upon those around, and treat the unfortunate as well as the fortunate
with a graceful mien, he continued to use diligence and perseverance.
All this lighted a spark in his heart that changed his whole character,
and like the unyielding Deity that follows the storm to check its
rage in the forest, he resolves for the first time to shake off
his embarrassment and return where he had before only worshiped.
At last we begin to get the Major’s measure. We are able to put
this and that casual fact together, and build the man up before
our eyes, and look at him. And after we have got him built, we find
him worth the trouble. By the above comparison between his age
and Ambulinia’s, we guess the war-worn veteran to be twenty-two;
and the other facts stand thus: he had grown up in the Cherokee
country with the same equal proportions as one of the natives–
how flowing and graceful the language, and yet how tantalizing
as to meaning!–he had been turned adrift by his father, to whom he
had been “somewhat of a dutiful son”; he wandered in distant lands;
came back frequently “to the scenes of his boyhood, almost destitute
of many of the comforts of life,” in order to get into the presence
of his father’s winter-worn locks, and spread a humid veil of
darkness around his expectations; but he was always promptly sent
back to the cold charity of the combat again; he learned to play
the fiddle, and made a name for himself in that line; he had dwelt
among the wild tribes; he had philosophized about the despoilers
of the kingdoms of the earth, and found out–the cunning creature–
that they refer their differences to the learned for settlement;
he had achieved a vast fame as a military chieftain, the Achilles
of the Florida campaigns, and then had got him a spelling-book
and started to school; he had fallen in love with Ambulinia Valeer
while she was teething, but had kept it to himself awhile, out of
the reverential awe which he felt for the child; but now at last,
like the unyielding Deity who follows the storm to check its rage in
the forest, he resolves to shake off his embarrassment, and to return
where before he had only worshiped. The Major, indeed, has made up
his mind to rise up and shake his faculties together, and to see
if HE can’t do that thing himself. This is not clear. But no matter
about that: there stands the hero, compact and visible; and he is
no mean structure, considering that his creator had never structure,
considering that his creator had never created anything before,
and hadn’t anything but rags and wind to build with this time.
It seems to me that no one can contemplate this odd creature, this quaint
and curious blatherskite, without admiring McClintock, or, at any rate,
loving him and feeling grateful to him; for McClintock made him,
he gave him to us; without McClintock we could not have had him,
and would now be poor.
But we must come to the feast again. Here is a courtship scene, down
there in the romantic glades among the raccoons, alligators, and things,
that has merit, peculiar literary merit. See how Achilles woos.
Dwell upon the second sentence (particularly the close of it) and the
beginning of the third. Never mind the new personage, Leos, who is
intruded upon us unheralded and unexplained. That is McClintock’s way;
it is his habit; it is a part of his genius; he cannot help it;
he never interrupts the rush of his narrative to make introductions.
It could not escape Ambulinia’s penetrating eye that he sought
an interview with her, which she as anxiously avoided, and assumed
a more distant calmness than before, seemingly to destroy all hope.
After many efforts and struggles with his own person, with timid
steps the Major approached the damsel, with the same caution
as he would have done in a field of battle. “Lady Ambulinia,”
said he, trembling, “I have long desired a moment like this.
I dare not let it escape. I fear the consequences; yet I hope
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