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The Hunters of the Hills The Shadow of the North 
The Rulers of the Lakes The Masters of the Peaks 
The Lords of the Wild The Sun of Quebec 

The Young Trailers The Free Rangers 

The Forest Runners The Riflemen of the Ohio 

The Keepers of the Trail The Scouts of the Valley 
The Eyes of the Woods The Border Watch 


The Texan Star 
The Texan Scouts The Texan Triumph 


The Guns of Bull Run The Star of Gettysburg 
The Guns of Shiloh The Rock of Chickamauga 

The Scouts of Stonewall The Shades of the Wilderness 
The Sword of Antietam The Tree of Appomattox 

The Lost Hunters The Great Sioux Trail 


The Guns of Europe 
The Forest of Swords The Hosts of the Air 


Apache Gold A Soldier of Manhattan 

The Quest of the Four The Sun of Saratoga 
The Last of the Chiefs A Herald of the West 

In Circling Camps The Wilderness Road 

The Last Rebel My Captive 

The Candidate 

New York London 

The huge gray leader leaped at the fallen boy." 

[Page 155.] 










All rights reserved. This book, or parts 
I thereof, must not be reproduced in any 
Ifdrm without permission of the publisher. 

Printed in the United States of America 



I. THE TRAIN . . 1 

II. KING BISON . . . . . ..,-- * .... . 18 

III. THE PASS . . . . . . . . . 38 

IV. TREASURE-TROVE . . . . . . . 56 

V. THE LOST VALLEY ... . . . 69 

VI. CASTLE HOWARD . ... . . . . 88 



IX. THE TIMBER WOLVES ....... 137 



XII. THE FIGHT WITH NATURE ..... . . .199 

XIII. ALBERT S VICTORY ... . . . . . .213 


XV. THE INDIAN VILLAGE . . . . ... .248 

XVI. THE GATHERING OF THE Sioux ..... 262 



XIX -A HAPPY MEETING . . . . . .315 






THE boy in the third wagon was suffering frott 
exhaustion. The days and days of walking 
over the rolling prairie, under a brassy sun, the 
hard food of the train, and the short hours of rest, had 
put too severe a trial upon his delicate frame. Now, as 
he lay against the sacks and boxes that had been drawn 
up to form a sort of couch for him, his breath came in 
short gasps, and his face was very pale. His brother, 
older, and stronger by far, who walked at the wheel, 
regarded him with a look in which affection and intense 
anxiety were mingled. It was not a time and place in 
which one could afford to be ill. 

Richard and Albert Howard were bound together by 
the strongest of brotherly ties. Richard had inherited 
his father s bigness and powerful constitution, Albert 
his mother s slenderness and fragility. But it was the 
mother who lived the longer, although even she did not 
attain middle age, and her last words to her older son 
were: " Richard, take care of Albert." He had prom 
ised, and now he was thinking how he could keep the 



It was a terrible problem that confronted Richard 
Howard. He felt no fear on his own account. A boy in 
years, he was a man in the ability to care for himself, 
wherever he might be. In a boyhood spent on an Illinois 
farm, where the prairies slope up to the forest, he had 
learned the ways of wood and field, and was full of 
courage, strength, and resource. 

But Albert was different. He had not thrived in the 
moist air of the great valley. Tall enough he was, but 
the width of chest and thickness of bone were lack 
ing. Noticing this, the idea of going to California had 
come to the older brother. The great gold days had 
passed years since, but it was still a land of enchant 
ment to the youth of the older states, and the long jour 
ney in the high, dry air of the plains would be good for 
Albert. There was nothing to keep them back. They 
had no property save a little money enough for their 
equipment, and a few dollars over to live on in Cali 
fornia until they could get work. 

To decide was to start, and here they were in the 
middle of the vast country that rolled away west of the 
Missouri, known but little, and full of dangers. The 
journey had been much harder than the older boy had 
expected. The days stretched out, the weeks trailed 
away, and still the plains rolled before them. 

The summer had been of the hottest, and the heated 
earth gave back the glare until the air quivered in 
torrid waves. Richard had drawn back the cover of 
the wagon that his brother might breathe the air, but he 
replaced it now to protect him from the overpowering 
beams. Once more he anxiously studied the country, 



but it gave him little hope. The green of the grass was 
gone, and most of the grass with it. The brown un 
dulations swept away from horizon to horizon, treeless, 
waterless, and bare. In all that vast desolation there 
was nothing save the tired and dusty train at the very 
center of it. 

11 Anything in sight, Dick? " asked Albert, who had 
followed his brother s questioning look. 

Dick shook his head. 

" Nothing, Al," he replied. 

* I wish we d come to a grove, said the sick boy. 

He longed, as do all those who are born in the hills, 
for the sight of trees and clear, running water. 

" I was thinking, Dick," he resumed in short, gasp 
ing tones, " that it would be well for us, just as the 
evening was coming on, to go over a swell and ride right 
into a forest of big oaks and maples, with the finest little 
creek that you ever saw running through the middle 
of it. It would be pleasant and shady there. Leaves 
would be lying about, the water would be cold, and 
maybe we d see elk coming down to drink." 

" Perhaps we ll have such luck, Al," said Dick, al 
though his tone showed no hope. But he added, assum 
ing a cheerful manner: " This can t go on forever; we ll 
be reaching the mountains soon, and then you ll get 

" How s that brother of yours? No better, I see, 
and he s got to ride all the time now, making more load 
for the animals." 

It was Sam Conway, the leader of the train, who 
spoke, a rough man of middle age, for whom both Dick 



and Albert had acquired a deep dislike. Dick flushed 
through his tan at the hard words. 

"If he s sick he has the right to ride/ he replied 
sharply. " We ve paid our share for this trip and 
maybe a little more. You know that." 

Conway gave him an ugly look, but Dick stood up 
straight and strong, and met him eye for eye. He was 
aware of their rights and he meant to defend them. 
Conway, confronted by a dauntless spirit, turned away, 
muttering in surly fashion: 

11 We didn t bargain to take corpses across the 

Fortunately, the boy in the wagon did not hear him, 
and, though his eyes flashed ominously, Dick said noth 
ing. It was not a time for quarreling, but it was often 
hard to restrain one s temper. He had realized, soon 
after the start, when it was too late to withdraw, that 
the train was not a good one. It was made up mostly 
of men. There were no children, and the few women, 
like the men, were coarse and rough. Turbulent scenes 
had occurred, but Dick and Albert kept aloof, steadily 
minding their own business. 

" What did Conway say? " asked Albert, after the 
man had gone. 

1 Nothing of any importance. He was merely growl 
ing as usual. He likes to make himself disagreeable. 
I never saw another man who got as much enjoyment 
out of that sort of thing. 

Albert said nothing more, but closed his eyes. The 
canvas cover protected him from the glare of the sun, 
but seemed to hold the heat within it. Drops of perepi- 



ration stood on his face, and Dick longed for the moun 
tains, for his brother s sake. 

All the train fell into a sullen silence, and no sound 
was heard but the unsteady rumble of the wheels, the 
creak of an ungreased axle, and the occasional crack 
of a whip. Clouds of dust arose and were whipped by 
the stray winds into the faces of the travelers, the fine 
particles burning like hot ashes. The train moved slow 
ly and heavily, as if it dragged a wounded length over 
the hard ground. 

Dick Howard kept his position by the side of the 
wagon in which his brother lay. He did not intend 
that Albert should hear bitter words leveled at his weak- 
ness, and he knew that his own presence was a deter 
rent. The strong figure and dauntless port of the older 
youth inspired respect. Moreover, he carried over his 
shoulder a repeating rifle of the latest pattern, and 
his belt was full of cartridges. He and Albert had 
been particular about their arms. It was a neces 
sity. The plains and the mountains were subject to 
all the dangers of Indian warfare, and they had taken 
a natural youthful pride in buying the finest of 

The hot dust burned Dick Howard s face and crept 
into his eyes and throat. His tongue lay dry in his 
mouth. He might have ridden in one of the wagons, too, 
had he chosen. As he truly said, he and Albert had 
paid their full share, and, in the labor of the trail, he 
was more efficient than anybody else in the train. But 
his pride had been touched by Conway s words. He 
would not ride, nor would he show any signs of weak- 



ness. He strode on by the side of the wagon, head erect, 
his step firm and springy. 

The sun crept slowly down the brassy arch of the 
heavens, and the glare grew less blinding. The heat 
abated, but Albert Howard, who had fallen asleep, slept 
on. His brother drew a blanket over him, knowing that 
he could not afford to catch cold, and breathed the cooler 
air himself, with thankfulness. Conway came back 
again, and was scarcely less gruff than before, although 
he said nothing about Albert. 

" Bright Sun says that in another day or two well 
be seeing mountains, he vouchsafed ; and 1 11 be glad 
of it, because then we 11 be coming to water and game. 

I d like to be seeing them now, responded Dick ; 
" but do you believe everything that Bright Sun says? " 

" Of course I do. Hasn t he brought us along all 
right ? "What are you driving at ? " 

His voice rose to a challenging tone, in full accord 
ance with the nature of the man, whenever anyone dis 
agreed with him, but Dick Howard took not the least 

" I don t altogether like Bright Sun," he replied. 
" Just why, I can t say, but the fact remains that I don t 
like him. It doesn t seem natural for an Indian to be 
so fond of white people, and to prefer another race to 
Jiis own." 

Conway laughed harshly. 

" That shows how much you know," he said. 
" Bright Sun is smart, smarter than a steel trap. He 
knows that the day of the red is passing, and he s going 
to train with the white. What s the use of being on 



the losing side? It s what I say, and it s what Bright 
Sun thinks." 

The man s manner was gross and materialistic, so 
repellent that Dick would have turned away, but at that 
moment Bright Sun himself approached. Dick re 
garded him, as always, with the keenest interest and 
curiosity mixed with some suspicion. Yet almost any 
one would have been reassured by the appearance of 
Bright Sun. He was a splendid specimen of the Indian, 
although in white garb, even to the soft felt hat shad 
ing his face. But he could never have been taken for 
a white man. His hair was thick, black, and coarse, 
his skin of the red man s typical coppery tint, and his 
cheek bones high and sharp. His lean but sinewy and 
powerful figure rose two inches above six feet. There 
was an air about him, too, that told of strength other 
than that of the body. Guide he was, but leader he 

" Say, Bright Sun," exclaimed Conway coarsely, 
" Dick Howard here thinks you re too friendly with the 
whites. It don t seem natural to him that one of your 
color should consort so freely with us." 

Dick s face flushed through the brown, and he shot 
an angry glance at Conway, but Bright Sun did not 
seem to be offended. 

" Why not? " he asked in perfect English. " I was 
educated in a mission school. I have been with white 
people most of my life, I have read your books, I know 
your civilization, and I like it." 

" There now! " exclaimed Conway triumphantly. 
" Ain t that an answer for you? I tell you what, Bright 



Sun, I m for you, I believe in you, and if anybody can 
take us through all right to California, you re the 

" It is my task and I will accomplish it, said Bright 
Sun in the precise English he had learned at the mis 
sion school. 

His eyes met Dick s for a moment, and the boy saw 
there a flash that might mean many things defiance, 
primeval force, and the quality that plans and does. 
But the flash was gone in an instant, like a dying spark, 
and Bright Sun turned away. Conway also left, but 
Dick s gaze followed the Indian. 

He did not know Bright Sun s tribe. He had heard 
that he was a Sioux, also that he was a Crow, and a 
third report credited him with being a Cheyenne. As 
he never painted his face, dressed like a white man, and 
did not talk of himself and his people, the curious were 
free to surmise as they chose. But Dick was sure of 
one thing : Bright Sun was a man of power. It was not 
a matter of surmise, he felt it instinctively. 

The tall figure of the Indian was lost among the wag 
ons, and Dick turned his attention to the trail. The 
cooling waves continued to roll up, as the west red 
dened into a brilliant sunset. Great bars of crimson, 
then of gold, and the shades between, piled above one 
another on the horizon. The plains lost their brown, 
and gleamed in wonderful shimmering tints. The great 
desolate world became beautiful. 

The train stopped with a rumble, a creak, and a 
lurch, and the men began to unharness the animals. Al 
bert awoke with a start and sat up in the wagon. 



" Night and the camp, Al," said Dick cheerfully; 
" feel better, don t you? " 

" Yes, I do," replied Albert, as a faint color came 
into his face. 

Thought the rest and the coolness would brace you 
up," continued Dick in the same cheerful tone. 

Albert, a tall, emaciated boy with a face of great 
refinement and delicacy, climbed out of the wagon and 
looked about. Dick busied himself with the work of 
making camp, letting Albert give what help he could. 

But Dick always undertook to do enough for two 
his brother and himself and he really did enough for 
three. No other was so swift and skillful at taking the 
gear off horse or mule, nor was there a stronger or read 
ier arm at the wheel when it was necessary to complete 
the circle of wagons that they nightly made. When this 
was done, he went out on the prairie in search of buffalo 
chips for the fire, which he was fortunate enough to 
find without any trouble. 

Before returning with his burden, Dick stood a few 
moments looking back at the camp. The dusk had fully 
come, but the fires were not yet lighted, and he saw only 
the shadowy forms of the wagons and flitting figures 
about them. But much talk reached his ears, most of it 
coarse and rough, with a liberal sprinkling of oaths. 
Dick sighed. His regret was keener than ever that 
Albert and he were in such company. Then he looked 
the other way out upon the fathomless plains, where the 
night had gathered, and the wind was moaning among 
the swells. The air was now chill enough t make him 
shiver, and he gazed with a certain awe into tne black 



depths. The camp, even with all its coarseness and 
roughness, was better, and he walked swiftly back with 
his load of fuel. 

They built a dozen fires within the circle of the 
wagons, and again Dick was the most active and indus 
trious of them all, doing his share, Albert s, and some 
thing besides. When the fires were lighted they burned 
rapidly and merrily, sending up great tongues of red or 
yellow flame, which shed a flickering light over wagons, 
animals, and men. A pleasant heat was suffused and 
Dick began to cook supper for Albert and himself, bring 
ing it from the wagon in which his brother and he had a 
share. He fried bacon and strips of dried beef, boiled 
coffee, and warmed slices of bread over the coals. 

He saw with intense pleasure that Albert ate with a 
better appetite than he had shown for days. As for 
himself, he was as hungry as a horse he always was 
on this great journey and since there was plenty, he 
ate long, and was happy. 

Dick went to the wagon, and returned with a heavy 
cloak, which he threw over Albert s shoulders. 

" The night s getting colder," he said, " and you 
mustn t take any risks, Al. There s one trouble about 
a camp fire in the open your face can burn while your 
back freezes." 

Content fell over the camp. Even rough men of sav 
age instincts are willing to lie quiet when they are 
warm and well fed. Jokes, coarse but invariably in 
good humor, were exchanged. The fires still burned 
brightly, and the camp formed a core of light and 
warmth in the dark, cold wilderness. 



Albert, wrapped in the cloak, lay upon his side and 
elbow gazing dreamily into the flames. Dick sat near 
him, frying a piece of bacon on the end of a stick. 
Neither heard the step behind them because it was 
noiseless, but both saw the tall figure of Bright Sun, as 
he came up to their fire. 

" Have a piece of bacon, Bright Sun," said Dick 
hospitably, holding out the slice to him, and at the same 
time wondering whether the Indian would take it. 

Bright Sun shook his head. 

* I thank you, he replied, but I have eaten 
enough. How is Mr. Albert Howard now? 

Dick appreciated the inquiry, whether or not it was 
prompted by sympathy. 

" Good," he replied. " Al s picking up. Haven t 
seen him eat as he did to-night for months. If he keeps 
on this way, he ll devour a whole buffalo as soon as 
he s able to kill one." 

Bright Sun smiled, and sat down on the ground near 
them. It seemed to the boy, a keen observer of his kind, 
that he wished to talk. Dick was willing. 

" Do you know," asked Bright Sun, " that reports 
of gold in the region to the north, called by you the 
Black Hills, have come to us? " 

" I heard some one speak of it two or three days 
ago, replied Dick, " but I paid no attention to it." 

Bright Sun looked thoughtfully into the fire, the 
glow of which fell full upon his face, revealing every 
feature like carving. His nose was hooked slightly, and 
to Dick it now looked like the beak of an eagle. The 
somber eyes, too, expressed brooding and mastery alike. 



Despite himself, Dick felt again that he was in the pres 
ence of power, and he was oppressed by a sense of fore 

11 It was worth attention," said Bright Sun in the 
slow, precise tones of one who speaks a language not his 
own, but who speaks it perfectly. " The white man s 
gold is calling to him loudly. It calls all through the 
day and night. Do these men with whom you travel 
go to anything certain far over on the coast of the 
"Western ocean ? No, they are leaves blown by the wind. 
The wind now blows in the direction of the Black Hills, 
where the gold is said to be, and to-morrow the wagon 
train turns its head that way. 

Dick sat up straight, and Albert, wrapped in his 
blanket, leaned forward to listen. 

11 But the engagement with us all/ said Dick, " was 
to go to the Pacific. Albert and I paid our share for 
that purpose. Conway knows it." 

The Indian looked at Dick. The boy thought he saw 
a flickering smile of amusement in his eyes, but it was 
faint, and gone in a moment. 

" Conway does not care for that," said the Indian, 
" Your contracts are nothing to him. This is the wiL 
derness, and it stretches away for many hundreds ot 
miles in every direction. The white man s law does not 
come here. Moreover, nearly all wish him to turn to the 
North and the gold. 

Albert suddenly spoke, and his tone, though thin 
from physical weakness, was quick, intense, and eager. 

" Why couldn t we go on with them, Dick? " he 
said. " We have nothing definite on the Pacific coast. 



We are merely taking chances, and if the Black Hills 
are full of gold, we might get our share! " 

Dick s eyes glistened. If one had to go, one might 
make the best of it. The spirit of romance was alive 
within him. He was only a boy. 

Of course we 11 go, Al, he said lightly, and you 
and I will have a ton of gold inside a year. 

Bright Sun looked at the two boys, first one and 
then the other, stalwart Dick and weak Albert. It 
seemed to Dick that he saw a new expression in the 
Indian s eyes, one that indicated the shadow of regret. 
He resented it. Did Bright Sun think that Albert and 
he were not equal to the task? 

I am strong, he said ; " I can lift and dig enough 
for two; but Albert also will be strong, after we have 
been a little while in the mountains. 

" You might have strength enough. I do not doubt 
it," said Bright Sun softly, " but the Black Hills are 
claimed by the Sioux. They do not wish the white men 
to come there, and the Sioux are a great and powerful 
tribe, or rather a nation of several allied and kindred 
tribes, the most powerful Indian nation west of the 

Bright Sun s voice rose a little toward the last, and 
the slight upward tendency gave emphasis and signifi 
cance to his words. The brooding eyes suddenly shot 
forth a challenging light. 

" Are you a Sioux? " asked Dick involuntarily. 

Bright Sun bent upon him a look of gentle reproof. 

" Since I have taken the ways of your race I have 
no tribe," he replied. " But, as I have said, the Sioux 



claim the Black Hills, and they have many thousands of 
warriors, brave, warlike, and resolved to keep the 

" The government will see that there is no war/ 
said Dick. 

1 1 Governments can do little in a wilderness, replied 
Bright Sun. 

Dick might have made a rejoinder, but at that mo 
ment a burly figure came into the light of the fire. It 
was Sam Conway, and he glanced suspiciously at the 
Indian and the two boys. 

" Are you telling em, Bright Sun, when we ll reach 
California? " he asked. 

Bright Sun gave him an oblique glance. The Indian 
seldom looks the white man in the face, but it was ob 
vious that Bright Sun was not afraid of the leader. 
Conway, as well as the others, knew it. 

" No," he replied briefly. 

" It s just as well that you haven t," said Conway 
bruskly, " cause we re not going to California at all 
at least not this year. It s the wish and general con 
sensus of this here train that we turn to the North, go 
into the Black Hills, and fill our wagons with gold. 

" So it s decided, then, is it? " asked Dick. 

" Yes, it s decided," replied Conway, his tone now 
becoming positively brutal, " and if you and your 
brother don t like it, you know what you can do." 

" Keep on alone for the coast, I suppose," said Dick, 
looking him steadily in the face. 

" If you put it that way." 

" But we don t choose," said Dick, Al and I have 


an interest in one wagon and team, and we re going 
to hold on to it. Besides, we re quite willing to try our 
luck in the Black Hills, too. We Ye going with you. 

Conway frowned, but Dick also was not afraid of 
him, and knew that he could not turn the two boys out 
on the prairie. They had a full right to go with the 

" That settles it," he said, turning away. " You 
can do as you please, but what happens after we get 
into the Black Hills is another thing. Likely, we ll 

The sound of his retreating footsteps quickly died 
away in the darkness, and Bright Sun, too, slid among 
the shadows. He was gone so quickly and quietly that 
it gave Dick an uncanny feeling. 

" What do you make of it, Al? " he asked his 
brother. " What does Bright Sun mean by what he 
said to us? " 

The glow of the flame fell across Albert s pale face, 
and, by the light of it, Dick saw that he was very 
thoughtful. He seemed to be looking over and beyond 
the fire and the dark prairie, into time rather than space. 

" I think it was a warning, Dick," replied Albert 
at last. " Maybe Bright Sun intended it for only you 
and me. But I want to go up there in the Black Hills, 

11 And so do I. It ll be easier for you, Al, than the 
trip across the continent. When you are up a mile and 
a half or two miles above the sea, you 11 begin to take on 
flesh like a bear in summer. Besides, the gold, Al! 
think of the gold! " 



Albert smiled. He, too, was having happy thoughts. 
The warm glow of the fire clothed him and he was 
breathing easily and peacefully. By and by he sank 
down in his blanket and fell into a sound sleep. Dick 
himself did not yet have any thought of slumber. Wide 
awake visions were pursuing one another through his 
brain. He saw the mountains, dark and shaggy with 
pine forests, the thin, healing air over them, and the 
beds of gold in their bosom, with Albert and himself 
discovering and triumphant. 

The fire died down, and glowed a mass of red em 
bers. The talk sank. Most of the men were asleep, 
either in their blankets or in the wagons. The darkness 
thickened and deepened and came close up to the fires, 
a circling rim of blackness. But Dick was still wakeful, 
dreaming with wide-open eyes his golden dreams. 

As the visions followed one after another, a shadow 
which was not a part of any of them seemed to Dick to 
melt into the uttermost darkness beyond the fires. A 
trace of something familiar in the figure impressed him, 
and, rising, he followed swiftly. 

The figure, still nebulous and noiseless, went on in 
the darkness, and another like it seemed to rise from 
the plain and join it, Then they were lost to the sight 
of the pursuer, seeming to melt into and become a part 
of the surrounding darkness. Dick, perplexed and un 
easy, returned to the fire. The second shadow must 
certainly have been that of a stranger. "What did it 

He resumed his seat before the red glow, clasping his 
arms around his knees, a splendid, resourceful youth 



whom nature and a hardy life had combined to make 
what he was. His brother still slept soundly and peace 
fully, but the procession of golden visions did not pass 
again through Dick s brain; instead, it was a long trail 
of clouds, dark and threatening. He sought again and 
again to conjure the clouds away and bring back the 
golden dreams, but he could not. 

The fire fell to nothing, the triumphant darkness 
swept up and blotted out the last core of light, the 
wind, edged with ice, blew in from the plains. Dick 
shivered, drew a heavy blanket around his own shoul 
ders, and moved a little, as he saw the dim figure of 
Bright Sun passing at the far edge of the wagons, but 
quickly relapsed into stillness. 

Sleep at last pulled down his troubled lids. His fig 
ure sank, and, head on arms, he slumbered soundly. 



UP ! Up, everybody ! was the shout that reached 
Dick s sleeping ears. He sprang to his feet and 
found that the gorgeous sun was flooding the 
prairie with light. Already the high, brilliant skies of 
the Great West were arching over him. Men were cook 
ing breakfast. Teamsters were cracking their whips, 
and the whole camp was alive with a gay and cheerful 
spirit. Everybody seemed to know now that they were 
going for the gold, and, like Dick, they had found it in 
fancy already. 

Breakfast over, the train took up its march, turning 
at a right angle from its old course and now advancing 
almost due north. But this start was made with un 
common alacrity and zeal. There were no sluggards 
now. They, too, had golden visions, and, as if to en 
courage them, the aspect of the country soon began to 
change, and rapidly to grow better. The clouds of dust 
that they raised were thinner. The bunch grass grew 
thicker. Off on the crest of a swell a moving figure was 
seen now and then. " Antelope/ said the hunters. 
Once they passed a slow creek. The water was muddy, 
but it contained no alkali, and animals and men drank 



eagerly. Cottonwoods, the first trees they had seen in 
days, grew on either side of the stream, and they rested 
there awhile in the shade, because the sun was now out 
in full splendor, and the vast plains shimmered in the 

Albert resumed his place in the wagon. Dick had a 
horse which, on becoming foot-sore, had been allowed to 
rest for a few days, and was now well. He mounted 
it and galloped on ahead. The clouds were all gone 
away and the golden visions had come back. He felt 
so strong, so young, and the wonderful air of the plains 
was such a tonic that he urged his horse to a gallop, 
and it was hard for him to keep from shouting aloud in 
joy. He looked eagerly into the north, striving already 
for a sight of the dark mountains that men called the 
Black Hills. The blue gave back nothing but its own 

His horse seemed to share his spirits, and swung 
along with swift and easy stride. Dick looked back 
presently, and saw that the train which had been wind 
ing like a serpent over the plains was lost to sight be 
hind the swells. The surface of the earth had become 
more rolling as they advanced northward, and he knew 
that the train, though out of sight, was not far away. 

He enjoyed for the moment the complete absence of 
all human beings save himself. To be alone then meant 
anything but loneliness. He galloped to the crest of a 
higher swell than usual, and then stopped short. Far 
off on the plain he saw tiny moving figures, a dozen or 
so, and he was sure that they were antelope. They had 
seen antelope before at a great distance, but had not 



bothered about them. Now the instincts of the hunter 
rose in Dick, and he resolved to make a trial of his 

He found in one of the depressions between the 
swells a stunted cottonwood, to which he hitched his 
horse, knowing it would be well hidden there from the 
observation of the herd. He then advanced on foot. He 
had heard that the antelope was a slave to its own curi 
osity, and through that weakness he intended to secure 
his game. 

"When he had gone about half the distance he sank 
down on his hands and knees and began to crawl, a 
laborious and sometimes painful operation, burdened as 
he was with his rifle, and unused to such methods of loco 
motion. Presently he noticed a flutter among the ante 
lope, a raising of timid heads, an alarmed looking in his 
direction. But Dick was prepared. He lay flat upon his 
face, and dug the point of the long hunting knife that 
he carried into the ground, while the wind blew out the 
folds of the red handkerchief which he had tied to the 

Mr. Big Buck Antelope, the chief of the herd and a 
wary veteran, saw the waving red spot on the horizon, 
and his interest was aroused, despite his caution. What 
a singular thing ! It must be investigated ! It might be 
some new kind of food very good for Mr. Big Buck s 
palate and stomach, and no provident antelope could 
afford to let such an opportunity pass. 

He was trembling all over with curiosity, and per 
haps his excitement kept him from seeing the dark shape 
that blurred with the earth just beyond the red some- 



thing, or he may have taken it for a shadow. At any 
event, his curiosity kept him from paying heed to it, and 
he began to approach. His steps were hesitating, and 
now and then he drew away a little, but that singular 
red object lured him on, and yard by yard he drew 

He suddenly saw the black shadow beyond the flut 
tering red object detach itself from the ground, and 
resolve into a terrible shape. His heart sprang up 
in his bosom, and he was about to rush madly away, 
but it was too late. A stream of fire shot forth from 
the dark object and the buck fell, a bullet through 

Dick prepared the animal for dressing, thinking of 
the tender, juicy steaks that Albert would enjoy, and 
then throwing the body across the horse, behind him, 
rode back to the train, proud of his success. 

Conway frowned and said grudging words. He did 
not like, he said, for anybody to leave the train with 
out his permission, and it was foolish, anyhow, for a boy 
to be galloping about as he pleased over the prairie ; he 
might get lost, and there would be nobody to take care 
of the other boy, the sick one. Dick made an easy 
diplomatic reply. He knew that Conway merely wished 
to be unpleasant, but Dick was of a very good nature, 
and he was particularly averse just then to quarreling 
with anybody. He was too full of the glory of living, 
Instead, he offered some of the antelope steaks to Con- 
way, who churlishly accepted them, and that night he 
broiled others for Albert and himself, dividing the resfc 
among the men. 



Albert found antelope steak tender and juicy, and 
he ate with an increasing appetite. Dick noted the in 
crease with pleasure. 

" I wish I could go out and kill antelope/ said Al 

Dick laughed cheerfully. 

1 Kill antelope, he said. * "Why, Al, in six months 
you ll be taking a grizzly bear by the neck and choking 
him to death with your two hands." 

" "Wish I could believe it," said Albert. 

But Dick went to sleep early that night, and slept 
peacefully without dreams or visions, and the next morn 
ing the train resumed its sanguine march. They were 
still ascending, and the character of the country con 
tinued to improve. Bunch grass steadily grew thicker 
and buffalo chips were numerous. The heat in the mid 
dle of the day was still great, but the air was so dry and 
pure that it was not oppressive. Albert dismounted 
from the wagon, and walked for several miles by the side 
of his brother. 

" Shouldn t be surprised if we saw buffalo," said 
Dick. l Heard em talking about it in the train. Bright 
Sun says these are favorite grazing grounds, and there s 
still a lot of buffalo scattered about the plains. 

Albert showed excitement. 

" A buffalo herd! " he exclaimed. " Do you think 
it can really happen, Dick? I never thought I d see 
such a thing! I hope it 11 come true! Jf 

It came true much sooner than Albert hoped. 

Scarcely a half hour after he spoke, Bright Sun, 
who was at the head of the column, stopped his pony 



and pointed to indistinct tiny shadows just under the 

l Buffalo / he said tersely, and after a moment s 
pause he added: " A great herd comes! " 

Dick and Albert were on foot then, but they heard 
his words and followed his pointing finger with the deep 
est interest. The tiny black shadows seemed to come out 
of the horizon as if they stepped from a wall. They 
grew in size and number, and all the west was filled 
with their forms. 

The train resumed its march, bending off under the 
guidance of Bright Sun a little toward the west, and 
it was obvious that the herd would pass near. Dick and 
Albert rejoiced, because they wished to see the buffaloes 
at close quarters, and Dick was hoping also for a shot. 
Others, too, in the train, although their minds were 
set on gold, began to turn their attention now to the 
herd. The sport and the fresh meat alike would be 
welcome. It was Dick s impulse to mount his horse 
and gallop away again, gun in hand, but he made 
a supreme conquest over self and remained. He re 
membered Albert s longing words about the antelope, 
his wish that he, too, tireless, might be able to pursue 
the game. Dick remained quietly by his brother s 

The whole train stopped presently at Conway s order 
on the crest of a swell, and drew itself up in a circle. 
Many of the men were now mounted and armed for an 
attack upon the herd, but at the suggestion of Bright 
Sun they waited a little, until the opportunity should 
become more convenient. 



" It is a big herd/ said Bright Sun; " perhaps the 
6iggest that one can ever see now. 

It certainly seemed immense to Dick and Albert. 
The great animals came on in an endless stream from 
the blue wall of the horizon. The vast procession stead 
ily broadened and lengthened and it moved with unceas 
ing step toward the south. The body of it was solid 
black, with figures which at the distance blended into 
one mass, but on the flanks hung stragglers, lawless old 
bulls or weaklings, and outside there was a fringe of 
hungry wolves, snapping and snarling, and waiting a 
chance to drag down some failing straggler. 

Far over the plain spread the herd, thousands and 
tens of thousands, and the earth shook with their tread. 
Confused bellowings and snortings arose, and the dust 
hung thick. 

Dick and Albert stared with intent eyes at the won 
derful scene. The herd was drawing nearer and nearer. 
It would pass only a few hundred yards from the crest 
on which the train stood. Already the hunters were 
shouting to one another and galloping away, but Dick 
did not stir from Albert s side. Albert s eyes were ex 
panded, and the new color in his face deepened. His 
breath came in the short, quick fashion of one who is 
excited. He suddenly turned to his brother. 

" The men are off! Why aren t you with them, 
Dick? " he exclaimed. 

11 I thought I wouldn t go/ replied Dick evasively. 
* There 11 be enough without me. 

Albert stared. Not hunt buffalo when one could? 
It was unbelievable. Then he comprehended. But he 



would not have it that way ! It was noble of Dick, but 
it should not be so for a moment. He cried out, a note 
of anxiety in his voice : 

1 No, Dick, you shall not stay here with me ! My 
time will come later on ! Jump on your horse, Dick, and 
join em ! I won t forgive you if you don t ! " 

Dick saw that Albert was in earnest, and he knew 
that it would be better for them both now if he should go. 

" All right, Al! " he cried, " I ll pick out a good fat 
one." He jumped on his horse and in a moment was 
galloping at full speed over the plain toward the great 
herd which now rushed on, black and thundering. 

Dick heard shots already from those who had pre 
ceded him, and the exultant shouts of the men mingled 
with the roar of mighty tramplings. But it was not all 
triumph for the men, few of whom were experienced. 
Two or three had been thrown by shying horses, and 
with difficulty escaped being trodden to death under the 
feet of the herd. The herd itself was so immense that it 
did not notice these few wasps on a distant flank, and 
thundered steadily on southward. 

Dick s own horse, frightened by such a tremendous 
sight, shied and jumped, but the boy had a sure seat 
and brought him around again. Dick himself was 
somewhat daunted by the aspect of the herd. If he and 
his horse got in the way, they would go down forever, 
as surely as if engulfed by an avalanche. 

The horse shied again and made a mighty jump, as 
a huge bull, red-eyed and puffing, charged by. Dick, 
who was holding his rifle in one hand, slipped far over, 
and with great difficulty regained his balance on the 



horse s back. When he was secure again, he turned his 
mount and galloped along for some distance on the 
flank of the herd, seeking a suitable target for his bulled 
The effect was dizzying. So many thousands were rush 
ing beside him that the shifting panorama made him 
wink his eyes rapidly. Vast clouds of dust floated 
about, now and then enveloping him, and that made him 
wink his eyes, too. But he continued, nevertheless, to 
seek for his target a fat cow. Somehow he didn t seem 
to see anything just then but old bulls. They were thick 
on the flanks of the herd either as stragglers or protect 
ors, and Dick was afraid to press in among them in his 
search for the cow. 

His opportunity came at last. A young cow, as fat 
as one could wish, was thrown on the outside by some 
movement of the herd, caught, as it were, like a piece 
of driftwood in an eddy, and Dick instantly fired at her. 
She staggered and went down, but at the same instant 
a huge, shaggy bull careened against Dick and his horse. 
It was not so much a charge as an accident, the chance 
of Dick s getting in the bull s way, and the boy s escape 
was exceedingly narrow. 

His horse staggered and fell to his knees. The vio 
lence of the shock wrested Dick s rifle from his hand, 
and he was barely quick enough to grasp it as it was 
sliding across the saddle. But he did save it, and the 
horse, trembling and frightened, recovered his feet. By 
that time the old bull and his comrades were gone. 

Dick glanced around and was relieved to see that 
nobody had noticed his plight. They were all too much 
absorbed in their own efforts to pay any heed to him. 



The boy took a deep, long breath. He had killed a buf 
falo, despite his inexperience. There was the cow to 
show for it. 

The herd thundered off to the southward, the clouds 
of dust and the fringe of wolves following it. About a 
dozen of their number had fallen before the rifles, but 
Dick had secured the fattest and tenderest. Albert, as 
proud as Dick himself of his triumph, came down on the 
plain and helped as much as he could in skinning and 
cutting up the cow. Dick wished to preserve the robe, 
and they spread it out on the wagon to dry. 

The train made no further attempt to advance that 
day, but devoted the afternoon to a great feast. Bright 
Sun showed them how to cook the tenderest part of the 
hump in the coals, and far into the night the fires 

" We will see no more buffaloes for a while, " said 
Bright Sun. To-morrow we reach another little river 
coming down from the hills, and the ground becomes 

Bright Sun told the truth. They reached the river 
about noon of the next day, and, as it flowed between 
steep banks, the crossing was difficult. It took many 
hours to get on the other side, and two or three axles 
were broken by the heavy jolts. Conway raged and 
swore, calling them a clumsy lot, and some of the men 
refused to take his abuse, replying to his hard words 
with others equally as hard. Pistols were drawn and 
there was promise of trouble, but it was finally stopped, 
partly by the persuasion of others, and partly of its own 
accord. The men were still feeling the desire for gold 



too strongly to fight while on the way to it. Dick and 
Albert kept aloof from these contentions, steadily mind 
ing their own business, and they found, as others do, 
that it paid. 

They came presently into a better country, and the 
way led for a day or two through a typical part of the 
Great Plains, not a flat region, but one of low, monot 
onous swells. Now and then they crossed a shallow lit 
tle creek, and occasionally they came to pools, some 
of which were tinged with alkali. There were numerous 
small depressions, two or three feet deep, and Dick 
knew that they were buffalo wallows. He and Albert 
examined them with interest. 

" This is buffalo country again, " said Dick. 
" Everything proves it. The grass here is the best that 
we have seen in a long time, and I imagine that it s just 
the sort of place they would love." 

The grass was, indeed, good, as Dick had said, not 
merely clumps of it. but often wide, carpeted spaces. 
It was somewhat dry, and turning brown, but so big and 
strong an animal as the buffalo would not mind it. In 
fact, they saw several small groups of buffaloes grazing 
at a distance, usually on the crest of one of the low 
swells. As they already had plenty of buffalo meat, the 
men of the train did not trouble them, and the great 
animals would continue to crop the grass undisturbed. 

About a week after the buffalo hunt they camped in 
a great plain somewhat flatter than any that they had 
encountered hitherto, and drew up the wagons in a loose 

The day had been very hot, but, as usual on the 


plains, the night brought coolness. The fire which Dick 
made of buffalo chips was not only useful, but it felt 
pleasant, too, as they sat beside it, ate their supper, and 
watched the great inclosing circle of darkness creep up 
closer and closer to the camp. There was not much 
noise about them. The men were tired, and as soon 
as they ate their food they fell asleep in the wagons or 
on the ground. The tethered horses and mules stirred 
a little for a while, but they, too, soon rested in peace. 

" You take the wagon, Al," said Dick, " but I think 
111 sleep on the ground." 

Albert said good night and disappeared in the wagon. 
Dick stood up and looked over the camp. Only two or 
three fires were yet burning, and not a dozen men were 
awake. He saw dark figures here and there on the 
ground, and knew that they were those of sleepers. 
Three sentinels had been posted, but Dick was quite sure 
from the general character of the train that later on 
they would sleep like the others. All his instincts of 
order and fitness rebelled against the management of 
this camp. 

Dick rolled himself in his blanket and lay down by 
the little fire that he had built. The dry, clean earth 
made a good bed, and with his left elbow under his 
head he gazed into the fire, which, like all fires of buffalo 
chips, was now rapidly dying, leaving little behind 
but light ashes that the first breeze would scatter 
through space. 

He watched the last blaze sink and go out, he saw the 
last coal die, then, when a few sparks flew upward, 
there was blank darkness where the fire had been. All 



the other fires were out, too, and only the dim figures 
of the wagons showed. He felt, for a little while, as if 
he were alone in the wilderness, but he was not afraid. 
All was darkness below, and the wind was moaning, but 
overhead was a blue sky filled with friendly stars. 

Dick could not go to sleep for a long time. From 
the point where he lay he could now see two of the sen 
tinels walking back and forth, rifle on shoulder. He 
did not believe that they would continue to do so many 
hours, and he had a vague sort of desire to prove that 
he was right. Having nothing else to do he watched 

The nearer sentinel grew lazier in his walk, and his 
beat became shorter. At last he dropped his rifle to the 
ground, leaned his folded arms on its muzzle, and gazed 
toward the camp, where, so far as he could see, there was 
nothing but darkness and sleep. The other presently 
did the same. Then they began short walks back and 
forth, but soon both sat down on the ground, with their 
rifles between their knees, and after that they did not 
stir. "Watching as closely as he could Dick could not 
observe the slightest movement on the part of either, 
and he knew that they were asleep. He laughed to him 
self, pleased, in a way, to know that he had been right, 
although it was only another evidence of the careless 
ness and indifference general throughout the train. 

He fell asleep himself in another half hour, but he 
awoke about midnight, and he was conscious at once that 
he had been awakened not by a troubled mind, but by 
something external and unusual. He was lying with his 
right ear to the ground, and it seemed to him that a 



slight trembling motion ran through the solid earth. He 
did not so much hear it as feel it, and tried to persuade 
himself that it was mere fancy, but failed. He sat up, 
and he no longer observed the trembling, but when he 
put his ear to the ground again it was stronger. 

It could not be fancy. It was something real and 
extraordinary. He glanced at the sentinels, but they 
were sound asleep. He felt a desire to rouse somebody, 
but if it proved to be nothing they would laugh at him, 
or more likely call him hard names. He tried ear to 
earth once more. The trembling was still growing in 
strength, and mixed with it was a low, groaning sound, 
like the swell of the sea on the shore. The sound came 
with the wind from the north. 

Dick sprang to his feet. There, in the north, was a 
faint light which grew with amazing rapidity. In a 
minute almost it seemed to redden the whole northern 
heavens, and the groaning sound became a roll, like that 
of approaching thunder. 

A shadow flitted by Dick. 

" What is it, Bright Sun? What is it? " exclaimed 
the boy. 

" The dry grass burns, and a mighty buffalo herd 
flees before it." 

Then Bright Sun was gone, and the full sense of their 
danger burst upon Dick in overwhelming tide. The 
flames came on, as fast as a horse s gallop, and the buf 
faloes, in thousands and tens of thousands, were their 
vanguard. The camp lay directly in the path of fire and 
buffalo. The awakened sentinels were on their feet now, 
and half-clad men were springing from the wagons. 



Dick stood perfectly still for perhaps a minute, while 
the fire grew brighter and the thunder of a myriad hoofs 
grew louder. Then he remembered what he had so often 
read and heard, and the crisis stirred him to swift action. 
While the whole camp was a scene of confusion, of 
shouts, of oaths, and of running men, he sped to its 
south side, to a point twenty or thirty yards from the 
nearest wagon. There he knelt in the dry grass and 
drew his box of matches from his pocket. It happened 
that Conway saw. 

* "What are you doing, you boy ? he cried threaten 

But Dick did not care for Conway just then. 

" Back fire! Back fire! " he shouted, and struck a 
match. It went out, but he quickly struck another, 
shielded it with one hand and touched the tiny flame 
to the grass. A flame equally tiny answered, but in an 
instant it leaped into the size and strength of a giant. 
The blaze rose higher than Dick s head, ran swiftly to 
right and left, and then roared away to the south, eating 
up everything in its path. 

" Well done," said a voice at Dick s elbow. " It is 
the only thing that could save the train." 

It was Bright Sun who spoke, and he had come so 
silently that Dick did not see him until then. 

Conway understood now, but without a word of ap 
proval he turned away and began to give orders, mixed 
with much swearing. He had a rough sort of efficiency, 
and spurred by his tongue and their own dreadful neces 
sity, the men worked fast. The horses and mules, except 
three or four which had broken loose and were lost, were 



hitched to the wagons in half the usual time. There 
were no sluggards now. 

Dick helped, and Albert, too, but to both it seemed 
that the work would never be done. The back fire was 
already a half mile away, gathering volume and speed 
as it went, but the other was coming on at an equal pace. 
Deer and antelope were darting past them, and the 
horses and mules were rearing in terror. 

" Into the burned ground/ shouted Conway, "an 
keep the wagons close together! " 

No need to urge the animals. They galloped south 
ward over earth which was still hot and smoking, but 
they knew that something was behind them, far more 
terrible than sparks and smoke. 

Dick made Albert jump into their own wagon, while 
he ran beside it. As he ran, he looked back, and saw a 
sight that might well fill the bravest soul with dread. 
A great black line, crested with tossing horns, was bear 
ing down upon them. The thunder of hoofs was like 
the roar of a hurricane, but behind the herd was a vast 
wall of light, which seemed to reach from the earth to 
the heavens and which gave forth sparks in myriads. 
Dick knew that they had been just in time. 

They did not stop until they had gone a full quarter 
of a mile, and then the wagons were hastily drawn up in 
a rude circle, with the animals facing the center, that 
is, the inside, and still rearing and neighing in terror. 
Then the men, rifle in hand, and sitting in the rear of 
the wagons, faced the buffalo herd. 

Dick was with the riflemen, and, like the others, he 
began to fire as soon as the vanguard of the buffaloes 



was near enough. The wagons were a solid obstacle 
which not even King Bison could easily run over, but 
Dick and Albert thought the herd would never split, al 
though the bullets were poured into it at a central point 
like a driven wedge. 

But the falling buffaloes were an obstacle to those 
behind them, and despite their mad panic, the living 
became conscious of the danger in front. The herd split 
at last, the cleft widened to right and left, and then the 
tide, in two great streams, flowed past the wagon train. 

Dick ceased firing and sat with Albert on the tail of 
the wagon. The wall of fire, coming to the burned 
ground, went out in the center, but the right and left 
ends of it, swinging around, still roared to the south 
ward, passing at a distance of a quarter of a mile on 
either side. 

Dick and Albert watched until all the herd was gone, 
and when only smoke and sparks were left, helped to 
get the camp into trim again. Conway knew that the 
boy had saved them, but he gave him no thanks. 

It took the ground a long time to cool, and they ad 
vanced all the next day over a burned area. They trav 
eled northward ten days, always ascending, and they 
were coming now to a wooded country. They crossed 
several creeks, flowing down from the higher mountains, 
and along the beds of these they found cottonwood, ash, 
box elder, elm, and birch. On the steeper slopes were 
numerous cedar brakes and also groves of yellow pine. 
There was very little undergrowth, but the grass grew 
in abundance. Although it was now somewhat dry, 
the horses and mules ate it eagerly. The buffaloes 



did not appear here, but they saw many signs of 
bear, mule deer, panther or mountain lion, and other 

They camped one night in a pine grove by the side 
of a brook that came rushing and foaming down from 
the mountains, and the next morning Albert, who walked 
some distance from the water, saw a silver-tip bear lap 
ping the water of the stream. The bear raised his head 
and looked at Albert, and Albert stopped and looked at 
the bear. The boy was unarmed, but he was not afraid. 
The bear showed no hostility, only curiosity. He gazed 
a few moments, stretched his nose as if he would sniff 
the air, then turned and lumbered away among the 
pines. Albert returned to the camp, but he said noth 
ing of the bear to anybody except Dick. 

" He was such a jolly, friendly looking fellow, Dick, " 
he said, " that I didn t want any of these men to go 
hunting him." 

Dick laughed. 

* Don t you worry about that, Al, he said. They 
are hunting gold, not bears. 

On the twelfth day they came out on a comparatively 
level plateau, where antelope were grazing and prairie 
chickens whirring. It looked like a fertile country, and 
they were glad of easy traveling for the wagons. Just 
at the edge of the pine woods that they were leaving 
was a beautiful little lake of clear, blue water, by which 
they stayed half a day, refreshing themselves, and catch 
ing some excellent fish, the names of which they did 
not know. 

" How much longer, Bright Sun, will it take us to 


reach the gold country? " asked Conway of the Indian, 
in Dick s hearing. 

" About a week/ replied Bright Sun. " The way 
presently will be very rough and steep, up ! up ! up ! and 
we can go only a few miles a day, but the mountains are 
already before us. See ! 

He pointed northward and upward, and there before 
them was the misty blue loom that Dick knew was the 
high mountains. In those dark ridges lay the gold that 
they were going to seek, and his heart throbbed. Albert 
and he could do such wonderful things with it. 

They were so high already that the nights were crisp 
with cold ; but at the edge of the forest, running down 
to the little lake, fallen wood was abundant, and they 
built that night a great fire of fallen boughs that crac 
kled and roared merrily. Yet they hovered closely, be 
cause the wind, sharp with ice, was whistling down from 
the mountains, and the night air, even in the little val 
ley, was heavy with frost. Dick s buffalo robe was dry 
now, and he threw it around Albert, as he sat before the 
fire. It enveloped the boy like a great blanket, but far 
warmer, the soft, smooth fur caressing his cheeks, and, 
as Albert drew it closer, he felt very snug indeed. 

" We cross this valley to-morrow," said Dick, " and 
then we begin a steeper climb." 

" Then it will be mountains, only mountains," said 
Bright Sun. * * We go into regions which no white men, 
except the fur hunters, have ever trod." 

Dick started. He had not known that the Indian was 
near. Certainly he was not there a moment ago. There 
was something uncanny in the way in which Bright Sun 



would appear on noiseless footstep, like a wraith rising 
from the earth. 

" I shall be glad of it, Bright Sun," said Albert 
"I m tired of the plains, and they say that the moun 
tains are good for many ills. 

Bright Sun s enigmatic glance rested upon Albert a 

" Yes," he said, " the mountains will cure many 

Dick glanced at him, and once more he received the 
impression of thought and power. The Indian s nose 
curved like an eagle s beak, and the firelight perhaps 
exaggerated both the curre and its effect. The whole 
impression of thought and force was heightened by the 
wide brow and the strong chin. 

Dick looked back into the fire, and when he glanced 
around a few moments again, Bright Sun was not there. 
He had gone as silently as he had come. 

" That Indian gives me the shivers sometimes," he 
said to Albert. i What do you make of him ? 

" I don t know," replied the boy. " Sometimes I 
like him and sometimes I don t. 

Albert was soon asleep, wrapped in the buffalo robe, 
and Dick by and by followed him to the same pleasant 
land. The wind, whistling as it blew down from the 
mountains, grew stronger and colder, and its tone was 
hostile, as if it resented the first presence of white men in 
the little valley by the lake. 



THEY resumed the journey early the next day, 
Bright Sun telling Conway that they could reach 
the range before sunset, and that they would find 
there an easy pass leading a mile or two farther on to 
a protected and warm glen. 

" That s the place for our camp/ said Conway, 
and he urged the train forward. 

The traveling was smooth and easy, and they soon 
left the little blue lake well behind, passing through a 
pleasant country well wooded with elm, ash, birch, cot> 
tonwood, and box elder, and the grass growing high 
everywhere. They crossed more than one clear little 
stream, a pleasant contrast to the sluggish, muddy creeki 
of the prairies. 

The range, toward which the head of the train was 
pointing, now came nearer. The boys saw its slopes, 
shaggy with dark pine, and they knew that beyond it lay 
other and higher slopes, also dark with pine. The air 
was of a wonderful clearness, showing in the east and 
beyond the zenith a clear silver tint, while the west was 
pure red gold with the setting sun. 

Nearer and nearer came the range. The great pines, 


blurred at first into an unbroken mass, now stood out 
singly, showing their giant stems. Afar a flash of foamy 
white appeared, where a brook fell in a foamy cascade. 
Presently they were within a quarter of a mile of the 
range, and its shadow fell over the train. In the west 
the sun was low. 

" The pass is there, straight ahead/ said Bright 
Sun, pointing to the steep range. 

11 I don t see any opening," said Conway. 

"It is so narrow and the pines hide it," rejoined 
Bright Sun, " but it is smooth and easy." 

Albert was at the rear of the train. He had 
chosen to walk in the later hours of the afternoon. He 
had become very tired, but, unwilling to confess it even 
to himself, he did not resume his place in the wagon. 
His weariness made him lag behind. 

Albert was deeply sensitive to the impressions of 
time and place. The twilight seemed to him to fall sud 
denly like a great black robe. The pines once more 
blurred into a dark, unbroken mass. The low sun in the 
west dipped behind the hills, and the rays of red and 
gold that it left were chill and cold. 

* Your brother wishes to see you. He is at the foot 
of the creek that we crossed fifteen minutes ago." 

It was Bright Sun who spoke. 

Dick wants to see me at the crossing of the creek ! 
Why, I thought he was ahead of me with the train! " 
exclaimed Albert. 

" No, he is waiting for you. He said that it was 
important," repeated Bright Sun. 

Albert turned in the darkening twilight and went 


back on the trail of the train toward the crossing of 
the ereek. Bright Sun went to the head of the train, 
and saw Dick walking there alone and looking at the 

" Tour brother is behind at the creek/ said Bright 
Sun. * He is ill and wishes you. Hurry ! I think it is 
important! " 

11 Albert at the creek, ill? " exclaimed Dick in sur 
prise and alarm. * Why, I thought he was here with the 
train! " 

But Bright Sun was gone on ahead. Dick turned 
back hastily, and ran along the trail through the twi 
light that was now fast merging into night. 

" Al, ill and left behind! " he exclaimed again and 
again. " He must have overexerted himself! " 

His alarm deepened when he saw how fast the dark 
ness was increasing. The chill bars of red and gold were 
gone from the west. When he looked back he could see 
the train no more, and heard only the faint sound of the 
cracking of whips. The train was fast disappearing in 
the pass. 

But Dick had become a good woodsman and plains 
man. His sense of direction was rarely wrong, and he 
went straight upon the trail for the creek. Night had 
now come but it was not very dark, and presently he saw 
the flash of water. It was the creek, and a few more 
steps took him there. A figure rose out of the shadows. 

" Al! " he cried. " Have you broken down? Why 
didn t you get into the wagon? " 

" Dick," replied Albert in a puzzled tone, " there s 
nothing the matter with me, except that I m tired. 



Bright Sun told me that you were here waiting for me, 
and that you had something important to tell me. I 
couldn t find you, and now you come running/ 

Dick stopped in amazement. 

" Bright Sun said I was waiting here for you, and 
had something important to tell you? " exclaimed Dick, 
" Why, he told me that you were ill, and had been left 
unnoticed at the crossing ! 

The two boys stared at each other. 

" "What does it mean? " they exclaimed together. 

From the dark pass before them came a sound which 
in the distance resembled the report of a firecracker, 
followed quickly by two or three other sounds, and then 
by many, as if the whole pack had been ignited at once. 
But both boys knew it was not firecrackers. It was 
something far more deadly and terrible a hail of rifle 
bullets. They looked toward the pass and saw there pink 
and red flashes appearing and reappearing. Shouts, and 
mingled with them a continuous long, whining cry, a 
dreadful overnote, came to their ears. 

