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´╗┐Title: Among the Red-skins - Over the Rocky Mountains
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Among the Red-skins - Over the Rocky Mountains" ***

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Among the Red-skins, by W.H.G. Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
AMONG THE RED-SKINS, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

MISSING.

AN UNEXPECTED RETURN--HUGH IS ABSENT--NO KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WHEREABOUTS--
UNCLE DONALD'S APPREHENSIONS--A HURRIED SUPPER, AND PREPARATIONS FOR A
SEARCH.

"Hugh, my lad!  Hugh, run and tell Madge we have come back," cried Uncle
Donald, as he and I entered the house on our return, one summer's
evening, from a hunting excursion in search of deer or any other game we
could come across, accompanied by three of our dogs, Whiskey, Pilot, and
Muskymote.

As he spoke, he unstrapped from his shoulders a heavy load of caribou
meat.  I, having a similar load, did the same--mine was lighter than
his--and, Hugh not appearing, I went to the door and again called.  No
answer came.

"Rose, my bonnie Rose!  Madge, I say!  Madge!  Where are you all?"
shouted Uncle Donald, while he hung his rifle, with his powder-horn and
shot-pouch, in their accustomed places on the wall.

On glancing round the room he seemed somewhat vexed to perceive that no
preparations had been made for supper, which we expected to have found
ready for us.  It was seldom, however, that he allowed himself to be put
out.  I think I can see him now--his countenance, though weather-beaten
and furrowed by age, wearing its usual placid and benignant expression;
while his long silvery beard and the white locks which escaped from
beneath his Highland bonnet gave him an especially venerable appearance.
His dress was a plaid shooting-coat, and high leggings of well-tanned
leather, ornamented with fringe after the fashion of the Indians.
Upright as an arrow, with broad shoulders and wiry frame, he stood
upwards of six feet in his mocassins, nor did he appear to have lost
anything of the strength and energy of youth.

As no one appeared, I ran round to the back of the house, thinking that
Rose and Madge, accompanied by Hugh, had gone to bring in the milk,
which it was the duty of Sandy McTavish to draw from our cows, and that
he, for some cause or other, being later than usual, they had been
delayed.  I was not mistaken.  I presently met them, Madge carrying the
pails, and Rose, a fair-haired, blue-eyed little maiden, tripping
lightly beside her.  She certainly presented a great contrast in
appearance to the gaunt, dark-skinned Indian woman, whose features,
through sorrow and hardship, had become prematurely old.  I inquired for
Hugh.

"Is he not with you?" asked Rose, in a tone of some little alarm.  "He
went off two hours ago, saying that he should be sure to fall in with
you, and would assist in bringing home the game you might have killed."

"Yes, Hugh would go.  What he will he do," said the Indian woman, in the
peculiar way of speaking used by most of her people.

"He felt so much better in the afternoon that he was eager to go out and
help you," said Rose.  "He thought that Uncle Donald would not be angry
with him, though he had told him to remain at home."

We soon got back to the house.  When Uncle Donald heard where Hugh had
gone, though he expressed no anger, he looked somewhat troubled.  He
waited until Rose had gone out of the room, then he said to me--

"I noticed, about four miles from home, as we went out in the morning,
the marks of a `grizzly,' which had been busy grubbing up a rotten log,
but as his trail appeared to lead away up the mountains to the eastward
I did not think it worth my while to chase him; and you having just
before separated from me, I forgot to mention the fact when you came
back.  But vexed would I be if Hugh should have fallen in with the
brute.  He's too venturesome at times; and if he fired and only wounded
it, I doubt it would be a bad job for him.  Don't you let Rose hear a
word about the `grizzly,' Archie," he hastily added, as she re-entered
the room.

Both Madge and Rose were, however, very anxious when they found that
Hugh had not returned with us.  There was still an hour or so of
daylight, and we did not therefore abandon the hope that he would return
before dark.  Uncle Donald and I were both very hungry, for we had been
in active exercise the whole of the day, and had eaten nothing.

Madge knowing this set about preparing supper with all haste.  She could
not, however, help running to the door every now and then to ascertain
if Hugh were coming.  At length Sandy McTavish came in.  He was
something like Uncle Donald in figure, but though not so old, even more
wiry and gaunt, looking as if he were made of bone and sinews covered
with parchment.

He at once volunteered to set out and look for Hugh.

"Wait till we get our supper, and Archie and I will go too.  What's the
use of man or boy with an empty stomach?" said Uncle Donald.

"'Deed an' that's true," observed Sandy, helping himself from the
trencher which stood in the centre of the table.  "It's a peety young
Red Squirrel isna' here; he would ha' been a grand help if Maister
Hugh's missin'.  But I'm thinkin' he's no far off, sir.  He'll have shot
some beast likely, and be trying to trail it hame; it wud be a shame to
him to hae lost his way!  I canna believe that o' Maister Hugh."

Sandy said this while we were finishing our supper, when, taking down
our rifles, with fresh ammunition, and bidding Rose and Madge "cheer
up," we three set out in search of Hugh.

Fortunately the days were long, and we might still hope to discover his
track before darkness closed upon the world.



CHAPTER TWO.

AN INDIAN RAID.

SCENE OF THE STORY--HISTORY OF ARCHIE AND HUGH--A JOURNEY ACROSS THE
PRAIRIE--A VILLAGE BURNT BY THE INDIANS--UNCLE DONALD PURSUES THE
BLACKFEET--ARRIVAL AT THE INDIAN CAMP.

But where did the scene just described occur?  And who were the actors?

Take a map of the world, run your eye over the broad Atlantic, up the
mighty St. Lawrence, across the great lakes of Canada, then along
well-nigh a thousand miles of prairie, until the Rocky Mountains are
reached, beyond which lies British Columbia, a region of lakes, rivers,
and streams, of lofty, rugged, and precipitous heights, the further
shores washed by the Pacific Ocean.

On the bank of one of the many affluents of its chief river--the
Fraser--Uncle Donald had established a location, called Clearwater, far
removed from the haunts of civilised man.  In front of the house flowed
the ever-bright current (hence the name of the farm), on the opposite
side of which rose rugged pine-crowned heights; to the left were others
of similar altitude, a sparkling torrent running amid them into the main
stream.  Directly behind, extending some way back, was a level prairie,
interspersed with trees and bordered by a forest extending up the sides
of the variously shaped hills; while eastward, when lighted by the rays
of the declining sun, numberless snow-capped peaks, tinged with a
roseate hue, could be seen in the far distance.  Horses and cattle fed
on the rich grass of the well-watered meadows, and a few acres brought
under cultivation produced wheat, Indian corn, barley, and oats
sufficient for the wants of the establishment.

Such was the spot which Uncle Donald, who had won the friendship of the
Sushwap tribe inhabiting the district, had some years ago fixed on as
his abode.  He had formerly been an officer in the Hudson's Bay Company,
but had, for some reason or other, left their service.  Loving the
country in which he had spent the best years of his life, and where he
had met with the most strange and romantic adventures, he had determined
to make it his home.  He had not, however, lost all affection for the
land of his birth, or for his relatives and friends, and two years
before the time I speak of he had unexpectedly appeared at the Highland
village from which, when a young man, more than a quarter of a century
before, he had set out to seek his fortune.  Many of his relatives and
the friends of his youth were dead, and he seemed, in consequence, to
set greater value on those who remained, who gave him an affectionate
reception.  Among them was my mother, his niece, who had been a little
blooming girl when he went away, but was now a staid matron, with a
large family.

My father, Mr Morton, was a minister, but having placed himself under
the directions of a Missionary Society, he was now waiting in London
until it was decided in what part of the world he should commence his
labours among the heathen.  My two elder brothers were already out in
the world--one as a surgeon, the other in business--and I had a fancy
for going to sea.

"Let Archie come with me," said Uncle Donald.  "I will put him in the
way of doing far better than he ever can knocking about on salt water;
and as for adventures, he'll meet with ten times as many as he would if
he becomes a sailor."  He used some other arguments, probably relating
to my future advantage, which I did not hear.  They, at all events,
decided my mother; and my father, hearing of the offer, without
hesitation gave his consent to my going.  It was arranged, therefore,
that I should accompany Uncle Donald back to his far-off home, of which
he had left his faithful follower, Sandy McTavish, in charge during his
absence.

"I want to have you with me for your own benefit, Archie; but there is
another reason.  I have under my care a boy of about your own age, Hugh
McLellan, the son of an old comrade, who died and left him to my charge,
begging me to act the part of a father to him.  I have done so hitherto,
and hope to do so as long as I live; you two must be friends.  Hugh is a
fine, frank laddie, and you are sure to like one another.  As Sandy was
not likely to prove a good tutor to him, I left him at Fort Edmonton
when I came away, and we will call for him as we return."

I must pass over the parting with the dear ones at home, the voyage
across the Atlantic, and the journey through the United States, which
Uncle Donald took from its being in those days the quickest route to the
part of the country for which we were bound.

After descending the Ohio, we ascended the Mississippi to its very
source, several hundred miles, by steamboat; leaving which, we struck
westward, passing the head waters of the Bed River of the north, on
which Fort Garry, the principal post of the Hudson's Bay Company, is
situated, but which Uncle Donald did not wish to visit.

We had purchased good saddle-horses and baggage animals to carry our
goods, and had engaged two men--a French Canadian, Pierre Le Clerc, and
an Irishman, Cornelius Crolly, or "Corney," as he was generally called.
Both men were known to Uncle Donald, and were considered trustworthy
fellows, who would stick by us at a pinch.  The route Uncle Donald
proposed taking was looked upon as a dangerous one, but he was so well
acquainted with all the Indian tribes of the north that he believed,
even should we encounter a party of Blackfeet, they would not molest us.

We had been riding over the prairie for some hours, with here and there,
widely scattered, farms seen in the distance, and were approaching the
last frontier settlement, a village or hamlet on the very outskirts of
civilisation, when we caught sight of a column of smoke ascending some
way on directly ahead of us.

"Can it be the prairie on fire?"  I asked, with a feeling of alarm; for
I had heard of the fearful way in which prairie fires sometimes extend
for miles and miles, destroying everything in their course.

Uncle Donald stood up in his stirrups that he might obtain a better view
before us.

"No; that's not the smoke of burning grass.  It looks more like that
from a building, or may be from more than one.  I fear the village
itself is on fire," he answered.

Scarcely had he spoken when several horsemen appeared galloping towards
us, their countenances as they came near exhibiting the utmost terror.
They were passing on, when Uncle Donald shouted out, "Hi! where are you
going?  What has happened?"  On hearing the question, one of the men
replied, "The Indians have surprised us.  They have killed most of our
people, set fire to our houses, and carried off the women and children."

"And you running away without so much as trying to recover them?  Shame
upon ye!" exclaimed Uncle Donald.  "Come on with me, and let's see what
can be done!"

The men, however, who had scarcely pulled rein, were galloping forward.
Uncle Donald shouted to them to come back, but, terror-stricken, they
continued their course, perhaps mistaking his shouts for the cries of
the Indians.

"We must try and save some of the poor creatures," said Uncle Donald,
turning to our men.  "Come on, lads!  You are not afraid of a gang of
howling red-skins!" and we rode on, making our baggage horses move much
faster than they were wont to do under ordinary circumstances.

Before reaching the village we came to a clump of trees.  Here Uncle
Donald, thinking it prudent not to expose his property to the greedy
eyes of the Indians, should we overtake them, ordered Corney and Pierre
to halt and remain concealed, while he and I rode forward.  By the time
we had got up to the hamlet every farm and log-house was burning, and
the greater part reduced to ashes.

No Indians were to be seen.  According to their custom, after they had
performed their work they had retreated.

I will pass over the dreadful sights we witnessed.  Finding no one alive
to whom we could render assistance, we pushed on, Uncle Donald being
anxious to come up with the enemy before they had put their captives to
death.  Though darkness was approaching, we still rode forward.

"It's likely they will move on all night, but, you see, they are loaded,
and we can travel faster than they will.  They are sure to camp before
morning, and then we'll get up with them," observed Uncle Donald.

"But what will become of our baggage?"  I asked.

"Oh, that will be safe enough.  Pierre and Corney will remain where we
left them until we get back," he answered.

I was certain that Uncle Donald knew what he was about, or I should have
been far from easy, I confess.

We went on and on, the Indians keeping ahead of us.  From this
circumstance, Uncle Donald was of opinion that they had not taken many
prisoners.  At length we came to a stream running northward, bordered by
willows poplars, and other trees.  Instead of crossing directly in front
of us, where it was somewhat deep, we kept up along its banks.  We had
not got far when we saw the light of a fire, kindled, apparently, at the
bottom of the hollow through which the stream passed.

"If I'm not far wrong, that fire is in the camp of their rear guard.
Their main body cannot be far off," observed Uncle Donald.  "Dismount
here, Archie, and you hold the horses behind these trees, while I walk
boldly up to them.  They won't disturb themselves much for a single
man."

I dismounted as he desired, and he proceeded toward the fire.  I felt
very anxious, for I feared that the Blackfeet might fire and kill him
without stopping to learn who he was.



CHAPTER THREE.

WITH THE RED-SKINS.

UNCLE DONALD AND THE BLACKFEET--THE CHIEF'S SPEECH--A FORTUNATE
RECOGNITION--PONOKO GIVES UP A LITTLE GIRL TO UNCLE DONALD--IMPOSSIBLE
TO DO ANY MORE--PONOKO URGES DEPARTURE--ROSE IS ADOPTED BY UNCLE
DONALD--HUGH MCLELLAN--MADGE--STORY OF A BRAVE INDIAN MOTHER--RED
SQUIRREL--THE HOUSEHOLD AT CLEARWATER.

I waited with intense anxiety for Uncle Donald who appeared to have been
a long time absent.  I dared not disobey his orders by moving from the
spot, yet I felt eager to creep up and try and ascertain what had
happened.  I thought that by seeming the horses to the trees, I might
manage to get near the Indian camp without being perceived, but I
overcame the temptation.  At length I heard footsteps approaching, when,
greatly to my relief, I saw Uncle Donald coming towards me, carrying
some object wrapped up in a buffalo-robe in his arms.

I will now mention what occurred to him.  He advanced, as he told me
afterwards, without uttering a word, until he was close up to the fire
round which the braves were collected, then seating himself opposite the
chief, whom he recognised by his dress and ornaments, said, "I have come
as a friend to visit my red brothers; they must listen to what I have to
say."  The chief nodded and passed the pipe he was smoking round to him,
to show that he was welcome as a friend.  Uncle Donald then told them
that he was aware of their attack upon the village, which was not only
unjustifiable, but very unwise, as they would be certain to bring down
on their heads the vengeance of the "Long-knives"--so the Indians call
the people of the United States.  That wide as was the country, the arm
of the Long-knives could stretch over it; that they had fleet horses,
and guns which could kill when their figures appeared no larger than
musk rats; and he urged them, now that the harm was done, to avert the
punishment which would overtake them by restoring the white people they
had captured.

When he had finished, the chief rose and made a long speech, excusing
himself and his tribe on the plea that the Long-knives had been the
aggressors; that they had killed their people, driven them from their
hunting-grounds, and destroyed the buffalo on which they lived.  No
sooner did the chief begin to speak than Uncle Donald recognised him as
a Sioux whose life he had saved some years before.  He therefore
addressed him by his name of Ponoko, or the Red Deer, reminding him of
the circumstance.  On this the chief, advancing, embraced him; and
though unwilling to acknowledge that he had acted wrongly, he expressed
his readiness to follow the advice of his white friend.  He confessed,
however, that his hand had only one captive, a little girl, whom he was
carrying off as a present to his wife, to replace a child she had lost.
"She would be as a daughter to me; but if my white father desires it, I
will forego the pleasure I expected, and give her up to him.  As for
what the rest of my people may determine I cannot be answerable; but I
fear that they will not give up their captives, should they have taken
any alive," he added.

"It would have been a terrible thing to have left the little innocent to
be brought up among the savages and taught all their heathen ways,
though they, no doubt, would have made much of her, and treated her like
a little queen," said Uncle Donald to me; "so I at once closed with the
chief's offer.  Forthwith, a little girl, some five years of age, was
brought out from a small hut built of boughs, close to where the party
was sitting.  She appeared almost paralysed with terror; but when,
looking up, she saw that Uncle Donald was a white man, and that he was
gazing compassionately at her, clinging to his hand, she entreated him
by her looks to save her from the savages.  She had been so overcome by
the terrible scenes she had witnessed that she was unable to speak."

Uncle Donald, lifting her up in his arms, endeavoured to calm her fears,
promising that he would take care of her until he had restored her to
her friends.  He now expressed his intention of proceeding to the larger
camp, but Ponoko urged him on no account to make the attempt, declaring
that his life would not be safe, as several of their fiercest warriors
were in command, who had vowed the destruction of all the Long-knives or
others they should encounter.

