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Title: Frank on the Prairie
Author: Castlemon, Harry, 1842-1915
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Frank on the Prairie" ***

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    R.W. CARROLL & CO.




    Price, $1.25 per volume, or $7.50 per set, in a neat box,
    forming a most excellent and interesting LIBRARY FOR YOUNG






    Entered according to Act of Congress, in the years 1868, by R.
    W. CARROLL & CO., in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of
    the United States, for the Southern District of Ohio.



        CHAPTER I. HO FOR THE WEST                          9
       CHAPTER II. THE WAGON TRAIN                         18
      CHAPTER III. ANTELOPE HUNTING                        29
        CHAPTER V. A FIGHT WITH THE INDIANS                56
       CHAPTER VI. LOST ON THE PRAIRIE                     73
     CHAPTER VIII. THE “OLE BAR’S HOLE”                   103
        CHAPTER X. HANGING A BEAR                         124
       CHAPTER XI. A BUFFALO HUNT                         134
      CHAPTER XII. A NIGHT AMONG THE WOLVES               147
      CHAPTER XIV. THE TRADER’S EXPEDITION                171
       CHAPTER XV. THE OUTLAW’S ESCAPE                    183
      CHAPTER XVI. THE KING OF THE DROVE                  198
    CHAPTER XVIII. OLD BOB’S ADVENTURE                    222
      CHAPTER XIX. HOMEWARD BOUND                         237



Ho for the West!

For two months after their return from their hunting expedition in
“the woods,” Frank and Archie talked of nothing but the incidents that
had transpired during their visit at the trapper’s cabin. The
particulars of Frank’s desperate fight with the moose had become known
throughout the village, and the “Young Naturalist” enjoyed an enviable
reputation as a hunter. He was obliged to relate his adventures over
and over again, until one day his thoughts and conversation were
turned into a new channel by the arrival of an uncle, who had just
returned from California.

Uncle James had been absent from home nearly ten years, and during
most of that time had lived in the mines. Although the boys had not
seen him since they were six years old, and of course could not
remember him, they were soon on the best of terms with each other.
Uncle James had an inexhaustible fund of stories; he had crossed the
plains, fought the Indians, was accustomed to scenes of danger and
excitement, and had such an easy way of telling his adventures, that
the boys never grew tired of listening to them. The day after his
arrival he visited the museum, gazed in genuine wonder at the numerous
specimens of his nephews’ handiwork, and listened to the descriptions
of their hunting expeditions with as much interest as though he had
been a boy himself. Then he engaged in hunting with them, and entered
into the sport with all the reckless eagerness of youth.

The winter was passed in this way, and when spring returned, Uncle
James began to talk of returning to California to settle up his
business. He had become attached to life in the mines, but could not
bear the thought of leaving his relatives again. The quiet comforts he
had enjoyed at the cottage he thought were better than the rough life
and hard fare to which he had been accustomed for the last ten years.
He had left his business, however, in an unsettled state, and, as soon
as he could “close it up,” would return and take up his abode in
Lawrence. The cousins regretted that the parting time was so near, for
they looked upon their relative as the very pattern of an uncle, but
consoled themselves by looking forward to the coming winter, when he
would be settled as a permanent inmate of the cottage.

“I say, Frank,” exclaimed Archie one day, as he burst into the study,
where his cousin was engaged in cleaning his gun preparatory to a
muskrat hunt, “there’s something in the wind. Just now, as I came
through the sitting-room, I surprised our folks and Uncle James
talking very earnestly about something. But they stopped as soon as I
came in, and, as that was a gentle hint that they didn’t want me to
know any thing about it, I came out. There’s something up, I tell

“It’s about uncle’s business, I suppose,” replied Frank. But if that
_was_ the subject of the conversation, Archie came to the conclusion
that his affairs must be in a very unsettled state, for when they
returned from their hunt that night the same mysterious conversation
was going on again. It ceased, however, as the boys entered the room,
which made Archie more firm in his belief than ever that there was
“something up.”

The next morning, at the breakfast-table, Archie’s father announced
his intention of returning to Portland at once, as his business needed
his attention; and, turning to the boys, inquired:

“Well, have you had hunting enough this winter to satisfy you?”

“Yes, sir,” was the answer.

“Then I suppose you don’t want to go across the plains with your Uncle

“Hurrah!” shouted Archie, springing to his feet, and upsetting his
coffee-cup. “Did you say we might go?”

“Be a little more careful, Archie,” said his father. “No, I did not
say so.”

“Well, it amounts to the same thing,” thought Archie, “for father
never would have said a word about it if he wasn’t intending to let us
go. I knew there was something up.”

We need not stop to repeat the conversation that followed. Suffice it
to say, that Uncle James, having fully made up his mind to return to
the village as soon as he could settle up his business, had asked
permission for his nephews to accompany him across the plains. Their
parents, thinking of the fight with the moose, and knowing the
reckless spirit of the boys, had at first objected. But Uncle James,
promising to keep a watchful eye on them, had, after considerable
argument, carried the day, and it was finally decided that the boys
could go.

“But remember,” said Mr. Winters, “you are to be governed entirely by
Uncle James; for, if you have no one to take care of you, you will be
in more fights with bears and panthers.”

The boys readily promised obedience, and, hardly waiting to finish
their breakfast, went into the study to talk over their plans.

“Didn’t I tell you there was something up?” said Archie, as soon as
they had closed the door. “We’ll have a hunt now that will throw all
our former hunting expeditions in the shade.”

As soon as their excitement had somewhat abated, they remembered that
Dick Lewis, the trapper, had told them that it was his intention to
start for the prairie in the spring. If he had not already gone, would
it not be a good plan to secure his company? He knew all about the
prairie, and might be of service to them. They laid the matter before
Uncle James, who, without hesitation, pronounced it an excellent idea.
“For,” said he, “we are in no hurry. Instead of going by stage, we
will buy a wagon and a span of mules and take our time. If we don’t
happen to fall in with a train, we shall, no doubt, want a guide.” As
soon, therefore, as the ice had left the creek so that it could be
traveled with a boat, Uncle James accompanied the boys to the
trapper’s cabin.

Dick met them at the door, and greeted them with a grasp so hearty,
that they all felt its effects for a quarter of an hour afterward.

“I ain’t gone yet,” said he; “but it won’t be long afore I see the
prairy onct more.”

“Well, Dick,” said Frank, “we’re going, too, and want you to go with

The trapper and his brother opened their eyes wide with astonishment,
but Uncle James explained, and ended by offering to pay the trapper’s
expenses if he would accompany them. After a few moments’
consideration, he accepted the proposition, saying:

“I have tuk to the youngsters mightily. They’re gritty fellers, an’ I
should like to show ’em a bit of prairy life.”

Uncle James and the boys remained at the cabin nearly a week, during
which their plans were all determined upon, and, when they arrived at
home, they at once commenced preparations for their journey. Their
double-barreled shotguns were oiled, and put carefully away. They were
very efficient weapons among small game, but Uncle James said they
were not in the habit of using “pop-guns” on the prairie; they would
purchase their fire-arms and other necessary weapons at St. Louis.

The first of June--the time set for the start--at length arrived, and
with it came the trapper, accompanied by his dog. Dick carried his
long rifle on his shoulder, his powder-horn and bullet-pouch at his
side, and a knapsack, containing a change of clothes and other
necessary articles, at his back. He had evidently bestowed more than
usual care upon his toilet; his suit of buckskin was entirely new,
and even his rifle seemed to have received a thorough rubbing and
cleaning preparatory to its introduction into civilized life. Frank
and Archie meeting him at the door, relieved him of his rifle and
pack, and conducted him into the house. But here the trapper was sadly
out of place. He sat on the edge of his chair, and was constantly
changing the position of his feet, and looking down at the rich
carpet, as if he could hardly believe that it was made to walk upon.
The inmates of the cottage used every exertion in their power to make
him feel at his ease, and, to some extent, succeeded; but he breathed
much more freely when the farewells had been said, and the party was
on its way to the wharf. In due time they arrived at Portland, where
they remained nearly a week. Here the trapper again found himself in
hot water. He was installed in a large, airy room in Mr. Winter’s
elegant residence; but he would much rather have been assigned
quarters among the trees in the yard. The sights and sounds of the
city were new to him, and at every corner he found something to wonder
at. When on the street, he was continually getting in somebody’s way,
or being separated from his companions, who found it necessary to
keep a vigilant watch over him. But it was on the train that his
astonishment reached its height. He had never before traveled in the
cars, and, as they thundered away, going faster and faster as they
left the city behind, the trapper began to clutch his seat, and to
look wistfully out the window at the woods, which appeared to be
dancing by, as if he never expected to be permitted to enter his
natural element again. He would have preferred to “foot it,” as he
remarked, and, when at last they reached St. Joseph, he drew a long
breath of relief, mentally resolving that he would never again tempt
destruction by traveling either on a steamboat or railroad car.

It was midnight when they reached the hotel. Being very much fatigued
with their long journey, they at once secured rooms and retired, and
were soon fast asleep.


The Wagon Train.

On awaking the next morning, the boys found themselves surrounded by
new scenes. While they were dressing, they looked out at the window,
and obtained their first view of a wagon train, which was just
starting out for the prairie. The wagons were protected by canvas
covers, some drawn by oxen, others by mules, and the entire train
being accompanied by men both on foot and on horseback. Fat, sleek
cows followed meekly after the wagons, from behind whose covering
peeped the faces of women and children--the families of the hardy
pioneers now on their way to find new homes amid the solitude of that
western region.

The boys watched the train until it disappeared, and then went down
stairs to get their breakfast. Uncle James was not to be found. In
fact, ever since leaving Portland, he seemed to have forgotten his
promise to his brother, for he never bothered his head about his
nephews. It is true, he had watched them rather closely at the
beginning of the journey, but soon discovered that they were fully
capable of taking care of themselves and the trapper besides. He did
not make his appearance until nearly two hours after the boys had
finished their breakfast, and then he rode up to the hotel mounted on
a large, raw-boned, ugly-looking horse. He was followed by the
trapper, who was seated in a covered wagon, drawn by a span of mules,
while behind the wagon were two more horses, saddled and bridled.

“Now, then, boys,” said Uncle James, as he dismounted and tied his
horse to a post, “where’s your baggage? We’re going with that train
that went out this morning.”

“An’ here, youngsters,” exclaimed Dick, as he climbed down out of his
wagon, “come an’ take your pick of these two hosses. This one,” he
continued, pointing to a small, gray horse, which stood impatiently
pawing the ground and tossing his head--“this feller is young and
foolish yet. He don’t know nothin’ ’bout the prairy or buffaler
huntin’; an’ if whoever gets him should undertake to shoot a rifle
while on his back, he would land him on the ground quicker nor
lightnin’. I ’spect I shall have to larn him a few lessons. But this
one”--laying his hand on the other horse, which stood with his head
down and his eyes closed, as if almost asleep--“he’s an ole buffaler
hunter. The feller that your uncle bought him of has jest come in from
the mountains. He can travel wusser nor a steamboat if you want him
to, an’ you can leave him on the prairy any whar an’ find him when you
come back. Now, youngster,” he added, turning to Frank, “which’ll you

“I have no choice,” replied Frank. “Which one do you want, Archie?”

“Well,” replied the latter, “I’d rather have the buffalo hunter. He
looks as though he hadn’t spirit enough to throw a fellow off, but
that gray looks rather vicious.”

“Wal, then, that’s settled,” said the trapper; “so fetch on your
plunder, an’ let’s be movin’ to onct.”

Their baggage, which consisted of three trunks--small, handy affairs,
capable of holding a considerable quantity of clothing, but not
requiring much space--was stowed away in the wagon. When Uncle James
had paid their bill at the hotel, they mounted their horses, and the
trapper, who now began to feel more at home, took his seat in the
wagon, and drove after the train. Archie soon began to think that he
had shown considerable judgment in the selection of his horse, for
they had not gone far before the gray began to show his temper. After
making several attempts to turn his head toward home--a proceeding
which Frank successfully resisted--he began to dance from one side of
the street to the other, and ended by endeavoring to throw his rider
over his head; but the huge Spanish saddle, with its high front and
back, afforded him a secure seat; and after receiving a few sharp
thrusts from Frank’s spurs, the gray quietly took his place by the
side of Archie’s horse, and walked along as orderly and gentle as
could be wished.

The trapper, who was now the chief man of the party, had superintended
the buying of their outfit, and, although it was a simple one, they
were still well provided with every necessary article. The boys were
dressed in complete suits of blue jeans, an article that will resist
wear and dirt to the last extremity, broad-brimmed hats, and heavy
horseman’s boots, the heels of which were armed with spurs.

Their weapons, which were stowed away in the wagon, consisted of a
brace of revolvers and a hunting-knife each, and Archie owned a short
breech-loading rifle, while Frank had purchased a common “patch”
rifle. The wagon also contained provisions in abundance--coffee, corn
meal, bacon, and the like--and ammunition for their weapons. Their
appearance would have created quite a commotion in the quiet little
village of Lawrence, but in St. Joseph such sights were by no means
uncommon. Buckskin was much more plenty than broadcloth, and the
people who passed them on the streets scarcely noticed them.

At length, just before dark, they overtook the train, which had
stopped for the night. The wagons were drawn up on each side of the
road, and altogether the camp presented a scene that was a pleasant
one to men wearied with their day’s journey. Cattle were feeding
quietly near the wagons, chickens cackled joyously from their coops,
men and women were busily engaged with their preparations for supper,
while groups of noisy children rolled about on the grass, filling the
camp with the sounds of their merry laughter.

The trapper drove on until he found a spot suitable for their camp,
and then turned off the road and stopped. He at once began to
unharness the mules, while the boys, after removing their saddles,
fastened their horses to the wagon with a long rope, and allowed them
to graze. When the trapper had taken care of his mules, he started a
fire, and soon a coffee-pot was simmering and sputtering over the
flames, and several slices of bacon were broiling on the coals. After
supper, the boys spread their blankets out under the wagon, and, being
weary with their day’s ride (for it was something new to them), soon
fell asleep.

The next morning, when they awoke it was just daylight. After drawing
on their boots, they crawled out from under the wagon, and found the
trapper, standing with his hat off, and his long arms extended as if
about to embrace some invisible object.

“I tell you what, youngsters,” said he, as the boys approached; “if
this aint nat’ral; jest take a sniff of that ar fresh air! Here,” he
continued, looking about him with a smile of satisfaction--“here, I
know all ’bout things. I’m to hum now. Thar’s nothin’ on the prairy
that Dick Lewis can’t ’count fur. But, youngsters, I wouldn’t travel
on them ar steamboats an’ railroads ag’in fur all the beaver in the
Missouri River. Every thing in them big cities seemed to say to me,
‘Dick, you haint got no business here.’ Them black walls an’ stone
roads; them rumblin’ carts an’ big stores, war sights I never seed
afore, an’ I never want to see ’em ag’in. I know I was treated mighty
kind, an’ all that; but it couldn’t make me feel right. I didn’t like
them streets, windin’ an’ twistin’ about, an’ allers loosin’ a feller;
an’ I wasn’t to hum. But _now_, youngsters, I know what I’m doin’.
Nobody can’t lose Dick Lewis on the prairy. I know the names of all
the streets here; an’, ’sides, I know whar they all lead to. An’ as
fur varmints, thar’s none of ’em that I haint trapped an’ fit. An’
Injuns! I know a leetle ’bout them, I reckon. It’s funny that them ar
city chaps don’t know nothin’ ’bout what’s goin’ on out here; an’ it
shows that all the larnin’ in the world aint got out o’ books. Send
one of ’em here, an’ I could show him a thing or two he never heern
tell on. But I must be gettin’ breakfast, ’cause we’ll be off ag’in
soon; an’ on the prairy every feller has to look out fur himself. You
can’t pull a ring in the wall here, an’ have a chap with white huntin’
shirt an’ morocker moccasins on come up an’ say: ‘Did you ring, sir?’
An’ how them ar fellers knowed which room to come to in them big
hotels, is something I can’t get through my head. Thar’s no big bell
to call a feller to grub here. Take one of them city chaps an’ give
him a rifle, an’ pint out over the prairy an’ tell him to go an’ hunt
up his breakfast, an’ how would he come out? Could he travel by the
sun, or tell the pints of the compass by the stars? Could he lasso an’
ride a wild mustang, or shoot a Injun plumb atween the eyes at two
hundred an’ fifty yards? No! I reckon not! Wal, thar’s a heap o’
things I couldn’t do; an’ it shows that every man had oughter stick to
his own business. It’s all owin’ to a man’s bringin’ up.”

While the trapper spoke he had been raking together the fire that had
nearly gone out; and having got it fairly started, he began the work
of getting breakfast. The boys, after rolling up their blankets and
packing them away in the wagon, amused themselves in watching the
movements of the emigrants, who now began their preparations for their
day’s journey. By the time Uncle James awoke, the trapper pronounced
their breakfast ready. After they had done ample justice to the homely
meal (and it was astonishing what an appetite the fresh invigorating
air of the prairie gave them), the boys packed the cooking utensils
away in the wagon while the trapper began to harness the mules. This
was an undertaking that a less experienced man would have found to be
extremely hazardous, for the animals persisted in keeping their heels
toward him, and it was only by skillful maneuvering that Dick
succeeded in getting them hitched to the wagon. By the time this was
accomplished, Uncle James and the boys had saddled their horses and
followed the trapper, who drove off as though he perfectly understood
what he was about, leaving the train to follow at its leisure.

Dick acted as if he had again found himself among friends from whom he
had long been separated; but it was evident that sorrow was mingled
with his joy, for on every side his eye rested on the improvements of
civilization. The road was lined with fine, well-stocked farms, and
the prairie over which his father had hunted the buffalo and fought
the Indian, had been turned up by the plow, and would soon be covered
with waving crops. No doubt the trapper’s thoughts wandered into the
future, for, as the boys rode up beside the wagon, he said, with
something like a sigh:

“Things aint as they used to be, youngsters. I can ’member the time
when thar was’nt a fence within miles of here, an’ a feller could go
out an’ knock over a buffaler fur breakfast jest as easy as that
farmer over thar could find one of his sheep. But the ax an’ plow have
made bad work with a fine country, the buffaler an’ Injun have been
pushed back t’wards the mountains, an’ it won’t be long afore thar’ll
be no room fur sich as me; an’ we won’t be missed neither, ’cause when
the buffaler an’ beaver are gone thar’ll be nothin’ fur us to do.
These farms will keep pushin’ out all the while; an’ when folks,
sittin’ in their snug houses beside their warm fires, hear tell of the
Injuns that onst owned this country, nobody will ever think that sich
fellers as me an’ Bill Lawson an’ ole Bob Kelly ever lived. If ole
Bill was here now, he would say: ‘Let’s go back to the mountains,
Dick, an’ stay thar.’ He wouldn’t like to see his ole huntin’ grounds
wasted in this way, an’ I don’t want to see it neither. But I know
that the Rocky Mountains an’ grizzly bars will last as long as I
shall, an’ thar’ll be no need of trappers an’ hunters an’ guides arter

Dick became silent after this, and it was not until the train halted
for the noon’s rest, that he recovered his usual spirits.


Antelope Hunting.

Gradually the train left the improvements of civilization behind, and,
at the end of three weeks, it was miles outside of a fence. Here the
trapper was in his natural element. He felt, as he expressed, “like a
young one jest out o’ school,” adding, that all he needed was “one
glimpse of a Comanche or Cheyenne to make him feel perfectly nat’ral.”

In accordance with the promise he had made Frank before leaving St.
Joseph, he now took Pete (that was the name the latter had given his
horse) under his especial charge; and every morning, at the first peep
of day, the boys saw him galloping over the prairie, firing his rifle
as fast as he could reload, as if in pursuit of an imaginary herd of
buffaloes. At first the spirited animal objected to this mode of
treatment, and made the most desperate efforts to unseat his rider;
but the trapper, who had broken more than one wild mustang, was
perfectly at home on horseback, and, after a few exercises of this
kind, Pete was turned over to his young master, with the assurance
that he was ready to begin buffalo hunting. According to Frank’s idea,
the animal had improved considerably under the trapper’s system of
training, for he would hardly wait for his rider to be fairly in the
saddle before he would start off at the top of his speed. The boys,
who considered themselves fully able to do any thing that had ever
been accomplished by any one else, having seen Dick load and fire his
rifle while riding at full speed, began to imitate his example, and in
a short time learned the art to perfection. In addition to this, each
boy looked upon his horse as the better animal, and the emigrants were
witnesses to many a race between them, in which Sleepy Sam, as Archie
called his horse, always came off winner. But Frank kept up the
contest, and at every possible opportunity the horses were “matched,”
until they had learned their parts so well, that every time they
found themselves together, they would start off on a race without
waiting for the word from their riders.

One morning, just after the train had left the camp, as the boys were
riding beside the wagon, listening to a story the trapper was
relating, the latter suddenly stopped, and, pointing toward a distant
swell, said: “Do you see that ar’, youngsters?”

The boys, after straining their eyes in vain, brought their
field-glass into requisition, and finally discovered an object moving
slowly along through the high grass; but the distance was so great,
they could not determine what it was.

“That’s a prong-horn,” said the trapper at length. “An’ now, Frank,”
he continued, “if you’ll lend me that ar hoss, I’ll show you that all
the huntin’ in the world aint larnt in that leetle patch of timber
around Lawrence.”

Frank at once dismounted, and Dick, after securing his rifle, sprung
into the saddle, saying:

“Come along easy-like, youngsters, an’ when I tell you, you get off
an’ hide behind your hoss.”

Frank mounted Sleepy Sam behind Archie, and they followed the trapper,
who led the way at an easy gallop. Useless, at his master’s command,
remained with the wagon. They rode for a mile at a steady pace, and
then, seeing that the game had discovered them, the boys, at a signal
from the trapper, stopped and dismounted, while Dick kept on alone,
his every movement closely watched by Frank and Archie, who, having
often read of the skill required in hunting antelopes, were anxious to
see how it was done. The trapper rode on for about half a mile
further, and then the boys saw him dismount, unbuckle the bridle, and
hobble his horse so that he would not stray away. He then threw
himself on his hands and knees, and disappeared. A quarter of an hour
afterward the boys saw his ’coon-skin cap waving above the grass. If
this was intended to attract the attention of the game, it did not
meet with immediate success, for the antelopes continued to feed
leisurely up the swell, and finally some of their number disappeared
behind it. The boys regarded this as conclusive evidence that the
trapper’s plan had failed; but at length one of the antelopes, which
stood a little apart from the others, and appeared to be acting as
sentinel, uttered a loud snort, which instantly brought every member
of the herd to his side. They remained huddled together for several
moments, as if in consultation, and then began to move slowly down
the swell toward the place where the trapper was concealed. There were
about twenty animals in the herd, and they came on in single file,
stopping now and then to snuff the air and examine the object that had
excited their curiosity. But nothing suspicious was to be seen, for
the trapper was concealed in the grass, the only thing visible being
his cap, which he gently waved to and fro as he watched the movements
of the game. The antelopes advanced slowly--much _too_ slowly for the
impatient boys, who, concealed behind their horse, closely watched all
their movements, fearful that they might detect the presence of the
trapper, and seek safety in flight. But the latter well understood the
matter in hand, and presently the boys saw a puff of smoke rise from
the grass, and the nearest of the antelopes, springing into the air,
fell dead in his tracks. The others turned and fled with the speed of
the wind.

In an instant Frank and Archie had mounted, and when they reached the
place where the trapper was standing, he had secured his prize, which
was one of the most graceful animals the boys had ever seen. It was
about three and a half feet high at the shoulders, and, although Dick
pronounced it very fat, its body was slender and its limbs small and
muscular. After having examined the animal to their satisfaction, they
all mounted their horses, Dick carrying the game before him on his
saddle; and as they rode toward the wagon, Archie exclaimed:

“Now, Frank, we know how to hunt antelopes. It isn’t so very hard,
after all.”

“Isn’t it?” inquired the trapper, with a laugh. “You don’t understand
the natur of the critters, when you say that. I know I killed this one
easy, but a feller can’t allers do it. Howsomever, you can try your
hand the next time we meet any, an’ if you do shoot one, I’ll allers
call you my ‘antelope killers.’ Them red handkerchiefs of your’n would
be jest the things to use, ’cause the critters can see it a long way.
If you can bring one of ’em into camp, it will be something wuth
braggin’ on.”

It was evident that the trapper did not entertain a very exalted
opinion of the boys’ “hunting qualities;” but that did not convince
them that they could not shoot an antelope. On the contrary, it made
them all the more anxious for an opportunity to try their skill on
the game, if for no other reason than to show the trapper that he was

Half an hour’s riding brought them to the wagon, which was standing
where they had left it, and, after the buck had been skinned and
cleaned, the trapper mounted to his seat and drove after the train,
followed by the boys, who strained their eyes in every direction in
the hope of discovering another herd of antelopes. But nothing in the
shape of a prong-horn was to be seen; and when the train resumed its
journey after its noon halt, they gradually fell back until the wagons
were out of sight behind the hills. Then, leaving the road, they
galloped over the prairie until they reached the top of a high swell,
when they stopped to look about them. About two miles to the left was
the train slowly winding among the hills; but the most faithful use of
their glass failed to reveal the wished-for game. All that afternoon
they scoured the prairie on both sides of the wagons, and when it
began to grow dark, they reluctantly turned their faces toward the

“What did I tell you?” asked the trapper, as the boys rode up to the
wagon, where the latter was unharnessing the mules. “I said you
couldn’t shoot a prong-horn.”

“Of course we couldn’t,” answered Archie, “for we didn’t see any to

“I know that,” replied the trapper with a grin; “but _I_ seed plenty.
The next time you go a huntin’ prong-horns, be sartin that the wind
blows from them t’wards you, an’ not from you t’wards them. They’ve
got sharp noses, them critters have.”

The boys were astonished. They had not thought of that; and Archie was
compelled to acknowledge that “there was something in knowing how,
after all.”


The Best Trapper on the Prairie.

That night the train encamped a short distance from one of the
stations of the Overland Stage Company. The trapper, as usual, after
taking care of his mules, superintended the preparations for supper,
while the boys, wearied with their day’s ride, threw themselves on the
grass near the wagon, and watched his movements with a hungry eye.
Uncle James, as he had done almost every night since leaving St.
Joseph, walked about the camp playing with the children, who began to
regard him as an old acquaintance. Presently the attention of the boys
was attracted by the approach of a stranger, whose long beard and thin
hair--both as white as snow--bore evidence to the fact that he carried
the burden of many years on his shoulders.

He was dressed in a complete suit of buckskin, which, although well
worn, was nevertheless very neat, and, in spite of his years, his step
was firm, and he walked as erect as an Indian. He carried a long heavy
rifle on his shoulder, and from his belt peeped the head of a small
hatchet of peculiar shape, and the buck-horn handle of a
hunting-knife. He walked slowly through the camp, and when he came
opposite the boys, Dick suddenly sprang from the ground where he had
been seated, watching some steaks that were broiling on the coals,
and, striding up to the stranger, laid his hand on his shoulder. The
latter turned, and, after regarding him sharply for a moment, thrust
out his hand, which the trapper seized and wrung in silence. For an
instant they stood looking at each other without speaking, and then
Dick took the old man by the arm and led him up to the fire,

“Bob Kelly, the oldest an’ best trapper on the prairy!”

The boys arose as he approached, and regarded him with curiosity. They
had heard their guide speak in the highest terms of “ole Bob
Kelly,” and had often wished to see the trapper whom Dick was
willing to acknowledge as his superior. There he was--a mild,
good-natured-looking old man, the exact opposite of what they had
imagined him to be.

“Them are city chaps, Bob”--continued the trapper, as the old man,
after gazing at the boys for a moment, seated himself on the ground
beside the fire--“an’ I’m takin’ ’em out to Californy. In course they
are green consarnin’ prairy life, but they are made of good stuff, an’
are ’bout the keerlessest youngsters you ever see. What a doin’ here,

“Jest lookin’ round,” was the answer. “I’m mighty glad to meet you
ag’in, ’cause it looks nat’ral to see you ’bout. Things aint as they
used to be. Me an’ you are ’bout the oldest trappers agoin’ now. The
boys have gone one arter the other, an’ thar’s only me an’ you left
that I knows on.”

“What’s come on Jack Thomas?” asked Dick.

“We’re both without our chums now,” answered the old man, sorrowfully.
“Jack an’ ole Bill Lawson are both gone, an’ their scalps are in a
Comanche wigwam.”

The trapper made no reply, but went on with his preparations for
supper in silence, and the boys could see that he was considerably
affected by the news he had just heard. His every movement was closely
watched by his companion, who seemed delighted to meet his old
acquaintance once more, and acted as though he did not wish to allow
him out of his sight. There was evidently a good deal of honest
affection between these two men. It did not take the form of words,
but would have showed itself had one or the other of them been in
danger. They did not speak again until Mr. Winters came up, when Dick
again introduced his friend as the “oldest an’ best trapper agoin’.”
Uncle James, who understood the customs of the trappers, simply
bowed--a greeting which the old man returned with one short, searching
glance, as if he meant to read his very thoughts.

