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With his knife in his hand, and glaring eyes!—
“Wagh!—Mogg will have the pale-face's hair,
For his knife is sharp, and his fingers can help
The hair to pull and the skin to peel,—
Let him cry like a woman and twist like an eel,
The great Captain Scamman must lose his scalp!
And Ruth, when she sees it, shall dance with Mogg.”
His eyes are fixed,—but his lips draw in,—
With a low, hoarse chuckle, and fiendish grin,—
And he sinks again, like a senseless log.
Ruth does not speak,—she does not stir;
But she gazes down on the murderer,
Whose broken and dreamful slumbers tell
Too much for her ear of that deed of hell.
She sees the knife, with its slaughter red,
And the dark fingers clenching the bearskin bed!
What thoughts of horror and madness whirl
Through the burning brain of that fallen girl!
John Boniton lifts his gun to his eye,
Its muzzle is close to the Indian's ear,—
But he drops it again. “Some one may be nigh,
And I would not that even the wolves should hear.”
He draws his knife from its deer-skin belt,—
Its edge with his fingers is slowly felt;—
Kneeling down on one knee, by the Indian's side,
From his throat he opens the blanket wide;
And twice or thrice he feebly essays
A trembling hand with the knife to raise.
‘I cannot, —he mutters,—’ did he not save
My life from a cold and wintry grave,
When the storm came down from Agioochook,
And the north-wind howled, and the tree-tops shook,–
And I strove, in the drifts of the rushing snow,
Till my knees grew weak and I could not go,
And I felt the cold to my vitals creep,
And my heart's blood stiffen, and pulses sleep!
I cannot strike him—Ruth Boniton!
In the Devil's name, tell me—what's to be done?
Oh, when the soul, once pure and high,
Is stricken down from Virtue's sky,
As, with the downcast star of morn,
Some gems of light are with it drawn,
And, through its night of darkness, play
Some tokens of its primal day,
Some lofty feelings linger still,—
The strength to dare, the nerve to meet
Whatever threatens with defeat
Its all-indomitable will!—
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