-axe and bow, and a sheaf
  Of darts made sharp for the foe."
                                       BRYANT.


As might be inferred from the scenes and excitements of the preceding
day, the inmates of the cottage did not seek the night's repose with the
accustomed feelings of tranquility and safety. Ruth went over again in
memory the events of the day, and she could not conceal from her own
mind the fact that Ralph Weston was much more to her than an ordinary
stranger. Having known him in youth, she had always esteemed the leading
traits of his character; and she now felt that esteem ripening into a
passion which bears a much more tender name.

As for Ralph, he had not needed to pass through any such excitements or
dangers, as Ruth and he had that day encountered, to adjust any wavering
balance of affection. He had seen enough to perfectly satisfy him that
Ruth looked upon him with no indifference; and notwithstanding the
preparations for defense and the unpleasant ideas which the prospect of
an Indian attack would be likely to excite, he sank into a pleasant
slumber, and was willingly borne off into the region of fairy dreams.

Ichabod had no such potent specific with which to drown care and
reflection. The Tuscarora, and his probable object in visiting the
valley--his mysterious manner during their brief conversation--were ever
present to his mind; and after tossing about restlessly on his bed until
nearly daylight, he arose with the resolution of seeking an explanation
of the mystery. His preparations were made in silence, and without
disturbing any of the inmates of the house. Throwing his rifle across
his arm, and fastening into a belt which he buckled around him a large
hunting-knife, he noiselessly descended into the lower part of the
building.

In the gloom which pervaded the room into which Ichabod entered, it was
some time before he discovered Sambo, who had been stationed there to
keep watch during the night. He at length espied him, sitting in a chair
before the huge fire-place, with his head bent upon his breast, in a
most unmistakable attitude of slumber. Ichabod had not forgotten the
grinning of the negro, at his exploits in fishing the day before, and he
was willing to give him a sufficient fright to punish him a little.
Advancing noiselessly towards him, he placed one hand on the top of his
woolly head, and with a rapid motion of the other imitated the circular
cutting used in the process of scalping, imprinting his thumb-nail with
sufficient force into the skin, to give the sleeping negro a distinct
impression of that disagreeable operation.

As the whole family for that night had retired to the upper part of the
house, Ichabod knew that he should be able to stifle the cries of the
negro, so that no one in the building would be alarmed.

The moment Sambo felt the impression of the thumb-nail on his skin, he
awoke with a scream of fear; but Ichabod rapidly closed his mouth with
one of his heavy hands.

"Oh gor-a-massy--massa Injin! I'm scalped. O Lor'! O Lor'!" exclaimed
the negro; and in his distress he tumbled down upon the floor under the
impression that he was about to give up the ghost.

Ichabod, who saw that he had carried the joke as far as safety to the
negro would allow, lifted him up into the chair.

"There, you black devil! go to sleep will you, when you're on duty? You
do that again, and we'll have you hung by the articles of war."

The negro, who was perfectly willing to escape a scalping for the
present, by a prospect of hanging in the future, speedily recovered from
his fright.

"O gor-a-massy, 'twas you, was it, Massa Jenkins? Know'd it was you, all
the while! Needn't think you could come possum over this nigger, any
how; I jist set down in the chair to listen a little."

Ichabod, who was amused at the assurance of the negro, advised him not
to listen in that manner any more, or he would get scalped in earnest.
Then unbarring the door, and bidding the negro to fasten it after him,
and to inform the Squire and Captain when they got up, that he should be
back in an hour or two, departed, in the direction of the shanty.

It was now nearly day-light; and the first silvery rays of the morning
were beginning to dispel the darkness. The moon had set sometime before,
and as in the midst of the forest, it was almost impossible to discern
his path, it was necessary that he should proceed with extreme caution.
Following noiselessly the rough path over which Ralph and Miss Barton
had journeyed the day before, he hoped to reach the shanty by day-light.

A walk through the forest in a new country by night, to one unaccustomed
to it, would not be likely to excite the most agreeable reflections. But
Ichabod had in other times been used to all the dangers of the
wilderness, and this morning walk had to him sufficient excitement to
make it decidedly a pleasure. As he journeyed on, the silence by which
he was surrounded was occasionally broken by the distant howl of a wolf.
Scarcely had the melancholy sound died in the echoes of the forest, ere
an owlet's shriek would be heard, sharp and piercing, by his side--and
in the next moment it would be answered by a cry that came mellowed from
the distance. Then, perhaps, the rustling of dry leaves, or the cracking
of a dry bough, indicated that some small animal was flying from his
presence. Occasionally stopping for a moment, to listen if he could not
catch sounds which would indicate the presence of something against
which it would be necessary to guard himself he continued to advance in
the direction of the hut, where on the evening before he had encountered
the Tuscarora.

This hut or shanty, the precise location of which, with reference to the
surrounding country, we have not described, was situated about a mile
below the residence of Barton, at the foot of a hill which gradually
rose on the western side to the height of one hundred and fifty or two
hundred feet. On the east, at the distance of about thirty rods, was the
river. Beyond the river were flats extending nearly half a mile in
width; while nearly opposite the hut, a small stream came from the
north-east, down a narrow valley, which gave to the valley just opposite
the hut the appearance of a much greater width than it really possessed.

Ichabod arrived at the shanty at just about the hour he had calculated
upon. The light of the morning had begun to creep through the woods,
giving to objects an uncertain appearance. He approached it cautiously,
listening if he might not hear some sound that would indicate the
presence of the Tuscarora. Not receiving any such indication, he touched
the door, which noiselessly opened, when he entered the hut. It was
entirely deserted, and every trace of its recent occupation had been
removed.

This caution on the part of the Tuscarora was strong evidence to Ichabod
that enemies were near, and he at once saw the object of it. In case the
hut should be visited, the Indian wished it to appear as if it had not
been disturbed, so that no clue could be obtained to his motions.

Ichabod, who was an adept in the Indian mode of warfare, endeavored to
discover in which direction the Tuscarora had departed. But this was no
easy undertaking. He looked cautiously about for a trail, but the ground
had been so much trodden the night before, it was a long time ere he
could discover the print of the occasional foot of the Indian, and then
only by the side of the hut where he had conversed with him. At length,
moving off to the distance of six or eight rods from the shanty, he
commenced walking about it in a circle with his eyes fastened upon the
ground. He had proceeded but a few rods in this round before he
discovered the footprint for which he was searching. The Indian, on
leaving the hut, had evidently gone in a south-easterly direction
towards the river.

The point, proceeding in the line taken by the Tuscarora, as which he
would reach the river, would be at just about a hundred rods from the
shanty. Ichabod followed, at once, in this direction; but advancing with
extreme caution. His progress was necessarily slow, as he was obliged
not only to examine the ground with great care to discover the
footprints which the light step of the Indian had made, but also to
observe if there were any signs of other Indians in the vicinity. At
length, he approached the river, the margin of which, here, was covered
with a thick growth of willows of about eight or ten feet in height,
which rendered it almost impossible to get a glimpse of the water.

He had arrived within two rods of the shore, when, at once, he lost all
traces of the Tuscarora. He was searching the ground intently to regain
the trail he had lost, when he heard a slight sound in the direction of
the river, like that made by a paddle slightly rubbing the side of a
canoe. Stooping so as to be more thoroughly hidden by the willows, which
were much thicker towards the ground, he advanced close to them, and
endeavored to get sight of the object which had attracted his attention.

It will be necessary to explain, a little more fully, the precise
situation of Ichabod with reference to the river. The line of willows we
have mentioned, was about six or eight feet in width, and run in a north
and south line, parallel with the course of the river; but immediately
below where he stood, there was a thick clump of them, which extended
some twenty feet from the apparent course of the river, directly towards
the forest; so that Ichabod was not only protected by those in front,
but he occupied a sort of cover formed by them in the sudden turn which
they took towards the west.

Carefully pulling back a few of the twigs of the willows which skirted
the river, and which impeded his observation, he now distinctly heard
the sound of a canoe approaching from below. The river was here about
six rods in width, and was of considerable depth, although the current
was strong; which latter fact accounted for the sound he had heard--some
effort being required to urge the canoe against the force of the water.

Shortly the canoe came in sight. Ichabod started as he beheld three
Indians in it, whom he at once knew to be Senecas. His first impulse was
to raise his rifle; but a moment's reflection taught him that such a
course would be unwise. In the first place, although the new government
had concluded as yet no formal treaty of peace with the hostile tribes
of the Six Nations, yet as it was tacitly understood that such a treaty
would soon be made, and all encounters had therefore been mutually
suspended it would be criminal and improper to attack them except in
self-defence, or the defence of his friends. Another reason, also came
to his aid--although it is proper to mention that it was the last one
that occurred to him--and that was, that if he succeeded in killing or
disabling one of the Indians, he would still have the remaining two upon
his hands, without possessing any adequate means of defending himself;
while it was more than probable that there were other Senecas in the
vicinity.

The Indians were moving very slowly against the current, and were
evidently in search of some object which they expected to discover along
the shore. Ichabod recognized one of these Indians as a subordinate
chief of the Seneca Nation, whom he had encountered in some of the
conflicts of the war; but who possessed a high reputation among his
people, for boldness and cunning. The name of this chief was Panther,
which he had received from the characteristics we have mentioned. As
they came in sight, the canoe was not more than twenty feet from the
position occupied by Ichabod, and he could distinctly hear the
conversation between the chief and his companions, although they
conversed in a low tone. Ichabod had learned enough of the dialect which
was common to the Six Nations, to understand at once, the purport of the
conversation. We will endeavor to translate, for the benefit of the
reader, the language of the Senecas:

"Me no understand," said Panther; "saw canoe here, somewhere. No get out
of water without seeing it."

"Canoe light; gone up river p'raps," said one of his companions.

"Canendesha got quick eye," said the other Seneca; "he cunning Injin. He
won't let scalp go, if he can help it."

A gleam of ferocity passed across the swarthy face of Panther.
"Canendesha _is_ cunning and brave. His enemies will say that; but he
has got the scalp of a Seneca, and I shall be ashamed to go back to the
wigwams of my nation, if I do not take his. The Senecas are not squaws,
to let a Tuscarora run off with their scalps."

Slowly moving against the current, the three Indians had got both out of
sight and hearing of Ichabod. Immediately behind him was a small knoll
four or five feet in height. He had commenced moving towards it with the
intention of getting a further view of the Senecas, whose business he
now understood, when his attention was attracted by a slight waving of
the willows in the centre of the clump which we have mentioned. Glancing
sharply in that direction, with his rifle raised in a position to fire
should it be necessary, he saw an Indian emerging from the willows, whom
he knew at once to be the Tuscarora.

"No get _my_ scalp this time;" said Eagle's-Wing. "I get another scalp
first;" and he pointed to a bleeding trophy of a recent encounter, with
all the pride with which a victorious general would have pointed to the
capture of the standards and munitions of war of a vanquished enemy.

"What's the meaning of all this, Eagle's-Wing?" asked Ichabod, with
evident disgust at beholding the bleeding trophy. "Why has Canendesha
dug up the hatchet, when the pale-faces and their Indian allies have
buried it?"

"I no dig it up," answered the Tuscarora, with energy; "Seneca dig it
up. I must have Panther's scalp too," and he was about following the
canoe up the river.

"Stop a moment, Eagle's-Wing," exclaimed Ichabod, who laid his strong
hand on the shoulder of his friend. "I want to know the meaning of all
this; you must not go after them Injins now. I hate a Seneca, on general
principles, as much as you do; but it won't do to go scalping round in
these days, without good reason for it. Let me know what's the matter,
and if it's anything where a friend can help with an easy conscience,
I'll rush into the speculation."

Thus urged, the Indian, after a sufficient time had elapsed to satisfy
the dignity of a chief, proceeded to relate one of those romances of the
forest, which, in general feature, may not be very dissimilar to those
of civilized life--the only difference consisting in the darker and
wilder coloring which belongs to pictures of savage life. We will not
attempt to give it in the precise words and with the manner of the
Tuscarora, although we hope to exhibit in some degree the energy with
which some portions of it were related.

It seemed that a short time before, a band of Senecas, for some purpose,
had been hanging about the villages of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras,
situated some fifty miles north of that portion of the valley about
which we are now writing. Their business did not seem to be of a warlike
nature, and frequent visits of ceremony had been exchanged between the
chiefs of the once hostile tribes: and professions were made by the
Senecas of a desire to unite once more the severed bond of union between
the different nations of the confederacy. This condition of things
existed for a few days, when it was announced by the Senecas that they
were about to depart towards their own villages. The Tuscarora, the day
before that announced for the departure of the Senecas, made them a
visit of ceremony, accompanied by his young wife, whose Indian name,
translated into English, was Singing-Bird. The visitors were treated
with the utmost distinction, although Eagle's-Wing fancied that on one
or two occasions he observed symptoms of a revival of the old feeling of
hostility towards him, which the late conflicts had engendered. The band
of Senecas consisted of about thirty-five warriors, under the command of
Panther, whose treacherous and perfidious nature Eagle's-Wing was well
acquainted with.

But the Tuscarora was brave, and if he felt, did not exhibit any
symptoms of the suspicions which occupied his mind. At length on the
approach of evening, the Tuscarora announced his departure. Panther
courteously accompanied him a short distance from the lodge, when
suddenly a number of Indians who had been secreted in ambush, sprang
upon the Tuscarora and the young squaw, and they were at once bound and
brought back to the lodge. The Indians made immediate preparations for
departure--as would be necessary, indeed, after such an act of
perfidy--for the Tuscaroras and Oneidas, whose villages were situated
but a few miles distant, would shortly suspect the treachery, and come
in search of the prisoners. Panther's motive in this double act of
treachery and inhospitality, was supposed to be a feeling of revenge
towards the Tuscarora--who had signalized himself during the war, by his
friendship for the cause of the Colonies--and also a desire to obtain
the beautiful Singing-Bird for his own wigwam.

The Senecas, with their prisoners, had marched all that night in a
southerly direction, making use of all the devices of which an Indian is
capable, to conceal the direction of their march. Near morning, the
Tuscarora, although closely guarded, had found means to escape; but
instead of retracing his steps to get assistance from his own people or
from the Oneidas, he followed on the trail of the Senecas, hoping that
he should find some means to release Singing-Bird from her captivity. He
also hoped that his brethren, discovering, as they certainly would, the
treachery that had been used towards him, would send out a party of
warriors to rescue him.

The Senecas had passed along the valley on the day when we first
introduced the Tuscarora to the reader. They had encamped on the flats,
about two miles below the shanty we have mentioned, but in a direction
much nearer the river than that taken by Ralph and Miss Barton, in their
journey of the day before.

The Tuscarora, after the party, on the night before, had left the
shanty, carefully obliterated all traces of the recent occupancy of the
hut, and proceeded towards the encampment of the Senecas. He had nearly
accomplished his purpose of delivering Singing-Bird, who was confined in
a temporary wigwam which had been erected for her, when he was
discovered by a young warrior of the Senecas. A conflict, brief but
terrible, had ensued, which resulted in the death of the Seneca; and
although this conflict had prevented the execution of his purpose, he
succeeded in bearing away the usual Indian trophy of victory.

A sufficient party had been left to guard the wigwam in which
Singing-Bird was confined, and the remainder of the Indians, almost
twenty-five in number, had set off in immediate pursuit of Eagle's-Wing.
The latter discovered, in his flight, which was along the course of the
river, a light bark canoe, which had been constructed by Guthrie; and
at once entering it, rapidly urged it up the stream. By so doing,
although the Senecas who were pursuing him by land, might pass him, yet
he could be able to secrete himself until day-light, certainly, and
leave no trail which could be followed. On the day before, in noting the
course of the river, and the means of shelter, should he find it
necessary to take to a hiding place, he had marked the clump of willows
we have mentioned, which to all appearance was merely a thicker and more
extensive growth than was elsewhere observed. But, as he now showed
Ichabod, in the centre of this clump was a small body of water connected
with the river--a sort of cove--the mouth of which was completely
guarded by a thick undergrowth of willows. To a person in a canoe on the
river, there was nothing to indicate, except with the very closest
attention, but that the line of the willows was the shore of the river.
Thus, by separating the willows, he had forced the canoe into this small
cove, where he was completely hidden from all observation, as well from
the land, as from the water.

Ichabod, who was much excited by this forest romance, at once entered
into the feelings of the Tuscarora.

"I don't blame you any, Eagle's-Wing," said he: "I don't like this
scalping business, but I s'pose you've got to fight according to your
natur'; but I'll tell you this, Eagle's-Wing,--here's my hand on a
bargain,--and I'll stick to it, whether the speculation's good or
bad--we'll rescue Singing-Bird, any way; but don't let us have any more
scalping, just now. We must deceive them rascals. I never knew a
scoundrel of a Seneca yet, but could be cheated some way or other."

Notwithstanding the interest which this conversation had excited, the
Tuscarora and Ichabod had both been intent in watching the course of the
canoe. It had now advanced some twenty-five or thirty rods up the river,
when Panther, evidently believing he had passed the spot where the
Tuscarora had been observed, now headed the canoe downstream, with the
intention of making a more diligent search.

Ichabod was about to propose a retreat towards the forest, when he
suddenly beheld in that direction a small party of Indians advancing
towards them. The intelligence was silently communicated to the
Tuscarora, when they both rapidly entered the clump of willows, and
seated themselves in the canoe. Their rifles were examined, and they
both adjusted their knives so that they would be in readiness, if it
should be necessary to use them.

The Indians who were approaching from the forest perceived Panther and
his companions in the canoe, and signs were at once made to attract
their attention. Panther observed them, and the canoe was immediately
brought to the shore, where the other Indians had now arrived. The
Senecas who had come from the woods occupied the precise spot where
Ichabod had first observed the canoe of Panther. The latter had brought
his canoe to the edge of the willows, and putting them aside, sprung
lightly through them to the land.

The Senecas were now not more than ten or fifteen feet from the hiding
place of the Tuscarora, so that their conversation could be easily
overheard.

Panther, speaking to Deersfoot, who was the leader of the small party
which had been sent to scour the forest, asked if any trace had been
found of the fugitive. Deersfoot replied that he had not been able to
find any trail.

Luckily for both Eagle's-Wing and Ichabod, the Indians who had visited
the shanty, since the latter left it in the morning, had not taken the
pains to discover the trail of the Tuscarora which Ichabod had done; and
they had also followed the same direction in approaching the river, but
without examining the ground with sufficient care, to discover the
footmarks of either Eagle's-Wing or Ichabod. The consequence was, that
now, so far as any clue could be obtained to their position from that
source, they were perfectly safe, as the Senecas, in traveling in the
same direction, had completely obscured the signs which, with a little
more care, they might have discovered.

Panther and Deersfoot now held a whispered consultation, which Ichabod,
although he reached forward as far as his safety would permit, could not
distinctly overhear. But he was quite sure that he heard something said
about the pale-faces at the cottage. He was certain from this that the
Indians would visit the house of Barton; and he was extremely anxious to
return there, so that he might communicate the intelligence as soon as
possible.

If such was the intention of the Senecas, it appeared that they did not
intend to put it in execution immediately; for after this consultation
was finished, Panther directed the Indians to follow along down the
shore, while he examined it from the canoe.

Panther returned to his canoe; while Deersfoot with his party, passing
around the cove, proceeded diligently to search for the enemy whom they
were leaving in security, at least for the present, behind them.

As soon as they had passed out of sight, Ichabod insisted that
Eagle's-Wing should accompany him to the cottage. The Indian at first
refused, from the idea that his presence there would bring danger upon
the family of Barton; but as Ichabod assured him of the certainty of
holding out the cottage against any attack which the Senecas might make
upon it, and also of the joy with which Barton and his daughter would
welcome him, he finally yielded; and leaving the canoe in its shelter,
they rapidly proceeded thitherward through the forest.



CHAPTER VIII.


    "But what talk we of these traitorly rascals, whose miseries are to be
    smiled at, their offences being so capital?"
                                                      WINTER'S TALE.


When Ichabod and the Tuscarora reached the cottage, they found the
inmates much alarmed, owing to the long absence of the former; and Ralph
was just about setting out in pursuit of him. Ichabod had perfectly
succeeded, without any effort on his part, in ingratiating himself into
the favor of all. There was something in his frank, hearty manner, that
at once gave him a place in the affections of those who were capable of
being moved by such qualities. The simplicity and earnestness with which
he pursued his schemes of pecuniary speculation, if they excited the
smiles or ridicule of those who saw their groundlessness, did not
detract from his reputation as a man of excellent judgment, on all
matters out of the range of that one idea.

In a life such as we are now depicting, which was essentially new--where
men were not living on the labors of others, or eating up the substance
which others had gained, but where each relied upon his own effort to
procure the necessaries of life--there was a general simplicity of
manners, which is seldom to be found in these latter days. Although, as
in comparison with the history of population in Europe, we are
immediately connected in point of age, with the times of which we are
writing, yet in the rapidity of our own history, the seventy years which
have intervened have a much greater signification, and seem to extend
over a length of time sufficient to give the broadest play to the
imagination. We, who are now in the prime of life, and witness a broad,
fine country, thoroughly subdued to the uses of the farmer--cities and
villages connected by the ties of commerce--splendid mansions, which
already begin to wear the venerable appearance of age, can scarcely
realize that our fathers and grandfathers were the pioneers before whose
vigorous efforts the forests disappeared, and the wilderness gave place
to spacious fields, teeming with harvests, and homes where happiness
asked no aid from wealth, and virtuous simplicity paid no tribute to
overreaching avarice.

Ichabod, there, was welcomed with a degree of warmth which he had no
reason to expect; but the excited state of mind which had been produced
by the events of the day before, and the probability of future troubles,
served to magnify the dangers which it was supposed he was likely to
encounter in his morning adventure.

The Tuscarora, too, was heartily welcomed; and the morning meal, which
had been left waiting for Ichabod, was at once served. The Tuscarora ate
but little; for, however so much disposed an Indian may be to give way
to a gluttonous disposition in "piping times of peace," when on the
war-path, he is always abstemious to a degree; and he holds in great
contempt the man who suffers his appetite to overcome his necessary care
and watchfulness. Ichabod, however, had no such scruples; and he did as
ample justice to the "good things" which were set before him, as if such
an animal as a Seneca had never existed.

Having finished their breakfast, Ichabod proceeded to communicate to
Ralph and Barton what he had witnessed, together with a brief account of
the treachery of Panther towards Eagle's-Wing. It was at once resolved
that the Tuscarora should be protected.

"For," said Barton, "if the Senecas should dare to attack the cottage,
they will find that we have ample mean of defence. But I do not think
they will do so; they will not dare so openly to violate the neutrality
which now exists."

"That tribe is proverbially treacherous," said Ralph, "and from
Eagle's-Wing's story, the chief of this party is especially so. I think
they will attack us, if they learn that the Tuscarora is sheltered here,
but I agree with you that we are bound to protect him. The cottage is in
a good state of defence, and we can defend it against twice the number
of this party.

"Yes, and were they ten times as strong," answered Barton, "the
Tuscarora should not be surrendered. His services in our behalf are too
recent to be so soon forgotten; and besides, I would protect any
individual of the Oneida or Tuscarora nation, against those perfidious
rascals."

The old man said this with an animation and energy that settled the
question.

The Tuscarora, however, did not seem to assent, willingly, to the
arrangement. With a sensitiveness and courtesy which are almost peculiar
to the Indian warrior, he endeavored to decline a shelter which would be
likely to bring Barton and his family into some peril on his behalf.

"No," he said, "let Canendesha go. He knows the woods, and the warrior
likes the woods. _There_ is plenty chance to fight--plenty good place to
hide. Warrior can't fight here--can't take any scalp here."

Sambo put his hand to his head, with a vivid remembrance of the _joke_
of the night before; and even Barton and Ralph were a good deal shocked
at the cool-blooded way in which the Tuscarora spoke of this peculiar
mode of Indian warfare. Barton felt called to enter his protest, at
once.

"Tuscarora," he said, "it isn't _Christian_ to scalp. I supposed that
the Tuscaroras and Oneidas had better notions than to do so."

"What Christian do, eh?" asked Eagle's-Wing, quietly.

"A Christian never mutilates his enemy, after he has conquered him,"
replied Barton.

"What that?" inquired the Tuscarora, with a look of incomprehension.

"A Christian warrior," said Barton, who found himself somewhat puzzled
to explain clearly, to the comprehension of the Indian, the idea he had
in his mind; "A Christian warrior _kills_ his enemy; he don't----"

"Christian _kill_ enemy, eh?" said Eagle's-Wing, quickly "What scalp
good for to enemy, after he killed? Good to warrior to show squaw--good
to show chiefs--good many scalps make great chief."

"Yes, but why not bear off some other trophy? why not take a portion of
the enemy's dress, or something of that sort?"

"Warrior can't carry away _all_:--some other Injin get some,--make _him_
great warrior too. No--no--Injin got but _one_ scalp: he 'spect to have
it taken; and if he killed, _must_ lose it."

Eagle's-Wing evidently thought he had exhausted the argument; and, in
truth, he had. It would have been utterly impossible to have held any
such controversy with him, with any prospect of success, and have
admitted the right to slay an enemy at all.

Ichabod chuckled over the victory which had been gained by his friend;
not that he justified the practice, but that he thought it would be
utterly useless to endeavor to improve an Indian, in that respect. It
was a practice which had been taught in infancy, and become an instinct;
for the warrior having slain the enemy, secures the scalp, or his
victory is but half won.

Just at this point in the conversation, Sambo, who had left the house a
few moments before, came running in, saying that Guthrie had just come
in sight, and was approaching the cottage. By a sort of instinctive
feeling, the whole party, except the Tuscarora, who did not seem to be
familiar with the name, looked as if they expected some new scene in
this forest drama was about to be enacted. But with an appearance of
unconcern, they prepared to receive him; and in a moment more, the door
opened, and the heavy, coarse figure of Guthrie was in the room.

As he opened the door, the Tuscarora made a sudden movement of surprise,
which Ichabod saw, although it was unnoticed by either Ralph or Barton.
The Indian immediately resumed his appearance of composure, and looked
at the visitor with an air of indifference; but Ichabod saw that
Eagle's-Wing had made some discovery which might be of extreme
importance in the events which were likely to occur. As has been before
remarked, Ichabod had a distinct impression that he had before seen
Guthrie's face--but _where_, he could not recollect. With a feeling of
distrust, which the sudden gesture of the Tuscarora he served to
enliven, he now waited to earn the object of the visit. "Good day,
Guthrie," said Barton, "what news do you bring from below."

"O nothing in particular, Squire; but I thought I'd come up and tell you
that there's a large lot of Injins round."

"I suppose there is nothing very singular in that," answered Barton, "so
long as this may be considered Indian territory, as yet."

Now, Barton had always looked upon Guthrie with a feeling of distrust;
and for this reason he thought it best to appear ignorant of facts he
well knew, as by so doing, he might better ascertain the true object of
his visit.

He therefore continued: "I am a kind of tenant at sufferance of the
Oneidas here, myself; and I certainly cannot object to their visiting
their own territory."

"But these Injins arn't Oneidas, Squire. If I know one Maqua from
another, they're Senecas," said Guthrie.

"Senecas!" exclaimed Barton, with the appearance of surprise, "what
business have the Senecas here, I should like to know?"

"I ra'ally can't tell, Squire, what kind of business they did _come_ on
out here; but they've got into a raging passion since they've been here,
and I am ra'ally afeard of trouble."

"They have had no occasion, certainly, for anger with me or mine, and I
cannot suppose that they intend me any injury."

"Well, the truth is, Squire, they say that this Injin you've got here,"
pointing to the Tuscarora, "has got the scalp of one of their young men;
and they declare they'll take him, any way; if they can't by fair means,
they will by foul."

"You do not think they would dare to attack the cottage for the purpose
of capturing him?" said Barton.

"There's no telling what them Senecas _won't_ do, Squire, when they're
angry; but I rather reckon they will, if they know you've got him here."

"What would you advise me to do, Guthrie? You understand the ways of
this nation pretty well."

"As for understanding the ways of the Senecas, in particular Squire,"
answered Guthrie somewhat hastily, "I can't say that I do; but a man
can't live in the woods as long as I have, without knowing _something_
about the Injins in general: but as for what you'd better do, I ra'ally
can't say. But the way it looks to me is, that if you want your
buildings burnt down, and may be yourself and family taken prisoners,
you'll keep him; but if you don't, you'll send him away. But it arn't
for me to say."

"Now, Guthrie," said Barton, with the appearance of doubt. "I'll put it
to you as a question of honor, under all the difficulties you mention:
this Tuscarora saved my daughter's life, yesterday; now, can I, as an
honorable man, surrender him to his enemies?"

"Well Squire, that _is_ a pretty _tight_ spot, that's sartin," said
Guthrie. "But you see, if he did save Miss Barton's life yesterday, it
is no reason why he should put it in danger to-day; and yours and your
guests besides."

"Why, Guthrie, you talk as if I couldn't defend myself here, if I really
tried. You seem to take it for granted, that if we _are_ attacked,
_they_ must conquer. I am not so certain of that."

"I know," said Guthrie, "you've got a pretty tolerably strong fix of a
place here; but I _do_ reckon you couldn't hold out much of a siege.
I've seen stronger places taken by fewer Indians, in my day."

"Why, how many Senecas do you think there are, Guthrie?" asked Barton.

"Well, I ra'ally don't know; but I should think I'd seen pretty nigh a
hundred on 'em."

Barton smiled. The object of Guthrie was now perfectly evident. For some
reason, he had endeavored to induce Barton to surrender the Tuscarora,
and had thus magnified the force of the enemy, and cast doubt upon the
ability of Barton to maintain the defence of his dwelling.

Ralph, although very indignant at this dishonest intention of Guthrie,
maintained the appearance of composure. The Tuscarora one would have
judged to have been totally devoid of the sense of hearing; for no
motion or gesture betrayed that he supposed himself the subject of this
back-woods diplomacy. As for Ichabod, he had with difficulty restrained
himself, so far, from breaking into the conversation. Now, however, he
suddenly broke in by advancing towards Guthrie, and exclaiming--

"I say, _stranger_, you can't be very good at reckoning, for a man who
has lived all his life in the woods, and ought to know the number of his
enemies at first sight. _Only_ thirty-five, counting that red _reptile_
that lost his scalp. And as for them thirty-five, if they want
Eagle's-Wing, all they've got to do, you see, is to come and take him."

Guthrie, who saw at once that his plan had failed, and that Barton knew
accurately the number of the Senecas with whom, at the worst, he would
have to contend, now changed his tactics.

"Well, friend," said he to Ichabod, "you might have been a little more
civil, even if you _are_ right, and I'm wrong. I didn't count 'em--I
only saw 'em a long ways off, through the woods, and might be mistaken,
you know. But," said he, with a manner of perfect frankness, turning to
Barton, "whether there's thirty-five or a hundred, I don't know nor
don't care, so far as I'm concerned; if you say fight, here I am,
Squire, and I'll help you out with it, any way."

Barton suffered his feelings of distrust to be overcome at once.
Grasping Guthrie's hand, he exclaimed--"That's right, friend. You and I
are neighbors here, and there's no reason why we shouldn't be friends,
at such a time as this. The Tuscarora has been deeply wronged by these
Senecas, and if he has revenged himself, it's Indian law, and we can't
blame him for it. No--I can't surrender him; and if they want to fight
about it, why we'll get out of it the best we can."

Barton, who was extremely gratified at this addition to the force of the
cottage, at once led Guthrie about the building and grounds, to show him
his preparations for defence. Ralph was not at all pleased with the
manner of Guthrie; but as he knew that Baron was much better acquainted
with him than he pretended to be, he could not object to receiving the
aid which was so frankly offered, and which might be needed. After the
departure of Barton and his new ally, Ichabod and the Tuscarora fell
into an earnest but whispered conversation, and Ralph left the apartment
in search of Miss Baron, whom he had not seen since the events of the
day before.

"I say, Eagle's-Wing," said Ichabod, "I don't half like this business.
That stranger seems to be a kind of white Seneca. I never knew an honest
man who was afraid to look another honest man in the eye. I don't like
him."

"You guess right: I know him. He King George's man," said the Tuscarora,
quietly.

"What! a Tory!" exclaimed Ichabod. "How do you know that, Eagle's-Wing?"

"Know? Know it sartin. Saw him down here on war-path. He fought with
Senecas. No recollect?"

