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24. Chapter XXIV (continued)
"Why Thomas Hutter, Judith, and not your father? The dead ought to meet with as much reverence as the living!"
"I have long suspected that Thomas Hutter was not my father, though I did think he might have been Hetty's, but now we know he was the father of neither. He acknowledged that much in his dying moments. I am old enough to remember better things than we have seen on this lake, though they are so faintly impressed on my memory that the earlier part of my life seems like a dream."
"Dreams are but miserable guides when one has to detarmine about realities, Judith," returned the other admonishingly. "Fancy nothing and hope nothing on their account, though I've known chiefs that thought 'em useful."
"I expect nothing for the future from them, my good friend, but cannot help remembering what has been. This is idle, however, when half an hour of examination may tell us all, or even more than I want to know."
Deerslayer, who comprehended the girl's impatience, now took his seat and proceeded once more to bring to light the different articles that the chest contained. As a matter of course, all that had been previously examined were found where they had been last deposited, and they excited much less interest or comment than when formerly exposed to view. Even Judith laid aside the rich brocade with an air of indifference, for she had a far higher aim before her than the indulgence of vanity, and was impatient to come at the still hidden, or rather unknown, treasures.
"All these we have seen before," she said, "and will not stop to open. The bundle under your hand, Deerslayer, is a fresh one; that we will look into. God send it may contain something to tell poor Hetty and myself who we really are!"
"Ay, if some bundles could speak, they might tell wonderful secrets," returned the young man deliberately undoing the folds of another piece of course canvass, in order to come at the contents of the roll that lay on his knees: "though this doesn't seem to be one of that family, seeing 'tis neither more nor less than a sort of flag, though of what nation, it passes my l'arnin' to say."
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