And dar'st thou then To beard the lion in his den, The Douglas in his hall "-Marmion.
The commotion was just subsiding, and the inhabitants of the village had begun to disperse from the little groups that had formed, each retiring to his own home, and closing his door after him, with the grave air of a man who consulted public feeling in his exterior deportment, when Oliver Edwards, on his return from the dwelling of Mr. Grant, encountered the young lawyer, who is known to the reader as Mr. Lippet. There was very little similarity in the manners or opinions of the two; but as they both belonged to the more intelligent class of a very small community, they were, of course, known to each other, and as their meeting was at a point where silence would have been rudeness, the following conversation was the result of their interview:
"A fine evening, Mr. Edwards," commenced the lawyer, whose disinclination to the dialogue was, to say the least, very doubtful; "we want rain sadly; that's the worst of this climate of ours, it's either a drought or a deluge. It's likely you've been used to a more equal temperature?"
"I am a native of this State," returned Edwards, coldly.
"Well. I've often heard that point disputed; but it's so easy to get a man naturalized, that it's of little consequence where he was born. I wonder what course the Judge means to take in this business of Natty Bumppo!" "Of Natty Bumppo!" echoed Edwards; "to what do you allude, sir?" "Haven't you heard!" exclaimed the other, with a look of surprise, so naturally assumed as completely to deceive his auditor; "it may turn out an ugly business. It seems that the old man has been out in the hills, and has shot a buck this morning, and that, you know, is a criminal matter in the eyes of Judge Temple."
"Oh! he has, has he?" said Edwards, averting his face to conceal the color that collected in his sunburnt cheek. "Well, if that be all, he must even pay the fine."
"It's five pound currency," said the lawyer; "could Natty muster so much money at once?"
"Could he!" cried the youth. "I am not rich, Mr. Lippet; far from it- I am poor, and I have been hoarding my salary for a purpose that lies near my heart; but, be fore that old man should lie one hour in a jail, I would spend the last cent to prevent it. Besides, he has killed two panthers, and the bounty will discharge the fine many times over."
"Yes, yes," said the lawyer, rubbing his hands together, with an expression of pleasure that had no artifice about it; "we shall make it out; I see plainly we shall make it out."
"Make what out, sir? I must beg an explanation."
"Why, killing the buck is but a small matter compared to what took place this afternoon," continued Mr. Lippet, with a confidential and friendly air that won upon the youth, little as he liked the man. "It seems that a complaint was made of the fact, and a suspicion that there was venison in the hut was sworn to, all which is provided for in the statute, when Judge Temple granted the search warrant."
"A search-warrant!" echoed Edwards, in a voice of horror, and with a face that should have been again averted to conceal its paleness; "and how much did they discover? What did they see
"They saw old Bumppo's rifle; and that is a sight which will quiet most men's curiosity in the woods."
"Did they! did they!" shouted Edwards, bursting into a convulsive laugh; "so the old hero beat them back beat them back! did he?" The lawyer fastened his eyes in astonishment on the youth, but, as his wonder gave way to the thoughts that were commonly uppermost in his mind, he replied:
"It is no laughing matter, let me tell you, sir; the forty dollars of bounty and your six months of salary will be much reduced before you can get the matter fairly settled. Assaulting a magistrate in the execution of his duty, and menacing a constable with firearms at the same time, is a pretty serious affair, and is punishable with both fine and imprisonment."
"Imprisonment!" repeated Oliver; "imprison the Leather-Stocking! no, no, sir; it would bring the old man to his grave. They shall never imprison the Leather-Stocking."
"Well, Mr. Edwards," said Lippet, dropping all reserve from his manner, "you are called a curious man; but if you can tell me how a jury is to be prevented from finding a verdict of guilty, if this case comes fairly before them, and the proof is clear, I shall acknowledge that you know more law than I do, who have had a license in my pocket for three years."
By this time the reason of Edwards was getting the ascendency of his feelings, and, as he began to see the real difficulties of the case, he listened more readily to the conversation of the lawyer. The ungovernable emotion that escaped the youth, in the first moments of his surprise, entirely passed away; and, although it was still evident that he continued to be much agitated by what he had heard, he succeeded in yielding forced attention to the advice which the other uttered.
Notwithstanding the confused state of his mind, Oliver soon discovered that most of the expedients of the lawyer were grounded in cunning, and plans that required a time to execute them that neither suited his disposition nor his necessities. After, however, giving Mr. Lippet to under stand that he retained him in the event of a trial, an assurance that at once satisfied the lawyer, they parted, one taking his course with a deliberate tread in the direction of the little building that had a wooden sign over its door, with "Chester Lippet, Attorney-at- law," painted on it; and the other pacing over the ground with enormous strides toward the mansion-house. We shall take leave of the attorney for the present, and direct the attention of the reader to the client.
When Edwards entered the hall, whose enormous doors were opened to the passage of the air of a mild evening, he found Benjamin engaged in some of his domestic avocations, and in a hurried voice inquired where Judge Temple was to be found.
Why, the Judge has stepped into his office, with that master carpenter, Mister Doolittle; but Miss Lizzy is in that there parlor. I say, Master Oliver, we'd like to have had a bad job of that panther, or painter's work- some calls it one, and some calls it t'other-but I know little of the beast, seeing that it is not of British growth. I said as much as that it was in the hills the last winter for I heard it moaning on the lake shore one evening in the fall, when I was pulling down from the fishing-point in the skiff. Had the animal come into open water, where a man could see where and how to work his vessel, I would have engaged the thing myself; but looking aloft among the trees is all the same to me as standing on the deck of one ship, and looking at another vessel's tops. I never can tell one rope from another-"
"Well, well," interrupted Edwards; "I must see Miss Temple."
"And you shall see her, sir," said the steward; "she's in this here room. Lord, Master Edwards, what a loss she'd have been to the Judge! Dam'me if I know where he would have gotten such another daughter; that is, full grown, d'ye see. I say, sir, this Master Bumppo is a worthy man, and seems to have a handy way with him, with firearms and boat-hooks. I'm his friend, Master Oliver, and he and you may both set me down as the same."
"We may want your friendship, my worthy fellow," cried Edwards, squeezing his hand convulsively; "we may want your friendship, in which case you shall know it."
Without waiting to hear the earnest reply that Benjamin meditated, the youth extricated himself from the vigorous grasp of the steward, and entered the parlor.
Elizabeth was alone, and still reclining on the sofa, where we last left her. A hand, which exceeded all that the ingenuity of art could model, in shape and color, veiled her eyes; and the maiden was sitting as if in deep communion with herself. Struck by the attitude and loveliness of the form that met his eye, the young man checked his impatience, and approached her with respect and caution.
"Miss Temple-Miss Temple," he said, "I hope I do not intrude; but I am anxious for an interview, if it be only for a moment."
Elizabeth raised her face, and exhibited her dark eyes swimming in moisture.
Is it you, Edwards?" she said, with a sweetness in her voice, and a softness in her air, that she often used to her father, but which, from its novelty to himself, thrilled on every nerve of the youth; "how left you our poor Louisa?"
"She is with her father, happy and grateful," said Oliver, " I never witnessed more feeling than she manifested, when I ventured to express my pleasure at her escape. Miss Temple, when I first heard of your horrid situation, my feelings were too powerful for utterance; and I did not properly find my tongue, until the walk to Mr. Grant's had given me time to collect myself. I believe-I do believe, I acquitted myself better there, for Miss Grant even wept at my silly speeches." For a moment Elizabeth did not reply, but again veiled her eyes with her hand. The feeling that caused the action, however, soon passed away, and, raising her face again to his gaze, she continued with a smile:
"Your friend, the Leather-Stocking, has now become my friend, Edwards; I have been thinking how I can best serve him; perhaps you, who know his habits and his wants so well, can tell me--"
"I can," cried the youth, with an impetuosity that startled his companion. "I can, and may Heaven reward you for the wish, Natty has been so imprudent as to for get the law, and has this day killed a deer. Nay, I believe I must share in the crime and the penalty, for I was an accomplice throughout. A complaint has been made to your father, and he has granted a search-"
"I know it all," interrupted Elizabeth; "I know it all. The forms of the law must be complied with, however; the search must be made, the deer found, and the penalty paid. But I must retort your own question. Have you lived so long in our family not to know us? Look at me, Oliver Edwards. Do I appear like one who would permit the man that has just saved her life to linger in a jail for so small a sum as this fine? No, no, sir; my father is a judge, but he is a man and a Christian. It is all under stood, and no harm shall follow."
"What a load of apprehension do your declarations remove!" exclaimed Edwards: " He shall not be disturbed again! your father will protect him! I have assurance, Miss Temple, that he will, and I must believe it."
"You may have his own, Mr. Edwards," returned Elizabeth, "for here he comes to make it."
But the appearance of Marmaduke, who entered the apartment, contradicted the flattering anticipations of his daughter. His brow was contracted, and his manner disturbed. Neither Elizabeth nor the youth spoke; but the Judge was allowed to pace once or twice across the room without interruption, when he cried:
"Our plans are defeated, girl; the obstinacy of the Leather-Stocking has brought down the indignation of the law on his head, and it is now out of my power to avert it."
"How? in what manner?" cried Elizabeth; "the fine is nothing surely-"
"I did not-I could not anticipate that an old, a friendless man like him, would dare to oppose the officers of justice," interrupted the Judge, "I supposed that he would submit to the search, when the fine could have been paid, and the law would have been appeased; but now he will have to meet its rigor."
"And what must the punishment be, sir?" asked Ed wards, struggling to speak with firmness.
Marmaduke turned quickly to the spot where the youth had withdrawn, and exclaimed:
"You here! I did not observe you. I know not what it will be, sir; it is not usual for a judge to decide until he has heard the testimony, and the jury have convicted. Of one thing, however, you may be assured, Mr. Edwards; it shall be whatever the law demands, notwithstanding any momentary weakness I may have exhibited, because the luckless man has been of such eminent service to my daughter."
"No one, I believe, doubts the sense of justice which Judge Temple entertains!" returned Edwards bitterly.
"But let us converse calmly, sir. Will not the years, the habits, nay, the ignorance of my old friend, avail him any thing against this charge?"
"Ought they? They may extenuate, but can they ac quit? Would any society be tolerable, young man, where the ministers of justice are to be opposed by men armed with rifles? Is it for this that I have tamed the wilder ness?"
"Had you tamed the beasts that so lately threatened the life of Miss Temple, sir, your arguments would apply better."
"Edwards!" exclaimed Elizabeth.
"Peace, my child," interrupted the father; " the youth is unjust; but I have not given him cause. I overlook thy remark, Oliver, for I know thee to be the friend of Natty, and zeal in his behalf has overcome thy discretion,"
"Yes, he is my friend," cried Edwards, "and I glory in the title. He is simple, unlettered, even ignorant; prejudiced, perhaps, though I feel that his opinion of the world is too true; but he has a heart, Judge Temple, that would atone for a thousand faults; he knows his friends, and never deserts them, even if it be his dog."
"This is a good character, Mr. Edwards," returned Marmaduke, mildly; "but I have never been so fortunate as to secure his esteem, for to me he has been uniformly repulsive; yet I have endured it, as an old man's whim, However, when he appears before me, as his judge, he shall find that his former conduct shall not aggravate, any more than his recent services shall extenuate, his crime."
"Crime!" echoed Edwards: "is it a crime to drive a prying miscreant from his door? Crime! Oh, no, sir; if there be a criminal involved in this affair, it is not he."
"And who may it be, sir?" asked Judge Temple, facing the agitated youth, his features settled to their usual composure.
This appeal was more than the young man could bear. Hitherto he had been deeply agitated by his emotions; but now the volcano burst its boundaries.
"Who! and this to me!" he cried; "ask your own conscience, Judge Temple. Walk to that door, sir, and look out upon the valley, that placid lake, and those dusky mountains, and say to your own heart, if heart you have, whence came these riches, this vale, those hills, and why am I their owner? I should think, sir, that the appearance of Mohegan and the Leather-Stocking, stalking through the country, impoverished and forlorn, would wither your sight."
