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UNCLE JOHN SMITH.
 
 
 
 Many of the men of the border were blunt in manners, rude in speech,
 driven to the absolute liberty of the far West with better natures
 shattered and hopes blasted, to seek in the exciting life of the
 plainsman and mountaineer oblivion of some incidents of their youthful
 days, which were better forgotten.  Yet these aliens from society,
 these strangers to the refinements of civilization, who would tear off
 a bloody scalp even with grim smiles of satisfaction, were fine
 fellows, full of the milk of human kindness, and would share their
 last slapjack with a hungry stranger.
 
 Uncle John Smith, as he was known to every trapper, trader, and
 hunter from the Yellowstone to the Gila, was one of the most famous
 and eccentric men of the early days.  In 1826, as a boy, he ran away
 from St. Louis with a party of Santa Fe traders, and so fascinated
 was he with the desultory and exciting life, that he chose to sit
 cross-legged, smoking the long Indian pipe, in the comfortable
 buffalo-skin teepee, rather than cross legs on the broad table of
 his master, a tailor to whom he had been apprenticed when he took
 French leave from St. Louis.
 
 He spent his first winter with the Blackfeet Indians, but came very
 near losing his scalp in their continual quarrels, and therefore
 allied himself with the more peaceable Sioux.  Once while on the
 trail of a horse-stealing band of Arapahoes near the head waters
 of the Arkansas, the susceptible young hunter fell in love with
 a very pretty Cheyenne squaw, married her, and remained true to the
 object of his early affection during all his long and eventful life,
 extending over a period of forty years.  For many decades he lived
 with his dusky wife as the Indians did, having been adopted by the
 tribe.  He owned a large number of horses, which constituted the
 wealth of the plains Indians, upon the sale of which he depended
 almost entirely for his subsistence.  He became very powerful in the
 Cheyenne nation; was regarded as a chief, taking an active part in
 the councils, and exercising much authority.  His excellent judgment
 as a trader with the various bands of Indians while he was employed
 by the great fur companies made his services invaluable in the
 strange business complications of the remote border.  Besides
 understanding the Cheyenne language as well as his native tongue,
 he also spoke three other Indian dialects, French, and Spanish, but
 with many Western expressions that sometimes grated harshly upon
 the grammatical ear.
 
 He became a sort of autocrat on the plains and in the mountains; and
 for an Indian or Mexican to attempt to effect a trade without Uncle
 John Smith having something to say about it, and its conditions, was
 hardly possible.  The New Mexicans often came in small parties to his
 Indian village, their burros packed with dry pumpkin, corn, etc.,
 to trade for buffalo-robes, bearskins, meat, and ponies; and Smith,
 who knew his power, exacted tribute, which was always paid.  At one
 time, however, when for some reason a party of strange Mexicans
 refused, Uncle John harangued the people of the village, and called
 the young warriors together, who emptied every sack of goods belonging
 to the cowering Mexicans on the ground, Smith ordering the women and
 children to help themselves, an order which was obeyed with alacrity.
 The frightened Mexicans left hurriedly for El Valle de Taos, whence
 they had come, crossing themselves and uttering thanks to Heaven for
 having retained their scalps.  This and other similar cases so
 intimidated the poor Greasers, and impressed them so deeply with
 a sense of Smith's power, that, ever after, his permission to trade
 was craved by a special deputation of the parties, accompanied by
 peace-offerings of corn, pumpkin, and pinole.  At one time, when
 Smith was journeying by himself a day's ride from the Cheyenne village,
 he was met by a party of forty or more corn traders, who, instead of
 putting such a bane to their prospects speedily out of the way,
 gravely asked him if they could proceed, and offered him every third
 robe they had to accompany them, which he did.  Indeed, he became so
 regardless of justice, in his condescension to the natives of
 New Mexico, that the governor of that province offered a reward of
 five hundred dollars for him alive or dead, but fear of the Cheyennes
 was so prevalent that his capture was never even attempted.
 
 During Sheridan's memorable winter campaign against the allied tribes
 in 1868-69, the old man, for he was then about sixty, was my guide
 and interpreter.  He shared my tent and mess, a most welcome addition
 to the few who sat at my table, and beguiled many a weary hour at
 night, after our tedious marches through the apparently interminable
 sand dunes and barren stretches of our monotonous route, with his
 tales of that period, more than half a century ago, when our
 mid-continent region was as little known as the topography of the
 planet Mars.
 
 At the close of December, 1868, a few weeks after the battle of the
 Washita, I was camping with my command on the bank of that historic
 stream in the Indian Territory, waiting with an immense wagon-train
 of supplies for the arrival of General Custer's command, the famous
 Seventh Cavalry, and also the Nineteenth Kansas, which were supposed
 to be lost, or wandering aimlessly somewhere in the region south of us.
 
 I had been ordered to that point by General Sheridan, with instructions
 to keep fires constantly burning on three or four of the highest
 peaks in the vicinity of our camp, until the lost troops should be
 guided to the spot by our signals.  These signals were veritable
 pillars of fire by night and pillars of cloud by day; for there was
 an abundance of wood and hundreds of men ready to feed the hungry flames.
 
 It was more than two weeks before General Custer and his famished
 troopers began to straggle in.  During that period of anxious waiting
 we lived almost exclusively on wild turkey, and longed for nature's
 meat--the buffalo; but there were none of the shaggy beasts at that
 time in the vicinity, so we had to content ourselves with the birds,
 of which we became heartily tired.
 
 For several days after our arrival on the creek, the men had been
 urging Uncle John to tell them another story of his early adventures;
 but the old trapper was in one of his silent moods--he frequently had
 them--and could not be persuaded to emerge from his shell of reticence
 despite their most earnest entreaties.  I knew it would be of no use
 for me to press him.  I could, of course, order him to any duty, and
 he would promptly obey; but his tongue, like the hand of Douglas,
 was his own.  I knew, also, that when he got ready, which would be
 when some incident of camp-life inspired him, he would be as garrulous
 as ever.
 
 One evening just before supper, a party of enlisted men who had been
 up the creek to catch fish, but had failed to take anything owing to
 the frozen condition of the stream, returned with the skeleton of
 a Cheyenne Indian which they had picked up on the battle-ground of
 a month previously--one of Custer's victims in his engagement with
 Black Kettle.  This was the incentive Uncle John required.  As he
 gazed on the bleached bones of the warrior, he said: "Boys, I'm going
 to tell you a good long story to-night.  Them Ingin's bones has put
 me in mind of it.  After we've eat, if you fellows wants to hear it,
 come down to headquarters tent, and I'll give it to you."
 
 Of course word was rapidly passed from one to another, as the whole
 camp was eager to hear the old trapper again.  In a short time,
 every man not on guard or detailed to keep up the signals on the
 hills gathered around the dying embers of the cook's fire in front of
 my tent; the enlisted men and teamsters in groups by themselves,
 the officers a little closer in a circle, in the centre of which
 Uncle John sat.
 
 The night was cold, the sky covered with great fleecy patches,
 through which the full moon, just fairly risen, appeared to be racing,
 under the effect of that optical illusion caused by the rapidly
 moving clouds.  The coyotes had commenced their nocturnal concert
 in the timbered recesses of the creek not far away, and on the
 battle-field a short distance beyond, as they battened and fought
 over the dead warriors and the carcasses of twelve hundred ponies
 killed in that terrible slaughter by the intrepid Custer and his
 troopers.  The signals on the hills leaped into the crisp air like
 the tongues of dragons in the myths of the ancients; in fact,
 the whole aspect of the place, as we sat around the blazing logs of
 our camp-fire, was weird and uncanny.
 
