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´╗┐Title: Afar in the Forest
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 "Afar in the Forest" ***

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



Afar in the Forest, by W.H.G. Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

This is not a long book, but is very much in the Kingston style, that
is, the style he employs when writing about land-based adventures, as
opposed to sea-based ones.

It is quite difficult to follow who is who in this story, and why they
are doing what they do. I suggest that you use a pen and paper to jot
down people's names as and when they make their appearance.

But there are some surprises regarding who is related to whom, a device
which Kingston uses quite often.

________________________________________________________________________

AFAR IN THE FOREST, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

OUR HABITATION IN THE FOREST--MY SHARE OF THE SPOILS OF THE DAY'S
CHASE--UNCLE MARK COMMENCES HIS NARRATIVE--WHY MY UNCLES DECIDED TO
EMIGRATE--LANDING IN SAFETY, THEY START UP COUNTRY--THEIR MEETING WITH
SIMON YEARSLEY, AN OLD SETTLER--THE SETTLEMENT IS FOUND IN RUINS--LILY
AND I RESCUED--UNCLE MARK PROMISES TO RESUME HIS NARRATIVE ON THE FIRST
OPPORTUNITY--MY LOVE OF NATURAL HISTORY--UNCLE MARK CONTINUES HIS
NARRATIVE--YEARSLEY GOES IN PURSUIT OF THE INDIANS--THE BURIAL OF LILY'S
MOTHER--THE RETURN TO THE WAGGON--THEY REACH THE NEAREST SETTLEMENT--
ALARM OF THE SETTLERS UPON HEARING OF THE OUTRAGE COMMITTED BY THE
INDIANS--UNCLE STEPHEN'S MARRIAGE--CONCLUSION OF UNCLE MARK'S
NARRATIVE--LILY AND I GO BERRYING--WE ARE ATTACKED BY A WOLF--KEPENAU
SAVES OUR LIVES--HIS PRESENT OF VENISON TO AUNT HANNAH--KEPENAU'S BELIEF
IN THE GOODNESS OF THE GREAT SPIRIT--THE INDIAN'S ADVICE.

"Is Lily not Uncle Stephen's daughter, then?"  I asked.

The question was put to my uncle, Mark Tregellis, whom I found seated in
front of our hut as I returned one evening from a hunting excursion--it
having been my duty that day to go out in search of game for our larder.
Uncle Mark had just come in from his day's work, which had been that of
felling the tall trees surrounding our habitation.  He and I together
had cleared an acre and a half since we came to our new location.

It was a wild region in which we had fixed ourselves.  Dark forests were
on every side of us.  To the north and the east was the great chain of
lakes which extend a third of the way across North America.  Numberless
mountain-ranges rose in the distance, with intervening heights,--some
rugged and precipitous, others clothed to their summits with vegetation.
Numerous rivers and streams ran through the country; one of which, on
whose banks we purposed building our future abode, passed close to our
hut.  Besides the features I have described, there were waterfalls and
rapids, deep valleys and narrow gorges penetrating amid the hills; while
to the south-west could be seen, from the higher ground near us, the
wide prairie, extending away far beyond human ken.  Wild indeed it was,
for not a single habitation of white men was to be found to the
westward; and on the other side, beyond the newly-formed settlement in
which Uncle Stephen resided, but few cottages or huts of the hardy
pioneers of civilisation,--and these scattered only here and there,--
existed for a hundred miles or more.

Uncle Mark, having lighted the fire and put the pot on to boil, had
thrown himself down on the ground in front of the hut, with his back to
the wall, and was busy contemplating the dark pines which towered up
before him, and calculating how long it would take, with his sharp axe,
to fell them.

I had brought home a haunch of venison as my share of the spoils of the
chase (in which I had joined Uncle Stephen); and it was in consequence
of a remark made by him while we were out hunting, that I had somewhat
eagerly asked at Uncle Mark the question with which this story opens.

"No; Lily is not Stephen's daughter,--nor even related to him," he
answered.  "But we will cut some steaks off that haunch and broil them;
and while we are discussing our supper, I will tell you all about the
matter."

The slices of venison, and flour-cakes baked on the fire, were soon
ready; and seated at the door of our hut, with a fire burning before us
to keep off the mosquitoes, we commenced our repast, when I reminded my
uncle of his promise.

"It is a good many years ago, but even now it is painful to think of
those days," he began.  "We came from Cornwall, in the `old country,'
where your Uncle Stephen, your mother, and I were born.  She had married
your father, Michael Penrose, however, and had emigrated to America,
when we were mere boys; and we were just out of our apprenticeship
(Stephen as a blacksmith and I as a carpenter) when we received a letter
from your father and mother inviting us to join them in America, and
setting forth the advantages to be obtained in the new country.  We were
not long in making up our minds to accept the invitation; and in the
spring of the next year we crossed the sea, with well nigh three hundred
other emigrants,--some going out to relatives and friends, others bent
on seeking their fortunes, trusting alone to their own strong arms and
determined will for success.

"We found, on landing, that we had a journey of some hundred miles
before us; part of which could be performed in boats up the rivers, but
the greater portion was along `corduroy' roads, through dark forests,
and over mountains and plains.  Our brother-in-law, a bold, determined
person, had turned backwoodsman, and, uniting himself with a party of
hardy fellows of similar tastes, had pushed on in advance of the old
settlers, far to the westward, in spite of the difficulties of obtaining
stores and provisions, and the dangers they knew they must encounter
from hostile Indians whose territories they were invading.  We did not,
however, think much of these things, and liked the idea of being ahead,
as it seemed to us, of others.  The forest was before us.  We were to
win our way through it, and establish a home for ourselves and our
families.

"We had been travelling on for a couple of weeks or so, following the
directions your father had given us in order to find his new location,
but greatly in doubt as to whether we were going right, when we were
fortunate enough to fall in with a settler who knew him, and who was
returning with a waggon and team.  He readily undertook to be our guide,
glad to have our assistance in making way through the forest.  We
provided ourselves with crowbars to lift the waggon out of the ruts and
holes and up the steep ascents; for we had left the `corduroy' roads--
or, indeed, any road at all--far behind.  Our new acquaintance seemed to
be somewhat out of spirits about the prospects of the new settlement;
but, notwithstanding, he had determined to chance it with the rest.  The
Indians, he said, had lately been troublesome, and some of them who had
been found prowling about, evidently bent on mischief, had been shot.
`We have won the ground, and we must keep it against all odds,' he
observed.

"Everything in the country was then new to us.  I remember feeling
almost awe-struck with the stillness which reigned in the forest.  Not a
leaf or bough was in motion; nor was a sound heard, except when now and
then our ears caught the soughing of the wind among the lofty heads of
the pine-trees, the tapping of the woodpeckers on the decaying trunks,
or the whistling cry of the little chitmonk as it ran from bough to
bough.

"I had expected to meet with bears, wolves, raccoons, lynxes, and other
animals, and was surprised at encountering so few living creatures.
`They are here, notwithstanding,' observed our friend; `you will get
your eyes sharpened to find them in time.  In the course of a year or
two you _may_ become expert backwoodsmen.  You can't expect to drop into
the life all at once.'  By attending to the advice our friend gave us,
and keeping our senses wide awake, we gained some knowledge even during
that journey.

"We were now approaching the settlement--Weatherford, it was called.  It
was a long way to the eastward of where we are now, with numerous towns
and villages in the neighbourhood.  The waggon had gained the last
height, from the top of which, our guide told us, we should be able to
catch sight of the settlement.  We had been working away with our
crowbars, helping on the wheels,--our friend being ahead of the team,--
and had just reached level ground, when we heard him utter a cry of
dismay.  Rushing forward, we found him pointing, with distended eyes,
into the plain beyond us, from which could be seen, near the bank of a
river, thick volumes of smoke ascending, while bright names kept
flickering up from below.

"`The settlement has been surprised by Indians!' he exclaimed, as soon
as he could find words to speak.  `I know the bloodthirsty nature of the
savages.  They don't do things by halves, or allow a single human being
to escape, if they can help it.  Lads, you will stick by me; though we
can do nothing, I fear, but be revenged on the Redskins.  I left my wife
and children down there, and I know that I shall never see them alive
again.'

"He spoke quite calmly, like a man who had made up his mind for the
worst.

"`We cannot leave the waggon here, or the Indians will see it,--if they
have not done so already,--and know that we are following them.  We will
take it down to yonder hollow, and leave it and the oxen.  There is
pasture enough for them, and they will not stray far.  Then we will
follow up the Indians' trail; and maybe some of their braves won't get
back to boast of their victory, if you will only do as I tell you.'

"Of course, we at once agreed to accompany Simon Yearsley--such was our
friend's name--and follow his directions.  Quickly turning the waggon
round, we got it down to the spot he had indicated, where the oxen were
unyoked, and left to crop the grass by the side of a stream flowing from
the hill above.  Then taking our rifles, with a supply of ammunition,
and some food in our wallets, we again set off, Yearsley leading the
way.

"We next descended the hill, concealing ourselves as much as possible
among the rocks and shrubs until we gained the plain.  Although Simon
moved at a rapid rate, there was nothing frantic in his gestures.  He
had made up his mind, should he find his loved ones destroyed, to follow
the murderers with deadly vengeance, utterly regardless of the
consequences to himself.  As none of the intervening country had been
cleared except a straight road through the forest, where the trees had
been felled, and the stumps grubbed up here and there to allow of a
waggon passing between the remainder, we were able to conceal ourselves
until we got close to the settlement.

"We now saw that, though the greater number were in flames, two or three
huts on one side remained uninjured.  Still, not a sound reached us,--
neither the cries of the inhabitants nor the shouts of the savages.
Nothing was heard save the sharp crackling of the flames.

"`The Indians have retreated, and the settlers are following.  We shall
be in time to join them!' exclaimed Yearsley, dashing forward.  `But we
must first search for any who have survived.'  His previous calmness
disappeared as he spoke, and he rushed, through the burning huts,
towards one of the buildings.

"Stephen and I were about to follow, when we heard a cry proceeding from
one of the huts at hand, which, though the doorway was charred and the
burning embers lay around it, had as yet escaped destruction.  Hurrying
in, I stumbled over the corpse of a man.  His rifle lay on the ground,
while his hand grasped an axe, the blade covered with gore.  I gazed on
his face, and recognised, after a moment's scrutiny, my own
brother-in-law.  He had fallen while defending his hearth and home.
Close to him lay a young boy, who, I guessed, was his eldest child, shot
through the head.

"My poor sister! where could she be?

"Again a cry reached my ear.  It came from an inner room.  It was
Martha, your mother, who had uttered the cry.  She was stretched on the
ground, holding you in her arms.  Her neck was fearfully wounded, her
life-blood ebbing fast away.

"I endeavoured to stanch it, telling her meanwhile who I was.

"`Stephen and I have come at your invitation,' I said.

"`Heaven, rather, has sent you, to protect my Roger,' she faintly gasped
out, trying to put you in my arms.  `His father and brother are dead; I
saw them fall.  Hearing voices which I knew to be those of white men, I
cried out, that they might come and protect him.  Mark!  I am dying.
You will ever be a father to him?'

"The blood continued to flow; and soon she breathed her last, her head
resting on my arm.  Your dress and little hands were stained with her
blood; but you were too young to understand clearly what had happened,
although, as I took you up to carry you from the hut, you cried out
lustily to be taken back to your poor mother.

"Thinking it possible that the Indians might return, I hurried out to
look for Stephen, so that we might make our escape.  I was resolved at
all costs to save your life.  I tried to comfort you, at the same time,
by telling you that I was your uncle, and that your mother had wished me
to take care of you.

"Going on a little way, I found another hut, the door of which was open,
and smoke coming out of it.  The savages had thrown in their firebrands
as they quitted the village, and the front part was already on fire.

"While I was shouting for Stephen he rushed out of the hut, with a
blanket rolled up in his arms, the end thrown over his own head.

"`I have saved this child, and thank Heaven you are here to take her!'
he exclaimed, unfolding the blanket, and putting a little girl into my
arms.  `I must try and preserve the mother;' and again throwing the
blanket over his head, he dashed in through the flames.

"In another minute he reappeared, struggling along under the heavy
burden of a grown-up person wrapped in the blanket.  As he reached me he
sank down, overcome by the smoke, and I noticed that his clothes and
hair were singed.

"On opening the blanket I saw a young woman, her dress partly burned.
She too was wounded.  The fresh air somewhat revived her; and on opening
her eyes and seeing the little girl, she stretched out her arms for her.
`Lilias! my little Lily! she's saved,' she whispered, as she pressed
her lips to the child's brow.  `May Heaven reward you!'

"It was the final effort of exhausted nature, and in a few minutes she
breathed her last.

"The flames, meantime, had gained the mastery over the building, and we
saw that it was impossible to save it.

"But it's time to turn in, Roger," said Uncle Mark.  "I'll tell you more
about the matter to-morrow."

As Uncle Mark always meant what he said, I knew that there would be no
use in trying to get him to go on then, eager as I was to hear more of
what had, as may be supposed, so deeply interested me.  I accordingly
turned into my bunk, and was soon asleep.

I dreamed of shrieking Indians and burning villages; and more than once
I started up and listened to the strange unearthly sounds which came
from the depths of the forest.

These noises, I may here say, were caused by the wolves; for the savage
brutes occasionally came near the settlement, attracted by the sheep and
cattle which the inhabitants had brought with them.  A bright look-out
being kept, however, it was seldom that any of our stock was carried
off.  Bears also occasionally came into the neighbourhood; and we had
already shot two, whose skins supplied us with winter coats.  Our
intention was to kill as many more as we could meet with, that their
skins might serve us for other purposes--especially as coverlets for our
beds.  And, besides, their flesh was always a welcome addition to our
larder.

Next morning we went about our usual work.  My uncle with his bright axe
commenced felling the trees round our hut--working away from sunrise to
sunset, with only an hour's intermission for dinner.  I aided him, as
far as my strength would allow, for a certain number of hours daily.
But my uncle encouraged me to follow the bent of my inclination, which
was to get away and observe the habits of the creatures dwelling in the
surrounding forest.

I had been a naturalist from my earliest days.  The study had been my
poor father's hobby--so my uncle told me--and I inherited his love for
it.  It had, moreover, been developed and encouraged by a visit we had
received, some few years back, from a scientific gentleman, who had come
over to America to make himself acquainted with the feathered tribes,
the quadrupeds, and the reptiles of the New World.

It had been my delight to accompany this gentleman on his excursions
while he was with us; and I prized a couple of books he had left with me
more than I should have done a lump of gold of the same weight.  From
him I learned to preserve and stuff the skins of the birds and animals I
killed; a knowledge which I turned to profitable account, by my uncle's
advice--as they were sent, when opportunity occurred, to the Eastern
States, where they found a ready market.

"It pays very well in its way, Roger," observed Uncle Mark; "but work is
better.  If you can combine the two, I have no objection; but you are
now too old to play, and, for your own sake, you should do your best to
gain your own living.  While you were young, I was ready to work for
you; and so I should be now, if you could not work for yourself.  I want
you, however, to understand that it is far nobler for a man to labour
for his daily bread, than to allow others to labour for him."

I fully agreed with Uncle Mark.  Indeed, my ambition had long been to
support myself.  I had an idea, nevertheless, that the skins I preserved
brought more immediate profit than did the result of his labours with
the axe.  But, everything considered, we got on very well together; for
I was grateful to him for the affection and care he had bestowed on me
during my childhood.

I was hard at work that day preparing a number of birds I had shot in
the morning; and when dinnertime came, Uncle Mark, telling me to
continue my task, said he would get our meal ready.  Having quickly
prepared it, he brought out the platters, and set himself down near me.
I washed my hands, and speedily despatched my dinner; after which I
returned to my work.

"Will you go on with the account you were giving me last night?"  I
said, observing that he did not seem inclined to move.  "You have more
than half an hour to rest, and I will then come and help you."

"Where was I?  Oh!  I remember," said my uncle.  "In the middle of the
burning settlement, with you and Lily in my arms.

"We were wondering what had become of Yearsley, when we caught sight of
him rushing out from amid the burning huts.

"`They are all killed!--all, all, all!' he shrieked out.  `Follow me,
lads;' and he pointed with a significant gesture in the direction he
supposed the Indians had taken.

"`But these children, Mr Yearsley!  You would not have us desert them!
And my brother is too much injured, I fear, to accompany you,' I
observed.

"He looked at the children for a moment.

"`You are right,' he answered.  `Stay by them; or rather, make your way
back eastward with them.  Ignorant as you are of the habits of the
savages, you could aid me but little.  If I do not return, the waggon
and its contents, with the team, will be yours.'

"Before I had time to reply, or to ask him the name of the poor young
woman who lay dead at my feet, he had dashed across the stream, and soon
disappeared amid the forest beyond.  He had doubtless discovered the
trail of the Indians, or of the band of settlers who had gone in pursuit
of them; although we at that time were quite unable to perceive what was
visible to his more practised eye.

"I told Stephen how I had discovered our sister's house; so we agreed to
return to it, and to carry there the body of the poor young woman, that
we might bury it with those of our own family.  The hut was one of the
very few which had escaped the flames, and we found some spades and a
pickaxe within.  Not knowing how soon we might be interrupted, we at
once set to work and dug two graves under a maple-tree at the further
end of the garden.  One was large enough to hold our brother-in-law and
sister, and their boy; and in the other we placed the poor young lady--
for a lady she appeared to be, judging from her dress, her ear-rings and
brooch, and a ring which she wore on her finger.  These trinkets we
removed, in order to preserve them for her little daughter; as also a
miniature which hung round her neck,--that of a handsome young man, who
was doubtless her husband.  Stephen told me that the cottage from which
he had rescued her, as far as he had time to take notice, seemed to be
neatly and tastefully furnished.

"We concluded that her husband, if he had not been killed when the
village was surprised, had followed the savages along with the rest; and
he would be able on his return to identify his child, while we should
know him by his portrait.

"Before beginning our sad occupation, we had got some water and washed
the stains from your hands and clothes, and left you in a room playing
with little Lily; and on our return we gave you both some food which we
found in the house.  By this time, too, you seemed perfectly at home
with us.

"At first we thought of remaining in the house until Mr Yearsley and
the settlers whom we supposed had gone in pursuit of the savages should
return; but Stephen suggested that this might be dangerous, as we should
not know what was happening outside.  The Indians might come back and
surprise us, when we should to a certainty share the fate which had
befallen so many others.  We agreed, therefore, that our safest course
would be to make our way back to the waggon, where we had abundance of
provisions, and where we could find shelter for the children who had
been committed to us, we felt sure, by Providence.

"They were now our chief care.  While I took charge of them, Stephen
hurriedly examined the other huts which had escaped destruction; crying
out in case any one should be concealed, in order to let them know that
we were ready to help them.  No answer came, however, and we were soon
convinced that every person in the settlement, with the exception of
those who had gone in pursuit of the savages, had been slaughtered.

"As soon as we were satisfied as to this, we began our retreat, hoping
to get back to the waggon before nightfall.  Our intention was to wait
there for Mr Yearsley, as we felt sure that, after he had punished the
Indians, he would come and look for us where he had left the waggon.

"The sun was setting as we reached the top of the ridge; but we were too
far off to distinguish any one moving in the settlement, although we
made out the smouldering fire, from which thin wreaths of smoke alone
ascended in the calm evening air.  On reaching the waggon, we found the
cattle grazing quietly beside it.  Having removed some packages, among
which was one of new blankets, we made up beds for the two children; and
after giving them some supper, we placed them, sleeping, side by side.

"We agreed that one of us should watch while the other slept.  We also
resolved that, in the event of our being attacked by Indians, we should
show them fight; for we had a good store of ammunition, and knew well
how to handle our weapons.  Although we hoped they would not come, yet
we knew that they might possibly fall upon our trail and discover our
whereabouts.  Indeed, had we not thought it our duty to wait for Mr
Yearsley, we should have harnessed the cattle, and endeavoured to make
our way down the mountain in the dark.

"After we had put you and Lily to bed, and had refreshed ourselves with
some supper, I climbed again to the top of the ridge; but I could see no
object moving in the plain, nor could I hear the slightest sound to
indicate the approach of any one.  I therefore returned.

"While Stephen lay down under the waggon, I kept watch, walking up and
down with my rifle ready in my hand, and resting occasionally by leaning
against the wheel of the waggon.  After I had watched thus for about
four hours, I called Stephen, who took my place.

"I was again on foot by daybreak, and once more climbed to the top of
the ridge to look out.  But I had the same report as before to give.
The fire had burned itself out, and I could see no one moving.  We
waited all that day--and might have waited for several more, until our
cattle had eaten up the herbage--without being discovered; but Mr
Yearsley did not appear, nor could we see any signs of the other
settlers.

"We did our best to amuse you and Lily.  You asked frequently after your
poor mother; and it went to my heart to tell you that you would never
see her again.

"Stephen proposed that we should the next morning set out on our journey
eastward; but as I thought it possible that Mr Yearsley would by that
time have got back to the settlement, I undertook to go and search for
him--or to try and find any of the other people, and learn what had
become of him.  Stephen agreed to this; undertaking to look after the
children and guard the waggon during my absence.

"At daybreak I set out, keeping myself concealed, as much as possible,
behind bushes and trunks of trees, until I got back to the scene of the
catastrophe.  I listened; but all was still as death.  Excepting the two
or three huts around my brother-in-law's abode, the whole ground where
the settlement had stood presented only black heaps of ashes, surrounded
by palings and trunks of trees charred by the flames.  I could see no
one moving across the river, either; and the dreadful idea seized me
that the settlers who had gone in pursuit of the foe had been cut off,
and that Mr Yearsley had in all likelihood shared the same fate.  Had
it not been for Stephen and the children, I would have watched all day,
in the hope of our friend's return; but I had promised not to be longer
than I could help.

"I again visited my poor brother-in-law's hut, and packed up such
clothes as I saw belonging to you.  I also brought away a few other
articles, to remind us of your mother; for I thought it probable that
the settlement would be revisited by the savages, who would take good
care to finish the work they had begun.  I then set off on my return to
the waggon, looking back every now and then, lest I might be followed by
any of the foe.

"On reaching the waggon, Stephen agreed with me that we might safely
wait till the next morning.  We did so; and poor Yearsley not then
appearing, we proceeded with the waggon along the road we had taken in
coming, until we reached Watfield, a large settlement which had then
been established for three or four years.

"The account we gave of what had happened caused the inhabitants
considerable anxiety and alarm.  The men at once flew to arms; stockades
were put up; and sentries were posted at all points, to watch for the
possible approach of the Indians.

"Stephen and I having now no wish to go further east, we determined to
remain where we were.  As for the waggon and team, though we had no
written document to show that Yearsley had given them to us, our
statement was believed; and it was agreed that we should be allowed to
keep them,--especially as we consented to give them up should the
original owner return.  But nothing was ever heard of him, or of the
other settlers who had gone in pursuit of the retreating foe; and it was
generally believed that the whole had been surrounded and murdered by
the savages.

"As we could not spare time to look after the children, one of us agreed
to marry.  Stephen therefore fixed upon your Aunt Hannah, who was, he
had discovered, likely to prove a good housewife, and was kind-hearted
and gentle-mannered.  A true mother, too, she has ever proved to our
Lily."

Uncle Mark only spoke the truth when he praised Aunt Hannah; for she had
been like an affectionate mother to me, as well as to Lily, and much I
owed her for the care she had bestowed upon me.

I need not describe my own early days; indeed, several years passed
without the occurrence of any incidents which would be especially
interesting to others.  Gradually the border-village grew into a town,
although even then the country continued in almost its original wild
state within a mile or two of us.  Both Lily and I got a fair amount of
schooling; and in the holidays I was able to indulge my taste, by
rambling into the forest and increasing my knowledge of the habits of
its denizens.  Occasionally I got leave for Lily to accompany me,
although Aunt Hannah did not much approve of her going so far from home.

One day I had persuaded our aunt to let her accompany me--Lily herself
was always ready to go--for the sake of collecting some baskets of
berries.  "I promise to come back with as many as I can carry, to fill
your jam-pots," said I.  There were whortleberries, and thimble-berries,
blue-berries, raspberries, and strawberries, and many others which, I
reminded her, were now in season.  "If we do not get them now, the time
will pass.  Lily's fingers, too, will pick them quicker than mine, so
that we shall get double as many as I should get by myself," I observed.

My arguments prevailed, and Lily and I set out, happy as the red-birds
we saw flying in and out among the trees around us.

We had nearly filled our baskets, and I was on my knees picking some
strawberries which grew on the bank of a small stream running through an
open part of the forest, when Lily, who was at a little distance from
me, shrieked out.  I was about to spring to my feet and hurry to her
assistance--supposing that she had been frightened by some animal--when
what was my horror to see, close to me, a huge wolf, with open jaws,
ready to seize me!  My stick, the only weapon I carried, lay just within
my reach; so I put out my hand and instinctively grasped it, determined
to fight for my own life and Lily's too--knowing how, if the wolf killed
me, it would next attack her.

As I moved the creature snarled, but did not advance any nearer.  So,
grasping the stick, I sprang to my feet and swung the weapon round with
all my might, despair giving energy to my muscles.  The savage creature
retreated a few paces, astonished at the unexpected blow, snarling, and
eyeing me, as if about to make another attack.

Again Lily shrieked.

"Run, run!"  I cried; "I will tackle the wolf."

But she did not move; indeed, she saw that the creature was more likely
to come off victor than I was.

I stood ready to receive the animal, doubtful whether I ought to make
the attack; Lily, in the meantime, continuing to cry aloud for help.
The wolf at length seemed to get tired of waiting for his expected prey,
and giving a fierce howl, he was on the point of springing at me, when a
bullet fired by an unseen hand laid him dead at my feet.

Lily sprang towards me, exclaiming, "You are safe! you are safe, Roger!"
and then burst into tears.  She scarcely seemed to consider how I had
been saved.  All she saw was the dead wolf, and that I was unhurt.

On looking round, I observed an Indian advancing towards us from among
the trees.

"That must be the man who killed the wolf," I exclaimed.  "We must thank
him, Lily."

Lily had ever a great dread of Indians.  "We must run! we must run,
Roger!" she cried.  "He may kill us as easily as he did the wolf, or
carry us away prisoners."

"We cannot escape him, Lily; and I do not think he will hurt us," I
answered in an encouraging tone.  "I will go forward and thank him for
saving my life.  It will not do to show any fear; and if he is disposed
to be friendly, he would think it ungrateful if we were to run off
without thanking him."

I took Lily's hand as I spoke, and led her towards the Indian.  He was
dressed in skins, with an axe hanging from his belt, and had long black
hair streaming over his shoulders,--unlike most of the Indians I had
seen, who wear it tied up and ornamented with feathers.  A small silver
medal hung from his neck, and I guessed from this that he was a friend
to the white men, and had received it as a token for some service he had
rendered them.

He made a friendly sign as he saw us approach, and put out his hand.

"We come to thank you for killing the wolf that was about to spring upon
me," I said in English, for though I knew a few words of the Indian
tongue, I could not at that time speak it sufficiently well to express
what I wished to say.

"Kepenau is glad to have done you a service," he answered in English.
"I heard the young maiden cry out, and guessed that she would not do so
without cause, so I hurried on to help you.  But why are you so far from
home?  It is dangerous for unarmed people to wander in this forest."

"We came out to gather berries, and were about to return," said Lily.
"You will not detain us?"

"Not if you wish to go," answered the Indian.

"But come with me, and you shall return with something of more value
than these berries."

I felt sure that the Indian would not injure us, so Lily and I followed
him, hand in hand.

He moved through the forest faster than we could, and presently stopped
near some rocks, amid which lay the body of a deer with huge antlers.
Placing himself across the carcass of the animal, he exclaimed with a
look of exultation, "See!  I have overcome the king of these forests.
Once, thousands of these animals wandered here, but since the white man
has come they have all disappeared; and now that I have slain him, we
must go likewise, and seek for fresh hunting-grounds.  Still, Kepenau
bears the Whiteskins no malice.  He was ever their friend, and intends
to remain so.  You must take some of the meat and present it to your
friends."

Saying this, he commenced skinning the deer, in which operation I
assisted him.  He then cut off several slices, which he wrapped up in
some large leaves and placed in my basket.

"Take the venison to your mother, and say that Kepenau sends it," he
observed.

"He has no mother," said Lily.

"Is he not your brother?" asked the Indian.

"No!" said Lily.  "His mother was killed by the Redskins long, long
ago."

Lily at that time did not know that her own mother had been murdered
when mine was.

"You do not bear the red men any malice on that account, I trust?" said
Kepenau, turning to me.

"The Great Spirit tells us to forgive our enemies; and there are good
and bad Indians."

"You are a good Indian, I am sure," said Lily, looking up at him with
more confidence in her manner than she had before shown.

"I wish to become so," he said, smiling.  "I have learned to love the
Great Spirit, and wish to obey him.  But it is time for you to return
home.  Wait until I have secured the flesh of the deer, and then I will
accompany you."

Kepenau quickly cut up the animal, and fastened the more valuable
portion's to the bough of a tree--out of the reach of the wolves--by
means of some lithe creepers which grew at hand; then loading himself
with as much of the venison as he could conveniently carry, he said, "We
will move on."

Having accompanied us to the edge of the forest, he bade us farewell.
"Should there be more wolves in the forest, they will not follow you
further than this," he said; "but if they do, remember that it will be
better to sacrifice some of the venison, than to allow them to overtake
you.  Throw them a small bit at a time; and as in all likelihood they
will stop to quarrel over it, you will thus have time to escape."

I remembered the Indian's advice, although we did not need to practise
it on this occasion.

We reached home before dark, and greatly surprised Aunt Hannah with the
present of venison.  She had, she told us, been very anxious at our
prolonged absence.



CHAPTER TWO.

GREENFORD SETTLEMENT--THE FLYING SQUIRRELS--MIKE LAFFAN AND TOM QUAMBO--
THEIR DOGS, YELP AND SNAP--A RACCOON-HUNT--MIKE HAVING SEEN A BEAR, WE
GO IN CHASE--OUR DOGS SCENT BRUIN--QUAMBO IN DANGER--THE BEAR IS KILLED,
AND QUAMBO RELEASED--WE RETURN TO THE HUT--THE LOGGING BEE--UNCLE
STEPHEN'S HOUSE--INDIAN SUMMER--MIKE LAFFAN'S CREMONA--THE NIGHT ATTACK
OF THE WOLVES--WE DETERMINE TO GO LUMBERING FOR THE WINTER--MIKE AND I
GO ON AHEAD--UNCLE MARK IS ATTACKED BY A WOLF--MIKE SAVES HIM, AND WE
PROCEED ONWARDS.

We had only lately, as I have already said, arrived at our new location.
My uncles had been imbued with the restless spirit of backwoodsmen, and
Aunt Hannah was ready to do whatever Uncle Stephen wished.  So, having
grown weary of the life at Watfield, where we had at first been located,
they had resolved, along with several other inhabitants of that place,
to push westward; and after making their way through forests, rivers,
and swamps, and over hills and plains, had formed the new settlement
where Uncle Stephen now was, and which they had named Greenford.

To the hut where Uncle Mark and I lived no name had been given; but he
expressed his belief that it would one day become the centre of a great
city.  "Before that day arrives, however, you and I, Roger, will have
moved far away westward," he observed.

I used to exercise diligence while I was at work, in order that I might
have more time to attend to the study of natural history.  My great
delight was to get away into the forest and observe the habits of its
various inhabitants.  Often would I sit on the root of an old tree
watching the playful squirrels at their gambols.  When I spied a hole in
which I knew that a family were likely to have taken up their abode, I
would hide myself; and before long I was generally rewarded by seeing a
"papa" squirrel poking out his nose.  Soon he would give an inaudible
sniff, sniff, sniff, then out would come his head, and he would look
round to ascertain whether danger was near.  Presently I would catch
sight of his thick furry body and lovely brush, the tail curling over
his head.  Then another nose would appear, and large shining eyes; and
out another would pop; followed in rapid succession by the whole family.
Then, how delightful it was to watch them frolicking about, darting
round the trunks, sending the bark rattling down as they chased each
other; whisking their tails; darting along the boughs, and bounding
fearlessly from branch to branch.  One, reaching the end of a bough,
would spread out its arms and tail, exhibiting the white fur beneath,
and fly down to a lower branch, or to the earth below, followed by its
companions; then away they would go along the logs or swinging vines,
and up another trunk, quick as lightning.  Sometimes I would catch them
at their supper, nibbling away at the nuts which they had plucked, or
had dug out of the ground with their sharp little paws.

A flying squirrel is indeed a beautiful creature.  Its colour is a most
delicate grey; the fur thick and short, and as soft as velvet; the eyes
large and full.  The membrane by which it is enabled to take its flights
is of a soft texture, and white, like the fur of the chinchilla.  The
tail greatly resembles an elegantly-formed broad feather.

One day, as I was wandering along the banks of a stream, for the purpose
of observing the habits of a family of beavers that had lately made
their abode there, I caught sight of a number of squirrels.  They were
evidently about some important operation, since they were moving
steadily along the branches, and refraining from their usual frisking
and playing.  Having concealed myself from their view, in order that
they might not be disturbed by my presence, I noticed that they went on
until they reached the branch of a tree overhanging the stream, at the
extreme end of which one, who appeared to be their leader, took post,
looking eagerly up the current.  In a short time a small log floated
near, with a tendency to move over to the opposite side.  As it came
beneath the leader of the party he dropped down upon it, at the same
time uttering a sharp cry.  Quick as lightning some others followed his
example; and by holding on to the lower twigs they arrested its progress
until the whole party were seated on board, when the log was allowed to
float, as they sagaciously knew it would, towards the opposite bank.  It
seemed to me as if some of them were steering it with their tails; but
of that I am not positive.  In a short time, after floating some way
down the stream it was guided to the shore; when one after the other
leaped off, and quickly running along the boughs of the trees, gained a
point exactly opposite to that from which they had started; after which
they went away into the forest,--bent, I doubted not, on some predatory
expedition.  They would soon make their presence known, when they
reached the pumpkin-grounds or maize-fields of the settlers.

I was not always alone in my rambles through the forest.  Lily would
have been only too happy to accompany me, but Aunt Hannah judged it
prudent to keep her at home; and, indeed, she had plenty of occupation
there.  My chief companion, therefore, was one of Uncle Stephen's
labourers--an Irishman, Mike Laffan by name.

Although Mike had no great knowledge of natural history, he was as fond
of searching for animals as I was, and consequently was always ready to
accompany me when he had the chance.  He was an honest fellow; a
thorough Patlander in look, manners, language, and ideas.  When he
could, he used to press Tom Quambo, an old free negro, into the service;
and Quambo enjoyed the fun as much as Mike did.  Each possessed a dog,
of which they were very proud, ugly as the animals were to look at.

"Den, you see, massa, if Yelp not 'ansome, he know eberyting," Quambo
used to remark.  "He braver dan painter [meaning the puma], and run like
greased lightning."

It was difficult to say whether Yelp or Mike's dog was the ugliest; but
both masters were equally proud of their canine friends.

I too had a dog, which, if not a beauty, was certainly handsomer than
either of his two acquaintances.  He was clever enough in his way, but
more useful in watching the hut than in hunting; indeed, when I went out
by myself for the purpose of observing the habits of the denizens of the
forest, I never took him, knowing that he would only interfere with
their sports.

On one occasion I had been over to see my Uncle Stephen, and as I was
returning home Mike Laffan met me.

"Would you loike to be afther looking for a 'coon to-night, Masther
Roger?" he asked.  "Quambo says he can come; and Yelp and Snap are
moighty ager for the sport."

I at once agreed to meet my two friends, accompanied by my dog Pop.

Accordingly, at the time appointed, the day's work being over, Mike and
Quambo made their appearance at the hut; while running at their heels
were their two dogs, who were soon warmly greeted by Pop.

Setting out, we took our way along the banks of the river, near which we
fully expected to fall in with several raccoons.  We had our guns, and
were provided with torches and the means of lighting them.  We had not
gone far before we heard voices, and soon we were joined by three lads
from the settlement, who had got notice of the expedition.  As they had
brought their dogs, we had a full pack of mongrels of high and low
degree, but united by one feeling,--that of deadly enmity to raccoons.

On we went, while the dogs, who had just then scented one of their foes,
yelled in chorus.  Over huge logs and rotten trunks, through the brush
and dead trees and briars, we went at full speed; and sometimes wading
across bogs, sometimes climbing up banks, and occasionally tumbling over
on our noses, we continued to make our way at the heels of the dogs,
until old Quambo, waving his torch above his head, and suddenly stopping
short, shouted out, "De 'coon's treed!"

He had made a mistake, however, for the dogs bayed loudly and continued
their course.

"Dat a mighty old 'coon," cried Quambo.  "He know what he about."

The raccoon, if it had got up the tree, had come down again, and was
still ahead.  Some of the party were almost in despair; but I knew the
habits of the creature too well not to feel sure that we should get it
at last, so I encouraged my friends, while we dashed on as before.

Yelp and Snap, having kept well ahead of the other dogs, were now heard
baying under a big tree, and no doubt remained that the raccoon had
taken refuge amid its branches.  Our difficulty was to get it down.  As
the others hesitated to encounter the fierce little animal amid the
boughs, Mike, for the honour of "Old Ireland," offered to make his way
up.  Without more ado, then, he got on Quambo's shoulders, sprang to a
branch within his reach, and was soon lost to sight among the foliage.

"I see him!" he shouted at last; and bits of bark, leaves, and rotten
twigs came rattling down, while the loud whacks of his stick reached our
ears.  Presently there was a "flop;" the raccoon had been compelled to
evacuate its stronghold.  The dogs once more gave chase; and I, torch in
hand, followed them.  In less than a minute I came up with the dogs, and
found the creature at bay, its eyes flashing fire, while it bravely
faced the pack, which, with gnashing growls and savage yells, were about
to dash upon it, though each seemed unwilling to receive the first bite
from its sharp teeth.  But, hearing the voices of their masters, they
gained courage, and in another instant had the poor animal struggling
vainly in their midst; while our blows came rattling down, to finish its
sufferings, and prevent them tearing its skin to pieces.

Such was one of several raccoon-hunts in which I took part.

The raccoon is about the size of a spaniel, and its colour is a blackish
grey.  Its tail is short and bushy, and is marked with five or six
blackish rings on a grey ground.  When the animal walks slowly, or sits,
it plants the soles of its feet upon the ground; but when in a hurry it
runs along on the tips of its toes.  It hunts for its prey chiefly at
night, when it devours any small animals it can catch.  It has no
objection, however, to a vegetable diet; and, indeed, its teeth show
that it is capable of feeding on both descriptions of food.

I once caught a young raccoon, which soon became domesticated--being
quite as tame as a dog.  It possessed, however, a habit of which I could
not cure it; that of seizing any fowls it set eyes on, and biting off
their heads.  It having treated two or three of Aunt Hannah's in this
way, I was compelled to carry it into the forest and set it at liberty.
It enjoyed its freedom but a short time, however, as it was soon
afterwards hunted and killed by some of our boys.

Having got so far from home, our party were not inclined to return
without something in addition to the unfortunate animal we had
slaughtered.  Mike, too, announced to us that he had seen a brown bear
at a spot a little further on; so it was at once agreed that we should
"knock up the quarters of Mr Bruin."

It was necessary to proceed with caution; for though the "musquaw" or
brown bear will seldom attack a human being unless first assaulted, our
friend, if unceremoniously disturbed at night, would probably not be in
a good-humour.  Our three well-trained dogs kept at our heels, but the
other curs went yelping away through the forest; nor could their
masters' voices succeed in calling them back.  We feared, therefore,
that they would rouse up the bear, and thus give it time to escape
before we could reach its dwelling.

"Faix, though, I am not sure that the noise outside won't make the old
gentleman keep quiet in his den," observed Mike.  "He will be after
saying to his wife, `Sure, what would be the use, Molly, of turning out
to go hunting thim noisy spalpeens of dogs?  I'll sit snug and quiet
till they come to the door; and thin, sure, it will be toime enough to
axe thim what they want.'"

Mike's notion encouraged us to go on; and at length Pop, Snap, and Yelp
gave signs of uneasiness, and showed a decided inclination to rush
forward.

"Let dem go!" exclaimed Quambo.

"Off with you!" we cried at once; and the dogs darted on, barking
furiously, until they stopped before the decayed trunk of a huge tree,
round which several smaller trees, once saplings, had grown up--a
well-selected natural fortification.  As the light of our torches fell
on it, we fully expected to see Mr Bruin stalk forth and inquire what
we wanted.

Quambo proposed that we should light a fire in the neighbourhood, so
that, did our enemy appear, we might be better able to attack him and
defend ourselves.  We followed the black's advice; but still nothing
appeared.  The dogs, however, showed they were convinced that some
animal or other was concealed within the trunk.

At last, growing impatient, we approached and thrust our long sticks
into the hollow, feeling about in every direction.

"I am sure that mine has struck something soft!"  I exclaimed; and
scarcely had I uttered the words when a low growl reached our ears.  A
dark body next appeared for an instant among the stems of the trees
surrounding the hollow trunk, and then out rushed a bear through an
opening which we had not perceived.

The dogs gave chase, and so did we.  Bruin had but a short start; and
although he must have been well acquainted with the locality, we,
scorning all impediments, soon overtook him--the dogs having already
commenced biting at his hind feet.  This was too much for his
equanimity, so, suddenly turning round, he struck two or three of them
with his fore paws, sending them sprawling to a distance.  As he did so
the glare of our torches dazzled his eyes, and so perplexed him that he
seemed not to know what to do.  Of one thing only he must have been
convinced,--that he was in for a fight; and, brave bear as he was, he
sat up on his hind legs and prepared to receive us.

Mike fired, but only wounded him in the shoulder.  This stirred up
Bruin's anger to a pitch of fury, and, with a growl like thunder, he
dashed forward at his opponent.  Mike, however, nimbly skipped on one
side, and the bear's eye fell on Quambo, who had lifted his rifle to
fire.  But scarcely had he pulled the trigger when the bear was upon
him, and both rolled over together.

For an instant I thought that the black was killed, but his voice
shouting to us to drag off the bear reassured me; and Mike's
hunting-knife quickly finished the animal, which was struggling in the
agonies of death.  Happily, his teeth had only torn Quambo's jacket; and
on our dragging away the dead body the black sprang to his feet.

"Berry good sport," he observed, shaking himself.  "I'se wonder wedder
Mrs Bear not remain behind! and piccaninny bears too, perhaps!  We look
as we go by.  Howeber, we now make ready dis gen'leman to carry home."
He and Mike then fastened the bear's feet together, and hung the animal
to a long pole, which they cut from a sapling growing near.  Then having
placed it on their shoulders, with short pieces at right angles at
either end to prevent it slipping, they announced that they were ready
to set off; so, while they led the way with our prize, we commenced our
homeward journey.

Whether Mrs Bruin had occupied part of the trunk, we could not
positively ascertain.  Quambo expressed his belief that she had been
there, but had taken the opportunity, while we went in chase of her
spouse, to make her escape with her offspring.  We possibly might have
found her; but, with her young to defend, she would have proved a
dangerous foe, and, as our torches were almost burnt out, we should have
had to encounter her in the dark.  We therefore considered it prudent to
proceed on our way.

I remained at the hut while the rest of the party went back to the
settlement.  Aunt Hannah was well pleased to obtain so valuable a prize;
and she sent us, some weeks afterwards, a smoked bear's ham as our share
of the spoil.

I can give but a very brief account of the adventures of those days;
indeed, sometimes weeks went by during which I was hard at work without
intermission, either assisting Uncle Mark, or joining in one or other of
the "bees" got up for various purposes--when we went to help others, as
our neighbours, when required, came to help us.

Sometimes we joined what was called a "logging bee," which I may explain
thus:--When a new hut was to be erected, we and others united to drag
the logs out of the forest, and to hew them into proper lengths to form
the walls of the hut.  These are placed, not upright, but horizontally,
one above another.  The length of the outside walls is first determined;
whereupon the lowest log is let a little way into the earth, and a
groove is cut on the upper side with a deep notch at each end.  The next
log is placed on the top of it, each end being so cut as to dovetail
into the others at right angles; thus one log is placed upon another
until the destined height of the wall is reached.  Doors and windows are
afterwards sawed out; and the rafters are fixed on in the usual fashion.
The roof is formed of rough slabs of wood called shingles; the
interstices being filled up with clay.  A big iron stove, the flues
running from one end to the other, keeps the hut thoroughly warm in
winter; while the thickness of the walls causes it to be cool in summer.

Many of the settlers had large houses of this description; but stores,
and buildings where warmth was not of so much consequence, had their
walls merely of planks nailed on to the framework.  Uncle Stephen's
house was built of logs raised on a platform above the ground, with
steps leading to it, and a broad verandah in front.  It contained a
sitting-room, several bedrooms, and a kitchen; the verandah being
painted a bright green, with stripes of pink, while the window-frames
and doors were yellow.  I used to think it a beautiful mansion, but
perhaps that was on account of those who lived within.  The abode of
Lily was of necessity, to my mind, charming.

