« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
much ; for, so help me Heaven I would go fourteen miles barefoot in January for a chance to pay off scores upon those same York gentry.” “So would I,” remarked Smith; “for what was your case may soon be mine, unless we all turn out, and drive the scoundrels from the Grants every time they put foot within them. So we must not grudge a little time spent in paying off our debts in this manner, seeing we shall be doing the public a service at the same time. Only think of Warrington | He has spent more than half his time in this way for the last three years; and all he has ever got by it has been to have a price set upon his head.” “They have set a price on my head too,” gloomily resumed the other; * “but as for the Captain, he will have his reward in heaven; while they have made me so savage and murderous in my feelings that I begin to fear that heaven will be no place for me.” “Well, I owe the scamps nothing in particular myself, I believe,” observed Jones; “but not knowing how soon I might, seeing as how I had lately bought a new lot down there near Old Ti, I thought I might as well join you a spell to learn the way and manner of fixing the chaps. And I calculated if any body could show me 't was Captain Charley, who they say is a trifle braver than Julius Caesar, besides having a heart as big as a meeting-house.” “What would you say of Ethan Allen at that rate 2 ” asked Smith, laughing. “Ethan Allen P Lordy why, two Alexanders, with half a dozen Turks thrown in to stiffen the upper lip, would be used up in making the priming to Ethan Allen I But hoo! what in the devil's name has come among us now 2° continued the speaker, pointing to a new figure that had arrived unperceived, and noiselessly taken a station within a few yards of the company. All eyes were now turned to the spot indicated by the words and odd gesticulations of their companion. There stood a young Indian, quietly looking at the company, or rather, after the peculiarity of his race, looking at every thing else but the company, the moment they turned and confronted him. He held a rifle in his hand, while his dress differed but little from the ordinary garb of the settlers.
* The persons outlawed by the New York Assembly, for the apprehension of whom a reward of fifty pounds for each was offered, were Ethan Allen, Seth Warner, Remember Baker, Rob't Cochran, P. Sunderland, S. Brown, J. Smith, and J. Brackenridge.
“ Umph !” he at length exclaimed in the peculiar, jerking guttural of the native Indian; “Massa Cappen — him no here!” “Guessed exactly right, Tawney !” cried Jones, awakening from the momentary surprise into which he, as well as his companions, had been thrown by the unexpected appearance of such a visitor; “but what do you want with the Captain, my beauty P* “ Umph 1 you ask; when me tell, then you know,” quickly replied the Indian, with the apparent object both to evade the question and retort on the interrogator for the manner in which it was put. “Right, again ” exclaimed Smith, pleased at the rebuff thus received by the professed joker of the party ; “here, Jones, let me manage him. Where did you leave your company, friend?” he continued, addressing the native coaxingly — “I conclude there are more of your people somewhere hereabouts 2 ° “Umph!” answered the native with a sarcastic smile; “Now you fraid—scare — why you no run ?”" “Righter than ever !” shouted Jones, laughing heartily in turn at his baffled comrade, who had fared even worse than himself in the rencounter. Other methods were then taken to draw from the Indian his name and business, but without the least success. He either stood mute, or answered with such odd evasions, that they soon gave over the attempt, and called to Selden on the hill, intimating that his presence was needed below. That person, who proved to be second in command in the expedition, as if partly apprized of what was going on, immediately came down and appeared among them. “Leftenant Selden,” said Jones, “they say you can make poetry out of rocks and trees, if you are a mind to — now we want to see what you can make out of this fellow.” “He is very evidently a domesticated Indian,” seriously replied the person addressed, who appeared just then in no humor to relish the jokes of the other. “He probably resides with some family in the vicinity. I think I have heard Warrington speak of meeting one of his description in a hunting adventure in this quarter.” “Well, he inquired for the Captain,” observed Smith. “Then he has some business with him, I presume,” rejoined Selden ; “ some friendly message, perhaps.” “ Umph! that man say it,” said the subject of their discourse, pointing to the former with an expressive and respectful look.
