The Last of the Mohicans HTML version

Chapter 25
"Snug.--Have you the lion's part written? Pray you, if it be, give it to me, for I am slow of
study. Quince.--You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring."--Midsummer
Night's Dream
There was a strange blending of the ridiculous with that which was solemn in this scene.
The beast still continued its rolling, and apparently untiring movements, though its
ludicrous attempt to imitate the melody of David ceased the instant the latter abandoned
the field. The words of Gamut were, as has been seen, in his native tongue; and to
Duncan they seem pregnant with some hidden meaning, though nothing present assisted
him in discovering the object of their allusion. A speedy end was, however, put to every
conjecture on the subject, by the manner of the chief, who advanced to the bedside of the
invalid, and beckoned away the whole group of female attendants that had clustered there
to witness the skill of the stranger. He was implicitly, though reluctantly, obeyed; and
when the low echo which rang along the hollow, natural gallery, from the distant closing
door, had ceased, pointing toward his insensible daughter, he said:
"Now let my brother show his power."
Thus unequivocally called on to exercise the functions of his assumed character,
Heyward was apprehensive that the smallest delay might prove dangerous. Endeavoring,
then, to collect his ideas, he prepared to perform that species of incantation, and those
uncouth rites, under which the Indian conjurers are accustomed to conceal their ignorance
and impotency. It is more than probable that, in the disordered state of his thoughts, he
would soon have fallen into some suspicious, if not fatal, error had not his incipient
attempts been interrupted by a fierce growl from the quadruped. Three several times did
he renew his efforts to proceed, and as often was he met by the same unaccountable
opposition, each interruption seeming more savage and threatening than the preceding.
"The cunning ones are jealous," said the Huron; "I go. Brother, the woman is the wife of
one of my bravest young men; deal justly by her. Peace!" he added, beckoning to the
discontented beast to be quiet; "I go."
The chief was as good as his word, and Duncan now found himself alone in that wild and
desolate abode with the helpless invalid and the fierce and dangerous brute. The latter
listened to the movements of the Indian with that air of sagacity that a bear is known to
possess, until another echo announced that he had also left the cavern, when it turned and
came waddling up to Duncan before whom it seated itself in its natural attitude, erect like
a man. The youth looked anxiously about him for some weapon, with which he might
make a resistance against the attack he now seriously expected.
It seemed, however, as if the humor of the animal had suddenly changed. Instead of
continuing its discontented growls, or manifesting any further signs of anger, the whole
of its shaggy body shook violently, as if agitated by some strange internal convulsion.