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--Methought, I heard a voice.
The joy of Don Augustin, and the embarrassment of the worthy father
Ignatius, may be imagined. The former wept and returned thanks to
Heaven; the latter returned thanks, and did not weep. The mild
provincials were too happy to raise any questions on the character of
so joyful a restoration; and, by a sort of general consent, it soon
came to be an admitted opinion that the bride of Middleton had been
kidnapped by a villain, and that she was restored to her friends by
human agency. There were, as respects this belief, certainly a few
sceptics, but then they enjoyed their doubts in private, with that
species of sublimated and solitary gratification that a miser finds in
gazing at his growing, but useless, hoards.
In order to give the worthy priest something to employ his mind,
Middleton made him the instrument of uniting Paul and Ellen. The
former consented to the ceremony, because he found that all his
friends laid great stress on the matter; but shortly after he led his
bride into the plains of Kentucky, under the pretence of paying
certain customary visits to sundry members of the family of Hover.
While there, he took occasion to have the marriage properly
solemnised, by a justice of the peace of his acquaintance, in whose
ability to forge the nuptial chain he had much more faith than in that
of all the gownsmen within the pale of Rome. Ellen, who appeared
conscious that some extraordinary preventives might prove necessary to
keep one of so erratic a temper as her partner, within the proper
matrimonial boundaries, raised no objections to these double knots,
and all parties were content.
The local importance Middleton had acquired, by his union with the
daughter of so affluent a proprietor as Don Augustin, united to his
personal merit, attracted the attention of the government. He was soon
employed in various situations of responsibility and confidence, which
both served to elevate his character in the public estimation, and to
afford the means of patronage. The bee-hunter was among the first of
those to whom he saw fit to extend his favour. It was far from
difficult to find situations suited to the abilities of Paul, in the
state of society that existed three-and-twenty years ago in those
regions. The efforts of Middleton and Inez, in behalf of her husband,
were warmly and sagaciously seconded by Ellen, and they succeeded, in
process of time, in working a great and beneficial change in his
character. He soon became a land-holder, then a prosperous cultivator
of the soil, and shortly after a town-officer. By that progressive
change in fortune, which in the republic is often seen to be so
singularly accompanied by a corresponding improvement in knowledge and
self-respect, he went on, from step to step, until his wife enjoyed
the maternal delight of seeing her children placed far beyond the
danger of returning to that state from which both their parents had
issued. Paul is actually at this moment a member of the lower branch
of the legislature of the State where he has long resided; and he is
even notorious for making speeches that have a tendency to put that
deliberative body in good humour, and which, as they are based on
great practical knowledge suited to the condition of the country,
possess a merit that is much wanted in many more subtle and fine-spun
theories, that are daily heard in similar assemblies, to issue from
the lips of certain instinctive politicians. But all these happy
fruits were the results of much care, and of a long period of time.
Middleton, who fills, with a credit better suited to the difference in
their educations, a seat in a far higher branch of legislative
authority, is the source from which we have derived most of the
intelligence necessary to compose our legend. In addition to what he
has related of Paul, and of his own continued happiness, he has added
a short narrative of what took place in a subsequent visit to the
prairies, with which, as we conceive it a suitable termination to what
has gone before, we shall judge it wise to conclude our labours.
In the autumn of the year, that succeeded the season, in which the
preceding events occurred, the young man, still in the military
service, found himself on the waters of the Missouri, at a point not
far remote from the Pawnee towns. Released from any immediate calls of
duty, and strongly urged to the measure by Paul, who was in his
company, he determined to take horse, and cross the country to visit
the partisan, and to enquire into the fate of his friend the trapper.
