James Fenimore Cooper: The Deerslayer

28. Chapter XXVIII. (continued)

"The tarms are onadmissable, woman, and though I feel for your losses, which must he hard to bear, the tarms cannot be accepted. As to givin' you ven'son, in case we lived near enough together, that would be no great expl'ite; but as for becomin' your husband, and the father of your children, to be honest with you, I feel no callin' that-a-way."

"Look at this boy, cruel pale-face; he has no father to teach him to kill the deer, or to take scalps. See this girl; what young man will come to look for a wife in a lodge that has no head? There are more among my people in the Canadas, and the Killer of Deer will find as many mouths to feed as his heart can wish for."

"I tell you, woman," exclaimed Deerslayer, whose imagination was far from seconding the appeal of the widow, and who began to grow restive under the vivid pictures she was drawing, "all this is nothing to me. People and kindred must take care of their own fatherless, leaving them that have no children to their own loneliness. As for me, I have no offspring, and I want no wife. Now, go away Sumach; leave me in the hands of your chiefs, for my colour, and gifts, and natur' itself cry out ag'in the idee of taking you for a wife."

It is unnecessary to expatiate on the effect of this downright refusal of the woman's proposals. If there was anything like tenderness in her bosom -and no woman was probably ever entirely without that feminine quality - it all disappeared at this plain announcement. Fury, rage, mortified pride, and a volcano of wrath burst out, at one explosion, converting her into a sort of maniac, as it might beat the touch of a magician's wand. Without deigning a reply in words, she made the arches of the forest ring with screams, and then flew forward at her victim, seizing him by the hair, which she appeared resolute to draw out by the roots. It was some time before her grasp could be loosened. Fortunately for the prisoner her rage was blind; since his total helplessness left him entirely at her mercy. Had it been better directed it might have proved fatal before any relief could have been offered. As it was, she did succeed in wrenching out two or three handsful of hair, before the young men could tear her away from her victim.

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