Part 2 out of 3
him, and, turning, saw the hunter walking in a direction parallel with
the river, with his head bent, as if in thought. Apparently he was
unsuspicious of the presence of any one.
Teddy at once sunk down to screen himself as he watched the movements
of his old foe, out of all manner of patience with himself that he had
left his rifle at home, and possessed only the arms that nature had
furnished him. Still, he resolved that the man should be secured, if
"Arrah, now, be aisy!" he whispered, "and yees may cotch a fish that
didn't nibble at yer bait. Whisht! but do ye _saa_ him? But _isn't_ he
a strappin' fellow, to be sure--a raal shark ten foot long, with claws
like an alligator!"
The hunter walked but a few rods, when he seated himself upon a fallen
tree, with his back toward the Irishman. This was the coveted
"Yees have got the fellow now, Teddy, barring yees haven't got him at
all, but that ain't saying ye won't get him. Be aisy now, and don't
get excited! Jist be as wise as a rat and as still as a mouse, and
ye'll catch the catamount, if he don't catch you, that is."
These self-admonitions were much needed, for the fellow was all
tremulous with excitement and scarcely able to restrain himself.
Waiting a few moments until he could tone down his nerves, he
commenced making his way toward his victim. He exercised extreme
caution until within a rod, when a twig snapped under his foot. He
made ready to spring, for he was certain of being discovered; but, to
his surprise, the hunter made no motion at all. He evidently was so
absorbed in some matter as to be unconscious of what was passing
Slowly and stealthily Teddy glided toward the man, until he arose
almost to the standing position, not more than a foot distant. Then
slowly spreading out his arms, so as to inclose the form of the
stalwart woodsman, he brought them together like a vise, giving
utterance at the same time to an exultant "whoop."
"Yer days of thramping _this_ country, and alarming paceable
inhabitants are done wid, Mister Anaconda. So jist kaal over
gracefully, say tin Ave Marias, and consider yourself in the hands of
Gabriel sint for judgment."
All this time Teddy had been straining and hugging at the hunter as if
determined to crush him, while he, in turn, had taken it very coolly,
and now spoke in his gruff bass voice:
"Let go! Well now, that's impudint, ye varlet. As if Teddy McFadden
would let go hook and line, bob and sinker, whin he had got hold of a
sturgeon. Be aisy now; I'll squaze the gizzard and liver iv ye
togither, if ye doesn't yield gracefully."
"Let go, I say! Do you hear?".
"Yis, I hears, and that is the extint--"
Teddy's next sensation was as if a thunderbolt had burst beneath his
feet, for he was hurled headlong full half a rod over the head of the
hunter. Though considerably bruised, he was not stunned by the fall,
and quickly recovered. Scratching his head, he cried:
"Begorrah, but yees can't repate _that_ trick!" making a rush toward
his antagonist, who stood calmly awaiting his onset.
"By heavens, I'll give you something different then!" said the man, as
he caught him bodily in his arms, and running to the edge of the
river, flung him sprawling into it. The water was deep, and it
required considerable struggling to reach the shore.
This last prodigious exhibition of strength inspired the Irishman with
a sort of respect for the stranger. Teddy had found very few men, even
among frontiersmen and Indians, who could compete with him in a
hand-to-hand struggle; yet, there was now no question but what he was
overmatched, and he could but admire, in a degree, the man who so
easily handled his assailant. It was useless to attack the enemy after
such a repulse; so he quietly seated himself upon the shore.
"Would ye have the kindness, ye assassinating disciple of the
crowner's jury, whin yees have jist shown how nately ye can dishpose
of a man like meself, to tell me why it was you run so mighty harrd
whin I took once before after yees? Why didn't ye pause, and sarve me
then jist as ye have done? I'd jist like to know that before we go any
further wid _this_ matter."
"It wasn't because I feared you!" said the hunter, turning sullenly
away, and walking into the wood.
"Farewell!" called out Teddy, waving his hand toward him. "Ye're a
beauty, and yees have quite taking ways wid ye; but it wouldn't be
safe for me to find yees lurking about the cabin, if I had a rifle in
me hand. You'd have trouble to fling a bullet off as ye flung me. Be
jabers, but _wasn't_ that a nate thing, to be sure. I'll bet a
thousand pounds which I niver had, that that fellow could draw the
Mississippi up-stream if he was fairly hitched on to it. Ah, Teddy,
you ain't much, afther all," he added, looking dolefully at his wet
Teddy had been so completely outwitted that he was unwilling any one
should know it. So he resolved to continue fishing until his clothes
were thoroughly dry, and until he had secured enough fish to repay him
for his journey. It was near the middle of the afternoon, and, as he
had remained at home until the return of the young missionary from
the village, there was nothing to disturb his labor, or sport as it
might be called, except darkness itself.
During this same afternoon, Harvey Richter and his wife were sitting
on a bench in front of their cabin. The day was warm, but, as the
bench always was shaded, it was the ordinary resort of the young
couple when the weather was sultry. The missionary had been reading,
but the volume was laid aside, and he was smilingly watching his wife
as she sported with the boy in her lap. The little fellow was in
exuberant spirits, and the parents, as a matter of course, were
delighted. Finally he betrayed signs of weariness, and in a few
moments was asleep in his mother's arms.
"I think it was a wise thing, for several reasons--that of changing
your hour from the afternoon to the forenoon," said the wife.
"Why do you think so?"
"We all feel more wearied and less inclination at this time of day for
work than we do during the earlier hours. We could then be little
together, but now nothing interferes with our afternoon's enjoyment of
one another's society."
"That is true; but you see the Indians are more likely to be off
fishing or hunting during the earlier part of the day. They have
willingly conformed, however, to the change."
"I think it is more in accordance with your own disposition," smiled
the wife, "is it not?"
"Yes; I am free to admit that my lazy body inclines to quiet and rest
after partaking of a hearty dinner, as I have done to-day."
"If we think of rest at this early stage in our lives, how will it be
when we become thirty or forty years older?"
"I refer only to the temporary rest of the body and mind, such as they
must have after periods of labor and excitement. Such rest the
youngest as well as the oldest requires. Be careful, Cora, you don't
drop the little fellow!"
"Never fear," laughed the mother, as the youngster woke and commenced
several juvenile antics more interesting to the parents than to any
"How lively!" remarked the proud father. "It seems to me I never saw a
child at his age as bright and animated."
And what father does not hold precisely the same opinion of his young
"Look!" exclaimed the mother, "some one must be coming to see you."
An Indian woman was discernible among the trees, walking along the
path at a rapid walk, as if she were greatly hurried. Her head was
bent, but now and then she raised it and glanced toward the cabin,
showing that that was her destination.
Passing from the shadow of the wood into the Clearing, the missionary
recognized one of the worst women of the tribe. She had scoffed at his
preaching, had openly insulted him, and during the first month or two
had manifested a disposition approaching violence. To this Richter
only answered by kindness; he used every means to conciliate her
good-will, but thus far with indifferent success. Her husband,
The-au-o-too, a warrior favorably inclined toward the white man, was
thoughtful and attentive; and the good minister wondered that the
savage did not restrain these unwomanly demonstrations upon his
She approached with rapid step, until she stood directly in front of
them. Harvey saw that her countenance was agitated.
"Well, At-to-uck," said he, kindly, "you seem troubled. Is there
anything I can do for you?"
[Illustration: "Well, At-to-uck," said he, kindly, "you seem
"Me ain't trouble," she answered, using English as well as her very
imperfect knowledge would admit. "Me ain't trouble--_me_ ain't."
"Who may it be then?"
"The-au-o-too--he _much_ trouble. Sick--in woods--die--_berry_ sick."
"What do you mean, At-to-uck?" asked the missionary, his interest
strongly awakened. "Has anything befallen your husband?"
"He fall," she answered, eagerly, catching at the helping word, "he
fall--much hurt--die--die--won't got well."
"Where is he?"
She spun around on one foot, and pointed deeper into the woods. "He
dere--lay on back--soon die."
"And he wishes me to see him; is that it?"
She nodded her head vigorously, but made no answer for a moment. Then
she suddenly broke forth:
"Send At-to-uck to git good man--hurry--berry hurry--he die--won't
live. The-au-o-too say hurry--die soon--won't see good man--Riher."
Harvey looked at his wife. "What must I do, Cora? It will not do to
leave you, as Teddy may not return for several hours, and yet this
poor Indian should be attended in his dying moments."
"You should go, Harvey; I will not fear."
He turned to the squaw in perplexity.
"How far away is The-au-o-too?"
"Not much far--soon find--most dead."
"It may be," he said in a low tone, "that he can be got to the house,
although it would be no easy matter for us two to bring him."
"I think your duty calls you to the dying man."
"I ought to be there, but I tell you, Cora, I don't like this leaving
you alone," said he, impressively. "You know we made up our minds that
it should never occur again."
"There must be occasions when it cannot be avoided, and this is one of
them. By refusing to attend this man, you may not only neglect a great
duty, but incur the ill-will of the whole tribe. You know the
disposition of this woman."
The latter, at this point, began to give evidence of agitation, and to
remark in her broken accents that The-au-o-too was dying and would be
dead before they could reach him. The missionary, in sore perplexity,
looked at his wife.
"Go," she said, or rather signified without speaking.
"I will," he said, rising with an air of decision. "God grant I may
never regret this."
"I trust you never will."
He kissed the infant, embraced his wife and then signified to the
squaw to lead the way.
"Keep up a good heart," he added, turning, as he moved away.
The wife smilingly nodded her head but said nothing. It did not escape
the notice of her husband that there were tears in her eyes, and he
half resolved to remain with her after all, but the next moment he
The squaw took the well-beaten track, walking very rapidly and often
looking back to see that she was followed. Her strangeness of manner
the missionary attributed to her excitement regarding her husband.
Several times she exhibited hesitation, and once or twice muttered
something that was unintelligible to him.
When they were about half-way to the village, she paused.
"Well, At-to-uck, what is the matter now?"
"Oh, I hope not," he answered, cheerfully. "Do you turn off here?"
