“I have been long on earth, and never I hope nigher to heaven, than I am at this moment,” returned the trapper; “my dwelling, if dwelling I may be said to have, is not far distant. Now may I take the liberty with you, that you are so willing to take with others? Whence do you come, and where is your home?”

“Softly, softly; when I have done with my catechism, it will be time to begin with yours. What sport is this, you follow by moonlight? You are not dodging the buffaloes at such an hour!”

“I am, as you see, going from an encampment of travellers, which lies over yonder swell in the land, to my own wigwam; in doing so, I wrong no man.”

“All fair and true. And you got this young woman to show you the way, because she knows it so well and you know so little about it yourself!”

“I met her, as I have met you, by accident. For ten tiresome years have I dwelt on these open fields, and never, before to-night, have I found human beings with white skins on them, at this hour. If my presence here gives offence, I am sorry; and will go my way. It is more than likely that when your young friend has told her story, you will be better given to believe mine.”

“Friend!” said the youth, lifting a cap of skins from his head, and running his fingers leisurely through a dense mass of black and shaggy locks, “if I have ever laid eyes on the girl before to-night, may I—”

“You’ve said enough, Paul,” interrupted the female, laying her hand on his mouth, with a familiarity that gave something very like the lie direct, to his intended asseveration. “Our secret will be safe, with this honest old man. I know it by his looks, and kind words.”

“Our secret! Ellen, have you forgot—”

“Nothing. I have not forgotten any thing I should remember. But still I say we are safe with this honest trapper.”

“Trapper! is he then a trapper? Give me your hand, father; our trades should bring us acquainted.”

“There is little call for handicrafts in this region,” returned the other, examining the athletic and active form of the youth, as he leaned carelessly and not ungracefully, on his rifle; “the art of taking the creaturs of God, in traps and nets, is one that needs more cunning than manhood; and yet am I brought to practise it, in my age! But it would be quite as seemly, in one like you, to follow a pursuit better becoming your years and courage.”

“I! I never took even a slinking mink or a paddling musk-rat in a cage; though I admit having peppered a few of the dark-skin’d devils, when I had much better have kept my powder in the horn and the lead in its pouch. Not I, old man; nothing that crawls the earth is for my sport.”

“What then may you do for a living, friend? for little profit is to be made in these districts, if a man denies himself his lawful right in the beasts of the fields.”

“I deny myself nothing. If a bear crosses my path, he is soon the mere ghost of Bruin. The deer begin to nose me; and as for the buffaloe, I have kill’d more beef, old stranger, than the largest butcher in all Kentuck.”

“You can shoot, then!” demanded the trapper, with a glow of latent fire, glimmering about his eyes; “is your hand true, and your look quick?”

“The first is like a steel trap, and the last nimbler than a buck-shot. I wish it was hot noon, now, grand’ther; and that there was an acre or two of your white swans or of black feathered ducks going south, over our heads; you or Ellen, here, might set your heart on the finest in the flock, and my character against a

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