The autumn of that year was now approaching its close.  There is in
North America, at that period of the year, what is called the "Indian
summer."  The air is balmy, but fresh, and mere existence to those in
health is delightful; a light gauze-like mist pervades the atmosphere,
preventing the rays of the sun, beaming forth from an unclouded sky,
from proving over-oppressive.  Already the forest has assumed its
particoloured tints.  The maple has put on a dress of every hue,--of
yellow, red, pink, and green.  The leaves of the beeches become of a
golden tinge, and those of the oak appear as if turned into bronze,
while numerous creepers present the richest reds.

We settlers, however, had but little time in which to admire the
beauties of Nature, for we knew that every day was rapidly bringing us
to the period when all agricultural labour must cease, and the ground
would be covered with a sheet of snow.  Not that we were then doomed to
idleness, however, for we had abundance of out-of-door work during the
winter, in felling trees; and, as soon as the snow had hardened,
dragging them over it,--either to form huge heaps, where they could be
burned, or to be placed in the spots where they were required for
putting up buildings or fences.

Uncle Stephen having engaged some new hands,--who, being fresh from the
"old country," were unwilling, as they were unfit, to go further into
the forest,--allowed Mike and Quambo to come to us.  We therefore put up
a room for them next to our own, and which could be heated in winter by
the same stove.  We were thus able to get on much more rapidly with our
task of clearing the ground.  Mike, indeed, was a great acquisition to
our party; for, besides singing a good Irish song, he had learned to
play the fiddle,--and, of course, he had brought his "Cremona," of which
he was justly proud, along with him.  He beguiled the long winter
evenings with many a merry tune, and not unfrequently set old Quambo
dancing.  Sometimes we would look in; and we found it great fun to see
Quambo, in the confined space of the cabin, coming the "double
shuffle"--bounding up and down, and whirling round and round, snapping
his fingers and stamping his feet, until the perspiration streamed down
his sooty cheeks.  Mike would continue bobbing his head, meanwhile, and
applauding with voice and gesture, though keeping his countenance, and
looking as grave as a judge while listening to the counsel for a
prisoner.

We had now made an opening which enabled us to see the river from our
hut; and Mike declared that we were getting quite civilised, and were
beginning to look like being in the midst of a great city, barring the
houses, and streets, and people.

"Sure, they'll be afther coming one of these days," he added.

"When that happens, it will be time for us to think of moving further
westward," observed Uncle Mark.

A violent storm, which sent the boughs and leaves flying about our
heads, brought the "Indian summer" to a conclusion, and the frost set in
soon afterwards.

One evening, after the day's work was over, and supper had been
finished, we were sitting in our hut employed in various occupations
before turning in for the night, when a low howl reached our ears.

"What is that?"  I exclaimed.

Before Uncle Mark could make answer, the howl was answered by another;
and presently, others joining in, the whole forest reverberated with a
melancholy and spirit-depressing chorus.

"Wolves!" said Uncle Mark.  "The frost has driven them from the high
ground, and they are contemplating a raid on our porkers and cattle.  We
must send them to the right-about, or they will become audacious."

Calling to Mike and Quambo, we put on our coats and sallied forth, armed
with guns and sticks.  The moon was shining brightly, so we required no
torches.  We made our way over the fallen trunks and rough rocks which
formed the bank of the river, but after a while the howls appeared to
come from a still greater distance than before.

Uncle Mark now called a halt.  "The brutes hear us, and are retreating,"
he said.  "Keep silence for a few minutes, and maybe we shall catch
sight of them."

Under his directions I seated myself on the trunk of a tree, while he
and the two men stayed near.  Presently I caught sight of a pair of
glaring eyeballs, and soon another wolf came into view.

"Get your rifles ready," whispered Uncle Mark.  "You, Roger, shoot the
one to the left.  I will aim at the next.  Mike and Quambo, you take two
others.  Unless they run off, we may give a good account of the whole
pack."

As he finished speaking I fired, followed by Uncle Mark and the other
men; and, as the result, four wolves rolled over dead.  The rest of
them, however, disappointed us by turning tail and scampering off to a
safe distance, from whence only their howls reached us.  Uncle Mark,
however, did not consider it prudent to follow them.  Indeed, had they
heard us approaching they would probably have retreated out of shot; for
wolves, though they will follow a fugitive, like other savage animals,
will generally try to escape when pursued.  So, having secured the skins
of those we had killed, although they were of no great value, we
returned homewards.

After this we had alternately rain and frost, with a few fine days, till
the snow came down, and the winter commenced in earnest.  But we were
all pretty well inured to it.  Indeed, except when the wind blew, we
were in the habit of hewing in the forest with our coats off; and even
then we often found it hot work.

Mike came back one day from the settlement--where he had been sent for a
few stores and powder and shot--with the information that a party of
lumberers had commenced operations some miles up a river which ran into
the great lake, and that the "boss" had sent a ganger to hire hands,
more of whom were wanted.

"A few dollars of ready cash would be very acceptable," observed Uncle
Mark.  "What say you, Roger?  We'll start away, and spend a month or so
with them.  We can take Mike with us, while Quambo will look after the
hut, the cattle, and pigs."

I was ready, of course; and so, as my uncle was a man of action, he
determined to set off the next morning.  We were all good skaters; and
although, during the first part of our journey, we should be unable to
make use of our skates, we settled to carry them with us.

At daybreak, then, we were up, and having taken breakfast, were ready to
start,--our provisions consisting of flour-cakes and cold pork, with a
pot and pannikins.  Mike also carried his fiddle hung around his neck.

"It will help to amuse the gossoons--and maybe put a few dollars in my
pocket," he remarked with a wink.  "Bedad!  I'll keep their feet going,
when the work is over for the day, and they are afther sharpening their
axes."

We had but one gun with us, which Mike carried, as we wished to travel
with as little encumbrance as possible.

But just as we were starting off, Uncle Mark recollected that he had
forgotten to write to Uncle Stephen upon a matter of importance.

"You, Roger, and Mike, can go on ahead," he said, "while I finish my
letter, which I will leave with Quambo to be forwarded; and I will soon
overtake you."

As there was now light enough for us to see our way through the forest,
we commenced our tramp.  There was no risk of our taking the wrong road,
seeing there was but one--along the course of the stream, which ran into
the larger river; and it was now frozen in such a manner as to afford us
a good highway.  Mike was always amusing, and I was glad of his company;
besides which, as we had had a good start of my uncle, I was in hopes
that we might have time to get a shot at something.

We had accomplished three or four miles, and I had begun to wonder why
Uncle Mark had not overtaken us, as he was a quick walker, and intended
to carry only his axe, and a small skin bag over his shoulder containing
some necessaries.  We were looking about us, in the hope of catching
sight of a raccoon or opossum, or some larger game, when a howl, such as
had aroused us one night a short time before, sounded through the
forest.

"Sure, that comes from a pack of wolves," observed Mike.  "But no!  I
belave one of the brutes is capable of making that noise.  We have heard
the echoes among the trees.  I hope that there are not many of them, as
they might take it into their heads to attack us, and that would not be
pleasant."

We went on, however, troubling ourselves very little about the wolf, for
I felt sure that there was only one, or a couple at the most.  The
stream, as we proceeded, became wider, running round the foot of some
hills, with larches scattered on either side, their boughs bent down by
the snow which had frozen hard on them.  The sky had become cloudy by
this time, too, and there was every appearance of a fresh fall.

"Surely Uncle Mark will be up with us soon, Mike!"  I observed.

But scarcely had I spoken when I heard my uncle shouting to us.  He was
in the middle of the frozen stream, and was hurrying towards us, axe in
hand.  He had good reason to keep it there, for just then we saw a huge
wolf rush out from behind a clump of trees close at hand.  He stopped to
receive his assailant, which, probably well nigh famished, seemed bent
on his destruction.

Mike, without saying a word, had unslung the gun and dropped on his
knee, for there was not a moment to be lost.  In another instant the
fierce wolf would have sprung at my uncle's throat, and might have taken
his life; or, at all events, have severely injured him, and that before
we could get near enough to render him any assistance.  It all depended
on Mike's steady aim, therefore; and although I was a good shot, still I
was thankful that he had the gun.

He fired; and the brute, the moment that it was making its spring, fell
over, snarling and hissing, with its shoulder broken.  A blow on the
head from my uncle's axe finished its existence.

"You have rendered me good service, Laffan," said my uncle, when we got
up to him.  "Had you not taken steady aim, that brute's fangs would have
been at my throat in another moment."

"Faix, thin, Mr Mark, it is only what I would have wished to be done,"
answered Mike.  "And if you ever catch sight of a bear about to give me
a hug, or such a brute as this at my heels,"--and he gave the dead wolf
a kick--"you will be afther shooting him, sure enough!"

"Well, Mike, we shall then be quits.  In the meantime I am your debtor,"
answered my uncle, laughing.  Notwithstanding the danger he had been in,
he was quite unmoved.  His cheek had not lost its ruddy glow, nor did a
limb tremble.

We quickly skinned the wolf, and hung the hide up to the branch of a
tree a little way from the bank, where it would be concealed from any
passers-by.  We did not wish to encumber ourselves with it in the
meantime, and we hoped to find it on our return.  We were not likely to
forget the spot, any more than those boys in the "old country" would do,
who, as I have heard, are taken to certain landmarks and whipped, in
order that they may afterwards bear them duly in mind.

We were thankful that the wolf which had attacked my uncle was alone, as
it would have been unpleasant to find ourselves followed by a howling
pack; and we now regretted that we had not all of us brought our guns.

Trudging on some miles further, we came upon a part of the river which
had not been frozen over until after the snow fell.  Here, the ice being
clear, we put on our skates, and glided merrily along towards the spot
where we understood the lumberers were at work.



CHAPTER THREE.

A TERRIFIC SNOWSTORM--KEPENAU'S TIMELY APPEARANCE--WE VISIT KEPENAU'S
CAMP--HIS HOSPITALITY--AN INDIAN'S DREAD OF THE "FIRE WATER"--WE BID
ADIEU TO OUR INDIAN FRIENDS--OUR ARRIVAL AT THE LOGGING ENCAMPMENT--
JACQUES MICHAUD TAKES A FANCY TO MIKE--JACQUES' RAFT STORY--MY UNCLE AND
I START ON OUR RETURN--WE ARE ATTACKED BY A FIERCE PACK OF WOLVES, AND
ARE SAVED BY KEPENAU AND HIS MEN--MIKE LAFFAN IN A DIFFICULTY--WE RESCUE
HIM--ASHATEA, KEPENAU'S DAUGHTER--MY VISIT TO LILY--MR. AND MRS.
CLAXTON--DORA AND REUBEN--REUBEN VISITS OUR HUT--THE MARTEN AND
PORCUPINE--AN OPOSSUM-HUNT.

The snow had for some time been falling lightly, but the wind which had
arisen blew it off the ice, and thus it did not impede our progress; but
that same wind, which was now by a turn of the river brought directly
ahead of us, soon increased in strength, and drove the particles of
snow, sharp as needles, into our faces.  Indeed, the cold every instant
became more intense, while the snow fell more thickly.

"Faix, and it's moighty loike a shower of penknives, mixed with needles
and pins!" cried Mike.  "It's a hard matther to keep the eyes open.
What will we be afther doing, Mr Mark, if it gets worse?"

"We'll go on till it does get worse," said Uncle Mark.  "It would not do
to turn back now."

Mike said no more, but, bending down his head, worked away manfully with
might and main.

I did my best to keep up, but I may say that seldom have I endured such
suffering.  At last I felt that I could stand it no longer; so I
proposed to my uncle that we should make for the shore, and there build
a hut, light a fire, and wait till the storm was over.

He was, however, bent upon going on.  "We should be half-frozen before
we could get up a wigwam," he answered.

Just then I heard a voice hailing us in gruff tones, and I guessed it
was that of an Indian; but we had no reason to dread the Indians of
these parts.  As we looked about to see from whence it proceeded, I
caught sight of the tops of two or three wigwams just peeping out from a
cedar-bush at a little distance from the shore.

"Friends, come here!" exclaimed some one, and we observed an Indian
making towards us; whereupon we turned round and skated up to him.

"Ah, friends!  I know you," he said.  "You cannot face the storm, which
will soon blow stronger still.  Come to my wigwam, where you shall have
shelter till it has passed by."

As he spoke I recognised my old friend Kepenau, whom I had not seen
since we had come to our present location.  I had so grown, too, that he
did not at first recognise me.

Having taken off our skates, we followed him to his camp, where he
introduced us to several other Indians and their squaws, among whom were
a number of children of all ages.

The thick cedar-bushes sheltered the spot completely from the wind, and
the fire which burned in the centre afforded us a welcome warmth; for,
in spite of the exercise we had gone through, our blood was chilled by
the piercing snowstorm.  The Indians were dressed partly in skins, and
partly in garments made of blankets, received from the white men; most
of the squaws wore a large blanket over their heads, forming a cloak in
which they were shrouded.  The wigwams were constructed of long thin
poles, fastened at the top, and spread out in a conical form, the whole
being covered thickly with slabs of birch-bark.

Our red-skinned hosts put us at once at our ease; and I asked Kepenau
how he came to be in that part of the country.

"The white men compelled us to move westward," he answered.  "They have
planted on our lands, and shot the game on which we subsisted; and
though I should have been content to remain among them and adopt their
customs, yet my people wished to live as our fathers have lived; and I
would not desert them.  My desire is to instruct them in the truths I
have myself learned; and it is only by dwelling with them, and showing
them that I love them, that I can hope to do that."

We had much interesting conversation with Kepenau, and I was surprised
at the amount of information on religious subjects which he possessed;
indeed.  I confess that he put us all to shame.

Uncle Mark looked grave, and sighed.  "I used once to read my Bible, and
listen gladly to God's Word read and preached, when I lived with my good
father and mother in the `old country,' though I have sadly neglected it
since I came out here," he said; "but I will do so no longer.  You have
reminded me of my duty, friend Kepenau."

"What you say makes me glad.  Keep to your resolve, for you cannot do
God's will without reading his Word, to know what that will is,"
remarked Kepenau.

Our host gave up one of the wigwams for our special use, in the centre
of which a fire burned, prevented from spreading by a circle of stones.
The ground around the sides was covered with thick rushes which served
as our beds, and we lay with our feet towards the fire.  Severe as was
the cold outside, and thin as appeared the walls, the heat from the fire
kept us thoroughly warm; and I never slept more soundly in my life, for,
although our hosts were Redskins, we felt as secure as in our own hut.
Notwithstanding that the storm raged without, the wigwams were so well
protected by the cedar-bushes that the fierce wind failed to reach us.

In the morning, when we came out of our wigwam we found that the squaws
had prepared breakfast; which consisted of dried venison, cakes made
from Indian corn, and fish which had been caught before the frost set
in, and had remained hard-frozen ever since.

"You can now continue your journey, for the storm has ceased; and may
the Great Spirit protect you!" observed Kepenau, looking up at the sky,
across which the clouds were now scarcely moving.

Uncle Mark inquired why he did not bring his camp nearer the settlement.

"I will tell you," answered Kepenau.  "Though I have been ever friendly
with the white men, and value the advantages to be obtained from them,
there is one thing for which I fear them,--their accursed `fire water.'
Already it has slain thousands of my people, or reduced them to a state
lower than the brutes which perish; and I know not whether my young men
would resist the temptation were it placed in their way."

"But all the white men do not sell the `fire water' of which you speak,"
observed Uncle Mark.  "I have none in my hut."

"But while one among you possesses the poison, and is ready to barter it
with my people, the harm may be done," answered Kepenau.  "Until I am
sure that none of the `fire water' exists in your settlement, I will not
allow my people to come near it."

"I am afraid, then, that you will fail to civilise them, as you desire,"
observed Uncle Mark.

"Do you call it civilising them, to teach them the vices of the white
men?" exclaimed the Indian in a tone of scorn.  "If so, then I would
rather that they remained savages, as you call them, than obtain
knowledge at such a price."

"I believe that you are right," answered Uncle Mark, as we bade our host
and his family good-bye; "and I have learned more than one lesson from
you."

Kepenau accompanied us to the bank of the river; where we put on our
skates, and continued our course without interruption till we caught
sight of several thin wreaths of smoke above the tops of the trees.

"Sure, that smoke must come from the lumberers' fires," observed Mike.

"Such is probably the case; but it is just possible that it may proceed
from a camp of Indians, who might not be so friendly as those we left
this morning," said my uncle.

Still we were not to be stopped, and on we skated.  Even should we meet
enemies, we had not much cause to fear them, unless they possessed
firearms.  On we went, I say, gliding along at the rate of ten or twelve
miles an hour; and as I had never before had an opportunity of
performing so great a distance, I enjoyed it amazingly.

As we advanced we caught sight of numerous logs of timber hauled out
into the middle of the stream.  Shortly afterwards the sound of voices
reached our ears, and we saw a number of men scattered about--some
engaged, with gleaming axes, in felling trees; others with horses
dragging the trunks, placed on sleighs, over the hard snow on to the
ice.  They were there arranged alongside each other, and bound together
so as to form numerous small rafts.  Here they would remain until the
giving way of the frost; when, on the disappearance of the ice, they
would be floated down towards the mouth of the river and towed across
the lake to the various saw-mills on its banks.

We were glad to be welcomed by the "boss;" who at once engaged Uncle
Mark and Mike to hew, while I was to undertake the less onerous task of
driving a team.

The shores of the river had been already pretty well cleared of large
timber, so that I had to bring the trunks from some distance.

Uncle Mark and Laffan soon showed that they were well practised axemen.

Our companions were to spend some months engaged in the occupation I
have described; till the return of spring, in fact, when, the rafts
being put together, they would descend the river till rapids or
cataracts were reached.  The rafts would then be separated, and each log
of timber, or two or three together at most, would be allowed to make
their way as they best could down the fall, till they reached calm water
at the foot of it; when they would be again put together, and navigated
by the raftsmen guiding them with long poles.  In some places, where
rough rocks exist in the rapids by which the timber might be injured,
slides had been formed.  These slides are channels, or rather canals, as
they are open at the top; and are constructed of thick boards--just as
much water being allowed to rush down them as will drive on the logs.
Some of these slides are two hundred feet long; others reach even to the
length of seven hundred feet.  The timbers are placed on cribs,--which
are frames to fit the slides,--then, with a couple of men on them to
guide their course, when they get through they shoot away at a furious
rate down the inclined plane, and without the slightest risk of injury.

When evening approached we all assembled in a huge shanty, which had
been built under the shelter of the thick bush.  Round it were arranged
rows of bunks, with the cooking-stove in the centre, which was kept
burning at all hours, and served thoroughly to warm our abode.  On each
side of the stove were tables, with benches round them.  Here we took
our meals; which, although sufficient, were not too delicate,--salt pork
being the chief dish.  Rough as were the men, too, they were tolerably
well-behaved; but quarrels occasionally took place, as might have been
expected among such a motley crowd.

On the first evening of our arrival Mike's fiddle attracted universal
attention, and he was, of course, asked to play a tune.

"Why thin, sure, I will play one with all the pleasure in life," he
answered.  "And, sure, some of you gintlemen will be afther loiking to
take a dance;" and without more ado he seated himself on the top of a
bench at the further end of the shanty, and began to scrape away with
might and main, nodding his head and kicking his heels to keep time.
The effect was electrical.  The tables were quickly removed to the sides
of the shanty; and every man, from the "boss" downwards, began shuffling
away, circling round his neighbour, leaping from the ground, and
shrieking at the top of his voice.

When Mike's fiddle was not going, our lumbering companions were wont to
spin long yarns, as we sat at the supper-table.  Several of them had
worked up the northern rivers of Canada, where the winter lasts much
longer than it does in the district I am describing; and among these was
a fine old French Canadian, Jacques Michaud by name, who had come south
with a party, tempted by the prospect of obtaining a pocketful of
dollars.  He stood six feet two inches in his stockings; and his
strength was in proportion to his size.  At the same time, he was one of
the most good-natured and kind-hearted men I ever met.

Among our party were several rough characters; and it happened that one
evening two of them fell out.  They were about to draw their knives,
when Jacques seized each of them in his vice-like grasp, and, holding
them at arm's-length, gradually lifted them off the ground.  There he
kept them; mildly expostulating,--now smiling at one, and now at the
other,--till they had consented to settle their dispute amicably; he
then set them on their legs again, and made them shake hands.

This man took a great fancy to Mike.  "Ah, I do wish all your countrymen
were like you," he observed, smiling benignantly on him; "but they are
generally very different, especially when they get the grog on board:
then they often lose their lives,--and all their own fault, too.

"I had come down the Ottawa with several rafts, some two hundred miles
or more.  My own raft was manned by Canadians,--steady boys, who stuck
to our laws, whatever they do to those of other people, and kept sober
till they brought their raft safe into dock.  Another raft was manned
chiefly by Irishmen,--who, although I warned them, would indulge in
strong drink.  We were nearing the Chaudiere Falls, and I had brought my
raft safe to shore, where it was taken to pieces, so that the logs might
be sent down the slide.  I had gone on to a point where I could watch
this being done, when I heard loud cries; and on looking up the river I
saw that part of another raft, with four men on it, had got adrift, and,
to my horror, was hurrying towards the most dangerous part of the
rapids.  I saw at once that in a few moments it must be dashed to
pieces, and, as I thought, the fate of the four unfortunates on it was
surely sealed.

"On it hurried, whirling round and round amid the foaming waters.  The
next instant dashing against the rocks, it separated into as many
fragments as there were timbers, each of which was whirled down towards
the falls.  Three of the poor wretches soon disappeared among the
tossing waves; but the fourth clung to the end of a piece of timber with
the grasp of despair--to that end which reached nearly to the edge of
the cataract.  A fearful position!  Still, the Irishman held on.  I was
almost sure that the next moment would be his last; but just then the
current turned the log, so that the opposite end pointed to the fall.
On it went, with even greater rapidity than at first; then balancing for
an instant on the brink, the end to which he held was lifted up high in
the air, and he was sent from it as from a catapult, far out into the
calm water below the caldron!  I never expected again to see him, but he
rose uninjured to the surface; and being a good swimmer, struck out
boldly till he was picked up by one of several canoes which put off
instantly to his assistance.  Tim Nolan, I have a notion, was the first
man who ever came over those terrific falls and lived; and I would not
advise any of you young fellows to try the experiment, for, in my
opinion, he is the last who will ever do so and escape destruction."

Such was one of the many anecdotes I heard from the lips of old Jacques
and our other associates.

I was not sorry when, after some weeks, Uncle Mark told me that he had
made up his mind to return home.  Mike had agreed to finish a job which
would occupy him a day or so longer; but as Uncle Mark was anxious to be
off, it was settled that he and I should start together, leaving the
rifle with Mike, as he would have to come on alone.  We believed that no
animals were likely at that season to attack two people; besides, Uncle
Mark had purchased a pair of pistols from Jacques Michaud, which he
considered would be sufficient for our defence.  Accordingly, pocketing
our dollars and slinging our wolf-skin knapsacks over our backs, we put
on our skates and commenced our journey.

We got on famously, for the air was calm, although the cold was intense.
We found our friend Kepenau, too, encamped where we had left him; and
stopping for a short time, we took our mid-day meal with him.  As we had
made such good progress during the morning, we hoped to reach the hut
before midnight, for the moon was up, and we could not miss our way.
Uncle Mark was in good spirits, well satisfied with the result of our
expedition, and we laughed and chatted as we glided over the smooth ice.

"We must not forget our wolf-skin," I observed.  "We shall get up to the
spot before daylight is over, and I would rather carry it on my back
than leave it behind."

"I shall not let you do that," answered my uncle.  "It will weigh less
on my shoulders than on yours."

We were approaching a part of the river where, the ice having formed
before the snow fell, we should be compelled to take off our skates and
travel on foot.  I had just remarked that I supposed the wolves had gone
off to some other district, where game was more abundant than with us,
when a howl reached our ears, coming down the stream, from the very
direction in which we were going.  Another and another followed.
Presently we heard the full chorus of a whole pack, and soon we caught
sight of numerous dark spots on the white snow in the distance.

Uncle Mark watched them for an instant or two.  "We must beat a retreat,
Roger, or the brutes will be upon us.  We cannot hope to fight our way
through them.  Off we go!" and turning round, we skated away for dear
life in the direction from whence we had come.

We hoped soon to distance the savage creatures; in which case, losing
sight and scent of us, they might turn off into the forest and leave the
road clear.  As we went on, however, we heard their cries becoming more
and more distinct; and casting a glance over our shoulders, we saw, to
our horror, that they had already gained considerably on us; for with
their light bodies they ran very quickly over the hard-frozen snow.

Forward we dashed, faster than I had ever skated before; but nearer and
nearer grew those terrible sounds.  When once, however, the wolves
reached the smooth ice, they were no longer able to run so fast as
before; still, they gradually gained on us, and we felt sure that ere
long they must be at our heels, as they were not now likely to give up
the chase.

"Never give up while life remains!  Keep on, keep on, Roger!" cried
Uncle Mark.  "My pistols will do for two of their leaders; our sticks
must knock over some of the others; and we must hope that the rest of
the pack will stop to devour their carcasses."

It might have been a quarter of an hour after this, although the time
appeared longer, when, looking round, I saw a dozen wolves at least
within twenty yards of us.

"We must try a dodge I have heard of," said Uncle Mark.  "When they get
near us we must wheel rapidly round, and as they cannot turn on the ice
so fast as we can, we shall gain on them."

We waited until the wolves were almost up to us, then we followed the
proposed plan.  The brutes, after rushing on a short distance, tried to
turn also.  In doing so, those behind tumbled over their leaders, and we
skated on as before.  We did this several times, until the cunning
wolves, perceiving our object, instead of turning kept straight forward.
Uncle Mark now drew one of his pistols, and as he skated round shot the
leading wolf.  It rolled over dead.  The next he treated in the same
manner.  We then brought our sticks down on the heads of several others.

As we had expected, their followers instantly began tearing away at the
dead bodies, and this enabled us to get some distance ahead of them.  I
was in hopes that they would be content with this feast, and allow us to
proceed unmolested; but before long our ears were again saluted with
their abominable howls, and we saw the survivors of the pack coming
along in full chase.

As we skated on Uncle Mark deliberately reloaded his pistols, observing,
"We shall have to play the same game over again, and I hope we shall
play it as well."

The wolves, however, seemed resolved not to let us escape.  They nearly
overtook us; and though we turned, skating away now to the right and now
to the left bank of the river, they declined imitating our example.

"Our best chance is to keep straight on," said Uncle Mark.  "Don't give
in, whatever you do.  Our legs are as strong as theirs, and they will
begin to get tired at last."

I was not so sure of that till, looking back for a moment, I saw that
the pack was drawn out into a long line, showing that some, at all
events--probably the younger animals--were losing wind.  If, however,
only one brute had succeeded in catching hold of our legs, it would have
been all up with us.

Fearfully depressing indeed were their howls; as they sounded close
behind us, they almost took the life out of me.  Two of the largest of
the brutes were not five yards from us, and I was already beginning to
feel as if their sharp fangs were fixed in the calves of my legs, when I
saw several figures in the distance, and faint shouts were borne on the
breeze towards us.

"Courage, Roger! courage!" cried Uncle Mark.  "Put forth all your
strength, and we shall be saved.  Those are friends."

As we moved on we perceived Kepenau and a number of Indians rushing
towards us, flourishing sticks, and shouting at the top of their voices.
Kepenau himself, and three others, were armed with rifles.

"Turn on one side," he shouted, "and let us aim at the wolves."

We followed his advice; when four rifle-shots sent over as many of the
howling brutes.  The rest, frightened by the shouts of the Indians as
much probably as by the death of their companions, turned off on one
side, and allowed us to escape.  Instead, however, of going back, they
continued their course down the river.  Probably they had been bound in
that direction when they first winded us.

We were saved; but so overcome were we by our long-continued violent
exertions, that, had not our Indian friends caught us in their arms, we
should have sunk exhausted on the ice.  Taking off our skates, they
supported us between their arms to their camp.  Here, seated on mats,
with our feet before the fire, we were kindly tended by the squaws, who
rubbed our ankles and legs, and bathed our feet in water.  Some warm
broth--we did not examine too minutely the ingredients--quickly restored
us; and we were able to give an account of our adventure.

It was now too late to think of continuing our journey that night, so
the Indians pressed us to remain with them till the next morning;
promising to ascertain the direction taken by the pack of wolves, so
that we might not run the risk of again falling in with the hungry
brutes.

Kepenau would not allow us to use our own provisions,--observing that we
might want them the next day,--and he insisted on supplying us with
everything needful.

We slept soundly, but when I tried to get up next morning I felt little
able to continue the journey.  I did not so much feel the effects of the
exercise as of the anxiety I had so long endured.  Even Uncle Mark was
very stiff, and seemed inclined to enjoy a longer rest.

The Indians told us that during the night the wolves had come back;
probably to devour the carcasses of their slain companions.  It was
thought probable that they had returned up the river.  One of the men
went out to ascertain this, and on coming back told us that the first
surmise was correct--that the pack had indeed gone up the river, but
that it had afterwards gone down again, as was evident from the bloody
marks left by their feet.

Suddenly my uncle exclaimed: "By-the-by, Mike will be on his way home
some time to-day; and if so, it is more than possible that he may fall
in with the wolves!  Though he has a gun, it will go hard with him
should they follow his trail."

My uncle accordingly expressed his fears to Kepenau.

"Then we must set out to meet your white friend," said the Indian; "for
should he be coming over the ice to-day, the wolves are certain to espy
him."

Mike had told me that he would visit our Indian friends on the way, and
spend the night with them, should he start too late to perform the whole
distance in one day.  The recollection of this increased my apprehension
for his safety.

Kepenau said that he and four of the best-armed of his people would set
out early in the afternoon to look for our friend.  Of course, we
insisted on accompanying them; and being pretty well rested, we started
at the hour proposed.  We put on our skates, but the Indians kept pace
with us by running.

We went on and on, but no sign could we see of Mike.  It was already
getting dusk when Kepenau stopped and examined the ice.

"A man has passed this way," he said, "and has turned off to the right."

Telling one of his people to follow up the trail, he proceeded onwards,
narrowly scrutinising the ice.

"It is as I thought," he observed; "he was coming along on foot when he
saw a pack of wolves following him, and instead of continuing on the ice
he made his way for the shore, to try and reach a tree into which he
could climb--the wisest thing he could do."

Having made this remark, he led the way in the direction the other
Indian had taken.  He soon overtook him; but as darkness was increasing
we had to proceed slowly, so as not to lose the trail, which I was
utterly unable to perceive.  The banks here were of a low, marshy
nature, so that there were few trees about up which the fugitive could
have escaped.  I did not confidently expect to meet Mike on this
occasion, for he, I thought, would have come along on his skates,
whereas this person, the Indian said, was on foot.

We had not gone far when Kepenau stopped.  "That is the howl of wolves,"
he observed; "but it is accompanied by a curious sound, and they are not
howling in their usual fashion."

Advancing further, I could clearly distinguish the howling of the
wolves, accompanied by another sound.

"Why, as I am alive, those are the tones of Mike Laffan's fiddle!"
exclaimed Uncle Mark.  "He is safe, at all events--that is one comfort;
but it is a curious place to be playing in."

Kepenau now told us that the path we were following would lead us to the
ruins of an old fort, erected by the early French settlers, and that he
had little doubt our friend had found his way to it for refuge from the
wolves; but they had followed him, and were certainly not far off.

We hurried on, and as the sounds of the fiddle became more distinct, the
full moon rose from behind a dark mass which proved to be a ruined wall
of the building; and immediately afterwards, directly in front of us, we
discovered Mike Laffan seated on one of the time-worn and rickety beams
which had once formed part of the fort.  There he was, bow in hand,
fiddling with might and main; while below him were a whole pack of
wolves, their mouths open, singing an inharmonious chorus to his music.
So entranced were they, that the brutes actually did not discover us;
nor, so far as we could see, were they making any attempt to reach Mike.

At a sign from Kepenau we stopped; but Mike, though he had perceived us,
went on fiddling.  Presently he changed the tune to one of extraordinary
rapidity: this evidently astonished his vulpine audience, which began to
leap about.  Suddenly he exclaimed, "Now! shout, friends, shout! and we
shall put the spalpeens of wolves to flight."  As we raised our voices
he made his instrument produce the most fearful shrieks and cries, while
he uttered at the same time a true Irish howl.

Mike's plan had the desired effect.  The wolves, bewildered by the
strange sounds, were seized with terror, and off they scampered like a
pack of curs, howling and biting at each other as they rushed along
towards the forest, in which they soon disappeared.

Mike on this jumped down from his perch, laughing heartily, and thanked
us all for having come to his assistance.  Of course, our opportune
appearance had very much astonished him; but we soon explained matters,
and expressed our hope that he was none the worse for his adventure.

"Sorra a bit," he answered, "except that I am mighty cowld, sitting up
there among the snow for so long; but I'll soon be afther warming my
limbs."

Saying this he set off with us, and at a rapid rate we retraced our
steps to the Indian camp.  We were all glad enough to turn in; and next
morning our friends, after examining the country around, assured us that
the wolves were not likely to follow our footsteps.

My uncle had taken a great liking to Kepenau, and invited him to come
and pitch his camp near us; promising to supply him with powder and
shot, and also to assist him in trading with the white men so that no
risk might be run of whisky being given in exchange for game and furs.
Kepenau said he would think about the matter.

One of the young squaws who happened to be present was his daughter.  On
hearing of the invitation, she begged her father to accept it.  She was
far superior to the other Indian women in appearance; and although not
so old as Lily, she was taller than any of them.  Her complexion was of
the lightest olive, through which rich colour could be seen on her
cheeks.  She was, indeed, fairer than many Europeans.  Her figure was
extremely graceful, too.  I did not, however, observe this when I first
saw her, for she was then dressed in her thick blanket robe.  Her name
was Ashatea, or "White Poplar;" a very suitable name, as I thought.  She
had seen Lily, I found, two or three times, before they had moved
westward; and she longed, she told me, to meet her again, and begged
that I would tell Lily so when I returned home.  It was this that made
her so anxious that her father and his tribe should come and camp near
us.

Before we started, Kepenau had almost promised to come, though he would
not bind himself to do so.  "Circumstances might change," he observed.
"He was well located where his camp was pitched, and it was trying work
to change quarters at that season of the year."

Ashatea accompanied us, with her people, down to the ice.  "Do not
forget," she said, "my message to your sister Lily."

"You may trust me," I answered, making her a bow--for I felt that she
was a lady, although an Indian squaw; then off we set, hoping this time
to reach home before nightfall.  Having completely recovered from our
fatigue, we got on famously.  Mike did not forget to secure the
wolf-skin; and just as the sun sank behind the trees, we were saluted by
the sharp, joyous barking of Snap, Yelp, and Pop, and by the gruffer
tones of Quambo, who rushed out of the hut to welcome us home.

We had plenty of work to do after we returned home, but I managed to
make a run over to the settlement to pay a visit to my uncle and aunt
and Lily.  I did not fail to give her Ashatea's message; and she was
much pleased to hear of her.

"I do hope they will come into our neighbourhood; I should be so glad to
see her again," said Lily.  "Ashatea promised to take me out in her
canoe; for, you know, she is as expert as any of the men in paddling
one.  She wished to show me how the Indians catch fish.  And then she
said that when the rice was ripe we should go to the rice-lake to
collect it.  I hope that Aunt Hannah won't object.  It would be very
interesting; and there could be no possible danger, as all the Indians
in this part of the country are friendly.  But, to tell you the truth,
Roger, I am quite jealous of you, as you are now able to go out into the
forest by yourself, and meet with all sorts of adventures; whilst I,
alas! am compelled to stay at home, with no other amusement than
occasionally a `sewing' or an `apple bee.'"

I, of course, sympathised with Lily, and said that I wished Aunt Hannah
would let her come out with me, and that I should take very great care
of her.

"I am afraid that she thinks we are now too old to run about together as
we used to do, when you were a boy and I was a girl," she answered.

"I wish, then, that we were young again!"  I exclaimed; "although I
should not then be able to take as much care of you as I can now.  I
would sooner die, Lily, than allow any harm to happen to you."

"That I am sure you would, Roger," she said; "and I should not be afraid
to trust myself with you anywhere."

We were not very old even then, I should remark: but I was feeling
myself a man, and was ready to do all sorts of manly things.

"By-the-by," observed Lily, "we have become intimate with a family among
the settlers who arrived last fall,--Mr and Mrs Claxton, and Dora
their daughter, a very nice girl of my age, and a great friend of mine.
Dora has a brother called Reuben, and I think you will like him.
Although he is younger than you are, he seems to be a fine fellow, and
has your taste for natural history and sporting."

"I shall be very glad to meet with him; but I have not time to look him
up now, as I must get back to the hut.  But you may tell him about me;
and say that, if he will come over, I shall be happy to take him out
into the forest, where we can have a hunt together."

Although I had said that I must go immediately, I lingered for some time
with Lily, for I never was in a hurry to leave her.  It was consequently
quite dark before I got half-way to the hut; still, I knew the path--
indeed, there was only one.  The snow, however, thickly covered the
ground, and I had to guide myself by feeling the scores on the trunks of
the trees.  Had every tree been thus marked, there would have been no
great difficulty; but, of course, they were scored only at intervals,
and sometimes I was uncertain whether I had not somehow got out of the
direct line.  I knew that, did I once go wrong, it would be a hard
matter, if not impossible, to find my way back again.  There might be
wolves prowling about, too; or I might by chance find myself in the
grasp of a hungry bear, bent on a visit to the hog-pens in the
settlement.  Intending to return early, I had left without my gun--an
act of folly I resolved not to repeat.  Should I lose myself, I should
have no means of making a signal, and I might very possibly be frozen to
death before the morning.

I had gone some distance without finding a score, and I began to fear
that I really had lost myself; but it would not do to stand still, so I
walked on; and greatly to my relief, as I touched tree after tree, I at
length felt a scored one, and knew that I was in the right direction.
Presently a light appeared ahead.  I ran towards it, shouting at the top
of my voice.  A welcome halloo came from Mike, who was standing, with a
pine torch in his hand, at the door of the hut.

Two days after this, a tall lad, of fair complexion, made his appearance
at the hut, gun in hand, and introduced himself as Reuben Claxton.
"Miss Lily, who is a great friend of my sister Dora, told me that you
would be glad to see me; and so I have come, and I should much like to
have a hunt with you in the forest," he said abruptly.

It was his way, I found.  He always went directly to the point, whether
in talking or in doing anything: and I liked him the better for that.

Uncle Mark invited him to stay with us.

"I said that I would if you asked me, so they will not be expecting me
at home again," he answered.

In ten minutes we were on as friendly terms as if we had known each
other all our lives.  Next day we started with our guns, accompanied by
Mike and Quambo, and our three dogs.  The sky was bright, the air calm,
and, except for the snow and the leafless trees, we might have supposed
ourselves to have been in the middle of summer.

We had not gone far when we caught sight of an animal making its way
along the trunk of a fallen tree.  I soon recognised it to be a marten,
and was just going to fire, when I perceived another creature coming out
of a hole hard by.  The former animal was evidently bent on attacking
the latter.  The marten immediately stopped, and carefully eyed the
hermit, the character of which I could not at first make out on account
of the distance it was from us.  Quambo would probably have known, but
he and Mike were some way behind us.  Of the marten I had no doubt; I
recognised it by its agile and graceful movements, by its length, which
was about a foot and a half, with a bushy tail somewhat under a foot
long, and by its dark tawny coat and white throat, its pointed muzzle,
and bright and lively eyes.  We stopped to watch what would take place,
keeping back the dogs, which were about to rush forward and seize the
animals.

The marten soon made up its mind to assault its opponent, which, instead
of retreating into its hole, came boldly forward and ascended the fallen
trunk.  I at once saw that it was an "urson," or porcupine; although my
companion supposed it to be another animal, as he could not see the long
quills with which the English porcupine is armed.  This creature was
fully two feet long.  Its back was covered with thick hair of a dusky
brown colour; its head was short, and its nose blunt; it had small round
ears, very powerful teeth, short limbs, and feet armed with strong
crooked claws.  These particulars I was afterwards able to exhibit to
him.

The porcupine stood eyeing its opponent for nearly a minute; then the
marten began the attack by showing its teeth, erecting its hairs, and
springing forward with graceful bounds.  At the same time the porcupine,
erecting an armour of quills, which had till then been concealed under
its thick hair, appeared all at once to become twice its former size.
The marten had too much impetus to stop its attempt to seize the
porcupine by the snout; but the latter, suddenly whisking round, dealt
the marten a tremendous blow with its tail, filling its body with short
darts, and sending it off the trunk sprawling among the snow.

The marten was now animated by rage as well as by the desire to capture
its foe.  It again sprang up, ran along the boughs of the fallen tree,
and advanced once more towards the porcupine; but its courage and
agility did not avail it.  Another blow from that formidable tail cast
it once more into the snow; while the porcupine looked down with
contempt on its defeated antagonist.  Reuben, taking good aim with his
rifle, put the marten out of misery; while I killed the victorious
porcupine.  The dogs then rushed forward; but Snap, the most eager, had
reason to repent his eagerness, as before we could keep him off the
animal he had received several sharp quills in his jaws.  These we
immediately extracted, but he never again attempted to seize either a
living or a dead porcupine.

We killed another marten and some squirrels, and were returning home
just at sundown, when we met Uncle Mark, who had followed our trail--no
difficult thing to do over the snow, even for a white man.  He had just
before caught sight of an opossum, which had escaped him.  It had
evidently paid a visit to our poultry-yard a short time previously, and
having succeeded in carrying off one of the inhabitants, was making its
way with its prey to its mate or hungry family when Uncle Mark overtook
it.  He had knocked it over with his stick, and supposed it dying or
dead, as it lay with open mouth, extended tongue, and dim eyes.  At that
moment he had caught sight of a marten or some other animal moving
through the forest.  The creature thereupon proved that it was only
"'possuming;" for the instant his eye was withdrawn it sprang up, and
set off at a rate which showed that its powers of locomotion, at least,
had not been impaired by the blows it had received.

He was telling us this, when the dogs began to yelp, and presently right
ahead of us appeared a creature of the size of a large cat.

"Dere a 'possum," exclaimed Quambo; and we hurried after it with the
dogs.

"Master 'Possum" was not going to be caught so easily, however.  In an
instant it was up a tree, and lost to sight amid the branches, while the
dogs yelped around it.

"The creature is lost," cried Reuben.

"No fear ob dat," answered Quambo.  "We soon find him out."

Then he and Mike, with the rest of us, began to collect all the decayed
branches to be found above the snow.  We soon bad enough wood for a
fire; when Quambo striking a light, it quickly blazed up, and the flames
exhibited the opossum making its way along one of the branches.  The
dogs leaped about, and yelped loudly.  Quambo had thrown himself on the
ground to watch the animal's proceedings; for the moment we had
attempted to take aim, it had nimbly sprung round to the dark side,
apparently watching us as eagerly as we were watching it.  Mike on this
hurried off to a little distance and lifted his rifle.  He fired, and
down came the opossum.

The dogs seized it, and in a few moments life was extinct.  There was no
shamming now, though the Irishman gave it another blow, after we had
taken off the dogs, just to make sure.  He having slung it over his
back, we put out the fire to prevent the risk of igniting the trees, and
proceeded homewards well content with our evening's sport.

It was the last idle day we had for some time, for we had an abundance
of work to get through before the return of spring, which was now
rapidly approaching.  It was the least pleasant time of the year, too;
for we had thaws of two or three days at a time, during which the
hardened snow was turned into slush.  Then frost would come on again,
and hold the timber with such a grasp that we could not move it.  We
occupied the time in putting up sheds, and in such other work as could
be done before the ground was clear.  No one, however, complained; for
we knew that the snow would soon disappear, that the leaves would again
come forth, and that the rivers would be open, when we should be able to
move about much more rapidly in our canoes than we had done over the
frozen ground.



CHAPTER FOUR.

UNCLE MARK'S GOOD OPINION OF REUBEN--MIKE LAFFAN'S FIDDLE--THE BEAVER--
REUBEN'S DESIRE TO TURN TRAPPER--QUAMBO TAKES A PIPE--KEPENAU'S CANOE--
ASHATEA PADDLES REUBEN HOME--KEPENAU'S SAGACITY--UNCLE MARK WELCOMES
KEPENAU AND HIS DAUGHTER--THE OLD TRAPPER--REUBEN CARRIES SAMSON'S
PACK--ASHATEA IS TAUGHT ENGLISH BY LILY AND DORA--MARTIN GODFREY'S VISIT
TO THE SETTLEMENT--KEPENAU'S AND ASHATEA'S DEPARTURE--SANDY MCCOLL, THE
HALF-BREED--A VISIT TO KEPENAU--PORTAGING.

The summer had now come.  The trees were all decked with their rich and
varied foliage; the notes of the feathered inhabitants were heard in the
forest; and numerous animals which had either gone south during the
winter, or had concealed themselves in sheltered places, were moving
about.  There had been too much ploughing and sowing to allow of my
indulging in my favourite pursuits.  All I could do was to run over and
pay my uncle and aunt a visit; but it may be that Lily was the chief
attraction.

I found her friend Dora with her one day.  She was certainly a very nice
girl, although not equal to Lily by a long way, in my opinion.  They
inquired whether we had seen anything of Kepenau and his daughter
Ashatea.

