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for O'Carroll instantly left the room, and sallied forth
upon his walk.
He passed through the garden, and emerged from it upon the forest path, which was in all seasons the favorite resort of Catherine Courtland and her guests. It had grown nearly dark, and the inoon, which was struggling with the broken clouds that so frequently deform the sky after a storm, shed only a partial and uncertain light over the scene; now for a moment silvering the tops of the tall forest trees, and shining brightly on every object, then again vanishing in clouds which cast over all a shade darker and more dreary, as it seemed, for the momentary brilliancy which had preceded it. As O'Carroll walked slowly forward, his arms folded, and his eyes cast upward, watching the rapid transitions and fantastic fornis of the clouds—their edges beautifully silvered with the beams of the moon, over whose orb they gracefully rolled their fleecy volumes, he sunk into a train of sad and tender musing, which led him onwards, heedless of the distance be, had gone, and forgetful of the promise he had given shortly to return.
His mind was not framed for sadness; and even in moments of the heaviest affliction, its natural gaiety would often burst athwart the gloom; and though none felt more exquisitely or was capable of keener suffering, it was not by the outward appearance that the world could judge of bis internal sensations. Even the most reckless and mirthful bave their moments of depression, and the hour, the solitude, the aspect of the heavens, ali united to awaken painful reminiscences, which carried O'Carroll back to other days, and tortured him with regrets, which reason in vain had urged him to stifle as upmanly and degrading.
The first time he saw Marion Spencer, she had pointed his attention to the clouds, which exbibited the same restless and beautiful variety, as now. He recalled her very attitude as she stood with him at the window of her father's parlor, one hand resting on the sash, and the other pointing to the heavens, to which her eyes were raised, with a look so lovely, so full of admiration
and delight, that O'Carroll well remembered with what rapture he had gazed upon those soft blue eyes, and how much more beautiful he had thought them than even the bright sky to which they were directed. He dwelt upon the sweet simplicity, the artless confidence which rivetted the love her beauty had inspired, and upon those hours of endearing intercourse which had yielded him so many touching proofs of her attachment, and unveiled to him so many traits of an ingenuous and exalted mind. As these reflections agitated bim, he almost persuaded himself, that his own conduct had justly alienated the affection of Marion; and that the coldness and neglect which jealousy had instigated, was the true cause why Mr. Spencer had denied his daughter to a man, who, without alleging any reason, could treat her with such unwarrantable caprice.
From these and similar meditations which had occupied more than an hour, O'Carroll was suddenly startled by the low murmur of voices. He stopped, made an effort to rally his subdued spirits, and looked earnestly around him. The moon, which now rode high in the heavens, leaving far below the grovelling clouds, that for a while had struggled to eclipse her splendor, enabled O'Carroll to discern the two persons whose conversation had disturbed his reverie,
They stood at the distance of a few yards beneath the spreading branches of a pine, and appeared so deeply engrossed as not to notice his approach, which had, indeed, been so slow and gentle as scarcely to depress the moss upon which he trod. Screened by the trunk of a large tree, O'Carroll stopped a moment to observe the persons of the speakers. There was something in the outline of the tallest figure which reminded him of Grahame, and he was almost confirmed in this suspicion on perceiving a moment after that he wore the military hat and plume of an American officer. Surprised out of all precaution, the Captain stepped involuntarily forward to ascertain by a nearer view whether his conjecture was erroneous, when in his haste he struck against the straggling branch of a dead alder bush, which
snapping instantly off, occasioned a noise that drew the attention of the strangers towards him. The officer, for such O'Carroll supposed him, immediately said a few low words to his companion, and then walked hastily away in an opposite direction; while the other with a slow and stately step advanced to meet the Captain. Surprised at these gestures, O'Carroll awaited him in silence, scarcely knowing what to expect; but resolved, if there was danger, to defend himself like a man. Such thoughts, however, were instantly dispelled when he heard the mild and mellow tones of Ohmeina's voice, accosting him in the peculiar phraseology which he was wont to use :
“Friend," he said, “what seekest thou at this hour and in this solitary place? If thou art a wanderer I will direct thee right; but if thou comest hither on an evil errand, remember that the pure eye of the Great Being is upon thee, and repent of thy sin, before thou hast committed it."