She answered in the affirmative and asked him to lead the way.
"No; I am unacquainted, and you ought certainly to know where to find
your dying husband better than I do."
She took the duty of guide upon herself again, and advanced but a rod,
when she abruptly paused. "Hark! hear groan? Me hear him."
Harvey listened intently but heard nothing. Knowing that the hearing
of the Indians is marvelously acute, he believed the squaw had heard
sounds of distress; but, instead of quickening her steps, she now
moved more slowly than ever.
"Have you lost your way, At-to-uck?"
"No," she answered, in a significant voice.
The suspicions of the missionary that had been slumbering were now
"What do you mean then?"
The squaw turned full around and gave a leer which, if possible, made
her face more hideous than ever. Without thinking Harvey caught her by
the arm and shook her sharply.
"Explain this, At-to-uck. What is the meaning of this?"
"He-he-e-e-e! _big_ fool. The-au-o-too hunt--_no hurt_!"
A sharp reproof arose to the missionary's lips, but deeming it would
be lost upon such a person, he merely turned his back upon her and
walked away. She called and taunted him, but he was the last man who
could have been roused to anger by such means, and he walked, with his
arms folded, slowly and deliberately away toward the path.
It had not occurred, as yet, to the mind of Richter that anything more
than a simple annoyance to himself was contemplated by this
proceeding; but, as he resumed his steps homeward, a suspicion flashed
upon him which almost checked the beating of his heart. "God save it
being so!" was his mental prayer, as he hurried forward. A moment
later he was on a full run.
The afternoon was well advanced, but he soon caught a glimpse of his
cabin through the trees. Before this, however, he had detected the
outcries of his infant, which struck him as a favorable omen, and he
abated his speed somewhat. But, as he came into the Clearing, his
heart gave a great bound, as he saw his child lying upon the ground
some distance from the house. His anxiety was so distressing that he
dashed by it into the cabin.
"Cora, Cora, what is the matter? Where have you concealed yourself?
Why this untimely pleasantry?"
He came out again, caught up the infant and attempted to soothe it,
all the time looking wildly about in the hope of seeing the returning
"CORA! CORA!" he again called in agonized tones, but the woods gave
back only the hollow echo. For a few moments he was fairly beside
himself; but, at the end of that time, he began to reason more calmly.
He attempted to persuade himself that she might return, but it was
useless; and with a sort of resigned despair, he looked about him for
signs of the manner in which she was taken away.
The most convincing evidence was not wanting. The ground was trampled
and torn, as if there had been a violent struggle; and, inexperienced
as were his eyes, he detected the unmistakable impress of a moccasin
upon the soft earth, and in the grass. The settle, too, was overturned
and the baby lay in the grass as if tossed there by the act of some
other arm, than a mother's.
THE LOST TRAIL.
"'Twas night--the skies were cloudless blue,
And all around was hushed and still,
Save paddle of the light canoe,
And wailing of the whippowill."
On that sunny afternoon, the fish in a particular locality of a
tributary of the Mississippi did not take the bait very well. The spot
to which we refer was that immediately surrounding Teddy, whose
patience was well-nigh exhausted. There he sat for several tedious
hours, but had secured only two nibbles at his line, neither of which
proved to be anything more.
"Begorrah, but it must be they'se frightened by meself, when that ould
scalliwag give me a fling into the stream. Jabers! _wasn't_ it done
nately. Hallo! there's a bite, not bigger, to be sure, than a lady's
fut, but a bull-pout it is I know."
He instantly arose to his feet, as if he were about to spring in the
water, and stood leaning over and scanning the point where his line
disappeared in the stream, with an intense interest which the
professional angler alone can appreciate. But this, like all others,
proved a disappointment, and he soon settled down into his waiting but
necessary attitude of rest.
"A half-hour more of sunshine, and then these same pants will be the
same as if they've niver saan water, barring it's mighty seldom they
have or they wouldn't be in this dirty condition. Arrah! what can be
the m'aning of that?"
Faintly but distinctly through the long stretch of woods came the
sound of his name. It was repeated again and again until the Irishman
was convinced beyond all possibility of mistake.
"What is up now?" he asked of himself as he drew in his line. "That is
Mister Harvey's voice sure, and he is calling as though he was in a
mighty hurry. Faith, and I must not linger! If anything _should_
happen whin I was away I'd feel wus'n old Boney at Watherloo whin he
lost the day an' his crown."
The line was soon stowed away, and Teddy made his way at a half-walk
and ran in a homeward direction. He had gone about a hundred rods when
he paused and listened. Clearer and more distinctly came his name in
tones whose earnest entreaty could not be mistaken. Teddy rose on his
heels and made reply to the hail, to assure his master, if possible,
that he was approaching with all speed.
The Irishman's words were yet lingering in his mouth, when another and
more terrible sound reached his ears. It was that of a suppressed,
half-smothered woman's scream--a sort of gasp of terror. It was so
short and so far away that it was impossible to tell its direction. He
stopped, his heart beating like a hammer, but he heard no more.
"God protect me, but there's something gone wrong at the cabin!" he
exclaimed, dashing forward through the wood at a reckless rate. A few
moments later it came in view, and he then saw his master walking to
and fro, in front of the house, with the child in his arms. His manner
and deathly pale face confirmed the forebodings of Teddy's heart.
"What's the matter, Mister Harvey? What's the matter?"
"_That Indian has carried Cora away_!" was the agonized reply.
"Where has the owld divil carried her?" very naturally asked the
"I do not know! I do not know! but she has gone, and I fear we shall
never see her again alive."
"May me owld head be scraped wid a scalping-knife, an' me hands be
made into furnace-grates for being away," ejaculated the servant, as
the tears streamed down his cheeks.
"No, Teddy, you are not in the least to blame, nor is it my fault,"
impetuously interrupted the missionary.
"Till me how it was, Mister Harvey."
The husband again became composed and related what is already familiar
to the reader. At its close, Teddy dashed into the house and brought
out his rifle.
"I'll murther that At-to-uck, be me sowl, and then I'll murther that
haythen assassinator, an' iverybody that gits in me way. Be the powers
of the saints and divils, but I'll murther somebody. May the divil
roast me if I--"
"Hold!" said the missionary, who by this time was himself again. "The
first thing to be attended to is pursuit. We must not lose a second.
We can never follow them ourselves through the wood. Hold the child,
while I go to the village and get some of the Indians to help us."
Teddy took the child that had cried itself asleep, and the missionary
started on a full run up the river. When he reached the settlement, it
required but a moment to make his errand known. A dozen warriors
volunteered at once, for these dozen would have laid down their lives
for their faithful instructor. Many of the squaws also gave utterance
to dismal howls upon learning what had befallen their pale-faced
sister. Had the missionary chosen to tell the part taken by At-to-uck
in the affair, it may be reasonably doubted whether her life would
have been spared. But he was not the man to do such a thing. Knowing
how anxious Teddy would be to participate in the pursuit, he secured
the wife of one of the Christian Indians to return with him, and take
charge of the boy during their absence.
At the time of the missionary's visit, the chief and his principal
warriors were absent on an expedition to the north. Although holding
little interest himself in the mission of the minister among his
people, he would undoubtedly have led a party to the search for the
audacious savage who had abducted the respected white woman; and, had
he been overtaken, a swift and merciless retribution would have
fallen upon the trangressor's head.
Harvey Richter deemed it best to take but a few Indians with him.
Accordingly he selected five that he knew to be skillful, and with
them hurried at once in the direction of his cabin. He saw with a
sinking heart, as he returned, that the sun was already low in the
horizon, and the woods were becoming dark and gloomy. Teddy was at his
post chafing like a confined lion.
"This woman, Teddy, will take care of the boy, so that you may join us
in the search."
"Bliss you for that! It would be the hardest work of me life to stay
here when I thought there's a chance of gitting a whack at that
thaiving villian. Oh, _if_ I could only git howld of him, I wouldn't
l'ave a piece of him big enough to spit on."
"I think there's little probability of either of us obtaining a
glimpse of him. We must rely upon these Indians to take the trail and
follow it to the end."
"They're like the hounds in the owld country, barring they go on two
legs an' don't stick their noses in the ground, nor howl whin they git
on trail. They're mighty handy to have around ye at such a time as
this, if they be savages wid only a spark of Christianity in 'em not
bigger than a tobaccy pipe."
"It will be impossible, I think, for the savage to conceal traces of
his flight, and, if there be any chance of coming up with him, these
men will surely do so."
"But suppose Miss Cora should be tomahawked and--"
"Don't mention it," said the missionary, with a shudder.
While these words were interchanged, the Indians had employed the time
more profitably in solving the meaning of the footsteps upon the
ground. A slight whoop announced the trail's discovery, and when the
missionary turned, he saw the whole five gliding off in a line through
the woods. They went in "Indian file," and resembled a huge serpent
making its way with all swiftness toward its prey.
Our two friends started at once after them. On reaching the edge of
the Clearing Teddy asked, abruptly:
"If the haythen comes back to the cabin while we's be gone?"
"Impossible! he cannot."
"Spowsen he hides his track in that manner, he may take a notion to
gobble up the little boy."
"He would not dare--"
Nevertheless, the remark of his servant alarmed the missionary, and he
hesitated. There might be foundation for what had been said. The
savage finding the pursuit too close to escape with his prey, might
slay her and then return stealthily to the cabin and dispatch the boy.
It would not do to leave him alone with the Indian woman.
"I can afford little assistance in the hunt, and will remain behind.
Hurry on, Teddy, or they will be too far away for you to follow."
The Hibernian shot off through the trees, at a rate that soon
exhausted him, while Harvey Richter returned within his cabin, there
to keep company with his great woe, until the return of the pursuers
brought tidings of the lost one.
An Indian on the trail is not likely to permit any trivial cause to
turn him aside, and the five Sioux made rapid progress so long as the
light in the wood allowed them to do so. This, however, was a
comparatively short time; and, after progressing fitfully and
uncertainly for several hundred yards, they finally drew up to wait
until the morrow.