"They have not yet appeared," I answered; "nor have we received any
tidings of them."

"Dora wants to make the acquaintance of a real Indian girl, fit to be a
heroine," said Lily, laughing.  "She has hitherto only seen the wretched
squaws who appear in the Eastern States.  She can scarcely believe that
Ashatea is the interesting creature I describe her."

I said that I would try to communicate with Kepenau, if I could learn
his whereabouts from any passing Indians.

"Oh do!" said Lily; "and let him understand how glad we shall be to see
him and his daughter again."

While we were talking Reuben came in, and offered to accompany me back
to the hut.  He, like me, had been very busy all the spring.  He
certainly did not look well suited for hard labour; but his face was
more bronzed than heretofore, and he seemed perfectly well.  Wishing the
girls good-bye, we shouldered our guns, and commenced the walk to the
hut.  There was no risk of losing our way at this time, for the days
were long, and there was a bright moon that evening.

Uncle Mark welcomed Reuben, whom he liked for his straightforward
character and honesty.

"I am glad you have got such a companion as that young fellow," he said
to me.  "When two harum-scarum fellows associate, they are sure to get
into trouble; but you two will help each other out of difficulties,
should you unexpectedly fall into them."

Mike amused us that evening with a tune on his fiddle; and Quambo
diverted us still more by a dance he performed to the music, which made
Reuben, who was not addicted to laughing, almost split his sides.

We agreed to have a long ramble into the forest next day, my uncle
giving me leave of absence.  He could not spare Mike, but he allowed
Quambo to accompany us.

"We can cook our dinner without him," I said; "though, to be sure, we
cannot expect to dress it as well as he would."

"Ah!  Massa Mark, poor black fellow do one t'ing well; you do ebery
t'ing well," observed Quambo, with a grimace, by which he intended to
show that he was paying a deserved compliment.

We carried our guns, with provisions in our knapsacks to last us for a
day, although we expected to kill more game than we should want.  As we
wished to make a long excursion, we started at daybreak; that is to say,
Reuben, Quambo, and I, with the dogs.  Reuben had a great desire to see
a beaver settlement which I had once visited when we first came into
that part of the country; and I thought that I could find my way to it.
Quambo amused us, as we walked along, with all sorts of tales about
beavers, raccoons, opossums, bears, and other animals, with the habits
of which he was well acquainted.

The beaver is a good-sized animal, being two and a half feet long
exclusive of the tail, which is one foot more.  It is of a deep chestnut
colour; the hair very fine, smooth, and glossy.  The Indians use its
incisor teeth, which are very large and hard, to cut the bone or horn
with which they tip their spears.  It is a rodent, or gnawing animal.
It has a broad, horizontal, flattened tail, nearly of an oval form,
which is covered with scales.  The hind feet are webbed, and, with the
aid of the tail, which acts as a rudder, enable it to swim through the
water with ease and rapidity.  Except in one respect, I do not know that
it can be considered a sagacious animal; but it is a marvellous
engineer, its faculties being employed in building houses, and in
forming dams for the protection of its village.

One of its chief characteristics is the power it possesses of producing
a substance termed "castor,"--which is contained in two bags, each about
the size of a hen's egg.  This castor is peculiarly attractive to
beavers.  They scent it at a distance, and invariably make their way
towards it.  No sooner does the beaver discover the delicious odour than
he sits upright, sniffs about in every direction, and squeals with
excitement until he can get up to it.  The trapper, knowing this, always
carries a supply of castor, or bark-stone; and when he reaches a stream
or any other water near which he believes beavers may be found, he sets
his trap, about six inches under the water.  He then chews the end of a
twig, dips it in the castor, and sticks it in with the scented end
uppermost, just a little above the water.  The nearest beaver, on
discovering the scent, hurries up to the spot; and, if a young animal,
is nearly certain to be caught by the trap.  The older beavers are more
knowing and cautious, and frequently bite off the end of the twig
without entangling themselves.

Another curious circumstance connected with this "castoreum" is, that as
soon as one beaver has deposited any of it on the ground, the beavers
from another lodge go to the spot, and after covering it with earth and
leaves, deposit their own "castoreum" on it.  When they have gone away,
others in turn perform the same operation; and thus the process goes on
till a heap four or five feet in height has been raised.  No one has as
yet been able to ascertain the object of this proceeding.  It gives the
trapper, however, the means of catching the poor creatures--means which
they would undoubtedly withhold, if they had the power.  Like human
beings, they are sufferers from their own acts.

The teeth of the beavers are sharp and powerful, and their jaws possess
an extraordinary amount of strength.  This enables them to bite through
wood, tear the bark from trees, and chew vegetable substances of all
sorts.  During summer they regale themselves on fruits and plants of
various descriptions; but their winter stock of food consists of the
bark of the birch, plane, and other trees--and even of the young wood
itself, which they steep in water before devouring it.

Their favourite resort is a stream or a pool near trees.  Here they will
assemble to the number of some hundreds, living in communities, and
working together.  They select, when they can, a stream with a current,
because it affords them the means of conveying wood and other materials
for their habitations.  They choose such parts as will afford them depth
of water sufficient to resist the frost in winter, and prevent it
freezing to the bottom.  When, however, they find that there is not
depth enough for this purpose, they build a dam across the stream, at a
convenient distance below their habitations.  If the current is gentle,
the dam is made perfectly straight; but if rapid, it is constructed with
a considerable curve, the convex side being towards the upper part of
the stream.  The materials employed are drift wood, green willows,
birch, and poplar; these are placed horizontally, and kept down by mud
and stones.  So strong do these dams become, that they are capable of
resisting a considerable force both of water and ice; for generally the
wood, taking root, shoots upwards, and forms ultimately a thick hedge.
In some cases even trees sprout up, in the branches of which the birds
form their nests.

Beavers build their houses of the same materials as their dams, and of
various sizes, according to the number of the inmates.  These, however,
do not often exceed four or eight old ones, and from six to fourteen
young ones.  The houses are of a circular form, elevated some feet above
the surface of the water; but the entrance is always low down beneath
it.  They are more rudely constructed than the dams, too.  The wood is
laid nearly horizontally, and crosswise; the branches, which project
inwards, they cut off with their teeth.  First there is a layer of wood,
and then one of mud and stones; and so they work on till a sufficient
height is gained, when the roof, of rough branches, is placed on the
top, and plastered down with mud and stones.

Such was the interesting account which Quambo gave us as we walked
along.

No event worthy of description occurred during our walk, though it took
us some hours to reach the spot for which I was directing our course.

I was not disappointed.  As we approached it cautiously, we caught sight
of several beavers running about on the banks of the stream, some
nibbling away at the trunks of saplings and small trees which they were
engaged in felling.  Had we fired, we might have killed two or three;
but the rest would have disappeared, and we should then have lost the
opportunity of observing them.  We therefore crept on, concealing
ourselves among the thick underwood.

At length I was afraid, should we get closer, that we might make some
noise and alarm the animals.  I therefore made a sign to my companions
to stop; and looking down, we could discern one of the dams I have
spoken of carried across the stream from one side to the other, and
apparently not quite finished.  Though several beavers were running
about it, they were not at work; indeed, all their operations are
carried on during darkness.  Nature, of course, has given them the
instinct to work at this time, which saves them the destruction that
would otherwise probably overtake them, both from men and beasts.

After watching them for some time, I wished to retire and let them amuse
themselves undisturbed; but Quambo took it into his head to give a loud
shout, when in an instant the startled creatures scampered off, and
dived under the water.  Our chance of seeing more of them was gone; they
were evidently on the watch for us, for now and then I saw a snout
popping up above the surface, to ascertain if we had taken our
departure.

We made our way along the banks of the stream for some distance, till we
saw before us a broad expanse of water; and we discovered that it was a
shallow lake or pond, bordered by reeds, and with numerous dead trees
rising up out of the water near its shores.  It struck me that this lake
had been produced by the beaver-dams; and on our proceeding downwards
towards what appeared to be its outlet, we found what had the appearance
of being a long bank, of a convex form, stretched directly across the
stream.  This, on further examination, I had no doubt was the work of
beavers.  Alders and willows, and other water-loving trees of
considerable size, were growing out of it; and digging down to a slight
depth, we found that it consisted of lengths of the trunks of young
trees, now rapidly decaying and turning into a vegetable mould, thus
affording nourishment to all sorts of plants.

Above the surface of the lake were numerous beaver-houses, and after we
had concealed ourselves for some time we caught sight of the inhabitants
coming forth and swimming about; while one or two knowing old fellows
climbed to the roof of their houses, to keep a look-out, as we supposed,
and give notice of approaching danger.  We might have shot several, but
without the dogs we should not have been able to recover them.  Indeed,
their skins would have been of much less value than those caught in
traps.  After watching them for some time, then, we agreed that we ought
to be on our homeward way, or we should certainly be benighted.  Though
we had found the path easily enough in daylight, it would be a hard
matter to do so in the dark.

"I should very much like to turn trapper," said Reuben to me as we
walked along.  "I once heard a good deal about the lives the trappers
lead, from a fine old man who stopped at our house one night, on his way
to dispose of his packs of skins at one of the fur-traders' posts."

"I suspect that it must be a very hard life, and you would soon get
tired of it, Reuben," I answered.

"As to that, I fancy that when I got accustomed to the hardships I
should like it more and more; but I would be a trapper on my own hook--
have my own animals and traps, hunt where I chose, and sell my peltries
to whom I pleased.  Our old friend had a horse and two mules.  He rode
the horse, and the mules served to carry his packs.  He had six traps,
which he carried in a leathern bag called his trap-sack.  I was
particularly struck by his appearance as he rode up to our cottage.  His
costume was a hunting-shirt of dressed buckskin, ornamented with long
fringes; pantaloons of the same material, decorated with
porcupine-quills hanging down the outside of the leg.  He wore moccasins
on his feet, and a flexible felt hat upon his head.  Under his right
arm, and suspended from his left shoulder, hung his powder-horn and
bullet-pouch, in which he carried balls, flint, and steel His long
knife, in a sheath of buffalo, hung from a belt round his waist--made
fast to it by a steel chain.  Also, he carried a tomahawk; and slung
over his shoulder was his long heavy rifle; while from his neck hung his
pipe-holder, garnished with beads and porcupine-quills.

"He had come many hundreds of miles from the west, having trapped as far
off as the Rocky Mountains, and had met with all sorts of adventures
among the Indians, from whom he had often narrowly escaped with his
life.  He said that he would take me with him, as he much wanted a
companion, and would answer for my life with his own; though I should
run no more risk than he did, if I only followed his directions.  But my
father would not hear of it, and was quite angry with the old man for
putting the idea into my head; so, of course, I had to give it up.

"`Well, Reuben, my boy,' he said as he rode away, `should your father
change his mind, and you hold fast to yours, when I come back I will
take you with me.'

"But he never has come back since."

I laughed at Reuben's notion; for, knowing him as I did, I saw that he
was utterly unfit for the sort of life he proposed to lead, and would be
heartily sick of it before long.  He had a fertile imagination, and had
pictured a trapper's life as something very delightful, although I was
sure he would in reality hate it.  And I believe that is the case with
many other boys,--especially with those who take it into their head to
go to sea, and who have never been on board a ship, and know nothing
whatever of sea-life.

We had now performed the greater part of our journey home, and had
reached the bank of the larger river, where it extended into lake-like
dimensions, narrowing again shortly to its former width.  Here several
rocks were seen rising out of it--the waters rushing between them with
great force, and forming a cataract, down which I should have thought it
impossible for the strongest boat to make its way without being dashed
to pieces.

At this point we sat down on the bank to rest and take some refreshment,
when Quambo pulled out his pipe.

"You no smoke, young gen'lemen; but ole neegur, he fond of baccy, and
you no object," said Quambo.

Quambo was always a pattern of politeness.  We begged him to smoke as
much as he liked, although we had not taken to it ourselves.

When Quambo was enjoying his pipe, he was never in a hurry to move, so
we sat on longer than we should otherwise have done.  I considered, at
length, that it was time to move; when, looking up the stream, across
the broad expanse I have mentioned, I caught sight of a light canoe
skimming rapidly over the surface.  It was approaching us; so, prompted
by curiosity, we agreed to wait its arrival at the shore--for it did not
occur to us it could possibly descend the rapids.  It kept, however, in
the middle of the current, and before we had got far from where we had
been sitting I saw that it was about to make its way amid the tumbling
waters.

"These people must be strangers, and cannot be aware of the danger they
are running," I observed.  "Their canoe will be destroyed, and we must
do our best to save them."

We accordingly hurried back.  As the canoe approached, I saw that there
were four people in her: one in the stern, and two in the bows paddling;
the other, who appeared to be a female, sitting near the after end, was
also dexterously using a paddle, now on one side and now on the other.
On looking again, I felt nearly sure that the Indian in the stern was
our friend Kepenau, and that the female was his daughter Ashatea.

I shouted, but it was too late to warn him to turn back; indeed, from
the calm way in which he sat, I was convinced that he well knew where he
was going: and almost before I had time to think much about the danger
my friends were running, they had passed it, and their canoe was
floating in the calm water at the foot of the rapids.

My shout attracted the notice of Kepenau, who at once recognised me, and
steered his canoe for the bank.  He and Ashatea stepped on shore, and
seemed much pleased at seeing me.  I introduced Reuben, who made as
polite a bow to the Indian girl as he would have done to a princess.
She put out her hand, and in her broken language inquired if he had a
sister.  On his replying that such was the case, Ashatea expressed a
hope that she would become a friend to her, as Lily was.

Kepenau told me that they were on their way to visit our settlement,
according to his promise.  "I thought it wisest," he said "to keep my
people at a distance, so we have fixed our camp on the banks of a stream
some miles to the westward; and as the rivers are now open, we can
easily hold communication with you.  At the same time, as there are
several intervening rapids and waterfalls, the white men are not likely
to find their way often to us, or to bring the `fire water' which I so
much dread."

On hearing that we were on our way home, he offered to accompany us;
observing that Ashatea could steer the canoe as well as he could, and
though the distance by the river was greater, she would not be long
after us.  "There are no more rapids or waterfalls to be passed, so that
the remainder of the voyage can be performed without danger," he
observed.

Reuben, on hearing this, asked leave to take his place, saying that he
should much like the trip by the river.

"But you cannot use a paddle," said Kepenau.

"Not very well," answered Reuben.

"Then don't make the attempt, or you may upset the canoe, or lose your
paddle.  If you go, you must sit perfectly quiet," said Kepenau.

Reuben promised to obey orders.  Ashatea smiled, and appeared to be
highly amused at the idea of having a white man as her passenger.

As we had no time to lose, Ashatea resumed her seat in the stern of the
canoe.

"Now, take care," she said, laughing, as she saw Reuben about to step
in, "else you will tumble over on the other side, or make a hole in the
canoe and go through it."

Reuben looked somewhat alarmed, and in his eagerness was very nearly
doing both the things against which he was being warned.  Kepenau,
however taking his arm, helped him in.

"Now, don't move till you reach the end of your voyage," said the
Indian.  "Perhaps we shall be there to help you out."

Ashatea gave a flourish with her paddle as a farewell signal, and
striking the water, away the canoe shot down the stream.  We meanwhile
took the path homewards, and as we were anxious to arrive before the
canoe we hurried forward.

Kepenau told me that his daughter had so much wished to see Lily,--or my
sister, as he called her,--that he had consented to bring her, and to
leave her for two or three days, if my friends would allow it.

I said that I was sure they would.

He desired, he told me, to make some trade arrangements for disposing of
the peltries which he and his people obtained; his object, at the same
time, being to keep them away from the white men, for fear of the "fire
water."  This subject was continually on his mind.  He had seen it prove
the destruction of so many of his countrymen, that he dreaded its
introduction among his own tribe, who had hitherto been kept free from
it.  However, as my uncles and Mr Claxton were men who never touched
liquor, he was not afraid of dealing with them.

I remarked, as we walked along, that his eyes were constantly turning in
every direction,--now on the ground, now on the trees and hushes on
either side,--as if he was on the look-out for game, or fancied that an
enemy was lurking near.  I at last inquired why he did this.

"It is the habit of my people," he answered.  "We never can tell whether
our foes may be before us or tracking our footsteps.  I noticed that
some one besides you and your young friend and the black has passed this
way lately.  He wore moccasins, and may therefore be a red man and an
enemy; but I have just discovered that he is one of your people, and has
a load on his shoulders.  Observe that soft ground; his feet sank deeper
into it than would have been the case had he been unencumbered.  He is
either an old man, or overcome with fatigue.  He cannot be very far
before us, and is going in the direction of your hut."  Kepenau pointed
as he spoke to some mossy ground, where I could just distinguish a faint
outline of the footsteps of a man; but I should have been unable to read
anything beyond that fact from the marks left behind.

Quambo, who saw them, thought that they might have been, after all, only
the footsteps of Uncle Mark or Mike, who might have come out thus far in
search of game; but Kepenau laughed when this was said.

"No, no," he answered; "these are moccasins.  You will see that I am
right."

We hurried on, for the sun was getting low, and already the gloom had
settled down in the recesses of the forest.

As we emerged into more open ground near the banks of the river, the
rays of the sun glancing along it sparkled on the flakes of foam, as the
stream hurried rippling along the banks.  Nearing the hut, we caught
sight of three figures standing in front of it.

"I told you so," observed Kepenau.  "Yonder is the man whose trail I
discovered.  A trapper, who has come east with his peltries.  He is an
old man, too, as I thought, and carried a heavy load."

Before even our friends saw us, the canoe shot into view down the
stream; and after helping Ashatea and Reuben to land--or rather the
latter, for the Indian girl sprang lightly on shore without assistance--
we proceeded to the hut.

Uncle Mark advanced to meet us.  "All friends are welcome," he said,
taking Kepenau's hand, and then greeting the young girl in his kind,
friendly way.  "You will, however, have to submit to pretty close
stowage, if, as I hope you intend to do, you will remain the night with
us."

"We can quickly put up sufficient shelter for this time of the year for
ourselves, so that we need not crowd you, my friend," answered the
Indian.  "And our aged brother there, I doubt not, is as well accustomed
to the open air as we are."

"Many days and nights have passed since I slept under a roof," observed
the old hunter, who, hearing himself mentioned, now came forward.  "We
have met before, brother," he added, looking at the Indian; "ay, and
fought and hunted together!  Don't you recollect me?"

"Ay, that I do.  You saved my life when the Apaches were about to take
my scalp, and enabled me to reach my horse and escape," answered
Kepenau.

"Ah!  I have a faint recollection of that; but I remember more clearly
how, when I was hunted by a party of Araphoes, you and your people came
sweeping down to my assistance, and put them to flight," replied the old
trapper.

"I recollect the event," observed Kepenau; "but I have long since buried
the war-hatchet, and now strive to live at peace with my neighbours, if
they will let me."

While the Indian and the old trapper had been speaking, I had been
looking at the latter.  I had no doubt, from the description Reuben had
given of the visitor to his father's house, that this was the same
person; and I was therefore not surprised to see him and Reuben shaking
hands as old acquaintances.

Quambo, knowing that food would be required for our guests, lost no
time, with the assistance of Mike, in lighting a fire, and immediately
set about cooking whatever his larder supplied.  Though we had killed
but little game on our excursion, Uncle Mark and Mike had been more
fortunate during our absence, and there was no lack of food.

In the meantime Kepenau had called up his people from the canoe, and
they set to work to collect materials for two small wigwams, which,
though they were more rudely constructed than usual, served the purpose
intended.  One was for the accommodation of Ashatea, and the other for
the chief--his men contenting themselves with a rough lean-to.

The whole party joined us in the hut at supper, which, thanks to the
diligence of Mike and Quambo, was quickly prepared.  The old trapper had
many anecdotes to tell, and many a wild adventure to recount, which, I
saw, was greatly interesting to Reuben.  Ashatea spoke but little,
though I could see, by her quick glance, that she understood much, if
not all, that was said.

At night the chief and his daughter retired to their wigwams, while the
old trapper accepted a shakedown in the corner of our hut.  He smiled
when Uncle Mark offered him a bed.  "For many a long year I have not
slept in one," he answered; "and I possibly may never again put my head
on a pillow softer than my saddle or a pack of skins."

Without taking off his clothes, and merely unbuckling his belt, he lay
down, and was soon fast asleep.  Reuben and I, after a few minutes'
talk, did the same.  Before I closed my eyes, however, I saw that Uncle
Mark was sitting at the table, resting his head upon his hands,
apparently lost in thought.

At break of day the next morning our Indian friends were on foot, and we
turned out to receive them.  As our hut was close, we had our breakfast
spread on a grassy spot beneath the trees, where we could enjoy fresh
air, which was certainly more suited to their taste.

Ashatea looked handsomer than ever.  She was eager to set out to see
Lily.  Reuben offered to accompany her, and show the way: at which
Kepenau laughed, observing that an Indian never required a guide through
his own country; but, for all that, he should be happy to have the white
stranger's society.

Kepenau had brought several packages of skins, which it was his object
to dispose of.

"My friend," said the old trapper, touching him on the shoulder, "let me
sell them for you.  I know how the white men will treat you if they
think that they are yours: they will offer a third of the value, and
then insist on your taking articles you do not require."

"I wish to open a fair trade with the white men," answered Kepenau.  "I
will let them understand that I have more skins to bring."

"The greater reason they will have for putting a small value on them,"
observed the old trapper.

"I would advise you to accept Samson Micklan's offer," said Uncle Mark,
turning to the Indian.

Kepenau considered the matter for some time.  "I will do as you advise,"
he said at length.  "I know that I can trust you.  When you have fixed a
price, I will not consent to sell under it.  I intend, nevertheless, to
go to the settlement."

The old trapper, whose name I now for the first time heard, appeared to
be in no hurry to continue his journey.  When at length he declared that
he was ready to start, Reuben offered to carry his pack.

Old Samson smiled.  "It may make your young shoulders ache more than you
suppose," he observed.

"Let me try," answered Reuben; and I helped him to place it on his
shoulders.  In doing so I was able to judge of its weight.

"If my uncle can spare me, I will assist you," I said; "for I doubt very
much whether you will be able to carry it all the way."

Reuben, however, had made up his mind to fulfil his promise.  I saw a
twinkle in the old man's eyes when he trudged off trying to look as if
he did not feel the weight.  My uncle told me I might go too, so we set
off.  Kepenau and Samson led the way, talking together.  Reuben, as I
expected, dropped alongside Ashatea; and I followed.  The other Indians
brought up the rear, carrying Kepenau's packs.

Before long, I saw that Reuben was walking with difficulty, and putting
his hands behind his back to try and lift the pack off his shoulders.  I
ranged up to him.

"You had better let me carry that a little way for you," I said.  "Or
suppose we sling it on our sticks! we shall then get along more easily,
and neither of us will feel the weight too much."

Still Reuben declared that he could carry it.

Ashatea looked at him, evidently understanding the matter as well as I
did.  "You better let your friend do as he says," she observed.

At length Reuben, who was getting very hot, and had stumbled more than
once, said, "Well, I do think it will be the best way.  I am much
obliged to you, Roger."

We soon had the pack slung to the sticks, and poor Reuben stepped along
much more easily than before.

We soon reached Uncle Stephen's house, when the old trapper turned round
to Reuben.  "You are a brave lad," he said; "I like your pluck.  In a
few years, when you get more muscle in your limbs, you will laugh at a
pack twice the weight of that."

Lily was delighted to see Ashatea, and we left them together while we
went on to Mr Claxton's, where old Samson intended to stay.  He had
arranged with Kepenau to sell his peltries, and the next day they were
all disposed of at a price which greatly astonished and delighted our
Indian friend.  He made an arrangement with Uncle Stephen to sell all
the produce of the chase which he might bring, and to purchase for him
such articles as he required.

Reuben brought his sister Dora over to see Ashatea, and the three girls
seemed very happy together.  The Indian girl was as eager to learn
English as Lily and Dora were to instruct her; and she got on rapidly.

Old Samson had suffered more from his long tramp on foot than he was at
first willing to confess, and a fit of illness was the consequence.  He
was well cared for, however, by the Claxtons, who treated him as kindly
as if he had been a relation.  He was grateful in his way; but it struck
me that there was something hard and unsympathising in his character.
He spoke of his fights with the Indians, of the scalps he had taken, of
his hairbreadth escapes; but he never uttered a word which showed that
he had any religious feeling.  Indeed, he seemed to me to be as much of
a heathen as the Indians among whom he had lived so long.  It appeared
strange to me that an old man should be so hardened.  I was not aware,
at the time, that when people once begin to give up trusting God they go
further and further from him; and thus, of course, as they advance in
years they think less and less of their souls, and, in fact, become more
dead with regard to all spiritual matters.

I had been accustomed to see Uncle Stephen read the Bible to his family,
and offer up prayers morning and night; while he never did any work,
except such as necessity demanded, on the Sabbath.  Uncle Mark had been
less exact in these respects, although even he was accustomed to read
the Bible on the Sabbath, and to refrain from work; and occasionally we
went over to Uncle Stephen's on that day and joined his family at
worship.  Most of the people of the settlement, however, paid but little
attention to the day, though they ceased from all rough work, and made a
sort of holiday of it.  There was no church or chapel of any description
in the neighbourhood, and few paid any attention to what are called
religious duties.

The day after I went to stay with Uncle Stephen, some little time before
sunset I saw a horseman approaching the house from the eastward.  He was
a middle-aged man, dressed in a suit of dark grey, with his legs encased
in strong leather gaiters, and a broad-brimmed hat on his head; a pair
of huge saddle-bags, too, were thrown across the hardy-looking mustang
he bestrode.  He had neither gun over his shoulder nor sword by his
side; but he carried a thick staff of considerable length in his hand.

"Canst tell me, young friend, if yonder house is the abode of Stephen
Tregellis?" he asked as I advanced towards him.

"Yes, sir.  He is my uncle," I answered, offering to hold his nag's head
while he dismounted.

He threw himself from the saddle with the activity of a young man.

"I hope, then, that I shall not intrude, for I have come far, and should
like to spend a few days with one who, if I am not wrongly informed,
will receive me as a brother Christian," he said.

"Uncle Stephen will be glad to see you, sir," I answered, feeling sure
that I was only saying what was the case.

"Well, then, young man, go in and tell him that Martin Godfrey has come
to claim his hospitality."

As my uncle had just reached home, I hurried in and gave him the
message.  He immediately came out and welcomed the stranger, with whom
he had a short conversation, which I did not hear, as I was holding the
pony at a little distance.  I only caught the words, uttered by my
uncle, "We will make ready a small upper room, and to that you shall be
welcome as long as you remain in these parts."

He then told me to take the mustang round to the stable, to rub him
down, and feed him well, and to bring the minister's saddle-bags into
the house.  When I returned, after having obeyed these orders, I found
the stranger seated at table--on which Aunt Hannah and Lily had spread
supper--talking cheerfully; and from what he said I gathered that he had
visited a number of outlying settlements, accompanied by several young
ministers, one of whom he had left at each.

"I had no one to bring on here, and was unwilling to leave you without
the `bread of life,' so I was fain to come on myself," he observed.

I wondered what he could mean.  Aunt Hannah explained, after he and
Uncle Mark had gone out, that he was one of those energetic Gospellers
who had done so much for the back settlements of America; that he was an
overseer among them--his duty being to move from place to place to form
new congregations where none existed, and to strengthen and encourage
the older ones.

He had much conversation with Kepenau and Ashatea, with whom he could
converse in their own language.  They were evidently deeply interested
in what he said, and I saw him frequently produce his Bible and refer to
it to strengthen what he was saying.  Kepenau had, as I have already
said, some knowledge of Christianity, and he and his daughter very
gladly received the instruction which the missionary afforded them.

Uncle Stephen went out and succeeded in bringing in three or four of our
neighbours, among whom were Mr Claxton and Reuben, and we had a regular
service in the cottage,--the first of the sort I can recollect.  The
Bible was read, prayers were offered up, and the missionary gave an
address; after which some of Wesley's hymns were sung by Lily and Dora--
Ashatea occasionally joining in, with a very sweet voice, although she
had never heard them before.

Mr Claxton afterwards begged the missionary to come and visit old
Samson.  He gladly complied; but I heard him next day tell Uncle Stephen
that he feared no impression had been made on the old trapper's heart.
"Still, I do not despair," he added.  "It may be as hard as iron, or
stone; but iron can be melted by the fire, and stone worn away by the
constant dripping of water.  One thing I know,--that nothing is too
difficult for God to accomplish; though we, his instruments, are obliged
to confess our own weakness."

I must not, however, dwell further on the various events which took
place at this time.

Martin Godfrey spent some days with Uncle Stephen, preaching every
evening in the open air, and three times on the Sabbath; and he promised
the people, if they would put up a chapel, that he would ere long find a
minister for them.  Having distributed some Bibles and other books
contained in his saddle-bags, he at length mounted his mustang and went
his way.

I remember Uncle Stephen asking him if he was not afraid of travelling
without firearms.

"I trust to One well able to protect me," he answered, smiling.
"Whenever I have to employ the arm of flesh, I find my trusty stick
sufficient to defend myself against hostile Indians or savage beasts;"
and as he whisked it round his head with a rapidity which dazzled the
eyes, I could easily understand how it would prove a formidable weapon
against either bears or wolves--a tap of it on their skulls being
sufficient to stun them; while it seemed to me that he might be able to
ward off either the arrows or the tomahawks of hostile Indians.

Kepenau and Ashatea returned to their settlement; and the old trapper,
who had now recovered, began to make preparations for his departure.  He
had again invited Reuben to join him, but Mr Claxton, very wisely,
would not hear of his son going away with the old man.

"It is more than likely we shall never see him again," he observed.
"Whatever his fate may be, you would probably share it; either to be
killed by Indians, or starved, or drowned, or frozen to death, or torn
to pieces by bears or wolves."

Reuben was inclined to complain.  "Father thinks I cannot take care of
myself," he said to me.  "As old Samson has spent so many years out
trapping by himself, why should not I have as good a chance of escaping
from danger?"

"There is an old saying, `That the water-pot which goes often to the
well, gets broken at last,'" I observed.  "Such may be the case with
regard to old Samson; and you know nothing of the country, or of the
cunning of the Redskins, and would be very sure to lose your life if he
lost his."

The old man, who had set his heart on obtaining a companion of some
sort, succeeded in persuading a half-breed to accompany him.  This was a
man named Sandy McColl, whose father was a Scotchman and his mother an
Indian, and who had long been accustomed to the wild life of the
prairies.  He had come to the settlement intending to remain, and had
built a hut and begun to cultivate a garden, with the intention, as was
supposed, of taking unto himself a wife; but the damsel on whom he had
set his affections had refused him.  Sandy after this became very
downcast; he neglected his garden, and spent most of his time wandering
about gun in hand, shooting any game he could come across.  He had few
associates, and was of a morose disposition.  People, indeed, whispered
that he had been guilty of some crime or other, and was forced to leave
the part of the country where he had before resided.  Uncle Stephen, who
occasionally exchanged a few words with him, did not believe that this
was the case, and declared that Sandy, in spite of his taciturnity and
love of solitude, was an honest fellow.  Be that as it may, Samson was
satisfied with him, and the two agreed to start together.

Soon after the old man's arrival, he had asked Reuben and me to make a
journey to the place where he had left his other packs of skins hidden
away; and he described the spot so exactly, that we believed we should
have no difficulty in finding it.  My uncle said I might go with Mike
Laffan.  Reuben, too, got leave from his father; and Sandy volunteered
to accompany us.  Without him we should, I believe, have lost our way,
for he knew the country much better than we did.

We had to proceed cautiously during the latter part of the journey for
fear of Indians, as we were far in advance of the territory claimed by
the white men.  But I do not give an account of the expedition, because,
in reality, we met with no adventure worthy of notice.  Thanks to Sandy,
we discovered the packs, and succeeded in bringing them back safe to
their owner; for which Samson was very grateful, and rewarded us
handsomely.  With the proceeds he purchased two mustangs, six
beaver-traps, a supply of powder and shot, and other articles.  Sandy
had the means of obtaining another mustang, and such supplies as he
required.

After this old Samson quickly recovered.  As soon as he was well enough
he and Sandy mounted their ponies, reserving a third animal to carry
their goods; and having bidden us all good-bye, they set off into the
wilderness--going to the westward, intending to push forward to the
spurs of the Rocky Mountains, where, they said, game in abundance was to
be found.  Reuben, who was really a very good fellow, soon got
reconciled to remaining at home and attending to his duty.

Kepenau had made me promise to come and visit him, and had agreed to
send one of his people with a canoe to take me to his lodges; and at
last the Indian arrived at our hut.

Kepenau, he said, had sent but a small canoe, as we might thus more
easily make our way up the stream, and pass the several portages we
should have to go over.

I knew that Reuben would take delight in the excursion, so I hurried to
the settlement to see if he could come.  His father was very willing to
give him leave, as it might turn his thoughts from the wilder and more
dangerous adventures on which he was set.  He had, some time before
this, obtained a birch-bark canoe, which Kepenau, and sometimes Ashatea,
had taught him how to use; and as he was constantly practising, he was
by this time well able to employ his paddle.  We obtained leave to take
Mike Laffan with us, too; and thus, with the Indian, we made a party of
four in the two canoes.

We carried our guns and axes and the usual woodmen's knives, a pot and
pan for cooking our meals, some tin cups, and a few small bales of
cloths and coloured calicoes with which to pay the Indians for any
peltries they might have to sell--for our expedition was on business as
well as pleasure.  We enjoyed the thoughts of it all the more on that
account.  We expected also to get some hunting, and to come back with a
supply of dried venison, as well as some skins.

The Indian told us that his name was Kakaik, or the "Small Hawk;" he let
us understand that he was a great hunter, but as he could speak no
English, and as we understood but a few words of his language, we could
not carry on much conversation with him.  However, we managed to
understand each other very well by means of signs.

The first part of the voyage was along the main river, with which we
were well acquainted.  We afterwards struck off up one of its
tributaries, which varied greatly in width; sometimes it expanded into a
lake-like form, and at other parts it contracted into narrow dimensions,
where the current ran with great force, and we had hard work to stem it.

At length we reached a waterfall of nearly thirty feet in height, where
the river rushed over the rocks and fell down perpendicularly in masses
of foam.  Kakaik made signs to us that we must land and carry our canoes
for some distance through the wood.  This is what is called making a
"portage."  Accordingly we unloaded them, and piled up our goods at the
foot of the fall.  We then lifted the canoes out of the water; Kakaik
taking one bottom upwards on his shoulders and walking off with it.
Mike imitated his example, as one man could get between the trees better
than two, and the canoes were so light that they could be carried with
ease.  Reuben, shouldering a portion of the goods, followed the Indian;
and I, with another bale on my shoulders and the paddles and gun under
my arm, kept close after Mike--leaving the remainder of the things for a
second trip.

The ground was rough in the extreme, and it was some way up a steep bank
among rocks.  My fear was lest Mike should knock the canoe against the
branches of the overhanging trees and make a hole in her bottom, so I
sang out to him to be cautious.

"Faix!  Masther Roger, it's that same I intind to be," he answered.  "I
have no fancy to walk all the way back again, or forward either, if this
is the sort of ground we should have to pass over."

We had to traverse a quarter of a mile or more till we saw the stream
ahead of us, running placid as before.  Kakaik, going down into the
water, placed his canoe gently on the surface, and then helped to take
Mike's off his shoulders.  The goods we had brought were next placed in
them, and the Indian sat down on the bank to watch them while we went
back for the remainder.

"Suppose some hostile Indians or prowling bear should have paid a visit
to the landing-place, and carried off our property," said Reuben.

"We will hope for the best," I answered, laughing; "but I will take my
gun, in case of accidents."



CHAPTER FIVE.

AN INTRUDER--WE ARRIVE AT KEPENAU'S CAMP--ASHATEA INQUIRES KINDLY AFTER
LILY AND DORA--DEER-HUNTING--THE STRANGE INDIANS--KEPENAU'S
PRECAUTIONS--MIKE AMUSES THE CAMP WITH HIS FIDDLE--OUR FAREWELL--
KAKAIK'S ADVICE WITH REGARD TO RAPID-SHOOTING--THE TREACHEROUS INDIAN ON
SHORE--MIKE AND I PADDLE DESPERATELY--THE CANOE IS UPSET--CARRIED DOWN
THE STREAM--A NATURAL PLACE OF CONCEALMENT IN A HOLLOW TRUNK--MY TERROR
ON PERCEIVING THE INDIANS--FORCED BY HUNGER TO LEAVE MY CONCEALMENT, I
AM TAKEN PRISONER BY FOUR INDIANS.

On arriving at the foot of the falls we found our goods safe; but just
as we were about to shoulder them we heard a rustling among the bushes.
Advancing cautiously towards the spot, not knowing what might be there,
I caught sight of a dark hairy form.  It was a brown bear, which in
another minute would in all likelihood have been examining our property
with no delicate fingers.  I hesitated to fire, for I was sure that I
should be unable to hit any vital part; and as even a brown bear, if
wounded, will turn furiously on his pursuers, before I could have
reloaded the beast might have been upon me.  In another instant Bruin
had plunged in among the thick underwood, and was concealed from view;
but I heard him making his way rapidly from us, doubtless considering
that discretion was the better part of valour.

Having taken up our goods, and looked carefully round to see that
nothing was left behind, we set off towards the canoes.  Kakaik by this
time had them both secured alongside the bank, so that we quickly
reloaded them and recommenced our voyage up the stream.

I asked Mike to sing one of his Irish songs: this he was never loath to
do, and he soon made the banks echo with his melody.  As soon as he had
ceased, the Indian took up the strain with one of his native songs.  It
was melancholy in the extreme, and contrasted greatly with Mike's joyous
notes.

"Faix! if it's tears he wants to draw from our eyes, I can bate him
there," observed Mike, when Kakaik had ceased; and he began one of those
sad ditties descriptive of the death of some Irish heroine.  Though the
Indian could not understand the meaning, he appeared to be much
affected, and it was some time before he began another song.  From the
few words we could make out, we supposed him to be recounting the
misfortunes of his people, and their departure from the hunting-grounds
of their fathers.

Mike had brought his fiddle, but of course he could not play it while
paddling.

"When we get to Kepenau's, I'll show the people what I can do, and set
them all jigging away, and laughing till they split their sides," he
observed.

The scenery amid which we passed was wild in the extreme.  Not a sign of
a human being, or a habitation of any sort, was visible.  Sometimes dark
rocks rose up in precipitous cliffs on both sides of us, and at other
times the trees of the forest overhung the water.  We had several
portages to make, as it was easier to carry the canoes over the land
than to drag them up the rapids, but Kakaik signified that on our return
we might shoot them without danger.

At last, in the far-off distance, we caught sight of a wreath of smoke
ascending from near the bank, and from the gestures of the Indian we
understood that we were now approaching Kepenau's camp.  In a short time
shouts were heard, and we saw several wigwams erected on the greensward
in a recess of the forest, surrounded by trees which sheltered them
completely from the wind.

A canoe immediately put off and came paddling out towards us; then
turned round and accompanied us back to the bank, on which Kepenau, with
Ashatea and other members of his family, stood ready to receive us.  As
we shook hands he told us how glad he was to see us; and Ashatea had
many questions to ask about Lily and Dora.

"I have been longing to come and visit them again," she said.  "Now that
the rice is ripe, I want to take them down to the lake where it grows,
that we may gather our canoe full."

Kepenau said that his people would be very glad to receive the goods we
had brought, and would be ready to purchase them with their beaver-skins
and other peltries, of which they had a considerable store.

When we talked about hunting, he assured us that we need have no fear of
obtaining plenty of sport, as, with our rifles, we should be certain to
kill the game much more easily than his people could do with their bows
and arrows.  A hunting-party was accordingly arranged for the next day,
on the shores of a lake some miles off.  He had already transported a
couple of canoes to it, so that, should any of the deer take to the
water, we might be able to pursue them.  Ashatea was much inclined to
come with us, but her father told her that she would be acting more like
an English girl if she would stay at home and attend to household
affairs.

We started the next morning with Kepenau, Kakaik, and several other
Indians, who carried long spears as well as bows and arrows.  We were
also accompanied by a pack of dogs, well-trained by the Indians for
chasing the deer, though they were noisy, ill-looking curs.

We commenced our hunt at some distance from the shores of the lake, but
for an hour or more we saw no signs of deer, and Reuben and I began to
fancy that we should have to return home without venison.

We had separated from Kepenau, but now we heard his voice, and
immediately afterwards the dogs gave tongue.  We were looking about to
ascertain in what direction to bend our steps, when a fine deer started
out from among the trees on our right into the open glade.  My gun being
ready, I fired, and felt sure that I had wounded the deer; but the
animal still continued its course.  The next instant the dogs appeared
from the same direction, in hot chase after the deer.

We followed, joined by Kepenau and the other men.  Marks of blood on the
grass showed us that the deer had been wounded.  Still, it might run,
should the dogs not overtake it, for several miles, and might escape us
after all.  It was too valuable a prize to be lost, so we continued the
pursuit.

The country now became much more open, and we saw that the deer had made
its way across the plain.  On the further side there were some lofty
pines, towards which the animal appeared to have directed its course.

We had been running on for several minutes, when, before I could
distinguish anything, the exclamations of the Indians showed me that the
deer was in sight; and presently I saw it standing at bay under the
trees, with the dogs yelping round it and preventing it from proceeding
further.

When I got within gun-shot, I stopped for a moment to reload my rifle;
and crying out to my friends not to get in the way, I again fired, and
the noble beast rolled over.  Kakaik then dashed forward with his
hunting-knife, and quickly put an end to the creature's sufferings,
while the rest beat off the dogs.

The deer was soon cut up, and each man loading himself with as much as
he could carry, the venison was conveyed to the spot selected for an
encampment; where two of them remained to take care of it while we went
in search of more game.

We had been for some time beating about, when once more we heard the
dogs giving tongue; and after making our way through the forest, and
reaching the borders of an open glade, we caught sight of a herd of
eight or ten deer scampering along at full speed, with the pack of dogs
at their heels.  We all of us fired, but although two or three shots
took effect none of the deer stopped.  We saw them directing their
course towards the lake; but they ran faster than we did, and did not
allow us an opportunity of firing.  We managed, however, to keep them in
view, and saw that they did not turn either to the right hand or to the
left, so that we felt sure of overtaking them when they reached the
shore of the lake.

Kakaik, who was on my left hand, made signs to me to accompany him
towards the spot where we had left one of the canoes.  I also understood
him to signify that the dogs would prevent the deer from turning back.
On reaching the canoe he lifted me into it, and stepping after me,
seized a paddle, and with a few strokes sent it skimming out into the
lake.  Rounding a point, we soon caught sight of the deer, which stood
on the shore with the dogs barking behind them.  The shouts of some of
the people who now came up increased the terror of the poor animals.
First one plunged into the water, then another, and another; till the
whole herd, with the exception of two which had fallen, were striking
out in different directions, making for the opposite bank.

Kakaik pointed out one fine deer, and paddled towards it.  I might have
shot the animal, but my Indian companion made signs to me to use a spear
which lay at the bottom of the canoe; so, standing up, I grasped the
weapon with both my hands, and drove it with all my force into the
creature's skull.  In an instant its head went down, and its feet
rising, it lay dead on the surface.  Kakaik handed me a rope to cast
round its antlers, and we forthwith towed it in triumph to the shore.
This done, we made chase after a second deer, which was swimming across
the lake towards a spot some little way off.  Greatly to my
satisfaction, I succeeded in striking this animal as I had done the
first.

In the meantime the other canoe was paddling away in chase of two more
deer, which had made towards the further end of the lake.

While we were occupied as I have described, I saw a third canoe, paddled
by two strangers, darting out from behind a point in pursuit of another
deer.  Whether the people were friends or foes, I could not tell; but as
soon as Kakaik saw them he declared that they were the latter, and that
we must be prepared for an attack should they have many companions in
the neighbourhood.

"Then let us at once tow our deer up the lake towards the camp, where we
can obtain assistance," I said.

I now observed that those who had been unable to embark in the canoe
were making their way in that direction.  They had probably caught sight
of the strange Indians.  My fear was that Kepenau and Reuben might be
attacked on their return.  I made signs to my companion that we would
land the deer and then go to the assistance of our friends.  As Reuben
and I had our rifles, and the strange Indians were probably without
firearms, we might easily keep them in check or put them to flight; or
should they venture to attack us, we might sink their canoes, even if we
did not kill them with our rifle-bullets, before they got up to us.

As we reached the shore at the end of the lake, we found Mike and
several of the Indians standing ready to receive us.

Mike was fall of fight.  "Arrah! be aisy, Masther Roger," he said.
"Sure, if the inimy come, I will sind them to the right-about wid me
firelock, and they'll not be afther taking our venison from us in a
hurry."

He and the Indians taking charge of the deer, which they immediately set
about cutting up, Kakaik and I paddled off again down the lake to the
assistance of our friends.  The strange Indians had succeeded in
capturing one of the deer; but as we considered that it was their lawful
prize, although we had driven it into the water, we did not interfere
with them.

Seeing another deer still swimming, though at considerable distance, I
fired at it, for the purpose of showing the strange Indians, in case
they should not have heard our other shots, that we had firearms, and
thus probably prevent them attacking us.  Whether or not my shot had
taken effect I could not tell, as the deer continued to swim on towards
the bank.