 Every one was eager for the veteran guide to begin his tale; but as
 I knew he could not proceed without smoking, I passed him my pouch
 of Lone Jack--the brand par excellence in the army at that time.
 
 Uncle John loaded his corn-cob, picked up a live coal, and, pressing
 it down on the tobacco with his thumb, commenced to puff vigorously.
 As soon as his withered old face was half hidden in a cloud of smoke,
 he opened his story in his stereotyped way.  I relate it just as he
 told it, but divested of much of its dialect, so difficult to write:--
 
 "Well, boys, it's a good many years ago, in June, 1845, if I don't
 disremember.  I was about forty-three, and had been in the mountains
 and on the plains more than nineteen seasons.  You see, I went out
 there in 1826.  There warn't no roads, nuthin' but the Santa Fe Trail,
 in them days, and Ingins and varmints.
 
 "There was four of us.  Me, Bill Comstock, Dick Curtis, and Al Thorpe.
 Dick was took in by the Utes two years afterwards at the foot of the
 Spanish Peaks, and Al was killed by the Apaches at Pawnee Rock, in 1847.
 
 "We'd been trapping up on Medicine Bow for more than three years
 together, and had a pile of beaver, otter, mink, and other varmint's
 skins cached in the hills, which we know'd was worth a heap of money;
 so we concluded to take them to the river that summer.  We started
 from our trapping camp in April, and 'long 'bout the middle of June
 reached the Arkansas, near what is know'd as Point o' Rocks.  You all
 know where them is on the Trail west of Fort Dodge, and how them
 rocks rises up out of the prairie sudden-like.  We was a travelling
 'long mighty easy, for we was all afoot, and had hoofed it the whole
 distance, more than six hundred miles, driving five good mules ahead
 of us.  Our furs was packed on four of them, and the other carried
 our blankets, extry ammunition, frying-pan, coffee-pot, and what
 little grub we had, for we was obliged to depend upon buffalo,
 antelope, and jack-rabbits; but, boys, I tell you there was millions
 of 'em in them days.
 
 "We had just got into camp at Point o' Rocks.  It was 'bout four
 o'clock in the afternoon; none of us carried watches, we always
 reckoned time by the sun, and could generally guess mighty close, too.
 It was powerful hot, I remember.  We'd hobbled our mules close to the
 ledge, where the grass was good, so they couldn't be stampeded, as
 we know'd we was in the Pawnee country, and they was the most ornery
 Ingins on the plains.  We know'd nothing that was white ever came by
 that part of the Trail without having a scrimmage with the red devils.
 
 "Well, we hadn't more than took our dinner, when them mules give
 a terrible snort, and tried to break and run, getting awful oneasy
 all to once.  Them critters can tell when Ingins is around.  They's
 better than a dozen dogs.  I don't know how they can tell, but they
 just naturally do.
 
 "In less than five minutes after them mules began to worry, stopped
 eating, and had their ears pricked up a trying to look over the ledge
 towards the river, we heard a sharp firing down on the Trail, which
 didn't appear to be more than a hundred yards off.  You ought to seen
 us grab our rifles sudden, and run out from behind them rocks, where
 we was a camping, so comfortable-like, and just going to light our
 pipes for a good smoke.  It didn't take us no time to get down on to
 the Trail, where we seen a Mexican bull train, that we know'd must
 have come from Santa Fe, and which had stopped and was trying to corral.
 More than sixty painted Pawnees was a circling around the outfit,
 howling as only them can howl, and pouring a shower of arrows into
 the oxen.  Some was shaking their buffalo-robes, trying to stampede
 the critters, so they could kill the men easier.
 
 "We lit out mighty lively, soon as we seen what was going on, and
 reached the head of the train just as the last wagon, that was
 furtherest down the Trail, nigh a quarter of a mile off, was cut out
 by part of the band.  Then we seen a man, a woman, and a little boy
 jump out, and run to get shet of the Ingins what had cut out the
 wagon from the rest of the train.  One of the red devils killed the
 man and scalped him, while the other pulled the woman up in front
 of him, and rid off into the sand hills, and out of sight in a minute.
 Then the one what had killed her husband started for the boy, who was
 a running for the train as fast as his little legs could go.  But we
 was nigh enough then; and just as the Ingin was reaching down from
 his pony for the kid, Al Thorpe--he was a powerful fine shot--draw'd up
 his gun and took the red cuss off his critter without the paint-bedaubed
 devil know'n' what struck him.
 
 "The boy, seeing us, broke and run for where we was, and I reckon
 the rest of the Ingins seen us then for the first time, too.  We was
 up with the train now, which was kind o' halfway corralled, and
 Dick Curtis picked up the child--he warn't more than seven years old--
 and throw'd him gently into one of the wagons, where he'd be out of
 the way; for we know'd there was going to be considerable more
 fighting before night.  We know'd, too, we Americans would have to do
 the heft of it, as them Mexican bull-whackers warn't much account,
 nohow, except to cavort around and swear in Spanish, which they
 hadn't done nothing else since we'd come up to the train; besides,
 their miserable guns warn't much better than so many bows and arrows.
 
 "We Americans talked together for a few moments as to what was best
 to be did, while the Ingins all this time was keeping up a lively
 fire for them.  We made as strong a corral of the wagons as we could,
 driving out what oxen the Mexicans had put in the one they had made,
 but you can't do much with only nine wagons, nohow.  Fortunately,
 while we was fixing things, the red cusses suddenly retreated out of
 the range of our rifles, and we first thought they had cleared out
 for good.  We soon discovered, however, they were only holding a
 pow-wow; for in a few minutes back they come, mounted on their ponies,
 with all their fixin's and fresh war-paint on.
 
 "Then they commenced to circle around us again, coming a little
 nearer--Ingin fashion--every time they rid off and back.  It wasn't
 long before they got in easy range, when they slung themselves on
 the off-side of their ponies and let fly their arrows and balls from
 under their critters' necks.  Their guns warn't much 'count, being
 only old English muskets what had come from the Hudson Bay Fur Company,
 so they didn't do no harm that round, except to scare the Mexicans,
 which commenced to cross themselves and pray and swear.
 
 "We four Americans warn't idle when them Ingins come a charging up;
 we kept our eye skinned, and whenever we could draw a bead, one of
 them tumbled off his pony, you bet!  When they'd come back for their
 dead--we'd already killed three of them--we had a big advantage, wasted
 no shots, and dropped four of them; one apiece, and you never heard
 Ingins howl so.  It was getting kind o' dark by this time, and the
 varmints didn't seem anxious to fight any more, but went down to the
 river and scooted off into the sand hills on the other side.
 We waited more than half an hour for them, but as they didn't come
 back, concluded we'd better light out too.  We told the Mexicans to
 yoke up, and as good luck would have it they found all the cattle
 close by, excepting them what pulled the wagon what the Ingins had
 cut out, and as it was way down the Trail, we had to abandon it;
 for it was too dark to hunt it up, as we had no time to fool away.
 