As his train was suited to his functions and rank, the journey was
effected, with the privations and hardships that are the
accompaniments of all travelling in a wild, but without any of those
dangers and alarms that marked his former passage through the same
regions. When within a proper distance, he despatched an Indian
runner, belonging to a friendly tribe, to announce the approach of
himself and party, continuing his route at a deliberate pace, in order
that the intelligence might, as was customary, precede his arrival. To
the surprise of the travellers their message was unanswered. Hour
succeeded hour, and mile after mile was passed, without bringing
either the signs of an honourable reception, or the more simple
assurances of a friendly welcome. At length the cavalcade, at whose
head rode Middleton and Paul, descended from the elevated plain, on
which they had long been journeying, to a luxuriant bottom, that
brought them to the level of the village of the Loups. The sun was
beginning to fall, and a sheet of golden light was spread over the
placid plain, lending to its even surface those glorious tints and
hues, that, the human imagination is apt to conceive, forms the
embellishment of still more imposing scenes. The verdure of the year
yet remained, and herds of horses and mules were grazing peacefully in
the vast natural pasture, under the keeping of vigilant Pawnee boys.
Paul pointed out among them, the well-known form of Asinus, sleek,
fat, and luxuriating in the fulness of content, as he stood with
reclining ears and closed eye-lids, seemingly musing on the exquisite
nature of his present indolent enjoyment.
The route of the party led them at no great distance from one of those
watchful youths, who was charged with a trust heavy as the principal
wealth of his tribe. He heard the trampling of the horses, and cast
his eye aside, but instead of manifesting curiosity or alarm, his look
instantly returned whence it had been withdrawn, to the spot where the
village was known to stand.
"There is something remarkable in all this," muttered Middleton, half
offended at what he conceived to be not only a slight to his rank, but
offensive to himself, personally; "yonder boy has heard of our
approach, or he would not fail to notify his tribe; and yet he
scarcely deigns to favour us with a glance. Look to your arms, men; it
may be necessary to let these savages feel our strength."
"Therein, Captain, I think you're in an error," returned Paul, "if
honesty is to be met on the prairies at all, you will find it in our
old friend Hard-Heart; neither is an Indian to be judged of by the
rules of a white. See! we are not altogether slighted, for here comes
a party at last to meet us, though it is a little pitiful as to show
Paul was right in both particulars. A group of horsemen were at length
seen wheeling round a little copse, and advancing across the plain
directly towards them. The advance of this party was slow and
dignified. As it drew nigh, the partisan of the Loups was seen at its
head, followed by a dozen younger warriors of his tribe. They were all
unarmed, nor did they even wear any of those ornaments or feathers,
which are considered testimonials of respect to the guest an Indian
receives, as well as evidence of his own importance.
The meeting was friendly, though a little restrained on both sides.
Middleton, jealous of his own consideration no less than of the
authority of his government, suspected some undue influence on the
part of the agents of the Canadas; and, as he was determined to
maintain the authority of which he was the representative, he felt
himself constrained to manifest a hauteur, that he was far from
feeling. It was not so easy to penetrate the motives of the Pawnees.
Calm, dignified, and yet far from repulsive, they set an example of
courtesy, blended with reserve, that many a diplomatist of the most
polished court might have strove in vain to imitate.
In this manner the two parties continued their course to the town.
Middleton had time, during the remainder of the ride, to revolve in
his mind, all the probable reasons which his ingenuity could suggest
for this strange reception. Although he was accompanied by a regular
interpreter, the chiefs made their salutations in a manner that
dispensed with his services. Twenty times the Captain turned his
glance on his former friend, endeavouring to read the expression of
his rigid features. But every effort and all conjectures proved
equally futile. The eye of Hard-Heart was fixed, composed, and a
little anxious; but as to every other emotion, impenetrable. He
neither spoke himself, nor seemed willing to invite discourse in his
visiters; it was therefore necessary for Middleton to adopt the
patient manners of his companions, and to await the issue for the
When they entered the town, its inhabitants were seen collected in an
open space, where they were arranged with the customary deference to
age and rank. The whole formed a large circle, in the centre of which,
were perhaps a dozen of the principal chiefs. Hard-Heart waved his
hand as he approached, and, as the mass of bodies opened, he rode
through, followed by his companions. Here they dismounted; and as the
beasts were led apart, the strangers found themselves environed by a
thousand, grave, composed, but solicitous faces.
