Billeder på siden

Never was there seen a colouring more soft and , out the next morning. There could be no melting; and melting it was, for in a very few morning walk, for our house was a peninsula, minutes it was gone ;-and when I entered my which afforded only a few yards of dry footing sitting-room, and found it lighted chiefly by the beyond the door. Angry billows rolled over blazing fire on which my kettle was hissing and the grass-plat, up against the house walls. In steaming, I could hardly believe that I had the road, men were pushing themselves about seen daylight so near. But, in the afternoon, on logs and planks. The little piers were all I had the very last of the daylight. While sunk, and the boat-house seemed likely to blow candles were lighted everywhere else in the up. Cascades of white water were leaping and house, I sat in the yellow glow at the window, rushing down through trees, and pouring over seeing how the black pines on the rocky pro- fences into the road. Logs and faggots were montory were reflected in the orange and crim- drifting out from the shore, and chips were son waters, stem for stem, distinct and un- dancing on the surface. Within the house, my moved, while the mountains and their reflection landlady was pulling up her carpets from the were of the deepest purple, and full clear ground-floor rooms; and from the windows, planet shone with a glow-worm light in the the neighbours were calling to each other that midst of the ruddy scene. Of all the sunsets no such flood had been witnessed by the existing of that winter, there is one that stands alone generation. The rain was over, however, and in my remembrance. As my house assumed there was a brisk wind; so that, though the more and more the air of a dwelling,—that is, lake would not go down till the tributary from the time the rooftree was on, I seldom streams had done paying in their excess, the returned to dinner at dark without having had river and brooks in the valley would soon suba glance at my future home from some point or side into their channels, and allow us to go and other. Its gaping doorways and window- see what had happened above. By the afterspaces looked cold and forlorn; but when once noon, it was thought possible to reach a higher the roof was on, I could overlook that defect part of the road; and, thickshod, I went forth. from the other side of the valley. Along that Presently, I met the A.'s, all in their thickest other side of the valley I was walking, from boots, coming down to see the flood. They Fox How to Waterhead, one bright afternoon, said the meadows in the valley were almost just at sunset; and what did I see ?-my win- entirely under water. I could not turn back dows glittering in the last yellow rays! How with them, so great was my secret anxiety home-like it looked! how completely changed about my house. It was not for long. When in character from a shell of a dwelling to a I reached Rotha Bridge, and looked northwards, home, merely by putting in the window-sashes ! there was my pretty gray house, high and dry I met John Newton, and asked him about it; on its green knoll, bright and cheerful-looking, and he told me that he expected heavy rain, and even with smoke coming out of one chimand had put in the sashes in a hurry, to keep ney. There was not a grate in the house yet; the inside dry.

but the carpenters had made a fire under the The heavy rains came, hour after hour, al- chimney to heat their glue; and thus it was most like a waterspout, with winds which made that this warm domestic token met my eye such a commotion that two panes of my win-when I least expected it. Before I had finished dows were broken. As for the lake, it dashed my circuit, the wind had subsided; and when I and rolled all the next day, and seemed to be cast my last glance at the knoll, the little coming nearer in the night, so that I was not column of smoke was as steady as in a summer at all surprised to find a flood when I looked noon.




For Milton's fame,

For Dante's name,
The blockheads all have striven;

The will, if not

The way, they've got
To hang their names on heaven.

But if in vain,

They rhyming strain,
And squeeze out feet by rules,

With scornful air

They then declare,
That poets all are fools.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]



which it was confined by a coarse worsted sash

of mingled blue and red, thickly studded with It was on a beautiful day in the early part minute white beads. His trousers, with broad of the month of April, 1812, that four persons seams after the fashion of the Indian leggin, were met in a rude farm-house, situate on the were of a dark crimson, approaching to a bricksouthern branch of the Chicago River, and dust colour, and on his feet he wore the stiff about four miles distant from the fort of that shoe pack which, with the bonnet bleu on his

They had just risen from their humble grizzled head, and the other parts of his dress midday meal, and three of them were now already described, attested him to be what he lingering near the fire-place, filled with blazing was—a French Canadian. Close at his heels, logs, which at that early season diffused a and moving as he moved, or squatted on his warmth by no means unpleasant, and gave an haunches, gazing into the face of his master air of cheerfulness to the interior of the smoke- when stationary, was a large dog of the mondiscoloured building.

grel breed peculiar to the country, evidently He who appeared to be the head of the esta- with wolf blood in his veins. blishment was a tall good-looking man of about His companion was of a different style of forty-five-one who had evidently been long a figure and costume.

