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Chapter 8 Dick and his friends visit the Indians and see man_onders—Crusoe, too, experiences a few surprises and teaches Indian dogs _esson—An Indian dandy—A foot-race.

  • The Pawnee village, at which they soon arrived, was situated in the midst of _ost interesting and picturesque scene.
  • It occupied an extensive plain which sloped gently down to a creek, (I_merica small rivers or riverlets are termed “creeks”) whose winding cours_as marked by a broken line of wood, here and there interspersed with a fin_lump of trees, between the trunks of which the blue waters of the lak_parkled in the distance. Hundreds of tents or “lodges” of buffalo skin_overed the ground, and thousand of Indians—men, women, and children—move_bout the busy scene. Some were sitting in their lodges, lazily smoking thei_ipes. But these were chiefly old and infirm veterans, for all the young me_ad gone to the hunt which we have just described. The women were stoopin_ver their fires, busily preparing maize and meat for their husbands an_rothers, while myriads of little brown and naked children romped abou_verywhere, filling the air with their yells and screams, which were onl_qualled, if not surpassed, by the yelping dogs that seemed innumerable.
  • Far as the eye could reach were seen scattered herds of horses. These wer_ended by little boys who were totally destitute of clothing, and who seeme_o enjoy with infinite zest the pastime of shooting-practice with little bow_nd arrows. No wonder that these Indians become expert bowmen. There wer_rchins there, scarce two feet high, with round bullets of bodies and shor_pindle-shanks, who could knock blackbirds off the trees at every shot, an_ut the heads of the taller flowers with perfect certainty! There was muc_eed, too, for the utmost proficiency they could attain, for the ver_xistence of the Indian tribes of the prairies depends on their success i_unting the buffalo.
  • There are hundreds and thousands of North American savages who woul_ndoubtedly perish and their tribes become extinct if the buffaloes were t_eave the prairies or die out. Yet, although animals are absolutely essentia_o their existence, they pursue and slay them with improvident recklessness, sometimes killing hundreds of them merely for the sake of the sport, th_ongues, and the marrow-bones. In the bloody hunt described in the las_hapter, however, the slaughter of so many was not wanton, because the villag_hat had to be supplied with food was large, and, just previous to the hunt, they had been living on somewhat reduced allowance. Even the blackbirds, sho_y the brown-bodied urchins before mentioned, had been thankfully put into th_ot. Thus precarious is the supply of food among the Red-men, who on one da_re starving, and the next are revelling in superabundance.
  • But to return to our story. At one end of this village the creek sprang over _edge of rock in a low cascade and opened out into a beautiful lake, the boso_f which was studded with small islands. Here were thousands of those smalle_pecies of wild water-fowl which were either too brave or too foolish to b_cared away by the noise of the camp. And here, too, dozens of children wer_porting on the beach or paddling about in their light bark canoes.
  • “Isn’t it strange,” remarked Dick to Henri, as they passed among the tent_owards the centre of the village, “isn’t it strange that them Injuns shoul_e so fond o’ fightin’ when they’ve got all they can want—a fine country, lot_’ buffalo, an’ as far as I can see, happy homes?”
  • “Oui, it is remarkaibel, vraiment. But dey do more love war to peace. De_oves to be excited, I s’pose.”
  • “Humph! One would think the hunt we seed a little agone would be excitemen_nough. But, I say, that must be the chief’s tent, by the look o’t.”
  • Dick was right; the horsemen pulled up and dismounted opposite the principa_hief’s tent, which was a larger and more elegant structure than the others.
  • Meanwhile an immense concourse of women, children, and dogs gathered round th_trangers, and, while the latter yelped their dislike to white men, the forme_hattered continuously, as they discussed the appearance of the strangers an_heir errand, which latter soon became known. An end was put to this by San- it-sa-rish desiring the hunters to enter the tent, and spreading a buffal_obe for them to sit on. Two braves carried in their packs and then led awa_heir horses.
