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Title: Burl
Author: Heady, Morrison, 1829-1915
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 "Burl" ***

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



by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)



BURL.

BY MORRISON HEADY.

NASHVILLE, TENN.:

SOUTHERN METHODIST PUBLISHING HOUSE.

1886.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1884,

BY THE BOOK AGENTS OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTH,

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.



PREFACE.


Some one has said that inasmuch as the Preface to a book is the last
thing that is written, it ought to be the last that is read. I suppose
that some readers prefer to omit the Preface until they have read the
book, for many writers, Lord Lytton among the number, really destroy the
illusion of a work of fiction by specifying the conditions under which
it was written. A certain amount of faith in the reality of the things
recorded is, to many minds, essential to true enjoyment of the story.

However the case may be, I prefer that the reader of this volume should
read these lines of mine before he proceeds farther. The author of this
little book is both _blind_ and _deaf_! For many years he has been
absolutely blind. He has utterly lost the sense of hearing also; and
whilst he speaks with singular clearness, and with some modulation of
voice, he can receive no communication from his fellow-creatures except
through an alphabet which he carries upon his hand! Every word must be
spelled letter by letter.

Thus deprived of two of his senses, it is a marvel that he is able to
write at all. That he has written a book of more than ordinary interest
I am sure the reader will decide when he has read it. There are passages
of true poetry scattered here and there, and some descriptive scenes
that will not suffer by comparison with those of the best of living
authors. Under other circumstances, I would exercise my editorial
prerogative, and change the form of some of his expressions; but the
style of Mr. Heady is peculiar: it is his own, and the merit of
originality should not be denied to him, even in those rare instances in
which he breaks away from the trammels of recognized laws of language.

I am sure that the knowledge of the infirmities under which this author
writes will secure to him a lenient spirit of criticism, whilst it
inspires admiration in view of the great excellence of his work. Not a
line, not a word of complaint against the Providence that has afflicted
him--not the slightest allusion to his personal disabilities--will be
found anywhere in this volume. The spirit of the writer is cheerful, to
the verge of gayety itself. He has a keen sense of the ridiculous, and
exhibits a quiet humor which is couched in quaint and striking phrases.

How thankful ought we to be, to whom the gracious God has given the use
of all our senses! Should we not stand reproved in the presence of this
blind and deaf man, who uses for the benefit of others the means that he
possesses, whilst we, enjoying all of God's bounties, have made so
little use of them? This work is a sermon to the despondent, complaining
spirit, and a word of vigorous exhortation to the slothful man. May this
_moral_ of the book leave its record for good in the heart of every
reader!

W.P. HARRISON,

Book Editor, M.E. Church, South.

NASHVILLE, Dec., 1883.



INTRODUCTION.


Nearly twenty years had now elapsed since Daniel Boone had spent that
memorable twelve-month all alone in the depths of the boundless
wilderness; yet was Kentucky still the Hunter's Paradise, or the land of
the Dark and Bloody Ground, just as the wild adventurer or peaceful
laborer might happen to view it. In the more central regions, it is
true, a number of thriving settlements had already sprung up, and by
this time--1789, or thereabout--were quite too populous and strong to
apprehend any further serious molestation from their Indian neighbors.
But between these points and the Ohio River lay a wide border of
debatable land, where the restless savages still kept up their hostile
demonstrations, which, though less bloody and wasting than at an earlier
period, were yet sufficiently frequent and harassing to keep the white
settlers in perpetual disquietude and fear.

Sometimes different settlements would unite their forces into strong
parties of from fifty to two hundred riflemen, when a dash would be made
across the river and the war carried for a week or two into the enemy's
country. But as the Indians, with their characteristic wariness, had
usually timely notice of the approaching danger, and would abandon their
villages for the more secure shelter of the forest, the white invaders
could do little more in the way of vengeance and intimidation than burn
the deserted towns and level the corn-fields to the ground. A brief
interval of quiet would sometimes follow these raids; but it happened
not unfrequently that the pioneers would hardly be back to their several
stations, disbanded, and fairly at their labors in the field, when there
again was the Indian war-whoop ringing along the periled border as
melodiously as ever, and the pillaging, murdering, scalping, and
burning going on in the good old orthodox fashion the pesky red ravagers
loved so well.

What greatly aggravated this distressing state of things, Kentucky was
still but a district of Virginia, hence powerless to use to the full
extent the means of self-defense which otherwise had lain within her
reach; while the seat of government was so remote from the scenes of
disorder that the mother State could succor her infant settlements
scarcely more than had they lain on the other side of the Rocky
Mountains, instead of the Alleghenies. Thus trammeled, Kentucky could do
little more than, like a tethered bison, butt at the dangers which year
in and year out beset her on every side. To be sure, conventions
composed of her best men, and having for their object her erection into
a separate State of the Union, had been for the last three years, and
for the next three years continued to be, as frequent as
camp-meetings--quite as demonstrative too, and noisy, and quite as much
to the purpose, so far as concerned the object in view. Why, does not
beseem us here to inquire. Finally, just as the danger was over and
gone, and the last hand of hostile Indians that ever raised the
war-whoop in the land of the "Dark and Bloody Ground" had been driven
across the Ohio, Kentucky was untrammeled, and suffered to rear her
bleeding front among the mighty sisterhood of States--an independent,
sovereign part of the independent, sovereign whole, as the phrase should
go, until the great rebellion should call for new constructions and
clear definitions. Thenceforth for twenty years the fiery lines of war
receded fitfully northward, till stayed at the Battle of the Thames,
quenched in the life-blood of the heroic, the high-minded, the hapless
Tecumseh.



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.                                                     PAGE
How Big Black Burl Figured in the Paradise                       9

CHAPTER II.
How Little Bushie Figured in the Paradise                       17

CHAPTER III.
How Big Black Burl and Bushie Figured in Each Other's Eyes      26

CHAPTER IV.
How Somebody was Lost in the Paradise                           39

CHAPTER V.
How Grumbo Figured in the Paradise                              46

CHAPTER VI.
How Big Black Burl Figured on the War-path by Day               52

CHAPTER VII.
How Big Black Burl Figured on the War-path by Night             60

CHAPTER VIII.
How Big Black Burl Figured in a Quandary                        67

CHAPTER IX.
How Big Black Burl Figured in Ambush                            73

CHAPTER X.
How Big Black Burl Figured in the Fight                         81

CHAPTER XI.
How Little Bushie Figured in the Fight                          90

CHAPTER XII.
How Big Black Burl and Grumbo Figured After the Fight           99

CHAPTER XIII.
How Big Black Burl Figured in his Triumph                      109

CHAPTER XIV.
How Big Black Burl Figured in Oratory                          117

CHAPTER XV.
How Big Black Burl Sewed it Up in his War-cap                  127

CHAPTER XVI.
How Big Black Burl Figured on the Peace-path                   136

CHAPTER XVII.
How the Glory of his Race Figured in his Rising                147

CHAPTER XVIII.
How the Eagle and the Lion and the Big Bear Figured in the
Great North-west                                               154

CHAPTER XIX.
How Big Black Burl Figured at the Death-stake                  164

CHAPTER XX.
How Kumshakah Figured in The Light of the Setting Sun          174

CHAPTER XXI.
How the Glory of his Race Figured in his Setting               180



BURL.



Chapter I.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL FIGURED IN THE PARADISE.


Six feet six he stood in his moccasins, yet seemed not tall, so broad he
was and ponderously thick. He had an elephantine leg, with a foot like a
black-oak wedge; a chimpanzean arm, with a fist like a black-oak maul;
eyes as large and placid as those of an ox; teeth as large and even as
those of a horse; skin that was not skin, but ebony; a nose that was not
a nose, but gristle; hair that was not hair, but wool; and a grin that
was not a grin, but ivory sunshine. Such was the outward man of Big
Black Burl.

Brave as a lion, deliberate as a bear, patient as an ox, faithful as a
mastiff, affectionate as a Newfoundland dog, sagacious as a crow,
talkative as a magpie, and withal as cheery and full of song as a
sky-lark. Such was the inward man of Big Black Burl.

Built up and limbed as just described, our hero, as you may well
imagine, must have been a man of prodigious bodily strength. To be sure,
a tall, supple, well-knit, athletic white man like Simon Kenton, for
example, might, in a wrestling-match and by some unexpected sleight of
foot, have kicked his heels from under him and brought him flat on his
back with ease. But keeping him there would have been an altogether
different matter. That would have taken Simon Kenton, Daniel Boone, and
Benjamin Logan, all men of uncommon bone and muscle, and all upon him at
once; and even then he would have tumbled and tousled them so lustily as
at last to force them from sheer loss of breath to yield the point and
let him up.

The station, in and around which our colored hero was wont to figure,
was one of the most exposed points along the northern border, and, being
the rendezvous of many of Kentucky's boldest hunters, was looked upon by
the more interior settlements as their bulwark of defense against
incursions of the Indians. Now, be it known that in the numerous
skirmishes which took place in that quarter between the Reds and the
Whites, Big Black Burl played a rather conspicuous part; proving himself
for deeds of warlike prowess a signal illustration of African valor--a
worthy representative, indeed, of his great countryman Mumbo Jumbo, the
far-famed giant-king of Congo. In testimony whereof, there were the
scalps of his enemies taken by his own hand in secret ambush and in open
fight, and which, strung together like pods of red pepper, or cuttings
of dried pumpkin, hung blackening in the smoke of his cabin.

Scalps! Your pardon, Christian reader; but the truth must be confessed,
bald as it is, and worse than bald. It was the fashion of the day: the
Reds took scalps and the Whites took scalps. It were, then, hardly fair
in us to find fault with the Blacks for doing the same, especially as
they could neither read nor write nor cipher, nor had been taught the
absolute truths of any creed whence, as a natural consequence, proceeds
that profound fixedness of belief which needs must make itself manifest
in the persistent exemplification of every Christian virtue. Had they
enjoyed these inestimable advantages, the Blacks--depend upon it--would
have denied themselves so barbarous a luxury, and set a more Christian
example to the unchristian Whites then dwelling in the Paradise. The
glory of such a manifestation was reserved to the nineteenth century,
when the lovers of the great brotherhood of man should discover and
proclaim to the listening earth the latent saint inherent in the nature
of ebony, from Ham, the favorite son of Noah, down to Uncle Tom, the
best man that ever lived.

In the corn-field, barefooted and shirt-sleeved, Burl was like the
patient, plodding, slow-paced ox; but let the alarm-cry of "Indians!
Indians!" ring along the border, and in a trice, with moccasins on feet,
war-cap on head, rifle on shoulder, tomahawk and limiting-knife in belt,
he was out upon the war-path--a roaring lion, thirsting for scalps and
glory. Indeed, so famous did he in time become for his martial exploits
as to win for himself among Whites a distinguished title of "The
Fighting Nigger;" while among the Reds, by whom he was regarded as a
sort of Okeeheedee--half man and half devil--he grew to be known as "The
Big Black Brave of the Bushy Head." When out on his "Injun" hunts, the
Fighting Nigger usually chose to be alone. His instinct told him--and
that monitor rarely spoke to Big Black Burl in vain--that he must not
presume too far upon that fellowship into which, in virtue of his great
achievements, the White hunters had condescended to admit him; lest
familiarity, which breeds contempt, might incur him the risk of being
snubbed, or thrust out altogether as an impertinent intruder, who had
forgotten where he stood in the social scale. Whereas, by the general
observance of this prudent policy, not only should he win additional
commendations from his White superiors for additional deservings, but
secure to himself the undivided honor of the scalps--the trophies of
victory--taken by his own hand in battle. For, colored though he was,
with a nose inclining neither to the Roman nor Grecian, our hero showed
that he cherished a genuine, therefore jealous, love of glory. In this
respect, we may liken the Fighting Nigger to such godlike specimens of
our race as Alexander the Great; to Napoleon the Great; or, perhaps more
fitly still, to Mumbo Jumbo the Great, the far-famed giant-king of
Congo.

But if there was one thing in the Paradise that Big Black Burl loved
more than scalps and glory, it was his little master, Bushie--or, as the
name had been written down in the Good Book, some eight or nine years
before, Bushrod Reynolds, jr. Bushrod Reynolds, sr., the father, and
Jemima Reynolds, the mother, were natives of the Old Dominion, whence
they had migrated but a few months prior to the birth of their little
son; Bushrod, with his whole worldly estate across his shoulder, in the
shape of rifle and ax; Jemima, with her whole paternal inheritance close
at her heels, in the shape of an unshapely, gigantic negro youth,
destined in after years to win for himself among the Red warriors of the
wilderness the high-sounding title of "The Big Black Brave of the Bushy
Head." With brave and cheerful hearts, which the pioneer must maintain,
or sink, they had gone to work, and cutting out a broad green patch from
the vine-inwoven forest, had erelong, in the midst of the sunshine thus
let in, built them a rustic home. Here, in the due course of nature, a
playful little pioneer made his appearance, whom they bundled up in red
flannel and christened Bushrod, and called Bushie--Burl's household
idol.

Now, as a hunter and Indian fighter, Bushrod Reynolds had few equals,
even in the Paradise--a land prolific beyond precedence of the heroic in
that line. Hence it naturally followed that he should take the lead of
the other pioneers, who made Fort Reynolds--as in compliment to him the
station was called--their place of refuge from the incursions of the
Indians, or their rallying-point for repelling the invaders. Thus on a
certain day it so befell that an Indian chase was started near Fort
Reynolds--a band of the Red marauders having made a bloody, burning
pounce upon the settlements the previous night, and now, loaded with
booty and scalps, were making all speed for the Ohio River, to throw
that broad barrier between themselves and danger.

The chase had been kept up for several miles, and the pursuers as yet
had failed to catch a glimpse of the fugitives. Swifter of foot than his
comrades, Captain Reynolds had imprudently, perhaps unconsciously,
pushed on far in advance, when on a sudden he found himself waylaid and
set upon by four or five of the savages, who, bolder than their fellows,
had dared to be the hindermost and cover the retreat. These, having
caught sight of their foremost pursuer, and marking that he ran quite
alone, had agreed among themselves to waylay and capture him; a prisoner
being a more coveted prize than a scalp, since, while yet alive, he
could be both scalped and roasted. But he resisted so desperately,
dealing about their heads such ugly blows with the butt of his rifle, as
quickly to convince them that he was not to be taken alive; and aware
that the rest of their pursuers should soon be upon them, and
exasperated by the bruises he had given them, they shot him down on the
spot--nor turned to renew their flight till they had scalped him, though
still alive and conscious. The Red dastards were yet in sight when the
other hunters gained the spot, where they found their leader wounded and
dying. With a commanding gesture, he sternly bid them forward, nor mar
the chase for him, who had but a few moments to live. Fortunately, it so
chanced that on the present occasion Big Black Burl was with the White
hunters; therefore they left him to minister to his dying master, and
again pushed on in hotter, fiercer pursuit.

For many a weary mile of bush-entangled forest and grass-entangled
glade, of rocky dell and precipitous hill, the chase for life and death
went on--nor ceased till it had brought pursued and pursuer to the
banks of the broad Ohio. Here they who had dared to be the hindermost
found themselves reduced to desperate straits, whether to fight or
swim--their comrades, unmindful of them, having pushed off in all the
canoes, and being by this time far out upon the river. Needing but a
glance to tell them where their chances lay, with a loud yell of
defiance, they leaped from the high bank into the deep stream and swam
for dear life. The instant after, the rifles of the White hunters rang
out from among the trees along the shore: there was a stain of blood
upon the water, and the next moment they who but now had stemmed the
current with desperate sinews floated lifeless with it--all who dared to
be the hindermost.

Meanwhile, the faithful Burl had borne his wounded master to the banks
of a forest brook which ran hard by, and had set him down, reclined
against the trunk of a tree. Then he took his powder-horn, having
emptied its contents into his ammunition-pouch, and filling it from the
stream, gave his master to drink--the clear, cool, sparkling water, so
refreshing to the tired and thirsty, but to the wounded man sweet and
grateful beyond expression. When he had drained the flask and revived a
little, that hapless hunter thus addressed his slave: "Burl, you have
ever been faithful to me. Have I been as kind to you?"

A big sob was the only answer, but it came from the depths of the heart,
and said "Yes" a hundred times.

"Then, be faithful still. You have a brave heart and a strong arm, and
to your support and protection must I, in some sort, leave my poor wife
and child. Then give me your word, your solemn promise, that you will be
as faithful to Miss Jemima as you have been to me; and that you will
take good care of her fatherless boy, till he be old and strong enough
to shift for himself and for his mother, too. Do you give me your
promise?"

"O master!" Burl at length sobbed out, "it ain't much a pore nigger kin
do fur White folks in dat way; but what I kin do I will do, an' won't
never stop a doin' it." Here, with a blubbering expression of grief, the
poor fellow broke down.

"Your hand upon it, my good old boy," whispered the dying hunter, his
breath now almost gone. "Bid Miss Jemima and dear little Bushie good-by
for me, and carry them my dying blessing."

In pledge of the promise, never to be broken, Burl took the hand that
was now powerless to take his, and held it till death had fixed its
answering grasp and the hunter was gone to find another paradise. Then
he laid his master's body upon the streamlet's brink, to wash away the
blood. How gently the huge hand laved the gory locks and dashed the soft
water into the dead, pale face! It was a stern, rugged, weather-beaten
face; but the light of the last loving thoughts still lingered upon it,
lending it a beauty in death which it had never known in life. This part
of his pious duty duly done, then tenderly in his mighty arms he took up
the precious burden and laid it across his shoulder to bear it to the
distant home. Through the fast lengthening shadows of sunset, through
the glimmering shades of twilight, through the melancholy starlight,
through woods, woods, woods, he bore it, till the lamp that always
burned at the little square window, when the hunter was abroad in the
night, was spied from afar, telling that the faithful, loving heart was
waiting and watching as she should never wait and watch again.

Burl stepped softly over the low rail-fence into the yard and laid his
master's body upon a puncheon bench which stood under a forest-tree
directly in front of the cabin. Having composed the limbs of the dead,
he stole with noiseless tread across the porch to the cabin door, at
which he softly knocked with his knuckles, but holding it fast by the
latch-handle, lest it should be too suddenly opened. Straightway a quick
step was heard approaching the door from within. The wooden bolt slid
back with a thump, the wooden latch went up with a click, but the door
remained shut.

"It's nobody but me, Miss Jemimy; nobody here but me. You's awake, is
you?"

"Yea, Burl, I'm awake," answered a gentle voice within; and again the
latch went up with a click.

"Not yit, Miss Jemimy, not yit. I said dare's nobody here but me; but
didn't 'zacly mean what I said. You's awake, now, is you--wide awake?"

"Yes, Burl, I am wide awake, and have been all night long. But why do
you ask? And why do you hold the door so fast?" And now there was a
tremor of alarm in the gentle voice.

"Den, put out de light, Miss Jemimy; O put out de light!" and the great
sob which shook the door told the rest.

In sweet pity we shall refrain from dwelling further upon the scene. But
as Burl stood out there in the night and witnessed the widow's anguish,
and heard the wail of her fatherless child, from that heart whence had
ascended to heaven the promise never to be broken there rose a terrible
oath that never from that day forward, while he had life in his heart
and strength in his arm, should an opportunity for vengeance slip his
hand. How faithfully that oath was kept full many a Red man's scalp,
which hung blackening from his cabin beams, but too plainly attested.



Chapter II.

HOW LITTLE BUSHIE FIGURED IN THE PARADISE.


"No, Bushie, my boy, you can't go to the corn-field to-day," said Mrs.
Reynolds to her son of nine years old, one fine May morning, about two
years after the sad event recorded in the foregoing chapter. The little
fellow had been teasing his mother for two or three hours to let him go
to the field where Burl was plowing corn, knowing full well, as every
only child does, the efficacy of importunity.

"But, mother, Burl is singing so big and glad out there, and I should so
love to be with him. And I should so love to watch the squirrels running
up and down the trees and along on top of the fence; and the little
ground-squirrels slipping from one hollow log to another; and the little
birds building their nests; and the big crows flopping their wings about
the limbs of the old dead trees. And then, too, Burl would be--"

"Let Burl go on with his singing," interrupted the mother; "and let the
squirrels go on with their playing; and the birds with their
nest-building; and the crows with their idling about the limbs of the
old dead trees. All this is very nice, I know, but hardly worth the risk
you must be at in getting there to enjoy it."

"But, mother," urged Bushie, "Burl would be so glad to see me sitting up
there, on top of the fence, just where he and old Cornwallis would be
coming out at the end of the row. I know just 'zacly what he'd say, the
minute he sees me: 'I yi, you dogs!'"

"Yes, and somebody else might be glad to find a little white boy sitting
up there on top of the fence," rejoined the mother, with a warning look.
"Somebody who would steal up from behind, as soft as a cat upon a bird,
and before knowing it, there! you would find a big red hand clapped over
your mouth to keep you from screaming for help. Then, hugged tight in a
pair of red arms, cruel and strong, off you'd go through the woods and
over the hills and across the Ohio to old Chillicothe, there to be made
a wild Indian of, for the rest of your days, if not roasted alive at
once. Only this morning, Captain Kenton, on his way from Limestone to
Lexington, dropped in at breakfast-time, and told us that he had seen
fresh Indian signs in the woods not more than five miles from the fort.
And, Bushie, my boy, have you forgotten that only this spring Burl shot
a panther in the woods between here and the field? And that only last
winter he knocked a bear in the head with his ax, at the big sink-hole
spring in the middle of the field? And that only last fall he trapped
and killed that terrible one-eyed wolf in the black hollow just beyond
the field?" And seeing her little son opening his mouth and fetching a
breath for a fresh effort, the mother, with more decision, added: "No,
Bushie, no! Play about the fort as much as you please, but go to the
field to-day you must not, and you shall not. There!" And with this she
clapped his little coon-skin cap upon his head, and ramming it down to
his ears, bid him go and hunt up the other children and play at home,
like mother's good boy.

Now, Bushie loved his mother dearly, even tenderly, for a juvenile
pioneer, especially at meal-times and at nights; the fort, too, in bad
weather, he liked well enough. But on Burl, between meals, and on the
woods and fields, in fine weather, he fairly doted. The weather on the
present occasion was as fine as the heart of a healthy, growing,
adventurous boy could wish for recreation under the open sky--it being,
indeed, the last day of May, which, as nobody ever makes a holiday of
it, is always perfectly delightful. Therefore was he strongly tempted to
give a snapping pull at the apron-strings and make for sweet liberty--a
thing he was in the habit of doing about once a week, when the keenest
switching and the liveliest dancing that one could wish to witness would
follow, sure as fate. To do our urchin hero justice, however, he rarely
yielded to the temptation without making some considerable effort to
resist it; efforts such as older transgressors are apt to set down
largely to their own credit in their private accounts between self and
conscience, vaguely hoping thereby to bamboozle somebody besides
themselves--perhaps the recording angel. So, this morning, he hunted up
the other children, as his mother had bidden him, and made a
manful--nay, desperate--effort to be sportive at home; but the little
fort, within the shelter of whose wooden walls had been their home ever
since that melancholy night two years ago, had never seemed to him so
dull and lonesome. The hunters and field-laborers, belonging to the
station, were all abroad, and the other children seemed as little
inclined to play as himself.

Finding that quiet amusement was not likely to come of its own accord,
Bushie was minded to draw it out by a little gentle persuasion, and to
this intent challenged the tallest boy of the company--taller than
himself by a head, though not so broad--to cope with him in a boxing
match. Having already tried that game several times and invariably come
off with a savage griping in the pit of the stomach, the tall boy made
it a point just then to hear his mother's call--though heard by no one
else--which answering, he walked off briskly, under press of filial
obedience, to see what was wanted. As if hoping to force what would not
come of its own accord, or by persuasion, Bushie now laid unauthorized
hands on Grumbo's tail, and giving it a cracking pull, got his finger
bitten; ditto, then, on Tom's tail, and giving it a cracking jerk, got
his leg scratched. Evidently, quiet amusement at home to-day was a
consummation quite out of the question, however devoutly to be wished.
So, he gave it up as a moral achievement beyond his present resources,
and with the feeling of a boy who though he had failed in the discharge
of duty had yet endeavored well, he went and stood in the gate-way of
the fort, which, as it directly faced the distant field, was just the
place to give the Tempter a fair chance at him.

The sky--how sunny and blue it bent above him! The woods--how shady and
green they rose before him! The little log fort--how dull and lonesome
it lay behind him! The little log grist-mill down there on the banks of
the river at the foot of the hill--how tiresomely it went on creaking
and humming and droning, forever repeating, "What a pity! what a pity!
what a pity!" or, "Clip it, Bushie! clip it, Bushie! clip it, Bushie!"
according to the tune one's fancy might chance to be singing at the
moment. The Tempter was creeping upon him apace. The melodious strains
of that powerful voice--how cheerily, sweetly they come resounding
through the echoing woods, growing more and more distinct as the singer
neared the hither end of his furrow! The distance was too great for
Bushie to distinguish the words of the song; but to his longing ears,
the burden of it seemed to be something very much to this effect:

   "Come, come, come, Bushie, come!
   Burl a' plowin' in de fiel',
   A singin' for his little man to come."

Here the Tempter crept up close to him and whispered in his ear: "Don't
you hear him Bushie? He's singing for you. Clip it! Panthers, bears,
wolves, Indians! Pshaw! They'll never dare to come a-nigh you, with that
voice ringing in their ears. Clip it! Ain't he singing for his little
man to come? Clip it! I say. To be sure your mother will switch you
well for running away, but who minds that? It's all over in the shake of
a sheep's tail, and by the time you've rubbed your back and legs a
little, eaten your supper, and said your prayers, you'll be feeling just
as comfortable as ever. Clip it, I say; clip it!"

Bushie could endure it no longer. So, after a short, one-sided debate
between the good of him and the evil of him--the evil allowing the good
but a half-say in the matter--our little white hero formed the bold
design of making a sudden sally from the fort and surprising our big
black hero in the open field. First, though, he must make sure that the
coast was clear--_i.e._, that his mother was too busy about her
household concerns to notice him and put her foot on his adventure. So,
going back to the house, he peeped in at the door and reconnoitered.
Finding the chances rather in his favor, he returned to the gate,
whistling as he went, and otherwise making a big pretense of being
perfectly satisfied with his present surroundings, which, as there was
nobody to be hoodwinked by it, was stratagem wasted. But no sooner did
his foot touch the great oaken sill than with a sheep-like jump he had
cleared his skirts of the gate, and now across the open clearing, in the
center of which stood the fort, he was clipping away with a swiftness
perfectly marvelous in one of his age. Splendidly done, my fine rogue!
How the mother of a well-ordered family of precise boys and prim girls
would like to have the mending of your morals--_i.e._, the switching of
your skedaddling young legs--this fine morning!

Gaining the covert of the woods unobserved, he struck into a bridle-path
which ran winding amongst the trees and grape-vines toward the field,
where he soon subsided, first into a dog-trot, then into a brisk walk,
which he maintained for the rest of the way with long and guilty
strides. When he was come to the fence which divided the woods from the
field, with squirrel-like nimbleness he climbed up and perched himself
on the rider, or topmost rail, just where his black chum and old
Cornwallis should be coming out at the end of the furrow.

Perhaps it were well to take advantage of the present moment, while we
have him so conspicuously before us, to draw a life-size portrait of our
little hero--which, however, at first glance may seem somewhat larger
than life, the subject being uncommonly well grown for a boy of his age.
His body and limbs are as round, smooth, tight, and hard as those of a
buckskin doll; the materials used in their construction being of the
most substantial description, and consisting chiefly of Johnny-cakes,
hominy, venison and other wild meat, with as much milk, maple molasses,
and pumpkin-pie as the unsettled nature of the times would admit. His
eyes are blue and bright, large and wide open--such as can look you full
in the face, yet without boldness or impertinence. One would naturally
suppose that a boy who was in the weekly habit of breaking away from
apron-string control, and getting a whipping for it, ought to have long,
narrow, half-shut eyes, of some uncertain color, which, though they can
stare boldly enough at your boots, buttons, or breastpin, can never look
you full in the face, like those big blue ones we have up there before
us. His hair does not fall in clustering ringlets over his ears and
around his neck, as we usually find it in nice, interesting little boys
who figure in story-books; but it is pretty enough, being of a dark,
rich brown, as glossy as watered silk. His nose is a good one, though at
its present stage of development showing rather too much of the pug to
look well on canvas; but it will gradually ripen into the Roman as the
owner ripens into years and experience, and comes to a full knowledge of
his own importance in the world. The mouth, too, is a good one; not a
rosebud mouth, such as we sometimes see in fancy pictures of the boy
Washington, with his little hatchet; of the boy Napoleon, with his
little cannon; or of the boy Samuel, at his perpetual devotions; but a
large mouth, handsomely formed, and capable, with the help of dimples in
the cheeks and the shine in the eyes, of as bright and loving a smile as
heart of fond mother could wish.

The outfit of our little hero is in keeping with the rustic simplicity
of the times, consisting of but three garments--an outside shirt, an
inside shirt, and a hairy coon-skin cap: the latter having no visor, but
being in lieu adorned behind with the ringed tail, just as it grew on
the living animal. The cap conceals one of his best features--a forehead
bold, broad, round, and white, which, could it be seen, would much
improve our portrait. The inside shirt, as may be seen by the collar, is
of homespun cotton; the outside shirt of fair, soft buckskin, secured at
the waist by a belt of the same material, and falling a little below the
knees. Saving the buckskin of mother nature's own providing, the sturdy
young legs are without covering--a deficiency which admits of plausible
explanation. In those days of simple living and simple thinking,
parents, going from cause to effect by shorter cuts than they do at the
present time, were much more strict and direct in the training of their
children; and breeches softening, as needs must, the severity of the
switch, hence the moral efficacy thereof, boys, for the first ten years
of their travels in the Paradise, were seldom allowed to wear
them--buckskin breeches especially. Nor should we be surprised if just
here were to be looked for the reason why our grandfathers and
great-grandfathers were so much more energetic, manly, and upright than
their grandsons and great-grandsons, and so many more of them
broad-backed, clean-limbed, and six feet high.

The background to our portrait is a forest, lofty, shaggy, and dense,
and the home of a thousand wild things, which, being invisible at this
moment, could not, with due regard to fidelity, be introduced into our
picture. The foreground is a cultivated clearing of about one hundred
acres, with woody walls, unbroken in their leafy density, hemming it in
on every side. Directly in front is a field of corn, the dark and
thrifty green of which may well bespeak the deep, rich soil of the
Paradise. Farther in are several other inclosures, either white with
clover or brightly green with blue-grass, or darkly green with the yet
unripened wheat. In the midst of all, and forming the central feature,
stands a cabin, deserted and lowly since that unhappy night two years
ago.

Scattered about the clearing, singly or in clumps, or even in small
groves, are to be seen the giant survivors of the primeval forest,
which, rearing high aloft their green heads and flinging afar their
mighty arms, yield pleasant shade to the horses, sheep, and cattle
grazing about them. But more numerous are to be seen those that are not
survivors, though still standing, drained of their sap of life by the
woodman's ax, which hacked those jagged girdles around their huge
trunks. Standing there leafless, rigid, and gray, they remind us, in
their branching nakedness, of the antlered elk, and in their gigantic
unsightliness of the monstrous mastodon, that thing of grisly bone
which, as a thing of life, no son of Adam ever beheld. Hard by stands an
enormous oak, whose main bough, scathed and deadened by lightning, is
thrust from out its ragged green robe like the extended, unsleeved arm
of a giant, leaving a broad gap in the foliage open to the sky.

Upon this blasted limb of the oak, as if met there to hold an
indignation meeting relative to the scare-crows posted about the field,
or to the objectionable nature of the plowman's music, or to some real
or fancied cause of grievance, have congregated a large assembly of
sober-feathered, sober-visaged, but noisy, wrangling, turbulent crows,
who, like many unfeathered bipeds on the like occasions, seem to have
left their good breeding and good sense at home. Crows and their ways
have always excited much interest in the minds of philosophic men, and
the maneuvers of these before us have been watched with lively curiosity
by our little friend Bushie ever since we began drawing his portrait.



Chapter III.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL AND BUSHIE FIGURED IN EACH OTHER'S EYES.


   I spied a jay-bird on a tree,
      A ridin' on a swingin' lim';
   He cocked his eye an' winked at me,
      I cocked my gun an' winked at him;
         An' de jay-bird flew away--
         De jay-bird flew away--
         An' lef' de lim' a-swingin'--
         A-swingin'.

Such was a stanza from one of the songs that Big Black Burl was singing
while he plowed. The words were simple and crude enough, yet would the
melody now and then be varied with an improvised cadence of wild and
peculiar sweetness, such as one might readily fancy had often been heard
in the far-off, golden days of Pan and Silvanus, and the other
cloven-heeled, funny-eared _genii_ of the greenwood.

Though a swell in the ground hid them from his view, Bushie could tell
almost to the minute when Burl and old Cornwallis made their turn at the
farther side of the field, by the singing, which now began to draw
gradually nearer. The morning was breezy, and ever and anon, when a wave
of air came softly flowing over the rustling corn, the song would reach
his ear with an augmented volume and distinctness that made the unseen
singer seem for the moment a hundred yards nearer than he really was. At
length, right leisurely, they crept in sight--Cornwallis first, with
his piebald face; then, as the old horse would dip his head to nibble
at the green blades under his nose, short glimpses of Burl, though for
awhile no further down than his enormous coon-skin cap, made, it is
said, of the biggest raccoon that was ever trapped, treed, or shot in
the Paradise. But presently, observing the old horse prick up his ears
at some object ahead, Burl sighted the woods from between them, and
caught a glimpse of the little figure perched up there on the topmost
rail of the fence, square in front. Whereat, snapping short his melody
in its loudest swell, the plowman, in an altogether different key and
tone, and at the top of his tremendous voice, sent forward his favorite
greeting: "I yi, you dogs!" "I yi, you----" piped back Bushie; but just
as he would have added "dogs," he thought that "coons" would be more
pat; but not acting upon the thought in time for right effect, he
supplied its place with a grin which said more plainly than words could
have said it--than even "dogs" or "coons"--"I knew you would be glad to
see me out here!"

And glad Burl was, for as the plow, with the pleasant smell of fresh
earth and growing herbs floating about it in the air, ran out of the
furrow into the fence corner, he said, looking up with huge complacency
at his little master: "He's come out to de fiel' to see his ol' nigger,
has he? Well, me an' Corny's a little tired, so we'll take a little blow
here in de shade uf de woods, an' hab a little good soshyble talk wid
our little marster."

So saying, he threw his plow-line over the plow-handle, and mounted the
panel of the fence next to the one on which Bushie was sitting, and
squared himself for the confab, which the little master opened thus;
"Burl, just look at them crows up there on the dead limb of that big
acorn-tree; what are they doing?"