He was

a thin, weakdenizen of the forest; for bis bronzed counte- looking man, of middle height, with a comDance bore traces of care and toil, while his plexion and hair that denoted his Saxon orirugged yet well-formed hands conveyed the gin. Very thin eyebrows, a sharp and rather impression of the unceasing war he had waged retroussé nose, and a blue eye in which might against the gigantic trees of this western traced an expression half-simple, halfHe was dressed in a hunting-frock of gray cunning, completed the picture of this perhomespun, reaching about half-way down to his sonage, whose lank body was encased in an knee, and trimmed with a full fringe of a old American uniform of faded blue, so scanty somewhat darker hue. His trousers were of in its proportions that the wrists of the wearer the same material, and both were girt around were wholly exposed below the short, narrow his loins by a common belt of black leather sleeves, while the skirts only " shadowed not fastened by a plain white buckle, into which concealed" that part of the body they had been was thrust a sheath, of black leather also, con- originally intended to cover. A pair of blue taining a large knife peculiar to the backwoods- pantaloons, perfectly in keeping, on the score man of that day. His feet were encased in of scantiness and age, with the coat, covered moccasins, and on his head, covered with strong, the attenuated lower limbs of the wearer, on dark hair, was carelessly donned a slouched whose head moreover was stuck a conical cap, hat of common black felt, with several plaited that had all the appearance of having been folds of the sweet grass of the adjoining prairie once a portion of the same military equipment, for a band. He was seemingly a man of and had only undergone one change in the loss strong muscular power, while his stern, dark of its peak. A small black, leather, narrow, eye denoted firmness and daring.

ridged stock was clasped around his thin and The elder of the two men, to whom this indi- scarecrow neck, and that so tightly, that it vidual stood evidently in the character of a was the wonder of his companions how stranmaster, was a short, thick-set person of about gulation had been so long avoided. A dirty fifty, with huge whiskers, that, originally and very coarse linen shirt showed itself parblack, had been slightly grizzled by time. His tially between the bottom of the stock and the brows were bushy and overhanging, and almost uppermost button of the uniform, which was concealed the small and twinkling eyes, which carefully closed; while his feet were protected it required the beholder to encounter more than from the friction of the stiff though nearly once, before he could decide their true colour worn-out military shoes, by wisps of hay, that to be a dark gray. A blanket coat, that had supplied the absence of the sock. This man once been white, but which the action of some was about five-and-thirty. half dozen winters had changed into a dirty The last of this little party was a boy. He Fellow, enveloped his rather full form, around was a raw-boned lad of about fourteen years


s“ Answer me, Ephraim Giles !” peremptorily


of age, of fair complexion, with blue eyes, and ment of some coming evil, which the very an immense head of bushy hair, which seemed singular conduct of the dog had created, alnever to have known the use of the comb. though he would scarcely acknowledge this to His feet were naked, and his trousers and himself. shirt, the only articles of dress he wore at The man made no reply, but continued whitthe moment, were of a homespun somewhat tling, whistling the air of “Yankee Doodle.” resembling in colour the hunting-frock of his master. A thick black leather strap was also resumed Mr. Heywood; “leave off that eternal around his loins, evidently part of an old whittling of yours if you can, and explain to bridle-rein.