Middleton gazed about him, in growing concern, for no cry, no song, no
shout welcomed him among a people, from whom he had so lately parted
with regret. His uneasiness, not to say apprehensions, was shared by
all his followers. Determination and stern resolution began to assume
the place of anxiety in every eye, as each man silently felt for his
arms, and assured himself, that his several weapons were in a state
for service. But there was no answering symptom of hostility on the
part of their hosts. Hard-Heart beckoned for Middleton and Paul to
follow, leading the way towards the cluster of forms, that occupied
the centre of the circle. Here the visiters found a solution of all
the movements, which had given them so much reason for apprehension.
The trapper was placed on a rude seat, which had been made, with
studied care, to support his frame in an upright and easy attitude.
The first glance of the eye told his former friends, that the old man
was at length called upon to pay the last tribute of nature. His eye
was glazed, and apparently as devoid of sight as of expression. His
features were a little more sunken and strongly marked than formerly;
but there, all change, so far as exterior was concerned, might be said
to have ceased. His approaching end was not to be ascribed to any
positive disease, but had been a gradual and mild decay of the
physical powers. Life, it is true, still lingered in his system; but
it was as if at times entirely ready to depart, and then it would
appear to re-animate the sinking form, reluctant to give up the
possession of a tenement, that had never been corrupted by vice, or
undermined by disease. It would have been no violent fancy to have
imagined, that the spirit fluttered about the placid lips of the old
woodsman, reluctant to depart from a shell, that had so long given it
an honest and an honourable shelter.
His body was placed so as to let the light of the setting sun fall
full upon the solemn features. His head was bare, the long, thin,
locks of grey fluttering lightly in the evening breeze. His rifle lay
upon his knee, and the other accoutrements of the chase were placed at
his side, within reach of his hand. Between his feet lay the figure of
a hound, with its head crouching to the earth as if it slumbered; and
so perfectly easy and natural was its position, that a second glance
was necessary to tell Middleton, he saw only the skin of Hector,
stuffed by Indian tenderness and ingenuity in a manner to represent
the living animal. His own dog was playing at a distance, with the
child of Tachechana and Mahtoree. The mother herself stood at hand,
holding in her arms a second offspring, that might boast of a
parentage no less honourable, than that which belonged to the son of
Hard-Heart. Le Balafre was seated nigh the dying trapper, with every
mark about his person, that the hour of his own departure was not far
distant. The rest of those immediately in the centre were aged men,
who had apparently drawn near, in order to observe the manner, in
which a just and fearless warrior would depart on the greatest of his
The old man was reaping the rewards of a life remarkable for
temperance and activity, in a tranquil and placid death. His vigour in
a manner endured to the very last. Decay, when it did occur, was
rapid, but free from pain. He had hunted with the tribe in the spring,
and even throughout most of the summer, when his limbs suddenly
refused to perform their customary offices. A sympathising weakness
took possession of all his faculties; and the Pawnees believed, that
they were going to lose, in this unexpected manner, a sage and
counsellor, whom they had begun both to love and respect. But as we
have already said, the immortal occupant seemed unwilling to desert
its tenement. The lamp of life flickered without becoming
extinguished. On the morning of the day, on which Middleton arrived,
there was a general reviving of the powers of the whole man. His
tongue was again heard in wholesome maxims, and his eye from time to
time recognised the persons of his friends. It merely proved to be a
brief and final intercourse with the world on the part of one, who had
already been considered, as to mental communion, to have taken his
leave of it for ever.
When he had placed his guests in front of the dying man, Hard-Heart,
after a pause, that proceeded as much from sorrow as decorum, leaned a
little forward and demanded--
"Does my father hear the words of his son?"
