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THE GREEN MOUNTAIN BOYS. .
" And now for scenes where nature in her pride
Roar'd in rough floods, and wav'd in forests wide
Those who have wandered along the banks of the Otter Creek, in search of the beautiful and picturesque, may have extended their rambles, perhaps, to lake Dunmore, which lies embosomed among the hills a few miles to the eastward of that quiet stream. If so, their taste for natural scenery has doubtless been amply gratified; for there is no spot in the whole range of the Green Mountains that combines more of the requisites for a perfect landscape than this romantic sheet of water and its surrounding shores. Of an oblong form, about four miles in length and one in breadth, this lake, or pond, as such bodies of water are more usually denominated among us, lies extended between the main ridge and a collateral eminence on the west, of a height but little more than sufficient to serve as a secure embankment to this noble reservoir of the hills. From the eastern shore the land rises abruptly into a lofty mountain, which, like some mighty giantess, sits enthroned in the mid heavens, her head turbaned with a wreath of white mist, and looking down with seeming fondness and care upon the bright daughter, that reflecting back her own rude image, lies quietly reposing in her lap, receiving the rich supply of a thousand pearly rills that come gushing to her opening lips. To the north and south open long and beautiful vistas, extending along over the bright extremities of the lake, and terminating among the far off peaks of the Green Mountains; while from the western shore the land, after a gentle rise for a short distance, falls off rapidly toward the Otter, leaving the broad and extensive valley of that stream open to the vision, which now wanders unobstructed to the western borders of the lake Champlain, where the long chain of mountains that rise immediately beyond, lies sleeping in the blue distance, and bounds the view of this magnificent scene.
It was near sunset, on one of the last days of April, and in the same year and month which were marked by the opening scene of our great national drama, that four stout and hardy looking men, two of them of about the middle age, and two considerably younger, were seen occupying a large log canoe near the eastern shore of the lake just described, and engaged fishing for trout. Their success through the day in ensnaring “ the pride of the pure waters," as the trout has been appropriately termed, had been ample, as was evinced by the large strings of this beautiful fish lying on the bottom of the boat beneath the feet of their respective captors. Now, however, as the rapidly lengthening shadows of the dark primeval forest, that thickly lined the shores, had nearly closed over the lake, the party began to manifest a disposition to relinquish the exciting labors of the day. One sat listless and unemployed in his seat ; another was taking in and winding up his line; while a third had handled the oars, and sat patiently awaiting the movements of the fourth, who seemed intent on securing, before quitting the station, one more victim, as * a most severe large one,” he said, was brushing round his hook. At length the speckled tantalizer, after playing warily round the bait awhile, seized it with a desperation that seemed to imply at once his suspicions and his determination to test them, and was drawn flapping and floundering into the boat, amidst a shout of exultation from the company, who unanimously declared the fish to be a ten-pounder, and the capital prize of all that had that day been taken. All being now in readiness, the boat was rowed slowly toward the shore in the direction of a spot indicated as the place of their temporary quarters by a slight, wreathy line of blue smoke, which had risen from their
noon fires, and still hung undissipated along the precipitous cliffs of the mountain above. On reaching the shore the party, after taking out their fish and carefully concealing their canoe in a thick clump of overhanging bushes, proceeded to their retreat, which proved to be a cavern in the rocks, at the foot of the mountain, here shutting down within a dozen rods of the lake. The front of this cave consisted of a sort of natural porch, eight or ten feet in length, and of, perhaps, about half that number of feet in width, formed by a projection of the rocks above and on each side, so as to enclose the intervening space. From the centre of the area thus formed in front, an entrance, wide enough only to admit one person at a time, opened into the interior, or main part of the cavern, a spacious and lofty room branching off in several dark recesses that appeared to extend far into the rocks. This cave had once been a favorite lodge with the Indians, as was evident from the flint arrow-heads, and other indications of aboriginal life, discovered in and about the place; and in late years it had been the usual resort of professional hunters, and others of the neighboring settlement, when out for more than one day on fishing and hunting excursions on the lake or its vicinity, as it afforded them comfortable quarters for the night, and such as could easily be secured from the intrusion of wild beasts, or Indians, small parties of whom, though not generally very hostile at this period, were still occasionally seen skulking among these mountains. The party now present, as before remarked, were four in number. The two eldest of these had nothing remarkable in their appearance to distinguish them from the ordinary run of men, except their broad chests and strong muscular limbs, which they possessed in common with most of the settlers. Of the other two, whom we will more particularly describe, one was a young woodsman of very singular and striking appearance. He was full seven feet high, and