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´╗┐Title: Rob Nixon - The Old White Trader - A Tale of Central British North America
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Language: English
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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 "Rob Nixon - The Old White Trader - A Tale of Central British North America" ***

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Rob Nixon, by W.H.G. Kingston.




Picture a wide, gently undulating expanse of land covered with tall
grass, over which, as it bends to the breeze, a gleam of light ever and
anon flashes brightly.  It is a rolling prairie in North America, midway
between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  On either hand the earth and
sky seem to unite, without an object to break the line of the horizon,
except in the far distance, where some tall trees, by a river's side,
shoot up out of the plain, but appear no higher than a garden hedge-row.
It is truly a wilderness, which no wise man would attempt to traverse
without a guide.

That man has wandered there, the remnants of mortality which lie
scattered about--a skull and the bare ribs seen as the wind blows the
grass aside,--afford melancholy evidence.  A nearer inspection shows a
rifle, now covered with rust, a powder-flask, a sheath-knife, a flint
and steel, and a few other metal articles of hunter's gear.  Those of
more destructible materials have disappeared before the ravenous jaws of
the hosts of locusts which have swept over the plain.  Few portions of
the earth's surface give a more complete idea of boundless extent than
the American prairie.  Not a sound is heard.  The silence itself is
awe-inspiring.  The snows of winter have lain thickly on that plain,
storms have swept over it, the rain has fallen, the lightning flashed,
the thunder roared, since it has been trodden by the foot of man.
Perhaps the last human being who has attempted to cross it was he whose
bones lie blanching in the summer sun--that sun which now, having some
time passed its meridian height, is sinking towards the west.

Southward appear, coming as it were from below the horizon, some dark
specks, scattered widely from east to west, and moving slowly.  On they
come, each instant increasing in numbers, till they form one dark line.
They are animals with huge heads and dark shaggy manes, browsing as they
advance, clearing the herbage before them.  They are a herd of bison,
known by the wild hunters of the west as buffaloes--countless apparently
in numbers--powerful and ferocious in appearance, with their short thick
horns and long heads.  Now they halt, as the richer pasturage entices;
now again advance.  A large number lie down to rest, while others,
moving out of the midst, seem to be acting as scouts to give notice of
the approach of danger.  They go on as before, darkening the whole
southern horizon.  The wind is from the west; the scouts lift up their
shaggy heads and sniff the air, but discover no danger.  From the east
another dark line rises quickly above the horizon: the ground shakes
with the tramp of horses.  It is a troop of huntsmen--savage warriors of
the desert.  What clothing they wear is of leather gaily adorned.  Some
have feathers in their heads, and their dark red skins painted
curiously.  Some carry bows richly ornamented: a few only are armed with
rifles.  A few, who, by their dress, the feathers and adornments of the
head, appear to be chiefs, ride a-head and keep the line in order.
Every man holds his weapon ready for instant use.  They advance
steadily, keeping an even line.  Their leader waves his rifle.
Instantly the steeds spring forward.  Like a whirlwind they dash on: no
want of energy now.  The huntsmen are among the bewildered herd before
their approach has been perceived.  Arrows fly in quick succession from
every bow--bullets from the rifles.  The huntsmen have filled their
mouths with the leaden messengers of death, and drop them into their
rifles as they gallop on, firing right and left--singling out the
fattest beasts at a glance--and never erring in their aim.  In a few
minutes the plain is thickly strewn with the huge carcasses of the
shaggy buffaloes, each huntsman, as he passes on, dropping some article
of his property by which he may know the beast he has killed.  Now the
herd begin to seek for safety in flight, still keeping in the direction
they had before been taking, some scattering, however, on each side.
The eager hunters pursue till the whole prairie, from right to left, is
covered with flying buffaloes and wild horsemen; the crack of the rifles
sounding distinctly through the calm summer air, in which the tiny
wreath of smoke ascends unbroken and marks the hunter's progress.

Among the huntsmen rides one distinguished from the rest by his more
complete, yet less ornamented clothing; by a leather cap without
feathers, and by the perfect order of his rifle and hunting

On a nearer inspection his skin--though tanned, and wrinkled, and
furrowed, by long exposure to the weather, and by age and toil--might be
discovered to have been of a much lighter hue originally than that of
his companions.  Old as he was, no one was more eager in the chase, and
no one's rifle brought down so great a number of buffaloes as did his.
To all appearance he was as active and strong as the youngest huntsman
of the band.  In the course of the hunt he had reached the extreme left
of the line.  A superb bull appeared before him.  "I'll have you for
your robe, if not for your meat, old fellow," exclaimed the hunter,
galloping on towards the animal's right flank, so as to turn him yet
further from the herd, and to obtain a more direct shot at his head or
at his shoulders.  There are occasions when the most practised of shots
will find himself at fault--the firmest nerves will fail.  The old
hunter had reached a satisfactory position--he raised his rifle, and
fired.  At that instant, while still at full speed, his horse's front
feet sunk into a hole made by a badger, or some other of the smaller
creatures inhabiting the prairie; and the animal, unable to recover
itself, threw the hunter violently forward over its head, where he lay
without moving, and apparently dead.  The horse struggled to free
itself; and then, as it fell forward, gave utterance to one of those
piercing cries of agony not often heard, and, when heard, not to be
forgotten.  Both fore legs were broken.  Its fate was certain.  It must
become the prey of the ravenous wolves, who speedily scent out the spots
where the hunters have overtaken a herd of buffaloes.  Meantime the
buffalo, who had been struck by the hunter's bullet, but not so wounded
as to bring him instantly to the ground, galloped on for some distance
in the direction he was before going, when, feeling the pain of his
wound, or hearing the cry of the horse, he turned round to face his
enemies.  Seeing both steed and rider prostrate, he tossed his head, and
then, lowering his horns close to the ground, prepared to charge.  The
last moments of the old hunter seemed approaching.  The cry of agony
uttered by his favourite steed roused him.  He looked up and saw the
buffalo about to make its charge.  His hand had never relaxed its grasp
of his rifle.  To feel for his powder-flask and to load was the work of
an instant; and, without an attempt to rise, he brought the muzzle of
his piece to bear on the furious animal as it was within a few paces of
him.  "Rob Nixon never feared man nor beast, and will not this time; let
an old bull bellow as loud as he may," he muttered, as he raised his
rifle and fired.  The bullet took effect, but did not stop the headlong
career of the enraged monster, which came on, ploughing up the ground,
towards him.  The hunter saw his danger and tried to rise, but in vain.
He then made a desperate endeavour to drag himself out of the way of the
creature.  He but partially succeeded, when the buffalo, sinking down,
rolled over and over, crushing, with his huge carcase, the already
injured legs and lower extremities of the unfortunate hunter.  In spite
of the pain he was enduring, the old man, raising himself on his elbow,
grimly, surveyed his conquered foe--"You've the worst of it, though you
nearly did for me, I own," he exclaimed, nodding his head; "but a miss
is as good as a mile, and when I'm free of you, maybe I'll sup off your

To liberate himself from the monster's carcase was, however, no easy
task, injured as he was already by his fall, and by the weight of the
buffalo pressing on him.  He made several attempts, but the pain was
very great, and he found that his strength was failing him.  While
resting, before making another attempt to move, he perceived his poor
horse, whose convulsive struggles showed how much he had been injured.
On looking round, also, he discovered that the accident had taken place
in a slight hollow, which, shallow as it was, shut him out from the view
of his companions, who were now pursuing the remainder of the herd at a
considerable distance from where he lay.  Again and again he tried to
drag his injured limbs from beneath the buffalo.  He had never given in
while consciousness remained, and many were the accidents which had
happened to him during his long hunter's life.  Would he give in now?
"No, not I," he muttered; "Rob Nixon is not the boy for that."  At
length, however, his spirit succumbed to bodily suffering, and he sank
back exhausted and fainting, scarcely conscious of what had happened, or
where he was.  Had he retained sufficient strength to fire his rifle he
might have done so, and summoned some of the hunters to his assistance;
but he was unable even to load it, so it lay useless by his side.  Thus
he remained; time passed by--no one approached him--the sun sank in the
horizon--darkness came on.  It appeared too probable that the fate of
many a hunter in that vast prairie would be his.  How long he had
remained in a state of stupor he could not tell; consciousness returned
at length, and, revived by the cool air of night, he sat up and gazed
about him.  The stars had come out and were shining brilliantly
overhead, enabling him to see to the extent of his limited horizon.  The
dead buffalo still pressed on his legs--a hideous nightmare; his horse
lay near giving vent to his agony in piteous groans, and every now and
then making an attempt to rise to his feet.  "My poor mustang, you are
in a bad way I fear," said the hunter, in a tone of commiseration,
forgetting his own sufferings; "I would put an end to thy misery, and so
render thee the only service in my power, but that I cannot turn myself
to load my rifle.  Alack! alack! we shall both of us ere long be food
for the wolves; but, though I must meet my fate as becomes a man, I
would save you--poor, dumb brute that you are--from being torn by their
ravenous fangs while life remains in you."  Such were the thoughts which
passed through the hunter's mind, for it can scarcely be said that he
spoke them aloud.

He would probably again have relapsed into a state of stupor, but that a
hideous howl, borne by the night breeze, reached his ears.  "Wolves!" he
exclaimed; "ah!  I know you, you brutes."  The howl was repeated again
and again, its increased loudness showing that the creatures were
approaching.  The well-known terrible sounds roused up the old hunter to
make renewed exertions to extricate himself.  This time, by dint of
dragging himself out with his arms, he succeeded in getting his feet
from under the buffalo; but he then discovered, to his dismay, that his
thigh had either been broken, or so severely sprained by his fall, that
to walk would be impossible.  He managed, however, to load his rifle.
Scarcely had he done so when the struggles of his horse reminded him of
the pain the poor animal was suffering.  Although he knew that every
charge of powder in his flask would be required for his own defence, he
did not hesitate in performing the act of mercy which the case required.
He uttered no sentimental speech, though a pang of grief passed through
his heart as he pointed the weapon at the horse's head.  His aim was
true, and the noble animal fell dead.  "He's gone; not long before me, I
guess," he muttered, as he reloaded his piece.  "Those brutes will find
me out, there is no doubt about that; but I'll have a fight first--Rob
Nixon will die game."  The old hunter drew a long knife from a sheath at
his side, and, deliberately examining its point, placed it on the ground
near him while he reloaded his rifle.  Thus did the old man prepare for
an inevitable and dreadful death, as he believed; yet not a prayer did
he offer up, not a thought did he cast at the future.  Eternity, heaven,
and hell, were matters unknown; or, if once known, long since forgotten.
Yet forgetfulness of a fact will not do away with it.  They are awful
realities, and will assuredly be found such, however much men may strive
to banish them from their thoughts.  The young especially are surprised
to hear that old men have forgotten what they learned in their youth,
that they neglect to pray, to read the Bible, to think about God and
their own souls; but let them be assured that if once they give up the
habit of praying, of studying God's holy Word, of obeying His commands,
there is one ever ready to persuade them that there is no harm in this
neglect; that it will save them much trouble; and that it is far more
manly to neglect prayers, to be irreligious and profane, than to love,
serve, and obey their Maker.  A downward course is sadly easy; let them
beware of taking the first step.  Each step they take in the wrong
direction they will find it more and more difficult to recover, till,
like the old huntsman, they will cease to care about the matter, and God
will no longer be in their thoughts.  There lay that old man on the wild
prairie, a melancholy spectacle,--not so much that he was surrounded by
dangers--that he was wounded and crippled--that wild beasts were near
him--that, if he escaped their fangs, starvation threatened him,--but
that he had no hope for the future--that he had no trust in God--that he
had not laid hold of the means of salvation.

