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“The thieves are out-lying for scalps and plunder !” said the white man, whom we shall call Hawkeye after the manner of his companions. “That bushy Frenchman, Montcalm, will send his spies into the very camp, but he will know what road we travel !”
“'Tis enough,” returned the father, glancing his eye towards the setting sun; “they shall be driven like deer from their bushes. Hawkeye, let us eat to-night, and show the Maquas that we are men to-morrow.”
"I am as ready to do the one as the other; but to fight the Iroquois ’tis necessary to find the skulkers; and to eat, ’tis necessary to get the game-talk of the devil and he will come; there is a pair of the biggest antlers I have seen this season, moving the bushes below the hill! Now, Uncas,” he continued, in a half whisper, and laughing with a kind of inward sound, like one who had learned to be watchful, “I will bet my charger three times full of powder, against a foot of wampum, that I take him atwixt the eyes, and nearer to the right than to the left."
“It cannot be !” said the young Indian, springing to his feet with youthful eagerness; "all but the tips of his horns are hid!”
“He's a boy!” said the white man, shaking his head while he spoke and addressing the father. “Does he think when a hunter sees a part of the creatur', he can't tell where the rest of him should be?"
Adjusting his rifle, he was about to make an exhibition of that skill on which he so much valued himself, when the warrior struck up the piece with his hand, saying, –
“Hawkeye! will you fight the Maquas?”
“These Indians know the nature of the woods, as it might be by instinct !” returned the scout, dropping his rifle, and turning away like a man who was convinced of his error. “I must leave the buck to your arrow, Uncas, or we may kill a deer for them thieves, the Iroquois, to eat.”
The instant the father seconded this intimation by an expressive gesture of the hand, Uncas threw himself on the ground, and approached the animal with wary move
ments. When within a few yards of the cover, he fitted an arrow to his bow with the utmost care, while the antlers moved, as if their owner snuffed an enemy in the tainted air. In another moment the twang of the cord was heard, a white streak was seen glancing into the bushes, and the wounded buck plunged from the cover, to the very feet of his hidden enemy. Avoiding the horns of the infuriated animal, Uncas darted to his side, and passed his knife across the throat, when 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 red skins 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 !”
(See Dramatization, by S. E. Simons and C. T. Orr, for dramatization of scenes from The Last of the Mohicans.)
3. Daniel Webster (1782-1852), a native of New Hampshire and a graduate of Dartmouth, was probably the greatest of American orators. While in Congress, in 1830-1832, he defended the Union against State sovereignty. The closing words of his speech in Reply to Hayne sum up his political creed, “ Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and insepara
Because Webster compromised in the slavery issue between the North and South in 1850, Whittier wrote Ichabod, a scathing uke to him. But after many years he did somewhat tardy justice to Webster's memory by writing The Lost Occasion. Webster was twice returned to the United States Senate and was Secretary of State 1841-1843. His two Bunker Hill speeches are among his best orations.
THE FEDERAL UNION
(From Webster's Reply to Hayne) I profess, Sir, in my career hitherto, to have kept steadily in view the prosperity, and honor of the whole country, and the preservation of our Federal Union. .
I have not allowed myself, Sir, to look beyond the Union, to see what might lie hidden in the dark recess behind. I have not coolly weighed the chances of preserving liberty when the bonds that unite us together shall be broken asunder. I have not accustomed myself to hang over the precipice of disunion, to see whether, with my short sight, I can fathom the depth of the abyss below; nor could I regard him as a safe counsellor in the affairs of this government, whose thoughts should be mainly bent on considering, not how the Union may best be preserved, but how tolerable might be the condition of the people when it shall be broken up and destroyed. While the Union lasts, we have high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us, for us and our children. Beyond that I seek not to
penetrate the veil. God grant that in my day, at least, the curtain may not rise! God grant that on my vision never may be opened what lies behind! When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on states dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as “What is all this worth?” nor those other words of delusion and folly, “Liberty first and Union afterward”; but everywhere spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart, Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!
THE CHARACTER OF WASHINGTON
(From the Second Bunker Hill Oration, delivered June 17, 1843)
America has furnished to the world the character of Washington. And if our American institutions had done nothing else, that alone would have entitled them to the respect of mankind. Washington! “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen !” Washington is all our own! The enthusiastic veneration and regard in which the people of the United States hold him, prove them to be worthy of such a countryman; while his reputation abroad reflects the highest honor on his country. I would cheerfully put the question to-day to the intelligence of Europe and the world, What character of the century, upon the whole, stands out in the relief of history, most pure, most respectable, most sublime?
and I doubt not, that, by a suffrage approaching to unanimity, the answer would be, Washington !
The structure now standing before us, by its uprightness, its solidity, its durability, is no unfit emblem of his character. His public virtues and public principles were as firm as the earth on which it stands; his personal motives, as pure as the serene heaven in which its summit is lost. But, indeed, though a fit, it is an inadequate emblem. Towering high above the column which our hands have builded, beheld, not by the inhabitants of a single city or a single state, but by all the families of man, ascends the colossal grandeur of the character and life of Washington. In all the constituents of the one, in all the acts of the other, in all its titles to immortal love, admiration, and renown, it is an American production. It is the embodiment and vindication of our Transatlantic liberty. Born upon our soil, of parents also born upon it; never for a moment having had sight of the Old World; instructed, according to the modes of his time, only in the spare, plain, but wholesome elementary knowledge which our institutions provide for the children of the people; growing up beneath and penetrated by the genuine influences of American society; living from infancy to manhood and age amidst our expanding but not luxurious civilization; partaking in our great destiny of labor, our long contest with unreclaimed nature and uncivilized man, our agony of glory, the war of Independence, our great victory of peace, the formation of the Union, and the establishment of the Constitution, he is all, all our own! Washington is ours.
I claim him for America. In all the perils, in every darkened moment of the state, in the midst of the reproaches of enemies and the misgivings of friends, I turn to that transcendent name for courage and for consolation. To him who denies or doubts whether our fervid liberty can be combined with law, with order, with the security of property, with the pursuits and advancement of happiness; to him who denies that our forms of government are capable of producing exaltation of soul and the passion of