Oak Openings by James Fenimore Cooper
Thou to whom every faun and satyr flies For willing service; whether to surprise The squatted hare, while in half sleeping fits, Or upward ragged precipices flit To save poor lambkins from the eagle's maw; Or by mysterious enticement draw Bewildered shepherds to their path again;-- --KEATS.
It can easily be understood that the party with the canoes were left by Peter in a state of great anxiety. The distance between the site of the hut and their place of concealment was but little more than a quarter of a mile, and the yell of the savages had often reached their ears, notwithstanding the cover of the woods. This proximity, of itself, was fearful; but the uncertainty that le Bourdon felt on the subject of Peter's real intentions added greatly to his causes of concern. Of course, he knew but little of the sudden change that had come over this mysterious chief's feelings; nor is it very likely that he would have been able to appreciate it, even had the fact been more fully stated. Our hero had very little acquaintance with the dogmas of Christianity, and would have, most probably, deemed it impossible that so great a revolution of purpose could have been so suddenly wrought in the mind of man, had the true state of the case been communicated to him. He would have been ready enough to allow that, with God, nothing is impossible; but might have been disposed to deny the influence of His Holy Spirit, as exhibited in this particular form, for a reason no better than the circumstance that he himself had never been the subject of such a power. All that Peter had said, therefore, served rather to mystify him, than to explain, in its true colors, what had actually occurred. With Margery it was different. Her schooling had been far better than that of any other of the party, and, while she admired the manly appearance, and loved the free, generous character of her husband, she had more than once felt pained at the passing thoughts of his great indifference to sacred things. This feeling in le Bourdon, however, was passive rather than active, and gave her a kind interest in his future welfare, rather than any present pain through acts and words.
But, as respects their confidence in Peter, this young couple were much farther apart than in their religious notions. The bee-hunter had never been without distrust, though his apprehensions had been occasionally so far quieted as to leave him nearly free of them altogether; while his wife had felt the utmost confidence in the chief, from the very commencement of their acquaintance. It would be useless, perhaps, to attempt to speculate on the causes; but it is certain that there are secret sources of sympathy that draw particular individuals toward each other and antipathies that keep them widely separated. Men shall meet for the first time, and feel themselves attracted toward each other, like two drops of water, or repelled, like the corks of an electric machine.
The former had been the case with Peter and Margery. They liked each other from the first, and kind orifices had soon come to increase this feeling. The girl had now seen so much of the Indians, as to regard them much as she did others, or with the discriminations, and tastes, or distastes, with which we all regard our fellow-creatures; feeling no particular cause of estrangement. It is true that Margery would not have been very likely to fall in love with a young Indian, had one come in her way of a suitable age and character; for her American notions on the subject of color might have interposed difficulties; but, apart from the tender sentiments, she could see good and bad qualities in one of the aborigines, as well as in a white man. As a consequence of this sympathy between Peter and Margery, the last had ever felt the utmost confidence in the protection and friendship of the first. This she did, even while the struggle was going on in his breast on the subject of including her in his fell designs, or of making an exception in her favor. It shows the waywardness of our feelings that Margery had never reposed confidence in Pigeonswing, who was devotedly the friend of le Bourdon, and who remained with them for no other reason than a general wish to be of use. Something brusque in his manner, which was much less courteous and polished than that of Peter, had early rendered her dissatisfied with him, and once estranged, she had never felt disposed to be on terms of intimacy sufficient to ascertain his good or bad qualities.
The great change of feeling in Peter was not very clearly understood by Margery, any more than it was by her husband; though, had her attention been drawn more strictly to it, she would have best known how to appreciate it. But this knowledge was not wanting to put her perfectly at peace, so far as apprehension of his doing her harm was concerned. This sense of security she now manifested in a conversation with le Bourdon, that took place soon after Peter had left them.
"I wish we weren't in the hands of this red-skin, Margery," said her husband, a little more off his guard than was his wont.
"Of Peter! You surprise me, Benjamin. I think we could not be in better hands, since we have got this risk to run with the savages. If it was Pigeonswing that you feared, I could understand it."
"I will answer for Pigeonswing with my life."
"I am glad to hear you say so, for I do not half like him. Perhaps I am prejudiced against him. The scalp he took down at the mouth of the river set me against him from the first."
"Do you not know, Margery, that your great friend goes by the name of 'Scalping Peter'?"
