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not alter his position, take his pipe from his mouth, nor change in the least his accustomed air of moody indifference. Sarah bore him com. pany as far as the edge of the forest. Her eyes were red and swollen, and while Endicott conversed gaily, she scarce replied a word. At the moment of separation, he pressed his good wishes upon her lips. "Come and see me again,' said the poor girl. • That I will,' replied my ancestor, raising his fox-skin cap from his head as they parted, more out of the native gallantry of his brave heart, than from any artificial goodbreeding He had asked of her some token of remembrance, and she had given a ribbon, which he now tied to his cap, and laughingly waved it to her as she turned back to gaze after him. If he had been nearer, he would have seen that she was weeping. When about noon, he had reached a point of view whence he could see the mountains and forests to the westward, he thought he distinguished the rocky summits that looked down on the little valley. My ancestor was by no means enamoured, but he gazed with a warm interest toward the place, and felt that those savage mountains contained something that would give them a place in his recollections. I will see her again, some time or other,' thought he; but at sunset he had nearly forgotten her in the excitement of the afternoon's chase.
Late in the summer, however, he resolved to hunt again among the Taconic mountains; and as might be expected, his steps turned in the same direction as before. He had equipped himself with unusual care for this expedition. His attire far surpassed any in which he had hitherto taken the field. It consisted of a hunting-frock of dressed deerskin, fitting much closer to his person than usual with such garments, and gaily embroidered with dyed moose-hair and porcupine quills. He wore the Indian leggins, with their gaudy fringes extending down the outside of the leg, and corresponding moccasins. His cap was of fox. skin, with the animal's tail brought over the crown like the ridge of a helmet. A knife was thrust into his belt; his powder-horn, carved all over with various devices, hung at his side ; and his rifle lay in the hollow of his left arm. This dress, though rather wild and savage, very well displayed the light athletic figure of my ancestor, whose limbs had been hardened by years of exercise to the strength and elasticity of steel.
The morning was a beautiful one for a hunter or a lover of nature. Endicott combined both characters, and had, into the bargain, unwearied limbs and a buoyant spirit. At the bottom of a wide hollow among the hills which he was traversing, was one of those openings in the forest occasioned by the too great moisture of the ground. It was smooth as the surface of a lake, and covered with a beautiful verdure, while the forest enclosed it with dense swelling masses of foliage glistening in the soft sunlight; and beyond were the mountain summits, not yet quite cleared from the mists of sunrise. My ancestor's spirits were in unison with the freshness and gayety of the morning.
Here was none of the sombre gloom and silence of the wilderness. The red squirrels kept up an incessant chirping in the borders of the woods, and leaped about in the hickory and oak trees: the blue-jays repeated their harsh notes, as they flew, glancing in the sun, in and out of the
foliage ; the little wood-peckers could be heard at their labor; and all living things seemed to have deserted the dark forest, and gathered round that sunny opening. Endicott sat down at the foot of an old maple that grew on a little mound in the very centre, and refreshed himself at a spring whose pure waters slumbered dark and glistening in the recesses between its moist roots.
As he passed down the rough pathway that led toward the valley, his steps grew quicker. A large gray squirrel, whose little barking voice he had heard for some time, ran out on the branches of a pine, that reached over the road, and swinging himself down among the leaves, sat coolly gazing at him, without expiating his rashness by having his brain delicately scooped out by the bullet of the hunter's rifle. From this I infer that my ancestor was in no little haste, and anticipated some pleasure from the approaching meeting.
When he reached the place where he had parted with his fair friend, he felt more interest than he had counted on ; nay, a certain feeling of tenderness passed for the first time across his heart. He walked rapidly along the margin of the stream, and now he saw the old twisted yellowbirch that grew on the mountain side, just above the house ; and now the three stiff pines that stood just by it appeared; but they were strangely scorched and blackened, and a smoke was eddying up through them into the blue air. He ran up a little mound whence the house would be in full view. It was no longer there! In its place lay a heap of black smouldering beams and rafters. Endicott leaped through the stream and ran up to the wretched pile of ruins. One glance told him the story, quenched his gay spirit, and left him frozen with speechless horror. The Indians from Canada had been there the night before! His quick eye discerned among the charred timbers, the relics of the old man and his wife — a sight I will not dwell upon, though such as was but too familiar to the eyes of the frontier settler. Half stunned with the sudden revulsion of all his feelings, it was long before he could collect his faculties so far as to satisfy himself that only two of the inmates of the house lay among its ruins. There was one left, and no trace of her fate remained; though not far off was the neat little garden, with the flowers whose care had amused her in her solitude.
