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pipeful of tobacco in his pouch, was a with an Indian mocassin in his hand, happy man. Starvation was as yet and informed his companions that its far off, for all their animals were in late owner and others were about. existence; but as they were in a country " Do 'ee hyar now, boys, thar's where it was difficult to procure a re- Injuns knocking round, and Blackfoot mount, each trapper hesitated to sac- at that; but thar's plenty of beaver rifice one of his horses to his appetite. too, and this child means trapping
From the summit of the ridge, Bill any how." recognised the country on the opposite His companions were anxious to side to that whence they had just leave such dangerous vicinity; but ascended as familiar to him, and the old fellow, contrary to his usual pronounced it to be full of beaver, as caution, determined to remain where well as abounding in the less desir- he was-saying that there were Inable commodity of Indians. This dians all over the country for that was the valley lying about the lakes matter; and as they had determined now called Eustis and Biddle, in to hunt here, he had made up his which are many thermal and mineral mind too—which was conclusive, and springs, well known to the trappers all agreed to stop where they were, in by the names of the Soda, Beer, and spite of the Indians. La Bonté killed Brimstone Springs, and regarded by a couple of mountain sheep close to them with no little awe and curiosity, camp, and they feasted rarely on the as being the breathing places of his fat mutton that night, and were unmoSatanic majesty-considered, more- lested by marauding Blackfeet. over, to be the biggest kind "of“me The next morning, leaving two of dicine" to be found in the mountains. their number in camp, they started in If truth be told, old Bill hardly relish- parties of two, to hunt for beaver sign ed the idea of entering this country, and set their traps. Markhead paired which he pronounced to be of " bad with one Batiste, Killbuck and La medicine" notoriety, but nevertheless Bonté formed another couple, Meek agreed to guide them to the best trap- and Marcelline another ; two Canaping ground.
dians trapped together, and Bill WilOne day they reached a creek full liams and another remained to guard of beaver sign, and determined to halt the camp: but this last, leaving Bill here and establish their headquarters, mending his mocassins, started off to while they trapped in the neighbour- kill a mountain sheep, a band of hood. We must here observe, that which animals was visible. at this period—which was one of con- Markhead and his companion, the siderable rivalry amongst the various first couple on the list, followed a trading companies in the Indian creek, which entered that on which country-the Indians, having become they had encamped, about ten miles possessed of arms and ammunition in distant. Beaver sign was abundant, great quantities, had grown unusually and they had set eight traps, when daring and persevering in their attacks Markhead came suddenly upon fresh on the white hunters who passed Indian sign, where squaws had passed through their country, and conse- through the shrubbery on the banks quently the trappers were compelled of the stream to procure water, as he to roam about in larger bands for knew from observing a large stone mutual protection, which, although it placed by them in the stream, on made them less liable to open attack, which to stand to enable them to dip yet rendered it more difficult for them their kettles in the deepest water. to pursue their calling without being Beckoning to his companion to follow, discovered ; for, where one or two men and cocking his rifle, he carefully might pass unseen, the broad trail of pushed aside the bushes, and noisea large party, with its animals, was lessly proceeded up the bank, when, not likely to escape the sharp eyes of creeping on hands and knees, he the cunning savages.
gained the top, and, looking from They had scarcely encamped when his hiding-place, descried three Inthe old leader, who had sallied out dian huts standing on a little plateau a short distance from camp to recon- near the creek. Smoke curled from noitre the neighbourhood, returned the roofs of branches, but the skin
doors were carefully closed, so that he them, and galloped off, a volley of was unable to distinguish the number balls and arrows whistling after him. of the inmates. At a little distance, He drew no bit until he reined up at however, he observed two or three the camp-fire, where he found Bill squaws gathering wood, with the usual quietly dressing a deer-skin. That attendance of curs, whose acuteness in worthy looked up from his work ; and detecting the scent of strangers was seeing Markhead's face streaming much to be dreaded.