We now directed our course for our friends, who had killed the two deer
of which they had gone in chase.  I told them of the strangers we had
seen; and Kakaik, in his own language, gave a long account to Kepenau of
the matter.

"We will let them alone, if they do not molest us," answered Kepenau,
after expressing his approval of my conduct.

Having secured the bodies of the two deer to ropes,--Kepenau and Reuben
towing one, and Kakaik and I the other,--we began to paddle back towards
the end of the lake from which we had come.

As we passed the part of the shore near which I had shot the last deer,
we observed several Indians, who had seized the animal as it landed, and
were now employed in cutting it up.  They had evidently only one canoe
with them, and were therefore afraid of coming off to attack us,
whatever may have been their disposition.  We might, therefore, consider
ourselves masters of the seas.

Kepenau was well pleased with the success of our expedition, and having
made up his mind to live at peace with his neighbours, he was very glad
to avoid a collision with the strangers, even though we might come off
victorious.  "We must, however, be on the watch for them as we return
homewards," he observed.  "They may possibly greatly outnumber our
party; and though our firearms will keep them in check, they may try to
overcome us by stratagem."

The deer we had first killed were soon cut up, and all the best parts
made ready for transportation to the camp.  Those we had now towed on
shore were treated in the same manner; and each man being loaded with as
much as he could possibly carry, we set off for the camp.  Here we found
a blazing fire ready for cooking the venison, of which our friends ate
an enormous quantity--with the exception of Kepenau, who was as moderate
as we were.

Knowing that we had foes in the neighbourhood sentinels were posted, two
of whom kept watch all the night round the camp; but the strangers,
seeing us prepared, did not make their appearance, and on the following
morning we started, an hour before dawn, on our return.  Kepenau kept in
the rear, turning round very frequently to ascertain if we were
followed.  He also gave his people directions to keep a look-out on
either hand.  Once he caught sight of a warrior's plume in the distance,
but although his eyes were of the sharpest he could not discover whether
his foe approached nearer.  Before evening we arrived safely at his
lodges; the ample supply of food we brought affording great
satisfaction.  The chief, however, did not fail to send out scouts to
bring word whether the enemy had ventured into the neighbourhood.  As no
traces of them could be seen, Kepenau came to the conclusion that the
strangers had gone off again to the westward, content with the game they
had obtained.  Still, he thought it prudent, in case of treachery, to
keep on the watch; and day and night two or three of the party were
constantly scouring the country round, in search of tracks made by
strange Indians.

The time had now arrived for us to return.  Mike had made himself a
universal favourite; the Indians, notwithstanding their general gravity,
delighting in the merry tunes he played on his fiddle.  He frequently
set them jigging; and Reuben and I showed them how white people danced--
though neither of us had any exact notions on the subject.  Ashatea
sometimes joined us, and moved about very gracefully, performing figures
of her own invention, which I have since discovered greatly resemble
those of the minuet of Europe.

She often told me how much she longed to go back and stay with Lily.
Native of the wilds as she was, she had gained a taste for civilised
life, she told Reuben and me.  We assured her that Lily and Dora would
be delighted to see her, and that, if her father would allow her to
accompany us, we should be glad to take her at once.  This, however,
Kepenau refused.  He did not tell us why; only saying that he could not
let her go unless he went with her, and for the present he must not
leave his people, who had to hunt and fish, so as to lay in a store of
provisions for the winter.

I should have said that at the back of the lodges were several pieces of
cleared ground, on which Indian corn was growing and potatoes had been
planted.  This showed that Kepenau and his people were in advance of the
hunting Indians, who trust only to the chase for subsistence, and are
thereby frequently reduced to a state of starvation.

All the inhabitants of the camp turned out to wish us farewell, and
offered up prayers for our safety as we stepped into our canoes.  Kakaik
and Reuben led the way in one canoe, and Mike and I followed in the
other, flourishing our paddles over our heads as a farewell salute.  We
plied them diligently, and, gliding rapidly down the stream, were soon
lost to sight.  Having the current with us, we expected to reach home
before nightfall, should no accident happen.

"I'm afther hoping that none of those Indians we saw the other day are
lurking about, or maybe they will take a fancy to our packs of dried
venison and skins, and stop us," observed Mike.

"What put that idea into your head?"  I asked.

"Sure, because they are cunning spalpeens; and as they know the way we
must take, they are likely enough to be on the watch for us," he
replied.

"We must be on the watch for them, then," I answered, laughing.  "If any
of them appear, and look as if they intended to interfere with us, we
shall have to show them the muzzles of our rifles; although, as I never
have shot a man, I trust that I shall not be obliged to do so."

We paddled on for some time after this, and now and then we caught up
Reuben's canoe and had a talk with him.  I told him what Mike had said.

"Oh!  I don't think there is much chance of that," he answered, lightly.
"A few rifle-bullets will soon drive the fellows into the woods, if
they show their noses."

We were now entering a part of the stream which ran between broken
cliffs; on one side rocks rose almost perpendicularly from the water,
their summits shaped like the parapets of ruined castles, while on the
other the trees came down to the river's brink.  Kakaik reminded us that
we were approaching a series of rapids; and he explained by signs that
he would lead the way, and advised Mike and me to keep exactly in his
course.  He and Reuben paddled on, therefore, while we followed at a
little distance.  We saw them descend one of the first rapids.
Immediately below this, in a turn of the river, was another, the fall in
which being probably about four or five feet, was not sufficient to
endanger the safety of the canoes if carefully handled.

We were approaching the highest of the rapids, which, as I have said,
the other canoe had just descended, when we saw an Indian dart out from
behind the trunk of a tree growing close to the water, and point his
arrow at the first canoe, aiming at Reuben.  The arrow flew from the
bow, but whether my friend was hit or not I could not say, as the canoe,
darting down the rapid, was lost to sight.

We were too near the rapid to paddle back, for in turning round we
should have run the risk of upsetting the canoe, when it would have been
carried down sideways, and probably dashed to pieces.  Our only safe
course, therefore, was to dash forward; and we hoped to pass the Indian
before he could perceive us, or have time to fix another arrow in his
bow.  Had we been in still water I might have lifted my rifle and shot
the Indian, but I dared not leave my paddle for a moment.  Down the
rapid we dashed, then, paddling with might and main to turn the canoe so
as to be ready for the next descent.  The Indian had disappeared, but we
heard his voice, calling, as we supposed, to his companions,--and
directly afterwards we caught sight of him running along the bank among
the trees; but he could not have seen us.

A short way below this was another and still more dangerous rapid.
Kakaik signified that he had often shot it, but he at the same time
advised that we should land and make a portage.  To do this was now,
however, out of the question, as we should be seized by the Indians on
shore did we land on the side on which they were; the only practicable
one along which we could make our way.

"Paddle, Mike! paddle!"  I said in a low voice, fearing that I might be
heard should I shout.  "Our only chance is to dash down the rapid.  We
cannot stop to look out for rocks ahead, and must run all risks."

Mike saw this as well as I did.  "Sure, it's the only thing to be done,
any way.  May all the saints in the calendar help us!" he exclaimed.

I don't think, however, that Mike had much faith in the saints, although
he uttered the expression.

We dashed on, the water hissing and bubbling and foaming round us, and
had almost reached the bottom, when I felt the bow of the canoe strike
something.  The next instant I found myself struggling in the seething
waters, and instinctively striking out for dear life.  Looking down the
stream, I caught a glance of the canoe being rapidly hurried downwards,
with Mike clinging to it.  The next moment, he and the canoe had
disappeared.

I had been carried down some distance, when, on more perfectly
recovering my senses, I discovered that I was happily near the side
opposite to that on which I had seen the Indians.  I scrambled up on the
bank, therefore, hoping to find some place of concealment before they
could discover me.  I had not gone far, however, before I recollected
that my footprints would certainly betray me.  I therefore retraced my
steps and threw myself backwards into the water; and as I looked up
towards the bank, I clearly perceived the marks I had left.

The river in this place was narrow, but though the current ran strong it
was smooth, and I felt sure that I could swim across it and hide myself
among some thick bushes which I saw growing over the water.  It was my
only hope of saving myself, and I determined to run the risk; but no
time was to be lost, as the Indians might look up the stream and
discover me.  I struck out boldly, and found that I could stem the
current, though it certainly required all the strength I possessed.  I
looked down the stream every now and then, to ascertain whether the
Indians were returning, which I thought they might do when they saw only
one person clinging to the canoe; otherwise I kept my eye as steadily as
I could on the bushes for which I was making.  Of course, I might have
crossed the stream much more easily by allowing myself to be carried
down with the current, but then I should have landed much below the
place where I hoped to find concealment.  I could distinguish for some
time, even amid the roar of the waters, the voices of the Indians as
they shouted to each other; but they gradually became fainter and
fainter, and this gave me encouragement, as it informed me that they
were getting further off.

Even then I thought of poor Mike.  What might be his fate, should he be
captured by the Indians?  His fiddle, and probably everything else in
the canoe, would be lost, and he would have no means of softening their
savage hearts.  With his fiddle in his hand, I felt that he might
succeed in saving his life.  It may seem strange that such thoughts
entered my mind at that time; but the truth is, I was less anxious about
myself than I was about him.

I had got more than half-way across when I began to find my strength
failing me.  It seemed that I should never reach the shore; still, I
struck out, straining every nerve.  I was afraid at length that I should
be obliged to allow myself to be carried down by the current, and be
glad to cling to the first rock or bough I could reach.  My eyes were
growing dim, and I could scarcely see the bushes on which they had so
long been fixed.  Still I struggled on, determined if possible to
succeed.  Suddenly I felt myself caught by an eddy, and the next instant
I was carried close under the bank.  I was about to grasp one of the
branches, when I recollected that the sharp eyes of the Indians would
discover where my hand had crushed the leaves, so I resisted the
temptation, turning myself on my back for a minute to rest; then I dived
down, and came up again in the very middle of the bush.

I now without fear drew myself out of the water, and climbing up,
discovered a thick trunk hollowed out by age, the larger portion of
which had been broken off either by a storm or lightning, the boughs
having sprung out of the remainder--forming, indeed, a natural pollard.
No concealment could have been more perfect; for even an Indian's eye
would fail to penetrate through the bark.  By slipping down I was
concealed on all sides, while at the same time a slit in the trunk
afforded me a "look-out" through the boughs in the direction of the
river.  Here, therefore, I considered that I was safe for the present.
The difficulty would be to get away; although I might remain concealed
as long as I should desire, hunger would at length compel me to leave my
hiding-place in search of food.  I remained crouched down, listening
anxiously for any sounds which might indicate the whereabouts of the
Indians.  Mike, I felt sure, had he escaped drowning, would be captured
by them; but I had hopes that Reuben and his companion, by being so much
ahead, might escape altogether.

The ground was excessively rough; numerous high rocky ridges, and
intervening spaces filled by trees and dense underwood, abounded.

The fact that the Indians had been so long shouting to each other
convinced me that they had not up to that time captured the first canoe.
As I heard no one approaching, I should not have been afraid of leaving
my hiding-place; but then I knew that my footsteps would betray me.

I must have remained an hour or more, when I heard voices in the
distance.  The sounds came nearer, and I knew that the Indians were
returning.  I scarcely dared to draw breath.  They passed close to the
tree in which I lay concealed; but I did not venture to look out, lest
they should discover me.  I was sure as they went along that they were
trying to discover my trail.  I knew, too, by the voices, that there was
only a small party.  What had become of the rest?

I calculated, by the direction their voices came from, that they were
making their way up the stream.  Some distance off, the low cliffs
between which the river forced its way were surmounted by trees, which
formed a natural bridge.  I knew, therefore, that should they wish to
get to the opposite side they might easily pass over.

Nearly another anxious hour went by, when I again heard their voices
coming across the stream; and looking through the slit, I saw three
painted savages standing together in the shallow water, narrowly
examining the bank on both sides.  Presently one of them stopped and
pointed at the marks which my feet had made as I sprang up the bank.  I
saw them standing consulting eagerly together, but whether their
sagacity would enable them to decide if I had gone forward across the
country, or leaped back into the water, I could not tell.  I anxiously
watched, in order to ascertain to what decision they had come.  At
length one of them climbed up the bank and looked about; then the others
followed, and walked for some distance, closely scrutinising the ground.
At first I hoped that they were at fault.  I had noticed that the bank
was composed, a little way on, of hard stones, which could scarcely, I
thought, receive any impression from my feet.

They went on for some distance; and then I saw from their gestures that
they were fairly puzzled.  At length they came back to the bank, and
gazed down at the rapidly-flowing stream.  They were evidently of
opinion that I could not have swam across it.  Greatly to my relief, I
saw them continuing their course down the river, examining the bank as
they went along, under the belief that I must have landed again further
down, or else have been swept away by the current.  This greatly
relieved my mind.  I sincerely hoped that they would give me up as lost,
and abandon the idea that they should have the pleasure of exhibiting me
to their squaws, and torturing me.

On and on they went, until they disappeared among the trees which grew
on the bank.  Whether or not they would again cross the stream I could
not tell, or if indeed they had the means of doing so.  They had come
from the right bank, so I concluded that they must know of some way or
other to get back to it.  Still, I was anxious to be certain that they
had done this before I left my shelter.  I had made up my mind to swim
back, and to descend the stream on the left bank, following it down till
I reached home.  There were by this time ripe fruits of all sorts to be
found, I knew, so that I had no fear of starving.

I sat crouched dowd, feeling very much as I suppose a hare does,
listening for the hunters--eager to be off, yet not daring to leave her
cover.  Hour after hour passed by, but I could hear no sounds except the
notes of the birds in the trees, the woodpeckers searching for insects
in the bark, and the cries of the squirrels as they skipped from branch
to branch.  I really wished that one of them would poke his nose into my
nest, that I might have the chance of capturing him, for I was getting
very hungry, and would have eaten him raw without compunction; but none
came within my grasp.

At last I could bear it no longer.  Food I must have, or strength
sufficient would not be left me to swim across the river.  I fully
believed that the Indians had gone to a distance, and that I might
therefore make the attempt without being seen by them.  However, I did
not intend to swim directly across, as I had done before, but to allow
myself to float down with the stream, paddling easily till I could gain
the opposite bank.  I should thus be assisted rather than impeded by the
current.

I nerved myself up for the enterprise.  I believed that it would be more
easy to make my way out of the hole through the branches on the
land-side, and then, going round them, take to the water where there was
no back eddy.  I had observed, a little lower down, that the current set
directly across to the opposite bank, and it was this which had caused
me so much trouble to reach the spot where I now was.

Popping up my head, I was about to climb out of the hole, when what was
my horror to see four Indians sitting silently smoking their pipes,
directly in front of me!  To escape was impossible, for I knew that they
had perceived me by the loud grunts they uttered, and by one of them
immediately springing to his feet and rushing forward towards the tree.

Endeavouring to conceal my fears, I leaped down and advanced towards
them, putting out my hand.  Instead of taking it, the man who was
advancing grasped me by the shoulder; while the others burst into a loud
guttural laugh, as much as to say, "You thought yourself very clever,
young master, but we have outwitted you."

How they came to know that I was in the tree, I could not divine;
perhaps they only suspected that I was in the neighbourhood, from not
finding my dead body lower down, and had taken their seats on that spot
by chance.

One of the men now addressed me, but I could not understand a word he
said.  I answered him, however, in English, interspersed with such
Indian expressions as I could recollect.  He on this rose to his feet,
patted me on the shoulder, and pointed to the tree; intimating, as I
fancied, that I had been very clever to conceal myself as I had done,
but that he and his companions were cleverer still to discover me.

As I was famishing, for my anxiety had not taken away my appetite, I
thought it as well to let them understand that I wanted something to
eat.  Espying some berries growing on bushes near at hand, I pointed to
them; and the man who held me letting me go, I sprang forward and
ravenously devoured a number.  They quenched my thirst, though they did
not much tend to appease my hunger.  One of the Indians, suspecting that
this was the case, produced some dried buffalo meat from his pouch, and
offered it to me.

I thanked him by signs, and showed how I appreciated his gift by
immediately eating it up.  He and his companions, on observing how
hungry I was, again laughed.  One of them now pointed to the sun, which
was getting low, and made me understand that I must accompany them.  As
I knew that I had no chance of escaping, I nodded,--as much as to say
that I was ready to go if they wished it,--and tried to look as cheerful
as possible.

Their leader, the man who had first spoken to me, pointed to the west
and stalked off; and two of the others seizing me by the arms, one on
each side, we followed him.



CHAPTER SIX.

MY INDIAN CAPTORS COMMENCE THEIR HOMEWARD JOURNEY--ARRIVAL AT THE CAMP--
AGUSKOGAUT THE CHIEF--HIS KINDNESS TO ME--MY ASTONISHMENT ON SEEING MIKE
A PRISONER--HIS LUDICROUS FIDDLING--HIS COMICAL ACCOUNT OF HIS CAPTURE--
RETURN OF THE WARRIORS FROM THE WAR-PATH--MIKE AND I JOIN THE
BUFFALO-HUNTERS--THE HERD--EXCITING SPORT--THE BISON--ITS IMPORTANCE TO
THE INDIANS--MY HOPE OF ESCAPE--I AM IN GREAT DANGER FROM THE HERD--MIKE
RESCUES ME--OUR RETURN TO CAMP.

My captors led me along at a rapid rate over the rough ground; nimbly
climbing the rocks, and dragging me after them without much
consideration as to whether I was hurt or not.  Of course, I had made up
my mind to attempt escaping on the first opportunity.  Perhaps they
suspected this, for they took good care not to afford me the chance.

On we went due west, as I knew by the position of the sun, scorning all
impediments--up hills and across valleys, through streams and marshes.
They were, I knew, in an enemy's country, and were in a hurry to get out
of it.  Their leader did not fail to keep a look-out on every side--
sometimes hurrying on ahead to the top of a rock, from whence he could
take a glance over the country around to ascertain whether any one was
moving; still they did not appear to be very anxious, and they must have
been aware of the exact spot in which Kepenau and his tribe were
encamped, while they knew that they were not likely to encounter other
foes.

We must have traversed a good many miles before the sun set; and a thick
grove now appearing ahead, with a stream running by its side, they
hurried towards it.  Having entered the grove, they immediately began
stripping off the bark from some of the older trees, and collecting
firewood.  With the bark they formed a lean-to; and igniting the wood,
they soon had a fire blazing.

While the daylight lasted they allowed me to search for berries; one of
the party helping me, but keeping a constant watch on my movements.  The
rest, in the meantime, toasted on sticks some dried buffalo meat, a
small portion of which they gave to me.  Having satisfied my hunger, and
feeling very tired, I lay down before the fire, glad of the warmth; for
my clothes, though partly dry, were still damp, and I every now and then
gave a shiver, which made me fear that I was going to be seized with
illness.

From the way in which my captors had hitherto behaved towards me I hoped
that I should not be ill-treated, and believing that I should some day
or other make my escape, I determined not to be unhappy.  I was soon,
therefore, fast asleep.  Just before I closed my eyes I saw the Indians
sitting round the fire smoking their pipes, and eagerly discussing some
subject or other--probably, what they should do with me--but, in spite
of my precarious position, I never slept so soundly in my life as I did
for some hours.  When I at length awoke, I saw that a few embers alone
of the fire remained.  One of the Indians was walking up and down,
acting as sentry; while the others lay, with their feet towards the
fire, wrapped in their buffalo robes.  I was nearly certain that they
were the same men who had discovered my footprints, and they probably
had then left their robes concealed somewhere while they searched for me
in the river, and had afterwards resumed them.

How I wished that that sentinel would sit down and go to sleep!  If he
should do so, I had determined to get up and run away.  They would be
unable to follow my tracks in the dark, so that I should have a long
start of them; and I thought that I might possibly reach the river
before they could overtake me, and either swim down it, or get floated
down on a log of timber or a raft of rushes.

I had still my axe in my belt, which the Indians had not taken from me,
as also my hunting-knife.  I was nearly throwing away the first when
crossing the river, but, feeling its value, I resolved to keep it as
long as I could, and was very glad I had done so.  Once the thought came
into my mind that, should the sentry at last go to sleep, I might kill
all the Indians with my axe before they could awake.  I remembered a
story I had heard of a white woman who had been made prisoner thus
killing all her captors while sleeping, and ultimately escaping; but I
put the idea from me as a temptation of Satan, and felt more happy when
I had done so.  They had unjustly made me captive, it is true, but they
were only following the instincts of their savage nature; and it would
be a dreadful thing to think of afterwards, should I deprive them of
life.

As the sentry kept his post, and presently brought some more wood, which
he threw on the embers, I felt sure that he was not likely to neglect
his duty; therefore, closing my eyes, I again went off to sleep.  When I
next awoke the Indians were yawning and stretching themselves.  One got
up, and then another, and I saw that day had broken.

I sprang to my feet, and the idea came into my head to pretend that I
was not aware I was their captive; so, putting out my hand, I signified
that I would wish them a good morning and take my way homewards.  They
shook their heads--laughing, however, as if they thought the idea a good
joke; and two of them walking on either side of me, we set off in the
same order as before.

We travelled on all day, till, leaving the hilly country and crossing
several streams, we saw the wide prairie stretching out before us,
beyond some thick clumps of trees.  Towards one of these clumps the
Indians advanced, when I heard the neigh of a horse.  In a few minutes
we saw a couple of Indians, who had charge of several steeds tethered
among the trees.  A few words were exchanged between my captors and
them, after which they immediately set to work to build a lean-to and
light a fire.  From this I knew that they were going to pass the night
in the wood.  Again the hope rose in my breast that I might have a
chance of escaping, but I tried to put on as unconcerned an air as
possible.

The Indians we had found in the wood exhibited the carcass of a deer,
which they had, I supposed, killed during the day.  This was quickly cut
up in large pieces, and placed before, the fire to roast.

"I only hope, my friends, that you will gorge yourselves till you are
unable to move," I thought.  "Then, if I can but get on the back of one
of those horses, I will gallop off to the hills, and not let you see my
face again if I can help it."

I was not sorry, however, to eat some of the venison which the Indians
gave me; and then I lay down and pretended to go to sleep.  They sat up
feeding for some time after this; then, greatly to my disappointment,
one got on his feet and began to walk backwards and forwards, while the
rest stretched themselves on the ground, as they had done the night
before.  I watched and watched, and at last believing that they were too
cunning to allow me to escape, I closed my eyes and went to sleep.  I
awoke twice, and on each occasion observed that one of them was on the
watch.

When daylight appeared they all rose, and after shaking themselves, the
horses were caught and they got on horseback; their leader making a sign
to me to mount one of the spare animals, of which there were several.
This done, we immediately set off at full gallop across the plain,
taking a south-westerly direction.  We stopped twice during the day, to
allow our animals to crop the grass; while we took some food, a stream
near at hand supplying us with water.

Towards evening I espied several wigwams partly concealed by the wood
before us.  On approaching nearer, I saw that they were very different
from those to which I had been accustomed further east, where the Indian
dwellings are constructed of birch-bark.  These were, however, much
larger; the framework, consisting of long poles tied together at the top
in a conical shape, was covered with the tanned skins of buffalo and
deer, and was ornamented with figures of animals and men,--apparently
hunting scenes.

There were five or six of these wigwams pitched close together.  Several
women were moving about, or sitting on the ground.  In front of one
stood a tall man wrapped in a buffalo robe, with a spear in his hand,
whom I at once guessed to be the chief.  He contemplated us, as we drew
near, without moving, or seeming in any way interested.  This manner
was, I suspected, put on to show his own importance, when he discovered
that a white person was among our party.  Getting still nearer, another
Indian, who had been, I concluded, sleeping, and just awakened by the
tramp of our horses, crawled out of the tent to have a look at us.  It
was a perfect scene of Indian domestic life.  Near the chief, his wife
sat on the ground playing with her child, a fat little urchin; a second
woman was busy chopping wood; a third was coming in, axe in hand, with a
huge bundle of sticks on her back, and a child clinging round her neck
while a dog was too busy gnawing a bone to turn round and bark at us.

On drawing near, our leader got off his horse, and ordered us also to
dismount.  We then approached the chief, to whom he described, as I
concluded, the mode in which I had been taken prisoner.  The clever way
in which I had hidden myself, and the efforts I had made to escape,
elicited no small amount of admiration from the chief.  I could, of
course, only guess at what he said, but I caught a word here and there;
and he looked down on me and smiled with such benignity as his stern
features were capable of assuming.  At all events, I thought that these
people, whatever they might do, would not torture me or put me to death.

My captors having unsaddled their horses, turned them adrift to pick up
food on the surrounding prairie, where the grass grew with unusual
luxuriance.  The men then went to their lodges, leaving me with the
chief.  He seemed to have taken a fancy to me from the first, and now
invited me into his lodge, where his wife brought me a mess of broth,
which, hungry as I was, I found very palatable.

The floor of the greater part of the lodge was covered with
buffalo-skins, and a sort of divan, composed of stuffed cushions, was
arranged round the walls; while in the centre burned a large fire, from
which ascended volumes of smoke through the aperture at the top, though
no small quantity pervaded the wigwam.  Though disagreeable, it had the
effect of driving away mosquitoes and other flying things.

I had not expected to be so well treated; still, I could not tell how
long the chief might remain in his present good-humour.

The chief's name was, I found, Aguskogaut.  The tribe into whose hands I
had fallen were Sioux, who live entirely on the prairies, and subsist by
hunting the buffalo.  They had come further east than they generally
venture, in order that their warriors might make predatory excursions
against the more pacific and civilised Indians living near the white
men.  They seemed to have no fear of being attacked by the latter, as,
being well supplied with horses, they could beat a rapid retreat to the
westward; and I discovered that they had scouts out in all directions to
give notice of the approach of a foe.

Not knowing how long I might be kept a prisoner, I set to work at once
to try and learn the language of my captors.  The women, especially,
were very ready to teach me; and my willingness to learn gaining me
their friendship, they supplied me plentifully with food.  I was
puzzled, however, to know on what account they had carried me off, as I
certainly could in no way benefit them.  I concluded that one object
might be to hold me as a hostage, in case any of their party should be
taken prisoners.

The chief took me out riding with him, in search of deer or other game.
He was armed with his bow and a long spear; and knowing that a bow would
be of little use in my hands, he gave me a spear, with which to defend
myself or attack any animals we might come across.  He kept a sharp
look-out on me, however, in case I might try to escape; but I well knew
that, under present circumstances, it would be useless to make the
attempt.

We were successful the first day in running down a young deer, with
which we returned to the camp.  As we approached, what was my surprise
to hear the sound of a fiddle!  Surely those tones could be produced by
no one but Mike Laffan!  Could he have escaped?  There, sure enough, as
we rode up to the lodges, was Mike himself, standing in the midst of a
group of Indians; while he was fiddling away with might and main, they
were dancing to the best of their ability, and keeping very good time
too.

On seeing me he shouted out, "Good luck to ye, Masther Roger!  Sure my
heart was nigh breaking, when I thought ye had been drownded or shot to
death by these rid gintlemen; but it would not do to show me grafe, lest
it would make them think manely of me, so thinks I to meself, I'll
fiddle away as long as me elbow can move."

All the time he was speaking, he continued to play as furiously as at
first; most of those surrounding him jumping and whirling round and
round, or keeping time with their hands.  The Indians, we knew, must
have been aware that we were friends, and therefore it would be of no
use to pretend that we were strangers to each other.

Mike was at length obliged to stop playing; upon which the chief ordered
that he should be brought before him, and inquired how he had been
captured.  What account those who had taken him gave, I could not make
out; but Mike told me how, after the canoe had been upset, he had
floated some way down the stream clinging tightly to it.  Most of the
articles were soon thrown out.  The guns, of course, had at once gone to
the bottom, but the bales floated down.  At last he saw his beloved
fiddle washed out.

"Faix! it would have broken me heart to lose it," he observed; "so I
made a grab and caught it and the bow, and held them tight, although the
wetting, to be sure, was doing them no good.  Down I went, fasther and
fasther.  I could hear the roar of the lower cataract.  Thinks I to
meself, If I go over that I shall be done for, and just then I found the
canoe carried by the current towards the shore.  I struck out with me
feet to help it; and glad I was when, as I let them dhrop, I felt them
touch the ground.  I sprang up the bank, but, to me sorrow, the canoe
floated off, and it was more than I could do to get a hold of it again.
I climbed to the top of a cliff, hoping to catch sight of you, or of
Reuben and the Indian; but no one could I see.  And grieving from the
bottom of me heart at the thought that you were lost, I scrambled down
again, and made me way through the wood, guided by the sound of the
waterfall.

"I went on and on till I had passed it, looking out for our friends; but
not a glimpse of them could I see.  At last, as I was getting pretty
tired, I thought to meself that I would climb up into a tree to get some
rest, and hide away in case the inimy should be looking for me.
Scarcely had I stowed meself away among the branches when I heard
voices.  I dared not look out, but I guessed they were those of the
Indians, who had by some means or other missed me tracks, and having
gone down the bank before me, were now returning.  They passed by
without seeing me, which shows that they are not always so sharp-sighted
as is supposed.  I stayed up in the tree all night; but next morning,
being very hungry, I came down to make me breakfast off the berries I
had seen growing about.  There was no lack of them, and I was lucky
enough to knock down two young squirrels with a stick I had picked up.

"I was not happy in me mind all the time at going away without looking
for you, so, thinks I to myself, I'll try and find him.  I started up
the stream again to the place where the canoe was upset.  Not a trace of
you could I discover; so with a sad heart I began to make me way back
again.  It struck me that, somehow or other, I must have wandered away
from the river; and after trudging along all day I could nowhere find
it.  I felt still more unhappy than I had done before, and so, thinking
to solace myself, I sat down on a rock, and putting me fiddle to me
chin, began playing away.  I tried one tune and then another, and a
mighty dale of good it seemed to do me.  I was playing the `Groves of
Blarney,' when half a dozen rid-skinned savages jumped out of the bushes
and looked me full in the face.

"`Whoo!' says I.  `Whaugh!' says they, in chorus.  `Whoo!' says I again.
On which they came nearer, flourishing their ugly-looking
scalping-knives.

"`Is that what you're going to be afther?' said I, feeling uncomfortable
on the top of me head.  `Keep off, me beauties, till I give you another
tune.'  And putting up me fiddle to me chin--for I had let it drop, and
small blame to me!--I began scraping away as if I would be afther
shaking me arm off.

"`Whaugh!' says they again, beginning to skip and leap about.

"On this I played faster and faster; and the faster I played, the higher
they bounded.  `It's all right,' thinks I to meself; `they will not be
doing me any harm if I can keep them at that game.'  So I thought I had
best give them a tune with me voice into the bargain; and I sang, and
scraped, and shook me head, till they all burst out into fits of
laughter.

"On this I got up and made them a low bow; though I clapped my hat on
again pretty quick, in case of accidents.  And says I--`If you will all
sit down, and behave yourselves like dacent men, I'll tell you a tale
which will astonish you.'

"Whether or not they understood me, I could not for the life of me tell;
but, sure enough, down they all squatted.  And I began to recount to
them how Daniel O'Rourke one night, returning from waking Widow Casey at
Ballybotherem, and having taken a drop more than usual of the
`crayther,' saw the fairies come dancing round him; and I went on to
describe what Daniel said, and what the fairies did.  `And now,' says I,
`just sit quiet where you are till I come back and finish me story.'
And on this, giving another whoop, and a hop, skip, and a jump, I was
making me way back to the river, when up sprang the Ridskins and came
bounding afther me.  `Sure, thin,' says I, stopping short, and beginning
to scrape away as before on me fiddle, `you don't understand me.'  And,
by me faith, indade they did not; for without more ado they got round
me, and suspecting that I had been bamboozling them, began to prick me
with their spears behind, as a gentle hint that I was to march forward.

"Seeing that there was no use trying to make me escape--for, of course,
six men can run faster than one--I took their hints, which were not to
be mistaken, and stepped out in the direction they pointed, now and then
playing a tune to keep up me spirits and put them in good-humour.

"The long and the short of it is, that they made me prisoner, and
brought me along with them; until we found some horses, on which--
stopping a night or two on the way--we galloped along till we reached
this place.

"And here I am, Masther Roger! well pleased to find that you're alive,
and to bear you company."

And so Mike concluded his story.

The Indians allowed Mike and me to talk together without interfering
with us.  I told him that I would try to escape as soon as I could.

"Sure, and that is what I'll be afther," he answered.  "But it's more
easily said than done, I am afraid.  However, where there is a will
there is a way; and cunning as the Ridskins think themselves, maybe
we'll be even with them."

While we were talking we had observed some commotion among the
inhabitants of the lodges; and presently we caught sight of a band of
horsemen scouring across the prairie towards us, and flourishing their
spears as they came along.  At first I thought they might be enemies;
but as no preparations were made for the defence of the camp, I knew
that they must be friends.  In a few minutes they galloped up; and the
leading warriors, decked in war-paint and feathers, dismounted, each of
them carrying one or more scalps hanging to the end of his spear.  Our
chief, Aguskogaut, who had put on his finest robes, advanced to meet
them while they stepped forward; and their leader began a long harangue,
which sounded very fine, although I could not make out what it was all
about.

Mike and I stood on one side, thinking it as well to keep out of the
way.  The new-comers, however, after a time began to point towards where
we were standing; and I guessed they were talking about us, and
inquiring how we happened to be there.

Aguskogaut then, as we supposed, gave them an account of what had
occurred; to which (as I judged from their gestures) they replied, that
we ought to have been killed, and our scalps taken to adorn their
lodges.  On this Aguskogaut--who was, happily, our friend--made another
speech; and lifting up his hand to heaven, appeared to be invoking the
Great Spirit, and letting his countrymen understand that we were under
his protection, and that no harm must happen to us.  So successful was
his eloquence, that the warriors appeared to be satisfied.  At all
events, we were allowed to move about within sight of the camp, no one
molesting us.

The next day there was a great feast in honour of the victory which had
been gained.

Mike and I were generally kept apart; but we occasionally found
opportunities for meeting, when we did not fail to discuss plans for
escaping.  We were, however, too narrowly watched to allow at present of
any of them being feasible: wherever we went, an Indian, apparently
appointed for the purpose, had his eye on us.  Had we managed to mount
any of the horses tethered near the lodges or feeding around, we should
have been immediately tracked and followed.  Still, it kept up our
spirits to talk of what we would do.  We were not otherwise ill-treated,
and were amply supplied with dried buffalo meat.  Sometimes the hunters
brought in a deer or a bear; but as there was always on such occasions a
grand feast, the fresh meat did not last long.

At last, one morning the Indians turned out at daybreak, and immediately
began taking down the tents and packing up their goods.  The coverings
for the tents were divided and done up in bales, and then secured to the
backs of horses.  The poor women were loaded with as much as they could
carry, in addition to the younger children.  The chief's squaws were
allowed to mount; but their animals were also loaded like the rest of
the horses.  The men carried only their arms, and spare buffalo robes
strapped on to their saddles.  Mike and I were compelled to assist in
doing up the bales, the squaws showing us how to perform the operation;
sometimes scolding us, at other times laughing at what they considered
our clumsiness.

When all was done, we were left standing; so we concluded that it was
the intention of the Indians to compel us to march on foot.

"Begorrah," exclaimed Mike, "I don't like this fun at all, at all!  See,
there are two mustangs without anything on their backs!  Small blame to
us if we just get astride them."  And suiting the action to the word, he
leaped on to one of the ponies, while I mounted the other.  Whether they
belonged to any of the Indians, we could not tell, but there were
several spare animals besides.

Urging on our steeds, we joined the throng of warriors, who were already
forming at a little distance from our late camp.  The chief laughed when
he saw us, and exchanged remarks with some of his companions.  We
concluded that these were in our favour, for we were allowed to retain
our steeds.

The signal was now given to advance, and the tribe moved forward in a
south-westerly direction.  Though we were glad to be on horseback, yet
our spirits sank when we found that we were getting further and further
from home, and saw our chances of escape diminishing.

"No matter," cried Mike; "the longer we stay with these Indians, the
more we shall know of their ways, and be the better able to desave them.
We must appear to be perfectly continted and happy, and try to spake
their language--though it gives me a pain in me jaws whenever I utter
one of their long words."

"You are right, Mike; I will try to practise your philosophy," I
answered.

We marched on all day, stopping only for a short time to take our scanty
meals.  We could proceed but slowly, on account of the women and loaded
animals; but the warriors scoured over the plain on both sides of our
line of march, either looking out for an enemy or in search of game.
Mike and I, however, were kept with the main body.  At night we encamped
either near a wood or by the side of a stream, where there were always
trees to afford us fuel for our fires.  Thus we went on for several
days.

The Indians were, we guessed, making for a region frequented by buffalo,
which had not this year come so far east as usual.  At last we reached
the spot at which they considered it desirable to remain; there being a
full stream from which water could be obtained, and plenty of wood to
afford fuel for our fires.  In every other direction, as far as we could
see, the country was nearly level, with little or no timber of any size
growing on it.  The women immediately set about their usual avocations.
But as our meals were very scanty, it was evident that there was a
scarcity of meat in the camp.

Early next morning a band of twenty men mounted their best horses to set
out, as we concluded, in search of buffalo.  Without asking leave, Mike
and I got on our steeds and joined them.  They did not object to this;
probably supposing that we should not attempt to make our escape so far
from home.  We each of us obtained a bow and a quiver full of arrows,
besides a long spear.  None of the tribe possessed firearms.

We rode on for some distance, the main body keeping together, while
scouts were sent forward to look out for buffalo.  At last we reached a
broad stream, and were proceeding along the bank, when my companions
became greatly interested; and looking out to the left, I saw the whole
plain covered with a dense mass of dark objects, which I at once guessed
to be buffalo.  It was evident that they were making for the river.  The
Indians, urging on their horses, dashed forward to try to intercept the
herd before they could cross it.  It seemed to me, however, that we
should be too late to do that.

I could see the scouts galloping along the flank of the herd nearest us,
trying to find an opening among them into which they might penetrate;
while every now and then they let fly one of their arrows into the neck
of an animal.  As to turning the herd, or preventing it from crossing
the stream, they might as well have attempted to stop the falls of
Niagara in their downward course.  With a tramp which shook the earth,
and terrific bellowings sounding far across the plain, onward rushed the
seemingly maddened creatures, tossing their heads, throwing high their
tails, and turning up the earth in their course.

The river was reached before we could get up to them; and their leaders
plunging in, they began to swim across, the animals in the rear driving
those in front into the water.  The former would have treated the latter
in the same way had they reached the edge of a precipice, when all would
have gone over together.  As it was, they proved themselves good
swimmers, quickly gaining the opposite bank, and rushing forward as at
first.

Before we got within shot of them, the greater number had crossed; but
the hunters, urging on their well-trained steeds, rode boldly up,
shooting their arrows within a few feet of the creatures.  Three or four
only fell; others seemed to take no notice of their wounds; and several,
springing out of the herd, with heads lowered to the ground, plunged
forward furiously at their assailants.  The nimble horses wheeled as
they approached, and escaped the attack made on them; their riders never
failing to discharge one or two arrows in return at the infuriated
buffalo.  Had we possessed firearms, many more would have been killed.

The Indians had no intention of giving up the pursuit.  Where the herd
had crossed the river, the water was too deep to allow us to wade over.
At a signal from their leader, however, the hunters turned their horses,
and galloped back in the direction from whence we had come; soon we
reached a ford, where we all crossed, though the water almost covered
the backs of our short-legged ponies.  The herd could still be seen in
the far distance, so we immediately galloped on to overtake it.

Though called buffalo, the animal I am speaking of is really the bison.
It has a protuberant hunch on its shoulders, and the body is covered,
especially towards the head, by long, fine, woolly hair, which makes the
animal appear much more bulky than it really is.  That over the head,
neck, and fore part of the body is long and shaggy, and forms a beard
beneath the lower jaw, descending to the knees in a tuft; while on the
top it rises in a dense mass nearly to the tops of the horns, and is
strongly curled and matted on the front.  The tail is short, and has a
tuft at the end--the general colour of the hair being a uniform dun.
The legs are especially slender, and appear to be out of all proportion
to the body; indeed, it seems wonderful that they are able to bear it,
and that the animals can at the same time exhibit the activity they
seemed possessed of.

In summer the buffalo finds an abundance of food by cropping the sweet
grass which springs up after the fires so frequent in one part or other
of the prairies.  In winter, in the northern regions, it would starve,
were it not possessed of a blunt nose, covered by tough skin, with which
it manages to dig into the snow and shovel it away, so as to get at the
herbage below.  In winter, too, the hair grows to a much greater length
than in summer, when the hinder part is covered only by a very short
fine hair, smooth as velvet.  Many thousands of these magnificent
animals congregate in herds, which roam from north to south over the
western prairies.  At a certain time of the year the bulls fight
desperately with each other, on which occasions their roaring is truly
terrific.

The hunters select, when they can, female buffalo, as their flesh is far
superior in quality and tenderness to that of the males.  The females
are, however, far more active than the males, and can run three times as
fast, so that swift horses are required to keep up with them.  The
Indians complain of the destruction of the buffalo--forgetting that
their own folly in killing the females is one of the chief causes of the
diminution of their numbers.

Huge and unwieldy as is the buffalo, it dashes over the ground at a
surprising rate, bounding with large and clumsy-looking strides across
the roughest country, plunging down the broken sides of ravines, and
trying the mettle of horses and the courage of riders in pursuit of it.

To the Indians of the prairies the buffalo is of the greatest possible
value, for they depend on these animals for their food, tents, clothing,
and numerous other articles.  They dress the skins with the hair on, and
these serve as cloaks or coverings at night.  The horns are converted
into powder-flasks; the hides, when tanned, serve to cover their tents;
and the wool makes a coarse cloth.  When the flesh is eaten fresh, it is
considered superior in tenderness and flavour to that of the domestic
ox; the hump especially being celebrated for its delicacy.  It is also
cut into strips and dried in the sun; or it is pounded up with the fat
and converted into pemmican.  The hides are used also for leggings,
saddles, or, when cut into strips, form halters.  With the sinews,
strings are made for their bows.  From the bones they manufacture a
variety of tools--of the smaller ones making needles, and using the
finer sinews as threads.  From the ribs, strengthened by some of the
stronger sinews, are manufactured the bows which they use so
dexterously.  The bladder of the animal is used as a bottle; and often,
when the Indian is crossing the prairie where no water is to be found,
he is saved from perishing of thirst by killing a buffalo and extracting
the water which is found in its inside.

To resume: In spite of the rate at which the buffalo were going, we soon
overtook them on our swift mustangs; and now began the most exciting
part of our day's sport.  The leading portion of the herd kept close
together; but in the rear the animals were separated--some lagging
behind, others scattering on either side.  The Indians, with their bows
drawn or their spears couched in their hands, dashed in among them,
shooting right and left, or plunging their weapons into the shoulders of
the brutes--so dexterously aiming the blows, that many of their victims
fell pierced to the heart.

Mike and I, though good horsemen, were but little accustomed to the
Indian weapons; and although we did our best, many of the buffalo at
which we rode either escaped being wounded, or galloped off with our
arrows sticking in their bodies.  We each of us, however, managed to
kill an animal, and were galloping on, closely following one of the
principal hunters, when a huge bull, after which the Indian was riding,
turned suddenly round, and with its head to the ground rushed madly at
him.  His horse for a moment stood stock-still, watching the buffalo,
while the Indian shot his arrow.  It struck the animal on the neck, but
failed to kill it.  I expected that the next moment I should see both
horse and rider rolling on the ground; but the well-trained steed sprang
nimbly on one side, and the now infuriated buffalo dashed towards Mike
and me.  I shot my last arrow, but it glanced off the skull of the
creature, which now came towards me, looking the picture of savageness.

I endeavoured to make my steed spring on one side, but barely in time to
escape the tremendous battering-ram--for to nothing else can I liken the
buffalo's head.  The creature went rushing on till it was met by two
Indians, one of whom shot his arrow, while the other struck his spear so
exactly in the buffalo's breast that the huge creature immediately fell
over dead.

Such was the beginning of our day's hunt.  I was completely carried away
by the excitement of the chase, and was as eager to kill buffalo as any
Indian amongst them.  As I had exhausted all my arrows, I had now only
my spear to trust to.  Had I been dependent on my own skill, I should
have been quickly overthrown, and probably gored to death; but my
well-trained mustang knew far more about the matter than I did, so I let
him get out of the way of any of the animals which attacked me as he
thought best.

I had singled out a young bull which turned off from the herd, and I
followed it up, expecting to be able to get ahead of it, so that I might
point my spear full at its breast in the way I had seen several of the
Indians do, knowing that my mustang would spring on one side should it
be necessary.  Suddenly the bull stopped; then turning round and seeing
me before it, came rushing towards me.  I endeavoured to run my spear
into its breast, and then make my steed spring out of the way.  I thrust
my spear with all my force; but before I could let go my grasp it was
whisked out of my hand, after which my horse sprang clear of the animal
with a bound which very nearly threw me from the saddle, and had
galloped some distance away before I could stop it.

