Part 3 out of 6
Joe, disliking the idea of exposing himself without the inclosure.
"True, yet it must be had. If you can get it nearer to us, you are at
liberty to do so," said Glenn.
"Here comes Sneak," said Mary; "he will assist you."
Sneak readily agreed to the proposition, and he and Joe set out, each
with a large bucket, while the rest of the party, with the exception
of Boone (who desired to be left alone,) retired within the house.
When Sneak and Joe were filling their buckets at the spring the second
time, the hounds (which attended them at Joe's special request)
"What's that?" cried Joe, dashing his bucket, water and all, in
Sneak's lap, and running ten or fifteen feet up the hill.
"Dod rot your cowardly heart!" exclaimed Sneak, rising up and shaking
the cold water from his clothes; "if I don't pay you for this, I wish
I may be shot!"
"I thought it was the Indians," said Joe, still staring at the small
thicket of briers, where the hounds were yet growling and bounding
about in a singular manner.
"I'll see what it is and then pay you for this ducking," said Sneak,
walking briskly to the edge of the thicket, while the water trickled
down over his moccasins.
"What is it?" cried Joe, leaping farther up the ascent with great
trepidation, as he saw the hounds run out of the bushes as if pursued,
and even Sneak retreating a few paces. But what seemed very
unaccountable was a _smile_ on Sneak's elongated features.
"What in the world can it be?" repeated Joe.
"Ha! ha! ha! if that ain't a purty thing to skeer a full-grown man
into fits!" said Sneak, retreating yet farther from the thicket.
"What makes _you_ back out, then?" inquired Joe. The hounds now ran to
the men, and the next moment a small animal, not larger than a rabbit,
of a dark colour, with long white stripes from the nose to the tail,
made its appearance, and moved slowly toward the spring. Sneak ran up
the hill beyond the position occupied by Joe, maintaining all the time
a most provoking smile.
"Who's scared into fits now, I should like to know?" retorted Joe.
"I wish I had my gun," said Sneak.
"Hang me, if I'm afraid of that little thing," said Joe. Still the
hounds ran round, yelping, but never venturing within thirty feet of
"I'll be whipped if I understand all this!" said Joe, in utter
astonishment, looking at Sneak, and then at the hounds.
"Why don't you _run_?" cried Sneak, as the animal continued to
"I believe you're making fun of me," said Joe; "that little thing
can't hurt anybody. Its a pretty little pet, and I've a notion to
"What are you talking about? You know you're afraid of it," said
"I'll show you," said Joe, springing upon the animal. The polecat (for
such it was) gave its assailant a taste of its quality in a twinkling.
Joe grasped his nose with both hands and wheeled away with all
possible expedition, while the animal pursued its course towards the
"My goodness, I've got it all over my coat!" exclaimed Joe, rolling on
the snow in agony.
"Didn't I say I'd pay you for spilling the cold water on me?" cried
Sneak, in a convulsion of laughter.
"Why didn't you tell me, _you rascal_?" cried Joe, flushed in the
face, and forgetting the Indians in his increasing anger.
"Oh, I'll laugh myself sore--ha! ha! ha!" continued Sneak, sitting
down on the snow, and laughing obstreperously.
"You long, lopsided scoundrel, you. My Irish blood is up now," said
Joe, rushing towards Sneak with a resolution to fight.
"I'll be whipt if you tech me with them hands," said Sneak, running
"Oh, what shall I do?" cried Joe, sinking down, his rage suddenly
subdued by his sickening condition.
"If you'll say all's square betwixt us, I'll tell you what to do. If
you don't do something right quick, they won't let you sleep in the
house for a month."
"Well. Now tell me quick!"
"Pull off your coat before it soaks through."
"I didn't think of that," said Joe, obeying with alacrity, and
shivering in the cold air.
"Now twist a stick into it, so you can carry it up to the house,
without touching it with your hands, that is, if none of it got on
'em," continued Sneak.
"There ain't a bit anywhere else but on the shoulder of my coat," said
Joe, acting according to Sneak's instructions. Filling their buckets,
they at length started towards the house, Joe holding a bucket in one
hand, and a long pole, on which dangled his coat, in the other. When
they entered, the company involuntarily started; and Glenn, losing all
control over his temper, hurled a book at his man's head, and
commanded him not to venture in his presence again until he could by
some means dispense with his horrid odor.
"Foller me," said Sneak, leading the way to the stable, and taking
with him one of the spades he had brought in from the burial; "now,"
he continued, when they were with the horses, "dig a hole at this end
of the stall, and bury your coat. If you hadn't took it in the house,
like a dunce, they'd never 'ave known any thing about it."
"Oh, my goodness! I'm sick!" said Joe, urging the spade in the earth
with his foot, and betraying unequivocal signs of indisposition.
However, the garment was soon covered up, and the annoyance abated.
But no sooner was Joe well out of this difficulty, than the dread of
the tomahawk and scalping knife returned in greater force than ever.
Boone remained taciturn, his clear, eagle-eye scanning the palisade,
and the direction from which the savages would be most likely to come.
Joe approached the renowned pioneer for the purpose of asking his
opinion respecting the chances of escaping with life from the expected
struggle, but was deterred by his serious and commanding glance. But
soon a singular change came over his stern features, and as sudden as
strange. His countenance assumed an air of triumph, and a half-formed
smile played upon his lip. His meditations had doubtless resulted in
the resolution to adopt some decisive course, which, in his opinion,
would insure the safety of the little garrison. His brow had been
watched by the inmates of the house, and, hailing the change with joy,
they came forth to ascertain more certainly their fate.
"How much powder have you, my young friend?" asked Boone.
"Five kegs," answered Glenn, promptly.
"Then we are safe!" said Boone, in a pleasant and affable manner,
which imparted confidence to the whole party.
"I thought--I almost _knew_ that we were safe, with _you_ among us,"
said Mary, playing with Boone's hand.
"But you must not venture out of the house as much as you did before,
my lass, when arrows begin to fly," replied Boone, kissing the
"But I'll mould your bullets, and get supper for you," said Mary.
"That's a good child," said Roughgrove; "go in, now, and set about
Mary bowed to her father, and glided away. The men then clustered
round Boone, to hear the plan that was to avail them in their present
"In times of peril," said Boone, "my knowledge of the Indian character
has always served me. I first reflect what I would do were I myself a
savage; and, in taking measures to provide against the things which I
imagine would be done by myself, I have never yet been disappointed.
The Indians will not rashly rush upon us, and expose themselves to our
bullets, as they storm the palisade. Had they the resolution to do
this, not one of us would escape alive, for they would tear down the
house. It is a very large war-party, and they could begin at the top
and before morning remove every stone. But they shall not touch one of
"I'm so glad!" ejaculated Joe.
"Hush your jaw!" said Sneak.
"They will be divided into two parties," continued Boone; "one party
will attack us from the west with their arrows, keeping at a
respectful distance from our guns, while the other will force a
passage to the palisade from the east without being seen, for they
will come under the snow! We must instantly plant a keg of powder, on
the outside of the inclosure, and blow them up when they come. Joe,
bring out a keg of powder, and also the fishing rods I saw in the
house. The latter must be joined together, and a communication opened
through them. They must be filled with powder and one end placed in
the keg, while the other reaches the inclosure, passing through an
auger hole. You all understand now what is to be done--let us go to
work--we have no time to spare."
It was not long before every thing was executed according to the
directions of Boone, and at nightfall each man was stationed at a
loophole, with gun in hand, awaiting the coming of the savages.
Night--Sagacity of the hounds--Reflection--The sneaking savages--Joe's
disaster--The approach of the foe under the snow--The silent watch.
The night was beautiful. The moon sailed through a cloudless sky, and
the north wind, which had whistled loudly among the branches of the
trees in the valley at the close of day, was hushed, and a perfect
calm pervaded the scene.
"What're you leaving your post for?" asked Sneak, as Joe suddenly
abandoned his watch on the west side of the inclosure, and tripped
across to Roughgrove.
"Mr. Roughgrove--Mr. Roughgrove," said Joe, in a low tone.
"Well, what do you want with me?" responded the old ferryman.
"I wanted to tell you that your two oarsmen are forgotten, and to ask
you if we hadn't better call to them to come up here, where they'll be
out of danger?"
"They are _not_ forgotten," said Roughgrove; "I sent them over the
river to procure assistance, if possible."
"Thank you. I'm glad they're out of danger. I couldn't rest till I
found out something about them," said Joe, retiring; but instead of
resuming his watch, he slipped into the house.
"He's at his old tricks agin," said Sneak, when he observed him
stealthily enter the door. "Come out, I say!" he continued, in a loud
"What is the matter?" interrogated Glenn, from his station on the
"Why, that feller's crept into the house agin," replied Sneak.
"Well, but he's come out again," said Joe, reappearing, and walking
reluctantly to his loophole.
"What did you go in for?" demanded Glenn.
"I just wanted to tell Miss Mary that the two oarsmen that helped us
to bury Posin were gone over the river, and were safe."
"Did she ask for this information?" inquired Glenn.
"No, not exactly," responded Joe; "but I thought if I was uneasy about
the young men myself, that she, being more delicate than a man, must
be considerably distressed."
"A mere subterfuge! See that you do not leave your post in future,
under any circumstances, without permission to do so."
"I won't," replied Joe, peering through his loophole.
Matters remained quiet for a great length of time, and Glenn began to
hope that even Boone had been mistaken. But Boone himself had no
doubts upon the subject. Yet he seemed far more affable and cheerful
than he did before the plan of resistance was formed in his mind.
Occasionally he would walk round from post to post, and after scanning
the aspect without, direct the sentinels to observe closely certain
points, trees or bushes, where he thought the enemy might first be
seen. He never hinted once that there was a possibility of escaping an
attack, and the little party felt that the only alternative was to
watch with diligence and act with vigor and resolution when assailed.
