“Buck, you mean, Pathfinder.”
“Isn’t he a queerity? Now I can consort with such a sailor as yourself, Eau-douce, and find nothing very contrary in our gifts, though yours belong to the lakes and mine to the woods. Hark’e, Jasper,” continued the scout, laughing in his noiseless manner; “suppose we try the temper of his blade and run him over the falls?”
“And what would be done with the pretty niece in the meanwhile?”
“Nay, nay, no harm shall come to her; she must walk round the portage, at any rate; but you and I can try this Atlantic oceaner, and then all parties will become better acquainted. We shall find out whether his flint will strike fire; and he may come to know something of frontier tricks.”
Young Jasper smiled, for he was not averse to fun, and had been a little touched by Cap’s superciliousness; but Mabel’s fair face, light, agile form, and winning smiles, stood like a shield between her uncle and the intended experiment.
“Perhaps the Sergeant’s daughter will be frightened,” said he.
“Not she, if she has any of the Sergeant’s spirit in her. She doesn’t look like a skeary thing, at all. Leave it to me, then, Eau-douce, and I will manage the affair alone.”
“Not you, Pathfinder; you would only drown both. If the canoe goes over, I must go in it.”
“Well, have it so, then: shall we smoke the pipe of agreement on the bargain?”
Jasper laughed, nodded his head by way of consent, and then the subject was dropped, as the party had reached the canoe so often mentioned, and fewer words had determined much greater things between the parties.
Before these fields were shorn and till’d,
Full to the brim our rivers flow’d;
The melody of waters fill’d
The fresh and boundless wood;
And torrents dash’d, and rivulets play’d,
And fountains spouted in the shade.
It is generally known that the waters which flow into the southern side of Ontario are, in general, narrow, sluggish, and deep. There are some exceptions to this rule, for many of the rivers have rapids, or, as they are termed in the language of the region, “rifts,” and some have falls. Among the latter was the particular stream on which our adventurers were now journeying. The Oswego is formed by the junction of the Oneida and the Onondaga, both of which flow from lakes; and it pursues its way, through a gently undulating country, some eight or ten miles, until it reaches the margin of a sort of natural terrace, down which it tumbles some ten or fifteen feet, to another level, across which it glides with the silent, stealthy progress of deep water, until it throws its tribute into the broad receptacle of the Ontario. The canoe in which Cap and his party had travelled from Fort Stanwix, the last military station of the Mohawk, lay by the side of this river, and into it the whole party now entered, with the exception of Pathfinder, who remained on the land, in order to shove the light vessel off.