University of Virginia Library

Search this document 


Page 84


“The sisters' vows, the hours that we have spent,
When we have chid the hasty-footed time.
For parting us—Oh, and is all forgot?”

Midsummer Night's Dream.

On quitting Everell, our heroine, quite unconscious
that she was the subject of painful suspicion
or affectionate anxiety, sought a sequestered
spot, where she might indulge and tranquilize
her feelings.

It has been said that the love of a brother and
sister is the only platonic affection. This truth,
(if it be a truth) is the conviction of an experience
far beyond our heroine's. She had seen in
Esther the pangs of repressed and unrequited
love, and mistaking them for the characteristic
emotions of that sentiment, it was no wonder that
she perceived no affinity to it, in the joyous affection
that had animated her own soul. “After a
little while,” she said, “I shall feel as I did when
we lived together in Bethel; if all that I love are
happy, I must be happy too.” If the cold and
selfish laugh to scorn what they think the reasoning
of ignorance and inexperience, it is because
they have never felt, that to meditate the happiness


Page 85
of others, is to enter upon the ministry,
and the joy of celestial spirits. Not one envious
or repining thought intruded into the heaven of
Hope Leslie's mind. Not one malignant spirit
passed the bounds of that paradise, that was
filled with pure and tender affections, with projects
of goodness, and all their cheerful train.

Hope was longer absorbed in her reverie than
perhaps was quite consistent with her philosophy;
and when she was roused from it by Digby's
voice, she blushed from the consciousness that
her thoughts had been too long withdrawn from
the purpose of her visit to the island. Digby
came to say that his wife's supper-table was
awaiting Miss Leslie. Hope embraced the opportunity,
as they walked together towards his
dwelling, to make her arrangements for the evening.
“Digby,” she said, “I have something to
confide to you, but you must ask me no questions.”

“That's crossing human nature,” replied the
good fellow; “but I think I can swim against the
current for you, Miss Hope.”

“Thank you, Digby. Then, in the first place,
you must know, I expect some friends to meet me
here this evening; all that I ask of you is, to permit
me to remain out unmolested as long as
I may choose. You may tell your wife that I like
to stroll in the garden by moonlight—or to sit and
listen to the waves breaking on the shore—as you
know I do, Digby.”


Page 86

“Yes, Miss Hope, I know your heart always
linked into such things; but it it will be heathen
Greek to my wife—so you must make out a better
reason for her.”

“Then tell her, that I like to have my own

“Ah, that will I,” replied Digby chuckling,
“that is what every woman can understand. I
always said, Miss Hope, it was a pure mercy you
chose the right way, for you always had yours.”

“Perhaps you think, Digby, I have been too
headstrong in my own way.”

“Oh, no! my sweet mistress—no—why this
having our own way, is what every body likes;
it's the privilege we came to this wilderness
world for; and though the gentles up in town
there, with the Governor at their head, hold a
pretty tight rein, yet I can tell them, that there
are many who think what blunt Master Blackstone
said, `that he came not away from the Lordsbishops,
to put himself under the Lord's-brethren.'
No, no, Miss Hope, I watch the motions
of the straws—I know which way the wind blows.
Thought and will are set free. It was but the
other day, so to speak, in the days of good queen
Bess, as they called her, when, if her majesty did
but raise her hand, the parliament folks were all
down on their knees to her; and now, thank God,
the poorest and the lowest of us only kneel to
Him who made us. Times are changed—there
is a new spirit in the world—chains are broken—


Page 87
fetters are knocked off—and the liberty set forth
in the blessed word, is now felt to be every man's
birth-right. But shame on my prating tongue,
that wags so fast when I might hear your nightingale

Hope's mind was pre-occupied, and she found
it difficult to listen to Digby's speculations with
interest, or to respond with animation; but she
was too benignant to lose herself in sullen abstraction,
and when they arrived at the cottage,
she roused her faculties to amuse the children,
and to listen to the mother's stories of their
ominous smartness. She commended the good
wife's milk and cakes, and sat for an half hour
after the table was removed, talking of the past,
and brightening the future prospects of her good
friends, with predictions of their children's prosperity
and respectability—predictions, which,
Digby afterwards said, the sweet young lady's
bounty brought to pass.