"Dey's holdin' a pra'er-meetin', I 'spec'. No, not dat--camp-meetin',
dey's so noisy. Or, may be, now"--eyeing his black brethren with close
attention--"may be dey's holdin' a kunvintion, like Gener'l Wilkerson
an' t' other big guns, to hab ol' Kaintuck stan' 'pon her own legs, so
she kin lay off lan' as she please, an' fight de Injuns on her own
hook."

"But why do they make so much noise?" inquired Bushie.

"Beca'se dey likes to hear 'emselves talk--eb'rybody wantin' to do all
de talkin', an' nobody wantin' to do none uf de list'nin'--jes' like
people."

"Don't you wish you had Betsy Grumbo out here, Burl? How she'd make
their black feathers fly! And the woods are alive with squirrels. Just
see how they are running up and down the trees and along the top of the
fence."

"Ef I had Betsy Grumbo out here, de woods wouldn't be alive wid
squirrels, an' dem black rogues up dar wouldn't be so near by--so easy
an' sassy."

"Why wouldn't they?" inquired Bushie.

"Beca'se dey'd smell Betsy's breaf, an' make 'emselves scarce."

"What's the matter with Betsy's breath?"

"W'y, Bushie, if Betsy is always belchin' gunpowder, don't you know her
breaf mus' smell uf gunpowder?"

"Burl," said Bushie, turning his eyes from the crows and fixing them
wide open on his black chum's face, "I killed a rattlesnake yesterday,
while I was out in the woods hunting May-apples--a rattlesnake as big as
your leg."

"Now, Bushie, ain't you lettin' on?" said Burl with an incredulous grin.
"Wusn't it a black-snake, big as your leg?"

"Do rattlesnakes always rattle with their tails when they poke out their
heads to bite a man?"

"Yas, always; or to bite a boy, either."

"And are rattlesnakes ever black?"

"Neber, 'ceptin on de back, an' dare dey's brown an' yaller."

"Well, then, I reckon it must have been a black-snake, for it was black,
and didn't rattle its tail when it poked out its head to bite me."

"Now, dare's reason in dat; dare's reason in all things," said Burl,
looking at his little master, with his head turned slightly downward and
his eyes turned slightly upward, showing more of the whites, which was
his way of looking wise. "Things as has reason in 'em I likes. Says I to
sich things, 'Come 'long, me an' you can agree; walk in my house an'
take a cheer, an' make yo'se'f at home.' But things as hain't got reason
in 'em, says I to sich things, 'You g' 'long; me an' you can't agree;
I's no use for you, don't want you in my house. Scat!'"

"And, Burl, after I killed the snake I saw a painter."

"Now, Bushie, lettin' on agin, ain't you? Wusn't it our yaller Tom dare
at de fort, gwine out to see his kinfolks 'mong de wilecats 'way off
yander?"

"Do painters always scream like a skeered woman or a burnt baby, when
they go a-jumping from one tree to another? And do they always keep
a-swinging their long, limber tails?"

"Dat's de cretor's music, an' dem's de cretor's capers," replied Burl.

"Then I just know it was a painter," said Bushie, more certain of his
panther than he had been of his snake; "for that was just the way he
carried on."

"An' what did you do to de painter, Bushie? Kilt him, too, I 'spect."

"No, I just looked cross-eyed at him and skeered him away."

"H-yah, h-yah, h-yah!" laughed the black giant, till the fence shook and
rattled.

"Now, Burl," said Bushie, regarding his black chum with great soberness,
"didn't you tell me if ever I saw a painter I must skeer him away by
looking cross-eyed at him?"

"Look at me, Bushie, de way you did at de painter," said Burl, with a
broad grin. "I wants to see how well you've larnt your lesson."

Complying at once, Bushie pulled down and screwed up his quizzical
little face in such a marvelous manner that eyes, nose, mouth, and
coon-skin cap seemed on the point of breaking out into a family row
beyond hope of ever coming again to a good understanding one with
another.

"No wonder the varmint was skeered and went screamin' away!" And the
black giant laughed till the forest shook to its roots, and every
inquisitive squirrel and prying fox within a half mile peered warily
forth from its hole to discover what jovial monster this might be that
had invaded their leafy wilds. Suddenly checking his laughter, Burl
said: "But, Bushie, I forgot to ax you if you axed your modder to let
you come out here to de fiel'. Did you?"

"Yes."

"An' she said you might come, did she?"

"Just look up yonder, Burl, and see how the crows have gone to
fighting."

"You g' 'long with your crows, an' look at me right, an' tell me if yo'
modder said you might come."

"And Burl, after I skeered the painter away," remarked Bushie, "I saw
two buffalo bulls fighting right on the high river-bank, and the one
that got his tail up hill pushed the other clean----"

"You g' 'long with your bulls too, an' no mo' uf yo' dodgin', but look
me right in de face an' answer my question."

Now, Bushie had never told a lie--that is to say, a downright lie--in
all his life. It must be owned, however, that he would sometimes try to
dodge the truth, by throwing out some remark quite foreign to the
offense under consideration; an effective way of whipping the father of
fibs around the stump, as many people who ought to know can testify. Or,
failing to clear his skirts by this shift, he would go on picking at the
mud-daubing in the wall, near which he might chance to be standing, or
breaking off splinters from the fence on which he might chance to be
sitting, without saying a word either foreign or akin to the matter in
hand. But let him once be fairly cornered, convinced that dodging the
question was out of the question, then would he turn himself square
about, and looking you full in the face, out with the naked truth as
bluntly as if he had "chawed" it into a hard wad and shot it at you from
his pop-gun. So, in the present instance, throwing down the handful of
splinters he had broken from the rail, he turned his big blue eyes full
upon the face of his black inquisitor, and bluntly answered, "No, she
didn't."

"Did she say you mus'n't come?"

"Yes, she did."

"Den, why didn't you mind yo' modder?"

"Because."

"Ah, Bushie, my boy, beca'se won't do. Dare's painters an' wolves fur
bad little boys as runs away frum home an' hain't got nothin' to say fur
'emselves but beca'se. An' Injuns, too, wid cuttin' knives an' splittin'
tomahawks fur sich boys; yes, an' bars too. W'y, Bushie, don't you
'member how we reads in de Good Book 'bout de bad town-boys who come out
to de big road one day an' throwed dirt at de good ol' 'Lishy, de
bal'-headed preacher, an' made ugly mouths at him, an' jawed him, an'
sassed him, an' all de time kep' sayin', 'G' 'long, you ol' bal'-head;
g' 'long, you ol' bal'-head!' Den de good ol' 'Lishy looked back an'
cussed 'em, when two she-bars heerd him an' come out uf de woods wid
der cubs at der heels, an' walked in on der hin' legs 'mong dem bad
town-boys, a scratchin' an' a clawin', a bitin' an' a gnawin', right an'
lef', an' neber stoppin' till dey had tore an' chawed 'em every one up.
Now, you see, Bushie, dese bad town-boys had run 'way frum home dat
mornin' when der modders had said dey mus'n't, an' hadn't nothin' to say
fur 'emselves but beca'se."

"Burl, did you ever see Colonel Daniel Boone?"--breaking off this
disagreeable subject as he would a rail-splinter.

"What's Colonel Danel Boone got to do wid de good ol' 'Lishy an' de bad
town-boys? You look me right in de face an' tell me you's sorry fur not
mindin' your modder. Now, ain't you?"

"No, I ain't."

"Ah, Bushrod, Bushrod, you's a hard little case, I'm afeard," said Burl,
with a grave shake of the head; but determined to bring the delinquent
to a sense of his evil ways, he thus proceeded: "But, s'posin' now,
while you's runnin' 'way you's to git lost 'way down yander in de black
holler whar I kilt de one-eyed wolf las' fall, an' hafter stay dare all
night all by yo'se'f, nothin' fur a good warm supper but a cap full of
pawpaws or pussimmons, an' nothin' fur a good warm feather-bed but a
pile of dry leabs. Wouldn't you be sorry den?"

"Not much."

"He's a pow'ful hard little case" said Burl to himself; "I mus' try him
a leetle stronger. Well, den, sposin' next mornin' you's to wake up an'
see a she-bar, wid a pack uf hungry cubs at her heels all a-comin' at
you on dare hin' legs, an' all begin a scratchin' an' a clawin', a
bitin' an' a gnawin' all over you, an' all at once. Wouldn't you be
sorry den?"

"Yes."

"I yi!" cried Burl triumphantly, "I thought dat would bring de little
sinner to his milk." And having brought the young transgressor to know
and feel the evil of his ways, he was now ready to answer the inquiry
touching Colonel Daniel Boone, and more than ready, since it had a
direct bearing upon subjects in which he took particular interest.

"So my little man would like to know ef I eber seed Colonel Danel Boone.
Did I eber see a bar? Did I eber see a buck? Did I eber see a buffalo?
Course, I's seed Colonel Danel Boone, many an' many a time, an' I knows
him too, like a book."

"Is he the greatest man in the world, Burl? I've heard he was."

To which, with that profound air which men are apt to assume when called
upon for an opinion touching a matter of moment, and aware what weight
their judgment will carry in the minds of their listeners, and that it
therefore behooves them to be cautious in expressing it, Big Black Burl,
with emphatic pauses between phrases and now and then an emphatic
gesture, thus made response:

"Well----take him up dis side an' down dat----at de britch an' in de
barr'l----Mars Dan--Colonel Boone, I mean--is----I s'pose you may
say----de greates' man in de worl', but," an emphatic gesture, "if you
mean by dat, is he de greates' Injun-fighter in de worl', den says I,
No, sir, Colonel Boone ain't de greates' Injun-fighter in de worl'. He's
a leetle too tender-hearted to be a real, giniwine, tip-top, out-an'-out
Injun-fighter. W'y, sir, he neber tuck a skelp in all his life. Time an'
agin has I been out wid him Injun-huntin', a-scourin' de woods, hot on
de heels uf de red varmints, an' when he shoots 'em down, dare he lets
'em lay an' neber fetches a har uf de skelps. Den says he, 'It does seem
sich a pity to kill de pore cretors, dey looks so much like humins, but
it's boun' to be done: ef we don't kill 'em dey'll kill us, nip an'
tuck.' Den says I, 'Mars Dan--no, I don't say dat--Colonel Boone,' says
I, 'what you gwine to do wid de skelps?' Says he, 'Jest let 'em stay
whar dey is fur de buzzards.' Den says I, 'Colonel Boone, let me have de
skelps to hang up in my cabin to 'member you by.' Says he, 'Burlman
Rennuls,' dat's me, you know, Bushie; 'Burlman Rennuls,' says he, 'you's
'tirely welcome to de skelps, ef you kin take 'em widout cuttin' an'
spilin' de skin.' H-yah, h-yah, h-yah!" And the black braggart laughed
as sincerely as if he were for the moment self-deceived into thinking
that he was dealing in facts. But quickly recovering his lofty air,
which had vanished while he laughed, the Fighting Negro thus proceeded
with his observations upon the lights of the age: "Now, ef you'd like to
know my 'pinion as to who's de greates' Injun-fighter in de worl', den
says I agin, it ain't Colonel Boone; I will say it ain't Colonel Logan;
yes, an' I'll say it ain't Giner'l Clarke; but dat man, sir, is----" an
emphatic pause, "Cap'n Simon Kenton. Cap'n Simon Kenton, sir, is de
greates' Injun-fighter in de worl'."

"Does Cap'n Kenton take scalps?" inquired Bushie.

"Does he take de skin uf a bar when he traps it? Does he take de
tail-feathers uf a eagle when he shoots it? Course he takes skelps.
How'd people know he had kilt de red varmints ef he didn't hab de
top-nots to show fur it? Cap'n Kenton, sir, is a man uf grit. None o'
yo' tender-hearted flinch in Cap'n Kenton; ef he's got any tender
feelin's in him, dey's all fur us white folks. Flint, sir, flint, lead,
an' steel is all he has fur de red rubbish."

"But mother says it is wrong for white men to take scalps," observed
Bushie.

Whereat the Fighting Negro was somewhat taken aback, and for a full
minute quite at a loss for an answer which would justify himself and
Captain Kenton in their practice of taking scalps, and yet not gainsay
Miss Jemima's disapprobation of the same. But after taking a bird's-eye
view of the landscape before him, and with it a bird's-eye view of the
subject, he was his collected self again. He began his answer by
observing, in a general way, that Miss Jemima doubtless meant that the
practice in question was wrong so far only as it concerned the duties
and obligations of husbands and fathers, without intending her stricture
to apply to bachelors, like himself and Captain Kenton. Having thus
skillfully accommodated both sides of the matter in dispute, the
Fighting Negro, with a persuasive gesture, wound up his vindication
thus: "So, you see, Bushrod, Jemimy Rennuls wus right, an' Burlman
Rennuls wus right. Dare's reason in all things. Now, when you grows up
an' gits to be a married man, den comes I to you an' says, 'Cap'n
Rennuls;' dat'll be you, you know, Bushie; 'Cap'n Rennuls,' says I,
'you's a married man now, got a wife, gwine to be a man of fam'ly, den
it won't do fur you to take skelps. Jes' leab dat part uf de business to
de bucks dat hain't got no do's, like me an' Cap'n Kenton. I say, Cap'n
Rennuls, don't you take no skelps, yo' wife won't like it.'" And the
Fighting Negro triumphantly crossed his legs. A delicate and difficult
question had been settled, and to the entire satisfaction of at least
one party concerned.

Now, between these two personages of our story, so widely different from
each other in size, age, color, and condition, there existed, as
doubtless has already been discovered, a sort of mutual-admiration
understanding, which always kept them on the best of terms one with
another, no matter how roughly they might be at rubs with the rest of
the world: the black giant making a household idol, so to speak, of his
little master; the little master a pattern, so to speak, of the black
giant. So, when the pattern crossed his legs, the idol needs must cross
his legs likewise. But in the act, the rail on which he was sitting,
giving a sudden turn, marred the new attitude before it was fairly
assumed; when, up with a flourish, flew the little naked heels, as high
as the little coon-skin cap had been, and backward tumbled the household
idol into a dense clump of pea-vines which, with a smart sprinkling of
briers, grew in the fence-corner behind him. In an instant the little
man had vanished, and there instead lay sprawling a yelling urchin; the
yelling, however, considerably smothered by his coon-skin cap rammed
down over his mouth, and by his two shirts turned up over his head. With
a swing of his huge limbs that made the knitted panels shake and rattle,
Burl had flung himself over the fence, and was now engaged in the
ticklish task of extricating his little master from amongst the vines
and briers, the latter being just sufficiently thick to spice the
disaster. When he had succeeded in fishing him out, pulled down the
shirts, and pushed up the cap, he began vigorously rubbing the bare
young legs with the palm of his hand, spitting upon it, the better, as
he said, to draw out the smarting and the stinging of the
brier-scratches. Then setting his idol, still howling, upon his own
panel of the fence, Burl began looking about him with wide-open eyes, as
if in quest of something lost, wondering the while what could have
become of his little man.

"Has he tuck de wings uf a duck an' flew away?"--giving a broad stare at
the open sky, then, with a disappointed shake of the head, added:
"N-o-h. Has he tuck de claws uf a coon an' clum a tree?"--attentively
scanning the tree-tops. "N-o-h," with another disappointed shake of the
head. "May be he's changed hisself into a groun'-squirrel, an' crep'
into a hollow log"--peeping narrowly into the hollow trunk of a fallen
tree near by, "N-o-h. Den whar can my little man a-went to?"--now quite
desperate, taking a general survey of the neighboring country, and
scratching his back with the knuckle of his thumb. "'Pon my honor, I
b'lieve he's plowin' on tudder side de fiel'; thought I heerd him
a-whistlin ober dar"--feigning to listen for a moment. "N-o-h; jes' Bob
White a-whistlin' ober dar. Den sholey he's tuck his gun an' went to de
lick to shoot us a buffalo calf for dinner; or, if not dat, he's went a
Injun-huntin' wid my frien' Cap'n Kenton. Sho's you bawn, he's went a
Injun-huntin' wid my frien' Cap'n Kenton. W'y, dar he is!" exclaimed he
with delighted surprise, bringing his eyes at last to bear upon his
little master, who, having made a manful effort to call back his
manhood, was now the howling urchin no longer, though he did look a
little chap-fallen, nor had he yet left off rubbing his legs. "Dar's my
little man, come back to tell me how my frien' Cap'n Kenton is gittin'
along. While he was gone I thought I heerd a buffalo bull-calf ober dar
in de woods a bellerin' as if Grumbo had him by de tail; but when I went
to look fur him I couldn't find him. Den I thought it mus' be a wilecat
kitten a-mewin' ober dar in de woods, but couldn't find a kitten nudder.
Wonder ef my little man couldn't tell me what it was I heerd."

The little man looked as if he knew nothing at all about the matter, and
was quite willing to take Burl's word for it and let the noise in
question pass either for the bellowing of a buffalo bull-calf or for the
mewing of a wild-cat kitten, he cared not a whistle which. By this time
Burl had climbed back over the fence into the field, and was now slowly
turning his horse and plow to run his next furrow.

"Well, Bushie, me an' ol' Corny's had our blow. So we mus' pitch in agin
an' go to scratching', an' keep a-scratchin' an' keep a-scratchin'; ef
we don't, our little marster won't hab no roasin'-ears fur summer, no
johnny-cakes an' punkin-pies fur winter. So you jes' stay whar you is,
an' when de dinner horn blows I'll put you on ol' Cornwallis an' take
you home a-ridin'."

And with a pleasant smell of fresh earth and growing herbs floating
about them in the air, plow and plowman went their way, the singing
recommencing with the work, as naturally as consequence follows cause:

   "Squirly is a pretty bird,
   He carries a bushy tail,
   He eats up all de farmer's corn
   An' hearts it on de rail.
   He hearts it on de rail, young gals,
   He hearts it on de rail."

Louder and louder, higher and higher rose the giant voice, till filling
all the hollow clearing, it overflowed the leafy walls of forest green
in waves of jocund and melodious sound.



Chapter IV.

HOW SOMEBODY WAS LOST IN THE PARADISE.


For an hour or two the plowing and singing went cheerily on; Bushie, the
while, shifting his perch upon the fence to keep himself on a line with
the furrow next to be run. When the plow was not in sight he amused
himself by watching the squirrels at play, or the birds at
nest-building, or the crows where they still kept their station on the
blasted limb of the oak. By this time the assembly had grown more noisy
and obstreperous than ever, till finally, all order and decorum lost,
the big talk broke up in a big row, the radicals turning tails upon each
other and flying away to the north and the south; the conservatives,
understanding each other no better, flying away to the east and the
west.

Each time, as he neared the end of his furrow, Burl cutting short his
singing the moment he spied his little master, would send forward at the
top of his stentorian lungs his wonted greeting, "I yi, you dogs!" This
was a favorite expression with him, and variously to be understood
according to circumstances. Treading the peace-path barefooted and
shirt-sleeved, he was wont to use it as a form of friendly greeting, in
the sense of "hail fellow well met," or "Good-morning, my friend," or as
a note of brotherly cheer, equivalent to "Hurrah, boys!" or "Bully for
you!" But treading the war-path, moccasin-shod and double-shirted, with
rifle on shoulder and hatchet in belt, he used the expression in an
altogether different sense. Then it became his battle-cry, his note of
defiance, his war-whoop, his trumpet-call to victory and scalps. Taken
by the Indians, who never heard it but to their cost, it was understood
as the English for "Die, die, red dogs!"

While making his turns between rounds, Burl, glancing complacently up at
his little master, would make some remark about the squirrels and the
birds who seemed to be in a "monstrous" fine humor that morning, or
about the crows who seemed to be in a "monstrous" bad humor: "De corn
now gittin' too tall an' strong for 'em to pull up--de black rogues!"
Once or twice it was a sympathetic inquiry about "our little legs," with
a comment upon the efficacy of spit for drawing out "de smartin' an'
stingin' of brier-scratches." Oftener, however, than any thing else, it
was the assurance that by the time the plowing should reach a certain
shell-bark hickory that stood near the middle of the field the
dinner-horn would be blowing, when the little man should go home
"a-ridin' ol' Cornwallis;" the little man always answering this with a
grin of glad anticipation. The turn by this time fairly made, the
plowing and singing would recommence:

   "Come, come! come, corn, come!
   Burl a-plowin' in de fiel',
   A-singin' fur de roasin'-ear to come.

   "Come, come! come, corn, come!
   Burl a-plowin' in de fiel',
   A-singin' fur de johnny-cake to come.

   "Come, come! come, punkin, come!
   Burl a-plowin' in de fiel',
   A-singin' fur de punkin-pie to come."

On nearing his eighth or ninth round, Burl was on the point of shouting
forward the accustomed greeting, when he saw that his little master had
vanished from the fence. At this, however, he was not surprised,
naturally supposing that the boy having grown weary with waiting so
long, and lonesome, had returned to the fort. Now the fact was, Burl
had gone to the field that morning before Captain Kenton had called at
the station with the intelligence of having seen fresh Indian traces in
the wood but a few miles from the place. This circumstance was therefore
unknown to him, else had the faithful fellow never lost sight of his
little master until he had seen him safe back home. So, without any
suspicion of danger, he went on singing at his work as before:

   "Wher' now is our Hebrew childern?
   Wher' now is our Hebrew childern?
   Wher' now is our Hebrew childern?
     Safe in de promis' lan'.
   Dey went up frum de fiery furnace,
   Dey went up frum de fiery furnace,
   Dey went up frum de fiery furnace,
     Safe to de promis' lan'.
   By an' by we'll go an' see dem,
   By an' by we'll go an' see dem,
   By an' by we'll go an' see dem,
     Safe in de promis' lan'."

Thus questioning, answering, promising, the song, or perhaps hymn it
might be called, went on through several stanzas, telling in dolorous
cadences how our good "ol' Danel went up frum de den uf lions;" how "our
good ol' 'Ligy went up on wheels uf fire;" how "our good ol' Samson went
up wid de gates uf Gaza;" how "our good ol' Noah went up frum de mount
uf Areat;" how "our good ol' Mary went up in robes uf whiteness," etc.,
all "safe to de promis' lan'," the comforting assurance over and over
repeated that "by an' by we'll go an' see dem, safe in de promis' lan'."
Long as it was, the song was much too short for Big Black Burl, as
indeed was every song that he sung. But being a "dab" at improvising
words, as well as music, he could easily spin out his melodies to any
length he pleased. So, on getting to the end of his hymn, ignoring the
fact, he went right on _ad libitum_ until he had sent up, in some
manner, scriptural or not, or from some locality, scriptural or not,
every good old Hebrew he could think of, safe to the promised land,
winding up thus with our good old Jonah:

      "Wher' now is our good ol' Jonah?
      Wher' now is our good ol' Jonah?
      Wher' now is our good ol' Jonah?
        Safe in de promis' lan'.
   He went up frum--I don't know wher' frum;
   He went up frum--I don't know wher' frum;
   He went up frum--I don't know wher' frum,
        Safe to de promis' lan'.
      By an' by we'll go an' see him;
      By an' by we'll go an' see him;
      By an' by we'll go an' see him,
        Safe in de promis' lan'."

Having got to the end of his Hebrew rope, the singer, pausing but long
enough for a "Gee up, Corny," to his slow-paced plow-horse, passed
recklessly from sacred to profane, and fell to roaring "Ol' Zip Coon,"
from which to pass in turn, by a cut as short, to "Hark! from the tombs
a doleful sound."

When the dinner-horn blew, he unhitched old Cornwallis from the plow
and, mounting him, rode leisurely home. Having tied his horse to a long
trough set on two wide red-oak stumps just outside the gate of the fort,
and throwing in a dozen ears of corn, he went on into Miss Jemima's
kitchen to get his own dinner. Drawing a puncheon-stool up to the
puncheon-table, he sat down to his noonday meal with an appetite which
had been sharp enough from his morning labors, but to which his singing
had lent an edge keen as a tomahawk. He had cut him a long, thick slice
of bacon and was in the act of conveying the first solid inch of the
savory fat to his lips when the fork thus loaded was stayed midway
between plate and open mouth by the voice of his mistress, who came to
the kitchen-door to inquire if Bushie had not come in with him. Burl
looked quickly round, saying with a tone of surprise: "Why, Miss Jemimy,
hasn't Bushie come home?"

"No; nor has he been seen in or about the fort for more than three
hours," replied the mother.

Bolting the solid inch of bacon which the while he had held poised on
his fork, he rose quickly from the table and was hurrying out of the
house when his mistress, with more alarm at heart than look or tone
betrayed, inquired of him whither he was going.

"Jus' back to de fiel' ag'in to git Bushie. Come out to de fiel' whar I
was plowin', he did; staid a good smart bit, settin' on de fence,
waitin' fur de dinner-horn to blow, when he was to ride ol' Corny home.
He's shorely laid down on de grass in de fence-corner an' went to sleep.
But I'll go an' bring him home right away."

And with this explanation Burl was off to the field again, though with
but the slightest hope of finding his little master out there asleep on
the grass in the fence-corner, as he had suggested. On reaching the spot
where he had last seen the boy he made a careful examination of the
ground, and it was not long before his keen and practiced eye discovered
in the crushed leaves and bruised weeds the traces of three Indians. The
savages had evidently crept upon the child and made him their captive
before he could cry for help, while he who would have rescued him or
perished was blithely singing at his work on the other side of the
field. For several moments Big Black Burl stood as if dumbfounded,
gazing fixedly down at the hated foot-prints in the leaves. But when he
raised his eyes and beheld the cabin where, deserted and lonely, it
stood in the midst of the waving green, another look came into his
face--one of vengeful and desperate determination right terrible to
see.

Speeding back to the fort, he found his mistress standing in her cabin
door-way waiting and watching his return. No need to be told the
afflicting tidings, she read them in his hurried gait and dismayed
countenance. She uttered not a cry, shed not a tear, but, with lips and
cheeks blanched as with the hue of death, she sunk down upon a wooden
settee that stood close behind her. And there, at the door of her
desolate house, the widowed mother sat--continued to sit through the
long, sad, weary hours of absence and suspense, waiting and watching,
her eyes turned ever toward the perilous north. Fortunately about a
dozen of the hunters belonging to the station had just come in from the
forest, who, upon learning what had happened, promptly volunteered to
set out at once in pursuit of the savages and rescue, if possible, the
unlucky Bushie, the boy being a great favorite with everybody at the
fort.

No more work in the field that day for Big Black Burl--he must now leave
the peace-path to tread the war-path. But, before setting out, he must
touch up his toilet a little, for, though careless enough of his
personal appearance as a field-hand, our colored hero took a great pride
in coming out on grand occasions like the present in a guise more
beseeming his high reputation as an Indian-fighter. So, going at once to
his own cabin, where he kept all his war and martial rigging perpetually
ready for use in a minute's notice, he dashed through the process with a
celerity quite astonishing in one who was usually so heavy and
deliberate in his motions. First, he drew on his moccasins, each of
which was roomy enough to hide a half-grown raccoon; then, over his
buckskin breeches he tied a pair of bear-skin leggins, hairy and wide;
then, he drew on over his buckskin under-shirt a bear-skin hunting-shirt
ample enough for the shoulders of Hercules, securing it at the waist
with a broad leathern belt, into which he stuck his sheathed
hunting-knife and his tomahawk, or battle-ax it might be called, it was
so ponderous. His ammunition-pouch and powder-horn--that on the
left-hand side, this on the right--he then slung over his shoulders by
two wide leathern straps, crossing each other on breast and back. Last,
he doffed his coon-skin cap and donned another of bear-skin, more
portentous still in its dimensions; and with Betsy Grumbo--his long,
black rifle; the longest, so said, in the Paradise--gleaming aslant his
shoulder, the Fighting Nigger sallied from his cabin, completely armed
and rigged for war. Giving a loud, fife-like whistle, he was instantly
joined by a huge brindled dog of grim and formidable aspect. As he
passed by the door where his mistress sat, in her mute, tearless,
motionless grief, he turned to her for a moment, cap in hand, and with
terrible sublimity said: "Miss Jemimy, you see me come back wid Bushie,
or you neber see yo' ol' nigger no mo'."

He then joined the white hunters, who by this time were ready likewise,
and led the way to the spot where he had last seen his unfortunate
little master.



Chapter V.

HOW GRUMBO FIGURED IN THE PARADISE.


The brindled dog, until his part of the work in hand should be made
known to him, stalked on with an air of grim, consequential
indifference, keeping his muzzle close under the shadow of his master's
hunting-shirt, content for the time with the little that might be seen
ahead from between the moving legs before him. Now, Grumbo--for such was
the name of the brindled dog--was a personage of consequence in his day,
and is to play a rather prominent part in our story. Therefore, it were
but due him, in memory of his great exploits, and of the signal service
which on this particular occasion he rendered the settlement, that we
draw a full-length portrait of our canine hero likewise.

Had you met his dogship in the fort, you would, at first glance, have
put him down in your mind as an uncommonly large, well-conditioned wolf,
whose habits and tastes had been so far civilized as to admit of his
tolerating the companionship of man and subsisting on a mixed diet; but
at the second glance, noting his color, and the shape of his head, with
a certain loftiness of mien and suppleness of backbone--neither of which
is ever to be found in the wolf--you would have pronounced him a little
lion, shorn of his brindled mane. On further acquaintance, however--I
cannot say intimate acquaintance, his excellency being of far too
reserved a turn for that--you would have discovered him to be a most
remarkable dog, whose character was well worth your study, made up as
it was of every quality deemed most desirable in the larger breeds of
his race.

He had the obstinacy of the bull-dog, the fierceness of the blood-hound,
the steadiness of the stag-hound, the sagacity of the shepherd-dog, and
the faithfulness and watchfulness of the mastiff, with the courage and
strength of them all combined. To this imposing array of canine virtues,
those who enjoyed his more intimate acquaintance--the few--would have
added the affectionate docility of the Newfoundland, and the delicate
playfulness of the Italian greyhound. It must be owned, however, that he
displayed little enough of the last-named qualities, excepting to
Burlman Reynolds, Jemima Reynolds, and little Bushie, in whose society
only would he now and then deign to unbend--_i.e._, untwist and wag his
iron hook of a tail--and, for a few moments snatched from the press of
public business, play the familiar and agreeable. If he ever caught any
one railing at Grumbo--any colored individual, that is, in bad odor with
his dogship--and cursing him for a misbegotten wolf, Big Black Burl
would be all afire in the flash of a gun-flint, and ready to pulverize
the false muzzle that dared dab the fair name of his four-footed chum
with a slur so foul. Sometimes, though, the white hunters, also, would
curse Grumbo--denouncing him as a dog too wanting in the milk of human
kindness to be allowed a place in human society, unmuzzled, excepting
when on duty. Too mindful of what was expected of him as a man of color
to give his white superiors the denial flat, Burl would, nevertheless,
hasten to disprove the charge, by citing some act of signal service
rendered by the injured one to his master at some moment of sore,
besetting need. For example:

One day the Fighting Nigger was out in the forest "a Injun huntin'," his
trusted dog on a hot scent far in advance, his trusty gun, Betsy Grumbo,
in "bitin'" order, on his shoulder. On a sudden, with no other warning
than a rough chorus of growls at his very heels, he found himself set
upon by a whole family of bears, who spying him, as he passed unawares
too near the door of their domestic den, had sallied out,
higgledy-piggledy, to give the intruder battle. To step to one side and
with the bullet already in his rifle lay the old he-bear, who led the
onslaught, dead on the spot was easy enough; so would it have been as
easy to dispatch the old she-bear, had she but allowed him time to
reload his piece. But enraged at the sight of her slain lord, and
afflicted at the thought of her fatherless cubs at her heels, the dam,
rearing upon her hind legs, bore down upon him at once, at the same time
growling out to her litter to fall, tooth and nail, on the enemy in
flank and rear.

So sudden was the charge that the unlucky Burl had barely time to thrust
out his gun against the chief assailant, when he found himself
completely beset. Wielding his unloaded rifle as he would a
pike--poking, pushing, punching therewith at the infuriated dam, in
throat and breast and ribs--he contrived for a time to keep himself
clear of the terrible claws continually making at him in such fierce,
unwelcome greeting. But the odds were against the black hunter. Swift to
obey their mother's command, the cubs with their milk-teeth were pulling
and tugging at his buckskin breeches in a manner exceedingly lively,
which, though it did not reach his skin, was making heavy demands on his
breath, fast growing short and shorter.

He could not hope to hold out long in a contest so unequal. Where was
Grumbo--his trusty, his courageous Grumbo? why was he not there to
succor his master in that hour of peril? In his extremity he essayed to
whistle for his dog, but his breath was too far spent for that.
Mustering up all the remaining strength of his lungs, he sent pealing
afar through the forest wilds the old familiar battle-cry, "I yi, you
dogs!" at the same moment fetching the dam a poke of unusual vigor and
directness, which brought her for once sprawling upon her back. But in
the act, while yet his whole weight was thrown upon his right foot, one
of the cubs, more sturdy than the rest, caught up his left foot by the
top of the moccasin and continued to hold it up so stiffly as to reduce
him to the necessity either of coming to his knees or of hopping about
on one foot; and hop was what he did, encumbered as was the hopping limb
with the rest of the litter. Hardly had he given a hop with one foot and
a kick with the other, to free himself from the obstinate little
tormentors, when the dam, recovering herself in a twinkling, was bearing
down upon him again on her hind legs with greater fury than ever.
Against such desperate odds how could he hold out longer, reduced as he
was to an empty gun, one leg, and no dog? Still hopping about on one
foot and kicking with the other, he had unsheathed his hunting-knife to
do what he might with that in the unmotherly hug which he felt must come
at last, when here, in the nick of time, having heard his master's call
from afar, the heroic Grumbo came dashing up to the rescue. Without
yelp, or bark, or growl, or any other needless ado, this jewel of a dog
laid hold of the she-bear's stump of a tail, which his instinct told him
was the enemy's vulnerable point, and with a sudden, forcible, backward
pull, brought her ladyship growling to her all-fours. The cubs, seeing
their dam's extremity, left off worrying the legs of the almost
breathless hunter to fall tooth and nail on the new enemy. But heeding
them no more than so many fleas to be scratched off at his leisure,
Grumbo continued to maintain his vantage-ground, holding the she-bear
still by the tail with jaws inflexible as death, and merely turning from
right to left as she turned from right to left, to keep himself on a
line with her and beyond the reach of her claws and teeth.

Meanwhile, having inspected Betsy Grumbo, to make sure that she had
sustained no damage in the conflict, Burl put her in "extry bitin'
order" by loading her with two bullets and a double charge of powder.
Then stepping a few paces to one side, so as not to endanger Grumbo, he
took deliberate aim and let the dam have it full in the body, just
behind the shoulder. With a fierce growl she sunk down lifeless by the
side of her slain lord, the jaws of the dog still clinched like a vice
upon her tail.