"Do you think they are now in this immediate neighbourhood?" inquired
"They are not far off, I imagine," replied Boone; and calling the
hounds from the stable, he continued, "I can show you in which quarter
they are." The hounds well understood their old master. At his bidding
they snuffed the air, and whining in a peculiar manner, with their
heads turned towards the west, the vicinity of the savages was not
only made manifest, but their location positively pointed out.
"I was not aware, before, of the inestimable value of your gift," said
Glenn, gazing at the hounds, and completely convinced that their
conduct was an unerring indication of the presence of the foe.
"Eh! Ringwood!" exclaimed Boone, observing that his favorite hound now
pointed his nose in a northern direction and uttered a low growl.
"Indeed!" he continued, "they have got in motion since we have been
observing the hounds. I was not mistaken. Even while we were speaking
they divided their strength. One party is even now moving round to the
east, and at a given signal the other will attack us on the west,
precisely as I predicted. See! Ringwood turns gradually."
"And you think the greatest danger is to be apprehended from those on
the east?" said Glenn.
"Yes," said Boone, "for the others cannot approach near enough to do
much injury without exposing themselves to great peril."
"But how can you ascertain that they will cut a passage under the
snow, and the precise direction in which they will come?"
"Because," said Boone, "we are situated near the cliff on the east, to
the summit of which they can climb, without being exposed to our fire,
and thence it is likewise the shortest distance they can find to cut a
passage to us under the snow. Mark Ringwood!" he continued, as the
hound having made a semicircle from the point first noticed, became at
length stationary, and crouching down on the earth, (where the snow
had been cleared away at Boone's post,) growled more angrily than
before, but so low he could not have been heard twenty paces distant.
"This is strange--very strange," said Glenn.
A sound resembling the cry of an owl was heard in the direction of the
cliff. It was answered on the west apparently by the shrill howl of a
"The signal!" said Boone. "Now let us be on the alert," he continued,
"and I think we will surprise _them_, both on and under the snow. Let
no one fire without first consulting me, even should they venture
within the range of your guns."
The party resumed their respective stations, and once more not a sound
of any description was heard for a considerable length of time.
Roughgrove was at the side of Boone, and the other three men were
posted as before described. The hounds had been sent back to their
lair in the stable. Not a motion, animate or inanimate, save the
occasional shooting of the stars in the begemmed firmament, could be
While Glenn rested upon his gun, attracted ever and anon by the
twinkling host above, a throng of unwonted memories crowded upon him.
He thought of his guileless youth; the uncontaminated days of
enjoyment ere he had mingled with the designing and heartless
associates who strove to entice him from the path of virtue; of the
hopes of budding manhood; of ambitious schemes to win a name by great
and honourable deeds; of parents, kindred, home; of _her_, who had
been the angel of all his dreams of paradise below: and then he
contemplated his present condition, and notwithstanding his resolution
was unabated, yet in spite of all his struggles, a tear bedewed his
cheek. He felt that his fate was hard, but he _knew_ that his course
was proper, and he resolved to fulfil his vow. But with his sadness,
gloomy forebodings, and deep and unusual thoughts obtruded. In the
scene of death and carnage that was about to ensue, it occurred to him
more than once that it might be his lot to fall. This was a painful
thought. He was brave in conflict, and would not have hesitated to
rush reckless into the midst of danger; but he was calm now, and the
thought of death was appalling. He would have preferred to die on a
nobler field, if he were to fall in battle. He did not wish to die in
his _youth_, to be cut off, without accomplishing the many ends he had
so often meditated, and without reaping a few of the sweets of life as
the reward of his voluntary sacrifice. He also desired to appear once
more in the busy and detracting world, to vindicate the character that
might have been unjustly aspersed, to reward the true friendship of
those whose confidence had never been shaken, and to rebuke, perhaps
forgive, the enemies who had recklessly pursued him. But another, and
yet a more stirring and important thought obtruded upon his
reflections. It was one he had never seriously considered before, and
it now operated upon him with irresistible power. It was a thought of
things _beyond_ the grave. The stillness of midnight, the million
stars above him, the blue eternal expanse through which they were
distributed--the repose of the invisible winds, that late had howled
around him--the never-ceasing flow of the ice-bound stream before him,
and the continual change of hill and valley--now desolate, and clothed
in frosty vestments, and anon with verdure and variegated
beauty--constrained him to acknowledge in the secret portals of his
breast that there was a great, ever-existing Creator. He then called
to mind the many impressive lessons of a pious mother, which he had
subsequently disregarded. He remembered the things she had read to him
in the book of books--the words of prayer she taught him to utter
every eve, ere he closed his eyes in slumber--and he _now_ repeated
that humble petition with all the fervency of a chastened spirit. He
felt truly convinced of the fallacy of setting the heart and the
affections altogether on the things of this world, where mortals are
only permitted to abide but a brief space; and a hearty repentance of
past errors, and a firm resolve to obey the requisitions of the
Omnipotent in future, were in that hour conceived and engraven
indelibly upon his heart.
"Mr. Boone--Mr. Boone--Mr. Boone!" cried Joe, softly.
"Dod! don't make sich a fuss," said Sneak.
"Be silent," whispered Boone, gliding to Joe, and gazing out on the
snow, where he beheld about twenty savages standing erect and
motionless, not eighty paces distant.
"I came within an ace of shooting," said Joe, "before I thought of
what you had said. I pulled the trigger with all my might before I
remembered that you said I musn't shoot till you told me, but as good
luck would have it, my musket wasn't cocked." Boone went to each of
the other loopholes, and after scrutinizing every side very closely,
he directed Sneak and Glenn to abandon their posts and join him at
Joe's stand, for the purpose of discharging a deadly volley at the
"Does it not seem cruel to spill blood in this manner?" whispered
Glenn, when he viewed the statue-like forms of the unconscious
"Had you witnessed the barbarous deeds that _I_ have seen _them_
perform--had you beheld the innocent babe ruthlessly butchered--your
children--your friends maimed, tomahawked, scalped, _burned_ before
your eyes--could you know the hellish horrors they are _now_
meditating--you would not entertain much pity for them," said Boone,
in a low tone, evidently moved by terrible memories, the precise
nature of which the one addressed could not understand. But Glenn's
scruples vanished, and as a matter of necessity he determined to
submit without reserve to the guidance of his experienced friend.
"I should like to know how them yaller rascals got up here so close
without being eyed sooner," said Sneak to Joe.
"That's what's been puzzling me, ever since I first saw them," said
Joe, in scarce audible tones.
"Split me if you havn't been asleep," said Sneak.
"No indeed I havn't," said Joe. "I'll declare," he continued, looking
out, "I never should have thought of _that_. I see now, well enough,
how they got there without my seeing them. They've got a great big
ball of snow, half as high as a man's head, and they've been rolling
it all the time, and creeping along behind it. They're all standing
before it now, and just as I looked one moved his leg, and then I saw
what it was. This beats the old boy himself. It's a mercy they didn't
come all the way and shoot me in the eye!"
"Hush!" said Boone. "They must have heard something, or supposed they
did, or else your neglect would have been fatal to you ere this. They
are now waiting to ascertain whether they were mistaken or not. Move
not, and speak no more, until I order you."
"I won't," said Joe, still gazing at the erect dark forms.
"See how many there is--can't you count 'em?" said Sneak, in a
whisper, leaning against Joe, and slyly taking a cartridge from his
belt, slipped it in the muzzle of the musket which was standing
against the palisade.
"What're you doing with my gun?" asked Joe, in a very low tone, as he
happened to turn his head and see Sneak take his hand away from the
muzzle of the musket.
"Nothing--I was only feeling the size of the bore. It's big enough to
kick down a cow."
"What are you tittering about? you think it's a going to kick me
again, but you're mistaken--it ain't got two loads in this time."
"Didn't Mr. Boone jest tell you to keep quiet?" said Sneak.
"Don't you speak--then I won't," responded Joe.
The moon had not yet reached the meridian, and the dark shadow of the
house reaching to the palisade on the west, prevented the Indians from
observing the movements of the whites through the many slight
apertures in the inclosure, but through which the besieged party could
easily observe them.
After a long pause, during which neither party had uttered a word or
betrayed animation by the least movement, Glenn felt the weight of a
hand laid gently on his shoulder, and turning beheld Mary at his side.
Without a motion of the lips, she placed in his hand some bullets she
had moulded, and then passing on to the other men, gave each a like
"Retire, now, my lass," said Boone; and when she returned to the
house, he continued, addressing Glenn--"If they do not move one way or
the other very soon, we will give them a broadside where they are."
"And we could do execution at this distance," observed Glenn.
"I'd be dead sure to kill one, I know I would," said Sneak.
"Let me see if I could take aim," said Joe, deliberately pointing his
musket through the loophole. The musket had inadvertently been cocked,
and left in that condition, and no sooner did Joe's finger gently
press upon the trigger, than it went off, making an astounding report,
and veiling the whole party in an immense cloud of smoke.
"Who did that?" cried Boone, stamping with vexation.
"Was that you, Joe?" demanded Glenn.
Joe made no answer.
"Oh, dod! my mouth's smashed all to pieces!" said Sneak, crawling up
from a prostrate position, caused by the rebound of the musket, for he
was looking over Joe's shoulder when the gun went off.
"Where's Joe?" inquired Glenn, pushing Sneak aside.
"He's dead, I guess--I believe the gun's busted," said Sneak.
"Now, sir! why did you fire?" cried Glenn, somewhat passionately,
stumbling against Joe, and seizing him by the collar. No answer was
made, for poor Joe's neck was limber enough, and he quite insensible.
"He's dead in yearnest, jest as I told you," said Sneak; "for that gun
kicked him on the shoulder hard enough to kill a cow--and the hind
side of his head struck my tooth hard enough to've kilt a horse. He's
broke one of my upper fore-teeth smack in two."
"Every man to his post!" exclaimed Boone, as a shower of arrows
rattled about the premises.