"But the prisoners!  What will they do with them?" asked Uncle Donald.
"Am I to allow them to perish without attempting their rescue?"

"My white father must be satisfied with what I've done for him.  I saw
no other prisoners taken.  All the pale-faces in the villages were
killed," answered Ponoko.  "For his own sake I cannot allow him to go
forward; let him return to his own country, and he will there be safe.
I know his wishes, and will, when the sun rises, go to my brother chiefs
and tell them what my white father desires."

Ponoko spoke so earnestly that Uncle Donald, seeing that it would be
useless to make the attempt, and fearing that even the little girl might
be taken from him, judged that it would be wise to get out of the power
of the savages; and carrying the child, who clung round his neck, he
bade the other braves farewell, and commenced his return to where he had
left me.  He had not got far when Ponoko overtook him, and again urged
him to get to a distance as soon as possible.

"Even my own braves cannot be trusted," he said.  "I much fear that
several who would not smoke the pipe may steal out from the camp, and
try to kill my white father if he remains longer in the neighbourhood."

Brave as Uncle Donald was, he had me to look after as well as the little
girl.  Parting with the chief, therefore, he hurried on, and told me
instantly to mount.

I was very much astonished to see the little girl, but there was no time
to ask questions; so putting spurs to our horses, we galloped back to
where we had left our men and the baggage.

As both we and our horses required rest, we camped on the spot, Pierre
and Corney being directed to keep a vigilant watch.

The little girl lay in Uncle Donald's arms, but she had not yet
recovered sufficiently to tell us her name, and it was with difficulty
that we could induce her to take any food.

Late in the day we met a party going out to attack the Indians; but, as
Uncle Donald observed, "they might just as well have tried to catch the
east wind.  We waited to see the result of the expedition.  They at
length returned, not having come near the enemy.  The few men who had
escaped the massacre were unable to give any information about the
little girl or her friends, nor could we learn to whom she belonged.
All we could ascertain from her was that her name was Rose, for her mind
had sustained so fearful a shock that, even after several days had
passed, she was unable to speak intelligibly.

"Her fate among the Indians would have been terrible, but it would be
almost as bad were we to leave her among the rough characters
hereabouts," observed Uncle Donald.  "As none of her friends can be
found, I will be her guardian, and, if God spares my life, will bring
her up as a Christian child."

It was many a long day, however, before Rose recovered her spirits.  Her
mind, indeed, seemed to be a blank as to the past, and Uncle Donald,
afraid of reviving the recollection of the fearful scenes she must have
witnessed, forbore to say anything which might recall them.  However, by
the time we reached Fort Edmonton, where Hugh McLellan had been left,
she was able to prattle away right merrily.  The officers at the fort
offered to take charge of her, but Uncle Donald would not consent to
part with his little "Prairie Rose," as he called her; and after a short
stay we set out again, with Hugh added to our party, across the Rocky
Mountains, and at length arrived safely at Clearwater.

Corney and Pierre remained with us, and took the places of two other men
who had left.

Hugh McLellan was a fine, bold little fellow, not quite two years my
junior; and he and I--as Uncle Donald had hoped we should--soon became
fast friends.

He had not much book learning, though he had been instructed in the
rudiments of reading and writing by one of the clerks in the fort, but
he rode fearlessly, and could manage many a horse which grown men would
fear to mount.

"I want you, Archie, to help Hugh with his books," said Uncle Donald.
"I believe, if you set wisely about it, that he will be ready to learn
from you.  I would not like for him to grow up as ignorant as most of
the people about us.  It is the knowledge we of the old country possess
which gives us the influence over these untutored savages; without it we
should be their inferiors."

I promised to do my best in fulfilling his wishes, though I took good
care not to assert any superiority over my companion, who, indeed,
though I was better acquainted with literature than he was, knew far
more about the country than I did.

But there was another person in the household whose history is worthy of
narration--the poor Indian woman--"Madge," as we called her for
shortness, though her real name was Okenmadgelika.  She also owed her
life to Uncle Donald.

Several years before this, she, with her two children, had accompanied
her husband and some other men on an expedition to trap beavers, at the
end of autumn, towards the head waters of the Columbia.  While she was
seated in her hut late in the evening, one of the men staggered in
desperately wounded, and had just time to tell her that her husband and
the rest were murdered, when he fell dead at her feet.  She, instantly
taking up her children--one a boy of six years of age, the other a
little girl, an infant in arms--fled from the spot, with a horse and
such articles as she could throw on its back, narrowly escaping from the
savages searching for her.

She passed the winter with her two young ones, no human aid at hand.  On
the return of spring she set off, intending to rejoin her husband's
people far away to the westward.  After enduring incredible hardships,
she had been compelled to kill her horse for food.  She had made good
some days' journey, when, almost sinking from hunger, and fearing to see
her children perish, she caught sight of her relentless foes, the
Blackfeet.  In vain she endeavoured to conceal herself.  They saw her
and were approaching, when, close to the spot where she was standing, a
tall white man and several Indians suddenly emerged from behind some
rocks.  The Blackfeet came on, fancying that against so few they could
gain an easy victory; but the rifles of the white man and his party
drove them back, and Uncle Donald--for he was the white man--conveyed
the apparently dying woman and her little ones to his camp.

The house at Clearwater had not yet been built.  By being well cared for
the Indian woman and her children recovered; but though the boy
flourished, the little girl seemed like a withered flower, and never
regained her strength.

Grateful for her preservation, the poor woman, when she found that Uncle
Donald was about to settle at Clearwater, entreated that she might
remain with her children and labour for him, and a faithful servant she
had ever since proved.

Her little girl at length died.  She was for a time inconsolable, until
the arrival of Rose, to whom she transferred all her maternal feelings,
and who warmly returned her affection.

But her son, whose Indian name translated was Red Squirrel, by which
appellation he was always known, had grown up into a fine lad, versed in
all Indian ways, and possessing a considerable amount of knowledge
gained from his white companions, without the vices of civilisation.  He
was a great favourite with Uncle Donald, who placed much confidence in
his intelligence, courage, and faithfulness.

Nearly two years had passed since Rose, Hugh, and I had been brought to
Clearwater, and by this time we were all much attached to each other.
We had also learned to love the place which had become our home; but we
loved Uncle Donald far more.



CHAPTER FOUR.

THREE GRIZZLIES.

THE START AFTER HUGH--A FOOT-PRINT--FOLLOWING THE TRAIL--ARCHER MEETS A
GRIZZLY--A MISS-FIRE--DISCRETION THE BETTER PART OF VALOUR--FAR MORE
BEARS--HELP, AND A JOINT ATTACK--HUGH UP IN A TREE--THE RESULT OF
DISOBEDIENCE.

I must now continue my narrative from the evening Hugh was missing.

The moment we had finished our hurried meal we set out.  Sandy, in case
we should be benighted, had procured a number of pine torches, which he
strapped on his back; and Uncle Donald directed Corney and Pierre who
came in as we were starting, to follow, keeping to the right by the side
of the torrent, in case Hugh should have taken that direction.

Whiskey, Pilot, Muskymote followed closely at our heels--faithful
animals, ready to drag our sleighs in winter, or, as now, to assist us
in our search.  We walked on at a rapid rate, and were soon in a wild
region of forests, rugged hills, and foaming streams.  As we went along
we shouted out Hugh's name, and searched about for any signs of his
having passed that way.  At length we discovered in some soft ground a
foot-print, which there could be no doubt was his, the toe pointing in
the direction we were going.

"Now we have found the laddie's trail we must take care not to lose it,"
observed Uncle Donald.  "It leads towards the very spot where I saw the
grizzly this morning."

On and on we went.  Soon another foot-print, and then a mark on some
fallen leaves, and here and there a twig bent or broken off, showed that
we were on Hugh's trail.

But the sun had now sunk beneath the western range of mountains, and the
gloom of evening coming on would prevent us from tracing our young
companion much further.  Still, as we should have met him had he turned
back, we followed the only track he was likely to have taken.

We were approaching the spot where Uncle Donald had seen the bear, near
a clump of trees with a thick undergrowth, a rugged hill riding beyond.
We were somewhat scattered, hunting about for any traces the waning
light would enable us to discover.  I half feared that I should come
upon his mangled remains, or some part of his dress which might show his
fate.  I had my rifle, but was encumbered with no other weight, and in
my eagerness, I ran on faster than my companions.  I was making my way
among some fallen timber blown down by a storm, when suddenly I saw rise
up, just before me, a huge form.  I stopped, having, fortunately, the
presence of mind not to run away, for I at once recognised the animal as
a huge grizzly, which had been engaged in tearing open a rotten trunk in
search of insects.  I remembered that Uncle Donald had told me, should I
ever find myself face to face with a grizzly, to throw up my arms and
stand stock still.

The savage brute, desisting from its employment, came towards me,
growling terribly, and displaying its huge teeth and enormous mouth.

I was afraid to shout, lest it might excite the animal's rage; but I
acted as Uncle Donald had advised me.  As I lifted up my rifle and
flourished it over my head, the creature stopped for a moment and got up
on its hind legs.

Now or never was my time to fire, for I could not expect to have a
better opportunity, and bringing my rifle, into which I had put a
bullet, to my shoulder, I took a steady aim and pulled the trigger.  To
my dismay, the cap snapped.  It had never before played me such a trick.
Still the bear kept looking at me, apparently wondering what I was
about.  Mastering all my nerve, and still keeping my eye fixed on the
shaggy monster in front of me, I lowered my rifle, took out another cap,
and placed it on the nipple.  I well knew that should I only wound the
bear my fate would be sealed, for it would be upon me in an instant.  I
felt doubly anxious to hill it, under the belief that it had destroyed
my friend Hugh; but still it was sufficiently far off to make it
possible for me to miss, should my nerves for a moment fail me.  As long
as it remained motionless I was unwilling to fire, in the hope that
before I did so Uncle Donald and Sandy might come to my assistance.

Having re-capped my rifle, I again lifted it to my shoulder.  At that
moment Bruin, who had grown tired of watching me, went down on all
fours.  The favourable opportunity was lost; for although I might still
lodge a bullet in its head, I might not kill it at once, and I should
probably be torn to pieces.  I stood steady as before, though sorely
tempted to run.  Instead, however, of coming towards me, to my surprise,
the bear returned to the log, and recommenced its occupation of
scratching for insects.

Had it been broad daylight I might have had a fair chance of shooting
it; but in the obscurity, as it scratched away among the fallen timber,
from which several gnarled and twisted limbs projected upwards, I was
uncertain as to the exact position of its head.  Under the
circumstances, I considered that discretion was the better part of
valour; and feeling sure that Uncle Donald and Sandy would soon come up
and settle the bear more effectually than I should, I began slowly to
retreat, hoping to get away unperceived.  I stepped back very
cautiously, scarcely more than a foot at a time, then stopped.  As I did
so I observed a movement a little distance off beyond the big bear, and
presently, as I again retreated, two other bears came up, growling, to
the big one, and, to my horror, all three moved towards me.

Though smaller than their mother, each bear was large enough to kill me
with a pat of its paw; and should I even shoot her they would probably
be upon me.  Again, however, they stopped, unwilling apparently to leave
their dainty feast.

How earnestly I prayed for the arrival of Uncle Donald and Sandy!  I had
time, too, to think of poor Hugh, and felt more convinced than ever that
he had fallen a victim to the ferocious grizzlies.  I still dared not
cry out, but seeing them again turn to the logs, I began, as before, to
step back, hoping at length to get to such a distance that I might take
to my heels without the risk of being pursued.  In doing as I proposed I
very nearly tumbled over a log, but recovering myself, I got round it.
When I stopped to see what the bears were about they were still feeding,
having apparently forgotten me.  I accordingly turned round and ran as
fast as I could venture to go among the trees and fallen trunks, till at
length I made out the indistinct figures of Uncle Donald and Sandy, with
the dogs, coming towards me.

"I have just seen three bears," I shouted.  "Come on quickly, and we may
be in time to kill them!"

"It's a mercy they did not catch you, laddie," said Uncle Donald, when
he got up to me.  "With the help of the dogs we'll try to kill them,
however.  Can you find the spot where you saw them?"

"I have no doubt about that," I answered.

"Well, then, before we go further we'll just look to our rifles, and
make sure that there's no chance of their missing fire."

Doing as he suggested, we moved on, he in the centre and somewhat in
advance, Sandy and I on either side of him, the dogs following and
waiting for the word of command to rush forward.

The bears did not discover us until we were within twenty yards of them,
when Uncle Donald shouted to make them show themselves.

I fancied that directly afterwards I heard a cry, but it might only have
been the echo of Uncle Donald's voice.  Presently a loud growl from the
rotten log showed us that the bears were still there, and we soon saw
all three sitting up and looking about them.

"Sandy, do you take the small bear on the right; I will aim at the big
fellow, and leave the other to you, Archie; but do not fire until you
are sure of your aim," said Uncle Donald.  "Now, are you ready?"

We all fired at the same moment.  Sandy's bear dropped immediately, but
the big one, with a savage growl, sprang over the logs and came towards
us, followed by the one at which I had fired.

Uncle Donald now ordered the dogs, which had been barking loudly, to
advance to the fight; but before they reached the larger bear she fell
over on her side, and giving some convulsive struggles, lay apparently
dead.  The dogs, on this, attacked the other bear, which, made furious
by its wound, was coming towards us, growling loudly.  On seeing the
dogs, however, the brute stopped, and sat up on its hind legs, ready
with its huge paws to defend itself from their attacks.  We all three,
meantime, were rapidly reloading, and just as the bear had knocked over
Whiskey and seized Muskymote in its paws, Uncle Donald and Sandy again
fired and brought it to the ground, enabling Muskymote, sorely mauled,
to escape from its deadly embrace.

I instinctively gave a shout, and was running on, when Uncle Donald
stopped me.

"Stay!" he said; "those brutes play `possum' sometimes, and are not to
be trusted.  If they are not shamming, they may suddenly revive and try
to avenge themselves."

"We'll soon settle that," said Sandy, and quickly reloading, he fired
his rifle into the head of the fallen bear.

"Have you killed them all?"  I heard a voice exclaim, which seemed to
come from the branches of a tree some little distance off.

I recognised it as Hugh's.  "Hurrah!"  I shouted; "are you all right?"

"Yes, yes," answered Hugh, "only very hungry and stiff."

We quickly made our way to the tree, where I found Hugh safe and sound,
and assisted him to descend.  He told us that he had fallen in with the
bears on his way out, and had just time to escape from them by climbing
up the tree, where they had kept him a prisoner all day.

"I am thankful to get ye back, Hugh.  You disobeyed orders, and have
been punished pretty severely.  I hope it will be a lesson to you," was
the only remark Uncle Donald made as he grasped Hugh's hand.  I judged,
by the tone of his voice, that he was not inclined to be very angry.

Having flayed the bears by the light of Sandy's torches, we packed up as
much of the meat as we could carry, and hung up the remainder with the
skins, intending to send for it in the morning.  We then, having met the
other two men, hastened homewards with Hugh; and I need not say how
rejoiced Rose and Madge were to see him back safe.



CHAPTER FIVE.

AN EXPEDITION.

WAITING FOR THE MESSENGERS--TWO TIRED INDIANS--BAD NEWS OF ARCHIE'S
FATHER--UNCLE DONALD DETERMINES TO CROSS THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS--
PREPARATIONS--NEWS OF THE BLACKFEET--INDIAN CANOES--THE EXPEDITION
STARTS.

Summer was advancing, and we had for some time been expecting the return
of Red Squirrel and Kondiarak, another Indian, who had been sent in the
spring to Fort Edmonton with letters, and directions to bring any which
might have come for us.  At length we became somewhat anxious at their
non-appearance, fearing that some serious accident might have happened
to them, or that they might have fallen into the hands of the savage
Blackfeet, the chief predatory tribe in the country through which they
had to pass.

Hugh and I were one evening returning from trapping beaver, several of
which we carried on our backs.  Though the skins are the most valued,
the meat of the animal serves as food.  We were skirting the edge of the
prairie, when we caught sight of two figures descending the hills to the
east by the pass which led from Clearwater towards the Rocky Mountains.

"They are Indians," cried Hugh, "What if they should be enemies?"

"It is more likely that they are friends," I answered.  "If they were
enemies they would take care not to show themselves.  Let us go to meet
them."

The two men made their way slowly down the mountains and had got almost
up to us before we recognised Red Squirrel, and his companion Kondiarak
("the rat"), so travel-stained, wan, and haggard did they look.