as straight as an arrow. From his trunk, which, though strongly made, and quite as large as that of a common stout man, looked like a may-pole, rose a long, slender neck, surmounted by a small apple-shaped head. His features might have been regular when he slept, but in conversation, in which he was always sure to have a part, they were made to play such antics, by way of acting as gestures to the queer conceits with which his brain was forever teeming, that it would have been difficult to tell what any one of them might have been when reduced to a state of quiescence. His mouth with a peculiar twist seemed to move at will in a half circle from one ear to the other; while his nose, playing at cross purposes with his mouth, was seemingly wriggled up to the eyebrows, or let down to the chin at the option of its owner. These, with the eyes, which were no less singularly expressive, combined to form a countenance to the last degree comical, though, with all its predominating humor, great good nature and considerable native intelligence were very visibly mingled in its expression. This man went by the name of Pete Jones, or long-legged Pete, as was his more common appellation among his companions. The other person, the only one of the party now remaining to be described, was evidently far superior in every respect, except physical powers, to the rest of the company. His exterior exhibited a high degree of manly beauty, both in form and feature ; while a fine dark eye, with a cleanly turned, rectilinear nose, and a high square forehead, indicated tastes of an intellectual character. His · countenance was expressive of keen perceptions, and manifested
also, like that of the person last described, a strong disposition to wit and mirthfulness; though his disposition unlike that of his rude companion, had been evidently chastened and trained by education and intercourse with refined society, the advantages of both of which his language and manners showed he had received. His whole appearance, indeed, was such as would induce to the probable conclusion that a romantic turn of mind, with a love of the exciting scenes of the forest, or still more exciting strife in which the settlers were engaged with the neighboring colony, had led him to a temporary adoption of his present course of life, and that he was rather an amateur woodsman than one from habit or necessity.
When the party reached their quarters, the person whose description last occupied us, separated himself from the rest, and, clambering up the steep, sat down on a commanding cliff, some hundred feet above the cave, leaving the duties of the camp to be performed by those who remained below. The latter, after kindling up a fire in front of the cave, proceeded to bring from the interior a light, portable kettle, and piece of salt junk, articles with which such parties usually went provided, and soon became busily engaged in dressing and preparing a portion of the fruits of their day's labors for an evening repast.
“ Smith,” said the tall woodsman, whose peculiarities we have before noted, now turning to one of his comrades as they were proceeding with their culinary labors; "say, Smith, what do you suppose Mr. Seldon has perched himself on that old crazy crag up there for? He looks as glum and hazy as a cat-owl winking at the sun with one eye and watching a tree toad with the other ? "
“ Well done for you, Pete Jones !” responded the person addressed; “I rather guess you have hit the nail on the head this time; for Selden, I've noticed is fond of looking at prospects — scenery, I think he calls it — well, while he has an eye for that, it's my opinion he is on the look-out for mischief, which he thinks may perhaps be brewing for us somewhere you,
Brown ? "
Well, I don't know,” replied the latter, a plain, blunt, and somewhat dogged looking man; "there may be something in
and come to think of it, I guess it is so: You know We caught a glimpse or two of a fellow skulking round the shore over yonder, last evening, as we were coming across to take up our quarters here; and I remember that Selden seemed to watch his movements as if he had some suspicions that the fellow might be a spy upon us.
66 That's it,” rejoined Smith; “ and if Selden named the affair to the Captain when he joined us last night, as I'll warrant you he did, seeing they had considerable private talk together, most likely he got orders to keep a spare eye for breakers to-day. I have noticed several times this afternoon that he seemed to be looking round the lake rather anxiously; and it was that which set me to thinking."
“ By the way," interposed Jones ; “what in the world can have got the Captain, that he aint in by this time ? not a single loud word has his rifle spoken to day, to my hearing."
“ He has doubtless taken a wide range to-day,” replied Smith, who assumed to be the best guesser of the trio ; “ but an eye as keen, and an aim as sure as the young Captain's, never need be exercised a whole day for nothing on these mountains. He don't come home empty to-night you 'll find.”
“ I wish he would come, however," observed Brown; I am anxious to know what are to be the orders for to-morrow. I hope he wont make us wait here another day for more to join us before we proceed on the business we came for. We have now been nearly three days, coming and here, without a chance of setting our seals to the back of a single Yorker. I would n't have volunteered and left my work at this busy season but for Captain Warrington's promise to let us have right at 'em, and be off again. And I would n't at no rate, if he had not fought so like a young lion for me at the time these land sharks turned us, wife, little ones, and all, out into the snow. He did me God's service at that time; so I thought I ought to oblige him by coming. Though, besure, I was obliging my own feelings about as