 "We put all our outfit into the train; it wasn't loaded, but going
 empty to the Missouri, to fetch back a sawmill for New Mexico.
 Then we made a soft bed in the middle wagon out of blankets for the
 kid, and rolled out 'bout ten o'clock, meaning to put as many miles
 between us and them Ingins as the oxen could stand.  We four hoofed it
 along for a while, then rid a piece, catching a nap now and then as
 best we could, for we was monstrous tired.  By daylight we'd made
 fourteen miles, and was obliged to stop to let the cattle graze.
 We boiled our coffee, fried some meat, and by that time the little
 boy waked.  He'd slept like a top all night and hadn't no supper
 either; so when I went to the wagon where he was to fetch him out,
 he just put them baby arms of his'n around my neck, and says,
 'Where's mamma?'
 
 "I tell you, boys, that nigh played me out.  He had no idee, 'cause
 he was too young to realize what had happened; we know'd his pa was
 killed, but where his ma was, God only know'd!"
 
 Here the old man stopped short in his narrative, made two or three
 efforts as if to swallow something that would not go down, while his
 eyes had a far-away look.  Presently he picked up a fresh coal from
 the fire, placed it on his pipe, which had gone out, then puffing
 vigorously for a few seconds, until his head was again enveloped in
 smoke, he continued:--
 
 "After I'd washed the little fellow's face and hands, I gave him a
 tin cup of coffee and some meat.  You'd ought to seen him eat; he was
 hungrier than a coyote.  Then while the others was a watering and
 picketing the mules, I sot down on the grass and took the kid into
 my lap to have a good look at him; for until now none of us had had
 a chance.
 
 "He was the purtiest child I'd ever seen; great black eyes, and
 eyelashes that laid right on to his cheeks; his hair, too, was black,
 and as curly as a young big-horn.  I asked him what his name was, and
 he says, 'Paul.'  'Hain't you got no other name?' says I to him again,
 and he answered, 'Yes, sir,' for he was awful polite; I noticed that.
 'Paul Dale,' says he prompt-like, and them big eyes of his'n looked
 up into mine, as he says 'What be yourn?'  I told him he must call me
 'Uncle John,' and then he says again, as he put his arms around my
 neck, his little lips all a quivering, and looking so sorrowful,
 'Uncle John, where's mamma; why don't she come?'
 
 "Boys, I don't really know what I did say.  A kind o' mist came
 before my eyes, and for a minute or two I didn't know nothing.
 I come to in a little while, and seeing Thorpe bringing up the mules
 from the river, where he'd been watering them, I says to Paul, to get
 his mind on to something else besides his mother, 'Don't you want to
 ride one of them mules when we pull out again?'  The little fellow
 jumped off my lap, clapped his hands, forgetting his trouble all at
 once, child-like, and replied, 'I do, Uncle John, can I?'
 
 "After we'd camped there 'bout three hours, the cattle full of grass
 and all laying down chewing their cud, we concluded to move on and
 make a few miles before it grow'd too hot, and to get further from
 the Ingins, which we expected would tackle us again, as soon as they
 could get back from their camp, where we felt sure they had gone for
 reinforcements.
 
 "While the Mexicans was yoking up, me and Thorpe rigged an easy
 saddle on one of the mules, out of blankets, for the kid to ride on,
 and when we was all ready to pull out, I histed him on, and you never
 see a youngster so tickled.
 
 "We had to travel mighty slow; couldn't make more than eighteen miles
 a day with oxen, and that was in two drives, one early in the morning,
 and one in the evening when it was cool, a laying by and grazing when
 it was hot.  We Americans walked along the Trail, and mighty slow
 walking it was; 'bout two and a half miles an hour.  I kept close
 to Paul, for I began to set a good deal of store by him; he seemed
 to cotton to me more than he did to the rest, wanting to stick near
 me most of the time as he rid on the mule.  I wanted to find out
 something 'bout his folks, where they'd come from; so that when we
 got to Independence, perhaps I could turn him over to them as ought
 to have him; though in my own mind I was ornery enough to wish I
 might never find them, and he'd be obliged to stay with me.  The boy
 was too young to tell what I wanted to find out; all I could get out
 of him was they'd been living in Santa Fe since he was a baby, and
 that his papa was a preacher.  I 'spect one of them missionaries
 'mong the heathenish Greasers.  He said they was going back to his
 grandma's in the States, but he could not tell where.  I couldn't
 get nothing out of them Mexican bull-whackers neither--what they
 know'd wasn't half as much as the kid--and I had to give it up.
 
 "Well, we kept moving along without having any more trouble for
 a week; them Ingins never following us as we 'lowed they would.
 I really enjoyed the trip such as I never had before.  Paul he was
 so 'fectionate and smart, that he 'peared to fill a spot in my heart
 what had always been hollow until then.  When he'd got tired of
 riding the mule or in one of the wagons, he'd come and walk along
 the Trail with me, a picking flowers, chasing the prairie-owls and
 such, until his little legs 'bout played out, when I'd hist him on
 his mule again.  When we'd go into camp, Paul, he'd run and pick up
 buffalo-chips for the fire, and wanted to help all he could.
 Then when it came time to go to sleep, the boy would always get under
 my blankets and cuddle up close to me.  He'd be sure to say his
 prayers first, though; but it seemed so strange to me who hadn't
 heard a prayer for thirty years.  I never tried to stop him, you may
 be certain of that.  He'd ask God to bless his pa and ma, and wind up
 with 'Bless Uncle John too.'  Then I couldn't help hugging him right
 up tighter; for it carried me back to Old Missouri, to the log-cabin
 in the woods where I was born, and used to say 'Now I lay me,' and
 'Our Father' at my ma's knee, when I was a kid like him.  I tell you,
 boys, there ain't nothing that will take the conceit out of a man
 here on the plains, like the company of a kid what has been
 brought up right.
 
 "I reckon we'd been travelling about ten days since we left Point o'
 Rocks, and was on the other side of the Big Bend of the Arkansas,
 near the mouth of the Walnut, where Fort Zarah is now.  We had went
 into camp at sundown, close to a big spring that's there yet.
 We drawed up the wagons into a corral on the edge of the river where
 there wasn't no grass for quite a long stretch; we done this to kind
 o' fortify ourselves, for we expected to have trouble with the Ingins
 there, if anywhere, as we warn't but seventeen miles from Pawnee Rock,
 the worst place on the whole Trail for them; so we picked out that
 bare spot where they couldn't set fire to the prairie.  It was long
 after dark when we eat our supper; then we smoked our pipes, waiting
 for the oxen to fill themselves, which had been driven about a mile
 off where there was good grass.  The Mexicans was herding them, and
 when they'd eat all they could hold, and was commencing to lay down,
 they was driven into the corral.  Then all of us, except Comstock and
 Curtis, turned in; they was to stand guard until 'bout one o'clock,
 when me and Thorpe was to change places with them and stay up until
 morning; for, you see, we was afraid to trust them Mexicans.
 