"Yes, I know it very well; but I do not believe he ever took a scalp in his life."
"Did he ever tell you as much as that?"
"I can't say that he did; but he has never paraded anything of the sort before my eyes, like Pigeonswing. I do not half like that Chippewa, dear Bourdon."
"No fear of him, Margery; nor, when I come to think it all over, do I see why Peter should have brought us here, if he means anything wrong. The man is so mysterious, that I cannot line him down to his hole."
"My word for it, Bourdon, that when you do, it will take you to a friendly hive. I have put almost as much faith in Peter as in you or Gershom. You heard what he said about Parson Amen and the corporal."
"And how coolly he took it all," answered her husband, shaking his head. "It has been a sudden departure for them, and one would think even an Injin might have felt it more."
Margery's cheek grew pale, and her limbs trembled a little. It was a minute ere she could pursue the discourse.
"This is terrible, but I will not, cannot believe it," she said. "I'm sure, Bourdon, we ought to be very thankful to Peter for having brought us here. Remember how earnestly he listened to the words of the Saviour."
"If he has brought us here with a good intention, I thank him for it. But I scarce know what to think. Pigeonswing has given me many a hint, which I have understood to mean that we ought not to trust this unknown Injin too much."
"So has he given me some of his hints, though I would sooner trust Peter than trust him, any time."
"Our lives are in the care of Providence, I see. If we can really rely on these two Injins, all may be well; for Peter has brought us to an admirable cover, and he says that the Chippewa prepared it."
The young husband and his wife now landed, and began to examine more particularly into the state of the swamp, near their place of concealment. Just at that spot, the bank of the river was higher than in most of the low land, and was dry, with a soil that approached sand. This was the place where the few young pines had grown. The dry ground might have covered four or five acres, and so many trees having been felled, light and air were admitted, in a way to render the place comparatively cheerful. The branches of the felled trees made a sufficient cover in all directions, though the swamp itself was more than that, almost a defence, toward the Openings. The bee-hunter found it was possible, though it was exceedingly difficult, to make his way through it. He ascertained the fact, however, since it might be important to their future movements to know it.
In a word, le Bourdon made a complete reconnaissance of his position. He cleared a spot for the females, and made a sort of hut, that would serve as a protection against rain, and in which they all might sleep at night. There was little doubt that this place must be occupied for some days, if Peter was acting in good faith, since an early movement would infallibly lead to detection. Time must be given to the Indians to precede them, or the great numbers of the savages would scarce leave a hope of escape. A greater sense of security succeeded this examination, and these arrangements. The danger was almost entirely to be apprehended on the side of the river. A canoe passing up-stream might, indeed, discover their place of concealment, but it was scarcely to be apprehended that one would wade through the mud and water of the swamp to approach them in any other direction.
Under these circumstances, le Bourdon began to feel more security in their position. Could he now be certain of Peter, his mind would be comparatively at ease, and he might turn his attention altogether to making the party comfortable. Margery, who seldom quitted his side, reasoned with him on the subject of the mysterious chief's good faith, and by means of her own deep reliance on him, she came at last to the point of instilling some of her own confidence into the mind of her husband. From that time he worked at the shelter for the females, and the other little arrangements their situation rendered necessary, with greater zest, and with far more attention to the details. So long as we are in doubt of accomplishing good, we hesitate about employing our energies; but once let hope revive within us, in the shape of favorable results, and we become new men, bracing every nerve to the task, and working with redoubled spirit; even should it be at the pump of the sinking ship, which, we believe, ranks the highest among the toils that are inflicted on the unfortunate.
For three days and nights did le Bourdon and his friends remain on that dry land of the swamp, without hearing or seeing anything of either Peter or Pigeonswing. The time was growing long, and the party anxious; though the sense of security was much increased by this apparent exemption from danger. Still, uncertainty, and the wish to ascertain the precise state of things in the Openings, were gradually getting to be painful, and it was with great satisfaction that the bee-hunter met his young wife as she came running toward him, on the morning of the fourth day, to announce that an Indian was approaching, by wading in the margin of the river, keeping always in the water so as to leave no trail. Hurrying to a point whence their visitor might be seen, le Bourdon soon perceived it was no other than Pigeonswing. In a few minutes this Indian arrived, and was gladly received by all four of the fugitives, who gathered around him, eager to hear the news.
