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Chapter 20 New plans—Our travellers join the fur-traders, and see man_trange things—A curious fight—A narrow escape, and a prisoner taken.

  • Not long after the events related in the last chapter, our four friends, Dick, and Joe, and Henri, and Crusoe, agreed to become for a time members of Walte_ameron’s band of trappers. Joe joined because one of the objects which th_raders had in view was similar to his own mission, namely, the promoting o_eace among the various Indian tribes of the mountains and plains to the west.
  • Joe, therefore, thought it a good opportunity of travelling with a band of me_ho could secure him a favourable hearing from the Indian tribes they migh_hance to meet with in the course of their wanderings. Besides, as the trader_arried about a large supply of goods with them, he could easily replenish hi_wn nearly exhausted pack by hunting wild animals and exchanging their skin_or such articles as he might require.
  • Dick joined because it afforded him an opportunity of seeing the wild, majestic scenery of the Rocky Mountains, and shooting the big-horned shee_hich abounded there, and the grizzly “bars,” as Joe named them, or “Caleb,” as they were more frequently styled by Henri and the other men.
  • Henri joined because it was agreeable to the inclination of his ow_ollicking, blundering, floundering, crashing disposition, and because h_ould have joined anything that had been joined by the other two.
  • Crusoe’s reason for joining was single, simple, easy to be expressed, easy t_e understood, and commendable. _He_ joined—because Dick did.
  • The very day after the party left the encampment where Dick had shot th_rizzly bear and the deer, he had the satisfaction of bringing down a splendi_pecimen of the big-horned sheep. It came suddenly out from a gorge of th_ountain, and stood upon the giddy edge of a tremendous precipice, at _istance of about two hundred and fifty yards.
  • “ _You_ could not hit that,” said a trapper to Henri, who was rather fond o_eering him about his short-sightedness.
  • “Non!” cried Henri, who didn’t see the animal in the least; “say you dat? v_hall see;” and he let fly with a promptitude that amazed his comrades, an_ith a result that drew from them peals of laughter.
  • “Why, you have missed the mountain!”
  • “Oh, non! dat am eempossoble.”
  • It was true, nevertheless, for his ball had been arrested in its flight by th_tem of a tree not twenty yards before him.
  • While the shot was yet ringing, and before the laugh above referred to ha_ealed forth, Dick Varley fired, and the animal, springing wildly into th_ir, fell down the precipice, and was almost dashed to pieces at their feet.
  • This Rocky Mountain or big-horned sheep was a particularly large and fine one, but, being a patriarch of the flock, was not well suited for food. It wa_onsiderably larger in size than the domestic sheep, and might be described a_omewhat resembling a deer in the body and a ram in the head. Its horns wer_he chief point of interest to Dick; and, truly, they were astounding! Thei_normous size was out of all proportion to the animal’s body, and they curve_ackwards and downwards, and then curled up again in a sharp point. Thes_reatures frequent the inaccessible heights of the Rocky Mountains, and ar_ifficult to approach. They have a great fondness for salt, and pay regula_isits to the numerous caverns of these mountains, which are encrusted with _aline substance.
  • Walter Cameron now changed his intention of proceeding to the eastward, as h_ound the country not so full of beaver at that particular spot as he ha_nticipated. He therefore turned towards the west, penetrated into th_nterior of the mountains, and took a considerable sweep through the lovel_alleys on their western slopes.
  • The expedition which this enterprising fur-trader was conducting was one o_he first that ever penetrated these wild regions in search of furs. Th_round over which they travelled was quite new to them, and having no guid_hey just moved about at haphazard, encamping on the margin of every stream o_iver on which signs of the presence of beaver were discovered, and settin_heir traps.
  • Beaver-skins at this time were worth 25 shillings a piece in the markets o_ivilised lands, and in the Snake country, through which our friends wer_ravelling, thousands of them were to be had from the Indians for trinkets an_aubles that were scarce worth a farthing. A beaver-skin could be procure_rom the Indians for a brass finger ring or a penny looking-glass. Horses wer_lso so numerous that one could be procured for an axe or a knife.
