Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Adventures Among the Red Indians - Romantic Incidents and Perils Amongst the Indians of North - and South America
Author: Hyrst, H. W. G.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Adventures Among the Red Indians - Romantic Incidents and Perils Amongst the Indians of North - and South America" ***

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



[Illustration: A STARTLING EXPERIENCE

The world seemed to turn over and slip from under him, his head struck
the gunwale smartly, and he gradually got a dim notion that he was
standing with his back against something hard, and his body at right
angles to that of the Indian in the bows.]



                  *       *       *       *       *



               ADVENTURES
                 AMONG
            THE RED INDIANS

     Romantic Incidents and Perils
         Amongst the Indians of
        North and South America

                   by

             H. W. G. HYRST

               Author Of
  "Adventures in the Great Forests,"
  "Adventures in the Arctic Regions"
                &c. &c.

       With Sixteen Illustrations


                 LONDON
         SEELEY AND CO. LIMITED
        38 GREAT RUSSELL STREET
                  1911



                  *       *       *       *       *



UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME

THE LIBRARY OF ADVENTURE

_Extra Crown 8vo. With many Illustrations. 5/- each_

"Delightful books of adventure, beautifully printed and tastefully got
up."--_Educational Times._

"Boy readers will find a kaleidoscope of brilliant and picturesque
scenes from all lands collected for their benefit."--_Spectator._


ADVENTURES ON THE HIGH MOUNTAINS

  by RICHARD STEAD, B.A. F.R.HIST.SOC.

  _With Sixteen Illustrations_

  "Deeds of heroism and daring fill these lively pages."--_Globe_

ADVENTURES IN THE GREAT FORESTS

  by H. W. G. HYRST

  _With Sixteen Illustrations_

  "The kind of book a healthy English boy will delight in."--_Country
  Life_

ADVENTURES ON THE HIGH SEAS

  by RICHARD STEAD

  _With Sixteen Illustrations_

ADVENTURES IN THE ARCTIC REGIONS

  by H. W. G. HYRST

  _With Sixteen Illustrations_

ADVENTURES IN THE GREAT DESERTS

  by H. W. G. HYRST

  _With Sixteen Illustrations_

  "As stirring as any story of fictitious adventure."--_Glasgow
  Herald_

ADVENTURES ON THE GREAT RIVERS

  by RICHARD STEAD

  _With Sixteen Illustrations_

  "Thrilling stories-plentifully illustrated."--_Globe_

ADVENTURES AMONG WILD BEASTS

  by H. W. G. HYRST

  _With Twenty-four Illustrations_

ADVENTURES AMONG THE RED INDIANS

  by H. W. G. HYRST

  _With Sixteen Illustrations_


SEELEY & COMPANY LIMITED



PREFACE


These pages describe the adventures of men whom duty or inclination
has brought into contact with the Indians of the entire American
continent; and, since every day sees the red race diminishing,
or abandoning the customs and mode of life once characteristic of
it, such adventures must necessarily relate mainly to a bygone
generation.

To-day the Indians form a bare sixtieth of the American population, a
falling off for which the colonist has been responsible both actively
and involuntarily. The history of the red man's relations to those who
ultimately were to be his rulers is a painful one; massacres and
cruelties on the one side led to reprisals of a similar nature on the
other. Happily the days of persecution and revolt are now ended; some
few of the natives have intermarried with whites and have adapted
themselves to the conditions of modern civilisation; others have
settled down to an inoffensive and gypsy-like life on reserves granted
by the white governments. Meanwhile the whole race--particularly in
the north--continues to diminish. It is not improbable that in the
days of Cortez and Pizarro the Indians were already a dying people;
and that collision with the white invaders only hastened their demise.
The result of this collision is melancholy, and the author of
"Westward Ho!" has put it all into a nutshell. "The mind of the
savage, crushed by the sight of the white man's superior skill, and
wealth, and wisdom, loses at first its self-respect, while his body,
pampered with easily-obtained luxuries, instead of having to win the
necessaries of life by heavy toil, loses its self-helpfulness; and
with self-respect and self-help vanish all the savage virtues."

Bishop Bompas, who spent his life among the Indians of the far
north, says, "the whole of the Tenni race seem to be of a sickly
habit, and are dwindling in numbers. They are not much addicted to
ardent spirits, nor are these now supplied to them, but they have
an inveterate propensity to gamble. Though almost wholly free from
crimes of violence, and not much inclined to thieve, yet heathen
habits still cling to them, and they exhibit the usual Indian
deficiency in a want of stability and firmness of character.... In
sickness the Indians are very pitiful. They soon lose heart, and seem
to die more fro despondency than disease. The constant removals are
trying to the weak and infirm, and in times of distress those who
cannot follow the band are left behind to perish.... The old women
employ themselves in twisting grass or roots or sinew into twine for
sewing or fishing-nets. The men and boys are often busied in shaping
bows, arrows, snowshoes, and sledges.... Their capacity for
civilisation is very limited; none become business men."



CONTENTS


                                                                  page
  CHAPTER I
  CHEROKEE WARFARE

  Indian insurgents and their rifles--The rising of 1793--March
      of Lieutenants Lowry and Boyd--The Indian attack--Sergeant
      Munson--Saving an officer's life--Walking into the battle
      instead of out of it--The third Indian contingent--Munson
      wounded--Prisoners--Taken through the forest--The camp on
      Lake Erie--The chief's sentence--Slavery!--Plans for
      flight--Munson's escape by water--The Cherokee canoemen       17

  CHAPTER II
  THE INVASION OF CORRIENTES

  Southern Indians as soldiers--Andresito Artegas--The war of
      1818-20--An awkward time for British residents--The panic
      in Corrientes--The march of the Indian army--A magnanimous
      chief--Mr. Postlethwaite--Hindrances to good fellowship--A
      quaint vengeance--Schemes for flight--Andresito as a
      guest--A Peruvian blackguard--Flight and pursuit--Running
      for it--A ship in sight--The last struggle for liberty        32

  CHAPTER III
  A CAPTIVE AMONG ARGENTINE INDIANS

  The Guaranian Family--A story of Don Pedro Campbell--Indians
      in pursuit--Ascencion and her sister captured--Taken
      to the _tolderia_--"The Cordoban soldiers are
      coming!"--Escape of the Indians--The two girls made
      slaves--Murder of a young Spaniard--An evening alarm--The
      Macabis--The battle--Ascencion's sister killed--Another
      flight--A strange ship in the river--The Portuguese
      commander--Peter Campbell as rescuer--The Indians
      subdued--Punishing a would-be assassin                        44

  CHAPTER IV
  THE IROQUOIS OF THE CANADIAN BOUNDARY

  The Iroquoian family--Surgeon Bigsby--Coasting on Lake
      Ontario--A strange reception--Saluting "royalty"--Landing
      in the Indian village--The chief's remarkable speech--The
      excitement that a red tunic may cause--The old chief's
      generosity--Further popularity for the doctor--The
      chief's dinner-party--Farewell gifts--The next
      halt--Troubles of a geologist--"César Auguste"--An
      unwelcome passenger--Getting rid of the half-breed            55

  CHAPTER V
  CREEK INDIANS AT PLAY

  U.S. Government and Indians--Captain Basil Hall, R.N.--The
      Creeks--A disappointment--The real Indians--A
      well-timed visit--The local band--The eve of a great
      festival--Dancing--Scarifying--The great day of the
      year--The match-ground--Where are the players?--The
      two teams--A discourteous commencement--Other
      preliminaries--The ball-play begins--Some alterations
      much needed--The end of the game                              67

  CHAPTER VI
  WITH THE DELAWARES AND CREES

  Sir George Head--Across Nova Scotia--Up the St. John
      River--Indian salmon-spearing--A ducking for the
      Major--A novel method of life-saving--The guides'
      limit--A ferocious Cree--Engaging the new
      guide--Irishwoman _versus_ Indian--The ride through
      the pine-forest--Snow--Wolf-tracks--Provisions
      short--The wolves' attack--Keeping the guide in
      order--Trying to be wiser than an Indian--How to kill
      wolves--The Indian camp--Dances                               79

  CHAPTER VII
  AMONG THE FUEGIAN INDIANS

  The Pesherahs of Tierra del Fuego--Admiral Fitzroy--Fuegians
      as boat-thieves--Hostages--An experiment--Fitzroy's
      second voyage--Met by the natives--Compliments and
      curiosity--A puzzle--Indian vanity--Ashore
      again--Hostile natives--"Yammerskooner"--An uncomfortable
      plight for English sailors--A night among unpleasant
      neighbours--Jemmy Button's meeting with his
      relatives--Mr. Matthews's experiences--Jemmy again--Why
      Jemmy stayed among his people                                 95

  CHAPTER VIII
  THE END OF THE “BLACK HAWK” WAR

  What's in a name?--Black Hawk--The Treaty of 1804--How it was
      kept--The Treaty of 1830--The beginning of the end--The
      Illinois militia--Through Wisconsin--Cholera--General
      Atkinson's march continued--The Bad Axe River--An
      unlooked-for meeting--On board the _Warrior_--A
      dialogue--A _mauvais quart d'heure_--The white men's
      revenge--Fording the river, in pursuit--A brief
      battle--The Sioux--Capture of Black Hawk--_Væ victis!_       106

  CHAPTER IX
  PERUVIAN INDIANS

  Lieutenant Smyth, R.N.--The H.M.S. _Samarang_ survey--A rash
      offer--The Jevero Indians--The guides' opinion of their
      employers--How the mountain Indians defy hunger--Coca
      balls--A gruesome neighbourhood--_Alma perdida_--Up the
      Huallaga River--Manatee hunters--Trouble caused by the
      guides--Smyth's presence of mind                             119

  CHAPTER X
  THE CARIBS OF GUATEMALA

  John Lloyd Stephens--A delicate mission--Belize--Reception
      by the British Commanding Officer--Up the river--A
      genial Franciscan--Caught in the storm--A rude
      awakening--"Squaring" the Caribs--Central
      Guatemala--Agricultural Caribs--Hospitality--Catherwood
      seized with fever--The Chargé d'Affaires in a hole--The
      native doctor to the rescue--Any port in a storm--A
      miraculous cure--Caribs and Mestizo rebels--Joining
      forces with the officers--The scuffle--The long mile back
      to British soil--Safe over the boundary                      128

  CHAPTER XI
  A PRINCE’S ADVENTURES IN BRAZIL

  Prince Adalbert of Prussia--Journey across South America--No
      guides--The Brazilian forest--A path discovered--Gathering
      cherries--The mysterious Carib--The visit to the
      village--The cacique's banquet--An unlooked-for
      _taboo_--The bull-fight dance--Carib guides--The Amazon at
      last--Indians among the trees and on the river--The party
      captured by Guaranis--Taken before the cacique--Ransom--An
      unexpected ally--The penitent Guaranis--A tapir hunt         140

  CHAPTER XII
  INDIAN WARFARE IN CALIFORNIA

  Captain Wise, U.S.N.--Sent ashore at Monterey--The march of
      the boat's crew--A Yankee trapper settlement--News of the
      Apaches and Comanches--Indians in the pay of
      Mexico--Preparing for an attack--The night
      alarm--"Hy-yah!"--The four Comanches--The palaver--Trouble
      ahead--The sudden volley--Pursuing the Apaches--Following
      the trail--From the forest to the prairie--A dilemma--The
      battle of the Indians--Capture of the fugitives--A
      surprise                                                     154

  CHAPTER XIII
  WITH THE AYMARAS AND MOXOS

  Prevalence of Indian tribes in Bolivia--The Colla or Aymara
      people--Hugh de Bonelli--The Aymaras as walkers--A walk
      along Lake Titicaca--Seventy miles a day--The Moxos--A
      glorious canoe-ride--Family parties of Indians on the
      river--The gathering of the tribe--The cacique--The
      start for the egg-hunt--Turtle "nests"--A large
      family--Commencement of the digging--Five days' hard
      work--Breaking the eggs--Procuring the oil                   166

  CHAPTER XIV
  A SPORTING TRIP ACROSS THE PRAIRIES

  The Hon. Henry Coke--Across the prairies--Bluffs--The
      Crow guide--Brought to a full stop--Bison in
      sight--Disappearance of the guide and some of the
      baggage--Pursuing him--A hopeless chase in the dark--The
      Indians' camp-fire--The Pawnees--Bargaining for a
      prisoner's life--The new guides--Bison--Cautioning
      the new hands--Some very risky hunting--Cut off from
      the herd--Man down!--Attacked by an infuriated
      bison--Saved by an Indian's presence of mind                 175

  CHAPTER XV
  HOW THE YO-SEMITE VALLEY WAS DISCOVERED

  The Sierra Nevada--The Snakes, or Shoshonees--San
      Francisco--John Savage--José Jerez--Indian
      dissatisfaction--Impressing the savages--Trouble
      with drunken Indians--An anxious drive--Home
      again--Boycott?--Terrible news--Attack on the
      Frezno River store--The return--Indians kept at bay
      by the diggers--An opportune arrival--A wife
      stolen--Pursuit--Volunteers to the rescue--Guided
      by prisoners--Found at last--The surrender in the
      Yo-Semite Valley                                             189

  CHAPTER XVI
  AMONG THE NIQUIRANS AND APACHES

  Julius Froebel--A hazardous project--A travelling Indian
      tribe--A hot march--Niquiran hospitality--"El Dorado"--A
      deserted village--The villagers' gold-mine--Froebel's
      reception--The baskets and their contents--A very
      ill-judged action--Flight--Froebel's wanderings--Ancient
      ruins--A new occupation for the wanderer--The
      Apaches--Firing on the Mexicans' camp--Pursuit through the
      darkness--An unexpected arrest                               204

  CHAPTER XVII
  ACROSS THE UNITED STATES IN A WAGGON

  Mexican Boundary Commission--John Russell Bartlett--An
      ethnologist's hunting-ground--Panic among horses
      and teamsters--The cause--A remarkable sight--A
      bison-surround--Wanton carnage--Approach of the
      Missouris--The presents--The delicate part of the
      bison--Grave warnings--Breakdown of the waggon--The
      Apaches--"Mangus Colorado"--The attack on the inn--The
      Apaches put to flight                                        216

  CHAPTER XVIII
  A JOURNEY TO THE GRAN CHACO

  The Gran Chaco of Western Paraguay--Charles Blachford
      Mansfield--Up the Para--The madman's cold
      dip--Corrientes--Finding canoemen--The Indians--A
      dangerous landing-place--Pitching the
      camp--Supper--_Maté_--A jaguar--Game easily
      obtained--Nearing Asuncion--An inexplicable scare--Hunting
      on the Chaco                                                 226

  CHAPTER XIX
  AMONG THE SERIS OF MEXICO

  Gustav Ferdinand von Tempsky--A risky journey--A
      tropical thunderstorm--A warm reception for the
      travellers--Mistaken for Indians--The road to
      Durango--"They have burnt another village!"--Dr.
      Steel as leader--Von Tempsky's "capture"--The Mexican
      lancers--A scraggy army--Tracking the redskins--
      Sudden appearance of three hundred Indians--Working
      with awkward tools--The fight--Reinforced by Yankees         239

  CHAPTER XX
  A HOLIDAY AMONG THE OJIBEWAS

  The Algonquin family--Charles Richard Weld--A holiday tour in
      Southern Canada--A coach ride over the prairie--Indian
      bullies--Getting rid of them--A rattlesnake
      hunt--Extraordinary method of snake-killing--Ojibewa
      guides--Rapid-shooting without warning--English
      strangers--Major Strickland's farm--Ojibewas as indoor and
      outdoor servants--A great prong-buck hunt--Hunting methods
      of the Ojibewas--The battue                                  252

  CHAPTER XXI
  CHIPPEWYANS AND COLUMBIAN GOLD-DIGGERS

  The Columbian gold find of 1857--H.M.S. _Plumper's_
      task--Lieut. Mayne, R.N.--The Yale rising--Up the Fraser
      in a pinnace--Coming in at the end--The Indians'
      complaint--Night march of the bluejackets--Excitement of
      the Indian guides--Glee turned to fear--Reaching the scene
      of disorder--The miners' outpost--An awful sight--Quelling
      the mob--Struggle of the Indians to save their wigwams
      from the rioters--Disarming the diggers--The Chippewyan
      reinforcement--The lieutenant in an awkward dilemma--The
      palaver--An anxious night                                    264

  CHAPTER XXII
  THE CHIPPEWYANS OF THE COLUMBIAN MOUNTAINS

  John Keast Lord--Across the Columbian Coast
      range--Disadvantage of an escort--Lord's best weapon of
      defence--"Held up" by Indians--Between danger and
      safety--The assailants become guides--Suspicions on both
      sides--A night at the Indian camp--The Canadian's
      discovery--Lord on his mettle--The escape--Indian notion
      of keeping an oath--Signalling--The gorge--The ambush--The
      truth                                                        277

  CHAPTER XXIII
  TWO DAYS IN A MOHAWK VILLAGE

  Johann Georg Kohl--The Quebec Mohawks--The Indian
      village--Some of the villagers--Lodgings--The chief--His
      recollections and his house--His sons--Supper--The evening
      chat--Kohl a _persona grata_--A morning in the
      forest--Lynx traps--"Scratching the Russian"--The black
      bear--Native sport--Old and new customs--A betrothal....     289

  CHAPTER XXIV
  CANADIAN LAKE AND RIVER INDIANS

  The Athapascan family--The Chippewyans--Rev. C.
      Colton--From New York to the Saskatchewan--A
      curious demonstration--Making ready for the
      Chippewyans--The steam-launch aground--Surrounded by
      the canoes--"Sturgeons!"--Making the Indians pay the
      piper--The Lake of the Woods--The Indian fur-traders'
      camp--Bargaining--Chippewyan "lodges"--Start of the
      canoe flotilla--Experiments--The strange river--Too
      late to turn--Rapids--An awful fate ahead--The
      canoemen's presence of mind--A way of escape--Scaling
      the cañon--Towing                                            302

  CHAPTER XXV
  A WALK ABOUT URUGUAY

  Indians of Uruguay--Thomas Woodbine Hinchcliff--A
      solitary walk--The mountain-forest--Lost--A very
      remarkable bull--Sudden appearance of Indian
      cattle-hunters--Lassoing--Breakfast with the
      Indians--Riding, under difficulties--A critical
      moment--Strange method of persuading a
      horse--Thirst--Help in sight, but running away--The
      Indian fellow-traveller--A surprise--Sticking up for
      the Indian--What the vice-consul had to say                  316

  CHAPTER XXVI
  THE EXPLORATION OF THE SALADO VALLEY

  Thomas Hutchinson, F.R.S.--In Santa Fé--A fortunate
      meeting--The steam-launch--Up the Salado--The Gaucho
      farmstead--The Quiteño guide--His luggage--Warnings--Visit
      from the "man-eaters"--The parley from the boat--Feeding
      the savages--Their terror at sight of smoke--Fear of the
      Quiteño--Men who have sunk to monkey level--Fish-bone
      spears--A very indiscreet question--Getting rid of the
      savages--Other Indians--Ostrich-hunting--The Quiteño's
      contempt for the ox-waggon, and its remedy                   328

  CHAPTER XXVII
  BUSINESS AND PLEASURE ON THE LLANOS

  Venezuela--Don Ramon Paez--An extraordinary
      commission--Looking for Indians--Finding them--Native
      fishermen on the Orinoco--The _payara_ and the _caribe_--A
      vicious fish--In search of the three thousand wild
      horses--Business-like lassoing--The aide-de-camp's first
      attempt--The struggle with a wild horse--The race--Rescued
      by a Carib--Deer-hunting with masks                          340



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  A Startling Experience                                  Frontispiece
                                                                  PAGE
  A Gallant Rescue                                                  20
  A Narrow Escape                                                   40
  A Plucky Rescue                                                   52
  A Bully Well Served                                               64
  A Game at Ball                                                    76
  The Snow-shoe Dance of the Red Indians                            92
  A Fierce Retort                                                  126
  Almost a Tragedy                                                 186
  Red Indian Attack on a Store                                     198
  A Bison Surround                                                 220
  Stocking the Larder                                              234
  A Primitive System of Telegraphy                                 286
  A Novel Bridal Ceremony                                          298
  An Arduous Task                                                  312
  Crane Stalking-Masks                                             346



ADVENTURES AMONG RED INDIANS



CHAPTER I

CHEROKEE WARFARE


It has been said by certain historians that, after the American War of
Independence, British agents were employed not only to poison the
minds of those Siouan and Iroquoian tribes that dwelt on the United
States side of the Boundary, but even to keep them supplied with
rifles and ammunition.

Be that as it may, it is certainly a fact that, in 1793, the Cherokee
and Seneca tribes of the Iroquois were not only at war with the Crows,
Iowas, etc., of the rival Sioux faction, but were turning their
mysteriously obtained rifles on the white people of the States; and
the celebrated General Wayne was sent into Ohio with a strong force of
cavalry and infantry to restore order. He pitched his camp near Fort
Jefferson, on Lake Erie, and having driven away the insurgents, sent a
hundred foot-soldiers, under Lieutenants Lowry and Boyd, across the
lake to a fort near Detroit, to bring back by road three hundred
horses and extra provisions, and, incidentally, to disarm any
quarrelsome redskins they might meet with.

The return march was destined to be a very unpleasant one. Large and
small bodies of the Indians whom Wayne had driven to the forests
persistently harried the column, flank and rear, firing from behind
rocks and among the trees, till, in a couple of days, the hundred men
had become only seventy, and many of the horses had escaped or been
stolen. At noon on the third day the men halted for dinner on a barren
tract between a range of hills and a thick forest; and, in order to
guard against a surprise, Lieutenant Boyd with twenty men was sent to
patrol the woods while the rest ate their meal in comfort. Half an
hour later, while Lieutenant Lowry was preparing to send another
twenty men to relieve the scouts, the report of a gun, followed
quickly by a dozen others, warned him that the day was not to be gone
through without further trouble.

[Illustration: A GALLANT RESCUE

Lieutenant Boyd had been sent with twenty men to patrol the wood while
the main body ate their meal. Presently shots were heard, and Sergeant
Munson was sent to bring back an immediate report. He found the
Lieutenant trying to bind his shattered leg. Shooting the foremost
redskin, the Sergeant mounted the officer on his back and, after several
narrow escapes, brought him into camp.]

Every soldier caught up his rifle and made ready to defend the horses
and stores which had been placed in the centre of the camp. Lowry
called a couple of sergeants to him and pointed to the new patrol.

"Take these to Mr. Boyd's assistance; and you, Munson" (to the younger
sergeant) "bring me back word of what is going on. Hark at that!" A
rapid, running fire was beginning, and above Boyd's voice, which was
shouting directions or encouragement to his men, there rose the truly
fearful war-whoop peculiar to the Cherokee Indians. "Hurry; off with
you! I've enough men here to guard the horses in case----"

The little squad plunged into the wood and made for the scene of
action, which could not be far away, judging by the distinctness of
the voices. They arrived after a minute's quick double, and the sight
that awaited them was not an encouraging one. Ten of their comrades
were already dead or dying; the rest were fighting desperately against
a score of Indians, most of whom were armed with rifles in addition to
their bows and hatchets, while, leaning back against a tree, and doing
his best to cheer on the survivors, sat Lieutenant Boyd, his shin-bone
shattered by a bullet.

The new-comers fired a volley; several Indians fell, and the rest were
speedily charged with fixed bayonets. Again came the horrible
war-whoop, this time from a second batch of Indians who either had
just arrived or had been in hiding, and these hastened to pour flight
after flight of arrows into the rescuers from behind.

Young Munson, who was now fighting on the right wing of the little
force, turned swiftly, and, firing off the charge which he had just
rammed down, shot the foremost of the bowmen. But, even as he started
to reload, he remembered his officer's command to return at once with
news; in the hurry and excitement of the last few minutes he had
forgotten all about it. He looked round for the quickest exit from the
wood, and, in so doing, caught sight of Boyd who, faint with the loss
of blood, had been feebly endeavouring to bandage his wound with a
handkerchief. The sergeant threw one more glance back at the soldiers;
many of them had already fallen before the Indian arrows, and the
rest, paying no attention to their new assailants, were pursuing
those who had guns. Then he turned again to the officer. To leave him
here was to abandon him to death, perhaps by torture.

"Can you get on my back, sir? he said hurriedly. Quick; the
redskins'll be on us in another minute. Here, give me a hold of your
pistol; I must leave my rifle unless you can carry it for me."

But the officer had scarcely strength enough to enable him to stand.
With difficulty Munson hauled him upright against the tree-trunk,
snatched up the pistol in case he should need it on the perilous
little journey which he was undertaking, and, hoisting Boyd on his
back, darted among the trees out of sight of the approaching Indians.
On every side of him shooting seemed to be going on; an arrow fell at
his very feet, and the next moment a stray musket-ball flattened
itself against the tree which he was passing. What he could not
understand was that, the nearer he came with his burden to the camp,
the louder and more frequent did the firing sound. Had his mates
already driven the enemy into the open?

A few steps more and he would be out of the wood. But what was all
this prancing and stamping? The horses could hardly have broken loose,
for, since his recent losses, Lowry had had them tethered in batches
whenever a halt of any length was made. The firing grew louder and
faster than ever, and all doubt in his mind was ended when he heard
the lieutenant's voice ordering the men to charge.

While the two bodies of Indians worked such fearful havoc among the
patrols, a third and stronger party--fifty in number, and many of
them mounted--had worked round to the open and were attacking the
remainder of the company with tomahawks and spears. The horses, many
of them already liberated by the savages, were plunging and screaming.
Lowry, who had leapt on to the back of one of them, was cutting right
and left with his sword at the mounted Indians, while his men, though
they fought furiously, were retreating rather than charging, for these
Cherokee redskins, unlike the timid, treacherous bullies of the
southern and western tribes, knew no such thing as fear; moreover, in
addition to their unquestioned bravery, they often displayed, in their
warfare, an amount of forethought and method that would not have
discredited a white regiment.

Naturally, Munson's first care was to get rid of his burden; and he
resolutely turned his back on the fighting and made for the little
tent that had been hastily rigged up for the two officers when the
company halted. Depositing the wounded man here, he snatched up a
rifle and hurried breathlessly back to take part in the fray, which
was but a small part, for, all in a moment, a spear, thrown with
terrific force, struck him in the shoulder and he dropped to the
ground, striking his head on a boulder so violently that he lost
consciousness.

When he recovered himself, some Indians were bending over him, and one
of them asked him, by signs, if he could stand. He contrived to
stagger to his feet; then, finding that his water-flask was still at
his belt, took a long drink from it, for his lips and throat seemed as
dry as the back of his hand.

"Well done, sergeant; bravo!" said someone behind him; and other
voices echoed the sentiment. He turned his head dazedly, and gave a
start of astonishment. Under a tree near him stood ten men of his
company, some of them with heads or limbs roughly bandaged.

"What's up? he asked. What's happened, anyhow?"

One of the Indians here took him by the arm, led him over to the tree,
and signified that he must take his stand with the rest; and now he
could see that those of his comrades who were not wounded had their
hands bound, and that every man had a lasso-like thong tied about his
waist, the other end of which at present trailed loosely on the
ground.

"We're all on us prisoners; that's what's happened," said a corporal
by whose side he had been placed. "I thought _you_ was done for; 'pon
my word I did."

"Where's all the rest?"

"Dead, or else cut their lucky. Lowry, he's gone out, poor feller."

"How about Left'nant Boyd?"

"Guess he got clear after all. I seen two o' the boys gettin' him on
to a saddle-horse. There's one thing, them as got away on horseback'll
soon take the news to Wayne, so if these varmints don't tomahawk us or
set light to us, I surmise he'll soon be along to rescue us.... What's
their game now?"

Several mounted redskins were coming over to the prisoners, and after
a few words with those who had been taking charge of them, made a sign
to the Yankees that they must be prepared to march. The loose ends of
the thongs that bound them were handed up to one or other of the
horsemen, and they were soon being dragged forward at a brisk walking
pace. Munson indicated that he could not walk far till his wound had
received attention, whereupon, instead of treating him like the rest,
the Indians lifted him on to a spare horse, fastened his ankles under
the animal's belly, and one of the mounted Cherokees, seizing the
bridle, rode on with his captive.

The procession turned at once into the thickest part of the forest,
the horses stepping along so quickly, nevertheless, that those on foot
could scarcely keep up with them. Although there was no visible track
for them to follow, the redskins appeared to know quite well where
they were going; they conversed very little among themselves, and
Munson was riding too far away from his comrades to be able to
communicate with them. As nearly as he could guess by the light, it
must have been after five o'clock, and he had eaten nothing since
midday. He signed to his companion that he was hungry, but the Indian
merely shook his head. In about an hour from the time of starting the
horses were stopped, a short conversation ensued among the riders, and
then, to the sergeant's dismay, all moved on again, every one of the
prisoners being taken in a different direction.

Munson's captor, who was now joined by two other savages, turned in
the direction of the lake shore, and, quickening their pace to a
canter, they rode a good twelve miles without stopping. By dark they
arrived at an encampment where there were at least sixty wigwams
pitched. The horses were pulled up, the prisoner's feet were freed,
and he was ordered to dismount. He again made signs that he was
hungry, and this time one of the Indians pointed encouragingly to a
cooking-pot that hung over the nearest fire, and bade him sit down on
the grass.

Presently a squaw brought a kind of meal cake, and, plunging a wooden
fork into the pot, brought out a bird rather larger than a pigeon,
which she laid on the cake and handed to the captive, the three
Indians helping themselves in a similar manner. After a while, voices
and the tramp of more horses became audible, and about fifty Indians,
seemingly of the same tribe as those who had attacked the soldiers,
marched or rode into the camp. Many of these must have been away on a
hunting expedition, for they had with them a good supply of birds,
deer, hares, and foxes.

Feeling considerably stronger and more hopeful after his meal, the
American cast his eyes round in search of a way of escape. He was
unbound, and might possibly succeed in crawling, inch by inch,
down to the water-side; yet, with his shoulder in its present
condition, he could neither swim nor--supposing he should have the
luck to find a canoe--work a paddle; reason, moreover, suggested
that a semi-permanent camp such as this appeared to be, would
assuredly be far enough away from any white station or boat-route.

While he was still revolving plans, two redskins crossed over to him,
made him stand, seized his arms and bound them securely, though not
unmercifully, behind his back, and motioned to him to follow them.
They conducted him towards the largest of the wigwams, outside which
sat the chief of the tribe, solemnly smoking. After an interval of
dead silence, that personage gave a little shout, and all the men in
the camp collected round about the prisoner. A lengthy harangue
followed, addressed partly to Munson, partly to the bystanders; and,
at the close of this, one of the Indians drew a knife and whetted it
on his moccasin.

Young Munson pulled himself together and endeavoured to take courage
from the fact that, if death had now come, it had come while he was
doing his duty; a man of his calling must expect to meet it any day of
the week; indeed, how many of his old comrades-in-arms had met it
within the last few hours? At least the savages should see that he
could die like a man, without making a fuss.

The Indians nearest to him took him by the shoulders and forced him
into a sitting posture, and the man with the knife walked slowly up to
him and stood grinning over him. Then a horrible thought came to him;
they were going to give him a punishment almost worse than death--to
scalp him, in fact--an indignity which only a man who had lived all
his life in the neighbourhood of Indians could fully appreciate. He
wriggled himself free and, springing up again, kicked out fiercely at
his tormentors. For this they seemed to care little; the man's hands
were tied and he was at their mercy. He was forced down again and held
motionless; then, while one man gripped him by the back of his neck so
that he could not possibly move his head, the operator with the knife
entered upon his task.

But he whom Munson had regarded as the public executioner was but the
barber to the tribe; the formidable-looking knife had no more terrible
work to perform than that of shaving the unfortunate man's head, and
this in token that henceforth he was the chief's bond-slave.

So much relieved that he laughed loudly at himself for his idle fears,
the sergeant was then liberated, and taken to a wigwam where he found
a fellow-slave, a Crow Indian, who had been captured some few weeks
earlier; and both occupied the tent that night, by no means cheered by
the fact that an armed redskin stood at the entrance all night long.

Apart from his anxiety to let his friends know of his whereabouts, the
young man was not unhappy among the Cherokees. For the first month or
two of his captivity a very close watch was kept upon him, and, even
later, it was at all times difficult for him to be away from
observation for many consecutive minutes; but gradually he was given
more liberty, was allowed to go fishing and hunting within certain
limits, and was not again subjected to the disgrace of having his head
shaved. His principal duties were to carry water from the lake,
collect firewood, tend the fires, and do such other menial work as the
squaws were not strong enough for, and as the men were too proud to
do. Having no one to converse with in his own language, he rapidly
picked up theirs, more rapidly indeed than they realised, for they
would often talk of their war plans in his presence as though he would
not understand their talk. From the more approachable of the Cherokees
he occasionally learned news of the outside world; heard that General
Wayne was still fighting against their people, and that "they
themselves didn't care a button for him." He never saw, among them,
any of the horrible scenes of blood and torture which other captives
among Indians have described; they were ignorant and superstitious,
but neither lazy nor drunken nor particularly cruel. Sometimes the
"war-arrow" was brought into the camp by some fleet messenger, and
then the majority of the braves would gallop away or set off in their
canoes, and, after an absence of hours or days, would return--often
laden with spoil taken from the Sioux or the whites, and sometimes
leaving some of their number behind.

We may be sure that, all this while, Munson had worked out a good many
schemes for effecting his escape; but, like a wise man, he knew that
one unsuccessful attempt would infallibly result in prolonging his
captivity and rendering it more severe, if not actually in his death.
When he started, there must be no half-measures; all hindrances and
difficulties must be foreseen and allowed for. He practised
assiduously the art of following a trail, whether by land or water;
already he had become very handy with a bow and arrow, for he was
never allowed firearms; he did his best to become an expert canoeman,
and lost no opportunity, in fact, of learning to outwit the enemy with
their own weapons, all the while telling himself that, sooner or
later, the golden opportunity must come.

It did come, but not till he had been in the Cherokee camp for nearly
eight months. One morning, in the summer of 1794, three Indians whom
he had never seen before and who, he learned, were of the Huron tribe,
rode into the camp and held a short parley with the chief. Very soon
the place was in an uproar, and Munson was easily able to find out the
news. The Iowas had spied out this camp and that of some neighbouring
Hurons, had betrayed the secret to the Yankee general, and he was now
on his way to attack the Hurons' stronghold. In an hour's time all the
men, save three aged braves, had left the wigwams and were on the
war-path.

For a while the sergeant hesitated. If the soldiers really knew how to
find the camp they would force their way to it before long, cost them
what it might; and he would be set at liberty. But the chances were
that he might be either shot down before he could make himself known
to them, or be killed by the Indians the moment he endeavoured to do
so. He would never get a better opportunity of escaping than this, for
the weather was warm, there was no one to stop him from going, and the
canoes were all at his service, as the braves had gone in the opposite
direction to the water.

He waited five days, for the old men left behind had shown a certain
amount of suspicion of him for the first day or two. Then, with a
plentiful supply of food, arrows, and fish-spears, he stole away soon
after sundown, crept into a canoe and paddled away from the shore. His
object was to reach Buffalo if possible, but that was over a hundred
miles away, and he could not paddle day and night without rest.
Knowing that he must husband his strength, he confined himself to an
easy rate of about three miles an hour; and even then, by the time he
had gone thirty miles, he could hardly keep his eyes open.

He had recourse to the good old specific of cold water, took a header
into the lake and, after a short swim, returned to his post, ate a
cold but hearty breakfast, and began again, all the while keeping his
eyes open for any white men's boat that might come along. But the
hours went by and he saw nothing, and the desire for sleep became as
pressing--and just now as much to be dreaded--as though he had been
lost in a snow-drift. He took a second dip and, clambering back into
the canoe, began paddling again, though his muscles were now so stiff
that he could scarcely move his arms.

He was nodding over his now almost useless labour when a light splash,
like the bob of a fish, made him look round him. The splash had been
caused by an arrow. Behind him, two canoes, each with three Indians in
it, were coming along at a speed that he could not have beaten even
had he been perfectly fresh. For just one second there was the hope
that the redskins might be of some tribe hostile to the Cherokees, who
would be willing to help him in return for promises of money, which he
could easily obtain from some charitable person at Buffalo. But he
knew the build, the costume, the very method of using the paddles, too
well; these men were Cherokees. He turned round to pick up his bow,
and, in so doing, looked over the side. Floating within a yard or two
of him was an arrow, lying perfectly horizontal! He stared at it
open-mouthed; an arrow, if the weight of its head did not sink it
entirely, must float perpendicularly, showing but very little of its
length.

But this particular arrow _had_ no head; a token that it had not been
shot in any unfriendly spirit. He looked back at his pursuers again;
one of them was waving his hand, and, as his canoe came almost within
touching distance, shouted:

"We have some fish; will you give us bread in exchange for some? We
have no bread, and very little tobacco." The words sounded very much
like an excerpt from Somebody or Other's "French Exercises," not the
less so in that they were uttered in French-Canadian--a language which
Munson understood perfectly well. He could almost have cried with
relief.

The Cherokees were Ontario fishermen; Christians, and the sons of
Christians, and no more likely to interfere with the soldier than if
they had been his fellow-countrymen. On finding that he spoke not only
French but their own Iroquoian as well, they became exceedingly
friendly; but Munson (perhaps he did them grave injustice) had become
far too cautious to tell them the circumstances under which he had
learned their language. He confined himself to the statement that he
wished to reach Buffalo, and would reward them amply if they would put
him ashore there; he had been robbed of his money, he said--which was
perfectly true--but could easily get some in the town; he was too
tired to use his paddles; would they take him there?

The next thing he knew was that the Indians were waking him at the
quay outside Buffalo; he had fallen asleep even while trying to strike
a bargain with them, and now they refused to take any other payment
than the tobacco and provisions with which he had stored his boat;
and, bidding him good-bye, they landed him and paddled away again.

He went to the nearest military depôt and reported himself, and of
course had no difficulty in obtaining the means to reach his home.



CHAPTER II

THE INVASION OF CORRIENTES


The South American Indian, as a soldier, is a being about whom we
English know very little. Of course we know that, centuries ago, he
was a force to be reckoned with locally; we know that when his
civilisation was stamped out of him he became a mere savage, ignorant,
dirty, brutal and crafty; but it is something of a surprise to us to
learn that, during the first quarter of the nineteenth century, he
occasionally shook off much of his savagery, and showed himself the
equal of the white soldier in discipline, generalship, staying-power
and chivalry. A case in point is that of Andresito Artegas, one of the
most striking figures in modern South American history.

Andresito, who belonged to the Guaycuru branch of the great Guaranian
tribe, was the adopted son of the celebrated insurgent leader,
Artegas, who seems to have given him some education and to have
developed in him the great natural foresight and controlling power
which he was to exhibit later in the war between the Guaranians and
the Portuguese of Argentina.

This petty war, which lasted roughly from 1818 to 1820, was
largely a "coming to a head" of the constant bickerings, forays,
and persecutions which, for years, had been interchanged between the
white man and the red; and though, in the end, the Indians were
badly beaten and the tribe almost annihilated, in the early and
middle stages of the contest there seemed every likelihood of the
Portuguese being driven out of La Plata. In 1819, emboldened by a
train of minor successes, Andresito, with a force of seven hundred
Guaycurus, determined to seize the city of Corrientes.

Next to Buenos Ayres, this was the wealthiest and most important of
the Argentine towns, and much of the commerce was in the hands of
British merchants, such as the well-known brothers Robertson, and
their friend and sometime patron Thomas Postlethwaite. To men like
this the news of Andresito's advance was alarming enough, for it would
probably mean financial ruin, if nothing worse; but to the more
excitable Portuguese residents it was absolute paralysis. People went
stark mad with panic; the seven hundred Indians became seven, and even
seventy, thousand. Tales went from mouth to mouth of massacres
unspeakable in every village and town on Andresito's line of march,
and it was said that the Paraguay boundary and the Parana River--the
only means of safety hitherto open to fugitives--were already in
Indian hands.

Mr. Postlethwaite, disappointed in the hopes of being able to send his
two daughters down the river to Buenos Ayres, resolved to take matters
into his own hands as far as possible, and saw that all the Europeans
were armed and ready to band together in self-defence. But before
anything in the way of concerted effort could be agreed upon, rumour
became fact; Andresito and his Indian cavalry were within half a mile
of the city. Two Portuguese men dropped dead in the street with
fright; Francisco Bedoya, commandant of the colonial troops, lost his
head altogether; collected all the money and plate he could lay his
hands on and buried it in the garden, then began to run about the
streets like a rat in a trap.

As a last resource, Mr. Postlethwaite sent one of his servants to
Andresito with a letter, warning him that our Government might mete
out a terrible punishment if British life and property were not
respected; and, to his great relief, the man soon came riding back
with a courteous message from the young chief, to the effect that no
violence was intended to anyone, least of all to British subjects.

The Englishman was imparting this message to his friends when the
steady trot of a large body of horse was heard, and everyone either
rushed to hiding-places or swarmed into the streets. Postlethwaite and
his daughters reached the _Plaza_ in time to see the Indian soldiers
take possession of it. Nothing could less resemble a horde of
uncivilised invaders than these seven hundred men. Headed by the
handsome young Andresito and his Spanish-Peruvian secretary, Mexias,
the Guaycurus halted and dismounted at the sound of the bugle, and it
could be seen that they were a set of well-trained fellows, armed like
a European cavalry troop, dressed like civilised people, and
apparently no more ready for outrage than if they had been loyalist
soldiers come to rescue the town.

The rear of the procession was certainly remarkable, being composed of
four hundred boys of from six to fourteen years, half of them the
children of white people, round whom thronged a mixed group of
farmers and their wives, screaming, threatening, and entreating. The
Indian boys were liberated slaves, and it appeared that wherever
Andresito had found a native child in captivity, he had freed him and
taken a white boy prisoner. It is interesting to know that, not many
days later, the Indian chief gathered together the distressed parents
who had been able to keep up with or to follow his march, and handed
the white children over to them.

"I have given you a lesson, he said. In future, try to remember that
Indian parents have hearts as well as you."

Andresito's first act on arriving at the _Plaza_ was certainly not
that of a bloodthirsty tyrant; for, marshalling his men on foot, he
led them straight into the cathedral to hear Mass, and as soon as the
service was ended, began to converse amicably with the principal
inhabitants of the town. The cowardly commandant, Bedoya, had found a
place of concealment; perhaps his conscience pricked him, for only a
few weeks before he had instigated the massacre of an entire Indian
village. At any rate, he would not face the Guaycurus, and in
imitation of their valiant leader, the whole garrison deserted their
barracks, leaving them at the new-comers' disposal.

In Mr. Postlethwaite, Andresito speedily recognised a far-seeing,
wise, and courageous old man, whose advice would be worth listening
to; and after a few days, the Englishman's influence over him became
so great that, during the young leader's occasional outbursts of
ungovernable temper or drunkenness, his followers would invariably
send for the tactful merchant and beg him to manage their chief for
them.

No doubt this peaceful state of things might have lasted indefinitely
but for two unpleasant factors; the first of which was the spite and
jealousy of Mexias, the Indian chief's secretary--a vulgar toady and
adventurer who could not be loyal to white man or red, and who,
alarmed at the willingness with which Andresito listened to
Postlethwaite's counsels, lost no opportunity of poisoning his mind
against the honest merchant.

The second probable cause of trouble was the ill-bred conduct of the
Spanish and Portuguese residents towards the Indian chiefs. We all
know, either from history or experience, that it is dangerous and
unwise to ignore the natural barrier that exists between the white and
the coloured races; but that is no reason why a man should be
gratuitously insulted because he is an Indian; and when Andresito
found himself regarded socially with contempt and ridicule by people
who, a fortnight earlier, would have knelt and grovelled to him for
their lives, he was not unnaturally out of temper.

From these two causes, relations became more and more strained, and
one morning a file of soldiers appeared at Postlethwaite's house,
arrested him on a variety of stupid and trumped-up charges, and lodged
him in the common prison among criminals of the lowest type. His elder
daughter at once went to Andresito's hotel, but could not obtain an
interview with him till the next day. Then the chief happened to be in
a good humour, and after some little argument, admitted that the
arrest was due to Mexias' having told him that her father meditated
escaping to Buenos Ayres to warn the Portuguese; and on the girl's
indignantly denying this, the prisoner was set at liberty.

As a peace-offering for this affront to the Europeans, Andresito gave
a great dinner-party to the chief residents, which was to be followed
by a display of picturesque Indian dances. Very few of the Spaniards
or Portuguese accepted the invitation, and those who did were
particularly offensive in their comments on the dancing. Andresito
left the hall in a towering rage.

The following morning the Postlethwaite household was again disturbed
by a visit from Indian soldiers.

"What now?" asked the merchant, losing patience.

"All those who received invitations to the General's entertainment
last night are to come and report themselves; the gentlemen at the
_Plaza_ and the ladies at the barracks," said a soldier civilly.

The two English girls followed their conductors to the barracks, and
there found all the best-known white women of Corrientes guarded by a
troop of soldiers. Andresito soon made his appearance.

"Ladies, he said, I understand that you disapprove of Indian dances;
therefore I have invited you here to teach us better. When each lady
has condescended to dance with an Indian soldier she will be set at
liberty."

Miss Postlethwaite and her sister had the good sense to regard the
affair as one of humour rather than of humiliation, and not stopping
to point out that they were being punished for the misdeeds of
others, they readily yielded to the chief's whim, and were the first
to be dismissed. They hurried at once to the _Plaza_, and here a very
unlooked-for sight awaited them.

Guarded by a hundred soldiers under Mexias, all the well-to-do men of
the town were at work on their hands and knees, weeding the square,
rooting out, with fingers or penknives, the tufts of shabby grass that
grew plentifully between the cobble-stones! The heat was so
suffocating that their father and other elderly men were well-nigh
fainting; but there all were obliged to remain till the task was
finished, shortly before sundown.

This indignity so enraged Postlethwaite that he was tempted to
persuade the white men to combine against their persecutors and rid
the town of them, but was deterred by the irresolution and petty
jealousies of the Corrientes men, and by the thought of the terrible
amount of bloodshed for which he would be making himself responsible.
Abandoning that idea, he fell back on plans for escape. This would be
difficult, if not impossible, for Indians were said to be in
possession of the country all round, and flight by water was out of
the question, because all the boats had been destroyed or sent adrift,
and the larger craft from Buenos Ayres seldom came farther north than
Goya.

By way of lulling any suspicions on Andresito's part as to his
schemes, he invited him and his staff to dinner one evening. The
Indians conducted themselves with great dignity and politeness, and
were very loud in their praise of British fare--particularly of the
"plom puddin Ingles" with which the host regaled them. Andresito's
bearing towards his young hostesses was gallantry itself; he even
styled them his _paysanitas_ or countrywomen, as well as _Indias
rubias_ (fair Indians.)

"But what makes you think we are your compatriots, Señor?" asked the
younger girl.

"Ah, Señorita," said Andresito, "I fear you have not studied the
history of England as I have done. Did you not know that _all_ the
people in your country were Indians till the Spanish king, Julius
Cæsar, conquered it?"

The dinner passed off very brightly and merrily, and at last the
English merchant proposed the health of the Indian chief. This was
drunk heartily; but Mexias, who had much of the mischief-maker and
still more of the cad in him, having emptied his glass, broke it and
threw the pieces over his shoulder, calling on the Indians to do the
same. Now this was not at all an uncommon Spanish custom; but Miss
Postlethwaite had strong objections to seeing every glass in the house
broken, at a time when communication with the capital was cut off, and
even the simplest household necessaries difficult to procure. She
whispered a hint to Andresito, at which the hot-headed fellow sprang
up, drew his sword, and vowed that he would kill the next man who
broke a glass.

In revenge for this snub, the Peruvian asked the Postlethwaite ladies
and others to a dinner; and when all had partaken of and commended the
soup and entrées, he took occasion to inform his guests with great
insolence that the substance of all the savouries was horse-beef.
This elegant practical joke was his last. The following evening he was
met by the brother of one of the Spanish ladies, who promptly avenged
the insult in a manner not unusual among people of Latin blood--by
plunging a knife into his back.

This incident was the beginning of general anarchy. Indians and
Argentines alike took the law into their own hands, the latter
emboldened by rumours that white armies were marching on the city, the
former restless and demoralised through their leader's inability to
press on to further conquests till he was reinforced by the troops of
Indians, half-castes, or insurgent whites for which he was waiting. To
Mr. Postlethwaite there now seemed no more risk in flight than in
remaining in the city; so, secreting his portable wealth, and sending
his daughters forward with horses and two armed menservants as
occasion offered, he managed to join them at nightfall near the river
and well beyond the town.

They made excellent pace, and soon after daybreak had reached the
strip of desolate, hilly country that runs along the west bank of the
Parana. Then Postlethwaite called a halt, and had decided that they
would rest themselves and their horses for a few hours, when Juan, his
Spanish cook, pointed back to some moving objects at the foot of the
long hill whose summit they had just reached--Indians, from the way
they sat their horses, though the distance was too great for the
watchers to distinguish whether they were the half-naked savages of
the country or the better-dressed, better-armed cavalry of Andresito.

[Illustration: A NARROW ESCAPE

When Corrientes was seized by Andresito and his Indians Mr. Postlethwaite
and his daughters succeeded in escaping to the banks of the Parana. A
pursuing body of Indians almost captured them, but the boat's crew of a
ship which happened to be lying in the river kept them at bay with oars
and boat-stretchers.]

"In either case we must not risk falling into their hands," said
Postlethwaite. "Up with you all again."

"But the horses are so beaten," urged his elder daughter.

"Not more so than theirs, probably," he said. "And they have a good
mile or more of hill to climb."

The jaded beasts were hastily mounted again, and, always keeping the
river in sight, the party made what speed they could towards the
nearest white station or landing-stage. The hill which their pursuers
had yet to climb would double the value of the start they had of them,
to be sure; but there would be no means of hiding from them when they
again reached the high level, and unless the Indians' horses were
extraordinarily fatigued, it was to be feared that they would soon
make up for lost time.

For the next half-hour there was no sign of redskins. Then one head,
then another, straggled into view, but still so far distant that the
fugitives could not see whether they were moving or stationary. Their
own horses were on their last legs, so much so that it was becoming
sheer brutality to urge them on. The two girls dismounted and turned
their poor beasts loose and the servants followed their example--as
did also Postlethwaite himself when, on looking back once more, he
could see at least ten figures--moving now, beyond all doubt--not much
more than a mile behind.

"We shall have to run for it," he said.

"A ship, Señor; a ship!" cried one of the men hysterically, pointing
ahead; and sure enough there were the two naked topmasts of a brig, a
mile or more farther down the river.

No one else remarked on the sight; no one had breath to spare for
anything but running.

Five minutes went by, and they seemed no nearer. The Englishman
glanced behind him; the Indians had not appreciably lessened the
distance between them. Another five minutes, and then voices were
becoming distinctly audible, though whether those of seamen or
pursuers it was difficult to say. Postlethwaite began to stumble.

"I'm--done for," he panted. "You must go on--and send help back."

"No, no, give me your hand," cried his elder daughter. "Look; look
behind you!"

He obeyed. The two foremost Indians had abandoned their horses and
come within gunshot; and one was coolly taking aim at them with his
musket.

"Only another minute or two," said the girl soothingly.

"Where are you going? Where are you going?" cried a voice in Spanish.

They were running exactly parallel to the river, but about thirty
yards from the water-edge. Looking to their left they saw for the
first time that one of the brig's boats had drawn up as close as
possible to the bank and that her coxswain was beckoning to them.

They needed no further warning, but made a dash for the boat. As they
did so a bullet whistled past their ears, and the younger girl sank
down on the dry grass.

"She is wounded; she is killed," shouted Postlethwaite.

"No, Señor; only faint and frightened," panted the stalwart cook, and,
hastily picking his young mistress up in his arms, he caught up the
others, who were dragged on board as a second bullet flew over their
heads. Juan handed in his burden and was about to vault over the
gunwale, when his foot slipped on the mud and he fell sideways into
the water.

With drawn swords the two Indians--emissaries of Andresito--made a
dash at him, but were kept aloof by oars and boat-stretchers; and as
one of them drew a pistol, Juan's fellow-servant did likewise and sent
a bullet through his arm, just as the plucky cook was dragged into
safety and the boat pushed into the stream.

Not long afterwards a strong Portuguese force drove the Guaycurus out
of Corrientes and took Andresito prisoner. He was conveyed to the
coast and eventually liberated; but he died not long after, and with
him the hopes of independence which the Guaranian Indians had been
cherishing.



CHAPTER III

A CAPTIVE AMONG ARGENTINE INDIANS


Till the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Guaranian Indians
(with the Abipons and other sub-tribes) were in possession of a great
part of Southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Eastern Argentina. They were
one of the strongest of the Indian peoples, unusually tall and
athletic, and, so long as they had reliable leaders, well able to hold
their own against the Portuguese. But owing to internal dissensions,
intermarriages with Europeans, and more especially to the crushing
defeat by the colonists, in 1820, of their great chief Andresito
Artegas, they had become, by the middle of the century, a negligible
quantity.

Much of their trouble with the Portuguese was of their own seeking;
for, not content with beating off their attacks, they were perpetually
making unprovoked raids upon peaceful farmsteads, carrying off not only
cattle, but European boys and girls, of whom they not infrequently
made slaves. A typical instance of this sort of thing came under the
notice of Mr. Peter Campbell, better known as Don Pedro, _Commandante
de Marinos_, or Admiral of the Fleet, who from 1819 onwards was in the
employ of the Argentine Government.

Two Portuguese girls, with their little brother, were returning on
horseback to their father's farm near Cordoba, when a series of
frantic yells behind them warned them that savages were in pursuit. A
single glance back was sufficient to show how futile all attempts at
flight would probably be; the redskins were well mounted and used to
riding at breakneck pace, while the girls' horses, not too spirited at
the best of times, were jaded with a long, hot journey.