“Now, then!” exclaimed Dick, “Grub’s ready. Pitch in, Bob.”

The old trapper was not in the habit of standing upon ceremony, and,
drawing his huge knife from his belt, he helped himself to a generous
piece of the meat, and, declining the corn-bread and the cup of coffee
which the boys passed over to him, made his meal entirely of venison.
After supper--there were but few dishes to wash now, for the boys had
learned to go on the principle that “fingers were made before
forks”--the trapper hung what remained of the venison in the wagon,
lighted his pipe, and stretched himself on the ground beside his

The boys, knowing that the trappers would be certain to talk over the
events that had transpired since their last meeting, spread their
blankets where they could hear all that passed, and waited impatiently
for them to begin; while Mr. Winters, who had by this time become
acquainted with every man, woman, and child, in the train, started to
pay a visit to the occupants of a neighboring wagon.

For some moments the two men smoked in silence, old Bob evidently
occupied with his own thoughts, and Dick patiently waiting for him to
speak. At length the old man asked:

“Goin’ to Californy, Dick?”

The trapper replied in the affirmative.

“What a goin’ to do arterward?”

“I’m a goin’ to take to the mountains, an’ stay thar,” replied Dick.
“I’ve seed the inside of a city, Bob; have rid on steam railroads an’
boats as big as one of the Black Hills; an’ now I’m satisfied to stay
here. I’d a heap sooner face a grizzly or a Injun than go back thar
ag’in, ’cause I didn’t feel to hum.”

“Wal, I’m all alone now, Dick,” said the old man, “an’ so are you. Our
chums are gone, an’ we both want to settle with them Comanche
varmints; so, let’s stick together.”

Dick seemed delighted with this proposition, for he quickly arose from
his blanket and extended his hand to his companion, who shook it
heartily; and the boys read in their faces a determination to stand by
each other to the last.

“I’ve got a chum now, youngsters,” said Dick, turning to the boys;
“an’ one that I aint afraid to trust anywhar. Thar’s nothin’ like
havin’ a friend, even on the prairy. I come with the boys,” he added,
addressing his companion, who, seeing the interest Dick took in his
“youngsters,” slowly surveyed them from head to foot--“I come with ’em
jest to show ’em how we do things on the prairy. They can shoot
consid’ble sharp, an’ aint afraid. All it wants is the hard
knocks--fightin’ Injuns an’ grizzlies, an’ starvin’ on the prairy, an’
freezin’ in the mountains, to make trappers of ’em.” And here Dick
settled back on his elbow, and proceeded to give the old man a short
account of what had transpired at Uncle Joe’s cabin; described
Frank’s fight with the moose and panther in glowing language; told how
the capture of the cubs had been effected, until old Bob began to be
interested; and when Dick finished his story, he said:

“The youngsters would make good trappers.”

This, as the trapper afterward told the boys, was a compliment old Bob
seldom paid to any one, “for,” said he, “I’ve knowed him a long time,
an’ have been in many a fight with him, an’ he never told me I was
good or bad.”

“Wal,” said Dick, again turning to his companion, “You said as how
Jack Thomas was rubbed out. How did it happen?”

Old Bob refilled his pipe, smoked a few moments as if to bring the
story fresh to his memory, and then answered:

“When I heered that Bill Lawson war gone, an’ that you war left alone,
I done my best to find you, an’ get you to jine a small party we war
makin’ up to visit our ole huntin’ grounds on the Saskatchewan; but
you had tuk to the mountains, and nobody didn’t know whar to go to
find you. Thar war eight of us in the party, an’ here, you see, are
all that are left. As nigh as I can ’member, it war ’bout four year
ago come spring that we sot out from the fort, whar we had sold our
furs. We had three pack mules, plenty of powder, ball, an’ sich like,
an’ we started in high sperits, tellin’ the trader that bought our
spelter that we’d have a fine lot fur him ag’in next meetin’ time. We
knowed thar war plenty of Injuns an’ sich varmints to be fit an’
killed afore we come back, but that didn’t trouble us none, ’cause we
all knowed our own bisness, and didn’t think but that we would come
through all right, jest as we had done a hundred times afore. We
didn’t intend to stop afore we got to the Saskatchewan; so we traveled
purty fast, an’ in ’bout three weeks found ourselves in the Blackfoot
country, nigh the Missouri River. One night we camped on a leetle
stream at the foot of the mountains, an’ the next mornin’, jest as we
war gettin’ ready to start out ag’in, Jack Thomas--who, like a
youngster turned loose from school, war allers runnin’ round, pokin’
his nose into whatever war goin’ on--came gallopin’ into camp,

“‘Buffaler! buffaler!’

“In course, we all knowed what that meant, an’ as we hadn’t tasted
buffaler hump since leavin’ the fort, we saddled up in a hurry an’
put arter the game. We went along kinder easy-like--Jack leadin’ the
way--until we come to the top of a swell, an’ thar they war--nothin’
but buffaler as fur as a feller could see. It war a purty sight, an’
more’n one of us made up our minds that we would have a good supper
that night. We couldn’t get no nigher to ’em without bein’ diskivered,
so we scattered and galloped arter ’em. In course, the minit we showed
ourselves they put off like the wind; but we war in easy shootin’
distance, an’ afore we got through with ’em, I had knocked over four
big fellers an’ wounded another. He war hurt so bad he couldn’t run;
but I didn’t like to go up too clost to him, so I rid off a leetle
way, an’ war loadin’ up my rifle to give him a settler, when I heered
a noise that made me prick up my ears an’ look sharp. I heered a
trampin, an’ I knowed it war made by something ’sides a buffaler. Now,
youngsters, a greenhorn wouldn’t a seed any thing strange in that; but
when I heered it, I didn’t stop to kill the wounded buffaler, but
turned my hoss an’ made tracks. I hadn’t gone more’n twenty rod afore
I seed four Blackfoot Injuns comin’ over a swell ’bout half a mile
back. I had kept my eyes open--as I allers do--but I hadn’t seen a
bit of Injun sign on the prairy, an’ I made up my mind to onct that
them Blackfoot varmints had been shyin’ round arter the same buffaler
we had jest been chasin’, an’ that they didn’t know we war ’bout till
they heered us shoot. Then, in course, they put arter us, ’cause they
think a heap more of scalps than they do of buffaler meat.

“Wal, as I war sayin’, I made tracks sudden; but they warn’t long in
diskiverin’ me, an’ they sot up a yell. I’ve heered that same yell
often, an’ I have kinder got used to it; but I would have give my
hoss, an’ this rifle, too, that I have carried for goin’ nigh onto
twenty year, if I had been safe in Fort Laramie, ’cause I didn’t think
them four Injuns war alone. I war sartin they had friends not a great
way off, an’ somehow I a’most knowed how the hul thing was comin’ out.
I didn’t hardly know which way to go to find our fellers, ’cause while
we were arter the buffaler we had got scattered a good deal; but jest
as I come to the top of a swell I seed ’em a comin’. Jack Thomas war
ahead, an’ he war swingin’ his rifle an yellin’ wusser nor any Injun.
I’ll allow, Dick, that it made me feel a heap easier when I seed them
trappers. Jack, who allers knowed what war goin’ on in the country
fur five miles round, had first diskivered the Injuns, an’ had got all
the party together ’cept me, an’ in course they couldn’t think of
savin’ their own venison by runnin’ off and leavin’ me.

“Wal, jest as soon as we got together we sot up a yell and faced
’bout. The Injuns, up to this time, had rid clost together; but when
they seed that we warn’t goin’ to run no further jest then, they
scattered as if they war goin’ to surround us; an’ then we all knowed
that them four Injuns warn’t alone. So, without stoppin’ to fight ’em,
we turned an’ run ag’in, makin’ tracks for the woods at the foot of
the mountains. An’ we warn’t a minit too soon, fur all of a sudden we
heered a yell, an’ lookin’ back we seed ’bout fifty more red-skins
comin’ arter us like mad. They had a’most got us surrounded; but the
way to the mountains war open, an’ we run fur our lives. The varlets
that had followed me war in good pluggin’ distance, an’ when we turned
in our saddles an’ drawed a bead on ’em, we had four less to deal
with. It warn’t more ’n ten mile to the foot of them mountains, but it
seemed a hundred to us, an’ we all drawed a long breath when we found
ourselves under kiver of the woods. The minit we reached the timber
we jumped off our hosses, hitched them to the trees, an’ made up our
minds to fight it out thar an’ then. We knowed, as well as we wanted
to know, what the Injuns would do next--they would leave a party on
the prairy to watch us, an’ the rest would go sneakin’ round through
the woods an’ pick us off one at a time. The only thing we could
do--leastwise till it come dark--war to watch the varlets, an’ drop
every one of ’em that showed his painted face in pluggin’ distance. We
war in a tight place. Our pack mules, an’ a’most all our kit, had been
left in the camp, an’ we knowed it wouldn’t be long afore the Injuns
would have ’em, an’ even if we got off with our bar, we wouldn’t be
much better off--no traps, no grub, an’ skeercely half a dozen bullets
in our pouches.

“Wal, the Injuns, when they seed that we had tuk to the timber,
stopped, takin’ mighty good keer, as they thought, to keep out of
range of our rifles, an’ began to hold a palaver, now an’ then lookin’
t’wards us an’ settin’ up a yell, which told us plain enough that they
thought they had us ketched. But we, knowin’ to an inch how fur our
shootin’ irons would carry, drawed up an’ blazed away; an’ we knowed,
by the way them red-skins got back over that swell, that we hadn’t
throwed our lead away. They left one feller thar to watch us,
howsomever, but he tuk mighty good keer to keep purty well out of
sight, showin’ only ’bout two inches of his head ’bove the top of the
hill. While the Injuns war holdin’ their council, we had a talk ’bout
what we had better do. The truth war, thar war only one thing we could
do, an’ that war to stay thar until dark an’ then take our chances. We
had all fit savage Injuns enough to know that they wouldn’t bother us
much so long as daylight lasted; but arter that, if we didn’t get away
from thar, our lives war not worth a charge of powder. We soon made up
our minds what we would do. We divided ourselves into two
parties--four of us watchin’ the prairy, an’ the others keepin’ an eye
on the woods, to see that the varlets didn’t slip up behind us.

“Wal, we didn’t see nothin’ out of the way all that day. Thar war that
feller peepin’ over the hill, an’ that war the only thing in the shape
of a red-skin we could see; an’ we didn’t hear nothin’ neither, fur
whatever they done, they didn’t make noise enough to skeer a painter.
At last it come night, an’ it war ’bout the darkest night I ever
see--no moon, no stars--an’ then we began to prick up our ears. We all
knowed that the time had come. You can easy tell what we war passin’
through our minds. Thar warn’t no sich thing as a coward among us
eight fellers, but men in sich a scrape as that can’t help thinkin’,
an’ I knowed that every one thar drawed a long breath when he thought
of what he had got to do. I tell you, Dick, it war something none of
us liked to do--leave one another in that way--men that you have
hunted, an’ trapped, an’ fought Injuns with, an’ mebbe slept under the
same blanket with, an’ who have stuck to you through thick an’
thin--sich fellers, I say, you don’t like to desart when they’re in
danger. But what else could we do? We war a’most out of powder an’
lead, an’ the Injuns war more’n six to our one. You have been in sich
scrapes, an’ in course know that thar warn’t but one way open to us.

“Wal, as I was sayin’, as soon as it come fairly dark, the boys
gathered ’round me, an’ waited to hear what I war goin’ to do. In
course, I couldn’t advise ’em, ’cause it war every feller look out fur
himself, an’ the best men war them as was lucky enough to get away. So
I said:

“‘I’m goin’ to start now, boys. It’s high time we war movin’, cause if
we stay here half an hour longer, we’ll have them red-skins down on us
in a lump. Thar’s somethin’ goin’ on, sartin. They don’t keep so still
fur nothin’.’

“Wal, we whispered the matter over, an’ finally settled it. The oldest
man war to go fust; the next oldest, second; an’ so on; an’ that them
as got away should draw a bee-line fur Fort Laramie, an’ get thar to
onct, so that we might know who got off an’ who didn’t. We didn’t
think we should all get away. Some war sartin to go under; an’, Dick,
we didn’t forget to promise each other that those of us that lived
would never let a red Injun cross our trail. When every thing was
settled, I, bein’ the oldest man in the comp’ny, began to get ready
fur the start. I put fresh primin’ in my rifle; seed that my knife and
tomahawk war all right; then, arter shakin’ hands with all the boys,
an’ wishin’ ’em good luck, I crawled away on my hands an’ knees. I
didn’t go back into the woods, but tuk to the edge of the prairy, an’
found the way cl’ar. Not an Injun did I hear. As fur seein’, you
couldn’t a told your mother, if she warn’t two foot from you; an’ in
’bout half an hour I found myself on the banks of a leetle creek. How
long I lay thar, an’ how much of that water I drunk, I don’t know; but
I thought water never tasted so good afore. Then I walked into the
creek, an’ had waded in it fur ’bout half a mile, when all to onct I
heered a yellin’ an’ whoopin’, followed by the crack of rifles, an’
then I knowed that I hadn’t been fooled consarnin’ what the red-skins
meant to do. They had got what war left of our fellers surrounded, an’
made the rush. Fur a minit I stood thar in the water an’ listened. I
heered a few shots made by our poor fellers, ’cause I can tell the
crack of a Missouri rifle as fur as I can hear it; an’ then one long,
loud yell, told me that it war all over.

“Wal, I laid round in them mountains fur more’n six weeks, starvin’
fur grub an’ water, an’ listenin’ to the yellin’ varlets that war
huntin arter me; but I got back safe at last, arter walkin’ all the
way from the Rocky Mountains to the fort, an’ thar I found Jack
Thomas. Me an’ him war the only ones that got out. When the Injuns got
them six fellers, they rubbed out nearly the last one of our comp’ny.
Me an’ Jack war mighty down-hearted ’bout it, an’ it war a long time
afore we could b’lieve that we war left alone. We didn’t feel then
like ever goin’ back to the mountains ag’in, ’cause we knowed it would
be lonesome thar. In course, we could easy have made up another
expedition, fur thar war plenty of hunters an’ trappers--good ones,
too--hangin’ round the fort; but somehow we didn’t feel like goin’ off
with any one outside of our own comp’ny.

“Wal, me an’ Jack laid round as long as we could stand it, an’ then we
got a couple of hosses, another new kit, an’ sot off ag’in. We didn’t
think it safe fur only two of us to try the Blackfoot country ag’in,
so we struck for the huntin’ grounds on the Colorado. At that time
thar war plenty of beaver in that river; so it didn’t take us long to
find a place that suited us; an’ we settled down, comfortable-like, to
spend the winter. Fur three months we had plenty of sport, an’ the
sight of our pile of furs, growin’ bigger an’ bigger every day, made
us happy an’ contented. One mornin’ we sot out bright an’ ’arly, as
usual, to ’tend to our bisness, takin’ different directions--fur my
traps war sot on the side of the mountain, an’ Jack had sot his’ne on
the banks of the creek that run through the valley. I had been gone
frum him but a short time, when I heered the crack of his rifle.
Somehow, I knowed it war somethin’ ’sides a varmint he had shot at;
an’ I warn’t fooled neither, for a minit arterward I heered another
gun, an’ then afore I could think twice a Comanche yell come echoin’
from the valley, tellin’ me plainer nor words that my chum war gone.
An Injun had watched one of his traps, an’ shot him as he come to it.
I knowed it as sartin as if I had seed the hul thing done.

“Wal, I warn’t in a fix kalkerlated to make a feller feel very
pleasant. I war three hundred miles from the nighest fort, in the very
heart of the Comanche country, an’ in the dead of winter, with the
snow two foot deep on a level. But I didn’t stop to think of them
things then. My bisness war to get away from thar to onct. In course,
I couldn’t go back arter my hoss or spelter, fur I didn’t know how
many Injuns thar war in the valley, nor whar they had hid themselves;
so I shouldered my rifle an’ sot off on foot t’wards the prairy. A
storm that come up that night--an’ it snowed an’ blowed in a way that
warn’t a funny thing to look at--kivered up my trail; an’ if I war
ever follered, I don’t know it.

“I finally reached the fort, an’ I’ve been thar ever since. I’m an
ole chap now, Dick; but when I hunted an’ trapped with your ole man,
when me an’ him warn’t bigger nor them two youngsters, an’ hadn’t
hardly strength enough to shoulder a rifle, I never thought that I
should live to be the last of our comp’ny. In them days the prairy war
different from what it is now. It war afore the hoss-thieves an’
rascals began to come in here to get away from the laws of the States;
an’ them that called themselves trappers then war honest men, that
never did harm to a lone person on the prairy. But they’ve gone, one
arter the other, an’ only me an’ you are left.”

As the old trapper ceased speaking, he arose suddenly to his feet and
disappeared in the darkness, leaving Dick gazing thoughtfully into the
fire. It was an hour before he returned, mounted on his horse, which
he picketed with the others. He then silently rolled himself up in his
blanket and went to sleep.


A Fight with the Indians.

When setting out the next morning, Frank noticed that the wagons,
instead of starting off singly, and straggling, as they had formerly
done, kept close together, and traveled more rapidly. The trapper,
too, instead of taking the lead, and getting in advance of the train,
seemed satisfied to remain with the others. Upon inquiring the reason
for this, Dick replied:

“You may find out afore night, youngster, that we are in a bad bit of
Injun country. The train that went out afore us had a scrimmage here
with nigh five hundred of the red-skins, who stampeded some of their
stock. So keep your eyes open, an’ if you see a Injun, let me know to
onct.” The trapper said this with a broad grin, that was meant to
imply that if they were attacked, the Indians would make their
appearance before a person so inexperienced as Frank could be aware of

“The red-skins don’t gener’lly keer ’bout an out-an’-out fight,”
continued the trapper, “’cause they don’t like these long rifles, an’
they know that these yere pioneers shoot mighty sharp. All the Injuns
want--or all they can get--is the stock; an’ they sometimes jump on to
a train afore a feller knows it, an’ yell an’ kick up a big fuss,
which frightens the cattle. That’s what we call stampedin’ ’em. An’,
youngster, do you see that ’ar?”

As the trapper spoke, he pointed out over the prairie towards a little
hill about two miles distant. After gazing for a few moments in the
direction indicated, Archie replied:

“I see something that looks like a weed or a tuft of grass.”

“Wal, that’s no weed,” said the trapper, with a laugh, “nor grass,
neither. If it is, it’s on hossback, an’ carries a shootin’-iron or a
bow an’ arrer. That’s a Injun, or I never seed one afore. What do you
say, Bob?” he asked, turning to the old trapper, who at this moment
came up.

“I seed that five minutes ago,” was the reply, “an’ in course it can’t
be nothin’ but a red-skin.”

The boys gazed long and earnestly at the object, but their eyes were
not as sharp as those of the trappers, for they could not discover
that it bore any resemblance to an Indian, until Mr. Winters handed
them his field-glass through which he had been regarding the object
ever since its discovery. Then they found that the trappers had not
been deceived. It was a solitary Indian, who sat on his horse as
motionless as a statue, no doubt watching the train, and endeavoring
to satisfy himself of the number of men there might be to defend it.
In his hand he carried something that looked like a spear adorned with
a tuft of feathers.

“I wish the varlet was in good pluggin’ distance,” said Dick, patting
his rifle which lay across his knees. “If I could only get a bead on
him, he would never carry back to his fellers the news of what he has

“Do you suppose there are more of them?” asked Archie, in a voice that
would tremble in spite of himself.

“Sartin,” replied old Bob Kelly, who still rode beside the wagon;
“thar’s more of ’em not fur off. This feller is a kind o’ spy like,
an’ when he has seen exactly how things stand, he’ll go back an’ tell
the rest of ’em, an’ the fust thing we know, they’ll be down on us
like a hawk on a June-bug. But they’ll ketch a weasel, _they_ will,
when they pitch into us. Dick, when they do come, don’t forget Bill

The trapper turned his head, for a moment, as if to hide the emotion
he felt, at the mention of the name of his departed companion, but
presently replied:

“This aint the fust time that you an’ me have been in jest sich
scrapes, Bob, an’ it aint likely that we’ll soon forget that we owe
the varlets a long settlement. Thar aint as many of us now as thar
used to be; more’n one good trapper has had his har raised by them
same red-skins--fur I know a Cheyenne as fur as I kin see him,
youngsters--an’ mebbe one o’ these days, when some one asks, ‘What’s
come on ole Bob Kelly an’ Dick Lewis?’ the answer will be, ‘Killed by
the Injuns!’”

It may be readily supposed that such conversation as this was not
calculated to quiet the feelings of Frank and Archie--who had been
considerably agitated by the information that there was a body of
hostile Indians at no great distance--and to their excited
imaginations the danger appeared tenfold worse than it really was. At
that day, as the trapper had remarked, it was a very uncommon
occurrence for a large train to be engaged in a regular fight with the
Indians, for the latter had learned to their cost that the pioneers
were always well armed, and that there were some among them who
understood Indian fighting. They generally contented themselves with
sudden and rapid raids upon the stock of the emigrants, and they
seldom departed empty-handed. But it is not to be wondered that the
trappers, who had participated in numberless engagements with the
savages, and witnessed deeds of cruelty that had awakened in them a
desire for vengeance, should delight to talk over their experience.
The boys, although considerably frightened, were still greatly
encouraged by their example. Dick twisted uneasily on his seat, as
though impatient for the fight to begin, now and then looking toward
the spy, as if he had half a mind to venture a shot at him; while old
Bob Kelly rode along, smoking his pipe, apparently as unconcerned as
though there was not a hostile Indian within a hundred miles of them.
Mr. Winters evidently partook of the old man’s indifference, for,
after satisfying himself that his weapons were in readiness, he drew
back beside his nephews, and said, with a smile:

“Well, boys, you may have an opportunity to try your skill on big game
now. This will be a little different from the fight you had in the
woods with those Indians who stole your traps. Then you had the force
on your side; now the savages are the stronger party. But there’s no
danger,” he added, quickly seeing that the boys looked rather anxious;
“every man in the train is a good shot, and the most of them have been
in Indian fights before. I don’t believe all the red-skins on the
prairie could whip us while we have Dick and Bob with us.”

The boys themselves had great confidence in the trappers--especially
Dick, who, they knew, would never desert them. But even _he_ had
several times been worsted by the Indians. Frank thought of the story
of the lost wagon train. But then he remembered that the reason that
train was captured, was because the emigrants had not “stood up to the
mark like men.”

All this while the train had been moving ahead at a rapid pace, and
many an anxious eye was directed toward the solitary Indian, who
remained standing where he was first discovered until the wagons had
passed, when he suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. All that day
the emigrants rode with their weapons in their hands, in readiness to
repel an attack; and when they halted at noon, guards were posted
about the camp, and the cattle were kept close to the wagons. But,
although now and then a single Indian would be seen upon one of the
distant swells, the main body kept out of sight; and the boys began to
hope that the train was considered too large to be successfully
attacked. At night old Bob Kelly selected the place for the
encampment, which was made according to his directions. The wagons
were drawn up in a circle to form a breastwork, and the cattle were
picketed close by under the protection of a strong guard. Fires were
built, and preparations for supper carried on as usual, for, of
course, all attempts at concealment would have been time and labor
thrown away. As soon as it began to grow dark, the cattle were secured
to the wagons by long stout ropes, which, while they allowed the
animals to graze, effectually prevented escape. Then guards were
selected, and the emigrants made every preparation to give the savages
a warm reception, in case they should make a dash upon the camp. No
one thought of his blanket. The idea of going to sleep while a band of
Indians was hovering about, watching their opportunity to pounce down
upon them, was out of the question. The two trappers, after satisfying
themselves that every thing was in readiness for an attack, began to
station the guards. Frank again thought of the story Dick had related
of the lost wagon train, and, desiring to witness an exhibition of the
skill that had enabled him to detect the presence of the Indians on
that occasion, proposed to Archie that they should stand guard with
him. The latter, who always felt safe when in the company of their
guide, agreed; and when the trapper started off with the guards, he
was surprised to find the boys at his side.

“Whar are you goin’?” he asked.

“We want to stand guard with you!” replied Frank.

“Wal, I never _did_ see sich keerless fellers as you be,” said the
trapper. “You get wusser an’ wusser. Much you don’t know about this
bisness. I guess you had better stay here whar you’re safe.”

“Wal, wal!” said old Bob Kelly, who was not a little astonished at the
request the boys had made, “they’ve got the real grit in ’em, that’s a
fact, if they are green as punkins in Injun fightin’. A few year on
the prairy would make ’em as good as me or you, Dick Lewis. But you’ll
get enough of Injuns afore you see daylight ag’in, youngsters. So you
had better stay here.”

So saying he shouldered his rifle, and, followed by the guards,
disappeared in the darkness. The boys reluctantly returned to their
wagon, where they found Uncle James, seated on the ground, whistling
softly to himself, and apparently indifferent as to the course the
Indians might see fit to adopt. But still he had not neglected to make
preparations to receive them, for his rifle stood leaning against one
of the wheels of the wagon, and he carried his revolvers in his belt.
The boys silently seated themselves on the ground beside him, and
awaited the issue of events with their feelings worked up to the
highest pitch of excitement. The fires had burned low, but still
there was light sufficient to enable them to discover the emigrants
stretched on the ground about the wagons, talking to one another in
whispers, as if almost afraid to break the stillness that brooded over
the camp, and which was interrupted only by the barking of the prairie
wolves, and the neighing and tramping of the horses. Two hours were
passed in this way, when suddenly the sharp report of a rifle,
accompanied by a terrific yell, rang out on the air, causing the
emigrants to grasp their weapons and spring to their feet in alarm.
For an instant all was silent again. The stillness was so deep that
Frank thought the camp was suddenly deserted. Then a long drawn out
whoop arose from the prairie, followed by a chorus of yells that
struck terror to more than one heart in that wagon train. Then came a
clatter of horses’ hoofs; the yells grew louder and louder; and the
boys knew that the Indians were coming toward them. The emigrants
rushed to the wagons, and the next moment the savages swept by. The
boys saw a confused mass of rapidly-moving horsemen; heard the most
terrific yells, the report of fire-arms, and the struggles of the
frightened cattle as they attempted to escape, and then all was over.
The Indians departed as rapidly as they had come, and the boys,
bewildered by the noise, had not fired a shot. On the contrary, they
stood holding their rifles in their hands, as if they had suddenly
forgotten how to use them. Uncle James, however, was not confused. He
had heard the war-whoop before, and as he came out from behind the
wagon, he began to reload one of his revolvers, remarking as he did


“There are some less in that band, I know.”

“Did you shoot?” asked Archie, drawing a long breath of relief to know
that the danger was past. “Why, I didn’t have time to fire a shot.”

“That’s because you were frightened,” replied Mr. Winters. “You see I
have been in skirmishes like this before, and their yells don’t make
me nervous. I had five good shots at them, and I don’t often miss.”

“I say, youngsters, are you all right?” exclaimed Dick, who at this
moment came up. “See here! I’ve got two fellers’ top-knots. Bless you,
they aint scalps,” he continued, as the boys drew back. “They’re only
the feathers the Injuns wear in their har. I don’t scalp Cheyennes,
’cause I don’t keer ’bout ’em. I make war on ’em ’cause it’s natur.
But when I knock over a Comanche, I take his har jest to ’member ole
Bill by. But, youngsters, warn’t that jolly! I haven’t heered a Injun
yell fur more’n a year, an it makes me feel to hum. You can take these
feathers, an’ when you get back to Lawrence, tell the folks thar that
the Injuns that wore ’em onct attacked the train you belonged to.”

The emigrants’ first care, after having satisfied themselves that the
Indians had gone, was to count their stock; and more than one had to
mourn the loss of a favorite horse or mule, which had escaped and gone
off with the Indians. Mr. Winters, however, had lost nothing--the
trapper having tied the animals so securely that escape was
impossible. Not a person in the train was injured--the only damage
sustained being in the canvas covers of the wagons, which were riddled
with bullets and arrows.

The boys were still far from feeling safe, and probably would not have
gone to bed that night had they not seen the trappers spreading their
blankets near the wagon. This re-assured them, for those men never
would have thought of rest if there had been the least probability
that the Indians would return. So the boys took their beds out of the
wagon and placed them beside those of Dick and his companion, who were
talking over the events of the night.