"An' dat's de way," to finish Burl's own story in his own words,
"Burlman Rennuls an' Grumbo woun' up de ol' she-bar. Den goes I up to de
cubs, whar dey still kep a-gnawin' an' a-scratchin' an' a-clawin' ober
Grumbo, an' tickles 'em to death wid de pint uf my knife. Den I looks
roun' an' dare's Grumbo still a-holdin' on to de varmint's tail like a
dead turtle to a corn-cob. Says I: 'Grumbo, onscrew yo' vice an' stop
yo' chawin'; de varmint's dead. Don't you know Betsy Grumbo alwus bites
in de heart, an' bars never play 'possum?' Den Grumbo lets go slow an'
easy as uf he's afeerd de varmint wus makin' a fool uf him an' Burlman
Rennuls, too. Den we skins de bars, an' we kindles a fire; briles some
uf de bar meat on de coals, streeks uf lean an' lumps uf fat; an' den we
sets down an' shakes hans--me an' Grumbo--ober de sweetest dinner eber
et in ol' Kaintuck. An' now you say Grumbo got no human feelin's in him.
Git out!"

Should any of the white hunters choose to hint a doubt as to the truth
of this story, Big Black Burl had but to point to the bear-skin bed in
his cabin, on which he slept; to the bear-skin rug under the shed at his
door, where Grumbo slept by day and watched by night; to his bear-skin
leggins, his bear-skin hunting-shirt, and bear-skin war-cap--and the
thing was settled and established beyond doubt or controversy.

Concerning these and the like points Grumbo himself maintained a grim
and dignified reserve, never speaking of them to common dogs, nor even
to his master, excepting when the subject was forced upon him; though
that was certainly frequent enough for wholesome airing. Grand, gloomy,
and peculiar, he sat upon his bear-skin, a maneless lion, wrapped in the
solitude of his own originality. Aloof from the vulgar pack, he lived
and moved and had his being but in the atmosphere of the Fighting
Nigger, in whose society only could he hope to find a little congenial
companionship, and to whom only he unbosomed the workings of his mighty
heart.

Methinks I see him now, with that air of consequence and mystery hanging
about him, like the fog from his own shaggy hide after a winter wetting;
with those short ears perpetually cocked, as if he felt that his destiny
was cast in an age and a land where to hunt, kill, and utterly root out
bears, panthers, wolves, and Indians from the top of the earth was the
sole end and aim of existence. I see him with that great brush of a tail
curled tightly--nay, inflexibly--over his right leg, as if his was a
will and a spirit not to be subdued or shaken by any power less than
that irresistible and inexorable fate which has declared, and without
repeal, that "every dog shall have his day." All this methinks I see,
and as vividly too as if I had the living Grumbo before my bodily eyes;
for, in the course of his long and eventful career, it grew to be as
characteristic of our canine hero as, twenty years later, became a
little cocked hat, a gray great-coat, military boots, and a certain
attitude, of that famous Corsican, Napoleon the First--commonly,
vulgarly, bogusly called the Great.



Chapter VI.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL FIGURED ON THE WAR-PATH BY DAY.


Having followed Big Black Burl to the spot where he had last seen his
little master, the white hunters made a narrow inspection of the Indian
traces on the ground, which had evidently been left by feet in too great
haste for much attempt at concealment or disguise. The black hunter then
set his dog on the trail, who, with that grim fixedness of purpose
betokened by a certain iron twist of the tail, now took the lead, and
the chase for life and death began. Thus surely led, they followed the
trail with rapid ease for about two miles, when it was lost in another
trail, larger and quite as fresh, made, it would seem from the number of
foot-prints, by at least twenty Indians. This they followed likewise,
till at the distance of five or six miles farther on in the forest it
brought them to the banks of a small, shallow river, just where it was
formed by two tributaries, or "forks" as we Western people call such
streams before they unite and pursue their course together. Here the
trail suddenly disappeared; nor was there any sign of its reäppearance
on the opposite bank, nor, so far as could be seen from that point, on
the banks of either fork.

Now, of all the stratagems for baffling pursuit practiced in Indian
warfare, none perhaps are so often resorted to as that of wading up and
down shallow streams, in whose beds no foot-print may be left that eye
of man can discern, or scent thereof upon the water that nose of dog can
detect. That the savages they were now pursuing had to this intent
availed themselves of one or the other of these three streams there
could be no doubt, but hardly one chance in ten that they had chosen the
main stream, as that ran in the direction of the settlement, and was, in
fact, that self-same little river which turned the little log grist-mill
at Fort Reynolds, eight miles below. It was, then, all but certain that
the Indians had waded up one of the two forks, whose rocky channels
wound among a group of low, rugged hills, which browed the more level
country around the station; but which fork had been chosen for the
purpose, the most experienced hunter of them all was unable to
determine, as the wily savages had left not a tell-tale trace behind,
and the two streams seemed equally favorable to the success of the
stratagem in question. In order, then, to double their chances of
overtaking the enemy, though it would double the odds against themselves
should they succeed in doing so, it was resolved to divide the party
into two squads--each to ascend a fork until the trail should reäppear
upon its banks, then to notify the other, when reuniting they would
again pursue the chase together.

As there was one chance in ten that the Indians--some of them at least,
and perhaps the very ones who had the little captive in custody--had
descended the main stream, Big Black Burl determined to try the fortunes
of war in that direction on his own account, feeling quite sure that
without any further aid of his the white hunters would be equal to any
emergency that should arise in their quarter. Besides, as we have
already seen, the Fighting Nigger usually chose to be alone when out on
expeditions of this kind, partly because his instinct told him that if
he would keep in good odor with his white superiors he must not rub
against them more than occasion should absolutely demand, but chiefly
that he might enjoy the undivided honor of the scalps taken by his own
hand in war, should such be his good fortune. So, making a third squad
of himself and dog, the black hunter detached himself from the white
hunters, and three parties set out on their several ways.

At a signal from his master, understood perfectly by the sagacious
animal, Grumbo, wading and swimming, made his way to the opposite side
of the river, where, shaking the water from his shaggy hide, he turned
and at a slow dog-trot began following the windings of the shore,
keeping his keen and practiced nose bent with sharp and critical
attention upon the ground. Abreast, with the water between them, Burl at
brisk pace followed the windings of his shore, keeping his keen and
practiced eye bent likewise with sharp and critical attention upon the
ground, that not a mark or sign unusual in grass, leaves, mud, or sand
might pass unnoted by. At intervals along the banks lay wide beds of
solid rock, or pebbles mixed with mud or sand, left high and dry by the
summer shrinking of the stream, where the Indians might easily have
quitted the water without leaving a trace perceptible to the eye. At
such places Burl would call Grumbo over to help the eye with the more
unerring nose, when, having satisfied themselves that the trail had not
yet left the water, the dog, swimming and wading, would return to his
side, and abreast the two go on as before. Thus they proceeded till they
had searched the banks for nearly a mile and the dog had made his third
or fourth passage. Coming then to a bed of limestone rock which spread
wide and dry between the edge of the water and the skirts of the forest,
Grumbo sent over to his master a short, low bark, which said to the ear
addressed, as plainly as words could have said it, "The Red varmints!"
Whereat, having satisfied himself that the fording was not more than
belly-deep to a tall horse, Burl slipped off his moccasins and leggins,
and rolling up his buckskin breeches till nothing was to be seen below
his hunting-shirt but his great black legs, now in his turn waded over
to the dog's side of the river, sure that here was the place where the
Indians had quitted the water and taken again to the woods. In a trice
he had reärranged his toilet, and now was briskly following the unerring
Grumbo on the rediscovered trail. But for more than fifty yards after
quitting the rocky margin of the stream, not a sign there could he
discern, so artfully had the cunning savages concealed or disguised
their foot-prints. Cunning as they may have thought themselves, it was
all as plain to Grumbo's far-scenting nose as it could have been to
Burl's far-sighted eye, and he a reader, had they written it in letters
on the ground, "Here we are, and here we go."

Indeed, they had not advanced more than a hundred paces farther, when
the traces of three Indians became distinctly visible in the leaves and
soft vegetable mold of the woods--as if they who had left them there had
thought that as they had thus far so completely concealed their trail
they might thenceforth proceed with less circumspection, as now quite
beyond the risk of pursuit. On closely inspecting the foot-prints, Burl
knew by certain signs--such as the unusual slenderness of one and the
mark of a patched moccasin in the other--that two of them had been left
by feet whose traces he had examined at the corn-field fence. The third
foot-print he had not seen that day, he was sure, nor its like until
that moment, never in all his border experience. It was the longest and,
excepting his own, the broadest foot-print he had ever seen, and must
have been left there by the tread of a giant. The individual, then, who
had captured his little master, and had him now in keeping, might not be
of this party; and so far as concerned the main object of this their
solitary adventure, they might, after all, be on a cold trail.
Nevertheless, they pushed on with speed and spirit. They had not
proceeded more than a furlong farther, when Grumbo stopped short, and
giving a double sniff uttered a quick, low yelp both of surprise and
joy, so it seemed, which said, as plainly as words could have said it,
"Halloo! what's this?" Then, after another quick sniff or two, looking
up at his master and expressing himself by wag of tail and glance of
eye, he added: "Good luck in the wind ahead."

That Grumbo had actually expressed this much may fairly be inferred from
Burl's answer: "O you's got a sniff of our pore little master's sweet
little feet, has you, at las'? Well, we kin foller our noses now an'
know whar we gwine."

Had Burl needed any interpretation of his dog's language in this
particular instance, he would have found it, a few yards farther on, in
two little foot-prints left clearly impressed in the clayey margin of a
forest brook but a few hours before. He stopped to look at them, and his
big eyes filled with tears of pitying tenderness at the sight. Grumbo,
too, smelt of them, and as he slowly drew in the familiar scent, his
wild eyes grew almost human in their look of affection, like those of a
Newfoundland. Burl now turned to inspect more narrowly the foot-prints
of the Indians, which were likewise left deeply impressed in the stiff
clay of the brook's margin. Nearest to those of the boy's were the
traces of the slender-footed Indian, who, in the act of taking the long
stride that was to clear him of the water, seemed to have taken a short
step aside to pick the little fellow up and lift him over dry-shod. This
was further evident from the reäppearance of the little foot-prints on
the other bank, side by side, instead of one in advance of the other.
Farthest to the left were the traces of the savage who wore the patched
moccasin. Between them, broad, long, and deep, and at huge strides
apart, were the foot-prints of the giant. At these traces of some
redoubtable warrior, so it would seem, Big Black Burl, with grave and
fixed attention, gazed for many moments. Then, as if to bring the
dimensions of the savage more vividly before his mind's eye, he measured
one of the prints by laying his own foot over it, and found that,
although not the broader of the two, it was the longer, from which it
was fairly to be inferred that the red giant must be at least seven feet
high, standing in his moccasins.

"Shorely, Grumbo," said the black hunter, addressing his dog, "it mus'
be dat Black Thunder, de big Injun we hears de white hunters talk so
much about. Dey say he blacked his face wid gunpowder when he fus'
started out a-fightin', an' ain't neber gwine to wash it off tel he's
got 'nough uf us white folks's skelps to rig up his huntin'-shirt an'
make it fine. I jes' as soon de ol' Scratch git de grips uf his clutches
on our little master, as dat Black Thunder. It's 'you tickle me an' I
tickle you' betwixt him an' de ol' Scratch. O you ol' Black Thunder!"
with a sudden burst of energy, apostrophizing the absent brave; "jes'
let de Fightin' Nigger git de whites uf his eyes on yo' red ugliness
once, he'll give you thunder--gunpowder thunder, he will. Jes' let Betsy
Grumbo git her muzzle on yo' red ugliness once, may be she won't bark
an' bite! May be she won't make yo' fine feathers fly! May be she won't,
now! O plague yo' red hide! Yug, yug, yug!" And with this terrible
malediction, the black giant shook his mighty fist at the foot-prints of
the red giant in the mud--Grumbo catching his master's spirit, and
giving the echo in a deep savage growl.

Having lost but a few moments in making these observations, with renewed
spirit and vigor they resumed the pursuit. Burl now felt confident that
the chances of war were decidedly in their favor, let them but come upon
the enemy under screen of night and undiscovered; and for more than this
he would not ask, to bring his war-path to a brilliant end. Ever and
anon, after they trudged on for a mile or two, Grumbo, fetching a
harder sniff than usual, would give one of his quick, low yelps of
satisfaction--when his master would know that at such places the
Indians, after carrying their little captive for some distance, to rest
his young limbs a bit, had here set him down again to walk. This usually
happened on their reaching the tops of the higher hills, or the heads of
the longer and more rugged hollows. Whenever they came to where the
ground was moist and the trail was left distinctly marked, Burl always
noticed that the boy's foot-prints were nearest those of the
slender-footed Indian, as if they had walked together side by side; and
by certain signs, similar to those he had observed at the first brook,
he knew that the same hand had carried the little fellow over all the
streams which ran across the trail. Nothing further happened to break
the monotony of the tramp till, after having left full many a mile of
tangled forest behind them, they came, late in the day, to where, a
little to one side, lay a dead eagle, stripped of its magnificent
plumage. Burl turned it over, and perceiving that the bullet-wound which
had caused its death was still fresh and open, he knew that the bird had
been brought down but a few hours before. Here again, clearly to be
distinguished from those of the others, were to be seen the traces of
the boy and the slender-footed Indian, still side by side, and going out
to the dead eagle, where they were repeated many times, as if these two
had lingered around the fallen monarch of the air, while the others
walked slowly onward.

Now the sun was gliding swiftly down the steep slopes of the western
sky, and long and somber stretched the shadows of the hills across the
lonely, unhomed valleys of the immense wilderness. Full many an irksome
mile of bushy dell and rocky hill and forest-crested ridge lay traversed
and searched behind them; untraversed and unsearched, lay as many more
before them. Where should the weary little feet find rest in the night
now coming on? The little birds had their nests, the little squirrels
their holes: should the forlorn little captive find where to lay his
head in those inhospitable wilds? And far away, at the door of her
desolate home, still sat the widowed mother, waiting and watching, her
eyes turned ever toward the perilous north. And there, at the foot of
the hill, the little log grist-mill, making the little log fort yet
sadder and lonesomer every hour, still went on humming and droning its
dolorous tune--a tune whose burden seemed ever to be, "What a pity! what
a pity! what a pity!"



Chapter VII.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL FIGURED ON THE WAR-PATH BY NIGHT.


By this time the sun was almost down. Since early morning, not a morsel
of food had Burlman Reynolds tasted, excepting the solid inch of bacon
at dinner-time, which, as he had bolted it half unknown to himself at
the moment, and in his trouble of mind had long since forgotten, could
hardly have had more effect in breaking his fast than had he merely
dreamed of eating a meal. A gnawing sensation under his belt now began
to warn him that it was high time he should be ministering to the wants
of the inner man. Aware that while out on the war-path he could not
safely trust to the tell-tale rifle for procuring food, he had, with the
foresight of a true warrior, fortified himself against future need, by
slipping into his ammunition-pouch, on quitting the fort, a double
handful of jerked venison. So, making answer at last to the call of
hunger--sons of Ebony are not wont to be tardy in answering such
calls--he drew out his prog, and without abating his speed, lest time be
lost, ministered to the inner man as he walked along. Nor did his
four-footed comrade-in-arms--who had an inner man also, or rather inner
dog, to be ministered to likewise--fail to receive a liberal share of
the store in hand. What was offered him, Grumbo took and ate grimly,
without any show of relish or satisfaction--merely, so it would seem, as
something not to be well dispensed with under the circumstances; perhaps
as a valuable means to the end they jointly had in view.

Our two adventurers had not finished their pedestrian supper till the
sun was set and twilight stealing on apace, deepening with its
glimmering shades the dusky shadows of the wilderness. Soon it was too
dark for the trail to be seen; nevertheless, they pushed on with
unabated speed, the hunter following his dog, the dog following his
nose. A dog's nose may be followed, and nobody made the victim of
misplaced confidence; and this is more than can be said of a man's nose,
which is always sure to be at fault from a cold, or out of joint in some
way, when the owner has nothing better to guide him.

The black hunter now moved with greater circumspection--lest stumbling
upon the enemy unawares, thus warning them of their danger, he should
cheat himself of the chances of war, which he could hope to hold in his
favor so long as he had concealment and secrecy on his side. So, while
the dog followed the invisible trail, he followed the scarcely visible
dog--kept a sharp lookout about him, expecting every moment to catch the
gleam of the Indian camp-fire from among the trees. But, as if to render
security doubly secure, the savages seemed bent on making a long day's
tramp of it, before allowing themselves to halt for refreshment and
repose.

At length the night was full upon them, with no light to guide them
through those trackless solitudes save the feeble glimmer of the stars
through the openings in the tree-tops; still not a sign of the flying
foe, whose unseen trail went evermore winding wearily on through the
tangled wilds. Now and then, from some distant quarter of the forest,
were to be heard the howling of wolves, abroad on their nightly hunt.
Then from an opposite quarter, but nearer, the dismal whoopings of the
horned owl would send their quavering echoes creeping among the
tree-tops, which, swaying to the night winds, filled the air with
noises, like half-formed whispers in the ear. Then the shrill cry of
the dingle-ambushed panther would ring out through the black stillness,
like the shriek of a terrified woman.

At one time, hardly had these sounds of evil omen died away, when, on a
sudden, there started up before them a tall shape, with long arms
outstretched, and all of a ghastly whiteness. The black giant stopped
short, fixedly staring before him--all in an instant weak as a
limber-jack, the whites of his eyes showing through the dark like
half-moons. The thing, there dimly seen in the dusk of the overhanging
trees, was, as superstitious fancy pictured it to the eyes of Burlman
Reynolds, the ghost of a white hunter who had been murdered and scalped
in that lonely spot by the barbarous Indians, and now, in his cold, cold
winding-sheet, was lingering around his bones, till some kind soul
should come along that way and give the precious relics Christian
burial.

Now, had Burlman Reynolds taken the second thought, he might have known
that, even had a white man been murdered there, and left on top of the
ground, his ghost would hardly be so unreasonable as to choose an hour
so unseasonable for making such an appeal to the living in behalf of the
bones; seeing it would be impossible to find the bones in the darkness,
covered up as they must be by leaves and grass, as bones usually are
under the circumstances--perhaps scattered far and wide by the wolves,
as bones are apt to be, if left exposed to ravenous animals of the kind.
All this, not to mention the slender likelihood that any one should be
coming along that way with a spade and pick-ax, at that time of night,
and so far from the settlements. Further, had Burlman Reynolds taken the
third thought, he might have known that even had the ghost of a slain
hunter been encountered then and there, he should be found taking his
nightly airing in a buckskin hunting-shirt, rather than in a
winding-sheet; woven fabrics of all kinds being still very scarce and
dear in the Paradise, Irish linen especially. Though the saying was
often in his mouth, Burlman Reynolds did sometimes fail to bear in mind
that "dare's reason in all things." But soon bethinking him of his usual
shift for reässurance on such occasions--his touch-stone, so to
speak--Burl turned to note what impression this grizzly shade of the
night was making on the steadfast mind of Grumbo. The dog was composedly
waiting for him a few yards in advance; his nose, that infallible index
of what was in the wind, turned straight before him in the direction of
real dangers, not of imaginary horrors, which--let them be met with
where they might--were rather to be sneezed at than sniffed at. Whereat
the black giant picked up heart enough to pick up a club and fling it at
the ghastly apparition, half expecting to see the missile pass through
without impediment, as missiles are wont to do under circumstances of
the kind. But the club was cheeked by substance as solid as itself, the
result being a sounding thump. Thereupon, eyes and ears comparing notes,
it was discovered that the thing of dread was nothing more than the
twisted and splintered stump of a storm-felled hickory-tree, the white
sap-wood whereof had been stripped of its bark by lightning.

"Pshaw! what a fool you is anyhow, Burlman Rennuls!" cried the Fighting
Nigger, fetching the individual addressed a heavy blow of the fist on
the breast. "Sich a everlastin' ol' fool, always a gittin' our nose out
o' j'int somehow, you don't know how; an' skeerin' at somethin' you
don't know what, that even a dog won't stop to smell at. Git out an' g'
'long!" And smarting under this stinging rebuke, the unlucky Burlman
Reynolds hastened to rejoin his dog, who, doubtless, was wondering why
his two-footed comrade should all on a sudden become so intensely
interested in a splintered stump.

Just here, I am reminded to say a few words with regard to a certain
trait in our hero's character--a trait not unfrequently to be noticed in
men of his color, but which, so far as I am aware, has never been made
matter of particular comment. Viewing himself from a point within
himself, Big Black Burl was wont to look at himself as made up of two
distinct individuals, who though having their home in the same body,
using the same limbs, and taking their observations of the outward world
through the same senses, were yet in his eyes quite different each from
the other. One of these individuals was called the "Fighting Nigger,"
the other went by the name of "Burlman Reynolds." The Fighting Nigger
was a man of great distinction, Burlman Reynolds a fellow of small
repute. When the two distinguished themselves, the Fighting Nigger
claimed the lion's share of the glory; but when they disgraced
themselves, then Burlman Reynolds must take the dog's share of the
blame. Now, this petting and humoring had spoiled the Fighting Nigger
not a little, making him arrogant and overbearing with his humbler self,
even to the extent at times of a threat to kick him bodily out-of-doors.
But Burlman Reynolds, the best-natured fellow in the world, perfectly
understood what all this fuming and puffing meant, and only laughed in
his sleeve thereat, knowing as well as anybody that after all the
Fighting Nigger was very much of a big humbug.

Hardly had they recovered their wonted balance after this, the mere
shade of an adventure, when the Fighting Nigger and Burlman Reynolds
were again brought to a stand by an apparition of quite a different
complexion. Less than twenty yards above them, on the side of a hill
they were now ascending, stood a dense thicket of low bushes, the ragged
edge of which showed in dim relief against the sky. Suddenly had risen
and vanished, and now suddenly rose and vanished again, what appeared to
be the plumed crests of three Indians, who were watching the black
hunter's approach, by fitful glimpses, from behind their place of
ambush. Dodging to one side behind a tree, the black giant cocked his
gun and planted himself firm and square on his moccasins, this time as
strong and sturdy from head to foot as a black-jack oak. These real
dangers, that might be met and vanquished with powder, lead, and steel,
had far less terrors for the Fighting Nigger than such empty shades of
the night as but now had sprung out at him from the foggy fancy of
Burlman Reynolds. But quickly bethinking himself again of his dog, his
touch-stone in every emergency where his own senses were at fault, he
cautiously peeped out from behind the tree. Perceiving again that Grumbo
was waiting for him with wonted composure, as if there was nothing in
the wind to sniff at, the Fighting Nigger was reässured, convinced that
the eyes and fancy of Burlman Reynolds had played him another trick.
What he had seen proved in reality nothing more than a leafy shrub,
swayed up and down by the night winds.

For many minutes past, the unseen trail had been leading them up the
brushy side of a long, slow hill, to whose summit a few more weary steps
now brought them. Here, for the first time since the chase had begun,
the brindled dog came to a halt of his own accord--stopping short, with
a deep, heavy growl, scarce louder than the purr of a panther. Burl
looked before him and caught from afar the glimmer of a camp-fire,
burning on the summit of an opposite hill. They had, indeed, at last
come up with the flying foe, but under circumstances far less favorable
to the execution of his plans than he had all along been proposing to
himself. The camp-fire was blazing brightly, as if it bad just been
kindled, or replenished with fresh fuel. Around it the savages were
moving to and fro, as could be seen by the shadows of their bodies cast
by the light, and, so far from having betaken themselves to rest, were
chatting away in high good humor, as might be guessed from their peals
of laughter borne faintly to the ear from over the valley lying dark and
deep between.

Aware that as matters stood at present the odds would be too largely
against him to allow of his bringing his adventure to a crisis just
then, Burl wisely resolved to wait till the savages, overcome at last by
fatigue, should yield themselves up to sleep--when, according to the
plan already cast in his mind, he would steal upon them, and by the
light of their own fire dispatch them with hatchet and knife, as
noiselessly as might be, one after another in quick succession, before
they could awake. But in order to fortify himself against desperate
resistance, should it come, he would himself take a little refreshment
and repose, the need of which, now that the long chase had come to a
pause, he felt beginning to press sorely upon him; accordingly, he
retired within the shadow of a spreading elm, which offered in its thick
foliage shelter from the dews of night, and in its mossy roots pillowing
for his head. Here, placing himself on the ground with his back against
the tree, he ate a few more slices of the jerked venison--Grumbo, of
course, receiving a comrade's share. Then, stretching his huge length
along the ground and bidding his dog stand sentinel while he slept, he
composed himself to rest--not doubting, son of Ebony though he was, but
that he could easily rouse himself before day-break, when, God willing,
he would work deliverance to his little master. And there lay Big Black
Burl asleep on his war-path.



Chapter VIII.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL FIGURED IN A QUANDARY.


A broad red glare, striking full upon his closed eyelids, and bringing
with it the alarming thought that Fort Reynolds had been set on fire by
an army of besieging Indians, roused Big Black Burl from the deepest,
heaviest sleep he had ever known. With a huge start he had scrambled to
his feet, and, blinded by the glare, was rushing out of his cabin, so he
thought, to rescue Miss Jemima and Bushie from the flames, when his foot
striking something soft and bulky, down with a tremendous squelch he
fell to the ground. The next moment, now wide-awake, he saw that he had
stumbled over his trusty sentinel Grumbo--when all the rest struck like
a lightning flash upon his mind, fell like a thunderbolt upon his heart.
Sad, sad to tell, the night, the friendly night, like a slighted ally,
was gone; and with it the golden chance for vengeance to the warrior,
deliverance to the captive. The day, the unwished for, the unprayed for,
the most unwelcome day, like a challenged foe, had come; and with it new
perils, tenfold risk of failure and disaster. "O Burlman Reynolds, born
of Ebony as thou wert, how couldst thou so far lose sight of the
besetting weakness of thy race, as thus, in a moment like this, on the
critical edge of hazard and hope, to trust thy limbs and senses to the
deceitful embraces of sleep? Black sluggard, avaunt! The Fighting Nigger
be upon thee!"

Full of the bitterest self-reproach, and with a feeling of
disappointment bordering on despair, Burl looked bewilderingly about
him. The newly risen sun, as if taunting him with the sorry miscarriage
of his well-laid plans, was winking at him with its great impertinent
eye, from over the hairy shoulder of a giant hill, upon whose shaggy
head stood smiling the beautiful first of June. Curling up lightly into
the clear morning air, from out a clump of lofty trees which plumed the
crest of the opposite hill, rose a slender column of smoke, betokening
the Indians already astir, and busy about their breakfast over the
rekindled camp-fire. Observing this, and that he was running some risk
of being discovered--if he had not betrayed himself already--Burl slunk
back into a thicket of papaw bushes which grew a a few paces behind him,
whence, with safety he might reconnoiter the enemy, and acquaint himself
with the nature of the neighboring grounds, if peradventure they must be
made the field of present operations.

At his feet, and putting an air-line of about four hundred yards between
his hill and the more commanding height where the Indians were camped,
ran a beautiful little valley, having its head among a cluster of lofty
hills, about two miles to the eastward, and open to view for about the
same distance to the westward, where it lost itself among another
cluster of hills. Its sides sloped smoothly down to the banks of a small
but deeply bedded river, which, though a stream of considerable volume
during the winter, was now so drought-shrunken as at intervals to ripple
over its rocky bottom, filling the valley with pleasant murmurings,
audible from the tops of the hills around. The slopes, for a mile above
and below, were nearly bare of trees, being covered instead with a
luxuriant growth of blue-grass, the peculiar green whereof was relieved
with pleasing effect by the rich purple bloom of the iron-weed, which in
dense patches mottled all the glade. If we may except the grass and
iron-weeds, which grew everywhere, and the clump of trees from out of
which was rising the smoke of the Indian camp-fire, the opposite hill
showed a bare front, and sloped steeply, but smoothly, to the edge of
the river, where it was snubbed short by an overleaning bank twenty feet
high.

To Big Black Burl, as a game-hunter, this valley-glade, with its verdant
slopes, affording the richest pasturage to the wild herds of the forest,
would have been a right delectable prospect; but to him as an
Indian-hunter, it was a sight disheartening enough, running, as it did,
square across his war-path, and seeming to offer scarce the shadow of a
shade for an ambush, without which it would be desperation itself to
push the adventure to the perilous edge. Judging from the general
direction he had traveled since quitting Fort Reynolds, and from the
length of time it had taken him to reach that spot, he guessed that he
must be within a very few miles of the Ohio River--and if he suffered
the savages to put that broad barrier between themselves and pursuit,
scarcely one chance in a thousand could be left of his ever being able
to overtake them and rescue his little master. Now, or never, must be
struck the telling blow. But how?

At one moment he felt an impulse--so desperate seemed the case--to dash
across the open valley, and scaling the untimbered height, right in the
face of the watchful foe, open a way of deliverance to his little
master; or, failing in the attempt, bring life to the bitter end at
once. But this was a thought not worth the second thinking. And in
another moment he had nearly determined to make a wide circuit, in order
to gain the rear of the enemy's stronghold. Perhaps by bursting suddenly
on them from that unexpected quarter, he and Grumbo, by the very
strangeness, not to say terribleness, of their aspect, with their
mingled howlings and yellings, might strike the Indians with such a
panic as to send them scampering, helter-skelter, down the hill, with
never a glance behind them to see what manner of varmints they had at
their heels--a man, or bogey, or devil. Thus, by a bloodless victory,
might they accomplish the chief object of their adventure--the rescue of
their little master; though, to the Fighting Nigger's taste, a victory
without blood were but as a dram without alcohol, gingerbread without
ginger, dancing without fiddling--insipid entertainment. This brilliant
stratagem, smacking more of Burlman Reynolds's lively fancy than of the
Fighting Nigger's slower judgment, was another thought scarce worth the
second thinking. After all their trouble, they might gain the rear of
the enemy's hill only to find the camp deserted, the Indians by that
time well into their canoes, far out on the broad Ohio, paddling
peacefully for "home, sweet home." Or, finding the enemy still there,
they might not find the woods and thickets to ambush in and burst out
from in the startling, overwhelming manner proposed, as the back of the
hill might be as bare of trees and bushes as the grassy breast before
him.

What, then, was to be done? O that treacherous, that thievish sleep,
which had robbed him of his golden chance! Should he perish in the
attempt to rescue his little master, what a sad account should he have
to render the dead father of the sacred trust confided to him under a
promise so solemn and binding! Or, should his little master, in spite of
his utmost efforts, be borne away into lasting captivity, how could he
return to tell the widowed mother that she was childless, though the
dear one, henceforth to be mourned as dead, had not yet gone to the dead
father? O that he had not slept! And with the big tears in his eyes,
bespeaking the dumb anguish of his heart, the poor fellow turned to take
another and a seventh survey of the valley, if haply he might not spy
out some feature of the ground which, hitherto unnoted and favoring
concealment, might enable him, without too great risk of detection, to
come at the enemy and the dear object of his adventure.

The seventh essay--as the seventh essay so often does--resulted in
bringing the fortunate turn. Suddenly a look, first of recognition, then
of glad surprise, made light all over that huge black face. Fetching his
thigh a mighty blow of the fist, the Fighting Nigger, abruptly and in
the most peremptory manner, called upon Burlman Reynolds, that
"sleepy-headed ol' dog," to come up and report what he had been doing
all this time with "dem eyes o' his'n." Failing to render satisfactory
account, that "eberlastn' ol' fool" was taken severely to task by his
superior, and ordered to hand over the organs in question to
somebody--the Fighting Nigger, say--who could use them to some purpose,
and find for himself, instead, a "pa'r uf specs." Smarting under these
biting sarcasms, Burlman Reynolds, that "blare-eyed ol' granny," retired
to the back part of the house to keep as much as possible out of the
way, while the Fighting Nigger, having now the undivided use of "our
eyes," proceeded to look about them, if haply something might not yet be
done to straighten "our nose," which that "balky ol' dog" had run into
the wrong hole and got knocked out of joint.

The particular object which had caught Burl's eye was a mammoth
sycamore-tree which, with two huge white arms outstretched, as if to
embrace a graceful beech directly in front of it, overhung the mouth of
a glen on the opposite side of the valley. This tree, by its
peculiarities of form and situation, had served to call up in his mind a
train of recollections which told him that he had seen that valley-glade
before--though, up to this moment, in his trouble and confusion of mind,
the remembrance of the circumstance had been dodging in and out of his
memory like a half-forgotten dream. All was now as clear us the
unwelcome daylight. Three or four years before he had visited this spot
with a company of white hunters, who, with Captain Kenton for their
leader, had come thither on a hunting excursion, and for more than a
week had kindled their camp-fire at night on the self-same hill where
now was burning that of the Indians whose footsteps he was dogging. The
mammoth sycamore he had the best of reasons to remember, for just there,
round and round its great hollow trunk, over and over its great gnarled
roots, he had then fought the biggest bear-fight of all his hunting
experience--forever excepting the one wherein Grumbo had proved himself
a dog of "human feelin's."

From the acquaintance with the neighboring country which that excursion
had enabled him to make, Burl knew that the glen marked by the leaning
sycamore ran in but about two hundred yards between the opposite hills,
where it divided itself into two prongs, the more easterly one of which
led up to a deep, dark dingle in the very core of the enemy's hill. On
that side, as he remembered, the hill was heavily timbered and
thicketed, thus offering excellent covert for ambush almost to the
summit. With this discovery, or rather reäwakening in his mind of what
he knew already, came a clearer perception of his surroundings, so that
he could now see how, without great risk of discovery, he could gain the
bottom of the valley by availing himself of a shallow gulley which,
furrowing the slope to his left, and fringed with grass and iron-weeds,
ran down to the bank of the river. A similar feature in the ground on
the farther side would favor him in gaining the mouth of the glen. He
now felt that his chances were again coming within the limits of the
possible; and for more than this--so fair did it seem, in contrast with
the apparent hopelessness of the prospect but a few moments before--he
would not ask, to brave the adventure to the crisis, still bristling, as
it was, with neck-or-nothing hazards. Let them but succeed in reaching,
undiscovered, the shelter of yonder glen, and all might yet go well with
Burlman Reynolds and the Fighting Nigger.



Chapter IX.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL FIGURED IN AMBUSH.


