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"/ tilt snap o the -whip there s bread ; 
In the bang o the rifle there s blood." Border Legend. 

"An honest tale speeds best, being plainly told." Shakespeare. 

* * * * " Rude am I in my speech, 
And little blessed with the set phrase of peace" Othello. 

"The ivor Id was made for honest trade" Emerson. 

"Where the spirit of the Lord is, tJtere is liberty" 2 Cor. iii. 7. 

W. B. SMITH & CO., 


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1881, 

In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, 

Att rights reserved. 











MY object has been to write a story, inspired, in a great 
measure, by personal observation ; to write it plainly with 
the license of a free pen, but with force and zeal. 

The plot and scene are original and fresh. The rife per 
ils of those who lived on the border long ago, will serve a 
spirited recital, without an extravagant line or an over 
drawn figure. 

No youth can be harmed by knowing through what strife 
the trade of the Great West has straggled and thrived. 

As a big-bo} T s book, the author s best wish is that it will 
please best in matter, which he believes is alive with stir 
ring incidents. 

T. B. P. 






GONE! 41 


HOLIDAY, . . . . . . . 120 



YARNS, 164 


THE SPIDER S NEST, . . . .181 




REWARD, ....... 306 



ON the high bank of a western river, far out among 
savage haunts, stood a cabin post, the lonely mart of a 
rude trade. 

In an outlook raised on the roof, not unlike the pilot 
house of a steamboat, sat the trader, who suddenly 
spoke aloud. 

" Hello ! that s Beck," he said. 

With a shout he hailed the rower, who neared the 
foot of the bluff, but his voice was lost in the whirl of 
the current, or spent upon the radiance of a sun- 
bronzed plain. 

Beck in his canoe was but a few strokes from the 
landing ; one dash more, with a few strides up the road, 
brought him to the cabin door. 

"Back soon, pardner," the sentinel said. 

"Yes; a short, tough scout, I tell you, Peter; I m 
fagged, too, and hungry as a cayote." Thereupon the 


12 SNAP. 

two men locked arms, taking the path to the abode 
near by. A word only was spoken by the elder, and 
that, the simple welcome : 

" Come in." 

The plain, weather-boarded white dwelling, under a 
high roof, with eaves sheltering a porch on either side, 
looked cosily clean in the mild, clear light of the 
early spring. The doors and shutters were of heavy 
timbers, crossed and cleated ; above the front door a 
bison s head held in its teeth a horse-shoe ; bunches of 
rose-bush grew by the porch rail ; the fibrous creepers, 
not yet green, clung to the lapping board-work ; cone- 
shaped evergreens and poplar spires sprang from 
the sward near the entrance. A wide hall led out to a 
kitchen yard, and a vine-clad lath frame, closing in a 
patch where summer blooms would spring, set apart 
the quarters, poultry-coops and well-shed. Within, 
there was a quaint sort of outfit ; here and there a 
rough bench, a rustic seat and a deal table, took shyly 
to their betters. The trader had bought his furniture 
less for use and ornament than from some capricious 
notion of its former service. It was altogether a snug, 
far- west domicile ; a highway charm to the traveler 
who saw the sun-flare on the garret windows. The 
grove and chimney tops were known in camps beyond 
the plains. 

" Thar s a good farwell to it," said Beck, smacking 
his lips as he put his glass down on the sideboard. 

" An heah s a set-out, to take the sharp edge off," 
said the other, pointing to a bowl of hot coffee, a pone, 


spare-ribs and hominy on the table, while he continued 
speaking : 

" So you keep yer arms outer sight, John ? " 

John s long, dark beard fell upon his blouse of but 
ternut jeans and his under-garments were belted, with 
out weapons. From the knees to the feet he wore 
fawn-skin leggins, buttoned. 

"Yes ; you see, Peter, killin ain t the thing ; all I do 
is to keep others from killin me, or you. I never 
shoot less I m bleeged to ; it tain t the best sign to see 
the tools in sight ; they re handy, though, I reckon, if 
you ll look heah at my blouse-waist, inside." 

" You say right ; they oifen make a fight or spile a 
bargain. Well, what you got to tell, John ? " 

" Lots ; but let me off now." John was enjoying 

The pause gives a good opportunity to take their 
pictures ; none better to touch upon their antecedents. 

Cheviteau s face was a good one ; every feature did 
its part kindly, in frankness ; not less the gray hairs 
in grace, to the descendant of a voyageur. Toil is 
unpoetic ; toil and strife, alike, cruelly prosaic. The 
splendor of a sunset marvel, the fleeting, airy grandeur 
of the dawn, had been cold and colorless, when as a 
barefoot boy he viewed them, leaning upon his w r hip. 
With his strong, virile faith, he had no fancy, no senti 
ment ; a kindly nature unwarmed, for the poor are 
chilled, stood sternly to its duty. He was illiterate, 
superstitious ; the phantom fires threw back to where 
he stood a lingering gleam on waves of gold-tipped 

14 SNAP. 

verdure. He saw the omen, only. In the track of the 
sun, lying straight before him across the danger-haunted 
waste, he saw the path to success ; he saw besides, all 
its lurking terrors, trials and mishaps, but with a snap 
of his whip he resolved to follow it. From the spot 
where the sun had bid him go forth he made his start, 
and there in after years he pitched his camp. At the 
foot of the bluff the river formed a wide plateau ; there 
he built his wharf, a steamboat landing. 
. First, as a cattle-driver, he held his way full well. 
Soon he owned a team ; in the snap of the whip he 
earned enough to buy another, for he was shrewd, 
almost to cunning. He was self-reliant ; all his earnings 
were turned into cattle, and experience, as it came to 
him, stood in the place of book-learning. He raised 
stock on shares with a cattle dealer ; his teams increased 
to a train, and he became a freighter of goods to distant 
forts. He was brave, though prudence was his best 
virtue. Betwixt these little epochs of a lowly life, 
came all the changing hazards of the border; the 
wearied, footsore tramps, the sleepless nights ; he was 
chased, hunted, driven back, robbed and cheated, but 
through all he strode into manhood with a round sum 
laid up. Then he married the dealer s daughter; a 
comely helpmate, who shared his cabin, shaped his 
habits, bore him a child, taught him to read and write. 
When death divided them, he felt a strong man s 
sorrow, deep, tender, lasting, but moved on, facing 
danger. The steamboat found his cove and linked his 
future with good fortune ; he held it well, as to him 


seemed best. The place was known as CHEVITEAU S 
LANDING ; his men called him Colonel. 

" Peter, when s that boy of yours coming ? " 

"In the nex boat." 

"Can he load a wagon, or yoke a lead-team? " 

" As good as any man." 

" Does he know the peach-color ; can he bring em 
wo-hawr on the run, in a short turn?" 

"He knows an ox, John, from hoof to hawn, throws 
a lash pooty as a streamer, an on a trade he s keen as a 

" I never saw him on the road ; what s his pluck ? " 

" Bes kind o grit ; you ken supple his jints if you 
need him." 

The youth spoken of, an orphan, had been left in 
childhood a charge to the trader ; had been trained in 
camp, sent off to school, thence to a city counting- 
room, and was purchase agent in buying the supplies 
for the post. 

"He ll do, I reckon, Peter." 

Beck s face, usually grave, was a little careworn. 
Years before he had enlisted at a far-away fort, and 
after winning, through merit, a sergeant s chevron, he set 
up for himself as a scout. His talk was careless, never 
boastful ; his habits steady, and his sense of duty true 
to the old man s friendship, to the value of a name for 
good qualities ; his past was a closed book, never 
opened or touched ; his manner was calm, almost gen 
tle, the fineness of true courage. In height and port 
he was a giant. 

1(3 SNAP. 

Mary, the trader s daughter, fresh from the field, 
looked in at the door. 

" Anything wanted?" she asked. 
A round, rosy face, in the summer hue of health, was 
seen under her rye-straw hat ; the large, soft eyes were 
the light of a winning look, and the brown hair, caught 
up in clusters, coiled trimly above her neck. There 
was something ever so neat in the dark dress of the 
young woman, with its broad, white collar, and a scrap 
of red at the throat. Mary, too, had been sent from 
home ; she, to motherly hands that reared her, and 
Christian hearts that loved her ; she came back, and 
the goodness she had dwelt with came as a part of her ; 
she took up each care with ease, her duties with a quiet 
good-will. Sometimes she paused, as if to think upon 
her exile, or to counsel with her courage, and her face 

" So you ve got back safe, Mister John, with a whole 
scalp," she said, using a common phrase. 
" Did you think I d leave it behind me?" 
" No, truly, not you, if Kit can see the way." 
"And you re fixed to stay out here for good, Mary?" 
"I give her her liking, John, to live with her friends 
or come to me," her father answered for her, pleased 
with her choice. 

" What would you all have thought of me if I stayed 
away ? " the while she fluttered about like a bee ; she 
dusted the pedlar-clock on the fireplace shelf, turned 
a chair in place, closing the sideboard door; "and you 
see, Mister John, I m better off where there s plenty to 


do, with the will to do it ; little by little, bimeby much 
may come to pass : a church, maybe ; then a school- 
house, you know, and, maybe, a good Christian out 
of you." She laughed at the thought of making a saint 
out of the sturdy scout. 

" S pose an Injin ketches you before all that." 

" And wouldn t you catch the Indian, Mister John?" 
she asked, in her charming, childlike way. 

Going out into the hall, she stopped at the door of 
one of the rooms. 

"I ve sent for the milk, Doctor Tom." 

" Thanks, little sweetheart," answered a voice, as 
Mary hastened on to the porch, where she took up her 

Over the lattice, not far from the knitter s seat, Chloe, 
the cook, handled the loaves and pies at the oven. She 
was a trusty old domestic, short, fat, and black. Her 
face, in eclipse, held on ever through the darkness of 
servitude to the good that was in it ; its humor and con 
tent. She had served for long years in the trader s 
family, and had been Mary s nurse. Standing near 
her was a boy, a blacker mortal, and a cross betwixt 
the monkey and Jim Crow. He tapped with his heels 
the time of a tune, singing : 

I se got no time ter terry, 

I se got no time ter terry ; 

I se got no time to stay wid-ee you, 

O h, good fokes, pity me. 

" Dar, now ! " cried the old woman, suddenly ; " what 
I tole yer, eh ? He s gwyne an dun it, sho ! " 

18 SNAP. 

"Who dat?" asked the imp, stock-still, his eyes and 
mouth wide open. 

" Sumpin s gwynetohappin ; dus yer h yar me, Cato ? " 

" What fur? " The jet of the boy s face grew smoky. 

" What is it, Chloe ? " asked Mary. 

" De chicken, honey ; free times he dumb de fence an 
crow d, chile." 

This alone was the dire mishap ; but the resemblance 
to the cock-crowing of the Scriptures, to her a sacred 
mystery, was quite enough as a portent of evil, from 
which she believed there was no escape. 

"Let s have a smoke, Beck." 

The two men passed out of the house, while the 
darkies fell to work, wondering. 

- The dwelling stood in the center of a group of store 
houses ; and from the path where the men were standing 
there was a good view of the post and its surroundings. 
With their faces to the prairie, on their left, partly 
within the circle, was a dense grove, a relic spared by 
the axe in clearing a larger wood. On the right was 
the cabin post, surmounted by the outlook, from which 
an unbroken vista reached to the horizon, and below it, 
far and near, could be seen the bend and sweep of the 
river. From the house-front, the eye fell upon the out 
lying plain ; the kitchen-yard extended to the store 
houses in the rear ; a short distance further on was the 
blufTs edge. A dee}) road was cut into the bluiF 
ascending from the landing into the enclosure, at the 
door of the post. Within bugle-cull, on the right, was 
the camp ; in the far distance a forest, and nearer a 


picturesque ruin. A creek ran across the plateau, near 

by this crumbling landmark. 

"The post and camp, Peter, look about the same." 
At their feet a grassy slope fell away to a lowland 

plain, hedged in by thickets. 