Suddenly she sprang from her chair—“Digby,”
she exclaimed, “I think the east is lighting up
with the rising moon—is it not?”

“If it is not, it soon will,” replied Digby, understanding
and favouring her purpose.

“Then,” said Hope, “I will take a walk round
the island, and do not you, Betsy, sit up for me.”
Betsy, of course, remonstrated. The night air
was unwholesome; and though the sky overhead
was clear, yet she had heard distant thunder; the
beach birds had been in flocks on shore all the


Page 88
day; and the breakers on the east side of the
island made a boding sound. These, and other
signs, were urged as arguments against the unseasonable
walk. Of course they were unheeded
by our heroine, who, declaring that with shelter
so near she was in no danger, muffled herself
in her cloak, and sallied forth. She bent her
steps around the cliff which rises at the western
extremity of the island, leaving at its base a few
yards of flat rocky shore, around which the waters
of the bay sweep, deeply indenting it, and
forming a natural cove or harbour for small boats.
As Hope passed around a ledge of rocks, she fancied
she saw a shadow cast by a figure that seemed
flying before her. “They are here already,”
she thought, and hastened forward, expecting to
catch a glimpse of them as soon as she should
turn the angle of the rock—but no figure appeared;
and though Hope imagined she heard stones
rattling, as if displaced by hurried steps, she was
soon convinced the sound was accidental. Alive
only to one expectation, she seated herself, without
any apprehension, to await in this solitude
the coming of her sister.

The moon rose unclouded, and sent her broad
stream of light across the beautiful bay, kindling
in her beams the islands that gemmed it, and disclosing,
with a dim indefinite light, the distant
town rising over this fair domain of sea and
land—hills, heights, jutting points, and islands,
then unknown to fame, but now consecrated in


Page 89
domestic annals, and illustrious in the patriot's

Whatever charms the scene might have presented
to our heroine's eye at another moment,
she was now only conscious of one emotion of feverish
impatience. She gazed and listened till
her senses ached; and at last, when anticipation
had nearly yielded to despair, her ear caught the
dash of oars; and at the next moment, a canoe
glanced around the headland into the cove; she
darted to the brink of the water—she gazed intently
on the little bark—her whole soul was in
that look. Her sister was there. At this first assurance,
that she really beheld this loved, lost
sister, Hope uttered a scream of joy; but when,
at a second glance, she saw her in her savage attire,
fondly leaning on Oneco's shoulder, her
heart died within her; a sickening feeling came
over her, an unthought of revolting of nature;
and instead of obeying the first impulse, and
springing forward to clasp her in her arms, she
retreated to the cliff, leaned her head against it,
averted her eyes, and pressed her hands on her
heart, as if she would have bound down her rebel

Magawisca's voice aroused her. “Hope Leslie,”
she said, “take thy sister's hand.”

Hope stretched out her hand, without lifting
her eyes; but when she felt her sister's touch, the
energies of nature awoke, she threw her arms


Page 90
around her, folded her to her bosom, laid her
cheek on hers, and wept as if her heart would
burst in every sob.

Mary (we use the appellative by which Hope
had known her sister,) remained passive in her
arms. Her eye was moistened, but she seemed
rather abashed and confounded, than excited;
and when Hope released her, she turned towards
Oneco with a look of simple wonder. Hope
again threw her arm around her sister, and intently
explored her face for some trace of those
infantine features that were impressed on her memory.
“It is—it is my sister!” she exclaimed,
and kissed her cheek again and again. “Oh!
Mary, do you not remember when we sat together
on mother's knee? Do you not remember, when
with her own burning hand, the very day she
died, she put those chains on our necks? Do you
not remember when they held us up to kiss her
cold lips?” Mary looked towards Magawisca
for an explanation of her sister's words. “Look
at me, Mary—speak to me,” continued Hope.

“No speak Yengees,” replied Mary, exhausting
in this brief sentence, all the English she could

Hope, in the impetuosity of her feelings, had
forgotten that Magawisca had forewarned her
not to indulge the expectation that her sister
could speak to her; and the melancholy truth,
announced by her own lips, seemed to Hope to
open a new and impassable gulf between them.


