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Title: Camp-fire and Wigwam
Author: Ellis, Edward Sylvester, 1840-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Camp-fire and Wigwam" ***

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                              CAMP-FIRE AND WIGWAM.

                                By EDWARD S. ELLIS

AUTHOR OF "NED IN THE BLOCK-HOUSE," "NED IN THE WOODS," "NED ON THE
RIVER," "THE LOST TRAIL," ETC.


PHILADELPHIA:
PORTER & COATES.

COPYRIGHT, 1885,
BY PORTER & COATES.



[Illustration: JACK'S WRESTLING BOUT WITH THE YOUNG INDIAN.]



CONTENTS.


        I.--AT HOME

       II.--A DOUBTFUL ENTERPRISE

      III.--WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN EXPECTED

       IV.--CAPTORS AND CAPTIVES

        V.--JOURNEYING SOUTHWARD

       VI.--AN INVOLUNTARY BATH

      VII.--TWO VISITORS

     VIII.--A SURPRISE

       IX.--BY THE CAMP-FIRE

        X.--WAITING AND HOPING

       XI.--THROUGH THE FOREST

      XII.--THE SIGNAL FIRES

     XIII.--THE INDIAN VILLAGE

      XIV.--ON THE MOUNTAIN CREST

       XV.--THE RETURN AND DEPARTURE

      XVI.--A PERPLEXING QUESTION

     XVII.--TWO ACQUAINTANCES AND FRIENDS

    XVIII.--THE TRAPPERS

      XIX.--DEERFOOT'S WOODCRAFT

       XX.--SAUK AND SHAWANOE

      XXI.--CHRISTIAN AND PAGAN

     XXII.--AN ABORIGINAL SERMON

    XXIII.--IN THE LODGE OF OGALLAH

     XXIV.--A ROW

      XXV.--THE WAR FEAST

     XXVI.--AN ALARMING DISCOVERY

    XXVII.--"GAH-HAW-GE"

   XXVIII.--A PATIENT OF THE MEDICINE MAN

     XXIX.--CONVALESCENCE

      XXX.--OUT IN THE WORLD

     XXXI.--JOURNEYING EASTWARD

    XXXII.--A MISCALCULATION

   XXXIII.--CONCLUSION



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


JACK'S WRESTLING BOUT WITH THE YOUNG INDIAN

A NARROW ESCAPE

THE SIGNAL

DEERFOOT'S VICTORY



CAMP-FIRE AND WIGWAM.



CHAPTER I.

AT HOME.


On the evening of a dismal, rainy day in spring, a mother and her son
were sitting in their log-cabin home in the southern portion of the
present State of Missouri. The settlement bore the name of Martinsville,
in honor of the leader of the little party of pioneers who had left
Kentucky some months before, and, crossing the Mississippi, located in
that portion of the vast territory known at that time as Louisiana.

There were precisely twenty cabins, all of which had been constructed
with a view to rugged strength, durability, and comfort. Lusty arms had
felled the trees, that were cut the proper length and dovetailed in the
usual manner at the corners, the crevices being filled with a species of
plaster, made almost entirely from yellow clay. The interiors were
generally divided into two apartments, with a broad fireplace and the
rude furniture of the border. Colonel Martin himself, with the
assistance of his two full-grown sons, erected a more pretentious
dwelling with two stories and a loft, but the other houses, as has
already been stated, were of such a simple and familiar character that
the American reader needs no further description.

Mrs. Carleton was a widow, whose husband had been slain by Indians in
Kentucky some time previous, and who, in the daily requirement of her
duties, and in her great love for her only child, Jack, found some
relief from the dreadful sorrow that overshadowed her life. Kind
neighbors had lent willing hands, and her home was as well made as any
in the settlement. Jack and his companion, Otto Relstaub, had arrived
only a couple of days before, and each had wrought so hard in his
respective household that they had scarcely found time to speak to or
see each other.

The evening meal had been eaten, the things cleared away, and wood
heaped upon the fire which filled the little room with cheerful
illumination. The mother was seated at one side, the silent
spinning-wheel just beyond, while her deft fingers were busy with her
knitting. Jack was half reclining on a rude bench opposite, recounting,
in his boyish fashion, the adventures of himself and Otto on their
memorable journey, which has been fully told in the "Lost Trail."

The good mother possessed an education beyond the ordinary, and, knowing
its great value, insisted upon her son improving his spare moments in
study. Jack was well informed for his years, for no one could have been
blessed with a better teacher, counselor, and friend, than he was. Even
now, when we reintroduce him to the reader, he held an old-fashioned
spelling-book in his hand. He had tried to give his attention to his
lesson, but, boy-like, his mind persisted in wandering, and his mother,
looking fondly across the fire, was so pleased to hear him chat and to
ask and answer questions, that she could not find it in her heart to
chide him.

"You have never seen Deerfoot, have you, mother?" he asked, abruptly
breaking in on his own narrative.

"Yes, I have seen him; he saved the life of your father."

"What!" exclaimed Jack, straightening up and staring at his parent in
open-mouthed amazement: "I never heard of that before."

"Didn't Deerfoot tell you?"

"He never hinted anything of the kind. He once asked me about father's
death and about you, but I thought it was only a natural interest he
felt on my account. But tell me how it was, mother."

"Some months before your father's death, he was absent a couple of days
on a hunt to the south of our home. He kindled a camp-fire in a deep
valley, where the undergrowth was so dense that he felt sure of being
safe against discovery. The night was very cold, and snow was flying in
the air. Besides that, he had eaten nothing all day, and was anxious to
broil a wild turkey he had shot just as it began to grow dark. He
started the fire, ate his supper, and was in the act of lying down for
the night, when a young Indian walked out from the woods, saying in the
best of English that he was his friend. Your father told me that he was
the most graceful and handsome youth he had ever looked upon----"

"That was Deerfoot!" exclaimed the delighted Jack.

"There can be no doubt of it, for he told your father that such was his
English name. I forget what his own people called him. Well, he said to
your father, in the most quiet manner, that a party of Shawanoes were
very near him. They had heard the report of his rifle, and, suspecting
what it meant, were carefully arranging to capture him for the purpose
of torture. Deerfoot had seen them, and, having also heard the gun,
learned what was going on. If your father had stayed where he was five
minutes longer, nothing could have saved him. I need not tell you that
he did not stay. Under the guidance of Deerfoot he managed to extricate
himself from his peril, and, by traveling the entire night, was beyond
all danger when the sun rose again. Deerfoot did not leave him until
certain he had no cause for fear. Then, when your father turned to thank
him, he was gone. He had departed as silently as a shadow."

"That was just like Deerfoot!" exclaimed Jack, with kindling eye; "it
seems to me he is like Washington. Though he has been in any number of
dangers, I don't believe he has so much as a scar on his little finger.
He has been fired upon I don't know how often, but, like Washington, he
carries a charmed life."

The serious mother shook her head, and, looking over her knitting at her
boy, made answer:

"Such a thing is unknown in this world; more than likely he will fall by
the knife or bullet of an enemy."

"I suppose he is liable to be shot, like any one else; but the Indian
that does it has got to be mighty smart to get ahead of him. Plenty of
them have tried it with knife and tomahawk, but they never lived to try
it on any one else. But that ain't the most wonderful part of it," added
Jack, shaking his head and gesticulating in his excitement with both
arms; "Deerfoot knows a good deal more about books than I do."

"That does not imply that he possesses any remarkable education," said
the mother, with a quiet smile.

The boy flushed, and sinking back said:

"I know I ain't the best-educated fellow in the settlement, but who ever
heard of a young Indian knowing how to read and write? Why, that fellow
can write the prettiest hand you ever saw. He carries a little Bible
with him: the print is so fine I can hardly read it, but he will stretch
out in the light of a poor camp-fire, and read it for an hour at a time.
I can't understand where he picked it all up, but he told me about the
Pacific Ocean, which is away beyond our country, and he spoke of the
land where the Saviour lived when he was on earth. I never felt so
ashamed of myself as I did when he sat down and told me such things. He
can repeat verse after verse from the Bible; he pronounced the Lord's
Prayer in Shawanoe, and then told me and Otto that if we would only use
the English a little oftener the Great Spirit would hear us. What do you
think of _that_?"

"It is very good advice."

"Of course it is, but the idea of a young Indian being that sort of
fellow! Well, there's no use of talking," added Jack, as though unable
to do justice to the theme, "he beats anything I ever heard of. If the
truth should be written as to what he has done, and put in a book, I
don't 'spose one person in a hundred would believe it. He promised to
come and see us."

"I hope he will," said the mother; "I shall always hold him in the
highest esteem and gratitude for his kindness to your father and to
you."

"I tell you it would have gone rough with Otto and me if it hadn't been
for him. I wonder how Otto is getting along?" said Jack, with an
expression of misgiving on his face.

"Why do you ask that?" inquired his mother.

"I think Deerfoot was worried over him."

"I do not understand you."

"Why, you know Otto has got the meanest father in the whole United
States of America----"

"Those are strong words," interrupted the parent reprovingly.

"It is contrary to your teaching to talk that way, but you know, too,
that it is the solemn truth. Deerfoot stopped at Jacob Relstaub's cabin,
in this very settlement, some weeks ago, when it was raining harder than
now, and asked for something to eat, and to stay all night. What do you
'spose Relstaub did? He abused him and turned him away."

"What a shame!" exclaimed the good woman indignantly. "Why did Deerfoot
not come here or to one of the other cabins?"

"I don't know, but he went off in the woods by himself. Otto tried to
befriend him, and was whipped for it; but Deerfoot never forgot it, and
he risked his life to help Otto and me."

"It was very unkind in Mr. Relstaub, but you have not told me why you
and Deerfoot were alarmed for Otto."

"Otto had the best horse that his father owns. It ran away from us, and,
though we tried hard to get him again, we couldn't, and Otto and I came
home on foot. Knowing his father as well as we do, Deerfoot and I were
afraid the poor fellow would be punished because he lost the animal. I
haven't had a chance to say much to Otto, and when I did, I didn't want
to ask him about it, but I would like to know whether he has been
punished for what he couldn't help."

"I can answer that question," said Mrs. Carleton, softly; "his father
whipped him most cruelly yesterday."

"The old scamp----"

"Tut, tut!" warned the parent, raising her finger, "it _was_ cruel, but
Otto will survive it, as he has many other times, and before many years
he will become so large that his father will not be able to punish him."

"I hope he will undertake it, and Otto will knock him----"

"Stop!" said the mother, more sternly, "you have already allowed your
feelings to lead you too far."

"Pardon me, mother," said Jack, humbly, "I would not hurt your feelings
for the world; but there is such a contrast between his father and you,
and his mother is just as bad----"

Jack checked himself again, for his quick ear detected something. He
turned quickly toward the door of the cabin, and his mother, reading the
meaning of the movement, did the same, holding her fingers motionless
while both listened.

The rain beat upon the roof, dashed against the window-panes, and
rattled on the logs of the cabin, with a melancholy sound that made the
interior seem doubly cheerful by contrast. At times the wind roared
among the trees, and some of the pattering drops found their way down
the chimney, and hissed among the flaming brands, making tiny black
points that were instantly wiped out by the ardor of the fire itself.

Suddenly the latch-string, which was only drawn in when the inmates were
ready to retire, was pulled, the latch raised, the door opened, and Otto
Relstaub, his garments dripping water, entered the room.

"Good-evening!" he called, pausing a moment to close the door against
the driving storm.

Both greeted the visitor, and Jack, laying aside his book, advanced and
warmly shook the hand of his friend, bringing him forward and giving him
a seat on the bench, which was drawn still nearer the fire.

Otto was attired very much as when we saw him last, but he did not carry
his gun with him. He took off his peaked hat, shook the water from it,
and then his broad, good-natured face, gleaming with moisture and rugged
health, was raised to meet the mild, inquiring gaze of the lady, who
asked him how he was.

"Oh, I ish well," he answered, speaking English much better than he did
a short time previous, "I have been working so hard dot I couldn't come
over before."

"I'm real glad to see you," said Jack, cordially, slapping him on the
back and making the water fly; "if you hadn't called to-night I would
have dropped in to-morrow to see you. We've hardly had a chance to speak
to each other since we got back."

"No, dot ish so," said Otto, with a sigh. "Father, he makes me work
harder as I never did, to make up for the time dot I wasted in play, he
says. By Jiminy! I don't think dot was much play, do you, Jack?"

"It was the worst play I ever went through; two boys never worked harder
for their lives than did we, and if it hadn't been for Deerfoot, we
never would have reached Martinsville. I suppose your father gave you a
whipping for losing Toby?"

"I should thinks he did! I hadn't been home one hours, when he went out
and cut a stick, and used it up on me, and he doned the same yesterday."

Jack was about to break forth into vigorous language, when his mother
anticipated him. Her voice was slightly tremulous, for, despite her
enforced calmness, she could not altogether restrain her feelings.

"Surely he could not have understood the matter; I will speak to your
mother."

Otto shrugged his shoulders, with a laugh in which there was more
sadness than mirth.

"Moder is worse than him; she tole him he didn't whips me half enough,
and so he tried it again yesterday. I heard her tells him to-night dot I
needed more, so I slips out and comes over here before he could get
everythings ready. May I stay here all night?"

"All night!" repeated Jack, "you may stay a week--a month--a year--yes,
_forever_."

"I don't want to stay dot long," said Otto, with his pleasant laugh;
"but fader, he tells me he will beat me every day till I brings back de
horse."

"Very well," said Jack, compressing his lips, "you won't go back till
you get the horse--if it takes five years."

"Did your father tell you to stay away till you recovered the animal?"
asked Mrs. Carleton.

"Dot vos just vot he says."

"Then it is proper that you should obey him."

Otto nodded his head to signify that his sentiments were those of his
friends. He glanced slyly around the room, but did not explain what he
was looking for, and, unfortunately, neither mother nor son suspected
the meaning of the look; but Otto's hard-hearted parents had actually
driven him from their home without allowing him to eat a mouthful of
dinner or supper. He was suffering with hunger, but was plucky enough to
bear it without complaining, since his friends had partaken and cleared
away the table long before.

"What do you intend to do?" asked Mrs. Carleton, who deeply sympathized
with the poor lad.

"I goes home in de mornings and gets my gun and powder-horn before they
can whips me, and then I goes off to hunt for Toby."

"And I'll go with you!" exclaimed the impulsive Jack, springing to his
feet; "you'll let me, mother, won't you?" he asked, turning beseechingly
toward her.

Recalling the perils through which her only child had passed so
recently, the widow could not but contemplate with dismay the prospect
of having him venture into the wilderness again; but she felt deeply for
poor honest Otto, who was so willing and good-natured, and who had shown
such a desire to help her while her own boy was in Kentucky.

Furthermore, she knew that Louisiana was a much less dangerous country
than the Dark and Bloody Ground. Few of the Shawanoes, Hurons, and other
actively hostile tribes ever crossed to the western side of the
Mississippi, where the Osages gave little trouble to the settlers
scattered through that immense territory.

Otto's eyes sparkled when Jack Carleton leaped to his feet and declared
he would go with him on the search for the lost horse (subject, of
course, to the consent of his mother), and the German youth looked
pleadingly toward the good woman, who, it is hardly necessary to say,
yielded consent, giving with it a large amount of motherly counsel, to
which the boys listened respectfully, though candor compels me to say
that the thoughts of both were far away among the green woods, beside
the sparkling streams, and in the shadows of the chasms, ravines, and
gloomy mountains, whither, as they well knew, the curious search would
lead them.



CHAPTER II.

A DOUBTFUL ENTERPRISE.


One of the commendable habits of the early settlers and old-fashioned
folks was that of retiring and rising early. They were ardent believers
in the saying of Poor Richard that "early to bed, and early to rise,
makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

It was not yet nine o'clock, when Jack and Otto, despite the deep
interest they felt in their projected campaign, voluntarily withdrew to
the other room, where they fell asleep within five minutes after their
heads touched the pillow. The mother remained by the fire some time
after the boys withdrew. Her small white fingers flitted hither back and
forth, while her mild brown eyes seemed to look beyond the flashing
needles, and into the glowing coals on the hearth. Her thoughts were sad
and sorrowful, as they always were when she sat thus alone. They
wandered back to that awful time when her loved husband was stricken
down in defence of her and their little boy.

But to-night she was thinking more of that boy than of the father. She
saw how much like the latter he was growing, and she trembled when she
recalled that he was soon to start on another excursion into the
wilderness, to be gone for days, and likely for weeks, and with no
certainty of ever returning again.

As the night advanced, the fury of the storm diminished. At "low twelve"
the fall of rain ceased altogether. The wind blew strongly, sometimes
with a power which caused the strongest trees to bow their heads to the
blast. As the morning approached, it died out altogether, and the sun
rose on one of the fairest days that ever was seen.

Early as was the orb, the inmates of the cabin were waiting to greet it
when it appeared above the horizon. The boys were in high spirits over
the beautiful morning, and both felt that it promised well for the
venture before them.

"I tell you _we're going to win_!" said Jack, compressing his lips and
shaking his head. "I feel it in my bones, as your father says, just
before a storm comes."

"Dot's vot I dinks," assented Otto, whose only discomfort was his
exceeding hunger: "Vot you dinks, Mrs. Carleton?"

"I hope you will not be disappointed; that is the most I can say. Jack's
feeling that you are going to succeed is simply his pleasure over the
prospect of a ramble in the woods. We will eat breakfast, after which
you can go home and make your preparations for the journey."

When they were seated at the table and Otto's hunger was nearly
satisfied, he told his friends with a grin, that it was the first food
he had tasted in twenty-four hours. They were shocked, and both took him
to task for his failure to make known the truth the evening before. He
made the philosophic reply that if he had done so he would have missed
the boundless enjoyment of such a meal as that of which he was then
partaking.

Mrs. Carleton on rising in the morning felt that Otto ought not to be
allowed to go on the expedition until after a further talk with his
parents, who, despite what they had said, might be unwilling for him to
engage in such an undertaking; but when she learned how the poor fellow
had been made to suffer with hunger her feelings changed. It was hard to
repress her indignation, and she made up her mind to talk to the cruel
folks as they had never been talked to before; but she allowed no
impatient word to escape her in the presence of their son. She simply
advised him to depart as soon as he could upon the hunt for the horse,
and not to return, if possible, until it was recovered or another
obtained.

"Dot is vot I does," replied Otto with a shake of his head and a
determined expression; "Otto doesn't comes back till he brings some kind
of animal--if it's only a 'coon or 'possum."

When he walked over to his own home (the building for which was
precisely the same as that of widow Carleton), his father and mother
were eating their breakfast. They looked surlily at him as he entered,
and the mother showed her incredible heartlessness by asking her only
child in German:

"Where is Toby that you lost?"

"How can I tell, mother, except that he is in the woods? I tried hard to
find him again, and had it not been for Deerfoot I would have lost my
life; but he is gone."

"Did I not tell you to go and not come back until you brought him with
you?" demanded the father, glaring at his boy as though he was ready to
throttle him.

"So you did--so you did; but I couldn't do much last night, when it was
so dark and stormy. I have come over to get my gun and ammunition."

The father and mother looked in each other's faces, as though in doubt
whether they would let the lad have the property, but before the
question could be debated Otto had flung the powder-horn over his
shoulders, adjusted the bullet-pouch, shoved the hunting-knife in the
girdle at his waist, and walked to the front door, where he halted and
looked back.

"Can't I have breakfast before I go?"

"No!" fairly shouted the father; "begone; you shall not have a mouthful
under my roof till you bring back the colt you have lost."

"Nobody wants anything you've got on _that_ table," the lad was
indignant enough to reply: "I've had one meal that was worth more than a
dozen like that. Good-by!"

And before the dumfounded parents could rally from the unparalleled
impudence of the youth he was gone.

When he reached the home of Jack Carleton, the latter was waiting and
impatient to start. Jack had already kissed his mother good-by several
times and he repeated the fond embrace. Tears were in the eyes of both,
and the mother stood in the door of her cabin shading her eyes with her
hand until the two passed from sight in the forest beyond the clearing.

Several of the pioneers who were busy about the settlement greeted the
boys and inquired their errand. Colonel Martin shook hands with them,
and asked all the particulars of the business on which they were
engaged. His age and position authorized him to ask such searching
questions, had the couple been full-grown men instead of boys.

Otto answered truthfully, and the colonel smiled grimly and shook his
head.

"It's mighty little chance you have of ever finding _that_ horse again,
but you may come upon another. Take my advice, however," added the
colonel with a wink of his left eye, "make certain the owner isn't in
sight when you walk off with the animal."

"Why, colonel, you don't think we mean to steal a horse!" exclaimed the
horrified Jack.

"Certainly not--certainly not," the principal man of the settlement
hastened to say, "I don't believe you could be persuaded to do such a
thing--that is if the owner was looking."

"We couldn't be persuaded to do such a thing _under any circumstances_,"
exclaimed Jack, his face flushing over the idea that any one who knew
him should suspect him capable of such a crime.

"See here," said the colonel, dropping his voice and stepping in front
of them, "you tell me you are going after a horse. Have you the money
with you to buy one?"

"No; we cannot get one _that_ way."

"I judged not; how then do you propose to obtain him?"

"Toby, the colt belonging to Otto's father, is wandering in the woods
not very far away----"

"How do you know he is?" interrupted the colonel.

"Why, he was doing so only a few days ago."

"That is no proof that he is keeping it up; in fact it is scarcely
possible that such is the case. Recollect, my boy, that several tribes
of Indians hunt through this portion of Louisiana, and they would be
much quicker than you to observe the trail of a horse wearing an iron
shoe; they would be inquiring enough also to investigate for themselves,
and, when they came upon the colt, they would snap him up quicker than
lightning."

The boys felt that somehow or other the wonderful young Shawanoe would
appear at the right moment and lend them the help which they were
certain to need. Should he fail to do so, they could no more recapture
and take the colt to his owner than they could penetrate into the Dark
and Bloody Ground and bring back the great war chief Tecumseh as a
prisoner.

But neither Colonel Martin nor any one in the village knew anything
about the extraordinary Indian youth, and, while Jack was asking himself
whether he should linger long enough to explain the situation, the
gentleman relieved them from the embarrassment by a hearty slap on the
shoulder of Jack, and the exclamations:

"I was once a boy myself! I haven't forgotten that jolly time: we
always liked to have some sort of excuse when we went off on a frolic.
You see what a lot of work there is to do in clearing the ground and
getting it ready for cultivation; you would much rather be hunting and
rambling through the woods; I can't say I blame you, so off with you,
and when you come back with word that the horse was mean enough to keep
out of your way, why we won't be too hard on you."

And with another resounding slap, the hearty colonel gave the boys a
vigorous shove which sent them forward among the trees, near which they
had halted.



CHAPTER III.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN EXPECTED.


Jack Carleton was too sensible a youth to suppose that the Lost Trail
could be found by a blind wandering through the immense expanse of
wilderness, which stretched hundreds of miles in almost every direction
from the little settlement of Martinsville. Both he and Otto had a
strong hope, when they reached home after their stirring adventure with
Deerfoot, that the colt Toby would follow them of his own accord. He
belonged to a species possessing such unusual intelligence that there
would have been nothing remarkable in such a proceeding, and the fact
that he did not do so, gave ground for the belief that he had fallen
into the hands of parties who prevented the animal from doing as he
chose.

One fact was clearly established; Toby had been within a comparatively
short distance of the settlement, and, if he had remained anywhere in
the neighborhood during the late storm, traces of him must be found
without much difficulty. But one of the easiest things in the world is
to theorize over any problem; to push that theory to a successful
conclusion is altogether another matter.

While it lacked a couple of hours of noon, the boys reached an elevated
section which gave them an extended view in every direction. Looking to
the eastward, Otto fancied he could detect the gleam of the distant
Mississippi, but Jack assured him he was mistaken. Too many miles lay
between them and the mighty Father of Waters for the eye to traverse the
space.

Young Carleton took off his cap and drew his handkerchief across his
perspiring forehead. Then he sighed and smiled.

"This doesn't appear so hopeful to me as it did last night, when we sat
around the fire and talked it over; but of course we won't give up so
long as there's the least hope."

"And it won't do for me to give him up then," replied Otto, with a
meaning shake of his head; "you don't know my fader as well as me."

"I don't want to either," remarked Jack, who did not think it his duty
to refrain from showing the contempt he felt for the miserly, cruel
parent of his friend.

"No," observed Otto, with a touch of that grim humor which he sometimes
displayed, "I doesn't dinks dot you and him could have much fun
together."

The young friends were too accustomed to the immensity of nature, as
displayed on every hand, to feel specially impressed by the scene which
would have held any one else enthralled. It may be said they were "on
business," though it had very much the appearance of sport.

"Halloo! I expected it!" called out Jack Carleton, whose gaze abruptly
rested on a point due southwest, and more than a mile away.

His companion did not need the guidance of the outstretched arm and
index finger leveled toward the distant spot, where the smoke of a
camp-fire was seen climbing toward the blue sky. The scene on which the
boys looked was similar to that which met the eye of Ned Preston and
Deerfoot when they lay on the broad flat rock and gazed across at the
signal-fire in the distance.

The wooded country gradually sloped to the south and west from the
elevation whereon the young friends had halted, slowly rising and
undulating until the eye could follow the blue wavy outlines no further.
At the point already named, and in the lowest portion of the intervening
country, a camp-fire was burning. The smoke, as it filtered upward
through the branches of the trees, and gradually dissolved in the pure
air above, was seen with such distinctness that it caught the eye of
Jack the moment it was turned in that direction.

It was not a signal-fire, such as one is likely to detect when
journeying through an Indian country, but the vapor from the camp of
some body of men who were not making the slightest attempt to conceal
themselves, for it cannot be conceived that they had any reason for
doing so.

If the party were Indians, they surely had no necessity for stationing a
sentinel on the outskirts of their camp to watch for danger.

Jack and Otto looked in each other's faces and smiled; the natural
question had presented itself at the same moment. It was, "Can it be
that the horse we are seeking is with them?"

"The only way to find out is to go forward and see for ourselves," said
Jack, after they had discussed the question for several minutes.

"'Spose dot de horse is with them--what den?"

Jack shrugged his shoulders.

"Deerfoot used to say that he could never answer such a question until
he knew exactly how everything stood. Now, we can't be certain whether
they are Indians or white men, and I don't know as it makes much
difference one way or the other, for our own horse thieves over in
Kentucky were dreaded as much as were the Shawanoes. They were a good
deal meaner, too, for they oppressed their own race."

"Dot is vot I sometimes dinks of fader," was the unexpected remark of
Otto; "if he was only a colored man or Injin I would have more respect
for him; dot is so."

"Come on; we have started out to do something, and we can't gain
anything by staying here."

The brief halt had refreshed the boys, and they now moved forward with
their naturally vigorous and almost bounding steps. While they had much
curiosity, and a somewhat singular misgiving, yet they were in no
particular fear, for it was impossible to believe they were in any real
peril.

It was quite a tramp to reach the camp in which just then they felt so
much interest, and the sun was close to meridian when Jack, who was
slightly in advance, slackened his gait, and remarked in an undertone:

"It can't be far--halloo!"

While picking their way through the valley, they lost sight of the
wavering column of vapor, except once or twice when they were able to
catch a glimpse of it through the tree-tops. Jack's exclamation was
caused by another sight of the murky column, which, as he suspected,
proved to be little more than a hundred yards distant.

There was so much undergrowth that nothing of the fire itself could be
observed, though the smoke showed itself distinctly in the clear air
above.

"Vell, vot does we does now?" was the natural query of Otto, as he
placed himself beside his young friend.

"I guess we may as well keep on, until we find out who they are."

"After we finds out vot we does den?"

"We shall see--come on."

It was simple prudence that they should speak in whispers, and step with
as much care as if they were scouts entering the camp of an enemy. It
would have been rashness to neglect so simple a precaution, no matter
how favorable the circumstances.

"Holds on!" whispered Otto, "I dinks I goes around the oder side while
you takes a look on dis side."

"There is no need of doing that," interposed Jack; "we found out the
consequence of separating when in danger. You needn't keep behind me,
but you may walk at my side."

"All right," responded Otto, obeying the suggestion.

A rod or two further, and something red gleamed, among the trees and
undergrowth. Smoke was observed at the same moment, and immediately
after came the hum of voices and the sight of persons stretched on the
ground in lolling, indolent positions, while some were sitting on a
fallen tree, and two were engaged in broiling some venison, which
evidently was meant to furnish dinner for the rest. The majority were
smoking a species of red clay pipe, and the appearance of the party
suggested that they were resting after a laborious tramp through the
woods.

There were precisely ten, and they were Indians--every one. Jack could
not be certain of the tribe to which they belonged, but inasmuch as it
was apparent they were neither Shawanoes nor Hurons, he was confident
they were Osages, though it was not impossible that their totem was
another altogether.

Several peculiarities about the strange Indians interested the youth.
They were noticeably shorter in stature than the Hurons and Shawanoes
whom they had been accustomed to meet on the other side of the
Mississippi. The poetical American Indian is far different from the one
in real life. It is rarely that a really handsome warrior or squaw is
met. They are, generally a slouchy, frowsy, lazy, unclean people, of
whom nothing is truer than that distance lends enchantment to their
view.

Those upon whom Jack and Otto gazed with natural curiosity, were not
only shorter in stature, but of homelier countenance. Their eyes were
smaller, more piggish, and further apart, their cheek-bones more
prominent, the foreheads lower and more sloping, while Jack always
asserted that they had much larger mouths than the Indians with whom he
was familiar.

While asking themselves whether it was wise to go any closer and to make
their acquaintance, the lads stood side by side, each with the stock of
his gun resting on the earth, while their whole attention was absorbed
by the curious scene before them.

It would naturally follow that if the Indian party was in such plain
sight of the boys, they themselves must have been visible to the red men
had they chosen to cast their searching glances towards the spot where
the two were standing, even though the latter were partially hidden by
the undergrowth.

Had Jack and Otto been as vigilant and suspicious as they ought to have
been, their misgivings would have been awakened by what took place
within the next ten minutes. Two of the warriors, leaving their rifles
where they were leaning against a fallen tree, leisurely rose and
sauntered into the woods, taking a course directly opposite to that
which would have led them to where the boys stood. The latter observed
the movement, but thought nothing of it.

"What do you say?" finally asked Jack, in a guarded voice; "shall we go
forward and make their acquaintance?"

"Dey haven't any horses that we can see, and I dinks dot we better goes
away till some other time."

"I am inclined to believe you are right----"

At that moment, and without the least warning, a brawny, coppery arm
shot over the shoulder of Jack Carleton, and, grasping his rifle with an
iron grip, snatched it from him. At the same instant, a precisely
similar movement deprived Otto Relstaub of his most important weapon,
the two friends being made prisoners before they dreamed they were in
the least danger.



CHAPTER IV.

CAPTORS AND CAPTIVES.


With an exclamation of affright, Jack Carleton whirled on his heel and
found the broad, grinning face of one of the warriors almost against his
own. Holding the rifle back, as if expecting an attempt to recover it,
the savage thrust his head forward, with a tantalizing expression
overspreading his ugly features. At the same moment he muttered
something very rapidly in his own tongue. Not a word was understood by
Jack, but he was sure the warrior said, "Ah, ha, young man, I've caught
you, and you can't help yourself."

The experience of Otto Relstaub was slightly different from that of his
companion. When he found his rifle gone and a squatty Indian at his
elbow, he was panic-stricken.

"Mine gracious!" he exclaimed, "this ain't de best place for me; I dinks
I goes to some oder place."

Naturally he made a dash to retrace his steps, but the warrior was too
quick for him. He had taken his second step only, when his captor
grasped the ankle of the foot that was rising from the ground, and drew
backward with such force that Otto sprawled on his face.

Jack, who could not believe that these red men were of a very sanguinary
disposition, laughed outright over the discomfiture of his friend.

"Can't you kick him loose?" he called.

"If he don't hang on too tight," replied Otto, trying with might and
main to free himself.

The moment the boys were captured, the attention of the entire company
was centred upon them. All talking ceased, and every one stood up and
looked toward the point of interest. Several went forward to meet the
captives, and the general grin that lighted up the aboriginal
countenances seemed to shed a mild sort of sunlight among and under the
trees.

"It's no use," said Jack to his friend; "we can't get away until they
are ready to let us go."

"Vot does they mean to do mit us?"

"That is hard to tell," replied the young Kentuckian, with a serious
countenance; "I don't know to what tribe they belong, but I believe
they ain't half as bad as the Shawanoes."

"Dey couldn't be any more cruel don dem," was the truthful observation
of the young German.

In the course of a few seconds the boys were fully introduced to the
camp-fire of the strange Indians, who were not in war paint, and who, as
the boys rightly believed, belonged to a less bloodthirsty totem than
did the redskins on the eastern bank of the Mississippi.

Every warrior was standing on his feet, and they all crowded around the
boys, as though they had never seen any of their race until that moment.
They continually talked in their guttural, grunting fashion, smiling and
nodding their heads. Two of them pinched the limbs of the boys as though
testing their muscle. So far from showing any alarm, Jack Carleton
clenched his fist and elevated his arm, swaying the hand back and forth
as if proud to display the development of his biceps. But Otto was in
too doleful a mood to indulge in anything of the kind.

As a matter of course, the Indians could not feel the slightest
misgiving on account of their prisoners. They must have known of the
settlement only a few miles distant, and they had not offered to disturb
it, nor had they molested any of the pioneers when they ventured into
the woods in quest of game.

Such being the case, it can be readily seen that, so far as the settlers
were concerned, the Indians were safe. Although within gunshot of
Martinsville, the red men took no precaution at all against molestation
from them.

It struck Jack as curious that among the warriors gathered around them,
not one had as yet spoken a word that he could understand. The American
race have shown a quickness from the first to pick up expressions from
the language of those near them. Who has forgotten Samoset's "Welcome,
Englishmen!" uttered to the first settlers at Plymouth, who were at a
loss to understand where the red man learned the pleasant words?

Jack Carleton, who retained his self-possession much better than did his
friend, listened hopefully for some word which he could recognize.

While he was disappointed in that respect, he could not believe that he
and Otto were in any imminent peril from their captors, though, on the
other hand, he was very far from feeling safe against harm. With a
coolness that must have awakened admiration among the barbarians, the
youth, standing in the middle of the group, folded his arms, and
smilingly looked in the repellant faces, none of which were at a greater
altitude than his own.

After pinching different parts of the bodies of the boys, the Indians
seemed to be satisfied and stepped back. The majority sat down on the
log, others sauntered away, relighting their pipes that had burned out,
and the two who had been serving as cooks, gave their attention to the
venison steak, whose appetizing odor filled the surrounding space.

"Otto, we may as well take it quietly," said Jack, sauntering to the
butt of the log, and seating himself, "they don't mean to tomahawk us
just yet, and I hope they will give us some dinner before they dispose
of us."

The German imitated the action of Jack, but he did not share his
self-possession. He shook his head in a way which showed he was far from
feeling comfortable.

"You seem more scared than when we were behind the logs, with the
Shawanoes and Hurons on the outside," said Jack; "I don't understand how
that can be. I am sure there is less to dread from these Indians than
from them."

"It ain't de Injins dot makes me feel so bad," replied Otto with a
rueful expression, "but fader."

"What's the matter with him?"

"De colt is lost and now dey takes mine gun from me; if I goes back dot
way, fader will whip me harder than ever."

Jack was serious for a moment and then he laughed.

"I never dreamed that _that_ was your trouble. Of course, if you go home
without your gun the old gentleman will be angry, but there is one good
thing about the matter."

"What's that?"

"No matter what happens, he can't be any meaner and more cruel than he
is now."

Otto removed his tall, conical hat, looked thoughtfully down at the
ground in front, and slowly scratched his head. Manifestly he was in
deep thought. Suddenly he looked up, his face aglow.

"Dot is so. I don't care now vot dey takes, I will valks home and tells
fader and moder dot I lost it, den won't they be mad! Oh, mine
gracious!"

And leaning far back on the log and donning his hat, he slapped his knee
with his right hand and shook all over with laughter. There is something
contagious in such an exhibition, as we all know, and not only did Jack
laugh in unison, but several of the warriors showed they were amused.

"I thought all the time Otto was alarmed on account of the Indians,"
said Jack to himself, "and it was nothing of the kind; he was only
afraid that his father will be madder than ever when he goes back not
only without the lost horse, but without some of the property he took
away with him. Now that fear is gone and Otto begins to feel better than
I do, for," thought the youth, looking around him, "we certainly are not
in the best situation in the world."

The youth could not help observing that while the Indians seemed to pay
little attention to them, he and Otto were under strict surveillance. As
no motion had been made to bind them, the boys could make a sudden
break or dash for liberty whenever the whim took possession of them, but
nothing could be gained and a great deal might be lost by such an
attempt. Stumpy and heavy-set as were the warriors, they could easily
outrun their captives, and rather than permit them to get away, they
would doubtless riddle them with bullets. Consequently, while the same
thought came to each of the friends more than once, as they sat
conversing on the log, neither proposed any effort to get away.

They had brought nothing in the shape of lunch with them, and it may be
doubted whether any one of the Indians was more ravenously hungry than
were they. It would go hard with them, if deprived of their share of the
dinner, prepared by the aboriginal cooks.

When the huge slices of venison were half broiled, the distribution
followed. The cooks handled their hunting-knives with such deftness,
that in a twinkling, as may be said, the jaws of the entire party were
vigorously at work. After receiving their respective shares, few made
the slightest use of their knives. The aborigines live and eat so much
like wild animals, that, almost without exception, they possess
admirable teeth which need no artificial assistance.

"My gracious!" whispered Jack, "I believe they don't mean to give us so
much as a bite."

"If dey doesn't do so, den I dies mit hunger," was the despairing
exclamation of Otto, who forgot that only a few hours had passed since
he had partaken liberally of food. "I never felt so hungry as I feels
now, and now I'm growing worser----"

Something thumped against the side of the speaker's head with such force
that his hat fell off. Jack had just time to see that it was a piece of
cooked venison, when a similar blessing struck him.

The two Indians were dexterous throwers, and they and half a dozen were
grinning over the result.

The result was satisfactory in every way to the victims, if such they
may be considered, for, besides furnishing them with the much-needed
nourishment, it was a strong proof of the indifference, if not the
good-will of their captors. Had they felt ill inclined toward the boys,
they would not have shown such kindness toward them.

"When you are in Rome, do as the Romans do," laughed Jack, seating
himself on the fallen tree and devouring the half-cooked meat with the
gusto of those around him. Indeed he and Otto had eaten many a time in a
similar style, and few persons find difficulty in making savages of
themselves in every respect, whenever the inclination so to do takes
possession of them.

The boys would have relished double the amount of food, but enough had
been given to remove all discomfort, and they would have found it hard
to describe the thorough enjoyment the lunch imparted.

But now that the troublesome question was answered, the thought of the
youths naturally turned to the immediate future. Had these Indians
formed any purpose respecting their prisoners? If so, what was it likely
to be? Did they intend to kill them with rifle, tomahawk, or knife? Or
would they be taken away captives? Did the red men belong to the Osage
tribe of Indians, or was theirs some fiercer or milder totem from a
distant part of the country?

It is a fact that among many of the early settlements in Missouri and
other Western States, the warriors who were occasionally encountered in
the forests, or who fired from the cover of the trees, belonged to
tribes whose hunting-grounds were many leagues away. They were not
Shawanoe, Huron, Pottawatomie, Osage, Miami, Delaware, Illinois,
Kickapoo, or Winnebago. Sometimes a veteran trapper recognized the dress
and general appearance that he had noted among the red men to the
northward, and far beyond the Assiniboine; others who had ventured
hundreds of miles to the westward, remembered exchanging shots with
similar dusky warriors on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Indeed it cannot be questioned that the American race not only produced
warriors, orators, and magnificent leaders, but it had its travelers and
explorers--the name being accepted in its restricted meaning.

More than once Jack had wondered whether this party had not come from a
long distance in the interior, perhaps hundreds of miles, and that
having completed the errand on which they had journeyed so far, were now
on their return.

"If this is so," he said to Otto, when they observed the party making
preparations to leave, "they will take us on a good long march."

"I dinks maybe dey knocks us in the head, so as not to makes us feel bad
apout going away from home."

Further conversation was checked by some minutes of bustle and activity.
The Indians seemed to have come very suddenly to the conclusion to
depart, and the boys naturally shared the excitement; but possibly their
dismay can be imagined, when it became apparent that the red men
intended to divide into two parties, and that as a consequence the boys
would have to part company, and who shall say whether it was to be for a
few days, a few years, or forever?



CHAPTER V.

JOURNEYING SOUTHWARD.


It never occurred to Jack and Otto that their captors meant to separate
until the division actually took place. As if by a general
understanding, one half of the party moved to the right, and the rest
partly to the left, the course of the former being due west, and of the
latter directly south.

"Halloo, Otto!" called Jack, turning his head and stopping among the
members of his own division who were moving off; "they're going to part
company."