The trail, instead of taking the direction of the river, as the
pursuers believed it would, ran precisely parallel to it. So long as
the savage kept away from the stream--that is, so long as he did not
take to a canoe--his trail could be followed with absolute certainty,
and he be overtaken beyond doubt. Impeded by an unwilling captive, he
could not avoid a rapid gain upon him by his pursuers; and to escape
certain capture, he must either abandon his prey or conceal his flight
by resorting to the river.
It might be, and the pursuers themselves half believed, that the
fleeing Indian did not fear a pursuit by any of his own race, in which
case he could make a leisurely escape, as the unpracticed white men
could not have followed him for a half-mile through the wilderness. If
this were really the case, the Sioux were confident of coming up with
him before the morrow's sun should go down.
The Indians had paused but a few moments, when a great tearing and
scrambling was heard, and Teddy came panting upon them.
"What be yees waiting for?" he demanded. "Tired out?"
"Can't go furder--dark--wait till next day."
"I'm sorry that yees didn't stand it bitter. I can go some ways
further meself if yees'll be kind enough to show me the trail. But,
yees don't pant or blow a bit, so I can't think ye're too much tired."
"Too dark--can't see--wait till sun."
"Oh, begorrah! I didn't understand ye. The Injin 'l' git a good start
on us, won't he though?"
"Ain't Injin--_white man_!"
"A white man, does ye say, that run off wid Miss Cora?"
Two of the Indians replied in the affirmative.
Teddy manifested the most unbounded amazement, and for a while, could
say nothing. Then he leaped into the air, struck the sides of his
shoes with his fingers, and broke forth:
"It was that owld hunter, may purgatory take him! Him and that owld
Mahogany, what made me drunk--blast his sowl--have been hid around in
the woods, waiting for a chance to do harm, and one is so much worse
than t'other yees can't tell both from which. Och! if I but had him
under the sight of me gun."
The spot upon which the Indians and Teddy were standing was but a
short distance from the village, and yet, instead of returning to it,
they started a small fire and lay down for the night. _They were upon
the trail_, and nothing was to turn them aside from it until their
work was completed, or it was utterly lost to them.
Teddy was more loth than they to turn his face backward, but, under
the circumstances, he could not forget the sad, waiting husband at
home. So he returned to the cabin, to make him acquainted with the
result of their labors thus far.
"If the Indian only avoids the river, he may be overtaken, but if he
takes to that, I am fearful he can never be found."
"Be me sowl, Mr. Harvey, but thim savages says he's not an Injin, but
a _white man_, and yees know they cannot be mistook fur they've got
eyes like hawks, and sinses sharper than me only needle, which,
begorrah, hasn't got a point."
"Can it be that Bra--that that hunter has done me this great wrong?"
said the missionary, correcting himself so dextrously that his servant
failed to observe it. "Has such been the revenge that he has been
harboring up for so many years? And he has followed us these hundreds
of miles for the purpose of striking the blow!"
"The owld haythen assassinator! The bloodthirsty beast, the sneakin'
dog, the dirthy jail-bird, the--"
"He has not shot either of us when we were at his mercy, for the
purpose of lulling us into security, the better to obtain his revenge,
and oh, he has succeeded how well!"
The strong man, who still sat in the front of his cabin, where he
might catch the first sound of returning footsteps, now covered his
face, and his whole form heaved with emotion. Teddy began to feel
uncomfortable. He arose, walked to and fro, and wiped the tears from
his own cheeks. Despite his tears, however, he recognized in the
exclamations of his master a reference to some mystery which he had
long suspected, but which had never been cleared up. The missionary
must have met this strange hunter before this encounter in the
wilderness, and his identity, and the cause of his deadly enmity,
must, also, be known. Teddy had a great curiosity; but, as his master
had repulsed his inquiries upon a previous occasion, he forbore to
make any reference to it. He walked backward and forward until the
good man's emotion had subsided somewhat, and then he said:
"Good Master Harvey, the owld cabin is so lonely wid the form of Miss
Cora gone, that it's meself that couldn't very well stay here till
morning. So, wid yer leave jist, I'll return to the Injins, so as to
be ready to folly the trail bright and early in the mornin'."
"And how do you suppose I feel, Teddy?"
"God save us! It can be no worse than meself."
"I am willing that you should go."
The missionary had need, indeed, for the sustaining power which can
come only from above. The faithful Indian woman remained with his
child through the night, while he, with bare head, and hands griped
together, paced backward and forward until the morrow's sun had risen.
How he prayed and agonized in spirit during those long, lonely hours,
God and himself only know. When the day had fairly dawned, he entered
the house, lay down wearily, and slept a "long and troubled sleep."
With a heavy heart Teddy made his way back through the woods to where
the Indians were congregated. They were seated around the camp-fire
engaged in smoking, but did not exchange nor utter a syllable. They
all understood each other, and therefore there was no need of talk.
The Irishman seated himself beside them, and joined an hour or two in
smoking, when they all lay down and slumbered.
All with the exception of Teddy, who could not sleep. He rolled hither
and thither, drew deep sighs, and took new positions, but it availed
nothing. The events of the past day had driven sleep far from his
eyelids, and he soon gave over the effort altogether. Rising to a
sitting position, he scratched his head (which was significant only of
abstraction of thought), and gazed meditatively into the smoldering
While seated thus, an idea suddenly came to him which brought him
instantly to his feet. The fact that it had not occurred to the
Indians he attributed to their inferior shrewdness and sagacity. He
recalled that the abduction of the young wife took place quite late in
the afternoon; and, as she must be an unwilling captive of course, she
would know enough to hinder the progress of the man so as to afford
her friends a chance to overtake them. Such being the case, the hunter
would find himself compelled to encamp for the night, and therefore he
could be but a short distance away. The more the Irishman reflected,
the more he became convinced that his view was right; and, we may
state, that for once, at least, his supposition had a foundation to
The matter, as has been evident from the first to the reader, rested
entirely upon the impossibility of following the trail at night. Thus
far it had maintained its direction parallel with the river, and he
deduced that it must continue to do so. Such being the case, the man
could be reached as well during the darkness as daylight.
Teddy concluded not to awaken the savages, as they would hardly
coincide with him. So he cautiously rose to his feet, and walking
around them, made off in the darkness. He was prudent enough to obtain
an idea of the general direction before starting, so as to prevent
himself going astray; after which he pressed the pursuit with all
possible speed. At intervals he paused and listened, but it seemed as
if everything excepting himself was asleep. He heard no sound of
animal or man: He kept his eyes flitting hither and thither, for he
had hopes of chancing upon the camp-fire of the abductor.
It is always a difficult matter to keep one's "reckoning" in the
woods. If they be of any extent, it requires extraordinary precautions
upon the part of an inexperienced person to prevent himself from
being lost. Should he endeavor to travel by night, it would be almost
a miracle indeed if he could save himself from going totally astray.
Teddy had every disadvantage to contend against, and he had not
journeyed a half-hour, when his idea of his own position was just the
opposite of truth. As he had not yet become aware of it, however, it
perhaps was just as well as if he had committed no error. He was
pressing forward, with that peculiar impelling feeling that it was
only necessary to do so ultimately to reach his destination, when a
star-like glimmer caught his eye. Teddy stopped short, and his heart
gave a great bound, for he believed the all-important opportunity had
now come. He scanned the light narrowly, but it was only a flickering
point, such as a lantern would give at a great distance at night. The
light alone was visible, but no flame. It was impossible to form any
correct idea of its location, although, from the fact that the nature
of the wood must prevent the rays penetrating very far, he was pretty
certain it was comparatively close at hand.
With this belief he commenced making his way toward it, his movements
certifying his consciousness that a mis-step would prove fatal. To his
dismay, however, he had advanced but a dozen steps or so when the
light disappeared, and he found it impossible to recover it. He moved
from side to side, forward and backward, but it availed nothing, and
he was about to conclude it had been extinguished, when he retreated
to his starting-point and detected it at once.
Keeping his eye fixed upon it, he now walked slowly, but at the same
point as before it disappeared. This, he saw, must arise from some
limb, or branch or tree interfering, and it only remained for him to
continue advancing in the same line. Having proceeded a hundred rods
or so, he began to wonder that he still failed to discover it.
Thinking he might be mistaken in the distance, he went forward until
he was sure he had passed far beyond it, when he turned and looked
behind him. Nothing but the dim figures of the tree-trunks rewarded
Fully a half-hour was spent in wandering to and fro in the further
efforts to locate the light that had caught his eye, and he finally
sought to obtain his first stand-point. Whether he succeeded or not
Teddy never could tell, but he never saw nor learned anything more
regarding the camp-fire to which he was confident that he had been
in such close proximity.
About this time, which was in the neighborhood of midnight, Teddy made
the discovery that he was lost, and, like a sensible person, gave up
all efforts to right himself. He was so wearied that he did not awake
until daylight, when he was aroused by the five Indians, whose
trail-hunt led them to the spot where he lay sleeping.
The trail was now followed rapidly for a half-mile when, as the
pursuers had feared all along, it made a sudden bend to the river,
upon the banks of which it was totally lost. Not to be baffled in this
manner, a canoe was produced with which three crossed the river. The
entire day was spent by these upon one bank, while the two other
Indians and Teddy pursued the search for traces of the hunter's
landing upon their own side of the stream. Not the slightest evidence
was discovered that he had touched shore after embarking. The man had
escaped, and even the eagle-eyed Sioux were compelled on the second
night to return to their village with the sad announcement that the
TRAIL WAS LOST!
[Illustration: THE TRAIL WAS LOST.]
A HIBERNIAN'S SEARCH FOR THE TRAIL.
"Oh I let me only breathe the air,
The blessed air that's breathed by thee;
And, whether on its wings it bear
Healing or death, 'tis sweet to me."
At the close of a windy, blustering day in 1821, two men were seated
by a camp-fire in the depths of the wilderness of the northwest. The
wind howled through the branches with a moaning sound such as often
heralds the approach of bitter cold weather; and a few feathery flakes
of snow that sailed along on the wind, proved that the season of
storms was close at hand.
