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stood. Repeated explosions, and hol- scious of having any object in view. low murmurings of irregular loudness, The ice every where creaked under were succeeded by a tremendous sound, my feet, and I knew that death awaitlike that of rocks bursting asunder. ed me, whether I fled away or remainThe ice trembled beneath my feet, anded on the same spot. I felt as one the next moment it was disunited by a would do, if forced by some persecutvast chasm, which opened itself within ing fiend to range over the surface of a a few yards of me. The water of the black and shoreless ocean ; and aware, lake rushed upwards through the gap that whenever his tormentor withdrew with foaming fury, and began to flood his sustaining power, he would sink the surface all around.
down and be suffocated among the bilI started backwards, and ran, as I lows that struggled beneath him. conceived, towards the shore; but my At last night came on, and, exhaustprogress was soon stopped by one of ed by fatigue and mental excitement, I Those weak parts of the ice called air- wrapped myself in my cloak, and lay holes. While walking cautiously round down upon the ice. It was so dark • it, my mind grew somewhat composed, that I could not have moved one step and I resolved not to advance any far- without running the risk of falling into ther, until I had fixed upon some way
the lake. I almost wished that the of regulating my course ; but I found drowsiness, produced by intense cold, this to be impossible. Í vainly endea- would begin to affect me; but I did youred to discern land, and the moan- not feel in the slightest degree chilled, ing of the wind among the distant and the temperance of the air was in forests alone indicated that there was reality above freezing. I had lajn only any at all near me. Strong and irregu- a few minutes when I heard the howl lar blasts, loaded with snow and sleet, of a wolf. The sound was indescribswept wildly along, involving every ably delightful to my ear, and I started thing in obscurity, and bewildering my up with the intention of hastening to steps with malignant influence. Í the spot from whence it seemed to prosometimes fancied I saw the spot where ceed; but hopeless as my situation our post was situated, and even the then was, my heart shrunk within me trees and houses upon it; but the next when I contemplated the dangers I moment a gust of wind would whirl would encounter in making such an away the fantastic shaped fogs that had attempt. My courage failed, and I produced the agreeable illusion, and resumed my former position, and listreduce me to actionless despair. I ened to the undulations of the water fired my gun repeatedly, in the hope as they undermined, and beat against that the report would bring some one the lower part of the ice on which I lay. to my assistance; however, the shores About midnight the storm ceased, alone acknowledged, by feeble echoes, and most of the clouds gradually forthat the sound had reached them. sook the sky, while the rising moon
The storm increased in violence, and dispelled the darkness that had preat intervals the sound of the ice break- viously prevailed. However, a thick ing up, rolled upon my ear like distant haze covered the heavens, and renderthunder, and seemed to mutter appal- ed her light dim and ghastly, and similing threats. Alarm and fatigue made lar to that shed during an eclipse. A me dizzy, and I threw down my gun succession of noises had continued with and rushed forwards in the face of the little interruption for several hours, drifting showers, which were now so and at last the ice beneath me began thick as to affect my respiration. I to move. I started up, and, on looking soon lost all sense of fear, and began around, saw that the whole surface of to feel a sort of frantic delight in strug- the lake was in a state of agitation. gling against the careering blasts. I My eyes became dim, and I stretched hurried on, sometimes running along out my arms to catch hold of some obthe brink of a circular opening in the ject, and felt as if all created things ice, and sometimes leaping across were passing away. The hissing, frightful chasms-all the while uncon- grinding, and crashing, produced by
the different masses of ice coming into whenever the cause of disturbance collision, were tremendous. Large ceased to operate. fragments sometimes got wedged to The longest and last of these slumgether, and impeded the progress of bers was broken by a terrible shock, those behind them, which being push- which my ice island received, and ed forward by others still farther back, which threw me from my seat, and were forced upon the top of the first, nearly precipitated me into the lake. and fantastic-shaped pyramids and On regaining my former position, and towers could be indistinctly seen rising looking round, I perceived to my joy among the mists of night, and momen- and astonishment, that I was in a ritarily changing their forms, and finally ver. The water between me and the disorganizing themselves with magical shore was still frozen over, and was rapidity and fearful tumult. At other about thirty yards wide, consequently times, an immense mass of ice would the fragment of ice on which I stood start up into a perpendicular position, could not approach any nearer than and continue gleaming in the moon- this. After a moment of irresolution, shine for a little period, and then van- I leaped upon the frozen surface, and ish like a spectre among the abyss of began to run towards the bank of the waters beneath it. The piece of ice river. My feet seemed scarcely to on which I had first taken my position, touch the ice, so great was my terror happened to be very large and thick, lest it should give way beneath me; but other fragments were soon forced but I reached the shore in safety, and above it, and formed a mound six or dropped down completely exhausted seven feet high, on the top of which I by fatigue and agitation. stood, contemplating the awful scene It was now broad day-light, but I around me, and feeling as if I no long- neither saw animals nor human beings, er had the least connection with the nor any vestiges of them. Thick world, or retained any thing human or forests covered the banks of the river, earthly in my composition.
