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" What is my offence ?”—Shakspeare
In this valley stood two principal farms, lying near to each other, and enjoying a highly prosperous condition. A little beyond them was the romantic residence of a magistrate of this district, named Wilson, whose office might be considered almost a sinecure, but for the circumstance that he received no salary. He was the resident pastor also, and engaged himself unceasingly in the labours belonging to this profession.
A grandson and grandaughter, Arthur Lee, and Lucy, his sister, were his endeared companions amid the wilderness; the one adorned his small, but interesting establishment, over which she presided—the other shared and cheered his study and his mental toil, and also overlooked the cultivation of his grounds.
The poor wandering daughter of the Pirate of the Lakes, a short time after her arrival in the neighbourhood of the two large farins of this settlement, sat employed in making nets at one corner of the main apartment of that farm which lay nearest to the large pool on
which she nad seen the fishers. In this apartment were at least a dozen persons assembled, to whom Pastor Wilson was continually exclaiming, “Good people-peace! No sense, nor reason, is to be heard in such confusion. This is worse than Babel! Will you be silent—that those may speak who know something of the matter!” His gold-headed cane was frequently rapped on the floor to assist the effect of his words; and at length the hubbub, which had existed for a quarter of an hour without cessation--began to subside.
“ Now, Pastor Wilson,” cried the master of the farm, subduing the rough and vindictive tones of his angry voice, into a more respectful modulation,“ please you, let us know your mind ?"
“ If you will hear me, Joshua,” said the pastor, “ I will. But hitherto there has been no opportunity for me to speak one word. Bring the young man hither, and place your family around my chair, farmer. I must first hear the statements of you and your's; then converse with the accused; and afterwards, I hope to give such a judgment as shall satisfy all of you.”
Judgment!" muttered the farmer (or backwoodsman), casting his eye toward a young man of very prepossessing exterior, who advanced to the left side of the arm-chair in which the benevolent pastor sat.
“ Judg. ment! were I on the States-frontier, out of reach of the law—a tough hiccory-branch, and a stout cord, should soon give the rogue judgment! There he stands, pastor !" continued the half-wild settler aloud, pointing to the youth, who, with a smile of calm contempt seemed to defy his threats :-“ there he stands—the knave ! with that cursed care-for-nothing look of his-- which I
guess has stolen away the wits of all the foolish girls in the two farms !"
“ Softly, my good Joshua,” interrupted the pastor ; “ we will see justice done to you—do not fear. What is your name, young man ?”
“ Nicholas Clinton,” replied the person addressed, with a peculiarly pleasing tone of voice, accompanied by a respectful bend of the head.
“And your country ?" demanded the venerable pastor. “ Germany."
Germany-Germany—” repeated the interrogator -your name is not German-[ think! it is more like one of my own country. Your appearance is English, too.” At these words Nicholas Clinton avoided the pastor's eye, and appeared slightly embarrassed.
“ And how long have you been from Germany ?” said Pastor Wilson.
Nearly four years,” replied Clinton. “ And what were your intentions in emigrating hither?:
“ I came to see a near relative, my mother, who lived in Lower Canada," was the reply; " but the ship in which I sailed was foundered ; its commander, Captain Barry, and all his crew sank with it. I got to land by floating on a piece of the wreck, until a passing vessel picked me up. Afterwards, I made my way with great difficulty to this part of the country, and then—"
“ He imposed on me, so that I took him into my farm!” exclaimed the backwoodsman; “ and here he has been treated like one of my own sons—let him deny it if he can!”
“ I never will deny it!” said Clinton. “ 1 have found
you hospitable and generous—and I have done all that lay in my power to repay you. Certainly-I could not toil as you and your sons have toiled: my frame,” he said, stretching out his arms, and surveying his very slight figure with a smile, “is of a different quality from your's.— I was never made to wield the hatchet ;-but I have kept your reckonings-penned your letters-contracted your bargains-and seen your timber floated down the Ottawa, for sale—besides—”
“ Corrupting the household !” cried farmer Joshua with a look of rage.
“ Whom have I corrupted ?" asked Clinton, very coolly
“ Whom !” repeated the backwoodsman. Dan-Dan, step out into the light, boy, and tell your tale!” With an air of authority he beckoned as he spoke to one of his sons, whom the females of the household were endeavouring to keep back.
* Come hither, Dan-or it will be worse for you!" exclaimed the father. “ Put aside the babbling women, and tell Pastor Wilson the truth.- Do you hear!”
The last three words were pronounced with startling power, and they were answered immediately by the approach of Dan to the head of the room, whither he was followed close by his mother and sisters.
“ If you speak one word more than is true—may your tongue be blistered for a twelvemonth !” said the settler's wife.
“ Go !—you were always a mischief-maker, and a trouble-sower, you were, Dan! Could nothing serve your turn, but you must set this fire raging ?” cried his eldest sister, with bitter emphasis.
« I guess,” said Dan, casting a half-apologetic look toward Clinton, “ I have made more stir here than I meant to make.”
Why I am glad to hear you say so !” said the pastor, who felt secretly much interested for the youth. “Well, then, after all it is some slight offence-nothing of any consequence, which Nicholas Clinton has committed.”
“ He tells you a lie, if he says it is no more !” cried the settler. " There was a time when no son of mine durst stand and speak a lie in my hearing! and as it is -I warn him-I warn him!”
Father,” said Dan, laying his hand on the settler's arm, “ I will tell the pastor every word I told you-only do not let mother and the girls rail on me.—Bid them not look at me as if I invented the story to drive out Clinton from our house. As sure as I am standing on our own 'arth, mother,” he continued, turning toward the females, “ I mean Clinton no barm! You know no one in the farm had the liking for him I had. Havn't I taken his part often when my brothers complained against him ?-Havn't I been his friend up to this present time ?"
6 Its true !-Its true!” cried the settler: “ I have noticed it.”
“ His friend!” reiterated the mistress of the farm.“ You bavn't man enough in you, Dan, to be any man's friend-you know you havn't!"
“Go-go!” exclaimed the three younger womeri, with stinging disdain. “ You take his part !--Ill would betide Clinton's cause--if only Dan were to defend it !”
“ There now, father!” cried Dan; “ they mock me, and upbraid me, as if I”