"That's it. Heavens and airth! why didn't I think of that? Here I've
been trying for two days to remember where I've seen that hang-dog face.
He was one of the leaders of them venomous _reptiles_. Nothing can beat
an Indian for recollecting things."

"Indians got long memory. Know enemy always. Don't forget him."

"I say, Eagle's-Wing, do you think the sarpent recollects _us_?"

"Yes--sartin. He recollect you--saw that. Recollect _me_, too. Most got
his scalp: he recollect that, well, I know."

"How's that, Eagle's-Wing?"

"When Seneca run, he run too. I shoot, and he fell. I run to get
scalp--but Seneca warriors turn--too many of 'em--and they take him off.
He 'members that, sartin."

"Now Eagle's-Wing, that sarpent has come here to practise some deviltry
on us. He's fairly cheated the old Squire, and I s'pose he thinks he has
cheated us, too. What shall we do with him?"

"I know what _I_ do," and he significantly pointed to his knife.

"No--that won't do at all. You see, if he is in league with them
Senecas, there's only _one_ way that he can help _them_ and injure _us_.
Being inside here, he reckons he can open the door to 'em."

"Yes, that's the way--no other way."

"Well, you see, Eagle's-Wing, we'll let him play his game out, but we'll
try and be there to see it done. Now, mind, Eagle's-Wing, until that
does happen, we mustn't seem to know him at all."

"Yes, yes; make b'lieve friend--that the way."

"I reckon we'll hear from them reptiles to-night; and if we do,
Eagle's-Wing, we'll thin out their numbers a little, and then to-morrow
for the Singing-Bird. You'll see her again to-morrow, and no mistake."

A melancholy smile passed over the countenance of the Tuscarora. It was
immediately followed by such a gleam of deadly ferocity, that even
Ichabod started.

"Panther got lying tongue--I tear it out. Panther got bad heart--I tear
it out. He take _my_ squaw--he never see his own squaw again."

"I don't blame you. Eagle's-Wing, for your feelings towards that
reptile; but I do wish you Injins could learn a civilized mode of
warfare. I shan't argue with you: I know better than that; but I ra'ally
don't see how any Injin of your qualities can have such a strong desire
for tearing scalps off from all his enemies. But it's Injin natur' I
s'pose. When white people offer bounties for such things, I don't much
blame Injins for speculating in that kind of article: but to do it when
nothing's to be made out of it, beats my comprehension."

But we must leave Ichabod and the Tuscarora to their conversation, while
we follow Ralph to the interview which he sought with Miss Barton.

Proceeding directly towards the front portion of the house, and entering
a room which was fitted up tastefully, and adapted to "state occasions,"
if we may be permitted to apply that term to an apartment designed as
well for a family room as a parlor, he found Ruth, who seemed to be yet
suffering from the agitation and excitement of the day before.

"I am happy to see you, Miss Barton," said Ralph, "suffering no more
from your perilous night-ride. That was an adventure which, I think, we
shall remember."

"I shall not forget it very soon, at least," she replied. "I think you
must confess that I showed you more of the peculiarities of forest life,
than was arranged beforehand."

"Had you advertised me of precisely what we saw, we might have been a
little better prepared," said Ralph: "but that adventure would make an
excellent theme for a ballad, in the German style. It possessed
sufficient of the mysterious and terrible for that purpose, certainly."

"You have visited us, Captain Weston," said Ruth, with seriousness, "in
an unfortunate time for yourself. I hear that we are threatened with an
attack from Indians."

"Do not say unfortunate. Miss Barton: rather, I deem myself most
fortunate, in happening to be here at this time, should the attack which
is threatened be made."

"I hope it may not be. O! it is horrible to think that this home I love
so much should be the scene of such a conflict."

"I think that in no event can our safely be endangered," replied Ralph;
"and that we have nothing to fear from the attack, should it be made. We
have abundant means of defence, and the enemy is not strong enough, with
the stout hearts we shall have within these walls, to force the cottage.
But I can sympathize with your sorrow, Miss Barton. God has made this
country too beautiful to be marred by the strife of men."

"It is a terrible blot on human nature," said Ruth, "that men dwelling
so far from society, in the midst of the forest, where every object
should excite sacred emotions, can engage in these unholy conflicts with
each other. It is a proof--a strong proof, of the wretched condition of
poor human nature, unassisted by the light that shines from above."

"Such is the nature of men," replied Ralph, "and surely perhaps, it will
always be. The first men were warriors, and if ignorance and brutality
always exist, the last men will be warriors, also. The whole history of
the world has been written with the sword--places most sacred have been
profaned by the bloody stains of human passion, and themes the most holy
have given rise to the deadliest hatred and contention. We cannot expect
that men educated in the ways of the forest, shall be wiser than those
who boast of their civilization."

"But is there no way," asked Ruth, "in which this conflict can be
avoided?"

"None, perhaps, that would be honorable." Ralph then gave an account of
the wrongs which the Tuscarora had received from the Senecas, together
with the capture of his squaw. Ruth acknowledged the impossibility of
complying with the demands of the Senecas. Her heart at once sympathised
with the wrongs of the Tuscarora; and the picture which her imagination
drew of Singing-Bird in captivity in the hands of those unrelenting and
unmerciful enemies, brought tears to her eyes.

"No, no," said she; "the Tuscarora has been our friend, and we cannot
deliver him to his enemies. In such a cause, I could be a soldier
myself."

Although Ruth had been educated to a far different manner of life, and
in former times had enjoyed many of the luxuries which would then be
afforded by persons in "comfortable" circumstances, yet she possessed
sufficient of that heroism of character which the times had engendered,
to enable her to throw off the habits of early education, and adopt the
character of fortitude and patience in the midst of suffering, peculiar
to the class of women in the station in which she then moved. Thus,
although she viewed with dread the prospect of a strife with the savage
and unmerciful enemies by whom they were then about to be attacked, she
did not suffer herself to yield to the terrors which such an idea would
be likely to inspire. The women of the times of the Revolution lost none
of their feminine graces, by bearing with fortitude the perils and
dangers by which they were encompassed.

Ralph gazed with admiration on that beautiful countenance, thus excited
by a tender sympathy for the sufferings which she felt must be endured
by the Tuscarora and Singing-Bird.

"With such soldiers," said he, "we could not but succeed; but we shall
scarcely call upon Miss Barton to fall into the ranks, at present. We
shall only do that as a last resort."

At this moment, their conversation was interrupted by the appearance of
Sambo, who informed Ralph that Mr. Barton desired his presence
immediately. Ralph at once obeyed the summons; but its object we shall
leave to the next chapter to unfold.



CHAPTER IX.


   "Here, Persian, tell thy embassy! Repeat
    That, to obtain my friendship, Asia's prince
    To me hath proffered sovereignty of Greece."
                                        LEONIDAS.


Ralph found Mr. Barton and his companions in consultation upon some
subject of apparent importance, from the anxiety which was manifested in
their countenances. Two Indians of the Seneca Nation were seen
approaching the cottage; and although as they were unarmed, no immediate
hostility could be expected, yet it was evident they were coming upon
some errand relative to the shelter of the Tuscarora. If such were the
case, this departure from the ordinary caution of the Indian, might be
evidence either of the desire not to come in conflict with the whites,
or of a confidence, on their part, in their ability to succeed in any
attack they might make upon the dwelling.

It was decided that Ralph, the Tuscarora and Gauthrie should remain in
the cottage, while Barton and Ichabod should meet the approaching
Indians, and ascertain the nature of their errand. With this view the
two latter proceeded to a small grove which had been left uncleared,
except of the underbrush, a short distance south of the dwelling.

The two Indians approached with an apparent feeling of security. They
were to all appearance unarmed; and they exhibited a manner of
confidence and amity intended to convince the persons with whom they
were to deal, that their mission was a friendly one. One of these
Indians was Deersfoot, whom we have already mentioned; the other was of
a much less warlike appearance. He was small of stature, with a quick,
cunning glance, and was celebrated among his people for oratory. His
name was Snake-tongue,--given to him evidently, by reason of greater
powers with his eloquence than with his rifle.

When they had approached within fifteen or twenty feet of the position
occupied by Barton and Ichabod, the former advanced towards them with a
smile, and welcomed them to his cottage.

"It is not often," said he, "that I have an opportunity to honor the
young warriors of the Senecas. It is seldom that they visit the country
of the Oneidas, in time of peace."

"The Oneidas and Senecas are brothers," said Deersfoot. "A cloud
sometimes has passed between them; but there is no cloud now. They are
brothers still. The young men of the Senecas came to look on the hunting
grounds of their brothers."

"The country of the Senecas is not a good country, then?" asked Barton,
"I had heard that the Senecas dwelt in a garden--that they owned large
lakes that are filled with fish, and forests that are filled with deer."

"My father," said Deersfoot, in deference to the grey hairs of Barton,
"my father tells the truth; such is the country of the Senecas. The
Great Spirit has given us a good land to dwell in. He has given us lakes
that are full of fish, and forests that are full of deer. The Senecas
and Oneidas belong to the same nation;--together they conquered the
Sennape; and the Senecas are proud when they hear of the fame of the
Oneidas. Why should we not love to look upon the country of our
brothers?"

"I am glad that you like to look upon this valley, Deersfoot. I am glad
to hear that there is no cloud between the Senecas and the Oneidas. It
would not be well if there were."

Barton had carefully abstained from touching the point which was likely
to be that of controversy. It never comports with the dignity of an
Indian to show haste or curiosity; and he knew that he could maintain a
better position on the question which would probably arise, if he
suffered them, without any manifestation of curiosity on his part, to
unfold the nature of their errand.

"The Five Nations were once a great nation," said Deersfoot, "they could
travel a great many day's journey and not leave their country: the wolf
that howled amidst the snows north of the great lakes, they had a right
to hunt; and to gather fruits from under the warm sun of the south. But
it is not so now. We are now weak; and the pale-faces are strong. The
Great Spirit has willed it, and we cannot help it: we would help it if
we could. But it does no good to talk. We grow weaker every day."

"The Great Spirit," said Barton, "has not been so unkind to the Five
Nations. The warriors of the Five Nations have not always been wise. If
they had listened to the words of the Christian teachers who have talked
to them, they would have been a stronger nation. But they dug up the
hatchet against their brothers of the Colonies, and they lost a great
many warriors."

A gleam of deadly ferocity passed over the face of Deersfoot for a
moment, and his wild, dark eyes shot forth glances of hatred--but in an
instant he recovered his composure.

"It may be that my father speaks wise. The Indians know but a little,
and may be they were wrong. They lost a great many warriors, it is true.
But they pleased the eyes of their old men and squaws with many scalps
of their enemies. A white man followed every warrior of the Senecas, in
the path that leads to the happy hunting grounds of the Great Spirit."

The tone in which this reply of the Seneca was uttered was sufficiently
startling. Ichabod stretched his tall form as if he was about to intrude
upon the conversation, but at a gesture from Barton, he remained
silent.

Deersfoot, after a moment's silence, continued: "We have come to have a
talk with the pale-faces of the cottage. The Senecas have not got forked
tongues. They have buried the hatchet with the Yengeese, and with the
Colony pale-faces. They would not dig it up again. Let my brothers hear
and be wise. Snake-tongue will speak."

With these words, he stepped back, with dignity, while Snake-tongue,
after a few moment's hesitation, advanced towards Barton. In a low but
musical voice, he commenced his harangue:

"My name is Snake-tongue. It is a good name for friends to bear--it is a
bad name for enemies. The warrior is known by his name.

"Deersfoot has said that the Five Nations are weak, and that the
pale-faces are strong. It may be so; I cannot dispute it. I have seen
the Yankee pale-faces fight the Great King over the water for seven
winters and summers--they must be strong. Deersfoot has spoken the
truth.

"Deersfoot has said that the Five Nations grow weaker every day. We are
now _Six_ Nations, and we are weaker than when we were _Five_ Nations.
Why is it so? The pale-faces have slain a great many of our warriors;
but that has not made us weak. It is because the Great Spirit has turned
the hearts of his red children against each other. If a pale-face slays
an Indian, it is wrong; but it is not so wrong as it is for one Indian
to slay another. The sad spirit of the dead warrior goes on its path,
and complains to the Great Spirit, that its enemy does not follow him,
and the Great Spirit is angry. We must shed the blood of the murderer.
It is the law of the Great Spirit, and it is a good law.

"The Yankee pale-faces are strong, when they come together in armies;
but are they strong _here_? My father is away from his friends in the
settlements; he has but two or three pale-paces with him. Are two or
three pale-faces a match for the young warriors of the Senecas? Let my
father pause and think."

"There are five of us, Snake-tongue, with plenty of rifles and powder;
and good walls behind which we can stand and pick out our enemies," said
Barton, who saw the tendency of this harangue, and who was disposed to
meet the issue half way.

Snake-tongue continued, cold and impassive. "My father speaks the truth.
There are _five_ warriors to defend the cottage of the pale-faces. There
are _four_ pale-faces, and a red man. But we have buried the hatchet
with the pale-faces:--we are no longer enemies, but friends. We do not
care whether there are five warriors or twenty in the cottage. We are at
peace with the pale-faces. It makes no difference to us. We are
friends."

"Why then, does Snake-tongue make us this long war-speech? It is true
that we are friends; let us continue so."

"My father speaks wise. Let us remain friends. There is no cloud between
us and the pale-faces, that the pale-faces cannot put away. A young
warrior of the Senecas has been killed, and his enemy has got his scalp.
Did the pale-faces do that? No,--the pale-faces do not take scalps; but
an Indian always does; a scalp looks good in his eyes. We would find the
scalp of our young warrior! Where is it?"

"I am sorry," answered Barton, "if any of your young men have been
killed; but Snake-tongue speaks true; he was not killed by the
pale-faces. I do not know where his scalp is."

"But we know where it is," continued Snake-tongue. "It is hid beneath
the belt of Canendesha. He has hid it from his friends; but he cannot
hide it from the Senecas. Their eyes are sharp; they can see an enemy a
great way off,--and they can find his trail if he hides. Canendesha is
in the cottage of the pale-faces. We are at peace with the pale-faces;
but we want the Tuscarora. He has killed a warrior of the Senecas. The
Tuscarora must die. It is Indian law. It was taught us by the Great
Spirit that we must punish our enemies. We want the Tuscarora."

The Indian paused, as if waiting for a reply. Barton answered--

"My brother has a bad tradition; it is not true; the Great Spirit does
not teach the red men to punish their enemies. The red men have not
heard right; their ears have been shut. The Great Spirit has said that
the red men must love their enemies."

"I have heard," answered Snake-tongue, "of such a tradition among the
pale-faces. It must be a false tradition, for the pale-faces do not
believe it; _they_ punish their enemies. _We_ believe in _our_
tradition. It is a good one."

"I do not deny," said Barton, who saw that the conversation must be
terminated, "but that the Tuscarora may have killed one of your young
men; but did not the young Seneca try to prevent him from getting his
squaw? We have heard that Panther has stolen the squaw of the Tuscarora,
and will not give her up. Is that right? Do red men treat their brothers
so, and expect that their hearts will be filled with peace?"

"The young squaw," answered Snake-tongue, quietly, "is in the wigwam of
Panther; she can go if she does not wish to stay there; but her eyes
like to look on Panther. He is a great warrior."

Ichabod could be restrained no longer. This slander of Singing-Bird was
more than his friendship for Eagle's-Wing, would allow him to bear.

"See here, Snake-tongue," said he, "you're a sort of ambassador here,
and its again all law to make war on that sort of people; but I don't
know of any law to prevent my telling you that you lie like a rascally
Seneca."

Both Deersfoot and Snake-tongue started at this defiant speech of
Ichabod; and at the first impulse put their hands to their belts as if
to grasp their knives; but in a moment they resumed their composure,
and seemed to await the reply of Barton, who said, at length:

"We have heard your demand, Snake-tongue. The Tuscarora is our friend.
He has been wronged by the Senecas. We do not believe that Singing-Bird
wishes to remain in the wigwam of Panther. It cannot be true, although
Panther _is_ a great warrior. We cannot give up the Tuscarora. He is our
friend."

"And furthermore," said Ichabod, "we demand that you should release
Singing-Bird; and tell your lying chief, that if she isn't sent along
instanter, we'll come after her. I've fou't Senecas before."

"My brothers have spoken," said Snake-tongue, quietly; "I will give
their words to the warriors of the Senecas. Perhaps they have spoken
wise. It is not for me to say."

Thus saying, the two Indians withdrew from the grove, as quietly as they
had entered it.

"The lying reptile!" exclaimed Ichabod. "To insinuate that Singing-Bird
has a liking for that rascally red-skin. If he hadn't been an
ambassador, I would have made him swallow his words on the spot."

"The Seneca lied, undoubtedly," said Barton; "but we have now got to
defend ourselves. The language and tone of Snake-tongue implied nothing
less. I am getting very much interested in the history of Singing-Bird,
myself; and we will find some means, in case we succeed in repelling the
Senecas from the cottage, to aid the Tuscarora in rescuing her."

"That's right, Squire," said Ichabod. "Eagle's-Wing and I have sworn to
do that; and Providence permitting, I'll have a chance at that
foul-mouthed rascal yet."

Barton and Ichabod now entered the house, where they found Guthrie and
the Tuscarora engaged, apparently, in a friendly conversation. The
result of the "talk" was communicated; and although it was agreed that
the Senecas would make an attack upon the cottage, yet no one seemed to
think that they would immediately do so. The arrangements for defence
were now, however, all made, and the duty of each individual assigned,
so far as it could now be done. When this was accomplished, the party
separated; each, however, taking it upon himself to watch warily for the
first signs of the attack.

Ralph walked out into the grove, where the recent conversation with the
Senecas had taken place. He felt much anxiety for the result of the
coming conflict; not that he really feared that the Indians would
succeed; but he well knew that the issues of such encounters are never
certain. Perhaps his warm attachment towards Ruth had much to do with
this feeling; for in the event of failure in defending the cottage, were
the Indians disposed to reap all the advantages of their success, as
would probably be the case, in the heat of their excitement and
passion, the situation of Ruth would be extremely dangerous. He would
have been much better satisfied at that moment, were Ruth at the
settlements, or in some place of safety, where she would not be exposed
to the accidents of the impending encounter. But it was now too late to
allow of her flight, even if it had been deemed advisable. While engaged
in these thoughts, Ruth, who had observed him from the cottage,
approached him, and laid her light hand on his shoulder. Ralph started,
but smiled as he recognized Miss Barton.

"How now, Sir Knight?" said Ruth, "you do not seem to be occupied with
very pleasant thoughts."

"They ought to be of a pleasant nature, certainly," said Ralph, "for I
was thinking of no one else than Miss Barton."

"I am sorry," said Ruth, "if so unworthy a person as I can give Captain
Weston such a serious countenance."

"Miss Barton, I do not wish to say anything to alarm you, but all our
exertions will be required to defence our lives to-night."

"Is it certain we are to be attacked so soon?" inquired Ruth, with a
slight look of alarm.

"I think there can be no doubt of it; and at such a time with so few
defenders, and so unmerciful and vigilant an enemy, although we have not
much cause to fear defeat, yet that result is possible."

"I did not think our situation was so serious," said Ruth, now evidently
alarmed. "What _can_ we do?"

"Nothing, but use such means as we possess for defending ourselves; and
I think we shall succeed in doing so. But," said Ralph, with a slight
embarrassment, "at such a time as this--when we are threatened with such
a danger, it is not surprising that you should have found me thinking
earnestly upon the situation of one so dear to me as yourself. Let me,
Ruth," he continued, taking her hand, which reposed not unwillingly in
his own, "tell you how much I esteem and love you, and that my whole
happiness now depends upon you."

He paused, and whatever might have been the answer of Ruth, he saw that
in her countenance which informed him that his wishes were well
understood and answered.

In that fond dream of happiness in which all present danger was
forgotten, they wandered through the grove, filled with those delightful
thoughts and fancies, which are only born in the sweet hopes of requited
affection.

The shades of approaching evening were creeping slowly over the valley.
The long shadows of the trees fell upon the cleared meadow-land, the
perfect picture of repose. Never sank a brighter sun among more lovely
clouds--crimsoned in deep curtained folds, with golden edges, giving
full promise of a fair to-morrow.

"It is a beautiful evening," said Ralph: "one of those hours when fair
hopes are fairer; and the natural world seems to reflect the happiness
of our souls. May this not be a promise for the future?"

"May it be so," answered Ruth; "but what events may take place, before
that sun rises again!"

"Let us not fear too much," said Ralph. "We must meet the danger
bravely, and when it is over, dear Ruth, we shall be none the less happy
that it is past."

"Hush!" whispered Ruth suddenly, "look there!" pointing to a grove of
small trees but eight or ten rods distant. Ralph looked in the direction
indicated by her, and he beheld three Indians who were slowly creeping
towards them. The Indians, who had no cover behind which to advance, had
necessarily exposed their persons, and in this manner had progressed
unobserved for a number of rods. They now saw that they were discovered,
and rising with a wild whoop, rushed towards them.

Ralph and Miss Barton were just about equi-distant from the Indians and
the cottage. Impulsively, Ralph, who was entirely without means of
defence, caught Ruth in his arms and ran towards the building. The
Indians pursued, and rapidly gained upon the fugitives. One of the
pursuers far outsped the others, and had already reached within twenty
feet of Ralph, when the discharge of a rifle was heard, and he leaped
with a yell into the air and fell struggling upon the ground. In another
moment Ralph and his precious burden were inside the door; but as it
closed, the tomahawk of another pursuer quivered in the post beside it.
Instantly the grove was filled with enemies.



CHAPTER X.


   "That wicked band of villeins fresh begon,
    That castle to assaile on every side,
    And lay strong siege about it far and wyde."
                          CHAUCER--FAERIE QUEENE.


This sudden appearance of the Indians indicated that they could not have
been far distant at the time of the interview between Deersfoot and
Snake-tongue on the one side, and Barton and Ichabod on the other; and
that upon the refusal of the latter to surrender the Tuscarora, they had
at once resolved upon an attack upon the cottage.

On the entrance of Ralph and Miss Barton, they, together with Barton and
the negro, who had remained below, at once proceeded to the upper
apartment, where they found the remainder of the party stationed at the
loop-holes on the south side of the house. Ichabod was loading his
rifle.

"I have no particular reason to boast of uncommon accuracy with the
rifle," said the latter as Ralph entered the room, "but I'm most always
good for a Seneca. That rascal almost had his hand in your hair,
Captin."

"It was a good service, Ichabod, and I hope to live to thank you for
it," said Ralph, grasping his hand.

"Don't say anything about it, Captin: Eagle's-Wing would have done it in
the hundredth part of a second more. It's only one reptile the less."

The cottage, the precise situation of which, with reference to
surrounding objects, we have not yet described, was situated upon a
slight eminence, which rose gradually westward from the small lake or
pond, which we have before mentioned. Behind the cottage, on the west,
the land gradually rose, spreading out into a wide plain with a rolling
surface. On the north, however, at the distance of only three or four
rods, there was a steep descent into a ravine some forty feet in depth,
in the bottom of which flowed a small brook. This ravine had not yet
been cleared, and the forest approached, consequently, to within four
rods of the cottage. On the south, the land gradually sloped downwards
for four or five rods, while at about twice that distance was left
standing a grove of small trees of two or three acres in extent. It was
in this grove that the Senecas were first discovered.

It was obvious that the most dangerous point of attack was from the
north; as in that direction, the forest approached so near the cottage,
that the Senecas might obtain a cover behind the trees, and should such
be their object, find some means to set the buildings on fire.

The Senecas, however, still remained in the grove, and did not show any
immediate intention of proceeding to the attack. They were gathered
together, while Panther, who was easily recognized by Ichabod, was
haranguing them; but although his words could not be heard, there was no
difficulty in understanding from his manner and gestures that he was
explaining the mode in which the attack should be made.

"I reckon," said Ichabod, "that I might easily pick off that varmint,
even at this distance."

"No," said Ralph, "we are on the defensive, and we will not commence the
fight. If they make an attack upon us, then we will all try to do our
duty."

"I fancy it was something pretty nigh an attack," said Ichabod, "that
them rascals just made on you and Miss Ruth. But, perhaps, it's all
right, Captin. That account was settled on the spot; and may be it won't
be agin law for us to wait until the scoundrels open another."

A small room had been constructed near the centre of the main apartment,
supposed to be entirely secure from any stray bullet that might chance
to enter the loop-holes.

Into this small apartment, Ruth had entered, on reaching the upper part
of the house: but now she made her appearance among the little garrison,
with a great confidence, and a determination to make herself of service
if possible.

"Do not remain here, Ruth," said Barton: "you may be exposed to danger
from some stray shot. It would be much better that you should be
entirely out of danger."

This request was seconded by Ralph, with a look of earnest entreaty.

"I do not fear any danger," answered Ruth. "I can certainly be of no
service shut up in that narrow cell; while I may possibly be of some
little service to you here. I can act as a lookout, you know," advancing
quietly to one of the loop-holes.

"No good for squaw to be in fight," said the Tuscarora, quietly; "squaw
hide when warriors fight, that best for squaw."

"I am not going to shoulder a rifle, Eagle's-Wing, without it is
absolutely necessary; but I want to look on, and see how warriors can
fight."

It was evident that Ruth was not to be dissuaded from sharing the
danger, if danger there was, to which the defenders of the cottage were
exposed. Ichabod, who during this brief conversation had remained
watching intently the motions of the enemy, now exclaimed:

"There are twenty of the red varmints, sartin, but they don't seem very
anxious to begin the fight. What d'ye think they mean to do,
Eagle's-Wing?"

"Mean to 'tack cottage; that what they mean: wait till dark, then see
what they do."

"There's some motion among 'em now," said Ichabod, "there go the
_reptiles_, creeping off through the wood. They're diving now, but
they'll come up again somewhere, I reckon."

"I rather calculate," said Guthrie, who had thus far remained silent,
"that they're going to give up the business as a bad job. That's the
best thing they can do, any way."

"Warriors mean to surround cottage. That what it means," said the
Tuscarora. "Pretty soon hear 'em over there,--hear 'em all round--see
'em, may be, if watch."

Night was now rapidly approaching, and surrounding objects had already
become indistinct. One by one, the stars made their appearance, glaring
with the peculiar brightness of an autumn evening. Yet the darkness
would soon be sufficient to prevent any observation of the motions of
the enemy, unless they should make their appearance within the little
clearing that surrounded the cottage. There would yet be three hours
before the moon would rise; and during that time the very closest
observation would be necessary to detect the whereabouts of the savages,
except as their position should be manifested by an open attack.

Ichabod and the Tuscarora now took a position upon the north side of the
apartment, while Ralph and Barton remained at the south side. Sambo was
stationed on the west, towards the cattle enclosure, while Guthrie was
directed to keep a look-out on the east or front of the house. This was
apparently the least dangerous point, as the land on this side was
partially cleared quite to the shore of the pond.

But a few minutes had elapsed after this disposition of the forces of
the little garrison, before it was evident to the Tuscarora and Ichabod,
that a portion of the enemy had taken a position in the ravine. The
night was so still, that the slightest sound could be heard from that
distance, and the Tuscarora quietly called the attention of his
companion to a slight snapping of dry underbrush which had been trodden
upon by the foot of some careless Seneca; but, as if to deceive the
defenders of the cottage as to the point from which the main attack
would be made, suddenly, and as if by one impulse, the silence was
broken by the yells of the enemy from all directions, and a general
discharge of their guns at the building.

"Yell and fire, you infernal reptiles," said Ichabod. "They must have
plenty of ammunition, to waste it in that style."

"That done to cheat," said Eagle's-Wing.

"Well, they've commenced the skrimmage, any way," said Ichabod, "and
now, let one of them miserable creturs get before this rifle of mine and
I'll settle an account with him."

"We shall be over nice in our scruples," said Ralph, "if we hesitate any
longer to treat them as enemies. They have certainly committed an overt
act of war; and duty to ourselves will no longer allow us to remain
inactive."

Since the first demonstration on the part of the Senecas, no other had
been made; and the silence without was as perfect and uninterrupted as
though no enemy surrounded them.

It was obvious that the two most serious dangers to be encountered, were
past--an attempt on the part of the enemy to get under cover of the
walls of the cottage, where they would be in a great measure protected
from the rifles inside, and where they might find means to force the
doors; and, secondly, an attempt to set fire to the buildings.

Any object of the size of a man could readily, notwithstanding the
darkness, be seen at the distance of four or five rods; and the garrison
were certain, thus far, that no enemy had approached within that
distance. Ichabod and the Tuscarora, as has been observed, were
stationed upon the north side of the apartment. The position which had
been chosen by the former, was near to the north-eastern angle, whence,
with a little trouble, he might also keep a look-out on the east. This
position had been chosen by him, owing to the distrust he entertained of
the fidelity of Guthrie; for there was nothing in the conduct of the
latter since his return to the cottage, that had been calculated to
dispel any suspicions which Ichabod had entertained of his real
character. He had taken little or no part in the plans of defence, and
had maintained a moody silence that had rarely been broken, except by
brief answers to such questions as were put to him.

"I say, friend," said Ichabod, addressing Guthrie, "you keep a sharp
look-out over there, don't you?"

"I've been a woodsman all my life, I reckon," answered the latter, "and
I don't need any instructions on that point."

"I don't suppose you do, friend," said Ichabod, "and least of all from
me. I can't say as _I_ have been a regular woodsman, although I've had a
little experience in the way of savages. A man who has spent a few years
fighting for his life, learns, after a while, to know when it's in
danger; but can you guess what that black lump may be, out yonder--right
ahead of your eyes?"

"Well, if I can see straight, it's a stump, and nothing more."

"I ain't much acquainted in these parts, friend, and it may be you've
got stumps here that wander round the lots at pleasure, but _I_
calculate that object ain't nothing but a venomous reptile," said
Ichabod, taking sight over his rifle upon the object which attracted his
attention. "Now, you see, if that's a stump, this bullet won't hurt it
much; but if it's an Injin, he'll signify it some way."

The rifle of Ichabod was discharged; and the Seneca--for an Indian it
was--who, creeping to reach a cover under the walls--rose to his feet
with a leap, and then staggered and fell.

Again was that wild yell renewed, but in a moment all was silent.
Guthrie ashamed, became angry, and turned with a fierce scowl on
Ichabod.

"You havn't a very civil way to _strangers_, friend," said he, "and we
may find time to settle this business. You may bully Injins, but you
won't me."

"I've just did my duty on that red varmint there," answered Ichabod
coolly; "and all I've got to say, friend, is, that we've got enemies
enough out-doors to attend to, without any civil war inside; but I ain't
particular."

"Ichabod! Guthrie!" exclaimed Barton, "let there be no ill-blood between
you now; the mistake of Guthrie might easily have been made by any one,
however experienced."

Guthrie turned again towards the loop-hole, muttering indistinctly. As
for Ichabod, he quietly reloaded his rifle saying:

"That's right, Squire, I'm a man of peace, any way--except with them
infarnal Senecas. If I have any particular gift of which I can boast, it
is in another sort of speculation. Give it to 'em Eagle's-Wing!" said
he, as at this moment, he saw the Tuscarora about discharging his rifle.
At the discharge, the whole ravine seemed to pour out a tempest of
shrieks.

"That Injin," said Eagle's-Wing, "won't fight any more--great pity lose
his scalp though."

"Never mind the scalp, Eagle's-Wing," replied Ichabod, "if you fix the
owner, so that he won't have any more use for it; that's my doctrine."

"That bad doctrine for Injin--good doctrine for pale-face p'raps."

Notwithstanding the utmost watchfulness, on the part of the besieged, no
further demonstration was made by the Senecas, for nearly an hour;
until, at length, they began to hope that the contest might already be
terminated, and that the loss of three of their warriors, without having
been able to inflict any injury upon the garrison, had discouraged the
Indians. As time passed by, no further attack being made, even Ichabod
and the Tuscarora began to yield to the belief which Barton had
expressed, but they did not for a moment relax their watchfulness.

Barton, Ralph and Ruth, had finally withdrawn from the loop-holes, while
Guthrie lounged moodily about.

"I think," said Barton, "we shall have nothing more to apprehend
to-night. The savages have doubtless repented of their temerity in
attacking a place so well defended as this."

"Heaven grant it may be so," replied Ruth. "We have had but little
experience, thus far, in the terrors of Indian warfare but as it is, it
is horrible."

