Printer Friendly


“There’s quart-pot, pint-pot. Mit-pint, Gill-pot, half-gill. nipperkin. And the brown bowl— Here’s a health to the barley mow, My brave boys, Here’s a health to the barley mow.”—Drinking Song.

Some little commotion was produced by the appearance of the new guests, during which the lawyer slunk from the room. Most of the men approached Marmaduke, and shook his offered hand, hoping “that the Judge was well;” while Major Hartmann having laid aside his hat and wig, and substituted for the latter a warm, peaked woollen nightcap, took his seat very quietly on one end of the settee, which was relinquished by its former occupant. His tobacco-box was next produced, and a clean pipe was handed him by the landlord. When he had succeeded in raising a smoke, the Major gave a long whiff, and, turning his head toward the bar, he said:

“Petty, pring in ter toddy.”

In the mean time the Judge had exchanged his salutations with most of the company, and taken a place by the side of the Major, and Richard had bustled himself into the most comfortable seat in the room. Mr. Le Quoi was the last seated, nor did he venture to place his chair finally, until by frequent removals he had ascertained that he could not possibly intercept a ray of heat front any individual present. Mohegan found a place on an end of one of the benches, and somewhat approximated to the bar.

When these movements had subsided, the Judge remarked pleasantly: Well, Betty, I find you retain your popularity through all weathers, against all rivals, and among all religions. How liked you the sermon?”

“Is it the sarmon?” exclaimed the landlady. “I can’t say but it was rasonable; but the prayers is mighty unasy. It’s no small a matter for a body in their fifty-nint’ year to be moving so much in church. Mr. Grant sames a godly man, any way, and his garrel a hommble on; and a devout. Here, John, is a mug of cider, laced with whiskey. An Indian will drink cider, though he niver be athirst.

“I must say,” observed Hiram, with due deliberation, “that it was a tongney thing; and I rather guess that it gave considerable satisfaction, There was one part, though, which might have been left out, or something else put in; but then I s’pose that, as it was a written discourse, it is not so easily altered as where a minister preaches without notes.”

“Ày! there’s the rub, Joodge,” cried the landlady. “How can a man stand up and be preaching his word, when all that he is saying is written down, and he is as much tied to it as iver a thaving dragoon was to the pickets?”

“Well, well,” cried Marmaduke, waving his hand for silence, “there is enough said; as Mr. Grant told us, there are different sentiments on such subjects, and in my opinion he spoke most sensibly. So, Jotham, I am told you have sold your betterments to a new settler, and have moved into the village and opened a school. Was it cash or dicker?”

The man who was thus addressed occupied a seat immediately behind Marmaduke, and one who was ignorant of the extent of the Judge’s observation might have thought he would have escaped notice. He was of a thin, shapeless figure, with a discontented expression of countenance, and with something extremely shiftless in his whole air, Thus spoken to, after turning and twisting a little, by way of preparation, he made a reply:

“Why part cash and part dicker. I sold out to a Pumfietman who was so’thin’ forehanded. He was to give me ten dollar an acre for the clearin’, and one dollar an acre over the first cost on the woodland, and we agreed to leave the buildin’s to men. So I tuck Asa Montagu, and he tuck Absalom Bement, and they two tuck old Squire Napthali Green. And so they had a meetin’, and made out a vardict of eighty dollars for the buildin’s. There was twelve acres of clearin’ at ten dollars, and eighty-eight at one, and the whole came to two hundred and eighty-six dollars and a half, after paying the men.”

“Hum,” said Marmaduke, “what did you give for the place?”

“Why, besides what’s comin’ to the Judge, I gi’n my brother Tim a hundred dollars for his bargain; but then there’s a new house on’t, that cost me sixty more, and I paid Moses a hundred dollars for choppin’, and loggin’, and sowin’, so that the whole stood to me in about two hundred and sixty dollars. But then I had a great crop oft on’t, and as I got twenty-six dollars and a half more than it cost, I conclude I made a pretty good trade on’t.”

“Yes, but you forgot that the crop was yours without the trade, and you have turned yourself out of doors for twenty-six dollars.”