  • All this time Crusoe had kept as close as possible to his master’s side, feeling extremely uncomfortable in the midst of such a strange crowd, the mor_specially that the ill-looking Indian curs gave him expressive looks o_atred, and exhibited some desire to rush upon him in a body, so that he ha_o keep a sharp look out all round him. When, therefore, Dick entered the ten_rusoe endeavoured to do so along with him, but he was met by a blow on th_ose from an old squaw, who scolded him in a shrill voice and bade him begone.
  • Either our hero’s knowledge of the Indian language was insufficient to enabl_im to understand the order, or he had resolved not to obey it, for instead o_etreating he drew a deep gurgling breath, curled his nose, and displayed _ow of teeth that caused the old woman to draw back in alarm. Crusoe’s was _orgiving spirit. The instant that opposition ceased he forgot the injury, an_as meekly advancing when Dick held up his finger.
  • “Go outside, pup, and wait.”
  • Crusoe’s tail drooped; with a deep sigh he turned and left the tent. He too_p a position near the entrance, however, and sat down resignedly. So meek, indeed, did the poor dog look, that six mangy-looking curs felt thei_astardly hearts emboldened to make a rush at him with boisterous yells.
  • Crusoe did not rise. He did not even condescend to turn his head toward them, but he looked at them out of the corner of his dark eye, wrinkled—ver_lightly—the skin of his nose, exhibited two beautiful fangs, and gav_tterance to a soft remark, that might be described as quiet, deep-tone_argling. It wasn’t much, but it was more than enough for the valiant six, wh_aused and snarled violently.
  • It was a peculiar trait of Crusoe’s gentle nature, that, the moment any dange_eased, he resumed his expression of nonchalant gravity. The expression o_his occasion was misunderstood, however, and, as about two dozen additiona_elping dogs had joined the ranks of the enemy, they advanced in close orde_o the attack.
  • Crusoe still sat quiet and kept his head high, but he _looked_ at them agai_nd exhibited four fangs for their inspection. Among the pack there was on_ndian dog of large size—almost as large as Crusoe himself—which kept well i_he rear, and apparently urged the lesser dogs on. The little dogs didn’_bject, for little dogs are generally the most pugnacious. At this big do_rusoe directed a pointed glance, but said nothing. Meanwhile a particularl_mall and vicious cur, with a mere rag of a tail, crept round by the back o_he tent, and, coming upon Crusoe in the rear, snapped at his tail sharply, and then fled shrieking with terror and surprise, no doubt, at its ow_emerity.
  • Crusoe did not bark; he seldom barked; he usually either said nothing, or gav_tterance to a prolonged roar of indignation of the most terrible characte_ith barks, as it were, mingled through it. It somewhat resembled tha_eculiar and well-known species of thunder, the prolonged roll of which i_arked at short intervals in its course by cannon-like cracks. It was _ontinuous, but, so to speak, _knotted_ roar.
  • On receiving the snap, Crusoe gave forth _the_ roar with a majesty and powe_hat scattered the pugnacious front rank of the enemy to the winds. Those tha_till remained, half stupefied, he leaped over with a huge bound and alighted, fangs first, on the back of the big dog. There was one hideous yell, a muffle_cramble of an instant’s duration, and the big dog lay dead upon the plain!
  • It was an awful thing to do; but Crusoe evidently felt that the peculia_ircumstances of the case required that an example should be made—and to sa_ruth, all things considered, we cannot blame him. The news must have bee_arried at once through the canine portion of the camp, for Crusoe was neve_nterfered with again after that.
  • Dick witnessed this little incident; but he observed that the Indian chie_ared not a straw about it, and as his dog returned quietly and sat down i_ts old place, he took no notice of it either, but continued to listen to th_xplanations which Joe gave to the chief, of the desire of the Pale-faces t_e friends with the Red-men.
  • Joe’s eloquence would have done little for him on this occasion had his hand_een empty; but he followed it up by opening one of his packs, and displayin_he glittering contents before the equally glittering eyes of the chief an_is squaws.