"Dot is vot it looks like; but I guess it ain't going to be for one
great vile. Good-by!"

Jack was unwilling to part with his friend in this abrupt fashion, and
he started toward him with a view of shaking his hand. He did not dream
that his movement would awaken the least opposition; but he presumed too
much on the indulgence of the red men, for, before he could take three
steps, one of the warriors caught his arm, and, with a violent wrench,
flung him in the opposite direction.

It required the utmost effort of Jack to save himself from falling, and
a stinging pain ran through his shoulder. His hot Kentucky blood was
aflame, and the instant he could poise his body he drew his knife and
rushed upon the Indian with the fury of a tiger.

"I'll show you that you can't treat me that way!" he exclaimed.

The warrior whom he was about to assail faced him in a crouching
posture, both hands resting on his knees, while his ugly countenance was
bisected by a tantalizing grin which showed the molars of both jaws. His
black eyes gleamed like those of a rattlesnake, and his whole attitude
and manner showed that he was seeking to goad the lad to attack him.

The impetus was not needed. Jack Carleton had no thought of hesitation,
though even in his rage he felt that there was scarcely a shadow of hope
that he would escape with his life from such an encounter.

The moment Jack was close enough he bounded forward and made a sweeping
blow, with the knife gripped in his right hand. Had the weapon struck
where it was aimed, there would have been one Indian less before the
spectators could have realized what had taken place. The other warriors
were looking upon the picture as though in doubt of what was coming.
Among those watching the scene was Otto Relstaub, whose eyes were
riveted on his friend. The thrilling encounter had opened so suddenly
that he fairly held his breath, certain that Jack would not live two
minutes longer.

But the knife of the boy missed its mark altogether. The keen point
whizzed through empty air, the spiteful force of the blow turning the
lad half way around on his feet, and leaving him utterly at the mercy of
the warrior; the latter could have smitten him to the earth with the
suddenness of the lightning stroke.

But the Indian did not so much as draw his weapon. With a quickness
which the eye could scarcely follow, he snatched the wrist of the boy's
hand and bent it back with such force that poor Jack was glad to let the
weapon fall to the ground. He was discomfited and helpless.

Jack folded his arms, so as to bring the injured wrist against his left
side and under his elbow. Pressing it close to his body, he shut his
white lips and forced back the cry that struggled for utterance.

With wonderful coolness the triumphant red man stooped to the ground,
picked up the hunting-knife, and with the same expanse of grin,
presented it to Jack, the handle toward him.

"Takes him, Jack!" called out Otto, who was probably the most astounded
spectator of the scene; "but don't try to kills him ag'in."

Young Carleton for a moment was as bewildered as a child; but his good
sense rapidly returned, and, with a smile in answer to that of the
Indian, he accepted the weapon and shoved it back in its place.

Jack was mortified beyond expression at the sorry show he had made. He
had cut a ridiculous figure, and no wonder a general smile lighted up
the faces of the red men gathered around.

But the youth made a mistake when he believed he had lowered himself in
the eyes of his captors. The American race (like all others) admire true
courage and pluck, even though judgment may be lacking, and the
dauntless style in which the young captive attacked his tormentor, when
there was no prospect of success, awoke a responsive chord in the breast
of all. Had Jack shown himself a coward, they might have treated him as
they often did such captives; but the brave young fellow was in no
danger, at least for the present.

The occurrence took but a fraction of the time that has been occupied in
the telling, and Jack was only given opportunity to replace the knife,
when his captors, arranging themselves so as to surround him, resumed
their march to the westward. Precisely at the same instant the other
half of the company did the same in the other direction, and once more
Otto Relstaub called out:

"Good-by, Jack! good-by to you!"

"Good-by, my friend!" shouted Jack, his heart filled with a deep
misgiving over the singular event. "Keep up a good heart, though there's
no telling whether we shall ever meet again."

"If I get home before you gets dere I will tell Colonel Martin, and
we'll follow you to the Rocky Mountains----"

Even in that serious moment Jack Carleton broke into laughter when he
saw that the usual fortune of Otto clung to him. His foot caught in
some obstruction, and while in the act of waving his hand and exchanging
greetings with his friend, he stumbled forward and went down. Clambering
to his feet he turned to complete his words, but his captors seemed to
have lost patience on account of the delay. One seized his right and
another his left arm and began walking him rapidly off. The last sight
which Jack gained of the fellow showed him between two Indians, who were
hurrying him along with such vigor that his head rose and sank with each
unwilling footstep, as though he was alternately lifted from and pressed
down to the ground. A few seconds later and the intervening trees hid
him from sight.

It would have been difficult for Jack Carleton to describe his varied
emotions when forced to admit the fact that he was an actual prisoner
among a band of wandering Indians. The memorable journey from Kentucky
into Louisiana had been attended by many stirring experiences, and more
than once every avenue of escape seemed to be closed, but, now for the
first time, he found himself a captive within a few miles of his own
home.

Whither would these red men take him? Did they mean to hold him a
permanent captive, or, as is often the case with their race, would they
put him to torture and finally to death? The settlements of Kentucky and
Ohio were crimsoned with the deeds of the red men, and, though some
tribes were less warlike than others, it was not to be supposed that any
of them were distinguished for mercy and forbearance.

"If Colonel Martin only knew this," thought Jack, while tramping
forward, "it wouldn't take him long to gather the men together, and they
would come down on these folks like a whirlwind; but Otto and I may be
gone for weeks before any one will suspect we are in trouble. Even then
they won't know what to do. No, sir," added Jack, compressing his lips,
"whatever is done must be done by myself, and, with the help of heaven,
I shall part company with these red men just as soon as the chance
presents itself."

Any one in the situation of Jack Carleton cannot lack for themes on
which to employ his brain. It is safe to assert that the boy did more
thinking while on that eventful march than he had done in the same space
of time for years.

It may be said that while the party were on the march, and the warriors
were together, it was utterly out of the question for Jack to leave
against their will. Three strode along in front, while two were in the
rear. Every one was fleeter of foot than he, and they had six rifles in
their possession, while he had none at all. Could he secure several
hundred yards' start, they would have no difficulty in trailing and
running him down, for the sky was clear, the sun bright, and the
footprints of the boy would show as distinctly to the keen eyes of the
red men as though made in the dust of the highway.

No, he must wait for the darkness of the night, when a few yards between
him and his enemies would prove like a stone wall; when insidious sleep
would seal the eyes of the dusky barbarians, and he could steal out in
the gloom, leaving them to wait for hours before taking up his trail.

One person was continually in the thoughts of Jack Carleton--_Deerfoot_.
"Where is he? Is he days' journey to the south? Is there any hope of him
playing the part of a friend for Otto and me?"

These and similar questions were asked again and again while the youth
was tramping through the wood in the company of his captors, and his
heart sank when his own good sense obliged him to answer each one in the
most unsatisfactory manner.

He recalled that Deerfoot parted with them only a few days before in a
manner which implied that considerable time must pass before they would
see each other again. The young Shawanoe could not suspect that when his
friends reached home, they would immediately proceed to get into
trouble, as they had just done.

"No," added Jack, with a sigh, "from what I know and have heard of
Deerfoot, he has a wonderful way of turning up when wanted, but it's no
use to look for him in this case."

The conclusion of the boy was a sensible one, and he resolutely faced
the situation as it presented itself to him. It was most serious, and it
may be said that every passing hour rendered it more so, for he was
moving away from home, and thereby increasing the difficulties of
returning thither, should it become his good fortune to gain the
opportunity to do so.

The warriors who were walking in front, followed the usual custom of
their people--that is, they proceeded in Indian file, so that the boy
was given a fair view only of the one immediately before him--the
glimpses of the others being fragmentary. Glancing behind, he observed
the same fact, so that the entire party made but the single trail, for
Jack himself was wise enough to fall in with their custom.

"It may be," he muttered, after traveling several miles in silence,
"that they live hundreds of miles off and that I won't have a chance to
leave them for weeks or months or--years," he added in a hushed voice,
and with an additional heart-throb, "but I shall never be reconciled to
live in the wigwams of the red men."

It seemed curious to the young captive that a party of friends, like the
Indians, should tramp mile after mile as they did without speaking a
single word. Now and then, some one would utter an exclamation which
sounded more like the grunt of a porker than anything else, but
frequently they advanced steadily for an hour or more in perfect
silence.

Sometimes the forest was open and free from undergrowth, then it was
cluttered up with running vines which would have annoyed any one
unaccustomed to them, but which proved no obstacle to the Indians. In
fact, they walked without showing the least regard to them. Where Jack,
if leading, would have lifted his feet, they shoved ahead and without
effort snapped and turned them aside as though they were so many
cobwebs.

"It all comes from training," concluded our friend, as he attempted to
catch a switch which swung back and struck him across the face; "if I
was alone, it would take me twice as long as it takes them, and then I
would fare worse than they do."

All at once, they came upon a creek. It was barely twenty feet in width,
but muddy, swift and deep. There was something impressive in the speed
with which the volume of water rushed through the woods, as if fleeing
in a panic from some peril at its heels.

The entire party came to a halt, ranging themselves along the bank and
surveying the turbid torrents, as though they wished to talk with each
other upon the best method of placing themselves on the other side.

"I hope they won't swim it," Jack said to himself, "for their people
make no allowance for those that are not as skillful as they, and I will
get into trouble."



CHAPTER VI.

AN INVOLUNTARY BATH.


It was not to be supposed that a party of Indians could be checked by a
stream of water. If necessary they could swim across, but, inasmuch as
the party separated, and while several went up, the rest walked down the
stream, it was evident they were searching for a more suitable spot in
which to make the passage.

Jack Carleton followed the larger party, which had gone only a few rods
when a whoop from the others made known they had found what was wanted.
The rest immediately turned around and joined them.

Jack saw at once that the means were provided for passing over dry shod.
A tree, some six or eight inches in diameter, lay with the butt on one
shore and the upper portion on the opposite bank. A glance showed that
it had been felled by the axe of some pioneer, who probably thus formed
a bridge for himself and friends. The limbs had been trimmed away, and
the abraded bark proved that it had served a similar purpose for many
wild beasts in passing to and fro. The faded color of the gashes in the
trunk showed that a long time had passed since the bridge was made by
the woodman's axe.

Nothing better could be required, and several grunts of satisfaction
escaped the warriors during the minute they stood together viewing the
support that awaited the pressing of their feet.

Jack Carleton stepped forward, but one of the Indians grasped his arm
and drew him back so violently as almost to throw him to the ground. The
boy looked wonderingly in his face, and saw that it was aglow with
passion. He shook his head rapidly and spoke fast and furious.

"I think I can guess what you mean," said Jack, stepping back, so as to
allow the others to precede him, "and I will now await your commands."

He stood still until three had gone over, when they beckoned him to
follow. Jack had noticed that when the Indians were walking on the log,
they were obliged to move carefully, for their foothold was narrow and
the swift running current was apt to make one dizzy. The lad, however,
stepped forward without hesitation and advanced slowly but with
certainty.

The three warriors, who stood facing him on the shore, showed that like
Deerfoot the Shawanoe, they possessed a certain vein of waggery, for at
the moment Jack was over the middle of the stream, one of them stooped,
and, grasping the head of the trunk, moved it quickly fully a couple of
feet to the right, all three bursting into an audible snicker at the
same moment. The lad was looking downward, meanwhile stepping carefully,
when he glanced across to learn the meaning of the action, the stooping
Indian being in his field of vision.

Jack understood the trick, but he was without the means of defeating it.
He stooped quickly with the intention of grasping the support with both
hands, but before he could do so, he lost his balance, flung his arms
aloft, and down he went with a loud splash that sent the spray flying in
all directions.

No audience of countrymen ever laughed more heartily at the ancient
jokes of a clown than did the five Indians when the boy disappeared
under the water, his eyes staring with the shock of affright which came
with his sudden contact with the current.

Jack was a capital swimmer, and he was satisfied there was no wish to
drown him; but he had scarcely passed below the surface, when it
occurred to him that there was a possibility of turning the jest upon
his captors. The water was very deep, and he kept sinking until his feet
softly touched the bottom. As he gave himself the slight impulse which
sent him upward again, he not only swam swiftly with the rapid current,
but moved as close to shore as possible, and began creeping up the side
of the bank.

In doing this, he over-estimated his own strength. It took him a longer
time to reach the surface than he calculated upon, and he narrowly
escaped strangling; but he resolutely held out to the last second.

At the moment the rushing waters seemed to roar through his brain, his
crown cleft the surface, and he drew a deep inspiration of the blessed
air; but, even in that trying moment, he kept his self-possession, and
the breath was taken so softly that no ear beside his own knew it.

He had emerged close to shore and directly under some overhanging brush,
which was not so dense as he could wish, since he was able to see the
warriors standing on the land and looking for him. It followed,
therefore, that if they should scrutinize the bank very closely they
would discover him; but the boy's hope lay in their lack of suspicion
that such an artifice was in his mind.

Several circumstances united to help the youth; the water was roiled, as
has already been said, while the friction of the swift current against
the shore made a noise which overcame the slight ripple caused by his
own movements. Only his nose and eyes were kept above the surface, and
the shrubbery which inclosed them made a tolerable screen, though less
effective than he desired.

Jack had landed, as may be said, a dozen yards below the log from which
he had been thrown and on the side from which he set out, consequently
he was opposite the five Indians who stood on the shore. He was led to
do this from a natural desire to get as far away as he could from his
captors, but it was a mistake on his part, for had he crawled under the
other bank he would have been hidden altogether from the sight of the
Indians.

Holding to a wire-like root with his left hand, he swung around so as to
face up stream, and, through the slight spaces in the shrubbery kept his
eyes fixed intently on the brawny red men.

[Illustration: A NARROW ESCAPE.]

Very soon the warriors looked at each other, and talked rapidly and with
growing excitement. There could be no doubt they were discussing the
unexpected shape matters had taken; the joke played on their captive had
proven a very serious matter to him. It must have been that the
pale-faced youth was unable to swim and was drowned. The white warrior
was a pappoose.

"By and by they will make search for me," was the thought of Jack
Carleton, still retaining his hold, "and then will come the tug of war.
It won't be the live boy they'll expect to find, but his dead body,
bobbing up and down and back and forth, and yet I don't see why they
will care to hunt me up."

Whatever might be the issue, Jack was warranted in feeling hopeful, for
he was sure the incident had taken a turn entirely unexpected to the
warriors.

"If I had only floated a little further down stream," he thought more
than once, noticing a sharp bend made by the current, "I would have been
in a good deal better situation than this, for I would have been out of
their sight altogether."

Several times he was on the point of letting go and dropping further
down, but he dreaded some mistake which would draw attention to the
spot. If he should try to swim under the surface, he might be forced to
come up too soon, or might strike some obstruction in the stream that
would fling him over as though he was a porpoise. It was the fear of a
catastrophe of this nature which held him where he was, while he peered
through the shrubbery like some wild animal glaring out from his covert
upon his enemies.

The face of every Indian was in sight, and he studied the expression of
each broad, coppery countenance. He knew they were talking by the
movements of the thin lips, and, despite the noise of the rushing
stream, he heard one of them grunt several times. This particular
warrior was shorter and more solidly built than the rest, and appeared
to be some kind of a leader, for he had the most to say, and the boy
noticed, while on the march, that he directed the actions of the rest.

This Indian, as he stood, held his rifle in his right hand, while the
thumb of his left was hooked over the belt at his waist, which supported
his knife and tomahawk. His stomach protruded somewhat, and, when he
spoke in his sententious manner, the belt would rise and sink in a
spasmodic fashion which kept time with his words.

Jack kept close watch of the black eyes, which, like those of
professional hunters and scouts, were never at rest. They flitted hither
and thither, up and down stream and even to the rear, as though danger
were apprehended from that direction.

What the boy was expecting and dreading was a search on the part of the
Indians. None could know better than they how brief a time is required
for a person to drown, and they were not long in arriving at the
conclusion that the boy either was dead, or had left the stream at a
point below. Three savages walked hastily over the creek on the log and
began moving along shore, their serpent-like eyes scanning every foot of
land and water that came in their field of vision. At the same time, the
other two did the same from the opposite shore, and Jack Carleton knew
that the crisis had come.

He felt quite secure against being seen by the two who were traveling
together, for he was able to dispose of the undergrowth so as to
increase its usefulness. While one hand held fast to the tough root, he
softly drew down the bush with the other, so that it interposed between
him and the couple who were held in such dread. If the others should
step to the edge of the stream and part the bushes, it would be all up
with the frightened lad.

The necessities of the case forced Jack to raise his head until both
ears were above the surface, and thus, while he employed his eyes to
follow the movements of the couple, he sought to use his ears to
discover the approach of the trio, though the rushing torrent forbade
full success in that respect.

The two warriors were in plain sight as they slowly picked their way
downward. Jack saw the upper parts of their bodies, and his heart
throbbed faster when they faced about and came down to the edge of the
water. However, they were still several yards above him, so that he was
quite certain they did not suspect his hiding-place. When they halted
and leaned over the stream, the fugitive gave no thought to those who
were undoubtedly much closer, but sank until only forehead, eyes and
nose were in the air, while the scanty bush was drawn still closer to
his face.

All at once, Jack's heart seemed to stand still; he saw that one of the
Indians was looking straight at the spot where he was in hiding. The
black orbs were centered upon him with such an inquiring expression,
that he was sure he had been discovered. All hope was gone, until a
moment after he observed that the savage was peering at the undergrowth
below him, as though suspicious of everything which could afford any
sort of a hiding-place.

"He didn't see me after all," was the conclusion of the delighted boy,
"and now if the others let me alone, I shall have a chance to give them
the slip."

Again the waists and shoulders of the two were observed moving slowly
among the trees and undergrowth, until they passed out of sight, a
considerable distance below the crouching fugitive. The relief of the
latter was unspeakable, though he could not forget that other foes were
also to be avoided.

But minute after minute passed, and still Jack saw and heard nothing of
the red men. With each passing minute his hopes rose, until at the end
of half an hour, he felt that his safety was well nigh secured.

"They have concluded I was drowned and my body is not likely to come to
the surface for some time--anyway not until it is a long way from this
spot. If they don't return, I'm safe."

But a thrill of alarm passed through him more than once, when he
recalled that the strategy he had employed was of such a simple nature
that it ought to suggest itself to the red men. If such was the case
they would be certain to return to the fallen tree, renew their search,
and prosecute it with greater care.

It was the dread of the latter which led Jack to creep carefully out of
the stream, after he had been in hiding perhaps half an hour. Of course
his clothing was saturated, and he had become chilled from his long
submersion, so that his teeth rattled, and he trembled in every limb.
Extended flat on the ground, he crawled with the utmost care until a
couple of rods from the water. Then he stopped and listened. He was so
far from the stream that its noise did not prevent him detecting any
slight noise which might have been made by some other cause, but he
heard nothing at all.

There was still considerable undergrowth around him, so that he felt
screened from the observation of any other Indians wandering in the
vicinity.

"They thought they were very cunning," muttered Jack, with a chuckle,
"when they tumbled me into the water, but I played a trick on them worth
two of their kind. I only wish there was some way of letting them know
how completely I have outwitted them----"

A cold shiver passed down the spine of Jack Carleton, when he distinctly
heard a guttural, grunting laugh behind him. Turning like a flash, he
saw the five Indian warriors from whom, up to that moment, he had
believed he was free, standing within a rod, and all grinning to an
extent that seemed to take the corners of their mouths around to their
ears.

The truth broke upon Jack: the red men had never lost sight of him,
except for the moment he was under the water. They knew where he was
when he supposed himself invisible, and they had been amusing themselves
at his expense.



CHAPTER VII.

TWO VISITORS.


On the evening succeeding the departure of Jack Carleton and Otto
Relstaub from the little settlement of Martinsville, the widowed mother
of Jack was seated by her fireside engaged in knitting. The night was
cold, and the huge sticks of wood were roaring and crackling in the
broad fireplace, and throwing a cheerful glow and warmth through the
room. The tallow candle on the mantel had not been lit, for there was no
need of it, and, despite the loneliness and poverty of the sad-faced
woman, there was an air of neatness and comfort about her home which
would have tempted any one who could look through the narrow window into
the homely, old-fashioned apartment.

The deft fingers flew back and forth as regularly as the most delicate
machinery, until all at once the lady stopped and allowed her hands to
rest in her lap. At the same moment a sigh escaped her, and she looked
into the glowing embers.

It was not hard to guess where her thoughts were; they were with that
only child who had gone forth in the woods to help the German lad look
for the missing horse. Mrs. Carleton smiled as she reflected upon a
certain absurdity which marked the whole business, for, look at it as
she chose, there was something grotesque in the project of two youths
setting out to hunt for a horse that had been wandering for days in a
limitless wood. But the smile quickly gave way to the serious expression
which not often left the face of the mother since that awful night when
her husband was stricken down by the fierce red men of Kentucky.

"I trust God will not forget my boy," were the almost inaudible words
that came to her lips. "He has wonderfully preserved him through many
perils, and my heart misgives me now that I allowed him to go from under
my roof."

Just then the latch-string was spitefully pulled, the door was pushed
inward, and Jacob Relstaub entered. The angry man was short of stature,
clumsily dressed, and the only weapon he carried was a heavy, knotted
cane, if that may be termed such, which was his companion when moving
about the sparse settlement. It has already been said that he was
parsimonious, cross-grained, and cruel-hearted, and he had been in
specially ill-temper since the return of his boy without the horse upon
which so much value was set.

The door swung to of itself, and the German, stopping short in the
middle of the room, banged his cane upon the floor, and, looking
savagely at the quiet lady who had nodded and bidden him good evening,
demanded:

"Vere is mine poy, Otto?"

"Don't you know?" asked the widow in return, with a tone of surprise.

"No, I does not; he says he goes off mit your poy, but dey both
lies--don't it?"

"My boy never tells a falsehood," was the quiet response of Mrs.
Carleton, whose pale cheek slightly flushed. "Your Otto told the truth
as you well know. Not only that, but he only obeyed you when he went out
in the woods to run into all kinds of danger in search of an animal
which I do not believe can possibly be found."

"All poys ish bad," said the visitor with an impatient sniff, as he took
off his cap and slouched to a chair on the opposite side of the fire.
"Your poy ish badder dan any oder poy; mine Otto is lazy, and if he
doesn't pring pack dot horse I vill pounds him till he don't live."

"He may _never_ come back," said the lady in a low, impressive voice
which would have moved anyone else, but it was lost on the boorish
visitor.

"Hoof! No fear of dot; he alvays comes back ven ve doesn't vant him to
come back."

"Well," said Mrs. Carleton with a sigh, "I am sorry I let Jack go, for
if he had insisted on staying home your boy would have done the same,
though if I was in Otto's place I would consider the woods, with all
their dangers and sufferings, preferable to living with a parent who is
as unfeeling as you."

Jacob Relstaub had both of his horny hands folded over the top of his
heavy cane, which rested on the floor between his large shoes, while his
cap, somewhat resembling the peaked head-gear of his boy, lay beside
him. His broad, ill-favored countenance was darkened by a frown, and it
was easy for the lady to see that the fellow still doubted her word. His
manner of looking about the large room, and a habit of listening
intently, as though he expected to bear approaching footsteps, showed
that he suspected Otto was hiding somewhere in the cabin. Mrs. Carleton
understood his feelings and she was annoyed to anger, for her sensitive
nature felt the insult keenly. Beside, she despised the coarse nature of
the man who seemed so totally lacking in humanity.

The lady was on the point of reproving him with sharp words, when both
were astonished by a gentle knock on the door, such a hail being
contrary to all the rules of the frontier, when the latch-string is not
drawn in. Both looked quickly toward the entrance, and the lady raised
her voice and said:

"The latch-string is out!"

The words were yet on her lips when it was pulled, and the door swung
inward.

The firelight fell upon the figure of an Indian warrior, who stopped on
the threshold as if he doubted whether he would be welcome when those
within saw him. As he stood with the blank darkness behind him and the
crimson glow from the burning logs lighting up the front of his body, he
formed a most striking picture.

He was the ideal of symmetry and manly beauty--one of those productions
of the American race which are very rare, but which, when seen, are the
nearest approach to physical and mental perfection that is ever attained
in this world. He was about five feet ten inches in height, and with
body and limbs in as perfect proportion as the chisel of Phidias ever
carved from marble. Even his long, black hair, which hung luxuriantly
and loosely about his shoulders, was of softer texture than is the rule
with his people. Several stained eagle feathers slanted upward and
outward from the crown, and a double row of brilliant beads encircled
his neck. A fine gold bracelet clasped his left wrist, and the deer-skin
hunting shirt and leggings were clean, and of the finest possible make.
They retained their dull, yellow hue, but the girdle which clasped his
body at the waist was of a red color, so bright that it seemed likely to
attract dangerous attention in the forest. The leggings were fringed,
and the delicate moccasins were also ornamented with colored beads. The
heavy blanket which he carried during severe weather was lacking, for it
would have been only an encumbrance when the climate was mild.

Into the girdle were thrust a tomahawk and hunting knife, while a long
bow was carried in his right hand, and a quiver full of arrows rested
behind his right shoulder, where they could be snatched forth on the
instant. The youthful warrior carried no firearms, for he depended alone
on the primitive weapons which his people had used for centuries.

Splendid as were the frame and limbs of the youth, the greatest
attraction lay in his countenance. His features were classical in their
regularity, excepting the nose, which was just enough aquiline to give
character to his face, and take away the femininity which otherwise
might cling to it.

When he smiled in his faint, shadowy fashion, his teeth were seen to be
small, white, regular, and without the slightest defect, while the
lustrous black eyes glowed with light and feeling. Having closed the
door behind him, he still hesitated to advance until assured he was
welcome.

Although Mrs. Carleton had never seen him before, she was certain of his
identity, and, rising from her seat, she asked:

"Are you Deerfoot the Shawanoe?"

He smiled and inclined his head.

"You are the friend of my boy, and of Otto, the son of Mr. Relstaub.
There is no one in the world who could be more welcome than you. Come
forward and take a seat nearer the fire."

The dusky countenance flushed with pleasure, for the words were warmer
than he was accustomed to hear.

Deerfoot advanced a couple of steps, and, reaching over, drew the rude
stool to him. His diffidence would not allow him to go very near the
blaze.

When Jacob Relstaub heard the name pronounced, he uttered an angry sniff
and banged his cane upon the floor. He said nothing; but he detested the
handsome Indian youth, whom he had driven from his door when he asked
for shelter, and he knew he had been the companion of his boy on the
stirring journey from Kentucky to Louisiana. It mattered not that the
masterful woodcraft of the dusky friend had saved the life of Otto
Relstaub; all that the German remembered was that the valuable horse was
lost, and he blamed this Indian for it, as he censured Jack Carleton for
the same misfortune. The man, however, said nothing for a few minutes.

It was manifest from the manner of Deerfoot that he was disappointed
because he did not meet Jack Carleton. He cast but a single glance
around the apartment, which showed him his young friend was not present;
then, as he gently seated himself, he looked into the pale face of the
widow and said:

"Deerfoot sees not his brother."

"No; Jack and Otto set out on a long hunt this morning. They may be back
in a few days and perhaps not for a fortnight."

"Have they gone to look for the horse that was lost?"

"Yes," answered the lady, with a smile; "I am ashamed to say they have;
but I ask your pardon; have you had supper? Will you not permit me to
give you to eat?"

She was about to rise when Deerfoot, who was resting his bow on the
floor, while he grasped the center as though it was a cane, motioned
with his left hand for her to retain her seat.

"The mother of my friend is good and kind, but Deerfoot cannot eat."

He appeared to be on the point of saying something more, but restrained
himself. The mother was quick to perceive it, and a pang of dread
stirred her heart.

"What were you about to say?" she asked, in her abrupt fashion,
suspending the knitting which she was in the very act of resuming.

Deerfoot was too truthful to deceive her outright; but it is fair to
presume he did not say all that was in his thoughts.

"Deerfoot is sorry his brothers have gone to look for the horse."

"Why?" quickly asked the mother.

"They cannot find him."

"Vy don't they finds him?" asked Jacob Relstaub, banging his cane again
and glaring fiercely at the youth, as though ready to spring upon him.

Deerfoot looked calmly in the forbidding countenance, and asked, more
directly than was his custom:

"Are you the father of my brother, Otto?"

"Yaw; of course I ish. He is one pad poy, as you ish de wust Injin dot
effer vasn't."

Without the least visible excitement, and in the same deliberate
monotone, Deerfoot still looking him straight in the face:

"The father of Otto is a dog; he has no heart. The Great Spirit hides
his face with shame when he looks upon him."

"VAT!" roared Jacob, half rising to his chair and grasping his knobby
cane with both hands, while he trembled with rage. "You don't speak dot
vays to me and I breaks your head."

He suddenly straightened up, and all aglow with fury advanced upon
Deerfoot, who placed his left hand on his knife, quietly arose and faced
him, without speaking.



CHAPTER VIII.

A SURPRISE.


Jacob Relstaub was so accustomed to the undisturbed abuse of his son
that he was struck almost speechless by the calm defiance of the Indian
youth. When he saw the latter place his hand on the knife at his girdle,
the German could not fail to know its meaning. He stopped short with his
cane half raised and glared savagely at Deerfoot.

"You means to kills me, eh, don't it? Yaw,--I sees,--I sees!"

And shaking his head very fast, and muttering some vigorous words in his
own language, he stamped towards the door, swung it open and passed out
in the darkness. Deerfoot stood motionless, looking in the direction
whence he had vanished, and then, without a word, sat down on the rude
chair and looked toward Mrs. Carleton, seated as she was near the fire.

The good lady was terrified, but the incident was so brief that it was
over before she fairly understood its full meaning and the ill-natured
caller was gone.

"He is such a bad-tempered man that I'm afraid he will hurt you for
this," said she, stepping hastily to the door, where she drew in the
latch-string, thus locking the humble cabin against intruders. When she
sat down, with her scared look and her words of misgiving on her lips,
Deerfoot looked from the crackling fire into her countenance. As the
yellow glow lit up his handsome features, they showed the faintest
possible smile, which vanished the same moment it appeared. The
matchless redskin must have appreciated the grim humor involved in the
thought of his feeling any fear of the curmudgeon who had just gone.

Previous to that the young Shawanoe had glanced around the cabin, and
like another Houdin, impressed every point in his memory. He noted the
narrow windows through which a hostile shot could be fired from the
outside. He did not believe the late visitor would proceed to that
length, but he shifted his seat to a point several feet away, where, if
Relstaub relied on his previous knowledge for his aim, no possible harm
could be done.

Deerfoot made his change in such a quiet fashion, that his hostess had
not the slightest suspicion of its meaning. She saw that he had simply
moved closer to the fire. The space between her own chair and that of
the visitor was such that there was no call for her to change her
location: had there been the slightest, Deerfoot would not have
permitted her to wait.

"My brother will hurt no one," said he in his quiet fashion: "he is a
bad man; he has a good boy, Otto; Deerfoot calls him his brother, and
will do much for him; but Deerfoot does not like his father."

"I was _so_ afraid he would strike you with his cane," said the lady,
still trembling over the remembrance, "and then you would have used your
knife."

The smile was more pronounced than before, but the words were scarcely
audible.

"He could not hurt Deerfoot and Deerfoot would not hurt him."

The lady fully understood his meaning, and it lifted a great fear from
her heart that Jacob Relstaub would return, demand admittance, and
attack her guest. True, he might do so, but she saw that in such an
event the results would be farcical rather than tragical.

Deerfoot did not care to give any further thought to the despicable man.
He had come to the settlement to visit Jack Carleton and Otto Relstaub,
and found they were absent on a singular hunt for the horse that had
been missing fully a week. His interest lay in them, and especially in
Jack. He had heard most of the facts from the mother, but he now
questioned her further in his gentle way until not a particle of
information was left for her to give.

The substance of that information has already been told the reader,--it
being nothing more than the statement of their departure early that
morning. The startling events which followed could not be suspected by
the parent, who sat so quietly knitting and talking with the remarkable
Indian youth on the other side of her hearthstone, as ignorant as she of
the alarming situation in which both were placed.

But while so quiet in his demeanor, the wonderful brain of the youth was
always busy during his waking hours. He could not feel that there was
cause for fear on account of his friends, for, as has already been
shown, that portion of the enormous territory of Louisiana was peopled
by Indians much less vicious in their hatred than were those who made
Kentucky their hunting-ground. A fierce party of Shawanoes had followed
the little party across the Mississippi the previous week, and they kept
matters moving in a very lively manner, as the reader learned long ago;
but it was not to be supposed that any of those daring and skillful
warriors were in the neighborhood, for it was not conceivable that a
cause existed for their presence.

But a singular distrust took possession of Deerfoot. He could not
account for it, except as he accounted for all inexplainable things, as
being the direct prompting of the Great Spirit. Many a time the
instinctive belief had come over him, and he had never failed to follow
its guidance; the result in each instance proved that he did right, and
he resolved to do the same in the present case, though it will be seen
that he could take no real step forward until the coming of daylight.

"You will stay here until morning," said Mrs. Carleton, looking into
the face of her visitor and speaking as though the matter was not at all
in the nature of a question.

"Deerfoot may stay awhile, though he would rather sleep in the woods,
where he can breathe the cool, pure air, and look at the stars, and
listen to the whispers of the Great Spirit who watches over him when he
is asleep or awake."

"You can sleep on Jack's bed, and he will be pleased, when he comes
home, to learn that you did so, though he will be sorry that he was not
here to make you welcome."

The Indian shook his head. He had no wish to lie on any such couch, and
he had not done so since he was wounded and a prisoner in the hands of
the white people.

"Deerfoot will sit here and read until he becomes weary; then he will
lie on the floor; and when he awakes he will seek his brothers who are
hunting for the horse that has long been lost."

Mrs. Carleton had been told by Jack how skillfully Deerfoot could read
and write, and she now ventured the hope that he would use the Bible
which lay on the table at the side of the cabin. She was on the point
of rising to get it for him, when he motioned her to keep her seat.

"Deerfoot has his Bible with him."

And then he drew the tiny volume with its wooden covers from the
interior pocket of his hunting-shirt, and shifted his position so that
his back was turned toward the fire, whose glow passed over his
shoulders and fell upon the printed page. This gave him all the light he
needed, and, after rustling the leaves for a moment, he began, in his
low, sweet monotone.

As may be supposed, he selected one of the chapters from Revelation,
overflowing as it does with the most impressive grandeur and
awe-inspiring glimpse of the mysterious life from whose portals no human
being has ever turned back to whisper to the vast procession waiting to
follow in his footsteps.

Mrs. Carleton saw that Deerfoot did not like her words of compliment and
she therefore refrained. When he had finished, he closed the book and
laid it away where he always carried it, and then the conversation went
on in the same vein as before.

But the hour was later than that to which the good lady was accustomed,
and, despite the singular interest of the interview, she began to feel a
slight drowsiness. When she placed her hand over her mouth and yawned,
Deerfoot asked that she should retire. She consented, and bade him
good-night and withdrew.

He sat motionless until he was alone, when he once more drew out his
Bible and resumed reading. The fire having smoldered, he stirred the
sticks, turning the unburned ends among the coals, so that in a few
moments the small room was filled with a brighter illumination than
before. Leaning backward with the book in front of his face and his
shapely legs extended in front, he studied with an interest more
absorbing than was ever felt by the most devout novel reader. He seemed
to lose all consciousness of time and place, and pored over the volume
which to him was more precious than any treasure it is possible for the
mind to conceive.

By-and-by the fire burned low again and the light grew dim. Though the
youth might have continued the perusal much longer, he finally ceased
and put the book away for the night. Then, folding his arms, he looked
into the smoldering embers before him. Every one knows how such a scene
feeds the fancy and how imagination will run riot, while sitting alone
late at night, with the wind moaning outside, while he watches the
curious, grotesque, and endless procession of figures which take shape
and action before him. No one but Deerfoot himself could tell what
thoughts took shape in his brain, but they must have been of a
melancholy, serious nature, for he drew a deep sigh, muttered a few
words in prayer, and then deliberately lay down in the middle of the
floor. He lay on his side, with his arm doubled under his head for a
pillow, but had nothing but the hard planking beneath and nothing except
his own clothing above.

Deerfoot required little sleep, and within less than two hours after he
had lain down, he opened his eyes and assumed the sitting position. The
fire had burned so low that only a slight glow filled a part of the
room, and he looked like some odd shadow, when he stepped silently
forward and stirred the embers until they once more lit up the
apartment. It was not yet morning, but he had concluded to wait no
longer. He therefore picked up his bow and then, without making the
least noise, opened and closed the door behind him.

The young Shawanoe stood for a moment when he found himself in the clear
air on the outside. It was a bright starlit night, and, when he glanced
reverently upward at the thousands of blazing orbs, he saw that it still
lacked two hours of daylight. The rude cabins were dimly outlined, as
they faced each other in two irregular rows, those only which were the
furthest away being invisible. All were dark and silent excepting one.
He noticed the gleam of light from the window, and thought it likely
that some one was watching by the bed of sickness; but the thought had
hardly come to him when he recalled that it was the cabin of the German
Relstaub, who had left him in such a rage.

Deerfoot was still in front of the house of his friend, when the door of
the cabin opened and the short, sturdy figure of Jacob Relstaub was
outlined against the blazing fire and candle-light behind him. The truth
was, he was so angered he could not sleep; he had tossed about until his
rage became ungovernable, when he told his frau that he was going over
to the widow Carleton's to chastise the rascally redskin that had dared
to insult him to his face. The wife sought to dissuade him, but he was
too angered to listen to reason; and, ordering her to stay in bed, he
dressed, caught up his heavy cane, and plunged from the door of his
home.

Deerfoot drew back until sure he could not be seen, when he calmly
awaited the approach of the irate man. The latter stamped forward,
banging his heavy cane on the ground and muttering to himself:

"Yaw, I preaks mine cane his head ofer--he talks to me--he calls me a
rascal und eferydings vot I vas. I shows him----"

Just then, when he was close to the cabin, a figure emerged from the
darkness, moving as silently as if it was a section of the gloom itself,
and advancing straight toward him. It was the execrated young Indian,
grasping his long bow in his right hand, and holding his tomahawk in his
left, with his body bent and his head thrust forward.

"Oh, mine gracious!" gasped Jacob Relstaub, his knees shaking and his
staff dropping from his trembling hand, "it ish him!"

He managed to twist his body around, so as to face the other way, and
then he broke into a lumbering run for his cabin. He heard the sound of
the swift moccasins behind him, and he ran as never before. His hat flew
off, and odd quirps and pains developed themselves here and there in his
frame, because of the unusual and violent exercise to which he subjected
himself; but he kept forward, believing it was his only hope.
Fortunately the run was brief, but when he reached the threshold he was
in the last stage of exhaustion. He could not lift his foot high enough,
and went sprawling headlong into the room, with a crash that startled
his wife almost out of her senses.

Deerfoot paused a moment surveying the wreck and ruin he had caused, and
then quietly shoved his tomahawk back in place. He had accomplished all
he wished, and was satisfied. His old shadowy smile lingered on his face
as he turned aside, and, making his way between the settlers' cabins,
disappeared in the woods.



CHAPTER IX.

BY THE CAMP-FIRE.


Jack Carleton cried in the bitterness of vexation and disappointment.
After his daring attempt to get away, and when hope was a-flutter within
him, he awoke to the fact that his captors were trifling with him. He
surveyed the array of gleaming visages, and was sure that the leader
indulged in a distinct wink and grotesque grimace, as expressive of his
views of the situation. Inasmuch as not one of the red men could utter a
syllable of English, perhaps it was as well that they should have
recourse to the sign language. Jack himself was humiliated beyond
expression. Finding he was discovered, he had risen to his feet and
faced his captors with the best grace he could, and that, it need not be
said, was scant indeed.

The Indians grinned and grimaced while they walked around the lad, as if
desirous of surveying him from different points. Jack dashed the tears
from his eyes, and, compressing his lips, braved it out. He expected
some indignity would be offered him, but there was none. This curious
scene lasted only a few minutes, when the Indians gave the youth to
understand that the journey westward was to be resumed. He was motioned
to go forward, and was glad enough to obey, for his saturated clothes
and his highly nervous condition set his teeth chattering and his body
shaking as if with the ague.

The afternoon was well along, and no great distance could be passed over
before night. Jack dreaded their arrival at the Indian village before
another halt. He was hopeful that in the stillness and darkness of night
he would gain a chance to steal away from his captors, while the chance
of doing so when with the tribe itself would be much more difficult.

In one respect the wish of the youth was gratified. The party tramped
along in Indian file, without the slightest pause, until the darkness
began stealing among the trees. There was but the single warrior in
front, the others following the lad. Suddenly the leader stooped down
and paused. He was so close to Jack that evidently he meant to fling
him over his shoulders, and the boy barely escaped such discomfiture.
The others grinned again, and then the party appeared to fall apart and
take different positions. Two vanished in the wood, while the others
began hastily gathering dead limbs and decayed leaves. It seemed to Jack
that less than three minutes had gone by when he saw the dim outlines of
one of the warriors on his knees, striking the flint and steel, such as
the pioneers, and, indeed, all persons, used in those days. The little
lines of sparks shot back and forth, as they do upon the swiftly
revolving emery wheel when the metal is pressed against it, and in a
twinkling a tiny blaze was creeping among the little pile of leaves
toward the top. The twist of flame darted in and out like the crimson
tongue of some serpent, until it reached the air above, and in a very
few minutes a roaring camp fire was under full headway.