“This bisness of fightin’ Injuns, youngsters,” said the former, “is
one that aint larnt out of books, nor in the woods about Lawrence. If
you had a-been with us, you would a seed that. Now, when I fust went
out thar, you couldn’t ’a’ told that thar war a red-skin on the
prairy. But I laid my ear to the ground, an’ purty quick I heerd a
rumblin’ like, an’ I knowed the noise war made by hosses. Arter that,
I heerd a rustlin’ in the grass, an’ seed a Injun sneakin’ along, easy
like, t’wards the camp. So I drawed up my ole shootin’ iron, an’ done
the bisness fur him, an’ then started fur the camp, loadin’ my rifle
as I ran. In course the Injuns seed then that it warn’t no use to go
a-foolin’ with us, so they all set up a yell, an’ here they come. I
dodged under the wagon, an’ as they went by, I give ’em another shot,
an’ seed a red-skin go off dead.”

“Go off dead!” repeated Frank. “How could he go off when he was dead?”

“Why,” said the trapper, with a laugh, in which he was joined by old
Bob Kelly, “every one of them Injuns war tied fast to his hoss, so
that if he war killed he wouldn’t fall off; an’, in course, his hoss
would keep on with the rest, an’ carry him away. I seed more’n one
Injun go off dead to-night, an’ the way I come to get them feathers,
b’longin’ to them two chaps, war, that somebody had shot their hosses.
I seed ’em on the ground, tryin’ to cut themselves loose from their
saddles, so I run up an’ settled ’em. That war four I rubbed out.
Good-night, youngsters. You needn’t be afraid, ’cause they won’t come
back again to-night.”

As the trapper spoke, he placed his cap under his head for a pillow,
re-arranged his blanket, and was soon in a sound sleep.

During the next two weeks nothing occurred to relieve the monotony of
the journey. The train took up its line of march at daylight, halted
at noon for an hour or two, and shortly after sunset encamped for the
night. The fight with the Indians had not driven all thoughts of the
antelopes out of the boys’ minds. And while the train journeyed along
the road, they scoured the prairie, in search of the wished-for game.
The appearance of the “sea of grass,” which stretched away on all
sides, as far as their eyes could reach, not a little surprised them.
Instead of the perfectly level plain they had expected to see, the
surface of the prairie was broken by gentle swells, like immense waves
of the ocean, and here and there--sometimes two or three days’ journey
apart--were small patches of woods, called “oak openings.”

One night they made their camp in sight of the Rocky Mountains. While
the trapper was cooking their supper, he said to the boys, who had
thrown themselves on the ground near the wagon:

“It aint fur from here that me an’ ole Bill Lawson lost that wagon
train. I never travel along here that I don’t think of that night, an’
I sometimes feel my cap rise on my head, jest as it did when them
Injuns come pourin’ into the camp. But the varlets have been pushed
back further an’ further, an’ now a feller’s as safe here as he would
be in Fort Laramie. The ole bar’s hole aint more’n fifty mile from
here, an’ if your uncle don’t mind the ride, I should like to show you
the cave that has so often sarved me fur a hidin’-place.”

The boys looked toward Mr. Winters, who, having frequently heard the
guide speak of the “ole bar’s hole,” felt some curiosity to see it.
So, after being assured by both the trappers that there was no danger
to be apprehended, he gave his consent, remarking:

“We are in no hurry. I don’t suppose there is any possibility of being
lost so long as we have Dick and Bob for guides; so we will go there,
and take a week’s rest and a hunt.”

The boys were delighted, and the next morning, when the train resumed
its journey, the emigrants were not a little surprised to see Mr.
Winters’ wagon moving off by itself.

That night, when our travelers encamped, they were thirty miles from
the train, and about the same distance from the “ole bar’s hole.” The
mountains were plainly visible, and the boys could scarcely believe
that they were nearly a day’s journey distant. They were certain that
a ride of an hour or two would bring them to the willows that skirted
their base.

“’T aint the fust time I’ve seed fellers fooled ’bout sich things,”
said Dick. “Do you see that ’ar high peak?” he continued, pointing to
a single mountain that rose high above the others. “Wal, thar’s whar
the ole bar’s hole is. If we reach it afore dark to-morrer night, I’ll
agree to set you down in Sacramento in two weeks.”

The boys were still far from being convinced, and they went to sleep
that night fully believing that they would reach the mountains by noon
the next day.


Lost on the Prairie.

The next morning, by the time the sun had risen, the travelers had
eaten their breakfast, and were again on the move. The entire party
was in high spirits. The trappers laughed and joked with each other,
and pointed out to Mr. Winters the familiar objects that met their eye
on every side, while the boys galloped on before, and in a few moments
had left the wagon far behind. Their horses were in excellent trim,
and bounded along over the prairie as if some of their riders’ spirits
had been infused into them.

“I say, Frank,” said Archie, at length, suddenly drawing in his rein,
“what if Dick was mistaken about the Indians all being gone, and a
party of Comanches should suddenly pounce down on us? Wouldn’t we be
in a fix? I declare, I see an Indian now,” he added; and, as he
spoke, he pointed toward an object that could be dimly seen moving
along the summit of a distant swell.

“That’s something, that’s a fact,” said Frank, gazing in the direction
indicated; “but it don’t look like that Indian we saw the other day.
If it was a Comanche, he wouldn’t move about and show himself so
plainly. There’s another--and another,” he continued, as several more
objects came over the brow of the hill. “Let us ride up a little
nearer. If they are Indians, we can easily reach the wagon before they
can overtake us.”

“Well, come on,” said Archie. “If we should get into a fight all by
ourselves, and come safely out of it, it would be something to talk
about, wouldn’t it?”

The boys rode cautiously toward the objects, which were still
increasing in number, holding themselves in readiness to beat a hasty
retreat in case they should prove to be Indians, until they had gone
about half a mile, when Frank suddenly exclaimed:

“They are antelopes!”

“Are they?” asked Archie, excitedly. “Let’s shoot one of ’em,” and,
springing from his saddle, he began to unbuckle his halter and hobble
his horse, as he had seen the trapper do on a former occasion.

Frank followed his example, and then, securing their rifles, they
threw themselves on their hands and knees, and began to crawl toward
the game, which was fully a mile and a half distant. But that was no
obstacle to the boys then. They would willingly have gone twice that
far to have a shot at an antelope, if for nothing more than to show
the trapper that they were better hunters than he had supposed. It is
true they did not expect to succeed, but the name “antelope killers”
was well worth trying for, and they determined to do their best. They
crawled along slowly and as carefully as possible, pausing now and
then to look over the grass at the animals, which, to their delight,
they found were feeding directly toward them.

“I don’t think it is safe to go much further,” said Frank, after they
had crawled nearly half the distance in this manner. “Let’s stop and
see what we can do.”

“Well,” said Archie. “If you will hold up your handkerchief on your
ramrod, I’ll try and shoot one of them, if they come near enough.”

Frank, in compliance with his cousin’s suggestion, drew his ramrod
from his gun, fastened his handkerchief to it, and, throwing himself
upon his back, carefully raised it above the grass. While in this
position he could not, of course, see the movements of the game; but
Archie kept vigilant watch, and at length whispered:

“They see it! They’re coming!”

The animals had, in reality, caught sight of the handkerchief, and,
after regarding it for a few moments, they began to approach it--a
fine large buck leading the way.

Now the boys knew that the hunt began in earnest. The least awkward
movement on their part--the exposure of the smallest portion of their
bodies, or the slightest noise in the grass--might, as Archie
expressed it, “knock the whole thing in the head.” Frank lay perfectly
quiet, watching the movements of his cousin; and he could tell, by the
expression of his countenance, pretty near what the game was doing.
When the antelopes stopped--which they did every few feet--Archie put
on an exceedingly long face, as if fearful that they were about to
turn and run; and when they approached, the fact would be indicated by
a broad grin and a nervous twitching at the lock of his gun. For
fully half an hour--it seemed much longer to the impatient boys--they
remained in their place of concealment; but at length their patience
was rewarded, for the game was within easy rifle range. In an instant
Archie’s nervousness all vanished, and Frank almost held his breath
when he saw him slowly, inch by inch, raise his gun to his shoulder.
He took a long, steady aim, pulled the trigger, and sprung from the
ground, shouting:

“I’ve got him! I’ve got him!”

Frank was on his feet almost as soon as his cousin, and, to his
delight, saw the leader of the antelopes struggling on the ground,
while the rest of the herd were scampering away at the top of their

“What will Dick and Bob say now?” exclaimed Archie, who skipped about
as though he were almost beside himself. “What will they--hold
on--hold on--shoot him, Frank!” he shouted. “We’re going to lose him
after all.”

Archie’s shot had not been fatal. The buck was only disabled for a
moment, and, after a few struggles, he succeeded in regaining his
feet, and started to run. Had his cousin been as excited as he was,
they certainly would have had all their trouble for nothing, for
Archie, instead of stopping to reload, dropped his gun and started in
pursuit of the wounded animal, which--although he ran but slowly--was
fast leaving him behind, when Frank, by an excellent shot, again
brought him to the ground. This time the wound was fatal; but Archie,
to put all further attempts at escape out of the question, ran up and
seized the buck by the horns.

“He’s done for now,” said Frank, as he proceeded to reload his rifle;
“I shot him through the head.”

“I see you did,” replied his cousin, still retaining his hold upon the
antelope; “but there’s no knowing what he might do. I wouldn’t trust
him.” And it was not until he had turned the deer over several times,
and fully satisfied himself that he had ceased to breathe, that Archie
released him.

“What will Dick and Bob say now?” he continued, as Frank came up, and
they began to examine their prize, which was much larger than the one
the trapper had killed. “You know they said we couldn’t shoot an
antelope. Now, the next thing is to get him back to the wagon. He’s
too heavy for us to carry, so if you’ll stay here, and watch him and
keep the wolves off, I’ll go back and get the horses.”

Frank agreed to this arrangement, and Archie, after he had found and
reloaded his gun, started off after the horses. He was gone almost two
hours--so long that Frank began to be uneasy; but at length he
appeared, riding post-haste over a neighboring swell, mounted on
Sleepy Sam, and leading Pete by the bridle. As soon as he came within
speaking distance, he exclaimed, with blanched cheeks:

“Frank, we’re lost! I can’t see the wagon any where.”

“Don’t be uneasy,” replied his cousin, who, although thoroughly
alarmed by this announcement, appeared to be perfectly unconcerned.
“Don’t be uneasy.”

“But I haven’t seen the wagon since we left it this morning,”
persisted Archie. “I thought it was close behind us. I tell you we’re

“Oh no, I guess not,” answered Frank, as he lifted the antelope from
the ground and placed it on the saddle before his cousin. “The wagon
is no doubt behind some of these hills. Besides, Uncle James won’t be
long in hunting us up.”

“I wouldn’t stay alone on the prairie to-night for any thing,” said
Archie. “I know it wouldn’t be the first time I have camped out, but
then there are no wild Indians in the woods about Lawrence.”

Frank had by this time mounted his horse, and together they set out at
a rapid gallop to find the wagon. The mountain which Dick had pointed
out the night before was plainly visible, and the boys determined to
travel toward it with all possible speed, in hopes that they would
overtake their friends before they halted for the night. Frank thought
the wagon could not be far off, and every hill they mounted he gazed
about him as if fully expecting to discover it; but, after riding an
hour without seeing any signs of it, he began to be a good deal of his
cousin’s opinion, that they were lost. But he made no remark, for he
knew that a good deal depended upon keeping up Archie’s courage.

“We have not been gone from the wagon three hours,” said he, “and they
haven’t had time to get very far away from us. We’ll find them behind
some of these swells. Perhaps we’ll be in time to give them a piece of
our antelope for dinner.”

Archie made no reply, for he derived no encouragement from this; but
he silently followed his cousin, who led the way at a rapid gallop,
riding over this swell, and turning round that, as though he was
perfectly familiar with the ground over which they were traveling. For
two long hours they kept on in this way, almost without speaking, each
time they mounted a hill straining their eyes in every direction, in
the hope of discovering the wagon. Sometimes they were almost certain
they saw its white cover in the distance; but upon taking a second
look, it proved to have been merely a creation of their imagination;
and Frank began to be discouraged. To add to their discomfort, the
heat was almost intolerable, and they began to be tortured with
thirst. Their animals also appeared to be suffering, for they paid
less attention to the spur, and were constantly jerking at the reins,
and endeavoring to go in a direction almost contrary to that which the
boys desired. The hours seemed lengthened into ages, and at three
o’clock in the afternoon they had seen no signs of the wagon, and the
mountains appeared to be as far off as ever.

“There’s no use talking,” said Archie, at length, reining in his
horse, “I can’t stand this any longer, I’m so thirsty.”

“But what else can we do?” asked Frank, in a husky voice, for his
tongue was so parched that he could scarcely talk plainly. “We can’t
find our friends, or water either, by staying here. We _must_ go on.”

As he spoke, he again spurred his horse into a gallop, Archie, as
before, following after him, now and then looking down at the
antelope, which lay across his saddle--and which he considered to be
the cause of all their trouble--as though he heartily wished him safe
among the others of the herd. Two miles more were passed, but still no
signs of water. The idea of finding the wagon had now given away to a
desire to discover some stream where they might quench their thirst,
which was becoming almost unbearable. But the dry, parched prairie
stretched away on each side of them, while in front loomed the
mountains, apparently as distant as when they started in the morning.
Their horses grew more and more restive. Upon applying the spur, they
would gallop for a few yards, and then settle down into a slow walk,
turning their heads and pulling at the reins as if anxious to go in a
contrary direction. This set Frank to thinking. He had often read of
the remarkable sagacity sometimes displayed by the horse--how the
animal had been known to carry his lost rider safely into the midst of
his friends--and, turning to his cousin, he exclaimed:

“Archie, I’m going to let Pete take his own course. Both the horses
want to go back, so let’s see where they will take us to. We can’t be
in a much worse fix than we are now.”

As he spoke, he threw the reins on his horse’s neck, and the animal,
finding himself at liberty, at once turned, and, pricking up his ears,
galloped off exactly at right angles with the course they had been
pursuing. Archie, too dispirited to raise any objections, followed his
cousin’s example, and the old buffalo hunter, which, during the last
two hours, had traveled with his head down, as if scarcely able to
take another step, snuffed the air and bounded off at a rapid pace.
For an hour the animals tore along at a tremendous rate; but
discovering no signs of the wagon, Frank was rapidly losing faith in
the sagacity of his horse, when, as they came suddenly around the base
of a swell, they found before them a long line of willows. Toward this
the animals made their way with increased speed, carrying their riders
through the trees into a stream of clear, running water.


The Trapper’s Reminiscence.

The horses did not stop on the bank, but, in spite of the desperate
efforts of the boys, kept on, until the water reached half way to
their backs. The old buffalo hunter, not satisfied with this,
persisted in lying down; and Archie and the antelope were deposited in
the middle of the stream. Under any other circumstances, the young
hunter would have been angry; but, as it was, the cool bath was most
refreshing after his long ride over the dry prairie, under the hot,
scorching sun; so seizing the antelope, he dragged him to the shore,
leaving his horse to take care of himself.

Thirsty as the boys were, they still retained their presence of mind;
instead of endangering his life by drinking freely of the water,
Archie contented himself with repeatedly bathing his head, while
Frank, who was still in his saddle, reached down and scooped up a few
drops in his hand.

“I say, Frank, isn’t this glorious?” said Archie at length, as he
divested himself of his coat, which he hung upon a limb to dry. “But
it’s lucky that my ammunition is water-proof. If you had been in my
fix, you wouldn’t be able to do much more shooting until we got back
to our wagon. I declare, it’s getting dark. Where do you suppose that
wagon is? If we don’t find it inside of fifteen minutes, we shall have
to camp.”

“Let’s stay here,” said Frank, as he rode his horse out of the water,
and fastened him to a tree. “We must stay somewhere all night, and
this is as good a camping-ground as we can find.”

“If Dick or Bob was here,” said Archie, “I wouldn’t mind it; but I
don’t like the idea of our staying here alone. This is the worst
scrape I was ever in; but if I once get along-side of that wagon
again, I’ll stay there.”

“Oh, you’ve been in worse scrapes than this,” said Frank, who saw that
his cousin was losing heart again.

“I’d like to know when and where?” said Archie, looking up in

“Why, you were in a much more dangerous situation while you were
hanging by that limb, fifty feet from the ground, when you were after
that ’coon that led you such a long chase.”

“I can’t see it,” replied Archie. “I knew that if I got down safe, I
would be among friends, and if I had to camp in the woods there would
be no Comanches or grizzly bears waiting for a chance to jump down on
me. I say, Frank, there _may_ be grizzly bears about here,” and Archie
peered through the trees, reaching rather hurriedly for his gun, as if
fully expecting to see one of those ferocious animals advancing upon
him. “But what are you about?” he continued, as he saw Frank removing
the saddle from his horse.

“I’m getting ready to camp,” replied Frank, coolly.

Archie at first strongly objected to this, but Frank finally carried
the day, by assuring him that it was the much better plan to “take
matters easy,” and wait for daylight, when they would again set out.
Besides, if they traveled in the dark, they might go miles out of
their way. Archie, although not convinced, finally agreed to his
cousin’s proposition, remarking:

“If you were in the fourth story of a burning house, I wonder if you
wouldn’t talk of taking matters easy?”

It was settled then that they should remain where they were for the
night, and they began to make preparations accordingly. Archie’s horse
was relieved of the saddle, and, after both the animals had been led
on to the prairie, they were hobbled and left to graze. Frank then
began to skin and dress the buck, while Archie gathered a supply of
wood, and kindled a fire. In half an hour several slices of venison
were broiling on the coals, and the boys were lying before the fire,
talking over the events of the day, and wondering what Dick and Bob
would say when they learned that their “youngsters” had killed an
antelope, when they were startled by a well-known bark, and the next
moment Useless came bounding through the trees into the very center of
the camp, where he frisked and jumped about with every demonstration
of joy. The boys had scarcely recovered from their alarm, when they
heard a familiar voice exclaim:

“Bar an’ buffaler! You keerless fellers!” and the trapper came
through the willows with long, impatient strides.

The boys were always glad to see Dick, but words are too feeble to
express the joy they felt at his sudden and wholly unexpected
appearance. For a moment they seemed to have lost the power of speech.

The trapper glanced hastily from one to the other, took in at a glance
the preparations for the night, and, dropping the butt of his rifle
heavily to the ground, again ejaculated:

“You keerless fellers!”

“What’s the matter, Dick?” asked Archie, whose spirits were now as
exalted as they had before been depressed. “We’re all right. Sit down
and have some supper.”

“Youngsters,” said the trapper, seating himself on the ground, and
depositing his rifle beside him, “I jest knowed I would find you all
right. Now, tell me whar have you been, an’ what a doin’?”

“Do you see that?” exclaimed Archie, jumping up and pointing to the
remains of the antelope, which Frank had hung up on a tree. “Do you
see it? You said we couldn’t kill a prong-horn, but we’ve done it.”

The boys then proceeded to recount their adventures, telling the
trapper how they had killed the antelope, of their long ride under the
scorching sun, and how at last their horses had brought them to the
water--to all of which the trapper listened with amazement, and
feelings of admiration that he could not disguise.

“Wal,” said he, when they had concluded, “I won’t tell you to try it
over ag’in, ’cause you can’t allers be so lucky.”

“What did uncle say?” inquired Archie, who was rather apprehensive of
a “lecture.”

“Oh, he knowed as how thar war no Injuns to massacre you, an’ when we
camped fur noon, I heered him say, ‘I wonder what the boys have got
fur dinner?’ I knowed me and Useless could easy find you. That ar dog
knowed jest as well that I war arter you as I did myself.”

“Well,” said Frank, “whenever you get ready, we’ll go back to the

“To camp!” repeated the trapper. “Haint you rid fur enough yet? Can
you stand twenty miles more to-night?”

“Twenty miles!” echoed both the boys, in surprise.

“Sartin! You’re further away from the ole bar’s hole now than you were
last night.”

The young hunters were astonished. Although they had had the Rocky
Mountains for a guidepost, they had been completely turned round, and
had actually traveled ten miles back toward St. Joseph.

“That’s what comes of not knowin’ nothin’ ’bout the prairy!” continued
the trapper, helping himself to a piece of the venison. “But we’ll
stay here to-night, an’ strike fur camp in the mornin’.”

The boys were very well satisfied with this arrangement, for their
long ride had wearied them, and Archie was willing to brave grizzly
bears, so long as he was in Dick’s company.

After supper--which consisted of venison, without bread or coffee--the
trapper lighted his pipe with a brand from the fire, and, settling
back on his elbow, said:

“I’ve seed the time, youngsters, when it wouldn’t a been healthy fur
you two fellers to be out here alone. I’ve seed that prairy a’most
black with Comanches, an’ have heered ’em yellin’ among these ere very
willows. If you had been settin’ whar you are now ’bout fifteen year
ago, you would have seed me goin’ through these trees, an’ swimmin’
that ar creek, with a hul tribe of yellin’ an’ screechin’ red-skins
clost to my heels. I showed your uncle, this mornin’, the very place
whar I onct run the gauntlet of more’n a hundred Comanches. I tell
you, youngsters, I know every foot of this ground. Many a time me an’
poor ole Bill Lawson have skrimmaged with the Injuns through here,
when it war more’n a feller’s har war wuth to come to this creek arter
a drink o’ water. But I told you ’bout runnin’ the gauntlet. The way
it happened war this:

“’Bout fifteen year ago, me an’ ole Bill Lawson war trappin’ among the
mountains, twenty-five miles from the ole bar’s hole. We, in course,
had fine sport, ’cause me an’ ole Bill allers knowed whar to go to
find the best trappin’ grounds; an’, by the time spring opened, we had
as much spelter as we could tote away on our backs. It war gettin’
purty nigh time fur the Comanches to come round on their spring hunt,
an’ we began to talk of leavin’; but thar war plenty of beaver left in
the valley, an’ we didn’t like to go so long as thar war any game to
trap, so we kept puttin’ it off, an’ when at last we did start, it
war too late to get off with our plunder.

“One mornin’, jest at daylight, while I war in front of the shantee
cookin’ my breakfast, ole Bill come in from ’tendin’ to his traps, an’

“‘Dick, the valley’s chuck full o’ red-skins. I jest seed more sign
down by the creek than I ever seed afore ’bout this place, an’ that’s
sayin’ a good deal. We had better shoulder our spelter an’ be off to

“I didn’t stop to think any more ’bout breakfast jest then, but I ran
into the shantee, grabbed my furs, which I allers kept tied up ready
for a move, an’ me an’ ole Bill started out. The Injuns must have come
in durin’ the night, ’cause the day afore thar warn’t a bit of sign to
be seed fur ten miles ’round the valley. But we didn’t stop then to
think how or when they got in, but how should we get out. It warn’t no
easy thing to do, youngsters--to go through them mountains, swarmin’
with red-skins. They don’t walk through the woods like a feller does
when he’s squirrel huntin’, but they go sneakin’ round, an’ listenin’,
an’ peepin’; an’ if a chap don’t understand their natur, he’d better
not go among ’em.

“Wal, ole Bill led the way, sometimes a’most on his knees, his rifle
in his hand, an’ his bundle of furs on his shoulder, I followin’ clost
at his heels--both of us keepin’ our eyes open, an’ stoppin’ now an’
then to listen. We had made ’bout a mile up the mountain in this way,
when, all to onct, ole Bill stopped and looked straight before him. I
stopped, too, an’ seed three big Comanches comin’ along easy like,
lookin’ at the ground, examinin’ the bushes, an’ whisperin’ to each
other. They had found a trail that either me or ole Bill had made the
day afore, an’ war tryin’ to foller it up. But me an’ the ole man
warn’t the ones to leave a path that could be follered easy when we
thought thar war red-skins ’round; an’ I guess it bothered them
rascals some to tell which way we had gone, an’ how many thar war of
us. But they did foller it up slowly, an’ while we war lookin’ at ’em
they were jined by another Injun, who seemed to be a chief, for he
whispered a few orders, an’ two of the Comanches made off. They had
been sent to rouse the camp, an’ we knowed that we couldn’t get away
from that valley any too fast. The red-skins warn’t more’n a hundred
yards from us, an’ we knowed it would take mighty keerful movin’ to
get away from them without bein’ diskivered. But it war life or death
with us, an’ we began to crawl slowly through the bushes. A greenhorn
couldn’t have heered a leaf rustle if he hadn’t been two foot from us;
but thar’s a heap of difference atween a greenhorn’s ears an’ them
that a Injun carries. But they didn’t hear us, fur as long as we war
in sight we seed them still follerin’ up the ole trail; an’ as soon as
we thought we had got out of hearin’ of them, we jumped to our feet
an’ run like a pair of quarter hosses. We didn’t make no more noise
than we could help, but we hadn’t gone fur afore the mountains echoed
with the war-whoop, an’ a couple of arrers whizzed by our heads. The
Injuns had diskivered us. In course, we both dropped like a flash of
lightnin’, an’, while I war lookin’ round to find the varlets, ole
Bill struck out his hand, sayin’:

“‘This is a bad scrape, Dick, an’ mebbe me an’ you have done our last
trappin’ together. But we musn’t get ketched if we can help it, ’cause
we couldn’t look fur nothin’ but the stake.’

“While the ole man war speakin’, I seed one of the rascals that had
shot at us peepin’ out from behind a log. He didn’t show more’n two
inches of his head, but that war enough, an’ I reckon that red-skin
lay thar till his friends toted him off. Jest the minit I fired, ole
Bill throwed down his furs, jumped to his feet, an’ run, an’ I done
the same, although I did hate to leave that spelter that I had worked
so hard fur all winter. But, in course, thar war no help fur it. Thar
war plenty more beaver in the mountains, an’, if I got safe off, I
knowed whar to go to find ’em; but if I lost my scalp, I couldn’t get
another. So, as I war sayin’, I put arter the ole man, an’ jest then I
heered something ’sides a arrer sing by my head. It war a bullet, an’
the chap that sent it warn’t sich a bad shot neither; fur, if I had
the ole ’coon-skin cap I wore then, I could show you whar a piece of
it war cut out. I didn’t stop to look fur the feller, howsomever, but
kept on arter ole Bill, loadin’ my rifle as I ran. The woods war so
thick we couldn’t keep clost together, an’ I soon lost sight of him;
but that didn’t skeer me, fur I knowed he could take keer of his own
bacon. As fur myself, I never yet seed the Injun, or white man either,
that could ketch me, if I onct got a leetle start of him; an’ if all
the Injuns in the mountains war _behind_ me, I could laugh at ’em. But
thar war some in front of me, as I found out afore I had gone fur. I
had jest got my rifle loaded, an’ war settlin’ down to my work--makin’
purty good time, I reckon, the Injuns behind me yellin’ an’ hootin’
all the while--when, all to onct, up jumped about a dozen more of the

“I didn’t stop to ax no questions, but sent the nighest of ’em down in
a hurry; but in a minit arterward I war down, too; an’ when I war
pulled to my pins ag’in, I war a pris’ner, my hands bein’ bound behind
me with hickory bark. It warn’t a pleasant sight I seed, youngsters,
as I stood thar, lookin’ at them scowlin’ Injuns. At that day thar war
few of them Comanches that didn’t know me an’ ole Bill, an’ when they
seed who I war, they all set up a yell, an’ began dancin’ ’round me
like mad, shakin’ their tomahawks, an’ pintin’ their rifles an’ arrers
at me; an’ one feller ketched me by the har, an’ passed his knife
’round my head, as though he had half a notion to scalp me to onct.
They kept goin’ on in this way until all the Injuns in that part of
the woods had come up to see what the fuss war ’bout; an’ they, too,
had to go through the same motions. All to onct they happened to think
of ole Bill. The chief set up a shout, an’ all but four of the Injuns
put off on his trail. It showed me, plain enough, that the rascals war
afraid of me, when they left so many to guard me. But no four of them
Comanches would have stopped me from gettin’ away if I could have got
my hands free. I tell you, I done my best, makin’ that tough hickory
bark crack an’ snap, but it war no go--I war fast. As soon as the
others war out of sight, one big feller ketched me by the har, an’
begun to pull me t’wards the camp.

“He didn’t help me along very easy, but dragged me over logs an’
through bushes, as if he meant to pull my head off, while the other
fellers, findin’ nothin’ else to do, follered behind with switches,
that cut through my old huntin’-shirt like a knife. At last, arter
they had got me purty well thrashed, we reached the camp, which war
jest at the foot of the mountains--I’ll show you the place in the
mornin’--an’ here they stood me up ag’in a post. Then I ketched it
from every body--men, women, an’ young ones. The most of the braves
war still out arter the old man, an’ I could easy tell by the way they
whooped an’ yelled that they hadn’t ketched him. I knowed they
wouldn’t get him, neither, unless they surrounded him like they did

“Wal, arter tormentin’ me fur a long time, an’ findin’ that I didn’t
keer fur ’em, the Injuns finally let me alone; an’ one ole dried-up
squaw brought me a piece of buffaler meat. They wouldn’t untie my
hands, but that ole woman sot thar on the ground, an’ fed me like I
war a baby. I eat a heap of that meat, ’cause I war hungry, an’ if I
got a chance to have a race with the varlets, I didn’t want to run on
an empty stomach; ’sides I might have to go without eatin’ fur two or
three days afore I could find ole Bill. Jest afore dark the braves
began to come in, one arter the other. They hadn’t ketched the ole
man, an’ I could see, by the way they scowled at me, that I would have
to stand punishment for his deeds, an’ my own into the bargain. I
could have yelled, when I knowed the old feller war safe, an’ I made
up my mind that if the Injuns would only give me half a chance, I’d
soon be with him ag’in.