Marmaduke heard this burst of passion, at first, with deep amazement; but when the youth had ended, he beckoned to his impatient daughter for silence, and replied:
"Oliver Edwards, thou forgettest in whose presence thou standest. I have heard, young man, that thou claimest descent from the native owners of the soil; but surely thy education has been given thee to no effect, if it has not taught thee the validity of the claims that have transferred the title to the whites. These lands are mine by the very grants of thy ancestry, if thou art so descended; and I appeal to Heaven for a testimony of the uses I have put them to. After this language, we must separate. I have too long sheltered thee in my dwelling; but the time has arrived when thou must quit it. Come to my office, and I will discharge the debt I owe thee. Neither shall thy present intemperate language mar thy future fortunes, if thou wilt hearken to the advice of one who is by many years thy senior."
The ungovernable feeling that caused the violence of the youth had passed away, and he stood gazing after the retiring figure of Marmaduke, with a vacancy in his eye that denoted the absence of his mind. At length he recollected himself, and, turning his head slowly around the apartment, he beheld Elizabeth, still seated on the sofa, but with her head dropped on her bosom, and her face again concealed by her hands.
"Miss Temple," he said-all violence had left his manner-" Miss Temple- I have forgotten myself-forgotten you. You have heard what your father has decreed, and this night I leave here. With you, at least, I would part in amity."
Elizabeth slowly raised her face, across which a momentary expression of sadness stole; but as she left her seat, her dark eyes lighted with their usual fire, her cheek flushed to burning, and her whole air seemed to belong to another nature.
"I forgive you, Edwards, and my father will forgive you," she said, when she reached the door. "You do not know us, but the time may come when your opinions shall change-"
"Of you! never!" interrupted the youth; "I-"
"I would speak, sir, and not listen. There is something in this affair that I do not comprehend; but tell the Leather-Stocking he has friends as well as judges in us. Do not let the old man experience unnecessary uneasiness at this rupture. It is impossible that you could increase his claims here; neither shall they be diminished by any thing you have said. Mr. Edwards, I wish you happiness, and warmer friends,"
The youth would have spoken, but she vanished from the door so rapidly, that when he reached the hall her form was nowhere to be seen. He paused a moment, in stupor, and then, rushing from the house, instead of following Marmaduke in his "office," he took his way directly for the cabin of the hunters.
"Who measured earth, described the starry spheres, And traced the long records of lunar years. "-Pope.
Richard did not return from the exercise of his official duties until late in the evening of the following day. It had been one portion of his business to superintend the arrest of part of a gang of counterfeiters, that had, even at that early period, buried themselves in the woods, to manufacture their base coin, which they afterward circulated from one end of the Union to the other. The expedition had been completely successful, and about midnight the sheriff entered the village, at the head of a posse of deputies and constables, in the centre of whom rode, pinioned, four of the malefactors. At the gate of the mansion-house they separated, Mr. Jones directing his assist ants to proceed with their charge to the county jail, while he pursued his own way up the gravel walk, with the kind of self-satisfaction that a man of his organization would feel, who had really for once done a very clever thing.
"Holla! Aggy!" shouted the sheriff, when he reached the door; "where are you, you black dog? will you keep me here in the dark all night? Holla! Aggy! Brave! Brave! hoy, hoy-where have you got to, Brave? Off his watch! Everybody is asleep but myself! Poor I must keep my eyes open, that others may sleep in safety. Brave! Brave! Well, I will say this for the dog, lazy as he's grown, that it is the first time I ever knew him to let any one come to the door after dark, without having a smell to know whether it was an honest man or not. He could tell by his nose, almost as well as I could myself by looking at them. Holla! you Agamemnon! where are you? Oh! here comes the dog at last."
By this time the sheriff had dismounted, and observed a form, which he supposed to be that of Brave, slowly creeping out of the kennel; when, to his astonishment, it reared itself on two legs instead of four, and he was able to distinguish, by the starlight, the curly head and dark visage of the negro.
"Ha! what the devil are you doing there, you black rascal?" he cried. "Is it not hot enough for your Guinea blood in the house this warm night, but you must drive out the poor dog, and sleep in his straw?"
By this time the boy was quite awake, and, with a blubbering whine, he attempted to reply to his master.
"Oh! masser Richard! masser Richard! such a ting! such a ting! I nebber tink a could 'appen! neber tink he die! Oh, Lor-a-gor! ain't bury-keep 'em till masser Richard get back-got a grabe dug-" Here the feelings of the negro completely got the mastery, and, instead of making any intelligible explanation of the causes of his grief, he blubbered aloud.
"Eh! what! buried! grave! dead!" exclaimed Richard, with a tremor in his voice; "nothing serious? Nothing has happened to Benjamin, I hope? I know he has been bilious, but I gave him-"
"Oh, worser 'an dat! worser 'an dat!" sobbed the negro. " Oh! de Lor! Miss 'Lizzy an' Miss Grant-walk-mountain-poor Bravy '-kill a lady- painter--Oh, Lor, Lor!-Natty Bumppo-tare he troat open-come a see, masser Richard-here he be-here he be."
As all this was perfectly inexplicable to the sheriff, he was very glad to wait patiently until the black brought a lantern from the kitchen, when he followed Aggy to the kennel, where he beheld poor Brave, indeed, lying in his blood, stiff and cold, but decently covered with the great coat of the negro. He was on the point of demanding an explanation; but the grief of the black, who had fallen asleep on his voluntary watch, having burst out afresh on his waking, utterly disqualified the lad from giving one. Luckily, at this moment the principal door of the house opened, and the coarse features of Benjamin were thrust over the threshold, with a candle elevated above them, shedding its dim rays around in such a manner as to exhibit the lights and shadows of his countenance. Richard threw his bridle to the black, and, bidding him look to the horse, he entered the hall. What is the meaning of the dead dog?" he cried.
"Where is Miss Temple?"
Benjamin made one of his square gestures, with the thumb of his left hand pointing over his right shoulder, as he answered:
"Judge Temple-where is he?"
"In his berth."
"But explain; why is Brave dead? and what is the cause of Aggy's grief?"
"Why, it's all down, squire," said Benjamin, pointing to a slate that lay on the table, by the side of a mug of toddy, a short pipe in which the tobacco was yet burning, and a prayer-book.
Among the other pursuits of Richard, he had a passion to keep a register of all passing events; and his diary, which was written in the manner of a journal, or log. book, embraced not only such circumstances as affected himself, but observations on the weather, and all the occurrences of the family, and frequently of the village. Since his appointment to the office of sheriff and his consequent absences from home, he had employed Benjamin to make memoranda on a slate, of whatever might be thought worth remembering, which, on his return, were regularly transferred to the journal with proper notations of the time, manner, and other little particulars. There was, to be sure, one material objection to the clerkship of Benjamin, which the ingenuity of no one but Richard could have overcome. The steward read nothing but his prayer-book, and that only in particular parts, and by the aid of a good deal of spelling, and some misnomers; but he could not form a single letter with a pen. This would have been an insuperable bar to journalizing with most men; but Richard invented a kind of hieroglyphical character, which was intended to note all the ordinary occurrences of a day, such as how the wind blew, whether the sun shone, or whether it rained, the hours, etc. ; and for the extraordinary, after giving certain elementary lectures on the subject, the sheriff was obliged to trust to the ingenuity of the major-domo. The reader will at once perceive, that it was to this chronicle that Benjamin pointed, instead of directly answering the sheriff's interrogatory.
When Mr. Jones had drunk a glass of toddy, he brought forth from its secret place his proper journal, and, seating himself by the table, he prepared to transfer the contents of the slate to the paper, at the same time that he appeased his curiosity. Benjamin laid one hand on the back of the sheriff's chair, in a familiar manner, while he kept the other at liberty to make use of a forefinger, that was bent like some of his own characters, as an index to point out his meaning.
The first thing referred to by the sheriff was the diagram of a compass, cut in one corner of the slate for permanent use. The cardinal points were plainly marked on it, and all the usual divisions were indicated in such a manner that no man who had ever steered a ship could mistake them.
"Oh!" said the sheriff, seating himself down comfort ably in his chair, "you'd the wind southeast, I see, all last night I thought it would have blown up rain."
"Devil the drop, sir," said Benjamin; "I believe that the scuttle-butt up aloft is emptied, for there hasn't so much water fell in the country for the last three weeks as would float Indian John's canoe, and that draws just one inch nothing, light."
"Well but didn't the wind change here this morning? there was a change where I was."
"To be sure it did, squire; and haven't I logged it as a shift of wind?"
"I don't see where, Benjamin-"
"Don't see!" interrupted the steward, a little crustily; "ain't there a mark agin' east-and-by-nothe-half-nothe, with summat like a rising sun at the end of it, to show 'twas in the morning watch?"
"Yes, yes, that is very legible; but where is the change noted?"
"Where! why doesn't it see this here tea-kettle, with a mark run from the spout straight, or mayhap a little crooked or so, into west-and- by-southe-half-southe? now I call this a shift of wind, squire. Well, do you see this here boar's head that you made for me, alongside of the compass-"
"Ay, ay-Boreas---I see. Why, you've drawn lines from its mouth, extending from one of your marks to the other."
"It's no fault of mine, Squire Dickens; 'tis your d-d climate. The wind has been at all them there marks this very day, and that's all round the compass, except a little matter of an Irishman's hurricane at meridium, which you'll find marked right up and down. Now, I've known a sow-wester blow for three weeks, in the channel, with a clean drizzle, in which you might wash your face and hands without the trouble of hauling in water from alongside."
"Very well, Benjamin," said the sheriff, writing in his journal; "I believe I have caught the idea. Oh! here's a cloud over the rising sun-so you had it hazy in the morning?"
"Ay, ay, sir," said Benjamin.
"Ah it's Sunday. and here are the marks for the length of the sermon- one, two, three, four-what! did Mr. Grant preach forty minutes?"
"Ay, summat like it; it was a good half-hour by my own glass, and then there was the time lost in turning it, and some little allowance for leeway in not being over-smart about it."
"Benjamin, this is as long as a Presbyterian; you never could have been ten minutes in turning the glass!"
"Why, do you see, Squire, the parson was very solemn, and I just closed my eyes in order to think the better with myself, just the same as you'd put in the dead-lights to make all snug, and when I opened them agin I found the congregation were getting under way for home, so I calculated the ten minutes would cover the leeway after the glass was out. It was only some such matter as a cat's nap."
"Oh, ho! Master Benjamin, you were asleep, were you? but I'll set down no such slander against an orthodox divine." Richard wrote twenty-nine minutes in his journal, and continued: "Why, what's this you've got opposite ten o'clock A.M.? A full moon! had you a moon visible by day? I have heard of such portents before now, but-eh! what's this alongside of it? an hour-glass?"
"That!" said Benjamin, looking coolly over the sheriff's shoulder, and rolling the tobacco about in his mouth with a jocular air; "why, that's a small matter of my own. It's no moon, squire, but only Betty Hollister's face; for, dye see, sir, hearing all the same as if she had got up a new cargo of Jamaiky from the river, I called in as I was going to the church this morning-ten A.M. was it?-just the time-and tried a glass; and so I logged it, to put me in mind of calling to pay her like an honest man."
"That was it, was it?" said the sheriff, with some displeasure at this innovation on his memoranda; "and could you not make a better glass than this? it looks like a death's-head and an hour-glass."
"Why, as I liked the stuff, squire," returned the steward, "I turned in, homeward bound, and took t'other glass, which I set down at the bottom of the first, and that gives the thing the shape it has. But as I was there again to-night, and paid for the three at once, your honor may as well run the sponge over the whole business."
"I will buy you a slate for your own affairs, Benjamin," said the sheriff; "I don't like to have the journal marked over in this manner."
"You needn't-you needn't, squire; for, seeing that I was likely to trade often with the woman while this barrel lasted. I've opened a fair account with Betty, and she keeps her marks on the back of her bar-door, and I keeps the tally on this here bit of a stick." As Benjamin concluded he produced a piece of wood, on which five very large, honest notches were apparent. The sheriff cast his eyes on this new ledger for a moment, and continued:
"What have we here! Saturday, two P.M.-Why here's a whole family piece! two wine-glasses upside-down!"
"That's two women; the one this a-way is Miss 'Lizzy, and t'other is the parson's young'un."
"Cousin Bess and Miss Grant!" exclaimed the sheriff, in amazement; "what have they to do with my journal?"