As Rob Nixon lay on the ground supporting his head on his arm, he turned
his gaze round and round, peering into the darkness to watch for any
thing moving near him.  He knew that before the sun set his Indian
comrades would have carried off the flesh from the buffaloes they had
killed, and that after that they, would move their camp to a distance,
no one being likely to return.  He probably would not be missed for some
time, and when missed, it would be supposed that he had fallen into the
hands of the Salteux, or Ojibways, the hereditary enemies of their
nation, and that already his scalp had been carried off as a trophy by
those hated foes.  "They'll revenge me; that's one comfort, and the
Ojibways will get paid for what the wolves have done."  These were
nearly the last thoughts which passed through the brain of the old
hunter, as the howls and yelps of the wolves, which had formed a
dreadful concert at a distance around him, approached still nearer.  "I
guessed the vermin wouldn't be long in finding me out," he muttered;
and, on looking up, he saw through the darkness, glaring fiercely down
on him from the edge of the hollow in which he lay, the eyes of a pack
of wolves.  "I'll stop the howling of some of you," he exclaimed,
lifting his rifle.  There was no cry; but a gap in the circle of eyes
showed that a wolf had fallen, and instantly afterwards the loud barking
and yelping proved that the savage creatures were tearing their
companion to pieces.  This gave time to the old man to re-load and to
pick off another wolf.  In this manner he killed several, and though he
did not drive them away, they were prevented from approaching nearer.
On finding that such was the case, his hopes of escaping their fangs
rose slightly, at the same time that the lightness of his powder-flask
and bullet bag, told him that his ammunition would soon fail, and that
then he would have his hunting knife alone on which to depend.  He
accordingly waited, without again firing, watching his foes, who
continued howling and wrangling over the bodies of their fellows.  Now
and then one would descend a short way into the hollow, attracted by the
scent of the dead horse and buffalo, but a sudden shout from the old
hunter kept the intruders at a respectful distance.  He was well aware,
however, that should exhausted nature for one instant compel him to drop
asleep, the brutes would be upon him, and tear him limb from limb.  Thus
the hours of the night passed slowly along.  Many men would have
succumbed; but, hardened by a long life of danger and activity, Robert
Nixon held out bravely, in spite of the pain, and thirst, and hunger,
from which he was suffering.  Never for one moment was his eye off his
enemies, while his fingers were on the trigger ready to shoot the first
which might venture to approach.  More than once he muttered to himself,
"It must be near morning, and then these vermin will take themselves
off, and let me have some rest.  Ah, rest! that's the very thing I have
been wanting," he continued; "it's little enough I've ever had of it.
I've been working away all my life, and where's the good I've got out of
it?  There's been something wrong, I suppose; but I can't make it out.
Best!  Yes, that's it.  I should just like to find myself sitting in my
lodge among a people who don't care, like these Dakotahs, to be always
fighting or hunting: but they are not a bad people, and they've been
good friends to me, and I've no fault to find with their ways, though
I'll own they're more suited to young men than to an old one like me.
But there's little use my thinking this.  Maybe, I shall never see them
or any other of my fellow-creatures again."  It was only now and then
that his mind framed any thoughts as coherent as these; generally he
remained in a dreamy condition, only awake to the external objects
immediately surrounding him.  Gradually, too, his strength began to
fail, though he was not aware of the fact.  The howls, and barks, and
snarling, and other hideous sounds made by the wolves, increased.  He
could see them moving about in numbers, around the edge of the basin,
their red fiery eyes ever and anon glaring down on him.  At last they
seemed to be holding a consultation, and to have settled their disputes,
probably from not having longer a bone of contention unpicked among
them.  They were evidently, once more, about to make an attack on him.
A large brute, who had long been prowling round, first crept on,
gnashing his teeth.  The old man lifted his rifle and the creature, with
a loud cry, fell dead.  Another and another came on, and before he could
load, the foremost had got close up to him.  He fired at the animal's
head.  It rolled over, and, the flash of his rifle scaring the rest,
with hideous yelps, they took to flight, the old man firing after them
directly he could re-load.  He could scarcely believe that he was to
remain unmolested, and once more loading his rifle, he rested as before
on his arm, watching for their re-appearance.  Gradually, however,
exhausted nature gave way, and he sank down unconscious on the ground,
to sleep, it might be, the sleep of death.


The sun rose and shone forth brightly on the earth.  There was the sound
of winged creatures in Robert Nixon's ears as he once more awoke and
gazed languidly around.  His first impulse was to attempt to rise, but
the anguish he suffered the instant he moved reminded him of the
injuries he had received.  Vain were his efforts; to stand up was
impossible.  Although the wolves for the time were gone, they, to a
certainty, would return at night, and thus, without ammunition, how
could he defend himself against them?  He might subsist on the meat of
the buffalo for a day or two, but that would soon become uneatable, and
as he could scarcely hope to recover from his hurt for many days, even
if he escaped the wolves, he must die of starvation.  Again he sank into
a state of mental stupor, though his eye still remained cognisant of
external objects.  As the old hunter thus lay on the ground his eye fell
on a horseman riding rapidly by.  He was a Salteux, or Ojibway Indian, a
people having a deadly feud with his friends, the Sioux.  The sight
roused him.  To kill the man and capture his horse was the idea which at
once occurred to him.  Rousing himself by a violent exertion he levelled
his rifle and fired.  Not for an instant did he hesitate about taking
the life of a fellow-creature.  That fellow-creature was a foe of his
friends, whose badge he wore, and would, he believed, kill him if he was
discovered.  He had miscalculated his powers--his eye had grown dim, his
arm had lost its nerve; the bullet which once would have proved a sure
messenger of death flew wide of its mark, and the Indian sat his horse
unharmed.  He turned, however, immediately, and galloped towards the
spot whence the shot came.  The old hunter had expended his last bullet.
With grim satisfaction he awaited the Indian's approach, and the
expected flourish of the scalping-knife, or the kinder blow of the
tomahawk, which would deprive him at once of life.  "Better so than be
torn by the fangs of those vermin the wolves," he muttered, for though
he clutched his knife to strike back, he well knew that he was at the
mercy of his adversary.  The Indian, though a rifle hung at his back,
rode steadily up without unslinging it.  "A friend!" he shouted in the
Salteux, or Ojibway dialect,--"A friend! fire not again."

"A friend!  How so?" exclaimed the old hunter.  "Your people and mine
are mortal foes."

"I would be a friend to all the suffering and distressed," was the
unexpected answer.  "I see what has happened--you have fought bravely
for your life; the remains of the wolves tell me that, but before
another sun has risen you would have been torn limb from limb by their
fellows.  Truly I am thankful that I was sent to save you from death."

"Sent!  Who sent you?" cried the old hunter, gazing up at the strange
Indian.  The other having just dismounted from his horse stood looking
compassionately down on him.  "He who watches over the fatherless and
widows, and all who are distressed," answered the Indian.  "A generous
kind person I doubt not, but I know of none such in this land; he must
live far away from here," said the old hunter.  "He lives in Heaven, and
His eye is everywhere," said the Indian solemnly.  "He loves all
mankind; without His will not a sparrow falls to the ground; and I am
sure, therefore, that it was His will that I should come to you."

"Truly you speak strange words for a redskin!" exclaimed the hunter.  "I
have heard long ago white men talk as you, but never an Indian.  You are
one I see; there is no deceiving me.  I cannot understand the matter."

"I will tell you as we go along," said the Indian; "but we must no
longer delay, father; we have many miles to travel before we can reach
my people, and I know not how I can restore you to your friends.  It
would be dangerous for me to approach them, for they could not
understand how I can only wish them good."

"I will go with you, friend," said the old man.  "I would gladly dwell
with your people, and hear more of those strange matters of which you
have been speaking."

Without further exchange of words the Indian, having examined the old
man's hurts, gave him some dried meat and a draught from his
water-flask, and lifted him with the utmost care on his horse; he then
took the hunter's rifle and horse's trappings before moving off.  He
also secured the tongue and hump, and some slices from the buffalo's
back, which he hung to his saddle-bow.  "We may require more provision
than our own rifles can supply before we reach our journey's end," he
observed; as he did so, pointing to the north-east.  Robert Nixon
without hesitation yielded to all his suggestions.

The day was already considerably advanced, and the Indian seemed anxious
to push on.  Keeping up a rapid pace, he walked by the side of his
companion, who, overcome by weakness and want of sleep would have fallen
off, had not his strong arm held him on.  Thus they journeyed hour after
hour across the prairie.  The Indian from the first employed various
devices for rendering his trail invisible.  On starting he moved for
some distance westward, till he reached the bed of a small stream, on
which even the sharp eye of a native could scarcely perceive a trace;
then circling round, he commenced his intended course.  Many miles were
passed over; and the bank of a rapid river was reached, when the setting
sun warned him that it was time to encamp.  Instead, however, of doing
so, he at once led his horse into the stream, and keeping close to the
shore waded against the current, often having the water up to his waist,
for a considerable distance, then coming to a ford he crossed over and
continued along in the same direction till he once more returned to dry
ground.  The bank was fringed on each side by a belt of trees, which in
the warm weather of summer afforded ample shelter from the dew, and
concealment from any passing enemy.  The chief trees were poplar,
willow, and alder; but there were also spruce and birch.  Bound the
latter lay large sheets of the bark.  A quantity of these the Indian at
once collected, and with some thin poles which he cut with his hatchet
he rapidly constructed a small hut or wigwam, strewing the floor with
the young shoots of the spruce-fir.  On this couch he placed his injured
companion, putting his saddle under his head as a pillow.  He then
brought the old man some food and water, and next proceeded to examine
his hurts with more attention than he had before been able to bestow.
Bringing water from the river he fomented his bruises for a long time,
and then searching for some leaves of a plant possessed of healing
qualities, he bound them with strips of soft leather round his swollen
limbs.  More than once the old hunter expressed his surprise that a
stranger should care so much for him, and should actually feed and tend
him before he had himself partaken of food and rested.  "I serve a
loving Master, and I am but obeying His wishes," was the laconic answer.
"Very strange! very strange!" again and again muttered the old man;
"you must tell me something about that Master of yours.  I cannot
understand who he can be."

"I will not disappoint you, father, for I love to speak of Him," said
the Indian; "I will come anon and sit by your side and tell you what I
know.  It will interest you, I doubt not, and maybe you will wish to
know more about Him."  Some time passed, however, before the Indian was
able to fulfil his promise.  He had to tend his horse and to set some
traps to catch any small game which might pass, and to search for
certain roots and berries for food.  He showed, too, by all his
movements that he considered himself in an enemy's country, or in the
neighbourhood of an enemy from whom it was necessary to keep concealed.
When he came back the old man had fallen asleep.  "Let him sleep on,"
said the Indian to himself: "our Father in Heaven will watch over and
protect us both.  I would that I could watch, but my body requires
rest."  Having tethered his horse close at hand, strewed the ground with
a few spruce-fir tops, and placed his rifle by his side, he knelt down
and prayed, not as once to Manitou, to the Great Spirit, the unknown
God, but to the true God,--a God no longer feared as a worker of evil,
but beloved as the source of all good, of all blessings, spiritual and
temporal.  His prayer finished, he stretched himself on his couch, and
was in an instant asleep.

The silvery streaks of early dawn were just appearing in the eastern
sky--seen amid the foliage of the wood, when the Indian, impulsively
grasping his rifle, started to his feet.  His quick ear had caught, even
in his sleep, the sound of a distant shot.  It might be fired by a
friend, but very likely by a foe, and it behoved him to be on the alert.
The old hunter heard it also, but it did not awake him.  "Ah! they are
on us.  No matter, we'll fight for our lives," he muttered in his sleep.
"Hurrah, lads!  Rob Nixon will not yield--never while he's an arm to
strike."  He spoke in English, which the Indian seemed to understand,
though the observation he made was in his own language.  "Our own arms
will do little for us, father, unless we trust in Him who is
all-powerful to save."  His voice awoke the old man, who sat up and
looked around from out of his hut.  Seeing the Indian in the attitude of
listening, he at once comprehended the state of matters.  "Few or many
I'll stand by you, friend Redskin," he exclaimed, apparently forgetting
his helpless condition; "load my rifle, and hand it to me.  If foes are
coming, they shall learn that Rob Nixon has not lost the use of his arms
and eyes, whatever he may have of his legs."

"I doubt not your readiness to fight, father," said the Indian,
addressing the old man thus to show his respect for age; "but we may
hope to avoid the necessity of having to defend ourselves.  Friends and
not foes may be near us, or we may escape discovery; or, what is better
still, we may overcome the enmity of those who approach us with bad

"Your talk is again strange, as it was yesterday," answered the hunter;
"I know not what you mean by overcoming enmity.  There is only one way
that I have ever found answer both with pale-faces and redskins, and
that is by killing your enemy."

"Try what kindness will do, father.  Love is the law of the true God,"
said the Indian; "but we will anon talk of these things.  I will go
forth and learn what the shot we heard just now means."

"Load my rifle, and give it me first, I pray you," said the white
hunter; "I have great faith in my old way of doing things, and am not
likely to change."  The Indian loaded the rifle and handed it to him,
and without saying a word more set off through the wood, and was soon
out of sight.  Rob Nixon lay still, with his rifle resting across his
body, ready to fire should an enemy appear.  Over and over again he
muttered: "Strange! strange! that a redskin should talk so.  I cannot
make it out."  Several minutes passed by, and the Indian did not return.
The old man grew more anxious than he would have acknowledged to
himself.  He had some natural feeling on his own account should his new
friend have been cut off, but he was also anxious for that new friend,
to whom he could not but be grateful for the service he had rendered
him.  At length he saw the bushes move, and the Indian appeared and
crept close up to him.  "There are foes, and many of them," he said in a
low voice; "they are near at hand, but they are not seeking for us; and
thus, if they do not cross our trail, we may yet escape discovery."

The Indian had already concealed his horse in a thicket, and, by
carefully surrounding the spot where they lay with boughs, their little
camp was completely hidden from the sight of any casual passer-by.  The
boughs he had cut from the interior part of a thicket, for, had they
been taken from the outer side, the eye of an Indian would at once have
observed the white stumps which were left.  Again, by crossing the river
in the mode they had done, there was no trail to lead to their camp.
For these reasons the Indian and the white hunter had good cause to
believe that they might escape discovery.  As their enemies were as yet
at some distance it was not deemed necessary to keep altogether silent.
The old hunter was the most loquacious.  "I would, friend Redskin," said
he, "that I had the use of my legs and half a dozen of my old companions
at my back, and I wouldn't fear as to holding my own against three-score
or more of Crees, or Ojibways; no offence to you, friend; for there are
not many like you, I guess."

"Your people fight bravely but foolishly, according to Indian notions,"
answered the Indian; "for, instead of advancing on their foes under
shelter and trying to take them unawares, they dress themselves in fine
clothes, make a great noise when going forth to battle, and expose their
bodies to be shot at.  I was once esteemed a mighty warrior, and was a
man of blood; I have engaged in much fighting, but would now wish to
bury the hatchet of war with all the world.  I thank you for what you
say of me; but things of which I once boasted, I boast of no longer.  I
am a chief of many people; but instead, as at one time, of wishing to
lead them to war, I now desire to lead them to a knowledge of the Lord
and Master whom I serve--the Saviour of the world."

"Every man to his taste, friend Redskin," said the old hunter; "when I
was a young man like you I could not have fighting or hunting enough.
Now, I own, I am growing somewhat weary of the work; and, if we get to
the end of this journey with our scalps on, maybe I'll settle down with
your people."