" It has cost a heap o trubel, John, to scrape all that 



"I reckon," he replied, listening to the workshop 
anvils and the whip-snaps mingling with the sounds of 
a busy scene. A small army was quartered in the little 
valley. There, in sight, was the corral; lines of 
wagons, double-filed and parked ; a settlement of 
cabins; further on, the grazing-ground, and cattle 
everywhere ; to the right of it, the hayfields. And 
later in the season, the mowers blades would be seen 
flashing in the sunlight. 

There was good management of men, iu the disci 
pline of the post and camp, under train-leaders and a 
train-boss ; a man, the latter had need to be, of many 
turns, fore-handed, firm, experienced ; a jockey, a vet 
erinary, a cattle-driver, knowing road-craft, savage 
customs and savage manners. Such men were hard to 
find, when found were seldom honest. The scout s 
calling differed from this, and included higher qualities 
as a leader, a guide. His employer was a freighter of 
goods, called a trader, as a purchaser of supplies, under 
contract. The period was that in which the narrow 
trails of the Indian and trapper widened to the high 
ways of commerce. The scout was a leader of the 
caravan ; he planned expeditions ; he saw that the 

20 SNAP. 

roads were clear, or fought his way through ; he knew 
every stream and ford, every tribe, friendly or hostile ; 
he must of needs be fearless, cool-headed, prompt, 
prudent, of sound common sense, a good rider, a sure 
marksman. And Beck was all of these. 

"How s your stock of goods?" he asked. 

"Pootynigh chock-full ; what Charley has bought will 
fill them houses." 

The log store-rooms encircled the dwelling in a wide, 
round cluster of many buildings, separated to ensure 
less loss from the accident of a fire. Such was not gen 
erally the arrangement at out-posts, but seemed to be 
an idea of the trader, caught from the manner of park 
ing his wagons on the road. There were assortments 
stored therein, with arms and ammunition, in readiness 
to supply a fort upon order of the government. In the 
way of drill an armed teamster stood guard, pacing 
the muniment, at night, crying the hours, while the 
trader snored like a patriarch. 

The room they entered, called an office, held a high- 
desk, a table, an iron-box, a few chairs behind a rough, 
plank counter ; on the wall a pen-traced map of North 
America hung from a spike near the roof. 

"You ken go, Harry," was said to the young book 
keeper, Harry Carver, a clever fellow and sharp, as the 
word goes, who seized his hat and went out. 

They found Jack McQuain, an old weather-worn 
trapper, just in from the mountains with his peltries, 
and ready to depart for Santa Fe, seated there. A 


queer relic was this gaunt figure, whose broad jaws, 
ever in motion, ground the morsel of comfort. 

"Hello! life everlasting," said Beck to the veteran, 
who drew forth his bladder wallet. 

" It s forty year sence, I reckon, Beck " 

Happily, a distant sound checked what would have 
been a long recital; a sound much like the mellow- 
voiced harvest horn s over a meadow. Mary had 
heard it, and as the men listened, she called to them : 

"Father, they re coming; it s the boat." 

The trader rose, and taking down a battered Kent- 
bugle, he blew three blasts to summon his bull-whack 
ers to the wharf. The boat s commander, after blow 
ing the stop-whistle, was, in good faith and morals 
bound to wet his own, at his friend s sideboard. 

Those who came in the boat were Charley Marshall, 
the adopted ; Louisa Sommers, Mary s schoolmate ; 
Judge Smith, and a loquacious old woman named Gar- 
rulson. Mary, at once, disposed her friends agree 
ably, except the aged stranger, who stayed behind in 
quest of a feather bed, the making and care of which 
had cost her hours of anguish. In good time she came 
along with her burden. 

"May I never!" she exclaimed, "ef that ain t a 

"Wait, Chloe will help you," Mary said to her 

" Jes tell me whar to put it, chile ; " and presently 
she was toiling up the garret steps with the servant s 
help, rattling on, catching breath as best she could. 

22 SNAP. 

"Et s full six foot, nigh onto it, an no skimp mez 
lire uyther, an Sue Fax s boy, the wus I ever seed, 
afore I had onct throw d my akin bones acrass it, drap- 
ped a coal o fire right in the middle on it " 

"Dar now, ole Miss, yuse safe," said Chloe, grasp 
ing the chance to put in a stopper. 

Lu Sommers, Mary s friend, the pet of an aunt, and 
at her own home the favorite of a coterie of country 
girls, light-hearted, lovable and of sweet, plain man 
ners, was pretty. She had an income in her own right. 
Lu was a childish, affectionate girl, but a riddle to her 
friends, in her simple, uncertain ways ; just such an 
enigma as the truthful friendship of Mary could find 
out. Both were of good size, in the vigor of health, 
but they were as midgets in the company of the sturdy 
men about them. 

There was little in the appearance of Judge Smith 
to modify prejudice, for he Was not a popular man, 
though a politician. He was too much of a busy-body, 
with too little merit or grace ; pompous, with no learn 
ing, an intermeddler where he was generally mischiev 
ous, and was called "Jedge" because somebody said 
he was a lawyer. In meaner parlance, he was spoken 
of as "a shark." The man was leanly tall, slovenly in 
dress, wearing his locks long, for effect, behind his 
ears ; the few hairs below his nose were ill at ease, 
under the stare of his cold, gray eyes. 

Beck was alone when the trader returned, but when 
he and his friend were seated, he said, promptly: 

"I told you, Peter, I had lots to tell; now to 


bisnis. How long has this train-boss been with 

" Oh, a long time ; an he s a feller what knows all 
about oxen ; knows too, every tribe twix h yar an the 

" Don t he give you trouble ? " 

" Heap of it ; he war a drunken slouch wen I bought 
out his teams ; I took him kase it war safest, for he 
might set a tribe agin me ; he has lived among em all, 
an he speaks Mexan, you know. I dragged him outen 
many a scrape, onct for the ruination of a family, an 
I ve heerd wus things about him." 

" Ain t his looks enough ? " 

"He ain t a pooty man, John ; them eyes of hisen is 
like a thirsty steer s a day s pull from water ; but wat 
ken I do ; trade mus go on an we can t git good men 
fur his place ; I do believe he d yoke hisself with the 
devil, to bus me up, ef I turned him off." 

" Your trains were robbed before I come to you ; is 
that so ? " 

"Yes; an men, good men, war shot down at their 

"When was that?" 

" Well, I know it war jes four days arter a full moon ; 
the yeah I disremember." 

Beck smiled, but went on : 

"Peter," he said, almost sternly, "your train-boss 
worked that job." 

" Oh sho ; no no ; how could he ? " 

" He s a land-pirate ; don t I know ; he s in cahoot 

24 SNAP. 

with Injins an Mexans ; he s chief of a gang of train- 

"Youshure, Beck?" 

" Shure ! why man, the nex thing will be to murder 

"Tell me quick, John, how you know it." 

" Know it ! I know him like a book, an heah s a leaf 
out of it; see." 

Beck drew from his blouse a piece of elm bark, on 
the inner side smooth as paper, upon which had been 
burned, with a hot point, certain hieroglyphics. Placed 
before the trader, in the upper left-hand corner was 
seen a circle ; thence, diagonally, were four smaller 
circles ; then two lines crossed, and a figure like the 
stem and branches of a tree. In the lower right-hand 


corner was a rough profile face, marked by a deep line 
drawn at an angle across it. 

" That s a signal, Peter." 

"Ken you read it?" 

" Yes ; see heah ; that first circle is a full moon ; that 
shows the clay when the hound sent it out to the Injins ; 
well, the four little ones are four moons, or days, don t 
you see now ? " 

"No, notzacly." 

" Why, four days after a full moon you were robbed ; 
how s that?" 

" Go on, go on." 

"Well, now see; the cross-lines and figger means 
the cross-roads and the lone tree on the forty-mile 


stretch ; that s zacly the spot ; thar your train was 

" Thunder ! " cried the trader, as if suddenly stricken 

Hold on, heah s more : that face you orter know by 
the mark on it ; that s the slash cross the mug of your 
train-boss. That s the way he does bisnis ; that s a let 
ter to some Injin who led the raid on your train, and it 
was plain enough to him ; they fought at the lone tree ; 
the men fell back an give up, the Injins plundered an 
arterwards divided with the boss. D you see?" 

" Whar did you git this, Beck? " 

"Never mind now ; drop this pirate right off or your 
men ll think you re fraid of a thief." 

" Fraid of him ! don t you know better nor that, John 
Beck? " The old man s lips trembled ; in truth, he saw 
all the old, old troubles fresh and fearful before him ; 
an enemy vicious, devilish, step out on his path; an 
enemy to fight down through danger and death: But 
he got up from his seat quickly, bustled about with his 
books, and said : 

"He ll go or hang, now mind, John." 

The boss was sent for and soon he came shufflin^ 


through the gate of the counter, sneakingly. It was a 
hard, evil face he turned on the scout ; a heavy brow, 
scowling and black, and there was a scar from the 
mouth to the temple. 

"Mornin, kurnel." 

"Hyar, take yer money an go; you hound, now go 
an no words about it." 

26 SNAP. 

" Yer all-fired scrumpshus ; what s up ? " 

"Go, will yer go?" screamed the trader in raire, 
breaking the fellow s whip-stock, which he snatched 
from his grasp, throwing the pieces in his face. 

Jack McQuain stepped in. 

"Iletih, Jack, quick," called Beck, laying his hand 
heavily on the train-boss s shoulder, " don t you know 
this thief? " 

McQuain faced the man, staring hard at the cut on 
his face growing purple. 

" Bill Cartwright, the cribber ! " but the wretch had 
freed himself, howling curses as he broke away. 




BEFORE the sun was up, old Jack set out on his jour 
ney and was seen far away, a figure dwindling to a 
speck, as the day grew brighter. 

" Come here quick, Jump ; bring the rifles, and don t 
be as slow as your figures." 

" In a minit, Whack. What s it ? " 
"A good shot at a squirrel. Come on." 
Whack and Jump are not strangers, for Charley 
Marshall and Harry Carver had fallen by these nick 
names in the most naturally boyish way. One called 
the other " a bull- whacker ; " the " follow-suit " of the 
chum was "counter-jumper," and, boy-like, cutting 
these by-words short, they were known as Whack 
and Jump. 

Whack was of good size, a plain, open-faced strip 
ling, neither coarse nor comely ; strongly built, wide 
shoulders, well-shaped hands and feet. He was the 
son of a Kentucky farmer, of good stock, who died 
poor. In his ways, the youth borrowed a little from 
the fresh manners of Western lads, and from the 
musciilar form and freedom of a border-man. His 
mouth pleasantly held the cheery wrinkle of a half- 
formed smile. 

28 SNAP. 

Jump was very much like his friend in form and 
face, but the taller of the two, about the same w r eight, 
of the same mould ; he stooped slightly from the habit 
of the desk. An air of conceit gave to his face a 
marked cast, not bold but complacent. 

He was soon at the side of Whack, not far from the 
office-door, under a branching maple. 

"Here, take your pet," he said, handing to his com 
panion a Kentucky rifle, the favorite border gun of 
those days : "let s load." 

" Give me a greased patch ; you can take your charge 
from my horn-point." 

"It s my shot, Whack ; where s your game? " 

" Do you see that knot near the crotch of the big 
limb yonder ? " 


"Well, it s a squirrel." 

" You don t mean that knot s not a knot ? " 

"Don t be funny, Jump; see here." Whack raised 
his rifle and fired, cutting the bark under the ambush, 
and the squirrel moved. 

"Stand aside, Whipstock ; give me a chance." The 
speaker was a good shot, but slow of aim, and while 
bringing his piece to a " dead level," Whuck tried to 
flurry him. 

"Your hind sight s raised, Jump." 

"So is my gun ; " but just as his sight in steady range 
covered the mark, a sharp, clear shot rang out behind 
them, and the game fell. 

