Just beyond and a little to one side of the second form, a third came to view, dimly revealed by the lesser firelight, but with a stillness of movement as absolute as that of the other. Had it been otherwise, the redskin would have discovered their approach.
The third Indian, indistinctly shown in the yellow glow, was recognized by Jack as the Sauk Hay-uta; the second was Deerfoot the Shawanoe. The latter smiled in his shadowy way, and shook one finger as a warning to his friend not to betray the presence of himself and companion.
Looking in the face of his foe, as though addressing him, the lad said:
"It's all right; the next time I wish you would not be so slow in getting here; if you'll keep still, I'll give this rascal a tussle that he don't expect."
The warrior must have thought it strange to be addressed in that fashion, and he must have noticed, too, the smile and flitting glances of his victim, but he could not have suspected the meaning of either, or he would have faced the other way.
With a partially suppressed shout, he stooped, as if gathering his muscles, and then, like a lion on the edge of a chasm, he made a terrific bound at the captive.
But he didn't reach him. A quick blow of the upraised arm sent his knife spinning in the darkness, and a dexterous flirt of Deerfoot's moccasin in front of the foot of the Indian, flung him headlong, after the manner of a beginner taking a header from his bicycle. His discomfiture was more complete than that of Lone Bear while pursuing the Shawanoe, for not only was he thrown forward with great violence, but (as was the case with Hay-uta, when he attacked Deerfoot), the knife was knocked from his grasp, by a blow so cleverly given that it seemed to have fractured his forearm.
Using mild language again, it might be said that the warrior was surprised. Whatever the cause of his overthrow, he could not mistake its meaning; it notified him that he ought to leave the spot without any tarrying. Fortunately, he had enough sense to do so. Despite the stinging pain in his arm, he scrambled to his feet, glanced over his shoulder, and seeing two strange Indians, darted off like a deer, vanishing among the trees with a suddenness which, it is safe to say, he never equaled before or afterward.
"What a good fellow you would be to figure in a story!" exclaimed the delighted Jack Carleton, wringing the hand of Deerfoot, and feeling as though he would like to fling his arms around his neck and embrace him.
The Shawanoe evidently was in good spirits, for his even white teeth showed between his lips, and his handsome black eyes sparkled in the firelight. He enjoyed the figure the Indian cut when charging upon his captive.
"My brother speaks words which Deerfoot does not know."
"What I mean to say is, that you have such a way of turning up when you're wanted very bad, that you're just the scamp to figure in a lot of story books; I wonder whether some simpleton won't undertake to use you that way. The only trouble will be that if he invents yarns about you, he'll make a fizzle of it, and, if he tells the truth, he will hardly be believed; but," added the youth, as if the mantle of prophecy had fallen on him, "it will depend a good deal on who it is that writes your life. Like enough it will be some fellow who won't be credited, no matter what he says—so he will be apt to pile it on."
Although Deerfoot possessed a good knowledge of the English language, he failed to understand his young friend, and awaited his explanation.
Meanwhile Hay-uta came forward and shook hands with Jack, muttering a word or two in broken English, expressive of his pleasure over his good fortune.
"What I meant to say," added the lad, turning again to Deerfoot, "is, that you've got such a habit of dropping down on your friends when they are in trouble, that some day it will be put in a book, just as your Bible is printed."
"Put Deerfoot in a book!" repeated the young Shawanoe, blushing like a school-girl; "he who will do that will be a fool!"
"Like enough," replied Jack, with a laugh; "but all the same, he will come along one of these days, long after you and I are dead."
"How will he know any thing of Deerfoot?" asked the young warrior, with a dismay as great as that of other parties since then who, contemplating such a calamity, have burned their private letters and papers; "if Deerfoot is dead, who shall tell him any thing about him?"
"Why, my dear fellow," laughed his young friend; "don't you know that Ned Preston, Wild Blossom Brown, and all the folks over in Kentucky who know you, will tell their friends and children what you have done; and here on this side the river it will be the same; till some time it will all be gathered together and put in a book that will be read by hundreds and thousands of people not born?"
Deerfoot showed by his expression that he did not fully understand the meaning of his young friend, or, if he did, he believed he was jesting. The idea of him ever figuring on the printed page could not be credited. He smiled and shook his head, as though he wished to talk of something else.
The young Shawanoe, as a matter of course, was the director of all the movements of the little party, and he now said that it was best to leave the spot and spend the night somewhere else. The Indian to whom they had given such a scare might steal back, when he judged the three were asleep and take revenge.
"He hasn't any gun," remarked Jack, who had picked up his own weapon which the other left behind him, "so he can't shoot us."
"He has a tomahawk and knife—them he would use, though he had a rifle as good as Hay-uta's."
"How was it, Deerfoot, that that Indian was roaming through the woods on this side of the river, without a gun?"
The Shawanoe shook his head to signify he did not know: it was, to say the least, a curious incident.
"I thought possibly he was a stranger to the war party across the river; he acted as though he was afraid they would see him."
"He is a Pawnee," observed Deerfoot, who had gained a view of him, "and is one of their best warriors."
"Why, then, should he act as he did? You must have some explanation even though you can't be sure."
"He was a passionate warrior; he may not have been right there," said Deerfoot, touching his finger to his forehead; "perhaps he was so evil the Great Spirit placed darkness where there was light."
"But when an Indian is unfortunate enough to be unbalanced in mind, the others become more kind to him than before; he would have no need to be afraid of them."
The Shawanoe reminded Jack that the stranger might hold the rest of his people in mortal fear, without having cause for doing so.
The Kentuckian was inclined to accept this explanation, and he told how curiously the other had acted from the beginning, and especially into what a reverie he sank while sitting near the fire.
But when Jack Carleton had convinced himself on this point, Deerfoot chose to express doubt. To him it seemed more probable that the Indian had had a quarrel with his tribe, or had committed some offense for which he was proscribed. It was not unlikely that one feature of his punishment was that he should go forth into the wilderness without firearms. When he sat by the camp-fire, he was doubtless meditating over the wrongs he had suffered, and when his passion flamed out, he sprang to his feet to kill the youth who had done him no wrong.
"I know one thing," said Jack, compressing his lips and shaking his head, "I wouldn't have stood still and allowed him to work his pleasure with his knife; I almost wish you had let him come on."
The Shawanoe gravely dissented.
"My brother is brave, but he could not prevail against the fierce Pawnee; he might have saved his own life, but his wounds would have hurt; now he has no wounds."
"May be you're right, Deerfoot; you know more about the woods in one minute than I'll ever know in a lifetime; so I'll drop the subject."
Jack asked his friend about the experience of himself and Hay-uta on the other side the stream, and Deerfoot gave a summary of what had befallen them. When he recalled the overthrow of Lone Bear the first time, and afterward of him and Red Wolf, he laughed with a heartiness which brought a smile to the faces of Jack and Hay-uta. The sight of Red Wolf as he plunged into the river, his head down and feet pointed toward the sky seemed to delight the young warrior, who shook with silent laughter.
The Shawanoe never displayed his woodcraft in a more marked degree than at the moment he was telling his story and enjoying the picture he drew. While he seemed to be lost in mirth, Jack Carleton noticed, what he had seen before, his eyes flitted hither and thither, and occasionally behind him, and, between his words and laughter, he listened with an intentness that would have noted the falling of a leaf. Subtle would that foe have had to be in order to steal up to those who seemed to be thinking of every thing except personal danger.
Jack Carleton had learned that neither of his friends had gained any tidings of Otto Relstaub. At the fount where the Shawanoe expected to receive knowledge, he was shut out as though by an iron door. Not a word, hint or look had given them so much as a glimmer of light.
It was certain, however, that Deerfoot held some theory of his own to explain this phase of the difficulty which confronted them, and no one could travel so close to truth as he; but when asked his opinion, he would not give it. He shook his head to signify that he preferred to hold his peace on the matter, and Jack knew him too well to press him.
Hay-uta was impatient to leave the place, for it was manifest he did not like the spot. Nothing seemed more likely than that the warrior whom they had used so ill would do his utmost to revenge himself. It is as much a part of Indian nature to "get even" with an enemy, as it is the rule and guide of multitudes of those around us, who see nothing inconsistent between the spirit of the Christianity they profess and the revengeful disposition shown toward those who, in some way or other, have given them offense.
WITH THE RIVER BETWEEN.
The spot fixed upon by the Shawanoe was fully a third of a mile from the camp-fire kindled by the strange Indian. It was in a hollow, through which ran a small stream of water, and where the undergrowth and vegetation were so dense that the flames which were started would not have attracted notice five rods away.
You will remember that it was just such a place as was a favorite with Deerfoot. It had attracted his notice during the day, while they were pushing westward, and it was an easy matter for him to lead the others back to it when the darkness among the trees was almost impenetrable.
Several facts, more or less pleasant, impressed Jack Carleton. One was that their camp was so secure from discovery that all three could sleep without misgiving. Their tramp through the wood had been conducted with such stealth that it was impossible for any one to have seen them, and of course it was beyond the power of an enemy to trail them except by the aid of daylight.
A fact less pleasant, was the absence of provisions. It was a goodly number of hours since they had eaten, and the Kentuckian possessed an appetite such as young gentlemen of his age, who spend much of their time out doors, invariably own. It must not be supposed that either the Sauk or Shawanoe were deficient in that respect, but they were used to privation, and seemed to feel no discomfort. Jack Carleton was sure that Deerfoot often went without food when he could have secured it, for no other purpose than that of retaining mastery over himself.