11 The train has been attacked! " cried Dick. " It 
has marched straight into an ambush! " 

" Indians? " exclaimed Albert, who was trembling 
violently from sheer physical and mental excitement. 

" It couldn t be anything else! >5< replied Dick, 
" This is their country! And they must be in great 
force, too ! Listen how the fight grows ! " 

The volume of the firing increased rapidly, but above 
it always rose that terrible whining note. The red and 
pink flashes in the pass danced and multiplied, and the 
wind brought the faint odor of smoke. 



" We must help! " exclaimed Dick. " One can t 
stand here and see them all cut down ! 

He forgot in his generous heart, at that moment, that 
*ie disliked Conway and all his men, and that he and 
Albert had scarcely a friend in the train. He thought 
only of doing what he could to beat back the Indian 
attack, and Albert felt the same impulse. Both had 
their rifles fine, breech-loading, repeating weapons, 
and with these the two might do much. No one 
ever parted with his arms after entering the Indian 

" Come on, Albert! " exclaimed Dick, and the two 
ran toward the pass. But before they had gone a hun 
dred yards they stopped as if by the same impulse. 
That terrible whining note was now rising higher and 
higher. It was not merely a war whoop, it had become 
also a song of triumph. There was a certain silvery 
quality in the flight air, a quality that made for illu 
mination, and Dick thought he saw dusky forms flitting 
here and there in the mouth of the pass behind the 
train. It was only fancy, because he was too far away 
for such perception, but in this case fancy and truth 
were the same. 

" Hurry, Dick! Let s hurry! " exclaimed the im 
pulsive and generous Albert. If we don t, we 11 be too 
late to do anything ! 

They started again, running as fast as they could 
toward that space in the dark well where the flashes of 
red and blue came and went. Dick was so intent that 
he did not hear the short, quick gasps of Albert, but he 
did hear a sudden fall beside him and stopped short, 



Albert was lying on his back unconscious. A faint tinge 
of abnormal red showed on his lips. 

11 Oh, I forgot! I forgot! " groaned Dick. 

Such sudden and violent exertion, allied with the 
excitement of the terrible moment, had overpowered the 
weak boy. Dick bent down in grief. At first he thought 
his brother was dead, but the breath still came. 

Dick did not know what to do. In the pass, under 
the shadow of night, the pines, and the mountain wall, 
the battle still flared and crackled, but its volume was 
dying. Louder rose the fierce, whining yell, and its note 
was full of ferocity and triumph, while the hoarser csies 
of the white men became fewer and lower. Now Dick 
really saw dusky figures leaping about between him and 
the train. Something uttering a shrill, unearthly cry of 
pain crashed heavily through the bushes near him and 
quickly passed on. It was a wounded horse, running 

Dick shuddered. Then he lifted Albert in his arms, 
and he had the forethought, even in that moment of ex 
citement and danger, to pick up Albert s rifle also. 
Strong as he naturally was, he had then the strength 
of four, and, turning off at a sharp angle, he ran 
with Albert toward a dense thicket which clustered at 
the foot of the mountain wall. 

He went a full three hundred yards before he was 
conscious of weariness, and he was then at the edge of 
the thicket, which spread over a wide space. He laid 
Albert down on some of last year s old leaves, and then 
his quick eyes caught the sight of a little pool among 
some rocks. He dipped up the water in his felt hat, and 



after carefully wiping the red stain from his brother s 
lips, poured the cold fluid upon his face. 

Albert revived, sat up, and tried to speak, but Dick 
pressed his hand upon his mouth. 

" Nothing above a whisper, Al," he said softly. 
" The fight is not yet wholly over, and the Sioux are all 

" I fainted, " said Albert in a whisper. " Dick, 
what a miserable, useless fellow I am! But it was the 
excitement and the run ! 

" It was doubtless a lucky thing that you fainted," 
Dick whispered back. " If you hadn t, both of us would 
probably be dead now." 

"It s not all over yet," said Albert. 

* No, but it soon will be. Thank God, we Ve got our 
rifles. Do you feel strong enough to walk now, Al ? The 
deeper we get into the thicket the better it will be 
for us." 

Albert rose slowly to his feet, rocked a little, and 
then stood straight. 

Only a few flashes were appearing now in the pass. 
Dick knew too well who had been victorious. The battle 
over, the Sioux would presently be ranging for strag 
glers and for plunder. He put one arm under Albert, 
while he carried both of the rifles himself. They walked 
on through the thicket and the night gradually dark 
ened. The silvery quality was gone from the air, and 
the two boys were glad. It would not be easy to find 
them now. In the pass both the firing and the long, 
whining whoop ceased entirely. The flashes of red or 
blue appeared no more. Silence reigned there and in 



the valley. Dick shivered despite himself. For the mo 
ment the silence was more terrible than the noise of bat 
tle had been. Black, ominous shadows seemed to float 
down from the mountains, clothing all the valley. A 
chill wind came up, moaning among the pines. The val 
ley, so warm and beautiful in the day, now inspired Dick 
with a sudden and violent repulsion. It was a hateful 
place, the abode of horror and dread. He wished to 
escape from it. 

They crossed the thicket and came up against the 
mountain wall. But it was not quite so steep as it had 
/coked in the distance, and in the faint light Dick saw the 
trace of a trail leading up the slope among the pines, 
it was not the trail of human beings, merely a faint path 
indicating that wild animals, perhaps cougars, had 
passed that way. 

How are you feeling, Al ? " he asked, repeating his 
anxious query. 

" Better. My strength has come back/* replied his 

" Then we ll go up the mountain. "We must get as 
far away as we can from those fiends, the Sioux. Thank 
God, Al, we re spared together! " 

Each boy felt a moment of devout thankfulness. 
They had not fallen, and they were there together ! Each 
also thought of the singular message that Bright Sun 
had given to them, but neither spoke of it. 

They climbed for more than half an hour in silence, 
save for an occasional whisper. The bushes helped Al 
bert greatly. He pulled himself along by means of 
them, and now and then the two boys stopped that he 



might rest. He was still excited under the influence of 
the night, the distant battle, and their peril, and he 
breathed in short gasps, but did not faint again. Dick 
thrust his arm at intervals under his brother s and 
helped him in the ascent. 

After climbing a quarter of an hour, they stopped 
longer than usual and looked down at the pass, which 
Dick reckoned should now be almost beneath them. 
They heard the faint sound of a shot, saw a tiny beam 
of red appear, then disappear, and after that there was 
only silence and blank darkness. 

" It s all over now/ whispered Albert, and it was a 
whisper not of caution, but of awe. 

" Yes, it s all over," Dick said in the same tone. 
" It s likely, Al, that you and I alone out of all that 
train are alive. Con way and all the others are gone." 

" Except Bright Sun," said Albert. 

The two boys looked at each other again, but said 
nothing. They then resumed their climbing, finding it 
easier this time. They reached a height at which the 
undergrowth ceased, but the pines, growing almost in 
ordered rows, stretched onward and upward. Dick sent 
occasional glances toward the pass, but the darkness 
there remained unbroken. Every time he turned his 
eyes that way he seemed to be looking into a black wefl 
of terror. 


Both Dick and Albert, after the first hour of ascent, 
had a feeling of complete safety. The Sioux, occupied 
with their great ambush and victory, would not know 
there had been two stragglers behind the train, and even 
had they known, to search for them among the dense 



forests of distant mountain slopes would be a futile task. 
Dick s mind turned instead to the needs of their situa 
tion, and he began to appreciate the full danger and 
hardship of it. 

Albert and he were right in feeling thankful that 
they were spared together, although they were alone in 
the wilderness in every sense of the word. It was hun 
dreds of miles north, east, south, and west to the habi 
tations of white men. Before them, fold on fold, lay 
unknown mountains, over which only hostile savages 
roamed. Both he and Albert had good rifles and belts 
full of cartridges, but that was all. It was a situation 
to daunt the most fearless heart, and the shiver that sud 
denly ran over Dick did not come from the cold of the 

They took a long rest in a little clump of high pines 
and saw a cold, clear moon come out in the pale sky. 
They felt the awful sense of desolation and loneliness, for 
it seemed to them that the moon was looking down on an 
uninhabited world in which only they were left. They 
heard presently little rustlings in the grass, and thought 
at first it was another ambush, though they knew upon 
second thought that it was wild creatures moving on the 
mountain side. 

" Come, Al," said Dick. " Another half hour will 
put us on top of the ridge, and then I think it will be safe 
for us to stop." 

" I hope they ll be keeping a good room for us at the 
hotel up there," said Albert wanly. 

Dick tried to laugh, but it was a poor imitation and 
he gave it up. 



" We may find some sort of a sheltered nook/ he 
said hopefully. 

Dick had become conscious that it was cold, since 
the fever in his blood was dying down. Whenever they 
stopped and their bodies relaxed, they suffered from 
chill. He was deeply worried about Albert, who was 
in no condition to endure exposure on a bleak mountain, 
and wished now for the buffalo robe they had regarded 
as such a fine trophy. 

They reached the crest of the ridge in a half hour, 
as Dick had expected, and looking northward in the 
moonlight saw the dim outlines of other ridges and 
peaks in a vast, intricate maze. A narrow, wooded val 
ley seemed to occupy the space between the ridge on 
which they stood and the next one parallel to it to the 

It ought to be a good place down there to hide and 
rest/ said Albert. 

" I think you re right, " said Dick, " and we ll go 
down the slope part of the way before we camp for the 
night. " 

They found the descent easy. It was still open forest, 
mostly pine with a sprinkling of ash and oak, and it was 
warmer on the northerr side, the winds having but lit 
tle sweep there. 

The moon became brighter, but it remained cold and 
pitiless, recking nothing of the tragedy in the pass. It 
gave Dick a chill to look at it. But he spent most of the 
time watching among the trees for some sheltered spot 
that Nature had made. It was over an hour before he 
found it, a hollow among rocks, with dwarf pines clus- 



tering thickly at the sides and in front. It was so well 
hidden that he would have missed it had he not been 
looking for just such a happy alcove, and at first he was 
quite sure that some wild animal must be using it as 
a den. 

He poked in the barrel of his rifle, but nothing flew 
out, and then, pulling back the pine boughs, he saw no 
signs of a previous occupation. 

" It s just waiting for us, Al, old fellow," he said 
gayly, but nothing of this kind is so good that it can t 
be made better. Look at all those dead leaves over there 
under the oaks. Been drying ever since last year and 
fuU of warmth/* 

They raked the dead leaves into the nook, covering 
the floor of it thickly, and piling them up on the sides 
as high as they would stay, and then they lay down in 
side, letting the pine boughs in front fall back into place. 
It was really warm and cozy in there for two boys who 
had been living out of doors for weeks, and Dick drew a 
deep, long breath of content. 

" Suppose a panther should come snooping along," 
said Albert, " and think this the proper place for his 
bed and board? " 

" He d never come in, don t you fear. He d smell 
us long before he got here, and then strike out in the 
other direction." 

Albert was silent quite a while, and as he made no 
noise, Dick thought he was asleep. But Albert spoke at 
last, though he spoke low and his tone was very solemn, 

" Dick," he said, " we ve really got a lot to be 
thankful for. You know that." 



** I certainly do," said Dick with emphasis. " Now 
you go to sleep, Al." 

Albert was silent again, and presently his breath 
ing became very steady and regular. Dick touched 
him and saw that he was fast asleep. Then the older 
boy took off his coat and carefully spread it on the 
younger, after which he raked a great lot of the dry 
leaves over himself, and soon he, too, was sound 

Dick awoke far in the night and stirred in his bed 
of leaves. But the movement caused him a little pain, 
and he wondered dimly, because he had not yet fully 
come through the gates of sleep, and he did not remem 
ber where he was or what had happened. A tiny shaft 
of pale light fell on his forehead, and he looked up 
through pine branches. It was the moon that sent the 
beam down upon him, but he could see nothing else. 
He stirred again and the little pain returned. Then all 
of it came back to him. 

Dick reached out his hand and touched Albert. His 
brother was sleeping soundly, and he was still warm, the 
coat having protected him. But Dick was cold, despite 
the pines, the rocks, and the leaves. It was the cold 
that had caused the slight pain in his joints when he 
moved, but he rose softly lest he wake Albert, and 
slipped outside, standing in a clear space between the 

The late moon was of uncommon brilliancy. It 
seemed a molten mass of burnished silver, and its light 
fell over forest and valley, range and peak. The trees 
on the slopes stood out like lacework, but far down in 



the valley the light seemed to shimmer like waves on a 
sea of silver mist. It was all inexpressibly cold, and of a 
loneliness that was uncanny. Nothing stirred, not a 
twig, not a blade of grass. It seemed to Dick that 
if even a leaf fell on the far side of the mountain he 
could hear it. It was a great, primeval world, voice 
less and unpeopled, brooding in a dread and mystic 

Dick shivered. He had shivered often that night, 
but now the chill went to the marrow. It was the chill 
the first man must have felt when he was driven from 
the garden and faced the globe-girdling forest. He came 
back to the rock covert and leaned over until he could 
hear his brother breathing beneath the pine boughs. 
Then he felt the surge of relief, of companionship after 
all, he was not alone in the wilderness! and returned 
to the clear space between the pines. There he walked 
up and down briskly, swinging his arms, exercising all 
his limbs, until the circulation was fully restored and he 
was warm again. 

Dick felt the immensity of the problem that lay be 
fore him one that he alone must solve if it were to be 
solved at all. He and Albert had escaped the massacre, 
but how were they to live in that wilderness of moun 
tains? It was not alone the question of food. How 
were they to save themselves from death by exposure? 
Those twinges in his knees had been warning signs. 
Oddly enough, his mind now fastened upon one thing. 
He was longing for the lost buffalo robe, his first great 
prize. It had been so large and so warm, and the fur 
was so soft. It would cover both Albert and himself, 



and keep them warm on the coldest night. If they only 
had it now! He thought more of that robe just then 
than he did of the food that they would need in the 
morning. Cast forth upon a primeval world, this 
first want occupied his mind to the exclusion of all 

He returned to the rocky alcove presently, and lay 
down again. He was too young and too healthy to re^ 
main awake long, despite the full measure of their situ 
ation, and soon he slept soundly once more. He was 
first to awake in the morning, and the beam that struck 
upon his forehead was golden instead of silver. It was 
warm, too, and cheerful, and as Dick parted the 
branches and looked out, he saw that the sun was riding 
high. It had been daylight a full three hours at least, 
but it did not matter. Time was perhaps the only com 
modity of which he and Albert now had enough and 
to spare. 

He took his coat off Albert and put it on himself, lest 
Albert might suspect, and then began to sing purposely, 
with loudness and levity, an old farm rhyme that had 
been familiar to the boys of his vicinity : 

"Wake up, Jake, the day is breaking, 
The old cow died, her tail shaking." 

Albert sat up, rubbed his eyes, and stared at Dick 
and the wilderness. 

" Now look at him! " cried Dick. " He thinks he s 
been called too early. He thinks he d like to sleep eight 
or ten hours longer! Get up, little boy! Yes, it s 



Christmas morning ! Come and see what good old Santa 
has put in your stocking ! 

Albert yawned again and laughed. Really, Dick was 
such a cheerful, funny fellow that he always kept one 
in good spirits. Good old Dick ! 

" Old Santa filled our stockings, all right," contin 
ued Dick, "but he was so busy cramming em full of 
great forests and magnificent scenery that he forgot 
to leave any breakfast for us, and I m afraid we ll 
have to hustle for it." 

They started down the mountain slope, and presently 
they came to a swift little brook, in which they bathed 
their faces, removing, at the same time, fragments of 
twigs and dried leaves from their hair. 

" That was fine and refreshing," said Dick, " but 
it doesn t fill my stomach. Al, I could bite a tenpenny 
nail in half and digest both pieces, too." 

" I don t care for nails," said Albert, " but I think 
I could gnaw down a good-sized sapling. Hold me, Dick, 
or I ll be devouring a pine tree." 

Both laughed, and put as good a face on it as they 
could, but they were frightfully hungry, nevertheless. 
But they had grown up on farms, and they knew 
that the woods must contain food of some kind or 
Jther. They began a search, and after a while they 
found wild plums, now ripe, which they ate freely. 
Then they felt stronger and better, but, after all, it 
was a light diet and they must obtain food of more 

" There are deer, of course, in this valley, "said Dick, 
fingering his rifle, and sooner or later we 11 ge -a shot 



at one of them, but it may be days, and Al I ve got 
another plan." 

" What is it? " 

" You know, Al, that I can travel pretty fast any 
where. Now those Sioux, after cutting down the train 
and wiping out all the people, would naturally go away. 
They d load themselves up with spoil and scoot. But 
a lot, scattered here and there, would be left behind. 
Some of the teams would run away in all the shooting 
and shouting. And, Al, you and I need those things! 
"We must have them if we are going to live, and we both 
want to live ! 

" Do you mean, Dick, that you re going back down 
there in that awful pass ? 

" That s just about what I had on my mind," re 
plied Dick cheerily; " and now that I ve got it off, I 
feel better." 

11 But you can never get back alive, Dick! " ex 
claimed Albert, his eyes widening in horror at the mem 
ory of what they had seen and heard the night before. 

Get back alive ? Why, of course I will, responded 
Dick. And I 11 do more than that, too. You 11 see me 
come galloping up the mountain, bearing hogsheads and 
barrels of provisions. But, seriously, Al, it must be 
done. If I don t go, we 11 starve to death. 

" Then I m going, too." 

" No, Al, old boy, you re not strong enough just yet, 
though you will be soon. There are certainly no Sioux 
in this little valley, and it would be well if you were to 
go back up the slope and stay in the pine shelter. It s 
likely that I 11 be gone nearly all day, but don t be wor- 



ried. You ll have one of the rifles with you, and you 
know how to use it." 

Albert had a clear and penetrating mind, and he saw 
the truth of Dick s words. They went back up the slope, 
where he crept within the pine shelter and lay down on 
the leaves, while Dick went alone on his mission. 



WHEN Dick passed the crest of the ridge and 
began the descent toward the fatal pass, his 
heart beat heavily. The terror and shock of 
the night before, those distant shots and shouts, returned 
to him, and it was many minutes before he could shake 
off a dread that was almost superstitious in its nature. 
But youth, health, and the sunlight conquered. The 
day was uncommonly brilliant. The mountains rolled 
back, green on the slopes, blue at the crests, and below 
him, like a brown robe, lay the wavering plain across 
which they had come. 

Dick could see no sign of human life down there. 
No rejoicing Sioux warrior galloped over the swells, no 
echo of a triumphant war whoop came to his ear. Over 
mountain and plain alike the silence of the desert 
brooded. But high above the pass great black birds 
wheeled on lazy pinions. 

Dick believed more strongly than ever that the Sioux 
had gone away. Savage tribes do not linger over a bat 
tlefield that is finished; yet as he reached the bottom 
of the slope his heart began to beat heavily again, and 
he was loath to leave the protecting shadow of the pines. 



He fingered his rifle, passing his hand gently over the 
barrel and the trigger. It was a fine weapon, a beautiful 
weapon, and just at this moment it was a wonderful 
weapon. He felt in its full force, for the first time in 
his life, what the rifle meant to the pioneer. 

The boy, after much hesitation and a great searching 
of eye and ear, entered the pass. At once the sunlight 
dimmed. Walls as straight as the side of a house rose 
above him three or four hundred feet, while the distance 
between was not more than thirty feet. Dwarf pines 
grew here and there in the crannies of the cliffs, but 
mostly the black rock showed. Dwarf pines also grew 
at the bottom of the pass close to either cliff, and Dick 
kept among them, bending far down and advancing very 

Fifty yards were passed, and still there was no sound 
save a slight moaning through the pass, which Dick knew 
was the sigh of the wind drawn into the narrow cleft. 
It made him shudder, and had he not been of uncom 
mon courage he would have turned back. 

He looked up. The great black birds, wheeling on 
Jazy pinions, seemed to have sunk lower. That made 
him shudder, too, but it was another confirmation of his 
belief that all the Sioux had gone. He went eight or ten 
yards farther and then stopped short. Before him lay 
two dead horses and an overturned wagon. Both horses 
had been shot, and were still in their gear attached to the 

Dick examined the wagon carefully, and as he yet 
heard and saw no signs of a human being save himself, 
his courage grew. It was a big wagon of the kind used 



for crossing the plains, with boxes around the inside like 
lockers. Almost everything of value had been taken by 
the Sioux, but in one of the lockers Dick was lucky 
enough to find a large, heavy, gray blanket. He rolled 
it up at once, and with a strap cut from the horse s gear 
tied it on his back, after the fashion of a soldier on the 

" The first great treasure! " he murmured exult 
antly. Now for the next ! 

He found in the same wagon, jammed under the 
driver s seat and hidden from hasty view, about the half 
of a side of bacon ten pounds, perhaps. Dick fair^ 
laughed when he got his hands upon it, and he clasped 
it lovingly, as if it were a ten-pound nugget of pure gold. 
But it was far better than gold just then. He wrapped 
it in a piece of canvas which he cut from the cover of 
the wagon, and tied it on his back above the blanket. 

Finding nothing more of value in the wagon, he re 
sumed his progress up the pass. It was well for Dick 
that he was stout-hearted, and well for him, too, that he 
was driven by great need, else he would surely have 
gone back. 

He was now come into the thick of it. Around him 
everywhere lay the fallen, and the deeds done in Indian 
warfare were not lacking. Sam Conway lay upon his 
side, and brutal as the man had been, Dick felt grief 
when he saw him. Here were others, too, that he knew, 
and he counted the bodies of the few women who had 
been with the train. They had died probably in the 
battle like the rest. They, like the men, had been hard 
ened, rough, and coarse of speech and act, but Dick felt 



grief, too, when he saw them. Nearly all the animals 
had been slain also in the fury of the attack, and they 
were scattered far up the pass. 

Dick resolutely turned his face away from the dead 
and began to glean among the wagons for what the Sioux 
might have left. All these wagons were built like the 
first that he had searched, and he was confident that he 
would find much of value. Nor was he disappointed. 
He found three more blankets, and in their own wagon 
the buffalo robe that he had lamented. Doubtless, its 
presence there was accounted for by the fact that the 
Sioux did not consider a buffalo robe a trophy of their 
victory over white men. 

Other treasures were several boxes of crackers, 
about twenty boxes of sardines, three flasks of brandy, 
suitable for illness, a heavy riding cloak, a Virginia 
ham, two boxes of matches, a small iron skillet, and an 
empty tin canteen. He might have searched further, 
but he realized that time was passing, and that Albert 
must be on the verge of starvation. He had forgotten 
his own hunger in the excitement of seek and find, but 
it came back now and gnawed at him fiercely. Yet he 
would not touch any of the food. No matter how great 
the temptation he would not take a single bite until 
Albert had the same chance. 

He now made all his treasures into one great package, 
except the buffalo robe. That was too heavy to add to 
the others, and he tied it among the boughs of a pine, 
where the wolves could not reach it. Then, with the 
big pack on his back, he began the return. It was more 
weight than he would have liked to carry at an ordinary 



time, but now in his elation he scarcely felt it. He went 
rapidly up the slope and by the middle of the afternoon 
was going down the other side. 

As he approached the pine alcove he whistled a fam 
iliar tune, popular at the time " Silver Threads Among 
the Gold/ He knew that Albert, if he were there 
and surely he must be there would recognize his whistle 
Said come forth. He stopped, and his heart hammered 
for a moment, but Albert s whistle took up the second 
line of the air and Albert himself came forth jauntily. 

* We win, Al, old boy ! called Dick. * Just look at 
this pack! " 

" I can t look at anything else," replied Albert in 
the same joyful tones. " It s so big that I don t see you 
under it. Dick, have you robbed a treasure ship ? 

" No, Al," replied Dick, very soberly, " I haven t 
robbed a treasure ship, but I ve been prowling with suc 
cess over a lost battlefield a ghoul I believe they call 
such a person, but it had to be done. I ve enough food 
here to last a week at least, and we may find more." 

He put down his pack and took out the bacon. As 
Albert looked at it he began unconsciously to clinch 
and unclinch his teeth. Dick saw his face, and, knowing 
that the same eager look was in his own, he laughed a 

" Al," he said, " you and I know now how wolves 
often feel, but we re not going to behave like wolves. 
"We re going to light a fire and cook this bacon. We ll 
take the risk of the flame or the smoke being seen by 
Sioux. In so vast a country the chances are all in our 



They gathered up pine cones and other fallen wood, 
and with the help of the matches soon had a fire. Then 
they cut strips of bacon and fried them on the ends of 
sharpened sticks, the sputter making the finest music in 
their ears. 

Never before had either tasted food so delicious, and 
they ate strip after strip. Dick noticed with pleasure 
how the color came into Albert s cheeks, and how his 
eyes began to sparkle. Sleeping under the pines seemed 
to have benefited instead of injuring him, and certainly 
there was a wonderful healing balm in the air of that 
pine-clad mountain slope. Dick could feel it himself. 
How strong he was after eating! He shook his big 

* What are you bristling up about ? asked Albert. 

Merely getting ready to start again, replied Dick. 
" You know the old saying, Al, youVe got to hit while 
the iron s hot. More treasure is down there in the pass, 
but if we wait it won t stay there. Everything that we 
get now is worth more to us than diamonds." 

" It s so," said Albert, and then he sighed sadly as 
he added, How I wish I were strong enough to go with 
you and help ! 

11 Just you wait," said Dick. " You ll be as strong 
as a horse in a month, and then you ll have to do all 
the work and bring me my breakfast in the morning 
as I lie in bed. Besides, you d have to stay here and 
guard the treasure that we already have. Better get into 
the pine den. Bears and wolves may be drawn by the 
scent of the food, and they might think of attacking 




They put out the fire, and while Albert withdrew 
into the pine shelter, Dick started again over the moun 
tain. The sun was setting blood red in the west, and in 
the east the shadows of twilight were advancing. It 
required a new kind of courage to enter the pass in the 
night, and Dick s shudders returned. At certain times 
there is something in the dark that frightens the bravest 
and those most used to it. 

Dick hurried. He knew the way down the mountain 
now, and after the food and rest he was completely re 
freshed. But fast as he went the shadows of twilight 
came faster, and when he reached the bottom of the 
mountain it was quite dark. The plain before him was 
invisible, and the forest on the slope behind him was a 
solid robe of black. 

Dick set foot in the pass and then stopped. It was 
not dread but awe that thrilled him in every vein. He 
saw nothing before him but the well of darkness that was 
the great slash in the mountains. The wind, caught be 
tween the walls, moaned as in the day, and he knew per 
fectly well what it was, but it had all the nature of a 
dirge, nevertheless. Overhead a few dim stars wavered 
in a dusky sky. 

Dick forced himself to go on. It required now moral, 
as well as physical, courage to approach that lost battle 
field lying under its pall of night. Never was the boy 
a greater hero than at that moment. He advanced 
slowly. A bush caught him by the coat and held him 
an instant. He felt as if he had been seized in a 
man s grasp. He reached the first wagon, and it seemed 
to him, broken and rifled, an emblem of desolation. As 



he passed it a strange, low, whining cry made his back 
bone turn to ice. But he recovered and forced an uneasy 
little laugh at himself. It was only a wolf, the mean 
eoyote of the prairies ! 

He came now into the space where the mass of the 
wagons and the fallen lay. Dark figures, low and skulk 
ing, darted away. More wolves! But one, a huge tim 
ber wolf, with a powerful body and long fangs, stood 
up boldly and stared at him with red eyes. Dick s own 
eyes were used to the darkness now, and he stared back 
at the wolf, which seemed to be giving him a challenge. 
He half raised his rifle, but the monster did not move. 
It was a stranger to guns, and this wilderness was its 

It was Dick s first impulse to fire at the space be 
tween the red eyes, but he restrained it. He had not 
come there to fight with wolves, nor to send the report 
of a shot through the mountains. He picked up a stone 
and threw it at the wolf, striking him on the flank. The 
monster turned and stalked sullenly away, showing but 
little sign of fear. Dick pursued his task, and as he ad 
vanced something rose and, flapping heavily, sailed 
away. The shiver came again, but his will stopped it. 

He was now in the center of the wreckage, which 
in the darkness looked as if it had all happened long ago. 
Nearly every wagon had been turned over, and now and 
then dark forms lay between the wheels. The wind 
moaned incessantly down the pass and over the ruin. 

Overcoming his repulsion, Dick went to work. The 
moxm was now coming out and he could see well enough 
for his task. There was still much gleaning left by the 



quick raiders, and everything would be of use to Albert 
and himself, even to the very gear on the fallen animals. 
He cut off a great quantity of this at once and put it in a 
heap at the foot of the cliff. Then he invaded the wagons 
and again brought forth treasures better than gold. 

He found in one side box some bottles of medicine, 
the simple remedies of the border, which he packed very 
carefully, and in another he discovered half a sack of 
flour fifty pounds, perhaps. A third rewarded him 
with a canister of tea and a twenty-pound bag of ground 
coffee. He clutched these treasures eagerly. They 
would be invaluable to Albert. 

Continuing his search, he was rewarded with two 
pairs of heavy shoes, an ax, a hatchet, some packages of 
pins, needles, and thread, and a number of cooking uten 
silspots, kettles, pans, and skillets. Just as he was 
about to quit for the purpose of making up his pack, 
he noticed in one of the wagons a long, narrow locker 
made into the side and fastened with a stout padlock. 
The wagon had been plundered, but evidently the Sioux 
had balked at the time this stout box would take for 
opening, and had passed on. Dick, feeling sure that it 
must contain something of value, broke the padlock with 
the head of the ax. When he looked in he uttered a 
cry of delight at his reward. 

He brought forth from the box a beautiful double- 
barreled breech-loading shotgun, and the bounty of 
chance did not stop with the gun, for in the locker were 
over a thousand cartridges to fit it. Dick foresaw at once 
that it would be invaluable to Albert and himself in the 
pursuit of wild ducks, wild geese, and other feathered 



game. He removed some of the articles from his pack, 
which was already heavy enough, and put the shotgun 
and cartridges in their place. Then he set forth on the 
return journey. 

As he left the wagons and went toward the mouth of 
the pass, he heard soft, padding sounds behind him, and 
knew that the wolves were returning, almost on his heels. 
He looked back once, and saw a pair of fiery red eyes 
which he felt must belong to the monster, the timber 
wolf, but Dick was no longer under the uncanny spell 
of the night and the place; he was rejoicing too much 
in his new treasures, like a miser who has just added 
a great sum to his hoard, to feel further awe of the 
wolves, the darkness, and a new battlefield. 

Dick s second pack was heavier than his first, but as 
before, he trod lightly. He took a different path when 
he left the pass, and here in the moonlight, which was 
now much brighter, he saw the trace of wheels on the 
earth. The trace ran off irregularly through the short 
bushes and veered violently to and fro like the path of 
a drunken man. Dick inferred at once that it had been 
made, not by a wagon entering the pass, but by one leav 
ing it, and in great haste. No doubt the horses or mules 
had been running away in fright at the firing. 

Dick s curiosity was excited. He wished to see what 
had become of that wagon. The trail continued to lead 
through the short bushes that covered the plain just 
before entering the pass, and then turned off sharply to 
the right, where it led to an abrupt little canyon or 
gully about ten feet deep. The gully also was lined with 
bushes, and at first Dick could see nothing else, but 



presently he made out a wagon lying on its side. No 
horses or mules were there ; undoubtedly, they had torn 
themselves loose from the gear in time to escape the fall. 

Dick laid down his pack and descended to the wagon. 
He believed that in such a place it had escaped the plun 
dering hands of the hasty Sioux, and his belief was cor 
rect. The wagon, a large one, was loaded with all the 
articles necessary for the passage of the plains. Al 
though much tossed about by the fall, nothing was hurt. 

Here was a treasure-trove, indeed! Dick s sudden 
sense of wealth was so overpowering that he felt a great 
embarrassment. How was he to take care of such riches ? 
He longed at that moment for the strength of twenty 
men, that he might take it all at once and go over the 
mountain to Albert. 

It was quite a quarter of an hour before he was able 
to compose himself thoroughly. Then he made a hasty 
examination of the wagon, so far as its position allowed. 
He found in it a rifle of the same pattern as that used 
by Albert and himself, a sixteen-shot repeater, the most 
advanced weapon of the time, and a great quantity of 
cartridges to fit. There was also two of the new revol 
vers, with sufficient cartridges, another ax, hatchets, saws, 
hammers, chisels, and a lot of mining tools. The remain 
ing space in the wagon was occupied by clothing, bed 
ding, provisions, and medicines. 

Dick judged that the wolves could not get at the 
wagon as it lay, and leaving it he began his third ascent 
of the slope. He found Albert sound asleep in the pine 
alcove with his rifle beside him. He looked so peaceful 
that Dick was careful not to awaken him. He stnred the 



second load of treasure in the alcove, and, wrapping 
one of the heavy blankets around himself, slept heavily. 

He told Albert the next day of the wagon in the 
gully, and nothing could keep him from returning in the 
morning for salvage. He worked there two or three 
days, carrying heavy loads up the mountain, and finally, 
when it was all in their den, he and Albert felt equipped 
for anything. Nor had the buffalo robe been neglected. 
It was spread over much of the treasure. Albert, mean 
while, had assumed the functions of cook, and he dis 
charged them with considerable ability. His strength 
was quite sufficient to permit of his collecting firewood, 
and he could fry bacon and make coffee and tea beauti 
fully. But they were very sparing of the coffee and 
tea, as they also were of the flour, although their supplies 
of all three of these were greatly increased by the wagon 
in the gully. In fact, the very last thing that Dick had 
brought over the mountain was a hundred-pound sack 
of flour, and after accomplishing this feat he had rested 
a long time. 

Both boys felt that they had been remarkably for 
tunate while this work was going on. One circumstance, 
apparently simple in itself, had been a piece of great 
luck, and that was the absence of rain. It was not a 
particularly rainy country, but a shower could have 
made them thoroughly miserable, and, moreover, would 
have been extremely dangerous for Albert. But nights 
and days alike remained dry and cool, and as Albert 
breathed the marvelous balsamic air he could almost feel 
himself transfused with its healing property. 
while, the color in his cheeks was steadily deepening. 



"We ve certainly had good for tune, " said Dick. 

" Aided by your courage and strength/ said Albert, 
" It took a lot of nerve to go down there in that pass 
and hunt for what the Sioux might have left behind. * 

Dick disclaimed any superior merit, but he said noth 
ing of the many tremors that he felt while performing 
the great task. 

An hour or two later, Albert, who was hunting 
through their belongings, uttered a cry of joy on finding 
a little package of fishhooks. String they had among 
their stores, and it was easy enough to cut a slim rod for 
a pole. 

" Now I can be useful for something besides cook 
ing/ he said. " It doesn t require any great strength 
to be a fisherman, and I m much mistaken if I don t 
soon have our table supplied with trout." 

There was a swift creek farther down the slope, and, 
angling with much patience, Albert succeeded in catch 
ing several mountain trout and a larger number of fish 
of an unknown species, but which, like the trout, were 
very good to eat. 

Albert s exploit caused him intense satisfaction, and 
Dick rejoiced with him, not alone because of the fish, but 
also because of his brother s triumph. 



THEY spent a week on the slope, sleeping securely 
and warmly under their blankets in the pine al 
cove, and fortune favored them throughout that 
time. It did not rain once, and there was not a sign of 
the Sioux. Dick did not revisit the pass after the first 
three days, and he knew that the wolves and buzzards 
had been busy there. But he stripped quite clean the 
wagon which had fallen in the gully, even carrying 
away the canvas cover, which was rainproof. Albert 
wondered that the Sioux had not returned, but Dhk 
had a very plausible theory to account for it. 

" The Sioux are making war upon our people/ he 
said, " and why should they stay around here? They 
have cut off what is doubtless the first party entering 
this region in a long time, and now they have gone east 
ward to meet our troops. Besides, the Sioux are mostly 
plains Indians, and they won t bother much about these 
mountains. Other Indians, through fear of the Sioux, 
will not come and live here, which accounts fof this 
region being uninhabited. 

" Still, a wandering band of Sioux might come 
through at any time and see TIS," said Albert. 



" That s so, and for other reasons, too, we must move. 
It s mighty fine, Al, sleeping out in the open \7hen the 
weather s dry and not too cold, but I ve read that the 
winter in the northwestern mountains is something ter 
rible, and we ve got to prepare for it." 

It was Dick s idea to go deeper into the mountains. 
He knew very well that the chance of their getting out 
before spring was too slender to be considered, and he 
believed that they could find better shelter and a more 
secure hiding place farther in. So he resolved upon a 
journey of exploration, and though Albert was now 
stronger, he must go alone. It was his brother s duty to 
remain and guard their precious stores. Already bears 
and mountain lions, drawn by the odors of the food, had 
come snuffing about the alcove, but they always retreated 
from the presence of either o the brothers. One huge 
silver tip had come rather alarmingly close, but when 
Dick shouted at him he, too, turned and lumbered off 
among the pines. 

" What you want to guard against, Al," said Dick, 
" is thieves rather than robbers. Look out for the 
sneaks. "We ll fill the canteen and all our iron vessels 
with water so that you won t have to go even to the 
brook. Then you stay right here by the fire in the day 
time, and in the den at night. You can keep a bed of 
coals before the den when you re asleep, and no wil<? 
animal will ever come past it." 

" All right, Dick," said Albert courageously; " but 
don t you get lost over there among those ranges and 

" I couldn t do it if I tried," replied Dick in the 


same cheerful tone. " You don t know what a woods 
man and mountaineer I ve become, Al, old boy! n 

Albert smiled. Yet each boy felt the full gravity of 
the occasion when the time for Dick s departure came, 
at dawn of a cool morning, gleams of silver frost show 
ing here and there on the slopes. Both knew the neces 
sity of the journey, however, and hid their feelings. 

" Be back to-morrow night, Al/ said Dick. 

* Be ready for you, Dick, said Albert. 

Then they waved their hands to each other, and Dick 
strode away toward the higher mountains. He was well 
armed, carrying his repeating rifle and the large hunting 
knife which was useful for so many purposes. He had 
also thrust one of the revolvers into his belt. 

Flushed with youth and strength, and equipped with 
such good weapons, he felt able to take care of himself 
in any company into which he might be thrown. 

He reached the bottom of the slope, and looking back, 
saw Albert standing on a fallen log. His brother was 
watching him and waved his hand. Dick waved his in 
reply, and then, crossing the creek, began the ascent of 
the farther slope. There the pines and the distance ren 
dered the brothers invisible to each other, and Dick 
pressed on with vigor. His recent trips over the lower 
slopes for supplies had greatly increased his skill in 
mountain climbing, and he did not suffer from weari 
ness. Up, up, he went, and the pines grew shorter and 
scrubbier. But the thin, crisp air was a sheer delight, 
and he felt an extraordinary pleasure in mere living. 

Dick looked back once from the heights toward the 
spot where their camp lay and saw lying against the 



blue a thin gray thread that only the keenest eye would 
notice. He knew it to be the smoke from Albert s fire 
and felt sure that all was well. 

While the slope which he was ascending was fairly 
steep, it was easy enough to find a good trail among 
the pines. There was little undergrowth and the ascent 
was not rocky. "When Dick stood at last on the crest of 
the ridge he uttered a cry of delight and amazement. 

The slope on which he stood was merely a sort of gate 
to the higher mountains, or rather it was a curtain hid 
ing the view. 

Before him, range on range and peak on peak, lay 
mighty mountains, some of them shooting up almost 
three miles above the sea, their crests and heads hid in 
eternal snow. Far away to northward and westward 
stretched the tremendous maze, and it seemed to Dick to 
have no end. A cold, dazzling sunlight poured in floods 
over the snowy summits, and he felt a great sense of 
awe. It was all so grand, so silent, and so near to the 
Infinite. He saw the full majesty of the world and of 
the Power that had created it. For a little while his 
mission and all human passions and emotions floated 
away from him; he was content merely to stand there, 
without thinking, but to feel the immensity and majesty 
of it all. 

Dick presently recovered himself and with a little 
laugh came back to earth. But he was glad to have had 
those moments. He began the descent, which was 
rougher and rockier than the ascent had been, but the 
prospect was encouraging. The valley between the ridge 
on the slope of which he stood and the higher one beyond 



it seemed narrow, but he believed that he would find in 
it the shelter and hiding that he and Albert wished. 

As he went down the slope became steeper, but once 
more the pines, sheltered from the snows and cruel 
winds, grew to a great size. There was also so much 
outcropping of rock that Dick was hopeful of finding 
another alcove deep enough to be converted into a house. 

When nearly down, he caught a gleam among the 
trees that he knew was water, and again he was encour 
aged. Here was a certainty of one thing that was an 
absolute necessity. Soon he was in the valley, which he 
found exceedingly narrow and almost choked with a 
growth of pine, ash, and aspen, a tiny brook flowing 
down its center. He was tired and warm from the long 
descent and knelt down and drank from the brook. Its 
waters were as cold as ice, flowing down from the crest 
of one of the great peaks clad, winter and summer, in 

Dick followed the brook for fully a mile, seeking 
everywhere a suitable place in which he and his brother 
might make a home, but he found none. The valley re 
sembled in most of its aspects a great canyon, and all 
the fertile earth on either side of the brook was set 
closely with pine, ash, and aspen. These would form 
a shelter from winds, but they would not protect from 
rain and the great colds and snows of the high Rockies. 

Dick noticed many footprints of animals at the mar 
gin of the stream, some of great size, which he had no 
doubt were made by grizzlies or silver tips. He also 
believed that the beaver might be found farther down 
along this cold and secluded water, but he was not in- 



terested greatly just then in animals; he was seeking 
for that most necessary of all things something that 
must be had a home. 

It seemed to him at the end of his estimated mile 
that the brook was going to flow directly into the moun 
tain which rose before him many hundreds of feet; but 
when he came to the rocky wall he found that the valley 
turned off at a sharp angle to the left, and the stream, 
of course, followed it, although it now descended more 
rapidly, breaking three times into little foamy falls five 
or six feet in height. Then another brook came from 
a deep cleft between the mountains on the eastern side 
and swelled with its volume the main stream, which now 
became a creek. 

The new valley widened out to a width of perhaps a 
quarter of a mile, although the rocky walls on either 
side rose to a great height and were almost precipitous. 
Springs flowed from these walls and joined the creek. 
Some of them came down the face of the cliffs in little 
cascades of foam and vapor, but others spouted from the 
base of the rock. Dick knelt down to drink from one 
of the latter, but as his face approached the water he 
jumped away. He dipped up a little of it in his soft 
hat and tasted it. It was brackish and almost boiling 

Dick was rather pleased at the discovery. A bitter 
and hot spring might be very useful. He had imbibed 
like many others from the teaching of his childhood 
that any bitter liquid was good for you. As he advanced 
farther the valley continued to spread out It was now 
perhaps a half mile in width, and well \vt>oded. The 



creek became less turbulent, flowing with a depth of 
several feet in a narrow channel. 

The whole aspect of the valley so far had been that 
of a wilderness uninhabited and unvisited. A mule deer 
looked curiously at Dick, then walked away a few paces 
and stood there. When Dick glanced back his deership 
was still curious and gazing. A bear crashed through a 
thicket, stared at the boy with red eyes, then rolled lan 
guidly away. Dick was quick to interpret these signs. 
They were unfamiliar with human presence, and he was 
cheered by the evidence. Yet at the end of another hun 
dred yards of progress he sank down suddenly among 
some bushes and remained perfectly silent, but intently 

He had seen a column of smoke rising above the pines 
and aspens. Smoke meant fire, fire meant human beings, 
and human beings, in that region, meant enemies. He 
had no doubt that Sioux were at the foot of that column 
of smoke. It was a tragic discovery. He was looking 
for a home for Albert and himself somewhere in this 
valley, but there could be no home anywhere near the 
Sioux. He and his brother must turn in another direc 
tion, and with painful effort lug their stores over the 

But Dick was resolved to see. There were great 
springs of courage and tenacity in his nature, and he 
wished, moreover, to prove his new craft as a woodsman 
and mountaineer. He remained awhile in the bushes, 
watching the spire, and presently, to his amazement, it 
thinned quickly and then was gone. It had disappeared 
swiftly, while the smoke from a fire usually dies down. 



It was Dick s surmise that the Sioux had put out their 
fire by artificial means and then had moved on. Such 
an act would indicate a fear of observation, and his 
curiosity increased greatly. 

But Dick did not forget his caution. He crouched 
in the bushes for quite a while yet, watching the place 
inhere the smoke had been, but the sky remained clear 
and undefiled. He heard nothing and saw nothing but 
the lonely valley. At last he crept forward slowly, and 
with the greatest care, keeping among the bushes and 
treading very softly. He advanced in this manner three 
or four hundred yards, to the very point which must 
have been the base of the spire of smoke he had marked 
it so well that he could not be mistaken and from his 
leafy covert saw a large open space entirely destitute of 
vegetation. He expected to see there also the remains of 
a camp fire, but none was visible, not a single charred 
stick, nor a coal. 

Dick was astonished. A new and smoking camp fire 
must leave some trace. One could not wipe it away 
Absolutely. He remained a comparatively long time, 
watching in the edge of the bushes beside the wide and 
open space. 

He still saw and heard nothing. Never before had a 
camp fire vanished so mysteriously and completely, and 
#ith it those who had built it. At last, his curiosity 
overcoming his caution, he advanced into the open space, 
and now saw that it fell away toward the center. Ad 
vancing more boldly, he found himself near the edge of 
a deep pit. 

The pit was almost perfectly round and had a diam- 


eter of about ten feet. So far as Dick could judge, it 
was about forty feet deep and entirely empty. It looked 
like a huge well dug by the hand of man. 

While Dick was gazing at the pit, an extraordinary 
and terrifying thing happened. The earth under his feet 
began to shake. At first he could not believe it, but 
when he steadied himself and watched closely, the oscil 
lating motion was undoubtedly there. It was accom 
panied, too, by a rumble, dull and low, but which stead 
ily grew louder. It seemed to Dick that the round pit 
was the center of this sound. 

Despite the quaking of the earth, he ventured again 
into the open space and saw that the pit had filled with 
water. Moreover, this water was boiling, as he could 
see it seething and bubbling. As he looked, clouds of 
steam shot up to a height of two or three hundred feet, 
and Dick, in alarm, ran back to the bushes. He knew 
that this was the column of vapor he had first seen from 
a distance, but he was not prepared for what followed. 

There was an explosion so loud that it made Dick 
jump. Then a great column of water shot up from the 
boiling pit to a height of perhaps fifty feet, and re 
mained there rising and falling. From the apex of this 
column several great jets rose, perhaps, three times as 

The column of hot water glittered and shimmered in 
the sun, and Dick gazed in wonder and delight. He had 
read enough to recognize the phenomenon that he now 
saw. It was a geyser, a column of hot water shooting up, 
at regular intervals and with great force, from the un 
known deeps of the earth. 



As he gazed, the column gradually sank, the boiling 
water in the pit sank, too, and there was no longer any 
rumble or quaking of the earth. Dick cautiously ap 
proached the pit again. It was as empty as a dry well, 
but he knew that in due time the phenomenon would be 
repeated. He was vastly interested, but he did not wait 
to see the recurrence of the marvel, continuing his way 
-down the valley over heaps of crinkly black slag and 
stone, which were age-old lava, although he did not know 
it, and through groves of pine and ash, aspen, and cedar. 
He saw other round pits and watched a second 
geyser in eruption. He saw, too, numerous hot springs, 
and much steamy vapor floating about. There were also 
mineral springs and springs of the clearest and purest 
cold water. It seemed to Dick that every minute of his 
wanderings revealed to him some new and interesting 
sight, while on all sides of the little valley rose the 
mighty mountains, their summits in eternal snow. 

A great relief was mingled with the intense interest 
that Dick felt. He had been sure at first that he saw the 
camp fires of the Sioux, but after the revulsion it seemed 
as if it were a place never visited by man, either savage 
or civilized. As he continued down the valley, he noticed 
narrow clefts in the mountains opening into them from 
either side, but he felt sure from the nature of the coun 
try that they could not go back far. The clefts were 
four in number, and down two of them came consider 
able streams of clear, cold water emptying into the main 

The valley now narrowed again and Dick heard ahead 
a slight humming sound which presently grew into a 



roar. He was puzzled at first, but soon divined the cause. 
The creek, or rather little river, much increased in vol 
ume by the tributary brooks, made a great increase of 
speed in its current. Dick saw before him a rising col 
umn of vapor and foam, and in another minute or two 
stood beside a fine fall, where the little river took a 
sheer drop of forty feet, then rushed foaming and boil 
ing through a narrow chasm, to empty about a mile far 
ther on into a beautiful blue lake. 

Dick, standing on a high rock beside the fall, could 
see the lake easily. Its blue was of a deep, splendid tint, 
and on every side pines and cedars thickly clothed the 
narrow belt of ground between it and the mountains. 
The far end seemed to back up abruptly against a 
mighty range crowned with snow, but Dick felt sure that 
an outlet must be there through some cleft in the range. 
The lake itself was of an almost perfect crescent shape, 
and Dick reckoned its length at seven miles, with a great 
est breadth, that is, at the center, of about two miles. 
He judged, too, from its color and its position in a 
fissure that its depth must be very great. 

The surface of the lake lay two or three hundred feet 
lower than the rock on which Dick was standing, and he 
could see its entire expanse, rippling gently under the 
wind and telling only of peace and rest. Flocks of wild 
fowl flew here and there, showing white or black against 
the blue of its waters, and at the nearer shore Dick 
thought he saw an animal like a deer drinking, but the 
distance was too great to tell certainly. 

He left the rock and pursued his way through dwarf 
pines and cedars along the edge of the chasm in which 



the torrent boiled and foamed, intending to go down to 
the lake. Halfway he stopped, startled by a long, shrill, 
whistling sound that bore some resemblance to the shriek 
of a distant locomotive. The wilderness had been so 
silent before that the sound seemed to fill all the valley, 
-the ridges taking it up and giving it back in one echo 
after another until it died away among the peaks. In a 
minute or so the whistling shriek was repeated and then 
two or three times more. 

Dick was not apprehensive. It was merely a new 
wonder in that valley of wonders, and none of these 
wonders seemed to have anything to do with man. The 
sound apparently came from a point two or three hun 
dred yards to his left at the base of the mountain, and 
turning, Dick went toward it, walking very slowly and 
carefully through the undergrowth. He had gone al 
most the whole distance seeing nothing but the moun 
tain and the forest, when the whistling shriek was sud 
denly repeated so close to him that he jumped. He 
sank down behind a dwarf pine, and then he saw not 
thirty feet away the cause of the sound. 

A gigantic deer, a great grayish animal, stood in a 
little op en space, and at intervals emitted that tremen 
dous whistle. It stood as high as a horse, and Dick esti 
mated its weight at more than a thousand pounds. He 
was looking at a magnificent specimen of the Rocky 
Mountain elk, by far the largest member of the deer 
tribe that he had ever seen. The animal, the wind blow 
ing from him toward Dick, was entirely unsuspicious of 
danger, and the boy could easily have put a bullet into 
his heart, but he had no desire to do so. Whether the 



elk was whistling to his mate or sending a challenge to 
a rival bull he did not know, and after watching and 
admiring him for a little while he crept away. 

But Dick was not wholly swayed by sentiment. He 
said to himself as he went away among the pines: 
* Don t you feel too safe, Mr. Elk, we 11 have to take you 
or some of your brethren later on. I ve heard that elk 
meat is good." 

He resumed his journey and was soon at the edge of 
the lake, which at this point had a narrow sandy mar 
gin. Its waters wei-e fresh and cold, and wold duck, 
fearless of Dick, swam within a few yards of him. The 
view here was not less majestic and beautiful than it had 
been from the rock, and Dick, sensitive to nature, was 
steeped in all its wonder and charm. He was glad to be 
there, he was glad that chance or Providence had led 
him to this lovely valley. He felt no loneliness, no fear 
for the future, he was content merely to breathe and feel 
the glory of it permeate his being. 

He picked up a pebble presently and threw it into 
the lake. It sank with the sullen plunk that told unmis 
takably to the boy s ears of great depths below. Once 
or twice he saw a fish leap up, and it occurred to him 
that here was another food supply. 

He suddenly pulled himself together with a jerk. 
He could not sit there all day dreaming. He had come 
to find a winter home for Albert and himself, and he 
had not yet found it. But he had a plan from which 
he had been turned aside for a while by the sight of the 
lake, and now he went back to carry it out. 

There were two clefts opening into the mountains 


from his side of the river, and he went into the first on 
the return path. It was choked with pine and cedars 
and quickly ended against a mountain wall, proving to 
be nothing but a very short canyon. There was much 
outcropping of rock here, but nothing that would help 
toward a shelter, and Dick went on to the second cleft. 

This cleft, wider than the other, was the one down 
which the considerable brook flowed, and the few yards 
or so of fertile ground on either side of the stream pro 
duced a rank growth of trees. They were so thick that 
the boy could see only a little distance ahead, but he 
believed that this slip of a tributary valley ran far back 
in the mountains, perhaps a dozen miles. 

He picked his way about a mile and then came sud 
denly upon a house. It stood in an alcove protected by 
rocks and trees, but safe from snow slide. It was only 
a log hut of one room, with the roof broken in and the 
door fallen from its hinges, but Dick knew well enough 
the handiwork of the white man. As he approached, 
some wild animal darted out of the open door and 
crashed away among the undergrowth, but Dick knew 
that white men had once lived there. It was equally evi 
dent that they had long been gone. 

It was a cabin of stout build, its thick logs fitted 
nicely together, and the boards of the roof had been 
strong and well laid. Many years must have passed to 
have caused so much decay. Dick entered and was sa 
luted by a strong, catlike odor. Doubtless a mountain 
lion had been sleeping there, and this was the tenant 
that he had heard crashing away among the under 
growth. On one side was a window closed by a sagging 



oaken shutter, which. Dick threw open. The open door 
and window established a draught, and as the dean, 
sweet air blew through the cabin the odor of the cat be 
gan to disappear. 

