"This is going beyond your means, foolish child; you must have been naughty enough to have listened, or you could know nothing of our talk."
"Why should you and Hurry kill people — especially women and children?"
"Peace, girl, peace; we are at war, and must do to our enemies as our enemies would do to us."
"That's not it, father! I heard Deerslayer say how it was. You must do to your enemies as you wish your enemies would do to you. No man wishes his enemies to kill him."
"We kill our enemies in war, girl, lest they should kill us. One side or the other must begin; and them that begin first, are most apt to get the victory. You know nothing about these things, poor Hetty, and had best say nothing."
"Judith says it is wrong, father; and Judith has sense though I have none."
"Jude understands better than to talk to me of these matters; for she has sense, as you say, and knows I'll not bear it. Which would you prefer, Hetty; to have your own scalp taken, and sold to the French, or that we should kill our enemies, and keep them from harming us?"
"That's not it, father! Don't kill them, nor let them kill us. Sell your skins, and get more, if you can; but don't sell human blood."
"Come, come, child; let us talk of matters you understand. Are you glad to see our old friend, March, back again? You like Hurry, and must know that one day he may be your brother — if not something nearer."
"That can't be, father," returned the girl, after a considerable pause; "Hurry has had one father, and one mother; and people never have two."
"So much for your weak mind, Hetty. When Jude marries, her husband's father will be her father, and her husband's sister her sister. If she should marry Hurry, then he will be your brother."
"Judith will never have Hurry," returned the girl mildly, but positively; "Judith don't like Hurry."
"That's more than you can know, Hetty. Harry March is the handsomest, and the strongest, and the boldest young man that ever visits the lake; and, as Jude is the greatest beauty, I don't see why they shouldn't come together. He has as much as promised that he will enter into this job with me, on condition that I'll consent."
Hetty began to move her body back and forth, and other-wise to express mental agitation; but she made no answer for more than a minute. Her father, accustomed to her manner, and suspecting no immediate cause of concern, continued to smoke with the apparent phlegm which would seem to belong to that particular species of enjoyment.
"Hurry is handsome, father," said Hetty, with a simple emphasis, that she might have hesitated about using, had her mind been more alive to the inferences of others.
"I told you so, child," muttered old Hutter, without removing the pipe from between his teeth; "he's the likeliest youth in these parts; and Jude is the likeliest young woman I've met with since her poor mother was in her best days."
"Is it wicked to be ugly, father?'"
"One might be guilty of worse things — but you're by no means ugly; though not so comely as Jude."
"Is Judith any happier for being so handsome?"
"She may be, child, and she may not be. But talk of other matters now, for you hardly understand these, poor Hetty. How do you like our new acquaintance, Deerslayer?"
"He isn't handsome, father. Hurry is far handsomer than Deerslayer."
"That's true; but they say he is a noted hunter! His fame had reached me before I ever saw him; and I did hope he would prove to be as stout a warrior as he is dexterous with the deer. All men are not alike, howsever, child; and it takes time, as I know by experience, to give a man a true wilderness heart."
"Have I got a wilderness heart, father — and Hurry, is his heart true wilderness?"
"You sometimes ask queer questions, Hetty! Your heart is good, child, and fitter for the settlements than for the woods; while your reason is fitter for the woods than for the settlements."
"Why has Judith more reason than I, father?"
"Heaven help thee, child: this is more than I can answer. God gives sense, and appearance, and all these things; and he grants them as he seeth fit. Dost thou wish for more sense?"
"Not I. The little I have troubles me; for when I think the hardest, then I feel the unhappiest. I don't believe thinking is good for me, though I do wish I was as handsome as Judith!"
"Why so, poor child? Thy sister's beauty may cause her trouble, as it caused her mother before her. It's no advantage, Hetty, to be so marked for anything as to become an object of envy, or to be sought after more than others."
"Mother was good, if she was handsome," returned the girl, the tears starting to her eyes, as usually happened when she adverted to her deceased parent.
Old Hutter, if not equally affected, was moody and silent at this allusion to his wife. He continued smoking, without appearing disposed to make any answer, until his simple-minded daughter repeated her remark, in a way to show that she felt uneasiness lest he might be inclined to deny her assertion. Then he knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and laying his hand in a sort of rough kindness on the girl's head, he made a reply.
"Thy mother was too good for this world," he said; "though others might not think so. Her good looks did not befriend her; and you have no occasion to mourn that you are not as much like her as your sister. Think less of beauty, child, and more of your duty, and you'll be as happy on this lake as you could be in the king's palace."
"I know it, father; but Hurry says beauty is everything in a young woman."
Hutter made an ejaculation expressive of dissatisfaction, and went forward, passing through the house in order to do so. Hetty's simple betrayal of her weakness in behalf of March gave him uneasiness on a subject concerning which he had never felt before, and he determined to come to an explanation at once with his visitor; for directness of speech and decision in conduct were two of the best qualities of this rude being, in whom the seeds of a better education seemed to be constantly struggling upwards, to be choked by the fruits of a life in which his hard struggles for subsistence and security had steeled his feelings and indurated his nature. When he reached the forward end of the scow, he manifested an intention to relieve Deerslayer at the oar, directing the latter to take his own place aft. By these changes, the old man and Hurry were again left alone, while the young hunter was transferred to the other end of the ark.
Hetty had disappeared when Deerslayer reached his new post, and for some little time he directed the course of the slow-moving craft by himself. It was not long, however, before Judith came out of the cabin, as if disposed to do the honors of the place to a stranger engaged in the service of her family. The starlight was sufficient to permit objects to be plainly distinguished when near at hand, and the bright eyes of the girl had an expression of kindness in them, when they met those of the youth, that the latter was easily enabled to discover. Her rich hair shaded her spirited and yet soft countenance, even at that hour rendering it the more beautiful-as the rose is loveliest when reposing amid the shadows and contrasts of its native foliage. Little ceremony is used in the intercourse of the woods; and Judith had acquired a readiness of address, by the admiration that she so generally excited, which, if it did not amount to forwardness, certainly in no degree lent to her charms the aid of that retiring modesty on which poets love to dwell.