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Never was there seen a colouring more soft and melting; and melting it was, for in a very few minutes it was gone;—and when 1 entered my sitting-room, and found it lighted chiefly by the blazing fire on which my kettle was hissing and steaming, I could hardly believe that 1 had seen daylight so near. But, in the afternoon, I had the very last of the daylight. While candles were lighted everywhere else in the house, I sat in the yellow glow at the window, seeing how the black pines on the rocky promontory were reflected in the orange and crimson waters, stem for stem, distinct and unmoved, while the mountains and their reflection were of the deepest purple, and a full clear planet shone with a glow-worm light in the midst of the ruddy scene. Of all the sunsets of that winter, there is one that stands alone in my remembrance. As my house assumed more and more the air of a dwelling,—that is, from the time the rooftree was on, I seldom returned to dinner at dark without having had a glance at my future home from some point or other. Its gaping doorways and windowspaces looked cold and forlorn; but when once the roof was on, I could overlook that defect from the other side of the valley. Along that other side of the valley I was walking, from Fox How to Waterhead, one bright afternoon, just at sunset; and what did I see?—my windows glittering in the last yellow rays! How home-like it looked! how completely changed in character from a shell of a dwelling to a home, merely by putting in the window-sashes! I met John Newton, and asked him about it; and he told me that he expected heavy rain, and had put in the sashes in a hurry, to keep the inside dry.
The heavy rains came, hour after hour, almost like a waterspout, with winds which made such a commotion that two panes of my windows were broken. As for the lake, it dashed and rolled all the next day, and seemed to be coming nearer in the night, so that 1 was not at all surprised to find a flood when I looked
out the next morning. There could be no morning walk, for our house was a peninsula, which afforded only a few yards of dry footing beyond the door. Angry billows rolled over the grass-plat, up against the house walls. In the road, men were pushing themselves about on logs and planks. The little piers were all sunk, and the boat-house seemed likely to blow up. Cascades of white water were leaping and rushing down through trees, and pouring over fences into the road. Logs and faggots were drifting out from the shore, and chips were dancing on the surface. Within the house, my landlady was pulling up her carpets from the ground-floor rooms; and from the windows, the neighbours were calling to each other that no such flood had been witnessed by the existing generation. The rain was over, however, and there was a brisk wind; so that, though the lake would not go down till the tributary streams had done paying in their excess, the river and brooks in the valley would soon subside into their channels, and allow us to go and see what had happened above. By the afternoon, it was thought possible to reach a higher part of the road; and, thickshod, I went forth. Presently, I met the A.'s, all in their thickest boots, coming down to see the flood. They said the meadows in the valley were almost entirely under water. I could not turn back with them, so great was my secret anxiety about my house. It was not for long. When I reached Rotha Bridge, and looked northwards, there was my pretty gray house, high and dry on its green knoll, bright and cheerful-looking, and even with smoke coming out of one chimney. There was not a grate in the house yet; but the carpenters had made a tire under the chimney to heat their glue; and thus it was that this warm domestic token met my eye when I least expected it. Before I had finished my circuit, the wind had subsided; and when I cast my last glance at the knoll, the little column of smoke was as steady as in a summer noon.
AN OLD FABLE NEWLY TRANSLATED.
BY '' ELIZA"-BETH.
Fob Milton's fame,
For Dante'ename, The blockheada all have striven;
The will, if not
Tho way, they've got To hang their i
But if in Tain,
They rhyming strain,
And squceze out fcet tly rules,—
That poeta all are fools.
A TALE OF CHICAGO.
BY MA J OR RICHARDSON,
AUTHOR OF "ECAETE," "WACOCSTA," "THE CANADIAN BEOTHEBS," "TECUMSEH," "WAR 0» 1812," " "OK BRAO IX SPAIJf," ETC., ETC.
It was on a beautiful day in the early part of the month of April, 1812, that four persons 'were met in a rude farm-house, situate on the southern branch of the Chicago River, and about four miles distant from the fort of that name. They had just risen from their humble midday meal, and three of them were now lingering near the fire-place, filled with blazing logs, which at that early season diffused a ■warmth by no means unpleasant, and gave an air of cheerfulness to the interior of the smokediscoloured building.