" Scalped him, by Jingo," cried Beck, lowering his 


piece; "you re too slow, Jumper; an Tnjin would have 
spotted you before you shouldered. Come, Whack, 
the old man orders me to boss the camp, and you re 
my sargent. That s a clean, oft-hand shot twixt his 
yehs," he said, as he threw down the dead squirrel. 

"You may have it, Book-keeper ; I told you your hind 
sight flickered," said he of the whip, laughing, as he 
strode off with the scout. His felt hat sat jauntily, and 
at every stride he flirted the skirt of his brown linen 
blouse, the blouse of the plains, with its pleated front 
and rolling collar. 

The report of the rifle summoned Doctor Tom from 
the ease of his arm-chair to the porch outside, and see 
ing the cloudlet of smoke, like so many of his hopes, 
resolved into air, he turned back, walking slowly. 

This world-worn recluse was the son of a rich 
planter, in childhood a parent s darling, humored in 
the petty fancies of wealth, and taught to lean upon a 
family name and a feeble self. At college the boy 
studied and excelled, not from a love of knowledge, 
but spurred by a hate of those who tried to excel him ; 
the only useful turn of his pride during life. He won 
honors in the profession of medicine, but his riches 
tempted him to ease, and sooner than be chagrined by 
a loss of practice, he quitted the practice altogether. 
The man was accomplished, but in little matters his 
vanity grew to be so puerile it was ever playing at 
cross-purpose with his better parts ; a pride that urged 
the evil of his nature to war with the good and raised 
the strife of a dual self. He was ignorant of his infill- 

30 S.VAP. 

ite weakness ; failure met him more than half-way, dis 
grace at every rash step, catching his morals in the 
meshes of a passion, ungodly, unmanly. His mind be 
came morose, his nerves unstrung, and so he blindly 
went his way ; he quarrelled with best friends, f. night a 
duel, and went down through easy stages to the weaker 
vices of the gaming-table. 

With what was left of his means he bought a steam 
boat. It had passed and re-passed Cheviteau s landing, 
and Doctor Tom and the Colonel were sworn friends. 
On one of the trips the Doctor, in a freak of high 
frenzy, being bantered at cards by a noted player, lost 
his steamer on the throw of a card. The furniture and 
outfit were exempt from the chance, and these, with a 
small stipend from land rents, were the remnants of a 
large fortune. 

The throw of the card was a miracle, for nothing 
less could bring such a man suddenly to his senses ; his 
better nature, his better self, upheld him in the crisis, 
his true pride was touched and quickened. He rose 
from the table indifferently, lighted his cigar with a 
bank-bill, bowed to the company and found his state 
room. There, in the silence, in his conscience, as in a 
mirror, he saw his dual self reflected ; a poor, tortured, 
trembling spirit, helpless, almost hopeless, spoke to 
him feebly but gently. He fell asleep; the voice in 
his ear and tears on his pillow. 

He was another man when he stepped ashore at the 
landing and made the formal transfer of his steamer to 
the winner, in the Colonel s presence. What passed 


between him and the trader afterwards was known only 
to themselves, but the Doctor, after choosing a part of 
the outfit, sold what was left of it, and became an in 
mate of the house. And so it was that therein the 
long oaken table, covered with green cloth, became 
the dining-board, the leather-seated arm-chairs ranged 
with coarser fellows, the carved side-board gave out an 
odor like a Turkish cabinet s, the little elegancies of 
Mary s room were tokens of the Doctor s regard. 
She was to him the seraph in the desert of his mis 

" What yer doing man ? " cried Chloe from her door 
step. A teamster stood near her quarters about to fire 
upon a bird on her roof-tree, "is yer gwyne ter bring 
de jegment?" 

"No, I se gwyne ter bring down a bird." 

" Doan yer do it, please ; dar now don t ; kase yer see 
mister thar s gwyne to be truble ; its a comin sho ; in de 
bang o de rifle dar s blood, I tell ye, ony you keep on/ 

While she talked the bird flew away. 

" Good-by, Doctor Torn;" it was Mary s voice, as 
she looked in at the porch-door. 

"Good-by, little run-about," he replied, walking 
faster to see her off, and kissing his hand, with a bow, 
as she left the steps. 

"Good-by, aunt Chloe!" 

"Good-by, honey, is yer gwyne? de laws, Cato," she 
said, dropping her voice, "all clat little one wants is 
tedders fer to fly." 

32 SNAP. 

"Fedders!" the boy s month once opened, it burst 
into song, as his heels flew up : 

" In der mornin, in der mornin." 

"Oh, hesh, boy, yus alias 11 try in ferto frowyer leo;s 
away; do hesh." 

"She s cut out jes like my sester Ann, and she was 
the pootiest piece of gal-flesh " here Mrs. Garruison 
stopped short as Chloe left her "to min de stobe." 

Mary started out on her love-lighted path, catching 
the glow and the glory of the bright summer morning; 
in her hand a quaker-basket filled with nic-nncs for the 
sick, and the little rye-straw hat. Her daily stroll, 
and many times daily when needed, was to the white 
hamlet of cabins, close by the green cattle pasture. 
Around her steps a flowery wilderness threw its per 
fume on the air. Her influence was felt in all the little 
matters of the post and camp. In the cabins she was 
an oracle ; to the simple folk she was as one inspired, 
working wonders through the perfect sway of love ; her 
own sympathies so tender, she felt suffering as keenly 
as the sufferer, chaining each one to her happy self, 
each link a blessing from other hearts. 

As she nearcd the camp she heard the cheer of the 
men, a welcome to Beck; she saw her father tending 
the cattle-drove ; she heard the sound of the anvil, and 
the snap of the whip ; nor did she fail to note the Jud<re 
in a shady spo< >dged about by a group of off-duty 
hands. His ac lintancc with each had ripened in ten 
minutes, in tea more he spoke as one who had known 


them all their lives. Some of the men had families, 
and the log-huts were held by them rent-free on condi 
tions which enforced order and cleanliness, Mary s own 
terms. Nor was she loath to reprove or warn them. 

"I heard of you, Mister Tim," she said, to a rollick 
ing Irishman. 

"An did ye, indade, mavourneen? I faith, its little 
good o me, that same, ochone. Bys will be bys," all 
the while squinting a mischievous eye, for he had been 
on a spree, and he knew that she knew it. 
A step further she asked a Scotchman : 
"How s the baby, Mister Sandy?" 
"Bad, bad, mi lassie, it war a skittish night along 
wid the sic un." 

A little beyond she met Jane Potts, a buxom 
damsel, wearing a downcast, timid look, who spoke in 

" Good mornin," the girl said, as she edged away. 
" Weil, Jane, has your ship come in with the beau 
you wait for? " 

"Not much of a ship jes yet." 

At the cabins crowds of urchins followed her ; she 
passed in and out of each hut dispensing her basket s 
freight, striving to make some one happier, or some 
thing better, in the delightful drudgery of doing good. 
Shelooked in upon the sick child asleep, whispered a 
caution, and hastened back. 

To vary her walk a little, Mary took a path skirting 
the camp, and as she moved along briskly, she was 
suddenly confronted by Bill Cartwright. He eyed her 

34 SNAP. 

thievishly and boldly advanced a step, then shuffled off, 
as if by a glance he had been warned to move on ; a 
step farther in the grass stood a mounted Indian. At 
an angle of the path some distance beyond, in an inter 
space of foliage lighted by the flickering sunshine, she 
heard a woman s voice and saw the form of one ; no 
longer the demure Jane, but Jane as a hoyden taunting 
Whack. She passed by, and where the path entered 
the camp she saw Beck awaiting her. 

"Don t take that cut-off any more, Mary; tisn t 

" If you think so, Mister John, I ll take the other." 

"That s right ; didn t you see my rifle leveled on that 
hound ; he saw me, and the boys have gone to warn 
him off. Now I ll see you home." 

" Well, come along, if you will ; won t you carry the 
basket? " She tossed it to him. 

Had he grown dear to her, this son of Anak, this 
boyish giant? W r as she trying his wits by her winning 
ways, or teasing his shyness? She knew calmly his 
worth, his kindly heart, its truthfulness, his bold, 
brave manhood, but there was much in his life ajar 
with her conscience. 

" Thar s some bad men about, and that s why I said 
what I did, Mary." 

rf That s kind of you ; if evil meets us or dogs our 
steps, Mister John, can t we find a little fresh good, 
for every new evil ; that s the right way, ain t it?" 

"Right enough," he answered, looking down on the 
midget of his admiration, as if she had read to him the 


law ; then straightening, he drew closer, from an in 
stinctive right to guard her. 

In height, and in the power of his massive limbs, the 
latent strength of his sweeping stride, the swing of his 
arms, in presence and purpose, Beck was a leader ; but 
the manner of the man, at his ease, was almost boyish ; 
there were moods also into which his spirits fell sud 
denly, from gay to grave, and sometimes abruptly into 
a show of temper, or a transition to a sober strain that 
seemed despondent. His old friend thought all this 
came from some cross in life, and Mary hoped it was a 
dislike of his calling or a distrust of it. He was 
delighted in her company ; to what she said to him in 
playful humor or in the many and varied ways in which 
her conversation was set to catch his thoughts, his 
consciousness, he was a kind and ready listener ; but 
his past was always forbidden ground ; if invaded, he 
rose confused, with a shade of pain on his face, and 
walked away. 

" What a splendid day this is ; I wish I was a barefoot 
girl again." 

" You." 

" Yes, me ; don t you know I once run barefooted? " 

You ! well Mary ! " The scout gave voice to 
surprise, or showed his respect in this concrete form. 

"Well, what, Mister John?" 

" Nothin, only thinking of a little, white foot, on the 
big green earth ; didn t it hurt you ? " 

"No, of course not," she said, laughing. 

They had reached the porch where the Doctor was 

36 SNAP. 

talking with Lu, and Beck moved on towards the 

" Why didn t you take me with you?" asked Lu. 

"Take a day s rest, write to your Aunty, then I ll 
show you everything." 

" How s the baby ? " asked the Doctor. 

"It was asleep." 

" That s better than physic." 

An hour later she was seated in her room, stitching 
an infant s dress. 

" Mary, here s a friend would like to see you," called 
Lu ; and laying aside her sewing, Mary came out to 
meet Sandy, the teamster, at the door. 

"Will ye come, lassie? the bairn is takin bad, an 
the mither is sore worrit." 

" I ll come right away, Mister Sandy." 

" An I ll gae to the cabin wid the word, bless ye." 

As the teamster hurriedly left the house, she called 
Chloe into counsel, handing her the tiny dress, which 
she looked at, as she parted with it, with gentle regret. 

"Do it up, nicely, Chloe ; will you? Make it white, 
Chloe ; just as white as snow." 

" Chile, dat baby 11 neber put it on." 

" Maybe not ; but fold it prettily for me ; won t you ?" 

"To be sartin, honey ; sho, I vrill." 

In another moment, after placing the house in Lu s 
charge, she started off, tripping over the same sunny 
path. She paused, looked back and said to her friend : 

"Lu, don t forget, father likes three lumps of sugar 
in his tea." In the gleam of the summer day, still and 


golden, she sped along, and Beck seeing her pass, 
followed at a distance, with his rifle over his shoulder. 

Sandy s cabin, just over a roll in the prairie through 
the cainp, was soon reached. It stood in the shade of 
a sycamore ; a window on either side gave it the sem 
blance of comfort, and a bush of sweet-briar scented 
the air about the door. Mary entered the front room 
of the two ; from the rafters hung yellow gourds, onion- 
ropes, dry herbs ; there was a pile of walnuts in a 
corner ; a jar of apple butter and a row of pale, blue- 
rimmed plates, a burnished knife or two, on a shelf. 

Taking up, at once, the duties of nurse : 

"Come mother," she said to Sandy s wife, who sat 
on a stool by a trundle-bed, fanning, "take some rest 
now, I ll call you if baby s no better." 

"Ah, chiel," moaned the woman, looking up, "ye ve 
come to see the last o the puir thing." 

" As God wills, as God wills, mother ; but I ll wake 
you, and maybe baby will mend : go now." 

