Come, come, thou art as hot a Jack in thy mood, as any in Italy; and as soon movd to be moody, and as soon moody to be moved.
Romeo and Juliet.
Though the trapper manifested some surprise when he perceived that another human figure was approaching him, and that, too, from a direction opposite to the place where the emigrant had made his encampment, it was with the steadiness of one long accustomed to scenes of danger.
This is a man, he said; and one who has white blood in his veins, or his step would be lighter. It will be well to be ready for the worst, as the half-and-halfs,1that one meets, in these distant districts, are altogether more barbarous than the real savage.
He raised his rifle while he spoke, and assured himself of the state of its flint, as well as of the priming by manual examination. But his arm was arrested, while in the act of throwing forward the muzzle of the piece, by the eager and trembling hands of his companion.
For Gods sake, be not too hasty, she said; it may be a friendan acquaintancea neighbour!
A friend! the old man repeated, deliberately releasing himself, at the same time, from her grasp. Friends are rare in any land, and less in this, perhaps, than in another; and the neighbourhood is too thinly settled, to make it likely, that he who comes towards us is even an acquaintance.
But though a stranger, you would not seek his blood!
The trapper earnestly regarded her anxious and frightened features, and then he dropped the butt of his rifle on the ground, like one whose purpose had undergone a sudden change.
No, he said, speaking rather to himself, than to his companion, she is right; blood is not to be spilt, to save the life of one so useless, and so near his time. Let him come on; my skins, my traps, and even my rifle shall be his, if he sees fit to demand them.
He will ask for neither: he wants neither, returned the girl; if he be an honest man, he will surely be content with his own, and ask for nothing that is the property of another.
The trapper had not time to express the surprise he felt at this incoherent and contradictory language, for the man who was advancing, was, already, within fifty feet of the place where they stood.In the mean time, Hector had not been an indifferent witness of what was passing. At the sound of the distant footsteps, he had arisen, from his warm bed at the feet of his master; and now, as the stranger appeared in open view, he stalked slowly towards him, crouching to the earth like a panther about to take his leap.
Call in your dog, said a firm, deep, manly voice, in tones of friendship, rather than of menace; I love a hound, and should be sorry to do an injury to the animal.
You hear what is said about you, pup? the trapper answered; come hither, fool. His growl and his bark are all that is left him now; you may come on, friend; the hound is toothless.
The stranger profited by the intelligence. He sprang eagerly forward, and at the next instant stood at the side of Ellen Wade. After assuring himself of the identity of the latter, by a hasty but keen glance, he turned his attention, with a quickness and impatience, that proved the interest he took in the result, to a similar examination of her companion.
From what cloud have you fallen, my good old man? he said in a careless, off-hand, heedless manner that seemed too natural to be assumed: or do you actually live, hereaway, in the prairies?
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