The Pathfınder - Chapter 7
“Raise It!” Said the Iroquois, in the Usual Short, Indian Manner of Speaking
Jasper and the Serpent had first to swim across a section of the river, before they could reach that part where they were able to wade. Having passed this first section, they both struck the bottom side by side at the same time. They then took each other’s hands, and waded with great care in the supposed direction of the canoe. Jasper permitted himself to be led by the Serpent, whose experience in such matters, he felt, was better than his own.
It had become so dark that they had to feel their way, more or less, to where they hoped to find the canoe. They knew that the canoe had come to rest on one of the rocks in the center of the river, where the water was less deep. With this fact as their compass, they tried to keep in this general section. They walked about in the water for nearly fifteen minutes, but seemed to be no nearer the canoe than when they began.
The Delaware was just about to stop and explain to his companion that perhaps it would be better to return to shore and make a fresh start, when he saw the form of an Indian moving about in the water—almost within reach of his arm. Jasper understood at once that the Iroquois was doing just what they were doing, that is, looking for the canoe.
Jasper knew, in addition, that in such a situation, he must trust completely to the greater skill and experience of Chin- gachgook. He therefore kept back, while his friend moved slowly toward the Iroquois, who had, for a moment, disappeared. Suddenly, the Iroquois appeared again, now moving toward them. The noise of the water breaking against the rocks was very great at this point, yet Jasper was able to catch a few of the words the stranger spoke.
“Ugh!” said the Iroquois, speaking in his own language. “The canoe is found, but there was no one to help me. Come, let us raise it from the rock.” x
“Gladly!” said Chingachgook, who understood the language. “Lead, we will follow.”
The noise around them was so great that the stranger noticed nothing unusual in Chingachgook’s manner of speaking. He led the way. Chingachgook and Jasper followed close behind him. The three soon reached the canoe.
The Iroquois then took hold of the front end, Chingachgook placed himself in the center, and Jasper went to the back of the boat, as it was important that the stranger should not know that one of his companions was a paleface
—a fact he could easily have learned by observing the clothes Jasper wore, or even the general appearance of his head.
“Raise it!” said the Iroquois, in the usual short, Indian manner of speaking. The canoe was at once raised from the rock by the three men, held in the air a moment to empty it, and
then placed carefully on the water. The Iroquois who led, being at the front end of the canoe, now took the direction of the east shore, or toward where his friends waited for him.
Since their appearance had not surprised the stranger, Jasper and Chingachgook knew that there must be other Iroquois near them. Yet neither showed any fear; nor did they consider for a moment any other course except to follow the lead of the stranger. The canoe was too valuable a prize to lose at this point, and they still hoped to get possession of it. Failing this, they felt that they had to prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy.
Jasper had drawn his knife and was ready, at a moment’s notice, to cut a hole in the boat’s side, should this become necessary. Chingachgook raised his tomahawk and was about to bury it in the head of the Iroquois. Yet he did not strike, afraid that the death-cry, or the floating body, might bring down upon them the dead man’s friends. Immediately after, he was sorry he had not done this, for the three now found themselves in the center of a party of four more Iroquois, who were also looking for the canoe.
After the usual expressions of satisfaction, the Iroquois all laid hold of the canoe, as if to make sure that they really had it. Then, without a word, they started toward their own shore.
In this manner, Chingachgook and Jasper joined their enemies to approach the east shore. They came shortly to that section where, as in the case of the west shore, the river was too deep to wade. Here they all stopped, waiting until one of the four, who had only just joined the party—the Chief—should decide upon the course to be taken.
“Let all my young men but two—one at each end of the canoe—cross and get their rifles,” said the Iroquois chief. “Let the two push over the boat.”
The moment was one of great danger for Jasper who, however, had the good sense to throw his hat into the canoe and drop back several steps behind the rest of the party. He was naturally favored by his position at the back of the boat, as the Iroquois looked toward the front. Not so with Chingachgook. He stood in the middle of his deadly enemies, and could hardly move without touching them. Yet he was apparently unafraid,
while he waited with the patience of the true Indian for the moment when he must act.
The Iroquois obediently began to carry out the orders of their chief. The one who had first found the canoe was left at the bow in order to guide the boat toward the shore. Jasper was left at the back of the canoe. Chingachgook immediately buried himself so deep in the river that he was unnoticed. The noise in the water, and the calls among themselves proved that the four who had last joined the party were swimming. As soon as he was sure of this, Chingachgook rose, took his earlier position at the side of the boat, and began to think that the moment for action had come.
Yet Chingachgook hesitated to strike a blow at the Iroquois in the bow, since he knew that other Iroquois were no doubt at hand. He therefore permitted the Indian to push off into deep water, and soon all three were swimming in the direction of the east shore.