“Wal, when the chiefs come in, I war tied fast to the post, and left
thar. They didn’t try to skeer me any more, ’cause they seed it war no
use, an’ ’sides, they wanted to save all their spite fur the mornin’,
fur it war too late to begin bisness that night. I war fast enough--as
fast as if I had been wrapped up in chains--but them Injuns war afraid
to trust me. They actooally kept half a dozen of their braves watchin’
me, from the time it began to grow dark till daylight the next
mornin’. I didn’t sleep very easy, fur I war standin’ ag’in that post,
an’ the bark they had tied me with war drawed so tight that it cut
into my arms; but I made out to git a nap or two, an’ when mornin’
come, an’ I had eat another big chunk of that buffaler meat, I war
ready fur ’em to begin.

“As soon as the sun war up, the chief called a council. It didn’t take
’em long to say what should be done with me, fur sooner than I had
thought fur, one of the chiefs set up a yelp, which war answered by
the hul tribe, an’ men, women, an’ children began formin’ themselves
into two lines, with whips, clubs, tomahawks, or whatever else they
could ketch hold of; an’ two fellers come up to set me free. I war to
run the gauntlet. I tell you, youngsters, if thar is any thing that
will make the har rise on a feller’s head, it is fur him to stand an’
look atween two lines sich as I saw that mornin’. It warn’t the fust
time I had been in jest sich scrapes, an’ I knowed, too, that the
Injuns didn’t mean to kill me then--they wanted to save me for the
stake--but somehow I couldn’t help feelin’ shaky. I didn’t let the
Injuns see it, howsomever, but tightened my belt, stretched my arms,
an’, ’walkin’ out in front of the lines, waited fur the word to start.
The head of the line war t’wards the camp, an’ at the foot, which war
t’wards this creek, stood five or six big fellers, waitin’ to ketch me
when I come out.

“Wal, it didn’t take me long to see how the land lay, an’ when the
chief yelled to let me know that the time had come, I started. The way
I traveled through ’em lines war a thing fur ’em Comanches to look at.
I got plenty of clips as I passed, but this war the only one that hurt

As the trapper spoke, he bared his brawny shoulder, and showed the
boys a long, ragged scar. The wound must have been a most severe one.

“That one,” continued Dick, “war made by a tomahawk. It didn’t hinder
my runnin’, howsomever, an’ I warn’t half a minit comin’ to the end of
’em lines. But when I got thar I didn’t stop. The Injuns that war
waitin’ thar, tried to ketch me, but I passed them like a streak of
lightnin’, an’ drawed a bee-line fur this ere creek. In course the
hul camp war arter me to onct; but I knowed that I war safe, fur all
the Injuns war behind me, an’ I wouldn’t have been afraid to run a
race with a hoss. I didn’t do as well as I had done afore, nor nigh as
well as I could do now, fur I war stiff an’ lame from bein’ tied up so
long; but I run plenty fast enough to git away. As I told you, I run
through these willows, swam the creek--which war wide an’ deep then,
on ’count of the snow an’ ice meltin’--then tuk to the mountains, an’
started to make a circle round to the ole bar’s hole. I traveled in
every little stream I could find; walked on logs, an’ on the second
day, found ole Bill. The ole feller had been mighty down-hearted since
I war ketched--fur the yells of the Injuns plainly told him what had
become of me--an’ had never expected to take me by the hand ag’in.
But, when he seed me safe an’ sound, he sot right down on the ground
an’ cried like a child.

“Wal, we lay ’round the ole bar’s hole till the Injuns had gone, an’
then set out fur the fort. We war on foot, an’ had but one rifle
atween us, but we got through all right, an’ in less’n a month, war on
our way to the mountains ag’in.”


The “Ole Bar’s Hole.”

Next morning, after a hasty breakfast, the boys saddled their horses,
and, led by the trapper, set out to find the wagon. Now it was that
the latter showed the young hunters his extraordinary “travelin’
qualities,” as he expressed it; for as soon as the boys were in their
saddles, he shouldered his rifle and started off, at a rapid pace,
which he did not slacken at all until they arrived on the banks of a
small stream, where they stopped to quench their thirst.

“Now, youngsters,” said the trapper, seating himself on the ground,
and wiping his forehead with his coat sleeve, “There’s the place. The
Comanche’s camp war pitched jest in the edge of them ar’ willows, an’
right where you see them bushes war where I stood afore I started to
run the gauntlet. The chief’s wigwam stood thar then. I tell you, it
warn’t healthy fur a feller to go foolin’ ’round here them days.”

The boys gazed long and earnestly at every object the trapper pointed
out, and listened to his narration of the various incidents that had
transpired during his captivity, until they almost fancied they could
see the prairie covered with painted savages, and their guide, in the
midst of his foes, awaiting the signal to begin his race for life.
Dick, himself, was no less interested, for he sat for a long time
feasting his eyes on every familiar object; now and then casting
suspicious glances toward the distant willows, as if he almost
expected to catch a glimpse of a hostile warrior, or hear the
war-whoop which had so often awoke the echoes of those very mountains.

“Wal, youngsters,” said he, at length, “let’s be movin’! I never
expected to see the time when I could travel over these ere prairies
without bein’ in danger of havin’ my har raised; an’ if you live to be
as old as I am, you’ll see the day that ’em city chaps will ride
through here on ’em steam railroads; an’ if they see this place,
they’ll never dream that such things as I have told you about ever
happened here.”

The travelers again set out, Dick leading the way, at a still more
rapid pace, and in two hours they arrived at the camp. Mr. Winters and
old Bob were lying in the shade of the wagon, and as the boys
approached, the former raised himself on his elbow, and inquired:

“Well, boys, how do you like traveling on your own hook? Do you think
you could find your way to California without a guide?”

“Oh, they war all right!” exclaimed Dick, leaning his rifle against
the wagon, and picking up the antelope skin which Archie had thrown
down, and which contained some choice pieces of meat. “They war all
right! Me and Useless found ’em down on Muddy Creek, Bob. They had
killed this prong-horn, made their camp, an’ war takin’ matters easy
like, as though they had never heered tell on a Comanche--the keerless

While Frank and Archie were unsaddling their horses, the trapper
proceeded to recount their adventures, to which both Mr. Winters and
old Bob listened attentively. The latter was not a little astonished
to learn that the boys could so readily accommodate themselves to
circumstances, and was more firm than ever in his belief that “the
youngsters would make good trappers.”

Mr. Winters had, at first, been considerably alarmed at their absence;
but, upon reflection, he remembered that the boys had often been in
positions fully as dangerous, from which they had always succeeded in
extricating themselves, and he soon fell in with the trapper’s
opinion, that they would “turn up all right.” He did not think it
necessary to caution them, for, from the description the trapper gave
of their adventures, it was not at all probable that they would ever
again be placed in a like situation.

After a hearty dinner, which Dick speedily served up, they again set
out toward the mountains, which they reached about the middle of the
afternoon. After riding along the edge of the willows, for half a
mile, they came to a wide but very shallow stream, into which the
trapper turned, and after following it for some distance, drove out on
the bank and stopped.

“Here we are,” said he, as he climbed down out of his wagon. “Now,
youngsters, you’re at the ole bar’s hole. But if you didn’t know it
war here, you might hunt fur it till your har war whiter nor Bob’s,
an’ then you wouldn’t find it, an’ that wouldn’t be no wonder neither;
fur many a sharpeyed Comanche has looked an’ peeped fur it, but only
one ever found it that I know of, an’ it didn’t do him no good, fur he
never lived to tell of it.”

While the trapper was speaking, old Bob had dismounted from his horse,
and, walking up to a thicket of bushes which grew at the foot of a
high rock that overhung the bed of the stream, began pulling them
aside, and finally disclosed to view an opening that appeared to lead
down into the very bowels of the earth. Meanwhile, Dick had gathered
some dry wood for a torch, and, after lighting it, he backed down into
the hole and disappeared, followed by Frank and Archie, who were
impatient to see the inside of the cave which had so often served
their guide as a secure retreat from his enemies. The passage was long
and winding, and it was with considerable difficulty that the boys
worked their way into it. Besides, it was in some places so narrow
that they could scarcely squeeze themselves through it. The trapper,
however, worked his way along with a celerity that was surprising, and
soon both he and the torch were out of sight, and the boys were left
in pitch darkness. But there was little danger of their being lost in
that narrow passage, and they crawled along as rapidly as possible,
until at length Archie, who was leading the way, stopped, and began to
rub his elbows and knees, which had received some pretty severe
scratches from the sharp rocks.

“I say, Frank,” he exclaimed, “how do you suppose Dick ever squeezed
his broad shoulders through a narrow place like this? What’s that?” he
added, in a terrified voice, as they heard a savage growl, which
seemed to sound directly over their heads.

Frank did not stop to answer, but throwing himself on his hands and
knees, began to make the best of his way out of the passage, closely
followed by his cousin, who urged him to go faster. They had not gone
far when they were startled by the report of a rifle, which was
followed by a roar that echoed and reëchoed through the cave like a
heavy clap of thunder. What it was that had uttered that roar the boys
were unable to determine; but they knew, by the report of the
trapper’s rifle, and the sounds of a fierce struggle that came faintly
to their ears, that Dick had found his old harboring-place occupied
by some animal which did not feel disposed to give up possession; and
they got out of the passage in much less time than it had taken them
to get into it. When they reached the open air, the old trapper, who
had heard the report of his “chum’s” rifle, threw himself on his hands
and knees, and crawled into the cave, followed by Mr. Winters. The
boys at once ran to the wagon after their weapons, but by the time
they had secured them, the fight was ended, and Dick made his
appearance at the mouth of the passage. But he did not look like the
man who had gone into that cave but a few moments before. His
hunting-shirt and leggins were torn almost into shreds, his arms were
bare to his shoulders, and were covered with wounds that were bleeding
profusely. The boys were horrified; but their fears that the trapper
had received serious injury were speedily set at rest, for he smiled
as if nothing had happened, and exclaimed:

“Now you see what it is to be a trapper, youngsters. I shall allers
think that ’ar cave has a good name, fur if me an’ Useless didn’t find
the biggest grizzly bar in thar we ever sot eyes on, then thar aint no
more beaver in the Missouri River.”

As he spoke, he divested himself of what remained of his
hunting-shirt, and walked down to the creek to wash the blood off his
hands and face, in which he was assisted by Mr. Winters. While this
was going on, old Bob crawled out of the cave, carrying two cubs in
his arms, which he presented to the boys, saying:

“Them’s young grizzlies. They don’t look now as if they would ever get
to be as big and fierce as their mother war.”

As the boys took them, they both set up a shrill cry, and fought most
desperately for such small animals, and their sharp little claws left
more than one mark upon the hands and faces of the young hunters.

“Keep an eye open, Bob,” shouted Dick, who was seated on the ground,
while Mr. Winters was bandaging his wounds. “Keep an’ eye open, ’cause
the old man of the family may be ’round.”

Upon hearing this, Archie dropped his cub, and seizing his rifle, cast
anxious glances upon the surrounding woods. But if the father was in
the vicinity, he evidently thought it best to keep out of sight.

When Dick’s wounds had been cared for, and he had put on another suit
of clothes, he seated himself on the ground, near the boys, while Bob
kindled a fire and began preparations for supper.

“It aint allers fun to be a trapper, youngsters,” said Dick, puffing
away at his pipe, “’cause, afore a man can earn that name, he’s got to
go through a heap of skrimmages, like the one I jest had. When I’m on
the prairy, or in the mountains, I allers keep my eyes open, an’ the
fust thing I seed as I crawled out of that passage into that ar’ cave
war that grizzly bar. She seed me, too, and set up a growl, as if to
tell me that I couldn’t get away from thar any too quick; but she
didn’t wink more’n twice afore I sent a chunk of lead into her. The
light of the torch, however, bothered me, an’ I didn’t shoot atween
her eyes, as I meant to; an’ afore a feller could say ‘Gin’ral
Jackson,’ she war comin’ at me. Now, I’ve been in jest such scrapes
afore, an’ the way I’ve got pawed up, an’ seed other fellers that were
bigger and stronger than me, clawed an’ torn, has showed me that no
one man that ever lived is a match fur a full-grown grizzly; an’ when
I seed ole Bob poke his rifle out of the passage an’ draw a bead on
that bar’s head, I’ll allow it made me feel a heap easier. If he had
stayed away five minits longer, I don’t believe I’d ever showed you
the way to Californy. As it war, I got pretty well clawed up.”

This was the way the trapper described the fight in the cave, which
was one of the most desperate he had ever engaged in, as the severe
wounds he had received proved. But he looked upon such things as a
matter of course. He expected to be engaged in many similar fights;
always held himself in readiness for them, and when they were over,
another notch was added to those on the handle of his knife (for Dick
kept a strict account of the number of grizzlies he killed,) and he
had another story to tell by the camp-fire.

After supper, the trappers procured torches, and, accompanied by Mr.
Winters and the boys, proceeded to explore the cave. There, lying
where she had fallen in defense of her young, was the grizzly, which
was the first of these animals the boys had ever seen. As near as they
could judge, she was fully twice the size and weight of the bear Frank
had killed in the woods, and her claws, which she had used with such
effect upon the trapper and his dog, (for, in defending his master,
Useless had been most roughly handled,) measured eight inches in
length. Every thing in the cave bore evidence to the fact that the
fight had been a severe one. The floor and walls were covered with
blood, and on the bear’s body were numerous wounds, made by the knife
of the trapper, and the teeth of the faithful Useless.

After the boys had examined the bear to their satisfaction, old Bob
began to remove the skin, while Dick pointed out other objects of
interest in the cave. There were the withered hemlock boughs which had
many a time served him and Bill Lawson for a bed, and under them was a
hole about two feet square, which the trapper called his “pantry.” He
told Mr. Winters the story of the “struggle in the cave,” and showed
him the passage that led to the top of the hill where the Comanches
had entered, and where he had for two days kept watch, awaiting the
coming of old Bill.

They remained in the cave for an hour, listening to Dick’s stories;
for in his mind the “Ole Bar’s Hole” was associated with many exciting
events, and it was dark before they returned to the camp.


Archie’s Adventure with a Grizzly.

On the following morning the boys, as usual, were up with the sun,
impatient to try their skill on the big game, with which the woods
abounded. The trapper, who, during his fight in the cave, had received
wounds that would have prostrated an ordinary man, was already
stirring, and, having attended to his mules, was moving about as
lively as ever, preparing the morning meal. In a few moments their
breakfast was cooked and eaten, and, after hanging their provisions on
the trees, out of reach of any wild beast that might find his way into
camp during their absence, they shouldered their rifles and followed
the trappers into the forest. Here they divided into two parties, Mr.
Winters going with old Bob, and the boys accompanying Dick.

“Now, youngsters,” said the latter almost in a whisper, “we haint
huntin’ squirrels. We’re arter bigger game. I don’t s’pose you keer
’bout tacklin’ a grizzly bar arter seein’ me pawed up the way I war
last night; so if you happen to come acrosst one of them varmints, you
needn’t mind shootin’ at him. Thar’s plenty other game, an’ what we
want to find now ar’ a big-horn. That’s an animal, I reckon, you never
seed. Go easy, now, ’cause they’ve got ears like a painter’s, an’
noses sharper nor hounds.”

So saying, the trapper led the way through a narrow ravine that lay
between two mountains, whose tops seemed to pierce the clouds. The
ravine, being thickly covered with bushes and logs, rendered their
progress slow and tedious, and the boys, who could not help thinking
what a fine hiding-place it would afford for a bear or panther, often
cast uneasy glances about them, and kept as close to the trapper as
possible. After they had gone about half a mile, the latter suddenly
stopped and said:

“If these yere trees could talk, a’most every one of ’em would have a
story to tell you ’bout me an’ ole Bill Lawson, ’cause we’ve often
come through this gully when it war chuck full of Comanches. You
’member I onct told you ’bout waitin’ at the ole bar’s hole fur him,
an’ that the ole feller had hid the black mustang in the bushes! Wal,
here’s the very spot.”

As the trapper spoke, he pushed his way into a dense thicket, and
showed the boys the sapling to which the old man had tied the horse.

“Wal, that ar’ animal,” continued Dick, “stood here fur two hours
quiet an’ still as a mouse, an’ we tuk him out an’ got safe off
without the varlets bein’ the wiser fur it. All the way through here
we could hear ’em talkin’ to each other, an’--Look thar, youngsters,

Before the boys could look up to see what had attracted the trapper’s
attention, the sharp report of his rifle rung through the gully, and a
queer-looking animal come tumbling down the mountain, landing almost
at their feet. Far up above the tree tops they saw the remainder of
the flock bound over the rocks and disappear.

“That’s a sheep,” said the trapper, hastily reloading his rifle.
“He’ll make a fust rate dinner, an’, if we keep our eyes open, we may
get another.”

The game did bear a close resemblance to sheep, the only difference
being his enormous horns, which looked altogether too large and heavy
for so small an animal to carry. But the trapper did not allow them to
closely examine their prize, for he exclaimed:

“If we want more of ’em fellers, we mustn’t waste no time. But, fust,
we must separate, ’cause the further apart we get, the more likely we
are to have a shot at ’em. Are you afraid to stay here, little un?”

“Of course not,” replied Archie, quickly.

“Wal, then, keep your eyes up the mountain, an’ if you see ’em ag’in,
blaze away. Come on, Frank. I’ll show you whar to stand.”

The latter moved off with Dick, and Archie was left to himself. After
examining the game to his satisfaction, he took up a position where he
could obtain a good view of the side of the mountain, leaned back
against a tree, and impatiently waited for the re-appearance of the
big-horns. In front of him ran a deer path, hard and well-beaten as
any road. It was, no doubt, used as a highway by animals traveling
through the ravine; and Archie now and then directed his gaze up and
down the path, in hopes he might discover some game in that

He had remained in this position for nearly half an hour, when he
_did_ see an animal coming leisurely down the path, about fifty yards
from him. It was an enormous grizzly bear. It did not appear to have
determined upon any thing in particular, for it approached very
slowly, stopping every few feet to snuff the air, and finally seated
itself on its haunches, and proceeded to wash its paws and face, after
the manner of a house cat. Archie had a good view of it. It was nearly
as large as the one the trapper had killed in the cave, and the sight
of its powerful claws, and the frightful array of teeth it exhibited,
made the young hunter shudder. He had not been expecting so formidable
a visitor, and to say that he was frightened would but feebly express
his feelings. He had presence of mind enough, however, to move behind
his tree, out of sight; but still he could not remove his eyes from
the animal, neither could he determine upon any plan to extricate
himself from his unpleasant situation. The grizzly had not yet
discovered him, and Archie had his wits about him sufficiently to note
the fact, that what little wind there was, was blowing from the bear
toward himself. For fully five minutes--it seemed much longer to
Archie--the grizzly sat in the path, sometimes looking lazily about
him, and then licking his jaws like a dog that had just enjoyed a good
meal; and for the same length of time did the young hunter remain
behind his tree watching his movements, and wondering what course he
could pursue to rid himself of his dangerous neighbor. It was not at
all probable that the bear would remain in that position until the
trapper returned. What if he should take it into his head to come
further down the path? Archie would certainly be discovered, for the
path run close by the tree, behind which he was concealed, and what
would the bear do then? It was something he did not like to think
about. He knew, from what he had heard the trapper say, that the
grizzly’s disposition is very different from that of the black bear.
The latter, unless rendered desperate by hunger, will generally take
to his heels at the sight of a human being; but the grizzly looks upon
all who invade his dominions as enemies, and believes in punishing
them accordingly.

These thoughts passed rapidly through Archie’s mind, and in a moment
more his resolve was taken. Keeping his eyes fastened on the bear, he
cautiously raised his hand above his head, and, to his joy, found that
he could easily reach the lowest limbs of the tree, and that they were
strong enough to sustain his weight. But it was not his intention to
leave the grizzly in peaceable possession of the field; for, as soon
as he had satisfied himself that he had found a way of escape, he
cocked his rifle and cautiously raised it to his shoulder. He was
trembling violently, but at length he succeeded in quieting his nerves
sufficiently to cover the bear’s head with the sight and pull the
trigger. The grizzly, however, arose to his feet just as Archie fired,
and the ball, instead of finding a lodgment in his brain, entered his
shoulder. It brought him to the ground, and Archie caught one glimpse
of him struggling in the path, and heard his growls of rage and pain,
as he dropped his rifle and swung himself into the lowest branches of
the tree.

It was evident that the bear meant to take ample revenge on him, for
Archie heard him coming up the path. But he knew that the grizzly
could not climb, and, after settling himself among the branches, he
looked down at his enemy in perfect security. The bear knew where he
had gone, for he ran directly to the foot of the tree, and, after
smelling at the rifle and pawing it out of his way, he began walking
up and down the path, all the while uttering those terrific growls,
that made the young hunter tremble.

At this moment Archie heard the report of a rifle far up the mountain,
which was quickly followed by another that sounded nearer. Then came a
crashing in the bushes, as the big-horns fled before the hunters, and
Archie heard his companions shouting to him:

“Look out, down there,” said Frank; “they’re running directly toward
you, Archie.”

“Keep your eyes open, youngster,” chimed in Dick. “Don’t let ’em go by

But Archie was not in a situation to intercept them, and he heard the
big-horns dash across the ravine and bound up the mountain on the
opposite side, closely followed by the dog, which barked fierce and
loud at every jump.

“Archie, why don’t you shoot?” again shouted Frank, his voice sounding
as though he was coming down the mountain.

“I can’t,” answered Archie. “Look out! Don’t come down here. I’m treed
by a grizzly.”

“By a grizzly?” repeated Frank, in astonishment. “Has he hurt you?”

“No,” shouted Archie, from his tree, “I am all right; but I hurt him,
I guess. Look out, Frank! he’s going toward you.”

This was a fact. The grizzly had stood perfectly still under the tree,
listening to the sounds of the chase, until, finding that he could not
reach Archie, he determined to revenge himself upon some one else. He
had not gone far before Useless, having overtaken and killed a
big-horn that his master had wounded, came up, and, discovering the
grizzly, instantly gave chase. The bear, maddened by the pain of his
wound, advanced with open mouth to meet him; but the dog, easily
eluding his attacks, kept him busy until the trapper arrived, and put
an end to the fight by shooting the bear through the head. Archie had
watched the struggle from his perch, and, seeing that the grizzly was
dead, he came down out of his tree, feeling very much relieved.

“You keerless feller!” exclaimed the trapper, “didn’t I tell you not
to mind shootin’ at a grizzly bar?”

By this time Frank had come up with a big-horn on his shoulder, and,
after having regained his rifle, Archie gave them an account of what
had transpired.

“Wal,” said the trapper, “it war keerless to go a foolin’ with a bar
that ar’ way. Now, you stay here, an’ I’ll go an’ get that big-horn
that Useless killed.”

The dog, as if understanding what was said, led his master to the
place where he had left the game. When the trapper returned, he
removed the skin of the grizzly, intending to cure it, and give it to
Archie to remember his “keerlessness by,” as he said. After which,
they shouldered their game and returned to camp.


Hanging a Bear.

When they arrived at the wagon, they found Mr. Winters and old Bob
eating their dinner. Although not as fortunate as Dick’s party, they
had not returned empty-handed, for the old trapper had killed a
big-horn, and Mr. Winters had knocked over a large gray wolf. Thinking
that Frank might want the skin of the latter to mount in his museum,
he had taken it off very carefully, and stretched it on a frame to

Archie’s adventure with the grizzly was duly discussed, and, for an
hour after dinner, the boys sat by the fire listening to the trapper’s
stories. But they could not long endure this inactivity--there was “no
fun in it,” as Archie said--so they saddled their horses and set out
for a ride over the prairie. They were not after game this time. If
they had been, it is not at all probable they would have discovered
any, for they raced their horses over the swells, and shouted loud
enough to frighten all the animals for a mile around. About the middle
of the afternoon they grew tired of their ride, and turned their
horses toward the camp. As they rode slowly along, about half a mile
from the willows that skirted the base of the mountains, Archie, who,
as usual, was leading the way, suddenly drew up his horse, exclaiming:

“See there, Frank! There’s another of the varmints!”

Frank looked toward the willows, and saw a large grizzly bear, seated
on his haunches, regarding them as if not at all concerned about their

“We’re safe now, Archie,” said he, as soon as he had satisfied himself
that the bear had not the slightest intention of seeking safety in
flight. “A grizzly can’t outrun a horse, so let’s shoot at that

“I--I--believe I’d rather not meddle with him,” answered his cousin,
shrugging his shoulders. “I say, let him alone if he lets us alone.
What if our horses should get frightened and throw us? Wouldn’t we be
in a fix? But I’ll shoot at him from here.”

“Why, it’s too far,” said Frank. “I am going up nearer.” As he spoke,
he put his horse into a gallop and rode toward the bear, which was
still seated in the edge of the willows. Archie did not at all like
the idea of provoking a fight with the animal; but, after a moment’s
hesitation, he followed his cousin. There might be no danger after
all, he thought, for that bear certainly could not catch Sleepy Sam.
The grizzly still kept his seat, closely watching the movements of the
hunters, and once or twice he seemed inclined to advance on them; but,
after walking a few steps, he again seated himself, as if to await
their approach.

The boys had gone but a short distance, when their horses discovered
the animal, and Pete at once stopped, and refused to go any further.
He had evidently had some experience in bear hunting, for the sight of
the animal seemed to terrify him. Words had more effect than the
spurs, for when Frank spoke encouragingly to him, he would advance a
few steps, and then, as if suddenly recalling his former experience,
he would hastily retreat. In this way, he succeeded in getting
further and further away from the bear, instead of going toward it.
Archie now took the lead, in hopes that his cousin could induce his
horse to follow the old buffalo hunter; but Pete utterly refused to go
any nearer, and Frank at length dismounted and prepared to risk a shot
at the bear at long range. The animal accepted this as a challenge,
for he arose to his feet, growling savagely, and made toward the boys
at a rate of speed that astonished them.

When Frank dismounted, he was careful to retain a firm hold of Pete’s
bridle, for the actions of the horse plainly indicated that, if left
to himself, he would take to his heels, and get as far as possible
away from the dangerous neighborhood. When he saw that the bear was
coming toward him, he snorted and plunged, rendering it impossible for
Frank to shoot; and, in fact, the latter had no desire to do so, when
he found that the grizzly was about to assume the offensive. His first
thought was to remount; but the horse was so terrified that he would
not stand still long enough for Frank to place his foot in the

“Hurry up, there!” exclaimed Archie, excitedly. “The rascal is coming
fast. He means fight, sure enough.”

Pete evidently thought so too, for he reared and plunged worse than
ever, pulling Frank about over the prairie in spite of all he could
do. Suddenly there was a loud snap, and the bridle, broken close to
the bit, was violently pulled through Frank’s hand. The next moment
Pete had disappeared behind a swell. For an instant the cousins gazed
at each other in dismay. On foot, Frank could not hope to escape from
the bear, which, in spite of his clumsy appearance, was making his way
toward them with surprising rapidity; neither could he disable him by
a shot from his rifle. Before, he had been as cool and collected as he
possibly could be, for he knew that he had a way of escape. But Pete
seemed to have carried the last particle of his master’s courage away
with him, for Frank’s hand trembled so violently that he knew it would
be useless to fire at the bear. But still there was a chance for
escape, and Archie was the first to think of it.

“Frank!” he exclaimed, “there’s only one way now--jump up behind me.”

His cousin was prompt to act upon the suggestion, and Sleepy Sam,
in answer to a thrust from his master’s spurs, carried them both
toward the camp at a rapid gallop.


They no longer thought of fighting the grizzly; their only desire was
to reach the old bear’s hole as soon as possible, and procure the
assistance of the trappers. They both thought that the animal would
soon abandon the chase, and their only fear was, that before they
could reach the camp and acquaint Dick with what had transpired, the
bear would be safe among the mountains. But they soon discovered their
mistake. The grizzly steadily followed them, and, although Sleepy Sam
made excellent time for a horse encumbered with a double load, gained
at every step. But they were rapidly nearing the old bear’s hole, and,
at length, the boys saw their uncle and the trappers ride out of the
willows. Dick was mounted on Frank’s horse. The animal, when he found
himself at liberty, had made straight for camp, and his appearance
there, without his rider, occasioned no little surprise and alarm.
Dick, as usual, predicted that “Frank warn’t a bit hurt. He would be
sartin to turn up all right.” But still he did not know but the young
hunter had got himself into “some scrape,” in which he would need
assistance, and agreed with Mr. Winters that it would be best to hunt
him up. The latter was fast falling in with the trapper’s opinion,
that his nephews were “’bout the keerlessest chaps agoin’;” and
although he knew that they always succeeded in bringing themselves
“safe out of all their scrapes,” he felt considerably relieved, when
he saw that Sleepy Sam had carried them out of reach of the claws of
the grizzly.