with blood, and the very unequivocal Markhead was a rash and daring evidence of an Indian rencontre in the young follow, caring no more for In- shape of an arrow sticking in his dians than he did for prairie dogs, back, he asked, “Do'ee feel bad and acting ever on the spur of the now, boy? Whar away you see them moment, and as his inclination darned Blackfoot ?", dictated, regardless of consequences. “Well, pull this arrow out of my He at once determined to enter the back, and may be I'll feel like telling," lodges, and attack the enemy, should answered Markhead. any be there ; and the other “Do 'ee hyar now ! hold on till I've trapper was fain to join him in the grained this cussed skin, will 'ee ! enterprise The lodges proved empty, Did 'ee ever see sich a darned pelt, but the fires were still burning and now? it won't take the smoke any how meat cooking upon them, to which I fix it." And Markhead was fain the hungry hunters did ample justice, to wait the leisure of the imperturbable besides helping themselves to what- old trapper, before he was eased of ever goods and chattels, in the shape his annoying companion. of leather and mocassins, took their Old Bill expressed no surprise or fancy.
grief when informed of the fate of Gathering their spoil into a poor Batiste. He said it was “just bundle, they sought their horses, like greenhorns, runnin' into them which they had left tied under cover cussed Blackfoot; " and observed that of the timber on the banks of the the defunct trapper, being only a Videcreek; and, mounting, took the back pôche, was "no account anyhow." trail, to pick up their traps and remove Presently Killbuck and La Bonté from so dangerous a neighbourhood. galloped into camp, with another They were approaching the spot where alarm of Indians. They had also been the first trap was set, a thick growth attacked suddenly by a band of Blackof ash and quaking-ash concealing the feet, but, being in a more open country, stream, when Markhead, who was had got clear off, after killing two of riding ahead, observed the bushes their assailants, whose scalps bung at agitated, as if some animal was making the horns of their saddles. They had its way through them. He instantly been in a different direction to that stopped his horse, and his companion where Markhead and his companion rode to his side, to inquire the had proceeded, and, from the sigus cause of this abrupt halt. They were they had observed, expressed their within a few yards of the belt of shrubs belief that the country was alive with which skirted the stream; and before Indians. Neither of these men had Markhead had time to reply, a dozen been wounded. Presently the two swarthy heads and shoulders suddenly Canadians made their appearance on protruded from the leafy screen, and the bluff, galloping with might and as many rifle-barrels and arrows were main to camp, and shouting Indians, pointing at their breasts. Before the Indians," as they came. All being trappers had time to turn their horses assembled, and a council held, it was and fly, a cloud of smoke burst from determined to abandon the camp and the thicket almost in their faces. neighbourhood immediately. Old Bill Batiste, pierced with several balls, was already packing his animals, and fell dead from his horse, and Mark- as he pounded the saddle down on the head felt himself severely wounded. withers of his old Rosinante, he mutHowever, he struck the spurs into his tered, “Do 'ee hyar, now! this coon horse; and as some half-score Black- 'ull câche, he will." So mounting his feet jumped with loud cries from their horse, and leading his pack mule by a cover, he discharged his rifle amongst lariat, he bent over his saddle-horn,
dug his ponderous rowels into the thicket in search of the brute's master, lank sides of his beast, and, without a La Bonté suddenly stopped short as word, struck up the bluff and disap- the muzzle of a rifle-barrel gaped peared.
before his eyes at the distance of a The others, hastily gathering up few inches, whilst the thin voice of their packs, and most of them having Bill mutteredlost their traps, quickly followed his “Do 'ee hyar now, I was nigh givexample, and " put out." On crest- ing 'ee h I was now. If I didn't ing the high ground which rose from think 'ee was Blackfoot, I'm dogged the creek, they observed thin columns now." And not a little indignant was of smoke mounting into the air from the old fellow that his câche had been many different points, the meaning of so easily, though accidentally, discowhich they were at no loss to guess. vered. However, he presently made However, they were careful not to his appearance in camp, leading his show themselves on elevated ground, animals, and once more joined his late keeping as much as possible under the companions, not deigning to give any banks of the creek, when such a explanation as to why or wherefore course was practicable ; but, the bluffs he had deserted them the day before, sometimes rising precipitously from merely muttering, “ do 'ee hyar now, the water, they were more than once thar's trouble comin'." compelled to ascend the banks, and The two hunters returned after suncontinue their course along the up- down with a black-tailed deer; and lands, whence they might easily be after eating the better part of the discovered by the Indians. It was meat, and setting a guard, the party nearly sundown when they left their were glad to roll in their blankets and camp, but they proceeded during the enjoy the rest they so much needed. greater part of the night at as rapid a They were undisturbed during the rate as possible; their progress, how night; but at dawn of day the sleepers ever, being greatly retarded as they were roused by a hundred fierce yells, advanced into the mountain, their from the mountains enclosing the creek route lying up stream. Towards on which they had encamped. The morning they halted for a brief space, yells were instantly followed by a but started again as soon as day- ringing volley, the bullets thudding light permitted them to see their way into the trees, and cutting the branches over the broken ground.
