“I’ve thought of that, too; yes, I’ve thought of that, I have. If the time should ever come when I can look upon you altogether as a sister, Mabel, or a child, — it might be better to say a child, since you’re young enough to be my daughter, — depend on it I’ll come back; for it would lighten my very heart to witness your gladness. But if I cannot, — farewell — farewell, — the Sergeant was wrong, —yes, the Sergeant was wrong!”
This was the last the Pathfinder ever uttered to the ears of Jasper Western and Mabel Dunham. He turned away, as if the words choked him, and was quickly at the side of his friend. As soon as the latter saw him approach, he shouldered his own burthen, and glided in among the trees, without waiting to be spoken to. Mabel, her husband, and June all watched the form of the Pathfinder, in the hope of receiving a parting gesture, or a stolen glance of the eye; but he did not look back. Once or twice they thought they saw his head shake, as one trembles in bitterness of spirit; and a toss of the hand was given, as if he knew that he was watched; but a tread, whose vigor no sorrow could enfeeble, soon bore him out of view, and was lost in the depths of the forest.
Neither Jasper nor his wife ever beheld the Pathfinder again. They remained for another year on the banks of Ontario; and then the pressing solicitations of Cap induced them to join him in New York, where Jasper eventually became a successful and respected merchant. Thrice Mabel received valuable presents of furs at intervals of years; and her feelings told her whence they came, though no name accompanied the gift. Later in life still, when the mother of several youths, she had occasion to visit the interior; and found herself on the banks of the Mohawk, accompanied by her sons, the eldest of whom was capable of being her protector. On that occasion she observed a man in a singular guise, watching her in the distance, with an intentness that induced her to inquire into his pursuits and character. She was told he was the most renowned hunter of that portion of the State, — it was after the Revolution, — a being of great purity of character and of as marked peculiarities; and that he was known in that region of country by the name of the Leatherstocking. Further than this Mrs. Western could not ascertain; though the distant glimpse and singular deportment of this unknown hunter gave her a sleepless night, and cast a shade of melancholy over her still lovely face, that lasted many a day.
As for June, the double loss of husband and tribe produced the effect that Pathfinder had foreseen. She died in the cottage of Mabel, on the shores of the lake; and Jasper conveyed her body to the island, where he interred it by the side of that of Arrowhead.
Lundie lived to marry his ancient love, and retired a war-worn and battered veteran; but his name has been rendered illustrious in our own time by the deeds of a younger brother, who succeeded to his territorial title, which, however, was shortly after merged in one earned by his valor on the ocean.