The cries--rendered more savage and blood-curdling by the Indian
practice of simultaneously clapping the lips with the palm of the
hand--grew louder and more bewildering. The boy lost control of his
horse--the youngest and fastest of the three--and was soon well ahead
of his sisters, the younger of whom, Ascencion by name, had the
presence of mind to scream to him to ride straight on to Cordoba, if
possible, and warn the military authorities there. The words were
hardly out of her mouth when a shriek came from her sister, who was a
dozen yards behind.

"I am taken. Do not desert me."

Ascencion turned her head, only to see the chief himself, a
splendid-looking elderly man, riding straight for her own bridle.

In another minute both girls were prisoners. Each was dragged from her
saddle and lifted to that of her captor; their two horses were handed
to some young Indians who rode in the rear, and then they found
themselves being whirled away in the direction of the Parana River,
which lay some hundred and seventy miles distant. The cavalcade made
no halt till long after dark, when it arrived at a _tolderia_ or
native encampment. Here the girls were handed over to the womenfolk,
who, after robbing them of all their finery, took them to separate
tents and told them what would be their future duties.

Worn out with grief and excitement, Ascencion threw herself on the
ground in her wigwam (_toldos_) and, refusing food, sobbed herself to
sleep. When she awoke, it was day; she was alone in the tent, and now
had leisure to examine it and its contents. This was soon done. The
miserable abode was a pyramidal hut, each side about nine feet long
and consisting merely of a few tall slender sticks, across which a
rough matting of straw, like a collection of old bottle cases, was
laid. Through the matting sufficient daylight struggled to show that
the only furniture of the _toldos_ consisted of half a dozen bows of
great length, and a few gourds, fashioned into drinking-cups.

She was creeping to the entry in the hope of finding out her sister's
whereabouts, when agitated shouts resounded through the camp.

"Flee, flee! The Cordoban soldiers are coming."

Those shouts were the sweetest music she had ever heard. Heedless of
the danger she might incur, she rushed into the open, calling loudly
for her sister.

What followed was very like a nightmare. Redskinned, half-naked
figures flitted backwards and forwards, screaming incoherently, in her
tongue and their own. Then all of a sudden the tents round about
seemed to rise up of themselves and collapse. A lengthy, rumbling
chorus of shouts came from a hundred yards away, followed by a carbine
volley whose bullets knocked up the dust all round her, and one of
which laid a young Indian dead, almost within a yard of her. Then she
caught sight of her sister being lifted into a saddle, and while she
endeavoured to attract her attention, a hand was pressed over her own
mouth and strong arms swung her on to a horse which seemed to come
from nowhere. She knew nothing more till she found herself being borne
at a tearing speed across the plain, lashed inextricably to the
cacique's body.

She stole a glance over her shoulder. Less than half a mile away she
could see, through a cloud of dust, a string of straggling mounted
figures, half a dozen riding ahead, and seven or eight more trying in
vain to keep up with them; and from the flash of the sun-rays on their
scabbards and metal horse-furniture, she knew them to be white men.
But would they overtake her captors? The distance increased, then
lessened considerably, then began slowly to increase again. She heard
a few shots fired by the pursuers, but these took no effect. The space
between them grew greater than ever, for even while the Cordobans'
horses slackened their speed and flagged, those of the Indians seemed
only to gain fresh strength; and at last she looked away, again losing
all heart. For the soldiers had come to a dead stop, and in a few
minutes she would be carried out of all sight of them. A howl of
triumph and derision rose from the Abipons; nevertheless, they did not
draw bridle till they came in sight of another _tolderia_, whose
occupants would form such a reinforcement as would enable them to defy
any but a very strong company of white men.

Ascencion had eaten nothing for twenty-four hours and had held no
communication with her sister since their separation. She was now
handed over to the care of a motherly old body who was a relative of
the cacique, and presumably a person of some importance in the tribe.
Not only did she at once supply the girl with food and drink, but she
promised to make interest for her sister to be placed with her.

This promise was fulfilled, and for the next week or two the girls
shared the old woman's hut together at night, being kept by day in
attendance on the cacique's wife, who, if she made them work hard at
cooking, corn-grinding, and rough weaving, was at least not unkind to
them. But this is not to say that these Indians were not cruel by
nature and habit. One day after a foraging party had returned, the
cacique approached the two prisoners, and addressing them in
Portuguese, said roughly:

"Come with me. Come and see what is in store for any of your friends
who attempt to rescue you."

They followed him tremblingly to the centre of the camp, and there
found a young Spaniard, bound hand and foot to pegs that were driven
into the ground. He had been caught wandering in the forest, and,
being unarmed, was an easy capture.

At a word from the chief, a dozen men stepped back from the prostrate
lad, and drawing their bows, each sent an arrow straight at him. Every
arrow but one transfixed the body; that one was ceremoniously burnt
and its ashes buried; it was in disgrace for having missed its mark.

This murder was the only exhibition of cruelty which Ascencion
witnessed at that camp, though almost every day the cacique
threatened her and her sister with death if they made any attempt to
escape. As far as they could gather, they were to be kept till the
next general meeting of the tribe, and then sold or bartered as wives
to the two highest bidders.

When they had been in captivity a little over a fortnight some young
men of the tribe rode hastily into the camp one evening and called
excitedly for the cacique. They had, said they, been pursued by a
strong party of Macabi Indians (one of the Peruvian sub-tribes) who
had never altogether lost sight of them, and were even now making a
descent on the camp.

Instantly the whole tribe turned out, with bows, spears, hatchets, and
some few even with muskets. The alarm was no false one. The Macabis,
about eighty in number, badly mounted, but far better armed than were
the Abipons, were in sight, and would soon endeavour to surround the
_tolderia_, the inhabitants of which, so far from showing any sign of
unreadiness to do battle, or anxiety as to the issue thereof, were
quickly and joyously disposing themselves to the best advantage.
Indeed, they were the first to open fire; but the harmless volley from
the half-dozen ramshackle old muskets was answered by a deadly shower
of well-aimed bullets from at least forty guns.

The two slave girls, crouching with some other women in one of the
huts, could catch glimpses of the fight through the chinks in the
matting. To an outsider it might seem that Ascencion would care little
as to the result of the conflict, but the Peruvians were a fierce
tribe, far more uncivilised than their enemies--who were, for the most
part, Christians--and to fall into their hands would probably involve
far worse treatment than she had undergone at the hands of her
original captors.

Presently, as the darkness began to fall, she saw a score of the young
men separate themselves from the rest of the defenders, and begin to
untether some of the horses. Then one of them hastened into her tent
and bade her and those with her hurry out to the horses. The Macabis
were steadily gaining the upper hand, and all the women were to be
escorted by as many of the tribe as could be spared, towards a small
and semi-permanent camp on the river, between Chamorra and Goya. No
time was lost in obeying, and Ascencion had already been lifted up
behind the cacique's wife, when her sister, who was waiting to be
mounted on the next horse, threw up her arms and fell without a cry.
One of the enemy's bullets had pierced her breast and the poor girl
lay dead.

From that time Ascencion knew little or nothing of what happened; she
had an indistinct recollection of an all-night ride, then of resting,
once in green woods, and once on a burning, sandy plain; then of a
second long march in the dark; but that was all. For she was in a
fever which did not leave her till some days after their arrival at
the river _tolderia_; and, when next she left her hut, the first thing
she saw was the remainder of the tribe returning from the long battle.
They had been beaten, but nevertheless had inflicted such a blow on
the victors as crippled all attempts at pursuit of them.

Then began again the same wearisome life as before, only more
intolerable now that Ascencion had lost her sister. But one
afternoon, when most of the men were away hunting, the cacique came up
to her as she was preparing for her daily task of fetching water from
the river, and showing his knife threateningly, observed:

"There is a boat's crew of white men making for the shore. Stay here
till they are gone. If you speak to one of them you shall die."

The caution seemed needless enough, for by this time the poor girl had
become so cowed and destitute of hope, that she had little heart to
attempt escape. Moreover, it was quite possible that men of her own
race might be no more desirable neighbours than the Indians. And so
she sat down where she was, under a tree, feeling but little interest
in the coming of the sailors. Looking listlessly towards the row of
trees that hid the river from her view, she presently caught sight of
the cacique ushering two white men towards his _toldos_, and evidently
bearing himself with great obsequiousness towards them. The taller of
the two entered, but the other began idly to walk about the camp,
exchanging cheery words with the women at work there. Very soon he was
standing by Ascencion's side. She was hesitating whether to answer a
civil greeting of his, when he said quickly:

"But you are not an Indian girl, surely?"

Then she forgot all caution and all indifference to her condition. She
had heard her own language spoken by one of her own people!

"No; I am Portuguese. I am a prisoner," she whispered eagerly.

"Why not escape then?"

"Alas; they would kill me. No one will help me."

"I'll find someone who will," said the young man, who wore a naval
commander's uniform; and he ran to the cacique's tent, Ascencion
following him more slowly. In another minute both strangers
reappeared, talking earnestly in a language which the girl could only
suppose to be English, as the second sailor was very tall and of fair
complexion. When they had almost reached her, the Portuguese officer
suddenly touched his cap and set off running full speed back towards
the river. The other beckoning to her, and addressing her gently in
tolerable Portuguese, said:

"Is it true that you are a prisoner, my poor lass?"

The girl hesitated, for the cacique, who had guessed something of the
import of the white men's conversation, was laying his hand on the
haft of his knife. But the Englishman noticed the action, and
immediately began to finger his sword-hilt.

"Speak up," he said; "there is nothing to be afraid of."

Then, interrupted every now and then by indignant remonstrance or
denial from the chief, Ascencion told her story.

"Very well," said the sailor at length. "Come on board my ship; I
shall take you up the river to Corrientes, and leave you with some
English ladies till your friends can be communicated with."

"Not so fast, Señor," said the cacique, assuming a more bullying tone.
"Of course you can take her--if you like to pay the price I----"

The officer whipped out his sword. "This is the only price I pay," he
said curtly.

[Illustration: A PLUCKY RESCUE

The Indians surrounded the officer and the shrinking Portuguese girl. The
Cacique threatened him with his hatchet, but a touch of the Englishman's
sword-point at his throat made him reconsider his designs. Another Indian
made at him with a knife, only to receive such a blow across the ear with
the flat of the sword as knocked him to the ground.]

The cacique laughed contemptuously, and with a single shout summoned
the couple of dozen men who happened to be within hearing, and who
surrounded the Englishman and the shrinking girl in an instant,
swinging their war-hatchets, and yelling one against the other.

"Oh, stop that din, do," said the officer with good-humoured
impatience. "Listen to me, my lads. I am Commandante Don Pedro--or
plain Peter Campbell, if you like that better. I've got a cutter and
twenty men a few yards away, to say nothing of a ten-gun brig with
sixty hands aboard of her, in the stream. Now, are you going to stand
clear?"

Brigs and cutters were meaningless to the Indians; but what they did
understand was the sudden appearance from among the trees of Don
Edwardo, the Portuguese captain, followed by a dozen sturdy
seamen--English, Yankee, and Portuguese, armed with muskets and
cutlasses.

The cacique re-echoed his war-cry and threatened Campbell with his
hatchet; but a touch of the Englishman's sword-point at his throat
made him reconsider his designs. Another Indian made at the "admiral"
with a knife--only to receive such a blow across the ear with the flat
of the sword as knocked him to the ground. The tramp of the seamen
stopped, and, at the command, muskets were slung and cutlasses drawn.

The cacique bade his men drop their arms--almost a needless
recommendation.

"Take her," he said sullenly.

Campbell pointed to the man whom he had knocked down. "Take away his
knife," he said, addressing his boatswain, a burly Yankee. "Now--you
have attempted to kill an Englishman, and you shall die." Don Pedro
felt the edge of the knife and gave it a final "strop" on his palm.
"I'm going to cut his head off, as a warning to the rest of you," he
said, so sternly that the Indians and even the cacique uttered little
cries of terror.

Ascencion began to think that Englishmen were no more merciful than
other people; for, as the Indian crouched whimpering at Don Pedro's
feet, he stooped and brandished the knife with all the coolness of a
butcher. But, to her amazement, when he stood up again, the head was
still in its normal position, while, in his left hand, Campbell held
the braided pigtail of hair, full five feet long, which had proudly
adorned the head of the would-be assassin; and he, still doubting his
good fortune in having got off so cheaply, sprang up and made headlong
for the woods.

This is but one of the scores of anecdotes told of the celebrated
soldier of fortune, Peter Campbell, who, whatever may have been his
faults, was never known to show fear, to be disloyal to his employers
or unjust to the Indians; indeed, by his unfailing good nature and
sense of fairness and fun, he succeeded in adjusting many a tribal or
political grievance which in the hands of most men, however
well-meaning, would probably have ended in bloodshed.

The Portuguese girl was taken up the river, and when she returned to
her parents she was accompanied by a husband, for she married an Irish
settler in Corrientes.



CHAPTER IV

THE IROQUOIS OF THE CANADIAN BOUNDARY


The Iroquoian branch of the red race is considered by the best
authorities to be far superior, mentally and physically, to any other.
Before British rule was definitely established in Canada, they were a
power (known as "The Six Nations") duly recognised by English and
French alike; and to-day, though less numerous than the Algonquins,
they show fewer signs of dying out than the other families. Ontario
is, and has ever been, a favourite district of theirs, and it was
while living in this province that Dr. John Bigsby, who died in 1881,
jotted down the notes concerning them which one often sees quoted in
works dealing with the study of races.

Surgeon-Major Bigsby had the good fortune, as a young man, to be
appointed geologist and medical officer to the Canadian Boundary
Commission, a post decidedly congenial to a zealous student of
ethnology, since it brought him in constant touch with the Cherokees,
who, with the Hurons, Mohawks, etc., constitute the Iroquoian family.
The inspection of military and native hospitals, together with his
geological researches, necessitated frequent journeys north, south,
and west from Montreal; and it was on one such journey, in the year
1822, that he met with a string of adventures both comical and
exciting.

From Montreal he set out in a light waggon for Kingston, where he fell
in with an acquaintance, Jules Rocheblanc, a fur-trader who, like
himself, had various calls to make on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Rocheblanc had already arranged to travel with Father Tabeau, the
diocesan inspector of missions, and the doctor very willingly joined
their party. The mission boat, unlike the birch canoes, was a
well-built, roomy craft paddled by eight or ten Indians--Cherokees and
Hurons--all of whom spoke Canadian-French fluently. The weather,
though cool, was far from severe, and as all three travellers had
frequent engagements ashore, these made welcome breaks in the
journey.

After Toronto was passed, the white stations became scarcer, and
villages inhabited by Indians more frequent; and, at the first of
these, the young army surgeon began to fear that the treachery so
often justly imputed to the redskins was going to betray itself.

Three of the Indians had asked leave to go ashore for a day's hunting,
and, as the meat supply had run short, Père Tabeau was glad to let
them go, on the understanding that they were to await him that evening
at a spot below the next Indian village, at which he was to halt for a
few hours. Owing to some minor accident, it was well on in the
afternoon before the boat came in sight of the village, which stood at
the foot of a hill, immediately on the lake shore.

Two or three dozen Indians could be seen on a grassy space, engaged in
their national ball-play--a mixture of tennis, lacrosse, and Rugby
football, which will be more closely described in the next chapter. By
the goal nearest the water, the absent canoemen were standing, a
goodly heap of game piled at their feet. The moment they caught sight
of their boat they drew the attention of the players to it; these
immediately abandoned the game and, running to the farther goal,
picked up muskets and hastened with them towards the quay.

"This is something new," said Bigsby, "and I don't like the look of
it. For whom do they take us?" He took a pistol from his bag, and
Rocheblanc did the same; then, looking towards the bank again, they
saw that every redskin had pointed his gun-muzzle on the boat.

"I think it is only a salute," said the priest, "though I must confess
I have never been so honoured before. They are harmless, hard-working
men, and all know me perfectly well."

He had scarcely finished speaking when the guns began to go off in
twos and threes and sixes, anyhow, in fact. Then the surgeon put away
his pistol and laughed, for there was not a splash on the water
anywhere.

"The Father was right; it's only a salute. Do they often do this?" he
asked of the nearest of the canoemen. "I've not seen it before."

The Indian looked very knowing and mysterious, and, after a pause,
answered:

"It is a royal salute. They only fire like this for a great Iroquois
chief, or for a messenger from the white king."

Very soon another succession of reports came, the guns all the while
trained so accurately on the boat that even Bigsby, fresh from three
years' constant active service at the Cape, began earnestly to hope
that no one had, in the excitement of the moment, dropped a bullet
into a gun-muzzle by mistake. Before the muskets could be loaded a
third time the travellers were safely at the landing-stage.

At other Indian villages the doctor had noticed that the priest was
always subjected to lengthy greetings, speechifyings, and very
elaborate homage. The homage and the greetings were not absent to-day,
but they were of the hurried and perfunctory sort, for everyone, after
a word and an obeisance to his reverend fellow-traveller, turned to
Bigsby himself; and the old chief, coming forward with tremulous
respect, began to address a long oration to him, calling him the lord
of lakes and forests, the father of the red man, the slayer of beasts,
and a score of other titles; in short, "describing him ever so much
better than he knew himself," as John Ridd says. While he was
stammering out a suitable acknowledgment in French, the parish priest
came hurrying to greet his superior, and then the mystery was
explained, for Père Tabeau introduced the lord of lakes, etc., to him
as plain "Surgeon Bigsby."

The old _curé_ laughed heartily.

"I understand. Your uniform is responsible for all this, monsieur.
Your boatmen had told us that an ambassador from the king was coming
with the Père Supérieur." He pointed at the doctor's regimental
coat.

"Then that is why all the canoemen have been so distant and servile
with me to-day," said the young surgeon. "I've not been able to get a
word out of them."

Usually he wore a perfectly plain, blue relief-jacket, but on this
particular morning he had donned a very old scarlet tunic, of the
dragoon regiment to which he belonged, merely because the day happened
to be too chilly for the thin serge jacket, and not cold enough for
him to trouble about unpacking a winter coat; and if this had raised
him in the canoemen's estimation, he had been quite unconscious of it.
As a matter of fact, when the Indians left the boat that morning, they
had already made of him a British potentate who was at last throwing
off his disguise, and this they honestly believed him to be; but,
before the morning was out, their imagination had run away with them
so far as to promote him to the rank of envoy extraordinary; in other
words, they had exaggerated, as more civilised people sometimes will,
for the sake of a little reflected greatness.

"Mr. Rocheblanc," said the doctor, "if you will lend me a spare coat
till I unpack to-night, I think I can sweeten that chief's declining
years."

A coat was soon produced, and, to the wonderment of the Indians,
Bigsby removed the old tunic which, with a grave bow, he begged the
old chief to accept as a memento. So great, indeed, was the surprise
of the redskins that the donor was in no danger of the contempt which
they might otherwise have shown for a broken idol--a daw despoiled of
its peacock's plumage. Such liberality was stupefying.

But the chief was not to be outdone in self-sacrifice. After a
tremendous struggle with himself he stifled his vanity and desire for
possession, and turning to the old parish priest, begged him to wear
the garment, as being more worthy of the honour; nor was it till he
was made to understand that, neither in nor out of church, would it be
seemly for the staid old clergyman to go flaunting in a cavalry
officer's scarlet and gold, that the chief would consent to wear it.
And then his appearance and his self-satisfaction were such that none
of the white men dared look at him for long, lest they should hurt the
dear old fellow's feelings by a burst of laughter.

The gift led to an invitation to dinner from the chief, so persistent
and impassioned that it was impossible for the visitors to refuse it,
though the _curé_ had a meal awaiting them at his presbytery. And now
the doctor was to achieve even greater popularity, for the _curé_, who
usually acted as village surgeon and herbalist, took the opportunity
of asking his advice in the case of a baby of one of the parishioners
that suffered from what seemed to be incurable fits. Bigsby at once
went to examine the child and recommended the application of a little
blistering lotion to the back of the neck; he sent to the boat for his
medicine-case, gave the _curé_ a small supply of the lotion, and
instructed him how to make more. This was, of course, the signal for
everyone in the village to require doctoring. Ailments were discovered
or invented with astonishing rapidity, and the whole time, till dinner
was ready, was occupied in feeling pulses, drawing teeth, lancing
abscesses, and salving sores. But if the surgeon had been a vain man,
the reverence paid to his skill would have been ample reward.

At last the white men were conducted in state to the chief's hut. The
dinner was laid on the floor, and mats and cushions arranged round it
in a circle; the two priests sat on the chief's right, the doctor and
Rocheblanc on his left, and his son opposite him, while the wife and
the daughter-in-law brought in, helped, and handed round the various
courses. The first of these was _sowete_, a really villainous
concoction of bruised sunflower seeds, _camash_ (a very insipid kind
of truffle), and the gristly parts of some fish-heads, all boiled
together to the consistency of porridge. Of this the guests ate
sparingly, and of the next course not at all, though it looked and
smelt so inviting that Bigsby and the fur-trader would have done full
justice to it, had it not been for a warning look from Père Tabeau,
and the ejaculation of the single word "Puppy!" which was lost upon
the Indians, as they spoke only the Canadian _patois_ and their own
Iroquoian. The dish might have been a roasted hare; but Bigsby
suddenly recalled, with a shudder, having seen a fresh dog-skin spread
to dry on the outside wall of the hut. But the remaining courses were
unexceptionable: various fish, a kind of grouse, venison, and a right
good beefsteak to finish with.

The chief implored his guests to stay for at least one night, but the
mission superior had an appointment early the following day; and,
when he had inspected the parish books, all returned to the boat,
conducted by the red-habited chief. At the landing-stage the canoemen
were busy stowing away presents which half the parish had brought
down for the mighty medicine man: fruits of all kinds, small
cheeses, carvings on horn, bone, and wood, and--to Bigsby's great
delight--several lumps of nickel and copper ore and some bits of
gold quartz. These he knew were to be found in the vicinity,
though he had not yet succeeded in discovering them; and here were
valuable specimens which he might have spent weeks in trying to find.

As a good deal of time had been lost, no halt was made that night,
each man sleeping in the boat, where and when and how he could; and,
long before noon of the following day, the next stopping-place was
reached. This was a small fur-trading centre where Rocheblanc also had
affairs to transact; and he and Père Tabeau went about their
respective business, agreeing to meet the doctor at the boat at three
o'clock.

Bigsby, having nothing special to do, explored the tiny settlement
and, strolling a mile inland, collected one or two geological
specimens. This occupation attracted a knot of Indian idlers, who
stood gaping at the childishness of a white man who could find nothing
better to do than picking stones off the road, throwing them down
again or putting them in his pocket, and varying these puerilities by
producing a hammer and knocking chips off unoffending wayside
boulders. Geologists and painters are too much accustomed to being
stared at, as marvels or lunatics, to heed such curiosity; and it was
not till he heard a strident voice in French, ordering the Indians to
go away, that he even troubled to turn his head.

"_Sales chiens_," "_salauds_," and "_sacrés cochons_" were the mildest
terms that were being hurled at the simple redskins by an over-dressed
and much-bejewelled being whose European toilette could not conceal
the fact that he was a negro-Indian (or a Zambo, as he would have been
termed farther south), with possibly a streak of white blood in him.

"Out of the way, reptiles, redskinned animals," he shouted. "White
gentlemen don't want to be pestered by you," and pushing his way
roughly through the little crowd, he came and stood by the scientist,
bestowing on him a most princely bow and a gracious smile.

Now as Bigsby had not sought this very loud young man's acquaintance,
and wouldn't have had it at any price he could have offered him, he
took no notice of him beyond a civil nod, and returned to his task of
examining a chip of quartz with a pocket-lens. But the Zambo, having
established the fact that he was "somebody" in these parts by driving
away the shrinking natives, endeavoured to press on the doctor a card
that bore a string of names beginning with César Auguste and ending
with the historic surname of de Valois. Convinced that the man was not
sober, and unwilling to be the centre of a disturbance, Bigsby turned
away with a curt "good morning" and followed the retreating Indians.

At three o'clock he returned to the boat. The others were already in
their places, and sitting next to Rocheblanc was a coloured person,
resplendent in white hat, fur-collared surtout, and an infinite
number of waistcoats, pins, brooches, chains, and rings; Dr. Bigsby's
acquaintance of a few hours before.

"I took the liberty of inviting Mr. de Valois to join us as far as the
next station, where he has business," said Rocheblanc, who, like the
Indians, seemed more or less in awe of the stranger. Bigsby concealed
his annoyance and comforted himself with the reflection that the next
station would be reached in less than three hours' time. It turned out
that the fellow was a millionaire fur-buyer, with whom Rocheblanc had
often done business and wished to do more, and who, from his great
size, his wealth, his powers of bullying, and his pretensions to white
blood, was a terror to all the more civilised Indians. To the doctor,
as a "king's officer," he condescended to be more friendly than was
desired; but his manner towards the two Canadians was insufferably
patronising, while a curse or a kick was the sole form of notice he
could spare for the canoemen, and that only when they happened to
splash him. Father Tabeau and the doctor pocketed their disgust as
well as they could, and Rocheblanc endeavoured to hold his guest
tightly down to business conversation. The worst of it was that the
canoemen, though strong, able fellows, seemed fascinated by their fear
of him, and had it not been still broad daylight, a serious accident
might have happened to the boat. Even as it was, the men paddled
nervously and irregularly, more than once getting her into a
crosscurrent, and growing only more frightened and helpless as the
half-breed became noisier and more abusive.

[Illustration: A BULLY WELL SERVED

The over-dressed Zambo, after bullying the canoemen to the verge of
mutiny, was ordered by Bigsby to leave the canoe. The bully clenched his
fist, but Bigsby planted a powerful blow on his throat, and sent him
right over the gunwale.]

"There'll be trouble if we're not careful, Father," said Bigsby in
English, now at the end of his patience. "If you'll allow me I'll try
and get rid of him."

He made a sign to the Indians to pull sharply in, which Mr. de
Valois did not perceive. But, when the confused redskins suddenly
ran the boat among a number of projecting stakes, where an old
landing-stage had been broken up, the Zambo, splashed and shaken,
began to behave like a maniac. He jumped up, cane in hand, and
lashed the three nearest Indians savagely over the head and face,
swearing, gesticulating, and threatening till the doctor was minded
to pitch him into the water straight away.

"Steady her; hold by those stakes," he cried to the men in the bow,
who, being farthest from the stick, were the coolest. Then, throwing
himself between the half-breed and the canoemen, he said, "There's one
redskin too many here, my man, and I think _you'd_ better clear out,"
and at the same time he wrenched the stick from his hand and flung it
on shore.

The bully clenched his fist, but again Bigsby was too quick for him,
and planted a powerful blow neatly under his throat; he staggered,
tried to steady himself, and, in so doing, toppled clean over the
gunwale.

"All right; push off," said Bigsby coolly. "He's got plenty to catch
hold of there."

The water was still fairly deep, but the stakes were so numerous that
even a non-swimmer could be in no danger. The boat was soon in clear
water again, and Cæsar Augustus could now be seen--a truly pitiable
figure--helping himself ashore from stump to stump, a sadder if not a
wiser man.

Bigsby never had the felicity of seeing him again, but he heard, some
months later, that his power over the redskins was very much
diminished, and that he had grown considerably less ready to domineer
over the race which certainly had more claim to him than any other.



CHAPTER V

CREEK INDIANS AT PLAY


A great deal of abuse has been poured, from time to time, on the
United States Government for its treatment of the North American
Indians. In point of fact, much of this abuse was quite undeserved,
for, as the well-known traveller, Captain Basil Hall, R.N., has shown,
constant endeavours were made by Congress to render the savages
self-supporting; large grants of money and land were given to those
who were dispossessed of their forest or prairie homes, and the
remainder were allowed and encouraged to preserve as many of their own
customs and laws as were not connected with blood-feud or revolt.

The redskins with whom Captain Hall came most in touch were the
Creeks, who--with the Choctaws, Chicasas, etc.--belong to the great
Muskhogean family, at one time the possessors of Kentucky, Tennessee,
Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. When the Captain first set foot in the
State of Georgia, in 1828, he knew little or nothing of the Indians,
save from books; and on entering upon the prairies near the Savannah
River, he was prepared for adventures thrilling and abundant. He and
his attendants were all well armed, for they had before them a lonely
ride that would occupy two days, to a small Government settlement on
the edge of a hilly forest, where they were to meet a United States
agent to whom the Captain had letters of introduction.

They rode all that day, however, without meeting a soul; and the
greater part of the next also. Then, as they crossed a stream which
formed a natural frontier between prairie and forest, smoke became
visible among the trees, and, shortly after, the travellers began to
catch glimpses, not of the wigwams which they had looked to see, but
of tarred log huts that were certainly not the work of unreclaimed
savages. But every man examined the loading of his firearms and
prepared to defend himself: a very needless precaution, as it turned
out. For, amid a confused barking of dogs and screaming of women, a
dozen or more redskins crept gloomily out from one or other of the
huts, and Captain Hall's heart sank in chill disappointment. Were
_these_ the noble savages whom, all his life, he had burned to see?
The "Black Eagles" and "Sparrowhawks" and "Pathfinders" of the
romance-writers?

The skinny, stooping, half-starved-looking group drew near. Not one
carried arms, not one appeared to have nerve enough to slay a spring
chicken; and the moment the white men reined up, all began a chorus of
whining appeals for tobacco, drink, or money, such as you may hear
from the gypsies along the Epsom Road. Hall hastily distributed some
small change and a handful of cigars and rode on again, having
scarcely the heart to look round on the dismal little village with
its scolding women, its disreputable fowls and dogs, and its little
company of loafing, unkempt men, the most energetic of whom could find
no more vigorous employment than the making of toy bows and arrows for
sale, or the listless sowing of seeds in ground that had never been
properly dug. And _these_ were the famous Creek Indians!

But compensation for the disappointment awaited him when, some hours
later, the forest path which he was following widened into a large
clearing where wigwams, as well as permanent huts, well-fed horses,
and camp fires announced at least a more virile and natural form of
life. A robust and well-dressed young white man came running out of
the first and largest of the huts and, greeting the Captain warmly,
introduced himself as the Government agent.

"Oh, pooh! They're not all so bad as that," he said when, seated over
a comfortable meal in the hut, Captain Hall dwelt on what he had seen
at the edge of the forest. "They're only the dregs and leavings. I'll
show you something different to that by and by. Poor beggars; I'm
afraid they've no one but themselves to thank for their condition."

"How do you make that out?" asked the Englishman.

"Well, when Congress claimed that bit of prairie land, these fellows
were given the patch where you saw them--and considerable money grants
as well. They went off to the towns and spent the money like children,
and when they hadn't got a red cent left, calculated to try farming. I
reckon you saw the sort of farming _they_ go in for, Captain. They're
too lazy to fell the trees, let alone grub out the roots or break up
the soil. We've given 'em corn for seed, but they only chaw it up and
then come back and ask for more. They had the option of coming out
here, but they ain't partial to forest hunting; they won't help
themselves, and they won't let us help them."

"But what's the good of their coming out here if you fellows are going
to turn them off when you think good?" asked the Captain.

The agent shrugged his shoulders. "Look here, sir, these chaps won't
be disturbed for another twenty years. The chiefs have had fair
warning, and if they don't turn to and help themselves before then,
it'll be their own look-out. Finer men you needn't wish to see--at
present."

Hall felt that the last remark was fully justified when, later in the
evening, his new friend conducted him to the middle of the clearing,
where the whole tribe had foregathered.

"Couldn't have come at a better time, Captain," said the Yankee.
"To-morrow's their Derby Day, University match, or whatever you like
to call it--the greatest day of the year. A team of up-forest Creeks
is now on the way to play against them at ball."

"Ball?"

"Ay, you'll see to-morrow. Come and be presented to the chiefs
now--and mind the dogs."

The caution was needful enough, for at the entry of every hut or
wigwam was a brace of half-wild Indian hounds, each fastened by a
thong to a stump, and ready to spring on the unwary.

"What's all the din about?" asked Hall, as they came to the village
square or _place_.

"Local band," said the American briefly, and just then they came upon
the gifted instrumentalists, two in number, though making noise enough
for two dozen. One "uneasy imp of darkness" was beating with his fist
a drum made of deer-skin stretched over a short length of hollow
tree-trunk; the other had a gourd, so dry that it resembled wood,
which contained a double handful of pebbles and which he shook as a
child shakes a rattle, only with more disastrous results to Christian
ears.

The "square" was formed by four long huts or pavilions, in one of
which sat an assembly of chiefs, cross-legged and smoking; and to
these the Captain was introduced with a good deal of ceremony. In the
middle of the quadrangle was an enormous fire of pitch-pine, and,
between it and the hut where Hall was now seated, were over twenty
young women, who sat--in accordance with local etiquette--with their
backs turned to the chiefs and visitors. These were the dancers, and
at a given signal they all rose, and went through some manoeuvres far
more tedious than interesting.

Perhaps the Englishman's face showed that he was bored, for the oldest
of the braves ordered the dancing to cease after a while, and
remarking to the agent that he had something in store that _would_
amuse the stranger, banged a copper vessel which did duty for a gong.
Immediately thirty fine young men sprang up from various quarters of
the court, and made a dash for a heap of sticks or clubs which lay
close to where the white men were sitting. Certainly these Indians
were a contrast to the poor wretches encountered at the edge of the
wood; every one of them looked as hard as iron and as agile as a puma.
Uttering fearful shrieks, and swinging their clubs round their heads,
they performed the wild sort of war-dance that Captain Hall had heard
of and had despaired of seeing, and followed it up with a series of
very ingenious and difficult somersaults, round and round the fire.

"That's only the first part of the preparation for to-morrow," said
the agent. "Come along, we must go to the town hall for the second."

They followed the chiefs to a very large circular hut beyond the far
side of the square, which was lighted and heated by another pitch-pine
fire; and they had no sooner sat down than the thirty athletes crowded
into the building and at once stripped off ornaments and clothes.
Supporting the roof were six stanchions, and to each of these one of
the Indians betook himself and stood embracing it. Then six of the
chiefs rose solemnly, and at once every voice was hushed. Each of
these had provided himself with a short stick, at the end of which was
a tiny rake--in some cases consisting of a row of garfish teeth, in
others of a dozen or more iron needle-points, with their blunt ends
stuck in a corn-cob. Every chief approached his man, and having
drenched him from head to foot with water, commenced an operation
calculated to set any civilised man's teeth and nerves on edge.

_Scroop-scroop_, sounded the rakes, like razors being drawn over very
bristly chins; and Captain Hall realised that these young men had
given themselves up to be scraped and scarified with the rows of
teeth. All stood quite passive while both thighs, both calves, and
both upper-arms were scored with cuts seven or eight inches in length,
the pleasantness of which proceeding may be gauged by the fact that,
in a few minutes, the victims were bathed in blood from heel to
shoulder.

"But what's it _for_?" whispered the Captain, fretted by the long
silence and the whole uncanny exhibition, as batch after batch of
athletes submitted themselves to the ordeal.

"They reckon it makes them more limber for to-morrow's performance,"
explained the agent. "They're the 'ball' team, you know."

Captain Hall had seen enough for one day, but early the next morning
he rode further into the forest with his guide, towards the playing
ground, some six miles away. This turned out to be another clearing--a
space two hundred yards by twenty, at either end of which were two
large green boughs stuck six feet apart in the earth, evidently meant
to act as some sort of goals.

Here was the ground, right enough, and batches of spectators were
continually adding themselves to those already in attendance. But
where were the players, and what were they going to play?

"They go to meet the other team," said the agent; "and they usually
take their time over getting here, for there'll be a score or two of
private fights, that have been carried over from last year, to settle
by the way."

When the white men had waited for more than two hours, they lost
patience and rode further into the forest in search of the rival
companies, guiding themselves more or less by the warlike howls that
proceeded from the distance. And presently they came upon the bulk of
the missing men, some walking in twos and threes, others stopping to
adjust private grievances with the strangers or their own people (they
did not seem particular), and a third contingent lying in the rank
grass, singing war-songs, sleeping, smoking, or bedizening themselves.
These latter, who had left the putting on of their bravery till the
eleventh hour, were painting their eyelids (one black and the other
yellow) and adorning their persons artistically with feathers and the
tails of monkeys or wild cats. Clearly it would be idle to suggest
their hurrying themselves; and the Captain and his conductor rode back
to the field very much at their leisure.

Shortly after midday, however, both teams arrived, and having
inspected the ground for a bare minute, made a sudden stampede, each
side for its own goal.

"There's one thing, they don't waste any time about beginning, when
they _do_ get here," said Hall relievedly, at which remark the agent
only grinned.

In another moment an appalling chorus of yells arose from the
neighbourhood of either goal, and both teams began to dance like
madmen, waving over their heads the sticks with which they were going
to play.

And now--imagine the Oxford and Cambridge crews, as a preliminary
to the race, gathering one on either bank and bawling derisively at
each other, cursing like bargemen and screaming themselves hoarse in
a struggle as to which side could make the more noise and utter the
grosser invective or the more offensive personalities. This is
what these unsophisticated savages were doing, and continued to do
for a good twenty minutes, the one lot recalling to the other's
memory former defeats or instances of foul play, the other replying
with both wholesale and individual charges of lying, theft, etc. Then,
when the abuse began to grow monotonous, it dropped suddenly; and, at
a sign from one of the chiefs, both parties advanced to the centre
and laid down their sticks. These were bits of well-seasoned wood,
two feet long and split at one end, the fork thus made being laced
across with sinew or skin, so forming a small and very rough sort
of tennis-racquet.

A deputation of braves advanced, examined the sticks severally, and
carefully counted the men (thirty on each side), and, this being done
to universal satisfaction, a chief harangued the teams for a quarter
of an hour, bidding them "play the game." Having finished his speech,
he told them to pick up their sticks--each player had two--and go to
their places; whereupon they distributed themselves much as we should
do at football or hockey, each goal, however, being guarded by _two_
men. When all were ready the committee of elders passed the ball from
hand to hand, each inspecting it gravely to see that it satisfied the
regulations. It was a soft, rough edition of an ordinary cricket-ball,
being made of raw hide, neatly stitched, and stuffed with horse-hair.

By this time Hall had begun to understand why his companion had
smiled so subtly at his anticipation of a speedy commencement. They
had tethered their horses some distance away, and had secured for
themselves a point of vantage near the scorers. At last the old chief
threw the ball in the air and beat a hasty retreat. As it fell it was
caught deftly by one of the home team between his two bats, and,
regardless of tripping, kicking, punching, and snatching on the part
of the other side, he began bravely to force a way towards the
opposite goal, backed up sturdily by his fellows, who were waiting for
him to throw the ball to them as soon as he saw himself brought to a
final stop by his adversaries. And thus the match proceeded, being--as
may be seen--not at all unlike our Rugby game; and whenever a goal was
scored by either team, the delirious shouting of the spectators might
have added to the impression of a modern onlooker that he was
witnessing a Crystal Palace cup tie.

But there were two respects in which their rules would have profited
by a little overhauling. We consider an hour and a half ample time for
a match to last; but, though Captain Hall watched the Indians' game
for five hours, it was not quite finished when he left. Twenty "was
the game," and any footballer knows that that number of goals is not
to be scored all in a hurry, when both teams are equally active,
powerful, and skilled men. The scoring, by the way--or the counting of
the goals--was done by the two mathematicians of the tribe, each of
whom was supplied with ten sticks, and stuck one of them in the ground
every time a goal was gained by his side. The dear old gentlemen could
not count above ten, so, when the eleventh goal had to be marked, the
sticks were pulled up and the reckoning was begun a second time.

[Illustration: A GAME AT BALL

This game is a mixture of tennis, lacrosse, and Rugby football. The rules
are few and simple, the object being to gain possession of the ball by
any means and hurl it between the goalposts of the opponents. The safety
or comfort of the onlookers is of no consequence whatever.]

The other direction in which the Indian laws cried loudly for
amendment concerned the spectators even more closely than the players.
There was no "touch" line, nor was the ball, no matter where it went,
ever regarded as _in_ "touch." With a pitch only twenty yards wide, it
will easily be seen that the ball was, from time to time, knocked or
thrown among the onlookers; but that was their own affair, argued the
players, who rushed pell-mell among them, screaming and struggling,
hitting or kicking, or trampling right and left.

Indeed, it was one of these wild rushes that was the means of bringing
Captain Hall's interest in the contest to an abrupt end. The ball had
come within a yard or two of him, plump between the two scorers, each
of whom wisely made an instantaneous dash into the open and so avoided
the onrush of the players. If Hall had had two more seconds at his
disposal he would have seized the ball and flung it into play again;
but the sportsmen were too near.

"Tree, tree," shouted the agent behind him; and waiting for no second
reminder, the active sailor sprang at the bough above him and hoisted
himself into safety just as the crowd swarmed over and half killed a
boy who was trying to follow him into the tree.

When the ball was safely on the other side of the ground he climbed
down.

"I'm going," he said resolutely.

They reached their horses and were riding slowly back towards the
village when shouts resounded behind them, eclipsing the loudest and
noisiest of any they had heard that day.

"The end of the game," said Hall. "Our side were nineteen when we came
away."

"Ay, the end of the game," assented the young American; "and the
beginning of the fighting. The losers are getting ready to whop the
winners. Are you keen on going back again?"



CHAPTER VI

WITH THE DELAWARES AND CREES


Sir George Head, elder brother of the great South American explorer
and Colonial Governor, was a sort of Ralegh on a small scale, inasmuch
as he figured in the various rôles of sailor, soldier, traveller, and
courtier. The greater part of his time from 1814 to 1830 was spent in
and about Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ungava, his military duties at
Halifax, as chief of the commissariat, giving him plenty of
opportunity for combining pleasure with business in long journeys
northward.

Late in the autumn of 1828 he set out on a tour north-westwards from
Halifax, intending to devote his six months' furlough to hunting among
the Cree Indians of New Brunswick and Eastern Quebec. It was not a
journey that would commend itself to people who love the sun and the
fireside, for though the district for which he was making is in the
same latitude as Cornwall, the average winter temperature may be put
down as 19° F. A coach took him and his servant across country as far
as the Annapolis Basin, whence it was only a sixty-mile run by steam
packet to St. John; and here there was no difficulty in obtaining a
large canoe with three Delaware Indians to paddle it and act as
guides.

Of the St. John River, up which quite big steamers travel over two
hundred miles nowadays, comparatively little was then known, except
its lower reaches, and its source, which lies north-westwards in the
State of Maine; and even the Indian guides would not undertake to go
many miles beyond Fredericton.

"What do you mean by 'many miles beyond'?" asked Major Head, when, on
passing that town some days later, the Indians reminded him of their
contract.

"Ten miles, or perhaps fifteen. We are strangers beyond that, and,
though the Cree Indians are akin to us, they do not love us." This was
perfectly true, for the Crees, Blackfeet, and other of the less
civilised Algonquin redskins despised the Delaware Indians as mere
cockneys.

In the end, the guides promised that they would go as far as the next
town, which was twenty miles farther, admitting that they might
possibly have business there. The nature of that business soon leaked
out, for suddenly the Indian in the bow dropped his paddle, snatched
up a spear from a small bundle of those implements that lay to hand,
leant over the side, and brought up a salmon nearly three feet long.
The other canoemen at once abandoned their paddling and stood
expectant, spear in hand. The Major had never caught salmon in any
other way than with rod and line, and he, too, took up a spear,
determined to distinguish himself; but, though they waited patiently
for another hour, not a second fish was seen, and at length the
Indians picked up their paddles again and moved on.

"We may get some to-night," said one of them; "though it is almost too
late in the year. Nearly all of them have reached the sea by this
time, but it was worth our while to come so far on speculation.
Between Fredericton and the sea there is little chance of catching
anything, for the timber rafters frighten all the fish, so that they
seldom rise."

At evening they landed to make their camp for the night; but, soon
after supper, instead of lying down as usual, the Delawares announced
that they were going fishing. By way of a preliminary, each lighted a
substantial brand of pitch-pine, and, taking up their spears, got into
the boat again, Head following them. And this time there appeared to
be considerably more chance for the fishermen; the silence and
darkness and loneliness of the spot were, of course, in their favour,
but of even more importance were the torches, which would appeal to
the curiosity of any salmon that might be about. Even in daylight the
Indian fishermen more often than not regard a flame of some sort as a
necessary adjunct to their work.

Sport opened briskly and brilliantly. Long before the Englishman's
eyes had accustomed themselves to looking down into the water by this
constantly moving artificial light, the Indians had caught over a
dozen fish; and still the silly creatures came peeping to the surface
or hovering a few feet below it.

With the "beginner's luck" that is proverbial, the first salmon that
came within his reach fell an easy prey to the Major's spear, so easy,
in fact, that the redskins smiled broadly at his triumphant
satisfaction, for they knew that it was the one happy chance in a
million. He began to think so, too, when, time after time, he darted
the spear into the water without making a second catch. His eye and
hand were well trained to every kind of sport; and, of course, he knew
that hitting an object in water and out of water are two very
different things. Over and over again he would have taken an oath that
his spear had struck its mark, and yet it came up empty. He grew more
and more impatient and venturesome, and, in the end, naturally met
with the reward that he might have expected: lost his balance and went
heels over head into the water.

He was a bold and strong man who had faced danger and death in many
forms, but the icy chill of that water almost prompted him to scream
out; and, as it gurgled and bubbled over his ears, he decided that his
chance of ever getting out of it alive was but small, for he was
wearing top-boots, thick leather breeches, a seal-skin jacket, and a
heavy overcoat. Nevertheless, he struck out desperately and reached
the surface again. If he could only keep himself up for a few seconds
he was safe. At once catching sight of him, one of the Indians uttered
a shout, leant forward with his paddle, and held it towards the
drowning man. A couple of laboured strokes brought him near enough to
clutch the blade of it, and he was speedily drawn to the stern of the
boat.

"Hold there," cried the Indian. "No, don't do that," for Head was
trying might and main to draw himself up. As every swimmer knows, it
is not the easiest thing in the world to get into a light boat from
the water, even when one has no clothes on and is not numbed to the
very marrow with cold.

"What on earth are you trying to do?" he spluttered, as the other two
Delawares also took up their paddles. What they were about to do was
soon clear enough; they meant to tow him ashore, for suddenly the
paddles flashed through the water and, despite the weight behind it,
the canoe moved rapidly towards the bank.

"Wait a minute, you precious fools," gasped the Major wrathfully; but
they never so much as turned their heads. True, he had never seen a
canoe move so swiftly in all his life, yet those forty or fifty yards
to the bank were like miles, and when, springing ashore, two of the
Indians bent over to help him out of the water, he could scarcely use
his feet to scramble up the low bank.

"Why ever didn't you pull me out straight away, or keep still till I
got into the boat?" he asked, as he stood and shivered before the fire
while his man gave him a rub down with a blanket. The Delawares looked
grave and wise.

"You are a tall and a heavy man. You might have upset the boat--and
then we should have lost all our fish."

Sir George does not record the answer that he made to these
curmudgeonly rascals who preferred endangering a man's life to the
risk of losing a few salmon. But perhaps they were only having their
revenge on him for having spoilt their night's work by driving away
all the fish.

The next afternoon, fishing and paddling by turns, they came to a town
or village of some pretensions--the last on the river. Head again
tried to persuade the Indians to agree to go farther, but fruitlessly;
and their utmost concession was that, as one of their number was going
into the town to buy some goods while the others sold their fish at
the wharf, he would make inquiries about procuring new guides. The
Major sent his man across with the luggage to the only decent inn of
the place, and himself idled about the jetty, talking to the remaining
Indians and their customers.

"He has found a guide for you," said one of the Delawares at last,
pointing to a strange figure that came stalking along the quay behind
the third Indian.

The new arrival was a middle-aged man of such ferocious aspect that
Head fancied he could foresee trouble before they had gone far
together. He was one of the Crees, and his personal beauty--probably
never at any time great--was not improved by the scars and tattoo
marks that covered his face, arms, and chest. Cold though the weather
was becoming, he was naked, but for his moccasins and a sort of kilt
or petticoat made of feathers and deer-skin. His hair, also decorated
with feathers, extended to his waist, and he wore a string of odds and
ends round his neck: glass beads, teeth, bits of metal, coins, and
buttons. He carried a broad-bladed spear nearly eight feet high in one
hand, and an enormous club in the other, while from his neck or
shoulders hung bow, quiver, tomahawk, and two knives.

Head, who spoke the Algonquin dialect perfectly well, bade him give
some account of himself, and he replied, in a voice whose mildness
scarcely fitted his fierce and repulsive appearance, that he had
ridden down from his camp near Presque Isle (in Maine) to guide a
Yankee fur-trader across the New Brunswick boundary, and had now been
waiting two days on the chance of a similar job for his return
journey.

"Who did you suppose would be likely to be going up there from
_here_?" asked the soldier suspiciously.

"There are many French people who come from here to buy our furs. Is
it not true?" The new guide turned fiercely on the Delawares for
confirmation, and they nodded, making little effort to disguise their
fear of him. Hitherto they had generally shown themselves cool-headed
enough, but in the presence of this forest savage they seemed afraid
to say that their souls were their own.

Head reflected that he was becoming very tired of the river, and
further, that it might now be frozen hard any day. Moreover, it was
but a roundabout way of travelling compared to the forest, which,
being only of pine and spruce, offered none of the obstructions of
the creeper-clad woods farther south. Could he hire or buy horses?
he asked of a negro working close at hand. Ay, any number of
them; mustangs were being brought over the boundary every day by
enterprising Americans, and could be bought for a couple of
pounds a head.

"Very well, then." The Major turned to the Cree again. "Call for me at
the inn to-morrow morning at nine, and I shall be ready to start."

Arrangements were soon made as to horses, and Head, who had not slept
without his clothes for a week, and might not see a Christian bed for
weeks to come, went off to his room, resolved upon at least one
night's good rest. Coming down to his breakfast in the morning, he
found that his man had put out, cleaned, and loaded a pair of pistols
for him.

"Beg pardon, Major; most disreputable-looking party that guide, sir."

"Well--yes; we don't want to know too many of his sort. We'll keep an
eye on him in case he has some idea of leading us into an ambush; but
don't let him imagine that we suspect him."

Head had finished his breakfast and was strolling into the yard at the
back of the house to see if the horses were ready, when a violent
uproar arose in the bar, which was at the other end of the passage:
women screaming and running hither and thither, loafers shouting and
laughing. Yielding to natural curiosity, he turned back along this
passage and was just in time to see a stranger sight than he had ever
witnessed in all his six-and-thirty years. There, gesticulating,
stammering, and struggling, was the terrible Indian of the day before,
and, behind him, one hand firmly grasping his long hair, the other
buffeting him liberally over head and ears, was the landlady--a sturdy
Irishwoman--who was "helping him into the street," at the same time
expressing her opinion of him with great volubility. In her wake
followed two chamber-maids, each armed with a mop, and from one of
them the traveller learned that the Indian had already been forbidden
to enter the house on account of his drunken and riotous behaviour
there two days earlier.

"We only keep one manservant, and he's frightened of him, so Missis
had to take him in hand," explained the girl cheerfully.

The valiant brave made no second attempt to enter the inn, and stood
meekly by his horse till the travellers were ready, and Head--with
difficulty keeping a straight face--bade him lead on. They were soon
riding at a good level pace along the forest track, which, by its
narrowness and few signs of recent use, did not promise a meeting with
many travelling companions. At first the Indian only answered curtly
to the remarks addressed to him, but, little by little, he forgot the
insult to his dignity and had become quite chatty by the time they
stopped to rest the horses and eat the dinner which they had brought
with them. He said they would pass no more inns--no more white
habitations of any sort, in fact--till they came to the United States
boundary, and but very few then; and no Indian camps that side of
Presque Isle, which was still forty-five miles distant. From there the
travellers could, if they chose, journey as far as the St. Lawrence
with a party of Crees who would soon be starting away for the winter
hunting, and who would show them where they could get a boat across
the estuary.

They rode another twenty miles before sunset, and then halted for the
night. While the Indian was making the fire he several times glanced
round him to windward and sniffed the air suspiciously.

"There will be snow before morning," he said; and indeed, during the
past hour there had been well-nigh an Arctic chill in the air, though
it still wanted a week or two of the beginning of winter. That snow
was coming was bad hearing; not that two men, who had often slept
practically under water during the war in Spain, were likely to shirk
one night in the snow; but because they had not troubled to bring many
provisions, being unwilling to hamper themselves and relying on
finding abundance of game in the forest.

If a heavy snow should come, the chances of killing anything fit to
eat would be diminished tenfold, for hares, rabbits, and squirrels
would stay at home; and further, the journey towards a district where
they were safe to meet with plenty of animals (elk, caribou, etc.,
that had just migrated to the forest from farther north) would occupy
thrice the time they had allowed for it.

"You and I must take watch and watch to-night," said Head to his
servant, not unmindful, in face of new dangers, of the likelihood of
their guide's playing them false. "We don't want any of this good
man's 'surprises'; if you turn in when you've had your supper, I'll
call you soon after midnight and we'll change guard."

Immediately after supper the Indian rolled himself in his blanket and
Head was left to amuse himself. When his man roused him at six the
next morning, he found the ground more than a foot deep in snow, and
the Indian, who was just returning from filling the breakfast kettle
from the stream hard by, greeted him with the news that the ice was
several inches thick. But, he added, there would be no fear of famine;
they would have sport enough before the day was out.

"What sport?"

"Wolves!" The Cree smacked his lips as if he were speaking of a
Mansion House banquet.

"Ah! Then that is what I heard just as I was falling asleep."

"Most likely; their track lies all round our camp; not close, for they
feared our fire."

"Is there more snow to come, do you think?" None was falling now.

"Not unless the wind gets up again. But we ought soon to be moving; it
will be bad going for the horses."