near them, but without causing any The creek now forced its way mischief. Old Bill rose from his through a narrow cañon, the banks blanket and shook himself, and exbeing thickly clothed with a shrubbery claimed “ Wagh !" as at that moment of cotton wood and quaking-ash. The a ball plumped into the fire over which mountain rose on each side, but not he was standing, and knocked the abruptly, being here and there broken ashes about in a cloud. All the into plateaus and shelving prairies. In mountaineers seized their rifles and a very thick bottom, sprinkled with sprang to cover ; but as yet it was coarse grass, they halted about noon, not sufficiently light to show them and removed the saddles and packs their enemy, the bright flashes from from their wearied animals, piqueting the guns alone indicating their posithem in the best spots of grass. tion. As morning dawned, however,
La Bonté and Killbuck, after secur- they saw that both sides of the cañon ing their animals, left the camp to were occupied by the Indians; and, hunt, for they had no provisions of from the firing, judged there must be any kind; and a short distance beyond at least a hundred warriors engaged in it, the former came suddenly upon a the attack. Not a shot had yet been recent mocassin track in the timber fired by the trappers, but as the light After examining it for a moment, he increased, they eagerly watched for an raised his head with a broad grin, and, Indian to expose himself, and offer a turning to his companion, pointed into mark to their trusty rifles. La Bonté, the cover, where, in the thickest part, Killbuck, and old Bill, lay a few yards they discerned the well-known figure distant from each other, flat on their of old Bill's horse, browsing upon the faces, near the edge of the thicket, cherry bushes. Pushing through the their rifles raised before them, and the
barrels resting in the forks of con- spot where Markhead lay concealed in venient bushes. From their place of some high grass. concealment to the position of the That daring fellow instantly jumped Indians—who, however, were scat- from his cover, and, drawing his knife, tered here and there, wherever a rock rushed to the body, and in another afforded them cover-was a distance moment held aloft the Indian's scalp, of about a hundred and fifty yards, or giving, at the same time, a triumphant within fair rifle-shot. The trappers whoop. A score of rifles were levelled were obliged to divide their force, and discharged at the intrepid mounsince both sides of the creek were oc- taineer; but in the act many Incupied ; but such was the nature of the dians incautiously exposed themground, and the excellent cover afforded selves, every rifle in the timber by the rocks and boulders, and clumps cracked simultaneously, and for each of dwarf pine and hemlock, that not a report an Indian bit the dust. hand's-breadth of an Indian's body B ut now they changed their tactics. had yet been seen. Nearly opposite Finding they were unable to drive La Bonté, a shelving glade in the the trappers from their position, they mountain side ended in an abrupt retired from the mountain, and the precipice, and at the very edge, and firing suddenly ceased. In their realmost toppling over it, were several treat, however, they were forced to exboulders, just of sufficient size to afford pose themselves, and again the whites cover to a man's body. As this bluff dealt destruction amongst them. As overlooked the trapper's position, it the Indians retired, yelling loudly, the was occupied by the Indians, and hunters thought they had given up the every rock covered an assailant. At contest; but presently a cloud of one point, just over where La Bonté smoke rising from the bottom immeand Killbuck were lying, two boulders diately below them, at once discovered lay together, with just sufficient inter- the nature of their plans. A brisk val to admit a rifle-barrel between wind was blowing up the cañon, and, them, and from this breastwork an favoured by it, they fired the brush on Indian kept up a most annoying fire. the banks of the stream, knowing that All his shots fell in dangerous pro- before this the hunters must speedily pinquity to one or other of the trappers, retreat. and already Killbuck had been grazed Against such a result, but for the by one better directed than the others. gale of wind which drove the fire La Bonté watched for some time in roaring before it, they could have provain for a chance to answer this perse- vided-for your mountaineer never vering marksman, and at length an fails to find resources on a pinch. opportunity offered, by which he was They would have fired the brush to not long in profiting.