Jack saw that it had been kindled against the shaggy bark of an oak
tree, which swept upward like a sealed chimney until lost in the gloom
above. The gleam of water a short distance off made known what he had
not suspected; a stream--only a few inches in depth and breadth--wound
by the spot, without giving forth the slightest ripple. Water, it may be
said, is indispensable to such an encampment, and a party of aborigines
scarcely ever halts at night without being near it.

As the glow of the fire spread, it fell upon the figures of the
warriors, who looked grim and uncanny. Jack folded his arms and stood in
the full glow, as though seeking a bath in the firelight. But for his
recent experience, he might have been tempted to make a dash for
liberty; but his clothing was still wet from that furious essay, and he
was clearly of the opinion that the only thing for him to do was to make
his captors believe (if it was possible) that he had given over all hope
of getting away. Could he lull their suspicion, it would be a most
important point accomplished; but the youth might well feel misgivings
on that point, for it presupposed a stupidity on the part of the Indians
contrary to what he knew concerning them.

It must not be thought that the boy believed he could make the warriors
think he was content to remain their prisoner; that would have been the
height of absurdity; but he did seek to convince them by his manner that
he had given up the intention of running away, because he knew the
attempt must be hopeless. Having failed so completely, he was not
foolish enough to repeat the essay, when he was likely to anger the
Indians to that point that they would punish him for it.

It will be understood, therefore, why Jack Carleton remained standing
with folded arms, while his captors were busying themselves around him.
He looked at the flames as they crept up against the bark and scorched
the rough coat of the massive oak, and he noted more than one furtive
glance cast toward him. He pretended to see them not, but stood gloomy,
sorrowful, and despairing.

Suddenly the dull crack of a rifle rang out, and Jack started. His first
impression was that a party of white men or Indians had attacked them,
but when he noticed the indifference of those around, he saw his
mistake. They did not so much as look to the right or left, nor make any
remark to each other. Evidently they expected something of the kind.

Within the space of five minutes, the two warriors who had left a short
time before, reappeared. The foremost carried his rifle at a trail and
had no game, but his companion, directly behind him, held by the feet a
large wild gobbler, shot but a short time previous.

Jack Carleton could not but wonder how it was this dusky hunter was able
to secure the bird on such short notice. The turkeys, at the time he
started to look for them, must have all gone to roost among the trees.
The gloom was such that it was almost impossible for the keenest eye to
distinguish them. They may have given some evidence of their presence,
but Jack was surprised over the success of the red men in obtaining
supper before, as may be said, the fire could be made ready to roast it.

"Otto and I have hunted for hours in Kentucky where the game is as
abundant as it is here, and we were not able to gain the first shot at
any sort of game. There must be some secret about this performance which
I don't understand, though Deerfoot, with his bow and arrow, never
failed to meet with the same success."

The American Indian is by no means fastidious in his tastes, and the
manner in which they handled the game would hardly have satisfied a
party of modern hunters. Sometimes the red man half cooks his bird
without bothering himself with plucking out the feathers, and again he
doesn't take the trouble even to scorch his food. In the present
instance, they ripped off the principal part of the feathers, removed
the interior, and cutting the framework into several sections, laid them
directly on the coals that were spread out to receive them.

They began the broiling or scorching operation at once, and the smell of
the burning meat was of the most appetizing nature. Jack caught a sniff
and it literally made his "mouth water," for despite his unpleasant
situation, his appetite was such as every person in vigorous health is
certain to feel at regular intervals.

"I wonder whether they mean to slight me," he suddenly asked himself
with a feeling of dismay; "if they do, I don't know what will become of
me, for I'm sure I never was so a-hungered in all my life."

But I hasten to say that the disaster which the prisoner feared did not
come to him. Although the bird was unusually large, two or three of the
warriors could have devoured it with ease. As it was, therefore, it
afforded rather scant rations to the company, but Jack Carleton was
remembered and received a juicy slice of the game, which could not have
tasted better had it been hung up in the cold for a week and then cooked
by his mother. Ah, what art shall ever furnish a sauce like that of
hunger itself! The meal finished, the party disposed of themselves for
the night. Their red clay pipes, with the long reeds for stems, were
produced, filled with tobacco and lit from the fire in front of them.
The blankets--which were anything but clean--were spread out on the
ground and their owners assumed all sorts of lazy attitudes, puffed
their pipes, and occasionally grunted a few words to each other.

As Jack had no blanket of his own he reclined on the leaves, which were
comfortable as he could wish. He took pains to place himself as near the
camp fire as he could bear, so as to show his captors he did not mean to
attempt to get away.

Several times during the march and while at supper, Jack heard the
leader addressed, as he believed, by name. He could not catch the
precise word, but it sounded, as nearly as he could tell, like
"Ogallah," which of itself resembles the name of a tribe of western
Indians.

Jack waited till he had heard it again, and then, from the manner in
which it was spoken, he was convinced it was the real name of the leader
of the party,--that is as near as he could pronounce it.

By and by there came a lull in the disjointed conversation; the indolent
red men were lolling on their blankets, and the leader was sitting
cross-legged like a Turk, sending rings of smoke upward and watching
them as they curled inward upon themselves and climbed out of sight. The
dimensions of his mouth were that ample that he could have done the same
on either side of the stem without removing it from between his teeth.

Jack Carleton looked straight at him for a few seconds, and then,
imitating the guttural style of those around as best he could,
pronounced in a distinct voice the single word--

"_Ogallah!_"

At that moment the chin of the chief was in the air and a procession of
rings were tumbling over each other as they hastened from between his
lips. He dropped his head as abruptly as if some one had struck him in
the throat, and with his mouth still in circular shape allowed the rings
to go to ruin, while he stared in amazement at the boy who had
pronounced his name. The others showed as much wonder as did the
chieftain. They also stared at the lad and then gave expressions to
their feelings in their guttural, grunting fashion.

It was quite embarrassing to Jack Carleton, who blushed, looked
confused, and then tried hard to appear as though he did not feel
specially proud over his performance. The leader addressed some words to
him, as if suspecting he understood his language after all, but Jack
could only smile and shake his head to signify that he had already
exhibited his full proficiency in the tongue of his captors.



CHAPTER X.

WAITING AND HOPING.


It would be hard to measure the effect of the little achievement of Jack
Carleton upon the Indians who held him captive. He had pronounced the
name of the chieftain with such clearness that every one recognized it.
After all it was no great exploit, and it may have been the red men
feigned a goodly portion of the astonishment they seemed to feel.

Jack did not make any more essays in that direction, and a few minutes
later the vagabonds gave their principal attention to their pipes. One
of them gathered an armful of brush and flung it on the fire; and
another, rising to his feet, turned his back toward the blaze with his
hands together behind him, as though the warmth was very pleasant. While
he stood thus, he held the stem of his pipe in his mouth and looked
absently at the boy, who could not see the face of the red man with much
distinctness, as it was in shadow.

The fuel just thrown on the flames increased the warmth to such a degree
that those who were the nearest shifted their position. The warrior who
was on his feet stepped forward a single pace, and was still standing in
his idle fashion with his hands half folded behind him, when a spark
flew outward with a snap, and dropped down the neck of the unsuspicious
red man. When he felt the burn, like the thrust of a big needle, he
sprang several feet in the air, and began frantically clutching at the
tormenting substance. The second or third attempt secured the spark,
which clung to his hand, burning his fingers to that extent that he
emitted a rasping exclamation, bounded upward, and by a particularly
vigorous flirt of his hand freed it of the spark, which then expired of
itself.

As I have said, no man has less humor in his composition than the North
American Indian, and yet it is not by any means lacking in him. It
assumes odd forms at times, and too often seems based on the physical
suffering of some person or animal; but in the instance of which I am
speaking, every one of the spectators was filled with mirth. The
laughter shook them from head to foot, though with all its vigor it
could not have been heard fifty feet away.

Jack Carleton had been so long depressed that something like a reaction
came over him. He threw his head back and the woods rang with his hearty
mirth as they never rang before. If there was any one else within half a
mile, he must have wondered what all the uproar meant.

The cause of this amusement conducted himself very much like a civilized
being. When he had rubbed the blistered spot on the back of his neck
with the scorched hand, he glared angrily at the others, as if he saw no
adequate cause for the unusual mirth; then when it broke out afresh, he
made a weak attempt to join in, but failing to do so, he sullenly seated
himself on the ground and looked as glum as a man meditating some wicked
deed.

All at once, he turned toward Jack Carleton with such a fierce scowl
that the boy was sobered. He believed with reason that the Indian was
ready to leap upon him with his knife, punishing him in that dreadful
manner for the provocation he felt toward the rest.

"I guess I have laughed enough," was the prudent thought of the boy,
who straightway tried to look as if he sympathized with the red man for
his slight misfortune.

Jack could not tell how well he succeeded in imparting a pitying
expression to his countenance, but all disposition to laugh at the
warrior's mishap had departed, and it is not improbable that the youth
owed his life to the fact.

Although the overflowing mirth soon ended, there were a number of smiles
on the faces of the warriors for a long time afterward, doubtless caused
by the remembrance of the laughable performance earlier in the evening.

As the halt was for the night, the boy could hardly suppress his
curiosity to see what shape matters would take. His strong hope was that
he would be allowed to lie where he then sat, and that none of the
warriors would arrange it so he could not change his position without
awaking him.

It looked as if the prayer of Jack was to be granted. More wood was
thrown on the fire, and the Indians took but a brief time to dispose
themselves for slumber. The pipes were laid away, their guns examined,
and each placed his weapon alongside of him, as though it was his
intimate friend, from whose body he expected to obtain the warmth to
keep him comfortable through the night. The savage who held Jack's gun
was the only silent and reserved member of the party. The boy had heard
him utter less than half a dozen words since the journey began. He was
shorter and more squatty than the others, and his whole aim in life
appeared to be a desire to please Ogallah, their chief. During the
hilarity that reigned a short time before, he had grinned at his
companion, but his mirth was less hearty than that of the rest.

The blankets were spread out on the leaves to their fullest extent, and
then the warriors lay down, with their backs against each other and
their moccasins pointing toward the fire. Then the covering was gathered
up in front of each and flung over behind, where the folds interlapped,
all that remained visible being a part of the black hair and the
feathers in the crowns of the warriors, who seemed to find not the least
difficulty in breathing with their heads swathed and bandaged up like a
wounded limb.

Two couples were thus formed, who were separated by the space of six or
eight feet, while a rod beyond burned the camp-fire against the shaggy
trunk of the oak. The intervening area and some distance away was
lighted by the flames which had eaten into the bark, until the solid
wood beneath was charred and blackened by the heat. Ogallah, the chief,
strode to a point midway between the fire and the couples, flung his
blanket on the ground, and, pointing down to it, motioned to Jack
Carleton to come forward and use it for his couch.

This was not the most agreeable order to receive, but it might have been
much worse, and he obeyed with a readiness that looked genuine, though
it could not have been entirely so. Jack nodded to the chief, as he took
his seat and gathered the heavy folds around him, lay down on his right
side, with his face toward the fire. Ogallah looked at the lad, whose
knees almost touched his chin, and muttering to himself, walked back to
the oak and sat with his back against it, his feet close to his body and
his arms folded in front.

The chief was about one-fourth of the way around the oak from the
camp-fire, so that the light revealed his entire left side, and his not
very attractive profile, the whole being thrown against the blank
darkness beyond, which shut the rest of his body from view. This
proceeding indicated that Ogallah meant to act the part of sentinel
while his warriors slept. He did not require the blanket, as would have
been the case had he lain down to slumber, and he was magnanimous
enough, therefore, to turn it over the captive, who would have been as
well pleased never to touch it.

It cannot be supposed that the sachem and his warriors were in any fear
of disturbance during the darkness, for they were in a country with
which they were familiar, and they knew no dangerous enemies were within
many miles of them. Had they met a party belonging to another tribe,
more than likely the two, as a matter of principle, would have fallen
upon each other like so many tigers; but none of their own race was
hunting for them, and the white settlers were altogether out of the
question. But the possibility of peril--remote though it might
be--always hangs over the hunter, as indeed it does over us all, and the
red men had no thought of trusting themselves to slumber without one of
their number standing guard over the rest.

Sleep is so insidious in its approach that the sentry, as a usual thing,
can only fight it off by incessant action. So long as he paces back and
forth, his senses stay with him, but when he sits down a minute or so to
rest, unconsciousness is sure to come. But Ogallah would not have
assumed the easy position had he not felt sure of his self-control. It
will be perceived that he had so placed himself that he had a perfect
view of the camp, while he could see all that was possible of the
surrounding gloom. If required, he could use the oak as a shield, and
only a slight signal was needed on his part to rouse the sleeping
warriors to instant wakefulness.

"Now, if he keeps awake," thought Jack Carleton, peeping through the
folds of his blanket with his half-closed eyes, "it don't look as though
there will be much chance for me, but if he drops into a doze I may slip
off, and I won't need much of a start to get away from him."

The most natural query would be as to which was more likely to fall
asleep--the Indian or the boy. Ordinarily a youngster like Jack would
have been no match for the warrior, who had been trained to privation,
suffering, hardship, self-denial and watchfulness from his earliest
infancy; but it need not be said that the state of one's mind has
everything to do with his ability to slumber and secure rest therefrom.
Ogallah was mentally quiet; he had gone through a severe tramp, but no
more so than had been the case hundreds of times, and he was accustomed
to sleep at that hour. Such was the case also with Jack Carleton, but he
was in a fever of hope and nervousness, which made it hard for him to
hold his eyes partly closed in his effort to counterfeit
unconsciousness. It was accepted as a matter of course that the four
warriors who were lying down would speedily glide into the land of
dreams, since such was their wish. Slight as is the noise which is
sufficient to rouse a sleeping Indian, young Carleton would have felt no
misgiving respecting those so near him; it was Ogallah, the sentinel
chieftain, whom he feared.

"If he suspects that I mean to try something of the kind," was the
conclusion of Jack, "he will not close his eyes any longer than to wink.
But I'll watch him."

This task which the boy set himself was of the most trying nature. Had
his mind been composed he would have fallen asleep within five minutes,
but he was never more wide awake in all his life than he was two hours
after he had lain down with the Indian blanket wrapped about him, and
his face toward the camp-fire.

During that period, so far as he was able to see, the Indian had not
moved so much as a muscle, and Jack himself had done very little more.
Lying on his right side, with his arm doubled under him for a pillow,
the cumbrous blanket enclosing him from head to foot, an irregular
opening in front of his face allowed him to peer through the folds at
the camp-fire, the oak, and the chieftain. The last still sat leaning
slightly backward, with his shoulders against the trunk, his arms folded
over his knees, while he seemed to be gazing off into vacancy. The heels
of his moccasins remained close against the thighs, so that the form of
the Indian bore quite a resemblance to the letter N.

The flickering light from the camp-fire disclosed as it did at first,
the side and profile of the chieftain. Gradually the flames sank lower
and there came moments when the sentinel was scarcely visible. Then,
all at once, the fire would flare up for a few seconds and the figure
would be in brighter relief than before. Again the eyes of Jack would
rebel against the extreme tension to which they were subjected. The
Indian, instead of remaining with his back against the oak, would seem
to be hitching forward and upward in the most grotesque fashion. After
bumping about in the air for a time, he would sink, still bumping, to
the ground, where he would hitch backward to his place by the tree. Then
the latter, instead of standing as motionless as a rock, showed signs of
restlessness. It would begin by swaying back and forth until it too was
waltzing in an unearthly fashion around the camp-fire. Again the
surrounding gloom became studded with blinking stars, ogres and the most
grotesque figures, which performed in an indescribable fashion. Darkness
and light alternated, until the boy feared he was losing the power of
vision altogether; but it will be understood that this was the natural
protest of the eye against the painful and long continued strain to
which it was subjected.



CHAPTER XI.

THROUGH THE FOREST.


Jack Carleton occasionally gave his eyes fitful rest by holding them
closed for a few moments, but the tantalizing visions did not leave him
even then. His arm became so painfully cramped under his head that he
was compelled to shift his position; and he seized the occasion to
readjust his limbs, which were also becoming wearied because of the long
time he had held them motionless. He was prudent enough, however, to
give the whole movement the seeming of a natural action done in sleep.
He flung himself about for a few seconds, and then rolled back almost in
the same posture, apparently resuming his heavy slumber.

But through the half closed eyelids, on which the dull glow of the
camp-fire fell, he was peering at the faint outlines of the figure
against the oak. He was sure Ogallah would start and rise to his feet,
ready to check any steps on the part of the captive looking toward
flight.

But not the slightest stir was made, and the astonished lad, with a
painful throb of his heart, said to himself:

"He is asleep! Now is my chance!"

It seemed to be too good to be true, and yet it certainly had that
appearance. For some time past, Jack had known from the regular
breathing of the figures near him that the couples wrapped up in their
blankets were unconscious. Certainly there could be no doubt about the
one who had been burned by the spark of fire, for he snored amain, like
the "seven sleepers."

It is at such times that one's senses are wonderfully acute, and Jack
Carleton not only saw but heard with unusual keenness. With his ear
close to, but not touching the ground, he distinctly caught a rippling
sound in the streamlet which flowed so near. The fact that he heard it
was proof that it was caused by some "foreign interference," since it
was entirely different from the slight rippling noise along the banks.

The first thought of Jack was that it was Deerfoot come to his rescue,
and he could not but think how completely he would be master of the
situation, should he suddenly rise to his feet in front of Ogallah and
give him to understand he was not to move or speak; but a second thought
destroyed the hope. It was exceedingly improbable that the young
Shawanoe was within a score of miles, but while it was possible that he
might be hunting somewhere in the forest, it was incredible that he
would have betrayed his presence near camp in the manner named.

Jack had barely reached this correct conclusion, when, peering at the
figure of Ogallah, as it was faintly shown, he caught the gleam of the
eyes of a wild beast just beyond, and in a direct line with the chief.
The eyes were large, round and quite close together, with that
phosphorescent, flickering glow often shown by animals when the light is
faint.

"_That_ will settle the question whether Ogallah is asleep or not," said
the boy, watching with an intensity of interest which cannot be
described.

Whatever the nature of the animal, he was evidently on a reconnaissance,
and had no purpose of venturing closer until satisfied the path was
clear to do so. It must have been that he cared very little one way or
the other, for while the two orbs were glaring upon Jack, they vanished
with a suddenness that suggested that some one had seized his tail and
flung him back into the gloom from which he first emerged.

It was incredible, too, that the chief should have sat quiet and
motionless with a wild beast so near him, unless he was asleep, but the
possibility of being mistaken after all, kept Jack from stirring for
fully a half hour longer.

The time seemed much later than it really was, when the boy rose on his
elbow and hesitated, while he looked intently around and listened for
the slightest sound. He glanced right and left at the figures shrouded
in the blankets, but they might have been so many dead men. He could
barely discern their outlines in the gloom, for the fire was slowly, but
steadily, sinking. Several times he had asked himself whether it would
not be wise to wait until it died out altogether, but he was too
strongly convinced that the night was nearly gone, and he would need
every minute in which to widen the distance between him and his
pursuers.

"No," he murmured, "it won't do to wait another second."

He was on one knee, with his hand pressing the ground, when the largest
stick on the fire burned in two in the middle, and the larger portion
rolled back and in front of the chief. The disturbance caused it to
flare up for the moment with a glare which revealed the figure of
Ogallah more distinctly than at any time since he had taken his
position.

Jack Carleton paused in his painful movement and became like a figure
cut in marble, staring straight at the warrior brought into such
unexpected prominence. As he did so, he saw that Ogallah was not only
wide awake, but had turned his head, and was looking straight at him.
The cunning fellow had not slept a wink from the moment he took his
singular position. He had noted the wolf which ventured close enough to
take a peep into camp, but, well aware that there was no danger, and
convinced also that his captive was awaiting the chance to steal away,
he held himself as rigid as iron until such an attempt should be made.

Poor Jack almost fainted in a collapse of despair. He saw that his
captors had trifled with him from the beginning, and with a sigh of
utter wretchedness, he dropped back on the ground, feeling that it was
worse than useless for him to expect or hope to outwit those cunning
children of the forest.

Reaction followed, and the lad speedily sank into a deep slumber which
lasted until the sun had risen and the party had broken camp and were
ready to resume their journey. Even then it was necessary for Ogallah to
thrust his moccasin against him before he opened his eyes and stared
confusedly around. The sight of the warriors who stood ready to move,
recalled Jack to his hapless situation. He rubbed his eyes, and sprang
to his feet, and walking to the streamlet lay down, took a draught of
the cool, refreshing water in which he bathed his face, wiping it off
with his handkerchief, and then turned about to signify that he awaited
orders.

He wondered that no signs of breakfast were to be seen, and at first
suspected that his captors had partaken while he slept, but afterward
concluded that like all their people they were anything but regular in
their meals, especially when on the tramp.

Without any ceremony, the journey was taken up, Ogallah again walking at
the head, with the other four at the rear of the boy. They adopted their
favorite custom of walking in Indian file, each warrior stepping in the
tracks of the one in front. Jack was wise enough to adhere to the
practice, so that had any one sought to follow the party, he would have
noted but the single trail, though a skilled red or white man would have
been quick to discover the precise number of the company.

"We have traveled a good many miles since yesterday noon," thought Jack,
"and it must be that we are not far from the Indian village. If that is
so, it won't do for me to make any other attempt to run away. Ogallah
knows I am anxious to go, for he saw me try it twice, and he will take
good care that I don't try it again."

Still, while taking this sensible view of the matter, Jack Carleton
compressed his lips with the resolution that he would not throw away a
single chance. If it should prove that many miles still lay before them
and that several nights were to be spent on the road, he meant to do his
utmost to give his captors the slip.

The journey assumed the most monotonous character. It was simply tramp,
tramp, without the least rest or variation. Jack was sure he had never
seen such sameness in the forest, lasting mile after mile. There were
the towering trees, their leafy branches interlocked overhead, the same
array of shaggy columns of bark, spreading limbs and sparse undergrowth.
Sometimes Ogallah would step so rapidly that a branch which he brushed
from his path would swing back and switch the lad in the face, and once
or twice a running vine would be uprooted by a vigorous fling or kick of
the foot.

But all this time the squat figure of the chief advanced like a machine.
Jack noticed the swing of the muscular arms, the play of the legs and
the occasional slight turning or ducking of the head. The straggling
black hair, with the painted eagle feathers drooping like the plume of a
lady's hat, the blanket slung loosely over the shoulders, the fringed
hunting shirt and leggings, the faded moccasins, so soft that they
spread out of all manner of shape when the weight of the body rested on
them:--all these and much more were impressed upon the mind of the boy
with a distinctness that he was certain would last him all through life.

"My gracious!" thought he, "they have come from a long distance; what
could have taken them down near Martinsville and so near the
Mississippi? I wonder whether it is possible the tribes who live on this
side the river ever cross over to look at the country on the other
shore. It would not be strange if they did so, but it don't seem like an
Indian to do that sort of thing. Can it be these warriors have their
hunting grounds away out toward the Rocky Mountains? If so, I shall have
a fine time in finding my way back home."

The youth did not allow himself to consider the possibility that he
would never have the chance to attempt the journey. The shuddering fear
which first took hold of him was gone. Closely as the captors guarded
him, he was persuaded they meant to inflict no personal harm--at least
while on their way through the woods.

It was a serious question indeed as to what would be his treatment after
reaching the Indian settlement. The American race is cruel, treacherous,
and revengeful, and though the red men frequently hold prisoners for
months and years, they more frequently subject them to torture and
death. It will be understood, therefore, why Jack Carleton was so
anxious to make his escape from the party before they could arrive home.

Present discomforts often drive away future horrors, and, by the time
the sun was overhead, Jack gave his principal thought to one thing--the
question of food. He was a-hungered, and viewed with a mental groan the
prospect of keeping on the march until sunset, before securing anything
to eat.

"I have gone a full day many a time without food," he said, as he
tramped along, "but it seems to me I never was as ravenous as now. I
believe I could eat a pair of boiled moccasins, that is, if they had
never been in use."

He was ashamed of his weakness, and resolutely refrained from giving any
evidence of his suffering, but when he detected the pale green foliage
of the fragrant birch, he ventured to step out of the trail, break off a
branch and chew the bark, thus securing temporary relief from the
gnawing discomfort.

High noon came, but no halt had been made. The lad had left the trail
several times, and the warriors themselves were more careless about
their own footsteps, but seemed to have no desire to partake of food.

The first shock of surprise came when the party suddenly emerged from
the woods and paused on the bank of a deep, swift stream, fully a
hundred yards wide. The current, like the smaller one, was yellow and
roiled, and the boy looked upon it with a feeling akin to dismay.
Recalling the indignity to which he had been subjected earlier in the
day, he dreaded trusting himself in the water again.

"_This_ time they may take it into their heads to drown me," was his
thought.

But his nerves were not subjected to the trial. Nothing showed more
clearly the wonderful woodcraft of the Indians than the fact that, after
journeying many long leagues through the wilderness, without the
slightest trail to guide them, they struck the stream within a hundred
yards of the point at which they aimed from the first.

This was proven by the action of the warriors themselves. After talking
together for a few minutes, two of them walked a short distance up the
bank and drew a large canoe from under the shore, where they had left it
when journeying in the other direction.



CHAPTER XII.

THE SIGNAL FIRES.


The canoe was made of bark, with the ends turned up in the usual
fashion. Two long paddles belonging to it lay within, and were taken by
the warriors, who paddled it down to where the party were in waiting.
All stepped carefully inside, and the same Indians who brought it from
its hiding place turned the prow toward the other shore and began
swinging the paddles with the freedom and vigor peculiar to their
people. Jack was the last to seat himself, and he held fast as best he
could, dreading some of the rude jokes of his captors.

When all were in position, and the craft began moving, great care was
necessary, for it sank to the gunwales, and a slight disturbance would
be enough to overturn the frail boat. Although Jack feared such an
occurrence, yet the Indians themselves were no more desirous it should
take place than was he.

He naturally fixed his eyes on the line of warriors seated in front of
him. All faced the shore they were approaching, and the couple using the
paddles dipped first one end on the right and the other end on the left
of the canoe. They put forth little exertion. Had they chosen to do so,
they could have tripled the speed, though most likely an upset would
have been the consequence.

The middle of the stream was not reached, when a small fish leaped out
of the water in front and fell back again. Ogallah uttered an
exclamation, and, reaching his hand over the side of the boat, held it
several inches under the surface. The two Indians not using the paddles
did the same, just as a party of young people will do when taking a
pleasure sail over some calm lake.

Suddenly Ogallah gave a quick flirt of the submerged hand, flinging the
sparkling water over all. Something flashed in the sunlight, and a plump
fish, weighing fully a pound, dropped into the canoe. Almost immediately
the other two warriors did the same, one of them securing a prize
weighing as much as both the others. The fact was, the boat was passing
through something like a school of fish, and the red men found no
difficulty in capturing a number.

"That looks like dinner," thought Jack with a chuckle, as he also dipped
his hand to grope for the finny delicacies. He had less than a minute to
wait when something cold and smooth touched his fingers. He made a
desperate clutch, sinking his arm to his elbow, but the fish was too
quick, and darted beyond his reach, just as Ogallah landed another
tempting one.

Several more were taken, but Jack could not succeed in closing his
fingers quickly enough to keep the fish from slipping away. By the time
the other side of the stream was reached, a good supply had been
secured, and the boy forgot his sorrow in the pleasure of anticipating
that his hunger would be fully satisfied.

Happily he was not disappointed in this respect, for, while the oarsmen
were drawing the boat out of the water, the others were preparing the
fire with which to cook the fish, that were speedily dressed. They were
the "white" species common in the west, and when browned to a juicy
crisp, formed as luscious a meal as any epicure could ask. Best of all,
there was an abundance, and Jack Carleton ate until he wanted no more.

Having tramped so many miles since the rising of the sun, Ogallah and
his warriors were disposed to enjoy a good rest.

Their pipes were relighted and they lolled about in the same lazy
fashion, paying no special heed to Jack, who knew the unwisdom of making
any effort to get away.

All this convinced the boy that the party had still a considerable
distance to travel. Had they been in the neighborhood of their village,
they would have pushed on without stopping. At any rate, they would not
have paused to kindle the camp-fire and to cook a meal at mid-day.

"It must be," Jack said to himself, with several nods of his head, "that
we are to spend another night on the road: if that is so, I'll make a
break if I have to suffer for it."

These were vaunting words, but he was in earnest. Except for the hope
thus renewed within him, the youth would have given way to the
drowsiness which became quite common with the rest, but a line of
speculation was started which kept his mind occupied during the full
hour the party dawdled about the camp-fire.

At the end of the time named, the ashes were knocked from the pipes,
several stretched their limbs and yawned, and the sullen-faced warrior
who had been taking care of Jack's rifle, passed it back to him with
some surly word, which most likely meant that thereafter the captive
should bear his own burdens. The boy was glad enough to regain his
weapon, but he smiled when he observed that it had no charge in it. His
captors were determined not to put temptation in his way.

It took the company a considerable time to "shake themselves together."
They straggled and kept irregular step, and finally, when they began
ascending a slope, where the ground was much broken and covered with
stones, they gave it up altogether. The ascent continued until they
found themselves on an elevation several hundred feet high, and so
devoid of vegetation that a view was gained which covered an area of
hundreds of square miles in every direction.

Standing on this lookout, as it may be called, the Indians devoted a
number of minutes to such survey. No employment just then could be more
entertaining, and Jack Carleton adopted it.

The scene was too similar to those with which the reader of these pages
has become familiar to need any lengthened reference in this place. It
was green, billowy forest in every direction. Here and there a stream
wound like a silver ribbon through the emerald wilderness, sometimes
gleaming in the sunlight, and then disappearing among the vegetation, to
reappear miles away, and finally to vanish from sight altogether as it
wound its way toward the Gulf. At remote points the trained eye could
detect the thin, wavy column of vapor motionless against the sky, a mute
witness that beings other than those on the hill were stealing through
the vast solitude in their quest for game or prey.

Inasmuch as Jack Carleton readily detected these "signs," as the hunter
terms them, it followed they must have been noted by the Indians
themselves; but they gave no evidence of any excitement on that account.
It was natural that such evidences of the presence of other persons in
the immense territory should present themselves.

But the youth failed to find that for which he specially looked.
Observing the chieftain gazing earnestly toward the west, he did the
same, expecting to catch sight of the Indian village where Ogallah and
his warriors made their home. He descried a wooded ridge stretching
across his field of vision, but not the first resemblance to village or
wigwam could be discovered.

"He is not looking for _that_," thought Jack, "but is expecting some
signal which will appear on the ridge."

One of the other Indians was peering with equal intentness at the same
point, but the minutes passed and nothing presented itself. Jack joined
in the scrutiny, but he could not succeed where they failed.

All at once the sachem seemed to lose patience. He said some vigorous
things, accompanied by equally vigorous gestures, and then the whole
party began hastily gathering wood. In a short while this was kindled
and burning strongly. When the flames were fairly going, one of the
warriors who had collected several handfuls of damp leaves by digging
under the dry ones, dropped them carefully on the blaze. It looked at
first as if the fire would be put out, but it struggled upward, and
by-and-by a column of dense black smoke stained the sky like the smutty
finger of some giant tracing a wavy line across it.

[Illustration: THE SIGNAL]

Then Ogallah and one of his men held his blanket spread out so as almost
to force the thick smoke to the ground, but such was not their purpose.
The blanket was abruptly lifted, then swayed in a peculiar fashion, the
two moving in perfect unison, without speaking, and repeating their
pantomime with the regularity of machinery, for the space of fully ten
minutes.

The results were singular. The inky column of vapor was broken into a
number of sections, as may be said, so that when viewed from a distance
the figure was that of a black broad band of enormous height, separated
by belts of colorless air into a dozen pieces or divisions, the upper
ones gradually melting into nothingness. Besides this, so deftly had the
red men manipulated the fire and blanket, that these divisions showed a
peculiar wavy appearance, which would have excited wondering remark, no
matter by whom seen.

"It is a signal to some one on the ridge yonder," was the conclusion of
Jack, who watched the proceeding with much interest.

Having finished, Ogallah and the warrior threw the blanket on the
ground, and the whole five gazed at the ridge miles away. For a time
perfect silence reigned, and then one of the dusky watchers uttered an
exclamation, to which the chief responded with a grunt.

While scanning the distant ridge, Jack detected a black brush of vapor
climbing slowly above the trees. It broke clean off, and as it went on
upward, was inclosed by clear air on all sides. But it was not long
before a second, third, fourth, and fifth appeared. Parties were
answering the signal of the chief in precisely the same manner that he
made it. The only difference was in the number, of which there were only
the five. Those, however, were sufficient, as the parties making it were
well aware.

This aboriginal system of telegraphy, which has been in use from time
immemorial, is still a favorite means of communication among the Indians
of the West. More than once the news of the signing of some important
treaty, or the war movement of tribes, has been flashed by means of
signal fires from mountain top to mountain top over a distance of
hundreds of miles.

The information given by the answering signal fire was satisfactory to
the chief Ogallah, who resumed the journey at a leisurely pace, making
no effort to walk in the close Indian file that he and his warriors did
when further away from home.

"If we reach the village before going into camp," concluded Jack, "we
must keep moving until after dark. The sun is setting and the ridge is
still a good ways off."

It soon became manifest that the red men had no purpose of tiring
themselves by walking. They were at the base of the ridge when they came
upon a small stream which dashed down the mountain side with a musical
plash, forming currents, eddies, and cascades, while in the depths of
some pebbly pool it was as silent and clear as liquid mountain air.

The afternoon was more sultry than the early portion of the day, and
every member of the company quaffed his fill from the refreshing
element. Jack's heart gave a great bound of hope when he saw that
Ogallah meant to spend the night there. He was strongly convinced that
he would gain an opportunity to steal away during the darkness, which
promised to be denser than on the previous night. Although the day had
been clear and beautiful, yet the clouds gathered after the sun went
down, and there were signs of a storm. Low mutterings of distant thunder
and the fitful flashes of lightning showed the interchange of
electricity between the earth and sky, though it might not develop to
any great extent for many hours to come.

No hunt was made for game, and after the abundant meal earlier in the
day, Jack could not complain if compelled to fast until morning. A fire
was kindled precisely as before, a sturdy oak forming the background,
while the others lolled around it and smoked their long-stemmed pipes.

When Jack Carleton was invited to retire to his couch by the sullen
warrior, he obeyed as though pleased with the prospect of a full night's
rest. Ogallah stretched out with one of his men, while the ill-tempered
member sat down with his back against the tree, as though desirous of
imitating his leader in every respect.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE INDIAN VILLAGE.


"There's one thing certain," said Jack Carleton to himself, as he
gathered the Indian blanket around his shoulders, like one lying down to
pleasant dreams, "I can keep awake a good deal more easily than I did
last night. I'm pretty tired, but I slept so much toward morning that it
will be no trouble to go twenty-four hours without any more."

The temperature was milder than at that time, so that the lad found the
thick blanket uncomfortably warm when wrapped closely around him. He
flung out his feet and arms as a child often does with its bed
coverings, and adjusted his body so as to keep his eye on the sentinel,
without (as the captive believed) any suspicion of his intention.

The other couples sank into refreshing slumber within a few minutes
after lying down, and it certainly was singular that the warrior who
sat half revealed, with his back against the tree, should have
continued as motionless as did the chief Ogallah the evening before. It
was impossible that two scenes should resemble each other more closely
than those named.

"I don't believe he can keep it up as long as the old fellow did. If he
tries it, he will be dreaming, and when he and the rest awake, they will
find I am miles off and going with might and main for home. My gracious!
but I shall have a long distance to travel, and it will be hard work to
keep out of their way."

Fixing his eyes on the form as it was shown by the flickering camp-fire,
Jack prepared to watch with more patience than he showed in the former
instance. The sound of the splashing brook and the soft stirring of the
night wind were soothing to the tired boy. By-and-by his eyelids
drooped, then closed, and his senses passed from him. Never was he sunk
in sounder sleep.

Nothing occurred to disturb him, and he slept hour after hour, never
opening his eyes until it was broad daylight and Ogallah and his
warriors were astir.

Jack was chagrined beyond expression when he found what he had done,
or, rather, what he had failed to do. The opportunity for which he had
sighed so long had slipped irrevocably from his grasp. So convinced was
he of this fact that he gave over all thought of escape while on the
journey.

"The Indian village can't be far off, and I must now go ahead and take
my chances. But this is getting tiresome."

The last remark referred to the absence of any preparations for
breakfast. He had made no complaint the evening before, but it was a
hardship to continue his fast. Inasmuch, however, as there was no help
for it, he submitted without a murmur.

There was now no pretence of treading in each other's footsteps, but the
party straggled up the ridge like a lot of weary pedestrians. No one
seemed to pay any attention to the single captive, most likely because
there was no call to do so. He might desire to make a break for liberty,
but he could not go further than they were willing to permit.

The top of the ridge was marked by a bare spot, where some charred
sticks showed a fire had been recently kindled. There could be no doubt
that it was there the answering signal had been made to the call of
Ogallah.

But looking down the western slope of the ridge, Jack Carleton's eyes
rested on a scene more interesting than any that had met his gaze since
leaving home. Less than a mile off, close to the shore of a winding
stream and in the middle of a partially cleared space, stood the Indian
village toward which his footsteps had been tending for nearly two days,
and where he was likely to spend an indefinite captivity.

The stream was perhaps a hundred feet in width. It shone brightly in the
morning sun, and the current was clearer than that of the river crossed
the day before. It wound its way westward as far as the eye could follow
it, flowing into a tributary of the Osage, thence to the Missouri, and
so on to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Indian village numbered between twenty and thirty lodges, wigwams or
dwellings as they may be called. Some of them were made of bison and
deer skins, and were of irregular, conical shape; others were mere huts,
covered with grass, leaves, limbs and dirt, while one or two were
mainly composed of stones piled in the form of rude walls and roofed in
the rude fashion described.

These primitive structures were scattered irregularly over a space of
half an acre, which might be called a clearing, inasmuch as only a few
stumps and broken trees were to be seen. But nothing in the way of corn
or vegetables was growing, and the air of dilapidation, untidiness and
squalor pervading the whole scene, was characteristic of the race, and
was that which robs it of the romance which in the minds of many
attaches to the name of the American Indian.

Viewed from the ridge, Jack could see figures moving to and fro in the
aimless manner natural to such indolent people. There were children
running and playing among the stumps and dwellings--half naked little
knots of humanity, who in a few years would become the repulsive squaws
or terrible warriors of the tribe. Three of the youngsters were having a
high time with a canoe lying against the shore. They were splashing the
water over each other, plunging into the stream and scrambling out again
without regard to the wear or tear of their clothing, and playing all
sorts of tricks on each other, while a half dozen playmates were
standing on the bank laughing so heartily that a spectator would have
found it hard to understand why the American race is so often described
as of a melancholy temperament.

Now and then some squaw could be seen trudging along under a load of
sticks, while more than likely her lazy husband was asleep within the
wigwam. A half dozen warriors strolled off toward the woods, rifles in
hand, and most likely with the intention of going upon a hunt. Just
before leaving the clearing, one of them caught sight of the group on
the top of the ridge. Immediately they swung their arms and sent several
ringing whoops across as a salutation to their friends.

Ogallah answered, and he and his party moved down the slope toward their
homes. Having saluted each other in this fashion, the warriors of the
village speedily vanished in the wood. They must have known that the
returning company had a prisoner with them, but it will be seen they
felt no particular interest in the matter.

But if such was the fact respecting the hunters, it was far different
with those who were left behind. The moment the five warriors emerged
from the wood, with the captive walking among them, the whole village
was thrown in a turmoil of excitement. Squaws and children rushed
forward, men came to the entrances of their wigwams, and some strolled
out to make a closer investigation of the matter.

It was a trying moment to Jack Carleton, for it may be said that he had
discounted it during the preceding day. He forced himself to smile, and
when the chattering, grunting, shouting crowd gathered around him so
closely that he was forced to stop walking, he shook, so far as he
could, most of the scores of hands that were pushed against him.

All this was well enough, but it was not long before their attention
took an unpleasant form. Some of the half grown bucks either feigned or
really were angered because Jack could not give them heed, and struck
him with the flat of their hands about the chest and shoulders. The boy
turned when the first blow was delivered, and the Indian indulged in a
taunting grimace. Jack clenched his fist and was on the point of
striking him in the face when his good sense restrained him. He needed
no one to tell him the consequences of such rashness.

The attentions soon became so boisterous that Ogallah interfered. He
flung the crowd right and left, commanding them to disperse, and then
beckoned the youth to follow him toward a lodge near the center of the
village. Jack was glad enough to do so, and was speedily relieved of
annoyance.

The sachem conducted the boy to his own dwelling where none of the
curious dare follow him, though the crowd gathered on the outside and
peeped within, like so many persons seeking a free survey of a circus.

Suspecting that this was likely to be his new home for an indefinite
time, Jack Carleton was quick to acquaint himself with the interior. The
structure, as I have said, stood near the middle of the village, and was
the largest of the collection. It is rare that an aboriginal building
bears such resemblance to those made by the white men of the border, for
the American race has never shown any aptitude in architecture.

Ogallah's house was a log cabin, perhaps twenty feet long by half as
many wide. The logs were roughly dovetailed at the corners, but none of
the numerous crevices were stopped by mortar or clay, and daylight
could be discerned through many a rent, which in cold weather admitted
the keen cutting wind.

A single opening served as a door. Aboriginal ingenuity could not pass
beyond this rude contrivance, so having opened the way for ingress and
egress, the builder was content to hang a bison skin as a curtain. This
could be readily pulled aside by any one, and the door locked by
fastening the corners. Windows are a sinful extravagance to the American
Indian, and there was not one in the village to which Jack Carleton was
taken. When the open door, the burning fire, the hole which answered for
a chimney, and the numerous crevices did not give enough light for the
interior, the occupants went outside to obtain it.

Having put up the four walls of logs and roofed them with branches,
covered with leaves, dirt and grass, Ogallah was content to lean back,
fold his arms and smoke his pipe in placid triumph. The floor was the
earth, worn hard and smooth by the feet of the family, and the fire was
kindled on the ground at the further end, where the vapor found its way
through the irregular opening made for the purpose. There was nothing in
the nature of a chair or bench in the place. Bison and deer robes
formed the couches, and the pegs driven in the logs held blankets, bows,
and furs of animals (most of the last, however, lying on the ground),
leggings and other articles worn by the chieftain and his wife.

These two were the only occupants of the place previous to the coming of
Jack Carleton. Ogallah was in middle life, and had been the father of
but a single son, who died while yet a papoose. His wife was tall and
muscular, evidently a woman with a strong will, and well worthy to be
the consort of an Indian chief. She did not rush to her husband and
embrace him the moment she caught sight of him. Indeed, she had not
ventured outside the lodge, though she could not have failed to hear the
unusual turmoil.

She would not have been human had she not shown some curiosity
respecting her husband's companion. Jack doffed his hat and bowed to her
with elaborate courtesy, after which he leaned his rifle against the
side of the wigwam and folded his arms. The squaw surveyed him for a
full minute, during which he stood as if awaiting her commands, and
then, turning to her husband, the two held a short but vigorous
conversation.

The wife must have been expecting him, for she was engaged in cooking
some venison in the usual aboriginal fashion, and, to the great relief
of the boy, the two were not kept waiting for their meal. Seating
themselves cross-legged on the ground, the half-cooked meat was taken in
their hands, and, with no other utensils than his hunting knife, each
made his morning meal.

And so at last Jack Carleton was a captive among a tribe of Indians
whose totem was unknown to him. Whether he was to remain with them until
manhood, or whether he was to be put to death long before that period,
were questions whose answers he did not dare try to conjecture.

His situation was a most extraordinary one, as every reader will admit.
He knew of more than one instance where children who were captured when
quite small, had become so attached to the rude ways and wild life of
the red men, that they refused to go back to their own people when the
offer presented itself, but it was too late in the day for such an
experience to befall him.

And now, for a time, we must leave Jack Carleton to himself, while we
give attention to other incidents which are destined to have a bearing
on his fate.



CHAPTER XIV.

ON THE MOUNTAIN CREST.


The reader has not forgotten the encounter between Jacob Relstaub and
Deerfoot, the Shawanoe, when the former plunged headlong through his own
door in mortal fear that the tomahawk of the youthful warrior would be
sent crashing through his brain; but, much as Deerfoot despised the
German, he had no thought of visiting injury upon him. Shoving back the
weapon to its place in his girdle, he therefore strode off in the
forest, never pausing in his walk until the sun appeared above the
horizon. He was then many miles from Martinsville, his face turned
toward the southwest.

Throwing himself on his face, he quaffed his fill from a small, clear
stream, whose current was only moderately cool, and then, assuming an
easy posture on the ground, gave himself over to deep thought.

The question which he was seeking to answer was as to his duty. He had
gone to the settlement to see his young friends, and learned that they
had started some hours before on a hunting expedition. Such a proceeding
was so natural, and, withal, so common, that any one expressing wonder
thereat was likely to be laughed at for his words. The boys of the
frontier learn to handle the rifle when much younger than either Otto
Relstaub or Jack Carleton, and they were sometimes absent for days at a
time without causing any misgiving on the part of their parents.

Why, then, should Deerfoot be perplexed over the matter, when even the
mother of Jack expressed no fear concerning him?

Why, indeed? That was the query which puzzled the young warrior. It has
already been said it was the custom of Deerfoot to follow a certain
inexplainable intuition which often came to his help in his moments of
doubt. In the present instance, something seemed to whisper that it was
his duty to look after the boys, but the whisper was so low--as may be
said--that he hesitated to obey it, led to do so by a doubt as to
whether, after all, it was that instinctive prompting which hitherto
had guided him so infallibly in many of his daring enterprises and
undertakings.

It was characteristic of the warrior that, after spending a long time in
such anxious thought, he should draw his Bible from the inner pocket of
his hunting shirt, and begin looking through its pages for guidance.
There were certain portions that were favorites of his, and, without
searching, the volume opened to one after another of these places; but
seek as much as he chose, he could find nothing that bore on the problem
he wished to solve.

"The Great Spirit wills that Deerfoot shall settle the question for
himself," was his conclusion, as he returned the treasure to its place.

It may as well be admitted that the principal cause of Deerfoot's
hesitation cannot be given at this time. There was an urgent reason why
he should make haste to the southwest, and he longed to break into his
easy, loping trot, which he was able to maintain without fatigue from
rise of morn till set of sun. But the same strange impulse which sent
him into the settlement to inquire concerning his friends, still kept
them in his thoughts.

But he was not the youth to torment himself in this manner, hour after
hour, and he finally compressed his thin lips and muttered:

"Deerfoot will return in a few days, and then, if his brothers are still
gone, he will hunt for them."

This was not a satisfactory conclusion, but he followed it with his
usual promptness. He was in the very act of rising from the ground, when
his quick ear caught a faint footfall. Like a flash he raised his head,
and observed a noble buck approaching the water with the purpose of
drinking from it. It was not to be expected that the animal had any fear
of hunters in such a solitary place, and he came forward with a proud
step, as though master of the wilderness.

The Shawanoe waited until he was within fifty feet, when the buck
stopped short, and threw up his head as though he scented danger in the
air. At that instant Deerfoot bounded to his feet as if thrown upward by
a spring-board, and with a slight whoop, dashed straight at the animal,
swinging his arms and jumping from side to side in the most grotesque
fashion.

Few animals of the forest are more timid than the deer, which, like the
bear, is found in almost every portion of the American continent. The
buck with one swift whirl on his hoofs, faced the other way, and was off
like an arrow, shooting between the trees, through the undergrowth, and
bounding over obstructions as though they were not worth his notice. The
ordinary hunter might have found time to fire one shot, when the game
would have vanished like a bird on the wing, before he could reload; but
the occasion was a good one for Deerfoot to display his wonderful
fleetness, and he was in the mood to do so. He had made his gestures and
uttered his cries for the very purpose of terrifying the animal into
doing his utmost, and he did it.

With his head thrown back, so that his antlers almost rested on his
back, he plunged forward with amazing swiftness; but when he had gone
two hundred yards, he saw the same light, willowy figure almost on his
haunch. He even flung up his arms and shouted again, as if urging him to
a higher rate of speed. And such was the truth; Deerfoot was running as
fast as the game, and he was able to run still faster.

The buck bounded up a steep slope, and with one tremendous leap cleared
a craggy rock in his path. He had barely done so, when the young
Shawanoe was after him, going over with a lightness and grace that
showed no special effort. The pursuer was on his haunches, and the
animal, with glaring eyeballs and a horrified sniff, seemed to bound off
with the speed of the wind. But of what avail? The warrior was not to be
shaken off. With a speed which none of his race could equal, it was only
play for him to outrun the deer. Years before (as I have told in another
place), Deerfoot, for mere sport, pursued one of the fleetest of horses,
and kept it up hour after hour, until he ran down the steed. He was
doing the same to the buck. There was not a moment from the first when
he could not have launched an arrow that would have brought the game to
the ground; he was near enough to drive his tomahawk into the neck, but
he did nothing of that nature. Inasmuch as he was running the race, he
meant it should be a fair one, and neither should take any advantage
over the other.

What terrifying imaginings took possession of the buck when he awoke to
the fact that it was impossible to escape the dreadful being clinging
to his hips, cannot be understood by any of us, but that which followed,
incredible as it may seem, is an indisputable fact.

The singular race was kept up for slightly more than a mile, during
every fraction of which the fugitive put forth his highest possible
effort. Such a terrific strain cannot fail to tell upon the most highly
trained animal, and so, despite all he could do, the buck found himself
unable to keep up his prodigious tension. He was losing ground, and he
could not fail to know that escape was out of the question: he was as
much doomed as if surrounded and driven at bay by a dozen hunters and
their hounds. He was still running at his highest bent, when he suddenly
deviated to the right, and, with shocking violence, plunged squarely
against the trunk of a beech, and, falling over on his side, gave a few
convulsive struggles and died. Beyond question, the buck, when awake to
the fact that there was no hope for him, deliberately committed suicide
by breaking his neck.

The young Shawanoe paused, and looked down upon the quivering form with
feelings of pity.

"Why did he do that? Deerfoot felt too much sorrow to harm him; he only
sought to show him he could run the faster; but he will run no more, and
Deerfoot will eat."

The spot was suitable, and, within less time than would be supposed, the
warrior was seated on the ground, deliberately masticating a liberal
slice of broiled venison. Doubtless it would have been improved could he
have hung it in a cellar or tree for several days, but it wasn't
convenient to do so, and Deerfoot therefore ate it as he could obtain
it, and was satisfied therewith.

No water was within reach, the Indian following the healthful practice
of the wild animals themselves, of not partaking of drink while eating
food.

The meal finished, Deerfoot did not conduct himself like one who was
still in doubt as to the course he ought to follow. He had solved the
question earlier in the day, and, though the conclusion he reached was
not fully satisfactory, he resolutely forced aside all further thought
respecting it, and gave his attention simply to that which was before
him. His dinner required only a short time, when he resumed his journey,
if such it may be termed. He walked with his usual noiseless gait, in
which could be detected not the slightest weakness or exhaustion
resulting from his terrific run.

The young Shawanoe was advancing toward the mountainous portion of the
present State of Missouri. The Ozark range, or its spurs, cover one-half
of that large State, and their recesses afford hunting grounds and
retreats such as are surpassed by no other portion of the continent.

Deerfoot turned his footsteps toward a high promontory some miles
distant. It was the most elevated among many others, and formed a
landmark visible over a very extensive area. The youthful warrior did
not hasten his footsteps, for there was no call to do so, but he
steadily approached the mountain, up which he tramped in his leisurely
fashion, until he paused on the very highest point.

The journey was long, and when he came to a halt the sun was far down
the western horizon. The summit of the mountain was covered with rocks
and boulders, with here and there a few scrubby pines. Nothing could be
more unattractive than the broken, stony soil, but the view which was
spread out before him who climbed to the top was enough to kindle the
eye of a stoic, and make the heart overflow with love and awe toward the
great Being who made it all.

But the eye can become accustomed to the grandest scenes, and, although
Deerfoot leaned on the rock beside him, and allowed his keen vision to
wander over the magnificent panorama, it did not cause an additional
pulse-beat. When he had glanced at the mountains, the valleys between,
the broken country, the forests, the diversified scenery in every
direction, his gaze rested on another promontory similar to the one he
had climbed.

It was several miles distant, in a directly southern course, and was
nearly or quite two hundred feet higher than the one on which he stood.
The latter, like those to which reference has been made, was of the
nature of a ridge, while the one on which his eyes were fixed was a
diminutive Teneriffe as to its form.

While the manner of Deerfoot indicated very plainly that he expected to
see something out of the usual order of things, yet it looked very much
as if he would have been pleased over his failure to do so. No painter
could limn a more striking picture than that which was formed by
Deerfoot, at the close of that beautiful spring day, when, as the sun
was setting, he stood on the elevation and gazed across the intervening
country.

His right elbow rested on the top of the rock, and his right leg
supported the weight of his body. The lower half of the left leg was
slung across the other, the toe of the moccasin touching the earth. The
right hand dropped over the side of the rock, and lightly held the long
bow which leaned against the same support. The posture was that of
elegant ease, and the best calculated to bring out in clear relief the
Apollo-like splendor of his figure. The luxuriant black hair streaming
over the shoulders, the gaudy eagle feathers thrust in at the crown, the
lustrous black eyes, the slightly Roman nose, the rows of colored beads
around the neck, the dull yellow of the hunting shirt, the quiver of
arrows behind the right shoulder, the red sash, holding knife and
tomahawk, the gold bracelet on the left wrist, the fringed border of his
hunting shirt about the knees, the brilliant fringes to the leggings,
the pretty moccasins, and the shapeliness of form, limb and
feature--all these made up the poetical Indian, which, sad to say, is
almost as rare among his race as the black diamond is in nature.

But such was Deerfoot the Shawanoe.



CHAPTER XV.

THE RETURN AND DEPARTURE.


Easy and negligent as was the posture assumed by Deerfoot the Shawanoe,
his eyes were never at rest. Resting for a moment on the promontory,
they darted to the right and left down the valley, and even took in the
shifting clouds in the sky above. But it was the peak which riveted his
attention, and which was scrutinized with minute closeness until the
gathering gloom shut it from sight.

It was not fairly dark when he kindled a fire on the very highest point,
and then placing himself so far from it that the glare could not
interfere with his sight, he looked out in the night. The darkness was
such that nothing could be seen beyond his immediate surroundings, but
he knew where to look for that which he expected and yet did not want to
see. For fully an hour the Shawanoe held his motionless attitude, gazing
as fixedly to the southward as ever an eagle stared at the sun. Then
that for which he was waiting appeared.

From the very crest of the distant mountain peak, a flaming arrow
suddenly began climbing toward the stars. Up, up it went, as does the
rocket on a summer night, going slower and slower, like an old man
plodding up hill, until, wearied out, it paused, and, for one instant
remained stationary in the air, as if doubtful whether to push on or to
fall back. The flaming point swung over until it pointed toward the
ground, when it shot downward with ever increasing swiftness until it
vanished. It must have struck within a yard of the spot from which it
had been driven upward.

It was very rarely that Deerfoot showed excitement. He had drawn his
knife and challenged the great Tecumseh to mortal conflict, and he had
faced death a score of times in the most dreadful shapes, but very
rarely, if ever, was his heart stirred as by the sight of the burning
arrow on the distant mountain peak.

He straightened up with a quick inspiration, and his eyes followed the
course of the fiery missile from the moment of its appearance until it
vanished.

"_They have called for Deerfoot!_"

These were the remarkable words which fell from his lips, as he plunged
down the mountain side like one who knew a question of life and death
was before him. Although Deerfoot had formed a friendship for Jack
Carleton and Otto Relstaub similar to that which he had felt for Ned
Preston and Wildblossom Brown, yet it must be admitted that they were
not the only ones to whom he was strongly attached, and in whose fate he
felt as deep an interest as in that of any human being--all of which
shall be made clear in another place and at another time.

It was just one week later that Deerfoot made his appearance near the
settlement, and, pausing at a point which commanded a view of the
collection of cabins, he spent several minutes in surveying them and the
pioneers. He had traveled many miles, and been through some singularly
stirring scenes since he last looked upon Martinsville, but the gracious
Being that had protected him all his life, did not desert him in his
extremity, and the frame was as supple and free from weakness or injury
as when he faced the other way.

When the burning arrow summoned Deerfoot down the mountain side, he was
glad indeed that he had decided the question whether or not he should
hunt for the boys as he did, for, had he done otherwise, the opportunity
that has been described could not have come to him; but, when his duty
was ended, the old doubt came back, until he had been driven to return
in order that he might settle the question forever.

Looking down on the little settlement of Martinsville, he studied the
curious scene, for he was so close that he could identify every person
whom he knew. The settlement, as the reader has been told, consisted of
two rows of log cabins, facing each other. They numbered about a score,
and the street was fifty feet wide. Besides that, each cabin had the
same space between itself and its neighbor, so that, few as were the
structures, they were scattered over considerable ground.

This ground, as well as much of it beyond, had been well cleared, and
the earth cultivated. There were horses and oxen to draw plows and help
bear the burdens. Besides the hunters' cabins, there were storehouses,
barns, and structures made for convenience or necessity. From most of
the soil that had been overturned were sprouting corn, potatoes, and
other vegetables. The time was not distant when the wilderness should
blossom as the rose.

A block-house near the middle of the settlement had been half completed,
when, so far as could be seen, the work was abandoned. The rule with the
frontier settlements was to put up a building in which all could take
refuge, should danger threaten; but often the fort was so hastily and
poorly made that it became a matter of weakness rather than of strength.
Colonel Martin and his brother pioneers reached the conclusion that they
were showing altogether too much haste in rearing the structure, and
they deferred its completion to a more convenient season. Their duty to
their families, as they saw it, justified them in taking such a step,
especially in view of the fact that the Indians of the surrounding
country were not likely ever to cause them trouble.

The cleared land, as it was called, was still disfigured by numerous
unsightly stumps, around which the rude plow was pulled; but here and
there men were working to remove them, and ultimately all would be
uprooted and destroyed.

On the edge of the clearing, three woodsmen were swinging their axes and
burying their keen edges in the hearts of the monarchs of the wood.
Deerfoot looked at them several minutes, noticing as he had done before,
with childish wonder, how long it took the sound caused by the blows to
reach him. When one of the choppers stopped to breathe and leaned on his
axe, the sound of two blows came to the listener, and when he resumed
work, the youth saw him in the act of striking the third time before the
sound was heard.

The scene was one of activity and industry. Even the children seemed to
have work instead of play to occupy them. The women, as a matter of
course, were among the busiest, and rarely did one of them appear at the
door of her cabin. When she did so, it was only for a very brief while.

Deerfoot was looking fixedly at one of the houses near the middle of the
settlement, when a squatty figure, with a conical hat, a heavy cane, and
smoking a pipe, came out and walked slowly toward a cabin only a short
distance off. The Indian smiled in his momentary, shadowy fashion when
he recognized Jacob Relstaub, whom he had frightened almost out of his
wits a week before. No doubt the German had told the incident many
times afterward, and would always insist he escaped by a veritable
hair's breadth.

But Deerfoot was troubled in mind, for among all whom he saw he
recognized neither Jack Carleton nor Otto Relstaub. It was not likely
that, if they had returned from their hunt, both would continue
invisible very long; but when minute after minute passed without showing
either, his heart sank.

The Shawanoe knew a scene would be probable if Jacob Relstaub caught
sight of him, so he avoided the wrathful German. The appearance of the
handsome warrior moving among the cabins, naturally awakened some
interest. Men and children looked at him as he went by, and several of
the latter followed him. Deerfoot saluted all whose eyes met his,
calling out: "Good day; how is my brother?" in as excellent English as
any of them could have employed.

The Indian, it may be supposed, was known to nearly every one by
reputation. Most of the settlers had heard of his exploits when they and
he lived in Kentucky; they knew he guided Otto Relstaub and Jack
Carleton on their perilous journey from the Dark and Bloody Ground into
Louisiana; they were aware, too, that he could read and write, and was
one of the most sagacious and valuable friends the settlers ever had or
could have. The story which Jacob Relstaub told was therefore received
with much doubt, and no one who listened felt any distrust of the
loyalty of the young Shawanoe. More than one declared on general
principles that Relstaub would have been served right had the warrior
handled him roughly, as it was well known he could have done had he been
so minded.

Deerfoot walked quietly along the primitive street until opposite the
door of Widow Carleton's cabin. Without hesitation, he pulled the latch
string and stepped within. There was no start or change of expression
when he glanced about the apartment, but that single glance told him the
story.

Mrs. Carleton was standing at the table on the other side of the room,
occupied with the dishes that had served at the morning meal. Her back
was toward the visitor, but she turned like a flash when she heard the
door open. The scared, expectant, disappointed, and apprehensive
expression that flitted over her countenance, like the passing of a
cloud across a summer landscape, made known the truth to the sagacious
Shawanoe.

"Deerfoot's brother has not come back from his long hunt," he said, in
his usual voice, as he bowed and advanced to the middle of the
apartment.

"O Deerfoot!" moaned the mother, as, with tremulous lip, she sank into
the nearest chair and looked pleadingly toward him, holding her apron
ready to raise to her eyes; "tell me where is my Jack!"

"My friend told Deerfoot that his brother had gone to hunt the horse
that has wandered off."

"But that was more than a week ago; he ought to have come back a good
while since. O Deerfoot----"

"But the horse has wandered many miles, and it will take my brother a
long time to find him," interrupted the visitor, who dreaded the scene
which he saw was sure to come.

"Do you think they are still hunting for him?" she asked with a sudden,
yearning eagerness that went to the heart of the Indian. He could not
speak an untruth, nor could he admit the great fear that almost stopped
the beating of his heart.

"Deerfoot cannot answer his friend; but he hopes soon to take the hand
of his brother."

"Oh, that will never be--it can never be. My poor Jack!"

Her grief could be restrained no longer. The apron was abruptly raised
to the eyes, and as the white hands were pressed against the face her
whole frame shook with emotion. Deerfoot looked steadily at the pitiful
scene, but he knew not what to say or do. It was a vivid illustration of
this strange nature of ours that the youth, who absolutely knew not what
fear was, and who had seen the glittering tomahawk crash its way into
the brain without a throb of pity, now found his utmost self-command
hardly able to save him from breaking down as utterly as did the parent
before him. He hastily swallowed the lump that kept rising in his
throat, blinked his eyes very rapidly, coughed, fidgeted on the bench
whereon he sat, and, finally, looked away and upward at the rude
rafters, so as to avoid the sight of the sobbing woman.

"Deerfoot is a pappoose," he muttered angrily, "that he weeps when he
knows not what for; he is a dog that whines before his master strikes
him."

A brief but resolute struggle gave him the mastery over his emotions,
though for a few seconds he dared not look towards his hostess. When he
timidly ventured to do so, she was rubbing her eyes with the corner of
her apron. The tempest of grief had passed, and she was regaining
mastery of herself, thereby rendering great help to the valiant warrior.

"I know that it may be possible that Jack and Otto have gone on a longer
hunt than before, but they did not expect to be away more than three or
four days, and Jack would not willingly bring sorrow to his mother."

"My brother may have gone so far that he has lost his way, and is slow
in finding it again."

"Do you think so, Deerfoot?"

The Indian fidgeted, but he could not avoid an answer.

"Deerfoot does not know; he cannot think right; he is in sore trouble
for his brothers."

"No one can help them like you. O Deerfoot, won't you find my Jack and
bring him home to me?"

The youthful warrior rose to his feet, and looking her in the face,
spoke the words, "_I will!_" Then he turned and strode out of the door.



CHAPTER XVI.

A PERPLEXING QUESTION.


Deerfoot, the Shawanoe, had entered upon the most difficult task of his
life. He had undertaken to follow up and befriend the youths who had
disappeared more than a week previous, and who had left not the
slightest clue as to where they had gone, nor what direction they had
taken.

In these days, when a friend sets out to trace a person who is seeking
to hide himself, he is always able to pick up some knowledge that will
give valuable help in his search. The habits of the individual, some
intentions, or rather wishes, to which he may have given utterance a
long time before, his little peculiarities of manner, which are sure to
betray themselves, no matter how complete the disguise--these, and other
points, are certain to afford the help the hunter through the cities and
towns and country requires.

But my reader will observe the vast difference between a case such as
occurs every day, and that which confronted the young Indian. Two boys
had gone into the woods more than a week before, on a long hunt, and
were now missing; it was his task to find them. Could it be done?

Had Deerfoot taken up the pursuit shortly after the departure of the
boys, he could have sped over their trail like a bloodhound. There could
have been no escaping him; but since they left home, rain had fallen,
and even that marvel of canine sagacity could not have trailed them
through the wilderness. It was idle, therefore, for Deerfoot to seek for
that which did not exist; no trail was to be found; at least, none in
that neighborhood. In all his calculations, he did not build the
slightest hope on that foundation. Had he done so, he would have sought
to take up the shadowy footprints from where the boys left the
settlement; but the utmost he did was to learn the general direction
taken by them, when they entered upon one of the wildest expeditions
that can be imagined.

Hundreds and thousands of square miles of mountain and forest were
spread out before him. The vast territory of Louisiana, as it was then
called, stretched away to the Gulf of Mexico, and spread toward the
setting sun until stopped by the walls of the Rocky Mountains. The youth
could spend his life in wandering over that prodigious area, without
coming upon or gaining the slightest traces of a thousand people whom he
might wish to find. The conclusion was inevitable that he must pursue
some intelligent course, or he never could succeed.

It should be said that Deerfoot had not the slightest doubt of a grave
misfortune having befallen his friends. Jack Carleton never would
willingly remain from home for so long a period; he was too affectionate
a son to grieve his mother by such a course. He and Otto Relstaub,
therefore, were either prisoners in the hands of Indians, or they had
been put to death.

Just the faintest possible fear troubled the young Shawanoe. He recalled
the incidents which had marked the journey of himself and the boys from
Kentucky, only a short time before. The Shawanoes, the fiercest and most
cunning of all the Indian tribes, had not only pursued them to the
river's edge, but had followed them across the Mississippi, coming
within a hair's breadth of destroying the two boys who were making such
haste toward Martinsville. Had any of those Shawanoes pushed the pursuit
still further? Had they lingered near the settlement, awaiting just such
an opportunity as was given by Jack and Otto when they went off on their
hunt?

This was the phase of the question which for a long time tortured
Deerfoot. He felt that it was improbable that danger existed in that
shape. The Shawanoes had no special cause for enmity against the boys.
If they should venture into Louisiana to revenge themselves upon any
one, it would be upon Deerfoot. Nothing was more certain than that he
had not been molested by any of his old enemies, for a good many days
previously, nor had they been anywhere near him during that period.

But the cunning Indian, like his shrewd white brother, may do the very
thing least expected. Might they not capture and make off with the boys,
for the very purpose of leading Deerfoot on a long pursuit, in which the
advantage would be wholly against him?

But the field of conjecture thus opened was limitless. Deerfoot might
have spent hours in theorizing and speculating, and still have been as
far from the truth as at the beginning; he might have formed schemes,
perfect in every detail, only to find, on investigation, that they were
wrong in every particular. The elaborate structures which the detective
rears are often builded on sand, and tumble to fragments on the
slightest touch.

Deerfoot was convinced that the boys either were captives in the hands
of Indians, or they were dead. Had they been slain by red men--and it
was not conceivable that both could have met death in any other way--it
was useless to hunt for their remains, since only fortunate chance could
end a search that might last a century.

But if the boys had been carried off, there was hope of gaining trace of
them, though that might involve endless wanderings to and fro, through
the mountains and wilderness. Such a hunt, prosecuted on a systematic
plan for a certain time, without any results, would satisfy Deerfoot
that the boys, like many older ones, had met their death in the lonely
depths of the wilderness, where no human eye would ever look upon them
again.

My reader, who has been let into the secret of the boys' disappearance,
will perceive that Deerfoot was hovering around the truth, though he was
still barred by difficulties almost insurmountable.

Suppose he should make up his mind that Jack and Otto were at that
moment with the red men, in what manner--except by an almost
interminable search--could he learn what tribe held them prisoners?

In the autumn of 1778, Frances Slocum, a little girl five years old, was
stolen from her home in Wyoming Valley, and carried away by Delaware
Indians. For a period of fifty-nine years the search for her was
prosecuted with more or less earnestness. Thousands of dollars were
spent, scores of persons were engaged at the same time in the hunt,
journeys were made among the Western tribes, friendly Indians themselves
were enlisted in the work, and yet, although the searchers were often
within a few miles of her, they never picked up the first clue. After
the lapse of more than half a century, when all hope had been abandoned
by the surviving friends, the whereabouts of the woman became known,
through an occurrence that was as purely an accident as was anything
that ever took place in this world.

Admitting the unapproachable woodcraft and skill of the young Shawanoe,
yet he could not do the impossible. Could he be spared a hundred years,
possibly he might make the grand round of his people on the American
continent, but in the meantime, what of his friends for whom he would be
making this extended tour?

If so it should be that the boys were in the power of the Shawanoes, or
Miamis, or Delawares, they were far to the east of the Mississippi; if
with the Wyandots, they were also east of the Father of Waters, and
probably in the vicinity of Lake Erie; if with the Ojibwas, to the
northward along Lake Huron; if with the Ottawas, they were the same
distance north, but on the shores of Lake Michigan; if with the
Pottawatomies, further south on the same lake; if in the villages of the
Kickapoos, or Winnebagoes, or Menomonies, it was on the southern and
western shores of the same body of water; if with the Ottigamies, or
Sacs, or Foxes, or in the land of the Assinoboine, the hunt must be of
the most prolonged character.

Still further, the vast bulk of the western continent stretched westward
toward the Pacific. When Deerfoot faced the setting sun, he knew he was
looking over the rim of one of the grandest countries of the globe. He
had fair ideas of the vast prairies, enormous streams, prodigious
mountains and almost illimitable area, which awaited the development of
the coming centuries.

One other suggestive fact was known to Deerfoot: representatives of the
Indian tribes among the foothills of the Rocky Mountains had exchanged
shots with the white explorers on the banks of the Mississippi. It is an
error to suppose that the American savage confines his wanderings to a
limited space. The majority do so, but, as I have said, the race
produces in its way its quota of venturesome explorers, who now and then
are encountered many hundreds of miles from home.

Within the preceding few weeks, Deerfoot had met two warriors among the
Ozark mountains, who, he saw at a glance, came from a long distance and
probably had never before been in that section. Neither they nor
Deerfoot could speak a word the other could understand, but the sign
language is universal among the North American Indians, and they were
soon conversing like a party of trained mutes.

To the amazement of the young Shawanoe, he learned they were on their
way to the Mississippi. They either would not or could not make clear
their errand, but Deerfoot suspected it was that of gaining a glimpse of
the civilization which as yet had not appeared in the West. Though the
strangers were somewhat shy and suspicious, they offered no harm to the
young Shawanoe, who, of course, showed only friendship toward them. From
them he gained not a little rude information of the marvelous region
which has since become familiar to the world.

The fear, therefore, of Deerfoot was that some wandering band from the
extreme West had captured the boys, and were at that very hour pushing
toward the Pacific with them. It would require a long, long time to
learn the truth, which, in all probability, would prove a bitter
disappointment.

From what has been said in this fragmentary manner, the reader may gain
an idea of the almost infinite difficulties by which Deerfoot was
confronted. Like a trained detective, however, he saw that much valuable
time had been lost and a start must be made without further delay; and,
furthermore, that the first step must be based on something tangible, or
it would come to naught. The element of chance plays a leading part in
such problems, and it may be questioned whether luck is not often a more
powerful helper than skill.

After leaving the settlement, Deerfoot naturally climbed to the nearest
elevation which gave a view of the surrounding country, and it was while
he was looking over the scene that his thoughts took the turn indicated
by the preceding part of this chapter.

It may be said that that for which he was searching was a starting
point. "Where shall I begin?" was the question which remained unanswered
until the sun was half way to meridian.

The principal view of the young warrior was to the south and west, for
the conviction was strong that thither he must look for the shadowy clue
which he prayed might lead him to success. Several miles southward a
camp-fire was burning, as was shown by the bluish vapor that seemed to
stand still against the clear sky; the same distance to the southeast
was a slighter evidence of another camp-fire, while to the southwest was
still another, the vapor so thin and faint that the experienced eye of
the Shawanoe told him the party spending the previous night there had
gone early in the morning, leaving the fire to burn itself slowly out.

Evidently the thing for Deerfoot to do was to visit one or all of the
camps in quest of the clue which the chances were a thousand to one he
would never find. Which should he first seek?

The bravest of men has a tinge of superstition in his nature, and with
all of Deerfoot's daring and profoundly devout nature, he was as
superstitious in some respects as a child. He could not decide by means
of his Bible the precise course to follow, for one of his principles was
that he alone must determine his precise course of action, the Great
Spirit holding him accountable only for the manner in which he did, or
sought to do, that which he clearly saw was his duty.

The hunting knife was whipped from his girdle, and, holding the point
between his thumb and finger, he flung it a rod above his head. It
turned over and over in going up and descending, and, when it struck
the ground, landed on the hilt. Deerfoot looked down on the implement
and saw that the point was turned toward the camp-fire which was
furthest west.



CHAPTER XVII.

TWO ACQUAINTANCES AND FRIENDS.


The question was settled. Nothing short of positive knowledge could have
led Deerfoot to change his mind as to the right course to pursue.

Stooping over, he picked up his hunting knife, thrust it in his girdle,
and strode down the slope in the direction of the camp, which he knew
was deserted early that morning. It was a long way to travel, but it was
nothing to the lissome warrior, who would have broken into a run could
he have felt any assurance of gaining any benefit by doing so.

Climbing around the boulders and rocks, leaping over chasms, pushing
through matted undergrowth, and turning aside only when forced to do so,
Deerfoot pressed to the southwest until three-fourths of the distance
was passed. Most of that time the shadowy vapor had been beyond sight,
for he did not take the trouble to look for it when the intervening
vegetation interfered. He could not make any mistake as to the right
course, and it was therefore unnecessary for him to take his bearings;
but now, when he knew he could not be far from his destination, he came
to the surface, as it may be said of a diver in an emerald sea, and
indulged in a deliberate survey of his surroundings.

The first glance at the camp caused his eyes to sparkle, for it conveyed
an interesting fact: instead of the smoke being so thin that it was
scarcely visible, it was much denser and more plenteous. That simply
showed that the camp was no longer a deserted one. Whoever had gone away
in the morning had returned, and was at that moment on the ground. More
than likely there were several of them, and, as the day was half gone,
they were preparing their noontide meal.

At any rate the Shawanoe was sure to find some one there, and he
hastened his footsteps, though he could feel but slight hope that
whatever he saw or learned would have a bearing on the business in which
his whole soul was engaged.

Deerfoot approached the camp with his usual caution, his supposition
being that a company of Indians were resting there for a brief time. If
they were Osages, or, indeed, any other tribe, except Hurons or
Wyandots, he would not hesitate to go forward and greet them, for there
ought to be no danger incurred in doing so. The same would be the case
with the whites, though some care might be necessary to convince them no
treachery was intended.

The first glimpse showed the Indian that only a single white man was
present. He was preparing dinner, the preliminary step being a stirring
of the smoldering camp-fire, which gave forth the tell-tale smoke. He
was a striking individual, though a stranger to Deerfoot.

The fire itself was small, and was burning in an open space where the
whole neighborhood served as a chimney. Several feet off was a
half-decayed log, on which the man was sitting, his elbows on his knees,
and a long stick held loosely in his hands. This he used as a poker, and
it served his purpose well. A close approach to the fire was apt to be
unpleasant on account of the heat, so he sat a short distance off, and
managed things in a comfortable fashion. Now and then he poked the
embers until the end of the vegetable poker broke into a blaze, when he
withdrew it and whipped it on the ground till the flame was put out. His
rifle leaned against an adjoining tree within easy distance, and the
short clay pipe in his mouth, from which he sent out an occasional puff,
added to his apparently peaceful frame of mind.

The striking point about the hunter was his magnificent physical
manhood. He was more than six feet high, with immense shoulders and
chest, an enormous beard of a coal black color, which grew almost to his
keen black eyes, and descended over his chest in a silken, wavy mass. He
was attired in the ordinary hunting costume of the border, and looked as
if he might be one of those men who had spent their lives in the
Louisiana wilderness, hunting and trapping animals for their peltries,
which were sold at some of the advanced posts of civilization.

Deerfoot suspected the man was the owner of a horse which must be in the
vicinity, for it was hardly likely that he would wander aimlessly around
in the mountains and woods for the mere sake of doing so, but no animal
could be seen, and without speculating long over the matter, the young
Shawanoe walked forward to the camp.

While doing so, the stranger was giving his full attention to the fire
and his culinary duties. The wood had burned until there were enough
coals, when he arose and raked them apart, so as to afford a surface of
glowing embers. Then he turned back and took up a huge slice of meat,
which had been skewered on the prongs of a long stick. Balancing this
very cleverly, he held the meat down until it was almost against the
crimson coals. He could have done the same with the blaze, but he
preferred this method.

Almost instantly the meat began to crisp and scorch and shrink, and to
give off an odor which would have tortured a hungry man. The cook
quickly exposed the other side to the heat, reversing several times,
when the venison was cooked in as appetizing a form as could be wished.

The man gave such close attention to his task that he never turned his
head to observe the figure of an Indian warrior standing only a rod or
two away. Having finished his work, he carefully spread the meat on some
green oak leaves, arranged on the log. Its size was such that it
suggested a door mat burned somewhat out of shape.

"There," said the hunter, with a contented expression, seating himself
as if to guard the prize against disturbance; "the boys can't growl over
that--hello, where'd _you_ come from?"

He had caught sight of Deerfoot, advancing noiselessly toward him, and
the man was startled (though he strove to conceal it) by the fact that
the other was nearer to his rifle than was the owner.

The Indian saluted him in his courteous fashion, and with a view of
removing his fears, walked on until the relative position of him and the
man were changed, and the latter was nearer his gun.

Then he paused, retaining his standing position, and with a slight
smile, said:

"Deerfoot is glad that his brother is not ill."

Undoubtedly that brother was relieved to find in case of dispute he
could reach his gun before the dusky youth, but he could hardly believe
the warrior voluntarily gave up the enormous advantage thus held for a
moment or two. Throwing his shoulders back, he looked straight in the
eyes of Deerfoot, and then rising to his feet, extended his hand. As if
conscious of his superior height, he towered aloft and looked down on
the graceful youth who met his gaze with a confiding expression that
would have won the heart of any one.

The abundant beard hid the mouth of the white man, but the movement of
the cheeks, the gathering wrinkles under the eyes, and the gleam of his
white teeth through the black meshes, showed he was smiling. Instead of
saluting in the usual fashion, he brought his hand down with a flourish,
and grasping the palm of the youth pressed it with a vigor which made
him wince.

"So you're Deerfoot, are you? I mean the young Shawanoe that used to
hunt through Kentucky and Missouri."

The Indian nodded his head to signify that he was the individual whom
the other had in mind.

"I'm Burt Hawkins--you remember me?" asked he, still pumping the arm of
Deerfoot, who was compelled to admit he had never before heard the name,
nor could he remember ever having looked upon his face.

"Well, you have done so, whether you remember it or not: three years
ago, which, I reckon, was about the time you began tramping through the
woods for the benefit of the white man, I was on a scout with Kenton and
some of the boys, over in Kentucky. We got caught in a blinding snow
storm, and all came near going under with a rush. Things got so bad that
Kenton said we would have to give up, for, tough as he was, he was
weakening. The snow was driving so hard you couldn't see six feet in
front of you. Cold! Well, the wind was of that kind that it went right
through your bones as though it was a knife. Night was coming on, and we
were in the middle of the woods, twenty miles from everywhere. The only
thing we could do was to let out a yell once in a while, and fire off
our guns. I don't think there was one among the five that had the first
grain of hope. Kenton was leading and I was at his heels; all I could
see was his tall figure, covered from head to foot with snow, as he
plodded along with the grit he always showed.

"The first thing I knowed some one j'ined us--a young, likely looking
Injin, which his name was Deerfoot. He had heard our guns and dropped
down from somewhere. You're grinning, old chap, so I guess there ain't
much use of telling the rest, 'cause you know it. I'll never forget how
you led us into that cave, where you had fixed up the logs and bark so
that no snow flakes couldn't get in. There was a fire burning, and some
buffalo meat cooking, and we couldn't have been better fixed if we had
been lodged with Colonel Preston at Live Oaks or in St. Louis."

"Deerfoot has not forgotten," said the smiling Indian, seating himself
beside Hawkins on the log; "but my brother did not look then as he looks
now."

Again the head of the trapper was thrown back, his white teeth shone
through his immense whiskers, the wrinkles gathered at the corner of his
eyes, and his musical laugh rang out from the capillary depths. Burt was
proud of his beard, as he well might be. Few people in those days wore
such an ornament, and those who did so were sure to attract attention.

"You talk like a level-headed gentleman, Deerfoot, for all this (here he
stroked the glossy whiskers) has grown since then. I shouldn't wonder if
it _did_ change my looks somewhat. You're a blamed smart redskin,
Deerfoot," added Burt, who seemed to be in high spirits; "but I don't
believe you can beat it."

It was the turn of Deerfoot to laugh, and he did so with much
heartiness, though without any noise.

"No; the hair of Deerfoot grows on his head; he would be sad if it
covered his face."

"So would I, for it would make a confounded queer looking creatur' of
you. I would like to see an Injin got up in that style; just think of
Tecumseh with a big mustache and whiskers! Beavers!"

The conceit was equally enjoyed by Deerfoot, who fairly shook with
mirth. He recalled the time when he confronted the mighty chieftain,
with drawn knife and compressed lips, and the picture of that terrible
being, with his face covered by whiskers, was a drop from the sublime to
the ridiculous, which would have brought a laugh to any one.

Burt Hawkins evidently held his visitor in esteem, for, reaching out his
horny hand, he gently passed his fingers over the cheek nearest him, and
then drew it across the chin.

"No; there's no beard there. It's as smooth as the cheeks of my little
five-year old Peggy at home. It always struck me as qu'ar that Injins
don't have beards, but I s'pose it's because the old fellows, several
thousand years ago, began plucking out the hairs that came on the face,
and their children have kept it up so long that it has discouraged the
industry in them regions. See?"

To assist Deerfoot to catch the force of his illustration, Burt gave him
several digs in the ribs. This familiarity would have been annoying
under most circumstances, but it was manifest from the manner of the
warrior that he rather enjoyed the effusiveness of the magnificent
fellow.

"Why is my brother in the woods alone?" he asked, when matters calmed
down.

"I can't say I'm exactly alone, Deerfoot, for Kit Kellogg and Tom
Crumpet ain't fur off, and that meat thar is gettin' cold waiting for
them to come and gobble it; if they ain't here in a few minutes you and
me will insert our teeth. We've been trappin' all winter down to the
south'rd and have got a good pile of peltries; we've got 'em gathered,
and loaded, too, and are on our way to St. Louis with 'em; warm weather
is comin', and the furs are beginnin' to get poor, so we shall hang our
harps on the willers till cold weather begins agin."

"My brothers are coming," said Deerfoot, quietly, referring to two other
hunters who at that moment put in an appearance.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE TRAPPERS.


The new arrivals resembled Burt Hawkins in their dress and
accoutrements. They wore coon-skin caps, hunting dress, leggings, coarse
shoes, etc., and each carried a long rifle and hunting knife as his
weapons. They were rugged, powerful fellows, whose long experience in
the wilderness had given them a knowledge of its ways and mysteries,
beyond that of ordinary men. They were hardy and active, with the
faculties of hearing, seeing and smelling cultivated to a point almost
incredible. They contrasted with Hawkins in one respect; both wore their
faces smooth. Although far removed from civilization, they kept
themselves provided with the means of shaving their cheeks. Perhaps
through indifference, their beards were sometimes allowed to grow for
weeks, but they made sure they were in presentable shape when they rode
into the trading post of St. Louis, with their peltries, and, receiving
pay therefor, joined their families in that frontier town.

The three men had been hunters and trappers for many years. Sometimes
they pursued their work alone, and sometimes in the company of others.
They trapped principally for beavers and otters, though they generally
bagged a few foxes and other fur-bearing animals. A hundred years ago,
there were numerous beaver runs in the central portions of our country,
and for a long time many men were employed in gathering their valuable
furs, hundred and thousands of which were brought from the mountain
streams and solitudes of the West to St. Louis, whence they were sent
eastward and distributed.

The trapper's pursuit has always been a severe one, for, aside from the
fierce storms, sudden changes, and violent weather, the men as a rule
were exposed to the rifles of lurking Indians, who resented the
intrusion of any one into their territory. And yet there was an
attraction about the solitary life, far beyond the confines of
civilization, which took men from their families and buried them in the
wilderness, frequently for years at a time. It is not difficult to
understand the fascination which kept Daniel Boone wandering for months
through the woods and cane-brakes of Kentucky, without a single
companion and with the Indians almost continually at his heels.

When Burt Hawkins and his two friends left St. Louis, late in summer or
early in the fall, each rode a mule or horse, besides having two pack
animals to carry their supplies and peltries. They followed some faintly
marked trail, made perhaps by the hoofs of their own animals, and did
not reach their destination for several weeks. When they halted, it was
among the tributaries of the Missouri, which have their rise in the
Ozark range in the present State of Missouri.

The traps and implements which from time to time were taken westward,
were not, as a matter of course, brought back, for that would have
encumbered their animals to no purpose. When warm weather approached and
the fur bearers began shedding their hair, the traps were gathered and
stowed away until needed again in the autumn. Then the skins that had
been taken from time to time through the winter, were brought forth and
strapped on the backs of the animals, and the journey homeward was
begun. There was no trouble for the trappers to "float their sticks,"
as the expression went; for the Northwest Fur Company and other wealthy
corporations had their agents in St. Louis and at other points, where
they were glad to buy at liberal prices all the peltries within reach.

No trapper was likely to accumulate wealth by the method named, but it
cost him little to live, and frequently during the summer he found some
other employment that brought return for his labor.

Hawkins, Kellogg and Crumpet were on their way home, having started a
little later than their custom, and they had reached the point referred
to on the preceding night, when they halted and went into camp. In the
morning, when they began to reload their animals, it was found that a
rifle belonging to Kit Kellogg was missing. It had been strapped on the
package which one of the mules carried, but had worked loose and fallen
unnoticed to the ground. It was too valuable to be abandoned, and Kit
and Crumpet started back to hunt for it. They went on foot, leaving the
animals cropping some succulent grass a short distance away.

The quadrupeds underwent a hard time during the winter, when grass was
scanty, so that such halts were appreciated by them. The spot where they
were grazing was far enough removed to screen them from the sight of
Deerfoot, when he was reconnoitering the camp. While two of the company
were hunting for the weapon, the third remained behind, smoking his
pipe, and, when the time came, prepared dinner against the return of the
other ones. The meat was good, but not so delicate as the beaver tails
on which they frequently feasted during the cold season.

It has been said more than once that the Indians along the western bank
of the Mississippi were less aggressive than those who so often
crimsoned the soil of Kentucky and Ohio with the blood of the pioneers.
Such was the truth, but those who were found on the very outermost
fringe of civilization, from far up toward the headwaters of the
Yellowstone down to the Gulf, were anything but harmless creatures. As
the more warlike tribes in the East were pushed over into that region,
they carried their vindictive natures with them, and the reader knows
too well the history of the great West to require anything further to
be said in that direction.

When Hawkins went to the beaver-runs with his friends in the autumn
preceding his meeting with Deerfoot, he had as his companions, besides
the two named, a third--Albert Rushton, who, like the others, was a
veteran trapper. One snowy day in mid-winter, when the weather was
unusually severe, he started on his round of his division of the traps
and never came back. His prolonged absence led to a search, and his dead
body was found beside one of the demolished traps. The bullet hole
through his forehead and the missing scalp that had been torn from his
crown, told plainly the manner of his death.

This was a shocking occurrence, but the fate of Rushton was that to
which every one of his friends was liable, and they did not sit down and
repine over what could not be helped. The saddest thought connected with
the matter was that one of the three must break the news to the invalid
wife, who lived with her two children in one of the frontier settlements
through which they passed on the way to St. Louis.

When Deerfoot told Hawkins the others were returning, the trapper
turned his head and saw that Kellogg had found the missing rifle. The
couple looked sharply at the warrior as they advanced, and evidently
were surprised to see him in camp. Kellogg and Crumpet were men in
middle life, strong limbed, sinewy and vigilant.

Deerfoot rose from the log whereon he was sitting, and extended his hand
to each in turn, as Hawkins pronounced his name. Kit Kellogg scrutinized
him and shook his hand with considerable warmth. Crumpet did the same,
though with less cordiality in his manner. It was plain (and plainer to
none than Deerfoot) that he was one of that numerous class of
frontiersmen who regard the American Indian as an unmitigated nuisance,
which, so far as possible, every white man should do his utmost to
abate. He had been engaged in more than one desperate encounter with
them and his hatred was of the most ferocious nature. It was not to be
expected, however, that his detestation would show itself without regard
to time and place. Kellogg and Hawkins watched him with some curiosity,
as he extended his horny hand and shook that of the handsome Indian
youth.

"You've heard of Deerfoot," added Burt, as he proceeded to divide the
enormous piece of meat into quarters; "he is the youngster that helped
Colonel Preston and his friends from the Wyandots at the time the
block-house was burned."

"How should we hear of it," asked Crumpet with a growl, "when we was on
this side of the Mississippi?"

"Wasn't I over in Kentucky about three years ago? I rather think I was,
and would have been froze to death with Simon Kenton and a few of the
other boys if it hadn't been for this copper-colored rascal--ain't that
so, Deerfoot?"

And that the young warrior might not err as to the one who was expected
to impart light on the subject, Burt gave him a resounding whack on the
shoulder that almost knocked him off the log. The youth was in the act
of conveying some of the meat to his mouth when saluted in that fashion,
and it came like the shock of an earthquake.

"Why can't you talk with a fellow," asked Kellogg, "without breaking his
neck?"

"Whose neck is broke?"

"Why that fellow's is pretty well jarred."

"Well, as long as _he_ don't object I don't see what it is to _you_,"
was the good-natured response of Hawkins, who resumed chewing the juicy
meat.

"Some of these days, somebody will give you a whack in return when you
ain't expecting it, and it will be a whack too that will cure you of
that sort of business. I believe, Deerfoot, that you are a Shawanoe,
ain't you?"

"Deerfoot is a Shawanoe," was the answer, his jaws at work on the food
just furnished him.

"I've heard tell of you; you're the chap that always uses a bow and
arrow instead of a gun?"

The youth answered the query by a nod of the head. As he did so, Tom
Crumpet, who sat further away, vigorously working his jaws, uttered a
contemptuous grunt. Kit turned his head and looked inquiringly at him.

"Maybe you think he can't use the bow and arrow. I s'pose, Deerfoot,
that's the bow you fired the arrow through the window of the block-house
that was nigh a hundred yards off, with a letter tied around it, and
fired it agin out on the flatboat with another piece of paper twisted
around it--isn't that so?"

Despite his loose-jointed sentences, Deerfoot caught his meaning well
enough to nod his head in the affirmative.

"Did you see it done?" asked Crumpet, with a grin at Hawkins.

"How could I see it when I wasn't there?"

"I guess no one else was there," growled Tom; "I've noticed whenever
that sort of business is going on it's always a good ways off, and the
people as sees it are the kind that don't amount to much in the way of
telling the truth."

These were irritating words, made more so by the contemptuous manner in
which they were spoken. Deerfoot clearly understood their meaning, but
he showed no offence because of them. He was not vain of his wonderful
skill in woodcraft, and, though he had a fiery temper, which sometimes
flashed to the surface, he could not be disturbed by any slurs upon his
attainments.

Kit Kellogg was impatient with his companion, but he knew him so well
that he did not discuss the matter. Had not the beard of Burt Hawkins
hidden his countenance, the others would have perceived the flush which
overspread it. He was angered, and said, hotly:

"It might do for some folks to say that other folks didn't tell the
truth, but I don't think _you're_ the one to say it."

Crumpet champed his meat in silence, using his hunting knife for fork
and knife, and drinking water from the tin cup which he had filled a
short distance away, and from which the others, excepting Deerfoot, also
drank. Instead of answering the slur of Hawkins, he acted as though he
did not fully catch his meaning, and did not care to learn. What he had
said, however, rankled in the heart of Burt, who, holding his peace
until all were through eating, addressed the surly fellow:

"If you doubt the skill of Deerfoot, I'll make you a wager that he can
outshoot you, you using your gun and he his bow and arrow, or you can
both use a gun."

"He might do all that," said Kellogg, with a twinkle of the eye, "and it
wouldn't prove that Tom was any sort of a marksman."

Crumpet was able to catch the meaning of that remark, and it goaded him
almost to the striking point.



CHAPTER XIX.

DEERFOOT'S WOODCRAFT.


Neither Deerfoot nor the trapper wished to engage in the trial of skill
suggested by Burt Hawkins. Crumpet feared that if such a test took place
he would be worsted, in which event he would never hear the last of it
from his friends. He might well shrink, therefore, from such a contest.

The Shawanoe knew he could surpass the trapper if he exerted himself, as
he most certainly would do. Crumpet's ill-nature would be embittered,
and matters were likely to take an unpleasant shape. When Hawkins turned
toward him, therefore, expecting him to bound to his feet and invite the
challenge, he shook his head:

"Deerfoot's arrows are few, and he saves them for game or his enemies."

"And therein is wise," added Kellogg, shrewd enough to see the situation
in all its bearings.

Crumpet said nothing, but was greatly relieved, while Hawkins gave a
sniff of disgust.

"Some folks are very free with their tongues, but when you come down to
business they ain't there; howsumever, let that go; we've got our extra
rifle, and I s'pose we might as well keep up the tramp toward St. Louis.
Deerfoot, can't you go with us?"

He shook his head, and said:

"Deerfoot is hunting for two friends who are lost; he must not sleep nor
tarry on the way."

"How is that?" asked Burt, while the others listened with interest. The
young Shawanoe told, in his characteristic manner, the story which is
already well known to the reader. While doing so he watched each
countenance closely, hoping (though he could give no reason for such
hope) to catch some sign of a shadowy knowledge of that for which he was
seeking, but he was disappointed.

"One thing is sartin," remarked Burt Hawkins, when the story was fully
told, "them boys ain't dead."

"I agree with you," said Kellogg, with an emphatic nod of the head, in
which even the surly Crumpet joined. Deerfoot was surprised at this
unanimity, and inquired of Hawkins his reason for his belief.

"'Cause it's agin common sense; when two young men go out in the woods
to hunt game, both of 'em ain't going to get killed: that isn't the
fashion now-a-days. One of 'em might be hurt, but if that was so, and
the other couldn't get away, the Injins would take him off and keep him.
More than likely the varmints carried away both, and if you make a good
hunt for three or four thousand miles around, you'll get track of 'em."

"I think I know a better plan than that," said Kellogg, and, as the
others looked inquiringly toward him, he said, "both of them chaps have
been took by Injins who'll keep them awhile. One of these days the boys
will find a chance to give 'em the slip, and they'll leave on some dark
night and strike for home."

"It isn't likely both 'll have a show to do that at the same time," said
Crumpet, speaking with more courtesy than he had yet shown, and
manifesting much interest in the matter.

"No; one will have to leave a good while before the other, and then the
one that is left will be watched that much sharper, but all he's got to
do is to bide his time."

"When one of my brothers comes through the woods to his home, the other
will come with him," said Deerfoot, confident as he was that neither
Jack Carleton nor Otto Relstaub would desert the other, when placed in
any kind of danger.

Deerfoot was confirmed in his theory of the disappearance of his young
friends, for it agreed with what he had formed after leaving the
settlement that morning. But, admitting it was the correct theory, the
vast difficulty of locating the boys still confronted him. They might be
journeying far southward in the land of the Creeks and Chickasaws, or to
the homes of the Dacotah in the frozen north, or westward toward the
Rocky Mountains.

Kellogg and Crumpet now fell into an earnest discussion of the question,
for, though agreeing in the main, they differed on minor points, in
which each was persistent in his views. Deerfoot listened to every word,
for, like a wise man, he was anxious to gain all the knowledge he could
from others.

But he noticed that for several minutes Burt Hawkins took no part in the
conversation. He had sat down again on the log, thrown one leg over
another, and was slowly stroking his handsome beard, while his gaze was
fixed on the ground in front. He was evidently in deep thought.

Such was the fact, and just as the lull came, he reached his conclusion.
Deliberately rising to his full height, he walked over to where Deerfoot
stood, and with another slap on his shoulder, said:

"See here, young man!"

The warrior faced him, earnest, attentive, and interested. Burt shifted
the weight of his body, so that it rested on his right leg; he looked
down in the eyes of Deerfoot, his brow wrinkled as in the case when a
man is about to deliver himself of the most important and original
thoughts of his life. Then he began wabbling the index finger of his
right hand in the face of the warrior, as a man with the important and
original thought is inclined to do. He commenced to wabble quite slowly,
gradually increasing the amplitude of the vibrations, and passing his
finger so close to the countenance of the Shawanoe that it seemed
almost to graze the end of his nose. He spoke slowly, pointing his words
with his swaying finger:

"Deerfoot, I've got the question answered; listen to me: them boys have
been tooken away by Injins; I know it; now where have the Injins gone?
You ought to know as much about your race as me, but you don't; do what
I tell you; go to the south till you come to some Injin village; make
your inquiries there; if they haven't got the boys, they'll know whether
the tribe that took 'em passed through their country, 'cause they
couldn't very well do so without some of their warriors finding it out.
If none of them don't know nothing about no such party, you can make up
your mind you're barking up the wrong tree; then take an excursion west
and do the same thing; then, if you don't learn anything, try toward the
north; there ain't any use in going eastward, for common sense will
teach you they haint been tooken that way; a chap with your good sense
will pick up some clue that'll show you the way through."

"My brother speaks the words of wisdom," said Deerfoot, who was much
impressed by the utterances of the trapper: "Deerfoot will not forget
what he has said; he will carry his words with him and they shall be his
guide; Deerfoot says good-bye."

And with a courteous salute to the three, the young warrior walked a few
steps, broke into a light run, and was out of sight before his intention
was fairly understood. The trappers looked in each others' faces,
laughed, made some characteristic remarks, and then turned to their own
business.

Deerfoot the Shawanoe had determined to follow the advice given by Burt
Hawkins the trapper. It certainly was singular that such an
extraordinary woodman as the Indian should profit by the counsel of a
white man, even though he was a veteran; but Deerfoot had studied the
problem so long that his brain was confused, and, having fixed his own
line of conduct, he only needed the endorsement of some sturdy character
like the hunter. He had received that endorsement, and now he could not
use too much haste.

His intention was to journey rapidly southward, in the direction of the
present State of Arkansas, until he should reach some of the Indian
villages that were there a hundred years ago. He would push his
inquiries among them, just as Burt Hawkins had suggested, pressing the
search in other directions, until able to pick up some clue. After that,
it would be an easy matter to determine the line of policy that would
lead to success.

Any one engaged in such a task as that on which the young Shawanoe had
entered, needs to take all the observations he can, for the knowledge
thus gained is sure to be of great help. The Indian scanned the country
opening to the southward, and, as was his custom, turned his face toward
the first elevation which would give him the view he was so desirous of
obtaining.

The elevation was similar to those with which the reader became familiar
long ago, and the sun had not yet reached the horizon when the lithe
warrior had climbed to the crest of the ridge, and was scanning the
wilderness which opened to the south and west. He was in a region where
he was warranted in looking for Indian villages, and his penetrating
eyes traveled over the area with a minuteness of search hardly
imaginable by the reader. The country was so broken by mountain, hill,
and wood, that the survey was much less extended than would be supposed.
He was disappointed in one respect, however: he could detect no Indian
village in the whole range of vision.

But, besides the dim smoke from the camp he had left a short time
before, he observed another to the westward, and a third to the south;
he concluded to make his way to the last, though he half suspected it
was the camp of another party of trappers, from whom he could not gather
the first morsel of information.

Deerfoot pushed toward the valley, less than a mile distant, from which
the tell-tale vapor ascended, and was quite close to the camp, when he
became aware that an altogether unexpected state of affairs existed.
Despite his usual caution, his approach was detected, and the Shawanoe
found himself in no little peril.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to make clear how it was Deerfoot
discovered this singular state of affairs; but he was more than a
hundred yards from the camp, which was screened by a dense undergrowth
and rocks, when he stopped abruptly, warned to do so by that subtle
instinct which is like a sixth sense.

He did not leap behind a tree, nor fall on his face and creep to the
rear of the large boulder on his right, but he stood erect, using the
faculties of hearing and sight with a delicate power and unerring skill
which were marvelous in the highest degree.

The black eyes glanced around, as he slowly turned his head from side to
side, and he saw everything in front, rear, at his right, left, and
above, among the limbs and on the ground. He heard the silken rustling
of several leaves in the top of a beach overhead, and he knew it was
caused by one of those slight puffs of wind which make themselves known
in that manner.

The inhalation through his nostrils brought the faint odor of the elm,
the oak, the hickory, the chestnut, the sycamore, and the resinous pine.
He identified them, I say, as well as the peculiar and indescribable
odor given off by the decaying leaves, the mossy rocks, and even the
rotting twigs and branches; but among them all he detected nothing of a
foreign nature.

But it was his hearing upon which he mainly depended, though his eyes
were forced to their highest skill. When the pinnated leaf of a hickory
was shaken loose by the wind puff it had hardly floated from its stem
before he caught sight of it, and followed it in its downward course
until it fluttered slowly to the ground.

It may be said that the danger which threatened Deerfoot was "in the
air," if it be conceivable that there is anything in the expression. He
was as certain of it as he was of his own existence, and yet he stood
motionless, displaying an incredible confidence in his ability to
discover the nature of the peril before it could take effective shape.

Had he leaped lightly behind a tree, he might have placed himself on the
side which would have left him exposed to the stealthy shot; had he
dropped to the ground and crept to one side of the moss-covered boulder,
the same fatal mistake was likely to be made. Therefore he stood as
rigid as iron, until he could learn the direction from which he was
threatened.

A rustling no louder than that made by the oscillation of a falling leaf
came from a point some distance ahead and on his right. So soft indeed
was the sound that it cannot be explained how the human ear could be
trained to the point of hearing it.

But it was that for which Deerfoot the Shawanoe was waiting, and it gave
him the knowledge he sought.



CHAPTER XX.

SAUK AND SHAWANOE.


At the instant the almost inaudible rustling struck the ear of Deerfoot
the Shawanoe, he caught sight of a rifle barrel as it was thrust among
the undergrowth and aimed at him. It was the faintest possible sound,
caused by the pushing aside of the leaves which he heard, and which he
was expecting for a full minute to hear. The lightning-like glance cast
toward the point showed him the dark barrel, and the ferocious gleam of
the face of an Indian, crouching on one knee just beyond.

The warrior who aimed the weapon meant to send the bullet through the
chest of the youth, whose approach, stealthy as it was, he had detected.
The distance was so slight that the briefest possible time was required
to make his aim certain; but while in the very act of doing so, the
sinewy youth vanished like a puff of vapor.

The savage was dumfounded, for nothing of the kind had ever occurred, so
far as his experience went, and it was unexplainable to him. He had used
the proverbial caution of his people, and he knew from the expectant
position of the youth that his suspicions were excited, but he could not
comprehend by what means he had passed so suddenly from sight. The red
man was in the very act of pressing the trigger when he discovered he
was not aiming at any target.

If the Indian tongue contained an execration, it may well be imagined
that a most vigorous one escaped the lips of the baffled redskin, who
was shut out from his prize at the moment of closing his fingers upon
it.

The warrior was a brawny, full-grown Indian, almost in middle life, who
had sunk on one knee and brought his gun to his shoulder, after briefly
studying the form which had approached his lurking place. He had never
seen the stranger until that moment, and he only knew that he belonged
to some totem unknown to him. It was probable that his home was on the
eastern shore of the Mississippi, and he resented the intrusion upon his
hunting grounds as he did that of a white man: consequently he was as
quick to take the life of one as of the other.

Finding that his intended victim had disappeared beyond all question,
the next step of the fierce assassin was to solve the meaning of the
unaccountable occurrence. He noiselessly straightened up, and craning
his head forward peeped through the undergrowth. All that he saw was the
huge boulder or rock, within a few feet of where the youth had been
standing. It followed, therefore that he had flung himself behind it,
and was hiding there at that moment.

The painted visage glowed with a baleful light, for he was assured his
triumph was postponed only for a few moments. The boulder might serve as
a shelter while the relative positions of the two were the same, but it
was in the power of the savage to change that by putting forth only
moderate skill.

Taking care not to reveal himself, he began a guarded movement to the
right, his course being the same as if starting to describe a circle
about the hiding place. It will be seen that if he could accomplish this
without exposing himself to the fire of the other, he would not need to
go far before gaining a view of the opposite side of the boulder, and
necessarily of him who was seeking to screen himself from discovery. To
do this, however, the victim must remain where he was, for manifestly,
if he shifted his position correspondingly, he would continue invisible,
but he counted himself fortunate that he had noticed the peculiar
configuration of the boulder, which rendered such a man[oe]uvre beyond
the power of an ordinary warrior. As for himself, he had no personal
fear, for the trees were so numerous that he could use them to shield
his body while leaping from one to the other, while in many places he
could steal along the ground without the possibility of detection.

If the fool had but known the woodcraft of the youth against whom he was
so eager to pit himself, he would have turned and fled from the spot as
from a plague; but he had never heard the name of Deerfoot, and little
dreamed of the skill of the extraordinary youth.

The warrior stooped, crept, leaped, and stole through the wood with a
celerity that was astonishing. Within a very short time after beginning
the movement, he had described one-fourth of the circle and gained the
view he wished. It must be remembered, too, that he had kept the boulder
under such close surveillance as to be morally certain the youth could
not shift his position without being observed.

But to his amazement he saw nothing of his victim. The flat slope and
the leafy ground were free from anything resembling a human being. He
stood peering from behind the tree, and at his wit's end to know what it
meant. He held his rifle so that the hammer could be raised the moment
the necessity came, and he must have felt that the wiser course was for
him to leave the spot without further search.

Probably such would have been his course had he not heard a most
alarming sound directly behind him. It was the faint cough of a person
seeking to clear his throat. The Indian turned like a flash, and saw the
dusky youth a rod distant, holding his bow loosely in his right hand,
while his terrible left was drawn back over his shoulder, the fingers
clenching the handle of his tomahawk. His position was precisely that of
one who was on the very point of launching the deadly missile which
would have cloven the skull, as though made of card-board. He had taken
the posture, and then uttered the slight cough with a view of "calling
the attention" of the party of the first part to the fact, and he
succeeded. The elder was in the position of the hunter who while seeking
the tiger awoke to the fact that the tiger was seeking him.

The warrior, whose face was daubed with red, black and yellow paint, was
literally struck dumb. He had been engaged in many an encounter with
strange Indians, but never had the affray been introduced in a more
favorable manner to himself, and never had he been more utterly
overwhelmed.

He saw that the youth was merely holding his tomahawk; the very second
it was needed, he could drive it into his chest or brain. He was too
proud to ask for mercy, for he had no thought it would be granted. He
could only face his master and await his doom.

Deerfoot was not the one to prolong the wretchedness of another, no
matter if his most deadly enemy. He stood with his left foot slightly
advanced and his muscles gathered, so that he did not require the
slightest preparation, and, having held the pose just long enough to
make sure it had produced its full effect, he slowly lowered the
tomahawk, keeping his eyes fixed on his enemy. When the weapon was at
his side, he said:

"The Sauk is a wolf; he steals behind the hunter that he may leap on his
shoulders when he sleeps; but the hunter heard the sound of his claws on
the leaves and turned upon him."

These words were uttered in the mongrel tongue of the Sauk, for
Deerfoot, after a careful inspection of the painted warrior, was quite
sure he belonged to that restless and warlike tribe. He had encountered
the people before, though at rare intervals, and he had hunted with a
pioneer who was familiar with the tongue. The youth detected so many
resemblances to other aboriginal languages with which he was familiar
that he quickly mastered it and could speak it like a native.

The warrior, as has been said, was a brawny savage, well on toward
middle life. He was attired in the usual fashion among the Indians, his
dress looking slouchy and untidy. His straggling black hair, instead of
being ornamented with eagle feathers, was gathered in a knot, so as to
form what is often called a scalp-lock, and to proclaim the fact that
the wearer of the same challenged any one to take it if he could.
Besides his long rifle, he carried his knife and tomahawk, after the
manner of his people. He would have proved a dangerous foe in a
hand-to-hand struggle, but he was deprived of whatever advantage he
might have possessed by being taken at such overwhelming disadvantage.

He caught every word uttered by Deerfoot, who had not mistaken his
totem. He had no thought that the youth intended to show him mercy, but
believed he was indulging in a little preliminary sermonizing--so to
speak--before claiming his scalp for the ridge-pole of his wigwam.

The words of Deerfoot served to awaken the Sauk from his paralysis, and,
throwing his head back, he said:

"The Sauk is no wolf; the Shawanoe is the fox that steals upon the
hunting grounds of the Sauks."

"The lands that stretch to the rising and setting sun belong not to the
Shawanoe nor Sauk nor Huron, but the Great Spirit, who loves his
children to chase the buffalo and hunt the deer and bear where they can
be found; but why should the Sauk and the Shawanoe be enemies?"

And to give point to the question, Deerfoot advanced and offered his
hand. The Sauk concealed his surprise and gave the fingers a warm grasp,
but while doing so each looked distrustfully in the face of the other.
The frightful stains on the broad face of the elder did not alarm
Deerfoot, who had seen much more frightful countenances among his own
people. He gazed calmly into the eyes of the warrior, as the two stood
close together with their hands clasped. The Indian is an adept in
concealing whatever emotions may stir him, but Deerfoot saw the savage
was puzzled over his action. He could not but know that the Shawanoes
were the most warlike Indians in the Mississippi Valley, and one of the
last weaknesses of which they could be accused was that of showing mercy
to an enemy.

One point was necessary for Deerfoot to establish. If the Sauk was
alone, nothing was to be feared from him; but if he had brother warriors
within call, the youth had need to be on his guard.

"Why does the brother of Deerfoot hunt the woods alone?" asked the
young Shawanoe, introducing himself in this characteristic fashion.

"Because Hay-uta fears not to go everywhere alone; from the ridge-pole
of his wigwam flutter the scalps of the Shawanoes, the Hurons, the
Foxes, the Osages, and the strange red man whom he has met and slain in
the forest."

The old nature in Deerfoot prompted him to take this vaunting warrior to
task. The answer of the Sauk was indefinite, but the youth could wait a
few minutes for the information he sought.

"Hay-uta, the Man-Who-Runs-Without-Falling, has not taken the scalp of
Deerfoot, _and cannot do so_!"

The flash of the eye which accompanied these words added to their force.
Before they could receive reply the youth added:

"Hay-uta is a brave man when he talks to squaws; less than twenty great
suns have passed over the head of Deerfoot, but he is not afraid of the
Man-Who-Runs-Without-Falling."

Indian nature is quick to resent such taunts, and beyond a doubt the hot
blood flushed the skin beneath the paint. Deerfoot noted the glitter of
the eye, and a twitch of the muscles of the arm whose hand rested on the
knife, as he made answer:

"The Shawanoe is a dog that crept up behind the Sauk, without giving him
warning; the rattlesnake speaks, but the Shawanoe does not."

Deerfoot was angered by these words because they were untrue.

"The Shawanoe was walking through the wood, when the Great Spirit
whispered, 'Take care; a snake is crawling through the grass; he is
called Hay-uta; he will strike his fangs through the moccasin of
Deerfoot, unless he crushes him with his heel; Hay-uta was not brave,
because he hid behind a tree, and he pointed his gun through the bushes,
meaning to shoot the Shawanoe before he could chant a word of his
death-song.'"

This charge was an exasperating one, and instantly raised the anger of
the warrior to white heat.

"The dog of a Shawanoe holds his tomahawk and bow; let him lay them
aside as Hay-uta does his weapon, and then it shall be shown who is the
brave warrior."

It was a curious fact that while this wrathful conversation was going
on, the couple had been steadily backing away from each other. The act
showed that in spite of the token of comity that had just passed between
them, they were mutually so suspicious as to be ready to fly at each
other. The last taunt forced the quarrel to the exploding point.
Deerfoot slipped the cord which held the quiver of arrows in place over
his head, by a motion so quick as scarcely to be perceptible, flung his
bow a rod from him, tossed his tomahawk a dozen feet away, and whipping
out his hunting-knife, grasped it with his left hand, and defiantly
confronted the Sauk, who was scarcely behind him in taking up the gauge
of battle.



CHAPTER XXI.

CHRISTIAN AND PAGAN.


The North American Indian is treacherous by nature, and will take any
advantage over a foe, no matter what its nature. The Sauk had failed to
bring down Deerfoot by the same unscrupulous means he had employed in
other instances, but he was on the watch to repeat his tactics.

When uttering the taunt which brought about the personal collision, he
flung his gun from him, and seized the handle of his tomahawk, as if
with the purpose of throwing that also aside, the manner of his
challenge implying that he meant the battle should be fought with the
knives alone. Even the sagacious Deerfoot did not suspect him for the
moment, when, on the point of grasping his knife, as he did when defying
Tecumseh, the Sauk drew back his tomahawk and hurled it with incredible
swiftness at the head of Deerfoot. There was a vicious spitefulness in
the act which sent the missile as if fired from a gun.

Nothing could have attested the Shawanoe's miraculous activity and
quickness of eye so clearly as did the ease with which he dodged the
weapon. The flirt of his head was like that of the loon which dives
below the path of the bullet after it sees the flash of the gun. The
tomahawk struck the ground, went end over end, flinging the dirt and
leaves about, and after ricocheting a couple of times, whirled against
the trunk of a small sapling and stopped.

The act placed the two on the same footing. Each held only his
hunting-knife. The treachery of the Sauk took place without a word being
spoken either by himself or his foe. It was unnecessary, for there could
be nothing to say.

Having avoided the tomahawk, Deerfoot advanced upon Hay-uta with his
knife grasped in his left hand, while the Sauk did precisely the same
thing as regarded him.

They were stripped for the fight, and were in deadly earnest. The Sauk
had learned of the panther-like agility of the Shawanoe, and he knew no
light task was before him. It would not be child's play to wrench the
scalp-lock from the crown of the handsome warrior who was not afraid of
any man, but Hay-uta was warranted in feeling a strong confidence in his
own strength and prowess.

The warriors approached each other with the watchfulness of a couple of
gladiators, seeking each others' lives for the sake of giving amusement
to a Roman populace. Both slightly crouched, with their heads bent
forward, their eyes fixed, while they stepped softly about, seeking an
opening into which the keenly-pointed hunting knife might be driven with
a furious vigor, that would render a second blow useless.

The situation was one where the slightest forgetfulness or mishap would
prove fatal to him who made it. Both realized the fact, and did their
utmost to guard against it.

When a couple of yards separated the combatants, they approached no
closer, but began slowly circling around each other in the same stealthy
fashion. The action of the Sauk convinced Deerfoot that his enemy had no
friends in that section, for, if any were within call, he would have
summoned them before the quarrel had gone so far. He could have called
any one to his help by signal, and neglect to do so was proof that there
was none to summon. Had Hay-uta done anything of the kind, Deerfoot
would have leaped upon him and ended the battle in a twinkling.

Partly around, and then back again, the two seemed to oscillate, their
motions corresponding so closely that it was as if both were moved by
the same delicate machinery between them.

Suddenly Deerfoot feinted, like a skillful boxer, with the hand which
grasped his knife. The vigilant Sauk was equally quick to parry and
counter. He was as spry as a cat, and never once took his burning eyes
from the face of the hated youth. Then he feinted in turn, and the
Shawanoe, by his action, showed he was prepared for any demonstration,
no matter what.

These preliminaries continued several minutes, when Deerfoot, in moving
to the left, caught the toe of his moccasin in some obstruction and
stumbled. He threw up his arms, as one will instinctively do, and for a
single second was off his guard, though he recovered with incredible
quickness. Any spectator of the strange combat would have given a gasp
of terror, for the instant the stumble took place, the Sauk bounded
forward with upraised knife and brought it down with a sweep like that
of a panther's paw.

But what seemed an accident on the part of Deerfoot was done with
deliberate intent. He wearied of the idle circling, and, confident of
his own ability to outwit his antagonist, he dropped his guard for the
very purpose of drawing out the other. Hay-uta was so certain of his own
triumph that he made the mistake which the skillful fighter never makes;
he drew upon his own strength and self-poise by emitting a shout of
exultation; but the downward sweeping arm clove vacancy only, and ere he
could recover he was struck in the chest by the head of Deerfoot, who
butted him with the force of a Japanese wrestler, sending the warrior
several feet over on his back. The shock was so unexpected, as well as
tremendous, that the knife flew from his hand, and he nearly fainted
from sheer weakness.

Inasmuch as Deerfoot was able to butt him in that style, it will be
admitted that it would have been equally easy for him to have buried his
knife to the hilt in the body of his enemy, but he chose not to do so.
Instead, he quietly picked up the weapon and held one in each hand,
while the Sauk was entirely disarmed. The latter had been frightfully
jarred. The blow in the stomach fairly lifted him off his feet and drove
the wind from his lungs. He lay for a moment, with his lips compressed,
his body griped with pain, and with no more ability to defend himself
than an infant. He kept his black eyes fixed on the youthful conqueror
while writhing, and the latter stood off several paces and calmly
confronted him, as though viewing the natural phase of such a contest.

But the Sauk was quick to recover, and his old enmity seemed to blaze up
with ten-fold intensity.

"The Shawanoe is a buffalo," said he, from behind his gleaming paint;
"he fights like the buffalo when his foe is stronger and braver than
he."

Deerfoot flung the knife of the warrior to him.

"The Shawanoe will fight as a buffalo no more; he will now use his
knife; let the Sauk do what he can."

A brave warrior could take no exception to this declaration, accompanied
as it was by such significant action; but it cannot be conceived that
the Sauk was free from misgiving, when knowing, as he did, that he held
the position of contestant only through the grace of his youthful
antagonist, who a moment before could have pierced his heart with his
hunting knife.

Having displayed the character of a battering ram, Deerfoot now assumed
another.

"The Sauk is afraid of Deerfoot; he dare not attack him until he
stumbles; Deerfoot's heart was oppressed with pity when he saw the fear
of Hay-uta, and he stumbled that it might give Hay-uta the courage the
Great Spirit did not give him."

These were taunting words, but, convinced they were spoken with the
purpose of disturbing his self-possession, the Sauk only compressed his
lips the tighter, and held himself ready to seize the first chance that
presented itself. His recent experience had taught him a lesson which he
could not forget.

Bending his knees until he assumed a crouching posture, the Sank
centered his burning gaze on the face of Deerfoot, drew back his lips
until his white teeth showed like those of a wild cat, and uttered a
tremulous, sibilant sound, as if he were a serpent ready to burst with
venom.

If he meant to frighten Deerfoot he failed, for the mishap of the Sauk
was too recent to allow such impression to be made. The figure of the
crouching warrior was startling in its hideousness, but there was never
a moment from the opening of the singular contest, when the young
Shawanoe did not feel secure in his mastery of the situation.

The feinting and retreating went on several minutes longer, when all at
once Deerfoot caught an expression, which the paint on the face of his
antagonist could not hide, that showed he had resolved on forcing the
fight to a conclusion. A couple of quick feints followed, and then
Hay-uta leaped forward, meaning to force Deerfoot to the earth. Had the
Shawanoe remained quiet, such would have been the result, but he was too
supple to be entangled in that manner. He withdrew, so that when his
enemy landed on the spot, he found himself still confronted by the
defiant youth, who had recoiled but the single step necessary to escape
the blow. Hay-uta, without a second's pause, bounded toward him again,
and brought down his right arm like a flash; but, as before, it cleft
the empty air, and the youth confronted him with his shadowy smile and
defiant expression.

Then, as if feeling he had retreated far enough, the Shawanoe advanced
on his muscular foe, who drew back as if to brace himself for the
assault. Deerfoot uttered no sound, but when he bounded lightly from the
ground, Hay-uta knew the crisis had come; the trifling had ended.

The Shawanoe, when close enough to strike, made a dozen circular sweeps
of his good left hand, as though he had rested it on the rim of a wheel
that was spinning with bewildering swiftness. No eye could follow the
knife in its circlings. There was one smooth gleam like the polished
periphery of the "driver" of a locomotive.

The foes, as is always the case, looked straight in each other's eyes,
but every limb and portion of the body, being in the field of vision,
was clearly seen. The peculiar act of Deerfoot produced the effect
intended. The vision of Hay-uta became confused and dizzy, and before he
could rally the Shawanoe struck his blow.

He could have killed the other as easily as he would have slain a bear,
but he chose not to do so. Instead, he brought his fist down on the
upper part of his right wrist with a quick violence, which, for the
second time, knocked the knife from the grasp of the more sinewy
warrior. So deftly was the trick done that the weapon of the Sauk flew a
dozen feet straight up in the air, turning rapidly end over end and
falling between the two.

[Illustration: DEERFOOT'S VICTORY.]

If Hay-uta was subject to the will of Deerfoot a minute before, it will
be seen that now he was helpless. He had been again disarmed, while the
lithe youth still grasped his own weapon with the power to drive it home
whenever he so willed.

The last act of Deerfoot accomplished its purpose. Hay-uta at first was
self-confident; again, he was hopeful; but the latter time he was
disarmed, his confidence vanished. He saw that much as he had despised
the youth whose life he sought, he was his inferior in every respect. He
was no match for him in a fight, nor could he approach him in his
peerless woodcraft. The question of supremacy was settled forever.

Slowly recoiling a couple of steps, he folded his arms, and, with a
dignity that was touching, said, in a slow, deliberate voice, with his
softened gaze fixed on the countenance of his conqueror:

"Hay-uta is a dog whose teeth have fallen out; he can fight no more; he
is ashamed to go back to his people; the son of a pale face who is
there, when he learns the truth, will point his finger at him and laugh;
Hay-uta cannot go to his lodge; let Deerfoot bury his knife in his
heart!"

"Deerfoot seeks not the life of Hay-uta; had he wished it, he could have
had it long ago; but Deerfoot is a Christian; he will do Hay-uta no
harm."



CHAPTER XXII.

AN ABORIGINAL SERMON.


If Hay-uta the Sauk had been astonished by the action of his youthful
conqueror, he was now more astonished by his words; but the former in a
measure prepared him for the latter, and he saw why it was the
remarkable warrior had refused to take his life when the opportunity had
been his, and when too he knew that he whom he was fighting would show
him no mercy.

Hay-uta, like many of his people, had listened to the words of the
missionaries--those strange people who underwent hunger, thirst, and
suffering that they might preach the Word of Life to those who had never
heard of that wonderful Being that died to save a lost world, and who
taught that forgiveness, kindness, and love were the duty of every one.
Hay-uta, I say, had listened to the words of those people, but only to
turn away with a scornful smile, for he was sure the creed was one to
which the American Indian could never give his faith.

The red man remembered that those priests and missionaries called
themselves Christians, and lo! the most skillful warrior upon whom he
had ever looked, now stood before him and declared that he too was a
Christian. Not only that, but he proved it by his works, for he refused
to tear the reeking scalp from the head of his enemy, when that enemy
was vanquished!

Once more Deerfoot picked the knife of Hay-uta from the ground and
handed it (the point toward himself) to the Sauk. The latter accepted it
and pushed it back in place behind the girdle that spanned his waist.
Then at a signal from Deerfoot he recovered his rifle and tomahawk, as
Deerfoot did his hatchet and bow and quiver. Without a word, the two
walked the short distance to camp, Hay-uta slightly in the lead.

The camp was of the simplest character, consisting of a pile of sticks,
leaves, and branches which served as a couch, beside furnishing fuel for
the fire when he cooked his food. A long, heavy blanket was partly
folded and lying on the heap of branches, where it had served as a
pillow for the warrior, who was different from most of his people in
using that artificial help to slumber.

The water, which is such a necessity for parties halting in the
wilderness, was obtained from a tiny stream that trickled down the rocks
just beyond, after which it sank out of sight in the mountain to
reappear at some point far removed. The wood and undergrowth that
surrounded the camp of the Sauk were very close and dense, so that the
view in every direction was shut off, unless one should climb the
tallest tree and take his survey from that perch.

When Hay-uta halted in front of his camp-fire he turned about and
extended his hand to Deerfoot.

"Will Deerfoot tell Hay-uta about the Great Spirit of the white man?"

"He is the Great Spirit of the red man as well as of the white," replied
the Shawanoe, seating himself on the ground, where he was opposite the
Sauk, who slowly resumed his seat on the pile of sticks and branches.
"He loves all his children--him with the face of the night, the Miami,
the Huron, the Shawanoe, the Delaware, the Sauk and Fox, the white man,
and all those who live far beyond the great water which rolls against
the shores of our land. He loves them all, and He hides his face with
grief when he sees them quarrel and try to kill each other. If His
children will do as He tells them to do, they will be happy in this
world and in the hunting grounds where they shall live forever."

Hay-uta remembered that this agreed with what he had heard the
missionaries say, but he recalled also that there was something more.

"Where does the Great Spirit that Deerfoot tells me about live?"

The Shawanoe pointed reverently upward.

"Far beyond the clouds, the sun, and the stars; He lives there, and
there all shall go who do His will. A long time ago, before the white
men came across the great water, He sent His Son from Heaven to earth;
the Son went about doing good, and died, to save those He loved from
sorrow and death."

"Deerfoot tells me what the Great Spirit says to him; how does he hear
the Great Spirit speak?"

Without changing his half-reclining posture, the Shawanoe drew forth his
small Bible from the inner pocket of his hunting shirt, the other
watching with amazement the action. Opening the sacred volume, he read
in his low, musical voice:

"'Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

"'Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

"'Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of
God.

"'Ye have heard that it has been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor, and
hate thine enemy:

"'But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do
good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use
you, and persecute you.'"

Deerfoot read these extracts from the Sermon on the Mount, with which he
was so familiar that he could have repeated it all without looking at
the printed page. Then raising his eyes to the wondering face of
Hay-uta, he added:

"Let my brother listen, for these are the words of the Great Spirit,
which he speaks to all his children; if they will obey, there shall be
no unhappiness in the world:

"'_Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to
you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets._'"

The Sauk warrior was never so stirred in all his life. He had seen white
men read from books, and he held a misty idea of how it was done, but he
never knew one of his own race who could interpret the meaning of the
curious figures made by some incomprehensible means on paper.

It was impossible that he should grasp the height and depth of that
sublime utterance, which is of itself the very essence of the Christian
religion; but they were as clear as sunlight to Deerfoot, who had
pondered them many a time since he sat at the feet of good Mrs. Preston,
who presented him with the Word of Life.

Closing the Book and putting it away, he proceeded to preach his sermon
to the Sauk warrior. Deerfoot assumed the sitting position, and used
both hands in his frequent gestures. Hay-uta reclined on his side,
supporting himself on one elbow, while he fixed his eyes on his teacher
and drank in every word.

"The Great Spirit made all people--the white, the red, the black man,
and him whose face is the color of the breast of Deerfoot's hunting
shirtfor there are men whose skins are yellow, and others who are
brown. He wishes them to live like brothers, but they do not. More of
the pale faces are evil than good; they use the red men ill, and the red
man loves to fight his enemies, but they grieve the Great Spirit. Let
Hay-uta pray to the Great Spirit; let him never lie down or rise without
talking to Him; let him stay his hand when it would strike a blow in
anger; let him forgive his foes; let him seek to do the will of the
Great Spirit, and a sweet peace shall fill his heart, such as he never
knew before. Let my brother do that; let him tell the good news to his
friends; let him listen to the words of the missionaries and talk to his
people.

"The father of Deerfoot was a chief of the Shawanoes, who loved to
fight; Deerfoot when a child was a wildcat in his hate of his enemies
and of the pale faces; but the Great Spirit whispered in his ear, and he
became another being. It was the Great Spirit who told him just now that
danger threatened him. Hay-uta knows that Deerfoot could have slain him
had he wished to do so; but he never wished him ill; he first showed him
he was his master, that Hay-uta might listen to his words; will my
brother forget what Deerfoot has said to him?"

Every being, whether groping in the night of barbarism or walled in by
the skepticism of an advanced civilization, has felt at one time or
another, an irrestrainable longing to draw aside the veil which shuts
out the great hereafter, and solve the mystery of the life that is to
come. Many a time is the heart stirred to its uttermost depths by the
chastening hand of affliction, or when gazing on the glories of the
stars and firmament, or when listening to the meanings of the vast deep,
the soft sighing of the winds in the forest, or the lisping prayer of
infancy. No proof of the immortality of the soul can equal that of its
very yearning for immortality, and dim, strange, half-heard whisperings
of the Beyond become voices more convincing than all the scientific
scoffing and brilliant ridicule of those whose learning carries them
beyond the trusting faith of childhood, and stops just short of the
grandeur of the light of perfect knowledge.

When Deerfoot addressed his question to the Sauk warrior, the latter did
not answer, but continued gazing into his face as though he heard not
the words, and his thoughts were far away. The Shawanoe was wise enough
to suspect the truth, and refrained from repeating the question. He,
too, held his peace, and for several minutes the strange scene lasted.
The two Indians looked at each other without speaking.

Meanwhile the afternoon was drawing to a close, and darkness was
creeping through the forest. The camp-fire had burned so low that it
gave out no light, and the figures of the warriors began to grow
indistinct.

Deerfoot felt that he had sowed the seed, and he had only to wait for it
to bear fruit. He arose, and stepping closer to the fire, stirred it
until it gave forth a flame which lit up the surrounding gloom. Still
Hay-uta remained motionless and silent.

Perhaps it has not escaped the notice of the reader that when the Sauk
stood with folded arms before his conqueror, and asked him to bury his
knife in his heart, he said that the son of the pale face would point
the finger of scorn at him. Deerfoot noticed the curious words, and he
felt that the moment had come when he should learn their full meaning.

"Where is the village of my brother?" he asked in his gentle way.

The Sauk aroused himself and slowly rose to his feet. Glancing through
the firelight at his questioner, he pointed to the west.

"Two suns' journey away is the home of Hay-uta. There are his squaw and
pappoose. He left them two suns ago to hunt for the scalps of his
enemies; but he will hunt no more; he will go home, and on his way will
think of the words that Deerfoot has said to him."

"It is well he should do so; but my brother spoke of the son of the pale
face. Why is he in the village of the Sauks?"

"He was brought there in the last moon; the Sauks found two pale faces
in the woods."

"Where is the other?"

"Some of the Sauks took him by another path; Hay-uta knows not where he
is."

"Was harm done him?"

"Hay-uta cannot answer."

"Tell me of the pale face that is in the village of the Sauks with my
brother."

The warrior, assisted by the questions of Deerfoot, who kept down the
deep interest he felt, told all he knew. When he had finished, as the
reader may well suspect, Deerfoot was sure he had gained most important
knowledge. He was satisfied beyond all doubt that the prisoner in the
village of the Sauks was Jack Carleton, whom he had set out to find, and
for whom he feared he would have to hunt for many moons before learning
whether he was alive or dead.

Suddenly the Sauk rose to his feet and stood in the attitude of
listening, as though he had caught some signal. Deerfoot knew he was
mistaken, for had it been otherwise, he too would have noticed it.

"Hay-uta bids his brother good bye," was the abrupt exclamation of the
warrior, who caught up his blanket and, without another word, passed
from sight in the wood, leaving the astonished Deerfoot alone.



CHAPTER XXIII.

IN THE LODGE OF OGALLAH.


From what has been told concerning Deerfoot, the reader knows that the
tribe which held Jack Carleton prisoner were Sauks, or Sacs, as the name
is often spelled. They belonged to the great Algonquin division, and,
when first known to Europeans, inhabited the country near Detroit River
and Saginaw Bay, but were driven beyond Lake Michigan by the powerful
Iroquois. They themselves were of a restless and warlike nature and were
the bitter enemies of the Sioux and Iroquois. They were the allies of
the famous war-chief Pontiac who besieged Detroit so long, and, during
the Revolution fought on the side of the English. They were closely
associated with the Foxes, and frequently moved from one section of the
country to another, in which respect they resembled the majority of
American Indians.

The chief who has been referred to as Ogallah was one of the most
fiery-tempered and quarrelsome members of the Sauk tribe. In one of the
expeditions against the Sioux, he not only performed wonderful deeds of
daring, but tomahawked several of his own warriors, because, in his
judgment, they showed a timidity in attacking the common foe. One of the
Sauks who fell by the hand of the wrathful sachem was the brother of the
leading chief. This precipitated a fierce quarrel between the two, the
upshot of which was that Ogallah, and a number of followers, drew off
from the main tribe and began "keeping house" for themselves. Migrating
southward with the purpose of placing a long stretch of country between
them and the parent tribe, they finally erected their lodges on the
banks of a stream on the Ozark region, in what is now Southern Missouri
and upper Arkansas.

I have already said the Indians gave the white men little trouble in
that section during the pioneer days. In that respect, no comparison can
be made with Kentucky and Ohio. As early as 1720, the lead deposits in
Missouri attracted notice, and its oldest town, Saint Genevieve, was
founded in 1755. St. Louis became the depot for the fur trade of the
vast region beyond, and at the breaking out of the Revolution, was a
town of considerable importance.

The warrior Hay-uta with whom Deerfoot had his remarkable interview was
a fair representative of the Sauk nation, and especially of that
division which was under the following of Ogallah. Some of the warriors
were constantly roaming through the wilderness in quest of scalps. While
they were nothing loth to engage in a scrimmage with the hunters and
trappers, yet they preferred those of their own race above all others.
No Sioux or Iroquois could have approached within hundreds of miles
without the certainty of an encounter with the warlike Sauks.

The Sauk party which appeared so close to the settlement of Martinsville
had been out for several weeks looking for "game" in the form of Sioux,
who lived far to the northward. They had found some of it too, and were
returning home in a leisurely manner. They took a careful survey of the
settlement, and even discussed the wisdom of making an attack on it; but
they saw it could not be destroyed by so small a force, and though they
might have shot several of the settlers before they could know their
danger, they decided to pass on without making any demonstration at
all.

When Jack Carleton and Otto Relstaub walked up to the party, it was no
more than natural that they should be made prisoners. No particular
reason can be assigned for the separation of the party, one division of
which took Jack and the other Otto, except that a survey of the land
passed over could be better made by that means. However, this point will
be dwelt upon more fully in another place.

Probably no person ever played the part of captive among a tribe of
savages without devoting most of his thoughts to the question of escape.
It is inevitable that he should do so, for the fate is so painful in
every respect that, but for the hope, one would be ready to lie down and
die.

Jack had turned the question over and over in his mind, and had done his
utmost to give his captors the slip while on the road, but misfortune
attended every venture, and at last he found himself in the lodge of the
chieftain Ogallah himself, where it looked as if he was likely to remain
indefinitely.

"Well, this beats everything," he exclaimed, after finishing the meal
and seating himself at the side of the lodge, so as to be out of the way
of the housewife, as she moved back and forth and here and there while
attending to her duties; "I've come a long distance through the woods,
and it'll take some time to find my way back to Martinsville, after I
once make a start."

He could not persuade himself that his captivity might last for months
and possibly for years. He was confident that no matter how vigilant the
watch maintained, he would gain a chance to give the Indians the slip
within two or three days at the furthest.

"I did my best to make Ogallah and the others think I wasn't anxious to
leave, but the work was all thrown away. These people are not fools, and
no matter how well I may act, they know of a surety that the whole
prayer of my life is to part company with them."

The conclusion reached by Jack was common sense, though the
story-writers sometimes make it appear that the keen minded American
Indian may be duped in that transparent fashion. The utmost that Jack
Carleton could hope to do was to show his captors that, while he longed
to return to his friends, he saw no means of doing so, and therefore
was not likely to make the attempt. Such he resolved would be his
course.

The boy was fatigued in mind and body, and, when he bowed his head in
prayer (much to the astonishment of Ogallah and his squaw), and lay down
on the bison robe, he sank into a refreshing slumber, from which he did
not awake until morning, and then, when he did so, he came to his senses
with a yell that almost raised the roof.

The Sauks, like all their race, were extremely fond of dogs, and the
mongrel curs seemed to be everywhere. Jack had noticed them trotting
through the village, playing with the children and basking in the sun. A
number sniffed at his heels, as he passed by with Ogallah, but did not
offer to disturb him.

The chief was the owner of a mangy cur, which seemed to have been off on
some private business of his own, when his master returned, inasmuch as
he did not put in an appearance until early the following morning, when
he trotted sideways up to the lodge and entered, as he could readily do,
inasmuch as the "latch string was always out." The canine was quick to
notice the stranger lying on the bison skin with his eyes closed and his
mouth open. With an angry growl he trotted in the same sidelong fashion
across the space, and pushing his nose under Jack's legs gave him a
smart bite, just below the knee, as though he meant to devour him, and
concluded that was the best part of his anatomy on which to make a
beginning.

The foregoing will explain why Jack Carleton awoke with a yell and
stared around him for an explanation of the insult. The vigor of his
kicks, and the resonant nature of his cries, filled the dog with a
panic, and he skurried out of the lodge with his tail between his legs,
and cast affrighted glances behind him.

"Confound the cur," muttered Jack, rubbing the injured limb, "is that
the style of these dogs when a stranger calls?"

Ogallah was entering the door of his home just as the canine was going
out. Suspecting what mischief he had been committing, he placed his
moccasin under the brute and elevated him several feet in the air, with
a force which caused him to turn end over end, with an accompaniment of
yelps and howls which were kept up until he was out of sight and
hearing.

The wife of Ogallah was preparing breakfast, which was of the simplest
character, consisting of nothing but meat cooked over the coals as on
the evening before. There was nothing in the nature of vegetables,
though something of the kind was growing on the cleared land without.

Jack longed for the pure, fresh air of the outside. The smoke of the
chieftain's pipe, the smell of burning meat, and the untidiness of the
place and people, left a stale odor, which was nauseating to one
unaccustomed to it.

He wanted a drink of cold water as it bubbled from the earth, and,
rising to his feet, passed outdoors. The squaw merely glanced up, while
Ogallah addressed several rapidly spoken words to him. Then recollecting
that nothing he said could be understood, he smiled grimly, and turned
his back on the lad.

Reaching the outside, Jack stood still for a minute, uncertain what
course to take. The warriors, squaws, and children were astir; but no
one seemed to observe him when he paused in front of the chieftain's
lodge.

"I'll try the river," was his conclusion, as he stepped briskly off, his
heart beating rapidly, for he knew from his experience of the previous
night, that much curiosity respecting him was felt, and he was certain
to attract annoying attention. But he reached the stream, where he
stooped and bathed his face and hands, wiping them on the handkerchief
he carried, and still heard and saw nothing to cause misgiving.

"I wonder whether they drink from this," he said, rising to his feet,
and looking around; "I can't say that I fancy it, for it isn't as clear
as it looked to be when I was further off; then the youngsters bathe and
play in it--helloa!"

He saw an Indian woman making her way toward one of the wigwams on the
edge of the village, carrying a large gourd of water in her arms. It was
filled almost to the brim, and slopped over the edge, as it was
disturbed by her movement in walking. It was fair to conclude that she
had taken it from the spring for which Jack was looking, and he
immediately moved toward her. She stopped abruptly when she saw him
approach, and stared in such open-mouthed amazement that it was evident
that this was the first glance she had obtained of the captive.

Jack made signs of comity, and sheered off so as to reach the path
considerably to the rear of the squaw, who, with a grunt, made an
equally wide circuit in the opposite direction, so that the two avoided
each other by a liberal space of ground.

The boy saw that he was moving over a well-worn path, which he was
confident led to the spring he wished to find. Nearly every step was
marked by the drippings of water from the gourd of the woman he had just
met.

Sure enough, he had gone less than a hundred yards beyond the village
when he came upon the spring, which bubbled from under the twisted black
roots of an oak, throwing up the sand in a continual fountain-like
tumble of melted silver. The lad looked down at it for a moment, and
then sinking to his hands and knees, pressed his lips against the cold,
crystal-fluid, the most refreshing element in all nature.

Had not his nose and eyes been so close to the water, Jack Carleton
would have caught the reflection of another face just behind his own--a
face which would have driven all thirst away and caused him to bound to
his feet, as though he had heard the whirr of a coiled rattlesnake at
his elbow.

But Jack saw and suspected nothing. He had taken three good swallows
when some one gave the back of his head such a smart push, that the nose
was shoved down among the silver sands, which streamed from his face, as
he sprang to his feet, and stared gasping, blinking, and furious.

"Who the deuce did that?" he demanded, forgetting himself in his anger.

His own eyes answered the question. Three Indian boys were standing,
laughing as if ready to hurt themselves over his discomfiture. Two of
them were very nearly the height and age of Jack, while the third, who
had played the trick on him, was older and taller.

The captive was angry enough to assail all three, and it required a
smart exercise of the will to restrain himself. But he saw the folly of
such a step. The affray would quickly bring others to the spot, and very
speedily Jack would find himself attacked by overwhelming numbers, and
possibly would be beaten to death. No; he must use ordinary prudence
and swallow the insult.

He looked in the grinning faces of the homely youths, and made quite a
successful effort to join their laughter (though precious little mirth
was there in the essay), and then started back toward the lodge of
Ogallah.

The youth tried to walk with a dignified step, but he was sadly thrown
out by a dexterous trip from one of the moccasins, which sent him
stumbling forward with a very narrow escape from falling on his hands
and knees.

It was the tallest of the three who had tripped him, and all laughed
like a lot of clowns, as the angered Jack glared at them.

"I wish I had you alone," muttered the boy between his set teeth; "I
wouldn't need more than five minutes to give you a lesson you'd remember
all your life."



CHAPTER XXIV.

A ROW.


Jack Carleton saw that he was caught in an exceedingly unpleasant
dilemma. He had a considerable distance to walk to reach the lodge of
Ogallah and was sure to be tormented all the way. He could not feel
certain even, that the wigwam of the chieftain would afford him
protection, while nothing could be more manifest than that this was but
the beginning of a series of numberless persecutions to which he would
be subjected.

He was allowed to take six or eight steps in peace, when one of the
Indian boys slipped up behind and with his foot struck his heel, just as
it left the ground. This threw the toe behind Jack's other leg and
caused him to stumble again, though, as he was expecting something of
the kind, he recovered himself with more ease.

A few seconds later, Jack was passing among the different lodges, and
walking rapidly toward that of the chieftain. His presence became known
to the whole village in a very brief time, and the younger portion came
flocking around him, as though he was some wonderful curiosity, which,
under the circumstances, was the fact.

Ogallah was among those who came to the front of the lodges to learn
what caused the uproar. When he caught sight of Jack, he called out
something and made excited gestures to him. The boy supposed they were
intended to hurry his return, and finding his persecutors closing around
him, he broke into a run.

Then the stones and clods began to fly. The whole rabble joined in, and
when the poor captive dodged into the wigwam, he was bruised and half
frightened to death. He watched the entrance in terror, but his
tormentors did not dare follow him into the home of their chief, who
would have been quick to resent such an invasion of his dignity and
rights.

Jack was panting and frightened, but he had received no serious hurts.
What alarmed him, more than everything else, was the foreshadowing thus
made of the treatment in store for him.

"I can't stand this," was his thought, after he had partly regained his
composure. "I shall have to stay in here altogether or run the gauntlet
every time I go out."

But all this time, Ogallah kept talking and making vigorous gestures to
him. The chief had followed him to the middle of the lodge, where the
two sat on the ground cross-legged and began eating the meat which the
squaw had prepared. She did not join them, and the boy had little
appetite after his exciting experience. The gestures of Ogallah
continued so long that it was evident he was seeking to say something of
importance to Jack.

"I wonder what the old fellow means," muttered the lad, ceasing his meal
and studying the gyrating arms and spluttering countenance. The
chieftain was striking the air as if fighting an imaginary foe, and
then, pointing toward Jack he nodded his head vigorously and again
pointed to the outside.

Suddenly the meaning of the pantomime broke upon the youth.

"By gracious! if he isn't urging me to sail into those fellows. I say,
Ogallah, will you back me up and see that I have fair play?"

Jack raised his voice to a loud key, as though that would help the
chieftain understand his words; but it could not be expected that he
would grasp their meaning, as they were not punctuated with any gesture
and accompanied only by an eager expression of countenance.

But Ogallah probably saw that the youth had caught _his_ meaning, for he
nodded his head and grinned with delight.

"If he will only keep the crowd off me," said Jack to himself, "I won't
ask anything better than a chance to get even with that big fellow and
after him the other two, if they want to take a hand in the fun."

The voices and turmoil in front of the lodge showed that the crowd were
there waiting for Jack to come forth, that they might continue the
amusement which was interrupted by his flight. The lad spent a minute or
two in conversing by means of gestures with the chief, whose meaning
seemed plainer now that he had caught the gist of his first proposal.

"I am quite sure he promises to see that I have fair play," thought
Jack; "but, if I am mistaken I shall get into a pretty scrape. Anything,
however, is preferable to this state of affairs, and it must be ended
one way or another very soon."

Ogallah showed a childish delight when he saw that the youth had made up
his mind to have a bout with the ringleaders who had started out to make
life a burden to him. Even the squaw partook of the general excitement
and followed the two out doors.

The chieftain cleared the way for the captive, who was greeted with the
most uproarious cries as soon as seen by the company, which numbered
over a hundred bucks, squaws and children, exclusive of the dogs which
added to the unearthly racket by their barking, yelping and howling.

Jack Carleton kept well under the wing of Ogallah until he could see
what was to take place. The chief talked for a short time with several
of his warriors, who closed around him, the rest holding him in such awe
that they refrained from disturbing the prisoner until permission was
given.

It was quickly settled: Ogallah and two of his men cleared a space a rod
square and then beckoned to Jack, who walked defiantly to the middle of
it and folded his arms.

"Something must be done pretty soon," was his thought, as he scanned the
scowling, laughing, shouting mob. "They would like to tear me to pieces,
and, if they come all at once, they will do it too."

The three Indian youths who had assailed Jack at the spring, leaped
about and were as frantically eager as so many bull-dogs to fly at the
poor fellow, who was never in sorer need of a powerful friend.

Suddenly one of them received the signal, and, with a whoop of delight,
he lowered his head and ran at Jack like a Japanese wrestler or a mad
bull. The boy saw he meant to butt him in the stomach, and if he did so
he would suffer serious injury. Forewarned was forearmed in his case,
and, leaping aside, he tripped the Indian as he shot by, and sent him
sprawling on his hands and knees. The uproar was deafening, but the
contest, it may be said, had only opened, and the young Sauk bounded to
his feet as if made of India Rubber. His coppery face was aglow with
passion, and, pausing but an instant, he made a second rush, though this
time he kept his head up, and spread out his arms so as to prevent Jack
escaping him.

Jack did not want to escape. He seized his assailant at the same moment
that the latter grasped him, and in a twinkling they were interlocked
and struggling like tigers. But the dusky youth was not only younger and
slighter than Jack, but he was not so strong. Furthermore, his skill in
wrestling was less than that of the white youth, who, like all the
youths of the border, was trained in the rough, athletic exercise so
popular with every people.

The contest was as brief as it was fierce. Suddenly a pair of moccasins
kicked the air, and the presumptuous young Sauk went to the earth as if
flung from the top of a church steeple. The shock was tremendous and
caused a momentary hush, for it looked as if he had been killed.

The mother of the overthrown wrestler ran forward from the crowd, and
with wild lamentations, bent over him. When she saw him move and found
he was not dead, she whirled about, and, with a shriek, made for Jack
Carleton, who dreaded just such an attack; but Ogallah seized her arm
ere she reached the frightened youth, and flung her back with a
violence and a threat which stopped her from repeating the attack.

This incident gave Jack great encouragement, for it confirmed his belief
that the sachem meant he should have fair treatment, and would allow no
dishonest advantage to be taken of him.

The second dusky youth, who was slighter than Jack, was signalled to
advance to the attack, but to the surprise of all, he shook his head in
dissent and declined to come forward. The manner in which his companion
had been handled was enough to convince him that the most prudent thing
for him to do was to play the part of spectator only.

Not so, however, with the larger and older youth, who had arrived almost
at man's estate. He was quite an athlete among his people, and could
scarcely restrain his eagerness to attack the pale face, who had
vanquished an opponent younger and weaker than himself. Ogallah nodded
his head, and, amid a noise which may be called applause, the young
warrior strode forward and laid his hands on Jack, who, realizing the
difficult task before him, was resolute, watchful, and yet confident.

The young Sauk seemed to be left handed, like Deerfoot, the Shawanoe,
for he placed himself on the right of Jack, and slid his arm over the
boy's neck, while Jack assumed his favorite hold with his right. The
Indian was slightly the taller, and was naked to the waist, which was
encircled by a girdle, containing no weapons, below which were his
breech clout, leggings and moccasins. There was nothing on his arms, his
costume being that of a professional Indian wrestler "stripped for the
fray."

When he slid his arm over Jack's neck, he bent his head forward so that
he could look down at their feet. Jack thus found the black hair, parted
in the middle and dangling over the coppery shoulders, directly under
his eyes. He noted the large, misshapen nose, the narrow forehead,
immensely broad temples, and uncouth lower jaw, and, during the few
seconds they were waiting, reflected what an ugly warrior the youth was
certain to prove if he lived a few years longer.

He was the ringleader among Jack's persecutors, and the lad determined
to conquer him if within the range of the most desperate effort. The
style in which he took hold of the pale face told the latter that he
possessed considerable skill, and it would be a mistake to estimate him
too lightly.

Jack reached over his left hand to grasp the right of his antagonist,
but the latter declined to take it, and the free hands, therefore, were
held, as may be said, in reserve to be used as inclination prompted.

Suddenly the Sauk kicked one of Jack's heels forward and made a quick
strong effort to fling him backward. It was done with great deftness,
and came within a hair of laying Jack flat on his back. He recovered
himself by a fierce effort, and the attempt was instantly repeated, but
he saved himself in better shape than before.

Again the two crouched side by side, each with an arm over the other,
and watching like cats for the chance to seize an advantage. As a
feeler, Jack tried the same trick his foe had used, but the Sauk was too
watchful and was scarcely disturbed. All at once the pale face slid his
arm down until it rested on the girdle at the waist of the Indian. Then
joining his two hands and pressing him until he could hardly breathe,
Jack raised him like a flash, clear of his feet, and made as if to
throw him forward on his face. At the instant the Sauk put forth his
frantic efforts to save himself from going in that direction, Jack
reversed the enginery, and sent him backward on his head with a shock
that made the ground tremble.

The fall was terrific, and looking down at the motionless figure, Jack
believed he had broken his neck.

"I hope I have," he muttered in the flush of his excitement, "but that
kind are tough--helloa!"

The prostrate youth began to gasp and make spasmodic movements of his
limbs--enough to prove he was alive.

While Jack stood surveying him, as if waiting another attack, the mob
broke into the most frightful yells and made a rush for him. He had
overthrown those that had been matched against him, and now they meant
to kill him; but Jack's faith in Ogallah was not misplaced. He and his
brother warriors interfered in such a vigorous manner that not a hair of
the boy's head was harmed, and, turning around, he walked into the lodge
of the chieftain, conscious that he had won a great victory.



CHAPTER XXV.

THE WAR FEAST.


Jack Carleton's triumph over the Indian youth was complete. In a fair
wrestling bout he had flung him to the ground with a force that drove
the breath from his body, and gave him a more vivid idea of the white
man's views of that athletic amusement than he had ever entertained
before. But what was to be the outcome of this affair was more than the
boy could guess. Physical prowess always commands respect whether the
spectators be civilized or savage; but it does not insure against
persecution.

"I have made them more revengeful than before," was the thought of the
youth, after he hurried back into Ogallah's lodge, and sat panting from
his exertion: "they hate me because I am of another race and am in their
hands. They are afraid of the chief and, therefore, they will be more
careful and I must be the same."

There could be no mistake as to the sentiments of the sachem and his
squaw. They were delighted with the ability shown by the pale-faced
youth who had evidently overthrown the young champion of the village.
Ogallah grinned and chattered with his wife who grinned and chattered in
turn. Then the former patted Jack on the back and talked very fast. The
boy could not doubt that he was uttering the most high flown compliments
and he did a great deal of smiling and bowing in response. The squaw was
more demonstrative, for, after bustling about the half-expired fire for
awhile, she brought forward a piece of meat which she had taken extra
pains in cooking and placed it at his disposal. Jack was not suffering
from hunger, but he very gladly ate the food and nodded in
acknowledgment.

The crowd around the entrance became so noisy that the chieftain
suddenly lost patience, and, springing to his feet, he dashed the bison
skin door aside and speedily scattered them.

As Jack sat on the lodge floor, rapidly recovering from his severe
exertion, he became conscious of a peculiar feeling which manifested
itself at intervals. When he moved, he was slightly dizzy and his heart
gave several throbs that were more rapid and spasmodic than usual. He
remained quiet, wondering what it could mean, but feeling much inclined
to lay it to the exciting scene through which he had just passed. When
he began to feel alarmed it passed off.

But if Jack counted on finding all the hours dull and monotonous, from
being compelled to stay within the tepee or wigwam of the Sauk
chieftain, he was greatly mistaken. Shortly after eating his
supplementary breakfast, Ogallah went out, leaving the youth alone with
the squaw. This caused Jack some misgiving, for he feared his enemies
might take advantage of the warrior's absence to punish him for his
victory over the Indian youth. For some minutes he was in much
trepidation, and the feeling was not lessened when he caught sight of
several coppery faces peeping through the door. However, they ventured
on no greater liberties and after a time went away.

All at once a great uproar rose through the village. Shouting, whooping,
screeching and all sorts of unimaginable noises rent the air. The sound
of hurrying feet was heard, and it was evident that something of an
extraordinary character was going on. Jack looked inquiringly at the
squaw, but, though she must have known the explanation, she failed for
obvious reasons to make it clear to the captive.

Suddenly Ogallah came into the lodge. He uttered a few hurried words to
his wife and then beckoned Jack to follow him. The latter had shoved his
knife back in place, but did not venture to take his rifle which stood
at the other side of the lodge.

"I wonder what's up now," was the natural thought of the lad, as he
hastened after him; "have they erected a stake in the middle of the
village where I am to be roasted for the amusement of the rest, or am I
to be put to a test which I won't be able to stand?"

But fortunately the boy was mistaken in both his theories. The hubbub
had no reference to him whatever.

Beginning the night before, a party of bucks and squaws had been
employed until long after daylight in cooking the carcass of a bear,
that was plump, oily and in the best condition. It was not very large,
but where there was so little waste, it can be seen there must have been
considerable in the way of food.

The animal was now fairly roasted and the time for feasting had come.
Jack understood that much when he ventured outside the lodge and saw the
numbers gathering around the "festive board." Naturally he clung close
to his protector, but one of the singular features attending his
captivity among this offshoot of the Sauk tribe of Indians, was the
readiness with which they transferred their attention from one object to
another. No one showed any curiosity in him when he appeared on the
street--so to speak--but all pushed their way toward the one point of
interest.

The shouting and uproar ceased when fourteen warriors marched forth in
Indian file, and, arranging themselves around the brown crisp mass of
meat, made ready to fall to work, the others watching them. They were
all fine looking fellows, their faces painted and their preparations
complete for hostilities, with the exception that their rifles were left
aside, merely for convenience sake, until the end of the festivities.

Jack Carleton knew he was looking upon a war feast, as they are termed
by the Indians, and which were more common among those people at that
time than they are to-day. The bear had been carefully cooked expressly
for them, and looked grotesquely tempting, as the crisped, browned, and
oily carcass dripped over the pile of branches and green leaves to which
the cooks had carried it.

The American Indian is ridiculously superstitious, and he has as much
terror of an odd number at a war feast, as we have of being one of
thirteen at an ordinary dinner party. Under no circumstances would the
Sauks have permitted such a defiance of fate itself.

When the fourteen warriors had ranged themselves around the table, they
stood for a minute or two, while the others held their breath in
expectancy. The tallest Indian, who was the leader of the little
company, suddenly whipped out his hunting knife and looked at the
others, who imitated him with military promptness. Then he muttered some
command, and immediately the whole number sprang upon the waiting
carcass, which was carved up in a twinkling. Each cut himself an
enormous slice, and, stepping back, began eating with the voracity of a
wolf, while the others looked admiringly on. The spectators had held
their peace so long that they broke forth again, not so loud as before,
but grunting, chattering, and gesticulating like so many children, while
Jack Carleton, taking good care to keep close to Ogallah his protector,
furtively watched the scene.

The capacity of the red man for fasting and feasting is almost
incredible. He will go for days without a mouthful, and then, when an
abundance of food is presented, will gorge himself to an extent that
would be sure death to an ordinary human being, after which he will
smoke, blink, and doze for several days more, just as the famous boa
constrictors of Africa are accustomed to do.

Such, however, is his habit only when driven by necessity. The Sauks
lived too far south of the frozen regions to suffer such hardships, but
one of the requirements of the war-feast was that each one of the party
should eat all that he had cut from the carcass. To fail to do so was a
sign of weakness sure to subject him to ridicule.

So resolutely did the warriors address themselves to the task, as it may
be called, that they succeeded with the exception of a single one. Two
or three, however, found it all they could do, and another mouthful of
the coarse, oily meat, would have raised a rebellion within their
internal economy, which would have caused general wreck and desolation.

The youthful warrior who failed was the one who was the most eager at
the first for the feast. He toiled like a hero, and all went well until
he reached the last half pound. The others, grinning queerly through
their grease and paint, watched him as did the group on the outside of
the circle, while he, fully alive to the fact that he was the center of
attention, went to work as if resolved to do or die.

It took several vigorous swallows to keep down the installment which had
descended, while he held the last piece in his hand and surveyed it with
doubtful eye. It finally rested uneasily on the stomach, and he looked
more hopefully than ever at the remaining portion, suspended on the
point of his hunting knife.

Evidently he was not afraid of that, if what had preceded it would only
keep quiet. Finally he made a desperate resolve and quickly crammed his
mouth with the oleaginous stuff, upon which he began chewing with savage
voracity. Possibly, if he could have got it masticated enough to force
down his throat with only a few seconds' delay, all would have been
well, but suddenly there was an upward heave of the chest, a sort of
general earthquake; the eyes closed, and the mouth opened with a gape so
prodigious that it seemed to extend from ear to ear, and threatened to
bisect his head. That which followed may be left to the imagination of
the reader.

General laughter and taunts greeted the failure, in which Ogallah
heartily joined; but the warrior took it in good part, and doubtless
felt better than did any of the others participating in the scene of
gluttony, inasmuch as his stomach was in its normal condition.

The war feast finished, the fourteen resumed the form of a circle, stood
motionless a few minutes, and, all at once, began dancing in the most
furious manner. The spectators joined, Ogallah as before being among the
most vigorous in the lead, and in a brief while the strange scene was
presented of warriors, squaws, and children bounding about, swinging
their arms and splitting their throats in the wildest excitement.

"I don't suppose it will do for me to be the only idle one," said Jack
Carleton with a laugh and a quick thrill, "so here goes!"

And with a "loud whoop" he leaped high in air, and began shouting in as
discordant tones as those around him. In truth, there was no more
enthusiastic member of the company than young Carleton, who jumped,
yelled, and conducted himself so much like an irrestrainable lunatic
that a spectator would have supposed he was setting the cue for the
others.

Ogallah and several of the warriors glanced at the pale face with some
curiosity, and probably a few comments were made upon the performance of
the youth. Their precise tenor, as a matter of course, can only be
conjectured, but Jack was confident they were of a complimentary
character, for the heartiness which he showed must have pleased them.

While going about in this hilarious fashion, there were many collisions
and overturnings. Once Jack bumped so violently against some one that
both turned their heads and glared at each other. The offender was the
Indian youth whom Jack had beaten so handsomely in the wrestling bout.
For an instant the dusky lad held his hand on the knife in his girdle,
and was on the point of rushing at Jack; but the latter meaningly
grasped the handle of his weapon, and returned his glare with equal
fierceness.

It was enough, and the revelry continued. Had the Sauks been in
possession of firewater, the excitement would have intensified, until
weapons would have been drawn and a general fight precipitated,
accompanied with loss of more than one life. Such is the outcome of most
of the similar feasts held among the red men all through the west: but
there was not a drop of intoxicating stuff within reach of the village,
and thus the murderous wind-up of the festival was averted.

The dance lasted until many dropped from exhaustion. Jack Carleton was
compelled to cease from sheer weakness, and staggering to one side, sat
down on what he supposed was a log, but which proved to be a very live
Indian who was also in quest of rest. Being extended on his face, he
threw up his back, much after the manner of a mustang when "bucking,"
and Jack was sent sprawling.

"It don't make any difference," muttered the boy with a laugh, "for I'm
so tired that I can rest in one place as well as another, and I'll wait
here till the show is over."

And wait he did for the conclusion, which came very speedily.



CHAPTER XXVI.

AN ALARMING DISCOVERY.


When the war party grew weary of the furious dance, they stopped, formed
themselves in Indian file, and with the leader at the head, marched to
the tepee, where they had left their rifles. They reappeared a moment
later, each bearing his weapon in hand, and quickly reformed as before.
Then all uttered several loud whoops, to which the enthusiastic
supporters responded with equal vim, and they marched in the same file
and with the same steady step toward the forest on the other side the
clearing. Right soon they vanished from view among the trees. They had
gone in quest of scalps, but in the hunt more than one proud spirited
brave was to lose his own natural head-gear, and of those who went
forth, the majority never came back again.

Now that the main cause of the hullabaloo was removed, the Sauks gained
more time to view their immediate surroundings. When Jack tottered to
one side to obtain the needed rest, he separated himself from Ogallah,
who showed no signs of wearying of the terrific exercise.

"I guess it will be as well for me to hunt him up," was the decision of
the youth, "for he may need my care."

But when the boy rose to his feet and looked around he saw nothing of
the sachem, though all the rest of the village appeared to be in the
immediate neighborhood. None of them had offered to molest Jack, but he
felt great misgiving. Fortunately the lodge of the chieftain was not
distant.

While the dance was going on, an experience befell young Carleton which
has not been told, but which should be given. In the bright glare of the
morning sun, the countenance of every one was distinctly visible, and
Jack was impressed by the fact that one heavy, squat redskin was viewing
him with peculiar interest. He passed in front of the boy several times,
and on each occasion cast a piercing glance at him.

This of itself might not have been so noticeable but for the impression
which deepened on Jack that he and the warrior had met at some other
time and in some other place.

He was impatient with himself because he could not recall the
circumstances. Had it been on the other side of the Mississippi, it
would have been no wonder, for, from his earliest boyhood he had been
accustomed to seeing red men, and it would be impossible to remember
them all; but he was convinced he had met the Indian since he and Otto
had immigrated to Louisiana.

Possibly Jack might have answered the question had he been given time to
think over it without disturbance; but he had scarcely begun to look
around for Ogallah, when he was alarmed by the demonstrations of the
crowd around him. They began pushing forward, and the squaws and
children showed an unpleasant disposition to lay hands on him.

There was no use of standing on dignity. In a few minutes he would be
hemmed in so he could not move, and the lodge of the chieftain was not
far away. Shoving a little screeching girl from his path, Jack bounded
away like a deer, straight for the shelter. The act was so sudden that
it threw him in advance of the rest, but there were plenty of runners as
fleet as he, and despite the start he gained, several were at his heels,
and one of them came very near tripping him. Jack pressed on, and,
within a rod of the entrance to the kingly wigwam, the Indian who made
the attempt to trip him appeared at his side, and then threw himself
directly in front.

One glance showed the fugitive that it was the youth whom he had
overthrown in the wrestling bout.

"Oh, it's you, is it?" exclaimed Jack; "you haven't had enough yet!"

And, quick as a flash, he drove his fist straight into the grinning
visage with all the force he could concentrate in his good right arm.
The amazed youth described a back somerset, his moccasins up in the air,
and his ugly nose flattened to the shape of a crimson turnip. Then
leaping over the prostrate figure, Jack made several bounds, and dove
into the lodge just in time to avoid colliding with Ogallah, who had
approached the door from the inside to learn the cause of the new
tumult.

The chief went far enough to obtain a good view of the audacious youth
who was in the act of climbing to his feet, and groping for his nose and
principal features in a blind way, as though doubtful whether any of
them were left. The clamoring rioters were scattered once more, Ogallah
adding a few words, probably meant as a warning against their
persecuting his ward, for it may as well be stated that from that time
forward the demonstrations against Jack were of a much less serious
nature.

"I suppose I've got to fight every time I go out of the lodge," said
young Carleton, with a dogged shake of the head; "they mean to kill me
whenever they gain the chance, and more than likely I'll have to go, but
I'll make it cost them more than they count on. When I can't use my
fists I'll use my knife."

The mistress of the establishment, seating herself at the other end of
the lodge, lit her pipe with as much indifference as though nothing
unusual had taken place. Her mongrel pup came trotting along the space
in his sidelong fashion and lay down with his nose against her slouchy
moccasins, thereby proving his bravery, so far as any offense against
his olfactories was concerned. Ogallah having made his speech and
scattered the rabble, turned about and came slowly after the dog,
seating himself near the middle of the lodge, where he also lit his
long-stemmed pipe.

Just then some one pushed the bison skin aside, and stepped within the
residence. Despite his sluggish manner, Ogallah flirted his head like a
flash, probably suspecting that one of Jack's tormentors had dared to
follow him within his shelter. But the individual was a full-grown
warrior, who would not have descended to such business, and the grunt of
the sachem was meant as a cordial welcome to him who grunted in return.

Jack Carleton also glanced at him, and was astonished not a little to
observe that he was the same warrior who had scrutinized him so closely
while the war feast was going on, and whom, the youth was well
convinced, he had met elsewhere.

There could be no mistake as to the interest which the visitor felt in
the captive, for his black, penetrating eyes were not removed from him
during the several minutes which followed his entry into the lodge. Not
only that, but halting in front of the lad, he began talking and
gesticulating with useless vigor, inasmuch as Jack could not gain an
inkling of what was meant. Indeed, had the youth attempted afterward to
describe the gestures, he would have referred to them all as pointless,
excepting the series which consisted of a violent sweep of both arms to
the westward, after pointing his finger at the wondering Jack Carleton.
Altogether at a loss as to their significance, it was fortunate (as will
appear hereafter), that the lad was able to recall and describe the
motions to another, who had a hundred fold more woodcraft and mental
acumen than he.

Poor Jack could only shake his head and smile sadly by way of reply to
this performance, and, after Ogallah had added something, the warrior
ceased, took his seat beside the chief and employed himself in smoking
and talking.

"Who _can_ he be? He knows me and I--ah! I remember!"

Sure enough, and why had he not thought of it before? He was one of the
five Indians who had left the other five and gone off with Otto
Relstaub, on the day that he and Jack Carleton were captured by the band
so near their own home. More than that, Jack had seen the others that
same morning in the village at the war feast, though the recollection of
them was so shadowy that it had not caused him the perplexity produced
by the appearance of the warrior before him.

With the truth came the startling question--Where was Otto? While his
captors were in the village, he certainly was elsewhere. What had become
of him?

The question fairly took away the breath of Jack and made him faint at
heart.

"He can't be at home, for Otto never could have made his escape from
them; _he must be dead!_"

The first declaration of the youth my reader knows was true, for the
visit of Deerfoot, several days later to Martinsville, as has been
described, proved it. As to the second theory, that will be investigated
in due time.

One of the most trying features of this occurrence was the certainty
Jack felt that the Indian visitor was trying to tell him something about
Otto. Those swinging arms, swaying head and apoplectic grunting carried
a message within themselves, which, if translated would be found of
great importance; but alas! the interpreter had not come.

While the lad sat on the bison robe, reflecting over the matter, he
became aware of the peculiar sensations that alarmed him some time
before. His head was dizzy, a curious lightness took possession of his
limbs, and he felt that if he should undertake to cross the lodge, he
would stagger and fall like a drunken man.

"I'm going to be ill," he said, pressing his hand to his forehead;
"something is wrong with me."

The shock which came with the conviction was deepened by the belief that
he was about to go through the experience that had befallen poor Otto
Relstaub.

"He fell sick while tramping through the woods with the Indians, and
they have either tomahawked or left him to die. These people with all
their Medicine Men and Women know nothing about curing sick folks, and
if I _do_ become ill that will be the end of me."

The boy was in anything but a cheerful frame of mind, but he faced the
position like a hero. He did not lose heart, though he was sure that his
situation was worse than ever before, and he did not forget any of the
incidents of the journey from Kentucky to Louisiana, when many a time
there seemed not the slightest ground for hope.

After smoking awhile Ogallah and his visitor got up and went out doors.
The chief was gone but a short time when he came back, and, as he
resumed his seat, grunted out something to his squaw, who immediately
laid down her pipe, tenderly shoved the nose of her dog aside and left
the place.

While Jack was wondering what the meaning of these movements could be,
the attack of weakness which had alarmed him passed off, like the
fleeing shadow of a cloud. It was followed by a natural rebound of
spirits, and he too rose to his feet and walked toward the door.

The sachem looked inquiringly at him, but showed no objection to his
departure. The boy placed his hand at his waist to make sure his hunting
knife was there, and at the entrance paused a moment in doubt.

"I wonder whether they will set on me again," he said to himself; "if
they do I will use my weapon--that's certain, and then there will be a
bigger rumpus than before."

The knowledge that the chief who had served so many times as friend was
near at hand added much to Jack's courage, when he finally let the
bison-skin door drop behind him.

The explanation of the squaw's departure was manifest at once. She had a
long sharpened stick in her hands, with which she was stirring the earth
around some hills of corn growing on a small plot near their lodge.
Extending his gaze, Jack saw many other squaws engaged in the same
manner, but among them all was not a single man. They were lolling in
their wigwams, smoking or dozing, or hunting in the woods for game or
scalps.

The younger members of the community seemed to be the happiest of all. A
number were playing by the river, and some were plunging into the
stream, swimming, diving, and disporting themselves like porpoises;
others were deep in some kind of game, on the clearing near the woods,
and all were as shouting and demonstrative as so many civilized
youngsters engaged in a game of ball.

Anxious to learn whether his last affray with his persecutors was likely
to lessen or increase their hostility, Jack Carleton gradually advanced
from the lodge until he was close to the group playing on the large
cleared space, while those by the river were much nearer his refuge than
he.

This was assuming considerable risk, as all must admit, but the boy took
it with much caution and with his eyes wide open, meaning to make the
most hurried kind of retreat the instant it might become necessary.



CHAPTER XXVII.

"GAH-HAW-GE."


Naturally enough, when Jack Carleton found himself standing close to the
frolicking Indian boys on the clearing, he became interested in the game
they were playing, which he saw was systematic, and in which all took
part.

Like amusements of that sort, it was simple in its character and he
quickly caught its drift. The boys divided themselves into two parties
equal in numbers, one of which was ranged in line at the right of the
clearing near the wood, while the other did the same at the other goal,
which was a stump close to the stream. Each boy held a stick with a
forked end in his hand, that being the implement with which the game is
played.

When all was ready, one of the youthful Sauks walked out from the party
near the woods, holding the stick with the crotch of a small branch
supported at the point of bifurcation. This crotch was four or five
inches in length, and as it was carried aloft, it looked like an
inverted V, raised high so that all might see it.

Pausing in the middle of the clearing, the dusky lad with a flirt of the
stick, flung the crotch a dozen feet in air and uttered a shout which
was echoed by every one of the waiting players. Both sides made a
furious rush toward the middle of the playground, where they came
together like two mountain torrents, and the fun began. The strife was
to get the crotch of wood to one of the goals, and each side fought as
strenuously to help it along toward his own, as a side of foot-ball
players struggle to do the opposite in a rough and tumble fight for the
college championship.

Inasmuch as the only helps to be employed were the long, forked sticks
carried in their hands, it will be seen that the game offered a
boundless field for the roughest sort of play, mingled with no little
dexterity and skill. Some swarthy-hued rascal, while on a dead run,
would thrust the point of his stick under the crotch, and lifting it
high above his head, start or rather continue with might and main toward
his goal. At that time, as, indeed, at every minute, each young American
was literally yelling like so many "wild Indians." Desperately as the
youth ran, others more fleet of foot speedily overtook him, and one,
reaching forward while going like a deer, lifted the crotch from the
other stick, and circling gracefully about, sped for his own goal. But
some youth at his heels leaped in air and with a sweep of his own stick
struck the other and sent the crotch spinning and doubling through the
air. A dozen other sticks were plunged after it, but it fell to the
ground, and then the fight reached its climax. The parties became one
wild, desperate, shouting, yelling, scrambling mob. Legs and arms seemed
to be flying everywhere, and the wonder was that a score of limbs and
necks were not broken. But it rarely hurts a boy to become hurt, and
though bruises were plenty, no one suffered serious harm. After a few
minutes' struggle, the crotch would be seen perched on the stick of one
of the boys, who, fighting his way through the mob, ran with astonishing
speed, with friends and foes converging upon him, and the certainty that
he would be tripped and sent flying heels over head, before he could
reach safety.

After awhile, when the prize had been gradually worked toward the goal
of the stronger party, some youth, by a piece of skill and daring,
would make a dash for home and bear down all opposition. It followed, of
course, that his side had won, and, after a brief rest, the game was
renewed and pressed with the same vigor as before.

This Indian boy's game is still played by many Indian tribes. Among the
Senecas it is called "Gah-haw-ge," and I make no doubt that more than
one reader of these pages has witnessed the exciting amusement, which so
thrilled the blood of Jack Carleton that he could hardly restrain
himself from taking part in the fun. But he had no crotched stick,
without which he would have been a cypher, and then, as he had never
attempted the game, he knew he possessed no skill. The venture would
have been rash, for in the excited state of the Indian youths, and armed
as they were with sticks, it is almost certain that at some stage of the
game they would have turned on the pale face and beaten him to death.

The rough amusement lasted fully two hours, during which Jack Carleton
and many of the warriors were interested spectators. At last the
youngsters became weary and the sport ended. As the stumpy youths
straggled apart, the perspiration on their faces caused them to shine
like burnished copper. All at once one of them emitted a whoop and broke
into a swift run, the rest instantly falling in behind him, and speeding
with the same hilarious jollity.

The heart of Jack Carleton stood still, for the leading Indian was
coming straight toward him.

"They're aiming for me," was his conclusion, as he gripped the handle of
his knife and half drew it from his girdle.

But the whooping youth swerved a little to the right, and was ten feet
away from the terrified captive when he dashed by with unabated speed.
He did not so much as glance at Jack, nor did the procession of
screeching, bobbing moon-faces, as they streamed past, give him the
least attention.

The lad who set off with the lead, kept it up with undiminished speed,
until he reached the edge of the river. Then he made a leap high upward
and outward. Jack saw the crouching figure, with the head bent forward,
the arms crooked at the elbow, and the legs doubled at the knees, during
the single breath that it seemed suspended in the air. Then describing a
beautiful parabola, he descended, and striking the water, sent the spray
flying in every direction, while the body went to the bottom. The others
followed, so fast that the dusky forms dropped like hailstones, tumbled
over each other, splashed, dove, frolicked, shouted, and acted with the
same abandon as before.

It is by such sports and training that the American Indian acquires his
fleetness, high health, and powers of endurance.

But Jack had grown weary of watching the antics of the youngsters, and
turned about and walked homeward. He saw from the position of the sun
that it was near noon, and he was hungry; but he was more impressed by
the change of treatment since his last affray than by anything else. He
walked past five separate wigwams before reaching the imperial
residence, which for the time being was his own. There were warriors,
girls, and squaws lounging near each one. They raised their repellant
faces and looked at the captive with no little curiosity, but offered
him no harm.

When half way home, the flapping door of one of the conical wigwams was
pushed aside, and the stooping figure of a large Indian boy
straightened up and walked toward Jack, who, with an odd feeling,
recognized him as the youth whom he had overthrown in wrestling, and
afterwards knocked off his feet by a blow in the face.

"I wonder whether he means to attack me?" Jack asked himself, in doubt
for the moment as to what he should do. At first he thought he would
turn aside so as to give the young Sauk plenty of room; but that struck
him as impolitic, for it would show cowardice.

"No, I won't give him an inch; he is alone, and if he wants another row,
I'm agreeable."

It was hard for Jack to restrain a smile when he looked at the face of
the Indian. It was exceptionally repulsive in the first place, but the
violent blow on the nose had caused that organ to assume double its
original proportion, and there was a puffy, bulbous look about the whole
countenance which showed how strongly it "sympathized" with the injured
part.

Although the American Indian, as a rule, can go a long time, like the
eagle, without winking his eyes, this youth was obliged to keep up a
continual blinking, which added to his grotesque appearance, as with
shoulders thrown back and a sidelong scowl he strode toward the river.
Jack returned the scowl with interest, and it scarcely need be said that
the two did not speak as they passed by.

Feeling some fear of treachery, the captive kept his ears open, and
watched over his shoulder until he reached his own wigwam, where he
stood for a moment and gazed in the direction of the river, which was
partly shut out by one of the intervening lodges. He was just in time to
see the young Sauk of the battered countenance leap into the river,
where, doubtless, he was able to do much toward reducing the
inflammation of his organ of smell.

When the captive entered his home as it may be called, he saw the
chieftain stretched flat on his back and snoring frightfully. The dog
was asleep on the other side the fire, and the squaw, after toiling so
long in the "corn field," was preparing the mid-day meal. She was a type
of her sex as found among the aborigines, as her husband, even though a
monarch, was a type of the lazy vagabond known as the American warrior.

At the side of the queen lay the gourd which usually contained water.
Peeping into the round hole of the upper side, she shook the utensil,
and the few drops within jingled like silver. She snatched it up, looked
toward Jack, and grunted and nodded her head. If the lad could not
understand the language of the visitor sometime before, he had no such
difficulty in the case of the squaw. With real eagerness he sprang
forward and hastened out of the wigwam to procure what was needed.

The one visit which he made the spring in the morning had rendered him
familiar with the route, and it took but a minute or two for him to fill
the gourd and start on his return. He found that a number of young girls
had followed him, and were at his heels all the way back; but, though
they talked a good deal about him, and displayed as much curiosity as
their brothers, they did not molest him. Once, when they ventured rather
too close, Jack whipped out his knife, raised it on high, and made a
leap at them, expanding his eyes to their widest extent, and shouting in
his most terrifying tone, "Boo!"

It produced the effect desired. The young frights scattered with screams
of terror, and hardly ventured to peep out of their homes at the ogre
striding by.

When Jack entered the lodge he found Ogallah awake. Evidently he was not
in good humor, for his manner showed he was scolding his much better
half, who accepted it all without reply or notice. No doubt she received
it as part of the inevitable.

The chief, however, refrained from following the civilized custom of
beating the wife, and when the meat and a species of boiled greens were
laid on the block of wood which answered for a table, his ill-mood
seemed to have passed, and he ate with his usual relish and enjoyment.

Jack Carleton crossed his legs like a tailor at his side of the board,
but before he could eat a mouthful a violent nausea seized him, his head
swam, and he was on the verge of fainting. Ogallah and his squaw noticed
his white face and looked wonderingly at him.

"I'm very ill!" gasped Jack, springing to his feet, staggering a few
steps, and then lunging forward on the bison skin, where he flung
himself down like one without hope.

The violence of the attack quickly subsided, but there remained a
faintness which drove away every particle of appetite, and it was well
that such was the case, for had he taken any food in his condition the
result must have been serious.

Meanwhile the squaw had assumed her place at the table by her liege
lord, and both were champing their meal as though time was limited, and
there was no call to feel any interest in the poor boy who lay on his
rude couch, well assured that his last illness was upon him.

"What do they care for _me_?" muttered Jack, his fright yielding to a
feeling of resentment, as the violence of the attack subsided. "I wonder
that they spared my life so long. They would have been more merciful had
they slain me in the woods as they did Otto, instead of bringing me here
to be tormented to death, and as I know they mean to do with me."

Lying on his arm, he glared at the couple with a revengeful feeling that
was extraordinary under the circumstances. A morbid conviction fastened
itself upon him that Ogallah had taken him to his lodge for the purpose
of keeping him until he was in the best physical condition, when he
would subject him to a series of torturing and fatal ceremonies for the
amusement of the entire village.

In the middle of these remarkable sensations exhausted nature succumbed,
and the captive fell asleep.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

A PATIENT OF THE MEDICINE MAN.


When Jack Carleton awoke, it was night and the rain was falling. He was
feverish and his brain was so overwrought that it was a full minute
before he could call to mind where he was. His slumber had been
disturbed toward the latter part by dreams as wild, vague and
unimaginable as those which taunt the brain of the opium eater.

When he remembered that he was in the wigwam of Ogallah, the chieftain,
he turned upon his side and raised his head on his elbow. The fire at
the other end of the apartment that had been burning brightly, had gone
down somewhat, but enough remained to light up the interior so that the
familiar objects could be seen with considerable distinctness.

He observed the figure of the sachem stretched out in the dilapidated
slouchiness peculiar to himself. He did not bother to remove any of his
clothing, and, though the place was quite chilly he drew none of the
bison robes over him. He had lain down on one, but had managed in some
way to kick it half way across the lodge, and his couch, therefore, was
the simple earth, which served better than a kingly bed of eider down
could have done.

The favorite posture of the queenly consort was not a prone one, but
that of crouching in a heap near the coals, where, with a blanket that
had never been washed since it was put together years before, gathered
about her shoulders, her skinny arms clasping her knees and her head
bowed forward, she would sleep for hours at a time. The reflection of
the flickering flames against her figure caused it to look grotesque in
the fitful light, and the captive gazed at her for a long time, led to
do so by an infatuation which was not strange under the circumstances.

There, too, was the dog which, could he have been given his way, would
have done nothing all his life but sleep and eat. As was his custom, he
was at the feet of his mistress, a position which he seemed to prefer
above all others. Then the blankets, deer and bison skins, and rude
articles hanging about the room, the two columns in the center
supporting the clumsy roof, the craggy logs and sticks at the side, the
hanging skin which served as a door and was barely visible, the tumble
down appearance of everything, and withal the solemn stillness which
brooded within the lodge: all these made the scene weird and impressive
in a striking degree.

The fire burned so fitfully that it threw ghostly shadows about the
apartment, sometimes flooding it with light, and again falling so low
that the other end of the lodge could not be seen at all. Without, the
night could not have been more dismal. There was no thunder or
lightning, and the rain fell with that steady patter on the leaves,
which at ordinary times forms the most soothing accompaniment of sleep,
but which to Jack Carleton only added to his dismal dejection of
spirits.

The roof of the lodge was so thick and diversified in its composition
that the music of the patter on the shingles was lost. At intervals the
wind stirred the limbs, and, though none of the trees were very close,
the lad could hear the soughing among the branches, as the hunter hears
it in early autumn when the leaves begin to fall.

Could the melancholy croaking of frogs in the distance have fallen on
the ears of the boy, he would have had all the factors that go to bring
on the most absolute loneliness of which a human being is capable.
Unfortunately Jack did not need that addition to render his misery
complete, for it was furnished by his own condition and situation.

"I am many long, long miles from home," he reflected, as a sharp pain
gyrated through his brain, and the flickering fire seemed to be bobbing
up and down and back and forth in a witches' dance; "and little hope is
there of my ever seeing mother again. Ah, if I was only there now!"

He let his head fall back and heaved a deep sigh. He recalled his plain
but comfortable bed, which became the most deliciously comfortable the
mind can conceive, when his mother shoved the blankets in about him, or
"tucked him up," as she never failed to do every evening he was at home;
the good-night kiss from those affectionate lips; the magic touch of
those fingers which pushed back the hair from his forehead, ere she
bent over him with the last salute; the loving, caressing care when he
was threatened with the slightest illness, which made the boy long for
illness for the sake of such care: these and other blessed memories came
back with a power which caused the eyes to overflow with sorrow.

Ah, fortunate is that boy, even though his years carry him to the verge
of full manhood, who has his mother to watch over his waking and
sleeping hours, and her prayers to follow his footsteps through life.

The pattering rain, the sighing wind, and the ghostly, semi-darkness
soothed the sachem and his wife, but Jack Carleton was as wide awake as
when pushing across the Mississippi in the half overturned canoe, with
the fierce Shawanoes firing at him and his friends. Probably, in the
entire Indian village, he was the only one who was awake. Had a band of
Sioux or Iroquois stolen through the woods and descended on the Sauks
they would have been found defenceless and unprepared.

Through one of the crevices behind Jack, came a draught of wind which,
striking him on his shoulders, caused him to shiver. He moved a little
distance away, and drew the bison robe closer about him, for though a
raging fever was coursing through his veins, he knew the danger of
subjecting himself to such exposure.

He was consumed with thirst, and seeing the clumsy gourd by the side of
the sleeping squaw, he crawled forward on his hands and knees in the
hope of finding water in it. Fortunately there was an abundance and he
took a long, deep draught of the fluid, which was not very fresh nor
cold, but which was the most refreshing he had ever swallowed.

Creeping back to his primitive couch, he continued a deep mental
discussion of the question whether the best thing he could do was not to
steal out of the lodge and make a break for home. There could be little,
if any doubt, as to the ease with which such a start could be made. He
had only to rise to his feet, pass through the deer-skin door, which was
merely tied in position, and he could travel miles before morning and
before his absence would be noted. The falling rain would obliterate his
trail, so that the keen eyes of the Sauks would be unable to follow it,
and he could make assurance doubly sure by taking to the water until a
bloodhound would turn up his nose in disgust. Furthermore, he was
confident that he would be able to obtain possession of his rifle and
enough ammunition with which to provide himself food on the way home.

This was what may be called the rose-colored view of the scheme, which
had a much more practical side. While under ordinary circumstances Jack
would have been able to take care of himself at a much greater distance
from home, and in a hostile country, yet the alarming fact remained,
that he was seriously ill and such exposure was almost certain to drive
him delirious, with the certainty of death to follow very speedily.

Though he took such a gloomy view of his own position among the Sauks
(whose tribal name, of course, he had not yet learned), he was not
without a certain degree of hope. He had suffered no harm thus far and
it is always the unexpected which happens. While he had declared to
himself that Ogallah was simply training him for the torture, as it may
be expressed, yet it might be the chieftain being without children,
meant to adopt him as a son. If such was his intention, manifestly, the
best thing for Jack to do was to lie still and prayerfully await the
issue of events. No doubt if you or I were in his sad predicament, that
is the course that would have been followed, but Jack could not bring
himself to submit to such inactivity when the prospect of liberty was
before him. Allowance, too, must be made for the condition of the boy.
He was scarcely himself, when, compressing his lips, he muttered,

"I won't stay here! They mean to kill me and I may as well die in the
woods! I will take my gun and go out in the night and storm, and trust
in God to befriend me as He has always done."

Aye, so He had; and so He will always befriend us, if we but use our
opportunities and fly not in His face.

Carefully he rose to his feet, and, gathering the bison robe around his
fevered frame, glanced at the two unconscious figures, and then at the
form of his rifle leaning against the side of the lodge and dimly
revealed in the flickering firelight.

As he stepped forward to recover his gun, everything in the room swam
before his eyes, a million bees seemed to be humming in his brain, and,
clutching the air in a vague way, he sank back on his couch with a
groan, which awakened Ogallah and his squaw. The chief came to the
sitting position with a surprising quickness, while the wife opened her
eyes and glared through the dim firelight at the figure. The dog
slumbered on.

Ogallah seeing that it was only the captive who was probably dying, lay
back again on the bare earth and resumed his sleep. The woman watched
the lad for several minutes as if she felt some interest in learning
whether a pale face passed away in the same manner as one of her own
race. Inasmuch as the sick boy was so long in settling the question, she
closed her eyes and awaited a more convenient season.

From the moment Jack Carleton succumbed, helpless in the grasp of the
fiery fever, he became sick nigh unto death. Those who have been so
afflicted need no attempt to tell his experience or feelings. Why he
should have fallen so critically ill, cannot be judged with certainty,
nor is it a question of importance; the superinducing cause probably lay
in the nervous strain to which he was subjected.

He instantly became delirious and remained so through the night. He
talked of his mother, of Deerfoot, of Otto, and of others; was fleeing
from indescribable dangers, and he frequently cried out in his fright.
The chief and his squaw heard him and understood the cause, but never
raised their hands to give him help.

Jack became more quiet toward morning and fell into a fitful sleep which
lasted until the day was far advanced. Then, when he opened his eyes,
his brain still somewhat clouded, he uttered a gasp of dismay and
terror.

Crouching in the lodge beside him was the most frightful object on which
he had ever looked. It had the form of a man, but was covered with skins
like those of a bear and bison, and a long thick horn projected from
each corner of the forehead. The face, which glared out from this
unsightly dress, was covered with daubs, rings and splashes of red,
white and black paint, applied in the most fantastic fashion. The black
eyes, encircled by yellow rings, suggested a resemblance to some serpent
or reptilian monster. The figure held a kind of rattle made of hollow
horn in either hand, and was watching the countenance of the sick boy
with close attention. When he saw the eyes open, he made a leap in the
air, began a doleful chant, swayed the rattles and leaped about the
lodge in the most grotesque dance that can be imagined. Ogallah and his
squaw were not present, so Jack had the hideous creature all to himself.

Enough sense remained with the boy for him to know that he was the
Medicine Man of the tribe, whom the chieftain had been kind enough to
send to his help. Instead of giving the youth the few simple remedies he
required, he resorted to incantation and sorcery as has been their
custom for hundreds of years. The barbarian fraud continued to chant and
rattle and dance back and forth, until Jack's eyes grew weary of
following the performance. The mind, too, which was so nigh its own
master in the morning, grew weaker, and finally let go its hold.
Sometimes the waltzing Medicine Man suddenly lengthened to the height of
a dozen yards; sometimes he was bobbing about on his head, and again he
was ten times as broad as he was long, and hopping up and down on one
short leg. From the other side of the lodge he often made a bound that
landed him on the bison skin, which lay over the breast of the sick boy,
where he executed a final tattoo that drove the last vestige of
consciousness from him.

It was all a torturing jumble of wild and grim fancies, with occasional
glimmerings of reason, which led Jack to clutch the air as if he would
not let them go; but they whisked away in spite of all he could do, and
a black "rayless void" descended upon and gathered round about him,
until the mind was lost in its own overturnings and struggles, and all
consciousness of being departed.



CHAPTER XXIX.

CONVALESCENCE.


As nearly as can be ascertained, Jack Carleton lay the major part of
four days in the Indian lodge, sick nigh unto death, with his brain
topsy turvy. During that time he never received a drop of medicine, and
scarcely any attention. The chief was gone most of each day, and the
squaw spent many hours out doors, looking after her "farm." When the
patient became unusually wild, she would give him a drink of water and
attend to his wants. A few of the Indians peeped through the door, but
as a whole they showed surprising indifference to the fate of the
captive. Had he died, it is not likely he would have been given even
Indian burial.

Several times the Medicine Man put in an appearance, and danced and
hooted and sounded his rattles about the lodge, after which he took
himself off and would not be seen again for many hours.

On the fourth day, while Jack was lying motionless on his bison skin and
looking up to the composite roof, his full reason returned to him.
Indeed, his brain appeared to have been clarified by the scorching
ordeal through which it had passed, and he saw things with crystalline
clearness. Turning his head, he found he was alone in the lodge, and, as
nearly as he could judge, the afternoon was half gone. The fire had died
out, but the room was quite warm, showing there had been a rise of
temperature since the night of the rain. Peering through the crevices
nearest him, he observed the sunlight was shining, and could catch
twinkling glimpses of Indians moving hither and thither; but there was
no outcry or unusual noise, and business was moving along in its
accustomed channel.

With some trepidation and misgiving, Jack rose on his elbow and then
carefully assumed the sitting position. Every vestige of dizziness had
fled, and his head was as clear as a bell. He was sensible, too, of a
faint and increasing desire for food; but he was equally conscious that
he was very weak, and it must be days before he could recover his normal
strength.

After sitting for a few minutes, he threw the bison skin from him, and
rose to his feet. Having held the prone position so long, he felt
decidedly queer when he stood erect once more. But he walked back and
forth, and knew within himself that the crisis of his illness had passed
and he was convalescent.

Of course it was Jack's vigorous constitution and the recuperating power
of nature which, under Heaven, brought him round. The medicine man had
no more to do with his recovery than have many of our modern medicine
men, who, sit beside the gasping patient, feel his pulse, look at his
tongue and experiment with the credulous dupe.

Jack Carleton possessed enough sense to appreciate his condition. Very
little sickness had he ever known in life, but there had been plenty of
it around him, and his mother was one of those nurses, whose knowledge
far exceeded that of the ordinary physician, and whose presence in the
sick room is of itself a balm and blessing.

The boy knew, therefore, from what he had learned from her, that the
time had come when he must be extremely careful what he ate and how he
conducted himself. Moving over to the unattractive table, he found some
scraps of meat left. They were partly cooked, but likely as good for him
as anything could have been. He ate considerable, chewing it finely, and
finding his appetite satisfied much sooner than he anticipated.

But that for which Jack longed above everything else was a plunge in the
cool water. His underclothing sorely needed changing, and he would have
been absolutely happy could he have been in the hands of his tidy mother
if only for a brief while.

However, there was no help for him, and he could only wait and hope for
better things. After he had resumed his seat on the bison skins, a
project took shape in his mind, which was certainly a wise and prudent
one, with promises of good results. Knowing he was recovering rapidly,
he resolved to keep the fact from his captors. While still gaining
strength and vigor, he would feign weakness and illness, on the watch
for a chance that was sure to come sooner or later, and which he would
thus be able to improve to the utmost.

Convalescence revived with ten-fold force the desire to end his Indian
captivity and return home. Uncertain as he was of the time that had
passed since starting on his hunt, he knew that it was long enough to
awaken the most poignant anguish on the part of his loved mother, who
must suffer far more, before, under the most favorable circumstances, he
could return.

When it was growing dark, Ogallah and his squaw entered. The latter
quickly had the fire going and, as its glow filled the room, both looked
inquiringly at the patient on the other side the lodge. He in turn
assumed, so far as it was possible, the appearance of a person in the
last collapse, and took care that the expression of his countenance
should show no more intelligence and vivacity than that of an idiot.

The couple exchanged a few words, probably referring to Jack, but they
seemed to care little for him, and he was glad that he excited so slight
interest, since they were less likely to suspect the deception he was
practicing upon them. The squaw, after cooking the meat, brought a piece
over to Jack, who stared in an absurd fashion before shaking his head,
and she turned about and resumed her place by the table, after which
she lit her pipe and squatted near the fire.

The patient soon fell into a refreshing sleep, which lasted until it
began growing light, when he awoke, feeling so well that it was hard to
keep from leaping in the air with a shout, and dashing out doors. He was
sure that he could hold his own in a game of _gah-haw-ge_, if the chance
were only given.

But he resolutely forced down his bounding spirits, though he could not
suppress the feeling of hunger which was fast assuming a ravenous
intensity. When the squaw offered him a half cooked piece of meat, he
snatched at it with such wolf-like fierceness that the squaw recoiled
with a grunt of dismay. Jack made sure he had secured the prize, when he
devoured every particle, which luckily was enough fully to satisfy his
appetite.

Whenever the boy saw the chief or his squaw looking at him, he assumed
the role of a dunce, and it must be confessed he played it with
unquestionable fidelity to nature. He probably afforded considerable
amusement to the royal couple who could have had no suspicion that the
hopeful youth was essaying a part.

When the forenoon was well along, the chief and his squaw went out, the
latter probably to do the manual labor, while the former occupied
himself with "sitting around" and criticising the style in which she ran
the agricultural department of the household. The dog rose, stretched,
yawned and then lay down again and resumed his slumber. Jack was
meditating what was best to do, when the door was pushed aside, and the
frightful-looking Medicine Man crouched to the middle of the lodge and
glared at the patient, who looked calmly back again, as though he felt
no special interest in him or anything else, but all the same Jack
watched him with more entertainment than he had ever felt before.

First of all, the man with the horns and rattles, took amazingly long
steps on the toes of his moccasins around the apartment between the two
"columns" which supported the roof, as though afraid of awaking the
baby. At the end of each circumambulation, he would squat like a frog
about to leap off the bank into the water, and glare at the boy, the
corners of whose mouth were twitching with laughter at the grotesque
performance.

When tired of this, the Medicine Man stopped in the middle of the
apartment, and all at once began using his rattles to the utmost, and
dancing with the vigor of a howling dervish. He accompanied, or rather
added to the racket, by a series of "hooh-hoohs!" which were not loud,
but exceedingly dismal in their effect.

The sudden turmoil awoke the canine, which raised his head, and
surveying the scene for a moment, rose, as if in disgust, and started to
trot outdoors to escape the annoyance. As he did so, he passed directly
behind the Medicine Man, who, of course, did not see him. At the proper
moment he made a backward leap, struck both legs against the dog, and
then tumbled over him on his back, with his heels pointing toward the
roof. The angered pup, with a yelp of pain and rage, turned about,
inserted his teeth in the most favorable part of the body, and then
limped out of the wigwam with a few more cries, expressive of his
feelings. The Medicine Man gave one frenzied kick and screech as the
teeth of the canine sank into his flesh, and, scrambling to his feet,
dashed out of the lodge with no thought of the dignity belonging to his
exalted character.

Jack Carleton rolled over on his back and laughed till the tears ran
down his cheeks and he could scarcely breathe. It was the funniest scene
on which he had ever looked, and the reaction, following his long mental
depression, shook him from head to foot with mirth, as he had never been
shaken before. He could not have restrained himself had his life been at
stake. After awhile, he would rub the tears from his eyes, and break
forth again, until, absolutely, he could laugh no more.

Laughter is one of the best tonics in the world, and that which
convulsed Jack Carleton was the very medicine he needed. Though still
weak, he felt so well that he could not have felt better.

"I've no business here," he exclaimed, coming sharply to the upright
position and running his fingers through his hair in a business-like
fashion; "every nerve in my body is just yearning for the cool breath of
the woods, and I feel as though I could run and tumble over the
mountains all day and feel the better for it. But I must keep it up till
the way opens."

After thinking over the matter, he decided to venture outside. Rising to
his feet, he walked briskly to the door, pulled the skin aside and
passed out, immediately assuming the manner and style of a boy who was
barely able to walk and then only with the greatest pain.

He expected a crowd would instantly gather around him, but he actually
limped all the way to the spring without attracting any special
attention. It was inevitable that a number should see him, and two
youngsters called out something, but he made no response and they
forebore to molest him further.

"If I should meet that chap that has found out he can't wrestle as well
as he thought he could, he will hardly be able to keep his hands off me.
Maybe he would find he had made another mistake, and maybe it would be I
who was off my reckoning. However, I've my knife with me, and I will use
that on him if there is any need of it, but I hope there won't be."

The water tasted deliciously cool and pure, and he bathed his hands and
face again and again in it. He longed to take a plunge into the river,
but that would have been impolitic, and he restrained the yearning until
a more convenient season should offer.

Jack finally turned about and began plodding homeward, his eyes and
ears open for all that could be seen and heard. It was a clear warm day,
and the village was unusually quiet. Some of the squaws were working
with their primitive hoes, the children were frolicking along the edge
of the wood, where the shade protected them from the sun, and the
warriors were lolling within the tepees or among the trees. More than
likely the major part of the large boys were hunting or fishing.

Sure enough, Jack was still beyond the limits of the village, when he
saw his old antagonist walking toward him. The Indian lad was alone, but
several squaws and warriors were watching his movements, as though he
had promised them some lively proceedings. Jack noticed that his nose
had assumed its normal proportions, from which he concluded that more
time than was actually the case had elapsed since he himself was
prostrated by illness. The pugnacious youth advanced in his wary
fashion, gradually slackening his gait until nearly opposite the pale
face, who felt that the exigencies of the situation demanded he should
brace up so as to impress the youth with the peril of attacking him.

While several paces separated the two, the Indian came to a halt, as if
waiting for the other. It would not do to show any timidity, and,
without changing in the least his pace, the pale faced youth partly drew
his knife from his girdle and muttered with a savage scowl:

"I'm ready for you, young man!"



CHAPTER XXX.

OUT IN THE WORLD.


It cannot be doubted that the Indian youth intended to make an assault
on Jack Carleton. He must have known of his prostrating illness and
concluded that he was a much less dangerous individual than when they
first met; but there was something in the flash of the captive's eye and
a meaning in the act of drawing his knife part way from his girdle,
which caused the young Sauk to hesitate. Evidently he concluded that
much could be said for and against the prudence of opening hostilities.

Jack strode forward, with his shoulders thrown back and a scowl, as
though he preferred that the youth should make the attack. He kept his
gaze on the savage until some distance beyond him, the latter turning as
if on a pivot and narrowly watching him to the very door of the lodge.
Jack then withdrew his attention and took a survey of matters in front.

The same quiet which he had noticed a short time before held reign. The
few Indians moving about paid no attention to the lad, with the
exception, perhaps, of one: that was Ogallah, the chieftain who had just
noticed him on his return from the spring. The noble head of the band
was lolling in the shade of one of the wigwams, discussing affairs of
state with one of his cabinet, when he observed the youth. Summoning all
his latent energy, he rose to his feet and strolled in the direction of
his own home. The moment Jack saw him, he assumed the most woe-begone
appearance it was possible to wear. The defiant attitude and manner,
which were a challenge of themselves, vanished: the shoulders drooped
forward: the step became slouchy and uncertain, and the poor fellow
looked as if about to sink to the ground in a final collapse.

Pretending not to see the sachem, Jack feebly drew the bison skin aside
and pitched into the lodge. Glancing around, he found he was alone,
whereupon he strode straight across the space, lay back on his couch,
and kicked up his heels like a crowing infant.

"I must work off some of this steam or I shall burst," he said to
himself, rolling and tumbling about in the very abandon of rapid
convalescence: "It's hard work for me to play sick, but it must be done
for the big prize that is at stake."

He kept close watch on the entrance, and, when a hand suddenly drew the
skin aside and the bent figure of the chieftain came through and
straightened up within the lodge, young Carleton had the appearance of a
person whose sands of life were nearly run out.

Ogallah walked forward and examined him closely. He saw a youth who was
unquestionably a "pale face," staring vacantly at him for a few seconds,
and who then rolled on his face with a groan that must have been heard
some distance beyond the lodge. Restless flingings of the limbs
followed, and, when the sachem turned away, he must have concluded that
it would never be his privilege to adopt the young gentleman into his
family.

Toward night the squaw and dog appeared and the domestic economy of the
aboriginal residence went on as before. When a piece of cooked meat was
brought to Jack, he devoured it with a ferocity which threatened
incurable dyspepsia, and he swallowed a goodly draught of water freshly
brought from the spring.

Recalling the mistake he made while on the journey through the woods to
the village, Jack Carleton resolved he would not fail through any
similar forgetfulness. He fell asleep at that time on account of his
exhaustion, but now the case was different: he had had enough slumber to
last two days, while his brain was so clear and full of the scheme that
it was impossible for him to rest until after it had been tested.

Nothing is more weary than the waiting which one has to undergo when
placed in his position. The hours drag by with scarcely moving
footsteps, and before the turn of night comes, one is apt to believe the
break of day is at hand. From his couch, Jack furtively watched how
things went, which was much the same as he had seen before.