Sneak now occupied Joe's station, and the first glance in the
direction of the savages sufficed to determine him how to act. Perhaps
no one ever discharged a rifle more rapidly than he did. And a brisk
and well-directed fire was kept up for some length of time, likewise,
by the rest of the besieged.
It was, perhaps, a fortunate thing that Joe _did_ fire without orders,
and without any intention of doing so himself. It seemed that the
savages had been meditating a desperate rush upon the fort,
notwithstanding Boone's prediction; for no sooner did Joe fire, than
they hastily retreated a short distance, scattering in every
direction, and, without a moment's consultation, again appeared,
advancing rapidly from every quarter. It was evident that this plan
had been preconcerted among them; and had all fired, instead of Joe
only, they might easily have scaled the palisade before the guns could
have been reloaded. Neither had the besiegers been aware of the
strength of the garrison. But they were soon made to understand that
they had more than Glenn and his man to contend against. The
discharges followed in such quick succession that they paused, when
but a moment more would have placed them within the inclosure. But
several of them being wounded, and Boone and Glenn still doing
execution with their pistols, the discomfited enemy made a precipitate
retreat. An occasional flight of arrows continued to assail the
besieged, but they came from a great distance, for the Indians were
not long in scampering beyond the range of the loopholes.
When Glenn could no longer see any of the dark forms of the enemy, he
turned round to contemplate the sad condition of Joe. Joe was sitting
up, with his hands locked round his knees.
"Well, split me in two!" cried Sneak, staring at his companion.
"What's the matter, Sneak?" asked Joe, with much simplicity.
"That's a purty question for _you_ to ask, after there for dead this
"Have the Indians been here?" asked Joe, staring round wildly.
"Hain't you heard us shooting?"
"My goodness," cried Joe, springing up. "Oh! am I wounded? say!" he
continued, evincing the most lively alarm.
"Well, if this don't beat every thing that ever I saw in all my life,
I wish I may be shot!" said Sneak.
"What is it?" asked Joe, his senses yet wandering.
"Jest feel the back of your head," said Sneak. Joe put his hand to the
place indicated, and winced under the pain of the touch. He then
looked at his hand, and beholding a quantity of clotted blood upon it,
fell down suddenly on the snow.
"What's the matter now?" asked Glenn, who had seen his man sitting up,
and came swiftly to him when he fell.
"I'm a dead man!" said Joe, mournfully.
"That's a lie!" said Sneak.
"What ails you, Joe?" asked Glenn, his tone much softened.
"I'm dying--oh! I'm shot through the head!"
"Don't believe him, Mr. Glenn--I'll be smashed if its any thing but my
tooth," said Sneak.
"Oh--I'm dying!" continued Joe, pressing his hand against his head,
while the pain and loss of blood actually produced a faintness, and
his voice became very weak.
"Are you really much hurt?" continued Glenn, stooping down, and
feeling his pulse.
"It's all over!" muttered Joe. "I'm going fast. Sancte Petre!--Pater
noster, qui es in coelis, sanctificeter nomen tuum; adveniat regnum
Here Joe's voice failed, and, falling into a syncope, Glenn and Sneak
lifted him up and carried him into the house.
"Is he shot?" exclaimed Mary, instantly producing some lint and
bandages which she had prepared in anticipation of such an event.
"I fear he has received a serious hurt," said Glenn, aiding Mary, who
had proceeded at once to bind up the wound.
"I'll be split if he's shot!" said Sneak, going out and returning to
his post. Glenn did likewise when he saw the first indications of
returning consciousness in his man; and Mary was left alone to restore
and nurse poor Joe. But he could not have been in better hands.
"I should like to know something about them curious words the feller
was speaking when he keeled over," said Sneak, as he looked out at the
now quiet scene from the loophole, and mused over the events of the
night. "I begin to believe that the feller's a going to die. I don't
believe any man could talk so, if he wasn't dying."
"Have you seen any of them lately?" inquired Boone, coming to Sneak's
post and running his eye along the horizon through the loophole.
"Not a one," replied Sneak, "except that feller laying out yander by
"He's dead," said Boone, "and he is the only one that we are sure of
having killed to-night. But many are wounded."
"And smash me if Joe didn't kill that one when his musket went off
before he was ready," said Sneak.
"Yes, I saw him fall when Joe fired; and that accident was, after all,
a fortunate thing for us," continued Boone.
"But I'm sorry for poor Joe," said Sneak.
"Pshaw!" said Boone; "he'll be well again, in an hour."
"No, he's a gone chicken."
"Why do you think so?"
"Didn't he say so himself? and didn't he gabble out a whole parcel of
purgatory talk? He's as sure gone as a stuck pig, I tell you,"
"He will eat as hearty a breakfast to-morrow morning as ever he did in
his life," said Boone. "But let us attend to the business in hand. I
hardly think we will be annoyed any more from this quarter, unless
yonder dead Indian was a chief, and then it is more than probable they
will try to steal him away. However, you may remain here. I, alone,
can manage the others."
"Which others?" inquired Sneak.
"Those under the snow," replied Boone; "they are now within twenty
paces of the palisade."
"You don't say so?" said Sneak, cocking his gun.
"I have been listening to them cutting through the snow a long while,
and it will be a half hour yet before I spring the mine," said Boone.
"I hope it will kill 'em all!" said Sneak.
"Watch close, and perhaps _you_ will kill one yet from this loophole,"
said Boone, returning to his post, where the slow-match was exposed
through the palisade near the ground; and Roughgrove stood by, holding
a pistol, charged with powder only, in readiness to fire the train
when Boone should give the word of command.
Boone applied his ear to a crevice between the timbers near the earth,
where the snow had been cleared away. After remaining in this position
a few moments, he beckoned Glenn to him.
"Place your ear against this crevice," said Boone.
"It is not the Indians I hear, certainly!" remarked Glenn. The sounds
resembled the ticking of a large clock, differing only in their
greater rapidity than the strokes of seconds.
"Most certainly it is nothing else," replied Boone.
"But how do they produce such singular sounds? Is it the trampling of
feet?" continued Glenn.
"It is the sound of many tomahawks cutting a passage," replied Boone.
"But what disposition do they make of the snow, when it is cut loose."
"A portion of them dig, while the rest convey the loose snow out and
cast it down the cliff."
While the above conversation was going on, a colloquy of a different
nature transpired within the house. Joe, after recovering from his
second temporary insensibility, had sunk into a gentle doze, which
lasted many minutes. Mary had bathed his face repeatedly with sundry
restoratives, and likewise administered a cordial that she had brought
from her father's house, which seemed to have a most astonishing
somniferous effect. When the contents of the bottle were exhausted,
she sat silently by, watching Joe's apparent slumber, and felt
rejoiced that her patient promised a speedy recovery. Once, after she
had been gazing at the fawn, (that had been suffered to occupy a place
near the wall, where it was now coiled up and sleeping,) on turning
her eyes towards the face of Joe, she imagined for a moment that she
saw him close his eyelids quickly. But calling him softly and
receiving no answer, she concluded it was a mere fancy, and again
resigned herself to her lonely watch. When she had been sitting thus
some minutes, watching him patiently, she observed his eyes open
slowly, and quickly smack to again, when he found that she was looking
at him. But a moment after, conscious that his wakefulness was
discovered, he opened them boldly, and found himself possessed of a
full recollection of all the incidents of the night up to his
"Have they whipt all the Indians away that were standing out on the
snow, Miss Mary?"
"Yes, long ago--and none have been seen, but the one you killed, for
some time," she replied, encouragingly.
"Did I kill one sure enough?" asked Joe, while his eyes sparkled
"Yes, indeed," replied she; "and I heard Mr. Boone say he was glad it
happened, and that the accident was, after all, a fortunate thing for
"_Accident_!" iterated Joe; "who says it was an accident?"
"Wasn't it an accident?" asked the simple girl.
"No, indeed!" replied Joe. "But," he continued, "have they blown up
the other Indians yet?"
"Not yet--but I heard them say they would do it very soon. They can be
heard digging under the snow now, very plainly," said Mary.
"Indeed!" said Joe, with no little terror depicted in his face. "I
wish you'd go and ask Mr. Boone if he thinks you'll be entirely safe,
if you please, Miss Mary," said Joe beseechingly.
"I will," responded Mary, rising to depart.
"And if they ask how I am," continued Joe, "please say I am a great
deal better, but too weak yet to go out."
Mary did his bidding; and when she returned, what was her astonishment
to find her patient running briskly across the room from the cupboard,
with a whole roasted prairie-hen in one hand, or at least the body of
it, while he tore away the breast with his teeth, and some half dozen
crackers in the other! In vain did he attempt to conceal them under
the covering of his bed, into which he jumped as quickly as possible.
Guilt was manifest in his averted look, his trembling hand, and his
greasy mouth! Mary gazed in silent wonder. Joe cowered under her
glance a few moments, until the irresistible flavour of the fowl
overcame him, and then his jaws were again set in motion.
"I fear that eating will injure you," remarked Mary, at length.
"Never fear," replied Joe. "When a sick person has a good appetite,
it's a sure sign he's getting better."
"If you think so you can eat as much as you please," said Mary; "and
you needn't hide any thing from me."
Joe felt a degree of shame in being so palpably detected, but his
appetite soon got the better of his scruples, and he gratified the
demands of his stomach without reserve.
"But what did Mr. Boone say?" asked he, peeping out.
"He says he thinks there is no danger. But the Indians are now within
a few feet of the palisade, and the explosion is about to take place."
Sneak skills a sow that "was not all a swine"--The breathless
suspense--The match in readiness--Joe's cool demeanour--The match
ignited--Explosion of the mine--Defeat of the savages--The
captive--His liberation--The repose--The kitten--Morning.
