"'Tis pleasant, through the loop-holes of retreat,
To peep at such a world; to see the stir
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd;
To hear the roar she sends, through all her gates,
At a safe distance, where the dying sound
Falls, a soft murmur, on the uninjured ear."
The individual we have mentioned, who now came rapidly, towards Ralph, was somewhat advanced in years-not less, perhaps, than sixty. Yet, in his whole bearing and appearance could be seen the iron frame and hardihood, which in these days have given place to a certain effeminacy of manners. The hardy, robust race of men who cleared our forests, and encountered cheerfully the sufferings and privations, and endured the toil incident to a pioneer life, are passing away; and however much our vanity may suffer in making the confession, their sons and successors are apt to lack in those iron qualities which succeeded against obstacles, the magnitude of which most of us do not appreciate.
The countenance of this individual exhibited tokens of the energy of this now nearly departed class of men; yet upon it, at the same time, glowed an expression of honesty and intelligence, which at once win the heart and command confidence and respect. The frosts of time had but lightly touched his hair, and at the first glance, one would have guessed him at least ten years younger than he actually was.
Matthew Barton, for such was his name, about two years before the period we have assigned for our narrative, had left one of the settlements at the eastward, and removed with his family to this remote region. He had been unfortunate in his pecuniary affairs, and his confidence had been betrayed by a friend for whom he had incurred obligations nearly to the amount of his small fortune. With the remains of his little property he had removed to the west, advancing beyond the remotest dwelling in this section of the State. He was satisfied that he had years of labor left in him yet; and with a prudent foresight, he saw that a few years, at most, would surround him with neighbors, who would be likely to follow him to the fertile and beautiful valley he had selected. Suddenly, perhaps, for one advanced to his age, and yielding partially to the feelings of mortification he endured at the idea of struggling with poverty among those who had seen him in a more prosperous condition, he resolved upon this course, and it was at once adopted.
His wife had died a number of years before, leaving him but one child, a daughter, who at this time had arrived at about twenty years of age. He had purchased, with the remains of his property, a negro, to assist him in his farming operations, and thus provided, we behold him in the new house of his old age.
Ralph advanced rapidly forward to meet him, and hearty were the greetings between them.
"Right glad am I to see you here, Ralph," said Barton, "yours is the first friendly face I have seen from the settlements in many a day; and I can say, too, that there is no other I would more gladly see. Oneidas and Tuscaroras are well enough in their place, but it does one good to see a little of the old eastern blood, once in a while."
The first greetings over, Ralph, with a blush-very faint indeed, but still a blush-of which the old gentleman was entirely unconscious, inquired about his old playmate, Ruth.
"Well and happy, Ralph-at least, as happy as one can be, so far from friends; but she will be right glad to see you, I doubt not."
Ralph introduced Ichabod to Mr. Barton, as a worthy gentleman from the settlements, who had been induced to accompany him through the wilderness; and the party then proceeded towards the cottage, which, on a nearer approach, if it lost some of the enchantments which distance had lent it, gained on the score of