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The Last of the Mohicans

Chapter 13
"I'll seek a readier path."--Parnell
The route taken by Hawkeye lay across those sandy plains, relived by occasional valleys
and swells of land, which had been traversed by their party on the morning of the same
day, with the baffled Magua for their guide. The sun had now fallen low toward the
distant mountains; and as their journey lay through the interminable forest, the heat was
no longer oppressive. Their progress, in consequence, was proportionate; and long before
the twilight gathered about them, they had made good many toilsome miles on their
return.
The hunter, like the savage whose place he filled, seemed to select among the blind signs
of their wild route, with a species of instinct, seldom abating his speed, and never pausing
to deliberate. A rapid and oblique glance at the moss on the trees, with an occasional
upward gaze toward the setting sun, or a steady but passing look at the direction of the
numerous water courses, through which he waded, were sufficient to determine his path,
and remove his greatest difficulties. In the meantime, the forest began to change its hues,
losing that lively green which had embellished its arches, in the graver light which is the
usual precursor of the close of day.
While the eyes of the sisters were endeavoring to catch glimpses through the trees, of the
flood of golden glory which formed a glittering halo around the sun, tinging here and
there with ruby streaks, or bordering with narrow edgings of shining yellow, a mass of
clouds that lay piled at no great distance above the western hills, Hawkeye turned
suddenly and pointing upward toward the gorgeous heavens, he spoke:
"Yonder is the signal given to man to seek his food and natural rest," he said; "better and
wiser would it be, if he could understand the signs of nature, and take a lesson from the
fowls of the air and the beasts of the field! Our night, however, will soon be over, for
with the moon we must be up and moving again. I remember to have fou't the Maquas,
hereaways, in the first war in which I ever drew blood from man; and we threw up a work
of blocks, to keep the ravenous varmints from handling our scalps. If my marks do not
fail me, we shall find the place a few rods further to our left."
Without waiting for an assent, or, indeed, for any reply, the sturdy hunter moved boldly
into a dense thicket of young chestnuts, shoving aside the branches of the exuberant
shoots which nearly covered the ground, like a man who expected, at each step, to
discover some object he had formerly known. The recollection of the scout did not
deceive him. After penetrating through the brush, matted as it was with briars, for a few
hundred feet, he entered an open space, that surrounded a low, green hillock, which was
crowned by the decayed blockhouse in question. This rude and neglected building was
one of those deserted works, which, having been thrown up on an emergency, had been
abandoned with the disappearance of danger, and was now quietly crumbling in the
solitude of the forest, neglected and nearly forgotten, like the circumstances which had
 
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