The hardy little mustangs seemed not a whit the worse for their snowy
bed, and stepped out bravely as soon as they were mounted. But Head
pulled a long face as he remembered how little corn he had brought
with him; truly the cobbler's wife was going the worst shod; he who
had control of the entire military commissariat for that district had
left the food for his men and horses to chance, on a journey of sixty
miles, twenty-five of which had still to be covered! Of course, the
pace they made was wretched, for the snow was fetlock-deep at the
best; and, at the worst, it had risen to drifts of ten feet, which had
to be dodged or skirted. Three miles an hour was the utmost that could
be expected, making allowances for everything; and by the time the
horses had gone twelve miles, it was clear that they must have a
rest.

"So our next meal is to be wolf, eh?" said Head as he surveyed a lump
of salt beef of which none would be left when three men with
frost-sharpened appetites had eaten their fill. The Indian nodded.

"And they are not far away; I have heard them for the last hour. The
horses can smell them now; you will find that they will not touch
their oats." This was true; two of the tethered animals crouched
shiveringly, disdaining their food, while the third strained at his
halter as though he meditated flight.

"What does it matter?" said the Cree. "We have but thirteen miles to
go; we shall be at our camp soon after dark, and my people will be as
brothers to you. As for the wolves--" he laughed boastfully--"I will
kill them by the dozen if need be."

"Yes; we've seen something of your bravery before," said the Major in
English. He divided the one remaining loaf and the meat into three
equal parts. "You two can do as you like; I shall only eat half my
share now."

The servant followed his example, but the Indian was resolved that the
future should take care of itself. He had scarcely swallowed his last
mouthful when he started up.

"Mount! Quick! They are coming!"

"Then what's the good of mounting, you infernal coward?" said the
Major, snatching up his gun. "We can't race wolves."

The guide made no answer; but, slipping his horse's halter, vaulted to
his back, and might have ridden away but that Head turned his
gun-barrel on him.

"You stay where you are.... Now, Sanders, we must keep them off the
horses if we can. Fire the moment they show their noses, and trust to
their eating up their brothers while we----_Look out!_"

A pack of over forty wolves came yelping through the trees, with a
strange, bouncing motion which showed that even they were seriously
impeded by the snow.

"Fire; and keep one eye on the redskin," muttered Head.

A wolf went down before the servant's first barrel and, from the break
in their ranks, several of the others appeared to be falling on the
carcase. A second and third and fourth fell to the guns; but the
wolves had smelt horse-flesh, and neither noise nor gunpowder nor dead
comrades could keep them from following up the scent. The two white
men reloaded, fired, and loaded again with the coolness habitual with
soldiers; but it was plain enough that the pack would not be kept off
much longer.

"I'm afraid we shall have to give up the horses after all," said Head,
as the foremost wolves bounded contemptuously past or over the last of
their number that had been shot.

"Why do you not mount?" bawled the Indian in his ear. Head had
forgotten his existence for the moment. "That is the only way to save
your horse. You have had your play; let me show you what the red man
can do." As he finished speaking he methodically pulled his quiver
forward and began to pour arrows into the howling pack more swiftly
than the eye could follow them, every one of them carrying death to a
wolf.

"Up, Sanders, and use your pistols! By Jingo, that fellow was right!"
shouted Head as he leapt into his saddle.

"You see? It is quite easy," remarked the Indian with as much
_sang-froid_ as though he were at target-practice. "When I have
emptied my quiver they will all be dead; if not, I have my lance.
Don't waste any more of your powder." And all the while he went on
shooting.

The soldiers could do little but stare at the man's amazing coolness;
he who had writhed and screamed when attacked by an irate Irishwoman,
was now killing wolves at the rate of about twelve per minute, and the
only time he broke off from his task was to draw his knife and stab
that one of the wolves that was bold enough to venture a spring at his
horse. It was plain enough that he had known what he was talking about
when he counselled mounting the horses. Wolves that would tear an
unridden horse to shreds would not dare touch one that was mounted,
unless they were maddened by hunger; and so early in winter this could
hardly be the case.

"Yah! Now run away, cowards, and tell your brethren to come," shrieked
the Cree, when, without waiting for his last few shots, the remaining
dozen wolves turned tail and skulked away. Then Head stretched out his
hand and patted the blanketed shoulder.

"Well done; I did wrong to call you coward. You shall have double
payment when we reach your camp, and I will make you a present of
these two horses."

"We must have my arrows back, in case of further accident," said the
redskin, making neither much nor little of his achievement. In a few
minutes he had cut all the barbs from the carcases, and proceeded to
skin the three primest wolves, cut away the fore and hind quarters,
hung the three "saddles" on his horse's withers, and remounted. The
Cree Indians and the Eskimos will none of them refuse roast wolf, and
the ribs are considered a special delicacy.

With a little coaxing from the guide the horses now ate their corn;
and, not long after dark, that much misjudged individual led his
employer proudly into the Indian camp. The chief, very much astonished
at finding a white man able to speak his tongue with fluency,
promised, in return for a ridiculously small sum of money, to allow
the travellers to join his great hunting party which was to start
northwards for elks, caribous, etc., in a few days' time.

During those few days Major Head had an opportunity of noting various
ceremonies peculiar to the northern Indians, which were quite new to
him. One of these was a dance which signified a loving farewell
between the hunters and the warriors who remained behind to guard the
camp, and was precisely the same as that which Samuel Hearne saw
farther north-west.[1] In this, the two parties formed into two single
files, and, bow in the left hand and an arrow in the right, approached
each other, walking backwards. When the lines were almost touching one
another, both turned suddenly, each party starting back with feigned
surprise at seeing the other; then, with astonishing quickness,
transferred the bow to the right hand and the arrow to the left, in
token that their intentions were strictly friendly.

  [1] See "Adventures in the Arctic Regions." (Seeley and Co., 1909.)

The other ceremony was also a dance, the celebrated snow-shoe dance,
which took place when all was ready for the departure northwards; and
in this Head was especially interested, because he was himself an
expert on "shoes." Two or three spears, elaborately decorated with
feathers or other trophies of the chase, were stuck upright in the
snow, and to one of them a pair of snow-shoes was hung; and, after
prayers and incantations by the old chief, ten mighty men of the
tribe, each carrying his weapons, formed themselves in a ring round
the spears. Waddling, sliding, dancing, or jumping, these passed round
and round the consecrated shoes till all were satisfied that the Great
Spirit's aid had been enlisted, and that the ghosts of the animals or
birds that they might kill would never return to vex the slayers.

[Illustration: THE SNOW-SHOE DANCE OF THE RED INDIANS

A religious ceremony at the opening of the winter hunting season.]



CHAPTER VII

AMONG THE FUEGIAN INDIANS


Tierra Del Fuego--"The Land of Fire," as Maghelhaens christened it,
from the number of beacons exhibited along its coast--is the home of a
family of Indians properly known as Pesherahs. Whence they came no one
can tell us, though some think them to be of Chilean origin; but they
are--and have been, during the last four centuries--among the most
degraded savages that the earth holds. This is, no doubt, partly owing
to the barrenness of the archipelago and the almost animal simplicity
of their lives which is a consequence of it; for though their brain
development is certainly not extraordinary, it is probably as high as
that of many savages who have yielded with comparative readiness to
European influence.

All sorts of efforts at civilising the Fuegians have been made by
philanthropists, scientists, and missionaries, but it is to be feared
that they have met with little success. Not the least practical of
these was an experiment made by the late Admiral Fitzroy, inventor of
the nautical barometer that bears his name, and better known to
readers in general as Darwin's friend and at one time commanding
officer.

From 1826 to 1830 this clever young sailor was in command of H.M.S.
_Beagle_, which, with H.M.S. _Adventure_, was sent on a surveying
expedition to the southern seas. During the early part of this cruise,
while an exploring party was ashore in what is now called Beagle
Channel, a number of Fuegians took advantage of the absence of the
sailors to spring into their boat and row off with it.

Not wishing to lose the boat, and deeming it advisable to give the
natives a lesson, Commander Fitzroy took another pinnace ashore and,
with half a dozen bluejackets, made a descent on the nearest
encampment, captured the first family he could lay hands on, and took
them back to the brig to be held in pawn for the stolen boat. This
move, of course, answered its purpose; the boat was restored and the
hostages liberated. But of these there were three to whom the
commander had taken a special fancy: a stalwart young fellow of
nineteen whom (from the adjacent mountain which Cook had so named) he
had dubbed "York Minster," and a boy and girl of about fourteen. York
and the girl, Fuegia, on being asked if they would like to come to
England, joyfully accepted the offer; and the other boy was readily
exchanged by his father for a pearl shirt-button.

The enthusiastic young commander brought these three home with him,
endeavoured to teach them English, and dressed them respectably; and
after he had been ashore for about two years, decided to take them
back to their country as a pattern to their friends and relations. He
engaged a missionary--a Mr. Matthews--and was on the point of
chartering a small vessel and taking the natives back at his own
expense, when, to his joy, he heard that his old brig was to be sent a
second time to the Horn and that he, now gazetted post-captain, was to
have command of her. It was on this voyage that he took with him, as
naturalist, Charles Darwin, a young fellow not long down from
Cambridge.

In December, 1832, the brig anchored in the Bay of Good Success, and
her arrival was hailed by a tatterdemalion group of Fuegians who piled
their fires high and frantically waved their scanty garments as though
to scare off the intruders. These people of the eastern side of the
island were a far more robust set than the typical Fuegians of farther
west; many of them were over six feet high, and all boasted some sort
of clothing--usually a mantle of guanaco (llama) skin. Fitzroy and
other officers went ashore, bearing presents, at sight of which the
savages abandoned their distrustful and defensive bearing and showed
every willingness to be friendly. Their chief had his hair confined by
a rough head-dress of feathers, and his coppery face was painted with
transverse bars, after the fashion of the Indians of the North.

The Englishmen distributed pieces of red cloth, which each recipient
immediately tied round his neck. Thanks for these bounties were
offered in a series of "clucks," which a horse would assuredly have
translated as "gee-up"; and further, by sundry pats on the breasts of
the donors. After Captain Fitzroy had been thus patted three times by
the chief, it occurred to him to return the compliment, a proceeding
which highly delighted the whole tribe. But the most exciting scene
was when one of the sailors left in charge of the boat began to sing
absently to himself. In an instant the Indians deserted the group of
officers, rushed madly down the beach again, and almost grovelled
before the singer, considerably to his amazement.

"All right; sing up, my man; let'em hear you," cried Captain Fitzroy
encouragingly; for the bashful performer had stopped somewhat abruptly
on finding himself thus distinguished. "Bear a hand, you lads; he's
shy."

Thus urged, the grinning bluejackets struck up a rousing sea-chorus,
the effect whereof was to make even the important-looking chief stand
open-mouthed and wave his hands in wonder and delight.

As the first meeting with the savages had been so successful, on his
second landing the Captain was accompanied by York Minster and the
other two natives, Jemmy Button, now a strapping fellow of eighteen,
and Fuegia Basket, already a grown woman, and betrothed to York. The
Indians' attitude towards them was one of curiosity as intelligent as
such people are capable of. They felt their English-made clothes and
compared them half contemptuously with the bright-buttoned uniforms of
the officers, and the chief, pointing to a few straggling hairs on
York Minster's chin, inquired why he did not shave them off after the
Indian fashion. The colour of their visitors was the greatest mystery
to them. Jemmy and York were dressed like white men, and had short
hair, and yet were not white. York knew their language and Jemmy did
not. This was very puzzling. Then--was Jemmy the same colour "all
over"? The chief made him strip his sleeve, but while this was being
done something else happened to distract the savages' attention. Mr.
Bynoe, the ship's surgeon, had been examining one or two bad sores on
the face of a native, and now stepped back to a rock-pool to wash his
hands.

That a man should dream of washing at all was a mystery to the
Fuegians (in fact, during the whole of the brig's cruise in these
islands the practice never failed to attract admiration, though it
does not seem to have gained converts), but the doctor had thrown off
his pilot-jacket and rolled up his shirt-sleeves for the performance.
This more than staggered the beholders, so that Jemmy saw himself
rudely neglected; for the Englishman's arms were a different colour
from that of his hands!

It was the white men's turn to be inspected again. Everyone, from the
Captain to the boat's crew, was implored to show his arms, and this
only led to further mystification, for while the hands of the officers
were tanned and their arms white, the brown on the seamen extended to
the elbows. A full parliament was at once held, but the debate had to
be abandoned; the matter was too abstruse for the Fuegian brain.

Mr. Darwin created a diversion by attracting the Captain's attention
to a very tall fellow among the group; and to settle an argument
between them as to his abnormal height, Fitzroy called to him the
tallest of the boat's crew, and told him to stand back to back
with the rival giant. With the natural vanity of the savage, the
Fuegian seemed to guess in a moment what was being said about him,
and no sooner was he placed back to back with the seaman than he
endeavoured, first to edge himself on to higher ground, and,
failing that, to stand a-tiptoe. When York Minster explained to him
that he was the taller by two finger-joints, he began to swagger
about as if he had bought the island.

The old chief was very anxious that the three natives should at once
take up their abode with that portion of the tribe; but neither Jemmy
nor Miss Fuegia could yet make themselves understood; the parents of
all three lived on the other side of the island, and further, the
Captain was not at all satisfied that the chief's hospitality arose
from any higher motive than that of plunder, if not murder.

With a favouring wind they ran through the Strait the next day, and
once more went ashore. Here Fitzroy found that his former visit had
presumably been forgotten; for when he led an exploring party of
thirty men into the nearest camp, the natives armed themselves with
slings, stones, and fish-spears, and assumed altogether a very
threatening front. These folk were the most debased of the islanders;
not one man had a stitch of clothing on him, and whereas the other
natives had shown such terror of the bluejackets' muskets that they
would not even lay a finger on them, these were not even inquisitive
as to the weapons of the white men, and certainly mistook the amiable
demeanour of the strangers for timidity. They dropped their arms,
however, on some offerings of red ribbon being made.

But possession only whetted greed; and taking up their arms again,
they began one and all to bawl "Yammerskooner," which, York Minster
said, meant "give me," but which sounded a great deal more like "your
money or your life!" The more the sailors gave, the more did the
Indians pester, till, with the hope of scaring them away, Fitzroy drew
his sword and flourished it round the head of the chief; but he and
those with him laughed jeeringly, as though this were only child's
fooling. Then the Captain, who was an excellent shot, pointed a pistol
at--or rather half an inch above--the head of the noisiest of the
party, and fired.

Every man stared at his neighbour; every man clapped his hands to his
ears and uttered an ejaculation; but nobody thought of moving. Poor
wretches; they were as ignorant of danger as the wild beasts.

"No good, Captain Sir," said York Minster. "But you kill one--then all
run."

"Tell them they're likely to get hurt if they go too far," said the
Captain. The interpreter obeyed, but they showed no more feeling at
his remark than fear of the pistol.

It was growing late; the Englishmen were hungry and had yet to find a
comfortable ground for the night's bivouac. Fitzroy quietly told his
men to draw off; but at the first movement of retreat, the savages
grew bolder and more menacing. Nothing could be much more galling to
Englishmen than retreat under such circumstances as these. Here were
thirty white men, all well armed, and the majority of them experienced
fighting-men, turning their backs on less than a hundred miserable
specimens of humanity with scarcely brains enough to know the use of
their own weapons. The faster the sailors moved, the faster the
Indians followed. To kill one or two of their number would have been
to put the rest to flight; but unless actual violence should be
offered, neither Fitzroy nor any of his companions were the men to
disgrace their flag by the sort of "fighting" which has made the
Spaniards and Dutch hated in East and West.

Arrived at a good spot, the Captain called a halt, and ignoring his
persecutors, ordered a large fire to be made, and posted sentries at
various points round the camp; then told York to try his eloquence
with the natives once more. Meanwhile the stores were unpacked, and at
sight of the strangers eating, a new begging chorus arose which was
fortunately satisfied by a small distribution of ship's biscuit.

At dark the natives were ordered out of the camp and warned by York
that they must not attempt to pass the sentries. That lesson was
impressed on the more obstinate by the sailors' throwing them "neck
and crop" beyond the boundary line. This sort of argument they could
understand; and though some of them loitered round the camp all night,
or lit their own watch-fires close to it, there were no attempts at
trespass.

Young Jemmy Button, on being rallied by the officers on his
disreputable connections, stoutly disowned them; he belonged to
another tribe, he said. But soon after sunrise several dozen strange
men and women appeared, summoned by the remainder, and among them were
Jemmy's mother and brethren. Darwin, who witnessed the reunion, says,
"the meeting was less interesting than between a horse turned out
into a field and an old companion." But those women who recognised
Fuegia showed themselves very interested in her toilette.

It was now that the value of Fitzroy's experiment was to be tested.
Matthews, the missionary, asked to be left behind with three
natives while the sailors continued their coasting trip; and it
was plain enough that York and his bride and Jemmy asked nothing
better than to be allowed to settle among their own people, from
whom they had now been absent four years. Already Jemmy was
recalling his language--which was a great mercy for him, for, as
Fitzroy had said earlier, "he had forgotten Fuegian and never more
than half learned English, so that he was as ignorant as a rational
being could well be."

The Captain's surveying expedition lasted for some days, and when it
was finished he ordered the boats to call at the spot where the
missionary had been left, before they returned to the _Beagle_.

Mr. Matthews was awaiting them in a terrible plight: scarcely a rag of
clothes on him, hungry, bruised, and wounded, and with a wretched tale
to unfold. Jemmy had been robbed of everything he possessed; even
York, strong man though he was, had had much ado to protect himself
and his wife, while the missionary, left to fend for himself, had not
dared to sleep during the whole time. He had been robbed, stoned,
threatened with all manner of violence, and only saved from death by
doling out buttons, studs, or coins which he had contrived to
secrete.

Fitzroy, who knew that these people were not only ruffians but
occasionally cannibals as well, sent the missionary on board again,
and was half tempted to take Jemmy with him also, particularly as the
young man was loud in abuse of his family; but on the whole he was
likely to be safe enough under York's patronage now that he had
nothing left to steal.

The brig made sail farther south, and a month or so later returned to
her old anchorage. Before long a canoe put off from the shore, and a
thin, haggard savage came paddling out to the vessel--Jemmy! Jemmy,
without a rag to cover him!

"I think, sir, you'll have to take him aboard again," pleaded young
Darwin.

"It does look like it," said Fitzroy. "I'm afraid we've made a fish
out of water of him," and the two went forward to greet their old
friend.

But Jemmy electrified everyone by the statement that he was
perfectly happy, and had only come out to bring a couple of
otter-skins to Lieutenant Sulivan and Dr. Bynoe--his favourites among
the officers--and some neatly-carved arrows for the Captain; and
further, to invite the ship's company ashore to visit the tribe.

Mr. Button was fed, and loaded with presents; and later in the day
Fitzroy, Sulivan, and Darwin went ashore. The first thing that was
apparent was that Jemmy had taught the tribe some English words; the
second was that that youth had reasons for not wishing to rejoin the
_Beagle_. For, pointing to a modest-looking girl who stood in the
background, the old chief tapped the Captain on the shoulder and
observed, "Jemmy's wife; Jemmy's wife," and the whole tribe,
parrot-like, took up the cry.

Fitzroy never met his protégés again; but, in 1842, Captain Sulivan,
who was cruising off the island, fell in with a British whaling
skipper, and he told him that his men had seen a native woman who
spoke excellent English. This could have been no other than Fuegia.



CHAPTER VIII

THE END OF THE "BLACK HAWK" WAR


Some allowance ought surely to be made for a man who is condemned to
go through life with such a name as Muckkertamesheckkerkerk; and, to
do the United States Government justice, the gentleman so styled seems
to have been treated with a good deal of patience and lenity.

"Black Hawk" (to give him at once the name by which he is better
known in American history) was an Indian chief who contrived to be
as much a thorn in the flesh of the white rulers of his country
as--let us say--some of the Welsh princes were in that of our
Plantagenet kings. He was born in 1767, and by the time he was
fifteen had so distinguished himself in war and in hunting that he
became a recognised brave of his tribe--the Sac and Fox. Up till
the year 1804 the new republic could afford to ignore the deeds and
misdeeds of this renowned patriot, for he confined most of his
energies to warfare with the Cherokees and Osages--sub-tribes of
the Iroquois; but, as white civilisation continued to push westward,
it became necessary either to conciliate or to subdue those who
stood in the way of its progress.

At first conciliation did not appear difficult. General Harrison
invited Black Hawk--now a man of four-and-thirty, and the recognised
champion of all the Algonquin Indian tribes--to appear at St. Louis,
in order to discuss the question of boundaries, and to enter into a
treaty which would be of mutual benefit. Black Hawk came, and with him
a host of tributary chiefs--Shawnees, Blackfeet, Sacs and Foxes, etc.

The American General's proposals were fair and to the point. The
redskins were to renounce all claim to about seven hundred miles of
land east of the Mississippi, in return for an annual payment of a
thousand dollars. A couple of hundred pounds as rental for a strip of
land some eight hundred miles long sounds ridiculous enough to us,
unless we bear in mind that the Indians were merely asked to keep to
the other side of the river; they were not giving up towns or houses
or cultivated lands; they were receiving what--to them--meant a very
substantial income, in return for their migrating to far better
hunting-grounds in Iowa and Minnesota. Black Hawk solemnly agreed to
the contract, with--we must believe--every intention of keeping his
word.

Unluckily, General Harrison and his officers had rather lavish notions
of hospitality; and when Black Hawk's decision was made known to the
other chiefs, most of them were a great deal too drunk to know what
they were agreeing to. The money was paid regularly enough, and, for
some few years, whatever breaches of the treaty there were, were so
trifling that the Government could easily wink at them. Black Hawk
went about his hunting and his civil warfare and conducted himself as
a respectable savage should.

Then he got into bad hands. As the troubles of our own armies in India
and the Soudan have shown, it is no uncommon thing to find peaceable
men stirred to fighting frenzy by some maniac who makes it his
business to cause as much strife as possible in the name of religion.
A great prophet had arisen among the Indians--a Shawnee, in whose
hands poor Black Hawk was wax; and who gave the redskins no rest till
they crossed the river in a body, and swept eastwards as far as
Michigan, driving the handful of white settlers back and back to the
towns from which they had come. This was in 1811. In the following
year, now thoroughly persuaded that he and all the chiefs and all the
white subscribers to the treaty were drunk when it was signed, and
that it was no longer binding, Black Hawk pressed on into Michigan as
far as Detroit. This was more than human patience could stand; the
white citizens turned out, and drove away the Indians with such
slaughter that their leader was only too glad to draw off. For four
years he confined his attacks to petty farm raids, and, in 1816,
signed another treaty, which was followed by fourteen years of
comparative peace, though Black Hawk and a few of his supporters
refused to retire across the river again.

By 1830 the States Government, realising its folly in having allowed
any deviation from the strict terms of the agreement, obliged Black
Hawk to sign another, by which every acre of land east of the river
became white property. It was now that the real trouble began. The
Indian chief was growing old, losing his former promptness of action,
and becoming more and more a slave to the Shawnee prophet's counsels.
During the fourteen years that he had been practically defying the
Government, he and his immediate adherents had begun to farm a little;
and just now their crops were ripening, and harvest-time was almost
due. When the order came for him to leave the neighbourhood he lost
his head or his temper, refused to stir, and threatened with death
anyone who dared to interfere with him. A week later he returned from
his hunting to find some white labourers calmly ploughing up his crops
and parcelling out his land. There was a brief scuffle, and the whites
were obliged to flee, and thus opened the last period of the war.

Knowing that vengeance would be taken, Black Hawk sent across the
river for more warriors, and prepared to make a decided stand. But
instead of the half-dozen shopkeepers and labourers he had been
prepared to meet, he found himself attacked by a body of men several
hundred strong, well armed, and many of them mounted. These were the
Illinois militia under General Gaines--hardy trappers, farmers, and
timber-rafters, whose fathers had fought with and defeated British
regiments. The Indians' nerve failed them, and, after a single deadly
volley from the militia, they fled. But, instead of crossing the
river, they went north, into Wisconsin, where they looked to find
remnants of their tribe who would ally themselves with them.

During the whole of the next year, and until the summer of 1832, a
very clever guerrilla warfare was carried on by the savages; hundreds
of white men were killed, and scarcely one Indian; nor was there much
in the shape of a pitched battle. It was then that General Atkinson,
an old and experienced fighter of Indians, was sent to put an end to
the whole matter. Dispatching a small force of light cavalry, under
General Scott, to search the woods, he marched the bulk of his little
army towards the Wisconsin River, in the hope of eventually
surrounding the Indians and capturing Black Hawk.

His march proved more tedious than he had bargained for. Nowadays
tired New Yorkers and Chicagoites, with a taste for sport, devote
their summer holidays to shooting over the beautiful Wisconsin
highlands; but in 1832 there were no railways or palace-like hotels
there. Even a farm was a rarity, and every hill or ravine might
conceal a score of Indian sharpshooters. The whole aspect of the
country was savage, dreary, and forbidding. It had been the duty of
the advance guard to see that there were no redskins lying in ambush;
but General Atkinson soon began to think that that duty had been very
much neglected, for at almost every mile an arrow or a bullet came
from nowhere, wounding some man or horse, and in one case killing a
Sioux guide. This kind of thing continued for a couple of days or
more; and Atkinson had begun to say somewhat hard things of his
colleague when one of the scouts rode up to report a mound of earth
which, he said, looked very much like a grave. Before the day was out,
six more such mounds had been seen by the wayside, and as most of them
were marked by a cross, hastily made with a couple of sticks, it was
all too probable that these were the graves of white men.

The old soldier's mind was soon made up.

"We must get double work out of our horses, boys," he said; "there'll
be no camping to-night; I'm going to overtake General Scott."

All sorts of possibilities suggested themselves, the most prominent of
which was that they were coming to a district more thickly populated
by Indians, who had been picking off Scott's men with increasing
rapidity; for the last four graves were ominously close together.
Scouts were doubled and, so far from making any pretence of a stealthy
march, lanterns and torches were lit, and every hiding-place hurriedly
examined. The night passed without any sign of Indians; but, soon
after daybreak, three or four columns of smoke were seen rising from
behind a hill that lay in the line of march. Half a dozen scouts
galloped forward and soon disappeared. Atkinson's men closed up,
baggage-waggons were dragged to the centre, and in a moment everyone
was prepared either to charge or to repel a charge.

In less than five minutes a single horseman appeared on the top of the
hill and clattered down the slope. Atkinson spurred his horse and
hurried to meet the messenger--one of the six scouts.

"Well?" he shouted when he was within earshot.

"General Scott--cholera--had to give up!" was the cheering intelligence.

"Forward!" shouted Atkinson, and the company hastened over the hill,
at the foot of which a pitiable state of things awaited them. Soon
after the start of Scott's troops, cholera, in its most malignant
form, had broken out among the party. In less than two days seven men
were dead, and now the remainder had been obliged to abandon their
march, for there was scarcely a trooper of them who was not more or
less afflicted by the horrible malady. As some little consolation
for these tidings, General Scott reported that he had dislodged a
party of Sac and Fox Indians from a ravine, and that these had
fled collectively towards Bad Axe River.

Leaving behind the few men that he could spare to guard and nurse the
sick, Atkinson hastily drew his force to a safe distance from the
cholera camp, and, after a few hours' rest, marched for the nearest
reach of the river, and along the bank, northwards.

Indian chasing does not permit of lengthy rest; the cavalry did not
stop again till long after nightfall, and were off again before dawn.
That afternoon, as they came to a wider strip of river, the General
realised--and not for the first time--that it is the unexpected that
usually happens. Barely a mile ahead, a schooner, towed by three
cutters, was moving slowly northward. Atkinson galloped ahead, but
before he had overtaken the vessel the men in the boats had long
ceased rowing, and she was heading more towards the opposite bank.

"Who are _you_?" was suddenly shouted from her after-deck.

"General Atkinson. Who are you, and what are you about here? Seen any
Injuns?"

"The _Warrior_--Captain Throckmorton.--All right, sir; I'm sending a
boat ashore for you."

This was the first that Atkinson had heard of a river expedition
having been sent. He knew Captain Throckmorton as a very distinguished
young officer, and a clever linguist, master of several native
dialects. While he was speculating as to what had brought the schooner
here, and, further, as to the meaning of a white, flag-like object
which--as he looked past the vessel's stern--he could see waving on
the opposite bank, one of the cutters had pulled ashore and was
waiting for him. A lieutenant met him at the gangway.

"Cap'n's talking to the redskins. Come aft, sir, please."

Then the waving white thing was explained; there were Indians on the
far bank, seeking, under cover of the white flag, to parley with the
Captain. Atkinson joined him and, as well as he was able, followed the
dialogue.

"If you want to speak to me, you must send at least ten of your men
aboard."

"I have not so many with me."

"Liar. I saw over a hundred of you a few minutes ago. Where's your
hopeful leader? Where's Black Hawk?"

"They were but women and children whom you saw."

"Where's Black Hawk?"

"Are those General Atkinson's warriors on the other bank?"

"Yes," interrupted the old soldier explosively; "and I reckon you'll
find that out purty soon."

"Where is Black Hawk?" once more demanded the Captain.

"He is--he is--oh, across the river."

"Will you come aboard if I send you a boat?"

"No."

"Then I give you fifteen minutes in which to send away your women. You
know what that--_Heads oh!_"

A flight of arrows had greeted the Captain's last remark. Happily no
one was struck, and the schooner immediately put into mid-stream
again.

Through the thick foliage on the bank, a redskin or a white feather
could be seen every now and then; the muffled sound of voices could
also be heard. Then another volley of arrows came; and another, and
exclamations from the direction of the boats showed that two men were
wounded. The captain motioned to the crews to shelter behind the
vessel, but still he gave no order. He had promised a quarter of an
hour's grace, and only five minutes of that time had gone by.

"Hear that?" said Atkinson suddenly; and Throckmorton nodded. Every
man on deck had heard the click-click of a score or more of
gun-hammers being pulled back.

The crew looked questioningly, but not impatiently, at their captain;
they knew that he would not go back from his word. There were still
seven minutes to wait.

"Lie low, all hands," said Throckmorton very quietly; and as he spoke
twenty or more sparks and flashes showed through the leaves and a
shower of lead flew over their heads. The man at the wheel was shot in
the shoulder; but the Captain sprang back and had taken the spokes
almost before the sailor fell.

"Let them go on," he said, looking at his watch again. "Your turn will
come, my lads."

Perhaps no other men on the face of the earth, save those of British
extraction, would have stood by uncomplainingly during those next five
minutes without returning a shot. Every man had a loaded musket in his
hand, except the two or three who were in attendance on the howitzer,
ready at a second's notice to fire. Another flight of arrows came;
then one more, and the schooner's spars and bulwarks were bristling
with them.

"Two more minutes!" said Throckmorton. "Look out; they're firing
again."

The volley came. One man fell dead, and another had his hat carried
away; but still no one spoke. Captain Throckmorton beckoned a sailor
to him and bade him take the wheel; and again expectant eyes were
turned on him. Suddenly he returned his watch to his pocket, and
everyone gave a little gasp of relief. The Captain nodded to the men
at the howitzer, and instantly a shell flew among the trees; and,
before the echo of the report had died away, the sailors' muskets
began an incessant fire. Indians appeared from everywhere--from
tree-branches, grass, sedge, in many cases only to fall before the
steady rain of bullets. Some ran north, others south, and these latter
suddenly found their retreat cut off by a heavy fire from the other
bank; for Colonel Dodge, whom Atkinson had left in charge, had only
waited for the men on the schooner to begin firing to get his own
carabineers to work.

"Where can my waggons ford it?" asked Atkinson significantly.

Captain Throckmorton soon produced a soundings-chart and showed that,
at about a mile higher up, the waggons could easily cross, now that
the tide was running down.

"Put me ashore, then."

In a very few minutes the old fighting-man was in the saddle again;
and, while the baggage was moved on to the ford, he and a hundred
light-armed cowboys were swimming their horses across the river. The
shelter from which the Indians had fired proved to be a narrow,
copse-like strip which separated the river from an undulating
prairie.

"There they go, General!" cried a young fellow, Captain Dixon, who
rode behind the leader.

"Ay; making for the hills. _I_ know; the same old plant. We must
pretend to be taken in.--Go on, Dixon; after 'em with twenty men."

The General knew well enough, from bygone experience, that the spot
from which the score or so of redskins were fleeing was probably that
at which the bulk of their army lay _perdu_, and that they were merely
trying their old trick of getting a pursuing force between the two
halves of their own. He rode steadily on, and, before he reached the
hills, saw that he had not been mistaken. The fleeing Indians had
suddenly wheeled and were bearing down furiously on Captain Dixon's
few men.

"Forward!" shouted Atkinson. "He can take good care of himself. We
want Black Hawk.... And here he is, by the living Jingo!"

As he spoke, sixty or seventy Indians appeared at the top of the hill,
four of them beautifully mounted; the rest on wrecks of animals that
could scarcely be matched in a Belfast job-yard.

"Fire! A hundred dollars to the man who gets Black Hawk--alive or
dead," shouted Atkinson as he drew his horse to one side.

Without drawing bridle, the troop fired and reloaded, as only men
born, reared, and nourished in the saddle as these were could have
done. Three of the well-mounted Indians, ignoring the volley, rode
straight at the white men, and were followed more hesitatingly by the
rest, with the exception of those killed, and of the fourth man,
evidently--from his fantastic garb--the aged Shawnee prophet.

"Black Hawk! Black Hawk! Over with him!" roared the excited Yankees,
as a splendid-looking old man, six feet four inches in height, rode
fearlessly at them. Pistol-bullets whizzed round his head, but he
appeared to ignore them and, swinging his war-hatchet, began to cut a
way through the cowboys. His two well-horsed companions--his
sons--followed closely, and in a couple of minutes six of Atkinson's
men were dead. But one glance behind him showed the chief that he was
playing a losing game. General Atkinson seemed to have surrounded all
the rest of the Indians with his troop, who were hewing them down
right and left. Captain Dixon's men, too, had put to flight or killed
those who had turned on them, and were now coming to reinforce their
comrades.

With a passionate yell of disappointment and hatred, the chief turned
his horse's head in the direction whither the prophet was already
fleeing; and, with his sons, rode for some distant bluffs. It was all
very well for Atkinson to spur in pursuit, shouting, "After him!" The
white men's horses had been almost dead-beat before the flight began,
and now could scarcely move at all; and the General was obliged to
await his baggage-vans for the pitching of his camp, for at least a
few hours.

But, before those few hours were ended, another party of Indians came
riding into view, and, as the men sprang to their arms, one of
Atkinson's Sioux guides cried jubilantly: "They are our brothers! They
are the white chief's brothers also."

The strangers galloped up and showed a goodly supply of fresh scalps.
They had pursued and slaughtered those of Black Hawk's warriors who
could not escape with him.

"Why didn't you catch Black Hawk?" asked Atkinson disgustedly.

"We know where he has gone to hide. What will the white chief give us
for Black Hawk and his sons?"

The old man named a price, and the troop rode off again. Soon after
sunrise they returned, and in their midst were Black Hawk and his
sons. The old chief was sullenly silent--a broken man, in fact--and
one is glad to know that these rough cowboys had it in them to treat
the poor old fellow with the courtesy becoming his standing among the
natives.

With his two sons and seven other braves he was taken to Fort Monroe
and there imprisoned for a short time; but when the country was once
more quieted, the Government appointed a fresh chief in his place and
he was set at liberty. He died among his own people six years later.



CHAPTER IX

PERUVIAN INDIANS


The history of South America teems with accounts of arduous marches
made by European explorers through its forests or deserts, across its
mountains or along the banks of its rivers. Some of these are more
widely celebrated than others because the results were greater; but
many minor expeditions--some unsuccessful, others serving no practical
end--are as worthy of remembrance because those who undertook them
went coolly, and with their eyes open, into all manner of privations
or dangers, for the sole purpose of advancing their country's
interests.

Among such secondary enterprises is the journey made by Lieutenant
Smyth and Midshipman Lowe from Callao to the Amazon, in 1834, an
enterprise which recalls some of the splendidly reckless achievements
of the Spaniards in the first half of the sixteenth century, or of our
own even bolder adventurers in the second half.

While Captain Fitzroy was still surveying the southerly parts of the
American continent, H.M.S. _Samarang_, under Captain Paget, was making
a similar though more rapid cruise right round the peninsula from La
Guayra to the Bay of Panama. As the ship lay at anchor for
observations off the Peruvian coast, the question was raised as to the
possibility of the Amazon being converted into a water-way between the
Atlantic and the Pacific; and Captain Paget, more in jest than
seriously, asked who would volunteer to go ashore, cross the Andes,
and find the nearest approach to the main stream of the river. To his
amazement, John Smyth, a junior lieutenant, at once offered, and so
earnestly did he beg to be allowed to go that the Captain was forced
to give way at last. Young Smyth had a good knowledge of Spanish, and
was known to be courageous and level-headed; but the difficulty was
that not a boat's crew, not a single seaman, in fact, could be spared
to accompany him; but Smyth insisted that he required no protection,
and only asked leave to take, as companion, his young cousin, a
midshipman named Lowe.

Their knapsacks were soon packed, a cutter took them ashore, and the
crew gave them a parting cheer as they turned back to the ship. In
Callao Smyth hired five mules, and two Jevero Indians to attend him as
muleteers and guides. As becomes direct descendants of the Incas,
these were fearless, fine-looking men, industrious and kind-hearted,
though by no means the sort of folk one would like to offend. They
belonged by birth to Ecuador, which is the chief home of their tribe;
but they seemed to know every yard of the country from Colombia to
Chile, and from the coast to the Brazilian frontier, and, contrary to
the usual custom of their tribe, both spoke Spanish quite well. One
part of their costume which very much interested the two sailors was a
short length of dried reed which each wore in place of an earring,
and fixed to the end of which was the tooth of a slain enemy. But this
was the only essentially barbarous decoration they possessed. They
were bare-foot and bare-headed, but wore shirts and trousers like
ordinary mortals; both, too, were Christians.

At first they assuredly did not flatter whatever vanity the English
lads may have possessed, for they would scarcely believe that such
youthful-looking persons (Smyth was twenty, and Lowe sixteen) could
command the obedience of tried warriors. The question arose through
Luis, the younger guide, contrasting the weapons of the two. The
middy, after the fashion of the time, wore a dirk, while his cousin,
of course, carried a sword. Was it then the custom, asked Luis, for
the length of an English warrior's weapon to depend on his years and
fighting experience? With what sort of blade, in that case, did the
_commandante_ of a ship fight?

Their opinion improved very much, however, as time went on and as they
found these two lads enduring, without a murmur, heat and cold and
thirst and fatigue which few white men that they had ever seen could
have borne. Perhaps it should be added that their experience of white
men was limited to the incorrigible lurchers and beach-combers--most
of them of Spanish origin--to be seen anywhere along the South
American coast. By the end of the second day they had come to feel
quite a fatherly affection for them, so much so that they divulged a
secret which, just at that time, might be worth more than its weight
in gold to the explorers.

The lieutenant had noticed that, though neither guide showed any
disposition to eat or drink "between meals," they never seemed
wearied, nor did they, when supper-time came round, eat with great
appetite; this was the more surprising since they walked the greater
part of the way, while Smyth and Lowe rode mule-back. On his making a
remark about this, Filipe, the elder Indian, opened the satchel in
which he carried his various belongings, and displayed a good stock of
leaves and a small tin of quick-lime, saying:

"You have just eaten your supper, Señor Lieutenante, and cannot judge;
to-morrow I will give you some of these to try for yourself."

During the next morning, after a wearisome climb, Filipe fulfilled his
promise; he rolled a few particles of lime in two or three of the
leaves, and, pressing the whole into globular form, handed it to
Smyth.

"Chew that," he said. "It is _coca_, and will sustain you for nearly
an hour."

Smyth had previously noticed both men stuffing something into their
mouths periodically, but, being so used to seeing the sailors chew
tobacco, he had never given it a second thought. He chewed lustily at
the little ball for five minutes, but succeeded in extracting neither
taste nor nourishment from it.

"I think I should prefer salt pork," he said. "What little taste your
coca has is beastly; and I am as hungry as I was before."

"Patience; you have not chewed it long enough."

He tried again, and presently the Indian said with a smile:

"Well, Señor?"

"I don't know how it is, but I'm losing my hunger. _You_ try it,
Frank.--Give my friend one."

The Jevero shook his head doubtfully.

"It must be a little one, then. It is not good for him. You smoke
cigars, and you give some to us; but you do not give him one. With
_coca_ it is the same."

Smyth continued to chew, and was no longer conscious either of hunger
or fatigue--for half an hour or more, when both these mortal ills
began to return; and of course with double acuteness. He remarked on
this to the Indians.

"Ah!" said Luis; "now you know how we can tell the time without a
watch, how we know the number of miles we have walked without counting
our steps. When you feel to want new coca-leaves, thirty-five minutes
have gone by; add the ten minutes during which you found no effect
from them, and you observe that three-quarters of an hour has expired.
In that time we walk, at the present rate, five miles." He might have
added that, if abused, the coca habit is as pernicious and as
degrading as opium-taking.

"It will be five miles no longer now," said Filipe, interrupting.
"Quick; blind the mules, Luis!"

They immediately began to bustle about like seamen in a gale of
wind, and, in a few minutes, each of the five mules had a cloth tied
over his eyes. There was soon no need to ask why. The slope they had
been ascending had become a level strip--literally a strip. To the
left of them the sailors saw a sheer wall of rock, rising perhaps a
hundred feet, while to the right, not more than eight feet from it,
was the edge of a precipice. Used as they both were to overcoming
inclinations to giddiness or fear, they shuddered involuntarily as
they cast their eyes over the brink and found that they could see no
bottom to the abyss. Yet the Jeveros put themselves on the mules'
outer side, one leading a string of three, the other two, and
walking heedlessly within a couple of feet of the precipice.

To add to the gruesomeness of the neighbourhood, a weird, wailing cry
began to rise from the high ledge above their heads, at the sound of
which the Jeveros crossed themselves and mumbled a prayer.

"What is it?" asked the midshipman, not without a little touch of
awe.

"_Alma perdida!_" said Luis, reverently lowering his voice. The words
meant "a lost soul," but the boy was unaware of that, and Smyth did
not think a mountain-ledge, such as this, quite the right place to
choose for enlightening him. Used to Spanish and now to Indian
superstition, he guessed--and rightly--that the cry was that of some
bird, probably peculiar to the Andes; and he questioned Filipe, who
was walking at his mule's head.

"Yes; it is a bird. It passes its time in bewailing the dead, and the
sins which they have committed."

"It will have a chance of bewailing its own death," said the
lieutenant peevishly, "as soon as I can get a shot at it," at which
the guides betrayed as much horror as Smyth himself would have shown
had they proposed using an albatross as a target.

"What are we going to do if we meet another string of mules along
here?" he asked.

"One party must lie down and let the other pass over it," said Filipe
indifferently.

By night-time the severe nerve strain of such a passage was ended, for
this ledge at last became a rock-walled mountain-path sloping at quite
an easy incline. They were no sooner well along this road the
following morning than the guides looked to the loading of the guns,
for they said that in the neighbourhood they might expect to meet with
black Indians, who were notorious cannibals, and whom it would be
their duty to kill. But it happened that none thought it worth while
to put in an appearance; the "cannibals" were probably imaginary,
though, of course, there are blacks--negroes, not Indians--settled in
various parts of the Andes, the descendants of the African slaves
introduced by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century to carry packages
of gold or silver which the Indians could not or would not carry.

At last the most wonderful mountain-range in the world was crossed.
The mules were left at a village, and the two Jeveros had an
opportunity of showing that they were as expert on the water as on the
mountains. For now they were in Amazonian Peru, and the Huallaga River
had to be descended and examined before the sailors' task was
accomplished. In this more easterly forest district of Peru there are,
at this day, nearly four hundred thousand Indians, and at that time
there were half a million; many of them very degraded, many more
warlike and intelligent heathens, and others who led quite peaceable
lives as farmers, planters, fishers, or exporters of turtle-oil.

Only once were the sailors in serious danger at the hands of any of
these tribes, and that was due not to themselves or to the natives,
but to the Jevero guides, both of whom had an ineradicable contempt
for all Indian families but their own.

This happened soon after the return journey up the Huallaga had begun.
Smyth had expected such an occurrence for some time, for he had more
than once been forced to remonstrate with his men for their
quarrelsome or jeering attitude towards Indians whom they met and
talked with, and who would have been perfectly willing to be friendly
and obliging. They came up with a large canoe containing eight Indians
who were lying in wait for a manatee. Smyth bade the Jeveros draw up,
and entered into conversation with the hunters, who answered civilly,
though not without some distrust. Luis and Filipe joined in unasked,
and, when it was too late, the lieutenant perceived that they were
"chaffing" the strangers. These became more and more angry, and at
last refused to answer Smyth, who thereupon, for peace' sake, told his
canoemen to paddle on. They obeyed, but not without a parting jeer
which the Englishmen did not understand, but which so incensed the
Indian in the bows of the other canoe that he hurled the harpoon which
he was holding straight at Luis.

Luis gave a peculiar twist with his paddle, the canoe shot sideways,
and the weapon passed harmlessly by him. Filipe picked up the
short-barrelled gun that lay at his feet, but, quick to meet all
emergencies, Smyth drew a pistol and pointed it at him.

"If you don't drop it before I count three, I shall fire."

[Illustration: A FIERCE RETORT

The Indian in the bows of the other canoe became so incensed at the
"chaffing" of the strangers that he hurled the harpoon he was holding
straight at Luis.]

In English, he added quickly to the midshipman, "Cover Luis, if he
tries any games."

Filipe dropped the gun with a shame-faced little laugh, and Luis
showed no disposition either to take revenge for the harpoon, or to
back up his friend against their employer.

"Give way, as hard as you can; both of you," said the lieutenant,
watching, with no little concern, the harpoons which were being held
in readiness to throw at his canoe. Perhaps one bullet from his gun
might have put the whole boat's crew to flight, but he had the love of
fair play and reluctance to kill which has distinguished the majority
of British explorers, whether renowned or obscure. He put his pride in
his pocket and frankly ran away.

Strangely enough, neither of the Jeveros ever showed any animosity
towards him for thus siding with the enemy. When, at length, the
parting time came, both pressed keepsakes on the young officers, and
then surprised them by holding them by the hands and crying over them
like a pair of women.



CHAPTER X

THE CARIBS OF GUATEMALA


In 1839, curious as to the rumours of general anarchy prevailing
throughout most of the Central American countries, the United States
Government sent a young Foreign Office official--Mr. John Lloyd
Stephens--to find out the truth of the matter. At first glance there
seems nothing specially alarming or hazardous about such a mission,
nor would there be nowadays; but, at the date of which we are
speaking, there were no means of rapid communication between the
towns, and many of the roads, rivers, and forest or mountain tracks
were in the hands of strong parties of Carib and Mosquito Indians,
Zambos, and Mestizos (white and Indian half-bloods), who would have no
more respect for an agent of the American Government than for the
colonists of their own country, against whom many of them were uniting
their forces.

Under the circumstances, Mr. Stephens thought it wisest to land at
Belize, and learn from the English officials there the best plan to
pursue. British Honduras at that time was not strictly a Crown Colony,
but was governed by the executive in Jamaica. The commanding officer
of the garrison, Colonel McDonald, received him with great geniality,
and entertained him for a couple of days. But he could promise him no
material help, he said, when once he was off British soil; he had no
authority even to lend him a boat or launch, and dared not take upon
himself to send an armed escort beyond the frontier.

"There is a Guatemala steamer starting up the Belize river to-morrow
night," he said. "I will send down and book you a passage. After you
land you must not rely on us"--the Colonel laughed--"in our official
capacity, that is to say. Of course, some of the staff are often up
country after game, and if we should happen to find you in a tight
corner on somebody else's ground, we couldn't, as private individuals,
leave you in the lurch. You've got a nasty job; Guatemala and Honduras
are both more or less in rebellion; so's Mexico for that matter; and
the Indians are plundering Government and revolutionaries alike. We've
had a little trouble of our own with the Caribs; you'll probably meet
some of our firing-parties, any of whom will guarantee you protection
as long as you're our side of the boundary."

The next evening, Mr. Stephens, accompanied by his secretary, Mr.
Catherwood, went on board the little steamer--a boat which an American
or English owner would send round the world with a ship's company of
six, but which, here, was manned by no less than twenty Mestizos, an
English engineer, and a Spanish skipper. The only other passenger was
a young Irish Franciscan, who proved very jovial company, and who
professed to regard the Indian risings as a mere idle scare. He, too,
was going into the first native territory through which the
travellers must pass, and offered himself as their guide thus far.

They could not have had a better, for his "cloth" was of more use to
them than a small escort might have been. Soon after leaving the
steamer they came to the first of the Carib camps. The Irishman
baptised all the babies in the place, good-humouredly "chaffed" the
warriors over their unwisdom in taking part in white men's squabbles,
procured a supply of provisions for himself and his companions, and
all three set off across the boundary into the more dangerous
territory.

They should by right have reached a Spanish village that night, where
they would have been able to obtain horses; but a storm came on, and
there was nothing for it but to wait on the plain till it was over. A
question arose as to shelter and fuel, and this was solved by their
seeing a sheep-fold in the distance. They came up to it and found it
untenanted; there was a hut big enough for three persons to sit in,
but too small for even one to lie in. For a fire, they broke down some
of the rails of the fold, from which they cut kindling wood, and soon
had a cosy blaze which defied the rain; they ate their supper and
slept on the floor of the hut, huddled together.

In the morning they were awakened by a loud chattering of men, and
Stephens, who was nearest the door, found himself being dragged
forcibly into the open, while he was rubbing his eyes and trying to
remember where he was. Catherwood sprang out after him, pistol in
hand, only to be overpowered and relieved of it by a crowd of Caribs.

But, at sight of the friar, the Indians hesitated and became less
noisy. He spoke to them in their own language, and demanded to know
the cause of this violence.

"These men have broken up and burnt our sheep-fold," exclaimed one of
the Caribs.

"Well, well; leave go and I'll explain. Give that gentleman his pistol
back; he doesn't want to hurt you."

"Tell them we'll pay for our night's lodging," added Stephens.

An explanation was offered and accepted, as were five dollars (about
the value of the whole enclosure in a country where wood was
plentiful) from the Americans; and the mollified Caribs led the way to
their camp, gave the strangers a good breakfast, and put them on their
road for the Spanish village. There they found everything quiet and
orderly, though reports were rife as to terrible doings farther west;
the Irishman obtained two good horses for his friends and bade them
good-bye, as their ways divided here.

"We're on our own resources now, and no mistake," said Stephens when,
coming to the end of the plain, they found themselves in the hilly
district which grows higher and higher till it becomes the Central
Guatemala Range, 13,000 feet high. "Let's have a look at the chart."

Colonel McDonald had warned them of the mountains, and had given them
a plan showing one or two deep river valleys, here and in Salvador, by
following which they could reach the Pacific coast without any
climbing that a horse could not manage. Upon this an Indian village
was marked at a distance of about six miles from where they now were;
and they might expect to reach it easily by nightfall, after allowing
themselves ample time for making notes of the country by the way. They
were tolerably sure of a civil reception and a night's lodging, for
their thoughtful Irish friend had given them a letter of introduction
to the resident Spanish padre of the place.

They made very few notes, for they had no fancy for a second night
over a fire of palings; another storm was threatening, and they
spurred for the village without further delay, arriving at the same
time as the rain. It was just at the end of the _invierno_, or wet
season, which consists, in Central America, of lengthy thunderstorms
at very irregular intervals. The priest happened to be absent, but
letters of recommendation were superfluous here; the travellers had
landed on a tribe of Caribs as different from the others as
yeoman-farmers are from gypsies. The others had been one part
shepherds and nine parts brigands; these were the agricultural
Guatemalans, descendants of the most highly civilised of the ancient
Indians, whom--by reason of their very civilisation--Cortez could
easily subdue in war, while the other tribes rendered his march
through the country anything but safe or triumphant. Their inoffensive
disposition made the Spaniards treat them rather as protégés than as
victims.

The only difficulty that presented itself was that few of the
inhabitants spoke any language but their own, for the tribe had, for
four centuries, resisted all attempts to force a new language or new
laws upon them; even their Christianity was but a hundred years old.
They entertained the visitors well, but could give them no information
as to the state of the country; they were not interested in the doings
of the outer world; they cultivated their cochineal insects, grew
their coffee, tended their cattle, and minded their own business. They
gave the Americans an unoccupied hut, brought them a generous supply
of meat, wine, and cakes, and left them to amuse themselves for the
night, with instructions to ring if they wanted anything; the ringing,
by the way, to be performed by beating a drum which they hung outside
the hut door.

Just before it was light, Stephens waked to hear a low cry from his
friend. He sat up and struck a light. Catherwood was lying with his
knees drawn up, hands clenched, and eyes staring, and, in reply to the
other's questionings, answered only in an incoherent babble. Stephens
crossed over to him and saw that his teeth were chattering and his
face almost scarlet; there was no doubt as to his condition; he was in
a burning fever. Nothing could have been more unlucky. He had brought
the young fellow with him purely on his own account, and unauthorised
by his department. He was not in Government service, but merely a
personal friend whom Stephens' private means enabled him to keep in
constant employment as amanuensis; therefore, to lose several days, or
weeks, nursing him, at such a time, would be to bring himself into
serious disgrace with the ministry. Yet how could he leave him in an
Indian camp, to the tender mercies of some mad witch-doctor, who would
charm and physic him to death with the most generous intentions?