  • Let not the reader, however, hastily conclude that the traders cheated th_ndians in this traffic, though the profits were so enormous. The ring or th_xe was indeed a trifle to the trader, but the beaver-skin and the horse wer_qually trifles to the savage, who could procure as many of them as he chos_ith very little trouble, while the ring and the axe were in his estimation o_riceless value. Besides, be it remembered, to carry that ring and that axe t_he far distant haunts of the Red-man cost the trader weeks and months o_onstant toil, trouble, anxiety, and, alas! too frequently cost him his life!
  • The state of trade is considerably modified in these regions at the presen_ay. It is not more _justly_ conducted, for, in respect of the value of good_iven for furs, it was justly conducted _then_ , but time and circumstance_ave tended more to equalise the relative values of articles of trade.
  • The snow which had prematurely fallen had passed away, and the trappers no_ound themselves wandering about in a country so beautiful and a season s_elightful, that it would have seemed to them a perfect paradise, but for th_avage tribes who hovered about them, and kept them ever on the _qui vive_.
  • They soon passed from the immediate embrace of stupendous heights and dar_orges to a land of sloping ridges, which divided the country into a hundre_uxuriant vales, composed part of woodland and part of prairie. Through thes_umerous rivers and streams flowed deviously, beautifying the landscape an_nriching the land. There were also many lakes of all sizes, and these swarme_ith fish, while in some of them were found the much-sought-after and highl_steemed beaver. Salt springs and hot springs of various temperatures abounde_ere, and many of the latter were so hot that meat could be boiled in them.
  • Salt existed in all directions in abundance, and of good quality. A sulphurou_pring was also discovered, bubbling out from the base of a perpendicular roc_hree hundred feet high, the waters of which were dark-blue, and tasted lik_unpowder. In short, the land presented every variety of feature calculated t_harm the imagination and delight the eye.
  • It was a mysterious land, too, for broad rivers burst in many places from th_arth, flowed on a short space, and then disappeared as if by magic into th_arth from which they rose. Natural bridges spanned the torrents in man_laces, and some of these were so correctly formed that it was difficult t_elieve they had not been built by the hand of man. They often appeare_pportunely to our trappers, and saved them the trouble and danger of fordin_ivers. Frequently the whole band would stop in silent wonder and awe as the_istened to the rushing of waters under their feet, as if another world o_treams, and rapids, and cataracts were flowing below the crust of earth o_hich they stood. Some considerable streams were likewise observed to gus_rom the faces of precipices, some twenty or thirty feet from their summits, while on the top no water was to be seen.
  • Wild berries of all kinds were found in abundance, and wild vegetables, besides many nutritious roots. Among other fish splendid salmon were found i_he lakes and rivers; and animal life swarmed on hill and dale. Woods an_alleys, plains, and ravines, teemed with it. On every plain the red-dee_razed in herds by the banks of lake and stream; wherever there were cluster_f poplar and elder-trees and saplings, the beaver was seen nibblin_ndustriously with his sharp teeth, and committing as much havoc in th_orests as if they had been armed with the woodman’s axe; otters sported i_he eddies; racoons sat in the tree-tops; the marten, the black fox, and th_olf, prowled in the woods in quest of prey; mountain sheep and goats browse_n the rocky ridges, and badgers peeped from their holes.
  • Here, too, the wild horse sprang snorting and dishevelled from his mountai_etreats—with flourishing mane and tail, spanking step, and questionin_aze,—and thundered away over the plains and valleys, while the rocks echoe_ack his shrill neigh. The huge, heavy, ungainly elk, or moose-deer, _trotted_way from the travellers with speed equal to that of the mustang. Elks seldo_allop; their best speed is attained at the trot. Bears, too, black, an_rown, and grizzly, roamed about everywhere.
  • So numerous were all these creatures, that on one occasion the hunters of th_arty brought in six wild horses, three bears, four elks, and thirty red-deer; having shot them all a short distance ahead of the main body, and almos_ithout diverging from the line of march. And this was a matter of every-da_ccurrence—as it had need to be, considering the number of mouths that had t_e filled.
  • The feathered tribes were not less numerous. Chief among these were eagles an_ultures of uncommon size, the wild goose, wild duck, and the majestic swan.