Bidding Grumbo follow, our hero once more set his face point-blank to
his adventure. Keeping a sharp eye on the enemy's height, he begun
making his way down the gulley into the valley--screening his movements,
as best he might, where the gulley was too shallow to conceal him, by
walking along in a stooping posture behind the weeds, or creeping along
upon his belly through the grass; Grumbo, with great circumspection,
doing likewise. In a surprisingly short time, considering this somewhat
inconvenient mode of getting over ground, they had made their way to the
hither bank of the river. But here they found themselves once more
brought to a stand. Directly in front, as Burl ascertained by throwing
in a pebble and noting the length of time between its sinking and the
bubble's rising, the stream was almost, if not quite, six feet deep. To
wade across, then go in battle with his garments all soaked and heavy
with water--a serious hinderance, as this must be, to the free and
lightsome play of his limbs--were but to give the nimble foe yet another
advantage over him, desperate being the odds already. To be sure, not
more than a hundred yards below the river was so shallow as to ripple
over the rocks, where he might easily make the fording all but dry-shod.
But there he would be in open view of the Indians, should they chance to
be looking that way; whereas, by making the passage from where he was
standing, he could throw between himself and them a small cane-brake,
which crowned the opposite bank a short distance above. Far rather had
the Fighting Nigger gone into the dance of death, rigged out in all his
martial bravery--his moccasins, his bear-skin leggins, his bear-skin
hunting-shirt, his bear-skin war-cap, and his war-belt with its gleaming
death-steel--guise so well beseeming the Big Black Brave with a bushy
head. But in a game so desperate, with objects so precious and dear at
stake, the indulgence of so small a vanity were another thought not
worth the second thinking. Therefore did the magnanimous Burl dismantle
himself at once. Aware that, in the coming contest, he should barely
have time to let fly the single bullet already in his rifle, when he
must take to his hatchet and knife, and that thereafter his powder-horn
and ammunition-pouch would be but hindering encumbrances, he divested
himself of these appendages, also laying with them his moccasins,
leggins, and hunting-shirt, in a pile together on the river bank. The
next moment, with Grumbo swimming, hand over hand, close at his side, he
was half way across the river, with nothing of him visible above the
dimpled surface but his enormous bear-skin cap, and his right arm
holding Betsy Grumbo high aloft to keep her priming dry.

The passage swimmingly effected, our two adventurers made their
reäppearance on the opposite bank, with their bulky dimensions brought
down by their wetting to somewhat lanker proportions--Grumbo with his
shaggy coat buttoned close about him, Burl with his buckskin shirt and
breeches clinging clammily to his body and limbs. But of his martial
rigging, the war-belt, with his tomahawk and hunting-knife, still
remained; the bear-skin war-cap, too, which once rammed down firmly upon
his head was never to quit that place, saving with the scalp it covered,
or with the successful winding up of his adventure.

Between him and the mouth of the glen lay a narrow strip of bottom land,
the crossing of which, overhung as it was by the very nose of the
enemy's lookout, would demand his utmost caution and address. Again
availing themselves of gully, weeds, and grass, to screen their
movements, and making their way through them as before, they succeeded
at length in gaining, undiscovered, the shelter of the glen. Here, under
the overhanging hill, Burl could walk upright, and that for the first
time since quitting the opposite rim of the valley, if we may except
when chin-deep in water he was fording the river. Down the glen, with
twisted current winding crookedly among the rocks, came bubbling a
little brook, thus serving to muffle the sound of the black hunter's
footsteps, as now with swift and powerful strides he ascended into the
depths of the hills. When he came to where the two ravines united to
form the larger glen, he took the more easterly one, which, as before
remarked, led up to a dingle just under the height where the Indians
were camped. For some distance back the trees and bushes, reäppearing,
had grown gradually thicker and thicker, till here they shagged the side
of the hill with deep and tangled shade. So Burl found the covert which
he had promised himself for a place of ambush--a shade profound as
night, through which, with snake-like secrecy, he could crawl to within
hissing distance of the enemy, and before discovery all but bite his
heel.

"Down, Grumbo!" said the black hunter in a deep under-tone to his dog,
not daring to trust him further in the adventure till he had brought it
to the critical edge. "You wait here tell you hears me holler, den come
a-pitchin', an' let yo'se'f in like de bery ol' Scratch, an' no stoppin'
to smell noses. Do you hear?"

The sagacious animal, as if perfectly understanding what was said to
him, and what his part of the work in hand was to be, crouched down like
a lion in the dark shadows of the dingle, there to wait until he should
hear his master's call. Then tightening his belt to make his knife and
hatchet more secure, and reassuring himself that Betsy Grumbo was in
tip-top "bitin' order," our hero addressed himself to the scaling of the
enemy's height. Half the ascent accomplished brought him almost to the
brow of the hill, where its slower slope abruptly ended in the steep
acclivity which he had just scaled, and here he could distinguish a
faint murmur of voices from above. He was slowly bringing himself over
the turn between precipice and slope, when a large stone, from which but
now he had lifted his foot, supposing it to be the projecting corner of
a ledge, slid slowly from its earthly socket, and with resounding din
went rolling down the steep. Whereat the murmur of voices above him
suddenly ceased, but with admirable presence of mind, while yet the
excited echoes were noising the thing from hill to hill, the black
hunter, to mislead the minds of the Indians as to the cause of the
uproar, mimicked the snarling growl of a wolf. Then he lay perfectly
still for several moments, not daring to venture farther till assured
that his cunning device had succeeded. After a brief space of silence,
which seemed to be spent in listening, the murmur of voices above him
recommenced, when he likewise recommenced his stealthy approaches. When
he had advanced so far as to be no longer able to walk upright without
risk of discovery, he threw himself prone on the ground, and like a
black-snake went crawling along on his belly, inch by inch, foot by
foot, yard by yard, warily, noiselessly, slowly--his rifle laid along
the hollow of his back. Thus painfully had he worked his way for more
than forty yards, when he found himself, almost unawares, at the very
edge of his covert. Here, peering through the leafy chinks, he could
plainly see the enemy, whose footsteps he had so long been dogging.

Yes, there they were--the three Indians--not twenty paces from Betsy
Grumbo's muzzle. Breakfast by this time ended, they were composedly
smoking their pipes, and, for Indians, chatting away quite socially, as
if in no hurry to be off on their day's tramp. The giant--for such in
fact he proved to be--whose foot-prints Burl had so gravely scanned
along the trail, was sitting on the ground at the foot of a tree; while
over against him, with the now smoldering camp-fire between, were his
two comrades, seated on opposite ends of a log. A little to one side lay
a slain buck, upon whose flesh they had supped the evening before and
breakfasted this morning. Against the log, leant side by side, between
the two smaller Indians, rested their three rifles; while their
hatchets, of which they had freed themselves to be the more at their
ease, were sticking deeply sunk into the tree above the giant's
head--their scalping-knives being the only weapons retained about their
persons. The giant, a savage of terrible aspect, was dressed in complete
Indian costume--his robe being richly decorated with bead-work and
stained porcupine quills, and where it showed a seam or border was
fringed with scalp-locks, brown, flaxen, and red, as well as
black--taken by his own hand from the heads of his enemies--the last
_agony_, doubtless, as the fashions had it among the swells in his
quarter of the world. Similar to this, excepting the _agony_, and that
it was newer and fresher, was the dress worn by the Indian who occupied
the farther end of the log; and when we add that the heads of both were
all waving with the gorgeous plumage of the eagle, we can easily fancy
that the appearance of these two must have been rather splendid and
imposing. Quite the reverse, however, as regarded the third savage, who
in a recent foray into the white settlements, having contrived to get
his pilfering hands on a new broadcloth coat, with bright metal buttons,
and a ruffled shirt, had added these two pieces of civilized finery to
his Indian gear--thus imparting to his whole appearance, which had else
been wild, at least, and picturesque, an air exceedingly raw,
repulsive, and shabby. To be sure, inharmoniousness of contrast was
beginning to be a little subdued by the dirt and grease of the wearer's
own laying on, the coat being no longer glossy and sky-blue, the shirt
no longer starchy and snow-white. Yet, notwithstanding his love for
Christian finery, the red heathen could hardly have had much love for
Christian people, as was evident from the fairhaired scalps which hung
at his girdle; and altogether he was as ugly and ferocious-looking a
barbarian as you would care to encounter on your war-path, should glory
ever lead you to travel such a road.

But Bushie--where was poor little Bushie all this time? Bound hand and
foot to a tree hard by, with scarcely freedom sufficient to draw his
breath or wink his eyes, his face all blanched with the despair of a
captive awaiting, in agonizing suspense, the hour of final and terrible
doom--all as dismal apprehension had been picturing it for the last
eighteen hours to the distressingly ingenious fancy of Burlman Reynolds?
O by no means! True it was, our little master was there, and a captive.
True, that since our last glimpse of him, where perched he sat on the
topmost rail of the corn-field fence back yonder, he had taken many a
pitiful, heart-broken cry, whenever the loved faces and familiar sights
of home had risen with sudden vividness before his remembrance. But just
at this moment, having followed up a sound night's sleep with a hearty
breakfast of venison, he seemed, like the healthy, stout-hearted urchin
he was, to have made up his mind not only to look, but keep, on the
bright side of things--the best way in the world of dodging the "slings
and arrows of outrageous fortune." Without the mark of a buffalo-thong
on ankle or wrist, to tell of captivity, the little man was running
about the hill, to all appearance as he list--his moving shadow dodging
hither and thither, as if it were a long-legged, short-bodied goblin
quizzically mocking his motions, or playing at hide-and-seek with him
among the trees and bushes. But Burl observed that the dear little
fellow, though left to his freedom, never came nigh the giant, nor the
grim savage in the ruffled shirt and blue coat, but always kept nearest
to him who sat on the further end of the log--the youngest of the three
Indian, quite youthful indeed, and of form and face exceedingly pleasing
and noble. In fact, between the young brave and the little captive a
friendly and familiar understanding seemed to have sprung up already;
for while the giant and other savage talked together, these two kept up
a lively confab between themselves, which, as neither could understand a
word the other was saying, must have been highly entertaining and
edifying to both. A few minutes before, while playing about the hill,
Bushie had found an old stone hatchet, and picking it up, had brought it
to his red friend to have him fit a handle to it, which the young brave,
with mingled pity and good humor, was now busy in doing--the edifying
interchange of thought and sentiment never ceasing for a moment. Had
Burl needed any further proof of the gentle, even indulgent kindness
with which his little master had been treated--at least by the young
Indian--there it was to be seen in the little coon-skin cap, stuck
thicker than even the giant's scalp-lock with the gorgeous plumes of the
war-bird.

All this, that has taken so long to describe, it took Burl but a glance
of the eye to discern, and as quickly to form his plan of attack. In the
first place, he must, with the one bullet already in his gun, dispatch
the two Indians who sat on the log. This advantage gained, he should, he
felt confident, then be able to cope with the giant on equal terms, full
six inches taller though he seemed to be where he sat just there, so
composedly smoking his war-pipe--not to mention his being freshly
victualed withal. But in order to deal this double blow, he needs must
shift his ground, so as to bring himself on a line with the two smaller
Indians--a movement, which to execute under the very skirts of a
quick-eared foe, would put him up to all the cunning and skill he was
master of. Nevertheless, for the sake of the great advantage it might
give him, he would risk the attempt. Between where he was and the point
he must gain the thicket was thin; so, silently, slowly, he backed
himself--feet foremost--into his covert again, thrice his length or
more, then veering away to the right, he began--head foremost--making
his second approach. On regaining the edge of the thicket, he found the
savages as he had left them, five minutes before--the two smaller
Indians on the log, and now on the same dead-line with himself--so
nicely had he calculated the distances. Then taking his gun from his
back--where all this time it had lain--he raised himself slowly to one
knee, and cautiously thrusting his weapon through the leafy twigs before
him, took deliberate aim at the body of the grim savage. His finger was
already on the trigger, ready to give the fatal pull, when Bushie
plumped himself down on the log beside the young Indian, thus bringing
his own little body in the same line with the deadly missile, which in
an instant more would have come whizzing out of the thicket. With a
disappointed shake of the head Burl slowly lowered his piece, to wait
till the little boy, led by his wayward humor, should quit the perilous
seat. But, becoming the more interested in what was doing for his
amusement--now that the hatchet was nearly ready for him--Bushie seemed
in no haste to quit the place. What if the savages should shift their
position?--then indeed the signal advantage he now held, and had been at
so much pains and had run so much risk to secure, would be lost, and the
Fighting Nigger again reduced to desperate straits. Would the boy never
move? And waiting and watching, Big Black Burl lay close in ambush.



Chapter X.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL FIGURED IN THE FIGHT.


Will the boy never move? To the black hunter, there lying in ambush, the
suspense was becoming all but insupportable. With an interest far more
intense than that of the boy did he watch the nimble fingers of the
young Indian, as the whittling task went on--the heavy-footed seconds
creeping draggingly by, and made, by the suspense, to seem as long as
minutes. At last the hatchet was handled and delivered to the impatient
Bushie, who, the moment he received it, sprung forward to try its edge
on the bark of a large walnut that grew a few paces in front of them.
That same instant, while yet the pitying, good-humored smile, with which
he watched the movements of the little captive, was still bright on the
young brave's handsome face, the ambushed rifle rang out on the quiet
scene, and with loud yells the two Indians fell over backward behind the
log, and after a few convulsive struggles, there lay as dead.

"I yi, you dogs!" And with this his battle-cry shaking the lonely wilds,
and finding echo in a deep-mouthed howl from the brindled dog in the
dingle below, the Fighting Nigger burst from his ambush, all the lion of
his nature now roused and rampant within him. Throwing himself with a
prodigious bound into the arena, on with huge strides he came, his
ponderous battle-ax in broad, bright circles gleaming high over his
head. "I yi, you dogs!"

With a terrible cry, half as a yell of astonishment, half as a whoop of
defiance, Black Thunder--the red giant being, in fact, none other than
that redoubtable Wyandot brave--leaped to his feet, and wrenching his
tomahawk from the tree beside him, hurled it, with a horrible hiss, full
at the shaggy front of this most unexpected, formidable foe. But, quick
of eye and strong of hand, the Fighting Nigger caught the murderous
missile on the head of his ax, and sent it ringing, like an anvil, high
up in the air. On he came amain, and with another lion-like bound had
planted himself square in front of his antagonist just as a second
tomahawk was on the tip of leaping at him, which he sent ringing after
the other, before it had quitted the red giant's grasp. Foiled again,
and seeing the ax uplifted, himself this time the mark for the impending
blow, Black Thunder, pushed to desperation, darted sheer under the
descending arm, thus bringing his shoulder under the handle of the
weapon, instead of his head under its cleaving edge, and causing the
force of the blow to be spent harmless on the ground behind him.

Then did those doughty giants close and grapple together in the wrestle
for life and death. The red giant had the advantage in height, if not in
weight; the black giant in strength of muscle, if not in suppleness of
limbs. Again, though not so good a wrestler, the red was better
breathed, while the black, though fighting in a better cause, had not
yet eaten his breakfast. So, when we come to weigh them fairly, it will
be found that the advantages which each had over the other made the
chances of war about nip and tuck between the black and the red.

Pushing and pulling, writhing and tugging and twisting, round and round
with whirl and fling they went--now over the logs, now into the bushes,
then driving right through the fire, and scattering the smoldering
embers broadcast over the ground, and everywhere plowing up great
furrows with their heels in the mellow soil. To the negro, with his
prodigious strength of arm, it was an easy matter to toss up the Indian
from the ground; but when he would essay to fetch the final fling, the
nimble savage, let his legs be ever so high in the air and wide apart,
was always sure to bring the very foot down to the very place to stay
his fall, though as quickly to jerk it up again, to shun the leveling
sweep of those enormous black feet, so persistently making at his
ankles. The combat had waged for many seconds without any decided
advantage gained on either side, when, chancing to glance over Black
Thunder's shoulder, Burl spied a new danger threatening him from quite
an unexpected quarter.

Though shot through the body and mortally wounded, the grim savage had
so far recovered his strength as to be able to drag himself to the
nearest rifle, and now, with the weapon laid on the log to steady his
aim, was covering the combatants therewith, awaiting the moment when,
without danger to his comrade, he could let fly, and thus beforehand
revenge his own death. Black Thunder perceiving this as soon, it became
at once the aim of each to keep the other exposed to the leveled
weapon--the negro to hold the Indian between it and himself as a shield,
the Indian to hold the negro sideways to it long enough to let his
wounded comrade steady his aim and fire. Time and again did each whirl
his antagonist round, point-blank to the threatened danger; yet as often
did the other regain the lost advantage. Burning to revenge himself
before his feeble spark of life went out, the dying savage, with his
fiery eyes glaring along the barrel, continued to shift his rifle from
side to side as the struggle shifted from place to place. The red giant
was on the point of covering the black giant between a tree and a log,
there for the telling instant to hold him fast, when a fierce growl was
heard in the thicket behind him. The next moment, swift to his master's
call, far swifter than would seem from the length of time it has taken
to describe the combat up to this point, the brindled dog leaped like a
little lion into the arena. No stopping to smell noses, or count them,
either, but with Bonaparte-like contempt of the cut-and-dried in
warfare, right at the throat of the wounded savage, with one long bound,
he sprung; and straightway there was a dying yell and the bang of a gun,
the bullet sent whistling away through the tree-tops. The dog had turned
the scale of battle.

This danger happily averted, Burl, finding it impossible to come near
enough to his antagonist "to lock legs or kick ankles," bethought him of
a stratagem by which, without much additional risk to himself, he might
end this long wrestle and gain a decided advantage. He would suffer
himself to be thrown. Once flat of his back on the ground--the ground,
where never by man of martial might had he yet been matched--he would
find it an easy matter, he doubted not, to bring the long, supple savage
underneath; and secure of this advantage, he should then have nothing to
do but to wind up his morning's work in the way that should please his
fancy best.

Accordingly, to play off his cunning device, he provoked his antagonist
to a push of unusual vigor; when, still within each other's arms, down
came the giant warriors, with an appalling squelch, to the ground--the
red above, the black below. But in a twinkling there was a Titanic
flounce, when behold, the black was above, the red below. Planting his
knee with crushing weight on the breast of his prostrate foe, the
Fighting Nigger felt for his knife with which to deal the final blow,
but found that in the struggle it had slipped from its sheath; and when
he would have seized and used the Indian's, that too was gone, lost in
like manner. Glancing round for some murderous stone or club, he spied
his ax, where it lay on the ground not three feet off to his right, and
tickling himself with the thought, with the lucky chance thus offered
of giving his work the finishing touch in tip-top style, he eagerly
reached out to gather it up; but before he could do so and regain his
perpendicular, the wary savage, snatching at his opportunity, gave in
his turn a Titanic flounce, which sent the already uplifted weapon with
a side-long fling into the air, and brought his foe the second time to
the earth. In a trice, however, the wheel of fortune had made another
turn, not only bringing the black again to the top, but both black and
red clean over the brink of the hill, whence, as elsewhere noticed, its
grassy slope sunk steeply but smoothly down to the edge of the river,
there ending in an overleaning bank twenty feet high.

Perceiving that he had lost his vantage-ground, upon the holding of
which depended the successful result of his stratagem, and that the
steep hill-side to which he had unwittingly shifted the struggle, gave
the long and nimble savage a decided advantage over him, Burl determined
to shift again. Desperate though it might seem, he would, by rolling
with him thither, bear his antagonist bodily down to the foot of the
hill, where on level ground once more, as he trusted, he should still be
able to make his stratagem go. To this intent putting forth all his huge
strength, he grappled yet closer with the Indian, locking his legs
around him as well as his arms. Then with a heave on his part, like the
roll of a buffalo-bull, unwittingly seconded by a big flounce on the
part of the savage, down the precipitous slope did these redoubtable
giants, leaving their wake to be traced by the weeds laid flat to the
hill, and hugging yet tighter and tighter, go rolling and whirling and
tumbling, over and over, each uppermost, undermost, all in a wink--till
over the river bank whirlingly pitching, they dropped, with a splash too
terrific to tell or conceive, into water full twenty feet deep. And a
smooth, round, ponderous stone, which the force of their downward career
had pushed from its seat on the hill, came rolling and leaping behind
them with frightfully growing momentum, and tumbled in after
them--plump! Verily, the wheel of fortune had never before made so many
turns in so short a time! Its axle fairly smoked as it rolled into the
water.

Tightly locked together in the mortal hug, as were the two warriors when
they vanished beneath the shivered mirror of the stream, the next moment
when the plumed crest of the red giant and the shaggy top of the black
giant heaved above the surface, it was found that they had put full
thirty feet of the river between them. Dashing the water from his eyes,
and seeing that the chances of war were still about nip and tuck between
them, the Fighting Nigger, with ardor all undampened by his ducking,
began, with long oar-like sweeps of his arms, manfully pulling again for
the foe; but too prudent to trust himself again within the ireful grasp
of the bushy-headed brave, and thinking, doubtless, that his
vantage-ground lay elsewhere than in water twenty feet deep, Black
Thunder began as manfully pulling for land. The negro had proved the
stronger wrestler; but the Indian, proving the swifter swimmer, was the
first to land, and to prevent his antagonist from landing, began beating
him back with stones. One of the missiles, better aimed than the rest,
brought the black hunter a sounding thump on his bear-skin war-cap,
where it still stuck fast and firm to his head, never to quit that place
but with the scalp it covered, or with victory. The blow, however, hurt
him no more than had his woolen knob been a messy pine-knot; though it
did send him with a quick dive to the bottom of the river, that he might
come up again at a more respectful distance.

Now, the Fighting Nigger, as we have seen, had calculated on finding,
not water, but good level ground at the bottom of the hill, where, in
his superior skill as a wrestler, he might regain the advantage he had
lost by shifting the struggle to the steep hill-side; but he was too
quick and expedient, and of too sturdy a spirit to be completely
staggered by any blow of outrageous fortune, even though it should be
backhanded and ever so unexpected. So finding that the tide of battle
was setting strong and stiff against him in the straits to which he had
brought himself, he held a short council of war with Burlman Reynolds,
his right-hand man, and promptly determined upon a new course of action.
In the first place, they must quit them of an element which offered so
few facilities for the dodging and avoiding of well-aimed missiles. This
accomplished, they must then bespeed them to the top of the hill again,
where two loaded rifles yet remained, in whose leaden bullets lay, as
they trusted, the golden chance of victory.

Just below the point where the two giants had made their involuntary
dive, the river-bank was crowned with a small cane-brake, whose roots,
striking through its overleaning edge, formed a ragged, yellow,
rope-like fringe, that hung down almost to the surface of the water. In
these roots, Burl saw a means of extricating himself from his present
predicament, and of escaping from the very enemy this self-same brake
had aided him in coming at the hour before. Accordingly, making a deep
dive, that under cover of the water he might unanticipated take the
first step in his new course of action, he came up a few moments after
directly under the brake, with an upward shoot that brought him within
reach of the rooty fringe. Grasping a bunch, he began drawing himself
up, hand over hand, at the same time widely gathering in the ropy mass
with his knees, not only to expedite his climbing and reënforce his
arms, but to lessen the strain on the smaller bunch, which could be
grasped but by his hands. He had made but half the ascent, when becoming
aware that the enemy had silenced his battery of stones, he glanced over
his shoulder, still climbing, to discover the cause, and found to his
dismay that his design had been frustrated. Black Thunder was seen
running with prodigious swiftness along the opposite shore, to cross the
river at the shallows about one hundred and fifty yards below, where the
bank, losing its jutting feature, allowed of an easier passage, though
less direct than that his black antagonist had chosen. The ascent was
effected quickly enough, considering how desperate and novel the means.
But by the time the negro had drawn himself over the bank and forced his
way through the break, the Indian had come dashing over at the shallows,
and now was seen running across the narrow strip of bottom land which
down there the river, in making a bend, had left between itself and the
foot of the hill.

Now followed an uphill race more desperate, if that were possible, than
the downhill roll. The black giant was nearer the goal, but the red
giant had longer and nimbler legs, which made it again about nip and
tuck between the black and the red. Leaving their tracks to be traced by
great handfuls of iron-weeds, caught at and uprooted in the scramble, up
they struggled, with might and main, and with feet that could not
quicken their speed, however fear might urge or hope incite. Panting and
all but spent, the two giants gained the top of the hill at the same
instant--Burl nearest his ax, where it lay on the ground, Black Thunder
nearest his gun, where it leaned against the log. Five long strides more
and the Indian had laid his hand on the loaded weapon, when having
snatched up his ax, the negro hurled it with engine-like force at the
savage, the ponderous head striking him full on the hip and sending him
sprawling to the ground. Burl was making all speed to recover his
weapon, this time, with its cleaving edge, to deal the death-blow
without fail, when, before he could do so, Black Thunder, though
powerless to walk or stand, whirled himself from under his victor's
uplifted hand, and with a few gigantic flounces had regained the brink
of the steep. Burl sent his battle-ax after him with a right good will,
though not with right good aim, the missile merely inflicting a flesh
wound in the enemy's arm. The next moment, with a loud whoop of defiance
and scorn, Black Thunder had flung him away sheer over the brink of the
steep. Hastily snatching up one of the Indian's rifles, Burl ran to the
brow of the hill, and taking deliberate aim at the rolling body far down
there, fired. Up came ringing a cry--a death-yell, so it would seem, so
fierce it was, and wild and drear. The moment thereafter, now rolling
with frightful rapidity, over the river bank vanished the Wyandot
giant.



Chapter XI.

HOW LITTLE BUSHIE FIGURED IN THE FIGHT.


But Bushie--where was poor little Bushie all this time? The moment the
fight had begun the boy, to keep clear of the conflicting giants, had
run with the speed of a frightened fawn to the shelter of the
neighboring thicket. Here, crouched down and peering out through the
openings of his covert, he had watched with fearful interest how
manfully and against such desperate odds his brave, his faithful Burl
had battled for his deliverance--his little heart sinking within him
whenever the combat seemed to be going against his champion. And when
the two giants, still locked together in the death hug, had rolled to
the foot of the hill, and he had seen his darling Burl's bare, yellow
soles, with a wide-wheeling fling, go vanishing over the river-bank,
then had the poor little fellow given up all as lost and cried as if his
heart would break. But when, some minutes after, he had spied the
bear-skin cap he knew so well heaving above the purple iron-weeds far
down there, then had he plucked up heart again. Now that the fight
seemed ended, with victory won and deliverance wrought, he was on the
point of running out, in the joy and thankfulness of the moment, to
seize his precious old chum by the hand, when a new danger, from an
altogether unexpected quarter, suddenly presented itself and checked him
in the act.

The Fighting Nigger was still standing on the brow of the hill, and with
his empty gun still sighting the river-bank where Black Thunder had
vanished, when all in the self-same instant he heard a cry from his
little master, a growl from Grumbo, and the venomous hiss of a tomahawk
which grazingly passed his nose and sunk with a vengeful quiver in the
trunk of a tree beside him. Wheeling about, he saw the young Indian
confronting him, and with his scalping-knife brandished aloft, in the
act of making a panther-like spring upon him. The bullet which had
passed through the body of the grim savage had pierced the young brave's
left arm and spent its remaining force on his ammunition-pouch, the
inner side of which, being made of thick, tough buffalo-hide, had stayed
its further progress--though the shock had been so severe as to lay him
senseless many minutes. Consciousness and the power of motion returning
to him at the close of the fight, he had leaped to his feet, and by
reason of the wound in his left arm disabled from wielding a rifle, had
snatched up the nearest tomahawk to hurl that at the Big Black Brave
with a Bushy Head, where he was still standing on the brow of the hill,
peering through his rifle smoke at the river-bank below.

Up to this moment Grumbo had kept his powerful jaws clenched
unrelentingly on the throat of the dead savage; but seeing the new
danger threatening his master, he had at last released his hold, and
with a growl and a bound was at the enemy's skirts, which he seized with
a violent backward tug, just as the tomahawk was on the point of being
hurled, and with a force and an aim which else had sent the black giant
rolling in his turn to the bottom of the hill. Again had the war-dog
turned the scale of battle in his leader's favor.

"I yi, you dogs!" And with his battle-cry resounding again through the
lonely wilds, the Fighting Nigger threw himself on his new antagonist,
whom the invincible Grumbo still held back by the skirts, and wresting
the scalping-knife from the young brave's hand, bore him with
resistless force to the ground--Indian, nigger, and dog, all in a
huddle together.

"Han's uff, Grumbo!" For the war-dog, now that his blood was up, could
hardly be restrained from falling tooth and nail on the prostrate foe.
"Han's uff! You's chawed up one uf de varmints; jes' let Burlman Rennuls
wind up dis one. Han's uff, I say; or I'll----." And with this the
Fighting Nigger made a sham thrust with the knife at his comrade's nose,
which forced him to fall back a few paces, where he sat doggedly down on
his tail, with the injured air of a faithful follower who had been
defrauded of his dues.

Big Black Burl looked down on the young Indian brave: the young Indian
brave, with unflinching bright, black eyes, looked up at Big Black Burl.
Slowly the victor raised the murderous knife aloft, his eyes still bent
on the young brave's face, and seeing there something that made his hand
less swift than was its wont in dealing the death-blow. But the knife
was on the point of descending when Bushie came running up to the spot,
crying out in beseeching accents as he came: "Don't, Burl, don't kill
that one! Please don't!"

This stayed the uplifted hand, and glancing around at his little master,
Burl, with a look of great surprise, exclaimed, "W'y, Bushie, taint
nothin' but a Injun!"

"But that one was good to me, Burl."

"A red varmint good to a little white boy! Git out!"

"Yes, but he was, Burl. That one," pointing to the dead savage, "was
going to split my head open with his hatchet, when this one," pointing
to the young brave, "ran up to him and pushed him away from me, and said
something to him loud and mad which made him look scared and mean."

"What did de big Injun do to you, Bushie?" inquired Burl, now lowering
the knife.

"He didn't do nothing to me but look ugly at me, when this one would be
toting me on his back across the creeks and up the hills."

"Which one uf de varmints was it, Bushie, dat gobbled you up frum de
corn-fiel' fence, back yander?"

"That one," with a look toward the dead savage. "This one," with a nod
toward the young brave, "didn't want him to do it, I know he didn't,
because he walked on by talking to the other and shaking his head. And
when the other got tired of toting me and wanted to kill me, then it was
that this one ran up and took me away from him. Then he led me by the
hand till I got tired, then toted me on his back till I got rested. And
that's the way he was doing all the time. And when I got so tired and
sleepy I couldn't walk any longer, he took me up in his arms and carried
me so far, I don't know how far, through the dark woods. Then when they
stopped he gave me something to eat and made me a bed of pawpaw limbs,
and laid me down to sleep and slept by my side. And all the time he
wouldn't let the others come a-nigh me. And see here, Burl, what he gave
me," flourishing his old stone hatchet with a new handle before the eyes
of the still incredulous Burlman Reynolds. "And this, too," displaying
his little coon-skin cap, all splendid with the glory of the war-bird.
And with these visible proofs to back it, Bushie wound up his eloquent
little appeal.

"Did de young Injun shoot de eagle down yesterday whar you got dem
fedders?"

"Yes, and put them in my cap this morning."

The black hunter glanced over his shoulder to get a glimpse of the young
brave's lower limbs and reässure himself that this was the one who had
left the slender foot-prints along the trail, side by side with which
had always appeared those of the boy. Slowly then rose the victor to his
feet, and like a black Colossus, standing astride his prostrate foe,
remained for many moments profoundly silent, as if lost in thought, and
uncertain, under circumstances so unexpected and peculiar, what course
he should pursue.

Never, since that unhappy night two years ago, had he lifted his hand
against an Indian; but that remembrance of his master's cruel death,
with the wail of the widowed mother and her fatherless child, had risen
before him, making his aim the surer, his blow the heavier. But here was
a new experience, calling for a new course of action. True was it that
his old master had been inhumanly treated by this people, but no less
true that the life of his young master had been preserved, in a signal
manner, too, by one of the same hated race. If he had owed vengeance for
the first, did he not now owe gratitude for the last? If, up to this
moment, he had been swift to meet the claims of vengeance, should he not
now be as ready to meet the claims of gratitude? The lion of him was
fast going to sleep within him; the Newfoundland of him was fast
becoming awake. And looking down at the young brave between his feet,
Burl attentively scanned him.

On hearing the voice of entreaty at his side, the young Indian had
turned his eyes from the face of our big black hero, and perceiving by
the boy's looks, tones, and gestures that an appeal was making in his
behalf, had fixed them earnestly on the face of our little white hero,
as if willing to look there for mercy, though disdaining to ask it of
the giant victor under whose grasp he lay. Now that he had taken a good
long look at him, Burl could not help being in some sort struck with the
wild and singular beauty of the young brave's whole appearance. Then
came back to his remembrance the pitying, good-humored smile, with which
the little captive had been regarded, as they had sat so sociably
chatting together on the log. Here the lion went fast asleep, and the
Newfoundland grew broad awake. Scratching his back with the knuckle of
his thumb, as was his habit in moments of perplexity, he at length
turned to his little master and broke the painful silence thus:

"An' is my little man shore de red varmint was good to him, an' toted
him on his back?"

"Yes, indeed, that I am!" replied the boy with glad eagerness, now that
he saw the light of mercy beginning to shine in the victor's eye. "And
if you don't let him up, I'll bellow like a buffalo-bull, so I will; and
won't never love you no more, so I won't." Generous little runaway.

"An' would my little man like fur us to take de young Injun home wid
us?"

"Yes, indeed, that I would!" The little man was delighted at the
thought, but immediately added, "If he would like to go." Considerate
little runaway.

"An' s'posin' ef he wouldn't; what den?"

"Then let him go home to his mother." Filial little runaway.

"I yi, my larky!" cried the Fighting Nigger, with an emphatic snap of
finger and thumb, then added: "But Bushie, why didn't you holler fur me
when de dead varmint ober yander gobbled you up?"

"Because he slipped up behind me while I was watching the squirrels and
crows, and before I knew it clapped his hand over my mouth."

"Ah, Bushrod, Bushrod!" with a sad shake of the head; "didn't I tole you
dar's Injuns in de woods wid stickin' knives an' splittin' tomahawks fur
bad little boys as don't mind der mudders an' runs away frum home an'
hain't got nothin' to say fur 'emselves but beca'se? Heh, didn't I?"

"Yes, you did!" acknowledging the fact with sheepish frankness.

"Well, ef I let dis young Injun up, will you eber do de like ag'in--run
away wid de red varmints an' make yo'r pore mudder mizzible?"

"No, indeed; that I won't! 'Indeed, and double 'deed,' I won't!" his
eyes now filling with tears. Remorseful little runaway.

