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Afar in the Forest

William Henry Giles Kingston

  Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

  Afar in the Forest, by W.H.G. Kingston.


  This is not a long book, but is very much in the Kingston style, thatis, the style he employs when writing about land-based adventures, asopposed to sea-based ones.

  It is quite difficult to follow who is who in this story, and why theyare doing what they do. I suggest that you use a pen and paper to jotdown people's names as and when they make their appearance.

  But there are some surprises regarding who is related to whom, a devicewhich Kingston uses quite often.





  "Is Lily not Uncle Stephen's daughter, then?" I asked.

  The question was put to my uncle, Mark Tregellis, whom I found seated infront of our hut as I returned one evening from a hunting excursion--ithaving been my duty that day to go out in search of game for our larder.Uncle Mark had just come in from his day's work, which had been that offelling the tall trees surrounding our habitation. He and I togetherhad cleared an acre and a half since we came to our new location.

  It was a wild region in which we had fixed ourselves. Dark forests wereon every side of us. To the north and the east was the great chain oflakes which extend a third of the way across North America. Numberlessmountain-ranges rose in the distance, with intervening heights,--somerugged and precipitous, others clothed to their summits with vegetation.Numerous rivers and streams ran through the country; one of which, onwhose banks we purposed building our future abode, passed close to ourhut. Besides the features I have described, there were waterfalls andrapids, deep valleys and narrow gorges penetrating amid the hills; whileto the south-west could be seen, from the higher ground near us, thewide prairie, extending away far beyond human ken. Wild indeed it was,for not a single habitation of white men was to be found to thewestward; and on the other side, beyond the newly-formed settlement inwhich Uncle Stephen resided, but few cottages or huts of the hardypioneers of civilisation,--and these scattered only here and there,--existed for a hundred miles or more.

  Uncle Mark, having lighted the fire and put the pot on to boil, hadthrown himself down on the ground in front of the hut, with his back tothe wall, and was busy contemplating the dark pines which towered upbefore him, and calculating how long it would take, with his sharp axe,to fell them.

  I had brought home a haunch of venison as my share of the spoils of thechase (in which I had joined Uncle Stephen); and it was in consequenceof a remark made by him while we were out hunting, that I had somewhateagerly asked at Uncle Mark the question with which this story opens.

  "No; Lily is not Stephen's daughter,--nor even related to him," heanswered. "But we will cut some steaks off that haunch and broil them;and while we are discussing our supper, I will tell you all about thematter."

  The slices of venison, and flour-cakes baked on the fire, were soonready; and seated at the door of our hut, with a fire burning before usto keep off the mosquitoes, we commenced our repast, when I reminded myuncle of his promise.

  "It is a good many years ago, but even now it is painful to think ofthose days," he began. "We came from Cornwall, in the `old country,'where your Uncle Stephen, your mother, and I were born. She had marriedyour father, Michael Penrose, however, and had emigrated to America,when we were mere boys; and we were just out of our apprenticeship(Stephen as a blacksmith and I as a carpenter) when we received a letterfrom your father and mother inviting us to join them in America, andsetting forth the advantages to be obtained in the new country. We werenot long in making up our minds to accept the invitation; and in thespring of the next year we crossed the sea, with well nigh three hundredother emigrants,--some going out to relatives and friends, others benton seeking their fortunes, trusting alone to their own strong arms anddetermined will for success.

  "We found, on landing, that we had a journey of some hundred milesbefore us; part of which could be performed in boats up the rivers, butthe greater portion was along `corduroy' roads, through dark forests,and over mountains and plains. Our brother-in-law, a bold, determinedperson, had turned backwoodsman, and, uniting himself with a party ofhardy fellows of similar tastes, had pushed on in advance of the oldsettlers, far to the westward, in spite of the difficulties of obtainingstores and provisions, and the dangers they knew they must encounterfrom hostile Indians whose territories they were invading. We did not,however, think much of these things, and liked the idea of being ahead,as it seemed to us, of others. The forest was before us. We were towin our way through it, and establish a home for ourselves and ourfamilies.