"I hope, with you, Miss Barton," said Ralph, "that the Indians have
abandoned the attack; and yet I know so well their treacherous mode of
warfare, that it would not be surprising to me, were the severest part
of our labor yet to come. Ichabod seems, by his actions, to have the
same opinion."

"Yes, Captin," answered Ichabod. "I _do_ mistrust these infarnal
villians; and I shall mistrust 'em till day-light, sartin. You'll find
that they're plotting some deviltry which we shall know about before we
are many hours older."

"It is strange," said Ruth, "that these savages should so resist all
attempts for their improvement; and that they should persist in their
cruel mode of warfare, after having received so much instruction from
Christian teachers."

"I do not think it so very strange, perhaps," answered Ralph. "Their
habits--their modes of life, are the result of ages of barbarity, and
traditions communicated from father to son. No continuous effort has
ever been made to Christianize them; and it would be a miracle, were we
to find them now with Christian sentiments--adopting an entirely new
mode of life."

"That's my opinion, Captin," said Ichabod. "That speculation has been a
failure, and it always will be a failure. You might as well talk of
civilizing wolves. Why, there's the Oneida nation, who have pretty much
all been to school, and sat under sermons month after month,--let them
hear the war-hoop, and they're as crazy as devils, and don't think of
anything but scalps. There's Eagle's-Wing, being just as good a
gentleman, for an Injin, as ever wore moccasins--I'll warrant you some
foolish missionary reckons _him_ for a convarted Injin; and yet," said
he, with a whisper, "you'll find that infernal Seneca's scalp somewhere
about him now. Don't talk to me of convarting Injins. I don't think they
were ever intended to be convarted."

"You remember the divine injunction to the apostles, Ichabod?" asked
Ruth; "that they were to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to
every creature?"

"Lord love you, girl!" answered Ichabod, "you don't suppose that meant
to come over to America among these tomahawking savages! You see, in the
first place, it would have been something of a job for one of them
apostles to have got here; and in the second place, he'd wished himself
away again, in a hurry."

"I agree with Miss Barton," said Ralph, "that there is no reason why
these savages might not learn to cherish Christian principles. The
efforts of the Jesuits show that something can be done to civilize them;
and the labors of Elliot among the New England Indians prove that they
_can_ be Christianized."

"I reckon there's two sides to that question," answered Ichabod, "I've
heard that those Injins were more troublesome than them that didn't have
any preaching. Their religion all stopped with drinking Christianized
rum. No, Captin, you can't give me any faith in that expectation, any
way."

"I'm afraid Mr. Jenkins," said Ruth, "that the same reasons you urge
against the conversion and improvement of the Indians, would apply as
well to all mankind generally as to them. There are but few, of all who
listen to the Scriptures, who act upon their precepts. They hear, as you
say the Indians do, and at once forget, in their worldly intercourse,
that there is such a book as the Bible."

"Well. I can't dispute that p'int," replied Ichabod. "In these new
settlements, where men have so much to do, they ar'nt so much to blame,
if they can't understand what the preachers in the city are quarreling
about. I've lived a long while in the woods, and about the new
settlement, Miss Ruth, and havn't had much time to settle doctrinal
controvarsies; but I've got a faith of my own, which wouldn't, perhaps,
answer for you; and yet I'm willing to live by it, and die by it."

"Of how many articles does your faith consist?" asked Ralph, smiling.

"Well, Captin, that may be as you've a mind to classify the different
p'ints. I don't coincide quite, in my views of future life, with old
Michael Wigglesworth, who had no marcy for anybody but his own sect--not
for infants even. You recollect the varses on infants, Captin, where he
says that although in bliss--

     "They may not hope to dwell,
    Still unto them he will allow
      The easiest room in hell."

No, Captin, a man cannot live in the forests, and look continually at
the works of God, and forget that He exists; and I reckon that a man who
always bears Him in mind, whether he be felling the trees, planting the
ground, turning his hand in an honest speculation, or shooting a Seneca,
will have marcy shown to him eventually. That's my doctrine."

"It is a creed that has the merit of being short, if not orthodox," said
Ralph. "But I must acknowledge, that while I have not paid the attention
to religious matters that I ought to have done, and have been too
forgetful of claims that have been imposed upon all men, yet, from all
my doubts, I have ever returned to the Bible as the only sure anchor of
faith. Its opening revelations are corroborated in the history or
tradition of all nations; its divine teachings, interpreted according to
the simple understanding of one's own heart, accord with our
reason--satisfy our hopes--alleviate our sorrows--cheer us in death. The
uninstructed feelings of the heart, in this matter, are a purer, more
excellent wisdom, than all the pride of intellect."

"Well, Captin," said Ichabod, "I never dispute on creeds--so you are
welcome to yours: but on _facts_, I've got a right to express my
opinion. Now, as for them opening chapters being corroborated by the
history of all nations--that's a question of fact, which I'm willing to
leave to Eagle's-Wing, whose nation, according to their traditions, is
older than I'd like to vouch for. Now, he'll tell you that the first
thing that was made was a tortoise and that the earth was then made and
placed upon its back. I say, Eagle's-Wing----Thunder and lightning!"
exclaimed he, springing towards the stairway.

The fact was, that Ichabod had been so much engaged in this
conversation, relying upon the prudence and watchfulness of the
Tuscarora, that he had given up all his attention to it. But upon making
his appeal to the Tuscarora, he had turned towards the position lately
occupied by him when he discovered that both he and Guthrie were
missing.

Scarcely had he sprung towards the stairway, ere there rang through the
cottage a shriek of agony, immediately followed by the sound of a heavy
body falling upon the floor, in the room below. This was succeeded by a
tempest of shrieks, which apparently came from the whole body of the
enemy, who were now close under the cover of the building, in front of
the south door.

Ichabod was followed by Barton and Ralph, down the stair-way. As they
came towards the door, they beheld the Tuscarora standing silently
beside it, while at his feet lay a black mass, indistinct in the
darkness, which they took to be the body of Guthrie.

"What is the meaning of this, Eagle's-Wing?" demanded Barton.

The Tuscarora quietly pointed towards the door, the bar of which was
partially raised. "He traitor; got bad heart; meant to open door and let
Seneca come in. Can't do it _now_, if he try ever so much."

"Eagle's-Wing," said Barton, with emotion, "you have saved our lives
to-night. We owe you a double debt of gratitude."

"I suspected that fellow from the beginning," said Ichabod, "and
Eagle's-Wing and I agreed to watch him; but you're a better warrior than
I, old friend; you don't suffer yourself to be divarted by doctrinal
p'ints."

It was now evident that some important movement was taking place out of
doors. Scarcely had Ichabod ceased speaking, ere the door received a
violent blow, as from a log thrown against it with great force.

"We can't stand that thumping," said Ichabod. "We've been on the defence
agin them red devils long enough. Let's open the door and give 'em
fight."

After some deliberation, this course was resolved upon. The party within
doors were to range themselves in front of the door, where they would
not at once be discovered in the darkness, by those outside; and as the
log was next thrown, and while the Indians would probably be unprepared
for this sudden attack, the door was to be suddenly thrown open, when
the whole party would deliver their fire. In the surprise, they might as
suddenly close it, should it be deemed necessary. This attack, from its
very boldness and seeming temerity, would be likely to succeed.

Scarcely was the resolution formed and the party arranged ere the door
received another shock, and was immediately thrown wide open by Barton.
There were gathered before it ten or twelve Indians, four of whom held
in their hands a log of five or six inches in thickness and about twelve
feet in length, with which they were endeavoring to force the door.
Immediately the five rifles inside were discharged, and two of the
Indians fell. The remainder, surprised at this sudden attack, for a
moment seemed paralysed. The Tuscarora, no longer to be restrained, but
impelled not only by his Indian instincts, but by his hatred of the
Senecas, leaped from the door, with his knife in his hand, upon one of
the prostrate Indians.

At this sudden appearance of the Tuscarora, the Senecas filled the air
with shrieks, and rushed towards him. But ere they had reached him, he
rose erect with the scalp of the Seneca in his hand, and waving it over
his head, uttered his defiance with a ferocious scream. Ichabod and
Ralph, in a moment, were by his side; and now commenced a hand-to-hand
combat, most desperate, indeed, on the part of the besieged. Barton and
the negro, who had again loaded their rifles, once more discharged them
upon the Senecas, and then sprang to the assistance of their friends.
Another Indian had fallen, so that now there was no such fearful
disparity of odds as when the strife commenced. Had it not been for the
impulse of the Tuscarora, the _ruse_ of Ichabod would have been
completely successful; but Ralph, although engaged warmly in the melee,
saw the unfortunate position in which they were now placed. There were
at least a dozen more of the Senecas about the cottage, who would be
immediately attracted hither by the noise of the conflict, while the
cottage was now entirely undefended, and Ruth exposed to the hostility
of any savage who might take advantage of the conflict to force his way
into the building.

"To the door!" cried he; "retreat towards the door at once."

The darkness added to the terror and difficulty of the conflict. Ichabod
found himself, at first, engaged with Snake-tongue; but a blow from the
butt-end of his rifle ended the unequal conflict, and the Seneca lay
disabled. "Take that, you infarnal slanderer," he cried, as he dealt the
blow. "Learn to use your cussed snake's tongue with more moderation,
when speaking of respectable females." But Deersfoot now rushed upon
him, and a strife commenced, more equal; both strong and powerful in
frame, they were well matched. Ichabod caught the first blow of the
tomahawk upon his rifle, and then, ere the Indian could use his knife,
his long, muscular arms were about him. For a moment they wavered, as in
an equal struggle, when both fell to the ground. At the same moment, a
number more of the enemy came leaping to join the conflict.

"To the door, for your lives!" shouted Ralph. The contest was now
desperate; and slowly retreating, they reached the door, the Tuscarora,
being last to cross the threshold. The Indians followed, leaping into
the doorway; but the Tuscarora, with the sweep of his rifle, for a
moment drove them backwards, then springing within, the door was closed.

None of the party had escaped without injury; and it was not until the
door was closed, and the air rang with triumphant yells from the
Senecas, that it was discovered that Ichabod was missing. The first
impulse was again to open the door, and rescue him, at any odds; but a
moment's reflection taught Ralph, that such a course, now that the
Senecas were reinforced, would only put their own lives in the utmost
jeopardy, without their being able to assist their friend.

"No good for _you_ to open door," said Eagle's-Wing, "I go and save
friend."

"No, no, Eagle's-Wing," exclaimed Barton, "you cannot save him now; and
you will only lose your own life, and peril ours. They will not take
_his_ scalp, but they will _yours_."

"That true--won't kill him to-night, any way. He great warrior--they
like to torture great warriors. We save him to-morrow, some way."

It was with a feeling of sorrow that Ralph acknowledged their inability
to do anything for the rescue of Ichabod. Willingly would he have risked
his own life; but there was Ruth--who together with the others, might be
sacrificed by the imprudent attempt. With a feeling of deep grief, he
was obliged to leave him to his fate.

It was now discovered, too, that Guthrie was gone. Could it be that his
body had been removed by a Seneca during the conflict? It was not
possible; and it was evident, that while in the darkness, he was
supposed to have been slain by the Tuscarora, he had counterfeited
death, hoping to find some means of escape. With beating hearts, Ralph
and Barton proceeded up the stairway. They reached the apartment which
they had so recently left: but it was empty. From the window, near which
Guthrie had stood, the fastening had been removed from the frame work of
bars, and it was certain that through this window Guthrie had escaped,
and had carried with him the unfortunate Ruth.



CHAPTER XI.


   "'Tis vain to sigh! the wheel must on;
    And straws are to the whirlpool drawn
      With ships of gallant mien."
                                    FRENEAU


No sooner had Barton realized his loss, than he gave himself up to the
bitterest feelings of despair. This interim was succeeded by a burning
thirst for revenge. "Come, Ralph!--Come, Eagle's-Wing! let us pursue
them--let us destroy them! Oh, my God! thus in my old age to suffer this
heavy blow!" and, excited to madness, he fled down the stairway,
followed by Ralph and the Tuscarora. Before they could overtake him, he
had unbarred the door, and crossed the threshold but no enemy was there.

Ralph, himself overwhelmed with grief, endeavored to console the old
man; but there was no balm for such a wound, and he fell fainting into
the arms of Ralph.

Ralph, although overborne by grief, possessed a firmness of mind that
sought a remedy for affliction, where a remedy was attainable, instead
of tamely yielding. Anxiously he and the Tuscarora counseled together
upon the course to be pursued. Whether Ruth had been taken prisoner
either by Guthrie or the Indians, the result would be the same--she
would be a captive among the Senecas. They did not believe any attempt
would be made upon her life; but they did fear that the Indians, who
had, for the present at least, abandoned their attack upon the cottage,
satisfied with the prisoners they had taken, might at once attempt a
march to the country of the Senecas, and thus hold their prisoners in a
long and tedious captivity. It was, then, with much anxiety that they
consulted together upon the course now to be adopted. But we will leave
them for the present, to follow the fortunes of Ichabod.

After he had been deserted, unintentionally, by his companions, the
strife between him and Deersfoot was no longer equal. Scarcely had the
Senecas been foiled in their attempt to follow their intended victims
into the cottage, ere Ichabod was seized, and his arms securely
pinioned. The Senecas manifested their joy by the most ferocious yells,
when they discovered that they had in their possession an enemy so
formidable.

"Yell, you red devils!" exclaimed Ichabod: "Ten to one ain't worth
crowing about. But I'll tell you what--give me that rifle of mine, and
I'll tackle any five of you, any way. But I never did know a Seneca that
had a particle of the gentleman about him."

The Indians did not deign any reply to this proposition, but at once
made preparations to remove their prisoner. Four of the Senecas were
placed as a guard about him, and the march was begun towards their
encampment. The remainder of the party bore the dead bodies of their
companions, who had been killed in the affray: but Ichabod noticed that
there were only fifteen in this party, and consequently there must be
eight or ten more either about the cottage, or else already on the march
towards their camp.

The route pursued by the Senecas, was that which we have already
described as the one traveled by Ralph and Miss Barton on a former
occasion, until they passed the shanty, when they struck off towards the
left, in the direction of the river.

The encampment, or temporary village of the Senecas, was located in the
widest portion of the flats we have before noticed, and at a distance of
about ten or fifteen rods from the river, which at this point flowed for
nearly a hundred rods in a north and south line. But before reaching
this point, the course of the stream was extremely serpentine, making
several long windings through the valley.

The encampment was in a clearing of an acre or two in extent; which had
evidently been cleared many years before; for the ground was covered
with a rich green-sward, while three or four old stumps, scattered about
the field, denoted that years had elapsed since it had been rescued from
the dominion of the forest. It was in an oval form, and entirely
surrounded by wilderness. In the midst of this field or clearing, there
had been erected five or six temporary huts, by the use of some small
saplings and boughs, sufficient to answer for a protection from the sun,
as well as from the rains. These huts were arranged in a circle, and in
the centre was one smaller than the others; and from the fact, that it
was more neatly as well as securely constructed, Ichabod _guessed_ that
it must be occupied by Singing-Bird.

The party accompanying Ichabod, had reached the clearing soon after
sunrise, when he was led to one of the outer huts, where, after his
captors had securely fastened his feet, he was left upon a bed of leaves
and boughs to digest his thoughts as he was best able under the
circumstances. He had not remained a long time in this condition, before
he heard the noise of the arrival of another party; and he readily
imagined, from the joy with which they were received, that they, also,
had brought with them a captive from the cottage. Who this could be, he
could not conjecture; and this fact rendered his position still more
uneasy. He had already devised half-a-dozen plans, through some of
which, he calculated upon his escape, together with the rescue of
Singing-Bird. But if the new captive should happen to be the Tuscarora,
then the desire for vengeance, on the part of the Senecas, might
forestall his plans, before they could be put in operation. He did not
believe that the Indians intended _him_ any bodily injury; for although
he knew their crafty and murderous natures, he did not think they would
dare, in the present condition of the Colonies, to violate a peace,
which would be likely to draw upon them the vengeance of the whites.
Uneasy at the conjecture that Eagle's-Wing might be the new captive, and
pained by the tightness of the withes which had been bound about his
feet and hands, he made a desperate effort to free himself from them.
While engaged in this effort, a shadow darkened the doorway of the hut,
and Panther and Snake-tongue stood before him. They had evidently
detected the effort of Ichabod; but no expression upon their
countenances denoted the fact.

The two chiefs approached the bed occupied by Ichabod, and surveyed
their captive silently for a few moments; when Panther, directing his
conversation to Snake-tongue, exclaimed:

"This is the warrior of whom we have heard. He is a great warrior; he
has killed many Senecas; his eye is sharp on the war-path; his rifle is
sure. Our old men and squaws have heard of him beyond the lakes. It is
pleasant to have him in our hands."

"His arm is strong; Snake-tongue knows it," said Snake-tongue, who still
retained a vivid impression of the blow which he had received from
Ichabod in the recent encounter at the cottage. "The young men of the
Senecas are no match for him; if the Great Spirit had given him a red
skin, we should have been proud of him. But he is a pale-face, and it is
good to have him bound in our huts. He cannot hurt the young warriors of
the Senecas any more."

Ichabod had remained perfectly quiet during this by-conversation,
although a smile for a moment lit up his countenance, at the compliments
which the chiefs had bestowed upon his prowess. When they had concluded
he exclaimed:

"I give you all the thanks for them compliments that you desarve. But
you _are_ right about it. I _have_ killed some of your warriors in my
day, you may depend on it: and I reckon that this is the first time that
any of your breed was quite so familiar with me. But I want to know, if
it's considered gentlemanly, among the Senecas, to tie a fellow's legs
so cussed tight?"

"The pale-face is a great warrior," said Panther: "he is cunning as a
fox. The Senecas are poor and ignorant; they do not know as much as the
pale-faces; but they know how to tie a warrior's feet so that he cannot
run. They would be ashamed if they did not know how; and my brother
would be ashamed of us too."

"I don't ask any kind of marcy of you, Panther," said Ichabod, "I know
better than that. You've got me here, and I s'pose you'll do pretty much
as you've a mind to; and when you want to begin with your deviltries,
just speak, and I'm ready."

"My brother is not a squaw," said Panther, "if he was a squaw, and not a
great warrior, we should unbind him, and let him wander round our tents;
but the Senecas know how to honor their enemies, who are brave. But the
Senecas do not hate the pale-faces; they have buried the hatchet with
them, and we will not dig it up. We will let our brother go back to the
pale-faces, if he wishes."

"Well, now, I call that pretty clever, considerin'; I shall begin to
think you _are_ gentlemen, after all," answered Ichabod, who saw the
drift of the discourse. "I'm ready to start any time you'll take these
things off my hands and feet."

"My brother is ready to go," said Panther. "It is good. He does not like
the lodges of the Senecas; he likes his own people better. It is not
well for a pale-face to dwell in the lodges of the red men; and it is
not good for red men to dwell in the lodges of the pale-faces. They are
different: the Great Spirit has made them different--and it is well. The
pale-faces have killed five of our young men; but we will not do them
any harm. We will not dig up the hatchet against them. Our young men are
not painted for the war-path; they have not struck the war-post of their
nation."

"For a civil people, who havn't dug up the hatchet, and who don't intend
to, against the pale-faces, you made a suspicious demonstration on the
cottage last night. I don't know but that is the _genuine_ Seneca way of
being civil and peaceable."

"The pale-faces killed five of our young men; but they did it in
defense," said Panther. "They did not want to do it; but Canendesha has
killed two of our young men; he did it because he hated them. He is a
great warrior, too, and we want him in your place."

"Providing I go back to the cottage," replied Ichabod, "I'll tell him
what you want; but I won't promise that he'll be here at any _precise_
time. I couldn't do that."

"My brother has not got a forked tongue; he will do what he says; but
that is not enough. Four of my young men will go with my brother, and he
will deliver Canendesha to them."

"You mean, I reckon, that I shall take Eagle's-Wing and put these thongs
round his limbs, and pass him over to you as a prisoner?" asked Ichabod,
quietly.

"My brother is wise. He knows what I mean: he can do it and be free."

Ichabod was about to give way to a burst of indignation at this
treacherous proposal; but he saw that by so doing he should defeat his
own ends. He had also learned, to his great satisfaction, that the
Tuscarora had not been captured. It was with great difficulty that he
could conceal his joy from the inquisitorial eyes of the Senecas; but at
length, with an appearance of hesitancy, he answered.

"I can't say, now, whether I will do as you wish or not. I want little
time to think about it. Speculating in flesh and blood, in that way, and
with a friend, too, is a kind of business I never yet undertook; but I
suppose one may get used to it. A little practice will blunt the
feelings, until one can come to bartering off friends--aye, one's own
flesh and blood, too." Then, as if suddenly remembering the declaration
of Snake-tongue, that Singing-Bird was reconciled to her captivity, he
added, "you see, if the Tuscarora knew that Singing-Bird had forgot him,
and had chosen the young chief of the Senecas for her husband, I
calculate he wouldn't care much whether he was here or there. Now if
that's true, I _rather_ reckon, I'll do as you want me to, though I look
upon it as a rascally mean trick towards a friend."

"It is true, what my brother has heard," said Panther: "Singing-Bird
will sing in the wigwam of Panther."

"Now, I don't mean any disparagement to the Senecas, and you in
particular," said Ichabod; "I am beginning to think that you may be
gentlemen, after all; but _that_ is a matter I can't take anybody's word
for. I want to _know_ that it is true."

"My brother shall hear with his own ears," said Panther. "He shall
_know_ that the words of Panther are true; he shall see Singing-Bird,
and ask her if Panther has lied."

This was just what Ichabod had desired. If he had made the proposition
himself, it was doubtful whether some ulterior purpose would not have
been suspected; but his seeming willingness to comply with the wishes of
Panther, had led the Seneca to suggest this as the surest mode of
dispelling his doubts.

"My brother shall see Singing-Bird alone," said Panther, "we have not
got forked tongues, or we would not let him do so."

The two Indians departed. Their willingness to allow this interview was,
for a moment, almost sufficient to induce Ichabod to believe that
Singing-Bird had become faithless to the Tuscarora. But he knew enough
of Indian character to know that Singing-Bird might have adopted this
line of conduct as the best mode of effecting her escape. With this
belief, he silently awaited the interview, determined not to believe
otherwise unless he received positive proof from Singing-Bird herself.
Scarcely five minutes had elapsed after the departure of the Seneca,
before a shadow again darkened the doorway of the hut, and the young
squaw stood before him.

Singing-Bird--for she it was--was apparently not more than
two-and-twenty years of age. She was of small, light stature, yet with a
full and healthy development of body. Her features, although they
possessed the distinctive Indian cast, were moulded into a beauty
admirable to behold. Her complexion was a softening of the tawny-red of
the warriors into a delicate tint, while her large, dark eyes were full
of a gentle expression, that might, if need be, be exchanged for a wild
and passionate fire. Her long, dark, glossy hair flowed in graceful
waves down her neck, and were gathered in rich folds over her brow. Her
costume was that of a young Indian female of the period, beautifully and
tastefully decorated with ornaments of beads and flowers. As Ichabod
first beheld her, the prevailing expression of her countenance was that
of a gentle sorrow.

Ichabod was surprised. He had never beheld the wife of Eagle's-Wing, and
never before had he beheld a female figure the beauty of which so much
surprised and delighted him. He gazed at her with a pleasure he could
not conceal, and then, while a melancholy smile passed over her
countenance, he said--

"You have heard of me from Eagle's-Wing, perhaps, as an old friend? He
and I have known each other as tried friends, in times gone by."

"I have heard of a pale-face," replied Singing-Bird, in a low, silvery
voice, "who, on the war-path, saved the life of Eagle's-Wing, when he
was in the hands of his enemies. I have heard it from Eagle's-Wing."

"That's a circumstance not worth mentioning; but Eagle's-Wing and I
_are_ friends. He knows he can always rely on me, in any sort of a
speculation. But I'm in rather a bad fix here; yet we can always find
some way of doing our duty by a friend, if we try. But Eagle's-Wing is
free, and isn't far from here--you may depend on that."

Perhaps the slightest trace of an expression of joy passed over her
countenance for a moment; but it was instantly subdued. With her eyes
fixed upon the ground, she slowly said--

"I loved _once_ to look upon Canendesha--but he has passed from my
eyes."

"What!" exclaimed Ichabod with a start that fairly made the withes snap
that were fastened upon his limbs.

A momentary look of agony clouded the face of Singing-Bird. She seemed
endeavoring to speak, yet had not the power to command her organs of
speech.

"Shall I tell Eagle's-Wing this?" exclaimed Ichabod, with indignation.
"Shall I tell him to go back to the villages of his nation, and forget
his squaw? Or shall I tell him to come and deliver himself up to his
enemies?"

With an effort that seemed almost to destroy her, but which was lost
upon Ichabod, as he had given himself up to the mastery of his
indignation--she softly answered--

"I have said. Let the pale-face speak my words to his friend."

It was not merely astonishment--it was shame, uncontrollable disgust,
towards the fair being who stood before him, that, for a moment, kept
Ichabod silent. When at last he found words to communicate his thoughts,
he exclaimed--

"I wouldn't have believed it, if all the Senecas this side of the
infarnal regions had told me! Such a beauty! Such a heart. I'll abandon
the settlements: I'll thank God, night and day, that I've no wife! Poor
Eagle's-Wing! Go and die. No; I know the heart of Eagle's-Wing. He won't
die for a squaw. He'll wince a little, at first: but he'll have the
scalps off the heads of the whole tribe of Senecas." Then, as if
concentrating all his indignation into one breath, he glanced at
Singing-Bird with a look of abhorrence, and exclaimed--"Go, you painted
lie!" and threw himself over on his bed, so as to avert his gaze from
her.

Meanwhile, Singing-Bird stood with her eyes riveted upon the ground, and
her countenance as calm and impassable as chiseled stone. A look of
agony had impressed it for a moment, but that had fled. Not a
gesture--not a breath, denoted that she felt the indignant speech of
Ichabod. At its close, however, her ear detected a slight rustling among
the leaves, near the door of the hut, and Panther glided from among the
boughs, and crept towards an adjoining lodge.

Scarcely had she seen the retreat of the Seneca chief, than the whole
expression of her countenance changed--her figure became erect--a fire
gleamed in her eyes--a look of intense hatred clouded her countenance.
Then, springing towards the bed of Ichabod, she exclaimed--

"It _is_ a lie. Look at me, friend of Eagle's-Wing. It _is_ a lie: the
heart of Singing-Bird is with her husband. She thinks only of him. Tell
Eagle's-Wing so. Tell him I shall soon fly from the Senecas."

Ichabod gazed on her now with admiration. Such consummate _acting_,
though he thought himself skilled in Indian ways, he had never seen
before. He had seen warriors die bravely, and, unmoved in the hour of
peril, exasperate their enemies by words of reproach and shame: he had
seen the Indian smile as the scalping-knife tore from his brow the lock
of honor; but never did he imagine that one so young, so beautiful, so
loving, could give to her countenance a look so false, with a heart so
true.

"God bless thee, girl!" exclaimed he. "Give me a woman, after all, for
stratagem. I don't know _when_ I shall see Eagle's-Wing, but when I do,
I'll tell him if he don't snatch you from these red devils, he ought to
be scalped by Panther himself. Who would have believed it?"

"Eagle's-Wing's friend don't hate Singing-Bird now?"

"Hate you? Lord love you, girl! Give me your hand----- Pshaw! I haven't
got a hand to give you: but after this, girl, I'll always believe you,
and will find some means to get you out of this scrape. When are these
Indians going to leave here?"

"Don't know," said Singing-Bird. "They want to get Eagle's-Wing, first."

"It will be a long while, I reckon, before that happens. But I say,"
asked he, just thinking of the other captive who had been brought in
that morning, "what other prisoner have they got here?"

"They brought in a pale-face girl. King George's man got her from
cottage. She stays in hut with me."

"Ruth Barton, by all the devils!" exclaimed Ichabod. "Who do you say
captured her?"

"King George's man: Guthrie, they call him."

Here was a new cause of wonderment. Guthrie was believed by Ichabod to
have been killed by the Tuscarora.

"But I see into it, the white-livered villain. He'll get his pay for
this. I say, Singing-Bird, I shall refuse to go on that rascally
business for these Senecas. I suppose they'll be terribly mad about it,
but I can't help it. Now, you see, you keep up this sham affair between
you and Panther, and you can find some means to give me a hint of what's
going on: and, I say, if you can, just bring me a knife. It gives a man
a world of confidence, sometimes, to have a friend of that sort.
Eagle's-Wing and the Captin won't be idle, and we shall hear something
from 'em before long; and, till then----"

He was interrupted by a gesture from Singing Bird, who immediately
assumed the appearance she had worn while Panther had been in hearing of
the conversation. At almost the same moment, Panther and Snake-tongue
entered the hut; and, at a gesture from the former, she silently
departed.

Ichabod had endeavored to assume the appearance of indignation which his
countenance had worn during the early part of his conversation with
Singing-Bird, and with some degree of success.

"My brother has heard the Singing-Bird of the Tuscaroras," said Panther;
"he has learnt that the Senecas have not got forked tongues."

"I must confess," answered Ichabod, "that I'm ashamed of that girl. I
wouldn't have believed it from anybody else, although I'm beginning to
have great respect for the word of a Seneca. I wouldn't have believed
it, if she hadn't told me so."

"My brother has heard the song he wished to hear," said Panther,
allowing a look of triumph to pass over his countenance. "It is pleasing
to my brother. He will now go with my young men, and be free."

"I've no kind of objection to being free, in an honest sort of way,"
answered Ichabod; "but about that business you mentioned, I've been
thinking that I've lived pretty nigh fifty years, and I never yet
deceived a friend--nor an enemy either, except in a lawful manner--and I
guess I won't begin now."

"What does my brother mean?" asked Panther, giving way to anger. "Does
he mean to eat his own words? Does my brother mean to lie?"

"Lie!" exclaimed Ichabod. "You can use that word in perfect safety,
while you are there and I am here: but you give me a fair chance, and
I'd endeavor to teach you better manners. But the plain English of the
thing is--I shan't go on that rascally errand, any way."

"My brother is a great warrior," said Panther. "He is cunning as a fox.
He knows it well; but if my brother refuses to go, we will try and see
how brave he is."

"If that means tortur' or anything of that sort," said Ichabod, quietly,
"all I've got to say is, bring it on. I don't know whether I can stand
all of your villainous inventions or not, and I ra'ally don't want to
know; but if that is _your_ mind, I'll acquiesce, of course, seeing I
can't help it."

"We leave our brother to his thoughts," said Panther. "He is brave, and
will think it over, and be braver by-and-bye. We will let our brother
know when we are ready."

So saying, the two Indians left the hut; and Ichabod, with a mind
somewhat ill at ease, at the prospect before him, endeavored to follow
the advice of the Senecas--although given by them for a contrary
object--and gain strength of purpose by reflection.



CHAPTER XII.


    "No tear relieved the burden of her heart;
    Stunned with the heavy woe, she felt like one
    Half-wakened from a midnight dream of blood."
                                            SOUTHEY.


We shall be compelled to return upon the course of our narrative, for
the purpose of giving a relation of the manner in which Ruth had fallen
into the hands of the savages. Guthrie, who was supposed by Eagle's-Wing
to have been slain, was really but little injured. The Tuscarora had
followed him down the stairway unnoticed, and guided more by sound than
by sight, in the darkness of the room below, he glided after the Tory
until the latter had reached the door. He heard the attempt to remove
the bar which secured it, when, with a silent but rapid blow of his
tomahawk, he had, as he supposed, cloven the head of Guthrie to the
brain; but owing to the darkness, in which the form of the latter could
with difficulty be distinguished, the blow fell upon his left shoulder.
The pain as well as the surprise of Guthrie, had caused him to give the
shriek which attracted the attention of those above, and which was
followed by his fall upon the floor. As no further attack was made upon
him by the Tuscarora, he rightly concluded that Eagle's-Wing thought the
blow already given to have been fatal. With this impression he remained
motionless, until the ill-advised _sortie_ of the defenders of the
cottage offered him the opportunity to escape, when he sprung to his
feet, and although suffering severely from his wound, rushed up the
stairway with the intention of leaping from the window--a distance of
ten or twelve feet, to the ground. But as he reached the upper floor, he
saw Ruth, who had fallen upon her knees in the act of prayer for the
assistance of Heaven towards the brave but few defenders of the cottage.
Instantly, Guthrie planned a scheme of vengeance, which was at once
carried into effect. Advancing rapidly towards Ruth he said:

"Come, Miss Ruth; the Indians will take the cottage; and your father has
directed me to take charge of you and lead you to a place selected by
him and his companions for a _rendezvous_. There is no time for thought:
come instantly."