 "It seemed like we hadn't been asleep more than an hour when me and
 Thorpe was called to take our turn on guard.  We got out of our
 blankets, I putting Paul into one of the wagons, then me and Thorpe
 lighted our pipes and walked around, keeping our eyes and ears open,
 watching the heavy fringe of timber on the creek mighty close, I tell
 you.  Just as daylight was coming, we noticed that our mules, what
 was tied to a wagon in the corral, was getting uneasy, a pawing and
 snorting, with their long ears cocked up and looking toward the Walnut.
 Before I could finish saying to Thorpe, 'Them mules smells Ingins,'
 half a dozen or more of the darned cusses dashed out of the timber,
 yelling and shaking their robes, which, of course, waked up the whole
 camp.  Me and Thorpe sent a couple of shots after them, that scattered
 the devils for a minute; but we hadn't hit nary one, because it was
 too dark yet to draw a bead on them.  We was certain there was a good
 many more of them behind the first that had charged us; so we got all
 the men on the side of the corral next to the Trail.  The Ingins we
 know'd couldn't get behind us, on account of the river, and we was
 bound to make them fight where we wanted them to, if they meant to
 fight at all.
 
 "In less than a minute, quicker than I can tell you, sure enough,
 out they came again, only there was 'bout eighty of them this time.
 They made a dash at once, and their arrows fell like a shower of hail
 on the ground and against the wagon-sheets as the cusses swept by on
 their ponies.  There wasn't anybody hurt, and our turn soon came.
 Just as they circled back, we poured it into them, killing six and
 wounding two.  You see them Mexican guns had did some work that we
 didn't expect, and then we Americans felt better.  Well, boys,
 them varmints made four charges like that on to us before we could
 get shet of them; but we killed as many as sixteen or eighteen, and
 they got mighty sick of it and quit; they had only knocked over one
 Mexican, and put an arrow into Thorpe's arm.
 
 "I was amused at little Paul all the time the scrimmage was going on.
 He stood up in the wagon where I'd put him, a looking out of the hole
 behind where the sheet was drawed together, and every time an Ingin
 was tumbled off his pony, he would clap his hands and yell, 'There
 goes another one, Uncle John!'
 
 "After their last charge, they rode off out of range, where they
 stood in little bunches talking to each other, holding some sort of
 a pow-wow.  It riled us to see the darned cusses keep so far away
 from our rifles, because we wanted to lay a few more of them out, but
 was obliged to keep still and watch out for some new deviltry.
 We waited there until it was plumb night, not daring to move out yet;
 but we managed to boil our coffee and fry slap-jacks and meat.
 
 "The oxen kept up a bellowing and pawing around the corral, for they
 was desperate hungry and thirsty, hadn't had nothing since the night
 before; yet we couldn't help them any, as we didn't know whether we
 was shet of the Ingins or not.  We staid, patient-like, for two or
 three hours more after dark to see what the Ingins was going to do,
 as while we sot round our little fire of buffalo-chips, smoking our
 pipes, we could still hear the red devils a howling and chanting,
 while they picked up their dead laying along the river-bottom.
 
 "As soon as morning broke--we'd ketched a nap now and then during
 the night--we got ready for another charge of the Ingins, their
 favourite time being just 'bout daylight; but there warn't hide or
 hair of an Ingin in sight.  They'd sneaked off in the darkness long
 before the first streak of dawn; had enough of fighting, I expect.
 As soon as we discovered they'd all cleared out, we told the drivers
 to hitch up, and while they was yoking and watering, me 'n' Curtis
 and Comstock buried the dead Mexican on the bank of the river, as we
 didn't want to leave his bones to be picked by the coyotes, which
 was already setting on the sand hills watching and waiting for us
 to break camp.  By the time we'd finished our job, and piled some
 rocks on his grave, so as the varmints couldn't dig him up, the train
 was strung out on the Trail, and then we rolled out mighty lively
 for oxen; for the critters was hungry, and we had to travel three
 or four miles the other side of the Walnut, where the grass was green,
 before they could feed.  The oxen seen it on the hills and they
 lit out almost at a trot.  It was 'bout sun-up when we got there,
 when we turned the animals loose, corralled, and had breakfast.
 
 "After we'd had our smoke, all we had to do was to put in the time
 until five o'clock; for we couldn't move before then, as it would be
 too hot by the time the oxen got filled.  Paul and me went down to
 the creek fishing; there was tremendous cat in the Walnut them days,
 and by noon we'd ketched five big beauties, which we took to camp and
 cooked for dinner.  After I'd had my smoke, Paul and me went back to
 the creek, where we stretched ourselves under a good-sized box-elder
 tree--there wasn't no shade nowhere else--and took a sleep, while
 Comstock and Curtis went jack-rabbit hunting across the river, as we
 was getting scarce of meat.
 
 "Thorpe, who was hit in the arm with an arrow, couldn't do much but
 nuss his wound; so him and the Mexicans stood guard, a looking out
 for Ingins, as we didn't know but what the cusses might come back and
 make another raid on us, though we really didn't expect they would
 have the gall to bother us any more--least not the same outfit what
 had fought us the day before.  That evening, 'bout six o'clock,
 we rolled out again and went into camp late, having made twelve miles,
 and didn't see a sign of Ingins.
 
 "In ten days more we got to Independence without having no more
 trouble of no kind, and was surprised at our luck.  At Independence
 we Americans left the train, sold our furs, got a big price, too--
 each of us had a shot-bag full of gold and silver, more money than
 we know'd what to do with.  Me, Curtis, and Thorpe concluded we'd buy
 a new outfit, consisting of another six-mule wagon, and harness,
 so we'd have a full team, meaning to go back to the mountains with
 the first big caravan what left.
 
 "All the folks in the settlement what seen Paul took a great fancy
 to him.  Some wanted to adopt him, and some said I'd ought to take
 him to St. Louis and place him in an orphan asylum; but I 'lowed if
 there was going to be any adopting done, I'd do it myself, 'cause
 the kid seemed now just as if he was my own; besides the little
 fellow I know'd loved me and didn't want me to leave him.  I had
 kin-folks in Independence, an old aunt, and me and Paul staid there.
 She had a young gal with her, and she learned Paul out of books;
 so he picked up considerable, as we had to wait more than two months
 before Colonel St. Vrain's caravan was ready to start for New Mexico.
 
 "I bought Paul a coal-black pony, and had a suit of fine buckskin
 made for him out of the pelt of a black-tail deer I'd shot the winter
 before on Powder River.  The seams of his trousers was heavily
 fringed, and with his white sombrero, a riding around town on his
 pony, he looked like one of them Spanish Dons what the papers
 nowadays has pictures of; only he was smarter-looking than any Don
 I ever see in my life.
 
 "It was 'bout the last of August when we pulled out from Independence.
 Comstock staid with us until we got ready to go, and then lit out
 for St. Louis, and I hain't never seen him since.  The caravan had
 seventy-five six-mule teams in it, without counting ours, loaded with
 dry-goods and groceries for Mora, New Mexico, where Colonel St. Vrain,
 the owner, lived and had a big store.  We had no trouble with the
 Ingins going back across the plains; we seen lots, to be sure,
 hanging on our trail, but they never attacked us; we was too strong
 for them.
 
 "'Bout the last of September we reached Bent's Old Fort, on the
 Arkansas, where the Santa Fe Trail crosses the river into New Mexico,
 and we camped there the night we got to it.
 