  "We had been travelling on for a couple of weeks or so, following thedirections your father had given us in order to find his new location,but greatly in doubt as to whether we were going right, when we werefortunate enough to fall in with a settler who knew him, and who wasreturning with a waggon and team. He readily undertook to be our guide,glad to have our assistance in making way through the forest. Weprovided ourselves with crowbars to lift the waggon out of the ruts andholes and up the steep ascents; for we had left the `corduroy' roads--or, indeed, any road at all--far behind. Our new acquaintance seemed tobe somewhat out of spirits about the prospects of the new settlement;but, notwithstanding, he had determined to chance it with the rest. TheIndians, he said, had lately been troublesome, and some of them who hadbeen found prowling about, evidently bent on mischief, had been shot.`We have won the ground, and we must keep it against all odds,' heobserved.

  "Everything in the country was then new to us. I remember feelingalmost awe-struck with the stillness which reigned in the forest. Not aleaf or bough was in motion; nor was a sound heard, except when now andthen our ears caught the soughing of the wind among the lofty heads ofthe pine-trees, the tapping of the woodpeckers on the decaying trunks,or the whistling cry of the little chitmonk as it ran from bough tobough.

  "I had expected to meet with bears, wolves, raccoons, lynxes, and otheranimals, and was surprised at encountering so few living creatures.`They are here, notwithstanding,' observed our friend; `you will getyour eyes sharpened to find them in time. In the course of a year ortwo you _may_ become expert backwoodsmen. You can't expect to drop intothe life all at once.' By attending to the advice our friend gave us,and keeping our senses wide awake, we gained some knowledge even duringthat journey.

  "We were now approaching the settlement--Weatherford, it was called. Itwas a long way to the eastward of where we are now, with numerous townsand villages in the neighbourhood. The waggon had gained the lastheight, from the top of which, our guide told us, we should be able tocatch sight of the settlement. We had been working away with ourcrowbars, helping on the wheels,--our friend being ahead of the team,--and had just reached level ground, when we heard him utter a cry
ofdismay. Rushing forward, we found him pointing, with distended eyes,into the plain beyond us, from which could be seen, near the bank of ariver, thick volumes of smoke ascending, while bright names keptflickering up from below.

  "`The settlement has been surprised by Indians!' he exclaimed, as soonas he could find words to speak. `I know the bloodthirsty nature of thesavages. They don't do things by halves, or allow a single human beingto escape, if they can help it. Lads, you will stick by me; though wecan do nothing, I fear, but be revenged on the Redskins. I left my wifeand children down there, and I know that I shall never see them aliveagain.'

  "He spoke quite calmly, like a man who had made up his mind for theworst.

  "`We cannot leave the waggon here, or the Indians will see it,--if theyhave not done so already,--and know that we are following them. We willtake it down to yonder hollow, and leave it and the oxen. There ispasture enough for them, and they will not stray far. Then we willfollow up the Indians' trail; and maybe some of their braves won't getback to boast of their victory, if you will only do as I tell you.'

  "Of course, we at once agreed to accompany Simon Yearsley--such was ourfriend's name--and follow his directions. Quickly turning the waggonround, we got it down to the spot he had indicated, where the oxen wereunyoked, and left to crop the grass by the side of a stream flowing fromthe hill above. Then taking our rifles, with a supply of ammunition,and some food in our wallets, we again set off, Yearsley leading theway.

  "We next descended the hill, concealing ourselves as much as possibleamong the rocks and shrubs until we gained the plain. Although Simonmoved at a rapid rate, there was nothing frantic in his gestures. Hehad made up his mind, should he find his loved ones destroyed, to followthe murderers with deadly vengeance, utterly regardless of theconsequences to himself. As none of the intervening country had beencleared except a straight road through the forest, where the trees hadbeen felled, and the stumps grubbed up here and there to allow of awaggon passing between the remainder, we were able to conceal ourselvesuntil we got close to the settlement.

  "We now saw that, though the greater number were in flames, two or threehuts on one side remained uninjured. Still, not a sound reached us,--neither the cries of the inhabitants nor the shouts of the savages.Nothing was heard save the sharp crackling of the flames.