  • In the midst of such profusion the trappers spent a happy time of it, when no_olested by the savages, but they frequently lost a horse or two i_onsequence of the expertness of these thievish fellows. They often wandered, however, for days at a time without seeing an Indian, and at such times the_njoyed to the full the luxuries with which a bountiful God had blessed thes_omantic regions.
  • Dick Varley was almost wild with delight. It was his first excursion into th_emote wilderness; he was young, healthy, strong, and romantic; and it is _uestion whether his or his dog’s heart, or that of the noble wild horse h_estrode, bounded most with joy at the glorious sights, and sounds, an_nfluences by which they were surrounded. It would have been perfection had i_ot been for the frequent annoyance and alarms caused by the Indians.
  • Alas! alas! that we who write and read about those wondrous scenes should hav_o condemn our own species as the most degraded of all the works of th_reator there! Yet so it is. Man, exercising his reason and conscience in th_ath of love and duty which his Creator points out, is God’s noblest work; bu_an, left to the freedom of his own fallen will, sinks morally lower than th_easts that perish. Well may every Christian wish and pray that the name an_he gospel of the blessed Jesus may be sent speedily to the dark places of th_arth; for you may read of, and talk about, but you _cannot conceive_ th_iendish wickedness and cruelty which causes tearless eyes to glare, an_addened hearts to burst, in the lands of the heathen.
  • While we are on this subject let us add (and our young readers will come t_now it if they are spared to see many years) that _civilisation_ alone wil_ever improve the heart. Let history speak and it will tell you that deeds o_arkest hue have been perpetrated in so-called civilised, though pagan lands.
  • Civilisation is like the polish that beautifies inferior furniture, whic_ater will wash off if it be but _hot enough_. Christianity resembles dye, which permeates every fibre of the fabric, and which nothing can eradicate.
  • The success of the trappers in procuring beaver here was great. In all sort_f creeks and rivers they were found. One day they came to one of the curiou_ivers before mentioned, which burst suddenly out of a plain, flowed on fo_everal miles, and then disappeared into the earth as suddenly as it ha_isen. Even in this strange place beaver were seen, so the traps were set, an_ hundred and fifty were caught at the first lift.
  • The manner in which the party proceeded was as follows: They marched in a mas_n groups or in a long line, according to the nature of the ground over whic_hey travelled. The hunters of the party went forward a mile or two i_dvance, and scattered through the woods. After them came the advance-guard, being the bravest and most stalwart of the men mounted on their best steeds, and with rifle in hand; immediately behind followed the women and children, also mounted, and the pack-horses with the goods and camp equipage. Anothe_and of trappers formed the rear-guard to this imposing cavalcade. There wa_o strict regimental order kept, but the people soon came to adopt th_rrangements that were most convenient for all parties, and at length fel_aturally into their places in the line of march.
  • Joe Blunt usually was the foremost and always the most successful of th_unters. He was therefore seldom seen on the march except at the hour o_tarting, and at night when he came back leading his horse, which alway_roaned under its heavy load of meat, Henri, being a hearty, jovial soul an_ond of society, usually kept with the main body. As for Dick, he wa_verywhere at once, at least as much so as it is possible for human nature t_e! His horse never wearied; it seemed to delight in going at full speed; n_ther horse in the troop could come near Charlie, and Dick indulged him b_ppearing now at the front, now at the rear, anon in the centre, an_requently _nowhere_!—having gone off with Crusoe, like a flash of lightning, after a buffalo or a deer. Dick soon proved himself to be the best hunter o_he party, and it was not long before he fulfilled his promise to Crusoe, an_ecorated his neck with a collar of grizzly bear claws.
  • Well, when the trappers came to a river where there were signs of beaver, the_alled a halt, and proceeded to select a safe and convenient spot, near woo_nd water, for the camp. Here the property of the band was securely piled i_uch a manner as to form a breastwork or slight fortification, and here Walte_ameron established head-quarters. This was always the post of danger, bein_xposed to sudden attack by prowling savages, who often dogged the footstep_f the party in their journeyings to see what they could steal. But Camero_as an old hand, and they found it difficult to escape his vigilant eye.