"Don't you think I know who you are, and what you're after?" said
Sneak, as he observed a large black sow, or what seemed to be one,
rambling about on the snow within a hundred paces of him. "If that
ain't _my_ sow! She's gone, that's dead sure; and if I don't pepper
the red rascal that killed her I wish I may be split. That Indian 'll
find I'm not such a fool as he took me for. Just wait till he gits
close enough. I ain't to be deceived by my own sow's dead skin, with a
great big Osage in it, nohow you can fix it." Sneak's conjecture was
right. The Indian that Joe had killed was a chief, and the apparent
sow was nothing more than a savage enveloped in a swine's skin. The
Indian, after reconnoitering the premises with some deliberation,
evidently believed that his stratagem was successful, and at length
moved in the direction of his dead comrade, with the manifest
intention of bearing the body away.
"I'll let you have it now!" said Sneak, firing his rifle, when the
seeming sow began to drag the fallen chief from the field. The
discharge took effect; the savage sprang upright and endeavoured to
retreat in the manner that nature designed him to run; but he did not
go more than a dozen paces before he sank down and expired.
"That's tit for tat, for killing my sow," said Sneak, gazing at his
"Come here, Sneak," said Boone, from the opposite side of the
"There was but one, and I fixed him," said Sneak, when they asked him
how many of the enemy were in view when he fired.
"They heard the gun," said Glenn, applying his ear to the chink, and
remarking that the Indians had suddenly ceased to work under the snow.
"Be quiet," said Boone; "they will begin again in a minute or two."
"They're at it a'ready," said Sneak, a moment after, and very soon
they were heard again, more distinctly than ever, cutting away with
"Suppose the match does not burn?" observed Glenn, in tones betraying
a fearful apprehension.
"In such an event," said Boone, "we must retreat into the house, and
fasten the door without a moment's delay. But I do not much fear any
such failure, for the dampness of the snow cannot so soon have
penetrated through the dry reeds to the powder. Still we should be
prepared--therefore, as there is no necessity that more than one of us
should be here now, and as I am that man, withdraw, all of you, within
the house, and remain there until your ears and eyes shall dictate
what course to pursue." Boone's command was promptly obeyed, and when
they reached the house and looked back, (the door was kept open,) they
beheld the renowned pioneer standing erect, holding a pistol in his
right hand (which he pointed at the cotton that connected with a train
of powder running along a short plank to the reed that reached the
buried keg,) while the moon, now midway in the heavens, "and
beautifully bright," revealed the stern and determined expression of
pale brow and fixed lip. Thus he stood many minutes, and they seemed
hours to those who gazed upon the breathless scene from the house. Not
a sound was heard, save the rapid ticking of tomahawks under the snow
outside of the inclosure, or the occasional hasty remark of those who
were looking on in painful and thrilling suspense. Once Boone bowed
his head and listened an instant to the operations of the savages, and
when he rose erect again, the party looking on confidently expected he
would fire the train. But the fatal moment had not yet arrived. Still
he pointed the pistol at the combustible matter, and his eye glanced
along the barrel; but he maintained a statue-like stillness, as if
awaiting some preconcerted signal.
"Why don't he fire?" inquired Glenn, in a whisper.
"It is not quite time yet," responded Roughgrove.
"Dod! they'll crawl up presently, and jump over the fence," said
"Oh, goodness! I wish he'd shoot!" said Joe, in low, sepulchral tones,
his head thrust between Sneak's legs, whither he had crawled
unobserved, and was now peering out at the scene.
"Who are you?" exclaimed Sneak, leaping away from Joe's bandaged head,
which he did not recognize at the first glance.
"It's nobody but me," said Joe, turning his face upward, that his
friend might not suppose him an enemy.
"Well, what are you doing here? I thought you was a dying."
"I'm a good deal better, but I'm too weak to do any thing yet," said
Joe, in piteous tones, as he looked fearfully at Boone, and listened
to the strokes of the Indians without, which became louder and louder.
"Stand back a little," said Boone to those in the door-way, "that I
may enter when I fire--the match may burn more briskly than I
A passage was opened for him to enter. He pulled the trigger--the
pistol missed fire--he deliberately poured in fresh priming from his
horn, and once more taking aim, the pistol was discharged, and,
running to the house, and entering a little beyond the threshold, he
paused, and turned to behold the realization of his hopes. The light
combustible matter flashed up brightly, and the blaze ran along the
ground a moment in the direction of the end of the reed; but at the
instant when all expected to see the powder ignited, the flames seemed
to die away, and the darkness which succeeded impressed them with the
fear that the damp snow had, indeed, defeated their purpose.
"Split me if it _shan't_ go off!" cried Sneak, running out with a
torch in his hand, that he snatched from the fireplace. When he
reached the trench that had been dug along the palisade, and in which
the slow match was placed, he looked down but once, and dashing his
fire-brand behind him, sprang back to the house, with all the celerity
of which he was capable. "Dod!" said he, "it's burning yet, but we
couldn't see it from here. It'll set the powder off in less than no
"I trust it will!" said Boone, with much anxiety. And truly the crisis
had arrived, beyond which, if it were delayed a single minute, it
would be too late! The _voices_ of the Indians could now be heard, and
the sounds of the tomahawks had ceased. They were evidently on the eve
of breaking through the icy barrier, and rushing upon their victims.
Boone, with a composed but livid brow, placed his hand upon the
ponderous door, for the purpose of retreating within, and barring out
the ruthless assailants. The rest instinctively imitated his motions,
but at the same time their eyes were yet riveted on the dimly burning
match. A small flash was observed to illumine the trench--another and
a larger one succeeded! The first train of powder was ignited--the
Indians were bursting through the snow-crust with direful yells--the
blaze ran quickly along the plank--it reached the end of the reed--a
shrill whizzing sound succeeded--a sharp crash under the snow--and
then all was involved in a tremendous chaotic explosion! An enormous
circular cloud of smoke enveloped the scene for a moment, and then
could be seen tomahawks, bows, and arrows, and even _savages_, sailing
through the air. The moon was darkened for the space of several
minutes, during which time immense quantities of snow poured down from
above. The startling report seemed to rend both the earth and the
heavens, and rumbled far up and down the valley of the Missouri, like
the deep bellowing of a coruscant thunder-cloud, and died away in
successive vibrations until it finally resembled the partially
suppressed growling of an angry lion.
When the inmates of the house sallied forth, the scene was again
quiet. After clearing away the enormous masses of snow from the
palisade, they looked out from the inclosure through the loophole on
the east, and all was stillness and silence. But the view was changed.
Instead of the level and smooth surface, they now beheld a concave
formation of snow, beginning at the earth, which was laid bare where
the powder had been deposited, and widening, upward and outward, till
the ring of the extreme angle reached a height of fifteen or twenty
feet, and measured a circumference of fifty paces. But they did not
discover a single dead body. On the contrary, they soon distinguished
the sounds of the savages afar off, in fiendish and fearful yells, as
they retreated in great precipitation.
"Dod! none of 'em's killed!" exclaimed Sneak, looking about in
"Hang it all, how could they expect to kill any, without putting in
some lead?" replied Joe, standing at his elbow, and evincing no
symptoms of illness.
"What're _you_ a doing out here? You'd better go in and finish dying,"
"No, I thank you," said Joe; "my time's not come yet; and when it does
come, I'll know what to do without your instructions. I'm well now--I
never felt better in my life, only when I was eating."
"Go to the horses, Joe, and see if they have suffered any injury,"
said Glenn. "I don't believe a single Indian was killed by the
explosion," he continued, addressing Boone.
"The snow may have preserved them," replied Boone; "and yet," he
continued, "I am sure I saw some of them flying up in the air."
"I saw them too," said Glenn, "but I have known instances of the kind,
when powder-mills have blown up, where men were thrown a considerable
distance without being much injured."
"It answered our purpose, at all events," said Boone, "for now, no
inducement whatever can ever bring them back"
"If I were sure of that," replied Glenn, "I would not regret the
bloodless result of the explosion."
"You may rely upon it implicitly," said Boone; "for it was a surprise
they can never understand, and they will attach to it some
superstitious interpretation, which will most effectually prevent them
from meditating another attack"
"Goodness gracious alive!" exclaimed Joe, nimbly springing past Boone
and Glenn, and rushing into the house.
"What can be the matter with the fellow, now?" exclaimed Glenn.
"He was alarmed at something in the stable--see what it is, Sneak,"
"I've got you, have I? Dod! come out here!" exclaimed Sneak, when he
had been in the stable a few moments.
"Who are you talking to?" asked Glenn.
"A venimirous Osage smutty-face!" said Sneak, stepping out of the
stable door backwards, and dragging an Indian after him by the ears.
"What is that?" demanded Glenn, staring at the singular object before
him. The question was by no means an unnatural one, for no being in
the human shape ever seemed less like a man. The unresisting and
bewildered savage looked wildly round, displaying a face as black as
if he had just risen from the bottom of some infernal lake. His
tattered buckskin garments had shared the same fate in the explosion;
his eyebrows, and the hair of his head were singed and crisped; and,
altogether he might easily have passed for one of Pluto's scullions.
He did not make resistance when Sneak led him forth, seeming to
anticipate nothing else than an instantaneous and cruel death, and was
apparently resigned to his fate. He doubtless imagined that escape and
longer life were utterly impossible, inasmuch as, to his
comprehension, he was in the grasp of evil spirits. If he had asked
himself _how_ he came thither, it could not have occurred to him that
any other means than the agency of a supernatural power threw him into
the hands of the foe.
"I thought I saw one of them plunging through the air over the
inclosure," said Boone, smiling.
"Hanged if I didn't think so too," said Joe, who had at length
returned to gaze at the captive, when he ascertained that he was
entirely meek and inoffensive.
"Have you got over your fright already?" asked Sneak.
"What fright?" demanded Joe, with affected surprise.
"Now, _can_ you say you weren't skeered?"
"Ha! ha! ha! I believe you really thought I _was_ frightened. Why, you
dunce, you! I only ran in to tell Miss Mary about it."
"Now go to bed. Don't speak to me agin to night," said Sneak,
"I'll go and get something to eat," said Joe, retreating into the
"Tell Roughgrove to come here," said Boone, speaking to Joe.