Dick examined everything with the greatest interest 
and curiosity. There was a floor of puncheons fairly 
smooth, a stone fireplace, a chimney of mud and sticks, 
dusty wooden hooks, and rests nailed into the wall, a 
rude table overturned in a corner, and something that 
looked like a trap. It was the last that told the tale 
to Dick. "When he examined it more critically, he had 
no doubt that it was a beaver trap. 

Nor did he have any doubt but that this hut had 
been built by beaver trappers long ago, either by inde 
pendent hunters, or by those belonging to one of the 
great fur companies. The beaver, he believed, had been 
found on this very brook, and when they were all taken 
the trappers had gone away, leaving the cabin forever, 
as they had left many another one. It might be at least 
forty years old. 

Dick laughed aloud in his pleasure at this good luck. 
The cabin was dusty, dirty, disreputable, and odorous, 
but that draught would take away all the odors and his 
stout arm could soon repair the holes in the roof, put the 
door back on its hinges, and straighten the sagging win 
dow shutter. Here was their home, a house built by 
white men as a home, and now about to be used as such 
again. Dick did not feel like a tenant moving in, but 
like an owner. It would be a long, hard task to bring 
their supplies over the range, but Albert and he had all 
the time in the world. It was one of the effects of their 



isolation to make Dick feel that there was no such thing 
as time. 

He took another survey of the cabin. It was really 
a splendid place, a palace in its contrast with the 
surrounding wilderness, and he laughed with pure de 
light. When it was swept and cleaned, and a fire was 
blazing on the flat stone that served for a hearth, while 
the cold winds roared without, it would be the snuggest 
home west of the Missouri. He was so pleased that he 
undertook at once some primary steps in the process of 
purification. He cut a number of small, straight boughs, 
tied them together with a piece of bark, the leaves at the 
head thus forming a kind of broom, and went to work. 

He raised a great dust, which the draught blew into 
his eyes, ears, and nose, and he retreated from the place, 
willing to let the wind take it away. He would finish the 
task some other day. Then the clear waters of the brook 
tempted him. Just above the cabin was a deep pool 
which may have been the home of the beaver in an 
older time. Now it was undisturbed, and the waters 
were so pure that he could see the sand and rock on 
the bottom. 

Still tingling from the dust, he took off his clothes 
and dived head foremost into the pool. He came up 
shivering and sputtering. It was certainly the coldest 
water into which he had ever leaped ! After such a dash 
oae might lie on a slab of ice to warm. Dick forgot that 
every drop in the brook had come from melting snows 
far up on the peaks, but, once in, he resolved to fight 
the element. He dived again, jumped up and down, and 
kicked and thrashed those waters as no beaver had ever 



done. Gradually he grew warm, and a wonderful exhil 
aration shot through every vein. Then he swam around 
and around and across and across the pool, disporting 
like a young white water god. 

Dick was thoroughly enjoying himself, but when he 
began to feel cold again in seven or eight minutes he 
sprang out, ran up and down the bank, and rubbed him 
self with bunches of leaves until he was dry. After he 
had dressed, he felt that he had actually grown in size 
and strength in the last half hour. 

He was now ravenously hungry. His absorption in 
his explorations and discoveries had kept him from 
thinking of such a thing as food until this moment, but 
when Nature finally got in her claim she made it strong 
and urgent. He had brought cold supplies with him, 
upon which he feasted, sitting in the doorway of the 
cabin. Then he noticed the lateness of the hour. Shad 
ows were falling across the snow on the western peaks 
and ridges. The golden light of the sun was turning 
red, and in the valley the air was growing misty witn 
the coming twilight. 

He resolved to pass the night in the cabin. He se 
cured the window shutter again, tied up the fallen door 
on rude bark hinges, and fastened it on the inside with 
a stick hasps for the bar were there yet but before 
retiring he took a long look in the direction in which 
Albert and their camp lay. 

A great range of mountains lay between, but Dick 
felt that he could almost see his brother, his camp fire, 
and the pine alcove. He was Albert s protector, and thi 
would be the first entire night in the mountains in which 



the weaker boy had been left alone, but Dick was not 
apprehensive about him. He believed that their good 
fortune would still endure, and secure in that belief he 
rolled himself up in the blanket which he had brought 
in a little pack on his back, and laid himself down in 
the corner of the cabin. 

The place was not yet free from dust and odor, but 
Dick s hardy life was teaching him to take as trifles 
things that civilization usually regarded as onerous, and 
he felt quite comfortable where he lay. He knew that it 
was growing cold in the gorge, and the shelter of the 
cabin was acceptable. He saw a little strip of wan twi 
light through a crack in the window, but it soon faded 
and pitchy darkness filled the narrow valley. 

Dick fell into a sound sleep, from which he awoke 
only once in the night, and then it was a noise of some 
thing as of claws scratching at the door that stirred 
him. The scratch was repeated only once or twice, and 
with it came the sound of heavy, gasping puffs, like a 
big animal breathing. Then the creature went away, 
and Dick, half asleep, murmured : - I ve put you out 
of your house, my fine friend, bear or panther, which 
ever you may be." In another minute he was wholly 
asleep again and did not waken until an edge of glit 
tering sunlight, like a sword blade, came through the 
crack in the window and struck him across the eyes. 

He bathed a second time in the pool, ate what was 
left of the food, and started on the return journey, mov 
ing at a brisk pace. He made many calculations on the 
way. It would take a week to move all their goods over 
the range to the cabin, but, once there, he believed that 



they would be safe for a long time ; indeed, they might 
spend years in the valley, if they wished, and never see 
a stranger. 

It was afternoon when he approached the pine alcove, 
but the familiar spire of smoke against the blue had as 
sured him already that Albert was there and safe. In 
fact, Albert saw him first. He had just returned from 
the creek, and, standing on a rock, a fish in his hand, 
hailed his brother, who was coming up the slope. 

" Halloo, Dick! " he shouted. " Decided to come 
home, have you? Hope you ve had a pleasant visit. " 

11 Fine trip, Al, old man," Dick replied. " Great 
place over there. Think we d better move to it." 

That so ? TeU us about it. 

Dick, ever sensitive to Albert s manner and appear 
ance, noticed that the boy s voice was fuller, and he 
believed that the dry, piny air of the mountains was 
still at its healing work. He joined Albert, who was 
waiting for him, and who, after giving his hand a hearty 
grasp, told him what he had found. 



ALBERT agreed with Dick that they should begin 
to move at once, and his imagination was greatly 
stirred by Dick s narrative. " Why, it s an en 
chanted valley ! he exclaimed. And a house is there 
waiting for us, too ! Dick, I want to see it right away ! 

Dick smiled. 

" Sorry, but you ll have to wait a little, Al, old 
man, he said. 1 1 You re not strong enough yet to carry 
stores over the big range, though you will be very soon, 
and we can t leave our precious things here unguarded. 
So you ll have to stay and act as quartermaster while I 
make myself pack mule. "When we have all the things 
over there, we can fasten them up in our house, where 
bears, panthers, and wolves can t get at them. 

Albert made a wry face, but he knew that he must 
yield to necessity. Dick began the task the next morn 
ing, and it was long, tedious, and most wearing. More 
than once he felt like abandoning some of their goods, 
but he hardened his resolution with the reflection that 
all were precious, and not a single thing was abandoned. 

It was more than a week before it was all done, and 
it was not until the last trip that Albert went with him, 



carrying besides his gun a small pack. The weather was 
still propitious. Once there had been a light shower in 
the night, but Albert was protected from it by the tar 
paulin which they had made of the wagon cover, and 
nothing occurred to check his progress. He ate with, 
an appetite that he had never known before, and he 
breathed by night as well as by day the crisp air of the 
mountains tingling with the balsam of the pines. It oc 
curred to Dick that to be marooned in these mountains 
was perhaps the best of all things that could have hap 
pened to Albert. 

They went slowly over the range toward the en 
chanted valley, stopping now and then because Albert, 
despite his improvement, was not yet equal to the task of 
strenuous climbing, but all things continued auspicious. 
There was a touch of autumn on the foliage, and shades 
of red and yellow were appearing on the leaves of all 
the trees except the evergreens, but everything told of 
vigorous life. As they passed the crest of the range and 
began the descent of the slope toward the enchanted val 
ley, a mule deer crashed from the covert and fled away 
with great bounds. Flocks of birds rose with whirrings 
from the bushes. From some point far away came the 
long, whistling sound that made Albert cry out in won 
der. But Dick laughed. 

"It s the elk," he said. " I saw one when I first 
came into the valley. I think they are thick hereabout, 
and I suspect that they will furnish us with some good 
winter food." 

Albert found the valley all that Dick had represented 
it to be, and more. He watched the regular eruptions 



of the geysers with amazement and delight; he insisted 
on sampling the mineral springs, and intended to learn 
in time their various properties. The lake, in all its 
shimmering aspects, appealed to his love of the grand 
and beautiful, and he promptly named it The Howard 
Sea, " 1 after its discoverer, you know, he said to Dick. 
Finally, the cabin itself filled him with delight, because 
he foresaw even more thoroughly than Dick how suitable 
it would be for a home in the long winter months. He 
installed himself as housekeeper and set to work at once. 

The little cabin was almost choked with their sup 
plies, which Dick had been afraid to leave outside for 
fear that the provisions would be eaten and the other 
things injured by the wild animals, and now they began 
the task of assorting and putting them into place. 

The full equipment of the wagon that Dick had found 
in the gully, particularly the tools, proved to be a god 
send. They made more racks on the walls boring holes 
with the augers and then driving in pegs on which they 
laid their axes and extra rifles. In the same manner 
they made high shelves, on which their food would be 
safe from prowling wild beasts, even should they suc 
ceed in breaking in the door. But Dick soon made the 
latter impossible by putting the door on strong hinges 
of leather which he made from the gear that he had cut 
from the horses. He also split a new bar from one of 
the young ash trees and strengthened the hasps on the 
inside. He felt now that when the bar was in place not 
even the heaviest grizzly could force the door. 

The task of mending the roof was more difficult. He 
knew how to split rude boards with his ax, but he had 



only a few nails with which to hold them in place. He 
solved the problem by boring auger holes, into which 
he drove pegs made from strong twigs. The roof looked 
water-tight, and he intended to reenforce it later on with 
the skins of wild animals that he expected to kill 
there had been no time yet for hunting. 

Throughout these operations, which took about a 
week, they slept in the open in a rude tent which they 
made of the wagon cover and set beside the cabin, for 
two reasons: because Dick believed the open air at all 
times to be good for Albert, and because he was averse 
to using the cabin as a dormitory until it was thoroughly 
cleansed and aired. 

Albert made himself extremely useful in the task of 
refurbishing the cabin. He brushed out all the dust, 
brought water from the brook and scrubbed the floor, 
and to dry the latter built their first fire on the hearth 
with pine cones and other fallen wood. As he touched 
the match to it, he did not conceal his anxiety. 

" The big thing to us," he said, " is whether or not 
this chimney will draw. That s vital, I tell you, Dick, 
to a housekeeper. If it puffs out smoke and fills the 
cabin with it, we re to have a hard time and be miserable. 
If it draws like a porous plaster and takes all the smoke 
up it, then we re to have an easy time of it and be 

Both watched anxiously as Albert touched the match 
to some pine shavings which were to form the kindling 
wood. The shavings caught, a light blaze leaped up, 
there came a warning crackle, and smoke, too, arose. 
Which way would it go? The little column wavered a 



moment and then shot straight up the chimney. It grew 
larger, but still shot straight up the chimney. The 
flames roared and were drawn in the same direction. 

Albert laughed and clapped his hands. 

" It s to be an easy time and a happy life ! " he ex 
claimed. " Those old beaver hunters knew what they 
were about when they built this chimney! " 

1 You can cook in here, Al, said Dick ; l but I sug 
gest that we sleep in the tent until the weather grows 

Dick had more than one thing in mind in making 
this suggestion about the tent and sleeping. The air 
of the cabin could be close at night even with the window 
open, but in the tent with the flap thrown back they 
never closed it they breathed only a fresh balsamic 
odor, crisp with the coolness of autumn. He had watched 
Albert all the time. Now and then when he had exerted 
himself more than usual, the younger boy would cough, 
and at times he was very tired, but Dick, however 
sharply he watched, did not see again the crimson stain 
on the lips that he had noticed the night of the flight 
from the massacre. 

But the older brother, two years older only, in fact, 
but ten years older, at least, in feeling, did notice a great 
change in Albert, mental as well as physical. The 
younger boy ceased to have periods of despondency. 
While he could not do the things that Dick did, he was 
improving, and he never lamented his lack of strength. 
It seemed to him a matter of course, so far as Dick could 
judge, that in due time he should be the equal of the 
older and bigger boy in muscle and skill. 



Albert, moreover, had no regrets for the world with- 
out. Their life with the wagon train had been far from 
pleasant, and he had only Dick, and Dick had only him. 
Now the life in the enchanted valley, which was a real 
valley of enchantments, was sufficient for him. Each day 
brought forth some new wonder, some fresh and interest 
ing detail. He was a capable fisherman, and he caught 
trout in both the brook and the river, while the lake 
yielded to his line other and larger fish, the names of 
which neither boy knew, but which proved to be of deli 
cate flavor when broiled over the coals. Just above 
them was a boiling hot spring, and Albert used the water 
from this for cooking purposes. " Hot and cold water 
whenever you please/ he said to Dick. " Nothing to 
do but to turn the tap." 

Dick smiled ; he, too, was happy. He enjoyed life in 
the enchanted valley, where everything seemed to have 
conspired in their favor. When they had been there 
about a week, and their home was ready for any emer 
gency, Dick took his gun and went forth, the hunting 
spirit strong within him. They had heard the elk whis 
tling on the mountain side nearly every day, and he 
believed that elk meat would prove tender and good. 
Anyway he would see. 

Dick did not feel much concern about their food sup 
ply. He believed that vast quantities of big game would 
come into this valley in the winter to seek protection 
from the mighty snows of the northern Rockies, but it 
was just as well to begin the task of filling the larder. 

He came out into the main valley and turned toward 
the lake. Autumn was now well advanced, but in the 



cool sunshine the lake seemed more beautiful than e^er. 
Its waters were golden to-day, but with a silver tint at 
the edges where the pine-clad banks overhung it. Dick 
did not linger, however. He turned away toward the 
slopes, whence the whistling call had come the oftenest, 
and was soon among the pines and cedars. He searched 
here an hour or more, and at last he found two feeding, 
a male and a female. 

Dick had the instinct of the hunter, and already ho 
had acquired great skill. Creeping through the under 
growth, he came within easy shot of the animals, and he 
looked at them a little before shooting. The bull was 
magnificent, and he, if any, seemed a fit subject for the 
bullet, but Dick chose the cow, knowing that she would 
be the tenderer. Only a single shot was needed, and 
then he had a great task to carry the hide and the body 
in sections to the cabin. They ate elk steaks and then 
hung the rest in the trees for drying and jerking. Dick, 
according to his previous plan, used the skin to cover 
the newly mended places in the roof, fastening it down 
tightly with small wooden pegs. His forethought was 
vindicated two days later when a great storm came. 
Both he and Albert had noticed throughout the after 
noon an unusual warmth in the air. It affected Albert 
particularly, as it made his respiration difficult. Over 
the mountains in the west they saw small dark clouds 
which soon began to grow and unite. Dick thought he 
knew what it portended, and he and his brother quickly 
taking down the tent, carried it and all its equipment 
inside the cabin. Then making fast the door and leaving 
the window open, they waited. 



The heat endured, but all the clouds became one that 
overspread the entire heavens. Despite the lateness of 
the season, the thunder, inexpressibly solemn and majes 
tic, rumbled among the gorges, and there was a quiver 
of lightning. It was as dark as twilight. 

The rain came, roaring down the clefts and driving 
against the cabin with such force that they were com 
pelled to close the window. How thankful Dick was now 
for Albert s sake that they had such a secure shelter! 
Nor did he despise it for his own. 

The rain, driven by a west wind, poured heavily, and 
the air rapidly grew colder. Albert piled dry firewood 
on the hearth and lighted it. The flames leaped up, and 
warmth, dryness, and cheer filled all the little cabin. 
Dick had been anxiously regarding the roof, but the new 
boards and the elk skin were water-tight. Not a drop 
came through. Higher leaped the flames and the rosy 
shadows fell upon the floor. 

" It s well we took the tent down and came in here/ 
said Albert. Listen to that ! " 

The steady, driving sweep changed to a rattle and a 
crackle. The rain had turned to hail, and it was like the 
patter of rifle fire on the stout little cabin. 

" It may rain or hail or snow, or do whatever it 
pleases, but it can t get at us, said Albert exultingly. 

" No, it can t," said Dick. " I wonder, Al, what 
Bright Sun is doing now? } 

" A peculiar Indian," said Albert thoughtfully, 
" but it s safe to say that wherever he is he s planning 
and acting." 

* At any rate, said Dick, we re not likely to know 


it, whatever It is, for a long time, and we won t bother 
trying to guess about it." 

It hailed for an hour and then changed to rain again, 
pouring down in great steadiness and volume. Dick 
opened the window a little way once, but the night was 
far advanced, and it was pitchy black outside. They 
let the coals die down to a glowing bed, and then, wrap 
ping themselves in their blankets, they slept soundly 
all through the night and the driving rain, their little 
cabin as precious to them as any palace was ever to a 

Albert, contrary to custom, was the first to awake the 
next morning. A few coals from the fire were yet alive 
on the hearth, and the atmosphere of the room, breathed 
over and over again throughout the night, was close and 
heavy. He threw back the window shutter, and the 
great rush of pure cold air into the opening made his 
body thrill with delight. This was a physical pleasure, 
but the sight outside gave him a mental rapture even 
greater. Nothing was falling now, but the rain had 
turned back to hail before it ceased, and all the earth 
was in glittering white. The trees in the valley, clothed 
in ice, were like lace work, and above them towered the 
shining white mountains. 

Albert looked back at Dick. His brother, wrapped 
in his blanket, still slept, with his arm under his head 
and his face toward the hearth. He looked so strong, 
so enduring, as h.e lay there sleeping soundly, and Albert 
knew that he was both. But a curious feeling was in 
the younger boy s mind that morning. He was glad that 
he had awakened first. Hitherto he had always opened 



his eyes to find Dick up and doing. It was Dick who 
had done everything. It was Dick who had saved him 
from the Sioux; it was Dick who had practically car 
ried him over the first range ; Dick had found their shel 
ter in the pine alcove ; Dick had labored day and night, 
day after day, and night after night, bringing the stores 
over the mountain from the lost train, then he had found 
their new home in the enchanted valley, which Albert 
persisted in calling it, and he had done nearly all the 
hard work of repairing and furnishing the cabin. 

It should not always be so. Albert s heart was full 
of gratitude to this brother of his who was so brave and 
resourceful, but he wanted to do his share. The feeling 
was based partly on pride and partly on a new increase 
of physical strength. He took a deep inhalation of the 
cold mountain air and held it long in his lungs. Then 
he emitted it slowly. There was no pain, no feeling of 
soreness, and it was the first time he could remember 
that it had been so. A new thrill of pleasure, keener and 
more powerful than any other, shook him for a moment. 
It was a belief, nay, a certainty, or at least a conviction, 
that he was going to be whole and sound. The moun 
tains were doing their kindly healing. He could have 
shouted aloud with pleasure, but instead he restrained 
himself and went outside, softly shutting the door be 
hind him. 

Autumn had gone and winter had come in a night. 
The trees were stripped of every leaf and in their place 
was the sheathing of ice. The brook roared past, swollen 
for the time to a little river. The air, though very 
cold, was dry despite the heavy rain of the night before. 



Albert shivered more than once, but it was not the shiver 
of weakness. It did not bite to the very marrow of him. 
Instead, when he exercised legs and arms vigorously, 
warmth came back. He was not a crushed and shriv 
eled thing. Now he laughed aloud in sheer delight. He 
had subjected himself to another test, and he had passed 
it in triumph. 

He built up the fire, and when Dick awoke, the pleas 
ant aroma of cooking filled the room. 

" Why, what s this, All " exclaimed the big youth, 
rubbing his eyes. 

" Oh, I ve been up pretty nearly an hour/* replied 
Albert airily. Saw that you were having a fine sleep, 
so I thought I wouldn t disturb you." 

Dick looked inquiringly at him. He thought he de 
tected a new note in his brother s voice, a note, too, that 
he liked. 

I see, he said ; and you Ve been at work some 
time. Do you feel fully equal to the task? " 

Albert turned and faced his brother squarely. 

" IVe been thinking a lot, and feeling a lot more this 
morning," he replied. " I ve been trying myself out, 
as they say, and if I m not well I m traveling fast in 
that direction. Hereafter I share the work as well as the 

Albert spoke almost defiantly, but Dick liked his tone 
and manner better than ever. He would not, on any 
account, have said anything in opposition at this mo 

" All right, Al, old fellow. That s agreed," he said. 



THE thin sheath of ice did not last long. On the 
second day the sun came out and melted it in an 
hour. Then a warm wind blew and in a few more 
hours the earth was dry. On the third day Albert took 
his repeating rifle from the hooks on the wall and calmly 
announced that he was going hunting. 

" All right/ said Dick; " and as I feel lazy 111 keep 
house until you come back. Don t get chewed up by a 
grizzly bear." 

Dick sat down in the doorway of the cabin and 
watched his brother striding off down the valley, gun on 
shoulder, figure very erect. Dick smiled; but it was 
a smile of pride, not derision. 

" Good old Al ! He ll do ! " he murmured. 

Albert followed the brook into the larger valley and 
then went down by the side of the lake. Though a skill 
ful shot, he was not yet a good hunter, but he knew that 
one must make a beginning and he wanted to learn 
through his own mistakes. 

He had an idea that game could be found most easily 
in the forest that ran down the mountain side to the lake, 
and he was thinking most particularly just then of elk. 



He had become familiar with the loud, whistling sound, 
and be listened for it now but did not hear it. 

He passed the spot at which Dick had killed the big 
cow elk and continued northward among the trees that 
eovered the slopes and flat land between the mountain 
and the lake. This area broadened as he proceeded, and, 
although the forest was leafless now, it was so dense and 
there was such a large proportion of evergreens, cedars, 
and pines that Albert could not see very far ahead. He 
crossed several brooks pouring down from the peaks. 
All were in flood, and once or twice it was all that he 
could do with a flying leap to clear them, but he went 
on, undiscouraged, keeping a sharp watch for that which 
he was hunting. 

Albert did not know much about big game, but he 
remembered hearing Dick say that elk and mule deer 
would be likely to come into the valley for shelter at the 
approach of winter, and he was hopeful that he might 
have the luck to encounter a whole herd of the big elk. 
Then, indeed, he would prove that he was an equal part 
ner with Dick in the work as well as the reward. He 
wished to give the proof at once. 

He had not been so far up the north end of the valley 
before, and he noticed that here was quite an expanse of 
flat country on either side of the lake. But the moun 
tains all around the valley were so high that it seemed 
to Albert that deer and other wild animals might find 
food as well as shelter throughout the winter. Hence 
he was quite confident, despite his poor luck so far, that 
he should find big game soon, and his hunting fever 
increased. He had never shot anything bigger than a 



rabbit, but Albert was an impressionable boy, and his im 
agination at once leaped over the gulf from a rabbit 
to a grizzly bear. 

He had the lake, an immense and beautiful blue mir 
ror, on his right and the mountains on his left, but the 
space between was now nearly two miles in width, sown 
thickly in spots with pine and cedar, ash and aspen, and 
in other places quite open. In the latter the grass was 
green despite the lateness of the season, and Albert sur 
mised that good grazing could be found there all through 
the winter, even under the snow. Game must be plenti 
ful there, too. 

The way dropped down a little into a sheltered de 
pression, and Albert heard a grunt and a great puffing 
breath. A huge dark animal that had been lying among 
some dwarf pines shuffled to its feet, and Albert s heart 
slipped right up into his throat. Here was his grizzly, 
and he certainly was a monster ! Every nerve in Albert 
was tingling, and instinct bade him run. Will had a 
hard time of it for a few moments, struggling with in 
stinct, but will conquered, and, standing his ground, 
Albert fired a bullet from his repeater at the great 
dark mass. 

The animal emitted his puffing roar again and 
rushed, head down, but blindly. Then Albert saw that 
he had roused not a grizzly bear but an enormous bull 
buffalo, a shaggy, fierce old fellow who would not eat 
him, but who might gore or trample him to death. His 
aspect was so terrible that will again came near going 
down before instinct, but Albert did not run. Instead, 
he leaped aside, and, as the buffalo rushed past, he fired 



another bullet from his repeater into his body just back 
of the fore legs. 

The animal staggered, and Albert staggered, too, 
from excitement and nervousness, but he remembered to 
take aim and fire again and again with his heavy re 
peater. In his heat and haste he did not hear a shout 
behind him, but he did see the great bull stagger, then 
reel and fall on his side, after which he lay quite still. 

Albert stood, rifle in hand, trembling and incredu 
lous. Could it be he who had slain the mightiest buffalo 
that ever trod the earth? The bull seemed to his dis 
tended eyes and flushed brain to weigh ten tons at least, 
and to dwarf the biggest elephant. He raised his hand 
to his forehead and then sat down beside his trophy, 
overcome with weakness. 

" Well, now, you have done it, young one! I 
thought I d get a finger in this pie, but I came up too 
late ! Say, young fellow, what s your name? Is it Daniel 
Boone or Davy Crockett? " 

It was Dick who had followed in an apparently cas 
ual manner. He had rushed to his brother s rescue when 
he saw the bull charging, but he had arrived too late 
and he was glad of it ; the triumph was wholly Albert s. 

Albert, recovering from his weakness, looked at Dick, 
looked at the buffalo, and then looked back at Dick. All 
three looks were as full of triumph, glory, and pride as 
any boy s look could be. 

" He s as big as a mountain, isn t he, Dick? " he 

" Well, not quite that," replied Dick gravely. " A 
good-sized hill would be a better comparison." 



The buffalo certainly was a monster, and the two 
boys examined him critically. Dick was of the opinion 
that he belonged to the species known as the wood bison, 
which is not numerous among the mountains, but which 
is larger than the ordinary buffalo of the plains. The 
divergence of type, however, is very slight. 

" He must have been an outlaw/ said Dick; " a 
vicious old bull compelled to wander alone because of 
his bad manners. Still, it s likely that he s not the only 
buffalo in our valley/ 

" Can we eat him? " asked Albert. 

" That s a question. He s sure to be tough, but I 
remember how we used to make steak tender at home by 
beating it before it was cooked. We might serve a thou 
sand pounds or two of this bull in that manner. Be 
sides, we want that robe. 

The robe was magnificent, and both boys felt that it 
would prove useful. Dick had gained some experience 
from his own buffalo hunt on the plains, and they began 
work at once with their sharp hunting knives. It was 
no light task to take the skin, and the beast was so heavy 
that they could not get it entirely free until they partly 
chopped up the body with an ax that Dick brought from 
the cabin. Then it made a roll of great weight, but 
Dick spread it on the roof of their home to cure. They 
also cut out great sections of the buffalo, which they put 
in the same place for drying and jerking. 

While they were engaged at this task, Albert saw 
a pair of fiery eyes regarding them from the under 

" See, Dick," he said, " what is that? " 


Dick saw the eyes, the lean ugly body behind it, and 
he shuddered. He knew. It Y/as the timber wolf, largest 
and fiercest of the species, brother to him whom he had 
seen prowling about the ruined wagon train. The brute 
called up painful memories, and, seizing his rifle, he 
fired at a spot midway between the red eyes. The wolf 
uttered a howl, leaped high in the air, and fell dead, 
lying without motion, stretched on his side. 

" I didn t like the way he looked at us," explained 

A horrible growling and snapping came from the 
bushes presently. 

" What s that? " asked Albert. 

" It s only Mr. Timber Wolf s brethren eating up 
Mr. Timber Wolf, now that he is no longer of any use to 

Albert shuddered, too. 

It was nightfall when they took away the last of the 
buffalo for which they cared, and as they departed they 
heard in the twilight the patter of light feet. 

" It s the timber wolves rushing for what we ve 
left, said Dick. t Those are big and fierce brutes, and 
you and I, Al, must never go out without a rifle or a 
revolver. You can t tell what they ll try, especially in 
the winter. 

The entire roof of the cabin was covered the next day 
with the buffalo robe and the drying meat, and birds of 
prey began to hover above it. Albert constituted himself 
watchman, and, armed with a long stick, took his place 
on the roof, where he spent the day. 

Dick shouldered one of the shotguns and went down 


to the lake. There he shot several fine teal, and in one 
of the grassy glades near it he roused up prairie hen. 
Being a fine shot, he secured four of these, and returned 
to the cabin with his acceptable spoil. 

They had now such a great supply of stores and 
equipment that their place was crowded and they 
scarcely had room for sleeping on the floor. 

11 What we need/ said Dick, " is an annex, a place 
that can be used for a storehouse only, and this valley, 
which has been so kind to us, ought to continue being 
kind and furnish it." 

The valley did furnish the annex, and it was Albert 
who found it. He discovered a little farther up the cleft 
an enormous oak, old and decayed. The tree was at 
least seven feet through, and the hollow itself was fully 
five feet in diameter, with a height of perhaps fourteen 
feet. It was very rough inside with sharp projections 
in every direction which had kept any large animal from 
making his den there, but Albert knew at once that the 
needed place had been found. Full of enthusiasm he 
ran for Dick, who came instantly to see. 

" Fine," said Dick approvingly. " Well call it the 
4 Annex, sure enough, and we 11 get to work right away 
with our axes." 

They cut out all the splinters and other projections, 
smoothing off the round walls and the floor, and they 
also extended the hollow overhead somewhat. 

" This is to be a two-story annex," said Dick. " We 
need lots of room." 

High up they ran small poles across, fixing them 
firmly in the tree on either side, and lower down they 



planted many wooden pegs and hooks on which they 
might hang various articles. 

" Everything will keep dry in here," said Albert. 
" I would not mind sleeping in the Annex, but when 
the door is closed there won t be a particle of air. 

It was the " door " that gave them the greatest 
trouble. The opening by which they entered the hollow 
was about four feet high and a foot and a half across, 
and both boys looked at it a long time before they could 
see a way to solve the puzzle. 

11 That door has to be strong enough to keep every 
thing out, said Dick. l We mean to keep most of our 
meat supply in there, and that, of course, will draw wild 
animals, little and big; it s the big ones we ve got to 
guard against/ 

After strenuous thinking, they smoothed off all the 
sides of the opening in order that a flat surface might 
fit perfectly against them. Then Dick cut down a small 
oak, and split out several boardsnot a difficult task for 
him, as he had often helped to make boards in Illinois. 
The boards were laid together the width of the opening 
and were held in place by cross pieces fastened with 
wooden pegs. Among their stores were two augers and 
two gimlets, and they were veritable godsends; they 
enabled the boys to make use of pegs and to save the 
few nails that they had for other and greater emer- 

The door was made, and now came the task to 
" hang "it. " Hang " was merely a metaphorical 
word, as they fitted it into place instead. The wood all 
around the opening was about a foot thick, and they cut 



it out somewhat after the fashion of the lintels of a door 
way. Then they fitted in the door, which rested securely 
in its grooves, but they knew that the claws of a grizzly 
bear or mountain lion might scratch it out, and they in 
tended to make it secure against any such mischance. 

With the aid of hatchet and auger they put three 
wooden hooks on either side of the doorway, exactly 
like those that defend the door of a frontier cabin, 
and into these they dropped three stout bars. It was 
true that the bars were on the outside, but no wild ani 
mal would have intelligence enough to pry up those 
three bars and scratch the door out of place. Moreover, 
it could not happen by accident. It took them three la 
borious days to make and fit this door, but when the task 
was done they contemplated it with just pride. 

" I call that about the finest piece of carpenter s 
work ever done in these mountains/ said Albert in 
tones suffused with satisfaction. 

" Of course/ said Dick. " Why shouldn t it be, 
when the best carpenters in the world did the job ? " 

The two laughed, but their pride was real and no 
jest. It was late in the afternoon when they finished 
this task, and on the way to the cabin Albert suddenly 
turned white and reeled. Dick caught him, but he re 
mained faint for sometime. He had overtasked himself, 
and when they reached the cabin Dick made him lie 
down on the great buffalo robe while he cooked supper. 
But, contrary to his former habit, Albert revived rap 
idly. The color returned to his face and he sprang up 
presently, saying that he was hungry enough to eat a 
whole elk. Dick felt a mighty sense of relief. Albert 



in his zeal had merely overexerted himself. It was not 
any relapse. * Here s the elk steak and you can eat ten 
pounds of it if you want it, he said. 

They began early the next morning to move supplies 
to the Annex. High up in the hollow they hung great 
quantities of the dried meat of buffalo, elk, and mule 
deer. They also stored there several elk and mule deer 
skins, two wolf skins, and other supplies that they 
thought they would not need for a while. But in the 
main it was what they called a smokehouse, as it was 
universally known in the Mississippi Valley, their 
former home that is, a place for keeping meat cured or 
to be cured. 

This task filled the entire day, and when the door 
was securely fastened in place they returned to the 
cabin. After supper Dick opened the window, from 
which they could see the Annex, as they had cut away a 
quantity of the intervening bushes. Albert meanwhile 
put out the last coals of the fire. Then he joined Dick 
at the window. Both had an idea that they were going 
to see something interesting. 

The valley filled with darkness, but the moon came 
out, and, growing used to the darkness, they could see 
the Annex fairly well. 

Dick wet his finger and held it up. 

" The wind is blowing from the Annex toward us," 
he said. 

" That s good," said Albert, nodding. 

They watched for a long time, hearing only the dry 
rustling of the light wind among the bare boughs, but 
at last Dick softly pushed his shoulder against Albert s. 



Albert nodded again, with comprehension. A small 
dark animal came into the open space around the Annex. 
The boys had difficulty in tracing his outlines at first, 
but once they had them fixed, they followed his move 
ments with ease. He advanced furtively, stopping at 
intervals evidently both to listen and look. Some other 
of his kind, or not of his kind, might be on the same 
quest and it was his business to know. 

" Is it a fox? " whispered Albert. 

" I think not," replied Dick in the same tone. " It 
must be a wolverine. He scents the good things in the 
Annex and he wants, oh, how he wants, the taste of 

The little dark animal, after delicate maneuvering, 
came close up to the tree, and they saw him push his 
nose against the cold bark. 

" I know just how he feels," whispered Albert with 
some sympathy. " It s all there, but he must know the 
quest is hopeless." 

The little animal went all around the tree nosing the 
eold bark, and then stopped again at the side of the 

" No use, sir," whispered Albert. " That door wont 
open just because you re hungry." 

The little animal suddenly cocked up his head and 
darted swiftly away into the shadows. But another and 
somewhat larger beast came creeping into the open, ad 
vancing with caution toward the Annex. 

" Aha! " whispered Dick. " Little fellow displaced 
by a bigger one. That must be a wild cat." 

The wild cat went through the same performance, 


He nosed eagerly at the door, circled the tree two or 
three times, but always came back to the place where 
that tempting, well-nigh irresistible odor assailed him. 
The boys heard a low growl and the scratching of sharp 
claws on the door. 

11 Now he s swearing and fighting/ whispered Al 
bert, " but it will do him no good. Save your throat 
and your claws, old fellow." 

Look, he s gone ! whispered Dick. 

The wild cat suddenly tucked his tail between his legs 
and fled from the opening so swiftly that they could 
scarcely see him go. 

" And here comes his successor, " whispered Albert. 
" I suppose, Dick, we might call this an arithmetical or 
geometrical progression." 

An enormous timber wolf stalked into the clear space. 
He bore no resemblance to the mean, sneaking little 
coyote of the prairie. As he stood upright his white 
teeth could be seen, and there was the slaver of hunger 
on his lips. He, too, was restive, watchful, and suspi 
cious, but it did not seem to either Dick or Albert that 
his movements betokened fear. There was strength in 
his long, lean body, and ferocity in his little red eyes. 

" What a hideous brute! " whispered Albert, shud 

11 And as wicked as he is ugly," replied Dick. " I 
hate the sight of these timber wolves. I don t wonder 
that the wild cat made himself scarce so quickly." 

" And he s surely hungry! " said Albert. " See 
how he stretches out his head toward our Annex, as if 
he would devour everything inside it ! " 



Albert was right. The big wolf was hungry, hungry 
through and through, and the odor that came from the 
tree was exquisite and permeating; it was a mingled 
odor of many things and everything was good. He had 
never before known a tree to give forth such a delight 
ful aroma and he thrilled in every wolfish fiber as it 
tickled his nostrils. 

He approached the tree with all the caution of his 
cautious and crafty race, and, as he laid his nose upon 
the bark, that mingled aroma of many things good grew 
so keen and powerful that he came as near as a big 
wolf can to fainting with delight. He pushed at the 
places where the door fitted into the tree, but nothing 
yielded. Those keen and powerful odors that penetrated 
delightfully to every marrow of him were still there, 
but he could not reach their source. A certain disap 
pointment, a vague fear of failure mingled with his 
anticipation, and as the wolverine and the wild cat had 
done, he moved uneasily around the tree, scratching at 
the bark, and now and then biting it with teeth that 
were very long and cruel. 

His troubled circuit brought him back to the door, 
where the aroma was finest and strongest. There he 
tore at the lowest bar with tooth and claw, but it did 
not more. He had the aroma and nothing more, and 
no big, strong wolf can live on odors only. The vague 
disappointment grew into a positive rage. He felt in 
stinctively that he could not reach the good things that 
the wonderful tree held within itself, but he persisted. 
He bent his back, uttered a growl of wrath just as a man 
swears, and fell to again with tooth and claw. 



" If I didn t know that door was so very strong, I d 
be afraid he d get in, whispered Albert. 

* Never fear, Dick whispered back with confidence. 

The big wolf suddenly paused in his effort. Tooth 
and claw were still, and he crouched hard against the 
tree, as if he would have his body to blend with its 
shadow. A new odor had come to his nostrils. It did 
not come from the tree. Nor was it pleasant. Instead, 
it told him of something hostile and powerful. He was 
big and strong himself, but this that came was bigger 
and stronger. The growl that had risen in his throat 
stopped at his teeth. A chill ran down his backbone and 
the hair upon it stood up. The great wolf was afraid, 
and he knew he was afraid. 

" Look! " whispered Albert in rising excitement. 
t The wolf, too, is stealing away ! He is scared by some 
thing! " 

"And good cause he has to be scared," said Dick. 
" See what scorning! " 

A great tawny beast stood for a moment at the edge 
of the clearing. He was crouched low against the 
ground, but his body was long and powerful, with mas 
sive shoulders and fore arms. His eyes were yellow im 
the moonlight, and they stared straight at the Annex. 
The big wolf took one hasty frightened look and then 
fled silently in the other direction. He knew now that 
the treasures of the Annex were not for him. 

" It s a cougar/ whispered Dick, " and it must be 
the king of them all. Did you ever see such a whop 
per? " 

The cougar came farther into the clearing. He was 


of great size, but he was a cat a huge cat, but a cat, 
nevertheless and like a cat he acted. He dragged his 
body along the earth, and his eyes, now yellow, now 
green, in the moonlight, were swung suspiciously from 
side to side. He felt all that the wolf had felt, but he 
was even more cunning and his approach was slower. 
It was his habit to spring when close enough, but he 
saw nothing to spring at except a tree trunk, and so he 
still crept forward on noiseless pads. 

Now, what will Mr. Cougar do ? " asked Albert. 

" Just what the others have done/ replied Dick. 
" He will scratch and bite harder because he is bigger 
and stronger, but we ve fixed our Annex for just such 
attacks. It will keep him out. 

Dick was right. The cougar or mountain lion be 
haved exactly as the others had done. He tore at the 
door, then he circled the tree two or three times, hunting 
in vain for an opening. Every vein in him was swollen 
with rage, and the yellowish-green eyes flared anger. 

" He d be an ugly creature to meet just now," whis 
pered Dick. " He s so mad that I believe he d attack 
an elephant." 

" He s certainly in no good humor," replied Dick. 
" But look, Al! See his tail drop between his legs! 
Now what under the moon is about to happen ? ! 

Albert, surcharged with interest and excitement, 
stared as Dick was staring. The mighty cat seemed 
suddenly to crumple up. His frame shrank, his head 
was drawn in, he sank lower to the earth, as if he would 
burrow into it, but he uttered no sound whatever. He 
was to both the boys a symbol of fear. 



What a change ! "What does it mean ? 9 whispered 

" It must mean/ replied Dick, " that he, too, has a 
master and that the master is coming. 

The cougar suddenly bunched himself up and there 
Was a flash of tawny fur as he shot through the air. A 
second leap and the trees closed over his frightened 
figure. Albert believed that he would not stop running 
for an hour. 

Into the opening, mighty and fearless, shambled a 
monstrous beast. He had a square head, a long, immense 
body, and the claws of his great feet were hooked, many 
inches in length, and as sharp and hard as if made of 
steel. The figure of the beast stood for power and un 
bounded strength, and his movements indicated over 
whelming confidence. There was nothing for him to 
fear. He had never seen any living creature that could 
do him harm. It was a gigantic grizzly bear. 

Albert, despite himself, as he looked at the terrible 
brute, felt fear. It was there, unconfined, and a single 
blow of its paw could sweep the strongest man out of 

"I m glad I m in this cabin, and that this cabin is 
strong," he whispered tremulously. 

" So am I," said Dick, and his own whisper was a 
little shaky. " It s one thing to see a grizzly in a cage, 
and another to see him out here in the dark in these wild 
mountains. And that fellow must weigh at least a 
thousand pounds." 

King Bruin shambled boldly across the opening to 
the Annex. Why should he be careful? There might 



be other animals among the bushes and trees watching 
him, but they were weak, timid things, and they would 
run from his shadow. In the wan moonlight, which 
distorted and exaggerated, his huge bulk seemed to the 
two boys to grow to twice its size. When he reached the 
tree he reared up against it, growled in a manner that 
made the blood of the boys run cold, and began to tear 
with teeth and claws of hooked steel. The bark and 
splinters flew, and, for a moment, Dick was fearful lest 
he should force the door to their treasure. But it was 
only for a moment; not even a grizzly could break or 
tear his way through such a thickness of oak. 

" Nothing can displace him," whispered Albert. 
" He s the real king. " 

He s not the king, replied Dick, and something 
can displace him." 

" What do you mean? " asked Albert with mere* 

No beast is king. It s man, and man is here. I m 
going to have a shot at that monster who is trying to 
rob us. We can reach him from here with a bullet. You 
take aim, too, Al." 

They opened the window a little wider, being careful 
to make no noise, and aimed their rifles at the bear, who 
was still tearing at the tree in his rage. 

" Try to hit him in the heart, Al," whispered Dick, 
" and I ll try to do the same. I ll count three in a 
whisper, and at the three we ll fire together." 

The hands of both boys as they leveled their weapons 
were trembling, not with fear, but from sheer nervous 
ness. The bear, meanwhile, had taken no notice and 



was still striving to reach the hidden treasures. Like 
others, he had made the circuit of the Annex more than 
once, but now he was reared up again at the door, pull 
ing at it with mighty tooth and claw. It seemed to both 
as they looked down the barrels of their rifles and chose 
the vulnerable spot that, monstrous and misshapen, he 
was constantly growing in size, so powerful was the 
effect of the moonlight and their imagination. But itf 
was terrible fact to them. 

They could see him with great distinctness, and so 
silent was the valley otherwise that they could hear the 
sound of his claws ripping across the bark. He was like 
some gigantic survival of another age. Dick waited 
until both his brother and himself grew steadier. 

Now don t miss, Albert, he said. 

He counted " One, two, three/ 7 slowly, and at the 
* three ! the report of the two rifles came as one. 
They saw the great bear drop down from the tree, they 
heard an indescribable roar of pain and rage, and then 
they saw his huge bulk rushing down upon them. Dick 
fired three times and Albert twice, but the bear still 
came, and then Dick slammed the window shut and 
fastened it just as the full weight of the bear was 
hurled against the cabin. 

Neither boy ever concealed from himself the fact 
that he was in a panic for a few moments. Their bullets 
seemed to have had no effect upon the huge grizzly, who 
was growling ferociously and tearing at the logs of the 
cabin. Glad they were that those lo^ r were so stout 
and thick, and they stood there a little \, in the dark 
ness, their blood chilling at the sounds outside. Pres- 



ently the roaring and tearing ceased and there was the 
sound of a fall. It was so dark in the cabin that the 
brothers could not see the faces of each other, but Dick 
whispered : 

" Albert, I believe we ve kiUed him, after all." 
Albert said nothing and they waited a full ten 
minutes. No sound whatever came to their ears. Then 
Dick opened the window an inch or two and peeped out. 
The great bear lay upon his side quite still, and Dick 
uttered a cry of joy. 

I i We ve killed him, Al ! we ve killed him ! he cried. 
1 Are you sure ? asked Albert. 

II Quite sure. He does not stir in the slightest." 
They opened the door and went out. The great 

grizzly was really dead. Their bullets had gone true, 
but his vitality was so enormous that he had been able 
to rush upon the cabin and tear at it in his rage until 
he fell dead. Both boys looked at him with admiration 
and awe ; even dead, he was terrifying in every respect. 

" I don t wonder that the cougar, big and strong 
as he was, slunk away in terror when he saw old Eph- 
raim coming," said Dick. 

1 "We must have his skin to put with our two buffalo 
robes, said Albert. 

And we must take it to-night, said Dick, l or the 
wolves will be here while we sleep." 

They had acquired some skill in the art of removing 
furs and pelts, but it took them hours to strip the coat 
from the big grizzly. Then, as in the case of the buffalo, 
they cut away some portions of the meat that they 
thought might prove tender. They put the hide upon 



the roof to dry, and, their work over, they went to sleep 
behind a door securely fastened. 

Dick was awakened once by what he thought was a 
sound of growling and fighting outside, but he was so 
sleepy that it made no impression upon him. They did 
not awake fully until nearly noon, and when they went 
forth they found that nothing was left of the great 
bear but his skeleton. 

" The timber wolves have been busy/ said Dick. 



THE hide of the bear, which they cured in good 
style, was a magnificent trophy; the fur was 
soft and long, and when spread out came near 
covering the floor of their cabin. It was a fit match for 
the robe of the buffalo. They did not know much about 
grizzlies, but they believed that no larger bear would 
ever be killed in the Eocky Mountains. 

A few days later Dick shot another buffalo in one 
of the defiles, but this was a young cow and her flesh 
was tender. They lived on a portion of it from day to 
day and the rest they cured and put in the Annex. 
They added the robe to their store of furs. 

I m thinking, " said Dick, " that you and I, Al, 
might turn fur hunters. This seems to be an isolated 
corner of the mountains. It may have been trapped 
out long ago, but when man goes away the game comes 
back. We ve got a comfortable house, and, with this 
as a basis, we might do better hunting furs here than 
if we were hunting gold in California, where the chances 
are always against you. 

The idea appealed to Albert, but for the present 
they contented themselves with improving their house 



and surroundings. Other bears, cougars, and wolves 
came at night and prowled around the Annex, but it 
was secure against them all, and Dick and Albert never 
troubled themselves again to keep awake and watch for 
such intruders. 

Winter now advanced and it was very old, but, 
to Dick s great relief, no snow came. It was on Albert s 
account that he wished air and earth to remain dry, 
and it seemed as if Nature were doing her best to help 
the boy s recovery. The cough did not come again, 
he had no more spells of great exhaustion, the physical 
uplift became mental also, and his spirits, because of 
the rebound, fairly bubbled. He was full of ideas, 
continually making experiments, and had great plans 
i n regard to the valley and Castle Howard, as he some 
times playfully called their cabin. 

One of the things that pleased Albert most was his 
diversion of water from a hot spring about fifty yards 
from the cabin and higher up the ravine. He dug a 
trench all the way from the pool to the house, and the 
hot water came bubbling down to their very door. It 
cooled, of course, a little on the way, but it was still 
warm enough for cooking purposes, and Albert was 
hugely delighted. 

" Hot water! Cold water! Whatever you wish, 
Dick, " he said ; " just turn on the tap. If my inventive 
faculty keeps on growing, I ll soon have a shower bath, 
hot and cold, rigged up here." 

" It won t grow enough for that," said Dick; " but 
I want to tell you, Al, that the big game in the valley 
is increasing at a remarkable rate. Although cold, it s 



been a very open winter so far, but I suppose the 
instinct of these animals warns them to seek a sheltered 
place in time. * 

" Instinct or the habit of endless generations, " said 

" Which may be the same thing," rejoined Dick. 

" Just what increase have you seen lately? " asked 

" There s a whole herd of elk beyond the far end 
of the lake, I ve noticed on the cliffs what I take to be 
mountain sheep, and thirty or forty buffaloes at least 
must be ranging about in here. 

"Then," said Albert, "let s have a try at the 
buffaloes. Their robes will be worth a lot when we 
go back to civilization, and there is more room left in 
the Annex." 

They took their repeaters and soon proved Dick s 
words to be true. In a sheltered meadow three or more 
miles up the valley they found about twenty buffaloes 
grazing. Each shot down a fat cow, and they could 
have secured more had not the minds of both boys 
rebelled at the idea of slaughter. 

" It s true we d like to have the robes," said Dick, 
" but we d have to leave most of the carcasses rotting 
here. Even with the wonderful appetites that we ve 
developed, we couldn t eat a whole buffalo herd in one 

But after they had eaten the tongue, brisket, and 
tenderloin of the two cows, while fresh, these being the 
tenderest and best parts of the buffalo, they added the 
rest of the meat to their stores in the Annex. As they 



had done already in several cases, they jerked it, a 
most useful operation that observant Dick had learned 
when they were with the wagon train. 

It took a lot of labor and time to jerk the buffaloes, 
but neither boy had a lazy bone in him, and time seemed 
to stretch away into eternity before them. They cut 
the flesh into long, thin strips, taking it all from the 
bones. Then all these pieces were thoroughly mixed 
with salt fortunately, they could obtain an unlimited 
Supply of salt by boiling out the water from the numer 
ous salt springs in the valley chiefly by pounding 
and rubbing. They let these strips remain inside the 
hides about three hours, then all was ready for the main 
process of jerking. 

Albert had been doing the salting and Dick mean 
while had been getting ready the frame for the jerking, 
He drove four forked poles into the ground, in the form 
of a square and about seven feet apart. The forks were 
between four and five feet above the ground. On op 
posite sides of the square, from fork to fork, he laid 
two stout young poles of fresh, green wood. Then from 
pole to pole he laid many other and smaller poles, gen 
erally about an inch apart. They laid the strips of 
buffalo meat, taken from their salt bath, upon the net 
work of small poles, and beneath they built a good fire 
of birch, ash, and oak. 

" Why, it makes me think of a smokehouse at home/ 1 
said Albert. 

" Same principle, " said Dick, " but if you let that 
fire under there go out, Al, IH take on*? of those fcirca 
rods and give you the biggest whaling you ever had in 



your life. You re strong enough now to stand a good 

Albert laughed. He thought his big brother Dick 
about the greatest fellow on earth. But he paid assidu 
ous attention to the fire, and Dick did so, too. They kept 
it chiefly a great bed of coals, never allowing the flames 
to rise as high as the buffalo meat, and they watched 
over it twenty-four hours. In order to keep this watch, 
they deserted the cabin for a night, sleeping by turns 
before the fire under the frame of poles, which was no 
hardship to them. 

The fierce timber wolves came again in the night, at 
tracted by the savory odor of buffalo meat; and once 
they crept near and were so threatening that Albert, 
whose turn it was at the watch, became alarmed. He 
awakened Dick, and, in order to teach these dangerous 
marauders a lesson, they shot two of them. Then the 
shrewd animals, perceiving that the two-legged beasts by 
the fire carried something very deadly with which they 
slew at a distance, kept for a while to the forest and out 
of sight. 

After the twenty-four hours of fire drying, the buf 
falo meat was greatly reduced in weight and bulk, 
though it was packed as full as ever with sustenance. It 
was now cured, that is, jerked, and would keep any 
length of time. While the frame was ready they jerked 
an elk, two mule deer, a big silver-tip bear that Dick shot 
on the mountain side, and many fish that they caught 
in the lake and the little river. They would scale the 
fish, cut them open down the back, and then remove the 
bone. After that the flesh was jerked on the scaffold 



in the same way that the meat of the buffalo and deer 
was treated. 

Before these operations were finished, the big timber 
wolves began to be troublesome again. Neither boy 
dared to be anywhere near the jerking stage without a 
rifle or revolver, and Dick finally invented a spring pole 
upon which they could put the fresh meat that was wait 
ing its turn to be prepared they did not want to carry 
the heavy weight to the house for safety, and then have 
to bring it back again. 

While Dick s spring pole was his own invention, as 
far as he was concerned, it was the same as that used by 
thousands of other trappers and hunters. He chose a 
big strong sapling which Albert and he with a great 
effort bent down. Then he cut off a number of the 
boughs high up, and in each crotch fastened a big piece 
of meat. The sapling was then allowed to spring back 
into place and the meat was beyond the reach of wolf. 

But the wolves tried for it, nevertheless. Dick awak 
ened Albert the first night after this invention was tried 
and asked him if he wished to see a ghost dance. Albert, 
wrapped to his eyes in the great buffalo robe, promptly 
sat up and looked. 

They had filled four neighboring saplings with meat, 
and at least twenty wolves were gathered under them, 
looking skyward, but not at the sky it was the flesh 
of elk and buffalo that they gazed at so longingly, and 
delicious odors that they knew assailed their nostrils. 

But the wolf is an enterprising animal. He does not 
merely sit and look at what he wants, expecting it to 
come to him. Every wolf in the band knew that no 



matter how hard and long he might look that splendid 
food in the tree would not drop down into his waiting 
mouth. So they began to jump for it, and it was this 
midnight and wilderness ballet that Albert opened his 
eyes to watch. 

One wolf, the biggest of the lot, leaped. It was a 
fine leap, and might have won him a championship 
among his kind, but he did not reach the prize. His 
teeth snapped together, touching only one another, and 
he fell. Albert imagined that he could hear a disap 
pointed growl. Another wolf leaped, the chief leaped 
again, a third, a fourth, and a fifth leaped, and then all 
began to leap together. 