He paced up and down for a while, and, at daylight, went out into the
open, forced by his own ignorance of medicine, and his anxiety for his
friend's safety, to stoop to ask advice of a people whom his American
upbringing had taught him to despise. And it was just possible that
the Spanish padre might have returned by now, and he would be sure to
possess some knowledge of drugs and minor surgery. In the village
street he met the chief, one of the few natives who spoke Spanish.

"I will call the physician of the tribe," he said, when Stephens,
learning to his dismay that the priest was not expected till
night-time, had communicated his difficulty.

The native doctor was a little old man who had no small opinion of his
own importance, and was as contemptuously ignorant of Spanish as the
Yankee was of Huaxtecan and Cariban. He passed his hand over the
patient's brow, breathed on him, muttered incantations, and then
walked round the hut about a dozen times, solemnly talking to himself,
till Stephens could scarcely resist the temptation to give him a lift
into the street with his foot. After a time the _piache_, doctor,
conjurer, or whatever he called himself, took out two powders from his
girdle, poured water on them, sipped the drink, breathed and mumbled
over it, opened the sufferer's mouth, and poured it down his throat
before the spectator could make up his mind whether to interfere or
no. Then the old image strutted out of the hut, as proud as Punch.

This was all very well, but Stephens' mind was ill at ease. He
followed the man of medicine into the street, and found the chief
waiting modestly but expectantly outside.

"Ask him what he has given my friend," he said, curtly. The chief
bowed, but shook his head.

"These are mysteries into which I may not inquire. The physician's
secrets are sacred. You may rest assured that the young white man will
soon be well."

Of course, Stephens did anything but rest assured of this. He turned
into the hut again, and lo! Catherwood was sleeping as peacefully as a
child, with no sign of indisposition except the flush on his face. The
chief peeped in apologetically.

"He says that the sick señor will be well enough to travel by midday,"
he whispered. It was now four o'clock; Stephens ate some breakfast
fretfully, looked at the patient, walked about the village, and sought
to kill time as best he could. Every time he re-entered the hut,
Catherwood's temperature was less high; and, about the middle of the
day, he awoke of his own accord, ravenous for some breakfast. The old
medicine-man had known his business; had administered two, out of the
thousand and two, healing drugs which the American forests and valleys
produce--probably quinine and some preparation of poppy--and had
nipped in the bud what was doubtless an attack of malarial fever.

Catherwood paid his doctor's bill by the gift of a four-bladed
pen-knife, his friend forced a similar present on the chief, and early
in the afternoon they rode away about their business. The next few
weeks were passed in hurried journeys from town to town, in false
alarms, in being potted at by revolutionaries, and humbugged by
officials; and by the time they had crossed once more to the Bay of
Honduras and the Guatemala coast, they had found out all that there
was to learn.

About a mile from the British boundary they encountered their most
exciting adventure. Outside a Carib village were a dozen Indians and
Mestizos, all armed with guns, and in heated argument with five young
men, who were obviously British officers in mufti; these also had
guns, and two of them carried well-filled game-bags.

"You intend to keep us here? It will be the worse for you if you try
it," the eldest of the white men was saying in Spanish.

"Unless you give us what we ask," replied a Mestizo insolently. "You
have no right to be over the border."

The Americans pulled up their horses, and Stephens drew a pistol.

"All right," he said. "We're going to be in this."

"Then pray begin by putting that pistol out of the way, there's a good
fellow," said Major Walrond, the young man who had spoken to the
half-caste. "We shall be very glad if you'll back us up. We want to
get out of it without firing on them if we can."

"What's the row?"

"These Mestizos belong to the rebels, and are recruiting among the
Indians; promising them all sorts of plunder, no doubt, and they
rather think of practising on us for a start; want us to empty our
pockets and game-bags, and give up our guns and ammunition. Look out,
you fellows."

Seeing a reinforcement for the white men, yet not one that need be
feared so far as they could see, the ruffians were becoming impatient,
and one or two had cocked their guns.

"Ride 'em down; use your whips, but for goodness' sake don't fire a
shot while we're on this side of the boundary," said the senior
officer hurriedly. "Bravo, Spencer; over with him"; for a subaltern
had seized the rifle of one of the half-breeds and was wrenching it
out of his hands. "Thank you, Mr. Stephens."

The last remark was occasioned by the American's felling with his
pistol-stock an Indian who was taking aim at the Major. Then the white
men began to hit out, shoulder to shoulder. The Indians were quickly
overpowered, for they were more than half afraid of the guns they
held, and, on these being wrested from them, fled to the nearest
ravine. But the Mestizos were more of a handful. There had been five
of them to begin with; the subaltern had disarmed one, and he had
fled; Major Walrond had just knocked another down with his fist,
and he lay unconscious; but the other three, artful enough to reflect
that even if their opponents decided to fire on them, their guns
were only charged with bird-shot, harmless at any appreciable
distance, were running away with the evident intention of using their
own ball-cartridges from some point of vantage.

Stephens' matter-of-fact Yankee way of looking at things now became a
valuable asset.

"_We're_ no British subjects," he said hurriedly, "and you'll not be
to blame if we fire on these chaps"; and, pistol in hand, he spurred
after one fugitive while Catherwood pursued a second. The third fired
at Catherwood, the bullet carrying away his hat, but one of the
subalterns was on him before he could load again, wrenched the rifle
out of his hands, and gave him a complimentary tap on the head with
the butt thereof. The other two, seeing that the horsemen at least
would have no scruple about using firearms, stopped when called upon
to do so, and sullenly gave up their guns.

But that mile back to British territory seemed a most amazingly long
one. The Carib fugitives had alarmed the neighbourhood, and knots of
Indians were gathering, armed with bows and arrows, which they seemed
desirous of using on the white men, for the two or three venomous lies
circulated all in a moment by the Mestizos had soon swelled to two or
three dozen; and to the Caribs, the opportune arrival of the two men
on horseback was part of a deep-laid plot against their liberties.

"Shall we ride in and disperse them?" suggested Catherwood.

"Better not; it'll only make matters worse," said one of the
Englishmen gloomily. "They'll let go with their bows if you do. I
think we look fools enough as it is, sneaking along like this; better
not make it any worse."

"No; we can't afford to have Guatemala declaring war against Great
Britain," laughed Walrond. "If they attempt to shoot we must let them
have it; but it mustn't be said that we fired first."

It was a queer procession; every man felt that he was cutting a
hang-dog figure; he was not afraid of an arrow, but he was mortally
afraid of looking ridiculous. All knew, too, that if serious trouble
arose, the commanding officer would forbid their crossing the frontier
any more, and there was no shooting to be had on their own side of it
that could compare with that here.

"All right, my chickens," muttered Walrond at last; "if you follow us
just fifty yards farther, we may be able to deal with you."

The fifty yards were covered; the white men were on their own ground
again, but still the Indians--proudly indifferent to frontiers other
than those recognised by their own tribe--followed at a distance of
about forty paces, debating their tactics in low tones, and by no
means unwilling to make a rush for the Englishmen and rob them of
their guns.

"Now let's tickle them a little," said Major Walrond; and he turned
sharply and sent a charge of small shot among the Indians. "Down,
quick; 'ware arrows."

The two horsemen jumped out of their stirrups and fell on the grass,
and the little shower of arrows passed harmlessly over the heads of
all. The other four officers fired in quick succession. This was too
much for the Caribs, many of whom were peppered right painfully; and,
with no further pretence at shooting, they turned and fled towards
their village, leaving the white men masters of the field.



CHAPTER XI

A PRINCE'S ADVENTURES IN BRAZIL


Prince Adalbert of Prussia, a nephew of Friedrich Wilhelm III, is less
remembered as a traveller than as a frequent visitor to this country,
and one who sought to build up a German navy that should, in time, be
an exact copy of our own. Yet, in his younger days, before he took
seriously to sailoring, he led a restless, wandering life, and, in the
course of about eighteen years, contrived to see almost every country
in the world.

In 1842, when he was a little over thirty, he landed at Parahiba, in
Northern Brazil, with a small suite of Prussian officers, determined
to make a cross-country journey to the Andes and back. Needless to
say, such a march promised no small amount of excitement and danger;
for European settlements were few and far between, and the greater
part of the inhabited regions were in the hands of Caribs and
Guaranis, who, even where they were not savage and bloodthirsty, were
usually so jealous of the intrusion of white men that they would offer
every hindrance to their progress through the country.

The initial difficulty was the not uncommon one of obtaining guides.
Guides by the score--Indian, half-blood, Spanish and Italian--were
ready enough to show the way to Caxias, two hundred and fifty miles
distant; but the Prince happened to have an excellent chart of the
country as far as even three hundred miles beyond that (to the other
side of the Para River). But beyond the river no one had been or
had any intention of going, for fear of the Indians, who were
popularly supposed to number cannibalism among their other little
eccentricities. Passably good horses, however, were not hard to come
by, and the little cavalcade crossed the first five or six hundred
miles of plain and forest without mishap, and without seeing any
other Indians than those who were mildly and agriculturally disposed.

But now they came to what looked like an untouched and absolutely
impenetrable forest, where neither man nor horses could move unless a
path was first cut; and to render this gloomy neighbourhood a little
more uninviting, there appeared to be no dearth of jaguars, wild cats,
and boa-constrictors. Several of the officers separated and, for a
whole day, rode in every direction, exploring every possible curve and
opening that might be the beginning of a road; losing themselves and
each other a score of times. But at sundown, when all met at a
prearranged spot, Count Oriolla--the last to arrive--triumphantly
announced that he had found a winding path that showed signs of rare
but comparatively recent use. He had traced this for a good ten miles,
and it still promised to remain open and to lead "somewhere."

To a band of men who were young, strong, well armed, and romantically
inclined, the prospect offered by this mysterious path was a
delightful one, and by daybreak everyone was waiting and anxious to
continue the journey. Count Oriolla led the way through various palm
clumps and then alongside a wall of forest where every tree seemed
to be linked inextricably to its neighbour by creepers and lianas;
and, after some five miles of this, to a little wedge-like opening
which continued in a sharp backward turn, and which no one but
himself had noticed on the preceding day. For just a few yards this
was so narrow that the horses could only move in single file, but it
very quickly widened to the breadth of an ordinary country lane.
Close examination by the scientist of the party showed that it was a
path chiefly of Nature's making; probably a dried-up watercourse which
had been used by men and cattle at sufficiently frequent intervals
to prevent the saplings, suckers, and undergrowth from becoming a
serious obstruction.

Travelling very much at their ease, the Prince and his companions
followed this road for about fifteen miles before stopping for the
midday meal and siesta. In consequence of the great heat they usually
all rested from twelve till four; but to-day Count Oriolla and Captain
Bromberg preferred to walk on for a mile or two as soon as they had
lunched, in order to see what possibilities the neighbourhood offered
in the way of game, fruit, and water. A few hundred yards from the
camp they came to a veritable cherry orchard on a small scale; a grove
of tall trees laden with small black fruit and having leaves and bark
precisely the same as those of the European cherry. The fruit was the
"jabuticabas," or Brazilian cherry; the two young men tasted some
"windfalls," and these were so promising that the Count urged his more
active companion to climb one of the trunks and shake down a good
supply.

For a sailor this was no difficulty; and Captain Bromberg was soon in
the fork of a tree, rocking the branches vigorously, while the Count
stowed the falling fruit in a small game-bag. Presently the Captain
happened to peer down from his perch, and then, to his bewilderment,
he saw that a third person had appeared on the scene. The Count was
still on his knees, diligently filling the bag; while, unperceived by
him, a tall Indian, armed with a spear, bow, and quiver, stood near
him as motionless as a statue.

Bromberg at once swung himself down and dropped beside his friend, so
suddenly that the Count sprang up in alarm, though the Indian betrayed
no shadow of surprise. The Count, turning his head and finding himself
face to face with a Carib, started back with a cry of astonishment and
fumbled in his pocket for the pistol which he usually carried there;
but the stranger's demeanour was so mild and amiable, that he at once
felt ashamed of himself.

"Why don't you speak to him in Spanish?" said Bromberg; "no doubt he
would understand."

The Count, himself half Spanish, spoke civilly to the Carib, who at
once answered in that tongue, at the same time turning his spear-point
to the ground in token of peace. He pointed to the end of the grove of
fruit trees.

"That is where I live, gentlemen"; and for the first time they
noticed a thin column of smoke rising from a hut or tent a couple of
hundred yards away.

"Is there an Indian village here then?" asked the Count.

"Nearly a mile farther on; I and my parents keep an inn outside it."

The outlook seemed promising, and the Count at once asked as to the
likelihood of their finding suitable guides.

"You want to go by way of Santaren? Yes; any of us will guide you as
far as there, or even to the Madeira River. But we should not choose
to go any farther, for we are ill friends with the Guaranis just now;
nor would you do well to venture far up the Amazon; between Indians,
reptiles, and _tigres_, your lives would never be safe."

The two officers laughed; and the Count, giving their new acquaintance
a drop of brandy from his flask in token of good will, easily
persuaded him to return with them to the spot where they had left
their companions.

The Prince at once asked to be conducted to the village. This
consisted of a very picturesque street of palm-thatched huts, whose
owners looked cleaner, more robust, and more thriving than any Indians
Prince Adalbert had seen. A deputation, consisting of two chiefs and a
native Catholic priest, came to bid the new-comers welcome, and begged
them to accept the hospitality of the village for as long as it might
suit them. They confirmed what the other Indian had said: the way was
safe enough and agreeable enough as far as the confluence of the
Amazon and Madeira, but no farther.

On learning that the white men would pass that night in the village,
everyone was resolved to make the stay an entertaining one. The
visitors were shown the parish church, school, stores, etc., and
eventually led to the older chief's house for an elaborate meal of
fish, turtle-eggs, mushrooms, venison, partridges, and stewed monkey,
with fruit jellies, cakes, and native beer. The hut was neatly
furnished with cane-seated benches or lounges; and--not always to the
guests' greater comfort--a puma, various snakes, a couple of monkeys,
and three parrots, all very tame, wandered about the place at will.

Soon after supper, while Prince Adalbert smoked with the chiefs and
the padre, he unconsciously committed a very serious breach of local
etiquette. Attracted by the great size and artistic workmanship of two
bows that stood against the wall close by him, he leant forward and
took up one to examine it more closely. Immediately a heart-rending
scream rose from the only woman present--the cacique's widowed
mother--who, springing forward, snatched the weapon from the
stranger's hand and replaced it with great care and reverence.

The courtier-instinct of the Prussian officers was naturally
scandalised, the cacique remained perfectly still, though he looked
very uncomfortable, and said something in dialect to his mother that
appeared to be a gentle reproach; while the Indian padre, whose
education had brought him more in touch with white men and their
notions of hospitality, hastened politely to explain and apologise.
The bows, he said, were the last weapons used by the woman's late
husband, and it was the custom of the tribe to regard such things as
extremely sacred; no one but the deceased's widow or eldest son might
so much as touch them or stand within a pace of them. The Prince was,
of course, too much a man of the world to feel any annoyance, and
quickly put his entertainers at their ease again by expressing keen
interest in the customs peculiar to the Caribs; and this led to the
cacique's inviting him to witness a dance which was being arranged in
his honour. He led the way to the public square or _plaza_, which was
now illuminated by a symmetrical arrangement of torches and a huge
bonfire. As soon as all were seated under a canopy, the cacique struck
a gong, and, from every corner of the square, the young men of the
tribe appeared, each armed with a blunted spear and a round wooden
shield; and, at a second beat of the gong, all these began an awkward,
waddling march round and round the fire. This had gone on for some
minutes when, with a roar that was a splendid imitation of a bull's
bellowing, a man sprang up from the ground and, with head down,
pretended to run at full charge through the procession. The march
stopped instantly, every man turned his spear on the disturber, and
then followed a really admirable pantomime of a bull-fight, which
ended in the vanquishing and pretended death of the "bull."

In the morning the Prussians sought to press various gifts on the
hospitable Indians; but they were only received under protest and on
condition of the visitors accepting others in return; moreover, the
cacique appointed five mounted men to act as guides as far as the
river; and these, he said, were on no account to accept any payment
beyond their daily rations.

A march of something like four hundred miles now lay before the
travellers, and this was accomplished, by easy stages, within about a
fortnight. When once the river was in sight the Indians did not, as
the Prince had expected, promptly desert; nevertheless, they reground
their knives and the points of their spears and arrows as though they
anticipated an attack at any moment. But no other Indians were sighted
for a while; the ford of the Madeira marked on the chart was found,
and the explorers crossed the river in comfort and bade good-bye to
the honest fellows who had guided them so far and so faithfully.

Now came a temporary break in the forest land; and for several miles
the road was a mere sand-strip, like a towpath, running between the
Amazon and some low, marshy ground. No one was sorry to escape from
this district to the higher and more wooded lands again, for not only
do such marshes breed all kinds of fever, but they are the chosen
lurking-places of crocodiles, water-serpents, and other abominations.

On the third afternoon of the new march, Count Oriolla noticed, as
they entered upon more forest land, that dark-skinned figures
continually flitted among the trees, as though someone were spying on
or keeping up with the horsemen. He reported this, and the Prince gave
orders for all to draw more together and to have their weapons ready
to hand. At every step, too, the track betrayed more and more signs of
recent use by horses and cattle; and, from the top of the next hill,
a haze like the smoke from dozens of houses was visible.

"What are those?" asked the Prince as he pointed to some dark objects
moving on the surface of the water a long way ahead.

"Canoes, _Hoheit_; and Indians in them," promptly answered the naval
captain, more accustomed than the rest to long-distance gazing.

"Well, well; let us ride on. They probably intend us no harm."

Just then a valet, who was riding a little to the rear, hurried
forward.

"Your Highness may perceive that we are being followed," he said; and
pointed behind him to a group of thirty Indians of some other tribe
than the Caribs, who were moving along on foot at a steady double; and
among the trees closer at hand several more could be seen.

"Better to ignore them for the present," said the Prince. "Evidently
the village is not far away; time enough to stop when we come to it."

"This looks like an ambuscade," muttered Oriolla to the man riding
next him. They had come almost to the end of the little patch of
forest, and, beyond the last belt of trees, the heads and forefeet of
several horses drawn up in line could be seen. The words were hardly
out of his mouth when, howling at the top of their voices, two dozen
men shot out from the cover indicated and rode at full speed towards
the new-comers.

"Pistols out; but let no one fire unless I give the word," shouted
the Prince. "Ha! Here come the others from behind."

The second lot of Indians had increased their pace, and the Prussians
saw themselves about to be hemmed between two little forces of yelling
savages. Within a few yards, both parties of redskins halted and
either brandished their axes or fitted arrows to their bows.

"What do you want?" shouted the Prince in Spanish.

"You are our prisoners; you must come with us to our camp," said a
young Indian, advancing his horse a foot or two. "Give up your arms."

The Prince looked round at his followers. They only numbered thirteen,
all told, five of whom had never been under fire in their lives. Then
he said resolutely:

"Certainly we will come with you; but we shall not give up our arms;
and if any violence is attempted, I warn you that we shall fire on
you."

None of the Indians carried guns, and for that reason the Prince had
more faith in the efficacy of his threat.

"Very well," said the leader of the mounted Indians. "Follow us."

It was but a short distance to the village or camp or _tolderia_; and,
at the entrance to it, the Guaranis (for to that tribe they belonged)
dismounted, and each of the white men found his bridle seized by an
Indian.

"Who is your chief? Where is your cacique?" demanded Prince Adalbert
impatiently.

His captors pointed to a young man who, accompanied by another much
older, had just appeared from the largest of the huts and was coming
towards them. The young chief proved to be a very mild-mannered
person. He said half apologetically that the tribe was poor, and that
strangers were expected to make some offering on coming among them.

"We were prepared to make presents," said the Prince good-humouredly,
"but we object to being asked for them."

The older man--evidently the Ahithophel of the tribe--whispered
something, whereupon the chief said more spiritedly:

"You have been taken prisoners in our forest. You must ransom
yourselves"--Ahithophel whispered again--"by giving up your arms and
your baggage."

Those of the Prussians who understood the cacique's Spanish cocked
their pistols.

"Patience; we must reason with them," said the Prince in his own
language.

He was trying to think of the most potent argument to employ, when a
sudden outcry arose on all hands, and more than half the Indians,
including the chief and his evil genius, turned towards the river as
though in haste to meet someone. The canoes which the travellers had
seen from a distance were drawing up to the wooden landing-stage.

"What's this? What are they all doing?" asked the Prince; as well he
might, for his assailants, so clamorous and threatening only a moment
before, were falling on their knees one after the other, crossing
themselves and shouting jubilantly:

"The padre! The holy padre!"

A pleasant-faced, athletic-looking man, wearing a large _sombrero_ and
a priest's cassock, was standing on the little quay, holding up his
hand to bless the kneeling crowd, and at the same time throwing a
quick glance of curiosity towards the prisoners.

"At least he's a white man," said the Prince, much relieved, as he
signed to Count Oriolla to dismount and go to speak to the new-comer.
In a couple of minutes he saw both men hurrying towards him. The
priest raised his hat and, in excellent German, introduced himself as
a Scots Jesuit whose duty it was to make periodical visits to the
camps that had no church, to administer the sacraments to the devout.

"You must look leniently on them," he said when the position was
explained. "They are just grownup children. I will see that a proper
apology is made. I suspect I can put my hand on the black sheep." He
pointed at Ahithophel, and, speaking in Spanish, ordered him and the
cacique to come forward. Before he had spoken for a couple of minutes,
it was clear enough to the strangers that the good missionary knew the
class of men with whom he had to deal. Led by the cacique, the Indians
were soon sobbing and groaning in chorus; and even the grey-headed
counsellor bewailed his indiscretion when, passing from the moral to
the politic side of the question, the Scotsman hinted at the
possibilities of a German invasion to avenge this insult to royalty;
and ended by forbidding anyone in the village, as a penance, to
receive any present whatever from the travellers.

The power that just one white man of quick brain and strong will
had over all these savages seemed incredible. The Prussians remained
in the village three days, and during that time the Indians strained
every effort to please and entertain them; not an article of
their property was interfered with, and when, on leaving, the
Prince--forgetting the padre's prohibition--offered trifling
presents of knives, jewellery, and silk handkerchiefs, everyone
edged away as though these things were poison.

"They have been _good_ children, Father," pleaded the Prince, and so
earnestly that the Jesuit was obliged to give way; whereupon the
Guaranis accepted the gifts with tears of gratitude, and readily
offered a supply of guides who would ensure the travellers against
molestation by others of their tribe between there and the Andes.

On the last day of their stay it was reported that a tapir had been
seen in the forest a mile or two back; and the Scots cleric, himself a
keen sportsman, undertook to show the Prussians a native hunt at its
best. In this, however, he did not quite succeed, for some of the
younger members of the tribe stole a march on the rest, and the
visitors only saw the "finish." The lads had started earlier in the
morning, had discovered the tapir and driven him through the forest
towards the river; and, as the white men reached the most practicable
path, the ungainly beast charged out of it and made straight towards
the water. But the cacique was too quick for him. Spurring his horse
with the sharp angles of his stirrups, he dashed from the rear of the
Prussians and flung his lasso over the animal's head.

But this was not all. The tapir cared no more for this than a whale
does for a single harpoon and line, and rushed straight on for the
river, apparently dragging the hunter with him. All in a moment,
however, there came a clatter of hoofs, a cloud of dead leaves,
chips, and dust, and four of the beaters dashed out from the forest
path with their lassoes poised, and each bawling like a man possessed.
Two lassoes whistled past the Prince's head and seemed to fall at
exactly the same moment on that of the tapir; these were followed by a
third, which, as the beast had made a half stop, just missed him; then
by a fourth, which fell unerringly.

Even then the power of this strange animal was amazing, and for a
minute it seemed as though he must draw his captors into the river;
but, at a shout from the cacique, the three hunters followed his
example, swung their horses round, and spurred them so terrifically
that they towed the quarry back, foot by foot, till he fell over on
his side with all the breath strangled out of him. Then the cacique,
as the first to get his lasso "home," handed the thong to another
hunter, dismounted, and gave the tapir his quietus with his spear.



CHAPTER XII

INDIAN WARFARE IN CALIFORNIA


One of America's great naval commanders--Captain Henry Augustus
Wise--made use of the opportunity afforded him by the Mexican War of
1846-7 to collect material for a very engrossing account of some
Indians concerning whom little was then known: the coast Comanches of
Lower California and Mexico. The Captain--a cousin of Governor Wise of
Virginia, and an intimate friend of Rear-Admiral Wilkes--was at that
time second lieutenant of the man-of-war _Independence_, a steamship
which was cruising between San Francisco and the Gulf of California.

His first acquaintance with the Western redskins was when he was sent
ashore at Monterey, a hundred and twenty miles south of San Francisco,
to reconnoitre the country and offer protection--or, if need be, a
means of escape--to any United States subjects settled in the
district. Let it be remembered that the California of that day was
vastly different even from the California of two years later. Its
hidden gold was only known to the Comanches and other Shoshonee
tribes, and a few Mexican Spaniards; Monterey was still the capital,
while "Frisco" was but a little market-town; above all, the Yankees
had as yet scarce more than a foothold in the state, the greater part
of it being (till the end of that war) under Mexican sway; and the
coast Indians had not yet had their own virtues knocked out of them
and replaced by the vices of the white diggers of '49.

Lieutenant Wise and his boat's crew, on leaving the town, began to
make their way down-country between the coast and the Buonaventura
River, relying for hospitality mainly on the American settlers, many
of whom did a thriving and regular trade in skins. They found the
district tolerably quiet, though there were reports of various fierce
battles between the Comanches and their old enemies the Apaches, many
of the latter being, it was said, in the pay of the Mexicans. It was
at a trappers' camp that Wise heard this piece of news, a queer little
circle of log-huts erected on a wide clearing in one of the river
forests which they came upon by accident late one afternoon. The
trappers--all of them American or American-Irish--gave a very cordial
welcome to the little party, though they would not at first admit the
necessity for their offer of protection.

"See here," said one of them. "The Mexicans are shifting down south
right hard, and all you're likely to see, you've seen in Monterey.
Your ship, or else some other, has bombarded Santa Barbara already;
and, like as not, is clearing San Diego out by now. As for the
redskins, take an old stager's advice and let 'em fight it out
theirselves. There's one lot we'd like very well to get hold of, but
the rest we don't vally a cuss."

"Who are they?" asked Wise, sitting down to the meal of grilled
deer's meat that was set before him.

"More'n we can tell ye. Some o' that coyotero lot that have learned to
use a rifle; for gun-stealing and horse and rifle-lifting they've got
no living ekals. Last week they killed two of our fellows at a camp up
the river; scalped 'em; broke open the magazine, and got away with all
the powder and lead, as well as half a dozen spare guns. 'Twas no good
the rest going to look for 'em when they came home; p'raps they were
half a hundred miles away by then."

"I've had orders to seize all firearms found on Indians," said the
lieutenant.

"And don't forget it," said one of his hosts. "Take my word, them
guns, and a good many hundreds beside, have gone down-country to the
Mexicans; and the Injuns are allowed to keep all the horses and eat
all the mules for their reward."

"Eat the mules?"

"What else? What _won't_ Apaches eat, for that matter? How do you
reckon they come to be called _coyoteros_? Half of 'em 'd live on
coyotes" (prairie wolves) "and never touch anything more Christian, if
they had their way. Well; I s'pose we'll get a visit from 'em next; so
far we've lost nothing but horses."

"Are all of you in camp now?" asked Wise. At present he had only seen
fourteen men.

"No; there's six gone across the river to trade for horses; for,
barring what they're riding, we've only got one left, and he's sick.
If the redskins come ever so, we can't run after 'em."

"I can stay till the day after to-morrow, if you think they're likely
to come within that time. I daren't stay longer, for we're to join the
ship at San Diego on the twenty-sixth."

"Wal; there's eleven of you, and that's a big help; we shan't say no,"
said the head trapper. "They might come to-night; might not come for
another six months. You needn't fear for your men's rations; they
won't starve."

When bed-time came, Wise posted five sentries, who were to be relieved
after four hours' duty, and went to the hut set aside for him with his
mind at ease. He was in his first sleep, when he became drowsily
conscious that the report of a rifle was fitting itself into his
dreams. Too tired after his long march to be much affected by it, he
was sleeping peacefully on, when the familiar, hoarse voice of the
boatswain roused him effectually.

"Guard, turn out!--All hands on deck; come on, there."

Sailor-like, he was on his feet and into his boots in a couple of
seconds, and was running out, sword in hand, before the cry could be
repeated.

"Hy-yah; hy-yah!" someone was shouting; and the boatswain was
answering grimly:

"Yes; _we'll_ 'hy-yah' ye. Git off'n them horses will ye?"

By the firelight Wise could make out three mounted Indians, a fourth
on foot, and, near him, a dead horse that had, no doubt, fallen before
the sentry's rifle. Around them stood his ten sailors, every man with
his rifle covering one or other of the redskins; while the trappers,
less accustomed to abrupt night-calls, appeared more slowly, rubbing
their eyes and cocking their guns.

"Hy-yah! Hy-yah, Mason!" Again the high-pitched nasal voice.

The head trapper, who came stumbling out of his hut, shouted a few
words in the Shoshonee dialect, and, immediately after:

"Don't fire, there; don't let 'em fire, Mr. Wise; they've copped the
wrong men. These are friends; Comanches," and a great laugh from the
trappers echoed over the camp.

"I challenged 'em first," said the sentry who had fired. "How was _I_
to know who they was?"

Mason, the chief trapper, spoke for a moment or two with the redskin
who had hailed him; then signed to him and his companions to take
their seats by the fire.

"Stop here, Lootenant, will you? They want to have a bit of a palaver
with us."

As they dismounted, Wise could see that the Comanches were tall,
well-made men, very different from the Creeks and Choctaws of the
Atlantic coast. All had moccasins, and three of them wore sleeveless
jackets of leather; while the fourth was habited in a magnificent
"buffalo" robe. Each had either the tail of a polecat or a bunch of
leather snippings in lieu of it, tied to either heel; the front half
of their moccasins was painted blue, the other half red. But what
struck the officer most forcibly was the remarkable thickness and
length of the Indians' hair, which descended almost to their heels.
Alas for human vanity; three parts of those tresses were false; their
own hair and somebody else's, together with a liberal supply of
horses' tails, were all matted together with fat, and secured at the
top by their feather head-dresses.

Mason approached the subject in curt, business-like fashion, rapidly
translating to the rest all that the Indians said, and cutting very
short the embroideries, formalities, and courtesy-titles contained in
their address. It appeared that Comanche scouts had reported a march
of the Apaches towards their own camp; they were several hundred
strong, and were coming across country from the Rio del Norte
direction.

"Last time we drove them away with great slaughter," continued the
Comanche chief; "but they are more now, and many of them have guns;
they are more confident too, for our scouts learn that they have
inflicted a great defeat on white men."

"Ask him whereabouts," said Wise hurriedly.

"In Sonora, it is understood."

"Surely he doesn't expect us to join him?" muttered Wise.

"No; no sich thing. He's only come to say he's moving his camp from
the Buonaventura, so that we mustn't rely on help from his tribe as
heretofore, until they've met and whipped the Apaches. His tribe have
always been the best o' friends with us. Say, it'll _be_ a battle; not
a make-believe; but bear in mind what I said; keep out'n it."

"If these Apaches are coming from the del Norte, they'll probably not
be the same as the ones we expect."

"Never no tellings; they're here to-day, and goodness knows where
to-morrow."

"Then I'll stay as long as I said," answered the lieutenant; and he
went back to finish his night's rest.

When he turned out in the morning the Comanches had long gone and the
trappers were discussing plans, some advocating going about their work
as usual, since the seamen were there to guard the camp; the rest
insisting that both parties ought to lie hidden within the camp and
give it the appearance of being entirely deserted. As the Apaches,
being mounted, would have such an enormous advantage, whether in the
open field or in eluding pursuit, Wise and Mason decided upon the
latter course, and positions were being assigned to the men, when, all
in a moment, a dozen rifles blazed out from beyond the edge of the
clearing; bullets rattled against the huts, and two of the trappers
fell back wounded.

A roar of vengeance rose from all except the sailors, who, catching
their officer's eye, at once sent an answering volley among the
trees.

"They're on foot," screamed one trapper as he snatched up his gun and
ran like a madman across the clearing. "Come on, boys; there they
go."

"Fall in," said Wise shortly; then turned to Mason. "This is a bad
business for you chaps--but we must go to work in a proper fashion.
You can spot their trail better than we; go on, we'll follow you."

With the exception of the delirious person who had already gone in
pursuit, the trappers collected in an orderly manner, each man swiftly
examining his stock of ammunition and snatching up whatever food lay
to hand; and all were ready to start at a sign from Mason.

The noisy man was soon caught up with, bidden to hold his tongue and
go back to attend to his two wounded comrades, and the chase began in
good earnest. Every trapper had his special business to attend to, for
the trail of each Indian had to be discovered, and, from the fact that
all the twelve men were soon following a separate course, Wise
gathered that the redskins had more or less dispersed in their flight.
He merely occupied himself with keeping his men together, and as
nearly as possible in touch with all of the trappers. For half an hour
they proceeded at an easy trot, and so came to a long, narrow pool.
Mason gave a single whistle and stopped, and everyone closed in on
him.

"Strangers," he murmured. His mates knew what he meant. The redskins
had halted here in doubt about the depth; the stillness of the water
showed that it had not been disturbed recently, and the trail proved
that they had turned both left and right. "Three of you cross; if you
don't signal in two minutes we shall divide and follow both trails."

The men knew well enough that just here the pool was but five feet
deep at the very most, and three of them ran through it. Mason took
out his watch, and, just after the final second had expired, a whistle
was heard ahead. The main trail had been found. With their guns held
high above their heads, the Yankees slid down the bank and crossed the
water, and the double began again.

"Without they've got horses waiting for 'em, this looks like a
'find,'" said Mason over his shoulder. "We shall come slap on to the
prairie this way; and that's as level as a billiard-table for nigh on
ten miles; and we've gained a rare big pull in crossing the pond."

It was as he had said; in about another half-hour the forest came to
an abrupt end.

"There they go," shouted one excitable man; and this time a cheer rose
from the sailors. The Indians, twelve of them, were scarcely a mile
away, walking and running by turns, and to all appearances beginning
to knock up, though they made a fresh spurt at sight of their
pursuers.

The lieutenant now felt himself in a difficult position. These
trappers had seen two of their friends shot down--perhaps killed--only
an hour or so ago; and, though the average man of Anglo-Saxon blood
(save him of cheap and nasty melodrama) is far too manly a fellow to
be able to nourish revenge for an indefinite period, he may be a
dangerous customer while the memory of a grievance is still fresh.
Wise badly wanted the fugitives' muskets; he wanted to arrest the
owners of them; if need were, to hang them, in requital of their
murderous attack; but he did not want to see them riddled with bullets
and hacked with bowie-knives by men wild with passion.

"I think you'd better leave this to us now," he whispered to Mason,
who was a man open to reason. The old trapper shook his head,
however.

"I wish I could," he said, "but it's no use trying. They've got a good
many old scores against the varmints, and this one coming atop--Wal!"

"Then it's going to be a race," said the lieutenant, with decision;
and he bade his men quicken their double, in the faint hope of their
being able to outrun the trappers. But, as things turned out, the
difficulty was removed from his hands. For some few minutes he had
noticed a thick mass of moving figures across the plain some distance
farther to the left than the point for which the Indians were making.
At first he had taken them for cattle; but, on closer inspection, he
saw that they were mounted men. He pointed them out to Mason, who was
now twenty yards behind.

"Yes; I see 'em," he shouted. "It's a battle; Comanches and Apaches, I
count."

In the sailors' excitement they almost forgot the objects of their
pursuit, though these were again showing unmistakable signs of
breaking down.

"Now, lads; one good spurt and we'll be within range," said Wise.
"Never mind about what's going on over there."

But it was not in human nature not to watch what could be seen of the
combat; Wise himself could not resist the temptation; one side was
already taking flight, shooting at their pursuers as they went; and
the two forces formed, with Wise's men, two converging lines which
would very soon meet.

"The Apaches have had enough; they're making for the mountains, and
this here other lot of reptiles'll get away on the first horses they
can come near," shouted Mason from behind.

In a few minutes the first of the Indian forces was only half a mile
away from the sailors' line of march. No doubt they had come to the
hopeless stage in Indian warfare; the stage at which all arrows or
bullets have been shot away and it is a question either of close
fighting--for which they have neither strength nor stomach--or of
flight. But, strangely enough, the Indians on foot made no attempt to
join their brethren; instead, they wheeled more than ever to the
right.

For the next few minutes, things were little more than a confused blur
to Wise; the dust was flying; he scarcely knew one party from the
other; he was bewildered by the yelling of both, and by the lightning
speed at which pursued and pursuers moved; in fact, he knew nothing
definitely till a shout of triumph arose from the trappers behind.

"_Got 'em!_"

The Comanches, abandoning the hope of overtaking their enemy, had
wheeled suddenly, and closed round the twelve scattering Apaches who
were on foot.

"Guess it's out of our hands now, anyway," said Wise to the boatswain.
Just then two of the Comanches turned their horses and cantered up to
the sailors; at the same time the trappers joined them from behind,
impelled by curiosity; and Wise heard old Mason talking with one of
the men who had entered the camp the night before.

"He says, does the young white chief--that's _you_, gov'nor--want them
Mexicans? If not, they calculate _they_ can find a use for 'em."

"_Mexicans?_" said Wise.

"Ay; what do ye think of 'em? Mexican spies and gun-runners, dressed
and painted up as Apaches, as I'm a sinner. If we'd had a redskin with
us he'd ha' seen through 'em in a jiff."

The pseudo-Apaches were soon bound and, despite the protest of the
trappers, taken in charge by Wise, who handed them over to the first
military picket he met. They were one of the many parties sent out by
the Mexicans to steal guns, ammunition, horses, and information, and
had visited the trappers' camp that morning in the hope of making a
haul of weapons. Finding it garrisoned they had run away again,
venting their disappointment in a hasty volley at the men who wore the
Government uniform, secure, as they flattered themselves, from pursuit
through the trappers' having no horses. Lieutenant Wise had many more
exciting adventures before that war was ended, but these did not again
bring him in touch with the warfare of redskins, whether genuine or
sham.



CHAPTER XIII

WITH THE AYMARAS AND MOXOS


There is no part of the American continent, save perhaps Guatemala
(and, of course, the Arctic Regions), where the Indian race has
survived in such power and--relatively--such numbers as in Bolivia. At
the last census, the entire population of the republic was two
millions, and of that number the whites, blacks, and half-bloods
together amounted to less than three hundred thousand. The coast
Indians belong mainly to the Colla (more commonly called Aymara) tribe
of the Quechuan family, and, unlike the average redskin, are square
and squat in build; long in the arms and body and short in the legs;
many of them have passed their lives entirely on the mountains and
have never seen a lowland river or town.

In Bolivia there is no British Consulate, for Britishers there are
almost as rare as Samoyeds; but as a rule there is some semi-official
chargé d'affaires in residence. From 1848 to 1855 this office was
filled by a young Englishman of Italian extraction--Hugh de Bonelli;
and much of that time he passed exclusively among Indians; hunting,
sight-seeing, mountaineering, and collecting natural history
specimens.

In mixing among the Aymaras, one of the first things he discovered
was that, though himself an exceptionally good walker, he was a baby
at such exercise when pitted against them. While staying at a native
village on Lake Titicaca, he expressed a wish to visit a spot rather
less attractive than the Sahara--the Atacama Desert, to wit, which
lies between the coast and the Andes. Plenty of men were willing to
guide him, though they cautioned him that they could not be spared for
more than a day or two, because a general meeting of the tribe was
about to take place. Now as the lake lies more than twelve thousand
feet above the sea-level, and when this prodigious descent had been
made, there would be several miles to traverse on foot, he wisely
abandoned the project. Nevertheless, being curious to test the truth
of the reports he had heard as to their long walks, he accompanied a
party of Aymaras who were bound for the far end of the lake with loads
of silver.

They started at sunrise, and the mountain air being deliciously cool,
he was not at first incommoded by the pace at which they went. But
that pace was five miles an hour!

He kept up easily the first two hours, and, with considerably more
difficulty, the second two; five miles in one hour, and twenty in four
hours, are however, not quite the same thing; and when he had walked
the twenty-second mile, he was ready to drop from fatigue and hunger.
Yet they showed no signs of being about to stop; and conversation was
not easy, for only one of the number understood Spanish, and that very
scantily; the language of the Aymaras being almost pure Quechuan, i.e.
the tongue of the ancient Incas, who founded their wonderful empire
when we English were vainly endeavouring to ward off invasion by the
Normans. He explained that he was both tired and hungry, and, at last
growing desperate, inquired where he could get a mule. Happily that
article was obtainable at a village which they were now approaching,
and, his curiosity thoroughly aroused as to how far they intended
going, he ambled on after them (for they had not deigned to stop while
he concluded his bargain), caught them, and kept up with them, though
he was now almost too stiff to sit his mule and too tired to enjoy the
food which he had brought with him.

The thirty-fifth mile was reached before those energetic Indians
stopped, and de Bonelli wished he had with him some of the people who
make the sweeping statement that "all Indians are lazy." He expected
to see them bivouac for at least a couple of hours; instead of this,
not one man sat down; all stood or lounged, as though they knew by
instinct that the walker who allows his muscles to relax completely is
doubling the strain of the after walk; and the standing only lasted
long enough to enable them to eat their meal--twenty minutes at the
outside. Then on again. _Seventy miles_ did these indolent wretches
walk between sunrise and sunset, only stopping for that one brief
meal. It sounds incredible, but even greater distances are stated, on
the best authority, to have been covered by members of this wonderful
tribe.

                  *       *       *       *       *

De Bonelli found a contrast when, after some weeks' condor and
wild-cat shooting in the mountains, he descended to the lowlands and
moved for a while among the Moxos of the Beni River. A member of this
tribe had come up to Titicaca, as ambassador from his cacique, to
treat for the barter of copper and turtle-oil for mountain silver; and
the inquiring traveller was glad to engage him as a guide to the Lower
Beni, which he was anxious to trace as far as its junction with the
Mamore, the chief feeder of the Madeira River.

De Bonelli was bound to admit that the Moxo was to be preferred as a
companion; he was chatty, light-hearted, and witty, whereas the
Aymaras had a sort of Puritan austerity and were devoid of sense of
humour; he spoke Spanish and they did not; and further, he considered
twenty miles--with a four hours' siesta between the two tens--an ample
day's walk. Better still, on the fourth day he produced a canoe from a
cunning hiding-place among the undergrowth by the river, and
thenceforward the journey became a luxurious holiday; for the woods on
either bank were, to all intents and purposes, orchards, the fish was
delicious and easily caught, and the Moxo guide kept the boat well
supplied with venison and peccary-pork.

The Indian's destination was a large village about fifty miles from
the Brazilian frontier, and, as the canoe drew near to it, de Bonelli
observed that they were continually overtaking or being overtaken by
other canoes; not tiny boats, manned singly or by twos, such as he had
seen higher up the river, but large family concerns; houseboats,
literally; for everyone carried a family and all the cooking
utensils, tools, weapons, toys, etc., that it might require.

"It is the great egg-gathering," said the Moxo enthusiastically.

"Do you mean that the whole tribe is turning out to go bird's-nesting?"
asked the white man with good-humoured contempt.

"Our birds are water-birds, with houses on their backs," laughed the
Indian. "Turtles!"

"Even then I shouldn't have thought several hundred people were
required to take the eggs."

"You shall judge presently, Señor. The cacique was sending out the
order for the people to collect when I left. No one may touch the eggs
till he grants permission."

They found the Indian village overflowing with detachments of new
arrivals. De Bonelli was introduced to the cacique, who was so
overjoyed by the present of a silver-mounted pistol that he was ready
to place the whole town and its resources at his visitor's feet.

"Pray stay among us as long as you will," he said. "Our egg-taking
begins to-morrow and will last for about a week; but, after that, I
and my tribe will be at your service, and I can promise you better
hunting than you have seen with the gloomy Aymaras."

The noise in and around the village aroused the traveller at an early
hour in the morning, and he strolled out from his tent to survey the
neighbourhood. Since the previous night the village had swelled to
four times its size; for on every side pyramidal tents had been
erected by the simple process of sticking three poles in the ground,
sloping so that the tops met, and covering the spaces between the
poles with mats made of grass or palm-leaves. The cacique was already
at breakfast, which he begged his guest to share; and, when it was
finished, he said:

"You will do me the favour to ride in my canoe. Then you will be able
to see all my people at once."

They proceeded to the water-edge and found all the tribe--nearly two
hundred men with their wives and children--seated in canoes and
impatiently awaiting their chief's arrival as the signal to start. The
moment he and his guest were embarked, a great shout went up and
paddling began with a will, the canoes moving at such a rate that the
journey to the "turtle-ground," five miles away, seemed to occupy no
time. Arrived here the chief's paddlers drew in and he and de Bonelli
landed, the tribe following in due order of importance.

As an amateur naturalist the chargé d'affaires knew something of the
habits of the turtle, but he was not prepared for many things which he
saw that day. Turtles seldom lay their eggs immediately by the water;
as often as not they choose a place half a mile or more away from it.
In this case the row of "nests" took the form of a long sand-bank
which lay between two fringes of trees, and this, the traveller
learned, had been stealthily and jealously watched by spies from the
village for some weeks past, so that there could be no mistaking the
spot. Behind the cacique walked a man with a drum, and, as soon as the
bank was reached, a short "call" was beaten and all the men, every one
carrying a paddle, collected round him. The chief made a short speech,
enjoining patience, industry, and good temper, and then began to
portion off the bank among the men, each family thus being entitled to
whatever they might find in their patch.

The reader is probably aware that the turtle, like many other
reptiles, deposits her eggs in the ground, and carefully covers them
with sand or soft earth. Through this covering the fierce sun of the
tropics can easily penetrate, and in a short time--if left alone--the
young are hatched. And what a family! One to two hundred eggs, and
sometimes more, are laid by this prolific creature.[2] When every man
had taken up his station at his "claim," his wife and children went
and stood at the other side of the bank opposite him, and everyone
waited breathlessly for the signal to begin; for etiquette forbade the
stirring of a single egg till the cacique had formally opened the
patch which belonged to him. He made a sign to the drummer, who handed
him a paddle, with which he turned over a spadeful of earth.
Immediately there followed a long roll of the drum, and every man
struck his paddle into the ground and began to dig.

  [2] For a further account of the turtle, see the "Romance of the
      World's Fisheries," by S. Wright. (Seeley and Co.)

De Bonelli could scarcely believe his eyes; the place seemed alive
with turtle-eggs; yellowish, globular objects considerably larger than
a golf-ball, with a soft but very tough shell. As fast as a "nest" was
turned out by the digger, his wife and children collected the eggs,
throwing them into bags, baskets, or copper pots; and, by evening, the
canoes were so full that it was a wonder how the families stowed
themselves away.

The return journey was like the home-coming of a party of hop-pickers,
for jubilation and noise, the only difference being that these
benighted Moxos were perfectly sober, and that their singing consisted
mainly of hymns in a mixture of Spanish, native dialect, and truly
barbarous Latin, instead of music-hall songs. On reaching the village
each family carried its share of eggs to its tent and piled them up
outside, and a feast of some of these delicacies followed, recalling
the "herring-breakfasts" in which the more old-fashioned of our
fishermen indulge at the opening of the season.

The next day the digging was continued, though no opening ceremony was
observed, each man beginning when he thought fit; and this went on for
five days, most of which time de Bonelli spent in teaching the cacique
the use of firearms--a task which he would probably better have left
undone--and in shooting jaguars and alligators. The sixth day was
passed in the village, for the eggs were now all gathered and all the
tribe were busy converting their eggs into oil.

Large copper tanks were filled with the eggs; those Indians who had
come from a distance and could not borrow tanks, borrowed small canoes
for the purpose, which seemed to do equally well; and the owners set
to work to break the eggs, which they did by beating them with sticks,
stones, paddles, or anything that came handy. In some cases the
younger men and boys jumped into the tank and danced on them, as
though they were treading a wine-press; and by and by the various
receptacles were half full of a dirty yellow mash. The women now came
toiling up from the river-bank with pots of water, which they poured
into the tanks till the mixture rose nearly to the top.

By this time the dinner and siesta-hour had come round, and the tanks
were left to take care of themselves; good care, too, thought de
Bonelli, as he walked round, an hour or two later, with the chief.
While the workers slept, the sun had done their work for them; had
warmed the tanks, freed the oleaginous particles contained in the
eggs, and now the top of every tank was several inches deep in oil,
which the Indians were preparing to skim off and bale into their
cooking-pots; the skimming being done by means of large shells. By
evening the whole village was dotted with small fires over which hung
pots of oil; and the oil, thus clarified, was ultimately poured into
earthenware pots, corked up, and ready to be exported to the towns for
use in lamps, or carried up the river and across country to the hills,
where the Aymaras were willing to pay high prices in silver for a
product which could be used for fuel, light, or even food.



CHAPTER XIV

A SPORTING TRIP ACROSS THE PRAIRIES


There is nothing extraordinary to the English reader in a man's making
a sixteen-hundred-mile journey across lonesome prairies and
mountain-ranges, where railways are almost unknown and fierce tribes
of savages abound, merely for the sake of shooting big game; for if we
do not take our pleasures sadly, we at least are proud to devote to
our sports as much energy and self-discipline as another nation would
bestow on its politics or monetary interests.

After a good deal of rambling through the eastern States, Mr. Henry
Coke, brother of the second Earl of Leicester, found himself wandering
one morning, in the year 1850, about the streets of St. Louis, already
sickened of town life and eager for something more wholesome and
natural. Generally it is only in story-books that a happy coincidence
suddenly arises to help a man out of a difficulty; but real life also
has its chance meetings and its odd bits of luck, and so Mr. Coke
thought when, on turning a corner, he found his arm seized by an old
Cambridge chum of whom he had heard nothing for three years.

"Why, man, what are you doing here?" he demanded.

"Packing up. I'm off for the Columbia River to-morrow, salmon-fishing.
You'd better come and make a sixth; I'm travelling with four Canadian
chaps; everything's arranged: horses, waggons, mules, stores, and even
a redskin guide."

There was no resisting such a temptation, especially as Coke had never
been farther west than Kansas City, had only caught salmon in Norway
and Scotland, had never seen a bison or a grisly except in a show, and
had never met with any Indians who were not perfectly respectable and
law-abiding. Therefore he never dreamt of hesitating, but hastened
away to make a few necessary purchases, and, the next morning,
presented himself at his friends' inn, where he found nine mules,
eight riding-horses, and two waggons drawn up, and his friend's valet
vainly endeavouring to get into conversation with a particularly
morose-looking Indian who sat on the front-board of one of the
waggons.

The early days of the journey were occupied by the sportsmen, as such
days generally are, in getting to know one another and in settling
down to a novel mode of life. The young Canadians were the sons of a
wealthy stock-breeder and were taking a year's furlough in order to
see the States; and no more valuable companions could have been found;
for, if they were ignorant of the route, there was not much left for
them to learn where prairie and forest life and the ways of Indians
and wild beasts were concerned. For the first week or so the party
managed each night to put up at some wayside inn or farm; but they no
sooner came on to the wilds of Kansas than the mere aspect of the
country was sufficient to tell them that they had probably bidden
good-bye to eastern civilisation. The way that now lay before them, if
seen from a balloon, would have looked like a gigantic staircase whose
treads sloped slightly upwards and whose uprights were low,
ragged-faced bluffs that seemed to hint at the advisability of
abandoning the waggons as henceforth useless, and teaching the horses
and mules to take flying ten-foot jumps. The guide, however, seemed
fairly confident in his ability to find suitable inclines, and at
least for some fifty miles they were able to follow a very rough track
that was a guide in itself.

But the Indian--one of the Crow tribe--grew more sullen and silent and
discontented as each new platform of ground was reached; so much so,
that George Dumont, the eldest of the Canadians, who was perfectly
familiar with the Siouan tongue, began to question him closely as to
the cause of his grumbling demeanour.

"It is no use trying to go any farther," said the Crow moodily. "The
next bluff is quite impassable."

"Then why didn't you say so before we left St. Louis?"

The Indian shelved the question. "And even if it were not, the country
here is full of Comanches and Pawnees and Shoshonees. Did I not warn
you of _that_?"

"Oh, if that's all," said the Canadian, laughing, "don't frighten
yourself. They won't hurt us."

The Indian shrugged his shoulders and said no more; but presently he
stood up on the footboard and, attracting Dumont's attention, pointed
triumphantly to a bluff about a furlong ahead, which had been hitherto
concealed by a ridge of rising ground dotted with pine-trees. Coke,
who had been riding some way in advance with his friend, now hurried
back to Dumont's side.

"What do you make of this?" he said, pointing to the bluff. "Fred's
ridden off to the right to try and find a slope, and I'm just off the
opposite way."

Dumont rode with him as far as the obstruction and examined it more
carefully; it was a sheer precipice, twelve feet high.

"Right you are," he said. "Try and find a slope, and I'll wait here
for the other fellows."

Two hours later the men met again; the two scouts had ridden ten miles
along the cliff-foot either way, only to find that there was no spot
where the waggons could possibly be raised. Meanwhile, two of the
Dumonts had scooped footholds for themselves and climbed to the higher
level, which they pronounced to be a beautiful grass plain, studded
with little conical hills; and by the aid of a telescope they had seen
large herds of bison going on ahead towards the Platte River.

"Then we must go on," said Coke, "even if we have to haul the waggons
after us, or cut a roadway."

The others were of the same mind, but the sun had just set, and
whatever their plans might be, they would have to stand over till
to-morrow. The fire was lit and all were sitting down to supper when
someone asked:

"Where's the redskin?"

The redskin had gone, bag and baggage (someone else's baggage).