"I will," said Joe, vanishing through the door.
When the old ferryman came out, Boone requested him (he being the most
familiar with the Osage language,) to ask the savage by what means he
was enabled to get inside of the inclosure. Roughgrove did his
bidding; and the Indian replied that the Great Spirit _threw_ him over
the palisade, because he once killed a friend of Boone's at the
cave-spring, and was now attempting to kill another.
"Why did you wish to kill us?" asked Roughgrove.
The Indian said it was because they thought Glenn had a great deal of
money, many fire weapons, and powder and bullets, which they (the
"Was it _right_ to rob the white man of these things, and then to
murder him?" continued Roughgrove.
The savage replied that the prophet (Raven) had told the war-party it
was right. Besides, they came a long and painful journey to get
(Glenn's) goods, and had suffered much with cold in digging under the
snow; several of their party had been killed and wounded, and he
thought they had a good right to every thing they could get.
"Did the whites ever go to your village to rob and murder?" inquired
the old ferryman.
The Indian assumed a proud look, and replied that they _had_. He said
that the buffalo, the bear, the deer, and the beaver--the eternal
prairies and forests--the rivers, the air and the sky, all belonged to
the red men. That the whites had not been _invited_ to come among
them, but they had intruded upon their lands, stolen their game, and
killed their warriors. Yet, he said, the Indians did not hate Boone,
and would not have attacked the premises that night, if they had known
he was there.
"Why do they not hate Boone? He has killed more of them than any one
else in this region," continued Roughgrove.
The Indian said that Boone was a great prophet, and was loved by the
"Will the war-party return hither to-night?" asked Roughgrove.
The Indian answered in the negative; and added that they would never
attack that place again, because the Great Spirit had fought against
Boone requested Roughgrove to ask what would be done with the false
prophet who had advised them to make the attack.
The savage frowned fiercely, and replied that he would be tied to a
tree, and shot through the heart a hundred times.
"What do you think we intend to do to _you_?" asked Roughgrove.
The savage said he would be skinned alive and put under the ice in the
river, or burned to death by a slow fire. He said he was ready to die.
"I'll be shot if he isn't a spunky fellow!" said Sneak.
"Do you desire such a fate?" continued the old ferry man.
"The Indian looked at him with surprise, and answered without
hesitation that he _did_--and then insisted upon being killed
"Would you attempt to injure the white man again if we were not to
The Indian smiled, but made no answer.
"I am in earnest," continued Roughgrove, "and wish to know what you
would do if we spared your life."
The Indian said such talk was only trifling, and again insisted upon
After a short consultation with Boone and Glenn, Roughgrove repeated
The savage replied that he did not believe it possible for him to
escape immediate death--but if he were not killed, he could never
think of hurting any of those, who saved him, afterwards. Yet he
stated very frankly that he would kill and rob any _other_ pale-faces
he might meet with.
"Let me blow his brains out," said Sneak, throwing his gun up to his
shoulder. The Indian understood the movement, if not the words, and
turning towards him, presented a full front, without quailing.
"He speaks the truth," said Boone; "he would never injure any of us
himself, nor permit any of his tribe to do it, so far as his influence
extended. Yet he will die rather than make a promise not to molest
others. His word may be strictly relied upon. It is not fear that
extorts the promise never to war against us--it would be his gratitude
for sparing his life. Take down your gun, Sneak. Let us decide upon
his fate. I am in favour of liberating him."
"And I," said Glenn.
"And I," said Roughgrove.
"I vote for killing him," said Sneak.
"Hanged if I don't, too," said Joe, who had been listening from the
"Spare him," said Mary, who came out, and saw what was passing.
"We have the majority, Mary," said Glenn; "and when innocence pleads,
the generous hand is stayed."
Roughgrove motioned the savage to follow, and he led him to the gate.
The prisoner did not understand what was to be done. He evidently
supposed that his captors were about to slay him, and he looked up, as
he thought, the last time, at the moon and the stars, and his lips
moved in deep and silent adoration.
Roughgrove opened the gate, and the savage followed him out,
composedly awaiting his fate. But seeing no indication of violence,
and calling to mind the many wild joys of his roving youth, and the
horrors of a sudden death, he spoke not, yet his brilliant eyes were
dimmed for a moment with tears. His deep gaze seemed to implore mercy
at the hands of his captors. He would not utter a petition that his
life might be spared, yet his breast heaved to rove free again over
the flowery prairies, to bathe in the clear waters of running streams,
to inhale the balmy air of midsummer morning, to chase the panting
deer upon the dizzy peak, and to hail once more the bright smiles of
his timid bride in the forest-shadowed glen.
"Go! thou art free!" said Roughgrove.
The Indian stared in doubt, and looked reproachfully at the guns in
the hands of his captors, as if he thought they were only mocking him
with hopes of freedom, when it was their intention to shoot him down
the moment he should think his life was truly spared.
"Go! we will not harm thee!" repeated Roughgrove.
"And take this," said Mary, placing some food in his yielding hand.
The Indian gazed upon the maiden's face. His features, by a magical
transition, now beamed with confidence and hope. Mary was in
tears--not tears of pity for his impending death, but a gush of
generous emotion that his life was spared. The savage read her
heart--he knew that the white woman never intercedes in vain, and that
no victim falls when sanctified by her tears. He clasped her hand and
pressed it to his lips; and then turning away in silence, set off in a
stately and deliberate pace towards the west. He looked not back to
see if a treacherous gun was pointed at him. He knew that the maiden
had not trifled with him. He knew that she would not mock a dying man
with bread. He neither looked back nor quickened his step. And so he
vanished from view in the valley.
"Dod! he's gone! We ought to've had his sculp!" said Sneak, betraying
"We must give it up, though--we were in the minority," said Joe,
satisfied with the decision.
"In the what?" asked Sneak.
"In the minority," said Joe.
"Let's go in the house and git something to eat," said Sneak.
"Hang me if I ain't willing to be with you there," said Joe.
The whole party entered the house to partake of a collation prepared
by the dainty hands of Mary. Mary had frequently insisted upon serving
them with refreshments during the night, but hitherto all her
persuasions had been unavailing, for the dangers that beset them on
every hand had banished all other thoughts than those of determined
[Illustration: He clasped her hand, and pressed it to his lips.--P.
Boone was so certain that nothing farther was to be apprehended from
the enemy, that he dispensed with the sentinels at the loopholes. He
relied upon Ringwood and Jowler to guard them through the remainder of
the night; and when a hearty meal was eaten he directed his gallant
little band to enjoy their wonted repose.
Ere long Mary slumbered quietly beside her father, while Boone and
Glenn occupied the remaining couch. Sneak was seated on a low stool,
near the blazing fire, and Joe sat in Glenn's large arm chair, on the
opposite side of the hearth. The fawn and the kitten were coiled close
together in the centre of the room.
Save the grinding jaws of Sneak and Joe, a death-like silence reigned.
Occasionally, when Sneak lifted his eyes from the pewter platter that
lay upon his knees, and glanced at the bandages on his companion's
head, his jaws would cease to move for a few moments, during which he
gazed in astonishment at the ravenous propensity of the invalid. But
not being inclined to converse or remonstrate, he endeavoured to get
through with his supper with as much expedition as possible, that he
might enjoy all the comforts of refreshing sleep. Yet he was often on
the eve of picking a quarrel with Joe, when he suffered a sudden
twinge from his broken tooth, while striving to tear the firmer
portion of the venison from the bone. But when he reflected upon his
peculiar participation in the occurrence which had caused him so
justly to suffer, he repressed his rising anger and proceeded with his
labour of eating.
Joe, on the other hand, discussed his savoury dish with unalloyed
satisfaction; yet he, too, paused occasionally, and fixing his eyes
upon the glaring fire, seemed plunged in the deepest thought. But he
did not glance at his companion. At these brief intervals he was
apparently reflecting upon the incidents of the night. One thing in
particular puzzled him; he could not, for the life of him, conceive
how his musket rebounded with such violence, when he was positively
certain that he had put but one charge in it, and that only a moderate
one. He was sometimes inclined to think the blow he received on the
head was dealt by Sneak; but when he reflected it would be unnatural
for one man to strike another with his _teeth_, and that Sneak had
likewise sustained a serious injury at the same time, conjectures were
entirely at fault.
"What are you a thinking about so hard?" asked Sneak.
"I'm trying to think how I got that blow on the back of my head," said
Joe, turning half abstractedly to Sneak.
"Yes, and I'd like to know how you come to mash my mouth so
dod-rottedly," said Sneak, in well-affected ill nature.
"Hang it, Sneak, you know well enough that I wouldn't do such a thing
on purpose, when I was obliged to almost knock out my own brains to do
it," said Joe, apologetically.
"If I hadn't thought of that," replied Sneak, "I don't know but I
should've shot you through when I got up."
"And I should never have blamed you for it," said Joe, "if it had been
done on purpose. Does it hurt you much now?"
"Don't you see how its bleeding?"
"That's gravy running out of your mouth, ain't it?"
"Yes, but its bloody a little," said Sneak, licking his lips.
"I shall have to sit up and sleep," said Joe; "for my head's so sore I
can't lie down."
"I'm a going to lay my head on this stool and sleep; and I'm getting
so drowsy I can't set much longer," said Sneak.
"All'll be square between us, about breaking your tooth, won't it?"
"Yes, I can't bear malice," said Sneak, shaking Joe's extended hand.
"Oh me!" said Joe, "I shan't be able to doze a bit, hardly, for trying
to study out how the old musket came to kick me so."
"I've got a notion to tell you, jest to see if you'll sleep any
"Do you know?" asked Joe, quickly; "if you do, I'll thank you with all
my heart to tell me?"
"Dod! if I don't!" said Sneak; "but all's square betwixt us?"
"Yes, if you're willing."
"Well, don't you remember when I told you to count the Indians
standing out there, I leant agin you to look over your shoulder? I
stole a cartrich out of your shot-bag then, and slipt it in the muzzle
of your musket. Don't you know it was leaning agin the post?"
