CROSS-PURPOSES

In the morning Fred Wilder set out to seek for the trail of his
companions; but, after a long and careful search, he was unable to find
it, and he abandoned the quest in despair. As he had seen or heard
nothing of the Blackfeet, he concluded that they had given up the
pursuit, and had returned to their village.

The disappearance of the Blackfoot and Flora Robinette was not
incomprehensible to him, for it was very likely that he had lost the
trail; but he could not help fearing that it was to be attributed to
some other cause. It was possible that White Shield had been troubled
in conscience concerning the manner in which he had left his tribe, and
that he might have gone back to meet the pursuers, hoping to make peace
with them by delivering Flora to Good Ax. It was possible, also, that
he might have taken a fancy to the fair prize, and that he might have
determined to secure her for himself, thus cheating his white brother,
as well as his tribe.

Fred Wilder’s manly heart made him reject these unworthy suspicions as
fast as they arose in his mind. He could not believe that the Indian,
who had sworn brotherhood to him, and who had so thoroughly proved
his friendship, would so easily turn traitor. In fact, he felt sure
that he could trust him, whatever appearances might be against him.
The probability was, Wilder thought, that he had lost their trail,
which must lead direct to Mr. Robinette’s rendezvous. Still, it seemed
strange that they had not waited for him, or tried to find him, as he
supposed they might easily have done.

Stifling his fears as well as he could, he rode toward the south,
shaping his course for the rendezvous, where he hoped to find his
missing companions.

It was a long journey, and there was not a little peril connected with
it; but, by the use of vigilance and caution, he contrived to keep
clear of any predatory bands of Indians, and the end of two weeks found
him on a stream which he believed to be one of the head branches of
Green River.

The sun was nearly on the meridian when he was riding along the
pleasant stream, in the shade of the cottonwoods and willows,
meditating on his vagrant life, and wondering whether he would ever
settle down and become a quiet and steady citizen. Thoughts of dinner
were also in his mind, and were further provoked by the sight of a thin
column of blue smoke, curling up above the tree-tops before him. He
stopped at once, with a true woodman’s caution, and speculated upon the
smoke and its cause.

He thought that he could not be far from the rendezvous, and it was not
likely that there would be any hostile Indians so near a large assembly
of white men. It was more probable that some hunters had chosen the
spot for the purpose of enjoying their noon meal. Wilder was willing
enough to join them; but he thought it best to use caution, as he could
not be certain whether he was to meet friends or enemies.

He dismounted, tethered his horses, and quietly picked his way through
the undergrowth toward the smoke. He was soon near enough to perceive
two white men seated by the remains of a fire. Near them was the
carcass of an antelope, from which they had made their meal. Both men
were smoking, and a flask that lay between them denoted that they were
not destitute of another creature comfort much prized in the wilderness.

Wilder was about to step forward and join them, when he was stopped by
an exclamation that one of them made. He heard Flora Robinette’s name,
used in a manner that strongly attracted his attention, and made him
anxious to hear more of the conversation.

Crawling up closer, and concealing himself behind the trunk of a large
cottonwood, he looked and listened. He knew both of the men, one of
whom was Martin Laurie, Mr. Robinette’s agent, and the other was Jacob
Farnsworth, also one of the trader’s employés.

“You think, then, that you can find the girl?” asked Farnsworth.

“I am pretty certain of that,” replied the Scotchman.

“What will you do with her when you get her?”

“It seems to me, my friend, that you are becoming inquisitive.”

“I suppose I am; but it is a matter that concerns me a little.”

“How so?”

“Look here, Martin Laurie. You might as well be open and
straight-forward; for I know you as well as you know yourself. You
expect to rescue the girl, and to have the fingering of old Robinette’s
money.”

“You may think what you please about it. Suppose that what you say were
true, how would it affect you?”

“More than you may think. I might hinder or help you as I chose. You
don’t want to tell me your plans; but you will have to do it. The
Scotch are very keen; but they are no sharper than the Yankees. I can
tell you that you will never touch the old man’s money-bags, unless
you change your plans.”

“You are only trying to pump me, Jake Farnsworth.”

“I am not. I am speaking for your own interest. I know what I am
saying; for I have the will.”

“The will! What will?”

“Paul Robinette’s will.”

“The deuce! I didn’t know that he left a will.”

“I have one copy, and the other copy is in St. Louis.”

“What does it say?”

“Don’t you wish you knew? I will tell you, on condition that you will
give me a third of what you make by the operation. Your plans will
amount to nothing, unless you know what is in the will. You might go to
St. Louis, and examine the other copy; but your chances would be all
gone before you could get back. If you will come to terms I will tell
you what I know, and will help you with your plans. If you won’t, you
may as well load up your traps and quit the ground.”

“I will agree to what you say, if your information really causes me to
change my plans.”

“That is fair enough. I will guarantee that it will surprise you.”

“Very well. Out with it.”

“The will is a strange one, and perhaps there is a touch of hypo in it;
but I have no doubt that it would stand in the courts. In fact, it was
drawn by a lawyer, who ought to have known his business. It seems that
the old man was quite a monomaniac on the subject of being killed by
Indians. He had a presentiment that he would be scalped by them some
day, and the fear that his scalp would remain in their possession, and
be smoke-dried in their lodges, always preyed upon his mind.”

“It may have been second-sight, for he was killed and scalped after
escaping for so many years.”

“I know that; but listen to the arrangement he made by his will. He
divided his property into two equal portions, one of which is to be
given to the man who recovers his scalp from the Indians. The other
half is to be his daughter’s, on condition she marries the man who
recovers his scalp.”

Fred Wilder uttered an involuntary exclamation, and felt in the
breast-pocket of his hunting-shirt, to see whether the gray scalp was
secure.

“I thought I heard something,” said Farnsworth, looking around. “It
must have been one of our horses. If she refuses to marry that man, she
will get but the income of her share during life, and at her death it
will go to a charity in St. Louis.”

“Suppose the scalp should not be recovered.”

“Then that share is to go to the same charity. You can judge, now,
whether the will changes your plans.”

“I must confess that it will change them considerably. It will be of
more importance to me to secure the scalp than the girl. It is a queer
will. The old man must have been crazy.”

“His head was clear enough, as you well know, and we need make no
question about the will. If you can recover the scalp, the girl will be
obliged to marry you, or she will get nothing from the property worth
speaking of. The two halves, put together, would make a right handsome
pile.”

“They would, indeed, and I could afford to give you a share. I must
secure both the scalp and the girl. I see no objection that Miss Flora
could have to marrying me. I have always been considered a proper man.”

“Proper enough, no doubt; but young ladies have strange fancies
sometimes. Where do you expect to find her?”

“Among the Crows.”

“That is strange.”

“Rather strange, I admit, but none the less true. Pap Byers, who was
one of the party when we were attacked, picked up a Crow blanket and a
Crow moccasin after the fight, and he was sure that they were Crows who
stampeded us.”

“But the Crows never molest white people.”

“Very seldom, it is true; but this may have been a party of young
braves who were returning from an expedition which had not resulted
to suit them, and they may have wanted to carry home a few horses or
scalps, thinking that they would not be found out. War-parties dislike
to return empty-handed.”

“That is true, and you are probably right in supposing that the
assailants were Crows. If so, they have the scalp and Miss Flora. But
how will you get them?”

“George Benning wanted to go in search of the young lady, and I let him
take Pap Byers and Sam Glass and a green young Irishman. If they found
her, they were to bring her to the rendezvous; but I have neither seen
nor heard any thing of them.”

“Perhaps they have been rubbed out.”

“It is very likely. They were afoot, and their first movement would
have been to steal some horses from the Indians. That might have
brought them into trouble.”

“If Benning is out of the way, it will be all the better for you, as I
have heard that he was getting fond of Miss Flora, and he is, or was, a
likely young fellow.”

“It would pain me greatly to hear of his death.”

“None of your hypocrisy, Martin Laurie. We know each other too well for
that. What do you mean to do now?”

“I can do nothing until after the next rendezvous, in August. Then I
shall go up among the Crows, and have no doubt that I shall be able
to trade with them for both the girl and the scalp, giving them to
understand that they shall not be troubled about that little affair.”

“Very well. I will keep your counsel, and will help you all I can. We
had better be getting back to camp, before they send out a party to
search for us. Shall we take the rest of this antelope?”

“It is not worth while. We will leave that much for the wolves.”

The two men mounted their horses, and rode down the stream. Fred Wilder
waited until they were out of sight, when he also mounted, and followed
them slowly, reflecting on what he had heard.

He soon reached the camp, where he saw both Laurie and Farnsworth,
together with a number of trappers and friendly Indians; but he kept
his own counsel, saying nothing of his late adventures, or of Flora
Robinette or the gray scalp.

It was evident to Wilder, from the first of the conversation that he
listened to, between Laurie and Farnsworth, that White Shield had not
brought Flora Robinette to the rendezvous. He was not really surprised
at this; but his fears were awakened and strengthened, and he could
not avoid an oppressive feeling of anxiety. He made no inquiries about
them, but remained a week at the encampment, hoping that they might
come in.

At the end of that time, as he had heard nothing of them, he was forced
to the conclusion that his suspicions had been too well founded, and
that White Shield had betrayed him. It was possible that they might
have been captured by some roving band of Indians; but it was not at
all probable that so brave and wily a warrior as the Blackfoot would
have suffered himself to be taken by any enemy. Wilder could only
believe that he had gone back to the Blackfeet, or that he had taken
possession of Flora for purposes of his own.

Quite despondent, the young man sallied out one morning on a
hunting-excursion. He went alone, hoping to meet with some excitement
that would prevent his mind from brooding over his half-accomplished
achievement. He was by no means prepared to abandon the object with
which he had left the Blackfeet. On the contrary, he was determined
that he would not be so easily outdone, and it was his intention to
seek for the missing companions of his flight, to rescue Flora from the
Indians, and to punish White Shield for his treachery.

He had poor luck with his hunting that morning, the reason being,
probably, that his mind was too much occupied with other matters.
Somewhat discouraged, he ascended a hill, from which he could have a
good view of the surrounding country, and looked to see whether any
game was visible.

In the distance he descried a dark object, slowly moving over the
plain. He was sure that it was no four-legged animal, and was soon
convinced that it was a man on foot; but he could not tell whether it
was an Indian or a white man.

Curious to know who the solitary traveler could be, he descended the
hill, and rode toward the object. The man discovered him, and seemed to
wish to avoid him; but there was no way of escaping on the prairie, and
at last he stopped, waiting the approach of the horseman.

As he drew near to the stranger, Wilder perceived that he was an
Indian. Nearer yet, he thought that he discovered a resemblance in his
features to those of White Shield. Yes; it must be his red brother;
for the Indian recognizes him, and runs eagerly forward to meet him.
Wilder is surprised; he can not believe that this is the athletic
and fine-looking warrior from whom he lately separated; for the form
of White Shield is fearfully emaciated, his eyes are hollow, he is
entirely without arms, and the few garments that remain to him hang
about him in tatters.

Instead of advancing to meet him, Wilder reined in his horse, and
leveled his rifle at the Indian.

“Shall I shoot you now?” he said; “or shall I wait until I hear what
you have to say?”

The Blackfoot, who did not attempt to conceal his surprise, advanced no
further, but looked steadily at the leveled rifle.

“If my brother wishes to kill me,” he replied, “let him shoot. White
Shield is ready to go to the spirit-land.”

“Are you sure that you are ready? Is there nothing you have done that
frightens you?”

“White Shield is not afraid. His heart is clean, and his tongue is
straight. The path is broad before him. Let my brother shoot.”

“Why have you betrayed me?”

“White Shield betrayed his own people, to please his brother. Is it for
that reason that he is called a traitor? Let Silverspur shoot.”

Wilder could not contain himself any longer. The truth and affection
of the Indian were so manifest, that he felt that he could not blame
himself sufficiently for his suspicions. He leaped from his horse,
threw his rifle upon the ground, ran to the Indian, and fairly hugged
him.

“The heart of Silverspur was hot,” he said. “A little bird whispered
to me, and told me lies. I have done wrong; but my brother will forgive
me.”

“The heart of White Shield is warm. What did the little bird say to my
brother?”

“Where is the white maiden?”

“With the Indians of the south–with the Arapahoes.”

“Why is she there?”

The Indian proceeded to relate his adventures since he had parted from
his friend.

He had gone to the peak which he had pointed out, and had waited
there a while. Fearing that Silverspur had been killed, and that
the Blackfeet might follow on the trail, he had judged it best–for
the safety of Flora Robinette, which he supposed to be the chief
consideration with his friend–to continue his flight toward the south,
and he left an arrow to indicate that he had gone in that direction.

When night came on, he encamped, and waited for his friend. There could
be no doubt that Wilder had wandered widely from the trail, as White
Shield, when he considered himself out of danger from the pursuing
Blackfeet, had searched for him in vain. Concluding that Silverspur had
lost his life in the defense of the pass, the Indian had no alternative
but to push on toward the rendezvous, to which his friend had promised
to take the young lady. Flora was greatly grieved at the loss of
her friend and deliverer, but made no other complaints, and went on
bravely, trusting implicitly in her Blackfoot guide.

It was a long journey, the Indian said, and the young lady could not
travel very rapidly. He guarded her as well as he was able to; but it
was impossible to ride all day and watch all night. One night, when
he had fallen asleep, he awoke to find himself surrounded by Indians.
He discovered them before he was seen by them; but they were in such
numbers that escape was impossible, and he and his charge were captured
by them.

The captors were Arapahoes, who were on their way home, whither they
carried their prisoners. White Shield was recognized as a Blackfoot
brave who was responsible for the death of many of their warriors, and
he was reserved for the torture. He succeeded in escaping, and set out,
without food or weapons, toward Robinette’s rendezvous, where he hoped
to find Silverspur. He had experienced great sufferings and privations,
and had eaten nothing but roots for three days previous to meeting his
friend.

Wilder could not control his emotion at this recital.

“Is it possible,” he exclaimed, “that I was on the point of shooting
you, after you had endured so much for me? You must be starving, and
I have been with you nearly an hour, without offering you a morsel to
eat!”

He opened his haversack, and spread its contents before his
half-famished friend, who devoured them greedily. He gave the Indian
his pipe to smoke while he rested, and then forced him to mount his
horse, and walked by his side to the rendezvous.

Wilder persuaded White Shield to remain at the rendezvous until his
strength was recruited, and furnished him, in the mean time, with a
full outfit of clothing, weapons, ammunition and horses. The Indian
appeared to be even more anxious than Wilder to recover Flora Robinette
from the Arapahoes, and they soon set out in search of her, without
informing any one of their purpose.

The young lady was still among the Arapahoes, and that was all that
White Shield could say upon the subject with certainty. He had not seen
her while he was among them, but did not doubt that she was safe, nor
did he believe that she had suffered any harm.

Wilder and his friend crossed the mountains at the South Pass, and
struck out in a southerly direction. After passing the Republican
Fork of the Platte, they found themselves in the heart of the country
claimed by the Arapahoes.

White Shield took his companion in a direct course to the village to
which he had been carried as a prisoner, but discovered, upon his
arrival at the place where it had stood, that it had recently been
removed. Following the lodge-pole trail, which was plain enough, they
found the village in its new location, near the base of the mountains.

At nightfall the two friends prepared to reconnoiter, for the purpose
of discovering the whereabouts of Flora Robinette. It was arranged that
White Shield should disguise himself and enter the village, where he
should saunter about and mix with the Arapahoes as much as possible,
while Silverspur remained and awaited his return, at the place where
their horses were concealed.

The Indian threw his blanket over his head, and walked boldly toward
the village, leaving Wilder to wait and watch. The night was dark,
quite favorable to the purposes of the spy, and Wilder had no doubt
that he would soon see him returning in safety, whether he made any
discovery or not. But hours passed away; the night grew darker,
until it was so black that the outlines of the neighboring trees
could scarcely be discerned, and the young man became anxious and
impatient. Notwithstanding White Shield’s experience and reputation
as a woodman and warrior, it was possible that he might have lost his
way in endeavoring to return to his friend, or that he might have been
discovered and captured by the Arapahoes.

At last Wilder heard a rustling in the timber. He bent forward and
listened, striving to look through the darkness, but not doubting that
it was his friend who was approaching.

The noise ceased, and again it commenced; but it did not seem to draw
any nearer. It might be some animal scratching among the leaves, or it
might be White Shield feeling his way in the darkness. Wilder thought
it best to try to find out what it really was.

“Is that you, White Shield?” he asked, in a whisper.

In reply, he was startled by the growling of an Indian dog, and
the next instant the animal came running up to him, barking most
vociferously.

“Confound this noisy little pest!” he exclaimed. “I must put a stop to
his racket, or he will bring the red-skins on me.”

He aimed a blow at the brute with the butt of his rifle, but missed
it, and the dog ran toward the village, and then ran back, barking as
spitefully and as loud as it could.

Wilder knew well that he would be compelled to change his location; but
he greatly disliked to do so before the return of White Shield, as they
would then be separated, and might not be able to come together again.
He had no doubt that the noise would be heard at the village, and that
the Indians, knowing from the dog’s manner of barking that it had not
started any game, would sally out to see what was the matter. In that
event he would be compelled to fly; but he hoped that White Shield
might arrive before that step should become necessary.

Soon he heard steps approaching, and an Indian speaking to the dog.

“It is only one,” thought Wilder, and he decided that he could easily
put that one out of the way, and might then wait a little longer for
his friend. He concealed himself, therefore, behind the trunk of a
large tree, confident that the dog would bring the Indian to him.

So it happened. The Indian followed the dog to the tree, which he
approached, cautiously at first, and then boldly, having convinced
himself that the dog had only discovered some animal, which had taken
refuge there. As soon as he was near enough, Wilder stepped out, and
struck at him with his knife.

In the darkness the blow was badly aimed. It made a mortal wound;
but the Arapaho had strength enough before he fell to clinch his
adversary, and to utter a piercing yell. Wilder hastened to give him
his death-blow; but the mischief was done, and the dog ran toward the
village, barking more violently than ever.

It was time to be gone. With a muttered imprecation on his bad luck
and on the miserable dog, Wilder hastened to his horse, cast loose the
hopple, and sprung upon his back. He was none too soon. Already the
air resounded with the shouts of the Arapahoes, and he could hear them
hastening through the forest toward the point from which the yells had
proceeded. He spurred his horse and rode rapidly away from the voices,
with the villainous dog close at his heels.

The timber was so close, the darkness was so dense, and the overhanging
boughs were so troublesome, that Wilder did not make such progress as
he wished to make, and he knew that his pursuers were gaining on him.
The dog would keep them on the trail, in spite of the darkness, and it
was evident that they must overtake him, unless fortune should favor
him in some way.

It was with great joy, therefore, that he emerged from the forest, and
found himself on a level plain, unbroken by tree or shrub. The dog
was still barking at his heels; but he felt that he could now easily
distance his pursuers, and with a shout of triumph, he gave his horse
the spur, and galloped furiously away.

He had kept up this headlong pace but a few minutes, when his horse
suddenly stopped, with his fore feet planted on the verge of a
precipice, and stood still as a stone, trembling all over with fear.

Wilder, carried on by the momentum which he had acquired from the rapid
motion of his horse, did not participate in this sudden stoppage, but
was thrown violently forward over the head of the animal. He felt
himself falling swiftly through the air; then his breath left him, and
he knew no more.

George Benning thought himself compelled to remain with the Crows until
he could learn the intentions of Bad Eye, their chief. He was confident
that the Blackfeet warriors would return from their pursuit with Flora
Robinette, if not with Silverspur and his red companion. He must look
for Flora among them, and, as he could not expect to effect any thing
alone, he was obliged to seek the aid of the Crows.

Bad Eye expressed, and appeared to feel, a great interest in Benning’s
enterprise, but was in no haste to afford him such aid as he desired.
He frequently declared his belief that Silverspur (whose name had
become really hateful to George Benning) would not fail to accomplish
any thing that he undertook, and that the girl was probably safe,
if she had not been carried to her friends. But the scalp of the
white-haired chief, he said, should not dry in the lodges of the
Blackfeet, and sooner or later he would wrest that trophy from them.

Although this promise had been often made, the chief seemed to be in
no hurry to keep it, and Benning, discouraged and out of patience,
had resolved to leave the village, when Bad Eye at last yielded to his
importunities. A war-party was dispatched to the Blackfoot village,
with orders to attack if a fair opportunity should present itself. One
of the first of the Crow warriors headed the expedition, and Benning
accompanied it as a volunteer.

The Blackfoot village was found to be deserted, its occupants having
removed further to the north. The Crows followed the trail, and
discovered that the village had been united with another, and that the
combined force was too formidable to justify an attack. After hovering
a few days in the vicinity, during which time they captured some
Blackfeet women, and ran off some horses, the Crows returned to their
own village, to avoid reprisals from their enemies.

The chief and George Benning questioned the prisoners, and learned from
them that the former had been correct in his surmises concerning the
escape of Silverspur and the safety of Flora Robinette. Their warriors
had returned from the pursuit, the women said, after suffering great
losses. They had followed the fugitives into the mountains, and had
nearly overtaken them, when they were stopped at a narrow pass, which
was obstinately defended by Silverspur. They were at last obliged to
send a party around to turn his position, when he had decamped. They
then followed the trail a considerable distance, but at last gave up
the pursuit in despair, and returned to mourn their losses. As for the
scalp of the white-haired chief, they had danced over it; but it was
not drying in any Blackfoot lodge. It had disappeared; no one knew what
had become of it, and the heart of Good Ax was very hot.

Thoroughly convinced that Silverspur had accomplished the object upon
which his own heart had been set, and grieved that he had uselessly
spent so much time among the Crows, Benning decided to set out at once
to join Flora. Whatever his feelings toward Wilder might be, he could
not doubt that Flora had requested him to convey her to the place which
her father had appointed as a rendezvous, and that he would faithfully
obey her request. Benning had no fear that his supposed rival would
act toward Flora otherwise than as a gentleman and a true friend; but
therein lay the peril of his own hopes. Wilder was so evidently a
gentleman, and had had such a splendid opportunity to prove himself
a friend! Flora could not fail to be touched by his chivalry and
devotion, and, if he should press his suit, it was not to be supposed
that she could have the heart to refuse him, especially as Benning had
never declared his love.

