The Last of the Mohicans
"Be gay securely; Dispel, my fair, with smiles, the tim'rous clouds, That hang on thy clear
brow."--Death of Agrippina
The sudden and almost magical change, from the stirring incidents of the combat to the
stillness that now reigned around him, acted on the heated imagination of Heyward like
some exciting dream. While all the images and events he had witnessed remained deeply
impressed on his memory, he felt a difficulty in persuading him of their truth. Still
ignorant of the fate of those who had trusted to the aid of the swift current, he at first
listened intently to any signal or sounds of alarm, which might announce the good or evil
fortune of their hazardous undertaking. His attention was, however, bestowed in vain; for
with the disappearance of Uncas, every sign of the adventurers had been lost, leaving him
in total uncertainty of their fate.
In a moment of such painful doubt, Duncan did not hesitate to look around him, without
consulting that protection from the rocks which just before had been so necessary to his
safety. Every effort, however, to detect the least evidence of the approach of their hidden
enemies was as fruitless as the inquiry after his late companions. The wooded banks of
the river seemed again deserted by everything possessing animal life. The uproar which
had so lately echoed through the vaults of the forest was gone, leaving the rush of the
waters to swell and sink on the currents of the air, in the unmingled sweetness of nature.
A fish-hawk, which, secure on the topmost branches of a dead pine, had been a distant
spectator of the fray, now swooped from his high and ragged perch, and soared, in wide
sweeps, above his prey; while a jay, whose noisy voice had been stilled by the hoarser
cries of the savages, ventured again to open his discordant throat, as though once more in
undisturbed possession of his wild domains. Duncan caught from these natural
accompaniments of the solitary scene a glimmering of hope; and he began to rally his
faculties to renewed exertions, with something like a reviving confidence of success.
"The Hurons are not to be seen," he said, addressing David, who had by no means
recovered from the effects of the stunning blow he had received; "let us conceal ourselves
in the cavern, and trust the rest to Providence."
"I remember to have united with two comely maidens, in lifting up our voices in praise
and thanksgiving," returned the bewildered singing-master; "since which time I have
been visited by a heavy judgment for my sins. I have been mocked with the likeness of
sleep, while sounds of discord have rent my ears, such as might manifest the fullness of
time, and that nature had forgotten her harmony."
"Poor fellow! thine own period was, in truth, near its accomplishment! But arouse, and
come with me; I will lead you where all other sounds but those of your own psalmody
shall be excluded."