" I ll rest the body a bit, for it s mony a night it s 
needed it." 

As the nurse opened her budget, the weary wife 
stretched herself on the larger bed, and was soon 

Taking the stool, Mary glanced down tenderly at the 
sick child. There was pain on the thin, haggard face, 
the hollow cheeks were bloodless, nor could the light of 
its golden hair, which she raised and let fall with a 
pang, lend warmth to the pale, cold form. 

She rose, as the infant with a low, sobbing cry, 


waked from its troubled sleep. Sandy was sent off for 
Chloe to hasten her to the cabin, for in all sadden 
emergencies she came at Mary s call. 

" Say, Mister Sandy, that the child can t swallow, 
and leave word at the house, please, that I ll sit up all 

It was not long to wait, for Chloe came in haste. 

" It s no yuse, honey," she said, "nuttin kin help it, 
cep do Great Marster." 

"Shall I wake the mother, Chloe?" 

"It hasn t long to go on dis a way." 

When Sandy joined his wife at the bedside, a feeble 
flutter of the baby s breath wafted the spirit into the 
evening s calm. All still, in its snowy robe, the little 
one lay, the pale face whiter in its nest of curls, and 
Mary placed in its tiny hand a sprig of the fragrant 

Silence, moved only by murmuring whispers, chas 
tened the solemn watch. All was still in the heart of 
the solitude. Clouds, warm with the flush of sunset 
across the wide, white radiance of the moon, sailed bv, 
and beams of light streamed in upon the nurse, and fell 
upon the cold little image. Out of the night came con 
soling voices to the ear of Alary ; but suddenly there 
seemed to rise above the sweet-briar bush at the win 
dow, a dark and forbidding shadow ; it changed to a 
hideous fright ; and, as it grew upon her sight, she saw 
the dark, bad face of Cartwright. He leaned upon the 
window-sill, reaching towards her, and about to speak. 
Then, the luminance grew intense ; she heard and felt 


the wafting of pinions, and saw a descending Azrael, 
whose sword was like a glint of the lightning, as the 
shadow vanished. Again, she heard the waves of dis 
tant winds, and the air was filled with a perfume not of 
earth. A flitting sprite, winged with the fragments of 
a shattered star, gazed in upon her, greeted her with 
the smile of a cherub, the lace was the baby s. 

As Mary rose in the transports of her dream, Lu 
caught her in her arms. The sun had risen, and the 
girls hastened home, stopping but a moment on the 
way to give directions for the funeral. The trader met 
his daughter at the door. 

"You will come with us, father, this evening, when 
w r e bury the child, won t you?" 

"Yes, we must all go," he answered. 

In the twilight, they came together from household 
and camp. Chcviteau was the first at the cabin, and he 
said to Sandy in his plain, honest way : 

"Til take up the child, Sandy, my man. jes the same 
as my own, jes the same, Sandy." Then raising 
the little painted box under his arm, and removing his 
hat, his men followed him in line to a knoll, where, 
among the flowers, the grave was opened. The scout, 
with friendly care, covered the coffin. 

" I wish that His hands had been placed on my head, 

That His arms had been thrown around me, 
And that I might have seen His kind look, when He said 
Let the little ones come unto Me." 

It was Mary s voice, singing a sacred melody. Its 

40 S.VAP. 

sweetness, trembling with emotion, rolled forth on the 
green prairie waves, dying out in pathetic pathos. It 
waked a thrill in the stern hearts around her, and left 
on the manly faces a happier look. 




A FLOWERING spread of daisies and buttercups over 
laid the little grave, when the day of the barbacue came 

The earnest request of the Judge to be permitted to 
address Cheviteau s men, in a formal way, had received 
kind attention. The old man was stoutly set in his 
own political notions, and never stinted those under him 
in the freedom of their own faith. So it was that when 
he gave leave to hold a public meeting in his camp, he 
determined to make the day set apart a holiday, and 
with liberal good feeling, a barbacue was allowed. 
Through the day, there would be feasting and sports, 
and in the evening the Judge would hold forth in a 

All had gone early from the house to the camp to 
join in the merry-making. Beck had led Kitty, his 
coal-black mare, to the family group, seated in the 
shade of a small grove, and having placed a side-saddle 
on the little pacer, held her so that the girls might have 
a ride. 

"Come, Miss Lu, I ll help you up." 

"Me ! oh, no, please, let me off ; " she hesitated, in a 
timid way. 

42 SNAP. 

"Yes, von will, Lu," Mary insisted, "for I know 
you re a good rider." 

"I can set you in the saddle, if you say so;" an 
offer of the officious Whack. 

"No, I d rather not. I don t know the horse." 

" I ll hold her head," Jump said, not to be outdone. 

"Why, thar s nothing kinder on this yar arth than 
this little beast; she can do anything but talk; jes 
see heah : Down, Kit, down, pet, down." Beck 
touched the mare s knee with his foot as he spoke, 
and she swayed down so low he could almost stride 
over her. 

"Is that a self-made boss, Beck?" asked Cheviteau. 

"She ll do anything I tell her." 

"Come now, Lu, for me." 

"No, no, Mary dear; I don t like to, and all these 
men about the camp." 

"Oh, pshaw, they re a kind, good sort of people, 
home folks, rough as they look. I go among them 
every day, Lu, and there s never an unkind word to 
me ; they re a long ways off, too." Mary was a little 

"Get up, Miss Lu ; I ll ride behind and hold you 
on," Whack added. 

" Give me sitting room on the tail, and we ll all go ; " 
this was Jump s attempt to help out. 

But Lu held back, while Mary, impatient, and more 
than all, not to let her friend think that her father s 
people would bo rude, she asked, coaxingly : 
"Won t you,Lu? 


" Not now." 

" Well, help me up, Mister John." She measured 
the stirrup, and placing her foot in the scout s hand, 
she leaped into the saddle. " Break me a thorn or 
two, Charley, to pin on my hat ; now, the whip." 
Then catching the bridle short, she turned away 

"Well, Mary !" exclaimed Beck, rubbing his hands 
like a happy boy. 

"Hold hard, child, when you speed her; she s a 
pacer, mind," cautioned her father, as she passed 

It was a balmy and serene day, all freshly bright in 
the youth of the season, and the little mare bore her 
mount far away in the white breadth of the sunlight. 
Not for a moment did the scout drop his eyes from the 
receding figures. He looked at them fixedly with an 
earnest, pleased look. The rider kept on in a steady 
pace to a wide, open mead, flecked by rolls of the prai 
rie, and as she gracefully swept around it, changed her 
course to ride back. Beck s lingering sight saw her 
seat herself down in the saddle, shorten the rein, raise 
the whip, and he felt a sudden thrill caught from the 
spirit of the girl in the distance. 

" Here she comes ; here she comes," he kept repeating 
loudly, " here she comes, boys, like a prairie-fire, 
look at that ! " His wild manner was noticed at last by 
the crowd, and all came forward, looking on. 

"Stand back," cried Doctor Tom, "make way I ll 

44 SNAP. 

" Hoopee ! look thar, see that ! " was heard, in the 
scout s wordy glee, while Whack and Jump kept a track 
clear for the speeding horse. 

"Hold her hard, girl steady ! " called out the trader 
long before the rider neared him ; repeating his heed at 

Bending low on the mare s neck, her stray hair 
weighted down and afloat, like a loose lonely fleck of 
cloud, she plied the whip as her horse, now in a run, 
leaped over the stretch of meadow. On she came, 
charmed with the sport, and as she neared the camp she 
raised her hat. 

"You, Kit!" she screamed, while under the whip 
and voice, the little, lithe thorough-sped swept through 
the lines of cheering men. 

Beck seized the bridle, and without aid, Mary leaped 
to the ground. "There, Lu," she said, "you see how 
we ride out here ; I am none the worse for it." 

" Well Mary ! " said Beck, " it beats a circus ; " he 
went on, as though the happiest day of his life was but 
half over ; " and Kit, did you ever do it like that be 
fore? " patting the mare s face for an answer. 

It was now high noon. At dawn the men had stirred 
the low fires of the roast-pit, where cords of wood burned 
through the night, and the huts of the hamlet turned out 
on the green, their household goods and gods. Men 
and women, their babes and brats, barelegged, bare 
footed children, round and plump, were there, the 
young ones running wild. The big, fat ox was spitted 
whole, then turned on chains with hayforks, and carved 


on a platform, with cleavers. Then, there was a set-out 
of loaves and pies on rows of plank-tables, loaded 

The custom was, in the trader s primitive notion of a 
feast, to open it in person, standing with his family 
about him, at the head of the board, and as the men 
filed by, to exchange with each the homely good- wishes 
of the day. In this way came Tim Murphy, the rol 
licking Irishman, Heinrich, the Dutchman, Sandy, the 
Scotchman, the Mexican vaqueros cow-boys their 
ponchos, glazed sombreros, and jingling spurs a little at 
odds with the dress of others. Then came the border- 
boys, bull- whackers, all, yahoos, suckers, corn -crack 
ers, and one, a lad from a local Egypt, called Legs, 
by his fellows, was set up well for a deep swallow. He 
halted, raising his tin above his head, and in a loud 
voice, saluted : 

"Heah s to Miss Mary, boys, hooray ! " 

Cheer on cheer rang out, for the boy had spoken 
well, and had nattered adroitly. No good word of the 
day came nearer the trader s heart, and even in praise 
so boisterous, what he said was to Mary a touching 
reminder of the men s good will. Quickly taking a rib 
bon from her hair she tied it on the boy s whip-stock, 
saying simply, 

" I thank you," Then they all cheered again. 

And so the barbacue began while the family and 
friends drew oif to their own pic-nic, that the people 
might the better enjoy themselves, left to their own 
fashion. The men enjoyed the treat heartily. 

Standing by, old Chloe fixed herself and smiled, in 

46 SNAP. 

doubt of her senses ; the pies and bread were no longer 
in sight, a whole ox had vanished, and her labor of a 
fortnight dwindled away in a twinkling. 

"Gib em half a chance, dey d breed a famine, sho ; " 
she said to herself, as she turned away. 

The meal broke up and the men betook themselves to 
their favorite sports, running, jumping, tilting, quoit- 
pitching, feats of strength ; and above the flux of human 
voices, the crisp, sharp snap of the whip* was heard, 
till Mary rode her race. Some of the men were practis 
ing "the double-snap," others, trying to chip a plank 
with the cracker, or to make "the fur fly" from a dry 
hide. A good-humored set seized the giggling Cato 
and stood him upon the tail-board of a wagon, like a 
puppet. A threat was enough, and as the whips 
cracked, he danced and sang : 

Oli-lio ah-ha, 

Toota, toota ta ; 
De heel an do Baffin 
A pattin an a puffin, 
Oh, watch dis little niggah 
As quick es eny triggah, 
A pattin an a puffin, 
Yer fink he s good fer nuffin. 
O-ho ah-ha, 

Toota, toota ta. 

Before the earliest bird that morning, Mrs. Garrulson 
had cause Jto make known to all under the trader s shel- 

*This incessant sound was the music of the trado, but the ox- whip of the 
plains is a torture when used cruelly ; the stock is a hoop-pole about five feet 
in length, the lash of twisted ox-hide of double length, of double-twist mid- 
length, and is whirled and thrown with both hands. The snap, in the recoil, 
is as loud as a rifle s crack ; it bruises and scalps where it strikes. 


tor, that she, at least, was awake, and in healthful vigor. 
A crashing sound, varied by an occasional scream, 
hastened Cheviteau from his quarters to the attic. 

"What ails you, ole woman?" he asked, doubtingly. 

"Ails, is t?" she shouted back, catching for breath, 
as she dropped the remnants of a chair, " cf half yer life 
had a bin spent a savin penny arter penny ; then all 
ther truble of a raisin geese, goose arter goose ; then 
the pickin an a sortin of de feders, feder arter feder, ter 
make a bed fer yer ole man to stretch his akin bones 
acrass ; to tote it roun from helifex to kingum cum, 
and to hev a darn-sarned, dog-gone rat a nibbling at it ; " 
here she cast about her for the chair-leg, " I tell yer 
Mister, I se boun to slay that ar varmint, ef I beat yer 
house down." 

