CHILDEEN ON TIE PLAINS.
BY AUNT FKIENDLY.
FREDERICK WARNE AND' CO.,
BEDFOED STEEET, COVEXT GAEDEW.
I. The Decision .... 3
II. The Young Travellers ... 8
III. The Trader 15
IV. A Petition 27
V. In Camp 34
VI. Sunday 42
VII. Fort Kearney . . .49
VIII. The Crossing . . . .57
IX. The Doctress .... 67
X. A Fresh Start .... 82
XL "This Philistine" ... 87
XII. Perdita 92
XIIL Fort Laramie .... 97
XIV. Mrs. Nutten . . . .110
XV. Westward 114
XVI. Salt Lake City . . . .117
XVII. Doubts and Kealities . . .118
XVIII. Home 123
XIX. Conclusion 126
0HE morning light was stealing
gently over the " Great Plains,"
between the Missouri river and
the Rocky mountains.
In the midst of the wide prairie, a com-
pany of emigrants had pitched their camp.
Their white waggons had clustered there,
like a flock of huge birds, the evening
before, and now in the grey dawn the
travellers were already astir. The smoke
of their breakfast fires was slowly curling
upward, and the only half-rested animals
were being harnessed anew to the strong
waggons. There was no spirit of cheerful-
ness and energy abroad in the camp. On
4 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
all sides there were murmurings and bitter
expressions of disappointment.
A few weeks before, that same company
had started from Ohio, full of eagerness
and hope. On a May morning they had
commenced their overland journey to Cali-
fornia, with hearts as bright as the plea-
sant sunshine around them. Their white
waggons were new then, and their horses
were strong with the strength that comes
from good care and proper food. Now, the
waggons were brown with the dust of their
long journey, the poor beasts were tired
out, and the emigrants had lost all their
hope and courage.
One after another among them had been
stricken with cholera, and they had dotted
the road along which they had passed with
the fresh graves of their companions.
When fairly on the plains, their diffi-
culties had daily increased, and the fatal
disease seemed gaining ground among
them. That night they had come to a
decision. It was but five days since they
passed Fort Leavenworth ; they would go
no further into the wilderness. They
would turn back to the States, and ex-
change their golden dreams of California
THE DECISION. 5
for hard work once more, and a home of
There was not a dissenting voice in the
whole company when the return was pro-
posed, yet all were dissatisfied, all were
Every face was scowling with discon-
tent, and not a little harsh language rose
on the still air of that early morning.
We have said every face, but we must
except two young countenances, of which
we shall presently know more.
While stout men and sturdy women
were busy about most of the waggons,
round one, two children were occupied.
Curtis Sumner, a boy of thirteen, was
harnessing four mules for the journey,
while his sister Ruth was carrying out his
orders in the inner arrangement of the
Curtis and Ruth were favourites in the
company; partly because they were the
only children among the emigrants, and
partly because they had been left mother-
less a week before, and so seemed to have
a peculiar claim upon their fellow-travellers.
It had been a grievous trial to Ruth to
leare the way- side grave where her mother
t> THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
was laid ; but she had that sainted mother's
parting command to fulfil, and this thought
had given her resolution to go forward on
her fatiguing journey. "Tell your father
I hope to meet him in heaven," the dying
wife had said; and Euth believed in her
heart that her erring father in California
would hear this message, and take home
its lesson to the good of his soul. On
this thought the little girl had dwelt as
Curtis wiped away her tears, and promised
to be the best of brothers to her, now that
she was left wholly to his care.
The manly spirit of the boy, and Ruth's
gentle, quiet ways, had daily won upon the
emigrants, and there were many now to
offer to assist them in their preparations,
and to talk encouragingly to them of " going
" We have no home, now," Ruth was
about to say, but she was silent, as she
thought of the " happy home " her mother
was already enjoying, and where she hoped, ,
some day, to be welcomed. She would bear
all present trials cheerfully, always keeping
that Home in view, and so she would never
The preparations for departure were all
THE DECISION. 7
made. The line of waggons stretched along
the road, and but one more remained to
close the gloomy procession. " Come,
Curtis, follow up!" cried a hoarse voice
from one of the vehicles.
Curtis drove his mules on to the road,
but turned their heads in a different di-
rection from what was expected. " We
are going on to California. We see no
reason for turning back ! Our father will
be expecting us," said Curtis. The news
passed on from waggon to waggon, and
there was a general expression of disapproval.
A number of the emigrants clustered
about Curtis, and strove to dissuade him
from his rash undertaking.
The boy was firm. He had a bold, de-
termined spirit. He feared neither death
nor danger ; and he would not give up his
undertaking. As for Ruth, arguments were
wasted upon her. She had her mother's
message to deliver, and she would rather
have died on the spot than have given up
the hope of the great good she fancied this
message was to effect.
"Well, you are your own master, I sup-
pose, and must have your own way," said
the rough farmer, who had first spoken to
8 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
Curtis. " You must take your own chance;
but I feel for Sis, here. I had rather see
her safe back in the States. Here, dear,
take my brandy -bottte; and my medicine -
box, too ; and, dear, keep up a good heart,
and may be you'll get across safe after
all ! "
The rough fellow thrust his gifts into
the waggon, wrung Euth's hand till it
ached, and then, wiping tears from his eyes,
even while he gave a disapproving look at
Curtis, he turned away.
The others followed his example. The
long line of waggons moved slowly towards
the east, while westward, towards the wil-
derness, went Curtis and his sister. Their
choice was made ; they were alone on the
" Plains," with only God for their friend.
THE YOUNG TRAVELLERS.
j|HERE was nothing romantic in the
appearance of Curtis and Ruth
Sumner and their travelling equi-
page. Curtis was but a tall, frank-
faced boy, clothed in a suit of coarse grey
THE YOUNG TRAVELLERS.
cloth, and handling the reins like one used
to the office, and skilled in country occupa-
Kuth, in her brown dress, plaid shawl,
and close gingham sun-bonnet, sat up at
his side, looking like the very child of a
western farmer, that she was.
The waggon itself was a great lumbering
vehicle, whose outward beauty was not in-
creased by the chicken-coop attached to it
behind, or by the various baskets that hung
from its sides.
The four mules must not be forgotten in
the description. The two leaders, Bob and
Jerry, were a fine, sleek pair of animals,
that looked strong and well-fed, even after
the fatigues they had undergone. Of the
other pair, not as much that is favourable
can be said. Joe was full of years, full of
brown callous spots, and was supposed t.s
be as full of discretion. Indeed, he needed
much of the latter quality to keep in order
the undue vivacity, viciousness, and obsti-
nacy of his companion John, a young, half-
broken creature, who could not have been
trusted in the company at all, but for the
safeguard of the good behaviour of his x
10 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
Curtis had an attachment to every in-
dividual of the team, and as he started
them off at a good round pace, he called
Euth's attention to their various merits, as
unconcernedly as if he and his sister were
setting out for a pleasure drive on an Ohio
Curtis did not feel quite as much at ease
as he wished to appear, but he thought an
off-hand way of talking the best means of
keeping up Ruth's courage at this trying
Curtis might have kept his remarks to
himself, for all the advantage they were to
Ruth. At that instant she was seeking a
surer source of strength, and staying herself
npon a better consolation.
It was a relief to the little girl to escape
from the rough people with whom she had
been so many days associated. Their coarse,
profane language, and loud, boisterous ways,
had been most unwelcome to her, particu-
larly at a time when she peculiarly realized
the presence of the God who hateth iniquity,
and will not have his name dishonoured.
Now a sweet peace was stealing over her
heart. In the quiet of the early morning
she could lift up her soul to God, and trust
THE YOUNG TRAVELLERS. 11
herself and her future entirely to Him.
The " Plains" they were crossing, the world
through which they must pass she dreaded
neither, with God as her friend.
One look at Ruth had satisfied Curtis as
to the way in which she was occupied, and
he relapsed into silence.
Beside his mother's grave Curtis had
breathed his first real prayer. The good
seed that mother had faithfully sown, had
not sprung to life until watered by the warm
tears shed when she was no more. Curtis
meant to be a Christian. He had really
begun heartily, but he was a stranger to
serious thought, and it was hard for him to
keep to his new resolutions. He longed to
feel as Ruth did, and wondered if he ever
" Ruth," he said, after a moment's pause,
" suppose you sing a hymn for us to start
Ruth's face brightened. Such a proposal
from her brother was most welcome. Curtis
had said nothing about his new and better
wishes, but Ruth fancied he was touched as
he had never been before, and now his re-
quest was hailed as still another indication
of a new sympathy existing between them.
12 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
Ruth had a sweet, bird-like voice, and
now it sounded out over the wide prairie, as
from her heart she sang,
" Children of the Heavenly King,
As we journey let us sing;
Sing the Saviour's worthy praise,
Wondrous in his works and ways."
Hymn after hymn Euth poured forth, as
the waggon moved steadily along ; at length
she paused for a moment, and was recalled
from her sweet thoughts to a full sense of
their present condition.
" Look," said Curtis , " they are all out
Curtis drew up the reins, and Ruth leaned
forward and looked out on all sides of her.
The returning emigrants were no longer to
be seen. In every direction the wide prairie
.swept away, in great waves, like a ground-
swell on the ocean. Not a tree nor a shrub,
nor even a rock, rose to vary the far-reach-
ing landscape. The beaten emigrant road,
winding across the plain, was the only trace
the foot of man had left in that wilderness.
A sudden feeling of loneliness and deso-
lation came over Ruth, like a cloud.
At that moment a small object near the
road attracted her attention. She motioned
THE YOUXG TRAVELLERS. 13
to Curtis to be silent. Across the track
flitted a prairie-hen, followed by her little
There was something so home-like in the
look of the little family, that it gave Ruth
a feeling of comfort and companionship. It
had, too, for her a better message : it told
of Him who keepeth His children under the
*' shadow of His wings," and is as mighty,
as He is loving, to protect.
From that time every living creature that
she saw by the wayside, every flower that
caught her eye, were to Ruth indications of
the presence of the great Creator. She felt
that He was in the wilderness with her, and
she was sustained.
Curtis and Ruth were not to lose the
sound of human voices, even on those
dreary plains. That day they met, first,
a little company, with a sick man in a
waggon, going slowly back to the States ;
then a large party of emigrants on the
same homeward track, pale, thin, and dis-
They had sad tales to tell of days passed
without water, and dying companions, be-
moaning the hour that had tempte.d them
to leave their homes.
14 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
" Turn back ! Turn back ! Turn back
for your lives ! " was the advice that the
children heard from all whom they met.
Curtis looked at Kuth. There was quiet
determination in her eye as she said, calmly,
" We will go on."
Curtis had a wilful obstinacy of pur-
pose, which made him always unwilling to
abandon anything he had undertaken, and
now he was most anxious to go forward.
Ruth, however, was looking pale and weary,
and Curtis, for the first time, questioned as
to whether he was doing right to expose
her to the hardships from which strong
men turned back affrighted.
" Mother expected to have gone through
it all. Mother chose to take me with her.
I have her message to give to father. We
must go on." This was Euth's only reply
to Curtis's offer to join the returning
company, and give up the undertaking
Four and five times that day waggons
came from the west and passed on to the
east, yet Curtis and his sister no more
spoke of returning. Others might be dis-
couraged and go back their voice was
THE TRADER. 15
THZN" K we must have travelled
thirty miles to-day," said Ruth,
as Curtis drew up beside a
small stream at nightfall.
"You girls always make out big stories.
I don't believe it is more than fifteen. John
has pulled back as much as forward; and
if it hadn't been for old Joe, I believe we
should have stopped altogether, at least,
until Bob and Jerry smelt the water. See
how glad they are to get a drink ! "
The little stream was as refreshing a
sight to Curtis and Ruth as it seemed to
be to the tired animals. After a good long
draught of the clear water, Ruth prepared
to get supper.
"This is an old camping-ground," said
Curtis, looking about him as if he were
saying something very wise, whereas he
was uttering only a self-evident fact.
There were various articles of household
furniture strewed about the spot, as well
as gardening implements, bags of beans,
16 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
and band-boxes. In the midst of the con-
fusion was set up a cooking- stove, which
some emigrant had found heavy freight for
so long a journey, and had discarded by the
way. There it stood, as well furnished with
pots, pans, and pokers, as if it had been in
a farmer's kitchen.
Ruth laughed to see herself so provided
for, and Curtis went to work to knock up
a discarded chair for fire-wood. The chicken
that Curtis had killed by the way, Ruth
had nicely picked as they rode along, and
now it was soon stewing over the fire,
while the children congratulated themselves
on having found out so good a camping-
" Quite like a home it seems, doesn't it ? "
exclaimed Curtis, cheerily. The thought of
home brought tears at once to Ruth's eyes.
Home without her mother seemed an im-
possible thing to her.
Curtis had no time to think of Ruth's
tears, for at that moment the sound of
wheels attracted his attention. Turning
quickly, he saw a long train of waggons
coming from the west along the emigrant
road. Ruth dreaded the sight of human
beings more than she did solitude. The
THE TRADER. 17
company of the rough men of the emigrant
parties was worse to her than any loneli-
ness. She feared, too, their influence upon
her brother, who was quite too ready to use
the odd language he heard.
Euth hoped the waggons would pass on,
and leave their little camp unnoticed ; but
it was soon evident that their leader had
no such intention. A small, strongly-built
man, in the loose dress of a hunter, rode
at the head of the train. At a signal from
him the whole procession stopped, and then
arranged itself into a circle round the spot
where the children were preparing their
The waggons were chained together so
closely as to form a strong protection
against any enemies, and but one opening
was left to the enclosure.
" Are you the ' Babes in the Wood ?' " said
the leader of the party, speaking to the
children in English, but with a strong
" No, sir ! " said Curtis, with an air of
" Where are you bound ? " continued the
questioner, chucking Ruth familiarly under
18 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
" We are going to California, to meet our
father. Our mother died a week ago on
the way, and the company we were with
got discouraged and turned back," answered
Euth calmly, though her heart beat very
fast, and the tears were in her eyes.
" And you mean to go alone ! Well, you
have good pluck," said the man kindly.
" Young Mister, there, had better look out,
though, or he'll have the stiffness taken out
of him before he gets many days further
Curtis made no reply, but pretended to
busy himself about the waggon.
Euth was left in possession of the cooking
stove for her operations, the new comers
preferring to make a fire on the ground,
after their own fashion.