"Lef' her settin' dar, I did, at de doo'," continued Burl, now
modulating his voice into a sort of dolorous tune: "pore mudder all by
herself at de doo'. Couldn't speak a word, couldn't walk a step, so
mizzible--so onsituwated, fur dar she's a-settin' yit, I know, a-lookin'
an' a-lookin', a-prayin' an' a-prayin', to see her pore ol' nigger
comin' home a totein' her pore little boy on his back. How could you,
Bushie, how could you leave yo' pore mudder so onsituwated? I wouldn't
be 'stonished----"

"O don't, Burl! Please don't; it hurts me so--it nearly kills me!" And
with the loved pictures of home--the motherly face, with its white cap;
the mother's bed, with his own little trundle-bed underneath; the table,
with its white cloth folded and laid upon it; the hickory-bound cedar
water-bucket, with its crooked handled gourd; the red corner-cupboard,
with its store of Johnny-cakes and cold potatoes for quiet enjoyment
between meals; old Cornwallis; the red rooster; the speckled hen; the
yellow tomcat--with all these loved images passing with sudden vividness
before his remembrance at the sound of the old home voice in that lonely
place, the delinquent Bushie, now thoroughly penitent, lifted up his
voice and wept aloud. "The little sinner had come to his milk." Yes,
though a runaway, he had in him the good, sound stuff for making the
good, sound man. Burl remained silent for some moments, that wholesome
repentance might have its way and start the penitent toward the better
life; then, making a big pretense of yielding the point, and wishing to
hide, under a show of obedience to his baby superior, what he deemed an
unwarrior-like weakness of feeling, he wound up the matter thus: "Well,
Bushie, dar's reason in all things. You's my little marster, I's yo' ol'
nigger. Bein' yo' ol' nigger, I mus' do what my little marster tells me
to do, an' let de young Injun up. But mind you now, I'm doin' it beca'se
he was good to my little marster. But who'd a thought it was in de red
rubbish to do de like?" And with this closing observation, spoken in an
under-tone, and meant only for the private ear of Burlman Rennuls, the
Fighting Nigger stepped from over the prostrate foe, giving, as he did
so, a wide, upward wave of the hand, with a huge, upward nod of the
head, which said as plainly as ever had chivalry said it: "Vanquished
warrior, rise and live!"

The young Indian rose to his feet, and going directly up to his little
preserver, shook him with gentle earnestness by the hand, evincing in
the simple act and the look attending it the utmost thankfulness of
heart, mixed with respect and admiration. Then he went to the log,
against which still leaned a loaded rifle, and was picking it up when
Burl, suspecting treachery, sprung forward to frustrate the hostile
design. But too quick for him, the young savage gathering up the weapon
and wielding it in his right-hand, discharged it into the air. Then,
with grave composure, as though he had not noticed the movement of
alarm, he surrendered the empty rifle to his victor, in token of his
entire submission; though, as he did so, he pointed to Bushie, his
captive but the hour before, thus signifying that he wished to be
regarded as the prisoner of his little preserver.

Without seeming to know what he was doing, Burl took the rifle and,
resting it on the ground, stood motionless for many moments, staring
fixedly at the young Indian with a look of unqualified astonishment and
unmitigated bewilderment, as if his senses had told him something that
had given the lie to his leading and abiding conviction--that eternal
truth embodied in the words, "Dar's reason in all things." Burlman
Rennuls was in a fog; the Fighting Nigger was in a fog; in a fog was the
entire man of Big Black Burl.



Chapter XII.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL AND GRUMBO FIGURED AFTER THE FIGHT.


Now, it had always been the Fighting Nigger's belief--creed, so to
speak--that Indians, though possessed (by some strange chance or
mischance) of the power of speech, with a few other faculties in common
with colored people and the rest of mankind, had, nevertheless, neither
souls nor human feelings. According to his view, they were a sort of
featherless biped-beast--an almost hairless orang-outang, with short
arms and long legs, having an unquenchable thirst for human blood; whom,
therefore, it was the duty of every Christian body--black, yellow, and
white--to shoot down and scalp wherever they were to be found on top of
the earth. But the creed he had so long adhered to, fought for, and
gloried in had now on a sudden been knocked, picked, and crumpled up
into a cocked hat by this young barbarian, whose conduct in the
nobleness of soul it had displayed was utterly unlike any thing he had
ever witnessed, heard of, or dreamed of, in this race. Big Black Burl
took off his bear-skin war-cap, for the first time since quitting home,
and with the back of his sweaty hand wiped his sweaty brow, put the cap
on again, and from under its shaggy shadow took another look at the fog.

"U-gooh!" exclaimed the Fighting Nigger, at last so far recovering the
power of speech as to be able to force an unspellable interjection
through the nose; at the same time scratching his back with the knuckle
of his thumb. "Neber seed de like in all my bo'n days. 'Pon my honor,
ef dis young varmint don't carry on like a white man: couldn't a done
dat thing mo'e ginteel'y myse'f. Burlman Rennuls"--jumping at
solutions--"dar's black or white blood in dis young Injun; shore's you
bo'n, dar's black or white blood in dis young Injun. Ef dar' wusn't he
wouldn't be gwine on dis way like a white man--min', I tell you!" And
Burlman Rennuls walked out of the fog; the Fighting Nigger walked out of
the fog--out of the fog, into the clear, unmisted light of reason,
walked, by a short cut, the entire man of Big Black Burl.

Thus satisfied in his own mind that, let the matter be viewed on either
side--the black side or the white side--there existed a kindred tie
between himself and the young Indian, not to mention the debt of
gratitude each owed the other, the Fighting Nigger felt that for once in
his life he might, without soiling the skirts of his honor, or lowering
the plumes of his dignity, play the familiar and brotherly with the red
varmint. So, going up to the young brave, who the while had stood with
his bright eyes fixed on some invisible quarter of the morning, our
colored hero, with a bland condescension of manner that would have done
a white man infinite good to see, shook his captive heartily by the
hand. Then, with awkward carefulness, he took the wounded arm of the
Indian between his fingers, to ascertain the extent of the injury done
by his bullet. No bones were broken, but the flesh-wound inflicted by
the ball--flattened and jagged as it was by its passage through the grim
savage--was found to be ugly and painful enough. "Betsy Grumbo bites
pow'ful hard when she gits a chance," remarked Burl, after inspecting
the wound with critical narrowness for a few moments. "Well, jes' wait a
bit, an' I'll see what I kin do for you." So saying, he went and
divested the dead savage of his ruffled shirt, which he tore up into
narrow strips, wherewith to bandage the crippled arm. For Burlman
Rennuls, you must know, was quite a dab at surgery; his skill in that
line having been called into frequent requisition by the mishaps of old
Cornwallis, who seldom got through the unlucky quarters of the moon
without snagging his legs; and also by the wounds which the heroic
Grumbo had received in hunting and in war.

While thus humanely engaged, his fluent tongue went on, and on, and on.
Sometimes he would address his remarks to Burlman Rennuls, enlarging
upon the valorous deeds and distinguished abilities of the Fighting
Nigger--such signal proofs whereof he, Burlman Rennuls, had that day
enjoyed the rare pleasure of witnessing. Then he would throw out some
side hints, meant only for the private ear of the dead savage, relative
to the incompatibleness of blue coats and ruffled shirts with the pure
Indian costume--that unlucky individual being admonished that
thereafter, if he did not wish to be thought a dirty, sneaking,
low-lived thief, he would do well "to stick to his raggedy rawhide tags
and feathers." Oftener, though, the black surgeon would be making some
comment touching the matter more immediately in hand--seeming to take
more interest therein than the patient himself, who, Indian-like, could
hardly have manifested less concern in what was doing for his relief
than had the wounded limb been hanging to some other man's shoulder, and
he but an accidental spectator of what was passing.

When the wound was bandaged, or rather bundled up, the young Indian,
improvising a sling of his ammunition-pouch, slipped his arm in between
the straps--this being the first notice he had apparently taken of his
own mishap.

"Now, as you's fixed up an' feelin' easy an' good, me an' Grumbo will
take a bite o' somethin' to eat: hain't had our breakfas' yit, an'
hungry as dogs. So, you an' Bushie jes' set heer on de log, while we
look about us fur some grub. Den we'll all go a-p'radin' home togedder,
arm-in-arm."

The smoldering camp-fire was rekindled, and a dozen long slices being
cut from the fat young buck upon whose flesh the savages had broken
their fast, it was not long before the appetizing smell of savory meat
broiling on glowing embers began to fill the air, provoking the hungry
mouth to water. But Big Black Burl, though colored and dressed in
buckskin, was quite too much of the natural gentleman to suffer a morsel
of food to enter his own mouth--water as it might--until he had
discharged his duty as host toward their captive, who, being such, must
needs in some sort be their guest. So, he took a choice slice of venison
on the point of his hunting-knife, and going up to the young Indian
where he sat on the log, offered it to him with magnificent hospitality,
at the same time showing the whites of his eyes in his blandest manner.
The captive guest, however, with a courteous wave of the hand, declined
the proffered food, inasmuch as he had broken his fast already. The
steak was then offered to Bushie, who, though he had breakfasted too,
did not with a courteous wave of the hand decline it, but took and ate
it, every bit--not that he was hungry at all, but so delightful did he
find it to be eating again with his precious old black chum. Unwilling,
in the joy and thankfulness of his heart, that his red friend should
remain a mere spectator to their pleasant repast, the generous little
fellow, getting the loan of Burl's knife, took another choice steak, and
with his own hand offered it to their captive guest. This time--glad to
do any thing in the world to please his little preserver--the young
Indian accepted the proffered hospitality, and taking the venison, ate
it with much appearance of relish.

Now, you must know that after a battle fought and victory won, it was
Grumbo's wont to indulge himself in a little brief repose, which he
would take stretched out on the ground, with his shaggy head laid,
lion-like, on his extended paws--betraying, in both attitude and look, a
sober self-satisfaction so entire as made it seem that for him the world
had nothing more to offer. But this morning, notwithstanding the
successful, even brilliant, winding up of their great adventure, our
war-dog, instead of unbending as usual, held grimly aloof from the rest
of the party, still seated on his tail, to which he had retired,
snubbed, in the very flush of victory, by his ungrateful leader.
Evidently our canine hero had got his nose knocked out of joint.
Nevertheless, he failed not to maintain a wary though distant watch over
the movements of the young Indian, whom, being the sort of game they had
always up to this moment hunted to the bloody end, he could not but
regard with a jealous and distrustful eye. From time to time, by way of
giving him a piece of his mind, he would cast side-long at his master a
look of severe reproach, unqualified disapprobation. Plain was it that
to his dogship's way of thinking it was a very bungling fashion of doing
business, thus to suffer this red barbarian to pass from under their
hands, untouched by tomahawk or tooth--betraying, as it did, a weakness
of feeling altogether unbeseeming warriors of the first blood like
themselves. Therefore did his excellency doggedly keep his tail, nor
would he unbend, so far as even to sniff at--though hungry as a
nigger--the raw meat which, without measure, his master had laid before
him.

Observing the offended and distant demeanor of his comrade-in-arms, and
knowing that he sometimes showed a civilized preference for cooked meat
over raw, Burl roasted one whole side of the buck and threw it before
him, hot and smoking from the embers, hoping that this might win him
over and tempt him into a more sociable and gracious humor. But his
dogship had been too deeply offended to be so easily appeased; and let
the savory fumes of the smoking dainty curl round and round his watering
chops as temptingly as they might, he would not deign to stoop and
taste. Seeing that he still stood upon the reserve--sat on his
tail--Burl at length began to have some misgivings as to whether he had
dealt altogether fairly by his right-hand man, to snub him as he had in
the very moment of victory, which but for the injured one had never been
achieved. So, he went and stripped the head of the slain savage of its
scalp, which, with its long braided lock and tuft of feathers, he tied
securely to the back of the war-dog's neck just behind the ears. This he
did with the assurance that although they had won the trophy conjointly,
yet in consideration of the gallant services which he--Grumbo--had that
day rendered their almost hopeless cause, would he, the Fighting Nigger,
resign all claim thereunto in his comrade's favor, and allow him to
enjoy the undivided honor thereof, as he so richly deserved. Then the
"captain explained to his lieutenant"--for with these titles the white
hunters often coupled them--how matters stood between them and their
Indian prisoner, but for whose humanity they had never found their
little master alive. Having enlarged upon this point, the captain wound
up his apology--for such the explanation was, in fact--with the promise,
backed by the Fighting Nigger's inviolable word of honor, that as soon
as they had squared the debt of gratitude under which this young
barbarian had laid them, then would they go on doing up business in the
good old orthodox fashion as before. More than this, that hereafter,
whenever any of the red "varmints" should fall into their hands,
he--Grumbo--should be allowed to throttle and tumble, tousle and tug
them to his heart's content. All this, so gratifying to a warrior's
pride, seemed to have the desired effect in appeasing the wounded
dignity of his dogship, as was apparent, first by his bending his nose
to smell, then stooping his head to taste, and at last by his coming
bodily to the ground and falling tooth and nail upon the juicy roast
before him, which now he could venture to do without great risk of
burning his mouth.

By this time the dewy half of the morning was well-nigh spent, and if
they would reach the shelter of the distant station by the going down of
that day's sun, it was high time they were up and away on their homeward
tramp. But Big Black Burl could not think of quitting the spot without
taking with him every thing--weapons, accouterments of war, scalps,
prisoners of war, not to mention the rescued captive--that might bespeak
a battle fought and victory won, and that could set off and give edge to
the triumphal entry he anticipated making that evening into Fort
Reynolds. The whole settlement--nay, the whole Paradise from end to
end--should ring with the noise of his grand achievement. To be sure,
with respect to the prisoner of war, his little master, with that
fellow-feeling which makes us wondrous kind, had said but the hour
before, "Let him go home to his mother." But our hero, colored though he
was, had far too genuine a love of glory ever to allow an opportunity
for the indulgence of his passion to escape him, no matter at what
expense it might be to others, in life, liberty, and dearest affections.
And here again, and for the third time, may we liken the Fighting Nigger
to Alexander the Great, to Napoleon the Great, or, more fitly still, to
his great-grandfather, Mumbo Jumbo the Great, the far-famed giant-king
of Congo. By the way, I am just here reminded that I have forgotten to
state, and much to my surprise, that Big Black Burl was believed
throughout the Paradise to be the great-grandson of the great Mumbo
Jumbo, and as such was in verity the case, the remarkable character of
our hero admits of plausible explanation. Who Mumbo Jumbo really was I
must confess that, with due respect to authentic history, I am not
exactly prepared to affirm; though that he must have been a man of
immense consequence in his day was fairly to be inferred from the fact
of his having made in Africa a noise so loud as to have been heard, a
full half century afterward, beyond the Alleghany Mountains--that, too,
by a people so far behind the times as to know nothing whatever of even
so redoubtable a man as Baron Munchausen.

But to return to our war-path, and be just. The Fighting Nigger had no
thought of using the life, liberty, and dearest affections thrown by the
chances of war upon his mercy, excepting so far as to take his prisoner
home with him as a trophy of victory; which done, then should he be
allowed to return to his own people, bird-free, without the loss of a
feather. As he had not killed the Indian, how could he without gross
violation of the rules of civilized warfare take his scalp? And without
scalps to show for proof, let him but dare blow his own trumpet, and he
should be blazed throughout the land as a windy, lying braggart.
Therefore, as neither party in question could quit that place without
the scalp--the one having a natural right, the other a belligerent right
to the same--expedient was it that the party who enjoyed but the natural
right should be taken bodily to the settlements, there to appear as a
living witness to that prowess in arms which had brought him under the
conquering hand of the Big Black Brave with a Bushy Head. Now you can
understand what the Fighting Nigger meant, when, in answer to his little
master's "Let him go home to his mother," he had, with a snap of his
finger and thumb, exclaimed in Anglo-Congo lingo, "I yi, my larky!"

Accordingly, Burl gathered up all the weapons and accouterments of the
vanquished foe, where they lay scattered about the top of the
battle-hill, sticking the hatchets and knives about his middle and
hanging the powder-horns and ammunition-pouches from his shoulders. The
three Indians' rifles he tied together and gave to his prisoner to
carry, a burden he would hardly have laid undivided on the wounded youth
had he not foreseen that his little master, when weary of walking, must
needs be getting upon his back from time to time to ride till rested.
Then Betsy Grumbo being put again in biting order and shouldered, the
little party started forward on their homeward tramp--the young Indian,
at a sign from his captor, going on a little in advance, Grumbo coming
on a little in the rear, while Burl and Bushie walked hand in hand
between. The war-dog had regained his wonted grim self-satisfaction, as
could be seen by the iron twist of his tail over the right leg, and by
the peculiar hang of the lower lip at the corners as if he carried a big
quid of tobacco in each side of his mouth. Nevertheless, he still
maintained a wary watch over their red captive, whom he continued to
regard with undiminished jealousy and distrust, and to whose living
presence in their midst he seemed determined never to be reconciled.

Gaining the foot of the hill by an easier route, though less direct than
that by which the two giants had reached it, they found there the traces
of blood, which, reddening the grass at short intervals, marked the
turns made by Black Thunder's body after receiving the bullet sent after
him from his own rifle.

"Ugh!" exclaimed the Indian; and that was all.

"U-gooh!" exclaimed the negro, and a great deal more to the like
purpose.

Burl would have given his war-cap, the trophy of victory over the bears,
and gone home bare-headed--nay, bare-headed the livelong summer--could
he by that sacrifice have secured the scalp of the Wyandot giant, so
greatly did he covet this additional trophy of his victory over a
warrior so renowned. But the body was nowhere to be found, all traces of
it vanishing at the brink of the river-bank. The party crossed the
stream at the shallows, then ascended the opposite shore to where our
two adventurers had made the passage an hour before the battle. Here
Burl called a halt of a few moments, that he might resume his martial
rigging left there, and give himself an appearance more becoming a great
warrior returning home to receive the honors which his valor had won for
him on the field of scalps and glory. And such was the morning of that
ever-to-be-remembered first of June, 1789.



Chapter XIII.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL FIGURED IN HIS TRIUMPH.


"What a pity! what a pity! what a pity!" the little log mill still went
on saying to the little log fort, and making the little log fort yet
sadder and lonesomer than had it held its peace, and not tried so hard
to play the comforter.

From noon to noon, with a dreary night between, hour after hour passed
heavily, wearily by. And there, at the door of her desolate home, still
sat the widowed mother, waiting and watching, her eyes turned ever
toward the perilous north--waiting and watching as only those can wait
and watch whose hearts are telling them that any hour may bring them the
tidings that all they hold most dear on earth is lost to them forever.
In homely kindness and sympathy her neighbors strove to comfort her, and
rouse her from the lethargy of grief into which she seemed to be
sinking. They forgot how little mere words of condolence, however tender
and pitying, can avail, until the stricken heart, having taken in its
full measure of sorrow, can begin to accommodate itself to the new
presence, and be brought once more to feel that although much is lost
still more remains for gratitude and peace.

Toward noon the next day the hunters, who had gone out in pursuit of the
savages, weary and sad returned to the fort. After parting with Burl,
they had not ascended more than a mile into the hills, when the larger
trail made its reäppearance on the banks of the more easterly of the two
forks, whose united waters formed the little river which turned the
mill of the settlement. Rejoining their parties, they had renewed the
chase with spirit, the trail now leading in a direct line toward the
Ohio, whose banks they had reached at sunset, and just in time to send a
volley of bullets after the fugitives, who, however, before the pursuers
were up with them, had regained their canoes and put a broad stretch of
the river between themselves and the perilous shore. The hunters had had
a clear view of the Indians as they landed on the opposite side, and
having made sure that there were no white prisoners among them, they had
given over the chase, convinced that the unfortunate Bushie must have
been borne away in some other direction by the three Indians whose
traces had been discovered at the corn-field fence, and lost sight of in
the larger trail. One chance more, however, remained to them: Big Black
Burl was still abroad, and so long as that faithful and courageous
fellow kept the war-path, good reason had they for hoping that all yet
might end well.

The sun was nigh his setting; a few more far-reaching winks of his great
bright eye and he would be sinking behind the evening hills of green
Kentucky, and rising above the morning hills of China. Already had the
horses and cattle--as was the custom of the times when Indians were
known to be across the border--been brought for the night within the
shelter of the fort. Already the ponderous wooden gate was swinging
creakingly to on its ponderous wooden hinges; but just as its ponderous
wooden bolt was sliding into the ponderous wooden staple, out from the
neighboring forest ringing, with echo on echo, it came--the old familiar
cry, the trumpet-call to battle abroad, the note of brotherly cheer at
home: "I yi, you dogs!"--too jocund and triumphant for any one whose
ears had caught the glad sound to doubt that glad tidings were coming.
Straightway reöpening the gate and looking forth, the hunters spied,
moving toward them through the bushes in the edge of the woods, first
the plumed crest of an Indian warrior, then a more spreading display of
bright feathers, so high aloft that one could fancy they topped the head
of a giant full eight feet high, who came treading close behind. For a
few moments this was all that could be seen; till now, full over the
ragged skirts of the forest, there in open view, they came--the young
Indian in front, with his load of rifles laid across his arm; then Big
Black Burl, bristling all over with hatchets and knives; and lastly,
with a consequential twist of the tail and with the plumed scalp-lock of
an Indian waving over his neck, the invincible Grumbo bringing up the
rear.

And there, triumphantly borne aloft on the shoulders of our big black
hero, his sturdy young legs astride his deliverer's neck and dangling
down in front, bare and brier-scratched, his arms clasped tightly around
the bear-skin war-cap, his own little coon-skin cap all brave with the
pride of the war-bird--there sat our little white hero, that self-same
runaway Bushie, whose froward legs had so well-nigh carried him to
death's door, and on whose account a whole settlement had been unsettled
from dinner-time yesterday till supper-time to-day. But what a shout
that was which at this sight went pealing up from the fort to the sky,
went pealing down from the fort to the mill, which, just at this moment
received the reserved water upon its wheel, and all on a sudden,
clearing its wooden throat with a squeak, ceased droning, "What a pity!
what a pity!" and fell to singing, in double-quick time, "What a
naughty! what a naughty! what a naughty!" Some of the hunters ran in to
bear the poor mother the joyful tidings, some ran out to meet and
welcome the returning conqueror, while others opened the gate to its
utmost width to let the conqueror in. On they came, vanquished and
victor; Bushie grinning at them from over the head of the Fighting
Nigger; the Fighting Nigger grinning at them from over the head of the
Indian; and the Indian, with dignified composure, looking the whole
white settlement full in the face. Without a halt, right through the
gate-way they drove, "like a wagon and team with a dog behind," to use
the conqueror's own expressive words; nor could words have expressed
more, had they told of the rumble of chariot-wheels. Hardly were they
over the sill when, to bring the triumph to a climax, here, followed by
all the women, and children, and dogs, screaming, shouting, barking,
laughing, crying--those gladder who cried than those who laughed, those
gladder who barked than those who shouted--came running Miss Jemimy, to
meet them.

Turning his back square on his mistress, the conqueror let the rescued
treasure tumble bodily from his shoulders into the eager arms, upon the
yearning bosom. With incoherent expressions of endearment to her darling
boy, of thanks to their brave and faithful servant, and of praise to the
merciful Father of all, the widowed mother clasped the lost and found to
her heart, being in turn all but choked and smothered by the hugs and
kisses of the delighted Bushie. Then, hand in hand, they hastened to
their cabin and shut the door behind them with a timbersome bang, which
said as plainly as a puncheon-door, with oaken hinges and hickory latch,
could say any thing, "Let us have the first hour of recovered happiness
to ourselves." It was a sight for which full many a stern, hard eye that
saw it grew for the moment the brighter, if not the clearer; and Burl,
though he made a manful effort to keep it back, was forced to yield the
point and let it come--the one big sob of tender and grateful feeling,
which, sending a quiver through his huge frame, made his martial rigging
shake and jingle like the harness of a whinnying war-horse.

The hunters now gathered round the hero of the day and called upon him
for an account of his adventures since parting with them at the forks of
the river the day before. He told his story modestly and briefly enough,
being well aware that there were those among his listeners far more
learned in wood-craft than himself, and more skilled in the arts and
stratagems of Indian warfare. Too magnanimous was he, though, to pass so
briefly over the part his prisoner had played in the matter, dwelling at
some length on the gentleness and humanity with which the young Indian
had treated his little master. When he had ended, the white hunters, one
and all, came up to him and shook him heartily by the hand, pronouncing
him an Indian-fighter of the true grit--a compliment, in the Fighting
Nigger's estimation, the highest that could be paid to mortal man,
black, yellow, or white. Then, going up to the young Indian, who,
leaning on his rifles, had stood the while with his bright eyes fixed
serenely on some invisible quarter of the evening, they, one and all,
shook him, likewise, as heartily by the hand--a dumb but eloquent
expression of their grateful sense of the humanity he had shown their
little friend in his hour of helpless peril and piteous need. The young
brave received the demonstration with dignified composure; not, though,
as if he had expected it, for, at the first greeting, he did lose his
self-possessed reserve so far as to betray a little sign of great
surprise.

While our big black hero was narrating their adventures to the hunters
without, our little white hero was giving his version of the same to his
mother within--a medley of facts and fancies, where it was about nip and
tuck between his old black chum and his young red friend as to which
might claim the greater share of the juvenile gratitude and admiration.
Being gently reproved by his mother for his naughty behavior, which had
been the cause of so much trouble and distress to them all, the young
transgressor, for the first time in his life without the help of a
switch to make him feel and know the error of his ways, besought his
mother's forgiveness; only just let him off for that one time and he
never, never would run away with the Indians again as long as he
lived--winding up the comforting assurance with a cub-like hug, to make
the surer of clearing his legs of the switching he felt he richly
deserved.

Having heard the rigmarole from beginning to end, and from end to
beginning, and then from middle to middle again, and gathered therefrom
that he to whom she owed her dear boy's life was wounded, Mrs. Reynolds
sent Bushie with word to Burl to bring the young Indian to her door.
When they were come, she made a few inquiries of Burl himself with
regard to their adventures, and when answered, she bid him go and bring
a keeler of water, that they might wash and dress the prisoner's wound.
When the water was brought, she took off the bloody bandages from the
crippled arm and gently laved and washed the wound, which by this time
was much inflamed and swollen; then anointing it with some
healing-salve, she bound it up again with clean bandages. This humane
office duly done, the good woman bid Burl take the young Indian to his
own cabin, there to be lodged and entertained with all hospitality till,
healed of his wound, he should be able to shift for himself, when he
should be allowed to return in peace to his own people.

And as his mistress bid him did Burl right willingly do playing the host
in magnificent style, and setting before his captive guest the best his
house afforded, not suffering a morsel to pass his own or Grumbo's lips
till the claims of hospitality were fully met. This last, however, was a
piece of etiquette not at all to the war-dog's taste, since two hungry
Christian mouths were thereby made to water, and that too only out of
respect to a red heathen, who, as such, in his dogship's opinion,
deserved no better treatment at their hands than a common cur. Therefore
did Grumbo harden his heart all the more against the red barbarian,
holding him in worse odor than before.

Victor and vanquished were still at their friendly repast when all the
ebony of the settlement--to the number of about thirty, men, women, and
children--came flocking to the Fighting Nigger's cabin, and stood
gathered in a close, black knot at the door, waiting with eager ears to
hear the great event of the day from the hero's own lips; nor with eyes
less eager to get a peep at the prisoner of war, a "live Injun"--a sight
that some of them had never seen before. Their wonderment was much
excited to see how a red varmint could drink _its_ water from a tin
instead of needing to suck it up from a trough, like a horse; how _it_
could eat _its_ meat with a knife and fork, bite by bite, instead of
gulping it up whole, like a dog; and how _it_ could do many other things
in the civilized, human way, which they had supposed peculiar to "black
people and white folks." Supper ended, mine host filled and lighted his
own pipe, and blandly showing the whites of his eyes, offered it to his
captive guest. The captive guest, with a graceful acknowledgment,
accepted the pipe, and with grave decorum began smoking, sending out the
puffs at slow and regular intervals, and looking straight before him;
sometimes at the curling smoke, then, through the smoke, at the opposite
wall; then, through the wall--for so it seemed--at some object on the
other side of the Ohio River, miles away in the gathering shades of
evening. Once he turned his bright eyes full on the clump of shining
black faces at the door, and scanned them attentively, though seemingly
with as little consciousness of their living, personal presence as were
they but so many stuffed specimens of their kind piled up there for
exhibition. But glancing downward and spying three or four little
woolies peeping fearfully at him from between the legs of the larger
ones--the stride of the legs perceptibly widened "to give the little
fellows a chance"--then did the young brave discharge a puff one second
before its time, sending it with a force that carried it in a straight
line to the bowl of the pipe before it began to rise. But for this, you
would hardly have thought that the Indian had seen any thing that seemed
to him alive or human or funny.

"Cap'n Rennuls, stop yo' monkey-shines ober de red varmint in dar, an'
come out an' git up an' make us a speech," at length said one of the
ebony brotherhood at the door, promoting our hero on the spot, and
adding a still higher title to the illustrious list already coupled with
his name.



Chapter XIV.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL FIGURED IN ORATORY.


Accordingly, the Fighting Nigger came forth, still bristling all over
with the trophies of victory and spoils of war--the three Indian rifles
now added to the rest. Mounting a low, wide poplar stump directly in
front of his cabin, he proceeded to give his colored brethren a
circumstantial account of all that had happened to him in the course of
his late adventure. As if the wonderful reality were not enough to
satisfy any reasonable lover of the marvelous, he must needs lug in a
deal that had not happened to him in the time, and never could have
happened at any time to anybody, excepting giant-killers,
dragon-fighters, and the like, whose exploits, though never witnessed by
mortal eye, have made such a noise in the world of fancy, fog, and
moonshine. Though he could confine himself to facts with modest brevity
when speaking of his achievements to white people--as we have already
noticed--the Fighting Nigger, it must be owned, was something of a
long-winded boaster, with a proneness to slide off into the fabulous,
when blowing his own trumpet for the entertainment of his colored
admirers, who bolted whatever monstrosity he might choose to toss into
their greedy chops. But let us be just. It was with no direct intention
of hoaxing or deceiving his hearers that he played the fabler; it was
simply a way he had of holding up a magnifying-glass, so to speak,
before their eyes, that he might help them to bring their imaginations
up to his own idea of the wonderful reality.

As the romancing went on, Grumbo, who had taken the stump likewise, sat,
with grim dignity, upon his haunches at his master's side, to lend his
countenance to the matter under consideration; presiding, as it would
seem, as chairman of the assembly. That such was the view he took of his
present position was evident from his manner; for, ever and anon, when
he saw their audience staggering under some marvel tossed too suddenly
into their gaping mouths, our chairman would fetch the stump a ratifying
rap of the tail, which said more plainly than his lips could have said
it: "A fact, gentlemen--fact. On the word of an honest dog, that, also,
strange though it may seem, is as true as all the rest my comrade has
told you. I myself was present and had a hand in the matter; therefore
ought I to know."

Now and then the speaker would be interrupted by his excitable listeners
with some exclamation of wonder, horror, incredulity, derision, pity, or
the like--which, being in Anglo-Congo or ebony lingo, must needs be
unintelligible to many of my readers. Therefore, for the enlightenment
and edification of the unlearned, have I thought it best to give a list
of the interjections and phrases in question, with the definition or
free translation of each, ignoring etymologies as smacking, just here,
of pedantry:

GLOSSARY.

GIT OUT--A cry of good-humored derision.

SHUCKS--Pshaw; nonsense; fiddle-sticks.

O HUSH--"You are too funny;" "You are too smart;" "You are a fool."

I YI--Hurrah; bravo; bully; well done: coupled with "my larky,"
equivalent to "Catch me at that if you can."

HOO-WEEP (followed by a whistle)--Expressive of unspeakable
astonishment.

OHO--A cry of exultation, translated into "Goody, goody!"

LAUS-A-MARCY--Shocking; horrible; dreadful: "My wool stands on end with
horror."

GOODNESS GRACIOUS--Used in a similar sense to the above, though in a
milder degree.

TSHT, TSHT, TSHT--An unspellable sound, produced by applying the tip of
the tongue to the palate with a quick suck at the air, repented three
times; translatable into, "What a pity, what a pity!" "O dear, O dear!"

LETTIN' ON--Making a pretense of; feigning; hoaxing.

H-YAH, H-YAH, H-YAH--Ha, ha, ha.

U-GOOH--An unspellable interjection pronounced, or rather produced, by
closing the lips and sending the sound through the nose, either forcibly
and suddenly with a quick taper, or the reverse with a quick, short
swell; or beginning gently, no bigger than a knitting-needle, and slowly
swelling to a certain degree, then suddenly flaring, like the mouth of a
dinner-horn. In short, varying according to the feeling or thought to be
expressed. Perhaps in the ebony lingo there is no word so frequently
used, and in senses so various, as U-gooh. Rendered into English, some
of the sentiments expressed thereby are the following: "Admirable!"
"Wonderful!" "O how nice!" "O how good!" "You astonish me!" "I admire
you!" "I highly commend you!" "I applaud you!" "I am listening--pray
proceed!" "What you tell me is very strange, nevertheless I believe
you!" "I have no words to express what I feel, therefore can only say,
'U-gooh!'"

What our black Munchausen told the ebony wonder-mongers of his great
adventure before and after the fight was such a jumble of marvels and
horrors as were hardly fitting to appear in a sober book like ours,
pledged to confine itself to possibilities, if not to facts. Where the
narrative should have been truest, if truly told, there the narrator was
wildest, drawing freely upon his imagination to fill up the wide gaps
between the few conspicuous incidents marking its setting out and
winding up. Gap number one was made interesting with bears; gap number
two, lively with panthers; gap number three, thrilling with wolves; and
where the war-path led into the shades of night, there the woods were
alive with ghosts. We shall, therefore, make our dip into the medley
just at that point where the narrator, having brought his listeners all
agape to the hazardous edge of ambush and battle subsides into the
possible; the story now rising of itself into the wonderful, and having
no great need of exaggeration or embellishment to make it spicy.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Betsy Grumbo," ses I to my gun, "you mus' put lead through two ob de
varmints on de log, ef you cain't through all four." Bang barks Betsy;
up jumps all de Injuns, two falls back dead behin' de log, two goes
runnin' down de hill a-yellin' as ef de Ol' Scratch wus arter 'em wid a
sharp stick. ["H-yah, h-yah, h-yah!" Audience.] "I yi, you dogs!" says
I, lungin' out uf de bushes. "Whoo-oop!" yells big Injun, a-jerkin' his
tommyhawk out uf de tree and flingin' it whizz at my head. I knocks it
away wid my ax an' drives on. Here comes anudder a-whizzin'. Knocks dat
off, too, still a-drivin' on at 'im. "I yi, you dogs!" Anudder tommyhawk
ready to fly. I knocks dat out de big Injun's han'. Big Injun jumps
back'ards, I jumps for'ards, my ax high up an' ready fur a cleaver. No
chance fur big Injun; ef he starts to run, it's a split in de back; ef
he jumps to one side, it's a gash in de neck. De cleaver's a-comin'
down, when here, wid a duck uf de head, comes Injun right at me, his
shoulder under my arm. Down draps de ax, a-stickin' in de groun' atwixt
his heels. Bes' thing he could a-done fur hisse'f--cunnin' as a fox.

