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The Pathfınder - Chapter 6

The Pathfınder - Chapter 6

 

 
PART l
  
Jasper’s quick eye soon caught the figure at which Pathfinder had pointed. One of the young Iroquois, wishing to show his skill or courage, had stolen away from his party and was mov­ing toward the cover in which Chingachgook had hidden him­self. The latter, apparently busy with his own matters, did not see that the young Iroquois had reached a position where he could fire at him. In fact, the young Indian was already raising his rifle, and getting ready to fire.
 
“The Serpent must be close by,” observed Pathfinder, who did not for a moment take his eye from the young Indian. “And yet he must be strangely off his guard to permit a Mingo, with murder in his heart, to get so near to him.”
 
Suddenly raising his rifle to his shoulder, Pathfinder fired with exact aim. The Iroquois on the opposite bank was in the act of shooting, when the deadly bullet from Killdeer, which was an unusually long gun, struck him. His rifle went off, it is true, but the shot was fired into the air, while the Indian himself fell into the bushes, badly hurt, if not killed.
 
“The treacherous devil brought it on himself,” said Path­finder as he carefully loaded his rifle again. “Chingachgook and I have been together since we were boys, and have fought to­gether on the Horican, the Mohawk, the Ontario, and all the other bloody passes between the country of the French and our
 
own—and did the foolish devil believe that I would stand by and see my best friend shot and killed?”
 
“We have served the Serpent as good a turn as he served us,” said Jasper. “See, the body of the Indian whom he shot has floated onto a rock, and the current has forced the head and body above the water. Nor are his friends on shore doing any­thing about him. The devils are troubled, Pathfinder, and are falling back into their covers, since they find that we can reach them with our rifles from across the river.”
 
“The shot was no great matter, Jasper, no great matter. Ask anyone in the regiment, and they will tell you what Killdeer can do, and has done—and that too, when the bullets were flying about us like rain. No, the shot was no great matter, and the unthinking devil drew it down upon himself.”
“Is that a dog or some other animal swimming toward this shore?”
Pathfinder started, for sure enough, an object was crossing the stream, well above the rocks. A second look satisfied both him and Jasper that it was a man, and an Indian, though he was so hidden that they were in doubt for a while. Some new enemy was feared, and the closest attention was given to the movements of the stranger.
 
“He is pushing something before him as he swims, and his head looks like a floating bush,” said Jasper.
 
“The Indian devils are up to some trick, you can be sure.”
 
As the man slowly approached, it became less clear what his intentions were, and it was only when two-thirds of the stream was passed that the truth was apparent.
 
“The Big Serpent, as I live!” cried Pathfinder, looking at his companion and laughing until tears came into his eyes. “He has tied some bushes to his head so as to hide himself, placed his rifle on the piece of wood he is pushing before him, and has come over to join his friends. Ah me! The times that he and I have played such tricks, right in the teeth of the Mingos, when they were after our blood.”
 
“It may not be the Serpent after all, Pathfinder. I can see very little of his face.”
 
“Face! Who looks at the face of an Indian? No, no, boy—it’s the paint that speaks, and none but a Delaware would wear
 
that paint. Those are his colors, just as your ship on the lake carries St. George’s Cross, and the French, too, have their spe­cial signs. To him, his colors stand for the honor and history of his tribe, of which he is very proud. He is a great chief, Jasper —perhaps one of the greatest who ever lived.”
 
“No one who is acquainted with him ever doubts that.” Pathfinder continued to express his admiration for the char­acter of the Big Serpent. The latter, little by little, drew close to the shore, directly in front of his two white friends. He must have known their exact position before leaving the east side of the river. Rising .from the water, he shook himself like a dog, and in true Indian manner, said only, “Ugh!”
He and Pathfinder then had a short conversation in the language of the Indian. Soon after, Chingachgook approached the water’s edge, apparently intending to enter the river again.
 
“What is the Delaware about to do?” asked Jasper. “He will not be so mad as to return to the other shore for something he may have forgotten!”
 
“Not he, not he. He is as intelligent as he is brave—though perhaps he did act foolishly in shooting the Indian in the canoe. Listen, Jasper,” said Pathfinder, leading the other a little aside. “Chingachgook is not a Christian white man like ourselves. He is a chief whose ideas and customs are those of his tribe, the Mohicans. He thinks in a different way from us. A king’s soldier will swear and he will drink and it is of little use to try to stop him. So it is with an Indian. His actions have no doubt been directed by God with some good end in view, though neither you nor I can always understand them.”
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. What could Jasper and Pathfinder see?
2. What was the Indian preparing to do?
3. What did Pathfinder do then?
4. What did they see swimming in the river?
5. How had Chingachgook hidden himself?
6. How could Pathfinder tell that it was Chingachgook and not some other Indian?
7. What did his colors stand for?
8.Why was it apparent that Chingachgook knew the exact position of Pathfinder and Jasper?
9.What did Chingachgook prepare to do after he had talked to Pathfinder?
10.What tribe did Chingachgook belong to?
 
B.Use the plural forms of the following nouns in sentences of your own:
 
chief cross man
knife tooth party
bush enemy cannon
 
C.Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own:
 
steal away from      get near to
get sight of               in the act of
get ready                  stand by
be on his guard      in doubt
be off his guard       play a trick
 
PART II
 
“What does this mean? See, the Delaware is swimming toward the dead body on the rock. Why does he take such a chance?” asked Jasper.
 
“For reasons of honor—just as English gentlemen leave their quiet and happy homes across the seas to come to America to fight against the French and the Indians,” answered Pathfinder.
 
“I understand you. Chingachgook has gone to get the scalp of the dead Iroquois.”
 