Archie, when he found that assistance was at hand, stopped and faced
the bear, intending to try a shot at him. But the trappers galloped
toward them, Dick shouting, “Hold on thar, you keerless feller; me an’
Bob’ll take him off your hands. We’ll show you how they hunt bars in
Mexico. We’ll hang the varmint.”

The trapper swung a lasso above his head, as he spoke, and brought it
down across Pete’s sides, in a way that made the spirited animal
prance in the most lively manner. The horse was still unwilling to
approach the bear; but he knew full well that he carried a rider who
was able to enforce obedience.

The grizzly stopped for a moment when he saw these new enemies
approaching, then he rushed toward old Bob, who was in advance of his
companion. But he was met by the trapper’s dog, which attacked him
with such fury that the bear was obliged to stop and defend himself.
Old Bob rode in a circle around the combatants, holding his lasso in
his hand all ready for a throw, and yelling with all the strength of
his lungs to encourage the dog. Dick was making desperate efforts to
join his companion, but his horse stopped about a hundred yards from
the bear, and stubbornly refused to go nearer. His rider, resolved to
have his own way, beat him most unmercifully with his lasso, and, as
the horse appeared to be equally determined, the boys were unable to
decide how the battle would end. All this while Useless had kept up
the contest with the bear, and the animal finding that he could not
elude his attacks, rose on his haunches and struck at the dog with his
paws. Old Bob had been waiting for this. Swinging his lasso around his
head, he launched it at the bear, and as the noose settled down about
his neck, he turned his horse and galloped off. The next moment there
was a heavy thud, a smothered growl of rage, and the grizzly was
prostrate on the prairie. He, however, quickly regained his feet,
and, disregarding the attacks of the dog, rushed with open mouth
toward old Bob. Now was the time for Dick. Having, at last, been
whipped into obedience, Pete gamely approached the bear, and, in an
instant more, the grizzly was powerless. Dick was on one side of him,
old Bob on the other; and their lassos were drawn so taut he could not
turn either way. If he attempted to attack Bob, he was checked by
Dick; and if he rushed upon the latter, old Bob’s lasso stopped him.
The grizzly’s struggles were desperate; his growls terrific. He tore
at the lassos with his claws, and exerted all his tremendous strength
to break the rawhide ropes, which were drawn as tight as a
bow-string. But the conflict, desperate as it was, lasted only a short
time. The grizzly’s struggles grew weaker, his growls fainter, and
finally he sank on the prairie dead. The trappers slackened up their
lassos, and Mr. Winters and the boys, who had closely watched this
singular contest, rode up to examine their prize.

“Thar’s your bar, you keerless fellers,” said Dick. “If you don’t let
these yere varmints alone, you’ll git yourselves in a bad scrape, one
of these days, now, I tell you. A grizzly don’t wait fur a feller to
walk up an’ shake his fist in his face, an’ say, ‘Do ye want to
fight?’ He b’lieves in makin’ war on every one he sees.”

“We know that!” replied Archie. “This fellow made at us before we got
near enough to shoot at him.”

“Then you did mean to fight him, did you?” asked the trapper, as he
and old Bob began to skin the bear. “Wal, it aint every feller that
would keer ’bout meddlin’ with a grizzly so long as the critter let
him alone. I’ve seed trappers--an’ brave ones, too--that would
shoulder their we’pons an’ walk off if they happened to come acrost a
bar. It aint allers fun to hang a grizzly, neither; fur if your hoss
falls down, or your lasso breaks, you’re a’most sartin to go under.
I’ve seed more ’n one poor chap pawed up ’cause his hoss warn’t quick
enough to git out of the varmint’s reach.”

In this way the trapper talked to the boys until the skin of the
grizzly was taken off, when the travelers returned to their camp. As
Archie remarked, it had been “a great day for bears,” and the evening
was appropriately passed in listening to the stories the trappers
related of their adventures with these animals.


A Buffalo Hunt.

The next morning, after breakfast, the boys seated themselves by the
fire, and while Frank mended his bridle, which Pete had broken the day
before, Archie was endeavoring to conjure up some plan for the day’s
amusement. Even in that country, which abounded with game, the boys
were at a loss how to pass the time, for the grizzlies had interfered
with their arrangements considerably. If they went hunting in the
mountains, they might come across another bear; and their recent
experience with those animals had shown them that the hunters were
sometimes the hunted. They had no desire for further adventures with
the monsters, and they had at last decided that they would take a
gallop over the prairie, when they were startled by the clatter of
horses’ hoofs in the creek, and old Bob--who, at daylight, had
started out on a “prospecting” expedition--galloped into camp,
breathless and excited. The boys very naturally cast their eyes toward
the prairie, to see if he were not followed by a grizzly; but the
sight of one of those animals never affected the old trapper in that
manner. He had seen what he considered larger and more profitable

“Dick,” he exclaimed, drawing up his horse with a sudden jerk--“Dick,
have some buffaler hump for dinner?”

“Sartin,” replied the trapper, hastily rising to his feet, and
throwing away his pipe. “In course. Saddle up to onct, youngsters.
We’ll have some game now as is game.”

The announcement that there is a herd of buffaloes in the vicinity,
always creates an uproar in a hunter’s camp, and there was no
exception to the rule this time. The boys had never seen the trapper
so eager; and even Mr. Winters, generally so cool and deliberate, was
not so long in saddling his horse as usual. This, of course, had an
effect upon the boys; but, as is always the case, their hurry
occasioned them a considerable loss of time. Archie could not find his
bridle, and Frank, in his eagerness, broke his saddle-girth; and, to
increase their excitement, the others, as soon as they had saddled
their horses (Dick rode one of the mules) and secured their weapons,
rode off, leaving them alone. Archie, after a lengthy search, found
his bridle in the wagon, and Frank at last succeeded in mending his
saddle-girth with a piece of buckskin. The boys’ rifles stood together
against a tree, close by, with all the accouterments hanging to the
muzzles. Frank’s being a common “patch” rifle, he, of course, had a
powder-horn and bullet pouch, while Archie carried the ammunition for
his breech-loader in a haversack. The latter was ready first, and
hastily seizing the gun that came first to his hand, secured Frank’s
instead of his own, and, putting his horse into a gallop, rode down
the bed of the creek, throwing the powder-horn and bullet pouch over
his shoulder as he went. Frank was ready a moment afterward, and
finding his own rifle gone, he, of course, took Archie’s. Although he
thought nothing of it at the time, he afterward looked upon it as a
lucky circumstance. In addition to their rifles, the boys each had two
revolvers, which they carried in their holsters. Frank overtook the
hunters at the edge of the prairie, where they had stopped to wait
for him, and to hold a consultation. The high swells that rose in
every direction shut them out from the view of the game, but old Bob
knew exactly where to go to find it. As they went along, at an easy
gallop, Dick rode up beside the boys, and, addressing himself to
Frank, said:

“Now, youngster, this’ll be new bisness to you, so don’t be keerless.
You must ’member that your hoss ar’ as green as a punkin in buffaler
huntin’, an’, if you let him get stampeded, he’ll take you cl’ar to
Mexico afore he stops.”

“Stampeded!” repeated Frank. “Does a horse ever get stampeded with

“Sartin he do,” answered the trapper, with a laugh; “an’ if you ever
get teetotally surrounded by a thousand bellerin’, pitchin’ buffalers,
you’ll say it’s the wust scrape you ever war in. So don’t go too clost
to ’em. If your hoss gets frightened, stop him to onct, and quit
follerin’ ’em.”

Dick was then proceeding to instruct the boys in the manner of hunting
the buffaloes, when old Bob, who had been leading the way, suddenly
came to a halt.

“They’re jest behind that swell,” said he. “Don’t you hear ’em? Now,
we must separate.” Then, in hurried whispers, he pointed out the
station he wished each to occupy, and, after Dick had again cautioned
Frank to keep his horse completely under his control, the boys rode
away in different directions.

When Frank reached his station, he stopped his horse, examined his
rifle, opened his holsters, so that he could readily draw his
revolvers, and waited impatiently for the signal. The hunters were
stationed about a quarter of a mile apart. Old Bob was in the center
of the line. After satisfying himself that they were all in their
places, he waved his hat--the signal for the advance. They all started
at the same moment, and, before Frank could think twice, his horse had
carried him to the top of the swell, and he was in full view of the
game. The sight that met his eyes astonished him.

He had often read of the prairie being black with buffaloes, but he
had never seen it before. The herd was an immense one, and stretched
away in all directions as far as his eye could reach. But he was
allowed no time for admiration, for, the moment the hunters made their
appearance, the buffaloes discovered them, and made off at the top of
their speed, the noise of their hoofs sounding on the hard prairie
like the rolling of thunder. Pete was not afraid of buffaloes, and he
soon carried his master within easy range of the herd, the nearest of
which fell at the crack of his rifle. Too impatient to reload his gun,
Frank drew one of his revolvers, and, forgetting, in his excitement,
all the trapper’s advice, spurred after the flying herd; and, so close
was he to them, that he seldom missed his mark. When he had fired all
the charges, he returned his empty weapon to his holster, and, as he
drew the other, he cast his eye in the direction of his companions,
and was a good deal surprised to discover that some of the herd had
got between him and the rest of his party, and were running almost
side by side with him. On the outer edge of the herd, he saw his
cousin in company with the trappers. Archie had, doubtless, emptied
all his weapons, for he appeared to be engaged in reloading. Further
back, he saw Mr. Winters, who had stopped to “settle” a large bull he
had wounded. He also noticed that the mule, on which Dick was mounted,
being entirely unaccustomed to such business, and frightened by the
discharges of the fire-arms, and the noise of the rushing herd, was
making desperate but unsuccessful attempts to throw his rider. Frank,
taking this all in at a glance, then turned his attention to the
animals nearest him, and soon emptied his second revolver.

All this while Pete had been running with the bridle hanging loose on
his neck; now, as Frank gathered up the reins, he noticed, for the
first time, that he was going at a rate of speed he had never before
accomplished. This, however, did not alarm him; but, seeing that he
was leaving his companions behind, he thought he would slacken his
pace and wait for them to come up. He drew in the reins, but it had no
effect on the horse, which, looking back over his shoulder, as if
frightened at something that was pursuing him, bounded off faster than
ever. Taking a firmer hold of the reins, Frank pulled again with all
his strength, but to no purpose. Had he been at sea, in an open boat,
without rudder, sails, or oars, he could not have been more helpless
than he was at that moment. His horse, perfectly unmanageable, was
running away with him! In an instant, the thought flashed through
Frank’s mind, that he was in the very position the trapper had so
emphatically cautioned him to avoid. But still he was not frightened,
until he cast his eyes behind him, and, to his utter dismay,
discovered that the herd had closed in on all sides of him. Around his
horse was a clear space of perhaps a hundred yards in diameter, which
was slowly but surely growing smaller, as the frightened animals
pressed and crowded against each other. On every side he saw a mass of
horns, and tails, and shaggy shoulders, which, like a wall, shut him
away from his companions. Away off to the right, he saw the trappers,
Archie, and Mr. Winters, no longer pursuing the game, but gazing after
him, and throwing their arms wildly about. If they shouted, Frank did
not hear what they said, for the noise of that multitude of hoofs
would have drowned the roar of Niagara. They could not assist him,
neither could he help himself. That very morning the trapper had told
him of seeing a man trampled to death by a herd of buffaloes, and now
a similar fate was in store for himself. The appalling thought seemed
to deprive him of the last particle of strength, for he reeled in his
saddle, and only caught the mane of his horse just in time to save
himself from falling to the ground. But, as was always the case with
Frank, when placed in situations of extreme danger, this burst of
weakness quickly passed. While he had life, he could not relinquish
all hope of being able to bring himself safely out of even this, the
most perilous position in which he had ever found himself. He could
determine upon no particular plan for escape, so long as he was
surrounded by those frantic buffaloes. The only course he could pursue
was to compel Pete to keep pace with the herd. But this plan did not
place him out of the reach of danger. He knew that buffaloes, when
stampeded, turn aside for nothing. Neither hills nor rivers check
their mad flight, and any living thing that stands in their way is
trampled to death. Even the exhausted members of the herd, unable to
keep pace with the others, are borne down and crushed to a jelly. They
neither seem to hear or see any thing; all their senses being merged
into the desire to get as far as possible from the object that has
excited their alarm; and they seldom stop until completely exhausted.

Frank knew this, and the question that arose in his mind was, “How
long could his horse stand that rapid gallop?” He appeared to be as
thoroughly frightened as the buffaloes, and it was not at all probable
he would show any inclination to stop, so long as he saw that shaggy
mass behind him, or could hear the noise of their hoofs, which sounded
like the rumbling of an immense cataract. The more he thought of his
critical situation, the firmer was his belief that there was but one
way open to him, and that was to keep ahead of the animals, which were
behind him. Having determined upon this, he again cast his eyes toward
the place where he had last seen his friends. They were gone, and
Frank was alone in the midst of that multitude of frantic buffaloes.

When the trappers had discovered Frank’s situation, they knew it was
out of their power to assist him. After following him a short
distance, in the vain hope of making him hear the words of advice and
encouragement which they sent after him with all the strength of their
lungs, they had fallen back out of sight. Dick had advised this
course, “Fur,” said he, “the longer we foller ’em, the faster they’ll
run. They won’t stop till they’re clean gin out. If the youngster
stays on his hoss, an’ keeps ahead of ’em till they’re a leetle over
their fright, he’s all right.”

Dick, however, did not intend to leave his young companion altogether.
At his request, Archie gave up Sleepy Sam to him, and, after assuring
the others, who were in a state of intense excitement and alarm, that
he would certainly find Frank and bring him back safe, he rode off in
the direction the buffaloes had gone, while the rest of the party
returned to collect their game.

Meanwhile, Pete, rendered frantic by the deafening noise, was carrying
Frank over the prairie at a terrific pace. The young hunter’s alarm
had somewhat abated, and he appeared as calm as though he was merely
taking a ride for amusement; but his mind was exceedingly busy, and,
in a very short space of time, he lived over his whole life. He cast
frequent and anxious glances behind him, but could see no change for
the better in his situation. The buffaloes, as far as his eye could
reach, pushed and crowded against each other, apparently as frightened
as ever, but taking no notice whatever of the horseman in their midst.
The space around his horse was gradually growing smaller, which made
Frank shudder when he thought what the result would be if they should
close in upon him.

One hour passed, and still the frightened herd dashed on, with the
frantic horse and his helpless rider in their midst, without, in the
least, slackening their pace. Pete was evidently in distress. That mad
gallop was telling on him severely; but, while those buffaloes were
behind him, all attempts to stop him would have been useless. Another
hour glided by, and, to his joy, Frank discovered that the animals
behind him were scattering, and that the line of his pursuers was
growing thinner. Those in front still ran as fast as ever--no doubt,
pushed onward by those behind them, while those in the extreme rear
were evidently getting over their fright. Frank looked again and
again, to satisfy himself that he was not mistaken, and he was
confident that, if his horse could hold out half an hour longer, the
buffaloes, slowly dividing right and left, would leave a way of escape
open to him. The minutes seemed lengthened into hours; but his
pursuers were now rapidly taking up their places on the flanks of the
herd, and, in a short time, not a buffalo was to be seen behind him.

Again Frank pulled the reins, and Pete, almost exhausted, and no
longer hearing that terrific noise behind him, willingly stopped.
Frank, filled with gratitude for his escape, threw himself from the
saddle, just as the last of the buffaloes were disappearing over a
neighboring swell.


A Night among the Wolves.

It would be impossible to describe Frank’s feelings, as he stood
there, holding his panting, reeking horse, and listening to that
rumbling sound, which grew fainter and fainter, as the buffaloes
dashed on their way. Now that the danger of being trampled to death
was passed, he did not stop to think of what was still before him. He
cared not that he was forty miles from the old bear’s hole, and that,
in three hours, the sun would be down, and he compelled to pass the
night alone on the prairie. All thoughts of what he knew he must
endure before he reached the camp were swallowed up in thankfulness
that he had been able to bring himself safely out of the most
dangerous position in which he had ever been placed.

In a few moments the last of the buffaloes had passed out of hearing,
and Frank then turned his attention to his horse.

Pete looked very unlike the sleek, spirited animal of which he had
been so proud. He was reeking with sweat, panting loudly, and was
evidently very nearly exhausted. Had he been obliged to carry his
rider a few miles further, Frank might have been compelled to find his
way back to camp on foot. Pete was also very much in need of water;
and now that the danger was over, Frank found that he, too, was very
thirsty. During his excitement and alarm he had not thought of it; but
now that he was able to think calmly, he decided that his first care
should be to find a stream of water, where he might quench his thirst.

After reloading his rifle and revolvers, he again took Pete by the
bridle and led him in the direction of the mountains, which, as near
as he could judge, were twenty miles distant. Although he was most
anxious to reach them before night, in hopes that he might find the
trapper, (for he knew that Dick would not rest easy until he had found
him,) he could not bear the thought of riding his horse while he was
in such distress.

At length he reached the top of a swell, when he paused to look about
him. On his right hand, about a mile distant, as he judged, he saw a
long line of willows, which (so the trappers had told him) were a sure
sign of water. Toward the willows, then, he directed his course, in
hopes that his horse, when he had quenched his thirst and eaten a few
mouthfuls of grass, would be in a condition to travel. But he soon
found that it was more than a mile to the willows--it was five times
that distance--and it was about an hour before sunset when Frank
reached the stream, and, kneeling down on the bank, took a long,
refreshing drink. Here he had a most lively battle with Pete. The
horse was stubborn, and when he had determined upon a course, it
required considerable persuasion to induce him to abandon it. He
wanted to drink his fill of the water at once, to which Frank
objected; and it was not until Pete had received several severe blows
from a branch that his master cut from one of the willows, that he
allowed himself to be led out of the stream. Frank then tied him to a
tree, removed the saddle, and threw himself on the ground to determine
upon his future movements. He was tired and hungry; he did not like
the idea of camping on the prairie alone, but he could see no way to
avoid it. Then he thought of the trapper, and walked out on the
prairie to look for him. But Dick was nowhere to be seen. Had Frank
remained where he had escaped from the buffaloes, he would then have
been in the company of his friend, for the trapper was at that moment
standing on the top of the very swell, where Frank had stood when he
first discovered the willows. Useless sat by his side, looking up into
his master’s face, and whining as if he, too, wondered what had become
of the object of their search. Seeing no signs of Frank, Dick
concluded that he was still among the buffaloes, so he kept on after
them, now and then shaking his head and muttering--“The keerless
feller. It beats all natur’ how that hoss of his’n traveled.” But
Frank did not know that Dick was so near him, and, after waiting
nearly an hour for him to make his appearance, he returned to the
willows, and sat about making his preparations for the night. He first
selected a suitable spot for a camp, and, after gathering a few dry
branches and lighting a fire with a flint and steel he found in
Archie’s haversack, he took his rifle and walked along the bank of
the creek to find something for his supper. He generally took great
pleasure in a hunt, but there was no sport in this one, for he could
not help thinking of his recent adventure with the grizzly. What if he
should meet one of those animals? He could not hope for assistance
from the trapper. He had no one to depend upon but himself. He had
always had great confidence in his skill as a marksman, but he had
never wished for an opportunity to try it on a grizzly bear. If there
were any of those animals among the willows, he did not encounter
them, and, in fact, the woods did not appear to abound in game of any
kind. The only living thing he discovered was a raccoon crossing the
creek on a log just ahead of him.

Frank, knowing that he was working for his supper, made a good shot,
and when he shouldered the ’coon and started for his camp, he felt
relieved to know that he was not compelled to pass the night hungry.
He had often heard that the flesh of the ’coon was excellent, and he
found it was so; whether it was because he was hungry, or because the
meat was really good, he could not decide; but at any rate, he ate
nearly half the ’coon, and hung the remainder upon a limb to save it
for his breakfast. Then, after gathering a supply of firewood,
sufficient to last all night, he again walked out on the prairie to
look for the trapper. But he was not in sight; and when it began to
grow dark, Frank returned to his camp, feeling rather lonesome. After
he had hobbled Pete, (which he did by tying one end of his halter
around his neck, and the other to one of his fore legs,) and turned
him loose to graze, he seated himself by the fire, and heartily wished
it was morning.

There was nothing pleasant in the thought that he was obliged to pass
the night alone. He had often camped out, but he was not accustomed to
living in such a wilderness. Had Dick been with him, he would have
slept as soundly as he ever did at home; but, as it was, there was no
probability of his enjoying a good night’s rest. It grew dark rapidly,
and the prairie, so deserted and still in the day-time, now seemed to
be crowded with wolves. He had heard them every night since he had
been on the plains, but he had never listened to such a chorus as
saluted his ears that evening. The fact was, they had been attracted
by a buffalo that lay but a short distance from Frank’s camp. It had
been wounded by the hunters in the morning, and, becoming separated
from the herd, had come to the creek for water, and died. Frank knew
that the wolves had found something, for he could hear them growling
and fighting over their meal. Suddenly they all set up a howl, and
took to their heels. They did not go far, however, but appeared to be
running in circles about their prey, as if they had been driven away
by some larger animal. Frank was not pleased with his neighbors, and
did not feel at all inclined to go to sleep. He sat before his fire,
with his rifle across his knees, and his revolvers close at hand,
sincerely hoping that the wolves would not approach his camp. For two
hours he remained in this position, and finally, becoming more
accustomed to the howls of the wolves, he leaned against a tree, and
was fast losing all consciousness of what was going on around him,
when he was aroused by his horse, which came snorting through the
willows, and did not stop until he had placed himself close to his
master for protection. This alarmed Frank, who, remembering how Pete
had acted the day before, was certain that there was a grizzly bear
prowling about his camp; and, fearful that his horse, if left to
himself, would run away, he slipped the bridle over his head, and
tied him securely to a tree. While thus engaged, he heard a slight
noise in the bushes, as if some heavy animal was endeavoring to pass
carefully through them. This continued for half an hour, during which
the animal, whatever it was, walked entirely around his camp. This
tried Frank’s nerves severely. To sit there, in those woods, and
listen to some animal walking about, perhaps watching for an
opportunity to spring upon him, was almost as bad as facing a grizzly.
Again and again the animal made the circuit of the camp, and presently
Frank saw a pair of eyes, that looked like two coals of fire, glaring
at him through the darkness. Should he fire at the animal? If it was a
grizzly, and the wound should not prove fatal, his life would not be
worth a moment’s purchase. There might be bushes between him and the
beast, that would glance the ball, or his hand might prove unsteady.
It was a risk he did not like to take; but he could try the effect of
fire on him. So, catching up a brand, he threw it at the eyes, which
instantly disappeared.

During the livelong night did Frank sit by the fire, holding his rifle
in his hands, now and then caressing his horse, which stood close
beside him, trembling with fear; while, at regular intervals, he heard
a rustling in the willows, which told him that his enemy was still on
the watch.

But all things have an end. At length, to Frank’s immense relief, day
began to dawn. As soon as he could distinctly discern the nearest
objects, he again hobbled his horse, and, after turning him loose to
graze, began to prepare his breakfast. After he had cooked and eaten
the last vestige of the ’coon, he saddled Pete, and, turning his back
upon the place where he had passed a most uncomfortable night, set out
toward the mountains.

About the same hour, the trapper arose from the prairie, where he had
made his camp, and where he had slept soundly, in spite of the howling
of the wolves, and, mounting Sleepy Sam, began to follow up the trail
of the buffaloes. Each was looking for the other, and both were
traveling in exactly opposite directions.

Frank had a long ride before him, and it was monotonous and tiresome.
Pete appeared to have fully recovered from the effects of his long
run, for he carried his rider at a rapid pace; but, at sunset, Frank
had not reached the mountains. He could not bear the thought of
camping on that bare prairie, where he could have no fire, and he
resolved to ride until he reached the timber at the base of the
mountains, if it took him until midnight. Darkness settled down over
the prairie, and, a short time afterward, he reached the woods. As he
rode slowly along, in the hope of discovering some stream, on the
banks of which he could camp, he saw a light shining through the
trees. A second look showed him that it was a camp-fire. No doubt he
would find Dick there. Without hesitating an instant, he put spurs to
his horse, and rode up in full view of the fire, around which he saw
four men lying on their blankets.


Frank’s New Acquaintances.

Frank’s sudden appearance created considerable of a commotion in the
camp, for the men sprang to their feet and reached rather hurriedly
for their weapons. They were evidently alarmed; and Frank was a good
deal surprised thereat, for he had not dreamed that men accustomed to
the dangers of the prairie--as these undoubtedly were--could be
frightened at the sudden approach of a single bewildered horseman. He,
however, rode straight up to the fire, where the men stood with their
rifles in their hands, and exclaimed, as he dismounted from his horse:

“Good evening, gentlemen!”

His politeness did not serve to allay the fears of the men, for they
regarded him sharply for a moment, and then one of them asked, in a
voice that somewhat resembled the growl of an enraged bear:

“What do you want?”

“I am lost,” replied Frank. “My horse was stampeded with a herd of
buffaloes, and I am now making the best of my way back to my friends.”

The man slowly surveyed him from head to foot, and then answered, in a
tone of voice which showed that he did not believe Frank’s statement:

“Lost! Lost, aint ye? Wal, what in tarnation are ye lost fur? Why
don’t ye go whar ye b’long?”

“That’s what I want to do!” replied Frank, who, astonished at the
manner in which he was received, and fearful that he would be
compelled to pass another night alone on the prairie, did not notice
the sly, meaning glances which the men exchanged. “I am trying to find
my friends. I left them at the ‘old bear’s hole,’ if you know where
that is.”

This statement was received with something like a long breath of
relief by the trappers--for such they undoubtedly were--and the
spokesman continued:

“Then, ye’re sartin ye’re lost, an’ that ye aint got no friends
nigher nor the ole bar’s hole? Who war ye travelin’ with? Who’s yer

“Dick Lewis and old Bob Kelly,” replied Frank, mentioning the names of
the guides, with the hope that some of his new acquaintances might
know them; nor was the hope a vain one, for the trappers repeated the
names, and again exchanged those sly glances, which Frank noticed but
could not understand:

“So ole Bob is yer comp’ny,” said his questioner, at length; “an’
ye’re sartin ye left him at the ole bar’s hole! Then, ye won’t be
likely to set eyes on him to-night, ’cause the bar’s hole ar’ a good
fifty mile from here, an’, if ye’re actooally an’ sartinly lost, ye
aint no ways likely to find it in the dark.”

The trapper was evidently forgetting his fears and recovering his good
nature--if he possessed that quality--for, as he resumed his seat at
the fire, he continued, in a somewhat milder tone:

“If yer hoss war stampeded, stranger, he must be powerful lively on
his legs to have tuk ye so fur; but, I reckon, ye must be travelin’ a
leetle out of yer latitude. It aint often that a feller meets a
teetotal stranger in these parts what says he’s lost, an’ we don’t
like to take in every one as comes along; but, if so be that ye are a
friend of Dick an’ ole Bob, ye can hobble yer hoss an’ camp here with
us. Ye can sleep by our fire to-night, an’ in the mornin’ we’ll set
yer on the right track.”

Frank gladly complied with this invitation, and, after relieving his
horse of the saddle, he seated himself at the fire, and began to make
a close examination of his new acquaintances. They were all large,
muscular men, and were dressed in complete suits of buckskin, which
were very ragged and dirty. Their faces were almost covered with
thick, bushy whiskers, and their hair, which, judging by its tangled
appearance, had never been made acquainted with a comb, hung down to
their shoulders. The man who had acted the part of spokesman, was
particularly noticeable, being more ragged and dirty than his
companions, and his face, which bore several ugly scars, was almost as
black as a negro’s.

In short, they were a very ferocious looking set, and Frank almost
wished he had remained on the prairie instead of coming to their camp.
But, after all, he might be very much mistaken in his men. It was not
to be expected that persons of their calling, who had no doubt lived
on the prairie from boyhood, who had been exposed to all kinds of
weather, and braved innumerable dangers, it could not be expected that
such men should always present a neat appearance. Beneath their rough
exterior there might be hidden the warmest of hearts. And as for their
reception of him, they had doubtless treated him as they treated every
stranger they met on the prairie--on the principle, “Believe every man
an enemy, until he proves himself otherwise.”

