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The Last of the Mohicans

Chapter 1
"Mine ear is open, and my heart prepared: The worst is wordly loss thou canst unfold:--
Say, is my kingdom lost?" --Shakespeare
It was a feature peculiar to the colonial wars of North America, that the toils and dangers
of the wilderness were to be encountered before the adverse hosts could meet. A wide
and apparently an impervious boundary of forests severed the possessions of the hostile
provinces of France and England. The hardy colonist, and the trained European who
fought at his side, frequently expended months in struggling against the rapids of the
streams, or in effecting the rugged passes of the mountains, in quest of an opportunity to
exhibit their courage in a more martial conflict. But, emulating the patience and self-
denial of the practiced native warriors, they learned to overcome every difficulty; and it
would seem that, in time, there was no recess of the woods so dark, nor any secret place
so lovely, that it might claim exemption from the inroads of those who had pledged their
blood to satiate their vengeance, or to uphold the cold and selfish policy of the distant
monarchs of Europe.
Perhaps no district throughout the wide extent of the intermediate frontiers can furnish a
livelier picture of the cruelty and fierceness of the savage warfare of those periods than
the country which lies between the head waters of the Hudson and the adjacent lakes.
The facilities which nature had there offered to the march of the combatants were too
obvious to be neglected. The lengthened sheet of the Champlain stretched from the
frontiers of Canada, deep within the borders of the neighboring province of New York,
forming a natural passage across half the distance that the French were compelled to
master in order to strike their enemies. Near its southern termination, it received the
contributions of another lake, whose waters were so limpid as to have been exclusively
selected by the Jesuit missionaries to perform the typical purification of baptism, and to
obtain for it the title of lake "du Saint Sacrement." The less zealous English thought they
conferred a sufficient honor on its unsullied fountains, when they bestowed the name of
their reigning prince, the second of the house of Hanover. The two united to rob the
untutored possessors of its wooded scenery of their native right to perpetuate its original
appellation of "Horican."*
* As each nation of the Indians had its language or its dialect, they usually gave different
names to the same places, though nearly all of their appellations were descriptive of the
object. Thus a literal translation of the name of this beautiful sheet of water, used by the
tribe that dwelt on its banks, would be "The Tail of the Lake." Lake George, as it is
vulgarly, and now, indeed, legally, called, forms a sort of tail to Lake Champlain, when
viewed on the map. Hence, the name.
Winding its way among countless islands, and imbedded in mountains, the "holy lake"
extended a dozen leagues still further to the south. With the high plain that there