 "I know'd they had cows up to the fort; so just before we was ready
 for supper, I took Paul and started to see if we couldn't get some
 milk for our coffee.  It wasn't far, and we was camped a few hundred
 yards from the gate, just outside the wall.  Well, we went into the
 kitchen, Paul right alongside of me, and there I seen a white woman
 leaning over the adobe hearth a cooking--they had always only been
 squaws before.  She naturally looked up to find out who was coming in,
 and when she seen the kid, all at once she give a scream, dropped the
 dish-cloth she had in her hand, made a break for Paul, throw'd her
 arms around him, nigh upsetting me, and says, while she was a sobbing
 and taking on dreadful,--
 
 "'My boy!  My boy!  Then I hain't prayed and begged the good Lord
 all these days and nights for nothing!'  Then she kind o' choked
 again, while Paul, he says, as he hung on to her,--
 
 "'O mamma!  O mamma!  I know'd you'd come back!  I know'd you'd
 come back!'
 
 "Well, there, boys, I just walked out of that kitchen a heap faster
 than I'd come into it, and shut the door.  When I got outside, for
 a few minutes I couldn't see nothing, I was worked up so.  As soon
 as I come to, I went through the gate down to camp as quick as my
 legs would carry me, to tell Thorpe and Curtis that Paul had found
 his ma.  They wanted to know all about it, but I couldn't tell them
 nothing, I was so dumfounded at the way things had turned out.
 We talked among ourselves a moment, then reckoned it was the best
 to go up to the fort together, and ask the woman how on earth she'd
 got shet of the Ingins what had took her off, and how it come she
 was cooking there.  We started out and when we got into the kitchen,
 there was Paul and Mrs. Dale, and you never see no people so happy.
 They was just as wild as a stampeded steer; she seemed to have growed
 ten years younger than when I first went up there, and as for Paul,
 he was in heaven for certain.
 
 "First we had to tell her how we'd got the kid, and how we'd learned
 to love him.  All the time we was telling of it, and our scrimmages
 with the Ingins, she was a crying and hugging Paul as if her heart
 was broke.  After we'd told all we know'd, we asked her to tell us
 her story, which she did, and it showed she was a woman of grit and
 education.
 
 "She said the Ingins what had captured her took her up to their camp
 on the Saw Log, a little creek north of Fort Dodge--you all know where
 it is--and there she staid that night.  Early in the morning they all
 started for the north.  She watched their ponies mighty close as
 they rid along that day, so as to find out which was the fastest;
 for she had made up her mind to make her escape the first chance
 she got.  She looked at the sun once in a while, to learn what course
 they was taking; so that she could go back when she got ready, strike
 the Sante Fe Trail, and get to some ranch, as she had seen several
 while passing through the foot-hills of the Raton Range when she was
 with the Mexican train.
 
 "It was on the night of the fourth day after they had left Saw Log,
 and had rid a long distance--was more than a hundred miles on their
 journey--when she determined to try and light out.  The whole camp
 was fast asleep, for the Ingins was monstrous tired.  She crawled
 out of the lodge where she'd been put with some old squaws, and
 going to where the ponies had been picketed, she took a little
 iron-gray she'd had her eye on, jumped on his back, with only the
 lariat for a bridle and without any saddle, not even a blanket,
 took her bearings from the north star, and cautiously moved out.
 She started on a walk, until she'd got 'bout four miles from camp,
 and then struck a lope, keeping it up all night.  By next morning
 she'd made some forty miles, and then for the first time since she'd
 left her lodge, pulled up and looked back, to see if any of the Ingins
 was following her.  When she seen there wasn't a living thing in sight,
 she got off her pony, watered him out of a small branch, took a drink
 herself, but not daring to rest yet, mounted her animal again and
 rid on as fast as she could without wearing him out too quickly.
 
 "Hour after hour she rid on, the pony appearing to have miraculous
 endurance, until sundown.  By that time she'd crossed the Saline,
 the Smoky Hill, and got to the top of the divide between that river
 and the Arkansas, or not more than forty miles from the Santa Fe Trail.
 Then her wonderful animal seemed to weaken; she couldn't even make
 him trot, and she was so nearly played out herself, she could hardly
 set steady.  What to do, she didn't know.  The pony was barely able
 to move at a slow walk.  She was afraid he would drop dead under her,
 and she was compelled to dismount, and in almost a minute, as soon
 as she laid down on the prairie, was fast asleep.
 
 "She had no idee how long she had slept when she woke up.  The sun was
 only 'bout two hours high.  Then she know'd she had been unconscious
 since sundown of the day before, or nigh twenty-four hours.  Rubbing
 her eyes, for she was kind o' bewildered, and looking around, there
 she saw her pony as fresh, seemingly, as when she'd started.
 He'd had plenty to eat, for the grass was good, but she'd had nothing.
 She pulled a little piece of dried buffalo-meat out of her bosom,
 which she'd brought along, all she could find at the lodge, and now
 nibbled at that, for she was mighty hungry.  She was terribly sore
 and stiff too, but she mounted at once and pushed on, loping and
 walking him by spells.  Just at daylight she could make out the
 Arkansas right in front of her in the dim gray of the early morning,
 not very far off.  On the west, the Raton Mountains loomed up like
 a great pile of blue clouds, the sight of which cheered her; for she
 know'd she would soon reach the Trail.
 
 "It wasn't quite noon when she struck the Santa Fe Trail.  When she
 got there, looking to the east, she saw in the distance, not more
 than three miles away, a large caravan coming, and then, almost wild
 with delight, she dismounted, sot down on the grass, and waited for
 it to arrive.  In less than an hour, the train come up to where she
 was, and as good luck would have it, it happened to be an American
 outfit, going to Taos with merchandise.  As soon as the master of
 the caravan seen her setting on the prairie, he rid up ahead of the
 wagons, and she told him her story.  He was a kind-hearted man;
 had the train stop right there on the bank of the river, though he
 wasn't half through his day's drive, so as to make her comfortable
 as possible, and give her something to eat; for she was 'bout
 played out.  He bought the Ingin pony, giving her thirty dollars
 for it, and after she had rested for some time, the caravan moved out.
 She rid in one of the wagons, on a bed of blankets, and the next
 evening arrived at Bent's Old Fort.  There she found women-folks,
 who cared for her and nussed her; for she was dreadfully sore and
 tired after her long ride.  Then she was hired to cook, meaning to
 work until she'd earned enough to take her back to Pennsylvany,
 to her mother's, where she had started for when the Ingins attackted
 the train.
 
 "That night, after listening to her mirac'lous escape, we made up
 a 'pot' for her, collecting 'bout eight hundred dollars.  The master
 of Colonel St. Vrain's caravan, what had come out with us, told her
 he was going back again to the river in a couple of weeks, and he'd
 take her and Paul in without costing her a cent; besides, she'd be
 safer than with any other outfit, as his train was a big one, and
 he had all American teamsters.
 
 "Next morning the caravan went on to Mora, and after we'd bid good-by
 to Mrs. Dale and Paul, before which I give the boy two hundred dollars
 for himself, me, Thorpe, and Curtis pulled out with our team north
 for Frenchman's Creek, and I never felt so miserable before nor since
 as I did parting with the kid that morning.  I hain't never seen him
 since; but he must be nigh forty now.  Mebby he went into the war and
 was killed; mebby he got to be a general, but I hain't forgot him."
 
 Uncle John knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and without saying
 another word went into the tent.  In a few moments the camp was as
 quiet as a country village on Sunday, excepting the occasional howling
 of a hungry wolf down in the timbered recesses of the Washita, or the
 crackling and sputtering of the signal fires on the hilltops.
 
