Before these fields were shorn and till'd,Leaving the unsuspecting Heyward and his confiding companions to penetrate still deeper into a forest that contained such treacherous inmates, we must use an author's privilege, and shift the scene a few miles to the westward of the place where we have last seen them.
On that day, two men were lingering on the banks of a small but rapid stream, within an hour's journey of the encampment of Webb, like those who awaited the appearance of an absent person, or the approach of some expected event. The vast canopy of woods spread itself to the margin of the river, overhanging the water, and shadowing its dark current with a deeper hue. The rays of the sun were beginning to grow less fierce, and the intense heat of the day was lessened, as the cooler vapors of the springs and fountains rose above their leafy beds, and rested in the atmosphere. Still that breathing silence, which marks the drowsy sultriness of an American landscape in July, pervaded the secluded spot, interrupted only by the low voices of the men, the occasional and lazy tap of a woodpecker, the discordant cry of some gaudy jay, or a swelling on the ear, from the dull roar of a distant waterfall. These feeble and broken sounds were, however, too familiar to the foresters to draw their attention from the more interesting matter of their dialogue. While one of these loiterers showed the red skin and wild accounterments of a native of the woods, the other exhibited, through the mask of his rude and nearly savage equipments, the brighter, though sun-burned and long-faced complexion of one who might claim descent from a European parentage. The former was seated on the end of a mossy log, in a posture that permitted him to heighten the effect of his earnest language, by the calm but expressive gestures of an Indian engaged in debate. his body, which was nearly naked, presented a terrific emblem of death, drawn in intermingled colors of white and black. His closely-shaved head, on which no other hair than the well-known and chivalrous scalping tuft1 was preserved, was without ornament of any kind, with the exception of a solitary eagle's plume, that crossed his crown, and depended over the left shoulder. A tomahawk and scalping knife, of English manufacture, were in his girdle; while a short military rifle, of that sort with which the policy of the whites armed their savage allies, lay carelessly across his bare and sinewy knee. The expanded chest, full formed limbs, and grave countenance of this warrior, would denote that he had reached the vigor of his days, though no symptoms of decay appeared to have yet weakened his manhood.
The frame of the white man, judging by such parts as were not concealed by his clothes, was like that
of one who had known hardships and exertion from his earliest youth. His person, though muscular,
was rather attenuated than full; but every nerve and muscle appeared strung and indurated by unremitted
exposure and toil. He wore a hunting shirt of forest-green, fringed with faded yellow,2 and a summer
cap of skins which had been shorn of their fur. He also bore a knife in a girdle of wampum, like that
which confined the scanty garments of the Indian, but no tomahawk. His moccasins were ornamented
after the gay fashion of the natives, while the only part of his under dress which appeared below the
hunging frock was a pair of buckskin leggings, that laced at the sides, and which were gartered above
the knees, with the sinews of a deer. A pouch and horn completed his personal accouterments, though
a rifle of great length,3 which the theory of the more ingenious whites had taught them was the most
dangerous of all firearms, leaned against a neighboring sapling. The eye of the hunter, or scout, whichever
he might be, was small, quick, keen, and restless, roving while he spoke, on every side of him, as if in
quest of game, or distrusting the sudden approach of some lurking enemy. Notwithstanding the symptoms
of habitual suspicion, his countenance was not only without guile, but at the moment at which he is introduced,
it was charged with an expression of sturdy honesty.
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