"You are welcome, Chippewa," cried le Bourdon, shaking his friend cordially by the hand. "We were half afraid we might never see you again. Do you bring us good or evil tidings?"
"Mustn't be squaw, and ask too much question, Bourdon," returned the red-skin, carefully examining the priming of his rifle, in order to make sure it was not wet. "Got plenty venison, eh?"
"Not much venison is left, but we have caught a good many fish, which have helped us along. I have killed a dozen large squirrels, too, with your bow and arrows, which I find you left in your canoe. But--"
"Yes, he good bow, dat--might kill hummin'-bird wid dat bow. Fish good here, eh?" "They are eatable, when a body can get no better. But now, I should think, Pigeonswing, you might give us some of the news."
"Mustn't be squaw, Bourdon--bad for warrior be squaw. Alway bess be man, and be patient, like man. What you t'ink, Bourdon? Got him at last!"
"Got what my good fellow? I see nothing about you, but your arms and ammunition."
"Got scalp of dat Weasel! Wasn't dat well done? Nebber no young warrior take more scalp home dan Pigeonswing carry dis time! Got t'ree; all hid, where Bear's Meat nebber know. Take 'em away, when he get ready to march."
"Well, well, Chippewa--I suppose it will not be easy to reason you out of this feelin'--but what has become of the red-skins who burned my cabin, and who killed the missionary and the corporal?"
"All about--dough must go down river. Look here, Bourdon, some of dem chief fool enough to t'ink bee carry you off on his wing!"
Here the Chippewa looked his contempt for the credulity and ignorance of the others, though he did not express it after the boisterous manner in which a white man of his class might have indulged. To him le Bourdon was a good fellow, but no conjuror, and he understood the taking of the bee too well to have any doubts as to the character of that process. His friend had let him amuse himself by the hour in looking through his spy-glass, so that the mind of this one savage was particularly well fortified against the inroads of the weaknesses that had invaded those of most of the members of the great council. Consequently, he was amused with the notion taken up by some of the others, that le Bourdon had been carried off by bees, though he manifested his amusement in a very Indian-like fashion.
"So much the better," answered le Bourdon; "and I hope they have followed to line me down to my hive in the settlements."
"Most on 'em go--yes, dat true. But some don't go. Plenty of Injins still about dis part of Opening."
"What are we then to do? We shall soon be in want of food. The fish do not bite as they did, and I have killed all the squirrels I can find. You know I dare not use a rifle."
"Don't be squaw, Bourdon. When Injin get marry he grows good deal like squaw at fuss; but dat soon go away. I spose it's just so wid pale-face. Mustn't be squaw, Bourdon. Dat bad for warrior. What you do for eat? Why, see dere," pointing to an object that was floating slowly down the river, the current of which was very sluggish just in that reach. "Dere as fat buck as ever did see, eh?"
Sure enough the Indian had killed a deer, of which the Openings were full, and having brought it to the river, he had constructed a raft of logs, and placing the carcase on it, he had set his game adrift, taking care to so far precede it as to be in readiness to tow it into port. When this last operation was performed, it was found that the Chippewa did not heedlessly vaunt the quality of his prize. What was more, so accurately had he calculated the time, and the means of subsistence in the possession of the fugitives, that his supply came in just as it was most needed. In all this he manifested no more than the care of an experienced and faithful hunter. Next to the war-path, the hunting-ground is the great field for an Indian's glory; deeds and facts so far eclipsing purely intellectual qualifications with savages, as to throw oratory, though much esteemed by them, and wisdom at the Council Fires, quite into the shade. In all this, we find the same propensity among ourselves. The common mind, ever subject to these impulses, looks rather to such exploits as address themselves to the senses and the imagination, than to those qualities which the reason alone can best appreciate; and in this, ignorance asserts its negative power over all conditions of life.