When Euth and Curtis had taken their
supper in the waggon, Curtis began to walk
about the enclosure, and to make the ac-
quaintance of the men. He soon learned
that the leader of the party was Monsieur
Collot, a French trader, who was on his
way to Missouri. The waggons were loaded
with buffalo hides, which M. Collot would
easily dispose of as soon as he got to the
THE TRADER. 19
With the arrangements of the waggons
Curtis was particularly pleased. He said
it seemed quite like a fort.
" Yes, and a strong one, too," replied one
of the men. " We were attacked by a party
of Indians two nights ago, but we were
cordlled as you see, and we beat them back,
and never lost a man, nor even an ox, in
Curtis felt a little strangely at the thought
of such enemies being so near at hand, and
yet he half wished he might meet some of
the savages, so strong was his boyish love
While Curtis was learning all he could
from the party, Ruth was sitting on the
front seat of the waggon, peering out at the
strange scene around her. Darkness was
creeping slowly on, and already the figures
round the fire had a wild, fantastic air in
"What do you think of us?" said M.
Collot's voice, close in Kuth's ear.
She turned suddenly, and saw the stranger
at her side.
" I was wondering to see these people all
look so cheerful, and seem to know so wel?
how to manage," replied Euth, truthfully.
20 THE CHILDREN OX THE PLAINS.
" They don't do things like the raw emi-
grants who turned back, chicken-hearted,
then ? " said the trader, smiling. " They
are old hands at the business. This is not
their first time crossing the ' Plains.' Ex-
perience is the best teacher."
" That is just what mother used to say,"
said Euth, looking into the stranger's face
more trustfully than before.
"A very nice mother, I guess she was,"
remarked M. Collot, with an approving
glance at Euth.
Euth's tongue was set at liberty by this
remark, and with all the enthusiasm of her
loving nature, she spoke of her mother's
sweetness and patience, her industry and
her piety. Such a picture as Euth drew
of their pleasant home in Ohio, fairly made
the wandering trader's mouth water for the
pleasures he had never known.
Euth was just in the midst of describing
the honeysuckle by the pantry window, that
grew almost as fast as Jack's bean in the
story, when M. Collot interrupted her :
" What made you leave such a sweet
place, chicky? Why, if ever I get into
such a safe harbour, I shall know when I
am well off, and stay there."
THE TRADER. 21
"My father," said Euth, colouring and
hesitating " My father had gone to Cali-
fornia, and we did not hear from him for a
good while, and then he wrote for us to
come to him. Mother said we ought to go,
and she wanted to go I am sure. She never
shed a tear, though I cried when I went
round the place the last time, and bade
good-bye to everybody, even to the cows
and the pigs and the ducks. We had sold
them all ; we brought the chickens with us
my ' banties ' too. I never could eat
them, they seem so like people. When I
hear them in the coop, then I feel almost
as if I were at home again."
" I'll tell you what you'd better do," said
M. Collot. "What is your name?"
" Ruth Euth Simmer," was the quick
" Well, Euth Sumner, you had better
turn right round, and go back among folks
that know you. Your father has got wild-
like, out there, I dare say, and won't care
much about having children round him. To
my thinking, you had better give up, and
turn back with us. I won't leave St. Louis
till I see you well started for Ohio, or looked
out for there, if you like it better.
22 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
Ruth's face was very serious as she an-
swered : " Mother said if father wanted us,
we must go to him ; and besides, I think
when he hears how mother died, with such
a smile on her face, and the word she sent
to him, he'll be a different man. Oh, sir,
I'd go through a great deal to see that day."
" You love your father, then ! " said the
trader, with surprise.
" Indeed, I do ! Why, if he was only a
good Christian man, he'd be the best father
in the world! I've heard mother say so,
often. She said, we would not any of us be
worth anything if God did not help us to do
"I am not worth much, then!" said M.
"Don't you pray to God?" asked Ruth,
" No, child !" was the short answer.
" Have you a Bible ? " said Ruth, who
began to have a vague feeling that she was
talking with a heathen.
" No !" said M. Collot, with another laugh.
" I will give you one," said Ruth, very
seriously ; " Curtis will let me read in his ,
and you shall have mine here it is."
Ruth drew from her pocket a small Bible,
THE TRADER. 23
well marked, where her Sunday-school les-
sons had been learned, or texts that had
pleased her well.
" See, it has my name in it ; but you need
not mind that. Won't you read it every
day ? you may die on the Plains, as mother
" You are a queer child," said the trader,
taking E/uth's offered gift : " What you say
is true. The day may come when I shall
be glad to be like your mother. May be
I'll look into it, now and then." The trader
now turned away, and was soon one among
the group, taking supper round the fire.
Ruth had new food for thought, a new
subject for prayer.
As she looked up to the clear skies,
where the stars were already twinkling, it
seemed strange to her that any one could
live in God's wor]d, and not love him. Very
earnestly she prayed for the trader and his
While the glow of the fire still lighted the
enclosure, Ruth saw the trader take the
book from his pocket and glance curiously
With this pleasant thought in her mind,
Ruth went to the lower end of the waggon,
24 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
dropped the curtain that shut in her small
sleeping apartment, and lay down to rest.
It was late before Curtis returned to the
waggon. The stories of the hunters were
full of interest to him, and then he wanted,
too, to see the little camp arranged for the
night. He waited until the horses and
cattle of the trader were driven into the
enclosure, and the entrance barred. Then,
with the noisy cries of the animals in his
ears, he lay down to sleep.
Curtis was almost disappointed when he
woke in the morning, to find that the night
had passed away so peacefully, when matters
were in so good a condition for a defence
against savages and wild beasts. Ruth's
waking thoughts were far different. Her
first act was an uplifting of a grateful heart
to the God who had preserved her through
the night, and to whose care she trusted
herself for the coming day.
There was no unnecessary noise and dis-
turbance in Lhe breaking up of M. Collet's
camp. The thing was done promptly and
quietly, and before the sun was fairly up,
the waggons were ranged along the road,
ready for departure.
" You had better lighten your load here,
THE TRADER. 25
Curtis," said the trader, familiarly. " Throw
out everything but your food, powder, medi-
cine, and the few clothes you need ; all the
rest is trash, to be parted with sooner or
" We haven't much else," said Curtis ;
" and as to powder, that would be of no use
to us, as we have no gun."
" Out with the books, every one, and that
great heavy trunk there ; what's in it ? "
" Only our crockery. It is packed very
nicely," said Ruth, deprecatingly.
" Leave it here with the cooking-stove,"
said M. Collot, in a tone of command. " I
can't somehow see you young folks setting
out without lending you a helping hand."
Euth had to see Curtis and M. Collot lifting
out the trunk of crockery, and putting it
beside the stove in the wilderness. The
books, her mother's Pilgrim's Progress
and Baxter's Saints' Best no, she could
not part with them, and a few others the
sweet memorials of her mother's devoted
"Now, then," said M. Collot, when the
load h^.l been lightened, "now, Curtis, I am
going to make you a present. This rifle I
found by the road ; some.poor'/fellow lost it
26 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
on the river's bank, where he was going to
swim across. Can you shoot, sir?"
" Let me try," said Curtis, eagerly.
The first shot met M. Collot's approval,
though John testified his entire dissatisfaction
at the proceeding; and would have carried
Ruth off the premises but for old Joe's
" There, now, the mule is right you
ought to be moving. I never stood so long
before, after all was ready for a start. Take
the rifle, boy, and this powder and ball.
They may stand you in good stead. Now,
good-bye to you good-bye, my chicky."
" Good-bye please read the good Book !"
said Euth. M. Collot took the little volume
from his pocket, and waved it, as he mounted
his horse and rode away to head the long
procession moving slowly down the road.
Ruth followed him with a prayer.
Wandering in the West there are hun-
dreds of such men, who never pray, who
never read the Word of God. Heathen they
are, in a Christian land. Is there no way
of sending the Bible among them ? Is there
no one to tell them of the " pearl of great
CHAPTER IV. ,
iURTIS quite enjoyed being the head
of his own little party. It was amu-
sing to see how readily he had
caught M. Collet's manner; and
through all the day the quick sharp tones of
the Frenchman were heard in his voice when
speaking to the mules, and even in giving
his orders to Ruth. Orders, we say, for
Curtis assumed it as a self-evident fact,
that being two years older than Ruth, and
moreover a boy, she was bound to obey him
on all occasions. Ruth did not prove an
unruly subject, and it was not Curtis's fault
if she formed habits of idleness along the
" M. Collot says it is a good plan to carry
all your money about you," said Curtis,
thoughtfully; "he spoke of having gold
pieces stitched into a belt round his waist,
under his clothes. Could you make such a
" I dare say I could," said Ruth, bright-
28 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
" Take that stout pair of duck pants of
mine, and make the belt out of it," said
" Are they not too good to cut up ? "
Euth modestly asked.
" We must not load ourselves with useless
baggage. Everything must be turned to
the best account," said Curtis, looking very
wise. " Make the belt, Kuth. That is the
girl's part of the business."
" Hadn't I better make two one for you,
and one for me ? " again asked Ruth.
" Of course not ! " replied Curtis.
Ruth said no more. She took out her
great calico needle-book, and began her
work at once. The mules were moving
slowly over hilly ground, and the little
seamstress got on very well, making light
of various pricks with the needle, which
dotted the belt with red spots, though she
did not mention them.
Ruth had just finished the belt, when she
" Curtis ! Curtis ! Look ! Look across
the plain to the north-west !"
"I see only a few trees," said Curtis,
jumping up at her side.
" No ; they move ! " said Ruth, decidedly.
A PETITION. 29
"Give me my rifle!" said Curtis,
promptly. The rifle was at his side, and
he took it up himself, though he seemed
to prefer to give out the order.
Curtis had hardly loaded his rifle before
the indistinct objects in the distance had be-
come plainly defined as human beings mov-
ing rapidly towards the solitary waggon.
" They are Indians I am sure of that ! "
said Curtis, excitedly.
Kuth felt her blood chill, but she calmed
herself with the remembrance that her
Saviour was beside her.
" Drive quietly on, Curtis ; perhaps they
will take no notice of us !" said Kuth.
" No such thing ! I mean to shoot down
the first man that comes within ten yards
of us ! "
" Oh, Curtis, that would be murder. You
are not sure they mean to harm us !" said
Ruth. " Only wait and see what they will
The half-dressed beings were certainly
Indians. On they came, with a long, loping
motion, half run and half walk, and were
soon very near the waggon.
Curtis stood up and pointed his rifle
directly at the foremost of the party.
30 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
The savage did not flinch. He merely
said, calmly, his only English word,
" Friends !" and put out, at the same time,
a paper, as if he wished it to be read.
Curtis told Euth to take out a fishing-
pole that was lying along the edge of the
waggon. " Hold it out, Euth, for him to
put the paper on the end, while I keep my
eye on him."
Euth did as she was bid. The Indian
understood her meaning, and placed the
paper on the pole, and Euth slowly drew it
It proved to be a petition, written by
some traveller, begging all who passed
through this part of the country to give
something to the poor Indians, whose wood
they were burning, and whose home they
Euth read the paper aloud.
"Pshaw !" said Curtis, impatiently.
But Euth remonstrated : " I have heard
my mother say we owed the Indians a great
deal, and ought to be kind to them. She
said we should not teach them to be Chris-
tians by using them unkindly. .
" We have no provisions to spare ! " said
A PETITION. 31
The Indians meanwhile looked on, as if
understanding the nature of the discussion.
"I will give them my bantams," said
Euth. Her fears seemed to vanish with
the kind thought, and Curtis was surprised
to see her get down from the waggon, and
go to the chicken-coop in the rear. Un-
locking it, she took out her white bantams,
and carried them to the Indian, at whom
Curtis' s rifle was still aimed.
The pretty white creatures were received
with a shout by the Indians, and a grunt of
gratitude addressed to Euth.
Euth caressed her pets as she parted with
them, and the men seemed to understand
that she was giving them something precious
to herself. They looked at Curtis with a
slight frown, but on Euth they cast most
Euth had had a deaf and dumb friend in
Ohio, and she was familiar with the language
of signs. She did not find it difficult to
understand that the Indians were pleased
with her, and that they wanted to know why
she was not afraid of them, like the boy.
Euth stopped for a moment. Then she
looked up into the clear sky, as if in prayer.
Then she made the movement as if she
32 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
would say, " The Great Spirit holds me in
his arms like a little babe, and I am safe."
To her surprise, they seemed to take her
idea at once, and looked upon her with
Ruth's surprise would have been less if
she had known how largely the Indians use
the language of signs. They have inter-
preters among them, who go everywhere
communicating with all tribes, by the simple
use of signs.
Curtis lowered his rifle as he saw his
sister thus fearlessly holding intercourse
with the Red men of the West.
Taking down a piece of bacon that hung
from the side of the waggon, he held it
out to the leader of the party, with a most
The savage seemed a little suspicious of
this overture. He leaped forward, seized
the offered gift, and then bounded away
across the prairie, followed by his com-
"Poor creatures!" said Ruth, compas-
sionately, as she perched up again at Curtis's
side. " They are as harmless as the old
Indians who used to bring round their
baskets in Ohio."
A PETITION. 33
"Yes, these chaps seem of a friendly
tribe," said Curtis ; " but, Euth, you would
do well not to risk yourself quite so freely
among them. The next may be of another
sort. You would not relish having your
scalp taken off."
Euth shuddered, but she answered, "I
don't suppose it is as much matter as we
think it how we die, Curtis, if we only trust
ourselves to the Saviour. I wish these poor
Indians knew and loved Him as we do ! "
" As you do," said Curtis, humbly. " I
am but little better than they are, I fear."
" Oh, Curtis ! Do not say so ! You are
trying to love Him, I am sure," said Euth,
" Sometimes, Euth ; but I forget all about
it when I get interested in anything else,"
was the reply.
" We need His protection so constantly
here, that it will help to keep Him in mind.
Won't it, Curtis ? That will be one good
thing about this journey for US'"' said Euth ;
and she looked into her brother's face, with
one of her sweet, winning smiles.
34 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
j|EAVELLEES crossing the Plains
learn to rejoice at the sight of trees,
not only for their welcome shade,
but because they only grow on the
banks of the streams.