"I suppose it is a good way," muttered the discontented youth, stretching himself out for the night, "but it don't agree with my constitution. They needn't think they're going to make me whine," he added, with grim resolution. "I'll starve before I'll ask them for any thing to eat."
He became interested in his companions, however, and, as is the rule, when the usual hour for eating passed his hunger grew less.
Deerfoot leaned his long bow against the trunk of the nearest tree, his quiver lying at the base, and assumed an indolent attitude, his face toward the fire. The upper part of his body was supported on his left elbow, which held his Bible so that the firelight fell upon the printed page. The print was small, the light bad, and it came from the wrong direction, but the strong vision of the young Shawanoe read it as easily as if under the glare of the noonday sun.
Half way to the opposite side of the fire was stretched the Sauk, his posture precisely the same as that of Deerfoot, except that he rested on his right elbow. Their feet, therefore, were turned toward each other. His eyes were fixed on the face of the Shawanoe, who was reading the marvelous volume, and shaping its words into the tongue which Hay-uta could understand. Eliot, the Indian apostle, translated the whole Bible, and his work was one of the most striking ever done by man, but he put into the American tongue those truths into which he had been trained and with which he had been familiar for years—the character of the labor was immeasurably changed when the interpretation was made by an Indian to one of his own race.
Deerfoot, as he had done before, would read a verse or two in a low tone to himself, and then, looking across to his companion, explain as best he could their meaning. Now and then Hay-uta asked something, and occasionally Deerfoot faintly smiled as he answered.
The Kentuckian watched the Shawanoe with as much interest as did the Sauk, and, though his emotions were different, his wonder and admiration were fully as great.
"He is the most remarkable Indian that ever lived," was the thought which stirred the heart of Jack Carleton, as it had done many a time before; "Hay-uta is in the prime of life, larger, stronger, and he has always been a fighter; he did his best to kill Deerfoot, but he was vanquished as though he was only a child. A short time ago they were striking at each other like a couple of wild cats, and now they are talking about the One who taught men to forgive their enemies; they would die for each other. It's no use," added Jack, shutting his lips tight and shaking his head, as was his habit, when doubt was removed, "there is something in that religion which can tame a little fury like Deerfoot was, and make savages as gentle as lambs."
By and by the senses of the youth began to dull, and drowsiness crept over him. The last recollection was the figures of the two Indians stretched out in front of the camp-fire, one reading and the other listening with rapt attention. The hum and murmur of voices was in his ears when slumber gently closed his eyelids.
His awaking was pleasant. The sun was above the horizon, the sky was clear and the air was balmy. The warm season was at hand, but it had not fully set in, and, under the shade of the towering trees, the coolness was delightful. Birds were singing and the brightness and cheerfulness which pervaded nature every where was like that which makes us fling our hats in air and shout for joy.
Jack appreciated all this, but there was something else which filled his being with more eager delight. The air was laden with the odor of broiling fish, and if there is any thing more fragrant to the senses of a hungry person, I have never been able to learn what it is.
Leaving the sleeper where he lay on his blanket by the fire, Hay-uta and Deerfoot had stolen out to the river, from which it required but a few minutes to coax a number of toothsome fish. These were cleaned, spitted, and broiled over the coals raked from the camp-fire.
The Shawanoe had traveled with the Kentuckian long enough to gauge his appetite accurately, and thus it came about that when Jack Carleton ceased eating, he had all that he wished, and in reply to the question of Deerfoot, said he was ready to go through the day without any thing more.
"Deerfoot," said the youth, placing his hand on his shoulder, and looking him earnestly in the eye, "where is Otto Relstaub?"
The Shawanoe gave him a reproving glance, as he answered:
"Deerfoot does not know; the Great Spirit has not told him."
"I understand well enough that none knows or can know where the poor fellow is, nor whether he is alive or dead; but you have done a good deal of hunting, and, though you found out nothing yesterday, yet you have formed some theory; what I want to know, therefore, is your belief."
Deerfoot began examining his bow, as if to assure himself it was ready for some use which he seemed to think was close at hand. He gave no answer to the question, and acted as though he had not heard it. Determined that he should not have such an excuse, Jack repeated his inquiry with more directness than before.
The young Shawanoe could not ignore him. Pausing a moment in his inspection of his weapon, he looked gravely at his young friend and shook his head. Whether he meant to imply that he knew nothing, had no theory, or believed that Otto was beyond the reach of help, was left to Jack himself to decide. The action of Deerfoot, however, proved that he had not yet despaired of the missing youth; for, without any hesitancy, he announced that they would make their way to the river again, and crossing over, continue their search on the other shore.
"There's some comfort in that," was the conclusion of Jack; "so long as he believes a chance remains, so long shall I not despair."
The fact that Deerfoot meant to take his friend with him, looked as though he had decided to push the search a long ways beyond the river. Jack succeeded at last in drawing from him his belief that Otto was not in the custody of the party with whom they had had the difficulty the day previous. That, however, was not an important admission, for the young Kentuckian had come to the same belief long before, and it did not help clear up the mystery as to the whereabouts of the missing boy. Deerfoot went somewhat further, and expressed the hope, rather than the belief, that Otto was alive. When Jack asked him whether it was not likely he had been transferred to the custody of other parties, the Shawanoe again shook his head, as he did when the same thing was said before.
There could be no doubt that he had a theory of his own which he did not make known even to Hay-uta. Jack could not extract the least hint, nor could he guess what it was, (and I can not forbear saying, just here, that, though the Shawanoe was far from knowing the whole truth, he suspected a part of it, as will appear all in due time).
The spot where the three had encamped was about a furlong from the river, and to the latter all three made their way without special care or haste. Jack Carleton felt complimented that Deerfoot meant he should bear them company in the renewal of the effort to find Otto Relstaub.
But a disappointment was at hand. When they reached the stream, Deerfoot would not cross until after a careful reconnoissance. He had approached the river at a point above where the Pawnees held camp the evening before. He meant that if the passage was effected, it should be without risk of discovery from their enemies.
It must be admitted that the situation was a peculiar one in more than one respect. First of all, there was no reason to believe the Pawnees were aware that the two strange Indians who created such a turmoil had recrossed the river, nor was it known that the hostiles themselves were in the neighborhood. Besides, the warrior who made Jack prisoner the evening previous was playing a singular part in the proceedings. There was no telling where he was at that moment, nor when he would turn up again. Added to this, was the absolute ignorance about Otto Relstaub. If they could have gained some inkling of the disposition made of him (for there could be no doubt that the warriors identified by the Sauk knew all about it), the hunt could be forced to a conclusion, one way or the other, within a few hours.
Directing Hay-uta and Jack Carleton to remain for the present where they were, the Shawanoe said he would swim over and examine the vicinity, before allowing his friends to join him in the final search for the lad. This was such a radical change of purpose that Jack was impatient. He did not hesitate to ask for an explanation; but he quickly learned that impatience, anger or dictation availed nothing with the young Shawanoe. He was afraid of no one, and if he chose to keep his thoughts to himself, it mattered naught whether it gave pleasure or offense to others.
Before attempting the passage, Deerfoot ranged up and down the stream for a considerable distance, scrutinizing the belt of open land on the other shore, and the woods beyond. Not a vestige of the Pawnees was to be seen. Then he climbed a tree, and from the top looked off over the country for a space of many miles. He hoped to detect the faint stains left in the atmosphere by the camp-fire of the hostiles, but he was disappointed in that also. Had he not learned the contrary the previous night, he could have believed that he was the first human being whose feet had ever pressed that solitude.
The Shawanoe was too subtle a woodman to forget any point of the compass. It was not impossible that the Pawnees, angered by the indignities and the disappointments they had suffered at the hands of the young warrior and his companions, had tried to flank them. They were not all cowards, and though some of them looked upon the phenomenal youth as an evil spirit, there were others who must have known him as he was, and who were eager for the chance to bring him low by means of their rifles.
JACK AND HAY-UTA.
Deerfoot's survey of the opposite shore was ended; but whether it was satisfactory to himself or not, could be learned only by questioning him. Jack Carleton took good care not to do that. He had never seen the young Shawanoe so reserved, and having once been denied the knowledge he sought, he left his friend to work in his own way.
It looked to Jack as if the Shawanoe was seeking to wrap more mystery than usual around himself, for when he came back to his friends, he took off his quiver of arrows and placed it and his bow in their charge, thus showing his purpose to leave them behind in the business in which he was about to engage. It certainly was inconvenient to swim the river with them, and, in spite of the care and skill of the owner, it was impossible to reach land with bow and arrows in the best condition. Furthermore, they rendered him too conspicuous. No doubt some of the Pawnees were near at hand, even though no signs were discovered, and if the Shawanoe carried his weapons, his venture was likely to be defeated at the beginning.
"Let my brother open his eyes," said he, after a few words with the Sauk, which, of course, were not intelligible to Jack Carleton, "the Pawnees are not far."
"I will do my best to guard against surprise," replied the young Kentuckian, "and with Hay-uta as my friend, I am sure we shall take care of ourselves."
"Deerfoot cannot say when he will come back," added the warrior, looking toward the river, as though expecting to catch sight of some clew among the leaves and branches, "but he hopes to be with his friend before the sun is overhead."
This was the only farewell uttered by the Shawanoe, who walked to the undergrowth which lined the shore and overhung the water. He entered the latter like a diving-bell, whose enormous weight causes it to sink silently and swiftly to the bottom.
"Hay-uta, let's watch him," said Jack, moving carefully to the margin of the river, from which they could peer out without detection. The Sauk could comprehend the action of the boy, though not his words, and I am warranted in saying that his curiosity was equal to that of his companion, when he gazed through the leafy interstices upon the river.