It may seem strange that the old man could not comprehend what was the
meaning of the Indian when he spoke thus.  If he had a glimmering of the
truth, he turned away from it.  Many do the same.  Felix has numberless
imitators.  Both the Indian and Rob Nixon were silent for some minutes,
attentively listening for the approach of the strangers.  Not a sound,
however, being heard, they began to hope that their enemies had gone a
different way.  "There'll be no fighting this time, I guess, friend
Redskin," said the old man.  "It's all the better, too, considering that
you don't seem much inclined for it; and I'm not in the best trim for
work of that sort, or any work, truth to say."

Rob Nixon had remarked that the Indian had winced more than once when
addressed as Redskin, which was certainly not a respectful or
complimentary mode of addressing him.  The reason of this became still
more evident when he spoke of himself as a chief.  Chiefs in general
would not for an instant have suffered such familiarity.  Rob Nixon saw
that it was time to apologise.  He did so in his own way.  "I say,
friend, I've just a thing to ask you.  You've a name, I doubt not,
showing forth some of the brave deeds you have done, the enemies you
have slain, the miles you have run, the rivers you have swam across, the
bears you have captured, or the beavers you have trapped.  Tell me, what
is it? for I've a notion the one I've been giving you is not altogether
the right or a pleasant one."  The Indian smiled as he answered quietly,
"The name I bear, and the only one by which I desire to be called, is
Peter.  It was given me, not for killing men or slaughtering beasts, but
at my baptism, when I was received into the Church of Christ, and
undertook to love, honour, serve, and obey Him in all things as my Lord
and Master."

"Peter!  Peter! that's a strange name for an Injun," said the white
hunter half to himself.  "Why, that's such a name as they give in the
old country to a Christian."

"And I, too, am a Christian, though an unworthy one, father," answered
the Indian humbly.  "Never heard before of a Christian Injun!" exclaimed
the old man bluntly; "but strange things happen I'll allow.  I don't
doubt your word; mind that, friend.  It was strange that when you saw I
was a friend of the Dakotahs you didn't scalp me, without asking
questions, and leave me to be eaten by wolves.  That's the true Injun
way.  It was strange that you should take me up, put me on your horse,
walk yourself all these miles, with some hundreds more before you, and
risk your own life to save mine.  All that is strange, I say; and so,
friend, I don't know what other strange things may happen.  Well, if so
you wish, I'll call you Peter; but I'd rather by far call you by your
Injun name.  It was a good one, I'll warrant.  Come, tell it now.  You
need not be ashamed of it."

"In the sight of man I am not ashamed of it, for by most of my people I
am called by it still; but in the sight of God I am ashamed of it, and
still more am I ashamed of the deeds which gained it for me.  How, think
you, blood-stained and guilty as I was, could I stand in the presence of
One pure, holy, loving, and merciful?  I tell you, aged friend, neither
you nor I, nor any man, could appear before God without fear and
trembling, if it were not that He is a God of love, and that through His
great love for us, His creatures, whom He has placed on the world, He
sent His only Son, that all who believe in Him should not perish, but
have eternal life."

The young Christian Indian warmed as he went on in his discourse, which
was intermingled with many beautiful illustrations and figures of
speech, which it would be vain to attempt to translate.  Gradually he
thus unfolded the fundamental truths of the Gospel.  The old white
hunter listened, and even listened attentively, but, far from warming,
seemed scarcely to comprehend what was said.  "Strange! very strange!"
he muttered frequently; "and that an Injun should talk thus.  Forty
years have I lived among the redskins, and never believed that they knew
more than their fathers."  Peter,--as he desired to be called, though
his heathen name was Aronhiakeura, or otherwise the Fiery Arrow, from
the rapidity of his onslaught and the devastation he caused,--now stated
his belief that they might venture to proceed without the likelihood of
being molested.  Scarcely, however, had he emerged from their leafy
cover when another shot was fired close to them; and, before he could
again seek concealment, three fully armed Dakotahs appeared directly in
front of him.  The Dakotahs instantly rushed behind the trees, to serve
as shields should he fire, but he held up his hands to show that he was
unarmed, and in a low voice entreated his companion to remain quiet.
That resistance would be hopeless was evident by the appearance directly
afterwards of a dozen or more Indians, who were seen flitting amidst the
wood, each man obtaining the best shelter in his power.  Peter stood
fully exposed to view, without flinching or even contemplating
concealing himself.  Fearless behaviour is sure to obtain the admiration
of Indians.  Naturally suspicious they possibly supposed that he had a
strong force concealed somewhere near at hand, and that they had
themselves fallen into an ambush.  Had they found and followed up his
trail they would have discovered exactly the state of the case.  That he
had a wounded companion would not have escaped their notice, and that he
had but one horse, and travelled slowly would also have been known to
them.  By his having crossed the stream, however, and come along its bed
for some distance they were at fault in this respect.  Peter kept his
post without flinching; he well knew that the Dakotahs were watching
him; indeed, here and there he could distinguish the eye of a
red-skinned warrior glimmering, or the top of a plume waving among the
trunks of the trees or brushwood.  All the time Rob Nixon on his part
was watching his preserver with intense anxiety.  He had conceived a
warm regard for him, and, knowing the treachery so often exhibited by
the natives, trembled for his safety.  Peter at length waved his hand to
show that he was about to speak; "What seek you, friends?" he said in a
calm tone; "I am a man of peace, I desire to be friends with all men,
and to injure no one; moreover, I would that you and all men had the
wisdom and enjoyed the happiness which I possess.  See, I cannot harm
you;" as he spoke he raised up both his hands high in the air.  The
Dakotahs, totally unaccustomed to an address of this description, were
greatly astonished.  Their chief, not to be undone in fearlessness,
stepped from behind his covert, completely exposing himself to view.
"Who are you, friend? and whence do you come?" he asked; "you cannot be
what you seem?"

"I am a man like yourself, friend, and I am truly what I seem--a native
of this land, and of a tribe unhappily constantly at enmity with yours,"
answered Peter firmly; "but know, O chief, that I differ from many of my
people; that I love you and your people, and all mankind.  Will you
listen to the reason of this?  Let your people appear, there is no
treachery intended them; I am in your power--why doubt my word?"  One by
one the Dakotahs crept from behind the trees which had concealed them,
and a considerable number assembled in front of the Indian, who spoke to
them of the Gospel of love, and of the glorious scheme of redemption.
They listened attentively; most of them with mute astonishment.  Now and
then one of the chief men would give way to his feelings by a sound
signifying either approbation or dissent, but not a remark was uttered
till the speaker ceased.  For a time all were silent, then with gravity
and deliberation one of the chiefs waved his hand and observed, "These
are strange words the man speaks--he must be a great medicine man."

"Truly he has the wisdom of the white-faces," said a second; "has he
their treachery?  Can he be trusted?"

"The things he says may be true, but they concern not us," remarked a
third.  "Wisdom is wisdom whoever speaks it," said a grave old warrior
who had shown himself as active in his movements as the youngest of his
companions.  "What the stranger tells us of must be good for one man, as
for another.  Rest is good for the weary; who among my brothers, too,
would not rather serve a powerful and kind chief than an inferior and
merciless one.  He tells us of rest for the weary; of a great and good
chief, who can give us all things to make us happy,--I like his
discourse, my brothers."  The last speaker seemed to be carrying several
with him, when another started up exclaiming, "What the stranger says
comes from the pale-faces--it may be false; there must be some
treacherous design in it.  Let us rather dance this night the
scalp-dance round his scalp than listen to his crafty tales.  See, I
fear him not."  The savage as he spoke lifted his rifle and was about to
fire it at Peter, when the rest drew him back, crying out, "He is a
medicine man--a great medicine man, and may work us ill; interfere not
with him; though we do not listen to his counsel, let him go free.  Even
now, while we are speaking, we know not what injury he may be preparing
to do us!"  Thus the discussion went on for a considerable time, Peter
waiting patiently for its result.  Although the speakers had retired
rather too far off for him to hear all that was said, he gathered
sufficient to know the tenor of the discussion; still, no fear entered
his bosom, he knew that his life was in the hand of One mighty to save.
While he stood waiting the result he prayed for himself certainly, but
yet more earnestly that the truth might be brought home to the dark
hearts of his countrymen.

North American Indians are deliberate in their councils.  Peter knew
that his fate would not be decided quickly; but neither by word, look,
nor action, did he show the slightest impatience.  The old white hunter,
meantime, had made up his mind to risk everything rather than allow any
injury, which he could avert, to happen to his new friend.  That they
would recognise him he had no doubt; and the fact that he was found in
company with a member of a hostile tribe would be considered so
suspicious, that they would possibly put him to death without stopping
to ask questions.  However, should Peter be killed or made prisoner by
the Dakotahs, he would be left to perish; so that he felt, indeed, that
his fate depended on that of his friend.  From where he lay he could see
amid the branches the Indians holding their council.  His trusty rifle
was by his side, and noiselessly he brought it to cover their principal
chief.  His purpose was to fire at the first hostile movement, hoping
that on the fall of their leader the Indians, fancying that they had got
into a trap, would take to flight.  At length the Dakotahs' leader
advanced a few steps.  He little thought that the lifting his hand with
a menacing gesture might cost him his life.  "Stranger, with you we
would gladly smoke the pipe of peace," he began; "but your ways are not
our ways, or your notions our notions--we have nothing in common.  Go as
you came, we wish to have no communication with you.  We desire not to
desert our fathers' ways as you have done; yet, undoubtedly, the Spirit
you serve will protect you--go--go--go."  In vain Peter entreated the
savages to hear him once again, assuring them that he would tell them
only what was for their good.  One by one they quitted the spot where
the council had been held; the first walked off with becoming dignity,
but as more departed, the pace of each in succession increased, till the
last scampered off almost as fast as his legs would carry him, fearful
lest he should be overtaken by the strange medicine man, whose supposed
incantations he dreaded.  Peter was less astonished than a white man
would have been at the behaviour of his countrymen.  Still, he had
gained an unexpected triumph.  The Dakotahs did not stop, even to look
behind them, but continued their course towards the west, through the
wood and across the prairie, till they were lost to sight in the
distance.  The old hunter, to his surprise, saw Peter fall on his knees,
on the spot where he had been standing, to return thanks to Heaven for
his deliverance from a danger, far greater than it might appear to those
unacquainted with Indian customs; for seldom or never do two parties of
the Dakotahs and Ojibways encounter each other, without the stronger
endeavouring to destroy the weaker with the most remorseless cruelty.
Mercy is never asked for nor expected.  The scalping-knife is employed
on the yet living victim, should the tomahawk have left its work


"Well, you are a wonderful man, friend Peter," exclaimed Robert Nixon,
when the Indian returned to him and narrated what had occurred; "I never
yet have seen the like of it."

"The reason is simply this, father, most men trust to their own strength
and wisdom, and fail.  I go forth in the strength of One all-powerful,
and seek for guidance from One all-wise," answered the Indian humbly.
"It is thus I succeed."

"That's curious what you say, friend Redskin," answered the old man in a
puzzled tone; "it's beyond my understanding, that's a fact."

"The time will come shortly, I hope, father, when you will see the truth
of what I say.  But we must no longer delay here, we should be moving
on."  The mustang was caught and saddled, the old hunter placed on it,
and once more the two travellers were on their way eastward, or rather
to the north-east, for that was the general direction of their course.
They were compelled, however, to diverge considerably, in order to keep
along the course of streams, where many important advantages could be
obtained: water, wood for firing, shelter, and a greater supply of game.
On the open prairie there was no want of deer of several descriptions,
and of small animals, like rabbits or hares; but, unless by leaving the
horse with his burthen, the Indian could seldom get near enough to shoot
them.  For some distance the open country was of a sterile and arid
description, but as they got farther away from the United States border
it greatly improved, and a well-watered region, with rich grass and
vetches, was entered, which extended north, and east, and west, in every
direction, capable of supporting hundreds and thousands of flocks and
herds, for the use of man, although now roamed over only by a
comparatively few wild buffalo, deer, and wolves, and bears.  Although
they were in British territory, the arm of British law did not extend
over this wild region, and Peter, therefore, kept a constant look-out to
ascertain that no lurking enemies were near at hand.  When he camped at
night, also, he selected the most sheltered spot he could find, and
concealed his companion and himself amid some thicket or rock, where any
casual passer-by would not be likely to discover them.

"At first, as Peter watched his companion, he thought that he would
scarcely reach a place of safety where he might die in peace among
civilised men, but gradually the old hunter's strength returned, and
each day, as he travelled on, his health seemed to improve.  He also
became more inclined to talk; not only to ask questions, but to speak of
himself.  Religious subjects, however, he avoided as much as possible;
indeed, to human judgment, his mind appeared too darkened, and his heart
too hardened, to enable him to comprehend even the simplest truths.
"You'd like to know something about me, friend Redskin, I've no doubt,"
said the old man to Peter, when one day he had got into a more than
usually loquacious mood.  "It's strange, but it's a fact, I've a desire
to talk about my early days, and yet, for forty years or more, maybe,
I've never thought of them, much less spoken about them.  I was raised
in the old country--that's where most of the pale-faces you see
hereabouts came from.  My father employed a great many men, and so I may
say he was a chief; he was a farmer of the old style, and hated anything
new.  He didn't hold education in any great esteem, and so he took no
pains to give me any, and one thing I may say, I took no pains to obtain
it.  My mother, of that I am certain, was a kind, good woman, and did
her best to instruct me.  She taught me to sing little songs, and night
and morning made me kneel down, with my hands put together, and say over
some words which I then though! very good--and I am sure they were, as
she taught me them; but I have long, long ago forgotten what they were.
She also used to take me with her to a large, large house, where there
were a great number of people singing and often talking together; and
then there was one man in a black dress, who got up in a high place in
the middle, and had all the talk to himself for a long time, I used to
think; but I didn't mind that, as I used generally to go to sleep when
he began, and only woke up when he had done.