What a glorious opportunity this would be for escaping!  I thought to
myself.  Had Mike been near me, I should have proposed doing so.  I was
looking round, to try and ascertain where he was, when down came my
steed--having stepped into the hole of a prairie dog, numbers of which
honeycombed the ground around--and I was thrown right over his head.  As
I lay half-stunned, I saw to my horror the whole herd of buffalo tearing
along towards me, ploughing up the turf with their hoofs, and bellowing
loudly.  I fully expected to be trampled to death before many minutes
had passed, or to be tossed high in the air over their shaggy backs.  My
horse, looking up, saw his danger, and seemed to understand the state of
affairs as well as I did.  He made desperate struggles to rise; and I
endeavoured to get on my feet and seize the reins, hoping to mount
before the herd was upon me.  I might thus gallop off, and keep ahead of
them till I could find an opportunity of turning on one side.

I rose, but fell again before I could reach the reins which hung over my
steed's neck.  Already I could almost see the eyes of the infuriated
beasts; but I was not going to give up my life if I could help it.  I
therefore made another desperate effort, and reaching the rein, patted
the animal's nose, turning his eyes away from the approaching foe; then
in an instant--I scarcely know how I did it--I was on his back.

I was fully aware that the same accident which had brought me to the
ground might again occur; but of that I must run the risk.  Before,
however, my horse could spring forward, the herd was close upon us.
Digging my heels into his flanks, I urged him on, shrieking at the top
of my voice.  The sound of the tramping hoofs behind him, the bellowing
of the bulls, and the expectation every instant of being probed by their
horns, made him strain every muscle to keep ahead of them.  His speed
was far greater than theirs, and he soon distanced them; but still, the
danger of again falling was imminent, for as we flew along I could see
in every direction the burrows of those abominable little prairie dogs,
though the inhabitants had taken good care to ensconce themselves far
down out of the way of the hoofs of the buffalo.  Looking over my
shoulder, I saw that by turning to the right I might soon get clear of
the herd, which did not extend far on that side.  I accordingly pulled
the right rein, so as to ride almost across the course the herd was
taking; and observed, as I did so, a number of the Indians galloping
along by the side of the buffalo, and shooting their arrows.

I was congratulating myself on the prospect of escaping, when down came
my steed once more; and as I was as unprepared for the accident as
before, I was thrown over his head, and more severely injured than at
first.  Still, though partly stunned, I could see what was taking place.
I fancied that I was, at all events, sufficiently to the right of the
herd to escape being trampled to death, when just then a huge bull, who
must have had his eye upon me, wheeled from his companions, and, putting
his head to the ground, made, as I thought, towards me.  To escape by
mounting my horse was now out of the question, for I had been thrown too
far to seize the reins, and the poor animal still lay struggling to get
his feet out of the hole.  Any other than a prairie horse would have
broken his legs, or sprained himself irretrievably.  Just when I
expected to be trampled to death or gored by the bull's horns, I saw
that the savage creature was making towards my horse instead of me; but
as it reached the mustang, the latter drew his feet out of the hole, and
throwing up his heels at the bull's nose, scampered off, followed by his
enemy, while the rest of the herd swept by like a torrent, not ten yards
from where I lay.  Some stragglers, however, caught sight of me; and
another big bull was rushing on to give me a taste of his horns and
hoofs, when a loud "Whallop-ahoo-aboo!  Erin go bragh!" sounded in my
ears.

"Don't be afraid, Masther Roger, me darlint!" shouted Mike, for it was
he who had uttered the cry; and dashing forward with spear in rest, he
struck the bull behind the shoulder with such force that his weapon must
have pierced the animal's heart.  It swerved on one side, thereby
enabling Mike to avoid trampling on me, and the next moment fell over
perfectly dead.

A number of Indians passing at the moment, applauded Mike's achievement.
I managed at the same time to get on my feet, and pointed to my horse.

"Ay, to be sure; I'll be afther him," cried Mike, "as soon as I can git
me shtick out of this baste's carcass."

He tugged and tugged till he liberated his spear, then galloped off in
the direction my horse had taken, leaving me by the dead bull.

I had no longer any fear of being knocked over by the buffalo, as all,
except a few laggards, had passed by, and were further away to the left.
I could just see Mike attacking with his spear the animal which had
pursued my horse; but a faintness again came over me, and I was obliged
to sit down on the ground.  I had no fear of being deserted, as I was
sure that the Indians would come to look after the animals they had
killed; and in a few minutes Mike returned, leading my horse, who
appeared none the worse for his falls or his encounter with the buffalo.

We had by this time reached a part of the country where woods and hills
could be seen rising here and there above the plain.  The rearmost of
the buffalo had become separated, and many of the Indians, having
exhausted their arrows, were now attacking them with their spears; two
hunters generally singling out one animal, and riding alongside it till
they had wounded it to death.  As far as I could see, on either side,
the country exhibited an animated scene,--the buffalo scampering along
in every direction, with Indians riding after them, their robes wildly
flying in the air, while they flourished their spears above their heads.
On the ground over which we had come could be distinguished numerous
dark spots,--the bodies of the buffalo we had slain.  Indeed, our
comparatively small party had, I afterwards found, killed upwards of two
hundred animals; which will give some idea of the numbers annually
slaughtered by the Indians.

At length they gave over the chase, and commenced the operation of
skinning their victims, leaving most of the carcasses a prey to the
wolves.  The tongues and humps, however, were generally secured, as well
as the flesh of the cows, which is, as I have said, far superior in
tenderness to that of the bulls.

The horses loaded with skins and meat, we returned at night to the camp;
and as our captors had now an abundance of provisions, they were in an
unusually good-humour.

"Sure, thin, but this wouldn't be a bad opportunity for us to git away
from these rid gintlemen," observed Mike, as we watched them feasting on
the produce of the day's hunt--stuffing such huge quantities of flesh
into their insides, that it seemed impossible, were they long to
continue the operation, that they would be able to move.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

MIKE'S PRECAUTION--WE AGAIN GO BUFFALO-HUNTING--THE PRAIRIE ON FIRE--A
RIDE FOR LIFE--OUR ESCAPE FROM THE FIRE AND THE INDIANS--HOBBLING
HORSES--THE FIRE IS STOPPED BY THE RIVER--A BRIEF SLEEP--OUR FISHING
TACKLE--MIKE CATCHES A CAT-FISH--OUR LEAN-TO--MIKE LOSES HIS BOOK--THE
VISIT OF BRUIN--A HEARTY MEAL--DEATH OF MIKE'S HORSE--I AM TAKEN SICK--
MIKE'S CAREFUL WATCH--MY HORSE IS DROWNED--OUR VISIT TO THE RICE-LAKE--
WE FIND LILY AND DORA THERE, WITH ASHATEA, IN A CANOE, GATHERING RICE--
LILY'S ACCOUNT OF MANILICK, THE YOUNG CHIEF, ASHATEA'S LOVER--KEPENAU'S
ADDRESS--AGAIN TAKEN ILL--HOW I RECOVER.

Mike and I were on the watch for an opportunity of mounting our horses
and galloping off unperceived by the Indians; but, though they feasted
for several successive days, that opportunity never came.
Unfortunately, so far as our enterprise was concerned, they had no
whisky in the camp, and were therefore able to watch our movements.

In a few days the hunters again set out, to obtain a further supply of
buffalo robes; not that these were required for their own use, but they
intended to exchange them with the traders for whisky and other
articles--especially firearms and ammunition.  The chief and two or
three of the leading men had already procured weapons, although as yet
they were by no means expert in their use.

"They'll soon give us a chance, if they get howld of the whisky,"
observed Mike; "so we must have patience till that happy time comes."

As we had proved ourselves such expert hunters on the previous occasion,
the Indians decided to take us with them, and allowed us to select two
capital horses, as also some tough spears and a supply of arrows.  We
likewise stowed away, at Mike's suggestion, as much dried buffalo meat
as our pouches would hold.  "There is no harm in having it," he
observed; "and it may just come in convanient if we get the chance of
giving our rid-skinned frinds the slip."

I was glad to find that the Indians were directing their course to the
north-west of the camp, towards a plain on which, the scouts had brought
word, buffalo had been seen feeding the previous evening, and it was
supposed that they were not yet likely to have got far off.  When we
reached the ground, however, it was found that they had gone away
further to the northward, so chase was immediately made after them.  The
herd must have gone on at a somewhat rapid rate, for we forded several
streams, and entered on a part of the prairie across which, after riding
a few miles, we could see nothing but the waving grass on every side.

The chief had of late been friendly, and kept Mike and me near him.  He
was evidently pleased with the good-humour we exhibited, and probably
thought that we were contented with our lot.

At last we came in sight of the rear-guard of the herd, when the Indians
at once gave chase.

We had been riding on for some time, the buffalo evidently moving at a
greater speed than they do under ordinary circumstances, when the chief,
who was on the right of the party, stopped, and looking round him,
shouted to those who were within hearing.  I could not understand what
he said, and asked Mike if he could.

"Sure, it's something not altogether plisant," he answered.  "Look
there, Masther Roger.  What does that mane?"

He pointed, as he spoke, to a long line of what looked like grey mist,
forming wreaths, and rising above the horizon to the westward.

I saw several of the Indians standing up in their stirrups and gazing in
the same direction.  They knew perfectly well what it was, but they were
trying to ascertain a point of vital importance to us all.  The prairie
was on fire!  Of that there was no doubt; but, in order to give
themselves the best chance of saving their lives, it was necessary to
settle, before galloping forward, what course to take.

While the Indians were discussing this point, Mike, who had been looking
about him, exclaimed to me,--"There is one way we want to go, and that
is to the north-east.  Never mind if we do get singed a little, for
sure, as we came along, I remember that we passed several swamps.  If we
can get into one of them we shall be safe, as the fire won't be afther
crossing the wather."

"But the Indians will probably take the same direction," I observed.

"Sure, if they intinded doing that same, they would have been off at
once," he answered.  "They have some raison for what they think of
doing, and we have another for what we will do; so come along, Masther
Roger.  There's only one thing I mourn for, and that is me fiddle; but
no matther; maybe I will be afther getting that another time.
Whallop-ahoo-aboo!  Erin go bragh!"  Then digging his heels into his
horse's flanks, he set off in the direction he proposed; and I, seeing
that the Indians were too much occupied to notice us, galloped after
him.

As I turned my head I saw them scampering along towards the north-west.
The fire having approached with far greater rapidity than I could have
supposed possible, I began to fear that they were right and we were
wrong, when I saw the flames catching the dry grass and flaring up
furiously, with dense masses of black smoke above them, and already
scarcely a mile behind us; indeed, they looked very much nearer.  Onward
came the conflagration, faster than any horse could gallop.  Happily we
had the start of it, but we must, we knew, keep our steeds at the utmost
stretch of their powers to maintain a safe distance.

As our course diverged more and more from that of the Indians, they soon
discovered our object, and shouted to us to accompany them.

"Bawl away, me boys!" answered Mike.  "It is not convanient just now to
attind to you."

When our intention became clearly evident, the chief despatched two of
his people in pursuit of us; but we kept well ahead of our pursuers, and
they, fearing that the fire would overtake them, turned and took the
same direction as the main body.  Soon after this we lost sight of our
late companions.

"I would be well contint never to set eyes on you again, me jewels,"
said Mike, shaking his spear as a sign of farewell.

Although my companion kept up his spirits, I could not avoid fearing
that, after all, the fire would overtake us.  Happily our horses were
fleet and in good wind, as we had not exhausted them during the early
part of the day; and all we could do at present was to gallop on.  The
wind, of which there had hitherto been very little, now got up, and blew
almost in our faces, driving the fire in the direction the Indians had
taken, and at the same time keeping it back from that in which we were
going.  Still on came the fire, the whole country in our rear apparently
one mass of flame.  Even now, did we stop, we should be overtaken.
Happily for us, there were no buffalo in the direction from which the
fire was coming, or we should have run the danger of being overwhelmed
by them.  Smaller animals, however, came rushing by us or close at our
heels, but too much frightened even to notice us; and we were in too
great a hurry to interfere with them.

I am almost afraid to say how many miles we covered in a couple of
hours, but certainly not till that time had elapsed did we get to a safe
distance from the fire; and even then, on looking back, we could see it
raging along the whole verge of the horizon to the westward and
southward.  It was clear to me that Mike was mistaken about the swamps,
and had not the wind, providentially for us, changed, we should probably
have fallen victims.

We now slackened our speed a little, hoping to meet with some broad
river which might prove a barrier to the flames, should another change
of wind drive them towards us, as there was nothing, so far as we could
see, to stop the fire from quickly overtaking us.  Our horses, too, were
already suffering from want of water, and so were we.  We therefore
eagerly looked out for a pool or stream at which we might slake our
thirst.  At length, greatly to our joy, as evening was approaching, we
caught sight in the far distance of a silvery line of water glittering
in the rays of the western sun.  It was a river running from the
north-west to the south-east, and as we approached we saw that it was of
considerable width.  Should it not prove fordable, we resolved to swim
across.

With infinite satisfaction we reached the bank of the river, and
descending quickly, allowed our horses to drink; while, stooping down by
their sides, we lapped up the water eagerly with our hands.  It seemed
as if we could never drink enough.  When we had somewhat slaked our
thirst, we looked about for a place at which to cross.  From the
appearance of the current a little lower down, we hoped that we should
there find the river fordable; we accordingly agreed to lead our horses
to it.

On climbing up the bank we observed that the fire was still raging in
the direction from whence we had come; and it was evidently very much
nearer.  We had wished to allow our animals to rest and recover their
strength before attempting to cross; but on again looking back we saw
that there was no time to be lost.  We accordingly at once mounted, and
urged our steeds into the water, keeping their heads up the stream.

As we advanced it grew deeper and deeper, and we expected every moment
to have our horses taken off their legs; still it would not do to turn
back.  Our greatest chance of safety lay in pushing forward.  The cool
water restored strength to our beasts, and, sagaciously leaning over
against the current, they soon got across the deep part.  We had now no
further difficulty, and in a few minutes landed safely on the opposite
side.  Fortunately there was plenty of fresh herbage, and we allowed the
animals to crop it, while we sat down and discussed some of the pemmican
with which, by Mike's forethought, we had provided ourselves.  Without
it we should have starved; for we could find nothing eatable anywhere
around.  As night was approaching, and our horses were too much knocked
up to go further, we resolved to remain on the bank of the river till
the morning.  We accordingly hobbled the animals, and then looked about
for some place which might afford us shelter.

Our search was rewarded by the discovery of a hollow made by the stream
in the bank during the spring floods.  Here we hoped that we might rest
secure from danger.  Indians were not likely to be passing at that time
of the evening, and no wolves would find their way, we believed, into
our cave.  Our horses were, of course, more exposed to risk than
ourselves; but we were obliged to let them take their chance, for unless
they were allowed to feed during the night they would be unable to carry
us the next day.

After leaving our horses to pick up their supper, we were about to
return to our cave, when, on looking to the eastward, we observed that
the fire was making most rapid progress in our direction.  We felt
thankful indeed that we were on the right side of the river.

On came the conflagration, the heat sensibly increasing every minute,
while dark wreaths of smoke filled the air, below which the burning
grass and shrubs hissed and crackled.  The darkness of night added to
the fearful character of the scene.  As far as the eye could reach there
appeared a long unbroken line of fire: now, as it caught some thick bush
or clump of trees, forked flames rose high in the air; in other places
it came along maintaining the same height, but ever advancing, till it
reached the bank of the river, when every shrub and tree was enveloped
in a sheet of fire; and notwithstanding the width of the river, we
expected every instant to see some of the sparks carried across, and the
whole country on our side given over to destruction.  We might save our
own lives, but our horses would inevitably be lost.

We sat anxiously watching the conflagration as it raged along the entire
bank: now the sparks, wafted by the wind, flew high into the air; now
burning branches fell hissing into the water.

"It's all very fine," observed Mike, after watching it for some time;
"but I would rather be afther going quietly to slape."

I felt quite as tired as did Mike, but I sat up till my eyes began to
close and my head to droop, and I could not for the life of me tell what
I was looking at.  I had just sense enough left to lie down alongside
Mike, when I was almost directly asleep.  I do not think I ever slept
more soundly in my life than I did on that occasion.  So thoroughly
wearied out was I, that I forgot all about the fire raging within a few
hundred yards of us; or prowling wolves, or Indians, or rattlesnakes,
which might have made their holes in the bank.

When I awoke I found Mike sitting up, dawn having just broken.  The fire
had burned itself out, a few burning embers alone appearing on the
opposite side, with here and there a blackened stem of some tree which
had resisted the flames.  One side of the river presented a scene of
utter desolation, while the other was still green, and glittering with
the dew of early morn.

We knelt down and returned thanks to God for our preservation, and
offered up a petition that he would still take care of us.  We then ate
a little more pemmican, and took a draught of water from the river;
though, to do so, we had to drive back the burned twigs and black scum
which came floating down the stream.  We then caught our horses, which,
in consequence of being hobbled, had not strayed far; and after leading
them down to drink we mounted and rode on to the north-east.  Reaching
some elevated ground whence we could obtain an extensive view, we looked
round to ascertain if any Indians were in sight.  Not a human being
could we discover; and we therefore, with increased hopes that we might
escape, continued our journey.

I asked Mike how many days he thought it would take us to reach home,
that I might see if his computation agreed with mine.  I calculated,
recollecting the distance we had come with our captors, that it would
occupy us a week at least, or perhaps ten days.  He was of the same
opinion.

"But will our pemmican last us as long?"  I asked.

"Sure, that depinds upon how much we take of it each day," he answered.
"The berries are now ripe, and by good luck I have found a couple of
fish-hooks in me pocket.  Maybe, also, I can manage to manufacture some
traps in which to catch birds or small animals; and though we have no
arrows, if we are hard pressed we may make some; and we have got our
spears.  If we could only meet with a young bear, we should have flesh
enough to last us for many a day.  Sure, we'll not be fearing harm till
it comes upon us."

I agreed with Mike that we were not so badly off after all, and we rode
forward in good spirits.  There was still, of course, the danger of
being overtaken by the Indians; but on that score Mike thought that we
need not trouble ourselves.  They would probably suppose that we had
been destroyed by the fire; or they themselves might have met with the
fate from which we had so narrowly escaped.

The sun shone brightly from the unclouded sky; the atmosphere was clear,
and we could see objects at a great distance.  We looked out, as we rode
along, for any of the natives who might be passing either on the
war-path or engaged in hunting, as we resolved to endeavour to avoid
them rather than risk an encounter.  They might prove to be friends; but
if enemies, we knew that we should have a poor chance of coming off
victorious.  Whenever the country was open, we galloped across it as
fast as we could venture to push our horses without over-fatiguing them;
but when we came to woody districts we kept as much as possible under
shelter of the trees, so as to avoid being seen.  We did not forget
that, should enemies cross our trail, they would probably follow us.  We
therefore very frequently looked about us, to ascertain if we were
pursued.  We agreed that, in that case, we would run for it, trusting to
the mettle of our horses for escape.

It may seem strange, but I enjoyed the excitement, and should not have
been alarmed had we caught sight of a dozen Redskins, provided they were
on foot, and we had a fair start.  Mike did not quite enter into my
feelings, however.

"Sure it would be betther, Masther Roger, if we could get along asily,
and just stop and enjoy our dinner and supper without the feeling that
at any moment our scalps might be taken off our heads," he observed.

"We have kept them on through much greater dangers than we are now
likely to meet with," I answered; "and while we have fleet horses under
us, we may laugh at the Indians.  They won't know that we are without
firearms, and they are terribly afraid of bullets."

For all this, I should have been glad had we possessed a good rifle and
a brace of pistols apiece.  Though our spears might serve us in a close
encounter with a bear, or even with wolves, we were but ill able to
protect ourselves against the arrows of a party of Redskins.

Whenever we reached a height we surveyed the country both before and
behind us, to make sure, in the first place, that no Indians were
following; and, in the second, that none were encamped ahead, or, as I
have before said, moving about.  During the day we met with several
small streams at which we could water our horses and slake our own
thirst; and the first night we encamped under shelter of a wood, where
there was plenty of grass for our steeds.  We contented ourselves with
forming a lean-to, but did not light a fire lest it should betray our
whereabouts.  Having eaten a little more pemmican, we formed our beds of
spruce-fir tops, and lay down to rest.

"Do you slape as sound as you like, Masther Roger; I'll jist keep one
eye open, in case any unwelcome visitor should take the throuble to poke
his nose into our palace," observed Mike.  "When you think you have had
rest enough, you can jist wake up and let me take a snooze till
morning."

I thanked my honest friend for his kind intentions, and in less than
half a minute my eyes were closely shut.  When I awoke it was already
dawn, but Mike, instead of keeping watch, was as sound asleep as I had
been.

"Hallo, Mike!"  I exclaimed; "I thought that you intended to rest with
one eye open all night."

"Sure, Masther Roger, haven't I done so, barring the last few minutes,"
he answered.  "I did my best, thinking that every moment you would be
getting up; and small blame to me if at last I dramed that you did get
up, and told me that you would take a turn at watching."

"Never mind, since no harm has happened," I said.  "Now let us mount our
horses and ride forward till we can get some cold water for breakfast."

Our animals, who now knew us, came at our call; and throwing ourselves
on their backs, we galloped forward as we had done the day before.  Not
a human being did we meet with during the whole day, and in the evening
we encamped by the side of a broad stream overshadowed by trees.  From
the appearance of several deep holes close under the bank, we hoped that
fish might be found in them.  As soon, therefore, as we had secured our
horses, we set to work to manufacture lines for the two hooks which Mike
had found in his pocket.

Some people might have been puzzled how to get the lines, but we were
not to be defeated in our object.  We procured them by cutting off a
small portion of the two hobbles, which consisted of long strips of
deer-hide, and plucking some hairs out of our horses' tails.  The
deer-hide we cut into thinner strips, which served for the upper part of
the lines, while the lower were formed of the hair platted together.  We
thus in a short time had two good lines, to which we carefully secured
the hooks.  Having caught some grasshoppers, we determined to try them
for bait; while our spears served us for fishing-rods.  Hunger made us
keen sportsmen, and never had I felt so anxious for success.

My line had not been long in the water when I felt a bite.  I almost
trembled with eagerness as I gave a gentle jerk, sufficient to hook the
unwary fish.  It tugged pretty hard, and I was sure that I had it fast;
but still I was afraid that it might break my line.  Carefully I drew it
along till I got it sufficiently near the surface to ascertain its size.
To my satisfaction, I saw that it was not more than two or three
pounds' weight.  After playing it for some time I drew it towards the
bank, when Mike, who had hitherto not got a bite, left his rod and
rushed into the water to secure our prize, exclaiming--

"Faix, thin, we'll have this darlint for our supper to-night; and,
bedad! there is another at my line.  Hurrah! good luck to us!"

Throwing the fish to me, which proved to be a gold-eye, he sprang off,
just in time to catch his rod, the end of which was nearly off the bank.

"Och, murther," he cried out, "but it's a big one!" and he rushed along
the shore, jumping over all impediments; shrieking out in his eagerness
in a manner which would have made a sedate Indian fancy that he had gone
out of his mind.

I could not help laughing as I watched him.

"Come along, Masther Roger, and lend me a hand, or the baste will be
afther getting away."

Securing our first prize, I followed Mike as he rushed along down the
bank, afraid of breaking his line, which was by this time stretched to
the utmost.  Now he gently pulled it in, now he allowed it to go off
again, as he felt the strain increase.  By thus dexterously managing the
fish for some minutes, he at length brought it close to the shore, and I
caught sight of an ugly-looking dark monster.

"Sure, it's a cat-fish, and mighty good ateing too, though it's no
beauty," exclaimed Mike.  "Get howld of him, Masther Roger; get howld of
him, or he will be off."

Following Mike's example, I dashed into the water and grasped the huge
creature, although, covered as it was with slime, it was no easy matter
to do so.  Giving it a sudden jerk, I threw it on shore, rushing after
it to prevent its floundering back again into its native element.  It
proved to be a prize worth having, being at least seven or eight pounds
in weight.  It was a wonder how, with such slight tackle, Mike had
contrived to hold it.

We agreed that, as we had now an ample supply of fish for one day at
least, we would not run the risk of losing our hooks; and accordingly,
carrying our two prizes, we made our way back to the part of the bank we
had selected for our camp.  It was under a widespreading tree, which
extended over the water, and would materially serve to hide a fire,
which we agreed to light on a piece of flat ground, almost level with
the water.  We soon collected a sufficient supply of sticks, and had our
fire blazing and our fish cooking.  The cat-fish, in spite of its ugly
name and uglier looks, proved excellent, though somewhat rich--tasting
very like an eel.

Having eaten a hearty meal, and cooked the remainder of our fish for the
next day, we put out our fire, and then arranged our dwelling for the
night.  It consisted simply of branches stuck in the ground, and
extending about six feet from the trunk of the tree.  We closed the
entrance, so that no wolves or bears could pay us a visit without some
warning; and kept our spears by our sides, to poke at their noses should
they make their appearance.

The night passed quietly away, and the next morning at daylight, having
caught our horses, we swam them across the stream.  The sun soon dried
our clothes, and as we had no fear of starving for that day, we rode
merrily onward.

Next day we were as successful in fishing at a stream we reached a short
time before sundown; but we were not so prudent, for after each of us
had caught a couple of fish we continued our sport, when Mike's hook was
carried off.  He looked as if he was going to burst into tears, while he
surveyed the end of his line with an utterly comical expression of
countenance.

"No, bedad! it's not there," he exclaimed; "the baste of a fish has got
it--ill luck to him!  But we shall have the consolation of ateing his
brothers; and maybe some day we will come back and hook him."

We had now but one hook left, and this it was necessary to secure with
the greatest care.  What a value we set upon that little crooked bit of
steel!  Our lives might depend on it, for though Mike had set several
traps of various descriptions, no animals would consent to be caught by
them.

Two days more we travelled on, catching sight of what we believed to be
Indian encampments in the distance, but, according to our resolution,
carefully avoiding them.  Our fish had come to an end, our last handful
of pemmican was exhausted, and for a whole day we had no food except a
few berries.  Towards evening we reached a wood.  As there was a stream
not far from it, while Mike was engaged in forming our camp I
endeavoured to hook a fish.

My efforts were vain; for some time none would bite.  At last I felt a
tug, and I was sure that I had hooked a fish.  Eagerly I drew it towards
the bank.  It seemed to come willingly enough at first, but there was
another tug, and my line almost flew out of the water.  I cast a blank
look at the end.  The hook was gone!

Feeling very disconsolate, I returned to the camp.  Mike endeavoured to
comfort me for our loss, but he could not supply us with food.  We
therefore lay down to rest, keeping our spears as usual by our sides,
and Mike offering to watch while I slept.

Whether or not he had done so I could not tell, but suddenly I was
awakened by feeling the branches at my side roughly shaken; and looking
up, what was my dismay to see, by the moonlight streaming through the
wood, a big brown bear poking his nose through the bushes, and not live
feet from us!  Giving Mike a nudge with my elbow, I grasped my spear,
and rising on my knee, without a moment's consideration as to what might
be the result, I thrust the spear with all my might into the bear's
chest.  With a fierce growl and open jaws it rushed at me,--as it did
so, driving the spear still further into its body; whilst I, expecting
the movement, sprang to the inner end of our arbour.

Mike in a moment was on his knees,--he had not time to rise to his
feet,--and seizing his weapon, drove it into the bear's neck.  Still the
creature, though thus desperately wounded, broke through the branches we
had put up; but the thick leaves prevented it from seeing us as clearly
as it would otherwise have done.  The life-blood was flowing from its
wounds.  Mike managed, as I had done, to get out of Bruin's way; and
before the creature could turn to pursue either of us, over it fell, on
the very ground on which we had been sleeping.  It struggled for a few
seconds, gnashing its teeth, and I had to retreat through the branches
to avoid it.  Mike, who had managed to escape at the other end, now
joined me, and getting hold of the handle of his spear, endeavoured to
pull it out of the bear's body.  After a few tugs he succeeded in
regaining possession of his weapon; and the first thing he did with it
was to plunge it again into the animal's breast.

"I did it just to make sure," he remarked.  "These bastes have as many
lives as a cat; and maybe he would have come to again, and taken to
ateing us instead of our ateing him, as I hope we will be afther doing
before long."

Whether or not the last thrust was necessary I do not know, but the bear
ceased struggling; and Mike, springing on the body, exclaimed--

"He's dead enough now, anyhow!  And we'll take the liberty of cutting
him up, and getting our teeth into his flesh; for, sure, he has spoilt
our rest for the night."

The centre of the hut was by this time a pool of blood; we therefore
dragged out the bear, and while Mike began scientifically to flay the
carcass, I collected sticks for a fire.  We soon had a good one blazing
up, and some of the slices of the bear toasting before it.  We were too
hungry to wait until the morning.

"Sure, the bear was sent to us to be aten," observed Mike; "and suppose
we get nothing else till we reach home, it will serve to keep us alive
till then."

Having satisfied the cravings of hunger, we cooked some more slices of
the best portions of the meat, to serve for our breakfast before
starting; and the remainder we cut into thin strips to smoke over the
fire, and afterwards to dry in the sun.  As both we and our steeds were
tired, we agreed not to start till a later hour than usual.  There was a
risk in remaining, but still it was better to run it, rather than knock
up our horses or ourselves.

Mike faithfully kept watch, and the sun was already high in the sky when
I awoke.  We hung up the strips of bear's flesh, to give them a drying
before we packed them to carry with us.  We also did up a portion of the
fresh meat, which would, we calculated, last us for some time.  Then,
having taken a late breakfast, we mounted our horses and continued our
journey.

It would take too much time, were I to describe the events of the next
few days.  After continuing on for the time we supposed it would occupy
us in reaching home, we were still unable to recognise any of the
features of the country.  Mike, however, remarked that as forests and
hills and rivers were all much alike, it was no wonder that we could not
make out where we were.  I proposed directing our course eastward, as we
should thus certainly come to some of the settlements.  Mike thought
that we had not got sufficiently far to the north, and advised that we
should continue on in that direction.  I gave in to him.

Our horses had hitherto held out well, but suddenly Mike's began to
stagger, and, almost before he could throw himself from its back, down
the poor animal fell.  What had been the cause of the horse's death we
had not knowledge sufficient to ascertain; only one thing was certain,--
that it was dead, and that we must take it by turns to ride, and thus
get on at a much slower pace.  There was no use stopping to mourn our
loss, so, having taken off the saddle and bridle, we did them up in a
package, and placed them on the back of my steed.  We did this lest the
dead horse should be recognised as having belonged to the Indians, and
some of their friends might discover it and pursue us.

We had, shortly afterwards, a river to cross.  True, we might have made
a raft, but as we were both good swimmers we determined to trust to our
own arms and legs for getting to the other side.  After some persuasion
we induced the horse to go in; and then, Mike taking the rein, we each
of us put a hand on the saddle and swam over, I on one side and Mike on
the other.  Though swept down for some distance, we got safe on shore at
last, but we had to trudge on in our wet clothes.  Not only were we wet,
but so was our imperfectly dried meat; the consequence was, that when we
came to cook it in the evening it was scarcely eatable.  Our clothes,
too, were damp when we lay down at night.

I awoke shivering the next morning, though the fire was still blazing
near me; and when I tried to get up I was unable to stand.  Mike was in
a state of great distress.  The remainder of our provisions had become
worse; but even had the food been of the most delicate description, I
could not have touched it.

Mike, faithful fellow that he was, immediately set to work to build a
hut, so that I might be sheltered from the heat of the sun as well as
from the wind.  As soon as it was completed he carried me into it, and
closing the entrance, said he would set out in search of food.  In a
short time he returned with some delicious strawberries, which greatly
refreshed me.

For several days he tended me with the greatest care, and was fortunate
in trapping several young birds, which, though not very fat, served to
restore my strength.  I asked him how he had managed to eat the dried
bear's meat, being very sure that he had not touched any of the birds he
had caught.

"Bedad, Masther Roger, it's not the mate at all I've been ateing," he
answered.  "I found no lack of big fellows with four legs hopping about
in the marsh down there, and, for want of better food, I took the
liberty of cooking them.  They are not so bad, afther all; only the idea
of the thing was not plisant at first."

Mike had been living on frogs, I found out, during all my illness; and
as for a whole day he was unable to catch any birds, I begged that he
would let me taste the frogs.  I confess that I had no reason to
complain of the food, for he gave me the hinder legs alone, which I
should have supposed to have been those of small birds, had he not told
me what they were.

I was at last strong enough to move about, and I proposed that we should
at once continue our journey.  Mike agreed, therefore, that we should
start the next morning.

When daylight arrived, he left the hut to look for the horse while I
prepared breakfast.  He was a long time absent, and I began to grow
anxious, wondering what could have become of him.  I waited and waited
till I could bear the suspense no longer, so, going to a height at a
little distance from the wood in which we had formed our encampment, I
gazed around on every side.  Should any accident have befallen him, how
fearful would be my fate!  I was also deeply grieved at the thought of
losing him; but I confess that selfish feelings for the time
predominated.  There was a river, I should have said, in the distance,
and on looking in that direction I at length saw a figure moving towards
me.  It might be Mike, or it might be an Indian, and perhaps an enemy.
Still, I did not think of concealing myself.

Great was my joy when, as the person drew nearer, I recognised Mike.  I
rushed down to meet him; but I saw that there was something wrong, by
the expression of his countenance.

"What is the matter, Mike?"  I asked.  "I was terribly afraid that you
were lost."

"Sure, a great deal is the matther," he answered.  "That baste of a
horse has been afther drowning himself; and you will have to walk the
rest of the journey on foot, except when I carry you on me shoulders--
and that I will do, as long as I have the strength, with the greatest
pleasure in the world."

I assured Mike that I was so glad to see him, that I cared little in
comparison for the loss of the horse, for I felt perfectly able to walk
any distance.

"Well, that is one comfort; and seeing that we have nothing to carry
except our spears, which will help us along, matthers might have been
worse," he answered.

Both of us were determined to make the best of what had happened; so,
having eaten our breakfast, and packed up the remainder of our
provisions, we recommenced our march forward.  Mike insisted on our
encamping early in the day, so that he might search for food; and before
dark he had procured a supply of the same description as that on which
we had been living for several days.

The next morning we went on as before, and I felt my strength
considerably restored.  Soon after noon, having reached the summit of a
height, we saw before us a wide river, connected with a series of small
lakes, their borders apparently deeply fringed with tall grass.  This,
Mike said, he believed must be rice, and it would afford us a change of
diet if we could procure some; we accordingly made our way down towards
the nearest.  We thought, also, that we might catch some unwary ducks,
if they were not accustomed to the sight of human beings.

On getting close to the borders, we fancied we heard some sounds from a
brood of ducklings.  We therefore crept cautiously along the shore,
when, to our infinite satisfaction, we caught sight of a couple of
ducks, and not one, but two broods.  We had got almost near enough to
catch hold of the hindermost, when the cries of the mother-ducks warned
their young ones to make the best of their way from us.  Eager to seize
our prey, we dashed into the water after them; when, to escape us, they
endeavoured to make their way through the high grass.

We had each of us caught a couple, when what was our astonishment, on
pressing aside the grass, to see directly before us a canoe with three
girls in it!  Two of them were busily employed in beating out the rice
into their canoe, while the one who sat in the bow, on hearing the noise
we made, turned her head with an inquiring but somewhat alarmed glance
towards us.  Yes!  I could not be mistaken; it was Lily!  Just before
her sat Dora, while Ashatea occupied the stern.

"Lily, Lily!"  I exclaimed.  "Don't you know me?"

"Yes, yes!  I do.  O Dora, Dora! there is Roger and Mike Laffan.  They
were not drowned, or killed by the Indians!  I always said so," she
cried.

In a moment their paddles were out, and, guided by Ashatea, they were
making their way towards us.

"Come into the canoe!" they exclaimed in chorus.  "There is room for
you; and we will take you to our friends.  They will be so glad to know
that you are alive, though you both look sadly tired and thin."

"No wonder, Misthress Lily," observed Mike; and he gave an account of my
illness.

They were all eager to hear how we had escaped; and as the canoe skimmed
lightly over the smooth surface of the lake, urged by their paddles, I
told them all that had happened to us, from the time we left the camp of
our Indian friends.  I then asked if Reuben and his companion had ever
been heard of.

"Yes; it was they who told us that you had either been drowned or made
prisoners by the Indians," said Lily.  "They escaped by running through
the rapids at a place where no canoe had ever before ventured.  And
Reuben has undertaken to come up here and escort us back to the
settlement.  We have been paying our long-promised visit to Ashatea; and
I can assure you she received us in the most hospitable manner.  You
will like to see the beautiful dome-shaped wigwam her people built for
us, with a divan all round, and the floor covered thickly with matting.
We felt quite like Indian princesses, when she escorted us into it.  It
is divided by a curtain into two portions.  The inner serves as our
bedroom, and the outer as our drawing-room.  As there is space for a
fireplace in the centre, we agreed that we should not object to spend
the winter in it; while at the present season it is delightfully cool
and pleasant."

"Ah, but it is not equal to one of your comfortable houses," observed
Ashatea, who understood all that Lily said, and had, I found, improved
greatly in her knowledge of English, having spent a considerable time at
the settlement with Lily and Dora.

We had some distance to go, I found, before we could reach the spot
where Kepenau and his people were now encamped.  The chief had, Lily
told me, spent several months there; and had, besides, made a tour with
our missionary friend, Martin Godfrey, for the purpose of being
instructed in gospel truth, which he was most anxious to impart to his
countrymen.  The chief had, some time before, learned to read, and had
devoted all his attention to the study of the Scriptures, so that he was
well able to carry the gospel to others.

My uncles and aunt had been greatly grieved at my supposed loss, and it
had made them less contented with the settlement than they had before
been; Uncle Mark especially missed the assistance of Mike, though honest
Quambo had done his best to supply his place.

Various schemes were afloat for occupying fresh territory, far to the
westward.  Some speculators had visited our settlement, and my uncles
had listened to their descriptions of the advantages to be gained with
far more interest than they might otherwise have done.

"I had hoped that we should remain where we are," said Lily.  "I am
attached to the place, and should be content to spend the remainder of
my days here."

"You have not got over many of them as yet, Lily," I said, looking up in
her face.

"They may be many, in comparison with those which are to come," she
answered gravely, and I thought mournfully.

"I hope to see you grow into a dear old woman, like Aunt Hannah.  I like
to think of the future, and I want my future to be happy.  However, it
will be a long, long time before you grow old, Lily."

"I already feel old," she said; "or I did, at least, when they told me
that you were lost, Roger, though I did not believe it; but perhaps I
shall now feel young again.  I have been very sorry, too, about poor
Ashatea," she continued in a whisper; "she has her troubles, though she
does not show what she feels by her countenance as much as we white
people do.  A young Indian, who is said to be superior to most of his
people, has long wished to marry her; but as she is a Christian and he
is still a heathen, though I believe she likes him very much, neither
she nor her father will consent.  This has produced a feud between them;
and the conduct of Manilick--for that is his name, which, I believe,
means a `pine-tree'--has caused them a great deal of anxiety.  Kepenau
fears that Manilick will try to carry off his daughter by force, and he
is therefore obliged to keep scouts constantly watching the movements of
the young chief.  Indeed, when you appeared through the rice grass I
fancied that you were Manilick, and that you might have come to carry us
all off together; not that I believe he would venture to injure any
white people, since he professes to be our friend."

I was much interested in what Lily told me, for I fancied that Reuben
had lost his heart to the Indian girl.  Still, superior as she was in
many respects to those of her race, she would scarcely have made a
fitting wife for a well-educated young man; though the rough traders and
hunters of the Far West frequently marry Indian wives, who make them as
happy as they wish to be, but are seldom able to bring up their children
properly, the chief objection to such alliances.

While Lily was talking to me, Mike was recounting to Dora and Ashatea,
in his rich Irish brogue, our various adventures with the Indians.  Thus
the time was passed while the girls paddled across the lake and up the
river till we reached Kepenau's lodges.

As we neared the shore, we observed a large concourse of people
assembled near the wigwams.  Many by their costume appeared to be
strangers, while others were Kepenau's own people.  I saw that Ashatea
was regarding them with great interest.  In front, on a rock, sat
Kepenau; and I judged by his attitude and the tone of his voice that he
was addressing them on a matter of importance, while they listened with
rapt attention.  His right hand pointed to the sky, while his left was
directed towards the earth; and by the words which reached me I knew
that he was preaching the gospel--setting before the people the way of
eternal life.

We all stopped at some distance to listen, and so intent were he and his
auditors that none perceived us.  Ashatea, who stood next to Lily, was
regarding the scene with even greater interest than we were.  I saw her
eye directed towards a young Indian, who by the ornaments on his dress I
guessed was a chief.  I pointed him out to Lily.

"Yes," she said, "that is Manilick.  I am very glad to see him here, as
I hope he is receiving the truths which Kepenau is endeavouring to
impart."

Ashatea was, I had no doubt, hoping the same.

Kepenau had nearly brought his address to a conclusion when we arrived.
Now, rising from his seat, he took Manilick's hand, and spoke to him
affectionately, as it seemed to me.  The young chief hung down his head,
and answered only in monosyllables.

Kepenau, after speaking in the same way to others, offered up a prayer,
in which several of his own people joined.  Not till then did he
discover us.  With a look of surprise he at once advanced to greet Mike
and me, his countenance as well as his words exhibiting his
satisfaction.  He afterwards turned again to the young chief, and
addressed him.  He had, until now, I found, suspected that Manilick had
instigated the attack on us, if he had not taken part in it, and he
wished openly to exonerate him.  Kepenau questioned me as to the dress
and appearance of the Indians who had made us prisoners.  From my
description he was satisfied that they were really Sioux, and that
Manilick had nothing to do with them.

We were anxious to return as soon as possible to the settlement, to
relieve the minds of our relatives but that evening, in consequence of
the fatigue and hardships I had endured, I was again taken ill.  Kepenau
had a wigwam carefully built for me, in which Lily and Dora assisted
Mike in watching over me.  Good food, however, was all I needed; and as
our Indian friends had abundance of fish and game, I was soon well
again.

Just as I had recovered, we one evening saw a large canoe approaching
the camp.  Who should step out of it but Uncle Mark, accompanied by
Reuben, Quambo, and several men!  They had brought a quantity of goods
to supply their Indian friends.

As may be supposed, Uncle Mark was delighted to find that I was alive;
and Quambo, in the exuberance of his joy, embraced Mike.

"But where de fiddle?" he exclaimed, after their salutations had ceased.
"Just play one tune.  It do my heart good, and we set all de camp
jigging."

"Och, botheration! but the Ridskins have got it--bad luck to the
spalpeens! and sorra a one of thim can play a tune, or I would not mind
it so much," answered Mike.

"But you must try to get him back," observed Quambo; "if dey not play on
him, dey not want him."

"I'm mighty afraid it's burned, though," said Mike, with a sorrowful
countenance.

When Uncle Mark heard of Mike's loss, he told Kepenau and Manilick.  The
latter had that day paid a visit to the chief.  They were both of
opinion that should the fiddle be in existence, it might, by proper
diplomatic proceedings, be recovered; and, greatly to Mike's joy,
Manilick undertook to ascertain what had become of it, and, if possible,
to restore it to its owner.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

UNCLE MARK'S CANOE--OUR START FOR HOME--THE RATTLESNAKES--MIKE LONGS FOR
HIS FIDDLE--OUR NIGHT ENCAMPMENT--JACQUES LEROCQUE'S FISHING JOKE--
MIKE'S TERROR AT THE SUPPOSED INDIAN AMBUSCADE--THE PHANTOM BEAR--OUR
ARRIVAL AT HOME--KAKAIK AND THE FIDDLE--MIKE'S DELIGHT--KEPENAU'S SECOND
VISIT--REUBEN'S CHAGRIN--MR. SIMON SPARK'S ADVENT--HIS GLOWING
DESCRIPTION OF THE FAR NORTH-WEST--THE FOREST ON FIRE--OUR HUT
DESTROYED--OUR ESCAPE.

The canoe in which Uncle Mark had come up had been built by some Indians
on the lake, who intended to dispose of it to the fur-traders; but, in
consequence of some dispute, they had refused to let them have it, and
had thereafter sold it to my uncles at a reduced price.

It was of far superior construction to those we had hitherto seen used,
though of the same materials.

Formed of large sheets of birch-bark, kept in shape by delicate ribs of
lance-wood or willow, it was nearly forty feet in length, and sharp at
both ends; and the seams where the bark was sewn together were covered
by a thick resinous gum, which became hard in the water.  Like the small
canoes, it required careful handling; for, having no keel, it was easily
turned over.  It was impelled by six or eight paddles,--three or four on
one side, and the same number on the other; one man steering with a
paddle, as well as paddling.

Uncle Mark had come down one river, then across the lake, and up another
river, instead of the shorter route along the course of several narrower
streams with rapids, which necessitated the same number of portages.  By
this means he was able to bring a cargo of cottons, cutlery, and other
heavy articles.  He purposed returning by the same route, though it
might have been possible to carry the canoe across the portages, as the
bales of peltries occupied less space than the cargo he had brought.
There was sufficient room, too, for the four additional people the canoe
had now to carry.

The day before we were to start, Ashatea appeared to be very unhappy.
It was, I concluded, at the thought of parting from Lily; but Lily
afterwards told me that it was more on account of Manilick, who still
refused to embrace Christianity.