With the sympathetic feeling of an old man, the Col 
onel retreated. 

Now she was seated on the green, the center of a 
crowd of women, and sun-browned curious urchins, 
forming an outer circle. She had talked to them in a 
tireless strain ; the pedigrees of each she questioned 
closely, rattling on to scraps of gossip, to frantic 
romance, the dire and vengeful rajds of Indians, to 
fables of spookes and blood-sucking vampires, to whip 
around to cures for cattle-murrain, rot in sheep and 

" An ken you cure the heart-ache ?" asked a malicious 
girl, eyeing Jane Potts, who stood up with shaded eyes 
bent upon the distant Mister Whack. 

48 SNAP. 

n Ar it bad sot ; for cf it ar it s a death -stroke," she 
replied, gravely. 

"Not so bad as that comes to, I hope," the other 
said, giggling. 

" Hope ; jes what I sed to John an he ar my 
second and war slow to take on John, ses I, ef it 
wasn t fur hope the heart would bust, he tuk." 

" An wat s good fer the rhumatiz ? " queried a crippled 

" May I never ! rhumatiz why honey, I ken cure 
it ; jes try a little frog s-fat." 

" Frog s fat ! " exclaimed Jane, in a loud, contemptu 
ous laugh, " where d you ever see a frog with any fat 
on it?" 

In truth the old woman had never seen the marvel, 
but to be silenced in a flow of wisdom : 

" What ! " she said, springing up, " its jes as easy to 
find that ar, as ter find a young man s heart ; gal, you 
don t know how ter find it ; " turning the laugh on Jane 
she walked off in triumph. 

Lu and Jump had drawn away, leaving the Judge 
and the Doctor, the trader and Mary chattily passing 
the time, in the shade, while Beck, looking after the 
stock, sent Legs out on the prairie to drive in stray 

" Oh, such lots of fun as we had, such nice young 
fellows to ride about with us ; how aunty would scold 
and fret ; " warbled Lu, in little fits and starts, in high 
and low key, varied by the melody of l^r rich laugh. 
She spoke of her home, its many and lovely attractions, 


of a farm they had, its stock ; of her pet cows and horses 
and almost everything connected therewith, until the 
plodding Jump, a business young man and from forco 
of habit, soon resolved mentally the net value of these 
lands and tenements; what the income of the pretty 
girl might be, even to the simple and compound 

" I told them," she went on, " that I was coming back 
when I could bring a scalp to my apron-string, and 
not before," using a border phrase. 

Jump whistled low, and said, after a pause : 

" Did you? " rubbing his head, an intimation that he 
was ready to submit to her gentle cruelty. Lu prattled 

The family party was broken up, when Mary and 
Whack took a stroll ; the former holding back her con 
sent until upon a quick change of thought she joined 
him in the walk. Her father had observed in Mary s 
manner throughout the day, a quiet, if not a sad turn 
to its usual mirth ; even her ride had seemed to others 
than himself a feverish excitement, which some un 
known cause had warmed. 

" Yonder s a place I d like to own, Colonel." 

" Spec you would suh, but you can t squat thar, 

At a distance less than a mile, a picturesque ruin 
partly hidden in a clump of evergreens and wild, 
blooming berry bushes, caught the speculator s envious 
eye. It was a tumbledown, deserted cabin; birds 
made their nests in the (Tumbling chimney, the scarlet- 

50 SNAP. 

leafed vine crept between the rolling loirs, the rocks 
about it were weather-browned, capped with ivy or 
with moss. Perched on the crest of a hillock amonor 


shrubs, the ground fell away in slopes of verdure, 
greenest where the brook leapt laughing down the 
gorge. From the trees near by the lengthened shadows 
crept, color-crossed with sunshine, at one, around, 
about it, with the garish plain. It was a rare, poetic 
touch of nature. 

"A beauty-spot, Colonel, that s a fac." 

" It s a lanmark, Jedge, for forty miles to the trains 
comin in." Set in the round, broad, gilded space, it 
seemed to rise in the azure air like a tropic island from 
the sea." 

"It s a squatter s site, ain t it?" 


rf Yes ; an the mos misfortunit set I ever seed, Jed c. 
Some yehs ago, a man an wife an chile came along an 
squatted thar. They lived sorter content like, till the 
man war took down with the agur, an from that out, 
things went crooked with em, the crookedest sort. 
I give em a lift now an then, an Mary she took kindly 
to cm, little as she was, but the man he went from bad 
to wus, and broke squar down in the fust rut. He war 
as crazy as a June-bug, Jedge, and then this sarpint 
Bill Cartwright crept over the doorstep. If I had a 
known it in time, I d a made his flesh creep afore he 
went too far. Howsomever, I liked Tobias, for he war 
a hard-forking, honest feller, I mus say that, an as fur 


scripsher, he know d it, Jcdge, from Genesis to Rcverla- 
tions, varsc by varse, clean through. I ve seen him at 
the plow, the cattle pulling outer furrow, the .sweat a 
pourin down his face, an he a talkin holy-writ. Things 
went wrong in course ; his wife got tired an mopish 
like, an she took sick an died. Ole Chloe, she sot up 
long nights along with her, but it war no use. Then 
thai* was the darter, a woman mos grown, the foolish- 
est, mos stubborn, simple kinder critter lever seed, 
but to her father, why, Jedge, he thought she war 
jes an angel. I ve seed em settin at ther door-step 
yander, at sundown, many a time, her head in his lap, 
an he a play in with her curls. She war a likely-looking 
piece too, an I ve heerd him tell her them stories from 
the bible better nor preachin, Jedge, an I sot 
thar with em offen, an many a story took holt on me, 
an has hilt its holt ever sence. But the gal went off 
with Cartwright an thar s no countin for a woman s 
notion he treated her like a clag, they say, an she 
died too. Wen her father heeri it, he went a ravin, 
an a stavin mad, madder than a bald-hornet, an he s bin 
wanderin about from that time out. It war a long time 
arter Bill come inter my service that I heerd about the 
thing, and then he mended like, but Tobias, some say 
he ar dead, some that he ar alive, but Cartwright allers 
swore he had seen his ghost out thar, an the men say 
the place ar hanted. But I got it from his people ; it s 
a pooty place, too ; jes see the sAveep from the hill to 
the ravine, thar. No, Jedge, it can t be had." 

52 SNAP. 

"I d like to have a mortgage on it," he said in a 
disappointed way, and the two separated. The trader 
sought out the nook where Jump was still paying the 
most courteous attention to Lu, and the Judge joined 
the crowd. 

As Beck rode off on Kitty to picket her near the 
cabin till sundown, when Lu would ride, two mounted 
Indians rode into the camp. They were often seen 
there and no heed was taken of their coming, a com 
mon imprudence on the border was to rely too much 
upon the Indian s show of friendship. Settlers and 
traders were generally careless until some catastrophe 
awakened their caution. 

Bill Cartwright was not far away. The felloAv, boy 
and man, had served his turn at every vice ; his were 
the coarser qualities of the bully, though not without a 
certain boldness in crime ; a blood-reckless audticity, a 
flurry of passion, which won him admiration among 
the worst of his kind. He consorted with thieves, a 
low gambler in the cribs of the south-west, the go-be 
tween of the debauched savage and ferocious white ; 
he the prime cause of race antipathies and rankling 

Mary and Whack returned to their starting-place, 
talking fast, he protesting, and she with a warning 

"I have a right, Charley, to speak to you as a sister; 
such I ve been to you and such I hope to be ever. 
Take care, don t trifle ; she s not the girl for you ; 
she s artful, and when too late you might find that 


something had changed your nature in a minute, and 
you d be lost." 

r? But, Mary," he said, " you re too fast." 

" Don t let that be said of you ; now I m going to the 
cabin alone, for some flowers." 

"Til go with you ; it s a long tramp from here." 

tf No, never mind; I ve been there often alone." She 
feared what might be thought of their going together, 
as too close an intimacy. Had Beck been there he 
would have followed her with his rifle ready, but Mary 
felt safe in the love of all who knew her. 

And, as she tripped away, the two Indians, unseen, 
rode off on their ponies. 

On the path she had taken, the ruin lay sleepily 
quiet ; the fitful shade around it fell away in graceful 
curves. All forms of delicious color, from the scarlet 
hues of a low, western sun, to the far-off specs of 
beauty, one by one were singled out; the emerald and 
the ruby, plumes of crimson, the feathery and winged 
floss, waved in myriad sprays of light. And Whack 
watched every step of the gentle girl, as she sped along, 
swinging her little straw hat. Then he turned slowly 
toward the camp, as her form, in a flood of sunshine, 
disappeared. . 

Beck had sauntered into camp again, and the Judge, 1 
ever alert upon the chances of a politician, and in ac 
cordance with the day s arrangements , had now drawn 
the crowd around him. In the ancient form of a 
stump speech he made hay while the sun lasted, and he 
was near the close of his harangue, when, nearing the 

54 SNAP. 

camp, the teamster, Legs, was heard hailing at the top 
of his voice. 

The trader and the scout were standing on the edge 
of the crowd, and on the instant Beck s muscular form 
seemed knotted to spring beyond its common height. 

"Sumpiu s happened," he said in a husky voice; 
" Where s Mary ? " 

" Where s Mary ? " was repeated. 

" Gone to the cabin," said Whack. 

By this, the lad, running an almost breathless race, 
drew near. 

" Gone ! gone ! " he shouted. 

"Gone ! " The word was taken up and retold, while 
Cheviteau drew the exhausted boy into the crowd. 

" Speak quick," he said, trembling in the white heat 
of fear and suspense. 

Again the ominous syllable, " Gone ! " 

" Can t you talk straight. Who s gone ! " 

A moment s silence for breath, then the lad s pale 
face looked up and he answered : 

" Bill Cart wright an yer darter ! " 



OUT of the golden light into the shadow, out of the 
shadow into utter darkness, so danger followed Mary, 
enfolding her like night, as she bent above the violets 
and bluebells ; a swift, black frown of Me seen in the 
faces of the flowers ; a cloud-like, dismal ill, closing 
in her life, on the instant, to a narrow span of pain ; a 
clutch like the vulture s, deep and vital. 

"Open yer mouth," hissed Cartwright, as he threw 
a blanket over her head and his arms held her fast, 
"I ll brain ye with my pistol." 

Through all her border-life she feared that some 
mischance might bend her spirit to a rigid test, but 
her native, air-fed strength, and that stronger trust 
besides in will to bear and suffer and be brave, had 
like an armor girded her. She felt the cold steel 
touch her shoulder ; it waked her latent courage, and 
dashing the blanket aside, she stood alone, defiant. 

"How dare you! how dare you!" she repeated 
with crimson cheek and quivering lip. 

Springing out of the man s grasp with a sudden 
wrench, the brute was amazed. 

"H yar now," he snarled, f give in, you d better," 

56 5A:yy. 

fearful to lay hands on the calm, steel-nerved young 
Spartan facing him- " you d better, or it mought be 
wus for ye ; I se got nothink agin ye gal, mind that ; 
wen yer ole man comes down to make us squar, I ll 
give ye up an not afore." 

"It s worth your life to hold me," hinting that he 
would be slain if he did not yield, or was caught, "do 
you count on that?" she asked, folding her arms. 
"I allus take that chence." 

" What s your price ? " She ventured the question to 
gain time, casting about her in a thousand flash-like 

"Price ! well, a cool thousand or two, I reckon ; dus 
ye mean bisnis?" 

" Is that what you want ? " 

" Yes, that ar all I se arter ; money ar the tiling 

During this brief, shrewd parley and it brought 
her a world of comfort she saw the one sordid 
motive of the wretch. From her kindness to him in 
her father s service, and from his manner now, she 
gleaned the belief that her capture, bad as it was, was 
the worst of his wicked design. 