Ruth arose, astonished by this sudden intelligence.

"My father," she exclaimed, "is he safe?"

"Yes," replied Guthrie, "they are all safe; but they have been compelled
to retreat towards the forest. Come instantly, or you are lost."

Deceived by the earnestness of Guthrie, Ruth immediately followed him to
the window. In a moment a small ladder which had been constructed for
exit by the windows, in any emergency similar to the present, was let
down upon the ground, and Ruth descended, followed by Guthrie. Taking
her by the hand, and partly leading and partly carrying her, they
proceeded rapidly towards the south-east into the forest. When they
arrived at the base of the hill, near the shore of the pond, instead of
meeting her father and his companions, she found herself in the midst of
a small party of Senecas. She saw at once that she was betrayed, and
shrieked for help.

"None of that, Miss Ruth," cried Guthrie, roughly; "it won't do you any
good. Them Colony men at the cottage, have got as much as they can do,
just now, to save their own scalps."

"Wretch--villain!" cried Ruth, and she fell fainting upon the ground.

By this time, it was apparent that the contest at the cottage had
terminated; and a rough frame-work of light saplings and boughs was
constructed, upon which Ruth was placed, and conveyed in the direction
of the temporary lodges of the Senecas. Before arriving there, she had
recovered from her swoon, when she realized the dangerous situation in
which she was placed. Arming herself with the fortitude which was not
uncommon among the women of the period, she commended herself to the
protection of that Divine Being, upon whom she was wont to rely for aid
and consolation.

When they reached the huts of the Senecas, and the Indians ascertained
who was their prisoner, their exultation was announced in the shouts of
triumph which Ichabod had heard. Ruth, however, without suffering any
rudeness or ill-usage such as might have been expected, perhaps, in the
present excited state of mind of the savages, was conveyed, by the
direction of Panther, to the lodge occupied by Singing-Bird. She was not
bound or confined in any manner, the savages relying upon their
watchfulness to prevent her escape; and also upon the apparent fidelity
of Singing-Bird.

When Ruth saw the entire absence of restraint in which Singing-Bird
lived, and her apparent friendliness towards the savages, her mind
recurred to the imaginative picture she had formerly drawn of the young
squaw, separated by force from a husband she loved, and restrained by
captivity, among enemies who were thirsting for his blood, she could not
reconcile the present conduct of Singing-Bird with her own ideas of what
should have been her conduct; and she felt a degree of disgust towards
the young Indian beauty, who could so soon forget a husband so worthy of
her affection as the Tuscarora.

"Can this be Singing-Bird, of whom I have heard so much?" asked Ruth.

"Who heard it from?" inquired Singing-Bird.

"I heard it at the cottage, of a Tuscarora chief who had lost his squaw
by the treachery of the Senecas, and who were now seeking his life."

"Yes, Eagle's-Wing kill Seneca--and Panther must have Eagle's-Wing's
scalp. Bad for Eagle's-Wing to kill Seneca."

"Can it be possible?" asked Ruth, "--no, it cannot be--that you are the
Singing-Bird of whom I have heard."

The young Indian placed her hands upon her breast, as struggling with a
violent emotion, and then looked at Ruth with an expression of entreaty
which was not lost upon her.

"Hush!" faintly whispered Singing-Bird, "Seneca comes."

Ruth saw at once that Singing-Bird was acting a part, and appreciated
that she did so from a feeling of necessity for the safety of herself,
and perhaps of her husband. Scarcely had Ruth caught the whisper, ere
the Indians who had stood by the door of the lodge departed, when
Singing-Bird advanced towards Ruth, and said--

"Pale-face girl does not know Singing-Bird. She loves Eagle's-Wing.
Hates Panther ever so much. _Do_ tell me 'bout Eagle's-Wing."

Ruth related what she knew of the Tuscarora, and of the attack upon the
cottage. Singing-Bird listened intently; and when Ruth had concluded,
she placed her arm gently about her neck, and said--

"We sisters now; but look out for Seneca. They think me friend; but I
want Eagle's-Wing to get all their scalp."

She then informed Ruth that another party of the Senecas had also
brought in a prisoner, and from the description which she gave of the
appearance of the captive, Ruth concluded that the unfortunate prisoner
could be none other than Ichabod. She conjectured, also, that the
Senecas had made no other prisoners, and that her father, together with
Ralph and the Tuscarora, still remained in possession of the cottage.
This fact at once gave relief to her mind; and she regained a serenity
and composure which she had not before been able to feel since her
capture.

"What are these Indians going to do with us?" asked she of Singing-Bird.

"Don't know what they do want with pale-face girl. P'raps want to trade
for Eagle's-Wing. But Panther wants _me_ for his squaw--wants me to go
beyond the lakes, in the Seneca country, to live in his wigwam. Won't do
it, though; I kill myself first."

"I never shall consent to be exchanged for Eagle's-Wing," said Ruth. "I
shall rely upon some other means of deliverance."

Singing-Bird thanked her by a grateful smile. "O, I _do_ want to get
away," replied she. "Oneida and Tuscarora warriors come pretty soon, I
hope. When they come, then I get away; p'raps before, if Eagle's-Wing
know how. He great warrior."

"I have friends, too, who will assist; and I hope they will find means
to deliver us," said Ruth.

"_What_ friend?" asked Singing-Bird, suddenly. "Have you got husband,
too?"

Ruth smiled and shook her head.

"Got friend, then," asked Singing-Bird, "who like to look at you--who
give you his heart?"

Ruth blushed, and this time she did not smile.

Singing-Bird continued, "If you got lover, then, why don't marry?"

"Perhaps I may, sometime," answered Ruth, still blushing; "but I cannot,
you know, until these troubles are all over."

"It's pleasant to live in wigwam with husband. When he gone on war-path,
or gone hunting, then you work in field--that good way to live."

"We pale-face women do not work in the field. We make the men do that."

"That squaw's business; men hunt deer, catch fish, take scalp--that
warrior's business. I don't want to stay in wigwam and do not'ing,
Eagle's-Wing wouldn't like that."

"You do not mean to say that Eagle's-Wing would make _you_ do labor in
the field?" asked Ruth, in astonishment.

"No--Eagle's-Wing wouldn't _make_ me do that; but if I didn't, he t'ink
me lazy, good for not'ing squaw--then he get another squaw, p'raps. _I_
shouldn't like that."

Ruth was not acquainted with this custom of the Indians; and her
astonishment was unfeigned. She could scarcely believe that one so
seemingly delicate as Singing-Bird, could accustom herself to a species
of labor, that was severe enough for the stronger muscles of the manly
portion of creation. Yet, it is true, that while the Indian warrior
undergoes the fatigues of war, or of the chase, with uncomplaining
fortitude, when idle he never compromises his dignity by any servile
employment. The cultivation of the field, and all of the severer
domestic duties, are performed by the squaws, with as much patience and
fortitude as the warrior displays on the war-path.

"But," asked Singing-Bird, "what pale-face women _do_? sit still and do
not'ing?"

"O, no; we have plenty of employment in attending to household matters.
We shouldn't think ourselves able to do labor out-of-doors, in tilling
land."

It was now Singing-Bird's turn to be surprised; and while she was
expressing her wonderment at this want of love for their husbands on the
part of the women of the pale-faces, Panther was seen approaching the
lodge. At the suggestion of Singing-Bird, Ruth immediately assumed an
appearance of extreme sorrow, while the former took that of the careless
indifference which she had first exhibited to Ruth.

Panther entered the lodge, and without seeming to notice the presence of
Ruth, approached Singing-Bird and said:

"The pale-face prisoner does not believe that Singing-Bird loves to live
in the lodges of the Senecas. Will my sister go and tell him whether she
does or not?"

Singing-Bird obeyed without reply; and followed by Panther, she
proceeded to the interview we have already described between her and
Ichabod.

Ruth had been left alone but for a few moments, when she heard a slow
but heavy step approaching the lodge. With a look of uneasiness, she
gazed in the direction of the sound, and beheld Guthrie about entering
the doorway.

"Good morning, Miss," said he with a rude and familiar voice, that
grated harshly on her ears. "I thought I'd just see how you get along.
How do you like living with the Senecas?"

"Guthrie," answered Ruth, "in what manner has my father or have I,
injured you, that you should commit the act you have, to-day?"

The villain chuckled for a moment. "That's neither here nor there, Miss.
There never was any great love atween us, any way; and, you see, a wound
like this, ain't apt to increase it," pointing to his shoulder, which
had been bandaged. "It's enough for me to know that Squire Barton has
given shelter up at the cottage to them as has injured me; and no man
ever offends Ben Guthrie without getting his pay for't."

"There has been no time, Guthrie," said Ruth with a shudder, "since we
have lived in this valley, but you have been welcomed at the cottage as
a friend."

"Yes, yes; I know what kind of a welcome I've generally had:--such as
you Colony folks give a Tory, as you call me--a scornful eye--a curling
lip--and a hand that is never offered in friendship. But I'll let these
interlopers into this territory know that if King George's men have all
died in the settlements, there are some of 'em alive round here. But
_that's_ neither here nor there. I've done you a kindness, after all;
for that cottage will yet be taken--burnt down, p'raps--and then you'd
better be here than there."

"Guthrie, you have been guilty of a great wrong, in placing me in the
hands of these Senecas; and you may yet live to suffer for it. I never
knew a wicked act, that was not followed by its punishment."

"Not so fast, Miss Ruth--not so fast," said Guthrie, "I want you to
understand that you're _my_ prisoner; and that these Senecas only hold
you for me; and that they are answerable to me for your safety."

"If you have the power, O, take me back to my father! Guthrie," said she
imploringly, "and this act of yours to-day shall be forgotten and
forgiven; and you will find in me a friend ever more. You know the agony
my father must suffer. O, take pity on his gray hairs."

Guthrie gave a peculiar chuckle. "Can't do that, any way," said he, "or
not if----You see. Miss, the matter's here. Now your father and I _can_
be friends. There's _one_ way we can make this matter up. Let him give
up that Tuscarora to these Indians, and take me for a son-in-law, and
the thing's done at once."

Ruth, for a moment, was astounded at this infamous proposal. She looked
at him, as if doubting the evidence of her senses; but disdained to
reply.

"You see, Miss," continued Guthrie, "it wouldn't be so bad an affair,
after all. I ain't much of a woman's man, it's true; but I've got a snug
piece of land down here; and then, in these times, it isn't a bad thing
to have a friend among these wild savages; and, you see, I could protect
all of you."

Ruth answered indignantly, "I did not think, Guthrie, you could do me a
worse wrong, than you committed in treacherously making me a prisoner;
but you _have_ committed a worse one. Leave this hut, or I will appeal
to these savages to protect me; not one of them but has more courtesy,
and a better heart than you."

Guthrie looked fiercely angry at this reply; but walked deliberately
towards Ruth, and seated himself upon a bench near her. "We'll see about
that, Miss. I ain't accustomed to child's play. Now I've made up my mind
that I want you for a wife, and my wife you shall be, any way. Now,
there ain't no use in screaming, or them sort of things; but you might
just as well make up your mind to it, first as last."

Ruth, shuddering with horror, rushed from the hut: Guthrie sprang after
her, and caught her by the arm. "That won't do, Miss, any way. Them
tantrums will answer in the settlements; but out here in the woods, we
do things on squares. You can say, whether you will or you won't, and
make an end of it, just to show your freedom in the matter; but
whichever way you fix it, it don't make any difference to me; the thing
has got to be done."

During this speech of Guthrie's, Ruth had been dragged back into the
hut. She shrieked with fear and disgust, and cried aloud for help.
Guthrie rudely endeavored to place his hand over her mouth, when
Singing-Bird came running into the lodge, followed by two or three
Indians. Guthrie, ashamed of his violence, retreated towards the door.

"I've had _my_ say, Miss, and you can make up your mind to it, and save
the folks at the cottage; or you can go into these tantrums, and let the
other thing happen, just as you've a mind."

With this threat, he slowly departed, followed by the savages, while
Ruth threw herself into the arms of Singing-Bird, weeping bitterly at
this new addition to her misery.



CHAPTER XIII.


"There was such lawing and vexation in the towns, one dailie suing and
troubling another, that the veteran was more troubled with lawing within
the towne, than he was in peril at large with the enemie."
                                         HOLINSHED--CONQUEST OF IRELAND.


As we have said, Ralph and the Tuscarora, after the discovery of the
capture of Ruth, anxiously sought the means of releasing her and
Singing-Bird, as well as Ichabod, from the hands of the Senecas. They at
length hit upon a plan, which they proposed to put in execution on the
following night. They deemed it unsafe to attempt it in the daytime, as
they would be much more likely to be discovered by the Indians, than
when under the shelter of darkness.

Barton had recovered somewhat from his first paroxysm of grief, and was
at length able to take part in the preparations which were in the
making. But it was insisted upon by both Ralph and Eagle's-Wing, that he
and the negro should remain at the cottage, as well for the purpose of
defence should another attack be made during their absence, as for that
of having an asylum in readiness, should they succeed in their
enterprise. The cottage contained five or six rifles, in addition to
those which had already been in use, and was well furnished with
ammunition; and it was believed that, should another attack be made,
Barton and the negro might defend it, until assistance could be rendered
by the return of Ralph and the Tuscarora.

Some time had elapsed in these preparations, and it was already noon,
before everything was completed in readiness for the enterprise. A few
hours more were to elapse before it would be proper for them to set
forth. They had no fear that any immediate injury could be contemplated
by the Senecas to Ichabod or Ruth. They supposed that the Indians would
not resort to any means of vengeance, until they had completely failed
in their attempt to get possession of the Tuscarora. Therefore, it was
with no fear, although with much anxiety, that they waited for the hour
fixed upon by them for their hazardous enterprise.

It was just about noon that Sambo, who had been into the cattle-yard to
look after the cattle, came running into the cottage, and announced the
approach of two white strangers from the northward, who were coming on
foot in the direction of the cottage. This intelligence was received
with pleasure; for at any time, in the midst of the forest, when
visitors are few and rare, there is no little excitement on the arrival
of strangers, from whom welcome information of friends or of
occurrences at the settlement may be obtained; but at this time, when
surrounded by so many dangers, a _white_ face was almost certain to be
that of a friend.

The announcement had scarcely been made, when the strangers approached
the door, and were invited cordially by Barton to enter.

The first of the strangers who attracted their attention was a man of
slight stature, not more than five feet six inches in height, with a
sly, cunning expression of countenance. His flesh was shrivelled and
thin, and his complexion was of a yellowish white, resembling somewhat
the color of parchment. He appeared to be about thirty-five years of
age. He had a fussy, uneasy air, never seeming to rest, but constantly
twitching and jerking about--a peculiarity that passes with most men as
the result of great mental activity, but which is more often the
evidence of a disarranged, unmethodized mind.

The other personage was of a large and bulky frame, with a dull, stolid
expression of countenance; besides, his face wore unmistakable marks of
his being addicted to the use of ardent spirits--blossoms indicating
that fact being scattered in considerable profusion over it. He carried
in his hand a rifle, which, either from want of use or because just at
this precise time he was suffering from too familiar an acquaintance
with his favorite pocket companion, he seemed to have no appropriate
place for, and was unable to get into any convenient position.

The strangers entered the cottage, and the first individual we have
described, with a nervous, twitchy manner, said, with an attempt at a
graceful salutation--

"Good day, gentlemen. You do not know me, perhaps; my name is
Bagsley--attorney-at-law--reside in Johnstown, the shire of Tryon
County; and I am now out on a tour of professional business, gentlemen.
This person, who accompanies me, is Mr. Nathan Rogers, one of a
tributary profession. He is a bailiff, gentleman--deputy sheriff of the
county of Tryon--a worthy, time-honored profession; but one, which,
unfortunately, in this county, seems not to be properly appreciated, and
is not in great demand."

"Ugh!" exclaimed the Tuscarora, and turned leisurely towards the window.

"You are welcome, gentlemen," said Barton, "but I am sorry chat I cannot
offer you a better hospitality; but such as I am able to give, you are
welcome to."

The strangers seated themselves with an easy familiarity.

"Quite a beautiful country through here," said Bagsley. "I am always
delighted when I can escape from the drudgery of the profession, and
hold communion with the beauties of nature. But I must confess, you have
rather _too much_ of nature around here, gentlemen. Your roads are not
remarkably well worn or broken; and we have had quite a fatiguing
journey; have we not, Rogers?"

Rogers assented, with a sort of affirmative grunt.

"Belong in these parts?" asked Bagsley, turning towards Ralph.

"I am only on a visit here," was the answer. "I am quite as much a
stranger as yourself."

"Will you allow me to ask," continued Bagsley, addressing Barton, "how
long you have resided in this section?"

"But two years," Barton replied.

"I declare! you must have been active to have accomplished so much. But,
I believe," said Bagsley, with a professional Gravity, "you cannot have
the fee of the property here."

"I am a sort of tenant at sufferance of the Oneidas; but should the
State purchase these lands--as I believe they will, soon--I may hope to
obtain a title to what I already occupy."

"Perhaps--perhaps," answered Bagsley. "But you must be aware, as a
gentleman of experience, that, by an act of the Honorable, the
Legislature of the State of New York, passed July 25, 1782, this section
is particularly and definitely reserved to the Indians of the Six
Nations. Now, it may be questionable--I never speak with certainty out
of my office--but it may be questionable--whether the State will ever
purchase these lands. Should they not--you see the point--you lose, as a
matter of course, all of your improvements, and may be ejected at any
time."

"Of that fact I am well aware," answered Barton, "and I run my risk, of
course. But will you allow _me_ to ask, sir--if my question is not too
impertinent--what business gentlemen of your profession can find in
these forests?"

"I might, sir, according to the doctrine of the common law--the _leges
non scriptæ_--of England, which is yet the law of this State, so far as
it has not been modified by statute, and according to well settled rules
of the courts, decline answering that question, as it relates to
business intrusted to one in a professional capacity, as well as upon
other grounds; but, sir, to a gentleman of your apparent prudence and
experience, and particularly so long as I may wish to obtain important
information from you, I cannot refuse so reasonable a request."

"I did not ask the question," replied Barton, "from any desire to
intrude upon your privacy, but only as a matter of surprise that a legal
gentleman could find _any_ business in this remote wilderness that would
compensate him for the trouble of coming here."

"It _may_ surprise you, sir--it would be likely to occasion surprise,
sir--and I noticed that our red friend, here, expressed his astonishment
on learning our profession; but the truth is, we are in pursuit of a
notorious debtor, with a _capias ad respondendum_. I will describe the
person, and you may be able to give me useful information as to his
whereabouts. He is said to be about forty-five years of age, with
grizzly hair, a tall, thin form, stoops much in walking, thin, dried-up
face, but intelligent countenance, and is said to converse a great deal
upon projects of speculation in property."

"Ichabod, for all the world!" exclaimed Ralph.

"Mr. Jenkins!" exclaimed Barton.

"Ugh!" broke in the Tuscarora.

"I am happy, gentlemen, that I have been able to give a description so
brief, but comprehensive, that you are enabled at once to name the
person of whom we are in pursuit. You see, Rogers, that we are on the
right track after all."

"Yes," grunted that functionary. "We've got the track, but we haven't
got the game."

"O, that will follow, as a matter of course," chuckled the attorney.
"This Ichabod Jenkins probably resides in these parts?"

"I believe he is now in the neighborhood," answered Ralph, with a
gravity that he could scarcely maintain.

"It is important that he should be arrested on this _capias_," said
Bagsley. "The debt is for a large sum, _to_ wit: the sum of _£25, 7s.
6d_., which he owes and unjustly detains from one Samuel Parsons,
plaintiff, and he has not paid the same, or any part thereof, although
often requested so to do, wherefore the said Samuel Parsons claims
damages, &c. And any information of a precise nature, that can be given,
will be freely reciprocated on occasion. Perhaps we can get along
without troubling Mr. Jenkins very much. You seem to be his friends; and
as this is a bailable process, you can give bail for him."

"I doubt," answered Ralph, "whether it will be at all necessary. I am
sorry to inform you, that Mr. Jenkins is now a prisoner among a party of
Senecas in this immediate neighborhood."

"What!" exclaimed Bagsley, "have they also lodged a capias against him!"

"I am more fearful that they have taken him in execution," said Ralph,
with an attempt at a pun, which we are happy to say, he at once
rejected. "The truth is, that this cottage has been attacked by a party
of hostile Senecas, and not only Jenkins, but Miss Barton have been made
prisoners."

Bagsley put on a look of incredulity. "You do not mean to say, that in
these times of peace, war has been levied in this territory against the
peace of our Lord the ---- rather, against the State of New York, _ex
gratia Dei_, free and independent?"

"Fiddlesticks!" ejaculated Rogers.

"It is doubtless a mere assemblage of persons unlawfully together, for
the purpose of committing riot or some other disorderly act; and
probably a simple declaration that gentlemen of our profession are in
the neighborhood, will be sufficient to quell the disturbance. Did I
understand you to say, that this gentleman's daughter has been taken
prisoner?" pointing to Barton.

"So I informed you, sir," answered Ralph.

"I am happy to offer you my services," addressing Barton: "you can
undoubtedly sustain an action of trespass on the case, for the injury in
detaining your daughter from your service. This action, sir--and you
will notice the beauty and appropriateness of the law--is brought
technically for the loss of service--but you recover smart money, by way
of damages for harrowed feelings, &c. Miss Barton can also have her
action for assault and battery. Then there's Jenkins, why here's a way
provided, through the benignity and ubiquity of the law--for at once
satisfying this debt. He also has _his_ action for damages. Really,
Rogers, we have done just the thing by coming here."

"Make out the papers," said Rogers, "and we'll serve 'em tonight."

"It is a most singular thing," said Bagsley, addressing the company
indiscriminately, "the antipathy entertained generally, against
gentlemen of our profession. Without us, I may venture to say, the world
would be helpless--without us, what power would sustain the weak?
Without us, there would be an entire ignorance of that beautiful system
which has been adorned by a Holt, a Hale and a Mansfield. But once let
us enter an ignorant village of this description, and intelligence upon
this subject spreads with wonderful rapidity--men rush forward to try by
experience the fruits of that system which has been adorned by the
labors of genius, and perfected by the wisdom of ages. Indeed,
gentlemen, we may be called the vanguard of civilization."

This eloquent tribute to the legal profession, seemed to provoke a
variety of opinion. Barton and Ralph merely smiled. The Tuscarora
ejaculated "ugh!" with considerable more force than usual; Sambo seemed
to be perfectly enchanted--while Rogers, crossing his legs, and ejecting
a quantity of tobacco-juice upon the floor, exclaimed,
"right--Bagsley--right--and you might have added, what would have become
of the bailiffs, if there were no lawyers?"

"Can you give me the direction towards the riotous assemblage you have
mentioned?" inquired Bagsley.

"You certainly do not think of going thither?" exclaimed Ralph, in
surprise.

"Of course, sir--of course;" answered Bagsley; "were there any certainty
that Mr. Jenkins would immediately return, we would postpone the matter
for the day; but upon your intimation that he is detained _nolens
volens_, I think we shall be obliged to go in pursuit of him."

"You will encounter a great danger," said Ralph. "These Indians are
highly excited and angry, and they may not discriminate between you and
us at the cottage."

"No fear of that, sir," replied Bagsley with an air of dignity and
complacency, "I think they cannot but apprehend the distinction. What do
you think of that, Rogers."

"Right again," said the functionary. "I don't think anybody could
mistake us. There's something in the eye and manner of a bailiff that
make a rogue crest-fallen, at once. I'm ready."

"I beg you, gentlemen, as you value your lives," said Barton, "to give
up this foolish (as I must term it) errand--for the present, at least.
You will certainly regret it when too late."

"We know our duty," said Bagsley, with dignity, "and we shall make an
overt of Mr. Jenkins, whether he be defended by his friends on the one
hand, or the Indians on the other."

"I am sorry that you cannot take good advice," said Ralph; "but we, at
least, shall be conscious that we have warned you of your danger."

"Well, gentlemen," said Rogers, rising and shouldering his rifle, "I've
only got this to say--I never saw a rascal, yet, that dare look Nathan
Rogers boldly in the face; and if these Injins have got more nerve than
other rascals, I want to know it. If there't anybody in my bailiwick
that will refuse to acknowledge my authority, I want to know it, and I
will know it--that's all."

"I am very much obliged to you, gentlemen, for your advice and good
wishes for our welfare," said Bagsley, rising; "but when duty calls, we
must obey. If you will point us the direction, we will be doubly
obliged."

Their direction was pointed out by Ralph, who again made an ineffectual
effort to induce them to desist from their dangerous expedition.

"Good day, gentlemen," said Bagsley, as he was about leaving. "Our
intention is to return here this afternoon, and should you have no
objection, we will admit Mr. Jenkins to bail on your becoming bound in
double the sum I mentioned to you. Good day, gentlemen." And the
attorney departed, followed by the bailiff.

The first impulse of Ralph was to laugh at this little interlude in the
tragedy that was being enacted around them: but the matter was too
serious, after all, to be treated so lightly.

"They are gone to a long imprisonment--perhaps to death," said Barton.

"No get Jenkins, this time," said the Tuscarora. "Lose their
scalps--that all they make."

The hour now approached for the departure of Ralph and Eagle's-Wing. The
sun was just sinking behind the western hills, when, taking their
rifles, they left the cottage, proceeding is a southerly direction.



CHAPTER XIV.


     "An host of furies,
    Could not have baited me more torturingly,
    More rudely, or more most unnaturally."
                           BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER.


Ichabod, whom we have so long neglected, after the departure of Panther
and Snake-tongue, remained in as easy a position as the nature of his
confinement would permit, and gave himself up to reflection upon his
unpleasant situation. It was evident that it was the intention of the
Senecas to subject him to torture: but whether they would proceed to the
last extremity, he could not conjecture. But the possibility that such
might be their intention, could not but present itself to his mind. He
had often been in positions where death was impending; but those were
times when, amidst the excitement of conflict, the mind does not dwell
with any fixed tenacity upon that event; or, if it does, contemplates it
under the colors of excitement with which it is clothed. But now, bound
hand and foot, he was about to be led unresistingly, and in cool blood,
to that fate, about which all men think, and but few appreciate, until
the mortal hour.

Ichabod had a sort of creed, upon which he had heretofore relied with
confidence. Now, however, for the first time, he began to _doubt_
whether there was not a possibility of error in it, and whether he had
sufficiently examined points of faith which he had heretofore rejected.
But whichever way his mind wandered, he ever recurred, in his ignorance,
to the simple articles of faith in which he had so long entertained
confidence. Such were the nature of his thoughts, when Deersfoot entered
the hut, to announce to him that the Senecas and their chief were
waiting for him.

Now, Ichabod had, until this moment, been wholly engaged in the train of
thought which we have mentioned; but when it was broken by this
announcement, a new idea seemed suddenly presented to his mind.

"Yes, I know what that means, Deersfoot. It means that you are going to
tortur' me, according to Indian law. I never did ra'ally think that I
should live to be game for Senecas; but you do your duty according to
your natur', and I'll do mine, according to such light as I've got. But,
see here, Deersfoot, now, understand, that I don't ask for marcy, or
anything of that sort; but if this business _can_ be compromised to the
benefit of _us_ all then it's for your interest as well as mine to
settle it. Now, I've got a proposition to make to Panther and the rest
of you; and if you've a mind to hear it, well and good; and if you
havn't, why, then you needn't."

Deersfoot listened, under the impression that Ichabod had, at last,
repented of his resolution, and that he was willing to accept freedom
upon the terms which had been proposed to him. After Ichabod had
concluded, he replied:

"My brother is wise. I will say to the chief what my brother wishes. It
is good for us to be at peace."

With this he departed. But a few moments elapsed, before he returned
with the information that the Senecas and their chief would meet their
prisoner in council. The withes that were bound about the ankles of
Ichabod, were unfastened, yet it was some time before he was able to
stand without assistance. When he had sufficiently recovered the use of
his feet, he was conducted by Deersfoot to a lodge on the opposite side
of the circle, where he found Panther and Snake-tongue, together with
the larger portion of the Senecas, who were seated in a circle about the
lodge, to listen to his proposal.

Ichabod was placed in the centre of the circle. Conforming to Indian
custom, he preserved a perfect composure and silence, until, at length,
he was addressed by Panther:

"My brother," said he, "had a cloud before his eyes, when he refused to
listen to my counsel. The cloud has now passed away; he now sees clear;
he sees that it will be wise to do as we wish. We have come together to
listen: my brother can speak."

"I'm afraid we are laboring under some mistake here," replied Ichabod:
"as for that business you proposed to me, there's no use in talking
about _that_. It's all well enough for a Seneca to propose it; but it
would rather go agin my natur' to accept it. I came here to speak to you
about a matter of a great deal more importance than that."

There was a loud murmur of dissatisfaction among the Senecas; and many
of them sprang to their feet with the intention of taking vengeance, at
once, for this seemingly public insult. Panther, however, immediately
restored silence.

"My brother," said he, "is a great warrior; he is cunning as a fox; but
he is surrounded by warriors as brave and cunning as himself. We will
hear what he has got to say."

"Now, I want to say to you, Panther, and to the rest of you," continued
Ichabod, unmoved, "what I said to Deersfoot before I was brought in
here, that if you want to put me to tortur', and think that's the best
use you can make of me, I've nothing to say agin it, for that's good
Injin law; but if you ra'ally want to make the most out of me that you
can, then you'll listen to what I've got to say."

He paused for a few moments; but as the Indians remained silent, he
took it as a manifestation of their disposition to give him their
attention.

"You see," continued he, "that ever since the white men came over the
ocean to this country, they've been increasing and growing more
powerful, and you've been growing weaker. The people who came over, in
the first place, established colonies--they _fit_ the French--they _fit_
the Injins, and finally they had a fight with England for independence;
and notwithstanding all their Cornwallis's and Burgoyne's, and the
Injins to boot, they got what they fout for. Now, you can see, that
there's no use in your keeping up these old-fashioned customs of
tomahawking and scalping, and living in the woods, and acting like
Injins, more than like white people. If you do, it won't be long before
there won't be a red man left in the country. It's rather hard to tell
you these things to your faces; but they're facts, as you can see with
half an eye. Now there _is_ a way, in which you can not only keep your
own, but get the start of the white people, in this territory, to boot.
It may be going agin flesh and blood and color to tell such a secret to
_you_, but still, I'm willing to do it."

His auditory, at the first glance, would have seemed to be wholly
unmoved at this long introduction; but on a closer view, it would have
been seen, that while many of the Senecas shot forth wilder and fiercer
glances from behind passionless faces, others seemed moved by a feeling
of curiosity to hear the end of this strange exordium. Panther, after a
short silence, replied:

"My brother is brave; he is not afraid to speak in the midst of his
enemies. It is true that the Injins are weak and the pale-faces are
strong. We are dropping like the leaves; and the hunter comes home to
his wigwam at night, tired and hungry, and brings but little game. The
pale-faces are growing stronger. I have thought of it much. There _is_ a
way to make them grow weaker; but _that_ is not the way which appears to
the eyes of my brother. His way, I am afraid, is not a good way. He
would have us forget that we are Injins. _That_ we cannot do. Tho Great
Spirit made us red men; he made us Injins. He placed us in the forests;
he gave us tomahawks and knives with which to fight our enemies; and
bows and arrows to shoot the bear and deer. We cannot be anything but
Injins. Our fathers and grandfathers were Injins; and the little
pappoose is an Injin. As soon as he is grown, he takes to the path of
his nation. I may speak foolish; but this is what I know. If the white
men destroy us, we will die like Injins; if they drive us from our
hunting-grounds, we will not go without scalps. We will do as the Great
Spirit tells us."