“ I am only a wanderer, friend Ohmeina,” answered O'Carroll. « If I wished to rob or murder, I should • seek for richer booty than is to be found in this dark
forest. But I am sorry that your quick eye could not discern the friend of your friend from the evil doer, for whom you have mistaken me."
“I knew not that thou didst ever walk here," returned Ohmeina, in evident surprise;" and at this dark hour I know not why thou shouldst seek the gloomy shade of the forest.”
“ And why not,” asked O’Carrroll, “ as well as you; and there was another with you, Ohmeina. Why then are you surprised to see me here?”
“He came on errands of mercy,” said the Chief, with a slow and emphatic accent; “and the forest is my home; where I was born; where my young days were passed. And with the leave of the great and good Being, my age shall decline among its green shades, and there shall death find me, waiting to welcome his approach.”
"But who was that, Ohmeina, from whom you just now parted ?" inquired O'Carroll, “and who came hither, as you say, upon errands of mercy.”
“Ask me not,” replied Ohmeina; "it matters not thee to know. Thou didst break upon our privacy, and though I will believe thou didst it without knowledge, thou wilt have too much honor to extort from me what I an forbidden to communicate.”
O'Carroll's curiosity was greatly excited by the mystery which the Indian's words threw over a circumstance, which, had he not believed Colonel Grabame to be interested in it, would not have drawn from him a single remark or inquiry. After a few moments of perplexed silence, he said,
“If you are forbidden, Ohmeina, to tell me the name of your companion, still may you not without any breach of confidence, inform me to whom he pays visits of mercy in a place which appears to me wholly uninhabited ?”
“ He who loves to do good to all mankind,” said the Chief, “ may find even in the desert objects on which to shed the dews of his benevolence."
“ And do you dwell here, Ohmeina ?” asked the Captain.
“Sometimes I do," returned the Indian, “and sometimes I dwell in the camp. But I have told thee, that the forest was my home. I love the rustling of its withered leaves and the waving of its naked branches, far more than the noise of yonder armed host. They are dearer to me than were the sounds of battle, when, in the days of my power, and the Mohawks were many, I led them forth in terrible array against the enemies of our nation. Our march was like the rushing wind, and our foes fell before us like the trees of the forest which its might burls to the earth.”
The Chief seemed inspired by the remembrance of former days, and he spoke with an eloquence of gesture and expression that excited the admiration of O'Carroll, and rendered him for a moment forgetful of the mystery which had so greatly perplexed him, and which he
wished so much to hear explained. Before he could renew his inquiries, the Indian again addressed him :
“Brother farewell; I must leave thee. Go thy way, and seek not to follow my footsteps."
"Such a design is far from my thoughts," said O'Carroll ; "I shall not attempt to discover a secret, which you are bound to keep; and I honor your fidelity too much, to wish you to betray it. Farewell; there may be mystery, but never falsehood in a heart like thine!”
The Indian laid his folded hands upon his breast, and bent his head towards the earth, then, without uttering a word, turned and walked slowly away. O'Carroll stood for a few moments, watching his retreating figure, and when it was no longer distinguishable, he pursued his homeward way, occupied with far different thoughts from those which had engrossed him during the former part of his walk.
The bitter, yet pleasing remembrance of Marion Spencer, was dispelled by the immediate interest of the scene which had just passed. Perplexed by the appearance of mystery which involved it, he forgot every selfish interest, in his anxiety to account for what was, in reality, inexplicable to him. He felt assured, the person he had seen with Ohmeina, was no other. than Colonel Grahame ; and as this conviction obtained possession of his mind, he busied himself in imagining the cause, which could induce him to break a previous and positive engagement, for the purpose of meeting the Indian, in that solitary spot, and at an hour so lonely. But all his conjectures were vain, and served only to involve him more deeply in uncertainty ; and fearing that his protracted absence might occasion alarm, he cast away reflection, and walked forward with a speed which quickly brought him to the garden gate. He met Ronald coming ihrough it, to search for him, and was surprised to learn that it was quite late, and that the family were uneasy at his long absence.
Without delay, he bastened to the house. Major Courtland met him at the parlor door, and exclaimed, the moment he saw him,