For several days Curtis and Euth had
been passing through a beautiful region,
where the rolling plains were varied by
winding streams, edged by oak, elm, and
walnut-trees. The thirsty mules had en-
joyed the cool waters, and the children had
become so accustomed to driving through
the shallow rivers, that Euth no longer held
fast to the side of the waggon, and grew
pale, as they went down the sloping banks.
The evening of the fifth day of the children's
lonely journey was coming on.
" How fortunate that we are just at this
pretty place, the very spot for a camp !" said
Euth, looking about her with pleasure.
" Don't cry till you get out of the woods ;
we have the river yet to cross," said Curtis.
" Now for it !" and he urged the mules into
The Big Vermilion, at this spot, is two
hundred feet wide and three feet deep, and
as the current is strong the crossing is no
easy matter. Joe and Jerry held up their
heads wildly, and John straightened himself
back, as if determined not to try such an
uncertain business, at least with the waggon
behind him. John had to give in, how-
ever, for the other three mules were obe-
dient to Curtis' s voice and the touch of his
After some plunging in the miry bottom
they came safely across, and then Curtis
was willing to join with E/uth in praising
their camping-ground. Near a fine spring
of water they unharnessed the mules, and
began to make preparations for supper.
"I am nearly tired of salt meat," said
Curtis. " I wish you hadn't given the ban-
tams away, Ruth."
" We should not have had them now, at
any rate," said Ruth, laughing. ''You can't
keep your cake and eat your cake. Come,
I'll frizzle the ham, just as we used to have
it at home, and that will be a variety."
While Ruth was going on with her cooking
36 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
operations, Curtis was exploring the spot
they had selected for the night's rest.
He soon came back with his eyes full of
delight. " Why the trees here," he ex-
claimed, " are as good as the ' books ' at a
hotel, to tell who has stopped here ; and
whose name do you think I have found ?"
" Not father's !" exclaimed Ruth, eagerly.
" Yes, father's cut in an oak tree, just
as plain as can be. Come and see it."
There was the inscription, " Thomas Sum-
ner, 1846, bound for California, famously
well, in good spirits, but tired of salt
meat ! "
"That's father, exactly full of fun," said
Curtis, passing his knife along the letters,
and freshening some that were becoming
indistinct. " Here, we'll put ours just below,
and say, what shall I say for the benefit
of those that come after ? "
" Say, that by the kind care of our heavenly
Father, we are still safe and well," said Ruth,
" Yes," said Curtis. " How is it, Ruth,
that you always think such good things ?"
"I don't, always, Curtis. It is more
mother's teaching than anything else, that
makes me have such thoughts. Don't you
IN CAMP. 37
remember when aaything pleasant happened
to her, how she was sure to say, ' Thanks
to our heavenly Father ?' "
Curtis had not finished his inscription,
when the twilight made his work difficult,
and Ruth called him to supper.
" I shall get up early to finish the carving.
I must leave our names with the people's
who have passed here. Why, there must
be at least five thousand names here on
the trees ! I mean to tell just how old we
are ; that will make folks stare ! " said
Ruth thought it was of small importance
whether " folks stared " or not, but she
wisely refrained from saying so. Ruth kept
out of many a quarrel by taking no notice
of Curtis's foolish speeches, a lesson many
a sister might learn to advantage. When
Curtis awoke in the early morning he found
Bob and Jerry enjoying themselves rolling
on the grass, while Joe was quietly feeding.
John, however, was performing some ex-
traordinary gambols, which seemed more
like movements of pain than pleasure, and
so they proved.
All John's unwillingness to go in the
right direction and his fretting against his
38 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
harness, had worked to his disadvantage.
His back and neck were terribly galled, and
it was plain that, for that day at least, he was
not fit for use.
" We shall have to stop here to let John
recruit," said Curtis, in his decided way.
" Couldn't you r^-^^e to tie him behind
the waggon, and so not lose any time ? "
If Curtis had thought of the plan himself
he might have adopted it, but as it was he
did not wish to take Ruth's suggestion;
that would be an acknowledgment of infe-
riority for which he was not quite ready.
Curtis, too, was a passionate lover of fishing,
and he thought a day of rest, sitting under
the trees, with his pole and line over the
water, would be by no means disagreeable.
So it was decided that there was to be no
moving on that day.
Ruth determined to do a great deal of
mending, and to bake bread enough to last
for three or four days at least.
This matter of bread-making was a slow
process for Ruth, as she had but a Dutch
oven, or bake-pan, to bake it in, and made
it in small cakes, raised with soda and
" cream of tartar."
IN CAMP. 39
She was more than half the morning busy
around the fire ; but when her labour was
over, she called Curtis to see what a fine
basket of bread she had laid in for their
Curtis, meanwhile, had his treasures to
show. He had caught three large cat-fish
and a soft- shelled turtle, so the children had
quite a feast, and grew as merry as if they
were not alone in the wilderness.
Alone they took care to be, though hun-
dreds of emigrants passed along the road
As soon as it was decided that they were
not to move on, they had changed their
camping-ground to a more secluded spot,
among the trees, where they would not be
questioned by the various passers-by.
These interviews with the emigrant
trains were sore trials to Ruth, and she
was glad to be one day off the road, to
When all signs of the feast had been
cleared away, Ruth took out her calico
needle-book, and began to work at Curtis's
coat, which needed mending.
" Won't you read to me, while I work ? "
she said, as she handed Curtis the Bible.
40 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
" If you say so," said Curtis, with an un-
Curtis was in the midst of the story of
Joseph, when he started up, saying, "I
must take a little run on the prairie, Ruth ;
I am tired out, sitting here."
Ruth took the book from him with a
sweet smile, and said, "Well, go then; I
will sit here quietly till you come back."
Ruth was lost in some of the beautiful
chapters of St. John, when Curtis came
running up to her, with his cap in his hand.
"See! see!" he exclaimed. "Did yon
ever see finer wild strawberries than,
these ? " The red, juicy fruit did look most
tempting, and the brother and sister en-
joyed them heartily together.
"I say, Ruth," broke forth Curtis, "I
say, I believe I am quite cross to you some-
times, and I don't mean to be. I love yon
dearly, and I want to be very good to you,
but somehow, hateful things come in my
mind to say. I was angry when you asked
me to read to you a little while ago. Ruth,
I don't love the Bible as you do, and I don't
know what's to make me."
" You will have to ask God to help you,
or you can never do what is right, or love
IN CAMP. 41
what is good and true," said Euth, gently.
" Do you ever pray to Him, Curtis ?"
"Not exactly. To tell the truth, Euth,
when I try to pray, I can't think what to
say; and sometimes when I am trying to
begin, my mind goes clear off, and I forget
what I am about."
Euth replied, modestly : " I always say
this prayer, every morning, It seems to
ask for just what I want : ' Almighty God,
who through thine only begotten Son, Jesus
Christ, hast overcome death and opened
unto us the gate of everlasting life : I
humbly beseech Thee, that as by Thy spe-
cial grace Thou dost put into my mind good
desires, so by Thy continual help I may
bring the same to good effect, through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth
with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one
God, world without end. Amen.' Mother
taught me that prayer one day, when I
said something to her like what you spoke
of just now. Then there is the Lord's
Prayer, that says, you know, 'lead us not
into temptation, and deliver us from evil.' "
" Yes yes," said Curtis, hesitatingly, as
if still unsatisfied, or unconvinced of his
42 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
" Suppose we pray together, every night
and morning. Would you like that, Curtis ? "
said Kuth, in a low voice.
" I should," was the brother's only reply.
That night, when the stars began to
twinkle in the sky, Euth and Curtis knelt,
side by side, under the lofty trees ; and
while Euth raised her voice in prayer,
Curtis strove to join her in his heart.
iUETIS was waked the next morn-
ing by hearing Euth singing,
" Welcome, sweet day of rest," in
ner own cheerful way.
"Why, it is Sunday, I declare!" said
Curtis to himself. The thought was not a
pleasant one to him, for he had made up
his mind to go on, whether John was able
to bear the harness or not.
" Euth," was Curtis's morning salutation,
" I think we had better go on to-day. We
took one day of rest yesterday. It really
makes very little difference whether we sit
here under the trees, or sit in the waggon ;
we can be as Sundayish when we are moving
as when we are at rest."
" I am sure you are not in earnest," said
Euth, anxiously. " You know what mother
thought about keeping holy the Sabbath-
" I really don't see any difference. You
can read to me if you like, along the road ;
and we can't go to church any way, so
where' s the odds?"
"We are commanded to let the cattle
rest on the Sabbath-day," said Euth. " It
would not be resting for the poor mules
to be dragging along to-day, just as usual."
" The poor mules, indeed ! Look at them,
now," said Curtis, laughing.
The mules were evidently enjoying them-
selves to their hearts' content. Even Old
Joe was rolling away on the grass, then
indulging himself in some bounds that
must have reminded* him of the days of his
youth. John looked on enviously, but did
not seem in a mood to join his companions
in their merry-making.
"John, at least, needs another day's
rest," urged Euth.
"Pshaw!" was Curtis's reply.
" Brother," said Euth, decidedly, " you
44 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
are older and stronger than I am, and wiser
in many ways. In most things I think it
right to yield to you, but now I must have
my way. I should not dare to be here, in
the midst of so many dangers, if I did not
trust in the God who watches over all who
love Him and try to serve Him. How
could I expect Him to watch over me, if I
were breaking one of His commandments ?
Brother, I will not go on to-day. I am
sure you will not go and leave me here
" Of course not !" said Curtis, crossly.
This was not a pleasant beginning for
Sunday morning. This was a sad contrast
with the joint prayer of the evening before,
which had sent such peace into Ruth's
heart. Curtis had little to say to Ruth
through the morning. He wandered about
picking strawberries, or casting envious
eyes at the trains of travellers which passed
along the distant road.
Ruth, meanwhile, had her own Sunday
joy. She knew that she had done her
duty, and she felt sure that the loving eye
of God was upon her.
She had her dear little Prayer-book with
her ; and as she knelt under the tall trees
in that lonely spot, it was joy to her
to know that she was speaking the same
prayers that were going heavenward from
many true Christian hearts at that very
Her simple hymns she was sure would
be as welcome to the heavenly King as
if she were joining in the singing of the
Euth's Bible was full of comfort to her
that day, and as she read of the New Jeru-
salem, she fancied she could feel some of
the joy of that glad home, where tears shall
be for ever wiped away.
Ruth was too happy to mind Curtis' s
sullen looks when he came at mid-day to
share the simple repast prepared for him.
" How pleasant it is that the sun is
under a cloud just now," said Ruth, cheerily.
"A cloud that's likely to give us a wet-
ting," said Curtis, looking anxiously about
him. " We must take shelter in the wag-
The storm rose very fast. The black
clouds rolled up the sky, like smoke before
the breeze. The distant thunder muttered,
then came nearer and nearer, while the
incessant lightning glared fearfully over
46 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
the landscape. The wind broke suddenly
on the stillness. A fierce, wild hurricane it
proved, sweeping all before it. Tall trees
bent, bowed, and were cracked asunder.
The rain poured in torrents.
~ " Cover yourself up, Ruthy ; you will be
wet through," said Curtis, kindly. He gave
his sister his blankets, and then he peered
out from the front of the waggon.
Curtis had never before known what it
was to suffer agonizing fear. Now, he
seemed to himself to stand in the presence
of an offended God. What would become
of his soul if it were suddenly called into
the presence of its Maker ! This thought
filled him with terror.
Even as he asked himself this question
the lightning streamed down from the
skies, and filled the whole air with electric
light. The thunder roared with deafening
A tall tree, a few rods from the waggon,
was splintered from top to root. Under
that tree the affrighted mules had taken
refuge. One of them dropped dead upon
the spot. Yes, immovable for ever stiff
in death he lay, while the torrents of rain
poured down upon him.
Curtis was awe- struck. Such might have
been his fate, but for the mercy of God.
Curtis had been softened, touched, moved
to better things at his mother's grave, but
death had not even then seemed so near to
him as it did in the midst of that fearful
Euth was lying in the waggon, very
quiet, in the midst of the wild uproar.
She felt herself safe in the hands of Him
who "ruleth the heavens," and "taketh up
the isles as a very little thing."
" Ruth," said Curtis " Ruth, are you
" God is with us. If we trust in Him,
we cannot be harmed," replied Ruth,
" But we may be killed. That last flash
struck down poor old Joe ! It might have
been one of us," said Curtis, quickly.
" Death cannot harm us, if we trust in
Christ," was Ruth's reply.
Curtis was silent. Ah ! how he felt his
need of Christ at that moment ! How was
he, a poor sinful boy, to stand before God,
unless forgiven for Christ's sake ? He felt
the full meaning of a Saviour, a Redeemer,
48 THE CHILDREN OX THE PLAINS.
To that Saviour he fled for refuge as to
his only hope.
The storm was passing by, even while
the earnest prayer to God for forgiveness
and for a humble, penitent spirit, was rising
from the heart of the conscience-stricken
boy. Swiftly as the clouds had gathered,
they sped away, and the sunshine again
made glad the landscape.
Curtis and Euth were thoroughly dr en ched,
in spite of the precautions they had taken.
"It is welt we are not on the prairie,
where we could get no wood," said Curtis,
as he with difficulty kindled a fire with
some fallen timber and broken branches.
A great roaring fire was at length made,
and near it, and in the pleasant sunshine,
Ruth and Curtis hung up their valuables
" I shall never forget this Sunday," said
Curtis, very seriously, when they were once
more comfortable, and the sun was setting
clear in the west. " I shall never forget
this Sunday. I shall never ask you to
break the Lord's day again, Ruth."
"Won't you?" said Ruth, with one of
her sweetest smiles. " Shall we sing
1 Softly now the light of day'?"
FORT KEARNEY. 49
Ruth had not dared to ask Curtis to
sing with her before he had never seemed
to like to sing hymns ; but now his voice
joined with hers, and both hearts were
glad, as they sang,
" Softly now the light of day
Fades upon my sight away ;
Free from care, from labour free,
Lord, I would commune with Thee.
" Thou, whose all-pervading eye
Naught escapes, without, within,
Pardon each infirmity,
Open fault and secret sin.
" Soon for me the light of day
Shall for ever pass away ;
Then, from sin and sorrow free,
Take me, Lord, to dwell with Thee."
jj]ORE than two weeks had passed
since the Sunday in camp, de-
scribed in the last chapter.
For four days the children had
been travelling along the banks of the Little
Blue river, and now the road turned away
50 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
from it, and the landscape, without water,
seemed dull and dreary.