me your meaning." The master and the Frenchman drew near Etarnal whittling, do you call it, boss? I the fire and lighted their pipes. The ex-mili- guess it's no sich thing. No man knows better taire thrust a quid of tobacco into his cheek, nor you that if I can whittle the smallest stick and taking up a small piece of pine board that in creation, I can bring down the stoutest oak rested against the chimney-corner, split a as well as ere a fellow in Michigan. Work is portion of this with his jack-knife, and com- work-play is play—it's only the difference, I menced whittling. The boy busied himself in reckon, of the axe and the knife.” clearing the table, throwing occasionally scraps “Will you answer my question like a man, of bread and dried venison, which had consti- and not like a fool as you are ?" shouted the tuted the chief portion of the meal, to the dog, other, stooping and extending his left hand, who, however, contrary to his usual custom, the fingers of which he insinuated into the paid little attention to these marks of favour, stock already described, while with a powerful but moved impatiently, at intervals, to the jerk he brought both the man to his feet and door, then returning squatted himself again on the blood into his usually cadaverous cheek. his haunches, at a short distance from his Ephraim Giles, half throttled and writhing master, and uttering a low sound betwixt a with pain, made a movement as if he would whine and a growl, looked piteously up into have used the knife in a less innocent manner his face.

than whittling, but the quick, stern eye of his “Vat de devil is de matter wid you, Loup master detected the involuntary act, and his Garou ?” remarked the Canadian at length, as hand, suddenly relinquishing its hold of the removing his pipe from his lips, he stretched collar, grasped the wrist of the soldier with his legs, and poised himself in his low wood- such a vice-like pressure that the fingers imbottomed chair, putting forth his right hand at mediately opened, and the knife fell upon the the same time to his canine follower. “ You hearth. not eat, and you make noise as you wish me to The violence of his own act brought Mr. see one raccoon in de tree.”

Heywood at once to a sense of the undue “Loup Garou doesn't prate about coons, I severity he had used towards his servant, and guess," drawled the man in the faded uniform, he immediately said, taking his handwithout however withdrawing his attention “ Ephraim Giles, forgive me. I have been from the very interesting occupation in which rather rough with you, but it was not intended. he was engaged. “That dog, I take it, Le Noir, Yet, I know not how it is, the few words you means somethin' else-somethin' more than we spoke just now have made me anxious to know human critters know. By gosh, Boss,” looking what you meant, and I could not repress my for the first time at him who stood in that impatience to hear your explanation." relation to him, “ if we can't smell the varmint, The soldier had never before remarked so I take it Loup Garou does."

much dignity of manner about his “boss," as “What has got into your foolish head now, he termed Mr. Heywood, and this fact, added Ephraim Giles ?” he sharply questioned. “You to the recollection of the severe handling he do nothing but prophesy evil. What 'varmint' had just met with, caused him to be a little do you talk of, and what has Loup Garou to do more respectful in his address. with it? Speak, what do you mean, if you “Well, I reckon,” he said, picking up his mean anything at all ?”

knife, and resuming his whittling, but in a less As he uttered this half rebuke he rose absorbed manner, “I meant no harm, but abruptly from his chair, shook the ashes from merely that Loup Garou can nose an Injun his pipe, and drew himself to his full height, better nor any of us.” with his back to the fire. There had been “ Nose an Indian better than any of us ! nothing very remarkable in the observation Well, perhaps he can; he sees them every day; made by the man to whom he had just ad- but what has that to do with his whining and dressed himself, but he was in a peculiar state growling just now ?” of mind, that gave undue importance to every “ Well I'll tell you, boss, what I mean, more word, seconding, as it did, a vague presenti- plain like. You know that patch of wood bor

[ocr errors]

dering on the prairie, where you set me to cut, Garou, who stood at the front doorway, was t'other day ?"

renewed even more plaintively than before. "I do. What of that?”