The fire was built down deep in a sort of gorge, where its cheery,
crackling blaze could not be seen by any one until he was nearly upon
it. The men sat with their pipes in their mouths, their rifles beside
them and their feet toward the fire. From appearances they were on
the best of terms. One of them needs no introduction, as he is our old
friend Teddy, who evidently feels at home in his new situation. The
other is a man of much the same build although somewhat older. His
face, where it is not concealed by a heavy, grizzly beard, is covered
by numerous scars, and the border of one eye is disfigured from the
same cause. His dress and accouterments betray the hunter and trapper.
"And so, Teddy, ye're sayin' it war a white man that took away the
missionary's wife, and hain't been heard on since. Let me see, you
said it war nigh onto three months ago, warn't it?"
[Illustration: "And so, Teddy, ye're sayin' it war a white man that
took away the missionary's wife."]
"Three months, come day after to-morrow. Begorrah, but it's not I
that'll forgit that same date to my dying day, if, indade, I forgit it
at all, at all, even whin somebody else will be wearin' me clothes."
"It was a dirty trick, freeze me if it wasn't; but you can _allers_
find a white man to do a mean trick, when you can't a copperskin;
_that_ you may set down as a p'inted fact, Teddy."
"I belaves ye, Mister Tim. An Indian is a poor mean thing at the bist,
an' their squaws--kah! they are the dirtiest beasts that iver jabbered
human lingo; an' their babies, I raaly belaves, is caught with a hook
an' line in the muddy creeks where the catfish breed; but, fur all
that, I don't think they could have been equal to this piece of
wickedness. May the divil git howld of his soul. Blazes, but won't
there be a big squeal in purgatory when the divil gits howld of him!"
And Teddy seemed to contemplate the imaginary scene in Hades with a
sense of intense satisfaction.
"But it's powerful strange you could never git on the trail. I don't
boast of my own powers, but I'll lay if I'd been in the neighborhood,
I'd 've found it and stuck to it like a bloodhound, till I'd 've
throttled that thievin' wretch."
"The Sioux spent the bitter part of the day in the s'arch, an' meself
an' siveral other savages has been looking iver since, and none of us
have got so much as a scint of his shoe, bad luck to him."
"But, Teddy, what made him do it?" asked the trapper, turning his
keen, searching eyes full upon him.
"There's where I can't answer yees."
"There be some men, I allow, so infarnal mean they'll do a mean thing
just 'cause they _like_ to do it, and it might be he's one of them."
"It's meself that belaves he howlds some spite agin Mister Harvey for
something done in years agone, and has taken this means of revinging
himself upon the good man, as I am sure niver did one of his
fellow-creatures any harm."
"It may be there's been ill-blood a long time atween 'em, but the
missionary couldn't a done nothin' to give the rapscallion cause to
run off with his wife, 'less he'd run off with this hunter's old woman
before, and the hunter was paying him for it."
"Git out wid yer nonsense!" said Teddy, impatiently. "It couldn't been
a great deal, or if it was, it couldn't been done purposely, for I've
growed up wid Mister Harvey, and knowed him ever since he was knee
high to a duck, and he was _always_ a boy that did more praying than
fighting. The idea of _his_ harming anyone, is _pre-pos-te-trous._
After the haythen had fired at us, the good man actilly made me
promise not to do the wretch hurt if the chance was given me; and a
mighty foolish thing, for all it was Master Harvey who towld me, fur
I've had a chance or two at the spalpaan since. Oh blissed Virgin, why
_didn't_ I cut his wizzen for him whin I could have done it--that is,
if I could!"
"And you've been huntin' 'im these three or four months be you?"
"The same, yer honor, huntin' constantly, niver losing a day rain or
shine, wid Indians an' widout 'em, cold, hungry and tired, but not a
day of rist."
"Freeze me then, if you haven't got _grit_. Thar ain't many that would
track through the woods that ar long. And ye haven't caught a glimpse
of the gal nor heard nothin' of her?"
"Not a thing yet; but it's meself that 'xpacts to ivery day."
"In course, or ye wouldn' keep at the business. But s'pose, my friend,
you go on this way for a year more--what then?"
"As long as I can thravel over the airth and Miss Cora isn't found, me
faat shall niver find rest."
The trapper indulged in an incredulous smile.
"You'd be doing the same, Tim, if yees had iver laid eyes on Miss Cora
or had iver heard her speak," said Teddy, as his eyes filled with
tears. "God bliss her! she was worth a thousand such lives as mine--"
"Don't say nothin'" interrupted the trapper, endeavoring to conceal
his agitation; "I've l'arned years ago what that business is. The
copperskins robbed me of a prize I'll never git agin, long afore
you'd ever seen one of the infarnal beings."
"Was she a swateheart?"
"Never mind--never mind; it'll do no good to speak of it now. She's
"How do you know she can't be got agin, whin--"
"She was tomahawked afore my eyes--ain't that enough?" demanded the
"I axes pardon, but I was under the impression they had run away with
her as they did with Miss Cora."
"Hang 'em, no! If they'd have done that I'd have chased 'em to the
Pacific ocean and back agin afore I'd give 'em up."
"And that's what meself intends to do regarding Miss Cora."
"Yer see, yer don't know much about red-skins and their devilments,
and therefore, it's my private opine, instead of getting the gal,
they'll git you, and there'll be the end on't."
"Tim, couldn't yees make the s'arch wid me?" asked Teddy, in a deeply
earnest voice. The trapper shook his head.
"Like to do't, but can't. It's time I was up to the beaver runs this
night and had my traps set. Yer see I'm _compelled_ to be in St. Louey
at the end of six months and hain't got a day to spare."
"Mister Harvey has money, or, if he hasn't, he has friends in St.
Louis, be the same token, that has abundance of it, and you'd find it
paid you bitter in the ind than catching poor, innocent beavers, that
niver did yees harm."
"I don't foller sich business for money, but I've agreed to be in St.
Louey at the time I was tellin' you, and it's allers a p'int of honor
with me to keep my agreements."
"Couldn't yees be doing that, and this same thing, too?"
"Can't do't. S'pose I should git on the trail that is lost, can yer
tell me how fur I'd have to foller it? Yer see I've been in that
business afore, and know what it is. Me and three others once chased a
band of Blackfeet, that had carried off an old man, till we could see
the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, and git a taste of the breath of
wind that comes down from their ice and snow in middle summer."
"Didn't yees pursue the subjact any further?"
"We went fur enough to find that the nimble-footed dogs had got into
the mountains, and that if we wanted to keep our ha'r, we'd only got
to undertake to foller 'em thar. So we just tramped back agin, havin'
our trouble for nothin'."
"Wasn't that about as poor a business, for yees, as this be for me,
barring yees was hunting for an old man and I'm hunting for a young
"It warn't as foolish by a long shot, 'cause we _war on the trail_ all
the time, and kept it, while you've lost yours, and never'll be able
to find it agin. We war so close more nor once that we reached their
camp-fires afore the embers had died out and from the tops of two,
three hills we got a glimpse on 'em on thar horses. We traveled all
night a good many times, but it done no good as they done the same
thing, and we found we war further away, if anything, next morning
than we war at sundown. If we'd ever lost the trail so as not to find
it we'd guv up and come home, but we never done that nor never lost
more nor an hour in lookin' for it. You see," added the trapper,
impressively, "you never have found the trail, and, therefore, there
ain't the shadder of a chance."
"Begorrah, yees can't blame us whin we tried to the bist of our
indeavor to find it and wasn't able."
"Yer done the best yer knowed, I s'pose; but why didn't four on 'em
divide so as to let one go up one side the river and one t'other, and
the same way down-stream. Yer don't s'pose that feller was able to
keep paddlin' forever in the river, do yer? and jist so soon as he
landed, jist so sure would one of them Sioux find the spot where he
touched land, and foller him to his hole."
"Begorrah, if wees had only thought of that!"
"A Sioux is as cunning a red-skin as I ever found, and it's jist my
opine every one of 'em _did_ think of that same thing, but they didn't
try it for fear they might catch the varmint! They knew their man,
rest assured o' that."
Teddy looked up as if he did not comprehend the meaning of the last
"'Cordin' to yer own showin', one of them infarnal copper-gals was at
the bottom of the hull business, and it's like as not the men knowed
about it, too, and didn't _want_ to catch the gal!"
"There's where yees are mightily mistook, as Pat McGuire said whin
his landlord called him honest, for ivery one of them same
chocolate-colored gintlemen would have done their bist for Master
Harvey. They would have cut that thaif's wizzen wid a mighty good
will, I knows."
"Mebbe so, but I don't believe it!" said the hunter, with an
incredulous shake of his head.
"Would ye have me give up the s'arch altogether?"
"Can't say that I would; howsumever, the chance is small, and ye'd
better go west with me, and spend the winter in l'arning how to trap
fur beaver and otter."
"What good might result from that?"
"None, as I knows on."
"Then it's meself that thanks yees for the offer and respectfully
declines to accept the nomination. I'll jist elict meself to the
office of sheriff an' go about these regions wid a s'arch-warrint in
my shoes that'll niver let me rist until Miss Cora is found."
"Wal, I 'spose we'll part in the mornin' then. As yer say this are the
first time you've got as fur north, I'll say I think you're nearer the
trail than yer ever war yit."
"What might be the reason for that?" eagerly asked Teddy.
"I can't say what it is, only I kind o' feel it in my bones. Thar's a
tribe of copperskins about a hundred miles to the north'ard, that I'll
lay can tell yer _somethin'_ about the gal."
"Indians? An' be what token would they be acquaint with her?"
"They're up near the Hudson Bay Territory line, and be a harmless kind
of people. I stayed among 'em two winters and found 'em a harmless lot
o' simpletons that wouldn't hurt a hair o' yer head. Thar's allers a
lot of white people staying among 'em."
"I fails yit to see what they could be doing with Miss Cora."
"Mind I tells yer only what I _thinks_--not what I _knows_. It's my
private opine, then, that that hunter has took the gal up among them
Injins, and they're both living thar. If that be so, you needn't be
afeard to go right among 'em, for the only thing yer'll have to look
out fur will be the same old hunter himself."