The air was full of flying wolfish forms, going up or 
coming down. They went up, hearts full of hope, and 
came down, mouths empty of everything but disap 
pointed foam. Teeth savagely hit teeth, and growls of 
wrath were abundant. Albert felt a ridiculous inclina 
tion to laugh. The whole affair presented its ludicrous 
aspect to him. 

" Did you ever see so much jumping for so little re 
ward? " he whispered to Dick. 

" No, not unless they re taking exercise to keep 
themselves thin, although I never heard of a fat wolf." 

But a wolf does not give up easily. They continued to 
leap faster and faster, and now and then a little higher 
than before, although empty tooth still struck empty 
tooth. Now and then a wolf more prone to complaint 
than the others lifted up his voice and howled his rago 
and chagrin to the moon. It was a genuine moan, a 
long, whining cry that echoed far through the fores* 



and along the slopes, and whenever Albert heard it he 
felt more strongly than ever the inclination to laugh. 

11 I suppose that a wolf s woes are as real as our 
own/ he whispered, " but they do look funny and act 

" Strikes me the same way," replied Dick with a 
grin. " But they re robbers, or would be if they could. 
That meat s ours, and they re trying to get it." 

It was in truth a hard case for the wolves. They were 
very big and very strong. Doubtless, the selfsame wolf 
that had been driven away from the Annex by the moun 
tain lion was among them, and all of them were atro 
ciously hungry. It was not merely an odor now, they 
could also see the splendid food hanging just above their 
heads. Never before had they leaped so persistently, so 
ardently, and so high, but there was no reward, abso 
lutely none. Not a tooth felt the touch of flesh. The- 
wolves looked around at one another jealously, but the 
record was as clean as their teeth. There had been no 
surreptitious captures. 

" "Will they keep it up all night? " whispered Albert. 

" Can t say," replied Dick. " We ll just watch." 

All the wolves presently stopped leaping and 
crouched on the earth, staring straight up at the prizes 
which hung, as ever, most tantalizingly out of reach. 
The moonlight fell full upon them, a score or more, and 
Albert fancied that he could see their hungry, disap 
pointed eyes. The spectacle was at once weird and lu 
dicrous. Albert felt again that temptation to laugh, but 
he restrained it. 

Suddenly the wolves, as if it were a preconcerted 


matter, uttered one long, simultaneous howl, full, alike 
in its rising and falling note, of pain, anguish, and de 
spair, then they were gone in such swiftness and silence 
that it was like the instant melting of ghosts into thin 
air. It took a little effort of the will to persuade Albert 
that they had really been there. 

l They ve given it up, he said. * The demon danc 
ers have gone/ 

61 Demon dancers fits them," said Dick. " It s a 
good name. Yes, they ve gone, and I don t think they ll 
come back. Wolves are smart, they know when they re 
wasting time." 

When they finished jerking their buffalo meat and 
venison, Dick took the fine double-barreled shotgun 
which they had used but little hitherto, and went down 
to the lake in search of succulent waterfowl. The far 
shore of the lake was generally very high, but on the side 
of the cabin there were low places, little shallow bays, 
the bottoms covered with grass, which were much fre 
quented by wild geese and wild ducks, many of which, 
owing to the open character of the winter, had not yet 
gone southward. The ducks, in particular, muscovy, 
mallard, teal, widgeon, and other kinds, the names of 
which Dick did not know, were numerous. They had 
been molested so little that they were quite tame, and 
it was so easy to kill them in quantities that the element 
of sport was entirely lacking. 

Dick did not fancy shooting at a range of a dozen 
yards or so into a dense flock of wild ducks that would 
not go away, and he wished also to save as many as he 
could of their shot cartridges, for he had an idea that 



he and his brother would remain in the valley a long 
time. But both he and Albert wanted good supplies of 
duck and geese, which were certainly toothsome and 
succulent, and they were taking a pride, too, in filling 
the Annex with the best things that the mountains could 
afford. Hence Dick did some deep thinking and finally 
evolved a plan, being aided in his thoughts by earlier 
experience in Illinois marshes. 

He would trap the ducks and geese instead of 
shooting them, and he and Albert at once set about the 
task of making the trap. This idea was not original 
with Dick. As so many others have been, he was, in 
part, an unconscious imitator. He planted in the shal 
low water a series of hoops, graded in height, the largest 
being in the deepest water, while they diminished stead 
ily in size as they came nearer to the land. They made 
the hoops of split saplings, and planted them about four 
feet apart. 

Then they covered all these hoops with a netting, the 
total length of which was about twenty-five feet. They 
also faced each hoop with a netting, leaving an aperture 
large enough for the ducks to enter. It was long and 
tedious work to make the netting, as this was done by 
cutting the hide of an elk and the hide of a mule deer 
into strips and plaiting the strips on the hoops. They 
then had a network tunnel, at the smaller end of which 
they constructed an inclosure five or six feet square by 
means of stout poles which they thrust into the mud, and 
the same network covering which they used on the 

" It s like going in at the big end of a horn and 


coming out at the little one into a cell/* said Albert. 
" Will it work?" 

" Work? " replied Dick. " Of course it will. You 
just wait and you ll see/ 

Albert looked out upon the lake, where many ducks 
were swimming about placidly, and he raised his hand. 

" Oh, foolish birds! " he apostrophized. " Here is 
your enemy, man, making before your very eyes the 
snare that will lead you to destruction, and you go on 
taking no notice, thinking that the sunshine will last 
forever for you." 

" Shut up, Al," said Dick, " you ll make me feel 
sorry for those ducks. Besides, you re not much of a 
poet, anyway." 

When the trap was finished they put around the 
mouth and all along the tunnel quantities of the grass 
and herbs that the ducks seemed to like, and then Dick 
announced that the enterprise was finished. 

11 We have nothing further to do about it," he said, 
" but to take out our ducks." 

It was toward twilight when they finished the trap, 
and both had been in the cold water up to their knees. 
Dick had long since become hardened to such things, but 
he looked at Albert rather anxiously. The younger boy, 
however, did not begin to cough. He merely hurried 
back to the fire, took off his wet leggings, and toasted 
his feet and legs. Then he ate voraciously and slept like 
a log the night through. But both he and Dick went 
down to the lake the next morning with much eagerness, 
to see what the trap contained, if anything. 

It was a fresh winter morning, not cold enough to 


freeze the surface of the lake, but extremely crisp. The 
air contained the extraordinary exhilarating quality 
which Dick had noticed when they first came into the 
mountains, but which he had never breathed anywhere 
else. It seemed to him to make everything sparkle, even 
his blood, and suddenly he leaped up, cracked his heels 
together, and shouted. 

11 Why, Dick," exclaimed Albert, " what on earth is 
the matter with you ? 

" Nothing is the matter with me. Instead, all s 
right. I m so glad I m alive, Al, old man, that I wanted 
to shout out the fact to all creation. 

" Feel that way myself," said Albert, " and since 
you ve given such a good example, think I ll do as you 

He leaped up, cracked his heels together, and let out 
a yell that the mountains sent back in twenty echoes. 
Then both boys laughed with sheer pleasure in life, the 
golden morning, and their happy valley. So engrossed 
were they in the many things that they were doing that 
they did not yet find time to miss human faces. 

As they approached the trap, they heard a great 
squawking and cackling and found that the cell, as 
Albert called the square inclosure, contained ten ducks 
and two geese swimming about in a great state of trep 
idation. They had come down the winding tunnel and 
through the apertures in the hoops, but they did not 
have sense enough to go back the same way. Instead 
they merely swam around the square and squawked. 

" Now, aren t they silly? " exclaimed Albert. 
" With the door to freedom open, they won t take it." 



" I wonder/ said Dick philosophically, " if we hu 
man beings are not just the same. Perhaps there are 
easy paths out of our troubles lying right before us and 
superior creatures up in the air somewhere are always 
wondering why we are such fools that we don t see 

11 Shut up, Dick," said Albert, " you re getting too 
deep. I ve no doubt that in our net are some ducks that 
are rated as uncommonly intelligent ducks as ducks go. 

They forgot all about philosophy a few moments later 
when they began to dispose of their capture. They took 
them out, one by one, through a hole that they made 
in the cell and cut off their heads. The net was soon full 
again, and they caught all the ducks and geese they 
wanted with such ridiculous ease that at the end of a 
week they took it down and stored it in the cabin. 

They jerked the ducks and geese that they did not 
need for immediate use, and used the feathers to stuff 
beds and pillows for themselves. The coverings of these 
beds were furs which they stitched together with the 
tendons of the deer. 

They began to be annoyed about this time by the 
depredations of mountain lions, which, attracted by the 
pleasant odors, came down from the slopes to the number 
of at least half a dozen, Dick surmised, and prowled in 
cessantly about the cabin and Annex, taking the place 
of the timber wolves, and proving more troublesome and 
dangerous alike. One of them managed at night to 
seize the edge of an elk skin that hung on the roof of 
the cabin, and the next morning the skin was half 
chewed up and wholly ruined. 



Both boys were full of rage, and they watched for 
the lions, but failed to get a shot at them. But Dick, 
out of the stores of his memory, either some suggestion 
from reading, or trappers and hunters tales, devised 
a gun trap. He put a large piece of fresh deer meat in 
the woods about a quarter of a mile from the cabin. 
It was gone the next morning, and the tracks about 
showed that the lions had been present. 

Then Dick drove two stout forked sticks into the 
ground, the forks being about a yard above the earth. 
"Upon these he lashed one of their rifles. Then he cut a 
two-foot section of a very small sapling, one end of 
which he inserted carefully between the ground and the 
trigger of the rifle. The other end was supported upon 
a small fork somewhat higher than those supporting the 
rifle. Then he procured another slender but long sec 
tion of sapling that reached from the end of the short 
piece in the crotch some distance beyond the muzzle of 
the rifle. The end beyond the muzzle had the stub of a 
bough on it, but the end in the crotch was tied there 
with a strip of hide. Now, if anything should pull on 
the end of this stick, it would cause the shorter stick to 
spring the trigger of the rifle and discharge it. Dick 
tested everything, saw that all was firmly and properly 
in place, and the next thing to do was to bait the trap. 

He selected a piece of most tempting deer meat and 
fastened it tightly on the hooked end of the long stick. 
It was obvious that any animal pulling at this bait 
would cause the short stick tied at the other end 
of it to press against the trigger of the rifle, and the 
~(fle would be fired as certainly as if the trigger had been 



pulled by the hand of man. Moreover, the barrel of the 
rifle was parallel with the long stick, and the bullet 
would certainly be discharged into the animal pulling at 
the bait. 

After the bait had been put on Dick put the car 
tridge in the rifle. He was careful to do this last, as 
he did not wish to take any chances with the trap while 
he was testing it. But he and Albert ran a little wall 
of brush off on either side in order that the cougar, if 
cougar it were, should be induced to approach the muz 
zle directly in front. "When all the work was finished, 
the two boys inspected it critically. 

" I believe that our timber wolves would be too smart 
to come up to that trap/ said Albert. 

" Perhaps," said Dick; " but the wolf has a fine in 
tellect, and I ve never heard that the cougar or puma 
was particularly noted for brain power. Anyhow, I 
know that traps are built for him in this manner, and 
we shall see whether it will work." 

Are we going to hide somewhere near by and watch 
during the night? " 

" There s no need to make ourselves uncomfortable. 
If the gun gets him, it ll get him whether we are or are 
not here." 

" That s so," said Albert. " Well, I m willing 
enough to take to the cabin. These nights are growing 
pretty cold, I can tell you." 

Taking a last look at the gun trap and assuring them 
selves that it was all right, they hurried away to Castle 
Howard. The night was coming on much colder than 
any that they had yet had, and both were glad to get 



inside. Albert stirred the coals from beneath the ashes, 
put on fresh wood, and soon they had a fine blaze. The 
light flickered over a cabin greatly improved in appear 
ance and wonderfully snug. 

The floor, except directly in front of the hearth, 
-where sparks and coals would pop out, was covered with 
the well-tanned skins of buffalo, elk, mule deer, bear, and 
wolf. The walls also were thickly hung with furs, while 
their extra weapons, tools, and clothing hung there on 
hooks. It was warm, homelike, and showed all the tokens 
of prosperity. Dick looked around at it with an approv 
ing eye. It was not only a house, and a good house at 
that, but it was a place that one might make a base for a 
plan that he had in mind. Yes, circumstances had cer 
tainly favored them. Their own courage, skill, and 
energy had done the rest. 

Albert soon fell asleep after supper, but Dick was 
more wakeful, although he did not wish to be so. It 
was the gun trap that kept his eyes open. He took a 
pride in doing things well, and he wanted the trap to 
work right. A fear that it might not do so worried him, 
but in turn he fell into a sound sleep from which he was 
awakened by a report. He thought at first that some 
thing had struck the house, but when his confused senses 
Were gathered into a focus he knew that it was a rifle 

" Up, Al, up ! " he cried, " I think a cougar has been 
fooling with our trap ! 

Albert jumped up. They threw on their coats and 
went out into a dark and bitterly cold night. If they 
had not been so eager to see what had happened, they 



would have fled back to the refuge of the warm cabin, 
but they hurried on toward the snug little hollow in 
which the gun trap had been placed. At fifty yards they 
stopped and went much more slowly, as a terrific growl 
ing and snarling smote their ears. 

11 It s the cougar, and we ve got him," said Dick. 
" He s hit bad or he wouldn t be making such a terrible 

They approached cautiously and saw on the ground, 
almost in front of the gun, a large yellowish animal 
writhing about and tearing at the earth. His snarls and 
rage increased as he scented the two boys drawing near. 

" I think his shoulder is broken and his backbone 
injured," said Dick. " That s probably the reason he 
can t get away. I don t like to see him suffer and I ll 
finish him now." 

He sent a bullet through the cougar s head and that 
was the end of him. In order to save it from the wolves, 
they took his hide from him where he lay, and spread it 
the next day on the roof of the cabin. 

The gun trap was so successful that they baited it 
again and again, securing three more cougars, until the 
animals became too wary to try for the bait. The fourth 
cougar did not sustain a severe wound and fled up the 
mountain side, but Dick tracked him by the trail of 
blood that he left, overtook him far up the slope, and 
slew him with a single shot. All these skins were added 
to their collection, and when the last was spread out to 
dry, Dick spoke of the plan that he had in mind. 

11 Al," he said, " these mountains, or at least this 
corner of them, seem to be left to us. The Sioux, I sup- 



pose, are on the warpath elsewhere, and they don t like 
mountains much, anyhow. Our wonderful valley, the 
slopes, and all the ravines and canyons are full of game. 
The beaver must be abundant farther in, and I propose 
that we use our opportunity and turn fur hunters. 
There s wealth around us for the taking, and we were 
never sure of it in California, We ve got enough amu- 
nition to last us two years if we want to stay that long. 
Besides, Al, old boy, the valley has been the remaking 
of you. You know that/ 

Albert laughed from sheer delight. 

Dick, he said, you won t have to get a gun and 
threaten me with death unless I stay. I 11 be glad to be 
a fur hunter, and, Dick, I tell you, I m in love with this 
valley. As you say, it s made me over again, and oh, 
it s fine to be well and strong, to do what you please, 
and not always to be thinking, how can I stand this? 
Will it hurt me ? " 

" Then," said Dick, " it s settled. We ll not think 
for a long time of getting back to civilization, but devote 
ourselves to gathering up furs and skins." 



THE cold increased, although snow fell but little, 
which Dick considered good luck, chiefly on Al 
bert s account. He wanted the hardening proc 
ess to continue and not to be checked by thaws and 
permeating dampness. Meanwhile, they plunged with 
all the energy and fire of youth into the task of fur 
hunting. They had already done much in that respect, 
but now it was undertaken as a vocation. They became 
less scrupulous about sparing the buffaloes, and they shot 
more than twenty in the denies of the mountains, gath 
ering a fine lot of robes. Several more skins of the bear, 
grizzly, and silver tip were added to their collection, and 
the elk also furnished an additional store. Many wolver 
ines were taken in dead falls and snares, and their skins 
were added to the rapidly growing heap. 

They baited the trap gun once more, hoping that a 
fifth cougar might prove rash enough to dare it. No 
cougar came, but on the third night a scornful grizzly 
swallowed the deer meat as a tidbit, and got a bullet in 
the neck for his carelessness. In his rage he tore the 
trap to pieces and tossed the rifle to one side, but, for 
tunately, he did not injure the valuable weapon, his 



attention turning instantly to something else. Later on 
the boys dispatched him as he lay wounded upon the 

Their old clothing was now about worn out and it 
also became necessary to provide garments of another 
kind in order to guard against the great cold. Here 
their furs became invaluable ; they made moccasins, leg 
gings, caps, and coats alike of them, often crude in con 
struction, bat always warm. 

They found the beaver farther in the mountains, as 
Dick had surmised, and trapped them in great abun 
dance. This was by far their most valuable discovery, 
and they soon had a pack of sixty skins, which Dick said 
would be worth more than a thousand dollars in any 
good market. They also made destructive inroads upon 
the timber wolves, the hides of which were more valu 
able than those of any other wolf. In fact, they made 
such havoc that the shrewd timber wolf deserted the 
valley almost entirely. 

As the boys now made their fur hunting a business, 
they attended to every detail with the greatest care. 
They always removed the skin immediately after the 
death of the animal, or, if taken in a trap, as soon after 
as possible. Every particle of fat or flesh was removed 
from the inside of the skin, and they were careful at the 
same time never to cut into the skin itself, as they knew 
that the piercing of a fur with a knife would injure its 
value greatly. Then the skin was put to dry in a cold, 
airy place, free alike from the rays of the sun or the 
heat of a fire. They built near the cabin a high scaffold 
for such purposes, too high and strong for any wild 



beast to tear down or to reach the furs upon it. Then 
they built above this on additional poles a strongly 
thatched bark roof that would protect the skins from 
rain, and there they cured them in security. 

" I ve heard/ said Dick, " that some trappers put 
preparations or compounds on the skins in order to cure 
them, but since we don t have any preparations or com 
pounds we won t use them. Besides, our furs seem to 
cure up well enough without them." 

Dick was right. The cold, dry air of the mountains 
cured them admirably. Two or three times they thought 
to help along the process by rubbing salt upon the inner 
sides. They could always get plenty of salt by boiling 
out water from the salt springs, but as they seemed to 
do as well without it, they ceased to take the trouble. 

The boys were so absorbed now in their interesting 
and profitable tasks that they lost all count of the days. 
They knew they were far advanced into a splendid open 
winter, but it is probable that they could not have 
guessed within a week of the exact day. However, that 
was a question of which they thought little. Albert s 
health and strength continued to improve, and with the 
mental stimulus added to the physical, the tide of life 
was flowing very high for both. 

They now undertook a new work in order to facili 
tate their trapping operations. The beaver stream, and 
another that they found a little later, ran far back into 
the mountains, and the best trapping place was about 
ten miles away. After a day s work around the beaver 
pond, they had to choose between a long journey in the 
night to the cabin or sleeping in the open, the latter not 



a pleasant thing since the nights had become so cold. 
Hence, they began the erection of a bark shanty in a 
well-sheltered cove near the most important of the beaver 
localities. This was a work of much labor, but, as in all 
other cases, they persisted until the result was achieved 

They drove two stout, forked poles deep into the 
ground, leaving a projection of about eight feet above 
the earth. The poles themselves were about eight feet 
apart. From fork to fork they placed a strong ridge 
pole. Then they rested against the ridgepole from 
either side other and smaller poles at an angle of forty 
or fifty degrees. The sloping poles were about a foot 
and a half apart. These poles were like the scantling 
or inside framework of a wooden house and they covered 
it all with spruce and birch bark, beginning at the bot 
tom and allowing each piece to overlap the one beneath 
it, after the fashion of a shingled roof. They secured 
these pieces partly with wooden pegs and partly with 
other and heavier wooden poles leaned against them. 
One end of the shelter was closed up with bark wholly, 
secured with wooden pegs, and the other end was left 
open in order that its tenants might face the fire which 
would be built three or four feet in front of it. They 
packed the floor with dead leaves, and put on the top 
of the leaves a layer of thick bark with the smooth side 

The bark shanty was within a clump of trees, and its 
open side was not fifteen feet from the face of an abrupt 
cliff. Hence there was never any wind to drive the 
smoke from the fire back into their faces, and, wrapped 



in their furs, they slept as snugly in the shanty as if 
they had been in the cabin itself. But they were too 
wise to leave anything there in their absence, knowing 
that it was not sufficient protection against the larger 
wild animals. In fact, a big grizzly, one night when they 
were at the cabin, thrust his nose into the shanty and, 
lumbering about in an awkward and perhaps frightened 
manner, knocked off half of one of the bark sides. It 
took nearly a day s work to repair the damage, and it 
put Dick in an ill humor. 

" I d like to get a shot at that bear ! he exclaimed. 
" He had no business trying to come into a house when 
he was not invited." 

" But he is an older settler than we are/ said Al 
bert, in a whimsical tone. 

Dick did get a shot at a bear a few days later, and 
it was a grizzly, at that. The wound was not fatal, and 
the animal came on with great courage and ferocity. A 
second shot from Dick did not stop him and the boy 
was in great danger. But Albert, who was near, sent 
two heavy bullets, one after the other, into the beast, 
and he toppled over, dying. It was characteristic of the 
hardy life they were leading and its tendency toward 
the repression of words and emotion that Dick merely 
uttered a brief, " Thanks, Al, you were just in time," 
and Albert nodded in reply. 

The skin of old Ephraim went to join that of his 
brother who had been taken sometime before, and Dick 
himself shot a little later a third, which contributed a 
fine skin. 

The boys did not know how hard they were really 


working, but their appetites would have been a fine 
gauge. Toiling incessantly in a crisp, cold air, as pure 
as any that the world affords, they were nearly always 
hungry. Fortunately, the happy valley, their own skill 
and courage, and the supplies that Dick had brought 
from the last wagon train furnished them an unlimited 
larder. Game of great variety was their staple, but 
they had both flour and meal, from which, though they 
were sparing of their use, they made cakes now and then. 
They had several ways of preparing the Indian meal 
that Dick had taken from the wagon. They would boil 
it for about an hour, then, after it cooled, would mix it 
with the fat of game and fry it, after which the com 
pound was eaten in slices. They also made mealcakes, 
johnny cakes, and hoecakes. 

Albert was fond of fish, especially of the fine trout 
that they caught in the little river, and soon he invented 
or discovered a way of cooking them that provided an 
uncommon delicacy for their table. He would slit the 
trout open, clean it, and then season it with salt and also 
with pepper, which they had among their stores. Then 
he would lay the fish in the hot ashes of a fire that 
had burned down to embers, cover it up thoroughly with 
the hot ashes and embers, and let it cook thirty or 
forty minutes thirty minutes for the little fellows and 
forty minutes for the big ones. When he thought the 
fish was done to the proper turn, he would take it from 
the ashes, clean it, and then remove the skin, which 
flrould almost peel off of its own accord. 

The fish was then ready for the eating, and neither 
Oiek nor Albert could ever bear to wait. The flesh 



looked so tempting and the odor was so savory that 
hunger instantly became acute. 

" They are so good," said Albert, " because my 
method of cooking preserves all the juices and flavors of 
the fish. Nothing escapes. 

" Thanks, professor," said Dick. " You must be 
right, so kindly pass me another of those trout, and be 
quick about it." 

It is a truth that both boys became epicures. Their 
valley furnished so much, and they had a seasoning of 
hard work and open mountain air that was beyond com 
pare. They even imitated Indian and trapper ways of 
cooking geese, ducks, quail, sage hens, and other wild 
fowl that the region afforded. They could cook these in 
the ashes as they did the trout, and they also had other 
methods. Albert would take a duck, cut it open and 
clean it, but leave the feathers on. Then he would put 
it in water, until the feathers were soaked thoroughly, 
after which he would cover it up with ashes, and put 
hot coals on top of the ashes. "When the bird was prop 
erly cooked and drawn from the ashes, the skin could be 
pulled off easily, taking the feathers, of course, with it. 
Then a duck, sweet, tender, and delicate, such as no res 
taurant could furnish, was ready for the hardy young 
sters. At rare intervals they improved on this by stuff 
ing the duck with seasoning and Indian meal. Now and 
then they served a fat goose the same way and found it 
equally good. 

They cooked the smaller birds in a simpler manner, 
especially when they were at the bark shanty, which, 
they nicknamed the " Suburban Villa." The bird was 



plucked of its feathers, drawn and washed, and then 
they cut it down the back in order to spread it out. 
Nothing was left but to put the bird on the end of a 
sharp stick, hold it over the coals, and turn it around 
until it was thoroughly broiled or roasted. They also 
roasted slices of big game in the same way. 

As Albert was cooking a partridge in this manner 
one evening at the Suburban Villa, Dick, who was sit 
ting on his buffalo-robe blanket in the doorway, watched 
him and began to make comparisons. He recalled the 
boy who had left Omaha with the wagon train six or 
eight months before, a thin, spiritless fellow with a 
slender, weak neck, hollow, white cheeks, pale lips, and 
listless eyes. That boy drew coughs incessantly from a 
hollow chest, and the backs of his hands were ridged 
where the flesh had gone away, leaving the bones stand 
ing up. This boy whom Dick contemplated was quite 
a different being. His face was no longer white, it was 
instead a mixture of red and brown, and both tints were 
vivid. Across one cheek were some brier scratches 
which he had acquired the day before, but which he had 
never noticed. The red-brown cheeks were filled out with 
the effects of large quantities of good food digested well. 
As he bent over the fire, a chest of good width seemed 
to puff out with muscle and wind expansion. Despite 
the extreme cold, his sleeves were rolled up to the elbow, 
and the red wrists and hands were well covered with 
tough, seasoned flesh. The eyes that watched the roast 
ing bird were intent, alert, keenly interested in that par 
ticular task, and, in due course, in any other that might 
present itself. 



Dick drew a long breath of satisfaction. Providence 
had treated them well. Then he called loudly for his 
share of the bird, saying that he was starving, and in 
a few moments both fell to work. 

Their fur operations continued to extend. They had 
really found a pocket, an isolated corner in the high 
Rockies where the fur-bearing animals, not only abun 
dant, were also increasing. It was, too, the dead of win 
ter, the very best time for trapping, and so, as far as 
their own goings and comings were concerned, they were 
favored further by the lucky and unusual absence of 
snow. They increased the number of their traps dead 
falls, box traps, snares, and other kinds, and most of 
them were successful. 

They knew instinctively the quality of the furs that 
they obtained. They could tell at a glance whether they 
were prime, that is, thick and full, and as they cured 
them and baled them, they classified them. 

Constant application bred new ideas. In their pur 
suit of furs, they found that they were not quite so spar 
ing of the game as they had been at first. Some of their 
scruples melted away. Albert now recalled a device 
of trappers of which he had read. This was the use of 
the substance generally called barkstone, which they 
found to be of great help to them in the capture of 
that animal. 

The barkstone or castoreum, as it is commercially 
known, was obtained principally from the beaver him 
self. The basis of it was an acrid secretion with a 
musky odor of great power, found in two glands just 
under the root of the beaver s tail. Each gland was 



from one and one half to two inches in length. The 
boys cut out these glands and squeezed the contents into 
an empty tin can. This at first was of a yellowish-red 
color, but after a while, when it dried, it became a light 

This substance formed the main ingredient of bark- 
stone, and in their medicine chest they found a part of 
the remainder. The secretion was transferred to a bot 
tle and they mixed with it essence of peppermint and 
ground cinnamon. As Albert remembered it, ground 
nutmeg also was needed, but as they had no nutmeg they 
were compelled to take their chances without it. Then 
they poured whisky on the compound until it looked like 
a paste. 

Then the bottle was stopped up with the greatest 
care, and in about a week, when they stole a sniff or two 
at it, they found that the odor had increased ten or 
a dozen times in power. 

They put eight or ten drops of the barkstone upon 
the bait for the beaver, or somewhere near the trap, and, 
despite some defects in the composition, it proved an 
extraordinary success. The wariest beaver of all would 
be drawn by it, and their beaver bales grew faster than 
any other. 

Dick calculated one day that they had at least five 
thousand dollars worth of furs, which seemed a great 
sum to both boys. It certainly meant, at that time and 
in that region, a competence, and it could be increased 

11 Of course, " said Dick, " well have to think some 
day of the way in which we must get these furs out, and 



for that we will need horses or mules, but we won t 
bother our heads about it yet. 

After the long period of clear, open weather, the 
delayed snow came. It began to fall one evening at twi 
light, when both boys were snug in the cabin, and it came 
in a very gentle, soothing way, as if it meant no harm 
whatever. Big, soft flakes fell as softly as the touch of 
down, but every time the boys looked out they were 
still coming in the same gentle but persistent way. The 
next morning the big flakes still came down and all that 
day and all the next night. When the snow stopped it 
lay five feet deep on the level, and uncounted feet deep 
in the gullies and canyons. 

" We re snowed in," said Albert in some dismay, 
" and we can t go to our traps. Why, this is likely to 
last a month ! 

We can t walk through it, said Dick meditatively, 
" but we can walk on it. We ve got to make snowshoes. 
They re what we need." 

" Good! " said Albert with enthusiasm. " Let s get 
to work at once. 

Deep snows fall in Illinois, and both, in their earlier 
boyhood, had experimented for the sake of sport with a 
crude form of snowshoe. Now they were to build upon 
this slender knowledge, for the sake of an immediate 
necessity, and it was the hardest task that they had yet 
set for themselves. Nevertheless, it was achieved, like 
the others. 

They made a framework of elastic strips of ash bent 
in the well-known shape of the snowshoe, which bears 
Some resemblance to the shape of the ordinary shoe, only 



many times larger and sharply pointed at the rear end. 
Its length was between five and six feet, and the ends 
were tightly wound with strips of hide. This frame was 
bent into the shoe shape after it had been soaked in 
boiling water. 

Then they put two very strong strips of hide across 
the front part of the framework, and in addition passed 
at least a half dozen stout bands of hide from strip to 

Then came the hard task of attaching the shoe to 
the foot of the boy who was to wear it. The ball of the 
foot was set on the second crosspiece and the foot was 
then tied there with a broad strip of hide which passed 
over the instep and was secured behind the ankle. It 
required a good deal of practice to fasten the foot so it 
would not slip up and down, and also in such a manner 
that the weight of the shoe would be proportioned to it 

They had to exercise infinite patience before two 
pairs of snowshoes were finished. There was much hunt 
ing in deep snow for proper wood, many strips and 
some good hide were spoiled, but the shoes were made 
and then another task equally as great confronted the 
two boys to learn how to use them. 

Each boy put on his pair at the same time and went 
forth on the snow, which was now packed and hard. 
Albert promptly caught one of his shoes on the other, 
toppled over, and went down through the crust of the 
snow, head first. Dick, althovgh in an extremely awk 
ward situation himself, managed to pull his brother out 
and put him in the proper position, with his head point- 



ing toward the sky instead of the earth. Albert brushed 
the snow out of his eyes and ears, and laughed. 

" Good start, bad ending," he said. " This is cer 
tainly the biggest pair of shoes that I ever had on, Dick. 
They feel at least a mile long to me." 

" I know that mine are a mile long," said Dick, as 
he, too, brought the toe of one shoe down upon the heel 
of the other, staggered, fell over sideways, but managed 
to right himself in time. 

" It seems to me," said Albert, " that the proper 
thing to do is to step very high and very far, so you 
won t tangle up one shoe with the other." 

" That seems reasonable," said Dick, " and we ll 
try it." 

They practiced this step for an hour, making their 
ankles ache badly. After a good rest they tried it for 
another hour, and then they began to make progress. 
They found that they got along over the snow at a fair 
rate of speed, although it remained an awkward and 
tiring gait. Nevertheless, one could travel an indefi 
nite distance, when it was impossible to break one s way 
far through five or six feet of packed snow, and the 
shoes met a need. 

" They ll do," said Albert; " but it will never be 
like walking on the solid earth in common shoes." 

Albert was right. Their chief use for these objects, 
so laboriously constructed, was for the purpose of visit 
ing their traps, some of which were set at least a dozen 
miles away. They wished also to go back to the shanty 
and see that it was all right. They found a number of 
valuable furs in the traps, but the bark shanty had been 



almost crushed in by the weight of snow, and they spent 
sometime strengthening and repairing it. 

In the course of these excursions their skill with the 
snowshoes increased and they were also able to improve 
upon the construction, correcting little errors in meas 
urement and balance. The snow showed no signs of 
melting, but they made good progress, nevertheless, with 
their trapping, and all the furs taken were of the highest 

It would have been easy for them to kill enough game 
to feed a small army, as the valley now fairly swarmed 
with it, although nearly all of it was of large species, 
chiefly buffalo, elk, and bear. There was one immense 
herd of elk congregated in a great sheltered space at 
the northern end of the valley, where they fed chiefly 
upon twigs and lichens. 

Hanging always upon the flanks of this herd was a 
band of timber wolves of great size and ferocity, which 
never neglected an opportunity to pull down a cripple 
or a stray yearling. 

" I thought we had killed off all these timber 
wolves/ said Albert when he first caught sight of the 

" "We did kill off most of those that were here when 
we came," said Dick, " but others, I suppose, have fol 
lowed the game from the mountains into the valley. 

Albert went alone a few days later to one of their 
traps up the valley, walking at a good pace on his snow- 
shoes. A small colony of beavers had been discovered 
on a stream that came down between two high cliffs, and 
the trap contained a beaver of unusually fine fur. Al- 



bert removed the skin, put it on his shoulder, and, 
tightening his snowshoes, started back to Castle Howard. 

The snow had melted a little recently, and in many 
places among the trees it was not deep, but Albert and 
Dick had made it a point to wear their snowshoes when- 
2ver they could, for the sake of the skill resulting from 

Albert was in a very happy frame of mind. He 
felt always now a physical elation, which, of course, be 
came mental also. It is likely, too, that the rebound 
from long and despairing ill health still made itself 
felt. None so well as those who have been ill and are 
cured! He drew great draughts of the frosty air into 
his strong, sound lungs, and then emitted it slowly and 
with ease. It was a fine mechanism, complex, but work 
ing beautifully. Moreover, he had an uncommonly large 
and rich beaver fur over his shoulder. Such a skin as 
that would bring twenty-five dollars in any decent 

Albert kept to the deep snow on account of his shoes, 
and was making pretty good time, when he heard a long 
howl, varied by a kind of snappy, growling bark. 

" One of those timber wolves/ said Albert to him 
self, * and he has scented the blood of the beaver. 

He thought no more about the wolf until two or three 
minutes later when he heard another howl and then 
two or three more. Moreover, they were much nearer. 

" Now, I wonder what they re after? " thought 

But he went on, maintaining his good pace, and then 
he heard behind him a cry that was a long, ferocious 



whine rather than a howl. Albert looked back and saw 
under the trees, where the snow was lighter, a dozen 
leaping forms. He recognized at once the old pests, 
the timber wolves. 

" Now, I wonder what they re after? " he repeated, 
and then as the whole pack suddenly gave tongue in a 
fierce, murderous howl, he saw that it was himself. Al 
bert, armed though he was neither boy ever went forth 
without gun or revolver felt the blood grow cold in 
every vein. These were not the common wolves of the 
prairie, nor yet the ordinary wolf of the East and Mid 
dle West, but the great timber wolf of the Northwest, 
the largest and fiercest of the dog tribe. He had grown 
used to the presence of timber wolves hovering some 
where near, but now they presented themselves in a new 
aspect, bearing down straight upon him, and pushed by 
hunger. He understood why they were about to attack 
him. They had been able to secure but little of the large 
game in the valley, and they were drawn on by star 

He looked again and looked fearfully. They seemed 
to him monstrous in size for wolves, and their long, yel 
lowish-gray bodies were instinct with power. Teeth and 
eyes alike were gleaming. Albert scarcely knew what to 
do first. Should he run, taking to the deepest snow, 
where the wolves might sink to their bodies and thus 
fail to overtake him? But in his own haste he might 
trip himself with the long, ungainly snowshoes, and then 
everything would quickly be over. Yet it must be tried. 
He could see no other way. 

Albert, almost unconsciously prayed for coolness and 


judgment, and it was well for him that his life in recent 
months had taught him hardihood and resource. He 
turned at once into the open space, away from the trees, 
where the snow lay several feet deep, and he took long, 
flying leaps on his snowshoes. Behind him came the 
pack of great, fierce brutes, snapping and snarling, howl 
ing and whining, a horrible chorus that made shivers 
chase one another up and down the boy s spine. But 
as he had reckoned, the deep snow made them flounder, 
and checked their speed. 

Before him the open ground and the deep snow 
stretched straight away beside the lake until it reached 
the opening between the mountains in which stood Castle 
Howard. As Albert saw the good track lie before him, 
his hopes rose, but presently, when he looked back again, 
they fell with cruel speed. The wolves, despite the 
depth of the snow, had gained upon him. Sometimes, 
perhaps, it proved hard enough to sustain the weight of 
their bodies, and then they more than made up lost 

Albert noted a wolf which he took at once to be the 
leader, not only because he led all the others, but because 
also of his monstrous size. Even in that moment of 
danger he wondered that a wolf could grow so large, 
and that he should have such long teeth. But the boy, 
despite his great danger, retained his presence of mind. 
If the wolves were gaining, then he must inflict a check 
upon them. He whirled about, steadied himself a mo 
ment on his snowshoes, and fired directly at the huge 
leader. The wolf had swung aside when he saw the 
barrel of the rifle raised, but the bullet struck down 



another just behind him. Instantly, some of the rest fell 
upon the wounded brute and began to devour him, 
while the remainder, after a little hesitation, continued 
to pursue Albert. 

But the boy had gained, and he felt that the repeat 
ing rifle would be for a while like a circle of steel to him. 
He could hold them back for a time with bullet after 
bullet, although it would not suffice to stop the final rush 
when it came, if it came. 

Albert looked longingly ahead. He saw a feather 
of blue smoke against the dazzling white and silver of 
the sky, and he knew that it came from their cabin. If 
he were only there behind those stout log walls! A 
hundred wolves, bigger than the big leader, might tear 
at them in vain ! And perhaps Dick, too, would come ! 
He felt that the two together would have little to fear. 

The wolves set up their fierce, whining howl again, 
and once more it showed that they had gained upon the 
fleeing boy. He turned and fired once, twice, three 
times, four times, as fast as he could pull the trigger, 
directly into the mass of the pack. He could not tell 
what he had slain and what he had wounded, but there 
was a hideous snapping and snarling, and the sight of 
wolf teeth flashing into wolf flesh. 

Albert ran on and that feather of blue smoke was 
larger and nearer. But was it near enough f He could 
hear the wolves behind him again. All these diversions 
were only temporary. No matter how many of their 
number were slain or wounded, no matter how many 
paused to devour the dead and hurt, enough were always 
left to follow him. The pursuit, too, had brought reen- 



forcements from the lurking coverts of the woods and 

Albert saw that none of his bullets had struck the 
leader. The yellowish-gray monster still hung close 
upon him, and he was to Albert like a demon wolf, one 
that could not be slain. He would try again. He 
wheeled and fired. The leader, as before, swerved to 
one side and a less fortunate wolf behind him received 
the bullet. Albert fired two more bullets, and then he 
turned to continue his flight. But the long run, the 
excitement, and his weakened nerves caused the fatal 
misstep. The toe of one snowshoe caught on the heel 
of the other, and as a shout pierced the air, he went 

The huge gray leader leaped at the fallen boy, and 
as his body paused a fleeting moment in midair before 
it began the descent, a rifle cracked, a bullet struck him 
in the throat, cutting the jugular vein and coming out 
behind. His body fell lifeless on the snow, and he who 
had fired the shot came on swiftly, shouting and firing 

It was well that Dick, sometime after Albert s de 
parture, had concluded to go forth for a little hunt, and 
it was well also that in addition to his rifle he had taken 
the double-barreled shotgun thinking that he might find 
some winter wild fowl flying over the snow and ice-cov 
ered surface of the lake. His first shot slew the master 
wolf, his second struck down another, his third was as 
fortunate, his fourth likewise, and then, still running 
forward, he bethought himself of the shotgun that was 
strapped over his shoulder. He leveled it in an instant 



and fairly sprayed the pack of wolves with stinging 
shot. Before that it had been each bullet for a wolf and 
the rest untouched, but now there was a perfect shower 
of those hot little pellets. It was more than they could 
stand, big, fierce, and hungry timber wolves though they 
were. They turned and fled with beaten howls into the 

Albert was painfully righting himself, when Dick 
gave him his hand and sped the task. Albert had thought 
himself lost, and it was yet hard to realize that he had 
not disappeared down the throat of the master wolf. 
His nerves were overtaxed, and he was near collapse. 

" Thank you, Dick, old boy," he said. " If you 
hadn t come when you did, I shouldn t be here. 

No, you wouldn t, replied Dick grimly. Those 
wolves eat fast. But look, Al, what a monster this fel 
low is ! Did you ever see such a wolf ? 

The great leader lay on his side upon the snow, and 
a full seven feet he stretched from the tip of his nose 
to the root of his stumpy tail. No such wolf as he had 
ever been put inside a cage, and it was rare, indeed, to 
find one so large, even in the mountains south of the 
very Far North. 

" That s a skin that will be worth something," said 
Dick, and here are more, but before we begin the work 
of taking them off, you 11 hava to be braced up, Al. 
You need a stimulant." 

He hurried back to Castle Howard and brought one 
of the bottles of whisky, a little store that they had never 
touched except in the compounding of the barkstone for 
the capture of beaver. He gave Albert a good stiff 



drink of it, after which the boy felt better, well enough, 
in fact, to help Dick skin the monster wolf. 

" It gives me pleasure to do this/ said Albert, as 
he wielded the knife. " You thought, Mr. Wolf, that 
I was going to adorn your inside ; instead, your outside 
will be used as an adornment trodden on by the foot of 
my kind." 

They secured four other fine and unimpaired skins 
among the slain, and after dressing and curing, they 
\rer> sent to join the stores in the Annex. 



DICK did not believe that the timber wolves, aftef 
suffering so much in the pursuit of Albert, 
would venture again to attack either his brother 
or himself. He knew that the wolf was one of the 
shrewdest of all animals, and that, unless the circum 
stances were very unusual indeed, the sight of a gun 
would be sufficient to warn them off. Nevertheless, he 
decided to begin a campaign against them, though he had 
to wait a day or two until Albert s shaken nerves were 

They wished to save their ammunition as much as 
possible, and they built three large dead falls, in which 
they caught six or seven great wolves, despite their cun 
ning. In addition they hunted them with rifles with 
great patience and care, never risking a shot until they 
felt quite sure that it would find a vital spot. In this 
manner they slew about fifteen more, and by that time 
the wolves were thoroughly terrified. The scent of the 
beings carrying sticks which poured forth death and de 
struction at almost any distance, was sufficient to send the 
boldest band of timber wolves scurrying into the shad 
ows of the deepest forest in search of hiding and safety, 



The snow melted and poured in a thousand streams 
from the mountains. The river and all the creeks and 
brooks roared in torrents, the earth soaked in water, and 
the two boys spent much of the time indoors making new 
clothing, repairing traps and nets, and fashioning all 
kinds of little implements that were of use in their daily 
life. They could realize, only because they now had 
to make them, how numerous such implements were. 
Yet they made toasting sticks of hard wood, carved out 
wooden platters, constructed a rude but serviceable din 
ing table, added to their supply of traps of various 
kinds, and finally made two large baskets of split willow. 
This last task was not as difficult as some others, as both 
had seen and taken a part in basket making in Illinois. 
The cabin was now crowded to inconvenience. Over 
their beds, from side to side, and up under the sloping 
roof, they had fastened poles, and from all of these 
hung furs and skins, buffalo, deer, wolf, wild cat, 
beaver, wolverine, and others, and also stores of jerked 
game. The Annex was in the same crowded condition. 
The boys had carried the hollow somewhat higher up 
with their axes, but the extension gave them far less 
room than they needed. 

"It s just this, Dick," said Albert, " we re getting 
so rich that we don t know what to do with all our 
property. I used to think it a joke that the rich were 
unhappy, but now I see where their trouble comes in." 

" I know that the trappers cache their furs, that is, 
bury them or hide them until they can take them away," 
said Dick, " but we don t know how to bury furs so 
they ll keep all right. Still, we ve got to find a new 



place of some kind. Besides, it would be better to have 
them hidden where only you and I could find them, Al. 
Maybe we can find such a place, 

Albert agreed, and they began a search along the 
cliffs. Dick knew that extensive rocky formations must 
mean a cave or an opening of some kind, if they only 
looked long enough for it, and at last they found in the 
side of a slope a place that he thought could be made to 
suit. It was a rocky hollow running back about fifteen 
feet, and with a height and width of perhaps ten feet. 
It was approached by an opening about four feet in 
height and two feet in width. Dick wondered at first 
that it had not been used as a den by some wild animal, 
but surmised that the steepness of the ascent and the 
extreme roughness of the rocky floor had kept them out. 
But these very qualities recommended the hollow to 
the boys for the use that they intended it. Its position 
in the side of the cliff made it a hard place to find, and 
the solid rock of its floor, walls, and roof insured the 
dryness that was necessary for the storage of their furs. 
61 We ll call this the Cliff House/ said Albert, " and 
we ll take possession at once." 

They broke off the sharper of the stone projections 
with their ax heads, and then began the transfer of the 
furs. It was no light task to carry them up the steep 
slope to the Cliff House, but, forced to do all things for 
themselves, they had learned perseverance, and they car 
ried all their stock of beaver furs and all the buffalo 
robes and bearskins, except those in actual use, together 
with a goodly portion of the wolfskins, elk hides, and 



Dick made a rude but heavy door which fitted well 
enough into the opening to keep out any wild animal, 
no matter how small, and in front of it, in a little patch 
of soft soil, they set out two transplanted pine bushes 
which seemed to take root, and which Dick was sure 
would grow in the spring. 

When the boys looked up from the bottom of the 
slope, they saw no trace of the Cliff House, only an ex 
panse of rock, save a little patch of earth where two tiny 
pines were growing. 

Nobody but ourselves will ever find our furs ! ex 
claimed Dick exultingly. " The most cunning Indian 
Would not dream that anything was hidden up there 
behind those little pines, and the furs will keep as well 
inside as if they were in the best storehouse ever built." 

The discovery and use of the rock cache was a great 
relief to both. Their cabin had become so crowded with 
furs and stores, that the air was often thick and heavy,, 
and they did not have what Dick called elbow room. 
Now they used the cabin almost exclusively for living 
purposes. Most of the stores were in the Annex, while 
the dry and solid Cliff House held the furs. 

" Have you thought, Dick, what you and I are? " 
asked Albert. 

" I don t catch your meaning." 

" "We re aristocrats of the first water, Mr. Richard 
Howard and Mr. Albert Howard, the Mountain Kings. 
We can t get along with less than four residences. We 
live in Castle Howard, the main mansion, superior to 
anything of its kind in a vast region : then we have the 
Annex, a tower used chiefly as a supply room and treas- 



lire chest; then the Suburban Villa, a light, airy place 
of graceful architecture, very suitable as a summer resi 
dence, and now we have the Cliff House, in a lofty and 
commanding position noted for its wonderful view. We 
are really a fortunate pair, Dick." 

" Fve been thinking that for sometime," replied 
Dick rather gravely. 

Hitherto they had confined their operations chiefly 
to their own side of the lake, but as they ranged farther 
and farther in search of furs they began to prowl among 
the canyons and narrow valleys in the mountains on the 
other side. They made, rather far up the northern side, 
some valuable catches of beaver, but in order to return 
with them, they were compelled to come around either 
the northern or southern end of the lake, and the round 
trip was tremendously long and tiring. 

" It s part of a man s business to economize time 
and strength," said Dick, " and we must do it. You 
and I, Al, are going to make a canoe." 

"How? " 

" I don t know just yet, but I m studying it out. 
The idea will jump out of my head in two or three 

It was four days before it jumped, but when it did, 
it jumped to some purpose. 

" First, well make a dugout," he said. " We ve 
got the tools axes, knives, saws, and augers and we d 
better start with that. 

They cut down a big and perfectly straight pine and 
chose a length of about twelve feet from the largest part 
of the trunk. Both boys had seen dugouts, and they 



knew, in a general way, how to proceed. Their native 
intelligence supplied the rest. 

They cut off one side of the log until it was flat, thus 
making the bottom for the future canoe. They cut the 
opposite side away in the well-known curve that a boat 
makes, low in the middle and high at each end. This 
part of the work was done with great caution, but Dick 
had an artistic eye, and they made a fairly good curve. 
Next, they began the tedious and laborious work of dig 
ging out, using axes, hatchets, and chisel. 

This was a genuine test of Albert s new strength, 
but he stood it nobly. They chipped away for a long 
time, until the wood on the sides and bottom was thin 
but strong enough to stand any pressure. Then they 
made the proper angle and curve of bow and stern, cut 
and made two stout broad paddles, and their dugout 
was ready a long canoe with a fairly good width, as 
the original log had been more than two feet in diameter. 
It was both light and strong, and, raising it on their 
shoulders, they carried it down to the lake where they 
put it in the water. 

Albert, full of enthusiasm, sprang into the canoe and 
made a mighty sweep with his paddle. The light dugout 
shot away, tipped on one side, and as Albert made an 
other sweep with his paddle to right it, it turned over, 
bottom side up, casting the rash young paddler into 
ten feet of pure cold water. Albert came up with a 
mighty splash and sputter. He was a good swimmer, 
and he had also retained hold of the paddle uncon 
sciously, perhaps. Dick regarded him contemplatively 
from the land. He had no idea of jumping in. One wet 



and cold boy was enough. Besides, rashness deserved 
its punishment. 

" Get the canoe before it floats farther away/ he 
called out, and tow it to land. It has cost us too much 
work to be lost out on the lake." 

Albert swam to the canoe, which was now a dozen 
yards away, and quickly towed it and the paddle to 
land. There, shivering, the water running from him in 
streams, he stepped upon the solid earth. 

" Run to the cabin as fast as you can," said Dick. 
" Take off those wet things, rub yourself down before 
the fire; then put on dry clothes and come back here 
and help me." 

Albert needed no urging, but it seemed to him that 
he would freeze before he reached the cabin, short as the 
distance was. Fortunately, there was a good fire on the 
hearth, and, after he had rubbed down and put on his 
dry, warm suit of deerskin, he never felt finer in his 
life. He returned to the lake, but he felt sheepish on 
the way. That had been a rash movement of his, over- 
enthusiastic, but he had been properly punished. His 
chagrin was increased when he saw Dick a considerable 
distance out on the lake in the canoe, driving it about 
in graceful curves with long sweeps of his paddle. 

" This is the way it ought to be done," called out 
Dick cheerily. Behold me, Richard Howard, the king 
of canoe men! >f 

" You ve been practicing while I was gone! " ex 
claimed Albert. 

" No doubt of it, my young friend, and that is why 
you see me showing such skill, grace, and knowledge. I 



give you the same recipe without charge: Look before 
you leap, especially if you re going to leap into a canoe. 
Now we ll try it together. " 

He brought the canoe back to the land, Albert got 
in cautiously, and for the rest of the day they practiced 
paddling, both together and alone. Albert got another 
ducking, and Dick, in a moment of overconfidence, got 
one, too, somewhat to Albert s pleasure and relief, as 
it has been truly said that misery loves company, but 
in two or three days they learned to use the canoe with 
ease. Then, either together or alone, they would pad 
dle boldly the full length of the lake, and soon acquired 
dexterity enough to use it for freight, too ; that is, they 
would bring back in it across the lake anything that 
they had shot or trapped on the other side. 

So completely had they lost count of time that Dick 
had an idea spring was coming, but winter suddenly 
shut down upon them again. It did not arrive with 
wind and snow this time, but in the night a wave of 
cold came down from the north so intense that the shel 
tered valley even did not repel it. 

Dick and Albert did not appreciate how really cold 
it was until they went from the cabin into the clear 
morning air, when they were warned by the numbing 
sensation that assailed their ears and noses. They hur 
ried into the house and thawed out their faces, which 
stung greatly as they were exposed to the fire. Remem 
bering the experiences of their early boyhood, they ap 
plied cold water freely, which allayed the stinging. 
After that they were very careful to wrap up fingers^ 
ears, and noses when they went forth. 



Now, the channel that Albert had made from the 
water of the hot spring proved of great use. The water 
that came boiling from the earth cooled off rapidly, but 
it was not yet frozen when it reached the side of Castle 
Howard, and they could make use of it. 

The very first morning they found their new boat, of 
Which they were so proud, hard and fast with ten inches 
of solid ice all around it. Albert suggested leaving it 

* * We have no need of it so long as the lake is covered 
with ice/ he said, " and when the ice melts it will be 

But Dick looked a little farther. The ice might press 
in on it and crush it, and hence Albert and he cut it out 
with axes, after which they put it in the lee of the cabin. 
Meanwhile, when they wished to reach the traps on the 
farther side of the lake, they crossed it on the ice, and, 
presuming that the cold might last long, they easily 
made a rude sledge which they used in place of the 

" If we can t go through the water, we can at least 
go over it," said Albert. 

While the great cold lasted, a period of about two 
weeks, the boys went on no errands except to their traps. 
The cold was so intense that often they could hear the 
logs of Castle Howard contracting with a sound like 
pistol shots. Then they would build the fire high and 
sit comfortably before it. Fortunately, the valley af 
forded plenty of fuel. Both boys wished now that they 
had a few books, but books were out of the question, and 
they sought always to keep themselves busy with the 



tasks that their life in the valley entailed upon them. 
Both knew that this was best. 

The cold was so great that even the wild animals 
suffered from it. The timber wolves, despite their terri 
ble lessons, were driven by it down the valley, and at 
night a stray one now and then would howl mournfully 
near the cabin. 

11 He s a robber and would like to be a murderer," 
Albert would say, " but he probably smells this jerked 
buffalo meat that I m cooking and I m sorry for him." 

But the wolves were careful to keep out of rifle shot. 

Dick made one trip up the valley and found about 
fifty buffaloes sheltered in a deep ravine and clustering 
close together for warmth. They were quite thin, as the 
grass, although it had been protected by the snow, was 
very scanty at that period of the year. Dick could have 
obtained a number of good robes, but he spared them. 

" Maybe I won t be so soft-hearted when the spring 
comes and you are fatter, he said. 