While these thoughts were passing through Frank’s mind, the trappers
had been regarding him closely and with evident curiosity.

The result of their examination appeared to be satisfactory, for the
spokesman presently remarked:

“It’s plain, stranger, that yer out of yer callin’. Ye don’t b’long on
the prairy. Yer from the States, we take it.”

Frank replied that he was, and then proceeded to give the trappers an
account of the circumstances that had brought him to the prairie, and
also told how he had made the acquaintance of Dick and old Bob; to all
of which the men listened eagerly, now and then exchanging the same
sly glances that Frank had before noticed. When he had finished his
story, the swarthy trapper arose to his feet, and, going to a tree
close by, took down a piece of buffalo meat, from which he cut several
slices that he placed on the coals, remarking as he did so:

“Whenever we do meet a stranger in these parts, an’ he turns out to be
the right kind of a chap, we allers treat him as handsome as we know
how. We can’t offer you anything more’n a chunk of buffaler hump, but
sich as we have yer welcome to.”

The offer was evidently made in all sincerity, and if Frank still
entertained any fears that the men were not what they should be, he
speedily dismissed them, and again blessed his lucky stars that he was
not compelled to pass another night alone on the prairie.

While his supper was cooking, he was again plied with questions, the
most of them relating to the movements of old Bob; and especially did
the trappers seem anxious to learn where he was going, and what he
intended to do when he returned from California. Frank answered these
questions as well as he could, and his replies seemed to satisfy the
men, one of whom finally changed the subject of the conversation, by

“I’ll allow that’s a fine shootin’ iron of your’n, stranger, but it’s
a new-fangled consarn, I should say.”

Frank, it will be remembered, had Archie’s rifle, which, being a
breech-loading weapon, was something the trappers had never seen
before, and it required considerable explanation to enable them to
understand “how the consarn worked.”

From his rifle they went to the other articles of his “kit.” The
contents of his haversack were examined, the qualities of his
hunting-knife and revolvers discussed, and then they turned their
attention to his horse--made inquiries concerning his speed and
bottom, until, weary with their questioning, they stretched themselves
out by the fire and went to sleep.

After eating his supper, Frank followed their example; and, being
completely exhausted, having scarcely closed his eyes during the
preceding night, he slept soundly until morning.

When he awoke it was just daylight. The trappers had already arisen;
the fire had been replenished, and several slices of meat were
broiling on the coals.

They hardly noticed Frank; the only reply his polite greetings
received, being a sort of grunt and a slight nod of the head. After
washing his hands and face in the creek that ran close by--a
proceeding which the trappers regarded with undisguised contempt--he
seated himself at the fire with the others and began helping himself
to the meat, at the same time inquiring the way to the old bear’s

“That ar’ is the way, stranger,” replied the swarthy trapper, pointing
in a direction exactly contrary to the one Frank had pursued the day
before; “an’, as I told ye last night, it’s nigh on to fifty miles

After this, they again relapsed into silence, and as soon as they had
finished their breakfast, went out to catch their horses. Frank
accompanied them; all his old fears that there was something wrong,
revived with redoubled force, and he was anxious to leave the company
of his new acquaintances as soon as possible. When he had caught and
saddled Pete, he left him standing for a few moments, until he secured
his rifle and haversack, and when he turned to mount, he saw one of
the trappers seize the horse by the bridle and spring into the saddle.
Frank gazed in surprise at these movements, but before he could speak,
the swarthy trapper turned suddenly upon him, exclaiming:

“Look a here, stranger! Ye come here last night without nobody’s
askin’ ye, an’ tells us some kind of a story ’bout yer bein’ lost, an’
all that. Now, mebbe yer all right, an’ mebbe ye aint. Ye may have
friends no great way off, that ye kalkerlate to bring down on us; but
ye can’t ketch old foxes like us in no sich trap as that ar’. We’re
jest goin’ to take yer hoss to keep yer from findin’ yer friends ag’in
in a hurry. Yer young fur sich bisness as this yere, an’ if ye didn’t
look so mighty innercent, I’d split yer wizzen fur ye. So now be off
to onct, an’ don’t never cross our trail ag’in. If ye do--” The
trapper finished the sentence by shaking his head threateningly.

Frank listened to this speech in utter bewilderment. He could scarcely
believe his ears. But it was plain that the trappers were in earnest,
for the one who had mounted Pete held his own horse by the bridle, in
readiness to start. He fully realized his helpless situation, and it
almost overpowered him. But, at length, he found courage to say:

“You are certainly mistaken. I _am_ lost. I don’t know where to go to
find my friends, and, if you take my horse from me, I may never find
them again. Besides, what is your object in robbing me?”

“Wal, now, stranger,” said the trapper, dropping the butt of his rifle
to the ground, and leaning upon the muzzle of the weapon, “we jest
aint a goin’ to stand no foolin’. We b’lieve yer a spy, an’ ar’ goin’
to bring Bob Kelly an’ the rest of yer friends down on us. That’s jest
what’s the matter. The prairy is cl’ar, thar aint no Injuns to
massacree ye; ye have a good pair of legs, so trot off on ’em to onct.
Ye can be glad enough that we didn’t tie ye up to a tree, an’ leave ye
to the wolves. If ole Kelly could get his hands on us, we’d be used a
heap wusser nor robbin’, an’ you know it well enough. An’ when ye see
the ole chap, ye can tell him that the next time he wants to try to
ketch Black Bill, he’ll have to get up a better trick nor this yere.
Come, now, mizzle--sally out to onct--an’ don’t stop to talk, ’cause
it won’t do no arthly good whatsomever. Yer hoss is gone--that’s
settled--an’, if yer shootin’ iron were any ’count, we’d a tuk that
too. We’ve left ye three loads, an’ that’ll kill game enough to do ye
till ye find yer friends. Come, walk off--make yourself skeerce,

There was a wicked, determined look in the trapper’s eye that told
Frank that he was in earnest; and, fully convinced that it would be
useless to remonstrate, and fearful that if he did not obey the order,
the man would fulfill his threat of tying him to a tree, and leaving
him to the mercy of the wolves, he shouldered his rifle, and, with a
heavy heart, set off on his journey.

When he reached the top of a high swell, about half a mile from the
camp, he looked back, and saw the trappers riding off at a rapid
gallop, Pete playing and prancing with his new rider as if he was
perfectly satisfied with the change. Frank watched them as long as
they remained in sight, and then, throwing himself on the ground,
covered his face with his hands, and gave away to the most bitter
thoughts. What could have induced the trappers to act so
treacherously? Did they really suspect him of being a spy, or was that
merely an excuse to rob him in his defenseless situation? The whole
transaction was involved in a mystery he could not fathom, nor was it
at all probable that he could arrive at a solution until he should see
Dick or old Bob Kelly. Would he ever see them again, was a question he
dare not ask himself. The chances were certainly not in his favor,
situated as he was, alone, in the midst of an unbroken wilderness, the
prairie stretching away, on one hand, as far as his eye could reach,
the Rocky Mountains looming up on the other. But he was not one to
look altogether upon the dark side of the picture. It had a bright
side as well, and he found that he had reason to congratulate himself
that the outlaws--for such he now knew them to be--had let him off so
easily. What if they had left him bound to a tree, as they had
threatened? The chances were not one in a hundred that he would ever
have been released. Although his horse had been taken from him, he had
been allowed to go free, and to retain his rifle and hunting-knife.
Yes, his situation might have been infinitely worse. He still had much
to be grateful for, and, as long as he had life, he would cherish the
hope of being able to find his way to his friends. As these thoughts
passed through his mind, they brought renewed strength and
determination, and, rising to his feet, he again set out at a brisk

He remembered that the outlaws had told him that, in order to reach
the old bear’s hole, he must travel in a direction exactly opposite to
the one he was pursuing; but he had good reason to believe that they
had endeavored to mislead him. When he took his involuntary ride, he
was careful to remember the points of the compass, and, as Pete had
carried him exactly south, of course, in order to reach his friends,
he must travel north. He had no compass, but the sun was just rising,
and he was able to calculate all the points from that. Having settled
this to his satisfaction, he began an examination of his haversack,
and found that its contents had been thoroughly overhauled--no doubt
while he was asleep--and that the outlaws had left him three
cartridges for his rifle, and his flint and steel. All the other
articles, which consisted of several rounds of ammunition for his
revolvers (which had gone off with his horse), stone arrow-heads,
spear-heads, the claws of the bear that Dick had killed in the cave,
and numerous other relics which Archie had collected since leaving St.
Joseph, had all been abstracted.

In spite of his unpleasant situation, Frank could not repress a smile,
when he thought how indignant his cousin would be, when he received an
account of his losses. Having completed his examination, and placed
his remaining cartridges carefully away in his pocket, he resumed his
journey, and, just as he reached the top of a swell, he discovered a
horseman galloping rapidly along the edge of the willows that fringed
the base of the mountains. The thought that he saw something familiar,
about both the horse and his rider, had scarcely passed through
Frank’s mind, when he was electrified by the sight of a large brindle
dog, which ran in and out of the bushes, with his nose close to the
ground, now and then uttering an impatient bark, which was answered by
yells of encouragement from the horseman. There was no mistaking that
yell, and Frank ran down the swell, swinging his hat, and endeavoring
to attract the attention of the man with a voice which, in his
excitement, he could scarcely raise above a whisper. But he was
discovered. Both dog and horseman turned toward him, and, a moment
afterward, Frank had one arm around the neck of Useless, and his hand
was inclosed in the trapper’s vice-like grasp.


The Trader’s Expedition.

“Dick,” exclaimed Frank, as soon as he could speak, “this is the
second time you have found me when lost; but I wish you had come a
little sooner, for--”

“You keerless feller!” interrupted the trapper, who knew in a moment
that there was something wrong, “you teetotally keerless feller!
whar’s your hoss? Tell me, to onct, what’s come on him.”

“He was stolen from me,” answered Frank. “I camped last night about
two miles from here, with a party of trappers, and they robbed me.”

“Did!” exclaimed Dick. “Bar and buffaler! who war they? They warn’t no
trappers, I can tell ye, if they done that ar’ mean trick. Tell me all
about it to onct.”

Frank then proceeded to relate all that had transpired at the camp;
told how closely the men had questioned him concerning the intended
movements of old Bob; repeated all the threats which the outlaw had
made, and concluded his narrative with saying:

“He told me that when I saw old Bob again, I could say to him, that
the next time he wanted to catch Black Bill, he--”

“Black Bill!” almost yelled the trapper. “Black Bill! That ar’ tells
the hul story. The scoundrel had better steer cl’ar of me an’ old Bob,
’cause I’m Bob’s chum now, an’ any harm that’s done to him is done to
me too. I can tell you, you keerless feller, you oughter be mighty
glad that you aint rubbed out altogether.”

“I begin to think so too,” replied Frank; “but, Dick, I want my

“Wal, then, you’ll have to wait till he comes to you, or till them ar’
fellers git ready to fetch him back. ’Taint no ’arthly use to foller
’em, ’cause they’ll be sartin to put a good stretch of country atween
them an’ ole Bob afore they stop. Your hoss ar’ teetotally gone,
youngster--that’s as true as gospel. I tell you ag’in, ’taint every
one that Black Bill let’s off so easy. Climb up behind me, an’ let’s
travel back to the ole bar’s hole.”

Frank handed his rifle to his companion, mounted Sleepy Sam, and the
trappers drove toward the camp, slowly and thoughtfully. For nearly an
hour they rode along without speaking to each other. Dick,
occasionally shaking his head and muttering “Bar an’ buffaler--you
_keerless_ feller.” But at length he straitened up in the saddle, and
holding his heavy rifle at arm’s length, exclaimed:

“Youngster, I don’t own much of this world’s plunder, an’ what’s more,
I never expect to. But what little I have got is of use to me, an’
without it I should soon starve. But I’d give it all up sooner nor
sleep in a camp with Black Bill an’ his band of rascals. I’d fight ’em
now if I should meet ’em, an’ be glad of the chance; but thar’s a heap
of difference atween goin’ under, in a fair skrimmage, an’ bein’
rubbed out while you ar’ asleep. Durin’ the forty year I’ve been
knocked about, I’ve faced a’most every kind of danger from wild Injuns
an’ varmints, an’ I never onct flinched--till I rid on them steam
railroads--but, youngster, I wouldn’t do what you done last night fur
nothin’. Howsomever, the danger’s all over now, an’ you have come out
with a hul skin; so tell me what you done while you war lost.”

The manner in which the trapper spoke of the danger through which he
had passed, frightened Frank exceedingly. He knew that Dick was as
brave as a man could possibly be, and the thought that he had
unconsciously exposed himself to peril that the reckless trapper would
shrink from encountering, occasioned feelings of terror, which could
not be quieted even by the knowledge that he had passed the ordeal
with safety; and when, in compliance with the guide’s request, he
proceeded to relate his adventures, it was with a trembling voice,
that could not fail to attract the trapper’s attention.

“I don’t wonder you’re skeered,” said he, as Frank finished his story.
“It would skeer a’most any body. But it’s over, now, an’ it aint no
ways likely you’ll ever meet ’em ag’in. Me an’ ole Bob will see ’em
some day, an’ when we settle with ’em, we will be sartin to take out
pay fur that hoss. When we git to camp Bob’ll tell you how he happens
to owe Black Bill a settlement. When we seed you goin’ off in that ar’
way,” continued the trapper, turning around in his saddle so as to
face Frank, “we didn’t feel no ways skeery ’bout your comin’ back all
right, if you got away from the buffalers. Your uncle said, ‘In course
the boy has got sense enough to see that the mountains now ar’ on his
right hand, an’ to know that when he wants to come back, he must keep
them on his left hand;’ an’ jest afore he went to sleep, I heered him
say to ole Bob, ‘I wonder how Frank is gettin’ on without his
blanket.’ Your little cousin said, ‘I hope he’ll fetch back my rifle,
an’ my possible-sack, an’ the things what’s in it, all right, ’cause I
should hate to lose them Injun’s top-knots.’ I guess he won’t laugh
none, when he finds out that all them stone arrer-heads, an’
spear-heads, an’ other fixin’s ar’ gone. Ole Bob, he knowed, too, that
you would turn up all right if you could keep on your hoss till he
stopped. But, bar and buffaler! we didn’t think you war goin’ to camp
with that varlet, Black Bill. If we had, thar wouldn’t have been much
sleepin’ done in our camp last night.”

Having thus assured Frank that his friends had entertained no fears of
his ability to find his way back to the wagon, the trapper again
alluded to the subject of the robbery, obliging his young companion to
relate the particulars over and over again, each time expressing his
astonishment and indignation in no very measured terms. In this way
they passed the fifteen miles that lay between them and the camp, and
finally arrived within sight of the “ole bar’s hole.”

Mr. Winters, Archie, and Bob were seated on the ground near the wagon,
but when they discovered the trapper riding toward them with Frank
mounted behind him, they rose to their feet in surprise, and Archie
inquired, as he grasped his cousin’s hand--

“Did your horse run himself to death?”

Before Frank could answer, Dick sprang from the saddle, exclaiming:

“Bob! Black Bill’s on the prairy.”

“Black Bill on the prairy!” repeated the old man, slowly, regarding
his friend as if he was hardly prepared to believe what he had heard.

“Yes, he ar’ on this yere very prairy,” replied Dick; “an’, Bob,” he
continued, stretching his brawny arms to their fullest extent in front
of him, and clenching his huge fists, “an’, Bob, that ar’ keerless
feller actooally camped with him an’ his rascally chums, last night.
Yes, sir, staid in their camp an’ slept thar, an’ this mornin’ they
said as how he war a spy of your’n, sent to ketch ’em; so they stole
his hoss.”

Old Bob was so astonished at this intelligence, that he almost leaped
from the ground; while Dick, without allowing the excited listeners an
opportunity to ask a question, seated himself beside Mr. Winters and
proceeded to give a full account of all that had transpired at Black
Bill’s camp; during which, Archie, surprised and indignant at the
treatment his cousin had received, learned that he also had been a
heavy loser by the operation. All his beloved relics were gone. But
they still had miles of Indian country to traverse, and these could be
replaced; while Frank, in being robbed of his horse had sustained a
loss that could not be made good. Archie was generous; and, declaring
that he had ridden on horseback until he was actually tired of it,
told his cousin to consider Sleepy Sam as his own property, an offer
which the latter emphatically refused to accept.

“Never mind, youngster,” said old Bob, who had listened to all that
had passed between the cousins, “never mind. You shan’t lose nothin’
by bein’ robbed by that varlet. Me an’ Dick will put you on hossback
ag’in afore you’re two days older. But this yere shows you that you
oughtn’t to make friends with every feller you meet on the prairy, no
more’n you would in a big city. Now if you war lost in the
settlements, and didn’t know whar to go to find your hum, you would
think twice afore you would camp with a teetotal stranger, an’ a
feller oughter do the same thing on the prairy. I larnt that long ago,
an’ through that same feller, Black Bill. Years ago, when Dick’s old
man war alive, it warn’t so. If a feller got a leetle out of his
reckonin’, an’ walked into a stranger’s camp, he could roll himself up
in his blanket an’ sleep as safe an’ sound as he could any whar, an’
neither man warn’t afraid that the other would rub him out afore
daylight. But it aint so now. Them fellers in the settlements got to
doin’ meanness, an’ run here to git cl’ar of the laws. But they found
thar war law here too; an’ when they done any of their badness, an’ we
got our hands on ’em, we made short work with ’em. But they kept
comin’ in fast, and when three or four of ’em got together, they would
take to the mountains, an’ thar warn’t no use tryin’ to ketch ’em.
When we seed how things war agoin’, a lot of us ole trappers, that had
knowed each other fur years, made up a comp’ny. We had to do it to
defend ourselves ag’in them varlets, fur it soon got so it warn’t
healthy fur a lone man on the prairy, if he had any plunder wuth
baggin’. We stuck together till that Saskatchewan scrape, an’ now me
an’ Dick ar’ the only ones left. I don’t say that we’re the only
honest trappers agoin’, ’cause that aint so. Thar ar’ plenty of good
ones left; but we ar’ the last of our comp’ny, an’, somehow, we don’t
keer ’bout trappin’ with strangers.

“Wal, one spring we went to the fort to trade off the spelter we had
ketched durin’ the winter, an’ the trader we sold ’em to, war makin’
up a comp’ny to go to the head waters of the Missouri. He war goin’
with his expedition, an’ he wanted us to go too. He offered us good
pay; he would find us we’pons, hosses, traps, and provender fur
nothin’, an’ buy our furs to boot. He done this ’cause thar war a good
many traders workin’ ag’in him, an’ he wanted to be sartin of gittin’
all the furs we trapped. We had a leetle talk among ourselves about
it, an’, finally, told him that it war a bargain, an’ that we would
go. So he writ down our names, an’ we tuk up our quarters in the fort
till the day come to start. The trader’s name war Forbes, an’ as he
war our boss, we used to call him Cap’n Forbes. He warn’t jest the
kind of a man a feller would take to be a trader--he smelt too much of
the settlements--an’ even at the fort, among rough trappers an’
soldiers, he would spruce up an’ strut like a turkey. ’Sides, he had a
nigger to wait on him an’ take keer of his hoss. As I war sayin’, we
noticed all these things, but we didn’t keer fur ’em, fur, in course,
it warn’t none of our consarn; all we wanted war fur him to pay us fur
the spelter we ketched, an’ we knowed he could do that, fur the
fellers all said he had a big pile of gold an’ silver that he carried
in his saddle-bags.

“Wal, we packed our blankets an’ we’pons down to the quarters the
cap’n pointed out, an’ when we got thar, we found he had half a dozen
chaps down ’sides ourselves. We knowed one or two of ’em, (an’ we
didn’t know nothin’ good of ’em neither,) but the others war strangers
to us. Among the strangers war Black Bill--Bosh Peters he said his
name war. He war a’most as black as the cap’n’s darkey, an’ thar war a
bad look in his eye that none of us didn’t like. An’ him an’ his crowd
warn’t at all pleased to see us neither; fur, although they met us
kind enough, asked us to help ourselves to their grub, an’ inquired
’bout our luck in trappin’, durin’ the last season, thar war somethin’
’bout them that told us plainer nor words that they would have been
much better satisfied if we had stayed away.

“It war a’most night when we went to the quarters, an’ arter we had
eat our supper, we smoked our pipes, spread our blankets, an’ went to
sleep. How long I slept I don’t know; but I waked up sometime durin’
the night, an’ thought I heered somebody talkin’ in a low voice. I
listened, an’, sure enough, thar war two fellers jest outside of the
quarters plannin’ somethin’. I heered one of ’em ask:

“‘When shall we do it?’

“‘Time enough to think of that when we git to the mountains,’ said the

“‘But ar’ you sartin’ he’s goin’ to take it with him?’

“‘In course! I heered him say so!’

“‘Wal, then, it’s all right. But we must be mighty keerful, ’cause our
boys don’t like the looks of them last fellers that jined the comp’ny.
So keep a still tongue in your head.’ They done some more plannin’ and
talkin’, but I couldn’t hear what it war. Then they moved away in
different directions, an’ purty quick somebody come into the quarters,
easy like, an’ laid down on his blanket, but it war so dark I couldn’t
see who it war. Wal, I thought the matter all over, an’ soon made up
my mind that the varlets had been plannin’ an’ talkin’ ag’in the
trader and his money-bags; but when I told the boys of it the next
mornin’, they all laughed at me, an’ said the cap’n warn’t fool enough
to tote so much money to the mountains with him when he could leave it
at the fort, whar it would be safe. They told me I had better not
speak of it ag’in, fur if it got to the trader’s ears, he might think
I war a greeny. Wal, I war quite a youngster, that’s a fact; but it
warn’t long afore it come out that I had more sense nor any of ’em.”


The Outlaw’s Escape.

“Before goin’ further,” continued the trapper, “I oughter tell you
that this Black Bill had been on the prairy a long time. Like a good
many others, he had run away from the law in the States, an’, fallin’
in with more rascals as bad as he war, he soon made himself known, by
name, to nearly every trapper in the country. ’Sides robbin’ lone men
he met on the prairy an’ in the mountains, he would jine in with
Injuns, an’ lead ’em ag’in wagon trains.

“None of our comp’ny had ever seed him, although, in course, we had
often heered of him, an’ we never onct thought that he would have the
face to jine in with a party of honest trappers; so we called him
Peters, bein’ very fur from thinkin’ that he war the feller that had
done so much mischief. If we _had_ knowed who he war, prairy law
wouldn’t have let him live five minits.

“Wal, arter we had been at the fort ’bout two weeks, Cap’n Forbes got
every thing ready fur the start, an’, one mornin’, bright an’ ’arly,
we sot off t’wards the mountains. Thar war fourteen of us
altogether--seven of us fellers, five of Bosh Peters’ party, the
trader, and his darkey. We had four pack mules; and, as the Cap’n
warn’t a bit stingy, he had give us good we’pons an’ plenty of powder
an’ lead. I hadn’t forgot what them two fellers said that night,
although I hadn’t never spoke about it, fur fear of bein’ laughed
at--an’ I kept close watch on the trader, to find out if he had his
money with him. He carried a pair of saddle-bags, an’ they were well
packed, too; but, judgin’ by the keerless way he throwed them around,
when we camped fur the night, thar warn’t no money in ’em. Bosh Peters
and his party had all along been tryin’ to git on the right side of
us, and purty soon our fellers begun to think that we had been fooled
in ’em, an’ that they war all right arter all.

“Wal, when we reached the trappin’ grounds, we built our quarters fur
the winter, an’ then commenced work. The trader went with one feller
one day, an’ with another the next. He warn’t no trapper; but he liked
the sport, an’ seemed to want to larn how it war done. But, arter
awhile he got tired of this, an’ staid in the camp from mornin’ till
night. He never went out with me; if he had, I should have told him to
keep his eye on them money-bags, if he had ’em with him.

“One day, as I war at work settin’ a trap in a clump of bushes that
grew on the banks of a little creek, I heered some fellers comin’
along, talkin’ to each other. Now, jest that one little thing war
enough to make me b’lieve that thar war somethin’ wrong in the wind,
’cause, when fellers go out to hunt an’ trap, an’ fur nothin’ else,
they don’t go together through the woods, as though they were huntin’
cows. So I sot still an’ listened, an’ purty quick heered Bosh Peters
talkin’. Thar war one feller with him, but the bushes war so thick I
couldn’t see him, an’ I didn’t know his voice. They war comin’ right
t’wards me, an’ when they reached the creek, one of ’em went to get a
drink, an’ the others sot down on a log not ten foot from me. Purty
soon I heered Bosh Peters say:

“‘I know it’s time we war doin’ somethin’, Tom, but I’m a’most afraid
to try it. Them ’ar fellers are seven to our five, an’ if we shouldn’t
happen to get away, we would ketch prairy law, sartin; an’ that’s a
heap wusser nor law in the settlements. They don’t give a feller a
chance to break jail on the prairy.’

“‘Black Bill,’ said the other, ‘thar’s jest no use a talkin that ’ar
way. If we’re a goin’ to do it at all, now is jest as good a chance as
we shall have. The cap’n stays in the camp all day alone, an’ afore
the other chaps get back to larn what’s done, we can be miles in the

“‘Wal, then,’ said Black Bill, ‘let’s do the job to onct. The cap’n
war in the camp this mornin’ when I left, an’ if he’s thar this
arternoon, we’ll finish him, an’ the money-bags are ourn. But let’s
move off; it won’t do fur us to be seed together.’

“The varlets walked away, an’ I lay thar in them bushes fifteen
minutes afore I stirred. This war the fust time that I knowed Black
Bill war one of our comp’ny. To say that I war surprised to hear it,
wouldn’t half tell how I felt. I war teetotally tuk back. The idee of
that feller comin’ into our camp, when he knowed that if he war found
out, short work would be made with him! I could hardly b’lieve it. But
I couldn’t lay thar, foolin’ away time with such thoughts, when I
knowed that the cap’n’s life war in danger. So, thinkin’ the rascals
had got out of sight an’ hearin’, I crawled out of the bushes,
intendin’ to start at onct fur the camp, an’ tell the fellers what I
had jest heered. I walked down to the creek fust, to get a drink, an’
jest as I war bendin’ over, I heered the crack of a rifle; a bullet
whistled by, not half an inch from my head, an’ buried itself in the
ground. I jumped to my feet, an’ lookin’ up the bank, saw a leetle
smoke risin’ from behind a log not twenty yards distant. Grabbin’ my
rifle, which I had laid down as I war goin’ to drink, I rushed acrost
the creek, an’ the next minit war standin’ face to face with Black
Bill. Fur an instant the chap shook like a leaf, an’ turned as pale as
his black skin would let him. Then he seemed to find his wits ag’in,
fur he stuck out his hand, sayin’:

“‘By gum, Bob Kelly! is that you? I’ll be shot if I didn’t take you
fur an Injun. I’m mighty glad I didn’t hit you, Bob!’

“‘You can’t blarney me, Black Bill,’ said I. ‘I know you;’ an’ as I
stood thar lookin’ at the rascal, an’ thought of all the badness he
had done, I had half a mind to shoot him. The way of it war, the
varlet kind o’ thought that somebody had been listenin’ to what he
said ’bout robbin’ the cap’n, an’ he had hid behind the log to watch.
When he seed me come out of the bushes, he knowed that I had heered
all that had been goin’ on, an’ he thought his best plan war to leave
me thar dead. But, although he warn’t twenty yards off when he fired
at me, he missed me teetotally. Wal, when he seed that I knowed him,
an’ that he couldn’t fool me into b’lievin’ that he tuk me fur an
Injun, he thought he would skeer me, so he growled:

“‘If you know me, Bob Kelly, you know a man that won’t stand no
nonsense. I have friends not fur off, an’ if you know any thing,
you’ll travel on ’bout your own bisness.’

“‘Now, look a here, Black Bill,’ said I, ‘I haint never been in the
habit of standin’ much nonsense, neither--leastways not from such
fellers as you, an’ if you knowed me, you would know that I don’t
skeer wuth a charge of gunpowder. That ’ar is the way to the camp,
an’ if you want to live two minutes longer, you’ll travel off to
onct.’ Seein’ that he didn’t start, but that he stood eyein’ me as if
he’d a good mind to walk into me, I stepped back, an’ p’intin’ my
rifle straight at his heart, said: ‘I shan’t tell you more’n onct more
that ’ar is the way to camp. You can go thar, or you can stay here fur
the wolves, jest as you please.’

“I guess he seed that I war in ’arnest, fur he shouldered his empty
rifle, an’ started through the woods, I follerin’ close behind, ready
to drop him if he should run or show fight. I felt mighty on-easy
while travelin’ through that timber, ’cause I knowed well enough that
the rascal had friends, an’ if one of ’em should happen to see me
marchin’ Black Bill off that ’ar way, he’d drop me, sartin. But I
reached the camp in safety, an’ thar I found two of our own fellers,
an’ four that I had allers thought war friends of Black Bill. They all
jumped up as we came in, fur they knowed by the way I looked that
somethin’ war wrong, an’ one of ’em said:

“‘What’s Bosh Peters been a doin’, Bob?’