He who appeared to be the head of the establishment was a tall good-looking man of about forty-five—one who had evidently been long a denizen of the forest; for his bronzed countenance bore traces of care and toil, while his rugged yet well-formed hands conveyed the impression of the unceasing war he had waged against the gigantic trees of this western land. He was dressed in a hunting-frock of gray homespun, reaching about half-way down to his knee, and trimmed with a full fringe of a somewhat darker hue. His trousers were of the same material, and both were girt around his loins by a common belt of black leather fastened by a plain white buckle, into which was thrust a sheath, of black leather also, containing a large knife peculiar to the backwoodsman of that day. His feet were encased in moccasins, and on his head, covered with strong, dark hair, was carelessly donned a slouched hat of common black felt, with several plaited folds of the sweet grass of the adjoining prairie for a band. He was seemingly a man of strong muscular power, while his stern, dark eye denoted firmness and daring.
The elder of the two men, to whom this individual stood evidently in the character of a master, was a short, thick-set person of about fifty, with huge whiskers, that, originally black, had been slightly grizzled by time. His brows were bushy and overhanging, and almost concealed the small and twinkling eyes, which it required the beholder to encounter more than once, before he could decile their true colour to be a dark gray. A blanket coat, that had once been white, but which the action of some half dozen winters had changed into a dirty yellow, enveloped his rather full form, around
which it was confined by a coarse worsted sash of mingled blue and red, thickly studded with minute white beads. His trousers, with broad seams after the fashion of the Indian leggin, were of a dark crimson, approaching to a brickdust colour, and on his feet he wore the stiff shoe pack which, with the bonnet bleu on his grizzled head, and the other parts of his dress already described, attested him to be what he was—a French Canadian. Close at his heels, and moving as he moved, or squatted on his haunches, gazing into the face of his master when stationary, was a large dog of the mongrel breed peculiar to the country, evidently with wolf blood in his veins.
His companion was of a different style of figure and costume. He was a thin, weaklooking man, of middle height, with a complexion and hair that denoted his Saxon origin. Very thin eyebrows, a sharp and rather retrousse' nose, and a blue eye in which might be traced an expression half-simple, halfcunning, completed the picture of this personage, whose lank body was encased in an old American uniform of faded blue, so scanty in its proportions that the wrists of the wearer were wholly exposed below the short, narrow sleeves, while the skirts only "shadowed not concealed" that part of the body they had been originally intended to cover. A pair of blue pantaloons, perfectly in keeping, on the score of scantiness and age, with the coat, covered the attenuated lower limbs of the wearer, on whose head moreover was stuck a conical cap, that had all the appearance of having been once a portion of the same military equipment, and had only undergone one change in the loss of its peak. A small black, leather, narrow, ridged stock was clasped around his thin and scarecrow neck, and that so tightly, that it was the wonder of his companions how strangulation had been so long avoided. A dirty and very coarse linen shirt showed itself partially between the bottom of the stock and the uppermost button of the uniform, which was carefully closed; while his feet were protected from the friction of the stiff though nearly worn-out military shoes, by wisps of hay, that supplied the absence of the sock. This man was about fivc-and-thirty.
The last of this little party was a boy. He was a raw-boned lad of about fourteen years of age, of fair complexion, with blue eyes, and an immense head of bushy hair, which seemed never to have known the use of the comb. His feet were naked, and his trousers and shirt, the only articles of dress he wore at the moment, were of a homespun somewhat resembling in colour the hunting-frock of his master. A thick black leather strap was also around his loins, evidently part of an old bridle-rein.
The master and the Frenchman drew near the fire and lighted their pipes. The ex-militaire thrust a quid of tobacco into his cheek, and taking up a small piece of pine board that rested against the chimney-corner, split a portion of this with his jack-knife, and commenced whittling. The boy busied himself in clearing the table, throwing occasionally scraps of bread and dried venison, which had constituted the chief portion of the meal, to the dog, who, however, contrary to his usual custom, paid little attention to these marks of favour, but moved impatiently, at intervals, to the door, then returning squatted himself again on his haunches, at a short distance from his master, and uttering a low sound betwixt a whine and a growl, looked piteously up into his face.
