Is, then, our danger so pressing
? asked Cora.
He who makes strange sounds, and gives them out for man's information, alone knows our danger. I
should think myself wicked, unto rebellion against His will, was I to burrow with such warnings in the air!
Even the weak soul who passes his days in singing is stirred by the cry, and, as he says, is ready to go
forth to the battle. If 'twere only a battle, it would be a thing understood by us all, and easily managed; but
I have heard that when such shrieks are atween heaven and 'arth, it betokens another sort of warfare
If all our reasons for fear, my friend, are confined to such as proceed from supernatural causes, we
have but little occasion to be alarmed
, continued the undisturbed Cora,
are you certain that our enemies
have not invented some new and ingenious method to strike us with terror, that their conquest may become
, returned the scout, solemnly,
I have listened to all the sounds of the woods for thirty years, as
a man will listen whose life and death depend on the quickness of his ears. There is no whine of the
panther, no whistle of the catbird, nor any invention of the devilish Mingoes, that can cheat me! I have
heard the forest moan like mortal men in their affliction; often, and again, have I listened to the wind
playing its music in the branches of the girdled trees; and I have heard the lightning cracking in the air
like the snapping of blazing brush as it spitted forth sparks and forked flames; but never have I thought
that I heard more than the pleasure of him who sported with the things of his hand. But neither the
Mohicans, nor I, who am a white man without a cross, can explain the cry just heard. We, therefore,
believe it a sign given for our good
It is extraordinary
! said Heyward, taking his pistols from the place where he had laid them on entering;
be it a sign of peach or a signal of war, it must be looked to. Lead the way, my friend; I follow
On issuing from their place of confinement, the whole party instantly experienced a grateful renovation
of spirits, by exchanging the pent air of the hiding-place for the cool and invigorating atmosphere which
played around the whirlpools and pitches of the cataract. A heavy evening breeze swept along the surface
of the river, and seemed to drive the roar of the falls into the recesses of their own cavern, whence it
issued heavily and constant, like thunder rumbling beyond the distant hills. The moon had risen, and its
light was already glancing here and there on the waters above them; but the extremity of the rock where
they stood still lay in shadow. With the exception of the sounds produced by the rushing waters, and
an occasional breathing of the air, as it murmured past them in fitful currents, the scene was as still
as night and solitude could make it. In vain were the eyes of each individual bent along the opposite
shores, in quest of some signs of life, that might explain the nature of the interruption they had heard.
Their anxious and eager looks were baffled by the deceptive light, or rested only on naked rocks, and
straight and immovable trees.
Here is nothing to be seen but the gloom and quiet of a lovely evening
, whispered Duncan;
should we prize such a scene, and all this breathing solitude, at any other moment, Cora! Fancy yourselves
in security, and what now, perhaps, increases your terror, may be made conducive to enjoyment - -
! interrupted Alice.
The caution was unnecessary. One more the same sound arose, as if from the bed of the river, and
having broken out of the narrow bounds of the cliffs, was heard undulating through the forest, in distant
and dying cadences.