The Last of the Mohicans HTML version

Chapter 30
"If you deny me, fie upon your law! There is no force in the decrees of Venice: I stand
for judgment: answer, shall I have it?"--Merchant of Venice
The silence continued unbroken by human sounds for many anxious minutes. Then the
waving multitude opened and shut again, and Uncas stood in the living circle. All those
eyes, which had been curiously studying the lineaments of the sage, as the source of their
own intelligence, turned on the instant, and were now bent in secret admiration on the
erect, agile, and faultless person of the captive. But neither the presence in which he
found himself, nor the exclusive attention that he attracted, in any manner disturbed the
self-possession of the young Mohican. He cast a deliberate and observing look on every
side of him, meeting the settled expression of hostility that lowered in the visages of the
chiefs with the same calmness as the curious gaze of the attentive children. But when, last
in this haughty scrutiny, the person of Tamenund came under his glance, his eye became
fixed, as though all other objects were already forgotten. Then, advancing with a slow
and noiseless step up the area, he placed himself immediately before the footstool of the
sage. Here he stood unnoted, though keenly observant himself, until one of the chiefs
apprised the latter of his presence.
"With what tongue does the prisoner speak to the Manitou?" demanded the patriarch,
without unclosing his eyes.
"Like his fathers," Uncas replied; "with the tongue of a Delaware."
At this sudden and unexpected annunciation, a low, fierce yell ran through the multitude,
that might not inaptly be compared to the growl of the lion, as his choler is first awakened
-- a fearful omen of the weight of his future anger. The effect was equally strong on the
sage, though differently exhibited. He passed a hand before his eyes, as if to exclude the
least evidence of so shameful a spectacle, while he repeated, in his low, guttural tones,
the words he had just heard.
"A Delaware! I have lived to see the tribes of the Lenape driven from their council-fires,
and scattered, like broken herds of deer, among the hills of the Iroquois! I have seen the
hatchets of a strong people sweep woods from the valleys, that the winds of heaven have
spared! The beasts that run on the mountains, and the birds that fly above the trees, have I
seen living in the wigwams of men; but never before have I found a Delaware so base as
to creep, like a poisonous serpent, into the camps of his nation."
"The singing-birds have opened their bills," returned Uncas, in the softest notes of his
own musical voice; "and Tamenund has heard their song."
The sage started, and bent his head aside, as if to catch the fleeting sounds of some
passing melody.