Den, ladies an' gen'lemen, we clinches, an' away we goes a-plungin' an'
a-whirlin'; through de bushes an' through de fire, roun' an' roun' de
logs, roun' an' roun' de trees, roun' an' roun' de hill. Now I tosses
'im up tel his heels kicked de lim's uf de trees, he's so long; but
eb'ry time I thinks I's gwine to bring him down kerwollop, down he comes
wid all his feet under him, like a cat. Activest thing I eber seed--he's
so long. Den he picks me up an' shakes me, dang-a-lang-a-downy-yo, as ef
I's nothin' but a string-j'inted limber-jack. But when I at's him ag'in,
to lock legs or kick ankles, dar he's 'way off yander, a-tippin' it on
his toes, like a killdee. No gittin' a-nigh him, he's so active, he's so
long.

By an' by I happens to look 'roun'. Dar's de dead varmint in de blue
coat an' ruffled shirt up ag'in, wid his gun on de log, an' p'intin'
right at my ribs. "Ouch!" ses I, an' flings Black Thunder atwix. Black
Thunder flings me back fur de pop. Back I flings him ag'in atwix. Den
him me ag'in, me him ag'in, an' all de time de dead varmint a-follerin'
us wid his gun, waitin' to pop my flanks. So, de dead varmint kep' me
watchin' so close, an' de live varmint kep' me movin' so fas', I didn't
know what I's doin', couldn't tell whar I's gwine. Dar I was, rammed
close up in a corner atwix a tree an' a log; no gittin' out, no flingin'
big Injun atwix. Dead varmint takin' his aim--finger on trigger, ready
to pull. "Burlman Rennuls," ses I to myse'f, "you's a goner," when dar
comes Grumbo a-pitchin'--no stoppin' to smell noses. One long lunge he
makes, one long, stretchin' lunge--sich a lunge I neber seed a dog make
befo'. 'Peared as ef he'd lef' his hin' parts way back yander, to git de
quicker at de varmint's throat wid his fo'parts. Back falls Injun, wid a
kick an' a yell; off goes gun, wid a kick an' a bang, the bullet
a-whizzin' right 'twix' our noses. "Ouch!" ses I. "Ugh!" says Black
Thunder. [Audience: "I yi!" "Oho!" "U-gooh!" See Glossary. It may have
been a coincidence, but just here Grumbo fetched the stump a ratifying
rap of the tail.]

Ah! ladies an' gen'lemen [patting his comrade-in-arms on the head], you
don't know how glad I wus to see dat dog. An' white folks say dat
Grumbo's got no humin feelin's. Git out! Den I takes a long bref, Grumbo
still a-holdin' fas' to de dead varmint. "Burlman Rennuls," says I to
myse'f, "de big Injun's too active fur you--too much like a cat fur you.
You cain't throw him down, but you kin let him throw you down; an' once
a-flat uf yo' back on de groun' you kin wollop him ober as easy as
turnin' a pancake, den chaw him up any way you please." So, I pushes him
hard--he pushes me back still harder--when down we comes, kerwollop,
chug--nigger below, Injun on top. But, in de shake uf a sheep's tail,
nigger comes up, Injun goes down. I grabs fur my knife. It's
gone--slipped out in de scuffle. Big Injun grabs fur his knife; dat's
gone, too. He jerks out his pipe an' breaks it in flinders ober my head.
"Ouch!" says I. I looks roun' fur somethin' good fur beatin' out brains,
an' dar lays my ax. I grabs it up, now ready fur a cleaver, an' no
mistake. Big Injun ain't, though; he ain't ready fur any sich a thing.
Up he comes wid a whirl, an' down I goes wid a fling, my ax a-flyin' way
out yander. But in de wriggle uf a buck's tail comes up nigger ag'in;
goes down Injun ag'in. Yes, an' a leetle mo' dan dat: nigger an' Injun
clean ober de turn uf de hill, an' now a-slidin', slidin' down whar it
wus steep as a house-ruff.

"Burlman Rennuls," ses I to myself, "whar you gwine? Dis ain't de sort
uf groun' fur you. You cain't manage de Injun here on de steep
hill-side--he's too active fur you; he's too long fur you; he's too much
like a painter fur you. Git to a lebel country, Burlman Rennuls; git to
a lebel country quick as you kin." Den I hugs him up tight in my arms,
an' locks him up tight in my legs, an' 'way down de steep hill, rollin',
rumblin', an' tumblin' we go--fus' nigger on top, den Injun'--ober an'
ober, fas'er an' fas'er. [The orator revolving his fists one round the
other with increasing rapidity.]

"Burlman Rennuls, whar you gwine?" Don't know whar, but dat we's rollin'
fas'er an' fas'er, an' dat we's startin' de rocks to rollin' too,
a-hoppin' an' pitchin' behin' us as ef dey's in fur a frolic. Now we's
all in a whirl down dar at de foot uf de hill, an' no lebel
country--nothin' but a leanin'-ober river-bank forty foot high. "Burlman
Rennuls, whar you gwine?" Don't know whar. But ober we pitches
a-whirlin' [throwing out one of the revolving fists at a tangent]--down
we draps into water full forty foot deep, kerslash; de rocks a-pitchin'
in arter us thick as hail. [Audience: "Laws-a-marcy!" "Goodness
gracious!" "Hoo-weep!" (with a whistle). After an impressive pause the
speaker, with an impressive gesture, resumed his exciting story.]

Now, ladies an' gen'lemen, you's thinkin' dat's de las' uf Burlman
Rennuls, an' dis his ghos' up here on de stump a-talkin' to you. 'T
ain't so: Burlman Rennuls pulled out; pulled out, I say. Ef he didn't he
wouldn't be up here a-tellin' you uf it. I ups an' looks roun', big
Injun ups an' looks roun'. I pulls fur big Injun, big Injun pulls for
lan'. Bes' swimmer; gits dar fus', an' ter keep me from landin' too,
'gins beatin' me back wid rocks, wid no more kunsideration fur de
feelin's uf a gen'leman dan ef I'd been a shell-backed tarapin. Whack
comes one uf de rocks on my head. "Ouch!" an' down I dives. "Burlman
Rennuls," ses I to myself, down dar in de bottom uf de riber, "whar ar'
you come to? Not whar you started to go. Dis ain't yo' lebel country.
Dis won't do. Big Injun too much fur you in water. Git out uf de water
quick as you kin. Two loaded guns up dar on top uf de hill. You scratch
out an' git de guns, an' yo' day's work's ober."

So, I ups ag'in; an' dis time under de leanin'-over bank, whar de
cane-brake wus, de roots uf de brake a-hangin' down 'mos' to de water.
Now comes de rocks ag'in, as thick as hail. Grabbin' de cane-brakes, up
I goes, han' ober han', han' ober han'. De rocks stop flyin'. I looks
behin' me to see fur why. Dar goes Black Thunder drivin' 'cross de riber
down at de riffle, makin' de water fly befo' him like a runaway hoss. O
my little marster! Up I goes, in double-quick time. Half way up I sees a
painter a-grinnin' down at me frum a tree on de bank. Didn't like his
looks, but climbed on.

[Here the speaker was interrupted by a voice from the audience: "Cap'n
Rennuls, see yer now; ain't you lettin' on?"]

You g' long! Who stops fur painters in a pinch like dat, or any thing
else? Ef I'd turned back den would I be here now to tell you uf it? Git
out! So, painter, or what not, up I scrabbles, ober de bank wid a tug,
an' through de brake wid a squeeze, tel dar I wus at de foot uf de hill.
O my little marster! [A woman's voice in the audience: "Tsht, tsht,
tsht! Pore little feller!" See Glossary.]

Up we goes a-scratchin'; pullin' at de bushes an' weeds an' grass ter
help us 'long, an' tearin' dem up, like flax on a rainy day. Injun has
furder ter go, but longer legs ter go wid. So he gits ter de top uf de
hill as quick as me--him nighest his gun, me nighest my ax. He's
reachin' his han' out fur de gun, my han' 's on my ax a'ready, an' at
him de ax goes whizzin', an' pops him plump on de hip, an' ober he
tumbles. I runs to pick up my ax, dis time ter give de tough varmint a
cleaver, or neber. He can't run, he can't crawl; but he kin wollop, an'
wollop he does, like a rooster wid his head cut off. In de flash uf a
gun-flint, dar he's wolloped hisse'f to de turn uf de hill. I sends my
ax wid a good-by arter him, an' gives him a gash in de arm to 'member me
by. He sends me back a grin an' a whoop, an' away big Injun goes rollin'
an' tumblin'. I grabs up a gun--his own gun it was--an' sends him a long
far'well. He sends back a yell--de o-f-f-ullest yell I eber heerd in all
my bo'n days; offul enough ter come frum a grave-yard. Out comes
spirtin' de blood, a-flyin' frum de rollin' body like water frum a
flutter-mill. Down to de foot uf de hill a-whirlin' he goes, tel ober de
bank uf de riber he pitches. An' dat's de las' I sees uf big Injun.
[Audience: "I yi!" "Oho!" "U-gooh!"]

"Burlman Rennuls," says I to myself, still p'intin' my gun at de bank,
"yo' day's work's done." But hain't hardly said it when, "Burl, Burl!"
ses Bushie; "Bow-wow," ses Grumbo; and "w-h-izz," ses a tommyhawk,
grazin' my nose an' stickin' itse'f in a tree by my side. [Here hurling
the identical tomahawk over the heads of the wincing listeners and
sinking it in a tree behind them. "Goodness gracious, Bu'lman Rennuls,
how you skeer a pusson!" exclaimed a finical female voice in the
audience. It may have been another coincidence, but just here Grumbo
fetched the stump another ratifying rap of the tail.]

I wheels about, an' dar's t'udder dead varmint up on his legs an'
a-comin' at me wid his knife, but Grumbo holdin' him back by de
coat-tail. "I yi, you dogs!" an' at him I go--grabs his knife, clinches
his throat, when down to de groun' we come--Injun, nigger, an' dog,
dog-fashion, all in a pile togedder.

["Cap'n Rennuls," said a voice in the audience, "ef de varmint wus a
dead one, how could he do all dat like a live one?"]

You g' long! Dat's none uf my lookout. Ef it wusn't as I tell you, would
de young Injun be dar in my doo' now, smokin' his pipe? Ef you won't
b'lieve me ax him; an' ef you can't take his word fur it, ax Grumbo.
[Audience: "H-yah, h-yah, h-yah!" "Shucks!" See Glossary. And here
again, too roundly and soundly for mere coincidence, Grumbo fetched the
stump a ratifying rap of the tail, that said as plainly as a dog's tail
ever said any thing: "Yea, and I'll swear to it."]

       *       *       *       *       *

But we have followed our black Munchausen through the least wonderful
part of his story, as narrated by himself; and further than this, for
reasons already hinted, we dare not venture, the facts of the narrative
here beginning to grow tame again, and the narrator's fancies wide. So
we shall leave our lion to go on roaring it out into the ears of his
colored admirers to his heart's satisfaction, till he is empty and they
are full. At last, after blowing and puffing for nearly an hour in the
popular ear, the windy story, tapering off with a little facetious gas
designed for the ladies, found its way to an end, and dismissing his
audience with a majestic wave of his war-cap, Big Black Burl came down
from the rostrum.



Chapter XV.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL SEWED IT UP IN HIS WAR-CAP.


By the time the Fighting Nigger had made an end of blowing his trumpet,
the shadows of the long summer twilight had deepened into the shades of
night, reminding him that it was high time he should be looking after
the comfort of his captive guest. While the blowing and roaring had been
going on from the stump, the young Indian had remained seated on the
cabin door-sill, tranquilly smoking his pipe, the odorous contents of
which showed forth at long and regular intervals in a dull-red glow from
the dusky shadow of the cabin-shed. Taking him in, Burl hospitably
yielded up to his guest his own bed--the bear-skin bed he was so proud
of and loved so much to sleep on--spreading for himself instead a
buffalo-rug on the floor. In a little while the spirit of sleep had
descended on every weary soul in the fort--all save the wakeful Grumbo,
who, crouched on his bear-skin out there under the shed, maintained, as
was his habit, vigilant watch through the livelong night.

Now that his great adventure had been brought to a happy end, the
Fighting Nigger must once more doff his bear-skin cap--the cap of
war--and don, instead, his coon-skin cap--the cap of peace; hang his
battle-ax up on the wall, and lay his hand to the plow; muzzle his
war-dog, and bridle his plow-horse; and leave the war-path in the forest
to tread the peace-path in the field.

Accordingly, early next morning, having duly discharged his office as
host for the time being, and left his guest to a pipe of tobacco and
quiet meditation, Burl was about betaking himself to his labors in the
field, when his little master came running out to his cabin with word
that Miss Jemima wished to speak with him before he left the fort.
Respectfully uncapping himself even before reaching her presence, the
faithful fellow came, and showing the left shoulder and bushy head of
him from round the edge of the door and looking side-long into the room
where his mistress was sitting, said in answer to her summons, "Yes
'um."

"I have sent for you, Burl," began Mrs. Reynolds with kindly seriousness
of tone and manner, "to tell you how thankful I am for the good and
brave part you have done by me and my poor fatherless boy, and to reward
you in the best way I can." Here she paused.

"Yes 'um," said Burl, not knowing what else to say, and looking hard at
Grumbo, who, as if he had been summoned too, had followed his master,
and now, seated on his haunches in the door-way, was listening with
grave attention to what was going on--hoping, no doubt, that severe
measures were at last about to be taken with regard to the red
barbarian.

Mrs. Reynolds resumed: "While you were gone, Burl, I sat here in my
great distress and made a solemn promise to myself and to Heaven, that
if you were permitted to bring me back my child alive and well, I would
give you your freedom at once, as the only fitting reward I had it in my
power to bestow for so great a proof of your fidelity and love to us."

"Now, Miss Jemimy!" exclaimed Burl in a tone of remonstrance, the water
welling up in his great ox-like eyes.

"Yes, but I must do it," rejoined his mistress. "Heaven has heard my
prayer, and I must keep my promise. Faithful and good have you been to
us, and richly deserve the reward I offer. Would it were in my power to
give you more."

"Now, Miss Jemimy!" repeated Burl, in the same tone, "you needn't,
indeed you needn't." And seeing that his mistress had had her say, he
seized upon the subject with sudden energy, and thus unburdened his
mind: "Miss Jemimy, I don't want my freedom; I 's no use fur it. Hain't
I got de bes' mistus in de worl' an' de finest little marster? Hain't I
got a gun an' a dog? Plenty to eat an' plenty to w'ar? A whole cabin to
myse'f, an' Saturday ev'nin's to go a-huntin' an' a-fishin' ef I likes?
De only thing I hain't got an' would like ter hab--dough dat's no fault
uf yourn, Miss Jemimy--is a white skin. Ef I had a white skin, den might
I hab my freedom an' know whar's my place an' who's my comp'ny. As I is,
turn me out free an' whar's my place? No whar. Who's my comp'ny? Nobody.
Too good fur common niggers, not good 'nough fur white folks. What den
would I be? A Ingin I s'pose. Sooner be Grumbo dar dan a Injun. Den Miss
Jemimy wants to make a red varmint uf her ol' nigger. Git out! 'Scuse
me, Miss Jemimy; I didn't go to say dat ter you. But I's bery glad an'
thankful to hear you talk dat way. Makes me gladder to be what I is, so
glad to be what I is, I won't be nothin' else ef I kin he'p it."

Deeply touched at this new proof of fidelity and self-sacrifice, yet not
a little amused withal at the droll shape in which it came, Mrs.
Reynolds rejoined: "Well, Burl, you can do as you please, but so far as
my will and wishes can make you free, free you are from this day forth,
either to go and play or stay and work. My promise is given, never to be
recalled."

"Den, Miss Jemimy," replied Burl with look and tone of deep respect, "ef
you's gwine ter let me do 's I please, w'y den, I pleases to stay."

Then, showing the whole of himself, excepting one arm and one leg, from
round the edge of the door-way, and now rising into the oratorical,
Burlman Reynolds proceeded to give his opinions upon the subject, having
already expressed his feelings. "Miss Jemimy," with an impressive
gesture, "dare's reason in all things. Now, ef I had l'arnin', could
read in a book, write on paper, figger on a slate, count up money, tel
de names of de mont's, an' alwus say how ol' I is when axed, an' all
sich things like white folks, w'y den, dare'd be some sense in a great
he-nigger like me doin' what I please, gwine whar I please--free-papers
in pockets. But ef I has my freedom an' hain't got l'arnin' to match it,
den would I be like--like--" looking about him for a comparison, till
chancing to cast his eye on his dog, a thing pat suggested itself. "W'y,
Miss Jemimy, one uf de red varmints me an' Grumbo chawed up yisterdy had
on a blue coat an' ruffle shirt along with his ragetty rawhide tags an'
fedders. Thought I neber seed nothin' look so scan'lus. 'Red varmint,'
says I to him, 'coat an' no breeches won't do, shirt an' no breeches
won't do.' An' now says I to Miss Jemimy, 'Freedom an' no l'arnin' won't
do no mo' dan shirt an' no breeches.'

"Now, look at de Injuns." [Presenting the subject in another light.]
"Dey has der freedom, kin do what dey please, kin go whar dey please,
an' what do dey do? Don't do nothin' but hunt an' fish an' fight. Whar
do dey go? W'y, jes' a-rippin' an' tearin' all ober da worl', 'sturbin'
peacable people, keepin' dem mizzible an' onsituwated. So you see, de
Injun, dough he has his freedom, ain't nothin' arter all but a red
varmint. An' fur why? Beca'se he hain't got l'arnin' fur to tell him
what to do wid his freedom, dat's why. So dey needs somebody to tell 'em
what to do an' make 'em do it. Yes, an' dar's some white folks, too, who
hain't got l'arnin' an' don't know much better what to do wid dare
freedom dan Injuns an' free niggers, dough dey don't think so demselves,
an' would knock a nigger down fur sayin' it. An' dem's my 'pinions on
dat p'int.

"An' Miss Jemimy" [here Burl lowered his voice and looked at his
mistress with solemn earnestness], "have you forgot how I promised Mars
Bushrod I'd do what I could fur his wife an' pore little boy? All a pore
nigger could fur white folks in dat way, an' wouldn't neber stop a-doin'
it? An' s'posin' ef I was ter leabe 'em now, what would dey do?
Who-o-o'd----" Here he choked up and broke down, and clapping his
coon-skin cap on his head and pulling it down over his eyes, Burl turned
abruptly and walked hurriedly away. Ten minutes after, mounted on his
plow-horse, and with the big round tears playing at leap-frog down his
face, he was riding along the bridle-path through the woods on his way
to the corn-field, singing at the top of his huge, melodious voice:

   "Squirly is a pretty bird."

And that morning the sylvan wilds were kept resounding with the
heart-easing, blithesome music which bespoke the thankfulness and the
gladness of the singer's heart. It was the happiest morning he had ever
known in all his life, and yet, despite an unaccountable accident of
birth that had brought into the world so noble a soul with an ebony hide
and fleecy head, the poor fellow had known a thousand mornings nearly as
happy. He was having his reward. But at about eleven o'clock the singing
suddenly ceased--so suddenly, indeed, that any one who might have been
listening would have said, "Assuredly something unusual has happened to
Burlman Reynolds; something has struck him--perhaps an Indian bullet."

But when, in answer to the dinner-horn, the plowman came riding slowly
home, it was evident from his unwonted seriousness of look and manner
that a thought had struck the mind, not a bullet the body of Burlman
Reynolds. It was further evident from the absent-minded way in which he
fed Cornwallis, throwing him two dozen instead of one dozen ears of
corn; and further still, from the absent-minded way in which he fed
himself, leaving his bacon untoasted and eating nothing but
bonny-clabber and corn-dodgers. Nor again that day was there an echo in
the woods to tell that Big Black Burl was at his cheerful labors in the
field. Yet, though the voice was silent, the heart went singing on, and
the burden of the tune it sung was, "Bery glad an' bery thankful." That
evening after supper, having smoked a sociable pipe with his Indian
guest in the twilight under his cabin-shed, Burl picked up his coon-skin
cap and, without putting it on, carried it in his hand with profound
respect to Miss Jemimy's door, where by early candle-light, she was
putting Bushie to bed. Showing one shoulder and his bushy head from
round the edge of the door-way, he looked in, and by way of breaking the
subject uppermost in his thoughts, cleared his throat and said, "Yes
'um."

"Well, Burl, what is it?" kindly inquired his mistress.

"'Scuse me, Miss Jemimy, but I's come to tell you I's been thinkin'----"
pausing; and as he still hesitated, his mistress said: "Yes, so you
have; I knew as much already, not having heard a song from you since
dinner-time. Out with it, then; I am ready to hear you."

"Well, Miss Jemimy, it's jes' dis. We's all pore mortal creeters, made
of clay, you know; no tellin' who'll be took away fus', who'll be lef'
behin'." Another pause.

"Nothing could be truer, Burl," rejoined his mistress; "and yet not
always right pleasant to think of. But go on, and speak your mind
freely."

"Well, Miss Jemimy, bein' sich pore mortal creeters as we is, dare's no
tellin' who'll be took away fus', who'll be lef' behin'. 'Scuse me, ef
you please."

"And you are thinking that you might be left behind," added his
mistress.

"You've hit it 'zac'ly on de head, Miss Jemimy; dat's jes' de thing I's
wantin' to say, but was afeered uf hurtin' feelin's. Hope you don't
think hard uf me fur havin' sich thoughts. But bein', as I wus sayin',
de pore mortal creeters we is, some pussons is boun' to drap off sooner
dan oders, some boun' to be lef' behin'; an' dar's no tellin' who de
whos will be. Sich things mus' happen, an' nobody's fault, you know."

"It is all just as you say, Burl," replied his mistress. "So go on
without more ado, and tell me exactly what is in your mind, and no fear
of hurting feelings."

"Thank you, Miss Jemimy, fur talkin' dat way; it makes me easy. So I'll
go on an' tell it all, jes' as I's been thinkin' it. Eber sence late dis
mornin' I's been sayin' to myse'f out yander in de corn-fiel': 'We's all
pore mortal creeters made uf clay--no tellin' who'll be took 'way fus',
who'll be lef behin'. Den s'posin',' ses I, 's'posin' ef my good missus
an' sweet little marster might be took 'way fus', an' der ol' nigger
lef' behin', what den? W'y, mebbe jes' dis: some white man I neber liked
or neber knowed might come 'long a-sayin' to me: "You belongs to me now,
I's paid my money fur you; you go plow in my fiel', go chop in my woods,
go mow in my medder; I hain't bought yo' wife an' chil'en--no use fur
dem; so jes' make up yo' min' to leabe 'em an' come 'long." Den Burlman
Rennuls be very sorry he didn't take what his good mistus wanted so much
to give him long time ago.' So I goes on thinkin' it ober an' ober eber
go long, till ses I to myse'f, 'I'll go to Miss Jemimy dis bery night
an' say to her: "Miss Jemimy," ses I, "we's all pore mortal creeters
made uf clay, no tellin' who'll be took away fus', who'll be lef'
behin';" an' my good missus will know what I mean.' So I's come an' sed
it. But min' you, Miss Jemimy, min' you now, I'm 'tirely willin' to work
fur you an' my little marster all my days--'d ruther do it. But sich a
thing might happen dat you two might be took away fus', an' yo' ol'
nigger lef' behin'. Den I'd a leetle ruther be free. I don't know, arter
all, but freedom's a bery good thing to hab eben ef we hain't got
l'arnin' to match it. Dat is, ef we kin hab it an' not let it make fools
uf us--set us a-thinkin' we's got nuthin' to do but lay in de shade an'
kick up our heels. A nigger needn't make sich a show uf his freedom as
de red varmint uf his ruffle shirt an' blue coat; jes' tie it up in a
snug little bundle to tote along wid him an' let folks know he has it,
an' dat'll be 'nuff fur any use. So I's thinkin' I'll come an' say:
'Miss Jemimy,' ses I, 'bein' as you want so much to do it, w'y den, ef
you please, jes' write it down on a piece uf paper how, in case you an'
my little marster might be took away fus', you wants yo' ol' nigger to
hab his freedom.' Den I'll sew it up in my b'ar-skin cap, to keep it
till de time comes, ef de time mus' come, so I kin say to de fus' white
man who comes 'long a-claimin' me, 'I yi, my larky,' pullin' out my
free-papers. But, min' you now, Miss Jemimy, I don't want you to be
a-thinkin' dat I'll be a-hopin' fur de time to come so I kin go rippin'
an' tearin' 'bout de country, like some no-'count, raggetty, dirty free
niggers I's seed afore now, who, beca'se dey could do what dey pleased,
didn't please to do nuthin'. 'T ain't so. I's sed it afore, an' I'll say
it ag'in, I'll do what I kin fur my good missus an' my sweet little
marster--all a pore nigger kin fur white folks in dat way, an' won't
neber stop a-doin' it; an' I mean to keep my word."

And right willingly did Miss Jemimy according to her faithful servant's
wishes, writing it down on a "piece of paper," clear and full, not
forgetting to take such steps as should make the document good and valid
in the eyes of the law. Then, having wrapped it up carefully in a piece
of buckskin made water-proof and sweat-proof by bear's-grease rubbed
in, Burl, with an awl and two wax-ends, sewed it up securely in the
crown of his bear-skin cap. And, as the poor fellow was never left
behind, there it remained for the rest of his days, with never a hope
that he might some day have occasion to use it--never one regret that he
had not accepted at once the priceless blessing it offered.



Chapter XVI.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL FIGURED ON THE PEACE-PATH.


It were long, and needless too, to tell of every thing that happened in
and around our little fort during the fortnight the young Indian
remained a captive among the Whites. Captive, however, we should hardly
call him, since he was left entirely at liberty to go whithersoever he
chose; and there was nothing to hinder him from walking back to
Chillicothe, his home, whenever the humor might seize him, except a nice
sense of honor and a crippled arm. Every morning, after he had cheered
his solitude with a pipe of tobacco, Kumshakah--for that was the young
Indian's name--accompanied by Bushie, would go and present himself at
Mrs. Reynolds's door, that, according to her express desire, he might
have his wound dressed. Though grave and reserved in his demeanor toward
every one else, Kumshakah could show himself talkative and affable
enough when alone with Shekee-thepatee ("Little Raccoon"), as he called
his little white friend Bushie. For hours together would these two
loving chums--for such they soon became--keep up a lively, confidential
interchange of thought and sentiment, each in his own language, and
evidently quite as much to the other's entertainment as to his own
satisfaction, which was rather remarkable, seeing that neither
understood a word the other was saying. The other children of the fort,
holding the red stranger in too great awe and dread to trust themselves
within his reach, would watch the two with sharp curiosity from a
distance, admiring and envying the courage and easy assurance with
which their playfellow could rub against so terrible a creature as a
skin-clad, feather-crested Indian warrior, who was always whittling with
his scalping-knife.

Every day the pair would take a long ramble into the forest, in the
course of which they never failed to go or come by the corn-field, where
Big Black Burl--his feet in the peace-path, his head in his peace-cap,
his heart in his peace-song--was tickling the fat ribs of mother earth
with a plow, to make her laugh with johnny-cakes and pumpkin-pies for
his little master. Kumshakah had given his big black friend also a new
name, Mish-mugwa ("Big Bear"); the title being suggested, no doubt, by
the Fighting Nigger's bear-skin rigging no less than by his size, color,
and strength. Always on catching his first glimpse of them, where side
by side they sat on the topmost rail of the fence, Mish-mugwa would cut
short his singing and send forward his wonted salutation, "I yi, you
dogs!" Not failing at such times to discover that old "Corny" was
sweating and would like to blow awhile, our black Cincinnatus would run
his plow into a shady corner, and, likewise taking his seat on the
fence, square himself for a little edifying conversation.

These visits were the white spots in the day to Burl. Apart from the
pretext they gave him of resting from his work, they afforded him an
opportunity of airing his achievements as a hunter, and his exploits as
a warrior--_i.e._, of hearing himself talk. As the young Indian
understood not a word of what was said to him, he had but to sit and
listen, which he would do with grave and decorous attention, composedly
smoking his pipe the while, with his bright eyes fixed on the distant
green or blue before him. Once fairly going on this strain, the Fighting
Nigger would never stop until he had made a squeezed lemon of every red
"varmint" whose "top-knot" he had to show for proof and trophy of his
prowess, winding up with a careful enumeration of all the scalps he had
ever taken, telling them slowly off on his fingers, that his Indian
guest might take a note of it, if so minded. Often, before our big black
Munchausen had blown his fill, our little white Munchausen, fired by the
illustrious example of his pattern, would come gallantly dashing in, to
give his exploits and achievements a little airing likewise. He had
caught with alarming aptitude his pattern's inventiveness and proneness
to exaggeration; so that, before letting them go, his dogs and cats were
sure to swell into wolves and panthers, his garter-snakes into
rattlesnakes, his bellowing bull-frogs into roaring buffalo-bulls, and
his white calves, seen in the dark, into "ghostises." Nor was Burl
unwilling to listen; for, though so fond of talking himself, and so good
a talker too, he was one of the best listeners in the world. This trait
will seem the more commendable in our hero when we reflect how rarely we
find the good talker and the good listener conjoined--more rarely,
indeed, than the good talker and the exemplar of every Christian virtue;
so rarely, in fact, that we marvel so few of the good talkers have made
the discovery for themselves. So to those sallies of his "little man"
Burl would listen with indulgent, condescending attention, or with a
broad grin of mingled incredulity and admiration; expressing the latter
sentiment by such exclamations as "I yi!" "Oho!" "U-gooh!" "Hoo-weep!"
[with a whistle]; the former sentiment by such interrogative phrases as,
"See here now!" "Ain't you lettin' on?" "Ain't de little man gwine
leetle too fur jes' dar?" "Hadn't my little man better rein up his
horses now?"--just by way of keeping his juvenile imitator in the beaten
track of the impossible, within the orthodox limits of the marvelous.

Thus seated side by side, on the top of the scraggy corn-field fence,
would these three worthies, so strikingly different one from the other,
while away the warm summer hours; often, too, long after old Cornwallis,
there dozing so contentedly in the shade of the overleaning wood, had
dried off and recovered the breath he had not lost. Perhaps, at such
times, instead of keeping his eyes on some invisible point in the
atmosphere, Kumshakah would be employing them and his hands in the
fashioning of two pipes--one of black stone, the other of white stone.
On the bowl of the white stone pipe he carved the figure of a little
raccoon, on the bowl of the black stone pipe the figure of a big
bear--both pipes neatly executed, and the two figures passable
likenesses. When he had finished the pipes, and fitted to them stems,
handsomely ornamented with the feathers of birds, Kumshakah presented
the black pipe to Mish-mugwa, the white pipe to Shekee-thepatee, and to
the infinite delight of both; of Bushie, chiefly because he saw in his a
token of his red friend's love; of Burl, chiefly because he saw in his
the only thing lacking to give completeness to his martial rigging--a
war-pipe.

All this time Grumbo maintained toward every one, not even excepting his
master, a grim, severe reserve--keeping much alone, seldom indulging in
cooked meat, more seldom still in raw, and never tasting his
corn-dodgers. The red barbarian, in particular, he regarded with an evil
eye--holding him in worse and worse odor, as the rest received him into
higher and higher favor. Time and again did the captain essay to explain
to his lieutenant how matters stood between them and their prisoner, but
in vain. With that consistency of mind and fixedness of purpose for
which he was remarkable, our canine hero stubbornly persisted in making
it manifest that he was not a dog to be whistled, rubbed, and patted
into winking at a measure so lax as that of allowing a red "varmint" to
run at large in their midst, without even so much as a block and chain
to hamper the freedom of his movements, or some sign to bespeak his
inferiority to men and dogs. Perhaps, like some perverse people we have
known, Grumbo took particular delight in being unsatisfactory to every
one but himself. Or, perhaps by the observance of this policy he meant
to reproach his renegade leader for suffering himself to be so easily
led away from the orthodox faith in which they had lived so long and
happily together, and had acted in such harmonious concert. Perhaps,
too, it was meant as a warning that unless he should be given some
assurance that business should hereafter be done up in the regular,
scientific way, he would break with the captain altogether, and attach
himself to the fortunes of some other leader, more consistent and better
fitted to command, and who should have a more just appreciation of what
was due a brave and faithful follower.

But our four-footed hero, like many a two-footed hero we have read of,
was doomed in his day and generation to be misunderstood, unappreciated,
maligned, neglected. As usual in such cases, the result was a total
upsetting in the mind of the injured one of all orthodox notions of
human nature and the eternal fitness of things. I should hardly express
myself so boldly were I not backed by the testimony of some of Grumbo's
own contemporaries, by whom I have been informed that, a few weeks after
the events I am relating, his dogship renounced human society and a
mixed diet altogether, and withdrawing himself from the pale of the
civilized world to the solitudes of the forest, there, for the rest of
his days, lived the life of a misanthropic hermit. According to other
contemporaneous testimony, however, no less deserving our serious
consideration, an ebony monster, with a woolly head and flat nose, but
walking erect on two legs, and in other respects bearing a striking
resemblance to man, had something to do with the mysterious
disappearance of our canine hero from the theater of human action.
Moved with envy and spite at beholding the Fighting Nigger's renown and
at hearing his praises in the popular mouth, and itching to inflict upon
the object thereof the greatest possible injury he could, with the least
possible risk to himself, this ebony monster secretly, and in the most
dastardly manner, poisoned the heroic Grumbo--thus cutting short his
career of glory in the very prime and flower of his doghood. Be all this
as it may, of one thing we are sure, that after that ever-to-be-remembered
first of June, 1789, never was the war-dog seen again on the war-path with
Captain Reynolds, the Fighting Nigger, the Big Black Brave with a Bushy
Head, Mish-mugwa.

It was a beautiful Sabbath morning "in the leafy month of June." Blue
and sunny and loving hung the sky above the dark, green, perilous
wilderness, where our pioneer fathers, in daily jeopardy of their lives,
were struggling to secure for themselves and their children after them a
home in the land so highly favored by Heaven. That morning, on
presenting himself at Mrs. Reynolds's door, Kumshakah was pronounced by
the good woman to be healed of his wound, and told that he might now
depart in peace to his own land and people.

With a sorrowful face Burl took down the young Indian's rifle from where
it had lain with the others in the rifle-hooks against his cabin wall,
and having cleaned and loaded it with care, returned it to its owner,
along with his powder-horn and ammunition-pouch, liberally reënforced
with ammunition from his own store. Then he arrayed himself from top to
toe in his martial rigging, proposing, as it was Sunday, to escort his
captive guest some miles into the wilderness, till he had seen him safe
across the border. Having, through Burl's influence, gained his mother's
permission to accompany them, Bushie, likewise in honor of the occasion,
had put on a clean homespun cotton shirt and a pair of buckskin
moccasins, which, with the eagle feathers in his coon-skin cap and his
white stone pipe worn tomahawk-wise in his girdle, lent him quite a
holiday appearance. All being ready, the three then went to Mrs.
Reynolds's door, that Kumshakah might bid farewell to his kind hostess.