  "`The Indians have retreated, and the settlers are following. We shallbe in time to join them!' exclaimed Yearsley, dashing forward. `But wemust first search for any who have survived.' His previous calmnessdisappeared as he spoke, and he rushed, through the burning huts,towards one of the buildings.

  "Stephen and I were about to follow, when we heard a cry proceeding fromone of the huts at hand, which, though the doorway was charred and theburning embers lay around it, had as yet escaped destruction. Hurryingin, I stumbled over the corpse of a man. His rifle lay on the ground,while his hand grasped an axe, the blade covered with gore. I gazed onhis face, and recognised, after a moment's scrutiny, my ownbrother-in-law. He had fallen while defending his hearth and home.Close to him lay a young boy, who, I guessed, was his eldest child, shotthrough the head.

  "My poor sister! where could she be?

  "Again a cry reached my ear. It came from an inner room. It wasMartha, your mother, who had uttered the cry. She was stretched on theground, holding you in her arms. Her neck was fearfully wounded, herlife-blood ebbing fast away.

  "I endeavoured to stanch it, telling her meanwhile who I was.

  "`Stephen and I have come at your invitation,' I said.

  "`Heaven, rather, has sent you, to protect my Roger,' she faintly gaspedout, trying to put you in my arms. `His father and brother are dead; Isaw them fall. Hearing voices which I knew to be those of white men, Icried out, that they might come and protect him. Mark! I am dying.You will ever be a father to him?'

  "The blood continued to flow; and soon she breathed her last, her headresting on my arm. Your dress and little hands were stained with herblood; but you were too young to understand clearly what had happened,although, as I took you up to carry you from the hut, you cried outlustily to be taken back to your poor mother.

  "Thinking it possible that the Indians might return, I hurried out tolook for Stephen, so that we might make our escape. I was resolved atall costs to save your life. I tried to comfort you, at the same time,by telling you that I was your uncle, and that your mother had wished meto take care of you.

  "Going on a little way, I found another hut, the door of which was open,and smoke coming out of it. The savages had thrown in their firebrandsas they quitted the village, and the front part was already on fire.

  "While I was shouting for Stephen he rushed out of the hut, with ablanket rolled up in his arms, the end thrown over his own head.

  "`I have saved this child, and thank Heaven you are here to take her!'he exclaimed, unfolding the blanket, and putting a little girl into myarms. `I must try and preserve the mother;' and again throwing theblanket over his head, he dashed in through the flames.

  "In another minute he reappeared, struggling along under the heavyburden of a grown-up person wrapped in the blanket. As he reached me hesank down, overcome by the smoke, and I noticed that his clothes andhair were singed.

  "On opening the blanket I saw a young woman, her dress partly burned.She too was wounded. The fresh air somewhat revived her; and on openingher eyes and seeing the little girl, she stretched out her arms for her.`Lilias! my little Lily! she's saved,' she whispered, as she pressedher lips to the child's brow. `May Heaven reward you!'

  "It was the final effort of exhausted nature, and in a few minutes shebreathed her last.

  "The flames, meantime, had gained the mastery over the building, and wesaw that it was impossible to save it.

  "But it's time to turn in, Roger," said Uncle Mark. "I'll tell you moreabout the matter to-morrow."

  As Uncle Mark always meant what he said, I knew that there would be nouse in trying to get him to go on then, eager as I was to hear more ofwhat had, as may be supposed, so deeply interested me. I accordinglyturned into my bunk, and was soon asleep.

  I dreamed of shrieking Indians and burning villages; and more than onceI started up and listened to the strange unearthly sounds which camefrom the depths of the forest.

  These noises, I may here say, were caused by the wolves; for the savagebrutes occasionally came near the settlement, attracted by the sheep andcattle which the inhabitants had brought with them. A bright look-outbeing kept, however, it was seldom that any of our stock was carriedoff. Bears also occasionally came into the neighbourhood; and we hadalready shot two, whose skins supplied us with winter coats. Ourintention was to kill as many more as we could meet with, that theirskins might serve us for other purposes--especially as coverlets for ourbeds. And, besides, their flesh was always a welcome addition to ourlarder.

