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bounding to the edge of the river it fell, dyeing the waters with its blood.
“ 'Twas done with Indian skill," said the scout, laughing inwardly, but with vast satisfaction ; "and' 'twas a pretty sight to behold! Though an arrow is a near shot, and needs a knife to finish the work."
“ Hugh !” ejaculated his companion, turning quickly, like a hound who scented game.
“By the Lord, there is a drove of them !” exclaimed the scout, whose eyes began to glisten with the ardor of his usual occupation; “if they come within range of a bullet I will drop one, though the whole Six Nations should be lurking within sound! What do you hear, Chingachgook? for to my ears the woods are dumb.”
“ There is but one deer, and he is dead,” said the Indian, bending his body till his ear nearly touched the earth. “I hear the sounds of feet!”
Perhaps the wolves have driven the buck to shelter, and are following on his trail.”
“No. The horses of white men are coming !”returned the other, raising himself with dignity, and resuming his seat on the log with his former composure. “Hawkeye, they are your brothers; speak to them."
"That will I, and in English that the king needn't be ashamed to answer," returned the hunter, speaking in the language of which he boasted ; " but I see nothing, nor do I hear the sounds of man or beast ; 'tis strange that an Indian should understand white sounds better than a man who, his very enemies will own, has no cross in his blood, although he may have lived with the redskins long enough to be suspected! Ha! there goes something like the cracking of a dry stick, too— now I hear the bushes move – - yes, yes, there is a trampling that I mistook for the falls — and — but here they come themselves ; God keep them from the Iroquois !'
[The Last of the Mohicans, a narrative of 1757, 1826, chapter 3.]
THE ARIEL AND THE ALACRITY
“Thus guided on their course they bore,
Lord of the Isles.
The joyful shouts and hearty cheers of the Ariel's crew continued for some time after her commander had reached her deck. Barnstable answered the congratulations of his officers by cordial shakes of the hand; and after waiting for the ebullition of delight among the seamen to subside a little, he beckoned with an air of authority for silence.
“I thank you, my lads, for your good-will," he said, when all were gathered around him in deep attention : "they have given us a tough chase, and if you had left us another mile to go, we had been lost. That fellow is a king's cutter; and though his disposition to run to leeward is a good deal mollified, yet he shows signs of fight. At any rate, he is stripping off some of his clothes, which looks as if he were game. Luckily for us, Captain Manual has taken all the marines ashore with him (though what he has done with them or himself, is a mystery), or we should have had our decks lumbered with live cattle ; but, as it is, we have a good working breeze, tolerably smooth water, and a dead match! There is a sort of national obligation on us to whip that fellow; and therefore, without more words about the matter, let us turn to and do it, that we may get our breakfasts.”
To this specimen of marine eloquence the crew cheered as usual, the young men burning for the combat, and the few old sailors who belonged to the schooner shaking their heads with infinite satisfaction, and swearing by sundry strange oaths that their captain “could talk, when there was need of such a thing, like the best dictionary that ever was launched.”
During this short harangue, and the subsequent comments, the Ariel had been kept under a cloud of canvas, as near to the wind as she could lie; and as this was her best sailing, she had stretched swiftly out from the land to a distance whence the cliffs, and the soldiers who were spread along their summits, became plainly
visible. Barnstable turned his glass repeatedly, from the cutter to the shore, as different feelings predominated in his breast, before he again spoke.
“If Mr. Griffith is stowed away among those rocks," he at length said, “ he shall see as pretty an argument discussed, in as few words, as he ever listened to, provided the gentlemen in yonder cutter have not changed their minds as to the road they intend to journey – what think you, Mr. Merry?"
“I wish with all my heart and soul, sir," returned the fearless boy, “ that Mr. Griffith was safe aboard us; it seems the country is alarmed, and God knows what will happen if he is taken! As to the fellow to windward, he'll find it easier to deal with the Ariel's boat than with her mother ; but he carries a broad sail ; I question if he means to show play."
“Never doubt him, boy," said Barnstable," he is working off the shore, like a man of sense, and besides, he has his spectacles on, trying to make out what tribe of Yankee Indians we belong to. You'll see him come to the wind presently, and send a few pieces of iron down this way, by way of letting us know where to find him. Much as I like your first lieutenant, Mr. Merry, I would rather leave him on the land this day, than see him on my decks. I want no fighting captain to work this boat for me! But tell the drummer, sir, to beat to quarters.”