"Why, he's collared your new gun, Coke," shouted Fred, who had jumped
up into the waggon in which the Indian had ridden and was making a
hurried search, "And--whew! my little valise as well."

The gun was a large-bore rifle of a new pattern, which Coke had only
obtained with difficulty at the last moment; but even this theft,
annoying as it was, was of minor importance compared with the
disappearance of the valise, which contained all such maps and charts
as its owner had been able to procure, some money, and his letters of
introduction to people in Washington and across the boundary.

"Mounted or on foot?" asked Paul Dumont, the youngest of the
brothers.

"Horses and mules all here, sir," reported the manservant after a
brisk look round.

"Then come on, Coke; up with you," said young Paul. "We'll have him,"
and taking the two best of the horses, they were soon galloping along
the path by which they had come. In a few minutes they were past the
ridge with its little belt of trees, beyond which all was plain
sailing--or would have been if only the light could have lasted a
little longer; for here was only a treeless, imperceptibly sloping
plain where even an Indian could scarcely hope to conceal himself.

"Fellow must be a perfect ass to think he could get away from us
here," said Coke. "There you are; there goes the gentleman."

A couple of miles ahead was a dark, moving dot, evidently the Indian
trotting along at a good round pace.

"Ass enough to know that there's precious little twilight now, at any
rate," said Paul ruefully, as he urged on his horse. "And there's no
moon till after midnight."

They rode the next mile in silence, and, at the end of it, were no
longer able to distinguish the fleeing figure with any degree of
certainty. In another few minutes they were at the spot where they had
first seen the Indian, but there was hardly enough light for even the
keen-sighted Canadian to detect any trail.

"It's no use thinking of giving up," he said. "We must have the bag if
we ride all night for it."

Again they spurred the horses to a gallop, peering all the while on
either side of them; and in this manner they covered another few
miles. Farther than this the Indian could not possibly have gone in
the time.

"Better divide, and prowl round," said Coke. "Fire a pistol if you see
anything, and I'll do the same."

He rode away at a gentle trot, pausing now and then to listen. After
half an hour of this he heard the pop of a pistol a good way behind
him, yet distinct enough in the silent night air. Wheeling round, he
looked steadily before him in the hope of seeing the flash of a second
report. This came after a few seconds, and he at once responded to
it.

But even before he saw the flash he had noticed something else of far
more importance: a little glow of flame on the ground a few miles
away, somewhere about in the direction which Dumont had started to
follow. And now, coming towards him, was the steady thud of a horse's
hoofs.

"That you, Paul?"

"Ay; come on," sounded from a mounted figure that was beginning to
stand out indistinctly against the blue-black of the sky. The two
young men were soon together again, and Dumont pointed towards the
flame.

"Redskins. Thought I'd better come back and meet you first."

"How many?"

"I could make out three. They couldn't hear my shots with the wind
this way; I didn't hear yours; only saw the flash. Now for a little
bit of spying. Are you well loaded up?"

They were soon within a pistol-shot of the fire, in the light of which
shone the bodies of three Indians, naked as far as the waist. The
Englishman's heart beat with excitement, for as yet he had never been
so close to Indians who were real savages. A few more steps and then
the Indians, not to be taken altogether by surprise, sprang erect and
stood with bowstrings stretched.

"Pawnees, I think," said Dumont, reining up. He shouted some words in
the Siouan dialect, and was answered by what seemed to Coke merely a
series of grunts.

Again the Canadian spoke, and on receiving a brief reply moved on
again.

"Come on," he said triumphantly. "They've got him; they've got our
man."

As the two white men, stiff and hungry, got down from their saddles,
the Pawnees advanced cautiously to meet them, their bows still bent.
Paul, however, made some masonic motions with his hands which were
understood as meaning peace, and each returned his arrow to his
quiver.

A conversation began which, to the Englishman, was very much worse
than any Greek, and so gave him leisure to look about him. Now that
his eyes had become accustomed to the glare of the fire, the first
thing he saw clearly was the runaway guide, bound so tightly with
thongs that the poor creature could not move an inch. Near him lay the
stolen rifle and his friend's valise, the latter disgorging papers
through an opening which had been slashed along one side of it.

Regardless of a murmur of protest from the savages, young Dumont
picked up the gun and handed it to its owner, and having satisfied
himself that none of the papers were missing, strapped the bag across
his own shoulder.

"You must pay us for them," said the Pawnees discontentedly.

"Yes, yes; all right. Come to our camp in the morning, and we'll give
you what is reasonable. What do you propose doing with this man?"

"We shall take him to our camp."

"I'll swear you shan't," said Dumont in English; for he knew what sort
of mercy a trespassing Crow might expect from the Pawnees.

"Tell them we'll fight them or we'll buy the chap of them, which they
like," said Coke, when the position was explained to him.

A debate followed in which Paul showed himself a shrewd bargainer. He
and Coke totted up their available assets, and eventually about a
quarter of a pint of whisky, a penknife, a steel watch-chain, and
four or five shillings' worth of small silver were offered as the
Crow's ransom, and accepted, much to the astonishment of Coke, who, in
his innocence, had been about to add a valuable ring and a pair of
pocket-pistols to the purchase-money. He stooped and cut the
prisoner's bonds, and that worthy, in obedience to a threatening hint
from Dumont, fled into the darkness.

The Indians were amicably inclined, and not only shared their supper
of broiled deer's meat with the travellers, but agreed to call for
them at the camp in the morning and lead them to a point where the
waggons could easily be drawn up to the higher platform; and on this
good understanding the young men rode away. The new guides were as
good as their word, and appeared on their little mustangs before
Coke's party had finished breakfast. They appeared to be one of
several small scouting parties sent out from a main camp farther on to
gather intelligence as to a reported advance of the Crow Indians
against them; and were now returning to their head-quarters beyond the
Platte River. Instructed by them, the sportsmen moved along the bluff
to a place about three miles farther than Coke had ridden on the
previous afternoon; and there found a tolerably easy incline, up which
the waggons were soon dragged.

By the side of the first of the hills seen the day before, the noonday
halt was made. The Pawnees still continued very friendly, the more so
on discovering that nothing but the desire to do battle with bisons
and grisly bears had brought the pale-faces so far.

"To-morrow we will show you many bisons," they said; and they
certainly kept their promise.

All that afternoon the sportsmen could trace the steady passage
north-westwards of herd after herd of the animals; at that distance
merely a brown, moving blur; and Coke wondered how the Indians ever
proposed to come up with them.

"They will go no farther than the river," said the Pawnees, when
questioned.

On the afternoon of the next day, as the little procession came near
to another of the mound-like hills, the guides called a halt.

"We are too few to attack a herd," they said. "We must watch for the
stragglers which may be grazing on the slopes. Go very quietly and do
not raise your voices. Follow us and leave the waggons here." They
moved on their horses again at a quick walk, and the white men did the
same, till they had gone nearly half round the base of the hill, when
the Pawnees pulled up with a jerk, and one of them spoke hurriedly to
George Dumont, who rode immediately behind the guides.

On the hillside about twenty bisons were grazing; and it seemed the
easiest thing in the world to cut them off from the rest of the herd,
which, to the number of three or four hundred, were moving slowly
towards the river, now plainly to be seen flashing in the far
distance.

"Look here," said George, turning to the Englishmen, and speaking with
evident embarrassment. "They mean to make us prove our pretensions to
being mighty hunters. Two of them are going round the farther side to
keep the bulls from wandering, and this chap is going to captain us.
We've got to guard the valley and this side of the hill; but as you
fellows are new to it--if you'd rather not be in it----"

"Oh, bosh!" said Coke; "we're going to stand by you and get our share
of the fun."

"Oh--of course; if you feel sure of yourselves. Well; keep an eye open
for the game beyond. They have a nasty trick of coming to each other's
assistance." He made a sign to the two foremost Indians, who galloped
away without a word, and were soon invisible behind the loitering
bisons. Then the Englishmen saw what sort of sport they were letting
themselves in for. They were to stop the probable downward and
sideward rush of twenty bulls, killing as many of them as they could,
and be prepared at the same time for an attack by the remaining
hundreds that, at the first gunshot, might turn on them in a body.
Daily, for the past fortnight, both of them had zealously practised
shooting with a rifle while at the gallop; but what sort of experience
was that to bring to a task which the Canadians, used from boyhood to
bison-hunting, admitted was a dangerous one?

Low as the voices had been, the stragglers had heard them and were
beginning to look nervously from side to side. Suddenly a white streak
darted through the air, and with an awful bellow one of the bisons
fell, pierced through the eye by an arrow, and began to roll
helplessly down the grassy slope. The remaining Pawnee had drawn first
blood. But a second after, the four Canadians brought their guns to
the shoulder and fired one after the other; two beasts fell dead and
two more showed by their groaning that they were badly wounded.

"Here goes," said Fred; and in another moment he had shot his first
bison.

"Get more to your left, or they'll bolt yet," shouted Dominique
Dumont; and Coke, with an uncomfortable impression that the whole herd
was charging upon him from the rear, nevertheless spurred his horse
sidewards for several yards; then fired at a bull which was
endeavouring to flee down the near side of the hill; and with a thrill
of pride saw him fall on his knees and then roll over.

The excitement of the hunt was on him now and he thought no more of
the herd behind him. Had he looked back he might have seen that alarms
on that score were groundless; for, contrary to their usual custom, at
the first shot they had fled in a body. But it was their desertion
that made the loiterers so determined to escape and rejoin them. Three
more of their number had fallen dead or disabled before the arrows of
the Pawnees on the farther side, who could now be seen pressing the
game more closely; and, at a sign from the other Indian, the party in
the valley now spurred up the hill, the six guns all crashing out
together.

In despair the remaining bulls sought the only sure escape open to
them, and charged up the hill. Fred, the best mounted of the white
men, was soon ahead of the rest, and, deaf to a laughing shout of
"Whoa! Don't be in a hurry," from Paul Dumont, was soon on the heels
of the biggest of the bisons. He had but one barrel loaded; the bullet
took the animal in the hindquarters, making him stop and turn. The
next thing Fred knew was that he was lying bruised and giddy, on his
back, within a very few yards of the maddened brute; for his horse,
young and easily confused, had suddenly reared at sight of the
monster's motion towards him and had thrown his rider.

[Illustration: ALMOST A TRAGEDY

Fred had fired at the bison, but only hit it in the hind-quarters. It
stopped and turned, frightening the horse, which threw its rider within a
few yards of the maddened brute. His friends were powerless to help him,
but a Pawnee on his wiry little mustang galloped up between them and with
a couple of arrows brought the monster down.]

Coke had reloaded by this time, but at first his aim was baulked by
the prancing horse.

"Shoot the confounded horse; he'll kick him to death," yelled George
Dumont in his ear, at the same time frantically pushing a cartridge
into the empty breech of his own gun; but just then the horse swerved
and fled down the hill towards the waggons. The bull, meanwhile,
seeing his enemy at his mercy, had paused just for a moment as though
to take breath; and now, with his nose to the ground, was making a
wild dash towards him.

Coke pulled up, took good aim, and fired; but unluckily, the bullet
which was meant for the bison's shoulder caught him on the frontlet,
his most hopelessly invulnerable part. The three younger Dumonts,
unaware of the accident, were now over the brow and out of sight.
George had almost pulled his trigger, when the Pawnee who had been
riding near him galloped between him and the bull. The little Indian
horse, more used to climbing than the heavily-built hacks of the white
men, shot up the slope like a chamois, and, joining his whinny to the
rider's howl, flew between the prostrate man and the bull.

Fred, who had been too unnerved for the moment to do anything but try
feebly to roll away out of danger, was conscious suddenly of a good
deal of clattering close to him; then, looking up, he saw that the
bull had turned to flee and that the shaft of an arrow was protruding
from his ribs. The bull was struggling up the hill, too startled and
confused to attempt to battle with his new assailant, who, in hot
pursuit, was sending a second arrow after the first.

"No, no; hang it; let the redskin finish him," said Dumont as Coke
made ready to fire again.

The bull did not require much more "finishing." Already the Indian had
wounded him in two places and was getting a third arrow ready for him;
and the final rush up-hill, together with loss of blood, was weakening
him at every step. The mustang, not to be outraced, was soon abreast
of him; and one more arrow from the persevering Indian brought the
luckless beast on to his knees.

Mr. Coke and his friend saw and shot a good many bisons after that,
but never again one that so nearly turned their trip into a tragedy.



CHAPTER XV

HOW THE YO-SEMITE VALLEY WAS DISCOVERED


Till 1851, the peaks and valleys of the Californian Sierra Nevada were
known only as a grim, mysterious region that white men, who valued
their lives, would do well not to pry into. Parties of diggers
travelling westwards had crossed the range in certain places, but even
the strongest bands of them carried their lives in their hands in so
doing, for the Snake Indians regarded the whole neighbourhood as their
special property. All that was definitely known was that, between the
hills, lay deep, uninviting valleys, walled and overhung with granite
blocks. The deepest and most picturesque of these, the Yo-Semite, was
the great stronghold of the Indian banditti; a cunningly hidden
natural fortress whose approaches no stranger would suspect; and it
was only by sheer accident that white men ever discovered it.

Only too often, "civilisation" has been another name for importing
white men's most degrading vices into a country whose people could
originally have taught the civilisers many a lesson in dignified
humility and self-restraint. And in no instance is this more true than
in that of the Snake or Shoshonean branch of the Indian race; for
whereas, in 1805, the worst complaints that Captains Lewis and
Clarke[3] had to make of them was that they were treacherous and given
to pilfering, by 1851 they had already become drunken, lazy highway
robbers and gamblers; and for this the white gold-seekers were largely
to blame.

  [3] See "Adventures in the Great Deserts," Chapter III. (Seeley and
      Co.)

On account of the rush of the "forty-niners," San Francisco and
Sacramento had developed, all in five minutes, from mere Spanish
market-villages into great, raw, ugly towns or camps, whose principal
buildings were drinking and gaming dens and money-brokers' offices.
The Indians stood by and watched, and wondered; and then coveted; for
a vulgar tawdriness, that soon became positively idiotic, was to them
a world of magnificence--and the gold which paid for it all was
derived from their own soil; a wealth which they ought to have been
enjoying! They went back to their hill-camps and reported; the matter
was pondered and discussed. They could not take San Francisco, but at
least they could prevent the white man's territory from spreading
beyond certain limits; and this they determined to do to the best of
their ability.

The strangers most likely to be affected by such an attitude were
those restless spirits who, dissatisfied with the output of their
"claims," were already wandering farther into the unknown country in
search of better ones; and the store and tavern keepers who supplied
travellers and the more outlying diggers. Two such stores were the
property of a young American named John Savage, a good-hearted,
respectable fellow, who, because he was wise enough to ignore little
thefts on the part of his Indian neighbours, yet man enough to hit out
uncompromisingly if necessary, was very popular among the redskins;
and this popularity he increased by marrying an Indian girl. He, his
wife, and his mother conducted the store at Mariposa Creek, while that
on the Frezno River was left in charge of a manager and two
assistants.

Every evening a crowd of Snake Indians would collect outside
Savage's house, or in the store, and while he smoked a friendly pipe
with them, he was sometimes able to gauge their feelings towards
the fresh inhabitants of the tiny settlement, whose number was
steadily increasing. The chief of the Snakes was one José Jerez, a
comparatively young man, who certainly had not benefited by contact
with white men. Bit by bit this brave had succeeded in supplying
most of his tribe with muskets; but ammunition was not so easy to
obtain. Savage had, from the beginning, firmly refused to supply the
Indians with powder; and now that San Francisco was becoming a power
in the land, few of them dared enter it to make purchases, lest some
of their tribe's recent depredations should be visited on them.
Thus Jerez was dependent on what ammunition he could bully or steal
or wheedle from passing travellers or raw new-comers.

One evening Savage noticed that the group of idlers were less chatty
and civil than usual; in fact, they pointedly conversed with one
another in their own dialect, of which they knew him to be ignorant,
instead of in the broken English which they generally employed. This
so aroused his suspicions that he ordered his wife to play the part of
eavesdropper, and to report anything of a dangerous nature.

The talk turned on the Indians' grievances, real or imaginary. Their
fishing and hunting had been encroached upon, they said; the
pale-faces were enriching themselves out of land that belonged to
them, and giving them nothing in return; not so much as a bag of
gunpowder; and the miners would never be satisfied till they had
driven them up to the barren mountain-tops.

When Savage had learned the gist of the conversation, his mind was
soon made up. He had to drive into San Francisco on the following day
for fresh stores, and it occurred to him that if he offered Jerez a
seat in his waggon, and a day's sight-seeing, he would not only be
restoring the chief to good humour, but would have an opportunity of
showing that gentleman the numerical strength of the white men, and
the folly of interfering with people who might deal out some very
unwelcome chastisement.

Jerez and another brave joyfully accepted the invitation, and at
daybreak the waggon drove off. On the way Savage did his best, by
means of quiet hints, to show his two guests that it is always wise to
put up with what one cannot alter; and that Indian notions of
wholesale bloodshed would not "pay" with white men. In San Francisco
he hammered this lesson home by taking them to see the volunteers at
target-practice, and pointing out one or two pieces of artillery that
had been imported. The chiefs were decidedly impressed, and, seeing
them in such a satisfactory frame of mind, Savage conducted them to
the inn where he purposed staying the night and went about his
purchases.

Left to themselves, each found the dollar which Savage had given him
burning a hole in his pocket. Not daring to venture into the streets
by themselves, they spent the money at the bar, and so effectually
that, when their entertainer returned, both were very drunk and very
quarrelsome. Savage remonstrated mildly, whereupon both grew abusive
and threatening. In order to avoid an unpleasant scene, he went down
the yard to the outbuilding where he was to sleep; but before he had
lain down, both redskins sought him out for a renewal of the argument.
Savage pointed to the apartment reserved for them, and recommended
them to go to it; and their answer was a further torrent of threats,
which they emphasised by brandishing their knives. No one with the
spirit of a man in him cares to see a knife brought into a discussion
or fight; John Savage expressed his personal views on the matter by
hammering both his antagonists with his fists till they were glad to
retreat to their bedroom.

In the morning they were sullen and silent, but Savage took no notice
of this; he finished his marketing, and then returned to the inn to
put in his horses and take up the Indians. Still they would not speak,
and, disliking their demeanour, the Yankee very ostentatiously loaded
a pair of pistols with ball, and stuck them in his belt before joining
the others on the front-board. At a house a mile or two out of the
town he stopped to deliver a parcel; he was not away from the waggon
five minutes, but when he returned, Jerez and his companion had
vanished.

Savage was aghast, for there was but one construction to be placed
upon their disappearance: they wanted to reach Mariposa Creek before
him. For what purpose would scarcely bear thinking of. They were
familiar with every inch of the country, while he only knew the
cart-track--a road cut purposely zigzag that the worst of the hills
might be avoided; the average rate of his horses could hardly exceed
six miles an hour on such a road, while the Indians could easily run
eight; he had thirty miles to drive, and ought to give the horses at
least one rest; they had scarcely eighteen miles before them, if they
went in a straight line, and would easily accomplish in three hours a
journey that usually took him six.

He lashed the horses without mercy; already he was picturing his wife
and mother killed, and his home in flames; for the Indians would
probably reach Mariposa in the early afternoon, a time when no diggers
would be likely to be within a mile of the store. He gave no further
thought to food for himself, or bait or rest for the horses. Twice he
saw, or fancied that he saw, two figures hurrying over the hills to
the southeast; he only drove the harder, trying might and main to sit
on his fears and laugh at himself for being frightened of a couple of
redskins. Unhappily, he knew all too well that it was not just "a
couple of redskins" who had to be taken into account. During the past
six months, seven such stores as his had been plundered and burnt by a
strong posse of Snakes; and Jerez could, without difficulty, collect
the best part of a hundred men at an hour's notice.

Hours and miles slipped by; the horses behaved like bricks, never
once stumbling and apparently never tiring. As always happens in such
a case, the last mile seemed as long as all the rest together; the
road here was a steady wind, so that the driver could never see more
than a hundred yards ahead of him; for on either side of the track was
dense forest. At last he came in sight of his home, and then, like a
boy, he stood up on the footboard and vented his feelings in a
delighted "Hurrah!" For everything was in its normal condition; the
cattle and horses grazing in the pound; the poultry in the roadway,
and his women-folk gossiping cheerily with a couple of diggers under
the verandah.

So far nothing had been heard of the Indians, and, after a rest and a
meal, Savage began to feel heartily ashamed of his terrors. But, that
night, either a remarkable coincidence or a very ominous event took
place. For the first time in two years, the store was entirely
deserted by Indians; not a single Shoshonee looked in for an evening's
chat. The next night it was the same, and the next after that. On the
fourth night the proprietor arrived at a conclusion.

"It's a boycott," he said; "and I'm not sorry a little bit; we shall
be better off without 'em."

"Maybe they've boycotted the country as well as the store," said a
loitering digger. "For none of our boys have clapped eyes on a Injun
since you come back from 'Frisco."

"So much the better; 'cause to-morrow's audit day, and the old lady
goes to the river for her little jaunt." On the first of every month,
either Savage or his mother drove over to the store at Frezno River to
examine accounts, pay wages, and bring back the "takings." On this
occasion the young man felt himself in an awkward dilemma; on the one
hand dreading to be absent from his store, on the other not at all
satisfied that his mother might not be attacked on the way by
revengeful Indians.

The old lady, however, always looked forward to such an outing as a
welcome break in the monotony of her life at the Creek, and would not
be baulked of her treat; though, in the morning, she consented to take
Sam, a reliable negro servant, as escort. The Frezno River store was
but a four hours' drive distant; and she ought to be able to return
soon after dark came on, at latest.

In the middle of the day a digger rushed excitedly into the store. He
had just returned from a "claim" six miles away, whither he had gone
to compare some quartz.

"Where's all the boys? Not knocked off for the noon spell yet?" he
cried.

"Some of 'em'll soon be round," said Savage, who was alone in the
store. "What's the trouble?"

"Trouble 'nough. The redskins have come down on First Creek, killed a
dozen of 'em, and cleared out with all the powder an' nuggets they
could see their way to handling."

Savage turned pale; First Creek was on the direct road to his other
store.

"Where are they got to now?" he gasped.

"Lord knows. It was a nigger as told me, just afore he died; he seen
it all, an' got one o' their bullets into him. All the rest of the
diggers have made tracks for 'Frisco, to fetch out the volunteers.
Never had a chance, so the nigger said. There was 'most three hundred
o' the reptiles, an' not more'n twenty of our boys, an' all of 'em
took by surprise; shot down afore they could pick up their guns."

Savage gave the frightened man a drink of spirits, then said
resolutely:

"See an' muster as many o' the boys as ye can.--Here come some of 'em.
Tell the others if they don't wipe off this score, our lives won't be
worth a cent out here. My poor old mother's over at the other store,
and I'm off to fetch her back."

Within half an hour fifty diggers had been collected, and, after a
brief discussion, it was arranged that forty of them should accompany
Savage on horseback while the others guarded the store, which, just
now, was less likely to be attacked than the more distant one.

Riding at full gallop they accomplished the distance in a little over
two hours; and even that was two hours too late. A roar of futile
anger arose from the miners as they pulled up their horses. The store
was in flames, and already half consumed; at the end, by the stables,
was Savage's van, minus the horses, and across the front-board of it
lay the faithful black, shot dead, but still clutching a discharged
rifle; while round about the doorway were the bodies of the manager,
his two assistants, and old Mrs. Savage. Heedless of everything else,
her son rushed to her side; then uttered a strange little cry of
relief as she opened her eyes and sat up painfully. Blood was running
from her shoulder.

"Thank God you are safe," he said huskily. "The rest doesn't matter
so much now." He lifted her in his arms and carried her tenderly to
the waggon. Meanwhile, some of his companions were examining the other
bodies for some sign of life, which, unhappily, was not forthcoming;
while the rest made fruitless efforts at extinguishing the fire.

The old lady's story was soon told. She had not been in the store very
long when a large party of Indians swooped down on the place with
guns, tomahawks, and lighted torches. She heard a scream from the
negro who had been dozing under the waggon-tilt, and she and the three
shopmen rushed to the door, only to be shot down immediately by the
crowd of shrieking wretches outside. She had received a ball in the
shoulder, and, while the Indians were ransacking and firing the store,
swooned away from fright and loss of blood.

A pair of horses were at once put into the shafts and the sorrowful
party were about to return to Mariposa Creek, when a dozen horsemen
galloped up; miners from the "claim" hard by, who, though they had
paid no special heed to the firing, had soon been alarmed by the smoke
of the burning house. Not one of them had seen anything of the
Shoshonees, and all were anxious to help in a search for the culprits.
But the short winter's day was already at an end, and Savage preferred
getting his mother home in safety to scouring a country that might
teem with Indian ambuscades; he therefore urged the volunteers to make
a dash for San Francisco, to interview the Governor (McDougall) and
ask for troops and ammunition.

But the day's misadventures were not yet ended. Within a mile of
Mariposa Creek the returning men could hear spasmodic bursts of
musketry fire.

[Illustration: RED INDIAN ATTACK ON A STORE

The Indians swooped down on the place with guns, tomahawks, and lighted
torches. Those within rushed to the door, only to be shot down
immediately by a crowd of wild redskins outside.]

"They're laying up for us, by gum!" said one man, starting off at a
gallop.

Savage leapt from the waggon and on to a spare horse, and, leaving his
mother to the care of two or three men who were riding inside, he
started with the rest for the store. "We've got them this time," he
shouted triumphantly.

About seventy redskins, most of them on horseback, and the rest with
their horses tethered close at hand, were firing on the house, though
from a tolerably safe distance; for the undaunted miners within had a
good supply of ammunition, whereas the Snakes had to use theirs
sparingly. Already a good many Indians lay dead or wounded, and, at
the sound made by the new arrivals, the rest either turned to bay or
fled.

"Don't say I didn't warn you, Jerez," shouted Savage as he charged at
the chief and fired off his pistol in his face.

Seeing their leader down, the Indians hesitated, though some of the
bolder of them rode straight for the store, now that it was no longer
safe for the men inside to continue their fire. But the ensuing battle
was only a very short one. However brave the Indians might be at
shooting from cover, or making war on women, they were powerless in
open field against the burly miners, who cared nothing for their howls
and their hatchets, and who, in many cases, having exhausted their
ammunition, tore the savages screaming from their saddles and flung
them senseless on the hard-frozen road.

"Look what the oseberds be at, Savage!" roared a huge Devonshireman,
spurring his horse furiously in pursuit of a small batch of Indians
who were galloping for the hills.

"After 'em," echoed the defenders of the store; and Savage and five
others rode madly in the Devonshireman's wake.

Confident of success now that their friends had returned, the miners
in the store had come out to continue the fight in the open; and the
young Indian wife had followed them. In an instant, and at first
unseen by anyone except Billy West the Devonshireman, one of the
braves had snatched up the woman, flung her across his saddle, and
ridden off, his flight covered by other fugitives.

The little handful of white men rode despairingly on, though their
horses were jaded, though it was pitch dark and a heavy snow was
beginning. There was no thought of ambuscades now; each man's blood
was up; each man ready to deal with a score of Indians single-handed.
Yet, at last, common sense said "stop." For the first mile or so, the
snow had been their friend; for, to eyes accustomed to darkness, the
Indians' track was visible enough on its surface; but with the
increasing storm, footprints were obliterated as fast as they were
made. The Devonshireman was the first to pull up.

"Shall us goo on, or goo back, or baide yere,--or what?" he asked.

Everyone looked towards Savage. Clearly these good fellows were all
anxiety to show their sympathy with him, and their readiness to fall
in with his least wish. He, too, had now pulled up, but seemed
altogether too dazed to form any decision. The others held a whispered
council; but, while they still hesitated, they heard a body of mounted
men riding swiftly behind them.

"Halt!--Who goes there?" And as an echo to the leader's voice, came
the click of three dozen carbine-hammers.

"All right; _we_ shan't eat ye," growled a miner; and the troop rode
on towards them. "Who are _you_, any way?"

"Dr. Bunnell, and forty volunteers from 'Frisco. Know anything about
that affair at First Creek this morning?"

The new arrivals were mounted militia from San Francisco, who had been
warned by the fugitives from the massacre at the diggings. Billy West
began to tell of the other outrages, but the doctor interrupted him.

"Ay; we judged there was something of the sort going on. Bring that
redskin here again."

Two men with bull's-eye lanterns at their belts rode forward, leading
a third horse on which an Indian was securely bound.

"Here's our guide," said Dr. Bunnell grimly. He held up his heavy
stock-whip to the lantern light, and the Shoshonee winced. "We
captured him this afternoon, and he's going to be good enough to show
us where his brothers live. We got ten of 'em altogether; Captain
Boling's men are looking after the rest. They'll meet us yon side the
first hill at midnight; so fall in with our lads, and we'll get on; if
your horses are anything like ours, you'll be glad to travel slowly."

The troop rode on silently, following the directions given by the
prisoner; and soon after midnight they came upon a body of men,
seventy strong, who, having dismounted, were huddling over camp-fires
on the mountain-side. The soldiers were well supplied with rations,
which they readily shared with Savage and his six friends; and all
settled down to give the horses a breathing space. A couple of hours
before dawn, a bugle blew, and the shivering, stiffened men clambered
into their saddles again.

The way now lay across a snow-clad plain which, after a few miles,
began to slope steadily upwards. As day broke, the riders saw a group
of hills not far ahead; and at sight of them the Indians began to look
hesitating and uncomfortable.

"What's wrong?" asked Captain Boling.

"They can't agree, gov'nor," said a man who acted as interpreter.
"Some of 'em allow we're on the wrong track altogether."

"In other words, they reckon we're in for the worst of it, and they'll
get burnt for informing," said Dr. Bunnell, riding up. He spoke
impressively in the Shoshonean dialect to the prisoners for a minute,
then added, "All right; drive on. I've made them understand that it
won't answer their purpose to be crooked with us."

More crestfallen than ever, the guides led the way up the slope and
into an unsuspected ravine, which eventually opened on to another
plain; and this they crossed, coming out presently to the brink of a
sharp downward slope, at the foot of which the opening of a valley was
visible.

"There's someone standing over there." Captain Boling pointed to the
mouth of the valley.

"Ay; Injun woman," said a sharp-eyed miner.

As the men quickened their pace the woman ran to meet them. It was an
old Indian squaw, who was wringing her hands in an agony of terror.
Dr. Bunnell reined up and questioned her, and she at once admitted
that a strange Indian girl had been brought to the valley a few hours
earlier, and that over two hundred Indians were sheltering there. She
also told him what he did not believe at the time, but which
subsequently proved to be true: that these would be the first white
men to enter the valley. He looked sharply round at the prisoners;
their faces fully confirmed the old woman's betrayal of their tribe's
hiding-place.

At the sound of the bugle the whole troop dashed into the valley, and
the first sight that greeted them was a large group of wigwams. Before
the savages could get into battle array their camp was surrounded, and
a brisk carbine fire had opened on them. Almost at the first shot they
lost heart, and on seeing them lay down their arms, the Captain
stopped the firing and ordered his men to close in. John Savage,
unable to control himself any longer, made a rush for the wigwams;
and, while he looked desperately round him, his wife, screaming
deliriously, came running to meet him.

Through this prompt action on the part of the militia, the Indian
rising was entirely suppressed, over a hundred braves were carried
back to San Francisco as hostages, and the beautiful Yo-Semite
Valley ceased, from that day, to be the stronghold of Shoshonee
mountain-brigands.



CHAPTER XVI

AMONG THE NIQUIRANS AND APACHES


A somewhat adventurous career fell to the lot of the late Julius
Froebel, a nephew of the great Friedrich Froebel of "Kindergarten"
fame. Having devoted his early manhood to journalism and politics of a
very rabid and revolutionary character, he became the recognised
leader of the Dresden democratic party in 1848. After being arrested
in Austria and reprieved from a death-sentence, he fled to New York,
and was for some time the editor of a German paper published there.

Two years later he joined a party of traders who were sailing for
Central America, and with these he stayed for some months at Granada,
on Lake Nicaragua. Finding town life becoming tame to him, he one day
started off by himself to examine the more inland district, which was
then inhabited largely by Indian tribes. The project had been in his
mind for a long time, and what finally decided him was the accidental
meeting with a fellow countryman, who told him privately that gold had
just been found in large quantities at a village a little farther
west; so without a guide, without more than one day's provisions, and
with only a very scanty knowledge of Spanish to help him on his way,
he set off on his risky trip.

He travelled all that day, and met no one after he had left the
outskirts of the town; and that night, with his saddle for a pillow,
he slept very comfortably under a tree. On the next day, he continued
his way till an easy ride of about twelve miles, across a pathless
plain, brought him suddenly on the heels of a travelling party of
fifty Indians,--men, women, and children--all of them chatting freely
and jubilantly, and riding as though bent upon some definite errand.
They saluted him cheerily and he asked, in his broken Spanish, how far
he was from the next village.

"It is over there; not far; not very far." He looked where they were
pointing and saw that smoke was rising thinly from beyond a clump of
trees. "Keep with us, Señor, and we will show you the way," added the
man, who seemed to be the chief or leader.

But this village proved to be a great deal farther than it looked;
riding among the trees and thick undergrowth was slow and weary work,
and, even in this damp, shaded spot, the heat was now becoming almost
unendurable. The Indians themselves were losing their energy and
talkativeness; and many of them were beginning to lag behind or fall
asleep in their saddles, when the chief cried out that they would halt
at the little stream which was already in sight.

Froebel, more than willing, dismounted with the rest, and, tethering
his horse to a tree, sought a comfortable resting-place for himself.
Hunger and fatigue not infrequently go hand in hand, and the sight of
the Indian women collecting sticks to feed the fires which they had
speedily made reminded the traveller not only that it was some hours
since he had breakfasted, but that, beyond a flask of brandy and
water, all his provisions were exhausted. He watched wistfully the
Indians' preparations. What were they going to eat?

Two women near him were untying their bundles, and now produced
therefrom a number of small drinking-gourds, nets of eggs, bunches of
plantains, with oranges or other fruit, which Froebel eyed hungrily.
Then, to his great relief, he saw that he was to be regarded as one of
the family; for two young Indians, sons of the chief, at once helped
him generously to the fruit, and explained that the great cooking-pots
that hung over one or other of the fires would soon be filled with
eggs, of which he would be expected to eat his share.

When the eggs were "done," the water used for boiling them, instead of
being thrown away, was economically employed for cocoa-making;
irregular, greasy-looking blocks of sweetened chocolate being thrown
into the pot, which a woman stirred with a stick till it was a thick,
boiling paste; and into this each person dipped his or her gourd.

The meal being ended, the men lay and smoked long cheroots, and
recommenced their light-hearted gabble of the morning. Froebel
intimated that he was willing to pay for his meal, but the Indians
stoutly refused his offer of money, and with such an air of gentle
reproach that he began to feel as small as though he had asked for a
bill after dining at a friend's table. Something of the dignity of
manner of their Spanish conquerors seemed to have descended to these
Indians; though they were far from holding themselves aloof from their
guest, or from making any secret of their own affairs, not one of them
ventured to ask the German a single question as to his coming or his
going. They told him that they were Niquirans--a wandering, gypsy-like
tribe of the Nahuatlan stock; and that, as they had heard of the
discovery of a gold-mine at the village which they were approaching,
where everyone might go and help himself, they thought--being in the
neighbourhood--they might as well bring away a few sackfuls of the
metal.

The journalist pricked up his ears. El Dorado, Tom Tiddler's Ground,
was not a fable after all, then?

"Are there any white men there?" he asked.

The chief of the Niquirans smiled. He was a great deal too polite to
say that, had there been, the gold would not be there long, but that
was what his smile seemed to imply.

"We have heard of none as yet, Señor; but we did not know of the gold
till this morning. The village, as you perceive, is quite away from
any main road, and ordinarily there is nothing to bring white men in
this direction."

When all had rested sufficiently, the journey was resumed, and a
short ride brought them into the village, which was as deserted as
"sweet Auburn" itself. Not so much as a dog was in evidence; but
the murmur of voices in the little valley beyond was a sufficient
guide to the quarter where the inhabitants had collected. Very
soon the gold-seekers came upon these, three or four hundred of
them, encamped between a stream and a small bluff; and, round
this, horses, mules, ox-waggons, and tents were drawn up in the form
of a crescent.

No sooner did the new-comers show their faces than the villagers, who
seemed to have been taking their siesta, rose up and armed themselves
with stones or sticks, and some few even with bows and spears.

The Niquirans drew up hesitatingly, and Froebel, dismounting,
approached the threatening crowd with every sign of friendliness. He
asked to see the chief, and, on being taken before him, demanded to
know the cause of such a hostile reception.

"We have found a gold-mine here," said the chief, "and our people at
first mistook your party for unfriendly Indians who might have come to
drive us away from it." He went on to say, with delightful frankness,
that the villagers intended removing as much of the gold as possible,
and that, as soon as their own claims were satisfied, anyone would be
welcome to what remained.

"But _will_ there be any remaining?" asked Froebel, with an
incredulous smile. "There are many of my people who would gladly give
you money and cattle in exchange for your gold. You had better show me
your mine."

The chief eyed him with some amount of suspicion, discussed the matter
with one or two cronies for a few minutes, and at last invited the
stranger to "come and see." Following his conductors through the line
of vehicles, animals, and babies that marked off the precious spot,
Froebel came to the bluff-face, at which one or two of the more
zealous Indians were now beginning work again. He had been prepared
to see nothing but quartz, or possibly a few grains of the metal
mingled with sand; therefore he was fain to stand still and rub his
eyes when he beheld a broad golden stratum in the cliff on which the
sunrays flashed as on a looking-glass. It was a sight that would have
made the least covetous of mortals gasp.

The chief pointed proudly to a row of bushel-baskets, piled to the
brim with the glittering substance, and intimated that, since the
white stranger's intentions were peaceable, he was at liberty to fill
his pockets.

There are some white men who, when they have an unpalatable truth to
disclose, do not trouble to choose a tasteful or tactful or kind
method of performing the task; and it is to be feared that Herr
Froebel was one of these. He knew little about metallurgy, but one
glance at the shining lump that he took from the nearest basket told
him that the "gold" was pyrites, worth perhaps twopence a cart-load.
To the amazement of the Indians he flung it contemptuously away.

"That's no gold; it's rubbish; worth nothing," he blurted out.

_Not gold?_ But not an Indian believed him; not one of them could see
anything but jealousy or intentional insult in this frank piece of
information; and the chief and his followers turned threateningly upon
him. One and another took up the cry, and Froebel, who had left his
only pistol in his holster, fancied that he saw death staring him in
the face; for the excitement that he had created in the little
community could not be quelled by a man who only knew about a
thousand words of the language. He dodged between two mules and into
the open; but the crowd of loiterers there had already invented
another version of his crime; he was running off with their gold!
There was nothing for it but pure and undisguised flight, and he set
off as fast as his legs could carry him to the spot where the
Niquirans were awaiting him. Sticks, stones, and mud whizzed about his
head, and he could hear swift feet pursuing him.

Luckily, it was a time of day when no Indian, however fleet of foot,
will run very far or fast; his pursuers turned out to be only some
mischievous boys who were not going to throw away an opportunity of
pelting a fugitive; and, at sight of the grim-looking Niquiran
horsemen, who began to move a step or two forward, even these returned
to their camp. Mounting his horse again, Froebel looked back and saw
that the villagers were making ready to repel any advance of the
strangers; they were again collecting their weapons and shouting
defiance at the Niquirans. Doubtless these would have had a very easy
victory; for they were better armed and infinitely finer men, in the
habit of fighting at a moment's notice; while the simple villagers had
had no quarrel with their neighbours for a quarter of a century.

"There is nothing to fight about; it was all my fault," said Froebel;
and he hastily explained the whole matter.

His companions laughed, and turned their horses' heads; they were
happy-go-lucky, hand-to-mouth folk, to whom the disappointment was far
less bitter than to the German; and they rode away cheerily enough,
leaving the gold-diggers to bask in their happy ignorance.

As he had nothing better to do, Froebel threw in his lot with the
wanderers, and, in this manner, spent many happy months in seeing the
country. But, to a man of his restless disposition, even this roving
life became wearisome; he returned to Granada and there fell in again
with two of the Yankee traders with whom he had arrived. For the next
year or so he travelled with them, visiting almost every town in
Central America; and at last decided to return with them to the States
by way of Mexico.

Mexico, as will be seen in a later chapter, was in a state of great
unrest at this time (1853); and, in the wilder parts, it was unsafe
for white men to travel without escort; but, as troops of soldiers
were often scouring the country, the three strangers relied on being
able to travel with one or other of these. They had a pleasant ride
through Guatemala, visited the wonderful ruins at Uxmal in Yucatan:
ruins nearly a thousand years old, that tell practically all that can
be told of the civilisation of the ancient Mexicans; and at length
entered upon the longer and more perilous portion of their trip.

But fortune was more favourable to them than to the generality of
Mexican travellers in those days; for they covered the long journey,
of over a thousand miles, from the frontier to Chihuahua in North
Mexico, without a single misadventure. While in this city, Froebel
discovered, first that he was leading too uneventful a life for his
constitution, and secondly, that his purse was now empty, for while
his companions had been ants, he had been a cricket. It happened that
the Mexican Commander-in-Chief, General Trias, was going north to put
down a rising, and Froebel obtained from him the post of temporary
transport-agent; he was to follow the troops with ten waggons and a
hundred mules, and assist generally in the commissariat.

Every day, from the time of starting, horrible reports of atrocities
committed by the Apache Indians reached him. In one place, fourteen
women and children had been slaughtered; in another, a flock of sheep
had been stolen and the shepherds killed; while in a third, the
prairie had been deliberately set on fire at a time when the wind
could not fail to carry the flames to a cluster of huts, many of whose
occupants were burned to death. Yet the soldiers could not so much as
get a sight of the culprits, who, on their fleet horses, made nothing
of covering fifty miles in a few hours.

But one night, when Froebel and his muleteers were encamped some few
hundred yards behind the main body, a volley of musketry sounded close
at hand; and an attendant, who was in the act of handing the transport
agent his supper, fell dead. The muleteers snatched up brands from the
fire for torches, and, gun in hand, ran in search of the enemy.

"Shoot; shoot," cried Froebel, himself setting the example by firing
at a group of shadowy figures that were already on the move. But it
was too late; the Indians could be heard scampering away across the
prairie. The agent dared not take his men in pursuit, leaving the
mules unguarded; but he rode across to the cavalry tents where
General Trias and twenty men, who had heard the firing, were already
in the saddle.

"Fall in with us, then, as you know the direction in which they went,"
said Trias hurriedly; and away they all galloped.

Far away across the plain they could hear the regular beat of the
fleeing horses' hoofs. Without stopping, Trias gave the command to
fire; the twenty carbines went off like one, and, from the sudden wild
screaming ahead of them, Froebel knew that some of the bullets had hit
their random mark. This was confirmed in a minute or so when, in the
clouded and uncertain light of the moon, he caught sight of three
Indians and a horse lying on the ground as the troop swept past.

"There they are; load again," shouted Trias; and all could see the
feather head-dresses of the Apaches waving in the breeze, still within
gunshot. But the next volley took no apparent effect, the shapes were
growing dimmer again, and the sounds less distinct.

"On; on; we must have them," shouted the General; and, as the horses
were tolerably fresh, the task was still not hopeless.

"Hark! They have reached the road," cried one of the soldiers, who was
perfectly familiar with the neighbourhood. This was the high road to
the Texan frontier, in places a mere sand-strip bordered on either
side by forests, in others a smooth, well-beaten track bisecting a
vast prairie. The news was the reverse of good, for now the Apaches
might at any moment separate, and disappear among the trees. The
forest part of the road wound very considerably, so that the pursuers
would no longer be able to profit by the light of the already setting
moon.

Half an hour went by; an hour; and still the Mexicans rode on, now
certain that they heard the Indians' horses, now equally certain that
all of them had dispersed over the prairie or in the woods. But all of
a sudden a faint scream sounded along the road, together with the
undeniable tramp of horses. The scream came nearer, and the soldiers
spurred their breathless chargers round the bend of the road.

"There are lights," shouted Froebel.

"Yes; carriage-lamps; they have stopped the mail-coach," roared Trias.
"Keep it up, my men; we must have them now."

"Why, they are running to meet us," said Froebel; "they must have been
reinforced."

The lights were certainly coming nearer, and, with them, a body of
horsemen; and now the soldiers could hear the quick popping of
pistol-shots. Then all at once a loud shout arose from where the
lights were, the sound of wheels came nearer and nearer, but the
accompanying horsemen were obviously riding now in the other
direction.

"Are you the soldiers?" shouted a chorus of voices from the coach as
it came up.

"Yes."

"You can catch them yet; they tried to stop us and rob us; and would
have done, but for hearing you."

The troop did not draw bridle, but wheeled away on to the prairie in
pursuit of half a dozen moving figures on whom they were easily
gaining. A minute later a voice in front cried: "All right; we'll
give in. Don't fire."

"Why, those are not Indians," said Trias in astonishment.

Nor were they; they were six Mexican brigands who had been pursuing
the mail; the Apaches were probably safe long ago, in one of their
forest camps. The highwaymen were soon seized and bound, and as it was
ultimately discovered that they were some of the revolutionaries for
whom Trias was on the look-out, the night-ride was not altogether a
wild-goose chase.



CHAPTER XVII

ACROSS THE UNITED STATES IN A WAGGON


From the foregoing chapter it will have been seen that Mexico, in the
middle of the nineteenth century, was not a neighbourhood wherein a
man might look to find rest and quiet; and it is safe to say that if
any one part of it was less to be desired than another as a place of
resort, it was the United States frontier.

When the war between Mexico and the United States ended in 1847, this
frontier had to be overhauled and settled afresh, and within the next
two years Presidents Polk and Taylor appointed a Boundary Commission.
One of the commissioners was the late John Russell Bartlett, secretary
to the New York Ethnographical Society, and subsequently one of the
greatest authorities on the Indian races.

Mr. Bartlett did not leave New York for his southward journey till the
summer of 1850, and one of the first lessons that he learned on that
journey was that redskins, like other men, cannot be understood from
books or from mere surface examination. Anxious to see as much as
possible of the Indians of the southern States, he elected to travel
by waggon, there being no immediate hurry for him to present himself
at El Paso. Such a course meant passing through wild regions of
prairie, plain, and hill, peopled by Missouris, Choctaws, Bannocks,
Comanches, Chicasas, Araphoes, and perhaps a score more of savage
tribes, the majority of whom still regarded the white man as their
natural enemy; and the details of that ride, with his subsequent
adventures in and round Mexico, would occupy more than the whole of
this book.

His first acquaintance with the Missouri Indians came about while the
waggon was crossing the great undulating plains near the Arkansas
River. He was seated under the tilt pretending to write letters, but,
in actual fact, dozing off to sleep under the influence of a sudden
spell of heat, when a wild shriek from the direction of his leaders'
heads aroused him. He looked up and found that he was alone, though
this was nothing out of the ordinary; for his negro attendant and his
two waggoners not infrequently got down and walked when the horses
were obliged to move slowly or when there was an opportunity of
filling the pot. Before he could reach the forepart of the waggon, the
black's curly head showed above the front-board, eyes bulging and
teeth chattering with terror.

"Look, Massa; look!" he shrieked.

"Catch hold o' them ribbons, _will_ ye?" he heard one of the teamsters
shout; but the negro was too paralysed with fear to obey. The next
moment the man who had called out, and had now got possession of the
reins, landed with a flying leap on the footboard, and was followed
with no less precipitation by his mate.

"Gun; quick!" panted the second man, while the first endeavoured to
control the frightened horses.

Stumbling over the cowering nigger, Mr. Bartlett joined the teamsters.
The four horses were still shying violently and kicking in every
direction; and, not fifteen feet from the two wheelers, was a bison,
charging with furious determination straight at them. He caught up his
gun, which hung in slings close to his hand, and emptied both barrels
at the formidable beast, which fell on his knees, gasping and
bellowing, till two more bullets from the second teamster made him
roll over.

"Reckon we'll have some of his meat, when them hosses have done
rearing," said the shooter. It took time to quiet the terror-stricken
creatures, and, in the end, the driver was forced to give them their
heads for a while; and they had hardly settled to their normal
condition when a fresh incident occurred to trouble their peace.

A succession of single shouts from various directions sounded from
beyond the hill which they were now passing, and suddenly swelled into
a long, howling, shrieking chorus that was echoed by maddened
bellowings as from a thousand bulls. With difficulty the horses
allowed themselves to be held in, and as they were walked past the
final spur of the hill, a truly wonderful sight broke on the
spectators. They had come to the mouth of a pleasant, grassy valley,
in the midst of which a herd of over two hundred bison were running
hither and thither, butting each other, falling over, or trying
furiously to reach the slopes; while, down the hill on either side, a
great troop of mounted Indians swept like a torrent; spears slung at
their backs, arrows flying from the bows in their hands. With all the
order and method of a cavalry brigade, they slackened their speed
suddenly, and, spreading out, formed themselves into a huge circle;
then straightway continued with their spears the work of slaughter
which their arrows had begun.

For ever on the move, now to right, now to left, now charging into the
heaving brown mass, they plied their lances untiringly, time after
time avoiding, with no visible effort, the desperate charge of one or
other of the bisons. To a man who loved sport, but not slaughter, it
was a revolting sight; yet fascinating as well, by reason of the skill
and pertinacity which these savages displayed in their task of blood.
Now and then one or two energetic bulls would force a way through some
opening in the line, in the fond hope of being allowed to flee over
the hills; but there was always some vigilant horseman ready to give
chase or else to send half a dozen arrows in rapid succession, and so
to cut short the creature's chance of escape. Not till every bison lay
dead did the redskins stay their hands or condescend to turn an eye on
the onlookers who had drawn up at the entrance to the valley.

Bartlett waited with curiosity to see what the Indians' next move
would be. As concerned himself they might be perfectly harmless;
already he had come to the conclusion that the redskin is a very much
maligned man; but, whether harmless or offensive, the hunters had now
caught sight of the waggon, and to attempt to flee before men, mounted
as well as they were, would only be a ridiculous waste of energy. A
few turned their horses his way, but the great majority continued to
hunt down the game; but whatever work these had still to do, was very
soon done; for, by the time their brethren had come up with the
waggon, they were following in their wake.

From the teamsters Bartlett learned that the horsemen were Missouris--a
branch of the Sioux--and accordingly he stood up in the waggon and
began hesitatingly to address the foremost in what he had already
mastered of the Siouan dialect. The effect should have been
flattering; they didn't give him "three cheers," their education in
that form of enthusiasm being as yet imperfect; but they smiled
encouragingly and turned their spears points downwards, while the more
demonstrative pressed up to him, patted his shoulders, his ribs, and his
leggings, telling him that he was a great man, a wise chief, and a
"good medicine"--whatever that might mean.

Three men who appeared, from their more ornate dress, to be rulers
among the tribe, now turned and gave some directions to those who were
coming up behind them; and, as these rode forward, Bartlett noticed
that every man of the division that had stayed to cut up the carcases
carried one or more semi-globular lumps of bison-beef on his
saddle-bow; and it was to bestow some of these lumps on the stranger
that the chief had called them. In a couple of minutes the footboard
was like a butcher's stall, for meat enough lay there to feed the four
occupants of the waggon for about a month. On Bartlett's asking where
was the best place to cross the river, a chief told him there was a
ferry fourteen miles farther, to which the troop would have great
pleasure in escorting him.

[Illustration: A BISON SURROUND

The Indians would surround a herd of bison and wantonly kill every member
of it. They would cut off the hump only, leaving the rest of the carcase
for wolves and coyotes.]

"We have finished our hunting for the day, and are going home to our
camp, which is a few miles this side of the river," he said.

"Finished?" reiterated Bartlett. "Then who is going to carry the game
home?" He pointed to the carcase-crowded valley.

"Oh, _those_ are for the coyotes and wolves," said the oldest chief
contemptuously.

"Then why kill so many?"

The chief pointed to one of the blocks of meat.

"That is all that we care to eat; and just now we have no need of
hides or hoofs, so we can afford to leave those."

The meat that had been cut away was just the "hump" of the animal; the
raised portion of the withers. In his old age, Mr. Bartlett was not
surprised to hear naturalists and sportsmen bewailing the scarcity of
bisons after what he saw that day, and on many subsequent occasions.
The Indians had surrounded and slain a whole herd, with the wanton
love of destruction that the child and the savage usually display.
They were in the habit of using the horns for spear-heads, and the
hoofs to make the glue with which they fixed their arrow-points; but
here were enough horns and glue to equip a dozen regiments of
Indians--and all left to waste and rot.

The ferry was reached before dark; the Indians were rewarded with bits
of finery, and a plug or two of tobacco, and went on their way.

As the waggon neared the "Llano Estacado," Bartlett began to hear
news of redskins who might not accord him so amiable a reception. At
the Red River tributary of the Mississippi, he was told that several
American travellers had been murdered in the valleys and passes by
Apaches, who were popularly supposed to be a sort of hired assassins
of the Mexicans at this time. The tidings did not sound encouraging,
but he had now travelled through about twelve hundred miles of Indian
territory without encountering so much as an angry word or a petty
theft, and he was not prepared to go out of his way on account of a
mere rumour.

He had scarcely crossed the first part of the hill-ridge that encloses
the celebrated Llano, when his waggon broke down without the least
warning. Tools were got out and the damage examined, and the axle-bar
of the hind wheels was found to be so injured as to necessitate
repairs that would take a good deal of time.

Jim, the black, had just unharnessed the horses, and was pegging them
down, when one of the teamsters reported a small batch of Apaches
overtaking them, as though they might have followed the waggon from a
distance.

"I see they all have muskets," commented Bartlett. "That doesn't look
promising. We must make as big a show as we can. Here you, Jim; you
must pretend to be mending the waggon, and we others will stand by and
look as innocent as we can--but with guns and pistols ready."