 In a few days afterward, we were camping on Hackberry Creek, in the
 Indian Territory.  We had been living on wild turkey, as before for
 some time, and still longed for a change.  At last one of my hunters
 succeeded in bagging a dozen or more quails.  Late that evening,
 when my cook brought the delicious little birds, beautifully spitted
 and broiled on peeled willow twigs, into my tent, I passed one to
 Uncle John.  Much to the surprise of every one, he refused.  He said,
 "Boys, I don't eat no quail!"
 
 We looked at him in astonishment; for he was somewhat of a gourmand,
 and prided himself upon the "faculty," as he termed it, of being able
 to eat anything, from a piece of jerked buffalo-hide to the juiciest
 young antelope steak.
 
 I remonstrated with the venerable guide; said to him, "You are making
 a terrible mistake, Uncle John.  Tomorrow I expect to leave here, and
 as we are going directly away from the buffalo country, we don't know
 when we shall strike fresh meat again.  You'd better try one," and
 I again proffered one of the birds.
 
 "Boys," said he again, "I don't tech quail; I hain't eat one for
 more than twenty years.  One of the little cusses saved my life once,
 and I swore right thar and then that I would starve first; and I have
 kept my oath, though I've seen the time mighty often sence I could
 a killed 'em with my quirt, when all I had to chaw on for four days
 was the soles of a greasy pair of old moccasins.
 
 "Well, boys, it's a good many years ago--in June, if I don't disremember,
 1847.  We was a coming in from way up in Cache le Poudre and from
 Yellowstone Lake, whar we'd been a trapping for two seasons.  We was
 a working our way slowly back to Independence, Missouri, where we was
 a going to get a new outfit.  Let's see, there was me, and a man by
 the name of Boyd, and Lew Thorp--Lew was a working for Colonel Boone
 at the time--and two more men, whose names I disremember now, and a
 nigger wench we had for a cook.  We had mighty good luck, and had
 a big pile of skins; and the Indians never troubled us till we got
 down on Pawnee Bottom, this side of Pawnee Rock.  We all of us had
 mighty good ponies, but Thorp had a team and wagon, which he was
 driving for Colonel Boone.
 
 "We had went into camp on Pawnee Bottom airly in the afternoon, and
 I told the boys to look out for Ingins--for I knowed ef we was to have
 any trouble with them it would be somewhere in that vicinity.  But we
 didn't see a darned redskin that night, nor the sign of one.
 
 "The wolves howled considerable, and come pretty close to the fire
 for the bacon rinds we'd throwed away after supper.
 
 "You see the buffalo was scurse right thar then--it was the wrong
 time o' year.  They generally don't get down on to the Arkansas
 till about September, and when they're scurse the wolves and coyotes
 are mighty sassy, and will steal a piece of bacon rind right out of
 the pan, if you don't watch 'em.  So we picketed our ponies a little
 closer before we turned in, and we all went to sleep except one,
 who sort o' kept watch on the stock.
 
 "I was out o' my blankets mighty airly next morning, for I was kind
 o' suspicious.  I could always tell when Ingins was prowling around,
 and I had a sort of present'ment something was going to happen
 --I didn't like the way the coyotes kept yelling--so I rested kind o'
 oneasy like, and was out among the ponies by the first streak o'
 daylight.
 
 "About the time I could see things, I discovered three or four
 buffalo grazing off on the creek bottom, about a half-mile away,
 and I started for my rifle, thinking I would examine her.
 
 "Pretty soon I seed Thorp and Boyd crawl out o' their blankets, too,
 and I called their attention to the buffalo, which was still feeding
 undisturbed.
 
 "We'd been kind o' scurse of fresh meat for a couple of weeks--ever
 since we left the Platte--except a jack-rabbit or cottontail, and I
 knowed the boys would be wanting to get a quarter or two of a good
 fat cow, if we could find one in the herd, so that was the reason
 I pointed 'em out to 'em.
 
 "The dew, you see, was mighty heavy, and the grass in the bottom
 was as wet as if it had been raining for a month, and I didn't care
 to go down whar the buffalo was just then--I knowed we had plenty
 of time, and as soon as the sun was up it would dry right off.  So I
 got on to one of the ponies and led the others down to the spring
 near camp to water them while the wench was a getting breakfast, and
 some o' the rest o' the outfit was a fixing the saddles and greasing
 the wagon.
 
 "Just as I was coming back--it had growed quite light then--I seed Boyd
 and Thorp start out from camp with their rifles and make for the
 buffalo; so I picketed the ponies, gets my rifle, and starts off too.
 
 "By the time I'd reached the edge of the bottom, Thorp and Boyd was
 a crawling up on to a young bull way off to the right, and I lit out
 for a fat cow I seen bunched up with the rest of the herd on the left.
 
 "The grass was mighty tall on some parts of the Arkansas bottom in them
 days, and I got within easy shooting range without the herd seeing me.
 
 "The buffalo was now between me and Thorp and Boyd, and they was
 furtherest from camp.  I could see them over the top of the grass
 kind o' edging up to the bull, and I kept a crawling on my hands and
 knees toward the cow, and when I got about a hundred and fifty yards
 of her, I pulled up my rifle and drawed a bead.
 
 "Just as I was running my eyes along the bar'l, a darned little quail
 flew right out from under my feet and lit exactly on my front sight
 and of course cut off my aim--we didn't shoot reckless in those days;
 every shot had to tell, or a man was the laughing-stock for a month
 if he missed his game.
 
 "I shook the little critter off and brought up my rifle again when,
 durn my skin, if the bird didn't light right on to the same place;
 at the same time my eyes grow'd kind o' hazy-like and in a minute
 I didn't know nothing.
 
 "When I come to, the quail was gone, I heerd a couple of rifle shots,
 and right in front of where the bull had stood and close to Thorp and
 Boyd, half a dozen Ingins jumped up out o' the tall grass and, firing
 into the two men, killed Thorp instantly and wounded Boyd.
 
 "He and me got to camp--keeping off the Ingins, who knowed I was loaded--
 when we, with the rest of the outfit, drove the red devils away.
 
 "They was Apaches, and the fellow that shot Thorp was a half-breed
 nigger and Apache.  He scalped Thorp and carred off the whole upper
 part of his skull with it.  He got Thorp's rifle and bullet-pouch too,
 and his knife.
 
 "We buried Thorp in the bottom there, and some of the party cut their
 names on the stones that they covered his body up with, to keep the
 coyotes from eating up his bones.
 
 "Boyd got on to the river with us all right, and I never heerd of him
 after we separated at Booneville.  We pulled out soon after the
 Indians left, but we didn't get no buffalo-meat.
 
 "You see, boys, if I'd a fired into that cow, the devils would a
 had me before I could a got a patch on my ball--didn't have no
 breech-loaders in them days, and it took as much judgment to know
 how to load a rifle properly as it did to shoot it.
 
 "Them Ingins knowed all that--they knowed I hadn't fired, so they
 kept a respectable distance.  I would a fired, but the quail saved
 my life by interfering with my sight--and that's the reason I don't
 eat no quail.  I hain't superstitious, but I don't believe they was
 meant to be eat."
 
 Uncle John stuck to his text, I believe, until he died, and you
 could never disabuse his mind of the idea that the quail lighting
 on his rifle was not a special interposition of Providence.
 