In this mood the young partisan had bid farewell to Bad Eye, and was
about to leave the country of the Crows, when there was an arrival
at the village, the new-comers being Mr. Martin Laurie and a band of
trappers.

Benning was greatly surprised to see the agent at that time and place,
and Laurie was no less surprised at meeting the partisan.

“I was afraid you were dead,” said the Scotchman. “I heard nothing
of you, and all of us supposed that you had been rubbed out by the
red-skins.”

“Not yet,” coolly replied Benning, who was suspicious of the Scotchman,
and felt unwilling to give him any information until he could learn
what his intentions were.

“Have you been able to do any thing for Miss Flora?”

“Nothing at all.”

Laurie, to whom Flora had now become a secondary object to the
possession of her father’s scalp, here dropped the subject, which he
found Benning quite willing to avoid. He was shrewd enough to guess
that the young partisan would not be so cool and unexcited about the
matter, unless he knew that Flora was safe. If she was safe, and
Benning was remaining quietly among the Crows, it was reasonable to
suppose that the young lady was not far off. Laurie had as yet heard
nothing to move him from the belief that a party of Crows had made the
night-attack upon Mr Robinette’s encampment, and he was still convinced
that Flora was to be found among them. Benning doubtless knew where she
was; but he was not rich enough to buy her from them, or influential
enough to insure them immunity for the outrage. If the Crows had
Flora, it was probable that they also had the scalp of Paul Robinette.
The way seemed clear to Martin Laurie, who soon left the young man,
and hastened to the lodge of the chief, for the purpose of opening
negotiations.

George Benning had been led to quite different conclusions, which were
as groundless as those of Laurie. When we reason upon false premises,
the reasoning can not fail to deceive. Convinced that Silverspur
had taken Flora to the rendezvous, he saw, from the light and easy
manner in which Laurie mentioned her, that he knew of her safety and
had seen her. It was evident to him that the shrewd Scotchman wished
him to remain ignorant of her rescue, in order that he might be kept
away from her as long as possible. He could not help smiling at the
shortsightedness of Laurie, in expecting to conceal the truth from him,
when he could so easily learn it from the trappers whom he had brought
from the rendezvous.

He went among them to satisfy himself, but was doomed to
disappointment. None of the men who came with Laurie had been at the
rendezvous while Silverspur was there, and they knew nothing about him.
Consequently they were unable to understand the hints which Benning
(not wishing to ask openly about Flora) threw out concerning that
person.

At last he was compelled to ask them openly whether Flora had reached
the rendezvous, and the answers that he received were decidedly in the
negative. None had seen her, none knew any thing about her, and all
were sure that Laurie was as ignorant as themselves.

Benning could not help believing the statements of the trappers,
except so far as they related to Laurie’s ignorance, on which point he
reserved a doubt. Whatever he might think of Silverspur, he was sure
that he was not a man whom Martin Laurie could buy. It was possible,
however, that the Scotchman might have convinced him of the justness of
his claim upon Flora, and that Silverspur had given her up, in which
case Laurie had concealed her for purposes of his own. Filled with this
thought, the young man hastened to seek Laurie, and met him as he was
coming out of the chief’s lodge, looking crestfallen and indignant.

As both were angry, they gave utterance to their thoughts with less
coolness than had marked their first interview.

“I think we had better have an understanding, Mr. Benning,” said Laurie.

“I have come here for the purpose of having an understanding with you.
I want to know what crooked purpose has brought you to this place.”

“Don’t be angry, my young friend. It will be to your interest to keep
on the right side of me, and I am sure that you will gain nothing by
flying into a passion. I don’t know why you should impute crooked
purposes to me.”

“I supposed, from the way you spoke about Miss Robinette, that she was
safe at the rendezvous.”

“I don’t know how she should have got there. I supposed, from your
manner of speaking, that she was safe here, among the Crows; but the
old chief tells me that she has not been here. He says that none of his
people have ever attacked any party of white men, and that no white
scalps have been brought into the village.”

“Did he tell you nothing more?” asked Benning, as the Scotchman paused.

“He said that he had learned that they were Blackfeet who made the
attack upon our camp, and that he had no doubt that Miss Flora had been
carried off by them.”

“Was that all?”

“That was all. I am afraid that the old rascal has been lying to me.
Can you tell me whether he spoke the truth?”

“I suppose he did,” replied Benning, wondering at the reticence of Bad
Eye. “He ought to know whether his own people are clear.”

“He may know, but may be unwilling to speak the truth. Come, Benning; I
am convinced that you know more about this matter than you are ready to
tell. We are in the same boat, and you will lose nothing by rowing with
me. Do you know any thing about Miss Flora?”

“First answer me a question or two, and then I will tell you what I
know.”

“Shoot them out.”

“Will you promise to answer them truly?”

“I will, so help me God!”

“Do you know a man named Fred Wilder, whom the Indians call Silverspur?”

“Yes.”

“Has he been at the rendezvous lately?”

“Yes.”

“Did he not bring Miss Flora with him?”

“Miss Flora? No, indeed. Why do you ask such a question?”

“Did he say nothing about her?”

“Nothing at all. He remained with us a few days, and then went away
with a stray Indian.”

“Of what tribe was the Indian?”

“I think he was a Blackfoot.”

“It is plain enough now. I feared as much. We have both been cheated,
and Silverspur has carried off the prize.”

Benning then related his own adventures, and what he knew of those of
Flora, winding up his account by declaring that he had had no doubt
that the young lady had arrived safely at the rendezvous, until Laurie
had convinced him to the contrary. Both agreed in thinking it very
strange that Wilder had not spoken of Flora at the rendezvous, and
could only attribute his silence to the intention of foul play.

“The old chief told me the truth; then,” remarked Laurie, “and the
Blackfeet were the rascals who stampeded our camp. Do you think it
likely that that young chap, when he stole Miss Flora away from them,
would also have carried off the old man’s scalp?”

“Of course not. That is a strange question to ask.”

“To tell you the truth, Benning, I am interested in obtaining that
scalp. If you can manage to get it for me, by trading or in any other
way, I will resign my claim to Flora in your favor.”

“Of what use can the scalp be to you?” asked Benning, thinking that the
agent had suddenly become very generous.

“If you had known Paul Robinette as well as I knew him, you would have
known that he had some very queer points. One of his queer points was
the fear that he would be scalped. He could not bear to think that
his scalp should dry in an Indian lodge. He made me promise him most
solemnly that if he should be killed, I would recover his scalp, and he
gave me three thousand dollars as a fund to be applied to that purpose.
I have no need of the money, but I am a man of my word, George Benning,
and I will gladly transfer the amount to you if you will carry out the
wish of my old friend, and will deliver the scalp to me. As for Flora,
I don’t suppose that I am giving you much in that quarter. The desire
of her father would weigh with her, no doubt, and I have told you what
that was; but the young are not likely to mate with the old.”

“Nor the eagle with the buzzard,” thought Benning; but he did not put
his thought into words. It seemed to him that the Scotchman was rather
too generous, and he was silent, wondering what motive had urged this
strange proposition.

As he stood there, looking at Laurie, he felt a hand laid on his
shoulder. He turned, and was confronted by the Crow chief.

“I have heard the talk of my white friends,” he said. “They seem to
think that Silverspur is a bad man; but I know him. The sun may rise
in the west some day. When it does so, I may believe that the ways of
Silverspur are crooked; but not until then. In what direction did he go
after leaving the rendezvous?”

“I heard that he recrossed the mountains by way of the South Pass,”
replied Laurie. “He was seen traveling toward the south.”

“To the country of the Cheyennes, or the Arapahoes, or perhaps further.
Wherever he is, he can be found. Bad Eye has said that the scalp of the
white-haired chief shall not remain in a Blackfoot lodge, and the words
of Bad Eye are not wind. Let my young friend stay with me. As for you,
Red Hair, your tongue is not straight, and your talk does not please
me.”

Martin Laurie, rebuffed by the Crow chief, left the village in high
dudgeon, and George Benning remained, waiting impatiently for the
development of Bad Eye’s intentions.

Fred Wilder, after his involuntary leap, remained a long time
insensible. When he awoke, he thought that he might as well have
remained insensible. It was so dark that he could not see what sort of
a place he was in. If he had seen, he could have not explored it, as he
soon discovered that he was unable to move. He knew that his left leg
was broken, and he feared that his left arm was as badly injured. He
felt bruised and sore all over; but that was nothing; the wonder was
that he was alive.

As he could not get away, he tried to resign himself to his situation;
but the more he reflected upon it, the less resigned he became. The
Indians, believing that he had been killed by the fall, would surely
come to seek him as soon as it was light, and it would be impossible
for him to escape. All his peril and suffering would be for nothing, as
he would at last fall into their hands an unresisting victim.

Hours of darkness must have an end. Light will come, though suffering
does not cease. Daylight came to Fred Wilder; but he could not feel
that he ought to be thankful for it, as it would bring his enemies in
search of him. It enabled him to see the location into which his lot
and his body had fallen.

On one side was a precipice, so lofty that he shuddered as he thought
of his fearful fall from its brink. Just around him was a green and
grassy spot, upon the soft turf of which he had fallen. The grass
stretched toward the east, until it melted into the prairie. In all
other directions were ragged and rocky hills, beyond which towered
grand mountain ranges.

It was near the head of a ravine that the young man had fallen. A
crystal spring bubbled up near him, and its plentiful waters formed a
little stream, that ran laughing down the ravine. By the side of the
stream, a few steps from the wounded man, lay the body of the Indian
dog that had been the cause of his trouble. Wilder smiled grimly as he
looked at the dead animal.

“You are dead, then, you miserable little wretch,” he said. “There must
be what my old tutor used to call a providential dispensation in this.
I, who was the heaviest, have fallen upon a soft spot, and am alive.
You, who were the lightest, and the most likely to survive the fall,
struck your head upon a stone, and dashed out your wretched brains.
It follows, that you were in the wrong, and I was in the right. Your
death is a judgment upon you for having given me an overdose of bark.
Ah, well! I ought not to exult over you, as my fix will be worse than
yours.”

Having seen all that was within the range of his vision, Wilder had
nothing to do but to make himself as easy as possible, and to wait for
the coming of the Indians. This was unpleasant occupation, and he soon
fretted himself into such a weak and feverish state, that he fainted.

When he again opened his eyes, a rare vision greeted them. By his side
stood an Indian girl, who seemed to him, at that moment, the most
beautiful creature he had ever seen.

Her features were perfect, and her complexion was a delicate brunette,
very different from that of any forest maiden he had yet seen. She
had not the high cheek-bones peculiar to the aboriginal race, and her
nose was decidedly of the Grecian order. Her hair, too, though black
as the raven’s wing, was wavy, with a strong inclination to curl. Her
lips were rosy and rich, and there was an evident dimple on her chin;
but her large brown eyes, as they were opened to their widest, with
an expression of amazement and compassion, were to Wilder her most
wonderful feature.

He ran over these particulars with an artistic eye; but he had only an
instant to observe them, as the girl uttered a little startled scream
when he looked up at her, and turned to fly.

He called to her, in the Dahcotah dialect, as loudly as his weak state
would permit him to call; but his voice was very feeble. She stopped,
and after a little hesitation, came to him.

“I am wounded,” he said. “I fell from the top of that cliff last night,
and am badly hurt. I can not move.”

This appeal was sufficient to excite the sympathy of the girl. Telling
Wilder that she would soon return, she hastened away.

Within half an hour–though it seemed much longer to Wilder, who was
anxious to see her again, and who feared that the Indians might arrive
before she returned–she came back, accompanied by two men. One of
these was a negro, and the other was an old Indian, whose hair was as
white as snow, and whose face and hands and garments were painted with
strange devices.

They brought with them a sort of litter, upon which the wounded man was
laid very carefully and tenderly. The negro carrying one end of the
litter, and the old man and the girl the other, they ascended a steep
hill, and, after winding in and out among the rocks, came to a lodge,
made of skins stretched upon poles, at the foot of the cliff. They
entered the lodge, and Wilder saw nothing more. His rough journey had
exhausted him, and he fainted.

When he again awoke, he found himself in a dark apartment, lying upon a
couch of furs. From what the darkness permitted him to see, he judged
that the apartment was a cavern, or a portion of a cavern; but he was
not able to form any opinion of its shape or size.

He heard voices near him, which he believed to be those of the old
Indian and the girl; but he could see no one, and he concluded that
they were in another room. They were talking in the Indian tongue, of
which he understood enough to enable him to follow their conversation.

“It shall be as you say, my child,” said the old man; “but if I do this
thing, you must promise me that you will not leave me while I live.”

“You know that I have no wish to leave you, my father; but I will
promise; only save the life of this white man. It must be him whom the
warriors were chasing last night, when there was such a noise in the
direction of the village. He was nearly killed by the fall from that
cliff.”

“I will dress his wounds, and we will take care of him.”

“But the warriors will seek for him this morning. They will go to the
spot where we found him, to see his body and to take his scalp. Not
finding him there, they will follow our trail, and will come here.”

“It is true. He must be hid.”

“But where can he be hid? He is too weak to be moved.”

“He shall remain where he is, in the sacred room, which the warriors
never enter. I will tell them that the white man was killed by his
fall, and that I buried him. I found a scalp upon him, which I will
give to the warriors, and I will tell them that it is his scalp.”

The old man drew from the breast of his robe the scalp of Paul
Robinette, and showed it to the girl, who shuddered as she looked at it.

“But that is a gray scalp,” she said, “and this is a young man.”

“The warriors had not seen him, José tells me, and they do not know
whether he is young or old.”

“But this is not a fresh scalp. It is old, and the warriors will know
that they are imposed upon.”

“I will tell them that I have dried it, and they will believe me.”

“They always believe you. I now believe that the young man will be
safe. Do you think that he took that scalp–that he killed the man to
whom it belonged?”

“Why not?”

“He looks too good to take scalps.”

“I am afraid that it is because of his looks that Dove-eye wishes to
save his life.”

“Listen, my father! The warriors are coming!”

When the question of the gray scalp was brought up, Wilder felt a very
lively interest in the conversation. The possession of that article
seemed to him, at the moment, of more importance than the preservation
of his life. He was about to speak to his red friends and to demand the
restoration of the trophy, when the announcement that the warriors were
coming compelled him to hold his peace.

The announcement was immediately followed by the arrival of a large
party of Indians, whom he could easily hear as they entered the lodge,
talking volubly in their own tongue. A curtain of skins was let fall
over the opening of the apartment in which he lay, and he was left in
total darkness.

Darkness was favorable to meditation, and he soon convinced himself
that it was for the best to let the scalp go. If the hair of Paul
Robinette could save his own, that was probably the best use it could
be put to. Besides, if the Indians should discover him, they would
take his own scalp and that of the old trader, and he would be none the
better off for having kept it.

A great jabbering was kept up in the outer room for a while; but the
warriors seemed to be satisfied, as they soon left, and the man and the
girl came to his couch.

After a little conversation, in which Wilder informed his friends that
he had overheard their plan for saving his life, and thanked them for
their successful efforts, the old Indian sent away the girl, and called
in the negro. An examination of Wilder’s wounds was then made, and the
old man, to his great astonishment, set the broken limb in very good
style. His leg was properly bandaged, his bruises were attended to, and
he soon felt quite comfortable. His situation was so much better than
it had been at night, when he was lying on the ground alone, in pain,
and in expectation of death at the hands of merciless savages, that
he felt that he could desire nothing more, except the company of the
beautiful Indian girl.

She soon came, and another came with her. The room was so dark that
Wilder could not see her face or that of her companion; but he was sure
that the latter was a woman.

“Perhaps he is sleeping, and we had better not disturb him,” said
Dove-eye, as she came in.

“Oh no! I must see him and speak to him.”

Surely Wilder knew that voice. There was no mistaking its low, but
clear and melodious tones.

“Flora! Miss Robinette!” he exclaimed. “Can it be you?”

“And who are you, sir? Is it Mr. Wilder?”

“It is what is left of him.”

“You are badly wounded. Perhaps it was in trying to assist me that you
were injured. Let me have some light, Dove-eye. I must see him.”

“My sister knows him,” said the Indian girl. “Perhaps she loves him.”

“He has been very good to me, Dove-eye; but he is no lover of mine.”

The curtain was removed from the opening, and Wilder was able to
distinguish the faces of his friends, who seated themselves at his
side. Flora Robinette expressed the deepest sympathy when he related
the manner in which he had been injured, and was hardly less anxious
concerning White Shield. In response to his questions, she gave an
account of her adventures since she had parted from him the mountains.
The Arapahoes had brought her to their village, where she had been seen
by Dove-eye, who had taken such a fancy to her, that she had begged the
old medicine-man to bring her to his lodge. As he was easily persuaded
by her, and as his influence was great in the tribe, the request was
granted, and Flora had since been the constant companion of Dove-eye.
A warm affection had sprung up between the two, and Flora, although a
captive, had become somewhat reconciled to her captivity, as she was
happy in the friendship of the Indian girl.

Wilder, whose thoughts and eyes had been wandering to Dove-eye while
Flora was speaking, thanked her for her kindness, and could not avoid
calling to Flora’s remembrance an expression which he had used in
conversation with her.

“Do you remember that I said to you, that if you happened to have a
sister, and she happened to be as beautiful as yourself, and a little
older, and not quite so highly civilized, I might fancy her? If
Dove-eye was your sister, my words would now be verified.”

“But we are sisters; are we not, Dove-eye?” said Flora, taking the hand
of her companion.

“We are sisters,” replied the Indian girl, looking down and blushing.

Continue Reading

THE TEST OF FRIENDSHIP

When Wilder and his Blackfoot friend entered their lodge, the former
sat down without speaking. White Shield gazed at him for some time,
with a sort of admiring awe.

“My brother is very brave,” said the Indian. “He is almost too brave.
He has done a great thing to-day; but he came near losing his life. He
had better be careful what he does now; for Good Ax looked at him very
strangely, and the hearts of the warriors were hot.”

“White Shield is a true brother,” replied Wilder, as he grasped the
hand of his friend. “Silverspur will never forget how his brother stood
by him in danger. You tell me that I must be careful what I do; but
there is one thing that I must do. I must see the girl, the daughter of
the white-haired chief.”

The Indian shook his head, and was silent.

“I must see the girl,” repeated Wilder. “If you will help me, there
will be no trouble about it. When I say that I will do a thing, I mean
to do it.”

“I have told you that Good Ax means that she shall be his wife, and no
one can oppose the head chief. My brother had better be careful what he
does.”

“I tell you that I must see her, and I will see her. I only ask to see
her and speak with her. If my brother will not help me, I will help
myself.”

The Blackfoot sat in silence a few moments, looking strangely at his
friend.

“Wait for me,” he said, as he arose and left the lodge.

After the lapse of an hour, White Shield returned, and beckoned to
Wilder, who arose and followed him. They passed out of the village,
and came to a small stream, on each side of which was a fine growth of
timber. Entering the grove, White Shield pointed ahead of him.

“She is there,” he said. “I will wait for you, but will not hear you.”

As Wilder looked in the direction that was pointed out, he caught
sight of a woman’s dress, near the trunk of a large tree. He hastened
forward, and in a few moments was in the presence of Flora Robinette.

The young lady did not appear to be eager for the meeting. She did not
move from where she stood, and looked at him with wonder and something
of suspicion as he advanced and held out his hand.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“A friend.”

“I wish I could believe it. I was told by the Indian who brought me
here that, if I would wait, I would soon see one of my own race; but
he said that you were no longer a white man; that you had joined the
Blackfeet. What is your name?”

“I am called Fred Wilder; but it matters not what my name is. I am a
white man and a friend. The Indian hardly told you the truth. He has
taken a fancy to me, has adopted me as his brother, and has introduced
me to his people; but I am far from considering myself one of them.
This morning I saved two white men from death by fire, and I hope to be
able to save you. It is certain that I shall use my best endeavors to
do so. Before this I would have seen you; but I did not know that you
were a captive, until I saw the Indians dancing around the scalps of
your father and another man.”

“My father’s scalp! Good God! this is horrible. Did they tell you whose
it was?”

“They told me that it was his, and then I learned the particulars of
the attack upon his train.”

“There was another scalp, you say–what did it look like?” asked Flora,
with an accent and an air of painful interest.

“It was the scalp of a white man, and the hair was black, short and
curling.”

“It was not his,” muttered Flora, with a sigh of relief.

“Of whom are you speaking?”

“Of no one in particular–one of our party. I thought that some of my
friends might have followed the trail of the Indians. Do you know who
those two white men were whom you saved from burning?”

“I do not know their names. One was an Irishman, with red hair, and he
seemed to be dumb.”

“That might have been Dennis Regan; but he was any thing but dumb.”

“The other was a tall and lean man, with keen eyes, a crooked nose, and
a very solemn face.”

“That was surely the man whom my father called Pap Byers. How did they
happen to be captured?”

“They were trying to take horses from the Blackfeet, and were
surprised. One was killed, and two were made prisoners.”

“Was there no other? Did you hear nothing more?”

“One man escaped, and he had a wonderful escape, if I understood the
account of the Indians.”

“Who was he?”

“Really, Miss Robinette, you question me very closely concerning a
person whom I have not seen. From what I have heard of him, it is my
opinion that he was George Benning, one of Mr. Robinette’s partisans.”

“Thank God!” exclaimed Flora, as her emotions found vent in a flood of
tears.

“It is plain enough that this young lady loves George Benning,” thought
Wilder. “He is a fine fellow, and I can’t blame her. Here is no chance
for me to fall in love, if I wished to do so, and I don’t. She is very
pretty; in fact, she is beautiful; but it is evident that I must go
further before I find my fate.”

Flora advanced, and held out her hand.

“I hope you will pardon me,” she said, “if I have shown distrust of
you. My father always spoke so harshly of men who had joined the
Indians, that I have thought they must be very wicked men. I must trust
you. I have no one else to look to, and God knows that I am grateful
for your offers of assistance. Heaven has raised up a friend to me in
my time of trouble, and I am indeed thankful. Do you think that you can
deliver me from the hands of these savages?”