As Endicott stood gazing on the desolation, a group of their sinewy men, armed each with his rifle, and more than one of them bearing the haggard look of misery, waded across the stream. They were from the hamlet below, which had not escaped the savage inroad. They stood and looked on the ruins and on each other, without saying a word. One of them at length broke the silence, while all his white features quivered betwixt agony and vindictive fury, and his wandering gray eye became for the moment fixed, and kindled like a coal of fire. His words were a bitter curse against the authors of the infernał outrage, and a vow to hunt them like beasts till he had avenged it; and as he concluded, he struck the butt of his rifle against the ground, and swore an oath not to be written down. His wife and all his children lay dead in the ashes of his cabin.
I will suffer the reader to lose sight of my ancestor for a day or two, and will present him again to his notice in a different place, and
under different circumstances. Before his last visit to the valley, a light and careless interest was the only feeling in his heart toward the fair recluse ; but the sudden shock that almost deadened his faculties had awakened in him a spirit of resolute devotion. He had determined to recover this prisoner from the Indians, though he should follow her to Canada, and run the gauntlet of a thousand dangers. His companions were of a different temper. They burned, one and all, for vengeance, and cared for nothing else. Indeed several of them had nothing else left to care for. On the night of the Indian attack, they were absent in the forest, building a house, according to frontier custom, for a newmarried couple; and chose to remain for a merry-making on the scene of their labors, rather than return to their homes. No shadow of danger was apprehended. Two or three men remained at home, of whom one escaped the massacre ; the rest, with half the women and children of the settlement, were found dead in the morning. The savages took no prisoner but Sarah, whose beauty, it may be, saved her from the hatchet.
Reader, these scenes are rude and savage ; repulsive, no doubt, to the taste of literary epicures, and no less so to the transcendental “spiritualists' who infect this city of Boston. Highly flattered should I be if my humble narrative should be honored with their condemnation ; and yet, to win the smiles of a larger and fairer portion of the readers of OLD KNICK, I would gladly make this history more smooth and attractive. But the rough and bold features of the original will lose all resemblance if I try to soften them upon the canvass; and an inexperienced and unskilful painter is doubly bound, in interest as well as conscience, to be faithful.
One day, toward night-fall, Endicott with the band of pursuers came to the banks of a lake. It was a spot whose charms have engaged a pen far abler than mine, and should America ever become prolific in poets and romance-writers, are destined to engage many more ; for it was the southern shore of lake George. At the time of which I speak it was known by no other name than that of Lac St. Sacrament, given it by the French in reference to its consecrated waters. It was as yet a lonely wilderness of mountains and floods, which had not then borne armies on their bosom ; its rocks and forests had not echoed the blast of the trumpet, the roaring of the cannon, nor the sharp tingling report of the rifle. The spot the party chose for their encampment was on the high bank, among the spruces and hemlocks, a little to the right of the place where Baron Dieskau was afterward defeated, and the garrison of Fort William Henry marched out to their massacre. All was now covered with the dense woods. I shall be spared the mortification of attempting to portray the wild beauties of the scene as they were invisible on the evening when my ancestor encamped there; a drizzling rain descended, and dreary mists obscured the mountains, the leaden waters, and the dull dripping forests. An encampment in the woods at such a time, after a toilsome day's journey, without a tent or other shel. ter, is not the most pleasant situation in the world. The party were drenched to the skin. They laid down their packs, and covered their guns with bark stripped from the trees; ate a silent and slender repast,
duly qualified with New England rum, and then debated as to the course to be pursued.
They were confident that the Indians, on their way to Canada, would take, as was usual, the circuitous route of Wood Creek, instead of Lake St. Sacrament, where they would be impeded by a portage of several miles at its northern extremity. By pushing their way rapidly up the Hudson, and across the intervening land to the lake, they had no doubt that they had outstripped the slow progress of their enemy, who were struggling northward through the forests farther to the east.
Their plan was to pass down lake St. Sacrament to Ticonderoga, and there lie in ambush to waylay the Indians as they came in their canoes out of Wood Creek. Ticonderoga was not then a fort, bristling with cannon, to command the narrow straits around it, though it had borne from time immemorial its present name, which is an Iroquois word, meaning 'the meeting of the waters.' It was then only a bare rocky promontory thrust out between the two lakes, and from the singularity of its position, regarded by the Indians with some superstitious veneration. By this plan, the pursuers thought that they should meet the savages, even should they take the route of the lake.