  • “These,” said Joe, “are the gifts that the great chief of the Pale-faces send_o the great chief of the Pawnees, and he bids me say that there are many mor_hings in his stores which will be traded for skins with the Red-men, whe_hey visit him; and he also says that if the Pawnees will not steal horses an_ore from the Pale-faces they shall receive gifts of knives, and guns, an_owder and blankets every year.”
  • “ _Wah_!” grunted the chief; “it is good. The great chief is wise. We wil_moke the pipe of peace.”
  • The things that afforded so much satisfaction to San-it-sa-rish were th_eriest trifles. Penny looking-glasses in yellow gilt tin frames, beads o_arious colours, needles, cheap scissors, and knives, vermilion paint, an_oarse scarlet cloth, etcetera. They were of priceless value, however, in th_stimation of the savages, who delighted to adorn themselves with legging_ade from the cloth, beautifully worked with beads by their own ingeniou_omen. They were thankful, too, for knives even of the commonest description, having none but bone ones of their own; and they gloried in daubing thei_aces with intermingled streaks of charcoal and vermilion. To gaze at thei_isages, when thus treated, in the little penny looking-glasses is thei_ummit of delight!
  • Joe presented the chief with a portion of these coveted goods and tied up th_emainder. We may remark here, that the only thing which prevented the savage_rom taking possession of the whole at once, without asking permission, wa_he promise of the annual gifts, which they knew would not be forthcoming wer_ny evil to befall the deputies of the Pale-faces. Nevertheless, it cost the_ severe struggle to restrain their hands on this occasion, and Joe and hi_ompanions felt that they would have to play their part well in order t_ulfil their mission with safety and credit.
  • “The Pale-faces may go now and talk with the braves,” said San-it-sa-rish, after carefully examining everything that was given to him; “a council will b_alled soon, and we will smoke the pipe of peace.”
  • Accepting this permission to retire, the hunters immediately left the tent, and being now at liberty to do what they pleased, they amused themselves b_andering about the village.
  • “He’s a cute chap that,” remarked Joe, with a sarcastic smile; “I don’t fee_uite easy about gettin’ away. He’ll bother the life out o’ us to get all th_oods we’ve got, and, ye see, as we’ve other tribes to visit, we must giv_way as little as we can here.”
  • “Ha! you is right,” said Henri; “dat fellow’s eyes twinkle at de knives an_ings like two stars.”
  • “Fire-flies, ye should say. Stars are too soft an’ beautiful to compare to th_yes o’ yon savage,” said Dick, laughing. “I wish we were well away from them.
  • That rascal Mahtawa is an ugly customer.”
  • “True, lad,” returned Joe; “had _he_ bin the great chief our scalps had bi_ryin’ in the smoke o’ a Pawnee wigwam afore now. What now, lad?”
  • Joe’s question was put in consequence of a gleeful smile that overspread th_ountenance of Dick Varley, who replied by pointing to a wigwam towards whic_hey were approaching.
  • “Oh! that’s only a dandy,” exclaimed Joe. “There’s lots o’ them in every Inju_amp. They’re fit for nothin’ but dress, poor contemptible critters.”
  • Joe accompanied his remark with a sneer, for of all pitiable objects, h_egarded an unmanly man as the most despicable. He consented, however, to si_own on a grassy bank and watch the proceedings of this Indian dandy, who ha_ust seated himself in front of his wigwam for the purpose of making hi_oilet.
  • He began it by greasing his whole person carefully and smoothly over wit_uffalo-fat, until he shone like a patent leather boot; then he rubbed himsel_lmost dry, leaving the skin sleek and glossy. Having proceeded thus far h_ook up a small mirror, a few inches in diameter, which he or some othe_ember of the tribe must have procured during one of their few excursions t_he trading forts of the Pale-faces, and examined himself, as well as h_ould, in so limited a space. Next, he took a little vermilion from a smal_arcel and rubbed it over his face until it presented the somewhat demonia_ppearance of a fiery red. He also drew a broad red score along the crown o_is head, which was closely shaved, with the exception of the usual tuft o_calp-lock on the top. This scalp-lock stood bristling straight up a fe_nches, and then curved over and hung down his back about two feet. Immens_are and attention was bestowed on this lock. He smoothed it, greased it, an_laited it into the form of a pigtail. Another application was here made t_he glass, and the result was evidently satisfactory, to judge from th_eaming smile that played on his features. But, not content with the genera_ffect, he tried the effect of expression—frowned portentously, scowle_avagely, gaped hideously, and grinned horribly a ghastly smile.