“I can try, and I hope you will not accuse me of boasting, when I say
that I generally succeed in what I undertake.”

“Would they kill me if I should fail to escape?”

“I think not; but they might do worse. I am told that the head chief
designs taking you into his family.”

“I have heard that white persons have sometimes been adopted by
Indians.”

“To speak plainly, he intends to adopt you as his wife.”

“May God preserve me from such a fate! What shall I do, Mr. Wilder?
Save me, and I will pray for you as long as I live! Tell me what can be
done.”

“You can do nothing, at present, but return to the village. You must
leave the rest to me, and I do not know what I shall do; but you may be
certain that I will do all that a man can do. Here comes the Indian to
take you back.”

White Shield approached, and signified to Flora that the interview
had lasted long enough, and that she must return to the village. She
accompanied him, and Wilder, by the direction of his friend, went to
his lodge, where he passed a sleepless night in trying to devise a plan
to release her from her captivity.

When the day broke, he had hit upon nothing that seemed to promise
success, and he walked out, in the hope that the morning air would give
him inspiration. In the course of his walk, he came to the conclusion
that, if he was to accomplish any thing, it must be with the assistance
of White Shield, and he resolved to throw himself upon the mercy of the
Indian.

When White Shield entered the lodge that morning, he found Wilder
seated on the ground, with his head buried in his hands, his attitude
and countenance denoting the deepest dejection.

“I am in great trouble,” he said, in answer to a question from the
Indian. “My heart is very sore.”

“Let my brother tell me his trouble. Perhaps I can help him.”

“No one can help me but you. If you do not help me, I can live no
longer. My brother, the daughter of the white-haired chief must not go
into the lodge of Good Ax. I must take her away from him. I must take
her away from the Blackfeet, and restore her to her people.”

“The Great Spirit has surely deprived my brother of his senses. He
speaks of something that can not be done.”

“It can be done, and it must be done. It can easily be done with your
help. Will you not help me?”

White Shield shook his head mournfully.

“Then I must die. I have pledged my word to the white maiden. I have
never yet broken my word, and, if I fail to keep it now, I can live no
longer.”

“Let my brother follow me,” said White Shield, as he arose, with
troubled looks, and walked out of the lodge.

Wilder followed him through the village, and out into the hills that
lay to the westward. The young warrior went on swiftly and in silence,
until he came to the brink of a precipice, that reached down, full
three hundred feet in a perpendicular line, to the plain below. Here he
stopped, and turned to his companion, with outstretched hand pointing
downward.

“Let my brother ask me to throw myself from this rock,” said he, “and I
will do it. I am ready to die for my brother, when he bids me go to the
spirit-land; but he asks more than death. If I should do what he asks
me to do, I must betray my people, and must leave them forever; for I
should be cast out from among them, and even my father and my brothers
would seek to kill me.”

Wilder exhausted his arguments upon his friend, telling him that,
if such a step were necessary, he would be no loser by severing his
connection with the tribe, as he would be taken to the village of the
white men, where he would be shown wonders without end, such as he
could never have believed to be possible. The warrior sadly shook his
head, and begged his brother to order him to throw himself from the
cliff.

“It is enough,” said Wilder, at last. “I can say no more. Here, White
Shield, is my rifle that shoots twice. I give it to you, and I know
that you will use it well. The pipe-holder, too, is yours. None like it
was ever seen among the Blackfeet. Take my powder-horn also, and keep
them all in remembrance of your brother.”

“What does my brother mean? Why has he given me these things?”

“I have no more use for them. I am going to the spirit-land. Keep them,
to remind you of Silverspur, whom you forced to die. I must break my
word, and I can live no longer. Farewell!”

Wilder stepped forward to the edge of the cliff, and threw up his hands.

With a sharp cry the Indian darted toward him, threw his arms around
him, lifted him up bodily, and carried him back to a distance from the
dangerous spot, where he laid him on the ground.

“Let my brother live!” said the warrior, as he kneeled by the side of
the white man. “I will do what he asks me to do, though he asks more
than my life. I will leave my people forever, and will follow him where
he chooses to lead me. Is my brother satisfied?”

Wilder could not help pitying the Indian, whose genuine emotion had
nearly overcome him; but he had gained his point, and he was satisfied.
The two returned to the village, where they shut themselves up in their
lodge, and made their arrangements for carrying away Flora Robinette.

During the day they selected five fleet horses–two for each of
themselves, and one for the young lady, and concealed them in the grove
where Wilder had his interview with Flora. They also secured sufficient
ammunition, and a good supply of provisions, which they concealed in
the same place.

After nightfall, when the village was quiet, White Shield set out
alone, directing his friend to go to the grove and wait for him.

As Wilder passed through the village, he saw a pole in front of the
medicine-lodge, from which were hanging the dried scalps of Mr.
Robinette and Sam Glass. Some strange impulse caused him to take the
gray scalp from the pole, and to thrust it into the bosom of his
hunting-shirt, the general receptacle of trappers for all odds and
ends. He then went to where the horses were concealed and waited for
the companions of his journey.

In a few moments they appeared, and Flora held out her hand to Wilder,
expressing regret for having distrusted him. He told her that they had
no time for words, that it was useless for her to thank him before he
had accomplished any thing, and that their present duty was to get away
from the Blackfeet as fast as possible.

They mounted, therefore, and rode swiftly toward the southwest until
they struck the main stream of the Missouri, which they followed in the
direction of the mountains.

After the failure of his horse-capturing expedition, the reflections of
George Benning were far from pleasant. He had not only met with poor
success is getting horses, but had lost his three companions. His own
escape had been wonderful, his life having been in the greatest peril,
and he was sure that a horrible death would be the fate of those who
had been taken. His only consolation was in the thought that he had
done all in his power to render the expedition a success, and that it
had not failed through any fault of his own. If he could blame himself
for any thing, it was only for having taken Dennis Regan as one of his
party.

He found himself alone, and further than ever from the object which
he had undertaken, the rescue of Flora Robinette. He still had his
strength and his weapons, and had a good horse under him; but what
could one man do against a tribe of Indians? He had no thought,
however, of giving up the search; but was determined to persevere, if
it should take a lifetime, until he could recover the lady of his love,
or learn her fate.

He rode on until he was satisfied that the Indians did not intend to
pursue him any further, when he halted by the side of a wooded stream.
Here he kindled a little fire, cooked and ate his supper, and, after
tethering his horse, wrapped himself in his blanket, and lay down to
sleep.

It was long before sleep visited his eyelids; but when it did come it
seemed that it would never leave him. He was awoke, at last, by some
strange sounds, which had formed part of his dreams. Starting up, he
perceived that it was broad daylight, and that he was surrounded by a
group of Indians. Many others could be seen in the timber and on the
plain, and a number of horses were feeding along the stream.

There was no chance to escape, if he had thought it advisable to make
the attempt. A brief glance showed him, however, that these Indians
were Crows, who were generally considered friendly to the white men,
although Pap Byers had been certain that they were Crows who had made
the attack upon Mr. Robinette’s encampment.

If he had any doubts, they were soon dispelled by one of the chiefs,
who approached him, and greeted him kindly, asking how he happened to
be there alone.

As it was possible that the opinion of Byers might have been correct,
Wilder thought it best to say nothing concerning the disaster to Mr.
Robinette’s expedition. He stated that he, with three companions, had
been endeavoring to recover some horses that had been taken from them
by the Blackfeet; that they were caught in the attempt, and his friends
had been killed or captured, while he had made a narrow escape from his
pursuers.

The chief informed him, in return, that they were a war-party, who had
set out for the purpose of taking some horses or scalps, and asked how
far it was to the Blackfoot village.

Wilder replied that it was distant not more than two hours’ ride, and
pointed out the direction in which he supposed it to lie. At the same
time he proffered his services to the Crows, if they should attack the
Blackfeet, hoping that his friends had been captured, and that he might
be able to rescue them.

Spies were sent to reconnoiter the village, and the Crows staid where
they were during the remainder of the day. Toward evening the spies
came in, and reported that the village consisted of about two hundred
lodges, but there did not seem to be many warriors in it.

The Crow chief waited for another band, that was expected the next
day. On their arrival, he divided his warriors into two parties, one
of which was to attack the village from the west, and the other from
the east. Shortly after dark they had reached their stations; but their
approach had been discovered, and the surprise was not as perfect as
they hoped to make it. They charged in, however, and, after a brief
struggle, drove their adversaries from the village.

Those of the Blackfeet warriors who survived this contest, together
with their women and children, took refuge in a dense thicket, where
they fortified themselves as well as they could, and defended the
position with the obstinacy of despair.

While the efforts of the Crows were devoted to dislodging their enemies
from this refuge, George Benning hastened through the village in search
of his late companions.

He soon found Pap Byers and Dennis Regan. They had been left in an open
lodge, guarded by two Indians. When their guards had been killed or
driven away, they came out, and found themselves at liberty.

Byers was very thankful for his deliverance and expressed gratitude
quite warmly; but the Irishman remained silent. Instead of replying to
the questions that Benning addressed to him, he only shook his head,
and pointed to his tongue.

“What is the matter with Denny?” asked the partisan, in surprise.

“The critter has gone dumb,” replied Byers. “When I told him that the
red-skins allowed to burn us, he swore that he wouldn’t speak a word
for six months, if he could git out of the scrape. I thought the durned
fool was jokin’; but it seems he was in ‘arnest, as he has helt out so
fur without speakin’.”

“If he had made that resolution earlier, it would have been better for
all of us. How did it happen that you were not burned?”

“The red-skins took us out to roast us. They tied us to stakes and
built a fire around us. It was all up with this child, I allowed, and
the fire was jest beginnin’ to scorch, when a white man stepped in and
scattered the fire, and swore that they shouldn’t burn us while he
lived.”

“I should think he would not have been likely to live long, after that.”

“I tell ye, cap’n, he skeered ’em. Some of them red-skins nearly turned
white. Thar was some talk, and then a lot of red-skins j’ined the white
man, and thar was a right smart chance fur a big row; but it quieted
down arter a bit, and then they turned us loose.”

“It is very strange. It is seldom that a white man gains such
influence among the Blackfeet. Do you know who he was?”

“They called him Silverspur. He was young, but a right smart chance of
a man.”

“Silverspur? I have heard of him; in fact, I have seen him. His name is
Wilder, if I remember rightly. He is a brave man, and fine-looking, but
of an unsettled disposition. It would not surprise me if he had joined
the Blackfeet. If he has, they will not keep him long. What has become
of Sam Glass?”

“He was killed in the scrimmage. The red-skins danced over his scalp
and Mr. Robinette’s the night they took us.”

“Mr. Robinette’s?”

“Yes, sir. I was mistooken about its bein’ the Crows who raised the old
man’s ha’r. They were Blackfeet who pounced onto us.”

“Did they carry away Miss Flora, or was she killed? Have you heard any
thing about her?”

“She was here; but she’s gone now; and that’s why you had sech an easy
time whippin’ this village of Blackfeet. Ef it hadn’t been fur her, the
job would hev been a leetle tougher, I reckon.”

“How so? What do you mean?”

“I heerd the red-skins torkin’ about it. That white man, Silverspur,
kerried her off last night, and one of the red-skins went with him.
Leastways, she was missin’, and so war those two men. Thar was a big
hullabaloo raised this mornin’, as the head chief had sot his eye on
her fur a wife, and they war mad, too, about the red-skin goin’ off
with Silverspur. A right smart chance of warriors mounted and rode off
arter ’em, and that’s how thar warn’t many in the village when you
came.”

“Was she willing to go with that–with Silverspur?”

“How do I know? I reckon she was, as she mought easy enough hev staid
here, whar a thousand red-skins wanted to keep her.”

“Of course. I ought not to have asked such a question. When did the
warriors start?”

“The sun was nigh an hour high when they got off.”

“Shouldn’t wonder if the cap’n has gone crazy,” muttered Byers, as
George Benning hastened away, in search of the chief who commanded the
war-party of the Crows.

He had met him returning from the thicket in which the remaining
Blackfeet had taken refuge. In their efforts to dislodge their enemies
from that position, the Crows had sustained serious loss, and had
concluded that the game was not worth the candle. They had abandoned
the siege, therefore, and were about to collect the horses of the
Blackfeet, preparatory to returning home.

It was Benning’s belief that the Blackfeet warriors who had gone in
pursuit of Silverspur and his companions would be likely to overtake
the fugitives, in which event they would at once return to their
village. He hoped to be able to induce the Crows to follow their trail,
and meet them as they came back. They would thus easily gain another
victory, which ought to be, as he supposed, a sufficient inducement for
them to do as he wished them to.

But the Crow, when Benning presented this view of the case to him,
steadily refused to do any thing of the kind. His party had come but
for a special purpose, he said. That purpose had been accomplished, and
it was their duty to return. Besides, several warriors had been lost in
the attack upon the Blackfeet in the thicket, and it was their custom,
when such a misfortune had befallen a war-party, to return immediately
to their village, and to mourn for the fallen before attempting any
other achievement.

All the arguments that Benning could use were ineffectual to change the
determination of the chief, and he declared his intention of following
the trail alone, in the hope that chance might in some way give him an
opportunity of aiding Flora Robinette.

From this he was dissuaded by Pap Byers and the chief. The former
represented to him that he would be unable to do any thing alone, and
the latter advised him to accompany the warriors to the Crow village.
He might there represent the case, the chief said, to Bad Eye, the
chief of the village, who would be sure to sympathize with him, and
would probably place a body of warriors under his control, for an
expedition against the Blackfeet.

These arguments were so strongly advanced, and appeared so reasonable,
that Benning reluctantly consented to accompany the Crow warriors, and
set out with a heavy heart.

It must be said, although George Benning would not have liked to make
the admission, that he felt very ill at ease concerning the company in
which Flora Robinette had left the Blackfeet. He had hoped to rescue
her himself; but another had been before him, and that other was a
handsome, brave, and impulsive fellow, who might be as energetic and
victorious in love as Benning knew him to be in war. What could be more
likely than that he should fall in love with fair Flora Robinette, and
what better opportunity could a man have for pressing his suit, than
just when he had rescued the lady of his love from captivity among
savages?

The more Benning thought of this, the more it troubled him. From what
he had seen and heard of Fred Wilder, he had formed a high opinion of
him; but he now began to torture himself with doubts and suspicions,
which were not flattering to the character of Silverspur. If that
person should succeed in getting Flora safely out of the clutches of
the Blackfeet, there was no knowing what mean advantage he might take
of her position and his achievement. Benning had never declared his
love to Flora. He had thought that she had perceived it, and he had
seen indications that led him to hope that his love was returned; but
that was all. It would be only natural, if Wilder should address her,
that she should feel herself bound in honor to listen favorably to
the man who had saved her from a fate that might have been worse than
death. It was highly probable, indeed, that she would consent to marry
him, if she found that no objection could be urged against him.

These thoughts troubled the young partisan so much, that he had little
rest during his journey with the Crows, and he was glad indeed when
they reached their village.

When the ceremony of reception was over, and while the whole village
was lamenting for the fallen braves, he sought the head chief, Bad Eye,
to whom he told his story, declaring that he believed Flora Robinette
to be still in the possession of the Blackfeet, and beseeching aid to
deliver her from their hands.

Bad Eye was a fine-looking Indian, considerably past middle age,
differing somewhat in features from the rest of the Crows, if not
in color. His left eye was sightless, from which peculiarity he had
received his cognomen; but the remaining eye was unusually bright and
keen.

He listened to Benning’s tale very attentively, and the partisan,
knowing the usually stolid nature of the Indian character, was
surprised at the emotion which he manifested.

“The white-haired chief, then, is dead,” he said. “Some worse men
have died, and many better men. He was hard in his dealings with the
red-men, but did not treat them as badly as some traders have done.
The Blackfeet must not keep his scalp, to dry in their lodges, if
Bad Eye can take it from them. But his daughter is safe, I think. I
know something of Silverspur, and I know that he always does what he
undertakes to do. I must think of this matter. I can do nothing without
consulting the counselors. When I know what to do, I will tell you.”

Benning was obliged to be satisfied with this answer, and he waited
impatiently to learn the intentions of the chief.

Flora Robinette, with her white and red companions, rode rapidly away
from the Blackfeet. It was her wish, as Wilder had ascertained, that
she might be taken direct to her father’s usual trapping rendezvous,
on the head-waters of Green River. In accordance with this wish, they
soon crossed the Missouri, and shaped their course toward the south,
intending to keep near the hills, in order to avoid wandering parties
of Crows or other Indians.

White Shield, with a gloomy countenance, led the way, seldom speaking
unless he was spoken to. Wilder and Flora followed, with little to say
to each other.

The Blackfoot came to the conclusion, in the course of the night, that
it would be better to cross the mountains at a pass near the waters
of the Missouri than to remain on the eastern side of the range. The
route, therefore, was again changed toward the west.

When morning came, they halted to prepare some food. Flora was so
exhausted by loss of sleep, and by the long and rapid ride of the
night, that she needed rest; but she was so fearful and excited that
she was unable to snatch a few moments’ sleep. She sat by the fire, and
conversed with Wilder, while White Shield, moody and meditative, sat
apart, and smoked in silence.

“I hope you have forgiven me,” she said, “for distrusting you when
you first offered me your assistance. I heard that you had joined the
Blackfeet, and I was afraid of you.”

“Perhaps you were afraid that I would fall in love with you, and that
I would try to push George Benning from the throne. You need not have
entertained such a fear, as it is not at all likely that I will fall in
love with you.”

“That is consoling, if not complimentary.”

“You are beautiful enough, no doubt; but I believe I am proof against
beauty. If you happened to have a sister, and if she happened to be
as beautiful as yourself, and a little older, and not quite so highly
civilized, I might fancy her; but you are not wild enough, Miss
Robinette, for Fred Wilder.”

“Unfortunately, I have no sister. I hardly know for which I ought to
be the most grateful, for my deliverance from the Indians, or for your
kindness in not falling in love with me.”

“It must be a satisfaction to know that you have not jumped out of the
frying-pan into the fire. But this is too serious a subject to joke
about, Miss Robinette. You are not safe yet. It is a long journey to
the rendezvous, and God only knows what enemies we may meet before we
reach it. The Blackfeet, too, will be likely to follow us; but I hope
we have too good a start to let them overtake us.”

“We ought to make sure that we escape, at least. Ought we not to
continue our journey?”

“I suppose we must, if you really can not rest. My Blackfoot brother
seems to be getting uneasy.”

In fact, White Shield came up at that moment, and told them that they
must delay no longer, that Good Ax and his warriors would be on their
trail, and that it was necessary to cross the mountains before they
should be overtaken. They mounted, accordingly, and set forward at a
smart pace.

A few hours’ ride found them fairly within the hills, and they halted
on the summit of the highest they had reached, for a brief rest.

Their rest was very brief. The Blackfoot, looking back on their trail,
pointed out to Wilder some dark objects that were speeding across
the plain in the distance. It was soon evident that the dark objects
were men on horseback, and that they were following the trail of the
fugitives.

The white and red friends looked at each other. They knew that those
Indians were Blackfeet who were bent upon their capture, and their
looks denoted a determination to die rather than be taken.

“What shall we do, White Shield?” asked Wilder. “For my part, the
Blackfeet shall not take me alive. I will fight them to the last.”

“White Shield will fight with his brother. He can do nothing else. The
Blackfeet hate me worse than they hate you. If we were only men, we
might escape; but we have a woman with us, and she is now very tired.”

Flora Robinette, who had listened to the conversation, and who had seen
the approaching enemies, begged her friends to make haste to escape
while there was time to do so. She was not tired, she said. She could
ride as fast as they wished to ride, and they need not be afraid that
she would hinder them.

“There is but one thing to do,” said the Blackfoot. “The pass is a
difficult one, and there is a place at which one man can defend it
against a hundred. We will stop there, my brother, and will fight.”

“Let us make haste, then, and reach it.”

The lapse of an hour found them in a narrow defile in the heart of the
mountains. With difficulty they forced their horses up a steep incline,
to the summit of the declivity, beyond which the trail was broad and
easy. The Indian stopped and looked back, pointing down the defile.

“There are not enough warriors with Good Ax,” said he, “to take this
pass, while it is defended by one brave man.”

“But they might surround us,” replied Wilder, “or they might starve us
out in time.”

“I shall not stay here long enough to get hungry; but we will gain
time. I will defend the pass, while my white brother and sister ride on
and get far from their enemies.”

“You will do no such thing, White Shield. We can not allow you to
sacrifice yourself for us, or to fight the Blackfeet, who are your
brothers.”

“I am no longer their brother.”

“But you must not fight them. I will defend the pass, while you ride
forward with Miss Robinette. You need not object, for I am determined
that it shall be so. Is there any way by which the Blackfeet can get
behind me?”

“There is a way; but it would take them several hours to get behind
you.”

“Ride on, then, and I will keep them off as long as I can. Don’t be
afraid, Miss Flora. You may safely trust yourself with my brother.”

The Indian reluctantly consented to this arrangement, and pointed to a
white-topped peak, far to the westward.

“The trail is plain enough,” said he, “and it leads to that peak. If
you do not find us there, you will find an arrow, to show you which way
we have gone.”

Flora rode away with the Indian, after a few words of encouragement
from Wilder, who then set himself at work to strengthen his position.

His first care was to collect a number of bowlders, as large as he
could lift or roll. These he placed at the head of the declivity,
blocking up the defile, until the pile was breast high.

This done, and the condition of his rifle and ammunition carefully
examined, he sat down to fortify his inner man, while he calmly awaited
the approach of the Blackfeet.

It was about noon when he heard them coming, and soon he saw them, and
was able to count them, as they entered the defile. They were twenty
in number, including the chief, who was conspicuous in the advance.
All had led horses, so that they could change when the animals they
rode became weary, which accounted for the rapidity with which they had
followed in pursuit.

On they came, urged forward by the chief, uttering guttural
exclamations as they forced their animals up the incline.

It must be said, to the credit of Fred Wilder, that he was unwilling to
cause the death of any of the red-men whose hospitality he had lately
shared, unless self-defense should compel him to do so. He hailed them,
therefore, and ordered them to halt.