The negro's courage was not remarkable, and this was a very
satisfactory means of keeping him out of the way, for he would be
perfectly happy under the waggon; the teamsters, on the other hand,
were men who had been through the recent war, and cared no more for
Indians than they did for Mexicans. They and Bartlett picked up their
guns, taking care to hold them as unconcernedly and inoffensively as
possible; but at the same time keeping a sharp eye on the horsemen,
and prepared to fire the moment they saw any of them inclined to take
a preliminary shot at them by way of greeting.

Perhaps this attitude disconcerted the redskins; perhaps they had had
no evil intentions from the beginning; at any rate, they rode up
harmlessly enough, asked what was the matter, and offered to act as
guides if the travellers would give them a little powder and tobacco.
While the teamsters betook themselves to the repairs, Bartlett talked
with the Apaches, questioned them about the way, and told them
smoothly but decisively that he could not part with any ammunition,
though he would give tobacco and some scarlet cloth. The cloth was
received rapturously, and, as soon as the waggon was mended, the
procession moved on, the Apaches proving very satisfactory and
friendly guides.

At parting, Bartlett gave the chief--who, by the way, called himself
"Mangus Colorado"--an old overcoat, and his delight, his pride, and
his antics forthwith convulsed the beholders. Months afterwards, while
scouring the valley of the Rio Grande with Captain Buford and his
dragoons, who were hunting for Indian horse-thieves, the Commissioner
came across Mangus again; he was still wearing the overcoat, though
it was a stifling day, and though he had, all his life, gone naked as
far as the waist.

The guides left the waggon at the beginning of the El Paso road,
whence, though the way was rough and sometimes nearly impassable,
there could be no difficulty in finding the city. On the evening of
the following day, Bartlett, hearing gunshots close at hand, sent a
teamster forward to reconnoitre. The man soon came running back; some
Apaches were besieging a wayside inn, he said. He mounted to his place
and the horses were whipped up to the gallop.

"The more show and noise we make, the better," remarked the driver as
he reached for his gun.

As soon as they were past a belt of boulders they could see what was
taking place. Twelve Indians on horseback were surrounding the house,
while, from behind a half-shuttered window, a man and a woman were
firing despairingly, though the Apaches were sheltered from their
bullets; no one but these two seemed to be about the place. As the
waggon stopped, one of the Indians got off his horse and began to
batter at the flimsy door with the stock of his gun. The second
teamster raised his rifle and fired with as much coolness as if he had
been shooting a prairie wolf, and the redskin fell dead.

"Now they'll make fools of themselves, and get between two fires.
Leastwise they 'most always do," he said.

After a moment's hesitation the Indians charged with a frightful howl
at the waggon; but, in so doing, they brought themselves in full range
of the couple who had been trying to get a shot from the window. Two
more of their number dropped, and the rest pulled up as suddenly as
they had begun their charge. Bartlett and the driver fired, wounding a
man and killing a horse.

Such a reception was more than the Apaches had bargained for or could
stand; they fired one wild, almost aimless volley which flew well
clear of the waggon, then, urging their horses forward, they spurred
past Bartlett's team like a whirlwind and disappeared.

The inn was one kept by a Mexican and his Yankee wife; and they, too,
told fearful tales of the Apaches' depredations; and were both
convinced that, but for the happy arrival of the waggon, they would
have been killed, and their house plundered and burnt.



CHAPTER XVIII

A JOURNEY TO THE GRAN CHACO


The Gran Chaco, or "great hunting-ground" of Western Paraguay, is a
land of wooded plains and little patches of primeval forest, about
which astonishingly little is known even to-day. White men have never
yet explored more than the fringe of it, and it was to an Englishman
that the honour fell of being the first European in a period of forty
years to venture into the unknown region, as well as of proceeding
farther through it than any of his predecessors had done. This was in
1853, when Mansfield made his celebrated journey up the Paraguay
River.

Charles Blachford Mansfield, the dearly loved friend of Kingsley,
Maurice, Carlyle, and other great thinkers of a bygone generation, was
one of those men whose physical bravery and spirit of enterprise are
hidden from all but close observers by the shyness natural to a
scholar, and by the gentle earnestness of a man who takes life very
seriously. While travelling down the South American coast from
Pernambuco to Buenos Ayres, he incidentally heard much talk of this
mysterious hunting-ground from his fellow-passengers; but he no sooner
hinted at his desire to see it than he brought a hail of ridicule on
himself. Who but an Englishman would think of trying to go where the
Paraguayans themselves dared not venture?

The same doubts or ridicule assailed him when he spoke of his
intention to the Spanish skipper of the river steamer on which he took
a passage from Buenos Ayres to Corrientes.

"Ask the crew, Señor; some of them are of Indian blood; they will tell
you all about the Paraguay," said he scornfully.

To the quiet scientist, whose pursuits kept him mainly among people of
his own social standing, this crew was something of a revelation:
Zambos, blacks, Mestizos, Italians, Spaniards, most of them as dirty
and lazy and insubordinate as they were high. The negroes and whites
had never been farther up than Corrientes, but some of the half-bloods
had been as far as Asuncion, and these said unhesitatingly that even
if the Englishman could get canoemen to take him up the Paraguay to
the capital, every inch of the way was dangerous on account of the
uncivilised Guaranis; and that--supposing he reached Asuncion
alive--he would not be permitted to enter upon the Chaco.

"Take me as far as Corrientes and I will be responsible for the rest,"
said Mansfield. "At least I can but try."

The voyage up the Parana was monotonous, for the boat was seldom close
enough to either bank to admit of more than a confused view of the
country, and the solitary Englishman was relieved when the two days'
journey came to an end. On the second morning, when he went on deck
the boat was making a stop, and he profited by it to slip off shirt
and trousers and take a cool, delicious header into the river. Coming
to the surface again he glanced up at the steamer, for the crew were
all screaming one against the other; a charitable Zambo was heaving
him a life-belt which (on finding that there were no objectionable
reptiles anywhere near him) he laughingly refused. He had his swim,
swarmed up a rope, and reached the deck again.

"Did I not say he was possessed, or mad?" he overheard the skipper
growl in Spanish.

"What made the Señor do that?" asked the friendly Zambo soothingly.

"For pleasure, _amigo_; and in order to be clean. In my country it is
the custom to have a cold bath or a swim every morning."

The half-breed turned away, tapping his forehead gravely, and
communicated this piece of news to the white men, who seemed even more
astounded. Wash? What _for_, in the name of all the fiends? They had
scarcely ever heard of such an operation.

In Corrientes, Mansfield whiled away a few days in trying to obtain
further information about the Chaco; but without much success. The
civic authorities, from whom he had first to gain permission to move
any higher up the river, made little demur; privately they thought the
town would be well rid of a wandering maniac. They told him that he
might possibly find Indian canoemen who would take him to Asuncion,
though he would be almost the first Englishman who had ever been
there; but that he must assume entire responsibility for such a
venture; they would offer no hindrance, but no help either.

As luck would have it, while he was loitering on the jetty one
evening, a large canoe, manned by four Indians and laden with oranges
and plantains, ran alongside. That they did not belong to these parts
was evidenced by their great size, their strange dress and easy
motions, and by the number of native words with which their Spanish
was interlarded. A crowd of buyers gathered round them, and their
cargo was very soon disposed of; indeed, the townsfolk seemed only too
anxious to let them do their business and take themselves off again,
the brawny forest-giants being about as welcome here as Genseric's
Vandals were in Rome.

When the crowd had dispersed, Mansfield approached the Indians and
asked if they were going up the river again. They stared at him, more
in wonder than in ill-humour.

"Yes," said one of them at last. "To-morrow." (No one in South America
ever yet did anything "to-day"; has not _mañana_ fever become a
byword?)

"I want to come with you. I will pay you well, if you will take me and
my luggage up to Asuncion."

The savages hesitated, muttered among themselves, and at length one
remarked half-sulkily that it was a long journey; nearly two hundred
miles. The Señor was doubtless in a hurry, and speaking for themselves
they objected to being hurried. They would want to kill deer to take
back with them; perhaps to catch fish as well. Mansfield said that
that would be no objection, and, in the end, they agreed to set off
with him in the morning.

Their respect for the stranger increased somewhat when, the next day,
his luggage appeared, and was found to contain a very excellent
double-barrelled gun; they themselves had only spears and bows, and
were inclined to pooh-pooh firearms except for fighting. Who ever saw
a gun kill a manatee, they asked; or a cayman, or even an inia
(fresh-water dolphin)? The boat pushed off and swung rapidly round the
bend of the river, and out of sight of civilisation. Then the
Englishman began to cultivate his crew's acquaintance. Physically they
formed a striking contrast to any of the town Indians he had seen; all
were naked but for a waist-cloth of deer-skin; their hair, done in
either one or two plaits, reached almost to their heels, though not
one of them was under six feet three. At first they were very reserved
with their employer, but when, treating them like children, he began
to distribute sweet cakes and other confectioners' ware, such as they
had never beheld, their tongues were loosed, one topic led to another,
and they soon forgot to be shy or suspicious.

On the first day they showed no disposition to stop or land till
night-time, and as they hugged the left bank all the way, Mansfield
had the advantage of seeing what was to be seen without the delays
that he had anticipated. Whatever else happened on this hazardous
journey, starvation would surely be kept at a distance, for in that
vast forest through which the Paraguay runs, are no less than four
hundred and fifty varieties of birds, from eagles to creatures the
size of a thumb-nail, together with deer innumerable; while the fish
in the stream almost plead to be caught. Mansfield already knew enough
of the climate to be aware that, even in summer, when the sun has
gone in, warm coverings are necessary; and he had supplied himself
with a pair of good blankets, thinking that he would be expected to
sleep in the canoe. But, at sundown, the Indians ran inside a tiny
creek and three of them took up their bows and arrows, while the
fourth clambered up the bank, spear in hand. Mansfield started to ask
questions, but was immediately frowned into silence.

The Indian disappeared behind a thick curtain of bush and creeper, and
was followed by one of his friends, who stood on the bank within
sight; while the other two remained in the boat, standing like
beautiful copper statues, their bows bent, their eyes fixed on the
trees or the bank. After a little rustling behind this natural
curtain, there came the sharp click of a flint and, a little later,
the crackling of burning grass; but not till a great burst of smoke
arose, followed by a roaring flare, did the other Indians drop their
weapons.

"That will keep the jaguars away," said one of them. "They come down
to drink just about this time."

"Were you afraid that one of them might spring out on your comrade?"
asked Mansfield.

"Who knows? It is not only they that have to be guarded against. Do
you hear that noise? That is a puma; ocelots sometimes will spring
upon us from a tree; a tapir will attack us if her young one is with
her. And what of the snakes and the alligators?"

"Then why land at all for sleeping?"

The Indians shivered. "Have you never heard of water-boas? The
Paraguay is full of them; by day they rarely come up; but at night!
Come; our fire is big now; we are going to moor the boat and land."

When he got ashore, the traveller found that a whole bush formed the
substance of the fire; a little dry grass had been laid to the
windward side of it, and the bush, being of a resinous nature, soon
flared up like an oil-barrel. The fire-maker was returning from
collecting fuel, and had both arms full of fallen wood, with which he
banked up a solid fire before the bush could roar itself out. The
Englishman had his own opinion on the wisdom of lighting fires in such
overgrown spots, and was not surprised when, during that river
journey, they passed many patches--some over a hundred acres in
extent--where almost every tree had been consumed by some recent
conflagration.

"So there are water-serpents here, are there?" he asked as they seated
themselves as near to the fire as was consistent with comfort.

"Yes; some of them thirty feet long, or even forty. They will
sometimes upset a whole canoe, or will lift a man out of his seat
and drag him to the bottom." This may or may not be an Indian
exaggeration, but it is certainly a fact that the anaconda and his
many brethren in the Paraguay make no trouble of carrying off a calf
or small deer that has come down to drink.

"To-morrow we must kill something," said another Indian as he
unwrapped a slab of _carne seca_, or dried beef, from a strip of grass
matting. "This is all that is left. See after the water, one of you."

A redskin had brought a great pot full of water from the river, and
this he wedged nicely on the fire where the ashes were the most
solid. Mansfield sighed; were they going to make chocolate, a drink
which he loathed? By the time the beef was eaten, together with the
French bread which the explorer had brought as a special luxury for
his guides, the water boiled; and it transpired that they were not
going to drink chocolate, for one of the men produced from a bag a
great handful of dry, curled leaves, whipped the pot off the fire and
dropped the leaves into it, stirring the whole vigorously with a
stick.

The leaves were the _yerba maté_--generally abbreviated to _maté_--or
Paraguay ilex; a sort of holly which occupies exactly the same
position among the South Americans as tea does with the Chinese.
Another Indian cut five hollow stalks of a plant that looked to the
scientist suspiciously like hemlock; but he supposed the man knew what
he was doing, and accepted the one that was offered to him. As soon as
the decoction was sufficiently stirred, the redskins thrust their
stalks into the almost boiling liquid and began to suck greedily at
it. Mansfield took his place in the circle round the pot when its
contents had cooled somewhat, and found it exceedingly refreshing,
though rank and bitter to anyone not used to it. But as he drank more
freely, he became aware that, like many other good things, it may
become a curse instead of a blessing to a man; for he soon found
himself growing drowsy under its influence; but the Indians, more
accustomed to it, were equal to his share as well as their own, and
emptied the pot unmovedly. On later occasions he saw natives quite
stupid or unconscious through over-indulgence in the beverage.

He rolled himself in his blankets and was soon asleep; but he was
awakened at daybreak by the ceaseless chatter of the monkeys in the
trees overhead. The Indians were already astir, packing up their
weapons and cooking-utensils, and showing generally that this was the
most energetic period of the day with them. The most noticeable
feature of their behaviour now was that they had become as careless
and bold as, over night, they had been vigilant and calculating; and
this point perhaps marks more strongly than any other the difference
between the Indians north and south of the Mexican frontier. The
attacks in the dark, the night marches so common among the northern
redskins, are almost unknown in the south and centre; and in all
likelihood this has arisen from the comparative scarcity of nocturnal
animals in the north. For one square mile of the Amazon contains more
animals of the cat tribe than a hundred miles of the Mississippi, and
the only beasts likely to be abroad after dark, apart from a few
pumas, are the wolves, of which the North American Indian has no
fear.

Mansfield and two of the guides had got into the canoe, when those on
the bank held up each a warning hand and fitted an arrow to his bow. A
rustling noise came from among the trees and a very graceful though
short-legged deer came bounding from between them. No deer ever moved
at such a speed unless frightened or pursued, and the Englishman was
not surprised to see a dark-skinned animal rise from the ground some
few feet behind the fugitive and fall full on its back with a snarling
roar that a good-sized lion could scarcely have beaten. A confident
smile played over the faces of the Indians in the boat, who took no
more notice of the slayer than they would have done of a rabbit.

[Illustration: STOCKING THE LARDER

As they watched from the canoe a graceful deer darted out of the thicket
closely pursued by a full-grown jaguar. No sooner had he slain his prey
than the two Indians coolly approached and planted one arrow in his neck
and another in his ribs, and while one of them dragged away the carcase
of the deer, the other put an end to the jaguar with his spear.]

"Why should not the _tigre_ save us the trouble of hunting?" said one,
disdaining all pretence at silence.

Just then the roar was repeated, this time more ear-splitting than
before; the yell of a beast in great pain. Mansfield peered
through the bushes and saw the Guaranis walking in very leisurely
manner towards the place where the deer had fallen. Almost as its
assailant--a full-grown male jaguar--put an end to its struggles
by taking the head between its immense paws and breaking the neck,
two arrows had pierced him simultaneously; one through the ribs and
the other through the neck, and the howl which the watchers in the
boat had heard was his last.

The taller of the Indians dragged the deer's carcase free, while his
companion contemptuously drove his spear-blade into the expiring
jaguar, and the venison was quickly butchered and brought in triumph
to the canoe. The two hunters chuckled as they got into the boat; they
had now enough food for to-day's needs and meant to take it easy:
another difference between the Indian who lives within the tropics and
him who lives outside; only hunger or strict business will prompt the
one to exert himself to go a-hunting; the other is a sportsman born.

No event worth chronicling befell the little crew till, a day or two
later, they were within ten miles of Asuncion. The canoemen were
dipping their paddles lazily, and Mansfield himself was inclined to
doze, for it was getting towards the middle of the day, when a
horrified whisper, which he could not catch, passed from mouth to
mouth. In an instant the Guaranis threw off their lethargy, and the
explorer saw that a look of terror had come into every eye; the
paddles flew through the water, the men straining till the sweat
streamed down their faces, and till their veins swelled as though they
must burst.

He spoke encouragingly to them, but obtained no answer; the Indians
only paddled the faster, till their panic began to communicate itself
to him; for it is always the unknown that is most terrifying. Two
minutes passed, and they did not abate their speed or answer the
questions put to them. Surely it could not be anything so very awful,
for, only ten minutes before, a schooner-rigged vessel had overtaken
them on its way up the river; whatever the peril was, she seemed to
have escaped it. Mansfield had known what danger was, for he had
worked like a hero among the poor of South London during the cholera
outbreak of five years before; but, when the third minute had passed,
he found that the suspense was becoming unbearable. A minute is a
short time, but those who have passed through great danger or
uncertainty know that it can sometimes seem like a week.

"Well; now what was it?" he asked, breaking into a laugh as the men,
uttering exclamations of relief, rested on their paddles and wiped
their brows.

"Hornets!"

"_Hornets?_"

"You laugh, Señor. God help us if they had followed us. Did you not
hear their murmurings? Some fiend-begotten monkey had disturbed their
nest; 'tis to be hoped he has got his reward. Two of my brothers were
stung to death last year in less than a minute by a swarm of them; and
there is a man of our tribe who is stone-blind through them."

                  *       *       *       *       *

Asuncion is, to-day, a town of only forty-five thousand inhabitants,
and had not then half that number. With the exception of W. P.
Robertson and a few other bold traders, Charles Mansfield was probably
the only Englishman who had then set foot inside it. He made it his
head-quarters for the next two and a half months, and, during that
time, made various excursions into the Gran Chaco.

On one occasion he joined a party of Indians who were going out there
deer-hunting; and, though there was nothing specially new to him in
their methods, he was enabled to examine the country under favourable
circumstances. No doubt there was something in the report of its
inhabitants being dangerous; for the men with him were hardy, fearless
fellows, well used to bearing arms; and even these would not attempt
to reach the more distant of the inhabited regions.

To him the hunting was more wearisome than agreeable, for it consisted
mainly in crawling along on hands and knees mile after mile--so it
seemed--till the sportsmen were within bowshot of a herd, which
promptly fled before a single arrow could be launched at them. The
crawling began again, and in course of time another or the same herd
was reached, and these fled at the first discharge of arrows. The
carcases were collected and hidden, and the creeping was begun afresh,
but no more herds were overtaken. Then the Indians had recourse to a
very common though unsportsmanlike dodge; they concealed themselves,
shortly before sundown, by a river where, as the wind was, the deer
would not scent them when they came down their usual path to the
water. But, further disappointment, a thunderstorm came on, the deer
spent the night under the trees, and the Indians went home disgusted.

With the practical eye of a real philanthropist, Mr. Mansfield noted
all the advantages of this great and fertile hunting-ground--or as
much of it as he was able to see. He returned to England full of a
great project for colonising the Chaco and educating the Indians--a
scheme which was never carried out. For, only a few months later,
while he was performing a chemical experiment, a naphtha-still
ignited; and, while pluckily trying to throw it into the street to
save the house from catching fire, he sustained injuries which caused
his death, at the early age of thirty-six.



CHAPTER XIX

AMONG THE SERIS OF MEXICO


It is a fact generally acknowledged throughout the American continent,
that the Indian population have never yet failed to take advantage of
war, revolution, or other political crises among the white settlers,
to make themselves more than usually troublesome. From 1810 to 1867,
Mexico went through a troublous period of rebellion and warfare; which
is another way of saying that, for fifty-seven years, the Mexican
Indians saw themselves at liberty to plunder and slay without the
least fear of organised opposition; and judging from the account given
by the German-Polish traveller, Gustav von Tempsky, they seem to have
made use of their opportunity.

After three years' residence in California, Herr von Tempsky, with an
American friend, Dr. Steel, took ship from San Francisco to Mazatlan,
intending to explore the southern spurs of the Sierra Madre, and to
return to the States overland. This was in 1853-4, a time when the
Government, such as it was, had perhaps reached the summit of its
helplessness; which will explain why, on arriving at Mazatlan, the
travellers found plenty of counsellors ready to confirm the advice
they had heard in California: "Keep out of Mexico, if you value your
lives."

Not to be deterred by mere hearsay, the two friends hired mules and
guides, and at once set out eastwards, far more anxious to escape to
the highlands from the tropical heat of Mazatlan, than apprehensive of
interference from Indians. Yet, as the country grew lonelier and more
rugged, the mules less tractable and the guides less self-confident,
the journey certainly began to lose some of the romantic charm which,
from a safe distance, it had promised to possess; and when, towards
nightfall of the third day's march, a tropical thunderstorm suddenly
burst upon them, and the Mexican guides announced that the nearest
shelter was at a hill village ten miles distant, both the adventurers
found themselves thinking wistfully of the cosy steamer which they had
recently left. Those ten miles seemed like a hundred; the rain
continued to fall like a cataract; a baggage-mule took to flight and
had to be pursued; then the animal ridden by the doctor got his
forefeet in a hole, and for some time refused to move; and, by way of
a little further diversion, the guides began to quarrel among
themselves as to the precise direction in which the village lay.

The end of the journey came at last, however, but not the end of their
annoyances. As the drenched men came within a stone's-throw of half a
dozen feeble lights for which they had been making, they heard an
excited buzz of voices, and, without warning, a dozen or more guns
were fired in their direction. A baggage-mule dropped screaming from a
skin wound on the shoulder, and one bullet passed so close to the
doctor's head that the broad brim of his _sombrero_ was perforated.

"Back, everybody," shouted one of the guides. "It is an Indian
ambuscade. They are firing from shelter, and we can do nothing."

But von Tempsky had caught the sound of something which gave him a
little comfort; to wit, an expression in French from one of the
shooters.

"Who are you?" he shouted in French.

The reply was in the same language. "Halt there; stay where you are
and let us know your business."

"Do you think we want to stop here to get soaked a little more?"
shouted Dr. Steel, urging on his mule before his friend had had time
to frame an explanation. "Come along; we guessed they were Indians,
and they paid us the same compliment."

The volley was not repeated; but a crowd of men with rifles and
lanterns came scurrying to meet the little cavalcade; and, after some
laughter and expressions of regret, their leader began a voluble
explanation, which von Tempsky cut very short by announcing that he
and his party were wet to the skin and required shelter. Thereupon
they were ushered into the building whence the shots had been fired,
which proved to be a tumble-down inn kept by an old Frenchman.

"We have been much beset by the Seris of late," he said apologetically.
"Three times during the past fortnight have we had the village
surrounded by parties of them; and, when we heard you approach so
late at night, we naturally supposed you to be Indians."

The tavern offered little enough comfort; but provisions were
plentiful, and there was a good fire where clothes could be dried.
The tales which the _rancheros_ had to tell were certainly appalling.
Several villages had been entirely depopulated by the savages; many
inoffensive travellers had been killed, and others had escaped with
the bare life. These Seri Indians were--and even now are--a fierce,
intractable people, utterly different from the typical Mexican
Indians, who (the Comanches and Apaches apart) are a mild, diligent,
and strongly religious race. Mexico still possesses some fifty tribes
of redskins, most of which are subdivisions of the very ancient
Nahuatl family; but, with the exception of the three tribes just
mentioned, many of these had, before von Tempsky's time, begun to
intermarry with Europeans and settle in the towns.

At first all the guides except Jago, the leader, flatly refused to go
any farther, on hearing these gruesome stories; but when, on the next
day, a dozen of the _rancheros_ offered to accompany the party as far
as Durango, on condition that they would combine with them against any
Indians they might meet, the grumbling ceased; for no one was averse
to getting a shot at the men who, at one time or other, had robbed
every one of them of friend or property. Von Tempsky and Steel were
nothing loth, either; the one came from a country where persecution
and death were everyday matters; while the other had roughed it for
five-and-twenty years, first in the backwoods and latterly at the
Californian diggings, where it was a case of "a word and a blow--and
the blow first."

For a day or two no sign of Indians was observed, and despite the
irregularity of the road and the alarming prevalence of rattlesnakes,
the journey was not unpleasant. But on the third afternoon, as the
guide Jago was seeking to point out from a distance the village where
the company was to pass the night, he uttered a horrified exclamation,
and made the sign of the cross. At the same moment an angry hubbub
arose from the group of _rancheros_.

"What is it? What are they all looking at?" inquired von Tempsky.

"Smoke; and plenty of it," said the doctor, who was shading his eyes
with his hands.

"Ay; smoke," said Jago, who spoke English quite well. "They have burnt
another village. Let us go forward quickly, Señors."

An hour's sharp riding brought them to what, a day earlier, had been a
fertile settlement or _rancho_, but which was now nothing but a pile
of smouldering wood-ashes, round about which lay fully fifty corpses
of men, women, and children. At the sight, both guides and _rancheros_
went almost mad with indignation; and von Tempsky himself was eager to
press on immediately in pursuit of the wretches who had been guilty of
such relentless slaughter. It was then that the more phlegmatic Yankee
doctor showed the rest the value of a cool and calculating head.

"See here, boys," he said in his best Spanish, when he could make his
voice heard above the howls and oaths of vengeance; "I reckon a
redskin's a redskin, whether he hails from here or 'way north. _I'd_
got no quarrel with these particular vermin, till I saw _this_. Now I
fought Indians before some of you were born; and I'll do it again if
you'll let me. But there'll have to be none of this tear-away sort of
game that some of you are after. Will you make me captain? You can
soon turn me out of it again if you're not satisfied."

The _rancheros_ wavered for a moment. Why obey a perfect stranger, who
knew neither the country nor the Seris? But the look of simple
honesty, yet of bull-dog determination and pluck, in the man's face,
gave confidence even to the most hesitating.

"Very good, Señor Doctor; we will obey you."

"They mean they'll _try_, poor fellows," said Steel, in English, to
von Tempsky. "They don't know what discipline is."

By his orders, mules and horses were ungirthed, and while he, Jago,
and the oldest of the _rancheros_ made a careful examination of the
first mile of the track left by the murderers, the others lay down to
rest and eat.

"They have crossed the ridge," said Steel when he rejoined his
fellow-traveller. "We'll all of us take four hours' rest now. It'll be
no real delay. Those rascals are fifty miles away by this time, as
like as not; perhaps a hundred, for these poor souls have been dead a
good many hours. We needn't worry; we shall come up with them later;
or with more like them, who'll have to pay for this picnic."

The doctor was probably not exaggerating the distance covered by the
Seris. The youngsters of the tribe were put on a horse as soon as they
could straddle him; their only toys were bows and arrows, and the
generally Spartan upbringing which all underwent enabled them to ride
or march or fight for a whole day without food or rest. Large bodies
of Seris or Comanches would move a hundred and thirty miles in a day.

Stifling their impatience as well as they could, the avenging party
waited till the four hours had expired; then all set off on their
mountain climb, though darkness would be coming on almost immediately.
Half a mile from the top of the ridge, von Tempsky was seen to spring
from his saddle and make a dash at some dark object that lay in the
shelter of a rock. Before he had reached it, however, a scuffling,
clattering sound arose near him, and a horse, saddled but riderless,
struggled to his feet. The others halted.

"Show a light some of you; I've got him," shouted von Tempsky.
"But--why, the man's dead!"

Jago dismounted, and, striking a light, revealed the pallid face of a
Mexican, who lay with an arrow through his back. Von Tempsky, who had
been the only one of the riders to notice the recumbent figure, had
imagined it to be that of an Indian spy or sentinel, and had at once
made a grab at his throat, only to find the body stiff and quite
cold.

"One more score against them," cried the doctor. "Ride on."

They travelled all night and till long after daybreak, without meeting
or seeing anyone; and at length Steel called another halt for a few
hours. Presently, as he and von Tempsky sat chatting, the latter drew
his attention to a body of mounted men riding slowly across their
projected path, a couple of miles away.

"We've got them this time," said Steel, jumping up.

"Those are not Indians, Señor," said Jago.

"Tch! Look at their spears, man."

"I do. They are our Mexican lancers. There; do you not hear their
bugle?"

A faint note or two from some brass instrument was carried to them by
the wind.

"All right; mount," cried the doctor. "We'll have a look at them,
anyway."

They had not gone more than a few hundred yards, when the new-comers
caught sight of them riding down the incline; they reined up and,
waving their lances, greeted them with jubilant shouts.

"Well--of all the scraggy-looking donkey-drivers!" exclaimed Steel in
an aside, as they came up with the "lancers." There were about eighty
of them, all more or less in rags, each man armed with a lance, a very
rusty sabre, and a carbine. In their midst, two men held their lances
aloft, each spear-point being decorated with the head of an Indian.
The men were hearty-looking, happy-go-lucky ruffians, brave as need
be, but woefully undisciplined, and out of gear generally. After one
glance at them, von Tempsky no longer wondered that many an
Englishman, Irishman, Scot, or Yankee who would think himself lucky if
he ever rose to the rank of sergeant, at home, could here become a
field-marshal or an admiral in half an hour. For the Mexico of those
days was, like the southern republics, a happy hunting-ground for
foreign soldiers of fortune.

"And they send _these_ fellows to put down an Indian rising!" he
muttered to the doctor; adding aloud, in Spanish: "Is that all you
have killed? Who is your officer?"

The lancers grinned. No; they had killed at least thirty, out of some
two hundred. Officer? H'm! Nobody was quite sure. The two men with the
heads were _supposed_ to be something in that line; but really they
couldn't say for certain.

"All right; pray go on. I and my troop will follow you," said Steel.

There was one advantage in having fallen in with these ragamuffins;
two at least of their number were half-bloods, with eyes like hawks
for a trail; and this put an end to all doubt as to the way which must
be followed now that the plain was reached. Some of the lancers had
more terrible tales of the Indians to add to what the travellers
already knew. A priest and a farmer had been murdered two days before;
and, only that morning, three ladies had been found speared to death
near an _estancia_ (farm).

The track wound in serpentine fashion, now skirting a town, now going
straight through a _rancho_ whence the occupants had fled. By late
afternoon the pursuers were within half a dozen miles of Durango; but
here the track--more visible than ever now, in the long grass to which
they had come--broke away at an obtuse angle, towards the more hilly
ground on their right. The doctor pulled up, and he and von Tempsky
began to confer with the soldiers. Horses and mules and men were all
jaded, urged Steel; and the trail might lead them on through another
all-night journey; and to no purpose. Why not ride for the town, take
a short rest, and beat up recruits?

The question was being argued and re-argued, when a series of
whistles, followed by one concerted and unearthly yell, proceeded from
the hills; and, like a pack of wolves, the Indians for whom they had
been hunting came charging down the slope; full three hundred of
them, stark naked, their bodies painted scarlet and black, their hair
and their horses decked with feathers. Steel looked glumly at his own
little army. Oh for a couple of dozen well-armed men who had learned
the virtues of obedience and combination!

"You lancers prepare to receive their charge," he shouted; and
motioned to his own men to draw off and be ready to attack the Seris
in the rear. He was obeyed indifferently; further urged by von Tempsky
and Jago, the guides and _rancheros_ were wheeling slowly northwards;
but the lancers were evidently more than half minded to charge
wholesale at the oncoming savages.

It is proverbial that the greater the pain or the danger or the
suspense, the more readily a man finds time to notice minute detail
that has little or nothing to do with the matter in hand. Steel
observed, on this occasion--though the yelling mob was within
thirty yards of him--that apparently not a man of them was under six
feet in height; that every man sat his horse as though he were a part
of it, and that each carried a spear, bow, and quiver, and also a
trumpery-looking round shield, studded with bits of brass, shell, and
looking-glass. As he had half anticipated, the savages suddenly
changed their tactics on reaching the hill foot, and wheeled
sharply towards the smaller force.

"Lancers, charge, the moment our volley's fired," shouted the doctor.
"Fire!--Charge! _Charge_, you thick-headed clod-hoppers, can't you?--O
Lord!" His voice died away in a disheartened little groan.

For the lancers might so easily have had it all their own way; at
least twenty redskins had fallen before the carbines of the
_rancheros_, and clearly the rest were surprised and confused. Yet
there sat these intelligent lancers, their spears in rest, calmly
unslinging their carbines for a volley that was quite as likely to
hurt their own side as the enemy.

"Can't be helped now," said the doctor to his followers. "Blaze away
at them as best you can."

There were no quick-firing magazine-rifles in those days, and with the
exception of von Tempsky and Steel, who had each a couple of
revolvers, every man was armed with a muzzle-loader; but necessity had
long been the mother of invention with the _rancheros_, as with the
trappers and the Gauchos. Wads were dispensed with; a generous pinch
of powder was thrown into the barrel, and each man had his mouth full
of bullets, ready to spit one after the powder; a cap was hastily
stuck on the pin and everyone was ready for another volley. But even
as it was fired, a shower of arrows was launched at each troop, and
many a man dropped forward in his saddle. Already the boot was on the
other leg; it was the whites who were confused now, while the Indians
had recovered their coolness; and, with a discord of howls, they
swiftly separated into two parts, one preparing to charge at each
white division.

"Pull yourselves together!"--"Die like men!" cried Steel and von
Tempsky respectively, as, abandoning their bridles and with a revolver
in each hand, they rode straight to meet the charge; while one half of
the lancers fled, and the other half sought to cut a way through their
assailants and rejoin the _rancheros_.

The doctor fired off six shots into the front rank as the two forces
met, and four Indians fell dead; but his own mule dropped under him,
transfixed by a spear.

"Here you are; mount," bawled von Tempsky in his ear, just when, in
imagination, he was already being trampled down by the Indians'
horses.

The ready-witted Pole had sent a bullet into the head of the redskin
nearest him, and as he fell, had caught the bridle of his horse. The
old backwoodsman, active as a cat, sprang to the horse's back, and the
next moment was emptying his second revolver into the faces of the
enemy. Meanwhile, the lancers fought furiously but spasmodically.
Their lances could not avail them against the war-hatchets of the
savages; and while one half clubbed their carbines, the other made but
fruitless play with their sabres, seeking at the same time to drown
the howls of the Indians with their own.

But suddenly, when the fight was at its hottest, and when the issue
was very much in the balance, a cry of dismay broke from one batch of
redskins, who, pointing towards Durango, began to wheel round with the
obvious intention of taking flight.

"Help is coming," cried Jago encouragingly; and, looking back for an
instant, Steel saw about forty men, splendidly mounted, and coming up
at a gallop from the direction of the town. The second division of the
enemy followed the example of the first, and turned to flee. The forty
strangers, without uttering a word as they swept past, dashed in
pursuit, firing while still at the gallop. It was vain for the Indians
to goad their tired horses; those of the rescuing party were fresh.
Before they had gone a mile they were overtaken, and Steel, who had
followed as best he could, heard a voice cry in English:

"No quarter; they don't deserve mercy. If we take prisoners, the
Mexicans will torture them to death."

In a few minutes there was not an Indian left alive; every man of the
fugitives had fallen before the ceaseless shower of bullets poured
into their ranks by the strangers.

The very sort of men for whom Steel had been longing had come; forty
of the Texan mounted militia, who had been sent down-country to treat
for mules, had put themselves at the disposal of the Durango police
for the suppression of the Indian hordes; and on this, as on
subsequent occasions, the punishment which they served out was so
terrible that the redskins fled south and east, or hid in the hills,
and for a year or two, at least, little was heard of their attacking
either travellers or homesteads.



CHAPTER XX

A HOLIDAY AMONG THE OJIBEWAS


We have already spoken, in Chapter VIII, of the Algonquin branch of
the red race. This vast family, comprising Ojibewas, Shawnees, Crees,
Araphoes, Blackfeet, etc., once owned practically the whole of South
Canada, as well as the eastern portion of the States as far down as
Kentucky. The territory peculiar to the Ojibewas ran in a rough curve
from Saratoga to Winnipeg, and round about the lake district; but as
the construction of the railway from New York to Montreal seemed to
establish the definite claim of the white men, the Indians retreated
farther north, some taking service under the farmers, or settling down
to farm for themselves; others wandering in what was left of the
prairie and forest land, and turning an occasional dishonest penny by
robbing unprotected travellers.

When Charles Richard Weld made his tour from Boston into and through
Southern Canada in 1854, only a part of the railway was made, and the
greater portion of the journey had to be accomplished by coach, by
canoe, or on horseback. Mr. Weld (who must not be confused with Isaac
Weld, the explorer, his half-brother) was a barrister and literary
man, in whom a close personal friendship with many great travellers,
including Sir John Barrow and Sir John Franklin, had bred a strong
ambition to see the world and make discoveries on his own account. But
a busy man, who adds to his other duties the secretaryship of the
Royal Society, must perforce stay at home, and it was not till 1850,
when he was a man of thirty-seven, that he saw his way to travelling;
and that only by devoting the long vacation of each year to visiting
some special quarter of the globe.

It was while journeying northwards on this railway that he encountered
his first real "sight," which was a prairie-fire: a swiftly-moving
mass of flame and smoke that rolled almost up to the very rails,
making the occupants of the cars feel as though they were in an oven.
The fire raged for a good many days, for long after Weld had left the
railroad and transferred himself to the coach for Lake George, he
could still see the smoke and flare in the distance.

The major part of the coach-route lay along a plank road, bounded on
either side by miles of monotonous prairie, or by dark patches of
pine-wood, where squirrels, deer, and red foxes abounded. The "coach"
was an open arrangement--a _char-à-bancs_, in fact; and Mr. Weld's
travelling companions consisted of three farmers, a couple of French
trappers, a wheezy old Irishwoman and her two granddaughters. On the
last stage of the journey, when they were within a few miles of the
lake-shore, the Englishman's attention was attracted by the driver to
a dark mass that was moving rapidly through the long grass, towards
the road.

"Injuns; see em?"

About a score of Ojibewas in full war-dress were riding at the top of
their speed, with the apparent intention of cutting off the vehicle.

"Well; I suppose they won't hurt _us_?" said Weld.

The coachman whipped up his horses. "I reckon they hadn't better."

As nobody seemed in the least alarmed, the tourist watched the
approach of the Indians rather with interest than with anxiety.
Nevertheless, as the redskins, on coming within a hundred yards,
suddenly set up an inharmonious howling, and brandished spears or
tomahawks, he thought it time to produce and examine his revolver.
Just then the horses were pulled up short, and the driver took from
beneath his feet a very workmanlike double-barrelled gun; and, looking
round him, Weld saw that the other men were doing the same; while even
the old woman and the two girls, albeit without a sign of undue
excitement, had each brought out a revolver from her reticule.

"That's the way to let 'em have it," said the driver, having fired off
both barrels at the advancing mob. Before a second gun could be fired,
the whole troop had wheeled about, and were riding away as quickly as
they had come. The coachman reloaded as though nothing unusual had
happened, put away his rifle, and started the horses again.

"Biggest cowards on the yearth," he mumbled to Weld. "That was only a
couple o' charges o' birdshot I give 'em. Bless ye, we know 'em by
heart now. Years ago they'd put-up a mail, and tomahawk everybody; but
nowadays they seem to run away as soon as they see a gun. If there'd
only been you an' me, or nobody but women, they'd ha' tried to bluff
_something_ out of us, if 'twas only a keg o' spirits, or a bit of
tobacker; but half a dozen men'll frighten the lives out of 'em. One
time o' day they'd send a charge of arrows first; but they're shy of
that if they see any rifles waiting for 'em."

This was Weld's first and only experience of an Indian assault, for
the few wild tribes with which he came in contact were quite
disorganised, had lost confidence in their traditional weapons of war,
and had as yet a wholesome horror of gunpowder. But this absence of
hostilities enabled him to get a good insight into Ojibewa forest and
river life, and afforded him plenty of interesting adventure where
hunting was concerned. At the lake-side inn, where he stayed for a few
days, the host invited him to attend an Ojibewa rattlesnake-hunt, a
form of sport of which he had never before heard.

"What weapons must I take?" he asked before starting.

"Oh, nothing. Put a gun (revolver) in your pocket if you like," was
the careless reply.

A small party of redskins were squatting outside the inn, and seeing
that the two white men were ready to accompany them, they led the way
to a hilly and well-wooded spot, just on the eastern shore of the
lake. Weld noticed that the only arms carried by them were a knife and
a long, slender stick, and from all he had heard of the terrible
rattlesnake, this appeared a poor equipment indeed wherewith to kill
reptiles which might be any length up to eight or even ten feet. Being
prepared for a very great deal of wariness and of elaborate
preliminary on the part of the Indians, he was, of course, _not_
prepared for the entire absence of such preliminary. One of the
hunters who walked beside him stooped unconcernedly, picked up a strip
of something, gave it a shake, and put it in his game-bag.

"_He_ always seems to find the first one," remarked the innkeeper.

"The first _what_?" queried Weld. "And what on earth is this awful
stench?"

"Rattlesnake," chuckled the Yankee. "See'd him pick it up, didn't ye?
Come on; here's a chance for _you_, now.--Bah! What in the 'nation did
ye want to do _that_ for?"

For, without any hesitation, Weld had pulled out his revolver and sent
two bullets into the body of a snake which, coiled up like a wire
spring, had placed itself across a narrow path, and was rearing its
head in an uncomfortably suggestive manner.

"What did you expect me to do?" asked Weld with some impatience.

"Why, _this_.--Stand clear!"

But the Yankee was too "cocksure," as the boys say; and was only too
glad to spring back again to the side of his guest. What he had
_tried_ to do was to seize another snake by the tail and "snap" it, as
a carter cracks a whip; but the creature's mouth and poison-fangs
happened to be very much in the way just then, and the innkeeper left
the task to the more expert Ojibewas.

Now that he knew what to expect, Weld retired to a safe distance and
began to note all that took place. The overpowering smell of which he
had complained arose from the snakes themselves. The rats, rabbits,
squirrels, etc., on which they feed begin to putrefy as soon as they
are swallowed, owing to the action of the poison, and one snake is
often enough to make a whole neighbourhood intolerable.

The majority of those captured were small, averaging about three and a
half feet long, and the activity of the Indians in detecting, seizing,
and killing them was almost incredible. In most cases the snake was
lying, straight or coiled as the case might be, in the tracks usually
followed by small animals in their periodical path to the water, for
rattlesnakes are singularly slow in their movement, and so are forced
to rely more on their proverbial "wisdom." The moment one of them was
discovered it was whisked off the ground so rapidly that it seemed to
fly up; one deft jerk, or whip-like flick, dislocated its backbone and
it was dead. To an Englishman the process sounds about as sane and as
safe as lifting a bull-terrier by the tail; but the Indians did their
work unmovedly, not a man was bitten, and Weld learned later that not
once in ten years was such hunting attended with fatal results to
anyone; for should a man be bitten a rough sort of cautery, or the
sucking of the wound, together with drugs taken internally, generally
gave the lie to the popular belief that a rattlesnake's bite is
incurable.

Where a captive was inconveniently large or long, or where he refused
to uncoil himself, the savages used their sticks, either to rap him on
the head, or to "straighten-out" his coils. The object in killing was
to obtain the oil and gall, which were highly valued for medicinal
and other virtues; therefore, any blow that might wound the body was
avoided if possible. In Weld's opinion the "rattle" of the animal has
been much exaggerated by travellers; "creaking" or "rustling" would be
a better term, for the noise resembles that made by stiff paper, or
parchment, when crumpled in the hand. A few days later, when
travelling up-country by canoe, he realised that these snakes can swim
with perfect ease, for the Ojibewa guides whom he had engaged more
than once drew his attention to one of them gliding down the bank and
into the water in determined pursuit of a rat that had refused to
become a victim to its supposed (and very doubtful) powers of
fascination.

For the first time in his life, Mr. Weld now found himself completely
cut off from association with white men, for he had before him a
lonely journey by river and lake to a backwoods settlement, where an
old friend, Major Strickland, had set up a model farm. Fortunately,
one of the Ojibewas spoke English fluently, and the other three had at
least a smattering of French. Perhaps they were not remarkable for
their intelligence, save where canoeing and hunting were concerned,
but at least they were amiable, obliging, and contented.

His first acquaintance with rapids was worthy of remark, for it came
without a moment's warning or preparation. He and two Indians
travelled in one canoe, while the other two followed, in a second,
with his baggage. Weld was lying back, idly smoking, and probably lost
in admiration of the solemn, rugged beauty of the steep banks, fringed
with pine and cedar trees, when all in a moment the world seemed to
turn over and slip from under him; his head struck the gunwale
smartly, and he gradually got a dim notion that he was standing with
his back against something hard and his body at right angles to that
of the Indian in the bows, who nevertheless continued to ply his
paddle stolidly, and without a smile or a word. For a few seconds the
boat trebled her speed in some unaccountable manner, then followed
another jerk, another knock on the head, and once more he was lounging
in his former position, and the canoe moving along as before.

He now threw a glance behind him, and shuddered, for what he saw was a
sheer fall of water, apparently about sixteen feet high, studded
everywhere with ugly-looking rocks. He began an angry remonstrance
with the Indians for not having warned him, but just then a weird cry,
something between the bray of a jackass and the wail of a peacock,
echoed through the forest. One second a large white body was seen
flapping over their heads; the next, the same body lay fluttering on
the water near the boat. One of the Ojibewas had dropped his paddle
and, like lightning, sent an arrow through the noisy creature, which
turned out to be a pelican that they had disturbed from its evening
fishing.

On the following morning, as Weld was finishing his breakfast over his
camp fire, he was aroused from his meditations by one of the Indians
pointing significantly towards the thicket behind him.

"'Morning! Have you got a drop of tea left; we're thirsty," cried a
voice as he turned his head, and a second added, "Well, Peter; what
are you doing round our neighbourhood?"

The Indian who spoke English jumped up delightedly, and greeted with
much respect three strapping young fellows who suddenly stepped out
from among the bushes.

"I don't know who you are, gentlemen," said Weld as he rose to welcome
them, "but it's good to hear one's own language spoken again."

The lads introduced themselves as farm pupils of Major Strickland's,
and, leaving the Indians to bring Weld's luggage by water, they showed
him a short cut to his friend's house, which, in a straight line, was
but seven miles away.

At the farm he was surprised to find Indians performing all the
domestic offices of a civilised household, and dressed more or less in
European garb; for, tired of the ingrained laziness of negro servants,
the Major had long had all the menial work of his house and estate
done by redskins, and these, as far as Weld could see, worked
diligently and honestly. One small body of them were kept constantly
employed as hunters, and instructors in woodcraft to the pupils, and,
judging from their abilities as deer-trackers, the lads could have had
no better tutors.

An animal much coveted for the sake both of its skin and its flesh was
the _cabrit_, prong-buck, or prong-horned antelope, as it is variously
called; and the stalking of this creature was Weld's principal
amusement during his stay. In spite of frequent slaughter among them,
large herds were often to be seen in the neighbourhood, and one day no
less than a hundred carcases were brought home, to be dried for
winter food.

The hunting party on this occasion consisted of Weld, Strickland, and
six other Englishmen, together with about thirty Ojibewas, a dozen of
whom were given a start of five hours. These, leaving the farm at
daybreak, moved swiftly through the sparse forest to the hills beyond,
and started a herd of over two hundred. Taking up positions at wide
intervals from each other, the Indians succeeded in frightening and
mystifying the bucks, and gradually driving them towards the spot for
which the main body of the hunt was now making. This was some ten
miles from the farm, and so rapidly did all his companions cover the
distance, that Weld had great difficulty in keeping up with them,
though himself a strong and athletic man.

One old Ojibewa was always a few yards ahead of the party, and Weld
was instructed to watch and obey every signal made by him. Sometimes
he came to a dead halt, and the whole troop followed his example, not
so much as a whisper being uttered; then again, he would lead the way
at a good swinging pace, often talking freely and even loudly with
those behind. All of a sudden, however, he broke off his conversation;
a gun-shot had sounded from some three miles away. He held up his
hand, and everyone stood breathless. Presently he moved on again, but
more slowly, for several hundred yards, the rest gliding along in his
wake, and at last he stopped dead again. This was the most irksome, or
the most disciplinary, period of the hunt, for the tyrannical leader
kept everyone standing motionless for quite ten minutes; and when
Weld merely took out his handkerchief to mop his brow, the Indians
nearest him eyed him as reproachfully as though this were a penal
offence.

The next thing the guide did was to fall flat on his face, and each
man mechanically imitated him--except Weld, who had visions of a
dislocated shoulder, if not of a self-discharging gun, and who
consequently performed the manoeuvre by degrees.

Now that his ear was so close to the ground, he could plainly detect
the uniform tread of a large body of light-stepping animals, but he
dared not risk spoiling sport by raising his head to peer among the
tree-trunks in front of him. In a few minutes a gun went off, half a
mile to their left front, and was immediately echoed by one to the
right, and another well ahead, whereat the trampling increased in
speed and volume. Immediately the leader raised his hand to a
perpendicular, and the redskins began to crawl on, worm-fashion, in
two diverging lines. Weld started awkwardly to imitate them, but a
strong hand caught him by the ankle and held him still. Screwing his
head round, he saw that Strickland was his captor.

"Hold on," whispered the Major. "We get our fun from this side."

Another three minutes' silence followed, only broken by the tramp of
the approaching herd, slower now, and more hesitating.

"Now then; roll away or crawl away to your right, as far as you can,
and as sharp as you can; and jump up when I open fire," whispered the
old soldier, and Weld could see that, at a wave of his friend's arm,
all the Englishmen were swiftly separating. He obeyed; but by the
time he had covered a dozen yards, he became convinced that the
Indians had all gone suddenly demented, for from every direction there
arose a succession of demoniacal yells that almost drowned the
crack-crack of the rifles that now sounded on his left.

He leapt to his feet; not an Indian was in sight. The white men, all
standing up, were blazing away as hard as they could, into an immense
herd of bucks, which were falling in numbers out of all reasonable
proportion to the shots fired. Then he discovered that, from the other
three sides, the Ojibewas, lying in the long grass or crouching behind
trees, were pouring volley after volley of arrows at the bewildered
beasts, which, butting each other, were starting hither and thither,
completely panic-stricken.

"'Ware horns!" shouted the Major's son as, hurriedly butting his
rifle, he felled an antelope that had charged despairingly at him; and
very soon Weld was glad enough to follow the example, as a stout young
buck rushed, head down, in his direction.

More terrified now by the noise of the guns and the sight of the white
men than by the arrows and shouts that proceeded from the other three
points of the compass, the herd turned to flee back towards the hills.
But this was only the signal for every Indian to spring erect and
brandish his long spear. That effectually broke up the herd; the
distracted creatures squeezed a passage for themselves wherever they
could, and fled out of sight, leaving a good half of their number to
be carried back to the farm in the waggons which were now on their way
to the scene of the battue.



CHAPTER XXI

CHIPPEWYANS AND COLUMBIAN GOLD-DIGGERS


While human nature is what it is, the sudden discovery of gold in any
country must ever be the signal for all the available flotsam and
jetsam and riff-raff of society to flock to that country, in the sorry
hope of finding a shorter road to wealth than the old-fashioned one of
steady plodding.

Before mining concerns were regulated by governments or by syndicates,
the edifying spectacle of men wrangling and fighting over a claim or a
"find," like dogs over a bone, might be witnessed at any hour of the
day. Add to this the constant disturbance between the strangers and
the original inhabitants, and you have a condition of affairs which
must quickly call for some intervention by the State. This is what our
Government thought when, in 1857, the discovery of gold in British
Columbia began to lead to rioting among the miners and to petty
insurrections of the Indians of the vicinity. In order to nip such
disorders in the bud, a few troops were landed near what is now called
New Westminster, on the Fraser River, and a man-of-war, H.M.S.
_Plumper_, commanded by Captain Richards, was ordered to keep a
watchful eye on the river mouth. Rumour said that the ship had been
sent to hold the Indians in check; but Admiral Mayne, who was then
first lieutenant of the _Plumper_, tells us that it was the white
immigrants who required handling, and that, but for them, the
Columbian Indians, who had long been quiet and inoffensive, would have
confined their attentions to their fishing and farming.

One day, just at the beginning of winter, news was brought to the ship
that fighting was going on among the miners and Indians at a camp near
a small town called Yale. The _Plumper_ had a steam-launch which was
ordinarily used for river work, and an armed body of bluejackets under
Lieutenant Mayne at once put off in a large pinnace for the spot--two
miles higher up--where she was lying in dock, with the intention of
hastening to the scene of the disturbance. To the young officer's
dismay, the launch had disappeared, and, on inquiry, he learned that
Colonel Moody of the Engineers, who had been the first to hear the
news, had immediately put off in her with twenty-five men and a
howitzer. A mounted messenger was soon dispatched back to the harbour
and, in half an hour, returned with orders from the Captain, for the
firing-party to hurry after the soldiers and offer their services.

By nightfall the place was reached; a cheerless, rugged spot where the
crew had some difficulty in landing. The pinnace was made fast to the
launch, and, following the directions of the men who had been left in
charge of her, the sailors marched quickly over a hill and were soon
at the diggings.

"You've come too late," were the Engineer officer's first words. He
pointed to a group of prisoners, Indian and white, who, under the
guard of an armed picket, were making themselves comfortable for the
night. "We've had a heavy day, though," continued Colonel Moody; "and
three of my fellows have been badly wounded. Your men pretty fresh, I
suppose?"

"Quite, sir."

"Give them half an hour for supper, and then I shall want you to march
them about ten miles across country. I have guides ready for you. Come
and have something to eat, and I'll tell you all about it."