“Oh! the Judge is clean out,” said the man with a look of sagacious calculation; “he turned out a span of horses, that is wuth a hundred and fifty dollars of any man’s money, with a bran-new wagon; fifty dollars in cash, and a good note for eighty more; and a side-saddle that was valued at seven and a half—so there was jist twelve shillings betwixt us. I wanted him to turn out a set of harness, and take the cow and the sap troughs. He wouldn’t—but I saw through it; he thought I should have to buy the tacklin’ afore I could use the wagon and horses; but I knowed a thing or two myself; I should like to know of what use is the tacklin’ to him! I offered him to trade back agin for one hundred and fifty-five. But my woman said she wanted to churn, so I tuck a churn for the change.”

“And what do you mean to do with your time this winter? You must remember that time is money.”

“Why, as master has gone down country to see his mother, who, they say, is going to make a die on’t, I agreed to take the school in hand till he comes back, It times doesn’t get worse in the spring, I’ve some notion of going into trade, or maybe I may move off to the Genesee; they say they are carryin’ on a great stroke of business that-a-way. If the wust comes to the wust, I can but work at my trade, for I was brought up in a shoe manufactory.”

It would seem that Marmaduke did not think his society of sufficient value to attempt inducing him to remain where he was, for he addressed no further discourse to the man, but turned his attention to other subjects. After a short pause, Hiram ventured a question:

“What news does the Judge bring us from the Legislature? It’s not likely that Congress has done much this session; or maybe the French haven’t fit any more battles lately?”

“The French, since they have beheaded their king, have done nothing but fight,” returned the Judge. “The character of the nation seems changed. I knew many French gentlemen during our war, and they all appeared to me to be men of great humanity and goodness of heart; but these Jacobins are as blood thirsty as bull-dogs.”

“There was one Roshambow wid us down at Yorrektown,” cried the landlady “a mighty pratty man he was too; and their horse was the very same. It was there that the sargeant got the hurt in the leg from the English batteries, bad luck to ‘em.”

“Oh! mon pauvre roil” muttered Monsieur Le Quoi.

“The Legislature have been passing laws,” continued Marmaduke, “that the country much required. Among others, there is an act prohibiting the drawing of seines, at any other than proper seasons, in certain of our streams and small lakes; and another, to prohibit the killing of deer in the teeming months. These are laws that were loudly called for by judicious men; nor do I despair of getting an act to make the unlawful felling of timber a criminal offence.”

The hunter listened to this detail with breathless attention, and, when the Judge had ended, he laughed in open derision.

“You may make your laws, Judge,” be cried, “but who will you find to watch the mountains through the long summer days, or the lakes at night? Game is game, and be who finds may kill; that has been the law in these mountains for forty years to my sartain knowledge; and I think one old law is worth two new ones. None but a green one would wish to kill a doe with a fa’n by its side, unless his moccasins were getting old, or his leggins ragged, for the flesh is lean and coarse. But a rifle rings among the rocks along the lake shore, sometimes, as if fifty pieces were fired at once—it would be hard to tell where the man stood who pulled the trigger.”

“Armed with the dignity of the law, Mr. Bumppo,” returned the Judge, gravely, “a vigilant magistrate can prevent much of the evil that has hitherto prevailed, and which is already rendering the game scarce. I hope to live to see the day when a man’s rights in his game shall be as much respected as his title to his farm,”

“Your titles and your farms are all new together,” cried Natty; “but laws should be equal, and not more for one than another. I shot a deer, last Wednesday was a fort night, and it floundered through the snow-banks till it got over a brush fence; I catched the lock of my rifle in the twigs in following, and was kept back, until finally the creature got off. Now I want to know who is to pay me for that deer; and a fine buck it was. If there hadn’t been a fence I should have gotten another shot into it; and I never drawed upon anything that hadn’t wings three times running, in my born days. No, no, Judge, it’s the farmers that makes the game scarce, and not the hunters.”

“Ter teer is not so plenty as in tee old war, Pumppo,” said the Major, who had been an attentive listener, amid clouds of smoke; “put ter lant is not mate as for ter teer to live on, put for Christians.”

“Why, Major, I believe you’re a friend to justice and the right, though you go so often to the grand house; but it’s a hard case to a man to have his honest calling for a livelihood stopped by laws, and that, too, when, if right was done, he mought hunt or fish on any day in the week, or on the best flat in the Patent, if he was so minded.”