The Shawanoe now gave an example of his amazing skill in the water, such as Jack Carleton had never seen before. He remembered the dexterity which he displayed in towing the canoe across the Mississippi, with Jack and Otto in it, and with the Indians along shore blazing away with their rifles; he had seen the youth disport himself in a way that no one else could equal, but on none of these occasions were his achievements so extraordinary as when he let himself into the river, passed under the surface, and vanished from sight.
Jack Carleton had heard of his exploit in sinking to the bottom of the Ohio in a large iron kettle let over the side of the flatboat, and of his swimming to shore behind the canoe in which sat Tecumseh, but it now looked to him as if he were passing the entire distance—more than a hundred yards—beneath the surface.
"That can not be," said the lad to himself, when he reflected on the time it must take to proceed that far; "no human being can hold his breath long enough to go more than half the distance, and I don't believe he can go even that far."
There was scarcely a zephyr stirring, so that the rapidly flowing river was without wavelet or disturbance. As none of us is amphibious, the most skillful swimmer must seek the air at brief intervals, and, knowing where the Shawanoe had entered, Jack fixed on the point in the river where he would be likely to rise. He knew that, of course, when he did so it would be only his nose which would appear. Anyone on the shore would not suspect the meaning of such appearance unless previous knowledge had awakened expectation, but the closest scrutiny of Jack failed to see the slightest ripple, such, as would have been made by the dropping of a pebble into the river. The lad was right, beyond all question, when he concluded that, wherever Deerfoot came up for air, it was a long ways from the spot on which he had fixed his attention.
Glancing at Hay-uta bending forward at his side, he observed that his scrutiny of the stream was as close as his own. He had, in fact, made the same guess as the pale-face youth, but with a more profound belief in the prodigious capacity of the Shawanoe, he fixed upon a point further down stream and closer to the other bank for his reappearance; but the seconds lengthened into minutes and nothing was seen. The wing of the flitting insect, had it glanced against the surface, would have caused a crinkle or two which the watchful eyes of the Sauk would have detected, but as it was, his vision, roaming back and forth, and here and there over the calm surface, saw no sign that any thing of the kind had taken place.
At the moment of greatest wonderment, both watchers were startled by the leap of a small fish, which sprang a foot or two into the air, flashing like silver in the sunlight, and then fell back. The first belief of the spectators was that this was their friend, but the truth was immediately apparent.
Jack Carleton was on the point of giving up, when the Sauk touched his arm and uttered an exclamation. He was pointing to the other shore, his extended finger indicating a tree which grew out almost horizontally over the river, for a distance of eight or ten feet and then curved upward like the runner of a sleigh.
As he looked he saw Deerfoot in the act of drawing himself out of the water. With one hand he raised himself upon the twisted trunk, along which he crept into the wood beyond, never making the least salutation to his friends, who he might have known were watching for him.
"By gracious!" exclaimed Jack. "He swam the whole distance under water! he can beat a fish!"
It is not to be supposed that Deerfoot accomplished this feat, for it was beyond the range of human attainment; but he did swim the distance with only a single rise if such it may be termed when the tip of his nose gently came up long enough to empty his lungs of their hot air, and take in another draught of the life-giving element. That he should do this under the eyes, as may be said, of two watchers, without their detection, was not the least remarkable part of his performance.
Jack would have given much had he and Hay-uta possessed the power of talking to each other. The Indian was one of the best warriors of his tribe, and had formed a peculiar affection for the young Shawanoe. More than likely he held some well-founded suspicions of the real reason which led Deerfoot to make his curious trip across the river, and between the two the truth might be brought out.
Deerfoot having disappeared, it was idle to watch the river any longer, and the two withdrew a step or two and sat on the ground, there to await the Shawanoe.
"I don't suppose I shall have time to teach him the English language," thought Jack, surveying his companion, who lolled on the ground as though he meant to put in an hour or two of sleep; "and I'm sure he won't be able to make much headway with me. I spent some weeks visiting the Sauks (that is on their invitation), and never was able to get hold of more than a dozen or so of their outlandish words, but there isn't one of them that can be turned to account just now. So I'll wait till Deerfoot tells the story for himself."
Probably twenty minutes had gone by, when the stillness was broken by the report of a gun. It was from the other shore, and sounded so faint that it must have been fully half a mile inland. Hay-uta started up, and looking sharply at Jack, raised his hand for him to keep silent. No need of that, for the youth was listening as well as he. In the course of a few minutes Hay-uta rose and went to the river shore, where he stayed some time, peering out over the surface, but he came back without having seen any thing unusual, nor did the two hear another sound of a gun.
"It would be strange," thought Jack Carleton, "if that rifle killed Deerfoot; the tiniest bullet, if rightly aimed, will do it, and great as is his skill it can not protect him against treachery. As mother says, his time will come sooner or later, but none of us can tell when, anymore than we can name the hour appointed for us to die."
Except for the slight disturbance named, the Sauk would have fallen into slumber, but all such disposition was now gone. Seating himself on the ground, he began examining the bow and arrows which had been left in their charge. Finding it somewhat awkward to do so while in the sitting position, he rose to his feet, and Jack placed himself at his side as if to give help, should it be needed.
Perhaps it should be said that Jack Carleton knew one or two interesting facts regarding Deerfoot not yet known to the reader. In the first place, the Shawanoe was the owner of at least two bows, nearly as long as himself and possessing tremendous power. That which the Sauk held in charge was of mountain ash, made in the usual fashion, the cord being composed of deer sinew, woven as fine and almost as strong as steel wire. The center-piece was round and had been polished hard and smooth by the friction of the Shawanoe's right hand, which had grasped it so many times. The entire bow had been stained a dark cherry color, its proportions being so symmetrical that it would have been admired by any one.
When picked from the ground the bow was unstrung. Hay-uta carefully bent it over and slipped the noose in place on the notched end. Then, after examining one of the feather-tipped arrows, he fitted it in place and looked around for some target at which to discharge it.
Jack motioned to him to wait a moment while he furnished the mark desired. Running toward the most open part of the wood, he broke a branch and hung his cap on the stump, the distance being perhaps twenty yards. Jack would have made it greater, but for the interference of the vegetation.
The Sauk looked at the target a minute or two, then at the bow, and fitting the end of the arrow against the string, he slowly raised the weapon and took aim. Jack stepped back eight or ten feet, so as to be out of danger, and watched the result.
"I don't believe he can hit it, but like enough he will skewer my cap, which I ain't anxious to have done."
The Sauk held the bow slanting in front of him, just as he had seen the owner do, and he took long and careful aim. He formed a striking figure, his pose being graceful and correct. Unlike the Shawanoe, he was right-handed, as was Jack. His left foot was a little in advance of the right, the toe of the moccasin pointed in the same direction as the arrow, while the right foot was turned slightly outward. The left hand grasped the bow in the middle, while (as most beginners do) he clasped the end of the arrow against the string, between the thumb and forefinger. His body was erect and well-balanced, the head thrust a little forward, the left eye closed, and the right ranging along the line of the arrow as though it were the barrel of his rifle.
Slowly he drew back the string until his right hand was beside his cheek. He had seen Deerfoot many a time hold his right arm rigid, while the other pulled the string back of his head, but Hay-uta was surprised to find the tension so great that he could not draw it another inch. Holding it thus a second or two, he let fly.
Jack Carleton fixed his eyes on his cap, wondering how near the Sank could come to it. Feeling some misgiving, he took several more steps backward, until he was fully five yards from the pendant headgear.
Twang went the bow-string, and the next instant something flashed so close to the eyes of the youth that he winked and flirted his head backward. The arrow had missed his nose by less than an inch!
"Well, that's the greatest shooting I ever saw!" exclaimed Jack, when he turned and saw where the missile, after clipping some leaves near at hand, had fallen to the ground. "Hold on!" he called, with a gesture which the Sauk understood, "if you are going to try it again, aim at me; then I'll be safe."
Hay-uta was as much astonished as he—so much so, indeed, that he stood staring, neither smiling nor making any move to launch another shaft. Jack ran and picked up the arrow that had been discharged, for the quiver was not full and Deerfoot had none to throw away.
When the youth rejoined the warrior, the latter handed him the bow, as though glad to be relieved of it, but seeing he had done no harm, he made a successful attempt to grin.
"Hay-uta, you are not to be blamed because you ain't half as handsome nor smart as other folks; it is no fault of yours if nature made you a fool; you are entitled to pity; but if you want to learn something about handling a bow just study my style."
The reason Jack Carleton talked in this fashion was because he knew the one whom he addressed could not understand a word of what was said. Nevertheless, Hay-uta looked upon his actions with interest; for, feeling assured that the shot could not be as bad as his, the chances were that it would be much better.
Conscious of what was expected of him, the young Kentuckian (who could not repress a smile over the performance of the Sauk), did his utmost to make a shot which would command the admiration of the only spectator with whom he was favored.
"I'm in a peculiar situation," reflected the youth, as he fitted the same arrow to the string, "for I am to try to hit a target which I don't want to hit. I don't suppose there's much danger, but I would like to beat Hay-uta."
The latter walked to the stump of the limb on which hung the cap, but he showed his wisdom by dodging behind the trunk of a tree large enough to shield his body. Jack laughed when he observed him peeping timidly from behind this cover.
"I'll point a little to one side of my cap," reflected the youth, "and if I elevate my aim a little, as Deerfoot does, I ought to come pretty near it."
His manner of discharging the bow was similar to that of the Sauk. He slowly drew back his right hand, whose thumb and forefinger inclosed the arrow and string, until his strength was at the highest tension, when he let go.