The Colonel, a subaltern, and a regimental surgeon had established
themselves in a miner's hut, and here, over a very unconventional
meal, Mayne learned what had happened. Scarcely had the soldiers put
an end to the rioting, when six Chippewyan Indians had galloped into
the camp. The miners at the next claim had fired on them, they said;
had threatened to burn their winter fodder-stacks, and meant to drive
them out of their old settlement.

"Of course, we've only heard one side," concluded Colonel Moody.
"Don't trust your guides too far, Mr. Mayne. Let one of them keep his
horse, in case you want to send me a message in a hurry, and make the
other five march between your men; they can leave their horses here."
He turned to the surgeon. "You'd better go, too, Campbell; you may be
wanted. They've a very good doctor here if we need him. Good-bye, and
good luck to you both."

The doctor buckled on his sword and Mayne collected the sailors,
placing five of the Indians in the centre, and all set off at a brisk
step. The mounted redskin led them some miles along a curving valley
and then across an open tract of country, whence they were soon able
to see the lights from some settlement.

"Is that the place?" the lieutenant asked of a redskin who spoke
intelligible English.

"Yes; we have but four miles to go now."

"There seems to be plenty of light in the place; how is that?"

The Indian did not reply, but spoke in his own language to his
neighbour.

"You don't understand them, do you?" said Campbell in a low voice.
"More do I, worse luck. They seem to be very proud of themselves all
at once. If I were you, I'd have an answer out of that chap."

The lieutenant laid his hand sharply on the redskin's naked shoulder.

"Answer the question, my friend. We don't want all that mumbling and
whispering."

The man remained sulkily silent, but the Chippewyan to whom he had
spoken, a brighter, more intelligent fellow, said:

"We are pleased because our warriors have come down from the
mountains, and are burning the town."

"Your warriors'll get hurt, if that's their game," said Mayne; and for
a while nothing more was said. But as they came nearer to the lights,
the Indians all began talking at the top of their voices, and Mayne
was obliged to call for silence. Presently the mounted redskin stopped
his horse, and a halt was called.

"We had better go back, or wait for more warriors," he said; "we are
too few."

"What are you talking about?" asked young Mayne sharply.

"It is not the white men's camp that is burning, but our own. It is
clear that our brethren have not come, as we had hoped. There are over
seventy of the miners, and you are but eighteen. They will massacre
you."

"Ride on, and hold your stupid tongue," said the sailor. But the
redskin suddenly struck his horse across the withers and would have
galloped away, but that Dr. Campbell made a deft spring and managed to
seize the thong that did duty for a bridle.

"Thanks, Doctor.--Now, my man, you get down and march with the rest."

Mayne turned to his sailors. "Can any of you lads manage a leather
jib-sheet?"

"Ay, ay; let me have her, please, sir," volunteered a young seaman.
The guide was made to dismount and the sailor began to lead the horse
in the rear. After a few minutes the Indians resumed their talk among
themselves again and--evidently taking courage from the careless
demeanour of the bluejackets--began to handle their tomahawks more or
less jubilantly, as though waxing eager to be at their enemies; so
much so that the two officers held a muttered debate. They had come
out here to make peace; but if these savages once saw themselves
backed by resolute and well-armed white men, they would never rest
till they had butchered as many of the diggers as possible. It was a
trying position for a young man who would be held responsible for
whatever evil might happen; and Mayne, though he had gone through the
Crimean War with distinction, gaining his first lieutenant's step in
the Sea of Azov, was still only a lad of twenty-two.

"What would _you_ do?" he asked.

"Disarm the jolly lot, straight away," said Campbell, who was his
senior by a few years.

Mayne halted his men, explained the position to them, and told the
Indians what he and his colleague had decided; and they, with many
grunts of dissatisfaction, gave up their arms on condition that they
should be restored if necessary for self-defence.

"You know, _this_ begins to look like business," commented the surgeon
when, within half a mile of the glaring flames, a chorus of hooting,
yelling, and singing greeted their ears.

"_I_ think it looks like advancing at the quick step," said his
companion; and he gave the order.

Very soon only a fringe of pine-trees separated them from the scene of
the tumult, and, as they reached these, three men jumped up from the
ground, and cried:

"Who the blazes are you?"

"Firing-party from H.M.S. _Plumper_."

"Then git off back to your mothers and mind your own business, afore
ye git killed," hiccupped the first, who carried a lantern in one hand
and a revolver in the other. The next moment he was lying on his back,
for Dr. Campbell had wrenched the pistol out of his hand, and, with a
single blow of his fist, had knocked him clean off his feet. The
second man put his hand in his pocket, doubtless in search of a
pistol, but, without waiting to make sure of that, Mayne had him round
the arms and waist and was soon squeezing half the breath out of his
body. The third man turned to give the alarm, but a petty-officer
sprang after him and dragged him back by his shirt-collar.

"Take away their weapons," cried Mayne as, with a smart trick of the
heel, he threw his captive violently to the ground. "No time for
prisoners.--Forward!"

A few steps more and the sailors were past the trees, and in full view
of all that was going on. And a pretty sight it was. Thirty or more
miners, many of them delirious with drink, were capering round one or
other of the fuel and fodder stacks to which they had set light;
Indians and white men, to the number of a score, lay on the ground
dead or wounded; and, beyond the stacks, was a heaving, struggling,
shrieking mob of miners and redskins, the former brandishing knives
and pickaxes, and shouting to their drunken allies to come to their
assistance; the latter spending all their savage energies in defence
of their homes and families.

A whisper of indignant disgust ran through the little knot of sailors;
a fair and square sea-fight, or even a "set-to" in a Portsmouth or
Chatham slum, was respectable in comparison with all this. The men at
the fires were the first to be aware of the new arrivals; they broke
off their dancing and, some awestruck, others bombastic, lurched
towards them.

"Halt!--Now listen to me, you sweeps, if you've got sense enough
left," cried Mayne, drawing his sword.

The wild-looking, drink-sodden crowd--English, German, French, and
Yankee--ceased their babel for a moment. But when they saw that the
little force consisted of only sixteen men led by what they
considered a couple of boys, their appearance became mere matter for
uproarious jesting; the noise broke out afresh and was echoed by
despairing wails from the Indians in the background, who only saw a
powerful addition to their persecutors.

"Who's your leader?" shouted young Mayne.

"That's me, gov'nor," said a tall Englishman, who carried "escaped
convict" in every line of his face. "All right, boys; they've only
come to lend a hand; why, they've got some Injun pris'ners. Come on,
Lootenant; I was a seaman afore you was born. Shake hands."

The noisy ruffian came swaggering forward, and the sailors breathed
hard for a moment. Surely their favourite officer would never stand
that sort of talk. Yet it was no time for words; these men were
harmless, compared to the other blackguards who were trying to burn
the Indians' wigwams and huts over their heads.

The lieutenant sheathed his sword and took a half-step forward, at the
same time clenching his left fist; then let drive, straight at the
digger's chin. The fellow went down like a sack of flour, apparently
stunned, for he made no attempt to get up again. But immediately
several revolver-barrels flashed in the fire-light and three shots
were fired; a burning pain in his left arm told Mayne that he was
wounded, but the other shots went wide. He stepped from in front of
his men.

"Open order!--Out of the way, you red men.--_Present!_" The rifles
flew to the sailors' shoulders like magic. There was no time to be
lost now; only thirty yards away, Indians were murdering and being
murdered, and the shrieks of the women made the young fellow's blood
run cold. Yet he dared not place his few men between two forces of
desperate maniacs. The rioters had again ceased their gabble.

"Hands up, every one of you." The lieutenant waited for a few seconds.
"Make up your minds; you'll not get another warning."

However mad the diggers might be, it began to dawn on them that they
could not hold their own for three minutes against men who regarded
fighting as part of their day's work. Still they hesitated, for the
more curious or less pressed of the other body were leaving the huts
and coming over to them. They looked from these to the sailors, in
whose faces there was no sign of wavering; already the officer's lips
seemed to be framing the word "Fire!" Then they could bear the tension
no longer. Some in ill-tempered silence, the rest whimpering for
mercy, threw up both hands.

"Dr. Campbell; take charge here till all arms are collected; then join
me.--Rear rank; 'tion! Left turn. Trail arms. Double!"

But when Mayne and his eight men reached the wigwams, it was plain
enough that it would be the Indians who would give the trouble. They
had at last discovered that the white warriors were with them, and
now, though their disheartened assailants were already ceasing to
fight, other than on the defensive, and were retiring as fast as they
could get clear of the crush, they began to strike with double fury,
shrieking their war-whoops, hacking and stabbing wherever they could.
Mayne gave a command, and every sailor slung his rifle and drew his
cutlass.

"Now separate them, lads."

The bluejackets dashed into the crowd with a cheer, and good-humouredly
flung themselves between miners and redskins, employing fists,
shoulders, and, where necessary and practicable, the hilts or flats of
their cutlasses. By the time Campbell came running up with his eight
men, the wonder-stricken Indians had drawn back, and were meditating
on the apparent illogicalness of their Queen's warriors.

"Serve this lot the same as the others," said Mayne; and those of
the miners who had not fled were soon holding up their hands, while
the grinning sailors crammed their haversacks with pistols and
bowie-knives, or stacked rifles and pickaxes out of harm's way.

The Indian guides now asked for their weapons and were curtly refused
by Mayne, who, intimating to the miners that they were now under
arrest, made them fall in, preparatory to a return to their own camp,
which was but a few hundred yards away. While the indefatigable doctor
was singling out the more sober and respectable of these to help him
in an examination of the wounded of both parties, a German digger who
had fled came running back to the camp, hysterical with fright.

"The Chippewyans!" he screamed, clutching at Campbell's arm, and
sobbing convulsively.

There was no need to ask what he meant, for the thunder of horses'
hoofs could already be heard, and, by the time the sailors were
brought to attention, the wild war-whoop of a body of Indians was
resounding over the slopes.

"Our pistols. Give us our arms," roared the terrified miners; and
again the lieutenant found himself in an uncomfortable predicament.
Only a minute before, he had been considering the advisability of
disarming the redskins in case of a treacherous attack during the
night. The new arrivals were mounted, and doubtless strong in
numbers; and, backed by the forty or more Indians already present,
they might easily be a more powerful force than he could deal with.
Already the savages, seeing vengeance for their burning stacks
within their grasp, had gathered together and were chattering and
waving their war-hatchets.

"I can't trust you with pistols," he said coldly, and beckoned to him
the most reliable of the Indian guides. "You must tell your people who
are coming that the White Queen's judges will punish these men. If
they attempt to do it themselves, they also will be punished."

The Indian hurried away to repeat the message to his chief, who
appeared to be haranguing his warriors; while Mayne spoke a few cheery
words of caution to the sailors.

A whistle from the doctor made him turn round. "Here they come. By
George! how many more of them?"

In the shifting blaze of the stacks, the body of horsemen who suddenly
shot from among the trees seemed to be at least a thousand; in
reality, there were between eighty and a hundred; some belonging to
this camp, but the majority of them braves from the Cascade or other
mountains, whom the messengers had hurriedly collected. The unarmed
miners huddled together, shivering or cursing; while the seamen, with
their rifles "shouldered," stood in a single line between them and
the advancing savages. At a sign from the chief, the horsemen drew up
and a palaver began.

"Come on. You and I'll take a hand in this," said Mayne. "They seem to
be in doubt. Where's our interpreter?" He and the surgeon walked over
to the chiefs, and, for some time, it seemed as though there certainly
would have to be bloodshed; for the Indians who had come from a
distance wanted value for their money, and were not disposed to hear
reason. But presently the interpreter cut into the conversation,
reminding the chiefs that the "warriors with no hair on their faces"
had easily subdued a large body of white men; and that, only ten miles
away, there were "braves in red coats, with hair on their upper lips,"
as well as a large number of miners, who would take a speedy vengeance
on them.

"Tell them, also," said Mayne, "that unless they agree to keep the
peace, I shall give the miners their weapons again, and we shall fight
for _them_."

His heart was "in his mouth" as he uttered this high-sounding threat;
for, of course, he no more dared do such a thing than he dared head a
mutiny on board his ship. It was a chance shot; but it carried the
day. A buzz of conversation arose among the Indians of the camp. Set
those white fiends about their ears again? They would fight their own
allies first. An agreement was speedily arrived at, and Mayne marched
both sailors and prisoners back to the white camp.

But it was an anxious night for him. His wound, though only a flesh
cut, was causing him great pain now that the excitement of the evening
was over; his men were getting hungry and sleepy, and the doctor--no
less so--had his hands full with those whom the Indians had injured;
there were not a dozen miners who, in their present condition, could
be relied upon to fight if need arose; and the redskins, to whom
treachery was as the breath of their nostrils, might, instead of
keeping faith, swoop down on the camp at any moment. But sailors are
used to short spells of sleep; sentries were relieved every two hours;
there was no more disturbance, and by morning the diggers had come to
a rational and penitent frame of mind. How the quarrel had begun was
one of the things that will never be found out; when white men allow
the beast in them to come uppermost, there is nothing to choose
between them and savages of any other colour. Before the day was
ended, Colonel Moody and a squad of soldiers had arrived; the
ringleaders on either side were on their way to Vancouver for
examination, and peace was once more restored.



CHAPTER XXII

THE CHIPPEWYANS OF THE COLUMBIAN MOUNTAINS


In a former volume[4] the writer has related a hunting adventure which
befell the late Lieutenant John Keast Lord; but, as the career of this
intrepid traveller was so full of romantic and striking episodes, the
reader may be glad to hear a little more about him.

  [4] "Adventures among the Wild Beasts."

After his eventful mule-buying expedition into the States, he returned
to British Columbia, where he was acting as naturalist to the Canadian
Boundary Commission; but he had no sooner reached New Westminster than
he found other instructions awaiting him; this time, to report on the
fauna of the coast Ranges. This was in 1858, when already the
Chippewyans and Kuchins had been unsettled and rendered ripe for
assault and murder by the newly-arrived gold-diggers; and Mr. Lord
wisely decided to take with him a bodyguard of half a dozen young
Canadian hunters, whose bravery, judgment, and fidelity he had many
times proved.

New Westminster was indeed new in those days; in fact, it was not a
year old; and much of the ride from there to the Cascade Mountains
was a pathless, hilly waste, dotted with mountain-like rocks of
granite, and occasionally varied by chasms and cañons; and in this
cheerful neighbourhood many Indians who feared the vengeance of the
Government, for some of their various crimes, had taken up their
abode. The soldier-naturalist's intention was to reach the seaward
slopes of the range, which had been but very little explored, and were
known to be covered to a great extent by dense forests.

By the second day of his journey he had begun to have serious thoughts
of sending back at least three of his companions, realising that a
troop of seven mounted men, fully armed, and accompanied by five
baggage-mules, had very much the appearance of a punitive expedition
on a small scale. Certainly this must have been the view of the first
few parties of redskins with whom he met; for these either fled
hastily as though to warn their friends, or else defiantly threatened
the strangers with their bows or muskets. Lord's absolutely perfect
knowledge of the Athapascan tongue, and of the character and customs
of the Chippewyans, was really the surest weapon of defence for him to
rely on now; and, bidding his men conceal all arms but their rifles,
and endeavour to look as much as possible like a peaceful hunting or
travelling party, he resolved that, whenever they met with Indians, he
would get in first blow with his tongue and conciliate the savages.

This very soon proved to be a promising plan; for on the third
morning, not long after the little troop had begun its day's march, a
score of Indians burst out from the shelter of one of the huge
boulders and, in a chorus of wild yells, ordered the white men to
throw down their rifles. Signing to his companions to stay where they
were, Lord cantered across the strip of broken ground, and, with no
sign of anxiety, pulled up before the noisiest of the Indians and gave
him a laughing good morning.

"Have you not yet learned to distinguish between friends and enemies?"
he asked. The redskins ceased their clamour and looked at each other
in a puzzled manner. They had been prepared for violence on the part
of the new-comers; or they would even have beheld their meek surrender
without betraying great astonishment; but that the white leader should
treat them and their demands as a huge joke, and further, should speak
their tongue with an accent as pure and natural as their own, were
facts not to be grappled with hurriedly. And, while they hesitated,
Lord continued airily, "What do you fear, my brothers? We have not
come to hurt you. Why did you beseech us to drop our guns?"

"You have tracked some of our tribe from the mines, have you not?"
said the chief cautiously, and more, perhaps, to gain time than
because he sought information.

"No; we have nothing to do with the mines, nor do we wish to poach on
your hunting or your fishing. We are going to look for beasts in the
forest on the distant slopes. If you will guide us to a place where we
can cross the range with our horses and mules, we will pay you well."

To do him justice, though the Indian may be treacherous, he is seldom
a liar; consequently he is less prone than the rest of the world to
doubt another man's word. From the chief's increasing hesitation it
was clear enough that he believed the Englishman's statement, and was
not unwilling to be friendly. All the same, Lord's mind was not
entirely at ease; none of the Indians had horses; few of them had
firearms; and the covetous glances cast at his horse and his rifle
showed plainly enough that at least the majority of his new neighbours
would like the opportunity of robbing him and his men. Some of them
began to consult in low tones, but he turned on these with a sudden
severity, partly assumed and partly real.

"What?" he shouted. "Do you make a stranger of _me_? Do you exclude
from your palaver one who speaks your tongue; who has smoked the
peace-pipe and hunted with your brethren everywhere, from the Nipigon
Lake to these very mountains, and from the white man's gold-camps to
the country of the Apaches and the Navajos; who has taught even the
wisest of your tribe; who can charm away pains in the jaws, and can
put new life into horses and dogs and cattle when they are sick?"

The muttered conversation broke off abruptly, and, with some approach
to deference, the chief explained that it only related to the price
which they should ask for guiding the Big White Chief, and to the
doubts that some of them had as to the good faith of his followers.
The Big White Chief (he stood six feet four) answered curtly that he
would be answerable for his men, and, by way of payment, would give a
supply of tobacco and rum to each Indian, and a revolver, with fifty
cartridges, to the leader. The last item clinched the bargain in a
moment, and the chief at once agreed to show the way to a gorge
through which the travellers and their beasts could pass with ease to
the other side. This, he said, was more than a day's journey away; if
the white braves would stay the night at his camp, which they would
reach by sundown, he would undertake to bring them to the gorge by
noon on the following day.

"Go on, then," said the Englishman. "I will inform my men and we will
follow you"; and in a very few words he explained the situation to the
Canadians, warning everyone to be on his guard.

The Indians, though laden with the spoils of a brief hunting
expedition, set off at a rapid jog-trot, seeming quite heedless of the
broken and ever-rising ground, over which the white men's horses had
much ado to keep pace with them. At times this difficult road gave
place to a winding but well-worn track that seemed as though it would
eventually lead, corkscrew fashion, to the summit of a mountain nearly
ten thousand feet high.

Some distance up this, Lord called a halt for dinner, and, when it was
ended, he had one of the mules disburthened, and, with much show of
friendly condescension, insisted upon placing it at the chief's
disposal for the remainder of their climb. By this means he gained as
it were a hostage in case of treachery; for it would be easy for one
or other of his party to place himself between the now mounted chief
and the rest of the Indians, with whom he had for a long time been
carrying on a mysterious and disquieting conversation in an
undertone. Lord was a poor hand at playing eavesdropper, even had his
life or liberty depended on that form of acquiring information; but,
from odd syllables he had overheard from time to time, it had not been
difficult to gather that his guides had become two factions, the one
strongly disagreeing with the policy of the other.

Late in the afternoon the path wound suddenly into a thick grove of
red and yellow cedars and Douglas firs; and the half-muffled sounds of
life in the distance told the travellers that the Indian camp, or some
other, could not be far away. The sounds soon separated themselves so
that the barking of dogs, the blows of an axe on a tree-trunk, etc.,
could easily be distinguished; then lights peeped out among the trees,
and the chatter of women and screaming of babies grew plainly
audible.

Since he had been compelled to ride among the white men, the chief had
become more and more moodily silent and ill at ease; and now the
Indians ahead were throwing apprehensive glances back, and renewing
their whispered arguments.

"What is it? What do they fear?" asked Lord of the chief, who was then
riding abreast of him.

He answered nervously, "I will not deceive my great brother. They fear
lest you or your companions should tell other white men what you will
have seen at our camp."

"And if we did?"

"You would no longer be the red man's friend. If harm should come to
us through any of you, my tribe would take a fearful vengeance."

The big veterinary surgeon laughed negligently, and remarked that the
chief need not be uneasy. Whatever curiosity he might feel was soon to
be satisfied; for one more twist of the path brought them on to a
large clearing, dotted everywhere with fires and wigwams. Lord had
half expected to see a considerable reinforcement of Indians here; and
was much relieved to find the camp guarded only by women and six or
seven elderly men.

The guides separated, each going to his own wigwam, and the chief
signified that the strangers would be expected to share a banquet with
him over his particular fire. The food was good, the chief and his own
special cronies who sat with him very hospitable and entertaining.
Bed-time came, and two tents were placed at the guests' disposal,
Lord, of course, arranging a system of "watches" to guard against
surprise. But no surprise came; the night passed quietly and
peacefully, and the Englishman was at a loss to understand the fears
and suspicions of the Indians. But while he was washing at a stream
close at hand, one of the Canadians joined him.

"I've got at their mystery, I think," he said in a whisper.

"Ah?"

"Chinese prisoners; three of 'em. I've been talking to one while you
were having your breakfast. I take it that this is a refuge-camp for
all the rascality of the neighbourhood. John Chinaman tells me that
the whole crew are 'wanted' at Vancouver for sundry attacks on the
mining camps. Why, these are some of the varmints who burnt Thomson's
store last year."

Lord finished his ablutions and sat down to discuss the position,
which was certainly not a pleasant one. In a sense, he was on his
honour not to betray his entertainers; yet, as a Government servant,
it seemed to be his duty either to arrest the chief or else lay
information against him. Moreover, though the few Chinamen he had met
had not impressed him favourably, his blood boiled at the notion of
slavery on British soil, and of the unnameable cruelties to a captive
of which the redskins were capable. Before he could arrive at any
decision, however, a terrible scream resounded through the camp, and
both men rushed towards the wigwams.

On the ground lay a Chinaman, pierced by an arrow, and Lord saw at a
glance that he was dead.

"The brutes," muttered his companion. "That's the poor beggar's
punishment for breaking out and speaking to me." Lord called to his
men and then rounded on the chief, who was hurriedly approaching.

"Where are the other two prisoners?" he said. "You must hand them over
to me. I am a warrior of the White Queen's, and can have every one of
you hanged.--No, no; I'll have no secret discussions. If you disobey
the Queen you are no longer my friends. (Look out, you fellows!)" In
another moment he had pulled a revolver from his pocket and was
covering the chief. "I give you one minute in which to bring out the
other prisoners."

Bows or muskets were hastily raised, but the Canadians had unslung
their rifles like lightning, and were grouped behind Lord ready to
fire on the first man who dared to aim at him. The chief shrugged his
shoulders, smiled, and ordered the prisoners to be produced. They soon
appeared, unbound but strongly guarded, and, in pidgin English, told
how, a few days before, their camp near the sea had been raided, their
employers put to flight, and themselves brought away to slavery.

"Can you guide us to the sea?" asked Lord. Yes; they could. It was but
a few miles distant. "Very well, then," he continued, turning to the
chief. "If you will give me these men, and will swear by the Great
Spirit that you will not again trouble the white men's camps, we will
promise not to betray your hiding-place."

A rapid exchange of glances took place between the Indians, and then
the chief said emphatically:

"I give up the prisoners, and I swear that my tribe will keep faith
with yours." Lord then swore to his part of the bargain, and, anxious
to escape from the Indians at once, paid the guides and set off
immediately in the wake of the liberated prisoners.

"What do you think about it?" he asked the eldest of the Canadians,
when they were well on the road through the wood.

"I think they were a sight too ready to give way. We haven't seen the
last of 'em, I reckon."

"Well; we shall be in open country directly, according to the
Chinamen," said Lord. He was disposed towards a hopeful view, the more
so that he had given the Indians plainly to understand that they would
pay dearly for any attempt at treachery. Once or twice, on looking
back, he perceived men walking slowly behind them, but as these were
only armed with bows, and made no pretence of secrecy, he took little
notice; and, in another hour, the wood came to an end. But where was
the promised gorge? The only path he could see was a granite ridge,
which on one side was bounded by a stretch of rough rising ground, and
on the other became a precipice. The guides, however, remained
confident, and, after hinting that it would be bad for them if they
led him wrong, he followed them.

"What's that?" he cried suddenly, when they had travelled about half a
mile along the ridge in single file. All reined up at a sound similar
to that of a "moose-trumpet," or bark horn. Then they saw that three
Indians had appeared from the wood behind them, had come to a stop on
the edge of the cliff, and were looking across the chasm towards a
precipice twice the height of that on which they stood. Evidently
their trumpeting was intended to rouse somebody across the chasm, for
two or three indistinct figures soon appeared on the farther cliff.
Then one of the Indians who had followed Lord's party raised his arms
and began to make signs to those on the other side.

"Signalling, eh?" said one of the men. "Can you read it, Mr. Lord?"

The redskin was, in fact, transmitting a message across the chasm,
employing a system of telegraphy similar to that used in Japan, or
among our own sailors: a form of "deaf and dumb alphabet" not uncommon
among the Indians of the hills and prairies.

"I can read enough to see that these rascals are warning someone to
stop us," said Lord. "Though how they reckon to do that remains to be
seen. Let's get on as fast as possible."

[Illustration: A PRIMITIVE SYSTEM OF TELEGRAPHY

The Indians are able to transmit messages by movements of their arms and
fingers at greater distances than the voice would carry. In this case the
question is "Who are you?" The answer "Pani," transmitted from the lofty
crags of a wide gorge.]

They moved swiftly up the ridge, till the ground began to slope
downwards again, and very steeply; then a final bend brought them
almost opposite the mouth of the long looked-for gorge, which was wide
enough for all the horsemen to ride abreast in comfort. The road was
now beautifully level, and but that the Chinamen would not risk their
necks on mule-back and knew nothing about horses, the whole party
could have galloped. The gorge proved to be some six miles in length,
and, at the end of a couple of hours, the travellers knew that they
had come to the outlet.

The fact was made known in a not very pleasing manner, for all at once
two musket-shots echoed down the ravine, and the Chinamen, who were
some ten yards ahead of the horsemen, fell prostrate.

"Charge for it," shouted Lord, though he could not as yet see the
mysterious assailants. "Don't give 'em time to load or aim"; and the
seven men, pistol in hand, galloped to the mouth of the gorge.

Here they were greeted by a flight of arrows, launched so hastily that
no one was hit. The ambush consisted of a dozen redskins, who, in
obedience to the signalling, had hastened round the head of the chasm,
easily arriving in time to cut off the more slowly moving party.
Fortunately, only two of them had firearms; and the majority, seeing
at once what chance they would stand against mounted men who were
desperate and well armed, fled like chamois down the slopes. Three of
the party were, however, speedily stopped by revolver-bullets from the
horsemen, and so rendered an easy capture.

Then the truth, or something like it, came out. The Chinamen were
gold-thieves who had escaped from the mines and had fallen into the
hands of the Chippewyans, who cared nothing for their stolen gold but
a good deal for the labour which they would have been able to extort
from them. Lord had neither time nor inclination to sift the matter.
Finding that the Celestials were not so badly injured but that they
could ride back to prison, he had them bound on to baggage-mules, made
the three wounded Indians mount behind three of his men, and so
conveyed all the prisoners in triumph to the coast, where he handed
them over to a military picket for a journey to Vancouver jail.



CHAPTER XXIII

TWO DAYS IN A MOHAWK VILLAGE


A very voluminous writer, and an explorer of no small repute in
Germany--Johann Georg Kohl--has drawn up, from personal experience, as
exhaustive an account of the Mohawk section of the Iroquois Indians as
Surgeon Bigsby gave of the Huron and Cherokee branches of that once
powerful family. Herr Kohl spent the years 1859-60 in travelling about
the north-eastern portion of the United States and Southern Canada,
and thus was able to gather some interesting and valuable information
concerning the tribe, which the writers of story-books seem to have
maligned very much. He shows us the Mohawks of Quebec as hard-working
farmers, respectable traders in fur, bold hunters, and pious
Christians; and he reminds us that there is nothing extraordinary in
all this if we take into account a century and a half of French
influence at its best, together with the splendid labours of the
Jesuit missionary heroes.

From Lake Champlain, Herr Kohl travelled across the boundary in a
Canadian farmer's waggon, which eventually set him down at an Indian
village that stood on the verge of an immense pine-forest. To be
"dumped" down suddenly in a place where there is not a single white
person would be disconcerting enough to any but a man of inquiring and
adventurous disposition; but Kohl, on learning from his companion that
here was a purely native population, eagerly jumped out of the cart
with his gun and his luggage and bade the farmer drive on. Of course,
he was stared at; but so he would have been in an English or German
village; with this difference: that these Mohawk women and children
possessed a native politeness and readiness to oblige that few English
and fewer Germans can muster up. Kohl spoke encouragingly to the
starers; was there an inn in the place? he asked in French. No; there
was not. Where could he get a night's lodging then? Anywhere in the
village; perhaps the gentleman would like to see the chief's house, as
being the largest and most fitting for his reception. A neat little
old woman called a youth who was repairing a timber-trolley.

"Go, my son; carry the gentleman's _paquet_ and show him the chief's
house."

The idlers drew back, and though they continued to stare, made no
attempt to follow the stranger. He began to ask questions. Where were
all the men? The men were at work, a few in the fields, but most of
them in the forest--hunting, wood-lumbering, or clearing the traps set
for foxes, squirrels, etc.; many of them would be home by sundown.

The German looked curiously up the little street; nearly all the
houses were on one side of it; on the other there were but four
buildings; the church, which--said the lad--was visited three times a
week by a French _curé_ from a neighbouring town; the school, the
chief's dwelling, and the "assembly house"--a long wooden shed where
public functions took place; e.g. certain games and sports, the
entertaining of chiefs from a distance, tribal discussions, etc.

"This is where the chief lives, Monsieur," said the Indian lad,
pointing to a wooden hut about thirty feet square, painted a dull red,
with a bright yellow door. The place was not architecturally
beautiful, to be sure; but it was the residence of the ruler of the
place; and, as the lad tapped at the door, the traveller began to
experience the same diffidence that a stranger in London might feel in
asking for a night's lodging at Buckingham Palace.

A buxom serving-woman opened the door, and, on the boy's explaining
the visit, bade him bring the luggage in and courteously asked the
German to follow her into the chief's presence. Kohl gave the lad
about a shilling's-worth of coppers, whereat both he and the servant
exclaimed. The man must be a prince! A halfpenny would have been
thought a more than sufficient tip for such a task as the Indian boy
had performed.

The woman led the way through the house--which was so ill-lighted,
that anyone coming in from the bright sunshine could at first see
nothing--and out by another small door to a huge space which seemed to
be cornfield, garden, meadow, and orchard all in one. The back of the
house was as tasteful as the front was grotesque; the porch was
covered with honeysuckle, now in full bloom, and all kinds of
creepers ran over the blank wall. In the middle of the garden a man
was digging early potatoes. He looked round as the two walked up the
path, and, to Kohl's surprise, the woman introduced the potato-digger
as the Mohawk chief. When she had gone, the intruder entered into
explanations to which the chief--a bright-eyed, gentle-looking old
man--listened with polite attention.

"You are very welcome," he said. "We country people are always glad to
see visitors and learn all their news; strangers seldom come this way
now; they go over there instead--they travel by the _chemin de fer_";
he pointed westwards, where, fifteen miles away, ran a line of
railroad. "But--it must be an awful thing to go about the country like
that, sir. I myself have never been in a train, thank God." He spoke
the ordinary Canadian _patois_, though he evidently understood Kohl's
Parisian French quite well.

"You do not travel far, I suppose?" said the white man gently.

"No; I am over eighty years of age. But in my time I have been far,
very far. I have traded and fought with the _Inwi_" (Eskimos); "I have
guided white hunters through Ungava; I have seen steamboats and
railway trains."

While he was speaking the old gentleman shouldered his fork, picked up
his potato-basket, and turned towards the house.

"You will like some refreshment. We do not dine till my sons return."

They entered the house again, and, as soon as Kohl's eyes were
accustomed to the gloom, he saw that it was simply one large room. The
floor was of planks, beautifully clean; and the walls were almost
entirely hidden by the skins of various animals; these certainly made
for snugness in winter, stopping the draught that otherwise would have
come through the chinks; but the effect was more startling than
artistic, for some ambitious soul had dyed or painted most of them, a
magnificent elk-hide being daubed with alternate stripes of green,
red, and yellow, while a black bear-skin had little yellow crosses
painted all over it. Two of the walls were partitioned off into a sort
of loose-boxes, each six feet wide; these were the bedrooms; the light
came through a hole in the roof (which was also the chimney) and from
two small windows, where a clumsy attempt had been made at fitting
ready-made sashes into openings that were anything but "true." Near
the door hung a crucifix and holy-water stoup, not ill-carved in wood;
but this was the only attempt at civilised wall-decoration.

The woman whom Kohl had imagined to be a servant came bustling forward
with a platter of cakes and a basin of cider, which she pressed on the
visitor.

"This is my youngest son's wife," said the chief. "I have three sons,
and they and their wives live with me."

"And their children?" asked Kohl.

"Only one girl; all the others are married; and she is to be betrothed
to-morrow. To-morrow we keep holiday; there will be much dancing and
ball-play and feasting."

Then they fell to talking of the old man's early days. He could
remember the time when it was still quite a new thing for the English
to be regarded by the French colonists as anything but tyrants; he had
heard his father talk of seeing the white soldiers of General Wolfe;
he himself had fought against the Sioux many times. Bah! the Sioux
were bad men; cruel men, who would not keep faith.

His reminiscences were so engrossing, that Kohl lost all count of the
time, till the sound of footsteps, voices, and horses' hoofs past the
house told him that the men were returning from their day's work. The
eldest son, the future chief of the tribe, now entered. He was a very
tall, lithe man, between fifty and sixty, less formal in his manner
than his father, but quite as modest and agreeable. He had been
superintending the carting of the hay from some distant meadows which
he owned; and Kohl could not refrain from smiling at the talk that
went on between father and son. He had come out here prepared to see
bloodthirsty robbers and torturers and bear-slayers; and behold, the
chief dug potatoes, and the chief's son performed his ablutions in a
bucket of water, and talked of the hay-harvest and the amount of cider
consumed by the mowers that day, as if he were in Kohl's native
Bavaria. He was now almost ready to see a telegram or a Munich
newspaper brought to the door.

As soon as the other sons returned from their hunting, two of the
women dragged a deal table from one side of the room, and all sat down
to supper. This was the first time that Herr Kohl had seen the women
sit down with the men; here it seemed a recognised thing. The
unmarried granddaughter--a pretty girl of seventeen--did most of the
waiting, and that by helping an enormous stew of onions, beef,
chickens and hare from the pot on to wooden platters, and handing them
round. Forks were not used.

After supper they all adjourned to the benches outside the house. The
visitor had brandy and cigars in his portmanteau; and, while he handed
these delicacies round, another surprise greeted him; the chief was a
teetotaller! and even the sons partook very sparingly of the brandy,
though they appreciated the cigars as having a flavour of town life.
He was beginning to understand now why there was no inn in the place.
The street was the village public-house. Men sat and smoked outside
the huts, or strolled up and down in twos and threes; some even
squatted in the middle of the road. To-night, as there was a stranger
in the place, a knot of Indians stood looking on from a respectful
distance at the chief's party; and presently, most of the elders of
the tribe came and sat or lounged near the chief. Each of these
greeted the stranger with a guttural "Bon soir, M'sieu'" (one or two
of them promoted him to "Monseigneur"). Had they forgotten their own
language even? For a while the talk was of the morrow's festivity, and
a tall young brave, whose face was indistinguishable in the twilight,
was introduced to Kohl as the future bridegroom; but this topic soon
flagged, and the traveller guessed, from the general turning of faces
towards him, that it was "news" that everybody wanted. Before he had
talked many minutes he had become a personage; for he had read and
travelled widely, and had the rare knack of being able to suit himself
to whatever company he happened to be in. He could tell the redskins
nothing of Quebec City, for he had not been there; but what pleased
them more than anything else was his talk of England; he had once
stayed in London; had even seen their White Queen. They wanted no
fresher news than that, though it was more than three years old; and
they let him talk till his head was nodding with sleep.

After a night passed in one of the loose-boxes and between two
bear-skins, he rose early and started off to the woods with the three
sons of the house, who had to clear some traps a few miles away. For
some time their talk mystified him, for they continually spoke of the
animal for which the snares were set as _le chat_. He knew that wild
cats were almost unknown so far north, and the tame ones could
scarcely be so plentiful in a pine-forest as to need trapping. He
asked for an explanation, which his companions laughingly gave.

"We call him that because it is easier to say than _le loup cervier_;
many of the French trappers call him _le lynx_. It is only lately that
we have taken the trouble to catch him."

"How is that?"

"We must catch what the fur-dealers ask us for, sir. Just now, they
tell us, the white people in the towns are very fond of wearing
lynx-skin as part of their dress."

When they arrived at the line of traps the Bavarian perceived that the
Mohawks' progressive notions extended even to these, for they were
steel gins bearing the trade-mark of a Montreal hardware firm. In all,
ten well-grown lynxes were taken from the traps, which were reset and
baited with fresh meat. Then the four hungry men sat down to their
breakfast of cold meat, barley bread, and cider, and chatted gaily
over it, finding far more rational matter that they could discuss in
common than the average English gentleman would often find in
conversation with three average English peasant-farmers. Yet Kohl, who
had a healthy admiration for the fighting-animal in man, was becoming
conscious of a certain melancholy as he looked at his companions. Of
course, a Mohawk who went to church, paid his taxes, and sent his
children to school was a more desirable neighbour than one whose
merits were reckoned according to the number of human scalps in his
possession; still, one could almost have wished----

He got no farther with these reflections, for, just then, something
happened that upset all his fine theorising, and proved conclusively
that there is something in the old saying about scratching a Russian
and finding a Tartar. All in a moment the Indians dropped their
cider-horns and sprang to their feet, shouting:

"_Musquaw! Musquaw!_"

It was almost the first native word he had heard, and it meant a
black bear. Peering among the trees, he at length caught sight of
a large animal hastily turning his back on them and preparing to
beat a retreat. The Mohawks ran in pursuit like deerhounds, though
all of them were over fifty years of age. Their rifles--modern
breech-loaders--lay to hand ready charged, but they left them behind;
those were all very well for money-getting, but just now it was
sport that they wanted. Kohl picked up his own gun and hastened after
them. They were shouting at the top of their voices--and in Iroquoian;
reviling the bear, daring him to turn on them, and taunting him with
his cowardice; in a word, hunting as their fathers and grandfathers
had done before them. Each had slipped a formidable-looking hatchet
from his belt, and now, as they came up with the fugitive, the
youngest brother dealt him a blow across the haunches that made him
stop and bellow with pain.

As a rule, the _musquaw_ is a perfectly harmless beast if left alone;
but, when he turns to bay, he is as ferocious and almost as strong as
a grisly. Maddened and almost maimed, the great brute now reared, and
so suddenly, that the eldest Indian, who had been aiming a similar
blow to his brother's, lost his balance and fell with his head
actually touching the beast's back as he rose on his hind feet. But
this was only matter for laughing; he was up again in a second, and
striking for the back of the bear's head, while his brothers sprang
backwards or sidewards with terrier-like activity, dodging his
outspread claws and awaiting an opportunity to bring him down with a
blow across his snout.

Kohl had now reached the scene of the combat, and took up a position
whence he could easily cover the enemy with his rifle, which he had
just loaded with ball. But the Mohawks wanted no such help as that.

"No; don't fire, we would kill fifty like him," screamed André, the
second brother; and, as he spoke, his hatchet fell, cleaving the
forepart of the great creature's skull. The blade stuck fast, and it
was only by letting go of the haft and taking a tremendous backward
spring, that he saved himself from the paw that struck out at him
almost automatically. The bear was tottering now, and another blow on
the back of the head from the Indian behind brought him down,
stone-dead. Other redskins, attracted by the shouting, had now left
their traps and come up, and to these was given the task of flaying
the carcase and bringing home the skin; while the chief's sons, happy
as a boy who has killed his first rabbit, went back for their guns.

When they reached the village again, they found it _en fête_. On the
wide space between the chief's house and the church, all the
inhabitants had collected to do honour to the hero and heroine of the
day; and, coming out from the house, were the chief, a French priest,
and all the womenfolk of the family.

"Come along," cried the old man gaily to his youngest son; "we are
only waiting for you."

Then ensued a quaint mingling of ancient and modern Mohawk custom.
Much of the success of Catholic missions probably lies in the fact
that the clergy have never opposed those traditions and customs of
savages which were in themselves innocent; here was an instance. A
girl was about to become engaged to her future husband, and there was
no difficulty in grafting on to the Indian ceremony the mediæval
religious rite of betrothal.

The chief's youngest son, the girl's father, approached the lover,
carrying a bow and four arrows.

"My brother," he said solemnly; "you have asked to have my daughter
for your wife. But, before you can take the bird to your own nest, you
must catch her."

He fitted an arrow to his bow and shot it so that it stuck in the
ground about a hundred yards away. Then, amid dead silence, he stuck a
second arrow in the turf at the young man's feet, and, taking his
daughter's hand, led her to where the first arrow had dropped. He shot
a third arrow, this time high in the air, and it fell about twenty
yards away from where the girl was standing.

"Will you try to catch my bird?" he shouted to the bridegroom-elect;
and of course received "yes" for an answer.

"Then fly," and he shot his fourth arrow as a signal for the start.

It was queer handicapping--a hundred yards start out of a hundred and
twenty--but the girl had doubtless made up her mind beforehand. After
hurrying off at full speed, in coquettish pretence of wishing to
escape, she contrived to stumble, fell on her face, lay there till the
happy man was within a yard or two of her, and allowed herself to be
caught before she reached the goal. Of course, the ceremony was a
survival from a time when an Indian girl received no other intimation
of the wishes of the man who wanted her for his wife, and might
reasonably wish to bestow her hand on some other suitor--in which case
here was an escape for her; but the result of the race was received
with as much applause as though everything had been real earnest.

Immediately afterwards, everyone went into the church; the lovers
stood at the altar, and the priest read the short betrothal office
(_Fiançailles_) which had been introduced by the early French
settlers. Games and dancing followed; not the genuine Indian dancing
which Kohl had hoped to see, but a rough imitation of the French
peasants' dance; and the day ended with a great feast in the assembly
house.

Kohl was obliged to proceed on his way in the morning, but he made
many subsequent visits to this queer little community, and always
found himself treated like an old friend.

[Illustration: A NOVEL BRIDAL CEREMONY

Among the Mohawks a suitor must pursue and capture his bride. She is
given a start, and if her lover captures her before she reaches a certain
point she becomes his wife, and to bring about this happy result she
coquettishly trips, or gets exhausted.]



CHAPTER XXIV

CANADIAN LAKE AND RIVER INDIANS


The Athabaskan or Athapascan family of Indians may be found anywhere
between Alaska and Manitoba, and some of the more unsettled or
enterprising tribes have even wandered as far as the Mexican boundary.
In Southern and Western Canada they are principally represented by the
Kuchins and Chippewyans, hardy hunters, canoemen, and fighters, many
of whom are to this day very unsophisticated in their views and
habits. In the 'sixties, Canada still knew little about railways;
lakes and rivers were the recognised highways of travel, and the
Eastern Chippewyans made a steady income as carriers, boatmen, and
guides; to which occupations, says the Rev. C. Colton, they applied
the same combination of energy and deliberateness that their tribe has
always displayed in its hunting or its warfare.

Mr. Colton was rector of an Anglican Church in New York, and, in
1860, he set out to visit some friends who lived on the Saskatchewan
River--a journey similar in point of distance to that from London to
Moscow, or Palermo to Dublin. After a stay at the famous Niagara Falls,
he embarked at Buffalo for Detroit, which meant a three-hundred-mile
run across Lake Erie; then made his way to Port Huron, whence a
little steamer would carry him to Port Arthur, Ontario.

The morning before the boat came in sight of this place, he observed
quite a swarm of Indians on the near bank, leaping into their canoes
in the greatest excitement; none of them had guns or bows, but--which
looked neither promising nor peaceable--every man had, either beside
him or in his hand, a long, barb-headed spear. Indians had, on many
occasions, paddled out to the steamer, but it had always been with the
sole object of selling fruit or furs or fish, and this was the first
time that Mr. Colton had seen them carrying weapons of any sort.

He asked the master of the boat what it meant; but neither he nor the
engineer could account for the demonstration; and the four negroes who
formed the crew showed by their restless motions and their inattention
to everything but the three or four dozen canoes that were flocking
towards the launch, that they were considerably alarmed. The only
passengers besides the clergyman were three ladies, and a Canadian
journalist named Barnes, who was returning to the British Columbian
gold-diggings, and who, like the rest, did not know what to make of
the sudden and rapid approach of the Indians.

"They're Chippewyans," he said. "And, by the look of it, they mean to
board us. Have you got a 'gun'? Then take this one; I've another in my
bag."

"Look out for yourselves and your baggage, gents," cried the Yankee
skipper, producing a six-shooter. "They mean to hold us up. Ladies,
please go into the cabin."

Mr. Colton was dumbfounded. One minute they had been gliding easily
along with no more thought of piracy or highway robbery than you have
when on a Thames penny steamer; the next, a revolver had been thrust
into his unskilled hands with the recommendation to "look after
himself." It was too absurd, yet decidedly awkward; and it would not
be a mere case of driving off the canoes by a distribution of
grapeshot, but--unless their engine was more powerful than Chippewyan
paddles--of being outnumbered by about ten to one and robbed of every
cent and every thing they possessed, even if not killed.

And worse was behind all this. Why on earth was the boat stopping
instead of steering out? Stopped it certainly had, and a cursing match
was in progress between the infuriated master and the engineer. In
their excitement they had, between them, managed to run the steamer on
to a pebble-bank. A yell of delight arose from the Indians; their
paddles flashed through the water with greater rapidity than ever, and
in another minute the canoes were round the steamer's bows, the
paddles dropped, and the spears picked up.

Colton had never fired a pistol in his life, but, like many of his
cloth, he had a very pretty notion of using his fists when need arose,
and he took his stand fearlessly by the side of the journalist,
determined to sell his life dearly. Barnes regarded the matter coolly;
he had had many a brush with Indians, and had more than once
"stripped-to" and thrashed an offensive digger.

"What do you want? What's your game?" he shouted to the redskins in
their own dialect.

"Look; look!" cried the skipper. "Do they conclude to stave her
in?--What is it they say, Boss?"

Sure enough, every Indian was stooping low, spear in hand and point
downwards, earnestly studying the water, and as much of the boat's
underside as they could distinguish. A conversation was proceeding
meanwhile between Barnes and the Indian nearest him; and all of a
sudden the journalist fell back into the arms of the skipper, choking
and convulsed with laughter.

"_Say!_" remonstrated the skipper mildly. "Don't keep it all to
yerself, Squire; if they don't mean mischief, what the plague _do_
they mean?"

"_Sturgeons!_" gasped the Canadian. "Oh, my aunt! Somebody's been
plumbing them up that the 'fire-canoes' are towed along by great
sturgeons. Look at the noble savages."

With breathless anticipation, every Indian was gravely watching the
water round the bows, ready in an instant to plunge his spear into the
first sturgeon that came handy.

"Wal," said the skipper, "even then their intentions wasn't more'n
middlin' benevolent, I allow. How did they calc'late we'd make any way
when a neefarious gang had cleared out our propelling gear for
us--_s'posing_ we was towed that way? You'd better argufy with 'em,
and bring that p'int home to 'em, Mr. Barnes."

After another conversation the journalist turned to the master.

"If you'll pay out one or two tow-lines, skipper, they'll soon have us
off this. I've told them it's their fault we ran aground, and that, if
they don't tow us off, we shall report them at the next cavalry depôt,
and they'll get hurt."

No time was lost in throwing over four tow-warps, and the Indians,
much impressed by Barnes's representation to them of the measure of
their iniquity, considered themselves let off very cheaply. The canoes
were divided into four lots, one to each rope, and as soon as they had
"tailed-on" one to the other, the four long teams paddled with a will,
and the launch--no bigger than a Brighton fishing-smack--was towed
free without the least difficulty.

Only too glad to fall in with a companion who, in addition to being a
decently educated man, undoubtedly "knew his way about," Mr. Colton
readily agreed to the young Canadian's becoming his companion as far
as his destination. He still had a very long journey before him, but
the newness of all his surroundings and the beauty of the country made
it seem all too short. Sometimes they got a lift in a farm-waggon or
were able to hire horses as far as the next water-way; failing these,
they walked, sleeping at night at a farmhouse, or sometimes in the
forest; and in this way they came to the Lake of the Woods, whence
they would be able to travel all the way by water to the Saskatchewan
River, where the clergyman's journey ended.

They reached the lake early one morning after having passed the night
at a fur-agent's house on the Minnesota boundary; and, before they
were aware of it, they had walked straight into a camp of wandering
Chippewyans, who had been resting on the lake shore for a few days
before returning northwards from disposing of their furs. Evidently
they were used enough to meeting with white men, for, beyond a cheery
"good morning," they took no further notice till the strangers
addressed them; and then it appeared that several of them spoke
English or French. They had just finished their breakfast, for the
fires were still smoking, and cooking utensils and broken food lay
about the ground, though most of their other property had already been
stowed in the canoes.

"We also want to reach the Saskatchewan," said Barnes, when they
mentioned their destination. "What reward do you ask for taking us
there?"

The braves conferred in a low voice, and at last the chief said:

"We will take you there, and feed you by the way, for five dollars
each"; which meant that, for a guinea, a man might travel four hundred
miles by water, in beautiful weather, and be fed for a whole week at
the least. Colton was about to offer them more, but his companion
checked him.

"Give them what you like extra at the end of the journey, but we must
haggle now, or they'll think we're worth robbing"; and he actually had
the face to beat the redskins down to three dollars a head, money
down.

"What did you get for your furs?" he asked, when his terms had been
agreed to. They named a sum which was a disgrace to the white agents,
for it meant that they had bought skins which the Indians had toiled
for months to get, and had brought all the way from the Saskatchewan,
for a sum that would yield about five hundred per cent profit.

"You see?" he whispered to his companion. "They've no idea of
values, poor chaps; a few dollars seem a gold-mine to them; and then,
when a man comes along and offers an honest price without any
bating, ten to one he'll be robbed and murdered because they think
he's a millionaire."

But the day was rapidly coming when unscrupulous persons could no
longer defraud the savages; writing only ten years later, an English
traveller deplores the extortionate charges made by the redskins for
even the most trifling service, and points out that he could have
bought furs in Regent Street as cheaply as they would sell them to any
private individual.

The two travellers paid their money, of course prepared to add
liberally to it at the journey's end, and their boat was pointed out
to them. The canoes were most of them very large, and capable of
seating a crew and a family. The one assigned to the white strangers
was manned by a chief and five braves; the other men, with their wives
and children, distributing themselves pretty equally between the
remaining canoes.

"How will they get these down? Or are they going to leave them?" asked
Colton, pointing to the huts, or lodges, as Barnes called them.

"Get them down? You might as well talk about taking home empty
wine-bottles and lobster claws after a picnic. They may take the
matting, but I doubt it. They can make and erect a hut in less than an
hour."

Hitherto the only Indian dwellings they had passed had been huts, or
else the well-known wigwams made of grass-cloth, or coarse linen; but
these "lodges" were very different. They were nearly dome-shaped; more
strictly, they were octagonal with a convex roof, and were constructed
by eight long, slender rods of some flexible wood being stuck in the
ground at equal distances; the tops were bent down till they met or
overlapped, and then bound securely together with vegetable fibre.
Lengths of bark, cut from the paper birch, were tied over these to
form a roof; and the sides were made, in some cases by hanging strips
of matting from pole to pole, but more commonly by erecting thatch
walls, speedily improvised with fibre and bundles of wild rice stalks,
which grew like rushes in the shallows. No attempt was made to remove
them, and they were left to the next comer--an altruistic practice
which had its reward; for other wandering Indians had done the same
thing higher up the lake, and more often than not, when the flotilla
stopped for the night, there was a camp of ready-made tents awaiting
the travellers.

All that week the two adventurers lived, like the proverbial
fighting-cock, on the fat of the land: sturgeon, salmon, woodcock,
wild-duck, venison, eggs, and sometimes fruit, were all to be had for
the asking; for, though the Chippewyans had no guns, they had spears
and arrows and quick sight. The boat's crew were decent fellows, who
soon lost their taciturnity and suspicion when they found the
passengers kindly and conversationally disposed; and they made no
demur at being asked, from time to time, to turn out of their way a
little, that Colton might explore one or other of the channels,
side-creeks, and rivulets that form part of the complicated water-way
between Minnesota and the Saskatchewan.

On one of these experimental cruises, the explorers found themselves
in an adventure which missed little of ending tragically. Barnes
suggested following a little stream that appeared to run parallel to
the main channel, and the Indians, who, of course, knew almost as
little about the byways of the vicinity as their passengers, were not
unready to indulge their own curiosity; if the stream did not bring
them into the open water again, they could soon turn back. The banks
were low and sparsely wooded, and suggested little in the shape of
either game or human habitation; but these features did but add to the
romance of the scene, and the two travellers were well content to go
on; more particularly when they saw that ahead of them the banks
promised to rise mountains high.

"We are coming to a cañon," murmured an Indian lazily. All the better;
Mr. Colton had never seen a cañon worth the name.

Gradually the speed of the canoe quickened, and the rowers' labours
became proportionately lighter; so much so that the chief looked
grave.

"We must go no farther," he cried. "With a current like this, there
must surely be rapids ahead."