Pigeonswing now condescended to enter on such explanations as the state of the case rendered necessary. His account was sufficiently clear, and it manifested throughout the sagacity and shrewdness of a practised hunter and scout. We shall not attempt to give his words, which would require too much space, but the substance of his story was briefly this:
As has been alluded to already, the principal chiefs, on a suggestion of Bear's Meat, had followed the young men down the Kalamazoo, dividing themselves by a part of their body's crossing the stream at the first favorable spot. In this way the Indians proceeded, sweeping the river before them, and examining every place that seemed capable of concealing a canoe. Runners were kept in constant motion between the several parties, in order to let the state of the search be known to all; and, feigning to be one of these very men, Pigeonswing had held communication with several whom he purposely met, and to whom he imparted such invented information as contributed essentially to send the young men forward on a false scent. In this way, the main body of the savages descended the river some sixty miles, following its windings, in the first day and a half. Here Pigeonswing left them, turning his own face up stream, in order to rejoin his friends. Of Peter he had no knowledge; neither knowing, nor otherwise learning, what had become of the great chief. On his way up stream, Pigeonswing met several more Indians; runners like himself, or as he seemed to be; or scouts kept on the lookout for the fugitives. He had no difficulty in deceiving these men. None of them had been of Crowsfeather's party, and he was a stranger to them all. Ignorant of his real character, they received his information without distrust, and the orders he pretended to convey were obeyed by them without the smallest hesitation. In this way, then, Pigeonswing contrived to send all the scouts he met away from the river, by telling them that there was reason to think the pale- faces had abandoned the stream, and that it was the wish of Bear's Meat that their trail should be looked for in the interior. This was the false direction that he gave to all, thereby succeeding better even than he had hoped in clearing the banks of the Kalamazoo of observers and foes. Nevertheless, many of those whom he knew to be out, some quite in the rear of the party, and others in its front, and at no great distance from them, he did not meet; of course he could not get his false directions to their ears. There were, in fact, so many of the Indians and so few of the whites, that it was an easy matter to cover the path with young warriors, any one party of whom would be strong enough to capture two men and as many women.
Having told the tale of his own doings, Pigeonswing next came to his proposition for the mode of future proceeding. He proposed that the family should get into the canoes that very night, and commence its flight by going down the stream directly toward its foes! This sounded strangely, but there did not seem to be any alternative. A march across the peninsula would be too much for the females, and there was the certainty that their trail would be found. It may seem strange to those who are unacquainted with the American Indian, and his habits, to imagine that, in so large an expanse, the signs of the passage of so small a party might not escape detection; but such was the case. To one unaccustomed to the vigilance and intelligence of these savages, it must appear just as probable that the vessel could be followed through the wastes of the ocean, by means of its wake, as that the footprints should be so indelible as to furnish signs that can be traced for days. Such, however, is the fact, and no one understood it better than the Chippewa. He was also aware that the country toward Ohio, whither the fugitives would naturally direct their course, now that the English were in possession of Detroit, must soon be a sort of battle-ground, to which most of the warriors of that region would eagerly repair. Under all the circumstances, therefore, he advised the flight by means of the river. Le Bourdon reasoned on all he heard, and, still entertaining some of his latent distrust of Peter, and willing to get beyond his reach, he soon acquiesced in the proposition, and came fully into the plan.
It was now necessary to reload the canoes. This was done in the course of the day, and every arrangement was made, so as to be ready for a start as soon as the darkness set in. Everybody was glad to move, though all were aware of the extent of the hazard they ran. The females, in particular, felt their hearts beat, as each, in her husband's canoe, issued out of the cover into the open river. Pigeonswing took the lead, paddling with a slow, but steady sweep of his arm, and keeping as close as was convenient to one bank. By adopting this precaution, he effectually concealed the canoes from the eyes of all on that side of the river, unless they stood directly on its margin, and had the aid of the shadows to help conceal them from any who might happen to be on the other. In this way, then, the party proceeded, passing the site of the hut, and the grove of Openings around it, undetected. As the river necessarily flowed through the lowest land, its banks were wooded much of the way, which afforded great protection to the fugitives; and this so much the more because these woods often grew in swamps where the scouts would not be likely to resort.
About midnight the canoes reached the first rift. An hour was lost in unloading and in reloading the canoes, and in passing the difficulties at that point. As soon as this was done, the party re- embarked, and resorted once more to the use of the paddle, in order to gain a particular sheltered reach of the river previously to the return of light. This was effected successfully, and the party landed.