The aim could not have been improved, for it was a "bull's eye". The flint-pointed shaft tore its way through the top of the cap, which was carried off its support and dropped to the ground with the feathered part of the missile sticking in the air.
Hay-uta ran from behind the tree, picked up the target with the head of the arrow tangled in it, and held up the two in view of the young Kentuckian, who viewed them with dismay.
"Great Caesar!" he exclaimed, "I believe I've ruined my cap!"
But as that which had been done could not be undone, he put on the best face possible. He waved his hand and nodded his head, as though he was not unduly proud over his own success.
"That's the way I always manage those things," he said, loftily, "put it up again."
The Sauk saw what he meant and replaced the cap, from which he first drew the destructive arrow, with a good deal of recklessness as it seemed to the owner, who plainly caught the gleam of daylight through the top, when it slightly oscillated for a moment on its perch.
"I don't suppose another shot will hurt it much, so I'll send this one right in the track of the first; then Hay-uta will know that my skill is next to Deerfoot's, and it won't be necessary to do any more shooting with this plagued bow."
The second missile was launched with more care than the first, Jack doing his very best to make a center shot; but the result was astounding: the arrow impinged against the tree behind which the Sauk had shrunk, chipped away a piece of the bark, and skipped off at a sharp angle, just as did the glancing missile which slew the ancient king of England, when hunting in the forest.
It looked to the amateur as if Hay-uta, when he thrust his face from behind the trunk was grinning to an extent that endangered his ears. Nothing could have been more eloquent than his gesture, when he pointed to the untouched cap, then at the tree from which the bark had been chipped, and then with a still more overwhelming smile indicated the spot where the erratic arrow lay at rest.
Jack Carleton flung the bow to the ground (as if it were to blame for his miserable work), but he could not help laughing when the Sauk brought back cap and arrows, and gravely handed them to him.
"If there was any chance of my hitting the mark," said the youth to himself, "I might lead him to believe I missed it on purpose, but likely enough my third shot would be wilder than the second, so I'll resign my commission."
A brief examination of his cap showed that the shaft had inflicted a ragged rent, but when the strong material was pushed and doubled together, a good deal of the air was prevented from entering through the opening. The arrows were replaced in the quiver, the bow unstrung, and the two "shook themselves together", as the expression goes.
The forenoon was well along and the air promised to be warmer than on the previous day, though, where the shade was so abundant, it could not be oppressive.
It was not likely that any thing would be seen of Deerfoot until he chose to present himself to them, but, as if in obedience to the same impulse, the two moved toward the river-bank, which was close at hand.
Jack allowed the Sauk to keep in advance, for he did not mean to make any observation for himself. They were only a few paces apart when the lad caught the gleam of water among the trees in front and stopped, while the warrior stepped to the edge with the guarded step he always used at such times. While the surface of the river was partially visible when looking through the limbs, yet the undergrowth almost shut off the view if one stepped down the sloping bank. Just as he had done many times before, the Sauk reached his right hand forward and parted the vegetation, so as to clear the way in front.
A glance was enough; near the middle of the river and almost opposite where they stood was an Indian canoe containing six Pawnees, two of whom were paddling the boat straight for the bank on which the Sauk and young Kentuckian had been practicing archery.
Jack Carleton saw that his friend had made some discovery, and he stepped quickly to his side. He did not heed the warning gesture of Hay-uta, and it took only a few seconds to learn the whole truth. Both moved back, allowing the leaves to close again. The Sauk then lay flat on his face and the lad did the same; in that posture neither could be detected by any parties on the river.
It was noteworthy that, although the Pawnees were using no special caution in crossing the river, and though they were but a few rods distant, yet the swinging of their paddles and the advance of the canoe were so noiseless that Hay-uta and Jack only discovered them, as may be said, by accident.
Without taking time to consider the significance of the proceeding, the friends on shore must needs use great care to avoid a dangerous complication. If the Pawnees should learn where they were, the chances were ten to one that they would either kill or capture both.
There was good ground, however, to hope that delicate as was the situation of our friends they were likely to escape. Although nearly opposite to the Sauk, when he first saw the party, and heading as they were for the spot where he stood, yet the swift current carried the boat downward, so that it was sure to land a distance below. The footprints made by Jack Carleton, Hay-uta and Deerfoot did not lie in that direction, and, therefore, the peril was at its minimum, unless some impulse should lead the Pawnees to turn and move up stream. It remained to be seen whether that would be the case.
The two, therefore, lay still, listening and peering into the shrubbery and undergrowth which grew between them and the margin of the river. The straining ear was able to catch the faint sound of a ripple against the prow of the heavy laden canoe, and once or twice the dip of the paddle was heard. Then the Pawnee who was the leader said something in the guttural voice peculiar to his race, and one of his warriors answered.
All this was a relief to the couple, for it was proof that no one in the canoe suspected the truth, they had no thought that two of the parties whom, most probably, they were seeking, were anywhere near them.
The soft rippling sound which occasionally came to the watchers showed that the canoe was drifting with the current and that it would land at a point fully fifty feet below. Hay-uta and Jack ventured to raise their heads a few inches, and, as they did so, caught a glimpse of the boat and its occupants, as it ran sharply against the bank and the warriors began stepping out.
This was a critical moment, and lowering their heads, they pressed the ground as closely as they could. Jack half wished that some car of Juggernaut might roll over them, so as to flatten them still more.
The grunting of voices was plainly heard, while the Indians stood close to the boat and discussed some question. Had Jack and his companion raised their heads, as they did a few minutes before, they would have seen every one of them. The Sauk did elevate his nose, just enough to gain an indistinct view of the nearest Pawnee, but the youthful Kentuckian lay with his ear against the ground. Soft as were the footfalls of their enemies, the sound reached him through the better conducting medium of the earth.
"Suppose the Pawnees do come this way—what then?"
This was the question which, presented itself to the youth, and which, naturally enough, caused him misgiving, for, beyond all doubt, the peril was critical. If the Pawnees moved up stream, nothing could save the two from discovery, and it then would be two against six—all brave and well armed. The former could make no stand before a force three times as strong as they, and their situation could scarcely be improved by flight. Grave as was the crisis, it was rendered still graver by the fact that Jack and Hay-uta could not talk to each other. At such a time, a perfect understanding must exist between the members of the weaker force, and I have shown that in the present instance, that was impossible.
"Ah, if Deerfoot were only here," was the prayer that trembled on Jack Carleton's lips more than once, while he lay on the ground listening to the grumble of voices so close at hand.
"It was queer on his part any way," added the youth, following the line of thought forced upon him; "just when we need him the most he is gone; the Sauk is a good fellow, but he can't compare with Deerfoot. Helloa!" he muttered, noticing a movement on the part of Hay-uta, "something is up."
JACK CARLETON MAKES A MOVE ON HIS OWN ACCOUNT.
Jack Carleton thought himself warranted in imitating the action of Hay-uta, though he did not raise his head as high as he. The result was odd. He was able to look between the bases of the trunks and smaller bushes, so that he saw a number of moccasins, without being able to discern the bodies to which they belonged. He observed three or four pairs, and the fringes of the leggings to the knees. The Pawnees were walking, but their feet looked as if they were simply raised and put down again, without advancing or retreating. Inasmuch, however, as they soon disappeared, it was clear they were taking the right course—that is, for the best interests of our friends.
The Sauk, with the upper half of his body erect, watched the warriors, until they could be seen no longer, when he uttered an expression of relief, for both he and Jack realized that their escape—if it should prove to be such—was one of the narrowest possible. It is difficult to conceive how, in the event of discovery, they could have saved themselves from the Pawnees.
But the presence of the latter on that side of the river, was of importance to the Sauk and Jack Carleton, and was likely to complicate the situation. This would be especially true, if Deerfoot knew nothing about it. He having set out on some errand of his own, might have been led to a point which prevented him from discovering the canoe.
At any rate, the Sauk felt the necessity of keeping an eye on the hostiles. He motioned to the lad to stay where he was, retaining his own gun and Deerfoot's bow, while he looked after their enemies. Jack nodded his head, and the warrior moved away.
From his position, prone on the earth, the youth was able to follow him with his eyes for some distance. The sight was curious, as he dodged from tree to tree, his body bent over like a centenarian under the weight of his multitudinous years.
Nothing could have been done with more exquisite skill, and, when he too passed from sight, the one left behind knew that the Pawnees would steal no march upon them.
"Let me see," said he, his spirits rising as the situation improved, "I've got plenty of ammunition for my rifle, and besides that, here are Deerfoot's bow and arrows. If I had a fort, like that which sheltered Otto and me on the other side the Mississippi, I might stand a siege. There would be one good thing," he added, as he surveyed the aboriginal weapon; "when I fired this off, none of the Indians would know which one it was to hit—it certainly wouldn't be the one I aimed at, and I couldn't guess for myself."
Rising to his feet, he scrutinized every part of the wood, but there were no signs of the Pawnees, who, it was more than probable, had passed down the river shore and away from the vicinity.
"Now we have done a good deal of tramping back and forth," reflected the youth, "and those redskins are so sharp that the chances are ten to one they will come upon our footprints. It won't do to sit here all day until some of them tumble over me."
It was clear to Jack that the hostiles had started out on what was likely to be an extended reconnoissance, and, therefore, were sure to be gone a considerable while. As the canoe lay only a short distance off, he passed through the wood and undergrowth until he reached the spot where it was drawn only a few inches up the bank.
He surveyed it with natural curiosity, though he had seen many similar ones further to the east. It was about fifteen feet long, made of bark, sewed together, and the cracks filled with gum. The ends were curved over, so there was no difference between them, and each was ornamented with paintings which composed a symphony in black, red and yellow.