"They'd enough to do to get out of the jaws of that there painter or panther," said the immovable steward. "This here thingumy, squire, that maybe looks summat like a rat, is the beast, d'ye see; and this here t'other thing, keel uppermost, is poor old Brave, who died nobly, all the same as an admiral fighting for his king and country; and that there-"
"Scarecrow," interrupted Richard.
"Ay, mayhap it do look a little wild or so," continued the steward; "but to my judgment, squire, it's the best image I've made, seeing it's most like the man himself; well, that's Natty Bumppo, who shot this here painter, that killed that there dog, who would have eaten or done worse to them here young ladies."
"And what the devil does all this mean?" cried Richard, impatiently.
"Mean!" echoed Benjamin; "it is as true as the Boadishey's log book-" He was interrupted by the sheriff, who put a few direct questions to him, that obtained more intelligible answers, by which means he became possessed of a tolerably correct idea of the truth, When the wonder, and we must do Richard the justice to say, the feelings also, that were created by this narrative, had in some degree subsided, the sheriff turned his eyes again on his journal, where more inexplicable hieroglyphics met his view.
"What have we here?" he cried; "two men boxing! Has there been a breach of the peace? Ah, that's the way, the moment my back is turned- -."
"That's the Judge and young Master Edwards," interrupted the steward, very cavalierly.
"How! 'Duke fighting with Oliver! what the devil has got into you all? More things have happened within the last thirty-six hours than in the preceding six months." "Yes, it's so indeed, squire," returned the steward "I've known a smart chase, and a fight at the tail of it", where less has been logged than I've got on that there slate. Howsomnever, they didn't come to facers, only passed a little jaw fore and aft."
"Explain! explain!" cried Richard; "it was about the mines, ha! Ay, ay, I see it, I see it; here is a man with a pick on his shoulder. So you heard it all, Benjamin?"
"Why, yes, it was about their minds, I believe, squire, returned the steward; "and, by what I can learn, they spoke them pretty plainly to one another. Indeed, I may say that I overheard a small matter of it myself, seeing that the windows was open, and I hard by. But this here is no pick. but an anchor on a man's shoulder; and here's the other fluke down his back, maybe a little too close, which signifies that the lad has got under way and left his moorings."
"Has Edwards left the house?"
Richard pursued this advantage; and, after a long and close examination, he succeeded in getting out of Benjamin all that he knew, not only concerning the misunderstanding, but of the attempt to search the hut, and Hiram's discomfiture. The sheriff was no sooner possessed of these facts, which Benjamin related with all possible tenderness to the Leather-Stocking, than, snatching up his hat, and bidding the astonished steward secure the doors and go to his bed, he left the house.
For at least five minutes, after Richard disappeared, Benjamin stood with his arms akimbo, and his eyes fastened on the door; when, having collected his astonished faculties, he prepared to execute the orders he had received.
It has been already said that the "court of common pleas and general sessions of the peace," or, as it is commonly called, the "county court," over which Judge Temple presided, held one of its stated sessions on the following morning. The attendants of Richard were officers who had come to the village, as much to discharge their usual duties at this court, as to escort the prisoners and the sheriff knew their habits too well, not to feel confident that he should find most, if not all of them, in the public room of the jail, discussing the qualities of the keeper's liquors. Accordingly he held his way through the silent streets of the village, directly to the small and insecure building that contained all the unfortunate debt ors and some of the criminals of the county, and where justice was administered to such unwary applicants as were so silly as to throw away two dollars in order to obtain one from their neighbors. The arrival of four malefactors in the custody of a dozen officers was an event, at that day, in Templeton; and, when the sheriff reached the jail, he found every indication that his subordinates in tended to make a night of it.
The nod of the sheriff brought two of his deputies to the door, who in their turn drew off six or seven of the constables. With this force Richard led the way through the village, toward the bank of the lake, undisturbed by any noise, except the barking of one or two curs, who were alarmed by the measured tread of the party, and by the low murmurs that ran through their own numbers, as a few cautious questions and answers were exchanged, relative to the object of their expedition. When they had crossed the little bridge of hewn logs that was thrown over the Susquehanna, they left the highway, and struck into that field which had been the scene of the victory over the pigeons. From this they followed their leader into the low bushes of pines and chestnuts which had sprung up along the shores of the lake, where the plough had not succeeded the fall of the trees, and soon entered the forest itself. Here Richard paused and collected his troop around him.
"I have required your assistance, my friends," he cried, in a low voice, "in order to arrest Nathaniel Bumppo, commonly called the Leather-Stocking He has assaulted a magistrate, and resisted the execution of a search-war rant, by threatening the life of a constable with his rifle. In short, my friends, he has set an example of rebellion to the laws, and has become a kind of outlaw. He is suspected of other misdemeanors and offences against private rights; and I have this night taken on myself. by the virtue of my office as sheriff, to arrest the said Bumppo, and bring him to the county jail, that he may be present and forthcoming to answer to these heavy charges before the court to-morrow morning. In executing this duty, friends and fellow-citizens, you are to use courage and discretion; courage, that you may not be daunted by any lawless attempt that this man may make with his rifle and his dogs to oppose you; and discretion, which here means caution and prudence, that he may not escape from this sudden attack-and for other good reasons that I need not mention. You will form yourselves in a complete circle around his hut, and at the word 'advance,' called aloud by me, you will rush forward and, without giving the criminal time for deliberation, enter his dwelling by force, and make him your prisoner. Spread yourselves for this purpose, while I shall descend to the shore with a deputy, to take charge of that point; and all communications must be made directly to me, under the bank in front of the hut, where I shall station myself and remain, in order to receive them."
This speech, which Richard had been studying during his walk, had the effect that all similar performances produce, of bringing the dangers of the expedition immediately before the eyes of his forces. The men divided, some plunging deeper into the forest, in order to gain their stations without giving an alarm, and others Continuing to advance, at a gait that would allow the whole party to go in order; but all devising the best plan to repulse the attack of a dog, or to escape a rifle-bullet. It was a moment of dread expectation and interest.
When the sheriff thought time enough had elapsed for the different divisions of his force to arrive at their stations, he raised his voice in the silence of the forest, and shouted the watchword. The sounds played among the arched branches of the trees in hollow cadences; but when the last sinking tone was lost on the ear, in place of the expected howls of the dogs, no other noises were returned but the crackling of torn branches and dried sticks, as they yielded before the advancing steps of the officers. Even this soon ceased, as if by a common consent, when the curiosity and impatience of the sheriff getting the complete ascendency over discretion, he rushed up the bank, and in a moment stood on the little piece of cleared ground in front of the spot where Natty had so long lived, To his amazement, in place of the hut he saw only its smouldering ruins.
The party gradually drew together about the heap of ashes and the ends of smoking logs; while a dim flame in the centre of the ruin, which still found fuel to feed its lingering life, threw its pale light, flickering with the passing currents of the air, around the circle-now showing a face with eyes fixed in astonishment, and then glancing to another countenance, leaving the former shaded in the obscurity of night. Not a voice was raised in inquiry, nor an exclamation made in astonishment. The transition from excitement to disappointment was too powerful for Speech; and even Richard lost the use of an organ that was seldom known to fail him.
The whole group were yet in the fullness of their surprise, when a tall form stalked from the gloom into the circle, treading down the hot ashes and dying embers with callous feet; and, standing over the light, lifted his cap, and exposed the bare head and weather-beaten features of the Leather-Stocking. For a moment he gazed at the dusky figures who surrounded him, more in sorrow than in anger before he spoke.
"What would ye with an old and helpless man?" he said, "You've driven God's creatur's from the wilder ness, where His providence had put them for His own pleasure; and you've brought in the troubles and diviltries of the law, where no man was ever known to disturb another. You have driven me, that have lived forty long years of my appointed time in this very spot, from my home and the shelter of my head, lest you should put your wicked feet and wasty ways in my cabin. You've driven me to burn these logs, under which I've eaten and drunk-the first of Heaven's gifts, and the other of the pure springs-for the half of a hundred years; and to mourn the ashes under my feet, as a man would weep and mourn for the children of his body. You've rankled the heart of an old man, that has never harmed you or your'n, with bitter feelings toward his kind, at a time when his thoughts should be on a better world; and you've driven him to wish that the beasts of the forest, who never feast on the blood of their own families, was his kindred and race; and now, when he has come to see the last brand of his hut, before it is incited into ashes, you follow him up, at midnight, like hungry hounds on the track of a worn-out and dying deer. What more would ye have? for I am here-one too many. I come to mourn, not to fight; and, if it is God's pleasure, work your will on me."
When the old man ended he stood, with the light glimmering around his thinly covered head, looking earnestly at the group, which receded from the pile with an involuntary movement, without the reach of the quivering rays, leaving a free passage for his retreat into the bushes, where pursuit in the dark would have been fruit less. Natty seemed not to regard this advantage, but stood facing each individual in the circle in succession, as if to see who would he the first to arrest him. After a pause of a few moments Richard began to rally his confused faculties, and, advancing, apologized for his duty, and made him his prisoner. The party flow collected, and, preceded by the sheriff, with Natty in their centre, they took their way toward the village.
During the walk, divers questions were put to the prisoner concerning his reasons for burning the hut, and whither Mohegan had retreated; but to all of them he observed a profound silence, until, fatigued with their previous duties, and the lateness of the hour, the sheriff and his followers reached the village, and dispersed to their several places of rest, after turning the key of a jail on the aged and apparently friendless Leather-Stocking.
"Fetch here the stocks, ho! You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend bragget, We'll teach you."-Lear.
The long days and early sun of July allowed time for a gathering of the interested, before the little bell of the academy announced that the appointed hour had arrived for administering right to the wronged, and punishment to the guilty. Ever since the dawn of day, the highways and woodpaths that, issuing from the forests, and winding among the sides of the mountains, centred in Templeton, had been thronged with equestrians and footmen, bound to the haven of justice. There was to be seen a well-clad yeoman, mounted on a sleek, switch- tailed steed, rambling along the highway, with his red face elevated in a manner that said, "I have paid for my land, and fear no man;" while his bosom was swelling with the pride of being one of the grand inquest for the county. At his side rode a companion, his equal in independence of feeling, perhaps, but his inferior in thrift, as in property and consideration. This was a professed dealer in lawsuits-a man whose name appeared in every calendar-whose substance, gained in the multifarious expedients of a settler's change able habits, was wasted in feeding the harpies of the courts. He was endeavoring to impress the mind of the grand juror with the merits of a cause now at issue, Along with these was a pedestrian, who, having thrown a rifle frock over his shirt, and placed his best wool hat above his sunburnt visage, had issued from his retreat in the woods by a footpath, and was striving to keep company with the others, on his way to hear and to decide the disputes of his neighbors, as a petit juror. Fifty similar little knots of countrymen might have been seen, on that morning, journeying toward the shire-town on the same errand.
By ten o'clock the streets of the village were filled with busy faces; some talking of their private concerns, some listening to a popular expounder of political creeds; and others gaping in at the open stores, admiring the finery, or examining scythes, axes, and such other manufactures as attracted their curiosity or excited their admiration. A few women were in the crowd, most carrying infants, and followed, at a lounging, listless gait, by their rustic lords and masters. There was one young couple, in whom connubial love was yet fresh, walking at a respectful distance from each other; while the swain directed the timid steps of his bride, by a gallant offering of a thumb.
At the first stroke of the bell, Richard issued from the door of the "Bold Dragoon," flourishing a sheathed sword, that he was fond of saying his ancestors had carried in one of Cromwell's victories, and crying, in an authoritative tone, to "clear the way for the court." The order was obeyed promptly, though not servilely, the members of the crowd nodding familiarly to the members of the procession as it passed. A party of constables with their staves followed the sheriff, preceding Marmaduke and four plain, grave-looking yeomen, who were his associates on the bench. There was nothing to distinguish these Subordinate judges from the better part of the spectators, except gravity, which they affected a little more than common, and that one of their number was attired in an old-fashioned military coat, with skirts that reached no lower than the middle of his thighs, and bearing two little silver epaulets, not half so big as a modern pair of shoulder-knots. This gentleman was a colonel of the militia, in attendance on a court-martial, who found leisure to steal a moment from his military to attend to his civil jurisdiction; but this incongruity excited neither notice nor comment. Three or four clean- shaved lawyers followed, as meek as if they were lambs going to the slaughter. One or two of their number had contrived to obtain an air of scholastic gravity by wearing spectacles. The rear was brought up by another posse of constables, and the mob followed the whole into the room where the court held its sitting.