 Only four years after he told his story, in 1872, one of the newly
 established settlers, living a few miles west of Larned on Pawnee
 Bottom, having observed in one of his fields a singular depression,
 resembling an old grave, determined to dig down and see if there was
 any special cause for the strange indentation on his land.
 
 A couple of feet below the surface he discovered several flat pieces
 of stone, on one of which the words "Washington" and "J. Hildreth"
 were rudely cut, also a line separating them, and underneath:
 "December tenth" and "J. M., 1850."  On another was carved the name
 "J. H. Shell," with other characters that could not be deciphered.
 On a third stone were the initials "H. R., 1847"; underneath which
 was plainly cut "J. R. Boyd," and still beneath "J. R. Pring."
 At the very bottom of the excavation were found the lower portion
 of the skull, one or two ribs, and one of the bones of the leg of
 a human being.  The piece of skull was found near the centre of the
 grave, for such it certainly was.
 
 At the time of the discovery I was in Larned, and I immediately
 consulted my book of notes and memoranda taken hurriedly at intervals
 on the plains and in the mountains, during more than half my lifetime,
 to see if I could find anything that would solve the mystery attached
 to the quiet prairie-grave and its contents, and I then recalled
 Uncle John Smith's story of the quail as related to me at my camp.
 I also met Colonel A. G. Boone that winter in Washington; he remembered
 the circumstances well.  Thorp was working for him, as Smith had
 said, and was killed by an Apache, who, in scalping him, tore the
 half of his head away, and it was thus found mutilated, so
 many years afterward.
 
 Uncle John was in one of his garrulous moods that night, and as we
 were not by any means tired of hearing the veteran trapper talk,
 without much urging he told us the following tale:--
 
 "Well, boys, thirty years ago, beaver, mink, and otter was found in
 abundacious quantities on all the streams in the Rocky Mountains.
 The trade in them furs was a paying business, for the little army
 of us fellows called trappers.  They ain't any of 'em left now,
 no mor'n the animals we used to hunt.  We had to move about from
 place to place, just as if we was so many Ingins.  Sometimes we'd
 construct little cabins in the timber, or a dugout where the game
 was plenty, where we'd stay maybe for a month or two, and once in
 a while--though not often--a whole year.
 
 "The Ingins was our mortal enemies; they'd get a scalp from our
 fellows occasionally, but for every one they had of ours we had
 a dozen of theirs.
 
 "In the summer of 1846, there was a little half dugout, half cabin,
 opposite the mouth of Frenchman's Creek, put up by Bill Thorpe,
 Al Boyd, and Rube Stevens.  Bill and Al was men grown, and know'd
 more 'bout the prairies and timber than the Ingins themselves.
 They'd hired out to the Northwest Fur Company when they was mere kids,
 and kept on trapping ever since.  Rube--'Little Rube' as all the
 old men called him--was 'bout nineteen, and plumb dumb; he could hear
 well enough though, for he wasn't born that way.  When he was seventeen
 his father moved from his farm in Pennsylvany, to take up a claim
 in Oregon, and the whole family was compelled to cross the plains
 to get there; for there wasn't no other way.  While they was camped
 in the Bitter-Root valley one evening, just 'bout sundown, a party
 of Blackfeet surprised the outfit, and massacred all of them but Rube.
 They carried him off, kept him as a slave, and, to make sure of him,
 cut out his tongue at the roots.  But some of the women who wasn't
 quite so devilish as their husbands, and who took pity on him, went
 to work and cured him of his awful wound.  He was used mighty mean
 by the bucks of the tribe, and made up his mind to get away from them
 or kill himself; for he could not live under their harsh treatment.
 After he'd been with them for mor'n a year, the tribe had a terrible
 battle with the Sioux, and in the scrimmage Rube stole a pony and
 lit out.  He rode on night and day until he came across the cabin
 of the two trappers I have told you 'bout, and they, of course,
 took the poor boy in and cared for him.
 
 "Rube was a splendid shot with the rifle, and he swore to himself
 that he would never leave the prairies and do nothing for the rest
 of his life but kill Ingins, who had made him a homeless orphan,
 and so mutilated him.
 
 "After Rube had been with Boyd and Thorpe a year, they was all one
 day in the winter examining their traps which was scattered 'long
 the stream for miles.  After re-baiting them, they concluded to hunt
 for meat, which was getting scarce at the cabin; they let Rube go
 down to the creek where it widened out lake-like, to fish through
 a hole in the ice, and Al and Bill took their rifles and hunted in
 the timber for deer.  They all got separated of course, Rube being
 furtherest away, while Al and Bill did not wander so far from each
 other that they could not be heard if one wanted his companion.
 
 "Al shot a fat black-tail deer, and just as he was going to stoop
 down to cut its throat, Bill yelled out to him:--
 
 "'Drop everything Al, for God's sake, and let's make for the dugout;
 they're coming, a whole band of Sioux!'
 
 "'If we can get to the cabin,' replied Al, 'we can keep off the whole
 nation.  I wonder where Rube is?  I hope he'll get here and save
 his scalp.'
 
 "At this instant, poor Rube dashed up to them, an Ingin close upon
 his tracks; he had unfortunately forgotten to take his rifle with
 him when he went to the creek, and now he was at the mercy of the
 savage; at least both he and his pursuer so thought.  But before
 the Ingin had fairly uttered his yell of exultation, Al who with
 Bill had held his rifle in readiness for an emergency, lifted the
 red devil off his feet, and he fell dead without ever knowing what
 had struck him.
 
 "Rube, thus delivered from a sudden death, ran at the top of his
 speed with his two friends for the cabin, for, if they could reach it,
 they did not fear a hundred paint-bedaubed savages.
 
 "Luckily they arrived in time.  Where they lived was part dugout and
 part cabin.  It was about ten feet high, and right back of it was
 a big ledge of rock, which made it impossible for any one to get
 into it from that side.  The place had no door; they did not dare
 to put one there when it was built, for they were likely to be
 surprised at any moment by a prowling band, so the only entrance was
 a square hole in the roof, through which one at a time had to crawl
 to enter.
 
 "The boys got inside all right just as the Ingins came a yelling up.
 Bill looked out of a hole in the wall and counted thirty of the
 devils, and said at once: 'Off with your coats; don't let them have
 anything to catch hold of but our naked bodies if they get in, and
 we can handle ourselves better.'
 
 "'Thirty to three,' said Al.  'Whew! this ain't going to be any
 boy's play; we've got to fight for all there is in it, and the
 chances are mightily agin us.'
 
 "Rube he took an axe, and stood right under the hole in the roof,
 so that if any of the devils got in he could brain them.  In a minute
 five rifles cracked; for the Ingins was pretty well armed for them
 times, and their bullets rattled agin the logs like hail agin a tent.
 Some of 'em was on top the roof by this time, and soon the leader of
 the party, a big painted devil, thrust his ugly face into the hole;
 but he had hardly got a good look before Bill dropped him by a
 well-directed shot and he tumbled in on the floor.
 
 "'You darned fool,' said Bill, as he saw the effect of his shot;
 'did you think we was asleep?'
 
 "There was one opening that served for air, and a savage, seeing
 the boys had forgotten to barricade it, tried to push himself
 through, an' not succeeding, tried to back out, but at that instant
 Bill caught him by the wrist--Bill was a powerful man--and picking up
 a beaver-trap that laid on the floor, actually beat his brains
 out with it.
 