" I am quite attached to the little river ;
I can't bear to leave it," said Euth to
" And so am I. It seems like company,"
said Curtis, with a lingering look at the
Kuth held in her hand a bouquet she
had gathered. Strange -looking flowers
they were, such as she had never seen be-
fore. There was a bright purple lupine,
(the blossom of which grows directly from
the root, "without a leaf at all,") a blue
digitalis, and a mallow of such a beautiful
deep pink, that Curtis said it was just the
colour he should like to see on Euth's
Those same cheeks would have been very
pale, but for the clear brown tan that gave
them a healthy hue. Poor Euth was getting
tired out. For six weeks she had been on
this fatiguing journey, bearing all annoy-
ances with cheerfulness, but daily losing
strength and vigour.
Curtis, meanwhile, seemed to have pro-
fited by the life of exposure he had been
leading. Euth declared he had grown
K)ET KEAHNEY. 51
more than an inch since he left Ohio. He
did look very tall for a lad of thirteen :
perhaps he had straightened himself up
since he had had the responsible position of
chief of his little party.
Curtis and Ruth had been chatting along
for mile after mile, when at last the mules
slowly ascended a sandy ridge, across which
the road led.
Curtis drew up the reins suddenly at the
top of the ridge.
"Look! Look, Ruth!" he exclaimed.
The scene was well worth a careful
Through the broad green valley that lay
before them, flowed a wide river, with a
long island stretching along its midst an
island covered with tall trees more than a
" This must be the Platte ! " said Curtis,
in a knowing way.
" The Platte river ! " exclaimed Ruth, in
delight. "Why, I've studied about it in
my ' Geography.' I've seen it on my map !
Let me think. 'The Platte rises in the
Rocky mountains, has a general easterly
course, and flows into the Missouri.' That
is the way we used to describe it at schccl."
52 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
The sight of the Platte was very cheer-
ing to the children. It seemed like being
in known regions to see a river that was on
the maps, and talked about even by little
children in Ohio.
" It must be the Platte. See how shallow
it is, and how restless and muddy, just like
the Missouri ! That's what M. Collot said.
He told me we should certainly know it
when we came to it, and then we should
be within a day's journey of Fort Kearney.
Take heart, Ruth; we shall see houses
Almost as welcome to Ruth was the idea
of seeing human dwellings, as is the sight
of the green shore to the sailor who has
lately been exposed to a wild storm on the
ocean. The thought of rest made Ruth
realize how tired she was, and how glad she
should be to be settled and quiet in a home
Ruth did not say one word about these
feelings, but Curtis guessed them. He
rolled the flour barrel forward in the wag-
gon, so as to make a back for Ruth's seat,
and threw a doubled blanket over it, to
make it soft for her to lean against.
Curtis was growing more and more fond
FORT KEARNEY. 53
of his little sister, and watchful for her
comfort. Ruth's sweet, uncomplaining spirit
was having its daily influence upon her
The mules travelled but slowly that day ;
John was very troublesome. Curtis had
tried in vain to harness him so as to draw
with Bob and Jerry. John seemed to have
a notion that old Joe was somewhere at
play, and that it was an imposition to try
to make a younger animal still keep at
Curtis had given up trying to use John
for draught, and had loaded him with some
articles to lighten the weight of the waggon,
and tied him behind it. Being thus limited
in his prospect, and uncertain where he was
going, John was in a continual state of
mutiny, and Euth had to spend a good deal
of her time looking through a little opening
in the rear of the waggon, and talking to
the contrary creature to coax him along.
Curtis had found a scythe, dropped by
some overloaded emigrant, and now when
he came to a patch of tall grass, he cut it
down, and stored it in the waggon.
This good cheer Ruth doled out to John
in small handfuls, through the loophole,
54 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
and so, by coaxing and feeding, the odd
creature was induced, for a part of the time,
not to pull back while the other mules were
At the close of the day's journey Kuth
was neither leaning against the flour barrel
nor administering to John's obstinacy. She
was fast asleep in her own little apartment
at the end of the waggon. She, poor child !
was fairly tired out.
She started up suddenly from her sleep,
in a wild fright. Where could she be !
What could be the matter ! The sound of
martial music was in her ears.
" What is it ? What is it, Curtis ? " she
"Come out here and see!" was Curtis's
Euth peered out from the front of the
waggon, and a welcome sight met her eyes.
They had reached Fort Kearney! There
were the long, low buildings with flat roofs,
all built of adobe, or sun-dried bricks. There
were tents upon tents, tents for workshops
and for soldiers, for sick men and for offi-
cers. Quite a village, indeed, in its own
Very kind was the reception the tired
PORT KEARNEY. 55
children met with at Fort Kearney. A
kind-hearted officer gave up to Kuth his
own bedroom, and such sweet sleep as she
had was better than any cordial to her
Curtis had a supper that made him for-
get all about salt meat, a supper of buffalo
beef, rich and juicy, the very choice part of
the whole great animal.
Curtis and Euth stopped a whole day at
Fort Kearney. Their waggon needed mend-
ing, Curtis said, and one of the soldiers
had promised to show him how to load a
pack mule, and to bring John into better
subjection. Curtis did not say that Kuth
looked weak and weary, but the fact had as
much influence in inducing him to put off
starting as the wants of the waggon or of
Ruth had a real heart-warming in one
way at Fort Kearney. The officer who had
provided for her so kindly had talked to
her gently and pleasantly, not like the
rough, coarse men she had met on the emi-
grant road. He had told her of his own
little girl, the same age as herself, whom he
had left at home in the East. But this was
not all ; he had spoken to her of the hea-
56 THE CHILDKEN ON THE PLAIKS.
venly Father ! He was a true follower of
the Lord Jesus, and was trying there in the
wilderness, among rude soldiers and still
ruder savages, to spread abroad the spirit
of the gospel of peace.
The men loved to gather in his tent for
evening prayer. He had Bibles for the
wounded soldiers to read in the hospital;
he had kind words and holy counsel for the
sick, and solemn warnings for the healthy,
How Ruth loved that Christian soldier !
She told Curtis he seemed to her like Cor-
nelius the Centurion, spoken of in the Acts,
and she should always think of him when
she came to that part of the Bible. Just
as refreshing to that true Christian man,
away from his home, was Ruth's artless
piety and loving trustfulness.
How Christians strengthen and help each
other, wherever they meet ! Would that
the world were full of " old men and little
children, young men and maidens," all walk-
ing heavenward, and taking sweet counsel
together by the way !
THE CROSSING. 57
j|HEN Ruth bade good-bye to her
friend, the officer, and looked her
last upon Fort Kearney, she felt
as if she was leaving a kind of
home, or rather an oasis in the desert she
was crossing. A green spot in memory,
she was sure, her stay at Fort Kearney
would ever be. Something of this sort she
said to the kind-hearted officer, who shook
her hand affectionately as she jumped into
the waggon, something having the same
meaning though not the same words.
His deep " God bless you, child ; I be-
lieve we shall meet again in the better
country !" was his only reply.
Curtis shook the reins, and the great
waggon was again in motion. More than
three hundred miles the children had tra-
velled since they left Fort Leavenworth,
and yet they were but little more than at
the beginning of their journey when they
turned from Fort Kearney. Along the
banks of the Platte the children journeyed
journeyed for two whole weeks.
58 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLMNS.
At night they often drove through the
shallow waters to some island near at hand,
to encamp under the trees, and to let the
mules enjoy the rich grass.
Trees, shrubs, and often even grass,
seemed to have been burnt away along the
valley, while in the islands alone vegetation
Many buffalo paths the children had seen,
deeply worn into the ground by the heavy
feet of the great animals, but not a single
buffalo had yet crossed their track. Curtis
talked bravely of his anxiety to fall in with
a herd of these animals, and try his rifle
upon them; but Ruth ate her bacon and
bread, and was thankful to be safe from
dangers such as she fancied they would
risk, among a herd of buffaloes on the
Some smaller animals the children saw,
which interested them not a little. They
came upon a regular settlement of prairie
dogs. Each little creature had his own
hole or home, and there he stayed, with his
head out, barking at the children as if he
were not pleased at their driving through
his village without paying toll.
Through the barking settlement, Curtis
THE CROSSING. 59
drove slowly, watching the animals with
interest, until John became almost frantic,
fancying, possibly, that he would presently
have the whole crew about his heels.
"I'll kill one of the little scamps, and
make an example of him!" said Curtis,
pointing his ev ded rifle at one of the
Before Ruth could speak the ball had
done its work, and the little creature dropped
back, dead, into the recesses of its under-
" I'll pull him out I want to have a look
at him," said Curtis, springing from the
waggon, and thrusting his arm into the
hole where the prairie dog had disappeared.
A quick, sharp rattle caught Curtis's
ear. Ruth, too, heard the sound. They
both knew it well. They had twice heard
it in Ohio. " A rattle-snake ! A rattle-
snake ! Oh, Curtis ! " exclaimed Ruth, in
Curtis was at her side in a moment un-
" Oh, brother ! I was so frightened. How
thankful we ought to be !" she exclaimed.
" Indeed I am," said Curtis, gravely.
" That was a narrow escape."
60 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
" What a mercy it is that the horrible
thing rattles before he strikes. It seems
like a warning sent by our heavenly Father,
to save us from harm," said Ruth, ear-
" I shall remember again what I hear,"
said Curtis. " I wish I could always think
before I act. One of the soldiers at Fort
Kearney told me about the prairie dogs, but
I thought he was making game of me. He
Said there was generally a rattle- snake in
every hole, and an owl too !"
" How strange ! " said Ruth, laughing.
" Such a queer company ! It does not seem
as if it could be true!"
Curtis was very fond of natural history,
and not all unwilling to let Ruth see how
much he knew. He was eagerly discours-
ing on the habits of the owl, when they
came to the spot where the road crosses the
south fork of the Platte.
"Here we are at the ford!" exclaimed
Curtis. " The river is pretty fuU. I think
I'll send John over first, and see how he
Curtis put John's load into the waggon,
and then forced the animal into the water.
John did not like the look of the stream;
THE CROSSING. 61
it was half a mile wide, and thick with
yellow mud. However, he determined at
last to make the best of it, and plunged
Curtis watched him carefully, until he at
last reached the opposite bank.
" He had footing all the way, that was
plain so here we go !" said Curtis, as he
urged Bob and Jerry forward.
"Going it bravely! eh, Ruth?" said
Curtis, triumphantly, when they were more
than half-way over.
At that moment the waggon came to a
sudden stand- still. Deep deep into the
mire it was plainly sinking. The mules'
pulled, and struggled, and jerked, again
and again, but all in vain. Not an inch
did they advance. The waggon had plainly
become a permanent fixture, fast to the
"What was to be done?" This question
Curtis and Ruth could not answer at once.
"If you could only swim, Ruth!" said
Curtis, with a woeful look at his helpless
"Must we give up the waggon?" said
" I don't see any other way. We can't
62 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
start it ! Bob and Jerry won't stand it
long, pulling at this rate in the water, and
the current is so strong. Do you think
you could ride Jerry through the water, if
you were once on his back?"
"I would not be afraid to try," said
Euth, mustering up her courage.
" I'll loosen them from the waggon," said
Euth managed to get on Jerry's back,
and Curtis soon took his place beside her
on Bob. Euth grew more and more cou-
rageous as they advanced. She saw all
around swift-flowing waters, that might at
any time overwhelm her. Euth did not
fancy her position ; but she saw it was no
time for cowardice or complaining. She
thought of Peter walking on the water to
meet his Saviour, and into that Saviour's
keeping she put herself in that time of
Once loosened from the waggon, the
mules made their way quickly through the
river, but with such an unsteady motion,
that Euth had hard work to keep her seat,
clinging as she did to Jerry's collar, and
perched on his back without a saddle.
Both the children and the mules were
THE CROSSING. 63
thoroughly exhausted, when they reached
the shore in safety.
" I must rest a little, and then go back
on Bob to save what I can from the wag-
gon," said Curtis, after seeing Ruth safely
seated on dry ground.
Curtis was able to make but a few trips
to the waggon, before both Bob and Jerry
utterly refused to enter the water again.
The poor brutes were much worn down by
their long journey, and latterly had moved
but slowly, even when the road was the
Curtis looked at Euth desperately : " I
could make out alone, but, Ruthy dear, I'm
afraid you'll never be able to stand riding
on Jerry, with such a saddle as I can rig.
See, we've got nothing now for the journey,
but my rifle and powder and ball, and my
fishing-tackle. I was careful not to forget
them. Here's the hatchet, too, and the
blankets, and the extra harness. I meant
to get the bacon next time. I believe I
must make Bob go in again.
" Don't ! Don't, Curtis ! He might throw
you. You know how he does when he's
fairly out of patience !"
" Let him, then ! I can swim. I won't
64 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
be mastered by a mule, especially when so
much depends upon my having my own
way," was the brother's obstinate reply.
"Dear Curtis, don't!" said Euth, plead-
Curtis was mounting again, when a glance
at Kuth's mournful countenance changed
his mind. He felt that he had no right to
risk his life, and run a chance of leaving his
sister unprotected in the wilderness.
"Well, we must go on, I suppose, the
best way we can," he said, somewhat sul-
He then strapped some blankets .across
Jerry's back, and when Euth was fairly
seated on them, he saddled Bob after the
same fashion for himself. The few things
that had been saved were placed upon the
other mule. The doleful procession then
The day was more than half over, but
without provisions, as they were, Curtis
declared it was madness to stand still,
waiting for something to come to them.
" The Lord will provide for us ; I am
willing to go on," said Euth, cheerfully.
For several hours the children rode slowly
forward in silence. Euth did not complain
THE CROSSING. 65
of the fatigue that was almost overpowering
her, but she could not talk.
"That must have been a camping-ground,"
said Curtis, pointing to a spot a little off
from the road. " I see some dark objects
scattered about there."
The mules were quickly guided to the
place that had attracted the boy's observing
The camping-grounds of the emigrants
are not marked alone by the signs of fires,
and the names carved upon the welcome
trees. At such spots, there is sure to be
a strange collection of articles, abandoned
by the discouraged and over- loaded emi-
grants. Even persons making pleasure-
trips in thickly settled Europe, soon learn
to carry as little luggage, and to have as
few wants, as possible ; but this is an abso-
lutely necessary lesson for emigrants on the
What had been abandoned as useless
burdens, proved real treasures to Ruth and
Curtis, in their hour of need.