leeward of their position, and also The Indian, as the light increased, carefully ignited that to windward, or was better able to discern his mark, between them and the advancing flame, and fired, and yelled every time he did extinguishing it immediately when a so, with redoubled vigour. In his sufficient space had thus been cleared, eagerness, and probably whilst in the and over which the fire-flame could not act of taking aim, he leaned too heavily leap, and thus cutting themselves off against the rock which covered him, from it both above and below their and, detaching it from its position, position. In the present instance, down it rolled into the cañon, expos. they could not profit by such a course, ing his body by its fall. At the same as the wind was so strong that, if instant, a wreath of smoke puffed once the bottom caught fire, they from the bushes which concealed the would not be able to extinguish it; trappers, and the crack of La Bonté's besides which, in the attempt, they rifle spoke the first word of reply would so expose themselves that they to the Indian challenge. But a few would be picked off by the Indians feet behind the rock, fell the dead without difficulty. As it was, the fire body of the Indian, rolling down came roaring before the wind with the the steep sides of the cañon, and speed of a race-horse, and, spreading only stopped by a bush at the very from the bottom, licked the mountain bottom, within a few yards of the sides, the dry grass burning like tinder. Huge volumes of stifling smoke buried in a sleep from which they rolled before it, and, in a very few never awoke. An Indian boy tracked minutes, the trappers were hastily them, and watched their camp. mounting their animals, driving the Burning with the idea of signalispacked ones before them. The dense ing himself thus early, he awaited clouds of smoke concealed every his opportunity, and noiselessly apthing from their view, and, to avoid proaching their resting place, shot this, they broke from the creek and them both with arrows, and returned galloped up the sides of the caiion on in triumph to his people with their to the more level plateau. As they horses and scalps. attained this, a band of mounted In- La Bonté and Killbuck sought a dians charged them. One, waving passage in the mountain by which to a red blanket, dashed through the cross over to the head waters of the cavallada, and was instantly followed Columbia, and there fall in with some by all the loose animals of the trap- of the traders or trappers of the Northpers, the rest of the Indians following west. They became involved in the with loud shouts. So sudden was the mountains, in a part where was charge, that the whites had not power no game of any description, and no to prevent the stampede. Old Bill, as pasture for their miserable animals. usual, led his pack mules by the lariat; One of these they killed for food ; the but the animals, mad with terror at other, a bag of bones, died from sheer the shouts of the Indians, broke from starvation. They had very little amhim, nearly pulling him out of his seat munition, their mocassins were worn at the same time.
out, and they were unable to procure To cover the retreat of the others skins to supply themselves with fresh with their prey, a band of mounted ones. Winter was fast approaching, Indians now appeared, threatening an the snow already covered the mounattack in front, whilst their first as- tains, and storms of sleet and hail sailants, rushing from the bottom, at poured incessantly through the valleys, least a hundred strong, assaulted in benumbing their exhausted limbs, rear. “Do 'ee hyar, boys!" shouted hardly protected by scanty and ragged old Bill, “ break, or you'll go under. covering. To add to their miseries, This child's goin' to cảche !" and say. poor Killbuck was taken ill. He had ing the word, off he went. Sauve- been wounded in the groin by a bullet qui-peut was the order of the day, and some time before, and the ball still not a moment too soon, for overwhelm. remained. The wound, aggravated by ing numbers were charging upon them, walking and the excessive cold, asand the mountain resounded with sumed an ugly appearance, and soon savage yells. La Bonté and Killbuck rendered him incapable of sustained stuck together : they saw old Bill, exertion, all motion even being atbending over his saddle, dive right tended with intolerable pain. La into the cloud of smoke, and apparently Bonté had made a shanty for his make for the creek bottom-their other suffering companion, and spread a soft companions scattering each on his bed of pine branches for him, by the own hook, and saw no more of them side of a small creck at the point for many a month ; and thus was one where it came out of the mountain of the most daring and successful and followed its course through a little bands broken up that ever trapped in prairie. They had been three days the mountains of the Far West. without other food than a piece of
It is painful to follow the steps parflêche, which had formed the back of the poor fellows who, thus de- of La Bonté's bullet-pouch, and which, spoiled of the hardly-earned produce after soaking in the creek, they eagerly of their hunt, saw all their wealth devoured. Killbuck was unable to torn from them at one swoop. The move, and sinking fast from exhaustwo Canadians were killed upon the tion. His companion had hunted night succeeding that of the attack. from morning till night, as well as his Worn with fatigue, hungry and cold, failing strength would allow him, but they had built a fire in what they had not seen the traces of any kind of thought was a secure retreat, and, game, with the exception of some old rolled in their blankets, were soon buffalo tracks, made apparently months