Nick of the Woods eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 393 pages of information about Nick of the Woods.

This was a point, however, on which the young soldier, doubly solicitous on his kinswoman’s account, to avoid mistake, was not so easily satisfied:  seeing which, the Kentuckian yielded to his importunity,—­perhaps somewhat ashamed of suffering his guests to depart entirely alone,—­and began to cast about him for some suitable person who could be prevailed upon to exchange the privilege of fighting Indians for the inglorious duty of conducting wayfarers through the forest.  This was no easy task, and it was not until he assumed his military authority, as commander of all the enrolled militia-men in his district, empowered to make such disposition of his forces as he thought fit, that he succeeded in compelling the service of one of his reluctant followers, under whose guidance Roland and his little party soon after set out.  Their farewells were briefly said, the urgent nature of his duties leaving the hospitable Bruce little opportunity for superfluous speech.  He followed them, however, to the bottom of the hill, grasped Roland by the hand; and doing the same thing by Edith, as if his conscience smote him for dismissing her with so little ceremony and such insufficient attendance, he swore that if any evil happened to her on the road, he would rest neither night nor day until he had repaired it, or lost his scalp in the effort.

With this characteristic and somewhat ominous farewell, he took his leave; and the cousins, with their guide and faithful servant, spurred onwards at a brisk pace, until the open fields of the settlement were exchanged for the deep and gloomy woodlands.

CHAPTER VII.

The sun shone out clearly and brilliantly, and the tree-tops, from which the winds had already shaken the rain, rustled freshly to the more moderate breezes that had succeeded them; and Roland, animated by the change, by the brisk pace at which he was riding, and by the hope of soon overtaking his fellow-exiles, met the joyous look of his kinswoman with a countenance no longer disturbed by care.

And yet there was a solemnity in the scene around them that might have called for other and more sombre feelings.  The forest into which they had plunged, was of the grand and gloomy character which the fertility of the soil and the absence of the axe for a thousand years imprint on the western woodlands, especially in the vicinity of rivers.  Oaks, elms, and walnuts, tulip-trees and beeches, with other monarchs of the wilderness, lifted their trunks like so many pillars, green with mosses and ivies, and swung their majestic arms, tufted with mistletoe, far over head, supporting a canopy,—­a series of domes and arches without end,—­that had for ages overshadowed the soil.  Their roots, often concealed by a billowy undergrowth of shrubs and bushes, oftener by brakes of the gigantic and evergreen cane, forming fences as singular as they were, for the most part, impenetrable,

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Nick of the Woods from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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