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ROGER MALVIN'S BURIAL.

BY NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.

One of the few incidents of Indian rock, oaks and other hard-wood trees warfare, naturally susceptible of the had supplied the place of the pines, moonlight of romance, was that expe- which were the usual growth of the dition, undertaken for the defence of land ; and a young and vigorous sapling the frontiers in the year 1725, which stood close beside the travellers. resulted in the well-remembered The severe wound of the elder man “ Lovell's Fight. Imagination, by had probably deprived him of sleep; casting certain circumstances judi- for, so soon as the first ray of sunshine ciously into the shade, may see much rested on the top of the highest tree, to admire in the heroism of a little he reared himself painfully from his band, who gave battle to twice their recumbent posture, and sat erect. The number in the heart of the enemy's deep lines of his countenance, and the country. The open bravery displayed scattered grey of his hair, marked him by both parties was in accordance with as past the middle age ; but his muscucivilized ideas of valor, and chivalrylar frame would, but for the effects of itself might not blush to record the his wound, have been as capable of deeds of one or two individuals. The sustaining fatigue, as in the early battle, though so fatal to those who vigor of life. Languor and exhausfought, was not unfortunate in its con- tion now sat upon his haggard features, sequences to the country ; for it broke and the despairing glance which he the strength of a tribe, and conduced sent forward through the depths of the to the peace which subsisted during forest, proved his own conviction that several ensuing years. History and his pilgrimage was at an end. He tradition are unusually minute in their next turned his eyes to the companion memorials of this affair; and the cap- who reclined by his side. The youth, tain of a scouting party of frontier-men for he had scarcely attained the years has acquired as actual a military re of manhood, lay, with his head upon nown, as many a victorious leader of his arm, in the embrace of an unquiet thousands. Some of the incidents sleep, which a thrill of pain from his contained in the following pages will wounds seemed each moment on the be recognized, notwithstanding the sub- point of breaking. His right hand stitution of fictitious names, by such as grasped a musket, and, to judge from have heard, from old men's lips, the the violent action of his features, fate of the few combatants who were his slumbers were bringing back a in a condition to retreat, after“ Lovell's vision of the conflict, of which he was Fight."

one of the few survivors. A shout,

deep and loud to his dreaming fancy, The early sunbeams hovered cheer- found its way in an imperfect murmur fully upon the tree-tops, beneath which to his lips, and, starting even at the two weary and wounded men had slight sound of his own voice, he sudstretched their limbs the night before. denly awoke. The first act of revivTheir bed of withered oak-leaves was ing recollection was to make anxious strewn upon the small levelspace, at the inquiries respecting the condition of foot of a rock, situated near the sum his wounded fellow-traveller. The mit of one of the gentle swells, by latter shook his head. which the face

of the country is there “ Reuben, my boy,” said he, “this diversified. The mass of granite, rock, beneath which we sit, will serve rearing its smooth, flat surface, fifteen for an old hunter's grave-stone. There or twenty feet above their heads, was is many and many a long mile of howlnot unlike a gigantic grave-stone, upon ing wilderness before us

yet; nor which the veins seemed to form an would it avail me anything, if the inscription in forgotten characters. On smoke of my own chimney were but a tract of several acres around this on the other side of that swell of land.

"

The Indian bullet was deadlier than I rior. Tarry not, then, for a folly like thought."

this, but hasten away, if not for your “ You are weary with our three days' own sake, for hers who will else be travel,” replied the youth, "and a little desolate.” longer rest will recruit you. Sit you Malvin spoke the last few words in a here, while I search the woods for the faultering voice, and their effect upon herbs and roots, that must be our sus- his companion was strongly visible. tenance; and having eaten, you shall They reminded him that there were lean on me, and we will turn our faces other, and less questionable duties, than homeward. I doubt not, that, with my that of sharing the fate of a man whom help, you can attain to some one of the his death could not benefit. Nor can frontier garrisons.”

it be affirmed that no selfish feeling " There is not two days' life in me, strove to enter Reuben's heart, though Reuben,” said the other, calmly, “and Í the consciousness made him more will no longer burthen you with my earnestly resist his companion's enuseless body, when you can scarcely treaties. support your own. Your wounds are

“ How terrible, to wait the slow apdeep, and your strength is failing fast; proach of death, in this solitude !" exyet, if you hasten onward alone, you claimed he. A brave man does not may be preserved. For me there is shrink in the battle, and, when friends no hope ; and I will await death here.” stand round the bed, even women may