The boy, who was staggering under the weight of his melodious instrument, had been expecting this command, and without waiting for the midshipman to communicate the order, he commenced that short rub-a-dub air, that will at any time rouse a thousand men from the deepest sleep, and cause them to fly to their means of offense with a common soul. The crew of the Ariel had been collected in groups, studying the appearance of the enemy, cracking their jokes, and waiting only for this usual order to repair to the guns; and at the first tap of the drum, they spread with steadiness to the different parts of the little vessel, where their various duties called them. The cannon were surrounded by small parties of vigorous and athletic young men ; the few marines were drawn up in array with muskets; the officers appeared in their boarding-caps, with pistols stuck in their belts, and naked sabres in their hands. Barnstable paced his little quarter-deck
with a firm tread, dangling a speaking-trumpet by its lanyard on his forefinger, or occasionally applying the glass to his eye, which, when not in use, was placed under one arm, while his sword was resting against the foot of the mainmast; a pair of heavy ship's pistols were thrust into his belt also ; and piles of muskets, boarding-pikes, and naked sabres were placed on different parts of the deck. The laugh of the seamen was heard no longer; and those who spoke uttered their thoughts only in low and indistinct whispers.
The English cutter held her way from the land until she got an offing of more than two miles, when she reduced her sails to a yet smaller number; and heaving into the wind, she fired a gun in a direction opposite to that which pointed to the Ariel.
“Now I would wager a quintal of codfish, Master Coffin," said Barnstable, “ against the best cask of porter that was ever brewed in England, that fellow believes a Yankee schooner can fly in the wind's eye! If he wishes to speak to us, why don't he give his cutter a little sheet and come down?”
The cockswain had made his arrangements for the combat with much more method and philosophy than any other man in the vessel. When the drum beat to quarters, he threw aside his jacket, vest, and shirt, with as little hesitation as if he stood under an American sun, and with all the discretion of a man who had engaged in an undertaking that required the free use of his utmost powers. As he was known to be a privileged individual in the Ariel, and one whose opinions, in all matters of seamanship, were regarded as oracles by the crew, and were listened to by his commander with no little demonstration of respect, the question excited no surprise. He was standing at the breech of his long gun, with his brawny arms folded on a breast that had been turned to the color of blood by long exposure, his grizzled locks fluttering in the breeze, and his tall form towering far above the heads of all near him.
“He hugs the wind, sir, as if it was his sweetheart," was his answer ; “but he'll let go his hold soon; and if he don't, we can find a way to make him fall to leeward.”
“Keep a good full !” cried the commander, in a stern voice; “and let the vessel go through the water. That fellow walks well,
long Tom; but we are too much for him on a bowline ; though, if he continue to draw ahead in this manner, it will be night before we can get alongside him.”
“Aye, aye, sir," returned the cockswain ; "them cutters carries a press of canvas when they seem to have but little ; their gaffs are all the same as young booms, and spread a broad head to their mainsails. But it's no hard matter to knock a few cloths out of their bolt-ropes, when she will both drop astarn and to leeward."
“I believe there is good sense in your scheme this time," said Barnstable; “ for I am anxious about the frigate's people — though I hate a noisy chase ; speak to him, Tom, and let us see if he will answer."
“Aye, aye, sir," cried the cockswain, sinking his body in such a manner as to let his head fall to a level with the cannon that he controlled, when, after divers orders, and sundry movements to govern the direction of the piece, he applied a match, with a rapid motion, to the priming. An immense body of white smoke rushed from the muzzle of the cannon, followed by a sheet of vivid fire, until, losing its power, it yielded to the wind, and as it rose from the water, spread like a cloud, and, passing through the masts of the schooner, was driven far to leeward, and soon blended in the mists which were swiftly scudding before the fresh breezes of the ocean.
Although many curious eyes were watching this beautiful sight from the cliffs, there was too little of novelty in the exhibition to attract a single look of the crew of the schooner, from the more important examination of the effect of the shot on their enemy. Barnstable sprung lightly on a gun, and watched the instant when: the ball would strike, with keen interest, while long Tom threw himself aside from the line of the smoke with a similar intention ; holding one of his long arms extended towards his namesake, with a finger on the vent, and supporting his frame by placing the hand of the other on the deck, as his eyes glanced through an opposite port-hole, in an attitude that most men might have despaired of imitating with success.
“There go the chips !” cried Barnstable. “ Bravo! Master Coffin, you never planted iron in the ribs of an Englishman with