A parley ensued between him and Good Ax, by whom he was at once
recognized. The chief demanded that Flora Robinette and White Shield
should be given up, promising the white man that he would be allowed to
go his way. Wilder declared that nothing of the kind should be done,
adding that his red brother and the lady were far beyond pursuit. If
the Blackfeet attempted to force the pass, he said, they would do it at
the peril of their lives. As he did not wish to hurt them, he advised
them to go home.

Good Ax was so enraged that he ordered an immediate attack. The
Blackfeet led their horses down the slope, to be out of the way, and
rushed up to the assault; but Wilder was ready for them.

Having arranged his bowlders for immediate use, he sent one of them
whirling down the declivity, and followed it with another. The Indians,
unable to escape the ponderous missiles that came bounding and
thundering among them, screamed and yelled like demons, and all who
were able to do so made a precipitate retreat.

Wilder took advantage of the pause that ensued, to again advise them
to go home, assuring them that it went quite against his grain to harm
his good friends, the Blackfeet. A volley of execrations was the only
answer he received, and the Indians, unwilling to face the rolling
stones, sought such cover as they could find, hoping to pick him off
with their guns.

Safe behind his barricade, Wilder watched their proceedings very
composedly, not deigning to reply to their fire unless they showed a
disposition to approach him, when a well-directed shot from his rifle
warned them to keep their distance.

Affairs continued in this condition for upward of half an hour, and the
young man was beginning to wonder when there would be a change, when he
was startled by a slight noise above him, and a piece of stone fell at
his feet. Knowing that there must be some cause for such an effect,
he looked up, and saw an Indian clinging to the side of the rock, and
another making his way in the same direction. They had gone thus far
unobserved; but the foremost had stepped on a narrow ledge, which had
shaken under his weight, causing him to utter a slight exclamation.

Seeing the looseness of the ledge, Wilder pried it out from the main
rock with his tomahawk, and it fell with a crash, dropping the Indian
at his feet. It took Wilder but an instant to dispatch this foe with
his tomahawk, and then, seizing his rifle, he shot down the other, who
was still clinging helplessly to the face of the cliff.

The Blackfeet, who had counted on the attempt of their two braves to
divert the attention of Wilder from their main attack, rushed fiercely
up the defile, but soon found that he was not to be taken unawares.
Rolling over two of his bowlders, he sent them crashing down among his
assailants, sweeping them away at a serious loss of life and limb.

Then came another season of comparative quiet, which lasted until
Wilder began to suspect that the Indians, or a portion of them, had
gone around by the route which White Shield had spoken of, with the
intention of getting in his rear. Reconnoitering as well as he could,
he came to the conclusion that his suspicions were correct, and that it
would be best for him to make his exit as speedily as possible.

Collecting more bowlders, he piled them up in front of him, jamming
them in for the purpose of blocking up the defile as well as he could,
and of concealing his movements from the enemy. As he would have
several hours’ start of the Blackfeet who had gone around, he had
nothing to fear but from those who might have been left in front to
watch him. It would probably be some time, he calculated, before the
latter would discover that he had evacuated the position. Then it would
take them half an hour to get up the slope with their horses, and about
as much longer to demolish his barricade. This would give him plenty of
time to get out of the way.

He quietly led his horses down to the plain and broad trail, where
he mounted and rode off at a gallop. He did not slacken his speed,
except when he stopped to change from one horse to the other, as he was
anxious to reach before night the peak which White Shield had pointed
out to him. It was further off than he had supposed it to be, and it
was dusk when he found himself at its base.

He was soon convinced that White Shield and Flora were not in the
vicinity, and he found, after a little search, a split stick with an
arrow stuck in it, pointing toward the south. They could not have got
very far ahead of him, he thought, and he hoped that he might be able
to overtake them where they had stopped to rest for the night.

He rode on; but he soon learned that following their trail was slow
work to a man in the saddle, although the moon was shining. He then
took his course by the stars, and rode south at a gallop, believing
that he could not go far out of the way, and every minute expecting to
overtake his friends.

He rode until the night was half gone, and the moon was down, without
seeing a sign of a human being. Sure that he must have overtaken them
if he was on the right track, and being greatly fatigued, he deemed it
best to camp where he was for the night, and to hunt for the trail in
the morning.

He tethered his horses, wrapped himself in his blanket, and laid down
to sleep. Thoughts of his missing friends troubled him for a while; but
they were soon swallowed up in a deep and dreamless slumber.

Continue Reading

ASTONISHING THE BLACKFEET

“Hurrah for Oregon! says I. That’s the place for Denny, and mesilf is
the boy who is bound to have a good shlice av the fine lands, and who
has a better right?”

“What’s the fool talkin’ about? Thar’s no sech place as Oregon, greeny.
That kentry thar is called Oregon, and it’s an Injun name, I reckon.”

“An Injun name! The ignorance av yez! It was named for Michael O’Regan,
who first diskivered it, as ye might read in the histories, if ye could
read at all. He was an Irishman, from the county Donegal, and was me
grandfather’s first cousin on the mother’s side. We dhropped the O’
whin we kim across the say; but that don’t hindher me from claimin’ a
shlice av the fine lands that once belonged to me grandfather’s cousin.”

“I don’t believe a word of it, Denny Regan. Of all the liars that were
ever turned loose in this yere kentry, I reckon you are about the
infarnalest.”

“Is it a liar ye are callin’ me, Misther Pap Byers? Ye’ve got it to
take back, or feel the edge av me knife.”

“You had better shut up, both of you. Captain Benning gave orders that
there should be no talkin’ around the camp to-night, and he’ll give
you a proper good blowin’ up if he ketches you at it. Here he is, by
thunder!”

The first speaker was Dennis Regan, a young Irishman, who, although
he had turned trapper, had not discarded his brogue with his brogans,
or his natural character with his corduroys. The second was John
Byers, commonly called Pap Byers, a middle-aged free trapper, of long
experience on the plains and in the mountains. In person he was tall,
gaunt, sinewy and solemn, while the Irishman was short and stout,
with fat cheeks and a merry face. The third speaker was Sam Glass, a
hired trapper, in the employ of Mr. Robinette, the fur-trader to whose
company all were attached.

Captain Benning, who came up just as Sam Glass mentioned his name,
was a tall young man, well built and fine looking, with an appearance
of activity, nerve and daring. He was one of the leaders of the party
under Mr. Robinette, and was regarded as an excellent “partisan.”

“What is the meaning of this noise?” asked the captain, frowning upon
the group. “Don’t you know that orders were given to keep the camp
quiet to-night?”

“It was Denny Regan here,” replied Pap Byers. “The durned fool was
tryin’ to make us believe that Oregon was diskivered by an Irishman,
and named arter him.”

“And this ould sinner called me a liar, capt’in dear, and that’s what
ye wouldn’t like to be called yersilf.”

“No matter who began it, or what it was about; it must be stopped.
There are Indians all around us, and they may be down upon us at any
moment. I have been obliged to leave my patrol to come and put a
stop to your noise, and there is no telling what may happen during
my absence. Hark! I believe something is already the matter with the
horses.”

In an instant the attitude and air of the four men were changed. With
countenances expressive of anxiety, they leaned forward, listening
intently to catch the slightest sound that might indicate an alarm.

“You’re right thar, cap’n!” exclaimed Byers, seizing his rifle and
jumping up; “the red-skins are among the hosses.”

All rushed toward the camp, to give the alarm, and to search for the
wily enemy; but they were too late.

The horses were already stampeded, and came bursting through the camp
like an avalanche, overthrowing every thing before them. After them,
with terrific yells and whoops, poured a crowd of half-naked savages,
splendidly mounted, galloping like mad after the frightened herd.

Captain Benning and his companions fired at the Indians, and a few
straggling shots from the camp showed that some attempt at defense was
made there; but the furious rush of the animals prevented any thing
like an organized resistance. It is probable that the assailants had
not intended, at first, any thing more than a stampede; but the route
taken by the horses had thrown the camp into such confusion, that the
massacre and plunder of the party of white men seemed to follow as a
matter of course.

The voices of the leaders were heard, far above the din, directing the
movements of their followers. A few of the warriors rode on after the
herd, to keep the animals together and guide their course; while the
others turned and dashed upon the scattered and bewildered whites,
hoping to slay them before they could recover from their confusion.

But a party of more than thirty mountain men was not to be so easily
discomfited. The hardy trappers and hunters, accustomed to savage
combats, availing themselves of the shelter of the wagons and packs,
stood gallantly on the defensive, loading and firing their rifles with
a rapidity and precision that soon checked the fury of the onset. The
savages, who fought at a disadvantage on horseback, were in their turn
thrown into confusion and forced back.

Again the voices of the leaders rung out, and a portion of the warriors
dismounted, to renew the combat on foot, while others circled around
the wagons, for the purpose of driving the trappers from their defenses.

The white men were quickly outflanked, and were gradually forced back,
until they were compelled to take refuge in a thicket, leaving the camp
in the possession of their assailants.

Having accomplished this much, the savages, as has sometimes happened
to more civilized warriors, made a poor use of their victory. Instead
of pursuing their advantage, part of them fell to plundering the camp
and securing the scalps of the slain.

It was at this juncture that Benning and his companions, who had been
compelled to make a circuit in order to find their friends, reached
the camp, and poured in a volley upon the flank of the savages. The
trappers in the thicket, profiting by this diversion in their favor,
rushed out, and charged boldly upon the enemy. A few volleys from their
terrible rifles changed the face of affairs, and the savages were soon
flying from the camp as swiftly as they had entered it. Being unable to
pursue them, from lack of horses, the trappers collected in the midst
of the ruins, vowing vengeance against the midnight marauders.

Out of thirty-five men, six had been killed outright, including Mr.
Robinette, the head of the expedition. It was impossible to say how
many lives had been lost on the side of the Indians, as they had
carried off all their dead and wounded, besides a large amount of
plunder. A few of the remaining white men were wounded, but none
severely.

After a hurried survey of the field, the question arose by what means
the savages had been enabled to creep upon the camp without being
observed. Angry recriminations ensued, and hard words seemed likely to
lead to hard blows.

“Perhaps you can tell us who was at fault, Captain Benning?” said Mr.
Laurie, the principal agent of Mr. Robinette. “You should know, if any
man knows.”

“What good will it do to argue that matter now?” tartly replied
Benning. “Somebody was careless, of course, and perhaps I might put my
finger on the man; but of what use would that be now? The mischief has
been done, and no one knows the extent of it yet. Has anybody seen Miss
Flora?”

The faces of all changed, and greater consternation than they had yet
shown was now visible among the rough trappers.

Flora Robinette was the only child of her father, a beautiful
dark-haired and dark-eyed girl of nineteen. Since the death of her
mother, the trader had been so strongly attached to her, that it had
seemed almost impossible for him to separate himself from her. As it
was part of the object of this expedition to establish a post west of
the Rocky Mountains, at which he expected to spend the greater part of
his time, he had at last yielded to her entreaties, and permitted her
to accompany him and share his home in the wilds. He believed that his
party was strong enough to furnish a safe escort, and that she could be
in no danger when the post was established. Her only hardships, as he
supposed, would be such as would result from traveling over the plains,
and from deprivation of the comforts and luxuries of civilization; but
these she had professed herself able and willing to endure.

She had endured them, so far, without grumbling, and with all apparent
cheerfulness. She had manifested, also, a spirit of daring and love of
adventure, together with a real delight in the fresh air and free life
of the plains, that had charmed the rough men into whose company she
was thrown, and rendered her the idol of them all. It was no wonder
that their cheeks blanched when they were asked if they had seen her.

No one _had_ seen Flora Robinette since the commencement of the fray.
At the usual hour she had retired to the wagon in which she slept, and
was supposed to have been there when the horses were stampeded and
broke through the camp; but an examination showed that the wagon was
empty.

On the ground, near the wagon, lay the body of her father, his head,
from which the gray hair on the top had been stripped, surrounded by a
pool of his own blood; but no trace of Flora could be found. A careful
search was made by the disheartened trappers; but it disclosed nothing.
They could only suppose that she had been awakened by the tumult, had
looked out of the wagon, and had thus been espied by the Indians, who
would lose no time in taking possession of such a prize. It was certain
that she had disappeared, leaving no trace.

When the fruitless search was ended, a great change had come over
George Benning. He stood like a statue, silent and motionless, and one
would have thought, from the expression of his countenance, that every
thing that was worth living for in the world had been taken from him.
His demeanor was so strange, that Martin Laurie, the agent, took him
aside and spoke with him.

Laurie was a Scotchman, whose age might have been anywhere between
forty and forty-five. He had the sandy hair, red eyes and watery
complexion peculiar to many of his race; but was not really
ill-looking. He was sedate and precise, a shrewd and methodical man of
business, and as such had been highly esteemed by Mr. Robinette.

“What is the matter with you, Benning?” he asked. “You act very
strangely, and you look as if you had lost all the friends you had in
the world. Can it be possible that the death of Mr. Robinette affects
you so strongly?”

“No. He was a good man, and I respected him highly; but I have no
special reason to grieve for him.”

“It must be, then, that it is the loss of Miss Flora that troubles you.”

“I confess it. If she had been killed, it would have been relief to
know it; but she has been carried away, we know not where, and it is
terrible to think of the fate that may be reserved for her.”

“You seem to take it harder than any of the rest of us, although you
are in no way related to her. I have noticed, during this journey, that
you were much interested in Miss Flora, and I intended to tell you, as
I now must, that it was her father’s wish that she should become my
wife.”

“Indeed! Was she aware of it?”

“I don’t know that she was. She was an only child, as you know, and Mr.
Robinette was possessed of considerable property. It was his desire
that she should marry a careful and prudent man of business, such as
he considered me to be, who would take care that her means were not
wasted.”

“Be that as it may, Mr. Laurie–and I do not mean to dispute your
word–it is useless to say any more about it now. She is gone, and it
is doubtful if either of us will be permitted to see her again in this
world. There is a chance, however, that she may still be living. I mean
to search for her, and shall never abandon the search while life is
left to me. I will not hinder you, of course, from devoting yourself to
the same object, if you wish to do so.”

“Now that Mr. Robinette is dead, it is my duty, under his instructions,
to take this party on to the rendezvous west of the mountains, and
follow the plan that he had formed for this season’s work. If I can do
any thing to help you, I will gladly do it.”

“I only ask for three men.”

“You may take any three who are willing to follow you. If you succeed,
I suppose you will join us at the rendezvous.”

“I hardly dare to hope for success. I can only say that I will do my
best.”

When Laurie and Benning returned to the trappers, they found them
inquiring what Indians they were that had made the attack.

“They were Blackfeet, I suppose,” said Benning. “How can there be any
doubt about it?”

“Easy enough, cap’n,” replied Byers. “Do Blackfeet wear Crow blankets
and moccasins?”

“No.”

“We have found a Crow blanket and a Crow moccasin on this yere ground,
and that settles the p’int, I reckon.”

“But the Crows are the friends of the white men, and never attack them.”

“Wal–I ain’t so sartin of that as you seem to be. I know that they
steal white men’s hosses, and thar’s no end to an Injun’s devilment,
nohow.”

Some of the party were of the opinion that the assailants had been
Blackfeet; but the majority sided with Byers, convinced by the Crow
blanket and moccasin.

The next morning, after the bodies of the dead had been buried, Laurie
and his party pushed on with the train toward the west, and Benning set
off on the trail of the midnight assailants, accompanied by Pap Byers,
Sam Glass and Dennis Regan. They were on foot, as no horses had been
left except such as were absolutely necessary for the train; but they
hoped soon to be able to secure a remount.

The prairie was limitless. As far as the eye could see, and as much
further as fancy cared to picture, it spread out like an ocean, endless
and eternal. In wave upon wave of many-colored luxuriance, it rolled
onward, until all color melted into the purplish hue of the horizon.
There was, it is true, a thin line of low cottonwoods, marking the
course of some little creek; but that might have been a mere coral
reef in the ocean, or a swath of drifting seaweed. There were, also,
two small islands of trees in the distance; but islands are necessary
to prove the existence of ocean. Far away to the westward could be
dimly descried the shadowy outlines of lofty mountains; but their snowy
peaks, resting among the clouds, could not be distinguished from the
clouds, and fancy could easily suppose that the prairie rolled under
and beyond them, instead of bathing their rough feet in its flowery
waves. As well as vision could decide, the prairie was a limitless
ocean.

Only a speck in this vast ocean was the figure of a man on horseback,
riding toward the west. He rode slowly, almost listlessly, seeming
absorbed in the beauty of the variegated landscape, given up to the
sweet influences of the exhilarating and odorous atmosphere.

A fine specimen of a man was this rider, whose age might have been
a few years on the sunny side of thirty. He was fully six feet in
hight, well formed and athletic, with features that a woman would
call handsome, in spite of his bronzed skin. His gray eyes were keen
and restless; his chestnut hair, worn long, after the fashion of the
Indians and trappers, flowed down upon his shoulders in wavy masses;
his mouth was well cut, shaded by a silky mustache; and his beard,
long and full, had the same rich color as his hair. His hunting-shirt
and leggings were of the finest dressed deer-skin, and were richly and
tastefully ornamented. His moccasins, also, showed the patient labor
of some Indian woman, and must have cost the wearer a good quantity
of trinkets or of scarlet cloth, if, indeed, they had not been a
love-gift. His pipe-holder must surely have been a _gage d’amour_;
for it was a triumph of Indian workmanship, such as the squaws of the
plains were not in the habit of selling. A double-barreled rifle,
short, heavy, and richly finished, was his principal weapon, and
rested across his right leg and the pommel of his saddle. A bright and
keen-edged hatchet, or small ax, was stuck in his belt, flanked by a
hunting-knife in an embroidered sheath. From his appearance, he might
have been an independent trapper; but he carried no traps or sack of
“possibles,” and had no animal except the fine jet-black horse which he
bestrode.

“Nearly noon,” he soliloquized, looking up at the sun. “If I do not
strike the trail of old Robinette’s party before long, I shall conclude
that they are behind me, and it will be necessary to wait for them. I
had better join them, I suppose, as I want an outfit for the coming
season, and I am curious to see whether his daughter is as beautiful as
she has been represented to be. As if that was a matter that concerned
me at all! It is possible that I might find some woman who could
persuade me to quit this wild life; but it lacks a great deal of being
probable. It is possible, though, that I may have strayed from my
course, and I must consult my little true-pointer.”

Stopping his horse, he drew from the bosom of his hunting-shirt a small
pocket-compass, rested it in the palm of his hand, and watched its
indications.

“No; I’m on the right track–no mistake about that. I must cross the
trail soon, if they have got this far. Ha! what is coming yonder? A
red-skin, I suppose, and one who wants my scalp. Now, Samson, who knows
but we may have a little brush to stir our blood?”

The horse pricked up his ears, whinnied, and seemed to anticipate a
combat as eagerly as his master.

It was a mere speck that attracted the attention of the rider; but it
was a moving speck, and he could easily guess what it meant. When he
caught sight of it, he might have mistaken it for a solitary buffalo;
but a brief inspection showed him that its movements were not those of
the buffalo. Soon something white came into view, and the rays of the
sun, shining upon it, made the speck look like a moving star.

Within a short time the speck was no longer a speck, but had assumed
the form and proportions of an Indian on horseback. The white man
reined in his horse, took his rifle in his right hand, and awaited the
approach of the stranger.

When the Indian had come within rifle-shot, the white man judged it
best to signal him and ascertain his intentions. Accordingly, he raised
his right hand, with the palm in front, and pushed it back and forth a
few times. This was a signal to halt; but the savage, after shaking his
head furiously, paid no further attention to it, but put his horse to
full speed, and commenced to circle around his foe.

Mounted on a jet-black horse, the exact image of that which carried the
white man, he presented a fine appearance as he galloped swiftly over
the plain. He was nearly naked, his blanket being under him, and his
skin shone as if it had been freshly oiled. With fine features, eyes as
fierce and keen as lightning, and supple and sinewy limbs, every motion
showing the play of his muscles, he presented an excellent object for
the study of the painter or the sculptor. His scalp-lock, adorned with
feathers, showed that he held a high rank as a brave. In his right
hand he carried a gun, a bow and a quiver of arrows were slung at his
back, and an Indian battle-ax hung at his left side. On his left arm he
carried a shield, round and white, which was dazzling to the beholder
when the rays of the sun were reflected from it.

“That red-skin don’t want to talk,” muttered the white man. “He is keen
for fight, and won’t be satisfied until he gets his fill. Well, I think
I can accommodate him.”

As the Indian circled over the prairie, the white man, with his
rifle at his shoulder, kept turning, so as continually to face his
antagonist. His horse, obedient to the slightest pressure of his knee,
turned where he stood, as if he comprehended, as well as his master,
the best position for defense.

It was the object of the Indian to draw the fire of the white man; but
he soon perceived that his foe was too wary for him, and he changed
his tactics. Slinging his gun, he took his bow and some arrows from
his shoulder. He then fastened one foot in his wooden stirrup, threw
his body over on the right side of the horse, and again commenced to
ride around the white man, drawing nearer at every circle, until he
was within easy bow-shot, when he began to discharge his arrows at his
antagonist.

This position of affairs soon became unpleasant to the white man, as
the arrows flew uncomfortably near him, and he was obliged to change
his position. He dismounted, and stood at the side of his horse,
turning as the Indian wheeled, so as to make a breastwork of the
animal. Still the Indian sent his arrows flying, and one of them struck
the horse in the shoulder.

Smarting with pain, the wounded animal went off at a gallop. As the
Indian raised himself to his seat with a cry of triumph, the indignant
white man discharged one of the barrels of his rifle at him; but the
wily savage had dropped down by the side of his horse.

Supposing that he had drawn the fire of his enemy, the exultant Indian
again raised himself to his seat, and fired quickly. The white man’s
rifle cracked again at the same instant, and the Indian’s horse fell
upon him. Seeing his enemy entangled by his horse, the white man rushed
upon him with his tomahawk; but, before he could reach him, the Indian
was up, with his battle-ax in his hand.