“If it must be so, I will remain die composedly; but here and watch by you,” said Reuben, reso “I shall not shrink, even here, Reulutely.

ben Bourne,” interrupted Malvin; “ I No, my son, no," rejoined his com am a man of no weak heart ; and, if I panion. “Let the wish of a dying were, there is a surer support than that man have weight with you; give me

of earthly friends. You are young, and one grasp of your hand, and get you life is dear to you. Your last moments hence. Think you that my last mo- will need comfort far more than mine ; ments will be eased by the thought, and when you have laid me in the that I leave you to die a more linger- earth, and are alone, and night is seting death? I have loved you like a tling on the forest, you will feel all the father, Reuben, and, at a time like this, bitterness of the death that may now I should have something of a father's be escaped. But I will urge no selfish authority. I charge you to be gone, motive your generous nature. that I may die in peace.

Leave me for my sake; that, having “ And because you have been a father said a prayer for your safety, I may to me, should I therefore leave you to have space to settle my account, undisperish, and to lie unburied in the wil- turbed by worldly sorrows. derness ?" exclaimed the youth. “No;

“ And

your daughter! How shall I if your end be in truth approaching, I dare to meet her eye?" exclaimed will watch by you, and receive your Reuben. “She will ask the fate of parting words. I will dig a grave here her father, whose life I vowed to defend by the rock, in which, if my weakness with my own. Must I tell her, that he overcome me, we will rest together; travelled three days' march with me or, if Heaven gives me strength, Í from the field of battle, and that then I will seek my way home.”

left him to perish in the wilderness? “ In the cities, and wherever men Were it not better to lie down and die dwell,” replied the other, " they bury by your side, than to return safe, and their dead in the earth; they hide say this to Dorcas?" them from the sight of the living ; but " Tell my daughter,” said Roger here, where no step may pass, perhaps Malvin, “ that, though yourself sore for a hundred years, wherefore should wounded, and weak, and weary, you I not rest beneath the open sky, cov- led my tottering footsteps many a mile, ered only by the oak-leaves, when the and left me only at my carnest enautumn winds shall strew them? And treaty, because I would not have your for a monument, here is this grey rock, blood upon my soul. Tell her, that on which my dying hand shall carve through pain and danger you were the name of Roger Malvin ; and the faithful, and that, if your life-blood traveller in days to come will know, could have saved me, it would have that here sleeps a hunter and a war- flowed to its last drop. And tell her,

to

that you will be something dearer similarity between the two cases, than a father, and that my blessing is “it is now twenty years, since I with you both, and that my dying eyes escaped, with one dear friend, from can see a long and pleasant path, in Indian captivity, near Montreal. We which you will journey together.” journeyed many days through the woods,

As Malvin spoke, he almost raised till at length, overcome with hunger himself from the ground, and the en- and weariness, my friend lay down, ergy of his concluding words seemed and besought me to leave him ; for he to fill the wild and lonely forest with a knew, that, if I remained, we both vision of happiness. But when he must perish. And, with but little hope sank exhausted upon his bed of oak- of obtaining succor, I heaped a pillow leaves, the light, which had kindled in of dry leaves beneath his head, and Reuben's eye, was quenched. He felt hastened on.” as if it were both sin and folly to think " And did you return in time to save of happiness at such a moment. His him ?" asked Reuben, hanging on Malcompanion watched his changing coun- vin's words, as if they were to be protenance, and sought, with generous phetic of his own success. art, to wile him to his own good.

“I did," answered the other, “I "Perhaps I deceive myself in regard came upon the camp of a huntingto the time I have to live," he resumed. party, before sunset of the same day. “ It may be, that, with speedy assist- I guided them to the spot where my ance, I might recover of my wound. The comrade was expecting death; and he foremost fugitives must, ere this, have is now a hale and hearty man, upon his carried tidings of our fatal battle to own farm, far within the frontiers, the frontiers, and parties will be out to while I lie wounded here, in the depths succor those in like condition with our- of the wilderness." selves. Should you meet one of these, This example, powerful in effecting and guide them hither, who can tell Reuben's decision, was aided, unconbut that I may sit by my own fireside sciously to himself, by the hidden again ?”

strength of many another motive. Roger A mournful smile strayed across the Malvin perceived that the victory was features of the dying man, as he in- nearly won. sinuated that unfounded hope ; which, Now

go, my son, and Heaven however, was not without its effect on

prosper you!” he said.