"If that is what you want, Bill Cartwright, listen 
to me; I ll pay the money. Let inc go, and I will 
promise it." 

"You!" he excLiimed, the scowl clearing away for 
an instant as he looked at her steadily ; "gal, I d trust 
ye fer a mil run, but you keiit ; don t I k now, so don t 
tek on, an dry up." 


He whistled thrice through his lingers, when two 
Indians on their ponies rode out of the hollow near 
by, the same redskins who left the camp and who 
had been often fed from her father s bounty. They 
led the mustang of their leader and the scout s mare, 
stolen while grazing where he had fastened her picket- 
pin but an hour before. By signs they made known 
how they came by the catch. 

"Luck," said the pirate, grinning coarsely with a 
lively faith in Chance, as a deity to be worshipped. 

Mary now saw that to submit was the one sole 
alternative, in which the airiness of her disposition 
began to fade. Still, she held patiently to the belief 
that no other harm than a cruel captivity, how long 
she knew not, was in store. She tried hard to keep 
back the teeming fancies of fear and hope, the troop 
ing thoughts of her home and friends, the ever wake 
ful doubts that she might the better plan an escape 
from the peril. Could she give a signal? What if 
she screamed or ran? Would he shoot her down? 
What if when mounted she dashed oft" at the risk of 
her life? She weighed and turned each thought, for 
there is no faint or spasm in the bravery of a border- 
bred girl, but in her captor s look she saw a purpose 
not to be trifled with ; she was completely in the power 
of a brute and savages, he worse than they ; nor wtis 
she allowed to dwell upon her miserable mischance. 
Cartwright motioned for the mare to be brought. 

"Now, gal, mount; thar s no time fer foolin, an 
throw this round ye, fer we se gwyne ter ride all 


night." He handed a blanket to Mary and was about 
to raise her to the saddle, when she sprang from him. 

"I ve warned you, Cartwright, not to touch me; if 
you do, I ll call the ghosts from the cabin to protect 
me." She had spoken hastily, girl-like, in a weak 
threat, but it struck deeper than she knew. A super 
stitious awe seemed to blanch the villain s face. He 
looked over his shoulder, as though he feared she had 
seen some specter in the ruin behind him. 

"Ain t thar a boss all saddled fer ye; wat makes 
wimmin so tickler, anyway?" He seemed willing 
enough not to provoke what charm her purity might 
have with unseen spirits, ;md permitted her to lead the 
mare to a stump and seat herself in the saddle. Wav 
ing his hand, one Indian took the lead, the other the 
rear, placing their captive in line between them. Cart- 
wright, with a leap, crossed his mustang, and after a 
glance at his rifle, he looked up. 

" Git ! " he growled ; and as they moved off he fol 

Just then the young teamster, Legs, made his way 
through the shrubbery. Hearing the voice of his for 
mer boss, and shrinking with fright at what he saw, he 
crawled behind a stump to rest his rifle. It was a sight 
to have unnerved the bravest heart in camp. The sur 
prising boldness of the kidnapper, and the danger of 
the girl, so well-beloved, would have flurried the best 
among them. Legs raised his gun and leveled it, but 
as he ranged on the thief, the sight-line led to Mary 
further on ; he changed place for better aim, but Cart- 


wrigjit in a rambling gait, seemed to shift his form so 
as to expose her to an unsteady shot. The boy s wits 
forsook him, his hands trembled, and the distance from 
his mark rapidly widened. Down the ravine, over a 
path leading to the river growing wider and smoother, 
the thief and his party quickened pace. The teamster 
sprang to his feet, fled to the camp, shouting his 
shrill alarm. 

In the grasp of Cheviteau the boy dealt a hard, fell 
blow in the words he uttered. The old man staggered 
back ; there was frantic haste in talk of the men around 
him, and the women circled about the form of Lu, who 
had fainted. Chloe went about clapping her hands, 
frenzied at the fault of having prophesied truly, and 
the crowd began, one and all, to wear the look of des 
perate men. 

" Mount, boys ; I ll give a thousand to the one " 
said the trader, gaining strength and voice. For this 
little moment Beck stood apart, stung to the quick of 
his free, unfettered nature, and with pained impatience 
in his face, he strode into the group. 

" Stop ! " It was a stern command, and there was 
silence ; "don t budge an inch ; not a man." 

" What fer, John Beck ? " hurriedly asked Cheviteau, 
flushed with anger. 

fr Leave it to me ; I ll bring her back. Don t you 
see what the hell-cat is after? He d draw the whole 
camp out, to steal in and burn down the settlement. 
Don t you see his dodge ? A crowd will make him hide. 
If I ain t back in three days, follow me along the 

60 SNAP. 

Divide. Double your guards and hold the camp ; here, 
"Whack and Jump, get ready ; I want the big sorrel 
for the trip." 

The boys had been silenced, for the wit s-end in 
youth is in facing sudden fright. Beck s forte was to 
do the right thing at the right time and place ; he kneAV 
what to seek, what to avoid ; there was scarcely any 
thing he could not endure. 

" Which horse for me ? " asked Whack. 

tf The roan ; give Jump the grey ; both have bottom 
and speed ; arm yourselves ; thar ll be lively times, I 
reckon. Heah," he went on, motioning to the team 
ster who brought the news ; " which way did Cart- 
wright head ? " 

"Down the crick to the river." 

" To the river," he muttered, walking fast ; " then 
he ll hide." 

At the house, Lu was attended by Chloe and Mrs. 
Garrulson, and the stories of the latter of similar trials, 
distorted from a supple memory, had in a measure 
composed her ; but on seeing Beck she ran to him 
tearfully, wringing her little white hands. 

"Will they kill her, Mister Beck? Oh, my, what 
will we all do? Now she s gone we all know what 
it is to be without her ! Oh, Mollie, Mollie ! " 

"Keep heart, chile; thar ll be no killin of her, I 
reckon. Somebody else iriought get hurt, if he keeps 
on a foolin." 

"Will you bring her back safe? Will you, Mister 
Beck, do tell me?" 


"Yes," ho said, stamping the ground heavily, "heah, 
to the old porch again, cep, maybe, well, never 
mind." He was reflecting that it might cost his own 
life, as he made his way to the office, in haste. 

None who stood in the startled crowd when the hoy s 
cries brought all to their feet, felt the force of what the 
lad said like Doctor Tom ; stab-like, piercing, it struck 
his heart, and he it was who jumped to the trader s 
help, with a brotherly impulse, in kindred sympathy ; 
he it was who held that the scout was right, who 
stilled the rising rage to reason ; for he felt that the 
cool, sturdy sense of Beck was the surety of Mary s 

" Save your advice, it s out of place here," he replied, 
snappishly, to the Judge, and turned about to aid the 
men in mounting. 

The scout was ready ; he caught up his rifle, 
strapped it over his shoulder, with his powder-horn 
and pouch ; then belting his blouse he spoke to the 
boys who had joined him. 

" Sling your pieces ; the nags must be let out, 
and you ll want both hands ; get blankets ; we ll be 

The Colonel galloped up with the horses. Then 
came the order to mount, as Beck threw himself into 
the saddle, drawing a strong check on his sorrel. 

"Let out, lads." There was a rasping sound of 
hoofs, then each sprang forward. 

"Give em head, and spur deep till daybreak," 
called out the old man, as he stood straining his sight 


on the fading forms speeding away over the prairie, 
his heart gleamless as the blackness coining on. As 
the darkness deepened, the voice of the guard was 
heard : 

" Nine-o -gluck ; ull-ish-rycht ! "--" All is right," 
it mocked him, painfully. 

The kidnapper signed to the dusky thief in the lead 
to take a shadow-covered trail along the river bank 
under the bluff, and pursuing it, they soon came upon 
a drift-wood barrier at the font of a beetling cliff. 
Here he broke his way through the stubble, and they 
entered a dark, water-drenched cave and dismounted. 
Cartwright left them huddled together in the gloom, 
warned to silence, and hastily turning back to where 
the debris had been upturned and thrown aside, he re- 
closed the passage so as to deceive the best practised eye. 
It was the trick of a fox, but the visage of the man was 
that of a wolf, as he stretched himself at the. cave- 
mouth, peering through the brush. There he awaited 
the later moon-lit hours, hoping to wear away the pry 
of a search. 

On his horse, Beck, in the full liberty of action, 
a recklessness of freedom, fed the strongest passion 
of his nature. If not at times, genial as a companion, 
he was always a spirited guide, and to return Mary 
safely, upon the bond of his word, lent a glorious 
frenzy to his ride. As he and his comrades dashed on 
through the perfumed shade, the hoof-strokes stirring 
the odors of the sod, he spoke to them often. 


"Lean forward, boys, and set easy for a long run." 
At the haunted cabin they drew up. 

" Whack," he said, as they were about to separate, 
"you and Jump keep right on, hipitisplit. Mind 
what I ve told you, boy. I ll strike back to the river- 
line the wolf thinks we ve opened on a wrong scent 
and I ll drive him out, and follow, Avhileyou must cross 
him. So long." Speaking sharply to his horse, he 
was soon out of siffkt. 


The scout felt sure that Cartwright did not dare to 
take a straight course, to be seen from the post on the 
wide open prairie, and that he had dodged ; that his 
round-about circuit would be by the river, thence to 
the Divide by another road, and his own plan was to 
hang close on the other s heels, trail him, follow him 
out of the valley to where the boys would confront 
him at the cross-road, on the ridge. He dashed out of 
the darkness of the ravine, rode to the bluff-line, and 
drew rein. He had drawn up above the hiding-place 
of the thief. 

Mary stood in the narrow prison, watched and 
warned by the fierce, furtive glances of the redskins, 
and hardly dared to breathe. The stillness was un 
broken, save by the seething of the pools or the 
buzz of the gnats. Now, in the light of the rising 
moon she saw the distant outlook, the outstretched 
arms of the grove-trees, but she closed her eyes and 
pressed her hands hard upon her heart. 

In his ambush, holding his horse s head, Beck kept a 
long, silent watch. At last, in his steady search, he 


saw below him on the river-brink, forms moving 
stealthily in the shadow ; he saw them mount and 
steal away. On sight he knew them. Beck had once 
seen the cave, and his instinct led him to it; now he 
counted the riders as they took the trail. He was 
astride his thoroughbred in abound, and with the speed 
of the wind vanished from the bluff. 

The Indians turned often to look back, but not a 
word was spoken ; the thief merely motioned and they 
pressed on for hours. Hiding into a clearing or park, 
in the river-bend, he signed to them to dismount. The 
place was a deserted post ; a few rotting sheds marked 
the spot where the fortunes of some trader had been 
wrecked in a night, the treachery of the swift current 
forming a sand-bar, and cutting off approach to the 
landing. Here a grass-grown road diverged towards 
the Divide. 

Mary permitted the ruffian s shoulder to support her 
as she jumped down ; not that she was less resolute 
nor he less repulsive to her, but from a hard ride 
weariness, needing aid ; and as her hand fell listlessly, 
it touched the handle of his sheath-knife ; there was a 
quick movement, and the blade unnoticed slipped into 
her dress pocket. 

The animals were allowed a drink and a roll, and the 
thief stretched himself likewise on the hard gravel. 
He sprang up to lave his face at the river s brink, and 
wetting his throat from a flask, he gave his pals a bite 
of hard bread and jerky, then ordered them off. 

Kit swayed down to receive Mary in the saddle. 


Folding the blanket about her head and shoulders she 
rode to her place between the Indians ; on a sign they 
turned into a road. Mary had listened for a eheering 
sound, for she knew that Beck would throw his very 
soul into the pursuit. But the silence gave no token. 