The two, about this time, took stock of their ammuni 
tion, which was the most vital of all things to them. 
For sometime they had used both the shot and ball car 
tridges only in cases of necessity, and they were relying 
more and more on traps, continually devising new kinds, 
their skill and ingenuity increasing with practice. 

Dick had brought a great store of cartridges from the 
last train, especially from the unrifled wagon in the 
gully, and both boys were surprised to see how manj" 
they had left. They had enough to last a long time, ac 
cording to their present mode of life. 

" If you are willing, that settles it," said Dick- 


" If I am willing for what? " asked Albert. 

" Willing to stay over another year. You see, Al, 
we ve wandered into a happy hunting ground. There 
are more furs, by the hundreds, for the taking, and it 
seems that this is a lost valley. Nobody else comes here. 
Besides, you are doing wonderfully. All that old trouble 
is gone, and we want it to stay gone. If we stay here 
another year, and you continue to eat the way you do 
and grow the way you do, you 11 be able to take a buff aic 
by the horns and wring its neck. 

Albert grinned pleasantly at his brother. 

" You don t have to beg me to stay," he said. " I 
like this valley. It has given me life and what is to be 1 
our fortune, our furs. "Why not do ail we can while we 
can ? I m in favor of the extra year, Dick. 

" Then no more need be said about it. The Cliff 
House isn t half full of furs yet, but in another year we 
can fill it." 

The great cold began to break up, the ice on the lake 
grew thinner and thinner and then disappeared, much 
of the big game left the valley, the winds from the north 
ceased to blow, and in their stead came breezes from 
the south, tipped with warmth. Dick knew that spring 
was near. It was no guess, he could feel it in every bone 
of him, and he rejoiced. He had had enough of winter, 
and it gave him the keenest pleasure when he saw tiny 
blades of new grass peeping up in sheltered places here 
and there. 

Dick, although he was not conscious of it, had 
changed almost as much as Albert in the last eight or 
nine months. He had had no weak chest and throat to 



cure, but his vigorous young frame had responded nobly 
to the stimulus of self-reliant life. The physical expe 
rience, as well as the mental, of those eight or nine 
months, had been equal to five times their number spent 
under ordinary conditions, and he had grown greatly in 
every respect. Few men were as strong, as agile, and as 
alert as he. 

He and Albert, throughout that long winter, had 
been sufficient unto each other. They had a great sense 
of ownership, the valley and all its manifold treasures 
belonged to them a feeling that was true, as no one 
else came to claim it and they believed that in their 
furs they were acquiring an ample provision for a start 
in life. 

"When the first tender shades of green began to ap 
pear in the valley and on the slopes, Dick decided upon 
a journey. 

" Do you know, Al, how long we have been in this 
valley? " he asked. 

" Eight or ten months, I suppose," replied Albert. 

" It must be something like that, and we ve been 
entirely away from our race. If we had anybody to 
think about us although we haven t they d be sure 
that we are dead. We re just as ignorant of what is 
happening in the world, and I want to go on a skirmish 
ing trip over the mountains. You keep house while I m 

Albert offered mild objections, which he soon with 
drew, as at heart he thought his brother right, and the 
next day, early in the morning, Dick started on his jour- 
Bey. He carried jerked buffalo meat in a deerskin pouch 



that he had made for himself, his customary repeating 
rifle, revolver, and a serviceable hatchet. 

" Look after things closely, Al," said Dick, " and 
don t bother about setting the traps. Furs are not good 
in the spring. " 

" All right/ responded Albert. " How long do you 
think you 11 be gone ? 

" Can t say, precisely. Three or four days, I pre 
sume, but don t you worry unless it s a full week." 

It was characteristic of the strength and self-re 
straint acquired by the two that they parted with these 
words and a hand clasp only, yet both had deep feeling. 
Dick looked back from the mouth of the cleft toward 
Castle Howard and saw a boy in front of it waving a cap. 
He waved his own in reply and then went forward more 
swiftly down the valley. 

It did not take him long to reach the first slope, and, 
when he had ascended a little, he paused for rest and 
inspection. Soring had really made considerable prog 
ress. All the trees except the evergreens had put forth 
young leaves and, as he looked toward the north, the 
mountains unrolled like a vast green blanket that swept 
away in ascending folds until it ended, and then the 
peaks and ridges, white with snow, began. 

Dick climbed farther, and their valley was wholly 
lost to sight. It was not so wonderful after all that no 
body came to it. Trappers who knew of it long ago 
never returned, believing that the beaver were all gone 
forever, and it was too near to the warlike Sioux of the 
plains for mountain Indians to make a home there. 

Dick did not stop long for the look backward he 


was too intent upon his mission but resumed the ascent 
with light foot and light heart. He remembered very 
well the way in which he and Albert had come, and he 
followed it on the return. At night, with his buffalo robe 
about him, he slept in the pine alcove that had been the 
temporary home of Albert and himself. He could see no 
change in it in all the months, except traces to show 
that some wild animal had slept there. 

* Maybe you 11 come to-night, Mr. Bear or Mr. Moun 
tain Lion, to sleep in your little bed," said Dick as he 
lay down in his buffalo robe, " but you 11 find me here 
before you. 

He was wise enough to know that neither bear nor 
mountain lion would ever molest him, and he slept 
soundly. He descended the last slopes and came in 
sight of the plains on the afternoon of the next day. 
Everything seemed familiar. The events of that fatal 
time had made too deep an impression upon him and 
Albert ever to be forgotten. He knew the very rocks 
and trees and so went straight to the valley in which he 
had found the wagon filled with supplies. It lay there 
yet, crumpled somewhat by time and the weight of snow 
that had fallen upon it during the winter, but a strong 
man with good tools might put it in shape for future 

" Now, if Al and I only had horses, we might get it 
out and take away our furs in it," said Dick, " but I 
suppose I might as well wish for a railroad as for 

He descended into the gully and found the tracks of 
wolves and other wild beasts about the wagon. In their 



hunger, they had chewed up every fragment of leather 
or cloth, and had clawed and scratched among the lock 
ers. Dick had searched these pretty well before, but 
now he looked for gleanings. He found little of value 
until he discovered, jammed down in a corner, an old 
history and geography of the United States combined 
in one volume with many maps and illustrations. It 
was a big octavo book, and Dick seized it with the same 
delight with which a miner snatches up his nugget of 
gold. He opened it, took a rapid look through flying 
pages, murmured, " Just the thing/ 7 closed it again, 
and buttoned it securely inside his deerskin coat. He 
had not expected anything ; nevertheless, he had gleaned 
to some purpose. 

Dick left the wagon and went into the pass where 
the massacre had occurred. Time had not dimmed the 
horror of the place for him and he shuddered as he 
approached the scene of ambush, but he forced himself 
to go on. 

The wagons were scattered about, but little changed, 
although, as in the case of the one in the gully, all the 
remaining cloth and leather had been chewed by wild 
animals. Here and there were the skeletons of the 
fallen, and Dick knew that the wild beasts had not been 
content with leather and cloth alone. He went through 
the wagons one by one, but found nothing of value left 
except a paper of needles, some spools of thread, and 
a large pair of scissors, all of which he put in the pack 
age with the history. 

It was nightfall when he finished the task, and retir 
ing to the slope, he made his bed among some pines. He 



heard wolves howling twice in the night, but he merely 
settled himself more easily in his warm buffalo rob 
and went to sleep again. Replenishing his canteen with 
water the next morning, he started out upon the plains, 
intending to make some explorations. 

Dick had thought at first that they were in the Black 
Hills, but he concluded later that they were much far 
ther west. The mountains about them were altogether 
too high for the Black Hills, and he wished to gain some 
idea of their position upon the map. The thought re 
minded him that he had a book with maps in his pocket, 
and he took out the precious volume. 

He found a map of the Rocky Mountain territory, 
but most of the space upon it was vague, often blank, 
and he could not exactly locate himself and Albert, al 
though he knew that they were very far west of any 
settled county. 

" I can learn from that book all about the world 
except ourselves," he said, as he put it back in his 
pocket. But he was not sulky over it. His was a bold 
and adventurous spirit and he was not afraid, nor was 
his present trip merely to satisfy curiosity. He and 
Albert must leave the valley some day, and it was well 
to know the best way in which it could be done. 

He started across the plain in a general southwesterly 
direction, intending to travel for about a day perhaps, 
camp for the night, and return on the following day to 
his mountains. He walked along \vith a bold, swinging 
step and did not look back for an hour, but when he 
turned at last he felt as if he had ventured upon the 
open ocean in a treacherous canoe. There were the 



mountains, high, sheltered, and friendly, while off to the 
south and west the plains rolled away in swell after 
swell as long and desolate as an untraveled sea, and as 

Dick saw toward noon some antelope grazing on the 
horizon, but he was not a hunter now, and he did not 
trouble himself to seek a shot. An hour or two later 
he saw a considerable herd of buffaloes scattered about 
over the plain, nibbling the short bunch grass that had 
lived under the snow. They were rather an inspiring 
sight, and Dick felt as if, in a sense, they were furnishing 
him company. They drove away the desolation and lone 
liness of the plains, and his inclinations toward thrsm 
were those of genuine friendliness. They were in danger 
of no bullet from him. 

While he was looking at them, he saw new figures 
coming over the distant swell. At first he thought they 
were antelope, but when they reached the crest of the 
swell and their figures were thrown into relief against 
the brilliant sky, he saw that they were horsemen. 

They came on with such regularity and precision, 
that, for a moment or two, Dick believed them to be a 
troop of cavalry, but he learned better when they scat 
tered with a shout and began to chase the buffaloes. 
Then he knew that they were a band of Sioux Indians, 

The full extent of his danger dawned upon him 
instantly. He was alone and on foot. The hunt might 
bring them down upon him in five minutes. He was 
about to run, but his figure would certainly be exposed 
upon the crest of one of the swells, as theirs had been,, 



and he dropped instead into one of & number of little 
gullies that intersected the plain. 

It was an abrupt little gully, and Dick was well hid 
den from any eyes not within ten yards of him. He lay 
at first so he could not see, but soon he began to hear 
shots and the trampling of mighty hoofs. He knew 
now that the Sioux were in among the buffaloes, dealing 
out death, and he began to have a fear of being trodden 
upon either by horsemen or huge hoofs. He could not 
bear to lie there and be warned only by sound, so lie 
turned a little farther on one side and peeped over the 
edge of the gully. 

The hunters and the hunted were not as near as he 
thought ; he had been deceived by sound, the earth beiao^ 
such a good conductor. Yet they were near enough for 
him to see that he was in great danger and should re 
main well hidden. He could observe, however, that the 
hunt was attended with great success. Over a dozen 
buffaloes had fallen and the others were running aboU 
singly or in little groups, closely pursued by the exultant 
Sioux. Some were on one side of him and some on tba 
other. There was no chance for him, no matter n?w 
careful he might be, to rise from the gully and sneaK 
away over the plain. Instead, he crouched more closes v 
and contracted himself into the narrowest possible space. 
while the hunt wheeled and thundered about him. 

It is not to be denied that Dick felt many tremors, 
He had seen what the Sioux could do. He knew that 
they were the most merciless of all the northwestern 
Indians, and he expected only torture and death if "he 
fell into their hands, and there was his brother alone 



now in the valley. Once the hunt swung away to the 
westward and the sounds of it grew faint. Dick hoped 
it would continue in that direction, but by and by it 
came back again and he crouched down anew in his nar 
row quarters. He felt that every bone in him was stif 
fening with cramp and needlelike pains shot through 
his nerves. Yet he dared not move. And upon top of 
his painful position came the knowledge that the Sioux 
would stay there to cut up the slain buffaloes. He was 
tempted more than once to jump up, run for it and take 
his chances. 

He noticed presently a gray quality in the air, and 
as he glanced off toward the west, he saw that the red 
sun was burning very low. Dick s heart sprang up in 
gladness; it was the twilight, and the blessed darkness 
would bring the chance of escape. Seldom has anyone 
watched the coming of night with keener pleasure. The 
sun dropped down behind the swells, the gray twilight 
passed over all the sky, and after it came the night, on 
black wings. 

Fires sprang up on the plain, fires of buffalo chips 
lighted by the Sioux, who were now busy skinning and 
cutting up the slain buffaloes. Dick saw the fires all 
about him, but none was nearer than a hundred yards, 
and, despite them, he decided that now was his best time 
to attempt escape before the moon should come out and 
lighten up the night. 

He pulled himself painfully from the kind gully. 
He had lain there hours, and he tested every joint as he 
crept a few feet on the plain. They creaked for a while, 
but presently the circulation was restored, and, rising 



to a stooping position, with his rifle ready, he slipped off 
toward the westward. 

Dick knew that great caution was necessary, but he 
had confidence in the veiling darkness. Off to the east 
ward he could see one fire, around which a half dozen 
warriors were gathered, busy with a slain buffalo, work 
ing and feasting. He fancied that he could trace their 
savage features against the red firelight, but he himself 
was in the darkness. 

Another fire rose up, and this was straight before 
him. Like the others, warriors were around it, and Dick 
turned off abruptly to the south. There he heard ponies 
stamping and he shifted his course again. "When he 
had gone about a dozen yards he lay down flat upon the 
plain and listened. He was hardy and bold, but, for a 
little while, he was almost in despair. It seemed to him 
that he was ringed around by a circle of savage warriors 
and that he could not break through it. 

His courage returned, and, rising to his knees, he re 
sumed his slow progress. His course was now south 
westerly, and soon he heard again the stamping of hoofs. 
It was then that a daring idea came into Dick s head. 

That stamping of hoofs was obviously made by the 
ponies of the Sioux. Either the ponies were tethered to 
short sticks, or they had only a small guard, perhaps 
a single man. Busy as they were with the buffaloes, and 
unsuspecting of a strange presence, they would not de 
tail more than one man to watch their horses. It was 
wisdom for him to slip away one of the horses, mount 
it when at a safe distance, and then gallop toward the 



Dick sank down a little lower and crept very slowly 
toward the point from which the stamping of hoofs pro 
ceeded. When he had gone about a dozen yards he 
heard another stamping of hoofs to his right and then 
a faint whinny. This encouraged him. It showed him 
that the ponies were tethered in groups, and the group 
toward which he was going might be without a guard. 
He continued his progress another dozen yards, and 
then lay flat upon the plain. He had seen two vague 
forms in the darkness, and he wished to make himself 
a blur with the earth. They were warriors passing from 
one camp fire to another, and Dick saw them plainly, tall 
men with blankets folded about them like togas, long 
hair in which eagle feathers were braided after the Sioux 
style, and strong aquiline features. They looked like 
chiefs, men of courage, dignity, and mind, and Dick 
contrasted them with the ruffians of the wagon train. 
The contrast was not favorable to the white faces that 
he remembered so well. 

But the boy saw nothing of mercy or pity in these 
red countenances. Bold and able they might be, but it 
Was no part of theirs to spare their enemies. He fairly 
crowded himself against the earth, but they went on, 
absorbed in their own talk, and he was not seen. He 
raised up again and began to crawl. The group of 
ponies came into view, and he saw with delight that 
they had no watchman. A half dozen in number and 
well hobbled, they cropped the buffalo grass. They 
were bare of back, but they wore their Indian bridles, 
Which hung from their heads. 

Dick knew a good deal about horses, and he was 


aware that the approach would be critical. The Indian 
ponies might take alarm or they might not, but the ven 
ture must be made. He did not believe that he could get 
beyond the ring of Sioux fires without being discovered, 
and only a dash was left. 

Dick marked the pony nearest to him. It seemed a 
strong animal, somewhat larger than the others, and, 
pulling up a handful of the bunch grass, he approached 
it, whistling very softly. He held the grass in his left 
hand and his hunting knife in the right, his rifle being 
fastened to his back. The pony raised his head, looked 
at him in a friendly manner, then seemed to change his 
mind and backed away. But Dick came on, still holding 
out the grass and emitting that soft, almost inaudible 
whistle. The pony stopped and wavered between belief 
and suspicion. Dick was not more than a dozen feet 
away now, and he began to calculate when he might 
make a leap and seize the bridle. 

The boy and the pony were intently watching the 
eyes of each other. Dick, in that extreme moment, was 
gifted with preternatural acuteness of mind and vision, 
and he saw that the pony still wavered. He took another 
step forward, and the eyes of the pony inclined dis 
tinctly from belief to suspicion ; another short and cau 
tious step, and they were all suspicion. But it was too 
late for the pony. The agile youth sprang, and, drop 
ping the grass, seized him with his left hand by the 
bridle. A sweep or two of the hunting knife and the 
hobbles were cut through. 

The pony reared and gave forth an alarmed neigh, 
but Dick, quickly replacing the knife in his belt, now 



held the bridle with both hands, and those two hands 
were very strong. He pulled the pony back to its four 
feet and sprang, with one bound, upon his back. Then 
kicking him vigorously in the side, he dashed away, with 
rifle shots spattering behind him. 



DICK knew enough to bend low down on the neck 
of the flying mustang, and he was untouched, 
although he heard the bullets whistling about 
him. The neigh of the pony had betrayed him, but he 
was aided by his quickness and the friendly darkness, 
and he felt a surge of exultation that he could not con 
trol, boy that he was. The Sioux, jumping upon their 
ponies, sent forth a savage war whoop that the desolate 
prairie returned in moaning echoes, and Dick could not 
refrain from a reply. He uttered one shout, swung his 
rifle defiantly over his head, then bending down again, 
urged his pony to increased speed. 

Dick heard the hoofs of his pursuers thundering be 
hind him, and more rifle shots came, but they ceased 
quickly. He knew that the Sioux would not fire again 
joon, because of the distance and the uncertain darkness. 
It was his object to increase that distance, trusting that 
the darkness would continue free from moonlight. He 
took one swift look backward and saw the Sioux, a dozen 
or more, following steadily after. He knew that they 
would hang on as long as any chance of capturing him 
remained, and he resolved to make use of the next sweli. 



that he crossed. He would swerve when he passed the 
crest, and while it was yet between him and his pur 
suers, perhaps he could find some friendly covert, that 
would hide him. Meanwhile he clung tightly to his 
rifle, something that one always needed in this wild and 
dangerous region. 

He crossed a swell, but there was no friendly in 
crease of the darkness and he was afraid to swerve, 
knowing that the Sioux would thereby gain upon him, 
since he would make himself the curve of the bow, while 
they remained the string. 

In fact, the hasty glance back showed that the Sioux 
had gained, and Dick felt tremors. He was tempted for 
a moment to fire upon his pursuers, but it would cer 
tainly cause a loss of speed, and he did not believe that 
he could hit anything under such circumstances. No, 
he would save his bullets for a last stand, if they ran 
him to earth. 

The Sioux raised their war whoop again and fired 
three or four shots. Dick felt a slight jarring movement 
run through his pony, and then the animal swerved. He 
was afraid that he had trodden in a prairie-dog hole 
or perhaps a little gully, but in an instant or two he was 
running steadily again, and Dick forgot the incident in 
the excitement of the flight. 

He was in constant fear lest the coming out of the 
moon should lighten up the prairie and make him a good 
target for the Sioux bullets, but he noted instead, and 
with great joy, that it was growing darker. Heavy 
clouds drifted across the sky, and a cold wind arose and 
began to whistle out of the northwest. It was a friendly 



black robe that was settling down over the earth. It had 
never before seemed to him that thick night could be so 

Dick s pony rose again on a swell higher than the 
others, and was poised there for the fraction of a second 
a dark silhouette against the darker sky. Several of the 
Sioux fired. Dick felt once more that momentary jar of 
his horse s mechanism, but it disappeared quickly and 
his hopes rose, because he saw that the darkness lay 
thickly between this swell and the next, and he believed 
that he now could lose his pursuers. 

He urged his horse vigorously. He had made no 
mistake when he chose this pony as strong and true. The 
response was instant and emphatic. He flew down the 
slope, but instead of ascending the next swell he turned 
at an angle and went down the depression that lay be 
tween them. There the darkness was thickest, and the 
burst of speed by the pony was so great that the shapes 
of his pursuers became vague and then were lost. Never 
theless, he heard the thudding of their hoofs and knew 
that they could also hear the beat of his. That would 
guide them for a while yet. He thought he might turn 
again and cross the next swell, thus throwing them en 
tirely off his track, but he was afraid that he would be 
cast into relief again when he reached the crest, and 
so continued down the depression. 

He heard shouts behind him, and it seemed to him 
that they were not now the shouts of triumph, but the 
shouts of chagrin. Clearly, he was gaining, because af 
ter the cries ceased, the sound of hoof beats came but 
faintly. He urged his horse to the last ounce of his 



wpeed, and soon the sound of the pursuing hoofs ceased 

The depression ended and he was on the flat plain. 
It was still cloudy, with no moon, but his eyes were used 
enough to the dark to tell him that the appearance of 
the country had changed. It now lay before him almost 
as smooth as the surface of a table, and, never relaxing 
the swift gallop, he turned at another angle. 

He was confident now that the Sioux could not over 
take or find him. A lone object in the vast darkness, 
there was not a chance in a hundred for them to blunder 
upon him. But the farther away the better, and he went 
on for an hour. He would not have stopped then, but 
the good pony suddenly began to quiver, and then 
halted so abruptly that Dick, rifle and all, shot over his 
shoulder. He felt a stunning blow, a beautiful set of 
stars flashed before his eyes, and he was gone, for the 
time, to another land. 

"When Dick awoke he felt very cold and his head 
ached. He was lying flat upon his back, and, with in 
voluntary motion, he put his hand to his head. He felt 
a bump there and the hand came back damp and stained. 
He could see that the fingers were red there was light 
enough for that ominous sight, although the night had 
not yet passed. 

Then the flight, the danger, and his fall all came back 
in a rush to Dick. He leaped to his feet, and the act 
gave him pain, but not enough to show that any bone 
was broken. His rifle, the plainsman s staff and de 
fense, lay at his feet. He quickly picked it up and 
found that it, too, was unbroken. In fact, it was not 



bent in the slightest, and here his luck had stood him 
well. But ten feet away lay a horse, the pony that had 
been a good friend to him in need. 

Dick walked over to the pony. It was dead and cold. 
It must have been dead two or three hours at least, and 
he had lain that long unconscious. There was a bullet 
hole in its side and Dick understood now the cause of 
those two shivers, like the momentary stopping of a 
clock s mechanism. The gallant horse had galloped on 
until he was stopped only by death. Dick felt sadness 
and pity. 

I hope you ve gone to the horse heaven, " he mur 

Then he turned to thoughts of his own position. 
Alone and afoot upon the prairie, with hostile and 
mounted Sioux somewhere about, he was still in bad 
case. He longed now for his mountains, the lost valley, 
the warm cabin, and his brother. 

It was quite dark and a wind, sharp with cold, was 
blowing. It came over vast wastes, and as it swept across 
the swells kept up a bitter moaning sound. Dick shiv 
ered and fastened his deerskin tunic a little tighter. He 
looked up at the sky. Not a star was there, and sullen 
black clouds rolled very near to the earth. The cold had 
a raw damp in it, and Dick feared those clouds. 

Had it been day he could have seen his mountains 
and he would have made for them at once, but now his 
eyes did not reach a hundred yards, and that bitter, 
moaning wind told him nothing save that he must fight 
hard against many things if he would keep the life that 
was in him. He had lost all idea of direction. North 



and south, east and west were the same to him, but one 
must go even if one went wrong. 

He tried all his limbs again and found that they 
were sound. The wound on his head had ceased to bleed 
and the ache was easier. He put his rifle on his shoul 
der, waved, almost unconsciously, a farewell to the horse, 
as one leaves the grave of a friend, and walked swiftly 
away, in what course he knew not. 

He felt much better with motion. The blood began 
to circulate more warmly, and hope sprang up. If only 
that bitter, moaning wind would cease. It was inexpress 
ibly weird and dismal. It seemed to Dick a song of 
desolation, it seemed to tell him at times that it was not 
worth while to try, that, struggle as he would, his doom 
was only waiting. 

Dick looked up. The black clouds had sunk lower 
and they must open before long. If only day were near 
at hand, then he might choose the right course. Hark! 
Did he not hear hoof beats? He paused in doubt, and 
then lay down with his ear to the earth. Then he dis 
tinctly heard the sound, the regular tread of a horse, 
urged forward in a straight course, and he knew that 
it could be made only by the Sioux. But the sound indi 
cated only one horse, or not more than two or three at 
the most. 

Dick s courage sprang up. Here was a real danger 
and not the mysterious chill that the moaning of the 
wind brought to him. If the Sioux had found him, they 
had divided, and it was only a few of their number that 
lie would have to face. He hugged his repeating rifle. 
It was a fine weapon, and just then he was in love with 



it. There was no ferocity in Dick s nature, but the 
Sioux were seeking the life that he wished to keep. 

He rose from the earth and walked slowly on in his 
original course. He had no doubt that the Sioux, guided 
by some demon instinct, would overtake him. He looked 
around for a good place of defense, but saw none. Just 
the same low swells, just the same bare earth, and not 
even a gully like that in which he had lain while the 
hunt of the buffalo wheeled about him. 

He heard the hoof beats distinctly now, and he be 
came quite sure that they were made by only a single 
horseman. His own senses had become preternaturally 
acute, and, with the conviction that he was followed by 
but one, came a rush of shame. Why should he, strong 
and armed, seek to evade a lone pursuer? He stopped, 
holding his rifle ready, and waited, a vague, shadowy 
figure, black on the black prairie. 

Dick saw the phantom horseman rise on a swell, the 
faint figure of an Indian and his pony, and there was no 
other. He was glad now that he had waited. The horse, 
trained for such work as this, gave the Sioux warrior a 
great advantage, but he would fight it out with him. 

Dick sank down on one knee in order to offer a 
smaller target, and thrust his rifle forward for an in- 
stant shot. But the Sioux had stopped and was looking 
intently at the boy. For fully two minutes neither he 
nor his horse moved, and Dick almost began to believe 
that he was the victim of an illusion, the creation of the 
desolate plains, the night, the floating black vapors, his 
tense nerves, and heated imagination. He was tempted 
to try a shot to see if it were real, but the distance and 



the darkness were too great. He strengthened his will 
and remained crouched and still, his finger ready for 
the trigger of his rifle. 

The Sioux and his horse moved at last, but they did 
not come forward; they rode slowly toward the right, 
curving in a circle about the kneeling boy, but coming 
no nearer. They were still vague and indistinct, but 
they seemed blended into one, and the supernatural as 
pect of the misty form of horse and rider was increased. 
The horse trod lightly now, and Dick no longer heard 
the sound of footsteps, only the bitter moaning of the 
wind over the vast dark spaces. 

The rider rode silently on in his circle about the boy, 
and Dick turned slowly with him, always facing the eyes 
that faced him. He could dimly make out the shape of 
a rifle at the saddlebow, but the Sioux did not raise it, 
he merely rode on in that ceaseless treadmill tramp, and 
Dick wondered what he meant to do. Was he waiting 
for the others to come up ? 

Time passed and there was no sign of a second horse 
man. The single warrior still rode around him, and 
Dick still turned with him. He might be coming nearer 
in his ceaseless curves, but Dick could not tell. Although 
he was the hub of the circle, he began to have a dizzy 
sensation, as if the world were swimming about him. 
He became benumbed, as if his head were that of a 
whirling dervish. 

Dick became quite sure now that the warrior and his 
horse were unreal, a creation of the vapors and the mists, 
and that he himself was dreaming. He saw, too, at last 
that they were coming nearer, and he felt horror, as if 



something demoniac were about to seize him and drag 
him down. He had crouched so long that he felt pain in 
his knees, and all things were becoming a blur before 
his eyes. Yet there had not been a sound but that of 
the bitter, moaning wind. 

There was a flash, a shot, the sigh of a bullet rush 
ing past, and Dick came out of his dream. The Sioux 
had raised the rifle from his saddlebow and fired. But 
he had been too soon. The shifting and deceptive qual 
ity of the darkness caused him to miss. Dick promptly 
raised his own rifle and fired in return. He also missed, 
but a second bullet from the warrior cut a lock from his 

Dick was now alert in every nerve. He had not 
wanted the life of this savage, but the savage wanted 
his; it seemed also that everything was in favor of the 
savage getting it, but his own spirit rose to meet the 
emergency; he, too, became the hunter. 

He sank a little lower and saved his fire until the 
warrior galloped nearer. Then he sent a bullet so close 
that he saw one of the long eagle feathers drop from 
the hair of the warrior. The sight gave him a savage 
exultation that he would have believed a few hours be 
fore impossible to him. The next bullet might not 
merely clip a feather ! 

The Sioux, contrary to the custom of the Indian, did 
not utter a sound, nor did Dick say a word. The combat, 
save for the reports of the rifle shots, went on in absolute 
silence. It had lasted a full ten minutes, when the In 
dian urged his horse to a gallop, threw himself behind 
the body and began firing under the neck. A bullet 



struck Dick in the left arm and wounded him slightly; 
but it did not take any of his strength and spirit. 

Dick sought in vain for a sight of the face of his 
fleeting foe. He could catch only a glimpse of long, 
trailing hair beneath the horse s mane, and then would 
come the flash of a rifle shot. Another bullet clipped his 
side, but only cut the skin. Nevertheless, it stung, and 
while it stung the body it stung Dick s wits also into 
keener action. He knew that the Sioux warrior was 
steadily coming closer and closer in his deadly circle, 
and in time one of his bullets must strike a vital spot, 
despite the clouds and darkness. 

Dick steadied himself, calming every nerve and mus 
cle. Then he lay down on his stomach on the plain, 
resting slightly on his elbow, and took careful aim at the 
flying pony. He felt some regret as he looked down the 
sights. This horse might be as faithful and true as 
the one that had carried him to temporary safety, but 
he must do the deed. He marked the brown patch of 
hair that lay over the heart and pulled the trigger. 

Dick s aim was true the vapors and clouds had not 
disturbed it and when the rifle flashed, the pony 
bounded into the air and fell dead. But the agile Sioux 
leaped clear and darted away. Dick marked his brown 
body, and then was his opportunity to send a mortal bul 
let, but a feeling of which he was almost ashamed held 
his hand. His foe was running, and he was no longer 
hunted. The feeling lasted but a moment, and when it 
passed, the Sioux was out of range. A moment later and 
his misty form had become a part of the solid darkness. 

Dick stood upright once more. He had been the vie- 


tor in a combat that still had for him all the elements 
of the ghostly. He had triumphed, but just in time. 
His nerves were relaxed and unstrung, and his hands 
were damp. He carefully reloaded all the empty cham 
bers of his repeating rifle, and without looking at the 
falling horse, which he felt had suffered for the wick 
edness of another, strode away again over the plain, 
abandoning the rifle of the fallen Sioux as a useless 

It took Dick sometime after his fight with the phan 
tom horseman to come back to real earth. Then he no 
ticed that both the clouds and the dampness had in 
creased, and presently something cold and wet settled 
upon his face. It was a flake of snow, and a troop came 
at its heels, gentle but insistent, creeping down the collar 
of his buckskin coat, chilling his hands and gradually 
whitening the earth, until it was a gleaming floor under 
a pall of darkness. 

Dick was in dismay. Here was a foe that he could 
not fight with rifle balls. He knew that the heavy clouds 
would continue to pour forth snow, and that the day, 
which he thought was not far away, would disclose as 
little as the night. The white pall would hide the moun 
tains as well as the black pall had done, and he might 
be going farther and farther from his valley. 

He felt that he had been released from one danger 
and then another, only to encounter a third. It seemed 
to him, in his minute of despair, that Fate had resolved 
to defeat all his efforts, but, the minute over, he renewed 
his courage and trudged bravely on, he knew not 
whither. It was fortunate for him that he wore a pair 



of the heavy shoes saved from the wagon, and put on 
for just such a journey as this. The wet from the snow 
would have soon soaked through his moccasins, but, as 
his thick deerskin leggings fitted well over his shoes, he 
kept dry, and that was a comfort. 

The snow came down without wind and fuss, but 
more heavily than ever, persistent, unceasing, and sure 
of victory. It was not particularly cold, and the walking 
kept up a warm and pleasant circulation in Dick s veins. 
But he knew that he must not stop. Whether he was 
going on in a straight line he had no way to determine. 
He had often heard that men, lost on the plains, soon 
begin to travel in a circle, and he watched awhile for 
his own tracks ; but if they were there, they were covered 
up by the snow too soon for him to see, and, after all, 
what did it matter ? 

He saw after a while a pallid yellowish light showing 
dimly through the snow, and he knew that it was the 
sunrise. But it illuminated nothing. The white gloom 
began to replace the black one. It was soon full day, 
but the snow was so thick that he could not see more 
than two or three hundred yards in any direction. He 
longed now for shelter, some kind of hollow, or perhaps 
a lone tree. The incessant fall of the snow upon his 
head and its incessant clogging under his feet were tir 
ing him, but he only trod a plain, naked save for its 
blanket of snow. 

Dick had been careful to keep his rifle dry, putting 
the barrel of it under his long deerskin coat. Once as 
he shifted it, he felt a lump over his chest, and for an 
instant or two did not know what caused it. Then he 



remembered the history and geography of the United 
States. He laughed with grim humor. 

" I am lost to history," he murmured, " and the 
geography will not tell me where I am." 

He crossed a swell he knew them now more by feel 
ing than by sight and before beginning the slight as 
cent of the next one he stopped to eat. He had been 
enough of a frontiersman, before starting upon such a 
trip, to store jerked buffalo in the skin knapsack that 
he had saved for himself. The jerked meat offered the 
largest possible amount of sustenance in the smallest 
possible space, and Dick ate eagerly. Then he felt a 
great renewal of courage and strength. He also drank 
of the snow water, that is, he dissolved the snow in his 
mouth, but he did not like it much. 

He stood there for a while resting, and resolved only 
to walk enough to keep himself warm. Certainly, noth 
ing was to be gained by exhausting himself, and the 
snow which was now a foot deep showed no signs of abat 
ing. The white gloom hung all about him and he could 
not see the sky overhead. 

Just as he took this resolution, Dick saw a shadow in 
the circling white. The shadow was like that of a man, 
but before he could see farther there was a little flash 
of red, a sharp, stinging report, and a bullet clipped the 
skin of his cheek, burning like fire. Dick was startled, 
and for full cause but he recognized the Sioux warrior 
who had fought him on horseback. He had stared too 
long at that man and at a time too deadly not to know 
that head and face and the set of his figure. He had 
followed Dick through all the hours and falling snow- 



bent upon taking his life. A second shot, quickly fol 
lowing the first, showed that he meant to miss no chance. 

The second bullet, like the first, just grazed Dick, and 
mild of temper though he habitually was, he was in 
stantly seized with the fiercest rage. He could not un 
derstand such hatred, such ferocity, such an eagerness to 
take human life. And this was the man whom he had 
spared, whom he could easily have slain when he was 
running! The Sioux was raising his rifle for a third 
bullet, when Dick shot him through the chest. There 
Was no doubt about his aim now. It was not disturbed 
by the whitish mist and the falling snow. 

The Sioux fell full length, without noise and without 
struggle, and his gun flew from his hand. His body lay 
half buried in the snow, some of the long eagle feathers 
in his hair thrusting up like the wing of a slain bird. 
Dick looked at him with shuddering horror. All the 
anger was gone from him now, and it is true that in his 
heart he felt pity for this man, who had striven so hard 
and without cause to take his life. He would have been 
glad to go away now, but he forced himself to approach 
and look down at the Indian. 

The warrior lay partly on his side with one arm 
beneath his body. The blood from the bullet hole in his 
chest dyed the snow, and Dick believed that he had been 
killed instantly. But Dick would not touch him. He 
could not bring himself to do that. Nor would he take 
any of his arms. Instead, he turned away, after the 
single look, and, bending his head a little to the snow, 
walked rapidly toward the yellowish glare that told 
where the sun was rising. He did not know just why he 



went in that direction, but it seemed to him the proper 
thing to walk toward the morning. 

Two hours, perhaps, passed and the fall of snow be 
gan to lighten. The flakes still came down steadily, but 
not in such a torrent. The area of vision widened. He 
saw dimly, as through a mist, three or four hundred 
yards, perhaps, but beyond was only the white blur, and 
there was nothing yet to tell him whether he was going 
toward the mountains or away from them. 

He rested and ate again. Then he recovered some 
what, mentally as well as physically. Part of the horror 
of the Indian, his deadly pursuit, and the deadly ending 
passed. He ached with weariness and his nerves were 
quite unstrung, but the snow would cease, the skies 
would clear, and then he could tell which way lay the 
mountains and his brother. 

He rested here longer than usual and studied the 
plain as far as he could see it. He concluded that its 
character had changed somewhat, that the swells were 
higher than they had been, and he was hopeful that he 
might find shelter soon, a deep gully, perhaps, or a shal 
low prairie stream with sheltering cottonwoods along its 

Another hour passed, but he did not make mucb 
progress. The snow was now up to his knees, and it 
became an effort to walk. The area of vision had wid 
ened, but no mountains yet showed through the white 
mist. He was becoming tired with a tiredness that was 
scarcely to be borne. If he stood still long enough to 
rest he became cold, a deadly chill that he knew to be 
the precursor of death s benumbing sleep would creep 



over him, and then he would force himself to resume the 
monotonous, aching walk. 

Dick s strength waned. His eyesight, affected by the 
glare of the snow, became short and unsteady, and he 
felt a dizziness of the brain. Things seemed to dance 
about, but his will was so strong that he could still 
reason clearly, and he knew that he was in desperate 
case. It was his will that resisted the impulse of his 
flesh to throw his rifle away as a useless burden, but 
he laughed aloud when he thought of the map of the 
United States in the inside pocket of his coat. 

" They ll find me, if they ever find me, with that 
upon me," he said aloud, " and they, too, will laugh." 

He stumbled against something and doubled his fist 
angrily as if he would strike a man who had mali 
ciously got in his way. It was the solid bark of a big 
cottonwood that had stopped him, and his anger van 
ished in joy. Where one cottonwood was, others were 
likely to be, and their presence betokened a stream, a 
valley, and a shelter of some kind. 

He was still dazed, suffering partially from snow 
blindness, but now he saw a line of sturdy cottonwoods 
and beyond it another line. The stream, he knew, flowed 
between. He went down the line a few hundred yards 
and came, as he had hoped, into more broken ground. 

The creek ran between banks six or seven feet 
high, with a margin between stream and bank, and the 
cottonwoods on these banks were reinforced by some 
thick clumps of willows. Betweeen the largest clump 
and the line of cottonwoods, with the bank as a shelter 
for the third side, was a comparatively clear space. The 



snow was only a few inches deep there, and Dick be 
lieved that he could make a shelter. He had, of course^ 
brought his blanket with him in a tight roll on his back, 
-and he was hopeful enough to have some thought of 
building a fire. 

He stepped into the sheltered space and looked for a 
point at which to begin work. He believed that by 
prowling in the snow under the cottonwoods he could 
find fallen and old boughs, which, with desperate efforts, 
he might kindle into a flame. 

He stooped down to feel in the snow at a likely spot, 
and the act saved his life. A bullet, intended for his 
head, was buried in the snow beyond him, and a body 
falling down the bank lay quite still at his feet. It was 
the lone Sioux. Wounded mortally, he had followed 
Dick, nevertheless, with mortal intent, crawling, perhaps 
most of the time, and with his last breath he had fired 
what he intended to be the fatal shot. 

He was quite dead now, his power for evil gone for 
ever. There could be no doubt about it. Dick at length 
forced himself to touch the face. It had grown cold and 
the pulse in the wrist was still. It yet gave him a feel 
ing of horror to touch the Sioux, but his own struggle 
for life would be bitter and he could spare nothing. The 
dead warrior wore a good blanket, which Dick now took, 
together with his rifle and ammunition, but he left all 
the rest. Then he dragged the warrior from the shel 
tered space to a deep snow bank, where he sank him out 
of sight. He even took the trouble to heap more snow 
upon him in a form of burial, and he felt a great relief 
when he could no longer see the savage brown features. 



He went back to his sheltered space, and, upon the 
single unprotected side threw up a high wall of snow, 
so high that it would serve as a wind-break. Then he 
began to search for fallen brushwood. Meanwhile, it , 
was turning colder, and a bitter wind began to moan 
across the plain 



DICK realized suddenly that he was very cold. 
The terrible pursuit was over, ending mortally 
for the pursuer, but he was menaced by a new 
danger. Sheltered though his little valley was, he could, 
nevertheless, freeze to death in it with great ease. In 
fact, he had begun already to shiver, and he noticed 
that while his feet were dry, the snow at last had soaked 
through his deerskin leggings and he was wet from knee 
to ankle. The snow had ceased, although a white mist 
hovered in a great circle and the chill of the wind was 
increasing steadily. He must have a fire or die. 

He resumed his search, plunging into the snow banks 
under the cottonwoods and other trees, and at last he 
brought out dead boughs, which he broke into short 
pieces and piled in a heap in the center of the open 
space. The wood was damp on the outside, of course, 
but he expected nothing better and was not discouraged. 
Selecting a large, well-seasoned piece, he carefully cut 
away all the wet outside with his strong hunting knife. 
Then he whittled off large quantities of dry shavings, 
put them under the heap of boughs, and took from his 
inside pocket a small package of lucifer matches. 



Dick struck one of the matches across the heel of his 
shoe. No spark leaped up. Instead, his heart sank 
down, sank further, perhaps, than it had ever done be 
fore in his life. The match was wet. He took another 
from the pocket; it, too, was wet, and the next and the 
next and all. The damp from the snow, melted by the 
heat of his body, had penetrated his buckskin coat, al 
though in the excitement of pursuit and combat he had 
not noticed it. 

Dick was in despair. He turned to the snow a face 
no less white. Had he escaped all the dangers of the 
Sioux for this? To freeze to death merely because he 
did not have a dry lucifer match? The wind was still 
rising and it cut to his very marrow. Reality and imagi 
nation were allied, and Dick was almost overpowered. 
He angrily thrust the wet little package of matches back 
into the inside pocket of his coat his border training in 
economy had become so strong that even in the moment 
of despair he would throw away nothing and his hand 
in the pocket came into contact with something else, 
small, hard, and polished. Dick instantly felt a violent 
revulsion from despair to hope. 

The small object was a sunglass. That wagon train 
was well equipped. Dick had made salvage of two sun 
glasses, and in a moment of forethought had given one 
to Albert, keeping the other for himself, each agreeing 
then and there to carry his always for the moment of 
need that might come. 

Dick drew out the sunglass and fingered it as one 
would a diamond of great size. Then he looked up. A 
brilliant sun was shining beyond white, misty clouds, 



but its rays came through them dim and weak. The 
mists or, rather, cloudy vapor might lift or thin, and in 
that chance lay the result of his fight for life. While he 
waited a little, he stamped up and down violently, and 
threw his arms about with energy. It did not have much 
effect. The wet cold, the raw kind that goes through, 
was in him and, despite all the power of his will, he 
shivered almost continually. But he persisted for a half 
hour and then became conscious of an increasing bright 
ness about him. The white mist was not gone, but it 
was thinning greatly, and the rays of the sun fell on the 
snow brilliant and strong. 

Dick took the dry stick again and scraped off par 
ticles of the wood so fine that they were almost a pow 
der. He did not stop until he had a little heap more 
than an inch high. Meanwhile, the sun s rays, pour 
ing through the whitish mist, continued to grow fuller 
and stronger. 

Dick carefully polished the glass and held it at the 
right angle between the touchwood, that is, the scrap 
ings, and the sun. The rays passing through the glass 
increased many times in power and struck directly upon 
the touchwood. Dick crouched over the wood in order 
to protect it from the wind, and watched, his breath 
constricted, while his life waited on the chance. 

A minute, two minutes, three minutes, five passed 
and then a spark appeared in the touchwood, and fol 
lowing it came a tiny flame. Dick shouted with joy 
and shifted his body a little to put shavings on the 
touchwood. An ill wind struck the feeble blaze, which 
was not yet strong enough to stand fanning into 



greater life, and it went out, leaving a little black ash 
to mark where the touchwood had been. 

Dick s nerves were so much overwrought that he 
cried aloud again, and now it was a cry of despair, not 
of joy. He looked at the little black ash as if his last 
chance were gone, but his despair did not last long. 
He seized the dry stick again and scraped off another 
little pile of touchwood. Once more the sunglass and 
once more the dreadful waiting, now longer than five 
minutes and nearer ten, while Dick waited in terrible 
fear, lest the sun itself should fail him, and go behind 
impenetrable clouds. 

But the second spark came and after it, as before, 
followed the little flame. No turning aside now to al 
low a cruel chance to an ill wind. Instead, he bent down 
his body more closely than ever to protect the vital 
blaze, and, reaching out one cautious arm, fed it first 
with the smallest of the splinters, and then with the 
larger in an ascending scale. 

Up leaped the flames, red and strong. Dick s body 
could not wholly protect them now, but they fought for 
themselves. When the wind shrieked and whipped 
against them, they waved back defiance, and the more the 
wind whipped them, the higher and stronger they grew. 

The victory was with the flames, and Dick fed them 
with wood, almost with his body and soul, and all the 
time as the wind bent them over they crackled and ate 
deeper and deeper into the wood. He could put on 
damp wood now. The flames merely leaped out, licked 
up the melted snow with a hiss and a splutter, and en 
veloped the stick in a mass of glowing red 



Dick fed his fire a full half hour, hunting continu 
ally in the snow under the trees for brushwood and 
finding much of it, enough to start a second fire at the 
far end of the sheltered place, with more left in reserve. 
He spent another half hour heaping up the snow as a 
bulwark about his den, and then sat down between the 
two fires to dry and warm, almost to roast himself. 

It was the first time that Dick understood how much 
pleasure could be drawn from a fire alone. What beau 
tiful red and yellow flames ! What magnificent glowing 
coals! What a glorious thing to be there, while the 
wind above was howling over the snowy and forlorn 
plain! His clothes dried rapidly. He no longer shiv 
ered. The grateful warmth penetrated every fiber of 
him and it seemed strange now that he should have been 
in despair only an hour ago. Life was a wonderful and 
brilliant thing. There was no ache in his bones, and 
the first tingling of his hands, ears, and nose he had re 
lieved with the application of wet snow. Now he felt 
only comfort. 

After a while Dick ate again of his jerked buffalo 
meat, and with the food, warmth, and rest, he began to 
feel sleepy. He plunged into the snow, hunted out more 
wood to add to his reserve, and then, with the two blank 
ets, the Indian s and his own, wrapped about him, sat 
down where the heat of the two fires could reach him 
from either side, and with a heap of the wood as a rest 
for his back. 

Dick did not really intend to go to sleep, but he had 
been through great labors and dangers and had been 
awake long. He drew up one of the blankets until it 



covered all of his head and most of his face, and began 
to gaze into the coals of the larger fire. The wind 
and it was now so cold that the surface of the snow was 
freezing still whistled over him, but the blanket pro 
tected his head from its touch. The whistle instead in 
creased his comfort like the patter of rain on a roof to 
him who is dry inside. 

The fires had now burned down considerably and the 
beds of coals were large and beautiful. They enveloped 
Dick in their warmth and cheer and began to paint 
splendid words of hope for him. He could read what 
they said in glowing letters, but the singular feeling of 
peace and rest deepened all the while. He wondered 
vaguely that one could be so happy. 

The white snow became less white, the red fire less 
red, and a great gray mist came floating down over 
Dick s eyes. Up rose a shadowy world in which all 
things were vague and wavering. Then the tired lids 
dropped down, the gray mist gave way to a soft black 
ness, and Dick sank peacefully into the valley of sleep. 

The boy slept heavily hour after hour, with his hood 
ed head sunk upon his knees, and his rifle lying across 
his lap, while over him shrieked the coldest wind of the 
great northwestern plains. The surface of the frozen 
ground presented a gleaming sheet like ice, over which 
the wind acquired new strength and a sharper edge, but 
the boy in his alcove remained safe and warm. Now 
and then a drift of fine snowy particles that would 
have stung like small shot was blown over the barrier, 
but they only struck upon the thick folds of the blankets 
and the boy slept on. The white mist dissolved. The 



sun poured down beams brilliantly cold and hard, and 
over them was the loom of the mountains, but the boy 
knew nothing of them, nor cared. 

The fires ceased to flame and became great masses 
of glowing coals that would endure long. The alcove 
was filled with the grateful warmth, and when the sun 
was in the zenith, Dick still slept, drawing long, regular 
breaths from a deep, strong chest. The afternoon grew 
and waned, twilight came over the desolate snow fields, 
the loom of the mountains was gone, and the twilight 
gave way to an icy night. 

When Dick awoke it was quite dark, save for the 
heaps of coals which still glowed and threw out warmth. 
He felt at first a little wonderment that he had slept so 
long, but he was not alarmed. His forethought and 
energy had provided plenty of wood and he threw on 
fresh billets. Once more the flames leaped up to brighten 
and to cheer, and Dick, walking to the edge of his snow 
bank, looked over. The wind had piled up the snow 
there somewhat higher before the surface froze, and 
across the barrier he gazed upon some such scene as 
one might behold near the North Pole. He seemed to be 
looking over ice fields that stretched away to infinity, 
and the wind certainly had a voice that was a compound 
of chill and desolation. 

It was so solemn and weird that Dick was glad to 
duck down again into his den, and resume the seat 
where he had slept so long. He ate a little and then 
tried to slumber again, but he had already slept so much 
that he remained wide awake. He opened his eyes and 
let them stay open, after several vain efforts. 



The moonlight now came out with uncommon bril 
liancy and the plain glittered. But it was the coldest 
moon that Dick had ever seen. He began to feel deso 
late and lonely again, and, since he could not sleep, he 
longed for something to do. Then the knowledge came 
to him. He put on fresh wood, and between firelight 
and moonlight he could see everything clearly. 

Satisfied with his light, Dick took from his pocket 
the History of the United States that was accompanying 
him so strangely in his adventures, and began to study 
it. He looked once more at the map of the Rocky Moun 
tain territories, and judged that he was in Southern 
Montana. Although his curiosity as to the exact spot 
in which he lay haunted him, there was no way to tell, 
and turning the leaves away from the map, he began to 

It was chance, perhaps, that made him open at the 
story that never grows old to American youth Valley 
Forge. It was not a great history, it had no brilliant 
and vivid style, but the simple facts were enough for 
Dick. He read once more of the last hope of the great 
man, never greater than then, praying in the snow, and 
his own soul leaped at the sting of example. He was 
only a boy, obscure, unknown, and the fate of but two 
rested with him, yet he, too, would persevere, and in the 
end his triumph also would be complete. He read no 
further, but closed the book and returned it carefully 
to his pocket. Then he stared into the fire, which he 
built up higher that the cheerful light might shine be 
fore him. 

Dick did not hide from himself even now the dangers 


of his position. He was warm and sheltered for the 
present, he had enough of the jerked buffalo to last sev 
eral days, but sooner or later he must leave his den and 
invade the snowy plain with its top crust of ice. This 
snow might last two or three weeks or a month. He 
had come down from the mountains too soon. It was 
true that spring had come, but it was equally true, as 
iso often happens in the great Northwest, that spring 
had refused to stay. 

Dick tried now to see the mountains. The night was 
full of brilliant moonlight, but the horizon was too lim 
ited; it ended everywhere, a black wall against the 
snow, and, still speculating and pondering, Dick at last 
fell asleep again. 

When the boy awoke it was another clear, cold day, 
with the wind still blowing, and there in the northwest 
he joyously saw the white line of the mountains. He 
believed that he could recognize the shape of certain 
peaks and ridges, and he fixed on a spot in the blue sky 
which he was sure overhung Castle Howard. 

Dick saw now that he had been going away from 
the mountains. He was certainly farther than he had 
been when he first met the Sioux, and it was probable 
that he had been wandering then in an irregular course, 
with its general drift toward the southwest. The moun 
tains in the thin, high air looked near, but his experi 
ence of the West told him that they were far, forty 
miles perhaps, and the tramp that lay before him was 
a mighty undertaking. He prepared for it at once. 

He cut a stout stick that would serve as a cane, 
looked carefully to the security of his precious sun- 



glass, and, bidding his little den, which already had be- 
gun to wear some of the aspects of a home, a regretful 
farewell, started through the deep snow. 

He had wrapped his head in the Indian s blanket, 
covering everything but eyes, nose, and mouth, and he 
did not suffer greatly from the bitter wind. But it 
was weary work breaking the way through the snow, 
rendered all the more difficult by the icy crust on top. 
The snow rose to his waist and he broke it at first with 
his body, but by and by he used the stick, and thus he 
plodded on, not making much more than a mile an hour. 

Dick longed now for the shelter of the warm den. 
The cold wind, despite the protection of the blanket, 
began to seek out the crannies in it and sting his face. 
He knew that he was wet again from ankle to knee, but 
he struggled resolutely on, alike for the sake of keeping 
warm and for the sake of shortening the distance. Yet 
there were other difficulties than those of the snow. 
The ground became rough. Now and then he would go 
suddenly through the treacherous snow into an old buf 
falo wallow or a deep gully, and no agility could keep 
him from falling on his face or side. This not only 
made him weary and sore, but it was a great trial to his 
temper also, and the climax came when he went through 
the snow into a prairie brook and came out with his 
shoes full of water. 

Dick shivered, stamped his feet violently, and went 
on painfully breaking his way through the snow. He 
began to have that dull stupor of mind and body again. 
He could see nothing on the surface of the white plain 
save himself. The world was entirely desolate. But 



if the Sioux were coming a second time he did not care. 
He was amused at the thought of the Sioux coming. 
They were hidden away somewhere in some snug val 
ley, and were too sensible to venture upon the plain. 

Late in the afternoon the wind became so fierce, and 
Dick was so tired, that he dug a hole in the deepest 
snow bank he could find, wrapped the blankets tightly 
around him, and crouched there for warmth and shelter. 
Then, when the muscles were at rest, he began to feel 
the cold all through his wet feet and legs. He took off 
his shoes and leggings inside the shelter of his blankets, 
and chafed feet and legs with vigorous hands. This 
restored warmth and circulation, but he was compelled 
after a while to put on his wet garments again. He 
had gained a rest, however, and as he did not fear the 
damp so much while he was moving, he resumed the 
painful march. 

The mountains seemed as far away as ever, but Dick 
knew that he had come five or six miles. He could look 
back and see his own path through the deep snow, wind 
ing and zigzagging toward the northwest. It would 
wind and zigzag no matter how hard he tried to go in 
a straight line, and finally he refused to look back any 
more at the disclosure of his weakness. 