They had lost their horses, they said, after our first greetings were
over.  One had strayed, the other had been stolen by the Blackfeet, so
that they had been compelled to perform the greater part of the journey
on foot; and having exhausted their ammunition, they had been almost
starved.  They had succeeded, however, in preserving the letters
confided to them, and they had brought a packet, for Uncle Donald, from
a white stranger at whose hut they had stopped on the way.

On seeing the beavers we carried they entreated that we would give them
some meat without delay, saying that they had had no food for a couple
of days.

Their countenances and the difficulty with which they dragged their feet
along corroborated their assertions.  We, therefore, at once collecting
some fuel, lighted a fire, and having skinned and opened one of the
beavers, extended it, spread-eagle fashion, on some sticks to cook.
They watched our proceedings with eager eyes; but before there was time
to warm the animal through their hunger made them seize it, when tearing
off the still uncooked flesh, they began to gobble it up with the
greatest avidity.

I was afraid they would suffer from over eating, but nothing Hugh or I
could say would induce them to stop until they had consumed the greater
part of the beaver.  They would then, had we allowed them, have thrown
themselves on the ground and gone to sleep; but anxious to know the
contents of the packets they had brought, relieving them of their guns,
we urged them to lean upon us, and come at once to the farm.  It was
almost dark before we reached home.

Madge embraced her son affectionately, and almost, wept when she
observed the melancholy condition to which he was reduced.  He would
not, however, go to sleep, as she wanted him to do, until he had
delivered the packets to Uncle Donald, who was still out about the farm.

He in the meantime squatted down near the fire, where he remained with
true Indian patience till Uncle Donald came in, when, rising to his
feet, he gave a brief account of his adventures, and produced the
packets, carefully wrapped up in a piece of leather.

To those which came by way of Edmonton I need not further refer, as they
were chiefly about business.  One, however, was of great interest; it
was in answer to inquiries which Uncle Donald had instituted to discover
any relatives or friends of little Rose.  To his secret satisfaction he
was informed that none could be found, and that he need have no fear of
being deprived of her.  As he read the last packet his countenance
exhibited astonishment and much concern.

"This letter is from your mother, Archie," he said, at length, when he
had twice read it through.  "Your father has brought her and the rest of
the family to a mission station which has been established for the
benefit of the Sercies, on the other side of the Rocky Mountains.
Scarcely had they been settled for a few months, and your father had
begun to win the confidence of the tribe among whom he had come to
labour, than the small-pox broke out in their village, brought by the
Blackfeet from the south; and their medicine-men, who had from the first
regarded him with jealous eyes, persuaded the people that the scourge
had been sent in consequence of their having given a friendly reception
to the Christian missionary.  Some few, whose good will he had gained,
warned him that his life was in danger, and urged him to make his escape
from the district.  Though unwilling himself to leave his post, he had
proposed sending your mother and the children away, when he was attacked
by a severe illness.  She thus, even had she wished it, could not have
left him, and they have remained on at the station, notwithstanding that
she fears they may at any time be destroyed by the savages, while the
medicine-men have been using all their arts to win over the few Indians
who continue faithful.  These have promised to protect them to the best
of their power, but how long they will be able to do so is doubtful.
Their cattle and horses have been stolen, and they have for some time
been short of provisions; thus, even should your father regain his
health, they will be unable to travel.  He, like a true missionary of
the Gospel, puts his confidence in God, and endeavours, your mother
says, ever to wear a cheerful countenance.  She does not actually
implore me to come to her assistance, for she knows the length and
difficulties of the journey; and she expresses her thankfulness that you
are safe on this side of the mountains, but I see clearly that she would
be very grateful if I could pay her a visit; and I fear, indeed, unless
help reaches your family, that the consequences may be serious.  I have,
therefore, made up my mind to set off at once.  We may manage to get
across the mountains before the winter sets in, though there is no time
to be lost.  I will take Pierre and Corney, with Red Squirrel and a
party of our own Indians, and leave Sandy, with Hugh and you, in charge
of Clearwater."

"May I not go, also?"  I asked, in a tone of disappointment.  "Surely I
may be able to help my father and mother, and Hugh would be very sorry
to be left behind."

"It is but natural that you should wish to go; and Hugh, too, maybe of
assistance, for I can always trust to your discretion and judgment
should any difficulty occur," he observed.

"Then you will take us, won't you?" we both cried at once.

"Yes," he answered.  "I would not take one without the other, so Hugh
may go if he wishes it."

"Thank you, thank you!"  I exclaimed, gratified at Uncle Donald's
remark; "we will try to deserve your confidence.  What shall we do
first?"

"We must have the canoes got ready, and lay in a stock of provisions so
that we may not be delayed by having to hunt; indeed, except some
big-horns, and perhaps a grizzly, we shall not find much game on the
mountains," he remarked.

That evening all our plans were completed, and Sandy and the other men
received their directions.  Saddle and pack horses were at once to be
started off by a circuitous route, carrying only light loads however,
and were to meet us at the head of the river navigation, however, while
we were to go as far up the stream as we could in canoes, with as large
a supply of provisions as they could convey.

The very next morning at daybreak while we were engaged in preparing the
birch bark canoes by covering the seams with gum, and sewing on some
fresh pieces of bark with wattap, which is formed of the flexible roots
of the young spruce tree, an Indian was seen on the opposite side of the
river making a signal to us that he desired to cross.  One of the canoes
which was ready for launching was sent for him and brought him over.

"He had come," he said, "to bring us information that a large body of
Blackfeet were on the war-path, having crossed the Rocky Mountains at
one of the southern passes, and that having attacked the Sinapools,
their old enemies on the Columbia, they were now bending their steps
northward in search of plunder and scalps.  He came to tell his white
friends to be prepared should they come so far north."

On hearing this I was afraid that Uncle Donald would give up the
expedition and remain to defend Clearwater, but on cross-questioning the
Indian, he came to the conclusion that the Blackfeet were not at all
likely to come so far, and Sandy declared that if they did he would give
a very good account of them.

Still, as it was possible that they might make their appearance, Uncle
Donald considered that it was safer to take Rose with us notwithstanding
the hardships to which she might be exposed.

"Then Madge will go too," exclaimed Rose; "poor Madge would be very
unhappy at being left alone without me."

"Madge shall go with us," said Uncle Donald; and Rose, highly delighted,
ran off to tell her to get ready.

The horses had been sent off at dawn, but we were not able to start
until the following morning as it took us the whole day to prepare the
packages of dried fish, pemmican, and smoked venison and pork, which
were to serve us as provisions.

On a bright clear morning, just before the sun rose over the hills to
the east, we pushed off from the bank in four canoes.  In each were five
people, one to steer and the others to paddle.  Uncle Donald took Rose
in his as a passenger.

Hugh and I went together with Red Squirrel to steer for us, and Corney
and Pierre had each charge of another canoe.

I will describe our canoes, which were light, elegant, and wonderfully
strong, considering the materials of which they were formed.  They were
constructed of the bark of the white birch-tree.  This had been peeled
from the tree in large sheets, which were bent over a slender frame of
cedar ribs, confined by gunwales, and kept apart by thin bars of the
same wood.  The ends were alike, forming wedge-like points, and turned
over from the extremities towards the centre so as to look somewhat like
the handle of a violin.  The sheets of bark were then fastened round the
gunwales by wattap, and sewn together with the same materials at the
joinings.  These were afterwards covered by a coat of pine pitch, called
gum.  The seats for the paddlers were made by suspending a strip of
board with cords from the gunwales in such a manner that they did not
press against the sides of the canoe.  At the second cross-bar from the
bow a hole was cut for a mast, so that a sail could be hoisted when the
wind proved favourable.  Each canoe carried a quantity of spare bark,
wattap, gum, a pan for heating the gum, and some smaller articles
necessary for repairs.  The canoes were about eighteen feet long, yet so
light that two men could carry one with ease a considerable distance
when we had to make a "portage."  A "portage," I should say, is the term
used when a canoe has to be carried over the land, in consequence of any
obstruction in the river, such as rapids, falls, or shallows.

As soon as we were fairly off Pierre struck up a cheerful song, in which
we, Corney, and the Indians joined, and lustily plying our paddles we
urged our little fleet up the river.



CHAPTER SIX.

PADDLING UP STREAM.

THE FIRST CAMP--RAPIDS--A PORTAGE--INDIANS ATTACK THE CANOES--A RACE FOR
LIFE--HE'S WON JUST IN TIME--MORE RAPIDS IN AN AWKWARD PLACE--THE CANOES
POLED UP STREAM--AN UPSET--THE INDIANS AGAIN, AND HUGH IN DANGER--OTHER
CANOES TO THE RESCUE.

For the first day we made good progress, stopping only a short time to
land and cook our provisions.  We then paddled on until nearly dark,
when we went on shore, unloaded our canoes, hauled them up, lighted a
fire for cooking, and pitched a small tent for Rose, in front of which
Madge, as she always afterwards did, took up her post to be ready to
guard her in case of danger.

As soon as supper was over, two men were placed on watch, and the rest
of the party lay down round the fire with our buffalo-robes spread on
fresh spruce or pine boughs as beds.  Before dawn we were aroused by
Uncle Donald.

The morning was calm, the stars were slightly paling, a cold yellow
light began to show itself.  Above the river floated a light mist
through which objects on the opposite bank were dimly seen, while on the
land side a wall of forest rose up impenetrable to the eye.  From the
dying embers of the camp fire a thin column of smoke rose high above the
trees, while round it were the silent forms of the Indians, lying
motionless at full length on their backs, enveloped in their blankets.
To stretch my legs I walked a few paces from the camp, when I was
startled by a sudden rush through the underbrush.  For a moment I
thought of the Blackfeet, but the movement proved to be made by a minx
or marten, which had been attracted to the spot by the remains of last
night's meal.

On hearing Uncle Donald's voice the Indians started to their feet, and
after a hurried breakfast, the canoes being launched and the baggage
stowed on board, we proceeded on our voyage.  The mist by degrees
cleared away, the sun mounting over the hills, lighted up the scenery,
and our crews burst into one of the songs with which they were wont to
beguile the time while plying their paddles.  Having stopped as before
to dine we were paddling on, when we heard a low ceaseless roar coming
down between the high banks.  In a short time we saw the waters rushing
and foaming ahead of us, as they fell over a broad ledge of rocks.

"Can we get over there?" asked Hugh.

"No," I answered; "see, Uncle Donald is steering in for the shore."

We soon landed, the canoes were unloaded, and being hauled up the bank,
each was placed on the shoulders of two men, who trotted off with them
by a path parallel to the river; the rest loaded themselves with the
bales.  Hugh and I imitated their example, Madge carried as heavy a
package as any of the men, and Rose begged that she might take charge of
a small bundle, with which she trotted merrily off, but did not refuse
to let Madge have it before she had gone half-way.  After proceeding for
nearly a mile among rocks and trees, the canoes were placed on the banks
where the river flowed calmly by, and the men returned for the remainder
of the baggage.  Three trips had to be made to convey the whole of the
cargoes above the falls.  This is what is called "making a portage."

Re-embarking, on we went until nightfall.  During the next few days we
had several such portages to make.  We were at times able to hoist our
sails, but when the stream became more rapid and shallow, we took to
poling, a less pleasant way of progressing, though under these
circumstances the only one available.  Occasionally the river opened
out, and we were able to resume our paddles.

We had just taken them in hand and were passing along the east bank when
Hugh exclaimed, "I see some one moving on shore among the trees!  Yes, I
thought so; he's an Indian," and he immediately added, "there are
several more."

I shouted to Uncle Donald to tell him, and then turned to warn Pierre
and Corney.

Scarcely had I spoken than well-nigh fifty savages appeared on the
banks, and, yelling loudly, let fly a cloud of arrows towards us, while
one of them shouted to us to come to shore.

"Very likely we'll be after doin' that, Mister Red-skins," cried Corney.

And we all, following Uncle Donald's example, turning the heads of our
canoes, paddled towards the opposite bank.

We were safe for the present, and might, had we chosen, have picked off
several of the savages with our rifles; Corney and Pierre had lifted
theirs for the purpose, but Uncle Donald ordered them not to fire.

"Should we kill any of them we should only find it more difficult to
make peace afterwards," he observed.

The river was here wide enough to enable us to keep beyond range of
their arrows, and we continued our course paddling along close to the
western bank.  After going a short distance we saw ahead of us a lake,
which we should have to cross.  The Indians had disappeared, and I hoped
we had seen the last of them, when Corney shouted out that he had caught
sight of them running alone; the shore of the lake to double round it.
Their object in so doing was evident, for on the opposite side of the
upper river entered the lake, rounding a point by a narrow passage, and
this point they hoped to gain before we could get through, so that they
might stop our progress.

"Paddle, lads--paddle for your lives!" cried Uncle Donald.  "We must
keep ahead of the red-skins if we wish to save our scalps."

We did paddle with might and main, making the calm water bubble round
the bows of our canoes.

Looking to our right, we every now and then caught a glimpse of the
Blackfeet, for such we knew they were by their dress.  They were
bounding along in single file among the trees, led apparently by one of
their most nimble warriors.  It seemed very doubtful whether we could
pass the point before they could reach it.  We persevered, for otherwise
we should be compelled either to turn back, or to run the risk of being
attacked at one of the portages, or to land at the western side of the
lake, and to throw up a fort in which we could defend ourselves should
the Blackfeet make their way across the river.  It was not likely,
however, that they would do this.  They had already ventured much
farther to the north than it was their custom to make a raid; and should
they be discovered, they would run the risk of being set upon by the
Shoushwaps, the chief tribe inhabiting that part of the country, and
their retreat cut off.  Still it was of the greatest importance to lose
no time, and we redoubled our efforts to get by the point.  The Indians
had a greater distance to go; but then they ran much faster than we
could paddle our canoes.  As we neared the point, I kept looking to the
right to see how far our enemies had got.  Again I caught a glimpse of
their figures moving among the trees, but whether or not they were those
of the leaders I could not distinguish.

Uncle Donald reached the point, and his canoe disappeared behind it.
Hugh and I next came up, closely followed by the other two.  We could
hear the savage shouts and cries of the red-skins; but there was now a
good chance of getting beyond their reach.

"There goes the captain's canoe," I heard Corney sing out; "paddle,
boys, paddle, and we'll give them the go-by!"

We had entered the upper branch of the river; the current ran smoothly.
Still we were obliged to exert ourselves to force our canoes up against
it.  Looking back for a moment over my shoulder, I could see the leading
Indians as they reached the point we had just rounded.  Enraged at being
too late to stop us, they expended another flight of arrows, several of
which struck the water close to us, and two went through the after end
of Pierre's canoe, but fortunately above water.

Though we had escaped for the present, they might continue along the
eastern bank of the river, and meet us at the next portage we should
have to make.  The day was wearing on, and ere long we should have to
look out for a spot on which to camp, on the west bank, opposite to that
where we had seen the Indians.

We had got four or five miles up the river when the roaring sound of
rushing waters struck our ears, and we knew that we should have to make
another portage.  The only practicable one was on the east bank, and as
it would occupy us the greater part of an hour, we could scarcely hope
to escape the Indians, even should they not already have arrived at the
spot.  On the left rose a line of precipitous rocks, over which we
should be unable to force our way.  At length we got up to the foot of
the rapids.  Uncle Donald took a survey of them.  I observed on the west
side a sheet of water flowing down smoother and freer from rocks than
the rest.

"We must pole up the rapids, but it will need caution; follow me," said
Uncle Donald.

We got out our long poles, and Uncle Donald leading the way, we
commenced the ascent.

While resting on our paddles Corney and Pierre had overtaken us, and now
followed astern of Uncle Donald, so that our canoe was the last.  We had
got nearly half-way up, the navigation becoming more difficult as we
proceeded.  The rocks extended farther and farther across the channel,
the water leaping and hissing and foaming as it rushed by them.  One of
our Indians sat in the bows with a rope ready to jump out on the rocks
and tow the canoe should the current prove too strong for us.  Red
Squirrel stood aft with pole in hand guiding the canoe, while Hugh and I
worked our poles on either side.  Corney and Pierre were at some little
distance before us, while Uncle Donald, having a stronger crew, got well
ahead.

"We shall soon be through this, I hope," cried Hugh; "pretty tough work
though."

As he spoke he thrust down his pole, which must have been jammed in a
hole, and his weight being thrown upon it, before he could recover it
broke, and over he went; I in my eagerness, leaning on one side,
attempted to grasp at him, the consequence was that the canoe, swinging
round, was driven by the current against the rock.  I heard a crash, the
foaming water washed over us, and I found myself struggling in its
midst.  My first impulse was to strike out, for I had been a swimmer
from childhood.