They actually found a hundred pounds
of bacon, stacked there because it was too
heavy to be carried any further ; while two
barrels of flour were placed close beside
66 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
the bacon. As directly sent by Heaven
these stores seemed to Kuth, as did the
ravens with their welcome food to weary
Cooking utensils were there in abun-
dance; indeed, everything needful, except-
ing water, clear, cool water, to quench
the thirst of the children and the jaded
Several small openings in the ground
suggested to Curtis what others had done
in like circumstances.
He began to dig patiently, and at a few
feet below the surface, he was rejoiced to
find water filling up the hole he had made.
This brackish water was but a poor be-
verage, but it was better than none, and
with this substitute for a refreshing draught
from a pure spring, the travellers had to
content themselves for that night.
Under the open sky, they slept upon their
blankets. The summer air was warm and
dry, the stars twinkled cheerily above, and
the children fell asleep, full of trust in their
ever-present heavenly Father.
THE DOCTRESS. 67
j|HE children's bedroom admitted
too much light to render late
morning sleep desirable. They
had no curtained windows to fa-
vour lazy dozing, and as soon as the sun
brightened up the eastern sky, they were
awake and preparing for their journey.
They were both suffering sadly from
thirst. Euth's tongue was parched, and
felt like paper; Curtis could not suppress
his complaints, as he moistened his lips
with the dew that beaded the grass.
"If we only had a camel!" said Curtis,
as he laid an India-rubber water-bag among
the articles with which John was to be
loaded. " But this bag some poor fellow
has left behind, and it must answer the pur-
pose when we find good water."
The old camping-ground was carefully
searched by the children, and everything
that could be useful to them was packed
upon John's back.
The little party set out, by no means in
68 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
good spirits. Ruth was quiet ; Curtis
cross, and the mules jaded, and evidently
failing in strength.
The emigrant trains, usually so unwel-
come a sight to Ruth, she now would gladly
have welcomed, if but a single draught of
cold, water could have been obtained from
them. For a wonder, the road was per-
fectly deserted. Not a single white wag-
gon varied the dull line of the seemingly
The children rode on in silence, upward,
upward, as they crossed the bluff which
divides the waters of the South and North
Forks of the Platte.
The crest of the ridge was reached at
last, and weary as the children were, they
could not help stopping to admire the
beauty of the scene stretched out before
them. On one side was the wide rolling
prairie they had just crossed; on the
other, a landscape, varied by rocky ridges
and deep ravines, which, as it seemed, only
an experienced mountaineer could cross in
Ruth, and even Curtis, soon had enough
to do to keep their seats, as the mules
toiled up and down the steep hills, there
THE DOCTRESS. 69
being scarcely a single level spot on all
" It is well we haven't the waggon hero.
I don't believe we could have managed with
it," said Euth, who always saw a bright
side in every difficulty.
"No," said Curtis, quickly. "Bob and
Jerry would not have stood the waggon's
pushing upon them, as it would have done
going down such hills as these, and we
really have pretty much all we need, ex-
cept water ; but we can't last long without
" God will not forsake us," said Kuth,
earnestly and devoutly.
"He will take care of you because you
deserve it, and perhaps I shall come in for
a share because I am with you," said
" Look ! look Curtis ! There's an ante-
lope," said Euth, pointing to the spot where
the little creature stood watching their
" I'll shoot him ! The taste of fresh meat
would do something towards quenching
this terrible thirst."
Curtis dismounted as he spoke, and, rifle
in hand, he stealthily approached the prize.
70 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
The watchful animal did not wait until
Curtis was close at hand: he bounded
away, to stop and gaze at his pursuer when
fairly beyond his reach. So Curtis was led
on, ever hoping to reach the little creature,
and ever disappointed by its taking a fresh
run, until he was at some distance from the
road where he had left Ruth in charge of
the mules. Here the antelope disappeared
"This is too bad. It seems I am not
to have even this relief!" said Curtis, pet-
Even as he spoke a joyful sight caught
his eyes. There, among the rocks, sparkled
a spring of pure, fresh water, such water
as he had not seen since he left Mis-
Curtis, when he tasted the reviving
draught, felt rebuked for his want of trust,
and even before he went to tell Ruth of the
good news, he knelt to ask forgiveness from
the watchful heavenly Friend who had thus
provided for him in the midst of his com-
Ruth's pale face flushed with pleasure
when she heard of the discovery that Curtis
THE DOCTRESS. 71
tl That antelope was Heaven's guide,
sent to lead you to the spring, Curtis ! "
" I believe it !" said Curtis, seriously. I
never mean to give up after this."
Thoroughly refreshed by the pure water,
the little party again set out on their
journey, taking care to fill the India-
rubber bag with a supply of the best of
beverages, to last for the remainder of the
Curtis and Ruth had nearly reached the
North Fork of the Platte, when the road
along which they were travelling suddenly
swarmed with human beings. There could
be no mistaking those wild, half-naked
forms, and Ruth knew at once that they
Curtis seized his rifle, but in vain. It
was taken from him at the instant by a
strong hand from behind, while a tall Indian
at the same moment took his mule by the
In silence the whole party now turned
off from the road, down the bed of a narrow
stream, that was now dry.
Curtis looked at Ruth. Her face was
very pale, but it was full of peace, and he
72 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
strengthened his own heart with the thought
of her faith.
After an hour's silent ride, the whole
party stopped at an Indian village, or en-
campment. Ruth and Curtis were left in
charge of two tall Indians, while the rest
of the party gathered about them men,
women, and children as if for a general
Curtis' s mind was full of vague images
of torture and death, and he was trying to
nerve himself to bear whatever might come,
like a hero. Ruth meanwhile allowed no
visions of terror to agitate her mind. By
a strong effort of faith she realized the
presence of her Saviour, and was calmly
awaiting the result of this singular adven-
About forty white lodges, or huts made
of buffalo skin, were scattered along the
green bank of the river. Before each lodge
were tall poles, on which were hung a white
shield, a spear, and a buck- skin bag.
After much consultation among the In-
dians, Curtis and Ruth were separated.
Curtis struggled to be free, as he saw
Ruth led away on foot towards the largest
of the huts, before which hung a great
THE DOCTEESS. 73
shield ornamented with curiously-painted
The boy's struggles were in vain. Two
strong hands clasped him like a vice, while
his two keepers stood immovable.
Full of silent prayer, Euth was led from
the glad daylight into the dusky atmosphere
within the tent.
No instrument of torture, no savage
cruelties awaited her there, in that silent
Stretched upon a rude bed, lay a young
Indian girl. Her long black hair was
pushed back from her face, and her dark
eyes gazed wildly and eagerly at the new
Ruth returned a look full of wonder and
The Indian girl was wrapped in buffalo
robes, richly embroidered, and her scarlet
leggings and soft moccasins were wrought
in the same manner, with gaily-coloured
Her dress declared her to be a person ot
importance. There was respect, too, in the
manner in which she was approached by
the two Indians who ushered Ruth into the
74 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
There was eager expectation in the face
of the sick girl, as one of the Indians, in
broken English, now told Ruth her story,
which was in substance as follows :
The chief of this band of Sioux or Dacotah
Indians was absent with a party of his
braves. Meanwhile his young daughter
had been seized with cholera. Full of alarm
at the terrible disease, she at once believed
death certain for her, and would have her-
self arrayed as if already dead, and laid out
to await her burial. She affirmed that there
was no hope for her but from the white
men, who, she had heard, had cures for the
awful malady. The Indians had been struck
with a double cause of terror ; they not only
feared the disease itself, but the anger of
the chief, her father, should he return and
find his child in the grave.
In haste they had sought the emigrant
road, hoping to find there some persons
who would render them assistance. They
brought back our little travellers, silently,
and with speed.
The wiser among the Indians at once
said that these children could do no good
to the sufferer. Then an old Indian, more
experienced than the others, gravely spoke,
THE DOCTRESS. 75
saying he well knew that the overwhelm-
ing fear that had taken possession of the
chiefs daughter was her greatest danger,
and for this he thought they bad secured
a remedy. He at once went to the silent
tent, where the poor young Indian girl was
lying, and told her that a pale-faced child
had come among them, a wonderful child,
who had more power than many " medi-
cine-bags," and that she could cure the
cholera even if the patient were actually
Hope rallied in the Indian girl's heart
when she heard the news; and now she
looked eagerly at Ruth, as if expecting at
once the marvellous cure.
The broken English, on which the old
Indian prided himself, was not understood*
by the chief's daughter. She had lain in
silent expectation while Ruth listened to
the strange story. " Now," said the Indian,
" now, cure quick make she think it, or '
and he shook the spear at his side, to indi-
cate a dreadful threat.
Ruth would not, even in that hour of
danger, act a part to impose upon the poor
sufferer. At once she resolved what to do.
Leaning over the sick girl, she looked
76 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
tenderly into her face ; then taking her
hand, Euth lifted her eyes to heaven and
prayed aloud. For the recovery of the
stricken girl she prayed, and for all her
people she asked the blessing of God,
even the knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ.
That was no praying for effect. Euth
eagerly longed for that which she asked,
and she believed that she should receive
it for Christ's sake. The wild fright that
had been the worst enemy of the Indian
girl, was calmed, as she looked at Euth's
sweet earnest face, and heard the clear,
musical tones of her voice. She fancied
that the Great Spirit had sent the young
stranger to her relief, and hope sprang up
in her heart.
Curtis was surprised and rejoiced to see
Euth come forth safe from the lodge, with
an added expression of peace on her usually
"She do well ! She good doctor!" said
the old Indian, as he drew near to Curtis.
Curtis, who had all this time remained
between his two guards, was forthwith
ushered into one small white lodge, and
Euth into another, left entirely vacant for
THE DOCTRESS. 77
Though dogs, papooses, squaws, mules,
and ponies were thronging round the en-
trances, none were allowed to come in.
One mother actually dragged away her
creeping, curious child by the heels, just
as he had got his head in at an opening
in the curtain to get a peep at Ruth.
Boiled buffalo meat, served up in an old
tin pan, was given first to Curtis and then
to Euth. Buffalo skins were handed in to
them, and the Indian interpreter then told
them they might as well go to sleep and
get rested, for they would not start away
for that day at least, and perhaps for not
Kuth was astonished to find herself es-
tablished in the position of a wonderful
doctress, and forced to make daily visits
to the lodge of the chief's daughter, who
was evidently recovering. Euth's charm
was very simple. She did but pray
earnestly for all the Indian tribes, and
as the sick girl listened she grew better.
There was, indeed, a charm in Euth's
loving voice and gentle manners, very
soothing to the invalid.
This time of rest was just what Euth
needed, while Curtis was heartily enjoy-
78 THE CHILDREN OX THE PLAINS.
ing the novel scene of the encampment and
the wild adventures of his Indian associates.
Mounted on a good horse, he went out with
fifty of the Indians who were on a buffalo
hunt, and when at evening they returned,
laden with the most juicy portions of the
slain animals, he enjoyed the good cheer
almost as well as his savage companions.
Curtis had always reckoned his appetite by
no means delicate, but he was astonished
at the enormous quantities of food con-
sumed by the Sioux braves.
Indians seem to have the power of lay-
ing in, at favourable seasons, a quantity of
food and strength for future hardships. A
single Indian has been known to eat, at
one sitting, as much food as five white
men would need for a hearty meal.
Anotah, the chief's daughter, daily grew
more fond of Euth, and her dark eyes were
sure to brighten whenever the pale-faced
visitor entered the lodge. By means of
the interpreter, Ruth was trying very hard
to give Anotah a knowledge of the true
God, and the child of the wilderness was
willing to believe all her loving doctress
Meanwhile the troops of mules, horses,
THE DOCTRESS. 7
and cattle, owned by the Indians, had been
cropping close the grass, far, far around
the village. The chief had returned, and
had at once given orders for a removal to
Anotah came out of her lodge to welcome
him. She made him thank, through the
interpreter, the little "pale face" who had,
she said, saved her from death.
The chief looked upOn the young doctress
with favour, as one who had performed a
skilful trick ; but by no means felt towards
her the wonderful gratitude which had
taken possession of Anotah.
The village was soon all confusion, as
preparations were being made for a prompt
The men did nothing but lounge about
and watch the squaws at their work.
The lodges were taken down and carried,
off by their owners. One by one the fami-
lies moved away. Like children dismissed
from school, they scattered along the road,
all bound in the same direction, but seem-
ing to have no common plan about their
Curtis was pleased to see Bob provided
with a comfortable Indian saddle, on which
80 THE CHILDREN ON" THE PLAINS.
he was desired to mount; but lie was troubled
to see Jerry used as a pack mule, and placed
side by side with John. What was to
become of Euth ?
Several strange-looking conveyances
Curtis had seen, made in the following
manner : lodge-poles were, fastened at each
side of a horse, with the long ends trailing
on the ground far behind the animal. On
these trailing poles a kind of wicker basket
was .hastily woven, with curved sticks over
it, like the frame of a covered waggon. A
blanket thrown over the whole affair made
a sheltered place in which the Indians
carried their light valuables, their puppies,
and their babies.
From such an odd vehicle Kuth put out
ker head to nod encouragingly to Curtis
as she passed, and to say the motion of
her carriage was by no means disagreeable.
Anotah, who had been more frightened
than ill, was now quite strong. She walked
at Euth's side, much amused to see the
little fair face peeping now and then from
among the Indian babies.
Dogs were made to carry burdens in the
same way; and it amused Curtis to see
them trotting along, with their baskets
THE DOCTRESS. 81
behind them, carrying their puppies safely,
mile after mile, just as Ruth herself was
For a week the Indians were travelling,
making halts by the way to refresh them-
selves, but not fairly setting up their lodges
until within three days' journey of Fort
Ruth, meanwhile, was treated with the
greatest tenderness. Anotah considered
the doctress as her special care, and watched
over her like a mother.
Ruth had been striving to give the In-
dian girl a knowledge of hr own pure
faith. What a blessed privilege it was to
Ruth to lead one of these children of the
wilderness to the foot of the cross ! She
feared that she made but little progress
in her efforts with Anotah, but she per-
severed. She might be laying the founda-
tion upon which some other true Christian
What a work there is for those who lore
their Lord and Master among the red 'men
of the West ! Christ knows each scattered
band, each cluster of lodges ! He lovss
every Indian ; for them He died, .as well as
for us What are we doing for them ?