The edifice was composed of a basement of squared logs, perforated here and there with small grated windows, through which a few wistful faces were gazing at the crowd without. Among the captives were the guilty, downcast countenances of the counterfeiters, and the simple but honest features of the Leather-Stocking. The dungeons were to be distinguished, externally, from the debtors' apartments only by the size of the apertures, the thickness of the grates, and by the heads of the spikes that were driven into the logs as a protection against the illegal use of edge-tools. The upper story was of frame work, regularly covered with boards, and contained one room decently fitted up for the purpose of justice. A bench, raised on a narrow platform to the height of a man above the floor, and protected in front by a light railing. ran along one of its sides. In the centre was a seat, furnished with rude arms, that was always filled by the presiding judge. In front, on a level with the floor of the room, was a large table covered with green baize, and surrounded by benches; and at either of its ends were rows of seats, rising one over the other, for jury-boxes. Each of these divisions was surrounded by a railing. The remainder of the room was an open square, appropriated to the spectators.
When the judges were seated, the lawyers had taken possession of the table, and the noise of moving feet had ceased in the area, the proclamations were made in the usual form, the jurors were sworn, the charge was given, and the court proceeded to hear the business before them.
We shall not detain the reader with a description of the captious discussions that occupied the court for the first two hours, Judge Temple had impressed on the jury, in his charge, the necessity for dispatch on their part, recommending to their notice, from motives of humanity, the prisoners in the jail as the first objects of their attention. Accordingly, after the period we have mentioned had elapsed, the cry of the officer to "clear the way for the grand jury," announced the entrance of that body. The usual forms were observed, when the foreman handed up to the bench two bills, on both of which the Judge observed, at the first glance of his eye, the name of Nathaniel Bumppo. It was a leisure moment with the court; some low whispering passed between the bench and the sheriff, who gave a signal to his officers, and in a very few minutes the silence that prevailed was interrupted by a general movement in the outer crowd, when presently the Leather-Stocking made his appearance, ushered into the criminal's bar under the custody of two constables, The hum ceased, the people closed into the open space again, and the silence soon became so deep that the hard breathing of the prisoner was audible.
Natty was dressed in his buckskin garments, without his coat, in place of which he wore only a shirt of coarse linen-cheek, fastened at his throat by the sinew of a deer, leaving his red neck and weather-beaten face exposed and bare. It was the first time that he had ever crossed the threshold of a court of justice, and curiosity seemed to be strongly blended with his personal feelings. He raised his eyes to the bench, thence to the jury-boxes, the bar, and the crowd without, meeting everywhere looks fastened on himself. After surveying his own person, as searching the cause of this unusual attraction, he once more turned his face around the assemblage, and opened his mouth in one of his silent and remarkable laughs.
"Prisoner, remove your cap," said Judge Temple.
The order was either unheard or unheeded.
"Nathaniel Bumppo, be uncovered," repeated the Judge.
Natty started at the sound of his name, and, raising his face earnestly toward the bench, he said:
Mr. Lippet arose from his seat at the table, and whispered in the ear of the prisoner; when Natty gave him a nod of assent, and took the deer-skin covering from his head.
"Mr. District Attorney," said the Judge, "the prisoner is ready; we wait for the indictment."
The duties of public prosecutor were discharged by Dirck Van der School, who adjusted his spectacles, cast a cautious look around him at his brethren of the bar, which he ended by throwing his head aside so as to catch one glance over the glasses, when he proceeded to read the bill aloud. It was the usual charge for an assault and battery on the person of Hiram Doolittle, and was couched in the ancient language of such instruments, especial care having been taken by the scribe not to omit the name of a single offensive weapon known to the law. When he had done, Mr. Van der School removed his spectacles, which he closed and placed in his pocket, seemingly for the pleasure of again opening and replacing them on his nose, After this evolution was repeated once or twice, he handed the bill over to Mr. Lippet, with a cavalier air, that said as much as "Pick a hole in that if you can."
Natty listened to the charge with great attention, leaning forward toward the reader with an earnestness that denoted his interest; and, when it was ended, he raised his tall body to the utmost, and drew a long sigh. All eyes were turned to the prisoner, whose voice was vainly expected to break the stillness of the room.
"You have heard the presentment that the grand jury have made, Nathaniel Bumppo," said the Judge; "what do you plead to the charge?"
The old man drooped his head for a moment in a reflecting attitude, and then, raising it, he laughed before he answered:
"That I handled the man a little rough or so, is not to be denied; but that there was occasion to make use of all the things that the gentleman has spoken of is downright untrue. I am not much of a wrestler, seeing that I'm getting old; but I was out among the Scotch- Irishers-let me see-it must have been as long ago as the first year of the old war-"
"Mr. Lippet, if you are retained for the prisoner," interrupted Judge Temple, "instruct your client how to plead; if not, the court will assign him counsel."
Aroused from studying the indictment by this appeal, the attorney got up, and after a short dialogue with the hunter in a low voice, he informed the court that they were ready to proceed.
"Do you plead guilty or not guilty?" said the Judge.
"I may say not guilty, with a clean conscience," returned Natty; "for there's no guilt in doing what's right; and I'd rather died on the spot, than had him put foot in the hut at that moment."
Richard started at this declaration and bent his eyes significantly on Hiram, who returned the look with a slight movement of his eyebrows.
"Proceed to open the cause, Mr. District Attorney,' continued the Judge. "Mr. Clerk, enter the plea of not guilty."
After a short opening address from Mr. Van der School, Hiram was summoned to the bar to give his testimony. It was delivered to the letter, perhaps, but with all that moral coloring which can be conveyed under such expressions as, "thinking no harm," "feeling it my bounden duty as a magistrate," and "seeing that the constable was back'ard in the business." When he had done, and the district attorney declined putting any further interrogatories, Mr. Lippet arose, with an air of keen investigation, and asked the following questions:
"Are you a constable of this county, sir?"
"No, sir," said Hiram, "I'm only a justice-peace."
"I ask you, Mr. Doolittle, in the face of this court, put ting it to your conscience and your knowledge of the law, whether you had any right to enter that man's dwelling?"
"Hem!" said Hiram, undergoing a violent struggle between his desire for vengeance, and his love of legal fame: "I do suppose-that in-that is-strict law-that supposing-maybe I hadn't a real-lawful right; but as the case was-and Billy was so back'ard-I thought I might come for'ard in the business."
"I ask you again, sir," continued the lawyer, following up his success, "whether this old, this friendless old man, did or did not repeatedly forbid your entrance?"
"Why, I must say," said Hiram, "that he was considerable cross- grained; not what I call clever, seeing that it was only one neighbor wanting to go into the house of another."
"Oh! then you own it was only meant for a neighborly visit on your part, and without the sanction of law. Remember, gentlemen, the words of the witness, 'one neighbor wanting to enter the house of another.' Now, sir, I ask you if Nathaniel Bumppo did not again and again order you not to enter?"
"There was some words passed between us," said Hiram, "but I read the warrant to him aloud."
"I repeat my question; did he tell you not to enter his habitation?"
"There was a good deal passed betwixt us-but I've the warrant in my pocket; maybe the court would wish to see it?"
"Witness," said Judge Temple, "answer the question directly; did or did not the prisoner forbid your entering his hut?"
"Why, I some think-"
"Answer without equivocation," continued the Judge sternly.
"And did you attempt to enter after his order?"
"I did; but the warrant was in my hand."
"Proceed, Mr. Lippet, with your examination."
But the attorney saw that the impression was in favor of his client, and waving his hand with a supercilious manner, as if unwilling to insult the understanding of the jury with any further defence, he replied:
"No, sir; I leave it for your honor to charge; I rest my case here."
"Mr. District Attorney," said the Judge, "have you anything to say?" Mr. Van der School removed his spectacles, folded them and, replacing them once more on his nose, eyed the other bill which he held in his hand, and then said, looking at the bar over the top of his glasses; I shall rest the prosecution here, if the court please."
Judge Temple arose and began the charge.
"Gentlemen of the jury," he said, "you have heard the testimony, and I shall detain you but a moment. If an officer meet with resistance in the execution of a process, he has an undoubted right to call any citizen to his assistance; and the acts of such assistant come within the protection of the law. I shall leave you to judge, gentlemen, from the testimony, how far the witness in this prosecution can be so considered, feeling less reluctance to submit the case thus informally to your decision, because there is yet another indictment to be tried, which involves heavier charges against the unfortunate prisoner."
The tone of Marmaduke was mild and insinuating, and, as his sentiments were given with such apparent impartiality, they did not fail of carrying due weight with the jury. The grave-looking yeomen who composed this tribunal laid their heads together for a few minutes, without leaving the box, when the foreman arose, and, after the forms of the court were duly observed, he pronounced the prisoner to be "Not guilty."
"You are acquitted of this charge, Nathaniel Bumppo," said the Judge.
"Anan!" said Natty.
"You are found not guilty of striking and assaulting Mr. Doolittle."
"No, no, I'll not deny but that I took him a little roughly by the shoulders," said Natty, looking about him with great simplicity, "and that I-"
"You are acquitted," interrupted the Judge, "and there is nothing further to be said or done in the matter."
A look of joy lighted up the features of the old man, who now comprehended the case, and, placing his cap eagerly on his head again, he threw up the bar of his little prison, and said, feelingly:
"I must say this for you, Judge Temple, that the law has not been so hard on me as I dreaded. I hope God will bless you for the kind things you've done to me this day."
But the staff of the constable was opposed to his egress, and Mr. Lippet whispered a few words in his ear, when the aged hunter sank back into his place, and, removing his cap, stroked down the remnants of his gray and sandy locks, with an air of mortification mingled with submission.
"Mr. District Attorney," said Judge Temple, affecting to busy himself with his minutes, "proceed with the second indictment."
Mr. Van der School took great care that no part of the presentment, which he now read, should be lost on his auditors. It accused the prisoner of resisting the execution of a search-warrant, by force of arms, and particularized in the vague language of the law, among a variety of other weapons, the use of the rifle. This was indeed a more serious charge than an ordinary assault and battery, and a corresponding degree of interest was manifested by the spectators in its result. The prisoner was duly arraigned, and his plea again demanded. Mr. Lippet had anticipated the answers of Natty, and in a whisper advised him how to plead. But the feelings of the old hunter were awakened by some of the expressions in the indictment, and, forgetful of his caution, he exclaimed:
"'Tis a wicked untruth; I crave no man's blood. Them thieves, the Iroquois, won't say it to any face that I ever thirsted after man's blood, I have fou't as soldier that feared his Maker and his officer, but I never pulled trigger on any but a warrior that was up and awake. No man can say that I ever struck even a Mingo in his blanket. I believe there's some who thinks there's no God in a wilder ness!"
"Attend to your plea, Bumppo," said the Judge; "you hear that you are accused of using your rifle against an officer of justice? Are you guilty or not guilty?"
By this time the irritated feelings of Natty had found vent: and he rested on the bar for a moment, in a musing posture, when he lifted his face, with his silent laugh, and, pointing to where the wood- chopper stood, he said:
"Would Billy Kirby be standing there, d'ye think, if I had used the rifle?"
"Then you deny it," said Mr. Lippet; "you plead not guilty?"
"Sartain," said Natty; "Billy knows that I never fired at all. Billy, do you remember the turkey last winter? Ah me! that was better than common firing; but I can't shoot as I used to could."
"Enter the plea of not guilty," said Judge Temple, strongly affected by the simplicity of the prisoner.
Hiram was again sworn, and his testimony given on the second charge. He had discovered his former error, and proceeded more cautiously than before. He related very distinctly and, for the man, with amazing terseness, the suspicion against the hunter, the complaint, the issuing of the warrant, and the swearing in of Kirby; all of which, he affirmed, were done in due form of law. He then added the manner in which the constable had been received; and stated, distinctly, that Natty had pointed the rifle at Kirby, and threatened his life if he attempted to execute his duty. All this was confirmed by Jotham, who was observed to adhere closely to the story of the magistrate. Mr. Lippet conducted an artful cross-examination of these two witnesses, but, after consuming much time, was compelled to relinquish the attempt to obtain any advantage, in despair.
