“We have had a happy evening, at least I have,” he said, in a low voice; “the autumn is so beautiful, and you are so kind and good.”
She did not speak; but a faint wistful smile came to her lips as she placed her hand softly in his own.
“Look! the picture is smiling on you now!” said Verty; “you are just alike—both so beautiful!”
“Oh!” murmured Redbud, blushing; “like mamma?”
“Yes,” said Verty, “and I saw the lips smile when I spoke.”
They stood thus hand in hand—the tender mother-eyes upon them: then he turned and went away, looking back tenderly to the last.
Had the dim canvas smiled upon them, as they stood there hand in hand—a blessing on them from the far other world?
THE LODGE IN THE HILLS.
Sitting by the crackling twigs which drove away the cool airs of the autumn night with their inspiring warmth, the young man, whose early fortunes we have thus far endeavored to narrate, leaned his head upon his hand, and mused and dreamed.
Overhead the shadows played upon the rafters; around him, the firelight lit up the wild and uncouth interior, with its sleeping hounds, and guns, and fishing-rods, and chests; on the opposite side of the fire-place, the old Indian woman was indulging, like Verty, in a reverie.
From time to time, Longears or Wolf would stir in their sleep, and growl, engaged in dreaming of some forest adventure which concerned itself with deer or other game; or the far cry of the whip-poor-will would echo through the forest; or the laughter of the owl suddenly come floating on, borne on the chill autumn wind.
This, with the crackle of the twigs, was all which disturbed the silence of the solitary lodge.
The silence lasted for half an hour, at the end of which time Verty changed his position, and sighed. Then looking at the old woman with great affection, the young man said:
“I was thinking who I was; and I wanted to ask you, ma mere—tell me.”
The old woman looked startled at this address, but concealing her emotion with the marvellous skill of her people, replied in her guttural accent—
“My son wants to know something?”
“Yes, ma mere, that is it. I want to know if I really am your son.”
The old woman turned her eyes from Verty.
“The fawn knows the deer, and the bear’s cub knows his fellows,” continued Verty, gazing into the fire; “but they laugh at me. I don’t know my tribe.”
“Our tribe is the Delaware,” said the old Indian woman evasively—” they came from the great woods like a river.”
“Like a river? Yes, they know their source. But where did I spring from, ma mere?”
“Where was my son born?”
“Yes, tell me everything,” said Verty; “tell me if I am your son. Do not tell me that you love me as a son, or that I love you as my mother. I know that—but am I a Delaware?”