“We will try then to hasten the Captain's return,” observed Selden, and taking from his pocket a sort of whistle, formed from the leg-bone of a deer, he blew a blast whose loud, shrill note was capable of being heard at a great distance. A strict silence of several moments was now observed by the whole party in listening for a reply from their leader, who, it was understood, carried about him a corresponding instrument. At length, instead of a reply from a whistle, the sharp report of a rifle burst from a neighboring glen, and, echoing wildly from cliff to cliff in the surrounding stillness, died slowly away on the distant mountains. “There he is l’” “There goes the Captain's rifle — I should know her voice among a thousand,” simultaneously burst from the lips of several of the company. “Just as I told you,” said Smith; “I knew he would never return empty. That shot, mark me, brought down a deer, which he had in his eye when the Leftenant whistled, and prevented his answering the call, which no small game would.” The event soon proved the truth of the last speaker's conjecture. The heavy, slow tread, as of one carrying some weighty load, now became distinguishable at a distance in the woods, the sounds falling more and more distinctly on the ear every moment, as they approached the spot where the expectant and excited party stood, eagerly straining their eyes to catch the first glimpse of their huntsman leader. At length he emerged from the bushes, bearing a noble buck upon his shoulders. Advancing, amidst the congratulations of his followers, he came up to the spot, and, with the air of one relieved from a heavy burden, threw down his prize to the ground before them. Of the probable age of twenty-six or eight, he was a man of a very fine and even majestic appearance. Though tall and muscular, so compactly and finely set were his limbs, that his contour presented nothing to the eye in the least disproportioned or ungainly. His features seemed to correspond in regularity of formation to the rest of his person, while his countenance was rather of the cool and deliberate cast, indicative, however, of a mild, benevolent disposition, as well as a sound, reflecting intellect. Every development, indeed, whether of his shapely head or manly countenance, went to show a strong, well balanced character, and one capable of action beyond the scope of ordinary men. His dress, which was that of a huntsman, was neat — not rich — but tastefully arranged and well fitted. A mahogany-stocked rifle, richly chased with silver, with small arms partially concealed in his dress, completed his equipments. - .
“Heaven save me from another such jaunt,” were his first words after he had thrown down his load and recovered himself a little ; “a noble buck, indeed, but the chase has been rather a dear one.”
“I don’t see how it could well have been otherwise, Captain,” observed Selden, now evidently in high spirits and disposed for a little merriment—
“Your huntsmen, whenever a deer's in the race,
“Mine has been somewhat dearer, however, I think,” replied the former with an appreciating smile, “ than was necessary to give zest to those savory trout, which, by the way, I am right glad to see so nearly ready for the partaking.” * “Yes,” rejoined the other, glancing round at the Indian, who stood demure and silent in the back-ground, with his face partly averted from the company, “and yet I know not, really, Captain Warrington, but you may have other fish to fry first.” “And just about the oddest fish too that we have caught today, Captain,” said Jones, instantly understanding the allusion of the last speaker; “I rather think he must be a sort of shellfish, from the difficulty we found in getting his mouth open.” “O ho!” exclaimed Warrington, his eye now for the first time resting on the form of the Indian, and his countenance clearing up from the puzzled expression that had come over it for the instant at the enigmatical words of his friends; “a new recruit ! that explains your call, the wherefore I was about to ask—a new recruit of doubtful credentials, eh?” So saying, he advanced to the side of the Indian youth and attentively examined his features; while the object of his scrutiny stood perfectly immovable, and apparently unconscious of the examination he was undergoing, till perceiving by the hesitation of the other that he was not likely to be recognized, he, without looking up, or varying the expression of a single muscle of his face, quietly observed. “Massa Cappen no remember Neshobee—no remember shoot three wolf.” “Aha P” said the other, recalled by the last allusion; the same poor fellow that I so providentially came across, and relieved from that savage pack of wolves last year, on these very mountains? You may well remember that escape, my friend. But it is strange I did not know you.”
“Neshobee hunt all day,” resumed the Indian, intent on rehearsing the event, the remembrance of which seemed to light up his countenance to something like the indications of feeling, and incline him to unusual loquacity; “hunt, hunt—kill no deer — dark come fast. Now hear wolf 'way out there, howl | howl I Now 'way out here, howl howl I Now um come together, howl howl! Now near off, howl! howl I Now me know what um want, and climb small tree quick. Wolf come, five, six, hungry, and lap um mouth. Me shoot; kill one, and go to load um up again — so no think nothing, and drop um rifle low down — wolf jump high, catch um away — now rifle all gone— no get um — wolf get mad fast—bite um tree, gnaw, gnaw, wolf no do so 'fore. Now tree begin shake, shake to fall soon. Now bend, bend, slow 'long down — wolf jump, jump, snap um white teeth, and 'most jest catch um Neshobee. Now hoo! bang! one wolf kick over dead — Cappen out there in the bush. Shoot again, two dead! Shoot again, three dead | Now the rest two wolf begin to mistrust to run away afore they dead too. Now Neshobee come down—stay all night in cave with um Cappen— him overy good, no forget um.”
“Very nearly correct, I believe, Neshobee,” observed Warrington, as the Indian closed his recital, the longest, perhaps, he ever made in his life, for unluckily, it may be, for the romance of our tale, Neshobee was no Logan or Red Jacket, either in length of speech, or that peculiar eloquence, which most of our writers seem to delight in attributing to the sons of the forest; “very nearly correct, but are you out on another hunt in this quarter, or does other business bring you here at this time P”
“No much hunt, me come for.”
“What then P”
“Missus Story talk um on paper for Cappen better nor Neshobee say,” replied the Indian, handing Warrington a small dingy scrap of paper.
The latter, after running hastily over the contents of the billet, which caused his eye to kindle with enthusiasm as he read, immediately turned to the company, and, with a cheerful, animated air observed, “it is from our friend, Widow Story, of the Creek down here, and contains news of interest, my boys — shall I read it to you?”
“Aye, aye, Captain,” was the eager response.