82 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
Must their dark-eyed children grow up to
range the wilderness to steal and slay?
Can we not Christianize our red brethren ?
Let them lead a wandering life if they love
it, but, like Abraham, let them carry with
them the knowledge of the true God,
wherever they pitch their tents.
A FRESH START.
JETIS and Euth hardly knew
whether they were regarded as
prisoners or as guests by the
Indians, with whom they were
journeying. This point, however, was
made clear, as soon as the Indians had
set up their white lodges, and enjoyed
in them one comfortable night.
Euth was roused from her morning sleep
by Anotah's voice, and by the strong touch
of the Indian girl's hand.
Anotah pointed to the east, which was
already rosy with the light of the rising
sun, and motioned to Euth to follow her.
Euth obeyed, as soon as possible.
She found Curtis already mounted upon
A FRESH START. 83
Bob, and waiting, with Jerry saddled at
John, meanwhile, was expressing his dis-
approval of the increase of several blankets
and buffalo robes to his load, which the
chief had presented to Curtis, with many
signs of respect and kind interest.
The Indian encampment was only five
miles from the emigrant road, but this
fact the children did not know ; and when
the interpreter mounted a mule and pre-
pared to lead the little party away from
the Indian lodges, Kuth looked to Anotah
for an explanation.
Could it be possible that they were to
be taken into the pathless wilderness and
left to find their own way, with only the
stars as a guide?
Anotah quickly made the sign of a road
along which people were passing, and
closed with a bright smile, which said,
cheeringly, "Trust yourself to the guide;
all will be well."
Euth was surprised to find how hard it
came to her to part with her Indian friend,
and Anotah all at once made a similar
Euth was on Jerry's back, when Anotah
84 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
-came up to take her by the hand for the
second time. As she did so, Ruth's tears
actually fell fast.
" Our Father who art in heaven," re-
peated Euth, slowly and distinctly, look-
ing upward as she spoke.
Anotah folded her hands, repeating the
words, " Our Father who art in heaven."
Euth pointed to the sun, and then to
the east and the west, and gave an in-
Anotah bowed towards the east and
towards the west, signifying that she
would use "Our Father" as a morning
and an evening prayer.
" Good-bye," said Euth, with an affec-
Anotah, quick as light, seized a horse
which an Indian was holding near at hand.
She mounted without a saddle, and thus
intimated her intention to go with the
party for the present, at least.
How Euth longed to say some words
which would fix Christian truth deep in
Anotah's heart !
Silently the Indian girl rode at Euth's
side, for the five long miles before- they
reached the emigrant road. Anotah's head
A FRESH START. 85
frequently drooped upon her breast, and
she seemed lost in thought.
Euth, too, was silent. She was praying
in her heart for the Indian tribes, and
asking the Lord of heaven to raise up true-
hearted Christian missionaries to labour
The emigrant road was reached at last.
Anotah suddenly threw her scarlet
blanket round Kuth, and then galloped
away, her slender figure bare to the waist,
and her head raised in the air, as though
she were determined not to give way to
The Indian guide swiftly followed, and
Curtis and Euth were once more alone on
the beaten road.
Alone they were, but round them were
strewn the never-failing signs of the great
throng who had passed that way.
Anvils and shovels, cooking- stoves, car-
penters' tools, and empty trunks, were
^strewn along the road, as if it were a
market-day, and an invisible shopkeeper
were offering his wares for sale to the
Curtis was full of wonderful stories of
his adventures among the Indians, wlu>
86 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
Euth's loving heart was yearning over
Anotah, and longing to know whether she
was ever to be led into a belief in the only
true God. Euth was much refreshed by
her stay among the Indians, and Curtis
declared that he felt as if he were just
starting on his journey.
In this spirit the children got on nicely
that day ; and when they encamped at
evening, they actually sat late at their
fire, talking of the strange-looking rocks
they had passed when with the Indians,
" Chimney Eock," and the " Court House,"
as they have been called by travellers.
Curtis and Euth did not know them by
these names, but Euth declared that the
sight of the tall bare rocks had been most
welcome to her, they were so like the works
of man. Euth was beginning to long for
human habitations again, and to think of
Fort Laramie as a bright spot soon to
"THIS PHILISTINE." 87
JRTIS had never objected to rest-
ing on the Lord's day, since he
had bowed in the thunder-storm
to ask forgiveness of his Maker.
He felt the need of a day of rest, as well
for his soul as his body. In the silence of
a lonely encampment, God was particularly
near to the children ; and when their
prayers and hymns rose on the clear air,
there seemed to be nothing between them
and the heaven towards which they were
turning their thoughts.
This day Curtis had found a pleasant
spot for their encampment, nearly a quar-
ter of a mile from the road along which
the tide of emigration flowed on all days
of the week alike.
Ruth could not help thinking that the
people who thus poured across the "Plains "
from a Christian country, could not give
the Indians a very favourable impression
of the religion of their land. It was not
only that the Sabbath was to them like
88 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
other days, but they broke all the com-
mandments, as well as the fourth. Nor
was this strange. They who disregard
God's laws at one point, are sure, sooner
or later, to show disrespect to all His re-
Ruth and Curtis were sitting in the
shadow of a great rock, and talking
tenderly of their mother, and of the
many sweet lessons she had taught
Their conversation was interrupted by
the loud shouts of a party of emigrants,
more rude and noisy than any they had
seen. It was plain that they had been
keeping up their sinking spirits by the
fire-water, on which too many rely in their
"Do not let them see us!" said Euth,
slipping behind the rock, so as to be out of
Curtis thought it would be unmanly to
withdraw from their observation, and so
he kept his seat in full view of the noisy
He soon started up, however, to hurry
towards the long train of waggons.
Euth called after him in vain. Curtis
" THIS PHILISTINE." 89
was drawn on by too strong a motive to
be checked even by his sister's voice.
The mules had gradually wandered from
the spot were Curtis and Ruth had sta-
tioned themselves, and had drawn near to
To his great astonishment, Curtis now
saw them seized by several of the boister-
ous travellers, and driven in among their
own animals, as if their rightful prey.
" They are ours !" shouted Curtis.
A laugh was the only reply.
" They are ours, and you shall give them
up!" said Curtis, angrily.
" Shall ! " repeated half-a-dozen voices.
" Shall!" and then followed a long, coarse
laugh, that made Ruth feel as though she
would gladly give up even the precious
mules, to be free from such bad company.
A shower of missiles was discharged at
Curtis. Pans and pitchforks were*thrown
at him, and strong fists were clenched
threateningly, as he was bidden to keep
off, if he would save himself from hard
Curtis saw that there was nothing to
be gained from such a crew, but he re-
solved to try one expedient more. He
90 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
gave a long, low whistle, which had hitherto
succeeded in calling the mules to his side,
no matter how far they had strayed from
Bob and Jerry were apparently too well
pleased to be among companions of their
own kind to obey the call, but John came
jumping out of the drove, and, with awk-
ward gambols, threw up his heels, and
deserted his new masters. Curtis came
sadly back to Kuth, while John followed.
" We have only John now to depend
upon ! What is to become of us I cannot
see. You certainly cannot ride him!"
Curtis spoke disconsolately.
" Do you know what this rock makes me
think of?" said Euth, pointing to the wall
of bare rock behind them.
" No !" said Curtis, inquiringly.
"It reminds me of that comforting text,
* He shall be like the - shadow of a great
rock in a weary land.' Curtis, we shall
not be deserted. To-day we are comfort-
able. We did not intend to go on. We
need no mules for our Sunday rest. We
have our daily bread. We will not ' take
thought for the morrow.'"
Some hard biscuit, which the Indians
"THIS PHILISTINE." 91
had procured from an emigrant train, had
been Anotah's gift to Ruth; and now, with
cold buffalo meat from the same source,
the children made an excellent repast.
" Do you remember what David said
when he was going to meet Goliath ? " said
Ruth, as they finished their meal.
"No!" said Curtis again, inquiringly.
Ruth had laid in a great treasure, in her
knowledge of Scripture truth a treasure
which was better to her now than thou-
sands of gold and silver.
" He said, ' He who delivered me from
the lion and the bear, will deliver me also
from this Philistine ! ' That is what I
always think of when a new trouble comes,
Curtis. God, who has brought us so far,
will safely bring us to our journey's end.
I believe I shall see my father in this
world, and give my mother's message to
him. Curtis, shall we forget all about
losing our mules to-day ? We won't fear
this Philistine, will we ?"
"No, Ruth. You are right. "We have
only to pass our Sunday profitably, and
leave our heavenly Father to take care of
Ruth and Curtis had not only their faith
92 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
to sustain them, but the natural joyousness
of young hearts. The pleasant air, the
sunshine, the birds, and the flowers, were
all to them sources of pleasure. In that
Sunday encampment they enjoyed the works
of God, as well as put their trust in Him
for all their future lives.
you remember that May-
day when we walked fifteen
miles, to have our celebration
by Blount's spring seven
and a half going, and seven and a half
coming back ? We were on our feet, too, all
day, and yet it did not hurt us a bit."
Ruth was thus talking cheerily to Curtis,
while he arranged John's load, on Monday
Of course he remembered that day, and
how Ruth had been the May Queen, and
wondered the while why she had been
chosen, when there were so many taller,
prettier girls of the party. As if the
beauties were always the favourites ! A
loving, unselfish spirit like Ruth's would
always find friends among Ohio school-
mates, or untutored Indians.
" We need not travel more than fifteen
miles a day." said Ruth, going on with her
consolatory remarks. "I know I could
stand that very well. We can take the
cool of the day for walking, and rest at
noon. I feel quite strong after being so
Curtis looked at the pale face turned
towards him, and admired all the more the
strong spirit in that small, delicate body.
He felt that her courage was greater than
his, and resolved never again to speak scorn-
fully of girls as weak cowards, though they
might not care to handle guns, or to have
insects playfully put upon them.
"I wish Anotah's father had not taken
my rifle, when he was so free in giving
away his blankets. I feel as if our main
dependence was gone without it," said Cur-
tis. " If I could start now with that rifle
over my shoulder, I should feel as if we
we had something to rely upon."
" We have a better reliance in the words,
' 1 will never leave thee nor forsake thee,' "
said Ruth, earnestly.
94 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
Curtis was silent. It was hard for him
to trust entirely to God. He liked rather
to feel his own strength than to lean on that
of the Power above.
The young travellers had walked for at
least eight miles, when they sat down
wearied out, and glad to rest in the shade
of a thick wood close upon the road.
They had hardly been seated five minutes,
when there was a roar near them that made
the rocks ring.
" What's that ? " said Curtis, starting up
fjuickly. " If I only had my rifle ! "
" I have heard a sound like that before.
There is a cow somewhere about here ! "
said Ruth, rising, and looking around.
A few more bellows guided the children
to the spot where a fine cow was tossing
her head in the air, as if calling for
" I don't believe the poor creature has
been milked to-day. That's what she has
been calling out for. Give me your tin cup,
"Don't go near her, Ruth. She looks
wild. She may toss you. Let me manage
her," said Curtis.
" So ! so ! " said Ruth, taking the cup
from Curtis; and, going up to the poor
cow, she patted her gently.
The creature seemed to understand at
once that she had found a friend, and when
Ruth's skilful hands began to make the
milk flow, the wild bellowing was exchanged
for such complacent mooing as children in
the nursery like to imitate.
How refreshing that milk was to Curtis
and Ruth ! " This seems like real manna ! "
said Ruth. " Who would have thought of
our finding a cow here ! Is it not wonder-
ful, Curtis ? "
"It is, indeed! I suppose she has
strayed from some emigrant train. We
will take her in charge until her owners
claim her," said Curtis. " What shall we
call her ? "
" Suppose we call her Perdita. Don't
you remember in our reading-book at school,
that was the name given to the lost child ? "
" Yes, Perdita ! That's capital. Do you
suppose she'll follow us ? " said Curtis.
When the sun had seased to blaze down
with noon-day heat, the children again
started on their journey. They found no
difficulty in persuading Perdita to be of
96 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
their company. She seemed to understand
that Euth was her last friend, and to look
upon her with especial favour.
" Suppose you try to ride her," said
Curtis, who could not bear to see Ruth
walking along the road, looking so tired.
" Ride her ! " exclaimed Ruth, with a
merry laugh ; " I don't believe Perdita
would put up with that ! "
Perdita' s good nature was beyond belief.
"When Ruth was seated on her back, she
walked on at the same steady pace as be-
fore, only whisking her tail occasionally, as
if she thought a mosquito had alighted
upon her. Ruth's weight was not very
terrible for Perdita, and a ride of a mile or
two, now and then, was a wonderful relief
to the feet of the weary little girl.
Curtis said not a word of his own fatigue.
He had learned a lesson from Ruth's un-
complaining spirit; and more than this,
Ruth had grown dearer and dearer to him
every day of the journey. ISTow her com-
fort was of more importance to him than
his own. Selfishness is never really con-
quered by anything but love. We must
love our neighbour as ourselves, before wo
can do our duty to him.
PORT LARAMIE. 97
Curtis did love Ruth fondly and deeply,
and it was now his chief wish to see her
safely at the end of the trying journey
they had undertaken with what wisdom,
he began to doubt. He secretly blamed
himself for exposing" his sister to hardships,
as much to gratify his own love of adven-
ture, as to carry out her pious wish, to be
the messenger of good to her distant father.
JUETIS and Ruth had gone on very
comfortably for several days,
travelling slowly, to be sure, but
safe from the dangers of hunger
and thirst, and cheered by the thought that
they were drawing near Fort Laramie.
Perdita proved a perfect treasure. John's
obstinacy was nearly subdued by the fatigues
of the journey, and he was growing quite
On the fourth day after the loss of the
other mules, Curtis was surprised to find
John in a most excitable state. When he
attempted to load him in the morning, he
98 THB CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
kicked violently, and plunged, as if in dis-
tress. His jaws were swollen, and Curtis
fancied that his eyes looked strangely.
After much persuasion, John was at
length induced to receive the pack-saddle,
and to set out for another day's work.
That was a weary day to the children.
John failed hour by hour, and Curtis was
at length sure that the mule had been
bitten by a snake, and would not survive
the poisoned wound.
So, alas, it proved ; before night-fall John
had dropped dead by the road. Curtis sat
down beside the poor creature's body, and
said, desperately, " Now, Ruth, are you not
ready to give up in despair ? "
Ruth pointed to a rude substitute for a
sign-board some passing emigrant had de-
vised for the benefit of future travellers.