  • Then our dandy fitted into his ears, which were bored in several places, sundry ornaments, such as rings, wampum, etcetera, and hung several strings o_eads round his neck. Besides these he affixed one or two ornaments to hi_rms, wrists, and ankles, and touched in a few effects with vermilion on th_houlders and breast. After this, and a few more glances at the glass, he pu_n a pair of beautiful moccasins, which, besides being richly wrought wit_eads, were soft as chamois leather, and fitted his feet like gloves; a pai_f leggings of scarlet cloth were drawn on, attached to a waist-belt, an_ound below the knee with broad garters of variegated bead-work.
  • It was some time before this Adonis was quite satisfied with himself. He re- touched the paint on his shoulders several times, and modified the glare o_hat on his wide-mouthed, high-cheek-boned visage before he could tear himsel_way; but at last he did so, and, throwing a large piece of scarlet cloth ove_is shoulders, he thrust his looking-glass under his belt, and proceeded t_ount his palfrey, which was held in readiness near to the tent door by one o_is wives. The horse was really a fine animal, and seemed worthy of a mor_arlike master. His shoulders, too, were striped with red paint, and feather_ere intertwined with his mane and tail, while the bridle was decorated wit_arious jingling ornaments.
  • Vaulting upon his steed, with a large fan of wild goose and turkey feathers i_ne hand, and a whip dangling at the wrist of the other, this incomparabl_andy sallied forth for a promenade—that being his chief delight when ther_as no buffalo hunting to be done. Other men who were not dandies sharpene_heir knives, smoked, feasted, and mended their spears and arrows at suc_easons of leisure, or played at athletic games.
  • “Let’s follow my buck,” said Joe Blunt.
  • “Oui. Come ’long,” replied Henri, striding after the rider at a pace tha_lmost compelled his comrades to run.
  • “Hold on!” cried Dick, laughing; “we don’t want to keep him company. A distan_iew is quite enough o’ sich a chap as that.”
  • “Mais, you forgit, I cannot see far.”
  • “So much the better,” remarked Joe; “it’s my opinion we’ve seen enough o’ him.
  • Ah! he’s goin’ to look on at the games. Them’s worth lookin’ at.”
  • The games to which Joe referred were taking place on a green level plain clos_o the creek, and a little above the waterfall before referred to. Some of th_ndians were horse-racing, some jumping, and others wrestling; but the gam_hich proved most attractive was throwing the javelin, in which several of th_oung braves were engaged.
  • This game is played by two competitors, each armed with a dart, in an aren_bout fifty yards long. One of the players has a hoop of six inches i_iameter. At a signal they start off on foot at full speed, and on reachin_he middle of the arena the Indian with the hoop rolls it along before them, and each does his best to send a javelin through the hoop before the other. H_ho succeeds counts so many points—if both miss, the nearest to the hoop i_llowed to count, but not so much as if he had “ringed” it. The Indians ar_ery fond of this game, and will play at it under a broiling sun for hour_ogether. But a good deal of the interest attaching to it is owing to the fac_hat they make it a means of gambling. Indians are inveterate gamblers, an_ill sometimes go on until they lose horses, bows, blankets, robes, and, i_hort, their whole personal property. The consequences are, as might b_xpected, that fierce and bloody quarrels sometimes arise in which life i_ften lost.
  • “Try your hand at that,” said Henri to Dick.
  • “By all means,” cried Dick, handing his rifle to his friend, and springin_nto the ring enthusiastically.
  • A general shout of applause greeted the Pale-face, who threw off his coat an_ightened his belt, while a young Indian presented him with a dart.
  • “Now, see that ye do us credit, lad,” said Joe.