Joe turned round and looked Sneak full in the face for several
moments, without uttering a word.
"When it went off," continued Sneak, "it made the tremendousest crack
I ever heard in all my life, except when the keg of powder busted."
"You confounded, blasted rascal you!" exclaimed Joe, doubling up his
fists, and preparing to assault his friend.
"Now don't go to waking up the folks!" said Sneak.
"I'll be hanged if I hain't got a great notion to wear out the iron
poker over your head!" continued Joe, his eyes gleaming with rage.
"Look at my tooth," said Sneak, grinning in such manner that the
remaining fragment of the member named could be distinctly seen. The
ludicrous expression of his features was such as constrained Joe to
smile, and his enmity vanished instantaneously.
"I believe you got the worst of the bargain, after all," said Joe,
falling back in his chair and laughing quite heartily.
"You know," continued Sneak, "I didn't mean it to turn out as bad as
it did. I jest thought it would kick you over in the snow, and not
hurt you any, hardly."
"Well, let's say no more about it," said Joe; "but when you do any
thing of that kind hereafter, pause and reflect on the consequences,
"I'll keep my mouth out of the way next time," said Sneak; "and now,
as all's square betwixt us, s'pose we agree about how we are to do
with them dead Indians. S'pose we go halves with all the things
"No, I'll be hanged if I do!" said Joe quickly. "The one I shot was a
chief, and he's sure to have some gold about him."
"Yes, but you know you'd never a killed him if it hadn't been for me."
"But if it hadn't been for you I wouldn't have got hurt," replied Joe,
"Well, I don't care much about the chief--the one I killed maybe took
all his silver and gold before I shot him. Anyhow, I know I can find
something out there in the snow where they were blowed up," said
Sneak, arranging a buffalo robe on the hearth and lying down.
"And we must hereafter let each other alone, Sneak," said Joe, "for
the fact is, we are both too much for one another in our tricks."
"I'm willing," replied Sneak, lazily, as his eyes gradually closed.
Joe placed his dish on the shelf over the fireplace, and folding his
arms, and leaning back in his great chair, likewise closed his eyes.
But a few moments sufficed to place them both in the land of dreams.
And now the silence was intense. Even the consuming logs of wood
seemed to sink by degrees into huge livid coals, without emitting the
least sparkling sound. The embers threw a dim glare over the scene,
such as Queen Mab delights in when she leads her fairy train through
the chambers of sleeping mortals. A sweet smile rested upon the lips
of Mary. A loved form flitted athwart her visions. Roughgrove's
features wore a grave but placid cast. Boone's face was as passionless
and calm as if he were a stranger to terrific strife. Perils could now
make no impression on him. There was sadness on the damp brow of
Glenn, and a tear was stealing through the corner of his lids. A scene
of woe, or the crush of cherished hopes, was passing before his
entranced vision. Sneak, ever and anon grasped the empty air, and
motioned his arm, as if in the midst of deadly conflict. And Joe,
though his bruised face betrayed not his cast of thought, still
evinced a participation in the ideal transactions of the night, by the
frequent involuntary motions of his body, and repeated endeavours to
avoid visionary dangers.
The kitten lay upon the soft neck of the fawn, and at intervals
resumed its low, humming song, which had more than once been hushed in
perfect repose. At a late hour, or rather an early one, just ere the
first faint ray of morning appeared in the distant east, puss purred
rather harshly on the silken ears of its companion, and its sharp
claws producing a stinging sensation, the fawn shook its head
violently, and threw its little bed-fellow rather rudely several feet
away. The kitten, instead of being angry, fell into a merry mood, and
began to frisk about in divers directions, first running under the
bed, then springing upon some diminutive object on the floor as it
would upon a mouse, and finally pricking again the ear of the fawn.
The fawn then rose up, and creeping gently about the room, touched the
cheeks or hands of the slumbering inmates with its velvet tongue, but
so softly that none were awakened. The kitten, no longer able to annoy
its companion by its mischievous pranks, now paced up to the fire and
commenced playing with a dangling string attached to Joe's moccasin.
Once it jumped up with such force against his foot that he jerked it
quickly several inches away. But this only diverted puss the more.
Instead of being content with the palpable demonstration thus
effected, it followed up the advantage gained by applying both its
claws and teeth to the foot. While it confined its operations to the
stout buckskin, but little impression was made; but when it came in
contact with the ankle, which was only covered with a yarn stocking,
the result was entirely different.
"Ugh! Confound the fire!" exclaimed Joe, giving a tremendous kick,
which dashed puss most violently into Sneak's face.
"Hey! Dod! What is it?" cried Sneak, tearing the kitten (whose briery
nails had penetrated the skin of his nose) away, and throwing it
across the room. "I say! did you do that?" continued Sneak, wiping the
blood from his nose with his sleeve, and addressing Joe, who kept his
eyes fast closed, though almost bursting with suppressed laughter, and
pretending to be steeped in earnest slumber. "I won't stand this!"
said Sneak, smarting with his wounds, and striking the chair in which
Joe sat with his foot. "Now," continued Sneak, "if you done that, jest
say so, that's all."
"Did what?" asked Joe, opening his eyes suddenly.
"Why, throwed that ere pestiverous cat on me!" said Sneak.
"No. Goodness! is there a pole-cat in here?" exclaimed Joe, in such
well-counterfeited tones of anxiety and alarm, that the real encounter
occurring to Sneak, and his pain being now somewhat abated, he gave
vent to a hearty fit of laughter, which awoke every person in the
The lead removed--The wolves on the river--The wolf hunt--Gum
fetid--Joe's incredulity--His conviction--His surprise--His
predicament--His narrow escape.
When Sneak opened the door, the sun had risen and was shining
brightly. In a moment the inmates of the house were stirring. The
horses neighed in the stable for their accustomed food and water, and
when Joe hastened to them, he embraced the neck of each, in testimony
of his joy that they were once more saved from the hands of the
Indians. The hounds pranced round Boone and Glenn, manifesting their
delight in being relieved of the presence of the enemy. The gate was
thrown open, and the scene of the explosion minutely examined.
Fortunately the channel cut under the snow by the savages ran a few
feet apart from the powder, or the whole of them must inevitably have
perished. As it was, not a single one lost his life, though many were
blown up in the air to a considerable height. Joe and Sneak found only
a few spears, knives, and tomahawks, that had been abandoned by the
savages; and then they repaired to the west side of the inclosure,
where the two dead Indians were still lying. They had scarce commenced
searching their victims for booty, when a solitary Indian was seen
approaching from the upper valley.
"We hain't got our guns!" exclaimed Sneak, pulling out his knife.
"I'll get mine!" cried Joe, running away with all his might.
"What's the matter?" inquired Boone, smiling, who had also seen the
approaching Indian, and was walking to where the dead savages lay,
accompanied by Glenn and Roughgrove, when he met Joe running swiftly
towards the house.
[Illustration: They had scarce commenced searching their victims for
booty, when a solitary Indian was seen approaching from the upper
"Hang me, if the Indians ain't coming back again," replied Joe.
"There is but one, and he has a white flag," said Boone, who had
discovered a small rag attached to a pole borne by the Indian.
"What can he want?" inquired Glenn.
"He wants permission to bury the dead," replied Roughgrove.
"He's the very rascal we let loose last night," said Sneak.
This was true. Although the singed savage had removed some of the
black marks produced by the explosion, yet so many palpable traces of
that event were still exhibited on his person, there could be no doubt
of his identity.
The Indian came for the purpose mentioned by Roughgrove, and his
request was granted. He made a sign to a comrade he had left some
distance behind, who, in a very few minutes, was seen to approach in a
hasty though timorous pace.
"Don't go to shooting out here!" exclaimed Sneak, hearing a clicking
sound, and the next moment observing Joe pointing his musket through
the loophole nearly in a line with the spot where he stood.
"Come in! come in! come in!" cried Joe.
"Put your gun away, and be silent," said Glenn.
"I'll be silent," replied Joe, "but I'd rather stand here and watch
awhile. If they ain't going to hurt any of us, it'll do no harm; and
if they _do_ try to kill any of you, it may do some good."
When the second Indian arrived, he seized the body of the savage
enveloped in the swine-skin, (knowing that permission to do so had
been obtained by his comrade,) and bore him away with great
expedition, manifesting no inclination whatever to tarry at a place
which had been so fatal to his brethren. But the other had every
confidence in the mercy of the whites, and lingered some length of
time, gazing at the corpse before him, as if hesitating whether to
bear it away.
"Why do you not take him up?" inquired Roughgrove.
The Indian said it was the false prophet Raven, and that he hardly
deserved to be buried.
Sneak turned the dead Indian over, (he had been lying on his face,)
and he was instantly recognized by the whole party.
"I'm glad its him," said Sneak.
"I think we will have peace now," said Boone, "for Raven has ever been
the most blood-thirsty chief of the tribe."
"Where is the war-party encamped? When do they return to their own
country?" asked Roughgrove.
The Indian replied that they were encamped in a small grove on the
border of the prairie, where they intended to bury their brothers, and
then it was their intention to set out immediately for their villages.
He added that one of their tribe, whom they had left at home, arrived
that morning with intelligence that a war-party of Pawnees had invaded
their territories, and it was necessary for them to hasten back with
all possible dispatch to defend their wives and children.
Glenn asked Boone how the Indians managed to sleep in the cold
prairie; and, Roughgrove repeating the inquiry to the savage, they
were informed that the war-party carried with them a long but very
light sled, in the shape of a canoe, to which was tied a rope made of
buckskins, by which they pulled it along on the snow with great
swiftness. This kept them warm with exercise through the day. A
quantity of furs and buffalo skins were packed in the canoe that
served to keep them warm at night.
"Mr. Roughgrove! Mr. Roughgrove!" cried Joe, from his loophole.
"What do you want with me?" responded the old man.