He sought more trees before the sun went down, as 
his glass could no longer be of use without them, but 
found none. There could be no fire for him that night, 
and digging another deep hole in the snow he slept the 
darkness through, nevertheless, warmly and comforta 
bly, like an Eskimo i*i his ice hut. He did not suffer as 
much as he had tnought he would from his wet shoes 



and leggings, and in the night, wrapped within the 
blankets, they dried upon him. 

Dick spent the second day in alternate tramps of 
an hour and rests of half an hour. He was conscious 
that he was growing weaker from this prodigious exer 
tion, hut he was not willing to acknowledge it. In the 
afternoon he came upon a grove of cottonwoods and 
some undergrowth and he tried to kindle a fire, but the 
sun was not strong enough for his glass, and, after an 
hour s wasted effort, he gave it up, discouraged greatly. 
Before night the wind, which had been from the north 
west, shifted to the southwest and became much warmer. 
By and by it snowed again heavily and Dick, who could 
no longer see his mountains, being afraid that he would 
wander in the wrong direction, dug another burrow and 
went to sleep. 

He was awakened by the patter of something warm 
upon his face, and found that the day and rain had 
come together. Dick once more was struck to the heart 
with dismay. How could he stand this and the snow to 
gether? The plain would now run rivers of water and 
he must trudge through a terrible mire, worse even 
than the snow. 

He imagined that he could see his mountains through 
the rain sheets, and he resumed his march, making no 
effort now to keep anything but his rifle and ammuni 
tion dry. He crossed more than one brook, either per 
manent or made by the rain and the melting snow, and 
sloshed through the water, ankle deep, but paid no at 
tention to it. He walked with intervals of rest all 
through the day and the night, and the warm rain never 



ceased. The snow melted at a prodigious rate, and Dick 
thought several times in the night that he heard the 
sound of plunging waters. These must be cataracts 
from the snow and the rain, and he was convinced that 
he was near the mountains. 

The day came again, the rain ceased, the sun sprang 
out, the warm winds blew, and there were the moun 
tains. Perhaps the snow had not been so heavy on them 
as on the plain, but most of it was gone from the peaks 
and slopes and they stood up, sheltering and beautiful, 
with a shade of green that the snow had not been able 
to take away. 

The sight put fresh courage in Dick s heart, but he 
was very weak. He staggered as he plowed through the 
mixed snow and mud, and plains and mountains alike 
were rocking about in a most uncertain fashion. 

In a ravine at the foot of the mountains he saw a 
herd of about twenty buffaloes which had probably 
taken refuge there from the snowstorm, but he did not 
molest them. Instead, he shook his rifle at them and 
called out: 

" I m too glad to escape with my own life to take 
any of yours." 

Dick s brain was in a feverish state and he was not 
wholly responsible for what he said or did, but he be 
gan the ascent with a fairly good supply of strength 
and toiled on all the day. He never knew where he 
slept that night, but he thinks it was in a clump of pines, 
and the next morning when he continued, he felt that he 
had made a wonderful improvement. His feet were light 
and so was his head, but he had never before seen slopes 



and peaks and pines and ash doing a daylight dance. 
They whirled about in the most eccentric manner, yet 
it was all exhilarating, in thorough accord with his own 
spirits, and Dick laughed aloud in glee. What a merry, 
funny world it was! Feet and head both grew lighter. 
He shouted aloud and began to sing. Then he felt so 
strong and exuberant that he ran down one of the slopes, 
waving his cap. An elk sprang out of a pine thicket, 
stared a moment or two with startled eyes at the boy, 
and then dashed away over the mountain. 

Dick continued to sing, and waved his fur cap at 
the fleeing elk. It was the funniest thing he had ever 
seen in his life. The whirling dance of mountain and 
forest became bewildering in its speed and violence. 
He wa* unable to keep his feet, and plunged forward 
into the arms of his brother Albert. Then everything 
sank away from him. 


WHEN Dick opened his eyes again he raised his 
hand once more to wave it at the fleeing elk 
and then he stopped in astonishment. The 
hand was singularly weak. He had made a great effort, 
but it did not go up very far. Nor did his eyes, which 
had opened slowly and heavily, see any elk. They saw 
instead rows and rows of furs and then other rows hang 
ing above one another. His eyes traveled downward 
and they saw log walls almost covered with furs and 
skins, but with rifles, axes, and other weapons and imple 
ments on hooks between. A heavy oaken window shut 
ter was thrown back and a glorious golden sunlight 
poured into the room. 

\ The sunlight happened to fall upon Dick s own 
hand, and that was the next object at which he looked. 
His amazement increased. Could such a thin white 
hand as that belong to him who had lately owned such 
a big red one ? He surveyed it critically, iii particular 
the bones showing so prominently in the back of it, and 
then he was interrupted by a full, cheerful voice wbiok 
called out: 

" Enough of that stargazing and hand examina- 


tion! Here, drink this soup, and while you re doing it, 
I 11 tell you how glad I am to see you back in your right 
mind! I tell you you ve been whooping out some tall 
yarns about an Indian following you for a year or two 
through snow a mile or so deep ! How you fought him 
for a month without stopping! And how you then 
waded for another year through snow two or three times 
as deep as the first ! 

It was his brother Albert, and he lay en his own 
bed of furs and skins in their own cabin, commonly 
called by them Castle Howard, snugly situated in the 
lost or enchanted valley. And here was Albert, healthy, 
strong, and dictatorial, while he, stretched weakly upon 
a bed, held out a hand through which the sun could al 
most shine. Truly, there had been great changes! 

He raised his head as commanded by Albert the 
thin, pallid, drooping Albert of last summer, the lusty, 
red-faced Albert of to-day and drank the soup, which 
tasted very good indeed. He felt stronger and held up 
the thin, white hand to see if it had not grown fatter 
and redder in the last ten seconds. Albert laughed, and 
it seemed to Dick such a full, loud laugh, as if it were 
drawn up from a deep, iron-walled chest, inclosing lungs 
made of leather, with an uncommon expansion. It 
jarred upon Dick. It seemed too loud for so small a 

" I see you enjoyed that soup, Dick, old fellow," 
continued Albert in the same thundering tones. Well, 
you ought to like it. It was chicken soup, and it was 
made by an artist myself. I shot a fat and tender 
prairie hen down the valley, and here she is in soup. 



It s only a step from grass to pot and I did it all my^ 
self. Have another. " 

" Think I will, "said Dick. 

He drank a second tin plate of the soup, and he 
could feel life and strength flowing into every vein. 

" How did I get here, Alt " he asked. 

" That s a pretty hard question to answer, 7 replied 
Albert, smiling and still filling the room with his big 
voice. " You were partly brought, partly led, partly 
pushed, you partly walked, partly jumped, and partly 
crawled, and there were even little stretches of the 
march when you were carried on somebody s shoulder, 
big and heavy as you are. Dick, I don t know any 
name for such a mixed gait. Words fail me." 

Dick smiled, too. 

" Well, no matter how I got here, it s certain that 
I m here," he said, looking around contentedly. 

" Absolutely sure, and it s equally as sure that 
you ve been here five days. I, the nurse, I, the doctor, 
and I, the spectator, can vouch for that. There were 
times when I had to hold you in your bed, there were 
times when you were so hot with fever that I expected 
to see you burst into a mass of red and yellow flames, 
and most all the while you talked with a vividness and 
imagination that I ve never known before outside of 
the Arabian Nights. Dick, where did you get that idea 
about a Sioux Indian following you all the way from 
the Atlantic to the Pacific, with stops every half hour 
for you and him to fight ? 

" It s true," said Dick, and then he told the eager 
boy the story of his escape from the Sioux band, the 



terrible pursuit, the storm, and his dreadful wan 

" It was wonderful luck that I met you, Al, old f el- 
low/ he said devoutly. 

" Not luck exactly," said Albert. " You were com 
ing back to the valley on our old trail, and, as I had 
grown very anxious about you, I was out on the same 
path to see if I could see any sign of you. It was 
natural that we should meet, but I think that, after all, 
Dick, Providence had the biggest hand in it." 

" No doubt," said Dick, and after a moment s pause 
he added, * Did it snow much up here ? 

" But lightly. The clouds seem to have avoided 
these mountains. It was only from your delirium that 
I gathered the news of the great storm on the plains. 
Now, I think you ve talked enough for an invalid. Drop 
your head back on that buffalo robe and go to sleep 

It seemed so amazing to Dick ever to receive orders 
from Albert that he obeyed promptly, closed his eyes, 
and in five minutes was in sound slumber. 

Albert hovered about the room, until he saw that 
Dick was asleep and breathing strongly and regularly. 
Then he put his hand upon Dick s brow, and when he 
felt the temperature his own eyes were lighted up b^ 
a fine smile. That forehead, hot so long, was cool now, 
and it would be only a matter of a few days until Dick 
was his old, strong and buoyant self again. Albert never 
told his brother how he had gone two days and nights 
without sleep, watching every moment by the delirious 
bedside, how, taking the chances, he had dosed him with 



quinine from their medical stores, and how, later, he 
had cooked for him the tenderest and most delicate food. 
Nor did he speak of those awful hours so many of 
them when Dick s life might go at any time. 

Albert knew now that the great crisis was oyer, 
and rejoicing, he went forth from Castle Howard. It 
was his intention to kill another prairie chicken and 
make more of the soup that Dick liked so much. As 
he walked, his manner was expansive, indicating a deep 
satisfaction. Dick had saved his life and he had saved 
Dick s. But Dick was still an invalid and it was his 
duty, meanwhile, to carry on the business of the valley. 
He was sole workman, watchman, and defender, and his 
spirit rose to meet the responsibility. He would cer 
tainly look after his brother as well as anyone could 

Albert whistled as he went along, and swung his 
gun in debonair fashion. It would not take him, an 
expert borderer and woodsman, long to get that prairie 
chicken, and after that, as he had said before, it was 
only a step from grass to pot. 

It was perhaps the greatest hour of Albert Howard s 
life. He, the helped, was now the helper; he, the de 
fended, was now the defender. His chest could scarcely 
contain the mighty surge of exultation that heart and 
lungs together accomplished. He was far from having 
any rejoicings over Dick s prostration; he rejoiced in 
stead that he was able, since the prostration had come, 
to care for both. He had had the forethought and 
courage to go forth and seek for Dick, and the strength 
to save him when found 



Albert broke into a rollicking whistle and he still 
swung his shotgun somewhat carelessly for a hunter 
and marksman. He passed by one of the geysers just 
as it was sending up its high column of hot water and 
its higher column of steam. " That s the way I feel, 
old fellow/ * he said. " I could erupt with just as much 

He resumed his caution farther on and shot two fine, 
fat prairie hens, returning with them to Castle Howard 
before Dick awoke. When Dick did awake, the second 
installment of the soup was ready for him and he ate 
it hungrily. He was naturally so strong and vigorous 
and had lived such a wholesome life that he recovered, 
now that the crisis was passed, with astonishing rapid 
ity. But Albert played the benevolent tyrant for a few 
days yet, insisting that Dick should sleep a great num 
ber of hours out of every twenty-four, and making 
him eat four times a day of the tenderest and most suc 
culent things. He allowed him to walk but a little at 
first, and, though the walks were extended from day 
to day, made him keep inside when the weather was 

Dick took it all, this alternate spoiling and over- 
lordship, with amazing mildness. He had some dim 
perception of the true state of affairs, and was willing 
that his brother should enjoy his triumph to the full. 
But in a week he was entirely well again, thin and pale 
yet, but with a pulsing tide in his veins as strong as 
ever. Then he and Albert took counsel with each other. 
All trace of snow was gone, even far up on the highest 
slope, and the valley was a wonderful symphony in 



green and gold, gold on the lake and green on the new 
grass and the new leaves of the trees. 

It s quite settled/ said Albert, " that we re to 
stay another year in the valley." 

11 Oh, yes," said Dick, " we had already resolved 
on that, and my excursion on the plains shows that we 
were wise in doing so. But you know, Al, we can t do 
fur hunting in the spring and summer. Furs are not 
in good condition now." 

" No," said Albert, " but we can get ready for the 
fall and winter, and I propose that we undertake right 
away a birchbark canoe. The dugout is a little bit 
heavy and awkward, hard to control in a high wind, 
and we 11 really need the birch bark. 

11 Good enough," said Dick. " We ll do it." 

With the habits of promptness and precision they had 
learned from old Mother Necessity, they went to work 
at once, planning and toiling on equal terms, a full 
half-and-half partnership. Both were in great spirits. 

In this task they fell back partly on talk that they 
had heard from some of the men with whom they had 
started across the plains, and partly on old reading, and 
it took quite a lot of time. They looked first for large 
specimens of the white birch, and finally found several 
on one of the lower slopes. This was the first and, in 
fact, the absolutely vital requisite. Without it they 
could do nothing, but, having located their bark supply, 
they left the trees and began at the lake edge the upper 
framework of their canoe, consisting of four strips of 
cedar, two for either side of the boat, every one of the 
four having a length of about fifteen feet. These strips 



had a width of about an inch, with a thickness a third 
as great. 

The strips were tied together in pairs at the ends, 
and the two pairs were joined together at the same 
place after the general fashion in use for the construc 
tion of such canoes. 

The frame being ready, they went to their white 
birch trees for the bark. They marked off the utmost 
possible length on the largest and finest tree, made a 
straight cut through the bark at either end, and tri 
umphantly peeled off a splendid piece, large enough for 
the entire canoe. Then they laid it on the ground in a 
nice smooth place and marked off a distance two feet 
less than their framework or gunwales. They drove in 
to the ground at each end of this space two tall stakes, 
three inches apart. The bark was then laid upon the 
ground inside up and folded evenly throughout its en 
tire length. After that it was lifted and set between 
the stakes with the edges up. The foot of bark project 
ing beyond each stake was covered in each case with 
another piece of bark folded firmly over it and sewed 
to the sides by means of an awl and deer tendon. 

This sewing done, they put a large stone under each 
end of the bark construction, causing it to sag from the 
middle in either direction into the curve suitable for 
a canoe. The gunwale which they had constructed pre 
viously was now fitted into the bark, and the bark was 
stitched tightly to it, both at top and bottom, with a 
further use of awl and tendon, the winding stitch being 

They now had the outside of the canoe, but they had 


drawn many a long breath and perspired many a big 
drop before it was done. They felt, however, that the 
most serious part of the task was over, and after a short 
rest they began on the inside, which they lined with 
long strips of cedar running the full length of the boat. 
The pieces were about an inch and a half in width and 
about a third of an inch in thickness and were fitted 
very closely together. Over these they put the ribs of 
tough ash, which was very abundant in the valley and 
on the slopes. Strips two inches wide and a half inch 
thick were bent crosswise across the interior of the 
curve, close together, and were firmly fastened under 
the gunwales with a loop stitch of the strong tendon 
through the bark. 

To make their canoe firm and steady, they securely 
lashed three string pieces across it and then smeared 
deeply all the seams with pitch, which they were for 
tunate enough to secure from one of the many strange 
springs and exudations in the valley. They now had 
a strong, light canoe, fifteen feet long and a little over 
two feet wide at the center. They had been compelled to 
exercise great patience and endurance in this task, par 
ticularly in the work with the awl and tendons. Skillful 
as they had become with their hands, they acquired sev 
eral sore fingers in the task, but their pride was great 
when it was done. They launched the canoe, tried it 
several times near the shore in order to detect invisible 
seams, and then, when all such were stopped up tightly 
with pitch, they paddled boldly out into deep and far 

The practice they had acquired already with the 


dugout helped them greatly with the birch bark, and 
after one or two duckings they handled it with great 
ease. As amateurs sometimes do, they had achieved 
either by plan or accident a perfect design and found 
that they had a splendid canoe. This was demonstrated 
when the two boys rowed a race, after Dick had recov 
ered his full strength Dick in the dugout and Albert 
in the birch bark. The race was the full length of the 
lake, and the younger and smaller boy won an easy 

11 Well paddled, Al! " said Dick. 

" It wasn t the paddling, Dick," replied Albert, 
" it was light bark against heavy wood that did it." 

They were very proud of their two canoes and made 
a little landing for them in a convenient cove. Here, 
tied to trees with skin lariats, they were safe from 
wind and wave. 

An evening or two after the landing was made se 
cure, Dick, who had been out alone, came home in the 
dark and found Albert reading a book by the firelight. 

" What s this?"" he exclaimed. 

" I took it out of the inside pocket of your coat, 
when I helped you here in the snow," replied Albert. 
u I put it on a shelf and in the strain of your illness 
forgot all about it until to-day." 

" That s my History and Map of the United States," 
said Dick, smiling. " I took it from the wagon which 
yielded up so much to us. It wouldn t tell me where 
I was in the storm; but, do you know, Al, it helped me 
when I read in there about that greatest of all men 
praying in the snow." 



" I know who it is whom you mean," said Albert 
earnestly, " and I intend to read about him and all the 
others. It s likely, Dick, before another year is past, 
that you and I will become about the finest historians 
of our country to be found anywhere between the At 
lantic and Pacific. Maybe this is the greatest treasure 
of all that the wagon has yielded up to us. 

Albert was right. A single volume, where no other 
could be obtained, was a precious treasure to them, and 
it made many an evening pass pleasantly that would 
otherwise have been dull. They liked especially to 
linger over the hardships of the borderers and of their 
countrymen in war, because they found so many paral 
lels to their own case, and the reading always brought 
them new courage and energy. 

They spent the next month after the completion of 
the canoe in making all kinds of traps, including some 
huge dead falls for grizzly bear and silver tip. 

They intended as soon as the autumn opened to begin 
their fur operations on a much larger scale than those 
of the year before. Numerous excursions into the sur 
rounding mountains showed abundant signs of game 
and no signs of an invader, and they calculated that 
if all went well they would have stored safely by next 
spring at least twenty thousand dollars worth of furs. 

The summer passed pleasantly for both, being filled 
with work in which they took a great interest, and hence 
a great pleasure. They found another rock cavity, 
which they fitted up like the first in anticipation of an 
auspicious trapping season. 

" They say, don t put all your eggs in one 


basket, " said Albert, " and so we won t put all our 
furs in one cave. The Sioux may come sometime or 
other, and even if they should get our three residences, 
Castle Howard, the Annex, and the Suburban Villa, 
and all that is in them, they are pretty sure to miss our 
caves and our furs." 

" Of course some Indians must know of this valley," 
said Dick, " and most likely it s the Sioux. Perhaps 
none ever wander in here now, because they re at war 
with our people and are using all their forces on the 

Albert thought it likely, and both Dick and he had 
moments when they wondered greatly what was occur 
ring in the world without. But, on the whole, they were 
not troubled much by the affairs of the rest of the 

Traps, house building, and curing food occupied 
them throughout the summer. Often the days were 
very hot in the valley, which served as a focus for the 
rays of the sun, but it was invariably cool, often cold, at 
night. They slept usually under a tent, or sometimes, 
on their longer expeditions in that direction, at the bark 
hut. Dick made a point of this, as he resolved that 
Albert should have no relapse. He could not see any 
danger of such a catastrophe, but he felt that another 
year of absolutely fresh and pure mountain air, breathed 
both night and day, would put his brother beyond all 
possible danger. 

The life that both led even in the summer was thor 
oughly hardening. They bathed every morning, if in 
the tent by Castle Howard, in the torrent, the waters 



of which were always icy, flowing as they did from melt 
ing snows on the highest peaks. They swam often in 
the lake, which was also cold always, and at one of the 
hot springs they hollowed out a pool, where they could 
take a hot bath whenever they needed it. 

The game increased in the valley as usual toward 
autumn, and they replenished their stores of jerked 
meat. They had spared their ammunition entirely 
throughout the summer and now they used it only on 
buffalo, elk, and mule deer. They were fortunate enough 
to catch several big bears in their huge dead falls, and, 
with very little expenditure of cartridges, they felt that 
they could open their second winter as well equipped 
with food as they had been when they began the first. 
They also put a new bark thatching on the roof of Castle 
Howard, and then felt ready for anything that might 

" Rain, hail, sleet, snow, and ice, it s all the same 
to us," said Dick. 

They did not resume their trapping until October 
came, as they knew that the furs would not be in good 
condition until then. They merely made a good guess 
that it was October. They had long since lost all count 
of days and months, and took their reckoning from the 
hange of the foliage into beautiful reds and yellows 
and the increasing coldness of the air. 

It proved to be a cold but not rainy autumn, a cir 
cumstance that favored greatly their trapping opera 
tions. They had learned much in the preceding winter 
from observation and experience, and now they put it 
to practice. They knew many of the runways or paths 



frequented by the animals, and now they would place 
their traps in these, concealing them as carefully as 
possible, and, acting on an idea of Albert s, they made 
buckskin gloves for themselves, with which they handled 
the traps, in order to leave, if possible, no human odor 
to warn the wary game. Such devices as this and the 
more skillful making of their traps caused the second 
season to be a greater success than the first, good as the 
latter had been. They shot an additional number of 
buffaloes and elk, but what they sought in particular 
was the beaver, and they were lucky enough to find two 
or three new and secluded little streams, on which he 
had built his dams. 

The valuable furs now accumulated rapidly, and it 
was wise forethought that had made them fit up the sec 
ond cave or hollow. They were glad to have two places 
for them, in case one was discovered by an enemy 
stronger than themselves. 

Autumn turned into winter, with snow, slush, and 
ice-cold rain. The preceding winter had been mild, but 
this bade fair to break some records for severe and 
variegated weather. Now came the true test for Al 
bert. To trudge all day long in snow, icy rain or deep 
slush, to paddle across the lake in a nipping wind, with 
the chilly spray all over him, to go for hours soaking 
wet on every inch of his skin these were the things 
that would have surely tried the dwellers in the houses 
of men, even those with healthy bodies. 

Albert coughed a little after his first big soaking, 
but after a hot bath, a big supper, and a long night s 
sleep, it left, not to return. He became so thoroughly 



inured now to exposure that nothing seemed to affect 
him. Late in December so they reckoned the time 
when, going farther than usual into a long crevice of 
the mountains, they were overtaken by a heavy snow 
storm. They might have reached the Suburban Villa 
by night, or they might not, but in any event the going 
would have been full of danger, and they decided to 
camp in the broadest part of the canyon in which they 
now were, not far from the little brook that flowed 
down it. 

They had matches with them they were always care 
ful to keep them dry now and after securing their dry 
shavings they lighted a good fire. Then they ate their 
food, and looked up without fear at the dark mountains 
and the thick, driving snow. They were partially shel 
tered by the bank and some great ash trees, and, for 
further protection, they wrapped about themselves the 
blankets, without which they never went on any long 

Having each other for company, the adventure was 
like a picnic to both. It was no such desperate affair as 
that of Dick s when he was alone on the plain. They 
further increased their shelter from the snow by an 
artful contrivance of brush and fallen boughs, and al 
though enough still fell upon them to make miserable 
the house-bred, they did not care. Both fell asleep after 
a while, with flurries of snow still striking upon their 
faces, and were awakened far in the night by the roar 
of an avalanche farther up the canyon; but they soon 
went to sleep again and arose the next day without 



Thus the winter passed, one of storm and cold, but 
the trapping was wonderful, and each boy grew in a 
remarkable manner in strength, endurance, and skill. 
When signs of spring appeared again, they decided that 
it was time for them to go. Had it not been for Dick s 
misadventure on the plain, and their belief that a great 
war was now in progress between the Sioux and the 
white people, one might have gone out to return with 
horses or mules for furs, while the other remained be 
hind to guard them. But in view of all the dangers, 
they resolved to keep together. The furs would be se 
creted and the rest of their property must take its chance, 

So they made ready. 



IT gave both Dick and Albert a severe wrench to leave 
their beautiful valley. They had lived in it now 
nearly two years, and it had brought strength and 
abounding life to Albert, infinite variety, content, and 
gratitude to Dick, and what seemed a fortune their 
furs to both. It was a beautiful valley, in which Na 
ture had done for them many strange and wonderful 
things, and they loved it, the splendid lake, the grassy 
levels, the rushing streams, the noble groves, and the 
great mountains all about. 

"I d like to live here, Dick," said Albert, "for 
some years, anyway. After we take out our furs and 
sell em, we can come back and use it as a base for more 

" If the Indians will let us," said Dick. 

" Do you think we ll meet em? " 

" I don t know, but I believe the plains are alive 
with hostile Sioux." 

But Albert could not foresee any trouble. He was 
too young, to sanguine, too full now of the joy of life 
to think of difficulties. 

They chose their weapons for the march with great 


care, each taking a repeating rifle, a revolver, a hunting 
knife, and a hatchet, the latter chiefly for camping pur 
poses. They also divided equally among themselves what 
was left of the ball cartridges, and each took his sun 
glass and half of the remaining matches. The extra 
weapons, including the shotguns and shot cartridges, 
they hid with their furs. They also put in the caves 
many more of their most valuable possessions, especially 
the tools and remnants of medical supplies. They left 
everything else in their houses, just as they were when 
they were using them, except the bark hut, from which 
they took away all furnishings, as it was too light to 
resist the invasion of a large wild beast like a grizzly 
bear. But they fastened up Castle Howard and the 
Annex so securely that no wandering beast could pos 
sibly break in. They sunk their canoes in shallow wa 
ter among reeds, and then, when each had provided 
himself with a large supply of jerked buffalo and deer 
meat and a skin water bag, they were ready to depart. 

" We may find our houses and what is in them all 
right when we come back, or we may not, said Dick. 

" But we take the chance," said Albert cheerfully. 

Early on a spring morning they started down the 
valley by the same way in which they had first entered 
it. They walked along in silence for some minutes, and 
then, as if by the same impulse, the two turned and 
looked back. There was their house, which had shel 
tered them so snugly and so safely for so long, almost 
hidden now in the foliage of the new spring. There 
was a bit of moisture in the eyes of Albert, the younger 
and more sentimental. 



" Good-by," he said, waving his hand. " I ve found 
life here." 

Dick said nothing, and they turned into the main 
valley. They walked with long and springy steps, left 
the valley behind them, and began to climb the slopes. 
Presently the valley itself became invisible, the moun 
tains seeming to close in and blot it out. 

" A stranger would have to blunder on it to find it," 
said Dick. 

" I hope no one will make any such blunder, " said 

The passage over the mountains was easy, the weather 
continuing favorable, and on another sunshiny morning 
they reached the plains, which flowed out boundlessly 
before them. These, too, were touched with green, but 
the boys were perplexed. The space was so vast, and it 
was all so much alike, that it did not look as if they 
could ever arrive anywhere. 

" I think we d better make for Cheyenne in Wyo 
ming Territory/ said Dick. 

But we don t know how far away it is, nor in what 
direction," said Albert. 

" No; but if we keep on going we re bound to get 
somewhere. "We ve got lots of time before us, and we ll 
take it easy." 

They had filled their skin water bags, made in the 
winter, at the last spring, and they set out at a moderate 
pace over the plain. Dick had thought once of visiting 
again the scene of the train s destruction in the pass, 
but Albert opposed it. 

" No," he said, " I don t want to see that place." 


This journey, they knew not whither, continued easy 
and pleasant throughout the day. The grass was grow 
ing fast on the plains, and all the little streams that 
wound now and then between the swells were full of 
water, and, although they still carried the filled water 
bags, Dick inferred that they were not likely to suffer 
from thirst. Late in the afternoon they saw a small 
herd of antelope and a lone buffalo grazing at a con 
siderable distance, and Dick drew the second and com 
forting inference that game would prove to be abundant. 
He was so pleased with these inferences that he stated 
them to Albert, who promptly drew a third. 

" Wouldn t the presence of buffalo and antelope in 
dicate that there are not many Indians hereabouts ? " he 

" It looks likely, " replied Dick. 

They continued southward until twilight came, when 
they built in a hollow a fire of buffalo chips, which were 
abundant all over the plain, and watched their friendly 
mountains sink away in the dark. 

" Gives me a sort of homesick feeling," said Albert. 
" They ve been good mountains to us. Shelter and home 
are there, but out here I feel as if I were stripped to 
the wind." 

" That describes it," said Dick. 

They did not keep any watch, but put out their fire 
and slept snugly in their blankets. They were awakened 
in the morning by the whine of a coyote that did not 
dare to come too near, and resumed their leisurely march, 
to continue in this manner for several days, meeting no 
human being either white or red. 



They saw the mountains sink behind the sky line and 
then they felt entirely without a rudder. There was 
nothing to go by now except the sun, but they kept to 
their southern course. They were not greatly troubled. 
They found plenty of game, as Dick had surmised, and 
killed an antelope and a fat young buffalo cow. 

" We may travel a long journey, Al," said Dick with 
some satisfaction, " but it s not hard on us. It s more 
like loafing along on an easy holiday. " 

On the fifth day they ran into a large buffalo herd, 
but did not molest any of its members, as they did not 
need fresh meat. 

" Seems to me," said Dick, " that Sioux would be 
after this herd if they weren t busy elsewhere. It looks 
like more proof that the Sioux are on the warpath and 
are to the eastward of us, fighting our own people." 

" The Sioux are a great and warlike tribe, are they 
not? " asked Albert. 

The greatest and most warlike west of the Missis 
sippi," replied Dick. " I understand that they are 
really a group of closely related tribes and can put 
thousands of warriors in the field." 

" Bright Sun, I suppose, is with them? " 

" Yes, I suppose so. He is an Indian, a Sioux, no 
matter if he was at white schools and for years with 
white people. He must feel for his own, just as you and 
I, Al, feel for our own race." 

They wandered three or four more days across the 
plains, and were still without sign of white man or red. 
They experienced no hardship. Water was plentiful. 
Game was to be had for the stalking, and life, had they 



been hunting or exploring, would have been pleasant; 
but both felt a sense of disappointment they never 
came to anything. The expanse of plains was bound 
less, the loneliness became overpowering. They had 
not the remotest idea whether they were traveling 
toward any white settlement. Human life seemed to 
shun them. 

" Dick," said Albert one day, " do you remember 
the story of the Flying Dutchman, how he kept trying 
for years to round the Cape of Storms, and couldn t 
do it? I wonder if some such penalty is put on us, and 
if so, what for? " 

The thought lodged in the minds of both. Oppressed 
by long and fruitless wanderings, they began to have a 
superstition that they were to continue them forever. 
They knew that it was unreasonable, but it clung, never 
theless. There were the rolling plains, the high, brassy 
sky, and the clear line of the horizon on all sides, with 
nothing that savored of human life between. 

They had hoped for an emigrant train, or a wander 
ing band of hunters, or possibly a troop of cavalry, but 
the days passed and they met none. Still the same high, 
brassy sky, still the same unbroken horizons. The plains 
increased in beauty. There was a fine, delicate shade 
of green on the buffalo grass, and wonderful little flowers 
peeped shy heads just above the earth, but Dick and 
Albert took little notice of either. They had sunk into 
an uncommon depression. The terrible superstition that 
they were to wander forever was strengthening its hold 
upon them, despite every effort of will and reason. In 
the hope of better success they changed their course 



two or three times, continuing in each case several daya 
in that direction before the next change was made. 

We ve traveled around so much now, said Albert 
despondently, " that we couldn t go back to our moun 
tains if we wanted to do it. We don t know any longer 
in what direction they lie." 

" That s so," said Dick, with equal despondency 
showing in his tone. 

His comment was brief, because they talked but little 
now, and every day were talking less. Their spirits were 
affected too much to permit any excess of words. But 
they came finally to rougher, much more broken coun 
try, and they saw a line of trees on the crest of hills 
just under the sunset horizon. The sight, the break in 
the monotony, the cheerful trees made them lift up their 
drooping heads. 

" Well, at any rate, here s something new," said 
Dick. " Let s consider it an omen of good luck, Al." 

They reached the slope, a long one, with many de 
pressions and hollows, containing thick groves of large 
trees, the heights beyond being crowned with trees of 
much taller growth. They would have gone to the sum 
mit, but they were tired with a long day s tramp and 
they had not yet fully aroused themselves from the 
lethargy that had overtaken them in their weary wan 

" Night s coming," said Albert, " so let s take to 
that hollow over there with the scrub ash in it." 

" All right," said Dick. " Suits me." 

It was a cozy little hollow, deeply shaded by the ash 
trees, but too rocky to be damp, and they did not take 



the trouble to light a fire. They had been living foir 
sometime on fresh buffalo and antelope, and had saved 
their jerked meat, on which they now drew for supper. 

It was now quite dark, and each, throwing his blanket 
lightly around his shoulders, propped himself in a com 
fortable position. Then, for the first time in days, they 
began to talk in the easy, idle fashion of those who feel 
some degree of contentment, a change made merely by 
difference in scene, the presence of hills, trees, and rocks 
after the monotonous world of the plains. 

" We ll explore that country to-morrow, " said Dick, 
nodding his head toward the crest of the hills. " Must 
be something over there, a river, a lake, and maybe 

11 Hope it won t make me homesick again for our 
valley," said Albert sleepily. " I ve been thinking too 
much of it, anyway, in the last few days. Dick, wasn t 
that the most beautiful lake of ours that you ever saw? 
Did you ever see another house as snug as Castle How 
ard ? And how about the Annex and the Suburban Villa 1 
And all those beautiful streams that came jumping down 
between the mountains! " 

" If you don t shut up, Al," said Dick, "111 thrash 
you with this good handy stick that I ve found here." 

"All right," replied Albert, laughing; "I didn t 
mean to harrow up your feelings any more than I did 
my own." 

Albert was tired, and the measure of content that 
he now felt was soothing. Hence, his drowsiness in 
creased, and in ten minutes he went comfortably to 
sleep. Dick s eyes were yet open, and he felt within 



himself such new supplies of energy and strength that 
he resolved to explore a little. The task that had seemed 
so hard two or three hours before was quite easy now. 
Albert would remain sleeping safely where he was, and, 
acting promptly, Dick left the hollow, rifle on shoulder. 

It was an easy slope, but a long one. As he ascended, 
the trees grew more thickly and near the ascent were 
comparatively free from undergrowth. Just over the 
hill shone a magnificent full moon, touching the crest 
with a line of molten silver. 

Dick soon reached the summit and looked down the 
far slope into a valley three or four hundred yards deep. 
The moon shed its full glory into the valley and filled 
it with rays of light. 

The valley was at least two miles wide, and down 
its center flowed a fine young river, which Dick could 
see here and there in stretches, while the rest was hid 
den by forest. In fact, the whole valley seemed to be 
well clothed with mountain forest, except in one wide 
space where Dick s gaze remained after it had alighted 

Here was human life, and plenty of it. He looked 
down upon a circle of at least two hundred lodges, tent^ 
shaped structures of saplings covered with bark, and he 
had heard quite enough about such things to know thes* 
were the whiter homes of the Sioux. The moonlight 
was so clear and his position so good that he was able 
to see figures moving about among the lodges. 

The sight thrilled Dick. Here he had truly come 
upon human life, but not the kind he wished to see. 
But it was vastly interesting, and he sought a closer 



look. His daring told him to go down the slope toward 
them, and he obeyed. The descent was not difficult, 
and there was cover in abundance pines, ash, and 

As he was very careful, taking time not to break a 
twig or set a stone rolling, and stopping at intervals to 
look and listen, he was a half hour in reaching the val 
ley, where, through the trees, he saw the Indian village. 
He felt that he was rash, but wishing to see, he crept 
closer, the cover still holding good. He was, in a way, 
fascinated by what he saw. It had the quality of a 
dream, and its very unreality made him think less of 
the danger. But he really did not know how expert 
he had become as a woodsman and trailer through his 
long training as a trapper, where delicacy of movement 
and craft were required. 

He believed that the Indians, in such a secure loca 
tion, would not be stirring beyond the village at this 
late hour, and he had little fear of anything except the 
sharp-nosed dogs that are always prowling about an 
Indian village. He was within three hundred yards of 
the lodges when he heard the faint sound of voices and 
footsteps. He instantly lay down among the bushes, 
but raised himself a little on his elbow in order to see. 

Three Indians were walking slowly along a wood 
land path toward the village, and the presence of the 
path indicated that the village had been here for many 
months, perhaps was permanent. The Indians were 
talking very earnestly and they made gestures. One 
raised his voice a little and turned toward one of his 
companions, as if he would emphasize his words. Then 



Dick saw his face clearly, and drew a long breath of 

It was Bright Sun, but a Bright Sun greatly changed. 
He was wholly in native attire moccasins, leggings, and 
a beautiful blue blanket draped about his shoulders. A 
row of eagle feathers adorned his long black hair, but 
it was the look and manner of the man that had so much 
significance. He towered above the other Indians, who 
were men of no mean height; but it was not his height 
either, it was his face, the fire of his eyes, the proud 
eagle beak which the Sioux had not less than the Roman, 
and the swift glance of command that could not be 
denied. Here was a great chief, a leader of men, and 
Dick was ready to admit it. 

He could easily have shot Bright Sun dead as he 
passed, but he did not dream of doing such a thing. 
Yet Bright Sun, while seeming to play the part of a 
friend, had deliberately led the wagon train into a fatal 
ambush of that Dick had no doubt. He felt, more 
over, that Bright Sun was destined to cause great woe 
to the white people, his own people, but he could not 
fire ; nor would he have fired even if the deed had been 
without danger to himself. 

Dick, instead, gave Bright Sun a reluctant admira 
tion. He looked well enough as the guide in white 
men s clothes, but in his own native dress he looked like 
one to be served, not to serve. The three paused for a 
full two minutes exactly opposite Dick, and he could 
have reached out and touched them with the barrel of 
his rifle; but they were thinking little of the presence 
of an enemy. Dick judged by the emphasis of their 



talk that it was on a matter of some great moment, and 
he saw all three of them point at times toward the east. 

" It s surely war/ he thought, " and our army is 
somewhere off there in the east." 

Dick saw that Bright Sun remained the dominating 
figure throughout the discussion. Its whole effect was 
that of Bright Sun talking and the others listening. He 
seemed to communicate his fire and enthusiasm to his 
comrades, and soon they nodded a vigorous assent. Then 
the three walked silently away toward the village. 

Dick rose from his covert, cast a single glance at 
the direction in which the three chiefs had disappeared, 
and then began to retrace his own steps. It was his 
purpose to arouse Albert and flee at once to a less dan 
gerous region. But the fate of Dick and his brother 
rested at that moment with a mean, mangy mongrel cur, 
such as have always been a part of Indian villages, a 
cur that had wandered farther from the village than 
usual that night upon some unknown errand. 

Dick had gone about thirty yards when he became 
conscious of a light, almost faint, pattering sound be 
hind him. He stepped swiftly into the heaviest shadow 
of the trees and sought to see what pursued. He thought 
at first it was some base-born wolf of the humblest tribe, 
but, when he looked longer, he knew that it was one of 
the meanest of mean curs, a hideous, little yellowish 
animal, sneaking in his movements, a dog that one would 
gladly kick out of his way. 

Dick felt considerable contempt for himself because 
he had been alarmed over such a miserable little beast, 
and resumed his swift walk. Thirty yards farther he 



threw a glance over his shoulder, and there was the 
wretched cur still following. Dick did not like it, con 
sidering it an insult to himself to be trailed by any 
thing so ugly and insignificant. He picked up a stone, 
but hesitated a moment, and then put it down again. 
If he threw the stone the dog might bark or howl, and 
that was the last thing that he wanted. Already the 
cur, mean and miserable as he looked, had won a victory 
over him. 

Dick turned into a course that he would not have 
taken otherwise, thinking to shake off his pursuer, but 
at the next open space he saw him still following, his 
malignant red eyes fixed upon the boy. The cur would 
not have weighed twenty cowardly pounds, but he be 
came a horrible obsession to Dick. He picked up a 
stone again, put it down again, and for a mad in 
stant seriously considered the question of shooting 

The cur seemed to become alarmed at the second 
threat, and broke suddenly into a sharp, snarling, yap 
ping bark, much like that of a coyote. It was terribly 
loud in the still night, and cold dread assailed Dick in 
every nerve. He picked up the stone that he had 
dropped, and this time he threw it. 

* You brute ! M he exclaimed, as the stone whizzed 
by the cur s ear. 

The cur returned the compliment of names with in 
terest compounded many times over. His snarling bark 
became almost continuous, and although he did not come 
any nearer, he showed sharp white teeth. Dick paused 
in doubt, but when, from a point nearer the village, he 



heard a bark in reply, then another, and then a dozen, 
he ran with all speed up the slope. He knew without 
looking back that the cur was following, and it made 
him feel cold again. 

Certainly Dick had good cause to run. All the world 
was up and listening now, and most of it was making 
a noise, too. He heard a tumult of barking, growling, 
and snapping toward the village, and then above it a 
long, mournful cry that ended in an ominous note. Dick 
knew that it was a Sioux war whoop, and that the mean, 
miserable little cur had done his work. The village 
would be at his heels. Seized with an unreasoning pas 
sion, he whirled about and shot the cur dead. It was 
a mad act, and he instantly repented it. Never had 
there been another rifle shot so loud. It crashed like 
the report of a cannon. Mountain and valley gave it 
back in a multitude of echoes, and on the last dying 
echo came, not a single war whoop, but the shout of 
many, the fierce, insistent, falsetto yell that has sounded 
the doom of many a borderer. 

Dick shuddered. He had been pursued once before 
by a single man, but he was not afraid of a lone war 
rior. Now a score would be at his heels. He might 
shake them off in the dark, but the dogs would keep 
the scent, and his chief object was to go fast. He ran 
up the slope at his utmost speed for a hundred yards 
or more, and then remembering in tune to nurse his 
strength, he slackened his footsteps. 

He had thought of turning the pursuit away from 
the hollow in which Albert lay, but now that the alarm 
was out they would find him, anyway, and it was best 



for the two to stand or fall together. Hence, he went 
straight for the hollow. 

It was bitter work running up a slope, but his two 
years of life in the open were a great help to him now. 
The strong heart and the powerful lungs responded 
nobly to the call. He ran lightly, holding his rifle in 
the hollow of his arm, ready for use if need be, and 
he watched warily lest he make an incautious footstep 
and fall. The moonlight was still full and clear, but 
when he took an occasional hurried glance backward 
he could not yet see his pursuers. He heard, now and 
then, however, the barking of a dog or the cry -of a 

Dick reached the crest of the hill, and there for an 
instant or two his figure stood, under the pines, a black 
silhouette against the moonlight. Four or five shots 
were fired at the living target. One bullet whizzed so 
near that it seemed to Dick to scorch his face. 

He had gathered fresh strength, and that hot bullet 
gave a new impetus also. He ran down the slope at great 
speed now, and he had calculated craftily. He could 
descend nearly twice as fast as they could ascend, and 
while they were reaching the crest he would put a wide 
gap between them. 

He kept well in the shadow now as he made with 
long leaps straight toward the hollow, and he hoped 
with every heart beat that Albert, aroused by the shots, 
would be awake and ready. Albert ! " he cried, when 
he was within twenty feet of their camp, and his hope 
was rewarded. Albert was up, rifle in hand, crying: 
11 What is it, Dick? " 



" The Sioux! " exclaimed Dick. " They re not far 
away! You heard the shots! Come! " 

He turned off at an angle and ran in a parallel line 
along the slope, Albert by his side. He wished to keep 
to the forests and thickets, knowing they would have 
little chance of escape on the plain. As they ran he 
told Albert, in short, choppy sentences, what had hap 

" I don t hear anything," said Albert, after ten 
minutes. " Maybe they ve lost us." 

" No such good luck! Those curs of theirs would 
lead them. No, Al, we ve got to keep straight on as 
long as we can! " 

Albert stumbled on a rock, but, quickly recovering 
himself, put greater speed in every jump, when he heard 
the Indian shout behind them. 

We ve got to shoot their dogs, said Dick. We 11 
have no other chance to shake them off." 

" If we get a chance," replied Albert. 

But they did not see any chance just yet. They 
heard the occasional howl of a cur, but both curs and 
Indians remained invisible. Yet Dick felt that the pur 
suers were gaining. They were numerous, and they 
could spread. Every time he and Albert diverged from 
a straight line and they could not help doing so now 
and then some portion of the pursuing body came 
nearer. It was the advantage that the many had over 
the few. 

Dick prayed for darkness, a shading of the moon, 
but it did not come, and five minutes later he saw the 
yellow form of a cur emerge into an open space. Ha 



took a shot at it and heard a howl. He did not know 
whether he had killed the dog or not, but he hoped he 
had succeeded. The shot brought forth a cry to their 
right, and then another to the left. It was obvious that 
the Sioux, besides being behind them, were also on 
either side of them. They were gasping, too, from 
their long run, and knew they could not continue much 

" We can t shake them off, Al," said Dick, " and 
we ll have to fight. This is as good a place as any 

They dropped down into a rocky hollow, a depres 
sion not more than a foot deep, and lay on their faces, 
gasping for breath. Despite the deadly danger Dick 
felt a certain relief that he did not have to run any 
more there comes a time when a moment s physical 
rest will overweigh any amount of mortal peril. 

If they ve surrounded us, they re very quiet about 
?t," said Albert, when the fresh air had flowed back 
into his lungs. " I don t see or hear anything at 

" At least we don t hear those confounded dogs any 
nore," said Dick. " Maybe there was only one pursu 
ing us, and that shot of mine got him. The howls of 
the cur upset my nerves more than the shouts of the 

" Maybe so," said Albert. 

Then they were both quite still. The moonlight was 
silvery clear, and they could see pines, oaks, and cedars 
waving in a gentle wind, but they saw nothing else. Yet 
Dick was well aware that the Sioux had not abandoned 



the chase ; they knew well where the boys lay, and 
all about them in the woods. 

" Keep close, Albert," he said. " Indians are sly, 
and the Sioux are the slyest of them all. They re only 
waiting until one of us pops up his head, thinking 
they re gone." 

Albert took Dick s advice, but so long a time passed 
without sign from the Sioux that he began to believe 
that, in some mysterious manner, they had evaded the 
savages. The belief had grown almost into a certainty, 
when there was a flash and a report from a point higher 
up the slope. Albert felt something hot and stinging 
in his face. But it was only a tiny fragment of rock 
chipped off by the bullet as it passed. 

Both Dick and Albert lay closer, as if they would 
press themselves into the earth, and soon two or three 
more shots were fired. All came from points higher up 
the slope, and none hit a living target, though they 
struck unpleasantly close. 

" I wish I could see something," exclaimed Albert 
impatiently. " It s not pleasant to be shot at and to 
get no shot in return." 

Dick did not answer. He was watching a point 
among some scrub pines higher up the slope, where the 
boughs seemed to him to be waving too much for the 
slight wind. Looking intently, he thought he saw a 
patch of brown through the evergreen, and he fired at 
it. A faint cry followed the shot, and Dick felt a 
strange satisfaction; they were hunting him well, he 
had given a blow in return. 

Silence settled down again after Dick s shot. The 


boys lay perfectly still, although they could hear each 
other s breathing. The silvery moonlight seemed to grow 
fuller and clearer all the time. It flooded the whole 
slope. Boughs and twigs were sheathed in it. Appar 
ently, the moon looked down upon a scene that was all 
peace and without the presence of a human being. 

" Do you think they ll rush us? " whispered Albert. 

" No," replied Dick. " I ve always heard that the 
Indian takes as little risk as he possibly can." 

They waited a little longer, and then came a flare 
of rifle shots from a point farther up the slope. Brown 
forms appeared faintly, and Dick and Albert, intent 
and eager, began to fire in reply. Bullets sang by their 
ears and clipped the stones around them, but their blood 
rose the higher and they fired faster and faster. 

" We ll drive em back! " exclaimed Dick. 

They did not hear the rapid patter of soft, light 
footsteps coming from another direction, until a half 
dozen Sioux were upon them. Then the firing in front 
ceased abruptly, and Dick and Albert whirled to meet 
their new foes. 

It was too late. Dick saw Albert struggling in the 
grasp of two big warriors, and then saw and heard noth 
ing more. He had received a heavy blow on the head 
from the butt of a rifle and became unconscious. 



WHEN Dick awoke from his second period of 
unconsciousness it was to awake, as he did 
from the first, under a roof, but not, as in 
the case of the first, under his own roof. He saw above 
him an immense sloping thatch of bark on poles, and 
his eyes, wandering lower, saw walls of bark, also fas 
tened to poles. He himself was lying on a large rush 
mat, and beside the door of the great tepee sat two Sioux 
warriors cleaning their rifles. 

Dick s gaze rested upon the warriors. Curiously, he 
felt at that time neither hostility nor apprehension. He 
rather admired them. They were fine, tall men, and 
their bare arms and legs were sinewy and powerful. 
Then he thought of Albert. He was nowhere to be seen, 
but from the shadow of the wall on his right came a tall 
figure, full of dignity and majesty. It was Bright Sun, 
who looked down at Dick with a gaze that expressed 
inquiry rather than anger. 

" Why have you come here? " he asked. 

Although Dick s head ached and he was a captive, 
the question made a faint appeal to his sense of humor. 

" I didn t come," he replied; " I was brought." 


Bright Sun smiled. 

" That is true," he said, speaking the precise Eng 
lish of the schools, with every word enunciated dis 
tinctly. " You were brought, and by my warriors; but 
why were you upon these hills? " 

" I give you the best answer I can, Bright Sun." 
replied Dick frankly; " I don t know. My brother and 
I were lost upon the plains, and we wandered here. 
Nor have I the remotest idea now where I am." 

" You are in a village of the tribe of the Mende- 
wahkanton Sioux, of the clan Queyata-oto-we, " replied 
Bright Sun gravely, " the clan and tribe to which I 
belong. The Mendewahkantons are one of the first 
tribes of the Seven Fireplaces, or the Great Sioux Na 
tion. But all are great Mendewahkanton, Wahpeton, 
Sisseton, Yankton, Teton, Ogalala, and Hunkpapa - 
down to the last clan of every tribe." 

He had begun with gravity and an 3ven Intonation, 
but his voice rose with pride at the last. Nothing of 
the white man s training was left to him but the slow, 
precise English. It was the Indian, the pride of his 
Indian race, that spoke. Dick recognized it and re 
spected it. 

And this ? said Dick, looking around at the great 
house of bark and poles in which he lay. 

" This," replied Bright Sun, pride again showing 
in his tone, " is the house of the Akitcita, our soldiers 
and policemen, the men between twenty and forty, the 
warriors of the first rank, who live here in common, and 
into whose house women and children may not enter. 
I have read in the books at your schools how the Spar- 



tan young men lived together as soldiers in a common 
house, eating rough food and doing the severest duty, 
and the whole world has long applauded. The Sioux, 
who never heard of the Spartans, have been doing the 
same far back into the shadowy time. We, too, are a 
race of warriors. " 

Dick looked with renewed interest at the extraordi 
nary man before him, and an amazing new suggestion 
found lodgment in his mind. Perhaps the Sioux chief 
thought himself not merely as good as the white man, 
but better, better than any other man except those of 
his own race. It was so surprising that Dick forgot 
for a moment the question that he was eagerly awaiting 
a chance to ask where was his brother Albert? 

" I ve always heard that the Sioux were brave/ 
said Dick vaguely, " and I know they are powerful." 

" We are the Seven Fireplaces. What the Six Na 
tions once were in the East, we now are in the West, 
save that we are far more numerous and powerful, and 
we will not be divided. We have leaders who see the 
truth and who know what to do." 

The pride in his tone was tinged now with defiance, 
and Dick could but look at him in wonder. But his 
mind now came back to the anxious question: 

" Where is my brother Albert, who was taken with 
me? You have not killed him? " 

" He has not been hurt, although we are at war with 
your people," replied Bright Sun. " He is here in the 
village, and he, like you, is safe for the present. Some 
of the warriors wished to kill both you and him, but I 
have learned wisdom in these matters from your peo- 



pie. Why throw away pawns that we hold? I keep 
your brother and you as hostages." 

Dick, who had raised himself up in his eagerness, 
sank back again, relieved. He could feel that Bright 
Sun told the truth, and he had faith, too, in the man s 
power as well as his word. Yet there was another ques 
tion that he wished to ask. 

" Bright Sun," he said, " it was you, our guide, who 
led the train into the pass that all might be killed ? 

Bright Sun shrugged his shoulders, but a spark 
leaped from his eyes. 

" What would you ask of me? " he replied. " In 
your code it was cunning, but the few and small must 
fight with cunning. The little man, to confront the big 
man, needs the advantage of weapons. The Sioux make 
the last stand for the Indian race, and we strike when 
and where we can." 

The conscience of the chief was clear, so far as Dick 
could see, and there was nothing that he could say in 
reply. It was Bright Sun Mmself who resumed: 

" But I spared you and your brother. I did that 
which caused you to be absent when the others were 

" Why? " 

" Because you were different. You were not like 
the others. It may be that I pitied you, and it may be 
also that I liked you a little and you were young." 

The man s face bore no more expression than carven 
oak, but Dick was grateful. 

" I thank you, Bright Sun," he said, " and I know 
that Albert thanks you, too." 



Bright Sun nodded, and then fixed an intent gaz* 
upon Dick. 

" You and your brother escaped," he said. " That 
was nearly two years ago, and you have not gone back 
to your people. Where have you been? " 

Dick saw a deep curiosity lurking behind the intent 
gaze, but whatever he might owe to Bright Sun, he had 
no intention of gratifying it. 

1 Would you tell me where you have been in the last 
two years and all that you have done ? the chief asked. 

" I cannot answer; but you see that we have lived, 
Albert and I," Dick replied. 

* And that you have learned the virtues of silence, 
said Bright Sun. " I ask you no more about it to-day. 
Give me your word for the present that you will not 
try to escape, and your life and that of your brother 
will be the easier. It would be useless, anyhow, for you 
to make such an attempt. When you feel that you have 
a chance, you can withdraw your promise/ 

Dick laughed, and the laugh was one of genuine 
good humor. 

" That s certainly fair," he said. " Since I can t 
escape, I might as well give my promise not to try it 
for the time being. Well, I give it." 

Bright Sun nodded gravely. 

" Your brother will come in soon," he said. " He 
has already given his promise, that is, a conditional one, 
good until he can confer with you." 

"I ll confirm it," said Dick. 

Bright Sun saluted and left the great lodge. Some 
warriors near the door moved aside with the greatest 



deference to let him pass. Dick lay on his rush mat, 
gazing after him, and deeply impressed. 