"I was very happy whenever I was with my mother, but I didn't see her
for some days, and then they took me into the room where she slept, and
there I saw her lying on a bed; but she didn't speak me, she didn't even
look at me, for her eyes were closed, and her cheek was cold--very cold.
I didn't know then what had happened, though I cried very much.  I
never saw her again.  From that time I began to be very miserable; I
don't know why; I think it was not having my mother to go to and talk
to.  After that I don't know exactly what happened to me; for some time
I got scolded, and kicked, and beaten, and then I was sent to a place
where there were a good many other boys; and, thinks I to myself, I
shall be happier here; but instead of that I was much more beaten and
scolded, till I got a feeling that I didn't care what I did, or what
became of me.  That feeling never left me.  I was always ready to do
anything proposed by other boys, such as robbing orchards, or playing
all sorts of pranks.  I now and then went home to see my father; but I
remember very little about him, except that he was a stout man, with a
ruddy countenance.  If he did not scold me and beat me, he certainly did
not say much to me; I never felt towards him as I had done towards my
mother.  I must have been a biggish boy, though I was still nearly at
the bottom of the school, when another lad and I got into some scrape,
and were to be flogged.  He proposed that we should run away, and I at
once agreed, without considering where we should run to, or what we
should gain by our run.  There is a saying among the pale-faces, `out of
the frying pan into the fire.'  We soon found that we had got into a
very hot fire.  After many days' running, sleeping under hedges and in
barns, and living on turnips and crusts of bread, which we bought with
the few pence we had in our pockets, we reached a sea-port town.  Seeing
a large ship about to sail, we agreed that we would be sailors, if any
one would take us.  We were very hungry and hadn't a coin left to buy
food, so aboard we went.  The ship was just sailing,--the cook's boy had
run away and the captain's cabin boy had just died,--and so we were
shipped, without a question being asked, to take their places.  They
didn't inquire our names, but called us Bill and Tom, which were the
names of the other boys.  The captain took me into his service, and
called me Bill, and my companion, who fell to the cook, was called Tom.
I don't know which was the most miserable.  Tom had the dirtiest and
hardest work, and was not only the cook's but everybody else's servant.
I received the most kicks and thrashings, and had the largest amount of
oaths and curses showered down on my head.  We were both of us very ill,
but our masters didn't care for that, and kicked us up to work whenever
they found us lying down.  Away we sailed; we thought that we should
never come to land again.  I didn't know where we were going, but I
found we were steering towards the south and west.  Week after week I
saw a wild, high headland on our right hand, and then we had mist, and
snow, and heavy weather, and were well nigh driven back; but at last we
were steering north, and the weather became fine and pleasant.  The ship
put into many strange ports; some were in this big country of America,
and some were in islands, so we heard; but neither Tom nor I was ever
for one moment allowed to set foot on shore.

"Often and often did we bitterly repent our folly, and wish ourselves
back home; but wishing was of no use.  We found that we were slaves
without the possibility of escape.  Tom, who had more learning by a
great deal than I had, said one day that he would go and appeal to the
Consul,--I think he was called, a British officer at the port where we
lay,--when the mate, who heard him, laughed, and told him, with an oath,
that he might go and complain to whomsoever he liked; but that both he
and Bill had signed papers, and had no power to get away.  By this Tom
knew that if we complained the captain would produce the papers signed
by the other boys, and that we should be supposed to be them, and have
no remedy.  Tom then proposed that we should play all sorts of pranks,
and behave as badly as we could.  We tried the experiment, but we soon
found that we had made a mistake; for our masters beat and starved us
till we were glad to promise not again to do the same.  Our only hope
was that we should some day get a chance of running away; and, if it
hadn't been for that, we should, I believe, have jumped overboard and
drowned ourselves.  Month after month passed by, the ship continued
trading from port to port in the Pacific Ocean,--as the big lake you've
heard speak of, friend Redskin, is called,--over to the west there; but
the chance we looked for never came.  We then hoped that the ship would
be cast away, and that so we might be free of our tyrants.  If all had
been drowned but ourselves we shouldn't have cared.  At last, after we'd
been away three years or more, we heard that the ship was going home.
We didn't conceal our pleasure.  It didn't last long.  Another captain
came on board one day.  I heard our captain observe to him, `You shall
have them both a bargain.  Thrash them well, and I'll warrant you'll get
work out of them.'  I didn't know what he meant at the time.  In the
evening, when the strange captain's boat was called away, Tom and I were
ordered to get up our bags and jump in.  We refused, and said we wanted
to go home.  We had better have kept silence.  Down came a shower of
blows on our shoulders, and, amid the jeers and laughter of our
shipmates, we were forced into the boat.  We found ourselves aboard a
whaler just come out, with the prospect of remaining in those parts
three years at least.  You've heard speak, Peter, of the mighty fish of
the big lake.  The largest sturgeon you ever set eyes on is nothing to
them--just a chipmunk to a buffalo.  We had harder and dirtier work now
than before--catching, cutting out, and boiling down the huge whales--
and our masters were still more cruel and brutal.  We were beaten and
knocked about worse than ever, and often well nigh starved by having our
rations taken from us.  How we managed to live through that time I don't
know.  I scarcely like to think of it.  The ship sailed about in every
direction; sometimes where the sun was so hot that we could scarce bear
our clothes on our backs, and sometimes amid floating mountains of ice,
with snow and sleet beating down on us.  At last, when we had got our
ship nearly full of oil, and it was said that we should soon go home, we
put into a port, on the west coast of this continent, to obtain fresh
provisions.  There were a few white people settled there, but most of
the inhabitants were redskins.  The white men had farms, ranchos they
were called, and the natives worked for them.

"Tom and I agreed that, as the ship was soon going home, the captain
would probably try to play off the same trick on us that our first
captain had done, and so we determined to be beforehand with him.  We
were now big, strongish fellows; not as strong as we might have been if
we had been better fed and less knocked about; but still we thought that
we could take good care of ourselves.  We hadn't much sense though, or
knowledge of what people on shore do; for how should we, when you see
that since the day we left our native country, when we were little
ignorant chaps, we hadn't once set our feet on dry land.  Tom swore, and
so did I, that if we once did reach the shore, we'd get away as far from
the ocean as we could, and never again smell a breath of it as long as
we lived.  How to get there was the difficulty.  We had always before
been watched; and so, to throw our shipmates off their guard, we
pretended to think of nothing but about going home, and our talk was all
of what we would do when we got back to old England.  We said that we
were very much afraid of the savages on shore, and wondered any one
could like to go among them.  After a time, we found that we were no
longer watched as we used to be.  This gave us confidence.  The next
thing was to arrange how we were to get on shore.  We neither of us
could swim; and, besides, the distance was considerable, and there were
sharks--fish which can bite a man's leg off as easily as a white fish
bites a worm in two.  We observed that, in the cool of the evening, some
boats and canoes used to pull round the ship, and sometimes came
alongside to offer things for sale to the men.  Tom and I agreed that if
we could jump into one of them while the owner was on board, we might
get off without being discovered.  Night after night we waited, till our
hearts sunk within us, thinking we should never succeed; but, the very
night before the ship was to sail, several people came below, and, while
they were chaffering with the men, Tom and I slipped up on deck.  My
heart seemed ready to jump out of my skin with anxiety as I looked over
the side.  There, under the fore-chains, was a canoe with a few things
in her, but no person.  I glanced round.  The second mate was the only
man on deck besides Tom, who had gone over to the other side.  I
beckoned to Tom.  The mate had his back to us, being busily engaged in
some work or other, over which he was bending.  Tom sprang over to me,
and together we slid down into the canoe.  The ship swung with her head
towards the shore, or the mate would have seen us.  We pulled as for our
lives; not, however, for the usual landing-place, but for a little bay
on one side, where it appeared that we could easily get on shore.  Every
moment we expected to see a boat put off from the ship to pursue us, or
a gun fired; but the sun had set, and it was growing darker and darker,
and that gave us some hope.  Still we could be seen clearly enough from
the ship if anybody was looking for us.  The mate had a pair of sharp
eyes.  `He'll flay us alive if he catches us,' said I.  `Never,'
answered Tom, in a low tone; `I'll jump overboard and be drowned
whenever I see a boat make chase after us.'  `Don't do that, Tom,' said
I; `hold on to the last.  They can but kill us in the end, and we don't
know what may happen to give us a chance of escape.'  You see, friend
Peter, that has been my maxim ever since, and I've learned to know for
certain that that is the right thing.

"Well, before long we did see a boat leave the ship.  It was too dark to
learn who had gone over the side into her.  We pulled for dear life for
a few seconds, when Tom cried out that he knew we should be taken.  I
told him to lie down in the bottom of the canoe, and that if the ship's
boat came near us I would strip off my shirt and pretend to be an Injun.
At first he wouldn't consent; but, as the boat came on, some muskets
were fired, and suddenly he said he'd do as I proposed, and he lay down,
and I stripped off my shirt and smoothed down, my hair, which was as
long as an Injun's.  On came the boat; I pulled coolly on as if in no
way concerned.  The boat came on--she neared us.  Now or never, I
thought; so I sang out, in a feigned voice, and pointed with my paddle
towards the other side of the harbour.  I don't think I ever felt as I
did at that moment.  Did they know me? or should I deceive them?  If the
mate was there I knew that we should have no chance.  The people in the
boat ceased pulling.  I didn't move either, though the canoe, with the
last stroke I had given, slid on.  Again I pointed with my paddle, gave
a flourish with it, and away I went as if I had no business with them.
I could not understand how I had so easily deceived my shipmates, and
every instant I expected them to be after us.  At last we lost sight of
them in the gloom; but Tom, even then, was unwilling to get up and take
his paddle.  I told him that, if he didn't, we should have a greater
chance of being caught.  The moment I said that, up he jumped, and
paddled away so hard that I could scarcely keep the canoe in the right
course for the place where we wanted to land.  The stars helped us with
their light; and, as we got close in with the shore, we found the mouth
of a stream.

"Though we had so longed to get on shore we felt afraid to land, not
knowing what we should do with ourselves.  The shore looked so strange,
and we expected to see all sorts of wild animals and snakes which we had
heard talk of.  Tom was the most timid, `It was bad aboard, Bill,' said
he, `but if we was to meet a bear or a buffalo what what should we do?'
I couldn't just answer him; but when we found the river we agreed that
we would pull up it as far as we could go, and it would carry us some
way into the country at all events.  We little knew the size of this
mighty land, or of the big, long, long rivers running for hundreds of
miles through it.  This America of yours is a wonderful country, friend
Redskin, if you did but know it.  Well, up the river we pulled for some
miles; it was but a mere brook, you'll understand, but we thought it a
great river.  It was silent enough, for there were no habitations except
a few native wigwams.  We had all the night before us, that was one
thing in our favour.  As on we went we heard a roaring, splashing noise,
which increased.  `Hillo! here's a heavy sea got up; I see it
right-a-head,' cried Tom.  `We must go through it, however,' said I; and
so I tried to paddle the canoe through it.  We very nearly got swamped;
it was, you see, a waterfall and rapid, and higher up even our canoe
could not have floated.  We now agreed that go on shore we must, like it
or not; I stepped out first, and then helped Tom, or in his fright he
would have capsized the canoe.  There we were both of us on firm ground
for the first time since, as little boys, we left old England.  I did
feel strange, and when I tried to walk, I could scarcely get along.

"Tom rolled about as if he was drunk, hardly able to keep his feet.  The
rough ground hurt us, and we were every instant knocking our toes and
shins against stumps and fallen branches.  We both of us sat down ready
to cry.  `How shall we ever get along?' asked Tom.  `We shall get
accustomed to it,' I answered; `but it does make me feel very queer.'
We found a good supply of provisions in the canoe, and we loaded
ourselves with as much as we could carry, and we then had the sense to
lift our canoe out of the water, and to carry her some way till we found
a thick bush in which we hid her.  `If they find out we got away in the
canoe they'll think we are drowned, and not take the trouble to look for
us,' observed Tom, as we turned our backs on the spot.  We were pretty
heavily laden, for we didn't know where we might next find any food; and
as we walked on we hurt our feet more and more, till Tom roared out with
pain, and declared he would go no further.  `Then we shall be caught and
flayed alive, that's all, Tom,' said I.  `But let us see if we can't
mend matters; here, let us cut off the sleeves of our jackets and bind
them round our feet.'  We did so, and when we again set off we found
that we could walk much better than before.  We hadn't been so many
years at sea without learning how go steer by the stars.  What we wanted
was to get to the east; as far from the sea and our hated ship as
possible: that one thought urged us on.  Through brushwood which tore
our scanty clothes to shreds, and over rough rocks which wounded our
feet, and across marshes and streams which wetted us well nigh from head
to foot, we pushed our way for some hours--it seemed to us the whole
night--till we got into an Indian track.  We didn't know what it was at
the time, but found it was an easy path, so we followed it up at full
speed.  On we ran; we found that it led in the right direction, and
that's all we thought of.  Unaccustomed to running or walking as we
were, it seems surprising how we should have held out; but the truth is
it was fear helped us along, and a burning desire to be free.