There was a loud expression of satisfaction at this speech of Panther;
and he sat down under a deluge of applause, that a little alarmed
Snake-tongue for his laurels. He waited with impatience until Ichabod
should give him an opportunity to assert his superiority in the way of
speech-making. Silence having been again restored, Ichabod continued:

"To the threats you made, Panther, in your speech, I shall not reply. My
business, just now, is peaceable; and I'm addressing you for your
profit; and I shall not be diverted by angry insinuations. I've said
that the Injins are growing weaker, and the white men are growing
stronger. Now I want to give you a lesson, in the first place, in
political economy. A nation never become great and prosperous, that
relied wholly on fighting. There is no surer and better way for that,
than for a nation to be industrious, and keep a sharp eye out for the
chances. It may be, that you can't understand that idea, precisely; for
I never knew an Injin that _could_ understand how anything could be made
by honest labor: but I'll try and make the thing plain to you. Now, you
see, as these Colonies are free and independent, this country that has
been growing so fast, is going to grow a great deal faster. You'll see,
in a few years, at most, that a valley like this will be occupied by
white men, and villages will start up, and water-powers will be selected
on all such streams as this. Now, why can't you get the start of the
white men? I've been talking with Squire Barton about setting up a
factory down here; and having all this land about here laid out into
building lots. Now, you see, if you'll just look at the thing in a
reasonable point of view, you'll see the advantages of going into this
business with a jump. I'm given you a hint of the thing, Panther, and
you might make a sly bargain with the Oneidas, and buy up a large
quantity of these lots. They'll be valuable, some day, sartain. That's
one way in which you could make money out of it. Then there's another
way in which it would be a decided advantage to all your nation, male
and female, old and young, under the present order of things. A man with
half an eye can see that there's a a great lack of clothing among you;
and some of you wouldn't hardly answer to be presented into fashionable
company. You havn't but mighty little of it; and what you do wear, is of
a kind of heathenish, Injin sort. Now, you see, at a small profit, we
could supply you with cloth, so that you could wear pantaloons, jackets
and coats, and look like gentlemen; and then all you'd have to do, would
be to behave yourselves, to be a respectable sort of people. Now, if you
can't see the advantages of this speculation, all that I've got to say
is, that I pity you; and you may work your tortur' on me just as soon as
you please. I've the satisfaction of knowing that I've done my duty by
you like a Christian."

The Senecas seemed completely astounded by this long speech, and its
conclusion. The most of them looked at each other with a vacant stare,
as though they could not comprehend its meaning; while others regarded
it as a public insult, and intended as such; which, while it exasperated
their feelings, gave them a much greater regard for the bravery of
their prisoner. At length Snake-tongue slowly arose, and glancing with a
mien of dignity upon the assembly, proceeded to reply:

"My brother has spoken," said he; "he speaks with the tongue of a
pale-face, and we poor Injins cannot understand. But we have heard
enough; we can guess what our brother means. He means to put up a house
on the river and drive away the fish. He means to cut down the trees,
and make them into houses, and drive away the deer. He wants us to wear
clothes like the pale-faces. It is a strange speech. My brother does not
smile; he looks as if he talked from his heart. If he means us well,
then we thank him, although we cannot see it as he does. We do not want
the land of the Oneidas. The Oneidas are squaws; they stayed in their
wigwams when their brothers went on the warpath. We do not want the land
of the squaws; let them keep it; we will not steal it or buy it. But my
brother wants us to wear the clothes of the pale-faces. It is strange
that my brother should speak such a thing. How would an Injin look in
the pantaloons and coat of a pale-face? His brethren could not know him;
they would look him in the face and laugh. The little pappooses would
laugh at him. It cannot be; my brother does not know the Senecas; they
live after the traditions of their fathers--and their fathers never wore
the clothes of the pale-faces. The Great Spirit gave them bows and
arrows, and told them to shoot bears and deer, and make clothes from
their skins. That is what we have done; that is what we mean to do. We
have bought blankets from the pale-faces: some of our wise men have said
that it was wrong to do so--that our fathers did not wear blankets of
wool, and that _we_ ought not to do it. I have thought so myself. But to
wear pantaloons, jacket and coat! My brother might as well say that the
Senecas should learn to read in books, and hoe corn and potatoes in the
fields. We will not talk about it; my brother does not know the Senecas.
We are Injins, and we will live like Injins."

"My brother has spoken; we have heard him, and we do not like his words.
He is a brave warrior; we know it; but we are going to try and see how
brave he is. Our young men will bind him to a tree, and will throw their
tomahawks to see how near they can come to his head and not hit it. We
will then try something else. We like to know a brave warrior. It does
us good to see a brave warrior laugh at his enemies; and my brother must
be glad to know that we are going to treat him like a brave. We shall
hurt him all we can. We do not wear pantaloons, jackets and coats; if we
did, we should not know how to honor him: we should be like the
pale-faces. My brother must be glad that we do not dress like the
pale-faces. Our young men are ready."

This speech was received with "rounds of applause" in other words, "it
brought down the house;" and Snake-tongue sat down with a much greater
reputation for oratory than he possessed when he arose. When the
assembly once more became silent, and as three or four of the Senecas
advanced towards Ichabod for the purpose of conducting him to the place
selected for the torture, he said with a look of contempt:

"I might have known better than to cast pearls afore swine. They are
nothing but venomous, thick-skulled Senecas; and they may go without
clothes all their life-times, before I'll ever give 'em a piece of
decent advice agin."

Ichabod was now led a short distance from the lodges, in the direction
of the river, to the border of the cleared land. He was there fastened
to a tree, with thongs around his feet and waist. The upper part of his
body was left free, that he might display his fear by attempting to
dodge the hatchets as they were thrown at him. It was now about four
o'clock in the afternoon; and the bright autumn sun shone directly in
his face, so that it was with extreme difficulty, after a little while,
that he could even raise his eyes sufficiently to observe his enemies.
Yet he did so; for he knew that any shrinking in that respect, would be
deemed a mark of cowardice on his part.

The Indians had now gathered in front of him, at the distance of fifteen
or twenty feet, and were preparing for the commencement of the ceremony.
Resting against a stump, at a short distance on one side, was Guthrie,
who was surveying the prisoner with a look of malicious pleasure, which
he did not attempt to conceal.

Deersfoot was the first who advanced from the crowd of Senecas with his
tomahawk in his hand. As he stepped forward, he said to Ichabod:

"I shall now throw my hatchet. I shall come as close as I can. I shall
try not to hit my brother. If I do, he will be ashamed of me."

He threw his tomahawk with a force that drove the blade into the tree
within an inch of Ichabod's head, almost to the handle. Ichabod, during
the whole process, surveyed Deersfoot with a smile. As the hatchet
struck the tree, he exclaimed:

"Well done, Deersfoot. That's almost as good as a bullet from a rifle in
_practised_ hand, could have done it. You've got an expert hand, any
way, for that kind of we'pon."

A murmur of admiration broke from the Indians at this specimen of
Ichabod's coolness. Another Seneca stepped forward, and had just raised
his hatchet in the act to throw, when a loud yell in the opposite
direction attracted the attention of the Senecas. In a moment, two of
their number, who had been stationed as lookouts in that direction, were
seen advancing towards the crowd, accompanied by two whites. The reader
will at once recognize in these strangers, the attorney and his worthy
companion, the bailiff. The latter, however, had been disarmed; and
although they were not bound, their faces showed signs of indignation at
what they, no doubt, supposed to be uncivil treatment. As they
approached the crowd of Indians, Bagsley cried out,

"Will anybody be civil enough to show me the ringleader of this
disorderly assembly?"

Panther stepped forward. "If the pale-faces wish to see the chief of the
Senecas, he is here."

"I am happy to make your acquaintance, sir," said Bagsley. "I have the
honor to be a member of the legal profession--an attorney-at-law, sir,
and this gentleman who accompanies me is a deputy sheriff, sir--one who,
at this moment, bears in his own person, all the dignity and authority
of sheriff of the county of Tryon, in whose bailiwick you now are."

"Ugh!" ejaculated Panther; and the emphatic exclamation was answered by
the whole crowd of Senecas.

"Our business here, sir, is to arrest one Ichabod Jenkins, upon a
_capias ad respondendum_, at the suit of Samuel Parsons, for _£25, 7s.
6d_. I have been given to understand that he is in your custody, or that
you know his whereabouts."

Panther made a gesture towards the tree where Ichabod was confined.
Bagsley, whose view in that direction had been interrupted by the body
of Indians who stood between him and the tree, now discovered the
unfortunate debtor.

"I am much obliged to you, gentlemen," said he, "for having detained him
until our arrival. I presume it was done as a matter of accommodation to
us, as you probably had heard of our coming. Although you have made the
arrest without color of law, and _ex colore officii_, and also without
process, yet I will undertake to defend you, should he be malicious
enough to bring his suit for assault and battery and false imprisonment.
And, further, as you have behaved so properly in this matter, I shall
feel disposed to compromise amicably with you a cause of action for the
same offence, in which I have been retained by Mr. Barton. Mr. Rogers,
you will do your duty."

That worthy was about moving towards Ichabod, when his course was at
once arrested. The Indians, evidently, did not understand the value of
the proceeding, except that they were in danger of losing their victim
if this movement was not prevented. At a gesture from Panther, the
intruders were surrounded.

"The pale-face is our prisoner," said he. "We do not understand what you
wish. Our young men are trying to see how brave he is, and we cannot let
him go."

"You don't mean to say," exclaimed Rogers, "that you are going to
prevent this arrest! I'd like to see you do that! Stand back there,"
shouted he, waving his arm towards the Senecas in his front. But this
gesture had only the effect of narrowing the circle within which to
stood.

"Gentlemen," said Bagsley, "you are probably entirely unacquainted with
that beautiful system of jurisprudence which has been embellished by the
writings of Coke, and adorned by the lives of Hale, Holt and Mansfield.
You are probably, also, unacquainted with a statute recently enacted by
the Honorable, the Legislature of the State, of New York. You cannot be
aware that, by interfering with our proceedings, which are perfectly
regular--I give you my word and honor, as an attorney--you are
subjecting yourselves to fine and imprisonment."

"We know no law, except Injin law," said Panther, "and we are trying to
do our duty, as we understand it. We do not know pale-face law and we do
not want to know it."

"I must confess," answered Bagsley, "that I am not very well acquainted
with the Indian system of jurisprudence. It is, I presume, an unwritten
system--_leges non scriptæ_--and, as such, I have great respect for it;
it is undoubtedly an admirable system; but it is not the system to which
I allude. You are, gentlemen, in the county of Tryon, under the
jurisdiction of the State of New York, and amenable to its laws. I
really hope, gentlemen, that you perceive the point in the case, and
will retire, and leave us to the discharge of our duty. It will be
extremely unpleasant for us to be called upon to exercise the authority
with which we are clothed, and I really hope there will be no occasion
for it."

And he and Rogers again attempted to move forward; but the Senecas
pressed still closer; and they now found themselves completely hemmed
in, and unable to move in either direction. Ichabod, who had seen and
understood the whole proceeding now exclaimed--

"If I've got any friend among you Senecas, here, I hope you'll finish
this business as soon as practicable. A blow of a tomahawk will be
thankfully received; or if you've got up this matter to try a new system
of tortur' on me, I'll acknowledge myself a squaw at once, if that'll be
any pleasure to you. I can't stand out agin this kind of horrors, any
way."

Rogers, who now found he would not be suffered to proceed in the making
of the arrest, by the actual touching of the person of Ichabod, cried
out--

"Ichabod Jenkins, I arrest you by virtue of ----" but his voice was
drowned in the yells of the Senecas; and the two intruders were
immediately seized and bound.

"Gentlemen," said Bagsley, "bound or unbound. I will do my duty towards
_you_, at least. I shall certify to the court, according to the statute,
in such case made and provided, the names of the resisters, aiders,
consenters, commanders and favorers, who have interfered with this
arrest, and by a writ judicial, your bodies will be attached to appear
in the same court."

The voice of the attorney was drowned in the yells of the now angry
Senecas; and he, together with the bailiff, were at once led to one of
the lodges, where they were left, bound hand and foot.

Ichabod laughed with great glee over the discomfiture of this new enemy,
whom he looked upon as more formidable than the other.

"I thank you, red-skins, for this act of friendship; its ra'ally kind in
you; and I shan't have nigh so bad an opinion of your nation, hereafter,
as I have had. You _do_ hate a lawyer; and there we agree. It's a pity
that we can't be friends, under the circumstances; but I reckon that's
impossible. So, proceed to business again, and get through with this
part of your tortur' as fast as possible."

Order having been again restored, the Indian who had been interrupted by
the arrival of Bagsley and his companion, again stepped forward.

"My brother," said he, addressing Ichabod, "is brave when he faces an
Injin; but he does not like the men with long, forked tongues. We do not
like them either. We think too much of our brother to give him up. He is
a great warrior; and we want to do him honor according to Injin law. I
may hit my brother, but I shall try not to."

He threw his tomahawk as he spoke, and the blade grazed Ichabod's head
so closely that it severed a lock of hair from his brows. This was
considered a great exploit; and the Senecas testified their admiration
by loud yells.

One after one, the tomahawks of the Senecas were thrown, with divers
success. Those who did not possess full confidence in their ability to
perform the ceremony with credit to themselves, threw more at random;
and many of the weapons did not even hit the tree. The perfect composure
with which Ichabod endured this species of torture, which, to one at all
fearful or timid, would be exquisitely painful, excited the admiration
of the Indians to the highest degree. At last, Panther, who had stood
calmly by, watching the ceremony, approached Ichabod, and said--

"It is now my turn to do honor to the pale-face. I must say that he is
brave. We are glad that he is so brave. I shall now throw my hatchet,
and I hope I shall not hurt my brother very much. I expect to hurt him a
little. Should I hurt him very bad it will be a mistake, and I shall be
very sorry; for we mean to try something else. We mean to know how brave
our brother is."

He threw his tomahawk with fearful rapidity and seeming carelessness. It
passed the side of Ichabod's head, opposite that from which the hair had
been partially shorn; but it grazed so closely that the hair was shorn
to the skin, almost as smoothly as it could have been done with a razor.
It must have been exceedingly painful; but the smile which rested upon
the face of Ichabod, as the hatchet left the hand of Panther, remained,
as the Senecas, with admiration divided between the victim and their
chief, crowded around Ichabod to examine the effects of the blow.

"Well done! Well done!" exclaimed Ichabod. "I doubt whether I could beat
that with my rifle. I must say that you are about as expert a set of
fellows with them kind of we'pons as I ever come across."

Panther now approached Ichabod, and said, "we have tried our brother as
well as we could with our tomahawks. He is very brave; and it does us
good to do him honor. If we had our squaws here to scold at him, or our
pappooses to shoot arrows at him, we might please him better; but we
have not, and we please him as well as we can, to-morrow we will try and
do better. But to-night, we will leave him here tied to the tree; but he
shall have an Indian by him to keep away the wolves. We expect, in the
morning, our brother will be weaker, and he will not then be so brave.
It is not natural that he should be. We will then tell him what we mean
to do. But let not my brother be troubled; it shall be something that
will honor him much."

This was a species of torture which Ichabod had not expected. He had
been bound to the tree in such a manner that he was entirely sustained
by the thongs which confined him, and his position was becoming,
momentarily, more painful. It must be confessed, that his spirit quailed
at the idea of remaining so long a time in this painful situation; but
he knew of only one way by which he could be relieved--and that was, by
the betrayal of his friend. This he would not do; and he could only hope
that he might find some means so to provoke his guard that in his anger
the latter might, by some hasty blow, dispatch him. It was with much
impatience, then, that he waited for the approach of darkness--until
which time he would probably be left alone.

He closed his eyes, into which the sun had shone until the brilliant
glare had nearly deprived him of the power of vision, and endeavored to
draw strength and fortitude from within. But a short time elapsed,
however, before he heard a step, as of someone approaching him from
behind. It was Guthrie, who had separated himself from the Indians, and
who now came up immediately in front of him, with an ironical smile upon
his countenance. Ichabod surveyed him with a look of calmness and
composure.

"I suppose," said he, "that you've come here for the purpose of having
_your_ chance at me. Now, all I've got to say to you, is, that I've a
sort of respect for them red devils, for they do according to their
natur' and color: but as for you, you're a white-livered traitor and
Tory; and if anybody knows any other words in the English language that
have got a more contemptible meaning, they know more than I do--that's
all:" and Ichabod closed his eyes again, as with the effort to shut out
of his view so disgusting a sight.

"Pluck to the last!" exclaimed Guthrie. "I must say, that you've got
more nerve than I reckoned on; but I rather expect that you'll give in
before to-morrow's over. Do you want to know what's coming next?" asked
he, with a sneer.

"Well, stranger, I don't suppose I should know any more about it after
you have told me, than I do now," answered Ichabod; "for I've set you
down for an infarnal liar. I ain't at all particular as to what you say;
but this I do know, if them Senecas--who are gentlemen born, compared to
what you are--would give me that rifle of mine again, and set me loose
for a few moments, I'd agree, that after I'd given you a proper sort of
chastising, I'd come back here again and stand all they might choose to
do to me. It rather provokes one with Natur' and Providence, to see such
an infarnal villain as you are, live and breathe."

Guthrie chuckled, in his peculiar manner. "I've waited many a day to get
a chance at you. You didn't know _me_, when I saw you up at the cottage
yonder; but I knowed _you_. I've got a scar over here," pointing towards
his back, "that will remember you as long as it burns. You give it to me
in that scrimmage we had down here, in '79; and I thought I'd just let
you know that you may thank _me_ for what you're getting now. As for
that fighting you propose, I don't think that it's any object, for
you're receiving, now, pretty much what you desarve." Then, approaching
close to Ichabod, and laying his hand upon the spot shaven by the
tomahawk of Panther, he continued--"That was a pretty close shave, any
way. I was rather afeard he would make a bad job of it, and kill you. I
knowed him do that once:" and the villain laughed.

Ichabod groaned in his helplessness and anger. The agony of that moment
far exceeded any physical torture that the whole nation of Senecas could
have inflicted upon him. He wept in his misery, and a sob that seemed to
rend his frame, almost deprived him of consciousness for a moment. The
fearful spasm that convulsed his limbs, did what no ordinary exercise of
strength could have done,--the thongs that bound his hands snapped like
threads; and in a moment, with a convulsive rapidity against which
Guthrie could not guard, he seized the Tory by the throat--he shook him
like a leaf, until the villain fell, breathless and struggling, to the
ground. At the same moment, overpowered by this spasmodic exertion of
strength, Ichabod fell, fainting suspended by the withes which bound his
waist.



CHAPTER XV.


  _Bos_.--"He is fled--he is fled, and dare not sit it out.
  _Bir_.--What! has he made an escape! which way? Follow, neighbor
Haggise."
                                                                JONSON.


When Ichabod recovered from his swoon, he found himself in the presence
of three Senecas, who had been attracted by the struggle between him and
Guthrie. It was their presence that saved him from immediate death; for
as Guthrie arose panting and struggling for breath, his first impulse
was to present his rifle at the motionless form of Ichabod: but it was
instantly pushed aside by one of the Senecas, who had reached the spot
before his companions, and the charge passed behind the tree to which
Ichabod was confined. When the latter regained his consciousness,
Guthrie was nowhere to be seen. The hands of Ichabod were again secured,
and a thong was now passed around his shoulders, so that he was bound in
an upright and a much easier position, to the tree.

The night was rapidly approaching, and by the time Ichabod had been
completely secured, it was almost impossible to discover surrounding
objects in the darkness. A fire was kindled near the centre of the space
around which the lodges had been erected, and it was consequently much
closer to the lodge occupied by Ruth and Singing-Bird, than either of
the others. An Indian had taken his position, as guard, within a few
feet of Ichabod, and between him and the fire; and this Indian, as
Ichabod discovered, was armed, besides his knife and tomahawk, with his
own _old_ familiar rifle. How earnestly he gazed upon it, as if almost
expecting and hoping to see it recognize its old master and owner!

It was at this time, and when silence throughout the Indian encampment
was so well preserved that Ichabod could plainly hear the crackling of
the boughs which were placed upon the fire, although he was at a
distance of eight or ten rods from it, that a wild yell, but one which
denoted exultation upon the part of the Seneca from whom it proceeded,
was heard to arise from the direction of the lodge in which Bagsley and
his companion were confined. He heard some words in the Seneca language,
pronounced, at which his guard arose erect, with an appearance of
excitement. In a few moments he discovered the cause of the exclamation
of the Seneca, and of the excitement under which his sentinel evidently
labored. An Indian came rapidly towards the fire, around which his
companions were gathered, with a bottle in his hand, of which he smelt
and tasted with gestures of extravagant joy.

It seemed that the lucky Seneca, while in the lodge occupied by Bagsley
and the bailiff, had been attracted by a peculiar odor which came from
the breath of the latter, and which his olfactories at once pronounced
"fire-water." Convinced that this odor must be caused by the presence of
the article itself, in some quantity, he commenced a search of the
unfortunate dignitary; and, hidden in a capacious pocket, wrapped in old
writs and executions, but which were unintelligible to the Indian, he
found the bottle which we have seen him carry towards his companions at
the fire. It was at the moment of finding it, that he had uttered the
loud exclamation of joy, which had fallen upon the ears of Ichabod.

Loud and frequent were the exclamations of "Ugh!" "ugh!" among the
Indians, when it was discovered that such a prize had been found.
Panther, who was attracted from his lodge by the noise, endeavored to
induce the Indians to surrender the pleasure of drinking the
"fire-water" on this occasion, for one more appropriate, and when less
watchfulness was necessary. But all his endeavors were vain; for the
authority of a chief, always precarious, cannot be enforced against the
wishes and demands of the tribe. Theirs was an arbitrary government, and
power was held only upon a feeble tenure, viz: the pleasure of the
people. When Panther found that he could not prevent the larger portion
of the Indians from indulging in the pleasant intoxication which would
result from imbibing the "fire-water," he took such means--with the
assistance of Deersfoot and a few others, who were determined to remain
sober--as would be most likely to promote their safety, should the
larger portion of the Senecas become unfit to discharge their duties.

The Indians who were about the fire, and among whom the whiskey bottle
circulated freely, soon began to give evidence of unwonted excitement.
Dancing, singing, shrieking, they appeared, to one at the distance from
them at which Ichabod was placed, more like fiends in Pandemonium, than
human beings, as the red light of the fire fell upon their distorted
figures. The rays of the fire, when burning brightest, fell distinctly
upon the form of Ichabod; but as the drunkenness increased, and the
light diminished, he was thrown into a shadow. His guard labored under a
strong desire to get a taste of the whiskey; for he would occasionally
walk at a distance of three or four rods from him, where he would stand,
looking towards the fire, until a fear for the security of his prisoner
would steal across his mind, when he would rapidly return; and,
perceiving by a glance that all was right, would, after a few moments,
again move slowly in the direction of the fire. His guard had thus left
him, for the second time, when, as he fancied, he heard his name faintly
whispered behind him. In a moment afterwards, the thongs that bound his
feet, hands and shoulders, were cut, leaving fastened, only that which
bound him by the waist. The friend, whoever it was, that had performed
this kindly act, doubtless knew that it would not do to unbind him
completely, at once, as the tightness of the ligatures, and the length
of the confinement, would be apt to deprive the prisoner, for a few
moments, of the free use of his limbs. The thongs that had been cut,
were so disposed that the guard, on his return, without a very close
observation, would not be able to discover the deception. The unknown
friend had evidently planted himself behind the tree to which Ichabod
was fastened, waiting for the proper moment to sever the remaining
thong.

"Know friend?" asked a voice, in a whisper, which Ichabod immediately
recognized.

"Ah! is it you, Eagle's-Wing? I might have known that, though. No one
else would have dared to do such a thing."

"This nothing, when Injins drunk. Poor Injin that get drunk. Say, when
ready to have other thong cut."

"Don't be in a hurry, Eagle's-Wing. You see that red devil, yonder,
that's been set here to guard me? He's got my rifle, and I want it. Wait
till he comes up here again, and when he has fairly got his back turned,
then cut the thong: or, if you've got a spare knife, just give me that,
and I'll cut it myself, while you get the rifle. Hush! he's coming."

The Seneca advanced rapidly, evidently fearful that some accident might
have happened during his long absence. At this moment, a large quantity
of brush was thrown upon the fire, which almost wholly--for a few
moments--obscured the light, and left them buried in thick darkness.
This might be a circumstance either favorable or unfavorable, depending,
however, upon the suspicious nature of the Indian. As it seemed, he was
more than usually suspicious; and Ichabod breathed shorter, and the
Tuscarora prepared for a sudden spring upon him, as the Seneca advanced
close to Ichabod; and, with the intention of ascertaining that his
prisoner was safe, he reached out his hand to feel of the thongs.
Fortunately, his hand fell upon that which remained uncut, about the
waist of Ichabod, which he slightly jerked; and feeling it secure, did
not examine any further, but turned as if to walk back towards the fire.
At this moment, a knife was passed to Ichabod by the Tuscarora, and at
the same instant, the latter darted upon the Seneca, and struck him
through the back with his knife. There was no struggle--no shriek, no
sound that could have been heard four rods distant, even; for the blade
had, doubtless, pierced the heart of the Seneca, and he fell with a
slight shudder, forwards, on his face. The Tuscarora seized the rifle of
Ichabod, and before the latter had fairly unfastened himself from the
tree, he had secured beneath his belt the scalp of the unfortunate
Seneca.

"Three scalp on war-path," said Eagle's-Wing. "That not bad."

"I am sorry that you should stick to that heathenish custom,
Eagle's-Wing," said Ichabod; "but there's no use talking about it. An
Injin's an Injin, and I suppose he must fight like an Injin."

Guided by the Tuscarora, Ichabod proceeded to the border of the
clearing--but beyond the circle of light thrown by the fire--to the
distance of eight or ten rods, where they found Ralph, anxiously waiting
the result of Eagle's-Wing's enterprise. From his position, while the
fire was burning, he was able to see both Ichabod and the Tuscarora,
until the moment when the guard had returned to the tree, when the
obscurity had withdrawn them from his sight. The sudden renewal of the
light, as the fire leaped and crackled among the dry branches, showed
him that they had escaped; and it was with no little pleasure that he
again grasped the honest hand of Ichabod.

But there was yet another undertaking to be performed--and that was, the
release of both Ruth and Singing-Bird. Ralph and Eagle's-Wing had hit
upon a plan by which they hoped to accomplish their purpose; and it was
rapidly communicated to Ichabod, who approved of it; when they
immediately set about putting it into execution.

The lodge occupied by the two prisoners whom they now sought to release,
was, as we have already mentioned, situated in the centre of a circle of
lodges. The fire which the savages had kindled, was near the centre of
the circle, and was in close proximity, therefore, to the lodge occupied
by Ruth and Singing-Bird: but the fire was on the south of it, so that
the north side of the lodge, as well as the lodges immediately in the
rear, were thrown into the shade. When the hurried communication was
made to Ichabod, of the plan proposed, they were standing directly in
the rear of the lodge, and at a distance of only ten or fifteen rods
from the outer lodges. It was necessary that their plan should be put in
execution at once, as at any moment the discovery of Ichabod's escape
might be made, when the Indians would set off in pursuit; and without
their present plan could, therefore, be executed before that event
should happen, it would be likely to fail altogether.

They advanced cautiously towards the lodges; and when they arrived at a
point where they had them in full view, as well as the Senecas, who were
yet dancing and screaming about the fire, they congratulated themselves
on the fact, that no Indian was to be discovered in the direction in
which they wished to proceed. They had reached within six rods of the
outer lodges, and Eagle's-Wing had already thrown himself upon the
ground, with the intention of creeping forward in the position, when
Guthrie was seen, accompanied by Panther, approaching the lodge occupied
by the two female prisoners. They came within a few feet of it, when
they sat down upon a log, engaged, apparently, in earnest conversation.
Their voices could be heard occasionally; and although their precise
conversation could not be ascertained, it was obvious that Guthrie was
warmly insisting upon some measure that was opposed to Panther. Once or
twice Ralph thought he detected the name of Ruth Barton, as Guthrie was
expostulating in a somewhat louder tone of voice than usual. Knowing the
unscrupulous nature of the villain, he felt, by a sort of instinct, that
Panther, in that conversation, for some reason of his own, was occupying
a position in accordance with his own sentiments and feelings.

The presence of these two individuals disconcerted the whole plan of
operations. It was a difficulty which had not been anticipated. After
waiting for a short time, and seeing that neither Guthrie nor Panther
showed any immediate intention of removing, they anxiously sought for
some other plan, by which to accomplish their purpose. But ere that was
done, Panther, to their great joy, arose and departed in the direction
of the fire. Guthrie now remained alone. The Tuscarora significantly
drew his knife, and pointed towards him; but Ichabod, at once, expressed
his dissent.

"That will never do, Eagle's-Wing. You can't do that twice in one hour,
and have it succeed; for if he makes the slightest noise, we shall be
obliged to take to our heels. No--that won't do. I have it," said he,
with a sudden idea, "and I'll do a little business of my own, at the
same time;" and, after whispering a few words to his companions, he
cautiously crept backwards into the wood, and then proceeded as
cautiously in a westward direction, until he had reached a point
sufficiently out of the course that it would be necessary for Ralph and
Eagle's-Wing to pursue in making their escape.

Guthrie, in the meantime, remained seated in the same position which he
had occupied during the conversation with Panther. He was evidently in a
better mood; for, with his cap slouched over his eyes, and his head
leaning upon his hand, he seemed to be muttering his grievances to
himself. All at once, his ears were saluted with the peculiar grunt or
growl of a bear. He raised his head, turned slowly round, and looked
backwards toward the forest; then, examining his rifle, raised himself
upon his feet. Now, a bear, in the days of which we are writing, was
not, by any means, a very uncommon object with the hunter in this
portion of the State; but those animals were sufficiently scarce, so
that the capture of one, while it added largely to one's stock of
provisions, also added very much to the reputation of the hunter.
Guthrie, notwithstanding the mood which seemed to be upon him, did not
choose to neglect so favorable an opportunity of, at the same time,
ministering to the appetites of his companions, and to his own
reputation as a skilful hunter. He again heard the growl of the bear,
and, looking cautiously about to see that no one else had noticed the
proximity of the favorite game, he moved slowly forward towards the
forest.

When he had advanced to a point where his back was turned towards the
position occupied by Ralph and Eagle's-Wing, the latter crept quickly
forward in the direction of the lodge; he passed the outer lodge, and
halting for a moment to see that he was not observed, moved again
rapidly towards the lodge where he expected to find Ruth and her
companion.

As Guthrie advanced into the forest, Ichabod, from whom the sounds had
proceeded that attracted his attention, moved as cautiously before him,
occasionally, however, imitating the growl of the animal he was
personating, so as to keep Guthrie from straying from the right
direction. In this manner, he had succeeded in leading Guthrie nearly
half a mile from the lodges of the Senecas, when, as he believed that
before that time, Ralph and Eagle's-Wing must have succeeded in their
efforts, as a failure on their part would have been signalled by the
cries of the enemy, he determined to end the hunt upon which Guthrie was
engaged, by letting him know the precise _game_ of which he had been in
pursuit. Secreting himself behind a tree, that he might not be too early
discovered by Guthrie, as it was not so dark but that objects at two or
three rods' distance might be discerned with tolerable accuracy, he
waited the coming of his enemy. As Guthrie was about passing him,
slightly bent forward, as in the attempt to pierce into the obscurity of
the forest, he leaped upon him and pinioned him in his muscular arms. In
a moment more, Guthrie was disarmed, and was lying helplessly upon the
ground, his hands being securely fastened by a cord which Ichabod had
drawn from his pocket. Guthrie, in his astonishment and fear, had not
yet recognized the person of his captor.

"Get up here, you infarnal villain!" cried Ichabod; "what's the use of
lying upon the ground, when you can just as well stand on your feet?"
and he caught hold of him to assist him in rising. Guthrie now saw that
he was in the power of Ichabod--and at once, with the characteristic
meanness and cowardice of a rascal, began to beg for life.

"You judge of me, I reckon," said Ichabod, with contempt, "by what you'd
do yourself, were you in my place, you white-livered Tory. Stop your
howling. I don't intend to kill you. I never do that kind of thing in
cold blood; and yet I don't know why a man's conscience should be
burdened any by smothering the venom of such a _reptile_ as this,
anywhere he can catch him."

Ichabod surveyed the miserable wretch for a few moments, with a mixture
of disgust, contempt, and pity. Fear seemed to deprive him of all
rational power of speech, and he testified his agony by sobs and
shrieks. Ichabod drew from his pocket another cord.

"I'll tell you what, you infarnal traitor, you shall have a touch of
the same fare you sarved up for me; only you won't have anybody to guard
you from the bears and wolves. You'll be tied up to this tree to-night;
and if your friends find you scattered round in pieces in the morning,
it will be the fault of the bears and wolves, and not mine."