“ Turn not Reuben. No merely selfish motive, back with your friends, when you meet nor even the desolate condition of Dor- them, lest your wounds and weariness cas, could have induced him to desert overcome you ; but send hitherward his companion, at such a moment. But two or three, that may be spared, to his wishes seized upon the thought, search for me. And believe me, Reuthat Malvin's life might be preserved, ben, my heart will be lighter with and his sanguine nature heightened, every step you take towards home.” almost to certainty, the remote possi. Yet there was perhaps a change, both bility of procuring human aid.

in his countenance and voice, as he Surely there is reason, weighty spoke thus ; for, after all, it was a reason, to hope that friends are not far ghastly fate, to be left expiring in the distant;" he said, half aloud. “ There wilderness. fled one coward, unwounded, in the Reuben Bourne, but half convinced beginning of the fight, and most proba- that he was acting rightly, at length bly he made good speed. Every true raised himself from the ground, and man on the frontier would shoulder his prepared for his departure. And first, musket, at the news; and though no though contrary to Malvin's wishes, he party may range so far into the woods collected a stock of roots and herbs, as this, I shall perhaps encounter them which had been their only food during in one day's march. Counsel me faith- the last two days. This useless supfully,” he added, turning to Malvin, in ply he placed within reach of the dying distrust of his own motives. “ Were man, for whom, also, he swept toyour situation mine, would you desert gether a fresh bed of dry oak-leaves. me while life remained ?”

Then, climbing to the summit of the “ It is now twenty years," replied rock, which on one side was rough and Roger Malvin, sighing, however, as he broken, he bent the oak-sapling downsecretly acknowledged the wide dis- wards, and bound his handkerchief to

the topmost branch. This precaution endeavored to persuade the youth, that was not unnecessary, to direct any who even the speediest succor might avail might come in search of Malvin; for to the preservation of his life. Reuben every part of the rock, except its was internally convinced, that he should broad, smooth front, was concealed, at see Malvin's living face no more. His a little distance, by the dense under- generous nature would fain have degrowth of the forest

. The handker- layed him, at whatever risk, till the chief had been the bandage of a wound dying scene were past; but the desire upon Reuben's arm; and, as he bound of existence and the hope of happiness it to the tree, he vowed, by the blood had strengthened in his heart, and he that stained it, that he would return, was unable to resist them. either to save his companion's life, or “ It is enough,” said Roger Malvin, to lay his body in the grave. He then having listened to Reuben's promise. descended, and stood, with downcast Go, and God speed you !" eyes, to receive Roger Malvin's part The youth pressed his hand in ing words.

silence, turned, and was departing. The experience of the latter suggest- His slow and faltering steps, however, ed much and minute advice, respect- had borne him but a little way, before ing the youth's journey through the Malvin's voice recalled him. trackless forest. Upon this subject he “ Reuben, Reuben,” said he, faintly ; spoke with calm earnestness, as if he and Reuben returned and knelt down were sending Reuben to the battle or by the dying man. the chase, while he himself remained Raise me, and let me lean against secure at home; and not as if the human the rock," was his last request. “My countenance that was about to leave face will be turned towards home, and him, were the last he would ever be- I shall see you a moment longer, as hold. But his firmness was shaken you pass among the trees.” before he concluded.

Reuben, having made the desired “Carry my blessing to Dorcas, and alteration in his companion's posture, say that my last prayer shall be for her again began his solitary pilgrimage. and you. Bid her have no hard thoughts He walked more hastily at first than because you left me here”—Reuben's was consistent with his strength; for heart smöte him—“ for that your life a sort of guilty feeling, which somewould not have weighed with you, if times torments in their most its sacrifice could have done me good. justifiable acts, caused him to seek conShe will marry you, after she has cealment from Malvin's eyes. But, mourned a little while for her father; after he had trodden far upon the and Heaven grant you long and happy rustling forest-leaves, he crept back, days! and may your children's children impelled by a wild and painful curiosity, stand round your death-bed! And, and, sheltered by the earthy roots of Reuben," added he, as the weakness of an uptorn tree, gazed earnestly at the mortality made its way at last, "return, desolate man. The morning sun was when your wounds are healed and unclouded, and the trees and shrubs your weariness refreshed, return to imbibed the sweet air of the month of this wild rock, and lay my bones in the May; yet there seemed a gloom on grave, and say a prayer over them.” Nature's face, as if she sympathized