"Speak," returned the trapper, in tones that issued from his chest,
but which were rendered awfully distinct by the stillness that reigned
in the place. "I am about to depart from the village of the Loups, and
shortly shall be beyond the reach of your voice."
"Let the wise chief have no cares for his journey," continued Hard-
Heart with an earnest solicitude, that led him to forget, for the
moment, that others were waiting to address his adopted parent; "a
hundred Loups shall clear his path from briars."
"Pawnee, I die as I have lived, a Christian man," resumed the trapper
with a force of voice that had the same startling effect upon his
hearers, as is produced by the trumpet, when its blast rises suddenly
and freely on the air, after its obstructed sounds have been heard
struggling in the distance: "as I came into life so will I leave it.
Horses and arms are not needed to stand in the presence of the Great
Spirit of my people. He knows my colour, and according to my gifts
will he judge my deeds."
"My father will tell my young men, how many Mingoes he has struck, and
what acts of valour and justice he has done, that they may know how to
"A boastful tongue is not heard in the heaven of a white man,"
solemnly returned the old man. "What I have done, He has seen. His
eyes are always open. That, which has been well done, will He
remember; wherein I have been wrong will He not forget to chastise,
though He will do the same in mercy. No, my son; a Pale-face may not
sing his own praises, and hope to have them acceptable before his
A little disappointed, the young partisan stepped modestly back,
making way for the recent comers to approach. Middleton took one of
the meagre hands of the trapper, and struggling to command his voice,
he succeeded in announcing his presence. The old man listened like one
whose thoughts were dwelling on a very different subject, but when the
other had succeeded in making him understand, that he was present, an
expression of joyful recognition passed over his faded features--"I
hope you have not so soon forgotten those, whom you so materially
served!" Middleton concluded. "It would pain me to think my hold on
your memory was so light."
"Little that I have ever seen is forgotten," returned the trapper: "I
am at the close of many weary days, but there is not one among them
all, that I could wish to overlook. I remember you with the whole of
your company; ay, and your grand'ther, that went before you. I am
glad, that you have come back upon these plains, for I had need of
one, who speaks the English, since little faith can be put in the
traders of these regions. Will you do a favour to an old and dying
"Name it," said Middleton; "it shall be done."
"It is a far journey to send such trifles," resumed the old man, who
spoke at short intervals, as strength and breath permitted; "a far and
weary journey is the same; but kindnesses and friendships are things
not to be forgotten. There is a settlement among the Otsego hills--"
"I know the place," interrupted Middleton, observing that he spoke
with increasing difficulty; "proceed to tell me, what you would have
"Take this rifle, and pouch, and horn, and send them to the person,
whose name is graven on the plates of the stock,--a trader cut the
letters with his knife,--for it is long, that I have intended to send
him such a token of my love."
"It shall be so. Is there more that you could wish?"
"Little else have I to bestow. My traps I give to my Indian son; for
honestly and kindly has he kept his faith. Let him stand before me."
Middleton explained to the chief what the trapper had said and
relinquished his own place to the other.
"Pawnee," continued the old man, always changing his language to suit
the person he addressed, and not unfrequently according to the ideas
he expressed, "it is a custom of my people for the father to leave his
blessing with the son, before he shuts his eves for ever. This
blessing I give to you; take it, for the prayers of a Christian man
will never make the path of a just warrior, to the blessed prairies,
either longer, or more tangled. May the God of a white man look on
your deeds with friendly eyes, and may you never commit an act, that
shall cause Him to darken His face. I know not whether we shall ever
meet again. There are many traditions concerning the place of Good
Spirits. It is not for one like me, old and experienced though I am,
to set up my opinions against a nation's. You believe in the blessed
prairies, and I have faith in the sayings of my fathers. If both are
true, our parting will be final; but if it should prove, that the same
meaning is hid under different words, we shall yet stand together,
Pawnee, before the face of your Wahcondah, who will then be no other
than my God. There is much to be said in favour of both religions, for
each seems suited to its own people, and no doubt it was so intended.