  • From this point all the trappers were sent forth in small parties ever_orning in various directions, some on foot and some on horseback, accordin_o the distances they had to go; but they never went further than twent_iles, as they had to return to camp every evening.
  • Each trapper had ten steel traps allowed him. These he set every night, an_isited every morning, sometimes oftener, when practicable, selecting a spo_n the stream where many trees had been cut down by beavers for the purpose o_amming up the water. In some places as many as fifty tree stumps were seen i_ne spot, within the compass of half an acre, all cut through at abou_ighteen inches from the root. We may remark, in passing, that the beaver i_ery much like a gigantic water-rat, with this marked difference, that it_ail is very broad and flat like a paddle. The said tail is a greatly esteeme_rticle of food, as, indeed, is the whole body at certain seasons of the year.
  • The beaver’s fore-legs are very small and short, and it uses its paws as hand_o convey food to its mouth, sitting the while in an erect position on it_ind-legs and tail. Its fur is a dense coat of a greyish-coloured down, concealed by long coarse hair, which lies smooth, and is of a bright chestnu_olour. Its teeth and jaws are of enormous power; with them it can cut throug_he branch of a tree as thick as a walking-stick at one snap; and, as we hav_aid, it gnaws through thick trees themselves.
  • As soon as a tree falls, the beavers set to work industriously to lop off th_ranches, which, as well as the smaller trunks, they cut into lengths, according to their weight and thickness. These are then dragged by main forc_o the water side, launched, and floated to their destination. Beavers buil_heir houses, or “lodges,” under the banks of rivers and lakes, and alway_elect those of such depth of water that there is no danger of their bein_rozen to the bottom; when such cannot be found, and they are compelled t_uild in small rivulets of insufficient depth, these clever little creature_am up the waters until they are deep enough. The banks thrown up by the_cross rivulets for this purpose are of great strength, and would do credit t_uman engineers. Their “lodges” are built of sticks, mud, and stones, whic_orm a compact mass; this freezes solid in winter, and defies the assaults o_hat house-breaker, the wolverine, an animal which is the beaver’s implacabl_oe. From this “lodge,” which is capable often of holding four old and six o_ight young ones, a communication is maintained with the water below the ice, so that, should the wolverine succeed in breaking up the lodge, he finds th_amily “not at home,” they having made good their retreat by the back-door.
  • When man acts the part of house-breaker, however, he cunningly shuts the back- door _first_ , by driving stakes through the ice, and thus stopping th_assage. Then he enters, and, we almost regret to say, finds the family a_ome. We regret it, because the beaver is a gentle, peaceable, affectionate, hairy little creature, towards which one feels an irresistible tenderness!
  • But, to return from this long digression.
  • Our trappers having selected their several localities, set their traps in th_ater, so that when the beavers roamed about at night, they put their fee_nto them, and were caught and drowned; for, although they can swim and div_dmirably, they cannot live altogether under water.
  • Thus the different parties proceeded, and in the mornings the camp was a bus_cene indeed, for then the whole were engaged in skinning the animals. Th_eavers thus taken were always skinned, stretched, dried, folded up with th_air in the inside, laid by, and the flesh used for food.
  • But oftentimes the trappers had to go forth with the gun in one hand and thei_raps in the other, while they kept a sharp look out on the bushes to guar_gainst surprise. Despite their utmost efforts a horse was occasionally stole_efore their very eyes, and sometimes even an unfortunate trapper wa_urdered, and all his traps carried off.
  • An event of this kind occurred soon after the party had gained the wester_lopes of the mountains. Three Iroquois Indians, who belonged to the band o_rappers, were sent to a stream about ten miles off. Having reached thei_estination, they all entered the water to set their traps, foolishl_eglecting the usual precaution of one remaining on the bank to protect th_thers. They had scarcely commenced operations, when three arrows wer_ischarged into their backs, and a party of Snake Indians rushed upon and sle_hem, carrying away their traps, and horses, and scalps. This was not know_or several days, when, becoming anxious about their prolonged absence, Cameron sent out a party which found their mangled bodies affording _oathsome banquet to the wolves and vultures.
  • After this sad event the trappers were more careful to go in larger parties, and keep watch.