“I unterstant you, Letter-Stockint,” returned the Major, fixing his black eyes, with a look of peculiar meaning, on the hunter: “put you didn’t use to be so prutent as to look ahet mit so much care.”

“Maybe there wasn’t so much occasion,” said the hunter, a little sulkily; when he sank into a silence from which be was not roused for some time.

“The Judge was saying so’thin’ about the French,” Hiram observed when the pause in the conversation had continued a decent time.

“Yes, sir,” returned Marmaduke, “the Jacobins of France seem rushing from one act of licentiousness to an other, They continue those murders which are dignified by the name of executions. You have heard that they have added the death of their queen to the long list of their crimes.”

“Les monstres!” again murmured Monsieur Le Quoi, turning himself suddenly in his chair, with a convulsive start.

“The province of La Vendée is laid waste by the troops of the republic, and hundreds of its inhabitants, who are royalists in their sentiments, are shot at a time. La Vendée is a district in the southwest of France, that continues yet much attached to the family of the Bourbons; doubtless Monsieur Le Quoi is acquainted with it, and can describe it more faithfully.”

“Non, non, non, mon cher ami,” returned the Frenchman in a suppressed voice, but speaking rapidly, and gesticulating with his right hand, as if for mercy, while with his left he concealed his eyes.

“There have been many battles fought lately,” continued Marmaduke,

“and the infuriated republicans are too often victorious. I cannot say, however, that I am sorry that they have captured Toulon from the English, for it is a place to which they have a just right.”

“Ah—ha!” exclaimed Monsieur Le Quoi, springing on his feet and flourishing both arms with great animation; “ces Anglais!”

The Frenchman continued to move about the room with great alacrity for a few minutes, repeating his exclamations to himself; when overcome by the contrary nature of his emotions, he suddenly burst out of the house, and was seen wading through the snow toward his little shop, waving his arms on high, as if to pluck down honor from the moon. His departure excited but little surprise, for the villagers were used to his manner; but Major Hartmann laughed outright, for the first during his visit, as he lifted the mug, and observed:

“Ter Frenchman is mat—put he is goot as for noting to trink: he is trunk mit joy.”

“The French are good soldiers,” said Captain Hollis ter; “they stood us in hand a good turn at Yorktown; nor do I think, although I am an ignorant man about the great movements of the army, that his excellency would have been able to march against Cornwallis without their reinforcements.”

“Ye spake the trot’, sargeant,” interrupted his wife, “and I would iver have ye be doing the same. It’s varry pratty men is the French; and jist when I stopt the cart, the time when ye was pushing on in front it was, to kape the riglers in, a rigiment of the jontlemen marched by, and so I dealt them out to their liking. Was it pay I got? Sure did I, and in good solid crowns; the divil a bit of continental could they muster among them all, for love nor money. Och! the Lord forgive me for swearing and spakeing of such vanities; but this I will say for the French, that they paid in good silver; and one glass would go a great way wid ‘em, for they gin’rally handed it back wid a drop in the cup; and that’s a brisk trade, Joodge, where the pay is good, and the men not over-partic’lar.”

“A thriving trade, Mrs. Hollister,” said Marmaduke. “But what has become of Richard? he jumped up as soon as seated, and has been absent so long that I am really fearful he has frozen.”

“No fear of that, Cousin ‘Duke,” cried the gentleman himself;

“business will sometimes keep a man warm the coldest night that ever snapt in the mountains. Betty, your husband told me, as we came out of church, that your hogs were getting mangy, and so I have been out to take a look at them, and found it true. I stepped across, doctor, and got your boy to weigh me out a pound of salts, and have been mixing it with their swill. I’ll bet a saddle of venison against a gray squirrel that they are better in a week. And now, Mrs. Hollister, I’m ready for a hissing mug of flip.”

“Sure I know’d ye’d be wanting that same,” said the landlady; “it’s fixt and ready to the boiling. Sargeant, dear, be handing up the iron, will ye?—no, the one on the far fire, it’s black, ye will see. Ah! you’ve the thing now; look if it’s not as red as a cherry.” The beverage was heated, and Richard took that kind of draught which men are apt to indulge in who think that they have just executed a clever thing, especially when they like the liquor.