Two long paddles lay lengthwise in the boat. They were double—that is, the handle was in the middle, the ends being dipped alternately by whomsoever was propelling the craft. Jack looked behind him several times, before resting his hand on the gunwale. Something else which lay at the further end interested him, but he could not make it out at once. Leaning forward, he reached it with his bow, and then observed that it was a scalp. The barbarous trophy, by some unusual accident, had dropped unnoticed from the belt of one of the Pawnees, for it is not to be believed that he would have left such a prized souvenir behind him, no matter on what duty engaged.
The ragged patch of skin that had been torn from the crown of some vanquished foe was three or four inches in diameter, and the tuft of hair was long, black and coarse. Whoever had succumbed and borne the outrage, one thing was certain—he was not a Caucasian, but belonged to the same race as his conqueror.
Jack, who had seen such trophies many times, raked this one still closer and picked it up. The dryness of the skin showed that several weeks had passed since it was taken. More than likely it was the accompaniment of some fight that took place while the Pawnees were pushing their explorations toward the Mississippi.
"Wouldn't that be a pretty thing for me to carry?" remarked the youth, placing the hand which held it against his waist, as though it were a watch charm which he was holding in place for the admiration of others. "If I should walk back to Martinsville, and stride up and down between the houses, wouldn't the folks open their eyes? and wouldn't mother conclude that her Jack was doing well?"
In order the better to examine the scalp, the lad had laid down his gun and the quiver and bow within the canoe, where they could be caught up if wanted. He was too prudent to hold his position, with the possibility of the Pawnees reappearing, without continually glancing around in quest of them. Aware, too, that his footprints were likely to be discovered, he would not have approached the canoe, had it not been for a well-formed purpose of turning the boat to his own advantage.
"The Pawnees have come over the river to raise the mischief with us, so it will only be fair if I do what I can to reciprocate. I'm sure that when they come back, this canoe will either be missing, or it will have to run into port for repairs."
A shiver as if from an electric shock darted from the crown of Jack's head to his feet, for at that instant, he heard a slight sound as if made by a person clearing his throat. Looking up, he saw one of the Pawnee warriors, twenty yards distant, walking toward him. He held his rifle in one hand, and was moving slowly with his eyes fixed on the ground just in front of him. His manner left no doubt that he was the owner of the scalp in the canoe, and that, having missed it, he was walking back over his own trail, while he searched every foot of ground for the trophy. He had not seen the young Kentuckian, and had no suspicion that he was in the vicinity. Discovery, however, must come within the next few seconds, for the nearest shelter was too far off to be of avail. The sight of the pale-face skurrying to cover, would be sure to bring a bullet from the Pawnee's gun, or he would summon his comrades to the spot, by one of those whoops which were heard so many times the previous day.
There was but one thing to do—shoot at the Pawnee and run. Jack bent over to pick up his gun, but in his panic grasped Deerfoot's bow by mistake. Fortunately, it was strung, and it took only a second or two to fit an arrow in place. Pointing it at the approaching Indian, he put forth his utmost strength to draw it to a head.
Before he could do so the Pawnee was within ten yards—close enough for him to discover some movement in his field of vision even though his gaze still rested on the ground. He stopped as if on the edge of a precipice, and looking up, saw a pale-face holding a formidable bow, with the arrow pointing at his breast.
This particular Pawnee was Red Wolf, who had been driven almost out of his senses when Deerfoot launched the shafts at him and Lone Bear, as they sat by the deserted fire. The figure on which he gazed was not the terrible Shawanoe, but the bow and the arm which slowly drew back the string and arrow were more than enough. He whirled like a flash and was off, bounding from right to left, as do the Digger Indians of the west when seeking to disconcert the aim of an enemy.
"Confound you!" muttered, the archer, "since you are so afraid, I'll give you cause to be; I'll bury this arrow in your back, so that you may take it home in place of the scalp."
Whiz! went the shaft, with all the power he could throw into his arm, and with the best possible aim. It is enough to say that it did not come within ten feet of hitting the fugitive.
The incident showed that it would not be safe for the lad to stay where he was for another minute. Without stopping to consider the consequences, he shoved off the canoe, stepped into it, and, seizing the paddle, began guiding it down the stream. As he did so, he kept it as close as he could to the shore, where the likelihood of discovery was much less than further out in the stream.
Meanwhile, Red Wolf awoke to the fact that he owned a good voice, and that one of the enemies for whom he and the rest of the Pawnees were hunting, was much nearer than was supposed. He emitted a screeching yell, enough to startle all who heard it, and, looking around and seeing nothing of the white archer, he stopped and again signaled for the rest to hasten while it was yet time.
The echoes were heard lingering among the arches of the woods, when a footfall fell on his ear. Turning his head, he observed another warrior, but the first glimpse revealed the startling fact that he belonged to a tribe not only different from that of the Shawanoe, but from the Pawnees. There could be no mistake as to his sentiments, for the moment he discerned Red Wolf, he brought his gun to his shoulder The Pawnee made an attempt to leap behind the nearest tree, but before he could do so, Hay-uta, the Sauk, pulled the trigger. There was no miss that time: the career of Red Wolf ended then and there.
"There's been too much mercy shown the Pawnees," probably thought Hay-uta, as he ran forward to tear the scalp from the head of his vanquished foe. Reaching the inanimate body, he caught the long hair, whipped out his knife, and was pressing the crown with the point, when he uttered an exclamation, dropped the horsehair-like locks, shoved his knife back in place, and ran from the spot.
That which upset Hay-uta's balance for the moment, was the sudden recollection that he was a Christian Indian instead of a heathen. One of the cardinal truths which Deerfoot had impressed on him, was that he should use no unnecessary cruelty toward his enemies; that he should refrain from the barbarous practice of taking the scalp of a fallen foe.
The Sauk halted a few minutes until he could reload his gun, for, like all frontiersmen, he appreciated the need of having a loaded weapon always at command. Then he resumed his flight toward the point where he had left his young pale-face friend. This carried him so close to the canoe that he saw it in the act of moving from the shore, and recognized the figure of Jack within it. Suspecting what it meant, he hurried thither, and was observed by the lad at the moment he dipped the paddle in the current. He reversed the movement, and immediately after, the Sauk stepped within and took the second paddle.
The youth laid his down, saying: "You understand this business better than I, and I won't mix things by trying to paddle in one direction while you work in another."
In turning over to Hay-uta the charge of the canoe. Jack did the wisest thing he could do, and he pleased his companion, on whom, it may be said, for the time the welfare of both rested.
A CLEW AT LAST.
No good reason could be thought of why Jack and the Sauk should remain in the canoe. In fact, they would have shown more prudence had they remained where they were when the Pawnees disembarked and walked out of sight in the woods; or, if they felt the need of changing their quarters, they ought to have gone as far as they could from their foes, instead of following them and inviting more peril.
The training of the American Indian makes him treacherous, subtle and full of resources. The desire to "get ahead" of, or to outwit a rival is natural to us all, and is one of the most characteristic traits of the red men. It was that prompting, more than any thing else, which led Hay-uta to leave the youth behind, while he trailed the Pawnees into the forest.
But the death-shriek of Red Wolf was sure to bring his comrades to the spot within the space of one or two minutes; they would quickly read the particulars of the story, and the footprints of the Sauk would be traced to the river's edge, where their arrival was inevitable within an almost equally brief space of time.
Should Hay-uta head for the opposite bank, and whirl the paddle with might and main, he and his companion would be riddled with bullets before they could pass beyond range of the Indians on shore. There really was but one thing to do, and that was done off-hand and without hesitation.
The canoe, under the silent but powerful strokes of the Sauk, and with its light load, skimmed over the surface like a swallow. Hay-uta ran as close in as he could, without allowing the overhanging limbs to obstruct his speed. Twenty rods were passed in this manner, when he turned the head of the boat toward shore, refraining, however, from letting it run against it. One bound carried him out, and Jack was at his heels. Then a gentle shove sent it beyond the dripping branches, where it was under full control of the current, and it resumed its downward flight, though in the bewildered fashion which showed it was under the control of no one.
It was fortunate for our friends that the margin of the stream was fringed with so much vegetation, as it afforded the best kind of a hiding place. Without entering the water, they crouched into the smallest possible space, Jack wondering whether their good fortune would still bear them company.
A wailing cry sounded a brief distance above, and the lad needed not the grimace and gesture of the Sauk to know that the Pawnees had discovered the body of Red Wolf and the theft of the boat. Within the following minute the tread of hurrying moccasins was heard, and they passed within a few feet of where the two lay, not daring even to look up. That was all well enough, but when another cry made known they had found the craft, the real peril of the two may be said to have begun.
Jack Carleton knew as well as if it had taken place under his own eyes, that one of the Pawnees was making his way through the water to the boat, whose gunwale was grasped, and by which it was drawn back to land. This took place about as far below our friends as the point from which they started the canoe was above them. If the Pawnees should retrace the ground, carefully beating the bushes for "game", they would be sure to drive it out.
Jack found the care of the bow of Deerfoot quite a burden. It was continually in his way, and was of no help at all. Seeing his embarrassment, the Sauk took it in charge, while the youth suspended the quiver over his shoulder.
The Pawnees did not make the search that was dreaded, and it is not difficult to guess the reason. They had just lost one of their number, and, though there seemed to be only two foes near them, yet they must have suspected there were more. These strangers could do terrific fighting, as they had proven, and the five Pawnees preferred to await the arrival of re-enforcements, which would soon come from the other side. In truth, a study of the events which followed, as well of those which preceded, shows good reason to believe the curious coincidence that the Pawnees were as ignorant of the reappearance of the Shawanoe on the other bank, as he was of the passage of the river by the half dozen hostiles in their canoe.