At length the District Attorney called the wood-chopper to the bar, Billy gave an extremely confused account of the whole affair, although he evidently aimed at the truth, until Mr. Van der School aided him, by asking some direct questions:
"It appears from examining the papers, that you demanded admission into the hut legally; so you were put in bodily fear by his rifle and threats?"
"I didn't mind them that, man," said Billy, snapping his fingers; "I should be a poor stick to mind old Leather-Stocking."
"But I understood you to say (referring to your previous words [as delivered here in court] in the commencement of your testimony) that you thought he meant to shoot you?"
"To be sure I did; and so would you, too, squire, if you had seen a chap dropping a muzzle that never misses, and cocking an eye that has a natural squint by long practice I thought there would be a dust on't, and my back was up at once; but Leather-Stocking gi'n up the skin, and so the matter ended."
"Ah! Billy," said Natty, shaking his head, "'twas a lucky thought in me to throw out the hide, or there might have been blood spilt; and I'm sure, if it had been your'n, I should have mourned it sorely the little while I have to stay."
"Well, Leather-Stocking," returned Billy, facing the prisoner with a freedom and familiarity that utterly disregarded the presence of the court, "as you are on the subject it may be that you've no-"
"Go on with your examination, Mr. District Attorney."
That gentleman eyed the familiarity between his witness and the prisoner with manifest disgust, and indicated to the court that he was done.
"Then you didn't feel frightened, Mr. Kirby?" said the counsel for the prisoner.
"Me! no," said Billy, casting his eyes oven his own huge frame with evident self-satisfaction; "I'm not to be skeared so easy."
"You look like a hardy man; where were you born, sir?"
"Varmount State; 'tis a mountaynious place, but there's a stiff soil, and it's pretty much wooded with beech and maple."
"I have always heard so," said Mr. Lippet soothingly. "You have been used to the rifle yourself in that country."
"I pull the second best trigger in this county. I knock under to Natty Bumppo, there, sin' he shot the pigeon."
Leather-Stocking raised his head, and laughed again, when he abruptly thrust out a wrinkled hand, and said:
"You're young yet, Billy, and haven't seen the matches that I have; but here's my hand; I bear no malice to you, I don't."
Mr. Lippet allowed this conciliatory offering to be accepted, and judiciously paused, while the spirit of peace was exercising its influence over the two; but the Judge interposed his authority.
"This is an improper place for such dialogues," he said; "proceed with your examination of this witness, Mr. Lippet, or I shall order the next."
The attorney started, as if unconscious of any impropriety, and continued:
"So you settled the matter with Natty amicably on the spot, did you?"
"He gi'n me the skin, and I didn't want to quarrel with an old man; for my part, I see no such mighty matter in shooting a buck!"
"And you parted friends? and you would never have thought of bringing the business up before a court, hadn't you been subpoenaed?"
"I don't think I should; he gi'n the skin, and I didn't feel a hard thought, though Squire Doolittle got some affronted."
"I have done, sir," said Mr. Lippet, probably relying on the charge of the Judge, as he again seated himself, with the air of a main who felt that his success was certain.
When Mr. Van der School arose to address the jury, he commenced by saying:
"Gentlemen of the jury, I should have interrupted the leading questions put by the prisoner's counsel (by leading questions I mean telling him what to say), did I not feel confident that the law of the land was superior to any ad vantages (I mean legal advantages) which he might obtain by his art. The counsel for the prisoner, gentlemen, has endeavored to persuade you, in opposition to your own good sense, to believe that pointing a rifle at a constable (elected or deputed) is a very innocent affair; and that society (I mean the commonwealth, gentlemen) shall not be endangered thereby. But let me claim your attention, while we look over the particulars of this heinous offence." Here Mr. Vain der School favored the jury with an abridgment of the testimony, recounted in such a manner as utterly to confuse the faculties of his worthy listeners. After this exhibition he closed as follows: "And now, gentlemen, having thus made plain to your senses the crime of which this unfortunate man has been guilty (unfortunate both on account of his ignorance and his guilt), I shall leave you to your own consciences; not in the least doubting that you will see the importance (notwithstanding the prisoner's counsel [doubtless relying on your former verdict] wishes to appear so confident of success) of punishing the offender, and asserting the dignity of the laws."
It was now the duty of the Judge to deliver his charge. It consisted of a short, comprehensive summary of the testimony, laying bare the artifice of the prisoner's counsel, and placing the facts in so obvious a light that they could not well be misunderstood. "Living as we do, gentlemen," he concluded, "on the skirts of society, it becomes doubly necessary to protect the ministers of the law. If you believe the witnesses, in their construction of the acts of the prisoner, it is your duty to convict him; but if you believe that the old man, who this day appears before you, meant not to harm the constable, but was acting more under the influence of habit than by the instigations of malice, it will be your duty to judge him, but to do it with lenity"
As before, the jury did not leave their box; but, after a consultation of some little time, their foreman arose, and pronounced the prisoner Guilty.
There was but little surprise manifested in the courtroom at this verdict, as the testimony, the greater part of which we have omitted, was too clear and direct to be passed over. The judges seemed to have anticipated this sentiment, for a consultation was passing among them also, during the deliberation of the jury, and the preparatory movements of the "bench" announced the coming sentence.
"Nathaniel Bumppo," commenced the Judge, making the customary pause.
The old hunter, who had been musing again, with his head on the bar, raised himself, and cried, with a prompt, military tone:
The Judge waved his hand for silence, and proceeded:
"In forming their sentence, the court have been governed as much by the consideration of your ignorance of the laws as by a strict sense of the importance of punishing such outrages as this of which you have been found guilty. They have therefore passed over the obvious punishment of whipping on the bare back, in mercy to your years; but, as the dignity of the law requires an open exhibition of the consequences of your crime, it is ordered that you be conveyed from this room to the public stocks, where you are to be confined for one hour; that you pay a fine to the State of one hundred dollars; and that you be imprisoned in the jail of this county for one calendar month, and, furthermore, that your imprisonment do not cease until the said fine shall be paid. I feel it my duty, Nathaniel Bumppo-"
"And where should I get the money?" interrupted the Leather-Stocking eagerly; " where should I get the money? you'll take away the bounty on the painters, because I cut the throat of a deer; and how is an old man to find so much gold or silver in the woods? No, no, Judge; think better of it, and don't talk of shutting me up in a jail for the little time I have to stay."
"If you have anything to urge against the passing of the sentence, the court will yet hear you," said the Judge, mildly.
"I have enough to say agin' it," cried Natty, grasping the bar on which his fingers were working with a convulsed motion. "Where am I to get the money? Let me out into the woods and hills, where I've been used to breathe the clear air, and though I'm threescore and ten, if you've left game enough in the country, I'll travel night and day but I'll make you up the sum afore the season is over. Yes, yes-you see the reason of the thing, and the wicked ness of shutting up an old man that has spent his days, as one may say, where he could always look into the windows of heaven."
"I must be governed by the law-"
"Talk not to me of law, Marmaduke Temple," interrupted the hunter. "Did the beast of the forest mind your laws, when it was thirsty and hungering for the blood of your own child? She was kneeling to her God for a greater favor than I ask, and he heard her; and if you now say no to my prayers, do you think he will be deaf?"
"My private feelings must not enter into-"
"Hear me, Marmaduke Temple," interrupted the old man, with melancholy earnestness, "and hear reason. I've travelled these mountains when you was no judge, but an infant in your mother's arms; and I feel as if I had a right and a privilege to travel them agin afore I die. Have you forgot the time that you come on to the lake shore, when there wasn't even a jail to lodge in: and didn't I give you my own bear-skin to sleep on, and the fat of a noble buck to satisfy the cravings of your hunger? Yes, yes-you thought it no sin then to kill a deer! And this I did, though I had no reason to love you, for you had never done anything but harm to them that loved and sheltered me. And now, will you shut me up in your dungeons to pay me for my kindness? A hundred dollars! Where should I get the money? No, no-there's them that says hard things of you, Marmaduke Temple, but you ain't so bad as to wish to see an old man die in a prison, because he stood up for the right. Come, friend, let me pass; it's long sin' I've been used to such crowds, and I crave to be in the woods agin. Don't fear me, Judge- I bid you not to fear me; for if there's beaver enough left on the streams, or the buckskins will sell for a shilling apiece, you shall have the last penny of the fine. Where are ye, pups? come away, dogs, come away! we have a grievous toil to do for our years, but it shall be done-yes, yes, I've promised it, and it shall be done!"
It is unnecessary to say that the movement of the Leather-Stocking was again intercepted by the constable; but, before he had time to speak, a bustling in the crowd, and a loud hem, drew all eyes to another part of the room.
Benjamin had succeeded in edging his way through the people, and was now seen balancing his short body, with one foot in a window and the other on a railing of the jury-box. To the amazement of the whole court, the steward was evidently preparing to speak. After a good deal of difficulty, he succeeded in drawing from his pocket a small bag, and then found utterance.
"If-so-be," he said, "that your honor is agreeable to trust the poor fellow out on another cruise among the beasts, here's a small matter that will help to bring down the risk, seeing that there's just thirty-five of your Spaniards in it; and I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that they was raal British guineas, for the sake of the old boy. But 'tis as it is; and if Squire Dickens will just be so good as to overhaul this small bit of an account, and take enough from the bag to settle the same, he's welcome to hold on upon the rest, till such time as the Leather-Stocking can grapple with them said beaver, or, for that matter, forever, and no thanks asked,"
As Benjamin concluded, he thrust out the wooden register of his arrears to the " Bold Dragoon" with one hand, while he offered his bag of dollars with the other. Astonishment at this singular interruption produced a profound stillness in the room, which was only interrupted by the sheriff, who struck his sword on the table, and cried: "Silence!"
"There must be an end to this," said the Judge, struggling to overcome his feelings. "Constable, lead the prisoner to the stocks. Mr. Clerk, what stands next on the calendar?"
Natty seemed to yield to his destiny, for he sank his head on his chest, and followed the officer from the court room in silence. The crowd moved back for the passage of the prisoner, and when his tall form was seen descending from the outer door, a rush of the people to the scene of his disgrace followed.
"Ha! ha! look! he wears cruel garters!"-Lear.
The punishments of the common law were still known, at the time of our tale, to the people of New York; and the whipping-post, and its companion, the stocks, were not yet supplanted by the more merciful expedients of the public prison. Immediately in front of the jail those relics of the older times were situated, as a lesson of precautionary justice to the evil-doers of the settlement.
Natty followed the constables to this spot, bowing his head in submission to a power that he was unable to op pose, and surrounded by the crowd that formed a circle about his person, exhibiting in their countenances strong curiosity. A constable raised the upper part of the stocks, and pointed with his finger to the holes where the old man was to place his feet. Without making the least objection to the punishment, the Leather-Stocking quietly seated himself on the ground, and suffered his limbs to be laid in the openings, without even a murmur; though he cast one glance about him, in quest of that sympathy that human nature always seems to require under suffering " but he met no direct manifestations of pity, neither did he see any unfeeling exultation, or hear a single reproachful epithet. The character of the mob, if it could be called by such a name, was that of attentive subordination.
The constable was in the act of lowering the upper plank, when Benjamin, who had pressed close to the side of the prisoner, said, in his hoarse tone, as if seeking for some cause to create a quarrel:
"Where away, master constable, is the use of clapping a man in them here bilboes? It neither stops his grog nor hurts his back; what for is it that you do the thing?"
"'Tis the sentence of the court, Mr. Penguillium, and there's law for it, I s'pose."
"Ay, ay, I know that there's law for the thing; but where away do you find the use, I say? it does no harm, and it only keeps a man by the heels for the small matter of two glasses"
"Is it no harm, Benny Pump," said Natty, raising his eyes with a piteous look in the face of the steward-" is it no harm to show off a man in his seventy-first year, like a tame bear, for the settlers to look on? Is it no harm to put an old soldier, that has served through the war of 'fifty-six, and seen the enemy in the 'seventy-six business, into a place like this, where the boys can point at him and say, I have known the time when he was a spectacle for the county? Is it no harm to bring down the pride of an honest man to be the equal of the beasts of the forest?"