"We must pray for him," said Lily.  "Kepenau has taken every opportunity
of speaking to him, and putting the truth plainly before him; but though
he would very gladly make Ashatea his wife, he still remains firm in his
heathen belief."

We could no longer delay our return home, as the autumn was advancing,
and before long we might expect storms and frosts, which would make our
proposed voyage in the canoe both trying and dangerous.

The whole tribe came down to the bank of the river at early dawn to see
us off, as Uncle Mark wished to cross the lake before sunset.  We should
have to encamp for the night, and continue our voyage up the river next
morning.

We made good progress down the stream, having the current with us, and
entered the lake just as the sun rose above what appeared like a sea
horizon, though we knew that the shore was not far off on the opposite
side.  The calm lake shone like a burnished mirror.  The shore we were
leaving was tinted with various colours, the higher ground here crowned
by groups of spruce-firs, and in other places rocky and barren, but
still picturesque in the extreme.

I took a paddle and sat by Lily.  Reuben and Mike also made themselves
of use; while Uncle Mark sat with Dora at the bottom of the canoe.  It
was the first voyage I had ever taken on the lake, and Lily and I agreed
that it would be very pleasant to have a canoe or small vessel of our
own, and to cruise round the shores, exploring every inlet and creek.

As the sun rose the heat became intense; not a breath of air stirred the
surface of the lake, and Lily, who had taken off her hat, was very glad
to put it on again.  After paddling for some distance we landed to
breakfast, or rather to dine; for we did not intend to stop again till
we went on shore to encamp for the night.

Wild rocks fringed the shore, and we had to exercise great caution in
approaching it, for the slightest touch would have knocked a hole in the
bow of our canoe, and we should very soon have had the water rushing in.
We had, therefore, to look out for some opening into which we could
slowly paddle till we found a landing-place.  After making two or three
ineffectual attempts, we succeeded in finding a bank with an almost
perpendicular side, on to which we could at once step from the canoe.

Immediately after landing, all hands set to work to collect wood for a
fire.  An abundance lay on the ground, driven there by the wind.  Lily
and Dora undertook to cook the breakfast, the materials for which
consisted of eggs, fish, maize cakes, and dandelion coffee--the roots
having been prepared by Aunt Hannah.  We soon had a fire blazing up,
when, as Uncle Mark declared, Lily and Dora performed their duties in a
most efficient manner.

Just as we had finished, one of the men, who were seated at some little
distance from us, started up, exclaiming, "Take care! take care! there
are rattlesnakes near us."

Scarcely had he spoken when I saw one of the venomous creatures, the
sound of whose tail the man had heard, rearing its head not five feet
off from Lily.  In another moment it might spring on her.  Fortunately a
long thin stick lay close to me, which I seized, and with all my might
struck the snake a blow on the head which brought it to the ground,
while I cried out to Lily to run to a distance.  Almost in an instant
the snake recovered itself, and sounding its rattle as it moved forward,
made an attempt to spring at me.  Again I struck it; and Mike coming to
my assistance, it was quickly despatched.

Where one rattlesnake is found, there are generally many more.  Scarcely
two minutes had passed ere another made its appearance, crawling out of
a hole under a tree.  While Mike and Reuben went to attack it, Uncle
Mark advised that we should all get on board without delay.  Our
breakfast and cooking things were quickly packed up; and the second
rattlesnake being destroyed, Mike and Reuben followed us into the canoe.
Scarcely had we shoved off when three or four more rattlesnakes were
seen, and we felt thankful that none of us had been bitten by them.  We
had literally encamped in the midst of a colony of the venomous
reptiles.

We had to exercise the same caution in going out of the harbour as on
entering it; after which we continued our course to the eastward at a
moderate distance from the shore.

"The day was, Masther Roger, when you and I would have been very happy
to have fallen in with as many of those same snakes as we could have
caught," observed Mike to me.  "They're mighty good ateing, barring the
head and tail.  At laste, the Ridskins hold to that notion."

I was, I confess, very thankful that we had not been compelled to eat
the creatures; though I did not know what hunger might have induced me
to do.

As we paddled on, Uncle Mark asked Lily and Dora to sing.  They were not
girls to offer excuses, and declare that they were out of voice.

"What shall it be?" said Lily.

"Anything you like," replied Dora; and immediately they commenced a
melody which, although I had heard it before, sounded very sweet on the
calm water.

Reuben and I joined in chorus; and the men, as well they might,
applauded heartily.  Then one of them commenced a canoe-song, in which
they all joined.  As soon as they ceased, Lily and Dora gave us a third;
and so we went on, singing and paddling over the calm water.

"Och! but it's a sad pity that them Ridskins have got me beautiful
fiddle!" exclaimed Mike.  "Would I not have been giving you all a tune!
Sure, if I do not recover it I will be breaking me heart intirely."

He said this in so melancholy and yet comical a tone, that Reuben and I
burst out laughing.  We reminded him that our Indian friend had promised
to try and recover his beloved instrument, and by degrees he regained
his spirits.

The weather continued fine, and the water smooth as before.  As I gazed
over the vast expanse spread out on our left, I could scarcely fancy
myself navigating an inland lake, small though it was compared to many
in that region.  I thought, too, of how it would appear should a storm
arise, and the now tranquil surface be turned into foaming billows by
the furious wind.  Our canoe, with sides not much thicker than a few
sheets of brown paper, would have been a frail bark for navigating the
lake under such circumstances.

Evening was approaching, and though we had paddled on all day we could
not as yet see the mouth of the river, near which we intended to camp.
We redoubled our efforts, therefore, to gain it during daylight.

The sun had almost reached the watery horizon to the west, when we
espied a clump of tall trees which marked the spot towards which we were
directing our course.  Having rounded a point, we ran into a bay with a
grass-covered shore; and here we were able to land without difficulty.

We unloaded the canoe, and carried our packages up to a grassy spot
underneath the trees.  The men immediately set to work to collect bark
with which to form a wigwam for Lily and Dora; we contenting ourselves
with a lean-to, which would afford us protection from the night wind.
The usual fire was lighted, and as we were all very hungry, no time was
lost in cooking supper.  As soon as it was over Lily and Dora retired to
their abode, as they had been up and ready to start some time before
dawn.

We sat round the fire spinning yarns, as the sailors say, and singing
songs.  We were speaking of the necessity of trying to get some more
fresh fish, as our stock was nearly exhausted, and Mike had told the
party how successful we had been till our hooks were bitten off.

"But there is a place not far from here where we can catch fish without
hooks," was the answer.

"Sure, and I should like to see it!" exclaimed Mike.  "But how is it to
be done?"

"Why, with nets, to be sure," said the canoeman.  "And if you like to
come with me, I will show you how I do it."

Mike at once agreed to the proposal.

Hearing that some nets which would suit the purpose had been left _en
cache_ with other articles close at hand, Reuben and I and another man
agreed to accompany them.

Jacques Lerocque, Mike's friend, was an amusing fellow, and fond of
practical joking.  It struck me at the time that he was up to some
trick; but he put on so grave a face, and spoke so earnestly, that my
suspicions were banished.

On reaching the cache, which was close to the camp, I found that the
nets were something in the form of hand-nets, only larger.  We were also
provided with a lantern containing a thick tallow candle.

"You see how to use these nets!" said Jacques.  "We put them into the
water, and then hold the candle at the further end.  When the fish see
the light, they swim towards it and are caught."

The plan seemed very feasible, and Mike declared that he thought it was
a mighty convenient way of obtaining a supper.

We were to fish in twos; one man to hold the net, and the other the
light.  Reuben agreed to accompany Mike, and I was to take the other
man; while Jacques said he would superintend operations, promising us an
abundance of sport if we would follow his directions.

Going on for half a mile over hard ground, we reached a marsh which was
connected with the lake.

"It is very full of fish, which come in to feed on the insects clinging
to the reeds," observed Jacques, "But you must not mind wetting your
feet."

However, having so recently recovered from a severe illness, I thought
it wiser, when it came to the point, not to do this; so Jacques took my
intended companion with him.

"Here, Master Reuben, you take one bit of candle and I the other," said
Jacques, cutting the piece in the lantern in two.

Reuben and Mike at once plunged into the marsh, and made their way
through the rushes.  I heard their voices, although from where I stood I
could not see them.  Presently Mike exclaimed--

"Here comes a big one!  Howld the light furder back, Masther Reuben,
and, bedad, we'll have him.  Sure, though, he's gone off; come a little
furder.  There he is now; this time he'll be afther getting caught, sure
enough."

Then the sound of splashing and the crackling of the reeds reached my
ears, when presently Mike cried out,--"Och! murther, but what are these
bastes about?  They'll be biting off our noses, and bunging up our eyes!
But we must have the fish, though.  Och! murther, murther!"

Reuben's voice joined in chorus, though with varied exclamations.

I ran to a point near the spot which my friends had reached, and there I
saw Mike bending down, holding the net in one hand, while he endeavoured
to beat off with his hat a swarm of mosquitoes which were buzzing
thickly round him.  Reuben stood near holding out the candle, and a
second net in his other hand, which prevented him from defending his
face from the venomous bites of his persevering assailants.  Still,
though his countenance exhibited the sufferings he was enduring, he
manfully kept his post.

Just then the most fearful shrieks and cries rent the air, sounding like
the war-whoop of a band of savage Indians.

"Och, but the Ridskins are upon us!" cried out Mike.  "We must run for
it, Masther Reuben dear.  Niver mind the nets, or the fish, or the
mosquito bastes.  It's too much for any mortal man to stand, with the
savages into the bargain.  Come along as fast as your legs can carry
you; but we will find Masther Roger first.  We must not lave him behind
to be scalped; and as to Jacques and Tom Hodges, if they have not taken
care of themselves, it's more than we can do for them."

Mike was rapidly uttering these expressions while, floundering along, he
made his way up to where I was standing.  Whether or not Reuben was
aware of the true state of the case I could not tell, but he was
certainly following much more leisurely than might have been expected.
I had that moment caught sight of the grinning countenances of Jacques
and Tom over the rushes, and guessed that the former was playing off one
of his tricks.

When Mike saw me, he exclaimed, "Run, Masther Roger, run! sure, don't
you hear the shrieks of the Indians?  They will have the scalps off our
heads, if we don't show them our heels, before many minutes are over."

I burst out laughing, and pointed to our two companions, who, however,
at that moment bobbed down and hid themselves among the rushes.

Mike now began to suspect that a trick had been played him; but nothing
ever made him angry, so, laughing as I was doing, he exclaimed--

"Come out of that, ye spalpeens!  It will be many a day before you get
me to go fishing with you again."

Jacques, having had his joke, recovered the nets, and being well
experienced in the style of sport, in a short time caught half a dozen
fine fish, with which we returned to the camp.  I was glad to roll
myself up in my blanket, and go to sleep under the shelter of our
lean-to; but the rest of the party sat up cooking and eating one of our
prizes.

I was awoke before long by the sound of loud growlings, which made Uncle
Mark and several of the party start to their feet, with guns ready to
receive the bear from whom they expected an attack.  Recollecting
Jacques' propensity to practical joking, I lay quiet; and I heard my
uncle come back soon afterwards, growling almost as much as the supposed
bear, and observing that the brute had got off, though it must have been
close to the camp.  I said nothing, though I suspected who had performed
the part of the bear.  The next morning I looked about, but could
discover no traces of such an animal.  Jacques, if he had represented
it, kept his own counsel; and after we had started I heard him
complaining that his night's rest should have been so disagreeably
disturbed.

Lily and Dora had been awakened, but they, trusting to the vigilance of
their protectors, had wisely gone to sleep again, being very sure that,
did any savage animal approach the camp, we should soon give a good
account of it.

We had a long paddle up the river, and had again to encamp, but no event
worthy of mention occurred; and the next day, late in the evening, we
reached the settlement.  Lily and Dora and Reuben went to their
respective homes; and after we had paid a visit to Uncle Stephen and
Aunt Hannah, to convince them that we were still alive notwithstanding
our perilous adventures, we returned to the hut, where we were welcomed
by our three canine friends, which had been left to guard it under
charge of one of Uncle Stephen's men.

The autumn soon passed by, and once more the winter was upon us.  We had
plenty of work in felling trees, and either burning them or dragging
them over the snow to places where we intended to cut them up.
Occasionally we paid a visit to the settlement; indeed, I was always
glad of an excuse for passing a few hours with Lily when I could spare
the time.  I looked in, also, on my friends the Claxtons.  Both they and
my uncles, as Lily had told me, were, I observed, becoming more and more
discontented with the settlement, as were likewise a number of other
people, and the attractions of the new regions of the far west were the
constant subject of conversation.  We at the hut troubled ourselves much
less about such matters than did our friends.  We had plenty of hard
work, and were pretty well tired when the day's labours were over.  Mike
declared that the only drawback to his happiness was the loss of his
fiddle, which he never expected to see again.

"Dat am de cause ob my grief," observed Quambo, putting his hand to his
heart.  "If you did get it, would not we hab a dance!  We would kick up
de heels all night long, to make up for lost time."

It was some days after this that we one evening saw an Indian coming
through the opening which had now been made down to the river, walking
on snow-shoes, and with a package of some size on his back.

"Here comes Kakaik!  I wonder what him bring!" exclaimed Quambo, running
forward to meet our visitor.

Kakaik having made signs that he had got something valuable, Mike
advanced with open mouth and outstretched hands.  An idea had occurred
to him.

"What is it, me friend?" he asked eagerly.

The Indian began a long speech.

"Och, man alive! just tell us what it's all about," cried Mike, who
could no longer restrain his curiosity.

By this time Uncle Mark had come out of the hut.  The Indian, however,
would go on with his address, of which we did not understand a word.
Mike kept all the time pointing to the package, and entreating him to
undo it.

At length the Indian stopped and commenced untying the thongs which
secured the mysterious parcel, and exposed to the delighted eyes of
Mike--his fiddle and bow.

"Sure, I thought so!" exclaimed the Irishman, eagerly grasping his
treasure.  "Erin go bragh!--long life to yese, me jewil!" and clapping
the instrument to his chin, he made an attempt to play on it; but it
required, as may be supposed, no small amount of tuning.  Mike at once
set to work, however, turning the keys and drawing the bow over the
strings, all the time uttering expressions of gratitude to the Indian,
and to all concerned in the recovery of the fiddle.  The moment he had
tuned it to his satisfaction, he began playing one of the merriest of
jigs, in unison with his own joyous spirits.

Quambo on hearing the sounds started up, snapping his fingers, kicking
up his legs, and whirling round and round in time to the tune.  The
Indian, grave as was his exterior, forthwith joined him, out-vying him
in his leaps, and adding the wildest shrieks and shouts.  I could not
long resist their example, and in a few minutes even Uncle Mark was
dancing away as vigorously as any of us; Mike all the time kicking his
heels, and bobbing his head with a rapidity which seemed to threaten the
dislocation of his neck.  It was the wildest scene imaginable, and any
one observing us would have supposed that we had all gone mad.

At last we had to stop from sheer want of breath, and on entering the
hut Kakaik informed us that it was through the exertions of Manilick
that the fiddle had been recovered.  He had paid half-a-dozen yards of
cotton, the same number of strings of beads, a looking-glass, and a
frying-pan, for the treasure.  It had been regarded with reverential awe
by the possessors.  He sent it, however, as a gift to the rightful
owner, and declined to receive anything in return.

"Faix, thin, I will be grateful to him till the end of me days,"
answered Mike; "and I hope that you will receive, for your throuble in
coming, Masther Kakaik, my 'baccy-box, and half-a-dozen red cotton
handkerchiefs for your wife and childer, all of them bran-new, except
one which I wore as a night-cap when I last had a cowld, and another
which has been in use for a matther of a week or so."

Kakaik accepted the proffered gifts with due gratitude, and further
informed us that the Indians from whom Mike and I escaped had succeeded
in regaining their encampment, though the fire had been close to their
heels; and until Manilick's ambassador visited them they had supposed
that we were destroyed.  By the manner in which we had got away from
them, we were very much raised in their opinion; though they threatened,
should they ever catch hold of us, to have our scalps off our heads.

"Much obliged to the gintlemen," remarked Mike; "but we will not let
them do that same if we can help it, and we'll show them that the
Palefaces have as much brains in their skulls as the Ridskins, cunning
as they think themselves."

Kakaik consented to stop with us for the night, and we had several more
tunes from Mike's fiddle, and another dance, almost as boisterous as the
first.  Kakaik, after remaining a day with us, took his departure,
loaded with as many articles as he could well carry; some forced on him
by Mike and Quambo, others being given by my uncle and myself as
presents to our friends.  I should have said that Kakaik also told us
that Manilick was frequently at Kepenau's camp, and appeared to be
favourably received by Ashatea.

Mike's fiddle was a constant source of amusement to us during the
remainder of the winter.

Spring returned, whereupon Kepenau paid us another visit.  He said that
he and his people had determined to move further westward, into an
unoccupied territory, and he feared that some time would pass before he
could again see our faces, but that he hoped occasionally to come with
the peltries he and his people might obtain.

I accompanied him to the settlement.  Lily was much grieved to find that
she and Ashatea were not likely to meet again for a long time.

"I thought that she would have become like one of us," she said, "and
live in a comfortable house, and adopt our habits."

"A flower of the forest cannot bloom on the mountain top; nor can one
born in the wilderness live happily in a city," answered Kepenau.
"Though she may not adopt the habits of the Palefaces, she loves them,
and the true faith they have taught her, and will ever pray to the same
God they worship to protect them from danger."

Reuben scarcely attempted to conceal his disappointment, and even
offered to accompany Kepenau back to his lodges; but the chief shook his
head.

"If it is not well for my daughter to dwell among your people, still
worse would it be for you to live with us, natives of the land," he
answered.  "Stay with your parents, and support and protect them, and
you will be blessed, and made far happier than were you to follow the
desires of your heart."

After spending some days with us, Kepenau took his departure.

We were, as usual, very busy getting in the crops on our newly cleared
ground, and carrying on other agricultural pursuits.  The summer was
intensely hot,--far hotter than I ever recollected it.  The crops had
come up early, but the locusts appeared and destroyed every growing
thing which had risen above the surface.  This greatly disappointed
those who had looked forward to an early harvest.

About this time a stranger arrived at the settlement.  He quickly made
himself known as Mr Simon Sparks; and said, moreover, that he was the
chief land agent of a new territory far to the west, which wonderfully
surpassed our settlement in richness of soil, and fertility, and
abundance of game.  His accounts were eagerly listened to, and my uncles
were completely carried away, as were a large portion of the community.
Still, some of the older people were of the opinion that well should be
let alone; and that if we took as much pains in cultivating the ground
as we should have to do were we to make a long journey, we should prove,
notwithstanding the difficulties which might beset us, as successful in
the end.

Mr Sparks, however, was not a man to be defeated in his object; he
continued arguing the point till he had won over a good many adherents.
Still, he had not gained a sufficient number to suit his purpose.

"Well, friends," he said, mounting his horse one evening, as a large
number of the inhabitants were assembled in the chief open place in the
village, which was designated the Square, "do I look like a man who
would mislead you, or fail to carry out my promises?  I have slain many
a bear, hunted the buffalo across the prairies, and, single-handed,
fought and defeated scores of Redskins.  With such fellows as you at my
back, even if ten thousand were to attempt to stop us we would force our
way onward, and send them to the right-about.  What are you afraid of?
If rivers are to be crossed, we can form rafts and swim our cattle over.
There is grass on the plains, and game in the forests to supply all our
wants; and a glorious country at the end of the journey, where happy
homes can be established, and wealth obtained for ourselves and our
children.  I ask you again--Do you take me for a man who would bamboozle
you; or do I look like one who will prove true as steel, and fulfil all
his engagements, as an honest man should do?  Those who believe that I
speak the truth, hold up their hands; and those who don't, keep them
down, and we part friends notwithstanding."

Few of us could help confessing that, as Mr Simon Sparks, with his tall
sinewy figure, firm-set lips, and keen eyes, sat there on his
strongly-built mustang, his rifle held across his saddle, he did look
like a man very capable of doing what he said he had done, and what he
said he would do.  Nearly all hands were raised up.

"Thank you, friends," he said; "I will stay another day with you, and we
will talk the matter over again.  If a fair number are determined to
move, we will go together; if not, I shall soon find others who know
their interests better than you seem to do."

Saying this, he dismounted, and went to spend the evening with Mr
Claxton, who was one of his chief adherents.

I returned home to report to Uncle Mark what Mr Sparks had said; but he
was doubtful about moving till he had secured a purchaser for the land
we had cleared with so much labour.

We were about to turn in for the night, when Quambo, who had been to
look after the cattle and pigs, reported that he observed a peculiar
glare through the opening towards the west, though no camp-fire was
likely to be burning in that direction.  We all hurried out to look at
what the black had described, and saw the brilliancy of the glare
rapidly increasing.

"It is such a fire as it will take many bucketfuls of water to put out!"
exclaimed Uncle Mark.  "As I live, boys, the forest is in flames!  And
they are likely to extend pretty rapidly, too, with the wood dry as it
now is."

"What had we better do?"  I asked.

"Collect our cattle, pigs, and poultry, take our guns and ammunition,
and a supply of food, and get out of the wood as fast as possible," he
answered, quite calmly.  "In a few minutes, if I mistake not, we shall
have the forest blazing away all round us; and nothing that I know of
can save the hut from destruction.  It will be fortunate if the village
itself escapes, for the forest comes close up to it on two sides; and
there will be no time to clear away the trees, and put an open belt
between the houses and the fire."

Influenced by Uncle Mark's spirit, we immediately set to work to drive
in the cattle, set the pigs free, and collect the poultry.  We loaded
the waggon with as many articles as it could carry; and harnessing the
oxen, commenced our retreat.

We were not a moment too soon, for already the forest to the westward
was in a blaze, extending from the river far away to the north.  A
narrow belt of trees alone remained between us and the conflagration,
the dense smoke, curling in thick wreaths, being sent by the wind
towards us, and making respiration difficult.  While Uncle Mark took
charge of the waggon, the rest of us drove on the other animals,
directing our course to the settlement by the only open road.  We knew,
indeed, that in a short time we might have the fire on both sides of us.

The flames rose up high above the tops of the trees in the rear.  The
crackling of the burning branches, and the loud reports as the thick
trunks were split in two by the heat, sounded alarmingly near--the whole
landscape before us being lighted up by the glare shed from the burning
forest.  We might, we believed, escape with our lives, were we to leave
the waggon and the cattle, but that was very far from Uncle Mark's
thoughts.  By voice and whip we urged on the oxen, and shouting,
shrieking, and using our thick sticks, we endeavoured to drive forward
our refractory charges.

The inhabitants of the village must have seen the conflagration long
before this, and would, we hoped, be preparing for their escape.

I remembered the fire on the prairie.  Then only the grass was burning,
but now we should soon have the tall trees in flames on both sides of
us.  In a few minutes the flaming masses might be tumbling down on our
heads, and overwhelming us.  The thought of this prevented us from
relaxing our efforts.  We ran here and there flourishing our sticks,
shouting and bawling till we were hoarse; still, we kept ahead of the
fire, although it was advancing rapidly in our track.  The hut,
outbuildings, and enclosures must already, we knew, be reduced to a mass
of cinders; but there was no use thinking about that.  We should be
fortunate, did we preserve the more valuable part of our property.

At length the road became wider, and we got among clearings, which would
somewhat stop the progress of the flames, did they not impede them
altogether.  We dared not halt, however, but pushed on, directing our
course to the south side of the village, where the country was
completely open, and no trees left standing.  The river, too, ran in
that direction, and some flat marshes on the banks would afford security
to all fugitives.

I was thinking all the time of Lily, and my uncle and aunt; and had not
my duty compelled me to remain with the cattle, I would certainly have
hurried on to warn them, in case they should not have discovered their
danger.  However, I felt sure that Uncle Mark would not have forgotten
them, and that he was satisfied they would take the necessary steps to
escape.  Uncle Stephen had also a waggon in which to convey his
household goods out of the way of danger.

As we got near the village, we were satisfied that the inhabitants were
aroused; for already several waggons were moving forward in the
direction we were going, while we heard the shouts of the men driving
others in the rear.  Fortunate, indeed, were those who had waggons, as
the rest of the people would have to carry on their shoulders everything
they wished to save.

The wind, which had increased, hurried forward the fire with terrific
rapidity, and drove the smoke in dense masses round us, so that, bright
as were the flames, we could often see but a short distance ahead.  The
shouts and cries of the terrified settlers increased in loudness.  All
hope that the village would be preserved must by this time have been
abandoned.  The fire was coming up from the west and north-west, leaping
at a bound, as it seemed, over the clearings; the burning branches,
driven by the wind, quickly igniting all combustible matters amid which
they fell.

We at last reached the ground I have spoken of; but not without the loss
of some of our hogs, which had got away from us, in spite of our efforts
to drive them forward.  Having early taken the alarm, we were the first
to arrive, but others from the village quickly followed; when we
immediately set to work to cut down every bush and blade of grass which
might catch fire.

In a short time I heard Uncle Stephen's voice, and thankful indeed was I
to see Lily and Aunt Hannah safe.  They had found time to load their
waggon with the most valuable part of their property and a store of
provisions.  The Claxtons directly afterwards arrived, and reported that
there were still several persons remaining in the village, who believed
that the conflagration would not reach it, and that they would be
perfectly safe.  We were, however, too busily engaged in clearing the
ground to think of anything else.

It was fortunate that these precautions had been taken.  In a short
time, as we looked towards the village, we saw the flames rising up in
all directions.  The fire came working its way along; in some places in
thin lines, in others like a wave rolling over the sandy beach, and
consuming everything in its course.

Before the night was half over a semicircle of flame was blazing up
round the spot we occupied; the river, which was here very broad,
preventing the progress of the fire in that direction.  Still, a burning
brand, driven across a narrow part by the wind, might set some dry grass
or bushes on fire; and it was impossible to say how far it might then
extend.  Frequently the stifling smoke almost prevented our breathing,
and we had to throw ourselves on the ground to escape it.

All night long did the fire rage round us.  The heat was intense, and
the smoke and fine black dust blown over us was most oppressive.
Happily, we had water near to quench our thirst, blackened though it was
with ashes; and we had reason to be thankful that we had reached a place
of safety--the only one near the settlement where we could have escaped
destruction.

The women and children were placed in the waggons, where they
endeavoured to obtain some rest.  The ground was too wet for the men to
lie down; and we therefore either leaned against the wheels of the
waggons or walked about.  Indeed, we had ample occupation in beating out
the fire, which ran along the most dry portions of the ground we
occupied, wherever there was herbage of any description.

Morning came: but the fire raged on; and there was but little chance of
our being able to move for some days to come.  We had, however, no lack
of meat; for, besides the pigs and poultry, several deer and numerous
small animals rushed for safety towards our camp--only to meet the fate
they were attempting to avoid.  Two or three bears, also endeavouring to
escape from the flames, were shot.  No wolves or foxes came near us:
they had probably, exercising their cunning, made their escape from the
burning forest against the wind.

Daylight showed us such a scene of desolation as I hope never again to
look on.  Not a vestige of the village remained; while blackened
trunks--some with a few of their stouter limbs still branching from
them, others reduced to mere black poles, and many burned down to
stumps--appeared in every direction.  The crops had disappeared; and not
even a fence was standing.

Thus the settlers, with sorrowful countenances, beheld the labour of
years destroyed.



CHAPTER NINE.

THE SETTLERS DETERMINE TO ACCEPT MR. SPARKS' OFFERS--LILY'S SORROW AT
LEAVING THE OLD SETTLEMENT--MODE OF ADVANCE--SABBATH OBSERVANCE ON THE
MARCH--WE ARE LEFT BEHIND, IN CONSEQUENCE OF OUR WAGGON BREAKING DOWN--
OUR GREAT WANT OF WATER--A DANGEROUS DESCENT--THE HORRID SPECTACLE OF
THE WOLVES--OUR OXEN FLAGGING, I PROCEED FORWARD ALONE IN THE DIRECTION
OF A FIRE IN THE DISTANCE--MY JOY UPON DISCOVERING OUR FRIENDS--REUBEN
OFFERS TO ACCOMPANY ME BACK--WE GET LOST--FAITHFUL MIKE FINDS US--
STRANGE HORSEMEN--MIKE, REUBEN, AND I TAKEN PRISONERS BY THE SIOUX.

The fire gave more support to the schemes of Mr Sparks than did all his
arguments and glowing descriptions.  Mr Claxton, my uncles, and most of
the settlers who possessed the means of transport, resolved to accept
his offers, and at once prepared for the journey.  Those who had no
waggons made up their minds to remain where they were, and to cultivate
the ground, which the ashes would render more fertile than before.  The
grass, after the first rain, would spring up and afford a rich pasture
for their cattle; and the charred trunks would enable them to rebuild
their log-huts and put up fences.  I had reason afterwards to believe
that they chose the wisest course; though at the time I was well pleased
at the thought of the long journey we were to take, and the adventures
we might expect to meet with.

I was surprised to find that Lily did not enter into my feelings.  "I
would far rather have stayed where we were," she said.  "The trees would
soon have become green again, and we could have cultivated the ground as
before, and the river and hills would have remained the same; though, as
Uncle Stephen and aunt, and you, Roger, wish it, I am ready to go."

My uncles had saved a bag of dollars, and the Claxtons and others were
provided with cash.  Therefore, as soon as the country was sufficiently
cool to enable the waggons to move, two were sent off to the eastward to
bring back such stores as were required; while the main body began to
move southward, along the bank of the river, to a spot where we intended
to cross.

Our course for some distance was to be to the southward; after which we
were to turn to the south-west till we reached the prairie.  I cannot
describe each day's journey.  In front marched a body of a dozen men,
with their axes, to clear the road.  The waggons, drawn by long teams of
oxen, followed; and the loose cattle, driven by the younger men and
boys, brought up the rear.

While no fears existed of an attack from the Indians, the axemen
generally marched a day in advance of us, to cut a road through the
woods.  Another party, acting as hunters, ranged on one side or the
other of the line of march in search of deer, bears, or any other
animals, and birds; and they contrived, when possible, to reach the
camping-ground an hour or two before the waggons, so that they might get
the fires lighted, and have the game they had killed cooking on the
spits, in readiness for the women and children.  Reuben and I undertook
to hunt, since we were as good shots as any of the emigrants.  We always
went together, and seldom failed to bring in game of some sort.

As evening approached we made our way towards the spot fixed on for the
encampment.  Before nightfall the main body usually arrived, and the
waggons were arranged in a circle, so as to form a sort of fortification
in case of attack from the Indians: though we had no great reason to
apprehend such an event at that period of our journey.  No time was lost
in commencing supper; and as soon as it was over the women and children
went to rest inside the waggons, while the men not on guard lay down
either under them or in the neighbourhood of the fires.  A spot was
always chosen--either by the side of a stream or near some pool--where
the cattle could find water and good grass.  They were then turned out
to graze, under charge of a few armed men.  Of course, we all kept our
rifles by our sides, so that we might be ready to defend ourselves at a
moment's notice.

We met with very few Indians, and those we fell in with seemed disposed
to be friendly.  They saw that we were merely passing through their
hunting-grounds, and had apparently no objection to our killing the
comparatively small amount of game we met with.  Had we shown any
intention of settling, the case might have been different.

We thus pushed on for many days together, halting only on the Sabbath,
to obtain the rest which both we and our cattle required.  This was a
day we all enjoyed.  One of the elders conducted a service, and the
wilderness we were traversing resounded for the time with praise and
prayer.

Thus we travelled on day after day; but we made but slow progress
through the densely-wooded country, having sometimes to cut our way amid
the trees, though we were generally able to find a passage without
felling them.  Occasionally, however, we were compelled to do even that,
and to drag the huge trunks out of the road, before the waggons could
proceed.  We had also frequently to cross rivers.  When no ford could be
found, we built large rafts, on which the waggons were ferried over,
while the oxen gained the opposite bank by swimming.  They were
accustomed to the undertaking; and, strange as it may seem, we never
lost any by this means.

At length we gained an open but more desert region.  The ground was
stony and uneven, and we had rocky hills to ascend and dark gorges to
pass through.  Water was scarce, and we had often to carry sufficient to
supply our wants for a couple of days; while our cattle suffered greatly
from thirst.  We could no longer hunt in small parties, for fear of
encountering hostile Indians; but we were able to kill game without
going to any great distance from the camp, as we found several species
of deer inhabiting those wilds.

My uncle's waggon was one day bringing up the rear of the train; and our
water being nearly exhausted, we were pushing forward as fast as the
oxen could move, in the hope of reaching a stream before dark, when one
of the wheels came off, and the waggon, in falling over, suffered
considerable damage.  Under other circumstances, the train would have
stopped till our waggon was put to rights; but as most of the oxen were
suffering from thirst, and many of the party had no water remaining, it
was important for them to push forward without delay.  We were therefore
compelled to remain by ourselves; but no Indians had as yet been seen in
this part of the country, and we hoped that we should escape without
being attacked.

My uncles were not men to be frightened by difficulties.  They and Mike,
with Quambo and I, immediately set to work to do what was necessary.  We
unloaded the waggon, and commenced repairing the damage it had received.
This, however, took us some time, and it was quite dark before we got
the wheel on again and the waggon reloaded.  Having been more provident
than the rest of the party, we were able to wet our beasts' muzzles, and
still have sufficient water to last ourselves for a few hours.

As we wished to overtake our companions as soon as possible, we
immediately pushed forward, and soon got into a somewhat more level
country than we had lately been passing through; but the ground was very
hard, and in the darkness we could not perceive the tracks made by those
in advance.  Had an Indian guide been with us, he would undoubtedly have
discovered them; but we had to trust to our own sagacity, and we had not
gone far when we found that we had got out of the right road.  We did
our utmost to regain it, but in vain.  Still, believing that we were
going in the proper direction, we proceeded onwards.  The stars came out
brightly from the sky, and we shaped our course as directly as we could
by them.

While Uncle Stephen drove, Uncle Mark and I, with Mike and Quambo,
marched on either side, our faithful dogs following at our heels.  We
kept a look-out in every direction, lest we should chance to be observed
by a band of Indians, who, seeing a small party, might pounce down upon
us; still, we were all accustomed to look on the bright side of things,
and though we were aware of the possible danger, we were not
unnecessarily alarmed.  Our chief anxiety arose from a fear of not
finding water for our thirsty beasts.  They might hold out during the
cool hours of night; but should they not be supplied with the necessary
fluid, they must in a short time succumb, and dreadful indeed would be
the consequences to ourselves.

When I occasionally went up to the waggon, I found Aunt Hannah and Lily
awake.  They kept up their spirits very well, and naturally inquired
whether we had as yet discovered the track of those who had gone before.

"Not yet," I answered in as cheerful a voice as I could command; "but we
soon shall, I dare say; and, at all events, we are going in the right
direction.  The stars are shining brightly, and by them Uncle Stephen
can guide the waggon as well as if we had the train of our friends in
view.  But we shall soon be up with them, I hope, and find them all
comfortably encamped."

"I trust that we may," said Aunt Hannah, "if not, we shall find water, I
suppose, in a few hours, and we shall certainly overtake them
to-morrow."

This showed what was passing in her mind.  She had begun to suspect--
what really was the case--that we had widely deviated from our course.
One thing was very certain,--that it would be destruction to stop; so,
although our oxen were beginning to show signs of fatigue, and we felt
our own legs aching, we continued to move forward.

At length, about a couple of hours before dawn, we arrived at the edge
of a ravine, the sides of which, though not precipitous, appeared to be
_very_ steep, and down which it would have been madness to attempt
taking the waggon in the dark.  We must either stop, or try to find a
passage across to the north or south.  We had observed that the valleys
already passed by us were shallower to the southward; we therefore
turned our waggon in that direction, hoping shortly to discover a
practicable path, though we suspected that it would lead us even further
from the track of our friends.

We went on and on, fancying that we could discern the bottom of the
valley more clearly than at first, and hoping soon to discover a
sufficiently gentle slope which we might be able to descend.  But we
were deceived, and though Uncle Mark and I made our way down in several
places, we saw that the waggon would certainly be upset should we
attempt to get it down.  We were almost in despair of success, for the
ravine appeared to run on to the southward with equally rugged sides as
at first.  The panting oxen, too, could scarcely drag on the waggon, and
we began to fear that they would fall unless water should be found.  We
urged them on, however, for stopping to rest would not avail them, and
might prove our destruction.

Morning at length broke, when we saw a hill before us which seemed to be
the termination of the ravine; and as the light increased, to our joy we
caught sight of a silvery line of water making its way along the course
of the valley.  Our eagerness to reach the bottom was now greater than
ever; and we could with difficulty restrain the oxen from rushing down
the bank.  We had to keep at their heads, indeed, to prevent them
attempting so mad a performance.

On we went, till we saw before us what we had so long been looking
for,--a gentle slope which it would be easy to descend, while on the
opposite side the ground was equally favourable for again ascending to
the same elevation as before.  Putting the drag on the wheel, we
commenced the undertaking; and though I more than once feared that the
waggon would be upset, we reached the bottom in safety.  Then,
immediately unyoking the tired oxen, we hurried to the fountain-head to
obtain water, while they rushed to a pool close below it, where they
could more easily drink.  Near at hand was an abundance of fresh grass,
with which they quickly recruited their strength.

Aunt Hannah and Lily offered to watch while we lay down and took the
sleep we so much required.

"I will keep a look-out all round, and if I see any suspicious Indians
approaching I'll scream loud enough to wake you all," said Lily, half in
joke, as if she were not at all anxious on the subject.

"One thing is very certain,--if they do come, we cannot run away from
them," observed Uncle Mark.  "We must hope that they will prove
friendly, for if not we shall have to beat them or be cut to pieces.
However, we will trust to your watchfulness, and pick up a little
strength to continue our journey."

We accordingly lay down under the waggon, and in less than a minute were
fast asleep.

We rested till about ten o'clock, when Aunt Hannah, as Uncle Stephen had
desired, awoke us.  Not a human being had approached the valley, though
she said that she had seen some creatures moving along on the top of the
heights; but what they were she could not make out, though they did not
look, she thought, like deer.

Having taken a hurried meal, we again yoked the oxen; and going behind
with crowbars to assist, we commenced the ascent of the hill.  It was
harder work than we expected, but, by making a zigzag course, in about
half an hour we got to the top.  Looking ahead, the country appeared to
be pretty level, with rocky hills rising out of it in various
directions, but we expected to have no difficulty in making our onward
way.  We had filled all our skin-bottles with water, and even should we
meet with no more till the following day the cattle would not materially
suffer.

My uncles were of opinion that we had crossed near the source of the
stream at which the rest of the party must have stopped, and that by
verging to the right we should fall upon their tracks, although we did
not expect to meet with them till the close of the day, owing to the
direction we were taking.  They might possibly have sent back to help
us; but as they had not many men to spare, it was more likely that they
would push forward, expecting us ultimately to overtake them.  We kept a
look-out for water as we went along, that we might allow our animals to
drink, and thus be able to continue our journey the next day although
none should be found at the camping-ground.  Still, though we went on
and on, no signs could we discover of our friends.  Already the sun was
sinking towards the west.

I had gone on ahead, and made my way up a hill over which we should have
to pass, that I might obtain before sunset a wide view around, when I
saw some way before me a number of creatures moving about.  They seemed
to be very busy, but what they were doing I could not make out.  Some
objects lay near them on the ground.  I hastened on, and when I got
nearer I perceived that the objects were broken pieces of waggons,--
several wheels, and portions of the woodwork,--while the animals, I had
no doubt, were wolves, from the horrid sounds which reached me; a
mixture of snarling, yelping, barking, and growling, for I cannot
otherwise describe the noise made by the creatures.

Not wishing to approach closer by myself, I returned to tell my uncles
what I had seen.  Uncle Mark and Quambo accompanied me back, and as we
got nearer the wolves looked up and snarled at us, and continued their
occupation; but what was our horror, on advancing a little further, to
discover that they were feeding on the dead bodies of a number of
persons stretched on the ground!  A dreadful fear seized us.  Could they
be those of our late companions?  I shuddered, and burst into tears.

Yes! there could be no doubt about it, I thought.  There lay those we
had lately parted from in health and strength, cruelly murdered, and now
the prey of the savage wolves.  Our friends the Claxtons!--Dora! honest
Reuben! and their parents!

Then the fearful thought that such might ere long be our fate came over
me.

"Can none have escaped?"  I exclaimed.

Uncle Mark advanced a few paces nearer the wolves, with his gun, ready
to fire should they attack him.  He was looking at a man whom the wolves
had not yet torn to pieces.  Apparently he was only just dead, and had
probably defended himself to the last, keeping his assailants at bay.

"That man did not belong to our party," I heard Uncle Mark cry out.
"These people must have formed part of another emigrant-train."

Quambo and I ran up to him.  We then shouted together, and some of the
wolves nearest to us, startled by our approach, left their prey, when we
were convinced, by the dresses of the corpses, that Uncle Mark's surmise
was correct.  This discovery somewhat relieved our minds.  Our friends
might have escaped; but at the same time it was too evident that hostile
Indians were scouring that part of the country, and that we ourselves
might ere long be attacked, and share the fate of the unhappy persons we
saw before us.

We now slowly retreated, shouting as we did so to keep the wolves at
bay, and turning every few paces to face them; for had they seen us fly,
they might have been induced to follow.  They were now, however, happily
for us, too much engaged in their dreadful feast to take further notice
of us.

Having told Uncle Stephen what we had seen, we turned the heads of the
oxen away from the spot, directing our course to the right, where the
ground appeared to be more even than any we had yet gone over.  We
agreed not to let Aunt Hannah and Lily know of the dreadful scene we had
witnessed; but it was important to get as far as possible from the spot,
and we determined, if the oxen could drag the waggon, to continue on all
night.

"Do you think it likely that the wolves, when they have finished their
horrible feast, will track us out?"  I said to Uncle Mark.

"I hope not," he answered.  "Were they starving, they might do so; but
only the younger animals, which would have been prevented by their
elders from joining in the feast, may possibly follow us.  If they do,
we can keep them at a distance, for they are more easily frightened than
the older brutes."

The stars, as on the previous night, were very bright, and we were able,
by them, to keep a direct course.  Our chief desire now was to rejoin
our friends, and next to that to find water.  We, of course, as we moved
along, kept a strict watch, as before; but the scene I had witnessed
made me feel much more anxious than usual, and every moment I expected
to see a band of Indians start up from behind the rocks which here and
there rose above the plain, or to hear a flight of arrows whistling
through the air past our ears--perhaps to feel one sticking in my body.

Uncle Stephen had advised Aunt Hannah and Lily to lie down in a space
left vacant for them in the middle of the waggon, where they would be
protected by the luggage piled up on both sides.

We had now gone on many hours without water, and our cattle began to
show signs of being very thirsty.  All we could do was to wet their
muzzles with a little of the water we had brought with us; but our lives
might depend upon our pushing on.

As we generally marched apart--two of us on either side of the waggon--
we had no opportunities for conversation, and were left, consequently,
to our own melancholy thoughts.  Had I been by myself, or with male
companions only, I should not have cared so much; but my mind was
troubled by the idea of what might be dear Lily's fate, and that of Aunt
Hannah, should we be attacked, or should our cattle break down and we be
unable to proceed.

The oxen went slower and slower, notwithstanding every effort of Uncle
Stephen to make them move at their usual pace.  At last they came to a
stand-still.  Mike and Quambo, who at the time were ahead, endeavoured
in vain to induce them to move on.  Uncle Mark and I ran forward to
assist them.  As I was about to do so I caught sight of a ruddy spot in
the distance, away somewhat to the left.  That must be a fire, I
thought, and I pointed it out to Uncle Mark.

"It may be the camp-fire of our friends," he observed; "but we must not
be too sure, for it may be that of a band of Indians."

He asked Uncle Stephen what he thought.

"The Indians generally take care to have their fires in places where
they cannot be seen from a distance, so that is much more likely to be
what you at first supposed," he answered.  "At all events, we will try
and find out."

"If the oxen cannot be got to move, I will go on and ascertain," I said.
"I can direct my course by the fire, and will approach cautiously.
Should I discover that Indians are encamped there, I will hurry back and
let you know.  We must then try and make our way in some other
direction."

"I am afraid, Roger, that in such a case our hope of escape will be very
small," said my uncle in a grave tone.  "Unless we can find water in
some hollow in which it will be possible to conceal ourselves, at the
return of day, the Indians are sure to see us.  Should they cross our
track, they are equally certain to come upon us before long.  We must,
however, hope for the best.  Go forward as you propose, and may Heaven
protect you, my boy."

Without stopping to bid Lily and my aunt good-bye I hurried on, keeping
my gaze on the fire, which, growing brighter as I advanced, enabled me
without difficulty to direct my course for it.  The ground was tolerably
even, but sloped slightly downwards in the direction I was taking.  The
fire, indeed, when I first saw it, appeared to be in a hollow, or at all
events at a lower elevation than that where we were standing.  I looked
back once or twice, and quickly lost sight of the waggon.  So far I was
satisfied that, should the people who had made the fire be Indians, they
would not discover the waggon until daylight, by which time I hoped we
should be able to conceal ourselves among the hills in the
neighbourhood.