This remark made a deep impression upon Teddy. He sat smoking his
pipe, and gazing into the glowing embers, as if he could there trace
out the devious, and thus far invisible, trail that had baffled him so
long. It must be confessed that the search of the Hibernian thus far
had been carried on in a manner that could hardly be expected to
insure success. He had spent weeks in wandering through the woods,
sleeping upon the ground or in the branches of some tree, fishing for
awhile in some stream, or hunting for game--impelled onward all the
time by his unconquerable resolve to find Cora Richter and return her
to her husband. On the night that the five Sioux returned to the
village, and announced their abandonment of the pursuit, Teddy told
the missionary that he should never see him again, until he had gained
some tidings of his beloved mistress, or had become assured that there
could be no hope of her recovery. How long this peculiar means of
hunting would have gone on, it is impossible to tell, but most
probably until Teddy himself had perished, for there was not the
shadow of a chance of his gaining any information of the lost one. His
meeting with the trapper was purely accidental, and the hint thrown
out by the latter was the reason of setting the fellow to work in the
The conversation was carried on for an hour or so longer, during which
the trapper gave Teddy more advice, and told him the best manner of
reaching the tribe to which he referred. He cautioned him especially
against delaying his visit any longer, as the northern winter was
almost upon them, and should he be locked in the wilderness by it, it
would be almost impossible for him to survive its rigor; but if he
should be among the tribe, he could rest in security and comfort until
the opening of spring. Teddy concluded to do as his companion advised,
and, after more unimportant conversation, both stretched themselves
out by the camp-fire and slept.
Just as the earliest light was breaking through the trees, the trapper
was on his feet, rekindling the fire. Finding, after this was
completed, that Teddy still slumbered, he brought him to his senses by
several forcible applications of his foot.
"Begorrah, it's meself that's thinking yees 'av a mighty gintle way of
coming upon one unawares, barring it's the same as a kick from a wild
horse. I was dr'aming jist thin of a blast of powder in a stone
quarry, which exploded under me feet, an' sint me up in the ship's
rigging, an' there I hung by the eaves until a lovely girl pulled me
in at the front door and shut it so hard that the chinking all fell
out of the logs, and woke me out of me pleasint delusions."
The trapper stared at the Irishman incredulously, thinking him
demented. Teddy's gaping and rubbing of his eyes with his fists, and,
finally, his stretching of arms and legs, reassured Tim of the
fellow's sanity, and he added:
"If yer hadn't woke just now, I'd tried ef lammin' yer over the head
would've done any good."
"Yees might have done that, as long as ye plaised, fur me sconce got
used to being cracked at the fairs in the owld country."
"I thought yer allers lived in this country."
"Not always, or how could I be an Irishman? God plaise I may niver
live here long enough to forgit owld Ireland, the Gim of the Sea.
What's the matter with yees now?"
The trapper having wandered a few yards from the camp-fire, had paused
suddenly and stood gazing at the ground. Teddy was obliged to repeat
"What is it yees have diskivered?"
"Sign, or ye may shoot me."
"Sign o' what?"
"Injins, ye wood-head! What else could I mean?"
Teddy now approached and narrowly examined the ground. His knowledge
of wood-craft had been considerably increased during the past month or
two, and he had no difficulty in distinguishing the imprint of a
"Look at the infarnal thing!" exclaimed the trapper, in disgust.
"Who'd a thort there'd 've been any of the warmints about, whin we
took sich pains with our fire. Why the chap didn't send a piece of
cold lead into each of our bread-baskets is more nor I can tell. It
would've sarved us both right."
"P'raps thim tracks there was made fornenst the night, and that it's
ourselves that was not here first."
"Don't yer s'pose I know all about _that_?" demanded the trapper,
savagely. "Them tracks was made not more'n three or four hours ago."
As he spoke. Tim turned and followed it a rod or two, and then, as he
came back, said:
"If I had the time I'd foller it; but it goes just t'other way from
what I want to go. I think like 'nough it leads to the village that
you want to find; so if yer'd like one of 'em to introduce yer to the
rest on 'em, drive ahead and make his acquaintance. Maybe he kin tell
yer something about the gal."
Teddy determined to follow the trail by all means. He partook of the
morning meal with the trapper, exchanged a pleasant farewell, and
then the two parted never to meet again.
The footprints were distinct and easily followed. Teddy advanced with
long, loping strides, at a gait considerably more rapid than his usual
one. He indulged in curious reveries as he followed it, fancying it to
be an unfriendly Indian with whom a desperate collision must
inevitably take place, or some friendly member of the tribe, of whom
the trapper had told him, that would prove a boon companion to him.
All at once he reached a small, marshy tract, where the trail was much
more palpable; and it was here that he either saw or fancied the toes
of the footprints turned _outward_, thus demonstrating that, instead
of an Indian, he was following a white man.
The Hibernian's heart throbbed at the thought that he was upon the
track of the strange hunter, with all probability of overtaking him.
It caused his heart to throb violently to reflect how close he was
upon the critical moment. Drawing a deep breath and closing his lips
tightly, he pressed on ready for the conflict.
The trail continued as distinct as ever, and the pursuit suffered no
interruption until it entered a deep swamp into which Teddy hesitated
to enter, its appearance was so dark and forbidding. As he gazed into
its gloomy depths, he was almost certain that he had discovered the
_home_ of the hunter. That at that moment the criminal was within its
confines, where perhaps the beloved Cora was imprisoned, a miserable
and pining captive. The thought maddened him, and he pressed forward
so rashly that he soon found himself completely entrapped in a network
of briers and brambles. Carefully withdrawing into the open wood, it
suddenly occurred to him, that if the hunter had passed through the
thicket, there was no earthly necessity of his doing it. He could pass
around, and, if the footprints were seen upon the opposite side, it
only remained to follow them, while, if they were not visible, it
certified that he was still within the thicket and he could therefore
shape his actions accordingly.
Teddy therefore made his way with patience and care around one end of
the thicket. He found the distance more considerable than he at first
supposed. It was full an hour before he was fairly upon the opposite
side. Here he made a careful search and was soon rewarded by finding
unmistakable footprints, so that he considered it settled that the
hunter had passed straight through the thicket.
"It's a quaar being he is entirely, when it's meself that could barely
git into the thicket, and he might have saved his hide by making a
short thramp around, rather than plunging through in this shtyle."
Teddy pressed on for two hours more, when he began to believe that he
was close upon the hunter, who must have traveled without intermission
to have eluded him thus far. He therefore maintained a strict watch,
and advanced with more caution.
The woods began to thicken, and the Hibernian was brought to a
stand-still by the sound of a rustling in the bushes. Proceeding some
distance further, he came upon the edge of a bank or declivity, where
he believed the strange hunter had laid down to rest. The footprints
were visible upon the edge of the bank, and at the bottom of the
latter was a mass of heavy undergrowth, so dense as effectually to
preclude all observation of what might be concealed within it.
It was in the shrubbery, directly beneath him, that Teddy believed the
hunter lay. He must be wearied and exhausted, and no doubt was in a
deep sleep. Teddy was sure, in his enthusiasm, that he had obtained a
glimpse of the hunter's clothes through the interstices of the leaves,
so that he could determine precisely the spot where he lay, and even
the position of his body--so eagerly did the faithful fellow's wishes
keep in advance of his senses.
And now arose the all-important question as to what he should do. He
might shoot him dead as he slept, and there is little question but
what Teddy would have done it had he not been restrained by the simple
question of expediency. The hunter was alone, and, if slain, all clue
to the whereabouts of Mrs. Richter would be irrecoverably lost. What
tidings that might ever be received regarding her, must come from the
lips of him who had abducted her. If he could desperately wound the
man, he might frighten him into a confession, but then Teddy feared
instead of wounding him merely with his rifle, he would kill him
altogether if he attempted to shoot.
After a full half-hour's deliberation, Teddy decided upon his course
of action. It was to spring knife in hand directly upon the face of
the hunter, pin him to the ground and then force the confession from
his lips, under a threat of his life, the Irishman mercifully
resolving to slay him at any rate, after he had obtained all that was
possible from him.
Teddy did not forget his experience of a few months before when the
hunter gave him an involuntary bath in the river. He therefore held
his knife firmly in his right hand. Now that he had concluded what to
do, he lost no time in carrying his plan into execution.
He took a crouching position, such as is assumed by the panther when
about to spring upon its prey, and then drawing his breath, he leaped
A yelping howl, an impetuous scratching and struggling of the furious
mass that he attempted to inclose in his arms, told Teddy that instead
of the hunter, he had pounced down upon an innocent, sleeping bear!
It was well for the Irishman that the bear was peaceably inclined,
else his search for the lost trail might have terminated then and
there. The brute, after freeing itself from its incubus, sprung off
and made all haste into the woods, leaving Teddy gazing after it in
stupefied amazement. He rose to his feet, stared at the spot where it
had last appeared and then drew a deep sigh, and sadly shook his
"I say nothing! Be jabers! it's meself that can't do justice to the
Harvey Richter stood in his cabin-door, about five months after his
great loss, gazing off toward the path which led to the Indian
village, and which he had traveled so many, many times. Sad and weary
was his countenance, as he stood, at the close of the day, looking
into the forest, as if he expected that it would speak and reveal what
it knew of his beloved partner, who was somewhere concealed within its
gloomy depths. Ah, how many an hour had he looked, but in vain. The
forest refused to give back the lost, nor did it breathe one word of
her, to ease the gloom which hung so heavily upon his soul.
A footfall caught his ear, and turning, he saw Teddy standing before
him. The face of the Irishman was as dejected as his own, and the
widowed man knew there was scarce need of the question:
"Have you heard anything, Teddy?"
"Nothing, sir, saving that nothing is to be learnt."
"Not my will, but thine, oh God, be done!" exclaimed the missionary,
reverently, and yet with a wailing sadness, that proved how
unutterable was his woe.
THE TRAIL OF DEATH.
These likelihoods confirm her flight from hence;
Therefore, I pray you, stay not to discourse,
But mount you presently.--SHAKESPEARE.