"Daylight found us struggling up a high hill or ridge, rather running
north and south; we reached the top just as the sun rose above a line of
lofty and distant mountains.  We turned round for a moment to look on
the far-off blue waters which lay stretched out below us, and on which
we had spent so large a portion of our existence.  `I've had enough of
it,' cried Tom, fiercely shaking his fist; and then we turned along
again, and rushed down the ridge towards the east.  It was the last
glimpse I ever had of the wide ocean.  Still we did not consider
ourselves safe.  We should have liked to have put a dozen such ridges
between our tyrants and ourselves.  On we went again till at last our
exhausted strength failed, and we stopped to take some food.  Once
having sat down it was no easy matter to get up again, and before we
knew what was happening we were both fast asleep.  We must have slept a
good many hours, and I dreamed during that time that the mate, and cook,
and a dozen seamen were following us with flensing-knives, and
handspikes, and knotted ropes, shrieking and shouting at our heels.  We
ran, and ran for our lives, just as we had been running all night, but
they were always close behind us.  The mate--oh! how I dreaded him--had
his hand on my shoulder, and was giving a growl of satisfaction at
having caught me, when I awoke; and, looking up, saw not the mate, but
the most terrible-looking being I had ever set eyes on, so I thought.

"I had, to be sure, seen plenty of savages who came off to the ship from
the islands at which we used to touch, but they were none of them so
fierce as he looked.  I won't describe him, because he was simply a
redskin warrior in his war paint and feathers.  It was his hand that was
on my shoulder; his grunt of surprise at finding us awoke me.  I cried
out, and Tom and I jumped to our feet and tried to run away; a dozen
Indians however surrounded us, and escape was impossible.  `Let us put a
bold face on the matter, Tom,' I sang out; `I don't think they mean to
kill us.'  Our captors talked a little together and they seemed pleased
with the way we looked at them, for they showed us by signs that they
meant us no evil.  They were a portion of a war party on their way to
destroy the pale-face settlement on the coast.  They guessed by our
dress and looks, and from our clothes being torn, that we were runaway
English seamen; and, knowing that we should not wish to go back to our
ship, considered that we should prove of more value to them alive than
our scalps would be if they took them.  We understood them to say that
they wanted us to go with them to attack their enemies, but we showed
them by our feet that we could not walk a step, and as they were not
ill-tempered people they did not insist on it.  After a talk they lifted
us up--two taking Tom, and two me between them--and carried us along at
a quick rate for some miles to their camp; there we saw a large number
of Indians collected, some armed with bows, and some few with fire-arms.

"There were a few women, in whose charge we were placed.  We could not
make out whether we were considered prisoners or not; at all events, we
could not run away.  Leaving us, the whole party set forth towards the
west on their expedition.  Two days passed, and then, with loud
shoutings, and shriekings, and firing of muskets, the party appeared,
with numerous scalps at the end of their spears, and some wretched
captives driven before them, I remember, even now, how I felt that
night, when the war-dance was danced, and the prisoners tortured; how
fearfully the men, and even the women, shrieked, and how the miserable
people who had been taken, as they were bound to stakes, writhed under
the tortures inflicted on them.  While we looked on, Tom and I wished
ourselves back again, even on board the ship, thinking that we ourselves
might next be treated in the same manner.  At last the savages brought
fire, and then, as the flames blazed up, we saw three people whom we
knew well,--the captain, and mate, and one of the men, who had been
among the worst of our tyrants.  Though their faces were distorted with
agony and horror, as the light fell on them, there was no doubt about
the matter.  They might have seen us.  If they did, it must have added
to their misery.  They had come on shore to visit some of the settlers,
we concluded, and, at all events, were found fighting with them.  We got
accustomed, after a time, to such scenes, and learned to think little of
them, as you doubtless do, friend Peter; but at that time, I went off in
a sort of swoon, as the shrieks and cries for mercy of the burning
wretches reached my ears.  The Indians had got a great deal of booty,
and having taken full revenge for the injury done them, and expecting
that they would be hunted out if they remained in the neighbourhood,
they judged it wise to remove to another part of the country.  Our feet
had sufficiently recovered during the rest of two days to enable us to
walk, or I am not certain that we should not have been killed, to save
our captors the trouble of carrying us.  It took us a week to reach the
main camp, where most of the women and children were collected.  We
limped on, with difficulty and pain, thus far concealing our sufferings
as much as we could.  We could not have gone a mile further, had not the
tribe remained here to decide on their future course.  The rest, and the
care the women took of us, sufficiently restored our strength to enable
us to move on with the tribe to the new ground they proposed taking up.
Your Indian ways, friend Peter, were very strange to us at first, but by
degrees we got into them, and showed that we were every bit as good men
as the chief braves themselves.  Whatever they did, we tried to do, and
succeeded as well as they, except in tracking an enemy, and that we
never could come up with.  They, at first, treated us as slaves, and
made us work for them, as they did their women; but when they saw what
sort of lads we were, they began to treat us with respect, and soon
learned to look upon us as their equals.  We both of us became very
different to what we were at sea, Tom especially.  There we were cowed
by our task-masters, here we felt ourselves free men; and Tom, who was
looked upon as an arrant coward on board ship, was now as brave as the
bravest warrior of the tribe.  We were braver, indeed; for while they
fought Indian-fashion, behind trees, we would rush on, and never failed
to put our enemies to flight.

"We were of great service to our friends in assisting them to establish
themselves in their new territory, and to defend themselves against the
numerous foes whom they very soon contrived to make.  Still we held our
own, and our friends increased in numbers and power.  Our chief was
ambitious, and used every means to add fresh members to his tribe, by
inducing those belonging to other tribes to join us.  His object, which
was very clear, excited the jealousy of a powerful chief, especially, of
the great Dakotah nation, inhabiting the country north-east of our
territory.  He, however, disguised his intentions, and talked us into
security by pretending the greatest friendship.  Through his means, our
other enemies ceased to attack us, and we began to think that the
hatchet of war was buried for ever.  Tom and I had been offered wives--
daughters of chiefs--and we had agreed to take them to our lodges, when
we both of us set out on a hunting expedition, to procure game for our
marriage feast, and skins to pay for the articles we required.  We had
great success, and were returning in high spirits, when night overtook
us, within a short distance of the village.  We camped where we were, as
we would not travel in the dark, hoping to enter it the next morning in
triumph.  About midnight, both Tom and I started from our sleep, we knew
not why.  Through the night air there came faint sounds of cries, and
shrieks, and shouts, and warlike noises.  We thought it must be fancy;
but presently, as we stood listening, there burst forth a bright light
in the direction of the village, which went on increasing, till it
seemed that every lodge must be on fire.  What could we do?  Should we
hasten on to help our friends?  It was too late to render them any
assistance.  We must wait till daylight to learn what way the foe had
gone, and how we could best help our friends; so we stood watching the
flames with grief and anger, till they sunk down for want of fuel.  We
had not lived so long with Indians, without having learned some of their
caution; and concealing our game and skins, as soon as it was dawn we
crept on towards the village.  As we drew near, not a sound was heard--
not even the bark of a dog.  We crept amid the bushes on hands and feet,
closer and closer, when from a wooded knoll we could look down on the
lately happy village, or, I should say, on the spot where it lately

"By the grey light of the morning a scene of desolation and bloodshed
was revealed to us, which, in all my experience of warfare, I have never
seen equalled.  Every lodge was burnt to the ground; here and there a
few blackened posts alone remaining to show where they once stood: but a
burnt village I have often seen.  It was the sight of the mangled and
blackened bodies of our late friends and companions thickly strewed over
the ground which froze the blood in our veins.  For some moments we
could scarcely find breath to whisper to each other.  When we did, we
reckoned up the members of the tribe, men, women, and children, and then
counting the bodies on the ground, we found that our foes had killed
every one of them, with the exception of perhaps a dozen, who might have
been carried off.  This told us, too correctly, how the event had
occurred.  In the dead of night the village had been surrounded, torches
thrown into it, and, as the people rushed out confused, they were
murdered indiscriminately--old and young, women and children.  Were our
intended wives among them? we almost wished they were; but we dared not
descend to ascertain.  The place was no longer for us.  `I wish that I
was back in England, Tom,' said I.  `So do I, Bill, right heartily,'
said he.  `East or west, Tom?' said I.  `Not west! no, no!' he answered,
with a shudder; `we might be caught by another whaler.'  `East, then,'
said I, pointing to the rising sun; `we may get there some day, but it's
a long way, I've a notion.'  `If we keep moving on, we shall get there
though, long as it may be,' said Tom.  So we crept back to where we had
left our goods, and having taken food for a couple of days, we went and
hid ourselves in some thick bushes, where we hoped our enemies would not
find us.  For two days and nights we lay hid, and on the third morning
we agreed that we might as well chance it as stay where we were, when
the sound of voices, and of people moving through the woods reached our
ears, and, peeping out, we saw several warriors passing along at no
great distance.  From the way they moved we knew that they were not
looking for any one, nor believing that any enemy was near; but still,
should any one of their quick eyes fall on our trail, they would
discover us in an instant.  I never felt my scalp sit more uneasy on my
head.  Suddenly they stopped and looked about; I thought that it was all
over with us; the keen eyes of one of them, especially, seemed to pierce
through the very thicket where we lay.  We scarcely dared to breathe,
lest we should betray ourselves.  Had there been only five or six we
might have sprung out and attacked them with some chance of success, but
there were a score at least, and more might be following, and so the
odds were too great.  They were most of them adorned with scalps--those
of our slaughtered friends, we did not doubt, and we longed to be
avenged on them.  On they came, and just as we thought that we had seen
the end of them, more appeared, and several of them looked towards us.
How we escaped discovery I do not know.  Long after the last had passed
on into the forest we came out of our hiding-place, and gathering up all
our property, prepared to commence our journey.  We pushed on as fast as
our legs would carry us, every moment expecting to come upon some of our
enemies, or to have them pouncing out upon us from among the trees or
rocks.  All day we pushed on, almost without stopping, and for several
days resting only during the hours of darkness, till at last we hoped
that we had put a sufficient distance between our enemies and ourselves
to escape an attack.  We now camped to catch more game, and to make
arrangements for our course.  We had got some little learning at school,
though most of it was forgotten; but we remembered enough to make us
know that England was to the north-east of us, and so we determined to
travel on in that direction.  I won't tell you now all about our
journey.  We had not got far before we found the country so barren that
we were obliged to keep to the north, which brought us into the
territory owned by the Dakotah people.  We knew nothing of the way then,
except from the accounts picked up over the camp fires of our former
friends, and we had managed hitherto to keep out of the way of all
strangers.  We were ignorant, too, of the great distance we were from
England; and of another thing we were not aware, and that was of the
cold of winter.  We were still travelling on, when the nights became so
cold that we could scarcely keep ourselves from freezing, though
sleeping close to our camp fires.  It got colder and colder, and then
down came the snow, and we found that winter had really set in.  To
travel on was impossible, so we built ourselves a lodge, and tried to
trap and kill animals enough to last us for food till the snow should
disappear.  They became, however, scarcer and scarcer, and we began to
fear that the supply of food we had collected would not last us out till
summer.  We had, however, a good number of skins, and though we had
intended to sell them, we made some warm clothing of them instead.

"We had too much to do during the day in hunting and collecting wood for
our fire to allow of the time hanging very heavy on our hands.  At first
we got on very well, but our food decreased faster than we had
calculated; and then Tom fell down from a rock, and hurt himself so much
that I could scarcely get him home.  While he was in this state I fell
sick, and there we two were, in the middle of a desert, without any one
to help us.  Tom grew worse, and I could just crawl out from our bed of
skins and leaves to heap up wood on our fire, and to cook our food.
That was growing less and less every day, and starvation stared us in
the face.  Our wood, too could not hold out much longer, and though
there was plenty at a little distance, I was too weak to go out and
fetch it and cut it up, and poor Tom could not even stand upright.  Day
by day our stock of food decreased.  All was gone!  There was wood
enough to keep our fire alight another day, and then we knew that in
one, or, at most, two days more, we must be starved or frozen to death.
Tom groaned out that he wished we had but a bottle of rum to keep us
warm, and drive away dreadful thoughts.  So did I wish we had.  That was
a hard time, friend Peter."

"Fire water! was that all you thought of?  Did you never pray?  Did you
never ask God to deliver you?" inquired the Indian in a tone of
astonishment.  "No!  What had God to do with us poor chaps in that
out-of-the-way place?  He wouldn't have heard us if we had prayed; and,
besides, we had long ago forgotten to pray," answered the old man in an
unconcerned tone.  "Ah! but He would have heard you, depend on that.
The poor and destitute are the very people He delights to help,"
observed the Indian.  "Ah! old friend, you little know what God is when
you fancy that He would not have heard you."  As he spoke he produced a
Testament in the Ojibway tongue, from which he read the words, "God is
love," and added, "This is part of the Bible, which your countrymen, the
missionaries, have translated for us into our tongue."

"Ay! maybe," remarked the old man, after considering a time; "I remember
about the Bible when I was a boy, and it's all true; but I don't fancy
God could have cared for us."

"Why? is that wisdom you speak, old friend?" exclaimed Peter.  "See, God
did care for you, though you did not even ask Him, or you wouldn't be
alive this day.  He has cared for you all your life long.  You have
already told me many things which showed it, and I doubt not if you were
to tell me everything that has happened to you since you can remember up
to the present day, many, many more would be found to prove it.  Was it
God's love which sent me to you when you were on the point of death, or
was it His hatred?  Was it God's love which softened the hearts of the
Sioux towards us?  Come, go on with your history.  I doubt not that the
very next thing that you have to tell me will prove what I say."

"Well, friend Redskin, what you say may be true, and I don't wish to
differ with you," answered the hunter, still apparently unmoved.  "As I
was saying, Tom and I expected nothing but starvation.  It was coming,
too, I have an idea; for my part I had got so bad that I did not know
where we were or what had happened.  The hut was dark, for I had closed
up the hole we came in and out at with snow and bundles of dry grass, or
we should very quickly have been frozen to death.