The contest was now one of skill and strength; but both parties, having
tried each other’s mettle, fought slowly and warily, husbanding their
wind for an effective stroke. The blows of each were so well parried,
that the combatants became wearied in the encounter before either had
sustained any serious injury, and they drew back, as if by mutual
consent, to recover breath.

At this juncture a sudden thought seemed to strike the Indian, who
raised both of his hands above his head, with the forefingers locked.
This, in the pantomimic language of the plains, understood by all the
prairie Indians, was a sign of friendship. He then threw his battle-ax
behind him, and stepped forward three paces, extending his right arm
with the hand open.

The white man hesitated a moment, and then, as if ashamed of himself
for mistrusting his late adversary, dropped his tomahawk, and advanced
in his turn with extended hand.

“If you really are a friend, red-skin,” he said, in the Dacotah
dialect, “you have a strange way of showing it; but I am willing to
forget and forgive.”

“My white friend is a warrior,” replied the Indian. “He is a great
brave, and I am glad that I have met him. Let him come with me, and he
shall share my lodge, and shall be my brother.”

“Perhaps we had better wait a little before going so far. I am not
quite so ready to join hands with a man who has just sought my life.
You are a Blackfoot, I should say, judging from your paint. What name
do you go by?”

“My brother has guessed well. I am a Blackfoot, and am a great brave
among my people, who have named me White Shield. What is my brother
called?”

“My name is Fred Wilder, and the red-skins call me Silverspur, because,
I suppose, I have always worn one of those articles among them.”

The young man reached out his foot, showing a large silver spur, with a
steel rowel, strapped upon his moccasin.

“I have heard of Silverspur from the Grovans and the Kickarees, as
well as from the Sioux. He is a great warrior, and I am proud to know
him. Let him share my lodge and be my brother. My people will be glad
to see him.”

“But the Blackfeet are enemies of the whites. How do I know but they
may take my scalp.”

“White Shield is a great brave, and the Blackfeet will do what he tells
them to do. They will never harm his brother, but will love and honor
him.”

“But I am a trapper, and must hunt beaver and otter. I am looking for
the party of Mr. Robinette, which is on its way to the mountains. I
must get traps and an outfit from them. Has White Shield seen them or
heard of them?”

“I have heard of them; but they have not yet come into this country. My
brother need give himself no trouble about them. Let him come with me,
and he will find traps, and I will show him better beaver-streams than
he has ever seen. He can live among the Blackfeet and trade with them,
and can get more skins than any other trader.”

It may have been the love of adventure that moved Fred Wilder, or it
may have been the desire of gain, stimulated by the prospect that the
Blackfoot held out to him. Impulsively he grasped the hand of White
Shield, and the two pledged eternal friendship and brotherhood after
the Indian fashion.

“My brother was fighting me a few moments ago,” said Wilder. “Why was
he so anxious to kill me? It is seldom that you red-skins dare to
attack a white man singly, unless you have an advantage over him.”

“White Shield is no coward,” replied the Blackfoot. “It is long since I
have taken a scalp, and my people have lately suffered many reverses.
I wished to carry home a scalp, so that the Blackfeet in my village
might wash the mourning paint from their faces. I did not know that my
brother had the advantage of me, in owning a rifle that would shoot
twice. I never saw such a rifle.”

“I had the advantage of you in another point, after your horse was
killed. You were afoot, while I might have mounted at any moment.”

Wilder whistled, and his horse, which was grazing at a little distance,
came running to him. He examined the wound, which was a slight one,
and transferred to the back of the horse the Indian’s saddle and
blankets and bridle. The two then set out toward the north-west, White
Shield leading the way on foot.

When George Benning and his three companions set out on the trail of
the marauders who had attacked their camp, they were all afoot; but
they hoped soon to be able to get a remount, at the expense of some
Indian horse-owners. The Indians always did their horse-stealing on
foot, and there was no good reason why white men should not imitate
their example.

“That sounds very well, cap’n,” said Sam Glass, when Benning had
presented this view of the subject, “and it will be easy enough to do,
no doubt, purvided that we ken find the Injuns; but we may hev to tramp
many a mile, afore we came up on a village.”

“No trouble about that, boy,” replied Pap Byers. “We’ll find Injuns
enough, I warrant ye. The only p’int is, that we must be cautions and
quiet, and I’d like to know how this yere Irishman’s tongue is to be
kep’ still.”

“Is it me tongue that you’re spa’kin’ of?” snapped Dennis Regan. “Sure,
me tongue is as ready as your hand, any day.”

“That’s the trouble, Denny. It is a heap too ready, and is sartin to
shoot off when it ain’t wanted to.”

“It hits the cinter ivery time, and that’s more’n can be said av your
rifle.”

“We won’t quarrel about it,” interposed Captain Benning. “It is certain
that Denny must learn to keep quiet, or he may bring us all into
another scrape. Tramp is the word, boys.”

It was not until the evening of the second day after they had started
on the trail, that the party perceived indications which led them to
believe that they were in the vicinity of an Indian village. Proceeding
a little further, they heard the sound of bells, which the Indians
sometimes attach to their horses, proceeding from a ravine a short
distance to the left of the trail.

By a careful reconnoissance it was discovered that there was a large
drove of horses in the ravine, feeding loose, on both sides of a little
stream. The party withdrew to lay their plans, and it was arranged
that they should enter the ravine, where each should select two horses
from the drove, and should bring them to the head of the ravine, where
all were to rendezvous. Benning was especially careful to warn his
companions to be cautious and quiet, and to take no more horses than
were necessary.

The four men entered the ravine at different points, and proceeded
to select and secure their horses. This was accomplished without any
misadventure, and Benning was the first to reach the head of the
ravine, where he was soon joined by Pap Byers and Sam Glass, each
mounted and leading a horse.

“We have succeeded very well so far,” said the captain. “With these
horses under us, and fresh ones to rest them, we ought to have the
heels of any red-skins. Where is Dennis?”

“He’ll be along directly, I reckon,” replied Byers. “Thar he comes, on
a run! What in thunder has the durned fool been doin’?”

The Irishman came up the ravine at a gallop, mounted on a fine mare,
and leading two horses. The mare had a bell fastened to her neck,
which clattered furiously as he rode up to his companions. Benning’s
face turned pale with anger, but he controlled himself and spoke quite
composedly.

“Why have you brought three horses when I told you to take but two? And
why did you choose that bell mare? Don’t you know that the noise will
bring the Indians down upon us?”

“The mare was the finest av the lot, capt’in dear. She’s betther than
both the others, if I’m a jidge av horseflesh.”

“That bell will be the ruin of us. It is a wonder that the whole drove
has not stampeded after her.”

“I was m’anin’ to take it aff, sir, as soon as I could git the cratur’
quiet,” replied Dennis, as he dismounted.

The head of the ravine, where the four men were collected with their
horses, was quite narrow, with steep sides, which were covered pretty
thickly with trees and undergrowth. Darkness was rapidly succeeding to
dusk, and all were impatient to be off.

As Dennis dismounted, one of his led horses slipped its thong, and
started off. When he turned hastily to catch it, he loosed the mare,
which galloped away at full speed, her bell clattering noisily as she
went. Directly there was a great commotion among the herd of horses
down in the ravine, and it was evident that they were stampeding.

“Tare an’ ouns!” exclaimed the indignant Irishman. “The bloody divil
has got away, afther all me throuble. May ivery hair on her tail turn
to a hickory sthick, to bate her as long as she can dhraw a breath.”

“Hold your clattering tongue!” exclaimed Benning. “You make more noise
than the infernal bell. The Indians will be down on us in no time, and
we may thank our stars if we get out of this scrape. Mount the horse
you are holding, and ride as if fire were behind you.”

Dennis was about to mount, when he was suddenly seized from behind, and
dragged into the bushes. The next instant the ravine was vocal with
savage yells, and the white men found themselves surrounded with savage
Indians.

Escape seemed impossible; but Benning was not a man to lose his life
without an effort to preserve it. Loosing his led animal, he discharged
his rifle at the group of Indians before him, and then, putting his
horse to the top of his speed, dashed down the ravine, overturning and
scattering his antagonists as he went.

Bullets and arrows flew after him; but he sped on unhurt, until he
had gone about a quarter of a mile, when his horse suddenly stopped,
in front of a perpendicular wall of rock, that seemed to close up the
ravine.

Bewildered at meeting this unexpected obstacle, he was about to turn
and endeavor to cut his way back in the opposite direction, when he
reflected that he had been following the bed of a stream, which must
surely cañon at the wall of rock.

Straining his sight through the growing darkness he saw what seemed
to be an opening, and pushed his horse for it, bending down upon the
horse’s neck, to save his head from contact with the rocky roof. The
horse went forward, slowly but surely, and Benning thought that he was
about to emerge from the cañon, when, to his great dismay, he found
himself wedged fast in the opening. With words and kicks he tried to
force his steed forward, but it would not budge. He had given himself
up for lost; but an arrow from behind struck his horse in the rear,
and, with a violent effort, it squeezed through the aperture.

Hardly had Benning issued from the cañon, when another peril confronted
him. The horse stopped at the brink of a precipice. The rider could see
that a prairie stretched out below him; but he could not guess how far
down it might be, or what might await him at the foot of the rock.

There was no time for consideration. His pursuers were close
behind him. He had to choose between certain death at the hands of
the savages, and a fearful leap in the dark. He chose the latter
alternative; but his horse refused to take the leap, backing away from
the abyss, and snorting and trembling with terror. Drawing his knife,
he struck it into the haunch of the animal. Maddened by the pain, the
horse sprung forward into the gloom, and alighted, unhurt, upon the
soft turf below.

Benning rode away, slowly, thankful that his life had been preserved,
and reflecting sadly upon the fate of his companions.

Of these, Dennis Regan had been pinioned as soon as he was seized, Sam
Glass had been shot dead while attempting resistance, and Pap Byers had
been soon overpowered and bound.

After relieving Glass of his scalp, the Indians took their two captives
to the village, which was situated a short distance from the ravine in
which their horses were kept.

In order to confine the captives, they were laid on their backs in the
middle of the village, with their arms and legs stretched out, and
tied by the hands and feet to stakes driven in the ground. In this
uncomfortable position they were obliged to pass the night, while the
savages made merry over their victory.

“See what a fix you have brought us into, you crazy little red-headed
wretch!” exclaimed Pap Byers, after he had chafed and cursed himself
into a perspiration.

“It’s none of my bringin’, you spider-shanked, pickle-faced ould
drumhead!” replied Dennis. “It was jist that murtherin’ divil av a
sorrel mare that up-ended us and stretched us out here; but, fur all
that, who knows but I’m the boy who will bring us safe out av this?”

“Talk’s cheap, boy. Ken ye bring Sam Glass back to life? Thar’s Cap’n
Benning too; it’s likely that he’s got his pill afore this. Ken ye do
any thin’ fur him?”

“The mithers av ’em can’t be more sorry fur the boys than is Denny
Regan; but it’s the divil’s own tongue that says I fotched ’em into
the scrape. If I was on me feet, I’d make yez swaller that same, you
dried-up old wolf-skin.”

“Quarrelin’ won’t mend the matter; but you know as well as I do, Denny,
that it was your loose tongue and your crazy ways that made all the
trouble.”

“I know it jist as well as you do, and that’s not at all. Tell me, now,
Pap Byers, what Injuns is these that’s got us?”

“Blackfeet–the bloodiest, meanest and most savagerous of all the
red-skins in these parts.”

“And what will they do wid us?”

“Kill us–tortur’ us–burn us, most likely.”

“Is it burnin’ ye say? Och, be the powers! it makes me flesh crawl to
think av it. The bloody haythins! Is it sure enough burnin’ that they
do, or do they jist bother a man and let him go?”

“It’s burnin’, I tell ye–burnin’ by a slow fire–roastin’, fryin’,
br’llin’. Thar ain’t any let go about it; it holds on fur hours, and
you suffer death a dozen times afore you die onst.”

“Howly mither of Moses! That bates purgatory, intirely. To think that
one av the ould shtock av the O’Regans should be roasted alive! I
vow to the blissed Vargin, if I can only git clare of this shcrape,
I’ll not shpake a mortal word to any livin’ man–or woman, fur that
matter–fur a long six months, and I’ll begin at onst to kape me vow.”

The Irishman was silent. Byers spoke to him after a while; but Dennis
did not reply. Again Byers spoke to him; but a snore was the only
answer he received.

“I do believe,” said he, “that the durned fool has gone to sleep. I
wouldn’t hev thought that burnin’ would set so easy onto his stummick.”

Fred Wilder accompanied his new friend without any doubt or hesitation.
He knew that the word of an Indian was sacred, when pledged to his
adopted brother, and he felt no uneasiness as to the treatment he would
receive among the Blackfeet.

In the course of three days they arrived safely at the Blackfeet
village, where White Shield introduced his brother, Silverspur, as a
great warrior, a man wonderful for strength of arms, keenness of eye,
activity of limb, and bigness of heart. He related the particulars of
the encounter in which he had formed the acquaintance of the white man,
and gave him credit for extraordinary bravery and skill. He concluded
by declaring that Silverspur was his sworn brother, and must be treated
as such; that he must have full liberty to live among the Blackfeet, to
hunt, fish and trade as he pleased, and to go and come as might suit
his pleasure.

Instead of being displeased at the arrival of the white man, the
Blackfeet appeared to be very well satisfied, and passed many encomiums
upon White Shield for having brought such a valuable accession to their
tribe. Some of them had heard of Silverspur, and could echo the praise
that White Shield bestowed upon him. His rifle had sent death to more
than one Blackfoot warrior, and they knew it; but that only added to
his glory as a warrior, and they were proud to claim him as one of
themselves. Good Ax, the head chief, granted him unlimited trading
privileges, and invited him to “marry and settle”–in other words, to
select a wife, or as many wives as he wanted.

Silverspur, whose heart had not been enamored by the fair-skinned
beauties of his own race, and who was not likely to yield to
the fascinations of any dusky damsel, evaded the matrimonial
responsibility, saying that he thought it best to wait until he became
better known, and that, in the mean time, he would share the lodge of
White Shield, who happened to be a bachelor.

A few days after his introduction to the Blackfeet, on his return from
a hunting-excursion, he found that a war-party, which had been absent
for some time, had arrived at the village. They had been victorious
over their adversaries, but had lost a few of their number, for which
reason they were debarred from dancing, or rejoicing over their
victory. On the contrary, the village was filled with mourning, and the
wailing of the mourners, together with the horrible manner in which
they mangled themselves, so disgusted the young man that he did not
care to inquire further concerning the affair.

Soon after this, there was an alarm at the village, occasioned by the
attempt of some marauders to steal horses. Most of the warriors went
out to meet the enemy; but Fred Wilder, who did not care to expose his
life in the quarrels of the red-men, remained in his lodge, smoking
his pipe, and mentally abusing himself for the roving disposition that
brought him into “the tents of Ishmael.”

The affair was soon quieted, and the warriors returned in high glee.
They had captured two prisoners, as White Shield informed his friend,
and had taken a scalp. The mourning in the village, therefore, was
at an end. All washed their faces, and prepared for a dance and a
jollification.

As sleep was out of the question, in the midst of such an uproar,
Wilder sallied out and joined the dancers. The scalp which was the
occasion of the revelry, together with one which had been brought in
by the war-party, was suspended upon a pole, and Wilder inspected
them with the others. The hair of one of the scalps was short, black
and curly. That of the other was short, thin and silver gray. It was
evident to the young trapper that neither was the scalp of an Indian,
and he called White Shield aside to speak to him concerning them.

“That black scalp yonder,” said he, “is not the scalp of an Indian.”

“No; it is the scalp of a white man.”

“They were white men, then, who came to steal horses?”

“Yes; and the two prisoners are white men.”

“Is the gray scalp the scalp of a white man, too?”

“Yes. We would have had a big dance over that scalp, if we had not lost
two warriors in the fight. It is the scalp of the white-haired chief.”

“And who was he?”

“I thought you knew him. You call him Robinette, the trader.”

“Whew! The old fellow is dead, then,” said Wilder, musingly. “He was a
strange man, shrewd, daring, but rather unscrupulous, as I have heard.
Did your braves capture his train?”

“No. They came across his party, and stampeded the horses. As they had
surprised the camp, they thought they might do more; but the white men
beat them off at last. The men who came to-night were his men. They
wanted to get back some of their horses, or to look for the white girl.”

“What white girl?”

“The daughter of the white-haired chief.”

“Is she here?”

“She is in the village. Has not my brother seen her?”

“No. I know nothing of her.”

“You will not be likely to see her for a while, as Good Ax, the head
chief, means to take her into his lodge, and she has been shut up from
the village.”

Wilder mused a little, and his musings were in this wise:

Why had Paul Robinette brought his daughter into that wilderness? Why
had he, Fred Wilder, given himself up to an aimless and roving life?
It was very foolish in both of them; but fate had led them to it. It
was the fate of Mr. Robinette to be killed and scalped, and it might be
the fate of him, Fred Wilder, to have come among the Blackfeet to be of
service to the daughter of the murdered man. At all events, she was a
woman, and it was his duty to befriend her. It was his duty, also, to
befriend the two white captives, and their turn might come first. It
would be well for him to see how far he might go with the Blackfeet.

Turning to White Shield, he said:

“What will be done with the white prisoners?”

“They will be burned.”

“Do you think so?”

“I am sure of it. They are to be burned early to-morrow morning.”

“I will bet you, White Shield, ten packs of beaver-skins, that they
will not be burned while Silverspur lives.”

“What does my brother mean?”

“I mean that I will not allow them to be burned.”

“What will you do?”

“Perhaps I will do nothing; but they shall not be burned.”

“Has my brother lost his senses? He surely does not mean what he says.”

“You will see that I mean it. I am going to the lodge, White Shield. I
am tired of this deviltry.”

Wilder turned his back upon the crowd of dancing and yelling Indians,
and retired to his lodge, where he pondered his own situation and that
of Flora Robinette, until he fell asleep.

In the morning there was a great commotion in the village. Preparations
were made for the torture of the two white captives, and all the
Blackfeet were early astir. Two stout stakes were set in the ground,
near the middle of the village, and the victims were brought to them,
surrounded and followed by a motley throng of Indians, of all ages and
both sexes.

Dennis Regan, who had not spoken a word since his vow of the previous
night, was bound to one post, and Pap Byers to the other, and what may
be called the small torturing commenced. Women and children assailed
the white men with all sorts of opprobrious epithets, beat them with
sticks, kicked them, pinched them, pulled their hair, and provoked them
by every means in their power.

Byers hurled back their taunts indignantly, and abused the Blackfeet
to the best of his ability. He knew what sort of a death they intended
for him, and he hoped to arouse them to such fury that, in a moment of
anger, they might kill him at once. He boasted of the number of their
braves that he had slain, and accused them of cowardice, taunting them
with not daring to take the life of a white man, even when he was bound
before them. They could not hurt him, he said, and he dared them to
do their worst, as a white warrior could teach them how to die. The
Irishman remained silent. When he was spoken to, he pointed to his
tongue, and shook his head; but not a word escaped his lips.

The warriors soon put a stop to this play. Scattering the women and
children, they brought poles and twigs, which they piled in a circle,
nearly waist high, around the victims. Then, amid diabolical yells and
screeches, fire was put to the piles, and the torture commenced.

It was not to last long. Hardly had the flames begun to crackle among
the twigs, when Fred Wilder, fully armed, strode into the throng,
kicked away the burning poles, stamped out the fire, and took his stand
near the prisoners, gazing defiantly at the crowd of savages.

The Blackfeet were astonished at his audacity. Some of them laid their
hands upon their weapons; but all drew back, as if bewildered, and
wondering what might happen next. After a few moments, Good Ax, the
head chief, stepped forward and addressed the intruder.

“Why does Silverspur seek to interfere with his brothers? Has he
forgotten that when he became a Blackfoot, he ceased to be a white man?”

“My heart is white, and always will be,” fiercely replied Wilder. “I
can not stand by and see men of my own race murdered. What have these
white men done to you, that you wish to burn them?”

“We caught them stealing our horses.”

“They had a right to try to recover the property which you had taken
from them.”

“But the white men are the enemies of the Blackfeet.”

“Say, rather, that, the Blackfeet are the enemies of the white men,
who have never mistreated you, and have never fought you except when
you have compelled them to do so. Look at these men! One of them, as
you can see, is not able to speak. Would you slay a man who has been
stricken by the Great Spirit? I say that they shall not be burned while
I live, and I know well that more than one of you will fall before I
die.”

It is said that a wild beast will shrink from the steady glance
of a brave man. So did the savages quail before the fearless eye
and undaunted demeanor of Fred Wilder. His audacity seemed almost
supernatural, and made them fear that he might have something to back
him which they could not even guess at.

In a few minutes, however, this feeling passed away. They saw that he
was but a man, as they were, and they began to think of punishing him
for his bold attempt to spoil their sport. Their threatening looks and
hostile attitudes caused him to raise his rifle and level it at the
most demonstrative. In another moment there might have been bloodshed;
but White Shield suddenly changed the face of affairs. Bursting through
the throng, he took his stand by the side of his friend.

“White Shield is a warrior!” he exclaimed. “He is a great brave, and he
never feared the face of an enemy. There is none who can lay cowardice
or crime to the charge of White Shield. Shall he hang back, like a dog,
when his brother is in danger? Silverspur is his sworn brother, and
he is ready to die for his brother, whether he is right or wrong. He
is not wrong. These white men are his friends, and the Blackfoot who
would not try to save the life of his friend would be called a coward.
Come, my brothers! Who will go to the spirit-land with White Shield and
Silverspur?”

A number of the relatives of White Shield, both old and young, came
forward, with their weapons in their hands, and ranged themselves by
his side. As the hostile parties confronted each other, the affair
seemed about to assume a serious aspect, when the head chief stepped
forward and spoke.

“This is a small matter to us,” he said, “and we would do wrong to kill
each other about it. One of these prisoners, as Silverspur has said,
has been stricken by the Great Spirit, and we can easily give the life
of the other to our white brother. Loose them from the stakes, but let
them be securely guarded. They shall live, but they must not leave us
until we move the village. Is Silverspur satisfied?”