  • As long as beaver were taken in abundance the camp remained stationary, bu_henever the beaver began to grow scarce, the camp was raised, and the part_oved on to another valley.
  • One day Dick Varley came galloping into camp with the news that there wer_everal bears in a valley not far distant, which he was anxious not to distur_ntil a number of the trappers were collected together to go out and surroun_hem.
  • On receiving the information Walter Cameron shook his head.
  • “We have other things to do, young man,” said he, “than go a-hunting afte_ears. I’m just about making up my mind to send off a party to search out th_alley on the other side of the Blue Mountains yonder, and bring back word i_here are beaver there, for if not, I mean to strike away direct south. Now, if you’ve a mind to go with them, you’re welcome. I’ll warrant you’ll fin_nough in the way of bear-hunting to satisfy you; perhaps a little India_unting to boot, for if the Banattees get hold of your horses, you’ll have _ong hunt before you find them again. Will you go?”
  • “Ay, right gladly,” replied Dick. “When do we start?”
  • “This afternoon.”
  • Dick went off at once to his own part of the camp to replenish his powder-hor_nd bullet pouch, and wipe out his rifle.
  • That evening the party, under command of a Canadian named Pièrre, set out fo_he Blue Hills. They numbered twenty men, and expected to be absent thre_ays, for they merely went to reconnoitre, not to trap. Neither Joe nor Henr_ere of this party, both having been out hunting when it was organised. Bu_rusoe and Charlie were, of course!
  • Pièrre, although a brave and trusty man, was of a sour, angry disposition, an_ot a favourite with Dick, but the latter resolved to enjoy himself an_isregard his sulky comrade. Being so well mounted, he not unfrequently sho_ar ahead of his companions, despite their warnings that he ran great risk b_o doing. On one of these occasions he and Crusoe witnessed a very singula_ight, which is worthy of record.
  • Dick had felt a little wilder in spirit that morning than usual, and on comin_o a pretty open plain he gave the rein to Charlie, and with an “ _Adieu me_omerades_ ,” he was out of sight in a few minutes. He rode on several mile_n advance without checking speed, and then came to a wood where rapid motio_as inconvenient, so he pulled up, and, dismounting, tied Charlie to a tree, while he sauntered on a short way on foot.
  • On coming to the edge of a small plain he observed two large birds engaged i_ortal conflict. Crusoe observed them too, and would soon have put an end t_he fight had Dick not checked him. Creeping as close to the belligerents a_ossible, he found that one was a wild turkey-cock, the other a white-heade_agle! These two stood with their heads down and all their feathers bristlin_or a moment, then they dashed at each other, and struck fiercely with thei_purs as our domestic cocks do, but neither fell, and the fight was continue_or about five minutes without apparent advantage on either side.
  • Dick now observed that, from the uncertainty of its motions, the turkey-coc_as blind, a discovery which caused a throb of compunction to enter his breas_or standing and looking on, so he ran forward. The eagle saw him instantly, and tried to fly away, but was unable from exhaustion.
  • “At him, Crusoe,” cried Dick, whose sympathies all lay with the other bird.
  • Crusoe went forward at a bound, and was met by a peck between the eyes tha_ould have turned most dogs, but Crusoe only winked, and the next moment th_agle’s career was ended.
  • Dick found that the turkey-cock was quite blind, the eagle having thrust ou_oth its eyes, so, in mercy, he put an end to its sufferings.
  • The fight had evidently been a long and severe one for the grass all round th_pot, for about twenty yards, was beaten to the ground, and covered with th_lood and feathers of the fierce combatants.
  • Meditating on the fight which he had just witnessed, Dick returned towards th_pot where he had left Charlie, when he suddenly missed Crusoe from his side.
  • “Hallo, Crusoe! here, pup, where are you?” he cried.
  • The only answer to this was a sharp whizzing sound, and an arrow, passin_lose to his ear, quivered in a tree beyond. Almost at the same momen_rusoe’s angry roar was followed by a shriek from some one in fear or agony.
  • Cocking his rifle, the young hunter sprang through the bushes towards hi_orse, and was just in time to save a Banattee Indian from being strangled b_he dog. It had evidently scented out this fellow, and pinned him just as h_as in the act of springing on the back of Charlie, for the halter was cut, and the savage lay on the ground close beside him.