  Next morning we went about our usual work. My uncle with his bright axecommenced felling the trees round our hut--working away from sunrise tosunset, with only an hour's intermission for dinner. I aided him, asfar as my strength would allow, for a certain number of hours daily.But my uncle encouraged me to follow the bent of my inclination, whichwas to get away and observe the habits of the creatures dwelling in thesurrounding forest.

  I had been a naturalist from my earliest days. The study had been mypoor father's hobby--so my uncle told me--and I inherited his love forit. It had, moreover, been developed and encouraged by a visit we hadreceived, some few years back, from a scientific gentleman, who had comeover to America to make himself acquainted with the feathered tribes,the quadrupeds, and the reptiles of the New World.

  It had been my delight to accompany this gentleman on his excursionswhile he was with us; and I prized a couple of books he had left with memore than I should have done a lump of gold of the same weight. Fromhim I learned to preserve and stuff the skins of the birds and animals Ikilled; a knowledge which I turned to profitable account, by my uncle'sadvice--as they were sent, whe
n opportunity occurred, to the EasternStates, where they found a ready market.

  "It pays very well in its way, Roger," observed Uncle Mark; "but work isbetter. If you can combine the two, I have no objection; but you arenow too old to play, and, for your own sake, you should do your best togain your own living. While you were young, I was ready to work foryou; and so I should be now, if you could not work for yourself. I wantyou, however, to understand that it is far nobler for a man to labourfor his daily bread, than to allow others to labour for him."

  I fully agreed with Uncle Mark. Indeed, my ambition had long been tosupport myself. I had an idea, nevertheless, that the skins I preservedbrought more immediate profit than did the result of his labours withthe axe. But, everything considered, we got on very well together; forI was grateful to him for the affection and care he had bestowed on meduring my childhood.

  I was hard at work that day preparing a number of birds I had shot inthe morning; and when dinnertime came, Uncle Mark, telling me tocontinue my task, said he would get our meal ready. Having quicklyprepared it, he brought out the platters, and set himself down near me.I washed my hands, and speedily despatched my dinner; after which Ireturned to my work.

  "Will you go on with the account you were giving me last night?" Isaid, observing that he did not seem inclined to move. "You have morethan half an hour to rest, and I will then come and help you."

  "Where was I? Oh! I remember," said my uncle. "In the middle of theburning settlement, with you and Lily in my arms.

  "We were wondering what had become of Yearsley, when we caught sight ofhim rushing out from amid the burning huts.

  "`They are all killed!--all, all, all!' he shrieked out. `Follow me,lads;' and he pointed with a significant gesture in the direction hesupposed the Indians had taken.

  "`But these children, Mr Yearsley! You would not have us desert them!And my brother is too much injured, I fear, to accompany you,' Iobserved.

  "He looked at the children for a moment.

  "`You are right,' he answered. `Stay by them; or rather, make your wayback eastward with them. Ignorant as you are of the habits of thesavages, you could aid me but little. If I do not return, the waggonand its contents, with the team, will be yours.'

  "Before I had time to reply, or to ask him the name of the poor youngwoman who lay dead at my feet, he had dashed across the stream, and soondisappeared amid the forest beyond. He had doubtless discovered thetrail of the Indians, or of the band of settlers who had gone in pursuitof them; although we at that time were quite unable to perceive what wasvisible to his more practised eye.

  "I told Stephen how I had discovered our sister's house; so we agreed toreturn to it, and to carry there the body of the poor young woman, thatwe might bury it with those of our own family. The hut was one of thevery few which had escaped the flames, and we found some spades and apickaxe within. Not knowing how soon we might be interrupted, we atonce set to work and dug two graves under a maple-tree at the furtherend of the garden. One was large enough to hold our brother-in-law andsister, and their boy; and in the other we placed the poor young lady--for a lady she appeared to be, judging from her dress, her ear-rings andbrooch, and a ring which she wore on her finger. These trinkets weremoved, in order to preserve them for her little daughter; as also aminiature which hung round her neck,--that of a handsome young man, whowas doubtless her husband. Stephen told me that the cottage from whichhe had rescued her, as far as he had time to take notice, seemed to beneatly and tastefully furnished.

  "We concluded that her husband, if he had not been killed when thevillage was surprised, had followed the savages along with the rest; andhe would be able on his return to identify his child, while we shouldknow him by his portrait.

