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15. Chapter XV. (continued)
Hutter now rose, and signing to Deerslayer, he led him to an inner room, where, in answer to his questions, he first learned the price that had been paid for his release. The old man expressed neither resentment nor surprise at the inroad that had been made on his chest, though he did manifest some curiosity to know how far the investigation of its contents had been carried. He also inquired where the key had been found. The habitual frankness of Deerslayer prevented any prevarication, and the conference soon terminated by the return of the two to the outer room, or that which served for the double purpose of parlour and kitchen.
"I wonder if it's peace or war, between us and the savages!" exclaimed Hurry, just as Deerslayer, who had paused for a single instant, listened attentively, and was passing through the outer door without stopping. "This givin' up captives has a friendly look, and when men have traded together on a fair and honourable footing they ought to part fri'nds, for that occasion at least. Come back, Deerslayer, and let us have your judgment, for I'm beginnin' to think more of you, since your late behaviour, than I used to do."
"There's an answer to your question, Hurry, since you're in such haste to come ag'in to blows."
As Deerslayer spoke, he threw on the table on which the other was reclining with one elbow a sort of miniature fagot, composed of a dozen sticks bound tightly together with a deer-skin thong. March seized it eagerly, and holding it close to a blazing knot of pine that lay on the hearth, and which gave out all the light there was in the room, ascertained that the ends of the several sticks had been dipped in blood.
"If this isn't plain English," said the reckless frontier man, "it's plain Indian! Here's what they call a dicliration of war, down at York, Judith. How did you come by this defiance, Deerslayer?"
"Fairly enough. It lay not a minut' since, in what you call Floatin' Tom's door-yard."
"How came it there?"
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