“Well, sir! we’ll see. I have never yet given up what I have once undertaken. Smile as you please, you moon-struck poet; and if you want an incident to put in your trashy law-epic, new nib your pen to introduce a wild Indian. Stop! I’m tired talking! Don’t answer me. If any one calls, say I’m gone away, or dead, or anything. Get that old desk ready for the Indian. He will be here on Monday.”
And Mr. Rushton passed into his sanctum, and slammed the door after him.
On the next day the lawyer set out toward the pine hills. On the road he met Verty strolling along disconsolately. A few words passed between them, and they continued their way in company toward the old Indian woman’s hut. Mr. Rushton returned to Winchester at twilight.
On Monday morning Verty rode into the town, and dismounted at the door of the law office.
IN WHICH ROUNDJACKET READS HIS GREAT POEM.
Three days after the events which we have just related, or rather after the introduction of the reader to the three localities with which our brief history will concern itself, Mr. Roundjacket was sitting on his high stool in one corner of the office, preparing the papers in a friendly suit in Chancery.
It was about ten o’clock in the morning, and Verty, who rode home every evening, had just come in and had taken his seat at the desk in the corner appropriated to him, beneath the small dingy window, looking out upon the yard. Longears was stretched at his feet.
Verty’s face was more dreamy and thoughtful than ever. The dim smile still dwelt upon his lips, and though his countenance had as much of the forest Indian character as ever, there was a languor about the drooping eyelids, with their long lashes, and a stoop in the usually erect neck, which betrayed the existence in the boy’s mind of some ever-present sadness. His costume was just what it had always been—moccasins, deerskin leggings, a shaggy forest paletot, and fringed leather gauntlets, which now lay by him near his white fur hat. He had not changed by becoming a lawyer’s clerk; but, on the contrary, grown more wild, apparently from the very contrast between his forest appearance and the dingy office.
At times Verty would stretch out his hand, and, taking his cedar bow from a chair, bend it thoughtfully, and utter the low Indian murmur, which has been represented by the letters, “ough” so unsuccessfully; then he would allow the weapon to slide from his nerveless hand—his head would droop—the dim dreamy smile would light up his features for an instant, and he would lean upon the desk and ponder—his countenance half enveloped by the long tangled chestnut hair which still flowed upon his shoulders in wild luxuriance.
Tired of thinking at last, Verty sighed, and took up his pen. For some moments it glided slowly over the law parchment, and the contortions of Verty’s face betrayed the terrible effort necessary for him to make in copying. Then his eyes no longer sought the paper to be transcribed—his face lit up for a moment, and his pen moved faster. Finally, he rose erect, and surveyed the sheet, which he had been writing upon, with great interest.