Wilder expressed his satisfaction, and pressed the hand of the chief.
When the prisoners had been led away, and the crowd had dispersed, he
returned to his lodge with White Shield.

Continue Reading

EMPEROR NORTON

Once upon a time there lived near a small village on the shore of the
Atlantic, an honest farmer named Norton, who had three sons.

The two elder were smart, active lads, but the youngest was quiet,
and so much given to dreaming that his brothers ridiculed and often
slighted him.

“He is so stupid,” they would say, “he will be a disgrace to the
family;” but what annoyed him most, they gave him the unpleasant
_sobriquet_ of Dumpy, on account of his fat, rosy cheeks.

As the boys grew up, the eldest took the farm, and was to take care
of the father and mother, the second became clerk to a merchant in a
neighboring city, but poor Dumpy, in the indolence of his disposition,
did nothing. He was always hoping some impossible thing would “turn
up,” but he had no rich relations, indeed no one seemed to take much
interest in him but the mother, who would always say, “Poor Dumpy, he
is a good-hearted boy,” then she would sigh heavily, as though there
was nothing more to be said.

At last the father became quite out of patience, and calling the boy
to him one day, he said: “You are now twenty years old, and never
have earned so much as your salt, and it is quite time for you to do
something for yourself. Your brother, who has taken the farm, complains
that he is obliged to support you in idleness, which certainly is not
right.”

“For the farm he will take care of your mother and me, but you and
your other brother must look out for yourselves.”

“Give me,” answered Dumpy, “what money you can spare, I ask nothing
more, I will go and seek my fortune, and you shall hear of me when I
become a rich man.”

The father gave him what money he could, and he went away, no one at
home knew whither, leaving only the mother to weep for him.

When Dumpy left the farm-house he walked on to the village, feeling
that he was going into the great world full of promise, but he never
dreamed of disappointment.

When he arrived at the village inn the stage was standing at the door.
“I will go,” he said, “where fortune leads me.” So he took his seat in
the stage, and paid his fare to the end of the route, which happened to
be the great city of New York.

All day long he was very happy looking out of the windows upon the
changing landscape, and indulging in day-dreams. Sometimes he would
come to a pretty village nestling among the hills. “I would like,” he
would think, “of all things to stop here, ’tis so very pleasant, but I
have paid my money, and I must go on.”

It was night when the stage entered the city, its heavy wheels rumbling
over the paved streets, and crowding along past carts, omnibuses, and
carriages, till poor Dumpy, who had never been in the city before,
began to feel very much bewildered and confused.

“Where shall I go,” said Dumpy to the driver, when the stage stopped.
“‘Tis so noisy I can’t hear myself think. Oh, dear! I don’t know what
to do,” and he looked so pitiably helpless that the driver was sorry
for him, though he could not help laughing. “Come with me, my boy,” he
said, so he went with the driver to the cheap lodging-house, where he
stopped when in town.

To enumerate all poor Dumpy’s adventures while in New York would be
impossible. Enough to say it was not long before his money was gone,
and he shipped before the mast in a merchant vessel for California.

Poor Dumpy! Now came woful experiences, for a time he was wretchedly
seasick, and he soon found that to go before the mast was no joke, but
in his way he was quite a philosopher, and after a few weeks became a
very good sailor.

As he was pleasant and obliging he became a favorite with all on board,
but he loved most of all when off duty, to sit by himself in the soft
starlit evenings as the good ship sailed over the tropic seas, and
dream of the land of gold to which he was going.

He possessed a vivid imagination, and his visions of the wealth of the
new Eldorado were most glowing.

He would picture to himself how like a prince he would luxuriate in
riches, how great and generous he would be, even to the brothers who
had despised him. It is a happiness to be able to revel in dreams as he
did, for the pleasures of anticipation are but too often greater than
the reality.

He loved his mother, she at least had always been kind and gentle to
him.

“My dear mother,” he would say to himself, with a bright tear in his
eye, “she shall yet live in a palace. God bless her, dear mother.”

Then he would sigh till a bright thought drove away the sad one. “Oh,
’tis so delightful to be rich,” he would say.

Then he would rub his hands as complacently as though the wealth of the
Indies lay at his feet.

“I shall give the father every thing he wishes of course,” he would
continue, “and I will make the brothers rich men, for to be generous
and forgive is the attribute of true greatness, and for myself I will
marry the prettiest woman in the world, and I will give her every thing
she can possibly desire.”

Often the sharp quick bell, for change of watch, would call him to
duty, and scatter his gorgeous dreams, leaving only the dull, hard
present in his mind and heart.

At length the good ship arrived in San Francisco, and there again Dumpy
found all the wild bustle and confusion of the early days.

Gold was plenty in dust and bars.

When a man bought any thing he would take out of his bag of gold dust
as much dust as he was to pay for the article, and he would be off.

The highest price was paid for labor, and Dumpy soon engaged to drive
a cart for two hundred and fifty dollars per month, but he determined
to make this arrangement only for a short time, till he could get money
enough to go out prospecting in the mining districts.

This he soon accomplished, but he found a life in the mines even harder
than before the mast, but the golden future was before him, and he
persevered.

He and another young adventurer built a cabin together by a little
spring of clear, bubbling water.

They worked early and late, with the wearisome pick and shovel for
the precious gold that was to pave the pathway of their lives with
happiness, but often night found them disappointed and weary, and they
would return to their lonely cabins, cook and eat their coarse supper,
and lie down upon the hard floor, wrap their blankets around them,
with heavy and hopeless hearts. But thank God, sunshine and the fresh
morning brings renewed life and hope to young hearts.

One morning when Dumpy awoke he found his companion had risen and gone
out before him, so he went out alone, thinking, “who knows what will
turn up before night, I may become a millionaire. I’ll try my luck
alone to-day;” so he did not go to the ledge they had been prospecting
the day before, but started off in a new direction.

All day long he worked diligently, but the sunset found him as poor as
the dawning, and quite worn out, he threw himself down upon the ledge
to rest a little before going home. “Ah, me!” thought he, sadly, “how
long the poor mother will have to wait for her palace.”

As the sunset deepened into twilight, he rose, and shouldering his pick
and shovel, started for the cabin. “I can not call it home,” he said to
himself, “there is no mother there.”

He had not gone far, before a little shrill voice arrested him, and
looking down, he saw a little old man, sitting among the loose stones,
rubbing his foot and ankle, and groaning piteously.

He was very quaintly dressed, in a little red jacket, and wore a
Spanish hat with little gold bells around it, and his long gray beard
swept the ground, as he sat dismally among the rocks.

“Oh, dear! I cannot move,” said the little man; “I have sprained my
foot, will not you help me home? Oh dear! oh dear!” and he moaned so
piteously that Dumpy, who was kind-hearted, was very sorry for him; so
he took the old man up in his arms as tenderly as if he had been an
infant.

The old man pointed out the way, and Dumpy trudged wearily on, for
though he was no bigger than a child of eight years old, he seemed
quite heavy to Dumpy. After working all day with the pick and shovel,
and finding nothing, his heart was heavy with hope deferred. “If I had
found gold to-day,” thought he, “a light heart would have made a light
burden; but thank God I am well, and this poor man suffers fearfully.”

Poor Dumpy! He went on, down the cañon, then up the mountain, it seemed
to him for miles; at last the little man pointed to a crevice in the
rock, through which Dumpy managed with some difficulty to creep; but
as he went on it widened, and suddenly opened into a large cavern.

“Go on,” said the old man, sharply, as Dumpy stopped and gazed around
with astonishment. So he went on till they came to a large hall
sparkling with crystal, and glowing with precious stones.

A large chandelier hung from the roof, and cast a flood of softened
light through the whole cavern, and Dumpy could see in the stone floor
large masses of pure yellow gold.

He saw in the huge irregular pillars that rose to the dome of the
cavern, great veins of the precious ore, and everywhere it was
scattered about with the most lavish profusion.

Curious golden figures, carved with strange devices, stood in the
niches, and there were couches with golden frames, and tables of gold,
so that the light, reflected from the clear crystal dome, glittering
with shining pendants, by the softening yellow tinge, was mellow and
pleasant.

Poor Dumpy had been so long in the twilight and darkness, that he was
dazzled by the brilliant scene, and for a few moments was obliged to
close his eyes, and when he opened them, he saw that he was surrounded
by a large crowd of the little people, who were full of anxious fears
about the old man he held in his arms, but he assured them he was
suffering only from a sprain, which, though very painful, was not
dangerous. They gathered anxiously around the little man as he laid him
upon a couch.

He soon discovered that the man he had assisted was king over the
little people who guard the mountain treasures, covering the rich
places with unpromising stones and earth, and often misleading the
honest miner by scattering grains of the precious metal in waste
places; thus it is we hear so often of disappointed hopes, and
abandoned mines.

After they had in some measure relieved the suffering of their chief,
they turned to Dumpy, who stood in the most profound astonishment,
drinking in all he saw or heard.

“You have done me a great kindness,” said the chief; “and, though it
is our business to mislead miners, we can be grateful, and you may now
claim any reward you desire.”

“I have saved your ruler,” said Dumpy, looking at the crowd of little
people, and trying to think of something great to ask as a reward.

“Our chief! our king!” cried all the little people, together. “Ask what
you will and it shall be granted.”

“I would be great as well as rich,” thought Dumpy, so he said aloud:
“Make me emperor of all the mines, and let all the miners pay tribute
to me.”

“It shall be so,” said the king. Then he called one of his servants
to bring the golden crown and scepter, and bidding Dumpy kneel before
him, he placed the scepter in his hand and the crown upon his head, and
striking him a sharp blow upon his shoulder, he said, “Arise, Emperor
Norton.

“As long as you preserve this crown and scepter from moth or rust, dew
or fog, you shall be the true emperor of all the mines in California
and Nevada, and all the miners shall pay you yearly tribute, but if you
lose either crown or scepter, or moth, rust, midnight dews and damps
fall upon them, they will fade away, and you will be emperor in name
only, and the miners shall pay you no yearly tribute.”

“So let it be,” said the newly-made emperor; and they all sat down to
a table spread with every delicacy, and feasted till the noon of the
following day.

When the emperor bade the knights of the mountain adieu, the little
gray king said: “Beware of the dews and damps of the night,” and he
started for his cabin.

“I will first visit my old comrade,” he said, “though he is now one of
my subjects, I will not be proud and haughty.”

One of the little men ran before him, and led the way out of the cave
into the sunlight, which was so bright that the emperor shaded his
eyes with his hand, and when he had removed it the little man had
disappeared.

The emperor looked around, but could see no trace of him; even the
crevice through which he had passed, was nowhere to be seen.

“It is a wonderful dream,” said he; but no! there was the golden crown
upon his head, and the scepter in his hand.

“I will find that cave,” thought he; so he began to look for it very
eagerly, till the lengthening shadows told of the coming of evening,
and he thought of the gray king’s warning, “Beware of the dews and
damps of night.”

“Oh dear! if I should lose the tribute money,” he said, in great
distress; “I should be emperor but could build no palace for the
mother, nor could I marry the prettiest woman in the world, and supply
her innumerable wants;” so he started in great haste for the camp,
always keeping fast hold of the crown and scepter.

On he rushed till the shades of twilight filled the deep cañon, through
which he was obliged to pass, then he broke into a run, crying, “Oh
me! if I should be too late! too late! now that my hopes are crowned
with success. Too late! too late!”

“Haste makes waste,” and so the emperor found it. He lost the path and
became entangled in brush and rocks, until he became almost wild with
despair.

The night came on with a heavy mist that near morning deepened into
rain.

With the gray twilight of the dawning, weary and worn, he reached his
cabin door, but the golden crown and scepter had passed away into the
mists of night.

The poor emperor told of his wanderings to his comrades, and mourned
over the night in which his crown and scepter had departed from him,
but they only laughed, saying, “You have been dreaming again, Emperor
Norton.”

He never took the pick and shovel again. “Shall an emperor work,” he
would say, “while thousands of his subjects roll in luxury?”

An emperor, he thought, should reside in the chief city of his realm,
so he left the mines and came to San Francisco.

Here for years he has lived, always wearing a well-worn suit of blue,
with epaulettes upon the shoulders, which, perhaps, might have been an
unmentioned gift of the gray king of the mountains.

At the table of all restaurants and hotels he is a free and welcome
guest, and all places of amusement are open to him; in fact, wherever
you go in San Francisco, you are almost sure to meet the Emperor
Norton.

DEATH’S VALLEY;

OR,

THE GOLDEN BOULDER.

Years ago, even before what Californians understand to be the “early
days,” Dick Fielding was promoted to a captaincy in the United States
Army.

Merry days were those, while he was stationed near the metropolitan
city. Good pay, little work, brilliant parties to attend, and beautiful
women to make love to. Love making seemed the natural element of
the gay young captain, and thanks to his handsome face and shining
epaulettes, he was very successful.

In this world our dear delights are but fleeting as the smiles of
an April day—so thought poor Dick as he sat one morning about
eleven o’clock at his luxurious breakfast, reading a dispatch from
head-quarters that doomed him to the wilderness of Fort Tejon, far
below the quaint old Spanish town of Los Angelos.

‘Twas a sad day for the gallant young captain, but all his sighs
and regrets were unavailing. There was no reprieve—orders must be
obeyed. Fortunately Dick was of an elastic temperament, and the love
of adventure and the charm of novelty which the new country possessed
for him soon returned to him that zest for life which youth and health
seldom entirely lose.

Southern California has a most generous climate, producing in the
valleys the luxurious vegetation of the tropics, and on the hills and
mountains the hardier products of the temperate zone.

Dick was a favorite among the officers, social and joyous in his
disposition, he became the life of the garrison. He was a fine
horseman, and often he would join a party of the Mexican rangers in
their excursions, and ride for days over the beautiful country round
Fort Tejon.

He could shoot an arrow very handsomely, and by his easy good nature he
was soon on friendly terms with the Indians, who in that part of the
country are so mixed with the native Californians or Mexicans that it
is difficult to distinguish the races.

He became an expert in all the athletic sports of the country, but
with all he could do, the monotony of a life at Fort Tejon was very
wearisome to him; so when he found a beautiful young girl among the
Indians, he plunged recklessly into his old habit, of love making; and
in a few weeks he was domesticated in a little adobe house near the
fort with his pretty Indian bride, who amused him for the time like any
other novelty of the country.

She, poor simple child of the wild-wood, worshiped her handsome,
blue-eyed husband, and thought his hair and beard had stolen their
golden beauty from the glowing sunshine.

After a time a little one came to the cottage, and the young Indian
mother was very happy in loving the father and child who made the
wilderness a heaven for her.

Weeks, months, and years passed by, and Captain Fielding longed
intensely to visit the gay world again. He had grown weary of his
Indian wife, and his son in his eyes was only a young papoose, of whom
he was very much ashamed.

At length the order came for his reprieve. He was summoned to return
to the Atlantic States; but of this he said nothing to his wife. One
bright spring morning he left her looking out after him from the door
of the little adobe, holding her three-year old boy in her arms,
smiling and telling him in her own soft language that dear papa would
come back at evening.

The burning fingers of remorse pressed heavily upon the father’s
heart as he looked upon the pretty picture—but only for a moment. He
turned away, saying with a sigh of relief: “She’ll soon forget me, for
some Indian Chief, perhaps,” and was gone from her sight out into the
distance, on toward the great busy world.

Night came on with its damps and darkness, wrapping the heart of the
young wife in its shroud of shadows, never to be lifted till the
brightness of the spirit land made glad morning shine about her.

Day by day she watched the shadows lengthen, hoping when the sun went
down in the crimson west he would return; but the golden moonlight
found her watching in vain, swaying her sleeping boy too and fro in her
arms, and drearily singing the song of her heart, in a voice from which
the gladness of hope was fast dying out.

She called him Dick, for his father, and with a perseverance which only
deep love could give her, talked his father’s language to him in her
pretty, imperfect way.

The little one grew to be a strong, handsome boy, with a dark Spanish
face, and eyes full of fire, or love as his mood moved them. In some
things he was like his father; gay, dashing, and attractive in his
disposition, he became a great favorite with the officers at Fort
Tejon, who taught him to read and write and many other things, much to
the delight of his mother, who would say with tears in her dark eyes:
“If his father lives to return he will thank you better than I can.”

In the spring she would say: “Before the orange-flowers ripen to golden
fruit he will return,” and in the autumn, “before the fair buds gladden
the green hillsides he will be here!”

But springs and autumns passed, till the broken spirit, hopeless and
weary with waiting, passed into the unknown future, and they buried her
where the first rays of the morning sun fell upon the graveyard flowers.

Dick loved his mother fondly, and after she died he grew more wild and
daring than ever, but with the undercurrent of his nature flowed all
the subtle instinct of the Indian.

Often at Fort Tejon he heard of the great world far beyond the
wilderness, and he learned that gold was the talisman that opened the
gates of earthly paradise. So he said in his heart, “I will have gold!”

Young as he was and wild in his nature, he saw a witching paradise in
the soft blue eyes and sunny curls of the Colonel’s young daughter
Madeline, but no one knew that he worshiped her, no one but God and his
own heart.

Among the Indian and Spanish boys Dick was chief. To the lowliest he
was gentle, to the proudest, superior, and by a wonderful magnetic
power in one so young he bowed them all to his will. No one among
them thought to question his bidding; he was the ruler, and without a
thought they obeyed him. He could ride fearlessly the wildest horse,
send the truest arrow from the bow, and laughed carelessly at danger as
though he bore a charmed life.

One evening he lay upon the green grass before an Indian encampment,
looking dreamily up at the great golden moon as it sailed along through
the clear summer sky, surrounded by the paler light of the modest stars,
and thinking how Madeline was like the moon, queen of all maidens.

The rest were beautiful, but in comparison with the sweet Madeline were
but attendant lights. Then he thought of the great world where one day
Madeline would shine fairest of the fair, and that before he could
enter the charmed circle he must win the talisman that would give him
every thing, but best of all, sweet Madeline.

Near him the Indian youths and maidens had gathered round an old man of
their tribe, who was telling them the legend of the “Golden Boulder.”

“Yes,” said the old man, “white men would risk their lives for it, if
they could only find the valley, but even the Indians except one tribe
who make war upon all others, have lost trace of it; but there in the
center rises a great round boulder, yellow as the full moon, all gold,
pure gold!”

“Where?” cried Dick, springing with one bound into the circle. Then for
the first time he listened to the old tradition of the Golden Boulder
in Death’s Valley.

“Far to the south,” said the old Indian, “lies a country rich in gold
and precious stones. The tribe who inhabits that region makes war with
all who dare to cross the boundaries of their hunting-grounds. In some
way they have become possessed of guns from which they shoot golden
bullets with unerring precision.

“The country is shut in by mountains, and the great Colorado pours its
waters through it. Far into the interior, deep down in the shadows,
lies Death’s Valley, and in its center rises the great Golden
Boulder, and round it are scattered innumerable precious stones, whose
brightness pierces the dusky shadows with their shining light.”

The tradition came from an old man of the hostile tribe who many years
ago was taken prisoner. Many adventurous Mexicans and Spaniards had
sought Death’s Valley, but none had ever returned from its shroud of
shadows.

Dick listened to the story with deep attention. For days the thought of
it pursued him, and at night when he closed his eyes the great round
boulder of gold rose before him, and the glittering stones made the
night shining as the day.

He could learn nothing more from the Indians than the old tradition,
but every day he became more resolved, at any hazard, to win the great
talisman, gold, which alone could open the door of happiness and
greatness for him; even if he were obliged to seek it among the shadows
in Death’s Valley, he would win it.

It was the early days of February, which in Lower California is the
spring time of the year. Golden oranges still hung upon the trees amid
the shining leaves and snow-white flowers, the buds of promise for the
coming year, while everywhere gorgeous flowers brightened the fragrant
hillsides and dewy valleys.

Without a word of farewell to any one, Dick started out into the
trackless wilderness alone, with only his rifle and a small hatchet to
blaze the trees now and then. Guided by the Indian’s unerring instinct,
he reached the Colorado, strong and vigorous as when he left the
neighborhood of Fort Tejon.

He had wanted for nothing; his trusty gun had supplied him with
game, and the fruits of the wild-wood had furnished him dessert. Thus
alone in the luxuriance of that sunny clime he wandered for days, but
still no trace of the valley, or the Golden Boulder; but he was not
disheartened.

Day and night, the gorgeous imagery that decked the future, gathered
round him. As the reward of all this toil and lonely wanderings, he
saw his golden hopes fulfilled, and the sunny curls of the Colonel’s
daughter resting upon his bosom. For this hope more than all others he
labored on.

It was the close of an excessively hot day. The dewy coolness of
evening was delightful to the weary gold-seeker, and he threw himself
down upon his couch of leaves, under the shadow of the forest trees,
thinking the way was long and weary, and feeling the desolation of the
solitary wilderness, casting its long shadows upon his heart.

But toil, is the mother of forgetfulness, and sleep was casting its
drowsy mantle over his saddened musings, when his quick ear, detected a
sound like a light, but rapid, footstep among the dried leaves. Nearer
and nearer it came, snapping the brittle twigs that covered the ground.

He hastily concealed himself, and waited in almost breathless stillness
the approach of wild beasts, or wilder Indians.

A moment more, and a young Indian girl appeared, bearing upon her head
a birchen bucket. Light and graceful, with the freedom of the woods,
she walked along until she came to a clear spring, and bending over,
she filled her bucket with the pure fresh water.

Just then, a rare cluster of flowers attracted her eye, and with a
maiden’s love of the beautiful, she stopped to gather it, then poising
her bucket upon her head, she would have started for the encampment,
but she was fastened spell-bound to the spot, by an unconquerable
terror.

Just opposite, and crouched ready to spring upon her, she saw a huge
panther, his large eyes, like great balls of fire, glaring out from the
intense shadow, already devoured her. She was paralyzed by an intense
terror. The fearful eyes fascinated and bewildered her. In them she saw
the frail bridge, that separated her from the spirit land.