I fear, I have not altogether followed the gifts of my colour,
inasmuch as I find it a little painful to give up for ever the use of
the rifle, and the comforts of the chase. But then the fault has been
my own, seeing that it could not have been His. Ay, Hector," he
continued, leaning forward a little, and feeling for the ears of the
hound, "our parting has come at last, dog, and it will be a long hunt.
You have been an honest, and a bold, and a faithful hound. Pawnee, you
cannot slay the pup on my grave, for where a Christian dog falls,
there he lies for ever; but you can be kind to him, after I am gone,
for the love you bear his master."
"The words of my father are in my ears," returned the young partisan,
making a grave and respectful gesture of assent.
"Do you hear, what the chief has promised, dog?" demanded the trapper,
making an effort to attract the notice of the insensible effigy of his
hound. Receiving no answering look, nor hearing any friendly whine,
the old man felt for the mouth and endeavoured to force his hand
between the cold lips. The truth then flashed upon him, although he
was far from perceiving the whole extent of the deception. Falling
back in his seat, he hung his head, like one who felt a severe and
unexpected shock. Profiting by this momentary forgetfulness, two young
Indians removed the skin with the same delicacy of feeling, that had
induced them to attempt the pious fraud.
"The dog is dead!" muttered the trapper, after a pause of many
minutes; "a hound has his time as well as a man and well has he filled
his days! Captain," he added, making an effort to wave his hand for
Middleton, "I am glad you have come; for though kind, and well meaning
according to the gifts of their colour, these Indians are not the men,
to lay the head of a white man in his grave. I have been thinking too,
of this dog at my feet; it will not do to set forth the opinion, that
a Christian can expect to meet his hound again; still there can be
little harm in placing what is left of so faithful a servant nigh the
bones of his master."
"It shall be as you desire."
"I'm glad, you think with me in this matter. In order then to save
labour, lay the pup at my feet, or for that matter put him, side by
side. A hunter need never be ashamed to be found in company with his
"I charge myself with your wish."
The old man made a long, and apparently a musing pause. At times he
raised his eyes wistfully, as if he would again address Middleton, but
some innate feeling appeared always to suppress his words. The other,
who observed his hesitation, enquired in a way most likely to
encourage him to proceed, whether there was aught else that he could
wish to have done.
"I am without kith or kin in the wide world!" the trapper answered:
"when I am gone, there will be an end of my race. We have never been
chiefs; but honest and useful in our way, I hope it cannot be denied,
we have always proved ourselves. My father lies buried near the sea,
and the bones of his son will whiten on the prairies--"
"Name the spot, and your remains shall be placed by the side of your
father," interrupted Middleton.
"Not so, not so, Captain. Let me sleep, where I have lived, beyond the
din of the settlements! Still I see no need, why the grave of an
honest man should be hid, like a Red-skin in his ambushment. I paid a
man in the settlements to make and put a graven stone at the head of
my father's resting place. It was of the value of twelve beaver-skins,
and cunningly and curiously was it carved! Then it told to all comers
that the body of such a Christian lay beneath; and it spoke of his
manner of life, of his years, and of his honesty. When we had done
with the Frenchers in the old war, I made a journey to the spot, in
order to see that all was rightly performed, and glad I am to say, the
workman had not forgotten his faith."
"And such a stone you would have at your grave?"
"I! no, no, I have no son, but Hard-Heart, and it is little that an
Indian knows of White fashions and usages. Besides I am his debtor,
already, seeing it is so little I have done, since I have lived in his
tribe. The rifle might bring the value of such a thing--but then I
know, it will give the boy pleasure to hang the piece in his hall, for
many is the deer and the bird that he has seen it destroy. No, no, the
gun must be sent to him, whose name is graven on the lock!"
