Two Little Savages
by Ernest Thompson Seton
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Guy snickered. "Guess you don't know my Paw," then he giggled bubblously through his nose again.

Arrived at the edge of the clover, Sam asked, "Where's your Woodchuck?"

"Right in there."

"I don't see him."

"Well, he's always here."

"Not now, you bet."

"Well, this is the very first time I ever came here and didn't see him. Oh, I tell you, he's a fright. I'll bet he's a blame sight bigger'n that stump."

"Well, here's his track, anyway," said Woodpecker, pointing to some tracks he had just made unseen with his own broad palm.

"Now," said Sappy, in triumph. "Ain't he an old socker?"

"Sure enough. You ain't missed any cows lately, have you? Wonder you ain't scared to live anyways near!"


A "Massacree" of Palefaces

"Say, fellers, I know where there's a stavin' Birch tree—do you want any bark?"

"Yes, I want some," said Little Beaver.

"But hold on; I guess we better not, coz it's right on the edge o' our bush, an' Paw's still at the turnips."

"Now if you want a real war party," said the Head Chief, "let's massacree the Paleface settlement up the crick and get some milk. We're just out, and I'd like to see if the place has changed any."

So the boys hid their bows and arrows and headdresses, and, forgetting to take a pail, they followed in Indian file the blazed trail, carefully turning in their toes as they went and pointing silently to the track, making signs of great danger. First they crawled up, under cover of one of the fences, to the barn. The doors were open and men working at something. A pig wandered in from the barnyard. Then the boys heard a sudden scuffle, and a squeal from the pig as it scrambled out again, and Raften's voice: "Consarn them pigs! Them boys ought to be here to herd them." This was sufficiently alarming to scare the Warriors off in great haste. They hid in the huge root-cellar and there held a council of war.

"Here, Great Chiefs of Sanger," said Yan, "behold I take three straws. That long one is for the Great Woodpecker, the middle size is for Little Beaver, and the short thick one with the bump on the end and a crack on top is Sappy. Now I will stack them up in a bunch and let them fall, then whichever way they point we must go, for this is Big Medicine."

So the straws fell. Sam's straw pointed nearly to the house, Yan's a little to the south of the house, and Guy's right back home.

"Aha, Sappy, you got to go home; the straw says so."

"I ain't goin' to believe no such foolishness."

"It's awful unlucky to go against it."

"I don't care, I ain't goin' back," said Guy doggedly.

"Well, my straw says go to the house; that means go scouting for milk, I reckon."

Yan's straw pointed toward the garden, and Guy's to the residence and grounds of "J.G. Burns, Esq."

"I don't care," said Sappy, "I ain't goin'. I am goin' after some of them cherries in your orchard, an' 'twon't be the first time, neither."

"We kin meet by the Basswood at the foot of the lane with whatever we get," said the First War Chief, as he sneaked into the bushes and crawled through the snake fence and among the nettles and manure heaps on the north side of the barnyard till he reached the woodshed adjoining the house. He knew where the men were, and he could guess where his mother was, but he was worried about the Dog. Old Cap might be on the front doorstep, or he might be prowling at just the wrong place for the Injun plan. The woodshed butted on the end of the kitchen. The milk was kept in the cellar, and one window of the cellar opened into a dark corner of the woodshed. This was easily raised, and Sam scrambled down into the cool damp cellar. Long rows of milk pans were in sight on the shelves. He lifted the cover of the one he knew to be the last put there and drank a deep, long draught with his mouth down to it, then licked the cream from his lips and remembered that he had come without a pail. But he knew where to get one. He went gently up the stairs, avoiding steps Nos. 1 and 7 because they were "creakers," as he found out long ago, when he used to 'hook' maple sugar from the other side of the house. The door at the top was closed and buttoned, but he put his jack-knife blade through the crack and turned the button. After listening awhile and hearing no sound in the kitchen, he gently opened the squeaky old door. There was no one to be seen but the baby, sound asleep in her cradle. The outer door was open, but no Dog lying on the step as usual. Over the kitchen was a garret entered by a trap-door and a ladder. The ladder was up and the trap-door open, but all was still. Sam stood over the baby, grunted, "Ugh, Paleface papoose," raised his hand as if wielding a war club, aimed a deadly blow at the sleeping cherub, then stooped and kissed her rosy mouth so lightly that her pink fists went up to rub it at once. He now went to the pantry, took a large pie and a tin pail, then down into the cellar again. He, at first, merely closed the door behind him and was leaving it so, but remembered that Minnie might awaken and toddle around till she might toddle into the cellar, therefore he turned the button so that just a corner showed over the crack, closed the door and worked with his knife blade on that corner till the cellar was made as safe as before. He now escaped with his pie and pail.

Meanwhile his mother's smiling face beamed out of the dark loft. Then she came down the ladder. She had seen him come and enter the cellar, by chance she was in the loft when he reached the kitchen, but she had kept quiet to enjoy the joke.

Next time the Woodpecker went to the cellar he found a paper with this on it: "Notice to hostile Injuns—Next time you massacree this settlement, bring back the pail, and don't leave the covers off the milk pans."

Yan had followed the fence that ran south of the house. There was plenty of cover, but he crawled on hands and knees, going right down on his breast when he came to places more open than the rest. In this way he had nearly reached the garden when he heard a noise behind and, turning, he saw Sappy.

"Here, what are you following me for? Your straw pointed the other way. You ain't playing fair."

"Well, I don't care, I ain't going home. You fixed it up so my straw would point that way. It ain't fair, an' I won't do it."

"You got no right following me."

"I ain't following you, but you keep going just the place I want to go. It's you following me, on'y keepin' ahead. I told you I was after cherries."

"Well, the cherries are that way and I'm going this way, and I don't want you along."

"You couldn't get me if you wanted me."



So Sappy went cherryward and Yan waited awhile, then crawled toward the fruit garden. After twenty or thirty yards more, he saw a gleam of red, then under it a bright yellow eye glaring at him. He had chanced on a hen sitting on her nest. He came nearer, she took alarm and ran away, not clucking, but cackling loudly. There were a dozen eggs of two different styles, all bright and clean, and the hen's comb was bright red. Yan knew hens. This was easy to read: Two stray hens laying in one nest, and neither of them sitting yet.

"So ho! Straws show which way the hens go."

He gathered up the eggs into his hat and crawled back toward the tree where all had to meet.

But before he had gone far he heard a loud barking, then yells for help, and turned in time to see Guy scramble up a tree while Cap, the old Collie, barked savagely at him from below. Now that he was in no danger Sappy had the sense to keep quiet. Yan came back as quickly as possible. The Dog at once recognized and obeyed him, but doubtless was much puzzled to make out why he should be pelted back to the house when he had so nobly done his duty by the orchard.

"Now, you see, maybe next time you'll do what the medicine straw tells you. Only for me you'd been caught and fed to the pigs, sure."

"Only for you I wouldn't have come. I wasn't scared of your old Dog, anyway. Just in about two minutes more I was comin' down to kick the stuffin' out o' him myself."

"Perhaps you'd like to go back and do it now. I'll soon call him."

"Oh, I hain't got time now, but some other time—Let's find Sam."

So they foregathered at the tree, and laden with their spoils, they returned gloriously to camp.


The Deer Hunt

That evening they had a feast and turned in to sleep at the usual hour. The night passed without special alarm. Once about daylight Sappy called them, saying he believed there was a Bear outside, but he had a trick of grinding his teeth in his sleep, and the other boys told him that was the Bear he heard.

Yan went around to the mud albums and got some things he could not make out and a new mark that gave him a sensation. He drew it carefully. It was evidently the print of a small sharp hoof. This was what he had hungered for so long. He shouted, "Sam—Sam—Sapwood, come here; here's a Deer track."

The boys shouted back, "Ah, what you givin' us now!" "Call off your Dog!" and so forth.

But Yan persisted. The boys were so sure it was a trick that they would not go for some time, then the sun had risen high, shining straight down on the track instead of across, so it became very dim. Soon the winds, the birds and the boys themselves helped to wipe it out. But Yan had his drawing, and persisted in spite of the teasing that it was true.

At length Guy said aside to Sam: "Seems to me a feller that hunts tracks so terrible serious ought to see the critter some time. 'Tain't right to let him go on sufferin'. I think he ought to see that Deer. We ought to help him." Here he winked a volley or two and made signs for Sam to take Yan away.

This was easily done.

"Let's see if your Deer went out by the lower mud album." So they walked down that way, while Guy got an old piece of sacking, stuffed it with grass, and, hastily tying it in the form of a Deer's head, stuck it on a stick. He put in two flat pieces of wood for ears, took charcoal and made two black spots for eyes and one for a nose, then around each he drew a ring of blue clay from the bed of the brook. This soon dried and became white. Guy now set up this head in the bushes, and when all was ready he ran swiftly and silently through the wood to find Sam and Yan. He beckoned vigorously and called under his voice: "Sam—Yan—a Deer! Here's that there Deer that made them tracks, I believe."

Guy would have failed to convince Yan if Sam had not looked so much interested. They ran back to the teepee, got their bows and arrows, then, guided by Guy, who, however, kept back, they crawled to where he had seen the Deer.

"There—there, now, ain't he a Deer? There—see him move!"

Yan's first feeling was a most exquisite thrill of pleasure. It was like the uplift of joy he had had the time he got his book, but was stronger. The savage impulse to kill came quickly, and his bow was in his hand, but he hesitated.

"Shoot! Shoot!" said Sam and Guy.

Yan wondered why they did not shoot. He turned, and in spite of his agitation he saw that they were making fun of him. He glanced at the Deer again, moved up a little closer and saw the trick.

Then they hooted aloud. Yan was a little crestfallen. Oh, it had been such an exquisite feeling! The drop was long and hard, but he rallied quickly.

"I'll shoot your Deer for you," he said, and sent an arrow close under it.

"Well, I kin beat that," and Sam and Guy both fired. Sam's arrow stuck in the Deer's nose. At that he gave a yell; then all shot till the head was stuck full of arrows, and they returned to the teepee to get dinner. They were still chaffing Yan about the Deer when he said slowly to Guy:

"Generally you are not so smart as you think you are, but this time you're smarter. You've given me a notion."

So after dinner he got a sack about three feet long and stuffed it full of dry grass; then he made a small sack about two and a half feet long and six inches thick, but with an elbow in it and pointed at one end. This he also stuffed with hay and sewed with a bone needle to the big sack. Next he cut four sticks of soft pine for legs and put them into the four corners of the big sack, wrapping them with bits of sacking to be like the rest. Then he cut two ears out of flat sticks; painted black eyes and nose with a ring of white around each, just as Sappy had done, but finally added a black spot on each side of the body, and around that a broad gray hand. Now he had completed what every one could see was meant for a Deer.

The other boys helped a little, but not did cease to chaff him.

"Who's to be fooled this time?" asked Guy.

"You," was the answer.

"I'll bet you'll get buck fever the first time you come across it," chuckled the Head Chief.

"Maybe I will, but you'll all have a chance. Now you fellers stay here and I'll hide the Deer. Wait till I come back."

So Yan ran off northward with the dummy, then swung around to the east and hid it at a place quite out of the line that he first took. He returned nearly to where he came out, shouting "Ready!"

Then the hunters sallied forth fully armed, and Yan explained: "First to find it counts ten and has first shot. If he misses, next one can walk up five steps and shoot; if he misses, next walks five steps more, and so on until the Deer is hit. Then all the shooting must be done from the place where that arrow was fired. A shot in the heart counts ten; in the gray counts five; that's a body wound—and a hit outside of that counts one—that's a scratch. If the Deer gets away without a shot in the heart, then I count twenty-five, and the first one to find it is Deer for next hunt—twelve shots each is the limit."

The two hunters searched about for a long time. Sam made disparaging remarks about the trail this Deer did not leave, and Guy sneaked and peaked in every thicket.

Sappy was not an athlete nor an intellectual giant, but his little piggy eyes were wonderfully sharp and clear.

"I see him," he yelled presently, and pointed out the place seventy-five yards away where he saw one ear and part of the head.

"Tally ten for Sappy," and Yan marked it down.

Guy was filled with pride at his success. He made elaborate preparation to shoot, remarking, "I could 'a' seen it twicet as far—if—if—if—it was—if I had a fair chance."

He drew his bow and left fly. The arrow went little more than half way. So Sam remarked, "Five steps up I kin go. It don't say nothing about how long the steps?"


"Well, here goes," and he began the most wonderful Kangaroo hops that he could do. He covered about thirty feet in those five steps, and by swerving a little aside he got a good view of the Deer. He was now less than sixty-five yards away. He fired and missed. Now Guy had the right to walk up five steps. He also missed. Finally at thirty yards Sam sent an arrow close past a tree, deep in the Deer's gray flank.

"Bully shot! Body wound! Count five for the Great War Chief. All shooting from this spot now," said Yan, "and I don't know why I shouldn't shoot as well as the others."

"Coz you're the Deer and that'd be suicide," was Sam's objection. "But it's all right. You won't hit."

The objection was not sustained, and Yan tried his luck also. Two or three shots in the brown of the Deer's haunch, three or four into the tree that stood half way between, but nearly in line, a shot or two into the nose, then "Hooray!" a shot from Guy right into the Deer's heart put an end to the chase. Now they went up to draw and count the arrows.

Guy was ahead with a heart shot, ten, a body wound, five, and a scratch, one, that's sixteen, with ten more for finding it—twenty-six points. Sam followed with two body wounds and two scratches—twelve points, and Yan one body wound and five scratches—ten points. The Deer looked like an old Porcupine when they came up to it, and Guy, bursting with triumph, looked like a young Emperor.

"I tell you it takes me to larn you fellers to Deer hunt. I'll bet I'll hit him in the heart first thing next time."

"I'll bet you won't, coz you'll be Deer and can't shoot till we both have."

Guy thought this the finest game he had ever played. He pranced away with the dummy on his back, scheming as he went to make a puzzle for the others. He hid the Deer in a dense thicket east of the camp, then sneaked around to the west of the camp and yelled "Ready!" They had a long, tedious search and had to give it up.

"Now what to do? Who counts?" asked the Woodpecker.

"When Deer escapes it counts twenty-five," replied the inventer of the game; and again Guy was ahead.

"This is the bulliest game I ever seen" was his ecstatic remark.

"Seems to me there's something wrong; that Deer ought to have a trail."

"That's so," assented Yan. "Wonder if he couldn't drag an old root!"

"If there was snow it'd be easy."

"I'll tell you, Sam; we'll tear up paper and leave a paper trail."

"Now you're talking." So all ran to camp. Every available scrap of wrapping paper was torn up small and put in a "scent bag."

Since no one found the Deer last time, Guy had the right to hide it again.

He made a very crooked trail and a very careful hide, so that the boys nearly walked onto the Deer before they saw it about fifteen yards away. Sam scored ten for the find. He fired and missed. Yan now stepped up his five paces and fired so hastily that he also missed. Guy now had a shot at it at five yards, and, of course, hit the Deer in the heart. This succession of triumphs swelled his head nearly to the bursting point, and his boasting passed all bounds. But it now became clear that there must be a limit to the stepping up. So the new rule was made, "No stepping up nearer than fifteen paces."

The game grew as they followed it. Its resemblance to real hunting was very marked. The boys found that they could follow the trail, or sweep the woods with their eyes as they pleased, and find the game, but the wisest way was a combination. Yan was too much for the trail, Sam too much for the general lookout, but Guy seemed always in luck. His little piglike eyes took in everything, and here at length he found a department in which he could lead. It looked as though little pig-eyed Guy was really cut out for a hunter. He made a number of very clever hidings of the Deer. Once he led the trail to the pond, then, across, and right opposite he put the Deer in full view, so that they saw it at once in the open; they were obliged either to shoot across the pond, or step farther away round the edge, or step into the deep water, and again Guy scored. It was found necessary to bar hiding the Deer on a ridge and among stones, because in one case arrows which missed were lost in the bushes and in the other they were broken.

They played this game so much that they soon found a new difficulty. The woods were full of paper trails, and there was no means of deciding which was the old and which the new. This threatened to end the fun altogether. But Yan hit on the device of a different colour of paper. This gave them a fresh start, but their supply was limited. There was paper everywhere in the woods now, and it looked as though the game was going to kill itself, when old Caleb came to pay them a visit. He always happened round as though it was an accident, but the boys were glad to see him, as he usually gave some help.

"Ye got some game, I see," and the old man's eye twinkled as he noted the dummy, now doing target duty on the forty-yard range. "Looks like the real thing. Purty good—purty good." He chuckled as he learned about the Deer hunt, and a sharp observer might have discerned a slight increase of interest when he found that it was not Sam Raften that was the "crack" hunter.

"Good fur you, Guy Burns. Me an' your Paw hev hunted Deer together on this very crik many a time."

When he learned the difficulty about the scent, he said "Hm," and puffed at his pipe for awhile in silence. Then at length:

"Say, Yan, why don't you and Guy get a bag o' wheat or Injun corn for scent: that's better than paper, an' what ye lay to-day is all clared up by the birds and Squirrels by to-morrow."

"Bully!" shouted Sam. (He had not been addressed at all, but he was not thin-skinned.) Within ten minutes he had organized another "White massacree"—that is, a raid on the home barn, and in half an hour he returned with a peck of corn.

"Now, lemme be Deer," said Caleb. "Give me five minutes' start, then follow as fast as ye like. I'll show ye what a real Deer does."

He strode away bearing the dummy, and in five minutes as they set out on the trail he came striding back again. Oh, but that seemed a long run. The boys followed the golden corn trail—a grain every ten feet was about all they needed now, they were so expert. It was a straight run for a time, then it circled back till it nearly cut itself again (at X, page 298). The boys thought it did so, and claimed the right to know, as on a real Deer trail you could tell. So Caleb said, "No, it don't cut the old trail." Where, then, did it go? After beating about, Sam said that the trail looked powerful heavy, like it might be double.

"Bet I know," said Guy. "He's doubled back," which was exactly what he did do, though Caleb gave no sign. Yan looked back on the trail and found where the new one had forked. Guy gave no heed to the ground once he knew the general directions. He ran ahead (toward Y), so did Sam, but Guy glanced back to Yan on the trail to make sure of the line.

They had not gone far beyond the nearest bushes before Yan found another quirk in the trail. It doubled back at Z. He unravelled the double, glanced around, and at O he plainly saw the Deer lying on its side in the grass. He let off a triumphant yell, "Yi, yi, yi, Deer!" and the others came running back just in time to see Yan send an arrow straight into its heart.



Forty yards and first shot. Well, that's what the Injuns would call a 'grand coup,' and Caleb's face wore the same pleasant look as when he made the fire with rubbing-sticks.

"What's a grand coup?" asked Little Beaver.

"Oh, I suppose it's a big deed. The Injuns call a great feat a 'coup,' an' an extra big one a 'grand coup.' Sounds like French, an' maybe 'tis, but the Injuns says it. They had a regular way of counting their coup, and for each they had the right to an Eagle feather in their bonnet, with a red tuft of hair on the end for the extra good ones. At least, they used to. I reckon now they're forgetting it all, and any buck Injun wears just any feather he can steal and stick in his head."

"What do you think of our head-dresses?" Yan ventured.

'Hm! You ain't never seen a real one or you wouldn't go at them that way at all. First place, the feathers should all be white with black tips, an' fastened not solid like that, but loose on a cap of soft leather. Each feather, you see, has a leather loop lashed on the quill end for a lace to run through and hold it to the cap, an' then a string running through the middle of each feather to hold it—just so. Then there are ways of marking each feather to show how it was got. I mind once I was out on a war party with a lot of Santees—that's a brand of Sioux—an' we done a lot o' sneaking an' stealing an' scalped some of the enemy. Then we set out for home, and when we was still about thirty miles away we sent on an Injun telegram of good luck. The leader of our crowd set fire to the grass after he had sent two men half a mile away on each side to do the same thing, an' up went three big smokes. There is always some one watching round an Injun village, an' you bet when they seen them three smokes they knowed that we wuz a-coming back with scalps.

"The hull Council come out to meet us, but not too reckless, coz this might have been the trick of enemies to surprise them.

"Well, when we got there, maybe there wasn't a racket. You see, we didn't lose a man, and we brung in a hundred horses and seven scalps. Our leader never said a word to the crowd, but went right up to the Council teepee. He walked in—we followed. There was the Head Chief an' all the Council settin' smoking. Our leader give the 'How, an' then we all 'Howed.' Then we sat an' smoked, an' the Chief called on our leader for an account of the little trip. He stood up an' made a speech.

"'Great Chief and Council of my Tribe,' says he. 'After we left the village and the men had purified themselves, we travelled seven days and came to the Little Muddy River. There we found the track of a travelling band of Arapaho. In two days we found their camp, but they were too strong for us, so we hid till night; then I went alone into their camp and found that some of them were going off on a hunt next day. As I left I met a lone warrior coming in. I killed him with my knife. For that I claim a coup; and I scalped him—for that I claim another coup; an' before I killed him I slapped his face with my hand—for this I claim a grand coup; and I brought his horse away with me—for that I claim another coup. Is it not so,' sez he, turning to us, and we all yelled 'How! How! How!' For this fellow, 'Whooping Crane,' was awful good stuff. Then the Council agreed that he should wear three Eagle feathers, the first for killing and scalping the enemy in his own camp—that was a grand coup, and the feather had a tuft of red hair on it an' a red spot on the web. The next feather was for slapping the feller's face first, which, of course, made it more risky. This Eagle feather had a red tuft on top an' a red hand on the web; the one for stealing the horse had a horseshoe, but no tuft, coz it wasn't counted A1.

"Then the other Injuns made their claims, an' we all got some kind of honours. I mind one feller was allowed to drag a Fox tail at each heel when he danced, an' another had ten horseshoe marks on an Eagle feather for stealing ten horses, an' I tell you them Injuns were prouder of them feathers than a general would be of his medals."


1. The plain white Goose or Turkey feather.

2. The same, with tip dyed black or painted with indelible ink.

3. The same, showing ruff of white down lashed on with wax end.

4. The same, showing leather loop lashed on for the holding lace.

5. The same, viewed edge on.

6. The same, with a red flannel cover sewn and lashed on the quill. This is a 'coup feather.'

7. The same, with a tuft of red horsehair lashed on the top to mark a 'grand coup' and (a) a thread through the middle of the rib to hold feather in proper place. This feather is marked with the symbol of a grand coup in target shooting. This symbol may be drawn on an oval piece of paper gummed on the top of the feather.

8. The tip of a feather showing how the red horsehair tuft is lashed on with fine waxed thread.

9. The groundwork of the war bonnet made of any soft leather, (a) a broad band to go round the head, laced at the joint or seam behind; (b) a broad tail behind as long as needed to hold all the wearer's feathers; (c) two leather thongs or straps over the top; (d) leather string to tie under the chin; (e) the buttons, conchas or side ornaments of shells, silver, horn or wooden discs, even small mirrors and circles of beadwork were used, and sometimes the conchas were left out altogether; they may have the owner's totem on them, usually a bunch of ermine tails hung from each side of the bonnet just below the concha. A bunch of horsehair will answer as well; (hh) the holes in the leather for holding the lace of the feather; 24 feathers are needed for the full bonnet, without the tail, so they are put less than an inch apart; (iii) the lacing holes on the tail: this is as long as the wearer's feathers call for; some never have any tail.

10. Side view of the leather framework, showing a pattern sometimes used to decorate the front.

11, 12 and 13. Beadwork designs for front band of bonnet; all have white grounds. No. 11 (Arapaho) has green band at top and bottom with red zigzag. No. 12 (Ogallala) has blue band at top and bottom, red triangles; the concha is blue with three white bars and is cut off from the band by a red bar. No. 13 (Sioux) has narrow band above and broad band below blue, the triangle red, and the two little stars blue with yellow centre.

14. The bases of three feathers, showing how the lace comes out of the cap leather, through the eye or loop on the bottom of the quill, and in again.

15. The completed bonnet, showing how the feathers of the crown should spread out, also showing the thread that passes through the middle of each feather on inner side to hold it in place; another thread passes from the point where the two straps (c in 9) join, then down through each feather in the tail.

The Indians now often use the crown of a soft felt hat for the basis of a war bonnet.

N.B. A much easier way to mark the feather is to stick on it near the top an oval of white paper and on this draw the symbol with waterproof ink.

"My, I wish I could go out there and be with those fellows," and Yan sighed as he compared his commonplace lot with all this romantic splendour.

"Guess you'd soon get sick of it. I know I did," was the answer; "forever shooting and killing, never at peace, never more than three meals ahead of starvation and just as often three meals behind. No, siree, no more for me."

"I'd just like to see you start in horse-stealing for honours round here," observed Sam, "though I know who'd get the feathers if it was chicken stealing."

"Say, Caleb," said Guy, who, being friendly and of the country, never thought of calling the old man "Mr. Clark," "didn't they give feathers for good Deer-hunting? I'll bet I could lick any of them at it if I had a gun."

"Didn't you hear me say first thing that that there shot o' Yan's should score a 'grand coup'?"

"Oh, shucks! I kin lick Yan any time; that was just a chance shot. I'll bet if you give feathers for Deer-hunting I'll get them all."

"We'll take you up on that," said the oldest Chief, but the next interrupted:

"Say, boys, we want to play Injun properly. Let's get Mr. Clark to show us how to make a real war bonnet. Then we'll wear only what feathers we win."

"Ye mean by scalping the Whites an' horse-stealing?"

"Oh, no; there's lots of things we can do—best runner, best Deer hunter, best swimmer, best shot with bow and arrows."

"All right." So they set about questioning Caleb. He soon showed them how to put a war bonnet together, using, in spite of Yan's misgivings, the crown of an old felt hat for the ground work and white goose quills trimmed and dyed black at the tips for Eagle feathers. But when it came to the deeds that were to be rewarded, each one had his own ideas.

"If Sappy will go to the orchard and pick a peck of cherries without old Cap gettin' him, I'll give him a feather with all sorts of fixin's on it," suggested Sam.

"Well, I'll bet you can't get a chicken out of our barn 'thout our Dog gettin' you, Mr. Smarty."

"Pooh! I ain't stealing chickens. Do you take me for a nigger? I'm a noble Red-man and Head Chief at that, I want you to know, an' I've a notion to collect that scalp you're wearin' now. You know it belongs to me and Yan," and he sidled over, rolling his eye and working his fingers in a way that upset Guy's composure. "And I tell you a feller with one foot in the grave should have his thoughts on seriouser things than chicken-stealing. This yere morbid cravin' for excitement is rooinin' all the young fellers nowadays."

Yan happened to glance at Caleb. He was gazing off at nothing, but there was a twinkle in his eye that Yan never before saw there.

"Let's go to the teepee. It's too hot out here. Come in, won't you, Mr. Clark?"

"Hm. 'Tain't much cooler in here, even if it is shady," remarked the old Trapper. "Ye ought to lift one side of the canvas and get some air."

"Why, did the real Injuns do that?"

"I should say they did. There ain't any way they didn't turn and twist the teepee for comfort. That's what makes it so good. Ye kin live in it forty below zero an' fifty 'bove suffocation an' still be happy. It's the changeablest kind of a layout for livin' in. Real hot weather the thing looks like a spider with skirts on and held high, an' I tell you ye got to know the weather for a teepee. Many a hot night on the plains I've been woke up by hearing 'Tap-tap-tap' all around me in the still black night and wondered why all the squaws was working, but they was up to drop the cover and drive all the pegs deeper, an' within a half hour there never failed to come up a big storm. How they knew it was a-comin' I never could tell. One old woman said a Coyote told her, an' maybe that's true, for they do change their song for trouble ahead; another said it was the flowers lookin' queer at sundown, an' another had a bad dream. Maybe they're all true; it comes o' watchin' little things."

"Do they never get fooled?" asked Little Beaver

'Oncet in awhile, but not near as often as a White-man would.

"I mind once seeing an artist chap, one of them there portygraf takers. He come out to the village with a machine an' took some of the little teepees. Then I said, 'Why don't you get Bull-calf's squaw to put up their big teepee? I tell you that's a howler.' So off he goes, and after dickering awhile he got the squaw to put it up for three dollars. You bet it was a stunner, sure—all painted red, with green an' yaller—animals an' birds an' scalps galore. It made that feller's eyes bug out to see it. He started in to make some portygrafs, then was taking another by hand, so as to get the colours, an' I bet it would have crowded him to do it, but jest when he got a-going the old squaw yelled to the other—the Chief hed two of them—an' lighted out to take down that there teepee. That artist he hollered to stop, said he had hired it to stay up an' a bargain was a bargain. But the old squaw she jest kept on a-jabberin' an' pintin' at the west. Pretty soon they had the hull thing down and rolled up an' that artist a-cussin' like a cow-puncher. Well, I mind it was a fine day, but awful hot, an' before five minutes there come a little dark cloud in the west, then in ten minutes come a-whoopin' a regular small cyclone, an' it went through that village and wrecked all the teepees of any size. That red one would surely have gone only for that smart old squaw."

Under Caleb's directions the breezy side of the cover was now raised a little, and the shady side much more. This changed the teepee from a stifling hothouse into a cool, breezy shade.

"An' when ye want to know which way is the wind, if it's light, ye wet your finger so, an' hold it up. The windy side feels cool at once, and by that ye can set your smoke-flaps."

"I want to know about war bonnets," Yan now put in. "I mean about things to do to wear feathers—that is, things we can do."

"Ye kin have races, an' swimmin' an bownarrer shootin'. I should say if you kin send one o' them arrers two hundred yards that would kill a Buffalo at twenty feet. I'd think that was pretty good. Yes, I'd call that way up."

"What—a grand coup?"

"Yes, I reckon; an' if you fell short on'y fifty yards that'd still kill a Deer, an' we could call that a coup. If," continued Caleb, "you kin hit that old gunny-sack buck plunk in the heart at fifty yards first shot I'd call that away up; an' if you hit it at seventy-five yards in the heart no matter how many tries, I'd call you a shot. If you kin hit a nine-inch bull's-eye two out of three at forty yards every time an' no fluke, you'd hold your own among Injuns though I must say they don't go in much for shooting at a target. They shoot at 'most anything they see in the woods. I've seen the little copper-coloured kids shooting away at butterflies. Then they have matches—they try who can have most arrers in the air at one time. To have five in the air at once is considered good. It means powerful fast work and far shooting. You got to hold a bunch handy in the left hand fur that. The most I ever seen one man have up at once was eight. That was reckoned 'big medicine,' an' any one that can keep up seven is considered swell."

"Do you know any other things besides bows and arrows that would do?"

"I think that a rubbing-stick fire ought to count," interrupted Sam. "I want that in coz Guy can't do it. Any one who kin do it at all gets a feather, an' any one who kin do it in one minute gets a swagger feather, or whatever you call it; that takes care of Yan and me an' leaves Guy out in the cold."

"I'll bet I kin hunt Deer all round you both, I kin."

"Oh, shut up, Sappy; we're tired a-hearing about your Deer hunting. We're going to abolish that game." Then Sam continued, apparently addressing Caleb, "Do you know any Injun games?"

But Caleb took no notice.

Presently Yan said, "Don't the Injuns play games, Mr. Clark?

"Well, yes, I kin show you two Injun games that will test your eyesight."

"I bet I kin beat any one at it," Guy made haste to tell. "Why, I seen that Deer before Yan could—"

"Oh, shut up, Guy," Yan now exclaimed. A peculiar sound—"Wheet—wheet—wheet"—made Sappy turn. He saw Sam with an immense knife, whetting it most vigorously and casting a hungry, fishy glance from time to time to the "yaller moss-tuft" on Guy's neck.

"Time has came," he said to nobody in particular.

"You better let me alone," whined Guy, for that horrible "wheet—wheet" jarred his nerves somehow. He looked toward Yan, and seeing, as he thought, the suggestion of a smile, he felt more comfortable, but a glance at Sam dispelled his comfort; the Woodpecker's face was absolutely inscrutable and perfectly demoniac with paint.

"Why don't you whet up, Little Beaver? Don't you want your share?" asked the Head Chief through his teeth.

"I vote we let him wear it till he brags again about his Deer-hunting. Then off she comes to the bone," was the reply. "Tell us about the Injun game, Mr. Clark."

"I pretty near forget it now, but le's see. They make two squares on the ground or on two skins; each one is cut up in twenty-five smaller squares with lines like that. Then they have, say, ten rings an' ten nuts or pebbles. One player takes five rings an' five nuts an' sets them around on the squares of one set, an' don't let the other see till all is ready; then the other turns an' looks at it while some one else sings a little song that one of the boys turned into:

"'Ki yi ya—ki yi yee, You think yer smart as ye kin be, You think yer awful quick to see But yer not too quick for me, Ki yi ya—ki yi yee.'

"Then the first square is covered with a basket or anything and the second player must cover the other skin with counters just the same from memory. For every counter he gets on the right square he counts one, and loses one for each on the wrong square."

"I'll bet I kin——" Guy began, but Sam's hand gripped his moss-tuft.

"Here, you let me alone. I ain't bragging. I'm only telling the simple truth."

"Ugh! Better tell some simple lies, then—much safer," said the Great Woodpecker, with horrid calm and meaning. "If ever I lift that scalp you'll catch cold and die, do ye know it?"

Again Yan could see that Caleb had to look far away to avoid taking an apparent interest.

"There's another game. I don't know as it's Injun, but it's the kind o' game where an Injun could win. They first made two six-inch squares of white wood or card, then on each they made rings like a target or squares like the quicksight game, or else two Rabbits the same on each. One feller takes six spots of black, half an inch across, an' sticks them on one, scattering anyhow, an' sets it up a hundred yards off; another feller takes same number of spots an' the other Rabbit an' walks up till he can see to fix his Rabbit the same. If he kin do it at seventy-five yards he's a swell; if he kin do it at sixty yards he's away up, but less than fifty yards is no good. I seen the boys have lots o' fun out o' it. They try to fool each other every way, putting one spot right on another or leaving some off. It's a sure 'nough test of good eyes."

"I'll bet—" began Sappy again, but a loud savage "Grrrr" from Sam, who knew perfectly well what was coming, put a stop to the bet, whatever it was.

"There was two other Injun tests of eyes that I mind now. Some old Buck would show the youngsters the Pleiades—them's the little stars that the Injuns call the Bunch—an' ask 'How many kin you see?' Some could sho'ly see five or six an' some could make out seven. Them as sees seven is mighty well off for eyes. Ye can't see the Pleiades now—they belong to the winter nights; but you kin see the Dipper the hull year round, turning about the North Star. The Injuns call this the 'Broken Back,' an' I've heard the old fellers ask the boys: 'You see the Old Squaw—that's the star, second from the end, the one at the bend of the handle—well, she has a papoose on her back. Kin you see the papoose?' an' sure enough, when my eyes was real good I could see the little baby star tucked in by the big un. It's a mighty good test of eyes if you kin see that."

"Eh—" began Guy.

But "Grrrrrrrrr" from Sam stopped him in time. Again Caleb's eyes wandered afar. Then he stepped out of the teepee and Yan heard him mutter, "Consarn that whelp, he makes me laugh spite o' myself." He went off a little way into the woods and presently called "Yan! Guy! Come here." All three ran out. "Talking about eyes, what's that?" An opening in the foliage gave a glimpse of the distant Burns's clover field. "Looks like a small Bear."

"Woodchuck! That's our Woodchuck! That's the ole sinner that throwed Paw off'n the mower. Where's my bone-arrer?" and Guy went for his weapons.

The boys ran for the fence of the clover field, going more cautiously as they came near. Still the old Woodchuck heard something and sat up erect on his haunches. He was a monster, and out on the smooth clover field he did look like a very small Bear. His chestnut breast was curiously relieved by his unusually gray back and head.

"Paw says it's his sins as turned his head gray. He's a hoary headed sinner, an' he ain't repented o' none o' them so far, but I'm after him now."

"Hold on! Start even!" said Sam, seeing that Guy was prepared to shoot.

So all drew together, standing in a row like an old picture of the battle of Crecy. The arrows scattered about the Woodchuck. Most went much too far, none went near because he was closer than they had supposed, but he scuttled away into his hole, there, no doubt, to plan a new trap for the man with the mower.



"How'd you sleep, Sam?"

"Didn't sleep a durn bit."

"Neither did I. I was shivering all night. I got up an' put the spare blanket on, but it didn't do any good."

"Wonder if there was a chills-and-fever fog or something?"

"How'd you find it, Sappy?"

"All right."

"Didn't smell any fog?"


The next night it was even worse. Guy slept placidly, if noisily, but Sam and Yan tumbled about and shivered for hours. In the morning at dawn Sam sat up.

"Well, I tell you this is no joke. Fun's fun, but if I am going to have the shivers every night I'm going home while I'm able."

Yan said nothing. He was very glum. He felt much as Sam did, but was less ready to give up the outing.

Their blues were nearly dispelled when the warm sun came up, but still they dreaded the coming night.

"Wonder what it is," said Little Beaver.

"'Pears to me powerful like chills and fever and then again it don't. Maybe we drink too much swamp water. I believe we're p'isoned with Guy's cooking."

"More like getting scurvy from too much meat. Let's ask Caleb."

Caleb came around that afternoon or they would have gone after him. He heard Yan's story in silence, then, "Have ye sunned your blankets sense ye came?"


Caleb went into the teepee, felt the blankets, then grunted: "H-m! Jest so. They're nigh soppin'. You turn in night after night an' sweat an' sweat in them blankets an' wonder why they're damp. Hain't you seen your ma air the blankets every day at home? Every Injun squaw knows that much, an' every other day at least she gives the blankets a sun roast for three hours in the middle of the day, or, failing that, dries them at the fire. Dry out your blankets and you won't have no more chills."

The boys set about it at once, and that night they experienced again the sweet, warm sleep of healthy youth.

There was another lesson they had to learn in campercraft. The Mosquitoes were always more or less of a plague. At night they forced the boys into the teepee, but they soon learned to smudge the insects with a wad of green grass on the hot fire. This they would throw on at sundown, then go outside, closing the teepee tight and eat supper around the cooking fire. After that was over they would cautiously open the teepee to find the grass all gone and the fire low, a dense cloud of smoke still in the upper part, but below it clear air. They would then brush off the Mosquitoes that had alighted on their clothes, crawl into the lodge and close the door tight. Not a Mosquito was left alive in it, and the smoke hanging about the smoke-vent was enough to keep them from coming in, and so they slept in peace. Thus they could baffle the worst pest of the woods. But there was yet another destroyer of comfort by day, and this was the Blue-bottle flies. There seemed more of them as time went on, and they laid masses of yellowish eggs on anything that smelled like meat or corruption. They buzzed about the table and got into the dishes; their dead, drowned and mangled bodies were polluting all the food, till Caleb remarked during one of his ever-increasing visits: "It's your own fault. Look at all the filth ye leave scattered about."

There was no blinking the fact; for fifty feet around the teepee the ground was strewn with scraps of paper, tins and food. To one side was a mass of potato peelings, bones, fish-scales and filth, and everywhere were the buzzing flies, to be plagues all day, till at sundown the Mosquitoes relieved them and took the night shift of the office of torment.

"I want to learn, especially if it's Injun," said Little Beaver. "What had we best do?"

"Wall, first ye could move camp; second, ye could clean this."

As there was no other available camp ground they had no choice, and Yan said with energy: "Boys, we got to clean this and keep it clean, too. We'll dig a hole for everything that won't burn."

So Yan seized the spade and began to dig in the bushes not far from the teepee. Sam and Guy were gradually drawn in. They began gathering all the rubbish and threw it into the hole. As they tumbled in bones, tins and scraps of bread Yan said: "I just hate to see that bread go in. It doesn't seem right when there's so many living things would be glad to get it."

At this, Caleb, who was sitting on a log placidly smoking, said:

"Now, if ye want to be real Injun, ye gather all the eatables ye don't want—meat, bread and anything, an' every day put it on some high place. Most generally the Injuns has a rock—they call it Wakan; that means sacred medicine—an' there they leave scraps of food to please the good spirits. Av coorse it's the birds and Squirrels gets it all; but the Injun is content as long as it's gone, an' if ye argy with them that 'tain't the spirits gets it, but the birds, they say: 'That doesn't matter. The birds couldn't get it if the spirits didn't want them to have it,' or maybe the birds took it to carry to the spirits!"

Then the Grand Council went out in a body to seek the Wakan Rock. They found a good one in the open part of the woods, and it became a daily duty of one to carry the remnants of food to the rock. They were probably less acceptable to the wood creatures than they would have been half a year later, but they soon found that there were many birds glad to eat at the Wakan; and moreover, that before long there was a trail from the brook, only twenty-five yards away, that told of four-foots also enjoying the bounty of the good spirits.

Within three days of this the plague of Bluebottles was over, and the boys realized that, judging by its effects, the keeping of a dirty camp is a crime.

One other thing old Caleb insisted on: "Yan," said he, "you didn't ought to drink that creek water now; it ain't hardly runnin'. The sun hez it het up, an' it's gettin' too crawly to be healthy."

"Well, what are we going to do?" said Sam, though he might as well have addressed the brook itself.

"What can we do, Mr. Clark?"

"Dig a well!"

"Phew! We're out here for fun!" was Sam's reply.

"Dig an Injun well," Caleb said. "Half an hour will do it. Here, I'll show you."

He took the spade and, seeking a dry spot, about twenty feet from the upper end of the pond he dug a hole some two feet square. By the time he was down three feet the water was oozing in fast. He got it down about four feet and then had to stop, on account of inflow. He took a bucket and bailed the muddy stuff out right to the bottom, and let it fill up to be again bailed out. After three bailings the water came in cold, sweet, and pure as crystal.

"There," said he, "that water is from your pond, but it is filtered through twenty feet of earth and sand. That's the way to get cool, pure water out of the dirtiest of swamps. That's an Injun well."


The Indian Drum

"Oh, that hair of horse and skin of sheep should Have such power to move the souls of men."

"If you were real Injun you'd make a drum of that," said Caleb to Yan, as they came to a Basswood blown over by a recent storm and now showing its weakness, for it was quite hollow—a mere shell.

"How do they do it? I want to know how."

"Get me the axe."

Yan ran for the axe. Caleb cut out a straight unbroken section about two feet long. This they carried to camp.

"Coorse ye know," said Caleb, "ye can't have a drum without skins for heads."

"What kind of skins?"

"Oh, Horse, Dog, Cow, Calf—'most any kind that's strong enough."

"I got a Calfskin in our barn, an' I know where there's another in the shed, but it's all chawed up with Rats. Them's mine. I killed them Calves. Paw give me the skins for killin' an' skinnin' them. Oh, you jest ought to see me kill a Calf—"

Guy was going off into one of his autopanegyrics when Sam who was now being rubbed on a sore place, gave a "Whoop!" and grabbed the tow-tuft with a jerk that sent the Third War Chief sprawling and ended the panegyric in the usual volley of "you-let-me-'lones."

"Oh, quit, Sam," objected Little Beaver. "You can't stop a Dog barking. It's his nature." Then to Guy: "Never mind, Guy; you are not hurt. I'll bet you can beat him hunting Deer, and you can see twice as far as he can."

"Yes, I kin; that's what makes him so mad. I'll bet I kin see three times as far—maybe five times," was the answer in injured tones.

"Go on now, Guy, and get the skins—that is, if you want a drum for the war dance. You're the only one in the crowd that's man enough to make the raise of a hide," and fired by this flattery, Guy sped away.

Meanwhile Caleb worked on the hollow log. He trimmed off the bark, then with the hatchet he cleared out all the punk and splinters inside. He made a fire on the ground in the middle of the drum-log as it stood on end, and watching carefully, he lifted it off from time to time and chopped away all the charred parts, smoothing and trimming till he had the log down thin and smooth within and without. They heard Guy shouting soon after he left. They thought him near at hand, but he did not come. Trimming the drum-log took a couple of hours, and still Guy did not return. The remark from Caleb, "'Bout ready for the skins now!" called from Sam the explanation, "Guess Old Man Burns snapped him up and put him to weeding the garden. Probably that was him we heard gettin' licked."

"Old Man Burns" was a poor and shiftless character, a thin, stoop-shouldered man. He was only thirty-five years of age, but, being married, that was enough to secure for him the title "Old Man." In Sanger, if Tom Nolan was a bachelor at eighty years of age he would still be Tom Nolan, "wan of the bhoys," but if he married at twenty he at once became "Old Man Nolan."

Mrs. Burns had produced the usual string of tow-tops, but several had died, the charitable neighbours said of starvation, leaving Guy, the eldest, his mother's darling, then a gap and four little girls, four, three, two and one years of age. She was a fat, fair, easy-going person, with a general sense of antagonism to her husband, who was, of course, the natural enemy of the children. Jim Burns cherished the ideal of bringing "that boy" up right—that is, getting all the work he could out of him—and Guy clung to his own ideal of doing as little work as possible. In this clash of ideals Guy's mother was his firm, though more or less secret, ally. He was without fault in her eyes: all that he did was right. His freckled visage and pudgy face were types of noble beauty, standards of comeliness and human excellence; his ways were ways of pleasantness and all his paths were peace; Margat Burns was sure of it.

Burns had a good deal of natural affection, but he was erratic; sometimes he would flog Guy mercilessly for nothing, and again laugh at some serious misdeed, so that the boy never knew just what to expect, and kept on the safe side by avoiding his "Paw" as much as possible. His visits to the camp had been thoroughly disapproved, partly because it was on Old Man Raften's land and partly because it enabled Guy to dodge the chores. Burns had been quite violent about it once or twice, but Mrs. Burns had the great advantage of persistence, and like the steady strain of the skilful angler on the slender line, it wins in the end against the erratic violence of the strongest trout. She had managed then that Guy should join the Injun camp, and gloried in his outrageously exaggerated accounts of how he could lick them all at anything, "though they wuz so much older'n bigger'n he wuz."

But on this day he was fallen in hard luck. His father saw him coming, met him with a "gad" and lashed him furiously. Knowing perfectly well that the flogging would not stop till the proper effect was produced, and that was to be gauged by the racket, Guy yelled his loudest. This was the uproar the boys had heard.

"Now, ye idle young scut! I'll larn ye to go round leaving bars down. You go an' tend to your work." So instead of hiking back gloriously laden with Calfskins, Guy was sent to ignominious and un-Injun toil in the garden.

Soon he heard his mother: "Guysie, Guysie." He dropped his hoe and walked to the kitchen.

"Where you goin'?" roared his father from afar. "Go back and mind your work."

"Maw wants me. She called me."

"You mind your work. Don't you dar' on your life to go thayer."

But Guy took no notice and walked on to his mother. He knew that at this post-thrashing stage of wrath his father was mouthy and harmless, and soon he was happy eating a huge piece of bread and jam.

"Poor dear, you must be hungry, an' your Paw was so mean to you. There, now, don't cry," for Guy began to weep again at the recollection of his wrongs. Then she whispered confidentially: "Paw's going to Downey's this afternoon, an' you can slip away as soon as he's gone, an' if you work well before that he won't be so awful mad after you come back. But be sure you don't let down the bars, coz if the pig was to get in Raften's woods dear knows what."

This was the reason of Guy's delay. He did not return to camp with the skins till late that day. As soon as he was gone, his foolish, doting mother, already crushed with the burden of the house, left everything and hoed two or three extra rows of cabbages, so "Paw" should find a great showing of work when he came back.

The Calfskins were hard as tin and, of course, had the hair on.

Caleb remarked, "It'll take two or three days to get them right," and buried them in a marshy, muddy pool in the full sunlight. "The warmer the better."

Three days later he took them out. Instead of being thin, hard, yellow, semi-transparent, they now were much thicker, densely white, and soft as silk. The hair was easily scraped off and the two pieces were pronounced all right for drumheads.

Caleb washed them thoroughly in warm water, with soap to clear off the grease, scraping them on both sides with a blunt knife; then he straightened the outer edge of the largest, and cut a thin strip round and round it till he had some sixty feet of rawhide line, about three-quarters of an inch wide. This he twisted, rolled and stretched until it was nearly round, then he cut from the remainder a circular piece thirty inches across, and a second from the "unchawed" part of the other skin. He laid these one on the other, and with the sharp point of a knife he made a row of holes in both, one inch from the edge and two inches apart. Then he set one skin on the ground, the drum-log on that and the other skin on the top, and bound them together with the long lace, running it from hole No. 1 on the top to No. 2 on the bottom, then to No. 3 on the top, and No. 4 on the bottom, and so on twice around, till every hole had a lace through it and the crossing laces made a diamond pattern all around. At first this was done loosely, but tightened up when once around, and finally both the drum-heads were drawn tense. To the surprise of all, Guy promptly took possession of the finished drum. "Them's my Calfskins," which, of course, was true.

And Caleb said, with a twinkle in his eye, "The wood seems to go with the skins."

A drumstick of wood, with a piece of sacking lashed on to soften it, was made, and Guy was disgusted to find how little sound the drum gave out.

"'Bout like pounding a fur cap with a lamb's tail," Sam thought.

"You hang that up in the shade to dry and you'll find a change," said the Trapper.

It was quite curious to note the effect of the drying as the hours went by. The drum seemed to be wracking and straining itself in the agony of effort, and slight noises came from it at times. When perfectly dry the semi-transparency of the rawhide came back, and the sound now was one to thrill the Red-man's heart.

Caleb taught them a little Indian war chant, and they danced round to it as he drummed and sang, till their savage instincts seemed to revive. But above all it worked on Yan. As he pranced around in step his whole nature seemed to respond; he felt himself a part of that dance. It was in himself; it thrilled him through and through and sent his blood exulting. He would gladly have given up all the White-man's "glorious gains" to live with the feeling called up by that Indian drum.


The Cat And The Skunk

Sam was away on a "massacree" to get some bread. Guy had been trapped by his natural enemy and was serving a term of hard labour in the garden; so Yan was alone in camp. He went around the various mud albums, but discovered nothing new, except the fact that tracks were getting more numerous. There were small Skunk and Mink tracks with the large ones now. As he came by the brush fence at the end of the blazed trail he saw a dainty little Yellow Warbler feeding a great lubberly young Cow-bird that, evidently, it had brought up. He had often heard that the Cow-bird habitually "plays Cuckoo" and leaves its egg in the nest of another bird, but this was the first time he had actually seen anything of it with his own eyes. As he watched the awkward mud-coloured Cow-bird flutter its ungrown wings and beg help from the brilliant little Warbler, less than half its size, he wondered whether the fond mother really was fooled into thinking it her own young, or whether she did it simply out of compassion for the foundling. He now turned down creek to the lower mud album, and was puzzled by a new track like this.

He sketched it, but before the drawing was done it dawned on him that this must be the track of a young Mud-turtle. He also saw a lot of very familiar tracks, not a few being those of the common Cat, and he wondered why they should be about so much and yet so rarely seen. Of course the animals were chiefly nocturnal, but the boys were partly so, and always on the ground now, so that explanation was not satisfactory. He lay down on his breast at the edge of the brook, which had here cut in a channel with steep clay walls six feet high and twenty feet apart. The stream was very small now—a mere thread of water zigzagging over the level muddy floor of the "canon," as Yan loved to call it. A broad, muddy margin at each side of the water made a fine place of record for the travelling Four-foots, and tracks new and old were there in abundance.

The herbage on the bank was very rank and full of noisy Grasshoppers and Crickets. Great masses of orange Jewelweed on one side were variegated with some wonderful Cardinal flowers. Yan viewed all this with placid content. He knew their names now, and thus they were transferred from the list of tantalizing mysteries to that of engaging and wonderful friends. As he lay there on his breast his thoughts wandered back to the days when he did not know the names of any flowers or birds—when all was strange and he alone in his hunger to know them, and Bonnerton came back to him with new, strange force of reminder. His father and mother, his brother and schoolmates were there. It seemed like a bygone existence, though only two months ago. He had written his mother to tell of his arrival, and once since to say that he was well. He had received a kind letter from his mother, with a scripture text or two, and a postscript from his father with some sound advice and more scripture texts. Since then he had not written. He could not comprehend how he could so completely drift away, and yet clearly it was because he had found here in Sanger the well for which he had thirsted.

As he lay there thinking, a slight movement nearer the creek caught his eye. A large Basswood had been blown down. Like most of its kind, it was hollow. Its trunk was buried in the tangle of rank summer growth, but a branch had been broken off and left a hole in the main stem. In the black cavern of the hole there appeared a head with shining green eyes, then out there glided onto the log a common gray Cat. She sat there in the sunshine, licked her paws, dressed her fur generally, stretched her claws and legs after the manner of her kind, walked to the end of the log, then down the easy slope to the bottom of the canon. Here she took a drink, daintily shook the water from her paws, and set the hair just right with a stroke. Then to Yan's amusement she examined all the tracks much as he had done, though it seemed clear that her nose, not her eyes, was judge. She walked down stream, leaving some very fine impressions that Yan mentally resolved to have in his note-book, very soon suddenly stopped, looked upward and around, a living picture of elegance, sleekness and grace, with eyes of green fire then deliberately leaped from the creek bed to the tangle of the bank and disappeared.

This seemed a very commonplace happening, but the fact of a house Cat taking to the woods lent her unusual interest, and Yan felt much of the thrill that a truly wild animal would have given him, and had gone far enough in art to find exquisite pleasure in the series of pictures the Cat had presented to his eyes.

He lay there for some minutes expecting her to reappear; then far up the creek he heard slight rattling of the gravel. He turned and saw, not the Cat, but a very different and somewhat larger animal. Low, thick-set, jet black, with white marks and an immense bushy tail—Yan recognized the Skunk at once, although he had never before met a wild one in daylight. It came at a deliberate waddle, nosing this way and that. It rounded the bend and was nearly opposite Yan, when three little Skunks of this year's brood came toddling after the mother.

The old one examined the tracks much as the Cat had done, and Yan got a singular sense of brotherhood in seeing the wild things at his own study.

Then the old Skunk came to the fresh tracks of the Cat and paused so long to smell them that the three young ones came up and joined in. One of the young ones went to the bank where the Cat came down. As it blew its little nose over the fresh scent, the old Skunk waddled to the place, became quite interested, then climbed the bank. The little ones followed in a disjointed procession, varied by one of them tumbling backward from the steep trail.

The old Skunk reached the top of the bank, then mounted the log and followed unerringly the Cat's back trail to the hole in the trunk. Down this she peered a minute, then, sniffing, walked in, till nothing could be seen but her tail. Now Yan heard loud, shrill mewing from the log, "Mew, mew, m-e-u-w, m-e-e-u-w," and the old Skunk came backing out, holding a small gray Kitten.

The little thing mewed and spit energetically, holding on to the inside of the log. But the old Skunk was too strong—she dragged it out. Then holding it down with both paws, she got a good firm grip of its neck and turned to carry it down to the bed of the brook. The Kitten struggled vigorously, and at last got its claws into the Skunk's eye and gave such a wrench that the ill-smelling villain loosened its hold a little and so gave the Kitten another chance to squeal, which it did with a will, putting all its strength into a succession of heartrending mee-ow—mee-ows. Yan's heart was touched. He was about to dash to the rescue when there was a scrambling in the far grass, a rush of gray, and the Cat—the old mother Cat was on the scene, a picture of demon rage, eyes ablaze, fur erect, ears back. With the spring of a Deer and the courage of a Lion she made for the black murderer. Eye could not follow the flashings of her paws. The Skunk recoiled and stared stupidly, but not long; nothing was "long" about it. Her every superb muscle was tingling with force and mad with hate as the mother Cat closed like a swooping Falcon. The Skunk had no time to aim that dreadful gun, and in the excitement fired a volley of the deadly musky spray backward, drenching her own young as they huddled in the trail.

Tooth and claw and deadly grip—the old Cat raged and tore, the black fur flew in every direction, and the Skunk for once lost her head and fired random shots of choking spray that drenched herself as well as the Cat. The Skunk's head and neck were terribly torn. The air was suffocating with the poisonous musk. The Skunk was desperately wounded and threw herself backward into the water. Blinded and choking, though scarcely bleeding, the old Cat would have followed even there, but the Kitten, wedged under the log, mewed piteously and stayed the mother's fury. She dragged it out unharmed but drenched with musk and carried it quickly to the den in the hollow log, then came out again and stood erect, blinking her blazing eyes—for they were burning with the spray—lashing her tail, the image of a Tigress eager to fight either part or all the world for the little ones she nursed. But the old Skunk had had more than enough. She scrambled off down the canon. Her three young ones had tumbled over each other to get out of the way when they got that first accidental charge of their mother's battery. She waddled away, leaving a trail of blood and smell, and they waddled after, leaving an odour just as strong.

Yan was thrilled by the desperate fight of the heroic old Cat. Her whole race went up higher in his esteem that day; and the fact that the house Cat really could take to the woods and there maintain herself by hunting was all that was needed to give her a place in his list of animal heroes.

Pussy walked uneasily up and down the log, from the hole where the Kittens were to the end overlooking the canon. She blinked very hard and was evidently suffering severely, but Yan knew quite well that there was no animal on earth big enough or strong enough to frighten that Cat from her post at the door of her home. There is no courage more indomitable than that of a mother Cat who is guarding her young.

At length all danger of attack seemed over, and Pussy, shaking her paws and wiping her eyes, glided into her hole. Oh, what a shock it must have been to the poor Kittens, though partly prepared by their brother's unsavoury coming back. There was the mother, whose return had always been heralded by a delicious odour of fresh Mouse or bird, interwoven with a loving and friendly odour of Cat, that was in itself a promise of happiness. Scent is the main thing in Cat life, and now the hole was darkened by a creature that was rank with every nasal guarantee of deadly enmity. Little wonder that they all fled puffing and spitting to the dark corners. It was a hard case; all the little stomachs were upset for a long time. They could do nothing but make the best of it and get used to it. The den never smelt any better while they were there, and even after they grew up and lived elsewhere many storms passed overhead before the last of the Skunk smell left them.



"I'll bet I kin make a Woodpecker come out of that hole," said Sapwood, one day as the three Red-men proceeded, bow in hand, through a far corner of Burns's Bush. He pointed to a hole in the top of a tall dead stub, then going near he struck the stub a couple of heavy blows with a pole. To the surprise of all there flew out, not a Woodpecker, but a Flying Squirrel. It scrambled to the top of the stub, looked this way and that, then spread its legs, wings and tail and sailed downward, to rise slightly at the end of its flight against a tree some twenty feet away. Yan bounded to catch it. His fingers clutched on its furry back, but he got such a cut from its sharp teeth that he was glad to let it go. It scrambled up the far side of the trunk and soon was lost in the branches.

Guy was quite satisfied that he had carried out his promise of bringing a Woodpecker out of the hole, "For ain't a Flying Squirrel a kind of Woodpecker?" he argued. He was, in consequence, very "cocky" the rest of the day, proposing to produce a Squirrel whenever they came to a stub with a hole in it, and at length, after many failures, had the satisfaction of driving a belated Woodpecker out of its nest.

The plan was evidently a good one for discovering living creatures. Yan promptly adopted it, and picking up a big stick as they drew near another stub with holes, he gave three or four heavy thumps. A Red Squirrel scrambled out of a lower hole and hid in an upper one; another sharp blow made it pop out and jump to the top of the stub, but eventually back into the lower hole.

The boys became much excited. They hammered the stub now without making the Squirrel reappear.

"Let's cut it down," said Little Beaver.

"Show you a better trick than that," replied the Woodpecker. He looked about and got a pole some twenty feet long. This he placed against a rough place high up on the stub and gave it a violent push, watching carefully the head of the stub. Yes! It swayed just a little. Sam repeated the push, careful to keep time with the stub and push always just as it began to swing away from him. The other boys took hold of the pole and all pushed together, as Sam called, "Now—now—now—"

A single push of 300 or 400 pounds would scarcely have moved the stub, but these little fifty-pound pushes at just the right time made it give more and more, and after three or four minutes the roots, that had begun to crack, gave way with a craunching sound, and down crashed the great stub. Its hollow top struck across a fallen log and burst open in a shower of dust, splinters and rotten wood. The boys rushed to the spot to catch the Squirrel, if possible. It did not scramble out as they expected it would, even when they turned over the fragments. They found the front of the stub with the old Woodpecker hole in it, and under that was a mass of finely shredded cedar bark, evidently a nest. Yan eagerly turned it over, and there lay the Red Squirrel, quite still and unharmed apparently, but at the end of her nose was a single drop of blood. Close beside her were five little Squirrels, evidently a very late brood, for they were naked, blind and helpless. One of them had at its nose a drop of blood and it lay as still as the mother. At first the hunters thought the old one was playing 'Possum, but the stiffness of death soon set in.

Now the boys felt very guilty and sorry. By thoughtlessly giving way to their hunting instincts they had killed a harmless mother Squirrel in the act of protecting her young, and the surviving little ones had no prospect but starvation.

Yan had been the most active in the chase, and now was far more conscience-stricken than either of the others.

"What are we going to do with them?" asked the Woodpecker. "They are too young to be raised for pets."

"Better drown them and be done with them," suggested Sappy, recalling the last honours of several broods of Kittens at home.

"I wish we could find another Squirrel's nest to put them into," said Little Beaver remorsefully, and then as he looked at the four squirming, helpless things in his hand the tears of repentance filled his eyes. "We might as well kill them and end their misery. We can't find another Squirrel's nest so late as this." But after a little silence he added, "I know some one who will put them out of pain. She may as well have them. She'd get them anyway, and that's the old gray wild Cat. Let's put them in her nest when she's away."

This seemed a reasonable, simple and merciful way of getting rid of the orphans. So the boys made for the "canon" part of the brook. At one time of the afternoon the sun shone so as to show plainly all that was in the hole. The boys went very quietly to Yan's lookout bank, and seeing that only the Kittens were there, Yan crept across and dropped the young Squirrels into the nest, then went back to his friends to watch, like Miriam, the fate of the foundlings.

They had a full hour to wait for the old Cat, and as they were very still all that time they were rewarded with a sight of many pretty wild things.

A Humming-bird "boomed" into view and hung in a misty globe of wings before one Jewel-flower after another.

"Say, Beaver, you said Humming-birds was something or other awful beautiful," said Woodpecker, pointing to the dull grayish-green bird before them.

"And I say so yet. Look at that," as, with a turn in the air, the hanging Hummer changed its jet-black throat to flame and scarlet that silenced the critic.

After the Humming-bird went away a Field-mouse was seen for a moment dodging about in the grass, and shortly afterward a Shrew-mole, not so big as the Mouse, was seen in hot pursuit on its trail.

Later a short-legged brown animal, as big as a Rabbit, came nosing up the dry but shady bed of the brook, and as it went beneath them Yan recognized by its little Beaver-like head and scaly oar-shaped tail that it was a Muskrat, apparently seeking for water.

There was plenty in the swimming-pond yet, and the boys realized that this had become a gathering place for those wild things that were "drowned out by the drought," as Sam put it.

The Muskrat had not gone more than twenty minutes before another deep-brown animal appeared. "Another Muskrat; must be a meeting," whispered the Woodpecker. But this one, coming close, proved a very different creature. As long as a Cat, but lower, with broad, flat head and white chin and throat, short legs, in shape a huge Weasel, there was no mistaking it; this was a Mink, the deadly enemy of the Muskrat, and now on the track of its prey. It rapidly turned the corner, nosing the trail like a Hound. If it overtook the Muskrat before it got to the pond there would be a tragedy. If the Muskrat reached the deep water it might possibly escape. But just as sure as the pond became a gathering place for Muskrats it would also become a gathering place for Mink.

Not five minutes had gone since the Mink went by before a silent gray form flashed upon the log opposite. Oh, how sleek and elegant it looked! What perfection of grace she seemed after the waddling, hunchy Muskrat and the quick but lumbering Mink. There is nothing more supple and elegant than a fine Cat, and men of science the world over have taken the Cat as the standard of perfection in animal make-up. Pussy glanced about for danger. She had brought no bird or Mouse, for the Kittens were yet too young for such training. The boys watched her with intensest interest. She glided along the log to the hole—the Skunk-smelling hole—uttered her low "purrow, purrow," that always sets the hungry Kittens agog, and was curling in around them, when she discovered the pink Squirrel-babies among her own. She stopped licking the nearest Kitten, stared at a young Squirrel, and smelled it. Yan wondered what help that could be when everything smelled of Skunk. But it did seem to decide her, for she licked it a moment, then lying down she gathered them all in her four-legged embrace, turned her chin up in the air and Sappy announced gleefully that "The little Squirrels were feeding with the little Cats."

The boys waited a while longer, then having made sure that the little Squirrels had been lovingly adopted by their natural enemy, they went quietly back to camp. Now they found a daily pleasure in watching the mixed family.

And here it may be as well to give the rest of the story. The old gray Cat faithfully and lovingly nursed those foundlings. They seemed to prosper, and Yan, recalling that he had heard of a Cat actually raising a brood of Rabbits, looked forward to the day when Kittens and Squirrelets should romp together in the sun. After a week Sappy maintained that only one Squirrel appeared at the breakfast table, and in ten days none. Yan stole over to the log and learned the truth. All four were dead in the bottom of the nest. There was nothing to tell why. The old Cat had done her best—had been all love and tenderness, but evidently had not been able to carry out her motherly intentions.



The days went merrily now, beginning each morning with a hunting of the Woodchuck. The boys were on terms of friendship with the woods that contrasted strongly with the feelings of that first night.

This was the thought in Sam's mind when he one day remarked, "Say, Yan, do you remember the night I slep' with the axe an' you with the hatchet?"

The Indians had learned to meet and conquer all the petty annoyances of camp life, and so forgot them. Their daily routine was simplified. Their acquaintance with woodfolk and wood-ways had grown so fast that now they were truly at home. The ringing "KowKowKow" in the tree-tops was no longer a mere wandering voice, but the summer song of the Black-billed Cuckoo. The loud, rattling, birdy whistle in the low trees during dull weather Yan had traced to the Tree-frog.

The long-drawn "Pee—re-e-e-e" of hot afternoons was the call of the Wood-peewee, and a vast number of mysterious squeaks and warbles had been traced home to the ever-bright and mischievous Blue Jay.

The nesting season was now over, as well as the song season; the birds, therefore, were less to be seen, but the drying of the streams had concentrated much life in the swimming-pond. The fence had been arranged so that the cattle could reach one end of it to drink, but the lower parts were safe from their clumsy feet, and wild life of many kinds were there in abundance.

The Muskrats were to be seen every evening in the calm pool, and fish in great numbers were in the deeper parts. Though they were small, the boys found them so numerous and so ready to bite that fishing was great sport, and more than one good meal they had from that pond. There were things of interest discovered daily. In a neighbour's field Sam had found another Woodchuck with a "price on his head." Rabbits began to come about the camp at night, especially when the moon was bright, and frequently of late they had heard a querulous, yelping bark that Caleb said was made by a Fox "probably that old rascal that lives in Callahan's woods."

The gray Cat in the log was always interesting. The boys went very regularly to watch from a distance, but for good reasons did not go near. First, they did not wish to scare her; second, they knew that if they went too close she would not hesitate to attack them.

One of the important lessons that Yan learned was this. In the woods the silent watcher sees the most. The great difficulty in watching was how to pass the time, and the solution was to sit and sketch. Reading would have done had books been at hand, but not so well as sketching, because then the eyes are fixed on the book instead of the woods, and the turning of the white pages is apt to alarm the shy woodfolk.

Thus Yan put in many hours making drawings of things about the edge of the pond.

As he sat one day in stillness a Minnow leaped from the water and caught a Fly. Almost immediately a Kingfisher that had been shooting past stopped in air, hovered, and darting downward, came up with a Minnow in his beak, flew to a branch to swallow its prey, but no sooner got there when a Chicken-hawk flashed out of a thick tree, struck the Kingfisher with both feet and bore him downward to the bank—in a moment would have killed him, but a long, brown creature rushed from a hole in the bank and sprang on the struggling pair, to change the scene in a twinkling. The three stragglers separated, the Hawk to the left, the Kingfisher to the right, the Minnow flopped back into the pool, and the Mink was left on the shore with a mouthful of feathers and looking very foolish. As it stood shaking the down from its nose another animal came gliding down through the shrubbery to the shore—the old gray Cat. The Mink wrinkled up his nose, showed two rows of sharp teeth and snarled in a furious manner, but backed off under a lot of roots. The Cat laid down her ears; the fur on her back and tail stood up; she crouched a little, her eyes blazing and the end of her tail twitching, and she answered the snarling of the Mink with a low growl. The Mink was evidently threatening "sudden death" to the Cat, and Pussy evidently was not much impressed. The Mink retreated farther under the roots till nothing but the green glowing of his eyes was to be seen, and the Cat, coming forward, walked calmly by his hiding-place and went about her business. The snarling under the root died away, and as soon as his enemy was gone the Mink dived into the water and was lost to view.

These two animals had a second meeting, as Yan had the luck to witness from his watching-place. He had heard the "plop" of a deft plunge, and looked in time only to see the spreading rings near the shore. Then the water was ruffled far up in the pond. A brown spot showed and was gone. A second appeared, to vanish as the first had done. Later, a Muskrat crawled out on the shore, waddled along for twenty feet, then, plunging in, swam below, came up at the other bank, and crawled under a lot of overhanging roots. A minute later the Mink appeared, his hair all plastered close till he looked like a four-legged Snake. He landed where the Muskrat had come out, followed the trail so that it was lost, then galloped up and down the shore, plunged in, swam across, and beat about the other shore. At last he struck the trail and followed. Under the root there were sounds of a struggle, the snarling of the mink, and in two or three minutes he appeared dragging out the body of the Muskrat. He sucked its blood and was eating the brains when again the gray Cat came prowling up the edge of the pond and, not ten feet off, stood face to face with the Mink, as she had done before.

The Water Weasel saw his enemy but made no attempt to escape from her. He stood with forepaws on his victim and snarling a warning and defiance to the Cat. Pussy, after glaring for a few seconds, leaped lightly to the high bank, passed above the Mink, then farther on leaped down, and resumed her journey up the shore.

Why should the Mink fear the Cat the first time, and the Cat the Mink the second? Yan believed that ordinarily the Cat could "lick," but that now the Mink had right on his side; he was defending his property, and the Cat, knowing that, avoided a quarrel; whereas the same Cat would have faced a thousand Mink in defense of her Kittens.

These two scenes did not happen the same day, but are told together because Yan always told them together afterward to show that the animals understand something of right and wrong.

But later Yan had another experience with the Muskrats. He and Sam were smoothing out the lower album for the night, when a long stream of water came briskly down the middle of the creek bed, which had been dry for more than a week.

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