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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 393 pages of information about Nick of the Woods.
the spring.  While thus engaged, the cap of the sufferer fell from his head, and Roland saw that Nathan carried with him a better cause for the affliction than could be referred to any mere temporary emotion, however overwhelming to the mind.  A horrible scar disfigured the top of his head, which seemed to have been, many years before, crushed by the blows of a heavy weapon; and it was equally manifest that the savage scalping-knife had done its work on the mangled head.

The soldier had heard that injuries to the head often resulted in insanity of some species or other; he could now speculate, on better grounds, and with better reason, upon some of those singular points of character which seemed to distinguish the houseless Nathan from the rest of his fellow-men.

CHAPTER XXIV.

The convulsion was but momentary, and departed with almost the same suddenness that marked its accession.  Nathan started half up, looked wildly around him, surveying the bodies of the two Piankeshaws, and the visage of the sympathising soldier.  Then snatching up and replacing his hat with one hand, and grasping Roland’s with the other, he exclaimed, as if wholly unconscious of what had happened him,—­

“Thee has heard it, and thee knows it,—­thee knows what the Shawnees have done to me—­they have killed them all, all that was of my blood!  Had they done so by thee, friend,” he demanded with eagerness, “had they done so by thee, what would thee have done to them?”

“Declared eternal war upon them and their accursed race!” cried Roland, greatly excited by the story; “I would have sworn undying vengeance, and I would have sought it,—­ay, sought it without ceasing.  Day and night, summer and winter, on the frontier and in their own lands and villages, I would have pursued the wretches, and pursued them to the death.”

“Thee is right,” cried Nathan, wringing the hand he still held, and speaking with a grin of hideous approval;—­“by night and by day, in summer and in winter, in the wood and in the wigwam, thee would seek for their blood, and thee would shed it;—­thee would think of thee wife and thee little babes, and thee heart would be as stone and fire within thee—­thee would kill, friend, thee would kill, thee would kill!” And the monosyllable was breathed over and over again with a ferocity of emphasis that showed how deep and vindictive was the passion in the speaker’s mind.  Then,—­with a transition of feeling as unexpected as it was abrupt, he added, still wringing Roland’s hand, as if he had found in him a sympathizing friend, whose further kindness he was resolved to deserve, and to repay,—­“Thee is right; I have thought about what thee has said—­Thee shall have assistance.  Thee is a brave man, and thee has not mocked at me because of my faith.  Thee enemies shall be pursued, and the maid thee loves shall be restored to thee arms.”

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