It now appeared that Pigeonswing had chosen another swamp as a place of concealment for the fugitives to use during the day. These swamps, through which the river wound its way in short reaches, were admirably adapted to such purposes. Dark, sombre, and hardly penetrable on the side of the land, they were little likely to be entered after a first examination. Nor was it at all probable that females, in particular, would seek a refuge in such a place. But the Chippewa had found the means to obviate the natural obstacles of the low land. There were several spots where the water from the river set back into the swamp, forming so many little creeks; and into the largest of one of these he pushed his canoe, the others following where he led. By resorting to such means, the shelter now obtained was more complete, perhaps, than that previously left
Pigeonswing forced his light boat up the shallow inlet, until he reached a bit of dry land, where he brought up, announcing that as the abiding-place during the day. Glad enough was every one to get on shore, in a spot that promised security, after eight hours of unremitting paddling and of painful excitement. Notwithstanding the rifts and carrying-places they had met, and been obliged to overcome, le Bourdon calculated that they had made as many as thirty miles in the course of that one night. This was a great movement, and to all appearances it had been made without detection. As for the Chippewa, he was quite content, and no sooner was his canoe secured, than he lighted his pipe and sat down to his enjoyment with an air of composure and satisfaction.
"And here, you think, Pigeonswing, that we shall be safe during the day?" demanded le Bourdon, approaching the fallen tree on which the Indian had taken his seat.
"Sartain--no Pottawattamie come here. Too wet. Don't like wet. An't duck, or goose--like dry land, juss like squaw. Dis good 'baccy, Bourdon--hope you got more for friend."
"I have enough for us all, Pigeonswing, and you shall have a full share. Now, tell me; what will be your next move, and where do you intend to pass the morrow?"
"Juss like diss. Plenty of swamp, Bourdon, on Kekalamazoo. [Footnote: This is the true Indian word, though the whites have seen fit to omit the first syllable.] Run canoe in swamp; den safe 'nough. Injins won't look 'ere, 'cause he don't know whereabout look. Don't like swamp. Great danger down at mouth of river."
"So it has seemed to me, Chippewa. The Injins must be there in a strong force, and we shall find it no easy matter to get through them. How do you propose to do it?" "Go by in night. No udder way. When can't see, can't see. Dere plenty of rush dere; dat good t'ing, and, p'raps, dat help us. Rush good cover for canoe. Expec', when we get down 'ere, to get some scalp, too. Plenty of Pottawattamie about dat lodge, sartain; and it very hard if don't get some on him scalp. You mean stop, and dig up cache; eh, Bourdon?"
The cool, quiet manner in which Pigeonswing revealed his own plans, and inquired into those of his friend, had, at least, the effect to revive the confidence of le Bourdon. He could not think the danger very great so long as one so experienced as the Chippewa felt so much confidence in his own future proceedings; and, after talking a short time longer with this man, the bee-hunter went to seek Margery, in order to impart to her a due portion of his own hopes.
The sisters were preparing the breakfast. This was done without the use of fire, it being too hazardous to permit smoke to rise above the tops of the trees. Many is the camp that has been discovered by the smoke, which can be seen at a great distance; and it is a certain sign of the presence of man, when it ascends in threads, or such small columns as denote a domestic fire beneath. This is very different from the clouds that float above the burning prairies, and which all, at once, impute to their true origin. The danger of using fire had been so much guarded against by our fugitives, that the cooking of the party had been done at night; the utmost caution having been used to prevent the fire itself from being seen, and care taken to extinguish it long before the return of day. A supply of cold meat was always on hand, and had it not been, the fugitives would have known how to live on berries, or, at need, to fast; anything was preferable, being exposed to certain capture.
As soon as the party had broken their fast, arrangements were made for recruiting nature by sleep. As for Pigeonswing, Indian-like, he had eaten enormously, no reasonable quantity of venison sufficing to appease his appetite; and when he had eaten, he lay down in the bottom of his canoe and slept. Similar dispositions were made of their persons by the rest, and half an hour after the meal was ended, all there were in a profound sleep. No watch was considered necessary, and none was kept.
The rest of the weary is sweet. Long hours passed, ere any one there awoke; but no sooner did the Chippewa move than all the rest were afoot. It was now late in the day, and it was time to think of taking the meal that was to sustain them through the toil and fatigues of another arduous night. This was done; the necessary preparations being made for a start ere the sun had set. The canoes were then shoved as near the mouth of the inlet as it was safe to go, while the light remained. Here they stopped, and a consultation took place, as to the manner of proceeding.