At a turn in the road stood a great
tree, on whose brown trunk was carved,
in immense letters, "Three Miles to Fort
" Only three miles, Curtis ! We can
fancy we are driving Perdita home from
pasture, just towards evening, and go on
that far, very well. I know they will be
kind to us at the fort."
FORT LAEAMIE. 99
Curtis wondered if any one could be
unkind to Euth! The answer came from
his own conscience, and he felt ashamed
to think how many times he had teased
and worried her; and he resolved that if
they were in a home again, he would be
very different from the "brother Curtis"
of the Ohio farm.
The boy carried nothing of the mule's load
but the blankets, that might be needed at
night, should they fail to reach Fort Laramie.
Perdita's good milk would ensure them
a supper, and with this simple provision
for the future, the children went forward.
There were several emigrant camps near
Port Laramie, but on to the Fort itself the
children pressed. From the emigrants they
might meet with rough treatment, but from
the soldiers stationed in that far-off wilder-
ness, Ruth was sure of protection.
Ruth was not mistaken. Curtis had but
to tell their sorrowful story, and point to
Ruth and Perdita, and the soldiers' hearts
were at once moved to pity.
Again Ruth slept sweet sleep, and Curtis
felt like a boy once more, relieved for the
time from the burden of care that had op-
100 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
On awaking, at Fort Laramie, Curtis
began to consider what was to be done
about the further prosecution of the journey.
It was plain that he and Ruth must have
an entirely new fitting-out, Perdita, the
blankets, and the tin cup, being all their
Curtis bethought himself with much satis-
faction of the belt studded with gold, which
Ruth had prepared for him many weeks
before, and he resolved to make inquiries
at once as to how and where he could best
make his purchases.
He was recommended to go to the emi-
grant camps, which were already in the
bustle of starting.
Sellers were more plentiful than buyers
in that region, and Curtis soon found him-
self in the midst of making bargains.
A full suit of clothes for himself he
easily obtained. True, they had been ori-
ginally made for a slender man, and needed
a general shortening with the scissors be-
fore they could be adapted to his size ; but
Curtis was too well pleased to get them at
all, to be particular about a fit. For Ruth
he purchased a large straw hat, to take the
place of her worn and soiled sun-bonnet,
FORT LABAMIE. 101
and the contents of a trunk, which a des-
perate German woman was glad to dispose
of at any price. "Goot, all ver' goot!"
she declared them to be, and made in the
" Fater-land." The last fact could not be
doubted, and the former Ruth did not
attempt to gainsay. A merry time she
had while adapting the stout German's
capacious garments to her own small figure.
When her work was done, the fond brother
declared that the thick green gown, with the
white linen apron, became her wonderfully.
Ruth was forced to stay some days to
recruit at Fort Laramie, and she was a
most welcome visitor. The sight of* her
sweet young face was refreshing to the
poor fellows, cut off from home ties, and
shut up there in the wilderness. Curtis,
meanwhile, visited the various camps of
travellers, and continued his purchases.
Ruth was alarmed lest he should spend
all their money, merely for the pleasure
of it. Curtis assured her that he was very
judicious ; though he did buy a hundred-
weight of bacon, because he could get it
for a cent a pound, when he had, as yet
no means of carrying it. Mules were scarce
articles among the emigrants at least.
102 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS-
mules in good condition the burdens being
more numerous than the beasts to carry
Every day Curtis learned more and more
of the part of their journey still before
them. Most discouraging were the accounts
he received. He heard of portions of the
route where there was not a bite of grass
for the animals, for a whole day's journey;
and of others, where all the water was as
salt as if it had been dipped from the ocean
itself. A party, lately returned from Fort
Bridger, told of seeing a dozen oxen lying
in one heap, where they had fallen dead,
after drinking of this unhealthy water;
and of mule after mule lying by the road as
they had dropped down, utterly exhausted.
Curtis told none of these tales to Ruth,
who was, as usual, giving no anxious thought
to the future. She was faithfully doing
the duty of the present hour, shedding the
sunshine of cheerfulness around her, and
diffusing the better light that made glad
her own heart. Although she was forced
to keep her blistered feet in a chair, her
hands were constantly busy, and her needle
was doing wonders in fitting up her brother's
wardrobe and her own. Ruth had learned
FORT LARAMIB. 103
by experience what materials were best for
clothing for the journey she had before her,
and the German woman's valuables proved
of the right sort.
" You don't mean to start off alone again
with that sister of yours ! " said a soldier
Curtis was bargaining for a mule, and at
first he pretended not to hear the remark
The bargain was concluded, and Curtis
had changed Perdita for a strong-limbed
animal declared to be in famous order for
"I say," pressed the same soldier, "do
you mean to start off that little pale-faced
thing across the desert ahead, with only
you to look out for her ? If you do, you
deserve nothing better than to have the
Pawnees get your scalp."
Curtis had already had misgivings about
undertaking the rest of the journey in the
same unprotected way in which they had
hitherto travelled. He felt more pride than
he would have confessed, in having thus
far been his sister's sole guardian, and he
did not at all relish the idea of giving up a
triumph when it was half won.
The adventurous boy had no time for fur-
104 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
ther thought just then, for a band of men
at that moment came in sight. They moved
slowly, and it was soon plain that they were
bringing wounded soldiers to the Fort.
" They've had a brush with the Indians.
I wonder who is hurt ! " said the soldier,
hastening away to hear the news.
Ruth had been thinking that the men at
Fort Laramie led a lazy life, and that after
all it was not unpleasant to step about to
the sound of music, go through military
drilling, and be called a soldier. Her opinion
changed suddenly, as she caught sight of
the wounded, bleeding men, who were borne
to the hospital tent. Her heart yearned to
go and wait upon them ; but her proposal
to do so was received with a laugh, and the
answer, "They are used to rough nursing.
You would faint even to see the poor fel-
lows' ghastly wounds."
The road from Fort Laramie to Fort
Bridger was said to be infested with bands of
Indians, who had lately been very trouble-
some to the emigrants, and had killed
outright two small parties, whom they sur-
prised in a lonely place.
All this made but a slight impression
upon Ruth. She looked upon the continua-
PORT LAKAMIE. 10 O
tion of their journey as a necessary evil for
her brother and herself, and trusted -that
they would be watched over in the future
as they had been in the past. Of emigrant
parties Ruth had a perfect horror. She
had seen enough of them to feel that the
evil which prevailed among them was more
to be dreaded than the worst dangers of the
road. One point Euth had settled in her
own mind, she would not connect herself
with any of those Sabbath-breaking, un-
Curtis, meanwhile, was coming to a dif-
ferent conclusion, and was on the watch fpr
such a train as it would be advisable to
join. He loved Euth too well needlessly to
expose her to the danger of another trip,
such as they had had since they left Fort
He was told there was not a single human
habitation from Fort Laramie to Fort
Bridger, a distance of four hundred miles.
He would not venture upon a journey
through that dangerous region without
some safeguard. So he plainly told Euth,
and made her understand that she must
submit to his will.
" You are very uncharitable, Euth, to
106 THE CHILDREN ON TUB PLAINS.
suppose that among all the crowds of peo-
ple crossing the ' Plains,' from the States,
there are no true Christians ! Have not the
people who meet us a right to judge us in
the same way ? " Curtis had now good
sense on his side, and Ruth felt it, as she
" I am afraid I am like the prophet who
thought he only was left to serve the true
God, when the Lord had reserved for him-
self seven thousand men who had not bowed
the knee to BaaL"
"We shall see," said Curtis.
Evening was coming on, and several emi-
grant trains pitched then- camps in the
neighbourhood of Fort Laramie. To these
Curtis made his way, with a prayer on his
lips that he might be guided to companions
suitable and profitable for himself and his
He had learned to jn'ay ; he had learned
to ask for what he needed to ask for his
" daily bread " as well as " deliverance from
His search for a while seemed vain.
There was the same boisterous roughness,
in the first two camps he visited, as he had
seen by the way. He would not place
FORT LA.RAMEE. 107
Ruth among such associates. " No, not for
the world ! "
More distant from Fort Laramie than
the encampments already mentioned, a
cluster of white waggons had been arranged
for the night. As Curtis drew near them,
a most welcome sound saluted his ears. An
evening hymn rose on the air. Curtis in-
voluntarily joined in the familiar words,
" Bock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee ! "
" Here surely must be friends," said Curtis
to himself, as he made his way into the
midst of the encampment. A tall, sun-
burnt man came forward to receive him,
and inquire his business.
" I did come on business," said Curtis in
a manly way, " tut first I want to shake
hands with all who sang that hymn. It is
a good thing to hear that kind of singing
in this heathen land."
" Then shake the Captain's hand, for he
proposed it," said several voices.
The tall stranger who had first addressed
Curtis, extended a brown, hard hand,
marked with many a scar. After a hearty
greeting, Curtis told his business. He
108 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
wanted to connect himself with a respect-
able party going westward a party where
intemperance, and profanity, and wicked-
ness generally, were not countenanced. He
wanted to place his dear little sister under
the care of some motherly woman, who
would watch over her, and feel a kind in-
terest in her. He wished to pay for a safe
escort, and also to provide his share of the
provisions consumed by the way. He re-
membered the lot of cheap bacon.
Curtis was allowed to finish all he had
to say without interruption; when the per-
son called the Captain replied.
Captain G. was an old voyageur, one who
had lived west of Missouri for many, many
years, and was more at home on the "Plains"
than in the midst of the dwellings of civilized
man. Much hard fighting and many perilous
hunts he had seen. As the brook followed
the Israelites through the wilderness, one
pure stream had been with the hardy man
in all his wanderings, even the remembrance
of the pious teachings of his mother ; often
he said, by lonely camp-fire, he had recalled
her sweet voice, as she had taught him to
sing of Jesus, or offer prayer in His power-
ful, all-prevailing name.
FORT LAHAMIE. 109
Such remembrances had lingered with
Captain G., but he had " gone far astray,
and erred like a lost sheep. 1 '
Acting as a guide to travellers and emi-
grant parties, he had become like the
roughest among them. Once, however, it
was his privilege to be the head of a com-
pany who had among them an earnest
missionary, bound for a station on the
shores of the Pacific. Captain G. would
ever have reason to bless that journey.
Through the mercy of God, and the faith-
ful efforts of the Christian traveller, Captain
G.'s course was for ever changed. He no
longer merely cherished a sweet memory of
his mother's teachings, but strove to walk
in the way in which he had been trained as
Such was the person to whom Curtis
had been led. He could not doubt that the
providential Hand had been with him, and
so said Captain G.
Freely Curtis was welcomed to the party,
and Captain G. declared he longed to have
little Ruth under his special protection.
Before they parted it was arranged that the
children should move with the camp at day-
break on the morrow.
110 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
had not seen the " motherly
person" to whose charge Euth
was to be particularly confided,
on the journey from Fort Lara-
mie to Fort Bridger. Of course he had
fancied somebody resembling his own lost
mother. Both Euth and her brother were
not a little surprised, therefore, at the face
that looked out from the waggon, which was
to be Euth's temporary home.
"Here! put her in here!" cried a loud,
coarse voice, that made the observer look
twice to see that the speaker was not a man.
" You see Mrs. Nutten is quite ready for
you, Euth," said Captain G., as he helped
the little girl into the waggon.
" All trig, girl, and just room enough left
for you, there, with your back to the feather
bed," said Mrs. Nutten, putting Euth in
the place, much as a child would a doll in a
Curtis gave an anxious glance at Euth,
to see how she liked the appearance of her
MRS. NTJTTEN. Ill
Ruth returned one of her sweet smiles,
which reassured the brother's heart.
Curtis soon found that Captain G. well
deserved his title, though he had never
served in the regular army, or even in a
raw militia company. He was evidently
born to command, and made sure of the
good of his party by keeping them all
strictly obedient to orders.
The long train was at length ready to
start, and then, to Ruth's surprise, all broke
forth into the cheerful hymn
" I am bound for the land of Canaan."
Rising over all the other voices, were
heard the captain's strong tones, while Mrs.
Nutten seemed doing her best to rival him.
"Do you ride easy?" said Mrs. Nutten,
kindly, to Ruth, as soon as the singing was
over. " Do you ride easy, dear ?"
" I am very comfortable," replied Kuth.
with a grateful smile.
Mrs. Nutten favoured Ruth, from time to
time, with various snatches of her history.
The young traveller soon learned that her
companion was going to California to meet
one Philip Nutten, whom she had sent out
to get things ready there, while she settled
112 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
up matters in Indiana, and got all straight
for the move.
Ruth was surprised to find how comfort-
ably she was making this difficult part of
the journey. Mrs. Nutten was evidently a
capital manager ; and although she had, as
she said, " never been bothered with any
children of her own," it was plain that the
presence of Ruth was by no means disagree-
able to her.
Day by day Ruth learned that Mrs. Nutten
spoke ill of no individuals, though she was
very severe on certain classes of " shiftless
folks and ne'er-do-wells," on whom she fre-
quently vented her wrath in the severest
Yes, Mrs. Nutten, rough and queer as
she was, had a kind, true heart. Captain
G. knew that, or he would not have placed
the little pale-faced Ruth under her charge.
He knew the delicate girl would be better
off there than in the great waggon, where
Curtis had found a place with him.
Curtis found it quite an honour to have
a position with the captain, and thought he
was daily growing wonderfully wise in
hunter's craft, and expedients for safe and
easy travelling on the " Plains."
MRS. NTTTTEN. 113
He did not wonder at the influence Cap-
tain G. had over his party. He soon
found out that the captain's strength of
character was equalled by his sincerity and
earnestness as a Christian. He would wink
at no wrong-doing, countenance no evil
ways in his company. He said he had
asked the blessing of God on that emigrant
train, and God's ten commandments he
would see enforced.
" I wonder how Mrs. Nutten came to join
this party, not being a religious woman,"
said Curtis to Euth some days after they
left Fort Laramie.
"Not a religious woman!" said Euth
in surprise. " How mistaken you are, bro-
ther ! I do not believe she would do a thing
she knew to be wrong, if she were to be
tempted with waggon loads of gold. She's
rough, but she's true, Curtis. All good
people are not alike ; and they are not all
gentle and soft-spoken like mother."
" And like you too, Euth. The captain
says Well, don't redden up so rosy.
I won't tell you. But, Euthy, we will never
say all emigrants are bad again, will we?"