“Oh! you have a hand. Betty, that was formed to mix flip,” cried Richard, when he paused for breath. “The very iron has a flavor in it. Here, John, drink, man, drink! I and you and Dr. Todd have done a good thing with the shoulder of that lad this very night. ‘Duke, I made a song while you were gone—one day when I had nothing to do; so I'll sing you a verse or two, though I haven’t really determined on the tune yet.

“What is life but a scene of care, Where each one must toil in his way? Then let us be jolly, and prove that we are A set of good fellows, who seem very rare, And can laugh and sing all the day. Then let us be jolly And cast away folly, For grief turns a black head to gray.”

“There, ‘Duke, what do you think of that? There is another verse of it, all but the last line. I haven’t got a rhyme for the last line yet. Well, old John, what do you think of the music? as good as one of your war-songs, ha?”

“Good!” said Mohegan, who had been sharing deeply in the potations of the landlady, besides paying a proper respect to the passing mugs of the Major and Marmaduke.

“Bravo! pravo! Richart,” cried the Major, whose black eyes were beginning to swim in moisture; “pravisimo his a goot song; put Natty Pumppo has a petter. Letter-Stockint, vilt sing? say, olt poy, vilt sing ter song as apout ter wools?”

“No, no, Major,” returned the hunter, with a melancholy shake of the head, “I have lived to see what I thought eyes could never behold in these hills, and I have no heart left for singing. If he that has a right to be master and ruler here is forced to squinch his thirst, when a-dry, with snow-Water, it ill becomes them that have lived by his bounty to be making merry, as if there was nothing in the world but sunshine and summer.”

When he had spoken, Leather-Stocking again dropped his head on his knees, and concealed his hard and wrinkled features with his hands. The change from the excessive cold without to the heat of the bar- room, coupled with the depth and frequency of Richard’s draughts, had already levelled whatever inequality there might have existed between him and the other guests, on the score of spirits; and he now held out a pair of swimming mugs of foaming flip toward the hunter, as he cried:

“Merry! ay! merry Christmas to you, old boy! Sun shine and summer! no! you are blind, Leather-Stocking, ‘tis moonshine and winter—take these spectacles. and open your eyes— So let us be jolly,

And cast away folly,

For grief turns a black head to gray.’

—Hear how old John turns his quavers. What damned dull music an Indian song is, after all, Major! I wonder if they ever sing by note.”

While Richard was singing and talking, Mohegan was uttering dull, monotonous tones, keeping time by a gentle motion of his head and body. He made use of but few words, and such as he did utter were in his native language, and consequently only understood by himself and Natty. Without heeding Richard, he continued to sing a kind of wild, melancholy air, that rose, at times, in sudden and quite elevated notes, and then fell again into the low, quavering sounds that seemed to compose the character of his music.

The attention of the company was now much divided, the men in the rear having formed themselves into little groups, where they were discussing various matters; among the principal of which were the treatment of mangy hogs and Parson Grant’s preaching; while Dr. Todd was endeavoring to explain to Marmaduke the nature of the hurt received by the young hunter. Mohegan continued to sing, while his countenance was becoming vacant, though, coupled with his thick, bushy hair, it was assuming an expression very much like brutal ferocity. His notes were gradually growing louder, and soon rose to a height that caused a general cessation in the discourse. The hunter now raised his head again, and addressed the old warrior warmly in the Delaware language, which, for the benefit of our readers, we shall render freely into English.

“Why do you sing of your battles, Chingachgook, and of the warriors you have slain, when the worst enemy of all is near you, and keeps the Young Eagle from his rights? I have fought in as many battles as any warrior in your tribe, but cannot boast of my deeds at such a time as this.”

“Hawk-eye,” said the Indian, tottering with a doubtful step from his place, “I am the Great Snake of the Delawares; I can track the Mingoes like an adder that is stealing on the whip-poor-will’s eggs, and strike them like the rattlesnake dead at a blow. The white man made the tomahawk of Chingachgook bright as the waters of Otsego, when the last sun is shining; but it is red with the blood of the Maquas.”

“And why have you slain the Mingo warriors? Was it not to keep these hunting-grounds and lakes to your father’s children? and were they not given in solemn council to the Fire-eater? and does not the blood of a warrior run in the veins of a young chief, who should speak aloud where his voice is now too low to be heard?”