Benjamin stared about him fiercely, and could he have found a single face that expressed contumely, he would have been prompt to quarrel with its owner; but meeting everywhere with looks of sobriety, and occasionally of commiseration, he very deliberately seated himself by the side of the hunter, and, placing his legs in the two vacant holes of the stocks, he said:
"Now lower away, master constable, lower away, I tell ye! If-so-be there's such a thing hereabouts, as a man that wants to see a bear, let him look and be d-d, and he shall find two of them, and mayhap one of the same that can bite as well as growl."
"But I have no orders to put you in the stocks, Mr. Pump," cried the constable; "you must get up and let me do my duty."
"You've my orders, and what do you need better to meddle with my own feet? so lower away, will ye, and let me see the man that chooses to open his mouth with a grin on it."
"There can't be any harm in locking up a creatur' that will enter the pound," said the constable, laughing, and closing the stocks on them both.
It was fortunate that this act was executed with decision, for the whole of the spectators, when they saw Benjamin assume the position he took, felt an inclination for merriment, which few thought it worth while to suppress. The steward struggled violently for his liberty again, with an evident intention of making battle on those who stood nearest to him; but the key was already turned, and all his efforts were vain.
"Hark ye, master constable," he cried, "just clear away your bilboes for the small matter of a log-glass, will ye, and let me show some of them there chaps who it is they are so merry about"
"No, no, you would go in, and you can't come out," returned the officer, "until the time has expired that the Judge directed for the keeping of the prisoner."
Benjamin, finding that his threats and his struggles were useless, had good sense enough to learn patience from the resigned manner of his companion, and soon settled himself down by the side of Natty, with a contemptuousness expressed in his hard features, that showed he had substituted disgust for rage. When the violence of the steward's feelings had in some measure subsided, he turned to his fellow- sufferer, and, with a motive that might have vindicated a worse effusion, he attempted the charitable office of consolation,
"Taking it by and large, Master Bump-ho, it's but a small matter after all," he said. "Now, I've known very good sort of men, aboard of the Boadishey, laid by the heels, for nothing, mayhap, but forgetting that they'd drunk their allowance already, when a glass of grog has come in their way. This is nothing more than riding with two anchors ahead, waiting for a turn in the tide, or a shift of wind, d'ye see, with a soft bottom and plenty of room for the sweep of your hawse. Now I've seen many a man, for over-shooting his reckoning, as I told ye moored head and starn, where he couldn't so much as heave his broadside round, and mayhap a stopper clapped on his tongue too, in the shape of a pump-bolt lashed athwartship his jaws, all the same as an outrigger along side of a taffrel-rail."
The hunter appeared to appreciate the kind intentions of the other, though he could not understand his eloquence, and, raising his humbled countenance, he attempted a smile, as he said:
"'Tis nothing, I say, but a small matter of a squall that will soon blow over," continued Benjamin. " To you that has such a length of keel, it must be all the same as nothing; thof, seeing that I am little short in my lower timbers, they've triced my heels up in such a way as to give me a bit of a cant. But what cares I, Master Bump-ho, if the ship strains a little at her anchor? it's only for a dog-watch, and dam'me but she'll sail with you then on that cruise after them said beaver. I'm not much used to small arms, seeing that I was stationed at the ammunition- boxes, being summat too low-rigged to see over the ham- mock-cloths; but I can carry the game, dye see, and mayhap make out to lend a hand with the traps; and if- so-be you're any way so handy with them as ye be with your boat-hook, 'twill be but a short cruise after all, I've squared the yards with Squire Dickens this morning, and I shall send him word that he needn't bear my name on the books again till such time as the cruise is over."
"You're used to dwell with men, Benny," said Leather-Stocking, mournfully, " and the ways of the woods would be hard on you, if--"
"Not a bit-not a bit," cried the steward; "I'm none of your fair- weather chaps, Master Bump-ho, as sails only in smooth water. When I find a friend, I sticks by him, dye see. Now, there's no better man a-going than Squire Dickens, and I love him about the same as I loves Mistress Hollister's new keg of Jamaiky." The steward paused, and turning his uncouth visage on the hunter, he surveyed him with a roguish leer of his eye, and gradually suffered the muscles of his hard features to relax, until his face was illuminated by the display of his white teeth, when he " dropped his voice, and added; "I say, Master Leather-
Stocking, 'tis fresher and livelier than any Hollands you'll get in Garnsey. But we'll send a hand over and ask the woman for a taste, for I'm so jammed in these here bilboes that I begin to want summat to lighten my upper works."
Natty sighed, and gazed about him on the crowd, that already began to disperse, and which had now diminished greatly, as its members scattered in their various pursuits. He looked wistfully at Benjamin, but did not reply; a deeply-seated anxiety seeming to absorb every other sensation, and to throw a melancholy gloom over his wrinkled features, which were working with the movements of his mind.
The steward was about to act on the old principle, that silence gives consent, when Hiram Doolittle, attended by Jotham, stalked out of the crowd, across the open space, and approached the stocks. The magistrate passed by the end where Benjamin was seated, and posted himself, at a safe distance from the steward, in front of the Leather- Stocking. Hiram stood, for a moment, cowering before the keen looks that Natty fastened on him, and suffering under an embarrassment that was quite new; when having in some degree recovered himself, he looked at the heavens, and then at the smoky atmosphere, as if it were only an ordinary meeting with a friend, and said in his formal, hesitating way:
"Quite a scurcity of rain, lately; I some think we shall have a long drought on't."
Benjamin was occupied in untying his bag of dollars, and did not observe the approach of the magistrate, while Natty turned his face, in which every muscle was working, away from him in disgust, without answering. Rather encouraged than daunted by this exhibition of dislike, Hiram, after a short pause, continued:
"The clouds look as if they'd no water in them, and the earth is dreadfully parched. To my judgment, there'll be short crops this season, if the rain doesn't fail quite speedily."
The air with which Mr. Doolittle delivered this prophetical opinion was peculiar to his species. It was a jesuitical, cold, unfeeling, and selfish manner, that seemed to say, "I have kept within the law," to the man he had so cruelly injured. It quite overcame the restraint that the old hunter had been laboring to impose on himself, and he burst out in a warm glow of indignation.
"Why should the rain fall from the clouds," he cried, "when you force the tears from the eyes of the old, the sick, and the poor! Away with ye-away with ye! you may be formed in the image of the Maker, but Satan dwells in your heart. Away with ye, I say! I am mournful, and the sight of ye brings bitter thoughts."
Benjamin ceased thumbing his money, and raised his head at the instant that Hiram, who was thrown off his guard by the invectives of the hunter, unluckily trusted his person within reach of the steward, who grasped one of his legs with a hand that had the grip of a vise, and whirled the magistrate from his feet, before he had either time to collect his senses or to exercise the strength he did really possess. Benjamin wanted neither proportions nor manhood in his head, shoulders, and arms, though all the rest of his frame appeared to be originally intended for a very different sort of a man. He exerted his physical powers on the present occasion, with much discretion; and, as he had taken his antagonist at a great disadvantage, the struggle resulted very soon in Benjamin getting the magistrate fixed in a posture somewhat similar to his own, and manfully placed face to face.
"You're a ship's cousin, I tell ye, Master Doo-but-little," roared the steward; "some such matter as a ship's cousin, sir. I know you, I do, with your fair-weather speeches to Squire Dickens, to his face, and then you go and sarve out your grumbling to all the old women in the town, do ye? Ain't it enough for any Christian, let him harbor never so much malice, to get an honest old fellow laid by the heels in this fashion, without carrying sail so hard on the poor dog, as if you would run him down as he lay at his anchors? But I've logged many a hard thing against your name, master, and now the time's come to foot up the day's work, d'ye see; so square yourself, you lubber, square yourself, and we'll soon know who's the better man."
"Jotham!" cried the frightened magistrate-" Jotham! call in the constables. Mr. Penguillium, I command the peace-I order you to keep the peace."
"There's been more peace than love atwixt us, master," cried the steward, making some very unequivocal demonstrations toward hostility; "so mind yourself! square your self, I say! do you smell this here bit of a sledge-hammer?"
"Lay hands on me if you dare!" exclaimed Hiram, as well as he could, under the grasp which the steward held on his throttle-" lay hands on me if you dare!"
"If you call this laying, master, you are welcome to the eggs," roared the steward.
It becomes our disagreeable duty to record here, that the acts of Benjamin now became violent; for he darted his sledge-hammer violently on the anvil of Mr. Doolittle's countenance, and the place became in an instant a scene of tumult and confusion. The crowd rushed in a dense circle around the spot, while some ran to the court room to give the alarm, and one or two of the more juvenile part of the multitude had a desperate trial of speed to see who should be the happy man to communicate the critical situation of the magistrate to his wife.
Benjamin worked away, with great industry and a good deal of skill, at his occupation, using one hand to raise up his antagonist, while he knocked him over with the other; for he would have been disgraced in his own estimation, had he struck a blow on a fallen adversary. By this considerate arrangement he had found means to hammer the visage of Hiram out of all shape, by the time Richard succeeded in forcing his way through the throng to the point of combat. The sheriff afterward declared that, independently of his mortification as preserver of the peace of the county, at this interruption to its harmony, he was never so grieved in his life as when he saw this breach of unity between his favorites. Hiram had in some degree become necessary to his vanity, and Benjamin, strange as it may appear, he really loved. This attachment was exhibited in the first words that he uttered.
"Squire Doolittle! Squire Doolittle! I am ashamed to see a man of your character and office forget himself so much as to disturb the peace, insult the court, and beat poor Benjamin in this manner!"
At the sound of Mr. Jones' voice, the steward ceased his employment, and Hiram had an opportunity of raising his discomfited visage toward the mediator. Emboldened by the sight of the sheriff, Mr. Doolittle again had recourse to his lungs.
"I'll have law on you for this," he cried desperately; "I'll have the law on you for this. I call on you, Mr. Sheriff, to seize this man, and I demand that you take his body into custody."
By this time Richard was master of the true state of the case, and, turning to the steward, he said reproach fully:
"Benjamin, how came you in the stocks? I always thought you were mild and docile as a lamb. It was for your docility that I most esteemed you. Benjamin! Benjamin! you have not only disgraced yourself, but your friends, by this shameless conduct, Bless me! bless me! Mr. Doolittle, he seems to have knocked your face all of one side."
Hiram by this time had got on his feet again, and with out the reach of the steward, when he broke forth in violent appeals for vengeance. The offence was too apparent to be passed over, and the sheriff, mindful of the impartiality exhibited by his cousin in the recent trial of the Leather-Stocking, came to the painful conclusion that it was necessary to commit his major-domo to prison. As the time of Natty's punishment was expired, and Benjamin found that they were to be confined, for that night at least, in the same apartment, he made no very strong objection to the measure, nor spoke of bail, though, as the sheriff preceded the party of constables that conducted them to the jail, he uttered the following remonstrance:
"As to being berthed with Master Bump-ho for a night or so, it's but little I think of it, Squire Dickens, seeing that I calls him an honest man, and one as has a handy way with boat-hooks and rifles; but as for owning that a man desarves anything worse than a double allowance, for knocking that carpenters face a-one-side, as you call it, I'll maintain it's agin' reason and Christianity. If there's a bloodsucker in this 'ere county, it's that very chap. Ay! I know him! and if he hasn't got all the same as dead wood in his headworks, he knows summat of me. Where's the mighty harm, squire, that you take it so much to heart? It's all the same as any other battle, d'ye see sir, being broadside to broadside, only that it was foot at anchor, which was what we did in Port Pray a roads, when Suff'ring came in among us; and a suff'ring time he had of it before he got out again."
Richard thought it unworthy of him to make any reply to this speech, but when his prisoners were safely lodged in an outer dungeon, ordering the bolts to be drawn and the key turned, he withdrew.
Benjamin held frequent and friendly dialogues with different people, through the iron gratings, during the afternoon; but his companion paced their narrow' limits, in his moccasins, with quick, impatient treads, his face hanging on his breast in dejection, or when lifted, at moments, to the idlers at the window, lighted, perhaps, for an instant, with the childish aspect of aged forgetfulness, which would vanish directly in an expression of deep and obvious anxiety.