Notwithstanding, I found myself carried down.  I looked out for Hugh,
but the bubbling water blinded my eyes, and I could nowhere see him nor
my Indian companions; still I instinctively struggled for life.
Suddenly I found myself close to a rugged rock, whose sides afforded the
means of holding on to it.  By a violent effort I drew myself out of the
water and climbed to the top.  I looked round to see what had become of
the rest of the crew; my eye first fell on the canoe, to which Hugh was
clinging.  It was being whirled hurriedly down the rapids; and some
distance from it, indeed, almost close to where I now was, I saw the
head of an Indian.  His hands and feet were moving; but instead of
trying to save himself by swimming towards the rock on which I was
seated, he was evidently endeavouring to overtake the canoe.  I could
nowhere see our other companion; he had, I feared, sunk, sucked under by
the current.  A momentary glance showed me what I have described.

Directly I had recovered breath I shouted to Pierre and Corney, but the
roar of the waters prevented them from hearing my voice; and they and
their companions were so completely occupied in poling on their canoes
that they did not observe what had occurred.  Again and again I shouted;
then I turned round, anxiously looking to see how it fared with Hugh and
the Indian.

The canoe had almost reached the foot of the rapids, but it went much
faster than the Indian, who was still bravely following it.  He had
caught hold of one of the paddles, which assisted to support him.  I was
now sure that his object was to assist Hugh, for he might, as I have
said, by swimming to the rock and clutching it, have secured his own
life until he could be taken off by Corney or Pierre.  Hugh still held
tight hold of the canoe, which, however, the moment it reached the foot
of the rapids, began to drift over to the eastern shore.

Just then what was my dismay to see a number of red-skins rush out from
the forest towards the bank.  They were those, I had no doubt, from whom
we were endeavouring to escape.  They must have seen the canoe, and were
rejoicing in the thoughts of the capture they were about to make.
Hugh's youth would not save him from the cruel sufferings to which they
were wont to put their prisoners, should they get hold of him, and that
they would do this seemed too probable.  I almost wished, rather than he
should have had to endure so cruel a fate, that he had sunk to the
bottom.  Even now the Indian might come up with the canoe, but would it
be possible for him to tow it to the west bank, or support Hugh while
swimming in the same direction.  Though the rock was slippery I at
length managed to stand up on it, and as I did so I gave as shrill a
shout as I could utter.  One of the Indians in Corney's canoe glanced at
me for a moment.  He at once saw what had happened, and I guessed from
his gestures was telling Pierre as well as Corney of the accident.  In
an instant the poles were thrown in, and the Indians seizing their
paddles, the canoes, their heads turned round, were gliding like air
bubbles down the torrent.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

A NARROW ESCAPE.

HUGH'S CANOE ARRESTED BY RED SQUIRREL JUST IN TIME--THE CANOE SAVED--ALL
GOT UP THE RAPIDS AT LAST--CAMP AT THE TOP--THE BLACKFEET REACH THE CAMP
TO FIND THE PARTY GONE--THE INDIANS PURSUE, AND UNCLE DONALD LIES BY FOR
TWO DAYS ON AN ISLAND--END OF THE WATER PASSAGE--THE HORSES DO NOT
APPEAR.

As Corney and Pierre approached I waved to them to go on, pointing to
the canoe to which Hugh was clinging.  They saw the necessity of at once
going to his rescue, and so left me on the rock, where I was perfectly
safe for the present.  There was need, in truth, for them to make haste,
for already Hugh was drifting within range of the Indians' arrows, and
they might shoot him in revenge for the long run we had given them.

The overturned canoe seemed to be gliding more and more rapidly towards
them, when I saw its progress arrested.

The brave Indian had seized it, and was attempting to tow it away from
the spot where the savages were collected.  But all his efforts could
scarcely do more than stop its way, and he apparently made but little
progress towards the west shore.  Corney and Pierre were, however,
quickly getting up to it.  I shouted with joy when I saw Hugh lifted
into Corney's canoe, and the Indian with some assistance clambering into
that of Pierre.  Not satisfied with this success they got hold of the
canoe itself, determined to prevent it from falling into the hands of
the enemy.  This done, they quickly paddled over to the west shore,
where a level spot enabled them to land.  They had not forgotten me; and
presently I saw Corney's canoe, with three people in her, poling up
towards the rock on which I stood, while Pierre's was engaged in picking
up such of the articles of baggage as had floated.  It was not without
some difficulty that I got on board.  My first inquiry was to ascertain
which of the Indians had assisted to save Hugh, and I was thankful to
hear, as I had expected, that it was Bed Squirrel who had behaved so
gallantly.

We then had to decide what to do--whether to continue our course
upwards, to let Uncle Donald know what had happened, or to rejoin
Pierre.  Though I had managed to cling on to the rock I found my
strength so much exhausted that I could afford but little help in poling
up the canoe.  While we were discussing the matter, what was my dismay
to see an Indian on the top of the western cliff.

"Our enemies must have crossed, and we shall be attacked," I exclaimed.

"Sure no, it's one of Mr Donald's men who has been sent to see what has
become of us," answered Corney.

Such I saw was the case.  We could not hear his voice, but getting
closer to us he made signs which his own people understood, that he
would go back to Uncle Donald and learn what we were to do.  In reply
our two Indians pointed down to where Pierre's party were now on shore,
letting him understand exactly what had happened.

He quickly disappeared, and we had to wait some time, hanging on to a
rock by a rope, until he returned with two other men.  They then pointed
up the stream as a sign to us that we were to proceed.  We accordingly
did so, poling up as before.  By the time we got to the head of the
rapids we saw that Pierre was coming after us, apparently towing the
shattered canoe.

Above the rapids we discovered a small bay, towards which Uncle Donald's
voice summoned us.  As we landed he grasped my hand, showing his joy at
my escape.  It was some time before Pierre arrived.  Hugh came in his
canoe, while the rest of the men had arrived over land with the luggage
which had been saved, as also with our rifles, which, having been slung
under the thwarts, had fortunately not slipped out.

We immediately began our preparations for camping, but had, besides
doing what was usual, to collect materials for a stockade, which might
enable us to resist a sudden onslaught of the Blackfeet should they
cross the river.  One of the men was also placed on watch all the time
to prevent surprise.

While most of the party were thus engaged, Red Squirrel and Jock, who
were the best canoe builders, were employed in repairing the shattered
canoe, and making some fresh paddles and poles; indeed there was so much
work to be done, that none of us got more than a few hours' rest.  We
had also to keep a vigilant watch, and two of the men were constantly
scouting outside the camp, to guard in more effectually from being taken
by surprise.

All was ready for a start some time before daylight, when Uncle Donald,
awakening the sleepers, ordered every one to get on board as noiselessly
as possible.  He, as usual, led the way, the other canoes following
close astern.  The last man was told to make up the fire, which was left
burning to deceive the enemy, who would suppose that we were still
encamped.

We had got some distance, the wind being up stream, when just at dawn I
fancied that I heard a faint though prolonged yell.  We stopped paddling
for a moment, I asked Red Squirrel if he thought that the Blackfeet had
got across to our camp.  He nodded, and uttered a low laugh, significant
of his satisfaction that we had deceived them.  Daylight increasing, we
put up our masts and hoisted the light cotton sails, which sent our
canoes skimming over the water at a far greater speed than we had
hitherto been able to move.

Another lake appeared before us.  By crossing it we should be far ahead
of the Blackfeet.  We had brought some cooked provisions, so that we
were able to breakfast in the canoes.  It was long past noon before, the
river having again narrowed, we ventured on shore for a brief time only
to dine.

The next portage we came to was on the east bank.  It was fortunately a
short one, and Uncle Donald kept some of the men under arms, a portion
only being engaged in carrying the canoes and their cargoes.  No
Indians, however, appeared.

"I hope that we have given them the go-by," said Hugh, "and shall not
again see their ugly faces."

"We must not be too certain; I'll ask Red Squirrel what he thinks," I
replied.

"Never trust a Blackfoot," was the answer.  "They are as cunning as
serpents, and, like serpents, they strike their enemies from among the
grass."

We expected in the course of two or three days more to come to an end of
the river navigation at a spot where Uncle Donald had directed that the
horses should meet us.  We were not without fear, however, that some, if
not the whole of the animals, might have been stolen by the Blackfeet
should they by any means have discovered them.

Occasionally sailing, sometimes paddling and poling, and now and then
towing the canoes along the banks, we continued our progress.  As we
went along we kept a look-out for the Blackfeet, as it was more than
possible that they might pursue us.  We accordingly, in preference to
landing on either bank, selected an island in the centre of the stream
for our camping-ground.

We had just drawn up the canoes among the bushes and formed our camp in
an open spot near the middle of the island, when one of the men who was
on the lookout brought word that he saw a large number of savages
passing on the east bank.  We were, however, perfectly concealed from
their keen eyes.  Watching them attentively, we guessed by their
gestures that they were looking for us, and not seeing our canoes,
fancied that we had passed on.  Night was now approaching.  We were
afraid of lighting a fire, lest its glare might betray our position to
our pursuers.  They would, however, on not discovering us, turn back, so
that we should thus meet them, and Uncle Donald resolved, therefore, to
remain where we were, until they had retreated to the southward.  Even
should they discover us we might defend the island more easily than any
other spot we could select.  We had plenty of provisions, so that we
could remain there without inconvenience for several days, except that
we should thus delay our passage over the mountains.  Hugh and I were,
much to our satisfaction, appointed by Uncle Donald to keep watch, Hugh
on one side of the island and I on the other, for fear lest, should the
red-skins find out where we were, they might attempt, by swimming
across, to take us by surprise.

None appeared, however, and two more days went by.  At last Uncle Donald
began to hope that they, supposing we had taken another route, were on
their way back.  We accordingly, seeing no one the next morning,
embarked, and the river here expanding into a lake, we were able to
paddle on without impediment across it, and a short distance up another
stream, when we came to a fall of several feet, beyond which our canoes
could not proceed.  This was the spot where we had expected to find the
horses, but they had not arrived.  We were greatly disappointed, for,
having been much longer than we had calculated on coming up, we
naturally expected that they would have been ready for us.  Winter was
rapidly approaching, and in the autumn before the streams are thoroughly
frozen the dangers of crossing the mountains are greater than at any
other period.

As the canoes could go no higher we took them up the stream and placed
them "en cache," where there was little chance of their being
discovered.  They were to remain there until the return of our men, who
would accompany us to the foot of the mountains and go back again that
autumn.

On not finding the horses Uncle Donald went to the highest hill in the
neighbourhood, overlooking the country through which they had to pass,
in the hopes of seeing them approach.  He came back saying that he could
perceive no signs of them, and he ordered us forthwith to camp in such a
position that we might defend ourselves against any sudden attack of
hostile Indians.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

AMONG THE MOUNTAINS.

THE HORSE PARTY ARRIVES AT LAST, BUT WITH HALF THE HORSES STOLEN--THE
START ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS--MORE BLACKFEET IN THE WAY OBLIGE THE PARTY
TO TAKE A STRANGE PASS--IT BECOMES COLDER--SNOW COMES ON--A PACK OF
WOLVES--SLEIGHS AND SNOW-SHOES--IN THE HEART OF THE "ROCKIES"--CORNEY
HAS A NARROW ESCAPE AND A COLD BATH--SNOW IN THE CANOES--DIFFICULTIES OF
THE WAY--THE PASS AT LAST--A FEARFUL AVALANCHE.

Several days passed by.  We were not molested by the Indians, but the
horses did not arrive.  Uncle Donald never fretted or fumed, though it
was enough to try his temper.  I asked him to allow me to set off with
Corney and Pierre to ascertain if they had gone by mistake to any other
place.  We were on the point of starting when we saw a party of horses
and men approaching.  They proved to be those we were expecting, but
there were only eight horses, less than half the number we had sent off.
The men in charge had a sad account to give.  The rest had been stolen
by Indians, and one of their party had been killed, while they had to
make a long round to escape from the thieves, who would otherwise very
likely have carried off the remainder.  The men also had brought a dozen
dogs--our three especial favourites being among them--to be used in
dragging our sleighs in case the horses should be unable to get through.
We had carried the materials for forming sleighs with us in the canoes,
while the harness had been transported thus far with the other packages
by the horses.  The poor beasts, though very thin, were better than no
horses at all.  There were a sufficient number to convey our stores and
provisions, one for Uncle Donald, who carried Rose on his saddle, and
two others for Hugh and me.  The rest of the party had to proceed on
foot.  I offered mine to Madge, but she declared that she could walk
better than I could.

We made a short day's journey, but the poor animals were so weak that we
were compelled to camp again at a spot where there was plenty of grass.
It was here absolutely necessary to remain three days to enable them to
regain their strength.

While we were in camp Uncle Donald sent out Pierre and one of our
Indians to try and ascertain if any of the Blackfeet were still hovering
in the direction we proposed taking across the mountains.  We did not
wait for the return of our scouts, but started at the time proposed,
expecting to meet them on the road we should travel.

We were engaged in forming our camp, collecting wood for the fires, and
putting up rough huts, or rather arbours of boughs, as a protection from
the wind--which here coming off the snowy mountains was exceedingly cold
at night--while the gloom of evening was coming on, when one of the men
on watch shouted--

"The enemy! the enemy are upon us!"

While some of our people ran out intending to bring in the horses, the
rest of us flew to our arms.

Uncle Donald, taking his rifle, at once went out in the direction in
which the sentry declared he had seen the band of savages coming over
the hill.

Our alarm was put an end to when, shortly afterwards, he came back
accompanied by Pierre and his companion, who brought the unsatisfactory
intelligence that a large body of Blackfeet were encamped near the pass
by which we had intended to descend into the plains of the Saskatchewan.

Ever prompt in action, Uncle Donald decided at once to take a more
northerly pass.

The country through which we were travelling was wild and rugged in the
extreme; frequently we had to cross the same stream over and over again
to find a practicable road.  Now we had to proceed along the bottom of a
deep valley among lofty trees, then to climb up a steep height by a
zigzag course, and once more to descend into another valley.  Heavily
laden as were both horses and men, our progress was of necessity slow.
Sometimes after travelling a whole day we found that we had not made
good in a straight line more than eight or ten miles.

The weather hitherto had been remarkably fine, and Hugh and Rose and I
agreed that we enjoyed our journey amazingly.  Our hunters went out
every day after we had camped, and sometimes before we started in the
morning, or while we were moving along, and never failed to bring in
several deer, so that we were well supplied with food.  The cold at
night was very considerable; but with good fires blazing, and wrapped up
in buffalo-robes, we did not feel it; and when the sun shone brightly
the air was so pure and fresh that we were scarcely aware how rapidly
winter was approaching.

It should be understood that there are several passes through the lofty
range it was our object to cross.  These passes had been formed by the
mountains being rent asunder by some mighty convulsion of nature.  All
of them are many miles in length, and in some places several in width;
now the pass presents a narrow gorge, now expands into a wide valley.
The highest point is called the watershed, where there is either a
single small lake, or a succession of lakelets, from which the water
flows either eastward through the Saskatchewan or Athabasca rivers, to
find its way ultimately into the Arctic Ocean, or westward, by
numberless tributaries, into the Fraser or Columbia rivers, which fall,
after making numerous bends, into the Pacific.

We had voyaged in our canoes up one of the larger tributaries of the
Fraser, and had now to follow to its source at the watershed one of the
smaller streams which flowed, twisting and turning, through the dense
forests and wild and rugged hills rising on every side.

The country had become more and more difficult as we advanced, and
frequently we had to wind our way in single file round the mountains by
a narrow path scarcely affording foothold to our horses.  Sometimes on
one side, sometimes on the other were steep precipices, over which, by a
false step, either we or our animals might be whirled into the roaring
torrent below.  Now we had to force a road through the tangled forest to
cut off an angle of the stream, and then to pass along narrow gorges,
beetling cliffs frowning above our heads, and almost shutting out the
light of day.

At length we camped on higher ground than any we had yet reached.  On
one side was a forest, on the other a rapid stream came foaming by.  The
sky was overcast, so that, expecting rain, we put up all the shelter we
could command.

The hunters having brought in a good supply of meat, our people were in
good spirits, and seemed to have forgotten the dangers we had gone
through, while they did not trouble themselves by thinking of those we
might have to encounter.  We had no longer hostile Indians to fear; but
we still kept a watch at night in case a prowling grizzly or pack of
hungry wolves might pay the camp a visit.  The wind blew cold; not a
star was visible.  The light from our fire threw a lurid glare on the
stems and boughs of the trees and the tops of the rugged rocks which
rose beyond.

Having said good night to Rose, whom we saw stowed away in her snug
little bower, Hugh and I lay down a short distance from the fire,
sheltered by some of the packages piled up at our heads.  Uncle Donald
was not far from us.  On the other side were Pierre and Corney and Red
Squirrel, while Madge took her post, disdaining more shelter than the
men, close to Rose's hut.  Two of the men kept awake, one watching the
camp, the other the horses, and the rest lay in a row on the opposite
side of the fire.