" No, Curtis, I never mean to judge hardly
of any kind of people again," said Euth,
114 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
earnestly. " Why, I really love Mrs. Nutten.
She is as kind as she can be."
"And she'll love you, I know, Ruth.
Everybody does, and no wonder," said Curtis.
JIVE days after Captain G.'s train
left Fort Laramie, they came to
the point where Deer Creek flows
into the Platte. Near this spot
there was a wide ferry, by which emigrants
were enabled to cross the river in safety.
Swimming it had proved a fatal experiment
to many travellers, and Captain G. wisely
resolved to avail himself of the ferry for his
party. Seven trunks of cotton-wood trees
had been hewn out into canoes, and these
canoes, fastened together by strong cross-
poles, formed the rude raft to which the
travellers were to entrust their safety.
When it came Mrs. Nutten's turn to be
pulled across, she set the mules at liberty,
and saw them swim to the other side.
"I am afraid she'll sink!" said Mrs.
Nutten, with a doubtful look.
" She aint heavy enough to weigh down
a walnut shell!" exclaimed one of the
ferrymen, laughing, as he looked at Ruth,
supposing her to be the precious cargo
about whom the good woman was so anxious.
" Pshaw ! the waggon, I mean. Do you
think she'll go over safe? " said Mrs. Nutten.
" Only try her!" said the ferryman, put-
ting the waggon on to the raft. " She's a
beauty!" In a few moments the whole
affair was drawn across by the rope, which
was attached to a huge tree on the other side.
"She's sound!" said Mrs. Nutten, look-
ing at her treasure in triumph, as it was
landed on the opposite bank. Without a
murmur she paid the two dollars charged,
declaring the money was well spent.
Ruth thought of the waggon she and
Curtis had left in the water, far, far back,
when they first crossed the Platte. What
an age it seemed to her since that time !
After leaving the Platte, the road lay
along the Sweetwater, until it nearly reached
the South Pass.
It was three weeks from the time their
train left Fort Laramie before it reached
this point, and in that time Mrs. Nutten
had found various ways of making the
fatigues of the journey tolerable to Rnth.
116 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
When the hot air blistered Ruth's face,
And the drifting sand almost blinded her
eyes, Mrs. Nutten clipped out a cloth mask
for her face, and covered her eyes with a
bit of oil-silk she had hid in her pocket.
Streams and springs had both been rare
on the journey, and the whole party had
suffered much from thirst. But when
Ruth reached Fort Bridger, she felt less
exhausted than at her previous stoppages
at Fort Laramie and Fort Kearney. Mrs.
Nutten had been a kind, devoted friend to
Ruth. Captain G. had well understood
how to guide and regulate his party.
" We could not have made this part of
the journey alone," said Curtis to Ruth,
ivhen they were safely encamped near Fort
"No! indeed we could not," was the
reply. " What a kind Providence it was
that gave us such friends in our time of
To Ruth all gifts, all blessings, all friends,
were but reminders of the continual pre-
sence of the great heavenly Friend, in
whom she put her trust. He truly is
4C about our path and our lying down, and
knoweth all our ways."
SALT LAKE CITY. 117
SALT LAKE CITY.
|OET BRIDGER is an Indian trad-
ing-post, owned by Major James
Bridger, whose kind hospitality
so many western travellers have
shared. Captain G. was well known at
Fort Bridger, and there easily obtained per-
mission to have the waggons of his train
thoroughly repaired, and his mules carefully
shod. When this was done, the captain
declared that he saw no reason for further
delay, as every day was now precious. Au-
tumn, he said, would fairly set in before the
party reached California, and there must be
no " dilly-dallying" by the way. Our emi-
grant party had the usual share of discom-
fort and fatigue in the two weeks that it
took them to proceed from Fort Bridger to
Salt Lake City. They had no special ad-
venture worthy of record, save the meeting
of occasional bands of Snake Indians, or root-
diggers miserable, half-clad creatures, who
live more like wild beasts than human beings.
Mrs. Nutten was talking as usual o1
Philip, and her views respecting him, when
118 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
the emigrant party came in sight of Salt
" The Mormon Babylon ! " exclaimed Mrs.
ISTutten. " T wouldn't set foot in it if yon
were to pay me for it ! "
Mrs. Nutten was true to her word. Cu-
riosity could not tempt her to hold any
communication with people who, as she
said, " put by the Testament, and followed
after that hypocritical Joe Smith! Other
folks might do as they pleased, but Philip
Nutten's wife would keep clear of Mormons,
as she would of snakes."
Salt Lake City was not a very grand
affair, and yet it was a wonderfully large
settlement to be flourishing there in the
wilderness. The poor misguided people,
who had clustered in the great Salt Lake
Basin, were objects of strong interest to
DOUBTS AND REALITIES.
E will not trace the passage of our
travellers from Salt Lake City to
California, now that they are un-
der good guidance.
Ruth., meanwhile, thought little of the
DOUBTS AND REALITIES. 119
dangers or incidents of the way, and, it
must be owned, she lost many of the anec-
dotes of Philip fatten, with which her
companion favoured her ear. Euth had an
absorbing subject of thought. How and
where would she find her father ? Was he
yet living ? Curtis, too, was much harassed
by thoughts of the same kind. The more also
he became himself a sincere Christian, the
more he trembled for his father's present
condition ; but whatever that father might
be, Curtis resolved to be to him a dutiful,
Curtis had ascertained that many of the
emigrants in Captain G.'s party were to
stop at some of the most eastern settlements
in California, while Ruth and himself were
bound to San Francisco.
Captain G. avowed his intention of ac-
companying the children to their journey's
end. The good man, in his heart, doubted
much whether they would find their father,
and had resolved to be himself a father to
them, should they be left orphans.
Mrs. Nutten grew uncommonly tender
towards Ruth, as they neared the confines
of California, and was actually heard to say,
that she had often advised Philip Nutten to
120 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
adopt a child, and if he did, she wouldn't
mind taking Euth, for better or for worse.
As Mrs. Nutten's beloved vehicle was
entering a small California village, one
evening in September, suddenly the tall
woman tossed the reins into Euth's hands,
and, leaping from the waggon, she threw
her arms round the neck of a short man,
who was looking earnestly from waggon to
waggon along the train.
" Philip ! Philip Nutten! " exclaimed the
wife, as she fairly lifted the little fellow off
his feet, in her joy at the reunion.
" Betsy Nutten ! my Betsy ! " was all
that Philip found words to say.
" How came you here ? I didn't say
settle here ! " said Betsy, when her first
astonishment was over.
" I didn't set up here ; I just came out
from San Francisco, hoping to meet you,"
was Philip's humble reply.
A general introducing now took place,
and then Mrs. Nutten announced to Philip
that she had to go " a piece " further with-
out him until she dropped her passenger ;
and so they parted, not, however, without
an agreement being made for their future
meeting. Mrs. Nutten, like Captain G.,
DOUBTS AND REALITIES. 121
thought it very probable that Mr. Sumner
would be either no longer living, or an unfit
person to have the charge of the delicate
Ruth. Betsy Nutten had no idea, she said,
of giving up Ruth, unless she was going to
fall into proper hands.
The other waggons dropped away, one by
one, but Captain G.'s and Mrs. Nutten's
still held on towards San Francisco.
After much hunting, up and down the
streets of San Francisco, the obscure lodg-
ing-house was pointed out where Thomas
Sumner was to be found. Captain G. shook
his head, and exchanged glances with Mrs.
Nutten, as they knocked.
" He not see anybody; he sick," was the
answer made by the Chinese servant who
opened the door .
" Which way ? which way ? " said Ruth,
hurrying into the narrow entry.
" Show his room, directly ! " said Curtis,
with an air of command.
In a back room on the lower floor, Ruth
found her father. Her worst fears were
realized. No, not her worst fears, for while
there is life there is hope. Thomas Sumner
had run through a wild career of dissipa-
tion, and now, prostrate in body, and dis-
122 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
tressed in mind, he lay moaning on a bed
" Father ! dear father ! " said Ruth, draw-
big near to the bedside.
The sick man turned suddenly, as if hea-
venly music had struck upon his ears.
" We have come to take care of you," said
Curtis, in a tone hoarse with deep feeling.
"Your mother?" said the poor man,
with a wild questioning glance.
" She died before we reached Fort Leaven-
worth," said Curtis. " We had no one left
but you, and so we came on. Ruth, too,
had a message for you."
" Yes, mother said she hoped to meet you
in heaven, father. She looked so full of joy
and peace when she said that ! "
The poor man groaned, and turned his
face to the wall. What right had he to
the loving care of pure children? the
children of his Mary !
When Thomas Sumner heard how his
little Euth had bravely borne all things
that she might bring to him his wife's dying
message, he was touched and softened.
So the way was made open for better
things. He saw and felt his own fearful
unworthiness. Then it was Ruth's pro-
cious privilege to speak to him of the
blessed Saviour, who welcomes the return-
ing prodigal, and loves them for whom He
willingly offered Himself an atoning sacrifice.
Thomas Sumner listened, believed, and
And Ruth ! -They only can understand
her feelings, who have had their fervent
prayers for dearest friends thus granted,
by the unutterable goodness of a merciful
j|EN years have passed since Curtis
and Ruth Sumner made their
overland journey to California.
Curtis is a man now, six feet in
his stockings a sturdy, happy Ohio farmer.
An Ohio farmer? Yes, he has bought
back the old place, where the honeysuckle
still grows over the pantry- windows where
his mother lived ! Money-making is not
his object in life: he has another and a
better motive. And yet the farm is larger
than it was in the old days, and Thomas
Sumner says it was never in so fine a con-
124 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
dition. Thomas Sumner misses the face
that used to greet him at the threshold;
he misses the sweet voice at the fire-side.
His Mary is no more on earth, to bear
patiently with his follies, and gently give
him sweet counsel. He feels that he did
not deserve her, and he bows to the stroke.
Yet he loves the spot hallowed by her
memory. He cannot blot out the past. That
is not in the power of any human being.
The wrong actions, the harsh words, of days
gone bj-, must do their work. The sinner
is forgiven, but the sin has to go on with
its mischief till the end of time, for "one
sinner destroyeth much good." Thomas
Sumner knows that. From the depths of
his heart, he daily says, " I have erred, and
strayed from Thy ways like a lost sheep ; "
but he remembers the words of the Saviour,
who came to " seek and to save that which
is lost," and he is comforted.
Curtis ever treats his father with kind-
ness and respect; yet Thomas Sumner
feels humbled when he looks his noble son
in the face. He half fancies, too, that
Curtis, in his heart, cannot love him.
There is one human being upon whom
Thomas Sumner ever looks without drop-
ping his eyes in shame. He knows that
Ruth's love has blotted out the remem-
brance of his transgressions. He knows
that to her he is the dear father, whom
she perilled her life to save; the dear
father whom she rejoices to see walking
in the ways of holiness.
Dear Euth ! her's is a happy lot. She
has the blessing for which she cares the
most. Her two dear ones are dear to God
safe in His covenant-keeping. Her days
flow by in pleasant home-cares.
Thomas Summer is not a poor man now.
The industry of the father and son were
successful in California. They, have more
than enough for their own comfort. Euth
knows how to use the surplus. She does
not forget the heathen in foreign lands.
She clothes the poor, who are scattered in
her own neighbourhood. She has her Sun-
day school class a happy little group, that
gather round her, looking up to her for spi-
ritual food, like nestlings to the mother-bird.
Euth has many calls upon her time and
her purse, but one object is dearer to her
than all the others one appeal seems ever
present in her heart : she has not forgotten
the heathen amongst whom she once dwelt !
126 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
She remembers the destitute places of the
West. She remembers the Christian mul-
titudes she saw on the " Plains " Indians
and white men, alike forgetful of God.
Ah! how she loves to help the mission-
aries who are labouring among them ! how
she loves to send good books where the
living preacher cannot go !
last Christmas had a guest
that it was joy to her to entertain.
A tall, dark man he was, not a
beauty ; and yet Ruth looked at
him as if she reverenced his iron-grey locks,
and loved his weather-worn features. It
was plain that the stranger was a favourite
with Curtis, too.
Of course it was Captain G., the dear
old captain, who had come to Ohio on pur-
pose to see "his children," as he called
the tall, sturdy Curtis, and the delicate,
graceful, womanly Ruth. His " children "
he had a right to call them, for he loved
them with almost a father's love, and he
had given them more than a father's care.
Now he rejoiced in their tranquil pros-
perity, and he wanted to see it with hip
He had news, moreover news for Ruth
a message from her friend Mrs. Nutten.
Mrs. Nutten had now a flourishing hotel in
California a hotel where there was no
bar, and no gambling an orderly, home-
like place, where young men might be safe
from temptation, and share her motherly
care with Philip Nutten. Philip had used
his needle and shears to advantage, and
ventured to have his own name on his
shining new sign, without so much as say-
ing that he was husband to Betsy Nutten !
The world knew it, though ; so he had the
honor without boasting of it publicly. All
this the Captain told Curtis and Ruth, and
they laughed as they listened.
Betsy said: "Tell Ruth I love her with
all my heart, and when I am on my knees
I always think of her. She's fast on to the
best part of my spirit. I've got something
for her, too. I'm going to send her a valu-
"Of course," continued the captain, "I
expected to have a jar of sweatmeats, or
some such nonsense, to be bothered with;
128 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS.
but Betsy took out this little Bible from
her pocket : ' Give this to Ruth,' says she.
' Tell her one Collot, a French trader, left
it at my hotel. He kept it under his pil-
low till he died and he died calling on the
name of Jesus. He was a thorough Christian
that man for all the wild life he had led.
That little Bible was by him to the last.
He never trusted it in anybody's hand
while he was living; but when he was gone
I dared to open it. There was the name,
on the title-page Ruth Sumner. Then I
knew the dear child had been scattering
the good seed, and Gpd had blessed it
thanks be unto His name ! ' "
Ruth fairly sobbed, as the captain finished
" God has blessed Tier, thanks be unto
his name ! " said Thomas Sumner, solemnly.
Captain G. broke forth into a hymn of
praise, in which the whole family joined.
Yes, praised be His holy name, who
" willeth not the death of a sinner ! " He
prospers our efforts in His cause! We have
but to persevere, and scatter the good seed,
and the Lord of the harvest will crown the
work of our hands with abundant success.
i. AND MT. BID KB, PBIJTTZBS, LONDOlf.