"Why, Miss Mary's gone down to your house to see if the Indians have
been there, and they may be there now, perhaps."
"There's no danger now, you blockhead," replied Roughgrove.
"Keep your mouth shet!" said Sneak.
"Your mouth's mashed--recollect who did it," retorted Joe.
The savage at length lifted up the dead body, and set off at a brisk
pace towards the prairie. The party then returned to the house and
partook of a plenteous repast that had been provided by Mary.
When the breakfast was over, they repaired to the cliff, to examine
the place where the Indians had first penetrated the snow. They had
commenced operations at the very brow of the cliff, on a shelving
rock, to attain which, without being seen from the garrison, they must
have crawled on their hands and knees a considerable distance. Below
could be seen an immense heap of snow, which had been thrown down from
the place of entrance, just as Boone had described.
"Jest look yander!" cried Sneak, pointing up the river. The scene was
a remarkable one. They beheld a very small deer (the lightness of
which enabled it to run on the snow that covered the ice with great
fleetness, without breaking through the crust,) chased about on the
river by a pack of wolves! These hungry animals had evidently been
racing after it a great length of time, from the distressed appearance
of the poor victim, and, having driven it upon the ice, they seemed
resolved to prevent it from ever again entering the thickets. The plan
they adopted was systematic, and worthy the imitation of biped
hunters. They dispersed in various directions, and formed themselves
in a circle of about a half mile in diameter, hemming the deer in on
all sides, while only one or two of their number at a time chased it.
Round and round it ran; and though its pursuers were left far in the
rear, yet it remained entirely surrounded by the enemy. Occasionally,
when a chasing wolf became exhausted, one of the guards (abandoning
his post) would enter the ring, and, not being fatigued, was able to
carry on the pursuit with redoubled vigour. Thus the chase was kept up
with increasing fierceness by means of a succession of fresh wolves,
until the poor deer finally sank down and surrendered its life. The
voracious pack then rushed from their stations indiscriminately, and
coming in contact immediately over their prey, a most frightful
contest ensued among them. Horrific yells and screams could be heard
by the men as they looked on from their distant position. At times the
wolves were so closely jumbled together that nothing could be
distinguished but one black, heaving, and echoing mass. But the
struggle was soon over. In a very few moments, they became quiet, and
started off in a comparatively peaceful manner towards the island,
whence their prize had been driven, in quest of others. When they
abandoned the spot where their victim had fallen, not so much as a
"That's making a clean business of it!" said Sneak.
"Its no such thing!" said Joe; "it's a nasty trick to swallow hide,
bones, and bowels, in that manner."
"Its clean for wolves," said Sneak.
"Oh, may be you're part wolf," said Joe.
"Now, none of your gab, or I'll play some other trick on you, worse
than that at the spring."
"You be hanged," retorted Joe; "I'll give you leave to do it when you
get a chance the next time."
"It is a great pity that the deer are subject to such destruction,"
"The wolves we saw are all on yonder island," said Boone, "and if you
are disposed to have a hunt, I have no doubt we might kill some of
"We are entirely dependent upon the deer for animal food," said
Roughgrove; "and if we could only surround that party of wolves as
they did the deer, we might do the settlement much good service."
"I go in for it," said Sneak.
"I'd rather wait a day or two, till the Indians have gone clean off,"
"There is nothing to fear from them now," said Boone, "unless
something they might steal should fall in their way. But it will not
require an hour to rout the wolves on the little island."
"Then let us hasten and get our guns, and be upon them before they
leave it," said Glenn.
They returned to the house, and were all soon equipped for the
onslaught, except Joe, who made no preparation whatever.
"Get ready, Joe," said Glenn; "your redoubtable musket will do good
"I'd rather not," said Joe; "I'm hardly well enough to walk so far.
I'll take care of Miss Mary. I wonder what's become of her? Mr.
Roughgrove, Miss Mary hasn't come back yet!"
"Yes she has," replied the old ferryman; "I saw her bring this frozen
flower up, while we were standing on the cliff, and she has only
returned for the other pots, I hear her singing down the valley now,"
he added, after stepping to the gate and listening a moment.
"Have you any gum fetid?" asked Boone, addressing Glenn.
"I've got lots of it," interposed Joe, "that I brought along for the
horses, because an old man at St. Louis told me they would never die
so long as I kept a lump of it in the rack."
"What use do you make of it?" asked Glenn.
"The scent of it will at any time collect the wolves," said Boone,
directing Joe to bring it along.
The party set out at a brisk pace, Joe with the rest, for it was
necessary to station the men at as many points as possible. Boone,
Roughgrove, and Glenn, when they reached the upper valley, descended
to the river, while Sneak and Joe were directed to station themselves
on the main-land opposite the upper and lower ends of the island. The
party of three advanced towards the island on the ice, and Sneak and
Joe pursued their way in a parallel direction through the narrow skirt
of woods that bordered the range of bluffs.
Ere long the two on land descended from their high position and
entered a densely-timbered bottom, the upper part of which (a half
mile distant) was only separated from the island by a very narrow
Here, for the first time that day, the thought that the island he was
approaching was the haunted one of Glenn's dream occurred to Joe, and
he paused suddenly.
"What are you stopping for?" asked Sneak.
"Because"--Joe hesitated, positively ashamed to tell the reason; and
after a moment's reflection he was impressed with a thorough
conviction that his apprehensions and scruples were ridiculous.
"Don't you hear me?" continued Sneak.
"I was thinking about going back for the dogs," said Joe.
"Yes, and they would be torn to bits in a little less than no time,"
"Come on, then," said Joe, setting forward again, and dismissing all
fears of the fire-wizard from his mind.
"Let me see how much asafoetida you've got," said Sneak, after they
had walked a few moments in silence.
"Here it is," said Joe, unwrapping a paper containing several ounces;
"but hang me, if that ain't rather too strong a joke of Mr. Boone's
about its collecting the wolves. I can't believe that."
"Did you ever hear of Mr. Boone's telling a lie?" asked Sneak.
"No, I never did, and that's a fact," said Joe; "but I'm afraid he's
got into a scrape this time--Jingo! look yonder!" he continued,
throwing his musket up to his face, and pointing it at a very large
black wolf that stood in the path before them.
"Don't shoot! I put two loads in your gun," cried Sneak, hastily.
"Confound your long-necked gourd-head, I say!" said Joe, throwing down
the muzzle of his musket in an instant, and the next moment the wolf
disappeared among the tall bushes. "Why, hang me, if you didn't tell a
lie!" continued Joe, running down his ramrod.
"Don't I know it?" replied Sneak. "I jest said so to keep you from
shooting; becaise if you had shot, you'd 'ave skeered all the other
wolves away, and we wouldn't 'ave killed any."
"It's well you didn't put in another cartridge," said Joe, "for I wish
I may be smashed if I stand this kicking business any longer."
"Now, I guess you'll believe there's something in the asafoetida,
after all! and the wolves'll come all round you and won't go off for
shooting at 'em, if you'll only rub it on the soles of your boots."
"I'll try it!" said Joe, suiting the action to the word, and then
striding onward, and looking in every direction for the wolves.
"You'll have to tree, if they come too thick."
"Pshaw!" replied Joe, "you can't scare me in that way. I don't believe
a hat full of it would make them stand and be shot at."
They were now opposite the island. Joe selected a position even with
the upper end of it, and Sneak remained below. Boone, after stationing
Roughgrove and Glenn to the best advantage, walked out to the
main-land, and taking some of the gum fetid in Joe's possession,
returned to the island; and, ere long, he, Roughgrove, and Glenn were
heard discharging their guns with great rapidity, and the cries of the
wolves attested that they were labouring with effect. But none of the
beleaguered animals had yet retreated from the scene of destruction.
On the contrary, several were seen to run across from the main-land
and join those on the island. Presently Sneak commenced a brisk fire.
There seemed to be a whole army of wolves congregated in the vicinity.
Joe at first laughed, and then became confused and puzzled. He
anxiously desired to make the roar of his musket join the melee; but
at times he thought the ravenous enemy rather too numerous for him to
be in perfect safety. The firing on the island continued without
abatement. Sneak's gun was likewise still heard at regular intervals,
and what seemed an extraordinary matter to Joe was that Sneak should
yell out something or other about the "asafoetida," and "moccasin
tracks," after every discharge. Joe was not long idle. He soon saw a
huge black wolf trotting along the little deer path he had just
traversed, with its nose down to the ground. A moment after, another,
and then a third, were seen pursuing the same course, some distance
behind. Joe became uneasy. His first impulse was to scamper over to
the island: but, when he thought of the jeers and jests that would
ensue from Sneak, he resolved to stand his ground. When the foremost
wolf had approached within thirty paces of him, he leveled his musket
and fired. The wolf uttered a fierce howl and expired.
"Hang me, if I haven't floored you, any how," said he, exultingly, as
he proceeded to reload his gun with as much expedition as possible.
But the other wolves, so far from being alarmed at the fate of their
comrade, seemed to quicken their pace towards the position of Joe.
"Slash me, if there ain't too many of them!" ejaculated Joe, as he
perceived several others, and all advancing upon him. "I'll settle
your hash, by jing!" he continued, firing at the foremost one, which
was not twenty paces distant. The leaden contents of the musket
entered its breast, and it fell dead without a growl. Still the others
advanced. Joe had no time to charge his gun again.
"I'll make tracks!" said he, starting toward the frozen channel that
separated him from the island. But he had not gone ten paces before he
discovered two enormous wolves approaching from _that_ direction.