“‘That aint no Bosh Peters,’ said I; ‘that ’ar chap is Black Bill.’

“Now comes the funniest part of the hul bisness. Every trapper on the
prairy, as I told you, had heered of Black Bill, an’ when I told ’em
that my prisoner war the very chap, an’ that he had been layin’ a plan
to rob the cap’n, I never seed sich a mad set of men in my life.

“They all sot up a yell, an’ one of ’em, that I would have swore war a
friend of Black Bill, drawed his knife, an’ made at the varlet as if
he war goin’ to rub him out to onct. But my chum, Ned Roberts, ketched
him, and tuk the we’pon away from him. This sot the feller to bilin’,
and he rushed round the camp wusser nor a crazy man. He said that
Black Bill had shot his chum, an’ that he war swore to kill him
wherever he found him; and he war goin’ to do it, too. An’ the fust
thing we knowed, he grabbed somebody’s rifle, an’ jumped back to shoot
the pris’ner. But he war ketched ag’in, afore he could fire, and then
he howled wusser nor ever. Wal, we tied Black Bill to a tree in the
camp, an’ this feller kept slippin’ round, with his tomahawk in his
hand, an’ it tuk two men to get the we’pon away from him.

“The chap tuk on so, that we all thought that he told the truth, but,
(would you believe it?) I arterwards larnt that he war the very same
chap that I had heered talkin’ with Black Bill ’bout robbin’ the
cap’n. He kind o’ thought that we might know something ag’in him, an’
he carried on in that way to make us b’lieve that he war really an
enemy of Black Bill. In course we didn’t know this at the time. If we
had, he’d soon been a pris’ner too. But, supposin’ him to be tellin’
the gospel truth, we felt sorry fur him, an’ promised that Black Bill
shouldn’t ever be let loose to do meanness ag’in. While the fuss war
goin on, the trader come out; an’ when we told him what happened--how
the pris’ner an’ one of his friends, that we didn’t know, had been
layin’ a plan to do robbery an’ killin’; an’ that the chap he called
Bosh Peters war none other than Black Bill the outlaw--I never seed a
man so tuk back in my life. It skeered him purty bad. He had allers
looked upon Black Bill as one of the honestest men in the expedition;
an’, when he found that he war a traitor, he didn’t know who to trust;
an’ he tuk mighty good keer not to be alone durin’ the rest of the

“Wal, when it growed dark, the fellers began to come in from their
day’s work, some loaded with furs, an’ others with a piece of bar or
big-horn, which they had knocked over for supper. As fast as they come
in, we told ’em what war up, an’ they didn’t take it very easy, now, I
tell you.

“The idee that Black Bill, arter doin’ so much badness--robbin’ lone
trappers an’ leadin’ wild Injuns ag’in wagon trains--should come into
one of our forts, an’ stick his name down with those of honest,
hard-workin’ trappers, when he knowed that every one of ’em had plenty
ag’in him, I say it war hard to b’lieve. But thar he war, tied to a
tree, an’, when the boys come to look at him close, they wondered that
they hadn’t knowed afore that he war a villain.

“Wal, we waited a long time for all of our fellers to come in; but
thar war three of us missin’, an’ that war the only thing that saved
Black Bill. We didn’t want to pass sentence on him without lettin’ all
the boys have a chance to say somethin’; an’ as they might come in
some time durin’ the night, we thought we would keep the varlet till
morning. So we tied him, hand an’ foot, and laid him away in one of
the cabins. The cap’n’s darkey made him a bed of hemlock boughs, an’
laid him on it, abusin’ him all the while like all natur’, an’ goin’
in for shootin’ him to onct. It would have been well for one of us, if
we had put that darkey in there as a pris’ner too. But we didn’t know
it, an’ afore we got through he cost us the life of one of the best
men in our comp’ny. The fellers then all went to bed except me. I
guarded the varlet till the moon went down, and then, arter calling my
chum, who war to watch him till daylight, I went into my quarters an’
slept soundly all the rest of the night. When it come mornin’, I
awoke, an’, in a few minits, all our boys war up. The fellers had all
come in durin’ the night, an’ ole Jim Roberts--my chum’s ole man--who
war our leader, called a council. Black Bill didn’t seem to have a
friend among us, for the last man of us said as how the law must be
lived up to.

“‘Who guarded him last night?’ asked the ole man.

“‘I did,’ I answered, ’till the moon went down, and then Ned tuk my

“‘Wal, Ned, bring out the pris’ner,’ said the ole man. ‘But whar is
Ned?’ he asked, runnin’ his eye over the camp. ‘Ned! Ned Roberts!’

“I had all along s’posed that Ned war still guardin’ the pris’ner; but
when he didn’t answer, I knowed in a minit that somethin’ had been
goin’ wrong ag’in, an’ the others knowed it too, fur men who have
lived in danger all their lives aint long in seein’ through a thing of
that kind. So we all rushed to the cabin where we had left the outlaw,
an’ there lay my chum--stark an’ dead--stabbed to the heart! The
pris’ner war gone. Thar war the strips of hickory bark we had tied him
with, an’ thar war the knife he had used--but Black Bill had tuk
himself safe off. We stood thar, not knowin’ what to say or do. Ole
Jim war the fust that could speak.

“‘Another gone,’ said he; ’an’ it’s my only son; an’ now whar’s the

“He looked from one to the other of us as he said this, but no one

“‘He’s here right among you,’ said the ole man, the tears rollin’ down
his cheeks. ‘He’s right among you. That knife couldn’t got in here
without hands; an’ thar’s somebody in this yere camp, that’s helped
Black Bill in makin’ his escape. Speak, men, who’s the outlaw’s

“But still no one answered. We all knowed he war thar, but how could
we tell who it war, when we had no proff ag’in any one?

“‘Bring him out, boys,’ said the old man, at last. ‘He war a kind son,
an’ a good trapper. But he’s done his work now, an’ we’ve lost one of
the best men in our comp’ny.’

“Wal, we carried poor Ned out, an’ arter layin’ him in my cabin, we
started off on the trail of the outlaw. But he had a good long start,
an’ that night we had to come back without him. I’ve never seen him
from that day to this.

“The next mornin’ none of us went out to trap, fur we couldn’t help
thinkin’ of poor Ned. He war the fust chum I had ever had, an’ me an’
him had been together a’most ever since we had strength to shoulder a
rifle--more’n ten year--an’, in course, I war in natur’ bound to
avenge him. I staid in my quarters, wonderin’ who it war that had
helped the outlaw; when, all of a sudden, I happened to think of
somethin’ that brought me to my feet in a hurry, an’ sent me into ole
Jim’s quarters. I talked the matter over with him, told him what I
thought, an’, in a few minits more, we called our boys together, an’
war marchin’ t’wards the trader’s camp. The darkey war cookin’ his
master’s breakfast, in front of the cabin, singin’ an’ whistlin’ as
jolly as could be; but when he seed us a comin’ he shet up in a
mighty hurry, an’ actooally turned white! I knowed he wouldn’t act
that ar’ way if he warn’t guilty, so I sung out, ‘Here’s the traitor,

“The darkey, seein’ that the thing war out, started to run. He hadn’t
gone far, howsomever, afore we had him, an’ then he ’fessed the hul
bisness. He said he had told the outlaw that the cap’n war goin’ to
take his money-bags with him, an’ that, bein’ the last to leave Black
Bill arter we had tied him, he had hid the knife in his bed. The
pris’ner’s arms had been fastened above his elbows, an’, in course,
havin’ a sharp we’pon, it war the easiest thing in the world to cut
himself loose, an’ to pitch into poor Ned afore he knowed it. Arter he
had ’fessed this, we held a council, an’ prairy law tuk its course.
This skeered the trader wusser nor ever. If his own servant war
treacherous, he couldn’t trust nobody. So he ordered us to break up
our camp an’ strike fur the fort. When we got thar, an’ offered to
give up our hosses an’ we’pons, he wouldn’t listen to it at all. He
said that we had saved him an’ his money-bags, an’ that we could keep
our kit, an’ welcome.

“Wal, our huntin’ expedition bein’ broke up, we put out on our own
hook. We still thought that them four fellers b’longed to Black Bill’s
party, an’ we soon found that it war so; fur we had hardly got out of
sight, afore they started fur the mountains. They knowed ’bout whar to
go to find the outlaw, an’ they’ve been with him ever since, robbin’
an’ stealin’. One of his party has been rubbed out, but thar ar’ four
of them left yet, an’ they do a heap of mischief. I have looked an’
watched fur ’em fur years, an’ if I never find ’em, I shall leave ’em
to Dick; so I know justice will be done ’em. If you had knowed all
these things, youngster, I don’t reckon you would have slept very
sound in Black Bill’s camp.”


The King of the Drove.

The travelers had been intensely interested in the old trapper’s
story, and not even the thought that the danger was passed, and that
Frank was safe in camp again, could altogether quiet their feelings.
Frank was more astonished than ever, and he secretly determined that
he would never again lose sight of the wagon, if he could avoid it.
But, if he should again be compelled to take an involuntary ride, and
should happen to fall in with strangers on the prairie, he would give
them a wide berth.

Mr. Winters said nothing. He did not think that the occasion demanded
that he should caution his nephew, for it was by no means probable
that the latter would soon forget his night in the outlaw’s camp.

His adventures, which were the subject of a lengthy conversation, did
not, however, entirely quench his love of excitement, and when, after
a hearty dinner on buffalo hump, Archie proposed a short ride on the
prairie, he agreed to accompany him, and, as soon as he had caught and
saddled his uncle’s horse, was ready for the start. As they rode along
out of the woods, Archie informed his cousin that another herd of
buffaloes had been seen that morning by old Bob, feeding near the base
of the mountains, and announced his determination of endeavoring to
shoot one, if they should happen to come across them. As there was now
no danger of being stampeded--both of their horses being old buffalo
hunters--Frank agreed to the proposal, and followed his cousin, who
led the way toward the place where the buffaloes had last been seen.
Swell after swell they mounted, straining their eyes in every
direction, without discovering the wished-for game.

But they saw something else that excited them quite as much as the
sight of a herd of buffaloes would have done; for, as Archie, who had
ridden some distance in advance of his cousin, reached the top of one
of the hills, Frank saw him suddenly draw rein, and back his horse
down the swell, out of sight of something which he had discovered on
the other side. He then rode back to meet Frank, and, as soon as he
came within speaking distance, whispered, excitedly:

“There’s a big drove of wild horses out there.”

Frank waited to hear no more, but, throwing his bridle to his cousin,
dismounted from his horse, and, going cautiously to the top of the
swell, looked over. Sure enough, there they were, about half a mile
distant, probably five hundred of them, scattered about over
the prairie, some feeding, and others prancing about, as if
wholly unconscious of danger. Among them was one horse--an
iron-gray--rendered conspicuous by his great size and extraordinary
beauty, which galloped about as if he were “monarch of all he
surveyed.” Frank remembered what Dick had told him about every drove
of wild horses having a “master,” and, as he watched his movements,
and noticed how the other horses shied at his approach, he came to the
conclusion that the gray horse was the king. He gazed at them for some
time, admiring their rapid, graceful movements, and thinking how fully
the gray would supply the place of the horse he had lost, when he
noticed that the animals were feeding directly toward him. Fearful of
being discovered, he crawled back down the swell, and rejoined his

“What shall we do?” asked the latter, excitedly.

“Don’t you suppose Dick could catch one of those fellows?” inquired

“Of course he could,” answered Archie, quickly. “Didn’t he catch that
black mustang he told us about--a horse that every body had tried to
catch, and couldn’t? Let’s go back, and ask him to try.”

The boys hastily remounted, and started for the camp as fast as their
horses could carry them. Archie, of course, led the way, and, as he
dashed up to the wagon, he threw himself from the saddle, exclaiming:

“Dick, there’s a drove of wild horses out there on the prairie. Jump
on Sam, and go and catch one for Frank.”

“That’s the same drove I seed day afore yesterday,” said old Bob, “an’
that’s what I meant when I told Frank we’d put him on hossback ag’in
afore he war two days older. Ketch my hoss, Dick.”

Dick did as he was desired, and, by this time, Frank had come up,
Archie, in his eagerness, having left him far behind.

“Did you skeer ’em, youngsters?” asked old Bob, as he went to the
wagon and drew out two rawhide lassos, one of which he handed to Dick.

“No,” replied Frank. “They didn’t see us. Dick, catch the king--he’s a
large iron-gray--the prettiest horse in the drove. If I could have
him, I would be glad I lost Pete.”

“Wal, now, that ar’ will be a hard thing to do, youngsters,” replied
the trapper, coiling up his lasso, and hanging it on the horn of his
saddle; “a mighty hard thing to do. Them ar’ kings ar’ allers the
swiftest hosses in the drove; an’ it aint every ole buffaler hunter
that can keep up with ’em.”

Archie was astonished to hear the trapper speak so lightly of Sleepy
Sam, a horse that had several times proved himself to be possessed of
great speed; but Dick hastened to explain.

“I aint sayin’ nothin’ ag’in your hoss, little one, no more’n I am
ag’in Bob’s. But if you had chased wild hosses as often as I have, you
would know that a hoss can beat any thing in a wagon train, an’ yet
have no bisness with the king of a drove. I won’t say that we’ll ketch
that gray fur you, Frank, but we’ll try hard, an’ if he is too fast
fur us, we’ll lasso one of the others, sartin. We’ll bring back
somethin’ fur you to ride.”

By this time the trappers were ready for the start. Mr. Winters and
the boys accompanied them to the edge of the prairie, and there Bob
and Dick left them, after repeatedly assuring Frank that it was not
their intention to return empty-handed.

When they had disappeared, Mr. Winters and the boys seated themselves
on the ground, and for nearly an hour, waited and listened for the
sound of the pursuit. Suddenly a single horse appeared upon the summit
of a distant swell, and facing about, stood as if regarding some
object that had excited his curiosity. Then came another, and another,
and in a moment more the entire drove appeared, running at the top of
their speed. One minute elapsed--two--three--and then two more horses
suddenly arose over the swell, and followed swiftly after the drove.
The chase had begun in earnest. The boys were surprised, and not a
little discouraged, to see the trappers so far behind. But still they
had great confidence in them, and Frank was already reconciled to the
loss of his horse, and confident that he would own another before he
went to sleep that night. The chase was tending directly toward the
mountains, and it presented a sight the boys would have been loth to
miss. Nearer and nearer came the wild steeds, prancing and snorting,
and looking back at the strange objects that were pursuing them.
Presently, among the foremost ones, the boys discovered the gray king.
He moved over the ground as lightly as if he had been furnished with
wings, and as Frank watched his movements, he reluctantly came to the
conclusion that if his endurance was as great as his speed, he must
content himself with one of the common horses of the drove. They
continued to advance until they came within a quarter of a mile of the
willows, when they seemed, for the first time, to discover that their
retreat in that direction was cut off by the mountains. This appeared
to confuse and frighten them. The foremost ones slackened their speed,
but seeing their pursuers close behind them, the drove suddenly
divided, part of the horses turning one way, and the rest going the
other. The trappers had kept their eyes on the king, and, when he
turned, they singled him out from the others, and followed him with
increased speed. The gray mustang made an exhibition of his powers
that was truly surprising; but the trappers took a “short cut” on him,
and gained so rapidly that Frank’s hopes rose again. Sleepy Sam was
running splendidly; but, to the surprise of all, old Bob’s ungainly,
raw-boned horse, in answer to a yell from his rider, bounded past him.
All this happened in much less time than we have taken to describe it.
The horses moved with wonderful rapidity, and, in a very few moments
after the drove divided, the gray king and the trappers were out of
sight behind the swells, and all sounds of the chase had died away in
the distance.

Mr. Winters then returned to the camp, while the excited boys again
seated themselves on the ground, and waited long and impatiently for
the trapper’s return. The hours slowly wore away, and, finally, the
sun went down, but still no signs of the horsemen. It soon began to
grow dark, and the boys were obliged to return to the wagon. Frank
prepared supper that evening, but their appetites must have gone off
with the gray mustang, for they ate but little. They sat beside the
fire until midnight, straining their ears to catch the first sounds of
the trapper’s return; but nothing but the occasional howl of a wolf
broke the stillness; and, finally, growing tired of watching, they
spread their blankets and went to sleep. At the first peep of day they
were again stirring, and, after a hasty breakfast, they stationed
themselves in the edge of the willows, to await the return of the
horsemen. In about two hours their patience was rewarded by the
discovery of several objects moving along the summit of a distant
swell. As they approached, the boys recognized the trappers, and in
half an hour they were within speaking distance. Could Frank believe
his eyes? Was Dick really riding the gray king? It was a horse that
bore a strong resemblance to him, and Frank felt confident that the
animal he had so much admired, was really his own. Nor was he
deceived; for, as they came up, Dick exclaimed:

“Here we ar’, youngsters. We’ve got him, sure as shootin’. Easy thar,”
he continued, as the delighted boys walked slowly around him, admiring
his fine points. “If you know any thing you’ll keep cl’ar of his
heels. He aint very good natur’d.”

This was very evident; for the trapper had scarcely spoken before the
mustang began to show his temper. He danced about in the most lively
manner; first rearing up almost straight in the air, and then kicking
with both hind feet. His plunges were furious and desperate, and the
boys fully expected to see the trapper unseated. But the latter,
although he had no saddle--that being a contrivance he despised--and
only had his lasso twisted around the gray’s lower jaw, for a bridle,
kept the animal completely under his control, and rode him into the
camp in triumph.

“The critter led us ’bout as long an’ as lively a race as we ever
run,” said Dick, after the gray had been securely fastened to a tree.
“An’ it war only by accident that we ketched him. I don’t reckon I am
sayin’ too much when I say that I never seed a hoss run faster nor
hold out better nor he did--not even the black mustang. We went ’round
on the other side of the drove afore we started ’em, on purpose to
make ’em run t’wards the mountains. That give you a good sight of
somethin’ you never seed afore, an’ by it we gained on the gray when
he turned. Wal, he kept ahead of us for ten or twelve miles, gainin’
on us all the while, fur when he seed that we war arter him in
’arnest, the way he did climb over the prairy war a purty thing to
look at--when, all to onct, we found ourselves in a prairy-dog’s nest.
The prairy, as far as a feller could see, war like a honey-comb. I
’spected every minit that my hoss would break through, an’ at last he
did. But the gray broke in fust--went down clean to the top of his
legs, an’ couldn’t git out. I war sartin we had him, an’ war jest
goin’ to throw my lasso, when my hoss went in, an’ kerchunk I went on
the ground. But ole Bob war on hand, an’ he ketched him. We told you,
Frank, that we’d put you on horseback ag’in, an’ now that we’ve done
it, I don’t reckon you’ll lose this animal by campin’ with Black


How the Trapper got his Horse.

After supper, the travelers seated themselves around the fire, and the
trappers lighted their pipes. After smoking awhile in silence, old Bob

“As I have told you afore, youngsters, it aint always a easy job to
lasso the king of a drove of wild hosses. The runnin’ we done to-day
arter the gray warn’t nothin’ to what we kalkerlated to do when we
left here; an’ if he hadn’t got into that prairy-dogs’ nest, thar’s no
knowin’ how many miles he would a been from here by this time. When I
war a youngster, I went to the Saskatchewan fur the fust time, with a
party of six trappers--Dick’s ole man war one of ’em--an’, being
keerless, like all young fellers, I soon made away with one of the
best hosses I ever owned. I run him clean blind arter a herd of
buffaler. I soon got another, howsomever, but it warn’t as good a one
as I wanted; an’ I begun to look around to find a critter that suited
me. One day I come acrost a drove of wild hosses, an’, arter foolin’
round them fur awhile, I diskivered that they war led by a
chestnut-colored critter--a purty feller--an’ I made up my mind that
he war just the one I wanted. I had never ketched a wild hoss then,
an’ I had heered enough about them to know that them kings ar’ allers
the best animals in the drove, an’ that it takes a hoss as is a hoss
to keep up with one of ’em. But I could throw the lasso tolible sharp,
an’ war jest ’bout that age when youngsters think they know more’n
any body else on ’arth; so I thought I could ketch him easy. Wal, I
dodged round them till I got within ’bout half a mile of ’em, and then
put out arter the king; but, human natur, how he did run! I follered
him ’bout four mile, and then turned t’ward the camp, thinkin’ that
mebbe thar war a few things I didn’t know nothin’ at all ’bout. Some
days arterward, I seed him ag’in; but he run away from me easy, an’ I
went back to the camp to be laughed at fur my trouble. But I knowed
that I should have plenty of chances to ketch him afore we started fur
hum--we war to stay thar till spring--so I said nothin’, but kept
lookin’ round, an’ every time I seed the chestnut king, me an’ him had
a race.

“I got him at last--not in the way I expected, howsomever--an’, to
make the story plain, I must tell you what happened ’bout three year
afore that.

“I war born on the banks of the Missouri River, ’bout twenty mile from
whar St. Joseph now stands. It war thar my ole man fust larnt me how
to handle a rifle an’ ride a wild mustang. Thar war a fort ’bout a
mile from our cabin, whar the ole man allers went to sell his furs. It
warn’t no ways safe thar, in them days, fur all that country b’longed
to the Injuns, who warn’t very friendly t’ward white settlers. But,
whenever thar war any trouble, we had a safe place to go to, an’ onct,
when I war only twelve year ole, I stood ’side my ole man, in the
fort, an’ helped drive off atween four an’ five hundred red-skins. I
done so well that ole hunters an’ trappers slapped me on the back,
sayin’ that I war a ‘chip o’ the ole block,’ and that I’d be a better
Injun-hunter nor my father some day. This pleased my ole man, an’
when the Injuns had gone, he took me on a trappin’ expedition with
him. Thar war four of us, an’ we war gone all winter. I ketched my
share of the furs, an’ killed two grizzly bars, which war something
for a chap of my years to brag on. Wal, we reached hum in the spring,
an’, arter I had stayed at our cabin two or three days, tellin’ my
mother big stories of what I had seed, an’ what I had done, the ole
man sent me down to the fort to trade off our spelter. I ought to say
that on our way hum we had dodged a large party of Injuns that war on
a scalpin’ expedition. They had been off a fightin’ with another
tribe, an’, havin’ got thrashed, they warn’t in very good humor. I war
afraid they might take it into their heads to visit the country ’round
the fort, an’ massacree the settlers; but the ole man laughed at me,
an’ told me to go ’long ’bout my bisness, an’ sell them furs. So, as I
war sayin’, I sot out fur the fort, an’, while I war makin’ a bargain
with the trader, a trapper came in on a hoss that war a’most ready to
drop, an’ said that the Injuns war strikin’ fur the fort. I don’t
reckon that they intended to come afore night; but this trapper had
got away from ’em, an’, knowin’ that he would alarm the settlers, the
Injuns jest thought they would make a rush, an’ massacree men, women,
an’ children, afore they could reach the fort.

“Wal, I didn’t wait to hear no more; but, grabbin’ up my we’pons,
started fur hum arter the old folks. Purty quick I heered a firm’ an’
yellin’, an’ made up my mind that them as didn’t reach the fort in
less nor ten minits would be goners, sartin, fur the Injuns war
comin’, sure enough. A little further on I met my mother, who told me
that the ole man an’ a few more of the settlers war fightin’ back the
Injuns to give the women an’ young ones time to git safe under kiver.
My mother war a’most too ole to walk so fur, so I took her on my hoss,
and carried her t’wards the fort, intendin’ that as soon as I had seed
her safe I would come back arter the ole man. But jest as I reached
the fort, I heered a loud yellin’ an’ whoopin’, an’, lookin’ back, I
seed the settlers comin’ out of the woods, with the Injuns clost
behind ’em. Thar war, as nigh as I could guess, ’bout two hundred
red-skins, an’ not more’n twenty white fellers; so, in course, thar
warn’t no ’arthly use to think of fightin’ in cl’ar open ground. The
settlers war comin’ as fast as their hosses could fetch ’em, an’ the
Injuns war clost arter ’em, intendin’ to kill or captur’ ’em all afore
they could reach the fort. I seed the ole man among the settlers, an’
made up my mind that he war safe, fur he rid a good hoss, when, all to
onct, he dropped his rifle, throwed up his hands, an’ fell from his
saddle. The settlers kept on; fur, in course, they couldn’t help him,
an’ the ole man tried to follor ’em; but I seed him pulled down an’
tomahawked, ’bout two hundred yards from the fort, by a young Injun,
whom, from his bar’s claws, an’ other fixins, I tuk to be a chief. My
ole shootin’ iron war good fur that distance, so I drawed up and
blazed away. But my hand trembled, an’ I seed that Injun make off with
the ole man’s scalp. That war a long time ago, youngsters; but I can
see that varlet yet, an’ hear the yell he give as he shook the scalp
at us in the fort, an’ ran back into the woods. Of them twenty men
that war in the fight, ’bout a dozen rode safe into the fort. The
others war massacreed afore our very eyes, an’ we couldn’t help ’em.

“Wal, the Injuns stayed round in the edge of the tim’er fur ’bout two
hours, yellin’ an’ firm’ at us; but, knowin’ that they could not take
the fort--fur they tried that twice--they all set up a yelp an’ put
off, burnin’ every thing as they went. It war a sad day fur that
settlement. Nigh every family war mournin’ fur somebody; but I war
wusser off nor any of ’em. My mother carried a heap of years on her
shoulders, an’ when she seed the ole man pulled down an’ scalped, it
gave her a shock she never got over. We buried them both nigh the
fort, an’ arter stayin’ round fur a week or two, I sot out with a
party of trappers fur our ole huntin’ grounds on the Saskatchewan. I
never forgot that young Injun, an’ all I keered fur or thought ’bout,
war to meet him. I jest knowed that I should find him ag’in some day,
an’ if I had met him among his tribe, with hundreds of his friends
standin’ round, I would have knowed him.

“Wal, as I war sayin’, I sot out with this party of trappers, an’ it
war on the Saskatchewan that I fust diskivered this chestnut king that
I had made up my mind to have. I follered him a’most all winter, an’
the more I seed him run, the more I wanted to ketch him. I ’tended to
my shar’ of the trappin’, but every chance I got I war arter them
hosses. At last they put off somewhar, an’ I never seed ’em ag’in. I
couldn’t think what had ’come on ’em, but I knowed that they had gone
clean out of the country, an’ that I should have to look fur another
hoss, an’ give up all hopes of ketchin’ the chestnut.

“When spring opened, an’ it come good travelin’ we held a council, an’
settled it that we should start fur the fort to onct. We war in a
hurry to get away, too, fur some of our fellers had seen Injun sign
’bout two miles from the camp; so, one mornin’ we sot out to gather up
our traps. I had ’bout five mile to go to reach my trappin’ ground, so
I rode off on a gallop. I went along mighty keerless, fur I didn’t
b’lieve what them fellers had said ’bout seein’ Injun sign, but I soon
larnt that ole trappers never get fooled ’bout sich things. I hadn’t
gone more’n a mile from the camp, when, whizz! something whistled by
my head, an’ went chuck into a tree on the other side of me. It war an
arrer, an’ afore I could look round to see whar it come from, I heered
a yell, an’ the next minit a hoss popped out of the bushes, an’ came
t’wards me. An Injun war on his back, an’ in one hand he carried a
long spear, an’ with the other he held his bow an’ guided his hoss. As
soon as he got cl’ar of the bushes, he p’inted that spear straight at
my breast, an’ came at me, full jump. I war a youngster then. I hadn’t
been in as many rough-an’-tumble fights with wild Injuns as I have
been since, an’ I would have give all the spelter I had trapped that
winter if I had been safe in camp. These war the fust thoughts that
went through my mind. But arter I had tuk jest one good look at the
Injun an’ his hoss, I wouldn’t have been away from thar fur nothin’.
The Injun war the young chief that had rubbed out my ole man, an’ the
hoss war the chestnut king--the very one I had been tryin’ to ketch
fur a’most a year. So, you see, I had two things to work fur. Fust, I
had swore to have that Injun’s scalp; next, I wanted that hoss; an’ I
made up my mind that I wouldn’t leave that ’ar place till I had ’em
both. The young chief war so clost to me that I didn’t have time to
shoot, so I sot still in my saddle, an’ when I seed the p’int of the
spear ’bout two foot from my breast, I stuck out my rifle an’ turned
the we’pon aside. Then, jest as the Injun war goin’ by me, I ketched
him by the scalp-lock, quicker nor lightnin’, an’ pulled him from his
hoss. My own hoss warn’t trained wuth a plug o’ tobacker, an’, skeered
by the fuss, an’ the Injuns yellin’, he give a jump, an’ the fust
thing I knowed, me an’ the young chief war rollin’ on the ground
together. I’ve had one or two wild savages by the top-knot since then,
but I never got hold of a chap of his size that war so strong an’
wiry. When I fust ketched him, I allowed to rub him out easy, fur I
war purty good on a rough-an’-tumble, an’ it warn’t every body that
could take my measure on the ground; but when I ketched that Injun, I
found that I had come acrost a varmint. We fell side by side, I all
the while hangin’ on to his har; but afore I could think whar I war,
or what a doin’, I found the young chief on top of me; an’, both his
hands bein’ free, he commenced feelin’ fur his knife. In course I
couldn’t allow that, so I ketched one of his arms, which he twisted
out of my grasp, as easy as though I had no strength at all. I tried
this two or three times, but findin’ that I couldn’t hold him, I
fastened on his belt which held the knife, an’, with one jerk, tore it
loose, an’ flung it over my head. The Injun, findin’ that his we’pon
war gone, whooped an’ yelled wusser nor ever. We war on even terms
now, fur my knife war under me, an’ neither of us could git at it.
Then I began tryin’ to git him off me; but it war no use, an’ the
Injun findin’ that I breathed hard, held still an’ quiet, hopin’ that
I would soon tire myself out, an’ then he would have no trouble in
gittin’ away from me. But I war layin’ my plans all this while, an’,
watchin’ the Injun clost, I ketched him off his guard, an’ went to
work in ’arnest. By the way that chap kicked an’ yelled, I guess he
thought I had only been foolin’ with him afore, an’ the way he did
fight warn’t a funny thing fur me to think of jest then. But it war no
use. I thrashed around till I got hold of my knife, an’, in a minit
arter that, the young chief had give his last yell. Arter bein’ sartin
that he was done fur, I jumped up an’ run t’wards the mustang, which
had stood a little way off watchin’ the fight, as though he war
wonderin’ who would come out at the top of the heap. I ketched him
easy, an’ arter takin’ the young Injun’s top-knot, I picked up his
we’pons--here’s one of ’em, youngsters.”