 "While this circus was going on inside, three more of the Ingins got
 on the roof and wrenched off a couple of the logs that covered it;
 but in a minute they came tumbling down and lay dead on the floor.
 
 "'That leaves only twenty-five, don't it?' inquired Al, as he mopped
 his face with his shirt-sleeve.
 
 "'Howl, you red devils,' said Bill, as the Ingins commenced their
 awful yelling when they saw their comrades fall into the room.
 'Don't you know, you blame fools, you've fell in with experienced
 hands at the shooting business?'
 
 "Spat!  Something hit Al, and he was the first wounded, but it was
 only a scratch, and he kept right on attending to business.
 
 "'By gosh! look at Rube, will you?' said Al.  The dumb boy had in
 his grasp the very chief of the band, who had just then discovered
 the hole in the roof made by the three Ingins who had passed in
 their checks for their impudence, and was trying his best to push
 himself down.  Rube had made a strike at him with an axe, but the
 edge was turned aside, and the savage was getting the better of
 the boy; he had grappled Rube by the hair and one arm, and they was
 flying 'round like a wild cat and a hound.  Bill tried three times
 to sink his knife into the old chief, but there was such a cavortin'
 in the wrastle between him and the boy, he was afraid to try any more,
 for fear it might hit Rube instead.  Suddenly the Ingin fell to the
 floor as dead as a trapped beaver what's been drowned; Rube had
 struck his buckhorn-handled hunting-knife right into the heart of
 the brute.
 
 "'Set him agin the hole in the side of the building,' said Bill;
 'he ain't fit for nothing else than to stop a gap'; so Rube set him
 agin the hole, and pinned him there with half a dozen knives what
 was lying round loose.
 
 "Just as they had fastened the dead body of the old chief to the
 side of the cabin, a perfect shower of bullets came rattling round
 like a hailstorm.  'All right, let's have your waste lead,' said Bill.
 
 "'A few more of these dead Ingins and we can make a regular fort of
 this old cabin; we want two for that chunk,' said Al, as he pointed
 with his rifle to a large gap on the west side of the wall; but
 before he had fairly got the words out of his mouth, two of the
 attacking party jumped down into the room.  Al, being a regular giant,
 as soon as they landed, surprised them by seizing one with each hand
 by the throat, and he actually held them at arm's-length till he had
 squeezed the very life out of them, and they both fell corpses.
 
 "While Al was performing his two-Ingin act, a great light burst into
 the cabin, and by the time he had choked his enemies to death, he saw,
 while the Ingins outside gave a terrible yell of exultation, that
 they had fired the place.
 
 "'Damn 'em,' shouted Bill, as he pitched the corpse of the chief
 from the gap where Rube had set him.  'Fellows, we've got to get
 out of here right quick; follow me, boys!'
 
 "Holding their rifles in hand, and clutching a hunting-knife also,
 they stepped out into the brush surrounding the place, and started
 on a run for the heavy timber on the bank of the creek.
 
 "They had reckoned onluckily; a wild war-whoop greeted the flying men
 as they reached the edge of the forest, and without being able to use
 their arms, they were taken prisoners.  Bill and Al, fastened with
 their backs against each other, and Little Rube by himself, were
 bound to separate trees, but not so far apart that they could not
 speak to each other, and some of the Ingins began to gather sticks
 and pile them around the trees.
 
 "'What are they going to do with us?' anxiously inquired Bill of Al.
 
 "'Roast us, you bet,' replied the other.  'They'll find me tough
 enough, anyhow.'
 
 "'It must be a painful death,' soliloquized Bill.
 
 "'Well, it isn't the most pleasant one, you can gamble on that,'
 said Al, turning his looks toward Bill; 'but see what the devils
 are doing to poor Rube.'
 
 "Bill cast his eyes in the direction of the dumb boy, who was fastened
 to a small pine, about a hundred feet distant.  Standing directly
 in front of it was a gigantic Ingin, flourishing his scalping-knife
 within an inch of Rube's head, trying to make the boy flinch.
 But the young fellow merely scowled at him in a rage, his muscles
 never quivering for an instant.
 
 "While the men were trying to console each other, two of the savages,
 who had gone away for a short time, returned, bearing the carcass
 of the deer that Al had killed in the morning, and commenced to cut
 it up.  They had made several small fires, and roasting the meat
 before them, began to gorge themselves, Indian fashion, with the
 savoury morsels.  The men were awfully hungry, too, but not a mouthful
 did they get of their own game.
 
 "The Ingins were more'n an hour feasting, while their prisoners kept
 a looking for some help to get 'em out of the scrape they was in.
 
 "'Bout a mile down the creek, me and six other trappers had a camp,
 and that morning, being scarce of meat, we all went a hunting.
 We had killed two or three elk and was 'bout going back to camp with
 our game, when we heard firing, and supposed it was a party of hunters,
 like ourselves, so we did not pay any attention to it at first; but
 when it kept up so long, and there was such a constant volley, I told
 our boys it might be a scrimmage with a party of red devils, and we
 concluded to go and see.
 
 "We left our elk where they were, and started in the direction of
 the shooting, taking mighty good care not to be surprised ourselves.
 We crept carefully on, and a little before sundown seen a camp-fire
 burning in the timber quite a smart piece ahead of us.  We stopped
 then, and Ike Pettet and myself crept on cautiously on our hands and
 knees through the brush to learn what the fire meant.  In a little
 while we seen it was an Ingin camp, and we counted twenty-two
 warriors seated 'round their fires a eating as unconcernedly as if
 we warn't nowhere near 'em.  We didn't feel like tackling so many,
 so just as we was 'bout to crawl away and leave 'em in ondisturbed
 possession of their camp, we heard some parties talking in English.
 Then we pricked up our ears and listened mighty interested I tell you.
 Looking 'round, we seen the men tied to the trees and the wood piled
 against 'em, and then we knowed what was up.  We had to be mighty
 wary, for if we snapped a twig even, it was all day with us and
 the prisoners too; so we dragged ourselves back, and after getting
 out of sound of the Ingins, we just got up and lit out mighty lively
 for the place we'd left our companions.  We met them coming slowly
 on 'bout two miles from the Ingin camp, and telling 'em what was up
 we started to help the trappers what the devils was agoing to burn.
 We wasn't half so long in getting at the camp as Ike and me was
 in going, and we soon come within good range for our rifles.
 
 "The Ingins was still unsuspicious, and we spread ourselves in a
 sort of half circle so as to kind o' surround them, and at a signal
 I give, seven rifles cracked at once, and as many of the Injins was
 dropped right in their tracks; a second volley, for the red devils
 had not got their senses yet, tumbled seven more corpses upon the
 pile, and then we white men jumped in with our knives and clubbed
 rifles, and there was a lively scrimmage for a few minutes.  The few
 Ingins what wasn't killed fought like devils, but as we was getting
 the best of 'em every second they turned tail and ran.
 
 "We'd heard the firing of the fight at the cabin just in time; and
 as we cut the rawhide strings that bound the fellows to the trees,
 Ike, who was a right fine shot and had killed three at one time,
 said: 'I always like to get two or three of the red devils in a line
 before I pull the trigger; it saves lead.'
 
 "Then we all went back to our camp and made a night of it, feasting
 on the elk we had killed, and talking over the wonderful escape of
 the boys and Little Rube."