James Fenimore Cooper: The Deerslayer

28. Chapter XXVIII. (continued)

"You see me before you, cruel pale-face," the woman commenced; "your spirit must tell you my errand. I have found you; I cannot find le Loup Cervier, nor the Panther; I have looked for them in the lake, in the woods, in the clouds. I cannot say where they have gone."

"No man knows, good Sumach, no man knows," interposed the captive. "When the spirit leaves the body, it passes into a world beyond our knowledge, and the wisest way, for them that are left behind, is to hope for the best. No doubt both your warriors have gone to the Happy Hunting Grounds, and at the proper time you will see 'em ag'in, in their improved state. The wife and sister of braves must have looked forward to some such tarmination of their 'arthly careers."

"Cruel pale-face, what had my warriors done that you should slay them! They were the best hunters, and the boldest young men of their tribe; the Great Spirit intended that they should live until they withered like the branches of the hemlock, and fell of their own weight-"

"Nay - nay - good Sumach," interrupted Deerslayer, whose love of truth was too indomitable to listen to such hyperbole with patience, even though it came from the torn breast of a widow -"Nay - nay, good Sumach, this is a little outdoing red-skin privileges. Young man was neither, any more than you can be called a young woman, and as to the Great Spirit's intending that they should fall otherwise than they did, that's a grievous mistake, inasmuch as what the Great Spirit intends is sartain to come to pass. Then, agin, it's plain enough neither of your fri'nds did me any harm; I raised my hand ag'in 'em on account of what they were striving to do, rather than what they did. This is nat'ral law, 'to do lest you should be done by.'"

"It is so. Sumach has but one tongue; she can tell but one story. The pale face struck the Hurons lest the Hurons should strike him. The Hurons are a just nation; they will forget it. The chiefs will shut their eyes and pretend not to have seen it; the young men will believe the Panther and the Lynx have gone to far off hunts, and the Sumach will take her children by the hand, and go into the lodge of the pale-face and say - 'See; these are your children; they are also mine - feed us, and we will live with you.'"

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