Page 91
She wrung her hands; “Oh what shall I do!
what shall I say?” she exclaimed.

Magawisca now advanced to her, and said in
a compassionate tone, “Let me be thy interpreter,
Hope Leslie; and be thou more calm. Dost
thou not see thy sister is to thee as the feather
borne on the torrent?”

“I will be more calm, Magawisca; but promise
me you will interpret truly for me.”

A blush of offended pride overspread Magawisca's
cheek. “We hold truth to be the health
of the soul,” she said: “thou mayest speak, maiden,
without fear that I will abate one of thy

“Oh, I fear nothing wrong from you, Magawisca—forgive
me—forgive me—I know not
what I say or do.” She drew her sister to a
rock, and they sat down together. Hope knew
not how to address one so near to her by nature,
so far removed by habit and education. She
thought that if Mary's dress, which was singularly
and gaudily decorated, had a less savage aspect,
she might look more natural to her; and she
signed to her to remove the mantle she wore,
made of birds' feathers, woven together with
threads of the wild nettle. Mary threw it aside,
and disclosed her person, light and agile as a
fawn's, clothed with skins, neatly fitted to her
waist and arms, and ambitiously embellished with
bead work. The removal of the mantle, instead
of the effect designed, only served to make more


Page 92
striking the aboriginal peculiarities; and Hope,
shuddering and heart-sick, made one more effort
to disguise them by taking off her silk cloak and
wrapping it close around her sister. Mary seemed
instantly to comprehend the language of the
action, she shook her head, gently disengaged herself
from the cloak, and resumed her mantle. An
involuntary exclamation of triumph burst from
Oneco's lips. “Oh tell her,” said Hope to Magawisca,
“that I want once more to see her in the
dress of her own people—of her own family—from
whose arms she was torn to be dragged into captivity.”

A faint smile curled Magawisca's lip, but she
interpreted faithfully Hope's communication, and
Mary's reply, “`she does not like the English
dress,' she says.”

“Ask her,” said Hope, “if she remembers the
day when the wild Indians sprung upon the family
at Bethel, like wolves upon a fold of lambs?—
If she remembers when Mrs. Fletcher and her
innocent little ones were murdered, and she
stolen away?”

“She says, `she remembers it well, for then it
was Oneco saved her life.' ”

Hope groaned aloud. “Ask her,” she continued
with unabated eagerness, “if she remembers
when we played together, and read together, and
knelt together at our mother's feet; when she
told us of the God that made us, and the Saviour
that redeemed us?”


Page 93

“She remembers something of all this, but
she says, `it is faint and distant, like the vanishing
vapour on the far-off mountain.' ”

“Oh, tell her, Magawisca, if she will come
home and live with me, I will devote my life to
her. I will watch over her in sickness and health.
I will be mother, sister, friend to her—tell her,
that our mother, now a saint in heaven, stoops
from her happy place to entreat her to return to
our God, and our father's God.”

Mary shook her head in a manner indicative of
a more determined feeling than she had before
manifested, and took from her bosom a crucifix,
which she fervently pressed to her lips.

Every motive Hope offered was powerless,
every mode of entreaty useless, and she leaned her
head despondently on Mary's shoulder. The contrast
between the two faces thus brought together,
was most striking. Hope's hat had slipped
back, and her rich brown tresses fell about her
neck and face; her full eye was intently fixed on
Mary, and her cheek glowing with impassioned
feeling. She looked like an angel touched with
some mortal misery; while Mary's face, pale and
spiritless, was only redeemed from absolute vacancy
by an expression of gentleness and modesty.
Hope's hand was lying on her sister's lap,
and a brilliant diamond ring caught Mary's attention.
Hope perceived this, and instantly drew
it from her own finger and placed it on Mary's;
“and here is another—and another—and another,”


Page 94
she cried, making the same transfer of
all her rings. “Tell her, Magawisca, if she will
come home with me, she shall be decked with
jewels from head to foot, she shall have feathers
from the most beautiful birds that wing the air,
and flowers that never fade—tell her that all I
possess shall be hers.”