At the close of the day, Edwards was seen at the window, in earnest dialogue with his friend; and after he de parted it was thought that he had communicated words of comfort to the hunter, who threw himself on his pallet and was soon in a deep sleep. The curious spectators had exhausted the conversation of the steward, who had drunk good fellowship with half of his acquaintance, and, as Natty was no longer in motion, by eight o'clock, Billy Kirby, who was the last lounger at the window, retired into the "Templeton Coffee-house," when Natty rose and hung a blanket before the opening, and the prisoners apparently retired for the night.
"And to avoid the foe's pursuit, With spurring put their cattle to't; And till all four were out of wind, And danger too, neer looked behind."-Hudibras.
As the shades of evening approached, the jurors, wit nesses, and other attendants on the court began to disperse, and before nine o'clock the village was quiet, and its streets nearly deserted. At that hour Judge Temple and his daughter, followed at a short distance by Louisa Grant, walked slowly down the avenue, under the slight shadows of the young poplars, holding the following discourse:
"You can best soothe his wounded spirit, my child," said Marmaduke; "but it will be dangerous to touch on the nature of his offence; the sanctity of the laws must be respected."
"Surely, sir," cried the impatient Elizabeth, "those laws that condemn a man like the Leather-Stocking to so severe a punishment, for an offence that even I must think very venial, cannot be perfect in themselves."
"Thou talkest of what thou dost not understand, Elizabeth," returned her father. "Society cannot exist without wholesome restraints. Those restraints cannot be inflicted without security and respect to the persons of those who administer them; and it would sound ill indeed to report that a judge had extended favor to a convicted criminal, because he had saved the life of his child."
"I see-I see the difficulty of your situation, dear sir," cried the daughter; "but, in appreciating the offence of poor Natty, I cannot separate the minister of the law from the man."
"There thou talkest as a woman, child; it is not for an assault on Hiram Doolittle, but for threatening the life of a constable, who was in the performance of-"
"It is immaterial whether it be one or the other," interrupted Miss Temple, with a logic that contained more feeling than reason; "I know Natty to be innocent, and thinking so I must think all wrong who oppress him."
"His judge among the number! thy father, Elizabeth?"
"Nay, nay, nay; do not put such questions to me; give me my commission, father, and let me proceed to execute it."
The Judge paused a moment, smiling fondly on his child, and then dropped his hand affectionately on her shoulder, as he answered:
"Thou hast reason, Bess, and much of it, too, but thy heart lies too near thy head, But listen; in this pocketbook are two hundred dollars. Go to the prison-there are none in this pace to harm thee-give this note to the jailer, and, when thou seest Bumppo, say what thou wilt to the poor old man; give scope to the feeling of thy warm heart; but try to remember, Elizabeth, that the laws alone remove us from the condition of the savages; that he has been criminal, and that his judge was thy father."
Miss Temple made no reply, but she pressed the hand that held the pocket-book to her bosom, and, taking her friend by the arm, they issued together from the inclosure into the principal street of the village.
As they pursued their walk in silence, under the row of houses, where the deeper gloom of the evening effectually concealed their persons, no sound reached them, excepting the slow tread of a yoke of oxen, with the rattling of j a cart, that were moving along the street in the same direction with themselves, The figure of the teamster was just discernible by the dim light, lounging by the side of his cattle with a listless air, as if fatigued by the toil of the day. At the corner, where the jail stood, the progress of the ladies was impeded, for a moment, by the oxen, who were turned up to the side of the building, and given a lock of hay, which they had carried on their necks, as a reward for their patient labor, The whole of this was so natural, and so common, that Elizabeth saw nothing to induce a second glance at the team, until she heard the teamster speaking to his cattle in a low voice:
"Mind yourself, Brindle; will you, sir! will you!" The language itself was so unusual to oxen, with which all who dwell in a new country are familiar; but there was something in the voice, also, that startled Miss Temple On turning the corner, she necessarily approached the man, and her look was enabled to detect the person of Oliver Edwards, concealed under the coarse garb of a teamster. Their eyes met at the same instant, and, not- t withstanding the gloom, and the enveloping cloak of Elizabeth, the recognition was mutual.
"Miss Temple!" "Mr. Edwards!" were exclaimed simultaneously, though a feeling that seemed common to both rendered the words nearly inaudible.
"Is it possible!" exclaimed Edwards, after the moment of doubt had passed; "do I see you so nigh the jail! but you are going to the rectory: I beg pardon, Miss Grant, I believe; I did not recognize you at first."
The sigh which Louisa tittered was so faint, that it was only heard by Elizabeth, who replied quickly, "We are going not only to the jail, Mr. Edwards' but into it. We wish to show the Leather-Stocking that we do not forget his services, and that at the same time we must be just, we are also grateful. I suppose you are on a similar errand; but let me beg that you will give us leave to precede you ten minutes. Good-night, sir; I- I-am quite sorry, Mr. Edwards, to see you reduced to such labor; I am sure my father would-"
"I shall wait your pleasure, madam," interrupted the youth coldly. "May I beg that you will not mention my being here?"
"Certainly," said Elizabeth, returning his bow by a slight inclination of her head, and urging the tardy Louisa forward. As they entered the jailer's house, however, Miss Grant found leisure to whisper:
"Would it not be well to offer part of your money to Oliver? half of it will pay the fine of Bumppo; and he is so unused to hardships! I am sure my father will subscribe much of his little pittance, to place him in a station that is more worthy of him."
The involuntary smile that passed over the features of Elizabeth was blended with an expression of deep and heartfelt pity. She did not reply, however, and the appearance of the jailer soon recalled the thoughts of both to the object of their visit.
The rescue of the ladies, and their consequent interest in his prisoner, together with the informal manners that prevailed in the country, all united to prevent any surprise on the part of the jailer, at their request for admission to Bumppo. The note of Judge Temple, however, would have silenced all objections, if he had felt them and he led the way without hesitation to the apartment that held the prisoners. The instant the key was put into the lock, the hoarse voice of Benjamin was heard, demanding:
"Yo hoy! who comes there?"
"Some visitors that you'll be glad to see," returned the jailer. "What have you done to the lock, that it won't turn"
"Handsomely, handsomely, master," cried the steward: "I have just drove a nail into a berth alongside of this here bolt, as a stopper, d'ye see, so that Master Doo-but little can't be running in and breezing up another fight atwixt us: for, to my account, there'll be but a han-yan with me soon, seeing that they'll mulct me of my Spaniards, all the same as if I'd over-flogged the lubber. Throw your ship into the wind, and lay by for a small matter, will ye? and I'll soon clear a passage."
The sounds of hammering gave an assurance that the steward was in earnest, and in a short time the lock yielded, when the door was opened.
Benjamin had evidently been anticipating the seizure of his money, for he had made frequent demands on the favorite cask at the "Bold Dragoon," during the afternoon and evening, and was now in that state which by marine imagery is called "half-seas-over." It was no easy thing to destroy the balance of the old tar by the effects of liquor, for, as he expressed it himself, "he was too low-rigged not to carry sail in all weathers;" but he was precisely in that condition which is so expressively termed "muddy." When he perceived who the visitors were, he retreated to the side of the room where his pallet lay, and, regardless of the presence of his young mistress, seated himself on it with an air of great sobriety, placing his back firmly against the wall.
"If you undertake to spoil my locks in this manner, Mr. Pump," said the jailer, "I shall put a stopper, as you call it, on your legs, and tie you down to your bed."
"What for should ye, master?" grumbled Benjamin; "I've rode out one squall to-day anchored by the heels, and I wants no more of them. Where's the harm o' doing all the same as yourself? Leave that there door free out board, and you'll find no locking inboard, I'll promise ye."
"I must shut up for the night at nine," said the jailer, "and it's now forty-two minutes past eight." He placed the little candle on a rough pine table, and withdrew.
"Leather-Stocking!" said Elizabeth, when the key of the door was turned on them again, "my good friend, Leather-Stocking! I have come on a message of gratitude. Had you submitted to the search, worthy old man, the death of the deer would have been a trifle, and all would have been well---"
"Submit to the sarch!" interrupted Natty, raising his face from resting on his knees, without rising from the corner where he had seated himself; "d'ye think gal, I would let such a varmint into my hut? No, no-I wouldn't have opened the door to your own sweet countenance then. But they are welcome to search among the coals and ashes now; they'll find only some such heap as is to be seen at every pot-ashery in the mountains."
The old man dropped his face again on one hand, and seemed to be lost in melancholy.
"The hut can be rebuilt, and made better than before," returned Miss Temple;" and it shall be my office to see it done, when your imprisonment is ended."
Can ye raise the dead, child?" said Natty, in a sorrowful voice: "can ye go into the place where you've laid your fathers, and mothers, and children, and gather together their ashes, and make the same men and women of them as afore? You do not know what 'tis to lay your head for more than forty years under the cover of the same logs, and to look at the same things for the better part of I a man's life. You are young yet, child, but you are one of the most precious of God's creatures. I had hoped for ye that it might come to pass, but it's all over now; this, put to that, will drive the thing quite out of his mind for ever."
Miss Temple must have understood the meaning of the old man better than the other listeners; for while Louisa stood innocently by her side, commiserating the griefs of the hunter, she bent her head aside, so as to conceal her features. The action and the feeling that caused it lasted but a moment.
"Other logs, and better, though, can be had, and shall be found for you, my old defender," she continued. "Your confinement will soon be over, and, before that time arrives, I shall have a house prepared for you, where I you may spend the close of your long and harmless life in ease and plenty."
"Ease and plenty! house!" repeated Natty, slowly. "You mean well, you mean well, and I quite mourn that it cannot be; but he has seen me a sight and a laughing-stock for-"
"Damn your stocks," said Benjamin, flourishing his bottle with one hand, from which he had been taking hasty and repeated draughts, while he made gestures of disdain with the other: "who cares for his bilboes? There's a leg that been stuck up on end like a jibboom for an hour. d'ye see, and what's it the worse for't, ha? canst tell me, what's it the worser, ha?"
"I believe you forget, Mr. Pump, in whose presence you are," said Elizabeth.
"Forget you, Miss Lizzy?" returned the steward; "if I do, dam'me; you are not to be forgot, like Goody Pretty-bones, up at the big house there. I say, old sharpshooter, she may have pretty bones, but I can't say so much for her flesh, d'ye see, for she looks somewhat like anatomy with another man's jacket on. Now for the skin of her face, it's all the same as a new topsail with a taut bolt-rope, being snug at the leeches, but all in a bight about the inner cloths,"
"Peace-I command you to be silent, sir!" said Elizabeth.
"Ay, ay, ma'am," returned the steward. "You didn't say I shouldn't drink, though."
"We will not speak of what is to become of others," said Miss Temple, turning again to the hunter-" but of your own fortunes, Natty. It shall be my care to see that you pass the rest of your days in ease and plenty."
"Ease and plenty!" again repeated the Leather-Stocking; "what ease can there be to an old man, who must walk a mile across the open fields, before he can find a shade to hide him from a scorching sun! or what plenty is there where you hunt a day, and not start a buck, or see anything bigger than a mink, or maybe a stray fox! Ah! I shall have a hard time after them very beavers, for this fine. I must go low toward the Pennsylvania line in search of the creatures, maybe a hundred mile; for they are not to be got here-away. No, no-your betterments and clearings have druv the knowing things out of the country, and instead of beaver-dams, which is the nater of the animal, and according to Providence, you turn back the waters over the low grounds with your mill-dams, as if 'twas in man to stay the drops from going where He wills them to go-Benny, unless you stop your hand from going so often to your mouth, you won't be ready to start when the time comes.
"Hark'ee, Master Bump-ho," said the steward; "don't you fear for Ben, When the watch is called, set me of my legs and give me the bearings and the distance of where you want me to steer, and I'll carry sail with the best of you, I will."
"The time has come now," said the hunter, listening; "I hear the horns of the oxen rubbing agin' the side of the jail."
"Well, say the word, and then heave ahead, shipmate," said Benjamin.
