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Introduces the new Rangers, their personalities, skills, and weapons.

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Towards night, on the twelfth of March, 1775, a richly-equipped double sleigh, filled with a goodly company of well-dressed persons of the different sexes, was seen descending from the eastern side of the Green Mountains, along what may now be considered the principal thoroughfare leading from the upper navigable portions of the Hudson to those of the Connecticut River. The progress of the travellers was not only slow, but extremely toilsome, as was plainly evinced by the appearance of the reeking and jaded horses, as they labored and floundered along the sloppy and slumping snow paths of the winter road, which was obviously now fast resolving itself into the element of which it was composed. Up to the previous evening, the dreary reign of winter had continued wholly uninterrupted by the advent of his more gentle successor in the changing rounds of the seasons; and the snowy waste which enveloped the earth would, that morning, have apparently withstood the rains and suns of months before yielding entirely to their influences. But during the night there had occurred one of those great and sudden transitions from cold to heat, which can only be experienced in northern climes, and which can be accounted for only on the supposition, that the earth, at stated intervals, rapidly gives out large quantities of its internal heats, or that the air becomes suddenly rarefied by some essential change or modification in the state of the electric fluid. The morning had been cloudless; and the rising sun, with rays no longer dimly struggling through the dense, obstructing medium of the dark months gone by, but, with the restored beams of his natural brightness, fell upon the smoking earth with the genial warmth of summer. A new atmosphere, indeed, seemed to have been suddenly created, so warm and bland was the whole air; while, occasionally, a breeze came over the face of the traveller, which seemed like the breath of a heated oven. As the day advanced, the sky gradually became overcast—a strong south wind sprung up, before whose warm puffs the drifted snow-banks seemed literally to be cut down, like grass before the scythe of the mower; and, at length, from the thickening mass of cloud above, the rain began to descend in torrents to the mutely recipient earth. All this, for a while, however, produced no very visible effects on the general face of nature; for the melting snow was many hours in becoming saturated with its own and water from above. Nor had our travellers, for the greater part of the day, been much incommoded by the rain, or the thaw, that was in silent, but rapid progress around and beneath them; as their vehicle was a covered one, and as the hard-trodden paths of the road were the last to be affected. But, during the last hour, a great change in the face of the landscape had become apparent; and the evidence of what had been going on unseen, through the day, was now growing every moment more and more palpable. The snow along the bottom of every valley was marked by a long, dark streak, indicating the presence of the fast-collecting waters beneath. The stifled sounds of rushing streams were heard issuing from the hidden beds of every natural rill; while the larger brooks were beginning to burst through their wintry coverings, and throw up and push on before them the rending ice and snow that obstructed their courses to the rivers below, to which they were hurrying with increasing speed, and with seemingly growing impatience at every obstacle they met in their way. The road had also become so soft, that the horses sunk nearly to the flank at almost every step, and the plunging sleigh drove heavily along the plashy path. The whole mass of the now saturated and dissolving snow, indeed, though lying, that morning, more than three feet deep on a level, seemed to quiver and move, as if on the point of flowing away in a body to the nearest channels.
The company we have introduced consisted of four gentlemen and two ladies, all belonging, very evidently, to the most wealthy, and, up to that time, the most honored and influential class of society. But though all seemed to be of the same caste, yet their natural characters, as any physiognomist, at a glance, would have discovered, were, for so small a party, unusually diversified. Of the two men occupying the front seat, both under the age of thirty, the one sitting on the right and acting as driver was tall, showily dressed, and of a haughty, aristocratic air; while his sharp features, which set out in the shape of a half-moon, the convex outline being preserved by a retreating forehead, an aquiline nose, and a chin sloping inward, combined to give him a cold, repulsive countenance, fraught with expressions denoting selfishness and insincerity. The other occupant of the same seat was, on the contrary, a young man of an unassuming demeanor, shapely features, and a mild, pleasing countenance. The remaining two gentlemen of the party were much older, but scarcely less dissimilar in their appearance than the two just described. One of them was a gaunt, harsh-featured man, of the middle ago, with an air of corresponding arrogance and assumption. The other, who was still more elderly, was a thick-set and rather portly personage, of that quiet, reserved, and somewhat haughty demeanor, which usually belongs to men of much self-esteem, and of an unyielding, opinionated disposition. The ladies were both young, and in the full bloom of maidenly beauty. But their native characters, like those of their male companions, seemed to be very strongly contrasted. The one seated on the left was fair, extremely fair, indeed; and her golden locks, clustering in rich profusion around her snowy neck and temples, gave peculiar effect to the picture-like beauty of her face. But her beauty consisted of pretty features, and her countenance spoke rather of the affections than of the mind, being of that tender, pleading cast, which is better calculated to call forth sympathy than command respect, and which, showed her to be one of those confiding, dependent persons, whose destinies are in me hands of those whom they consider their friends, rather than in their own keeping. The other maiden, with an equally fine form and no less beautiful features, was still of an entirely different appearance. She, indeed, was, to the one first described what the rose, with its hardy stem, is to the lily leaning on the surrounding herbage for its support; and though less delicately fair in mere complexion, she was yet more commandingly beautiful; for there was an expression in the bright, discriminating glances of her deep hazel eyes, and in the commingling smile that played over the whole of her serene and benignant countenance, that told of intellects that could act independently, as well as of a heart that glowed with the kindly affections.

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