She could not move, or utter a sound. The panther crouched lower among
the tangled grass. A moment more, and he would spring upon her. The
stream was drawing nearer, the bridge was shorter, from those fearful
eyes, she could see the gleaming of the lights of spirit land, then
a flash! a sharp report of the rifle, and the panther sprang into the
air, and fell at the feet of the affrighted maiden!

She lived! but the waters of the spring were glowing red and warm
with the lifeblood of the terrible beast. His glowing eyes grew dim
and sightless, in the river of death, and in its place, to her sight
appeared the handsome young gold-seeker.

With all her intense emotion, she was calm, as only an Indian maiden
could be, but a deep glowing flush burned through the darkness of her
cheek, as with timid grace, she gave her hand to her deliverer, and
through the dusk of evening led him to the encampment, and to the
chieftain, her father.

There was great excitement in the encampment when they saw the young
girl returning with a stranger. Fiercely the Indians of the hostile
tribe gathered round them, for the girl clung tremblingly to his hand,
and by the fitful firelight he saw the dark scowls of passion gathering
upon their faces, yet a thrill of joy filled his heart, he now knew he
was by the camp-fire of the wild tribe of whom nothing was known, save
their uncompromising cruelty, and that with them rested the secret of
Death’s Valley, the great Golden Boulder, and the glittering stones.

He had saved their chieftain’s daughter, and they would not harm him,
for well he knew the power of gratitude upon the savage heart. Calm and
resolute he stood among them, without the shadow of a fear darkening
his face, until he saw the fierce fires of cruelty that shot from their
wild eyes soften into the kindly light of gratitude and friendship, as
the young girl told her story with all the pathos and ardor which the
almost miraculous escape, had awakened in her heart.

The old chief loved his daughter with a savage intensity. She was all
the Great Spirit had left him, of many sons and daughters, and he felt
that he would be ready to battle with death itself, but he could not
give up his only child.

There was a mist over his fierce eyes, and a trembling about his cruel
heart, as he bade the stranger a kindly welcome, who but for his good
fortune in saving the girl, would have been condemned to a torturing
death, unheard of.

So it was at last by this unforeseen accident, that the young
gold-seeker slept peacefully by the smouldering camp-fire of the most
cruel, relentless, tribe of the Colorado, and dreamed of his blue-eyed
darling, far away over the desert waste, safely sheltered in Fort
Tejon.

The morning dawned rich with the glowing warmth of a Southern climate,
and though our young hero woke early, he was wearied from long travel,
and lay for some time with half-closed eyes, lazily watching the
Indians as they busied themselves about the encampment.

He was thinking how he should turn the advantage he had gained to the
furtherance of his plans, when suddenly he felt, more than saw, that
dark, jealous eyes were upon him. He feigned to be sleeping, while by a
stolen glance he understood every thing.

The tall, stalwart, young Indian, who bent over him with dark, knitted
brows and flashing eyes, loved the girl whom he had saved, and was
already his enemy, and one not to be scorned, as his proud bearing, and
the deference shown him by others attested. That he was in danger,
Dick realized; yet he rose with a free and careless manner, greeting
the young men with a smile, which was returned.

“Worse than I supposed,” he said to himself; “treachery! but they shall
not find me unprepared!”

The old chief and his daughter treated him with marked kindness, and
he, by his modesty and pleasantry, tried to make friends among the
young men.

After breakfast preparations were made for a hunt, and Dick was
furnished with a fresh horse, and invited to join the company.

The day was warm and sultry, and, toward evening, the hunters, in
starting for the camp, became scattered, and, on entering the shadows
of a deep ravine, Dick found himself surrounded by five of the
strongest young men, and, prominent among them, his enemy.

In an instant of time his hands were pinioned, and he was ordered to
prepare for death. Looking calmly upon the dark, scowling faces around
him, he said: “I am ready, only I would make one request of Tolume (his
enemy), ’tis this; that if in his wanderings he should ever reach Fort
Tejon, he would bear a message for me to the woman I love.”

The face of Tolume brightened, and he ordered the prisoner unbound, and
leading him to a mossy stone, listened to the story of his love for the
fair, blue-eyed maiden, of Fort Tejon, and of all his hopes and plans,
till the sun went down and the silver moon looked into the ravine.

Tolume was jealous no longer; so they became friends, and after
listening to the story of Death’s Valley and the great Golden Boulder,
he promised to go with Dick in search of it.

Nothing was said on their return to the camp of the closing event of
the day’s hunt, but Dick saw with great satisfaction, that his new
friend and the dark-eyed girl he had saved from death, were again
mutually happy.

Indians generally care but little for gold, but this tribe had mingled
enough with the Spaniards to know something of its value; so the young
Indian was very ready to accompany Dick in his adventures, and to
accede to all his proposals, for he soon learned to look upon our hero
as a superior being.

“To-night,” whispered Dick, as he passed carelessly by the young
Indian, “when the moon rises above the mountain-tops, we will start.”

The Indian bowed assent, and looked fondly upon the young girl he must
leave, and whom he loved with all the fierceness of his wild nature.

During the afternoon he told her he was going away for a short
time, but would return bringing her beautiful feathers, embroidered
moccasins, strings of shining beads, and all that the heart of a pretty
Indian girl could desire. Then they parted, as all lovers part, with
mingled hopes and fears.

When the moon rose clear and bright, casting its soft, mellow light
over the glowing landscape, the young men met silently upon the brow of
the hill, and started upon their journey.

They were well equipped with guns and ammunition. Each had a good
horse, and as much food as they could carry; the only thing they had to
fear was lack of water and hostile Indians.

For two days they traveled on without encountering any difficulty;
but on the third they entered a dry, waste tract of country entirely
destitute of vegetation.

The ground was covered with a formation of salt and soda, and when the
wind blew it nearly suffocated them.

“This must be Death’s Valley,” said Dick, as they rode on, talking
cheerfully, looking carefully for any signs of gold. By noon they began
to feel very thirsty, but there was no water, no cooling spring in all
the vast desert spread out before them.

The burning rays of the noontide sun seemed to dry up their blood, and
their tongues were parched and feverish, but there was no shelter;
no water. Heat, thirst, and travel began to tell upon their horses,
so they dismounted, and led them by the bridle, till night came on,
finding them weary and faint, and, above all, perishing with thirst.
Their fevered tongues began to swell, and it seemed as though the salt
dust permeated their whole bodies; but they dare not stop, even for a
moment, they were dying of thirst, and there was no water.

At last the clear, full moon rose over the desert waste of Death’s
Valley and over the wayworn prospectors. They thought no more of gold,
only of water—clear, cool, bubbling water.

It seemed to Dick as though he could hear the murmuring of the brook
that rippled by the cottage of his childhood home, near Fort Tejon.

He walked along, every moment growing more hopeless, when suddenly he
saw something bright and shining on the ground. It was a curious bow
and quiver ornamented with little bells of silver and gold.

“Some one has been here, and only a short time ago, or the wind would
have swept away the track,” said Dick, as he bent down and examined a
footprint upon the ground. “‘Tis too small for a man,” he said. “‘Tis
very strange.”

Then he gave a loud shout, and they both listened eagerly, till they
heard a low faint voice in reply, and, looking around, they saw by the
clear moonlight an odd little figure trying in vain to rise from the
ground. The young men hastened to his assistance, and found a queer,
little dwarf, with a long grey beard reaching nearly to his feet.

“Give me water!” said the man. “My horse has thrown me, and all day
long I have lain here in the burning sun, too weak to move, for I am
dying of thirst! Oh give me water, only a drop of water!”

“No water! No water!” cried Dick, in despair. “We, too, are famishing
for want of it! We must on, we have not a moment to lose, or we shall
die here in the desert.”

“Do not leave me,” cried the little man. “I can show you water, but I
cannot move!” So they placed him upon one of the horses, and he pointed
out the way.

Dick would have thrown aside the bow and quiver, but as he looked at
the curious little being beside him, quaint old Indian traditions came
to his mind.

“This bow may serve me yet,” he said, as he secured it to his leather
belt. “Who knows but it belongs to one of the dwarf treasure-guard of
the valley.”

All night they traveled on and till nearly noon the next day, when a
little green spot in the desert’s sand met their sight. The horses
snuffed the refreshing smell of water, and horses and men, faint,
weary, and famishing, exerting all their strength started on the full
run for the blessed Eden before them, and soon sank down upon the soft
green grass by the side of a clear, bubbling spring.

“Now I will leave you,” said the little man. “Give me my bow and
quiver. We are even, I showed you the water, and you brought me to it.”

“Not quite so fast, my little friend,” said Dick. “Before I give you
the bow and quiver, or permit you to leave us, you must lead us to the
treasure of the valley, then furnish us with a guide, two good mules,
and as much of the treasure as we can carry away.”

“I accede to your proposition on one condition! Never attempt to point
out the treasure to any one, or to return to it yourself. If you do,
death will swiftly follow, and the treasure you shall carry away will
be lost to you and your family for ever.”

So they gave the promise he required, and as they were very tired they
concluded to wait till morning and made their frugal supper under the
trees, drinking plentifully of the clear, delicious water; and slept
peacefully till morning.

The little gray man woke them early. “Come,” he said. “The sun is
rising, we must away.” So they arose, and taking a drink of water and
eating a tortilla, started.

For some hours they traveled on in the pleasant morning air, and just
as the sun was beginning to be scorching in its heat they entered a
deep ravine, and there they saw the wonderful Golden Boulder, and
countless precious stones, and nuggets of bright yellow gold scattered
round it upon the shining sand.

Dick and his companions, were bewildered by the glittering spectacle,
and a thousand glowing visions filled their minds. The little gray man
blew a shrill whistle. Another little gray man appeared, and bowing
low, said humbly:—

“What is the will of the master?”

“Food and drink!” answered the master.

The slave prepared a more comfortable meal than the young men had
enjoyed since they left the encampment, and they ate heartily while the
slave served them.

When they had eaten, the chief ordered the slave to lade the mules with
treasure and conduct the young men to the confines of the valley.

Then Dick returned the bow and quiver to the gray chief, and bid him
good-by.

“Never forget your promise, or beware!” said the gray man, as they
turned away, and looking back they saw in the distance the last of the
little man with up-raised fingers.

“He is saying again beware!” said Dick, laughing. How they went,
neither of the young men could tell, but in a wonderfully short time
they were out of Death’s Valley. The Indian returned to his tribe, but
Dick, with a happy heart, started for Fort Tejon, and after a speedy
and safe journey he reached his early home.

It soon became rumored about, that he was the richest young man in
the whole country. In a short time, poor Dick, the half-breed, was
forgotten, but every one courted Don Richard Fielding, the rich and
elegant Spanish gentleman.

There was a great feast made at the fort, when Don Richard was united
in the “holy bonds of matrimony” with the Colonel’s lovely daughter,
and never was man more happy than he, when he led his golden-haired
bride through the halls of his pleasant mansion.

“We will travel by-and-by, love,” he whispered. “But first we will rest
and be happy in our own dear home!”

Continue Reading

JUNG-FRAU MALEEN.

Zaletta’s book dropped upon the floor, and her tongue refused her heart
utterance, but Guilerme’s eyes rested upon the beautiful girl with
delighted surprise.

“Found at last, my own Zaletta.” His arms opened, and the trembling,
lonely heart of the maiden found its true resting-place.

They sat down side by side, hand clasping hand, and explained all the
past to each other, how Guilerme had written and received no answer,
and at last returned to find her gone, and his heart desolate.

Zaletta told him all she had suffered, and of the kindness she had
received at the cottage. Then Guilerme took the old woman’s hands and
thanked her with a voice trembling with emotion.

The mother rejoiced with them, but there mingled a sorrow for her son
with the joy. “Poor son,” she thought, “He is very fond of the child.”

Soon another knock came, and again the old woman asked, “Who knocks at
my door so late in the night,” and the dwarf answered:—

“Mother! mother! I’ve struck the lode at last.”

She opened the door, and he threw his arms round her neck and kissed
her, then he came in, and saw Guilerme; and they both told their
stories.

“So,” said the dwarf, when Guilerme had finished: “You have come to
take my pretty maid away? Well, if she loves you, ’tis all right, I
have had no time to think of women; but, somehow, I have grown fond of
her,” and he sighed heavily. “I have struck the lode at last. I am a
rich man, but I must find some one to share my good fortune with me,
some pure, good little girl like our Zaletta.”

In the morning, when Guilerme and the dwarf went to the mine together,
they found it even richer than the dwarf had thought it, the night
before. Guilerme offered to furnish the money to build a mill to crush
the ore, for one-half the mine; and so they became partners.

Soon after this, Guilerme and Zaletta were married at the cottage in
the wood, and in time the good dwarf was united to a pretty Mexican
lass, who made him very happy.

After a time, Guilerme built a fine house for his wife, and, when they
had two little children, he took his family home to the old hacienda.

The mother and sister did not recognize their old servant in Guilerme’s
brilliant señora, but the old father (God bless him) knew her, when she
placed her little soft hand in his, and kissed him; and very dearly he
learned to love his dutiful daughter.

So they were all rich and happy, as long as it pleased God to spare
their lives.

THE STRONG MAN OF SANTA BARBARA.

Many years ago, in the old Spanish mission of Santa Barbara, lived an
old Mexican, named Joza Silva, with his wife and child, in a little
adobe house, containing but one room.

There was a small window, rudely latticed with unplaned laths, and a
door opening upon a pleasant view of the golden-sanded beach and the
restless waves of the ocean.

At that time, the Spaniards, Mexicans, and Indians were the only
inhabitants of the country.

Over these people, the padres, who established the mission, had
acquired a most unlimited sway, ruling them more completely than even
the Pope his subjects of the Holy See of Rome.

The Mexicans are an indolent race. The luxurious climate of Santa
Barbara is not favorable to the development of latent energy in
any people, least of all to the inert Mexicans; yet the padres,
by awakening their superstitious fears, made them work until the
wilderness became a vineyard, and the golden orange glowed amid the
leaves of the fragrant trees.

Poor Joza disliked any exertion, and, if left to his own inclination,
would have lived on the spontaneous productions of that almost tropical
climate, and been happy after his oyster fashion.

Often he obeyed very reluctantly, those whom he thought had power, not
only over the body, but could doom his soul to unnumbered years of
suffering, in the fearful fires of purgatory.

The padres lived in great ease and comfort; though so far from the
elegances of the great world, their own ingenuity and the rapid growth
of the country, furnished them with many luxuries.

Their quaint adobe houses were very pleasant, built after the Spanish
style, in the form of a square with an open court in the center.

Beautiful gardens flourished around them, in which grew the fragrant
citron, the lemon, with its shining leaves, and nearly all the rare
fruits and flowers of the tropics.

For some years, Joza labored in the vineyards and gardens; but the
ambitious padres were planning a greater work. A new church was to be
built, and elaborately ornamented; a convent and college was planned;
extensive grounds to be laid out and cultivated, and all to be
surrounded by the enduring adobe wall of mud and stones.

One evening, after a weary day in the vineyard, just as Joza was about
starting for home, padre Antonio called him.

“On the morrow,” he said, “we will begin to lay the foundation of the
new church, the Grand San Pedro; you shall be permitted to aid in the
blessed work, by carrying stones and mortar, for which great mercy
thank the holy Mother and all the saints, especially the blessed San
Pedro, who is the patron saint of this great enterprise.”

Then the padre blessed him, and wandered off into the delicious shade
of the garden.

In the gathering gloom of the twilight, Joza returned to his cottage,
more disheartened than ever, wondering how much more torturing the
fires of purgatory could be, than carrying stones under the burning sun
of Santa Barbara.

As he approached his cottage, he saw his wife sitting before the door
with a stranger, both smoking, with the greatest apparent enjoyment.

His son, and a large dog, were rolling about on the soft earth, near
them, raising a cloud of dust, and making a great noise, which seemed
to disturb no one, and to afford them much pleasure.

When Joza came up, his wife introduced the stranger as his old
playmate, and her brother Schio, who, many years before, had gone away,
and, until that evening, had never been heard from.

Joza welcomed his old friend in the cordial Spanish way, placing his
house at his disposal.

For a short time, in pleasant memories of their boyhood, he forgot the
weary present. After they had eaten their frugal supper, and were again
seated in the vine-clad doorway, Joza looked out upon the great ocean,
dusky with the shadows of evening, growing sad and silent.

“What ails thee, brother,” said Schio, in his clear, ringing voice,
that sounded like the strong notes of a clarionet. “You are changed;
you are growing old, but see me, I am as young in heart as your boy,
and strong as a bullock.”

He lifted a great stone that lay near him, and held it at arms’ length,
laughing loudly, till the caves of the ocean sent back a hundred echoes.

With many sighs, Joza told the story of his troubles; how, for years,
till his back had grown old and stiff, he had worked in the vineyard of
the padre, but the purple harvest had brought no blessing to him.

How a harder task was to be laid upon him. He was to hew and carry the
heavy foundation-stones of the Grand San Pedro, and even at the thought
of so great labor, the beaded sweat rolled down his forehead.

His sympathizing wife sobbed aloud, but the brother only laughed, till
again he woke the mysterious voices of the ocean caves.

Half angry, Joza turned to Schio, saying: “‘Tis all very well for you,
Schio, to laugh; you who roam at will in the cool of the evening, and
rest in the delightful shade, while the scorching sunshine is burning
my life out.”

Poor Joza buried his face in his hands and sighed wearily.

“Cheer up, brother,” said Schio, pleasantly. “Listen to me. Go in the
morning, to padre Antonio, and tell him you are getting old and feeble,
and cannot work through the heat of the day, but if he will appoint
your task, you will accomplish it after the burning sun has gone down.

“Tell him if you carry those large stones in the day, your life will
be consumed like the burning candles before the altar; but that in the
cool of the evening, your strength returns as in the days of youth.”

“And what, then?” said Joza, wearily.

“I will see that the morning finds your task accomplished,” replied
Schio.

That night Joza dreamed that his tasks were ended, and that all day
long he luxuriated in most delicious ease, under the shade of olive
trees, and, when he woke, his heart grew sad, that it was only a dream.

He rose in haste to go to his task, for he had overslept himself; then
he thought of Schio’s advice. “I will do as he told me, though I fear
’twill do no good,” thought he. “I can but fail, and who knows what
may come.

“Schio is such a strange fellow; when he’s talking, it seems as though
a hundred voices rung changes on his words. God grant he’s not in
league with the devil.”

Joza crossed himself, and muttered prayers most devoutly until he
reached the house of the padre Antonio.

After he had told the padre all Schio had directed, his task was
appointed, and he returned home, all day long resting in the shade of
his favorite lime-tree, smoking his cigarettés, and was happy as only
a careless, indolent Mexican could be, enjoying the luxury of complete
repose.

Toward evening he began to be a little uneasy, but with the dewy
twilight, came Schio, waking the mysterious echoes, with his ringing
laughter, and, as the darkness deepened, he placed a lantern in Joza’s
hand, saying: “Now, brother, we will go to the task you complain of so
bitterly.”

Silently they pursued their way, until they arrived at the huge pile,
upon which the padre had appointed Joza to begin his work.

Many days would have passed before he could have hewn the rock as the
padre desired, but, with one blow of an immense drill, in Schio’s
powerful hand, the rock was cleft in twain. As he reduced it to its
proper size and shape, Joza stood by, trembling with fear; then pointed
out the chosen spot, and, in silence and darkness, the first stone of
the Grand San Pedro was laid.

When the full moon arose, clear and bright, shedding its floods of
golden light over the mission of Santa Barbara, and the blue waves
that washed its sanded shore, the laborers had gone—Joza, to sleep
peacefully in his little cottage, and Schio, down to the echoing
caverns by the sounding sea.

Morning came, gorgeous with sunshine and beauty, and the padre walked
out to inspect the site of his ambitious dreams.

He was an avaricious and unscrupulous man.

In building this new church, he hoped to erect a tower of strength and
greatness for himself, more than an edifice in which to worship the
blessed Christ, the immaculate Virgin, and the holy saints.

When he saw the huge foundation-stone that Schio had laid, he was
greatly amazed.

Even the hewing of it, he knew to be the work of days, and there it
was, cleanly cleft, and in its proper place.

“There is a mystery here,” he said; “the people will believe it a
miracle; be it as it will, I must make the most of it.”

He called Joza, who came to him smiling and happy.

“You have done well for the beginning,” said the padre, “but to-night,
you must lay two stones like this.”

“Holy San Pedro, help me!” exclaimed Joza. “It is impossible!” and he
turned away, very sorrowful.

At night he told Schio what the padre had said. Schio frowned, and
answered, “The padre should not ask too much; but this shall be as he
desires.”

Again they went out in the twilight, and before the rising of the
golden moon, two more foundation-stones were laid.

At daybreak the padre arose, and hastened to see if the task had been
accomplished, and before his wondering eyes, lay the three immense
foundation-stones, smooth, and in their proper places.

“Holy Virgin! I will give him enough to-night,” exclaimed the amazed
padre, and again the task was doubled.

Thus it went on, night after night, and week after week, till the Grand
San Pedro began to rise up like Aladdin’s wonderful palace, but, Schio,
the man of iron, grew very angry, as the full moon arose upon him,
bending over his unfinished task.

“Joza,” said he, “the padre may go too far for even Schio to bear; bid
him beware!

“If the morning sun finds me here, I will not answer for the result;
too much pressure will burst open the hidden recesses of earth, and
cause the caverns of ocean to resound with fearful echoes of mystery.

“Can he think San Pedro will bless avarice and oppression, even in the
padre Antonio?”

In the morning Joza went to the padre, and entreated him to lessen the
task, but he only laughed, and said: “You are getting fat and lazy. I
will not double your work to-night, but you shall do four times as much
as ever, and I will be there to see it accomplished.”

Joza departed with a heavy heart, dreading to meet Schio; and when he
told him in the evening, he made no reply, but a black frown covered
his whole face, and his eyes shot fire.

That night the padre Antonio went out to watch Joza, and when he saw
Schio cleaving the huge stones with one blow of his wonderful drill, he
thought he had not imposed task enough, and resolved he would command
him to finish the Grand San Pedro in one night.

Just after midnight the moon arose, and the startled Joza heard, at
every blow of the drill, a hundred echoes ring out from the ocean
caverns. But Schio worked steadily on.

