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Full text of "The children on the plains : a true story"

6x Jjbris 



LOS ANGELES 



Collection of 
Children's jBooks 



THE 



CHILDEEN ON TIE PLAINS. 



BY AUNT FKIENDLY. 




LONDON: 
FREDERICK WARNE AND' CO., 

BEDFOED STEEET, COVEXT GAEDEW. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAP. PAGE 

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 



Cttorm an 



CHAPTER I. 



THE DECISION. 




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 
tolerable comfort. 

There was not a dissenting voice in the 
whole company when the return was pro- 
posed, yet all were dissatisfied, all were 
disappointed. 

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 
great vehicle. 

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 
home again." 

" 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 
be desolate. 

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. 



CHAPTER II. 

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- 
tions. 

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 
three associates. 



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 
turnpike. 

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 
moment. 

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 
should. 

" Ruth," he said, after a moment's pause, 
" suppose you sing a hymn for us to start 
with." 

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 
of sight." 

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 
brood. 

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- 
heartened. 

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 
altogether. 

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 
still, "Forward!" 




THE TRADER. 15 

CHAPTER III. 

THE TRADER. 

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- 
ground. 

" 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 
supper. 

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 
French accent. 

" No, sir ! " said Curtis, with an air of 
great dignity. 

" Where are you bound ? " continued the 
questioner, chucking Ruth familiarly under 
the chin. 



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 
on." 

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 
States. 



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 
the fight." 

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 
of adventure. 

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 
the dimness. 

"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 
reply. 

" 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 
right." 

"I am not worth much, then!" said M. 
Collot, laughing. 

"Don't you pray to God?" asked Ruth, 
quickly. 

" 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 
did." ' 

" 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 
rough companions. 

While the glow of the fire still lighted the 
enclosure, Ruth saw the trader take the 
book from his pocket and glance curiously 
into it. 

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 
later." 

" 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 
piety. 

"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 
obstinate resistance. 

" 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 
price"? 




27 



CHAPTER IV. , 

L PETITION. 

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 
road. 

" 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 
thing, Ruth?" 

" I dare say I could," said Ruth, bright- 
ening. 



28 THE CHILDREN ON THE PLAINS. 

" Take that stout pair of duck pants of 
mine, and make the belt out of it," said 
Curtis, decidedly. 

" 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 
exclaimed, suddenly, 

" 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 
do!" 

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 
towards her. 

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 
were invading. 

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 
Curtis, decidedly. 



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 
approving glances. 

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 
sudden respect. 

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 
gracious bow. 

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- 
panions. 

"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, 
warmly. 

" 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. 



CHAPTER Y. 



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. 



IN CAMP. 

" Now for it !" and he urged the mules into 
the water. 

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 
whip. 

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, 
gravely. 

" 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 
Curtis. 

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 ? " 
said Ruth. 

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 
future use. 

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 
that day. 

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 
escape them. 

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- 
willing yawn. 

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 
duty. 



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. 



CHAPTEE VI. 

SUNDAY. 

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 ; 




SUNDAY. 43 

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- 
day." 

" 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 
alone." 

" 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 



SUNDAY. 45 

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 
time. 

Her simple hymns she was sure would 
be as welcome to the heavenly King as 
if she were joining in the singing of the 
"great congregation." 

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- 
gon." 

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 
peals. 

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 
storm. 

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 
frightened?" 

" God is with us. If we trust in Him, 
we cannot be harmed," replied Ruth, 
solemnly. 

" 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, 
then! 



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 
to dry. 

" 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." 



CHAPTEE VII. 

FORT KEARNEY. 

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 
D 




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 
Curtis. 

" And so am I. It seems like company," 
said Curtis, with a lingering look at the 
bright water. 

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 
cheeks. 

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 
survey. 

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 
century old. 

" 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 
before night." 

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 
once more. 

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 
brother. 

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 
work. 

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 
pulling forward. 

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 
exclaimed, 

"Come out here and see!" was Curtis's 
cheerful reply. 

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 
way. 

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 
weary limbs. 

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 
John. 

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, 
as well. 

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 

CHAPTER VIII. 

THE CROSSING. 

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 
was flourishing. 

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 
Plains. 

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 
dogs. 

Before Ruth could speak the ball had 
done its work, and the little creature dropped 
back, dead, into the recesses of its under- 
ground home. 