Mr. Heywood's cheek blanched. It was not “Well then, this morning I was cutting down with fear, for he was a man incapable of fear, as big an oak as ever grew in Michigan, as I in the usual acceptation of the word; but said afore, when as it went thunderin' through independently of certain vague apprehensions the branches, with noise enough to scare every for others, his mind had been in a great buffalo within a day's walk, up started, not degree unhinged by an unaccountable presentwenty yards from its top, ten or a dozen or so timent of evil, which, as if instinctively, had of Injuns, all gruntin' like pigs, and lookin' as come over it that day. It was this which, fierce as so many red devils. They didn't look inducing a certain irresoluteness of thought quite pleased, I calculate."

and action, had led him into a manifestation “Indeed!” remarked Mr. Heywood musingly. of peevish contradiction in his address to "A party of Pottawatomies, I suppose, from Ephraim Giles. There are moments when, the neighbourhood of the Fort. We all know without knowing why, the nerves of the strongthere is an encampment of them there, but est, the purposes of the wisest, are unstrung; they are our friends."

and when it requires all our tact and self-pos« Maybe so," continued Ephraim Giles, “ but session, to conceal from others the momentary these varmint didn't look over friendly. And weakness we almost blush to admit to ourthen I guess the Pottawatomies don't dress in selves. war paint, except when they dance for liquor." But there was no time for reflection. The

“* And are you quite sure these Indians were approach to the door was suddenly shaded, in their war paint?" asked his master, with and, in the next instant, the dark forms of three an ill-concealed look of anxiety.

or four savages, speedily followed by others, ** No mistake about it,” replied Giles, still

amounting in all to twelve besides their chief, whittling, “and I could almost swear, short as

who was in the advance, crossed the threshold; the squint was I got of them, that they were

and without uttering a word either of anger or part of those who fought us on the Wabash salutation, squatted themselves on the floor. two years ago."

They were stout, athletic warriors; the perfect And why did you not name this the instant symmetry of whose persons could not be conyou got home ?” somewhat sternly demanded cealed even by the hideous war-paint with Mr. Heywood.

which they were thickly streaked; inspiring “Where's the use of spilin' a good dinner ?" anything but confidence in the honesty or

friendliness of their intentions. The head of remarked Ephraim Giles. “It was all smokin' hot when I come in from choppin', and I thought person, and only on the extreme crown had

each was shaved and painted, as well as his it best for every man to tuck in his belly full, been left a tuft of hair, to which were attached before I said a word about it. Besides, I reckon feathers and small bones, and other fantastic I don't know as they meant any harm, seein' as

ornaments peculiar to their race. A few carhow they never carried off my topknot; only it ried American rifles, the majority, the common was a little queer they were hid in that way in the bush, and looked so fierce when they fust gun periodically dealt out to the several tribes

as presents from the British government; while jumped up in their nasty paint.”

all had, in addition to their pipe and tomahawk, " Who knows,” remarked Mr. Heywood, the formidable and polished war-club. taking down his rifle from the side of the hut

Such visiters, and so armed and painted, opposite to the chimney, and examining the

were not of a character to remove the apprepriming, “but that these fellows may have hensions of the little party in the farm-house. tracked you back, and are even now lurking Their very silence, added to their dark and near us.

threatening looks, created more than mere * Le Noir,” he continued to the Canadian, suspicion,

--a certainty of evil design; and who, imitating his example, had taken down deeply, bitterly did Mr. Heywood curse in his a long duck gun from the same side of the hut, heart, the folly of Ephraim Giles in failing to "take your dog with you and reconnoitre in apprise him of his rencontre with these people, the neighbourhood. You speak Indian, and if at the earliest moment after his return.

llad any of these people are to be seen, ascertain he done so, there might have been a chance, who they are, and why

nay, a certainty of relief; for he knew that a Here he was interrupted by the gradually party from the Fort, consisting of a non-comapproaching sounds of rattling deer-hoofs, so missioned officer and six men, were even now well known as composing one of the lower fishing not more than two miles higher up the ornaments of the Indian war-dress, while, at river. He was aware that the boy Wilton was the same moment, the wild moaning of Loup | an excellent runner, and that within an hour




[ocr errors]


at least, he could have reached and brought “What do you think of these people, Le down that party who, as was their wont, when Noir ?" at length asked Mr. Heywood, without absenting themselves from the Fort on these however removing his gaze from his visiters; fishing excursions, were provided with their can they be friendly Pottawatomies !"