Such was the scene I looked on till, completely covering my head up in a
buffalo-robe, I closed my eyes.  I was awakened by finding an unusual
weight above me.  I threw my arms about, when down came a cold shower on
my face and clearing my eyes I could just see the snow on every side,
while my body was completely covered up.  I was perfectly warm, however,
and felt no inclination to get out of my cosy bed to brush the snow
away.  I drew my robe again over my head; being well assured that Uncle
Donald would arouse us if there was any risk of our being completely
covered up.  How much longer I had slept I could not tell, when I was
once more awakened by a terrific howling, yelping, the barking of dogs,
the trampling and snorting of horses, followed by the shouts and shrieks
of our men.

I speedily drew myself out of my snowy burrow, and through the gloom I
caught sight of our horses endeavouring to defend themselves by kicking
out with their heels against a pack of wolves which had followed them up
to the camp, and Uncle Donald with the men engaged, some with their
rifles and others with sticks, in endeavouring to drive off the savage
brutes, but they were afraid of firing, for fear of wounding the horses.
I felt about for Hugh, who being covered up by the snow, had not been
awakened by the din.

"What is happening?" he exclaimed, sitting up.  "Are the Indians upon
us?"

"Only some hungry wolves, and we are all right," I said.

"Why, I fancy it has been snowing!" he exclaimed.

"I should think so," I answered.  "Come, jump up, we'll help put those
brutes to flight."

When the wolves found themselves encountered by human beings, they
quickly turned tail, but we had some difficulty in catching the
frightened horses, and I was just in time to seize one which was on the
point of dashing into Rose's hut.  As it was almost daylight, no one
again turned in; the fires were made up, and we began cooking our
morning meal.

The snow continued to fall so heavily, that Uncle Donald decided to
remain where we were, or rather to form another camp more under shelter
of the trees.  To proceed with the horses would have been almost
impossible, and he therefore settled to send them back and to prepare
the sleighs and snow-shoes for the rest of our journey.  A sleigh is
simply a thin board, ten feet long and about a foot broad, turned up at
one end.  The baggage is secured to it by leathern thongs.

To form a cariole, a cradle or framework like the body of a small
carriage is fixed on a sleigh such as I have just described, and is
covered with buffalo skin parchment, the inside being lined with a
buffalo-robe.  When the traveller is seated in a cariole with
outstretched legs, he is only separated from the snow by the thin plank
which forms the floor.  The dogs which drag the sleighs are attached to
them by leathern thongs and collars generally decorated with bead work
and tassels, surmounted by arches, to which are suspended strings of
small bells.  We had brought a supply of snow-shoes and moccasins for
all the party.  The snow-shoe is an oval frame five or six feet in
length, about one in width, the intermediate space being filled with
network, except a hole in the centre for the heel of the wearer.  It is
attached to the foot by leathern thongs.  All hands were busily engaged
in putting the sleighs together, fitting the harness to the dogs, and
arranging the cargoes.  The horses were sent back.  The canoe men had
taken their departure, and our party now consisted of Uncle Donald,
Rose, Hugh and I, Pierre, Corney, Madge, Red Squirrel, and four Indians.

We had to wait until the snow had somewhat hardened, and the stream up
which we were to proceed had been frozen over.  Uncle Donald had made
for Rose to sleep in a bag of buffalo-robes lined with softer furs,
which kept her perfectly warm.  She was the only person who was to enjoy
the privilege of a sleigh, drawn by Whiskey and Pilot, and guided by
Uncle Donald.  The rest of us were to travel on snow-shoes, a mode of
proceeding which, though fatiguing, kept us warm.

The last night of our stay in camp arrived.  We were to start, should
the weather be propitious, the next morning.  Soon after we turned in
for the night, before I had fallen asleep, I was greatly surprised to
hear the sound of chopping in a wood at no great distance off.  I called
to Hugh, he heard it also, as did Uncle Donald.

One after the other the men expressed their wonder at the sound.
Corney, who was on guard, walked a few paces in the direction from
whence it came, evidently thinking that something was wrong, but he soon
returned, declaring that he could see no one.  Suddenly there came the
crash of a falling tree.  After this mysterious occurrence, nothing
could induce him to go up to the spot, though it could not have been
more than two hundred yards off.  No one had been seen on the previous
evening, and had Indians been there, they would have observed our fire,
and would long ere this have gathered round it.

What Uncle Donald thought I could not tell, he certainly did not get up
to try and solve the mystery, nor did any of the Indians.  Night passed
away without disturbance, and the next morning, though Hugh, and Pierre,
and I made a circuit of the camp, we could discover no footsteps to
indicate that any one had been in the neighbourhood, nor signs of
chopping, nor a fallen tree, so that the mystery remained unexplained.

Breakfast over, our four Indians were sent ahead to trample down the
snow with their snow-shoes, the loaded sleighs following, driven by the
other men and Madge, who was as good a driver as any of them, Uncle
Donald in charge of Rose bringing up the rear with Hugh and me.  Such
was to be our proceeding for many a day, until we were over the
mountains.

We were now in the heart of the "Rockies."  The valley of the river we
were following was about a mile wide, and on either side rose high rocky
peaks, covered with perpetual snow, among which big-horns could be seen
watching us, the intruders into their domains, and daring us, as it
were, to scale the glaciers and meet them on their own ground.

We several times met with moose, one of which was shot nearly every day
to supply our camp with meat.  We were anticipating getting through the
pass without difficulty, when we found ourselves at the bottom of a fall
a hundred feet in height, with thickly timbered hills on each side,
which, rising abruptly from the water's edge, seemed to offer no footing
even for a snow-shoe, much less a practicable trail for dog-sleighs.

Uncle Donald was not to be defeated, however, and at once ordered a
regular track, graded round the face of the bluffs, to be formed.  By
using snow-shoes as shovels, and poles and brush for bridges, we crossed
the intervening gullies and reached the edge of the first fall.  Going
on a mile further, we found the river confined between perpendicular
walls of rock, up which there was no climbing.  We had to form another
path, carrying it over ledges of rock, banks of ice and snow, making
bridges from one huge boulder to another with the dark water boiling at
our feet ready to engulf any one who might make a false step.

To our joy, the formidable obstacle being surmounted, the good ice was
reached at last, when we pushed on, the dogs trotting gaily along, and
we following behind.

But ere long another fall barred our progress.  Before attempting to
surmount it, we halted for dinner.

As I was looking up I espied a big-horn, or mountain goat, and believing
that we could get near enough to shoot it, Hugh and I set off with our
guns.  The animal is about the size of a common sheep, with conical
horns, nearly three feet long, and forming a complete circle, but so
thick is the wool which covers its head and body that their full length
is not seen.

"Sure, you'll not be gettin' up after that baste!"  I heard Corney say,
he having followed us.

"We'll try," I answered, and began ascending the steep rocks.  The
difficulties were greater than we expected, but still we did not like to
be defeated.  We had been deceived by the clearness of the atmosphere,
and after climbing up and up, the goat appeared as far off as ever.
Presently he saw us, and off he bounded, springing along places where it
would have been madness to follow.

"I tould ye so!" cried Corney from below, for he had still followed us.
"Ye must git above one of those gentlemen if you want to shoot him.  Now
dinner will be cooked, and we had better be after getting down to eat
it."  We accordingly descended to where we had left our snow-shoes.

"Stop a moment!" cried Corney.  "Just let me get a drink of water, for I
see a rill dripping over a rock there."

Corney accordingly made his way up to the perpendicular bank, but
scarcely had he reached it, when, to our horror, there was a crash, and
he suddenly disappeared, leaving, however, his long pole behind him.

I knew that the river was running like a mill sluice down below, so
rushing forward I shoved the pole across the opening, and holding it in
one hand, as I threw myself flat on the ice, I thrust down my arm.  To
my relief, I felt Corney's head as he came to the surface, and seizing
his hair, hauled away with might and main.  Hugh now assisted me, and we
managed to drag up the Irishman from his fearfully perilous position.
It required caution, however, to get him on the ice, as that at any
moment might give way, and we should have to share the fate from which
we were trying to rescue him.

"Arrah! the spalpeens! why don't they help us?" cried Corney.  "Shout,
Mr Archie! shout, Mr Hugh!"

Our cries brought Pierre, who was nearest at hand, carrying a long rope
and a pole.

By resting on the poles, and lowering the rope with a bowline knot at
the end, we got it under his arms, and soon hauling him upon the ice, we
hurried away from the dangerous spot.

He was none the worse for his dip, though it was no joke to be plunged
head over ears in that icy cold water.  Several of the other men fell in
at different times, for although it was freezing hard the rapidity of
the current prevented the ice forming securely in many places.  We had
occasionally, therefore, to leave the river and to make our way through
the forest--no easy undertaking.  But we could get through any places,
provided they were more than two feet wide.  When camping, we shovelled
away the snow until we reached the moss on which we formed our beds;
then we made our fire in the centre of the hole, and took our places
round it.

When we went to sleep it was pretty deep, but in the morning, on getting
up, I found that I could not see over the wall of snow.  By beating down
the edges, however, we managed to climb out.

In spite of the depth of the snow, we travelled on, though as our
snow-shoes sank in places nearly a foot deep, the fatigue was very
great.  Rose laughed heartily as she saw us trudging on, and wanted Hugh
to take her place in the sleigh and let her go on foot while he rested.

Again we came to a more mighty canyon than any we had yet encountered.
This necessitated a detour, to avoid it, of about three miles overland.

A canyon, from the Spanish, is a deep gully or gorge, either with a
river or stream flowing through the bottom or not, but the canyons in
this part of the Rockies nearly always have a stream at the bottom.

We had again reached the river where it flowed on a more even course.
It was entirely frozen over, but we were high above it, and the
difficulty was to get down.

Pierre was the first to start.  Away went the dogs with the sleigh,
Pierre hauling it back and trying to stop its way.  But all would not
do, and presently he, dogs, and sleigh, went rolling over and over,
until they plunged into the snow at the bottom, to a considerable depth.

"Och sure I'll be wiser," cried Corney; and he made fast a tail rope to
a tree, thus enabling him to lower it gently for a short distance at a
time.  In slipping it, however, from one tree to another, the sleigh
gathered way, but scarcely had it got abreast of the dogs than it
sheered off on one side of a small tree, the dogs rolling on the other.
The tree--a mere sapling--bent, and the impetus carried the whole train
nearly twenty feet out towards its end--the dogs hanging by their traces
on one side, counterbalancing the sleigh on the other, where they swayed
to and fro in the most ludicrous fashion, yelping, barking, and
struggling to get free, and running a great risk of being hanged.

"Surely I'll be afther losin' me dogs, and the sleigh will be dashed to
pieces!" cried Corney, wringing his hands in his despair.

Uncle Donald told us to take charge of Rose; then springing down the
bank with the agility of a young man, axe in hand, with a few blows he
cut the traces and set the poor dogs free, while the sleigh bounded down
the hill into the snow at the bottom, where Pierre was trying to put his
train to rights, the new arrival adding not a little to his
difficulties.

Fearing that Rose might meet with a similar accident, Uncle Donald,
taking her in his arms, carried her down, while Hugh and I managed the
sleigh.  As soon as we were all to rights, we had the satisfaction of
seeing before us a clear "glare" of ice.  The dogs, entering into our
feelings, set off at a scamper to cross it.

In less than an hour we had got over a greater distance than we had the
whole of the previous day.  We had now reached the entrance to the pass.
On either side rose pyramidical peaks, covered with perpetual snow,
three thousand feet above the valley.  Shortly afterwards we came to the
foot of a magnificent glacier, which must have been scarcely less than a
mile in length and several hundred feet in height.  As we had made a
good day's journey, and evening was approaching, Uncle Donald was
looking out for a place at which to camp.  We had just fixed on a spot
on the bank of the river at the edge of a thick belt of trees, which
here intervened between it and the cliffs, when a roar as of distant
thunder reached our ears.

"Look out! look out!" cried the Indians in chorus, and they pointed
upwards.

We did look, and there we saw the whole side of the mountain, as it
seemed, in movement.  Huge rocks and vast masses of ice came rolling
down towards the spot we were passing over, threatening to overwhelm us.

Down rushed the fearful avalanche.  One huge rock was so directing its
course that our destruction seemed certain, when it crashed in among the
trees, tearing several up by the roots, but meeting with one of a larger
size, just before it readied us, it was turned aside, and forcing its
way through the remainder, it plunged into the river, not many feet from
where we stood.

As may be supposed, we did not camp at that spot, but, thankful for our
preservation, pushed on to where, the valley slightly widening out, we
ran less risk of being overwhelmed by an avalanche.



CHAPTER NINE.

LOST IN THE SNOW.

THE DIVIDING RIDGE--A MISHAP--MORE DIFFICULTY WITH THE SNOW--THE
PROVISIONS RUN SHORT--THE DOGS BEGIN TO SUCCUMB--HUGH, ARCHIE, AND RED
SQUIRREL ARE LOST IN A SNOW-STORM--DONE UP, AND NO SHELTER.

"The first part of our difficulties are approaching an end," said Uncle
Donald the next morning, as we were starting.  "It is possible that we
may reach the dividing ridge by nightfall."

The news caused every countenance to assume a cheerful expression.  We
pushed on in high spirits.  The river, which had been growing less and
less as we proceeded, at length became a small stream, fed by a fall
down a steep slope, up which we had, as before, to make our way by a
zigzag path.

On reaching the summit we found ourselves in an elevated valley, with
mountain peaks on each side towering magnificently to the sky, the rays
of the rising sun glancing on their snow-clad sides.

The surface of the lakes afforded a level and easy road.  Away went the
dogs at a brisk trot, the men shouting with glee as they thought our
difficulties were over.

Climbing up the banks of one lake, we crossed over the ground to
another, and then went on again as before.  We quickly got over seven or
eight miles, when we saw a stream, which, issuing from the eastern end
of the last lake, ran down a gentle incline.  The bright rivulet was a
feeder of one of the vast rivers which flow towards the Arctic Ocean.

A joyous shout was raised; we had crossed the dividing ridge, and the
vast plain through which flow the Saskatchewan and Athabasca lay below
us.  Several trees which grew by the lakelet were marked, to show the
boundary of the North West Territory, into which we had now entered.
Having quenched our thirst from the little stream, we again set out, the
ground sloping perceptibly towards the east.

The rivulet widened as we advanced, and after we had gone a short way we
found it completely frozen over.  The ice being of sufficient thickness
to bear our weight, we at once descended on to it, and away we went at a
greater speed than we had hitherto gone, every one being in the highest
spirits.

We had now to make a long circuit through a dense forest, keeping away
from the river, for fear of slipping down over the precipices which
formed the side.

Hugh and I, while sitting on our snow-shoes, were gliding downwards,
fancying that we should reach the bottom of a hill without difficulty,
when presently I saw him, on coming to some object concealed by the
snow, give an unintentional jump, and over he went, head first,
clutching at the shrubs and trying to stop himself.  I was laughing at
his mishap, when I felt myself jerked forwards, and then away I went in
the same fashion.

After some tumbling and rolling, with arms and legs outstretched, we
were both pitched into a deep snow reef at the foot of the hill.

One of the loaded sleighs, driven by Corney, before he had time to
unharness the dogs, as he was about to do, broke away from him, and away
it went, the poor dogs, terribly frightened, endeavouring to keep ahead
of it, but it went faster than they could.  In vain Corney and Red
Squirrel tried to stop it.  Had it kept clear of all impediments no
great harm would have happened; but, unfortunately, it came in contact
with a log, turning the poor dog who had the leader's place into a
pancake, while the front part of the sleigh itself was shattered to
fragments.  We hurried to the spot.  The poor dog lay dead, with its
head and limbs fractured.

We were some time occupied in repairing the broken sledge and harness.
Continuing our journey, the river level was at last reached, when, on
looking up, we saw that we had stood on a projecting ledge of ice not
more than two feet in thickness, which might have given way beneath our
weight and carried us down to destruction.

Hitherto, when not travelling on the ice, we had to make our way over
snow seldom less than two feet deep, but as we reached the base of the
mountains it suddenly disappeared.  As far as we could see to the
eastward, not a patch was visible.  Had it not been for the frozen
rivers and the leafless trees, we might have fancied that summer was
returning.  This phenomenon occurs along the whole base of the Rocky
Mountains, where there is a belt of nearly twenty miles in width
perfectly free from snow.

The ground being hard, we made good way over it, directing our course
about south-east towards a stream running into the Saskatchewan.

