« ElőzőTovább »
[In the spring of 1805, a young gentleman named Charles Gough attempted to cross Helvellyn, a mountain in the northern part of England. It was just after a fall of snow had concealed the path, and rendered it dangerous. He perished in the attempt; but it could not be ascertained whether he was killed by a fall from a precipice or had died from hunger. Three months elapsed before the body was found, attended by a faithful dog, which he had with him at the time of the accident. Sir Walter Scott wrote a poem on the same circumstance.]
A BARKING Sound the shepherd hears,
He halts, and searches with his eyes
And now at distance can discern
The dog is not of mountain breed ;
Its motions, too, are wild and shy,
Nor is there any one in sight,
All round, in hollow or on height;
Nor shout nor whistle strikes his ear;
It was a cove, a huge recess,
That keeps till June December's snow;
A silent tarn below,
Far in the bosom of Helvellyn,
From trace of human foot or hand.
There sometimes doth a leaping fish
In symphony austere ;
Thither the rainbow comes; the cloud;
Not free from boding thoughts, a while
The shepherd stood; then makes his way O'er rocks and stones, following the dog
As quickly as he may;
Nor far had gone before he found
From those abrupt and perilous rocks
- that place of fear! At length upon the shepherd's mind It breaks, and all is clear;
He instantly recalled the name,
And who he was and whence he came;
But hear a wonder, for whose sake
A lasting monument of words
This wonder merits well.
The dog, which still was hovering nigh,
Yes, proof was plain that, since the day
Or by his master's side;
How nourished here through such long time,
C. F. HOFFMAN.
UPON the banks of the River Elkhorn, in the State of Kentucky, there was once a stockade fort* to which the settlers from the adjacent country frequently resorted as a place of refuge from the savages. Its gallant defence by a handful of pioneers† against the allied Indians of Ohio, led by two renegade white men, was one of the most desperate affairs in the Indian wars of the west. The enemy met together at the forks § of the Scioto, and planned their attack in the deep forests, a hundred miles away from the scene where it was made.
The pioneers had not the slightest idea of their approach, when in a moment a thousand rifles gleamed in the cornfields one summer's night. That very evening the garrison had chanced to gather under arms, to march to the relief of another station that was similarly invested. It was a fearful moment: an hour earlier, and the pioneers would have been cut off; an hour later, and their defenceless wives and daughters must have been butchered or carried into captivity, while their
*Stockade fort, a fort defended by a line of posts, or stakes, set in the
† Pioneer, one who goes first into a new country.
Renegade, an expression applied to a white man who had joined the Indians and adopted their manners and customs.
§ Fork, the point where two streams unite to form a third.
natural protectors were hurrying to the rescue of others. The Indians saw at a glance that the moment was not propitious to them; and having failed in surprising the Kentuckians, they attempted to decoy them from their fastness,* by presenting themselves in small parties before it.
The whites were too wise to risk a battle, but they knew not how to stand a siege. The fort, which was merely a collection of log cabins arranged in a hollow square, was unhappily not supplied with water. They were aware that the attacking party knew this; they were aware, too, that their real force lay in ambush near a neighboring spring, with the hope of cutting off those who should come to remedy the deficiency,
But the sagacity of a backwoodsman is sometimes more than a match for the cunning of an Indian; and the heroism of a woman may baffle the address of a warrior. The females of the station determined to supply it with water from this very spring. But how? Woman's wit never devised a bolder expedient; woman's fortitude never carried one more hazardous into successful execution. They reasoned thus: the water must be had: the women are in the habit of going for it every morning. If armed men now take that duty upon them, the Indians will think that their ambuscade is discovered, and instantly commence their assault. If the women draw the water as usual, the Indians will not unmask their concealed force, but still persevere in attempting to decoy the defenders of the station outside of its pickets.
The feint succeeded. The random shots of the decoy party were returned with a quick fire from one side of the fort, while the women issued from the other, as if they apprehended no enemy in that quarter. Could any thing be more appalling than the task before them? But they shrink not from it; they move carelessly from the gate; they advance with composure in a body to the spring; they are within shot of five hundred warriors. The slightest alarm will betray them; if they show any
*Fastness, a strong or protected place.
consciousness of their thrilling situation, their doom is inevitable. But their nerves do not shrink; they wait calmly for each other till each fills her bucket in succession. The Indians are completely deceived, and not a shot is fired. The band of heroines retrace their steps with steady feet; their movement soon becomes more agitated; it is at last hurried. But tradition says that the only water spilt was as their buckets crowded together in passing the gate.
A sheet of living fire from the garrison, and the screams of the wounded Indians around the spring, told that they were safe, and spoke the triumph of their friends. Insane with wrath to be thus outwitted, the foe rushed from his covert, and advanced with fury upon the rifles of the pioneers. But who could conquer the fathers and brothers of such women. The Indians were foiled; they withdrew their forces; but on counting the number of their slain, they burned with vengeance, and rallied once more to the fight. They were again and again repulsed. Assistance at last came to the pioneers, and the savages were compelled to retreat to their wildwood haunts
Eliza. Mother, what is presence of mind?
Mrs. F. It is that steady possession of ourselves, in cases of alarm, that prevents us from being flurried and frightened. You have heard the expression of having all our wits about us. This is the effect of presence of mind, and a most inestimable quality it is; for without it we are quite as likely to run into danger as to avoid it. Do you not remember hearing of your cousin Mary's cap taking fire in the candle?
E. O, yes, very well.
Mrs. F. The maid, as soon as she saw it, set up a great scream, and ran out of the room; and Mary might have been burned to death for any assistance she could give her.