and extended back as far as my eye The wind, which was pretty strong, could reach. I feared to penetrate drove the ice down the lake very fast. them, lest I should get bewildered in My alarms and anxieties had gradually their recesses, and accordingly walked become less intense, and I was several along the edge of the stream. It was times overcome by a sort of stupor; not long before I discovered a column during the continuance of which, im- of smoke rising among the trees. I agination and reality combined their immediately directed my steps towards distracting influence. At one time I the spot, and, on reaching it, found a fancied that the snow still drifted as party seated round a fire. violently as ever, and that I distin They received me with an air of inguished, through its hazy medium, a difference and unconcern, not very band of Indian chiefs walking past me agreeable or encouraging to one in my upon the surface of the lake. Their destitute condition. However, I plasteps were noiseless, and they went ced myself in their circle, and tried to along with wan and dejected looks and discover to what tribe they belonged, downcast eyes, and paid no attention by addressing them in the different Into my exclamations and entreaties for dian languages with which I was acrelief. At another, I thought I was quainted. I soon made myself intellifloating in the middle of the ocean, and gible and related the circumstances that a blazing sun flamed in the cloud- that had brought me so unexpectedly less sky, and made the ice which sup- among them. At the conclusion of ported me melt so fast, that I heard my narrative, the men pulled their streams of water pouring from its sides, tomahawk pipes from their mouths, and felt myself every moment descends and looked at each other with increduing towards the surface of the billows. lous smiles. I did not make any atI was usually wakened from such tempt to convince them of the truth of dreams by some noise or violent con- what I said, knowing it would be vain eussion, but always relapsed into them to do so, but asked for something to
eat. After some deliberation they you are. You have come to trade with gave me a small quantity of pemican, us, and I suppose your companions but with an unwillingness that did not have concealed themselves at a disevince such a spirit of hospitality as I tance, lest the appearance of a number had usually met with among Indians. of white men should intimidate us.
The party consisted of three men, They are right. Experience has taught two women, and a couple of children, us to fear white men; but their art, not all of whom sat or lay near the fire in their strength, makes us tremble. Go absolute idleness; and their minds away, we do not wish to have any seemed to be as unoccupied as their bo- transactions with you. We are not to dies, for nothing resembling conversa- be betrayed or overpowered by liquid tion ever passed between them. The fire,* or any thing else you can offer weather was dreary and comfortless. None of us shall harm you. I A thick small rain, such as usually have spoken the truth, for I have not falls in North America during a thaw, two mouths." filled the air, and the wigwam under When he had finished this oration, which we sat afforded but an imperfect he remained silent, and I felt at a loss shelter from it. I passed the time in what to reply. At last I repeated my the most gloomy and desponding re- story, and endeavoured to convince flections. I saw no means by which I him that I neither bad any companions, could return to the trading post, and nor was at all in a situation to trade the behaviour of the Indians made me with his people, or do them the slightdoubt if they would be inclined to grant est injury. He listened calmly to my me that support and protection with- arguments, and seemed to think there out which I could not long exist. One was some weight in them; and the man gazed upon me so constantly and young man already mentioned stepped steadily, that his scrutiny annoyed me, forward, and said, “Let the stranger and attracted my particular attention. go with us,—the bones of my father He appeared to be the youngest of the cry out against our leaving him behind. party, and was very reserved and un I am young, but I dare to advise.prepossessing in his aspect, and seem- Listen for once to the counsels of Thaed to know me, but I could not recol- kakawerenté.” The first speaker lect of ever having seen him before. then waved his hand, as a signal that I