“It is the Indian custom. Let him enjoy it. We are white men, and do not like even to touch a dead enemy, but it is honor in the eyes of a redskin to do so.”
 
“A savage will be a savage, Pathfinder, let him keep what company he may.”
 
“Perhaps you are right. But a white man’s ideas of honor are also strange at times, nor do they always seem to follow the will of God. I have passed much time thinking of these matters out in the silent woods. I have come to the opinion that each
 
of us is right in his own way, that each must live according to the ideas and education given him by his people.”
 
“The Serpent’s position is dangerous. He is laying himself open to enemy fire. This may lose the day for us.”
 
“Not in his mind. That one scalp has more honor in it, accord­ing to the Serpent’s ideas of war, than a field covered with enemy dead. It is something an Indian keeps to show to his children and to his children’s children—though, as it happens, Chingach- gook has neither sons nor grandsons to listen to the stories he might tell. He does not even have a tribe to honor. He is alone in the world. Still he remains true to the teachings and customs of his people.”
 
Here a great cry from the Iroquois was succeeded by the quick reports of their rifles. So excited did the enemy become in their desire to drive the Delawarp back from their dead com­panion, that a dozen of them rushed into the river. But Chin- gachgook was unmoved by the bullets that flew around him. With a skill that came from long years of habit, he went about his work of removing the scalp. Waving his bloody prize at last in the air, he gave the war cry in its most awful and frightening manner. The silent woods rang with the cry, and even Mabel, some distance up the river, bowed her head in fear; and Cap, for the moment, really considered running away.
 
“This is worse than anything I have ever heard,” said J asper, stopping his ears and showing in his face the deep disgust he felt.
 
“It is their music, boy, their sounds of war. All Indians love these cries, for they cause strong feelings and a desire for blood to rise in them,” answered Pathfinder. “I also thought such sounds frightening when I was a boy. But I have grown accus­tomed to them, so that they have no effect at all upon me now. In any case, I hope the Serpent is satisfied, for here he comes with the scalp at his belt.”
 
Jasper turned his head away in disgust as the Delaware rose from the water. Pathfinder, however, looked at his Indian friend in the manner of one who has made up his mind not to be influenced by matters of little importance. As the Delaware passed deeper into the bushes to dry his clothes and prepare his rifle, he gave a look of satisfaction at his companions. Then
 
all show of feeling seemed to disappear from his face.
 
“Jasper,” said Pathfinder, “go and ask Master Cap to join us. We have little time for conversation, yet our course of action must be decided upon quickly, for it will not be long before the Mingos will be planning our ruin.”
 
In a few minutes, the group of four men met near the shore, completely hidden from the view of their enemies. But they kept a sharp watch on the movements of the Indians.
 
The sun had already set and night had begun to fall. Most of the hopes of the group rested on this favorable circumstance, since escape would be easier by night. Yet, at the same time, they understood that the movements of the enemy would be almost impossible to follow in the dark.
 
Cap, in their talk, was strongly in favor of using the canoe to escape. Jasper agreed with him. Though he himself was unable to decide at once as to the best course of action, Path­finder pointed out that the river would have no cover except the clouds in the heavens. He also reminded the others that just below them lay a series of rapids through which they might have great difficulty in passing, since there would be so many of them in the one canoe.
 
“Perhaps the Serpent and myself could swim into the river and bring back the other canoe,” answered Jasper. 
 
“Then it seems to me that our safest course would be the water.”
 
“With the other canoe in our possession, our situation would of course be less serious,” said Pathfinder. “But can such a thing be done? It is a daring move. If we were a party of men only, there would be less danger. We could fight against the devils openly and take our chances with them. But we have Mabel to think about.”
 
 
“I will do anything to protect Mabel,” said Jasper bravely. “If getting the other canoe will help us, then I am ready.”
 
“I admire you, Jasper—and I suppose it is natural for you to feel as you do. The Serpent, who is nearly naked already, can help you. In any case, if you bring back the canoe you will be cutting off one of the means the devils have to cross the river and work against us.’!
 
This being decided upon, they prepared to put their plan into effect. The shadows of night had already fallen, and it
 
was impossible to make out objects on the opposite shore. Pathfinder soon grew restless. His long experience in
forest fighting had taught him that it would not be long before the enemy would find some means of crossing the narrow stream— possibly before he and his party were ready to strike out from the shore.
 
Jasper and the Serpent entered the river, armed with nothing but their knives and the Serpent’s tomahawk. Then Pathfinder brought Mabel from her place of hiding and directed her and Cap to walk down along the bank to the foot of the rapids. He himself then brought the canoe over to them. Mabel and Cap sat in their usual position in the canoe, while Pathfinder stood in the back holding tightly to a bush in order to prevent the canoe from being carried away by the strong current.
 
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
 
A. 1. Toward what did Chingachgook swim?
2. What did he intend to do?
3. To what opinion had Pathfinder come?
4. What did the Indians do with the scalps that they took?
5. Why wouldn’t Chingachgook be able to do what the Indians usually did?
6. What did the Iroquois try to do?
7. What did Chingachgook do?
8. Why did the Indians love the war cry?
9. Why would darkness be both a hope and a danger for Mabel and her party?
10. What were Cap and Jasper in favor of doing?
11. Why did Pathfinder think that would be dangerous?
12. What did Jasper say that he and the Serpent could do?
13. Why did Pathfinder become restless?
14. What did Pathfinder do after Jasper and the Serpent had gone into the river?
 
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your
own:
disgust                                                     remain true  in favor of
satisfaction                                              stopping his ears
prevent                                                    grow accustomed to
pass time                                                 made up his mind
come to the opinion                                 in favor of