The stream we were steering for was reached.  Travelling over the ice,
we were soon again in a region where the snow lay thicker than ever, and
it became very trying to our dogs.  Our special favourites, Whiskey,
Pilot, and Muskymote, went on bravely, in spite of their hard labour by
day and the intense cold to which they were exposed by night.  They,
knowing fellows, whenever they stopped, carefully picked out the snow
which, getting between their toes, would have cut them severely; but
some of the younger ones, not understanding the necessity of so doing,
allowed it to accumulate, and became lame.

The snow now lay two feet in thickness over the whole surface of the
country, making it fearfully heavy work to get along.  We frequently had
to go ahead to form a track; and even so soft was the snow, that the
poor dogs would wallow through it up to their bodies, until they were
well-nigh worn out with their incessant labour.

We, however, pushed on, for had we ventured to stop our whole party
might have succumbed.  Our provisions were well-nigh exhausted, and
neither buffalo, nor deer, nor smaller game appeared to enable us to
replenish our stock of food.  Our object was to get on a stream with a
southerly or south-easterly course, on which we could travel until we
could strike a line across the country leading to the missionary
station.

We made short journeys between sunrise and sunset.  At the end of each
day our first task was to clear away the snow, so as to have a space for
our camp fire and room for the party to stretch themselves round it.
The most sheltered spot was selected for Rose's hut, which, when wood
was wanting, was formed of buffalo-robes.  She seemed to enjoy the
journey, and was as blooming and merry as ever.  The poor dogs were the
greatest sufferers.  They had hard work and scanty food.  First one
stretched out its legs and died, and then another did the same; and one
morning, when we were starting, even Pilot could not be coaxed away from
the camp fire.  No one had the heart to kill him, but stand on his legs
he either could not or would not, so he was left to his fate in the
faint hope that in an hour or so he might recover his strength and
overtake us.

As we pushed forward, on one side rose the lofty peaks of the Rocky
Mountains, and on the other stretched out a vast extent of comparatively
level land, in some parts open prairie, in others dense forest.  The
boughs of the trees were thickly laden with snow, the whole country,
indeed, was wrapped in a white wintry mantle.  The scenery was dreary in
the extreme.  Our spirits sank; it seemed that we should never come to
an end of our long journey.

The sky, hitherto bright, became overcast with clouds about the time
that we had got over about two-thirds of the day's journey.  Hugh and
Red Squirrel and I were at some distance in the rear of the party, when
snow began to fall and the wind to blow with unusual violence.  The snow
came down so thickly that it seemed as if the contents of a huge
feather-bed had suddenly been emptied upon us.  Thicker and thicker it
fell; so great was the obscurity that we could scarcely see a yard
ahead, while the tracks of our companions were almost instantly
obliterated.

We shouted, expecting that they would reply, and that we should be
guided by their voices, but no sound came in return.  We tried to run
on, hoping to overtake them, when Hugh fell and broke one of his
snow-shoes.  We, of course, stopped to help him up, and in so doing must
have turned slightly about.  Red Squirrel, ever fertile in resources,
set to work to mend the shoe.  This he did very rapidly; but even that
short delay was serious.  As soon as Hugh was on his legs we again
hurried on, supposing that we were following close behind the rest of
the party.  We shouted and shouted, but still there was no reply.  I
asked Red Squirrel if he thought we were going right.

He did not answer.

It is seldom that an Indian loses his way, but at length I began to fear
that he was at fault.  He acknowledged, indeed, that he was so.  We
unslung our guns, hoping that if we fired our friends would hear the
report, and fire theirs in return, but neither Hugh's nor mine would go
off.  We put on fresh caps, and both again snapped.  I felt in my pouch
for my pricker, to try and clear out the nipple, but could not find it.
I asked Hugh for his.

"I'm afraid that I dropped it yesterday evening in the camp, and I
thought that I would look for it in the morning, but forgot to do so,"
he answered.

At last we gave up the attempt in despair.  More valuable time had thus
been lost.  Red Squirrel urged us to go on, saying that he thought he
could guide us by the wind.  On and on we went.  The snow fell as
thickly as ever.  At last Hugh declared that he could go no further.  We
were both suffering from fearful pains in our ankles--the _mal de
raquette_, as the French Canadians call it, produced by the pressure of
the snow-shoe straps.

I looked anxiously about, hoping to discover some trees or shrubs which
might afford us shelter and enable us to light a fire, but a thick veil
of falling snow shrouded us on every side.  I consulted Red Squirrel as
to what we should do.  One thing was certain--that if we remained in the
open, exposed to the biting blast, we should perish.  I feared that such
would be our fate.  Poor Hugh gave way altogether, and, casting off the
straps from his ankles, threw himself down on the snow, and begged us to
leave him.



CHAPTER TEN.

SNOWED UP.

RED SQUIRREL AND ARCHIE DIG A HOLE IN THE SNOW--THE SNOW SHELTER--
SLEEP--NO FOOD, AND BURIED IN SNOW--EFFORTS TO DIG OUT--SOME ANIMAL
SCRATCHES AT THE HOLE--LAST EFFORTS AT DEFENCE.

To leave Hugh was not to be thought of.

"Oh, say what we must do!"  I exclaimed, addressing Red Squirrel.

"Make haste," he answered, taking off his snow-shoes.

I took off mine also, and using them as spades, we energetically set to
work to shovel up the snow until we had got down to the ground, building
up a wall with what we had thrown out.  There was just sufficient space
to hold three.  We then placed Red Squirrel's shoes on the top, for they
were the longest, and Hugh's above them, while with mine we threw up
more snow to form a roof.  As soon as we had got thus far, we lowered
Hugh into our burrow, that he might be sheltered from the wind, placing
the guns beside him.  We then continued throwing up the snow until we
had completely surrounded the hole, leaving only a small aperture
through which we could crawl in on hands and knees.  We next covered one
of my snow-shoes with snow, patted it down until it was like a board,
and this served as the door of our burrow.  We had just space sufficient
to sit up, or lie down packed close together, for we knew that the
smaller its size the warmer it would be, or, rather, the less should
feel the cold.

The change from the outer biting air made us feel tolerably comfortable,
and we had no great fear of being frozen to death.  Hugh, from not
having exerted himself in building the hut, suffered more than Red
Squirrel or I, and as soon as the door was closed I set to work to rub
his hands and feet to restore circulation, for I was afraid that they
might have been frost-bitten.

A very faint light at first came in through the snowy walls, but this
lessened, until we could not see our hands held close to our faces.

Night we knew must have at length come on.  We were very hungry, but as
we had not a particle of food, there was no use in complaining.

For a long time neither Hugh nor I could go to sleep.  At last Red
Squirrel set us the example, and when, some time afterwards, I addressed
Hugh, he did not answer, so that I knew he had forgotten his troubles,
and I hoped that perfect rest would enable him to recover from the pain
he had been suffering.  I at last also dropped off to sleep.

When I awoke the darkness was as complete as ever, though supposing it
was still night, I once more went to sleep.  The next time I opened my
eyes it was still dark as before.  I felt warmer than I had expected,
but I was desperately hungry.  From this I fancied that another day must
have begun.  In a short time my companions awoke.  Hugh said the pain in
his instep had gone, but that he would give much for something to eat.
Red Squirrel did not suffer as much as we did, for Indians are able to
endure hunger and pain a much longer time than can white people.

"Surely it must be day," said Hugh.  "We ought to try and get out, and
find our friends.  Rose and Uncle Donald will be dreadfully frightened
at having lost us."

"I hope that no accident has happened to them," I could not help saying,
for the recollection came upon me that they also had been exposed to the
snow-storm; but then I reflected that they were a large party, and might
have reached the shelter of a wood.  This was some consolation.

"Oh, how hungry I am!" cried Hugh.  "We must get out."

I took up my rifle and tried to open the door with the barrel, but,
although I ran it up to the lock, on again withdrawing it I could not
see daylight through the hole.

"I am afraid that the snow must be very thick," I said.  The dreadful
idea now occurred to me that we were buried alive in a snow tomb.  Such
had happened to other people, I knew, and it might be our fate, for if
the snow once froze over us we might be unable to force our way out.  I
asked Red Squirrel what he thought.

He answered with an ominous "Very bad!  Try," he added, and I found that
he was groping about to find the door.  He did not speak, but I heard
him scraping away with his hands, just as a terrier does at the entrance
of a rabbit burrow, with a vehemence which showed how much he feared
that we were completely buried.  I could feel the snow which he dug up
coming down on my legs.

At last he asked for my gun.  He thrust it into the hole he had formed,
but still no light streamed through it.  We must, however, by some means
or other, force our way out or perish.

"We had better try to work upwards," I observed.  "The falling snow has
surrounded the walls of our hut, and though we made the roof pretty
thick, we are more likely to reach the open air through it than by
working at the sides."

The Indian followed my suggestion.  Of course, we could all work
together, but then we might have pulled a mass of snow down on our
heads.  Our object was simply to make a hole through which we could look
out and ascertain if it were daylight, and if so to try and find out
whereabouts we were.  We might all the time be close to our party.  I
earnestly hoped that we were, so that we might satisfy the cravings of
hunger without delay.  The Indian tried to force off the snow-shoe which
formed the door, but found that impossible.  He then worked away above
it.  The snow he brought down considerably decreased the size of our
hut.  Still he persevered in working away, until I thought that he would
never get through the roof.  At last he asked me again to hand him up my
gun, and having forced the barrel upwards, as he withdrew it we could
feel the cold air coming down, while a gleam of daylight entered our
burrow.  But it would still require much labour before we could enlarge
the hole sufficiently to enable us to force our bodies through it.

At last, by dint of hard work, standing on the snow he had brought down,
Red Squirrel got out his head.  The report he gave was unsatisfactory.
Scarcely, however, listening to what he said, I jumped up and thrust out
my head, eager to ascertain the state of affairs.  I could see nothing
but a vast plain of snow on every side without a single object to direct
our steps.  Snow was still falling and had already reached above the
level of our hut.  We could not make our way over the vast plain without
our snow-shoes, and it would take a considerable time before we could
dig them out; and in the meantime we should be well-nigh frozen.

I drew in my head again, my face chilled by the cold air, and, sinking
down to the bottom of the hut, consulted with Red Squirrel and Hugh as
to what was to be done.  Hunger made us all anxious to go on; but then
arose the question, In what direction should we go?  We might perish in
the attempt to reach our friends.  We accordingly agreed to wait until
the snow had ceased.

Red Squirrel had, in the meantime, stopped up the hole to prevent the
cold from getting in.  Hunger and darkness soon caused us again to drop
off to sleep, and thus we must have remained some hours.  When at length
I awoke, I had neither the inclination nor power to move.

I called to Hugh.  He answered faintly.  I had, however, my senses
sufficiently about me to be aware of our perilous position.  The acute
sensation of hunger had gone off, and my only wish was to be left alone.
I tried to rouse myself, and endeavour to get up, but sank again to the
ground.  I then asked Red Squirrel to take a look out.  He at once rose
and scrambled up to the hole.  It was some time before he could force
off the snow.  He then told us that the snow had ceased, and that it was
night, for he could see the stars shining overhead.

"We must wait until morning, then," I said, thankful that I should not
have to move.

Once more we all dropped off into a state of stupor rather than sleep.
I don't know how long we had thus remained, when I was aroused by a
noise which came down the funnel.  It seemed as if some animal were
scratching away at the entrance.  The idea seized me that it was a bear,
and I thought how unable we were to defend ourselves.  I felt about for
my gun, forgetting that it had refused to go off.  Just as I grasped it
I remembered this, and desperately plunged my hand into my pouch, when
at the bottom I discovered my pricker, which my numbed fingers had
before failed to feel.  Clearing out the nipple as well as I could in
the dark, I put on a fresh cap.  While doing so, I awoke my companions.
Hugh answered faintly.  Red Squirrel immediately got up, and together we
managed to crawl to the opening through which I thrust my rifle, ready
to fire should the bear show himself.

The scratching continued more vehemently than before.  "He'll be upon us
presently," I whispered to Red Squirrel, as a gleam of light came down
through the aperture.  "Do you take the gun; I haven't strength enough
to fire;" and I sank back quite exhausted.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

RESCUED.

THE ANIMAL PROVES TO BE ONE OF THE DOGS--WHO GOES OFF FOR RESCUE--HELP
COMES AT LAST--HOW THE DOG HAD FOUND THE PARTY--EFFECTS OF THE
ADVENTURE--THE PARTY REACH THE BLOCK-HOUSE AT LAST, TO FIND ARCHIE'S
FAMILY ALL SAFE AND WELCOME REST.

I fully expected the next moment to see the huge claws of a monstrous
grizzly as he worked his way down to us, when, instead of a growl, I
heard the whine and sharp bark of a dog.  It was the voice I felt sure,
of our faithful Pilot, whom we had left at our last camp, as we
supposed, on the point of death.  I called out his name, and he answered
with a joyous bark.  Presently we saw him looking down upon us, when,
satisfied that we were really there, he gave another bark, and then Red
Squirrel, who had clambered up to the surface, told me that he was
scampering away to the southward.  I tried to get out to watch him, but
was utterly unable to accomplish the task, and Red Squirrel himself was
too weak to help me.  I felt sure, however, that the dog had gone to
summon our friends.  I tried to cheer up poor Hugh with the news.  He
seemed scarcely able to understand what had occurred, and I became
greatly alarmed at his condition.

We waited and waited; it seemed as if several hours had elapsed.  At
last Red Squirrel, who had gone to the hole, exclaimed that he saw some
dark objects moving over the snow.  They came nearer and nearer.  I
cannot describe the joy I felt when I heard Uncle Donald's voice, and
presently I saw Red Squirrel's legs disappear as he was drawn up through
the hole.  Directly afterwards another person came slipping down.

"Arrah! we've found ye at last, sure!" exclaimed Corney, lifting me in
his arms.

"Take up Hugh," I said, "he is in a worse state than I am."  He did as I
requested, but he was down again in a minute, and carrying me up,
wrapped me in buffalo-robes and placed me in one of the sleighs which
Uncle Donald, who was engaged in feeding Hugh from a can of broth, had
brought to convey us.  Some of the broth was immediately given to me.  I
could have gobbled up the whole of it, for the moment I felt the fresh
air the keenness of my appetite returned.

"I feared, my dear lads, that you were lost!" exclaimed Uncle Donald, as
he ran backwards and forwards between Hugh and me, giving us each
alternately a mouthful of the food.  "But through the mercy of Heaven,
as I will tell you by-and-by, we were led to this spot, and now the
sooner we get back to camp the better, for you require careful nursing,
I suspect.  It is a wonder that you have escaped."

Red Squirrel came in for a portion of the broth, and, not suffering so
much from hunger as we were, he was soon able, after he had swallowed
the food, to move about and assist Corney in digging out our snow-shoes.
As soon as they had been recovered, we set out for the camp, which we
found under the shelter of a wood about two miles off.

How Pilot, who had been left, as we supposed, dying in the camp, had
found us out, we were curious to know.  It appeared that one of the
Indians had left, as he confessed, a load of pemmican behind.  This the
dog must have scented out after we had gone, and having eaten it, had
remained sheltered during the storm under the snow.  His provisions
exhausted, he had set out to rejoin his companions, and on his way had
providentially been led to the mouth of our burrow.  Finding that he
could not get us out, he had gone on, and on coming up with the party,
by his extraordinary behaviour attracted attention.  The moment he had
had some buffalo meat, he rushed back towards where he had left us, and
then pulled at Corney's and Uncle Donald's leggings, thus leading them
to believe that he knew where we were to be found.

The cold was intense, but as it had hardened the snow, and the dogs had
greatly recovered by having had plenty of buffalo meat to eat, we made
rapid progress.  Hugh was placed in Rose's sleigh, and I had one to
myself, with some of the cargo stowed at my back, for even after two
day's rest we were unable to walk; Red Squirrel, however, was soon
himself again, and was able to keep up with the rest of the men.

More than a week had passed, when, as evening was approaching, we caught
sight of a flagstaff, above a block-house, and a circle of palisades
rising out of the snow on the banks of a stream backed by a lofty range
of mountains, spurs of the Rockies.

Though there were no trees in the immediate neighbourhood, a thick
forest was seen on either side, extending backwards, and rising up the
steep slopes.

It was the station to reach which we had travelled many hundred miles.
Descending to the river, which was frozen over, we dashed across it, and
were met on the other side by a party who issued from the stockade as we
approached.  At first we could only make out a number of Indians, but
presently a lady and five young people appeared among them.  To my joy,
I recognised the lady as my mother, the others were my two sisters and
three younger brothers, but they had all grown so much that I should not
have known them; and certainly they did not know me, for they looked
greatly surprised at the affectionate greeting my mother gave me.