In the afternoon the rain ceased, and should follow them and the whole party the Indians began to prepare for travel- proceeded in the same order as before. ling. When they had accoutered Our leader pushed forward, appathemselves, they all rose from the rently without the least hesitation, ground without speaking a word, and though, accustomed as I was to the walked away, one man taking the lead. woods, I could not discover the slightI perceived that they did not intend est trace of a footpath. He sometimes that I should be of the party, but I fol- slackened his pace for a few moments, lowed them immediately, and, address- and looked thoughtfully at the trees, ing myself to the person who preceded and then advanced as fast as before. the others, told him, that I must ac- None of the party spoke a word; and company them, as I neither could live the rustling of the dry leaves under in the woods alone, nor knew in what their feet was the only sound that dispart of the country I was. He stop- turbed the silence of the forest. Though ped and surveyed me from lead to freed from the fear of perishing for foot, saying, " Where is your gun ? want, I could not reflect upon my situWhere is your knife ? Where is your tion without uneasiness and alarm; tomahawk?" I replied, that I had lost and my chance of being able to return them among the ice. “My friend,” to the post seemed to diminish every returned he, “ don't make the Great step I took. I felt excessively fatigued, Spirit angry, by saying what is not. not having enjoyed any natural That man knows who you are," point- composed sleep the preceding night, ing to the Indian who had observed and the roughness of the ground over me so closely. “We all know who
* Spirituous liquors.
which we passed, added to my weari- lie my words? Thakakawerenté, who ness in an intolerable degree; but I requested that you might be allowed to could not venture to rest by the way, follow our steps, says that his father lest I should lose sight of the Indians was murdered by a party of people unfor ever.
der your command, about nine moons Soon after sunset, we stopped for ago. This may be true, and you at the night, and the men set about erect- the same time may be guiltless; for ing a wigwam, while the women kin- we cannot always controul those who dled a fire. One of our party had kills are placed under our authority. He ed a small decr, in the course of our tells me that the spirit of the old man journey, and he immediately proceed- has twice appeared to him in his dreams ed to skin the animal, that a portion of to-night, desiring him to put you to it might be dressed for supper. When death. He has gone to repose himself the venison was ready, they all sat again, and if his father visits him a down and partook of it, and a liberal third time during sleep, he will certainallowance was handed to me; but the ly kill you whenever he awakes. You same silence prevailed that had hither- must, therefore, hasten away, if you to been observed among them, and the wish to live any longer.” “ What can comforts of a plentiful repast after a I do?” cried I; “ death awaits me long journey, did not appear in the whether I remain here, or fly from least degree to promote social commu- Thakakawerenté. It is impossible for nication. The meal being finished, me to reach home alone.” “ Be pathe men filled their pipes with odorife- tient,” returned Outalisso, " and I will rous herbs, and bey'ın to smoke in the try to save you. Not far from hence, most sedate manner, and the women the roots of a large oak, which has been prepared beds by spreading skins upon blown down by the wind, stretch high the ground. The composed demean- into the air, and may be seen at a great our of the party harmonized well with distance. You must go there, and the silence and gloominess of the night; wait till I come to you. Keep the and it seemed that the awful solitude mossy side of the trees on your left of the forests in which they lived, and hand, and you will find the place withthe sublime and enduring forms under out any difficulty.” which nature continually presented
Outalisso motioned me to hurry herself to their eyes, had impressed away, and I departed with a palpitatthem with a sense of their own insig- ing heart, and plunged into the recesnificance, and of the transitoriness of ses of the forest, and regulated my their daily occupations and enjoyments, course in the manner he directed. The and rendered them thoughtful, taciturn, moon was rising, and I could see to a and unsusceptible. I seated myself at considerable distance around.