"But there is one, who would gladly prove his affection in the way you
wish; he, who owes you not only his own deliverance from so many
dangers, but who inherits a heavy debt of gratitude from his
ancestors. The stone shall be put at the head of your grave"
The old man extended his emaciated hand, and gave the other a squeeze
"I thought, you might be willing to do it, but I was backward in
asking the favour," he said, "seeing that you are not of my kin. Put
no boastful words on the same, but just the name, the age, and the
time of the death, with something from the holy book; no more no more.
My name will then not be altogether lost on 'arth; I need no more."
Middleton intimated his assent, and then followed a pause, that was
only broken by distant and broken sentences from the dying man. He
appeared now to have closed his accounts with the world, and to await
merely for the final summons to quit it. Middleton and Hard-Heart
placed themselves on the opposite sides of his seat, and watched with
melancholy solicitude, the variations of his countenance. For two
hours there was no very sensible alteration. The expression of his
faded and time-worn features was that of a calm and dignified repose.
From time to time he spoke, uttering some brief sentence in the way of
advice, or asking some simple questions concerning those in whose
fortunes he still took a friendly interest. During the whole of that
solemn and anxious period each individual of the tribe kept his place,
in the most self-restrained patience. When the old man spoke, all bent
their heads to listen; and when his words were uttered, they seemed to
ponder on their wisdom and usefulness.
As the flame drew nigher to the socket, his voice was hushed, and
there were moments, when his attendants doubted whether he still
belonged to the living. Middleton, who watched each wavering
expression of his weather-beaten visage, with the interest of a keen
observer of human nature, softened by the tenderness of personal
regard, fancied he could read the workings of the old man's soul in
the strong lineaments of his countenance. Perhaps what the enlightened
soldier took for the delusion of mistaken opinion did actually occur,
for who has returned from that unknown world to explain by what forms,
and in what manner, he was introduced into its awful precincts?
Without pretending to explain what must ever be a mystery to the
quick, we shall simply relate facts as they occurred.
The trapper had remained nearly motionless for an hour. His eyes,
alone, had occasionally opened and shut. When opened, his gaze seemed
fastened on the clouds, which hung around the western horizon,
reflecting the bright colours, and giving form and loveliness to the
glorious tints of an American sunset. The hour--the calm beauty of the
season--the occasion, all conspired to fill the spectators with solemn
awe. Suddenly, while musing on the remarkable position, in which he
was placed, Middleton felt the hand, which he held, grasp his own with
incredible power, and the old man, supported on either side by his
friends, rose upright to his feet. For a moment, he looked about him,
as if to invite all in presence to listen (the lingering remnant of
human frailty), and then, with a fine military elevation of the head,
and with a voice, that might be heard in every part of that numerous
assembly the word--
A movement so entirely unexpected, and the air of grandeur and
humility, which were so remarkably united in the mien of the trapper,
together with the clear and uncommon force of his utterance, produced
a short period of confusion in the faculties of all present. When
Middleton and Hard-Heart, each of whom had involuntarily extended a
hand to support the form of the old man, turned to him again, they
found, that the subject of their interest was removed for ever beyond
the necessity of their care. They mournfully placed the body in its
seat, and Le Balafre arose to announce the termination of the scene,
to the tribe. The voice of the old Indian seemed a sort of echo from
that invisible world, to which the meek spirit of the trapper had just
"A valiant, a just, and a wise warrior has gone on the path, which
will lead him to the blessed grounds of his people!" he said. "When
the voice of the Wahcondah called him, he was ready to answer. Go, my
children; remember the just chief of the Pale-faces, and clear your
own tracks from briars."
The grave was made beneath the shade of some noble oaks. It has been
carefully watched to the present hour by the Pawnees of the Loop, and
is often shown to the traveller and the trader as a spot where a just
Whiteman sleeps. In due time the stone was placed at its head, with
the simple inscription, which the trapper had himself requested. The
only liberty, taken by Middleton, was to add--"May no wanton hand ever
disturb his remains!"
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