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which he had found time to gather on the way, and her white hands employed in arranging a bouquet, of which the destiny was yet a secret. Next to their own loves, ladies like nothing on earth like mending or marring the loves of others; and while the violets and already-drooping wild flowers were coquettishly chosen or rejected by those slender fingers, the sun might have swung back to the east like a pendulum, and those seven-and-twenty Misses would have watched their lovely schoolfellow the same. Nunu turned her head slowly around at last, and silently looked on. St. John lay at the feet of the Georgian, glancing from the flowers to her face, and from her face to the flowers, with an admiration not at all equivocal. Mrs. Ilfrington sat apart, absorbed in finishing a sketch of New Haven; and I, interested painfully in watching the emotions of the Cherokee, sat with my back to the trunk of a hemlock, -the only spectator who comprehended the whole extent of the drama.
A wild rose was set in the heart of the bouquet at last, a spear of ribbon-grass added to give it grace and point, and nothing was wanting but a string. Reticules were searched, pockets turned inside out, and never a bit of ribbon to be found. The beauty was in despair.
Stay,” said St. John, springing to his feet. “ Lash! Lash!" The dog came coursing in from the wood, and crouched to his master's hand.
“ Will a string of wampum do ?” he asked, feeling under the long hair on the dog's neck, and untying a fine and variegated thread of many-coloured beads, worked exquisitely.
The dog growled, and Nunu sprang into the middle of the circle with the fling of an adder, and seizing the wampum as he handed it to her rival, called the dog, and fastened it once more around his neck.
The ladies rose in alarm; the belle turned pale, and clung to St. John's arm; the dog, with his hair bristling upon his back, stood close to her feet, in an attitude of defiance; and the superb Indian, the peculiar genius of her beauty developed by her indignation, her nostrils expanded, and her eyes almost showering fire in their flashes, stood before them like a young Pythoness, ready to strike them dead with a regard.
St. John recovered from his astonishment after a moment, and leaving the arm of Miss Temple, advanced a step, and called to his dog.
The Cherokee patted the animal on the back, and spoke to him in her own language; and, as St. John still advanced, Nunu drew herself to her fullest height, placed herself before the dog, who slunk growling from his master, and said to him, as she folded her arms, " The wanpum is mine."
St. John coloured to the temples with shame.
“Lash!” he cried, stamping with his feet, and endeavouring to fright him from his protectress.
The dog howled and crept away, half crouching with fear, toward the precipice; and St. John, shooting suddenly past Nunu, seized him on the brink, and held him down by the throat.
The next instant, a scream of horror from Mrs. Ilfrington, followed by a terrific echo from every female present, started the rude Kentuckian to his feet.
Clear over the abyss, hanging with one hand by an ashen sapling,
the point of her tiny foot just poising on a projecting ledge of rock, swung the desperate Cherokee, sustaining herself with perfect ease, but with all the determination of her iron race collected in calm concentration on her lips.
“ Restore the wampum to his neck,” she cried, with a voice that thrilled the very marrow with its subdued fierceness, blood rest on your soul !”
St. John flung it toward the dog, and clasped his hands in silent horror.
The Cherokee bore down the sapling till its slender stem cracked with the tension, and rising lightly with the rebound, alit like a feather upon the rock. The subdued student sprang to her side; but with scorn on her lip, and the flush of exertion already vanished from her cheek, she called to the dog, and with rapid strides took her way alone down the mountain.
VI. Five years had elapsed. I had put to sea from the sheltered river of boyhood, -had encountered the storms of a first entrance into life, had trimmed my boat, shortened sail, and, with a sharp eye to windward, was lying fairly on my course. Among others from whom I had parted company was Paul St. John, who had shaken hands with me at the University gate, leaving me, after four years' intimacy, as much in doubt as to his real character and history as the first day we met. I had never heard him speak of either father or mother, nor had he, to my knowledge, received a letter from the day of his matriculation. He passed his vacations at the University ;- he had studied well, yet refused one of the highest college honours offered him with his degree;
- he had shown many good qualities, yet some unaccountable faults ;and, all in all, was an enigma to myself and the class. I knew him clever, accomplished, and conscious of superiority; and my knowledge went no farther. The coach was at the gate, and I was there to see him off; and, after four years' constant association, I had not an idea where he was going, or to what he was destined. --The driver blew his horn.
“God bless you, Slingsby!" “God bless you, St. John!" And so we parted.
It was five years from this time, I say, and, in the bitter struggles of first manhood, I had almost forgotten there was such a being in the world. Late in the month of October, in 1829, I was on my way westward, giving myself a vacation from the law. I embarked, on a clear and delicious day, in the small steamer which plies up and down the Cayuga Lake, looking forward to a calm feast of scenery, and caring little who were to be my fellow-passengers. As we got out of the little harbour of Cayuga, I walked astern for the first time, and saw the not very unusual sight of a group of Indians standing motionless by the wheel. They were chiefs, returning from a diplomatic visit to Washington.