“Shall I tell her so?” asked Magawisca, with a
mingled expression of contempt and concern, as
if she herself despised the lure, but feared that
Mary might be caught by it, for the pleased girl
was holding her hand before her, turning it, and
gazing with child-like delight on the gems, as
they caught and reflected the moon-beams.
“Shall I ask your sister to barter truth and love,
the jewels of the soul, that grow brighter and
brighter in the land of spirits, for these poor
perishing trifles?—Oh, Hope Leslie, I had better
thoughts of thee.”

“I cannot help it, Magawisca; I am driven to
try every way to win back my sister—tell her, I
entreat you, tell her what I have said.”

Magawisca faithfully repeated all the motives
Hope had urged, while Hope herself clasped her
sister's hand, and looked in her face with a mute
supplication, more earnest than words could express.
Mary hesitated, and her eye turned quickly
to Oneco, to Magawisca, and then again rested
on her sister. Hope felt her hand tremble in
hers. Mary, for the first time, bent towards her,
and laid her cheek to Hope's. Hope uttered a


Page 95
scream of delight, “Oh, she does not refuse, she
will stay with me,” she exclaimed. Mary understood
the exclamation, and suddenly recoiled,
and hastily drew the rings from her fingers. “Keep
them—keep them,” said Hope, bursting into
tears, if “we must be cruelly parted again, they
will sometimes speak to you of me.”

At this moment, a bright light as of burning
flax, flamed up from the cliff above them, threw
a momentary flash over the water, and then
disappeared. Oneco rose, “I like not this light,”
he said, “we must begone, we have redeemed
our promise,” and he took Hope's cloak from
the ground, and gave it to her as a signal that
the moment of separation had arrived.

“Oh, stay one moment longer,” cried Hope.
Oneco pointed to the heavens, over which black
and threatening clouds were rapidly gathering, and
Magawisca said, “do not ask us to delay, my
father has waited long enough.” Hope now for
the first time observed there was an Indian in
the canoe, wrapped in skins, and listlessly waiting
in a recumbent position the termination of
the scene. “Is that Mononotto?” said she, shuddering
at the thought of the bloody scenes with
which he was associated in her mind; but before
her inquiry was answered, the subject of it
sprang to his feet, and uttering an exclamation
of surprise, stretched his hand towards the town.
All at once perceived the object towards which
he pointed. A bright strong light streamed upward


Page 96
from the highest point of land, and sent a
ruddy glow over the bay. Every eye turned inquiringly
to Hope. “It is nothing,” she said to
Magawisca, “but the light that is often kindled on
Beacon-Hill to guide the ships into the harbour.
The night is becoming dark, and some vessel is
expected in—that is all, believe me.”

Whatever trust her visitors might have reposed
in Hope's good faith, they were evidently alarmed
by an appearance which they did not think sufficiently
accounted for; and Oneco hearing, or
imagining he heard, approaching oars, said in his
own language to Magawisca, “we have no time
to lose—I will not permit my white bird to remain
any longer within reach of the net.”

Magawisca assented: “We must go,” she said;
“we must not longer hazard our father's life.”
Oneco sprang into the canoe, and called to Mary
to follow him.

“Oh, spare her one single moment!” said Hope,
imploringly to Magawisca, and she drew her a few
paces from the shore, and knelt down with her,
and in a half articulate prayer, expressed the tenderness
and sorrow of her soul, and committed
her sister to God. Mary understood her action,
and feeling that their separation was for ever,
nature for a moment asserted her rights; she returned
Hope's embrace, and wept on her bosom.

While the sisters were thus folded in one another's
arms, a loud yell burst from the savages;
Magawisca caught Mary by the arms, and Hope


Page 97
turning, perceived that a boat filled with armed
men, had passed the projecting point of land, and
borne in by the tide, it instantly touched the beach,
and in another instant Magawisca and Mary were
prisoners. Hope saw the men were in the uniform
of the Governor's guard. One moment before
she would have given worlds to have had her
sister in her power; but now, the first impulse of
her generous spirit, was an abhorrence of her
seeming treachery to her friends. “Oh, Oneco,”
she cried, springing towards the canoe, “I did
not—indeed I did not know of it.” She had
scarcely uttered the words, which fell from her
neither understood nor heeded, when Oneco
caught her in his arms, and shouting to Magawisca
to tell the English, that as they dealt by Mary,
so would he deal by her sister; he gave the canoe
the first impulse, and it shot out like an arrow,
distancing and defying pursuit.