I hurried on as fast as I could venture to move, ignorant of what was
before me.  It would be useless, I knew, to attempt concealing my trail,
but as I did not intend to go nearer the camp-fire than was necessary to
make out who were there, I hoped some time would elapse after I had
retreated before the Indians could discover that any one had been near
them.  Now and then, when crossing a hill, I lost sight of the fire, and
had to direct my course by the stars overhead.  Again I saw it before
me, blazing brightly.  I hoped that Uncle Stephen was right in his
conjectures.  The fire, however, was further off than I had supposed,
and the greater part of an hour was consumed before I got close enough
to see the figures moving about it.

I now crept on as noiselessly as I could, for I knew that the least
sound would be conveyed to the quick ears of the Redskins.  Fortunately
there were a number of bushes in the neighbourhood, behind which I could
conceal myself.

As I was going on I heard voices, and stopped breathlessly to listen.
They did not sound like those of Indians, and presently I saw a couple
of figures pass in front of the fire.  I almost shouted for joy as I
distinguished by their outlines against the bright blaze that their
dress was that of white men.  I felt sure that the people I saw before
me were our friends; still, caution was necessary, for it was possible
that they were prisoners of the Indians, saved from the caravan lately
destroyed, only to meet with a more cruel death by torture.  There might
be a large party of Indians encamped.

Presently two other fires came into view, which had been hitherto
concealed by the thick bushes surrounding the hollow in which the camp
was formed.  I crept on and on, crouching down like a panther about to
spring on its prey.  The voices became more and more distinct, and at
last I found myself on the top of the bank, with only a few bushes
intervening between me and those encamped below.

On pushing aside the branches my eyes were greeted by the pleasant sight
of waggons, cattle, and a number of people; some cooking before the
fires, others preparing their resting-places for the night.  Not far
off, at the lower part of the hollow, for it could scarcely be called a
valley, was a pool reflecting the stars overhead.

Feeling sure that I saw my friends before me, I now rushed down the
slope towards them.  The first person I met was Reuben Claxton.

"Why, Roger! where have you come from?" he exclaimed.  "We were very
anxious about you, and my father had determined, should you not appear
soon, to return with a party to your relief."

I quickly told him what had occurred, several others gathering round to
hear my account.  They were greatly alarmed at the description I gave of
the remains of the emigrant-train we had discovered.  I pointed out that
their own camp was formed with less care than usual; of which fact they
were convinced, but excused themselves on the plea that they had arrived
very tired just at dark, having had a rough country to traverse, and
that their cattle had suffered from want of water since the last place
they had stopped at.  The way I had approached showed them how easily
they might have been surprised by a party of hostile Indians.

I told them that I must be off again at once, as I was anxious to get
back to our waggon, in order that we might join them without delay.
Reuben offered to accompany me, and I was very glad to have him.  We
therefore set off immediately.

It was necessary to be careful, however, to keep a direct course; and
this could only be done by watching a star which I had marked,
overhanging the spot where I had left the waggon.  By any deviation to
the right hand or to the left we might easily pass it.

Reuben told me that many of the emigrants had become very anxious, and
the account I had brought would make them still more so.  Could they
venture back alone, he thought they would be willing to return to the
settlement.

"For my own part, I like the wild sort of life we are leading; but I
should be happier if I knew that Lily and my aunt were in safety,
whereas they are exposed to as much danger as we are," I observed.

More than once I thought that we had gone wrong, as it was impossible to
distinguish objects clearly in the gloom of night.  I fancied that we
must have performed the distance; still I could nowhere see the waggon.
The dreadful thought occurred to me that some prowling Indians might
have pounced upon it, and carried it off.

"I hope not," said Reuben, when I told him my fears.  "We may not have
gone far enough yet; or we are perhaps too much on one side or the
other."

We went on a little further, trying to pierce the gloom.  Then we
stopped to listen, but could hear no sounds.

"We must have gone wrong," I said; "for I am certain that we should
otherwise have got up to the waggon by this time."

Still Reuben thought that I might be mistaken.

"Let us shout, and perhaps they will hear us;" and before I could stop
him, he cried out at the top of his voice--"Hallo!  Mr Tregellis,
whereabouts are you?"

Thinking it too probable that Indians were not far off, I dreaded lest
the shout might be heard by them, and I advised Reuben not to cry out
again.

I was still fearing that we had missed the waggon, when a voice reached
our ears.  It was that of Mike.

"Is that you, Masther Roger?  If you are yourself, come on here; but if
not, I'll throuble you to stop where you are, or I'll be afther shooting
you through the head."

"All right, Mike!"  I exclaimed, as we made our way in the direction
from whence the voice came.

He had grown anxious at my long delay, and had got leave from my uncles
to try and find out what had become of me.

We soon got back to the waggon; and by giving the patient oxen the
remainder of our water, they having in the meantime cropped some grass,
we were able to move forward.  The road, in the dark, was difficult; but
we managed to reach the camp without any accident, and were heartily
welcomed by our friends.

Those who wished to return had, we found, summoned a meeting, and it was
settled that the matter should be decided by the majority of votes.  My
uncles turned the scale in favour of going on.  They pointed out that it
would be as dangerous to retreat as to advance.

Mr Sparks urged that it would be madness to give up the enterprise.
Water, he assured us, would be found at the end of every day's march, or
even oftener; and though Indians might be met, with our rifles we could
without difficulty keep them at bay, as none of them were likely to
possess firearms--their only weapons being bows and arrows and spears.
His remarks prevailed; and it was agreed that after a day's rest, which
the cattle greatly required, we should recommence our march.

Once more we were making our toilsome way across the desert.  For two
days we had moved on without interruption, keeping scouts out as usual
on either side to give notice should any Indians approach.  Reuben and
I, and other young men, performed that necessary duty for several hours
each day.

Early in the morning of the second day we caught sight in the distance
of a couple of horsemen with long spears in their hands.  They galloped
towards us, apparently to ascertain who we were; then, wheeling round,
they quickly disappeared, and though we were on the watch we saw no more
of them.  When we halted at noon, we of course reported the
circumstance.  As it showed that Redskins were in the neighbourhood,
several more men were told off to act as scouts, with orders to retreat
towards the train the moment they might see any Indians, whether few or
many.

Reuben, Mike, and I were advancing as I have described, somewhat ahead
of the train, when towards evening we entered a valley, the hills
sloping away on either side of it.  At the further end we expected to
find a stream, at the side of which we could encamp.  I was leading,
Mike was next to me, and Reuben was nearest the train.  The ground I was
traversing was somewhat rough, and I was leaping from one rock to
another, when I fell and sprained my ankle.  Just as I got up--being
then on higher ground than my companions, and having a more extensive
view--I saw a large band of horsemen approaching at full gallop.  I knew
at once that they were Redskins.

"Indians!  Indians!"  I shrieked out to Mike.  "Tell Reuben to run and
let our friends know that the enemy are upon us."

Mike shouted at the top of his voice, as I had desired him.  I saw
Reuben set off, and Mike following him.  Presently Mike stopped and
looked back to see what had become of me.  I endeavoured to run, but
found it impossible to move.  Before I had made a second step, I sank to
the ground.

"Sure, you are not coming, Masther Roger," cried Mike, on seeing me
fall.

The pain I endured prevented me speaking.

Mike rushed back towards me, crying out all the time, "Come along! come
along!"  But move I could not.

He was still at some distance from me, when, looking round, I saw that
the Indians were rapidly approaching.  I made signs to him to save
himself, but he either did not, or would not, understand them.

"Go back! go back!"  I at length cried out.

"Arrah! and sure, not till I've got you on me back," he answered, still
making his way towards me.

I felt very certain that, with me to carry, he could not possibly reach
the train before the Indians would be up with us, and he could scarcely
have failed to know this.

"Cling to me back, Masther Roger, and I'll show the Ridskins how a
bog-trotter can get over the ground;" and stooping down, he seized my
arms and threw me on his back.  "Now, here we go!" he cried out, and
began leaping over the ground with as much agility as if he had had no
burden to carry.

But his efforts, as I feared they would be, were in vain.  A wild whoop
sounded in my ears, and looking back I saw upwards of a dozen Indians in
their war-paint--their feather-plumes and cloaks flying in the air, as
they galloped forward on their mustangs over the rocky ground, sending
the stones and dust flying away from their heels.  I expected every
instant to feel one of those ugly-looking spears plunged into my back.
One of the painted warriors was just about to finish my career, when I
heard a loud voice shouting in an authoritative tone; and instead of
transfixing me, he let the point of his spear fall, then, seizing me by
the collar, dragged me up on his steed, and laid me across his saddle in
front of him.  Another treated Mike in the same manner, in spite of his
struggles to free himself.  I made no resistance, knowing it was useless
to do so.

The two Indians who had captured us wheeled their horses round and
galloped away, and we met crowds of other warriors galloping at full
speed in the track of the first.  I got one glance round, which enabled
me to see that the enemy were close up to the waggons, while the puffs
of smoke and the report of rifles showed that my friends were determined
to defend themselves.  Several of the Indian saddles were emptied in a
minute, but still a whole host of the savages appeared charging down on
the train.  Whether or not Reuben had succeeded in getting under shelter
of the waggons, I could not tell.  I saw no more, for my captor galloped
off with me round the hill, and they were concealed from view, though I
could still hear the sound of the shots and the shrieks and shouts of
the combatants.  I had no hope of escaping with life, and believed that
I was reserved to suffer the fearful tortures to which the Redskins so
frequently subject their prisoners.

After going some distance the Indian stopped, and lifting me up from the
painful position in which I lay, placed me behind him; fastening me by a
leather strap round his body, and so securing my arms that I could not
move.  He had previously deprived me of my rifle, which I had hitherto
held firmly in my grasp, hoping against hope that I might have an
opportunity of using it.  I saw Mike not far off, he having been treated
much in the same manner, though not without the assistance of another
Indian, who had accompanied the one on whose horse he was placed.

Having secured us, the Indians again galloped forward.  After going some
distance, I saw that we were approaching a more wooded region than the
one we had left, with a stream or river running through it; and I
thought that I could distinguish cliffs, below which the river, in part
of its course, made its way.

I could manage to turn my head, and as I did so I fancied that I
discerned another horseman coming up behind us, with a prisoner, whom I
naturally feared was Reuben.  Further off were numerous Indians, but
whether they formed the whole of the body which had attacked the train
or not I could not make out.  If they were, I had great hopes that the
Redskins had been defeated, although they would probably wreak their
vengeance on us, their unfortunate captives.  Still, in either case I
felt sure that we should be put to death--though I rejoiced in the
belief that Lily and my other relatives and friends had escaped; for as
none of the Indians I had seen had firearms, I had good reason for
hoping that our party had gained the victory.  Should Mr Sparks prove
equal to his professions, by leading them well and taking the necessary
precautions against surprise, they might still fight their way through
the hostile territory.

My mind being relieved of anxiety about my friends, I was able to think
more about myself and Reuben and Mike.  Had we any chance of escaping?
I was determined, at all events, to make the attempt; and I was very
sure that they would do likewise.  I resolved, could I get near enough
to Mike, to tell him of my intention, and to advise him to keep up his
spirits; and before long I had an opportunity.

"Bedad! it's what I have been afther thinking about," he answered.
"I'll let young Reuben know me thoughts, too.  We've outwitted the
Ridskins once before, and, sure, we'll thry to play them another trick."

He spoke in a tone of voice which showed that no coward fears had
overcome him.

We galloped on until we reached the wood, where our captors dismounted,
aided by the third Indian I have mentioned.  I had scarcely thought
about my foot during my ride, but when I was cast loose and attempted to
move by myself, I found that I could not stand, and presently sank to
the ground.  Mike, on finding himself at liberty, hurried to my
assistance, and, taking off my shoe, examined my ankle.

"It's a bad sprain," he observed; "but maybe these rid gintlemen will
just let me get some cowld wather.  I'll bathe it and bind it up, and in
the course of a few days, or in less time than that, it will be all to
rights again."

I could only smile, not believing that I should be allowed many days to
get well.

He then carried me under the shade of a tree, against the trunk of which
I reclined.  The pain rapidly went off, and I was better able to
consider our position, and the possibility of escape.



CHAPTER TEN.

MY SPRAINED ANKLE--MIKE'S DEVOTION--REUBEN BROUGHT TO THE CAMP--THE
INDIANS BIND US TO TREES--THE DEBATE ON OUR FATE--I AM RELEASED BY SANDY
MCCOLL--OLD SAMSON AGAIN--THE SECRET CAVERN--SAMSON IS VERY KIND AND
ATTENTIVE TO ME--HIS CLOSE ATTENTION TO MY ACCOUNT OF THE BURNING OF THE
SETTLEMENT, AND THE RESCUE OF LILY AND ME WHEN CHILDREN--I RECOVER, AND
SAMSON AND I LEAVE THE CAVERN TO RECONNOITRE--THE INDIAN MASSACRE--
SANDY, REUBEN, AND MIKE ARE HOTLY PURSUED--OUR FORTRESS BESIEGED--WE
HOLD OUT, AND BEAT OFF OUR BESIEGERS--OUR START--THE ELK.

The Indians, instead of binding Mike, as I expected they would do,
allowed him to come and sit by me under the tree; narrowly watching him,
however, though they did not interfere with us.

"Faix, thin, Masther Roger, I don't think these Ridskin gintlemen can be
intending to do us much harm, or they would not be afther letting us sit
so quietly by ourselves," he observed.

"I am not so confident of that, Mike," I answered.  "We must wait till
the rest come up, to judge how they will treat us; at all events, I
would advise you, when you get the chance, to mount one of their best
horses and gallop off.  I am afraid that I shall be unable to make the
attempt, or I would try it."

"Why, thin, Masther Roger, would you be afther belaving that I would go
and desart you?  Even if they were to bring me a horse, and tell me to
mount and be off, it would break me heart intirely to think that I had
left you to their tinder mercies.  Whativer they do to you, they may do
to me; and I'll stop and share iverything with you."

"I deeply feel your generosity, Mike," I said; "but you might have saved
yourself and got back to the waggons, had you not attempted to carry me
off, and I therefore wish you to try and escape if you have the
opportunity."

Mike laughed and shook his head; and when I still urged him to escape if
he could, he put on that look of stolidity which an Irishman so well
knows how to assume, and refused to reply to any of my remarks.

While we had been talking, the Indian I had seen following us
approached, having slowly walked his horse, which had apparently been
lamed.  I now caught sight of the person behind him, and with much
concern recognised my friend Reuben.  One of our captors assisted him to
dismount; and Reuben, with his hands bound, was dragged forward to a
short distance from us, where he was compelled to sit down on the
ground, the Indians intimating by signs that he must not move.  He
looked very melancholy, evidently imagining that he was soon to be put
to death.  I tried to cheer him up by telling him that we had not been
ill-treated.

"That may be," he answered; "but I know their treacherous nature.
Depend upon it, when they all eat together, and talk over the number of
their warriors who have been slain, they will wreak their vengeance upon
us.  Are you prepared to die, Roger?  We must make up our minds for
that, and we may consider ourselves fortunate if we are not scalped and
flayed first.  I have often read, with very little concern, of the
dreadful tortures the Redskins inflict on their prisoners, little
dreaming that I should ever have to suffer the same."

"It is not wise to anticipate evil," I said.  "Let us hope for the best;
and perhaps means may be offered us, that we do not now think of, to
make our escape."

"I don't see where they can come from," he replied.  "These fellows keep
too sharp a look-out on us to give us a chance.  Look there! here come
the whole tribe of savages, and they will soon settle our fate."

He pointed as he spoke to a large number of horsemen galloping across
the country from different directions, towards us.  They halted outside
the wood, and several of them appeared to be wounded; but they did not
allow themselves to exhibit any sign of suffering.  Having taken the
saddles and bridles from their horses, the greater number led them down
towards the water to drink; while six, who, from their more ornamental
dresses, appeared to be chiefs, advanced towards us.  Their principal
man, or head chief, spoke to us; but as we could not understand what he
said, we knew that it would be useless to reply.  He then pointed to
Mike and me, and addressed a few words to his companions.  They nodded,
and we were led to separate trees, to which we were bound, with our
hands secured behind us in a very unpleasant fashion.

Matters now began to look more serious than at first.  Darkness was
coming on, and our captors lighted a large fire near to the spot where
we were bound, and those among them who acted the part of cooks began
dressing the evening meal.  They then sat down to discuss it--an
operation which was soon concluded.  We in the meantime were left bound
to the trees, watching what was going on.  After supper, a similar fire
having been lighted near where we were bound, the principal Indians took
their seats round it and began to smoke their long pipes, while, as I
suspected, they deliberated on our fate.  They were some little distance
off, but the flames from the fire cast a red glow on their figures, and
enabled me to observe the expression of the countenances of those turned
towards me, from which, with painful anxiety, I endeavoured to learn how
they were disposed towards us.  Though I could hear their voices, I
could not understand a word that was said.

After talking for some time, one of them, whose back, however, was
towards me, got up and addressed his companions.  He spoke at some
length, and I would have given much to know what he was saying.  His
spear he held with one hand; with the other he pointed, now to the sky,
now to some unseen distant object, now he waved it in the air.  The
other Indians gazed up at his countenance, as if greatly moved by his
address; but whether he was pleading for us or advocating our death, I
could by no means discover.  In vain I listened to catch any words I
might understand.

At last he brought his address to a conclusion, and sat down; when
another slowly rose and commenced a harangue which was equally
unintelligible to me.  Still, I felt very sure that the discussion was
one on which our lives depended; and, judging from the countenances of
the Indians, I was nearly certain that they intended to kill us.

The next speaker was even more long-winded than the first.  I thought
that he would never bring his address to a conclusion.

A fourth man got up.  His face was also turned away from me.  His action
was more vehement than that of his predecessors, and the tones of his
voice afforded me but very little hope of mercy from his hands.

While he was speaking, another Indian, whom I had not hitherto seen,
stalked into the circle, and regarding the speaker with a fixed and, as
I thought, somewhat contemptuous look, sat himself down among the
others.  His appearance evidently created a considerable amount of
astonishment, little as the natives are accustomed to show their
feelings.  So soon as the last had ceased speaking, he rose and
addressed the assembly.  As he did so, it struck me that he bore a
strong resemblance to Manilick, though he was much more gaudily dressed
than I had ever seen that young chief.

All eyes were turned towards him as he spoke, and scarcely had he
commenced when I heard a voice whisper in my ear, "Trust to me!"  At the
same moment I felt that the thongs which bound me were being cut, and
the next instant I was at liberty; but, recollecting my sprained ankle,
I feared that it would not avail me.  To my surprise, however, when I
tried to move I found that I could do so without much pain.

I slipped round the tree, when I felt my hand grasped by that of my
deliverer, who, discovering that I could move but slowly, stooped down
and lifted me on his back.  The darkness prevented me from seeing who he
was, but I felt convinced, from his dress and the tone of his voice,
that he was a white man.  He moved along cautiously under the trees
towards the bank of the river.

"Can you swim?" he asked in a low voice, "Yes--like a fish," I answered.

"Then we will take to the river at once.  There are horses waiting on
the opposite side, lower down.  We can float with the current till we
reach them," he continued.

We were not more than three or four minutes in reaching the bank, and we
at once glided in so as to create no splash.

"Strike out towards the middle of the river," he whispered; "but do so
as gently as possible."

I followed his directions, and found that I could swim without any pain
to my ankle.

"Now throw yourself on your back, and we will float down with the
current," he said.

We could all this time hear the voice of the Indian addressing the
assembly of warriors.  So intent were they in listening to what he was
saying, that they had evidently not discovered my escape.

"Can nothing be done to save my companions?"  I asked, thinking of the
dreadful fate which might await Reuben and Mike.

"Others will look after them," he answered.  "Don't speak, lest the
water should convey your voice to the shore."

After we had gone some distance he told me to turn round again and swim,
so that we might make more progress.

"Now make for the shore," he said.

In a short time we gained a spot where the trees grew close down to the
bank.  Climbing up there, he led me through the wood.  On the further
side I found a man holding three horses.

"Glad to get you out of the clutches of the Indians, my son Reuben," he
said.

"I am not Reuben," I answered; "but I heartily wish that he had escaped.
I am Roger Penrose."

"Why, Sandy McColl, I told you to try and set Reuben at liberty; though
I am glad to see you, Roger," said the speaker, whom I now recognised as
the old trapper, Samson Micklan.

"I should have been discovered if I had attempted to reach the two
others, for they were much nearer the fire; and, in truth, I could not
distinguish one from the other," said Sandy.

"Well, we must see what can be done to rescue Reuben and the Irishman,"
said old Samson.  "Our friend Manilick promised to plead for you and
Mike, and, should he fail, to come and let me know; and he will, I
trust, exert his influence in favour of Reuben, when he finds that you
have got off.  At all events, the Indians will not put their prisoners
to death till they get back to their lodges, and we must try and set
them at liberty before then.  Though they have vowed to have my hair, I
fear them not, for I have outwitted them a hundred times--and intend to
outwit them as many more, if I have the chance.  But we must not delay
here, for when they find that you have got away they will suspect that
you took to the river, and will scour the banks in search of you."

Anxious as I was to save my friends, I had no wish again to fall into
the hands of the Indians, I therefore very readily mounted one of the
horses.

"If you, Samson, will go on to the cave with this young man, I will
return and try to help the others," said Sandy.  "Maybe, while the
Indians are looking for me, they may leave them unguarded, and I may
have a chance of carrying out my object."

"That's what we'll do, then," answered old Samson.  "I needn't tell you
to be cautious, because I know that you will be so."

As he spoke, Samson threw himself on one of the horses, and took the
rein of the third.  "We shall better deceive the Redskins if we take
this one with us," he observed.  "They may possibly discover that it has
no rider; but it will puzzle them, at all events, if they come upon our
trail, and they will be less likely to suspect that you are watching
them."

"Don't fear for me," answered Sandy.  "I'll keep my wits about me; and
if the other two can make good use of their legs, we will overtake you
before long, should I manage to set them free.  If I am caught, why, I
shall only suffer the fate I have often thought would be my lot."

Saying this, Sandy again plunged into the wood out of which we had come;
while Samson and I galloped away across the country.  It was too dark to
discern objects at any distance, but my companion seemed to be
thoroughly acquainted with the ground.  At last I saw before me a hill,
rising out of the plain.  As I got nearer, I observed that the sides and
summit in many places were covered with trees; in others, it was barren
and rocky.  We directed our course towards a gap in the hillside, up
which we wound our way.

"Can you walk?" asked old Samson.

"I will try," I answered, imitating his example and dismounting--when I
soon found that I could get on better than I should have supposed
possible.

He led two of the horses, while I followed with the third; but, passing
amid the trees, the animals had to lower their heads to enable them to
creep under the boughs.

On getting out of the wood, I found that we were proceeding up a steep
zigzag path, along which two people could not make their way abreast.
At last we reached a narrow terrace, with a few trees growing on it.  We
made our way between them till Samson entered a cavern, the mouth of
which would admit only a horse, or, at the utmost, a couple of persons
at a time.  I followed; and having gone through this narrow archway,
Samson told me to stop.  He then, using his flint and steel, lighted a
torch, and by the flame I discovered that we were in a large vaulted
chamber.  On one side there were some rude stalls, and litter for
horses; on the other, a couple of rough bunks, and a table and some
stools, showed that it was used as a human habitation.

"This is my home and fortress," said Samson.  "I come to it occasionally
when tired of hunting; and I always keep here a store of provisions.  At
the further end is a spring of water, so that I might hold it for any
length of time against a host of foes.  I have never as yet been
attacked, for the Indians know that they could not attempt to drive me
out with impunity, and think it wiser to leave me and my companion
unmolested."

I asked him how he came to know that we had been captured by the
Indians.

"Because I witnessed with my own eyes what happened," he answered.  "I
was on the hillside overlooking the train, but had no time to warn you
of the approach of the enemy, nor could I at first help you; but I saw
you three carried off, and then made my way here to get the assistance
of Sandy, who had remained at home, as well as the three horses."

I asked him if he thought that our friends had escaped.

"I know that the Indians were beaten off," he answered; "but whether any
of the emigrants were killed or wounded, I cannot say.  They continued
their course, and must have encamped shortly afterwards by the side of
the river.  They will there have formed a strong camp, which the Indians
will not venture to attack.  Their road will lead them not far from
this, when you can rejoin them, and I will pay them a visit."

"But I could not show my face among them without Reuben and Mike.  I
should feel as if I had deserted my friends, without attempting to
rescue them," I said.

"A very right spirit, my lad," answered old Samson; "but you could have
done nothing, and would only have lost your life if you had made the
attempt.  Sandy has a long head on his shoulders, and a brave heart; and
if any man can circumvent the Redskins, he can.  He has a good drop of
their blood in his veins, with the brains of a white man, and knows all
their ways."

These assurances somewhat relieved my mind.  The exertions I had made,
however, had brought on the pain in my foot; and after having eaten some
food which Samson gave me, I was thankful, by his advice, to lie down in
Sandy's bunk.  I slept, but not soundly, for I fancied that I heard the
voices of the Indians consulting as to our fate; and then, in my dreams,
I saw them approaching with their scalping-knives to take the hair off
my head.  Such being the character of my dreams, I was glad to awake and
find myself in comparative safety.

Old Samson was listening at the entrance of the cave.  He had, I found,
the means of barricading it with stout timbers, so that no foes could
force their way in without paying dearly for the attempt.  I rose from
the bunk, intending to join him, but he told me to lie quiet.  I obeyed,
and was soon asleep; and when I again awoke daylight was streaming
through the entrance.  I looked round, but Samson was not to be seen.

On attempting to get up, I found that my ankle was much swollen, and
that I could not walk.  With a groan I sank back again on the bunk, and
waited anxiously for Samson, wondering what had become of him.  The
horses were still there, munching their fodder, so he was not likely to
have gone far.  At last I saw him at the entrance.

"Well, lad, you may get up now, and have some breakfast," he said.

I told him that I could not walk, as I was suffering severely from my
ankle.

"That's a bad job," he observed; "I intended to have moved away from
this.  There are more Redskins in the neighbourhood than I like, as no
game can be got while they are here."

I asked if Sandy had appeared, and brought any tidings of Reuben and
Mike.

"No," he answered; "for the reason I have given, they could not make
their way across the country in daylight.  But that is no reason why
Sandy should not have succeeded.  He may have set them at liberty, and
concealed them and himself in some other place.  There are several caves
like this in different directions, which seem to be made by nature as
refuges from the Indians.  The only difficulty is to get to them without
being tracked, as it is always a hard job to escape the keen eyes of the
Redskins, although the horsemen of the plains are not so clever in
tracking a foe as those who go on the war-path on foot.  That makes me
hope that we shall hear of our friends, though it may be some time
hence."

These remarks of old Samson again somewhat relieved my mind.  I then
asked him when he thought that the emigrant-train would pass by; and
whether he could manage to let me join it on horseback, for I thought
that I could ride although I could not walk.

"I much doubt whether it will pass this way at all," he answered.  "It
will either turn back, or, if the leader is a man of judgment, he will
conduct it by a different route, further to the south.  Your uncles, Mr
Claxton, and their companions are brave men, but they will not wish to
encounter the savage hordes who have assembled to stop their progress on
the road they intended taking."

I was very glad to hear this opinion from one who was so well able to
judge rightly, and I felt more reconciled than I otherwise should have
been at remaining inactive; for, as to moving, unless I was placed on
horseback, I knew that was impossible.  As far as I could tell, it might
be many days before I could recover, as a sprain, I was aware, is
frequently as difficult to cure as a broken bone; still, I did not like
to keep old Samson in the cave, should he wish to go out for the purpose
of ascertaining what had become of Sandy.  I told him that I should not
be at all afraid of staying by myself, if he could manage to close the
entrance behind him.

"I have no desire to show myself on the plain, or I should have a dozen
Redskins galloping after me; and though I should not fear to meet twice
as many, provided I could take shelter behind some big trees, I would
rather not meet them where I should be exposed to their arrows," he
answered.  "We must make up our minds to be prisoners for some days to
come; and keep a constant watch, too, lest they should get upon our
trail, and find their way up here."

"But how can you manage to keep watch alone?  You will require some
sleep," I observed.

"Two or three hours are quite sufficient for me; and they are not likely
to attack us for the first hour or two before and after midnight," he
answered.  "If they come at all during the night, it will be soon after
dark, or just before dawn.  I know their ways, and have thus been
frequently enabled to get some necessary rest, even when I knew that
they were on my trail."

"But you would surely be better for more than two or three hours of
sleep; and if you will drag my bunk to the door, I will keep watch while
you rest."

To this he would not agree.  "You require all the sleep that you can
get," he said.  "No enemy, either, is able to break in on us unawares.
I have made arrangements in case of an attack, as you would have seen,
had you examined the entrance.  There is a thick door which can be slid
across it; and in the door several loopholes, so that Sandy and I could
hold it against any number of Indians who might manage to make their way
up the hill."

From what old Samson had said, I fully expected that the cave would be
attacked; for I did not suppose that the Indians, scouring the country,
would fail to observe our tracks.

The entrance was always kept closed, and we should have been in darkness
had it not been for a rude lamp, fed by bear or deer fat, which stood on
the table.  The old hunter and his companion had stored up a large
supply of dried grass for the horses, so that it was not necessary to
turn them out to feed.  He allowed me to sleep as much as I could, and
when I was awake he generally seemed disposed to enter into
conversation.  He told me many of his adventures and escapes from
Indians, and appeared to like to have me talk to him, and to hear all
about my uncles, Aunt Hannah, and Lily.

One day I began repeating to him the history Uncle Mark had given me of
his and Uncle Stephen's arrival in America.  As I went on, I saw that he
was listening with more and more interest; and when I described how, on
reaching the village where my parents had lived, they found it burnt to
the ground, and discovered Lily and me, and our murdered mothers, he
exclaimed--

"Did your uncles learn the name of the little girl's mother?"

"No," I answered; "she died before she had time to utter it, and could
only commit her infant to their charge."

"Strange!" exclaimed the old man.  "I had a daughter, my only child,
living in that village; and she, with her husband and babe, were, I had
every reason to suppose, slaughtered by the savages who attacked the
place.  Yet it is possible that their infant may be the very one your
uncles saved; but, alas!  I can never be sure of that."

"But I think that you may have very satisfactory proofs whether or not
Lily is your daughter's child," I answered, "for Aunt Hannah has
carefully preserved her clothing, and some ornaments which her mother
wore, and which you may be able to recognise."

"That I certainly should," said old Samson, "for I had but a few days
before parted from my daughter to proceed eastward.  On hearing of the
massacre, I returned; but finding the whole village a mass of blackened
ashes, and being unable to gain any tidings of the beings I loved best
on earth, I had no doubt left on my mind that they had all perished.
Having thus no one to care for, I took to the life I have since led--
which I had before only occasionally followed, after the death of my
wife and the marriage of my daughter, for the sake of the sport it
afforded me."

From this time forward old Samson constantly spoke about Lily; and,
persuaded by his own hopes that she was his grand-daughter, he seemed to
be fully convinced that such was the case.  His anxiety to see her, and
to examine the clothes and ornaments which Aunt Hannah had preserved,
increased every day; but how were we to find Lily and Aunt Hannah?  Had
our friends turned back; or had they pushed forward, fighting their way
successfully towards the fertile region to which they were bound?
Neither he nor I could bring ourselves to contemplate what might
otherwise have happened--had they been overwhelmed by the hordes of
savages, and met the fearful fate which had overtaken the smaller band
whose remains we had discovered?

The old trapper went out every day to ascertain if the Indians had moved
away from the plain below us--should he find the country open, he
intended, he said, to go in search of Sandy, and those he might have
rescued--but he as often returned with the information that the Indians
still occupied the country.  I, of course, greatly hampered him, for he
would not leave me in the cavern for long together.  Had he been by
himself, he could easily have started at night and made his escape.

Gradually my ankle regained strength, and Samson now made me get up and
walk about to try it.  Unwilling longer to detain him, I at last
declared that it was quite well, making light of the pain I still felt
when I walked, and begged to accompany him the next time he went out.
He consented.  "But you must not go without a weapon; and you can use it
well, I know," he observed, as he drew a rifle from under his bunk.  He
produced also a powder-horn, which I slung over my shoulder, and a bag
of bullets.  The great drawback to our place of concealment was, that
although well hidden from the sight of those in the plain, we had to go
some distance before we could obtain a view of the surrounding country.

Leaving the horses in the stable, and the entrance open, we set out.
Then going some distance down the hill, we made our way through the
thick wood which covered its sides, and were just emerging into the open
space, when, through the bushes, I caught sight of several horsemen
galloping across the country.  I made a sign to my companion to keep
concealed, and crept forward on my hands and knees.  As I looked out, I
discovered the object of the Indians.  A solitary waggon had just come
into view, and they were about to attack it.

I drew cautiously back, for though the Indian warriors were probably
intent on the business in hand, their keen eyes might have detected me.
I asked Samson if we could assist the unfortunate people in the waggon.

"I fear not," he answered.  "We might kill a few of the Redskins; but
unless the travellers possess a number of rifles, and make a bold stand,
we cannot help them.  We will, however, be ready to take a part if we
have opportunity."

As the horsemen approached, three rifles alone opened fire upon them
from behind the waggon.  One of their number fell, but several dashed
forward; while others, circling round, prepared to attack the devoted
emigrants from the opposite side.  The affair, which was a short one,
was dreadful to witness.  We should, I saw well enough, lose our lives
did we show ourselves.  Indeed, before we could have got up to the
waggon, all its defenders were killed by the savages surrounding it; and
we knew too well that those inside must, according to their cruel
custom, have been put to death, whether women or children.  The Indians
of the plains have no compassion either for age or sex.  The dreadful
thought occurred to me that those we had seen slaughtered might be our
own friends.  It was evident, however, from his calmness, that the idea
of such a thing had not crossed old Samson's mind.

After plundering the waggon of everything they considered of value, the
savages set it on fire.  While it was burning, and they were still
gathered round it, a dreadful explosion took place, scattering
destruction among them.  Panic-stricken, and not knowing what might next
happen, the survivors mounted their horses and galloped off.  A keg of
powder, which they must have overlooked, had probably exploded.

"They deserve their punishment," said the old man, "and they will not
come back again in a hurry; so we may now descend into the plain, and
see if we can learn who the unfortunate people were."

This was what I was wishing to do.  We accordingly left the wood and
made our way down the hill, towards the remains of the waggon.  We had
not got far, however, when we caught sight of three horsemen galloping
across the plain towards us.  My companion scrutinised them narrowly.

"If they are friends, they have reason for their hurry; and if enemies,
the sooner we get under cover the better," he observed.  "We must not
now attempt to reach the waggon.  Ah!  I understand all about it.  See!
out there come a dozen or more horsemen.  They must be Indians in
pursuit of the first--who, if I mistake not, are our friends.  Come on,
Roger! they will reach the hill as soon as we do."

As he said this we retreated to the foot of the hill, and began to climb
it as rapidly as we could.

"But, if these are our friends, will they find their way to the cave?"
I asked.

"Yes, yes!  Sandy knows it as well as I do," he answered, without
stopping.

We were just approaching the entrance of the cave, when the war-whoops
of the Indians, and their loud cries, as they shouted to each other,
reached our ears.

"They are making their way up the hill," said Samson.  "Get inside, lad,
and prepare to close the entrance when I tell you."

The loud rustling sound of persons making their way through the
brushwood was heard, and presently Sandy, accompanied by Reuben and
Mike, sprang out from among the trees, and rushed towards the mouth of
the cavern.

"No time to be lost," sang out Sandy.  "The Redskins are at our heels!"

In a moment they were all three within the cave.  Old Samson was still
outside, and I saw him lift his rifle and fire.  At the same moment two
arrows flew past his head--one sticking in the woodwork, the other
entering the cavern--and just then I caught sight of the fierce
countenances of half-a-dozen red warriors who were making their way
between the trees.  Their leader, springing forward tomahawk in hand,
nearly reached Samson; when, with the agility of a far younger man, he
sprang through the opening, and I immediately closed the door--the sharp
blade of the weapon burying itself deep in the wood.

"Now, we'll give it them!" exclaimed Samson, as he and Sandy opened
three of the concealed loopholes, through which we thrust the barrels of
our rifles and fired on our assailants.  Their leader fell dead, shot
through the heart by Samson.  Two others were severely wounded, but
numbers were following them, and rushing forward with their hatchets,
dealt desperate blows on the door.

"You may cut away pretty hard, my laddies, before you break that in,"
observed Sandy, as he reloaded his rifle.  Samson and I were doing the
same, and again we fired; but most of the Indians, knowing the time we
should take to do that, sprang aside, and only one of them was hit.

"You will find two more rifles in yonder chest," said Samson to Reuben
and Mike.  "Quick! load them, and we'll astonish the Redskins."

While he was speaking, the blows on the door were redoubled, and in
spite of its strength it appeared every instant as if it would give way.
Samson was, in the meantime, ramming down his charge, and again his
rifle sent forth its deadly contents.  Instead of firing together, we
now followed each other, allowing a few seconds to elapse between each
shot, thus making our assailants afraid of approaching the door.  We
guessed that they were collected on either side, where our rifles could
not reach them.

In a couple of minutes or so Reuben and Mike had found the rifles, and
loaded them.

"Now!" said Samson, "you two and Roger fire together; and then Sandy and
I will take your places, and try what we can do."

We waited till the savages, losing patience, again attacked the door
with their axes, in a way which threatened each instant to bring it
down, when we all three ran out the muzzles of our rifles and fired.
Another savage was, at all events, hit; but they had been on the watch,
and had actively sprung, some on one side and some on the other, so that
we could not be certain what execution had been done.  The moment,
however, that our rifles were withdrawn, as many as could attack the
door leaped forward, and began hacking away with greater fury than
before.  Scarcely had the first strokes been given when Samson and Sandy
fired into their midst, killing two of the most determined--the bullets
passing through the bodies of the first and wounding others behind them.
Five rifles, however, were more than they were prepared to encounter.
They must have guessed that we had increased our number, for, with cries
of rage and disappointment, they deserted the door and got under
shelter.

"Hurrah! we have beaten them," I cried out, and was turning to Reuben to
shake hands, and to ask how he and Mike had escaped, when Samson
observed--

"We must not be too sure that they will not make another attempt, for
they are up to all sorts of tricks, and will not give in so easily."

"What are they likely to do?"  I asked.

"Try to burn us out," answered Samson.  "But we must be prepared, and
show them that five well-handled rifles can cope with all the arrows and
hatchets among them.  We do not lack ammunition, and might stand the
siege for a month or more."

Samson's surmises were correct.  Though we could not see the Indians, we
heard their voices, and the sound of chopping, and presently a bundle of
fagots was thrown down in front of the door.

"Stand ready," said Samson, "and fire, if we can catch sight of one of
them through the loopholes."

Another and another fagot followed, but as yet so carefully had they
been thrown that we could not get a shot.  It appeared to me that they
were dropped from above.  The pile was increasing, and soon rising
higher than the loopholes, prevented us from seeing any one.  Presently
we heard the sound of crackling, and the flames rapidly caught the pile.

"Close the loopholes," said Samson.  "We'll keep out the smoke as long
as we can.  The door is tough, too, and will stand the flames better
than our enemies suppose."

We all stood with our rifles in our hands, ready for any emergency.

"Should the door burn through and the cavern fill with flames, we must
rush out, lads, rather than be stifled; and we may be pretty sure of
knocking over four or five Redskins, if they stop to give us the
chance," said Samson, who had not for a moment lost his calm manner.
"It may be the smoke won't be more than we can bear.  See!  I am
prepared for everything."  He pointed to a mass of woodwork, which leant
against the wall of the cavern.  It was longer than the width of the
door, and of a height which would enable us to fire over it.  "This will
serve as a barricade," he said.  "When the Indians fancy that they are
going to get in without difficulty, they will find themselves stopped in
a way they little expect."

The crackling sound of the flames increased, and thin wreaths of smoke
found their way in through the crevices between the woodwork and the
rock; still the stout door resisted the fire, which we began to hope
might burn itself out without igniting our defences.  We could hear the
voices of the Indians outside.  They were, we guessed, piling up more
fagots, as the others had burned down.

Sandy put his hand to the door.  "It's getting very hot," he said.

"Well, then," exclaimed old Samson, "we must get our barricade ready,
should the door give way, and then crouch down behind it.  The nearer we
are to the ground, the less we shall suffer from the smoke."

We accordingly dragged the heavy piece of woodwork from the place where
it had been standing, to the position it was to occupy, where we laid it
flat on the ground.  It was at the proper moment to be lifted up, and
supported by stout pieces of timber, serving as props, on the inner
side.  It would thus shelter us, and prevent our enemies from entering.

The door took even longer than we had expected to burn through; but at
last, here and there, the forked flames were seen making their way
through it, and after this its complete destruction was rapid.  Down the
upper part came with a crash, followed by the shouts of the Indians, and
a shower of arrows--which, however, flew over our heads.  No further
attempts were made to increase the pile of fagots; our foes supposing
that their work was accomplished, and that, even were we not suffocated
by the smoke, we should speedily become their victims.  We knew that the
Indians were not likely to rush through the flames; we therefore waited
concealed on either side, behind the rock, till they had somewhat
subsided.

Old Samson listened eagerly for any sounds which might indicate that the
attack was about to be recommenced.

"Now, lads! up with the barricade!" he shouted out; and with one united
effort we lifted it from the ground, directly across the doorway.
Scarcely was it securely fixed before the Indians, who had not perceived
what we were about, leaped over the burning embers and came rushing on.
Our five rifles rang out together, and as many Redskins bit the dust.
The rest found themselves stopped by the barricade; and with the
crowbars which we had used to get it in position we struck furiously at
their heads, beating them back into the hot embers, where several of
them, stunned by our blows, were quickly suffocated, or burned to death.
The remainder, believing success hopeless, fled from the spot, and made
their way down the hill to where they had left their horses.  On this we
dashed out and followed them, picking off several more.  We should have
pursued them further, had not their numbers made it prudent for us to
remain under shelter of the wood.

On reaching their steeds they mounted and galloped off.  In their haste
to attack us, they had not taken the trouble to destroy the horses which
Sandy, Reuben, and Mike had ridden, and which were grazing at a little
distance.  Having caught them without much difficulty, we returned with
them to the cave.

"This will no longer be a secure hiding-place for us," observed Samson,
"for the Indians are sure ere long to come back and attempt to revenge
themselves.  They will watch day after day for weeks together, till they
see some of us go out in search of game; and they will then manage to
get between us and the cave, so as to cut us off.  I can pretty well
guess the sort of tricks they will try to play us; and it is not always
easy to circumvent them."

Samson's advice was not to be despised.  The Indians, however, were not
likely to come back that day, so that we might take some hours' rest
before preparing for our departure--our wish being to try and ascertain
the course followed by the emigrant-train, which we would then endeavour
to overtake.  This, as we had horses, we might hope to do in the course
of a week or ten days, even supposing that it had pushed forward without
any stoppages.

With such ammunition and provisions as we could carry, we started on our
journey just after the sun had gone down, as Samson thought it prudent
to get some distance ahead during the hours of darkness, so that, should
our enemies be on the look-out for us, we might escape unobserved.

Well-armed and well mounted as we were, we did not fear any ordinary
band, possessed only of bows and arrows, we were likely to encounter
while on the road.  Our chief danger would lie in being attacked while
encamped at night.  To guard as much as possible against surprise, we
chose a spot difficult of access, or one by the side of a broad stream,
with a few trees which might afford us shelter, without concealing the
approach of our foes; or else we threw up a breastwork of logs and
branches, behind which we could be protected from the arrows of our
assailants.  The old trapper and Sandy were adepts at making
arrangements of this kind, and were never at a loss.  Of course, one of
the party, or sometimes two, kept guard; our horses being hobbled near,
as we always chose localities where there was an abundance of grass.  We
could thus, in case of alarm, immediately bring them in under such
protection as we had formed for ourselves.  They, of course, ran a
greater risk of being shot than we did, but that could not be helped.

I had naturally been curious to know how Reuben and Mike had escaped
from the Indians.  Reuben told me that he had given himself up for lost
when he heard the chiefs discussing, as he supposed, what they should do
with us.  Each in succession made a long speech, becoming more vehement
as they proceeded.  He fully expected to be flayed alive, or roasted
over a slow fire, or shot to death with arrows aimed so as to avoid
vital parts.  He had not recognised Manilick, and was therefore not
aware that we had a friend in the council.  The warriors at last ceased
speaking, when he saw one approaching with uplifted tomahawk, which he
fully expected would be buried in his brain.  What was his surprise to
find, instead, the thongs which bound him severed, and to feel himself
at liberty!  He stood for a moment or two irresolute, not knowing what
to do.

"Run! my friend, run!" said the Indian; "make for the river, and you
will escape."

He was not slow to obey the command, but before doing so he looked
wistfully at Mike, whose bonds were also cut, as his had been, and by
the same friendly Indian.  Mike immediately started off with him, but
they had not got far when they met Sandy, who had been on the watch for
them; and all three slipping noiselessly into the stream, swam across
it.  On landing, Sandy led them on foot at a rapid pace to a rocky hill
some five or six miles away from the river.  Having proceeded along it,
the nature of the ground being such that even an Indian could not
discover their trail, Sandy led them to a cave very similar to the one
we had occupied.  Here, he assured them, they would run little risk of
being discovered.  Sandy supplied them with game, and finally succeeded
in getting possession of three horses, which he managed to carry off
from the Indians.  He did not call it "stealing" them, observing that
they had all doubtless been taken from white men.  On these they had
finally made their escape and joined us, though, as we had seen, hotly
pursued.

