Renard smiled with cold contempt, as he answered:

When the white man dies, he thinks he is at peace; but the red men know how to torture even the ghosts of their enemies. Where is his body? Let the Hurons see his scalp.

He is not dead, but escaped.

Magua shook his head incredulously.

Is he a bird, to spread his wings; or is he a fish, to swim without air! The white chief read in his books, and he believes the Hurons are fools!

Though no fish, The Long Rifle can swim. He floated down the stream when the powder was all burned, and when the eyes of the Hurons were behind a cloud.

And why did the white chief stay? demanded the still incredulous Indian. Is he a stone that goes to the bottom, or does the scalp burn his head?

That I am not stone, your dead comrade, who fell into the falls, might answer, were the life still in him, said the provoked young man, using, in his anger, that boastful language which was most likely to excite the admiration of an Indian. The white man thinks none but cowards desert their women.

Magua muttered a few words, inaudibly, between his teeth, before he continued, aloud:

Can the Delawares swim, too, as well as crawl in the bushes? Where is Le Gros Serpent?

Duncan, who perceived by the use of these Canadian appellations, that his late companions were much better known to his enemies than to himself, answered, reluctantly: He also is gone down with the water.

Le Cerf Agile is not here?

I know not whom you call The Nimble Deer, said Duncan gladly profiting by any excuse to create delay.

Uncas, returned Magua, pronouncing the Delaware name with even greater difficulty than he spoke his English words. Bounding Elk is what the white man says, when he calls to the young Mohican.

Here is some confusion in names between us, Le Renard, said Duncan, hoping to provoke a discussion. Daim is the French for deer, and cerf for stag; élan is the true term, when one would speak of an elk.

Yes, muttered the Indian, in his native tongue; the pale faces are prattling women! they have two words for each thing, while a red-skin will make the sound of his voice speak to him. Then, changing his language, he continued, adhering to the imperfect nomenclature of his provincial instructors. The deer is swift, but weak; the elk is swift, but strong; and the son of Le Serpent is Le Cerf Agile. Has he leaped the river to the woods?

If you mean the younger Delaware, he, too, has gone down with the water.

As there was nothing improbable to an Indian in the manner of the escape, Magua admitted the truth of what he had heard, with a readiness that afforded additional evidence how little he would prize such worthless captives. With his companions, however, the feeling was manifestly different.

The Hurons had awaited the result of this short dialogue with characteristic patience, and with a silence that increased until there was a general stillness in the band. When Heyward ceased to speak, they turned their eyes, as one man, on Magua, demanding, in this expressive manner, an explanation of what had been said. Their interpreter pointed to the river, and made them acquainted with the result, as much by the action as by the few words he uttered. When the fact was generally understood, the

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.