  "Before beginning our sad occupation, we had got some water and washedthe stains from your hands and clothes, and left you in a room playingwith little Lily; and on our return we gave you both some food which wefound in the house. By this time, too, you seemed perfectly at homewith us.

  "At first we thought of remaining in the house until Mr Yearsley andthe settlers whom we supposed had gone in pursuit of the savages shouldreturn; but Stephen suggested that this might be dangerous, as we shouldnot know what was happening outside. The Indians might come back andsurprise us, when we should to a certainty share the fate which hadbefallen so many others. We agreed, therefore, that our safest coursewould be to make our way back to the waggon, where we had abundance ofprovisions, and where we could find shelter for the children who hadbeen committed to us, we felt sure, by Providence.

  "They were now our chief care. While I took charge of them, Stephenhurriedly examined the other huts which had escaped destruction; cryingout in case any one should be concealed, in order to let them know thatwe were ready to help them. No answer came, however, and we were soonconvinced that every person in the settlement, with the exception ofthose who had gone in pursuit of the savages, had been slaughtered.

  "As soon as we were satisfied as to this, we began our retreat, hopingto get back to the waggon before nightfall. Our intention was to waitthere for Mr Yearsley, as we felt sure that, after he had punished theIndians, he would come and look for us where he had left the waggon.

  "The sun was setting as we reached the top of the ridge; but we were toofar off to distinguish any one moving in the settlement, although wemade out the smouldering fire, from which thin wreaths of smoke aloneascended in the calm evening air. On reaching the waggon, we found thecattle grazing quietly beside it. Having removed some packages, amongwhich was one of new blankets, we made up beds for the two children; andafter giving them some supper, we placed them, sleeping, side by side.

  "We agreed that one of us should watch while the other slept. We alsoresolved that, in the event of our being attacked by Indians, we shouldshow them fight; for we had a good store of ammunition, and knew wellhow to handle our weapons. Although we hoped they would not come, yetwe knew that they might possibly fall upon our trail and discover ourwhereabouts. Indeed, had we not thought it our duty to wait for MrYearsley, we should have harnessed the cattle, and endeavoured to makeour way down the mountain in the dark.

  "After we had put you and Lily to bed, and had refreshed ourselves withsome supper, I climbed again to the top of the ridge; but I could see noobject moving in the plain, nor could I hear the slightest sound toindicate the approach of any one. I therefore returned.

  "While Stephen lay down under the waggon, I kept watch, walking up anddown with my rifle ready in my hand, and resting occasionally by leaningagainst the wheel of the waggon. After I had watched thus for aboutfour hours, I called Stephen, who took my place.

  "I was again on foot by daybreak, and once more climbed to the top ofthe ridge to look out. But I had the same report as before to give.The fire had burned itself out, and I could see no one moving. Wewaited all that day--and might have waited for several more, until ourcattle had eaten up the herbage--without being discovered; but MrYearsley did not appear, nor could we see any signs of the othersettlers.

  "We did our best to amuse you and Lily. You asked frequently after yourpoor mother; and it went to my heart to tell you that you would neversee her again.

  "Stephen proposed that we should the next morning set out on our journeyeastward; but as I thought it possible that Mr Yearsley would by thattime have got back to the settlement, I undertook to go and search forhim--or to try and find any of the other people, and learn what hadbecome of him. Stephen agreed to this; undertaking to look after thechildren and guard the waggon during my absence.

  "At daybreak I set out, keeping myself concealed, as much as possible,behind bushes and trunks of trees, until I got back to the scene of thecatastrophe. I listened; but all was still as death. Excepting the twoor three huts around my brother-in-law's abode, the whole ground wherethe settlement had stood presented only black heaps of ashes, surroundedby palings and trunks of trees charred by the flames. I could see noone moving across the river, eit
her; and the dreadful idea seized methat the settlers who had gone in pursuit of the foe had been cut off,and that Mr Yearsley had in all likelihood shared the same fate. Hadit not been for Stephen and the children, I would have watched all day,in the hope of our friend's return; but I had promised not to be longerthan I could help.