No sooner did the shades of evening close around the place than the fugitives again put forth. The night was clouded and dark, and so much of the way now lay through forests that there was little reason to apprehend detection. The chief causes of delay were the rifts, and the portages, as had been the case the night before. Luckily, le Bourdon had been up and down the stream so often as to be a very tolerable pilot in its windings. He assumed the control, and by midnight the greatest obstacle to that evening's progress was overcome. At the approach of day, Pigeonswing pointed out another creek, in another swamp, where the party found a refuge for the succeeding day. In this manner four nights were passed on the river, and as many days in swamps, without discovery. The Chippewa had nicely calculated his time and his distances, and not the smallest mistake was made. Each morning a place of shelter was reached in sufficient season; and each night the fugitives were ready for the start as the day shut in. In this manner, most of the river was descended, until a distance that could be easily overcome in a couple of hours of paddling alone remained between the party and the mouth of the stream. Extreme caution was now necessary, for signs of Indians in the neighborhood had been detected at several points in the course of the last night's work. On one occasion, indeed, the escape was so narrow as to be worth recording.
It was at a spot where the stream flowed through a forest denser than common, that Pigeonswing heard voices on the river, ahead of him. One Indian was calling to another, asking to be set across the stream in a canoe. It was too late to retreat, and so much uncertainty existed as to the nearness, or distance, of the danger, that the Chippewa deemed it safest to bring all three of his canoes together, and to let them float past the point suspected, or rather known, to be occupied by enemies. This was done, with the utmost care. The plan succeeded, though not without running a very great risk. The canoes did float past unseen, though there was a minute of time when le Bourdon fancied by the sounds that savages were talking to each other, within a hundred feet of his ears. Additional security, however, was felt in consequence of the circumstance, since the pursuers must imagine the river below them to be free from the pursued.
The halt that morning was made earlier than had been the practice previously. This was done because the remaining distance was so small that, in continuing to advance, the party would have incurred the risk of reaching the mouth of the river by daylight. This was to be avoided on every account, but principally because it was of great importance to conceal from the savages the direction taken. Were the chiefs certain that their intended victims were on Lake Michigan, it would be possible for them to send parties across the isthmus, that should reach points on Lake Huron, days in advance of the arrival of the bee-hunter and his friends in the vicinity of Saginaw, or Pointe aux Barques, for instance, and where the canoes would be almost certain to pass near the shore, laying their ambushes to accomplish these ends. It was thought very material, therefore, to conceal the movements, even after the lake might be reached, though le Bourdon had not a doubt of his canoes much outsailing those of the savages. The Indians are not very skilful in the use of sails, while the bee- hunter knew how to manage a bark canoe in rough water, with unusual skill. In the common acceptation, he was no sailor; but, in his own peculiar craft, there was not a man living who could excel him in dexterity or judgment.
The halting-place that morning was not in a swamp, for none offered at a suitable distance from the mouth of the river. On the contrary, it was in a piece of Opening, that was tolerably well garnished with trees, however, and through which ran a small brook that poured its tribute into the Kalamazoo. The Chippewa had taken notice of this brook, which was large enough to receive the canoes, where they might be concealed in the rushes. A favorable copse, surrounded with elders, afforded a covered space on shore, and these advantages were improved for an encampment.
Instead of seeking his rest as usual, on reaching this cover, Pigeonswing left the party on a scout. He walked up the brook some distance, in order to conceal his trail, and then struck across the Opening, taking the direction westward, or toward the river's mouth. As for le Bourdon and his friends, they ate and slept as usual, undisturbed; but arose some hours before the close of day.
Thus far, a great work had been accomplished. The canoes had descended the stream with a success that was only equalled by the hardihood of the measure, conducted by an intelligence that really seemed to amount to an instinct Pigeonswing carried a map of the Kalamazoo in his head, and seemed never at a loss to know where to find the particular place he sought. It is true, he had roamed through those Openings ever since he was a child; and an Indian seldom passes a place susceptible of being made of use to his habits, that he does not take such heed of its peculiarities, as to render him the master of all its facilities.
Margery was now full of hope, while the bee-hunter was filled with apprehensions. She saw all things couleur de rose, for she was young, happy, and innocent; but he better understood that they were just approaching the most serious moment of their flight. He knew the vigilance of the American savage, and could not deceive himself on the subject of the danger they must run. The mouth of the river was just the place that, of all others, would be the closest watched, and to pass it would require not only all their skill and courage, but somewhat of the fostering care of Providence. It might be done with success, though the chances were much against