The trapper, after separating from the Irishman, pursued his way
through the woods with a slow tread, as if he were deliberating some
matter with himself. Occasionally he muttered and shook his head, in a
manner that showed his conscience was getting the better of the
debate, whatever it might be. Finally he paused.
"Yas, sir; it's a mean piece of business in me. 'Cause I want to cotch
a few beavers I must let this gal be, when she has been lost to her
husband already for three months. It's ongenerous, and _can't be
done_!" he exclaimed, emphatically. "What if I does lose a few
peltries when they're bringing such a good price down in St. Louey?
Can't I afford to do it, when there's a gal in the matter?"
He resumed his walk as slowly and thoughtfully as before, muttering to
"If I go, I goes alone; least I don't go with that Teddy, for he'd be
sartin to lose my ha'r as sure as we got onto a trail. There's no
calc'latin' the blunders of _such_ a man. How he has saved his own
scalp to this time is more nor I can tell, or himself neither, for
that matter, I guess. I've been on many a trail-hunt alone, and if I
goes--if I goes, why, _in course_ I does!" he added, impetuously.
The resolution once taken seemed to afford him unusual pleasure, as it
does with us all when the voice of conscience is a monitor that is
heeded. He was tramping toward the west, and now that the matter was
decided in his own mind, he paused again, as if he could better debate
other matters that must in the circumstances necessarily present
"In the first place, there's no use of going any further on _this_
track, for I ain't gettin' any nigher the gal, that's pretty sartin.
From what that Teddy told me of his travels, it can't be that she's
anywhere in these parts, for if she war, he couldn't have helped
l'arning something of her in all this time. There's a tribe up north
that I've heard was great on gettin' hold of white gals, and I think
I'll make a s'arch in that direction afore I does anything else."
Nothing more remained for Tim but to carry out the resolution he had
made, and it was characteristic of the man that he did it at once.
Five minutes after the above words had been muttered, he was walking
rapidly along in a northern direction, his rifle thrown over his arm,
and a beaming expression of countenance that showed there were no
regrets at the part he was acting. He had a habit of talking with
himself, especially when some weighty or unusual matter obtruded
itself. It is scarcely to be wondered, therefore, that he became quite
talkative at the present time.
"I allers admire such adventur's as this, if they don't bring in
anything more nor thanks. The style in which I've received them is
allers worth more money nor I ever made trapping beavers. The time I
cotched that little gal down on the Osage, that had been lost all
summer, I thought her mother would eat me up afore she'd let me go. I
believe I grinned all day and all night for a week after that, it made
me think I was such a nice feller. Maybe it'll be the same way with
The trapper paused abruptly, for on the ground before him he saw the
unmistakable imprint of a moccasin. A single glance of his experienced
eye assured him upon that point.
"That there are Injins in these parts is a settled p'int with me, and
that red and white blood don't agree is another p'int that is settled.
That track wasn't made there more nor two hours ago, and it's pretty
sartin the one that made it ain't fur away at this time. It happens it
leads to the north'ard, and it'll be a little divarsion to foller it,
minding at the same time that there's an Injin in it."
For the present the trapper was on a trail, and he kept it with the
skill and certainty of a hound. Over the dry leaves, the pebbly earth,
the fresh grass, the swampy hollow--everywhere, he followed it with
"That Injin has been on a hunt," he muttered, "and is going back home
agin. If it keeps in this direction much longer, I'll believe he's
from the very village I'm hunting after. Heigh! there's something else
He suddenly checked himself and began snuffing the air, as though it
was tainted with something suspicious.
"I hope I may be shot if there ain't a camp-fire within two hundred
yards of where I am standing."
He looked sharply around in every direction, but saw nothing of the
camp, although positive that his olfactories could not have deceived
"Whether it belongs to white or red can't be said, _sartin_; but it's
a great deal most likely that it's red, and it's just about as sartin
that that Injin ahead of me has gone pretty close to the camp, so I'll
keep on follering him."
A short distance further he became assured that he was in close
proximity to the fire, and he began to use extreme caution in his
movements. He knew very well how slight an inadvertence would betray
his approach, and a betrayal was almost fatal. Advancing some distance
further, he suddenly came in full view of the camp-fire. He saw three
Indians seated around it, smoking, and appearing as if they had just
finished their morning meal. It seemed, also, as if they were
discussing some matter that deeply interested all. The mumbling of
their voices could be heard, and one of them gesticulated quite
freely, as though he were excited over the conference. There was not
even the most remote possibility that what they were saying was of the
least concern to the trapper; and so, after watching them a few
moments, he moved cautiously by.
It was rarely that Tim ever had a mishap at such perilous times as
these, but to his dismay something caught his foot so dextrously, that
in spite of himself he was thrown flat upon his face. There was a dull
thump, not very loud, it is true, but he feared it had reached the
ears of the savages. He lay motionless, listening for a while, but
hearing nothing of their voices or footsteps, he judged that either
they had no suspicion of the true cause, or else had not heard him at
all. He therefore rose to his feet and moved on, occasionally glancing
back, to be sure he was not pursued.
The trapper proceeded in this manner until noon. Had the case been
urgent, he would not have paused until nightfall, as his indurated
muscles demanded no rest; he could go a couple of days without
nourishment, and experience little inconvenience. But there was no
call for haste. He therefore paused at noon, on the banks of a small
stream, in quest of some water-fowl.
Tim gazed up and down-stream, but saw nothing that would serve as a
dinner. He could have enticed a fish or two from their element, but he
had set his heart upon partaking of a bird, and was not willing to
accept anything else. Accordingly, he began walking down the bank of
the creek in search of one.
In such a country as was Minnesota forty years ago, the difficult
matter would have been to _avoid_ game rather than to find it. The
trapper had searched but a short distance, when he caught sight of a
single ptarmigan under the opposite bank. In a twinkling Tim's rifle
was raised, and, as it flashed forth its deadly messenger, the bird
made a single struggle, and then floated, a dead object, down the
Although rather anxious for his prize, the trapper, like many a hunter
since that day, was not willing to receive a wet skin so long as it
was possible to avoid it. The creek could be only of inconsiderable
depth, yet, on such a blustering day, he felt a distaste toward
exposing himself to its chilling clasp. Some distance below he noticed
the creek narrowed and made a curve. At this point he hoped to draw it
in shore with a stick, and he lost no time in hurrying to the point.
Arrived there, the trapper stood on the very margin of the water,
with a long stick in hand, waiting for the opportune moment. He
naturally kept his eye upon the floating bird, as any animal watches
the prey that he is confident is coming directly into his clutches.
From the opposite bank projected a large, overhanging bush, and such
was the bird's position in the water, that it was compelled to float
within a foot, at least, of this. Tim's eyes happened to be fixed
intently upon it at this moment, and, at the very instant it was at
the point named, he saw a person's hand flash out, seize the ptarmigan
by the neck, and bring it in to shore in a twinkling.
Indignation upon the part of the trapper was perhaps as great as his
surprise. He raised his rifle, and had it already sighted at the point
where he was confident the body of the thief must be concealed, when a
second thought caused him to lower his piece, and hurry up-stream, to
a spot directly opposite where the bird had disappeared.
Here he searched the shore narrowly, but could detect no sign of the
presence of any person. That there was, or had at least been, one
there, needed no further confirmation. The trapper was in no mood to
put up with the loss of his dinner, and he considered it rather a
point of honor that he should bring the offending savage to justice.
That it was an Indian he did not doubt, but he never once suspected,
what was true, that it was the identical one he had been following,
and who had passed his camp-fire.
In a few moments he found a shallow portion of the creek across which
he immediately waded and made his way down the bank, to where the
Indian had first manifested his presence. Here the keen eye of Tim at
once detected moccasin prints, and he saw that the savage had departed
with his prize.
There was no difficulty in following the trail, and the trapper did
so, with his long, loping, rapid walk. It happened to lead straight to
the northward, so that he felt it was no loss of time for him to do
It was morally certain the savage could be at no great distance; hence
the pursuer was cautious in his advance. The American Indian would
rather seek than avoid an encounter, and he was no foe to be despised
in a hand-to-hand contest. The trapper was in that mood that he would
not have hesitated to encounter two of them in deadly combat for the
possession of the bird which was properly his own, and which he was
not willing to yield until compelled to do so by physical force.
About a hundred rods brought the trapper to a second creek of larger
size than the first. The trail led directly into this, so he followed
without hesitation. Before doing so, he took the precaution to sling
his rifle to his back, so that his arms should be disencumbered in any
The creek proved to be of considerable depth, but not sufficient to
cause him to swim. Near the center, when it was up to his armpits, and
he was feeling every foot of the way as he advanced, he chanced by
accident to raise his head. As he did so, he caught a movement among
the undergrowth, and more from habit than anything else, dodged his
The involuntary movement allowed the bullet that was discharged at
that moment to pass harmlessly over his crown and bury itself in the
bank beyond. The next instant the trapper dashed through the water,
reaching the shore before the savage could reload. To his
disappointment and chagrin, the Indian was gone.
Tim, however, was not to be baffled in this manner, and dashed on as
impetuously as before. He was so close that he could hear the
fugitive as he fled, but the nature of the ground prevented rapid
progress upon the part of either, and it was impossible to tell for a
time who it was that was gaining.
"There's got to be an end to this race _some time_," muttered Tim, "or
I'll chase you up the north pole. You've stole my dinner, and tried to
steal my topknot, and now you shall have it or I shall have yours."
For some time this race (which in many respects resembled that of
Teddy and the strange hunter) continued, until the trapper found it
was himself that was really losing ground, and he sullenly came down
to a walk again. Still, he held to the trail with the unremitting
perseverance of the bloodhound, confident that, sooner or later, he
must come up with the fugitive.
All at once, something upon the ground caught his eye. It was the
ptarmigan, and he sprung exultingly forward and picked it up. It was
unharmed by the Indian, and he looked upon it as a tacit surrender, on
the part of his adversary, of the matter of dispute between them.