That very night the frontiersmen sought out materials for making their canoe.
No birch trees were at hand; but they found a huge old spruce, straight and tall, that bore the honors of a century. A quarter of an hour's labor brought it thundering to the ground, when the bark was stripped in one piece from its trunk, by cutting it lengthwise, and carefully prying it off its sides. The naked carcass of the unfortunate tree, as delicately white as driven snow, was rolled aside to rot in the damp forest. This part of their labor accomplished, the adventurers wrapped themselves in their wet blankets, and laid down around their half-extinguished fires.
My ancestor had at the bottom of his character, a spirit of adventure which would sometimes be exalted to a height that made him perfectly reckless of dangers and obstacles. The fit was on him now, as he paced along the narrow beach of wet sand. In the wild exhilaration of his purpose and his situation, he was indifferent whether he bequeathed his body to the family vault in Deerfield church-yard, or flung it away to waste among the lonely mountains. His imagination was too dull to trouble him with images of the dangers that awaited his enterprise ; or perhaps his nerves were too strong to be startled by any such fancies.
The next morning rose bright, warm, and soft. White thin mists, it is true, still rolled over the surface of the slumbering water, and entangled themselves among the boughs of the forest ; but the fresh green of the mountains contrasted beautifully with the pure white of the wreaths of vapor that half involved them. The frontiersmen worked industriously on their canoe, which as it approached completion appeared unable to hold the party, so that another had to be made. There was ash for the frame, pine to guard the bottom, and the tough fibres of spruce to sew the parts together : all the materials were at hand; but not to detain the reader with bare and unprofitable details of canoe-making, I will only tell him that the afternoon was nearly
spent before the little vessels were complete ; and that they were so frail and perilous, owing to the green state of the bark, that no man of these peaceful times would have ventured his life in one of them. They embarked, however - twelve bold vindictive men and paddled with their best speed northward along the beautiful St. Sacrament.
It was indeed a beautiful scene; peaceful, yet wild and majestic. So pure was the atmosphere, and so limpid the waters, that as they skirted the precipitous eastern shore, the little fishes playing twenty feet below were as distinctly seen as the quivering birch and the rough cedar that leaned in the sunlight from the cliff above. Then they stood out into the broad lake, and steered down toward an island that lay nearly midway between the shores, doubled in the unruffled water. The perch and trout darted to the right and left as the shadows of the canoes wavered over the sunny rocks and stones under the surface, all around the shores of this savage paradise. Carefully guiding the little vessels into a sort of cove, they drew, them from the water upon a narrow plat of fresh grass. The island, which was that now called Diamond Island, was almost covered with a rich growth of trees : there was, however, a little space in the centre, where, from some accident, nothing was growing but the soft grass ; and here they made their camp.
The sun meanwhile had sunk below the horizon. The western steeps grew brown and shadowy, while a thousand undefined and changing hues of purple and red were reflected on those to the east, and the whole bright circumference of encircling mountains, with every island, and every reddened cloud, was mirrored in the still waters. A stream of sunlight still poured on the landscape through a gap of the mountains, illumining some spots and leaving the rest in obscurity. It fell upon a little islet not far distant, from the midst of which rose up, above a crowd of young shrubs and saplings, an old distorted pine tree. Its foliage was gone ; but light mosses hung from its knotted and broken boughs and its storm-beaten trunk, with no breath of wind in that calm evening to stir them. It looked like the veteran of a century's wars some old Mohawk chief, perhaps, whose voice was cracked, his arm withered, and his grim features shrivelled, but who would still dance the war-dance and scream the war-song, and to the last gasp of his worn-out life exult in the tortures of his enemy. But soon the transient sunbeam left the old pine ; its charm was fled, and it was turned to a common tree again. Little by little, the light passed away from the noble landscape, and darkness sunk down on St. Sacrament. A low heavy sound came booming on the ears of the adventurers ; it was the evening gun from the distant French post of Fort Frederick. When Endicott again left the circle of the camp-fire light, and putting aside the branches, looked out upon the lake, he saw the mountains a mass of deep shadow before him, with a lingering red light in the sky above. A fish now and then splashed on the blackened surface; and suddenly a whip-poor-will began his loud call from the opposite shore.
My ancestor was awakened in the morning by the hoarse cawing of & pair of crows, that went flapping slowly over the island. Their meal