They had ridden far and fast, through the night, 
when another halt was gruffly ordered at a spring by 
the wayside ; it gushed forth from a thick growth of 
tangled weeds and briars, upon which the moonlight 

."Ef yer want a drink, cold as ice, thar it is," said 
the pirate, and he bade Mary get down and wait till he 
filled a horn-flask. He was groping among the brambles 
to the fountain-head, when suddenly a loud, wierd 
scream rang out on the still bright air ; a scream as of 
some fiend in the caves of earth, shrieking to forbid the 
wretch s touch upon its waters. All at once there 
rose in the light a tall, gaunt, spectral form, almost 
fleshless ; a ghastly, ghostly figure madly threw up its 
naked arms, and its white locks and beard, matted and 
snarled, fell about it like a vesture. Springing to full 
height, its shape, clad in patches of cloth and blanket, 
the long bony fingers tugged at a girdle for a weapon, 
and finding none, tore its hair in frenzy. 

" Back, back, you lip-lapping cayote ; hell s curses 
on YOU, go back ! " then the nightmare vanished, creep 
ing in the brush like a beast of prey. 

One Indian touched his forehead and both were 
silent, and as Mary glanced down at her feet she saw 
Cartwright crouching there, a frightened animal. She 


had heard of the wild man, and knew the fear of him 
which many held. 

"It ar the dead, the dead," the pirate whispered in 
a coarse voice, large drops of sweat standing on his 
face^ as he covered it with his hands. "1 kent shake 
it ; its bar is like windin-sheet, and its eyes like Texas 
cattle s." 

Wrapped in the same bright beams, wherein the 
hideous shade had risen, Mary s form and face like a 
fair spirit s seemed to guard the peace of the night. 

rf Vengeance is on your track, Bill Cartwright ; will 
you hear me? You can be better, braver, bad as you 

A drink from a liquor-flask had called back his 

"Don t yer preach ; that I hates the wus kind ; ef I 
are a bad man kent yer keep shet about it? Mount," 
he called out, savagely. 

And Beck had seen it all not a fathom s length away 
from Mary ; he stared at her with an earnest, loyal 
look from his. shelter behind a rock. 

The kidnappers rode on under the far-reaching si<rht 
of the scout, who saw them at a long distance disap 
pear in a grove. Never before was the contrast 
stronger between the man s power and patience, his 
ease and vigilance, as when he loosed his horse, and in 
the love of his wild life, he was off like a flash. His 
course was at an angle from the road to the lower out- 
skirt of the little wood, in which the thief s party dis 
appeared. Where the thicket-growth hid him, lie rode 


fiercely, or when screened by the high, moss-grown 
rocks, he held his horse hard, in a furious quest, yet 
noiselessly, and only the birds und r the leaves knew 
of his presence. He got down, tied up, threw 
a blanket over his nag s head, then crawled near 
enough to search the grove. What he saw in the faint 
light of the dawn made, his brave heart for once stand 

Meantime the young aides of the scout were rising 
from the springy soil of the valley, and Hearing the top 
of a ridge. Known as the Great Divide, by some called 
the Big Backbone, it ran obliquely across the plateau 
of the prairie, contrived to serve the needs of traffic. 
From its hard gravel the hoof-clatter echoed back upon 
the silent lowland, as they sped along, leaving behind 
landmarks that noted their speed. 

"You see," said Whack, "they ve got water handy 
to freshen up on," he spurred his horse and the two 
increased their speed. 

" What road has Bill taken ? " asked Jumper, not 
knowing the course laid down for them to follow. 

lie s taken the river road, we reckon, but will turn 
sharp for the west, and on this trail, further on, we ll 
cross him, while Beck conies up in the rear. They re 
three, and we re three, the best must win ; can you 
count that up, old pen-scratcher? Draw up, Jump, 
we ll let em champ the grass a mi nit ; " the boys got 
down and stripped their animals. 

Jump pointed to a rock jutting out from the hillside, 
"there s water there, let s get behind it." 

68 SNAP. 

"You see right well, for a bookkeeper, in the dark ; 
if water was at the root of the grass, it would be high 
as your shoulder, but "he stopped short, grasping 
his companion s arm ; " listen," he whispered. 

Above the hum of the mites, the drone of the beetle, 
a sound, at first far off, seemed to draw nearer, quickly. 
Loud voices were heard, broken by laughter and the 
jingle of spurs. 

" Look to your horse and traps, Jump ; " in another 
moment they were hidden behind the rock; "stand 
close in, take a turn of your lariat round your horse s 
nose ; are you ready ? " 

"Yes," answered the other. 

r? Throw your blanket over his head ; take care 
easy ; hold tight, lay your left hand near his nose ; 

Now, close at hand, the tramp of hoofs and jingling 
of spurs were heard, and a voice, high above all, cried 
loudly : 

" Hi, mula ! vamo, carajo ! " as a pack-train was 
driven furiously past their retreat. 

" H-sh, " cautioned Whack ; after a while he added, 
aloud, " they ve gone down to the valley on the other 

" How do you know ? " 

"Can t you foot up that; oh, you re a jumper; if 
they were scratching gravel on the road wouldn t you 
hear em ; well, as you don t hear em on the road, 
they must be off it ; that s the sum total, rooster ; " the 
sounds grew fainter and fainter. 


"What kind of gang- is it, anyway, Whack?" 

" Land-pirates, certain ; some train has been robbed 
since nightfall ; Injins do the stealing and these cusses 
buy from them ; they must have a crib not far off, and 
what puzzles me is, these Mexicans so far from their 
bee-line along the Divide, and so far east ; but let s 
mount ; we ve got no time for cyphering." 

" Why did you blindfold the horses?" 

" Blindfold em ! " Whack laughed outright ; "that ll 
do for apen-plower ; they were muzzled, gummy ; you 
see, Jump, if one horse sees another in the night, he ll 
whinny, sure; well, the blanket stops all that, if you 
hold it tight about his nose ; and, if he can -t see, he s 
got sense enough to stand still. Cover your rifle-cock 
from the damp ; if it misses, somebody at the other 
end of it mightn t miss you ; it makes a big difference, 

Once more upon the hard, white road they spurred 
on, and crossing a creek, they again ascended to the 
highway, and held their pace till daylight. 

" Here s the cross road, at last, Jump ; see, it comes 
up out of the valley ; we ll tie up here, till Beck is 
heard from." 

On the lower side of a briar-wood clump they found 
water, and there unsaddled. As Whack turned to re 
gain the ridge, looking up he saw in the dim, morning 
light, the lean ghost which had crossed the path of Cart- 
wright. He whispered to his companion : 

"It s the wild man of the wilderness, and I ll speak 
to him." 

70 SNAP. 

"Has he any sense? " asked Jump, very naturally. 

"Sometimes plenty of it ; he s mad on one thing 
only ; and hangs about the trains praying like a beg 
gar for a knife or gun ; he never gets one. Wait." 

With hands uplifted, the poor distraught inveighed 
against the vipers of the earth, the wolves in sheep s 
clothing. Again he spoke in altered voice, tenderly, 
as one in sane mood would to a wife or child, and he, 
to some dear vision of his memory. Whack laid his 
hand upon the creature s shoulder, speaking kindly, in 
the vein of his mania. 

" Be strong to fight your enemies ; come man, and 
eat ; " the lunatic followed him without a word. At the 
spring the boys gave him bread, and Whack, in the 
same strain, to denote that he shared the wretch s sor 
rows in his own, spoke again, slowly. 

"My sister has been stolen, and our home is broken 

On the instant the wild man threw away his bread 
and sprang to his feet; staring hard, he seized the 
speaker s arm. 

" Come here ! come here ! " he screamed, dragging 
Whack at his heels. On the highway, shading his 
eyes with trembling hands, he at last pointed to the 

"See the smoke, yonder aAvay?" 

The other, straining his ;aze as the morning mist 

o o o 

like a curtain rolled up in the distance, was able to trace 
a curl of blue vapor, rising slowly. 
"I see it." 


"It s the smoke from hell s hot-house," roared the 
tramp; "there the serpents writhe in and out, in 
and out; go there, you ll find her; I saw her in the 
night ; he took her there." 

" Who took her there ? " exclaimed the young man 

" The fiend , the robber ; the lion which devours ; the 
tiger with his prey ; the devil and his whelps, Bill 
Cart wright ; go there, you ll find the gal ; give me a 
gun, I ll go." 

" I have no gun to give you, my good friend, but, " 
before he answered the vagrant was gone, running 
wildly ; his arms cleaving the air, his voice that of loud 

" Smite ! smite ! oh, ye hosts. Let down the ven 
geance held in wrath : vengeance, vengeance ! " 

" Come quick, Jump," and when they stood together, 
Whack said : 

" Mary Cheviteau is yonder, in that grove, down in 
the valley." 

"There s where the pirates headed for, I reckon." 

"True enough; they crossed lower down, but bore 
away for that crib ; poor Mary ! " 

" What will you do ? " 

"Wait for Beck, if we wait till doomsday; come 

Whack pointed to a rock-mound near by, hidden and 
shaded, and there the boys, leveling their pieces 
ranged on the valley road, stretched themselves, wait 
ing and watching. 




THE Mexican packers who rode the fierce scamper 
over the Divide, were, as Whack believed, a gang of 
train-robbers fresh from the haunts of plunder. They 
were bearing its fruits to their crib, from whence the 
smoke ascended. This den, built of heavy, squared 
logs, circled by a brushwood shelter, was hidden in a 
close, thick-set brush-growth. A boundary of rocks, 
overgrown with the high grass of summer, enclosed 
the grove. The place was made to serve as a store 
house for stolen goods, bought up by train-robbers 
from thieving Indians.* The captain of this bold gang, 
from the far south-west a young, saffron-colored 
cut-throat, was a rogue of the Spanish type ; a crafty 
but trifling chief, and was obeyed by his gang as best 
suited their moods. Not so his slave-wife Josefina, 
ordered to hasten breakfast, who heeded his command, 
at once. 

The pirates unloaded their packs while their leader, 

* Collusion with Indians in the nefarious business of ox-train 
robbery by bands of desperate thieves, is well known. The use of 
a pack-train for such a purpose was not common, but several well 
authenticated stories are told of their use in this way. 


caressing his mule, made a singular show of affection 
and malice, which the Mexican contrives to heap upon 
his beast. 

"Companion of mine, friend of my soul," he said, 
kissing the shaggy face of the ugly hybrid. 

"Beautiful as a girl, my heart;" still patting the 
neck and the dark cruciform on the spine and 

"You little, little mouse. This he meant for its 
size and color, also the wide difference from the Amer 
ican breed, in lighter and swifter limbs, and a play 
fulness less rash in the rear foot. 

While he talked, his manner changed from a mild 
rebuke to tragic blasphemy ; wherein the backbones 
and toenails of all the saints in the calendar were 
invoked with fearful oaths, and the pet of the moment 
before became the pitiful victim of the lash. 

Suddenly the crowd sent up a loud, lewd noise of 
jabber and shout, laughter and jest, when Cartwright, 
his pals and the captive rode into their camp. It was 
a welcome out of joint, for without a word the kid 
napper dismounted. He had no thought of meeting 
the gang at such a time ; the theft of Mary was not a 
crime in common, and he was quite proud to feel that 
it was his own, of his own peculiar dash, and for his 
own pockets, only. Sullenly he gave his horse in 
charge of the Indians, and held Kit as Mary 

Glancing at the swarm of cut-throats who eyed her 
keenly, her spirits wavered, almost hopelessly. Brave 

74 SNAP. 

as she was, she felt deeply the wrench of fate ; looks 
were set upon her that she feared less than .-he abhor 
red, and it was a pitiful strait for so good, so true a 
nature. Trial sharpened every emotion ; the faee of 
her mother was an ever-present vision ; the voiee of 
her father rang in her ears, and the manly form of 
Beck was remembered as of one among the dead. 

Little she knew or thought, as with an effort of the 
will she turned her face sternly to defy the worst, that 
the eyes of him whose shadow seemed to fade away, 
were bent upon her with a glaring gaze. He stared in 
upon the scene that for an instant stilled every pulse 
of his being. Prone, at full length, peering along the 
barrel of his rifle through a rocky crevice, he felt his 
muscles twitch and spring ; his hand tightened as he 
saw the tears, in a brief outburst, course the beauty- 
lines of Mary s check ; he thrilled, strained, bit his lip 
deeply, but still he watched and waited. 

