Besides communicating all the information which he possessed on these points, he proceeded, without waiting to be asked, to give an account of his own history; and a very lamentable one it was. He was from the Down-East country, a representative of the Bay State, from which he had been seduced by the arguments of his old friend Josiah Jones, to go “a pedlering” with the latter to the new settlements in the West; where the situation of the colonists, so far removed from all markets, promised uncommon advantages to the adventurous trader. These had been in a measure realised on the Upper Ohio; but the prospect of superior gains in Kentucky had tempted the two friends to extend their speculations further; and in an evil hour they embarked their assorted notions and their own bodies in a flatboat on the Ohio; in the descent of which it was their fortune to be stripped of every thing, after enduring risks without number, and daily attacks from, Indians lying in wait on the banks of the river, which misadventures had terminated in the capture of their boat, and the death of Josiah, the unlucky projector of the expedition. Pardon himself barely escaping with his life. These calamities were the more distasteful to the worthy Dodge, whose inclinations were of no warlike cast, and whose courage never rose to the fighting point, as he freely professed, until goaded into action by sheer desperation. He had “got enough,” as he said, “of the everlasting Injuns, and of Kentucky, where there was such a shocking deal of ’em that a peaceable trader’s scalp was in no more security than a rambling scout’s;” and cursing his bad luck, and the memory of the friend who had cajoled him into ruin, difficulty, and constant danger, his sole desire was now to return to the safer lands of the East, which he expected to effect most advantageously by advancing to some of the South-eastern stations, and throwing himself in the way of the first band of militia whose tour of duty in the district was completed, and who should be about to return to their native state. He had got enough of the Ohio as well as the Indians; the wilderness-road possessed fewer terrors, and therefore appeared to his imagination the more eligible route of escape.
Dodge’s story, which was not without its interest to Roland, though the rapidity of their progress through the woods, and the constant necessity of being on the alert, kept him a somewhat inattentive listener, was brought to an abrupt close by the motions of Telie Doe, who, having guided the party for several miles with great confidence, began at last to hesitate, and betray symptoms of doubt and embarrassment, that attracted the soldier’s attention. There seemed some cause for hesitation: the glades, at first broad and open, through which they had made their way, were becoming smaller and more frequently interrupted by copses; the wood grew denser and darker;