  • “I’ll try,” answered Dick.
  • In a moment they were off. The young Indian rolled away the hoop, and Dic_hrew his dart with such vigour that it went deep into the ground, but misse_he hoop by a foot at least. The young Indian’s first dart went through th_entre.
  • “Ha!” exclaimed Joe Blunt to the Indians near him, “the lad’s not used to tha_ame, try him at a race. Bring out your best brave—he whose bound is like th_unted deer.”
  • We need scarcely remind the reader that Joe spoke in the Indian language, an_hat the above is a correct rendering of the sense of what he said.
  • The name of Tarwicadia, or the little chief, immediately passed from lip t_ip, and in a few minutes an Indian, a little below the medium size, bounde_nto the arena with an indiarubber-like elasticity that caused a shade o_nxiety to pass over Joe’s face.
  • “Ah, boy!” he whispered, “I’m afeared you’ll find him a tough customer.”
  • “That’s just what I want,” replied Dick. “He’s supple enough, but he want_uscle in the thigh. We’ll make it a long heat.”
  • “Right, lad, yer right.”
  • Joe now proceeded to arrange the conditions of the race with the chiefs aroun_im. It was fixed that the distance to be run should be a mile, so that th_ace would be one of two miles, out and back. Moreover, the competitors wer_o run without any clothes, except a belt and a small piece of cloth round th_oins. This to the Indians was nothing, for they seldom wore more in war_eather, but Dick would have preferred to keep on part of his dress. The law_f the course, however, would not permit of this, so he stripped and stoo_orth, the beau-ideal of a well-formed, agile man. He was greatly superior i_ize to his antagonist, and more muscular, the savage being slender an_xtremely lithe and springy.
  • “Hah! I will run too,” shouted Henri, bouncing forward with clumsy energy, an_hrowing off his coat just as they were going to start.
  • The savages smiled at this unexpected burst and made no objection, considerin_he thing in the light of a joke.
  • The signal was given, and away they went. Oh! it would have done you good t_ave seen the way in which Henri manoeuvred his limbs on this celebrate_ccasion! He went over the ground with huge elephantine bounds, runs, an_umps. He could not have been said to have one style of running; he had _ozen styles, all of which came into play in the course of half as man_inutes. The other two ran like the wind; yet, although Henri _appeared_ to b_oing heavily over the ground, he kept up with them to the turning point. A_or Dick, it became evident in the first few minutes that he could outstri_is antagonist with ease, and was hanging back a little all the time. He sho_head like an arrow when they came about half-way back, and it was clear tha_he real interest of the race was to lie in the competition between Henri an_arwicadia.
  • Before they were two-thirds of the way back, Dick walked in to the winnin_oint, and turned to watch the others. Henri’s wind was about gone, for h_xerted himself with such violence that he wasted half his strength. Th_ndian, on the contrary, was comparatively fresh, but he was not so fleet a_is antagonist, whose tremendous strides carried him over the ground at a_ncredible pace. On they came neck and neck, till close on the score tha_arked the winning point. Here the value of enthusiasm came out strongly i_he case of Henri. He _felt_ that he could not gain an inch on Tarwicadia t_ave his life; but, just as he came up, he observed the anxious faces of hi_omrades and the half-sneering countenances of the savages. His heart thumpe_gainst his ribs, every muscle thrilled with a gush of conflicting feelings, and he _hurled_ himself over the score like a cannon shot, full six inche_head of the little chief!
  • But the thing did not by any means end here. Tarwicadia pulled up the instan_e had passed. Not so our Canadian. Such a clumsy and colossal frame was no_o be checked in a moment. The crowd of Indians opened up to let him pass, bu_nfortunately a small tent that stood in the way was not so obliging. Into i_e went, head-foremost, like a shell, carried away the corner-post with hi_houlder, and brought the whole affair down about his own ears, and those o_ts inmates, among whom were several children and two or three dogs. I_equired some time to extricate them all from the ruins, but when this wa_ffected, it was found that no serious damage had been done to life or limb!