Holden read his thoughts. “Thou dost not understand,” he said. “Know then that the child perished not with the mother.”
“My friend,” said Armstrong, who had now complete command of himself, “you do not reflect that I cannot understand your allusions. Explain to me, that I may participate in your joy.”
“The child of my youth, he whom I lost, whom I mourned for so many years as dead, is alive,” exclaimed Holden, in tones of irrepressible emotion.
“I give you joy,” said Armstrong, grasping his hand. “But you never mentioned you had a son. How have you lost, and how found him?”
“It is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes,” said Holden. “Not long since thou didst tell of an unhappy man, round whom afflictions had gathered. Now will I tell thee of another not less wretched, the clouds of whose sorrow the setting sun is gilding. Be it unto thee for a lesson of hope, for I tell thee, James, that assuredly thou shalt be comforted.”
We will endeavor to compress into a few words the more diffuse narrative of the Recluse, confining ourselves to the substance.
It will be recollected that before Holden’s constrained retirement among the Indians, he had attached to him the squaw, Esther, by the ties of both gratitude and respect. But it was only at a distance she looked up to him whom she regarded as a sort of superior being. She would not have ventured to speak to him of herself, for how could he take an interest in so insignificant a creature? The nearer relations, however, into which they were thrown, while he was an inmate of her cabin, without diminishing her affection, abated her awe. The teachings of Holden, and the strong interest he manifested for herself and tribe so affected her, that one day she made to him a confession of the events of her life. It is only necessary to recount those which have a connection with this story. Some twenty years previous she had accompanied her husband on a visit to a tribe in Kentucky, into which some of her own relatives had been received. While there an expedition had been undertaken by the Indians, which her husband joined, against the white settlements, then inconsiderable, and exposed. After a few days the warriors returned in triumph, bringing with them many scalps, but no prisoner, except a little boy, saved by her husband, Huttamoiden. He delivered the child to her, and having none herself, she soon learned to love it as her own. Huttamoiden described to her with that particularity which marks the description of natural objects by an Indian, whose habits of life in the forest compel him to a close observation, the situation of the log-hut from which the child was taken, the hut itself before which leaped a mountain stream, the appearance of the unfortunate woman who was murdered, and the desperate resistance of the master of the cabin, who, at the time, was supposed to have perished in the flames, but was afterwards known by the name