An almost superstitious regard, aris- with mortal pain and sorrow. Roger ing perhaps from the customs of the Malvin's hands were uplifted in a ferIndians, whose war was with the dead, vent prayer, some of the words of as well as the living, was paid by the which stole through the stillness of the frontier inhabitants to the rites of se- woods, and entered Reuben's heart, pulture ; and there are many instances torturing it with an unutterable pang. of the sacrifice of life, in the attempt to They were the broken accents of a bury those who had fallen, by the petition for his own happiness and that “sword of the wilderness." Reuben, of Dorcas; and, as the youth listened, therefore, felt the full importance of conscience, or something in its similithe promise, which he most solemnly tude, pleaded strongly with him to made, to return, and perform Roger return, and lie down again by the rock. Malvin's obsequies. It was remarka- He felt how hard was the doom of the ble, that the latter, speaking his whole kind and generous being whom he had heart in his parting words, no longer deserted in his extremity. Death would

men

VOW.

come, like the slow approach of a mothers, wives, and children tell, corpse, stealing gradually towards him whether their loved ones were detained through the forest, and showing its by captivity, or by the stronger chain ghasily and motionless features from of death. Dorcas nourished her apbehind a nearer, and yet a nearer tree. prehensions in silence, till one afterBut such must have been Reuben's own noon, when Reuben awoke from an fate, had he tarried another sunset; unquiet sleep, and seemed to recognize and who shall impute blame to him, if her more perfectly than at any prehe shrank from so useless a sacrifice ? vious time. She saw that his intellect As he gave a parting look, a breeze had become composed, and she could waved the little banner upon the sap- no longer restrain her filial anxiety. ling-oak, and reminded Reuben of his “My father, Reuben ?" she began ;

but the change in her lover's counte

nance made her pause. Many circumstances contributed to

The youth shrank, as if with a bitter retard the wounded traveller in his way pain, and the blood gushed vividly into to the frontiers. On the second day, his wan and hollow cheeks. His first the clouds, gathering densely over the impulse was to cover his face; but, sky, precluded the possibility of regu- apparently with a desperate effort, he lating his course by the position of the half raised himself, and spoke vehesun; and he knew not but that every mently, defending himself against an effort of his almost exhausted strength, imaginary accusation. was removing him farther from the “Your father was sore wounded in home he sought. His scanty suste- the battle, Dorcas, and he bade me not nance was supplied by the berries, and burthen myself with him, but only to other spontaneous products of the fo- lead him to the lake-side, that he might rest. Herds of deer, it is true, some- quench his thirst and die. But I would times bounded past him, and partridges not desert the old man in his extremity, frequently whirred up before his foot- and, though bleeding myself, I supsteps ; but his ammunition had been ported him; I gave him half my expended in the fight, and he had no strength, and led him away with me. means of slaying them. His wounds, For three days we journeyed on toirritated by the constant exertion in gether, and your father was sustained which lay the only hope of life, wore beyond my hopes ; but, awaking at away his strength, and at intervals con sunrise on the fourth day, I found him fused his reason. But, even in the faint and exhausted, -he was unable wanderings of intellect, Reuben's young to proceed,-his life had ebbed away heart clung strongly to existence, and fast,-and”'it was only through absolute incapacity of “He died !” exclaimed Dorcas, motion, that he at last sank down beneath faintly. a tree, compelled there to await death. Reuben felt it impossible to acknow

In this situation he was discovered ledge that his selfish love of life had by a party, who, upon the first intelli- hurried him away, before her father's gence of the fight, had been despatched fate was decided. He spoke not; he to the relief of the survivors. They only bowed his head; and, between conveyed him to the nearest settle- shame and exhaustion, sank back and ment, which chanced to be that of his hid his face in the pillow. Dorcas own residence.

wept, when her fears were thus conDorcas, in the simplicity of the olden firmed; but the shock, as it had been time, watched by the bed-side of her long anticipated, was on that account wounded lover, and administered all the less violent. those comforts, that are in the sole gift “ You dug a grave for my poor of woman's heart and hand. During father in the wilderness, Reuben ?" several days, Reuben's recollection was the question by which her filial strayed drowsily among the perils and piety manifested itself. hardships through which he had passed, “My hands were weak, but I did and he was incapable of returning defi- what I could,” replied the youth in a nite answers to the inquiries, with smothered tone. "There stands a noble which many were eager to harass him. tomb-stone above his head, and I would No authentic particulars of the battle to Heaven I slept as soundly as he ! had yet been circulated; nor could Dorcas, perceiving the wildness of

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