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Among the Red-skins; Or, Over the Rocky Mountains

William Henry Giles Kingston

  Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

  Among the Red-skins, by W.H.G. Kingston.


  ________________________________________________________________________AMONG THE RED-SKINS, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.




  "Hugh, my lad! Hugh, run and tell Madge we have come back," cried UncleDonald, as he and I entered the house on our return, one summer'sevening, from a hunting excursion in search of deer or any other game wecould come across, accompanied by three of our dogs, Whiskey, Pilot, andMuskymote.

  As he spoke, he unstrapped from his shoulders a heavy load of cariboumeat. I, having a similar load, did the same--mine was lighter thanhis--and, Hugh not appearing, I went to the door and again called. Noanswer came.

  "Rose, my bonnie Rose! Madge, I say! Madge! Where are you all?"shouted Uncle Donald, while he hung his rifle, with his powder-horn andshot-pouch, in their accustomed places on the wall.

  On glancing round the room he seemed somewhat vexed to perceive that nopreparations had been made for supper, which we expected to have foundready for us. It was seldom, however, that he allowed himself to be putout. I think I can see him now--his countenance, though weather-beatenand furrowed by age, wearing its usual placid and benignant expression;while his long silvery beard and the white locks which escaped frombeneath his Highland bonnet gave him an especially venerable appearance.His dress was a plaid shooting-coat, and high leggings of well-tannedleather, ornamented with fringe after the fashion of the Indians.Upright as an arrow, with broad shoulders and wiry frame, he stoodupwards of six feet in his mocassins, nor did he appear to have lostanything of the strength and energy of youth.

  As no one appeared, I ran round to the back of the house, thinking thatRose and Madge, accompanied by Hugh, had gone to bring in the milk,which it was the duty of Sandy McTavish to draw from our cows, and thathe, for some cause or other, being later than usual, they had beendelayed. I was not mistaken. I presently met them, Madge carrying thepails, and Rose, a fair-haired, blue-eyed little maiden, trippinglightly beside her. She certainly presented a great contrast inappearance to the gaunt, dark-skinned Indian woman, whose features,through sorrow and hardship, had become prematurely old. I inquired forHugh.

  "Is he not with you?" asked Rose, in a tone of some little alarm. "Hewent off two hours ago, saying that he should be sure to fall in withyou, and would assist in bringing home the game you might have killed."

  "Yes, Hugh would go. What he will he do," said the Indian woman, in thepeculiar way of speaking used by most of her people.

  "He felt so much better in the afternoon that he was eager to go out andhelp you," said Rose. "He thought that Uncle Donald would not be angrywith him, though he had told him to remain at home."

  We soon got back to the house. When Uncle Donald heard where Hugh hadgone, though he expressed no anger, he looked somewhat troubled. Hewaited until Rose had gone out of the room, then he said to me--

  "I noticed, about four miles from home, as we went out in the morning,the marks of a `grizzly,' which had been busy grubbing up a rotten log,but as his trail appeared to lead away up the mountains to the eastwardI did not think it worth my while to chase him; and you having justbefore separated from me, I forgot to mention the fact when you cameback. But vexed would I be if Hugh should have fallen in with thebrute. He's too venturesome at times; and if he fired and only woundedit, I doubt it would be a bad job for him. Don't you let Rose hear aword about the `grizzly,' Archie," he hastily added, as she re-enteredthe room.

  Both Madge and Rose were, however, very anxious when they found thatHugh had not returned with us. There was still an hour or so ofdaylight, and we did not therefore abandon the hope that he would returnbefore dark. Uncle Donald and I were both very hungry, for we had beenin active exercise the whole of the day, and had eaten nothing.

  Madge knowing this set about preparing supper with all haste. She couldnot, however, help running to the door every now and then to ascertainif Hugh were coming. At length Sandy McTavish came in. He wassomething like Uncle Donald in figure, but though not so old, even morewiry and gaunt, looking as if he were made of bone and sinews coveredwith parchment.

  He at once volunteered to set out and look for Hugh.

  "Wait till we get our supper, and Archie and I will go too. What's theuse of man or boy with an empty stomach?" said Uncle Donald.

  "'Deed an' that's true," observed Sandy, helping himself from thetrencher which stood in the centre of the table. "It's a peety youngRed Squirrel isna' here; he would ha' been a grand help if MaisterHugh's missin'. But I'm thinkin' he's no far off, sir. He'll have shotsome beast likely, and be trying to trail it hame; it wud be a shame tohim to hae lost his way! I canna believe that o' Maister Hugh."

  Sandy said this while we were finishing our supper, when, taking downour rifles, with fresh ammunition, and bidding Rose and Madge "cheerup," we three set out in search of Hugh.

  Fortunately the days were long, and we might still hope to discover histrack before darkness closed upon the world.