When Bright Sun was gone he examined the lodge 
again. It was obvious that it was a great common hall 
or barracks for warriors, and Bright Sun s simile of the 
Spartans was correct. More warriors came in, all splen 
did, athletic young men of a high and confident bear 
ing. A few were dressed in the white man s costume, 
but most of them were in blankets, leggings, and moc 
casins, and had magnificent rows of feathers in their 
hair. Every man carried a carbine, and most of them 
had revolvers also. Such were the Akitcita or chosen 
band, and in this village of about two hundred lodges 
they numbered sixty men. Dick did not know then that 
in times of peace all guests, whether white or red, were 
entertained in the lodge of the Akitcita. 

Impressed as he had been by Bright Sun, he was 
impressed also by these warriors. Not one of them spoke 
to him or annoyed him in any manner. They went about 
their tasks, cleaning and polishing their weapons, or 
sitting on rough wooden benches, smoking pipes with a 
certain dignity that belonged to men of strength and 
courage. All around the lodge were rush mats, on which 
they slept, and near the door was a carved totem pole. 

A form darkened the doorway, and Albert came in. 
He rushed to Dick when he saw that he was conscious 
again, and shook his hand with great fervor. The war 
riors went on with their tasks or their smoking, and still 
took no notice. 

" This is a most wonderful place, Dick," exclaimed 
the impressionable Albert, and Bright Sun has treated 



us well. We can go about the village if we give a 
promise, for the time, that we ll not try to escape." 

" He s been here," said Dick, " and I ve given it." 

" Then, if you feel strong enough, let s go on and 
take a look." 

" Wait until I see if this head of mine swims 
around," said Dick. 

He rose slowly to his feet, and his bandaged head 
was dizzy at first, but as he steadied himself it became 
normal. Albert thrust out his hand to support him. It 
delighted him that he could be again of help to his older 
and bigger brother, and Dick, divining Albert s feel 
ing, let it lie for a minute. Then they went to the door, 
Dick walking quite easily, as his strength came back fast. 

The warriors of the Akitcita, of whom fully a dozen 
were now present in the great lodge, still paid no atten 
tion to the two youths, and Dick surmised that it was 
by the orders of Bright Sun. But this absolute ignor 
ing of their existence was uncanny, nevertheless. Dick 
studied some of the faces as he passed. Bold and fear 
less they were, and not without a certain nobility, but 
there was little touch of gentleness or pity, it was rather 
the strength of the wild animal, the flesh-eater, that 
seeks its prey. Sioux they were, and Sioux they would 
remain in heart, no matter what happened, wild war 
riors of the northwest. Dick perceived this fact in a 
lightning flash, but it was the lightning flash of con 

Outside the fresh air saluted Dick, mouth and nos 
trils, and the ache in his head went quite away. He 
had seen the valley by moonlight, when it was beautiful, 



but not as beautiful as their own valley, the one of 
which they would not tell to anybody. But it was full 
of interest. The village life, the life of the wild, was 
in progress all about him, and in the sunshine, amidst 
such picturesque surroundings, it had much that was 
attractive to the strong and brave. 

Dick judged correctly that the village contained 
about two hundred winter lodges of bark and poles, and 
could therefore furnish about four hundred warriors. 
It was evident, too x that it was the scene of prosperity. 
The flesh of buffalo, elk, and deer was drying in the sun, 
hanging from the trees or on little platforms of poles. 
Children played with the dogs or practiced with small 
bows and arrows. In the shadow of a tepee six old 
women sat gambling, and the two boys stopped to watch 

The Indians are more inveterate gamblers than the 
whites, and the old women, wrinkled, hideous hags of 
vast age, played their game with an intent, almost 
breathless, interest. 

They were playing Woskate Tanpan, or the game of 
dice, as it is known to the Sioux. Three women were on 
each side, and they played it with tanpan (the basket), 
kansu (the dice), and canyiwawa (the counting sticks). 
The tanpan, made of willow twigs, was a tiny basket, 
about three inches in diameter at the bottom, but broader 
at the top, and about two inches deep. Into this one 
woman would put the kansu or dice, a set of six plum 
stones, some carved and some not carved. She would 
put her hand over the tanpan, shake the kansu just as 
the white dice player does, and then throw them. out. 



The value of the throw would be according to the kind 
and number of carvings that were turned up when the 
kansu fell. 

The opposing sides, three each, sat facing each other, 
and the stakes for which they played canyiwawa (the 
counting sticks) lay between them. These were little 
round sticks about the thickness of a lead pencil, and 
the size of each heap went up or down, as fortune shifted 
back or forth. They could make the counting sticks 
represent whatever value they chose, this being agreed 
upon beforehand, and old Sioux women had been known 
to play Woskate Tanpan two days and nights without 
ever rising from their seats. 

11 What old harpies they are! " said Dick. " Did 
7011 ever see anybody so eager over anything? " 

" They are no worse than the men," replied Albert. 
" A lot of warriors are gambling, too." 

A group of the men were gathered on a little green 
farther on, and the brothers joined them, beginning to 
share at once the interest that the spectators showed in 
several warriors who were playing Woskate Painyan- 
kapi, or the game of the Wands and the Hoop. 

The warriors used in this sport canyleska (the hoop) 
and cansakala (the wands). The hoops were of ash, two 
of three feet in diameter, the ash itself being about an 
inch in diameter. Every hoop was carefully marked oftf 
into spaces, something like the face of a watch. 

Cansakala (the wands) were of chokecherry, fou* 
feet long and three fourths of an inch in diameter. One 
end of every wand was squared for a distance of about 
a foot. The wands were in pairs, the two being fas- 



tened together with buckskin thongs about nine inches 
in length, and fastened at a point about one third of 
the length of the wands from the rounded ends. 

A warrior would roll the hoop, and he was required 
to roll it straight and correctly. If he did not do so, 
the umpire made him roll it over, as in the white man s 
game of baseball the pitcher cannot get a strike until 
he pitches the ball right. 

When the hoop was rolled correctly, the opposing 
player dropped his pair of wands somewhere in front 
of it. It was his object so to calculate the speed and 
course of the hoop that when it fell it would lie upon 
his wands. If he succeeded, he secured his points ac 
cording to the spaces on each wand within which the 
hoop lay an exceedingly difficult game, requiring great 
skill of hand and judgment of eye. That it was absorb 
ing was shown by the great interest with which the spec 
tators followed it and by their eager betting. 

" I don t believe I could learn to do that in ten 
years," said Albert; " you ve got to combine too many 
things, and to combine them fast." 

" They must begin on it while they re young," said 
Dick; " but the Indian has a mind, and don t you for 
get it." 

" But they re not as we are," rejoined Albert. 
lt Nothing can ever make them so." 

Here, as in the house of the Akitcita, nobody paid 
any attention to the two boys, but Dick began to have 
a feeling that he was watched, not watched openly as 
man watches man, but in the furtive, dangerous way of 
the great wild beasts, the man-eaters. The feeling grew 



into a conviction that, despite what they were doing, 
everybody in the camp warrior, squaw, and child was 
watching Albert and him. He knew that half of this 
was fancy, but he was sure that the other half was real. 

11 Albert," he said, " I wouldn t make any break 
for liberty now, even if I hadn t given my promise. 

" Nor I," said Albert. " By the time we had gone 
ten feet the whole village would be on top of us. Dick, 
while I m here I m going to make the best of it I can." 

In pursuance of this worthy intention Albert pressed 
forward and almost took the cansakala from the hands 
of a stalwart warrior. The man, amazed at first, yielded 
up the pair of wands with a grin. Albert signaled im 
periously to the warrior with the hoop, and he, too, 
grinning, sent canyleska whirling. 

Albert cast the wands, and the hoop fell many feet 
from them. A shout of laughter arose. The white 
youth was showing himself a poor match for the Sioux, 
and the women and children came running to see this 
proof of the superiority of their race. 

The warrior from whom he had taken them gravely 
picked up cansakala and handed them back to Albert, 
the other warrior again sent canyleska rolling, and again 
Albert threw the wands with the same ill fortune. A 
third and a fourth time he tried, with but slight improve 
ment, and the crowd, well pleased to see him fail, thick 
ened all the time, until nearly the whole village was 

" It s just as hard as we thought it was, Dick, and 
harder," said Albert ruefully. " Here, you take it and 
see what you can do." 



He handed cansakala to Dick, who also tried in vain, 
while the crowd enjoyed the sport, laughing and chat 
tering to one another, as they will in their own vil 
lages. Dick made a little more progress than Albert 
had achieved, but not enough to score any points worth 
mentioning, and he, too, retired discomfited, while the 
Sioux, especially the women, continued to laugh. 

" I don t like to be beaten that way," said Albert 
in a nettled tone. 

" Never mind, Al, old fellow," said Dick soothingly. 
" Remember it s their game, not ours, and as it makes 
them feel good, it s all the better for us. Since they ve 
beaten us, they re apt to like us and treat us better." 

It was hard for Albert to take the more philosoph 
ical view, which was also the truthful one, but he did 
his best to reconcile himself, and he and Dick moved 
on to other sights. 

Dick noticed that the village had been located with 
great judgment. On one side was the river, narrow but 
swift and deep ; on the other, a broad open space that 
would not permit an enemy to approach through am 
bush, and beyond that the forest. 

The tepees stood in a great circle, and, although Dick 
did not know it, their camps were always pitched ac 
cording to rule, each gens or clan having its regular 
place in the circle. The tribe of the Mendewahkantons 
a leading one of the Seven Fireplaces or Council Fires 
of the great Sioux nation was subdivided into seven 
gentes or clans; the Kiyukas, or Breakers, so called 
because they disregarded the general marriage law and 
married outside their own clan; the Que-mini-tea, or 



Mountain Wood and Water people; the Kap oja, or 
Light Travelers; the Maxa-yuta-eui, the People who 
Eat no Grease; the Queyata-oto-we, or the People of 
the Village Back from the River; the Oyata Citca, the 
Bad Nation, and the Tita-otowe, the People of the Vil 
lage on the Prairie. 

Every clan was composed of related families, and all 
this great tribe, as the boys learned later, had once 
dwelled around Spirit Lake, Minnesota, their name 
meaning Mysterious Lake Dwellers, but had been pushed 
westward years before by the advancing wave of white 
settlement. This was now a composite village, including 
parts of every gens of the Mendewahkantons, but there 
were other villages of the same tribe scattered over a 
large area. 

When Dick and Albert reached the northern end of 
the village they saw a great number of Indian ponies, 
six or seven hundred perhaps, grazing in a wide grassy 
space and guarded by half -grown Indian boys. 

" Dick," said Albert, "if we only had a dozen of 
those we could go back and get our furs." 

11 Yes," said Dick, "if we had the ponies, if we 
knew where we are now, if we were free of the Sioux 
village, and if we could find the way to our valley, we 
might do what you say." 

11 Yes, it does take a pile of ifs, " said Albert, 
laughing, " and so I won t expect it. I ll try to be re 

So free were they from any immediate restriction 
that it almost seemed to them that they could walk away 
as they chose, up the valley and over the hills and across 



the plains. How were the Sioux to know that these two 
would keep their promised word 1 But both became con 
scious again of those watchful eyes, ferocious, like the 
eyes of man-eating wild beasts, and both shivered a little 
as they turned back into the great circle of bark tepees. 



DICK and Albert abode nearly two weeks in the 
great lodge of the Akitcita, that is, as guests^ 
although they were prisoners, whose lives might 
be taken at any time, and they had splendid opportuni 
ties for observing what a genuine Spartan band the 
Akitcita were. Everyone had his appointed place for 
arms and his rush or fur mat for sleeping. There was 
no quarreling, no unseemly chatter, always a grave and 
dignified order and the sense of stern discipline. Not 
all the Akitcita were ever present in the daytime, but 
some always were. All the tribal business was trans 
acted here. The women had to bring wood and water 
to it daily, and the entire village supplied it every day 
with regular rations of tobacco, almost the only luxury 
of the Akitcita. 

Both Dick and Albert were keenly observant, and 
they did not hesitate also to ask questions of Bright Sun 
whenever they had the chance. They learned from him 
that the different tribes of the Sioux had general coun 
cils at irregular intervals, that there was no hereditary 
rank among the chiefs, it being usually a question of 
energy and merit, although the rank was sometimes ob- 



tained by gifts, an ambitious man giving away all that 
he had for the prize. There were no women chiefs, and 
women were not admitted to the great council. 

The boys perceived, too, that much in the life of the 
Sioux was governed by ancient ritual; nearly every 
thing had its religious meaning, and both boys having 
an inherent respect for religion of any kind, were in 
constant fear lest they should violate unwillingly some 
honored law. 

The two made friendly advances to the members of 
the Akitcita, but they were received with a grave cour 
tesy that did not invite a continuance. They felt daily 
a deepening sense of racial difference. They appre 
ciated the humane treatment they had received, but they 
and the Sioux did not seem to come into touch any 
where. And this difference was accentuated in the case 
of Bright Sun. The very fact that he had been edu 
cated in their schools, that he spoke their language so 
well, and that he knew their customs seemed to widen 
the gulf between them into a sea. They felt that he had 
tasted of their life, and liked it not. 

The two, although they could not like Bright Sun, 
began to have a certain deference for him. The old 
sense of power he had created in their minds increased 
greatly, and now it was not merely a matter of mind 
and manner; all the outward signs, the obvious respect 
in which he was held by everybody and the way in 
which the eyes of warriors, as well as those of women 
and children, followed him, showed that he was a leader. 

After ten days or so in the great lodge of the Akit 
cita, Diek and Albert were removed to a small bark 



tepee of their own, to which they were content to go. 
They had no arms, not even a knife, but they were 
already used to their captivity, and however great their 
ultimate danger might be, it was too far away for them 
to think much about it. 

They observed, soon after their removal, that the life , 
of the village changed greatly. The old women were 
not often to be found in the shadow of the lodges play- 
ing Woskate Tanpan, the men gave up wholly Woskate 
Painyankapi, and throughout the village, no matter how 
stoical the Sioux might be, there was a perceptible air 
of excitement and suspense. Often at night the boys 
heard the rolling of the Sioux war drums, and the medi 
cine men made medicine incessantly inside their tepees. 
Dick chafed greatly. 

" Big things are afoot," he would say to Albert. 
" We know that the Sioux and our people are at war, 
but you and I, Al, don t know a single thing that has 
occurred. I wish we could get away from here. Our 
people are our own people, and I d like to tell them 
to look out." 

" I feel just as you do, Dick," Albert would reply; 
" but we might recall our promise to Bright Sun. Be 
sides, we wouldn t have the ghost of a chance to escape. 
I feel that a hundred eyes are looking at me all the 

" I feel that two hundred are looking at me," said 
Dick, with a grim little laugh. " No, Al, you re right. 
We haven t a chance on earth to escape." 

Five days after their removal to the small lodge 
there was a sudden and great increase in the excitement 



in the village. In truth, it burst into a wild elation, 
and all the women and children, running toward the 
northern side of the village, began to shout cries of 
welcome. The warriors followed more sedately, and 
Dick and Albert, no one detaining them, joined in the 

" Somebody s coming, Al, that s sure," said Dick. 

" Yes, and that somebody s a lot of men," said Al 
bert. "Look!" 

Three or four hundred warriors, a long line of them, 
were coming down the valley, tall, strong, silent men, 
with brilliant headdresses of feathers and bright blan 
kets. Everyone carried a carbine or rifle, and they 
looked what they were a truly formidable band, re 
solved upon some great attempt. 

Dick and Albert inferred the character of the arri 
vals from the shouts that they heard the squaws and 
children utter: " Sisseton! " " Wahpeton! " " Oga- 
lala!" "Yankton!" "Teton!" "Hunkpapa!" 

The arriving warriors, many of whom were undoubt 
edly chiefs, gravely nodded to their welcome, and came 
silently on as the admiring crowd opened to receive them. 

" It s my opinion," said Dick, " that the Seven 
Fireplaces are about to hold a grand council in the lodge 
of the Akitcita." 

" I don t think there s any doubt of it," replied 

They also heard, amidst the names of the tribes, the 
names of great warriors or medicine men, names which 
they were destined to hear many times again, both in 
Indian and English Sitting Bull, Rain-in-the-Face, Lit- 



tie Big Man, and others. Then they meant nothing to 
either Dick or Albert. 

All the chiefs, led by Bright Sun, went directly to 
the lodge of the Akitcita, and the other warriors were 
taken into the lodges of their friends, the Mendewah- 
kantons. Then the women ran to the lodges and re 
turned with the best food that the village could furnish. 
It was given to the guests, and also many pounds of 
choice tobacco. 

Dick and Albert had made no mistake in their sur 
mise. The great council of the Seven Fireplaces of the 
Sioux was in session. All that day the chiefs remained 
in the lodge of the Akitcita, and when night was far 
advanced they were still there. 

Dick and Albert shared the excitement of the vil 
lage, although knowing far less of its nature, but they 
knew that a grand council of the Seven Fireplaces would 
not be held without great cause, and they feared much 
for their people. It was a warm, close night, with a 
thin moon and flashes of heat lightning on the hilly 
horizon. Through the heavy air came the monotonous 
rolling of a war drum, and the chant of a medicine man 
making medicine in a tepee near by went on without 

The boys did not try to sleep, and, unable to stifle 
curiosity, they came from the little bark lodge. One or 
two Sioux warriors glanced at them, but none spoke. 
The Sioux knew that the village was guarded so closely 
by a ring of sentinels that a cat could not have crept 
through without being seen. The boys walked on un 
disturbed until they came near the great council lodge, 



where they stopped to look at the armed warriors stand 
ing by the door. 

The dim light and the excited imaginations of the 
boys made the lodge grow in size and assume fantastic 
shapes. So many great chiefs had come together for a 
mighty purpose, and Dick was sure that Bright Sun, 
sitting in the ring of his equals, urged on the project, 
whatever it might be, and would be the dominating fig 
ure through all. 

Although they saw nothing, they were fascinated by 
what they wished to see. The great lodge held them 
with a spell that they did not seek to break. Although 
it was past midnight, they stayed there, staring at the 
blank walls. "Warriors passed and gave them sharp 
glances, but nothing was said to them. The air re 
mained close and heavy. Heat lightning continued to 
flare on the distant hills, but no rain fell. 

The chiefs finally came forth from the great coun 
cil. There was no light for them save the cloudy skies 
and one smoking torch that a warrior held aloft, but 
the active imaginations of the two boys were again im 
pressed. Every chief seemed to show in his face and 
manner his pride of race and the savage strength that 
well became such a time and place. Some bore them 
selves more haughtily and were more brilliantly adorned 
than Bright Sun, but he was still the magnet from which 
power and influence streamed. Dick and Albert did not 
know why they knew it, but they knew it. 

The chiefs did not go away to friendly lodges, but 
after they came forth remained in a group, talking. 
Dick surmised that they had come to an agreement upon 



whatever question they debated; now they were outside 
for fresh air, and soon would return to the lodge of the 
Akitcita, which, according to custom, would shelter them 
as guests. 

Bright Sun noticed the brothers standing in the 
shadow of the lodge, and, leaving the group, he walked 
over to them. His manner did not express hostility, 
but he made upon both boys that old impression of 
power and confidence, tinged now with a certain ex 

" You would know what we have been doing? " he 
said, speaking directly to Dick, the older. 

" We don t ask," replied Dick, " but I will say this, 
Bright Sun: we believe that the thing done was tho 
thing you wished." 

Bright Sun permitted himself a little smile. 

11 You have learned to flatter," he said. 

" It was not meant as flattery," said Dick; " but 
there is something more I have to say. We wish to 
withdraw our pledge not to attempt to escape. You 
remember it was in the agreement we could withdraw 
whenever we chose." 

" That is true," said Bright Sun, giving Dick a 
penetrating look. " And so you think it is time for 
you to go? " 

" We will go, if we can," said Dick boldly. 

Bright Sun, who had permitted himself a smile a 
little while ago, now permitted himself a soft laugh. 

" You put it well," he said in his precise English, 
" * if we can. But the understanding is clear. The 
agreement is at an end. However, you will not escape. 



We need you as hostages, and I will tell you, too, that 
we leave this village and valley to-morrow. We begin 
a great march." 

" I am not surprised," said Dick. 

Bright Sun rejoined the other chiefs, and all of 
them went back into the lodge of the Akitcita, while 
Dick and Albert returned to their own little tepee. 
There, as each lay on his rush mat, they talked in 

" What meaning do you give to it, Dick? " asked 

" That all the Sioux tribes are going to make a 
mighty effort against our people, and they re going to 
make it soon. Why else are they holding this great 
council of the Seven Fireplaces? I tell you, Al, big 
things are afoot. Oh, if we could only find a chance 
to get away! " 

Albert rolled over to the door of the lodge and 
peeped out. Several warriors were pacing up and down 
in front of the rows of tepees. He rolled back to his 
rush mat. 

They ve got inside as well as outside guards now, 
he whispered. 

" I thought it likely," Dick whispered back. " Al, 
the best thing that you and I can do now is to go to 

They finally achieved slumber, but they were up 
early the next morning and saw Bright Sun s words 
come true. The village was dismantled with extraor 
dinary rapidity. Most of the lighter lodges were taken 
down, but how much of the place was left, and what 



people were left with it, the boys did not know, because 
they departed with the warriors, each riding a bridle- 
less pony. Although mounted, their chance of escape 
was not increased. Warriors were all about them, they 
were unarmed, and their ponies, uncontrolled by bridles, 
could not be made to leave their comrades. 

Dick and Albert, nevertheless, found an interest in 
this journey, wondering to what mysterious destination 
it would lead them. They heard behind them the chant 
of the old women driving the ponies that drew the bag* 
gage on poles, but the warriors around them were silent. 
Bright Sun was not visible. Dick surmised that he was 
at the head of the column. 

The clouds of the preceding night had gone away, 
and the day was cooler, although it was now summer, 
and both Dick and Albert found a certain pleasure in 
the journey. In their present state of suspense any 
change was welcome. 

They rode straight up the valley, a long and for 
midable procession, and as they went northward the de 
pression became both shallower and narrower. Finally, 
they crossed the river at a rather deep ford and rode 
directly ahead. Soon the hills and the forest that 
clothed them sank out of sight, and Dick and Albert 
were once again in the midst of the rolling immensity 
of the plains. They could judge the point of the com 
pass by the sun, but they knew nothing else of the coun 
try over which they traveled. They tried two or three 
times to open conversation with the warriors about them, 
trusting that the latter knew English, but they received 
no reply and gave up the attempt. 



" At any rate, I can talk to you, Al," said Dick 
after the last futile attempt. 

" Yes, but you can t get any information out of 
me," replied Albert with a laugh. 

The procession moved on, straight as an arrow, over 
the swells, turning aside for nothing. Some buffaloes 
were seen on the horizon, but they were permitted to 
crop the bunch grass undisturbed. No Indian hunter 
left the ranks. 

They camped that night on the open prairie, Dick 
and Albert sleeping in their blankets in the center of 
the savage group. It might have seemed to the ordi 
nary observer that there was looseness and disorder 
about the camp, but Dick was experienced enough to 
know that all the Mendewahkantons were posted in the 
circle according to their clans, and that the delegates 
were distributed with them in places of honor. 

Dick noticed, also, that no fires were built, and that 
the warriors had scrutinized the entire circle of the 
horizon with uncommon care. It could signify but one 
thing to him white people, and perhaps white troops, 
were near. If so, he prayed that they were in sufficient 
force. He was awakened in the night by voices, and 
raising himself on his elbow he saw a group of men, at 
least a hundred in number, riding into the camp. 

The latest arrivals were Sioux warriors, but of what 
tribe he could not tell. Yet it was always the Sioux 
who were coming, and it would have been obvious to 
the least observant that Dick s foreboding about a 
mighty movement was right. They were joined the next 
day by another detachment coming from the southwest, 



and rode on, full seven hundred warriors, every man 
armed with the white man s weapons, carbine or rifle 
and revolver. 

" I pity any poor emigrants whom they may meet/ 
thought Dick; but, fortunately, they met none. The 
swelling host continued its march a second day, a third, 
and a fourth through sunshiny weather, increasing in 
warmth, and over country that changed but little. Dick 
and Albert saw Bright Sun only once or twice, but he 
had nothing to say to them. The others, too, maintained 
their impenetrable silence, although they never offered 
any ill treatment. 

They were joined every day by bands of warriors, 
sometimes not more than two or three at a time, and 
again as many as twenty. They came from all points 
of the compass, but, so far as Dick and Albert could 
see, little was said on their arrival. Everything was 
understood. They came as if in answer to a call, took 
their places without ado in the savage army, and rods 
silently on. Dick saw a great will at work, and with 
it a great discipline. A master mind had provided for 
all things. 

" Al," he said to his brother, " you and I are not in 
the plan at all. We ve been out of the world two years, 
and we re just that many years behind." 

" I know it s 1876," said Albert, with some confi 
dence, but he added in confession : I ve no idea what 
month it is, although it must be somewhere near sum 

" About the beginning of June, I should think, " 
said Dick. 



An hour after this little talk the country became 
more hilly, and presently they saw trees and high bluffs 
to their right. Both boys understood the signs. They 
were approaching a river, and possibly their destination. 

"I ve a feeling, * said Dick, " that we re going to 
stop now. The warriors look as if they were getting 
ready for a rest." 

He was quickly confirmed in his opinion by the ap 
pearance of mounted Indians galloping to meet them. 
These warriors showed no signs of fatigue or a long 
march, and it was now obvious that a village was near. 

The new band greeted the force of Bright Sun with 
joy, and the stern silence was relaxed. There was much 
chattering and laughing, much asking and answering of 
questions, and soon Indian women and Indian boys, 
with little bows and arrows, came over the bluffs, and 
joining the great mounted force, followed on its flanks. 

Dick and Albert were on ponies near the head of 
the column, and their troubles and dangers were for 
gotten in their eager interest in what they were about 
to see. The feeling that a first step in a great plan was 
accomplished was in the air. They could see it in the 
cessation of the Sioux reserve and in the joyous man 
ner of the warriors, as well as the women. Even the 
ponies pricked up their heads, as if they, too, saw rest. 

The procession wound round the base of a hill, and 
then each boy uttered a little gasp. Before them lay a 
valley, about a mile wide, down the center of which 
flowed a shallow yellow river fringed with trees and 
also with undergrowth, very dense in places. But it 
was neither river nor trees that had drawn the little 



gasps from the two boys, it was an Indian village, or 
rather a great town, extending as far as they could see 
and they saw far on either side of the stream. There 
were hundreds and hundreds of lodges, and a vast scene 
of animated and varied life. Warriors, squaws, chil 
dren, and dogs moved about; smoke rose from scores 
and scores of fires, and on grassy meadows grazed ponies, 
thousands in number. 

" Why, I didn t think there was so big an Indian 
town in all the West! " exclaimed Albert. 

" Nor did I," said Dick gravely, " and I m think 
ing, Al, that it s gathered here for a purpose. It must 
be made up of all the Sioux tribes." 

Albert nodded. He knew the thought in Dick s 
mind, and he believed it to be correct. 

Chance so had it that Bright Sun at this moment 
rode near them and heard their words. Dick of late 
had surmised shrewdly that Bright Sun treated them 
well, not alone for the sake of their value as hostages, 
but for a reason personal to himself. He had been asso 
ciated long with white people in their schools, but he 
was at heart and in fact a great Sioux chief; he had 
felt the white man s assumption of racial superiority, 
and he would have these two with the white faces wit 
ness some great triumph that he intended to achieve 
over these same white people. This belief was growing 
on Dick, and it received more confirmation when Bright 
Sun said: 

" You see that the Sioux nation has many warriors 
and is mighty." 

"I see that it is so, Bright Sun," replied Dick 


frankly. " I did not know you were so numerous and 
so powerful; but bear in mind, Bright Sun, that no 
matter how many the Sioux may be, the white men are 
like the leaves of the trees thousands, tens of thou 
sands may fall, and yet only their own kin miss them/ 

But Bright Sun shook his head. 

" What you say is true," he said, " because I have 
seen and I know; but they are not here. The moun 
tains, the plains, the wilderness keep them back." 

Dick forebore a retort, because he felt that he owed 
Bright Sun something, and the chief seemed to take it 
for granted that he was silenced by logic. 

" This is the Little Big Horn River," Bright Sun 
said, " and you behold now in this village, which ex 
tends five miles on either side of it, the Seven Fireplaces 
of the Sioux. All the tribes are gathered here." 

And it is you who have gathered them, said Dick. 
He was looking straight into Bright Sun s eyes as he 
spoke, and he saw the pupils of the Sioux expand, in 
fact dilate, with a sudden overwhelming sense of power 
and triumph. Dick knew he had guessed aright, but 
the Sioux replied with restraint: 

" If I have had some small part in the doing of it, 
I feel proud." 

With that he left them, and Dick and Albert rode 
on into the valley of the river, in whatsoever direction 
their bridleless horses might carry them, although that 
direction was bound to be the one in which rode the 
group surrounding them. 

Some of the squaws and boys, who caught sight of 
Dick and Albert among the warriors, began to shout 



and jeer, but a chief sternly bade them be silent, and 
they slunk away, to the great relief of the two lads, 
who had little relish for such attentions. 

They were full in the valley now, and on one side 
of them was thick undergrowth that spread to the edge 
of the river. A few hundred yards farther the under 
growth ceased, sand taking its place. All the warriors 
turned their ponies abruptly away from one particular 
stretch of sand, and Dick understood. 

" It s a quicksand, Al," he said; " it would suck 
up pony, rider, and all." 

They left the quicksand behind and entered the vil 
lage, passing among the groups of lodges. Here they 
realized more fully than on the hills the great extent of 
the Indian town. Its inhabitants seemed a myriad to 
Dick and Albert, so long us*ed to silence and the lack of 

" How many warriors do you suppose this place 
could turn out, Dick? " asked Albert. 

11 Five thousand, but that s only a guess. It doesn t 
look much like our own valley, does it, Al ? 

" No, it doesn t," replied Albert with emphasis; 
" and I can tell you, Dick, I wish I was back there 
right now. I believe that s the finest valley the sun ever 
shone on." 

" But we had to leave sometime or other," said 
Dick, " and how could we tell that we were going to 
run into anything like this ? But it s surely a big change 
for us." 

" The biggest in the world." 

The group in which they rode continued along the 


river about two miles, and then stopped at a point where 
both valley and village were widest. A young warrior, 
speaking crude English, roughly bade them dismount, 
and gladly they sprang from the ponies. Albert fell 
over when he struck the ground, his legs were cramped 
so much by the long ride, but the circulation was soon 
restored, and he and Dick went without resistance to the 
lodge that was pointed out to them as their temporary 
home and prison. 

It was a small lodge of poles leaning toward a com 
mon center at the top, there lashed together firmly with 
rawhide, and the whole covered with skins. It contained 
only two rude mats, two bowls of Sioux pottery, and a 
drinking gourd, but it was welcome to Dick and Albert, 
who wanted rest and at the same time security from the 
fierce old squaws and the equally fierce young boys. 
They were glad enough to lie a while on the rush mats 
and rub their tired limbs. When they were fully rested 
they became very hungry. 

" I wonder if they mean to starve us to death? " 
said Albert. 

A negative answer was given in about ten minutes 
by two old squaws who appeared, bearing food, some 
venison, and more particularly wa-nsa, a favorite dish 
with the Sioux, a compound made of buffalo meat and 
wild cherries, which, after being dried, are pounded 
separately until they are very fine; then the two are 
pounded together for quite a while, after which the 
whole is stored in bladders, somewhat after the fashion 
of the white man s sausage. 

" This isn t bad at all," said Albert when he bit 


into his portion. Now, if we only had something good 
to drink. " 

Neither of the old squaws understood his words, 
but one of them answered his wish, nevertheless. She 
brought cherry-bark tea in abundance, which both found 
greatly to their liking, and they ate and drank with deep 
content. A mental cheer was added also to their phys 
ical good feeling. 

" Thanks, madam/ said Albert, when one of the 
old squaws refilled the little earthen bowl from which 
he drank the cherry-bark tea. " You are indeed kind. 
I did not expect to meet with such hospitality. " 

The Indian woman did not understand his words, 
but anybody could understand the boy s ingratiating 
smile. She smiled back at him. 

" Be careful, Al, old man," said Dick with the ut 
most gravity. " These old Indian women adopt chil 
dren sometimes, or perhaps she will want to marry you. 
In fact, I think the latter is more likely, and you can t 
help yourself." 

" Don t, Dick, don t!" said Albert imploringly. 
"I m willing to pay a high price for hospitality, but 
not that." 

The women withdrew, and after a while, when the 
boys felt fully rested, they stepped outside the lodge, 
to find two tall young Sioux warriors on guard. Dick 
looked at them inquiringly, and one of them said in 
fair English: 

" I am Lone Wolf, and this is Tall Pine. You can 
go in the village, but we go with you. Bright Sun has 
said so, and we obey." 



" All right, Mr. Lone Wolf," said Dick cheerfully. 
Four are company, two are none. We couldn t es 
cape if we tried; but if Bright Sun says that you and 
your friend Mr. Pine Tree are to be our comrades on 
our travels, well and good. I don t know any other 
couple in this camp that I d choose before you two. 

Lone Wolf and Pine Tree were young, and maybe 
their youth caused them to smile slightly at Dick s 
pleasantry. Nor did they annoy the boys with exces 
sive vigilance, and they answered many questions. It 
was, indeed, they said, the greatest village in the West 
that was now gathered on the banks of the Little Big 
Horn. Sioux from all the tribes had come including those 
on reservations. All the clans of the Mendewahkantons, 
for instance, were represented on the reservations, but 
all of them were represented here, too. 

It was a great war that was now going on, they said, 
and they had taken many white scalps, but they inti 
mated that those they had taken were few in comparison 
with the number they would take. Dick asked them of 
their present purpose, but here they grew wary. The 
white soldiers might be near or they might be far, but 
the god of the Sioux was Wakantaka, the good spirit, 
and the god of the white man was Wakansica, the bad 

Dick did not consider it worth while to argue with 
them. Indeed, he was in no position to do so. The his- 
tory of the world in the last two years was a blank to 
him and Albert. But he observed throughout the vast 
encampment the same air of expectancy and excitement 
that had been noticeable in the smaller Tillage. He also 



saw a group of warriors arrive, their ponies loaded with 
repeating rifles, carbines, and revolvers. He surmised 
that they had been obtained from French-Canadian 
traders, and he knew well for what they were meant. 
Once again he made his silent prayer that if the white 
soldiers came they could come in great force. 

Dick observed in the huge village all the signs of an 
abundant and easy life, according to Sioux standards. 
Throughout its confines kettles gave forth the odors 
pleasing to an Indian s nostrils. Boys broiled strips of 
venison on twigs before the fires. Squaws were jerking 
buffalo and deer meat in a hundred places, and strings 
of fish ready for the cooking hung before the lodges. 
Plenty showed everywhere. 

Dick understood that if one were really a wild man, 
with all the instincts of a wild man inherited through 
untold centuries of wild life, he could find no more 
pleasing sight than this great encampment abounding 
in the good things for wild men that the plains, hills, 
and water furnished. He saw it readily from the point 
of view of the Sioux and could appreciate their con 

Albert, who was a little ahead of Dick, peered be 
tween two lodges, and suddenly turned away with a 
ghastly face. 

" What s the trouble, Al? " asked Dick. 

" I saw a warrior passing on the other side of those 
lodges," replied Albert, " and he had something at his 
belt the yellow hair of a white man, and there was 
blood on it." 

" We have taken many scalps already," interrupted 


the young Sioux, Lone Wolf, some pride showing in hie 

Both Dick and Albert shuddered and were silent. 
The gulf between these men and themselves widened 
again into a sea. Their thoughts could not touch those 
of the Sioux at any point. 

" I think we d better go back to our own lodge," 
said Dick. 

"No," said Lone Wolf. " The great chief, Bright 
Sun, has commanded us when we return to bring you 
into his presence, and it is time for us to go to him. ; 

" What does he want with us? " asked Albert. 

" He knows, but I do not/ replied Lone Wolf sen- 

" Lead on," said Dick lightly. " Here, we go wheF- 
ever we are invited." 

They walked back a full mile, and Lone Wolf and 
Pine Tree led the way to a great lodge, evidently one 
used by the Akitcita, although Dick judged that in so 
great a village as this, which was certainly a fusion of 
many villages, there must be at least a dozen lodges of 
the Akitcita. 

Lone Wolf and Pine Tree showed Dick and Albert 
into the door, but they themselves remained outside. 
The two boys paused just inside the door until their 
eyes became used to the half gloom of the place. Before 
them stood a dozen men, all great chiefs, and in the 
center was Bright Sun, the dominating presence. 

Despite their natural courage and hardihood and the 
wild life to which they had grown used, Dick and Al 
bert were somewhat awed by the appearance of these 



men, every one of whom was of stern presence, looking 
every inch a warrior. They had discarded the last parti 
cle of the white man s attire, keeping only the white 
man s deadly weapons, the repeating rifle and revolver. 
Every one wore, more or less loosely folded about him, 
a robe of the buffalo, and in all cases the inner side of 
this robe was painted throughout in the most vivid 
manner with scenes from the hunt or warpath, chiefly 
those that had occurred in the life of the wearer. Many 
colors were used in these paintings, but mostly those of 
cardinal dyes, red and blue being favorites. 

" These," said Bright Sun, speaking more directly 
to Dick, " are mighty chiefs of the Sioux Nation. This 
is Ta Sun Ke Ka-Kipapi-Hok silan ( Young-Man- Afraid- 

He nodded toward a tall warrior, who made a slight 
and grave inclination. 

" I d cut out at least half of that name," said Dick 
under his breath. 

" And this," continued Bright Sun in his meas 
ured, precise English, " is Ite-Moga Ju (Rain-in-the- 
Face), and this Kun-Sun ka (Crow Dog), and this 
Pizi (Gall), and this Peji (Grass)." 

Thus he continued introducing them, giving to every 
one his long Indian appellation, until all were named. 
The famous Sitting Bull (Tatanka Yotanka) was not 
present. Dick learned afterwards that he was at that 
very moment in his own tepee making medicine. 

" What we wish to know," said Bright Sun" and 
we have ways to make you tell us is whether you saw 
the white troops before we took you? " 



Dick shivered a little. He knew what Bright Sun 
meant by the phrase * we have ways to make you tell, 
and he knew also that Bright Sun would be merciless 
if mercy stood in the way of getting what he wished. 
No shred of the white man s training was now left 
about the Indian chief save the white man s speech. 

I have not seen a white man in two years, replied 
Dick, " nor has my brother. We told you the truth 
when you took us." 

Bright Sun was silent for a space, regarding him 
with black eyes seeking to read every throb of his heart. 
Dick was conscious, too, that the similar gaze of all the 
others was upon him. But he did not flinch. Why 
should he ? He had told the truth. 

" Then I ask you again," said Bright Sun, " where 
have you been all this time? " 

" I cannot tell you," replied Dick. " It is a place 
that we wish to keep secret. It is hidden far from here. 
But it is one to which no one else goes. I can say that 

Rain-in-the-Face made an impatient movement, and 
said some words in the Sioux tongue. Dick feared it 
was a suggestion that he be put to the torture, and he 
was glad when Bright Sun shook his head. 

" There are such places," said Bright Sun, " be 
cause the mountains are high and vast and but few 
people travel among them. It may be that he tells the 

It is the truth. I swear it ! " said Dick earnestly. 

" Then why do you refuse to tell of this place! " 
asked Bright Sun. 



" Because we wish to keep it for ourselves/ replied 
Dick frankly. 

The faintest trace of a smile was visible in Bright 
Sun s eyes. 

" Wherever it may be it belongs to us," said the 
chief; " but I believe that you are telling the truth. 
Nor do I hesitate to tell you that we have asked these 
questions because we wish to learn all that we can. The 
soldiers of your people are advancing under the yellow- 
haired general, Ouster, Terry, Gibbon, and others. They 
come in great force, but the Sioux, in greater force and 
more cunning, will destroy them." 

Dick was silent. He knew too little to make any 
reply to the statements of Bright Sun. Rain-in-the-Face 
and Crazy Horse spoke to Bright Sun, and they seemed 
to be urging something. But the chief again shook his 
head, and they, too, became silent. It was obvious to 
both the boys that his influence was enormous. 

You can go, he said to Dick and Albert, and they 
gladly left the lodge. Outside, Lone Wolf and Pine 
Tree fell in on either side of them and escorted them to 
their own tepee, in front of which they stood guard 
while the boys slept that night. 



DICK and Albert remained in their tepee through* 
out the next morning, but in the afternoon 
they were allowed to go in the village a second 
time. Lone Wolf and Pine Tree, who had slept in the 
morning, were again their guards. Both saw at once 
that some great event was at hand. The excitement in 
the village had increased visibly, and a multitude was 
pouring toward a certain point, a wide, grassy plain 
beside the Little Big Horn. Lone Wolf and Pine Tree 
willingly took the captives with the crowd, and the two 
boys looked upon a sight which few white men have 
beheld in all its savage convulsions. 

The wide, grassy space before them had been care 
fully chosen by the great medicine men of the nation, 
Sitting Bull at their head. Then the squaws had put 
up a great circular awning, like a circus tent, with part 
of the top cut out. This awning was over one hundred 
and fifty feet in diameter. After this, the medicine 
men had selected a small tree, which was cut down by a 
young, unmarried squaw. Then the tree, after it had 
been trimmed of all its branches and consecrated and 
prayed over by the medicine men, was erected in the 



center of the inclosed space, rising from the ground to 
a height of about twenty feet. 

To the top of the pole were fastened many long 
thongs of rawhide reaching nearly to the ground, and 
as Dick and Albert looked a swarm of young men in 
strange array, or rather lack of array, came forth from 
among the lodges and entered the inclosed space. Dick 
had some dim perception of what was about to occur, 
but Lone Wolf informed him definitely. 

11 The sun dance/ he said. " Many youths are 
about to become great warriors." 

The greatest of sun dances, a sun dance of the mighty 
allied Sioux tribes, was about to begin. Forward went 
the neophytes, every one clad only in a breechclout 
ornamented with beads, colored horsehair and eagle 
feathers, and with horse tails attached to it, falling to 
the ground. But every square inch of the neophyte s 
skin was painted in vivid and fantastic colors. Even 
the nails on his fingers and toes were painted. More 
over, everyone had pushed two small sticks of tough 
wood under the skin on each side of the breast, and to 
these two sticks was fastened a rawhide cord, making a 
loop about ten inches long. 

" "What under the sun are those sticks and cords 
for? " asked Albert, shuddering. 

" "Wait and we ll see," replied Dick, who guessed 
too well their purpose, although he could not help but 

The neophytes advanced, and every one tied one of 
the long rawhide thongs depending from the top of the 
pole to the loop of cord that hung from his breast. 



When all were ready they formed a great circle, some 
what after the fashion of the dancers around a May 
pole, and outside of these formed another and greater 
circle of those already initiated. 

A medicine man began to blow a small whistle made 
from the wing bone of an eagle, the sacred bird of the 
Sioux, and he never stopped blowing it for an instant. 
It gave forth a shrill, penetrating sound, tha>t began 
after a while to work upon the nerves in a way that 
was almost unendurable to Dick and Albert. 

At the first sound of the whistle the warriors began 
to dance around the pole, keeping time to the weird 
music. It was a hideous and frightful dance, like 
some cruel rite of a far-off time. The object was to tear 
the peg from the body, breaking by violence through 
the skin and flesh that held it, and this proved that the 
neophyte by his endurance of excessive pain was fit to 
become a great warrior. 

But the pegs held fast for a long time, while the 
terrible, wailing cry of the whistle went on and on. 
Dick and Albert wanted to turn away in fact, they 
had a violent impulse more than once to run from it 
but the eyes of the Sioux were upon them, and they 
knew that they would consider them cowards if they 
could not bear to look upon that which others no older 
than themselves endured. There was also the incessant, 
terrible wailing of the whistle, which seemed to charm 
them and hold them. 

The youths by and by began to pull loose from the 
thongs, and in some cases where it was evident that 
they would not be able to do so a medicine man wottld 



seize them by the shoulders and help pull. In no case 
did a dancer give up, although they often fell in a faint 
when loosed. Then they were carried away to be re 
vived, but for three days and three nights not a single 
neophyte could touch food, water, or any other kind of 
drink. They were also compelled, as soon as they re 
covered a measurable degree of strength, to join the 
larger group and dance three days and nights around 
the neophytes, who successively took their places. 

The whole sight, with the wailing of the whistle, the 
ghouts of the dancers, the beat of their feet, and the 
hard, excited breathing of the thousands about them, 
became weird and uncanny. Dick felt as if some 
strange, deadly odor had mounted to his brain, and 
while he struggled between going and staying a new 
shout arose. 

A fresh group of neophytes sprang into the inclosed 
place. Every one of these had the little sticks thrust 
through the upper point of the shoulder blade instead 
of the breast, while from the loop dangled a buffalo 
head. They danced violently until the weight of the 
head pulled the sticks loose, and then, like their breth 
ren of the pole, joined the great ring of outside dancers 
when they were able. 

The crowd of neophytes increased, as they gave way 
in turn to one another, and the throng about them 
thickened. Hundreds and hundreds of dancers whirled 
and jumped to the shrill, incessant blowing of the eagle- 
bone whistle. It seemed at times to the excited imag 
inations of Dick and Albert that the earth rocked to 
the mighty tread of the greatest of all sun dances. 



Indian stoicism was gone, perspiration streamed from 
dark faces, eyes became bloodshot as their owners 
danced with feverish vigor, savage shouts burst forth, 
and the demon dance grew wilder and wilder. 

The tread of thousands of feet caused a fine, impal 
pable dust to rise from the earth beneath the grass and 
to permeate all the air, filling the eyes and nostrils of 
the dancers, heating their brains and causing them to 
see through a red mist. Some fell exhausted. If they 
were in the way, they were dragged to one side; if 
not, they lay where they fell, but in either case others 
took their places and the whirling multitude always in 
creased in numbers. 

As far as Dick and Albert could see the Sioux were 
dancing. There was a sea of tossing heads and a multi 
tude of brown bodies shining with perspiration. Never 
for a moment did the shrill, monotonous, unceasing 
rhythm of the whistle cease to dominate the dance. It 
always rose above the beat of the dancers, it penetrated 
everything, ruled everything this single, shrill note, 
like the chant of the snake charmer. It even showed its 
power over Dick and Albert. They felt their nerves 
throbbing to it in an unwilling response, and the dust 
and the vivid electric excitement of the dancers began 
to heat their own brains. 

" Don t forget that we re white, Al! Don t forget 
it! " cried Dick. 

* 1 I m trying not to forget it ! gasped Albert. 

The sun, a lurid, red sun, went down behind the 
hills, and a twilight that seemed to Dick and Albert 
phantasmagorial and shot with red crept over the earth. 



But the dance did not abate in either vigor or excite 
ment ; rather it increased. In the twilight and the dark 
ness that followed it assumed new aspects of the weird 
and uncanny. Despite the torches that flared up, the 
darkness was mainly in control. Now the dancers, 
whirling about the pole and straining on the cords, were 
seen plainly, and now they were only shadows, phan 
toms in the dusk. 

Dick and Albert had moved but little for a long 
time; the wailing of the demon whistle held them, and 
they felt that there was a singular attraction, too, in 
this sight, which was barbarism and superstition pure 
and simple, yet not without its power. They were still 
standing there when the moon came out, throwing a 
veil of silver gauze over the dancers, the lodges, the 
surface of the river, and the hills, but it took nothing 
away from the ferocious aspect of the dance ; it was still 
savagery, the custom of a remote, fierce, old world. 
Dick and Albert at last recovered somewhat ; they threw 
off the power of the flute and the excited air that they 
breathed and began to assume again the position of 
mere spectators. 

It was then that Bright Sun came upon them, and 
they noticed with astonishment that he, the product of 
the white schools and of years of white civilization, had 
been dancing, too. There was perspiration on his face, 
his breath was short and quick, and his eyes were red 
with excitement. He marked their surprise, and said : 

" You think it strange that I, too, dance. Yom think 
all this barbarism and superstition, but it is not. It is 
the custom of my people, a custom that has the sanction 



of many centuries, and that is bred into our bone and 
blood. Therefore it is of use to us, and it is more fit 
than anything else to arouse us for the great crisis that 
we are to meet." 

Neither Dick nor Albert made any reply. Both saw 
that the great deep of the Sioux chief s stoicism was for 
the moment broken up. He might never be so stirred 
again, but there was no doubt of it now, and they could 
see his side of it, too. It was his people and their cus 
toms against the white man, the stranger. The blood 
of a thousand years was speaking in him. 

When he saw that they had no answer for him, 
Bright Sun left them and became engrossed once more 
with the dance, continually urging it forward, bringing 
on more neophytes, and increasing the excitement. Dick 
and Albert remained a while longer, looking on. Their 
guards, Lone Wolf and Pine Tree, still stood beside 
them. The two young warriors, true to their orders, 
had made no effort to join the dancers, but their nos 
trils were twitching and their eyes bloodshot. The 
revel called to them incessantly, but they could not go. 

Dick felt at last that he had seen enough of so wild 
a scene. One could not longer endure the surcharged 
air, the wailing of the whistle, the shouts, the chants, 
and the beat of thousands of feet. 

" Al," he said, " let s go back to our lodge, if onr 
guards will let us, and try to sleep." 

" The sooner the better," said Albert. 

Lone Wolf and Pine Tree were willing enough, and 
Dick suspected that they would join the dance later. 
After Albert had gone in, he stood a moment at the 



door of the lodge and looked again npon this, the wild 
est and most extraordinary scene that he had yet beheld. 
It was late in the night and the center of the sun dance 
was some distance from the lodge, but the shrill wailing 
of the whistle still reached him and the heavy tread of 
the dancers came in a monotonous rhythm. " It s the 
greatest of all nightmares, he said to himself. 

It was a long time before either Dick or Albert could 
sleep, and when Dick awoke at some vague hour be 
tween midnight and morning he was troubled by a 
shrill, wailing note that pierced the drum of his ear. 
Then he remembered. The whistle ! And after it came 
the rhythmic, monotonous beat of many feet, as steady 
and persistent as ever. The sun dance had never ceased 
for a moment, and he fell asleep again with the sounds 
of it still in his ear. 

The dance, which was begun at the ripening of the 
wild sage, continued three days and nights without the 
stop of an instant. No food and no drink passed the 
lips of the neophytes, who danced throughout that time 
if they fell they rose to dance again. Then at the 
appointed hour it all ceased, although every warrior s 
brain was at white heat and he was ready to go forth at 
once against a myriad enemies. It was as if everyone 
had drunk of some powerful and exciting Eastern drug. 

The dance ended, they began to eat, and neither 
Dick nor Albert had ever before seen such eating. The 
cooking fires of the squaws rose throughout the entire 
five miles of the village. They had buffalo, deer, bear, 
antelope, and smaller game in abundance, and the war 
riors ate until they fell upon the ground, where they 



lay in a long stupor. The boys thought that many of 
them would surely die, but they came from their stupor 
unharmed and were ready for instant battle. There 
were many new warriors, too, because none had failed 
at the test, and all were eager to show their valor. 

It s like baiting a wild beast, said Dick. There 
are five thousand ravening savages here, ready to fight 
anything, and to-night I m going to try to escape. " 

" If you try, I try, too," said Albert. 

Of course, said Dick. 

The village was resting from its emotional orgy, and 
the guard upon the two boys was relaxed somewhat. In 
fact, it seemed wholly unnecessary, as they were rimmed 
around by the vigilance of many thousand eyes. But, 
spurred by the cruel need, Dick resolved that they 
should try. Fortunately, the very next night was quite 
dark, and only a single Indian, Pine Tree, was on guard. 

" It s to-night or never," whispered Dick to Al 
bert within the shelter of the lodge. " They ve never 
taken the trouble to bind us, and that gives us at least 
a fighting chance. 

" When shall we slip out? " 

" Not before about three in the morning. That is 
the most nearly silent hour, and if the heathenish curs 
\et us alone we may get away." 

Fortune seemed to favor the two. The moon did not 
eome out, and the promise of a dark night was fulfilled. 
An unusual stillness was over the village. It seemed 
that everybody slept. Dick and Albert waited through 
long, long hours. Dick had nothing by which to reckon 
time, but he believed that he could calculate fairly well 



by guess, and once, when he thought it was fully mid 
night, he peeped out at the door of the lodge. Pine 
Tree was there, leaning against a sapling, hut his atti 
tude showed laziness and a lack of vigilance. It might 
be that, feeling little need of watching, he slept on his 
feet. Dick devoutly hoped so. He waited at least two 
hours longer, and again peeped out. The attitude of 
Pine Tree had not changed. It must certainly be sleep 
that held him, and Dick and Albert prepared to go 
forth. They had no arms, and could trust only to 
silence and speed. 

Dick was the first outside, and stood in the shadow 
of the lodge until Albert joined him. There they paused 
to choose a way among the lodges and to make a further 
inspection of sleeping Pine Tree. 

The quiet of the village was not broken. The lodges 
stretched away in dusky rows and then were lost in 
darkness. This promised well, and their eyes came 
back to Pine Tree, who was still sleeping. Then Dick 
became conscious of a beam of light, or rather two 
beams. These beams shot straight from the open eyes 
of Pine Tree, who was not asleep at all. The next in 
stant Pine Tree opened his mouth, uttered a yell that 
was amazingly loud and piercing, and leaped straight 
for the two boys. 

As neither Dick nor Albert had arms, they could 
do nothing but run, and they fled between the lodges 
at great speed, Pine Tree hot upon their heels. It 
amazed Dick to find that the whole population of a 
big town could awake so quickly. Warriors, squaws, 
and children swarmed from the lodges and fell upon 



him and Albert in a mass. He could only see in the 
darkness that Albert had been seized and dragged 
away, but he knew that two uncommonly strong old 
squaws had him by the hair, three half-grown boys 
were clinging to his legs, and a powerful warrior laid 
hold of his right shoulder. He deemed it wisest in such 
a position to yield as quickly and gracefully as he 
could, in the hope that the two wiry old women would 
be detached speedily from his hair. This object was 
achieved as soon as the Sioux saw that he did not re 
sist, and the vigilant Pine Tree stood before him, watch 
ing, with an expression that Dick feared could be called 
a grin. 