However, it might not be too late yet, Friendly Pottawatomie ! no sare,” reand he determined to make the attempt. To turned the Canadian seriously, and shrugging call and speak to the boy aside, would, he was his shoulders. “Dey no dress-no paint like well aware, excite the suspicions of his un- de Pottawatomie, and I not like der black look. welcome guests, while it was possible that, as No sare, dey Winnebago.” they did not understand English-s0 at least He laid a strong emphasis on the last word, he took it for granted—a communication made and, as he expected, a general “ugh” among to him boldly in their presence, would be con- the party attested that he had correctly named strued into some domestic order.

their tribe. “ Wilton," said he calmly to the boy, who While they were thus expressing their constood near the doorway with alarm visibly jectures in regard to the character and intendepicted on his countenance, and looking as if tions of their guests, and inwardly determining he would eagerly seize a favourable opportunity to sell their lives as dearly as possible if atof escape, “ make all haste to the fishing-party tacked, Ephraim Giles had risen from his above. Tell them what is going on here, and seat in the corner of the chimney, and with his ask the sergeant or corporal, whoever may be eyes fixed on the stick he was whittling, walked in command, to lose no time in pulling down coolly out of the door, and sauntered down the the stream. You will come back with them; pathway leading to the river. But, if he had quick, lose not a moment."

calculated on the same indifference to his Delighted at the order, the boy made no actions that the Indians had manifested toanswer, but hatless, shoeless as he was, dis- wards those of the boy, he was mistaken. The appeared round the corner of the house. whole party watched him as he slowly apStrange to say, the Indians, although they had proached the water, and then, when he had seemingly listened with attention to Mr. Hey got about half-way, the chief, suddenly springwood while issuing these directions, did noting to his feet, and brandishing his tomahawk, make the slightest movement to impede the demanded in broken, but perfectly intelligible boy's departure, or even to remark on it, - English, where he was going. merely turning to their chief, who uttered a “Well, I want to know!” exclaimed Ephraim sharp and apparently satisfied “


Giles, turning round, and, in a tone indicating All this time Mr. Heywood and Le Noir surprise that he should thus have been interstood at some little distance from the Indians, rupted. “Only goin' over thar,” he continued and nearly on the spot they had previously pointing to the haystacks on the opposite side occupied, the one holding his rifle, the other of the river, around which stood many cattlehis duck gun, the butts of both resting on the “goin' to give out some grub to the beasts, and floor. At each moment their anxiety increased, I'll be back in no time to give you out some and it seemed an age before the succour they whiskey.” Then, resuming his course, he went had sent for could possibly arrive. How long, on, whittling as unconcernedly as before. moreover, would these taciturn and forbidding The chief turned to his followers, and a low, mannered savages wait before they gave some yet eager conversation ensued. Whether it indication of overt hostility ? And, even if was that the seeming indifference of the man, nothing were done prior to the arrival of the or his promise of the whiskey on his return, or fishing-party, would these latter be in sufficient that some other motive influenced them, they force to awe them into a pacific departure? contented themselves with keeping a vigilant The Indians were twelve in number, exclusively watch upon his movements. of their chief, all fierce and determined. They, Mr. Heywood and the Frenchman looked at with the soldiers, nine; for neither Mr. Hey- each other with surprise. They could not wood nor Le Noir, seemed disposed to count account for the action of Ephraim Giles at that upon any efficient aid from Ephraim Giles, moment, although it was his office to cross the who during this dumb scene, continued whit- river daily, but at different hours, for the purtling before the Indians, apparently as cool pose he had named; yet how the Indians could and indifferent to their presence as if he had suffer this, if their intentions were really hosconceived them to be the most peaceably dis- tile, it was impossible for them to understand. posed persons the world. He had, however, in proportion as the hopes of the one were attentively listened to the order given to Wilton raised by this circumstance, those of the other by his master, and had not failed to remark were depressed. that the Indians had not, in any way, inter- While the master and the man were indulgfered with his departure.

ing their opposite reflections, without however

« ForrigeFortsæt »