"I am grateful, most grateful to you, Uncle Donald, for having come to
our assistance," she said, as she kissed his weather-beaten cheek.
"Your appearance will revive my poor husband, who is still suffering
from sickness.  He has not got over the fearful scenes we witnessed, and
is still anxious about our safety, as the savage Indians have vowed that
they will return in the spring and put us and those of their tribe who
have become Christians to death, should the pest again break out among
them, and I much fear, in consequence of their careless and dirty
habits, that it will do so."

"Cheer up, my good niece, we will now go into the house, and then
arrange what is best to be done," answered Uncle Donald.

I, in the meantime, was receiving the embraces of my brothers and
sisters, the latter of whom immediately rushed towards Rose, and
conducted her to the house.  My brothers also gave a warm greeting to
Hugh.  My poor father had risen to receive us.  He looked fearfully thin
and careworn, though our arrival, it was evident, cheered him.  Very
soon we were all assembled round a roaring fire in the sitting-room,
thankful for our preservation from the clangers of our journey, and not
a little pleased to be able to throw off our heavy clothing.  The
Indians took good care of Madge, Corney, and Pierre, and the rest of the
party, not neglecting the poor dogs, honest Pilot especially, when the
service he had rendered us was told, coming in for a large share of
their favour.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

ON THE ALERT.

AT THE STATION--AFTER BUFFALO--RETURN OF RED SQUIRREL FROM A SCOUT WITH
NEWS OF THE BLACKFEET--A PARTY RETURN--A PARTY SENT OUT TO BRING BACK
THE HUNTERS TO THE FORT--A STRANGE FIRE--RED SQUIRREL GOES OFF AGAIN ON
THE SCOUT.

My brothers and sisters, Hugh Rose, and I were very happy.

The former fancied that, now we had come, all their troubles would be
over.  They had, however, passed a sad and anxious time; the missionary
who had accompanied my father, with his wife and two children, had died,
as had several of the Christian Indians, while some hundreds of the wild
Indians had been swept off by the fearful pestilence.  The latter had
gone away south during the winter, and it was supposed that they would
not return till the spring.

Hugh and I occasionally went out with Uncle Donald, or Pierre and
Corney, in search of buffalo or deer.  We were generally fortunate
enough to kill either the one or the other.  Uncle Donald had lost no
time in sending out trusty scouts to try and ascertain the whereabouts
of the Blackfeet.

Red Squirrel, from being one of the most active and intelligent of our
Indians, was thus constantly employed.  The duty was a hazardous one,
for, as he well knew, should the enemy catch him, they would to a
certainty take his scalp.

As neither buffalo nor deer had for several days appeared near the
station, the hunters had to go a considerable distance in search of
them.  As soon as an animal was killed one of the dog-sleighs was sent
out to bring in the meat.

I have not described the station.  It was in some respects like a fort,
being entirely surrounded by palisades, both that it might be defended
from an hostile attack, and for the purpose of protecting the buildings
in the interior from the cold winds in winter, and to prevent the snow
from drifting round them.  There was a strong gate on one side which
could be securely closed with bars, and a narrow platform with a parapet
ran round the upper part of the palisades, from which its defenders
could fire down on their assailants.  It was in this respect very
different from the usual missionary stations, which are entirely without
defence.  It had been built as a fort by the fur traders, and being in
the neighbourhood of a savage and warlike tribe, it was considered
prudent to repair it in the fashion I have described.  When existing as
a fort, it had been more than once captured and plundered by the
Indians, and on one occasion the whole of the defenders had been put to
death.

I had one morning gone up to the platform to take a look out, when I
espied far off to the southward a small herd of buffalo.  Our hunters
had, on the previous evening, gone off to the eastward, and, unless they
should find game near, were not likely to return for some days.  I
hurried down to Uncle Donald to tell him what I had seen, and request
permission to set off to try and kill a buffalo.

"I will go with you," he said; and Hugh begged that he might accompany
us.  So we set off with our guns, hoping, that by keeping among the
woods, we might get to leeward of the herd, and sufficiently near to
shoot one or more beasts.

My brother Alec, who was nearly as old as Hugh, went also.  We hurried
along on our snow-shoes, eager to get up to the herd before they should
move off.  This they were not likely to do, as they had found a spot
where the snow was less deep than in other places, and they had got down
to the grass by pawing with their feet.

They did not perceive us, and the wind being north-east, we succeeded in
getting round to the south of them.  We then crept carefully up, and
Uncle Donald, firing, brought a fat cow to the ground.  Hugh and I aimed
at another, which we badly wounded; but instead of running off with its
head lowered, ploughing up the snow as a ship turns up the foaming
water, it came charging towards us.

"Now, Alec, see what you can do!" exclaimed Hugh and I, as we rapidly
re-loaded; "but run aside as soon as you have fired, or the brute may
kill you."

I heard Alec's shot, when, looking up, to my dismay, I saw that he had
missed.  The buffalo was within twenty paces of us.  Alec did his best
to make off on one side, which, however, could not be done very rapidly
with snow-shoes on.  In another instant the buffalo would have reached
us, when a shot which came from behind a tree laid him low, and looking
round, I saw an Indian, whom I directly recognised as Red Squirrel.  The
rest of the herd being thus disturbed had made off.  Uncle Donald now
came up and thanked Red Squirrel for his timely aid.  He reported that
he was on his return to the fort with somewhat alarming intelligence.
He had got up one night, he said, close to the Blackfeet lodges, where
he observed the chiefs seated in council.  He caught the meaning of some
of their speeches, from which he gathered that it was their intention,
before long, to come north and avenge themselves on the white medicine
man--so they called my father--for the pestilence which they asserted he
had inflicted on them because they had refused to become his proselytes.
Red Squirrel also stated that he had seen among them a white man, who
had spoken, and tried to dissuade them from prosecuting their design.
He was clothed, like them, in a dress of buffalo-robes, from which Red
Squirrel argued that he had been some time among them.  They seemed,
however, in no way inclined to listen to the advice of the white
stranger, and expressed their intention of setting out as soon as their
medicine man should pronounce the time to be propitious.

"We must return at once and put the station in a state of defence," said
Uncle Donald, on hearing this.  "The savages may be upon us in the
course of two or three days, and will give us but a short time to
prepare for them.  It is unfortunate that the hunters are away, for we
require their assistance; and should the Blackfeet fall in with them
they will lose their scalps to a certainty."

"I would willingly go out and try and find them," I said.  "As no snow
has fallen since they started, I can easily find their tracks."

"I would much rather send Red Squirrel or Corney; but I'll think about
it as we go along," said Uncle Donald.

Pierre had gone with the hunters, so that only the Irishman and young
Indian were available for the purpose.

We at once turned our faces homewards, going on as fast as we could move
on our snow-shoes.  We thought it possible that we might find on our
arrival that some of the hunters had returned, but none had made their
appearance.  My father looked very anxious when he heard the information
brought by Red Squirrel.

"We might repulse them should they attack the place, but if any are
killed, what hope can I afterwards have of winning them over to the
Gospel?" he said.  "I talk to them of peace, and urge them to enlist
under the banner of the Prince of Peace, and yet they find me and my
friends allied in arms against them."

"But if we don't defend ourselves, they will knock us on the head and
carry off our scalps," answered Uncle Donald.  "I will do all I can to
preserve peace, and induce them to go back without fighting, should I be
able to hold any communication with them.  In the meantime, we must
prepare to defend the fort.  Archie has volunteered to go out in search
of the hunters, who must be forthwith called in, but without your
permission I do not like to let him go."

"As it is in the path of duty, I will not forbid him," answered my
father.

"If Archie goes, let me go too," cried Alec.  "I can run as fast as he
does on snow-shoes."

After some demur, Alec got leave to accompany me, for Hugh, not being
quite well, was unable to go.

We were in good spirits, pleased at the confidence placed in us, and
only regretting that Hugh had not been able to come.  The trail of the
hunters was perfectly clear, leading away to the south-east.  They had
taken a couple of sleighs to bring in the meat, so that we had no
difficulty in directing our course.

We had made good nearly ten miles, and had not met any buffalo tracks,
which showed us that the hunters must still be some way ahead, when we
heard a voice shouting to us, and, looking back, we saw an Indian
running towards us over the snow.  As he was alone, we had no doubt that
he was a friend, and as he came nearer we recognised Red Squirrel.

He could not, he said, allow us to go without him, and as soon as he had
taken some food he had set off.  He had left Uncle Donald busily
engaged, assisted by my father and the remaining men in the fort, in
strengthening the palisades.  "If the Blackfeet come expecting to get in
and plunder the fort, they will find themselves mistaken," he added.

We were very glad to have Red Squirrel with us; although, accustomed as
we were to travel over the snow-covered plains, and having the mountains
with whose forms we were well acquainted to the eastward, we had no fear
about finding our way back, provided that the weather should remain
clear.  There was, of course, the possibility of a snow-storm coming on,
and then we might have been greatly puzzled.

Notwithstanding the fatigue Red Squirrel had gone through during the
last few days, he was as active as ever, and kept us moving as fast as
we could go.

Before sunset we came upon the tracks of buffalo, though the animals
themselves were nowhere to be seen.

"We'll soon find them," observed the Indian; but though we went on some
distance, neither buffalo nor hunters could we discover, and we were
glad, just as night fell, to take shelter under the lee of a thick clump
of poplars and spruce pine.  To cut sufficient wood for our fire and
clear away the snow was the work of a few minutes, and, with our pot
boiling, we were soon sitting round a cheerful blaze discussing our
supper.  We continued sitting round the fire, wrapped in our
buffalo-robes, with our feet close to the embers, every now and then
throwing on a stick, while we talked and Red Squirrel smoked his pipe.

I proposed that two of us should lie down and go to sleep, while the
third kept watch, when Red Squirrel, getting up, said he would take a
look out.

Climbing up the bank, he went to the top of a knoll a short distance
off.  We could see his figure against the sky.  In a short time he came
back.

"See fire out there," he said, pointing to the southward.  "May be
friends, may be enemies, may be Blackfeet.  If Blackfeet, sooner we get
'way better."

"But how are we to find out whether they are friends or foes?"  I asked.

"Red Squirrel go and see," he answered.  "You stay here;" and taking up
his gun, he quickly disappeared in the darkness, leaving us seated at
our camp fire.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

ATTACKED BY THE RED-SKINS.

PROLONGED ABSENCE OF RED SQUIRREL--FLIGHT--THE STRANGERS PROVE TO BE
FRIENDS--RETURN TO THE FORT--UNCLE DONALD OPPOSES THE DOCTRINE OF
NON-RESISTANCE--THE GUARD OVER THE FORT--THE INDIANS ATTACK THE FORT.

We felt very uneasy at the strangely prolonged absence of Red Squirrel.
He could have anticipated no danger, or he would have advised us what
course to pursue should he not return.  At last, telling Alec to sit
quiet, I got up, and made my way to the top of the knoll, whence I could
see over the country to the southward, in the direction I supposed Red
Squirrel had gone.  I looked and looked in vain through the gloom of
night, though I could see in the far distance the light of the fire of
which he had spoken.

Could he have been captured? if so, what should Alec and I do?  It would
be impossible to rescue him--indeed, it was too probable that he had
been immediately put to death by the Blackfeet, and that we might
ourselves, should we remain in the neighbourhood, be killed.  I came
therefore to the conclusion that we must continue our search for the
hunters to the eastward, keeping at the same time a watchful eye in the
direction in which we had seen the fire of our supposed enemies.  I say
supposed enemies, because I still had a lingering hope that, after all,
the fire might be at the hunters' camp.

Such were the thoughts which passed through my mind as I stood on the
top of the knoll.  I had not been there many minutes before I
recollected how clearly I had seen Red Squirrel in the same position
against the sky.  Instead, therefore, of remaining upright, I stooped
down until I reached a thick bush, behind which I crouched, as well able
as before to see any objects moving in the plain below.  At last I
thought that it was time to go back to Alec, and was on the point of
descending the knoll, when I fancied that I saw some objects moving
along the ground.

I remained stock still, scarcely daring to breathe, with my eyes fixed
on the spot.  They were human beings--Indians I felt sure; if so, they
would soon see our fire, and we should be discovered.

While there was time I hurried down the knoll and flew to Alec.  I made
a sign to him to take up his rifle and buffalo-robe, with a few other
articles, left on the ground, and led the way through the wood.  Here we
might remain concealed until the savages had gone away, and then try to
get back to the fort.  I had no great hopes of success, still, it was
the only thing to be done.

We had reached the spot, and it was some way from the fire, but we were
still able to see it by raising our heads over the bushes.

We had both knelt down behind the bush, with our rifles ready to raise
to our shoulders at any minute.  Alec, only the moment before I
returned, had thrown some wood on the fire, so that it was now blazing
up brightly, and we could see all the objects round it.  Just then three
figures appeared.  Two were Indians--there could be no doubt about it;
but the other we could not make out clearly.  They advanced, looking
eagerly around, but as they came more into the light, instead of
savages, with scalping knives in hand ready to kill us, great was our
joy to discover that one was Pierre, and the others Red Squirrel and
Kondiarak.  They looked very much astonished at not seeing us.  We did
not keep them long in suspense, and Pierre then told us that they had
come on purpose to advise that we should at once return to the fort,
without waiting for daylight.  They had been successful in hunting,
having killed three buffalo cows, with the meat of which the sleighs
were already packed, and as the track was formed, the dogs would find
their way without the slightest difficulty.

We reached the fort without having seen the enemy, and, as may be
supposed, were heartily welcomed.

Our arrival restored the spirits of my poor father and mother, who were
very anxious, not so much for themselves as for my younger brothers and
sisters.  They were prepared to die, if God so willed it, in the path of
their duty.  My father was still very unwilling to resort to force, and
proposed going out himself to meet the enemy to try and induce them to
turn back.

Uncle Donald, however, told him that as he was the object of their
vengeance they would, to a certainty, seize and torture him, and then
probably come on and endeavour to destroy the fort.  Thus no object
would have been gained, as we should do our utmost to defend ourselves,
and his life would be uselessly sacrificed.

"But I should have done my duty in attempting to soften the hearts of
the poor savages," answered my father, meekly.

"My good nephew, it's just this, I'm not going to let ye have your scalp
taken off," said Uncle Donald, bluntly.  "I am commander here for the
time being, and no man, not e'en yourself, shall leave the fort without
my leave.  If the savages come they must take the consequences."

My father did not reply, but I am very sure that, had he been left to
act by himself, he would have earned out his intentions, and would most
probably have perished.  From Pierre's report we fully expected every
minute to see the Blackfeet appear.  To each man under Uncle Donald's
directions a post was assigned, which he was charged to defend with his
life.  Orders were, however, given that no one was to fire until the
word of command was received.

Hugh, Alec, and I were stationed together, and highly proud we were at
the confidence placed in us, as the post we had to maintain was one of
the most important.

The day wore on, but we were still unmolested, and at last darkness came
down upon us.

The winter, it will be remembered, was not yet over.  To defend
ourselves from the intense cold we all put on as many buffalo-robes and
bear-skins as we could wear, and Hugh declared that we looked like a
garrison of grizzlies.

It was cold enough during the day, but it was still colder at night;
notwithstanding this, as Alec and I had had no sleep for many hours, we
found it difficult to keep awake.  We, therefore, rolling ourselves up
in our wraps, lay down, while Hugh stood ready to call us at a moment's
notice.  There were, however, sentries enough to keep a look-out, and
Uncle Donald continued going round and round the fort, seeing that they
were watchful.

The dawn was approaching; it was the time the Red-skins often make their
attacks, as they expect to find their enemies buried in sleep.

When morning at last came, and no enemy had appeared, we began to hope
that no Blackfeet had as yet reached the neighbourhood.

Another day was drawing on.  Except a few men who remained on guard, the
rest of the garrison lay down to sleep, that they might be more watchful
the following night.

I spent a short time with my mother and sisters and Rose, and did my
best to encourage them, but I could not help feeling that possibly it
might be the last time we should be together on earth.  By Red
Squirrel's report, the Blackfeet were very numerous, and they are noted
for being the most savage and warlike of all the northern tribes.

The next night was almost a repetition of the former, except that Alec
and I kept watch, while Hugh lay down to sleep.  Uncle Donald, as
before, went his rounds, and there seemed but little risk of our being
taken by surprise.  He had just left us, when Hugh, who had got up and
was standing near me, whispered--

"I see something moving over the snow.  There! there are others.  Yes,
they must be Indians."

"Wait until we are certain," I answered, in the same low voice; "and
then, Alec, run round and tell Uncle Donald."

We were not left long in doubt before we all three were certain that the
objects we saw were Indians, and that they were trying to keep
themselves concealed.

Alec set off to find Uncle Donald.  He had not been gone many seconds,
when fearful yells rent the air.  Before us up started hundreds of dark
forms, and a shower of bullets and arrows came flying above our heads.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

AN OLD FRIEND.