" 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 
terror. 

Curtis was at her side in a moment un- 
harmed. 

" 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- 
nestly. 

" 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 
makes out." 

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 
in. ~ 

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 
river bottom. 

"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 
sister. 

"Must we give up the waggon?" said 
Ruth, dolefully. 

" 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 
Curtis. 

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 
danger. 

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 
best. 

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- 
ingly- 

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- 
lenly. 

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 
started forward. 

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 
eye. 

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 
" Plains." 

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 
Elijah. 

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 
mules. 

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 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE DOCTRESS. 

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 
interminable pathway. 

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 
safety. 

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 
the road. 

" 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 
that." 

" 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 
Curtis. 

" Look ! look Curtis ! There's an ante- 
lope," said Euth, pointing to the spot where 
the little creature stood watching their 
movements. 

" 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 
from view. 

"This is too bad. It seems I am not 
to have even this relief!" said Curtis, pet- 
tishly. 

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- 
souri. 

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- 
plainings. 

Ruth's pale face flushed with pleasure 
when she heard of the discovery that Curtis 
had made. 



THE DOCTRESS. 71 

tl That antelope was Heaven's guide, 
sent to lead you to the spring, Curtis ! " 
said Ruth. 

" 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 
day. 

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 
were Indians. 

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 
bridle. 

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 
consultation. 

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- 
ture. 

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 
devices. 

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 
spot. 

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 
comer. 

Ruth returned a look full of wonder and 
pity. 

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 
porcupine quills. 

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 
lodge. 



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 
dying. 

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 
placid countenance. 

"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 
their use. 



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 
many more. 

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 
told her. 

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 
better pasturage. 

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 
removal. 

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 
movements. 

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 
riding. 

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 
Laramie. 

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 
would build. 

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 ? 
F 



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. 



CHAPTER X. 

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 
his side. 

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 
discovery. 

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- 
quiring glance. 

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- 
tionate caress. 

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 
among them. 

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 
sorrow. 

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 
passers-by. 

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 
reached. 




"THIS PHILISTINE." 87 

CHAPTER XL 

'THIS PHILISTINE." 

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- 
quirements. 

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 
them. 

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 
troubles. 

"Do not let them see us!" said Euth, 
slipping behind the rock, so as to be out of 
sight. 

Curtis thought it would be unmanly to 
withdraw from their observation, and so 
he kept his seat in full view of the noisy 
emigrants. 

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 
the road. 

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 
usage. 

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 
him. 

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 
the morrow." 

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. 



CHAPTER XII. 




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 
morning. 

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 



PERDITA. 93 

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 
quiet yesterday." 

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 
aid. 

" 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, 
Curtis." 

"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 



PERDITA. 95 

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 ? " 
said Ruth. 

" 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. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

PORT IARAMEB. 

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 
tractable. 

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 

a 




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 
Laramie." 

" 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- 
pressed him. 



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 
remaining valuables. 

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 
them. 

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 
to Curtis. 

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 
travelling. 

"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- 
principled parties. 

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 
Kearney. 

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 
answered : 

" 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 
loving sister. 

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 
evil." 

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 
a child. 

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. 

CHAPTER XIV. 

MRS. NUTTEN. 




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 
baby-house. 

Curtis gave an anxious glance at Euth, 
to see how she liked the appearance of her 
new companion. 



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 
terms. 

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, 
H 




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. 

CHAPTER XV. 

WESTWARD. 

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 



WESTWAED. 115 

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 
Bridger. 

"No! indeed we could not," was the 
reply. " What a kind Providence it was 
that gave us such friends in our time of 
trouble." 

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 

CHAPTER XVI. 

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 
Lake City. 

" 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 
Euth. 

CHAPTER XVH. 

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, 
affectionate son. 

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 
of sickness. 

" 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- 



HOME. 123 

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 
rejoiced ! 

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 
Redeemer. 

CHAPTER XYin. 



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- 



HOME. 125 

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 ! 

CHAPTER XIX. 

CONCLUSION. 

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. 



CONCLUSION, 127 

Now he rejoiced in their tranquil pros- 
perity, and he wanted to see it with hip 
own eyes. 

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- 
able present." 

"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 
his story. 

" 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. 



I 



.