"Vat de devil is de matter wid you, Loup Garou?" remarked the Canadian at length, as removing his pipe from his lips, he stretched his legs, and poised himself in his low woodbottomed chair, putting forth his right hand at the same time to his canine follower. "You not eat, and you make noise as you wish me to see one raccoon in de tree."
"Loup Garou doesn't prate about coons, I guess," drawled the man in the faded uniform, without however withdrawing his attention from the very interesting occupation in which he was engaged. "That dog, I take it, Le Noir, means somethin' else—somethin' more than we human critters know. By gosh, Boss," looking for the first time at him who stood in that relation to him, "if we can't smell the varmint, I take it Loup Garou does."
"What has got into your foolish head now, Ephraim Giles ?" he sharply questioned. "You do nothing but prophesy evil. What 'varmint' do you talk of, and what has Loup Garou to do with it? Speak, what do you mean, if you mean anything at all?"
As he uttered this half rebuke he rose abruptly from his chair, shook the ashes from his pipe, and drew himself to his full height, with his back to the fire. There had been nothing very remarkable in the observation made by the man to whom he had just addressed himself, but he was in a peculiar state of mind, that gave undue importance to every word, seconding, as it did, a vague presenti
ment of some coming evil, which the very singular conduct of the dog had created, although he would scarcely acknowledge this to himself.
The man made no reply, but continued whittling, whistling the air of "Yankee Doodle."
"Answer me, Ephraim Giles !" peremptorily resumed Mr. Hcywood; "leaveoff that eternal whittling of yours if you can, and explain to me your meaning."
"Etarnal whittling, do you call it, boss? I guess it's no sich thing. No man knows better nor you that if I can whittle the smallest stick in creation, I can bring down the stoutest oak as well as ere a fellow in Michigan. Work is work—play is play—it's only the difference, I reckon, of the axe and the knife."
"Will you answer my question like a man, and not like a fool as you are?" shouted the other, stooping and extending his left hand, the fingers of which he insinuated into the stock already described, while with a powerful jerk he brought both the man to his feet and the blood into his usually cadaverous cheek.
Ephraim Giles, half throttled and writhing with pain, made a movement as if he would have used the knife in a less innocent manner than whittling, but the quick, stern eye of his master detected the involuntary act, and his hand, suddenly relinquishing its hold of the collar, grasped the wrist of the soldier with such a vice-like pressure that the fingers immediately opened, and the knife fell upon the hearth.
The violence of his own act brought Mr. Heywood at once to a sense of the undue severity he had used towards his servant, and he immediately said, taking his hand—
"Ephraim Giles, forgive me. I have been rather rough with you, but it was not intended. Yet, I know not how it is, the few words you spoke just now have made me anxious to know what you meant, and I could not repress my impatience to hear your explanation."
The soldier had never before remarked so much dignity of manner about his "boss," as he termed Mr. Heywood, and this fact, added to the recollection of the severe handling he had just met with, caused him to be a little more respectful in his address.
"Well, I reckon," he said, picking up his knife, and resuming his whittling, but in a less absorbed manner, "I meant no harm, but merely that Loup Garou can nose an Injun better nor any of us."
"Nose an Indian better than any of us! Well, perhaps he can ; he sees them every day; but what has that to do with his whining and growling just now'!"
"Well I'll tell you, boss, what I mean, more plain like. You know that patch of wood bordering on the prairie, where you set me to cut t'other day V
"I do. What of that?"
"Well then, this morning I was cutting down as big an oak as ever grew in Michigan, as I said afore, when as it went thunderin' through the branches, with noise enough to scare every buffalo within a day's walk, up started, not twenty yards from its top, ten or a dozen or so of Injuns, all gruntin' like pigs, and lookin' as fierce as so many red devils. They didn't look quite pleased, I calculate."