"The last thing I recollect was feeling cold--very cold.  Suddenly a
stream of light burst in on my eyes, and, that waking me up, I saw
several Indians, in full war-dress, standing looking at Tom and me.  I
felt as if I did not care whether they scalped me or not: I was pretty
well past all feeling.  One of them, however, poured something down my
throat, and then down Tom's throat: it did not seem stronger than water
though it revived me.  I then saw that their looks were kind, and that
they meant us no harm.  The truth was that our forlorn condition touched
their hearts: it is my opinion, friend Peter, that nearly all men's
hearts can be moved, if touched at the right time.  These men were
Sioux--very savage, I'll allow--but just then they were returning home
from a great meeting, where, by means of a white man, certain matters
were settled to their satisfaction, and they felt, therefore, well
disposed towards us.  Who the white man was I don't know, except that he
was not a trader, and was a friend of the Indians.  The Sioux gave us
food, and lighted our fire, and camped there for two days, till we were
able to move on, and then took us along with them.  We lived with them
all the winter, and soon got into their ways.  When we proposed moving
on, they would, on no account, hear of it, telling us that the distance
was far greater than we supposed, and that there were cruel, treacherous
white men between us and the sea, who were always making war on their
people to drive them off their lands, and that they would certainly kill
us.  The long and the short of it is that Tom and I gave up our
intention of proceeding, and, having wives offered to us much to our
taste, we concluded to stay where we were.  Every day we got more
accustomed to the habits of our new friends; and we agreed also, that
our friends in England would not know us, or own us, if we went back.
We were tolerably happy; our wives bore us children; and, to make a long
story short, we have lived on with the same tribe ever since.  Tom has
grown stout and cannot join in the hunt, but his sons do, and supply him
with food.  If Tom had been with the rest, he would not have left the
neighbourhood of the ground where I fell without searching for me.  It
is through he and I being together that I can still speak English, and
recollect things about home and our early days.  We have been friends
ever since we were boys, and never have we had a dispute.  Four of my
children died in infancy, and I have a son and a daughter.  The only
thing that tries me is leaving Tom and them, for their mother is dead;
and yet I should like to go and hear more of the strange things you have
told me about, and see some of my countrymen again before I die.  They
won't mourn long for the old man: it is the lot of many to fall down and
die in the wilds, as I should have died if you had not found me.  Tom,
maybe, will miss me; but of late years, since he gave up hunting, we
have often been separate, and he'll only feel as if I had been on a
longer hunt than usual."

"And your children?" said Peter.  "They'll feel much like Tom, I
suppose," answered the white hunter.  "You know, friend Redskin, that
Injun children are not apt to care much for their old parents.  Maybe I
will send for them, or go for them, if I remain with the pale-faces."

The Indian was silent for some time.  He then observed gravely, "Maybe,
old friend, that the merciful God, who has protected you throughout your
life, may have ordered this event also for your benefit; yet why do I
say `maybe.'  He orders all things for the best: this much I have
learned respecting Him--the wisest man can know no more."

Were not the Indians of North America indued with a large amount of
patience they could not get through the long journeys they often
perform, nor live the life of trappers and hunters, nor execute the
curious carved work which they produce.  Patience is a virtue they
possess in a wonderful degree.  Day after day Peter travelled on,
slowly, yet patiently, with his charge, at length reaching the banks of
the Assiniboine River, a large and rapid stream which empties itself
into the Red River, at about the centre of the Selkirk settlement.  The
banks, often picturesque, were, in most places, well clothed with a
variety of trees, while the land on either side, although still in a
state of nature, showed its fertility by the rich grasses and clover
which covered it.  The old hunter gazed with surprise.  "Why, friend
Peter, here thousands and thousands of people might live in plenty, with
countless numbers of cattle and sheep!" he exclaimed.  "I knew not that
such a country existed in tiny part of this region."

"We are now on the territory of the English, a people who treat the red
man as they should--as fellow men, and with justice," answered the
Indian.  "It may be God's will that, ere many years are over, all this
vast land, east and west, may be peopled by them, still leaving ample
room for the red men, who, no longer heathen hunters, may settle down in
Christian communities as cultivators of the soil, or keepers of flocks
and herds."

Still more surprised was the old hunter when, a few days after this,
they came upon several well cultivated fields, and saw beyond them a
widely-scattered village of neat cottages, and the spire of a church
rising amid them towards the blue sky.  "What! are those the houses of
English settlers?" asked the old man; "it will do my heart good to see
some of my own countrymen again."

"You will see few of your countrymen here, father; the inhabitants are
settlers, truly, but nearly all my people.  There is, however, here a
good minister, and a school-master, white men, who will welcome you
gladly.  Their hearts are full of Christian love, or they would not come
to live out here, far removed from relatives and friends, labouring for
the souls' welfare of my poor countrymen."

The old man shook his head, "No, no; I have no desire to see a parson.
I remember well the long sermons--the last I ever heard was when I was
at school--the parson used to give, and I used to declare that when I
was a man I would keep clear of them, on this account."

"You would not speak so of our minister here, were you to hear him,"
said the Indian.  "I will not ask you to do what you dislike--but here
is my house--those within will give you a hearty welcome."  An Indian
woman, neatly dressed, with a bright, intelligent countenance, came
forth with an infant in her arms, to meet Peter, several children
following her, who clung around him with affectionate glee.  A few
words, which Peter addressed to his wife, made her come forward, and,
with gentle kindness, assist the old man into the cottage, where the
elder children eagerly brought a chair and placed him on it.  One boy
ran off with the horse to a stable close at hand, and another assisted
his mother to prepare some food, and to place it on a table before his
father and their guest.

The old man's countenance exhibited pleased surprise.  "Well! well!  I
shouldn't have believed it if I had heard it," he muttered.  "I remember
many a cottage in the old country that did not come up to this."  Many
and many a cottage very far behind it, the old hunter might have said--
and why?  Because in them the blessed Gospel was not the rule of life;
while in that of the Indian God's law of love was the governing
principle of all.  Christ's promised gift--the gift of gifts--rested on
that humble abode of His faithful followers.

Several days passed by, and, to Peter's regret, the old hunter showed no
desire to converse with the devoted missionary minister of the
settlement.  He came more than once, but the old man, shut up within
himself, seemed not to listen to anything he said.  At length he
recovered sufficiently to go out, and one evening, wandering forth
through the village, he passed near the church.  The sound of music
reached his ears as he approached the sacred edifice; young voices are
raised together in singing praises to God for His bounteous gifts
bestowed on mankind:--

  "Glory to Thee, my God, this night,
  For all the blessings of the light;
  Keep me, O keep me, King of Kings!
  Beneath Thine own Almighty wings."

The old hunter stopped to listen: slowly, and as if in awe, he draws
near the open porch.  Again he stops, listening still more earnestly.
The young Christians within are singing in the Indian tongue.  Closer he
draws--his lips open--his voice joins in the melody.  Words long, long
forgotten, come unconsciously from his lips.  They are the English words
of that time-honoured hymn, often sung by children in the old country.
Scarcely does his voice tremble: it sounds not like that of a man, but
low and hushed, as it might have been when he first learned, from his
long-lost mother, to lisp those words of praise.  The music ceases.  The
old hunter bursts into tears--tears unchecked.  Now he sinks on his
knees, with hands uplifted--"Our Father, which art in Heaven,"--he is
following the words of the missionary within.  Are a mother's earnest,
ceaseless prayers heard--prayers uttered ere she left this world of
trial?  Yes; undoubtedly.  But God's ways are not man's ways: though He
tarry long, yet surely He will be found--aye, "Found of them who sought
Him not."

The children's prayer meeting is over.  The old man remains on his
knees, with head bent down, and hands clasped, till the shades of
evening close over him.


That was the turning-point; from that day Rob Nixon was an altered man.
Of course, I do not mean that he at once found all his difficulties
gone, his heart full of love, his prayers full of devotion; but from
this time he felt, as he had never felt before, that he was "blind, and
poor, and naked," and far away from his home.  His good and faithful
friend, Peter, had given him wise and good advice, and had introduced
him to the excellent minister of the settlement, Archdeacon Hunter, who
soon became a daily visitor at Peter's cottage.

Skilful in imparting religious knowledge, he was able, by slow degrees,
to instruct the old hunter in the leading truths of Christianity.  Once
comprehended, the old man grasped them joyfully; and though long
unaccustomed to the sight of a book, he set to work again to learn to
read, that he might himself peruse the sacred volume.  He, of course,
learned in English, and it was curious to remark, how his countenance
beamed with pleasure as he recognised once familiar, but long forgotten,
letters and words, and how rapidly he recovered the knowledge he had
possessed as a boy.  His great delight was to attend the
school-children's service, and to hear them afterwards catechised by the
minister; and the greyheaded, gaunt old man, might have been seen
constantly sitting among them, truly as a little child, imbibing the
truths of the Gospel.  But, after a time, a change came over him.  He
appeared no longer content to remain, as hitherto, quietly in the
cottage of his friend Peter, but spoke of wishing, once more, to be in
the saddle, following his calling of a hunter.  His rifle and
accoutrements had carefully been brought home by Peter; but they would
be of no use without a horse, powder and shot, and provisions.  The
autumn hunt, in which a large number of the natives of the Red River
settlement engage every year, was about to commence; and, to Peter's
surprise and regret, Rob Nixon expressed his intention of accompanying
them, should he be able to obtain the means of so doing.  Peter trembled
lest his old friend's conversion should not have been real--lest the
seed, which he had hoped would have borne good fruit, had, after all,
been sown on stony ground.  He delicately expressed his fears,
describing the temptations to which a hunter is exposed.  A tear
appeared in the old man's eye, as he called Peter's eldest boy to him.
"Friend, you love this boy?" he said.  "I do, fondly," was the natural
answer.  "And you love his soul?" he asked.  "Far more surely.  It is
the most precious part of him," said the Christian father.  "I, too,
have a son, and I love him; but I knew that he could take good care of
himself, and so I left him with little regret," said the hunter.  "But
now, friend, I know that he has a soul which is in danger of perishing,
I long to seek him out, to tell him of his danger, to win him back to
that Saviour from whom he has strayed so far.  I have a daughter and a
friend too, and that friend has children.  To all I would show how they
may be saved.  I loved them once, thinking nothing of their souls.  How
much more do I love their souls now that I know their value!"  Peter
warmly grasped the old hunter's hand, as he exclaimed, "Pardon me,
father, that I had hard thoughts of you.  I understand your object, and
I doubt not that aid will be afforded you to carry it out, for it is
surely one well pleasing in God's sight.  `He who converteth a sinner
from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide
a multitude of sins.'"

The whole matter being laid before the missionary minister the next day,
he highly approved of the old hunter's intention, and promised to aid
him as far as he had the power.  He was on the point of setting out to
visit the settlements, as the Red River colony is called, and he invited
Robert Nixon to accompany him, that he might there obtain the necessary
aid for the accomplishment of his enterprise.  It was agreed, in the
first place, that the old man should not undertake the journey alone.
The difficulty was to find a companion for him.  Fortunately, two years
before, a young Sioux had been taken prisoner by a party of Crees, a
numerous, people, who inhabit the country round Lake Winnepeg, their
lodges being found far in other directions.  They, like the heathen
Ojibways, are always at war with the Sioux, and no opportunity is lost
of taking each others' scalps.  This young Sioux, to whom the name of
Joseph had been given, was anxious to carry the glad tidings of
salvation to his countrymen, and hearing of the old hunter's wish,
gladly volunteered to accompany him.  Peter would willingly himself have
been his companion, but that he had his duties as a teacher to attend
to, and his family to care for; besides which, a Sioux would be able to
enter the country of his people with less risk of being killed by them,
than would one of the Cree, or Ojibway nation.  Peter, however, insisted
on Nixon taking his horse.  "You can repay me for the hire some day, or
your son can repay my children, should you bring him back.  If it is not
God's will that you should succeed in your mission, yet I fear not that
He will repay me, as the loan is for an object well pleasing in His

A horse for the young Sioux, as well as provisions and articles as gifts
to propitiate any chiefs of tribes who might not know him, were still
considered necessary, and these could only be procured at the Red River.
The distance between the little colony of Prairie Portage and Red River
is about sixty-five miles, but this neither the old hunter nor his
companions thought in any way a long journey.  The astonishment of
Robert Nixon was very great on finding a well-beaten road the whole
distance, over which wheeled carriages could pass with perfect ease;
still more when he passed several farms, even to the west of Lane's
Post, which formed the termination of their first day's journey.  Their
course was in the same direction as that of the Assiniboine, which very
winding river they occasionally sighted.  The banks were generally well
clothed with fine wood, and the soil everywhere appeared to be of the
richest quality.  Considerably greater than before was the old man's
astonishment when, on the second day about noon, the party arrived at a
comfortable farm, where the owner hospitably invited them to rest, and
placed before them the usual luxuries to be found in a well-ordered
farm-house in the old country, such as good wheat and maize bread,
cheese, butter, bacon and eggs, with capital beer, and in addition,
preserves and fruit, several vegetables, and fresh maize boiled,
answering the purpose of green peas.  A joint of mutton was roasting at
the fire, and potatoes were boiling.  After this repast, the farmer
brought out a supply of tobacco which, he told his guests, grew on the
farm.  "Indeed, gentlemen, I may say we here live in plenty," he
observed; "and all we want are people to settle down about us, and make
our lives more sociable than they now are.  We have drawbacks, I'll
allow; and what farmer, even in the old country, can say that he has
not?  Ours are--early and late frosts, though chiefly the latter;
grasshoppers, which will clear a field of every green thing in a night;
and, occasionally, wolves and bears; but those gentry don't like the
smell of our gunpowder, and have mostly taken their departure.  On the
Red River farms they seldom or never hear of one, and the injury they
can do us is but slight."