"Farewell, Kumshakah," said the good woman, extending her hand. "May the
Great Father of us all, whom you call the Great Spirit, have you now and
have you ever in his holy keeping, and reward you according to your
wondrous kindness to my poor helpless boy in his hour of need."

With deep respect the young brave approached and took the proffered
hand, which, with delicate emphasis, he shook just once, and there was a
shining in his bright, wild eyes, as eloquent of gratitude as had it
been the glistening of a tear. In further answer to her words, the
purport whereof he had read in her face and voice, he made a brief
speech in his own language, which, spoken in tones deep, melodious, and
earnest, and delivered with singular grace and dignity, ever after lived
in the white mother's remembrance like a strain of music, which, though
unintelligible to the ear, is understood and echoed by the heart. Then
the young Indian turned and, followed by Burl and Bushie, walked slowly
and thoughtfully away.

As side by side they pursued their tramp through the green entanglements
of the forest, the black hunter was far less talkative than usual, and
the red hunter scarcely spoke at all, though, Indian-like, listening
with respectful attention whenever his companion seemed to be addressing
him in particular. But, as if reserving all his regrets for the parting
moment, Bushie--now mounted on Burl's shoulder, now walking hand in hand
with Kumshakah--kept up a lively prattle which never ceased, and to
which the others listened with pleased ears. Sometimes, while riding
aloft, he would amuse himself by catching at the slender, pliant
branches of the trees brought within his reach, which he would draw
after him as far as he could bend them, then letting them fly back,
leave them swinging to and fro. At length, as if this amusement had
suggested it to his mind, the boy struck up a cadence from one of Burl's
songs, singing in a clear, piping voice:

   An' de jay-bird flew away--
   De jay-bird flew away--
   An' lef' de lim' a-swingin'--
   A-swingin'.

"Mus'n't sing sich songs on Sunday, Bushie--sing hymns on Sunday. So,
j'ine in wid me an' help me sing Caneyan's Happy Sho' for Kumshy, pore
Kumshy, who's gwine to leabe us, neber to come no mo'. It'll do him
good."

So, joining their voices, they sung a simple hymn which, with a
_plaintive melody_ expressive of yearning, had for its burden the
following words:

   O dat will be joyful, joyful, joyful,
   O dat will be joyful, to meet to part no more;
       To meet to part no more,
       On Caneyan's happy shore;
   An' dar we'll meet at Jesus' feet,
       An' meet to part no more.

At noon they reached the spot where, a fortnight before, Kumshakah
brought down the eagle, which, stripped of its plumage and still
bleeding, Burl had found on the trail a few hours after. Here a spring
of clear, cool, sparkling water gurgled out from underneath a moss-grown
rock in the hill-side, and here they halted. They quenched their thirst
from the spring, then seating themselves on the moss-grown trunk of a
fallen tree that lay near by, Burl and Kumshakah lighted their pipes and
sat for many minutes smoking in thoughtful, even melancholy, silence.
For, strange as it may seem, though neither had spoken a word
intelligible to the other since the beginning of their acquaintance, a
decided and cordial friendship had sprung up between the Fighting Nigger
and his Indian captive, insomuch that they were now very loath to part.
But the feeling which had arisen between the young Indian and the little
white boy was of a far more tender nature, each beholding in the other
the preserver of his life, and with a mutual gratitude heightened by
mutual admiration. Such is the power of instinct, which can discover
what words might try to reveal and fail. Their pipes smoked out, they
broke their fast on some jerked venison and buttered johnny-cakes, which
Burl, hospitable to the last, had brought along in his hunting-pouch. By
the time they had finished their simple repast and smoked another pipe,
the forest shadows had slowly shifted round from west to east, and were
now beginning perceptibly to lengthen, admonishing them that the hour
was come when they must part and go their separate ways.

But something more remained yet to be done. Taking the white stone pipe
which he had carved for Shekee-thepatee and filling its virgin bowl with
tobacco, Kumshakah lighted it, and slowly, with great solemnity, drew a
few whiffs therefrom, then offered it to Mish-mugwa. This the young
Indian did in token of his earnest wish that the peace and friendship
now existing between them should endure from that day forth, let come
what might, and that the sentiment, thus consecrated, should be
cherished as in some sort a solemn and religious duty. Poor Burl did not
know that Indians had any ceremonies at all; nor, until his acquaintance
with Kumshakah, that they had any thing in common with the human race,
excepting the art of fighting, and, to a limited degree, as it seemed to
him, the power of speech. So, till he had gone home that night and told
the white hunters of the circumstance, he could but vaguely guess at
the sentiment to which this simple ceremony of smoking the peace-pipe
gave expression. Nevertheless, with that facility at entering, for the
time being, into the feelings, thoughts, and ways of others peculiar to
his race, and which is due to self-unconscious imitation rather than to
self-determined adaptability, Mish-mugwa took the proffered symbol of
peace and friendship, and with a solemnity that would have seemed
ludicrous to any one but a black man or a red man, gave just as many
whiffs as he had seen Kumshakah give, then, with the air of one who knew
as well as anybody what he was doing, returned the pipe to Kumshakah.

The peace-pipe emptied of its ashes and returned to its owner, the young
brave rose at once and silently extended his hand. Burl seized it with a
huge, devouring grip that would have made any one but an Indian wince,
and with a big, round, stag-like tear in either big, round, ox-like eye,
thus bid farewell: "Good-by, Kumshy. De good Lord go wid you all yo'
days. Come an' see us ag'in--Miss Jemimy an' Mishy-muggy an'
Sheky-depatty; Mishy-muggy's me, you know, an' Sheky-depatty's Bushie.
Come an' see us all ag'in. Good-by."

Then going up to Bushie, Kumshakah shook him, likewise, by the hand; the
dear little fellow, without saying a word, gazing up wistfully into the
young Indian's face, his blue eyes brimming over with tears. But when he
saw his red friend going at last, then did the affectionate
Shekee-thepatee lift up his voice and weep aloud.

"Come back, Kumshakah!" he cried; "come back, and live with us, and
never leave us, Kumshakah!"

The young Indian wheeled about and returned, took the chubby hand again
in his, and with tender gravity shook it gently, very gently. As he did
so, a mistiness came over his bright, wild eyes, which, when he had
turned again to go, must--if ever Indian warrior weeps--have gathered
into a tear. With wistful eyes, Burl and Bushie followed the swiftly
receding form of their red friend, who never turned to look at them till
he had gained the crest of a distant hill to the north. Here he faced
about and remained for many moments gazing back at them; his graceful
figure, his wild dress, and his rifle in sharp relief against a patch of
blue sky, gleaming through an opening in the forest beyond. In final
farewell Burl waved his cap. Kumshakah answered with a wide wave of the
hand; then, turning, quickly vanished behind the hill, to be seen no
more. With sorrowful hearts, Burl and Bushie turned likewise, and
retraced their steps to Fort Reynolds.

From that day forward, never again did Captain Reynolds, the Fighting
Nigger, the Big Black Brave with a Bushy Head, Mish-mugwa, lay the
bloody hand on the scalp-lock of a fallen foe.



Chapter XVII.

HOW THE GLORY OF HIS RACE FIGURED IN HIS RISING.


Listen! There lived an Indian--a sachem of the powerful and warlike
Shawnees; an Indian who loved his wild people, his wild land, and his
wild freedom dearer than his life, and for their defense and weal he
labored, and fought and died. Why and how, and to what end--listen!

The sachem looked around him. He saw his people, wasted to but the
shadow of what they once were, slowly moving toward the setting sun. He
saw them at deadly strife one with another--tribe with tribe, and
kindred with kindred. He marked how they were falling away from the
sober lives and pure faith of their fathers, and losing their wild
independence in the slothful and corrupting habits of vagabond
existence. He beheld his native wilderness gradually waning as from
before a slow-approaching, far-extended fire. In terror at the sight,
the animals of the chase, so needful to man in the savage state, went
flitting by, outstripping his people in their journey toward the setting
sun.

The sachem looked far forth toward the regions of the rising sun, and
there beheld the civilized and powerful white man, whose star of empire
was leading him onward in his resistless progress toward the mighty
rivers and the boundless plains of the far West--the land of the future.
The powerful stranger laid his hand upon the woody hills, and they
smoked; he set his foot upon the grassy plains, and they withered. He
lifted the hand of violence against the red sons of the forest, and they
fled; he breathed upon them, and they became diseased, corrupt, and
feeble; he sowed the seeds of strife among them, and straightway they
fell to wrangling and warring one with another, more fiercely than ever
before; he stretched his long arm over their heads and thrust his
terrible sword into the heart of their wilderness, now here, now there,
saying: "This pleasant valley is mine, here will I make my
dwelling-place; this fertile plain is mine, it shall yield me riches;
this broad river is mine, it shall be a highway between my great towns.
Then, westward, red man, farther westward; nor think of rest, while you
have the setting sun and this fair land before you!" Still onward and
westward the white man held his ever-widening, overwhelming course. A
little while and the red man should not have in all the green earth
where to lay his weary head and say: "This is my home--here dwelt my
fathers before me, and here they be buried; here with them shall I rest
when my race is run." The sachem saw all this, and his mighty spirit was
stirred within him.

"The Shemanols,"[1] said the sachem to his people, "have united their
seventeen great fires[2] into one, and the union has made them strong
and happy. We must profit by the example. I will go forth among the
tribes of red men, and by the help of the Great Spirit unite them into
one people; make of them a dam to stay the flow of this mighty water,
lest it utterly sweep away our forest and cast us like driftwood, broken
and scattered, on the far-off shores beneath the setting sun. We have
warned the white stranger to come no farther, but have spoken to the
winds that hear not; we have entreated him to come no farther, but have
prayed to the rocks that feel not. Then, let him come. I see his
warriors in the east, in the south, in the north, and in numbers like
the leaves of the forest when rolling and rustling before the blasts of
autumn. Shall the sachem of the Shawnees tremble? Shall they say he
hated the foe of his race and feared him? I too have my warriors, strong
and brave and true; and many a forest and mountain and plain, left us by
our fathers, have we still behind us and around us. Then let us stand up
like men and defend them. Or, if fall we must, at least then here, where
lie our fathers, let us leave our bones to cry out against the destroyer
of our race, and our dust to poison the air his children shall breathe.
If such must be our fate, it is well. Wahcoudah's will be done!"

[Footnote 1: The Shawnese for Americans.]

[Footnote 2: The seventeen States of the Union.]

Then did the sachem gird up his loins and go forth, like a strong man
armed for the battle. Verily, it was a vast enterprise, difficult and
hazardous--all but hopeless; but his spirit, strong to endure and brave
to encounter, rose with it. From the great lakes of the North to the
flowery forests of the far South, from the great hills of the East to
the grassy plains of the far West, month after month, year after year,
from hopeful youth to sober prime, he roamed the wilderness. Everywhere
he called upon his countrymen to cease from warring among themselves and
unite their tribes, that as one people they might stand up in the
defense of their native land, given them by the Master of Life to be the
one home and common possession of them all.

To impress their minds with the necessity of such a league he held up
before them the example of their white invaders, who had united all
their "great fires" into one, and in that union had found strength,
harmony, and prosperity. He appealed to every sentiment in human nature
that can rouse to high and noble purpose--the love of country, of
kindred, of freedom, of glory. He flattered their pride with glowing
allusions to the antiquity and renown of their race, and by repeating to
them their traditions which described them as having once been the
favorite children of the Great Spirit, and again to be taken under his
peculiar care whenever they should return to the bosom of their ancient
brotherhood, and to the sober, simple habits and the pure faith of their
fathers. He roused their resentment and the desire of vengeance by
holding up to them the wrongs which they had suffered at the hands of
the proud and powerful pale-face, whose presence in their midst had
grown insupportable, and whose onward progress, unless cheeked at once,
would soon become irresistible. He threatened them with disgrace,
poverty, and ruin--yea, the final extinction of their race, which would
assuredly be visited upon them, should they neglect or delay to profit
by his warning.

His labors grew upon him, yet wearied him not; disappointments baffled
his endeavors, but discouraged him not; difficulties met him at every
step, but turned him not aside; dangers thickened around him, but
daunted him not; untoward conjunctures confused and enfeebled his vast
scheme, but shook not the constant purpose of his mind; friends
dissuaded, rivals opposed, enemies threatened, traitors
undermined--still the heroic sachem, unshaken, undismayed, unsubdued,
maintained his course onward and upward in the high destiny which long
years before he had marked out for himself, and his trust was in the
Great Spirit.

When he first set out on his great mission, this wandering patriot of
the wilderness found the minds of his countrymen we cowed with fear, or
so benumbed with indifference as to their fate, that there was scarcely
a man among them all, outside his own near kindred, to lend him an ear,
or join him in his self-imposed, herculean labor. But toward the end,
when every hill and valley, plain and forest, river and lake of the
great North-west had been made to resound full many a year with the
echoes of that awakening voice, behold the result. Persuaded that their
hour of deliverance and vengeance was come at last, thousands of the
tawny warriors of the wilderness, drawn from the numerous tribes which
he had succeeded in uniting, came flocking around him, ready to do his
bidding, as one commissioned by the Great Spirit to be their leader and
deliverer. Never, since their first landing on the Continent, had the
whites beheld arrayed against them, by the energy and power of one mind,
a league of the Indian tribes so formidable and wide-spread.

That the sachem was in error, there can of course be no doubt--all are
who undertake to withstand the progress of a Christian civilization; but
no less certain is it that he erred not because his heart was wrong, but
that his mind was unenlightened. And in fair truth, with such limited
views as to the right and wrong in human motive and action as the rude,
narrow sphere in which his lot was cast enabled him to make, what other
course could he in his own judgment have chosen, without dishonor to
himself and injury to the people whose weal he most assuredly had
earnestly at heart. Had his mind--crude as his own wilderness, as vast
too, and as fertile and varied--been duly cultivated and enlightened, he
would not have viewed the progress of civilization as a destroying
flood, against which it behooved him as a patriot to array his people,
lest thereby they be swept away from the earth. Rather would he have
perceived that it was a life-giving, beneficent light, into which it was
his highest duty, as a lover of the great brotherhood of man, to lead
his people, that with it they might spread themselves over the earth,
and in it grow strong and prosperous and happy.

During all this time, though his labors were of a nature to keep the
wrongs and woes of his people and the power and pride of their white
oppressors continually fresh in his mind, never did the savage hero lift
the hand of violence against the aged, the helpless, or the unarmed. To
his magnanimous spirit, Indian heathen though he was, the captive was a
sacred trust, and many a man of the hated race, thrown by the chances of
war within their direful grasp, did he rescue from horrible death at the
hands of his injured and exasperated countrymen. The booty taken by his
hands from the whites in their raids across the border was immense; but
the spoils of war, though he might well have claimed the lion's share,
he left, with magnificent generosity, to his followers--the glory of war
being all that a true hero could covet.

In his habits of life the sachem was abstemious even to austerity, yet
frank end popular in his manners, entering heartily into the rude
amusements and athletic sports of his people. In the latter, such was
his strength and activity of body, he rarely met his equal; and in
hunting and wood-craft he was, even in the eyes of his hunter-race, a
marvel of skill and address. He was the very soul of integrity and
truth; and though born of a race proverbial for cunning and craft, he
was of a nature singularly frank and straightforward, as he showed by
the boldness and openness with which he was accustomed, even in the
presence of his enemies, to acknowledge and discuss his great project.

As a warrior-chieftain, he stands unrivaled in the barbarous traditions
of his race, and as an orator, with scarcely a superior. His oratory was
of the highest order, inasmuch as it was the outgrowth of a great
intellect, active, powerful, and wide-grasping in its operations, and
the outpouring of a mighty spirit, deep and earnest, pure and generous,
and often sublime in its emotions. Whenever he made the great mission of
his life the theme of his declamations--and he took every suitable
occasion for doing so--let his listeners be friends or foes, his
appearance, at all times striking and prepossessing in the extreme,
became as that of one inspired. His ample chest expanded with noble
feeling; every gesture of hip hand, every movement and posture of his
commanding form, grew eloquent with meaning. Unmasked of its habitual
cast of reserve, his handsome face, clear, strong, and firm in its
lines, yet flexible in its play of muscle and feature, reflected with
mirror-like distinctness the passing emotions of his heart. His eye,
eagle-like in its unflinching brightness, flashed forth the lightnings
of the fiery and haughty spirit within. Language, direct in its
unstudied simplicity, graphic and vigorous, and glowing with the
thoughts and images of a luminous though unpolished mind, flowed from
his lips majestic and resistless. Added to all was that awakening voice
whose echoes had so long resounded through thy great North-west. Now it
rang out, stern, abrupt, imperious, like the call of a trumpet to
battle; now softened down to tones broken, tender, and pitying as those
of a bereaved father sorrowing over his hapless children; then, as
visions of the utter extinction of his race would break upon his
prophetic soul, it would come wailing out like the despairing cry of a
Hebrew prophet lamenting the impending desolation of Zion.

Such was Tecumseh. Thus he lived, this Indian Hannibal; thus he rose,
this Glory of his Race.



Chapter XVIII.

HOW THE EAGLE AND THE LION AND THE BIG BEAR FIGURED IN THE GREAT
NORTH-WEST.


Toward the close of a hazy October day, in the year 1813, two small
armies might have been seen, and according to history were seen, moving
along the banks of the river Thames. Not the Thames which, after winding
among the pleasure-grounds of the English gentry and through the great
city of London, under ever so many bridges, emptied its waters into the
German Ocean; but the Thames which, after winding among the
forest-slopes of Canada West and through or by no cities at all, nor
under any bridges whatever, discharged its waters into Lake St. Clair.
So, along the Canadian Thames, at the time just named, two small armies
were to be seen, each measuring ground with uncommon expedition; the
foremost hurriedly, being in loose retreat; the hindmost rapidly, being
in tight pursuit. Over the van of the retreating army ungallantly
dangled the crimson, lion-emblazoned banner of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland; over the van of the pursuing army gallantly
waved the tri-colored, star-emblazoned, eagle-capped flag of the United
States of America.

The Second War between Great Britain and the United States had now been
going on for many a tedious month; sometimes languidly, sometimes
spasmodically, never energetically. Like a slow, dull fever, it had
wasted and enfeebled the two countries without redounding more to the
profit of the one than to the glory of the other; and the glory being
too scant to be divided between them, they wisely left the crimson fog
to the humor of the winds. How the winds disposed of it, the world has
never heard.

And the great Indian sachem had become the ally of the little English
king. And why? Because the little English king and his rich people had
promised the great Indian sachem and his poor people to restore to them
their hereditary lands if they would take up the hatchet and help their
great father--the little English king--to wrest the lands in question
from the Americans, the children who had behaved so unbecomingly to the
great father thirty-seven years before. The hereditary lands in question
were in fact but the disputed territory, the principal cause of the
contests between the two white powers, hence not so much to be viewed as
a lost inheritance to be restored to the rightful owners as a prize to
be secured by the rival claimants. John Bull said, "It is mine, because
I took it from the French;" Brother Jonathan said, "It is mine, because
I took it from the English;" while neither party gave any heed to the
poor Indian, who never ceased saying, "It is mine, because my fathers
gave it to me, and the Great Spirit gave it to my fathers."

A hard, hard necessity must it have been which could have forced the
poor, hunted wanderers of the wilderness to fly for refuge and
protection from the talons and beak of the eagle to the claws and teeth
of the lion. It was but a change, and made with but little hope of its
being for the better. None saw this more clearly, felt it more deeply,
than the sagacious Tecumseh; and his proud spirit groaned under the
humiliating thought that after all he and his warriors were not viewed
as allies having an equal interest in the result of the struggle going
on, but rather as instruments merely, which might be made useful to the
purpose in hand, then dropped. To use his own expression: "They were
but a pack of starved hounds, hallooed upon the Americans by the
English."

Along the Northern lakes and rivers full many a battle had been
fought--on a small scale, it is true, but bloody and ugly enough,
especially to the Americans, who up to this time had usually been the
worsted party. But now the fortunes of war were beginning to turn in our
favor. Perry had won his brilliant little naval victory over the English
fleet on Lake Erie, and had written to the Secretary of the Navy with
Cæsar-like conciseness: "We have met the enemy, and they are ours!" By
land, too, the British had been met and beaten back at every point, till
now they were without a foothold on the disputed territory--the
hereditary lands.

But, true to himself, true to the now quite hopeless cause for which he
had labored and fought so long, the magnanimous sachem still kept his
faith with the great father unbroken and inviolable, while the great
father was immensely less concerned that he had failed to restore the
hereditary lands to his red allies than that he had failed to wrest the
disputed territory from his white enemies. So the little English king
went on sipping his dainty wines in his marble palace over yonder on the
other side of the globe, and took no further thought of the great Indian
sachem who was breaking his heart over here in the wilderness of
America, as true to his ally as had he been a Christian, baptized by an
apostolic successor into the Church of England.

But to make another start toward the end of our story. The English
people, like the majority of mankind, are a good enough people in a
general way, and in a general way, like those of most nations, their
soldiers are brave enough. Good people, yet they have had their bad
rulers--the great father, for example; and their brave soldiers have had
their cowardly leaders--for example, General Proctor; concerning whom
we must now say something--a very little; the least possible.

Having with unsoldierly dispatch cleared his red skirts of the disputed
territory, grown at least too hot for comfort, this Proctor--a fat
poltroon--was now in hurried retreat through the forest-wilds of Canada
West, at the head, not the rear, of an army composed of about nine
hundred British regulars and two thousand Indian allies under the
leadership of Tecumseh. On, in swift pursuit, with a stretch of about a
half day's march between, came General Harrison--a gaunt hero--at the
head, not the rear, of an army consisting of two companies of United
States regulars and about three thousand volunteers, nearly all of whom
were tall, stalwart Kentuckians, under the leadership of General Shelby,
the venerable Governor of Kentucky. No Indian allies. In the van of the
pursuing army, at the head of his regiment of mounted riflemen, one
thousand strong, the very flower of green Kentucky's chivalry, rode
Colonel Richard M. Johnson, afterward made Vice-president of the United
States by his grateful countrymen, because--rumpsey-dumpsey--Dick had
killed Tecumseh.

And there in the van, at the head of his company of mounted riflemen,
mounted on a splendid Kentucky bay, and rigged out in his dashing
backwoods uniform, rode Captain Bushrod Reynolds, whom we left
twenty-four years ago in the Paradise a sturdy urchin of nine, and still
a candidate for breeches and boots. Yes, there he rode, a tall, athletic
man, in the prime of his days, frank-faced, clear-eyed, bold-browed, and
with a nose that had gradually ripened from the pug into the Roman, as
he had ripened in years and experience, just as we predicted when
drawing his portrait where he sat on the topmost rail of a scraggy
worm-fence, watching the squirrels and crows. Nor was it true that he
had become a married man and a man of family, and a captain too--all
pretty much as the far-seeing Burl had prophesied at the same early
period.

At present, however, having been married but a year, his family was
small. For, since reaching the stature and years of manhood, Bushrod
Reynolds had spent many years in the great North-west, where as an
Indian-trader he had pushed his fortunes with great energy and success,
yet with clean hands, never in all the time selling or bartering a
single gallon of whisky to the Indians--a virtue quite rare, we fear, in
Indian-traders, and one for which he was highly commended by Tecumseh
himself, who never drank any thing but water. The address, prudence, and
integrity he displayed in this vocation had attracted the notice of
General Harrison, then Governor of the North-west Territory, through
whose influence the young Kentuckian received the appointment of United
States Indian Agent in that quarter. Here again he had acquitted himself
in the same clean-handed manner, never touching a dollar of the money
intrusted to him, saving so far as officially authorized.

And there, conspicuous among the camp-followers, with a fund of good
humor and laughter rich enough to keep the whole rear of the army in
spirits, even when cut down to short rations and pushed to long
marches--there, gigantic as life and shaggy with bear-skin from top to
toe, was our old friend Big Black Burl--Cap'n Rennuls, the Fighting
Nigger, the Big Black Brave with a Bushy Head, Mish-mugwa--whom we left
twenty-four years ago in the Paradise, treading with unmoccasined feet
the peace-path, and filling the resounding woods from morning till night
with the echoes of his peace-songs. Yes, as gigantic as life, and still
as jolly as gigantic, with never a regret in all these years of servile
toil that he had sewed it up in his bear-skin cap instead of accepting
at once the priceless blessing which his good mistress, in the
unspeakable gratitude of her mother's heart, had bidden him to take as
his forever.

Time and the world had evidently dealt kindly by our hero, the ebony
smoothness of his wide-snouted mug unfurrowed as yet by those lines of
care and thought we so often find disfiguring the faces of Shem and
Japheth, nor grizzled yet his fleecy locks, although he had left his
fiftieth year behind him--an age when the heads of most men begin to
whiten under the snows of life's winter. For all that, though they may
not have brought him wrinkles and whitened his locks, the passing years
had brought him wisdom and whitened the color of his thoughts, once so
crimson. In proof whereof, he had long since taken unto himself a wife,
and was now the father of a large family of large children. In further
proof, he had long since left off fighting and gone to preaching, there
being now in the Paradise more black sinners to be mended than red
heathen to be demolished; more friends to be led across the Jordan than
foes to be driven across the Ohio.

Preaching, in a general way, is a good thing, and, in a particular way,
to him who loves to hear himself talk, a pleasant thing, and if he talks
well, rather pleasant to others. Now, the Fighting Nigger loved to hear
himself talk, but unlike many--too many--inflicted with that infirmity
he talked well, as we have had frequent occasion to notice; while again,
unlike the majority of the few who talk well, he listened well, which,
also, we have once or twice remarked. As his walks through life should
lead him no more upon the war-path, and as his color and condition
forbade his taking the stump, or appearing at the bar, or sitting in the
senate-house, he needs must take to preaching, as the only shift by
which he could hope to retain that preëminence among his fellows which
his prowess in arms had won for him. Such a calling would give his
oratorical powers full scope--a desperate revival among the ebony
brotherhood, from time to time, with two or three funeral-sermons to
each lay brother or lay sister of peculiar sanctity, being just the
thing to set them off to the highest advantage. Nor would this be all.
While making the great display, he would be doing a little good--casting
bread upon the waters, to be found many days hence; _i.e._, spreading
the glad tidings of damnation to nearly everybody born to die, and of
salvation to a select few--just enough to keep the angels from getting
lonesome--conspicuous among whom were our good old Abram, John Calvin,
and Burlman Reynolds.

The lucky sect thus reënforced was that once known as the
Anti-missionary Baptists, sometimes called the "Ironside Baptists,"
sometimes the "Hard-shell Baptists," having, as is usually the case with
hard cases, hard names. I use the expression "once known," since, if I
mistake not, the order has, in these latter days, deceased; dying of
sheer decrepitude, with no weeping mourners around it, being intestate
and insolvent, and is now to be numbered with the things that were--an
old man's tale, the blunder of an hour.[3] That so broad and warm and
genial a nature as that of our hero should have gone for refuge and
spiritual comfort to a creed so narrow, cold, and gloomy, admits of no
easy explanation, especially when we consider that remarkable clearness
of mental vision which enabled him to see the reason existing in all
things; often, too, when a Solomon, or a Socrates, or a Seneca, might
have stared his eyes out in trying to see it for himself. But when he
took to preaching, he was dwelling in the midst of a Hard-shell
community; and, perhaps, like the overwhelming majority of mankind, from
enlightened to savage, from Christian to fetich, Burlman Reynolds was
but chameleon to his surroundings. Yet, notwithstanding the somber
complexion of his new vocation, and the more than somber complexion of
his creed, outside of the pulpit his reverence was as genial, jolly, and
joky as the cheeriest, smilingest, comfortingest, most latitudinarian
Methodist preacher you ever had at your bedside to help you look your
latter end in the face, through the dubious issues of a surprise attack
of cramp colic, or an overwhelming onslaught of cholera morbus. Indeed,
it not unfrequently happens that the human heart is better than the
human creed, and the Rev. Burlman Reynolds was wont to square his life
by the dictates of his inward monitor rather than by the dogmas of his
outward mentor. Many of these dictates he embodied in words, a few of
which I shall take the liberty of quoting _verbatim_. Among them are
some of his religious opinions, which will be found to have a somewhat
latitudinarian smack, as is often the case where the heart is better
than the creed:

[Footnote 3: Since writing the above, the author has learned that,
outside of Kentucky, the sect alluded to still exists to some extent in
some of the neighboring States.]

"Dar's reason in all things, ef dar's reason in people."

"Baptizin' won't do you no good, onless you let it wash you clean all
ober, an' keep you clean foreber."

"Ef a pusson wants to be a Chrischun jes' about in spots, w'y, den
sprinklin' will do; but ef he wants to be a Chrischun all ober, he mus'
go clean under an' make a soaker uf it."

"De Lord ain't gwine to lub you much, onless you lub yo' neighbor."

"Don't tickle yo'se'f a-thinkin' you 'll eber be a angel up dar, onless
you's been a good S'mar'tan here."

"De Lord help dem to 'lect dem who helps to 'lect demselves."

"Don't you think, beca'se you's got a leetle grace, you kin do what you
please in dis worl', den say yo' pra'rs befo' you die an' go right
straight to heaben. G'long wid sich grace!"

"Whar's de use an' de sense uf a pusson's bein' mizzible an' out uf
sorts when he's 'live an' ain't a-sufferin', an' got a good home to go
to when it's all ober? Git out!"

Less elegant in manner, it may be, but quite as good, we think, in
matter, as many a saw and dogma that have been flung at our foolish
world, time out of mind.

We have more than once paralleled our hero, in his passion for martial
renown, to Alexander the Great, Napoleon the Great, and Mumbo Jumbo the
Great. Somewhat singular to say, the parallel does not stop with this
point of common resemblance. According to Mr. Abbott's interminable
eulogy--Mr. Abbott was an American and a clergyman, consequently a
Republican and a Christian--the hero of the Russian Campaign, of
Waterloo, etc., after his retirement to the Rock, became deeply
interested in theology, fighting being no longer a pastime he could
indulge in unless by pugilistic assault on the British guards, which,
contrary to his past experience, would have been entirely at his own
expense, hence uncomfortable. And here we find him talking so well--this
grand disturber of the world's peace--so profoundly, so beautifully, so
reverently, of the Prince of Peace, that we cannot help wondering why he
had never allowed some evidence of his religious sentiments to appear in
his actions, when he stood so conspicuous before the world, and such a
display would have redounded so vastly to his credit--made him "the
Washington of worlds betrayed."

As respects Alexander, the parallel still shows a shadow, though over
the left. The Fighting Nigger, upon retiring from his war-path, tried
his best to do the godly thing, and made his Christian convictions
manifest in the life he wished to live. Alexander, on retiring from his
great war-path, tried to do the godlike thing, and made his heathenish
hallucinations manifest in the death he didn't wish to die.

As to the third worthy in our list, I cannot continue the parallel with
due regard to facts, the imagination of the historian having thrown as
yet no light on the latter days of the great Mumbo Jumbo. But that the
parallel should he found to hold good to the last degree of coincidence,
may safely be inferred from what the lights of our age have been telling
us for the last forty years of the latent saint inherent in the nature
of ebony, from Ham, the favorite son of Noah, down to Uncle Tom, the
best man that ever lived.

But to return and make a third start toward the end of our story. When
he heard that his young master had received a captaincy in the Johnson
regiment of mounted riflemen--the finest regiment, by the way, that
figured in the Second War--Big Black Burl felt his heart beginning to
glow with the martial ardor of his younger days. But when he saw the
young captain, where, in the broad green meadow in front of the house,
he was drilling his company, all mounted on fine horses and arrayed in
their gallant backwoods uniforms, then did Burlman Reynolds feel the
Fighting Nigger rising rampant within him, insomuch that he could not
endure the thought of being left behind. So he made an earnest petition
to his master to be allowed to go along, just to groom the "Cap'n's
horse," to clean the "Cap'n's gun," and to see that the "Cap'n always
got plenty to eat--mo' dan his dry rations--a squirrel, or a partridge,
or eben a fat buck, which he an' Betsy Grumbo would take a delight in
providin' fur him." And to humor the good old fellow, Captain Reynolds
bid him go and don his bear-skin rigging, shoulder Betsy Grumbo, mount
young Cornwallis, and take his place in the ranks of war. But here we
are at the end of our chapter, and not a word of the figure the Big Bear
made in the great North-west. This, though, amounts to but little--the
omission amounting to nothing.



Chapter XIX.

HOW BIG BLACK BURL FIGURED AT THE DEATH-STAKE.


Burl had made it his habit, whenever the army halted and pitched tent
for the night, to shoulder his rifle and take a solitary turn through
the neighboring woods, if haply he might not bring down a squirrel, or a
partridge, or it might be a fat buck, that the "Cap'n" might have
something juicy and savory wherewith to season and reënforce his
sometimes scanty and never very palatable rations. But toward the close
of this hazy October day, already thrice alluded to, when the army had
encamped for the night, the humor, as luck would have it, seized Captain
Reynolds to accompany his trusty forager in the accustomed evening hunt.
So they set out together, and had not penetrated a mile into the forest
to the northward, when on coming to a bushy dell they had the good
fortune to start a fine buck, which Captain Reynolds brought down and
had Burl to shoulder, proposing to take it whole to camp, that he might
share it with his men. Hardly had they turned to retrace their steps,
when suddenly, before Reynolds could reload his gun, or Burl disencumber
himself of the buck, they found themselves completely surrounded by at
least a dozen savages, who, hovering about the enemy's van, had spied
the stragglers and laid in ambuscade to capture them, though all but
within rifle-range of the American pickets. Taken by surprise, and
outnumbered two to one, any attempt at resistance or escape would have
been instant death. So they surrendered at once, and quietly suffered
themselves to be stripped of their arms and accouterments, which being
done in a twinkling, they were swiftly borne off through the woods.

The audacious savages, having made two or three circuits to avoid the
American outpost, set their faces due north-east, then pursued their
course without swerving to right or left. The sun went down, the moon
came up, on those Canadian wilds. Ever and anon, as swiftly held they
onward, other Indians, singly or in squads, would fall into the file,
gliding from out the mingled gloom of forest shade and night, as
suddenly and silently as the shapes which flit through troubled dreams.
Among these, by and by, appeared a warrior of gigantic stature, who
putting himself at the head of the file, stalked on a little in advance,
and seemed to be their leader.