At first Tim was disposed to keep up the pursuit; but, on second
thought, he concluded to partake of his dinner, and then continue
his search for his human game. In order to enjoy his dinner it was
necessary to have it cooked, and he busied himself for a few moments
in collecting a few dried sticks, and plucking the feathers from the
fowl and dressing it.
While thus occupied, he did not forget to keep his eyes about him, and
to be prepared for the Indian in case he chose to come back. He
discovered nothing suspicious, however, and came to believe there was
no danger at all.
At length, when the afternoon was well advanced, the trapper's dinner
was prepared. He took the fowl from the blaze, and cutting a piece
with his hunting-knife, was in the very act of placing it in his
mouth, when the sharp crack of a rifle broke the stillness, and he
fell backward, pierced through the body by the bullet of the Indian
whom he had been pursuing.
"It's all up!" muttered the dying man. "I am wiped out at last, and
must go under!"
[Illustration: "It's all up!" muttered the dying man. "I am wiped out
at last, and must go under!"]
The Lost Trail had been the means of Tim, the trapper, discovering
what proved to him _the trail of death!_
THE DEAD SHOT.
And now 'tis still I no sound to wake
The primal forest's awful shade;
And breathless lies the covert brake,
Where many an ambushed form is laid.
I see the red-man's gleaming eye,
Yet all so hushed, the gloom profound,
That summer birds flit heedlessly,
And mocking nature smiles around.--LUNT.
Five years have passed. It is the summer of 1825. In that
comparatively brief period, what vast changes have taken place! How
many have come upon and departed from the stage of life! How many
plans, intentions and resolutions have been formed and either failed
or succeeded! How many governments have toppled to the earth, and
followed by "those that in their turn shall follow them." What a
harvest it has been for Death!
The missionary's cabin stands on the Clearing where it was first
erected, and there is little change in its outward appearance, save
that perhaps it has been more completely isolated from the wood. The
humble but rather massive structure is almost impervious to the touch
of time. It is silent and deserted within. Around the door plays a
little boy, the image of his mother, while some distance away, under
the shadow of the huge tree, sits the missionary himself. One leg is
thrown over the other, an open book turned with its face downward upon
his lap, while his hands are folded upon it, and he is looking off
toward the wood in deep abstraction of thought. Time has not been so
gentle with Harvey Richter. There are lines upon his face, and a sad,
wearied expression that does not properly belong there. It would have
required full fifteen years, in the ordinary course of events, to have
bowed him in this manner.
The young man--for he is still such--and his little boy are the only
ones who now dwell within the cabin. No tidings or rumors have reached
him of the fate of his wife, who was so cruelly taken from him four
years before. The faithful Teddy is still searching for her. The last
two winters he has spent at home, but each summer he has occupied in
wandering hither and thither through the great wilderness, in his
vain searching for the lost trail. Cast down and dejected, he has
never yet entirely abandoned hope of finding traces of her. He had
followed out the suggestion of the trapper, and visited the Indians
that dwelt further north, where he was informed that nothing whatever
was known of the missing woman. Since that time his search had been
mostly of an aimless character, which, as we have already stated,
could be productive of no definite results.
The missionary had become, in a degree, resigned to his fate; and yet,
properly speaking, he could not be said to be resigned, for he was not
yet convinced that she was entirely lost to him. All traces of the
strange hunter seemed irrecoverably gone, but Richter still devoutly
believed the providence of God would adjust everything in due time. It
is true, at seasons, he was filled with doubt and misgiving; but his
profession, his devotedness to his work, brought him in such close
communion with his divine Master that he trusted fully in his
On this summer afternoon, thoughts of his wife and of the strange
hunter occupied his mind more exclusively than they had for a year
past. So constant and preoccupying, indeed, were they, that he once
or twice believed he was on the eve of learning something regarding
her. While engaged in reading, the figures of his wife and the hunter
would obtrude themselves; he found it impossible to dismiss them, so
he had laid down the book and gone off into this absorbing reverie.
An additional fear or presentiment at times haunted the mind of the
missionary. He believed this hunter who could resort to such
diabolical means to revenge himself, would seek to inflict further
injury upon him, and he instinctively looked upon his boy as the
vulnerable point where the blow would be likely to fall. For over a
year, while Teddy was absent, Richter had taken the boy with him, when
making his daily visits to the village, and made it a point never to
lose sight of him. During these years of loneliness, also, Harvey
Richter had hunted a great deal in the woods and had attained
remarkable skill in the use of the rifle--an accomplishment for which
he had reason to be thankful for the remainder of his life, as we
shall presently see. On a pleasant afternoon, he frequently employed
himself in shooting at a target, or at small game in the lofty trees
around him, until his aim became so unerring that not a warrior among
the Sioux could excel him. It may seem singular, but our readers will
understand us when we say that this added to his popularity--and, in a
manner, paved a way for reaching many a heart that hitherto had
remained unmoved by his appeals.
The year preceding, an Indian had presented the missionary with a
goat, to the neck of which was attached a large cow-bell, that
probably had been obtained of some trader. Where the animal came from,
however, he had never been able to tell. It was a very acceptable
present, as it became a companion for his Charley, who spent many and
many an hour in sporting with it. It also afforded for a while a
much-valued luxury in the shape of milk, so that the missionary came
to regard the animal as an indispensable requirement in his household.
The goat acquired a troublesome habit of wandering off in the woods,
with an inclination not to return for several days. From this cause
the bell became useful as a signal to indicate the animal's
whereabouts. It rarely wandered beyond hearing, and caused no more
trouble than would have resulted from a cow under the same
circumstances. For the last few weeks it had been the duty, or rather
privilege, of Charley to bring his playmate home, and the child had
become so expert that the father had little hesitation in permitting
him to go out for it. The parent had misgivings, however, in allowing
him to leave the house, so near dark, to go beyond his sight if not
beyond his hearing; and for some time he had strenuously refused to
permit the boy to go upon his errand; but the little fellow plead so
earnestly, and the father's ever-present apprehensions having
gradually dulled by their want of realization, he had given his
reluctant consent, until it came to be considered the special province
of the boy to bring in the goat every evening just before nightfall.
The afternoon wore away, and still the missionary sat with folded
hands, gazing absently off in the direction of the wood. The boy at
length aroused him by running up and asking:
"Father, it is getting late. Isn't it time to bring Dolly home?"
"Yes, my son; do you hear the bell?"
The pleasant _tink-a-link_ came with faint distinctness over the still
"It isn't far away, my son; so run as fast as you can and don't play
or loiter on the way."
The child ran rapidly across the Clearing in the direction of the
sound, shot into the wood, and, a moment later, had disappeared from
his father's sight.
The father still sat in his seat, and was looking absently toward the
forest, when a startled expression flashed over his face and he sprung
to his feet. What thus alarmed him? _It was the sound of the
All of my readers who have heard the sound of an ordinary cow-bell
suspended to the neck of an animal, have observed that the natural
sound is an _irregular one_--that is, there is no system or regularity
about the sound made by an animal in cropping the grass or herbage.
There is the clapper's tink-a-link, tink-a-link--an interval of
silence--then the occasional tink, tink, tink, to be followed,
perhaps, by a repetition of the first-named sounds, varied
occasionally by a compound of all, caused by the animal flinging its
head to free itself from troublesome flies or mosquitoes. The bell in
question, however, gave no such sounds _as these_, and it was this
fact which filled the missionary with a sudden, terrible dread.
Suppose a person take one of these bells in his hand, and give a
steady, _uninterrupted_ motion. The consequence must be a regular,
unvarying, monotonous sound, which any ear can distinguish from the
natural one caused by the animal itself. It was a steady tink, tink,
tink, that the bell in question sent forth.
The missionary stood but a moment; then dashing into the house, he
took down his ever-loaded rifle and ran in the direction of the sound.
In his hurry, he forgot powder-horn and bullet, and had, as a
consequence, but a single charge in his rifle. He had gone scarcely a
hundred yards, when he encountered the goat returning home. One glance
showed there was _no bell_ to its neck, while that ominous tink, tink,
tink, came through the woods as uninterruptedly as before.
The father now broke into a swifter run, almost losing his presence of
mind from his great, agonizing fear. The picture of the Indian, whom
he had felled to the floor, when he insulted his wife years before,
rose before him, and he saw his child already struggling in the
savage's merciless grasp. Nearer and nearer he approached the sound,
until he suddenly paused, conscious that it was but a short distance
away. Hurrying stealthily but rapidly several rods to the right, the
whole thing was almost immediately made plain to him.
Two trees, from some cause or other, had fallen to the ground in a
parallel direction and within a yard of each other. Between the trunks
of these an Indian was crouched, who held the goat-bell in his left
hand, and caused the sound which so startled the father. The savage
had his back turned toward the missionary, and appeared to be looking
in the opposite direction, as if he were waiting the appearance of
While the father stood gazing at this, he saw his boy come to view
about fifty feet the other side of the Indian, and, as if wearied with
his unusual hunt, seat himself upon a log. As soon as the boy was
visible, the savage--whom Richter recognized at once as the same man
that he had felled to the floor of his cabin, four years
before--called into use a little common sense, which, if it had been
practised somewhat sooner, must have completely deluded the father and
accomplished the design meditated. If, instead of giving the bell the
monotonous tink, the Indian had shaken the clapper irregularly, it
would have resulted in the certain capture of the child, beyond the
father's power of aid or rescue.
The missionary, we say, penetrated the design of the Indian almost
instantly. Although he saw nothing but the head and top of one
shoulder, he recognized, with a quick instinct, the villain who had
felt the weight of his hand years before, and who had now come in the
fullness of time, to claim his revenge. Directly in front of the
savage rose a small bush, which, while it gave him a view of the boy,
concealed himself from the child's observation.