This was the commencement of a long line of farms which extends, with
few breaks, the whole distance to the Red River, into which the
Assiniboine falls.  Often the old hunter was silent, considering the
unexpected scenes which met his sight, though he occasionally indulged
in quiet remarks on them; but when, at length, the lofty and glittering
spire of a large cathedral, [note] appearing, as the rays of the evening
sun shone on it, as if formed of burnished silver--numerous edifices,
some of considerable dimensions, scattered about--public buildings and
dwelling houses--other churches in the distance--several windmills, with
their white arms moving in the breeze, high above the richly tinted
foliage of the trees, which formed an irregular fringe to the banks of
the river flowing beneath them, while near at hand, at the point where
the Assiniboine flows into the larger stream, rose the walls and
battlements of a strong fort, whose frowning guns commanded the
surrounding plains,--when he saw all this, the scene appeared to his
bewildered eyes as if it had sprung up by the touch of the enchanter's
wand, in the midst of the desert.  "Well! well!" he exclaimed, "and I
have been living all this time, but a few weeks' journey from this
place, and never should have thought of it."  The sight of the large
sails of the freighters' boats made him somewhat uncomfortable, lest he
should be carried off to sea, and he could scarcely be persuaded that he
was still not far short of two thousand miles from the Atlantic ocean,
and that there was no chance of his being kidnapped.  He was even more
frightened than his steed when a steamer came puffing up to a wharf
below Fort Garry.  "What creature is that they have aboard there?" he
exclaimed, "Where does the strange craft come from?  What is she going
to do?"  He sprang from his horse, and stood looking over the cliff at
the steamer.  He at once recognised her as a vessel, though of a
construction wonderfully strange to his eyes, as no steamers had been
built when he left England, and he had never heard of their invention.
The stream of steam puffed off, and the loud screams accompanying it
made him somewhat incredulous as to the nature of the vessel.  When,
however, all was quiet, and he saw a stream of people issuing from her
side, he was satisfied that she was of mortal build, and he was at
length persuaded to go down and examine her himself.  It almost took
away his breath, as he said, to find that vessels of far greater size
now ploughed the ocean in every direction, and that continents were
traversed by long lines of carriages, dragged by single locomotives, at
the rate of forty miles an hour.  After hearing of this, he was scarcely
surprised at any of the wonders which were told him, and of the numerous
discoveries and inventions which have been brought into practical use
during half-a-century.  At the close of the day the travellers reached a
well-built rectory, on the banks of the river, where they were
hospitably received and entertained.  While seated in the evening before
the fire with his host, the old man, as he looked round the room and
observed the various comforts which it contained, heaved a deep sigh.
"Ah!  I feel now how sadly I have thrown my life away," he exclaimed.
"I might, but for my early folly, have enjoyed all the comforts of
civilisation, and played my part as a civilised man, instead of living
the life of a savage among savages."

"Friend," observed the minister, "this is not the only life.  There is
another and a better--to last for ever.

"Then you have no desire to return to your former friends, the Sioux?"
the minister continued, after a pause.  "Ah! yes; but not for the
pleasure such a life as they lead could give me.  There is the friend of
my youth, and there are his children, and my children.  My great desire
is to return to them to tell them that they have souls, and what the
Lord, in His loving kindness, has done for their souls."  The object of
the old hunter was no sooner known in the settlement than he obtained
all the assistance he could require.  Few persons who had for so long
led a savage life could have appreciated more fully than he now seemed
to do the advantages of civilisation, and yet none of them could turn
him from his purpose.  Within five days he and his young Sioux
companion, Joseph, were ready to set out.  They had a led-horse to carry
their provisions and presents, and they had arms, though rather to
enable them to kill game for their support than for the purpose of
fighting.  "I pray that our hands may be lifted up against no man's
life, even though we may be attacked by those who are what we ourselves
were but a short time back, and should still be, but for God's grace,"
said the old man, as he slung his rifle to his saddle-bow.  Once more
Robert Nixon turned his back on the abodes of civilised men.  Had it not
been for the object in view it would have been with a heavy heart.  "If
Tom and I had remained at school, and laboured on steadily, we might
have been like one of those ministers of the Gospel, or settlers, and
our children the same, instead of the young savages they now are,
ignorant of God and His holy laws."  Thus he mused as he rode along.  He
and his young companion did not neglect the usual precautions, when they
camped at night, to avoid discovery by any wandering natives who might
be disposed to molest them.

The young Indian, though possessing much less religious knowledge than
Peter, yet showed a sincere anxiety to fulfil his religious duties, and,
without fail, a hymn was sung and prayer was offered up before starting
on their day's journey, and when they lay down on their beds of spruce,
fir-twigs, or leaves, or dry grass, at night.

The travellers rode on day after day without encountering any material
impediments to their progress.  There were no rugged mountains to
ascend, no dense forests to penetrate, or wild defiles amid which they
had to find their way.  There were rivers and streams; but some were
easily forded, across others they swam their horses, and passed their
provisions and goods on small rafts, which they towed behind them.

Leaving British territory, and moving west, the country had a barren and
arid appearance.  In many districts sand predominated, with sand-hills
of more or less elevation; in others grass, growing in tufts out of the
parched-up, stony ground, was the only herbage.  Indeed, from north to
south and east to west, for many hundred miles, there exists an extent
of country, known as the Dakotah territory, unfitted, from the absence
of water, to become the permanent abode of civilised man.  Here,
however, at certain seasons, herds of buffalo find pasturage on their
way to and from the more fertile regions of the north; and thus, with
the aid of fish, and other wild animals, and roots and berries,
considerable tribes of the Dakotah nation find a precarious existence.


Note.  This cathedral belongs to the Roman Catholics, who have also a
large convent near at hand.  They maintain a considerable number of
Missionary Stations in different parts of the country.


It was in the western portion of the Dakotah territory, described in the
last chapter, that a numerous band of the lords of the soil had pitched
their skin tents by the side of a stream, whose grassy banks, fringed
with trees, contrasted strongly with the dry and hilly ground before
mentioned, which, as far as the eye could reach, extended on either side
of them.  Yet the scene was animated in the extreme.  In the centre of a
wide basin, into which a valley opened from the distant prairie, was
erected a high, circular enclosure of stakes, and boughs, and skins.
There was but one entrance towards the valley, and on either side of
this entrance commenced a row of young trees, or branches of trees, the
distance between each line becoming greater and greater the further off
they were from the enclosure.  The figure formed by the lines was
exactly that of a straight road drawn in perspective on paper: being
very wide at one end, and narrowing gradually till it became only the
width of the entrance to the enclosure at the other.  Between each of
the trees or bushes was stationed an Indian armed with bow or spear, and
having a cloak, or a thick mass of branches in his hand.  Outside the
enclosure were numerous persons, chiefly women and old men and boys, the
latter armed with bows and arrows, and the former having cloaks or
boughs.  They were flitting to and fro, apparently waiting some event of
interest.  As the travellers reached the top of a hill overlooking the
enclosure, a cloud of dust was seen approaching the further end.  "There
they come, there they come!" exclaimed the old hunter, with difficulty
refraining from dashing down the hill, as, at the instant, a herd of
some three or four hundred buffaloes burst, at headlong speed, from out
of the dust--tossing their heads and tails, tearing up the earth with
their horns, trampling, in their terror, over each other--followed
closely by a band of red-skinned huntsmen, with bow or spear in hand,
most of them free of clothing, and uttering the wildest cries and
shouts, now galloping here, now there, as some fierce bull turned and
stood at bay, sending an arrow into the front of one, dashing a spear
into the side of another, while they hung on the flanks of the herd,
keeping the animals, as nearly as possible, in the centre of the road.
Whenever any of the herd approached the line of bushes on either side,
the Indians stationed there shook the cloaks or the boughs they held in
their hands, and shouted and shrieked, thus effectually turning the
bewildered animals into the main stream.  Sometimes the whole herd
attempted to break through, but were turned with equal facility.  If
they attempted to stop, the hunters behind, closing in on them, urged
them on until, still more and more compressed, those in the interior of
the herd being utterly unable to see where they were going, they were
forced, by redoubled shouts and shrieks in their rear, through the
narrow gateway into the enclosure.  Through it they dashed, a dark
stream of wild, fierce heads and manes surging up and down, till the
whole were driven in, and the hunters themselves, leaping the bar across
the entrance, followed close in their rear.  Now, round and round the
confined pound, the affrighted creatures rushed, not discovering a
single opening which might afford them a chance of escape, bellowing and
roaring, the strong trampling on the young and weak, the calves soon
falling and being crushed to death; showers of arrows from the hunters'
bows bringing many low, while others, wounded by the darts and spears of
the people outside, or gored by their fellows, sunk down exhausted from
loss of blood.

It was truly a spectacle of wanton and barbarous slaughter, which none
but those accustomed to it could have watched unmoved.  Even Robert
Nixon, though he had often joined in similar scenes, regarded it with
feelings very different to what he would formerly have done.  "Alas!
alas! is it thus God's creatures are destroyed to no purpose by these
poor savages?" he exclaimed to his companion.  "Not one-twentieth part
of the meat can be consumed by them; and the lay will come when they
will seek for food and there will be none for them, and they themselves
must vanish away out of the land."  The two travellers had been moving
along the height above the valley, but so entirely engaged were the
Indians in the work of entrapping the buffalo, that they were observed
by no one.  They now descended towards the tents.  In front of one of
them sat a somewhat portly man, his countenance, and the hue of his
complexion, rather than his costume, showing that he was of the white
race.  The tents were pitched on a spot sufficiently elevated above the
valley to enable him to watch all that was taking place within the
pound.  His attention also was so completely absorbed by the proceedings
of his companions, that he did not perceive, for some time, the approach
of the horsemen.  When he did, starting to his feet, and upsetting the
three-legged stool on which he was sitting, he exclaimed, "What, old
chum! is it you--you, indeed?  I made sure that what they told me was
true, and that you were long, long ago food for the wolves.  Let me look
at you.  I cannot yet believe my senses."  Rob Nixon having dismounted,
the two old men stood for some moments grasping each other's hands.

It was some time before old Tom could persuade himself that his friend
was really alive; not, indeed, till the latter had given a brief account
of the way he had been found and rescued by the Indian, Peter, and the
chief events which had occurred to him.  "Well, well!  I'm right glad to
get you back; and now you must give up hunting, as I have done, and just
take your ease for the rest of your days," said old Tom.  "Hunting I
have done with; but I have yet much work to do before I die," answered
the old hunter.  "You and I are great sinners; we were brought up in a
Christian land, and still we have been living the lives of heathens.
But, Tom, since I have been away I have read the Bible; I have there
learned about Christ; and I see that we have been living lives as
different from His as black is from white, as light is from darkness.
Tom, would you like to learn about Him?"  Tom signified his readiness
with a nod.  It was all Robert Nixon required, and he at once opened on
the subject of God's love, and man's sin, and Christ the Saviour from
sin.  The young Indian stood by holding the horses, and watching the
countenances of the speakers.  It must have been a great trial for him
to remain thus inactive while his countrymen were engaged in their
exciting occupation; but a new rule of life had become his, and duty had
taken the place of inclination.  "There, Tom; I've just said a little
about the chiefest thing I've got to say to you," were the words with
which Rob wound up his address.  Tom looked puzzled, but not displeased,
as some men might have been.

His friend was prevented from saying more by the loud shouts of the
Indians as the last bull of a herd of nearly three hundred animals sunk,
overcome by loss of blood from numberless arrows and darts, to the
saturated ground.  There lay the shaggy monsters in every conceivable
attitude into which a violent death could throw them, some on their
backs as they had rolled over, others with the young calves, which they
had run against in their mad career round the pound, impaled on their
horns; many had fallen over each other, and, dying from their wounds,
had formed large heaps in every direction.  It was truly a sickening
spectacle.  [Note.]  The old hunter after a pause pointed towards
it;--"There Tom, that's just a picture of what has been going on in the
world time without mind," he remarked; "the Indians are doing what the
spirits of evil do, and the poor buffaloes are like the people in the
world, all driven madly together, destroying one another till none
remain alive; but Christ delivers men from the spirits of evil, and
leads them into safety and rest."  Hitherto the new comers had escaped
observation, but now numerous Indians crowded round, some to welcome the
old white hunter, others to inquire the cause which brought the young
man with him.  The first to approach the old man was a young girl; her
complexion was fairer than that of several other girls who accompanied
her, and her dress was more ornamented with beads and feathers than
theirs.  She stopped timidly at a short distance--Indian etiquette would
not allow her to approach nearer.  She was very beautiful, but her
beauty was that of the wild gazelle, it had not yet been destroyed by
the hard toil and often cruel usage to which the older women of her
people were exposed.  "Come daughter, come," said the old man in the
Dakotah tongue, holding out his arms, "I have good tidings for thee."
The young girl bounded forward, and Rob Nixon, taking her in his arms,
imprinted a kiss on her brow.  "Father, father, that you have come back
when we thought you lost, is good news enough; you cannot bring me
better," looking up into the old man's face, not without some surprise,
however, at the affectionate manner in which she was treated, contrasted
with the stern way in which the Indians treat the females of their
people.  "I will tell thee of the good news anon.  You might not value
it as it deserves," said Robert Nixon.  "Thy brother, where is he?"