The appeal of the hunter seemed in some measure to recall the confused faculties of the Indian, who turned his face toward the listeners and gazed intently on the Judge. He shook his head, throwing his hair back from his countenance, and exposed eyes that were glaring with an expression of wild resentment. But the man was not himself. His hand seemed to make a fruitless effort to release his tomahawk, which was confined by its handle to his belt, while his eyes gradually became vacant. Richard at that instant thrusting a mug before him, his features changed to the grin of idiocy, and seizing the vessel with both hands, he sank backward on the bench and drank until satiated, when he made an effort to lay aside the mug with the helplessness of total inebriety.

“Shed not blood!” exclaimed the hunter, as he watched the countenance of the Indian in its moment of ferocity; “but he is drunk and can do no harm. This is the way with all the savages; give them liquor, and they make dogs of themselves. Well, well—the- day will come when right will be done; and we must have patience.”

Natty still spoke in the Delaware language, and of course was not understood. He had hardly concluded before Richard cried:

“Well, old John is soon sewed up. Give him a berth, captain, in the barn, and I will pay for it. I am rich to night, ten times richer than ‘Duke, with all his lands, amid military lots, and funded debts, and bonds, and mortgages

' Come, let us be jolly, And cast awsy folly, For grief—-’

Drink, King Hiram—drink, Mr. Doo-nothing—-drink, sir, I say. This is a Christmas eve, which comes, you know, but once a year.”

“He! he! he! the squire is quite moosical to-night,” said Hiram, whose visage began to give marvellous signs of relaxation. “I rather guess we shall make a church on’t yet, squire?”

“A church, Mr. Doolittle! we will make a cathedral of it! bishops, priests, deacons, wardens, vestry, and choir; organ, organist, amid bellows! By the Lord Harry, as Benjamin says, we will clap a steeple on the other end of it, and make two churches of it. What say you,

‘Duke, will you pay? ha! my cousin Judge, wilt pay?”

“Thou makest such a noise, Dickon,” returned Marmaduke, “it is impossible that I can hear what Dr. Todd is saying. I think thou observedst, it is probable the wound will fester, so as to occasion danger to the limb in this cold weather?”

“Out of nater, sir, quite out of nater,” said Elnathan, attempting to expectorate, but succeeding only in throwing a light, frothy substance, like a flake of snow, into the fire—” quite out of nater that a wound so well dressed, and with the ball in my pocket, should fester. I s’pose, as the Judge talks of taking the young man into his house, it will be most convenient if I make but one charge on’t.”

“I should think one would do,” returned Marmaduke, with that arch smile that so often beamed on his face; leaving the beholder in doubt whether he most enjoyed the character of his companion or his own covert humor. The landlord had succeeded in placing the. Indian on some straw in one of his outbuildings, where, covered with his own blanket, John continued for the remainder of the night.

In the mean time, Major Hartmann began to grow noisy and jocular; glass succeeded glass, and mug after mug was introduced, until the carousal had run deep into the night, or rather morning; when the veteran German ex- I pressed an inclination to return to the mansion- house. Most of the party had already retired, but Marmaduke knew the habits of his friend too well to suggest an earlier adjournment. So soon, however, as the proposal was made, the Judge eagerly availed himself of it, and the trio prepared to depart. Mrs. Hollister attended them to the door in person, cautioning her guests as to the safest manner of leaving her premises

“Lane on Mister Jones, Major,” said she “he’s young and will be a support to ye. Well, it’s a charming sight to see ye, anyway, at the Bould Dragoon; and sure it’s no harm to be kaping a Christmas eve wid a light heart, for it’s no telling when we may have sorrow come upon us. So good-night, Joodge, and a merry Christmas to ye all tomorrow morning.”

The gentlemen made their adieus as well as they could, and taking the middle of the road, which was a fine, wide, and well-beaten path, they did tolerably well until they reached the gate of the mansion-house: but on entering the Judge’s domains they encountered some slight difficulties. We shall not stop to relate them, but will just mention that in the morning sundry diverging paths were to be seen in the snow; and that once during their progress to the door, Marmaduke, missing his companions, was enabled to trace them by one of these paths to a spot where he discovered them with nothing visible but their heads, Richard singing in a most vivacious strain:

“Come, let us be jolly, And cast away folly, For grief turns a black head to gray.”

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |