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´╗┐Title: Adventures in the Far West
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
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 "Adventures in the Far West" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Adventures in the Far West, by W.H.G. Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

This is rather a short book but it is prolifically illustrated with no
less than 29 pictures, most of very great interest, but in none of which
can one make out the artist's signature.  The picture of the visit of
the witch doctor to the sick man is very memorable, and the poor man was
probably frightened to death, rather than revived.

A group of tough young Brits make their way to the west of North
America, where there are numerous hazards, in the form of grizzly bears,
wolves, and a few tribes of Indians who definitely did not want them
there.  For much of the book they are with a tribe that is very
friendly, and thus we are able to learn much of the ways of these
people.  But towards the end of the book our heroes take part in
rescuing a wagon-train of emigrants that had been attacked by a hostile
tribe, and a beautiful young lady seized and ridden away with.

Mr Kingston's style is as excellent as ever, and we do recommend that
you read this book, or make an audiobook from it.

________________________________________________________________________

ADVENTURES IN THE FAR WEST, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

"I say, didn't you hear a cry?" exclaimed Charley Fielding, starting up
from the camp fire at which we were seated discussing our evening meal
of venison, the result of our day's hunting.  He leaned forward in the
attitude of listening.  "I'm sure I heard it!  There it is again, but
whether uttered by Redskin or four-footed beast is more than I can say."

We all listened, but our ears were not as sharp as Charley's, for we
could hear nothing.

"Sit down, Charley, my boy, and finish your supper.  It was probably
fancy, or maybe the hoot of an owl to its mate," said our jovial
companion, Dick Buntin, who never allowed any matter to disturb him, if
he could help it, while engaged in stowing away his food.

Dick had been a lieutenant in the navy, and had knocked about the world
in all climes, and seen no small amount of service.  He had lately
joined our party with Charley Fielding, a fatherless lad whom he had
taken under his wing.

We, that is Jack Story and myself, Tom Rushforth, had come out from
England together to the far west, to enjoy a few months' buffalo
hunting, deer stalking, grizzly and panther shooting, and beaver
trapping, not to speak of the chances of an occasional brush with the
Redskins, parties of whom were said to be on the war-path across the
regions it was our intention to traverse, though none of us were
inclined to be turned aside by the warnings we had received to that
effect from our friends down east.

We had been pushing on further and further west, gaining experience, and
becoming inured to the fatigues and dangers of a hunter's life.  Having
traversed Missouri and Kansas, though we had hitherto met with no
adventures worthy of note, we had that evening pitched our camp in the
neighbourhood of Smoky-hill fork, the waters of which, falling into the
Arkansas, were destined ultimately to reach the far-off Mississippi.

We had furnished ourselves with a stout horse apiece, and four mules to
carry our stores, consisting of salt pork, beans, biscuit, coffee, and a
few other necessaries, besides our spare guns, ammunition, and the meat
and skins of the animals we might kill.

Having, a little before sunset, fixed on a spot for our camp, with a
stream on one side, and on the other a wood, which would afford us fuel
and shelter from the keen night air which blew off the distant
mountains, we had unsaddled and unpacked our horses and mules, the packs
being placed so as to form a circular enclosure about eight paces in
diameter.

Our first care had been to water and hobble our animals, and then to
turn them loose to graze, when we considered ourselves at liberty to
attend to our own wants.  Having collected a quantity of dry sticks, we
had lighted our fire in the centre of the circle, filled our
water-kettle, and put on our meat to cook.  Our next care had been to
arrange our sleeping places.  For this purpose we cut a quantity of
willows which grew on the banks of the stream hard by, and we each
formed a semi-circular hut, by sticking the extremities of the osier
twigs into the ground, and bending them over so as to form a succession
of arches.  These were further secured by weaving a few flexible twigs
along the top and sides of the framework, thus giving it sufficient
stability to support the saddle-cloths and skins with which we covered
them.  By placing our buffalo-robes within, we had thus a comfortable
and warm bed-place apiece, and were better protected from the fiercest
storm raging without than we should have been inside a tent or ordinary
hut.

Though this was our usual custom when materials were to be found, when
not, we were content to wrap ourselves in our buffalo-robes, with our
saddles for pillows.

All arrangements having been made, we sat down with keen appetites, our
backs to our respective huts, to discuss the viands which had been
cooking during the operations I have described.  Dick Buntin, who
generally performed the office of cook, had concocted a pot of coffee,
having first roasted the berries in the lid of our saucepan, and then,
wrapping them in a piece of deer-skin, had pounded them on a log with
the head of a hatchet.  Dick was about to serve out the smoking-hot
coffee when Charley's exclamation made him stop to reply while he held
the pot in his hand.

"I am sure I did hear a strange sound, and it was no owl's hoot, of that
I am convinced," said Charley, still standing up, and peering out over
the dark prairie.  "Just keep silence for a few minutes, and you'll hear
it too before long."

I listened, and almost directly afterwards a low mournful wail, wafted
on the breeze, struck my ear.  Dick and Story also acknowledged that
they heard the sound.

"I knew I was not mistaken," said Charley; "what can it be?"

"An owl, or some other night-bird, as I at first thought," said Buntin.
"Come, hand me your mugs, or I shall have to boil up the coffee again."

Charley resumed his seat, and we continued the pleasant occupation in
which we were engaged.  Supper over, we crept into our sleeping-places,
leaving our fire blazing, not having considered it necessary as yet to
keep watch at night.

We were generally, directly after we had stretched ourselves on the
ground, fast asleep, for we rose at break of day, and sometimes even
before it; but ere I had closed my eyes, I again heard, apparently
coming from far off, the same sound which had attracted Charley's
notice.  It appeared to me more like the howl of a wolf than the cry of
a night-bird, but I was too sleepy to pay any attention to it.

How long I had been in a state of unconsciousness I could not tell, when
I was aroused by a chorus of howls and yelps, and, starting up, I saw a
number of animals with glaring eyes almost in our very midst.

"Wolves, wolves!"  I cried, calling to my companions at the top of my
voice.

Before I could draw my rifle out of the hut, where I had placed it by my
side, one of the brutes had seized on a large piece of venison,
suspended at the end of a stick to keep it off the ground, and had
darted off with it, while the depredators were searching round for other
articles into which they could fix their fangs.

Our appearance greatly disconcerted them, as we shouted in chorus, and
turning tail they began to decamp as fast as their legs would carry
them.

"Bring down that fellow with the venison," I cried out.

Charley, who had been most on the alert, had his rifle ready, and,
firing, brought down the thief.  Another of the pack instantly seized
the meat and made off with it in spite of the shouts we sent after him.
The wolves lost three of their number, but the rest got off with the
venison in triumph.  It was a lesson to us to keep a watch at night, and
more carefully to secure our venison.  We had, however, a portion
remaining to serve us for breakfast next morning.

We took good care not to let the wolves get into our camp again, but we
heard the brutes howling around and quarrelling over the carcase of one
of their companions, who had been shot but had not immediately dropped.
Having driven off our unwelcome visitors, Charley and I went in search
of our horses, as we were afraid they might have been attacked.  They
were, however, well able to take care of themselves and had made their
way to the border of the stream, where we found them safe.

In the meantime Buntin and Story dragged the carcases of the wolves we
had killed to a distance from the camp, as their skins were not worth
preserving.  We all then met round the camp fire, but we soon found that
to sleep was impossible, for the wolves, having despatched their wounded
companions, came back to feast on the others we had shot.  We might have
killed numbers while so employed, but that would have only detained them
longer in our neighbourhood, and we hoped when they had picked the bones
of their friends that they would go away and leave us in peace.

We all wished to be off as soon as possible, so while it was still dark
we caught and watered our horses; and, having cast off their hobbles and
loaded the pack animals, we were in the saddle by sunrise.  We rode on
for several hours, and then encamped for breakfast, allowing our horses
to graze while we went on foot in search of game.  We succeeded in
killing a couple of deer and a turkey, so that we were again amply
supplied with food.  Our baggage-mules being slow but sure-going animals
we were unable to make more than twenty miles a day, though at a pinch
we could accomplish thirty.  We had again mounted and were moving
forward.  The country was covered with tall grass, five and sometimes
eight feet in height, over which we could scarcely look even when on
horseback.  We had ridden about a couple of miles from our last
camping-place, when Story, the tallest of our party, exclaimed--

"I see some objects moving to the northward.  They look to me like
mounted men, and are apparently coming in this direction."

He unslung his glass, while we all pulled up and took a look in the
direction he pointed.

"Yes, I thought so," he exclaimed; "they are Indians, though, as there
are not many of them, they are not likely to attack us; but we must be
on our guard, notwithstanding."

We consulted what was best to be done.

"Ride steadily in the direction we are going," said Dick; "and, by
showing that we are not afraid of them, when they see our rifles they
will probably sheer off, whatever may be their present intentions.  But
keep together, my lads, and let nothing tempt us to separate."

We followed Dick's advice; indeed, although we had no ostensible leader,
he always took the post on an emergency.

The strangers approached, moving considerably faster than we were doing.
As they drew nearer, Story, who took another view of them through his
glass, announced that there were two white men of the party, thus
dispelling all fears we might have entertained of an encounter.  We
therefore pulled up to wait their arrival.  As they got still nearer to
us, one of the white men rode forward.  He was followed by several dogs.
Suddenly Dick, who had been regarding him attentively, exclaimed--

"What, Harry Armitage, my dear fellow!  What has brought you here?"

"A question much easier asked than answered, and I'll put the same to
you," said the stranger, shaking hands.

"I came out for a change of scene, and to get further from the ocean
than I have ever before been in my life; and now let me introduce you to
my friends," said Dick.  The usual forms were gone through.  Mr
Armitage then introduced his companion as Pierre Buffet, one of the best
hunters and trappers throughout the continent.  The Indians, he said,
had been engaged by Pierre and himself to act as guides and scouts, and
to take care of the horses and baggage-mules.  As our objects were the
same, before we had ridden very far we agreed to continue together, as
we should thus, in passing through territories infested by hostile
Indians, be the better able to defend ourselves.

We had reason, before long, to be thankful that our party had thus been
strengthened.  We encamped as usual; and, not forgetting the lesson we
had lately received, we set a watch so that we should not be surprised,
either by wolves or Redskins.  Though the former were heard howling in
the distance, we were not otherwise disturbed by them, and at dawn we
were once more in our saddles traversing the wide extending prairie, our
new associates and we exchanging accounts of the various adventures we
had met with.  Armitage was not very talkative, but Dick managed to draw
him out more than could any of the rest of the party.  Buffet, in his
broken English, talked away sufficiently to make ample amends for his
employer's taciturnity.  Our midday halt was over, and we did not again
intend to encamp until nightfall, at a spot described by Buffet on the
banks of a stream which ran round a rocky height on the borders of the
prairie.  It was, however, some distance off, and we did not expect to
reach it until later in the day than usual.

We were riding on, when I saw one of the Indians standing up in his
stirrups and looking to the northeast.  Presently he called to Buntin
and pointed in the same direction.  The words uttered were such as to
cause us no little anxiety.  The prairie was on fire.  The sharp eyes of
the Indian had distinguished the wreaths of smoke which rose above the
tall grass, and which I should have taken for a thick mist or cloud
gathering in the horizon.  The wind blew from the same quarter.

"Messieurs, we must put our horses to their best speed," exclaimed
Pierre.  "If the wind gets up, that fire will come on faster than we can
go, and we shall all be burnt into cinders if once overtaken."

"How far off is it?" asked Dick.  "Maybe eight or ten miles, but that is
as nothing.  It will travel five or six miles in the hour, even with
this wind blowing--and twice as fast before a gale.  On, on, messieurs,
there is no time to talk about the matter, for between us and where the
flames now rage, there is nothing to stop their progress."

We needed no further urging, but driving on the mules with shouts and
blows--as we had no wish to abandon them if it could be avoided--we
dashed on.  Every now and then I looked back to observe the progress of
the conflagration.  Dark wreaths were rising higher and higher in the
sky, and below them forked flames ever and anon darted up as the fire
caught the more combustible vegetation.  Borne by the wind, light
powdery ashes fell around us, while we were sensible of a strong odour
of burning, which made it appear as if the enemy was already close at
our heels.  The grass on every side was too tall and dry to enable us--
as is frequently done under such circumstances, by setting fire to the
herbage--to clear a space in which we could remain while the
conflagration passed by.

Our only chance of escaping was by pushing forward.  On neither side did
Pierre or the Indians know of any spot where we could take refuge nearer
than the one ahead.  Every instant the smoke grew thicker, and we could
hear the roaring, crackling, rushing sound of the flames, though still,
happily for us, far away.  Prairie-hens, owls, and other birds would
flit by, presently followed by numerous deer and buffalo; while whole
packs of wolves rushed on regardless of each other and of us, prompted
by instinct to make their escape from the apprehended danger.  Now a
bear who had been foraging on the plain ran by, eager to seek his
mountain home; and I caught sight of two or more panthers springing over
the ground at a speed which would secure their safety.  Here and there
small game scampered along, frequently meeting the death they were
trying to avoid, from the feet of the larger animals; snakes went
wriggling among the grass, owls hooted, wolves yelped, and other animals
added their cries to the terror-prompted chorus.  Our chance of escaping
with our baggage-mules seemed small indeed.  The hot air struck our
cheeks, as we turned round every now and then to see how near the fire
had approached.  The dogs kept up bravely at the feet of their masters'
horse.

"If we are to save our own skins, we must abandon our mules," cried out
Dick Buntin in a voice such as that with which he was wont to hail the
main-top.

"No help for it, I fear," answered Armitage; "what do you say, Pierre?"

"Let the beasts go.  _Sauve qui peut_!" answered the Canadian.

There was no time to stop and unload the poor brutes.  To have done so
would have afforded them a better chance of preserving their lives,
though we must still lose our luggage.

The word was given, the halters by which we had been dragging the
animals on were cast off; and, putting spurs into the flanks of our
steeds, we galloped forward.  Our horses seemed to know their danger as
well as we did.  I was just thinking of the serious consequences of a
fall, when down came Dick, who was leading just ahead of me with Charley
by his side.  His horse had put its foot into a prairie-dog's hole.

"Are you hurt?"  I cried out.

"No, no; go on; don't wait for me," he answered.  But neither Charley
nor I was inclined to do that.

Dick was soon on his feet again, while we assisted him, in spite of what
he had said, to get up his horse.  The animal's leg did not appear to be
strained, and Dick quickly again climbed into the saddle.

"Thank you, my dear boys," he exclaimed, "it must not happen again; I am
a heavy weight for my brute, and, if he comes down, you must go on and
let me shift for myself."

We made no reply, for neither Charley nor I was inclined to desert our
brave friend.  The rest of the party had dashed by, scarcely observing
what had taken place, the Indians taking the lead.  It was impossible to
calculate how many miles we had gone.  Night was coming on, making the
glare to the eastward appear brighter and more terrific.  The mules were
still instinctively following us, but we were distancing them fast,
though we could distinguish their shrieks of terror amid the general
uproar.

The hill for which we were making rose up before us, covered, as it
appeared, by shrubs and grasses.  It seemed doubtful whether it would
afford us the safety we sought.  We could scarcely hope that our horses
would carry us beyond it, for already they were giving signs of becoming
exhausted.  We might be preserved by taking up a position in the centre
of the stream, should it be sufficiently shallow to enable us to stand
in it; but that was on the other side of the hill, and the fire might
surround us before we could gain its banks.  We could barely see the
dark outline of the hill ahead, the darkness being increased by the
contrast of the lurid flames raging behind us.  We dashed across the
more open space, where the grass was for some reason of less height than
in her parts.  Here many of the animals which had passed us, paralysed
by fear, had halted as if expecting that they would be safe from the
flames.  Deer and wolves, bison, and even a huge bear--not a grizzly,
however--and many smaller creatures were lying down or running round and
round.

I thought Pierre would advise our stopping here, but he shouted, "On,
on!  This is no place for us; de beasts soon get up and run away too!"

We accordingly dashed forward, but every moment the heat and smell of
the fire was increasing.  The smoke, which blew around us in thick
wreaths driven by the wind, was almost overpowering.  This made the
conflagration appear even nearer than it really was.  At length, Pierre
shouted out:

"Dis way, messieurs, dis way!" and I found that we had reached the foot
of a rocky hill which rose abruptly out of the plain.  He led us round
its base until we arrived at a part up which we could manage to drag our
horses.  Still it seemed very doubtful if we should be safe, for grass
covered the lower parts, and, as far as I could judge, shrubs and trees
the upper: still there was nothing else to be done.  Throwing ourselves
from our horses, we continued to drag them up the height, Pierre's
shouts guiding us.  I was the last but one, Dick insisting on taking the
post of danger in the rear and sending Charley and me before him.  The
horses were as eager to get up as we were, their instinct showing them
that safety was to be found near human beings.  Our only fear was that
the other animals would follow, and that we should have more companions
than we desired.  The top was soon gained, when we lost no time in
setting to work to clear a space in which we could remain, by cutting
down the grass immediately surrounding us, and then firing the rest on
the side of the hill towards which the conflagration was approaching.
We next beat down the flames we had kindled, with our blankets--a hot
occupation during which we were nearly smothered by the smoke rushing in
our faces.  The fire burnt but slowly against the wind, which was so far
an advantage.

"We are safe now, messieurs!" exclaimed Pierre at last; and we all, in
one sense, began to breathe more freely, although the feeling of
suffocation from the smoke was trying in the extreme.

We could now watch, more calmly than before, the progress of the fire as
it rushed across the country, stretching far on either side of us, and
lighting up the hills to the north and south, and the groves which grew
near them.  We often speak of the scarlet line of the British troops
advancing on the foe, and such in appearance was the fire; for we could
see it from the heights where we stood, forming a line of a width which
it seemed possible to leap over, or at all events to dash through
without injury.  Now it divided, as it passed some rocky spot or marshy
ground.  Now it again united, and the flames were seen licking up the
grass which they had previously spared.

Our poor baggage-animals caused us much anxiety.  Had they escaped or
fallen victims to the flames with our property, and the most valuable
portion of it--the ammunition?  Charley declared that he heard some
ominous reports, and the Indians nodded as they listened to what he
said, and made signs to signify that the baggage had been blown up.  For
some minutes we were surrounded by a sea of flame, and had to employ
ourselves actively in rushing here and there and extinguishing the
portions which advanced close upon us, our horses in the meantime
standing perfectly still and trembling in every limb, fully alive to
their dangerous position.  At length, after a few anxious hours, the
fire began to die out; but here we were on the top of a rock, without
food or water, and with only so much powder and shot as each man carried
in his pouch.  Still, we had saved our lives and our horses, and had
reason to be thankful.  The spot was a bleak one to camp in, but we had
no choice.  To protect ourselves from the wind, we built up a hedge of
brushwood, and lighted a fire.  Food we could not hope to obtain until
the morning, but Pierre and one of the Indians volunteered to go down to
the river, and to bring some water in a leathern bottle which the
Canadian carried at his saddle-bow.  He had also saved a tin cup, but
the whole of our camp equipage had shared the fate of the mules,
whatever that might be.  The sky was overcast, and, as we looked out
from our height over the prairie, one vast mass of blackness alone could
be seen.

After quenching the thirst produced by the smoke and heat with the water
brought by Pierre and his companion, we lay down to sleep.

At daylight we were on foot.  The first thing to be done was to
ascertain the fate of the mules, and the next to obtain some game to
satisfy the cravings of hunger.  Pierre and the Indians descended into
the plain for both purposes.  Charley and I started off in one
direction, and Armitage and Story in another, with our guns, along the
rocky heights which extended away to the northward, while Dick
volunteered to look after the horses and keep our fire burning.

We went on for some distance without falling in with any large game, and
we were unwilling to expend our powder on small birds.  Charley at last
proposed that we should descend into the plain in the hopes of finding
some animals killed by the fire.

"Very little chance of that," I remarked, "for by this time the wolves
have eaten them up.  We are more likely, if we keep on, to fall in with
deer on the opposite side, where the fire has not reached."

We accordingly crossed the ridge, and were making our way to the
westward, when we heard Armitage's dog giving tongue in the distance.

"They have found deer, at all events, and perhaps we may be in time to
pick off one or two of the herd," I exclaimed.

We scrambled along over the rocks, until we reached the brink of a low
precipice, looking over which we caught sight of a magnificent buck with
a single dog at his heels.  Just then the stag stopped, and, wheeling
suddenly round, faced its pursuer.  Near was a small pool which served
to protect the stag from the attack of the hound in the rear.  It
appeared to us that it would have gone hard with the dog, for at any
moment the antlers of the stag might have pinned it to the ground.  We
concluded, from not hearing the other dogs, that they had gone off in a
different direction, leaving this bold fellow--Lion, by name--to follow
his chase alone.

We crept along the rocks, keeping ourselves concealed until we had got
near enough to take a steady aim at the stag.  I agreed to fire first,
and, should I miss, Charley was to try his skill.  In the meantime the
dog kept advancing and retreating, seeking for an opportunity to fly at
the stag's throat; but even then, should he succeed in fixing his fangs
in the animal, he would run great risk of being knelt upon.  The deer
was as watchful as the dog, and the moment the latter approached, down
again went its formidable antlers.  Fearing that the deer might by some
chance escape, taking a steady aim I fired.  To my delight, over it
rolled, when we both sprang down the rocks and ran towards it.

While I reloaded, Charley, having beaten off the dog, examined the deer
to ascertain that it was really dead.  We then set to work to cut up our
prize, intending to carry back the best portions to the camp.

While thus employed, we heard a shout and saw our companions approaching
with their dogs.  They had missed the remainder of the herd, and were
too happy in any way to obtain the deer to be jealous of our success.

Laden with the meat, the whole of which we carried with us, we returned
to the camp, where we found Dick ready with spits for roasting it.  In a
short time Pierre and the Indians returned with the report that they had
found the mules dead, and already almost devoured by the coyotes, while
their cargoes had been blown up, as we feared would be the case, with
the powder they contained.  They brought the spare, guns--the stocks of
which, however, were sadly damaged by the fire.  Our camp equipage,
which was very welcome, was uninjured, together with a few knives and
other articles of iron.

So serious was our loss, that it became absolutely necessary to return
to the nearest settlement to obtain fresh pack-animals and a supply of
powder.



CHAPTER TWO.

By the loss of our baggage, we were reduced to hard fare.  We had no
coffee, no corn meal, no salt or pepper; but our greatest want was
powder.  Should the ammunition in our pouches hold out, we hoped to
obtain food enough to keep us from starving till we could reach the
nearest settlement of Tillydrone.  Before commencing our return journey,
however, it would be necessary, we agreed, to obtain a supply of meat,
as we should find but little game in the region we had to cross.  We
must push on through it, therefore, as fast as our horses could carry
us; but after their hard gallop on the previous day, it would be
necessary to give them several hours rest, and it was settled that we
should remain encamped where we were until the following morning.  The
locality had many advantages: it was high and dry, while, commanding as
it did an extensive view over the prairie, we could see any hostile
Indians approaching, and could defend ourselves should they venture to
attack us.

As soon as breakfast was over, and we had rested from the fatigues of
the morning, we again set out on foot with our guns.  Charley and I, as
before, kept together.  The rest divided into two parties, each hoping
to add a good supply of meat to the common stock.  We had entered into
an agreement not to fire a shot, unless sure of our aim, as every
charge, to us, was worth its weight in gold.  A spot had been fixed on,
where we were to meet, about a couple of miles from the camp, in the
centre of the ridge.  Charley and I had gone on for an hour or more, but
had met with no game, when what was our delight to see a herd of a dozen
large deer feeding in a glade below us; and, although too far off to
risk a shot, we hoped that by making a wide circuit we should be able to
creep up to them on the lee side.

Taking the proposed direction, we observed a large clump of rose-bushes,
which grew in great profusion in that region.  Near them also were two
or three trees, behind which we expected to be able to conceal ourselves
while we took aim at the deer.  Keeping as much under cover as possible,
we reached the rose-bushes, when we began to creep along on hands and
knees, trailing our guns after us.  To our delight we found that the
deer were still feeding quietly, unsuspicious of danger.  I managed to
reach one of the trees, Charley another.  The two nearest animals were a
stag and a doe.  I agreed to shoot the former, Charley the latter.

He waited until I gave the signal, when our guns went off at the same
instant.  As the smoke cleared away, we saw that both our shot had taken
effect.  It had been settled that, in case the animals should attempt to
get up, we were to rush out and despatch them with our hunting-knives.
I ran towards the stag, which made an effort to escape, but rolled over
and died just as I reached it.  Turning round to ascertain how it fared
with Charley, I saw the doe rise to her feet, though bleeding from a
wound in the neck.  I instantly reloaded to be ready to fire, knowing
that under such circumstances even a doe might prove a dangerous
antagonist.  It was fortunate that I did so, for the animal, throwing
herself upon her haunches, began to strike out fiercely with her
fore-feet, a blow from which would have fractured my friend's skull.
Seeing his hat fall to the ground, I was afraid that he had been struck.
Holding his rifle, which he had unfortunately forgotten to reload,
before him in the fashion of a single-stick, he attempted to defend
himself; but one of the animal's hoofs, striking his shoulder, brought
him to the ground, so that he was unable to spring back out of harm's
way.  For a moment the deer retreated, but then again came on with her
fore-feet in the air, intent on mischief.  Now was the moment to fire,
as the next Charley might be struck lifeless to the ground.  I pulled
the trigger, aiming at the head of the doe; for, had I attempted to
shoot her in the breast, I might have hit my companion.  As the smoke
cleared away I saw the deer spring into the air and fall lifeless to the
ground.  The bullet had struck her in the very spot I intended.  Charley
rose to his feet, and I ran forward, anxious to ascertain if he was
injured.  Providentially, his ramrod alone was broken, and, except a
bruise on the shoulder which caused him some pain, he had escaped
without damage.

We lost no time in skinning and cutting up the deer, which having done,
we formed two packages of as much of the meat as we could carry, while
we suspended the remainder to the bough of a neighbouring tree, to
return for it before night-fall.  Our companions were nearly as
successful, each party having killed a deer, the whole of which they
brought into camp.  We left them all employed in cutting the chief
portion into strips to dry in the sun, so that it could be transported
more easily than in a fresh state.  As we approached the spot where we
had left the venison, a loud yelping which reached our ears told us that
the coyotes had found it out.  The brutes were not worth powder and
shot, so getting some thick sticks, we rushed in among them and drove
them off to a distance.  They returned, however, as soon as we had got
down the venison and were employed in packing it up, and we had to make
several onslaughts, during which we killed three or four of the wolves,
who were instantly devoured by their companions.  While they were thus
employed, we had time to pack up our game, but the rapacious creatures
followed howling at our heels until we reached the camp.  All night long
also they continued their unpleasant chorus.

In the morning, having breakfasted on fresh venison, we started, each
man carrying a load of the dried meat.  Our object was to push on as
fast as possible, only halting when necessary to rest our horses, or to
kill some buffalo or deer, should any be seen.  Pierre especially
advised that we should otherwise make no delay, saying that he had
observed the trails of Indians, who were probably out on the warpath,
and that, at all events, it would be necessary to be on our guard
against them.

We crossed the burnt prairie, our horses' hoofs stirring up the ashes as
we scampered along.  Frequently we came upon the bodies of small animals
which had failed to escape from the fire.  We saw also numbers of
snakes, some burnt to death, others only scorched and still managing to
make their way over the ground.  We were thankful when, having crossed a
stream, we got into a more cheerful tract of country.  Here Pierre
advised that we should be doubly on our guard, as in all probability the
Indians themselves had fired the grass, either to burn us, or to deprive
us of our beasts of burden, as they succeeded in doing, that we might
the more easily fall into their hands, but that such was the case it was
difficult to say.  Perhaps, when they found us strongly posted, they had
considered it prudent not to attack us.

We had started before day-break, and proposed halting for a couple of
hours to breakfast and rest our beasts, when, just as the rich glow
which ushers in the rising sun had suffused the sky, one of the Indians,
addressing Pierre, pointed to the south-west.

"What is it he says?"  I asked.

"Indians!" answered Pierre, "on foot and on horseback, and no small
number of them.  We must be prepared for them, messieurs; for, if I
mistake not, they are Coomanches, and they are difficult customers to
deal with in the open.  If we were within a stockade, we should quickly
send them to the right about, though, as they stand in awe of our
rifles, it is a question whether they will attack us as long as we show
a bold front."

"It is of little use to show a bold front in the centre of a wild
prairie, with a hundred howling savages galloping about one," I thought
to myself.

However, none of our party were men to flinch.  By Pierre's advice we
rode steadily forward.  There was a slight elevation at some distance,
with a small lake beyond it.  Buntin, who took the lead, proposed that
we should try to gain it, as it would give us an advantage over our
nimble foes, as, while they were ascending its steep sides, we could
shoot them down without difficulty.  On we rode therefore as fast as we
could venture to go, for it was important not to blow our horses, lest
we should have to come to an encounter with the Redskins.

We had got to within a quarter of a mile or so from the height, when we
saw that the Indians had divined our intention, a party of them, who
must have made a wide circuit, having already taken possession of it.

"Never mind, boys," said Dick in a cheery voice--"we can fight them if
they are in a fighting mood just as well on the plains as on the top of
yonder hill.  They probably think that all our powder is lost, and
expect to gain an easy victory."

"It will be wise to dismount, messieurs," said Pierre.  "Each man must
take post behind his horse, and when the savages come on we must wait
until they get near enough to afford us a sure mark."

"We will follow Pierre's advice," said Dick, "but we will wait to
ascertain whether they have hostile intentions or not.  Our best plan is
to proceed steadily on as if we were not conscious of their presence."

We continued, therefore, riding forward, so as to pass the hill about
the eighth of a mile on our right, keeping a careful watch on the
Redskins.  Suddenly there was a movement among them, and out dashed
several horsemen.  Sweeping around the hill, they approached us.  We
lost not a moment, and, placing ourselves as arranged, we stood with our
rifles ready to receive them.  On they came, shrieking at the top of
their voices and uttering their war-cries, until they got almost within
shot.  Seeing this we presented our rifles, but, just at the moment that
we were about to fire, the warriors threw themselves over on the
opposite side of their horses, and, sweeping by like a whirlwind,
discharged their guns.

Although it was a fine exhibition of horsemanship, the fellows,
evidently afraid of us, had kept too far off for their object, and the
bullets fell short.  At the same moment Armitage, Story, and Pierre
fired.  Armitage's bullet struck the horse of the leading brave, which
however still galloped on.  Story wounded the next warrior, who turning
tail rejoined his companions, while the third--who had lifted up his
head to take better aim--got a bullet through it from Pierre's unerring
rifle.  He fell to the ground, along which he was dragged by his horse,
which followed the one immediately before it.

Seeing what had befallen their leaders, the other Indians, who were
riding furiously towards us, reined in their steeds, considering
discretion the better part of valour.

"We must not trust to the fellows," cried Dick; "we must hold our ground
until they move off."

It was fortunate we did so, for in a short time the whole troop, gaining
courage and hoping to frighten us with war-whoops, came sweeping down
upon us.  Fortunately but few had fire-arms, and their powder was none
of the best.  Their arrows fell short, while their bullets, which struck
our saddles, failed to pierce them.  I got a slight graze on my cheek,
and a piece of lead went through Charley's cap.

Our rifles in the meantime returned the salute in good earnest.  Three
of us only fired at a time, and three Indians were hit--one of whom was
killed outright, though his companions managed to drag off his body.
Still the odds were greatly against us.  Had we been well supplied with
ammunition we should have had no fear as to the result of the encounter,
but we dared not fire a shot more than was absolutely necessary.

Notwithstanding the way we had handled them, the Indians did not appear
inclined to give up the contest, but, after wheeling out of reach of our
rifles, again halted.

"They have had enough of it, I should think," observed Story.

"I'm not so sure of that," answered Dick, "our scalps, our horses, and
our fire-arms, are too tempting prizes to allow the rascals to let us
escape if they fancy that they can get possession of them.  See, here
they come again!"

As he spoke the whole troop, giving utterance to a terrific war-whoop,
passed ahead of us, and then, wheeling round, dashed forward at full
speed to attack us on the opposite side.  As they got within range, half
our number, as before, fired.  Three more of them appeared to be hit,
and one, evidently a chief, fell from his saddle.

The Redskins had had enough of it, and the rest, crawling round the
chief, bore him off.  Away they went fleet as the wind.  I felt very
much inclined to follow.  Dick advised us to remain where we were to see
what they would do.  At length we were satisfied that they had received
a lesson by which they were likely to profit, and that they would not
again venture to attack us, unless they could take us by surprise.  We
now found the advantage of not having over-exhausted our horses.

"Mount, and push forward!" cried Dick.  "But I say, lads, while those
fellows are watching us we'll move at a steady pace."

After we had ridden for a couple of miles or so, Dick advised that we
should put our horses to their full speed, so as to place as wide a
distance between us and our enemies as possible, before we halted for
breakfast.

No sooner was the word given than away we went.  Pierre proved an
excellent guide, and took us across the most easy country, so that by
noon it was considered that we might halt without fear of interruption
from the same band, though it would be necessary to keep a sharp look
out lest another troop of savages might be scouring the country in
search of us.

We were by this time desperately sharp set, and while our steeds cropped
the grass around, we quickly lighted our fire and put on our venison to
cook.  Pierre and the Indians did not wait for that operation, but ate
the dried venison raw, and I was tempted to chew the end of a strip to
stop the gnawings of hunger.

After a couple of hours' rest, which our horses absolutely required, we
again pushed on, anxious to find a safe camping-place for the night.
Pierre led us to a spot which appeared as secure as we could desire, by
the side of a broad stream of sufficient depth to afford us protection
on that side, while a high knoll, with a bluff, would conceal our fire
on the one side, and a thick wood on the other, leaving thus only one
side towards the prairie.  Thus, at all events, we had all the
requirements for camping--wood, water, and grass.

The night passed quietly, and the following day we did not fall in with
any Indians, so that we ventured to camp at an earlier hour, on a spot
very similar to that we had chosen on the previous night.  We were
getting somewhat tired of our dry venison, and Armitage proposing to go
out in search of a deer, I volunteered to accompany him, hoping to find
one coming down to drink at the stream.  We accordingly kept along its
banks, taking with us one of the spare horses, that we might bring home
any game we might shoot; but as I wished to give mine a rest I went on
foot.

Armitage was some little way in advance, I following close along the
borders of the stream, when I heard him fire.  Pushing forward I saw him
bending over the body of a fine deer.  I was making my way through the
bushes to assist him, when what was my dismay to catch sight of a huge
bear, which Armitage had not perceived, coming along the edge of the
stream from the opposite direction.

I shouted to him, to warn him of his danger.  He rose to his feet,
holding the rein of his horse; for the animal, conscious of the presence
of the bear, showed a strong inclination to bolt.  The bear, which had,
apparently, not before perceived Armitage, came cantering slowly on,
until within twenty paces of him.  I shouted at the top of my voice for
the purpose of distracting the bear's attention; but Bruin, intent on
mischief, took no notice.  I was too far off to have any hope of
mortally wounding the bear should I fire, and the undergrowth was so
thick that I could only slowly make my way through it.  Already the bear
was scarcely more than a dozen paces off from Armitage, who with his gun
levelled stood ready to receive his formidable antagonist.  The bear
raised itself on its hind legs, giving a roaring grunt, and balancing
itself, as bears are wont to do, before making its fatal spring.  Should
Armitage miss, it seemed impossible that he could escape with his life.
I struggled desperately to make my way through the brushwood to go to
his assistance.

Again the bear roared, and stretched out its paws, evidently showing
that it was about to spring, when my friend fired.

Great was my relief when I saw the bear roll over, floundering about for
a few seconds in a vain endeavour to rise and renew the combat; but the
bullet had been surely aimed, and before I reached the scene of the
encounter the animal's struggles were over.

We walked round and round the monster, surveying its vast proportions,
and then set to work to remove its hide and cut off the most delicate
portions of the meat.  This occupied us some time.  I suggested that the
skin might be left behind, but, as the bear was of unusual size,
Armitage declared his intention of preserving it if he could.  At length
we succeeded in strapping it on the back of the horse, and set off to
return to the camp.

We walked leisurely along, leading the horse, well satisfied with the
result of our short expedition; for bear's flesh, though not equal to
venison, is superior to that of the lean deer we often shot.  We found
our friends anxious about us; for two of the Indians who had gone out
scouting reported that they had fallen in with a suspicious trail, and
they warned us that we should very likely be again attacked before we
could reach the settlement.

"Let them come on then!" cried Dick, "we'll treat them as we did the
others."

I have said but little about the Indians accompanying Armitage.  They
were fine fellows, armed with spears and bows and arrows, as well as
with carbines, while they carried in their belts the usual
scalping-knives and tomahawks, so that they were likely to prove
formidable opponents to our foes.

Having set a double watch, one man to look after the horses, and another
the camp, we lay down to obtain the rest we so much needed.



CHAPTER THREE.

Daybreak found us moving forward and already a couple of miles from our
last resting-place.  We hoped thus to keep ahead of our enemies, who,
our Indian allies calculated, had camped some distance to the northward.
We thought it probable also, should they have discovered our
whereabouts, that they might have intended to attack us before we
started in the morning.  They would know that we should keep careful
watch during the night, but they were very likely to fancy that while
breakfasting we should be off our guard, and that they might then take
us by surprise.  If so, they were disappointed.  We rode steadily on, we
Whites keeping together, while the Indians on their active mustangs,
scouted on either side, their keen eyes searching every thicket and bush
for a concealed enemy.

"Can they be trusted?" asked Dick of Armitage.

"They will lose the reward I engaged to give them, should they prove
treacherous," was the answer, "and Pierre considers them honest."

"I cannot help suspecting that they are very sure no enemy is near, by
the way they are showing off," observed Story.

"They behaved as well as men could do, when we were last attacked,"
remarked Charley, who way always ready to stick up for the Indians, of
whom he had a great admiration.  I agreed with Jack, but at the same
time I did not wish to disparage our gallant-looking allies.

While we were speaking two of them came up and addressed Pierre in their
own language which he understood thoroughly.

"They say that they have caught sight of a mounted war-party, who are,
they think, trying to steal upon us round yonder wood, and take us by
surprise," said Pierre.

"We'll be prepared for them then, my friends!" exclaimed Dick; "but
we'll ride on as we have been going, and not dismount until they show
themselves; we shall then be able to turn the tables on them.  You all
know what you have to do; but remember again, our powder is running
short; don't throw a shot away."

"Ay, ay, captain," was the reply from all of us, for we had given Dick a
title he well deserved although the Lords of the Admiralty had not thus
favoured him.

Our scouts on the left flank now drew in closer to us, they having made
up their minds that we should be attacked on that side.  Almost ahead--
or, as Dick called it, on our starboard bow--was a clump of trees,
backed by rocky ground.  It would assist at all events to protect us, on
one side.  We accordingly directed our course towards it.  Anyone seeing
us riding along would not have supposed that we were well aware of a
powerful body of enemies being close to us, as we might have been seen
laughing and joking, one of the party occasionally breaking out into a
jovial song.

Our behaviour encouraged our allies, and should the enemy have perceived
us, it would have made them suppose that we were quite unconscious of
their presence.

We had almost gained the clump of trees I have mentioned, when from the
end of the wood about half a mile away, appeared the head of a column of
mounted warriors.  The moment they showed themselves, with fierce yells
and shrieks they dashed on towards us.  "Forward, my friends, and let us
take up the post I proposed," cried Dick; and, urging our horses into a
gallop, we reached the clump just in time to dismount and arrange our
horses before the Indians got within range of our rifles.  We were thus
better able to defend ourselves than we had been on the previous
occasion.  The Coomanches came on bravely enough at first, shrieking and
hooting at the top of their voices, but we were prepared to receive them
in a way they did not expect.  Before they began to wheel and throw
themselves over on the sides of their horses, Armitage, Story and I, who
were considered the best shots of the party, each singled out a man.  We
fired, and three warriors dropped to the ground.  At the same moment,
our brave allies dashed forward, with lances in rest, and charged boldly
at the advancing foe, who were discharging a shower of arrows at us.
One of the Coomanches threw himself on the side of his horse and shot an
arrow which pierced our friend's shoulder, but he was himself the next
instant thrust through by his opponent's lance, his horse galloping off,
however, with his dead body.  This bold manoeuvre gave us time to
reload.  We were able to fire a volley as the rest of the party came
sweeping by.  Two more saddles were emptied, and another warrior was
wounded.  The latter, however, managed to regain his seat so as to wheel
round and rejoin his companions.

Had we been a more numerous party, and armed with swords and lances, we
might have mounted and pursued the enemy; but as we possessed only our
rifles, it was far more prudent to remain on foot, whence we could take
a steady aim.

It was surprising to see the way our persevering assailants came on, and
threw themselves over the sides of their horses.  It was not until we
had an opportunity of examining their trappings, that we discovered how
they managed to do so.  We found attached to the mane of each horse a
strong halter composed of horse-hair, which being passed under the
animal's neck, was firmly plaited into the mane, thus leaving a loop
hanging under its neck.  When about to fire, the warrior drops into this
loop, and he manages to sustain the weight of his body by the upper part
of the bent arm.  In this way, both his arms are at liberty, either to
use his bow or his spear.  In his left hand he grasps a dozen arrows,
together with his bow, and is not compelled to apply his hand to his
quiver, which hangs with his shield at his back, while his long spear
being supported by the bend of the elbow he can use it at any moment.

Our allies, on this occasion, rendered us essential service by
distracting the attention of our active foes, thus preventing them from
shooting with as much accuracy as usual.  Their arrows came flying about
us, many sticking in the trees behind our backs; but happily only two of
our people and one of our horses were slightly wounded, although one of
our Indian allies fell to the ground, and before any of his companions
could rescue him, a Coomanche, who had ridden up, leaning over his
horse, took his scalp and rejoined the main body.

The steady fire we kept up, prevented the Indians from coming close to
us; still they were evidently unwilling to abandon, the attempt, in
spite of the numbers they had already lost.  As far as we could judge,
the party which had before attacked us had been increased by many fresh
warriors, eager to distinguish themselves.  Could they obtain the white
men's scalps, they would be able to boast of their achievement to the
end of their days.

We had no intention, could we help it, of giving them this satisfaction.
One thing was remarkable--the regular way in which they came on and
retreated, like any civilised people engaging in warfare.  Our allies,
after our first attack, had rejoined us, and waited close at hand to
dash forward again, should they see a favourable opportunity.  At length
the Coomanches, having swept round out of rifle-shot, disappeared
behind, the wood from which they had emerged.  No sooner had they gone,
than our allies threw themselves from their horses and dashed forward
towards the bodies of the slain.  In vain Dick shouted to Pierre to tell
them to let the carcases alone.  Never did I witness a more horrid
sight; with their scalp-knives in their hands, they sprang forward, and
in an instant had passed the sharp blades round the heads of two of
them.  A third, though badly wounded, both by one of our bullets and an
arrow in his side, raised himself up, and fiercely regarding his
advancing foe, mocked and derided him as an ally of the whites.

The Indian advanced, and springing on the prostrate man, without waiting
to give him the merciful blow, whipped off his scalp, and left him still
bleeding on the ground.  On seeing this, Pierre, who seemed rather
ashamed of his friends, sent a bullet into the poor wretch's head, and
put him out of his misery.

The knife of one of the others must have been blunt, for finding that
the scalp did not come off as quickly as he wished, seating himself on
the ground with his feet against the dead man's shoulders, he pulled it
away by main force.  So far we had been more successful than we had
expected; but our enemies might rally, and, hovering in the
neighbourhood, keep us constantly in a state of anxiety.  We were
unwilling to leave our secure position until we could ascertain whether
the Indians had retreated.  To learn this, it was necessary to get to
the other side of the wood, which hid them from view.  For this purpose,
one of our allies volunteered to ride forward and ascertain where they
were.  The risk, however, was great, for should he be pursued, and
overtaken, his death was certain.  Still, the advantage to us would be
so great, that Armitage consented to his going.  Instead of making
directly towards the wood, however, he rode first to the east and then
suddenly turning his course northward, galloped along at full speed,
until he got a good view of the north side of the wood which was a mere
belt of trees, scarcely thick enough to conceal a large body of
horsemen.

We watched him anxiously.  At any moment his enemies might sally out and
attack him.  At length we saw him turn his horse's head, when he came
riding leisurely back.  Perceiving this we forthwith mounted and
continued our journey, leaving the bodies of the Indians to be devoured
by the prairie wolves, for we had no time, even had we wished it, to
bury them.

We of course kept a bright look out behind us as well as on either side,
for as Pierre observed, "It never does to trust those varmints of
Redskins; they come like the wind, and are off again with as many scalps
as they can lift before a man who has shut his eyes for a moment has
time to open them."

I confess that I heartily hoped we should in future be left alone; for,
although I had no objection to an occasional brush with the red men, I
had no fancy to be constantly harassed by them, and to be compelled to
remain in camp without the chance of a shot at a deer or buffalo for
fear of losing one's scalp.  I thought, however, that we had now done
with them and should the next night be able to sleep in peace.  Again we
continued on until it was nearly dark, when we formed camp in as
sheltered a position as we could find.

Of course our trail would show the way we had taken, and, should the
Indians be so disposed, they might follow us.  The only question was
whether they could or could not take us by surprise.  We had,
fortunately, enough meat for supper, but we agreed that it would be
necessary to hunt the next day at all risks.  When, however, we came to
examine our powder horns, we found that we had scarcely more than a
couple of charges each.  It would be impossible therefore to defend
ourselves, should we be again attacked, and a difficult task to obtain
game sufficient to last us to the end of the journey.  We had
fortunately a good supply of bear's meat, which, as Dick observed, "went
a long way;" but our Indian friends were voracious feeders and it was
necessary to give them as much as they wanted.  Our chief hope now of
obtaining food was that we might come across some buffalo which our
Indians would be able to shoot with their bows and arrows: at all
events, having already escaped so many dangers, we determined to keep up
our spirits and not to be cast down by the difficulties in the way.

As our Indians had been on the watch the previous night, we undertook to
keep guard this night, two at a time.  Charley and I were to be
together.

What the captain called "the middle watch" was over, when we mounted
guard, Charley on the horses, I on the camp.  Just then the moon, in its
last quarter, rose above the horizon, shedding a pale light over the
prairie.  We had been on foot a couple of hours and I was hoping that it
would soon be time to rouse up my companions and commence the day's
march, when Charley came to me.

"Look there!" he said, "I fancy that I can make out some objects in the
distance, but whether they are prairie wolves or men I am not quite
certain.  If they are Indians, the sooner we secure the horses the
better.  If they are wolves they can do us no great harm.  We will
awaken our friends, at all events!"

I quickly, in a low voice, called up all hands; and each man, without
standing on his feet, crept towards his horse.  In a few seconds we had
secured the whole of them.

"Now!" cried Dick, "mount and away."  No sooner were the words uttered,
than we sprang into our saddles.  As we did so a loud shout saluted our
ears, followed by the whistling of arrows; and, turning round, we saw
fifty dark forms scampering after us.  Had we possessed ammunition, we
should not have dreamed of taking to flight; but, without the means of
defending ourselves, it was the only safe thing to be done.  The arrows
came fast and thick.

"Keep together lads," cried Dick, "never mind those bodkins, we shall
soon distance our pursuers."

I heard a sharp cry from Charley and turning round I saw an arrow
sticking in his side.  The captain had already been wounded, but he did
not betray the fact of his being hurt.

Our horses, seeming to understand our dangerous position, stretched out
at their greatest speed.  I turned round and could still see the Indians
coming on and discharging their arrows; but we were now beyond their
range, and, provided our horses kept their feet, we had no fear of being
overtaken.  It was very trying to have to run away from foes whom we had
twice defeated, for we had no doubt that they were the same band of
Redskins we had before encountered and who now hoped, by approaching on
foot, to take us by surprise.  Had not Charley's quick sight detected
them indeed, we should probably have lost our horses and have been
murdered into the bargain.  On we galloped, yet for a long time we could
hear the shrieks and shouts of our distant foes.  Their horses were not
likely to be far off, and we knew that they would probably return for
them and again pursue us.  We must, therefore, put a considerable
distance between ourselves and them.  Fortunately, not having tired our
steeds, we should be able to go on without pulling rein for the whole
day; we must, however, camp to feed them, but not for a moment longer
than would be absolutely necessary for the purpose.  I asked Charley how
he felt.

"Never mind me," he answered, "the arrow hurts somewhat, but I would not
have our party stop to attend to me.  If I feel worse I'll tell you,
lest I should drop from my horse."

The captain said not a word of his wound, nor did anyone else complain
of being hurt; though, as daylight increased, I observed blood streaming
from the leg of one of the Indians, and another with a pierced coat
through which an arrow had gone.  At length our steeds gave signs of
being tired, and we ourselves had become very hungry.  We agreed,
therefore, to pull up near a stream, with a knoll close to it, from
which we could obtain, through our spy-glasses, a wide view across the
prairie, so that we could see our enemies before they could discover us.
To light a fire and cook our bear's flesh while our horses were turned
loose to feed, occupied but little time.  We had saved a couple of tin
mugs with which we brought water from the stream; but our kettle, and
several other articles, in the hurry of our flight, had been left
behind.  Our first care was to see to Charley's wound.  He heroically
bore the operation of cutting off the head of the arrow, which had to be
done before the shaft of the arrow could be drawn out.  We then, with a
handkerchief, bound up the wound.  Dick was less seriously hurt, an
arrow having, however, torn its way through his shoulder.  The Indian
made light of his wound which was very similar to that Charley had
received.  His companions doctored him, we supplying them with a
handkerchief which they bound round his wounded limb.  I was still
resting when Story, who had taken his post on the knoll, spy-glass in
hand, shouted out--

"I have just caught sight of the heads of the Redskins, over the grass,
so the sooner we are away the better."

Saying this he hurried down the hill.  We, having caught the horses and
packed up the remainder of our meat, mounted and rode on.  Both Charley
and Dick declared they did not feel much the worse for their wounds, the
blood they had lost probably preventing inflammation.  Though the
Indians could not see us, they must have discovered our trail; and they
would soon ascertain, by the remains of our fire, that we were not far
ahead.  This might encourage them to pursue us; but our horses being
better than theirs, we might still, should no accident happen, keep well
ahead of them.

We galloped on until dark and then we were once more compelled to camp.
Only half our party lay down at a time, the remainder keeping by the
horses while they fed, to be ready to bring them in at a moment's
notice.  Our pursuers would also have to stop to feed their horses, and
as they had not come up to us during the first watch, we hoped that they
would leave us in quiet for the remainder of the night.

We were not disturbed; and before daybreak, jumping into our saddles, we
pushed on.  I must pass over the two following days.  As yet we had met
with no signs of civilisation, when we saw a wreath of smoke rising
above the trees in the far distance.  It might come from a
backwoodsman's hut, or it might be simply that of a camp fire.  It was
not likely to rise from the camp of Indians, so Pierre thought, as they
do not generally venture so far east.  However, to run no risk of
falling among foes, we sent forward one of our scouts, while we
proceeded at the pace we had before been going.  We felt most anxious to
get some shelter, where we could sleep in security and obtain food, for
our bear's flesh was well-nigh exhausted, and we had not hitherto fallen
in with buffalo; while both our wounded men required more care than we
could give them in the camp, with the chance of having to mount and ride
for our lives at any moment.

After riding some distance we heard a shot.

"All's not right," cried Dick; "we may have either to fight, or run for
it."

In a short time we saw an Indian riding at full speed towards us.

"What's the matter?" asked Pierre as he came near.

He pointed to the wood, when presently two white men appeared with
rifles in their hands.  As soon as they caught sight of us, they shouted
out and made signs of friendship to us, while they grounded their arms.
We were soon up to them.

"Sorry to have shot at your Redskin friend, but we took him for an
enemy, that's a fact," said one of them; "however, as the bit of lead
missed his head, he's none the worse for it."

Dick assured him we had no wish to complain, and asked whether we could
find any shelter in the neighbourhood.

"You are welcome to our hut, friends," answered the other man, "it's big
enough for all hands except the Indians, and they can put up wigwams for
themselves.  Come along, for there's a storm brewing, I guess; and
you'll be better under cover than in the open air."

We gladly accepted the invitation, and guided by our new acquaintances,
we soon found ourselves in a clearing, with a good-sized log-hut and a
couple of shanties at the rear of it.  The rain had already begun to
fall; so speedily taking off the bridles and saddles of our steeds, we
hobbled them and turned them loose; we then hurried under cover, our
Indian guides taking possession of one of the shanties.

Our hosts, Mark and Simon Praeger, told us that they and their brothers
had built the log-hut the previous winter.  They had already a
good-sized field fenced in and under cultivation and had besides a herd
of cattle, the intention of the family being to move west in a few
months.

On hearing of the loss of our provisions and stores, they at once set to
work to get supper ready; and, as they had killed a deer that morning
and had a good supply of flour, coffee and other articles, they soon
placed an abundant meal smoking on the table.  We at once discovered
that they were superior to the general run of backwoodsmen, having a
fair education, at the same time that they were hardy persevering
fellows, and bold buffalo and deer hunters, who held the Redskins in
supreme contempt.  Their family, they told us, resided somewhere about a
hundred miles away to the eastward.  They had pushed thus far into the
wilderness to form a home for themselves, both young men intending to
marry shortly and set up house.  Their father's farm was close to the
very settlement for which we were bound, and the nearest where we were
likely to get our wants amply supplied.  They were sure, they said, that
their father would be happy to receive us and assist us in obtaining all
we required.  We thanked them and gladly accepted their kind offer.

Supper being over, we lay down in our buffalo robes; and I need scarcely
say that, having no longer the fear of being aroused by finding an
Indian's scalping-knife running round my head, I was quickly fast
asleep, fully expecting to have a good night's rest.

My sleep, however, at length became troubled.  I dreamed that I heard
the Indian war-whoops, and saw a whole band of savages spring out of the
darkness and rush with uplifted tomahawks towards me while I lay
helpless on the ground.  Presently the cries increased, and I awoke with
a start to hear a terrific growling sound.  It was that of a bear, I was
convinced.  I saw that Mark Praeger, having got up and struck a light,
had taken down his rifle from the wall and was going towards the door.
I jumped up, as did Armitage and Story, and followed him.  As he threw
open the door, we saw, not a dozen paces from the hut, a huge bear
squatting on his hindquarters and apparently taking a leisurely survey
of the hut.

Mark, as soon as he caught sight of his visitor, lifted his rifle and
fired, but the cap failed to go off.  It would have been a fine
opportunity for Bruin to have made a rush upon us; when he might, by
dashing into the hut, have taken possession and killed us all one after
the other, or driven us out.  Instead of doing so, alarmed by the shouts
we raised, uttering a low growl, he turned round and broke away through
the brushwood on one side of the hut.

"On lads!" cried Mark, "we must get that fellow for the sake of the meat
and skin."

As he spoke he replaced the copper cap and dashed forward in pursuit of
the intruder.  As we had no wish to go bear-hunting unarmed, we hurried
back to obtain our rifles and some powder and bullets from Simon.  By
the time we were supplied, the rest of the party who had been aroused by
our shouts, were on foot and preparing to accompany us.  On returning to
the door, we could nowhere see Mark; but Simon taking the lead we
followed him.  The moon had got up, so that we managed to see our way
with tolerable clearness, by a path leading down to a stream, with
precipitous banks, rising in some places into cliffs of considerable
height.  We had gone some distance when we heard a shot fired.

"Mark has brought Master Bruin to bay," cried Simon; "I wish he had
waited until we had come up."

I heard the sound of footsteps behind us, and looking round saw that our
Indian allies had followed, as eager as we were to get the bear's meat.
Just then we saw Mark bending over the bear which he had shot; but what
was our horror the next moment to observe another huge monster rush out
from behind a rock and lifting itself on its haunches make a spring at
him, before he could even turn round to defend himself.  His death
seemed certain.  In attempting to shoot the bear, we should too probably
kill him.  No one therefore dared to fire.  In vain he endeavoured to
escape from the claws of the creature who held him in a fast embrace.
His brother and Armitage, who were leading, dashed forward, the one
drawing a long knife, the other armed with an axe which he had caught up
as we left the hut.  I held my gun ready, waiting to fire should I be
able to do so without running the risk of shooting one of my friends.

It was a fearful moment.  It seemed scarcely possible, even should we
kill the bear, that poor Mark would escape destruction.  Simon,
springing close to the monster, dealt it a tremendous blow with his axe,
hoping to draw its attention on himself; while Armitage, with his
uplifted knife, dashed forward, and as he did so plunged his weapon
behind the bear's shoulder.  The monster turned round on feeling the
wound, and I thought would have bitten Mark's head.  Simon again plied
the brute with his axe.  The huge jaws relaxed, the head sank down,
Armitage had driven his knife home to the beast's heart.

With shouts, indicative of their satisfaction, the Indians now hurried
up and assisted us in dragging off the body from our fallen friend who
was by this time nearly senseless.  The bear's claws had torn him
fearfully about the breast and shoulders, besides having given him a
tremendous hug, but had, we hoped, injured no vital part.  He was
unable, however, to speak or stand.  We at once, therefore, formed a
litter with poles speedily cut from the banks of the stream, on which we
bore him back to the hut, leaving the Indians under the command of
Pierre to cut up the bears and bring in their flesh and skins, an
occupation to which they applied themselves with evident delight.



CHAPTER FOUR.

On arriving at the hut with our almost inanimate burden, we found the
captain and Charlie in a state of great anxiety to know what had
happened; for they had, I should have said, been undressed, and placed
in our hosts' beds, their wounds preventing them from putting on their
clothes.  The captain insisted on turning out when he saw the sad
condition of Mark; and he moreover undertook to doctor him as well as he
was able.  It appeared evident, however, that as soon as possible Mark
and Charley should be removed to the settlement, where they could obtain
surgical aid.  Mark in a short time revived.  From the captain's report,
we had hopes that, on account of his fine constitution, he would escape
inflammation, which was chiefly, under his circumstances, to be feared.

The Praegers had a light wagon, into which, soon after breakfast was
over the next morning, we put our three wounded companions, and leaving
Pierre and the Indians with Simon Praeger, we set off for Tillydrone.
We would gladly have had another day's rest, but the impossibility of
obtaining medical assistance for poor Mark and Charley made us willing
to undergo the fatigue.

The country was tolerably level, there being a fine open prairie, across
which we rattled at a good speed, though the unavoidable jolting must
have greatly tried our poor friends within.  I was very thankful when
Mark, looking out of the wagon, told us that we were approaching his
father's house.  Our cavalcade must have been seen, for in a short time
two horsemen came galloping up to us: the elder, a fine-looking,
middle-aged man, Mark saluted as his father; the other as brother Peter.
A few words explained what had happened.  Mr Praeger immediately
invited us all to his house, while Peter started off as fast as he could
go to summon the doctor.

The house to which we were conducted was a picturesque,
comfortable-looking building, constructed of wood, with a low pitched
roof, and wide long verandah, up to which a flight of broad steps led
us.  We found a matronly-looking dame, with a bevy of young ones,
standing in the verandah, evidently wondering at the number of guests
Mr Praeger was bringing to the house.  They were all activity on
hearing the state of the occupants of the wagon, and hurried down the
steps to assist in lifting in our wounded companions, for neither
Charley nor Mark were able to walk.  The captain, however, got up the
steps by merely leaning on Mr Praeger's arm.

In a few minutes all three were placed in bed, Mrs Praeger declaring
that it was the only place fit for either of them, though her son was
certainly the most hurt.

The young ladies were so busy during the evening, flitting about here
and there, that I could scarcely tell how many there were of them.  I
remarked, however, that one was taller than the others, very fair, and
with a graceful figure.  When Armitage--who had remained out of sight,
looking after the horses--came in, she was not in the room, and it was
some time before she returned.  When she did so, he rose to his feet,
and regarded her earnestly, while the colour mounted to his cheek and
brow; then he bowed, and stood apparently irresolute whether to advance
or retreat.  She started on seeing him and then put out her hand.  He
sprang across the room and took it.

"I little expected to have the happiness of seeing you, Miss Hargrave,"
he said.

"Is it a happiness?" she asked, in a calm tone.

"Indeed it is," he replied.  "I heard that you had left England, but
could not ascertain to what part of the world you had gone."

What further passed between our friend and the young lady I cannot tell,
as they lowered their voices, while they retired to a window at the
other end of the room, Armitage forgetting all about his supper.

The ladies of the family, I should say, did not sit down to table, as
they had already taken their evening meal, and insisted on waiting upon
us.

Peter Praeger returned sooner than was expected with the doctor, whom he
found on a visit to a family five or six miles off.

He gave a more favourable report of Dick and Charley than I expected,
but young Mark, he said, would require the greatest possible care; a
good constitution, however, he hoped, would enable him to pull through,
though his hurts were of a most serious description.

I had no opportunity of speaking to Armitage before turning in, so I was
unable to ascertain more about the young lady he had so unexpectedly
met.  The rest of the family were very nice and pretty girls, their
manners much superior to what I had reasonably supposed would be found
in the "Far West."

Soon after breakfast the next morning, I saw Armitage and Miss Hargrave
walking out together, he having asked her to show him a beautiful view
she had spoken of at the other end of the estate.  The rest of the young
ladies being occupied, Story and I lit our pipes, and were sitting
smoking them in the verandah, when we were joined by Mr Praeger.

"Your companion appears to be an old friend of my young relative," he
observed, as if apparently wishing to learn something about Armitage.

I replied that he was well known to Lieutenant Buntin, who spoke highly
of him; and that he was evidently a man of some means, as we judged from
his outfit and the number of his attendants, while we had found him a
most excellent fellow in every respect.

"I'm glad to hear it, for the sake of my wife's young cousin Ellen," he
answered.  "She came out to us a few months ago, having lost her
parents, and having no relatives for whom she cared in England.  She
had, however, very little idea of the rough style of life we are
compelled to lead; but she at once got into our ways, though I observed
what I could not account for, that she was often more melancholy than
was consistent with her disposition.  Now, however, I suspect the
cause."

I fully agreed with our out-spoken host.  I soon found that we were not
likely to learn anything of the interesting subject from Armitage
himself, for he was remarkably reticent, and I saw that it would not do
to banter him, or allude in any way to it.

I must pass over several days, during which the doctor as well as the
ladies of the family were unremitting in their attentions to the wounded
men.  The captain was soon himself again, though still too weak to
travel; but Charley's wound took much longer to heal, and Mark was not
likely to be on foot again for three or four weeks at soonest.  In the
meantime, Story and I, with our constant companion, Peter, rode over to
the settlement to obtain the stores we required for our journey, as well
as to replace our baggage mules.

While thus engaged, we found an old trapper also making purchases at the
stores.  He was tall and gaunt, his countenance weather beaten and
sunburnt, of a ruddy brown hue, his hair--which hung over his
shoulders--being only slightly grizzled, while his chin and face were
smooth shaved.  He was dressed in a hunting-frock of buckskin, and
pantaloons of the same material ornamented down the seams with long
fringes.  On his feet he wore mocassins of Indian make; his head was
covered by a neatly-made cap of beaver; an unusually large powder-horn
was slung over his shoulders, together with a rifle, carefully covered
up; while in his belt, in addition to a knife and tomahawk, he carried a
brace of pistols with long barrels, showing that he was accustomed to
travel amongst enemies, and was prepared to make a stout fight if he was
attacked.  On seeing us, he enquired who we were, where we had come
from, and in what direction we were going.

We told him without hesitation.

"I guess the old hoss will go with you some of the way," he said.  "Tell
Master Praeger that Ben Folkard will pay him a visit before long, I
can't say when.  He knows me, and he knows when I say I'll do a thing I
intend to do it."

We promised to give old Folkard's message, and soon afterwards we parted
from him.  Peter told us that he had heard his father speak of Ben
Folkard as one of the most noted and skilful trappers of the Rocky
Mountains, and that he never turned up without a large supply of skins
and peltries.

We were fortunate in obtaining some fine Mexican mules and all the
articles we required, though we had to pay somewhat highly for them.
Well satisfied, we set off to return to Mr Praeger's.  The houses and
the stores were few and far between, the intermediate country being
still in a state of nature.  As our laden mules could not travel fast,
we had to camp on the way.  We chose a grassy spot near a wood, offering
sufficient attractions to our animals to prevent them from straying,
though of course we hobbled them as an additional security.

While Peter remained in camp, Story and I took our guns to get a turkey,
or any other game which might come in our way.  We had not gone far when


Story called my attention to an animal standing on the fallen trunk of a
tree, and told me to keep back the dogs, which would be sure to suffer
if they were to attack it.  I was about to fire, when I caught sight of
another animal of similar size with a long, thin body and sharp nose,
which I at once recognised as a marten.  It had apparently been watching
the porcupine, who, unconscious of its approach, remained perfectly
still, its spines scarcely visible.  The marten was intent on taking its
enemy by surprise; and, stealing up, threw itself on the unsuspicious
porcupine before it had time even to raise its spines.  The moment it
felt itself seized, it began to lash its tail about and throw out its
quills in all directions; but the marten, by its wonderful agility,
escaped the blows aimed at it.  In a short time it gained the victory,
and was already sucking the blood of its victim when Story fired and hit
it in the head.  As the skin was of considerable value, we quickly
flayed it, and with a couple of turkeys which we were fortunate enough
to shoot, returned to camp, where, to our surprise, we found old Folkard
seated smoking his pipe.

"I'm going along with you, boys," he said.  "Good company isn't always
to be got, and it's not always safe, while the Redskins are on the
war-path, to travel through the country alone.  You can help me and I
can help you, so that we shall be quits."

We, of course, told the trapper that we should be very happy to have the
benefit of his experience.

We passed the night quietly enough; but the next morning, to our
excessive disgust, half the mules were missing.  In spite of their
hobbles, they had managed to get away.  Peter and I with two men at once
set off in search of them; but it was not until late in the day that we
found the runaways.  As soon as we had brought them back we started, but
of course could make but a short distance.  On camping, with the
assistance of the old trapper we hobbled them more securely than on the
previous night, and by his advice a watch was set, we all taking the
duty in turns.  Old Ben, however, excused himself from watching,
declaring that his mules never ran away and that as he should have to
keep wide awake during most nights by and by, he should prefer a sound
sleep while he could get it.

To this we made no objection.  We placed the packs on one side of our
camp-fire, near which, having taken our suppers, the old trapper, Peter,
and Story lay down to sleep; while I, with my rifle in my hand, walked
off to look after the horses and mules.  I kept walking up and down,
keeping my eyes open, and when any of the animals appeared inclined to
head off from the rest turned them back.  The night was fine and the
stars shone out brightly, but it was otherwise somewhat dark.  At last I
began to yawn and to wish heartily that Story would come and relieve me.
Once or twice I heard cries in the distance very similar to those which
had disturbed us when further to the west, but here, so near the settled
districts, I thought nothing of the matter.  I suspected that the
cunning mules were watching me, for when I turned towards the camp to
call Story, off one or two of them bolted.  They had played me this
trick two or three times, and at last one of them led me so long a chase
that when I caught him I determined to punish the brute by securing him
to a tree.  Having done so I turned towards the camp, but the fire had
burnt so low that I could scarcely see the spot.  There was light
enough, however, to enable me to distinguish several objects moving over
the ground.  Can they be Indians?  I thought, as I ran forward hoping to
arouse my companions in time to defend themselves.  Before I got up to
the camp, however, I saw what I at once knew to be a pack of wolves.  On
they came without bark or yelp, making straight for our baggage.  Among
the provisions we had purchased was a quantity of pemmican placed on the
top.  I really believe that the wolves, cunning as foxes, had surveyed
our camp and knew exactly what to go in for.  I shouted loudly, hoping
to frighten them off and awaken my friends; but even old Ben was
sleeping so soundly that for some time no one heard my voice, while I
was afraid to fire at the wolves for fear--in the uncertain light--of
hitting one of my sleeping companions.  At length up sprang Story and
Peter, and their cries aroused the old trapper.  It was too late,
however, to prevent the wolves making an onslaught on our baggage.  Each
seized something in his mouth, but our cries prevented them from
remaining and devouring the whole of our provisions, which they
undoubtedly otherwise would have done.  Off they went, several of the
rascals carrying bags of pemmican or of flour, or packages of hams in
their mouths.  I fired and stopped the career of one of them, while my
companions, imitating my example, shot three others.  We then, having
reloaded, made chase and brought down two or three more.

We should have regained the whole of our provisions, but, in several
instances, the moment a wolf was shot another brute seized his prize and
made off with it.  Under other circumstances we should not have expended
powder on the brutes.  We fired away, however, as long as any remained
within shot, and on searching for the booty we recovered nearly the
whole of it.  Our chief loss was in our flour, as the animals, while
grabbing the bags from each other, had well nigh torn them to pieces and
let the contents run out.

Old Ben took matters very coolly, but Story and Peter were so vexed that
they undertook to ride back and replace our loss, if we would consent to
move on slowly with the rest of the animals.  This we gladly did, the
old trapper managing them with perfect ease.  He said that he had seldom
known a pack of wolves to come so far east, and advised that in future
we should keep a sharp look-out lest we might encounter others.

Our friends overtook us the next day, and in the evening we reached Mr
Praeger's.  We found Dick quite recovered and ready to set off again;
but it seemed doubtful whether Armitage would continue his expedition.
It struck me that although Mr Praeger was very civil, he would be glad
to have us go.  To say the least, we occupied a great deal of the
attention of the ladies of the family, and Charley hinted that honest
Dick was somewhat spoony on one of them.  Story had also been warm in
his praises of another, and it struck me that the young lady's colour
heightened and her eyes brightened when he spoke to her.

Mr Praeger seemed less contented with his location than I should have
thought.  He had evidently been captivated by the accounts of the wealth
of California, and he made his "woman kind" somewhat uneasy by talking
of travelling across the country, bag and baggage, to settle in the new
Eldorado.  They evidently had no wish to move; which was but natural, as
they appeared to me to have everything they could desire, besides being
free from the risk of Indian raids to which the settlers farther west
were constantly exposed.  Dick, Story and I now made active preparations
for our departure; and, to my surprise, and much to our satisfaction,
Armitage expressed his intention of accompanying us.

I thought that Ellen's countenance and those of some of the other young
ladies had a shade of sadness on them as they saw us engaged in doing up
our packs and trying our newly-bought mules.  Dick and I each purchased
a strong, active horse from Mr Praeger, for which we gave him long
prices as some return for his hospitality; and we then presented him
with our own steeds, which were likely to pick up muscle and flesh on
his rich pastures.

Though he was as courteous as ever, he did not press us to stay, and at
length, all our traps being prepared, we set off, accompanied by old
Folkard, who did not even ask whether we wished for his society or not.
Armitage remained behind, so I did not witness his parting with Miss
Hargrave, but he soon galloped after us.  Peter accompanied us as far as
his brother's, to take the place of poor Mark, who was still unfit for
work, though in a fair way of recovery.  We spent a day with the young
backwoodsmen, whose hearts were delighted with a present of a first-rate
Joe Manton.  Our intention was to push on for the base of the Rocky
Mountains to a region where deer and buffalo and big-horns abounded.  We
shot several deer, but as we had come across no buffalo, the larger
herds had, we supposed, moved northward.  We had encamped one afternoon
earlier than usual, being tempted to halt by a wide stream and a wood
near at hand.  Our fire being lighted and our meat put on to roast and
stew, Armitage, Story, and I took our guns to go out in search of
turkeys or other small game, should we be unable to find deer.  Armitage
took two of his dogs, though they often gave us more trouble than
assistance in hunting.  We had, however, been tolerably successful, and
shot three fine gobblers and some smaller birds, when, as we were
returning towards camp, the dogs gave tongue and started off to the
right, refusing to return at their master's call.

We hurried on as fast as the rough nature of the ground would allow us.
We were on the top of some low cliffs which had formed at some time or
other of the world's history the side of a torrent now dried up and
overgrown with trees.  Presently we heard a cry of--

"Here, boys, help, help!"

At the same time one of the dogs leaped over the cliff, and we saw a
short distance from us Charley struggling with a brown bear,
providentially not a grizzly, which with great courage he had grasped by
the throat so as to prevent the brute from biting him; but he was
brought on his knees, his cap had fallen off, and his gun lay on the
ground beside him.  In another instant the bear would have seized his
head, when the dog leaped down on the creature's back and caused a
diversion in his favour.  To fire would have been dangerous, for had we
tried to kill the bear we should have run a fearful risk of shooting
Charley.  We therefore trusted to the assistance of the dogs, the other,
following its companion, having fixed its teeth well into the bear.
Charley manfully continued the contest, but was afraid of releasing his
hold of the bear's throat lest it should bite him.

We shouted and shrieked, hoping to frighten Bruin, as we scrambled over
the rocks.  At length Charley, still holding the bear's throat with one
hand, managed to get hold of his knife with the other, and in spite of
the creature's claws round his waist, using all his strength he struck
the weapon into its breast.  The bear opened its paws as it felt the
knife entering, and Charley, having driven the weapon home, sprang back,
when the creature rolled over, almost crushing one of the dogs in its
convulsive struggles.  Before we could get up to the scene of the
contest it was dead, and most thankful were we to find Charley
wonderfully little injured, though his clothes were somewhat torn.  Our
young friend showed indeed remarkable nerve, for he scarcely even
trembled, though his cheek was somewhat paler than usual from the
desperate exertions he had made.

On examining the bear we found that it was an old one, and somewhat thin
from want of food; its claws also were blunted from old age, which
circumstance accounted for Charley's almost miraculous escape, for had
it possessed its full strength a single hug would have pressed the life
out of his body.

We congratulated him heartily on his preservation, and complimented him
on the courage he had exhibited.

"Let us have the skin, at all events," he said.  "I would sooner carry
it on my own shoulders into camp than leave it behind."

"We'll not disappoint you, my boy," said Story; and he immediately began
to flay the animal; but as its flesh was likely to prove tough, we left
the carcase for the benefit of the prairie wolves.

While Story and I carried the skin between us, Armitage assisted
Charley, who was less able to walk than he had at first supposed.  A man
cannot get even a moderate hug from a bear without suffering.

At the camp we found two strange Indians, who seemed disposed to be very
friendly, and invited us to pay them a visit at their lodges only an
hour's march off.  One of them was a fine young fellow, dressed in a
leathern jacket and leggings richly ornamented, while on his head he
wore a circlet of feathers.  He appeared to be greatly struck with
Charley on hearing of his exploit with the bear, and putting out his
hand, declared that they must henceforth be brothers.

Dick, though greatly delighted at hearing of Charley's behaviour, was
much concerned on seeing the injuries he had received, which were more
serious than we had at first supposed.  He insisted on his turning into
a hut which old Folkard and Pierre immediately set to work to construct.

Our guests begged that he might be conveyed to their wigwams, saying
that their squaws would doctor him and soon restore his strength.

"They may be honest--those Shianees--but they may be rogues like many
other Redskins," observed old Ben.  "Better not trust them."

We therefore thanked our guests, but declined their offer for the
present, saying that our young companion was unfit to be moved, though
we hoped to pay them a visit on the following day.

They, nothing abashed, continued to squat round the fire, smoking
tobacco and quaffing with evident pleasure the small glasses of
usquebaugh which Dick bestowed upon them.  Armitage objected, however,
to the captain's giving them liquor.

"Let them take as much as they've a fancy to," said Ben.  "It won't do
them any harm once in a way, and it will let us know what they are
thinking about."

Our guests having drunk the whisky, showed the same friendly disposition
as at first, nor did they complain when Dick refused to give them any
more.

"A little do good, too much do harm," observed Dick, at which they
nodded as if perfectly agreeing with him.

As the shades of evening approached, they got up, and shaking hands all
round, took their departure.

"They're all right, we may trust them," said Ben.

We nevertheless kept a strict watch over our cattle, for the temptation
to steal a fine stud might have been too great for our Indian neighbours
to resist.  No attempt was made on the camp however, and the next
morning the animals were found feeding as quietly as usual.



CHAPTER FIVE.

A tremendous storm, such as we had not yet experienced, kept us in camp
the next morning.  The lightning flashed, the thunder roared, and the
rain came down in torrents, compelling us to make trenches round our
huts.  Even when doing this, we were nearly wet to the skin.  Our fires
also were almost extinguished, though we contrived to keep them in by
heaping up fresh fuel every few minutes.  It was truly a battle between
the flames and the rain, but the former would have been beaten without
our assistance.  The same cause probably kept the Indians inside their
wigwams, for we saw nothing of them.  We managed to cover up poor
Charley so that he did not suffer.  In the afternoon, the rain cleared
off, and trusting to the professions of the Indians, Dick and I set off
to pay them a visit.  For prudence, according to the custom we had
adopted, we wore our swords by our sides, at which, as they appeared
rather more for ornament than use, the Indians were not likely to take
offence.  One of the Indians, who had come to our camp the previous
evening, was, we discovered, their chief, by name Ocuno, or the Yellow
Wolf.  He received us with outstretched hands, appearing highly pleased
at our coming, and without hesitation introduced us to his principal
squaw, a very attractive young woman with a pleasing expression of
countenance, and much fairer than Indians in general, indeed we had no
doubt that she must have had a white father.  She told us that she was
much attached to the whites, and had not it been her lot to become the
wife of Yellow Wolf, she would gladly have married a pale face.  Dick
was so well satisfied, that he agreed to bring his young friend over to
their village the next morning, that he might be placed under her
charge.

The Yellow Wolf told us that he intended to start in search of buffalo
in a day or two, and that if we chose, we might accompany him, promising
that we should have half the animals slain; "for," as he observed, "he
and his people were more expert hunters, yet our firearms would make
amends for our want of skill."

After spending some time with our new friends, we returned to our own
camp.  The offer of Yellow Wolf was accepted by all hands, and in the
morning we conveyed Charley on a litter to his lodge, the baggage mules
and spare horses being also moved forward to the neighbourhood of the
village.  We found the Indians preparing to engage in a dance, which we
supposed was for our entertainment, but which we afterwards discovered,
was for the sake of inducing the Good Spirit to send herds of buffalo to
their neighbourhood.

As soon as Charley was comfortably placed inside his wigwam, and the
fair Manoa, the "Flower of the Prairies"--as her lord was wont to call
her--was examining his hurts, the Yellow Wolf desired us to be seated in
front of it.  Scarcely had we taken our places, than from every hut
rushed forward some monstrous figures with buffalo heads, but the legs
of men and huge tails trailing behind, the whole of the party collecting
in an open space in front of us.  They were about to begin, we were
told, their famous buffalo dance.  First round and round they tramped
with measured steps, then they rushed against each other, then
separated, then again met.  Some were overthrown, but quickly getting on
their feet, rejoined their companions.  Now they bent down on all fours;
now one buffalo, seizing a bow, shot a blunt arrow at another.  Some had
shields and spears; some, mounted on the backs of their companions,
charged at everyone they met; all the time the whole band were stamping,
bellowing, yelping, and making other terrific noises, while another
party were seated on the ground beating their drums, and shaking their
rattles, the dancers keeping time to the discordant music.  It is
difficult to describe the feats of the different performers, for each
man appeared to dance until he could dance no more, except that when a
pretended buffalo was shot by a blunt arrow, he was dragged out, and
another immediately took his place.  This amusement went on until we
were utterly weary of witnessing it, though at first it was amusing
enough.  I then suggested to Yellow Wolf that he should order the
dancers to "knock off;" but he replied that the efficacy of the ceremony
depended upon its continuing until the buffalo should appear.

"But suppose they should not come for a whole moon, your braves will be
pretty well worn out by that time," I remarked.

"But they will come before then," he answered.

"So I should hope," I said, laughing.

At last a bevy of squaws placed on the ground, in front of the tent, an
abundant feast of various messes, of which our host invited us to
partake, suggesting that we should add a few articles from our own
stores, including a bottle of fire-water, "for which," he observed, "his
lips felt a peculiar longing."

We took the hint, but Dick ordered only a small bottle to be brought,
observing that we kept the firewater for sick men, or for such occasions
as the present, and that we could not venture to draw largely on our
store.

Unattractive as were the dishes the Redskin damsels offered us, they
were far more palatable than might have been expected.

As the Indians liked their own dishes best, and we preferred ours, we
did not trespass very largely on theirs.  We found from the small amount
of meat in the village, that the inhabitants were more hard up for food
than we had supposed.

The buffalo dancers all the time continued their performance, being
evidently impressed with the belief that the more furiously they danced,
the sooner the buffaloes would make their appearance.  Night brought no
cessation, one relay of performers relieving the other without
intermission; so that I was afraid poor Charley would have but little
chance of a sleep.  He, however, when I paid him a visit before
retiring, assured me that he had got accustomed to the noise; and that
the Flower of the Prairies had taken such good care of him that he was
perfectly ready to remain where he was.  Although we had every
confidence in the honesty of our new friends, we deemed it prudent to
keep a watch at night, both in camp and over the animals, for fear some
young brave might take it into his head to distinguish himself by
running off with a horse or two, as he would be sure to find a welcome
among any friendly tribe after the performance of such an act.  I have
no doubt there are some noble Redskins fit to become heroes of romances;
but the greater part are unmitigated savages, with notions of right and
wrong very different from those of civilised people.

The next day we paid a visit to Yellow Wolf, when we found his people
still dancing with unabated vigour.

"The buffalo have not come yet!"  I observed to him.

"Wait a bit, they come by-and-by," he replied.  Dick suggested that we
should strike away westward in search of them, but Yellow Wolf replied
that it would be of no use, and that probably the buffalo would turn
back and take a different course, should the pale-faces pursue them.

Old Ben advised us not to act contrary to the chief's wishes, observing
that he undoubtedly had a very correct notion of when the buffalo would
appear, as he never allowed the dance to commence until he calculated
that the herd were not far off.

Wishing to cement our friendship with the chief we invited him and some
of his principal braves to our camp, where we provided a feast as
suitable to their tastes as we were capable of producing.  They approved
of the boiled ham and pork as well as the corn cakes, sweetened with
sugar, which old Ben manufactured; but they hinted pretty strongly that
the stuff our flasks contained was more to their taste than anything
else we possessed.  We took good care, however, not to give them enough
to make them drunk; but Armitage observed that we were doing them harm
by creating in them a taste for spirits, and that it would have been
wiser not to allow them from the first to know that we had any.

The feast was over, and our guests were smoking the tobacco with which
we provided them, puffing away with evident enjoyment, when a young
brave was seen galloping towards our camp at headlong speed.  As he
approached, he cried out,--"The buffalo! the buffalo are coming!"

"I said so!" exclaimed Yellow Wolf, springing up and rushing towards his
horse.  We all followed his example, leaving Pierre and the Indians in
charge of the camp.

Yellow Wolf and his followers directed their course towards their lodges
to obtain their bows and arrows; for, to show the confidence they placed
in us, they had come without them.  As we came near, we saw, far to the
north and north-west, the whole ground covered with a dark mass of
shaggy monsters, tossing their heads and flourishing their tails, the
ground literally trembling beneath their feet as they dashed on towards
us.  The course they were following would bring them directly down upon
the camp.  We might as well have endeavoured to stop a cataract as to
have tried to turn them aside.  Their sudden appearance caused the
greatest excitement and confusion in the camp.  The buffalo dancers, who
had danced they were convinced to some purpose, having thrown off their
masquerading dresses, were rushing here and there to obtain their arms
and catch their horses.  Before, however, the greater number were ready
for the encounter, the buffalo were in their midst; and, to the dismay
of the inmates, charged right through the camp, capsizing wigwams,
trampling over women and children, dashing through the fires, and
crushing pots and pans.  Many of the brutes, however, paid dearly for
their exploit; as the hunters, with shouts and shrieks, followed them
up, shooting down some, spearing others, and ham-stringing the brutes
right and left, who were too much astonished and confused at the
unexpected reception they met with to escape.  I made my way to the
chief's wigwam, which I was thankful to see still standing, and was just
in time to shoot a buffalo charging at it with a force which would have
upset a structure of ten times its stability.  As it was, the animal
rolled over, close to the tent poles.  It was the first buffalo I had
killed, and I was the prouder of the exploit as I had saved Charlie and
the Flower of the Prairies from injury.  I saw the chief galloping after
another buffalo charging an old warrior fallen to the ground, and who
would, in another moment, have been transfixed by its horns, had not
Yellow Wolf stuck his spear behind its shoulder so powerful a blow that
the creature rolled over, not, however, without almost crushing the old
man's legs.  The fierce onslaught made by the Indians on the herd at
length divided it, some of the animals going off to the south-east,
others to the south-west.  Greatly to our satisfaction they then passed
by on either side of our camp, several of their number being brought
down by Ben Folkard's and Pierre's unerring rifles, three also being
killed by our Indian followers.  We, as well as the Indians, however,
excited by the chase, still followed the buffaloes, although it seemed
to me that we had already as much meat as the people could possibly
consume.

Away we went, the Indians pursuing the cows, which they had singled out,
their flesh being of the most value, though they were much smaller than
the bulls.  I confess, as they were all galloping along together, that I
could scarcely distinguish one from the other.  I found myself at length
alone, pursuing part of the herd which had turned away eastward.  I had
managed to knock over two animals, and having again loaded made chase
after a cow which had separated from her companions, I being determined
to shoot her and then return.  For some time she gave me no chance, as,
unless I could obtain a broadside shot, there was no use in firing.  My
horse was beginning to get blown, but I urged him on with whip and spur,
until at length I managed to get up to within a few paces, when rising
in my stirrups I fired down upon the animal.  It seemed like the work of
a moment, scarcely had I pulled the trigger than down dropped the
buffalo, the bullet having broken her spine.  So rapid was the pace of
my horse, that he was unable to stop himself.  He made an attempt,
however, to spring over the buffalo, but his feet striking its body over
he rolled sending me with my gun still grasped in my hand, flying to the
opposite side, when down he came almost upon me.  At first I was seized
with the dreadful idea that both my legs were broken, and I expected
that my horse in his struggles would crush me still further, but the
well-trained creature, recovering himself, rose to his feet without
trampling upon me.  Fortunately my sword was not broken, nor thrown out
of the scabbard.

For some time I lay holding his bridle but unable to move.  I was far
away from either of my companions and was much afraid that I should not
be discovered.  The first thing I had to do was to try and get into my
saddle; but, should I fail, dreadful might be my fate.  My horse might
perhaps make his way into camp, and by his appearance show that some
accident had happened to me.  I had a pocketbook and tore out a leaf and
wrote--"Lying on the ground with both legs broken, to the eastward of
the camp," and signed it, "Tom Rushforth."

I endeavoured to reach one of my stirrups to which I intended to fasten
the paper and then to set my horse at liberty.  Before doing so,
however, I thought I would examine my legs and ascertain if they were
really broken.  On feeling the bones, to my infinite satisfaction I
could discover no fracture, though they pained me greatly.  I
accordingly tried and succeeded in getting up; and, although I do not
think I could have walked a yard, I managed to scramble into my saddle
with my gun.  I then, having thrown down a handkerchief to mark the cow
I had shot as my own put my horse's head, as I supposed, in the
direction of the camp.

I was anxious to get back as soon as possible, but the pain of riding
fast was greater than I could bear, and I was compelled to make my horse
walk at a pace not suited to his fancy.

I could still see the buffalo scampering over the prairie, moving off to
the southward, and I concluded that they would be miles away before the
end of the day.  I looked round for any friends, but not a horseman
could I discover.

The weather had been bright during the early part of the day, but clouds
were now drifting rapidly over the sky, and I continued riding on
towards the north-west until the sun became totally obscured.  I still
believed that I could direct my course right.  To trot was unbearable,
but I thought that I might venture on a gallop; the movement, however,
caused me so much pain that I was compelled again to pull up.  In rain
my eyes ranged over the wide extent of the prairie, in search of the
wigwams of our Indian friends.  For some time I guided myself by the
wind, but that also shifted and fell light, so that I was unable to
steer by it.  I could distinguish the trail of the buffalo, by the tall
grass which they had trampled down; but that did not serve to guide me,
for it seemed to bend in all directions, though I have no doubt it would
have served an Indian perfectly.  I arrived at length at the unpleasant
conclusion, that I had lost myself; still, could I but get a gleam of
sunshine, or see the distant hills, I might, I hoped, ascertain what
direction to take.

Had I not been so severely injured, I should not have cared so much; for
having just before taken a good meal, I could have gone without food
until the following day.  I felt sure that my friends would come to
search for me, but it might be long before I should be discovered, and
the pain I suffered warned me of the importance of getting into camp as
soon as possible.

My rifle was loaded, and I fired it off two or three times, hoping that
the sound might be heard.  I listened eagerly expecting a reply.  A
perfect silence, however, reigned over the vast plain.  At length I
became seriously anxious about my safety.  I was still convinced that I
was riding towards the west, and I pushed on.  From the feeling in my
legs, I fancied they must have swelled to twice their natural size, but
on looking down they appeared as usual.  The pain caused my spirits to
sink, and all sorts of gloomy thoughts passed through my mind.  Again
and again I looked round.  At length I saw in the far distance, an
object moving over the plain, which I at once conjectured was a
horseman, though I could only distinguish the upper part of his body.  I
turned my horse's head towards him, and raised my rifle in the air,
hoping that he might perceive it.  As I got nearer, I saw, by the plume
on his head, that he was an Indian, and I naturally concluded that he
was either Yellow Wolf or one of his braves, or perhaps one of our own
people.  I was somewhat surprised, however, when instead of coming on
directly towards me, he turned to the right, and began to move on at a
gallop over the ground.  I then perceived that his headdress was
different to that of my friends, and that he carried a long shield and
spear, as well as a bow and arrows.  I had just reached a slight knoll,
on which I pulled up that I might the more carefully survey the
stranger.  An attentive look at him convinced me that he was a
Coomanche, one of the same people who had before attacked us, so that I
knew I must treat him as an enemy rather than a friend.  Should I let
him get near me, I felt pretty sure that, if he was a Coomanche, he
would play me some treacherous trick.  I therefore unslung my rifle, and
in a loud voice shouted to him to keep his distance.

He heard me clearly enough, but instead of stopping galloping towards
me, he threw himself on the side of his horse, and, before I could cover
him with my rifle, I saw the head of an arrow projecting over his
saddle.  To avoid it by retreating was impossible, so, bringing my rifle
up to my shoulder, I gave a sudden jerk to my rein, which made my horse
step back a few paces, and the arrow, aimed at my body, flew by in front
of his nose.  I had refrained from firing.  The Coomanche, for such I
concluded that he was, seeing that he was in my power--having shot
another arrow which in his flurry, he was prevented aiming truly--
galloped off to a distance.

I now shouted to him, threatening to kill his horse, and advising him to
take himself off.  He seemed doubtful, apparently, what to do.  He might
have hoped, that, should I execute my threat, he might still bring me
down with an arrow, and by mounting my steed make his escape; but he
must have been well aware there are many chances in warfare, and that I
might shoot him instead of his steed.  He might have guessed, by my not
having fired, that I had my wits about me.  I of course narrowly watched
his movements, and seeing him glance over his shoulder, the idea
occurred to me, that he was expecting others of his tribe to appear, in
which case I should have but little chance of escaping.

At length he decided how to act.  Once more he made at me, shooting a
couple of arrows in rapid succession.  One went through the sleeve of my
coat; another struck the saddle, narrowly missing my legs, but did not
pierce through the leather.

He might have half-a-dozen more arrows in his hand, and it was necessary
to be cautious.  As he circled round, I kept turning so as always to
face him, when he was afraid of riding directly at me, for should he do
so, he would he knew inevitably expose himself, and I should scarcely
fail to miss him.  His object was, I concluded, to keep me employed
until the arrival of his friends.  It would be folly to do as he wished.
As long as I remained on the same spot, I could at any moment take a
steady aim at him.  Though he was aware of this, he trusted to my not
firing, for fear of being unarmed should he charge me.  At length he
came so near, that I resolved not to lose the opportunity of knocking
over his horse.  I aimed just behind the animal's shoulder, and must
have shot it through the heart; for, giving one bound, it fell over
dead.  The active Indian, however, in a moment extricating himself,
leapt to his feet, and came bounding towards me.

In a moment my trusty sword was out of its sheath, when, with a howl of
disappointed rage, the Coomanche, seeing it uplifted to cut him down,
turned tail and ran off as fast as his legs would carry him.  I
immediately reloaded and should, I believe, have shot the Redskin also;
but I had no wish to take the poor wretch's life, though, for my own
safety, I determined to do so, should he again approach me.  At that
moment, the sun coming out from behind a cloud, just above the horizon,
shone on a distant peak, which I had remarked from our camp.  I had now
no doubt as to the direction I should take.  In spite of the agony the
movement caused me, I put my horse into a gallop, leaving my late
antagonist to pursue his way unhindered, and steered my course towards
the north-west, where I hoped before long to discover my friends.  The
sun, however, sunk before I had seen either them or the Indian wigwams.
Still the glow in the western sky guided me long after darkness had
crept over the open prairie.  When that disappeared, I was again at a
loss how to keep a straight course.  Throwing therefore the reins on my
horse's neck, I trusted to his instinct to lead me aright.

I had gone on for two hours in the darkness when, to my joy, I saw a
bright light ahead.  It was that, I had little doubt, of our own camp
fire.  I was not mistaken.  In a short time Dick's cheery voice welcomed
me.  He and my other companions had become anxious at my non-appearance.
I was almost falling from my horse, and could not have dismounted
without assistance.  On telling them of my fight with the Coomanche,
Pierre immediately sent off to tell our Indian friends of my suspicions
that a party of their enemies were in the neighbourhood.



CHAPTER SIX.

Being fully satisfied that the Shianees would prove friendly and
staunch, we agreed to move our camp close to theirs, that we might the
better be able to withstand any attack which the Coomanches might
venture to make upon us.  I managed, with the assistance of my friends,
to mount my horse so as to perform the short journey, though I suffered
a considerable amount of pain.  We found Yellow Wolf and his braves
seated in council, to decide on a plan of operations against the enemy.
He expressed his gratitude for the warning I had given him, and
complimented me on the victory I had obtained over the Coomanche brave.
"Scouts have been sent out," he said, "to ascertain the position of the
enemy, but as yet no information has been received of their
whereabouts."  He suspected that they were very numerous, or they would
not have ventured into that part of the country; but with our assistance
he had no doubt about his being able to repel an attack.  Had his tribe
been alone he would have moved westward to escape from them, as his
object at present was to kill buffalo, and lay in a winter store of
pemmican.

There was little sleep for any of the party that night.  The Indians
were preparing to set out on the war-path, while my companions sat up
not knowing at what moment the Coomanches might burst upon us, and I was
kept awake by the pain my legs continued to cause me.  Yellow Wolf, on
seeing how much I suffered, sent his wife over with a supply of salves
to doctor me.

The night, however, passed away in quietness: and when the scouts
returned in the morning they reported that they had been unable to
discover any traces of an enemy.  We therefore remained in camp, both
for my sake, and Charley's; while all hands were employed in
manufacturing pemmican.  The rest, and the care bestowed upon me by the
Flower of the Prairies, had so beneficial an effect that in the course
of a couple of days I was myself again.

I should have said that the Indians had brought in the meat from the cow
and two bulls I had killed, having discovered them in the direction I
had described.  The flesh of the buffaloes having by this time been cut
up and turned into pemmican, no small portion having been eaten by the
Indians, both they and we were ready to recommence our march.

Just as we were about to start, a scout brought word that he had
discovered a Coomanche trail, but being alone he was afraid to follow it
up.  The chief rated him soundly for his cowardice, and declared his
intention of setting out himself with one of his braves, to learn what
he could from an inspection of the enemy's position, so as to be able as
far as possible to judge of their intended movements.  I volunteered to
accompany him.

"There are few pale-faces from whom I would accept such an offer," he
answered; "but you have shown so much courage and discretion, that I
shall be glad of your company."

I do not mean to say that he used these words, but it was something
equivalent.  I thanked him for the compliment, which I modestly remarked
was scarcely deserved.  Dick and Armitage strongly advised me not to go;
but, having made the offer, I felt I should lose credit with the
Redskins should I draw back.  We were to proceed with three mounted
attendants, who were to take charge of our steeds as we drew near the
enemy's camp, and we were then to go forward on foot.

"We may have to run for our lives should we be discovered," said Yellow
Wolf, as we rode along; "and unless you can depend upon your legs, it
will be wise to remain with the horses."

I replied that my object was to see the way of approaching an enemy's
camp, and to get a sight of it, and that I felt sure I could run as fast
as he could.  We accordingly continued on until we came upon the trail
which the scout had discovered.  Yellow Wolf now proceeded more
cautiously, it being of the greatest importance that the enemy should
not discover us.  At length he announced his belief that we had got near
the Coomanche camp.  We therefore left our horses in charge of the three
Indians, and then continued in the direction we were before going on
foot.  I observed that Yellow Wolf's eye ranged over the ground on
either side, as well as ahead.  As I thought of the distance we had come
since we left our horses, I began to repent somewhat of the task I had
undertaken; however, I trusted to the sagacity of my companion, that we
should not be detected, and that we should be able to retreat as we had
advanced.  Yellow Wolf led, and his brave followed, I bringing up the
rear.  My companions frequently stopped, and, bending their ears to the
ground, listened for any sounds which might warn them they were reaching
the Coomanche camp.  At first they walked upright, but now they bent
down, taking advantage of any cover which offered.

At length they stopped and whispered together, and Yellow Wolf told me
to be more careful than ever.  Then again he and his companion moved on,
until he made a sign to me to keep under cover, while they crept forward
along the top of a bank, covered by bushes of wild roses.  I saw them
eagerly stretching out their necks, so as to obtain a view beyond.  I
crept after them, looking through the bushes, and could distinguish in
the plain below a considerable band of warriors, some engaged in
lighting fires, others in collecting wood, or preparing provisions,
while their horses ranged round near at hand.

It would have been a fine opportunity to take them by surprise, for a
mounted party could have swept down upon them before they had time to
catch their horses.  I have no doubt the Yellow Wolf thought the same
thing, but neither he nor his companion uttered a word.

After satisfying my curiosity, I crept back as cautiously as I had
advanced; and the two Indians, who had surveyed the camp to their
satisfaction, came after me.  We at once commenced a retreat in the same
fashion as we had advanced, being quite as careful to conceal ourselves.
Their great object was to escape detection, so that their enemies might
not be aware that the position of their camp was known, and might
continue as unprepared for the reception of a foe as they appeared to be
at present.

Not until we regained our horses, did the Yellow Wolf speak.  As we
galloped along on our return, he told me that the Coomanches would
remain at their present camp for a couple of days, and would then
proceed to the north-west in the hopes of coming up with the herds of
buffalo which were feeding in that direction.  How he knew this is more
than I can say.  I asked him whether he intended to attack the
Coomanches.

He replied that he must hold a council with his braves, and that if they
agreed to follow him, he proposed doing so the next morning in the hopes
of catching his foes off their guard.  He inquired whether I and my
friends would assist.  I replied that I could not give an answer without
consulting them; that we had come to the country, not to make war on the
Redskins, and that it was our practice to fight only when we were
attacked.  This answer did not appear particularly to please him.  I
said, however, that should he and his people be attacked, we would no
doubt fulfil our promise in assisting them.

"The pale-faces are wise," he remarked, "they fight only when they are
obliged; that is the reason why red man go down and they live."

Great excitement was produced in the camp by the news we brought, and
without loss of time a council was held.  I told my friends what Yellow
Wolf had said, but they decided at once not to assist him in attacking
the Coomanche camp.  "We shall have quite enough to do in making our way
through the country, without joining in quarrels not our own," observed
Armitage.

We waited with come anxiety, therefore, the result of our friends'
deliberations.  At last Yellow Wolf came to our camp and announced that
his braves were unanimous in their resolution of attacking the
Coomanches; that they intended to set out that night so as to surprise
them just before daybreak.  He invited us to accompany them; when Dick,
getting up, made him a speech in true Indian fashion, expressing our
gratitude for the treatment Charley and I had received from the "Flower
of the Prairies," and our affection for him and his; but at the same
time observing that we must decline to cut the throats of a number of
people with whom we had no quarrel.

The chief, who took our refusal very good-humouredly, asked if we would
assist in guarding the camp and the women and children during his
absence.  This request we could not well refuse, and we had therefore to
agree to await his return, Dick telling him that we hoped he would come
back victorious.

This matter settled, he and his braves immediately set out; while we
kept a strict watch on the camp, which we thought it more than probable
might be attacked during the absence of the warriors whose departure
their cunning enemies might have discovered.

Although there were two or three alarms caused by a pack of coyotes
which approached the camp, the morning broke without an enemy having
been seen.  We had still many hours to wait the result of the battle.
It was not until near the evening that a band of horsemen were seen
approaching from the northeast.  They might be friends or they might be
enemies.  We all hastened to our posts, old men and boys seizing their
arms ready to fight if necessary.  As the horsemen drew nearer, the
Indians uttered loud cries of satisfaction, for they were discovered to
be their friends.  Still they came on slowly.  It appeared to me that
their numbers were diminished.  Presently Yellow Wolf dashed forward
bearing a couple of scalps at the end of his spear.  Other braves
followed, several of them having the same gory trophies.  On getting up
close to the camp, they halted to receive the congratulations of their
friends.

The old men and women then began to inquire for the relatives who were
no longer among them.  The same answer was given to all, "He fell
fighting bravely."  On hearing this, loud wails arose from those who had
lost husbands, brothers, and sons.

It was some time before we could learn from Yellow Wolf what had
happened.  He had been entirely successful in surprising the Coomanche
camp, but they had fought desperately and many of his braves fell before
he had succeeded in putting his enemies to flight.  The scalps he had
brought showed the number of slain on the other side.  Another day was
lost, while our savage friends blackened their faces and mourned for the
dead, after which they danced their hideous scalp-dance.  I was thankful
that they had returned without prisoners; for I am certain they would
have put them to death with all sorts of horrible tortures, even though
we might have protested against so barbarous a custom.  They, however,
managed to bring back one of their people desperately wounded, with two
arrows and a bullet through his body.  It seemed surprising that he
could have lived so long.  It was, however, evident to us that he was
dying; but his friends thought that he might be recovered by the efforts
of one of their medicine-men, whose vocation we had not before
discovered.  The patient was laid on the ground half-stripped, while the
tribe sat round in a circle.  Presently, from out of one of the tents,
the most grotesque figure I ever beheld made his appearance.  A huge
wolf-skin cloak covered his back; on his head he wore a mask,
representing the head of a wolf double the ordinary size.  Dried frogs
and fish and snakes hung down from his neck, his whole body being
concealed by skins.  In one hand he carried a spear, ornamented with a
variety of coloured feathers and snakes twisting up it, and in the other
a sort of tambourine, from which also were hung snakes and frog-skins.
He advanced, making a series of jumps and uttering wild yells
accompanied by the rattling of his magic drum until, entering the
circle, he approached his patient.  He then began to dance round him,
striking and rattling his drum, shrieking and shouting; sometimes
leaping over the wounded man, then shaking him from side to side.

I watched the poor sufferer, who endured the fearful pain to which he
was put without a groan, gazing at the hideous figure, the last sight he
was destined to behold on earth; for in a short time his jaw fell, his
eyes became fixed, and he was dead.  Still the conjurer, utterly
unconscious of this, went on with his performance; until at length his
eye falling on the body and perceiving what had occurred, he turned
round and darted into his tent.  The Indians did not appear to be very
much surprised, but I suppose fancied that they had done their best for
their friend, and that their medicine-man had done all that he could do
to save the life of the brave.

As Charley was now sufficiently recovered to move, Armitage proposed
that we should recommence our march, and we prepared accordingly.  Our
new friends, however, were not so easily to be shaken off, and when they
discovered our intentions, they made preparations to accompany us.

I have not described their lodges.  They were of a conical form, the
frame-work of straight long poles about twenty-five feet long.  This was
first erected, when round it were stretched a number of well-dressed
buffalo robes, sewn tightly together and perfectly water-proof.  The
point where the ends of the poles protruded was left open to allow the
smoke to escape.  On one side was the entrance closed by a door, also of
buffalo hide.  The fire was made in the centre, immediately under the
aperture.  In cold weather the Indians slept on buffalo rugs, with their
feet towards the fire, and these rugs were rolled up during the day and
placed at the back of the lodge.

The women had all the work of putting up the lodges.  We watched the
poor creatures taking them down again, rolling up the skins, and placing
them on bars near the lower ends of the poles, which trailed on the
ground, the upper ends being secured half on each side of the horses.
The young squaws and children were mounted on the horses, while the
older had to toil along on foot often with loads on their backs.
Besides horses, our friends had a number of dogs which were employed in
drawing loads on small sledges, and very hard work they must have found
it in summer.  They had also other dogs of a smaller species which were
reserved for food when buffalo meat was not to be obtained.

For three days we travelled on in their company, when the scouts brought
word that a large herd of buffaloes were feeding a few leagues off to
the southwest.  Our friends immediately encamped and prepared to set off
in chase, trusting that the Coomanches, after the signal defeat they had
received, would not attack them.  We should have been glad of an excuse
for separating from our friends; but as we wished to see more of their
mode of hunting the buffalo, we agreed to accompany them.  Charley, I
was glad to see, was as well able to sit his horse as before, and he
declared that he was ready to undergo any amount of fatigue.  According
to our custom, we kept as much together as possible; but we endeavoured
not to show that we doubted the honest intentions of the Indians.

Occasionally the Yellow Wolf, getting off his horse, put his ear to the
ground to listen, as he said "for the feet of the buffalo."

At length, quickly mounting, he exclaimed that he heard them and that we
should soon come in sight of the herd.  We therefore pushed rapidly
forward; and, reaching the top of a slight rising, we saw a large number
of black dots scattered over the plain.  To the right, on one side of
where the buffalo were feeding, was a smaller elevation to that on which
we were posted.  Guided by the chief we made towards it.  On reaching
the further or western side, the chief advised that we should dismount,
saying that he wished to attack the buffalo in a way often adopted by
his people before charging in among them on horseback.  We of course
agreed, anxious to see the method he spoke of.

The Indians had brought with them several wolfskins with the heads and
tails.  Creeping up the hill, over the brow of which we looked to watch
what was going forward, we saw them put the skins on their backs, and
take their bows and a quantity of arrows in their hands, so that at a
distance they much resembled wolves.  On they went, whenever shelter
could be obtained, running rapidly forward, but as they got on the open
plain again bending down and creeping on all fours.  Whenever they saw
the shaggy beasts looking at them, they stopped and seemed to be engaged
with something on the ground, as if they had no intention of approaching
the herd.  When the buffaloes went on feeding they again advanced.

Were the buffaloes sharp-sighted animals they might have discovered
their foes; but their hair covering their eyes prevents them from seeing
clearly.  The hunters got closer and closer.

Having selected the fattest animal in sight, presently one, rising for a
moment, let fly his arrow, which entered the breast of a buffalo near
him.  The animal, after running for a few paces, dropped without
disturbing the rest, who seemed to fancy that their companion had merely
lain down on the ground.  Each of the other Indians did the same, and,
without taking any notice of the beasts they had killed, continued their
course, shooting arrow after arrow, until upwards of a dozen buffaloes
had bit the ground.

It is only, however, when the bison are quietly feeding that they can be
approached in this way.  When they are on the move, they keep their eyes
about them, and a man on foot can with difficulty get near.  The
disguised hunters would probably have killed many more, but that for
some reason or other the herd began to move on.  The moment the chief
observed this he called to us and the others to come forward; and away
we dashed after the herd, which, alarmed at the sound of the horses'
hoofs, rushed on, every instant increasing their speed.  As before all
was silence and quiet, now the air was rent with a confusion of sounds--
the tramp of the bisons and the pursuing horses, the shouts and cries of
the hunters as they dashed forward in chase.

We let them take the lead for some time, to see their mode of
proceeding.  We remarked especially the force and precision with which,
while going at full gallop, they let fly their arrows, always aiming
behind the shoulders of the shaggy beasts.  They took good care never to
head them, while they kept at a sufficient distance to have room to
avoid the fierce charges the terror-stricken bisons occasionally made.

After they had shot a considerable number, we who had hitherto kept in
the rear gave our horses the rein and were soon up with the herd.

Armitage and Story were in their glory, and upheld the honour of the
white man by each shooting three buffaloes, while Dick and I killed two.
I saw Charley shoot down one in very good style, and then pursue
another which he had made up his mind to overtake.  I was on the point
of following him, when my horse stumbled in a hole and threw me over its
head.  I quickly recovered my feet and was about to remount, my steed
appearing none the worse for its fall, when I saw a huge buffalo dashing
up with the intention of tossing me into the air.  I had barely time to
spring into my saddle and to get a few paces off, when the buffalo's
horns pierced the ground at the very spot where I had been standing.
Disappointed at not finding me, he looked about and again lowered his
head to charge.  Flight was my only resource; so off I galloped, hoping
to get to such a distance from the brute as would allow me time to
reload and again to face him.  I succeeded better than I expected; and
at length, wheeling round my horse who stood stock-still, I fired and
brought the buffalo to the ground.  In the meantime the rest of the herd
galloped off followed by the hunters, who were now a long distance away,
so far indeed as to make it impossible for me to overtake them.  Well
satisfied with my performance, I cut out the tongue of the last animal I
had killed and directed my course back to the camp, stopping on my way
to extract the tongues of the two other bisons I had killed.  I was soon
overtaken by Dick, who had also turned back.  He said that the rest of
our party had gone on with the Indians, in pursuit of the herd.

He regretted that Charley had not returned with us, as he would be
overcome with fatigue by so long a ride.  We employed ourselves in
lighting a fire and getting supper ready for our friends.  At last
Armitage and Story came in, but Charley did not make his appearance.

"He'll return soon," said Dick.  "Let me consider, when did I see him
last?  I cannot quite recollect, but I remember that he was following a
buffalo; and I had no doubt that he shot the brute, and fully expected
to see him here."

We waited, but we waited in vain.  At last we applied to our Indian
friends, but they were revelling in buffalo meat, and were not disposed
to set out in search of Charley; promising, however, to go in the
morning should the young pale-face not have returned by that time.

I am afraid to say how much buffalo meat the savages consumed before
daybreak, for they sat up nearly all night eating, and had their enemies
pounced down upon them they would have made but a poor defence, I
suspect.

When morning came they excused themselves from going in search of
Charley, saying that they must bring in the buffalo meat they had
killed.

We therefore had to set off alone, not a little disgusted at their
behaviour.  We bade them, however, a friendly farewell, saying that the
life of one of our party was more precious to us than all the buffalo
meat in the world.  We however took with us the tongues and other
portions of the animals we had killed, so that we had abundance of
provisions which would last us until we could obtain venison or fall in
with another herd of buffalo.

Though we made diligent search, with the assistance of old Folkard and
the Indians engaged by Armitage, we failed to discover Charley's trail;
and we felt more out of spirits when we encamped that evening than we
had done during the whole of our expedition.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

Several days were spent in a vain search for Charley.  Armitage and


Story said they feared that he must either have been killed by a
buffalo, and his body devoured by wolves; or that he had been carried
away by some small party of Indians who had been watching us, and had
captured him, though afraid to attack our camp.

Both Dick and I, however, could not bring ourselves to believe that he
was dead.  We were glad to find that old Folkard was of our opinion.  He
had known men, he said, who had wandered away from camp and been absent
several weeks before they were found or managed to make their way back
themselves.  Charley had a good supply of ammunition, and being a fair
shot, would be able to procure food.  We begged Armitage and Dick to
remain in the locality some time longer.  This they consented to do.  We
were now in the neighbourhood of the Rocky Mountains, where they might
obtain a variety of sport, so that they had no cause to complain of
their detention.  My thoughts, as well as Dick's, were entirely occupied
by Charley, and we could take no interest in hunting.  We, however, did
our duty in trying to supply the camp with game.

The chief part of our time was taken up in scouring the country in the
hopes of discovering our young friend, or ascertaining the cause of his
death.

At length the old trapper bade us farewell, saying that he should strike
away north, to a district where beavers abounded, for he could no longer
spend his time in comparative idleness.  We were sorry to lose him, for
he was a capital companion, especially round the camp fire, when he
indulged us in his quaint way with his numberless adventures and
hair-breadth escapes, sufficient to make the hair of my old uncle, the
Alderman, stand out from his head.

Day after day went by.  When we met Pierre and the Indians who had
assisted us in the search, the same reply alone was forthcoming.

"You see, it is hopeless," said Jack to Dick Buntin.  "Your young friend
must have lost his life.  I am very sorry, but we must be moving
westward.  It won't do to detain Armitage longer.  He is very
good-natured, but from what he said to me yesterday, he will be starting
away without us.  He requires action.  He is not happy, I suspect, from
something which took place between him and Ellen Hargrave, so that we
must decide what to do."

Dick pleaded hard for another day, still persisting in his belief that
we should find Charley.  Our Indian friends had promised should they
discover any traces of him to send us word, but nothing had been heard
from them.

Dick and I had made a longer expedition than usual, and returned so
tired, that the next morning we were utterly unable to set out.  A day's
rest would, however, we thought, restore our strength.  Towards the
evening, while the remainder of the party were still away, Dick walked
to a shady spot some distance from the camp, taking a large buffalo robe
to lie upon, with a book, his pipe and gun.

One of the Indians who had remained with us, had meantime made up a
fire.  I saw at length by my watch, that it was time to prepare for
supper, and as Dick still acted as cook, I sent the Indian to summon
him.  The man had not gone long, when I heard him shout.  Fearing that
something was the matter, I hurried forward, when what was my dismay to
see a huge grizzly standing on its hind legs, as if about to make its
last fatal spring, close to Dick, who had no weapon in his hand with
which to defend himself.  I had brought my gun, but dared not fire for
fear of killing my friend instead of the bear.  Dick, however, seemed in
no way dismayed, and as I got a little nearer, I saw that he held a
large buffalo robe in both his hands.  The Indian and I shouted in the
hopes of distracting Bruin's attention.  Our cries were responded to by
Armitage and Story, who at that moment providentially made their
appearance.  Still none of us dared to fire, though we approached nearer
and nearer, hoping that the bear would postpone his spring until we
could get near enough to shoot him through the head without injuring our
friend.  Presently the bear growling savagely, indicative of his
intention to seize his victim, began to advance; when Dick, who had
never for a moment withdrawn his eyes from the monster, in an instant
threw the cloak over its head.  He then springing back, ran off as hard
as his legs could carry him, his example being imitated by the Indians.
The bear in its struggles drew the cloak close over its eyes, when I
fired and over it rolled with its legs in the air.  Still it was not
dead, and might at any moment be up again; and, more savage than ever
from its wound, would be certain to attack us fiercely.

Armitage and Story, making their way through the brushwood, had now got
near enough to fire.  They pulled their triggers at the same moment,
while I quickly reloaded.  It was fortunate that I did so, for
notwithstanding its wounds, the bear, suddenly regaining its feet, made
a dash at me who was nearest to it, and in another instant I should have
been torn by its tremendous claws, when I fired and to my infinite
satisfaction it again rolled over and, giving another convulsive
struggle, lay dead.

Dick thanked us for our timely assistance, and promised that he would
never as long as he lived go to sleep away from the camp in a region
infested by grizzlies.

This was the first we had seen for some time, and the adventure was a
caution to us to look out for them in future.  With great reluctance on
the part of Dick and me, we once more packed up and moved westward;
still we did not abandon all hope that we should find our young friend.
I, however, had lost the interest I had before felt in hunting, and
would rather have gone back and contented myself with less exciting
sport in one of the eastern states.  As things turned out, it would have
been better for all of us had we done so.

We made a good show as we rode over the prairie, with our baggage mules,
our led horses, mounted Indians, our Canadian guide and our four selves;
so that no ordinary band of Redskins was likely to attack our party,
unless they could take us by surprise, and against that it was our
constant care effectually to guard by keeping a bright look-out during
the day, and a careful watch over the camp at night.  Our Indians knew
very well that they would be the first victims should we be attacked.

We were sure, in the neighbourhood of the Rocky Mountains which we had
now reached, to fall in with big-horns, elks and antelopes, as well as
buffalo in the lower ground.  We accordingly encamped in a beautiful
spot with the lofty mountains rising above us, while below extended the
prairie far away to the horizon.  I must not stop to describe our
various adventures.  Dick continued indifferent to sport, but
occasionally went out with me; while Armitage and Story shot together,
and never returned without a big-horn or two, or an elk.  One day they
appeared leading or rather dragging along what looked like a mass of
shaggy fur of a tawny colour.  As they approached, I saw that their
captive was a young bear, with its head thoroughly covered up with the
skin of another animal of the same description.  They were laughing
heartily, and every now and then springing forward to avoid the rushes
made at them by the little creature.  On finding all its efforts vain,
it at length stopped, and refused to move.  They told me that they had
shot the mother and then one of her cubs; that the other refusing to
leave the body of its parent, they had time to take off the skin from
the cub they had killed and had adroitly thrown it over the head of its
brother, and that having a coil of rope they had managed to secure it.
We hoped to tame our captive, but the moment the skin was taken off its
head, darting at Jack, it gave him a severe bite in the leg, and nearly
treated Armitage in the same manner, but fortunately he had a thick
stick with which he gave the little brute so severe a blow on the nose,
that it lay down, as we thought, in the sulks.  We managed to tether it
in a way effectually to prevent its escape, but the next morning we
found, to our disappointment, that it was dead.  The skins of the two
animals were beautiful, their fur being very thick and long, and of a
brown colour, with a stripe of darker hue along the back.

Next day our friends having again set out, I was endeavouring to
persuade Dick to accompany me in another direction, when one of the
Indians brought word that a herd of buffalo were feeding in the plain
below.  I should have said that the country was beautiful in the
extreme, with thick woods of cedar and rhododendron covering it in all
directions.  The forests were, however, easily traversed, as paths were
made through them by the buffalo and elk, who following each other's
footsteps, had opened up bridle roads to all points of the compass.
Feeling ashamed of not adding something to our store of provisions, when
Dick declined accompanying me on the plea of not being up to work, I
mounted my horse, and set off alone, hoping to shoot a buffalo before
going far.  I soon came in sight of a couple of herds, one of cows and
another of bulls.  Most of the former were followed by calves and were
out of condition, but seeing some fat animals among them, I made chase.
When the cows began to run they were joined by the bulls, and the whole
set off together, scampering along at a tremendous rate.  I kept the fat
cows in sight, however, as away they went.  Lightly built and more
active than the bulls, they took the lead.  At length I was getting up
with one of the former which I had singled out, when a big bull, blown
by his unusual exercise, halted just between me and the cow, and
lowering his head prepared to charge, when his horns would in an instant
have ripped open the breast of my noble steed.  As I saw it about to
charge, a thought occurred to me.  Holding my gun in my left hand, and
giving my horse the rein, I bestowed a tremendous cut with my heavy
riding-whip on his flanks, which made him spring to a height sufficient
to have cleared a five-barred gate; and when the bull rushed forward,
over its back he went, clearing it in the most beautiful style, his
hinder feet just grazing its shaggy hair.  The next moment, instead of
being rolled over on the ground, I found myself (though without my hat)
safe on the other side; while the bull, not knowing what had become of
me, dashed forward bellowing loudly in an opposite direction.  A few
more strides brought me close to the cow, when standing up in my
stirrups I fired, and the animal instantly rolled over dead.  I at once
reloaded, and made chase after another, which I was also fortunate
enough to kill.  The rest of the herd made their escape.  Satisfied with
the result of my hunt, I dismounted and took possession of the tongues
and marrow-bones, as well as some portions of the meat, intending to
send the Indians back for the remainder, should the carcases have
escaped the scent of the wolves.  The buffalo meat was highly
appreciated; indeed we lived like fighting cocks, and had every reason
to expect to do so while we remained in that region.  Pierre, however,
advised that we should proceed, as some bands of hostile Indians were
sure, before long, to find out that we were in the neighbourhood, and
would take an opportunity of cutting us off when separated from each
other should they not venture to attack our camp.  Armitage and Jack
were, however, inclined to laugh at Pierre's warnings.  Jack too, who
found his leg suffering from the bite that the little bear had given
him, was disinclined to take a long journey.  Dick, who had warned him
from the first not to neglect the wound, took him under his care and
insisted on his remaining quietly in camp for two or three days until he
was well again.  We employed the time in cleaning our arms, repairing
our harness and clothes, and performing several other tasks such as the
wear and tear of a hunter's life from time to time renders necessary.
We had long discussions in camp as to what course we should pursue,
Pierre advising that we should strike northward, and then take one of
the passes through the Rocky Mountains generally followed by the
emigrants to California.

Several days had passed away.  Story was quite recovered, and we were
once more encamped, not much to Pierre's satisfaction, he declaring that
we were still in a dangerous region, frequently visited by Apaches and
other roving tribes, the deadly enemies of the pale-faces.  Armitage and


Story only laughed at his warnings, and even Dick felt much inclined to
agree with them.

We had, as before, proceeded in three parties, one of the Indians having
accompanied Armitage, and Jack and three others going with Pierre, while
the rest remained with Dick and me in camp.  Evening was approaching,
and none of our friends had returned.  Dick had sent out one of the
Indians to see if they were coming, while he and I prepared the supper.
In a short time the scout returned with a long face.  He had caught
sight, he said, of a large party of strange Redskins; who, not knowing
that they were discovered, were making their way in the direction of our
camp, evidently endeavouring to keep themselves concealed.  He advised
that we should gallop off on our horses, and leave our baggage and the
other animals to their fate, as it would be impossible to defend the
camp against so overwhelming a force.  To this neither Dick nor I was
inclined to agree, though of course it made us anxious for the arrival
of our friends, when we hoped, by showing a bold front, to drive back
the enemy.

We at once brought in our horses and mules, and tethered them in the
rear of the camp; then calling on our Indians to assist us, we felled a
couple of trees, which we placed so as to form a barricade in front.  It
would afford us but a slight protection, but it was better than nothing.

We now looked out with more anxiety than ever for our friends, for they
certainly ought to have returned to the camp some time before this.  It
was important not to be surprised, and knowing the stealthy way in which
the savages were likely to approach, we were aware that any moment we
might hear their fearful war-whoops, and find ourselves engaged in a
desperate struggle for life.  To prevent this, Dick proposed sending out
the Indians to scout and ascertain the exact position of the enemy.
They went more willingly than I should have supposed; but I remembered
not being very well satisfied with the expression of their countenances.
Dick and I were thus left alone in camp.  To save ourselves from being
shot down without warning, we took up our position behind the logs, with
the spare rifles by our sides.  Here we sat, expecting every moment the
return of our Indians.  We waited in vain.  Darkness was coming on.  Our
position was indeed critical.  If the savages, as reported by the scout,
were in the neighbourhood, at any moment they might be down upon us.  We
now began to fear that our Indians had fallen into their hands.
Perhaps, also, such might have been the fate of our friends.  We had
been sitting thus for an hour or more, and had become very hungry, when
Dick proposed going to the fire to obtain some venison which had lone
been roasting there.  He brought it, and I need not say that it was
devoured with considerable satisfaction.  "Another piece won't do us any
harm," I observed, as I made my way towards the fire.  I was returning,
when what was my dismay to see half-a-dozen dark forms leap over the
barricade and place themselves between Dick and me.  I sprang towards
our rifles, one of which Dick was in the act of grasping, to have a
fight for life, when a savage knocking it out of his hand three others
sprang upon him.  The remainder throwing themselves upon me, we were in
an instant prisoners.  I fully expected the next moment to have my scalp
taken off my head, and it was some satisfaction to find that it was
allowed to remain on.

"I hope the other fellows have escaped," said Dick; "we might, by giving
a shout, warn them of their danger; and if Pierre joins them, they might
manage to get hold of some of the horses."

As he spoke, he shouted at the top of his voice, and I joined him,
crying out--

"Keep away from the camp!"

No reply came.  The Indians, instead of trying to stop us, only laughed;
and, from the voices we heard around, we knew there must be many more of
them.

Having bound our arms behind us, our captors sat themselves down to
examine and consume the food we had provided for the rest of the party,
and then proceeded to inspect the contents of our packs.  While they
were thus employed, a shout was raised, and shortly after another, when
several Indians appeared, dragging Armitage and Jack along with them.

Still Pierre was at liberty; and we hoped that he might escape and give
notice of our fate, or form some plan for our liberation.  Great,
therefore, was our disappointment when he too, shortly afterwards, was
brought into camp.  What had become of our Indians we could not tell.
They had, we concluded, however, either been captured or deserted us.

Our captors, after a long consultation, carried us all a short distance
from the camp to a clump of trees, to the trunks of which they bound us
in a way which made it impossible to move either our arms or legs, when,
having thus tied us up, they returned to our camp to examine and divide
the spoil.

"We are in a bad case, I am afraid," said Armitage; "the savages have
proved themselves more cunning than I had supposed, for they were upon
Jack and me before we had time to lift our rifles to our shoulders."

"We might try to bribe them to let us off," I observed.

"Very little chance of their doing that; they'll help themselves to
everything we possess, and won't trust to our promises," said Jack.

"They have the ugly custom of torturing prisoners before they kill
them," said Dick.  "I'm very glad Charley escaped our fate, poor fellow
provided he hasn't met with a worse one."

I made no remark, though I was thinking all the time of various plans.
I was anxious to hear what Pierre would say.

"Better tell them we English pale-faces," he observed at last; "dey kill
us if dey like; but if dey do, our great Queen hunt up every man jack of
dem, and hang dem."

I was very much inclined to agree with Pierre that our best chance of
escaping was to make the savages understand that we belonged to the
palefaces over the frontier, of whom they might possibly have heard, and
that our Sovereign always punished those who injured her subjects.

The savages, however, at present, gave us no opportunity of addressing
them; but we could see them unpacking our valises, pulling to pieces out
well-made-up packs, overhauling our cooking utensils, apparently
appropriating various articles, not, however, without a considerable
amount of talking and gesticulation.  They then put on our buffalo meat
and venison to cook, and began laughing and jeering at us as they ate
it.  At length they discovered several packages which had before escaped
their notice, having been hidden in the grass.  Among them was a case
containing brandy; but as we kept it locked, it was some time before
they managed to break it open with their axes.  On finding that it
contained bottles, they raised a shout of joy; and one being forthwith
opened by knocking off the neck, the savage who had performed the
operation poured some of the contents down his throat.  Uttering a howl
of satisfaction, he was about to take a second draught, when another
seized it, and it was rapidly passed on, until it was empty.  Another
and another bottle was treated in the same way, although the chief of
the party appeared to be urging his followers to take no more for the
present; but to this they evidently did not agree; and while his back
was turned, two more bottles were abstracted.  On seeing this, he seized
one of them, and poured no small part of the contents down his own
throat, apparently fearing that his companions would drink it up and
leave him none.  The result which was to be expected followed; but they
had swallowed the liquor too rapidly to render them immediately
helpless, though it excited their fiercest passions; and to our horror,
getting on their legs, they drew their tomahawks and approached us with
the evident intention of taking our lives.  Before, however, they had
made many steps towards us, they sank to the ground; while others--with
the bump of appropriativeness--took possession of all the goods within
their reach.  This was seen by the more sanguinarily disposed of the
party, who turned their rage towards their companions, and, rushing on
them, attempted to retake the articles they considered theirs.  A
fearful scuffle ensued: some, it appeared to us, were struck dead, or
desperately wounded; but in the uncertain light afforded by the fire we
could not exactly see what had happened.  We could only make out that
the whole party were quickly stretched on the ground, the victors and
the vanquished lying side by side, including the chief, who appeared to
be as helpless as the rest.

At length their shouts and groans were silenced.  Not a sound reached
our ears.  Now was our opportunity; but in vain we endeavoured to break
loose from our bonds.  The savages had fastened them too securely to
enable us to liberate ourselves.  Dick made desperate efforts to reach
with his mouth the rope which secured his arms.

"If I could but once get my teeth to it, I would soon bite it through,"
he exclaimed.

But again and again he tried to no purpose.  We all followed his
example, with the same result.  In the morning, the savages would too
probably recover, and revenge themselves on our heads for the death of
their companions whom they themselves had killed.  Hour after hour went
by, and each brought us nearer to the moment that we must expect a
fearful death.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

We and the savage Redskins were both utterly helpless; they from being
overcome by liquor, we from having our arms firmly bound to the trees.
All the efforts we had made to liberate ourselves had only tended to
draw more tightly the thongs; while we were left to contemplate the
dreadful fate to which we were doomed as soon as the savages had
recovered from the fumes of the spirits they had swallowed.  All sorts
of horrible ideas passed through my mind.  Should a pack of wolves come
to the camp, they might, helpless as we were, tear us to pieces, as well
as the unconscious Indians.  It would be a worse fate than any the
savages might inflict upon us.  Scarcely had the idea entered my brain,
than the well-known howls and yelps of the animals I dreaded reached my
ears.  Louder and louder they grew.  They were approaching the camp.  In
a few minutes they would be upon us.  It was no fancy of my brain, for
my companions heard them also.  Darkness prevented us from seeing each
other's countenances; but I could distinguish Dick, who was nearest me,
again making efforts to free himself, and he could not help crying out
in desperation when he found himself foiled as before.  The wolves were
close upon us, when presently we heard the tramp of a horse's feet, and
one of our own animals, which either Armitage or Jack had been riding,
and from whose back the Indians had neglected to remove the saddle
dashed by, closely pursued by a pack of large wolves, who intent on the
chase did not regard us.  I saw the head of an Indian lifted up for a
moment, awakened to partial consciousness by the yelping of the wolves
and the tramp of the horse; but perhaps the savage fancied he was
dreaming, for the next moment his head again sank to the ground.  We
were preserved for the moment, but what would happen should the wolves
succeed in pulling down and devouring the horse?  They would, to a
certainty, return and attack us, as we had feared; or, even if they did
not, the Indians would be recovering from their debauch.  I could only
hope that they had not consumed all the liquor, and that the first to
awaken would take another pull at the bottles.  In spite of our fearful
position, a drowsiness began to steal over me, produced perhaps by
exhaustion.  I even now do not like to think of those dreadful hours,
when my mind dwelt on the various tortures the savages were wont to
inflict on their helpless prisoners.  I fully expected that arrows would
be shot at my limbs while all vital parts were avoided; to have my flesh
burnt with hot irons; to be scalped; to suffer the most lingering and
painful of deaths.  In vain I tried to banish such thoughts, and to
encourage the stupor stealing over me.  At length I had almost
succeeded, though I was not really asleep, when I heard a voice whisper
in my ear, "Do not move or speak when you find the thongs cut."

The next instant I was free.  The darkness prevented me seeing clearly
what was happening to my companions, but I could distinguish a figure
stealing along the ground, and appearing behind each of them.

"Now friends! you have your choice, either to cut the throats of the
Redskins as they lie, or to catch the horses and put a wide space
between them and yourselves before daybreak," said a voice which I
recognised as that of old Folkard--"don't trust those villains, they may
not be as fast asleep as you fancy.  If they hear you moving they may be
on their feet again before you have had time to pass your knives across
their throats."

"Savages as they are, I would not for one moment dream of killing them,
whatever they intended to do to us," said Jack.

Armitage and Story agreed with him, as did I.  We therefore at once
resolved to steal off as soon as we had recovered our rifles, the only
weapons of which we had been deprived; and though they were close to
where our captors were sleeping, they might easily be reached.  Our plan
was then to try and get hold of our horses, and when they were secured
we might recover the remainder of our property and deprive the Indians
of their arms.  We should thus teach them a lesson of mercy; for when
they recovered their senses they could not fail to see how completely
they had been in our power, and that we might have put the whole of them
to death had we been so disposed.

The old trapper volunteered to manage the most dangerous part of the
undertaking, that of recovering our rifles.  Telling us to remain where
we were, apparently still bound to the trees, he crept forward on hands
and knees, disappearing in the surrounding gloom.  Not a sound did we
hear until he came back, carrying in either hand a rifle, which he
placed at our feet.  He then made a second trip, which was as successful
as the first; but the Indians' spears and several of our spare rifles
had still to be obtained.  He went very cautiously to work, for he was
evidently not at all confident that one of the Indians might not awake.
I would gladly have assisted him, had he not urged us to remain quiet.
I felt greatly relieved when he at length returned with the last rifles.

"But we want our saddles!" whispered Dick.

I told Folkard where to find them.

"You shall have them," he answered, and again set off.  I much feared
that he might be discovered, as he would have to go into the camp
itself, and the slightest sound might awaken our enemies.

We waited and waited: again I felt a strong inclination to steal forward
and assist him.  Just as I was about to do so, he reappeared bringing
two saddles and bridles.

Still it was of consequence, if we could manage it, to possess ourselves
of the Indians' bows and spears.  I again offered to accompany the
trapper.  He thought a moment.

"It may be done," he said, "if you step cautiously, for they are more
soundly asleep than I had supposed; but, if any of them should awake,
you must be prepared to knock them on the head--our own safety will
demand it."

I agreed to this, hoping that the contingency might not arrive.  We set
out and soon reached the camp.  So sound asleep did they appear, that I
believe even had we trodden on them, they could not have been aroused.
They lay where they had fallen in their drunken fits, in every variety
of attitude.  We each possessed ourselves of two tomahawks for our
defence, and all the bows we could find; and, carrying them under our
arms, returned to our companions.  Folkard immediately cut the strings
and broke off the ends of the bows.  We had thus far been more
successful than we had anticipated.

We now, having recovered our weapons and two saddles,--for the Indians
had left the others on the backs of the horses,--glided behind the trees
to which we had been bound, and stole off, cautiously following the
footsteps of old Folkard, who led the way.

"I left my horse down in the hollow yonder," said the trapper; "we will
get him first, and then I'll try and help catch yours; they are not far
off I suspect.  It will be daylight soon, and we have no time to lose."

Several more minutes were spent before we reached the spot where old
Folkard's horse was securely tethered.  He having mounted, we set out in
search of our own steeds.

"It is just possible that the Indians may have left one of their number
to watch their horses as well as ours, and if so, it will be necessary
to either capture or kill the man," said Dick.

Unwilling as we were to put to death any of our savage enemies, even in
our own defence, we saw the necessity of doing as Dick proposed.

Greatly to our satisfaction, as we approached a glade, the whinny of a
horse was heard, and Armitage's favourite steed came trotting up to him.
We immediately put on its saddle and bridle.  Pierre's and mine were
still wanting.  His had probably been torn to pieces by the wolves, but
we still had a chance of getting mine.  I was almost in despair, when to
my joy it came up, and I was quickly on its back.  Pierre was very
unhappy at delaying us.

At length old Folkard observed--

"Jump up behind me, we'll soon catch a horse for you; the Indians had a
lot of animals with them, and we'll take one of theirs if we can't find
yours."

By this time morning had dawned, and we had no longer any fear of
encountering our enemies.  We rode on to where old Folkard told us he
expected to find the horses.

Surmounting a slight elevation, we soon caught sight of a score of
animals, evidently those of the Indians.  To catch them was no easy
matter, for just at the moment we appeared they seemed to be seized by a
sudden panic, and began prancing and rearing in the strangest fashion.
We dashed forward, and, as they saw us coming, off they started across
the prairie at a rate which would have rendered pursuit utterly
hopeless.

We had now to settle what course to pursue.  Should we return to the
camp and take possession of our property, or put as many miles as we
could between ourselves and the Indians?

On calculating, however, the quantity of liquor among our stores, we
arrived at the conclusion that there was enough to keep the Indians
drunk for another day or two, and that we should probably find them as
helpless as before.  We accordingly kept our rifles ready for instant
service, and rode towards our camp.  On our way we found our mules,
which according to their usual custom had not mixed with the horses.
Pierre mounted one of them, and led the rest.  The loud snores and
perfect silence around where the Indians lay showed us that they had not
recovered from their debauch.  While two of our party stood guard, ready
to deal with any who might come to their senses, the rest of us loaded
the mules with our goods, including two remaining bottles of spirits.

Folkard proposed leaving these to prevent the enemy from pursuing us.
"There is no fear of their doing that, for they have neither horses nor
arms," observed Dick.  "They may consider themselves fortunate in
escaping with their lives."  We could scarcely help laughing at the
thought of their astonishment when, on coming to themselves, they should
find how completely the tables had been turned: we hoped they would duly
appreciate the mercy shown to them.  We now rode off, thankful for the
happy termination of our adventure.

We found that the old trapper had been very successful and wished to
turn his steps eastward.

"I should be glad of your company, friends," he said, "in the first
place; and in the second I don't think it would be safe for you to
remain in this region, as the rest of the tribe may consider themselves
insulted, and, ungrateful for the mercy shown their people, may
endeavour to cut you off.  When the Redskins have made up their minds to
do a thing, they'll do it if they can, however long they may have to
wait."

We all agreed that, although not frightened by the Indians, we had had
enough of fighting and hunting for the present.  We accordingly made up
our minds to accompany old Folkard.  We felt that, in gratitude to him
for having preserved our lives, we were bound to do as he wished.

Having reached the spot where he had left his mules with his traps and
peltries, we turned our horses' heads eastward.  As we rode along he
told us that he had come upon our trail, and that soon afterwards he had
fallen in with one which he knew must be made by an Indian war-party,
and feeling sure that they intended us mischief he had followed them up.
He had scarcely expected, however, to find us still alive; but having
stolen up to the camp, he saw the state to which our liquor had
fortunately reduced our captors, and had at once formed the plan for
liberating us so happily carried out.  One of Dick's first questions was
about Charley.  The old trapper replied that he had failed to hear of
him; but he still held out hopes that our friend might have escaped, and
that some well-disposed Indians might have spared his life, and taken
care of him, hoping to induce him to join their tribe, according to a by
no means unusual custom among them.

This idea somewhat cheered up the worthy lieutenant's spirits, and made
him unwilling to return eastward; still, as he could not remain by
himself, he agreed to accompany us.  The journey appeared very long.
For the first few days we pushed forward to get beyond the reach of the
Indians, in case they should fall in with any of their tribe and venture
to pursue us.  After this we were compelled, for the sake of our horses,
to make more easy stages.  We had also to halt for the purpose of
providing ourselves with meat; but as we shot only for the pot, that
caused us no great delay.

At last we reached Saint Louis, where we spent several months enjoying
the hospitality of numerous friends to whom we had letters of
introduction.  For a time we were looked upon as heroes on a small scale
by society; but probably the hunters and trappers who frequent that city
would have considered our adventures as every-day occurrences and
scarcely worth talking about.

Old Folkard, having disposed of his peltries, and obtained new traps and
a fresh outfit, started westward in the course of a fortnight, declaring
that he could not breathe among the bricks and mortar.  He promised that
he would not fail to look out for Charley, for whose recovery, however,
even Dick, by this time, had begun to despair.  We were beginning to get
a little tired of civilised ways and to sigh for the wild life of the
prairie, when Armitage received a letter calling him to New York to meet
an agent.

"I should like to continue the expedition I began with you," he said,
"and I shall esteem it a favour if you will wait for my return; I shall
not be longer than I can help."

His request, made in so courteous a way, was not to be refused.  We all
consented to stop.  Week after week went by, and Armitage was still
delayed; but as we had remained so long, we agreed to wait until he
returned, though our stay was double the length we intended.  We were
employed in adding to our outfit such articles as, from our experience,
we considered useful.  At length Armitage rejoined us, and we were once
more _en route_.  From the way his Indians had behaved when it came to a
pinch, he had resolved to take no more.  Besides Pierre, who was
accompanied by another Canadian, we had a Yankee trapper yclept "Long
Sam," who, according to his own showing, was likely to prove of far more
value than half-a-dozen Indians.  He was ready for anything--to hunt on
horseback, to shoot on foot, or to trap beavers.  We had been travelling
on some time when Armitage began to talk of Tillydrone, and suggested
that, as it was not far out of our way, it would be but courteous to pay
a visit there and inquire after the family who had treated us so
hospitably.  He said not a word, however, about Miss Hargrave, nor from
the tone of his voice would anyone have suspected that he was thinking
of her.

When Long Sam heard us mention the place, he exclaimed--

"Why, that's wha'r Praeger used to live, and it was burnt with mighty
near the whole of the property when the forest caught fire last fall,
though he and his family escaped.  I heard say that they were going to
move westward, and they must be on their journey by this time, I guess."

Armitage questioned and cross-questioned his informant, and seemed
perfectly satisfied with his statement.  After this he expressed no
further wish to visit Tillydrone.

We had been travelling on for more than a month, when we once more found
ourselves among the wild and grand scenery in the neighbourhood of the
Rocky Mountains.  We encamped not far from a spot we had before
occupied, where we knew an abundance of game was to be found.  This time
we had determined that nothing should turn us back until the western
coast was reached.  We were now enabled to detect the trails of animals
as well as of men, an art indeed in which Pierre and Sam were equal to
the Indians themselves.  As we had camped pretty early, we started in
different directions, hoping to bring in a good supply of meat, of which
our consumption was considerable, Long Sam declaring when really hungry,
that he could eat half a buffalo at a sitting--I wonder he didn't say a
whole one.  We had espied some big-horns on the rocky heights in the
distance, and were making our way towards them, when Sam exclaimed--

"A white man has passed this way, though those are the marks of
moccasins, but no Indian treads in that fashion."

I agreed with him, and soon afterwards we came upon a pool out of which
a stream ran to the eastward.  Sam was not long before he ferreted out
several beaver-traps, and, examining one of them, pronounced it of the
best make, and belonging to a white trapper.  Of course we allowed it to
remain unchanged.  We thought of old Folkard, but scarcely expected to
fall in with him again.  We were making our way through a wood, along a
ridge with a valley below us, when, looking through a gap in the trees,
I caught sight of two persons, the one seated, supporting the head of
another, who was stretched on the ground on his knees.  Though I was too
far off to distinguish their features, I saw by the dress of one that he
was a trapper, but could not make out the other.  On coming nearer,
however, I recognised old Folkard; but who was the other?  His cheeks
were hollow, his countenance haggard, and, though sunburnt, showed none
of the hue of health.  A second glance, however, convinced me that he
was Charley Fielding.  The old hunter was engaged in giving him some
food, treating him as he would a helpless child.  They both recognised
me, and Charley's eye brightened as he stretched out his hand to welcome
me while I knelt by his side.

"Where have you been?  How did you come here?"  I asked eagerly.

"Don't trouble him with questions," said the old trapper; "he'll answer
you better when he's had some broth.  I found him not long since pretty
well at his last gasp.  I guess he has got away from some Redskins.  I
always said he was carried off by them.  If I am right they are not
likely to be far away.  We must be on the look-out not to be caught by
them."

Charley, though unable to speak, showed by the expression of his
countenance that the old trapper had truly conjectured what had
happened.

We naturally, forgetting all about the big-horns, thought only of how we
could best convey Charley to the camp.  As we had come over some
excessively rough ground, it would be no easy matter to get him there.

"Then go back to your friends, and get them to move camp up here," said
the trapper; "by keeping along the lower ground, they can be here
quickly, and it's a more secure spot, I guess, than where they are."

I asked Long Sam, who now came up, to go back with a message to our
friends, as I was unwilling to leave Charley.  This he agreed to do, and
Folkard was glad to have me remain.  The food quickly revived Charley,
when Folkard went off to fetch some water from a neighbouring spring.
We then together carried him to the trapper's camp, which was not many
paces off, though so securely hidden that even an Indian's eye could
scarcely have detected it.

This done, I looked out anxiously for the arrival of our friends.  The
shades of evening were already extending far away over the lower ground.

"They'll surely come!"  I said to myself.  Presently I caught sight of
our party, and shouted to them to come on.

Poor Dick burst into tears when he saw Charley, partly from joy at
having found him, and partly from pity at his condition.

It was some time before Charley could speak.  The first use he made of
his returning strength, was to tell us that he had been captured by
Indians, and kept a prisoner ever since,--exactly as old Folkard had
supposed; that he was not as badly treated as he expected, but so
strictly watched, that in spite of all the attempts he had made, he
could not effect his escape until two days before, when he found that a
war-party was about to set off to attack an emigrant train coming
westward, of which they had just gained tidings.  While the braves were
performing their war-dance to the admiration of the squaws, he had
managed to slip out of camp unperceived, his intention being to warn the
white men of their danger.  The train had been encamped some days, and
it was not known how soon they would move forward.  He had hoped
therefore to be in time, as the Indians would not venture to attack them
while they remained stationary.

On hearing this we were all eager to set out to the rescue of the white
people.  Armitage especially was unusually excited, but to move at that
time of night, with our horses already tired, the country also being of
a somewhat rough description, was scarcely possible.  Old Folkard, as
well as Pierre and Long Sam, was of opinion that we should gain time by
waiting, as we might otherwise lose our way, or lame our animals over
the rocky tract we should have to pass.  We arranged therefore to wait
for daylight, and it was settled that the Canadian should remain with
the old trapper to assist him in taking care of Charley, and looking
after our baggage mules and spare horses.  The greater part of the night
was spent in cleaning our rifles and pistols, as we expected to have use
for them should we find that the emigrant train had moved on, and that
the Indians had kept up their intention of attacking it.  We breakfasted
before dawn so that we might ride if necessary several hours without
food, and might be some distance on our way before the first streaks of
the coming day should appear in the sky.

Pierre and Long Sam, after a consultation, undertook to guide us, so
that we might fall in with the usual track followed by emigrants, a
short distance only to the northward of the place where we were
encamped.  We felt somewhat anxious about leaving Charley in his present
state, with so slender a guard.

"Do not trouble yourselves about that," observed the old trapper.  "I'll
keep a good look-out, and no Redskins are likely to come this way."

As we rode on and daylight increased, we looked out eagerly for any
smoke which might indicate a camp fire, but not the slightest wreath
dimmed the clear sky.  Pierre and Long Sam both agreed that we were not
far from the high road, and that we must soon come upon the track of the
train if it had passed.  Not a quarter-of-an-hour after this, we saw--
not a fire burning--but the remains of several, and all the signs of a
train having halted on the spot.  We hastily rode over the ground, when
Armitage, suddenly leaping from his horse, picked up a small object
which he intently examined.  It was a lady's glove, such as the usual
travellers by emigrant trains are not wont to wear.  He placed it in his
pocket.

"On, friends, on!" he cried; "if Charley's information is correct we
have not a moment to lose.  Already the work of plunder and murder may
have begun."

We needed no further incitement to make us urge on our steeds.  Armitage
and Long Sam, who were the best mounted of our party, leading, the
latter being our guide.  The country was wooded so that we could not see
far ahead.  Suddenly our guide turned to the left.

"We will take a short cut for the waggons.  The road makes a bend here,"
he observed.  "Maybe we shall find ourselves in front of the train.  No
Redskins will venture to attack it when they see us."

No sounds had hitherto reached our ears, but presently a shot was heard
from a short distance off, then another and another.

"On, on!" cried Armitage, and in a few minutes, through an opening in
the forest, we caught sight of a large band of Indians rapidly
descending the hill, while nearer to us there came the leading waggon of
an emigrant train, the drivers of which were endeavouring to turn back
their cattle as probably those following were attempting to do.

From the shrieks and cries which arose, it seemed too likely that the
Redskins had already attacked the travellers, and we knew well what
quick work they would make of it should they have gained any advantage;
so, digging spurs into our horses' flanks, we passed round the head of
the train, and uttering a loud cheer as we did so to encourage the
emigrants, we rode full tilt at the savages.



CHAPTER NINE.

As we rode round the head of the train, we saw to our sorrow that the
Redskins had already fought their way to two of the centre waggons, the
white men belonging to which were engaged in a fierce fight with them.
Armitage took an anxious glance at the occupants of the leading waggon.

"Who commands this train?" he asked eagerly of one of the drivers.

The man, owing to the war-whoops of the savages, the shrieks of the
women, and the shouts of his companion, did not perhaps hear the
question, and there was no time to repeat it as we swooped by.  Already
it appeared to us that the work of murder had commenced.  Two or three
of the people lay on the ground, and while part of the Indians were
fighting, some were engaged in attempting to drag off the female
occupants of the waggon.  To prevent them succeeding in their desperate
attempt was our first object.  Leaving the Indians we had intended to
charge, we turned our horses and dashed forward towards the point where
our services were most required.  The savages saw us coming, and most of
them leaving the waggon, some leapt on their horses, while others
attempted to defend themselves on foot.  Firing a volley from our rifles
which brought several to the ground, we rushed at our foes.  Just then I
saw, to my horror, an Indian, who by his dress appeared to be a chief,
dragging off a female, a fair girl she seemed, whom he lifted on his
horse.  In vain she struggled to free herself.  He was mounted on a
powerful animal which he evidently had under perfect command.  Shouting
to his followers he galloped off, while they stood their ground boldly.
We dashed at them pistoling some and cutting down others; but not until
half their number lay dead on the ground or desperately wounded did they
attempt to escape; by which time the main body were almost up to us.
Leaving the first to be dealt with by the emigrants who had rallied, we
reloaded our rifles and charged the larger party of the enemy.  They
received us with a shower of arrows, by which, wonderful as it seemed,
none of us were wounded.  The odds, however, were fearfully against us;
for the Indians fought bravely, and rapidly wheeling their horses
attacked us now in front, now on our flanks, and we had to turn every
instant to defend ourselves.  Several of their number had been shot.
Dick and Armitage were wounded, and Pierre's horse was killed.  It was
with the greatest difficulty that we defended him until he managed to
make his escape towards the waggons.  I shouted to him to send some of
the men to our assistance.  We in the meantime having fired our rifles
and pistols had our swords alone to depend upon.  They served us well,
and the Indians, as we approached, evidently showed their dread of them
by endeavouring to get out of their reach as we flashed them round our
heads.  Still, numbers might prevail, unless we could speedily compel
the Indians to take to flight.

In the meantime, what had become of the female I had seen carried off!
I could not tell whether Armitage or the rest had witnessed the
occurrence; but, whether or not, it would be impossible to attempt her
rescue until we had defeated our present opponents.  If we could have
retreated even to a short distance to reload our firearms, we would have
done so, but our agile foes gave us no time.  I scarcely even dared to
look round to ascertain if any help was coming; probably the emigrants
had enough to do in keeping in check other parties of Indians who were
threatening them.  The fight had not continued many minutes, though it
seemed to me as many hours, when an Indian charged at Armitage with a
long spear, the weapon pierced his side, and over rolled horse and man.
Another savage was coming on to repeat the blow, when Long Sam, dashing
up, cut down the first savage, and then engaged the second.  Our friend,
notwithstanding, would speedily have been killed, had we not rallied
round him and kept the enemy at bay; while, although evidently much
hurt, he managed to regain his feet.

Now deprived of two of our number, and having to defend Armitage as well
as ourselves, we were nearly overpowered.  At any moment another of us
might be wounded.  The Indians, seeing their advantage, retreated to a
short distance, in order to make another fierce charge, the result of
which would very probably have been our overthrow, when we heard a loud
shout raised in our rear, and presently, with a wild war-cry of "Erin go
bragh," a strange figure dashed by us, mounted on a powerful horse, with
a target on one arm, and a broadsword flashing in his right hand.
Several arrows were shot at him, but he caught them on his target, and
dashed on unharmed.  The first Indian he attacked bit the dust; another
made at him, the head of whose spear he lopped off with a single blow,
and he then clove his opponent from the crown of the head to the neck.
On seeing this, the Indians, crying out to each other, turned their
horses' heads and attempted to escape.

Their flight was expedited by several of the emigrants who, brought up
by Pierre, fired a volley at them as they retreated.  On looking at the
old warrior who had come so opportunely to our aid, what was my surprise
to recognise Ben Folkard.

The diversion thus made in our favour, had enabled the emigrants to form
their waggons into a square, so as to be able to repel any further
attacks of the Indians, who showed no disposition however to come on.
Our first care was to commit Armitage--the most severely wounded of our
party--to the charge of Pierre and the emigrants who had accompanied
him.  Lifting him up between them, they carried him to the waggons.

"I'm main sure that Mr Praeger will be grateful to the gentlemen," I
heard one of the men say.

As the man uttered the name, the thought flashed across me, "Could it
have been one of his daughters, or Miss Hargrave, I had seen carried
off?  Poor Armitage, how fearful would be his feelings should he find
that his Ellen had disappeared.  As soon as I could, I turned to the old
trapper and anxiously inquired what had become of Charley."

"I left him in safe keeping," he answered, "but, finding from a
companion of mine who rejoined me after you had gone that the Indians
were about to attack the train in greater force than I had at first
supposed, I resolved to come to your assistance."

"You did well," observed Dick, who came up while he was speaking.  "Had
it not been for your arrival, I suspect that one and all of us would
have gone down, for those rascals pressed us hard."

We had been proceeding towards a height which commanded a view in the
direction our late opponents were supposed to have taken, and we were
thankful to see them moving off, forming a more numerous body than we
had at first supposed.  We accounted for this by concluding that, while
one portion of the savages attacked the train, the others had remained
concealed to act as a reserve should the first not succeed.  What had
become of the female I had seen carried off, we could not ascertain.  We
could nowhere distinguish her, but she might easily have been concealed
from our sight if she were among the leading Indians.

Our party, however, was too small to pursue the fugitives, with any
chance of recovering her.  On reaching the camp formed by the train, we
at once repaired to Mr Praeger's waggon.  We found him and his family
almost overcome with grief and anxiety.  Two of his sons were severely
wounded, and Miss Hargrave had disappeared.  My worst fears were
realised.  She must have been the person I had seen carried off by the
Indian chief.

No one was certain as to the direction her captor had taken, for his
followers immediately surrounded him, and they had retreated together.
Three men of the emigrant party had been killed, and half a dozen more
or less wounded.  They were full of gratitude to us for coming to their
assistance; for they acknowledged, surprised as they had been, that
every one of them might have been massacred had we not attacked the
savages.  We on our part had to thank the trapper for his assistance.
When, however, we looked round for him, he had disappeared, and some of
the people said they had seen him galloping back in the direction from
which he had come.  We guessed therefore that he had returned to take
care of our friend Charley.  Poor Armitage had been placed in one of the
waggons, and a surgeon who had accompanied the train was attending to
his wounds.  He had not been told of what had happened to Miss Hargrave.

We had now to consider what was next to be done.  Of course we all
agreed that the first thing was to endeavour to recover the young lady.
The leaders of the train, in consequence of having so many wounded among
them, resolved to remain encamped where they were, as the neighbourhood
afforded wood and water, with abundance of game, and they felt pretty
confident that the Indians would not again venture to attack them.
Pierre and Long Sam at once volunteered to visit old Folkard's camp, and
to assist in bringing on Charley, should he, as we hoped would be the
case, be in a fit state to be moved.  They also promised to consult the
trapper, as his experience would be of value in forming a plan for the
recovery of the young lady: that she had been killed, we none of us
could bring ourselves to believe.

All hands were now employed in strengthening the camp,--Dick, Story, and
I, assisted our friends, working as hard as any one.  We were of use
also in attending to poor Armitage.  I was afraid every moment that he
would inquire for Miss Hargrave, for he would naturally wonder that she
had not appeared.

As may be supposed, we kept a very strict watch at night, while all the
men lay down with their arms by their sides under the waggons, with the
cattle placed in the centre of the square; but no Indians, we believed,
came near us.

As the morning advanced, I looked out eagerly for the arrival of
Charley.  We were anxious to place him under the protection of our
friends, and until Pierre and Long Sam came, we could take no steps for
the recovery of Miss Hargrave.  We talked the subject over with Mr
Praeger, who was naturally too much agitated to be able with sufficient
calmness to design any feasible plan of operation.

At length, greatly to our relief, soon after mid-day Pierre and Long Sam
appeared with two other men, carrying Charley on a litter; while old
Folkard and another trapper followed, leading the horses and laden
mules.  Charley was much revived, and declared that he could have walked
had his companions allowed him; but when he came to be placed on his
feet, it was very evident that he could not have proceeded many yards by
himself.

No time was lost in holding a council round the camp fire, while the new
arrivals ate the dinner provided for them.  Old Folkard advised that we
should in the first place examine the neighbourhood of the camp, in
order to try and discover the trail of Miss Hargrave's captor, for Long
Sam was of opinion that, though he might have been accompanied by a few
of his braves, he had not gone off with the larger body of Redskins.
Charley, who listened attentively to all that was said, agreed with Long
Sam; and, as he had been so long amongst the tribe, his opinion was of
value.  He was certain that it was only a chief who was likely to have
committed such an act, probably the younger brother of the head chief;
who, Charley said, had frequently talked to him of the beauty of the
pale faced women, and of his intention of obtaining one of them for his
wife.  This had always greatly angered his elder brother, who had
declared, should he bring a pale-face to their lodges, that he should be
turned out of the tribe, and that she should be put to death.  Charley
was certain, therefore, that Black Eagle--so the chief was called--would
not return to his people; and that, should we be able to discover his
trail, we should find him protected with only a small band, with whom it
would not be difficult to deal.

The first thing was to discover the trail, and Folkard, Long Sam, and
Pierre set out for the purpose.  We, in the meantime, were engaged in
organising the pursuing party, if so I may call it.  Dick, though
wounded, made light of the matter, and insisted on going.  Folkard had
offered to take all his people.  Besides Story and I, we had Pierre, and
Long Sam, the Canadian, and two other men; making altogether a
well-armed party of twelve, mostly experienced hunters and backwoodsmen,
accustomed all their lives to encounters with the red men.

Long Sam, who in his wanderings in South America had learned the use of
the lasso, never went on an expedition without carrying a long coil of
rope at his saddle bow; which he used, not only for catching horses, but
for stopping the career of a wounded buffalo or deer; and he had, he
asserted, made captives at different times of several Indians by whom he
had been attacked, when they, approaching within the radius of his long
line, were surprised to find themselves jerked to the ground and dragged
along at a rate which rendered all resistance useless.

It was late in the evening when the three trappers returned.  They had
discovered a trail made by a small party, though they had been unable to
decide whether it was that which had carried off the lady, until Long
Sam, observing an object glittering on the ground, had, on picking it
up, found it to be a golden locket, such as was not likely to have
belonged to an Indian.  On showing it to Mr Praeger and his family,
they at once recognised it as having been worn by Miss Hargrave, thus
leaving us in no doubt on the subject.

It was too late that night to follow up the trail, though every moment
was precious.  We had to wait therefore, until about three hours before
dawn; when, mounting our steeds, we rode forward under the guidance of
old Folkard, expecting at daybreak to reach the spot where the locket
had been found.  We agreed to breakfast there, and then to follow up the
trail as soon as there was sufficient light to see it.

We carried out our plan, and the rising sun saw us pushing eagerly
forward, the trail being sufficiently marked to enable the practical
eyes of our guides to detect it.

To our surprise, instead of keeping to the right, as both old Folkard
and Long Sam expected, it turned suddenly to the left, in the direction
the main body had taken.

"There's a reason for this," observed Folkard, after we had ridden some
way.  "See, there was a message sent by the head chief to Black Eagle.
Look, there is the trail of his horse, but whether the young chief
joined the main body we shall know by and by."

This information was a great disappointment, as it would render our
enterprise far more difficult, for we should now have the whole tribe to
deal with instead of a small party as we expected.

We were not to be deterred, however, and rode forward as rapidly as the
necessary examination of the trail would allow.  At last we had to halt
and rest our horses, but we refrained from lighting a fire and ate our
provisions cold.

As soon as possible we again pushed forward, but darkness coming on we
had again to camp.  Of course we did not light a fire, lest, should our
enemies be in the neighbourhood, they might discover us.

Our faithful attendants kept watch, insisting that Story and I should
lie down and take the rest we so greatly needed.

Next morning, instead of riding on together, Long Sam undertook to scout
in advance, that we might not come suddenly upon the enemy, who it was
believed could not be far ahead.  We were passing round a wood when
presently we heard a shout, and directly afterwards caught sight of Long
Sam galloping towards us followed by an Indian--evidently a chief, from
his war plumes and gaily bedecked shield,--but as we got nearer we saw
that a rope was round the Indian's body, and that he was attempting to
free himself from it.  He was on the point of drawing his knife when, by
a sudden jerk, Long Sam brought him to the ground.

Folkard and Pierre, throwing themselves from their horses, rushed
forward to seize him before he had regained his feet.  Pierre, with his
knife in his hand, was about to plunge it into the heart of the Indian;
but I shouted out to him to desist, and Long Sam drawing tight the
lasso, the next instant dragged the Indian clear of his frightened
steed, which galloped off leaving him utterly helpless.  Springing upon
him, we then secured his arms by some leathern thongs, and removed the
lasso from round his body.

"He is Black Eagle, no doubt about that," cried old Folkard.  "What have
you done with the lady you carried off?" he added in the Indian tongue.

The prisoner refused to reply.

"If the chief will tell us what we want to know, he shall live; but, if
not, he must be prepared to die," said Long Sam.

An expression of irresolution passed over the Indian's countenance.

"I would that I could tell the pale-faces where she is to be found, but
she has been taken from me; though, if they will restore me to liberty,
I will endeavour to find her," he said at length.

"If the chief speaks the truth, he will find the palefaces willing to
grant him any favour he may ask," said Long Sam; then, turning to us, he
added, "We must not trust the rascal.  Though decked with fine feathers
he has a cowardly heart, I suspect.  We'll keep him bound and take him
with us.  If he plays us false, knock him on the head without scruple;
that's my advice.  We must not let his horse escape, however; wait here
while I catch the animal."

Saying this, Long Sam threw himself into the saddle, and taking his
lasso which he had again coiled up, started off in the direction the
Indian's horse had taken.  In a shorter time than I had expected, he
returned leading the animal by the lasso which he had thrown over its
neck, and whenever it became restive, a sudden jerk quickly brought it
again under subjection.

"Of course, it won't do to put the Redskin on his own horse, or he may
be giving us the slip.  He shall have mine," said Long Sam, "and old
`Knotty' will stick by us, even if Mr Black Eagle should try and gallop
off."

We now, by means of the three hunters, endeavoured to obtain all the
information we could from our captive.

He acknowledged that he had carried off the palefaced girl, and that he
intended to make her his bride; but that he had been inveigled into the
camp of his people, when she had been taken from him; and that, when he
complained, he had been turned away to seek his own fortunes.

As we had no reason to doubt his word we asked him to guide us to
wherever his people were now encamped, making him promise to warn us as
we drew near the spot so that we might not be taken by surprise.  We
kept a bright look out on Black Eagle, Long Sam hinting gently that,
should he show any treachery, he would be immediately shot through the
head.  The warning was not lost upon our friend.  We rode on and on,
until the sun sinking in the west showed us that we must again camp.

Black Eagle informed us that we should probably not reach his people
until late on the following day.  We had therefore to restrain our
anxiety, and trust to his assurances that there were no Indians in the
neighbourhood.  We lighted a fire to cook a deer which Long Sam had shot
just before we reached the camp.

We were seated round the fire enjoying our suppers, the first
satisfactory meal we had taken since we started, when the well-known cry
of a pack of wolves reached our ears.  From the yelps and barks which
they continued to utter in full chorus, we knew that they were in chase
of some unfortunate animal which they hoped to drag to the ground.

The sounds grew nearer and nearer, but as the spot where we were
encamped was surrounded with rocks and trees we could not see to any
distance.  At last Dick jumped up, saying he must have a look at the
wolves and the animal they were chasing.  Story and I quickly followed.

"They are not worth powder and shot," observed Long Sam, but
notwithstanding he came after us, as did indeed the whole party.

Just then the moon rose behind the cliffs, shedding a bright light over
the rocky ground which surrounded the spot.  From where we stood, we
could see an animal, apparently a horse, dashing on at full speed with a
savage pack of llovo wolves close at its heels.  The next instant, as it
came bounding on over the rocks, what was our horror to observe a female
form lashed to its back.

To stop it in its mad career seemed impossible.  The only hope was to
shoot some of the wolves, and thus give a better chance for the escape
of the horse.  As I fired, I heard several other shots, and saw that
most of the brutes, already at the horse's heels, were rolled over.
Still the condition of the female was perilous in the extreme.  Unless
we could catch our own horses, and overtake the affrighted steed, her
destruction appeared inevitable.  Scarcely had this thought flashed
across my mind, when I saw Long Sam, who had thrown himself on
horseback, galloping along with his lasso to intercept the runaway.

I ran as I had never run before, regardless of the wolves, in the same
direction.  As I passed by I saw that the pack had stopped and were
already engaged in tearing to pieces the brutes we had shot.  In an
instant afterwards, it seemed, I observed Long Sam's lasso cast with
unerring aim over the neck of the frantic steed, which plunged and
reared, but happily did not fall over.  In another moment Sam had drawn
the lasso so tightly round its neck that it was unable to move.

We sprang forward, cut the thongs which bound the female to the animal's
back, and lifting her to the ground, carried her out of danger.  She
still breathed, though apparently perfectly unconscious.  The light of
the moon showed us the features of Ellen Hargrave.

We did not stop to see what Long Sam did with the captured horse, but at
once carried the young lady to the camp, when, by sprinkling her face
with water and bathing her hands, she in a short time was restored to
consciousness.

Her first impulse was to return thanks to heaven for her preservation.
Looking up he recognised Dick and me.

"Where is Harry?  Where is Mr Armitage?" she asked, evidently
concluding that he must be of our party.

Dick replied that he was safe in the camp with her friends; that we had
beaten the savages who had attacked them, and, finding that she had been
carried off, had come in search of her.  Though we did not inquire how
she had been treated in the Indian camp, she without hesitation told us
that Black Eagle had been compelled to release her by his superior
chief; when, having been kept in a wigwam by herself for some hours, she
had been bound to a horse, which being led away from the camp had been
driven out into the wilds.  She was fully prepared, she said, for a
lingering death, but still she prayed that she might be preserved.  All
hope however had gone when she heard in the distance the howls of the
wolves, and the horse sprang forward on its mad career over the rocky
ground.  "The rest you know," she added.  "I would thankfully forget
those fearful moments."

I must make a long story short.  Miss Hargrave appeared much recovered
after a night's rest in the hut we built for her, and the next morning
we formed a litter on which we carried her a day's journey; but on the
following morning she insisted on mounting one of the horses, and, a
side-saddle being prepared, she performed the rest of the distance to
camp with out apparent suffering.

I need not say that she was received by her relatives as one returned
from the dead, while they expressed their gratitude to us by every means
in their power.  Armitage, they stated, had been in a very precarious
state, but he revived on seeing Miss Hargrave, and quickly regained his
strength.  We allowed the Black Eagle to go free with his horse and
arms, he promising, in return for the merciful treatment he had
received, that he would in future be the friend of the pale-faces.  The
wounded men having now recovered sufficiently to travel, camp was
struck, and the train continued its course westward.

We, of course, felt ourselves in honour bound to escort our friends on
their way; and, although we at first talked of leaving them as soon as
all fear of an attack from the Indians had passed, we continued on from
day to day.

Before the journey was over, it was generally known that Armitage was to
marry Miss Hargrave, while Dick and Story, though supposed to be
confirmed bachelors, lost their hearts to the two youngest Miss
Praegers; and a very pleasant wedding it was which took place soon after
our arrival at Mr Praeger's new location.  We frequently afterwards met
in old England, where my friends took their wives, and many a long yarn
was spun about our adventures in the wild regions of the "Far West."

THE END.





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