With this, he fastened him securely to the tree. Then shouldering his
rifle, he exclaimed, amidst the shrieks of the miserable wretch for
help--

"You're a Tory, a traitor, and a liar; and there's no use in asking God
to have marcy on your soul, under any circumstances. All I've got to say
is, before bidding you good-night, that if you escape from here, and
your miserable carcass ever crosses my path, I'll shoot you as I would a
wolf."

So saying, he departed in a north-easterly direction, towards the clump
of willows where the canoe of Eagle's-Wing was concealed. This spot had
been agreed upon as the rendezvous; and Ichabod walked rapidly, spurred
on by the excitements of the day through which he had already passed,
and by the hope of meeting all his friends once more in safety. For
nearly a quarter of a mile, the shrieks of Guthrie could be heard,
mingled with oaths and cries for help; but soon these sounds failed to
reach his ears, and he was alone amidst the silence of the forest.



CHAPTER XVI.


   "The bow has lost its wonted spring,
    The arrow falters on the wing,
    Nor carries ruin from the string,
    To end their being and our woes."
                                FRENEAU.

The Tuscarora, after the departure of Ichabod, followed by Guthrie,
cautiously crept towards the lodge in which he expected to find Ruth and
Singing-Bird. This he was enabled to do in comparative safety, as he
moved in a deep shadow; and his only danger consisted in the chance of
meeting some straggling Seneca, or someone who might have been selected
as a guard for this particular quarter. But, without interruption, he
gained the side of the lodge, the entrance to which was upon the west;
but he could not reach it without a momentary exposure of his person to
the eyes of anyone who might chance to be looking in that direction.
Arriving at this point, he paused, and began imitating the shrill
whistle or screech of the tree-toad, which, it seems, had been agreed
upon between him and Singing-Bird, as a signal of his presence, in any
emergency like the present. To his surprise, he received no answer.
Again he gave the signal, but no answer was returned. A cold shudder
ran through that frame of the Tuscarora, as he feared that the prisoners
had been removed, and that their enterprise must fail. But he was
determined to realize his worst fears by an examination of the interior
of this lodge. With this view, he advanced to the extreme point where
his person could be obscured in the shadow--a distance of six or eight
feet from the entrance. He darted forward, with an agility quickened by
the mixture of hope and fear, and found himself within the lodge. It was
empty. For a moment, the impassable nature of the savage was
overpowered, and he gazed around him with a look of despair; and a
shudder passed over him, that shook his strong frame as a leaf is shaken
by the wind. But despair could not bring relief, and activity and
courage only could retrieve the time that had been lost. Again he passed
the entrance, and with the same caution retreated to the place where he
had left his companion.

"They are gone!" he said.

"Gone?" exclaimed Ralph.

But at the same moment a yell was heard; and they beheld the Indians
darting from the fire towards the spot where Ichabod had been confined.
It was now too late; their only hope was in flight. A few moments was
left them, ere the Senecas would be upon their track; for the savages
would readily comprehend that the escaped prisoner would fly in the
direction of the cottage. Ralph and Eagle's-Wing hesitated for a moment;
the last hope of relief to the unfortunate prisoners seemed extinguished
by this premature discovery of the flight of Ichabod. They darted into
the forest, and rapidly ran in the direction of the _rendezvous_ which
had been agreed upon with their friend. Some little time elapsed, ere
they discovered that they were pursued; but another, and wilder and
fiercer yell from the Indians, denoted that some new discovery had taken
place, which had excited them still more. Had Ichabod been again
captured? That could not well be; as he had but a short time before left
them; and they knew that he did not intend to return again to the lodges
of the Senecas. A hope sprang to the heart of Ralph, that perhaps Ruth
and Singing-Bird had also escaped; and that the Senecas had but just
ascertained that these, the most prized of their prisoners, had fled.
But the hope was too faint, too weak, to revive his drooping spirits.

They were now conscious that they were pursued, and that their pursuers
could not be, at the most, more than a hundred rods behind them. It was
yet half a mile to the _rendezvous_; but they were both inured to
exercise; and they ran with an ease and freedom, that promised to keep
at least that distance between them and their pursuers. After the cries
of the Senecas which had first fallen upon their ears, had died in the
silence, occasionally was heard a wild shriek behind them; but at
length these entirely ceased. It was a chase of life and death--the
silence of the forest was unbroken by any sound save that of its own
music, answering to the gentle pressure of the wind; but they knew well
that this silence was owing to the caution of their unrelenting enemies.

They arrived, panting at the _rendezvous_. Eagle's-Wing darted into the
clump of willows, with the expectation of beholding Ichabod; but he was
not there. What was now to be done? Should they remain here, or continue
their flight towards the cottage? It was fully a mile distant; and yet,
were they to be absent, should the Senecas again attack it, as they
would be likely to do, in their present excitement, Barton and the negro
would, perhaps, be unable to defend it; and they, too, would fall into
the hands of the Senecas, from whom no mercy could now be expected. They
must continue their flight; it was the only course. A few moments had
been lost in this brief consultation; but the time lost had served to
give them new energy for flight.

They proceeded onward with the same rapidity; the shanty was passed; and
they reached the path leading from the cottage into the valley. They had
arrived within a quarter of a mile of the cottage, when they discovered
persons moving before them, in the same path in which they were
traveling. They relaxed their speed, and advanced with more caution than
they had yet observed. But, cautious as they were, their approach was
detected by the persons they had observed.

"Speak, or I fire!" shouted the stentorian voice of Ichabod.

"Ichabod!" exclaimed Ralph, who with Eagle's-Wing now rapidly
approached; and what was their surprise and joy, as they beheld with
their friend, both Ruth and Singing-Bird.

Hearty were the salutations, and joyful the greetings between the
re-united friends; but Ralph quickly explained the situation of matters;
and the fact that the Senecas must be within a hundred rods of them, at
least.

They had yet time to reach the cottage. Their flight was necessarily
slow; but the Indians must run at least two rods to their one, to
overtake them. This was great odds, under ordinary circumstances; but,
although Singing-Bird was more used to this species of exercise than
Ruth, yet even she was fatigued already; but the energy that fear will
give, even when the physical powers are over-taxed, supported Ruth for a
while. They were in sight of the cottage--it was not more than a furlong
distant, when Ruth, who had been partially supported by Ralph, to this
point, fell fainting into his arms. Yet sustaining her insensible form,
he still advanced rapidly towards the cottage. It was now evident that
some of their pursuers were close behind them; a fierce yell
communicated to them the fact, that they had been discovered; and a wild
scream from twenty throats a few rods more distant denoted that their
pursuers was rapidly overtaking them.

"I'll have a crack at that Injin any way," exclaimed Ichabod; as the
foremost Seneca came leaping towards them. Excited by the chase, he did
not stop to count the odds; but with upraised tomahawk, the Indian
rushed towards the flying group. Ichabod fired; and the scream of the
Indian denoted that the ball had taken effect. It had, at least, learned
him moderation; and he stopped leaning against a tree, awaiting the
approach of his companions.

They passed the grove--the cottage door was opened, and Barton advanced
to meet them. A moment more, and they had passed the threshold, and the
door was barred. At this instant, the pursuers came rushing into the
grove; and fierce and wild were the shrieks of anger, as they saw their
escaped prisoners shut from their view.

We will take this opportunity, while the reunited friends are exchanging
their congratulations at once more beholding each other in safety, to
narrate briefly the history of the escape of Ruth and Singing-Bird.

It has been said that Singing-Bird, by the use of a little duplicity,
had been able partially to deceive the Senecas. She had been able to
make Panther believe that when they had once reached the country of the
Senecas, beyond the lakes, she would yield to his wishes, and become his
wife. From the time that Panther had formed this belief, she was much
less carefully watched; and had such opportunities to escape, that
nothing but her ignorance of the place where Eagle's-Wing was to be
found, had prevented her from improving them. When Ruth was brought in
as a captive, and she had ascertained the precise condition of matters,
she at once resolved to fly, on the first opportunity. The same incident
which had formed the escape of Ichabod--the debauch of the
Indians--presented the opportunity she wished; and taking a favorable
moment, when the larger portion of the Senecas were gathered about the
fire, and the few who remained sober, were distributed as guards over a
much larger space than usual, she and Ruth issued from the lodge. They
passed the precise spot, which, but a few moments later, was occupied by
Ralph and the Tuscarora--and entered the forest. At first, excited by
the hope of liberty, and the fear of detection, they fled with a speed
which their strength and power of endurance would not allow them long to
continue; but as they began to feel the fatigue incident upon their
efforts, and as they were not able to ascertain that the Senecas had
learned their flight, they slackened their speed, and walked with as
much rapidity as the nature of the ground would allow. They endeavored
to keep a straight north-westerly course; and by doing so; they would
naturally reach that point on the river, which had been selected,
although unknown to them, by Ichabod and his friends, for a rendezvous.

They did, in fact, reach that particular spot; and were passing by it,
when Ichabod, who had just before reached it, to his exceeding surprise
beheld them, and at once presented himself, calling them by name, to
prevent the fear which they would naturally feel, had he suddenly shown
himself, when in the darkness, perhaps, they would not have been able to
recognize him.

He informed them of the fact that Ralph and Eagle's-Wing were then
engaged in efforts for their escape; and he debated for a few moments
with himself, whether they should remain at the rendezvous, and wait the
coming of their friends, or proceed towards the cottage. But the
consideration, that should Ralph and Eagle's-Wing be discovered, or
should the Indians ascertain the flight of himself and his companions,
their position at the rendezvous would be much less safe, encumbered as
they would be with companions whom it would be necessary to protect, and
who could not add to the means of defence, determined him to proceed;
and they set off immediately, in the direction of the cottage. The rest
of the story has been already told.

When the family and friends found themselves once more united in the
cottage, after the first hearty congratulations, they proceeded to
observe the dispositions made by the Indians; and to discover, if
possible, what might be their plan of operations. The grove by this time
was filled with enemies; and a few, even, had advanced upon the lawn
between the grove and the cottage; but they were soon recalled to their
ideas of safety and self-protection, by the discharge of the rifles of
Ichabod and the Tuscarora, not without effect. These more adventurous
Senecas, immediately retired.

All necessary and proper precautions were at once taken; but the Indians
made no movement that indicated an immediate attack. It was probable,
even, that the result of their former attack, might altogether
discourage them from a new attempt; but whatever was their intention,
they were careful not to give any intimation of it. Within the grove,
they were not, in the darkness, visible from the cottage, and it was
only after a number of hours had passed, without any indications of an
attack, that it was thought they would be left in peace for the night.

The proper precautions for safety were taken; and the over worn and
over-tasked defenders of the cottage sought a broken repose.



CHAPTER XVII.

    "The miserable have no other medicine,
    But only hope;
    I have hope to live."
                       MEASURE FOR MEASURE.

The morning sun arose bright and cheerful, with promise of one of those
fair autumnal days which has crowned this peculiar season, as the
"sweetest, saddest of the year." The inmates of the cottage, too, arose
refreshed by a few hours of repose, and with energies strengthened for
the labors or dangers of the day. They were once more united. The malice
of their enemies had been defeated, and the courage and inspiration
which are derived from success, gave promise of ultimate triumph over
all their difficulties.

The morning meal passed off happily and cheerfully; and Ruth
notwithstanding the excitement and fatigue of the preceding evening,
possessed all that sweetness and calmness of spirit which had so much
charmed Ralph, on the evening of his arrival.

"Really, Captain Weston," she said, "you must have a strange idea of
this valley. You have been with us but four days, and we have had in
that brief time, an Indian war--sieges and battles--captivities and
escapes."

"I must say, Miss Barton, that you have provided me with one
entertainment to which I was not invited; but we may hope now, that the
"piping days of peace" are come. Your father has some fine trout-fishing
yet in reserve for me, and Jenkins wishes to survey his location for a
factory and city lots."

This rally at Ichabod was received with considerable merriment, but he
was not at all disconcerted.

"You may laugh at that idea, Captin," said he, "but it isn't laughing at
a sensible thing that makes it ridiculous. But I _was_ rather provoked,
when I proposed that idea to them Senecas in full council, and offered
to provide 'em with cloth for pantaloons, coats and jackets, to see the
pervarse creturs insist upon sticking to their Injin, heathenish sort of
garments. But, after all, it _is_ an innovation on their old habits, and
I shall have to begin by fitting up Eagle's-Wing with Christian clothes,
and send him out as a missionary on that business.

"No good for Injin to wear pale-face clothes," said the Tuscarora, with
contempt. "How Injin look dressed like white man?"

"There you go!" exclaimed Ichabod. "Seneca or Tuscarora, it don't make
any difference. If I was going to convart the Injins, the first step I
should take, would be to send out a cargo of tailors; for I _do_
believe that if you could only get them to put on decent clothes, they'd
be willing to take up a decent religion."

"That's a new idea, certainly," said Ruth; "but I should pity the
unfortunate workmen. They would scarcely make a living at the business."

"The idea is not unphilosophical," said Ralph, laughing. "Ideas are very
much like clothes. They are just as easily put off or on; and to conquer
the prejudices of the Indians in one respect, would be to conquer them
in another. It is a pity, Ichabod, that you had not lived to be a
coadjutor with Elliot. The result of his labors might have been vastly
different."

"Well," replied Ichabod, "I never did know a new idea that wasn't
laughed at. I suppose you want to have your fun at me, but I'll live to
have mine at you, yet."

While the family were at breakfast, Sambo had been sent out to overlook
the surrounding country for any signs of Indians. He now came running in
to say that a "whole army of Injins was coming, and no mistake."

At this alarm, the party at once betook themselves to their defences;
and from the lookouts they endeavored to get a sight of the approaching
enemy.

"The lying nigger!" exclaimed Ichabod. "Only _one_ Injin and without
we'pons at that."

"He is evidently coming with a message of some sort or other," said
Barton. "Suppose you go, Ralph, and hear what he has to say."

Ralph went out towards the grove where the Indian was waiting for him.
As he approached the Seneca, the latter took from his belt a letter and
delivered it to him.

"Pale-face prisoners send letter to talk," said the Seneca, as he
surveyed the document with a sort of superstitious fear. "Hear him talk,
eh?"

"Perhaps so," answered Ralph. "I will give you an answer soon, if it
should need one," and he again entered the cottage, while the Indian
threw himself lazily upon the ground.

When Ralph reached the room where the inmates were assembled, much
speculation was going on as to the probable contents of the letter; for
its delivery to Ralph had been observed. It was evident that it must
have been written by the attorney; and it was immediately opened, and
the contents read aloud by Ralph. The letter ran thus:

"To Esquire Barton, or to whomsoever these presents shall come,
Greeting:

"Sir--I am requested by that excellent but somewhat irascible chief,
Panther, to address you a few lines--although I can scarcely say that
they are written in a professional capacity. He has just advised me that
he holds the Deputy Sheriff and myself in his hands, as a sort of
equivalent for a certain Tuscarora Indian and his squaw, supposed and
believed to be now at the cottage and he has even gone so far, though in
a very civil manner, as to inform me, that without the said Indian and
his squaw are delivered to him, he will be under the necessity of
executing upon us some horrid species of capital punishment, for which I
know no technical name; and for which, I think, none is to be found in
the most approved authorities. He has requested me, as he himself is not
skilled in clerical matters, to write this, and to say that he proposes
a consultation, at which said matter shall be considered, and at which
shall be present, besides myself and the said Deputy Sheriff, Rogers,
two of each party, unarmed; the meeting to take place in the grove south
of the cottage. This line is forwarded by the bearer, who is to precede
us by half an hour.

   "Your most humble servant,
      JOHN BAGSLEY."

P.S. Should Mr. Ichabod Jenkins be present at the cottage, I hope that
he will consider himself under arrest, although a manual touching was
not actually made upon his person, unfortunate circumstances preventing.
Should he decline to consider himself under arrest, I hope that he may
be detained until our arrival, and the making of the proposed exchange."

Ralph could not restrain his laughter as he read this curious epistle.
The quiet confidence with which the attorney assumed that the exchange
would at once be made, and the business-like appeal to Ichabod, were
sufficiently provocative of a smile from all, except Ichabod, who did
not seem to relish this public reminder of the unfortunate result of
some of his previous speculations. But it was deemed advisable to
consent to the meeting, as it was possible that some result might be
arrived at, which would terminate the present difficulties.

Ralph therefore informed the Seneca that they would consent to treat
with Panther on the terms proposed, at the time appointed; and the
Indian at once departed to convey the answer.

"This attorney is a strange man," said Barton: "and he has probably
involved himself and his companion in a difficulty from which they will
not be able to escape."

"Who wants him to escape?" growled Ichabod. "A Seneca even, is a
gentleman, compared with one of those sneaking attorneys; and yet,
perhaps, it wouldn't be right not to try to save the creturs; seeing as
how they're human flesh and blood; _but_ if we do save 'em, I suppose I
must bid you good-bye, and start for the settlements."

"Don't be discouraged, Ichabod," said Ralph; "we shall probably find
some means to relieve you, should you be actually arrested. But the
first thing is, to get these unfortunate men from the hands of the
Senecas. They would seem to insist, from the letter, that Eagle's-Wing
and Singing-Bird should be delivered up to them. If no other terms than
these are proposed, Bagsley and his companion will have to suffer the
penalty of their temerity. They were well advised beforehand."

"Dey lose scalp: don't know enough to keep 'em," said Eagle's-Wing.
"What scalp good for, if they don't know 'nough to keep Injin from
taking 'em?"

"It may be a small matter to you, Eagle's-Wing," said Barton, laughing,
"but these prisoners would probably think their scalps of great
importance to themselves. But if I am not mistaken, I see them
approaching through the grove. I would suggest that Ralph and myself be
selected for this meeting. You, Ichabod, and the Tuscarora, would be too
likely to provoke an unfortunate termination of the matter, by the anger
your presence would excite."

This selection was agreed to; and Ralph and Barton walked towards the
grove, to the same place where the former consultation had been held. As
they arrived at this spot, they saw approaching, at a few rods distance,
Bagsley and the Deputy Sheriff, who were only bound by a strong thong
passed around the left arm of Bagsley and the right arm of Rogers; so
that they were effectually coupled. As Rogers was much taller than the
attorney, the confinement seemed to be equally irksome; for, while the
attorney was compelled to walk in a much more than usually erect
position, his companion was compelled to stoop enough to meet him
half-way. It was a compromise that did not seem to have the effect of
pleasing either, and gave rise to frequent altercations between them;
the attorney insisting that Rogers did not stoop enough, and the bailiff
swearing that Bagsley did not lift himself up enough, to divide equally
the difficulty.

They were accompanied by our old acquaintances, Deersfoot and
Snake-tongue, who marched beside them with a steady gravity, which no
one but an Indian could have preserved. When they reached the small plot
of green-sward, the Indians made brief but dignified salutations to
Barton and Ralph, who returned them in as brief and dignified a manner.
But Bagsley made an effort to rush forward to grasp Barton by the hand,
but he was withheld by the weight of his more saturnine companion.

"How often am I compelled to inform you, Mr. Rogers," said Bagsley with
irritation, "that the line of conduct adopted by you is neither in
accordance with courtesy nor good breeding? Could you not see that there
is a propriety in accosting our friends with warmth, who are about to
relieve us from an unpleasant situation? I declare, that under no
circumstances, will I ever consent to be so closely united with you
again. But excuse me, gentlemen. You will pardon any seeming
disrespect, under the circumstances," casting a contemptuous glance
over his left shoulder.

"There's no use in blowing up a fellow in this fashion," answered
Rogers. "You hang down on me so, that it's no wonder I don't stir any
more than I'm obliged to."

"Good day to you both," said Barton. "I am sorry to see you in such a
situation; but you will give me the credit of having prophesied such a
result to you."

"I must say, that the advise you gave us, was not far from correct,"
answered Bagsley; "but I relied upon the majesty of the law, and the
sanctity of our persons, as its humble officers, as sufficient to
protect us; and I am well convinced, that were our red friends to suffer
me to instruct them in some of its elementary principles, they would see
the error of their conduct, and discharge us with a proper
acknowledgment in satisfaction of damages. But I am sorry to say, that
they have thus far refused to listen to instruction relative to a system
of jurisprudence, adorned by the writings of Bacon and Coke, and
illumined and embellished by the lives of Hale and Mansfeld, and ---- I
really wish, Mr. Rogers, that you would suffer your person to become a
little more pliable." This interruption was occasioned by Rogers having
risen erect, in an attempt to illustrate the dignity of the profession
of which he was an officer; and the consequence was, that the attorney
found himself lifted from his feet, and suspended in the air.

"I aren't to blame," said Rogers gruffly, "for your being so small. Lay
that to them as it belongs to."

"After the notice which you have received, gentlemen," said Bagsley, now
opening the business of the meeting, "it cannot be necessary for me to
state the object of this consultation. You are aware that Mr. Rogers and
myself have fallen into the power of our red friends, without legal
warrant or authority on their part; by which act, they have undoubtedly
become liable to us in damages. But they allege, that they are sovereign
in themselves, and only amenable to their own laws; but as they are now
in the county of Tryon, this position is anomalous, to say the least; it
is an establishment of an _imperium in imperio,_ which cannot exist--as
I could substantiate by the authority of the best legal writers. But,
notwithstanding such points and arguments as I have presented, and--as
Mr. Rogers will admit, with considerable force--they adhere to their
first expressed opinion as a point _res adjudicata_, and refuse to
release us, except upon terms. I have the more readily consented to
those terms, as I am not called upon in any way to release our rights of
action for damages."

"May I ask the precise nature of the terms you mention?" inquired Ralph.

"Of course, Captain Weston; that is a proper subject of inquiry The
terms, in themselves, are easy, and I must say, much easier than could
have been expected. They are, that we shall be released, on the delivery
to them of a certain Indian and his squaw, who are somewhere
hereabouts."

"I know the Indian to whom you allude," said Ralph. "The Senecas have
already endeavored to obtain possession of him, after having grievously
wronged him; and we have thus far defended him, at the risk of our
lives."

"I know nothing about the original difficulty between this Indian and
the Senecas," said Bagsley, "but whatever it may have been, I think the
whole matter can now be amicably adjusted, and will be. You will deliver
him and his squaw, and receive us in exchange: the Senecas will at once
depart from this territory, and remove with them that anomaly in our
laws of which I have spoken; while we, having completed the arrest of
Mr. Jenkins, will depart also, and the territory will be quiet again."

The duty which devolved upon Barton and Ralph was becoming exceedingly
unpleasant. It was hard to undeceive the unfortunate attorney, whose
confidence in the exchange proposed was so strong. He evidently could
not realize that any impediment could stand in the way; or that Ralph
and Barton could hesitate for a moment in releasing them upon terms that
seemed so easy.

"We have already intimated to you, Mr. Bagsley," said Ralph, with a
seriousness that immediately attracted the attention of the attorney,
"that the Tuscarora is our friend. He has rendered Mr. Barton and myself
services for which we are deeply grateful to him."

"That, perhaps, complicates the matter, a little," answered Bagsley: "a
debt of gratitude, although not strictly a legal obligation and of a
nature to be enforced in a court of law, (although it will frequently
support an executed contract by way of consideration,) is, I must
confess, exceedingly hard to be rid of; and perhaps one would not be
justifiable in repudiating it upon light occasions; but the question
here presents itself in this manner; a debt of gratitude upon the one
side, which, I have observed, is not actionable, and the lives of two
gentlemen of the profession on the other. The preponderance of argument
is so obvious, that I should be wasting time in calling your attention
to it."

"There is an addition to the argument, upon what you deem the weaker
side, that you have forgotten to mention--that is, the _lives_ of our
friends, whom you ask us to surrender."

"That was not a matter unthought-of," said Bagsley, with complacency:
"it was merely a point reserved. I cannot bring myself to believe that
our red friends would carry matters to the extremity which they have
threatened. It was probably only one of those pardonable subterfuges by
which we endeavor, in the profession, to bring parties to terms--a
matter merely held up _in terrorem_."

"I hope," said Ralph, who was determined to undeceive the attorney at
once, "that it may be as you say; but neither Mr. Barton nor myself,
however unpleasant to you or ourselves such a determination may be, can
think, for a moment, of surrendering the Tuscarora into the hands of
enemies who are thirsting for his blood."

This announcement, made in a firm tone, but with a look that indicated
the sorrow with which it was made, struck the attorney with surprise and
fear. A mortal pallor overspread his features.

"You do not mean, Captain Weston--you _cannot_ mean, Mr. Barton, that
you will not release us?"

"Anything that we can do, except the surrender of any of our friends
into the hands of the Senecas, we will cheerfully, gladly do. But that,
you will yourself see--however unpleasant it may be to you, to
acknowledge it--we cannot do."

"My God! my God!" exclaimed Bagsley, forgetting, in his fear, his
professional character, "what shall we do?"

"I consider it rather hard fare," said Rogers, who being of a more
saturnine temperament than the attorney, was not so susceptible to
sudden emotions. "If two white men, and professional gentlemen to boot,
arn't reckoned of any more consequence than a couple of wild Injins,
what's the use of being white folks, I'd like to know?"

Deersfoot and Snake-tongue, who had thus far preserved a perfect
silence, now advanced to take part in the conversation:

"My brothers know," said Deersfoot, "that they must give us Canendesha
and his squaw, or these pale-faces must die. We have spoken, and so it
must be."

"Deersfoot," said Barton, "I cannot believe that you will put them to
death. You are now at peace with the Colonies. These men have done you
no harm. Even if you have cause for anger with us, these men are
innocent. It would be a murder, for which the Colonists would take ample
revenge in burning your villages and destroying your people."

"They are pale-faces, and that is all we know. If one pale-face does us
harm, we will hurt all the pale-faces we can. We have buried the hatchet
with the Colonies, and we will not dig it up. We are not on a war-path;
but if we are injured, we will do what hurt we can. I have spoken."

"If you do any harm to these men," said Ralph, "we will punish you, if
we have to follow you to your own country. There are men at the
settlements who will take up this quarrel."

"Let the pale-faces take care of themselves," said Snake-tongue. "They
may boast less, by-and-by. _We_ do not boast, but we will do what we
can. Our talk is finished. Let us go."

Deersfoot advanced towards the attorney, who remained as if stupified.
"Come!" said he, laying his hand upon him. The attorney shrieked with
fear.

"For Heaven's sake, Captain Weston--Mr. Barton, do not let these Indians
take us back again."

"We pity you, unfortunate men; but we cannot help you. We wish we
could," exclaimed Barton.

At this moment, Ichabod and the Tuscarora were seen issuing from the
door of the cottage, with their rifles in their hands. Their faces
expressed a determination that was unmistakable but at the same instant,
a body of Indians was seen approaching at the opposite extremity of the
grove. The Indians had evidently foreseen this result of the
consultation, and were now approaching on some mischievous errand.
Barton and Ralph immediately departed towards the cottage, into which
Ichabod and the Tuscarora also retired, while the attorney and his
companion departed in the opposite direction, under guard of the
Senecas.



CHAPTER XVIII.


   "And long shall timorous Fancy see
      The painted chief and pointed spear;
    And Reason's self shall bow the knee
      To shadows and delusions here."
                                   FRENEAU.


Deersfoot and Snake-tongue, with the two prisoners, after a short
distance, met the main body of the Senecas. Beyond the grove was a small
strip of partially cleared land, which was covered with a thick
green-sward. Here the Indians halted, and immediately held a council, in
which to deliberate upon the fate of their prisoners, and upon their
future proceedings with reference to the cottage. When the failure of
the negotiation was announced, the whole wrath of the Indians was
concentrated upon the unfortunate attorney and his companion. In their
eyes, the latter were answerable for all the wrongs which they fancied
they had suffered from the pale-faces and their Tuscarora ally at the
cottage.

Bagsley and the bailiff were placed in the centre of a circle of
warriors. Rogers maintained a sullen silence, and surveyed the hostile
countenances of the Senecas with a look of seeming indifference; but the
attorney, from the moment that the unexpected refusal of Barton and
Ralph to exchange him for the Tuscarora had shown him his imminent
danger, remained seemingly stupefied with fear. But, as he beheld around
him the assemblage of warriors, and a certain appearance of
deliberation, he began to recover the use of his faculties. Perhaps, he
thought that the act of deliberation implied a doubt of their actual
intention; or, perhaps, seeing that he might have an opportunity to
plead for his life, he placed some reliance upon his oratorical powers.
But, whatever was the cause, it is certain that, in his appearance, he
resumed a portion of his professional dignity of demeanor.

The warriors and their chiefs were assembled in council. Panther, as
principal chief, occupied the most prominent situation; beside him sat
Deersfoot and Snake-tongue, and two or three others, who were recognized
as superior to the great mass of the Indians. When the assembly had
finally assumed an appearance of order, the younger chief, whose name
was Bearsclaw, arose to speak. He had never yet gained a reputation for
oratory, and he assumed a modesty and humiliation that were proper to
his station.

"Brothers," said he, "you know my name--it is Bearsclaw; it is a name
which was given to me because I was thought to be strong in struggling
with my enemy. I did not deserve it: I should have had a smaller name. I
have not the tongue to speak; but I can tell what I think--I think these
pale-faces should live. I think that we should keep them prisoners a
little while, and then let them go. Shall I tell you why? They came to
us freely; we did not take them! they have not wronged us. Perhaps I do
not think right; I do not know but a little; but what I think I will
speak. I see that you do not like my words, and I am sorry that you do
not. If we kill them, we shall get into trouble. The pale-faces from the
settlements will come out on the war-path, and will ravage our hunting
grounds. I am not a coward--you have seen me in fight. My name is
Bearsclaw. I cannot speak much; but I can tell what I think. I have
spoken."

This speech was received in silence--a silence, perhaps, that implied
dissatisfaction. But Bagsley argued from it a favorable result; for he
thought a matter could not be predetermined, about which a chief had
spoken, as if there was doubt as to the propriety of the course that had
been threatened. When Bearsclaw sat down, Snake-tongue, as the chief
next highest in rank arose and said:

"Brothers, you have heard the counsel of Bearsclaw: he has a large name.
It is a great pity that a warrior with so brave a name, cannot be brave
in speech. I do not think as he does. I am an Iroquois--of the nation of
the Senecas. I have always been taught not to be afraid. Bearsclaw has
said that the pale-faces from the settlements will follow us on the
war-path. Let them come! We want to see them in the woods and fields. We
do not want to see them skulking behind walls and log houses. Let them
follow us into the woods: there is where I want to see them.

"I say that these pale-faces should die. They have been the cause of all
our troubles. If it had not been for their fire-water to-day we should
have tortured the brave that we tortured yesterday. He was a brave
warrior, and it would have done us good to have tortured him. But he
escaped; and how? The fire-water of these pale-faces made our young
warriors careless, and we lost him; and we lost the pale-face squaw, and
the squaw of Canendesha. We have lost, too, our pale-face friend; he has
gone, and no one knows where. He was lost at the same time with the
others. They have taken him and killed him. Should we let the
pale-faces, who have done all this, go and laugh at us? No--let them
die! They are not as brave as the warrior we had yesterday; but they
will make sport for our young warriors. We shall be sorry if we do not
take their scalps. We shall always think of it, and wish we had done it,
when we think of our young men who have been killed in these forests. I
have spoken."

He sat down amidst loud cheers. He was evidently on the popular side;
and the countenances of Bagsley and Rogers grew pale, as they saw the
effect of this speech. But there was some hope yet; only two of the
warriors had spoken, and, so far, the council was equally divided in
opinion. It was with the utmost anxiety that they waited for Deersfoot
to arise.

After the noise had subsided, and silence was restored, the latter arose
to speak. He stood next to Panther in the estimation of the Senecas; and
some there were, who preferred him to that chief, as a braver and more
cunning warrior.

"Brothers," he said in a tranquil tone, "we have come here to decide
upon two things. We are to say whether these pale-faces shall die, and
we are to say what we shall do about the pale-faces at the cottage. I
have no secrets; my heart is as open as my face. Snake-tongue has said
that these pale-faces are the cause of all of our troubles. May be this
is so; but I do not see it as he does. Our young men should not love the
fire-water of the pale-faces. If they had not loved it, then the
pale-faces could not have done us any harm. I do not know that they are
to be blamed. I want to think about it a little while.