“Schio,” said Joza, suddenly, “what is it makes these mournings from
the sea caves?” But Schio only answered by a heavier blow from his
hammer, and under their feet the ground shook violently, then opened,
and, where the Grand San Pedro should have stood, yawned a great
gulf, that closed upon the labor of many nights; and with the great
foundation-stones went down the ambitious padre.

The morning sun rose on a scene of great desolation, but only Joza was
there, with trembling voice, to tell the tale of the padre Antonio and
the Grand San Pedro.

When others spoke of the great earth quake, he said: “‘Twas all Schio’s
doings.

“The padre would never be satisfied, and the man of iron grew so angry,
that he struck the great stone from the heart of the mountain, and
then the earth shook, opened, and swallowed up the padre Antonio and
the Grand San Pedro.”

Schio was never afterward seen at the mission of Santa Barbara, but
often, at evening, his ringing voice was wafted along the shore, from
the cave of echoes, down by the sea.

In a small village upon the shore of the German Ocean lived a man whose
wife had golden tresses so long and heavy that when they were unbound
they covered her like a cloak of sunbeams, and reached to her feet. Her
complexion was so fair, and her eyes so beautiful, that her equal was
not to be found in all the Fatherland.

At last she fell sick and died, leaving her husband all alone in the
world, except one wee baby, who lay sleeping in the cradle. At first
the father was heart-broken, and noticed nothing, but after a time
all his love turned to the helpless infant, who every day grew more
lovely, and at last became as fair as her mother, with the same wealth
of golden hair and soft violet eyes, and all the Fatherland, from far
and near, was filled with the story of her great beauty.

When she was only a little maid, she would go down to the sea-shore
and dance upon the sand, until her light straw hat would drop from her
head, and her waving tresses fall about her like a shower of pure gold,
and her violet eyes beam with the brightness of stars, while the flush
upon her cheeks rivaled the soft, fresh bloom of the peach.

The maiden was called the fair Jung-frau Maleen, as she grew older
and every day added to her charms, till half the young men in the
country were ready to lay down their life for her; but though her ways
were winning, and she had a pleasant smile for all, no one could be
familiar with her. In her guileless innocence and beauty she seemed
a great way out of their reach, yet she danced with them, talked and
laughed with them, till her clear, sweet voice rang out upon the air
like the soft notes of a silver bell, but when she turned away, they
felt that she had gone from them forever.

Among her lovers was a bashful student named Handsel, who worshiped the
Jung-frau Maleen with all the devotion of his great noble heart, but
ever at a distance.

He seldom spoke to her.

Even the rustle of her dress as she passed along would set his heart to
beating wildly, and the sound of her voice, or one glance of her violet
eye would send the hot blood rushing through his veins, dyeing his face
and neck a deep crimson. Poor Handsel!

He would say to his heart, “Down, fool, the star of heaven is not for
you, look for some lovely flower of earth,” but in all the Fatherland
he knew there was not another maiden who could satisfy the hunger of
his heart.

At all the village festivals he looked on in the distance, and saw
others worship at the shrine he dared not approach. “I have nothing
worth offering her,” he would say, and so he was silent.

He was handsome and manly, and Maleen always looked for him in the
crowd, and when she saw him standing far apart with his large dark eyes
fixed upon her, she was more content than in his absence. If she had
questioned her heart for the reason of this she would have blushed with
confusion, for Jung-frau Maleen was not one who would willingly yield
her heart unsought.

Maleen always loved the bright, sparkling sea, and often she would go
out alone in her little boat, and sail for hours over the blue waters,
gathering the pretty sea-weed, and indulging in the day-dreams that
German maidens love.

One morning as Handsel was going to the college, he saw the Jung-frau
step into her boat and push away from the shore.

He took off his hat and bowed.

She looked at him with that rare, sweet smile that always made him
happy for days.

He stopped and looked back after her as the boat glided from the
shore, and it seemed as though the sunshine of heaven and its bright
reflection upon the waters were united, and was poured out in one rich
flood of glory over her golden hair.

Handsel passed on out of the light into the quiet seclusion of the
college, and bending over his book did not notice the rising of a
thick, black cloud that from a tiny speck soon swept over the whole
sky, then burst into wind and rain.

He was living over the heroic ages of the olden time, when the darkness
fell across his book, and looking out the window he saw the fierce
storm gathering, and heard the wailing winds crying out, Maleen!
Maleen! ‘Twas but the work of a moment to rush out into the storm and
down to the lashed sea-shore and there, he saw a crowd of anxious faces
all turned hopelessly out upon the pitiless breakers.

He looked, and there tossed wildly upon the white-capped waves, rose
and fell the frail boat, and pale and hopeless sat the pride of the
Fatherland, the beautiful Jung-frau Maleen, her matchless golden hair
hanging like a damp shroud about her.

There were the hosts of her admirers standing upon the shore wringing
their hands and weeping, they saw only death in an attempt to save
her, and no one was so mad as to venture out upon the storm-lashed sea.

Even her father stood paralyzed in the hopelessness of his agony.

A strong, manly voice burst in upon the echoes of the storm. “A boat! a
boat!” cried Handsel, with a stout-hearted determination in his voice
to brave the danger of the breakers, and save the maiden he loved from
the angry waters.

A long rope was tied about his body, and in a moment more the life-boat
was tossing upon the crested waves, with the brave student at the prow,
and the poor helpless Maleen rose up and held out her white arms toward
him.

On over the cruel waves, the boats were nearing each other. The agony
of suspense that filled the breathless crowd! Great God! if they
should meet and crash together!

Down they went into the great sea gulf; Maleen with outstretched arms,
and Handsel with his great heart beating like a signal-drum in his
bosom, pale but unfaltering.

Down! down they went!

Now up came the billow, but only one boat, and Handsel at the prow was
struggling for the shore.

“Oh, Maleen! Maleen!” burst from the father’s white lips, then a tress
of rich golden hair hanging over the side of the boat met his sight,
and he knew that Maleen was in the boat with Handsel.

On it came to the shore, like a charmed boat it escaped the perilous
breakers, till at last, no one could tell how, only through God’s great
mercy, they were saved, and Handsel stood upon the shore with Maleen in
his arms.

He gave the maiden to her weeping father, then sank away, and no one
thought of him, all were gathered around Maleen, who had fainted.

Soon she opened her violet eyes, and looked around searchingly through
the crowd with a strange fear. “Where, where, is Handsel?” she cried,
in wild excitement.

Then they all wondered how they could have forgotten him, and looking
round they saw him sitting alone, with his head bowed down upon his
hands. He did not want their thanks.

‘Twas joy enough to him, that he had saved Maleen, and, brave man as he
was, he sat there weeping like a child.

Maleen rose up, and walked feebly to him, and kneeling down upon the
sand, she put her hand upon his shoulder, and whispered “Handsel!”

Handsel raised his head, and saw what he had never dared hope for, in
the soft violet eyes upturned to his.

He answered only, “Maleen!” and, throwing his arms around her, pressed
her fair golden-crowned head to his bosom.

Thus it was, that in the presence of God, the storm, and all the
people—there by the the wild sea-shore, Handsel was betrothed to the
most beautiful maiden in all the dear Fatherland,—The Jung-frau
Maleen.

JUANETTA;

OR,

THE TREASURE OF THE LAKE OF THE TULIES

A great many years ago, before the discovery of the wonderful gold
mines of California, there lived in Los Angelos an old Spanish family
of pure Castilian blood.

Don Carlos De Strada was very rich. Far as the eye could reach his
broad acres were spread out to his admiring view, and his flocks and
herds almost literally fed upon a thousand hills.

His house was large and commodious, built after the Spanish fashion—an
adobe house—surrounded on all sides by a wide piazza, and in the
center an open courtyard. The windows were guarded by latticed bars of
iron, and all the gates and doors were opened by massive keys. Bolts
and bars belong as much to a Spanish house, as light elegancies to the
hotel of a Parisian.

When Don Carlos left the banks of the Guadalquivir for the wild Lake of
the Tulies, he brought with him a beautiful young wife, who loved him
with all the passionate ardor of a Spanish woman.

It was a great change for the dainty lady, from the stately halls of
castellated Spain to the wilderness of Los Angelos, although it was a
wilderness of sweets, and the most enchanting climate in the world.
Though the Don was a thorough-bred aristocrat, he was a shrewd business
man, and so intent was he on becoming a great lord of the soil in the
new country, that he did not notice the roses fading from the olive
cheeks of his wife, and the soft mellow light of the woman’s eye giving
place to the more ethereal brightness of spiritual fire.

Spanish women seldom work, but in their hours of apparent listlessness
they indulge in wild and ardent imaginings; and thus she would sit on
the vine-clad piazza of the inner court, looking up to the clear sky,
unrivaled even in Italy, until she would almost fancy, from the heavens
above, she heard the rippling of the blue waters of the Guadalquivir.

There was one great hunger of her heart the Don seldom satisfied.
She was his wife, and beautiful; as such, he loved her; but he never
lavished the thousand little endearments upon her that is the natural
food of woman’s heart.

As the evening drew near, she would go to the barred window and look
out upon the luxurious landscape, thinking only of the coming of her
lord; and when she saw him, she would go timidly out to meet him, and
hold her beautiful oval face up for a kiss, longing for him to throw
his arms around her, and, if only for a moment, hold her to his heart.

He would kiss her lightly, saying, coldly: “There, that will do; be a
woman now, not a baby.” Then she would call up a quiet dignity, until
she could steal for a few moments away, unobserved, and press her hands
tightly upon her heart, saying: “If he would only love me! If he would
only love me, I could live away from home, away from Spain, from every
thing, for him! I must learn to be a woman, and then, at least he’ll
respect me.

“Oh, dear! I wish he didn’t think it so foolish in me to want to be
loved! But I must go to him. I’ll try and talk like a woman, but I
don’t know any thing about the business that occupies his thoughts and
time. He never tells me any thing because he thinks I’m such a baby. If
he’d only love me, and let me be a baby sometimes, I think I’d be more
of a woman.”

Then the young wife would try to call up from her weakness new
strength, and wiping away the traces of her emotion, would go out to
be what pleased her lord, only a little paler, but with heart-strings
quivering like an Æolian harp in a cold north wind.

One year passed in the strange, new country, and a beautiful babe was
born to the ancient house of De Strada, but the mother died, and was
buried by the clear Lake of the Tulies.

Don Carlos wept for his beautiful young wife, whose heart had been a
sealed book, “Love, the Secret of Happiness,” written for him in an
unknown tongue.

His days of mourning were few. The rain fell upon the new-made grave as
he gave the infant in charge of an Indian nurse who had just lost her
own little baby. The savage mother took the child to her bosom, while
the polished father turned away and looked out upon the green hills
rich in verdure, counting the probable increase of his flocks and herds
in the coming year, and, in the pleasant prospect, forgot his sorrow.

The little Juanetta grew to be a beautiful, healthy child, under the
care of her indulgent nurse.

She knew where all the wild flowers grew, could shoot an arrow very
well, or climb a tree, and, in many of the curious arts of the tribe,
was quite skillful.

She was well versed in all the Indian traditions, and believed them
with childish credulity. She seemed to have drawn the wildness, of the
Indian nature from the dusky bosom of her nurse, and with her little
bow and arrow would roam the woods for whole days.

At times her father would ask the nurse, “How is Juanetta?” and, at
the reply, “The child is well,” he would forget that every day she was
growing less and less an infant, and needed more and more a mother’s
care.

Thus things went on until she was eleven years old. She was very
tall of her age, with her long black hair hanging over her graceful
shoulders, her rich olive complexion deepened by the glowing sun, and
her dark eyes, fawn-like in their softness and timidity, she looked
like a beautiful child of the wild wood.

Her father would look at her, and say: “The girl is a perfect savage;
she must be placed at a convent; the Sisters would soon make a lady of
her, for the De Strada blood is rich in her veins;” and then he would
smile proudly at her rare beauty.

The summer following brought a change to Don Carlos. Till then he had
been prosperous; but there had been no rain, and the grass withered and
dried up until the famished cattle died by thousands, and the hills,
once covered with animal life, were left bare and desolate. Don Carlos,
who lost heavily, became more than ever absorbed in business cares, and
again the child was forgotten.

Juanetta saw that her father was greatly troubled, and she thought if
she could only find some of the treasures hidden so many years ago
by the great Chief of the Tulies, she could make him rich again, and
he would smile upon her as he sometimes used to before the cattle
died—since then, his dark frowning face had frightened her.

She had often listened to her old nurse, sitting by the clear lake, as
she told her how, years ago, a great ship came to Los Angelos filled
with fair men, with long flowing beards, golden in the sunshine, and
eyes like the blue summer sky, and how there was one among them, taller
and nobler than all the rest, who was their Chief.

For days they rode about the country, making their camp by the Lake of
the Tulies, and tradition said they brought beautiful shining stones,
that glistened like the stars of night, and great sacks of yellow gold
to the lake, and buried them there at midnight; then went away in the
great ship over the water.

They were seen by an old Indian woman, who was gathering magic herbs,
but from that moment it seemed as though a fearful spell had fallen
upon her, for when she tried to tell the story, just as she was about
to speak of the place where the treasure was hidden, her tongue would
cleave to the roof of her mouth, and she could not utter a word; and
when she attempted to go to the spot where it was buried, her feet
would fasten themselves to the ground, and she could not move. From
that night she seemed bewitched, and she soon died, taking the secret
of the buried treasure with her to the unknown spirit land.

Juanetta had nothing to do but listen to the wild Indian lore, and roam
through the woods and down by the Lake of the Tulies; and it was not
strange that with her poetic temperament, she reveled in the marvelous,
till it seemed to her the natural and the real.

She longed for the magic talisman to point her to the hidden treasure,
and show her the wonders of the deep, until she felt sure that one day
she should discover it. She told all these fancies to her nurse, who
was almost her only companion, and who encouraged her, believing her,
in her fond love, to be one of the Great Spirit’s chosen children.

The winter came on with rare beauty. The rain, so long withheld, fell
copiously, until the hills were covered with luxurious verdure and
gorgeous flowers. Don Carlos’s heart grew lighter; he might hope to
recover his losses in time. The orange orchard was laden with fruit,
and the lemons fell to the ground from the bending trees. Juanetta
loved the green grass, the fragrant flowers, and the golden fruit, and
her wild nature expanded into the poetry of the year.

One morning she rose with the crimson dawning, and, stealing away while
her old nurse slept, she ran softly to the Lake of the Tulies, and
bathed her face in the clear water till the brightness of youth and
morning seemed united in her radiant beauty.

Suddenly Juanetta stopped, her tiny hand dripping with water, half
raised to her glowing face, and her soft, dark eyes sparkling with
strange excitement. Upon the brow of the distant hill, still covered
with the mist of the morning, she saw the Chief of the Lake of the
Tulies. She knew it was him by the soft, purple light that gathered
around him; by the glow of perpetual youth that enveloped him, and by
the crimson clouds that dropped their fleece so near, and yet could not
conceal his noble bearing.

To her eye, there seemed a shining glory about his bronze beard, and
his brow and cheeks glowing in the early sunlight, were fairer than
any she had ever seen among the dusky Indian tribes or olive Spaniards.

Down the hill he came, a light straw hat in his hand, and the air
playing with the light waves of his abundant hair. On he came to the
lake, and to the spot where the little maiden sat, full of wonder and
admiration.

He, too, seemed a little surprised when he saw her, but in the soft
Spanish tongue, bade her “Good morning,” and asked whose little girl
she was, and what had brought her so early to the charmed lake.

“I am Don Carlos’s daughter, Juanetta,” said the child, “and you, the
Chief of the Lake of the Tulies?”

A smile gathered around the lips of the Chief, and filled his blue
eyes, with a light so pleasant that the child drew near him, and placed
her little brown hand confidingly in his. He drew her to him, saying,
kindly:—

“You know me, then? I am the Chief of the Lake of the Tulies, and what
can I do for the little Juanetta?”

“Tell me,” said the child, “of all the wonderful treasures hidden by
the lake, and of the palaces of the sea, and the coral groves under the
great waters!”

The Chief led her to a rock that overhung the lake, and told her to
look over into the waters, and she saw them clear and sparkling in the
morning sun, and it seemed as though the light of a thousand brilliants
was stealing through the shining waves.

He told her of glittering diamonds beneath the sea, richer far than all
the hills and valleys of Los Angelos, covered with flocks and herds;
and how the coral trees outshone the trees of earth, in beauty, and of
the crystal palaces of the deep, and of the maidens of the sea, whose,
purple hair like sea-weed, sometimes floated above the waves.

Juanetta told him she had often found locks of their silken hair upon
the beach, and how beautiful it was. He told her of the sounding
shells, and ocean harps breathing their rich, deep-toned melody,
and the thousand mysteries of the wild sea lore, till the delighted
Juanetta begged him to take her with him down, down to the crystal
caves, and let her become a sea-maiden, and gather pearls under the
blue waters of the deep.

But he replied: “You are a child of the woods, not of the wave; you may
become an immortal spirit in the sky, but never in the deep, deep sea.”

Tears gathered in her eyes, and she said: “You are cruel to Juanetta,
Chief of the Lake of the Tulies. You of all your wealth of beauty,
will grant Juanetta nothing. Juanetta must live alone, in the woods and
fields, with only the old nurse and the father who always forgets her.”

He soothed the little maiden gently, and told her he would grant her
greater treasures than those of the deep, if she would obey him; and
she kissed his hand and promised.

Then he took from his bosom, a talisman, and gave it to her, saying:
“Juanetta, this cross will guard you from evil spirits. When you are
troubled or angry, take it from your bosom, and ask the great Father
above to bless you and help you. Do this earnestly five minutes, and
the evil spirits will leave you.” And Juanetta kissed the cross and
promised.

“I have yet another talisman” he continued, “and very powerful. It
opens a new world of delight and beauty, to those who are willing to
give their time, care, and diligent attention to the study of it. Would
you like it, Juanetta? You could no longer wander all day through the
woods, hunting wild-flowers, or dream away your life by the Lake of the
Tulies. Could you give up the wild pleasures of your present life, for
the gifts of the talisman I have promised?”

Juanetta’s face was glowing with wonder and delight; she longed to
enter the unknown promised land:

“I will do any thing, I will give up any thing you tell me, she cried,
with enthusiasm.”

She was enchanted with the unseen gifts that left so much to her fervid
imagination to picture, and she was delighted with the giver, the
handsome young Chief of the Lake of the Tulies, whose pleasant smile,
and pleasing words, made morning’s golden sunshine in her heart.

“But won’t you show me where the treasure of the Lake of the Tulies
lies hidden?” she said, blushingly. “All those rare gems, crimson,
purple, golden, and diamonds sparkling like the morning dew. What can
be more beautiful than these?”

All her life, Juanetta had heard of the matchless luster of these
hidden jewels, and now to be so near them, with the Chief of the Lake
of the Tulies by her side, she felt that her day dreams of beauty
might, with one word of his, or a touch of his magic wand, be realized.

“Do not ask for too much in one morning, Juanetta,” he replied,
laughing. “Now for talisman number two,” and he took a book from his
pocket, and until the sun had risen high in the heavens, they sat
bending over it together with mutual pleasure.

Then the Chief of the Lake of the Tulies arose, taking her little
bronzed hand in his, saying: “I must go, my little Juanetta. Keep the
talisman, and study it well. The new morning is dawning for you now;
what a queen of light ’twill make you?” And he passed his hand over the
thick waves of tangled hair that fell in long masses over the shoulders
of the beautiful child.

Tears gathered in the dark eyes of the maiden. “Are you going now,
Chief of the Lake of the Tulies?” said she, sadly: “Going to the
crystal palaces of the sea? And shall you take the treasure of the lake
with you? Take the talisman, I can do nothing without you! Here alone!
Only the old nurse, and the father who never thinks, never thinks of
Juanetta! And you, too, will forget Juanetta!”

“No! no, Juanetta, I will not forget you, but will come again
to-morrow. I will not go to the sea, since you cannot go, but will stay
and teach you the use of the talisman, and the treasure of the lake
shall rest till we can find it together! So now good-by to-day.”

And then they parted, and Juanetta was very happy in the light of the
new dawning.

All day long she studied, and many successive days, and the Chief of
the Lake of the Tulies always came, either at morning or at evening, to
hear her lesson.

Sometimes she would ask him about the hidden treasure, as they walked
by the lake; he would smile and say, “I have found a treasure by the
Lake of the Tulies richer than all the gems of the ocean,” and when
Juanetta begged him to show it to her, he would tell, her to look into
the water; but she could see only the reflection of her own sweet
face, full of wondering happiness.

Then he would laugh again, and say, he could not tell her now of his
treasure by the Lake of the Tulies, but he would describe the rich gold
mine he had discovered in the cañon, and tell her there was gold enough
in it almost to fill up the lake.

Thus weeks and months passed by. Juanetta was twelve years old. She
had improved rapidly in her studies, and had learned to call her
young teacher by another name, not so long or high sounding, but very
pleasant to them both, and often they would laugh at their first
strange meeting by the charmed Lake of the Tulies.

At last her father was aroused to the sense of her increasing beauty.
He saw, that the years of childhood were fast passing away, and that
she stood upon the threshold of dawning womanhood.

He was greatly surprised, and delighted to find her proficient in
studies of which he supposed she knew nothing, and he made all possible
haste to have her placed at a convent, where she could enjoy every
advantage of culture and refinement.

The young stranger who had been her teacher, became a great favorite
with Don Carlos. He was engaged in developing a mine, in the San
Francisco cañon, in which he succeeded in amassing great wealth, though
in after years the mine failed to yield its store of golden treasure.

Four years passed away, and Juanetta returned to her father’s house, an
accomplished, and beautiful lady. Again by the Lake of the Tulies, she
met the Chief of her childhood’s dreams, and there together, they found
the treasure greater than all the wealth of land or sea, the pure and
earnest love of their youthful hearts.

They were married, and Don Carlos’s heart swelled proudly, as he
thought of the great wealth their union had brought into his family,
while they blessed God for the lifelong treasure He had given them, by
the charmed Lake of the Tulies.

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