"You won't betray us, gal?" said Natty, looking simply into the face of Elizabeth-" you won't betray an old man, who craves to breathe the clear air of heaven? I mean no harm; and if the law says that I must pay the hundred dollars, I'll take the season through, but it shall be forthcoming; and this good man will help me."
"You catch them," said Benjamin, with a sweeping gesture of his arm, "and if they get away again, call me a slink, that's all."
"But what mean you?" cried thc wondering Elizabeth. " Here you must stay for thirty days; but I have the money for your fine in this purse. Take it; pay it in the morning, and summon patience for your mouth. I will come often to see you, with my friend; we will make up your clothes with our own hands; indeed, indeed, you shall be comfortable."
"Would ye, children?" said Natty, advancing across the floor with an air of kindness, and taking the hand of Elizabeth, "would ye be so kearful of an old man, and just for shooting a beast which cost him nothing? Such things doesn't run in the blood, I believe, for you seem not to forget a favor. Your little fingers couldn't do much on a buckskin, nor be you used to push such a thread as sinews. But if he hasn't got past hearing, he shalt hear it and know it, that he may see, like me, there is some who know how to remember a kindness,"
"Tell him nothing," cried Elizabeth, earnestly; "if you love me, if you regard my feelings, tell him nothing. It is of yourself only I would talk, and for yourself only I act. I grieve, Leather-Stocking, that the law requires that you should be detained here so long; but, after all, it will be only a short month, and--"
"A month?" exclaimed Natty, opening his mouth with his usual laugh, "not a day, nor a night, nor an hour, gal. Judge Temple may sintence, but he can't keep without a better dungeon than this. I was taken once by the French, and they put sixty-two of us in a block-house, nigh hand to old Frontinac; but 'twas easy to cut through a pine log to them that was used to timber." The hunter paused, and looked cautiously around the room, when, laughing again, he shoved the steward gently from his post, and removing the bedclothes, discovered a hole recently cut in the logs with a mallet and chisel. "It's only a kick, and the outside piece is off, and then-"
"Off! ay, off!" cried Benjamin, rising from his stupor; "well, here's off. Ay! ay! you catch 'em, and I'll hold on to them said beaver- hats,"
"I fear this lad will trouble me much," said Natty; "'twill be a hard pull for the mountain, should they take the scent soon, and he is not in a state of mind to run."
"Run!" echoed the steward; "no, sheer alongside, and let's have a fight of it."
"Peace!" ordered Elizabeth.
"Ay, ay, ma'am."
"You will not leave us, surely, Leather-Stocking," continued Miss Temple; "I beseech you, reflect that you will be driven to the woods entirely, and that you are fast getting old. Be patient for a little time, when you can go abroad openly, and with honor."
"Is there beaver to be catched here, gal?"
"If not, here is money to discharge the fine, and in a month you are free. See, here it is in gold."
"Gold!" said Natty, with a kind of childish curiosity; "it's long sin' I've seen a gold-piece. We used to get the broad joes, in the old war, as plenty as the bears be now. I remember there was a man in Dieskau's army, that was killed, who had a dozen of the shining things sewed up in his shirt. I didn't handle them myself, but I seen them cut out with my own eyes; they was bigger and brighter than them be."
"These are English guineas, and are yours," said Elizabeth; "an earnest of what shall be done for you."
"Me! why should you give me this treasure!" said Natty, looking earnestly at the maiden.
"Why! have you not saved my life? Did you not rescue me from the jaws of the beast?" exclaimed Elizabeth, veiling her eyes, as if to hide some hideous object from her view.
The hunter took the money, and continued turning it in his hand for some time, piece by piece, talking aloud during the operation.
"There's a rifle, they say, out on the Cherry Valley, that will carry a hundred rods and kill. I've seen good guns in my day, but none quite equal to that. A hundred rods with any sartainty is great shooting! Well, well- I'm old, and the gun I have will answer my time. Here, child, take back your gold. But the hour has come; I hear him talking to the cattle, and I must be going. You won't tell of us, gal-you won't tell of us, will ye?"
"Tell of you!" echoed Elizabeth. "But take the money, old man; take the money, even if you go into the mountains."
"No, no," said Natty, shaking his head kindly; "I would not rob you so for twenty rifles. But there's one thing you can do for me, if ye will, that no other is at hand to do.
"Name it-name it."
"Why, it's only to buy a canister of powder-'twill cost two silver dollars. Benny Pump has the money ready, but we daren't come into the town to get it. Nobody has it but the Frenchman. 'Tis of the best, and just suits a rifle. Will you get it for me, gal?-say, will you get it for me?"
"Will I? I will bring it to you, Leather-Stocking, though I toil a day in quest of you through the woods. But where shall I find you, and how?"
"Where?" said Natty, musing a moment-" to-morrow on the Vision; on the very top of the Vision, I'll meet you, child, just as the sun gets over our heads. See that it's the fine grain; you'll know it by the gloss and the price."
"I will do it," said Elizabeth, firmly.
Natty now seated himself, and placing his feet in the hole, with a slight effort he opened a passage through into the street. The ladies heard the rustling of hay, and well understood the reason why Edwards was in the capacity of a teamster.
"Come, Benny," said the hunter: "'twill be no darker to-night, for the moon will rise in an hour."
"Stay!" exclaimed Elizabeth; "it should not be said that you escaped in the presence of the daughter of Judge Temple. Return, Leather- Stocking, and let us retire be fore you execute your plan."
Natty was about to reply, when the approaching footsteps of the jailer announced the necessity of his immediate return. He had barely time to regain his feet, and to conceal the hole with the bedclothes, across which Benjamin very opportunely fell, before the key was turned, and the door of the apartment opened.
"Isn't Miss Temple ready to go?" said the civil jailer; " it's the usual hour for locking up."
"I follow you, sir," returned Elizabeth "good-night, Leather- Stocking."
"It's a fine grain, gal, and I think twill carry lead further than common. I am getting old, and can't follow up the game with the step I used to could,"
Miss Temple waved her hand for silence, and preceded Louisa and the keeper from the apartment. The man turned the key once, and observed that he would return and secure his prisoners, when he had lighted the ladies to the street. Accordingly they parted at the door of the building, when the jailer retired to his dungeons, and the ladies walked, with throbbing hearts, toward the corner.
"Now the Leather-Stocking refuses the money," whispered Louisa, "it can all be given to Mr. Edwards, and that added to-"
"Listen!" said Elizabeth; " I hear the rustling of the hay; they are escaping at this moment. Oh! they will be detected instantly!"
By this time they were at the corner, where Edwards and Natty were in the act of drawing the almost helpless body of Benjamin through the aperture. The oxen had started back from their hay, and were standing with their heads down the street, leaving room for the party to act in.
"Throw the hay into the cart," said Edwards, "or they will suspect how it has been done. Quick, that they may not see it."
Natty had just returned from executing this order, when the light of the keeper's candle shone through the hole, and instantly his voice was heard in the jail exclaiming for his prisoners.
"What is to be done now?" said Edwards; "this drunken fellow will cause our detection, and we have not a moment to spare."
"Who's drunk, ye lubber?" muttered the steward.
"A break-jail! a break-jail!" shouted five or six voices from within.
"We must leave him," said Edwards.
"'Twouldn't be kind, lad," returned Natty; "he took half the disgrace of the stocks on himself to-day, and the creatur' has feeling."
At this moment two or three men were heard issuing from the door of the "Bold Dragoon," and among them the voice of Billy Kirby.
"There's no moon yet," cried the wood-chopper; "but it's a clear night. Come, who's for home? Hark! what a rumpus they're kicking up in the jail-here's go and see what it's about."
"We shall be lost," said Edwards, "if we don't drop this man."
At that instant Elizabeth moved close to him, and said rapidly, in a low voice:
"Lay him in the cart, and start the oxen; no one will look there."
"There's a woman's quickness in the thought," said the youth.
The proposition was no sooner made than executed. The steward was seated on the hay, and enjoined to hold his peace and apply the goad that was placed in his hand, while the oxen were urged on. So soon as this arrangement was completed, Edwards and the hunter stole along the houses for a short distance, when they disappeared through an opening that led into the rear of the buildings.
The oxen were in brisk motion, and presently the cries of pursuit were heard in the street. The ladies quickened their pace, with a wish to escape the crowd of constables and idlers that were approaching, some execrating, and some laughing at the exploit of the prisoners. In the confusion, the voice of Kirby was plainly distinguishable above all the others, shouting and swearing that he would have the fugitives, threatening to bring back Natty in one pocket, and Benjamin in the other.
"Spread yourselves, men," he cried, as he passed the ladies, his heavy feet sounding along the street like the tread of a dozen; "spread yourselves; to the mountains; they'll be in the mountains in a quarter of an hour, and then look out for a long rifle."
His cries were echoed from twenty mouths, for not only the jail but the taverns had sent forth their numbers, some earnest in the pursuit, and others joining it as in sport.
As Elizabeth turned in at her father's gate she saw the wood-chopper stop at the cart, when she gave Benjamin up for lost. While they were hurrying up the walk, two figures, stealing cautiously but quickly under the shades of the trees, met the eyes of the ladies, and in a moment Edwards and the hunter crossed their path.
"Miss Temple, I may never see you again," exclaimed the youth; "let me thank you for all your kindness; you do not, cannot know my motives."
"Fly! fly!" cried Elizabeth; "the village is alarmed. Do not be found conversing with me at such a moment, and in these grounds."
"Nay, I must speak, though detection were certain,"
"Your retreat to the bridge is already cut off; before you can gain the wood your pursuers will be there. If-"
"If what?" cried the youth. "Your advice has saved me once already; I will follow it to death."
"The street is now silent and vacant," said Elizabeth, after a pause; "cross it, and you will find my father's boat in the lake. It would be easy to land from it where you please in the hills."
"But Judge Temple might complain of the trespass."
"His daughter shall be accountable, sir."
The youth uttered something in a low voice, that was heard only by Elizabeth, and turned to execute what she had suggested. As they were separating, Natty approached the females, and said:
"You'll remember the canister of powder, children. Them beavers must be had, and I and the pups be getting old; we want the best of ammunition."
"Come, Natty," said Edwards, impatiently.
"Coming, lad, coming. God bless you, young ones, both of ye, for ye mean well and kindly to the old man."
The ladies paused until they had lost sight of the retreating figures, when they immediately entered the mansion-house.
While this scene was passing in the walk, Kirby had overtaken the cart, which was his own, and had been driven by Edwards, without asking the owner, from the place where the patient oxen usually stood at evening, waiting the pleasure of their master.
"Woa-come hither, Golden," he cried; "why, how come you off the end of the bridge, where I left you, dummies?"
"Heave ahead," muttered Benjamin, giving a random blow with his lash, that alighted on the shoulder of the other.
"Who the devil be you?" cried Billy, turning round in surprise, but unable to distinguish, in the dark, the hard visage that was just peering over the cart-rails.
"Who be I? why, I'm helmsman aboard of this here craft d'ye see, and a straight wake I'm making of it. Ay, ay! I've got the bridge right ahead, and the bilboes dead aft: I calls that good steerage, boy. Heave ahead."
"Lay your lash in the right spot, Mr. Benny Pump," said the wood- chopper, "or I'll put you in the palm of my hand and box your ears. Where be you going with my team?"
"Ay. my cart and oxen,"
"Why, you must know, Master Kirby, that the Leather-Stocking and I- that's Benny Pump-you knows Ben?- well, Benny and I-no, me and Benny; dam'me if I know how 'tis; but some of us are bound after a cargo of beaver-skins, d'ye see, so we've pressed the cart to ship them 'ome in. I say, Master Kirby, what a lubberly oar you pull-you handle an oar, boy, pretty much as a cow would a musket, or a lady would a marling-spike."
Billy had discovered the state of the steward's mind, and he walked for some time alongside of the cart, musing with himself, when he took the goad from Benjamin (who fell back on the hay and was soon asleep) and drove his cattle down the street, over the bridge, and up the mountain, toward a clearing in which he was to work the next day, without any other interruption than a few hasty questions from parties of the constables.
Elizabeth stood for an hour at the window of her room, and saw the torches of the pursuers gliding along the side of the mountain, and heard their shouts and alarms; but, at the end of that time, the last party returned, wearied and disappointed, and the village became as still as when she issued from the gate on her mission to the jail.