"Then here's one who's for going back," said the Canadian, who knew,
far better than his companion, what this might imply; shooting low
rapids in small canoes, with Indians who knew every inch of the way,
was all very well; but who could say that there was not a second
Niagara within a few miles of them?

The Indians at once rested on their paddles, only to find that this
did not greatly arrest the progress of the boat. For once, curiosity
and indolence combined had got the better of their characteristic
wariness. The chief signed to the white men to move to the other end
of the boat, for there was no difference in the shape of her bows and
stern, and, the weight properly adjusted, she could be worked either
way and needed no turning. But even while they were obeying, the canoe
moved swiftly on again; two of the Indians, in the confusion, had had
their paddles swept from under them for a moment by the water, the
canoe swerved a little more towards midstream, and was at once caught
in an irresistible current.

"No good; we must take our chance now," said the chief. The note of
something approaching despair in his voice was not comforting to his
hearers.

"Come; we must make some effort," said the clergyman briskly. But his
friend shook his head.

"Leave them alone; they won't miss a chance. They know they may do
more harm than good with their paddles in a wash like this.--I say;
this _is_ going it."

The canoe was fairly held by the tide now, and the utmost that could
be done was for the chief and the bowman to keep her head straight.
The banks flew by at an appalling rate, rising higher and higher till
they formed an imposing cañon. Suddenly Barnes whistled under his
breath.

"Can you hear?" he said.

The distant rumble which had hitherto passed unnoticed, or at least
unconnected with coming danger, was swelling to a thunder roll that
could only proceed from a mighty rapid. Their plight was only too
horribly apparent now; in the ordinary course of events, nothing could
save them from the destruction awaiting them, and to attempt to make
matters better by trying to reach the smoother water under either
bank, would only be to make that destruction quite as sure and much
more swift. And the black dots ahead, where the current split into
forty currents and joined again beyond; what were they? Rocks, beyond
a doubt. That being the case, it was not easy to understand why the
chief's morose expression suddenly grew brighter. He made a motion
with his head, and one of the braves picked up and loosened a coil of
rope, muttering words in dialect to the other canoemen.

"O-ho! Sit tight," whispered Barnes.

The Indian had doubled his rope, so that the bight formed a
loop-noose; and now, on his knees across the bottom of the boat, with
the three unoccupied canoemen ready to bear a hand at a quarter of a
second's notice, he was watching a spike of rock that rose two or
three feet above the torrent, between which and a flat islet of stone,
the current was bearing them. Colton involuntarily half closed his
eyes; safety was so near now; yet so sickeningly doubtful. Now they
were up to the passage. At any rate, the bows had not dashed on to
either rock. Now they were through. Only a few yards beyond was a
ghastly vision of boulders--a whole bed of them, over which the
torrent surged and bubbled, and which they could never hope to pass.
He opened his eyes wide again. If they were alongside the little
pinnacle of rock, why did the Indian still remain motionless?

But, at that very moment, the lean brown arm shot past his head, as
though the brave had struck at him; the three waiting Indians fell
almost on to their faces grasping at something; there was a jerk that
brought a frightful spasm of pain to the face of the man who had
thrown the rope, and the boat had come to a stop. The bight had fallen
over the splinter of rock, and already the ends of rope had been made
fast to the canoe by the three waiting redskins, while the fourth held
the double line together till the chief had bound the two cords with a
thong, so completing the noose.

The men could now take enough breath to enable them to realise that,
so far, their case was not much better than it had been. As long as
the line held, they were in no danger of being dashed on to the rocks,
or beyond, to the distant rapids; but they could never paddle back;
and, though there was a little food in the boat, they must starve to
death in a few days if they stayed here.

"_There's_ the way out," said Barnes confidently, after a lengthy
silence.

Ay; it was a way out, but only such as a man of strong nerve could
follow. They who dared might leap on to the flat rock on the other
side of the canoe, walk across it, and, by a series of jumps, from one
to another of the three stepping-stones beyond, reach a low spit of
rock that ran out from the cliff foot; and from there the face of the
cañon might be scaled with tolerable ease, in one place, by means of
a series of ledges and boulders.

"I will climb up and examine," said one of the redskins; and he leapt
lightly across the awful current and began his walk over the rocks,
the rest watching in breathless suspense. In half an hour he was back
again, with the report that the top of the cliff was a narrow, barren
hill, sloping gently down on two of its sides; would they not do well
to abandon the canoe and walk back to the lake shore?

This course did not recommend itself to anyone; least of all to the
white men, who could not afford to leave their baggage behind. The
only other plan was to land, drag the canoe as far as possible out of
the current and into the fringe of smoother water, and then tow her;
and this they agreed to adopt. Five of the redskins were to climb up
to the cliff-top, carrying a tow line, and the remaining one was to
stay behind and steer.

[Illustration: AN ARDUOUS TASK

Five of the redskins climbed up to the cliff-top carrying a tow-line, and
the remaining one stayed behind to steer.]

Barnes and Colton were for accompanying the Indians; but when he came
to face the six-foot leap over that roaring torrent, the clergyman,
who was no longer young or very active, felt that in his case it would
be sheer suicide to attempt the jump; and he stayed behind with the
steersman. In so doing he well knew that he was not choosing the safer
course. For, the moment the mooring rope was removed, the boat began
to kick frightfully, and water was soon streaming over her bows. He
caught up a copper pot and began baling for dear life, till the sweat
ran out of him and his arms grew weary, and till the water had ceased
to flow in. Then he looked up at the other men; there they were,
fifty or sixty feet above him, straining like horses going uphill, in
their effort to fight the current below. What wonder that he looked
almost despairingly at the tow-line--a wretched contrivance hastily
rigged up by joining together all the ropes and thongs that the canoe
contained? How long was it going to stand the mere strain, let alone
the sawing and chafing that it must get from every abutting rock? At
such a time a man can do no more than keep a stiff upper lip, and
humbly leave his fate in the Hands that, for wise purposes, made
Nature at once as beautiful and as terrible as she is.

Suddenly the rector was aroused by the chief's voice.

"Can paddle! Yes! You see!"

The men at the top had paused for breath, but the line was no longer
so horribly taut, and the fact that the chief was beginning to propel
the boat at least sufficiently to cause the rope very soon to sag,
showed that the worst was over. In due time she was towed as far as
the low bank and the six men were taken aboard; but Mr. Colton never
again trusted himself down a strange river with canoemen who knew no
more about it than he.



CHAPTER XXV

A WALK ABOUT URUGUAY


Taken as a whole the Indians of Uruguay are--and have ever been--a
brave but peace-loving people, engaged principally in sheep and
cattle-rearing. No doubt the mildness of their character and pursuits
is largely due to considerations which are purely geographical; for
the sea and the Uruguay River together make the country almost an
island, to which the Argentine and Brazilian Indians would never
venture to penetrate. Further, there are--apart from the native
cattle--no large or fierce wild animals.

The latter fact is by no means generally known; and ignorance, or
doubt of it, led the late Thomas Woodbine Hinchcliff to take a trip
across from Buenos Ayres to the little state in the hope of finding
jaguars, pumas, or other animals more worthy of a sportsman's gun than
those which he had seen round about Buenos Ayres.

Mr. Hinchcliff was a London barrister, but is better remembered as the
first president of the Alpine Club, and the man who did more than any
of his contemporaries to popularise mountaineering. In 1861, while
touring in South America, he went ashore from a Uruguay River
steamer, quite alone and with only provisions for a couple of days,
determined to explore one of the mountain forests, and, if possible,
to reach San José, the largest of the inland towns.

A fourteen-mile walk across a well-wooded plain brought him in sight
of a Gaucho farmstead, where he was made very welcome and persuaded to
stay the night; and it was here that he learned the futility of
attempting to find any big game shooting in the country, and that
there was nothing special to see at San José.

In consequence, he altered his course in the morning, making direct
for the most accessible of the mountain forests, and, arrived here, he
wandered about with the ecstasy of a man who has discovered an earthly
paradise. It was the Amazon forest over again, with all its beauties
and advantages and none of its drawbacks; a climate similar to that of
Algiers, a wealth of fruit and flowers and streams and birds; and no
deadly swamps, no suffocating heat, no jaguars or alligators, and
apparently no snakes. He made his dinner of fruit and continued his
wanderings, with a result that he might well have foreseen: when night
came, he was utterly lost. He slept sweetly enough, however, under a
tree, and after a hearty breakfast, continued his wanderings.

By evening he came to an outlet, and found himself on an undulating
grass plain, but, as no habitation was in sight, he finished his
provisions and philosophically resigned himself to another night in
the fresh air.

He awoke early, conscious of two things; the one that he was hungry,
the other that a beast whose like he had never seen, in or out of a
show, was gravely inspecting him from a distance of a few feet. Was it
a bull, or a bison, or a nightmare? Without question it had the body
of a bull, but the face was far more like that of a bull-dog, for the
nostrils were placed high up, and the lower jaw protruded in such a
fashion, that the teeth showed ferociously, whether the mouth was
closed or open.

He reached for his gun, which he had laid ready loaded on going to
bed; the beast looked well capable of goring or trampling him to death
at less than a minute's notice. But even while, half sitting, half
lying, he took aim for the creature's eye, a general lowing sounded
from farther down the hill, and the bull turned and ran swiftly down
the slope. The bewildered Englishman arose and was now able to learn
the cause of the lowing. A dozen mounted Indians were in the valley,
their horses standing motionless, while two more, approaching from the
left and right sides of the hill, were seeking to frighten a small
herd of the remarkable-looking animals into the valley. The bull, no
doubt the recognised protector of his tribe, whom curiosity had
betrayed into a momentary neglect of duty, had heard the bellowings of
alarm, and was hastening to the defence of his kindred.

But even as he charged wrathfully down the hill, the nearer of the
Indians made a motion with his arm, and he fell with a crash that was
distinctly audible to the spectator above; while the second Indian,
spurring his horse and bawling at the top of his voice, rode straight
at the retreating cattle; these, of course, became panic-stricken and
ran helter-skelter down towards the spot where the unruffled horsemen
were awaiting them with lassoes. From his vantage ground, Hinchcliff
watched the proceedings with breathless interest. For a minute or so a
whole maze of lassoes showed against the background of the next slope,
curling and twirling; then the herd fled, some right, some left; some
to rush away out of sight, others to be pulled up in mid-career by the
fatal thong that had been deftly thrown over their horns; and so
suddenly and sharply, that in most cases they fell to the ground.

The Englishman walked quickly towards his particular bull, which lay
roaring piteously, but the animal was up again before he could reach
him; the Indian had dismounted, slipped a noose over the roarer's
head, and untwisted from his forelegs what Hinchcliff at once
recognised as a _bolas_--three thongs of equal length, the upper ends
joined, the lower loose, and each terminating in a ball of metal or
heavy wood.

The redskin, whose only garment was a pair of loose-fitting trousers
made of deer-skin, looked inquisitively at the stranger and gave him a
respectful "good morning" in Spanish; adding to the bull, which was
beginning to toss his head and stamp, "Useless, old friend; useless;
we have coveted you this many a day," and even while he spoke he
vaulted across his horse and started away at a breakneck speed,
dragging his captive after him, willy-nilly.

By the time the pedestrian reached the valley, the prisoners seemed to
have become sullenly reconciled to their fate, for they were making
no attempt to struggle, and some had even begun to crop the grass at
their feet, leaving their captors free to inspect the stranger.
Hinchcliff told them, in Spanish, that he had lost his way and wanted
some breakfast.

"It is many miles to our town," said the young man who had caught the
disturber of his peace; "but we shall breakfast here when we have made
our cattle fast. You are welcome to share our food."

His companions echoed the invitation, and, the cattle being secured to
the neighbouring trees, the Indians seated themselves by a pool and
shared their breakfast of chocolate-cake, bread and beef with their
guest, who now began to notice the queer bulls and cows more closely.
The hind legs were markedly longer than the front ones, and, whenever
they moved, they seemed to be looking for pasture, for they
persistently kept their heads low and their necks sloping.

"We call them _niata_," was the reply to a question of his. "The best
and youngest will be kept for breeding; the rest will be slaughtered
for _carne seca_."

_Carne seca_, the very meat to which the hungry Englishman was doing
such abundant justice, is beef dried in the sun; and for the last
fifty years, Uruguay has been exporting immense quantities of it all
over South America. The _niata_ cattle are peculiar to Uruguay and La
Plata, and are probably the only kind indigenous to South America.

When breakfast was finished, the question naturally arose, whither did
the señor wish to be guided? In point of fact, the señor had seen
quite enough of the woods and hills for one while, and lost no time
in making up his mind that he would like to visit their village,
provided there was some means of riding there.

One of the Indians pointed to his horse.

"Neither of us is very heavy; you can ride behind me. If you hold by
my waistband you will be perfectly safe."

It was a method of locomotion new to the explorer; but now that the
morning was growing warm and he was away from the shade of the forest,
it would be decidedly preferable to walking; and he meekly mounted
behind this good Samaritan.

At starting, the cattle became obstinate for a while; but superior
force and intelligence prevailed; the horses were not the deplorable
scarecrows of the Argentine, but stout, well-fed animals, that
understood the business of catching and driving refractory bulls as
well as their masters; and they closed in on the _niata_, hustling
them with knees and shoulders, till they were glad enough to walk in
sober fashion. All the same, the journey to the Indian town was not to
be entirely void of adventure. Outside the village was a stream some
forty feet wide, deep, but easily fordable in some places; and this
would have to be crossed.

"We always swim our horses across," said Hinchcliff's companion; "but
if we have cattle with us, it is safer to go a little out of our way
to this ford. Why, good Lord! only last year one of our men was
killed--cut nearly in halves, if the señor will believe me--through a
bull hanging back on the bank after his horse had started to swim. The
horse took fright, and backed so that the man got the lasso drawn
round him and--Bah!"

Cattle and horses plunged into the water and all landed safely on the
other side without more ado, except the horse that carried the two
men. Whether it was that he was less used to the water, or was merely
restive at the unaccustomed weight, it was impossible to say; but,
when he was about a fifth of the way across, he stopped and began to
kick; and the Englishman, with the gruesome story of the man who was
sawn through by a lasso still in his mind, felt that he was in no
enviable position.

"Sit tight, Señor," shouted the Indian, putting the bridle into his
hand and jumping down so suddenly, that Hinchcliff had barely time to
clutch at the saddle and steady himself.

"Keep his head straight; don't let him jib." Then water began to
splash liberally in the face of the disobedient horse, which
immediately plunged forward, stopping whenever the splashing ceased.
The Englishman could not refrain from throwing an inquiring glance
over his shoulder, and then he was very much tempted to burst out
laughing; for the Indian, up to his shoulders in water, was grasping
the animal's tail with one hand, and beating the water into his face
with the other. And so, with much patience, horse and rider and
helmsman landed on the other bank.

The town, its inhabitants and their actions, were very much what
Hinchcliff had seen in Brazil and the Argentine; very orderly and
simple and not too cleanly. The people refused to take any money for
their hospitality, and it was only with difficulty that he persuaded
the chief, on bidding him good-bye the next day, to accept a small sum
to hold in trust for any one of his subjects who might happen to be in
want. The truth is, that where they have not been demoralised by white
people, savage tribes are usually simple enough in their habits; none
of them is ever in want, and poverty, as understood in civilised
countries, is almost unknown. A man works (or, more properly speaking,
makes his wife work) not for a fixed sum, but for the necessaries of
life merely; and the Indian tribes, whether of North or South, have
little of the insatiable cupidity of the Asiatic or the negro.

After a night in the village, Hinchcliff set out to find his way back
to the river by a different route, avoiding the woods and endeavouring
to follow a faintly-marked horse-track over the grassy hills. This
procedure nearly led him into a difficulty far more serious than that
of losing his way in a luxuriant forest, for he missed his road and
got on to one where there was no sign of a stream, and where the pools
had nothing but dry mud to offer him, so that he went all the
afternoon and night without tasting a drop of water. He woke before
daybreak, almost delirious, and set off at the best pace he could
contrive for some low-lying land, which he had failed to notice
overnight.

All at once a strongly built Indian started up from the ground fifty
yards in front of him, and, after one look at him, began to flee down
the hill.

"Stop! I want you; I want water," shouted Hinchcliff.

The fleeing figure turned its head as though straining to catch the
words, but still ran on. Then the thirsting man grew desperate, and,
determined to make the man help him to find water, raised his gun and
pretended to take aim at him. Immediately the fugitive stopped.

"Water!" shouted Hinchcliff. "I have lost my way, and am dying of
thirst."

The Indian appeared to reflect for a moment, and at last made towards
his pursuer, disengaging a large water-gourd from his belt as he
walked.

"What made you run away?" panted the Englishman, when he had emptied
the gourd at one draught.

"I saw your gun and I was frightened. We do not like firearms, Señor;
and here in the lowlands we seldom see white men.--You have lost your
way, you say?"

"Yes; I want to reach the river."

"I am going that way and will show you it; it is but a few miles. But
first, with your permission, I will finish what I was doing when I
caught sight of you."

He sat down, and from a round wooden box, began to cover his fingers
liberally with a lard-like substance which he proceeded to rub over
his face, shoulders, breast, arms, and waist.

"I have been much indoors, lately; sick," he explained; "and the
insects trouble me greatly. They will not sting through this ointment.
Some of our more ignorant people use mud instead; but I--I have lived
in towns at times; I am more learned."

The Indian was, in truth, a very intelligent man, and Hinchcliff
found him a most interesting companion. He soon discovered a stream
where they could drink their fill; he asked questions about the
weapons that had frightened him so much, and even so far overcame his
fear of firearms as to offer to carry the gun a little way; an offer
that was declined with thanks. When the wonderful instrument brought
down a fine young ostrich for dinner, the unsophisticated fellow
actually put his lips to the barrel. Quick to turn his hand to any
open-air work, he plucked and cleaned the bird and collected sticks
and dry pampas grass for the fire; whereupon another surprise awaited
him; for Hinchcliff was growing very short of matches, and was in the
habit of economising them by using a burning-glass for lighting his
pipe and his fire. And this was the only occasion on which an Indian
ever asked him for anything, even indirectly; on receiving a hint that
his companion would give the world to possess such a wonderworking
implement, he handed it to him readily enough; for, if necessary, he
could easily use one of the lenses of his field-glass for getting a
light.

Shortly before sunset, as the two trudged along towards the river,
which had long been in sight, the Indian, after a sudden glance behind
him, set off at a sharp run, making for a tiny valley that opened
between the hills on his left.

"_Now_ what?" shouted the astonished Englishman. As he turned to look
back, the sound of approaching horses caught his ear, and he saw an
Indian and three Gauchos riding at full speed, followed closely by a
man who rode like a European. They wheeled for the valley at once,
and reached it long before the fleeing Indian, who turned back
shrieking towards Hinchcliff.

"Shoot, Señor; for the love of all the Saints; shoot them dead; they
are bad men," he gasped in an agonised voice.

This was rather a large call on a man who came from a country where to
shoot people is a capital crime; but the piteous appeal for help in
the fugitive's face was irresistible. If an Englishman is averse to
taking pot-shots at strangers, he is generally quite as loth to see
the weaker side go to the wall. While he was asking himself what was
the best thing to do, the foremost Gaucho made a sudden motion with
his arm, the noose of a lasso dropped over the Indian's head, and he
was jerked over on to his back. At sight of the bulging eyes of the
half-strangled victim, Hinchcliff pulled out his knife and was about
to slash the thong through, when the second Gaucho, springing to the
ground, flung himself in the way and presented a pistol.

"We are acting under orders," he said. "Be careful what you do.--All
right; loose him and tie his hands, Juan."

"You are sure that's your man?" asked the European stranger, hurrying
up. He had spoken in such execrable Spanish, that Hinchcliff said
unceremoniously:

"Englishman, aren't you?"

"Yes; I am British vice-consul for this district. Question for
question--is this a friend of yours?"

"No; merely a paid guide; but----"

"Then you don't know that he is the cleverest thief and prison-breaker
in Uruguay, if what these fellows say is true. I only met them by
accident a little higher up; but I know it's a fact that an Indian
prisoner broke loose from San José gaol the other day."

"There's no mistaking _him_," said the man who was binding the
prisoner. "But let the tracker decide." (A "tracker" is an Indian who
hires himself out as a sort of blood-hound, to catch horse-thieves,
stray cattle, etc.) "He knows him well enough."

No mistake had been made; the simple--but teachable--Indian was the
man who was wanted; and a most respectable barrister of the Inner
Temple had spent a whole day chatting affably with a notorious
criminal, who would assuredly have robbed him of his gun and money had
the opportunity arisen.



CHAPTER XXVI

THE EXPLORATION OF THE SALADO VALLEY


When poor Charles Mansfield made his journey up to the unknown Chaco,
he passed, on his way, a district equally unknown at that time: the
valley of the Salado River, which remained unexplored till 1863, when
Hutchinson, the African traveller, traced the river to its source.
Thomas Hutchinson, F.R.S., had been appointed British Consul at
Rosario in 1862, and, before leaving England, had been instructed by
the Foreign Secretary (Earl Russell) to take the first opportunity of
exploring the Salado and its basin, and to test the truth of the
report that the Indian territory there abounded in wild cotton.

It was not till the following year that he could spare time for a task
which might occupy an indefinite period; and then he ascended the
Parana by steamer as far as Parana City, rode across to Santa Fé,
which is on the Salado River, and there began to make inquiries.
Generally, a man on such an errand finds plenty of people ready to
pour cold water on his schemes and to draw his attention to
innumerable obstacles; but this time the reverse was the case. Though
he could find none of the inhabitants who had ever been more than a
few miles higher up than Santa Fé, when he returned to his hotel that
evening, the landlord informed him that a gentleman who was now in the
smoking-room had just arrived by private steamer from Buenos Ayres,
and had been asking the same question as himself: did anyone know
anything of the upper part of the Salado?

The stranger was one, Don Ruberta, a young Argentino engineer who had
studied in London; he had been making a survey of the Colorado and Rio
Negro, and aspired to do the same on the Salado. He proposed starting
on the following morning, and at once begged the Consul to accept the
hospitality of his little launch; and so it came about that outlying
Guaranis, Quiteños, and Chiquitos were enabled to behold a steam
vessel--and probably an Englishman--for the first time.

The crew, which consisted of a Portuguese engineer and three Zambos,
were as ignorant of the neighbourhood as their employer; but the main
charm in river exploration lies in the fact that, so long as rapids,
or dilemma-like forks, or mud-banks do not intervene, you have but to
follow your nose. On the first day they passed sundry Indians in
canoes, but these evinced no excitement or curiosity. Don Ruberta had
divided his coal into two parts, and meant, if necessary, to steam for
as long as the first half held out. At night the vessel stopped from
dark till dawn, to avoid mud-banks, and in order that the explorers
might miss nothing that could be of importance. By the middle of the
second day they came to a _rancheria_, or collection of Gaucho huts,
standing about a mile back from the left bank; and, as it looked as
if some valuable information might be obtained here, the two men
landed and strolled up the hill.

The place was a very large horse-farm, but the Gauchos could tell them
little or nothing of what they wanted to know, for their trade was all
with Santiago or Cordoba, and they never had occasion to use the
river. But one of the employés, a Quiteño Indian who hailed from the
Bolivian frontier, said modestly that he could tell the señors all
they needed to know about the river.

"Then will you come with me as pilot for a few days?" asked Ruberta.

"I will come--that is, if you are well armed. For there are wild
people higher up, who eat man's flesh; they run from guns, but they do
not fear arrows unless there are many bowmen. Then, too, there are the
river Chiquitos, who may blow poisoned darts at us unless we keep them
at a distance."

No objection was raised by the Gauchos, to whom Hutchinson gave a
small money present, and the Indian retired to "pack up." The luggage
with which he very shortly reappeared was doubtless cumbersome; but
then it comprised all that he needed, whether for a journey to the
United States, or for setting up housekeeping permanently. Over his
shoulders were slung bow, quiver, blanket, lance, and copper pot; in
one hand he carried a hatchet, a bundle of lassoes, and two bolas; in
the other, some spare thongs, a well-seasoned paddle, a pair of
stirrups, each as big and wellnigh as heavy as the skidpan of a
waggon-wheel, the sharpened angles of which did duty for spurs; while
at his belt hung a knife and a deer-skin pouch, the latter containing
flint and steel, palmetto-leaves, tobacco, and a little bag of dried
_maté_. Happy Quiteño; he was ready for any emergency; whether
fighting, boat-building, horse-catching, or beast-slaying! Of the
launch he had not much opinion; if it did not sink with all that
weight of machinery, it would catch fire at any moment; nothing would
persuade him to sleep in the tiny forecastle with the Zambos, and he
passed the night wrapped in his blanket on deck.

The _rancheria_, he said, was the last civilised spot they would pass,
for Tucuman was many days' journey away from the water; so was Salta;
and, after that, the river became only a stream, running through the
territory of the Aymaras. The cotton he knew nothing about, which,
from Hutchinson's point of view, was awkward, as it would mean many
landings and perhaps many fruitless searches.

The next morning the Consul woke soon after dawn, to find the guide
peering through the hatch of the little after-cabin where he and
Ruberta slept.

"The man-eaters have come," whispered the Quiteño; "they have been
watching us all night, I suppose. If you bring your gun you can kill
many of them."

Hutchinson went on deck and looked towards the nearer bank, which was
about eight yards away. Crouching behind the reeds were some fifty
Indians. He called out to them in Spanish; they made no answer, but
slunk backwards a few steps up the slope, so bringing themselves into
full view. They were of medium height, stark naked, with no ornaments
whatever, and armed only with short spears. The explorer had seen
Niger savages and Fuegians, but neither had the debased, abject look
of these men.

"Speak to them in your tongue. Tell them we mean no harm," he said.

The Quiteño obeyed, and it was plain that they at least partially
understood him.

"The dogs!" he said scornfully. "They think our boat is alive. May I
kill them, Señor?"

"Rubbish. Tell them I and my friend are coming on shore after
breakfast.--Ah, Señor Don; here are the cannibals, you see."

"What do they say?" asked Ruberta, laughing.

"The dogs!" reiterated the guide. "They say that my people kill and
eat them;" and he would have unslung his bow, but that Hutchinson
stayed him.

"Tell them we will do them no harm, and that we are only coming to
look for flowers; but that if they attempt to injure us we shall kill
them." This menace was more to the Indian's taste, and he delivered
the latter part of it with unction.

"They say they are not afraid of _you_, gentlemen, because you have no
bows. It is I whom they fear."

The crew had now come on deck, and at their appearance, one by one
from the bowels of the boat as it were, the savages retreated still
farther. The Zambo cook, as usual, laid the explorers' breakfast on
deck.

"Let's test them with a little Christian diet," said Ruberta, flinging
a bunch of bananas towards the inquisitive crowd, who at once
scrambled for it. Those who succeeded in getting one of the fruits ate
it greedily, rind and all, which told a tale: there was no fruit about
here, and the savages, not having energy or courage to travel, had
never tasted such a delicacy. Hutchinson cut off a thick round of cold
ham and threw it after the bananas. The man who captured it took a big
bite, and while he coughed and spluttered at it, his neighbour
snatched the remainder from him, and was soon coughing in like manner.
They had never tasted salt.

"Try them with bread," said Ruberta to the cook, who took a steaming
cake from his frying-pan and threw it on the bank. But no one picked
it up. Already the smoke from the engine-funnel had surprised if not
terrified them.

"They think it is alive," said the Quiteño, "because it steams. They
are not men, Señors; they are monkeys; they do not understand half
what I say to them, and I suggest that your excellencies should kill
them all."

Hutchinson had already taken it for granted that they did not
understand all that was said, for accustomed to listening attentively
to uncivilised speech, he had detected in theirs that continual
repetition of certain sounds, which argues a scanty vocabulary. When
breakfast was finished he filled his pipe, and Ruberta rolled up a
cigarette; this brought the Indians a pace nearer again, and made them
stand on tiptoe; but when one of the white men struck a match they
sprang back again, and, at sight of the smoke issuing from the
strangers' lips, they set up a chorus of little shrieks that
suggested even more fear than surprise; and was repeated with double
vigour when the Quiteño and the crew also "lit up." That an Indian, of
all people, had never seen smoking told a tale in itself.

"Now draw in, Pedro," said Ruberta to his engineer, who backed his
engine, making towards a natural landing-place which had been observed
on the previous night. "Diego; tell them once more we will not hurt
them."

The Quiteño repeated the message, which seemed to be received with
indifference; but, as he leapt ashore, every spear was poised, and
levelled at him.

"Come back. Ask them what's the matter," said Hutchinson.

Diego jumped back to the deck.

"They are saying that I want to kill them with my spear and arrows."

"Well, then, let them see you lay them down."

"I cannot go without my arms, Señor."

"Stupid fellow; borrow Señor Pedro's revolver, but hide it in your
pouch; if they see it, they'll want it, because it shines." Then the
explorer, versed in the ways of such people, held up a string of
bright beads. He might as well have held up a turnip, for all the
excitement or cupidity it created; and some scarlet cloth met with no
better reception.

"Shall I try them with these, Señor?" said the Zambo cook, coming aft
with a small basket of yesterday's fish which he had been keeping for
bait.

_That_ they understood; their eyes brightened a little--a very little;
and, as the half-breed threw each raw and anything but fresh fish to
them, it was scrambled for and greedily devoured.

The Quiteño now jumped a second time; the Indians started distrustfully,
but did not threaten him with their spears, and the two white men
followed him, their hands prudently on their hidden revolvers. The
savages chattered excitedly, but still made no offensive motion.

"Ask them about the cotton, Diego," said the Argentino. "Tall yellow
flowers, with purple spots, tell them."

"Yellow? What? Flowers? We eat them," was the lucid reply which Diego
obtained.

The truth was, the poor wretches were so degraded and helpless, that
apart from obeying such elementary instincts as eating and killing,
they knew nothing, thought nothing, understood nothing. They ate
anything that they could chew or swallow: flowers, roots, slugs,
beetles, and such fish, birds, or reptiles as they had the wit to
kill; perhaps they filled their stomachs with mud upon occasion, as
many savages are said to do; perhaps they actually were cannibals,
and, like some of the Fuegians, ate their dead relatives instead of
burying them. Altogether it was a sad spectacle; sadder still if one
reflects that they may possibly have had in their veins the blood of a
once powerful people.

As the strangers advanced, the Indians drew off, walking backwards and
at a similar pace to theirs. The bank gave on to a shrub-dotted plain,
covered with flowers of all colours, and, in patches, with giant
thistles. Snipe started up from the ground at the sound of the
voices; in the distance were a few ostriches and wild cattle; but as
the only weapon which the natives seemed to possess was this kind of
club with a fish-bone point bound to it with a strip of fish-skin, it
is probable that neither birds nor beasts suffered much at their
hands.

This visit was not thrown away, for Hutchinson soon found enough wild
cotton to encourage the hope that there was more in the neighbourhood.
Meanwhile, Ruberta asked how the savages caught their fish. It turned
out that they had even forgotten how to make lines, let alone hooks;
they had no boats, and were dependent on spearing such fish as came
under the banks from time to time. Where the poor souls lived was a
mystery; not a habitation of any sort was visible. Only once more did
they show anger or animation. Diego was questioning them, when all of
a sudden they stopped and extended their spears, as if to bar the
intruders' passage; and, for a moment, their wooden expression gave
place to something like ferocity and rage.

"What have you been saying to them?" asked Hutchinson anxiously.

"I merely asked what they had done with their women and children."

The question was indiscreet, as the explorer could have told him; but
their mode of answering it was interesting, as showing that the poor
fellows had some little sense of proprietorship, if not of the duty of
protecting those who should be dependent on them. Most likely they had
sent the women and children away, on finding that strangers were in
the neighbourhood--a sign of suspicion, if not of meditated war,
common among all Indians from the Eskimos to the Fuegians.

"They needn't think we're likely to want to marry into their tribe,"
said Ruberta. "I think we have seen about enough of them now. Let's
get rid of them." He drew his revolver and fired into a flock of wild
duck that were making for the water. A startled scream rose from all
the Indians; they turned and fled for perhaps fifty yards; then
stopped and looked back; but just then the three Zambos who were
loitering on the bank began running towards their employer, thinking
the report was a danger signal; and this completed the panic of the
savages, who fled over the nearest hill and were seen no more.

The launch proceeded another two days' journey up the river, and this
brought the travellers in sight of the distant peaks of the Andes. It
was a positive relief here to meet with Indians who could help
themselves, after the animal-like beings seen lower down. They began
to pass canoes, and sometimes neat and prosperous villages peopled by
Christian Guaranis and Quiteños; and now, as Ruberta wanted to stop
and make geological researches, Hutchinson decided to continue the
journey by land, and, taking Diego with him, agreed to return to the
launch in a few days' time.

Diego enlivened the journey; he chatted, hunted, introduced his master
to various wandering Indians, as well as surprised him by his
dexterity in the use of the bolas. He had consented to leave his
paddle, cooking-pot, and spear in the boat, but could not be
prevailed upon to part with his lassoes, bolas, and stirrups. Such
Indians as he are almost lost without a horse, and he showed
Hutchinson before long that he meant to have one. As though to keep
his hand in, he practised from time to time on the ostriches with his
bolas, bringing down the ungainly birds with perfect ease from a
distance of sixty or seventy yards. The weapon used for such work as
this was lighter than that described in the last chapter, and
consisted of only two joined thongs, the balls being pebbles covered
with leather.

At the next village Hutchinson found that an ox-waggon was about to
start for the spot which he wished to reach, and, having little
admiration for the domestic horses of the neighbourhood, and no
ambition to ride one of the wild ones which Diego was so confident of
catching, he resolved to travel in this manner. But Diego had a soul
above such a conveyance, and, that very evening, while the oxen were
being unyoked, he stole away towards a small group of horses that were
browsing on the plain. It was becoming a question of "do or die" with
him now, for every step was taking the travellers farther from the
region where horses are to be seen in any numbers. The Consul had many
times seen a lasso used from the saddle, but he could not understand
how Master Diego proposed to catch a horse while he was on foot; and
he watched him eagerly through his field-glass.

Crawling on his belly, the Quiteño patiently worked his way towards
the nearest horse, and no sooner did the animal turn his back on him,
than he sprang up, and the noose had secured him. So far, so good;
but did Diego expect the animal to follow him like a pup on the lead,
or a donkey in the shafts? thought the Consul. The horse gave a wild
spring, and, for a second, the Indian was almost dragged off his feet;
then he began to "play" his capture.

Diego was a fine-looking man, over six feet high, and with limbs as
hard as a stone, though they were so slender; and he had no hesitation
in pitting his own strength against the horse's. With infinite
patience he stood, the centre of a circle, while the frightened
creature ran off his first fit of energy, round and round his captor;
then, having spied a clump of trees not far away, the Quiteño let
himself be dragged towards these; and, before the horse had realised
that he was running to his doom, the lasso had taken a turn round the
nearest trunk and was soon hitched there immovable.

By morning the prisoner was in a humbler frame of mind, and, under
pressure, submitted to be loose-hobbled; Diego vaulted on to his back
without thought of saddle or bridle, and, holding his mane, buffeted
him so mercilessly over the face and withers, that Hutchinson was
tempted to serve him the same. Less than half an hour of this
management made the animal sufficiently tractable to submit to being
saddled; and, with the skid-pan stirrups, the rest was perfectly
easy--and disgusting.



CHAPTER XXVII

BUSINESS AND PLEASURE ON THE LLANOS


South America is the land of revolution and civil war, and Venezuela
has not been far behind the other republics in its indulgence in such
pastimes. In 1864, five out of seven provinces that had been enrolled
the previous year seceded, and the Commander-in-Chief, General Paez,
was kept busy between subduing seceders and warding off Colombian
invasion.

It is common enough to find an English gentleman filling any
imaginable capacity, from highest to lowest, in America; but one is
scarcely prepared to meet, on the Llanos, a young Venezuelan speaking
or writing the language of an educated Englishman, and carrying into
his fighting, his hunting and his dealings with the Indians all the
best traditions of manliness and fair play characteristic of our
public schools. Yet such a man "might have been seen" (as Ainsworth or
G. P. R. James would say) riding beside the Republican General as his
secretary and aide-de-camp. This was young Ramon Paez, the General's
nephew, who, on account of his father's exile, was brought up mainly
in England, and educated at Stonyhurst; and who, after taking an Arts
degree at London University, returned to his own country and joined
his uncle in the north-west of Venezuela, in 1866.

Late in the year, while they were quieting the Colombian frontier, he
received a commission which would have made an English aide-de-camp
stare; his uncle sent for him, and told him without preliminary that
he was to ride back to the Orinoco plains, catch three thousand wild
horses, and bring them to the camp for the extra cavalrymen who had
enlisted.

"Take three troopers with you; it is all I can spare; it will probably
be enough." Of course, Ramon Paez did not question his last remark,
but he had his own opinion on the subject. "You can take three extra
horses; two to carry your provisions, and the third you can load up
with presents for the Indians."

So; it was the Indians who were to do the work! Young Paez had almost
left them out of his calculations.

The presents--beads, knives, briar pipes, condemned small arms,
etc.--were soon collected and packed, and the four men rode away in
search of natives and horses. The Indians were not easy to find; at
least not the Indians of the right sort; of the wrong sort--idlers,
camp-followers, and hangers-on, who had quarrelled with hard work the
day they were born and never become reconciled--there were plenty. But
it was not till they reached the Orinoco and had travelled down it for
a couple of days, that they came across any who looked like the men
they wanted. These were fishing, and the workmanlike way in which
they went about their task augured well for the success of the
aide-de-camp's mission.

He entered into conversation with them and learned that, some miles
farther south, horses of a very fine breed were plentiful; and, after
a hint from him as to pecuniary reward and a probable distribution of
presents, they agreed to refer the matter to their cacique, and if he
should raise no objection, to start on the morrow.

The young Venezuelan watched the native sport with keen interest, for,
till lately, he had seen nothing of the kind since his childhood. The
net--a kind of ground-seine--was rectangular, with a square flap at
either end, and the back weighted at right angles to the bottom; in
fact, while it was down, it might be likened in shape to an enormous
box which has had the lid and one of its sides removed. It was shot
from two canoes about fifty yards from the bank, its back and ends
being stiffened and kept in place by canes, or lengths of _palma
morice_ stalks. When it had been down for about half an hour, the two
canoes--strictly keeping pace with one another--moved so slowly
towards the bank, that scarcely a ripple was made; the tow-lines were
thrown ashore, and the net dragged into the shallow.

Considering the marvellous variety of fish which the Orinoco
possesses, the result was a little disappointing to an onlooker; for
the catch, though very large, consisted almost entirely of but two
kinds: the electric eel, and a creature peculiar to tropical South
America--the _payara_--the size of a small salmon; this had its lower
jaw supplied with fangs, which the Indians said cut like razors. As
the net was pulled into the shallows, an Indian waved his hand
warningly to the four soldiers who were standing by.

"Be careful, gentlemen; beware of the _caribe_! Pray stand farther
back; your red sashes will attract them."

As he spoke, some small fish leapt out of the water and into the net.
"Quick; quick with the forks!"

Half a dozen long slender canes, each ending in two metal prongs like
those of a carving-fork, were instantly produced, and it was soon
plain enough why such implements were required. Those few little green
fish, so beautifully barred with red and orange, were like bulls in a
china shop; they leapt, wriggled, or swam about the net, biting first
the fish and then the net as viciously as rats; and Paez stared to see
mesh after mesh snapped through before the Indians could eject them
with their forks.

"If they could have got near you they would have bitten you in the
same manner," said the principal of the fishermen, when he had got rid
of the last of the _caribes_. "Anything red will attract them. We dare
not attempt to swim a spurred horse through here, for he would be
bitten to death, or till he was mad, before he reached the other side.
I have seen a white man killed by them, merely because he happened to
have a red scratch on his leg when he entered the water."

                  *       *       *       *       *

The cacique was interviewed, and not only granted permission for the
whole tribe to go on the hunting expedition, but announced his own
intention of going; and, early the following morning, they all started
southwards with a good supply of lassoes. The Indians--one of the
Cariban tribes--were the finest horsemen Paez had seen; and this was
the more noteworthy, inasmuch as the Caribs as a whole care little for
riding; many of those of the forest regions and of the Central
American mountains have never seen such a thing as a horse; and we
know that the cavalry of the Spanish adventurers terrified the
sixteenth-century Caribs as much as Pyrrhus' elephants disconcerted
the Romans and their horses. Yet these Venezuelan natives rode as if
they had been born on horseback, and made no more ado of eating their
dinner while they were in the saddle than as though it had been an
arm-chair.

The nearer the cavalcade drew to the softer grass of the Llano, the
more wild horses they saw; and Paez, who had never yet used a lasso,
was for making his maiden effort on one of these; till the cacique
warned him that "horses can tell things to each other;" and that these
scouts, if chased, would easily escape and caution the larger herds,
thereby lengthening out the hunt by an extra week or more.

But at length they saw enough of the animals to satisfy the most wary
of caciques; they could only be counted by the herd; it seemed as
though all the horses in America had been turned out to grass on this
particular spot. From the matter-of-fact way in which the three
troopers went to work, the chief saw at once that they had little to
learn from his tribe; but he bade Paez, in fatherly fashion, to keep
close to him and "watch how he did it."

The young officer's riding was perfect; but, after his first one or
two efforts with the lasso, he was tempted to forswear horse-catching.
The thing would not go right; either he ran his noose too small, or
too large, or it fell short, or missed wildly; or, worse still, got in
the way of the other hunters, so that they gave him a wide berth.
However, he persevered, and towards the close of the first day,
actually succeeded in dropping the noose over the head of a fine black
stallion; and in imagination he saw himself bestriding him proudly, to
the envy of all his mess. But the beautiful creature, finding the
thong about him, gave a leap that seemed to tear his captor's saddle
from under him; then another, that almost pulled the ridden horse off
his feet; then sped across the plain as though he moved on wings.

Ramon Paez was certainly as strong as most young men of one-and-twenty
who lead active outdoor lives, and he had distinguished himself in
every variety of English sport from boxing to ferreting; but he could
no more stop or haul in this wild horse, than he could have lassoed
the Flying Dutchman. The line was as taut as a fiddle-string, and his
own mount, unused to such diversions, was being drawn along
irresistibly. How much farther did the outraged beast intend to drag
horse and rider?

"Let him run himself out, Señor," bawled one of his troopers, as the
stallion fled past the outer line of hunters.

The recommendation was superfluous, for this was the very thing the
noble animal seemed to intend doing. He galloped another half-mile,
then changed his mind, as though the strangulation were beginning to
tell on him. He swung straight round as if resigned to the notion of
going back to the rest, hesitated, then caught the slackening thong in
his teeth and bit at it as savagely as a wild ass. Naturally the
beginner at once turned his own horse, meaning to pay his prisoner out
in his own coin; and spurring vigorously, headed towards the central
part of the hunt. But this did not please the irate captive, and,
after useless efforts to stand--first on his dignity and then on his
head, he made a dead weight of himself for an instant, then took
several successive bounds forward, easily outstripping his tormentor
and slackening the pressure of the noose.

"Is the brute going to dance?" Don Paez asked himself wrathfully.

This was just what the brute was going to do; not after the common or
circus fashion, but with the fixed idea of crushing the lad's arm with
his great jaws. The young man's fine horsemanship was the only thing
that could now save him from a bite which would not only mangle a
limb, but would probably lead to blood-poisoning--a disease not
exactly sought after in England, and almost sure to be fatal in the
tropics. He backed, and the line tightened; but the stallion was on
him again in another spring. He backed once more, dodged to the right,
to the left, waved his arm at the infuriated creature, but to no
purpose; and, though he would have bitten his tongue out before he
would own himself beaten, by shouting for help, he felt that he was
playing a losing game. There was just one chance left for him, and
that was to spur his already enfeebled horse to a gallop and race his
antagonist.

Never did Derby competitor work a horse more recklessly; Don Paez
spurred and smote, smote and spurred, and only to lose at one minute
the start he had gained the minute before; only just now he had been
endeavouring might and main to slacken the lasso; now he would have
given a five-pound note to feel it taut. Suddenly his horse seemed to
turn round like a wheel, he had a confused vision of the sky falling
on him, then of the earth coming up to meet him, and he and the horse
lay on the ground together. He had obeyed his instinct to kick himself
free from the stirrups, and so fell clear of the horse and escaped
with only a severe shaking.

Then he looked up and saw the cause of his fall; an old Carib, who had
watched his struggle from a distance, had pegged down his own capture,
galloped across and neatly dropped a second lasso over the head of the
rebellious wild horse.

The next few nights, all camped out on the Llano, and by the end of
the week, were ready to start for the camp with fully three thousand
horses. South American ways with animals are not our ways, and Indian
methods of taming and transporting horses are not such as English
readers love to hear of;[5] it will be sufficient to say that, for
transport, the captives were yoked up in long teams, each horse being
thong-hobbled on his fore-legs.

  [5] A full account of wild horse-taming will be found in the writer's
      "Adventures among the Wild Beasts."

Horse-hunting was not the only species of sport which Don Paez
witnessed among the Caribs. On the journey to the camp, it became
necessary to replenish the food-supply, and he accompanied six of the
Indians on one of their curious deer-hunts. As a preliminary, the
hunters made a call at a native village and each returned with a small
bundle in his hand.

"They are our masks," said the cacique, who was of the party. "Some of
our people hunt with an ox, but you will see that the mask is as
effective. I have brought one for you, Señor Commandante. Will you put
it on?"

[Illustration: CRANE STALKING-MASKS

On the llanos the Indians use masks made of the head and feathers of the
crane, then, imitating the actions of the bird searching for snakes and
other reptiles among the reeds and grasses of the river bank, wait until
the unsuspecting deer come down to drink, when they form an easy target
for their arrows.]

Paez had already humoured the Indians by leaving his gun at the camp
and bringing a bow and arrows, about which he knew as little as they
of gunpowder. But when the cacique produced a not too sweet-smelling
head-dress of brown and white feathers, adorned with the bill of a
_cariama_ (a species of crane), he thought the good man was rather
overstraining his willingness to become a savage. However, he put it
on, and took up his bow and arrows, but so awkwardly that the cacique
hinted that, on this occasion, he might like to be a mere spectator.

The masks, as worn by men who knew the workings thereof, were very
satisfactory disguises; when the Indians had fallen on their knees
with their heads bent, they might easily be mistaken in the distance
for cranes feeding; and in this guise they crawled down towards the
edge of the river just before the deer came down to drink. Paez,
concealed in the long grass, had an excellent view of the proceedings,
and could well understand, at that distance, how the unsuspecting
game might fall into the snare. The "cranes," with their backs to the
water and their heads bobbing so as to make the pendent bill move as
if in search of the small snakes or other reptiles beloved of such
birds, waited till a good-sized herd came within range; then the six
bow-strings twanged, and six deer lay dead or helpless, while their
startled brethren fled across the plain; and six more of these were
brought down by a second volley before they could get out of reach.


THE END.

                  *       *       *       *       *

WILLIAM BRENDON AND SON, LTD.

PRINTERS, PLYMOUTH

                  *       *       *       *       *



THE ROMANCE OF SAVAGE LIFE

DESCRIBING THE HABITS, CUSTOMS, EVERYDAY LIFE, &c., OF PRIMITIVE MAN

By Prof. G. F. SCOTT ELLIOT, M.A., B.Sc., &c.

_With Thirty Illustrations. Extra Crown 8vo. 5s._

"Mr. Scott Elliot has hit upon a good idea in this attempt to set
forth the life of the primitive savage. On the whole, too, he has
carried it out well and faithfully.... We can recommend the book as
filling a gap."--_Athenæum._

"A readable contribution to the excellent series of which it forms a
part. Mr. Scott Elliot writes pleasantly ... he possesses a
sufficiently vivid imagination to grasp the relation of a savage to
his environment."--_Nature._

"There are things of remarkable interest in this volume, and it makes
excellent reading and represents much research."--_Spectator._


THE ROMANCE OF PLANT LIFE

DESCRIBING THE CURIOUS AND INTERESTING IN THE PLANT WORLD

By Prof. G. F. SCOTT ELLIOT, M.A., B.Sc., &c.

_With Thirty-four Illustrations. Extra Crown 8vo. 5s._

"The author has worked skilfully into his book details of the facts
and inferences which form the groundwork of modern Botany. The
illustrations are striking, and cover a wide field of interest, and
the style is lively."--_Athenæum._

"In twenty-nine fascinating, well-printed, and well-illustrated
chapters, Prof. Scott Elliot describes a few of the wonders of plant
life. A very charming and interesting volume."--_Daily Telegraph._

"Mr. Scott Elliot is of course a well-known authority on all that
concerns plants, and the number of facts he has brought together will
not only surprise but fascinate all his readers."--_Westminster
Gazette._


THE ROMANCE OF INSECT LIFE

DESCRIBING THE CURIOUS & INTERESTING IN THE INSECT WORLD

By EDMUND SELOUS

AUTHOR OF "THE ROMANCE OF THE ANIMAL WORLD," ETC.

_With Sixteen Illustrations. Extra Crown 8vo, 5s._

"An entertaining volume, one more of a series which seeks with much
success to describe the wonders of nature and science in simple,
attractive form."--_Graphic._

"Offers most interesting descriptions of the strange and curious
inhabitants of the insect world, sure to excite inquiry and to foster
observation. There are ants white and yellow, locusts and cicadas, bees
and butterflies, spiders and beetles, scorpions and cockroaches--and
especially ants--with a really scientific investigation of their
wonderful habits, not in dry detail, but in free and charming
exposition and narrative. An admirable book to put in the hands of a
boy or girl with a turn for natural science--and whether or
not."--_Educational Times._

"Both interesting and instructive. Such a work as this is genuinely
educative. There are numerous illustrations."--_Liverpool Courier._

"With beautiful original drawings by Carton Moore Park and Lancelot
Speed, and effectively bound in dark blue cloth, blazoned with scarlet
and gold."--_Lady._

"Admirably written and handsomely produced. Mr. Selous's volume shows
careful research, and the illustrations of insects and the results of
their powers are well done."--_World._


THE ROMANCE OF MODERN MECHANISM

INTERESTING DESCRIPTIONS IN NON-TECHNICAL LANGUAGE OF WONDERFUL
MACHINERY, MECHANICAL DEVICES, & MARVELLOUSLY DELICATE SCIENTIFIC
INSTRUMENTS

By ARCHIBALD WILLIAMS, B.A. (Oxon.), F.R.G.S.

AUTHOR OF "THE ROMANCE OF MODERN EXPLORATION," ETC.

_With Twenty-six Illustrations. Extra Crown 8vo. 5s._

"No boy will be able to resist the delights of this book, full to the
brim of instructive and wonderful matter."--_British Weekly._

"This book has kept your reviewer awake when he reasonably expected to
be otherwise engaged. We do not remember coming across a more
fascinating volume, even to a somewhat blasé reader whose business it
is to read all that comes in his way. The marvels, miracles they
should be called, of the modern workshop are here exploited by Mr.
Williams for the benefit of readers who have not the opportunity of
seeing these wonders or the necessary mathematical knowledge to
understand a scientific treatise on their working. Only the simplest
language is used and every effort is made, by illustration or by
analogy, to make sufficiently clear to the non-scientific reader how
the particular bit of machinery works and what its work really is.
Delicate instruments, calculating machines, workshop machinery,
portable tools, the pedrail, motors ashore and afloat, fire engines,
automatic machines, sculpturing machines--these are a few of the
chapters which crowd this splendid volume."--_Educational News._

"It is difficult to make descriptions of machinery and mechanism
interesting, but Mr. Williams has the enviable knack of doing so, and
it is hardly possible to open this book at any page without turning up
something which you feel you must read; and then you cannot stop till
you come to the end of the chapter."--_Electricity._

"This book is full of interest and instruction, and is a welcome
addition to Messrs. Seeley and Company's Romance Series."--_Leeds
Mercury._

"A book of absorbing interest for the boy with a mechanical turn, and
indeed for the general reader."--_Educational Times._

"An instructive and well-written volume."--_Hobbies._


SEELEY & CO., Ltd., 38 Great Russell Street



                  *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's Note:

  Author's archaic and variable spelling and hyphenation is mostly
  preserved.

  Author's punctuation style is preserved.

  Illustrations have been moved closer to their relevant paragraphs,
  but the original page numbers are preserved in the List of
  Illustrations.

  Passages in italics indicated by _underscores_.

  Passages in bold indicated by =equal signs=.

  Typographical problems have been changed, and are listed below.


Transcriber's Changes:

  Page 91: Added closing quote mark (soon to be moving; it will be bad
           going for the =horses."=)

  Page 208: Was 'off' (the beautiful Yo-Semite Valley ceased,
            from that day, to be the stronghold =of= Shoshonee
            mountain-brigands.)

  Page 249: Was 'rattle-snakes' (the alarming prevalence of
            =rattlesnakes=, the journey was not unpleasant.)

  Page 332: Was 'fire-arms' ("I saw your gun and I was frightened. We
            do not like =firearms=, Señor;)

  Page 333: Was 'fire-arms' (and even so far overcame his fear of
            =firearms= as to offer to carry the gun a little way;)

  Page 339: Was 'deerskin' (while at his belt hung a knife and a
            =deer-skin= pouch, the latter containing flint and steel)


Variably hyphenated words:

  fore-legs and forelegs

  bow-strings and bowstrings

  sun-rays and sunrays

  women-folk and womenfolk

  up-hill and uphill

  well-nigh and wellnigh

  bird-shot and birdshot

  snow-shoes and snowshoes

  hind-quarters and hindquarters

  pen-knife and penknife

  gun-shot and gunshot

  skid-pan and skidpan

  mid-stream and midstream

  fire-light and firelight





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Adventures Among the Red Indians - Romantic Incidents and Perils Amongst the Indians of North - and South America" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home