"I'll cut dirt back again!" he continued, whirling suddenly around,
and rushing back to his stand, where he stood not a moment, but sprang
up in a tree, and after attaining a large limb that put out from the
trunk, some fifteen feet above the snow, paused, and pantingly
surveyed his assailants. There were now no less than twenty wolves in
sight, and several were at the root of the tree yelping at him! "I'll
be hanged if I half like this," said he. "Snap me, if I don't begin to
believe that the asafoetida does charm them, after all. Confound
Sneak! he's always getting me into some hobble or other! Now, if it
wasn't for this tree, I'd be in a nice fix. Hang it! all the wolves in
the world are broke loose to-day, surely--where the mischief could
they all have come from? Just hear the men, how they are shooting! And
they are killing the wild black dogs every crack--but still they won't
back out! I'll blaze away at 'em again!" Saying this, he reloaded his
musket as quickly as his peculiar position would allow, and, for the
purpose of ridding himself as soon as possible of his disagreeable
visitors, he poured in an additional charge of buckshot. "Now," he
continued, "what if the gun should fly out of my hands? I'd be in a
pretty condition then! I wouldn't mind the kick at all, if I was only
on dry land--but if the gun should kick me over here, I'd tumble right
down into their mouths! I wish I'd thought of that before I rammed
down the wadding. I haven't got my screw along, or I might draw out
the load again. I'll not shoot at all. I'll just watch till somebody
comes and scares them away. Ugh! you black rascal! what're you staring
up here for?" he continued, looking down at the largest wolf, which
was standing upright against the tree, and tearing the bark away
furiously with his long teeth. The number of Joe's enemies continued
to increase. There were now perhaps twenty under the tree. And still
the firing on the island was kept up, though not so incessantly as at
first, which inspired Joe with a hope that they would either kill all
the wolves in their vicinity very soon or force them to join his flock
under the tree, when the men would surely come to his relief. Sneak's
fire abated somewhat, likewise, and Joe's reliance upon having their
aid in a very short time caused his fears to subside in a great
"If you're so crazy after asafoetida," said he, looking down at the
fiercely staring animals again, "I'll give you a taste, just to see
what you'll do." He took a small portion of the gum which he had
retained, and rubbed it over a piece of paper that he found in his
pocket. He then dropped the paper in their midst. They sprang upon it
simultaneously, and in an instant it vanished, Joe knew not whither.
"Hang me, if I couldn't pepper a half-dozen at a shot when they all
rush up together so close, if I wasn't afraid of being kicked down.
I'll be teetotally smashed if I don't fix and try it, any how!" said
he, pulling out a strong leather string from his pocket, one end of
which he attached firmly to a small limb of the tree, and the other he
tied as tightly round the wrist of his left arm. He then pulled out
his bandanna, and likewise made his musket fast to a bough. "Now, my
snapping beauties," he continued, "I'm mistaken if I don't give you a
dose of blue pills that'll do your business in short order." Saying
this, he tore off another piece of paper, and rubbing on the gum,
dropped it down as near as possible to the spot where he wished the
wolves to cluster together. No sooner did it fall than the whole gang
sprang upon it, and he fired with precision in their midst. Joe did
not look to see what execution was done. He was dangling in the air
and whirling round and round at a rapid rate, like a malefactor
suspended from the gallows, with the exception that his neck did not
suffer, and he cried out most lustily for assistance. When the cloud
of smoke that enveloped him cleared away a little, and he became
better acquainted with his critical situation, his yells increased in
rapidity and violence. His condition was truly perilous. The small
bough to which he had attached himself had not sufficient strength to
bear him up when his feet slipped from the larger one below, and it
was now bent down a considerable distance, and that too in a divergent
direction from his recent foothold, and unfortunately there was no
limb of the tree of any strength within his reach. His legs hung
within six feet of the surface of the snow. The discharge had killed
four or five of the wolves, but, undismayed, the remainder assailed
him the more furiously. The most active of them could easily spring as
far up as his feet! Never was terror more strongly depicted in the
human face than it was displayed in Joe's when he saw the whole pack
rushing towards him! They sprang up with fearful snarls and yells. Joe
yelled likewise, and doubled his knees up to his chin. They missed his
feet by several inches, and were borne out fifteen or twenty feet to
one side by the impetus of the leap. It was by a mighty effort that he
thus avoided them, and no sooner had they passed under him than his
legs again dangled downward. In a moment they whirled round and were
again rushing at their victim. Once more Joe screamed, and drew up his
legs while they passed under him. "Help! help! for God's sake!" cried
he, when they whirled round again. His cry was heard. Several sharp
reports resounded from the river bank, a few paces on the east. Three
or four of the wolves howled and fell. The rest hesitated, their eyes
glistening, and fixed on Joe's suspended boots. "Come quick! for
Heaven's sake! I can't pull up my legs any more!" cried Joe. This was
true, for his strength was fast failing. The guns were again
discharged with deadly effect, and all but one of the largest of the
wolves precipitately ran off, and disappeared among the bushes.
"Jerk up your leg! that feller's a going to take one of your feet
along with him, if he kin!" cried Sneak. Joe saw the wolf charging
upon him, but he was altogether unable to avoid it in the manner he
had done before. It was now only a few feet distant, its mouth open,
displaying a frightful set of teeth, and springing towards him.
Finding it impossible to prevent a collision, Joe resolved to sell his
foot as dearly as possible. As much as he was able, he bent up his
knee-joints, and when his assailant came, he bestowed his heels upon
his head with all his might. The wolf was stunned, and fell under the
"Take that!" cried Sneak, running up and plunging his knife into the
animal's side. The wolf groaned and died.
"Ha! ha! ha! you were born to be hanged," said Roughgrove, coming
forward with Boone and Glenn, and laughing heartily.
"He has been hung," said Boone.
"And almost quartered," said Glenn.
[Illustration: They sprang up with fearful snarls and yells. Joe
yelled likewise, and doubled his knees up to his chin.--P. 136]
"Oh, goodness! Jump up here, Sneak, and cut me loose," said Joe,
"There's no danger of you ever dying," said Sneak.
"Oh, please don't laugh at me, Sneak, but cut me down; that's a good
fellow. The string is beginning to cut my wrist like fury!"
"How did you git in such a fix?" continued Sneak.
"Oh, hang it, Sneak, just get me out of the fix, and I'll tell you all
"It's hung _now_--didn't you say 'hang it, Sneak?'" continued Sneak.
"Oh, come, now," continued Joe; "if you were in this way, don't you
think I'd help you?"
"Cut him down, Sneak," said Boone; and in a twinkling Sneak was up in
the tree, and the string was severed. Joe came down with great force,
his feet foremost, and running through the snow-crust to a great
"I wish some of you would help me out of this," said he, after
struggling some time in vain to extricate himself.
"You'll want me to carry you home next, I s'pose," said Sneak,
assisting him up. Joe made no reply; but as soon as he could cut the
string away from his wrist, seized Sneak by the throat, hurled him on
his back, and springing upon him, a violent struggle ensued for a few
moments before they could be separated.
"What do you mean?" exclaimed Glenn, dragging Joe away from his
"What did you do that for?" asked Sneak, rising up and brushing the
snow from his head and face, his fall having broken the icy surface.
"You rascal, you! I'll show you what for!" cried Joe, endeavouring to
get at him again.
"Joe!" said Glenn, "if you attempt any further violence, you shall not
remain another day under my roof!"
"He boxed my ear like thunder!" said Sneak; "I didn't think the fellow
had so much pluck in him! I like him better now than ever I did. Give
us your paw, Joe." Joe shook hands with him reluctantly, and then
wiped a flood of tears from his face.
"He told me to put some asafetida on my hoots, and said I could then
kill more wolves," said Joe; "and it came within an ace of making them
"It was very wrong to do so, Sneak," said Boone, "and the boxing you
got for it was not amiss."
"I believe I think so myself," said Sneak. "But it did make him kill
more wolves after all--jest look at 'em all around here!"
Joe soon recovered entirely from the effects of his swing, his fright,
and his anger, and looked with something like satisfaction on his many
trophies lying round him; and when he disengaged his musket from the
bough of the tree, he regarded it with affection.
They moved homeward, entirely content with the result of the
excursion. Boone explained the reason why so many of the wolves were
congregated about the island. He stated that the vines and bushes on
which the deer feed in the winter were abundant and nutritious in the
low lands along the river, and that great numbers of them repaired
thither at that season of the year. The wolves of course followed
them, and having now destroyed all the large deer in the vicinity of
the island, and the small ones being enabled to run on the snow-crust,
they found it necessary to muster in the chase as great a number as
possible, and thus prevent their prey from escaping to the prairies.
He said that the wolves preferred the timber, being enabled to make
more comfortable lairs and dens among the fallen trees than out in the
cold prairies. But their guns had wrought a fearful destruction among
them. Perhaps three-fourths of them fell.
The party soon reached Glenn's house. As they entered the inclosure,
they were surprised to see Ringwood running wildly about, whining and
snarling and tearing the snow to pieces with his teeth. Jowler was
more composed, but a low, mournful whine issued continuously from his
"Dod! what's the dogs been after?" ejaculated Sneak.
"Go in, Joe, and ask Mary what it means," said Rough grove.
"I'd rather not--the house may be full of Indians," replied Joe,
relapsing into his natural cowardice.
"Mary," said Roughgrove, approaching the door and calling
affectionately. Receiving no reply, the old man entered and called
again. A silence succeeded. Roughgrove reappeared a moment after, with
a changed countenance. Boone gazed at his pale features, and asked the
cause of his distress by a look, not a word.
"She's gone! gone! gone!" exclaimed Roughgrove, covering his face with
Boone made no answer, but turning his face in the direction of the
southern valley, he called upon the name of Mary three times, in clear
and loud tones. He listened for her reply, in a motionless attitude,
several minutes. But no reply came. Now a change came over _his_
features. It was a ferocity from which even the blood-thirsty savages
would have fled in horror!
"My eternal curse upon them! They have seized her! I have been
deceived! I will have vengeance!" said he, in a low, determined tone.
"Will they kill her, or keep her for a ransom?" inquired Glenn, in
extreme and painful excitement.
"A ransom," said Boone; "but they shall pay the weight of the silver
they demand in blood!"
"May Heaven guard her!" said Roughgrove, in piteous agony.
"Cheer up--we will get her again," said Boone; and then giving some