"Indeed!" remarked Mr. Heywood musingly. '* A party of Pottawatomies, I suppose, from the neighbourhood of the Fort. We all know there is an encampment of them there, but they are our friends."
"Maybe so," continued Ephraim Giles, " but these varmint didn't look over friendly. And then I guess the Pottawatomies don't dress in war paint, except when they dance for liquor."
"And are you quite sure these Indians were in their war paint?" asked his master, with an ill-concealed look of anxiety.
"No mistake about it," replied Giles, still whittling, "and I could almost swear, short as the squint was I got of them, that they were part of those who fought us on the Wabash two years ago."
"And why did you not name this the instant you got home?" somewhat sternly demanded Mr. Heywood.
"Where's the use of spilin' a good dinner?" remarked Ephraim Giles. "\t was all smokin' hot when I come in from choppin', and I thought it best for every man to tuck in his belly full, before I said a word about it. Besides, I reckon I don't know as they meant any harm, seein' as how they never carried off my topknot; only it was a little queer they were hid in that way in the bush, and looked so fierce when they fust jumped up in their nasty paint."
"Who knows," remarked Mr. Heywood, taking down his rifle from the side of the hut opposite to the chimney, and examining the priming, "but that these fellows may have tracked you back, and are even now lurking near us."
"Le Noir," he continued to the Canadian, who, imitating his example, had taken down a long duck gun from the same side of the hut, "take your dog with you and reconnoitre in the neighbourhood. You speak Indian, and if any of these people are to be seen, ascertain who they are, and why"
Here he was interrupted by the gradually approaching sounds of rattling deer-hoofs, so well known as composing one of the lower ornaments of the Indian war-dress, while, at the same moment, the wild moaning of Loup
Vol. vi. 11
Garou, who stood at the front doorway, was renewed even more plaintively than before.
Mr. Heywood's cheek blanched. It was not with fear, for he was a man incapable of fear, in the usual acceptation of the word; but independently of certain vague apprehensions for others, his mind had been in a great degree unhinged by an unaccountable presentiment of evil, which, as if instinctively, had come over it that day. It was this which, inducing a certain irresoluteness of thought and action, had led him into a manifestation of peevish contradiction in his address to Ephraim Giles. There are moments when, without knowing why, the nerves of the strongest, the purposes of the wisest, are unstrung; and when it requires all our tact and self-possession, to conceal from others the momentary weakness we almost blush to admit to ourselves.
But there was no time for reflection. The approach to the door was suddenly shaded, and, in the next instant, the dark forms of three or four savages, speedily followed by others, amounting in all to twelve besides their chief, who was in the advance, crossed the threshold; and without uttering a word either of anger or salutation, squatted themselves on the floor. They were stout, athletic warriors; the perfect symmetry of whose persons could not be concealed even by the hideous war-paint with which they were thickly streaked; inspiring anything but confidence in the honesty or friendliness of their intentions. The head of each was shaved and painted, as well as his person, and only on the extreme crown had been left a tuft of hair, to which were attached feathers and small bones, and other fantastic ornaments peculiar to their race. A few carried American rifles, the majority, the common gun periodically dealt out to the several tribes as presents from the British government; while all had, in addition to their pipe and tomahawk, the formidable and polished war-club.
Such visiters, and so armed and painted, were not of a character to remove the apprehensions of the little party in the farm-house. Their very silence, added to their dark and threatening looks, created more than mere suspicion,—a certainty of evil design; and deeply, bitterly did Mr. Heywood curse in his heart, the folly of Ephraim Giles in failing to apprise him of his rencontre with these people, at the earliest moment after his return. Had he done so, there might have been a chance, nay, a certainty of relief; for he knew that a party from the Fort, consisting of a non-commissioned officer and six men, were even now fishing not more than two miles higher up the river. He was aware that the boy Wilton was an excellent runner, and that within an hour at least, he could have reached and brought down that party who, as was their wont, when absenting themselves from the Fort on these fishing excursions, were provided with their arms. However, it might not be too late yet, and he determined to make the attempt. To call and speak to the boy aside, would, he was well aware, excite the suspicions of his unweleome guests, while it was possible that, as they did not understand English—so at least he took it for granted—a communication mado to him boldly in their presence, would be construed into some domestic order.