I asked Reuben if he liked the sort of life we were leading.

"I shall be very thankful to find myself safe in some settlement where
the war-whoops of the Indians are not likely to be heard," he answered.
"I used to like to hear about such adventures as we are going through,
but I confess that I consider them very unpleasant realities."

I was very much inclined to agree with Reuben.  One thing, however, was
certain--for the present we must make up our minds to go through
whatever came in our way.

Day after day we travelled on, encamping as I have previously described
at night, or sometimes pushing forward during the hours of darkness and
halting in the day-time.  By doing this we saved ourselves the labour of
forming defences, as we could in a moment mount and be in readiness to
encounter a foe.  We had, however, greatly exhausted our stock of
provisions, and it became necessary to look after game with which to
replenish our store.  This we had hitherto avoided doing, as when
hunting we should of necessity be separated, and if discovered by
enemies we might be cut off in detail.  We agreed, at last, that hunt we
must; for we had all been on a very slender allowance of food, and were
beginning to feel the pangs of hunger.  Our horses, too, from being
constantly on the move, now showed signs of fatigue.  We accordingly
halted earlier than usual one day, on the side of a tree-covered knoll,
from which we could obtain a good look-out over the surrounding country.
Here we resolved to remain for a couple of days, for, having seen no
signs of Indians, we hoped to be unmolested.  After putting up the
framework of a lean-to, to afford us shelter at night, we ate the
remainder of our provisions; and while Sandy took the horses down to a
stream which flowed below us, we lay down to rest, keeping our rifles by
our sides.

I had been dreaming of venison, and buffalo humps, and other prairie
luxuries, when I heard Reuben whisper--

"See!  Roger, see!  There's a magnificent deer within easy shot."

I instinctively rose to my knees, with my rifle in my hand, and levelled
it at the animal.  It was a fine elk, as I knew by the thick branchy
horns.  At the same moment old Samson sat up.  Reuben, knowing that he
was not so good a shot as I was, did not attempt to fire.  I felt
somewhat nervous lest I might miss, though old Samson was not likely to
let the deer escape even if I did so.  I pulled the trigger, however,
and the deer, giving one bound from the earth, fell over, shot through
the heart.  The sound awoke Mike, and we all rushed down to take
possession of our prize.  We very quickly cut it up, and shouldering the
better portions, carried them to our encampment.  Here we soon had a
fire blazing, and some rich steaks before it.

Though we had now obtained sufficient food to last us for some days, yet
we remained for the time we had determined on, in order to dry the
venison, so that we might cure it, and prevent its becoming unfit for
use.  We were fortunate in killing another deer almost in sight of our
camp; so, with renewed strength after our long rest, we again set out,
hoping before long to gain tidings of our friends, whom Samson still
persisted in believing were ahead of us.  I had my doubts on the
subject, but felt that I ought to yield to his better judgment.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

SAMSON'S ADVICE ABOUT BUFFALO-HUNTING--I SEE BUFFALO IN THE DISTANCE--
OVERTAKEN BY A TERRIFIC STORM--BENIGHTED ON THE PLAIN--HUNGER-STRICKEN,
I ALLOW MY HORSE TO TAKE HIS OWN WAY--I SWOON AWAY--THE SPANIARDS FIND
ME--PABLO, THE COOK--THE PRAIRIE ON FIRE--INDIANS APPROACHING, I DASH
THROUGH THE FLAMES--MY POOR HORSE IS FRIGHTFULLY SCORCHED--THE WOLVES IN
PURSUIT--I TAKE REFUGE IN A TREE--MY HORSE IS DEVOURED BY THE WOLVES--
THE WOLVES DEPART IN CHASE OF BUFFALO--I DESCEND, AND EAT THE LOATHSOME
WOLF-FLESH IN MY HUNGER--LIGHTING A FIRE, I CAMP FOR THE NIGHT--SHOOTING
A BEAVER.

In vain we searched for the trail of our friends.  We ought to have
caught them up by this time, even Samson acknowledged, unless they had
pushed on more rapidly than ox-trains generally travel.

Our provisions again ran short, and it was necessary to replenish our
larder.  Though we saw deer in the distance, they scented us, and we
could not get up to them; but we were in the region where buffalo might
be found, and we hoped to fall in with a herd.  I had gained experience,
when with the Indians, in hunting these creatures, and both Samson and
Sandy were well acquainted with their habits, but Reuben had never even
seen them.  Hunger, however, compelled us to follow a course on which we
should not otherwise have ventured.

Old Samson advised our inexperienced companion how to act.

"One thing remember, my boy--do not shoot any of us," he observed; "and
take care that the buffalo do not run their horns into you or your
horse.  The chances are that it is better acquainted with the habits of
the buffalo than you are, so let it have its own way.  It will generally
manage to carry you out of danger, if you give it the rein.  Don't fire
till you can aim at the animal's shoulder or chest; and the moment you
fire, load again.  Pour in the powder, and drop the ball after it; you
ought to be able to do so at full gallop.  If you fancy you can manage
this, you may try your hand, should you get near any buffalo; otherwise,
just keep out of their way.  If you manage to sight any, bring me word.
A single fat cow is all we want, but they are harder to get up to than
the bulls."

I saw that Reuben was not very confident of his skill.  He therefore
undertook to act as a scout, keeping an eye on Samson's movements.
Sandy and I agreed to ride to some distance: he was to go to the north,
I to the south; and we were afterwards to meet under a hill we saw in
the distance.  In case of the appearance of Indians, we were immediately
to try and reunite.

These arrangements being made, I galloped off in the direction proposed.
I had ridden for some time, when, on mounting a slight elevation, I saw
afar off a number of black dots sprinkling the plain, and knew that they
must be buffalo, though I was unable to determine in what direction they
were heading.  I therefore galloped on in order to ascertain this point,
as it was necessary to do so before returning to inform Samson of my
discovery.  On descending to the lower ground they were lost to view;
but I hoped, by moving forward, again to catch sight of them.  On I
galloped, without observing the sudden change which had taken place in
the weather, so eager was I to get up with the buffalo.

Not till I had gone much further than I had supposed necessary, did I
begin to suspect that, instead of feeding, as I had at first fancied,
they were going at full rate, and that I must push my horse at his
utmost speed to come up with them; still I did not like the idea of
allowing them to escape me, without ascertaining whereabouts they were
to be found.  I forgot at the moment that all I had to do was to come
upon their trail, and that we could then easily follow them up, however
far they might go.  On I went, however, looking out for some higher
ground, from which I might again catch sight of them and mark their
course.  Eager in the pursuit of the animals, I did not notice how time
went by, or how far I was going, and thought not of the danger to which
I should be exposed if I encountered hostile Indians, nor of the
difficulty I might experience in regaining my companions.

I believed that I was pushing due south, but it did not occur to me that
I was running any risk of losing myself.  Once again I caught sight of
the buffalo; but though I had gained on them, they were still a long way
off.  I knew, therefore, that they must be moving rapidly; but yet I
wished to get nearer to them, and if possible to kill one of the rear of
the herd, and return with the meat, in case my friends should have been
less successful.  Being also desperately hungry, I contemplated eating a
slice, even though I might not have time to cook it first.  I had, of
course, flint and steel, and should not have been long in lighting a
fire.

I was first made aware of the storm which had for some time been
brewing, by a bright flash of lightning which almost blinded me,
followed quickly by a rattling peal of thunder; making my horse give a
start, which, had I not had a firm hold of the saddle with my knees,
would have unseated me.  Another and still brighter flash was quickly
followed by a yet louder peal.  My horse stood still, trembling
violently, and afraid to move.  In a wonderfully short time the whole
sky was overcast with a dense mass of black clouds; and then, after a
succession of almost blinding flashes of lightning and terrific peals of
thunder, down came the rain in torrents, completely concealing from view
all objects at a distance.

Had I remained perfectly still, I might have ascertained the direction
in which I was going, but when I attempted to make my horse move on he
wheeled round and round, and the rain quickly obliterated the track I
had previously made.  I was thus utterly unable to determine what course
to pursue.  There was no wind, even, to guide me, and the rain came down
perpendicularly, so that I was in a few minutes wet to the skin.  I
thought that perhaps my horse's instinct would lead him back to his
equine associates; or, if he was an old buffalo-hunter, that he might
follow the trail of the herd we had been pursuing.

I was anxious to obtain both food and shelter.  If I could overtake the
buffalo, I might satisfy the cravings of hunger; but how to find
shelter, was a more difficult point to settle.  I therefore gave my
steed the rein, and for some time he went in what I supposed was a
straight course.  Again, however, the lightning burst forth, with even
more fearful flashes than before, while the thunder rattled like peals
of artillery fired close to my ears.  My steed again stood stock-still;
and when I attempted to urge him on, he, as before, wheeled round and
round.  Every moment I expected to be struck by the lightning, which,
coming down from the clouds in forked flashes, ran hissing over the
ground like fiery serpents.

I was aware, from the time I had been out, that evening must be
approaching, but, more suddenly than I had calculated on, darkness came
down upon me, and I found myself benighted on the open plain, without
the slightest means of guiding my course.  Still, I might perish if I
remained where I was, so I thought that the best thing I could do was to
move on, if I could get my horse to carry me.  The thunderstorm,
however, continued to rage with unabated fury, and while it lasted I
could not induce my steed to move.  I got off and tried to lead him, but
he plunged so much that I was afraid he would break away, so I therefore
mounted again.  He went on at first slowly, but suddenly, for what
reason I could not tell, he broke into a gallop, and with all my efforts
I was unable to check him.  The darkness, too, prevented me from seeing
the features of the country, and I was thus utterly unable to ascertain
in what direction I was going.

All night long he continued; sometimes stopping to regain breath, and
then going on again, in spite of the thunder and lightning.  The rain
had ceased, and the water gradually drained out of my clothes, but I
felt very damp and uncomfortable.

At last dawn broke, and the storm gradually died away, but not a gleam
of ruddy light indicated in what direction the sun was to be found.
Although not thirsty, I was suffering greatly from the pangs of hunger,
and felt myself growing weaker and weaker.  The appearance of the
country was strange, and I could not discern any object which could
enable me to determine what course my horse had taken.

Although I could not obtain food for myself, I got off, and loosening
the bridle, allowed my steed to crop the grass, in order that he might
recruit his strength; for my life would depend, I knew, on his being
able to carry me back to my companions, or to go in chase of game.
After he had fed for a couple of hours I again mounted and let him go
on, when he at once took the course he had before been pursuing.

I looked about on every side, in the hope of seeing some bird or animal
that I might shoot.  The smallest would have been welcome, but neither
large nor small appeared.  I was now becoming very faint; while my head
felt giddy and my eyes dim.  I endeavoured to rouse myself, but in vain.
Trying to stand up in my stirrups to look round, I fancied I saw before
me a wood.  Could I but reach it, I might shoot a bird or squirrel, or
some other of its inhabitants.

Another evening was approaching, as I calculated, when I neared the
wood.  I have a faint recollection of reaching it; then, utterly
exhausted, I felt myself slip from the saddle.  I disengaged my foot,
and was aware that I had reached the ground, on which I stretched
myself, trying to hold the rein in my hand.  The next instant I must
have swooned.  There I lay, utterly unable to help myself--my faithful
horse standing over me.

How long I had thus lain, I cannot say.  Certain it is that,
providentially, no wild beasts came near me, or I should have become an
easy prey.  When I returned to semi-consciousness, I found several
people standing round me, one of whom had poured some brandy down my
throat, while others were rubbing my feet and hands.  I again closed my
eyes, unable to make out who the strangers were.  They gave me, I
believe, more brandy, diluted with water, and then some broth, the
effect of which was that I speedily regained a little strength.

In half an hour I was able to sit up.  I then discovered that the
Samaritans who had relieved me were Spaniards, who, having encamped
under shelter of the wood, had, while in search of game for breakfast,
discovered me at early dawn.  When I was sufficiently recovered, they
moved me to their camp where they intended remaining for a day to dry
their clothes and packages, which had been saturated by the rain.  They
formed a large party, bound across the continent with goods for traffic;
for only a strong body of well-armed men could venture to travel, with
the certainty of meeting bands of hostile Indians, who would be
restrained from attacking so formidable a force through dread of their
rifles.

The day's rest, and the careful treatment I received from the Spaniards,
quickly restored my strength.  They had all been in the States, and
consequently many of them could speak English; but I had no wish to live
long amongst them, for, though kind to me, many of them were fierce,
desperate characters, long accustomed to savage warfare with the
Indians, and held life at a remarkably cheap rate.  The one who was
especially attentive to me was old Pablo,--who acted as cook,--and he
was constantly bringing me the most delicate messes he could concoct.

By the time they were ready to start I was well able to sit my horse.
The question now was, In what direction should I proceed?  They assured
me that, were I to attempt to make my way back to my friends, I should
certainly be cut off by the Indians, who were tracking their footsteps,
looking out for stragglers, and ready to pounce down upon them should
they be found unprepared.  They advised me to accompany them, and
afterwards to try and make my way northward with any party of white
trappers or hunters who might be going in that direction.

Pablo strongly urged me to take this course.  He had his reasons, he
said, for wishing to go to the northward, and would accompany me.
Though his appearance was not attractive,--for he looked more like an
old Jew pedlar than a son of the prairies, as he called himself,--I had
confidence in him.  I should have said that my new friends were
accompanied by a small party of Indians, who acted as guides.  To these
people Pablo had an especial aversion, the cause of which he did not
divulge to me; but I believe that his reason for wishing to quit the
party was to get away from the Indians.

The Spaniards remained a day longer than they intended; but we started
at dawn, and made considerable progress during the cooler hours of the
morning.  The sun then came out with withering heat, and the air
appeared to me to be unusually oppressive; while, notwithstanding the
rain, the grass rapidly became as dry as before.  A brown hue pervaded
the landscape.

We halted at night by the side of a stream, which, though very small,
afforded water for our horses.  By this time I felt quite myself again,
and capable for any exertion.

The next day, about noon, I observed the Indian chief, who acted as our
principal guide, standing up in his stirrups and looking anxiously
towards the south-west.  He exchanged some words with our white leader;
but still they advanced.

I now noticed a long thin line of what appeared like mist rising above
the horizon, but rapidly increasing in height and extending on either
hand.  The rest of the party also began to look anxious.  I remembered
the appearance of the prairie fire from which I had before so narrowly
escaped, and I now became convinced that we were about to encounter a
similar danger.

The clouds of smoke rose higher and higher, and extended further both
east and west.  Here and there, however, there were gaps, and our
leaders seemed to consider it possible that we might make our way
through them.  At all events, we continued to advance.

The Spaniards began to talk vehemently to each other, evidently not
liking the appearance of things.  The gaps, towards the broadest of
which we had been directing our course, now began to close up, and
presently a number of deer came scampering by, only turning slightly
aside to avoid us.  Whole herds followed--their instinct telling them it
was time to make their escape from that region.  Our leaders thought
likewise; so, turning our horses, we galloped back in the direction from
whence we had come.

The whole party had been riding in somewhat less compact order than
usual, and they now became widely scattered.  I was on the extreme
right, and ahead of most of them.  Pablo was near me.  I urged on my
steed to its utmost speed, for I knew how rapidly the fire would spread
over the tall, dry grass through which we had passed.  Before us was
what, in the winter season, would have been a marsh.  It was now mostly
solid, and here the grass grew even more luxuriantly than in other
places.  By keeping to the right, I avoided it.

In our rear I heard a thundering sound, intermixed with loud bellowing,
and glancing round for a moment I caught sight of a herd of buffalo,
which, mad with fright, were dashing on to escape the flames, the
crackling and hissing sound of which, I fancied, could now be heard.
Another glance showed me the horse of the chief plunging in the marsh,
and the frantic herd bearing down directly upon him and several of the
Spaniards, who, it seemed to me, must inevitably be overwhelmed; but I
had to take care of myself, though I would gladly have gone to their
assistance had I been able to do so.  Recollecting how Mike and I had
before escaped, I kept verging more and more to the right, where the
country was higher, and the grass would, I knew, though equally dry, be
much shorter.  The fire too, in that direction, seemed to be advancing
much more slowly than it was behind us.  I therefore shouted to Pablo to
follow me, but was uncertain whether he heard my voice.

I at length lost sight of my companions, but as I without difficulty
kept well ahead of the flames, I was satisfied that I had followed the
wisest course.

On looking round I saw a number of animals following me: straggling
buffalo, deer of several descriptions, wolves, and many smaller
quadrupeds.  It would not do, however, to stop for a moment; so I pushed
on as fast as my horse could go, and after galloping several miles I was
satisfied that I had gained considerably on the fire.

Looking to the right, it appeared to me that I might double on it, as it
seemed not to be extending in that direction.  I was therefore about to
change my course with that object, when I saw scampering along the plain
a band of Indians, who, I guessed, from the tall plumes on their heads,
their long spears, and general appearance, were on the war-path, and
would not hesitate to take the scalp of a white man for the sake of
adding to their trophies.  Were I to continue as I had been going, I
should ride almost into their midst.  Of one thing, however, I felt
sure--they would not willingly advance nearer the approaching fire.

They soon espied me, and several detached themselves from the main body
and galloped forward.  Should they come near me, my fate, I felt sure,
would be sealed.  I had not a moment to deliberate.  I would rather rush
through the flames than trust myself to their tender mercies; so,
turning my horse's head, I galloped back towards the advancing fire.
Directly in front of me was a spot where the flames reached to a much
less height than in other places, and the belt of fire seemed also much
narrower.  Unstrapping the blanket I carried on my saddle, with
desperate energy I tore off a broad strip and fastened it over my
horse's eyes.  The larger portion I threw over my own head, fastening
the ends round my body.

Before I had finished this operation I heard the wild whoops of the
Indians directly behind me.  Tightening the rein, I dug my heels into my
horse's flanks and urged him forward, steering him between the
numberless animals escaping from the fire.  My poor horse knew not where
he was going.  I waited till the smoke began to curl round my head, then
drawing the blanket over my face and chest, in total darkness I dashed
forward into the midst of the flames.  The heat was intense, and I felt
that my boots were scorching, but the blanket kept the smoke from my
mouth and nostrils, and I was able, though with difficulty, to breathe.
I could feel the flames round me, and hear their crackling sound, so my
only hope of safety depended on my horse keeping his legs.  Should he
fall, I must be destroyed.

He kept up wonderfully, and at length I knew that the worst was past.  I
threw the blanket from my head, for I had begun to fear that I should be
suffocated.  I was able to draw a free breath, though the air was full
of smoke.  I had passed safely through the fire, but my clothes were
scorched, and my poor steed was fearfully burnt.  The ground, too, over
which I was passing was still strewed with smouldering embers, which my
horse's hoofs threw up behind him at every step.

The fire went rolling on.  As I looked down my poor steed's neck and
shoulders, I saw that the hair had been completely singed off.  A plunge
in cold water, therefore, could alone restore him.  A dreadful thirst,
besides, had seized me.  I knew by the course the fire had taken, that
away to the eastward I should find a broad stream or marsh.  I therefore
rode towards it, and the instinct of my steed showed him that I was
proceeding to where he could obtain relief from his sufferings.

After galloping along for some distance, having to hold him up with all
the strength I could muster, I saw before me the bright water shining
between the scorched trees.  As I neared it, nothing could restrain the
suffering animal.  Springing down the bank, he plunged in, carrying me
with him.  I had not time to stop him; but after a minute I got him into
shallow water, and was able to leap off his back on to the shore.

Scarcely had I dismounted, when a chorus of howls saluted my ears; and
looking up, I saw a score or more of wolves, which had observed me as
they were following in the rear of the fire, according to their custom,
to feed on the carcasses of the animals which had fallen victims to the
flames.  Some had sprung into the water, and were swimming towards me;
others came along the bank.  I fired at the nearest and knocked him
over--the others I attacked with my gun barrel, keeping the cowardly
creatures at bay; but their sentinels, who remained on the upper part of
the bank, were all the time uttering the fearful howls they make to
summon their companions to attack a living animal, or to feed on the
carcass they have discovered.  I knew that in a few minutes I should be
surrounded by a whole army of the savage creatures, and though I might
keep a few at bay, I should be unable to resist the numbers which would
ere long surround me.

My horse seemed aware of his danger.  Driving back the wolves, I
reloaded my rifle, and then shouting and firing at the most daring,
while the howling pack retreated I mounted and dashed forward.  The
wolves sprang up round my horse's legs, trying to seize his neck, but I
beat them off; and, maddened with terror, he galloped on, sending those
his heels reached right and left.  Scorched and suffering from the
flames though he was, he strained every muscle to keep ahead of the
yelping pack, and soon completely distanced them; still, their horrid
yelps told me that they were continuing the pursuit.  As I looked over
my shoulder I could see a long line of fresh animals joining from all
sides.

On and on we went, till we left behind the region blackened by the fire,
and I saw before me a wood which the flames had not reached.  I made for
it, hoping that the wolves would not follow; or, if they did, then I
might climb a tree, and defend my horse with my rifle as I sat amid the
branches.

I reached the wood, and discovered on the very borders just such a tree
as I desired.  The poor animal was trembling all over, and looked in a
wretched plight.  My first aim was to make a fire, through which I knew
that the wolves would not venture to pass.  While engaged in collecting
fuel, their yelps again sounded in my ears, and before I could produce a
flame I saw them coming on.  My only chance now was to mount the tree.
Springing on to my horse, I climbed from his back into the fork of the
tree, where I was out of the reach of my foes.  This was the last
service my faithful horse rendered me.

On looking towards the wolves, I perceived, to my dismay, that there
were several large white ones among them, the most savage of their
tribe.  I now knew that I must abandon all hope of saving my horse.  I
fired at the nearest white wolf and knocked the creature over, but this
did not avail my poor steed, for in an instant he was surrounded and
pulled to the ground, where the dreadful brutes quickly destroyed him.
I loaded and fired, in revenge, as fast as I could; and though at each
shot I killed a wolf, it appeared in no way to diminish their numbers,
while the living lost no time in devouring their dead companions.
Directly I killed a white wolf, the yelling brutes set upon him and tore
him to pieces.

Strange as it may seem, I felt an extraordinary pleasure in thus
destroying the most savage animals of those wilds; but fortunately I
remembered in time that if I continued my sport I might exhaust my
ammunition.  I therefore only fired when I was certain of bringing down
one of the larger animals.

Darkness was coming on, but still the wolves showed no inclination to
take their departure.  As far as I could tell, they might starve me to
death.  Not a particle of my horse was by this time left, for they had
torn even the saddle and bridle to threads, and, excepting the wood and
ironwork, had devoured the whole.

Matters were becoming serious, for I was already desperately hungry.
Could I have discovered even a small bird or any creature in the tree, I
might have satisfied the gnawings of my stomach, and held out longer.

At length, when I was beginning to despair of relief, my ear caught the
same yelping, yelling sound which had warned me of the approach of the
wolves when I was in the river.  On looking out, I saw a couple of
buffalo bulls galloping across the prairie, with a pack of wolves on
their trail.  The animals still surrounding the tree also heard the
sounds.  They looked up wistfully at me, making a few desperate efforts
to reach the branch on which I was seated; but finding that all their
attempts were vain, first one started off in the direction the other
pack had taken, then another and another went away.  In a few minutes
only three hungry animals remained, gnawing at the bones of the white
wolves and some of their own nearer relatives whom I had shot.  These I
did not fear to encounter.  Killing one from where I sat, and then
reloading, I jumped down from my perch.  The brutes snarled, and one of
them made a spring at me; but I shot him, and knocked the other over
with the butt of my rifle, thereby saving a charge of powder and lead.

Hunger induced me to cut a slice out of one of the wolves, although it
was with no pleasant feelings that I did so.  For some minutes I gnawed
away at the unsavoury morsel, till nausea compelled me to stop.  I then
set to work to collect sticks and branches, the waning daylight scarcely
affording me sufficient time to pick up as many as I required.  With
those I could obtain I lighted a fire, spreading it in a circle; then,
satisfied that it would burn brightly for a couple of hours, and that no
wolves would venture to break through it, I lay down to obtain the rest
I so much needed.

When I awoke, a circle of hot embers alone remained.  As I had a small
supply of wood yet unconsumed, I began to throw on stick after stick, to
keep up the fire as long as possible, when I again heard that horrid
yelping close to me, and through the darkness I could see the glaring
eyeballs of numberless wolves gathering round.  They dared not, however,
pass the fiery boundary, and I knew that I was safe as long as I could
keep up even a slight blaze; still, my stock of wood was growing less
and less, and should a black gap appear in the circle, some of the most
savage might break through.

Having exhausted the last twig, I saw that I must do something to rid
myself of my foes.  Seizing a burning branch, the end of which remained
unconsumed, I waved it round and round in the faces of the wolves,
shouting at the same time at the top of my voice.  It had the effect I
wished; for, a panic seizing them, away they all scampered, leaving me
once more alone.  I lost no time in springing over the fire and
collecting a sufficient quantity of wood to enable me to keep it blazing
till the morning.

The wolves did not return; and at dawn, having cut some more slices from
one of the wolves which I had drawn inside the circle, I set off, with
my face to the northward, hoping almost against hope that I might fall
in with some of my late companions, or that I might find the means of
supporting existence till I could strike the trail of old Samson and my
other friends,--or the emigrant-train, should they have got so far
south.  Happily I saw no more of the wolves, and by keeping along the
bank of the river, which here ran north and south, I avoided the
district ravaged by the fire.  Through not falling in with any of the
Spaniards, I began to fear that they must have perished.

The first day I fortunately shot a beaver; and having cooked it, I made
a hearty meal--stowing away the rest in my wallet.  That night I slept
up among the branches of a tree, which were so placed that I had no fear
of falling down; and next morning, greatly refreshed, I pushed forward
on my solitary journey.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

I FIND POOR PABLO, AND ASSIST HIM--ROASTED SQUIRREL--PABLO'S REASON FOR
DESIRING TO JOIN THE ENGLISH--WE STALK A BUFFALO--PABLO'S TERROR AT THE
APPROACH OF INDIANS--MY SURPRISE AT BEING WELCOMED BY MANILICK--MIKE'S
JOY AT SEEING ME ALIVE--WE AGAIN START IN THE DIRECTION OF THE
WAGGON-TRAIN--OLD SAMSON, REUBEN, AND SANDY NEARLY ROASTED ALIVE BY THE
APACHES--QUAMBO'S CARE OF "DE FIDDLE"--LILY'S RELATIONSHIP TO OLD
SAMSON--KEPENAU AND MANILICK--CONCLUSION.

I had been trudging on for some hours, directing my course by the sun,
which shone brightly from an unclouded sky, when, feeling weary, I sat
down to rest under the shade of a tree not far from the river's brink.
Scarcely had I stretched out my legs, when I heard a voice, in a tone of
suffering, calling to me; and going in the direction from whence it
proceeded, what was my surprise to see, among the branches of a tree, my
late companion Pablo!

"Misericordia, Senor Roger!" he cried out.  "I am starving, and too weak
to get down of myself."

I climbed up and gave him some of the beaver-flesh, which soon revived
him.  He told me how he had been frightened up the tree by the wolves,
and that, having lost his gun and his flint, he had no means of
defending himself, or of lighting a fire, and should certainly have
perished had I not come to his aid.  Having assisted him down, I led him
towards the river, where he quenched his thirst.

We made but little progress that day, for Pablo was ill able to walk;
so, having reached a spot where we could obtain sufficient bark and wood
to build a hut and keep up a blazing fire all night, we encamped.
Leaving Pablo to finish the hut, I set off in search of game.  I brought
down two black squirrels; and I afterwards came upon several bushes of
berries, which would add a variety to our meal.

On my return to the camp, I found that Pablo had finished all the
arrangements, and we soon had one of the squirrels roasting before the
fire.

Pablo opened his heart to me.  I had been the means, he said, of saving
his life, and he should ever be grateful.  The reason, he told me, of
his being so anxious to join the English, was, that he had met with a
missionary--who proved to be no other than our friend Martin Godfrey--
and that his object, therefore, was to live with those who held the same
opinions, for he was sure that they were the right ones.  He cared
nothing for all the fatigue and danger he might have to go through,
provided that he gained his wishes at last.

We travelled on for several days, sometimes having to encamp in the open
prairie, where we were more especially exposed to the risk of being
attacked by wolves, or run over by a stampede of buffalo--though we did
not trouble our heads much on that score.  Our chief risk lay in
encountering any bands of hostile Indians who might be traversing the
open prairie, as it would be scarcely possible to conceal ourselves from
them.  I could only hope that, in the event of our being seen, they
would not attack two wayworn travellers who could not injure them.
Pablo, however, observed that there were some tribes who would murder us
for the sake of our scalps, so as to be able to boast that they had
killed two enemies in battle.  He had no affection for the Indians, and
was inclined to doubt whether they possessed any good qualities.

How we should have got across the wide extent of prairie we traversed I
know not, had we not been able to stalk a buffalo, by getting well to
leeward of it, whereupon I brought it down with my rifle.  Its stomach
was full of water, with which we quenched our thirst; and the flesh
afforded us food for many days--partly eaten fresh, and partly dried in
the sun, and turned into a coarse description of pemmican.  We were
hoping soon to strike another river, where we could obtain water.  This
kept up our spirits; and we certainly needed something to do that, for
we were growing weary of our long tramp across the open country.  As may
be supposed, too, we kept our eyes about us as we walked along; for
should we espy any suspicious horsemen, our best chance of escaping, we
agreed, would be to fall flat on the ground, where we might be hidden by
the grass.

The sun was already verging towards the west, when Pablo, who happened
at the moment to be looking eastward, exclaimed, "Here come Indians!
here come Indians!  Down--down!"

We both dropped to the ground, hoping that we had not been seen, and
that they would pass by on one side or the other.  I could catch sight,
as I lay, of their feather, metal, and shell ornaments glittering in the
sun, and of their spear-heads with long tufts waving in the wind.  They
were pushing rapidly across the prairie; but at the distance they still
were from us I could not distinguish the tribe or nation to which they
belonged.  They might be Apaches or Comanches, deadly foes; or a tribe
keeping up a friendly intercourse with the white men.

At first I was doubtful in what direction they were going, but I was
soon convinced that they were riding directly towards the spot where we
lay, and that our chance of escape from their eagle-eyes was small
indeed.  I observed their leader at length stand up in his stirrups and
gaze around.  From this I felt nearly sure that we had been seen, and
that he was looking for us.

"We are sure to be discovered," I whispered to Pablo.  "Our wisest mode
of proceeding will be to stand up and face them boldly.  It will be
better to die on our feet, than to be speared like skulking foxes."

"Do as you think best," answered Pablo.

I immediately rose, and, with outstretched hand, advanced towards the
Indians.  Their leader galloped forward, then, greatly to my surprise,
threw himself from his horse as he got up to me, and putting out his own
hand, took mine.

"I have been searching for you!  Don't you know me?" he exclaimed.

As he spoke I recognised Manilick, the young chief, Ashatea's lover.

"I happily met the friend of my tribe, Samson Micklan, who, with his
companions, are anxious about you," he continued.  "Confident of your
courage and hardihood, they would not believe that you were lost; and
they urged me to make a circuit to the south, in the possibility of
coming on your trail.  Glad I am to have fallen in with you, for I had
almost given you up as lost.  Right heartily will our aged friend
rejoice that you have been found."

I thanked Manilick warmly for the interest he had taken in me, and
inquired whether the waggons had turned back or continued their course
westward, and whether they had been overtaken.  He replied that Samson
had discovered their trail, but, in his search for me, he had lost so
much time, that he had not yet been able to come up with them.

As the party had several spare horses, Pablo and I were at once provided
with steeds.  We then pushed on at a quick rate, Manilick observing that
he wished to reach the camp of a friend the following day.

I inquired who the friend was.

"Kepenau," he answered.  "He has, with his whole tribe, moved westward,
under my protection.  He has buried the hatchet with all mankind, and
has induced me to follow his example, provided we are not attacked; for
should we be, even he allows that it is both lawful and right to defend
ourselves.  The good preacher, Martin Godfrey, has accompanied him, for
the purpose of instructing his people and mine; and he afterwards
intends to visit the Palefaces settled in other parts of the country."

"And has his daughter accompanied him?"  I asked, looking at the young
chief.

"Yes," he answered, with a smile; "and she is shortly to become my wife,
as she is satisfied that I am now a believer in the same faith she has
long held.  I bless the day, too, when she won me over, though I had not
before supposed it possible that I could abandon the religion of my
forefathers."

I told Manilick how glad I was to hear this, and wished him every
happiness.

We encamped that night in a wood near a stream, which we reached just
before dark.  The same precautions were taken against surprise which our
small band had considered necessary; for, Manilick told me, should the
Apaches discover his trail, they would be certain to attack him.

"However," he observed, "we have hitherto been preserved by the Great
Spirit, and we have no fear of the result of a fight."

"Then you cannot be said altogether to have buried the hatchet," I
observed.

"We have resolved to attack no one, and the sin will lie with those who
attack us," he answered; "while it is possible, we will avoid a quarrel,
and proceed peaceably on our way."

As Manilick's party was numerous and well-armed, they were calculated to
inspire respect; and if any foes did approach the camp, they probably
thought it prudent to retire to a distance.

The next morning we continued our march, and towards evening came in
sight of a thick wood.  I saw that Manilick's eagerness increased as we
rode on.  We were still at some little distance from the wood, when I
observed a man with a gun in his hand issuing from under the shelter of
the trees.  He looked towards us, apparently suspicious as to who we
were.  I had no doubt, from his appearance, that he was a Paleface; and
as we got still nearer to him, to my infinite satisfaction I recognised
Mike Laffan.  He knew me almost at the same moment, and throwing up his
cap, and giving vent to an Irish shout of joy, he ran forward.

"Sure! is it you, Masther Roger dear, alive and well?" he exclaimed.
"It brings back joy to me heart, for it was mighty throubled at the
thoughts that you were lost intirely."

I jumped from my horse to receive the greetings of the honest fellow.
He had, I found, overcome with the poignancy of his feelings at the
thought of my death, been knocked up, and had remained with Kepenau,
whose camp he told me was concealed within the wood.  He led the way
round to a narrow opening, where Manilick dismounted.  Proceeding
through it, we soon reached an open spot on which Kepenau had pitched
his tents.  He himself was the first person who advanced to greet us.
Behind him stood Ashatea, a lovely specimen of an Indian girl, her
countenance beaming with that intelligence which education could alone
have given her.  Though she met Manilick with a bashful reserve, I had
little doubt that she had at length bestowed on him the heart he sought.
Still I recollected honest Reuben's admiration.  Yet I was very glad
that it was so; for, charming as he might deem her, she was still a
child of the desert,--and one of our fair countrywomen would, I was very
sure, make him a far more useful and companionable wife than Ashatea
would prove.

Kepenau told me that he intended to pitch his tents in the neighbourhood
of the proposed settlement--remarking that he should now have no fear of
his people being seduced by the terrible "fire water"--and that he hoped
to change his skin-tents into substantial dwellings like those of the
Palefaces, and to cultivate the ground instead of depending on the chase
for subsistence.  In the meantime, however, he and his people must hunt
the buffalo and deer to obtain support for themselves and their
families; and he was only awaiting the arrival of Manilick and his tribe
to set out with that object, as provisions were already running short in
the camp.  Though I had borne the journey, I felt too much exhausted and
weak to accompany him; and as both Mike and Pablo were much in the same
condition, they insisted on taking care of me and themselves without
troubling the Indians, who had plenty to do in guarding the camp and
looking after the horses.

Mike and Pablo soon became great friends; and though I had no real
authority over either of them, they took a pleasure in serving me.

"Sit still and be aisy for once in your life, Masther Roger," said Mike,
as he brought a bundle of sticks and piled them up on the fire he had
lit.  "Sure, Pablo and I can do all the work, without you throubling
yourself.  There's Misthress Ashatea and the young chief billing and
cooing at her tent-door like two turtle-doves; and if they were to see
you moving about, maybe they'd think it necessary, out of courtesy, to
come and help you--and it would be a pity to disturb them."

Mike's arguments prevailed, and for once in my life, as he advised, I
did sit quiet,--and very glad I was to do so,--while I watched the
Indians through the trees making preparations for their departure.

The young chief, after a short rest, started off with some of his best
hunters in search of a herd of buffalo which had been seen in the
neighbourhood; and before the end of the next day they returned with an
ample supply of meat.  After remaining a couple of days to dry what was
not required for immediate consumption, the camp was broken up, and we
proceeded in the direction it was said the waggon-train had taken.  We
were, however, not able to travel very much faster than the steady-going
oxen, and we therefore had little hope of overtaking it before it had
reached its destination.

As trails were discovered which were pronounced to be those of Apaches,
I felt some anxiety lest old Samson and his companions might have been
attacked and overpowered.

"He is too well acquainted with their ways to be caught," observed
Kepenau.

I remembered, however, the eagerness the old man had shown to overtake
the train, in order that he might ascertain whether Lily was, as he had
hoped, his grand-daughter; and he might thus push forward, when his
usual prudence would have induced him to remain concealed, or to have
retreated from his foes.

We advanced like an army in an enemy's country--with scouts ranging on
either side, so that there was no probability of our being taken by
surprise; while our main body was too numerous to have invited an
attack.

We had made good progress for several days, when the sound of
rifle-shots reached our ears through the still air of a warm summer
noon.  Directly afterwards the scouts came in with the intelligence that
a large number of Indians were collected in the neighbourhood of what
looked like a log-hut, on the bank of a stream in the plain below us.
We were, at the time, approaching the edge of a plateau over which we
had been travelling.  In the far distance rose some blue hills, spurs of
a still more lofty range of mountains.  It was at the foot of these
hills that the new settlement was, I understood, to be formed.

While our main body advanced slowly for the sake of the women and
children, Manilick, with a chosen band of warriors, rode rapidly
forward.  He at once expressed his opinion that a small party of white
men had taken refuge in the hut, to defend themselves against the
Apaches, and that it was our duty to hasten to their relief.  We waited
among the trees on the upper portion of the slope, to give time to our
main body to appear just before we should reach the enemy--who, finding
themselves menaced by superior numbers, would in all probability take to
flight.  At the proper moment Manilick shouted "Forward!" and we rapidly
descended the hill.

We did not arrive a moment too soon, for the fire of the little garrison
had begun to slacken, and the besiegers were preparing to scale the
walls.  On seeing us approach, and observing the large number of armed
men who at that moment reached the edge of the height, they took to
flight, and endeavoured to make their escape to the southward.  We
gained a bloodless victory, for Manilick would not allow them to be
pursued.

No sooner had the enemy retreated than the door of the hut was thrown
open, and old Samson, followed by Reuben and Sandy, rushed out, while
the hut burst into flames--the savages having just before set fire to it
in several places.

"You have come just in time to save us from roasting!" exclaimed the old
trapper, recognising Manilick, but not seeing me.  "We caught sight of
the Apaches bearing down upon us, and had just time to take shelter in
the hut and barricade the doors and windows, before they readied it.
They carried off our good steeds, but we have secured our packs and
arms."

At length catching sight of me as I rode out from among the men, he
expressed his satisfaction with a vehemence I had never before seen him
exhibit--almost bursting into tears as he shook my hand.

"I should have grieved if you had been lost, Roger, and I had had to
announce the sad tidings to my young grand-daughter; for that your Lily
is my grand-daughter, I feel as sure as I do of my own existence.  I
have dreamed about her every night since you told me her history, and
something tells me I must be her grandfather.  Nothing must now stop us.
Our friend Manilick will supply us with horses, and we shall reach the
settlement before nightfall.  They are all safe there long ago, for I
came upon their trail; and they were strong enough to beat off any of
the Redskins who may have attempted to interfere with them."

Notwithstanding Samson's eagerness, we had to wait till the main body
came up, when, horses having been supplied to my three friends, they,
with Mike and I, and six of Manilick's tribe, set forward at a rapid
rate in the direction of the new settlement.

The sun had not yet set when we saw before us, on the banks of a clear
stream backed by a wood, some white tents, and the canvas covers of a
number of waggons.  My heart began to beat with the anticipation of once
more meeting Lily, my uncles and aunt, and other friends.  As we
approached the bank we were observed by the inhabitants, who at once
assembled, rushing from all quarters with arms in their hands.  On our
drawing still nearer, however, they recognised us, and coming down to
the water, pushed off on a large raft, which they propelled with long
poles to the side on which we stood.

The first to spring on shore was Uncle Mark.  He received Reuben, Mike,
and me as people risen from the dead.  Quambo followed closely, and,
taking me in his arms, gave me a hug, in his joy, which almost squeezed
the breath out of my body.  Mike came in for the same sort of greeting.

"Och, sure! do you take me for a baby?" exclaimed Mike--"though you
would have squeezed the life out of me if I had been one.  But I am
moighty plased to see you; and, bedad, we'll be footing it away to the
sound of me fiddle, I am hoping, before many hours are over.  You have
got it all safe?"

"Yes.  I keep de fiddle all right, and let no one play on it--not even
myself," observed Quambo.

"True for you, Quambo," said Mike, laughing; "for the best of raisons--
there's no one else but meself could make the music come out of it."

Our Indian escort having set off to return to the camp, according to
orders, we crossed the river to the opposite bank, where our relatives
had collected to receive us.

Lily looked somewhat pale.  Though she had not abandoned all hope, she
had been fearfully anxious about me; and she made me promise not to go
wandering again over the wilds, if I could help it.  Mr and Mrs
Claxton and Dora had been equally anxious about Reuben, and were
proportionably thankful to get him back safe.

Old Samson stood gazing at Lily while I was talking to her.  He then
hastened up to Aunt Hannah.

"You have been a mother to that sweet child, and I will bless you for it
as long as there is breath in my old body," he said.  "But I want to
take her from you.  She is mine by right, for I am, I believe, her only
living relative.  You have got the proofs; and if you do not wish to try
the feelings of an old man, which he thought were long ago dead and
gone, show me the things you have taken care of since she was committed
to your charge."

Aunt Hannah looked very much surprised at first; but the truth quickly
dawned on her.

"You shall see them, Mr Micklan, for they are safe in my box in the
waggon; and if you recognise them, as you expect to do, Lily shall call
you `Grandfather;' but as to giving her up--No, no! you will not expect
that of us.  For sixteen years she has been our child, and we have loved
her, and love her still, as if she were our own.  You would not be so
hard-hearted, even if you have the right, as to deprive us of her!"

"Well, well--I cannot gainsay you; but only let me know that I have got
some one to love, and I will give up my wandering life and come and
settle down among you."

Lily and I accompanied Uncle Stephen and Aunt Hannah, with the old
hunter, to the waggon, where the baby-dress and the ornaments she had
worn were soon produced.

Samson gazed at them, without speaking, for some seconds.  Then he
exclaimed, "Yes, yes! there is no doubt about it.--Come, Lily, do not be
afraid of your old grandfather.  I will not run away with you; but just
let me love you, and watch over you, and take care of you, and I shall
be content, and end my days more happily than I had ever hoped to do."

Lily came forward and put her hand into that of the old man, who,
stooping down, kissed her fair brow, and pressed her to his heart.

After this a change seemed to come over Samson Micklan.  He was no
longer the rough old trapper he had hitherto appeared--though he worked
as hard as any one in the camp, and took especial delight in assisting
to build the house Lily was to occupy.

Every one, as may be supposed, was busy from sunrise to sunset, and a
village soon sprang up in that hitherto desert spot.  Our Indian friends
rendered us important assistance, by supplying us with the meat they
obtained in their hunting expeditions, as also by acting as our
guardians; for they were constantly on the watch, and no foes would
venture to attack us while supported by such formidable allies.  The
settlement flourished and rapidly increased, for we were soon joined by
other parties from the eastward; and even my uncles acknowledged that
they had no desire to make another move--greatly to Aunt Hannah's
satisfaction.

Lily, in course of time, became my wife; and Mr Micklan, loved and
respected by the whole of the community, lived to hear the prattle of
his great-grandchildren.

Our friends Reuben and Dora both married happily, and we, who were once
hardy backwoodsmen, became quiet and contented citizens.  I own that
though the life we had led possessed its attractions, our present
condition was on many accounts preferable.

Mike and Quambo purchased a lot between them at a short distance from
the settlement, and became prosperous farmers; but they remained
bachelors to the end of their days--Mike declaring that the sound of his
fiddle was more satisfactory to his ears than the scolding of a wife or
the squalling of children.  Albeit, he never failed to bring it on his
frequent visits, to the infinite delight of my youngsters, who
invariably began to dance and snap their fingers when they caught sight
of him and his sturdy nag approaching our door.

Kepenau and Manilick, having become civilised themselves, laboured
incessantly in the civilisation of their people--aided by our revered
friend, Martin Godfrey, who eventually settled down among them.

We were not altogether without some trials and troubles, but we had also
much to make us happy; and I can honestly say that we had good reason to
be thankful--though we could never be sufficiently so--to that Merciful
Being who had preserved us amid the many dangers we had passed through
during the period I have described.





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