The object of the Indian seemed to be to lure the boy within his
reach, so as to secure him without his making an outcry or noise. If
he could draw him close to the logs, he would spring upon him in an
instant, and prevent any scream, which assuredly must reach the
father, who, with his unerring rifle would have been upon the ground
in a few moments. It was an easy matter for the savage to slay the
boy. It would not have done to shoot his rifle, but he could have
tomahawked him in an instant; hence it was plain that he desired only
to take him prisoner. He might have sprung upon his prey in the woods,
but there he ran the risk of being seen by the child soon enough for
him to make an outcry, which would not fail of bringing immediate
assistance. His plan, therefore, was, to beguile the little fellow on
until he had walked directly into the snare, as a fly is lured into
the web of a spider.
This, we say, was the plan of the Indian. It had never entered into
his calculations that the goat, after being robbed of her bell, might
go home and tell a tale, or that there were other ways in which the
boy could be secured, without incurring half the peril he already had
The moment the father comprehended what we have endeavored to make
plain, he raised his rifle, with the resolve to shoot the savage
through the head. As he did so, he recalled the fact that he had but a
single charge, and that, as a consequence, a miss would be the
death-warrant of himself as well as of his child. But he knew his eye
and hand would never fail him. His finger already pressed the trigger,
when he was restrained by an unforeseen impediment.
While the deadly rifle was poised, the boy stretched himself up at
full length, a movement which made known to the father that his child
was exactly in range with the Indian himself, and that a bullet
passing through the head of the savage could not fail to bury itself
in the little fellow's body. This startling circumstance arrested the
pressure of the trigger at the very moment the ball was to be sped
upon its errand of death.
The missionary sunk down upon one knee, with the intention of bringing
the head of the savage so high as to carry the bullet over the body of
his boy, but this he found could not be done without too seriously
endangering his aim. He drew a bead from one side of the tree, and
then from the other, but from both stand-points the same dreadful
danger threatened. The ground behind the tree was somewhat elevated,
and was the only spot from which he could secure a fair view of the
bronze head of the relentless enemy.
Two resorts were at the command of Richter. He could leave the tree
altogether, and pass around so as to come upon the savage from a
different direction; but this involved delay during which his boy
might fall into the Indian's power and be dispatched, as he would be
sure to do when he found that the father was close at hand; and from
the proximity of the two men, it could hardly fail to precipitate a
collision between them. The Indian, finding himself at bay, could not
fail to prove a most troublesome and dangerous customer, unarmed, as
Richter was, with weapons for a close encounter.
The father might also wait until the boy should pass out of range.
Still, there was the possibility of his proceeding directly up to the
spot where the savage lurked, thus keeping in range all the while.
Then the attempted rescue would have to be deferred until the child
was in the hands of the savage. These considerations, passing through
Richter's brain much more rapidly than we have narrated them, decided
him to abandon both plans, and to resort to what, beyond question, was
a most desperate expedient.
The Indian held the bell in his left hand. It was suspended by the
string which had clasped the neck of the goat, and, as it swayed
gently back and forth, this string slowly twisted and untwisted
itself, the bell, of course, turning back and forth. The father
determined to slay the Indian and save his son by _shooting this
It is not necessary to describe the shape and make of the common
cow-bell in general use throughout our country; but it is necessary
that the reader should bear them in mind in order to understand the
manner in which the missionary proposed to accomplish this result.
His plan was to strike the bell when in the proper position, and
_glance the bullet into the head of the savage_!
The desperate nature of this expedient will be seen at once. Should
the gun be discharged when the flat side of the bell was turned toward
him, the ball would pass through, and most probably kill his child
without endangering the life of the Indian. If it struck the narrow
side, it accomplished neither harm nor good; while, if fired at the
precise moment, and still aimed but an inch too low, the bell would
most likely be perforated. Consequently, it was requisite that the
rifle be discharged at the precise instant of time when the signal
brass was in the correct position, and that the aim should be
All this Richter realized only too painfully; but, uttering an inward
prayer, he raised his rifle with a nerve that knew no faltering or
fear, holding it pointed until the critical moment should arrive. That
moment would be when the string was wound up, and was turning, to
unwind. Then, as it was almost stationary, he fired.
No sound or outcry betrayed the result; but, clubbing his rifle, the
father bounded forward, over the trees, to the spot where the Indian
was crouching. There he saw him in his death-struggle upon the ground
the bell still held fast in his hand. In that critical moment, Harvey
Richter could not forbear glancing at it. Its top was indented, and
sprinkled with white by the glancing passage of the lead. The blood,
oozing down the face of the savage, plainly showed how unerringly true
had been the aim.
Something in the upward look of the dying man startled the missionary.
"Harvey Richter--don't you know me?" he gasped.
[Illustration: "Harvey Richter--don't you know me?" he gasped.]
"I know you as a man who has sought to do me a wrong that only a fiend
could have perpetrated. Great Heaven! Can it be? Is this you, Brazey
"Yes; but you've finished me, so there isn't much left."
"Are you the man, Brazey, who has haunted me ever since we came in
this country? Are you the person who carried away poor, dear Cora?"
"Yes--yes!" answered the man, with fainting weariness.
Such, indeed, was the case. The strange hunter and the Indian known
as Mahogany were one and the same person.
"Brazey, why have you haunted me thus, and done me this great wrong?"
"I cannot tell. When I thought how you took her from me, it made me
crazy when I thought about it. I wanted to take her from you, but I
wouldn't have dared to do that if you hadn't struck me. I wanted
"What have you done with her?"
"She is gone, I haven't seen her since the day after I seized her,
when a band of Indians took her from me, and went up north with her.
They have got her yet, I know, for I have kept watch over her, and she
is safe, but is a close prisoner." This he said with great difficulty.
"Brazey, you are dying. I forgive you. But does your heart tell you
you are at peace with Him whom you have offended so grievously?"
"It's too late to talk of that now. It might have done years ago, when
I was an honest man like yourself, and before I became a vagabond,
bent on injuring one who had never really injured me."
"It is never too late for God to forgive--"
"Too late--too late, I tell you! _There!_" He rose upon his elbow,
his eyes burning with insane light and his hand extended. "I see
her--she is coming, her white robes floating on the air. Oh, God,
forgive me that I did her the great wrong! But, she smiles upon
me--she forgives me! I thank thee, angel of good----"
He sunk slowly backward, and Harvey Richter eased the head softly down
upon the turf. Brazey Davis was no more.
Heart leaps to heart--the sacred flood
That warms us is the same;
That good old man--his honest blood
Alike we frankly claim.--SPRAGUE.
The missionary gazed sadly upon the inanimate form before him. He saw
the playmate of his childhood stricken down in death by his own hand,
which never should have taken human life, and although the act was
justifiable under the circumstances, the good man could but mourn the
painful necessity that occasioned it. The story, although possessing
tragic interest, was a brief one. Brazey Davis, as he had always been
termed, was a few years older than himself, and a native of the same
neighborhood. He was known in childhood as one possessing a vindictive
spirit that could never forgive an injury--as a person who would not
hesitate at any means to obtain revenge. It so happened that he became
desperately enamored of the beautiful Cora Brandon, but becoming
aware, at length, that she was the betrothed of Harvey Braisted, the
young missionary in embryo, the disappointed lover left the country,
and was never heard of by the missionary until he made himself known
in the singular manner that we have related at the opening of our
narrative. He had, in fact, come to be a sort of monomaniac, who
delighted in annoying his former rival, and in haunting his footsteps
as if he were his evil shadow. The abduction of his wife had not been
definitely determined upon until that visit to the cabin, in the garb
and paint of an Indian, when he received the tremendous blow that
almost drove the life from his body. Davis then resolved to take the
revenge which would "cut" the deepest. How well he succeeded, the
reader has learned.
The missionary's child stood pleading for an explanation of the
strange scene before him. Loosening the bell from the grasp of the
dead man, the minister took the little hand, and, with a heart
overflowing with emotion, set out for his cabin. It was his wish to
give the hunter a Christian burial; but, for the present, it was
impossible. These dying words rung in his ears: "The Indians took her
from me, and went up north with her, where she now is, _and safe_!"
Blessed thought! She was then living, and was yet to be restored to
his arms. The shadow of death passed away, and a great light
illuminated his very being. The lost was found!
When the missionary came to be more collected, he concluded that this
must be the tribe of which Teddy had once spoken, but which had been
visited by him without success. The prize was too great to be
intrusted in the hands of another, and Harvey determined to make the
search in person, to settle, if possible, once and forever, the fate
of his beloved wife.
He soon proceeded to the Indian village, where he left his boy and
gave notice that he should not be back for several days. He then
called one of the most trusty and skillful warriors aside, and asked
for his company upon the eventful journey. The savage cheerfully
complied, and the two set out at once. It was a good distance to the
northward, and when night came down upon them, many miles yet remained
to be passed. There was little fear of disturbance from enemies, and
both lay down and slept until daylight, when they were immediately on
their way again.
This journey through the northern wilderness was unvaried by any
event worthy of record, and the details would be uninteresting to the
reader. Suffice it to say that, just as the fourth day was closing in,
they struck a small stream, which pursued a short distance, brought
them directly upon the village for which they had been searching.
The advent of the Indian and missionary among them created
considerable stir, but they were treated with respect and
consideration. Harvey Richter asked immediately for the chief or
leading man, and shortly stood in his presence. He found him a short,
thick-set half-breed, whose age must have been well-nigh three-score
years, and who, to his astonishment, was unable to speak English,
although many of his subjects spoke it quite intelligibly. He
understood Sioux, however, and the missionary's companion acted as
Our friend made a full statement of his wife's abduction, years
before, and of the assertion of the dying man that she had been taken
from him by members of this tribe, who had retained her ever since.
The chief waited sometime before replying; he seemed debating with
himself as to the proper course to pursue. Finally he said he must
consult with one of his warriors, and departed abruptly from the
Ten minutes later, while the missionary, with a painfully-throbbing
heart, was gazing around the lodge, with that minute scrutiny of the
most trifling objects peculiar to us at such times, he caught the
sound of returning footsteps, and turned to the lodge door. There
stood the Indian, and, directly beside him, his own lost Cora!
The next day at noon, a camp-fire might have been seen some miles
south of the northern village of which we have made mention. An Indian
was engaged in cooking a piece of meat, while the missionary and his
reclaimed jewel, sitting side by side, her head reclining upon his