Comprehension, Discussion, and Vocabulary Review
A. 1. How did Jasper and the Serpent set out toward the second canoe?
2. Where did they think they would find the canoe? How long did they walk about? Did they find the canoe in that time?
3. What did Chingachgook see just then?
4. What did the Iroquois say to Chingachgook? What did he reply?
5. Why didn’t the Iroquois notice anything unusual?
6. What did the three men do?
7. Why did J asper go to the back of the canoe?
8. Why did they go toward the east shore?
9. Why did Jasper and Chingachgook follow the Iroquois?
10. What were Jasper and Chingachgook ready to do? Why didn’t they do it?
11. What did they soon reach? What did the Iroquois chief tell them to do?
12. Why was this a moment of great danger for Jasper and Chingachgook?
B. Use the following words and expressions in sentences of your own :
side by side lead the way
come to rest decide upon
in addition carry out
Instead, however, of helping to push the canoe toward the shore, Jasper and Chingachgook let the canoe be carried slowly downstream. The Iroquois in front felt at first that he was simply struggling against the strength of the current. But as the canoe moved farther and farther downstream, he began to suspect that something was wrong. He looked back and understood, for the first time, that he was alone with enemies.
Immediately he threw himself at the throat of Chingachgook. The two Indians, letting go of the canoe, took hold of each other like animals. They fought savagely, forgetting the dark night and the river in which they swam. They felt only their deep hate for each other, and the desire to kill.
Jasper had now complete control of the canoe, which continued to move rapidly downstream. His first thought was to help Chingachgook, but getting possession of the boat seemed of even greater importance. In addition, though he could hear the two men struggling in the water he had already lost sight of them. He therefore guided the canoe toward the west shore as fast as possible. This he soon reached and succeeded in discovering the rest of the party and in getting his clothes. A few words were enough to explain the situation in which he had left Chingachgook, and the manner in which he had gotten the canoe.
When the story of Chingachgook had been told, a deep silence fell upon the group, as though each was listening for some sound in the distance that would tell him how the struggle between the two Indians had come out.
“Take this paddle, Jasper,” said Pathfinder, though his voice sounded sad. “Follow with your own canoe. It is unsafe to remain here longer.”
“But the Serpent?”
“The Great Serpent is in the hands of his own God and will live or die according to the will of Heaven. We can do him no good, and to remain here long is dangerous.”
A long, loud, but sharp cry came from the opposite shore and cut short his words.
“What is the meaning of that, Master Pathfinder?” asked Cap. “It sounds like the cry of devils, rather than something which came from the throat of a Christian man.”
“Christians they are not and do not wish to be. And in calling them devils you have named them well. The cry is one of victory. The body of the Serpent, dead or alive, is possibly in their power. We can do the chief no good now and must leave this spot at once.”
The two canoes pushed off, moving silently downstream within the shadows of the west bank. The paddles were used only lightly, to hold the canoes within those shadows, for even the slightest sound might tell the enemy of their position.
Though still in fear of what dangers might lie ahead, the party completed the rest of the trip without difficulty.
They supposed that the Big Serpent had fallen into the hands of the Iroquois, and was perhaps dead. Yet, as the canoes moved downstream, now rapidly, now slowly, depending upon the strength and cross-movements of the current, certain sounds, as of someone moving lightly along the bank, caught the sharp ears of Pathfinder.
Hoping that perhaps his good friend had succeeded in escaping from the enemy, Pathfinder suggested that Jasper, who was alone in the second canoe, move in close to the shore. Jasper did as he was directed. After a few minutes, he returned with the Great Serpent sitting proudly in the front of the canoe. They were all greatly pleased to see
Chingachgook again, but Pathfinder was even more touched than the others. His voice shook with emotion as he welcomed back his dear friend.
As the canoes drew alongside, the two men talked in the Indian language for a few minutes, Chingachgook explaining to Pathfinder what had happened. Three Mingo scalps now hung at his belt. He did not, however, boast of these, nor did he mention his death struggle with the Indian in the river. He said simply that as soon as he had gotten the better of his enemy,
he had swum to the east shore, landed with great care, and wound his way in among the Iroquois.
The darkness of the night had helped him, and he was able to move among them unnoticed. Once he had been questioned, but answering that he was Arrowhead, nothing further was said to him. From the conversation of the Iroquois, he soon discovered that their purpose had been to take Mabel and her uncle. Chingachgook also learned that it was the treacherous Arrowhead who had guided the enemy in all of their movements. He had not been able to learn Arrowhead’s purpose in this.
Pathfinder told the rest of his companions no more than he thought necessary, for he had no wish to add to their worries. He said that he felt they should now move quickly, and take advantage of the fact that the Iroquois were probably confused by the happenings of the past hour.
The canoes again stole silently into the river, gaining speed as the men at the paddles, feeling themselves out of reach of the enemy, worked with increasing strength. Mabel had been moved into Jasper’s canoe because of Jasper’s greater skill in guiding the canoes through the treacherous rapids which still lay before them. This move proved fortunate, since Pathfinder’s boat later turned over at this dangerous point in the river. He and Cap were thrown into the water. Cap was later picked up by Jasper’s canoe, but Pathfinder preferred to wade to shore, rather than run the chance of losing his rifle Killdeer. He had to finish the rest of the trip by land, and arrived at the-fort the following day, none the worse for his experience.
The other members of the party continued their course downstream in the remaining canoe. This last part of the trip was short, even though there was always the fear that the enemy might be waiting for them at every turn in the river. No more Iroquois were seen, however. Apparently, they had lost the trail. A distant sound was heard at one point. Fortunately, this turned out to be only the rush of the waters of Lake Ontario striking against the banks. The fort itself then appeared, and soon Mabel and the others were waiting outside its entrance. The soldiers on guard opened the great doors for them and the excited young girl soon found herself in the arms of a father who was almost a stranger to her.