Oneco's coup-de-main seemed to petrify all
present. They were roused by Sir Philip Gardiner,
who, coming round the base of the cliff, appeared
among them; and learning the cause of
their amazement, he ordered them, with a burst of
passionate exclamation, instantly to man the boat,
and proceed with him in pursuit. This, one
and all refused. “Daylight, and calm water,”
they said, “would be necessary to give any hope
to such a pursuit, and the storm was now gathering
so fast, as to render it dangerous to venture
out at all.”


Page 98

Sir Philip endeavoured to alarm them with
threats of the Governor's displeasure, and to persuade
them with offers of high reward; but they
understood too well the danger and hopelessness
of the attempt to risk it, and they remained inexorable.
Sir Philip then went in quest of Digby,
and at the distance of a few paces met him.
Alarmed by the rapid approach of the storm, he
was seeking Miss Leslie; when he learned her
fate from Sir Philip's hurried communication,
he uttered a cry of despair. “Oh! I would
go after her,” he said, “if I had but a cockle
shell; but it seems as if the foul fiends were at
work: my boat was this morning sent to town to
be repaired. And yet what could we do?” He
added, shuddering, “the wind is rising to that degree,
that I think no boat could live in the bay;
and it is getting as dark as Egypt—Oh, God
save my precious young lady!—God have mercy
on her!” he continued. A sudden burst of thunder
heightened his alarm—“man can do nothing
for her. Why in the name of heaven,” he added,
with a natural desire to appropriate the blame
of misfortune, “why must they be for ever meddling;
why not let the sisters meet and part in

`Oh! why not?' thought Sir Philip, who would
have given his right hand to have retraced the
steps that had led to this most unlooked for and
unhappy issue of the affair. They were now
joined by the guard with their prisoners. Digby


Page 99
was requested to lead them instantly to a shelter.
He did so; and, agitated as he was with fear and
despair for Miss Leslie, he did not fail to greet
Magawisca, as one to whom all honour was due.
She heeded him not—she seemed scarcely conscious
of the cries of Faith Leslie, who was weeping
like a child, and clinging to her. The treachery
that had betrayed her wrapt her soul in indignation,
and nothing roused her but the blasts
of wind and flashes of lightning, that seemed to
her the death-knell of her father.

The storm continued for the space of an hour,
and then died away as suddenly as it had gathered.
In another hour, the guard had safely
landed at the wharf, and were conveying their
prisoners to the Governor. He, and his confidential
counsellors, who had been awaiting
at his house, the return of their emissaries,
solaced themselves with the belief that all parties
were safely sheltered on the island; and probably
would remain there during the night. While
they were whispering this conclusion to one another,
at one extremity of the parlour, Everell sat
beside Miss Downing, in the recess of a window,
that overlooked the garden. The huge projecting
chimney formed a convenient screen for the
lovers. The evening was warm—the window-sash
thrown up. The moon had come forth, and
shed a mild lustre through the dewy atmosphere;
the very light that the young and sentimental—and
above all, young and sentimental


Page 100
lovers, most delight in. But in vain did Everell
look abroad for inspiration; in vain did he turn
his eyes to Esther's face, now more beautiful than
ever, flushed as it was with the first dawn of happiness;
in vain did he try to recall his truant
thoughts, to answer words to her timid but bright
glances; he would not—he could not say what he
did not feel; and the few sentences he uttered
fell on his own ear like the cold abstractions of
philosophy. While he was in this durance his father
was listening—if a man stretched on a rack
can be said to listen—to Madam Winthrop's
whispered and reiterated assurances of her entire
approbation of her niece's choice.

This was the position of all parties, when a
bustle was heard in the court, and the guard entered.
The foremost advanced to the Governor
and communicated a few sentences in a low tone.
The Governor manifested unusual emotion, turned
round suddenly, and exclaimed, “here, Mr.
Fletcher—Everell;” and then motioning to them
to keep their places, he said in an under voice to
those near to him, “we must first dispose of our
prisoner—come forward, Magawisca.”

