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

That second nature which grows up through habit instantly told the young Iroquois that he was alone with enemies.  Dashing the water aside, he sprang at the throat of Chingachgook, and the two Indians, relinquishing their hold of the canoe, seized each other like tigers.  In the midst of the darkness of that gloomy night, and floating in an element so dangerous to man when engaged in deadly strife, they appeared to forget everything but their fell animosity and their mutual desire to conquer.

Jasper had now complete command of the canoe, which flew off like a feather impelled by the breath under the violent reaction of the struggles of the two combatants.  The first impulse of the youth was to swim to the aid of the Delaware, but the importance of securing the boat presented itself with tenfold force, while he listened to the heavy breathings of the warriors as they throttled each other, and he proceeded as fast as possible towards the western shore.  This he soon reached; and after a short search he succeeded in discovering the remainder of the party and in procuring his clothes.  A few words sufficed to explain the situation in which he had left the Delaware and the manner in which the canoe had been obtained.

When those who had been left behind had heard the explanations of Jasper, a profound stillness reigned among them, each listening intently in the vain hope of catching some clue to the result of the fearful struggle that had just taken place, if it were not still going on in the water.  Nothing was audible beyond the steady roar of the rushing river; it being a part of the policy of their enemies on the opposite shore to observe the most deathlike stillness.

“Take this paddle, Jasper,” said Pathfinder calmly, though the listeners thought his voice sounded more melancholy than usual, “and follow with your own canoe.  It is unsafe for us to remain here longer.”

“But the Serpent?”

“The Great Sarpent is in the hands of his own Deity, and will live or die, according to the intentions of Providence.  We can do him no good, and may risk too much by remaining here in idleness, like women talking over their distresses.  This darkness is very precious.”

A loud, long, piercing yell came from the shore, and cut short the words of the guide.

“What is the meaning of that uproar, Master Pathfinder?” demanded Cap.  “It sounds more like the outcries of devils than anything that can come from the throats of Christians and men.”

“Christians they are not, and do not pretend to be, and do not wish to be; and in calling them devils you have scarcely misnamed them.  That yell is one of rejoicing, and it is as conquerors they have given it.  The body of the Sarpent, no doubt, dead or alive, is in their power.

“And we!” exclaimed Jasper, who felt a pang of generous regret, as the idea that he might have averted the calamity presented itself to his mind, had he not deserted his comrade.

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