Captain Reynolds now felt convinced that they had fallen into the hands
of some of Tecumseh's scouts, through whom that vigilant leader kept
himself continually informed of the enemy's movements, if, peradventure,
at some moment he might find them off their guard, either to be drawn
into an ambuscade by day or surprised in camp by night. Unswervingly due
north-east the night-marchers held their course for several miles, the
warrior gliding on before them, like a gigantic specter there to lead
them over the shadowy borders of another world. So it seemed to Burl,
who felt his spirit strangely troubled within him whenever an opening
through the forest, letting in the hazy glimmer of the moon, brought
that huge bulk less vaguely before his eyes; and once in particular, as
they neared the summit of a big bald hill, when the warrior for an
instant towered in lofty, dim relief against the starry sky. Toward
midnight, the party descended from the upland forest into the valley of
the Thames, and shortly afterward reached the Indian camp. Here the
prisoners were placed in the custody of fresh keepers, and all lay down
to rest, stretched out on the ground near one of the numerous camp-fires
which, by this time burning low, shone like great glow-worms along the
side of the valley.

The dim light of another hazy October day was creeping chillily over
those forest wilds, when a heavy hand shaking him roughly by the
shoulder roused Big Black Burl from his slumbers. Scrambling to his
feet, and drowsily looking around him through that foggy confusion of
thought and perception through which sons of ebony after a sound sleep
needs must pass in getting back to their waking senses, the black hunter
caught a broad, vague view of something which made him fancy that he was
still flat of his back on the ground and dreaming of the giant warrior
who had led in the night-march. The moment after, more at himself, yet
lingering still on the misty borders of nod-land, he fancied that what
he saw just there before him must surely be a ghost; and at this
horrible thought the negro gave a big start, which brought him by a
shorter cut than usual out of his sleepy fog into the clear light of his
wide-awake senses. All but within reach of his hand, there stood before
him in bodily form that terrible Wyandot giant Black Thunder--that
redoubtable warrior whom the Fighting Nigger had so long and fondly
fancied he had slain in valiant fight, and his victory over whom he had
ever since held up and trumpeted abroad as the crowning glory of all his
martial exploits. The recognition was mutual, for never had either seen
the other's like but once before, and that, too, under circumstances
which neither was ever likely to forget. If the recognition was mutual,
so was the surprise.

"Ugh!" exclaimed the Indian, as he bent his wild, panther-like eye on
the black giant with a look of undisguised astonishment, which gradually
darkened into a smile of ferocious joy and triumph.

"U-gooh!" exclaimed the negro, as he fixed his wild, ox-like eye
unflinchingly on the red giant, but with a look of unspeakable
amazement, which gradually vanished, leaving his face with a cast as
impenetrable as black marble.

Having surveyed his captive from top to toe in exulting silence for some
moments, Black Thunder turned abruptly on his heel and strode away, to
be seen no more that morning. Burl was still staring after his old
acquaintance when his young master, who had with some surprise witnessed
the dumb-show of mutual recognition, came up and inquired what it meant.
Burl explained, and having noticed the ugly smile with which he had been
regarded, could not help foreboding the terrible fate that must await
them if their lives lay at the mercy of that revengeful savage whom he
had once made bite the dust.

By this time the allied English and Indian armies were all astir, and
the disorderly retreat began afresh, Tecumseh keeping his Indian brigade
half a mile in the rear of the regulars. Toward the middle of the
afternoon the party that had the white prisoners in keeping, having
gradually fallen behind the line of march, abruptly turned into the
mouth of a dingle which, deep and shadowy, opened gloomily into the
valley of the Thames. Here, for the first time since morning, our
luckless hunters spied Black Thunder, where a little farther within the
dingle, as if there in waiting for them, he was vehemently, though not
loudly, haranguing some fifteen or twenty of his warriors who, clustered
in a close red knot before him, were taking in with ravenous ears his
every word. Evidently the evil, foreboded by Burl in the morning, was in
some shape near at hand, for a fierce gesture flung toward them from
time to time by the speaker, with the vengeful glances of his listeners
in the same direction, told but too plainly the drift of the harangue.
At length, as if to make the surer of their savage sympathies and give
the climax to his barbarous appeal, Black Thunder suddenly threw back
his robe and disclosed to view two scars--a deep and ugly one in the
arm, a long and ghastly one athwart the breast. Whereat uprose a chorus
of yells expressive not so much of savage sympathy as of savage delight.
The moment after, seized foot, with brush-wood to feed the devouring
flames heaped up against him to his shoulders, there stood Big Black
Burl, a victim doomed to the fiery tortures of the death-stake.

Helpless himself, Captain Reynolds could not choose but stand where he
was and become a witness of the harrowing spectacle--too harrowing for
any Christian eye to behold, even were the victim but the poor dumb
brute, who has only his howlings to tell of his agony; but that his
affectionate, faithful, brave old Burl should ever have come to a fate
so terrible, wrung his heart with unshakable anguish--anguish the
keener, when he reflected that this had never been but for that very
heroism which, on a beautiful summer morning in the days long gone, had
wrought deliverance to him, a forlorn little captive, and restored him
to the love of a lone and widowed mother. O that ever this should be!
And the strong man wept, as wept had he never till that sad day.

"O Mars'er Bushie!" cried Burl, in a firm, even comforting voice, "don't
you cry for yo' pore ol' nigger. 'T won't be long 'fore he'll be turnin'
up all right in de kingdom. Soon or late, we mus' all come to de end uf
our journey; an' dis arter all's but a short cut to glory. Ef you eber
slips de clutches uf dese wretches, Mars'er Bushie, an' libes to git
back home, tell eb'rybody good-by fur me. Tell Miss Jemimy her ol'
nigger never forgot, de longes' day he eber libed, how much she wanted
to give him his freedom. An' tell Sinar, my wife, how her ol' man tried
to die like a Chrischun gwine to glory. An' tell her, too, when de time
will come fur her to cross de Jordan water she'll fin' her ol' man
waitin' to meet her on de odder side, wid a cabin snug an' ready, all
happy an' safe in de promis' lan'."

Here, as if the closing words had suggested it to his mind, the poor old
fellow lifted up his powerful and melodious voice and began singing a
simple negro hymn, which, with a plaintive melody, had for its burden
the following words:

   An' I hope to gain de promis' lan',
     Halle--halleluyah!
   An' I hope to gain de promis' lan',
     Yes, I do!
   Glory, glory, halle--halleluyah!
   Glory, glory! Yes, I do!

The death-pile kindled, the smoke of its burning in dense black volumes
enveloped the victim. Linked in a horrible circle around it, whooping
and yelling and singing their war-songs, leaping and whirling and
dancing their war-dance, clashing together their hatchets and war-clubs,
waving above them the scalps of their foemen, went the barbarians merry
as demons. And strong and clear, with never a quaver, still was heard
above the confusion the hymning voice of the smoke-hid victim. But
louder and higher than all, it is coming, ringing from far like the
blast of a trumpet--a voice so stern, abrupt, and imperious that
forthwith ceases the fiendish fandango. Up dashes a warrior mounted on
horseback, leaps to the ground, and now at the death-pile seizes the
fagots and scatters them broadcast, stamping upon them with moccasined
feet to smother the flames till all is extinguished.

The savages--erst so active and lively--taken aback at his sudden
appearance, now stood sullenly huddled together, somewhat apart in the
gloom of the dingle. The fire extinguished, the chieftain--for such his
dress and bearing bespoke him--wrathfully, scornfully, sternly rebuked
them for their unmanly and barbarous treatment of a defenseless man and
a captive.

In the course of his experience as trader and agent among the Indians,
Captain Reynolds had picked up quite a smattering of several Indian
tongues, which now enabled him to understand perfectly what the chief
was saying. Even had he not been possessed of this knowledge, he could
have readily followed the drift of the speaker's words by noting his
gestures, looks, and the tones of his voice, so distinct and forcible
were they, and so pointed with meaning.

The appearance of this man was prepossessing in the highest degree,
displaying as it did every requisite of mind and body that can ennoble
and dignify manly beauty. He stood at the summit of his prime, his form
erect and symmetrical, though somewhat stouter than is usually to be
found in men of his race. His bearing was graceful, lofty, and
commanding; his eye eagle-like in its unflinching brightness; his face,
in its European regularity of feature and clearness of outline,
eminently handsome, showing in its lines the energy and intelligence of
a great mind, true to itself and to the best impulses of human nature.
He was dressed in the peculiar and picturesque costume of his people,
made magnificent by fineness of material and the richness of decoration.
Besides the usual Indian weapons, all of polished steel and
silver-mounted, he wore a handsomely hilted English broad-sword, though
less as an ornament than as a badge of rank, or mark of distinction.

Word having reached him that Black Thunder and his party had fallen
behind the line of march, and to what bloody-minded intent their whoops
and yells, heard in that direction, plainly enough attested, the chief,
prompt to the call of humanity, had galloped back, as just described, to
arrest and rebuke a proceeding so inhuman and so unwarrior-like. His
rebuke ended, he turned to take a look at the prisoner whom he had
rescued from the flames, but of whom he had as yet seen nothing, the
smoke at the moment of his coming up still hovering heavily over the
death-pile.

The Big Black Brave with a Bushy Head still stood bound to the tree, yet
without the mark or even the smell of fire upon his person, excepting a
slight singeing of his fleecy locks and bear-skin cap, not to mention a
smart watering at the eyes, the effect of the smoke. Ah--smoke! I find
that I have unwittingly made an important omission, for which I owe you
an apology, kind and sympathetic reader. I should have told you that a
heavy shower of rain had fallen but a few hours before the kindling of
the death-pile, which, as needs must, had left the brush-wood in better
condition for heavy smoking than for lively combustion. Had I mentioned
this circumstance in its proper place, I should have spared your tender
sensibilities somewhat by giving you something contingent to catch at as
suggestive of possible intervention. But to return.

The instant the chief, with a sweep of his eagle-like eye, had scanned
those huge, grotesque proportions, he threw up his hand with a gesture
of surprise, and a look of recognition lighted up his handsome face.
Whereupon, as if needing nothing more to tell him who had been the prime
mover in the day's outrage, and the base motive that had led to its
perpetration, he turned abruptly upon Black Thunder, where sullen and
lowering, his giantship stood with folded arms apart from the rest, and
flung at him a rebuke so withering in its scorn, so burning in its
generous indignation, that the big barbarian quailed from before it,
daunted and abashed. Then, without further ado, the chief went, and
cutting the thongs of buffalo-hide which bound the captive to the tree,
set him at liberty, and with a wave of his hand in the direction whence
the American army was approaching, said in English, "Go."

To be thus jerked back by the skirts, so to speak, from the open jaws of
death by a single savage had proved more confounding to the steadfast
mind of Big Black Burl than when but a few minutes before he was dragged
thither by twenty, insomuch that ever since the unexpected surcease of
the fiendish frolic he had continued to stare about him in a state of
bewilderment not unlike that twilight fog of thought and sense through
which he was wont to pass from sound asleep to wide awake. But no sooner
did he feel that he was foot-loose and hand-loose again than he was all
his own collected self once more, and to the welcome gesture and
friendly word thus answered: "I yi, my larky! Much obleeged to you fur
puttin' out de fire, but smoke me ag'in ef you ketch me gwine 'way from
dis holler widout Mars'er Bushie," giving a side-long roll of his big
black thumb toward his young master.

How much of this speech the chief really understood were hard to say;
but having heard it, he turned, and for a few moments earnestly regarded
the young Kentuckian where, in delighted surprise at the unlooked-for
turn their ugly adventure had taken, he had stood the while, and now,
with the liveliest interest, was awaiting the upshot. Then, as if
comprehending fully the circumstances of the case, the chief ordered
Black Thunder to restore both prisoners their arms and accouterments,
and whatever else had been taken from them--a command sullenly but
promptly obeyed. All being ready, their deliverer, speaking again in
English, but this time addressing himself to the white man, said,
"Follow me!" and, setting his face westward, led the captives from the
spot. To avoid the risk he must run of falling in with the American
scouts or pickets, their guide ascended at once into the upland forest,
through whose shadows lay not only their most secret but shortest
route. As they gained the summit of the steep overlooking the dingle
where his death-pile had been kindled, the Fighting Nigger--the
Preaching Nigger fast asleep within him--made a momentary pause. Waving
his bear-skin war-cap loftily over his head, he sent down to Black
Thunder, triumphantly and defiantly, his old war-cry, so often heard in
the stormy days of long-ago in the land of the Dark and Bloody Ground,
now filling those Canadian wilds with gigantic echoes which, flying
affrightedly hither and thither, for full three minutes thereafter kept
hill-top saying to hill-top, dingle to dingle, "I yi, you dogs!"



Chapter XX.

HOW KUMSHAKAH FIGURED IN THE LIGHT OF THE SETTING SUN.


The red man foremost, the black man hindmost, and the white man between,
silently, swiftly they wended their way through the mazes, green and
brown, of the autumn-painted forest. "What manner of man is this," the
young Kentuckian could not but say to himself, "at whose voice the
fierce, unruly warriors of the wilderness stay their barbarous hands,
from before the glance of whose eye their doughtiest champions quail,
and under whose hand the captive goes forth again into life and
freedom?"

Having with his war-cry eased his heart in a measure of the surplus joy
and triumph he felt at their deliverance, Big Black Burl could now
content himself to go for a mile or more without speaking a word. He
failed not, however, to steal from time to time a prying glance at their
deliverer from over his master's shoulder. At the first glance nothing
in particular struck his mind, excepting that he thought the red
stranger was a wondrously handsome and gallant-looking man for an
Indian. At the second glance a fancy began to steal into his thoughts
that at some time of his life he had had a dream in which he had seen
such a form and face as that he now had before his eyes. At the third
glance it began to dawn upon him that he had not only dreamed of seeing
but really had seen that man before. At last, having fairly succeeded in
cornering a dodging, skipping sprite of a recollection which he had been
chasing about in his memory for the last ten minutes, Mish-mugwa, in
open-eyed amazement, brought himself along-side Shekee-thepatee, to
whose ear bending down he exclaimed in a big whisper, "Kumshy!"

Reynolds started. A vague something of the sort had been flitting before
his mind ever since the stranger's sudden appearance at the dismal scene
in the dingle. During the many years that had come and gone since that
eventful first of June, he and Burl had often talked of the good and
brave young Indian warrior who had shown himself so gentle and true a
friend to the forlorn little captive in his hour of peril and need. In
brightest remembrance had they held him ever since, coupling every
mention of his name with some expression of gratitude or admiration, or
with the mutual remembrance of some pleasant incident of his sojourn
among them. Yes, though changed from the bright-eyed, graceful youth
they had known him, they felt in their hearts that their deliverer could
be none other than their old friend Kumshakah. But who was Kumshakah?

Without opening his lips to speak a word, or turning his head to glance
behind him, silently, swiftly glided the Indian on before them, straight
against the setting sun. At length, late in the day, after traversing
the forest for some miles, they came to the head of a quiet little dell
which, scooped out smoothly from among the hills, descended without a
curve to the valley of the Thames. Here the chieftain halted, and
pointing before him, his bright eyes turned now full and clear upon
them, said in English, "Your friends."

Looking in the direction pointed out, and running their eyes down a long
vista made through the trees of the dell by a brook on its way to the
main stream, our hunters spied the American army where, at the distance
of a mile, it had halted to encamp for the night. The tents, already
pitched and all agleam in the low light of the sun, were scattered
picturesquely about among the trees at the bottom of the dell, which
then expanding like the flaring mouth of a bugle opened into the wider
valley of the Thames. Setting the butt of his rifle on the ground and
resting his hand upon the muzzle, the young Kentuckian now addressed the
chieftain, not only speaking to him in his own language, but adopting
the poetical and figurative style of expression peculiar to his people:

"This day many hands strong and cruel opened the doors of death to push
us burning through; but one hand stronger than them all shut the doors
and drew us back into the paths of the living. He has led us forth in
safety from the midst of our deadly foes, and now bids us return in
peace to our own people. We are glad; we are thankful. Who our deliverer
is we know; our eyes, our ears, our hearts have told us already. Who
should it be but Kumshakah, the savior of the boy Shekee-thepatee, the
friend of the Big Black Brave, Mish-mugwa?"

"Your eyes and your ears and your hearts have told you untruly," replied
the chief. "Nor yet have they wholly deceived you. I am not Kumshakah,
but Kumshakah's twin brother. More than twenty times has spring made
green the forest since Kumshakah started out on his first war-path. But
they who went with him returned without him, saying, 'Kumshakah has
fallen in the land of the Dark and Bloody Ground under the hand of the
Big Black Brave with a Bushy Head.' Then went I out into the forest,
wandering in lonely places, and mourning my much-loved brother. But
before another moon had turned her face full and broad upon the earth,
Kumshakah returned, and there was a light in his eye brighter than that
of the warrior's triumph. The story he told us you know; what we felt in
our hearts you can guess. Who Mish-mugwa was I knew full well. I had
seen him in battle; had heard his war-cry. Afterward I saw him from
where I lay in ambush, his life at my mercy, but I lifted not my hand
against him, for he was the friend of my brother, and they had smoked
the peace-pipe together."

"Then, where is Kumshakah," inquired Reynolds, "since our deliverer be
not he whom we loved as a brother?"

"Twenty times has autumn made yellow the forest," replied the chieftain,
"since the Great Spirit called and Kumshakah answered and went his way.
And before the going down of another sun the Great Spirit shall call
again, when Kumshakah's brother shall answer and go his way likewise."
Then, with a look of grateful interest, the chief inquired: "But tell
me, is the mother of Shekee-thepatee still alive? or have the swift
years borne her to the dwelling of Wahcoudah?"

"She is still alive," was the reply; "and with pleasant days has
Wahcoudah blessed her since that morning when she bid him depart in
peace whose goodness had restored to her the only child of her love, the
chief joy of her heart. When we return and tell her that we have seen
the brother of Kumshakah, and that, like Kumshakah, he is the protector
of the helpless, the deliverer of the captive, the tidings will fill her
with thankfulness and gladness. Then shall she say, 'But who is
Kumshakah's brother, that mighty man whom the bold red warriors of the
wilderness hold in such respect and awe, and at whose bidding they speed
them to obey?' What shall our answer be--will the brother of Kumshakah
tell us?"

"Since you loved my brother," rejoined the chief, "and it had pleased
you had I been he, then call me Kumshakah, for what I have done I have
done in his name and with his heart, and the time is close at hand when
it will matter but little by what name I am known." The Indian said
this with a melancholy smile. Then, with the light of the setting sun
now thrown about him broad and strong, he thus proceeded with his
answer: "Then may you tell your people that Kumshakah is dust, and
truly. For though we part as friends to-day, to-morrow we meet as foes;
and my heart is telling me that the might of the Shemanols shall
prevail, that the blood-red banner of the English Manakee shall be laid
in the dust, and that the ambushed army of the red man shall be broken
and scattered. Then farewell to Kumshakah! When the battle is ended,
search for him on the bloody war-plain, and you shall find him where he
lies among the slain. If, then, you would know more of the fallen
warrior, ask the sun that shines who Kumshakah is, and he shall answer:
'A shadow on the ground;' ask the winds that blow, and they shall
answer: 'An echo in the woods;' ask the rains that fall, and they shall
answer: 'The dust that feeds the oak and the willow.' If you would know
who Kumshakah was, ask his people, who weep that he is fallen, and they
shall answer: 'One who loved us, and for our sake laid down his life;'
ask his foes, who rejoice that he is fallen, and they shall answer: 'One
who hated us, and warred against us to the death.' And should the
children of the days hereafter rise and ask their sires who Kumshakah
was, then shall the tongue of tradition make answer: 'One who lived and
died, endeavored and failed.' If such, then, be his story, why should
more than this be known of Kumshakah? Let him sleep. Wahcoudah's will be
done.

"White man, let us look another way."

Then, with the weird light of prophecy in his eye, imparting to its
wonted brightness a mystical dimness, the Indian chief thus ended:

"White man, listen! Up from the opening east, where the birds of morning
are singing, the rising sun is leading your people over the earth to
riches, to power, and to glory Down into the closing west, where the
birds of evening are silent, the setting sun is leading my
people--whither, who shall say? But to become extinct, and be numbered
with the things forgotten. But who shall say that the same Great Spirit
who dwells in the rising sun, bidding his white children go forth and
toil upon the earth, dwells not also in the setting sun, bidding his red
children come and rest in the happy hunting-grounds? It is even so, and
it is well. Let Wahcoudah rule. Rule, great Wahcoudah!"

Here paused the Indian for a moment, his eagle-eye unflinchingly bent on
the setting sun. "Yes, it is even so, and it is well," he repeated. "Let
great Wahcoudah's will be done. White brother, farewell! and you, my
black brother, both farewell!"

In silence each took, in his turn, the proffered hand, Reynolds too
profoundly moved at the Indian's words to speak, and Burl, overawed at
his manner and appearance, which, while he was speaking, had risen into
the solemn and sublime. Without another word, he was gone. They followed
him with their eyes as swiftly, duskily he went gliding away through the
glimmering shades of evening. As he reached the brink of the hill on
which they stood, a parting beam from the setting sun--sent streaming,
broad and bright and red, through a vista in the forest--poured round
him for an instant a flood of melancholy glory. A moment more, and the
Indian chief had vanished--plunged in the twilight depths of the valley
beyond.

That night, as the young Kentuckian lay sleeping in his tent, still
through his dreams he saw that face--a face it was to leave an image on
the eye. And still through his dreams he heard that voice--a voice it
was to leave an echo in the ear. The face reflecting ever the light of
the setting sun; the voice repeating ever, "Rule, great Wahcoudah!"



Chapter XXI.

HOW THE GLORY OF HIS RACE FIGURED IN HIS SETTING.


The following day was the fifth of October, 1813, whose sun beheld the
memorable Battle of the Thames, when, for the last time in the regions
of the North, the Lion and the Eagle met in fight.

The final retreat had begun at Fort Malden, a strongly fortified post on
the shores of Lake St. Clair, at the mouth of the Thames, where an
effectual stand might have been made against the farther advance of the
now victorious Americans. Such was the opinion of Tecumseh, and on
learning that his white ally had resolved to destroy and abandon the
fort to the intent of withdrawing still farther, even to the central
regions of Canada, he had boldly opposed the movement as unnecessary,
and being unheeded, had scornfully denounced it to his ally's very face
as unwarrior-like, dishonorable, contemptible. Had the civilized general
hearkened to the savage leader, the result of the war in that quarter,
if not more successful to the British cause, would certainly have been
far less dishonorable to the British name. During the retreat, the
heroic sachem had earnestly and repeatedly recommended a sudden and
determined face-about on their pursuers, and only the night before the
decisive battle he had urged a backward movement, that, under screen of
the darkness, they might surprise the sleeping enemy in his camp, and
overpower him before any combined resistance could be made. But all in
vain. His white ally was but a fat poltroon--"a big, fat, cowardly
dog," to use Tecumseh's own comparison, "that carries his tail curled
fiercely over his back till danger threatens, then drops it between his
legs and slinks away."

Throughout the war, this Proctor had displayed far more enterprise and
address as a plunderer than as a fighter, and now his sole end and aim
was the conveying of his precious booty and his precious body as
speedily as possible to some place of security before he should be
overtaken. But by means of this very booty with which in his greediness
he had overloaded himself, and the keeping of which he had far more at
heart than the maintaining of his own or his country's honor, he was
fated in the end to overwhelm himself with ruin and disgrace, since, by
the unwieldy clog thus laid upon his movements, he had doubled his risk
of being overtaken; and, with such a general, to be overtaken is to be
defeated; and to be defeated, ruined.

At last, after having pursued his heavy, blundering flight far up the
Thames to a place called Willow Marsh, near Moravian Town, and finding
that the American van was pressing close upon his rear, the British
general was prevailed upon by Tecumseh and his own officers to face
about and give the enemy battle. His ground was well chosen. Parallel
with the river and separated from it by a narrow strip of firm land,
over which ran the beaten route, there lay a swamp of considerable
extent which, besides being densely covered with other wet land growth,
was thickly sprinkled over with willows, whence its name, "Willow
Marsh." Across this isthmus Proctor hastily threw his regiment of about
nine hundred regulars, while Tecumseh, with his brigade of about two
thousand warriors, ambushed himself in the fastness of the swamp. On
this occasion, as had he, indeed, on every other occasion of the kind,
the Indian leader displayed a degree of generalship which stands
without parallel in the annals of savage warfare. Pivoting his brigade
on the right of the English regiment, he stretched it out in a long
line, inclined curvingly forward, with the intent of suddenly unmasking
and swinging it round upon the enemy's flank, should he in a body
attempt to force the passage of the isthmus.

About the middle of the afternoon the Americans came marching up in full
force and in orderly array. Inferring at once, from the features of the
ground and from the little that was visible of the enemy, what the
English and Indian line of battle must be, General Harrison promptly
determined upon his plan of attack. The Kentucky regiment of mounted
riflemen, one thousand strong, commanded by Colonel Johnson, he ordered
to open the engagement by falling upon the Indian brigade where he knew
it must be lying concealed in the swamp. His two companies of United
States regulars, with a regiment of volunteer infantry, he sent forward
to make a charge on the British regulars where, with their muskets and
bayonets gleaming in the yellow autumn sunlight, they were seen extended
in a long scarlet line from river to swamp. The general himself would
hold a reserve of fifteen hundred men with which to coöperate as
occasion should direct.

The Americans advanced to the attack with great spirit, and were
received with equal spirit by the Indian wing of the enemy, and with a
steady concert of action unprecedented in Indian warfare. But hardly had
the Kentuckians sent forth their first volley when Proctor, too tender
of his precious body even to strike a single blow for his precious
booty, to say nothing of his precious honor, turned his back square on
the foe and, followed by a small escort of horse, galloped ingloriously
from the field, never drawing bridle till he had gained the shelter of
Fort Chatham, many miles farther up the Thames. Thus hastily deserted by
their general, the regulars, who otherwise had doubtless behaved with
the wonted gallantry of brave Englishmen, threw down their arms with
scarcely a show of resistance and begged for quarter. The white wing of
the enemy thus lopped off at the first blow, the two regiments--the only
part of the American army actually engaged in the contest--now
concentrated upon the red wing, where it still lay concealed within its
swampy covert. Up to this moment the Kentucky regiment of mounted
riflemen had made several ineffectual attempts to dislodge and drive the
Indians from their stronghold, of whom nothing as yet had been seen but
a long, curved line of rifle-smoke which, curling upward from among the
willows and hovering in small blue clouds above the heads of the
ambushed savages, served to trace their order of array.

Meanwhile, the clarion voice of the Indian leader had been heard, in
tones of encouragement, exhortation, and command to his unseen warriors,
rising high and clear above the din of battle. Now, on a sudden, it rang
out stern, abrupt, imperious, like the voice of a trumpet sounding a
desperate charge.

When he found himself deserted by his white ally--the strong hand under
which he and his people had trusted to return to the land of their
fathers--then did the heroic sachem feel that he was fighting the last
battle of a hopeless cause. But too proud to survive a failure so
vast--the blasted hopes of his life, the ruined schemes of his
ambition--he determined to die then and there, and die, too, such a
death as should shed over the very failure an undying glory. To this
intent he would order a general charge, disdaining the further shelter
of his stronghold and meeting the enemy in the open field. True, such a
movement would be utterly at variance with the usages of Indian warfare.
True, also, the enemy to be charged was flushed with present success,
not to mention his being the stronger and made audacious from having
been the pursuer in the chase just ended. But such a movement, from the
fact of its being without example and without hope, would make his skill
as a leader the more apparent, his death as a warrior the more certain
and glorious. Yes, he would order a general charge.

Then, to the amazement of the Americans, the heretofore invisible foe
burst suddenly forth from his ambush, and now, in a long, well-ordered
line, was coming impetuously on to meet them un-Indian-like in the open
field. Headed by their intrepid leader, on they came amain, brandishing
their tomahawks and war-clubs and filling the woods with their appalling
yells and war-whoops. But now, well out of the bushy skirts of the swamp
and able to look about them, they discovered what before their chief had
designedly concealed from them--that the English regulars had all been
captured, and that they were no longer supported by their white allies.
The lengthened array of dusky warriors was observed to pause, to falter,
then, at the next discharge of bullets sent point-blank at them, to
break in pieces, dissolving at once into a mere disorderly rabble. All
order lost, lost was all mutual confidence and all courage. Back, with a
howl of disappointment and dismay, they quailed from before the
advancing foe, and as suddenly as they had appeared, vanished again in
the somber shadows of the marsh.

Hastily rallying about three hundred of his bravest followers,
conspicuous among whom towered the gigantic bulk of Black Thunder, and
inspiring them to heroism by his own example, again was Tecumseh
pressing impetuously forward, his tomahawk brandished aloft and his
trumpetlike voice still ringing high and clear above the rude uproar;
nor paused he till with terrible energy he had hewn his way into the
thick of the enemy's ranks. Now, with tomahawk uplifted, he had planted
himself directly confronting Colonel Johnson, who, mounted on a white
horse, was pressing forward, though desperately wounded, to encounter
the Indian chief, his pistol already leveled. The next instant, and all
in that self-same instant, the white horse dropped dead under his
wounded rider, the pistol went off, a terrible cry was heard, a wild
leap into the air was seen, and hushed was the clarion voice of command.
The red warriors paused, gazed wildly about them, as were they listening
to catch their leader's voice; then, hearing it no more, with a howl of
dismay and despair, which found an echo in a howl as drear from their
fellows crouched in the swamp, they turned and fled. The Battle of the
Thames was over. The might of the Shemanols had prevailed, the blood-red
banner of the English Manakee had been laid in the dust, and the
ambushed army of the red man broken and scattered. The heroic, the
high-minded, the hapless Tecumseh was fallen.

Throughout the action, though he had gallantly headed his company in
every charge, Captain Reynolds had not fired a single shot, lest, by
some unhappy chance, Kumshakah, the preserver of his life, might fall by
his hand. When the battle was over and he had assisted in bearing his
wounded colonel to camp, he hunted up Burl and, bidding him follow,
returned in the course of an hour to the battle-ground, to look once
more on his face who at sunset had said, "Let him sleep; Wahcoudah's
will be done." He had repeated to his old servant what their deliverer
had told them of himself. But having taken in the evidence of his own
senses and already drawn therefrom his own unalterable conclusions, Big
Black Burl could not be made to understand how a man who looked like
Kumshakah, talked like Kumshakah, acted like Kumshakah, called himself
Kumshakah, could be any other than the Kumshakah whom he had met as a
foe, entertained as a guest, parted with as a friend, and ever
afterward loved as a brother. Such was his conviction then, and such it
remained through life.

On reaching the spot where he had seen the hero fall, Reynolds found a
number of his brother soldiers already gathered there, and still others
coming up, all eager either for the first time to behold or to get a
nearer view of the renowned Indian chieftain. With the dead of both
friend and foe strewn thick around him, there he lay, his handsome face
still lighted up with a glorious and triumphant smile, as if the
magnanimous soul that so long had animated those noble features had, in
rising, stamped it there to tell his enemies that, though fallen, he had
fallen and conquered. Beside him, and in striking contrast with his
symmetrical and stately figure, his pleasing and majestic aspect, lay
extended the huge bulk and scowled the terrible visage of Black Thunder.

"Pore, pore Kumshy!" exclaimed Burl, in a pitying voice.

"Yes, poor Kumshakah, and poor Tecumseh, too!" rejoined his master, with
solemn and profound emotion.

"What's dat you say, Mars'er Bushie?" inquired Burl quickly and with a
puzzled look.

Slowly young Reynolds repeated what he had said, and then added: "What
we now see before us, Burl, is all that is left of the great Tecumseh!"

Had this specter of the slain chief risen suddenly from his body and
stood confronting him, the effect on the mind of Big Black Burl could
hardly have been more startling than that caused by this revelation.
Three huge backward strides he made, then motionless stood for many
moments, one foot a step behind the other, his hands uplifted and
outspread, his eyes wide open, staring fixedly with mingled amazement,
incredulity, and awe, at the lifeless body before him.

In his younger days, when the passion for martial glory burned strong
within him, the Fighting Nigger, as we have seen, had been in the habit,
when blowing his own trumpet, of running his warlike exploits into the
fabulous and impossible--not from any direct design of deceiving his
hearers, but merely that he might make his theme as interesting and
wonderful to them as it was to himself; but that the honor of meeting
and overcoming in battle so renowned a warrior as Tecumseh, of whom the
world in which he lived, the great wild West, was so full, should ever
have been his, seemed to Mish-mugwa more fabulous than even his own
fables, and to which all his other achievements, granting them to have
been as prodigious as he was wont to boast them, dwarf into
unmentionable insignificance in comparison. The reader must not fail to
bear in mind that, just here, we are viewing Tecumseh through the eyes
of Burlman Reynolds.

At length, having taken in the evidence of his sight, but as if still
needing that of his touch to set his doubts at rest and convince him
that what he saw there was in verity a bodily form, Burl stole
cautiously up again and softly laid his hand on the breast of the fallen
hero. No sooner had he done so than with a warm, tender rush came
thronging back into his memory all those recollections which, stretching
their bright train from that glorious first of June to that beautiful
Sabbath in the wilderness, he had ever viewed as being the happiest of
his life. But when, linked with these, came back to his mind the
thrilling events of yesterday, suddenly and to the surprise of all
present, excepting his young master, the huge creature, with that
liveliness of feeling peculiar to his race, burst into a blubbering
explosion of tender, pitying, grateful feeling, and cried like a child.

"Pore, pore Kumshy! De good Lord hab pity on yo' soul an' gib you a
mansion, ef it's only a wigwam, somewhar in his kingdom. You's a pore
heathen, we know, but shorely somewhar in his kingdom he'll make room
fur de like uf you." And with this simple oration over Tecumseh's body,
Big Black Burl turned weeping away and followed his sorrowing master
from the field, the stoniness and blindness of Calvinism gone from his
creed forever.

That night, long after the somber autumn sun had set, and the somber
autumn moon had risen, and the victorious foe had laid him down to sleep
in his distant tent, silent as the shadows through which they glided,
they returned to the battle-ground, the red warriors of the wilderness,
to pay the last tribute of respect to their fallen chieftain. Beside a
fallen oak that lay along the verge of the marsh--there, on the spot
where he had made his last stand for the wild people, the wild land, the
wild independence he had loved more than his life--they dug a grave, and
in it laid the mortal remains of the immortal Tecumseh. Then they went
their way, their wild hearts breaking with grief and despair, and he was
left to that solitude of silence and shadow which, like a hallowing
spell inspiring reverence and awe in the minds of the living, ever
lingers round the resting-places of the illustrious dead. But for many a
year thereafter they made it their wont to return thither, as on
pilgrimage to a holy shrine, once more to look with reverent eyes on the
green mound where he lay, and with reverent hands keep back the willows
and wild roses growing too thick around it, that, unshadowed, it might
be ever open to the loving, pitying light of the setting sun.

Thus he died, this Indian Hannibal; thus he set, this Glory of his Race.
Let him sleep! Wahcoudah's will be done! Rule, great Wahcoudah!

THE END.





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