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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 536 pages of information about Pathfinder; or, the inland sea.

CHAPTER XX.

Wandering, I found on my ruinous walk,
  By the dial stone, aged and green,
One rose of the wilderness, left on its stalk,
  To mark where a garden had been. 
CAMPBELL.

It was not only broad daylight when Mabel awoke, but the sun had actually been up some time.  Her sleep had been tranquil, for she rested on an approving conscience, and fatigue contributed to render it sweet; and no sound of those who had been so early in motion had interfered with her rest.  Springing to her feet and rapidly dressing herself, the girl was soon breathing the fragrance of the morning in the open air.  For the first time she was sensibly struck with the singular beauties, as well as with the profound retirement, of her present situation.  The day proved to be one of those of the autumnal glory, so common to a climate that is more abused than appreciated, and its influence was every way inspiriting and genial.  Mabel was benefitted by this circumstance; for, as she fancied, her heart was heavy on account of the dangers to which a father, whom she now began to love as women love when confidence is created, was exposed.

But the island seemed absolutely deserted.  The previous night, the bustle of the arrival had given the spot an appearance of life which was now entirely gone; and our heroine had turned her eyes nearly around on every object in sight, before she caught a view of a single human being to remove the sense of utter solitude.  Then, indeed, she beheld all who were left behind, collected in a group around a fire which might be said to belong to the camp.  The person of her uncle, to whom she was so much accustomed, reassured Mabel; and she examined the remainder with a curiosity natural to her situation.  Besides Cap and the Quartermaster, there were the Corporal, the three soldiers, and the woman who was cooking.  The huts were silent and empty; and the low but tower-like summit of the blockhouse rose above the bushes, by which it was half concealed, in picturesque beauty.  The sun was just casting its brightness into the open places of the glade, and the vault over her head was impending in the soft sublimity of the blue void.  Not a cloud was visible, and she secretly fancied the circumstance might be taken as a harbinger of peace and security.

Perceiving that all the others were occupied with that great concern of human nature, a breakfast, Mabel walked, unobserved, towards an end of the island where she was completely shut out of view by the trees and bushes.  Here she got a stand on the very edge of the water, by forcing aside the low branches, and stood watching the barely perceptible flow and re-flow of the miniature waves which laved the shore; a sort of physical echo to the agitation that prevailed on the lake fifty miles above her.  The glimpses of natural scenery that offered were very soft and pleasing; and our heroine, who had a quick eye for all that was lovely in nature, was not slow in selecting the most striking bits of landscape.  She gazed through the different vistas formed by the openings between the islands, and thought she had never looked on aught more lovely.

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