But the report of the rifle, the death-shriek, and the shouts of the Pawnees, had given Deerfoot an inkling of the truth, before he was able to learn all by investigation on his own part. Still it was a most annoying interference with a daring scheme he had set on foot, and which was in danger of being overthrown altogether. The brow of the youth wrinkled with impatience, for he knew that all this skirmishing could have been saved to his friends, had they used care; but at the moment he was most discouraged, events took an unexpected turn in his favor.
Meanwhile Jack Carleton and Hay-uta did not stir for several minutes, but, as they listened, it seemed to the youth that their enemies required not to come very nigh, in order to locate them by the tumultuous throbbing of his heart. He was sure the brief silence which followed was occupied by the Pawnees in looking for them, but, as I have shown in another place, he erred. The rippling of water caused both to turn their heads, and, through the interlacing vegetation behind, they caught a glimpse of the canoe and its five occupants, heading toward the other side. The Sauk softly insinuated his hand between the leaves, so as to give a better view (though he ran much risk), and Jack ventured to peep forth.
The Pawnees, as our friends believed, had gone back for re-enforcements. Possibly a score, more or less, of warriors would be transferred to the shore they had left, and then the campaign would open in earnest.
Hay-uta could not close his ear to the whispering of prudence; clearly their duty was to leave the spot before their enemies could come back. Bravery, skill, and cunning, when allied to common sense, would permit no other course.
Throwing off, therefore, the extreme caution they had exercised, they rose to their feet, and the Sauk led the way to the river bank. They did not forget the care which a frontiersman always shows when treading the wilderness, but the tension of their nerves was relaxed, and Jack felt some of the jauntiness that was his during the first day he spent with Deerfoot in the hunt for Otto Relstaub.
It did not seem necessary to go far, and scarcely a furlong was passed when the Sauk selected a spot from which they could watch the river without exposing themselves to detection by any one on the further shore. If the Pawnees should return, as our friends were confident they would do, it was not likely they would delay long. It was an easy matter to summon all their warriors, and such as could not be accommodated in the canoe, could swim beside it.
At the moment that the Sauk secured a safe point from which to look out, Jack Carleton made the most important discovery that had come to the knowledge of any one of the three since starting on their journey.
Something on the ground just ahead and a little to one side of Hay-uta, caught his eye. The Sauk did not see it, and the boy did not suspect it was of any account. It was in obedience rather to a whim than to any reasoning impulse that he stepped aside and picked up the object.
"Great Caesar!" he exclaimed. "It's Otto's cap!"
For a moment Jack stood transfixed, with the article held at arm's length, while the Sauk stared in turn, as if he thought the youth was beside himself.
But the lad was too familiar with that headgear to be mistaken. He turned it over and over, held it close to his face and scrutinized every particle of it; it was the same peaked hat which poor Otto had worn so long, and it was on his head when he and Jack—both captives—parted company weeks before.
How long the hat had lain where it was picked up, could not be told. Its make was such that, while the owner had worn it several years, it was still good for an indefinite time longer. A day or a month of exposure would make little difference in its appearance.
When Jack had recovered from his amazement, he and Hay-uta examined the immediate vicinity. The action of the youth, and the emotion he displayed, told the story to the Sauk, who did not fail also to see the value of the clew that had fallen into their hands.
Ten feet from where the cap was found lay a small decayed tree. It had probably been blown down during some gale. The suggestion presented itself that Otto Relstaub was sitting on this support, when he either flung the hat from him, or some one else did so. That which the friends wished to find now was the footprints left by the lad when he went away: they would tell the story as nothing else could.
If the missing boy had gone within the preceding two or three days, the keen vision of the Sauk could see and follow the trail. Recognizing his immeasurably superior skill, Jack remained seated on the tree and nodded to Hay-uta to push his search.
The warrior did every thing he could, stepping as lightly as a fawn, his shoulders bending low, while he scrutinized the leaves with a minuteness which would have detected a pin lying on top of them. A faint trail leading through the wilderness is sometimes plainer a few steps distant than it is beneath one's own feet. The disturbance of the vegetation, the rumpling of the leaves resulting in the turning of the under side toward the sun, and those trifling disarrangements which you or I would never notice, can be identified by what may be called an off-hand scrutiny, possibly on the same principle that a careless glance at Pleiades will reveal each of the seven stars, when if the gaze is fixed on the matchless group, one of them modestly shrinks from view.
There was no artifice known to the aboriginal brain which was not called into use by the Sauk warrior. He stepped with the utmost care, so as to disturb the leaves as little as possible. First of all, he gave his attention to the space between the log and the river. That was short, and its examination required but a brief time. Hay-uta seemed to suspect that the trail would be found to lead toward the stream, but he was disappointed, as not the slightest trace was discovered. I may as well say that though the scrutiny was continued for half an hour, and embraced a complete circle around the spot where the hat was found, it resulted in no success at all. The conclusion was inevitable—so long a time had passed since it was thrown to the ground, that every vestige of the footprints had been obliterated.
Finally Hay-uta straightened up, and, looking in the expectant face of Jack, shook his head. "I was afraid of it," said the boy, "so many days have passed since he lost it, that nothing is left but to guess how it all came about—and though I've done all the thinking I know how, I am done."
Such was the fact. How it was that Otto Relstaub had come to leave his hat lying there on the leaves was beyond the power of Jack Carleton to tell. It could hardly be that he had done so voluntarily, for it was impossible to conceive of a reason for it, and the probability that some one else was the cause, only intensified those misgivings which, in a greater or less degree, had tormented the young Kentuckian from the hour he started to hunt for his missing friend.
RECROSSING THE RIVER.
During the time occupied in the scrutiny of the surroundings, Jack Carleton forgot all about the river for which they had set out to watch for the returning Pawnees. Though the Sauk most likely kept it in mind, yet he was so occupied that he gave it no attention. Now, that he was relieved, however, he advanced the few yards required, and took a survey of the river as it swept past.
It so happened that he was just in time, for the canoe which had caused such a stir earlier in the day was returning. It was two hundred yards up stream, and was loaded to its utmost capacity with Indian warriors. There were fully a dozen, and the craft was sunk to its gunwales—so much so indeed that the two who were handling the paddles were forced to use care to escape swamping.
The Sauk thought that probably other Indians were swimming alongside or behind the craft, but a brief study of the water convinced him that such was not the case: all the Pawnees who were coming over to push the campaign were in the boat. It would seem that a dozen brave and well armed warriors were sufficient to combat the force on the other side.
Hay-uta stood watching the river with such quietness that Jack, who was still sitting on the prostrate tree, never suspected he had discovered any thing, until he turned about and signified by signs that the craft and its occupants had landed some distance above.
I need not say that all this time the lad was longing for the return of Deerfoot, the Shawanoe. If any one could penetrate the mystery which shut them in at every step, he was the one to do it. None could have attained a point nearer perfection than he, so far as woodcraft was concerned.
"But what can we do?" was the question which presented itself to the youth; "if the faintest footprints showed on the ground, the Sauk would have discovered them, and if they ain't there, Deerfoot can tell no more than we know."
"I wonder what in the name of all that's sensible he meant by crossing the river, and leaving his bow and arrows in my charge. If I owned such an arrangement the first thing I would do would be to fling it into the river. Whatever plan he had in mind when he swam over, must have been a blunder which is likely to upset every thing."
The knowledge that the Pawnees had landed on the same shore where were the Sauk and Jack Carleton required attention on their part, for if their enemies decided to search for the marauders who, after slaying Red Wolf, had run off with their canoe, it would not do for the parties to remain idle.
In making their way to the spot where they were now resting, our friends had taken much pains to hide their footprints, and it would be a hard matter for the Pawnees to trace them. In fact, Hay-uta felt little fear of it.
While he and Jack busied themselves in the manner described, Deerfoot had not been idle. He swam the river, as you have been told, and reached the other shore, without awakening suspicion on the part of the Pawnees. After emerging from the water, he set about locating the war party, for the first step in his scheme required that to be done. His expectation was that the company were gathered near some point not far removed from the camp-fire of the night before.
A scout through the woods, however, showed he was mistaken. He found what seemed to be half the party grouped around a new fire, where there was evidence that most of the previous night had been spent. Breakfast was over, and a number were smoking pipes. The experienced eye of the Shawanoe told him there was no purpose just then of moving away. The Pawnee villages were still far to the north-west, but the warriors were in the comfortable condition of those travelers who are at liberty to spend as much time as they choose on the road. It mattered little to them whether they were a week early or a month late.
Had any one observed the countenance of the young Shawanoe while he was studying the group around the camp-fire, he would have seen that he was deeply interested in one warrior, who was standing with arms folded, and leaning lazily against a tree, smoking a long-stemmed pipe. It was his old acquaintance Lone Bear, and it was clear that, whatever the plan of the Shawanoe, it assigned a prominent place in it to that individual.
Without affecting any secrecy in the matter, I may as well say that the scheme of Deerfoot was as simple as difficult. He could converse readily with the Pawnee, Lone Bear; the latter knew the fate of Otto Relstaub; he had lied when asked for information; Deerfoot resolved to compel him, if possible, to tell the truth.
The project at first seems absurd, for it may well be asked by what possible means could Deerfoot hope to extract reliable information from the rogue. It would never do to venture among the war party for that purpose, for the previous experience of the Shawanoe showed how he was hated, and the situation had not improved since then.
Deerfoot hoped to separate Lone Bear from the rest of the company, so as to have him alone to "operate" upon; but that would require strategy more delicate and skillful than that by which the hunter detaches a choice bull from a herd of bison, until he has him where he wants him.
Enough has been told to show in what terror the Shawanoe was held by Lone Bear, who believed he was under the special patronage of the Evil One. Should he encounter the dreaded warrior alone in the woods, more than likely he would succumb without a blow.
But the Pawnee was among his own people, and it looked as if he meant to stay there for an indefinite time to come. As nothing could be done so long as he had company, the one and all important problem which faced Deerfoot at the beginning, was how he was to draw the warrior away to a safe point in the wood.
There really was no means of doing so. Deerfoot could conjure up no strategy which, when launched against a party of Indians, would produce the desired effect upon a single member, leaving the others unaware of what was going on. He had asked the Great Spirit to open the way, and he was prepared to wait, with the stoical patience of his race, for the "moving of the waters".
Lone Bear smoked his pipe with the placid enjoyment of an ancient Hollander, while the Shawanoe surveyed his painted and sodden features with peculiar interest. Red Wolf and several warriors, with whom he had become familiar, were missing, but the presence of one party caused surprise. The redskin who had held Jack Carleton prisoner for a short time the evening before was among the group, also smoking his pipe with as much pleasure as Lone Bear himself. He did not seem to attract any attention, and was as much at home as any of them.
His case was a singular one, but Deerfoot concluded that he had had some quarrel with the members of the company. He had probably killed his antagonist, and had fled without stopping to catch up his gun. After his experience on the other side of the stream, he had opened negotiations at long range with the company, and, finding them ready to receive him, had passed over and joined them.
Suddenly Lone Bear stood upright, like a man who recalls a forgotten engagement. He took his pipe from his mouth and stared around in the woods, as if looking for some one. Deerfoot's heart fluttered with the hope that he meant to start off alone.
At this moment, the battle on the other side of the river opened. The whoops, report of a gun and cries caused much excitement among the Pawnees. All of them sprang to their feet and looked toward the river (too far off to be seen), as if they expected to learn by observation the meaning of the hubbub.
The Shawanoe frowned with impatience, for, as has been stated, it looked as if the imprudence of his friends across the stream would destroy the purpose which had brought him to the vicinity of the Pawnee camp. The probabilities indicated great danger, so far as Hay-uta and Jack were concerned, and Deerfoot was on the point of rejoining them, when he decided to wait. Whatever their peril, the end was likely to come before he could reach them.
The sound of the turmoil borne to the war party in camp soon ceased, and a long silence followed. Two of them walked toward the river, and a third sauntered in another direction—all apparently in pursuit of information. Deerfoot's eyes sparkled. Ah, if that third man had only been Lone Bear!
The warrior on whom the young Indian had his attention fixed, however, seemed to be partial to his former attitude, and, still puffing his pipe, he leaned once more against the tree, as if lost in meditation.
By and by the red men from the other side came over in the canoe, and, as may be supposed, they had a stirring story to tell. Deerfoot watched them from his concealment, but heard nothing from which he could gain any information.
Among the dozen selected to make the return in the canoe was Lone Bear. Suspecting their intention, Deerfoot kept his eye on them until the craft left the shore.
It was then he "grasped the situation". The Sauk and his young companion had taken care of themselves in spite of the large party of enemies; they had stirred the wrath of the Pawnees to that point that they had secured re-enforcements to go back and crush the daring foes.
All this proved that it would not do for Deerfoot to linger after the departure of the party, especially as the one in which he was particularly interested was in the canoe.
The boat, laden so deeply with painted valor, reached the shore only a few minutes in advance of the Shawanoe, who, with his usual skill, avoided detection by friend or foe. The point where he landed was above that which the canoe touched, for he tried to approach as nearly as he could the spot where he had left his two friends. He quickly learned they were not there, and then moved down the stream parallel to its course, keeping near enough to observe it all the way.
It will be noticed that this took him close to the Pawnees, who were also searching for Hay-uta and Jack Carleton. In one sense, the larger body was between two fires, but in no danger. The shape of affairs was singular. The Pawnees were hunting for the Sauk and his companion, while Deerfoot, their friend, was also looking for them, but doing it in the wake of their enemies. The difficulty of Deerfoot was increased by the fact that whatever signal he sent to his friends, would have to be thrown over the heads of their enemies.
But the Shawanoe addressed himself to the task with his usual coolness and confidence. When he caught sight of the warriors, moving along the bank of the river in no particular order, he fell in, and "joined the procession," as may be said. It is not to be supposed that the Pawnees had struck at once the trail of those who took so much pains to keep out of their way, but the loose manner in which they were following them indicated that they suspected, rather than knew, the course taken by the fugitives.
When this had continued some minutes, the Shawanoe appeared to feel the necessity of reaching some understanding with his friends, despite the great risk incurred. He therefore emitted the soft, bird-like signal, which he knew would be recognized if it reached them.
Indeed, there could be no mistake in that respect. The trouble lay in the fact that it would also be heard by enemies, who, if they did not know, would be quite sure to suspect its purport.
A SUMMONS AND A SURRENDER.
The ear of the American Indian, like his eye, is trained to wonderful fineness, and the faint, tremulous note, which seemed to float from among the tree tops, stirred the suspicions of the Pawnees. They stopped in their straggling pursuit, and showed such interest that Deerfoot was compelled, for safety's sake, to steal further to the rear. If they should locate the point whence the call was sent, it would be advisable for him to move still further away.
But the result of the signal, if disappointing in one or two respects (for it brought no response from his friends), was gratifying from another point of view. It was apparent that the call of the Shawanoe produced uneasiness among the Pawnees. It showed that, while they were hunting for their enemies in one direction, one of them, at least, was in another place. It must have deepened the old fear that a large number of foes was in the neighborhood, maneuvering on the outer part of the circle which inclosed the Pawnees. Enormous advantage was thus placed at the command of the strangers, and the situation of the warriors bore a suggestive similarity to that of the hunter who, while hunting the tiger, discovered that the tiger was hunting him.
Deerfoot did not withdraw so far that he lost his surveillance of the Pawnees. He smiled in his faint way, when he noticed their glances toward different points of the compass, and saw them gather for consultation.
They stood thus only a few moments, when a singular movement followed. Three of the Pawnees took each a different direction through the wood, while the main body continued its advance in a more stealthy manner than before. Their line was along the river and close to it, which looked as if they were following the trail of the Sauk and Jack Carleton. Whether or not such was the fact could not be determined by Deerfoot, since the footprints of the Pawnees, covering the same course, hid those of the two in advance.
In fact Deerfoot did not care, for, if the Sauk and Jack Carleton knew no better than to allow a party of hostiles to overhaul them in the wilderness, they deserved the consequences; but cool and collected as was the young Shawanoe, his heart gave a quick throb when he noticed the other movements which I have named.
One of the dusky scouts took a south-westerly course, another went almost due south, while the third faced the south-east, the paths of the three diverging like so many spokes of a wheel. The course of the last named, if persisted in, would take him within a hundred feet of the tree behind which the Shawanoe screened himself.
What rendered this prospect more gratifying was the fact that this Pawnee was Lone Bear, the very warrior whom the Shawanoe was so eager to detach from the main party, so as to gain the chance to "operate" on him; the opportunity he sought was thrust into his hands so unexpectedly that he believed it was in answer to his prayer.
It would seem that Deerfoot ought not to have found any difficulty in manipulating matters to suit himself, but his situation was exceptionally delicate; for, above everything else, it was necessary that he should not be discovered, or have his presence suspected. It would seem, however, that the signal should have given the clew.
Lone Bear had started on a scout, and, recalling his experience on the other side of the river, he was sure to put forth all the cunning of his nature to escape any surprise from his enemies. He was alert, and glanced from side to side, and indeed in all directions, while advancing on a slow, loping trot. It was easy enough to avoid discovery from him, but, in moving round the trunk of the tree (so as to interpose it as a guard), there came a time when the Shawanoe was likely to be seen by the main party, which was not only close, but showed no hurry to move on.
This danger was avoided by Deerfoot with characteristic deftness. He lay flat on his face, in which posture he could not be detected by any one a dozen yards away, and skillfully shifted his position until the back of Lone Bear was toward him. Peering around the trunk, he kept his eyes on the Pawnee until the intervening trees and vegetation shut him from sight. Then Deerfoot rose to his feet, and took his trail like a bloodhound.
The Shawanoe felt the battle was won. There could be no doubt that Lone Bear had started on the same errand as the other two—that of scouting through the neighborhood for the main party of Pawnees. Deerfoot might have wondered that he should do so, after the wild panic into which he had been thrown by him, but like enough he felt the need of some such action in order to repair his damaged reputation. It was not impossible that he volunteered for the perilous duty.
But having taken such a step, it must not be supposed that Lone Bear forgot the perils to which he would be exposed. His vigilance was unremitting, and it need not be said that he looked well to the rear.
In a few minutes the pursuer and his unconscious fugitive were beyond danger of discovery from the main party, and there was little fear of Lone Bear escaping Deerfoot. He had his trail and was sure to run him down.
The Pawnee scout followed an almost direct course for twenty rods, when he stopped, and, standing erect, slowly turned his head and body, using eyes, and ears for all they were worth. He seemed to be satisfied with what he failed to discover, and advanced at a slower gait in the direction of the river, displaying the same vigilance shown from the first.
The distance between Lone Bear and his friends was great enough to suit the purpose of Deerfoot, who now began to maneuver with a view of getting near his man without the latter suspecting it. Great as were the cunning and woodcraft of the Shawanoe, it is difficult to believe such an exploit possible, in view of the watchfulness of the Pawnee. He was scouting against his enemies, and to suppose he would permit one to approach him unobserved is to declare him a stupid Indian—which he was far from being.
But a guarded pursuit and study of his actions, made it clear what his line of conduct was to be, and like the most successful of woodmen, Deerfoot in adopting a certain policy anticipated the action of his adversary.
The latter had not proceeded far in the direction of the river when he again stopped, and, standing motionless, looked and listened, just as he had done many a time when stealing through the country of an enemy, and just as he did years before when fleeing for so many miles through the wilderness to escape the Shawanoes.
For aught that he saw, the Pawnee might have been the only living person within a thousand miles of the lonely spot. Looking aloft at the arching trunks, the branching boughs, and the spread of the leafy roof, he saw no sign of life, except a gray squirrel, which, running lightly along the shaggy bark of a huge limb, whisked out of sight in the wealth of vegetation beyond. Here and there patches of blue sky could be detected, with the white flecks of clouds drifting past, but neither the ground nor the trees nor the air showed aught else. Not even a bird, sailing high overhead, flitted to sight, and the leaves below were rustled by no step of bear or deer or smaller animal.
But such might be the case, with a score of red men prowling near at hand. They would flit hither and thither like so many phantoms, and all the acuteness the Pawnee possessed was needed to elude the traps they were likely to set for his feet. He seemed to believe he was alone, and, resuming his noiseless advance, he did not stop until the listening ear detected the soft flow of the stream, and the daylight between the trees showed the river close at hand.
Again, having satisfied himself, he moved forward until he caught the gleam of water. The same form of scrutiny which has been described was repeated, after which Lone Bear faced down stream and hurried toward the main party fully a half mile distant.
The course of the Pawnee may be described as similar to that of starting from the hub of a wheel, following one of the spokes to the tire, and after traveling some distance along that, returning to the hub by another spoke. Lone Bear had gone to the limit of his tramp, and as the other scouts had taken the same course through different portions of the wood, it will be seen that the neighborhood was sure to be thoroughly examined.
Lone Bear must have concluded that, wherever their enemies had located, they were not within his bailiwick, for, having faced to the westward, he dropped into his loping trot, which, in the case of many Indians, appeared to be more natural than the ordinary walking gait.
It is not impossible that when the dark eyes of the warrior rested on the large trunk of a white oak almost in his path, he reflected what a capital armor it would make against an enemy. At any rate, whether he thought of it or not, he made the discovery in the most astounding manner.
Less than a dozen steps intervened between him and the dark, corrugated bark of the towering wood king, and he was surveying it with a curious expression, when Deerfoot, the Shawanoe, stepped from behind it, and with his tomahawk raised over his head, faced the Pawnee.
"Let Lone Bear stand still and make no outcry, and Deerfoot will not harm him; let him disobey, and the Shawanoe shall split the skull of the Pawnee before he can utter a cry."
The previous experience of Lone Bear had taught him that it was lost time to argue the question; indeed, no choice remained but to accept the situation, and he did so with a certain meekness which was not without its effect on the Shawanoe.
"Deerfoot is the greatest hunter of the Shawanoes, and the Pawnee bows his head before him."
As he spoke, Lone Bear surprised the other by the completeness of his submission, doing that which was unexpected to his conqueror. The rifle which he was holding in his right hand, when summoned to surrender, was thrown on the ground; then the tomahawk was flung from the girdle, the knife from the sheath, and all three lay beside each other on the leaves. Not only that, but Lone Bear moved three steps backward and signified to the Shawanoe that he was at liberty to come forward and take them without molestation from him.
"Let my brother, Lone Bear, listen," said Deerfoot, lowering the left hand which held the tomahawk aloft and resting it against his hip, where it could be used the instant needed; "let the words of Deerfoot be heeded, and it shall be well with Lone Bear; his rifle and tomahawk and knife shall be given to him, and his brothers, the Pawnees, shall never know he was vanquished by Deerfoot."
This was promising a great deal, and the Pawnee looked questioningly at the other, though it could be seen that he placed much reliance on his pledges.
"The ears of Lone Bear are open; he hears the words of the great Deerfoot; his words reach his heart; what is it my brother, the mighty Shawanoe, would say to him?"
It must have been that Lone Bear had some suspicion of the business of Deerfoot, though it was impossible for him to know his full purpose before Deerfoot made it known.
"My brother will be wise if he heeds the words of Deerfoot; he will please the Great Spirit, for Deerfoot asks him to speak only with a single tongue."
"Lone Bear will speak with a single tongue."
"Then," said Deerfoot, "he will make known the truth of the pale-faced boy for whom the heart of Deerfoot mourns."
LONE BEAR'S REVELATION.
Without hesitating a moment, the Pawnee made answer:
"Lone Bear speaks with a single tongue; he can not tell where the pale-faced warrior is."
It might have been supposed that the Indian was trying to mislead Deerfoot, but the latter saw his meaning and understood that it was his anxiety to tell the truth which caused him to make answer as he did.
"How many suns ago did the Pawnee part with the pale-face?"
Lone Bear showed he was thinking. His brow wrinkled and he seemed to be looking at something a mile behind the Shawanoe. Then he began counting on his fingers, like a child solving some problem in addition. Seeing that Deerfoot was watching him, he held up his left hand, with his fingers spread apart, and touched them one after the other with the forefinger of the right, until he had checked off four, thereby indicating that four days or suns had elapsed since he had seen Otto Relstaub.
"What tribe bought him from the Pawnees?"
"The pale-face went with no warriors."
"With whom did he go?"
"The pale-face was in the woods alone."
This was astonishing information, for it implied that Otto, like Jack, had managed to escape from his captors; such, however, was not the case.
Deerfoot repressed all sign of deep interest as he plied Lone Bear with questions.
"Did the pale-face run away when the skies were dark, or was it when the sun was in the sky?"
"The sun was so high that when Lone Bear walked in the clearing it cast no shadow," replied the Pawnee, thereby signifying that Otto Relstaub disappeared at high noon. As it was clear that even the acute Deerfoot did not grasp the full story, Lone Bear attested his sincerity by adding:
"The youth whose face was pale became ill; he could not walk; the Pawnees lingered hours, hunting and fishing; but his face was white like the snow; he tried to rise, but fell down like a pappoose when its eyes first look on the day. Red Wolf raised his tomahawk to slay him, but Lone Bear stayed his arm. The Pawnees marched on and the pale-face lay on the leaves, white and ready to die."
There at last was the practical solution of the mystery. The Pawnees had not bartered off Otto with any other tribe, but were journeying homeward with him when he fell ill. His captors had tarried near him for a time, but instead of recovering he had grown weaker, until one of the Indians proposed to end the trouble by sinking his tomahawk in his brain. He had been prevented from doing so, and then the warriors had quietly moved on, leaving the poor youth to die alone unattended in the wilderness.
But had he in reality perished? That was the question which was to be answered, but in order to do so, it was necessary for Deerfoot to gain all the information he could from Lone Bear, who, in fact, was the only one that could give it. He therefore plied him with questions, until nothing more was left to tell. His revelation was pitiful indeed.
Without any sense of the pathetic side of the narrative, Lone Bear repeated his account of how, while they were moving at a leisurely pace, Otto fell ill. It happened to be late in the afternoon, and as the spot was favorable, the company went into camp. The poor fellow lay ill all night, and on the morrow was so pale and weak, that his captors believed he could not live many hours. Still they stayed in the neighborhood until noon, when they abandoned him to his fate. Believing he would not survive more than a few hours, Lone Bear and another warrior placed his gun beside him, covered most of his body with leaves, laid his hat over his face, and composed his limbs, as if for the grave. Otto seemed about to die, and showed no interest in the last sad rites, his eyes being closed when they departed.
Having obtained these particulars, Deerfoot learned another surprising fact—the point where Otto was abandoned to die, instead of being a long distance to the east, was full three days' journey in the opposite direction. That is to say, the Pawnees, after parting with the lad, had doubled on their own trail and were now the distance named from where it was supposed he had died.
The cause for this retrogression was the love of migratory life which is characteristic of the American race. The Pawnee villages, as I have stated, lay a long ways to the north-west, but among the party that had been on the long tramp, was a strong minority in favor of moving their town to the neighborhood of the river across which we have seen friends and foes pass so frequently. It abounded with game, had plenty of water, numerous fish, and its surface was undulating enough to suit their fancy. All this, no doubt, could be found in other places nearer home, but the stretch of open land which followed one side of the stream for a considerable distance, it may be said, was the deciding inducement. It was the ideal of a site for an aboriginal metropolis, for there was just enough land to put under cultivation to meet their simple wants.
The attractions of the locality formed the principal theme of discussion, until, when three days' journey from the river, the minority had become the majority, and it was decided to return and make a more thorough examination of the neighborhood. They were thus engaged, in their lazy fashion, when Deerfoot, Hay-uta and Jack Carleton overtook them, and the incidents already told followed.
By the time all this became known, the young Shawanoe felt that Lone Bear had nothing more to tell him. Otto Relstaub, if alive, was to be searched for many miles further toward the Rocky Mountains, though, if he was as ill as was represented, he must have succumbed long before.
While Deerfoot had no thought of breaking his pledge to the Pawnee, he was too prudent to trust him. Should he hand him back his weapons he might not attempt to injure the youth, but he would tell his comrades enough to lead them to do their utmost to thwart the purpose of Deerfoot and his friends.