"He left the camp with a score more of our young braves nearly ten moons
ago, to make war on the Crees of the plain, and he has not yet returned.
Scouts have been sent out, but no tidings have been received of the
party."  The father did not conceal his disappointment.  "I have a rich
gift to offer him," he thought; "would that he had been here to have
accepted it.  Alas! alas! how great is my sin, who was born a Christian,
to have allowed my children to grow up ignorant heathens."  It is sad to
think that many white men in many parts of the vast territory known as
Rupert's land, may have cause to feel as did Robert Nixon.  Two of old
Tom's sons were also away on the same hazardous expedition, but though
anxious about them, for he was a kind-hearted man, he could not enter
into Rob Nixon's feelings in the matter.  Now as the evening came on the
people crowded into the encampment, all eager to hear how their white
friend and one of their chief, as well as the oldest, of their leaders
had escaped death.  He used no bitter expressions, but he could not help
asking, ironically, how it was that--among so many who professed regard
for him--no one had thought of turning back to look for him when he was
missed?  Numerous were the excuses offered, and all were glad when he
dropped the subject, and held up a book out of which he proposed to read
to them in their own language.  Not knowing the nature of a book, they
naturally supposed it to be some powerful charm, and declared that he
had become a great medicine man.  "If it is a charm, and I do not say
that it is not, it is one that, if you will listen, may do you good, and
will make you wiser than you have ever before been," he answered.  "Do
you, or do you not wish to hear me?"  There were no dissentient voices,
and he then read to them how God, the Great Spirit, so loved the world,
that He sent His Son into the world that all who believe in Him should
not perish but have eternal life,--"men, women, and children, old and
young alike," he added.  "I will tell you more about the matter
by-and-by, friends.  Talk over now what I have said.  This book, though
small, contains a great deal; many a day must pass before you know its
contents.  Those who wish to know more may come to my lodge when they
will, and I will read to them."

Bob Nixon made a very efficient missionary in his humble, unpretending
way.  He did not attack Manitou or any of the superstitions, but he
placed the better way before them, that they might have the opportunity
of comparing it with their own foolish customs and notions.  With his
own daughter and his old friend, whom he knew he could trust, he
proceeded in a different method; his friend he reminded of what he had
been taught in his youth, how he had spent his life, and again and again
inquired what hope he had for the future.  To his daughter he pointed
out the folly of the religious belief and the customs of the red people,
and showed her the advantages of those of true Christians.  To an
artless, unsophisticated mind, where sin has not ruled triumphantly, the
Gospel will always prove attractive, if offered--as its Divine
Originator intended it should be offered--as a blessing--as a charter of
freedom, not a code of legal restrictions.  The young girl received it
joyfully, and day by day increased in knowledge and grace.  He was,
however, often in despair with regard to old Tom.  His friend listened
to what he read and said, but the truth did not appear to find an
entrance into his mind; still he listened and tried to pray, and as he
tried he found praying less difficult; and when he listened he
comprehended better and better what he heard.  Tom's sons and daughters
still remaining with him began also to listen, and came oftener and
oftener to the old hunter's lodge, as their interest increased, till
they declared that they were ready to go wherever they could constantly
hear the Word of God, and be more fully instructed in its truths.  A
large part of Robert Nixon's object was accomplished, but not the whole.
A great grief lay at his heart--the loss and probable death of his son.
The winter had now set in, snow covered the whole face of nature in
every direction for many hundreds of miles.  Travelling, though not
impracticable, had become more difficult and dangerous; it could,
however, be accomplished by means of dog-sleighs or carioles, though all
the wealth possessed by Nixon and his friend could scarcely furnish dogs
sufficient to transport all the party and provisions to the banks of the
Assiniboine.  No news had been received of the missing band.  Old Tom
shared his friend's grief, and now he began to dread their loss for the
most important reason.  Nixon's time was also engaged among the tribe
generally; even the chief listened to him attentively, and offered no
opposition to his proceedings.  For himself he said that he was too old
to change, but that his people might follow the new way, if they found
it better than the old.  Joseph, the young Sioux, was a great assistance
to him.  Nixon offered to allow him to go back to his own people, but he
declined, saying that he was not strong enough to resist temptations,
and might be inclined to go back to their evil ways, if he found himself
among them; an example which more civilised youths might wisely follow--
not to run into temptation.


Note.  The chief object of the Indians in thus slaughtering so large a
number of buffalo is to lay in a store of their flesh, which they
preserve and call pemmican.  It is first cut off free of fat and hung up
in thin strips to dry in the sun.  It is then pounded between stones and
put into leathern bags, with the boiled fat of the animal poured in and
mixed with it.  The white fur traders also purchase this pemmican, as
well as the skins known as robes, and also the sinews.  Very many more
animals are killed than can be used by the thoughtless savages, and thus
thousands are left to rot uselessly on the prairie.  As the buffaloes
decrease in number, so do the red men disappear from the face of the
earth.  The settlement of civilised men in the territory appears to be
the only mode of saving the natives by affording them the means of


It was during the short spring of the North American continent, which so
suddenly breaks into perfect summer, that a camp might have been seen
pitched on the side of the bank of a broad and rapid river.  The spot
selected for the camp formed a bay of the river, or it might be called a
nook in the bank.  It appeared to have been chosen for the purpose of
concealment: for only from one point on the opposite bank could it be
seen, while above it was completely sheltered by the thick growth of
trees which fringed each side of the river.  From the conical shape of
the skin-covered tents, the accoutrements of the steeds tethered near,
the dog-sleds, for carrying goods and provisions, and the people
standing or sitting about, it would have been known at once to be a
Sioux encampment.  On a nearer inspection, however, several points of
difference would have been discovered.  In front of one of the tents sat
two old men whose complexion showed that they were not Indians, while
the dress of one of them was that of a civilised man.  Several young
women and girls were busily preparing the evening meal, some young men
were bringing them a supply of fire-wood and water, while others were
engaged in fishing in the river.  Several, both of the young men and
girls, had complexions much lighter than those of Indians, though
others, from their dark colour, were evidently of the native race.  They
seemed to be fearless of interruption; indeed, they probably relied on
due notice of danger being given them by their scouts or sentries, who
were watching from some of the more elevated spots in the neighbourhood.

One of the old men had been reading to the other from the Bible.  He
closed the sacred volume--"Let us thank God, old friend, that within a
week we may hope once more to be among our Christian countrymen, and be
able to join with them in His worship and praise, and to thank Him for
His loving mercy to us," said Robert Nixon.  "For my part I have only
one desire: to recover my boys and yours, and to see them be longing to
Christ's flock."

"Ah, Bill!"  Tom always called his friend by that name, "I, too, should
like to see the day; but it's far off, I fear.  But I hope they'll go to
Heaven somehow."  This conversation was interrupted by a loud cry of
alarm from the young women of the party; and, looking up, they saw a
dozen redskin warriors, who had just issued from among the trees on the
summit of the bank above them.  Several had rifles, others were armed
only with bows.  They were in the act of taking aim with their weapons
when Nixon saw them.  Forgetting the native language in his agitation,
he shouted out to them, in English, to desist.  They hesitated.  Some of
the girls took the opportunity of rushing off to seek for shelter behind
the trees.  Tom went into the tent for his gun.  Nixon advanced towards
the Indians, whom he perceived to be Crees, the mortal enemies of the
Dakotahs.  His daughter, believing him to be in danger, instead of
running for shelter, like her companions, flew after him.  Old Tom
re-appeared at the moment with his rifle.  The Crees, believing that
resistance was about to be offered, fired.  Their powder or weapons were
bad: some did not go off, the bullets, generally, flew wide, but one,
alas! took effect.  It was in the bosom of Rob Nixon's daughter.  Her
cry made him turn round, and, forgetting all else, he caught her in his
arms as she was sinking to the ground.  Before the savages had time to
re-load, and as they were about to rush down the hill, scalping-knife in
hand, to complete their cruel work, they were set upon by an equal
number of Sioux, who sprang so suddenly on them from behind that not one
of them had time to use his weapon in self-defence.  A desperate
struggle ensued, each man trying to pin his antagonist to the ground.
Two Crees, desperately wounded, lay fainting from loss of blood.  Tom,
climbing up the hill, still further turned the balance in favour of the
Sioux.  The Sioux were, Tom perceived, of his own party.  They had been
warned by one of their scouts that an enemy was at hand, and without
disturbing the rest of the camp had gone out to intercept them.  They
had, however, missed them, but again discovering their trail, had
followed close in their rear, though not fast enough to prevent the
unhappy catastrophe which had occurred.

The struggle was fierce and desperate.  Neither party expected any mercy
from the victors.  Three of the Crees were killed, and this releasing
three of the Sioux party, aided by old Tom, the latter were able to
assist their companions.  Their aim was, however, not to kill.  The
Crees were quickly disarmed, and being bound, stood expecting the usual
fate of the vanquished.  At a signal from Nixon they were led down the
bank to where he knelt by the side of his daughter, in vain attempting
to staunch the life-blood streaming from her wound.  "Father!" she
whispered; "I am leaving you.  I feel death coming, but I am happy, for
I know One powerful to save is ready to receive me.  I would have lived
to have comforted you, but I believe my prayers are heard, and that my
brother will yet be restored to you."  She was silent for some time;
then her eyes, opening, fell on the prisoners as they stood bound on the
top of the bank, and she continued: "I have but one petition to make.
It is that those ignorant men may not be punished.  They followed but
the ways of their people, and thought not of the wicked act they were
doing.  I would speak to them."  In a faint voice the dying girl
addressed the prisoners, and urged them to listen to the words her
father would speak to them, adding: "Truly do I forgive you, and may you
find forgiveness from the Great Good Spirit whom you know not."  It
would be difficult to describe the astonishment of the Crees when they
found that not only were they not to undergo torment before being
killed, but that they were actually freely pardoned.  After consulting
for some time, one of them, who appeared to be the leader, stepped
forward and said:--"We have heard that there are praying men among the
pale-faces, but that their praying made their people different to us we
did not know, for most of the things we do they do; they fight with each
other and with us, they drive us from our lands, they cheat us when
trading, they shoot us without pity whenever they catch us, and they
bring disease and death among us, so that, though once we were numerous
as the stones which strew the prairie lands of the Dakotahs, now we can
count our people while the sun rests at its mid-day height in the sky.
Such was our notion of the pale-faces, but you have given us a different
notion.  Though we have done you a great injury, though our weapons have
cruelly cut down one who is surely the most lovely of the flowers of the
prairie, instead of slaying us, you forgive us; she too, even, not only
forgives us, but prays to the Great Spirit for us.  Our minds are
astonished; our hearts are softened, melted within us.  We would be your
friends, and we wish to prove it.  We know the pale-faces who dwell
towards the rising of the sun, and we will accompany you on your way to
them, and guard you from further attacks.  You doubt us.  You fear
treachery.  You are wise.  We will prove that we are honest.  Some moons
past, ere the snows of winter had covered the ground, our tribe was
assailed by a party of Dakotah braves.  We had notice of their coming,
and had an ambush prepared for them.  Among them we discerned three whom
we knew by their colour to be the children of the pale-faces.  We judged
that they had been carried off when young, and we hoped to obtain a
reward by restoring them to their parents or countrymen, our friends.
The Dakotahs we slew, but, though they fought desperately and were much
wounded, we succeeded in saving the three young men alive.  We could not
then travel with them, so we kept them in our lodges while the snow
remained.  We were on our way to the east with them when, in our folly,
we resolved to attack your camp.  Our prisoners we left with a small
number of our band who are but a short way from this."

"Oh! bring them--haste!--haste!" exclaimed the wounded girl, alone
divining who they were of whom the Cree spoke; "I would see my brother
ere I die.  I have much--much to say to him."

Anxious to gratify his daughter, and satisfied that the Cree chief spoke
the truth, and would not prove treacherous, Robert Nixon allowed two of
his followers, known as fleet of foot, to hasten to his camp to bring in
the young men spoken of, having no doubt that his own son, and his
friend's two sons, were the prisoners spoken of.  Meantime, it appeared
doubtful whether the dying girl would survive till their arrival.  While
the rest of the party stood round grieving, she reclined in her father's
arms, occasionally whispering a few words of comfort in his ear, and
assuring him of her happiness.  At length she lifted up her head in the
attitude of listening.  Her quick ear had caught the sound of
approaching footsteps, even before the rest of the party.  It was some
time before any one appeared.  "I knew it--I knew it--my brother!" she
cried out, as several young men, running at full speed, burst from among
the trees at the top of the bank.  One of them, who was leading, taking
a hurried glance around, rushed down, and, with an expression in which
surprise and grief were mingled, threw himself by her side.  She took
his hand, and strange to his ear were the communications she made.
Another of the youths approached her.  She gave him her other hand, and
turned her countenance towards him as she did so.  "I was the cause of
your going on that expedition.  I was ignorant, dark-minded, wicked.  I
knew well that you loved me.  I know it now; but, oh! listen to my
father.  He will tell you of One who loves you far more than I could do,
whose love will make ample amends for the loss of mine; and then we may
meet in the realms of happiness, to dwell for ever and ever together."
To the young heathen this language was an enigma.  Ere it was solved,
the speaker had ceased to breathe.  "The Lord's will be done!" said the
old hunter: and those who knew how he loved his child understood what a
mighty change religion had wrought in his heart.  They buried her in
that secluded spot, beneath the green turf, on which she had lately trod
so full of life and beauty; and those who had loved her, and their late
foes, assisted to raise a monument, of materials furnished by the river
bed and the surrounding trees, above her tomb.

Rob Nixon and all the party reached the settlements in safety.  He
mourned as a father for his daughter, but his mourning was full of hope.
Her dying words were not thrown away on her brother, or on his
companions.  Before long, they were all baptised, and admitted to the
privileges and blessings of Christ's church.  When the father knelt at
the Lord's table, for the first time after his daughter's death, and
thought of the dead for whom thanks had been given, because they had
died in Christ's faith and fear, he felt that his beloved daughter had
not died in vain.  He declared that he had not been preserved from so
many and great dangers of body and spirit, to lead a life of idleness,
and while life remained, he never wearied in striving to bring others to
a knowledge of Him, whom he had found to be so precious to his own soul.


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