As the trapper spoke, he drew his hatchet from his belt and handed it
to Archie, who sat nearest him. The boys remembered that the first
time they met old Bob, they had noticed that his hatchet was different
from any they had ever seen. The blade was long and narrow, and as
keen as a razor. The back part of the hatchet was hollow, as was also
the handle, and thus the weapon could be made to answer the purpose of
a pipe. The handle was also ingeniously carved, but was so worn by
long and constant usage, that the figures upon it could not be
distinguished. The travelers had often noticed that the old trapper
was very particular about his “tomahawk,” as he invariably called it;
but now that they knew its history, they did not wonder that he
considered it worth preserving. When the boys had examined the weapon
to their satisfaction, they returned it to old Bob, who continued:

“Wal, arter I had tuk the young chiefs scalp an’ we’pons, (I had his
knife, too, but I lost that in the Missouri River by bein’ upset in a
canoe,) I jumped on my new hoss, and rode t’wards the camp, leavin’ my
ole mustang to go where he pleased. When I reached our fellers, I
found ’em all busy packin’ up. They had diskivered signs of a large
party of Injuns, an’ they said that the sooner we got away from thar
the better it would be fur us. We traveled all that night an’ all the
next day, an’ got safe off. I had the laugh on my side then, fur ’em
fellers all said I couldn’t never put a bridle on the chestnut king;
an’ when I told ’em my story ’bout the young chief, you ought to seed
them open their eyes. I hadn’t been fooled ’bout the good pints of
that ar’ hoss, fur he war a critter that suited me exactly. He carried
me safe through many a fight with grizzly bars an’ Injuns; but,
finally, I lost him but a few miles from whar I fust seed him--on the
Saskatchewan. I never trapped on that river yet without losin’
somethin’. I have lost two chums thar; throwed away four or five
winter’s work--or jest the same as throwed it away, fur all my furs
war captur’d by the Injuns, an’ thar I lost this hoss.”


Old Bob’s Adventure.

The old trapper paused for a moment to refill his pipe, and then

“I went out as usual with a party of trappers, fur in them days it
warn’t no way safe fur a feller to go thar alone. We war a’most sartin
to be chased by the Injuns, but them as got away with a hul skin,
allers went back as soon as they could make up a comp’ny, fur it war
thar the best trappin’ war to be found.

“If all the red-skins we have rubbed out thar could come to life
ag’in, I reckon thar would be lots of ’em, an’ if all our poor fellers
who have had thar har raised on the plains of that same river, could
come back, you’d see a heap of fine trappers. An’ if me an’ Dick could
have all the furs we have lost thar, I’ll allow it would keep us in
pipes an’ tobacker fur a year or two. In them days, a feller could git
a good rifle fur a beaver or otter skin, an’ a fust rate hoss fur two
or three mink skins. Our furs war the only thing we had to depend on
to buy us a new outfit; so when we lost all our winter’s work, it
warn’t a thing to laugh at.

“Wal, as I war sayin’, I went out with this party of fellers, an’, as
usual, not the least bit of Injun sign did we see durin’ the winter.
As a gen’ral thing the red-skins don’t run ’round much in cold
weather--leastways, they don’t go fur from their camps; but by the
time the snow is off the ground, they ar’ well-nigh out of grub, an’
have to start out on their huntin’ expeditions. The Saskatchewan war a
good place fur them to come to, fur thar war plenty of game; but the
country warn’t big enough for them an’ us; so when they begun comin’
in, it war high time fur us to be goin’ out. Thar war five of us in
the party, an’ as every man knowed his own bisness, by the time spring
come we had as much spelter as four hosses could pack away. When the
snow commenced goin’ off, we kept a good lookout fur Injuns--fur the
trappin’ war so fine we didn’t want to leave so long as it war safe
to stay--an’, one mornin’, as I war comin’ in from tendin’ to my
traps, I seed whar two Injuns had crossed the creek. That war enough
fur me, so I put for the camp, but didn’t find nobody thar. The
fellers war all out tendin’ to their bisness; an’, in course, I warn’t
goin’ away without ’em; so I packed up my spelter ready fur the start,
and while waitin’ fur ’em, kept sharp watch on all sides fur Injuns.
’Bout noon I heered a hoss comin’, an’, in a few minits, up rid one of
our fellers with his huntin’ shirt all bloody. As soon as I seed him,
I knowed that the game war up.

“‘Bob!’ says he, ‘Get away from here to onct. Bill Coffee is done fur
(that war his chum), an’ you can see how nigh they come to rubbin’ me
out too. Some varlet sent an arrer clean through my arm. Hand me my
pack o’ furs, and let’s be off to onct, I tell you.’

“This man--Bill Simons his name war--war the oldest an’ bravest man in
our comp’ny, an’ he war our leader. Although I didn’t like the idee of
leavin’ them fellers out thar in the woods with them Injuns--fur every
one of ’em had done me a kindness--I knowed I couldn’t do them no good
by stayin’; fur, when Bill Simons deserted his own brother, thar
warn’t no use of any body’s tryin’ to help him. So I handed Bill his
furs, grabbed up my own, jumped on my hoss, an’ we started. It war no
light load them hosses had to carry, fur our spelter war a’most as
heavy as we war. But we couldn’t think of leavin’ ’em behind without
makin’ one effort to save ’em, fur we had worked hard fur ’em, an’
didn’t want ’em to fall into the hands of them lazy Injuns. As we rid
along, we made up our minds that we would stick together as long as we
could, an’ that we wouldn’t drop our furs as long as we seed the least
chance of escapin’ with ’em. But if we had knowed any thing, we would
have throwed away them packs to onct, fur hangin’ on to ’em so long
was jest the very thing that got us ketched. We run our hosses with
them heavy loads, till they war clean done out; an’ when the Injuns
got arter us, they war a’most ready to drop. Wal, as I war sayin’, we
rid along fur ’bout two mile, keepin’ a good lookout on all sides fur
Injuns, an’, finally, we seed ’em behind us. Thar war ’bout twenty of
’em, an’ as soon as I sot eyes on ’em, I somehow knowed that we war

“‘Bob,’ said Bill, turnin’ to me, ‘our scalps ar’ wuth more nor this
spelter. It is time to run in ’arnest now.’

“He throwed down his pack, as he spoke, an’ then his hoss went faster.
But I, bein’ young an’ foolish, didn’t like the idee of losin’ my
winter’s work; so I held on to my pack, till, findin’ that Bill war
leavin’ me behind, I throwed it away Thar war our eight months’ wages
gone. We had worked hard an’ froze among the snows of the mountains
fur nothin’. But we hadn’t gone fur afore we diskivered that we had
oughter throwed ’em away long ago. Both our hosses run as though they
had traveled all day, an’ it war plain as bar’s ears that they
couldn’t go much further. Every time we looked back we seed that the
Injuns war gainin’ on us fast, an’ the way they yelled told us that
they, too, knowed that they would soon have us. I looked t’wards Bill,
an’ although I could read in his face that he knowed we war ketched,
he didn’t seem the least bit skeary. He had been in jest such scrapes
afore. He had often been a pris’ner, but he war strong as a hoss,
could run like a skeered deer, an’ had allers succeeded in gittin’
away from the Injuns at last. I, howsomever, had never been in the
hands of the red-skins, but I knowed, from the stories I had often
heered, that they didn’t treat a feller very kind, an’ this set me to
thinkin’. The Injuns knowed Bill, an’ wouldn’t they know me to? The
young chief I had rubbed out b’longed to that same tribe, an’ wouldn’t
his friends ’member the hoss, an’ the knife, an’ tomahawk I carried in
my belt? I could throw the we’pons away, an’, arter thinkin’ a leetle,
I did. I unbuckled my belt, an’, jest as we went over a swell out of
sight of the Injuns, I dropped knife, tomahawk, an’ all, hopin’ that
the red-skins would never find ’em; fur I knowed that if they thought
I had ever rubbed out any of the tribe, I would ketch the wust kind of

“Wal, all this while the Injuns had been gainin’ on us, fur, the
further we went, the slower our hosses run, an’ all the whippin’ an’
poundin’ we could do, didn’t make them go no faster. They war
well-nigh tuckered out. Purty quick I see Bill turn in his saddle an’
draw up his ole shootin’ iron. He war bound to die game. I watched the
shot, an’ couldn’t help givin’ a yell when I seed one of the varlets
drop from his hoss. The Injuns had all this while been ridin’ clost
together; but findin’ that we war goin to begin shootin’, they
scattered, an’ throwed themselves flat on their hosses’ backs, so that
we couldn’t hit ’em. But we war sartin of our game, no matter how
small a mark we had to shoot at, an’ when I fired, I seed an Injun an’
his hoss come to the ground together. By this time, Bill war ready
ag’in, an’ down come another Injun.

“If our hosses had only been fresh, we could have picked off the last
one of ’em afore they could have ketched us. But the varlets kept
gainin’ all the time, an’ purty quick they got nigh enough to use
their we’pons, an’ the way the arrers whistled ’bout our heads warn’t
pleasant, now I tell you. But we kept shootin’ at ’em as fast as we
could load up, bringin’ down an Injun at every pop--till some chap
sent his arrer into my hoss’s side--an’ the next minit I war sprawlin’
on the ground. Bill kept on, but he hadn’t gone fur afore he got an
arrer through his neck, which brought him from his saddle, dead. I
jest seed this as I war tryin’ to get up; fur my hoss had fell on my
leg, an’ war holdin’ me down. Jest arter Bill fell, the Injuns come up
an’ I war a pris’ner. I couldn’t tell you how I felt, youngsters. I
had heered enough to know that much depended on my showin’ a bold
front; but it takes a man of mighty strong nerve to look a dozen
yellin’, scowlin’ Injuns in the face, without onct flinchin’.
Howsomever, I kept a leetle courage ’bout me, I guess, fur when one
chap jumped, an’ drawed his bow with an arrer p’inted straight at my
breast, I looked him in the eye without winkin’; an’ when another
ketched me by the har, an’ lifted his tomahawk as if he had a good
notion to make an end of me to onct, I stood as still an’ quiet as
though I didn’t see him. Arter this had been goin’ on fur a while, the
Injuns seemed to grow tired of it, fur my hands war bound behind my
back, an’ one feller fetched up Bill’s hoss, an’ war goin’ to put me
on him, when the critter, bein’ clean tired out, give a grunt an’ lay
right down on the prairy. The Injuns seemed to think the hoss war no
’count, fur they turned him loose, an’ I war lifted on to a mustang
behind one of the savages. I didn’t think much of this at the time,
but I arterward had reason to be glad that the varlets had left Bill’s
hoss out thar on the prairy.

“It war ’bout five mile to the place whar the Injuns had made their
camp, an’ while on the way thar I warn’t bothered at all, fur they
seed that I warn’t skeered easy. When we reached the village--which
must have had nigh two hundred Injuns in it--I found that I warn’t the
only pris’ner, fur thar war Pete Simons, Bill’s brother, tied to a
post in the middle of the camp, an’ he war surrounded by men, women,
and young uns, who war beatin’ him with sticks, an’ tormentin’ him
every way they knowed how; but findin’ that they couldn’t make Pete
show fear--fur that war something he didn’t have in him--they left
him, when I came up, and pitched into me. I didn’t mind ’em much,
howsomever, although I _did_ wince jest the least bit when one feller
struck at me with his tomahawk, and jest grazed my face; but they
didn’t see it; an’ purty quick one big feller ketched me by the har,
an’, arter draggin’ me up to the post, tied me with my back to Pete’s.
It then wanted ’bout three hours of sundown, an’ the Injuns, arter
holdin’ a leetle council, made up their minds to have some fun; so
they untied me an’ Pete, an’ led us out on the prairy ’bout three or
four hundred yards, an’ thar left us. We looked back an’ seed the
Injuns all drawed up in a line, with their we’pons in their hands, an’
knowed that the varlets had give us a chance to run for our lives. In
course they didn’t mean fur us to git away, but they wanted the fun
of seein’ us run, never dreamin’ but some of their fleet braves would
ketch us afore we had gone fur. I never looked fur ’em to give us sich
a chance fur life as that, an’ I made up my mind that I would learn
’em to think twice afore they give a white trapper the free use of his
legs ag’in. I a’most knowed I war safe, but I felt shaky ’bout Peter,
fur the Injuns had shot him with two arrers afore they ketched him,
an’ he war hurt bad. I didn’t think he could run far--nor he didn’t,
neither; fur when we shook hands an’ wished each other good luck, he
said to me, ‘Bob, I wish I had my rifle.’ He meant by that, if he had
his ole shootin’ iron in his hands, he wouldn’t die alone; he would
have fit the Injuns as long as he could stand. Wal, as I war sayin’,
we shook hands an’ bid each other good-by, an’ jest then I heered a
yell. I jumped like a flash of lightnin’, an’ made t’wards a little
belt of tim’er which I could see, ’bout two miles acrost the prairy. I
war runnin’ fur my life, an’ I reckon I made the best time I knowed
how. I soon left poor Pete behind, an’, when I had gone about a mile,
I heered a yell, that told me as plain as words, that he had been
ketched. I never stopped to look back, but kept straight ahead, an’
in a few minits more I war in the woods. The yellin’ of the Injuns had
been growin’ louder an’ louder, so I knowed that they were gainin’ on
me, an’ that if I kept on they would soon ketch me; so, as soon as I
found myself fair in the tim’er, I turned square off to the right, an’
takin’ to every log I could find, so as to leave as leetle trail as
possible fur them to foller, I ran ’bout a hundred yards further, an’
then dived into a thick clump of bushes, whar I hid myself in the
leaves an’ brush. I had kinder bothered the varlets, for a leetle
while arter, they came into the woods, an’ went on through, as if they
thought I had kept on t’wards the prairy. But I knowed that they
wouldn’t be fooled long; an’ when I heered by their yellin’ that they
had left the woods, I crawled out of the bushes to look up a better
hidin’-place. Arter listenin’ an’ lookin’, to be sartin that thar war
no Injuns ’round, I ag’in broke into a run, an’ finally found a holler
log at the bottom of a gully, whar I thought I had better stop; so I
crawled into the log, an’ jest then I heered the Injuns coming back.
They knowed that I war hid somewhar in the tim’er, an’ they all
scattered through the woods, hopin’ to find me afore it ’come
dark--yellin’ all the while, as though they didn’t feel very
good-natured ’bout bein’ fooled that ar’ way. I knowed that they
couldn’t foller my trail easy, but thar war so many of ’em, that I war
afraid somebody might happen to stumble on my hidin’-place. But they
didn’t; an’ arter awhile it ’come dark, an’ the varlets had to give up
the search. I waited till every thing war still, an’ then crawled out
of my log, and struck fur the prairy. I warn’t green enough to b’lieve
that they war all gone, fur I knowed that thar war Injuns layin’
’round in them woods watchin’ an’ waitin’ fur me. In course I didn’t
want to come acrost none of ’em, fur I had no we’pon, and I would have
been ketched sartin; so I war mighty keerful; an’ I b’lieve I war two
hours goin’ through the hundred yards of woods that lay atween me an’
the prairy. When I reached the edge of the tim’er, I broke into a run.
If thar war any Injuns ’round, they couldn’t see me, fur the night war
dark; an’ they couldn’t hear me, neither, fur my moccasins didn’t make
no noise in the grass. I kept on, at a steady gait, fur ’bout two
hours, an’ finally reached the place whar I war captur’d. Arter a
leetle lookin’ and feelin’, I found my belt and we’pons. I felt a
heap better then, fur I had something to defend myself with; but still
I didn’t feel like laughin’, fur I war afoot, an’, havin’ no rifle, I
couldn’t think how I war to git grub to eat. But I war better off nor
while I war a pris’ner ’mong the Injuns; so I knowed I hadn’t oughter
complain. Arter takin’ one look at poor Bill, whom the Injuns, arter
havin’ scalped, had left whar he had fallen, an’ promisin’ that every
time I seed a Blackfoot Injun I would think of him, I ag’in sot out.
Arter I had gone ’bout half a mile further, the moon riz, an’, as I
war running along, I seed something ahead of me. I stopped to onct,
fur I didn’t know but it might be a Injun; but another look showed me
it war a hoss. He war feedin’ when he fust seed me, but, when he
heered me comin’, he looked up, an’ give a leetle whinny that made me
feel like hollerin’. It war Bill Simons’s hoss. How glad I war to see
him! An’ he must a been glad to see me, too, fur he let me ketch him;
an’ when I got on his back, I didn’t keer, jest then, fur all the
Injuns on the plains. The critter had had a good rest, an’, when I
spoke to him, he started off just as lively as though he war good fur
a hundred mile. Wal, I rid all that night, an’, ’arly the next
mornin’, I found myself nigh a patch of woods whar we allers made our
camp when goin’ to an’ from the Saskatchewan, an’ I thought I would
stop thar and git a leetle rest, fur I war tired an’ hungry. So I rid
through the woods, an’, when I come in sight o’ our ole campin’
ground, I seed something that made me feel like hollerin’ ag’in; an’ I
_did_ holler; fur thar war two of our comp’ny--the only ones that
’scaped ’sides me--jest gettin’ ready to start off. They stopped when
they seed me--an’, youngsters, you may be sartin that we war glad to
meet each other ag’in. One of ’em war Bill Coffee, who I thought war
dead. He war bad hurt, but he got off without losin’ his har, an’ he
felt mighty jolly over it. Arter they had told me ’bout their fight
with the Injuns--an’ they jest _did_ get away, an’ that war all--I
told ’em ’bout Bill Simons bein’ killed, and how me an’ Pete had run a
race with the varlets, an’ we all swore that the Blackfeet wouldn’t
make nothin’ by rubbin’ out them two fellers. I stayed thar long
enough to rest a little an’ eat a piece of meat that one of ’em give
me, an’ then we all sot out fur the fort, which we reached all right.
We laid ’round fur ’bout a month, an’ then--would you b’lieve it?--we
three fellers made up another comp’ny, an’ put fur the Saskatchewan
ag’in. None of us ever forgot our promise, an’ every time we drawed a
bead on a Blackfoot, we thought of Bill an’ Pete Simons.”


Homeward Bound.

The travelers remained at the “ole bar’s hole” three weeks, instead of
one, as they had at first intended. Game of every description was
plenty; there were no Indians to trouble them; in short, they were
leading a life that exactly suited the boys, who were in no hurry to
resume their journey, which was becoming tiresome to them. Besides,
their supply of bacon was exhausted, and the trappers undertook to
replenish the commissary. This they did by “jerking” the meat of the
buffaloes that had been killed during the hunt in which Frank had
taken his involuntary ride. They cut the meat into thin strips, and
hung it upon frames to dry--the sun and the pure atmosphere of the
prairie did the rest. The meat was thoroughly cured without smoke or
salt, and although the boys did not relish it as well as the bacon,
they still found it very palatable. To Dick, it was like meeting with
an old friend. He had always been accustomed to jerked Buffalo meat,
and he ate great quantities of it, to the exclusion of corn-bread and
coffee, of which he had become very fond.

In addition to this, the gray mustang demanded a large share of their
attention. He was very unruly, extremely vicious, and attempted to use
his teeth or heels upon every thing that approached him. But these
actions did not in the least intimidate Dick, who was a most excellent
horseman; and, after several rides over the prairie, coupled with the
most severe treatment, he succeeded in subduing the gray, which was
turned over to his young master, with the assurance that he was “a
hoss as no sich ole buffaler hunter as Sleepy Sam could run away

This declaration was instantly resisted by Archie, who forthwith
challenged Frank to a race; but it was not until the latter had fully
satisfied himself that the mustang was completely conquered that he
accepted the proposition. When he had been robbed of his horse, Frank
had lost something that could not again be supplied, and that was his
saddle. As for a bridle, he soon found that the trapper’s lasso
twisted about the gray’s lower jaw, answered admirably; but it was a
long time before he could bring himself to believe that his blanket
could be made to do duty both as saddle and bed. After a week’s
practice, however, he began to feel more at home on his new horse;
and, one morning, as he rode out with his cousin, he informed him that
he was prepared for the race. Archie, always ready, at once put Sleepy
Sam at the top of his speed; but the gray king had lost none of his
lightness of foot during his captivity, and before they had gone fifty
yards he had carried Frank far ahead. Race after race came off that
day, and each time Sleepy Sam was sadly beaten. Archie was compelled
to acknowledge the gray’s superiority, and declared that he “wouldn’t
mind camping with Black Bill himself if he could be certain of no
worse treatment than Frank had received, and could gain as good a
horse as the gray king by the operation.”

The mustang having been thoroughly broken to saddle, and the travelers
supplied with meat, there was nothing now to detain them at the cave.
So, one morning Dick harnessed his mules, and they prepared to resume
their journey. Before starting, however, the boys explored the “ole
bar’s hole” for the twentieth time, and as long as they remained in
sight, they turned to take a long, lingering look at the place which
was now associated with many exciting adventures.

Instead of traveling back to the road the train had taken, the trapper
led them southward, and, after a long and tedious journey through the
mountains, they reached Bridget’s Pass, and a few days afterward they
arrived at a fort of the same name. They camped there one night, and
then turned their faces toward Salt Lake City, which they reached in
safety. Mr. Winters led the way to a hotel, where an excellent dinner
was served up for them. After passing more than two months in the
saddle, subsisting upon the plainest food, it is no wonder that the
boys were glad to find themselves seated at a table once more. Fresh
meat and vegetables of all kinds disappeared before their attacks, and
they finally stopped because they were ashamed to eat more. After
dinner, being informed by their uncle that they would remain in the
city until the following day, in order to give the trappers time to
lay in a fresh supply of provisions, the boys started out to see the
sights. Evidences of prosperity met their eyes on every side. Some of
the buildings were elegant, the streets broad and clean, and filled
with vehicles. Wagon trains were constantly coming and going, and the
principal business seemed to be to supply these with provisions.
Archie thought it must be a splendid place to live in, so near good
hunting grounds; but he could not help glancing pityingly toward a
youth about his own age, whom they met on the street, and wondering
“how many mothers that poor fellow had to boss him around.”

When it began to grow dark they returned to their hotel, where they
retired early. They thought they could enjoy a good night’s rest in a
comfortable bed, but their expectations were not realized. They could
not go to sleep. First, they thought the quilts were too heavy, and
they kicked them off on the floor. Then the mattress was too
soft--they could scarcely breathe--and after rolling and tossing for
half the night, they spread the quilts on the floor, and there slept
soundly until morning.

Their journey through Utah and Nevada into California, was
accomplished without incident worthy of note; and, in due time, they
arrived at Sacramento. Here it was that their uncle had been located
previous to his return to Lawrence, and consequently they were at
their journey’s end. As soon as Mr. Winters had settled up his
business, they would return to the States by steamer. This was
communicated to the trappers the morning after their arrival, and it
was an arrangement at which Dick was both surprised and grieved. After
a short consultation with old Bob, they both approached and announced
their determination of returning to the mountains immediately.

“We’ve got to go sometime,” said Dick, “that ar’ sartin; an’ the
longer we stay, the harder it ’comes to leave.”

Mr. Winters then broached the subject of payment for their services,
to which the trappers would not listen, neither would they accept the
offer of the horses, mules, and wagon, Dick declaring that by acting
as their guide he had found a “chum” in the oldest and best trapper on
the prairie, and that was worth more to him than any thing else. Money
he did not need; and as for the mules and wagon, he had no use for
them. And evidently wishing to bring the interview to a close, as
soon as possible, he hastily shook Mr. Winters by the hand, and bade
him good-by.

His parting from the boys was not so easily accomplished. He extended
a hand to each, and, for some moments, stood looking earnestly at
them, without speaking. At length, he said:

“I don’t like to say good-by to you, youngsters. I had hoped that I
should guide you back to the States. But you know your own bisness
better nor I do, so I oughtn’t to grumble. I wish you could allers
stay with me. I’d take mighty good keer of you. But our trails lay in
different directions. You go back to your friends, an’ me an’ ole Bob
go to the mountains, to hunt, an’ trap, an’ fight Injuns, as we have
done fur many a long year.”

“You’ll need a horse then, Dick,” interrupted Frank. “You certainly
will not refuse the gray king! Take him, and keep him to remember us

“Youngsters,” said the trapper, struggling hard to keep back something
that appeared to be rising in his throat, “it don’t need no hoss to
make me ’member you. But I’ll take him, howsomever, as a present from
you, an’ every time I look at him, I shall think of you away off in
the States.”

“And, Dick,” chimed in Archie, “if you ever see Black Bill, don’t
forget that he stole my relics.”

“I won’t forget it, little ’un. An’ now, good-by. It aint no ways
likely that we shall ever see each other ag’in; but I hope that when
you git hum, an’ tell your friends of your trip acrost the plains,
that you will give one thought to your ole friend Dick Lewis, the
trapper. Good-by, youngsters.”

The guide wrung their hands, and then gave way to old Bob, who also
seemed to regret that the parting time had come; and when the
farewells had all been said, the trappers mounted their horses, rode
rapidly down the street and disappeared.

It was not at all probable that the boys would ever forget those
rough, but kind-hearted men--for the guides held a prominent place in
their affections. Although they were in a busy city, surrounded by
friends--for Mr. Winters had a large circle of acquaintances in
Sacramento--they were lonesome now that the trappers had gone, and
their thoughts often wandered off in search of those two men, now on
their lonely journey to the mountains.

At the end of two weeks Mr. Winters had settled up his business, and,
one morning, they took the stage for Benicia; thence they went by boat
to San Francisco. Here they took passage on board a mail steamer to
Panama, thence by rail to Aspinwall, where they found another steamer,
that took them safely to Boston. At Portland, which they reached in
due time, they remained a week, and then all set out for Lawrence.
Frank had written to his mother when to expect them, and they found
all the inmates of the cottage on the watch. As the carriage that
brought them from the wharf drew up before the gate, Brave announced
the fact by a joyful bark, that brought Mrs. Nelson and Julia to the
door, where the travelers were warmly received. Besides strong frames,
sunburnt faces, and good appetites, the boys brought back from the
plains a fund of stories that was not exhausted that evening, nor the
next, and even at the end of two weeks they still had something to
talk about. The skins of the bears were stuffed and mounted, side by
side, in the museum, together with those of several prairie wolves,
big-horns, and that of the antelope the boys had killed the morning
they were lost on the prairie. Archie never grew tired of relating
the particulars of his adventure with the grizzly, and when he told
of their being lost, he never forgot to mention how Sleepy Sam had
“landed him in the water.”

And now that the young hunters were among their friends again, did
they ever “give one thought” to their guide? They often talked of
him--his stories were still fresh in their memories, and his many acts
of kindness could never be forgotten. Whenever they recounted their
adventures, or related the little history of the new objects they had
mounted in their museum, they always spoke of him, and many an earnest
wish went out from them for the welfare of DICK LEWIS, THE TRAPPER. In
their subsequent career in the gun-boat service, they often related
incidents of his life to their messmates.

                             THE END.

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