"Wilton," said he calmly to the boy, who stood near the doorway with alarm visibly depicted on his countenance, and looking as if he would eagerly seize a favourable opportunity of escape, "make all haste to the fishing-party above. Tell them what is going on here, and ask the sergeant or corporal, whoever may be in command, to lose no time in pulling down the stream. You will come back with them; quick, lose not a moment."
Delighted at the order, the boy made no answer, but hatless, shoeless as he was, disappeared round the corner of the house. Strange to say, the Indians, although they had seemingly listened with attention to Mr. Heywood while issuing these directions, did not make the slightest movement to impede the boy's departure, or even to remark on it,— merely turning to their chief, who uttered a sharp and apparently satisfied "Ugh."
All this time Mr. Heywood and Le Noir stood at some little distance from the Indians, and nearly on the spot they had previously occupied, the one holding his rifle, the other his duck gun, the butts of both resting on the floor. At each moment their anxiety increased, and it seemed an age before the succour they had sent for could possibly arrive. How long, moreover, would these taciturn and forbidding mannered savages wait before they gave some indication of overt hostility? And, even if nothing were done prior to the arrival of the fishing-party, would these latter be in sufficient force to awe them into a pacific departure? The Indians were twelve in number, exclusively of their chief, all fierce and determined. They, with the soldiers, nine; for neither Mr. Heywood nor Le Noir, seemed disposed to count upon any efficient aid from Ephraim Giles, who during tin" dumb scene, continued whittling before the Indians, apparently as cool and indifferent to their presence as if he had conceived them to be the most peaceably disposed persons in the world. He had, however, attentively listened to the order given to Wilton by his master, and had not failed to remark that the Indians had not, in any way, interfered with his departure.
"What do you think of these people, Le Noir?" at length asked Mr. Heywood, without however removing his gaze from his visiters; "can they be friendly Pottawatomies?"
"Friendly Pottawatomie! no sare," returned the Canadian seriously, and shrugging his shoulders. "Dcy no dress—no paint like de Pottawatomie, and I not like der black look. No sare, dey Winnebago."
He laid a strong emphasis on the last word, and, as he expected, a general "ugh" among the party attested that he had correctly named their tribe.
While they were thus expressing their conjectures in regard to the character and intentions of their guests, and inwardly determining to sell their lives as dearly as possible if attacked, Ephraim Giles had risen from his seat in the corner of the chimney, and with his eyes fixed on the stick he was whittling, walked coolly out of the door, and sauntered down the pathway leading to the river. But, if he had caleulated on the same indifference to his actions that the Indians had manifested towards those of the boy, he was mistaken. The whole party watched him as he slowly approached the water, and then, when he had got about half-way, the chief, suddenly springing to his feet, and brandishing his tomahawk, demanded in broken, but perfectly intelligible English, where he was going.
"Well, I want to know!" exclaimed Ephraim Giles, turning round, and, in a tone indicating surprise that he should thus have been interrupted. "Onlygoin' over thar," he continued pointing to the haystacks on the opposite side of the river, around which stood many cattle— "goin' to give out some grub to the beasts, and I'll be back in no time to give you out some whiskey." Then, resuming his course, he went on, whittling as unconcernedly as before.
The chief turned to his followers, and a low, yet eager conversation ensued. Whether it was that the seeming indifference of the man, or his promise of the whiskey on his return, or that some other motive influenced them, they contented themselves with keeping a vigilant watch upon his movements.
Mr. Heywood and the Frenchman looked at each other with surprise. They could not account for the action of Ephraim Giles at that moment, although it was his office to cross the river daily, but at different hours, for the purpose he had named; yet how the Indians could suffer this, if their intentions were really hostile, it was impossible for them to understand. In proportion as the hopes of the one were raised by this circumstance, those of the other were depressed.
While the master and the man were indulging their opposite reflections, without however