  • Dick called off the dog, and motioned to the Indian to rise, which he did s_imbly that it was quite evident he had sustained no injury beyond th_aceration of his neck by Crusoe’s teeth, and the surprise.
  • He was a tall strong Indian, for the tribe to which he belonged, so Dic_roceeded to secure him at once. Pointing to his rifle and to the Indian’_reast, to show what he might expect if he attempted to escape, Dick ordere_rusoe to keep him steady in that position.
  • The dog planted himself in front of the savage, who began to tremble for hi_calp, and gazed up in his face with a look which, to say the least of it, wa_he reverse of amiable, while Dick went towards his horse for the purpose o_rocuring a piece of cord to tie him with. The Indian naturally turned hi_ead to see what was going to be done, but a peculiar _gurgle_ in Crusoe’_hroat made him turn it round again very smartly, and he did not venture, thereafter, to move a muscle.
  • In a few seconds Dick returned with a piece of leather and tied his hand_ehind his back. While this was being done the Indian glanced several times a_is bow, which lay a few feet away, where it had fallen when the dog caugh_im, but Crusoe seemed to understand him, for he favoured him with such a_dditional display of teeth, and such a low—apparently distant, almost, w_ight say, subterranean— _rumble_ , that he resigned himself to his fate.
  • His hands secured, a long line was attached to his neck with a running noose, so that if he ventured to run away the attempt would effect its own cure b_roducing strangulation. The other end of this line was given to Crusoe, wh_t the word of command marched him off, while Dick mounted Charlie and brough_p the rear.
  • Great was the laughter and merriment when this apparition met the eyes of th_rappers; but when they heard that he had attempted to shoot Dick their ir_as raised, and a court-martial was held on the spot.
  • “Hang the reptile!” cried one.
  • “Burn him!” shouted another.
  • “No, no,” said a third; “don’t imitate them villains; don’t be cruel. Let’_hoot him.”
  • “Shoot ’im,” cried Pièrre; “Oui, dat is de ting; it too goot pour lui, mais, it shall be dooed.”
  • “Don’t ye think, lads, it would be better to let the poor wretch off?” sai_ick Varley; “he’d p’raps give a good account o’ us to his people.”
  • There was a universal shout of contempt at this mild proposal. Unfortunately, few of the men sent on this exploring expedition were imbued with th_eacemaking spirit of their chief; and most of them seemed glad to have _hance of venting their hatred of the poor Indians on this unhappy wretch, wh_lthough calm, looked sharply from one speaker to another, to gather hope, i_ossible, from the tones of their voices.
  • Dick was resolved at the risk of a quarrel with Pièrre to save the poor man’_ife, and had made up his mind to insist on having him conducted to the cam_o be tried by Cameron, when one of the men suggested that they should tak_he savage to the top of a hill about three miles further on, and there han_im up on a tree as a warning to all his tribe.
  • “Agreed, agreed,” cried the men; “come on.”
  • Dick, too, seemed to agree to this proposal, and hastily ordered Crusoe to ru_n ahead with the savage, an order which the dog obeyed so vigorously tha_efore the men had done laughing at him, he was a couple of hundred yard_head of them.
  • “Take care that he don’t get off!” cried Dick, springing on Charlie an_tretching out at a gallop.
  • In a moment he was beside the Indian. Scraping together the little of th_ndian language he knew, he stooped down, and, cutting the thongs that boun_im, said—“Go, white men love the Indians.”
  • The man cast on his deliverer one glance of surprise, and the next momen_ounded aside into the bushes and was gone.
  • A loud shout from the party behind showed that this act had been observed, an_rusoe stood with the end of the line in his mouth, and an expression on hi_ace that said, “You’re absolutely incomprehensible, Dick! It’s all right, _know_ ; but to my feeble capacity it _seems_ wrong.”
  • “Fat for, you do dat?” shouted Pièrre in a rage, as he came up with a menacin_ook.
  • Dick confronted him. “The prisoner was mine. I had a right to do with him a_t liked me.”
  • “True, true,” cried several of the men who had begun to repent of thei_esolution, and were glad the savage was off. “The lad’s right. Get along, Pièrre.”
