James Fenimore Cooper: The Deerslayer

24. Chapter XXIV (continued)

The hunter was a little surprised, but, making no objections, both were soon in the scow, and in the room that contained the light. Here two stools were placed at the side of the chest, with the lamp on another, and a table near by to receive the different articles as they might be brought to view. This arrangement had its rise in the feverish impatience of the girl, which could brook no delay that it was in her power to obviate. Even all the padlocks were removed, and it only remained to raise the heavy lid, again, to expose all the treasures of this long secreted hoard.

"I see, in part, what all this means," observed Deerslayer - "yes, I see through it, in part. But why is not Hetty present? Now Thomas Hutter is gone, she is one of the owners of these cur'osities, and ought to see them opened and handled."

"Hetty sleeps -" answered Judith, huskily. "Happily for her, fine clothes and riches have no charms. Besides she has this night given her share of all that the chest may hold to me, that I may do with it as I please."

"Is poor Hetty compass enough for that, Judith?" demanded the just-minded young man. "It's a good rule and a righteous one, never to take when them that give don't know the valie of their gifts; and such as God has visited heavily in their wits ought to be dealt with as carefully as children that haven't yet come to their understandings."

Judith was hurt at this rebuke, coming from the person it did, but she would have felt it far more keenly had not her conscience fully acquitted her of any unjust intentions towards her feeble-minded but confiding sister. It was not a moment, however, to betray any of her usual mountings of the spirit, and she smothered the passing sensation in the desire to come to the great object she had in view.

"Hetty will not be wronged," she mildly answered; "she even knows not only what I am about to do, Deerslayer, but why I do it. So take your seat, raise the lid of the chest, and this time we will go to the bottom. I shall be disappointed if something is not found to tell us more of the history of Thomas Hutter and my mother."

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