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Reviving Hope and Faith, they show
The soul its living powers,
Lie germs of summer flowers !
4. The Night is Mother of the Day,
The Winter of the Spring,
The greenest mosses cling.
Through showers the sunbeams fall;
Has left His Hope with all !
1. On my return from the Upper Mississippi, I found myself obliged to cross one of the wide prairies which, in that portion of the United States, vary the appearance of the country. The weather was fine ; all around was as fresh and blooming as if it had just issued from the bosom of nature. My knapsack, my gun, and my dog, were all I had for baggage and company. But although well moccasined, I moved slowly along, attracted by the brilliancy of the flowers, and the gambols of the fawns around their dams, to all appearance as thoughtless of danger as I felt myself.
2. My march was of long duration ; I saw the sun sinking beneath the horizon long before I could perceive any appearance of woodland, and nothing in the shape of man had I met with that day. The track which I followed was only an Indian track, and as the darkness overshadowed the prairie, 1 felt some desire to reach, at last, a spot in which I might lie down to rest. The night-hawks were skimming over and around me, attracted by the buzzing wings of the beetles, which form their food; and the distant howling of wolves gave me some hope that I should soon arrive at the skirts of some woodland. I did so, and almost at the same instant a fire-light attracted my eye ; I moved towards it, full of confidence that it proceeded from the camp of some wandering Indians. I was mistaken ; I discovered it was from the hearth of a small log cabin, and that a tall figure passed and repassed between it and me, as if busily engaged in household arrangements.
3. I reached the spot, and presenting myself at the door, asked the tall figure, which proved to be a woman, if I might take shelter under her roof for the night. Her voice was rough, and her attire negligently thrown about her. She answered in the affirmative. I walked in, took a wooden stool, and quietly seated myself by the fire. The next object that attracted my attention was a finely-formed young Indian, resting his head between his hands, with his elbows on his knees. A long bow rested against the log wall near him, while a quantity of arrows and two or three raccoon skins lay at his feet.
4. He moved not; he apparently breathed not. Accustomed to the habits of Indians, and knowing that they pay but little attention to the approach of civilized strangers, circumstance which in some countries is considered as evincing the apathy of their character, - I addressed him in French, a language not unfrequently partially known to the people of that neighborhood. He raised his head, pointed to one of his eyes with his finger, and gave me a significant glance with the other. His face was covered with blood. The fact was, that an hour before this, he was in the act of discharging an arrow at a raccoon in the top of a tree; the arrow had split upon the cord, and sprung back with such violence into his right eye, as to destroy it forever.
5. Feeling hungry, I inquired what sort of fare I might expect. Such a thing as a bed was not to be seen; many large, untanned bear and buffalo hides lay piled in the corner. I drew my watch from my breast, and told the woman that it was late, and that I was fatigued. She had espied my watch, the richness of which seemed to operate upon her feelings with electric quickness. She told me that there was plenty of venison and buffalo meat, and that on removing the ashes I should find a cake. But my watch had struck her fancy, and her curiosity had to be gratified by an immediate sight of it. I took off the gold chain which secured it round my neck, and handed it to her.
6. She was all in ecstacy, spoke of its beauty, asked me its value, and put the chain around her neck, saying how happy the possession of such a watch would make her. Thoughtless, and, as I fancied myself in so retired a spot, secure, I paid little attention to her talk or movements. I helped my dog to a good supper of venison, and was not long in satisfying the demands of my own appetite.
7. The Indian rose from his seat, as if in extreme suffering. He passed and repassed me several times, and once pinched me violently. He seated himself, drew his butcherknife from its greasy scabbard, examined its edge, replaced it, and, taking his tomahawk from his back, filled the pipe of it with tobacco, and sent me expressive glances whenever our hostess chanced to have her back towards us.
8. Never till that moment had my senses been awakened to the danger which I now suspected to be about me. I returned glance for glance to my companion, and rested well assured that, whatever enemies I might have, he was not of the number.
9. I asked the woman for my watch, wound it up, and, under the pretence of wishing to see how the weather might probably be on the morrow, took up my gun and walked out of the cabin. I slipped a ball in each barrel, scraped the edges of my flints, renewed my primings, and, returning to the hut, gave a favorable account of my observations. I took a few bear-skins, made a bed of them, and calling my faithful dog to my side, lay down, with my gun close to my side, and in a few minutes was, to all appearances,
asleep. 10. A short time had elapsed, when some voices were heard, and from my half-shut eyes I beheld two athletic youths making their entrance, bearing a dead stag upon a pole. They disposed of their burthen, and asking for whiskey, helped themselves freely to it. Observing me and the wounded Indian, they asked who I was, and why that rascal, meaning the Indian, who they knew understood not a word of English, was in the house. The mother, for so she proved to be, told them to speak lower, mentioned my watch, and took them to a corner, where a conversation took place, the purport of which required little shrewdness in me to guess. I tapped my dog gently. He moved his tail, and with indescribable pleasure I saw his fine eyes alternately fixed on me and the trio in the corner. I felt that he perceived danger in my situation. The Indian exchanged a last glance with me.
11. The men had eaten and drunk themselves into such a condition, that I already considered them disabled; and the frequent visits of the whiskey bottle to the ugly mouth of the old hag, I hoped would soon reduce her to a like state. Judge of my astonishment when I saw her take a large carving-knife, and go to the grindstone to whet its edge. I saw her
pour the water on the turning-machine, and watched her working away with the dangerous instrument, until a cold perspiration covered every part of my body, in spite of my determination to defend myself to the last. Her task ended, she walked to the men and said: “ There, that will settle him! Boys, kill him, and then for the watch."
12. I turned, cocked my gun-locks silently, touched my dog, and lay ready to start up and shoot the first who might attempt my life. The moment was fast approaching, and one that might have been
my last in this world, had not kind Providence rescued me. All was ready. The wretch was advancing slowly, probably contemplating the best way of despatching me, while her sons should be engaged with the Indian. I was several times on the eve of rising and shooting her on the spot; but she was not to be punished thus.
13. The door was suddenly opened, and there entered two stout travellers, each with a long rifle on his shoulder. I sprang upon my feet and most gladly welcomed them; hold them how well it was for me that they should have arrived at that moment. The tale was told in a minute. The sons were secured, and the woman, in spite of all her defence and vociferations, shared the same fate. The Indian fairly danced for joy, and gave us to understand that, as he could not sleep for pain, he would watch over us. You may suppose that we slept much less than we talked.
14. The two strangers gave an account of their once having been in the same situation themselves. Day came, and with it the punishment of the wretches. They were now quite sobered. Their feet were unbound, but their arms were still securely tied. We marched them into the woods, off the road, and gave them a sound threshing. We set fire to their cabin, gave all their skins to the young Indian, and proceeded safely to the settlement.
A WIND PIECE.
[The following lines, by an unknown author, afford a fine theme for a good reader — the sound and rhythm responding to the sense.]
1. When winds breathe soft along the silent deep,
The waters curl, the peaceful billows sleep ;
2. More dreadful still when furious storms arise,
The mountain billows bellow to the skies ;