The pup ate until they would give him no more and then stretched out at
the feet of the squaw, who, having finished her meal, lit her pipe and
puffed away with the dull animal enjoyment natural to her race. The
chief himself led in that respect, and the two kept it up, as it seemed
to Jack, doubly as long as ever before. At last they lay down and
slept.

The captive had noted where his rifle was placed. It leaned against the
side of the lodge where it had stood every time he saw it, so that, if
he could steal out of the place in the night without arousing the
inmates, it would be easy for him to take the gun with him.

The fire flickered and burned up, then sank, flared up again, and at
last went into a steady decline, which left the room filled with a dull
glow that would have failed to identify the objects in sight had not the
boy been familiar with their appearance.

When convinced that the two were sound asleep, Jack repeated the prayer
that had trembled so many times on his lips, rose as silently as a
shadow, and began moving across the lodge on tip-toes to where his
invaluable rifle leaned. Lightly would that warrior have need to sleep
to be aroused by such faint footfalls.

The boy had not yet reached his weapon, when he was almost transfixed by
the vivid recollection of the attempt he made to get away when on the
journey to the village. He believed his liberty was secured, when he
suddenly awoke to the fact that Ogallah and his warriors were trifling
with him.

Could it be the chief had read in the captive's face the evidence of his
intention?

This was the question which for the moment held life in suspense, while
Jack Carleton stood in the middle of the dimly lit wigwam and gazed
doubtingly toward the figures near the smoldering fire.

"Likely enough he is only pretending he's asleep, and, just as I am sure
the way is clear, he will spring to his feet and grab me."

It was a startling thought indeed, and there were a few moments when the
lad was actually unable to stir; but he quickly rallied and smiled at
his own fears.

"If I once get my gun in hand, he won't be able to stop me----"

He was reaching forward to grasp it, when one of the embers fell apart,
and a yellow twist of flame filled the apartment with a glow which
revealed everything. Jack stopped with a faint gasp and turned his head,
sure that the chief was on the point of leaping upon him; but he was as
motionless as a log, and the hand of the boy was upraised again as he
took another stealthy step forward. A half step more, and his fingers
closed around the barrel. The touch of the cold iron sent a thrill
through him, for it was like the palpable hand of Hope itself.

The powder horn lay on the ground beside the weapon, the Indian having
made no use of either since they came into his possession. The string
was quickly flung over the shoulder of the boy, who then began moving in
the same guarded fashion toward the door, throwing furtive glances over
his shoulder at the king and queen, who did not dream of what was going
on in their palace.

Jack Carleton "crossed the Rubicon" when he lifted the rifle and powder
horn from the ground. Had he been checked previous to that he would have
turned back to his couch, and made the pretense that what he did was the
result of a delirium. But with the possession of his weapon came a
self-confidence that would permit no obstruction to divert him from his
purpose. He would not have fired on the chief or his squaw (except to
save his own life), for that would have been unpardonable cruelty, but
he would have made a dash into the outer air, where he was sure of
eluding his pursuers, so long as the night lasted.

But the slumber of the couple was genuine. They did not stir or do
anything except to breathe in their sonorous fashion. Jack took hold of
the bison skin to draw it aside, when he found the door was locked. It
was an easy matter, however, to unfasten it, and a single step placed
him outside the wigwam.

Instead of hurrying away, as his impatience prompted him to do, the
youth stood several minutes surveying the scene around him. The Sauk
village was asleep, and the scrutiny which he made of the collection of
wigwams failed to show a single star-like twinkle of light. The night
was clear, and a gibbous moon was high in the sky. Patches of clouds
drifted in front of the orb, and fantastic shadows whisked across the
clearing and over the wigwams and trees. The dwellings of the Indians
looked unsightly and misshapen in the shifting light, and Jack felt as
though he were gazing upon a village of the dead.

Turning to the southward, he faced the narrow, winding river. From the
front of the chieftain's lodge, he caught the glimmer of its surface
and the murmur of its flow, as it swept by in the gloom on its way to
the distant Gulf. A soft roaring sound, such as we notice when a
sea-shell is held to the ear crept through the solitude like the voice
of silence itself.

Jack was impressed by the scene, but when he saw a shadowy figure flit
between two of the wigwams, and was certain he heard a movement in the
lodge behind him, he hastily concluded it was the time for action and
not meditation. With a start that might have betrayed him, he quickly
left his position and hastened away.

It was natural that the many hours devoted by Jack during his
convalescence, to forming his plan of procedure, should have fixed the
plan he meant to follow. Thus it was that the few minutes spent in front
of the chieftain's lodge were not occupied in debating the proper course
to take, and, when he once made a start, he went straight ahead without
turning to the right or left.

The reader will readily see how great were the advantages on the side of
the fugitive. He was certain of a fair start, which ought to have made
his position absolutely safe, for if the American Indian is
phenomenally skillful in following the trail of an enemy through the
wilderness, that enemy, if he suspects such pursuit, ought to be able to
throw him irrecoverably from the scent.

Furthermore, it is scarcely conceivable that the trail of Jack Carleton
could be taken at the door of Ogallah's wigwam and followed as the
warriors trailed a fugitive through the woods; for the ground whereon he
walked had been tramped hard by multitudinous feet, and the faint
impressions of the boy's shoes could not be individualized among the
thousand footprints. It was far different from fleeing from a camp in
the woods, where his trail crossed and was interfered with by no other,
and where the slightest depression or overturning of the leaves was like
the impression on the dusty highway.

The fugitive's first intention was to take to the woods, and guiding his
course by the moon and sun, travel with all the speed and push at his
command. Fortunately he was enabled to see that such a course was almost
certain to bring disaster. Instead of doing that, he went directly to
the river side, where he had seen the Indians frolicking in the water,
and he himself had so often sighed for the same delicious privilege.

There were five canoes partly drawn up the bank and waiting the will of
their owner. They were made of bark with curved ends, fantastically
painted, and each was capable of carrying, at least, six or eight
able-bodied warriors. They were so light that the lad found no trouble
in shoving the first clear of the shore, and sending it skimming out
into the stream. As it slackened its pace, it turned part way round,
like a bewildered swan, as if uncertain which way to go. Then it sailed
triangularly down current, much after the manner of Ogallah's dog when
on a trot.

It was not more than fairly under way, when the second glided out after
it, then the third, the fourth and finally the fifth and last. This
contained Jack Carleton who took the long ashen paddle in hand and began
plying it with considerable skill. He was paying less attention to his
own progress than to the manipulation of the other canoes, which he had
set free for a special purpose.

He kept the five in the middle of the current until a fourth of a mile
was passed. Then he gave one such a violent push that it ran its snout
against the bank and stuck fast. Some distance down stream he repeated
the man[oe]uvre with the second boat against the opposite shore,
continuing the curious proceeding until he was alone in the single
canoe, floating down stream.



CHAPTER XXXI.

JOURNEYING EASTWARD.


Jack Carleton reasoned in this wise:

In the morning Ogallah would notice his absence from the lodge and would
make immediate search for him. He would quickly learn that the entire
navy of his nation had vanished as completely as has our own, and the
conclusion would be warranted that it had either run away with the pale
face or the pale face had run away with the navy: at any rate they had
gone off in company and the hunt would begin.

A quarter of a mile down stream, the first installment of the fleet
would be found stranded on the southern shore, as though it was used to
set the fashion followed by our country a century later. The conclusion
would be formed that the audacious fugitive had landed at that point and
plunged into the interior; but a brief examination would show the Sauks
their mistake and they would rush on along the banks until the second
craft was discovered, when the same disappointment would follow.

This would continue until every one of the five canoes had been found
and examined. Inasmuch as the fifth contained Jack himself, it will be
seen that more care was required in his case; but the programme had been
laid out to its minutest details while the enemy was a guest in the
lodge of the king.

After the fourth canoe had been stuck against the bank, the number lying
on alternate sides, Jack removed his clothing and letting himself over
the stern, plunged into the cool, refreshing current, where he dove,
frolicked, sported, and enjoyed himself to the full--his happiness such
that he could hardly refrain from shouting for very joy. He kept this up
as long as prudent, when he clambered into the boat again, donned his
clothing, floated a short distance further, and shot the craft into land
with a force that held it fast.

A brief calculation will show that the boy had gone something more than
a mile from the Indian village, and he had secured what may well be
termed a winning lead; but much still remained to be done. He was now
about to leave the element where even the trained bloodhound would be at
fault, and step upon the land, where the keen eye of the Sauk warrior
would follow his footprints with the surety of fate itself. Hence it
depended on his covering up the tell-tale trail, unless chance, against
which no one can guard, should direct his pursuers to it.

Both shores of the stream were covered with forest which grew to the
edge of the water. In some places there was undergrowth which overhung
the river, but it was not very plentiful. The position of the moon in
the sky was such that most of the time the middle of the stream
reflected its light, while the shores were in shadow. These looked
indescribably gloomy, and but for bounding spirits which set the whole
being of the lad aglow, he would have been oppressed to an unbearable
degree. The course of the river for the first mile was remarkably
straight, but it made a sweeping bend just before Jack ran his canoe
into shore. His aim now was to quit the water without leaving any
tell-tale traces behind. If he stepped ashore and walked away never so
carefully, he would fail to do what was absolutely necessary. He
believed he accomplished his purpose, by running the boat under some
overhanging undergrowth, where he laboriously pulled it up the bank,
until it could not be seen by any one passing up or down stream, and
could be found by no one moving along the shore itself, unless he paused
and made search at the exact spot. The probability of any Indian doing
such a thing, it will be conceded, was as unlikely as it could be.

But, on the other hand, the first step the fugitive took would leave an
impression which would tell the whole story, and it now depended on the
manner in which he overcame that special danger. Carefully sounding the
water, Jack found it was quite shallow close to land. He therefore waded
a full hundred yards from the canoe before leaving the stream, and then,
with his clothing saturated to his knees, he stepped ashore, took a
score of long careful steps straight away, and his flight, it may be
said, was fairly begun.

"I don't know that I have done so much after all," said he, when he had
reached a point a hundred yards from the stream, "for some one of the
Indians may strike my trail before sunrise to-morrow morning; but I have
done all I can at the start, and if I can have a few miles the lead,
it'll be no fun for them to overtake me."

There was no reason why such an advantage should not be secured, for,
although the moon was of no help to him in determining his course, he
had studied the whole thing so carefully while lying in the lodge of the
chieftain Ogallah, that he was as sure of the direction as if he held a
mariner's compass in his hand.

Jack, it will be borne in mind was in the southern portion of the
present State of Missouri, the frontier settlement of Martinsville lying
at no great distance westward from Kentucky, and north of the boundary
line of Arkansas, as it has existed since the formation of that
Territory and State. The Sauk party of Indians who made him captive had
pursued an almost westerly direction, taking him well toward the Ozark
region, if not actually within that mountainous section. It followed,
therefore, that he should pursue the easterly course, for the stream
along which he had been borne, had carried him almost due north, and it
was not necessary for him to diverge in order to leave it well behind.

The fugitive lost no time, but pushed through the wood as fast as he
could. It was hard to restrain his desire to break into a run, but he
did so, for nothing could have been gained and much was likely to be
lost by such a course. Despite the bright moon overhead, few of its rays
found their way through the dense vegetation and foliage. Though he
encountered little undergrowth, yet he was compelled to use his hands as
well as his eyes in order to escape painful accidents.

The hours of darkness were valuable to Jack, yet he longed for daylight.
He wanted to be able to see where he was going, and to use what little
woodcraft he possessed. So long as he was obliged to keep one hand
extended in front in order to save his face and neck, he could adopt no
precautions to hide his footprints from the prying eyes of his enemies.
He knew he was leaving a trail which was as easy for his enemies to
follow, as though he walked in the yielding sand. Much as he regretted
the fact, it could not be helped so long as the darkness lasted, and he
wasted no efforts in the attempt to do so. It would be far otherwise
when he should have daylight to help him.

Fortunately perhaps, he had not long to wait. He had not gone far when
he observed the increasing light which speedily announced the rising of
the sun; but he was shocked to find that despite his care and previous
experience in tramping through the wilderness, he had got much off his
course. Instead of the orb appearing directly in front of him, as he
expected it to do, it rose on his right hand, showing that instead of
pursuing an easterly course he was going north--a direction which took
him very little nearer his home than if he traveled directly opposite.

As may be supposed, Jack had no sooner learned his mistake than he faced
about and corrected it.

"I've got my bearings now," he muttered confidently, "and I know too
much about this business to drift off again. Hurrah!"

He could not deny himself the luxury of one shout and the toss of his
cap in the air. This completed, he strode forward with more dignified
step, and settled down to work, after the manner of a sensible youth who
appreciates the task before him. He calculated that he was two or three
miles from the Indian village, much closer than was comfortable, and he
could not stop to eat or rest until it should be increased. He felt that
this day was to be the decisive one. If he could keep beyond the reach
of his pursuers until the setting of the sun, he would throw them off
his trail so effectively that they could never recover it.

"And why shouldn't I do it?" he asked, confidently: "Deerfoot taught me
how to hide my tracks, and I never can have a better chance than now,
where everything is in my favor."

He alluded to the number of streams, the rocky and diversified surface
and the general rugged character of the country through which his
journey was leading him.

In such a region there must be numerous opportunities for covering his
trail from the penetrating glance of those who had spent their lives in
studying the ways of the woods. The stealthy tread of the shoe or
moccasin over the flinty rock left no impression, but it was hardly
possible to find enough of such surface to prove of value; but when he
caught the gleam of water through the trees, his heart gave a leap of
pleasure.

"_This_ is what I wanted," he exclaimed, coming to a halt on the bank of
a rapidly flowing creek, some fifty feet wide: "here is something that
will wipe out a fellow's trail."

The current was fairly clear and rapid. It was evidently deep, and it
seemed to the lad that it was the compression of a considerably wider
stream into a space that added velocity to its flow. Its general course,
so far as he could learn, was eastwardly, and was therefore favorable to
him.

There was but the one way of utilizing the creek, and that was by
floating over its surface. Jack could have strapped his gun to his back
and swum a considerable distance, but that would have been a useless
exertion attended by many discomforts. His purpose was to build a raft
or float which would allow the current to carry him for a mile or so,
when he could land and continue his journey.

Better fortune than he anticipated awaited him. While moving along the
shore in search of logs and decayed wood from which to construct his
float, he was astonished to run plump upon an Indian canoe, which was
drawn up the bank beyond the probability of discovery.

"Well, now that _is_ lucky!" exclaimed the gratified lad, who quickly
added the saving clause, "that is, I _hope_ it is, though where you
find canoes, it is best to suspect Indians."

He looked for them, but no sign greeted eye or ear. He supposed the boat
belonged to the tribe which he had left the night before, though it was
somewhat singular that it should have been moored such a distance from
home. Possibly this was a much used ferry where something of the kind
was found convenient.

Nothing was to be gained by speculating about the ownership of the
craft, but the part of wisdom was to make use of the means that was so
fortunately placed within his reach. Without any delay, therefore, he
shoved the frail structure into the water, leaping into it as it shot
from shore. No paddle could be found on or about the vessel, and he used
his rifle for the implement, as he had done more than once before.
Holding it by the barrel, he swung the stock through the current and
found it served his purpose well. A slight force is sufficient to propel
an Indian canoe through or over the water, and the task was easy enough
for Jack Carleton.

"It may be this boat belongs to some other Indians who do not live very
far off, and if they should come down and find me sailing away with it,
I don't know what would follow."

However, the opportunity was the very one he was anxious to secure, and
he was too wise to allow any fancy that might cross his mind to frighten
him from turning it to the best account. Guiding the canoe to the middle
of the creek, he faced down current, and used his improvised paddle with
all the skill and strength at his command. The stream, as I have said,
ran rapidly, so that with his exertions he made good progress.

He was struck with the similarity of the shores to those of the larger
stream which ran by the Indian village. The wood was dense, and at
intervals was so exuberant that it looked difficult for a rabbit to
penetrate. Then came long spaces where the forest was so open that he
could look far into its depths. The course of the creek was so winding
that he could see only a short distance ahead, and several times his own
momentum carried him close into land before he could accommodate himself
to the abrupt curve around which he shot with no inconsiderable speed.

There remained the comforting thought that every minute thus occupied
was taking him further from his captors, who were without the means of
following his trail; but at the very moment when Jack was felicitating
himself on the fact, he was startled by a most alarming discovery.



CHAPTER XXXII.

A MISCALCULATION.


The youth had stopped paddling for a few minutes' rest, when he observed
that he was close upon a broad clearing which came close to the water's
edge. He had scarcely time to notice that much when he saw several large
conical objects, and before he knew it, he was floating in front of an
Indian village, numbering some twelve or fifteen wigwams. Squaws,
children, and even warriors were lolling about very much as in the Sauk
village, from which he had fled only a short time before.

It fairly took away the breath of Jack. In all his fancies he had not
once thought of anything like this, or he would have avoided running
into what promised to prove a fatal trap.

"My gracious!" he gasped, "this is a little too much of a good thing;
it'll never do at all."

The settlement was on the right hand bank of the stream, which just
there had a northerly course. It was, therefore, on the shore where the
fugitive desired to land. Dipping his improvised paddle, he drove the
boat ahead with all the power he could command, and drew a breath of
partial relief, when another sweeping curve shut him from sight.

It was apparent that the Indians failed to grasp the situation in its
entirety. They were accustomed to see white men hunting and trapping in
that region, and they may have felt no wish to molest one of their
number, though tempted so to do by his unprotected situation. At any
rate, they stared at the canoe without offering to disturb its occupant.
The black-eyed youngsters gaped wonderingly, and Jack saw several point
in his direction, while they doubtless indulged in observations
concerning him.

But it need not be said that he was frightened almost out of his wits,
and filled with self-disgust that he should have gone blindly into a
peril against which a child ought to have mounted guard. The moment he
felt he was out of sight of the redmen, who showed far less curiosity
than he expected, he sprang ashore and shoved the canoe back into the
current, which speedily carried it out of sight. Having landed, Jack
hastened among the trees at the fastest gait possible. He was close to
the village, although beyond sight. Glancing over his shoulder he
expected every minute to see some of the dusky warriors, and to hear
their whoops as they broke in pursuit.

It must have been that this particular Indian village felt little if any
interest in the white youth who paddled in front of their door, for not
one of the number made a move by way of pursuit.

When Jack had pushed through the wilderness for a couple of miles he
formed the same conclusion, and dropped to a deliberate walk. The face
of the country was rocky and broken, and he was confident that in many
places he had left no trail at all. But, with that conviction came two
others: he not only was tired but was excessively hungry. He had caught
sight of game more than once while on the march, as it may be called,
but refrained from firing through fear that the report of his gun would
guide others who were hunting for him. At the same time he had twice
heard the discharge of rifles at widely separated points. Probably they
were fired by Indians on the hunt, or possibly some of the trappers of
that section had not yet started on their long journey to St. Louis. At
any rate when the sun had passed the meridian and the afternoon was well
advanced, he made up his mind that he would take the first chance to
secure food, no matter in what shape it presented itself.

He smiled to himself, when within the succeeding ten minutes he caught
sight of a young deer among the trees less than one hundred feet in
advance. It bounded off affrighted by the figure of the youth, who,
however, was so nigh that he brought it to the ground without
difficulty.

When he ran forward to dress it, he was surprised to find it had fallen
within a rod of a ravine fifty feet deep.

This ravine, which had evidently been a cañon or ancient bed of some
mountain stream, was twenty yards or more in width, the rocky walls
being covered with a mass of luxuriant, creeping vines, through which
the gray of the rocks could be seen only at widely separated intervals.
The bottom was piled up with the luxuriant vegetable growth of a soil
surcharged with richness.

Jack Carleton took only time enough to comprehend these points when he
set to work kindling a fire against the trunk of a tree which grew close
to the ravine. When that was fairly going, he cut the choicest slices
from his game, and it was speedily broiled over the blaze. There was no
water, so far as he knew, closer than the creek, but he did not
specially miss it. Seasoned by his keen hunger, the venison was the very
acme of deliciousness, and he ate until he craved no more.

Then as he sat down on the leaves with his back to the tree opposite the
blaze, he probably felt as comfortable as one in his situation could
feel. He had pushed his strength almost to a dangerous verge, when rest
became a luxury, and as he leaned against the shaggy bark behind him, it
seemed as though he could sit thus for many hours without wishing to
stir a limb.

"I suppose," he said to himself in a drowsy tone, "that I ought to keep
on the tramp until night, when I can crawl in behind some log and sleep
till morning. It may be that one or two of the warriors from that last
village are on my trail, but it don't look like it, and a fellow can't
tramp forever without rest. I'll stop here for an hour or two, and then
go ahead until dark. There's one thing certain,--I've thrown Ogallah and
his friends so far off my track that they'll never be able to find it
again."

If any conclusion could be warranted, it would seem that this was of
that nature, and yet by an extraordinary chain of circumstances the very
danger which was supposed to have ended, was the one which came upon the
fugitive.

As he had anticipated, the method of his flight was discovered very
early the succeeding morning, and many of the warriors and large boys
started in pursuit. The hunt was pressed with a promptness and skill
scarcely conceivable. It was inevitable that they should be puzzled by
the singular proceeding with the canoes, and the pursuers became
scattered, each intent on following out his own theory, as is the case
with a party of detectives in these later days. The last boat was not
found, but the identical youth who had fared so ill at the hands of
Jack, came upon his trail where it left the river. His black eyes glowed
with anticipated revenge, which is one of the most blissful emotions
that can stir the heart of the American Indian.

The young Sauk might have brought a half dozen older warriors around him
by uttering a simple signal, but nothing could have induced him to do
so. He had his gun, knife, and tomahawk,--all the weapons he could carry
and all that were possibly needed. He had learned long before to trail
his people through the labyrinthine forest, and in a year more he
expected to go upon his first war trail. He hated with an
inextinguishable hatred the pale face who had overthrown him in the
wrestling bout and then had struck him a blow in the face, which,
figuratively speaking, compelled him to carry his nose for several days
in a sling. Ogallah had protected the sick pale face from molestation,
but now the chief was the most eager for his death.

The fugitive evidently believed he was safe against all pursuit, and it
would therefore be the easier to surprise him. What greater feat could
the young Sauk perform than to follow and secretly slay the detested
lad? What a triumph it would be to return to the village with his scalp
dangling at his girdle!

Holding his peace (though it was hard to keep down the shout of joy that
rose to his lips), he bounded away like a bloodhound in pursuit.

Despite the precautions taken by Jack Carleton, the pursuer found
little trouble in keeping to his trail, until it abruptly terminated on
the bank of the creek, where advantage had been taken of the canoe.
There he paused for a time at a loss what to do.

Of course he knew of the Indian village at no great distance down stream
and on the other side. Familiar as he was with the creek, he kept on
until he reached a place where it broadened and was so shallow that he
waded over without trouble. The red men whom he visited were friendly
with the offshoot of the Sauk tribe, so that no risk was run in going
among them. When he did so, as a matter of course, he gained the very
information he was seeking; the canoe with the fugitive in it went by
the village early in the morning. The pursuer declined the offer of help
and went on alone. He was hardly outside the village when he struck the
trail again, and, knowing he was at no great distance from the youth, he
followed with a vigor and persistency that would not be denied.

But during most of the time he was thus employed, Jack Carleton was
similarly engaged, and, despite the energy of the young Sauk, the hours
slipped by without bringing him a sight of the pale face, whose scalp he
meant to bring back suspended to his girdle. The fugitive had about
recovered his usual health, and he improved the time while it was his.
Had he pushed forward until nightfall before halting for food or rest,
he never would have been overtaken.

But the signs showed the dusky youth that he was close upon the
unsuspicious pale face, and he strode along with the care and skill of a
veteran warrior. Finally his trained senses detected the smell of
burning wood, and a moment later he caught sight of the camp-fire of
Jack Carleton. The Indian stopped, and after some reconnoitering,
concluded he could gain a better view from the other side the camp. With
incredible pains he moved around to that side and was gratified by a
success which glowed in his swarthy countenance and through his
well-knit frame.

He saw the pale face sitting on the ground, with his back against a
tree, his mouth open, and his eyes closed. His gun rested on the ground
beside him, and the wearied fugitive was asleep, and as helpless as an
infant.

The Sauk had only to raise his gun, take a quick aim, and shoot him
dead, before he awoke or learned his danger. He could leap upon and
finish him with his knife, but that would involve some risk to himself.
He decided to drive his tomahawk into the skull of his victim, and to
scalp him immediately after.

As the first step toward doing so, he leaned his rifle against the
nearest tree, so as to leave his arms free, and then, without any more
ado, grasped the handle of his tomahawk and poised himself with the
purpose of hurling it with resistless force and unerring aim. He was not
twenty feet distant from Jack; but while in the very act of raising the
missile above his head, his arm was struck a side blow so violent as
almost to break the bone. The tomahawk flew from his grasp to the earth,
and in a twinkling some one caught him around the waist, lifted him
clear of the ground, ran rapidly the few paces necessary, and flung him
over the rocks into the ravine!

The Sauk struggled desperately to save himself, but he could not check,
though he retarded his descent. He landed with a force that knocked the
breath from him, but the abundance of vines and vegetable growth saved
his life. After a time he slowly gathered himself together, and seeing
nothing of the enemy who had handled him so ruthlessly, he slowly
climbed to his feet and began picking his way out of the ravine.

He was compelled to walk a long distance before reaching a place where
he was able to clamber to the level ground above. When at last he
managed to do so, he sat down on a fallen tree to rest and indulge in a
retrospective survey.

His rifle and tomahawk were irrecoverably gone, and nothing would have
induced him to go back to look for them. If his right arm was not
broken, it was so injured and lamed that a long time must elapse before
he could use it, and altogether his enterprise could only be regarded as
a disastrous failure.

"It was an Indian that struck the tomahawk from my grasp," reflected the
victimized Sauk; "he was a terrible warrior!"

The youth was right in each respect, for the name of the Indian who made
such short work with him was Deerfoot the Shawanoe.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

CONCLUSION.


Jack Carleton was in the middle of a pleasant dream of home and friends,
when a light touch on his shoulder caused him to open his eyes and look
up with a quick, inquiring glance.

"Helloa! Deerfoot, is that you?" he exclaimed, springing to his feet and
grasping the hand of his old friend, on whose handsome features lingered
the shadowy smile which told of the pleasure he felt in finding his
beloved friend after such a long search.

"Deerfoot is glad to take the hand of his brother and press it; he has
hunted a good while for him and his heart was sad that he did not find
him."

"How, in the name of conscience, did you ever find me at all?" demanded
Jack, who slapped him on his back, pinched his arm, and treated him
with a familiarity which few dared show toward him.

"I've had a very curious time, I can tell you, old fellow--helloa! where
did that gun come from, and that tomahawk?" exclaimed the wondering
youth, catching sight of the weapons.

"'Twill be well if my brother does not stay here," replied the young
Shawanoe, who, while he felt no particular fear of the Sauk whom he had
flung into the ravine, saw the possibility of his procuring friends and
coming back to revenge himself. Prudence suggested that the two should
secure themselves against such peril. Deerfoot, therefore, picked up the
tomahawk, shoved it into the girdle around his waist, grasped the rifle
in his right hand, and strode forward with his free, easy, swinging
gait. As there was no call for special caution, he told the story of his
encounter with the young Sauk who had raised his tomahawk to brain his
sleeping friend. Deerfoot's first intention was to drive an arrow
through his body, but he chose the method already described of
frustrating his purpose.

To make his story complete, it was necessary for the young Shawanoe to
begin with his visit to Jack's mother, and to describe the mental agony
of the good parent over the unaccountable absence of her boy. Then he
told of his meeting with the Sauk warrior, Hay-uta, who made such a
determined effort to take his life. From him he learned that a white
youth was a captive in the village, and he concluded, as a matter of
course, that there were to be found both Jack and Otto, though no
reference was made to the latter. The sagacious Shawanoe, however,
discovered an important fact or two which I did not refer to in telling
the incident. The first was that Hay-uta was one of the five Sauks who
separated from the other five directly after the capture of the boys.
With his company was Otto Relstaub, the Dutch youth, while Jack Carleton
was with the other. Hay-uta and his friends were on their way to the
village, and were almost within sight of it, when Hay-uta felt such
dissatisfaction over their failure to bring back any scalps or plunder,
that he drew off and declared he would not go home until he secured some
prize of that nature. His encounter with Deerfoot followed. When he left
the latter he went straight to his village. Deerfoot could have trailed
him without trouble, but, inasmuch as the Sauk had departed in that
manner, and the Shawanoe knew where his village lay, he purposely
avoided his trail, and followed a course that diverged so far to the
right that he first reached the village passed by Jack in his canoe. His
arrival, as sometimes happens in this life, was in the very nick of
time. From the red men, who showed a friendly disposition toward him, he
learned that not only had a pale face youth passed down the stream in a
canoe, but a young warrior aflame with passion was close behind him.

The wise Deerfoot was quick to grasp the situation, and he set out
hot-footed after the aforesaid flaming young warrior, and followed him
with such celerity that he came in sight of him long before the Sauk
arrived at the camp-fire. Little did the furious young Sauk dream, while
panting with anticipated revenge, and aglow with exultation, that one of
his own race was close upon his heels, ready to launch his deadly arrow
at any moment, and only waiting to decide in what manner the Sauk should
be "eliminated" from the whole business.

Seated around the camp fire late that night, the two friends talked over
the past. Jack gave full particulars of what befell him since his
capture by the Indians, up to the hour when Deerfoot joined him. The
young Shawanoe listened with great interest to the story, for it will be
admitted that in many respects it was an extraordinary narrative. He
told Jack that the people with whom he had passed more than a week were
Sauks, under the leadership of the chieftain whose lodge had sheltered
the prisoner during his captivity. The Sauks were a brave, warlike
people, and this offshoot, which had located in that portion of Upper
Louisiana, was among the most daring and vindictive of the tribe. Their
leniency toward Jack was remarkable, and could only be accounted for on
the supposition that Ogallah took a fancy to the youth and meant to
adopt him into his family. It was not at all unlikely that Jack's
suspicion that they were "training" him to figure in a scene of torture
was correct. His escape, therefore, could not have been more opportune.

Let not the reader accuse the two of indifference, because so little has
been recorded in their conversation, concerning Otto Relstaub, the
companion of both in more than one scene of peril, and held by them in
strongest friendship. They had talked more of him than of any one else,
though Jack's heart was oppressed by a great sorrow when he thought of
his mother and her grief over his continued absence. Jack had asked
Deerfoot over and over again as to his belief concerning their absent
friend, but the Shawanoe, for a long time, evaded a direct answer.

"I can tell you what _I_ think," said Jack with a compression of his
lips and a shake of his head: "Otto is dead."

"How did my brother meet his death?" calmly asked Deerfoot.

"Those five warriors started by another route to the village and they
meant to take him there as they took me. After Hay-uta, as I believe you
call your friend, left, they made up their minds that it wasn't of any
use to bother with poor Otto, and so they tomahawked or shot him."

Having given his theory, Jack Carleton turned toward the young Shawanoe
for his comment, but he sat looking intently in the fire and remained
silent. Resolved that he should say something on the painful subject,
Jack touched his arm.

"Deerfoot, do you think I am right?"

The Indian looked in his face and still mute, nodded his head to signify
he agreed with him.

"Poor Otto," added Jack with a sigh, "I wonder how his father and mother
will feel when they learn that their boy will never come back."

"They will mourn because the horse was not found," was the
characteristic remark of Deerfoot.

"You are right," exclaimed Jack, with a flash of the eye; "if old Jacob
Relstaub could get his horse, I believe he and his wife would go on and
smoke their pipes with as much piggish enjoyment as before, caring
nothing for their only child. How different my mother!" he added in a
softer voice: "she would give her life to save mine, as I would give
mine to keep trouble from her. I say, Deerfoot, Otto and I were a couple
of fools to start out to hunt a horse that had been lost so many days
before and of which we hadn't the slightest trace--don't you think so?"

The young Shawanoe once more turned and looked in his face with a
mournful expression, and nodded his head with more emphasis than before.

"I knew you would agree with me," assented Jack, "though, to tell the
truth, I had very little hope myself that we would ever get sight of
the animal, but old Jacob Relstaub really drove Otto out of his house
and compelled him to go off on the wild goose hunt. I couldn't let him
go alone and, with mother's consent, I kept him company."

"My brother pleased the Great Spirit, and Deerfoot will pray that he
shall ever act so that the Great Spirit will smile on him."

"I shall most certainly try to do so," said Jack with a resolute shake
of his head: "He has shown me a hundred-fold more mercies than I deserve
and I mean to prove that I have some gratitude in me."

The conversation went on in this fashion until the evening was far
along, when Jack lay down near the fire, intending to sleep for the rest
of the night. Deerfoot assured him there was no danger and as was his
custom, the young Shawanoe brought forth his Bible to spend an hour or
so in studying its pages. Before he had fixed upon the portion, Jack
Carleton came to the sitting position and, with some excitement in his
manner, said:

"Deerfoot, I forgot to tell you something: I don't know how it came to
slip my mind."

The Indian looked in his face and quietly awaited his explanation.

"One of those Sauks that belonged to Otto's party came into the lodge of
Ogallah when I was there, and I think he tried to tell me something
about Otto, but I couldn't understand his words or gestures."

"Let my brother show Deerfoot what the movements were," said the other,
manifesting much interest.

They were so impressed on Jack Carleton that, springing to his feet, he
placed himself in front of Deerfoot and reproduced most of the gestures,
the words, of course, being gone. The Shawanoe fixed his eyes on his
friend, and scrutinized every motion with eager eyes. Suddenly he sprang
up with more feeling than he had shown in a long time. And well might he
do so, for he had translated the sign language, as given to him by Jack
Carleton, and it told a far different story than the one which both had
adopted some time before.

"Otto is alive," was the startling declaration of Deerfoot.

"He is!" exclaimed the amazed Jack, "I should like to know who told you
that."

"That was what the Sauk warrior said to my brother; that was what he
tried to tell him, but my brother did not understand his words."

"Are you really sure Otto is alive?"

"Deerfoot cannot be sure of that which his eyes do not behold; but such
were the words of Hay-uta the Sauk; they did not kill Otto."

"Then where _is_ he?"

"He is a long ways off; we will hasten to the settlement that the heart
of the mother of my brother shall be lightened. Then Deerfoot will lead
his brother on the hunt for him who is so many miles away toward the
setting sun."

Within the following three days, Jack Carleton arrived home and was
clasped in the arms of his mother, who rejoiced over his return as
though it had been a very rising from the dead. Deerfoot had conducted
him swiftly through the forest and not a hair of the head of either was
harmed.

       *       *       *       *       *

The limits of this work having been reached, it will be impossible in
these pages to give an account of what befell Otto Relstaub, after his
capture by the little band of Sauk Indians; but all that, as well as
the eventful hunt for him by Deerfoot the Shawanoe and young Jack
Carleton, shall be fully told in "Footprints in the Forest," which will
form _Number Three of the Log Cabin Series_.



THE END.



Famous Castlemon Books.

No author of the present day has become a greater favorite with boys
than "Harry Castlemon," every book by him is sure to meet with hearty
reception by young readers generally. His naturalness and vivacity leads
his readers from page to page with breathless interest, and when one
volume is finished the fascinated reader, like Oliver Twist, asks "for
more."


By Harry Castlemon.


GUNBOAT SERIES.

    Frank the Young Naturalist.
    Frank in the Woods.
    Frank on the Prairie.
    Frank on a Gunboat.
    Frank before Vicksburg.
    Frank on the Lower Mississippi.


GO AHEAD SERIES.

    Go Ahead; or, The Fisher Boy's Motto.
    No Moss; or, The Career of a Rolling Stone.
    Tom Newcombe; or, The Boy of Bad Habits.


ROCKY MOUNTAIN SERIES.

    Frank at Don Carlos' Rancho.
    Frank among the Rancheros.
    Frank in the Mountains.


SPORTSMAN'S CLUB SERIES.

    The Sportsman's Club in the Saddle.
    The Sportsman's Club Afloat.
    The Sportsman's Club among the Trappers.


FRANK NELSON SERIES.

    Snowed up; or, The Sportsman's Club in the Mountains.
    Frank Nelson in the Forecastle; or, the Sportsman's Club among the
      Whalers.
    The Boy Traders; or, The Sportsman's Club among the Boers.


BOY TRAPPER SERIES.

    The Buried Treasure; or, Old Jordan's "Haunt"
    The Boy Trapper; or, How Dave filled the Order.
    The Mail Carrier.


ROUGHING IT SERIES.

    George in Camp; or, Life on the Plains.
    George at the Wheel; or, Life in a Pilot House.
    George at the Fort; or, Life Among the Soldiers.


ROD AND GUN SERIES.

    Don Gordon's Shooting Box.
    Rod and Gun.
    The Young Wild Fowlers.



Alger's Renowned Books.


Horatio Alger, Jr., has attained distinction as one of the most popular
writers of books for boys, and the following list comprises all of his
best books.

By Horatio Alger, Jr.


RAGGED DICK SERIES.

    Ragged Dick; or, Street Life in New York.
    Fame and Fortune; or, The Progress of Richard Hunter.
    Mark the Match Boy; or, Richard Hunter's Ward.
    Rough and Ready; or, Life among the New York Newsboys.
    Ben the Luggage Boy; or, Among the Wharves.
    Rufus and Rose; or, The Fortunes of Rough and Ready.


TATTERED TOM SERIES. (First Series.)

    Tattered Tom; or, The Story of a Street Arab.
    Paul the Peddler; or, The Adventures of a Young Street Merchant.
    Phil the Fiddler; or, The Young Street Musician.
    Slow and Sure; or, From the Sidewalk to the Shop.


TATTERED TOM SERIES. (Second Series.)

    Julius; or, The Street Boy Out West.
    The Young Outlaw; or, Adrift in the World.
    Sam's Chance and How He Improved it.
    The Telegraph Boy.


LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES. (First Series.)

    Luck and Pluck; or, John Oakley's Inheritance.
    Sink or Swim; or, Harry Raymond's Resolve.
    Strong and Steady; or, Paddle Your Own Canoe.
    Strive and Succeed; or, The Progress of Walter Conrad.


LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES. (Second Series.)

    Try and Trust; or, The Story of a Bound Boy.
    Bound to Rise; or, How Harry Walton Rose in the World.
    Risen from the Ranks; or, Harry Walton's Success.
    Herbert Carter's Legacy; or, The Inventor's Son.


BRAVE AND BOLD SERIES.

    Brave and Bold; or, The Story of a Factory Boy.
    Jack's Ward; or, The Boy Guardian.
    Shifting for Himself; or, Gilbert Greyson's Fortunes.
    Wait and Hope; or, Ben Bradford's Motto.


CAMPAIGN SERIES.

    Frank's Campaign; or, the Farm and the Camp.
    Paul Prescott's Charge.
    Charlie Codman's Cruise.


PACIFIC SERIES.

    The Young Adventurer; or, Tom's Trip Across the Plains.
    The Young Miner; or, Tom Nelson in California.
    The Young Explorer; or, Among the Sierras.
    Ben's Nugget; or, A Boy's Search for Fortune. A Story of the Pacific
      Coast.


ATLANTIC SERIES

    The Young Circus Rider; or, The Mystery of Robert Rudd.
    Do and Dare; or, A Brave Boy's Fight for Fortune.
    Hector's Inheritance; or, Boys of Smith Institute.



By C. A. Stephens.


Rare books for boys--bright, breezy, wholesome and instructive--full of
adventure and incident, and information upon natural history--they blend
instruction with amusement--contain much useful and valuable information
upon the habits of animals, and plenty of adventure, fun and jollity.


CAMPING OUT SERIES.

    Camping Out. As recorded by "Kit."
    Left on Labrador; or, The Cruise of the Schooner Yacht "Curlew."
      As recorded by "Wash."
    Off to the Geysers; or, The Young Yachters in Iceland. As recorded
      by "Wade."
    Lynx Hunting. From Notes by the Author of "Camping Out."
    Fox Hunting. As recorded by "Raed."
    On the Amazon; or, the Cruise of the "Rambler." As recorded by "Wash."



By J. T. Trowbridge.


These stories will rank among the best of Mr. Trowbridge's books for the
young, and he has written some of the best of our juvenile literature.


JACK HAZARD SERIES.

    Jack Hazard and his Fortunes.
    A Chance for Himself; or, Jack Hazard and his Treasure.
    Doing his Best.
    Fast Friends.
    The Young Surveyor; or, Jack on the Prairies.
    Lawrence's Adventures Among the Ice Cutters, Glass Makers, Coal
       Miners, Iron Men and Ship Builders.



By Edward S. Ellis.


A New Series of Books for Boys, equal in interest to the "Castlemon" and
"Alger" books. His power of description of Indian life and character is
equal to the best of Cooper.


BOY PIONEER SERIES.

    Ned in the Block House; or, Life on the Frontier.
    Ned in the Woods.
    Ned on the River.





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