  • “You had no right, you vas wrong. Oui, et I have goot vill to give you on_nock on de nose.”
  • Dick looked Pièrre in the face, as he said this, in a manner that cowed him.
  • “It is time,” he said quietly, pointing to the sun, “to go on. Your bourgeoi_xpects that time won’t be wasted.”
  • Pièrre muttered something in an angry tone, and, wheeling round his horse, dashed forward at full gallop followed by the rest of the men.
  • The trappers encamped that night on the edge of a wide grassy plain, whic_ffered such tempting food for the horses that Pièrre resolved to forego hi_sual cautious plan of picketting them close to the camp, and set them loos_n the plain, merely hobbling them to prevent their straying far.
  • Dick remonstrated, but in vain. An insolent answer was all he got for hi_ains. He determined, however, to keep Charlie close beside him all night, an_lso made up his mind to keep a sharp look out on the other horses.
  • At supper he again remonstrated.
  • “No fraid,” said Pièrre, whose pipe was beginning to improve his temper. “Th_ed reptiles no dare to come in open plain when de moon so clear.”
  • “Dun know that,” said a taciturn trapper, who seldom ventured a remark of an_ind; “them varmints ’ud steal the two eyes out o’ you’ head when they se_heir hearts on’t.”
  • “Dat ar’ umposs’ble, for de have no hearts,” said a half-breed; “dey have vo_ole vere de heart vas be.”
  • This was received with a shout of laughter, in the midst of which an appallin_ell was heard, and, as if by magic, four Indians were seen on the backs o_our of the best horses, yelling like fiends, and driving all the other horse_uriously before them over the plain.
  • How they got there was a complete mystery, but the men did not wait t_onsider that point. Catching up their guns they sprang after them with th_ury of madmen, and were quickly scattered far and wide. Dick ordered Cruso_o follow and help the men, and turned to spring on the back of Charlie, bu_t that moment he observed an Indian’s head and shoulders rise above th_rass, not fifty yards in advance from him, so without hesitation he darte_orward, intending to pounce upon him.
  • Well would it have been for Dick Varley had he at that time possessed a littl_ore experience of the wiles and stratagems of the Banattees. The Snake natio_s subdivided into several tribes, of which those inhabiting the Rock_ountains, called the Banattees, are the most perfidious. Indeed, they ar_onfessedly the banditti of the hills, and respect neither friend nor foe, bu_ob all who come in their way.
  • Dick reached the spot where the Indian had disappeared in less than a minute, but no savage was to be seen! Thinking he had crept ahead he ran on a fe_ards further, and darted about hither and thither, while his eye glanced fro_ide to side. Suddenly a shout in the camp attracted his attention, an_ooking back he beheld the savage on Charlie’s back turning to fly. Nex_oment he was off and away far beyond the hope of recovery. Dick had left hi_ifle in the camp, otherwise the savage would have gone but a short way—as i_as, Dick returned, and sitting down on a mound of grass, stared straigh_efore him with a feeling akin to despair. Even Crusoe could not have helpe_im had he been there, for nothing on four legs, or on two, could keep pac_ith Charlie.
  • The Banattee achieved this feat by adopting a stratagem which invariabl_eceives those who are ignorant of their habits and tactics. When suddenl_ursued the Banattee sinks into the grass, and, serpentlike, creeps along wit_onderful rapidity, not _from_ but _towards_ his enemy, taking care, however, to avoid him, so that when the pursuer reaches the spot where the pursued i_upposed to be hiding, he hears him shout a yell of defiance far away in th_ear.
  • It was thus that the Banattee eluded Dick and gained the camp almost as soo_s the other reached the spot where he had disappeared.
  • One by one the trappers came back weary, raging, and despairing. In a shor_ime they all assembled, and soon began to reproach each other. Ere long on_r two had a fight, which resulted in several bloody noses and black eyes, thus adding to the misery which, one would think, had been bad enough withou_uch additions. At last they finished their suppers and their pipes, and the_ay down to sleep under the trees till morning, when they arose in _articularly silent and sulky mood, rolled up their blankets, strapped thei_hings on their shoulders, and began to trudge slowly back to the camp o_oot.