"But the other thing I _have_ thought about. I do not want to think any
more about it. The pale-faces at the cottage have killed our young men.
They have made us ashamed, that so few pale-faces can escape from so
many Injins. I am so ashamed that my heart is sad; and it will not be
happy any more until we have taken their scalps. I wish to fight them
again. I wish to see if we cannot burn down the cottage, and take them
all prisoners. I am sure that we can do it. If we cannot, I shall be
much more ashamed: and I shall think that the Senecas, like the Oneidas
and Tuscaroras, are squaws. I, for one will never leave the valley of
the Pleasant River, until I take with me, the scalp of one of those
pale-faces. The scalps of these pale-faces will not do me any good; for
they have not killed our young men. I want to wear in my belt the scalp
of the enemy who has taken the scalp of a Seneca. Until that is done, I
shall always be ashamed.

"Let these pale-faces live until we have attacked the cottage. If we
take the scalps of our enemies there, we shall have taken enough; and we
shall not want any more. If we do not get them, then we will think about
these pale-faces. I have spoken."

This speech, which had touched the hearts of the Senecas with shame, and
kindled in them a wild hope of revenge, was received with shrieks of
delight. In the direction which it had given to the thoughts of the
Senecas, the prisoners were, for the moment, forgotten; and the counsel
of Deersfoot would doubtless have been acquiesced in, had it not been
for the fact that Panther did not share the general enthusiasm. When
this was noticed, his more particular adherents at once become silent,
and waited to take their cue from him. He was about to arise, when
Bagsley, who had also become much excited by this appeal of Deersfoot,
in his favor, and who was unable any longer to maintain silence, deeming
this the favorable moment to make a finish of the "case," exclaimed,
assuming as much of a forensic position and demeanor, as his connection
with Rogers would allow:

"If the Court please, gentlemen of the--Council; for I may denominate
this respectable body, a Court, while it is actually sitting in _banco_,
according to the peculiar laws by which it is governed--I have listened
thus far, to this summary trial--a trial which, I may say, is
unrecognized by any statute of which I am cognizant--with a high opinion
of the ability and learning with which it has been conducted. But, as a
prisoner on trial for his life, I respectfully submit, whether I have
not the right to ask that this trial shall be conducted according to
some recognized form. I have as yet seen no bill of indictment; I have
not been called upon to plead; in other words, I have not had the
privilege of alleging my innocence upon the record I have not been
confronted with witnesses--therefore, in a legal point of view, I may
consider this whole proceeding as _coram non judice_ and void, and of no
binding force whatever. According to the law of the land, as generally
understood, I am entitled to all of these rights. I, therefore, upon
these grounds, to say nothing about many other points which I consider
equally conclusive, wish to raise the question of jurisdiction. I could,
doubtless, make a motion in arrest of judgment, _non obstante
veredicto_; but a question of jurisdiction can be interposed at any
time. I therefore respectfully submit, whether, according to the advice
of my friend, Deersfoot, a _nolle prosequi_ should not be entered."

"Bearsclaw has presented the case upon somewhat different grounds, but
he arrives at the same conclusions. He alleges that we are guilty of no
offence. He is correct, not only in fact, but as matter of law. It is a
principle of the law, originating in a benevolent idea of mercy, that a
prisoner is to be presumed innocent until he is proved guilty. I rely
upon this principle, and I hope the court will make a note of it. On
examination, it will be found to be a principle admirably adapted to
Indian jurisprudence. Upon all of these grounds, I insist that Mr.
Rogers and myself should be discharged."

At the conclusion of this speech, Rogers, who had listened with great
pleasure, and who had a high idea of his friend's eloquence exclaimed
with a gesture that lifted the attorney at least a foot from the ground,
"Them's my sentiments, and they are good law anywhere."

The Indians had listened to this voluble speech of the attorney with
mingled feelings of amazement and disgust. They could comprehend
scarcely a word of the discourse, but its general tenor they understood;
and that was, that he was begging for his life. If there is anything in
the conduct of a prisoner which removes from an Indian all idea of
mercy, it is an exhibition of cowardice, or a desire to escape torture,
except by force or stratagem. The current which had set in their favor,
on the conclusion of Deersfoot's speech, was effectually checked; and
all that was now wanting, was Panther's approval, to decide them in
favor of putting the prisoners to immediate torture.

Panther arose, and the assembly immediately became silent.

"Brothers," said he, "you have heard the words which have been spoken to
you. It is for you to say which are wise, and which are foolish.
Bearsclaw, Snake-tongue and Deersfoot have all told you what they think.
The pale-faces, too, have spoken to you. You have heard their words. I
think with Deersfoot, that we must have the scalps of the pale-faces at
the cottage, and the scalp of Canendesha. There is no warrior here that
does not say so. We have thought so from the first. It was not a new
thing with Deersfoot; you have all thought so. That is not the matter we
have come here to talk about. We should be ashamed to talk about it. We
know what we will do.

"I say let these pale-faces die. They do not deserve to live. They are
bad men--they are bad even among the pale-faces, and the pale-faces hate
them. They are like snakes, and have forked tongues; they do not tell
what they think. They lie in the grass, and bite at the foot of the
unwary. Even the pale-faces hate them; but they are worse to the Injins
than they are to the pale-faces; for they steal away our
hunting-grounds. Why should we let them loose to lie like snakes in the
grass and bite at us? Bearsclaw says that they came to us, and that we
did not take them on the war-path. That is true; but they came to us
with forked tongues, to get away our prisoner; and I do not know but
that they did get him away. They came, and he is gone.

"If we keep them prisoners, we shall have to set some of the warriors to
watch them. That we ought not to do; for we shall want all of our
warriors to-night. I have said more than I meant to say. They are not
worth talking about; they are not braves that will laugh at the torture,
and please our ears with harsh words. They are cowards that will cry and
faint. Such men are not fit to live. Let the pale-faces die."

This conclusion was received by the Senecas with shouts of savage
exultation. The unfortunate prisoners quailed beneath the fiery glances
of their enemies. The attorney endeavored to speak, but his utterance
failed--fear deprived him of the power of speech. The bailiff, however,
as the danger actually approached, grew firm and brave, and looked at
them with that peculiar gaze with which the officer looks into the eyes
of the thief.

The Senecas approached them for the purpose of preparing them for the
torture.

"Stand back, you rascals!" cried the bailiff. "You are now in my
bailiwick. Look me in the eyes, if you dare, and see if you can stand
the gaze of the law."

But notwithstanding this effort at overawing them, the Indians rudely
tore apart the thongs that bound the attorney and the bailiff together,
and dragged them into the woods south of the little clearing in which
they were.

We shall not attempt to narrate the disgusting and horrible scene; but
on that day, the bar of Tryon county lost a distinguished member, and
that bailiwick a faithful officer.

While these scenes of savage cruelty are being enacted, let us return to
the cottage. The presence of the Indians in their neighborhood, was
known to the inmates of the cottage; for, occasionally, during the
council, the ferocious yells which had cheered the "hit" of some
favorite orator, had been heard with distinctness. Neither Ichabod,
Eagle's-Wing, nor any one who was acquainted with the customs and habits
of the Indians, could doubt as to the nature of the proceedings, of
which they heard frequent indications. It was rendered certain, by the
fact that the Indians were about to take the lives of the prisoners,
that the cottage would be again attacked.

"With us five inside here," said Ichabod, "I'd risk all the Injins this
side of Tophet--provided they didn't set down in reg'lar siege, or set
the buildings afire. I reckon that last remark of mine will be found to
be a pretty good guess, as to the worst danger we shall run in this
attack."

"Other time, Seneca want prisoner," said the Tuscarora. "Didn't want
pale-face scalp, half so bad as now. They take 'em to-night, if they
can."

"I think," said Ralph, "we can guard against danger by fire; but,
nevertheless, we should not be so certain of it as to neglect any proper
precautions. The wooden portions of the building are very dry and if the
Indians can get fire upon the roof, we shall, indeed, run a serious
danger, for we could not show ourselves upon the outside, without
presenting fair marks for every Indian rifle."

"The house is well provided with water," said Barton. "We have a large
cistern, which is supplied by an unfailing stream that comes down from
the west."

"Yes, but the question is," said Ichabod, "how we're going to get the
water upon the roof, in case of necessity? The difficulty, in that
business, has been stated by the Captin. Now, I've got an idea about
managing the matter, if it comes to the worst; and that is, to leave the
cottage, and take to the water."

This idea took the whole party by surprise; and Barton, with a look of
incredulity, asked Ichabod how he supposed they should be able to leave
the burning building without being exposed to the watchful eyes of the
Indians.

"That's the p'int, Squire, that I've been thinking about; and
Eagle's-Wing and I have been talking it over, and you'll see we'll
manage it, in case of necessity. It's rayther risky, sartin; but I
calculate it ain't any more so than it would be to stay here, and be
burnt up. The best calculations will fail sometimes, in war, as well as
in business matters: but if them Injins should drive us to it, they'll
have to show more cunning than the sarpints have yet shown, to keep our
plan from working."

The manner of the escape--should it be necessary--with as many of the
details as could be anticipated, were agreed upon and arranged. Any such
anticipation was sufficiently melancholy, as, if they were driven from
the cottage, they would be much more exposed to the danger of capture
than they had yet been. On the conclusion of these arrangements, Ralph
found himself by the side of Ruth, who seemed to be suffering a great
depression of spirits, from the saddening forebodings which she had
overheard. She had become attached to her quiet home--she had acquired a
fondness for the objects by which she was surrounded; and she could not
think of their destruction, without a feeling of exquisite sorrow.

"If such be the will of Heaven," she said to Ralph, "we must submit."

"It is but an anticipation. Ruth, against which we must guard. We may
succeed in repelling this attack, as easily as we did the former. But it
is not to be disguised, that while on the previous attack, the great
object of the enmity of the Indians was the Tuscarora; now, _we_ as well
as _he_ are the objects; and they will resort to the method we have
anticipated, if possible."

"Would it not be better to escape at once? We could leave the cottage,
now, without danger; but during the attack, it seems to me it will be
impossible to do so."

"We should then certainly abandon the cottage to destruction, and
encounter dangers that now are only possible and not certain. No, I am
willing to trust to the plan suggested by Ichabod and Eagle's-Wing.
Although they have not given us the full details of it, I think I
understand it. We have, thus far, been signally successful, and let us
rely upon our good fortune a little farther."

"Say, rather, Ralph, upon God. It is His power, only, that supports and
protects us."

Ralph at once admitted the propriety of the correction. "In affairs of
the world, we use worldly terms. We speak of the protection we receive
from our good fortune, without intending to imply any doubt of the
protection which we receive from Heaven."

"Would it not be better, Ralph, at all times to acknowledge, by a proper
use of words, our dependence upon Him from whom good or bad fortune
proceeds, than only to acknowledge the results of circumstances?"

"I do not doubt it. Let us rely upon His assistance, then," said Ralph.
"We shall certainly need it, to-night."

The sun was already sinking behind the western hills, into a rich mass
of crimson clouds. The night approached with a melancholy step, and
every heart in the cottage beat with anxiety for the first sound that
should indicate the presence of the enemy. The aspect of nature was calm
and lovely. The setting sun wore the look of yesterday; familiar objects
gazed brightly in the golden garments which were woven around them; the
long shadows pointed eastward, towards the coming to-morrow. But who can
foretell, from the look of this day, what shall be the appearance of the
next?



CHAPTER XIX.


     "Ah! whence yon glare,
    That fires the arch of heaven?--that dark-red smoke,
    Blotting the silver moon?"
      Shelley.


An hour had passed, and yet there were no indications of an attack. The
inmates of the cottage had taken their places as on the night of the
previous conflict; and, with all their senses upon the alert, endeavored
to detect the approach of an enemy, from whom so much was to be feared.
Ruth and Singing-Bird had both taken positions by the loop-holes, and
without strenuous objection; for, on a night that threatened to be so
dangerous, they, even, might render important resistance. Another hour
passed. Was it possible that the Indians, satisfied with the lives of
their two unfortunate prisoners, had abandoned the idea of again
attacking the cottage? This query presented itself to the mind of more
than one of the little garrison; and it was with a pleasant thrill of
hope, that the idea first occurred to the mind of Ruth. Even Ichabod,
with all his experience in Indian character, suggested to Eagle's-Wing
the possibility that such a hope might be well-founded.

"No," was the answer; "don't know Injins if you think so. They come,
sartin, by'mby. Panther cunning Injin. He mean to get cottage to-night,
any way--that what it means."

"Do you suppose, Eagle's-Wing, that they're anywhere round here now?"
asked Ichabod, more to hear what his friend would answer, than for any
other purpose.

"Guess so; guess that ravine _full_ of Injins. Hear 'em, by'mby. They
won't yell nor shoot. Know that don't do any good. Can't shoot through
logs; that they know."

"I reckon you're about right, Eagle's-Wing. They want to put us off our
guard; and by-and-by some miscreant will try to set us afire. But if we
watch, we can prevent that; they can't _carry_ fire without our seeing
it."

"Don't know that. Little spark make great fire, sometime. Hide little
spark pretty well, if they try."

The night had now become dark; the sky was partly obscured by
clouds--sufficiently so to render it extremely difficult to discern
objects no larger than the size of a man, at even a rod's distance. But
while the darkness would allow the Indians to approach nearer the
building with less chance of detection, it would also render it more
difficult for them to conceal any attempt to set the cottage on fire.

Two, three, or even four hours, might elapse ere any demonstration on
the part of the Senecas would be made. This uncertainty, united with the
darkness and silence which reigned both within and without, tasked the
spirits of the defenders more than any open attack would have done. No
anxiety is more overpowering than that of awaiting an event the coming
of which is to be dreaded, and yet which will certainly arrive. In the
whole range of catastrophes to which mankind are subject, there is,
perhaps, but one important exception to this remark, and that is the
great catastrophe to which each individual of the human family is
subject, which is certain to arrive, and which is universally dreaded.
It may arrive soon or late--no one knows when, or how it will come; yet
the anxiety incident to that event, is easily overcome; and one by one,
a generation passes away, each one knowing well his doom, yet neglecting
the least preparation.

This anxiety at length became so irksome, that a desultory conversation
sprung up between the different individuals of the party--yet, without
any cessation of watchfulness, Ichabod, who had remained silent since
the last reply of Eagle's-Wing, now again addressed his companion.

"Why wouldn't it be a good idea for one of us to reconnoitre a little?
We could find out for sartin whether any of the reptiles are ra'ally
round here or not?"

Eagle's-Wing did not answer. His eyes seemed to be strained almost from
their sockets in endeavoring to pierce the darkness. Suddenly the
silence was broken by the discharge of his rifle; and at the unexpected
sound amidst the unnatural quiet which reigned around them, every member
of the little garrison started simultaneously with the report. A scream
was heard from the outside, towards the ravine, and Ichabod saw an
Indian fall struggling upon the ground, while a small brand of fire fell
by his side upon the dry leaves along the edge of the ravine.

"Well done, Eagle's-Wing!" exclaimed Ichabod. "It takes an Injin to see
an Injin in the dark; but that rascal won't set fire to the cottage, any
way."

"Plenty more, down yonder, where he come from. They keep still, though;
won't be foolish, this time."

It was true, that although the Seneca had fallen, and the brand of fire
which he had carried concealed, lay by his side; not a sound indicated
the presence of another enemy. They had failed in this attempt; but
another might be more successful. It was evident, that on this occasion,
the Senecas would throw away no chances of triumph.

It has already been mentioned that the forest on the edge of the ravine,
approached within three or four rods of the cottage; and as the ground
was strewn with dry leaves and dead underbrush, the feelings of safety
which the defenders of the cottage, for a moment, had entertained on the
detection of this attempt to set the building on fire, was now exchanged
for alarm. The brand which had fallen by the side of the Indian, had
unfortunately fallen upon a small pile of dry underbrush, which was also
covered with dry leaves. A slight wind, which now blew in occasional
light gusts from the northward, ignited the whole brand into a live
coal, and a feeble blaze began to ascend from around it.

"_Con_-found the fire!" exclaimed Ichabod. "I'll try and stop that
enemy, any way."

He discharged his rifle at the burning brand, and the coal flew
scattered in all directions. This was a risk which he foresaw. The
scattered coals might fall upon other places which were equally
dangerous; if so, the danger would be increased; but there was a chance,
too, that they might fall upon places where they would be extinguished.
For a moment, the experiment seemed perfectly successful; a feeble and
flickering blaze, that seemed about to expire, only remained where the
brand had originally fallen. But another slight gust of wind now came,
and the feeble blaze streamed upwards into a steady fire.

"Over here, with your rifles," shouted Ichabod; and five rifles were at
once discharged into the burning pile. The blazing brush was partially
scattered; but that now seemed to increase the danger. The wind came in
gentle currents, and the dry leaves and brush were taking fire in
half-a-dozen different places. It was useless to fight an enemy which
was only multiplied and made more dangerous by defeat.

"I reckon it's bad enough," said Ichabod, "to have to fight them
rascally Injins, without being obliged to fight the elements, besides.
Wind, fire, and Injins, all at once, are _rayther_ too much for human
natur'."

"What's to be done now?" inquired Barton, who had become very much
agitated by this new danger, for it was apparent that should the dry
wood in the forest set fire to the trees, as would be most likely, with
a northern wind to blow the flames in the direction of the cottage,
nothing could prevent the building from taking fire. But there was yet
hope; the fire might be confined to the underbrush, and expire without
catching among the trees.

"I don't know of anything we can do just now, Squire," replied Ichabod,
to the question of Barton, "except to wait. I've known things to be as
desp'rate before, and come out right in the end. I don't like it,
though, that's sartin. I'm afeard, Eagle's-Wing, that we shall have to
try that thing we talked about."

"Think so, too," was the calm reply of the Tuscarora; "when time come,
then I'm ready."

For a short time, the anxiety felt in the cottage was extreme. It was
yet doubtful whether there was any serious danger from this new enemy or
not. But the fire steadily increased; it ran along the ground, catching
from bush to bush, and among heaps of dry bushes and limbs of trees,
which had been collected by the labor of Barton, and soon the light
began to penetrate the recesses of the forest. The red rays darted in
among the old trees, and lit them up with a strange, wild glare. The
flames crept along with steady pace, as the fire increased, until the
whole ravine was suddenly illumined by a blaze of light, and in its
recesses were disclosed the main body of the Senecas, watching with
savage delight the insidious approaches of their new ally. When they saw
that they were discovered, a wild yell of exultation broke from every
throat, and darting from the ravine, they scattered in all directions
about the cottage; but at sufficient distance to be out of reach of the
rifles. For a short time, all was silent again, and all were intent upon
observing the progress of this new assailant.

The whole surface of the ground for four or five rods in extent,
immediately north of the cottage, seemed now to be on fire. At numerous
points, the fire raged intensely, and shot up tall spires, of flames
among the crackling branches; now catching upon the mossy side of a
tree, it ran upward, darting with the rapidity of lightning for a
moment, then suddenly expiring, leaving a blackened crust, instead of
the fresh green moss. The wind gradually blew stronger and wilder.
Unluckily, heaps of dry wood had been piled around the trunks of trees,
and now the bodies of those trees were seen to be on fire. Up among the
branches leaped the flames: points of fire darted here and there, like
blazing serpents, while, borne by the wind, thick clouds of sparks began
to load the air, and dart towards the doomed roof of the cottage. Soon,
a steady stream of flame began to mount the trunk of a tall dead pine,
which stood upon the edge of the forest. Upward and upward it crept; now
pausing, as if to gnaw inward into its centre, then darting with a leap
like a wild beast, pouncing on its prey. Around the base of the tree,
the fire raged intensely, for here a mass of dry limbs and logs had been
collected; and momentarily, the flames from all sides ate inwardly
towards its centre. A few dry and leafless limbs stood out from the old
trunk, pointing upward; and along these the fire now crept, and they
seemed like tortured arms held bleeding to the sky.

The cottage was no longer safe. A few moments more, and the pine must
fall; if it fell upon the cottage, it would crush it into a heap of
ruins; and if this danger was avoided, the fire could not be escaped.
The intense heat already penetrated the building, and through the
loop-holes streamed the light, with a red, unearthly glare. The Indians
saw that the inmates must either endeavor to escape or be consumed. They
had scattered about the cottage in all directions; not a point was left
unguarded, where their victims could escape; and as the moment of
vengeance approached nearer and nearer, they testified their joy by loud
and exulting shrieks. Every window, every door was guarded; the roof of
the cottage stood out against the sky, and every crack and cranny of its
thatching was exposed. Suddenly, to their surprise and delight, the door
that opened upon the roof was lifted, and their most hated enemy, the
Tuscarora, leaped from the glaring rafters with his rifle in his hand,
and stood for a moment before their eyes, erect and fearless. In the
strong, red light, every feature of his countenance could be
traced--every gesture could be marked. With a steady look of
indifference, he gazed about him for a moment, then darting forward,
leaped from the roof to the ground. The place selected for the leap was
the south-west angle of the building, where he would fall within the
shadow. Thirty rifles had been raised to shoot at him; but the
admiration of the Senecas at this exploit had probably saved his life;
for not a rifle was discharged, until he had darted forward in his leap
into the darkness. Every Indian rushed forward towards the spot where
the Tuscarora had been seen to leap; for this, the most prized, the most
hated of their enemies, they deemed to be now inevitably in their power.
The Tuscarora staggered as he struck the ground; but instantly gathering
himself, he darted towards the grove. Two Senecas leaped before him, who
had been stationed at this point--the others not having yet arrived.
With a blow from his rifle he knocked down one of them, and darting past
the other, gained the grove. The Senecas who had now arrived about the
cottage from the different points, set out in chase; but Panther, who
saw that this would afford means for those yet within the building to
escape, after the lapse of a few minutes, was able to recall a portion
of the Senecas, who were again distributed about the cottage.

But these few minutes had accomplished all that the Tuscarora had
designed. Before he ascended the roof, the remainder of the party inside
gathered by the window through which Guthrie bore off Ruth, on the night
of the former attack. The ladder was in readiness, and at the moment
when the Senecas were seen to rush past the eastern side of the cottage
in pursuit of the Tuscarora, the window was opened, the ladder let down,
and one by one the party quickly descended--Ichabod descending last. As
he stepped out upon the ladder, he closed the window--and when he had
reached the ground, the ladder was thrown down by the side of the
cottage. The party instantly set out toward the pond, and at a distance
of about ten rods, they had descended the hill to a point where they
were concealed in the darkness. It was at just about this moment, that
Panther had again distributed a portion of the Senecas about the
cottage, while another portion was in pursuit of the Tuscarora. Their
flight had thus far been unobserved; and now they walked more leisurely
towards the shore of the pond, where they expected to find the boat
which we described on a former occasion, and the position of which had
been noticed by Ichabod, just before dark, from the cottage. After a
little time, the boat was reached; the party entered it, and an extra
supply of rifles, which had been brought from the cottage, was carefully
deposited. They shoved off from the shore, which, at this point might,
in the progress of the fire, become exposed--and paddling northward,
reached a point where the hill ascended, on the crest, sharply from the
shore, but where the land was sufficiently low in a north-westerly
direction to allow them to obtain a good and but partially obstructed
view of the cottage.

But a few moments after they had taken up this position, they discovered
the roof of the cottage to be on fire. The sparks and pieces of blazing
bark which were blown from the ravine had fallen upon the thatching,
which was of light and combustible material, and had ignited it at
various points; and slowly but surely the flames began to devour this,
the only obstacle, as the Senecas believe, to their complete triumph.

Soon, the fugitives saw the top of the tall, dry pine begin to rock and
waver with its blazing crown; then, slowly bending southward, the huge
trunk fell across the cottage, crushing in the burning roof, and
starting the logs from their places in the sides of the building. The
shrieks of the Indians were horrible, as they now supposed that their
victims were fully in their power. Leaping forwards, they broke in the
doors, and rushed in among the flames. From room to room, they wandered.
Up the stairway, which was covered with burning coals, they rushed, and
gazed in among the fallen and blazing rafters. Not a pale-face was to be
seen. The Senecas could not believe that they had escaped; and again and
again every point and portion of the cottage was searched; until, at
length, it became apparent that their victims had fled. But how, and
where? The superstitious feelings of the Indians, for a moment, were
excited; and they thought that their intended victims must have been
rescued by the direct interposition of the Great Spirit of the
pale-faces. But Panther, saw at once, the manner of the escape; and that
it had been accomplished while the attention of the Senecas was
withdrawn by the daring exploit of the Tuscarora. He immediately ordered
the Indians to scour the woods in all directions, and particularly the
shores of the pond.

The party in the boat could see, from the gestures of the Indians, the
extent of their surprise; and they also well understood the directions
of Panther. They carefully paddled the boat farther out into the pond,
and more towards the northern shore, where they would be completely
hidden, for the present, in the shadows of the hills and trees, from the
light of the fire.

"Them reptiles are deceived this time, any way," said Ichabod, laughing.
"If Eagle's-Wing only gets through his part, according to the programme,
we may consider ourselves pretty tolerably lucky; and I haven't any
doubt but what he will. We shall hear from him before a great while. I
agreed to lay off up here for him."

"That was a daring act on the part of Eagle's-Wing," said Ralph; "and
had I known precisely his purpose, I doubt whether I, for one, should
have assented to it. The chances were ten to one, against his escaping
with life."

"Lord love you, Captain," said Ichabod, "Eagle's-Wing knows Injin natur'
pretty well, considering he's an Injin himself; and he knew that them
rascals would be so astonished, that they wouldn't fire at him till he
had time to get out of their sight. What I was most afeard on, was his
getting off the roof; but it's all right, and went off according to
contract," and Ichabod laughed.

"I can easily bear the destruction of my property," said Barton, "if
Eagle's-Wing escapes. But I think, as Ralph does, that if you had
disclosed the nature of your plan, I should have opposed it. I should,
rather, have relied upon fighting our way through to the shore."

"Didn't we know that?" asked Ichabod, with a laugh. "Nobody but
Singing-Bird was let into that secret; and she, bless her little soul,
ra'ally insisted, for a long time, on going to the roof with him: but
she's got reason, and finally consented to the arrangement."

Singing-Bird, to whom all eyes were now directed, in admiration, only
answered:

"Eagle's-Wing do that for friend. He 'members friend. He wouldn't be
brave Injin if he didn't do _somet'ing_ for friend."

"He has always been the creditor in an account," answered Barton. "He
has given us no opportunity, yet, to repay him for anything."

Both Barton and Ruth, notwithstanding their thankfulness at this escape,
surveyed the destruction of the cottage with feelings of melancholy. To
Barton, it was the home of his old age--where he had planted his
household gods, with the hope that they would survive him. The cottage
had been erected, and had gradually been made a comfortable dwelling, by
his labor; while around it, he had rescued fair fields from the
wilderness, from which he had hoped to derive the means of prosperity.
To Ruth, it was endeared by other associations; and they both saw that
all the hopes and dreams which they had cherished, were ended, and that
this place must again--even if they ultimately succeeded in escaping
from their enemies--pass from their possession, if not from their
remembrance. Barton continued, in answer to Singing-Bird:

"And my power to repay him, is gone. I am now an old man, deprived of
everything but my daughter and my life. But I cannot complain. The
Lord's will be done."

"Let us not think about our loss," said Ruth earnestly, "since we have
saved so much. We truly have need to be thankful to a kind Providence,
that we and all our friends have escaped with our lives."

At this moment, a rifle was heard, at a few rods distance apparently on
the western shore; and at the same instant, there was a sound as of a
heavy body falling into the water. The idea occurred to each in the
boat, that this might be the Tuscarora, and the boat was instantly moved
in that direction. As they approached the shore, they heard some of the
enemy talking, and evidently laboring under a great excitement; and it
was easy to believe that it was owing to the escape of Eagle's-Wing.
They had reached, in perfect silence, within eight or ten rods of the
shore, when Ichabod discovered an Indian swimming towards the boat. It
was the Tuscarora, and he was lifted in, panting with fatigue.

"Long run had this time," said he, "They almost catch me--they shoot me
a little; but better have arm shot, than lose scalp though."

It was found, on examination, that the ball had merely penetrated the
fleshy part of his arm, without having done any very serious injury. It
was immediately bandaged by Ralph, with as much care as their means
would permit; while Ichabod and the negro paddled the boat towards the
northern shore.

It has been mentioned before, in the brief description which we gave of
the pond, that on the north was a low marshy flat, and that the edge of
the pond was thickly bordered with willows and other bushes; but back a
short distance from the shore, the bushes were few and stinted in
growth, while the marsh was so soft, that it was impassable to one
unacquainted with it, even by the aid of day-light. Ichabod and the
Tuscarora were both confident that the Senecas had no canoes upon the
pond; and that there was only one upon the river in the possession of
the Senecas, and that this one was only capable of carrying three or
four persons. There were no materials at hand with which a raft could be
constructed; and it was with a feeling of security that the boat was
made fast among the willows for the night.

The fire about the cottage, for a time, had been gradually diminishing;
and thicker and thicker fell the darkness upon forest and water.
Gradually the shrieks and cries of the Indians subsided, and silence at
length fell upon the scene.



CHAPTER XX.


   "Hence, strangers, to your native shore!
    Far from our Indian shades retire."
      Freneau.


When the morning light had rendered objects sufficiently visible, the
party in the boat endeavored to get a view of their precise situation.
The place where the cottage had stood, could be distinctly seen; but
instead of the dwelling, there appeared nothing but a mass of black and
smoking ruins. But not an Indian was to be seen. The party partook of a
very frugal breakfast; for previous to their flight, they had secured a
few articles of food--sufficient, if sparingly used, to last them for
three or four days.

"The question now seems to be," said Ichabod, "what we're going to do
next. Here we are--the cottage is burnt down--that factory project is
blowed up, for a while, at least; and providing--I say, _providing_, we
_can_ get away from these villainous reptiles, I'm for steering for the
settlements."

"I think that will be the course that we must adopt," said Ralph. "It
will be a tedious undertaking, in the face of all our difficulties, as
we shall be obliged to walk the whole distance the horses will
undoubtedly either be destroyed or captured by the Indians. Could they
be saved, so that Miss Barton and Singing-Bird could ride, it would not
be so difficult."

Barton assented with a melancholy look. "There's no use," he said, "in
my attempting to rebuild the cottage, even if the Senecas abandon the
country. I am getting old, and cannot labor as I once could. Yes--we
shall have to go to the settlements."

Ruth assured them that she could walk the distance necessary with
perfect ease. As for Singing-Bird, she laughed at the idea of riding.

As all assented to this proposal, the next thing was to find the means
of escape from their present difficulties. It would not be safe to leave
their cover in the willows, so long as the Senecas remained; and it was
hoped, that not discovering them upon the pond, they would, after
searching for them in the woods, for a day or two, finally abandon the
hope of capturing them, and either set out on their return to their own
country, or remove farther down the valley.

A feeling of joyful excitement pervaded the party. The extreme danger of
their situation on the previous night, their fortunate flight, and the
hope of an early escape, served to awaken this feeling, which, even
Barton and Ruth, who were so much the greatest sufferers by recent
events, shared with the others.

"I suppose," said Barton, "that Jenkins will most seriously feel the
consequences of our removal to the settlements. First, he loses a
fortune by the failure of that city-lot and factory speculation; and
next, he runs the risk of escape from the Senecas, to be captured and
imprisoned by his pale-faced friends."

"Now, that's rather too hard, Squire," said Ichabod. "That factory
business will keep for some years, at least: and as for that other
matter, I hope that fellow Parsons will discover from the fate of his
two officers, who took up the business on speculation, that there's a
special Providence agin his collecting it. But if he don't see reason,
we'll try and manage it."

The Tuscarora, who had taken no part in the conversation but who had
simply exchanged a few words, at intervals, with Singing-Bird, which
seemed to cloud her face with anxiety, now arose, and stretching his arm
towards the south, merely uttered the common Indian ejaculation of
surprise.

"Ugh!"

The others immediately arose, and after a few moments, their eyes became
fastened upon a sight, which attracted their attention. On the opposite
shore of the pond, some half-a-dozen Indians were seen, busily at work,
partially hidden behind bushes that grew to the water's edge. It was
evident that they were engaged in the construction of a raft, with which
they probably intended to search the northern shore. Though this
afforded some cause for alarm, yet, as a raft large enough to convey a
sufficiently numerous party to attack them with any chance of success,
would be too unwieldy to be moved through the water, except with the
greatest labor--they had no fear but that, if their landing-place should
be discovered, they would be able, by the greater ease with which their
boat could be managed, to escape from its pursuit. So long as they could
remain near the northern shore, they would be comparatively safe, as
they had no fear of any attack in that quarter, by land. No force
sufficiently large could penetrate in that direction, to give them any
uneasiness; but should they be driven by the raft from their present
position, they might be compelled, in escaping from it, to pass between
it and the shore, at some point where they might be exposed to an attack
from either. But for the present, they maintained their position, and
awaited the movements of the enemy.