11 The honors are yours, " said Dick as politely as 
he could, but tell me what has become of my brother. 

" He is being taken to the other side of the river/ 1 
said the voice of Bright Sun over Pine Tree s shoulder, 
" and he and you will be kept apart until we decide 
what to do with you. It was foolish in you to attempt 
to escape. I had warned you." 

" I admit it," said Dick, " but you in my place 
would have done the same. One can only try. 

He tried to speak with philosophy, but he was sorely 
troubled over being separated from his brother. Their 
comradeship in captivity had been a support to each 

There was no sympathy in the voice of Bright Sun. 
He spoke coldly, sternly, like a great war chief. Dick 
understood, and was too proud to make any appeal. 
Bright Sun said a few words to the warriors, and 
walked away. 


Dick was taken to another and larger lodge, in 
which several warriors slept. There, after his arms 
were securely bound, he was allowed to lie down on a 
rush mat, with warriors on rush mats on either side -of 
him. Dick was not certain whether the warriors slept, 
but he knew that he did not close his eyes again that 

Although strong and courageous, Dick Howard suf 
fered much mental torture. Bright Sun was a Sioux, 
wholly an Indian (he had seen that at the sun dance), 
and if Albert and he were no longer of any possible 
use as hostages, Bright Sun would not trouble himself 
to protect them. He deeply regretted their wild at 
tempt at escape, which he had felt from the first was 
almost hopeless. Yet he believed, on second thought, 
that they had been justified in making the trial. The 
great sun dance, the immense gathering of warriors 
keyed for battle, showed the imminent need of warning 
to the white commanders, who would not dream that the 
Sioux were in such mighty force. Between this anxiety 
and that other one for Albert, thinking little of himself 
meanwhile, Dick writhed in his bonds. But he could do 
nothing else. 

The warriors rose from their rush mats at dawn and 
ate flesh of the buffalo and deer and their favorite 
wa-nsa. Dick s arms were unbound, and he, too, was 
allowed to eat; but he had little appetite, and when the 
warriors saw that he had finished they bound him 

cc What are you poms to do to me? " asked Dick 
in a kind of vague curiosity. 



No one gave any answer. They did not seem to 
hear him. Dick fancied that some of them understood 
English, but chose to leave him in ignorance. He re 
solved to imitate their own stoicism and wait. When 
they bound his arms again, and his feet also, he made 
no resistance, but lay down quietly on the rush mat and 
gazed with an air of indifference at the skin wall of the 
lodge. All the warriors went out, except one, who sat 
in the doorway with his rifle on his knee. 

" They flatter me," thought Dick. " They must 
think me of some importance or that I m dangerous, 
since they bind and guard me so well. 

His thongs of soft deerskin, while secure, were not 
galling. They neither chafed nor prevented the circu 
lation, and when he grew tired of lying in one position 
he could turn into another. But it was terribly hard 
waiting. He did not know what was before him. Tor 
ture or death? Both, most likely. He tried to be re 
signed, but how could one be resigned when one was so 
young and so strong? The hum of the village life came 
to him, the sound of voices, the tread of feet, the twang 
of a boyish bowstring, but the guard in the doorway 
never stirred. It seemed to Dick that the Sioux, who 
wore very little clothing, was carved out of reddish- 
brown stone. Dick wondered if he would ever move, 
and lying on his back he managed to raise his head a 
little on the doubled corner of the rush mat, and 
watched that he might see. 

Bound, helpless, and shut off from the rest of tne 
world, this question suddenly became vital to him: 
Would that Indian ever move, or would he not? He 



must have been sitting in that position at least two 
hours. Always he stared straight before him, the mus 
cles on his bare arms never quivered in the slightest, 
and the rifle lay immovable across knees which also were 
bare. How could he do it? How could he have such 
control over his nerves and body? Dick s mind slowly 
filled with wonder, and then he began to have a suspi 
cion that the Sioux was not real, merely some phantom 
of the fancy, or that he himself was dreaming. It made 
him angry angry at himself, angry at the Sioux, angry 
at everything. He closed his eyes, held them tightly 
shut for five minutes, and then opened them again. 
The Sioux was still there. Dick was about to break 
through his assumed stoicism and shout at the warrior, 
but he checked himself, and with a great effort took 
control again of his wandering nerves. 

He knew now that the warrior was real, and that 
he must have moved some time or other, but he did not 
find rest of spirit. A shaft of sunshine by and by en 
tered the narrow door of the lodge and fell across Dick 
himself. He knew that it must be a fair day, but he 
was sorry for it. The sun ought not to shine when he 
was at such a pass. 

Another interminable period passed, and an old 
squaw entered with a bowl of wa-nsa, and behind her 
came Lone Wolf, who unbound Dick. 

" What s up now, Mr. Lone Wolf? " asked Dick 
with an attempt at levity. " Is it a fight or a foot 
race? " 

" Eat/ replied Lone Wolf sententiously, pointing 
of the bowl of wa-nsa. " You will need your strength. " 



Dick s heart fell at these words despite all his self- 
command. " My time s come," he thought. He tried 
to eat in fact, he forced himself to eat that Lone 
Wolf might not think that he quailed, and when he had 
eaten as much as his honor seemed to demand he 
stretched his muscles and said to Lone Wolf, with a 
good attempt at indifference: 

11 Lead on, my wolfish friend. I don t know what 
kind of a welcome mine is going to be, but I suppose it 
is just as well to find out now." 

The face of Lone Wolf did not relax. He seemed to 
have a full appreciation of what was to come and no 
time for idle jests. He merely pointed to the doorway, 
and Dick stepped out into the sunshine. Lying so long 
in the dusky lodge, he was dazzled at first by the 
brilliancy of the day, but when his sight grew stronger 
he beheld a multitude about him. The women and 
children began to chatter, but the warriors were silent. 
Dick saw that he was the center of interest, and was 
quite sure that he was looking upon his last sun. " 
Lord, let me die bravely ! was his silent prayer. 

He resolved to imitate as nearly as he could the 
bearing of an Indian warrior in his position, and made 
no resistance as Lone Wolf led him on, with the great 
throng following. He glanced around once for Bright 
Sun, but did not see him. The fierce chief whom they 
called Ite-Moga Ju (Rain-in-the-Faee) seemed to be in 
charge of Dick s fate, and he directed the proceedings. 

But stoicism could not prevail entirely, and Dick 
looked about him again. He saw the yellow waters of 
the river with the sunlight playing upon them; the 



great village stretching away on either shore until it 
was hidden by the trees and undergrowth; the pleasant 
hills and all the pleasant world, so hard to leave. His 
eyes dwelt particularly upon the hill, a high one, over 
looking the whole valley of the Little Big Horn, and the 
light was so clear that he could see every bush and 
shrub waving there. 

His eyes came back from the hill to the throng about 
him. He had felt at times a sympathy for the Sioux 
because the white man was pressing upon them, driving 
them from their ancient hunting grounds that they 
loved; but they were now wholly savage and cruel- 
men, women, and children alike. He hated them all. 

Dick was taken to the summit of one of the lower 
hills, on which he could be seen by everybody and from 
which he could see in a vast circle. He was tied in a 
peculiar manner. His hands remained bound behind 
him, but his feet were free. One end of a stout rawhide 
was secured around his waist and the other around a 
sapling, leaving him a play of about a half yard. He 
could not divine the purpose of this, but he was soon to 

Six half-grown boys, with bows and arrows, then 
seldom used by grown Sioux, formed in a line at a little 
distance from him, and at a word from Rain-in-the- 
Face leveled their bows and fitted arrow to the string. 
Dick thought at first they were going to slay him at 
once, but he remembered that the Indian did not do 
things that way. He knew it was some kind of torture, 
and although he shivered he steadied his mind to face it. 

Kain-in-the-Face spoke again, and six bowstrings 


twanged. Six arrows whizzed by Dick, three on one 
side and three on the other, but all so close that, despite 
every effort of the will, he shrank back against the sap 
ling. A roar of laughter came from the crowd, and 
Pick flushed through all the tan of two years in the 
open air. Now he understood why the rawhide allowed 
him so much play. It was a torture of the nerves and 
of the mind. They would shoot their arrows by him, 
graze him perhaps if he stood steady, but if he sought 
to evade through fear, if he sprang either to one side or 
the other, they might strike in a vital spot. 

He summoned up the last ounce of his courage, put 
his back against the sapling and resolved that he would 
not move, even if an arrow carried some of his skin with 
it. The bowstrings twanged again, and again six ar 
rows whistled by. Dick quivered, but he did not move, 
and some applause came from the crowd. Although it 
was the applause of enemies, of barbarians, who wished 
to see him suffer, it encouraged Dick. He would endure 
everything and he would not look at these cruel faces; 
so he fixed his eyes on the high hill and did not look 
away when the bowstrings twanged a third time. As 
before, he heard the arrows whistle by him, and the 
shiver came into his blood, but his will did not let it 
extend to his body. He kept his eyes fixed upon the 
hill, and suddenly a speck appeared before them. No, 
it was not a speck, and, incredible as it seemed, Dick 
was sure that he saw a horseman come around the base 
of the hill and stop there, gazing into the valley upon 
the great village and the people thronging about the 
bound boy. 



A second and a third horseman appeared, and Dick 
could doubt no longer. They were white cavalrymen 
in the army uniform, scouts or the vanguard, he knew 
not what. Dick held his breath, and again that shiver 
came into his blood. Then he heard and saw an ex 
traordinary thing. A singular deep, long-drawn cry 
came from the multitude in unison, a note of surprise 
and mingled threat. Then all whirled about at the same 
moment and gazed at the horsemen at the base of the 

The cavalrymen quickly turned back, rode around 
the hill and out of sight. Dozens of warriors rushed 
forward, hundreds ran to the lodges for more weapons 
and ammunition, the women poured in a stream down 
toward the river and away, the boys with the bows and 
arrows disappeared, and in a few minutes Dick was left 

Unnoticed, but bound and helpless, the boy stood 
there on the little hill, while the feverish life, bursting 
now into a turbulent stream, whirled and eddied around 



THE quiver in Dick s blood did not cease now. 
He forgot for the time being that he was bound, 
and stood there staring at the hill where three 
horsemen had been for a few vivid moments. These 
men must be proof that a white army was near; but 
would this army know what an immense Sioux force was 
waiting for it in the valley of the Little Big Horn ? 

He tried to take his eyes away from the hill, but he 
could not. He seemed to know every tree and shrub on 
it. There at the base, in that slight depression, the 
three horsemen had stood, but none came to take their 
place. In the Indian village an immense activity was 
going on, both on Dick s side of the river and the 
other. A multitude of warriors plunged into the under 
growth on the far bank of the stream, where they lay 
hidden, while another multitude was gathering on this 
side in front of the lodges. The gullies and ravines 
were lined with hordes. The time was about two in the 

A chief appeared on the slope not far from Dick. It 
was Bright Sun in all the glory of battle array, and he 
glanced at the tethered youth. Dick s glance met his. 



and he saw the shadow of a faint, superior smile on the 
face of the chief. Bright Sun started to say something 
to a warrior, but checked himself. He seemed to think 
that Dick was secured well enough, and he did not look 
at him again. Instead, he gazed at the base of the hill 
where the horsemen had been, and while he stood there 
he was joined by the chiefs Rain-in-the-Face and Young- 
Man- Afraid-of-His-Horses. 

Dick never knew how long a time passed while they 
all waited. The rattle of arms, the shouts, and the 
tread of feet in the village ceased. There was an in 
tense, ominous silence broken only, whether in fact or 
fancy Dick could not tell, by the heavy breathing of 
thousands. The sun came out more brightly and poured 
its light over the town and the river, but it did not 
reveal the army of the Sioux swallowed up in the un 
dergrowth on the far bank. So well were they hidden 
that their arms gave back no gleam. 

Dick forgot where he was, forgot that he was bound, 
so tense were the moments and so eagerly did he watch 
the base of the hill. When a long time at least, Dick 
thought it so had passed, a murmur came from the vil 
lage below. The men were but scouts and had gone 
away, and no white army was near. That was Dick s 
own thought, too. 

As the murmur sank, Dick suddenly straightened 
up. The black speck appeared again before his eyes. 
New horsemen stood where the three had been, and be 
hind them was a moving mass, black in the sun. The 
white army had come ! 

Bright Sun suddenly turned upon Dick a glance 


so full of malignant triumph that the boy shuddered 
Then, clear and full over the valley rose the battle cry 
of the trumpets, a joyous, inspiring sound calling men 
on to glory or death. Out from the hill came the 
moving mass of white horsemen, rank after rank, and 
Dick saw one in front, a man with long yellow hair, 
_natch off his hat, wave it around his head, and come on 
at a gallop. Behind him thundered the whole army, 
stirrup to stirrup. 

Bright Sun, Rain-in-the-Face, and Young-Man- 
Afraid-of-His-Horses darted away, and then Dick 
thought of the freedom that he wanted so much. They 
were his people coming so gallantly down the valley, 
and he should be there. He pulled at the rawhide, but 
it would not break; he tried to slip his wrists loose, 
but they would not come ; and, although unnoticed now, 
he was compelled to stand there, still a prisoner, and 
merely see. 

The horsemen came on swiftly, a splendid force rid 
ing well trained soldiers, compact of body and ready 
of hand. The slope thundered with their hoofbeats as 
they came straight toward the river. Dick drew one 
long, deep breath of admiration, and then a terrible fear 
Assailed him. Did these men who rode so well know 
"mto what they were riding? 

The stillness prevailed yet a little longer in the 
Indian village. The women and children were again 
running up the river, but they were too far away for 
Dick to hear them, and he was watching his own army. 
Straight on toward the river rode the horsemen, with 
the yellow-haired general at their head, still waving bia 



hat. Strong and mellow, the song of the trumpet again 
sang over the valley, but the terrible fear at Dick s 
heart grew. 

It was obvious to the boy that the army of Ouster 
intended to cross the river, here not more than two 
feet deep, but on their flank was the deadly quicksand 
and on the opposite shore facing them the hidden war 
riors lay in hundreds. Dick pulled again at his bonds 
and began to shout : Not there ! Not there ! Turn 
away! " But his voice was lost in the pealing of the 
trumpets and the hoof beats of many horses. 

They were nearing the river and the warriors were 
swarming on their flank, still held in leash by Bright 
Sun, while the great medicine man, Sitting Bull, the 
sweat pouring from his face, was making the most pow 
erful medicine of his life. Nearer and nearer they rode, 
the undergrowth still waving gently and harmlessly in 
the light wind. 

Dick stopped shouting. All at once he was con 
scious of its futility. Nobody heard him. Nobody 
heeded him. He was only an unnoticed spectator of a 
great event. He stood still now, back to the tree, gazing 
toward the river and the advancing force. Something 
wet dropped into his eye and he winked it away. It 
was the sweat from his own brow. 

The mellow notes of the trumpet sang once more, 
echoing far over the valley, and the hoofs beat with 
rhythmic tread. The splendid array of blue-clad men 
was still unbroken. They still rode heel to heel and toe 
to toe, and across the river the dense undergrowth 
moved a little in the gentle wind, but disclosed nothing. 



A few yards more and they would be at the water. 
Then Dick saw a long line of flame burst from the 
bushes, so vivid, so intense that it was like a blazing 
bar of lightning, and a thousand rifles seemed to crash 
as one. Hard on the echo of the great volley came the 
ierce war cry of the ambushed Sioux, taken up in turn 
Dy the larger force on the flank and swelled by the mul 
titude of women and children farther back. It was to 
Dick like the howl of wolves about to leap on their prey, 
but many times stronger and fiercer. 

The white army shivered under the impact of the 
blow, when a thousand unexpected bullets were sent 
into its ranks. All the front line was blown away, the 
men were shot from their saddles, and many of the 
horses went down with them. Others, riderless, gal 
loped about screaming with pain and fright. 

Although the little army shivered and reeled for a 
moment, it closed up again and went on toward the 
water. Once more the deadly rifle fire burst from the 
undergrowth, not a single volley now, but continuous, 
rising and falling a little perhaps, but always heavy, 
filling the air with singing metal and littering the 
ground with the wounded and the dead. The far side 
of the river was a sheet of fire, and in the red blaze the 
Sioux could be seen plainly springing about in the 

The cavalrymen began to fire also, sending their bul 
lets across the river as fast as they could pull trigger, 
but they were attacked on the flank, too, by the vast 
horde of warriors, directed by the bravest of the Sioux 
chiefs, the famous Pizi (Gall), one of the most skillful 



and daring fighters the red race ever produced, a man 
of uncommon appearance, of great height, and with the 
legendary head of a Caesar. He now led on the horde 
with voice and gesture, and hurled it against Custer s 
force, which was reeling again under the deadly fire 
from the other shore of the Little Big Horn. 

The shouting of the warriors and of the thousands 
of women and children who watched the battle was soon 
lost to Dick in the steady crash of the rifle fire which 
filled the whole valley sharp, incessant, like the drum 
of thunder in the ,ar. A great cloud of smoke arose 
and drifted over the combatants, white and red, but this 
smoke was pierced by innumerable flashes of fire as the 
red swarms pressed closer and the white replied. 

Some flaw in the wind lifted the smoke and sent it 
high over the heads of all. Dick saw Custer, the gen 
eral with the yellow hair, still on horseback and appar 
ently unwounded, but the little army had stopped. It 
had been riddled already by the rifle fire from the un 
dergrowth and could not cross the river. The dead 
and wounded on the ground had increased greatly in 
numbers, and the riderless horses galloped everywhere. 
Some of them rushed blindly into the Indian ranks, 
where they were seized. 

Three or four troopers had fallen or plunged into 
the terrible quicksand on the other flank, and as Dick 
looked they were slowly swallowed up. He shut his 
eyes, unable to bear the sight, and when he opened them 
he did not see the men any more. 

The smoke flowed in again and then was driven 
away once more. Dick saw that all of Custer s front 



ranks were now dismounted, and were replying to the 
fire from the other side of the river. Undaunted by the 
terrible trap into which they had ridden they came so 
near to the bank that many of them were slain there, 
and their bodies fell into the water, where they floated. 

Dick saw the yellow-haired leader wave his hat 
again, and the front troopers turned back from the 
bank. The whole force turned with them. All who 
yet lived or could ride now sprang from their horses, 
firing at the same time into the horde about them. 
Their ranks were terribly thinned, but they still formed 
a compact body, despite the rearing and kicking of the 
horses, many of which were wounded also. 

Dick was soldier enough to know what they wished 
to do. They were trying to reach the higher ground, 
the hills, where they could make a better defense, and 
he prayed mutely that they might do it. 

The Sioux saw, too, what was intended, and they 
gave forth a yell so full of ferocity and exultation that 
Dick shuddered from head to foot. The yell was taken 
up by the fierce squaws and boys who hovered in the 
rear, until it echoed far up and down the banks of the 
Little Big Horn. 

The white force, still presenting a steady front and 
firing fast, made way. The warriors between them 
and the hill which they seemed to be seeking were 
driven back, but the attack on their rear, and now on 
both flanks, grew heavier and almost unbearable. The 
outer rim of Custer s army was continually being cut 
off, and when new men took the places of the other* 
they, too, were shot down. His numbers and the space 



on which they stood were reduced steadily, yet they did 
not cease to go on, although the pace became slower. It 
was like a wounded beast creeping along and fighting 
with tooth and claw, while the hunters swarmed about 
him in numbers always increasing. 

Ouster bore diagonally to the left, going, in the 
main, downstream, but a fresh force was now thrown 
against him. The great body of warriors who had 
been hidden in the undergrowth on the other side of 
the Little Big Horn crossed the stream when he fell 
back and flung themselves upon his flank and front. He 
was compelled now to stop, although he had not gone 
more than four hundred yards, and Dick, from his hill, 
saw the actions of the troops. 

They stood there for perhaps five minutes firing 
into the Sioux, who were now on every side. They 
formed a kind of hollow square with some of the men 
in the center holding the horses, which were kicking 
and struggling and adding to the terrible confusion. 
The leader with the yellow hair was yet alive. Dick 
saw him plainly, and knew by his gestures that he was 
still cheering on his men, 

A movement now took place. Dick saw the white 
force divide. A portion of it deployed in a circular 
manner to the left, and the remainder turned in similar 
fashion to the right, although they did not lose touch. 
The square was now turned into a rude circle with the 
horses still in the center. They stood on a low hill, and 
so far as Dick could see they would not try to go any 
farther. The fire of the defenders had sunk somewhat, 
but he saw the men rushing to the horses for the extra 



ammunition that was why they hung to the horses 
and then the fire rose again in intensity and volume. 

Confident in their numbers and the success that they 
had already won, the Sioux pressed forward from every 
side in overwhelming masses. All the great chiefs led 
them Gall, Crazy Horse, Young-Man- Afraid-of-His- 
Horses, Grass, and the others. Bright Sun continually 
passed like a flame, inciting the hordes to renewed at 
tacks, while the redoubtable Sitting Bull never ceased 
to make triumphant medicine. But it was Gall, of the 
magnificent head and figure, the very model of a great 
savage warrior, who led at the battle front. Reckless 
of death, but always unwounded, he led the Sioux up 
to the very muzzles of the white rifles, and when they 
were driven back he would lead them up again. Dick 
had heard all his life that Indians would not charge 
white troops in the open field, but here they did it, not 
one time, but many. 

Dick believed that if he were to die that moment 
the picture of that terrible scene would be found photo 
graphed upon his eyeballs. It had now but little form 
or feature for him. All he could see was the ring of 
his own blue-clad people in the center and everywhere 
around them the howling thousands, men mostly naked 
to the breechclout, their bodies wet with the sweat of 
their toiling, and their eyes filled with the fury of the 
savage in victorious battle details that he could not 
see, although they were there. Alike over the small 
circle and the vast one inclosing it the smoke drifted 
in great clouds, but beneath it the field was lit up by 
the continuous red flash of the rifles. Dick wondered 



that anybody could live where so many bullets were 
flying in the air; yet there was Ouster s force, cut down 
much more, but the core of it still alive and fighting, 
while the Sioux were so numerous that they did not miss 
their own warriors who had fallen, although there were 

The unbroken crash of the rifle fire had gone on so 
long now that Dick scarcely noticed it, nor did he heed 
the great howling of the squaws farther up the stream. 
He was held by what his eyes saw, and he did not take 
them from the field for an instant. He saw one charge, 
a second and third hurled back, and although he was 
not conscious of it he shouted aloud in joy. 

" They ll drive them off! They ll drive them off 
for good ! " he exclaimed, although in his heart he never 
believed it. 

The wind after a while took another change, and the 
dense clouds of smoke hung low over the field, hiding 
for the time the little white army that yet fought. Al 
though Dick could see nothing now, he still gazed into 
the heart of the smoke bank. He did not know then that 
a second battle was in progress on the other side of the 
town. Ouster before advancing had divided his force, 
giving a little more than half of it to Reno, who, uncon 
scious of Ouster s deadly peril, was now being beaten 
off. Dick had no thought for anything but Ouster, not 
even of his own fate. Would they drive the Sioux 
away? He ran his tongue over his parched lips and 
tugged at the bonds that held his wrists. 

The wind rose again and blew the smoke to one side. 
The battlefield came back into the light, and Dick saw 



that the white force still fought. But many of the men 
were on their knees now, using their revolvers, and Dick 
feared the terrible event that really happened their 
ammunition was giving out, and the savage horde, rim 
ming them on all sides, was very near. 

He did not know how long the battle had lasted, but 
it seemed many hours to him. The sun was far down in 
the west, gilding the plains and hills with tawny gold, 
but the fire and smoke of conflict filled the whole valley 
of the Little Big Horn. Perhaps night will save those 
who yet live," thought Dick. But the fire of the 
savages rose. Fresh ammunition was brought to them, 
and after every repulse they returned to the attack, 
pressing closer at every renewal. 

Dick saw the leader at the edge of the circle almost 
facing his hiil. His hat was gone, and his long yellow 
hair flew wildly, but he still made gestures to his men 
and bade them fight on. Then Dick lost him in the tur 
moil, but he saw some of the horses pull loose from the 
detaining hands, burst through the circle, and plunge 
among the Sioux. 

Now came a pause in the firing, a sudden sinking, 
as if by command, and the smoke thinned. The circle 
which had been spouting flame on every side also grew 
silent for a moment, whether because the enemy had 
ceased or the cartridges were all gone Dick never knew 
But it was the silence of only an instant. Dick saw the 
tall figure of Gall upraise a hand. There was a tre 
mendous shout, a burst of firing greater than any that 
had gone before, and the whole Sioux horde poured 



The warriors, charging in irresistible masses from 
side to side, met in the center, and when the smoke 
lifted from the last great struggle Dick saw only Sioux. 

Of all the gallant little army that had charged into 
the valley not a soul was now living, save a Crow Indian 
scout, who, when all was lost, let down his hair after the 
fashion of a Sioux, and escaped in the turmoil as one of 
their own people. 



WHEN Dick Howard saw that the raging Sioux 
covered the field and that the little army was 
destroyed wholly he could bear the sight no 
longer, and, reeling back against the tree, closed his eyes. 
For a little while, even with eyes shut, he still beheld the 
red ruin, and then darkness came over him. 

He never knew whether he really fainted or whether 
it was merely a kind of stupor brought on by so many 
hours of battle and fierce excitement, but when he 
opened his eyes again much time had passed. The sun 
was far down in the west and the dusky shadows were 
advancing. Over the low hill where Ouster had made 
his last stand the Sioux swarmed, scalping until they 
could scalp no more. Behind them came thousands of 
women and boys, shouting from excitement and the 
drunkenness of victory. 

It was all incredible, unreal to Dick, some hideous 
nightmare that would soon pass away when he awoke. 
Such a thing as this could not be ! Yet it was real, it was 
credible, he was awake and he had seen it he had seen 
it all from the moment that the first trooper appeared 
in the valley until the last fell under the overwhelming 



charge of the Sioux. He still heard, in the waning 
afternoon, their joyous cries over their great victory, 
and he saw their dusky forms as they rushed here and 
there over the field in search of some new trophy. 

Dick was not conscious of any physical feeling at all 
neither weariness, nor fear, nor thought of the future. 
It seemed to him that the world had come to an end with 
the ending of the day. 

The shadows thickened and advanced. The west was 
a sea of dusk. The distant lodges of the village passed 
out of sight. The battlefield itself became dim and it 
was only phantom figures that roamed over it. All the 
while Dick was unnoticed, forgotten in the great event, 
and as the night approached the desire for freedom 
returned to him. He was again a physical being, feel 
ing pain, and from habit rather than hope he pulled 
once more at the rawhide cords that held his wrists 
he did not know that he had been tugging at them 
nearly all the afternoon. 

He wrenched hard and the unbelievable happened. 
The rawhide, strained upon so long, parted, and his 
hands fell to his side. Dick slowly raised his right wrist 
to the level of his eyes and looked at it, as if it belonged 
to another man. There was a red and bleeding ring 
around it where the rawhide had cut deep, making a 
scar that took a year in the fading, but his numbed 
nerves still felt no pain. 

He let the right wrist sink back and raised the left 
one. It had the same red ring around it, and he looked 
at it curiously, wonderingly. Then he let the left also 
drop to his side, while he stood, back against the tree, 



looking vaguely at the dim figures of the Sioux who 
roamed about in the late twilight still in that hideous 
search for trophies. 

It was while he was looking at the Sioux that an 
abrupt thought came to Dick. Those were his own 
wrists at which he had been looking. His hands were 
free! Why not escape in all this turmoil and excite 
ment, with the friendly and covering night also at hand. 
It was like the touch of electricity. He was instantly 
alive, body and mind. He knew who he was and what 
had happened, and he wanted to get away. Now was 
the time! 

The rawhide around Dick s waist was strong and it 
had been secured with many knots. He picked at it 
slowly and with great care, and all the time he was in 
fear lest the Sioux should remember him. But the snn 
was now quite down, the last bars of red and gold were 
gone, and the east as well as the west was in darkness. 
The field of battle was hidden and only voices came 
up from it. Two warriors passed on the slope of the 
hill and Dick, ceasing his work, shrank against the 
trunk of the tree, but they went on, and when they 
were out of sight he began again to pick at the knots. 

One knot after another was unloosed, and at last 
the rawhide fell from his waist. He was free, but he 
staggered as he walked a little way down the slope of 
the hill and his fingers were numb. Yet his mind was 
wholly clear. It had recovered from the great paralytic 
shock caused by the sight of the lost battle, and he in 
tended to take every precaution needed for escape. 

He sat down in a little clump of bushes, where he 


was quite lost to view, and rubbed his limbs long and 
hard until the circulation was active. His wrists had 
stopped bleeding, and he bound about them little strips 
that he tore from his clothing. Then he threw away his 
cap the Sioux did not wear caps, and he meant to 
look as much like a Sioux as he could. That was not 
such a difficult matter, as he was dressed in tanned skins, 
and wind and weather had made him almost as brown 
as an Indian. 

Midway of the slope he stopped and looked down. 
The night had come, but the stars were not yet out. 
He could see only the near lodges, but many torches 
flared now over the battle field and in the village. He 
started again, bearing away from the hill on which 
Ouster had fallen, but pursuing a course that led chiefly 
downstream. Often he saw dusky figures, but they 
took no notice of him. Once a hideous old squaw, carry 
ing some terrible trophy in her hand, passed near, and 
Dick thought that he was lost. He was really more 
afraid at this time of the sharp eyes of the old squaws 
than of those of the warriors. But she passed on, and 
Dick dropped down into a little ravine that ran from 
the field. His feet touched a tiny stream that trickled 
at the bottom of the ravine, and he leaped away in 
shuddering horror. The soles of his mocassins were 
now red. 

But he made progress. He waa leaving the village 
farther behind, and the hum of voices was not so loud. 
One of his greatest wishes now was to find arms. He 
did not intend to be recaptured, and if the Sioux came 
upon him he wanted at least to make a fight. 



A dark shape among some short bushes attracted 
his attention. It looked like the form of a man, and 
when he went closer he saw that it was the body of a 
Sioux warrior, slain by a distant bullet from Ouster s 
circle. His carbine lay beside him and he wore an am 
munition belt full of cartridges. Dick, without hesita 
tion, took both, and felt immensely strengthened. The 
touch of the rifle gave him new courage. He was a man 
now ready to meet men. 

He reached another low hill and stood there a little 
while, listening. He heard an occasional whoop, and 
many lights flared here and there in the village, but 
no warrior was near. He saw on one side of him the 
high hill, at the base of which the first cavalrymen had 
appeared, and around which the army had ridden a 
little later to its fate. Dick was seized with a sudden 
unreasoning hatred of the hill itself, standing there 
black and lowering in the darkness. He shook his fist 
at it, and then, ashamed of his own folly, hurried his 

Everything was aiding him now. If any chance be 
fell, that chance was in his favor. Swiftly he left 
behind the field of battle, the great Indian village, and 
all the sights and sounds of that fatal day, which would 
remain stamped on his brain as long as he lived. He 
did not stop until he was beyond the hills inclosing 
the valley, and then he bent back again toward the Little 
Big Horn. He intended to cross the river and return 
toward the village on the other side, having some dim 
idea that he might find and rescue Albert. 

Dick was now in total silence. The moon and the 


stars were not yet out, but he had grown used to the 
darkness and he could see the low hills, the straggling 
trees, and the clumps of undergrowth. He was abso 
lutely alone again, but when he closed his eyes he saw 
once more with all the vividness of reality that terrible 
battle field, the closing in of the circle of death, the last 
great rush of the Sioux horde, and the blotting out of 
the white force. He still heard the unbroken crash of 
the rifle fire that had continued for hours, and the yell 
ing of the Sioux that rose and fell. 

But when he opened his eyes the silence became 
painful, it was so heavy and oppressive. He felt lonely 
and afraid, more afraid than he had ever been for him 
self while the battle was in progress. It seemed to him 
that he was pursued by the ghosts of the fallen, and he 
longed for the company of his own race. 

Dick was not conscious of hunger or fatigue. His 
nerves were still keyed too high to remember such 
things, and now he turned down to the Little Big Horn. 
Remembering the terrible quicksand, he tried the bank 
very gingerly before he stepped into the water. It was 
sandy, but it held him, and then he waded in boldly, 
holding his rifle and belt of cartridges above his head. 
He knew that the river was not deep, but it came to 
hia waist here, and once he stepped into a hole to his 
armpits, but he kept the rifle and cartridges dry. 
The waters were extremely cold, but Dick did not know 
it, and when he reached the desired shore he shook him 
self like a dog until the drops flew and then began the 
perilous task of returning to the village on the side 
farthest from Ouster s battle. 



He went carefully along the low, wooded shores, 
keeping well in the undergrowth, which was dense, and 
for an hour he heard and saw nothing of the Sioux. 
He knew why. They were still rejoicing over their 
great victory, and although he knew little of Indian 
customs he believed that the scalp dance must be in 

The moon and stars came out. A dark-blue sky, 
troubled by occasional light clouds, bent over him. He 
began at last to feel the effects of the long strain, men 
tal and physical. His clothes were nearly dry on him, 
but for the first time he felt cold and weak. He went 
on, nevertheless; he had no idea of stopping even if he 
were forced to crawl. 

He reached the crest of a low hill and looked down 
again on the Indian village, but from a point far from 
the hill on which he had stood during the battle. He 
saw many lights, torches and camp fires, and now and 
then dusky figures moving against the background of 
the flames, and then a great despair overtook him. To 
rescue Albert would be in itself difficult enough, but 
how was he ever to find him in that huge village, five 
miles long ? 

He did not permit his despair to last long. He 
would make the trial in some manner, how he did not 
yet know, but he must make it. He descended the low 
hill and entered a clump of bushes about fifty yards 
from the banks of the Little Big Horn. Here he stopped 
and quickly sank down. He had heard a rustling at the 
far edge of the clump, and he was sure, too, that he had 
seen a shadowy figure. The figure had disappeared in- 



stantly, but Dick was confident that a Sioux warrior 
was hidden in the bushes not ten yards away. 

It was his first impulse to retreat as silently as he 
could, but the impulse swiftly gave way to a fierce 
anger. He remembered that he carried a rifle and 
plenty of cartridges, and he was seized with a sudden 
vague belief that he might strike a blow in revenge for 
the terrible loss of the day. It could be but a little 
blow, he could strike down only one, but he was resolved 
to do it he had been through what few boys are ever 
compelled to see and endure, and his mind was not in 
its normal state. 

He turned himself now into an Indian, crawling and 
creeping with deadly caution through the bushes, exer 
cising an infinite patience that he might make no leaf 
or twig rustle, and now and then looking carefully over 
the tops of the bushes to see that his enemy had not fled. 
As he advanced he held his rifle well forward, that he 
might take instant aim and fire when the time came. 

Dick was a full ten minutes in traveling ten yards, 
and then he saw the dark figure of the warrior crouched 
low in the bushes. The Sioux had not seen him and was 
watching for his approach from some other point. The 
figure was dim, but Dick slowly raised his rifle and took 
careful aim at the head. His finger reached the trigger, 
but when it got there it refused to obey his will. He 
was not a savage ; he was white, with the civilized blood 
of many generations, and he could not shoot down an 
enemy whose back was turned to him. But he main 
tained his aim, and using some old expression that he 
had heard he cried, Throw up your hands ! 



The crouching figure sprang to its feet, and a remem 
bered voice exclaimed in overwhelming surprise and de 

Dick ! Dick ! Is that you, Dick ? 

Dick dropped the muzzle of his rifle and stared. He 
could not take it in for the moment. It was Albert a 
ragged, dirty, pale, and tired Albert, but a real live 
Albert just the same. 

The brothers stared at each other by the same im 
pulse, and then by the same impulse rushed forward, 
grasped each other s hands, wringing them and shout 
ing aloud for joy. 

" Is it you, Al? How on earth did you ever get 
here? " 

"Is it you, Dick? Where on earth did you come 
from? " 

They sat down in the bushes, both still trembling 
with excitement and the relief from suspense, and Dick 
told of the fatal day, how he had been bound to the 
tree on the hill, and how he had seen all the battle, from 
its beginning to the end, when no white soldier was left 

" Do you mean that they were all killed, Dick? " 
asked Albert in awed tones. 

" Every one/ replied Dick. " There was a ring of 
fire and steel around them through which no man could 
break. But they were brave, Al, they were brave! 
They beat off the thousands of that awful horde for 
hours and hours." 

" Who led them? " 

" I don t know. I had no way of knowing, but it 


was a gallant man with long yellow hair. I saw him 
with his hat off, waving it to encourage his men. Now 
tell me, Al, how you got here. 

" When they seized us/ replied Albert, " they car 
ried me, kicking and fighting as best I could, up the 
river. I made up my mind that I d never see you 
again, Dick, as I was sure that they d kill you right 
away. I expected them to finish me up, too, soon, but 
they didn t. I suppose it was because they were busy 
with bigger things. 

f They pushed me along for at least two miles. Then 
they crossed the river, shoved me into a bark lodge, and 
fastened the door on me. They didn t take the trouble 
to bind me, feeling sure, I suppose, that I couldn t get 
out of the lodge and the village, too; and I certainly 
wouldn t have had any chance to do it if a battle hadn t 
begun after I had been there a long time in the darkness 
of the lodge. I thought at first that it was the Sioux 
firing at targets, but then it became too heavy and there 
was too much shouting. 

" The firing went on a long time, and I pulled and 
kicked for an hour at the lodge door. Because no one 
came, no matter how much noise I made, I knew that 
something big was going on, and I worked all the 
harder. When I looked out at last, I saw many warriors 
running up and down and great clouds of smoke. I 
sneaked out, got into a smoke bank just as a Sioux shot 
at me, lay down in a little ravine, after a while jumped 
up and ran again through the smoke, and reached the 
bushes, where I lay hidden flat on my face until the 
night came. While I was there I heard the firing die 



down and saw our men driven off after being cut up 

" It s awful! awful! " groaned Dick. " I didn t 
know there were so many Sioux in the world, and maybe 
our generals didn t, either. That must have been the 

" When the darkness set in good," resumed Albert. 
" I started to run. I knew that no Sioux were bother 
ing about me then, but I tell you I made tracks, Dick. 
I had no arms, and I didn t know where I was going; 
but I meant to leave those Sioux some good miles be 
hind. After a while I got back part of my courage, and 
then I came back here to look around for you, thinking 
you might have just such a chance as I did." 

" Brave old Al," said Dick. 

" You came, too." 

" I was armed and you were not." 

" It comes to the same thing, and you did have the 

" Yes, and we re together again. We ve been saved 
once more, Al, when the others have fallen. Now the 
thing for us to do is to get away from here as fast as we 
can. Which way do you think those troops on your 
side of the village retreated? " 

Albert extended his finger toward a point on the 
dusky horizon. 

" Off there somewhere," he replied. 

" Then we ll follow them. Come on." 

The two left the bushes and entered the hill*. 



DICK and Albert had not gone far before they 
saw lights on the bluffs of the Little Big Horn. 
Dick had uncommonly keen eyes, and when he 
saw a figure pass between him and the firelight he was 
confident that it was not that of a Sioux. The clothing 
was too much like a trooper s. 

" Stop, Al," he said, putting his hand on his broth 
er s shoulder. " I believe some of our soldiers are 

The two crept as near as they dared and watched 
until they saw another figure pause momentarily against 
the background of the firelight. 

"It s a trooper, sure," said Dick, " and we ve 
come to our own people at last. Come, Al, we ll join 

They started forward on a run. There was a flash 
of flame, a report, and a bullet whistled between them. 

"We re friends, not Sioux!" shouted Dick. 
" We re escaping from the savages! Don t fire! ! 

They ran forward again, coming boldly into the 
light, and no more shots were fired at them. They ran 
up the slope to the crest of the bluff, leaped over a fresh 



earthwork, and fell among a crowd of soldiers in blue. 
Dick quickly raised himself to his feet, and saw soldiers 
about him, many of them wounded, all of them weary 
and drawn. Others were hard at work with pick and 
spade, and from a distant point of the earthwork came 
the sharp report of rifle shots. 

These were the first white men that Dick and Albert 
had seen in nearly two years, and their hearts rose in 
their throats. 

" Who are you? " asked a lieutenant, holding up a 
lantern and looking curiously at the two bare-headed, 
brown, and half-wild youths who stood before him 
in their rough attire of tanned skins. They might 
readily have passed in the darkness for young Sioux 

1(1 I am Dick Howard, " replied Dick, standing up as 
straight as his weakness would let him, and this is my 
brother Albert. We were with an emigrant train, all 
the rest of which was massacred two years ago by the 
Sioux. Since then we have been in the mountains, hunt 
ing and trapping. " 

The lieutenant looked at him suspiciously. Dick still 
stood erect and returned his gaze, but Albert, overpow 
ered by fatigue, was leaning against the earthwork. A 
half dozen soldiers stood near, watching them curi 
ously. From the woods toward the river came the 
sound of more rifle shots. 

" Where have you come from to-night? And 
how? " asked the lieutenant sharply. 

" We escaped from the Sioux village," replied Dick. 
" I was in one part of it and my brother in another. 



We met by chance or luck in the night, but in the after 
noon I saw all the battle in which the army was de 

" Army destroyed! What do you mean? " ex 
claimed the officer. " We were repulsed, but we are 
here. We are not destroyed/ 

The suspicion in his look deepened, but Dick met 
him with unwavering eye. 

" It was on the other side of the town," he replied. 
" Another army was there. It was surrounded by thou 
sands of the Sioux, but it perished to the last man. I 
saw them gallop into the valley, led by a general with 
long yellow hair." 

" Ouster! " exclaimed some one, and a deep groan 
came from the men in the dusk. 

" What nonsense is this! " exclaimed the officer. 
" Do you dare tell me that Ouster and his entire com 
mand have perished? " 

Dink felt his resentment rising. 

" I tell you only the truth/ he said. " There was 
a great, battle, and our troops, led by a general with long 
yellow hair, perished utterly. The last one of them is 
dead. I saw it all with my own eyes. * 

Again that deep groan came from the men in the 

" I can t believe it! " exclaimed the lieutenant. 
" Ouster and his whole force dead! Where were you? 
How did you see all this? " 

" The Sioux had tied me to a tree in order that the 
Indian boys might amuse themselves by grazing me with 
arrows my brother and I had been captured when we 



were on the plains but they were interrupted by the 
appearance of troops in the valley. Then the battle be 
gan. It lasted a long time, and I was forgotten. About 
twilight I managed to break loose, and I escaped by 
hiding in the undergrowth. My brother, who was on 
the other side of the town, escaped in much the same 

" Sounds improbable, very improbable! " muttered 
the lieutenant. 

Suddenly an old sergeant, who had been standing 
near, listening attentively, exclaimed: 

11 Look at the boy s wrists, lieutenant! They ve got 
just the marks that an Indian rawhide would make ! } 

Dick impulsively held up his wrists, from which the 
bandages had fallen without his notice. A deep red 
ring encircled each, and it was obvious from their faces 
that others believed, even if the lieutenant did not. But 
he, too, dropped at least a part of his disbelief. 

" I cannot deny your story of being captives among 
the Sioux," he said, " because you are white and the 
look of your eyes is honest. But you must be mistaken 
about Ouster. They cannot all have fallen ; it was your 
excitement that made you think it." 

Dick did not insist. He was the bearer of bad news, 
but he would not seek to make others believe it if they 
did not wish to do so. The dreadful confirmation would 
come soon enough. 

" Take them away, Williams," said the lieutenant 
to the sergeant, " and give them food and drink. They 
look as if they needed it." 

The sergeant was kindly, and he asked Dick and Al- 


bert many questions as lie led them to a point farther 
back on the bluff beyond the rifle shots of the Sioux, 
who were now firing heavily in the darkness upon 
Reno s command, the troops driven off from the far side 
of the town, and the commands of Benteen and McDou- 
gall, which had formed a junction with Reno. It was 
evident that he believed all Dick told him, and his eyes 
became heavy with sorrow. 

" Poor lads! " he murmured. " And so many of 
them gone! " 

He took them to a fire, and here both of them col 
lapsed completely. But with stimulants, good food, and 
water they recovered in an hour, and then Dick was 
asked to tell again what he had seen to the chief officers. 
They listened attentively, but Dick knew that they, too, 
went away incredulous. 

Throughout the talk Dick and Albert heard the 
sound of pick and spade as the men continued to throw 
up the earthworks, and there was an incessant patter 
of rifle fire as the Sioux crept forward in the darkness, 
firing from every tree, or rock, or hillock, and keeping 
up a frightful yelling, half of menace and half of tri 
umph. But their bullets whistled mostly overhead, and 
once, when they made a great rush, they were quickly 
driven back with great loss. Troops on a bluff behind 
earthworks were a hard nut even for an overwhelming 
force to crack. 

Dick and Albert fell asleep on the ground from sheer 
exhaustion, but Dick did not sleep long. He was awak 
ened by a fresh burst of firing, and saw that it was 
gtill dark. He did not sleep again that night, although 



Albert failed to awake, and, asking for a rifle, bore a 
part in the defense. 

The troops, having made a forced march with scant 
supplies, suffered greatly from thirst, but volunteers, 
taking buckets, slipped down to the river, at the immi 
nent risk of torture and death, and brought them back 
filled for their comrades. It was done more than a 
dozen times, and Dick himself was one of the heroes, 
which pleased Sergeant Williams greatly. 

" You re the right stuff, my boy," he said, clapping 
him on the shoulder, " though you ought to be asleep 
and resting." 

" I couldn t sleep long," replied Dick. " I think 
my nerves have been upset so much that I won t feel 
just right again for months." 

Nevertheless he bore a valiant part in the defense, 
besides risking his life to obtain the water, and won 
high praise from many besides his stanch friend, Ser 
geant Williams. It was well that the troops had thrown 
up the earthwork, as the Sioux, flushed with their great 
victory in the afternoon, hung on the flanks of the 
bluffs and kept up a continuous rifle fire. There was 
light enough for sharpshooting, and more than one sol 
dier who incautiously raised his head above the earth 
work was slain. 

Toward morning the Sioux made another great rush. 
There had been a lull in the firing just when the night 
was darker than usual and many little black clouds 
were floating up from the southwest. Dick was op 
pressed by the silence. He remembered the phases of 
the battle in the afternoon, and he felt that it portended 



some great effort by the Sioux. He peeped carefully 
over the earthwork and studied the trees, bushes, and 
hillocks below. He saw nothing there, but it seemed to 
him that he could actually feel tne presence of the 

" Look out for em/ he said to Sergeant Williams. 
" I think they re going to make a rush." 

I think it, too, replied the veteran. " I ve learnt 
something of their cunnin since I ve been out here on 
the plains. 

Five minutes later the Sioux sprang from their am 
bush and rushed forward, hoping to surprise enemies 
who had grown careless. But they were met by a with 
ering fire that drove them headlong to cover again. Nev 
ertheless they kept up the siege throughout all the fol 
lowing day and night, firing incessantly from ambush, 
and at times giving forth whoops full of taunt and 
menace. Dick was able to sleep a little during the day, 
and gradually his nerves became more steady. Albert 
also took a part in the defense, and, like Dick, he won 
many friends. 

The day was a long and heavy one. The fortified 
camp was filled with the gloomiest apprehensions. The 
officers still refused to believe all of Dick s story, that 
Ouster and every man of his command had perished at 
the hands of the Sioux. They were yet hopeful that his 
eyes had deceived him, a thing which could happen 
amid so much fire, and smoke, and excitement, and that 
only a part of Ouster s force had fallen. Yet neither 
Ouster nor any of his men returned; there was no 
sign of them anywhere, and below the bluffs the 



Sioux gave forth taunting shouts and flaunted terrible 

Dick and Albert sat together about twilight before 
one of the camp fires, and Dick s face showed that he 
shared the gloom of those around him. 

11 What are you expecting, Dick? " asked Albert, 
who read his countenance. 

" Nothing in particular," replied Dick; " but I m 
hoping that help will come soon. I ve heard from the 
men that General Gibbon is out on the plain with a 
strong force, and we need him bad. We re short of 
both water and food, and we 11 soon be short of ammuni 
tion. Ouster fell, I think, because his ammunition gave 
out, and if ours gives out the same thing will happen 
to us. It s no use trying to conceal it." 

11 Then we ll pray for Gibbon," said Albert. 

The second night passed like the first, to the accom 
paniment of shouts and shots, the incessant sharpshoot- 
ing of the Sioux, and an occasional rush that was always 
driven back. But it was terribly exhausting. The men 
were growing irritable and nervous under such a siege, 
and the anxiety in the camp increased. 

Dick, after a good sleep, was up early on the morn 
ing of the second day, and, like others, he looked out 
over the plain in the hope that he might see Gibbon 
coming. He looked all around the circle of the horizon 
1 and saw only distant lodges in the valley and Sioux 
warriors. But Dick had uncommonly good ears, trained 
further by two years of wild life, and he heard some 
thing, a new note in the common life of the morning. 
He listened with the utmost attention, and heard it 



again. He had heard the same sound on the ter 
rible day when Ouster galloped into the valley the 
mellow, pealing note of a trumpet, but now very faint 
and far. 

" They re coming! " he said to Sergeant Williams 
joyfully. " I hear the sound of a trumpet out on the 
plain! " 

" I don t," said the sergeant. u It s your hopes 
that are deceivin you. No, by Jove, I think I do hear it ! 
Yes, there it is! They re comin ! They re comin ! " 

The whole camp burst into a joyous cheer, and al 
though they did not hear the trumpet again for some 
time, the belief that help was at hand became a cer 
tainty when they saw hurried movements among the 
Sioux in the valley and the sudden upspringing of 
flames at many points. 

11 They re goin to retreat," said the veteran Ser 
geant "Williams, "an they re burnin their village be 
hind em." 

A little later the army of Gibbon, with infantry and 
artillery, showed over the plain, and was welcomed with 
cheers that came from the heart. Uniting with the com 
mands on the fortified bluff, Gibbon now had a powerful 
force, and he advanced cautiously into the valley of the 
Little Big Horn and directly upon the Indian village. 
But the Sioux were gone northward, taking with them 
their arms, ammunition, and all movable equipment, and 
the lodges that they left behind were burning. 

Dick led the force to the field of battle, and all his 
terrible story was confirmed. There the hundreds of 
brave men, Ouster and every one of his officers among 



them, lay, most of them mutilated, but all with their 
backs to the earth. 

The army spent the day burying the dead, and then 
began the pursuit of the Sioux. Dick and Albert went 
with them, fighting as scouts and skirmishers. They 
Were willing, for the present, to let their furs remain 
hidden in their lost valley until they could gain a more 
definite idea of its location, and until the dangerous 
Sioux were driven far to the northward. 

As the armies grew larger the Sioux forces, despite 
the skill and courage of their leaders, were continually 
beaten. Their great victory on the Little Big Horn 
availed them nothing. It became evident that the last 
of the chiefs and to Dick and Albert this was Bright 
Sun had made the last stand for his race, and had 

" They were doomed the day the first white man 
landed in America, said Dick to Albert, * and nothing 
could save them/ 

" I suppose it s so," said Albert; " but I feel sorry 
for Bright Sun, all the same." 

" So do I, "said Dick. 

The Sioux were finally crowded against the Cana 
dian line, and Sitting Bull and most of the warriors 
fled across it for safety. But just before the crossing 
Dick and Albert bore a gallant part in a severe skir 
mish that began before daylight. A small Sioux band, 
fighting in a forest with great courage and tenacity, 
was gradually driven back by dismounted white troop 
ers. Dick, a skirmisher on the right flank, became sepa 
rated from his eomrades during the fighting. He was 



aware that the Sioux had been defeated, but, like the 
others, he followed in eager pursuit, wishing to drive the 
blow home. 

Dick lost sight of both troopers and Sioux, but he be 
came aware of a figure in the undergrowth ahead of 
him, and he stalked it. The warrior, for such he was sure 
the man to be, was unable to continue his flight without 
entering an open space where he would be exposed to 
Dick s bullet, and he stayed to meet his antagonist. 

There was much delicate maneuvering of the kind 
that must occur when lives are known to be at stake, but 
at last the two came within reach of each other. The 
Sioux fired first and missed, and then Dick held his 
enemy at the muzzle of his rifle. He was about to fire 
in his turn, when he saw that it was Bright Sun. 

The chief, worn and depressed, recognized Dick at 
the same moment. 

" Fire," he said. " I have lost, and I might as well 
die by your hand as another." 

Dick lowered his weapon. 

" I can t do it, Bright Sun," he said. " My brother 
and I owe you our lives, and I ve got to give you yours. 

" But I am an Indian," said Bright Sun. " I will 
never surrender to your people." 
" It is for you to say, replied Dick. 

Bright Sun waved his hand in a grave and sad fare 
well salute and went northward. Dick heard from a 
trapper some time later of a small band of Sioux 
Indians far up near the Great Slave Lake, led by a 
chief of uncommon qualities. He was sure, from the 



description of this chief given by the trapper, that it 
was Bright Sun. 

Their part in the war ended, Dick and Albert took 
for their pay a number of captured Indian ponies, and 
turning southward found the old trail of the train that 
had been slaughtered. Then, with the ponies, they en 
tered their beloved valley again. 

No one had come in their absence. Castle Howard, 
the Annex, the Suburban Villa, the Cliff House, and all 
their treasures were undisturbed. They carried their 
furs to Helena, in Montana, where the entire lot was 
sold for thirty- two thousand dollars a great sum for 
two youths. 

" Now what shall we do? " said Albert when the 
money was paid to them. 

" I vote we buy United States Government bonds/ 
replied Dick, " register em in our names, and go back 
vO the valley to hunt and trap. Of course people will 
find it after a while, but we may get another lot of fine 
furs before anyone comes. 1 

" Just what I d have proposed myself," said Albert. 

They started the next day on their ponies, with the 
pack ponies following, and reached their destination in 
due time. It was just about sunset when they descended 
the last slope and once more beheld their valley, stretch 
ing before them in all its beauty and splendor, still un 
trodden by any human footsteps save their own. 

* What a fine place ! exclaimed Albert. 

" The finest in the world! " said Dick. 



Return to desk from which borrowed. 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 

24Jan 62lL| 


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