The the root of a large tree near the wig. rustling of the dry leaves among my wam, and continued observing its in- feet often made me think that some mates, till, overcome by fatigue, I sunk one walked close behind me, and I into a deep sleep.
scarcely dared to look back, lest I About midnight I was awakened by should see an uplifted tomahawk desome one pulling my hand, and, on scending upon my head. I sometimes looking up, I perceived the Indian who fancied I observed Thakakawerenté had opposed my accompanying them, lurking among the brushwood, and and whose naine was Outalisso, stand stopped short till imagination conjured ing beside me. He put his finger on up his form in a different part of the his lips, by way of enjoining silence, forest, and rendered me irresolute and motioned that I should rise and which phantom I should endeavour to follow him. I obeyed, and he led me avoid. behind a large tree which grew at a I reached the tree sooner than I exlittle distance from the wigwam, and pected : It lay along the ground, and said in a low voice, “ Listen to me, my its immense roots projected from the friend.— I told you that you would re- trunk, at right angles, to the height of ceive no harm from us; and shall I be- twelve or fourteen feet, their interstices
being so filled with earth that it was ception where I was, but totally forgot impossible to see through them. the circumstances connected with my
Í sat down, and found the agitation situation. A slight noise at length of my spirits gradually subside, under startled me, and I awaked full of terthe tranquillizing influence of the scene. ror, but could not conceive why I Not a breath of wind shook the trees, should feel such alarm, until recollecthe leafless and delicately-fibred boughs tion made the form of Thakakawerenté of which, when viewed against the flash upon my mind. I saw a number cloudless sky, seemed like a sable net- of indistinct forms moving backwards work spread overhead. The nests and forwards, a little way from me, which the birds had made the preced- and heard something beating gently ing summer, still remained among the upon the ground. A small cloud floatbranches, silent, deserted, and unshel- ed before the moon, and I waited with tered, making the loneliness of the breathless impatience till it passed forest, as it were, visible to the mind; away, and allowed her full radiance 10 while a withered leaf sometimes drop- reach the earth. I then discovered ped slowly down—a sad memorial of that five deer had come to drink at the the departed glories of the vegetable rivulet, and that the noise of them world. A small rivulet ran within a striking their fore-feet against its banks little distance of me, but its course was had aroused me. They stood gazing so concealed by long grass, that I at me with an aspect so meek and would bave been aware of its existence beautiful, that they almost seemed to by the murmuring of its waters only, incorporate with the moonlight, but, had it not glittered dazzlingly in the after a little time, started away, and moonshine at one spot, while flowing disappeared among the mazes of the over a large smooth stone. When I forest. looked into the recesses of the forest, I When I surveyed the heavens, I saw the trees ranged before each other perceived by the alteration which had like colossal pillars, and gradually taken place in their appearance, that I blending their stems together, until had slept a considerable time. The they formed a dark and undefined mass. moon had begun to descend towards In some places, a scathed trunk, whi- the horizon; a new succession of stars tened with the moss of successive cen- glittered upon the sky; the respective turies, stood erect in spectral grandeur, positions of the different constellations like a being whom immense age and were changed; and one of the planets associations, rivetted to long-past times, which had been conspicuous from its had isolated from the sympathies of dazzling lustre, a few hours before, his fellow-mortals. As the moon grad- had set, and was no longer distinguishually rose on the arch of heaven, her able. It was overpowering to think light fell at different angles, and the as- that all these changes had been effectpect of the woods was continually ed without noise, tumult, or confusion, changing. New and grander groupes and that worlds performed their revoof trees came into view, and mighty lutions, and travelled through the oaks and chesnuts seemed to stalk for- boundlessness of space, with a silence ward, with majestic slowness, from the too profound to awaken an echo in the surrounding obscurity, and, after a noiseless depths of the forest, or distime, to give place to a succession of turb the slumbers of a feeble human others, by retiring amidst the darkness being. from which they had at first emerged. I waited impatiently for the appearTremours of awe began to pervade ance of Outalisso, who had not informmy frame, and I almost expected that ed me at what hour I might expect to the tones of some superhuman voice see him. The stars now twinkled fiewould break the appalling silence that bly amidst the faint glow of dawn that prevailed in the wilderness around me. began to light the eastern horizon, and
My mind, by degrees, became so the setting moon appeared behind some calm, that I dropped into a half slum- pines, and threw a ricis yellow radiance ber, during which I had a distinct per- upon their dark-green boughs. Gentle