“Magawisca!” echoed Everell, springing at
one bound into the hall. But Magawisca shrunk
back, and averted her face. “Now God be
praised!” he exclaimed, as he caught the first
glance of a form never to be forgotten—“it is—
it is Magawisca!” She did not speak, but drew
away, and leaned her head against the wall.


Page 101
“What means this?” he said, now for the first
time espying Faith Leslie, and then looking round
on the guard, “what means it, sir?” he demanded,
turning somewhat imperiously to the Governor.

“It means, sir,” replied the Governor coldly,
“that this Indian woman is the prisoner of the

“It means that I am a prisoner, lured to the
net, and betrayed.”

“You a prisoner—here, Magawisca!” Everell
exclaimed—“impossible; justice, gratitude, humanity,
forbid it. My father—Governor Winthrep,
you will not surely suffer this outrage.”

The elder Fletcher had advanced, and scarcely
less perplexed and agitated than his son, was endeavouring
to draw forth Faith Leslie, who had
shrunk behind Magawisca. Governor Winthrop
seemed not at all pleased with Everell's interference.
“You will do well, young Mr. Fletcher,
to bridle your zeal; private feelings must yield to
the public good; this young woman is suspected
of being an active agent in brewing the conspiracy
forming against us among the Indian tribes;
and it is somewhat bold in you to oppose the
course of justice—to intermeddle with the public
welfare—to lift your feeble judgment against the
wisdom of Providence, which has led by peculiar
means, to the apprehension of the enemy. Conduct
your prisoner to the jail,” he added, turning


Page 102
to the guard; “and bid Barnaby have her in
close and safe keeping, till further orders.”

“For the love of God, sir,” cried Everell, “do
not this injustice. At least suffer her to remain
in your own house, on her promise—more secure
than the walls of a prison.” Governor Winthrop
only replied by signing to the guards to proceed
to their duty.

“Stay one moment,” exclaimed Everell;
“permit her, I beseech you, to remain here;
place her in any one of your apartments, and I
will remain before it, a faithful warder, night and
day. But do not—do not, I beseech you, sully
our honour by committing this noble creature to
your jail.

“Listen to my son, I entreat you,” said the elder
Fletcher, unable any longer to restrain his
own feelings—“certainly we owe much to this

“You owe much, undoubtedly,” replied the
Governor, “but it yet remains to be proved, my
friend, that your son's redeemed life is to be put
in the balance against the public weal.”

Esther, who had observed the scene with an intense
interest, now overcame her timidity so far,
as to penetrate the circle that surrounded the
Governor, and to attempt to enforce Everell's
prayer. “May not Magawisca,” she said, “share
our apartment, Hope's and mine; she will then,
in safe custody await your further pleasure.”

“Thanks, Esther—thanks,” cried Everell, with


Page 103
an animation that would have rewarded a far
more difficult effort; but all efforts were unavailing
but not useless, for Magawisca said to Everell
“you have sent light into my darkened soul —
you have truth, and gratitude, and for the rest, they
are but what I deemed them. Send me,” she
continued, proudly turning to the Governor, “to
your dungeon—all places are alike to me, while I
am your prisoner; but for the sake of Everell
Fletcher, let me tell you, that she, who is dearer
to him than his own soul, if indeed she has lived
out the perils of this night, must answer for my
safe keeping.”

“Hope Leslie!” exclaimed Everell; “what has
happened—what do you mean, Magawisca?”

“She was the decoy bird,” replied Magawisca
calmly; “and she too is caught in the net.”

“Explain, I beseech you!” The Governor
answered Everell's appeal by a brief explanation.
A bustle ensued—every other feeling was now
lost in concern for Hope Leslie; and Magawisca
was separated from her weeping and frightened
companion, and conducted away without further
opposition; while the two Fletchers, as if life and
death hung on every instant, were calling on the
Governor to aid them in the way and means of
pursuit. But as we hope our readers sympathise
in their apprehensions, we must leave them to return
to our heroine.