“I’ll try to forget all, but the kindness you’ve both shown to a poor motherless girl,” said Mabel, struggling to keep down emotions she scarcely knew how to account for herself. “Believe me, Pathfinder, I can never forget all you have already done for me — you and Jasper; and this new proof of your regard is not thrown away. Here, here is a brooch that is of silver, and I offer it as a token that I owe you life or liberty.”
“What shall I do with this, Mabel?” asked the bewildered hunter, holding the simple trinket in his hand. “I have neither buckle nor button about me, for I wear nothing but leathern strings, and them of good deer-skins. It’s pretty to the eye, but it is prettier far on the spot it came from than it can be about me.”
“Nay, put it in your hunting-shirt; it will become it well. Remember, Pathfinder, that it is a token of friendship between us, and a sign that I can never forget you or your services.”
Mabel then smiled an adieu; and, bounding up the bank, she was soon lost to view behind the mound of the fort.
Lo! dusky masses steal in dubious sight,
Along the leaguer’d wall, and bristling bank,
Of the arm’d river; while with straggling light,
The stars peep through the vapor, dim and dank.
A few hours later Mabel Dunham was on the bastion that overlooked the river and the lake, seemingly in deep thought. The evening was calm and soft, and the question had arisen whether the party for the Thousand Islands would be able to get out that night or not, on account of the total absence of wind. The stores, arms, and ammunition were already shipped, and even Mabel’s effects were on board; but the small draft of men that was to go was still ashore, there being no apparent prospect of the cutter’s getting under way. Jasper had warped the Scud out of the cove, and so far up the stream as to enable him to pass through the outlet of the river whenever he chose; but there he still lay, riding at single anchor. The drafted men were lounging about the shore of the cove, undecided whether or not to pull off.
The sports of the morning had left a quiet in the garrison which was in harmony with the whole of the beautiful scene, and Mabel felt its influence on her feelings, though probably too little accustomed to speculate on such sensations to be aware of the cause. Everything near appeared lovely and soothing, while the solemn grandeur of the silent forest and placid expanse of the lake lent a sublimity that other scenes might have wanted. For the first time, Mabel felt the hold that the towns and civilization had gained on her habits sensibly weakened; and the warm-hearted girl began to think that a life passed amid objects such as those around her might be happy. How far the experience of the last days came in aid of the calm and holy eventide, and contributed towards producing that young conviction, may be suspected, rather than affirmed, in this early portion of our legend.