I sat down by the companion-ladder, and opened soul and eye to the glorious scenery we were gliding through. The first severe frost had come, and the miraculous change had passed upon the leaves which is
known only in America. The blood-red sugar maple, with a leaf brighter and more delicate than a Circassian lip, stood here and there in the forest like the Sultan's standard in a host-the solitary and farseen aristocrat of the wilderness; the birch, with its spirit-like and amber leaves, ghosts of the departed summer, turned out along the edges of the woods like a lining of the palest gold; the broad sycamore and the fan-like catalpa flaunted their saffron foliage in the sun, spotted with gold like the wings of a lady-bird; the kingly oak, with its summit shaken bare, still hid its majestic trunk in a drapery of sumptuous dyes, like a stricken monarch, gathering his robes of state about him to die royally in his purple ; the tall poplar, with its minaret of silver leaves, stood blanched like a coward in the dying forest, burthening every breeze with its complainings; the hickory paled through its enduring green; the bright berries of the mountain-ash flushed with a more sanguine glory in the unobstructed sun; the gaudy tulip-tree, the Sybarite of vegetation, stripped of its golden cups, still drank the intoxicating light of noon-day in leaves than which the lip of an Indian shell was never more delicately tinted; the still deeper-dyed vines of the lavish wilderness, perishing with the noble things whose summer they had shared, outshone them in their decline, as woman in her death is heavenlier than the being on whom in life she leaned; and alone and unsympathising in this universal decay, outlaws from Nature, stood the fir and the hemlock, their frowning and sombre heads darker and less lovely than ever, in contrast with the death-struck glory of their companions.
The dull colours of English autumnal foliage give you no conception of this marvellous phenomenon. The change here is gradual; in America it is the work of a night-of a single frost !
Oh, to have seen the sun set on hills bright in the still green and lingering summer, and to wake in the morning to a spectacle like this !
It is as if a myriad of rainbows were laced through the tree-tops—as if the sunsets of a summer-gold, purple, and crimson-had been fused in the alembic of the west, and poured back in a new deluge of light and colour over the wilderness. It is as if every leaf in those countless trees had been painted to outflush the tulip—as if, by some electric miracle, the dyes of the earth's heart had struck upward, and her crystals and ores, her sapphires, hyacinths, and rubies had let forth their imprisoned colours to mount through the roots of the forest, and, like the angels that in olden time entered the bodies of the dying, reanimate the perishing leaves and revel an hour in their bravery.
I was sitting by the companion-ladder, thinking to what on earth these masses of foliage could be resembled, when a dog sprang upon my knees, and, the moment after, a hand was laid on my shoulder.
“ St. John ? Impossible!”
I looked at him with astonishment. The soigné man of fashion I had once known was enveloped in a kind of hunter's frock, loose and large, and girded to his waist by a belt; his hat was exchanged for a cap of rich otter-skin; his pantaloons spread with a slovenly carelessness over his feet; and, altogether, there was that in his air which told me at a glance that he had renounced the world. Lash had recovered his leanness, and, after wagging out his joy, he crouched between my
feet, and lay looking into my face as if he was brooding over the more idle days in which we had been acquainted.
“ And where are you bound ?" I asked, having answered the same question for myself.
“ Westward with the chiefs !”
“ You would wonder less," said he, with an impatient gesture, “ if you knew more of me. And by the way,” he added with a smile, “ I think I never told you the first half of the story—my life up to the time I met you.”
“ It was not for want of a catechist,” I answered, settling myself in an attitude of attention.
“ No; and I was often tempted to gratify your curiosity; but from the little intercourse I had had with the world, I had adopted some precocious principles ; -and one was, that a man's influence over others was vulgarized and diminished by a knowledge of his history.”
I smiled; and as the boat sped on her way over the calm waters of the Cayuga, St. John went on leisurely with a story which is scarce remarkable enough to merit a repetition. He believed himself the natural son of a Western hunter, but only knew that he had passed his early youth on the borders of civilization, between whites and Indians, and ihat he had been more particularly indebted for protection to the father of Nunu. Mingled ambition and curiosity had led him eastward while still a lad, and a year or two of a most vagabond life in the different cities had taught him the caution and bitterness for which he was so remarkable. A fortunate experiment in lotteries supplied him with the means of education, and, with singular application in a youth of such wandering habits, he had applied himself to study under a private master, fitted himself for the University in half the usual time, and cultivated, in addition, the literary taste which I have remarked upon.
“This,” he said, smiling at my look of astonishment, “brings me up to the time when we met. I came to college at the age of eighteen, with a few hundred dollars in my pocket, some pregnant experience of the rough side of the world, great confidence in myself and distrust of others, and, I believe, a kind of instinct of good manners which made me ambitious of shining in society. You were a witness to my débût. Miss Temple was the first highly-educated woman I had ever known, and you saw her effect on me.”
“ And since we parted ?”
“Oh, since we parted my life has been vulgar enough. I have ransacked civilized life to the bottom, and found it a heap of unredeemed falsehoods. I do not say it from common disappointment, for I may say I succeeded in everything I undertook"
Except Miss Temple,” I said, interrupting, at the hazard of wounding him.
“ No; she was a coquette, and I pursued her till I had my turn. You see me in my new character now. But a month ago I was the Apollo of Saratoga, playing my own game with Miss Temple. I left her for a woman worth ten thousand of her—and here she is.”
As Nunu came up the companion-way from the cabin, I thought I
had never seen breathing creature so exquisitely lovely. With the exception of a pair of brilliant moccasins on her feet, she was dressed in the usual manner, but with the most absolute simplicity. She had changed in those five years from the child to the woman, and, with a round and well-developed figure, additional height, and manners at once gracious and dignified, she walked and looked the chieftain's daughter. St. John took her hand, and gazed on her with moisture in his eyes.
“ That I could ever have put a creature like this,” he said, “ into comparison with the dolls of civilization !"
We parted at Buffalo ; St. John with his wife and the chiefs, to pursue their way westward by Lake Erie, and I to go moralising on my way to Niagara.
O'er breezy oaks—whose sires were giants then