It was probable that their precise position was unknown, although the
sagacity of the Indians would convince them that the fugitives must be
concealed somewhere on the northern shore. The woods had been thoroughly
searched, and no traces of the fugitives had been found, while the
disappearance of the boat, together with the fact that they could not
observe it upon the pond, was sufficient to induce them to believe that
the fugitives were yet in their power, had they any means to reach them.
They could not, without days of labor, construct canoes by which they
would be able to compete in speed with the boat in the possession of the
fugitives; but by building a large raft, which could be accomplished in
two or three hours, they might man it with sufficient numbers to move it
readily from place to place, as well as to capture the fugitives, should
they overtake them.

An hour or two had elapsed since Eagle's-Wing discovered the employment
of the Senecas, when they saw a large number of Indians collected
together at the place where the raft was being constructed. Soon they
saw the unwieldy structure moved into the pond; when about fifteen of
the Senecas, some with poles for urging the raft along the shore, and
others with paddles for use in the deeper water, got upon it, and forced
it into the pond. At first, they kept close to the shore, but soon
struck out into the deeper water. Their progress was extremely slow; but
it was sufficiently rapid to keep pace with the anxiety of the
fugitives.

The point was earnestly debated between Ichabod and his companions,
whether they should trust to the cover in which they now were, or
whether, on the near approach of the Indians, they should push out into
the pond. But it was finally agreed, as the safest course, to trust to
the water; as, were they to remain where they now were, and should they
be discovered, they would be compelled to fight at great odds; and
besides, there would be no means of flight; while, should they adopt
the other course, they might keep out of reach of the rifles of the
Indians; or if not, they could, at least, be in a condition to maintain
the fight at less odds and with greater chance of escape.

The raft had been urged to some distance from the shore into the deep
water; it was moved towards the north-east shore, with the intention,
evidently, of carrying it thence, along the whole southern side of the
pond. It finally reached the shore, at which point, it was from thirty
to forty rods from the spot where the boat was concealed. As the Indians
began to move along the shore, partly by the use of poles, and partly by
pulling upon the willows, the boat shot out from its cove into the pond.
The Indians witnessed it with loud yells of joy both from the raft and
the shore; and three or four rifles from the raft were discharged, but
the bullets struck in the water, their force being spent before reaching
the boat. The fugitives moved leisurely towards the centre of the pond,
while the Indians who manned the raft, resumed the use of their paddles,
and endeavored to follow them. The boat kept its distance from the raft,
moving towards the south-west shore, until it had reached a position
just out of range of the fire of the Senecas from the land. As the
Indians upon the raft came up almost near enough to use their rifles
effectively, the boat, urged by five paddles, passed between it and the
south shore. It took no little time and labor to check the motion of the
raft, and when that had been accomplished, the boat was again
approaching the northern shore, and had nearly reached the point from
which it started. It was evident to the Indians upon the raft, that they
might thus be evaded during the whole day and they now ceased their
attempt to follow the fugitives.

It was now nearly noon; and both the raft and boat lay motionless upon
the water.

"There's deviltry in this business, somewhere," said Ichabod.

"Injins done what they should have done this morning," said
Eagle's-Wing. "They gone after canoe."

"That's it, Eagle's-Wing; and I reckon that when they've got it
launched, we shall have our hands full."

"I am not certain," said Ralph, "but that we may hold out until night;
and then, perhaps, we should take to the shore, and run our chance in
the woods."

"I'm of your opinion, Captin," said Ichabod, "provided we _can_ hold out
until night. But I reckon--and I ain't use to giving up a speculation,
while there's a chance of making anything out of it--that if we stay
_here_, we shall lose our scalps, and if we go _there_ it will be just
about the same thing. I'm blamed if I see my way out of it."

"You must not despair, Ichabod," said Ruth--"if _you_ do that; we shall
lose heart altogether."

"Lord bless you, girl, I shouldn't _despair_ till them villainous
reptiles have got my scalp beyond the hope of redemption; and when that
thing happens, I shall _have_ to give it up. But what do _you_ say,
Eagle's-Wing?"

"Guess we lose our scalps. That's what I say," sententiously replied the
Tuscarora.

"But not without a fight for 'em, though," said Ichabod.

"Has any one ever explored this swamp?" suddenly asked Ralph. "Is it not
possible that we may find some tolerably safe cover in it?"

"I do not know that it has ever been thoroughly explored," answered
Barton; "but any place where we can go, those Senecas can follow."

"I am not so certain about that," replied Ralph. "If you will put me
ashore, I will reconnoiter it."

The boat again entered the cover, and Ralph stepped out upon the turf,
and instantly sank to his knees in the mud. But, clinging to the
willows, he extricated himself, and, assisted by the roots, which
furnished a sure footing, he passed some twenty rods from the shore,
when he discovered a little island of hard soil, not more than twenty
feet across in either direction, and which could only be reached, as he
ascertained on examination, by one path, part of which was formed by the
trunk of a fallen tree, some forty or fifty feet in length. He returned
with a heart relieved of half its load, to the boat; and he had but just
reached it, when the Indians upon the raft set up a loud yell of joy.
The cause was soon ascertained; for immediately afterwards, four Senecas
were seen approaching with a canoe, which they had brought from the
river. No time was to be lost, as the canoe and raft together would,
undoubtedly, be able to outmatch the boat, and either compel them to a
fight against great odds, or drive them to the shore.

Ralph hastily communicated the result of his reconnoisance, and their
resolution was instantly formed. The party immediately left the boat;
and in a few minutes, although with great difficulty, they reached the
little island which had been discovered by Ralph. As soon as it was
reached, they saw its capabilities as a place of defence. It was
surrounded upon all sides by the swamp, and was approachable from no
point, except from that at which they reached it. Upon the island were
two large trees, behind which Ruth and Singing-Bird could remain in
safety, in case of an attempt to dislodge them from the only practicable
point. There were also thick clumps of willows around it, behind which
they could remain concealed, except upon a near approach of the enemy,
against which they thought themselves able to guard. Ichabod was highly
delighted with this new place of defence.

"We're safe here, Captin. I'll risk all the Injins this side of the
infarnal legions, as long as our ammunition holds out. I'd like to see
them red devils poking their heads over them bushes, yonder."

"You'll see them soon enough," answered Ralph; "but I think we shall
escape captivity to-night, at least."

Preparations were now made for the effectual concealment of the women;
and when this was done, the rifles were all examined and put in
readiness. Scarcely had their preparations been concluded, when a loud
shout from the Indians announced that they had discovered the empty
boat. The path of the fugitives could easily be traced; and the latter
did not doubt but that a few moments would bring one or more of their
enemies in sight.

Not more than ten minutes had elapsed, ere Ichabod discovered a Seneca
cautiously making his way along the path which they had taken, clinging
to the willows.

"I'll give that fellow a taste of what his companions will get by
calling on us," said Ichabod. "It wouldn't be civil to refuse him what
he's come so far to get."

Taking aim, he discharged his rifle, and the Seneca fell lifeless,
vainly grasping at the willows for support. The Indians who were behind,
endeavored to press forward; but again and again the rifles of the
defenders were discharged, and five or six dead or wounded Indians
testified to Ichabod and his companions, that the place could be
successfully defended. The Indians themselves saw the hopelessness of
approaching the fugitives directly in the face, and rapidly retreated
towards the boats.

But to the astonishment of the little party on the island, scarcely had
the Senecas regained their boat, ere they heard a rapid discharge of
rifles on their left, with loud shrieks and yells, testifying the
arrival of another party of Indians. Were they friends or foes? The
Tuscarora rapidly swung himself into one of the trees upon the Island,
when with a yell of exultation which was answered from fifty throats he
shouted, "the Oneidas,--the Tuscaroras!"

Rapidly Eagle's-Wing, Ichabod and Ralph retraced their way to the place
where they had left the boat; when they beheld the Senecas moving as
swiftly across the pond towards the south-west shore, as the nature of
their cumbrous raft would allow. The four Senecas in the canoe had
already nearly reached the shore. On the left they beheld a large band
of Oneidas and Tuscaroras, forty or fifty in number, who were following
the retreating Senecas. In a few moments more the released party had
re-entered their boat, and were following the Senecas upon the raft.
They had come within fair rifle-shot, as the raft touched the shore;
their rifles were discharged, and the Senecas plunged hastily into the
forest.



CHAPTER XXI.


     "How would you be,
    If He, who is the top of judgment, should
    But judge you as you are? O, think on that!
    And mercy then will breathe within your lips
    Like man new made."
      Measure for Measure


The now liberated party left the boat, and with mingled feelings of
joyfulness for their delivery, and of sadness for the waste and
desolation caused by the unmerciful savages, proceeded towards the spot
where had once stood the dwelling of Barton. Scarcely a trace was left
of the cottage, and nothing but a mass of half-consumed and charred and
blackened timbers indicated that here had once been the habitation of a
happy family. On the north, the trees had been stripped of their leaves,
their trunks and boughs blackened and partially consumed, while the
ground appeared to have been covered with a carpet of fire. The lawn
about the cottage had been made desolate, and the shrubbery and flowers
that had began to gladden the wilderness with new and unaccustomed
beauties, had been trodden down and broken as with a wanton and
malicious desire on the part of the Indians to destroy every vestige of
civilization.

A portion of the friendly Oneidas and Tuscaroras had followed in pursuit
of the Senecas, accompanied by Eagle's-Wing, who, on reaching the land,
had rushed with frantic haste to join and lead the pursuers, over whom
he was an acknowledged chief. Another portion, after going around the
south shore of the pond, with feelings of curiosity, sought this scene
of desolation, where they arrived a little before the party from the
boat. The savages moved about the mass of smoking ruins with excited
countenances and flashing eyes, and at every discovery of some blackened
and despoiled article of domestic use, gave vent to ejaculations,
either, of surprise or pleasure. As Barton, and the party from the boat
approached, the Oneidas, with a courtesy and delicate appreciation of
the feelings of Barton and his daughter, retired from the ruins towards
the grove, where, gathered in knots, or lying lazily upon the ground,
they gazed upon the pale-faces with mingled looks of curiosity and
sympathy.

The cattle enclosure, which had stood by the side of the cottage, had
also been mostly destroyed; that portion of it, however farthest from
the dwelling, being least injured. The few cattle which had been shut up
in it, had perished, and their bodies more or less consumed, were found
among the ruins; but no traces were seen of the horses. The door of the
enclosure seemed, from the fact that a portion of it was found on one
side, unharmed, to have been broken open, and it was presumed, that the
Indians had taken possession of them.

The barn, however, which was at a few rods distance, on the west, was
wholly uninjured; and Ichabod and the negro, assisted by two or three of
the Oneidas, began, at once, to put a portion of it in readiness for the
temporary occupation of Barton and his daughter. It would, at least,
afford a shelter; and however rude and uncomfortable it might be, it was
a happy exchange for the mode of life to which they had been compelled
on the previous night.

Tears came into the eyes of Ruth, as she surveyed the desolation by
which she was surrounded. Scarcely a vestige could be found of those
delicate and womanly labors by which she had adorned her dwelling; and
it was with a feeling of momentary anguish that her eyes ran over the
familiar places, and found nothing upon which to rest but the marks of
violence and brutality. The whole party shared this feeling, and they
surveyed the scene, for a few moments, with a melancholy silence.
Ichabod was the first who gave voice to his feelings:

"Don't be cast down, Miss Ruth; and you, Squire, keep up a good courage.
I've seen many an unfortunate speculation in my day; but somehow or
other, there is always a kind of philosophy in these things. The first
feeling is a hard one; it swells up the heart, and is apt to provoke
rebellious and unnatural thoughts; but it comes round all right in the
end. You'll yet be happy in another home, and then all these things will
be forgotten, except that _one_ lesson, that they teach, and that is,
that all speculations are in the hand of Providence."

"You are right, Ichabod, you are right," said Barton. "In our own
escape, the loss shall be forgotten. But the severest reflection is,
that we must now leave this valley forever; but we shall carry away with
us, the recollection of many happy days."

Ruth smiled with a look of joy, that momentarily lit up the melancholy
of her countenance, at this feeling on the part of her father. It was
for him that she felt the most deeply. Youth, with the prospect of many
years, may rise renewed and hopeful from desolation; but, age, without
the means of reparation, is apt to sink beneath the load of misfortune.
Seeing, then, that her father bore his loss with resignation, and with a
happy idea of conforming to his altered circumstances, she assumed a
cheerfulness which she did not, perhaps, wholly feel.

Scarcely an hour had elapsed, after the flight of the Senecas, when a
yell of exultation from beyond the grove, announced the return of the
party who had gone in pursuit of them. Words were heard in the Iroquois
tongue, which produced an unusual excitement in the savages, who were
wandering about the ruined dwelling. Then could be seen the returning
warriors advancing leisurely towards the ruins, while guarded among
them, they led an Indian bound as a prisoner.

Eagle's-Wing came in advance, with a quiet look of triumph upon his
countenance, but illy disguised beneath the usual immobility of face of
the Indian. Mingled with this look, was a glow of satisfied revenge, and
savage exultation. He came up to the party at the ruins, while the rest
of the Indians remained in the grove.

"Well, Eagle's-Wing, what news from the Senecas?" asked Ralph.

"Ask Panther," answered the Tuscarora. "He yonder."

"Such is the fortune of war," said Ichabod: "now a victor--now a
prisoner. But I am glad to see, Eagle's-Wing, that you're ra'ally
improving under my instructions. It's a great step towards civilization,
that you didn't take the fellow's scalp at once."

Wild and fiendish was the glance that shot from the dark eye of the
Indian; but no words were given to its terrible significance. Turning
leisurely about, he moved slowly towards the grove.

In the meantime, Barton and Ruth, together with Singing-Bird, took
possession of the temporary dwelling that had been fitted up for them.
Sambo, who had gone up through the clearing, towards the forest, soon
was seen returning with the horses, which he was leading with the most
frantic exclamations of joy. He had discovered the marks of their hoofs
upon the ground, and had followed on their track, until he found them on
the edge of the forest. It was with scarcely less joy than that which
Sambo displayed, that Barton beheld them--the only remains of his little
property. They had been abandoned by the Senecas in their sudden
surprise, and thus the most serious difficulty in the removal of Barton
and his family to the settlements, was obviated.

But we will follow Eagle's-Wing to the grove where the Indians were now
collected. Panther had been securely confined to a tree, and the change
which had come over him, under his reverse of fortune, was most
wonderful and striking. When in command of his party, he had preserved a
quiet dignity of demeanor--the natural consequence, to a manly mind, of
the power of command. His face had worn an expression of solemn gravity,
and there was, in all he said and did, an air of courtesy and sincerity,
which had struck his prisoners as inconsistent with his reputation for
cunning and cruelty. But now, deprived of his freedom, and in the power
of his enemies, his whole manner was changed. With head erect--with
flashing eyes, and nostrils that quivered with untameable ferocity, he
glared upon the Indians by whom he was surrounded. As Eagle's-Wing
approached, his glance fell upon him with a look of savage malice. The
Tuscarora came up directly before him, and with folded arms, gazed into
the eyes of his prisoner.

"Seneca," said he, "you are a lying chief of a lying nation. You must
die. I have been told that the Senecas have the hearts of girls. I wish
to see the tears in your eyes."

"The Tuscaroras are women," began the Seneca, in a quiet voice, and with
a look of contempt. "They once dwelt in the land of the sun, where the
snows of the winter never come, and their hearts became soft, and the
pale-faces made them slaves. That was all they were fit for. They did
not know how to fight their enemies, and the pale-faces took the
hatchets and the bows from their hands, and made them work in the
fields. Then the Iroquois took pity on them, and wrapped them in their
blankets, as the squaws do the pappooses; and they brought them up into
the land of braves, and gave them villages and hunting-grounds; but they
could do nothing but sit shivering by the fire. They were afraid of the
rifles of the Colony men, and they deserted the Iroquois. They are worse
than women--they are dogs! They are _little_ dogs, that run barking at
our heels, and dare not bite! It is a shame for a warrior to fall into
their hands. The death of the brave warrior, in the midst of his
enemies, is the triumph of his glory. The Great Spirit smiles, as the
warrior endures the torture, and lifts him up to the happy
hunting-grounds with the hand of a father; while his name goes down in
the traditions of his enemies, as a brave who died without fear! But I
am ashamed. The Tuscaroras have no traditions! They are dogs! and
however so brave I may be, my name will be forgotten, as though I died
in the midst of dogs!

"The Oneidas are liars! They have forgotten how to be brave. They live
with the dogs of the Tuscaroras, and think they are men. They smile in
the faces of the red-men, and throw their hatchets at their backs. They
sit down and listen to the medicine-men, (missionaries,) of the
pale-faces, and learn new traditions. They forget that they are Indians,
and try to worship the Great Spirit of the pale-faces. They are liars;
and I am ashamed to die in the midst of liars and dogs!"

These contemptuous words excited the anger of the Oneidas and Tuscaroras
to the highest degree; and with a shout of rage, tomahawks were
brandished, and knives drawn from their belts, while three or four of
them darted forward with the determination of at once terminating the
life of the insulting Seneca; but at a gesture from Eagle's-Wing, they
retired.

"Poor thief of a Seneca!" said Eagle's-Wing, "whose sharpest weapon is
that of a woman; he can only hurt his enemies with his tongue. If we had
him in our villages, we would put on him the dress of a squaw, that he
might scold, while the warriors stood around and laughed! It is a pity
that an Iroquois can only hurt his enemies with his tongue. I have
killed a great many Senecas; they all die like women, and scream when
they feel the knife on their scalps. I have got some of them here,"
throwing back his blanket, and displaying to the passionate eyes of the
Seneca three or four gory scalps. "They are not fit for a warrior to
wear; and I will not hang them in the council-room of my nation. I will
give them to the pappooses to play with," and turning with a gesture of
contempt he walked back into the crowd of Indians.

But while the preparations were being made for the torture of Panther,
Barton and his friends had concluded their arrangements for their return
on the next day to the settlements. But little preparation was
necessary, and the possession of the horses had obviated the greatest
difficulty in their removal. There was little or nothing to be
transported, as the Senecas had destroyed nearly every valuable upon the
premises.

Their arrangements were all made, and that peculiar and natural
solemnity of feeling, which attends the abandonment of a cherished home,
laid waste and desolate, prevented any continued conversation.

"The friendly Indians will accompany us a portion of the way, I
suppose," said Barton; "but only for a few miles, as their path lies
northward, while ours is more to the eastward. They will, doubtless,
take their prisoner with them."

"That would be an useless trouble, I should think," said Ralph. "It
would be better for them to let him go at once. But perhaps, as a matter
of pride, they wish to display a Seneca chief in their villages, as a
prisoner."

It was at this moment, that the shout was heard, which attended the
ebullition of anger on the part of the Indians at the contemptuous
language of Panther. Each individual of the party, excepting Ichabod and
Singing-Bird, started;--it recalled, for a moment, with vivid
distinctness, the memory of the perils from which they had just escaped.

"What is the meaning of that shout?" asked Barton.

"It is, perhaps, an attempt to terrify their prisoner," said Ralph, "or
perhaps it may be," and he started at the sudden conjecture, rising
hastily upon his feet, "that they are about to put him to torture."

"Oh! they will not do that!" exclaimed Ralph. "It cannot be, that
Eagle's-Wing can imitate the cold-blooded cruelty of Panther. Say it is
not so, Singing-Bird."

"Eagle's-Wing great chief," said the Indian, quietly, "he know how to
punish enemy."

Ruth seemed astonished by this unlooked-for confirmation of her fears.

"Ralph! Ichabod!" said she, "prevent this murder, if possible. Do not
let such a horrid act sully our last recollections of this place."

Ichabod bowed his head for a moment with a shudder, and then said:

"Miss Ruth, all people have their customs; an Englishman shuts up his
prisoners in old hulks, where they die of foul air, and filthiness, and
starvation; and the most civilized people, will punish their prisoners
in some way; and an injin can't be expected to be better than those that
have some other light than the light of Natur' to walk by. It's their
way, Miss Ruth--it's their way; and there's no use trying to prevent
it."

"I will go," she answered; "I will beg for his life; perhaps I may not
plead in vain."

"Don't do so, Miss Ruth--it's no use. Their blood is up; and there is no
power in this world strong enough to control them, but force, and that
we haven't got."

"But there is a Power above us and them, which may touch their hearts. I
will go."

Seeing that she was determined to venture among the savages, on this--as
Ichabod, as well as the others also, thought--bootless errand, the whole
party accompanied her, and they proceeded hastily towards the grove. As
they reached the place where the Indians were gathered, they found them
busy in their preparations. A large number of pine knots had been
collected, and a pile of pointed splinters, the object of which was
apparent to them all. The Seneca, fastened to the tree, was surveying
the preparations with a look of indifference or contempt; but as Barton
and his party came in sight, his eyes rolled over them with glances of
uncontrollable hatred. Eagle's-Wing was quietly directing the
preparations.

Barton approached the Tuscarora. "For Heaven's sake, Eagle's-Wing, what
do all these arrangements mean? It cannot be that you will torture this
Seneca. Let him go, Eagle's-Wing. You have done me many a friendly deed,
lately--add this to the number."

"The hearts of the pale-faces are soft," said Eagle's-Wing. "Let my
father and his friends go back to their dwelling. The Seneca must die."

Ralph, in turn, besought the Tuscarora to desist from his purpose. He
used all the arguments which he could summon to his aid, growing out of
the present condition of the Colonies, and their desire to keep on
peaceful terms with the hostile Indians of the Six Nations; but to no
purpose. Eagle's-Wing listened with courtesy, but declared that the
Seneca must die.

"Old friend," said Ichabod, "you'll give me credit for understanding
Injin natur' pretty well, and that I never make it a point to interfere
in their lawful customs and amusements; but I can't help saying, now,
that this _is_ a risky speculation. I never meant to call on you for
payment of any balance of account between us; but there's no disguising
that you do owe a little to me on the score of having saved your
scalp-lock, ere now; but give me that Seneca, and I will balance the
books."

"I owe my brother my life, and it is his," said Eagle's-Wing. "Let my
brother take it, if he will; it is just. But the Seneca shall go with me
into the happy hunting-grounds of my nation. He shall go before me as my
prisoner."

"Let us go back, Miss Ruth," said Ichabod. "These Injins are perfectly
set in their way. I knowed it was of no use. They won't imitate white
people in their conduct, any more than they will in their clothes."

At these repeated failures, it must be confessed that Ruth almost
despaired of success. Yet she could not suffer the Seneca thus to be
murdered, without making one appeal in his behalf. Tears filled her eyes
as she approached the Tuscarora.

"Eagle's-Wing," said she, smiling through her tears, "you have refused
Panther to my friends, that you might give him to me. Is it not so?"

This pertinacity on the part of the pale-faces seemed partially to
irritate the Tuscarora; but he subdued the momentary flash of anger, and
answered quietly:

"The hearts of the pale-face women are soft; they cannot look on the
death of a warrior in the midst of his enemies. Let the pale-face girl
go back with her friends."

"You cannot mean to do this, Eagle's-Wing--you, who have been so gentle
and kind to us--_cannot_ do this murder."

"The Seneca must die," was the answer.

"Is it right, Eagle's-Wing, to kill Panther thus, in cold blood? It is a
great crime, both by the laws of men and of God."

"Our traditions have not told us so," answered the Tuscarora. "They tell
us that we must do so, if we wish to please the Great Spirit."

"But have you never heard of any other tradition? Have you not heard the
story of the life and death of the Redeemer of the world, and of the
truths that he taught?"

The Indian seemed struck with a sort of consternation, for a moment. He
evidently recollected the teaching of the pious missionary of the
Oneidas and Tuscaroras, who had done so much to give the minds of the
Indians of those nations a proper direction, just previous to the
Revolutionary struggle. After a short pause, he answered:

"The good missionary from the pale-faces has told us the story; but it
was a long while ago; it was before the war between the Colony men and
the Yengeese. I have almost forgotten it. If I was a pale-face, I should
love it very much. But an Indian must follow the traditions of his
fathers."

"I know who you mean, Eagle's-Wing. It was Kirtland who taught you that
story. I am sorry that you should so soon have forgotten it. He was a
good man and told you the truth. He told you that you must not
persecute your enemies; but that you must forgive them, and that the
Great Spirit will like you better for it."

"How know that?" asked Eagle's-Wing abruptly, and with a kind of
superstitious feeling, that Ruth should be able to repeat the
instructions which, in his ignorance, he supposed she could not have
understood, without having listened to the missionary, herself. "How
know that! That was great many years ago, when the pale-face girl was a
child."

"I know that he told you so," replied Ruth, "because he must have told
you what the new tradition was. He told you that the Redeemer came down
from Heaven, and how he died because he loved all the nations and people
of the world; and how he told them that they must all love one another
like brothers. Would it not be better, Eagle's-Wing, if all the
pale-faces and all the Indians thought so?"

The Tuscarora cast down his eyes, while he answered: "It _would_ be
better, if they would think so; but they do not. If the pale-faces do
not, how can the Indians think so?"

"It is only the bad men among the pale-faces who think otherwise. There
are a great many good men who always act upon this truth. If it would be
better for everybody to follow this teaching, it is a good thing for
those who do, even if a great many do not. Is it not so, Eagle's-Wing?"

Eagle's-Wing turned away--his savage heart evidently touched by this
re-awakening of old recollections; but in the act of doing so, his eyes
fell upon the Seneca, who was surveying him and Ruth, with a look of
curious interest. The bitter taunt of Panther occurred to him, and those
cruel instincts which had been nearly overcome, were kindled again with
renewed force. Turning towards Ruth, he coldly answered:

"It is a good tradition. I will not deny it; but it is a pale-face
tradition. The Great-Teacher was not a red man; he was a pale-face. The
pale-face girl must go back with her friends. The Seneca shall die."

The color fled from the face of Ruth, and for a moment she looked as if
she would have fallen to the ground. Ralph was springing forward to
assist her, when a new and more heroic strength seemed to sustain and
inspire her. Advancing towards Eagle's-Wing, she laid her hand upon his
arm and exclaimed--

"You shall not do this murder, Eagle's-Wing. Your own heart tells you
that it is wrong. The Seneca is a bloody, guilty man; but God--the same
God who looks down on the pale-face and the Indian--shall punish you.
You shall not do it. I will keep this great crime from your soul, and
you will thank me for it, some day. See here, you shall see what I will
do;" and she ran to the tree where Panther was confined. The Indians
hastened forward, yet seemingly without the intent to resist her
purpose. The daring energy which inspired her, and the lofty look of
innocent boldness, awed them into silence. With a rapidity she could
not have equalled at another time, she unfastened the withes with which
the Seneca was bound, and as rapidly returned to the side of
Eagle's-Wing. "See," she said, "he is free!" Again she laid her hand
upon the arm of the Tuscarora, while all eyes were watching the motions
of Panther, who seemed stupefied with the curious scene. As the withes
fell at his feet, he straightened his form, and glared slowly around on
the assembled warriors. For a moment his eyes fell upon Ruth, with a
look of awe, such as a debased human creature might be supposed to cast
upon a more exalted being: then slowly, and as if he expected his
attempt to be resisted, he moved from the tree, yet with his eyes firmly
fastened upon the face of Eagle's-Wing. The latter stood erect, his
nostrils dilated, and his eyes flashing, as if about to spring upon the
escaping prisoner, yet restrained by the gentle hand upon his arm,
which, without the exertion of physical strength, seemed to bind him to
the ground. Creeping as stealthily as the animal from which he derived
his name, the Seneca still moved away, but with his face partially
turned towards the group which he was leaving. A few moments, and he had
disappeared in the forest.

A spasmodic shudder passed over the frame of the Tuscarora chief; then
he turned towards Ruth, with a smile upon his face and a tear in his
eye, as he said. "It is well--let the Seneca go."



CONCLUSION.


We have brought this narrative, relating to the early history of an
interesting portion of New York, nearly to a close; and all that
remains, is to give the reader a brief account of the fortunes of some
of the personages in whom he is supposed to have taken some interest.

After the defeat of the Senecas, Barton and his daughter, together with
Ralph, Ichabod and the negro, returned to the settlements, where Barton
finally concluded to remain. His advanced age prevented him from again
undertaking to build himself a house in the wilderness, while another
reason, perhaps still more powerful, forced him to the same conclusion.

He discovered that Ruth, provided he would give his consent to the
arrangement, which, under the circumstances, he could not refuse, had
decided upon becoming Mrs. Ralph Weston. That event happened not long
after their return to the settlements; and the old gentleman found,
after the lapse of a very few years, that he could not again seek the
wilderness without abandoning two little grand-children of whom he had
become very fond. Sambo remained with the family; but in the course of a
short time, he was offered his freedom, which he refused.

Ichabod, also, returned to the settlements; and through the assistance
of his friend, the Captain, he was enabled to satisfy the rapacious Mr.
Parsons for his demand of _£25 7s. 6d._. He finally embarked in some
speculation in what were then deemed western lands, in which it is
believed that he came very near making his fortune. But he never
mentioned his adventures of the year 1783, without a sigh over the heavy
losses which he sustained in his factory and city-lot projects.

As for the Tuscarora and his squaw, they returned to their village, and
there remained, until the removal of the Tuscaroras to the west, a few
years afterwards.

Of Guthrie--whose fate has been left in some little doubt--nothing
certain was ever known. But a few years after, some adventurer, who
supposed himself a pioneer in this new country, discovered a human
skeleton by the stump of a tree, to which it had been apparently bound,
judging from the remnant of a strong cord, which was found by its side.
As some portions of the skeleton were found at some distance from the
tree, it was supposed that the unfortunate man, whoever he was, after
having been confined to the tree, had been devoured by wolves.

Our tale is told; and seventy years have passed over its scenes and
actors. The forests have fallen; broad, green meadows, enriched with
labor and enriching the husbandman, are in their place; an active,
bustling village has effaced all signs of early hardship and suffering;
and, as if changed like the pictures in a magic glass, the old scenes
about which we have lingered are no more. Occasionally, the children in
the village gaze, with a mixture of fear and wonder, upon a wandering
Oneida, as he loiters in the streets, idle and drunken--a vagabond where
his fathers were lords and rulers.

But, with all the changes which seventy years have produced and
notwithstanding Ichabod's city lots have been laid out and sold, and
succeeding speculators are still busy in the same short-handed means of
getting money, the woollen factory has never been built. In that
respect, his dreams have never been realized. Occasionally some
speculative Ichabod has broached the old scheme anew; but obstacle upon
obstacle has conspired to prevent its realization; and although the
sheep dot our hills, their wool seeks a foreign market.

The pond, too, remains; but that which was once a sylvan lake,
surrounded with forests and crystalline in the purity of its waters, has
yielded all of its romantic associations to the practical spirit of the
age. It has become a portion of a canal, and a touring-path has been
constructed along its eastern and southern shores.

So pass our dreams; the infancy of Nature has reached its age; old
fashioned modes of life, with their simplicity of manners, are passing
away with our forests.

The valley is still, as of old, shut out from the world. Great
thoroughfares of travel are at its either extremity; but neither across
it nor through it is heard the rushing of the "iron horse;" still, as of
old, come trotting and jogging along, at morning and at night, the
lumbering coaches, rocking like cradles, while the weary traveler curses
the fortune which compels him to take this antiquated mode of travel.
Four miles an hour--_five_, perchance, in great emergencies--_rush_
these ancient vehicles; and therein only, perhaps, we have not
degenerated from the sober steadiness of our ancestors.

But a newly-directed energy is now exulting over the prospect of
levelling our hills and elevating our valleys, and building a path upon
which shall be heard the scream of the locomotive, and the sweep of
travel. City lots are up; New York is small potatoes--half-acre
landholders, issuing like the youth in Cole's "Voyage of Life," from the
wilderness of long sleepy years, and guided by an angel with money-bags
under his wings, and with a voice like the ring of dollars, see castles
in the air, in the shape of depots and engine-houses, settling down upon
their premises! Ichabod is alive again!





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