  "I again visited my poor brother-in-law's hut, and packed up suchclothes as I saw belonging to you. I also brought away a few otherarticles, to remind us of your mother; for I thought it probable thatthe settlement would be revisited by the savages, who would take goodcare to finish the work they had begun. I then set off on my return tothe waggon, looking back every now and then, lest I might be followed byany of the foe.

  "On reaching the waggon, Stephen agreed with me that we might safelywait till the next morning. We did so; and poor Yearsley not thenappearing, we proceeded with the waggon along the road we had taken incoming, until we reached Watfield, a large settlement which had thenbeen established for three or four years.

  "The account we gave of what had happened caused the inhabitantsconsiderable anxiety and alarm. The men at once flew to arms; stockadeswere put up; and sentries were posted at all points, to watch for thepossible approach of the Indians.

  "Stephen and I having now no wish to go further east, we determined toremain where we were. As for the waggon and team, though we had nowritten document to show that Yearsley had given them to us, ourstatement was believed; and it was agreed that we should be allowed tokeep them,--especially as we consented to give them up should theoriginal owner return. But nothing was ever heard of him, or of theother settlers who had gone in pursuit of the retreating foe; and it wasgenerally believed that the whole had been surrounded and murdered bythe savages.

  "As we could not spare time to look after the children, one of us agreedto marry. Stephen therefore fixed upon your Aunt Hannah, who was, hehad discovered, likely to prove a good housewife, and was kind-heartedand gentle-mannered. A true mother, too, she has ever proved to ourLily."

  Uncle Mark only spoke the truth when he praised Aunt Hannah; for she hadbeen like an affectionate mother to me, as well as to Lily, and much Iowed her for the care she had bestowed upon me.

  I need not describe my own early days; indeed, several years passedwithout the occurrence of any incidents which would be especiallyinteresting to others. Gradually the border-village grew into a town,although even then the country continued in almost its original wildstate within a mile or two of us. Both Lily and I got a fair amount ofschooling; and in the holidays I was able to indulge my taste, byrambling into the forest and increasing my knowledge of the habits ofits denizens. Occasionally I got leave for Lily to accompany me,although Aunt Hannah did not much approve of her going so far from home.

  One day I had persuaded our aunt to let her accompany me--Lily herselfwas always ready to go--for the sake of collecting some baskets ofberries. "I promise to come back with as many as I can carry, to fillyour jam-pots," said I. There were whortleberries, and thimble-berries,blue-berries, raspberries, and strawberries, and many others which, Ireminded her, were now in season. "If we do not get them now, the timewill pass. Lily's fingers, too, will pick them quicker than mine, sothat we shall get double as many as I should get by myself," I observed.

  My arguments prevailed, and Lily and I set out, happy as the red-birdswe saw flying in and out among the trees around us.

  We had nearly filled our baskets, and I was on my knees picking somestrawberries which grew on the bank of a small stream running through anopen part of the forest, when Lily, who was at a little distance fromme, shrieked out. I was about to spring to my feet and hurry to herassistance--supposing that she had been frightened by some animal--whenwhat was my horror to see, close to me, a huge wolf, with open jaws,ready to seize me! My stick, the only weapon I carried, lay just withinmy reach; so I put out my hand and instinctively grasped it, determinedto fight for my own life and Lily's too--knowing how, if the wolf killedme, it would next attack her.

  As I moved the creature snarled, but did not advance any nearer. So,grasping the stick, I sprang to my feet and swung the weapon round withall my might, despair giving energy to my muscles. The savage creatureretreated a few paces, astonished at the unexpected blow, snarling, andeyeing me, as if about to make another attack.

  Again Lily shrieked.

  "Run, run!" I cried; "I will tackle the wolf."

  But she did not move; indeed, she saw that the creature was more likelyto come off victor than I was.

  I stood ready to receive the animal, doubtful whether I ought to makethe attack; Lily, in the meantime, continuing to cry aloud for help.The wolf at length seemed to get tired of waiting for his expected prey,and giving a fierce howl, he was on the point of springing at me, when abullet fired by an unseen hand laid him dead at my feet.

  Lily sprang towards me, exclaiming, "You are safe! you are safe, Roger!"and then burst into tears. She scarcely seemed to consider how I hadbeen saved. All she saw was the dead wolf, and that I was unhurt.

  On looking round, I observed an Indian advancing towards us from amongthe trees.

  "That must be the man who killed the wolf," I exclaimed. "We must thankhim, Lily."

  Lily had ever a great dread of Indians. "We must run! we must run,Roger!" she cried. "He may kill us as easily as he did the wolf, orcarry us away prisoners."

  "We cannot escape him, Lily; and I do not think he will hurt us," Ianswered in an encouraging tone. "I will go forward and thank him forsaving my life. It will not do to show any fear; and if he is disposedto be friendly, he would think it ungrateful if we were to run offwithout thanking him."

  I took Lily's hand as I spoke, and led her towards the Indian. He wasdressed in skins, with an axe hanging from his belt, and had long blackhair streaming over his shoulders,--unlike most of the Indians I hadseen, who wear it tied up and ornamented with feathers. A small silvermedal hung from his neck, and I guessed from this that he was a friendto the white men, and had received it as a token for some service he hadrendered them.

  He made a friendly sign as he saw us approach, and put out his hand.

  "We come to thank you for killing the wolf that was about to spring uponme," I said in English, for though I knew a few words of the Indiantongue, I could not at that time speak it sufficiently well to expresswhat I wished to say.

  "Kepenau is glad to have done you a service," he answered in English."I heard the young maiden cry out, and guessed that she would not do sowithout cause, so I hurried on to help you. But why are you so far fromhome? It is dangerous for unarmed people to wander in this forest."

  "We came out to gather berries, and were about to return," said Lily."You will not detain us?"

  "Not if you wish to go," answered the Indian.

  "But come with me, and you shall return with something of more valuethan these berries."

  I felt sure that the Indian would not injure us, so Lily and I followedhim, hand in hand.

  He moved through the forest faster than we could, and presently stoppednear some rocks, amid which lay the body of a deer with huge antlers.Placing himself across the carcass of the animal, he exclaimed with alook of exultation, "See! I have overcome the king of these forests.Once, thousands of these animals wandered here, but since the white manhas come they have all disappeared; and now that I have slain him, wemust go likewise, and seek for fresh hunting-grounds. Still, Kepenaubears the Whiteskins no malice. He was ever their friend, and intendsto remain so. You must take some of the meat and present it to yourfriends."

  Saying this, he commenced skinning the deer, in which operation Iassisted him. He then cut off several slices, which he wrapped up insome large leaves and placed in my basket.

  "Take the venison to your mother, and say that Kepenau sends it," heobserved.

  "He has no mother," said Lily.

  "Is he not your brother?" asked the Indian.

  "No!" said Lily. "His mother was killed by the Redskins long, longago."r />
  Lily at that time did not know that her own mother had been murderedwhen mine was.

  "You do not bear the red men any malice on that account, I trust?" saidKepenau, turning to me.

  "The Great Spirit tells us to forgive our enemies; and there are goodand bad Indians."

  "You are a good Indian, I am sure," said Lily, looking up at him withmore confidence in her manner than she had before shown.

  "I wish to become so," he said, smiling. "I have learned to love theGreat Spirit, and wish to obey him. But it is time for you to returnhome. Wait until I have secured the flesh of the deer, and then I willaccompany you."

  Kepenau quickly cut up the animal, and fastened the more valuableportion's to the bough of a tree--out of the reach of the wolves--bymeans of some lithe creepers which grew at hand; then loading himselfwith as much of the venison as he could conveniently carry, he said, "Wewill move on."

  Having accompanied us to the edge of the forest, he bade us farewell."Should there be more wolves in the forest, they will not follow youfurther than this," he said; "but if they do, remember that it will bebetter to sacrifice some of the venison, than to allow them to overtakeyou. Throw them a small bit at a time; and as in all likelihood theywill stop to quarrel over it, you will thus have time to escape."

  I remembered the Indian's advice, although we did not need to practiseit on this occasion.

  We reached home before dark, and greatly surprised Aunt Hannah with thepresent of venison. She had, she told us, been very anxious at ourprolonged absence.