THE BLACKFEET MEET A WARM RECEPTION--AND RETREAT--A WOUNDED INDIAN--
PROVES TO BE PONOKO, WHO TELLS OF A WHITE MAN IN THE INDIAN CAMP--A
FRIENDLY CONFERENCE.

The moment the war-whoop of the Blackfeet had ceased Uncle Donald's
voice was heard, ordering us to fire.

We obeyed with right good will, and must have greatly astonished the
savages, who, not aware of the increased number of our garrison, had
probably expected to gain quite an easy victory.  Many of them had
muskets, but the larger number could only have been armed with bows and
arrows.  After they had shot five or six showers of arrows and fired
their guns--fortunately, without hitting any of us, though we could hear
their missiles pinging against the thick palisades--they suddenly
ceased, and began to retreat, when Uncle Donald shouted to them in their
own language, inquiring why they had attacked people who had done them
no harm, but were anxious to benefit them.

No reply came.  Our men uttered a shout of triumph.  Uncle Donald
stopped them.

"The Blackfeet have retired, but I know their cunning ways, and I deem
it more than likely that they will be down upon us again when they think
to catch us off our guard or maybe they have devised some treacherous
plot to entrap us."

We waited, but, as far as we could judge by the sounds which reached our
ears, the savages had really retreated, and did not intend to attack us
again that night.  That they would give up their object was not to be
expected, and my father proposed, should we find they had gone to a
distance, that, rather than cause more bloodshed, we should abandon the
station and retreat to one of the company's forts to the northward, "We
have sleighs sufficient to convey the women and children," he added;
"and when the anger of the misguided people has subsided, I will return
by myself, and endeavour to win them over by gentle means, for such only
should be employed to spread the Gospel among the heathen."

"You are very right in that respect, but though we may get to some
distance, when the Blackfeet find that we have gone, they will to a
certainty follow on our trail and quickly overtake us," answered Uncle
Donald.  "I cannot consent to such a plan; we must show them that we are
able to defend ourselves, and let their blood be upon their own heads if
they persist in attacking us.  We will, however, try how negotiation
will succeed.  I used to be well-known among them, and I propose
to-morrow, should they not again attack the fort, to go singly into
their camp and invite them to smoke the calumet of peace.  Should I be
detained, you must promise to hold out to the last, and not any account
trust to what they may say.  We will, in the meantime, send a messenger
to Rocky Mountain House, entreating for assistance.  I feel sure that
the officer in charge will send as many men and horses as he can spare
to enable you to escape, or defend the fort, if necessary."

My father and mother entreated Uncle Donald not thus to risk his life;
but he was firm in his resolution.  My father then proposed going with
him, but to this Uncle Donald would not consent.

A considerable portion of the night was consumed in these discussions.
A vigilant watch was of course kept, but no one could be seen stirring
outside the fort.  Having taken a brief nap, just before dawn I returned
to my post on the ramparts.  As daylight increased I fancied that I saw
the body of a man lying under a bush some distance from the fort.  Yes,
I was certain of it.  I pointed him out to Hugh, and we both fancied
that we saw an arm move.

"He is one of the savages who was shot in the attack last night, and,
unperceived by his companions, he must have fallen where we see him,"
observed Hugh.

While we were speaking, some of the Indians we had brought with us--who,
though faithful servants, were still heathens--caught sight of the body.
Lowering themselves down without asking leave, they were rushing, with
their scalping knives in their hands, towards the hapless being.

Uncle Donald at that instant coming up on the ramparts saw them, and
guessed their object.  "Come back, you rascals!" he shouted.  "Whether
that man be alive or dead, don't touch a hair of his head!"

As they did not stop he fired his rifle, the bullet passing just in
front of the leading Indian, who now thought it time to come to a
standstill.

"Archie and Hugh, you go and look after that poor fellow, and make our
people bring him in," continued Uncle Donald.

We instantly obeyed, for although the height was considerable we could
manage to drop to the bottom without injuring ourselves.  We then ran as
fast as our legs could carry us to overtake our Indians.  Having
delivered Uncle Donald's orders, we then hurried on to where the Indian
lay.  At a glance I saw that he was desperately wounded from the blood
which flowed from both his legs, while another shot had rendered his
right arm powerless.  His eyes still wore a defiant expression, and he
appeared to fancy that we were about to kill him.  By signs and such
words of his language as we could speak, we endeavoured to make him
understand that we had come to carry him into the fort to try and save
his life.

As there was not a moment to be lost, we first bound up his wounds, and
then ordering our people to assist us we lifted him from the ground and
hurried towards the fort, meeting on our way Uncle Donald, who had the
gate open to admit us.  Without stopping we carried the wounded man into
the house, where my father, who had risen, was ready with bandages and
salves to attend to him.  My mother, meantime, was preparing some strong
broth, which our prisoner eagerly swallowed.  It had an almost
instantaneous effect in reviving him.  Uncle Donald, who had in the
meantime been going round the fort to ascertain if more wounded had been
left in its neighbourhood, now entered the room, and as his eye fell on
the countenance of our captive, he exclaimed, "Ponoko!  Do you remember
your white friend?"

The Indian made a sign that he was the person supposed, though he was
too weak to speak.

Uncle Donald then told him that although he had come as an enemy he
should be well cared for.

In a short time the judicious treatment he was receiving enabled him to
utter a few words.  He seemed grateful for the care taken of him, and
his eyes brightened when my young sisters and Rose brought him the soup,
which he received almost every hour.  He especially noticed Rose, and
when Uncle Donald came to see him, inquired, in a tone of evident
interest, who she was.

"You are right if you think you remember her, for she is the little girl
you saved when your people attacked the village in the territory of the
Long-knives some years ago," answered Uncle Donald.

"Will you now let me take her back?" asked Ponoko.

"Do you think it likely that I should consent?" said Uncle Donald.  "Her
ways are not the ways of your people.  She would pine and die were she
to be treated as your women are treated."

"But there is one who has long lived with us whose heart would be
rejoiced to see her," said Ponoko.  "You may remember when I parted from
you I promised to try and save the lives of any of our pale-faced
prisoners.  I succeeded in saving that of one man just as he was about
to be tortured and killed, but it was on condition that he would swear
to remain with us, and never betray us to our enemies.  He was a great
hunter, and brave as the bravest among us.  He also, we found, was not
one of the Long-knives, but was a subject of the Queen of the
Pale-faces.  He has kept his promise, though he might often have made
his escape.  He had been many months with us, before I found how sorely
his heart yearned to get away, and I would have set him free, but the
other chiefs would not consent.  He looked upon me as his friend.  He
told me that his child and all his household had died by the hands of
our people, except his wife, who was away in one of the big cities in
the east at the time we attacked the place.  I was thus led to tell him
of the little girl I had saved and given over to you, and he has ever
since been hoping that she might prove to be one of his children.  He
has hoped and hoped until he has persuaded himself that such she is.
Thus I know how it would rejoice his heart to see her."

"I have strong doubts about that," answered Uncle Donald.  "He would
rejoice to see her, but not to have her among your people, from whom she
differs so greatly.  The only way truly to benefit him would be to set
him at liberty and allow him to return among the Pale-faces to whom he
belongs."

"But how can that be while I am sick and a prisoner with you?" asked
Ponoko.

"You'll recover, I hope, ere long, and as you have fulfilled your
promise on one occasion, I feel confident that you will not disappoint
us if we set you at liberty on your undertaking to restore this white
stranger to his people."

"Ponoko always keeps his word," answered the Indian in a proud tone.

"But should the Blackfeet, in the meantime, attack us, we may be
destroyed, and they may take you away with them," observed Uncle Donald.

"If my people come, you shall carry me out on a litter; I will tell them
how well the Pale-faces have treated me, and will urge them, instead of
fighting, to make a lasting peace with my white father and his friends,"
said Ponoko.

"I will trust you, my brother," said Uncle Donald, pressing Ponoko's
hand.  "I pray that you may soon be restored to health, and that you
will teach your people that it is to their true interests to be at peace
with the white men, and to trade honestly with them."



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

A HAPPY ENDING.

PONOKO RECOVERS--TIME PASSES WITHOUT FURTHER ATTACK--AND MEAT HAS TO BE
PROCURED--RED SQUIRREL AGAIN SENT ON SCOUT--RETURNS PURSUED BY SIX
BLACKFEET--TIMELY RESCUE--POOR RED SQUIRREL IS QUITE EXHAUSTED--THE
BLACKFEET RETURN IN LARGE NUMBERS--PONOKO GOES OUT TO MEET THEM--EFFECT
OF HIS APPEARANCE ON THE TRIBE--HE RETURNS WITH A WHITE MAN--ROSE FINDS
A FATHER--AND BOTH FIND A WIFE AND MOTHER--ALL ENDS HAPPILY AT LAST.

Day after day went by, and the Blackfeet did not appear.  Ponoko, never
having indulged in the pernicious fire-water, was rapidly recovering
under my father's judicious care and the attention he received from Rose
and the rest of the family.  We had not yet told her of the possibility
that her father had escaped and might be restored to her.  I suspect
that she would not have understood us had we done so, for she looked
upon Uncle Donald as her father, though she called him "Uncle" as Hugh
and I did.  Indeed, all the events of her life which had occurred before
the fearful night of the massacre appeared to have faded from her
memory.

At length, as the Blackfeet had not shown themselves, we began to hope
that they would allow us to remain at peace, and Uncle Donald already
talked of returning home.  He proposed that my mother and father and the
rest of the family should accompany him, but my father replied that
nothing should induce him to quit his post, unless driven away by the
savages, and that he would then retire, with his converts, to some spot
among more friendly tribes further north.

Among others signs of returning spring was the appearance of a herd of
buffalo passing in the far distance, and as our provisions were again
running short, Uncle Donald was compelled to allow the hunters to set
off for the purpose of killing some of the animals.  Hugh and I wanted
to accompany them, but he would only allow Pierre, and Corney, and four
of the most active red men to go on the expedition.

As soon as they set out, he sent off Red Squirrel to try and ascertain
the whereabouts of the Blackfeet camp, with directions to come back
should he discover that they were on the move.

We waited day after day for Red Squirrel's expected return, but he did
not appear, and we began to have serious apprehensions that he had been
captured.

The hunters, however, had come back with a good supply of buffalo meat,
so that we should be well prepared in case we should be besieged.

At last, one evening as I was looking out towards the south, I saw
several objects moving across the prairie.  At first I thought that they
might be deer or wolves, or even smaller game.  One was leading
considerably ahead of the rest.  They were coming towards the fort.
Besides the first I counted six others.  I called the attention of my
companion to them.

"They are men!" exclaimed Ponoko.  "Those six are of my tribe; they are
in pursuit of the first!  He must run fast, or before he can reach the
fort they will overtake him.  Already I see by his movements that he is
fatigued."

I had little doubt but that the leader was Red Squirrel.  I asked
Ponoko, whose keen eyes could distinguish his dress better than the rest
of us could do.

"Yes, he is your young friend," he answered.  "See, see! he is
increasing his speed, he may still escape, and my people will go back
disappointed.  They will not dare to come within range of your rifles."

"Then we will go out and meet them!"  I exclaimed, hurrying down.  I
told Uncle Donald what Ponoko had said.  Taking our rifles, and buckling
on our snow-shoes, Hugh, Alec, Pierre, Corney, and I hurried out of the
fort, and set off running faster, I think, than we had ever run before,
to meet the hard-pressed fugitive.

Once more his pursuers were gaining on him; before long their scalping
knives might be about his head.  He was the first to perceive us
approaching, and it seemed to add fresh nerve to his legs.  Soon
afterwards the Blackfeet caught sight of us.  The instant they did so
they sprang forward, making a last desperate effort to overtake our
friend; but perceiving that we had rifles ready, they well knew that,
even should they succeed, we should make them pay dearly for the act.

Giving up the chase, therefore, they stopped, and turning round, ran off
at a rate which soon placed them beyond our reach.

In a few moments Red Squirrel was up to us, but so hard-pressed had he
been that he was unable to tell us what had happened.  We supported him,
not without difficulty, to the fort, when his snow-shoes being taken
off, had he not been resting in our arms, he would have sunk fainting to
the ground.  We delivered him over to his mother, who chafed his limbs,
and used every other means she could devise for restoring his strength.
It was some time before he could speak.  He had ably fulfilled his
mission, having watched the enemy's camp until the previous day, when
finding that they were about to move northward, he had set off to bring
us tidings of their approach.

He was, however, observed, and six of their fleetest runners had pursued
him.  Hour after hour he had continued his flight, though he confessed
that, had we not come to his assistance, he should, he believed, have
fallen even in sight of the fort.

That night was an anxious one.  Frequent alarms were raised that the
enemy were upon us.  At length the morning broke, and as the sun rose
above the eastern prairie his beams fell on the plumed heads and
trappings of several hundred warriors, who came on, confident in their
numbers, and believing that our small garrison would easily become their
prey.

They halted when considerably beyond range of our weapons, and having
sung a war-song, gave utterance to one of those terrible whoops which
are said to paralyse even horses and cattle.  Ponoko had in the
meantime, dressed himself in the costume in which he had been discovered
when lying wounded, and the gate being opened, he sallied forth with
feeble steps, very different from his once elastic tread.  The gates of
the fort were closed behind him, and he proceeded towards the warriors
drawn up in battle array.  We watched him as he approached them.  At
length he stopped and stretching out his arms, addressed his people.

The effect on his tribe of what he said was almost electrical.  They
looked upon him as one restored from the dead, for they had long mourned
him as lost.  We watched him until he was among them, when, after some
time, he reappeared, leading by the hand a person who, though dressed in
Indian costume, we saw was a white man.  Together they approached the
fort, when the gate was opened to receive them.

The stranger gazed round with looks of astonishment, evidently
endeavouring to find the words to express himself.  At last he said--

"I can scarcely believe my senses.  A few minutes ago I was a prisoner,
and threatened by the Indians with a cruel death should they again be
defeated."

"We are truly thankful that you have escaped," answered Uncle Donald,
advancing and taking his hand.

"You owe your preservation to our friend Ponoko here."

"I am indeed grateful to him," said the stranger.  "He preserved my life
when so many of my companions were massacred.  He has ever since
continued my protector, but when it was supposed that he was killed, his
people threatened to avenge his death by murdering me.  Grateful as I am
to him and to you, I am restored to liberty a ruined and a childless
man, while I know not what has become of my poor wife, who was
providentially absent from the settlement at the time of the massacre,
but will have supposed that I, as well as our little girl, shared the
common fate," answered Mr Kennedy, for such he told us was his name.

"Should your child have escaped, do you believe you would recognise
her?" asked Uncle Donald.

"Among a hundred!" answered the stranger.  "I should know her, however
much grown, from her likeness to her mother."

As he spoke my sisters and Rose approached.  The stranger glanced at the
group, then rushing forward, gazed earnestly into Rose's countenance.

"You would not deceive me!" he exclaimed.  "Say, how did this young girl
come to be with you?  Rose, do you recollect me?  Speak, my child, are
you not Rose Kennedy?"

"Kennedy!  Kennedy!" murmured Rose, looking greatly astonished and
somewhat frightened.  "Kennedy!  Yes, that was my papa's name."

"You are my own child!" he exclaimed, kissing her brow and cheeks again
and again while he held her in his arms.

The lookers-on were greatly moved.  It was some time, however, before
Rose could fully comprehend that the stranger was her father, and that
she belonged to him rather than to Uncle Donald.

Mr Kennedy now eagerly inquired whether we could give him any tidings
of his wife.

"Extraordinary as it may seem, I think I am able to do so," said my
father.  "On stopping at the Red River settlement on our way hither, I
met a Mrs Kennedy, whose husband and child had, I heard, been murdered
by the Indians."

I should like to prolong my history, but I must be brief.  Ponoko, after
remaining a day or two with us, went among his tribe, and persuaded them
that it would be to their advantage to live peaceably with their
neighbours.  Not many years after they entered into a treaty with the
Canadian Government, and the fearful state of warfare which for so long
a period had existed in that fair northern region almost entirely
ceased.

We were very, very sorry to lose Rose, but Mr Kennedy was, of course,
most anxious to join his wife.  As soon as he could travel he set off
for the Red River.  He promised to return and bring his wife and Rose
with him, having accepted an invitation from Uncle Donald to settle at
Clearwater.

In course of time, Hugh, Alec, and I established in its neighbourhood
several fairly flourishing farms, of one of which Hugh, with Rose as its
mistress, became the owner.  My father laboured for many years among the
heathen, greatly aided by Ponoko.

The entire country, including the Rocky Mountains over which we passed,
now forms part of the great Canadian dominion, and probably, before
another generation has passed away, the whole region, from east to west,
will be the home of happy and flourishing communities.

THE END.





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