Josefina, the round-faced, copper-hued woman, in 
the forties of her frail years, whose saucy mouth and 
fine teeth gave a generous touch to a happy look, sat 
near by. She was coaxing the damp chips to blaze, 
and the smoke therefrom was the far-away sign pointed 
out to Whack by the wild man. Now and then she 
turned to scan the sad features of the girl before her, 
a little jealously, for with a toss of her turban she as 
much as said : 

" As the looks of me, no, no ; me of the fandan 
go, she of the whiter kind, the Mother s child, no 


no ; " if piqued for the instant, she curbed the feeling 
smilingly as she sang : 

"Las ninas del Durango, 
Conmigo bailandos 
Al cielo saltaudas 
En el fandango en el fanclang." 

While Cartwright, having led the mare off, was 
pinning her picket rope in a park near the skirt of the 
wood, the Mexicans had drawn round the cook and 
her companion. It was well that the ears of Mary 
were dumb to the loose words that fell from their lips, 
when the dandy captain strode up to where she sat, 
and without warning, touched her cheek. So bold an 
insult in effect was as fire to powder. Springing to 
her feet, her burning face aglow, she drew the knife 
and held it raised : 

" Stop ! " The one word only, spoken loudly, calmly, 
coldly, and the ruffian drew back. 

Beck was on his feet ready to fire ; his form erect, 
quivering. He took deadly aim at the villain s head ; 
prudence to the winds, he was ready for the grapple 
hand to hand, but the voice of Cartwright stayed him. 
In the pause of the instant, Mary s conscience stirred, 
and all womanly, she trembled like a leaf. 

Casting off his coat, with pistol drawn, she saw the 
fellow Hearing them. 

"Don t fire, don t fire, "she had but time to say. 
He came on with a bound, his weapon down, to deal a 
blow that might have felled an ox. He struck the 
insulter down. 

76 SNAP. 

" Ahind my back to crowd a little gal like that, you 
pepper-fed sneak," he railed, with fearful oaths. 

And Beck dropped his gun as he drew back, mutter 
ing : 

"Good enough; so Mary s safe, and now you re 
cock of that heap, Bill ; I know you." 

"Don t you be afeerd, gal," said the boss, as kindly 
as he knew how ; and then he beckoned to his redskins. 
Very soon thereafter they rode away on their ponies, 
and the Mexicans, forewarned, feared the man. They 
knew, should they slay him, before the day was done 
a tribe would hound them to a bloodier fate. And the 
knave went among them fearlessly, talked of plunder 
and passed round his flask ; nor was it long before the 
stricken bully swallowed his wrath on easy terms, and 
played the dog for a drink. 

Cartwright was surprised on meeting the pack-train 
at the crib, and more so the scout, with a sharp and 
strange alarm. The riddle worked out was this. The 
boss had sent to the south-west border for the Mexicans 
to come to him at a rendezvous named. He had con 
spired with the tribe whose lands were in sight of the 
post, and had led it on thieving raids. The spoil of 
many bloody forays was in its keeping. 

The gang had bought Cartwright s share, and the In 
dians received their portion of the loot, and when the 
trade was over he warned the packers to retreat out of 
danger by the most direct route. But word came- to 
him of the next day barbacue at Cheviteau s ; he left 
the Indians hurriedly in quest of a chance to serve his 


bitter hate. The Mexicans, lazily resting, held up 
their departure till the following night, and then, 
directed by the tribe, drove their train to the crib. 

The affront to Mary softened the heart of Josefina ; 
it melted in the warmth of her rancor towards the 
brute, who mastered her and who was cowardly to the 
girl. In trouble, women are more helpful one to another 
than men, and she prevailed upon Mary to be seated near 
her, as she piled up the tortillas or stirred the pot-mess, 
reddened with pods of pepper. All the while, in the 
musical flow of the Spanish, so richly expressive, she 
prattled, lovingly. 

" Come, dear little, little sister of mine ; eat, little 
one ; little one, Josefina, the friend of you, says eat." 

The words, though foreign, were seemingly pure, as 
also the woman s manner and look, so that Mary was 
won by the gentle eye and by the voice of sym 

Cartwright held the crowd in peace, planning his 
villainy, and there was much in his boldness which 
drew his listeners closer as he gabbled a mongrel 
slang. But soon, as they needed rest, all had stretched 
themselves under the shelter, save two, who, serving 
as sentries, played cards while the others slept. 

Mary bore up patiently with her new friend, but her 
head drooped, do what she would to be watchful. At 
last she gave up and followed Josefina to the cabin, 
kneeling on the spread prepared for her comfort. Her 
attitude, as a golden cross on the neck of the woman 
fell into her hand and remained there, was such as to 

78 SNAP. 

inspire her comrade, to call back to her a faint remem 
brance of better days, as Mary s prayer ended and her 
eyelids closed. Joscfina, awed and chastened by the 
contact, drew the wearied one closer, and pillowed her 
head, with a kiss. 

"Sleep, little gem of the soul of me, in the love ot 
the cross, baby, sleep." She sat for hours awake, re 
vived by the touch of virtue. 

Beck made a hasty search around him ; glancing at 
the deserted camp-fire and at the sleeping thieves under 
the shelter; at Mary, through the open door; at the 
kidnapper near by, clutching his rifle as he slept ; at 
the card-players on guard. He crawled out of the 
thicket, to the skirt of brambles; he loosed the 
picket-pin and girthed the blanket round his sorrel. 
For a while, leading his horse, he crept along close 
under the rocky wall, through the brush, and then 
he mounted. 

"They re too many for me now," he said, grasping 
his rifle, then plying his spurs fiist on the flanks, as he 
madly rode off towards the Divide, where he came 
upon the boys and called them from their cover. 

" Quick, lads ; I ve tracked em to a crib below ; 
she s grabbed by pirates and a tribe of Injins ; they ll 
come a boomin fore we know it." Whack and Jump 
soon joined him with their horses, saddled. " Now 
follow me, "he said, leading his sorrel back again to the 
upper limit of the thicket, the boys at his heels with 
their nags. 

From a painful dream Mary waked, and looked 


about her dazed and blinded by doubts ; she sprang to 
the cabin-door, was about to pass out, when Cartvvright 
met her. He let her pass, but followed her to the 
camp-fire ; he spoke roughly, the sleepy, stupid 
insolence after drink. He told her whither he would 
take her, to some low bagnio of the heaven-forsaken 
haunts of a Mexican town, and would hold her there 
till her father ransomed her. She sank down by the 
smouldering log-heap. 

Beck and his boys concealed their horses, and made 
all safe with the muzzle and picket-pin ; after which he 
crept away to a close-grown cedar bush, nearer the 
inner circle of the camp, and saw, through the web-like 
cover, Mary and her captor. What moved him he 
knew not, but a quick impulse, a gleam of purpose, 
turned him back to his aides to direct them as his plan 
was forming. He stationed Whack on the right, 
Jump on the left, each in his own ambush and in sight, 
having agreed upon signals. 

There came a pause, an endless minute to the 
spies, in which Beck seemed unnerved, bewildered, as 
he discovered Kitty near at hand. All at once, as the 
boys watched him, like a flash his face colored, lie 
whistled very low to the mare, and she pricked her 
oars; he whistled again and again, in his old, familiar 
way, and the docile little beast neighed, stamped, 
pulling hard on the lariat. The scout kept his eye on 
Cart-wright ; he saw Mary point to Kitty, and by her 
motions to tell of the mare s hunger. His heart quiv 
ered as he hoped the man would come near the grasp 

80 SNAP. 

of his hand ; he looked and saw instead, Mary rise, and 
in a rapid walk start towards them ; then, with a hope 
ful, manly smile, his face at once brightened. He 
si^iied to the boys, in rapid movements of hands and 
body, to aim at the thief; they leveled their pieces; 
he signed again to fire if he followed her ; then he knelt 
by the edge of the bush. Never in all the adventures 
of his brave life had he felt such a feverish longing ; his 
breath came by starts in the spasms of emotion. 

None but a strong, devout woman could have played 
Mary s part ; she played it grandly. As she drew 
nearer and nearer, almost near enough for Beck s arms 
to clasp her, he uttered a strong, calm whisper : 

" H-s-h ! it s me John Beck ; look at the mare 
straight ahead." 

She started, drew up to her full height, came on, 
as a gleam of hope shone in the sweet, young face, 
flickering like the shade and shine of an April morn 

H-s-h ! lead Kit behind this bush I ll save you ;" 
he signed to the boys to join him. 

Near ing the mare, Mary turned, motioned to Cart- 
wright that she would lead the animal to graze further 
on, the perfection of acting and courage combined. 
She slowly untied the lariat, made a noose round the 
nose, turned the hiding-place of the scout; turned and 
stood at his side. 

He grasped her in his arms, seized the rope, and in 
another moment he was astride the mare, clasping 
Mary ; he whispered to the boys to follow, riding 


under the thicket shielding them, till they reached the 

"Quick, now; help Mary up behind me on the 
sorrel ; mount and lead the mare ; hold tight." 

" Look back," cried Whack, riding to the lead. The 
scout turned his eyes to the for distance. 

" It s the Injins Cartwright sent for ; spur deep." 

The riders spared not, voice nor spur, in that race 
for life along the Big Backbone. 

On the Divide the gang saw far away the tribe 
approaching in a run ; but the delay widened the dis 
tance between the scout and the thief, and gave the 
former s party the chance of a slip. 

They had ridden hard for miles when Beck turned in 
his saddle to call a halt at the top of a hill declining to 
a creek. 

"The beasts can t stand this lightnin, let s clown and 
swap. We must keep Kit fresh; swab out their 
mouths, Whack, and give em a swallow ; how do you 
stand it, Mary ? " 

"Well enough, I hope, Mister John, "she replied, as 
she hardly dared to discourage her friends, though 
almost ready to drop with fatigue. 

"That s the way to talk; you ll make a scout yet. 
We ve been a scratchin, boys, I tell you; " the horses 
gave signs of hard work in their drooping heads and 
foam-covered sides. Just then, looking back along the 
trailing stretch of the hard, white road to the horizon, 
Beck s quick eye caught a glimpse of dark objects 
moving, and he spoke sharply : 

82 &v.-u>. 

"It s them ; Cart Wright s gang has jincd the Injins ; 
and they re a comin, boys, with hoop and yell. I ll 
dodge em, Mary; trust to me." He took another 
searching look at the pursuers. " Turn off the road," he 
said, so they can t sight us ; Jump, help Mary down ; 
lend a hand, Whack, and take the blankets off; be 
quick." These were spread out in the direction of the 
creek. "Mary," he continued, "when AVhackand Head 
the horses to the edge of the spreads, you and Jumper 
take up the loose ones and lay em out ahead." By 
following his directions closely, they finally gained the 
middle of the stream, without leaving any visible trace 
behind them in the marshy soil. Beck tied a cord to 
the last blanket, upon which he and his mare stood, and 
threw it to Whack on his horse. Then he mounted, 
leaped Kit into the water, and taking the cord from his 
companion, with a strong jerk he drew the blanket to 
his saddle bow. They moved on where the bottom was 
sandy and even, and the water not up to the stirrup. 

"It deepens here, boys," Beck said further on; 
"hold their heads well up, and look to your pieces ; 
here we go." 

The horses took the current easily, and after a short 
swim, landed their riders at the mouth of a canyon. 
On a bar formed round a jutting rock-shed, they came 

" We re safe now for the night," said their leader, 
helping Mary to dismount. 

" If they miss the trail won t they turn back? " asked 
his comrade Whack. 


"No; Bill s too old a hound; he ll keep up the 

" How can he when the trail is lost ? " 

"He ll keep straight on, scatter his gang and lay 

" If he get s off the trail how can he see us?" 

" In daylight he can scan the whole country ; out of 
this we strike the prairie." 

"So we re only hiding for the night?" 

" Jus so ; for you see, Whack, the Injins horses are 
fresh, and they might have caught us, and at night we 
can t be seen from the post." 

"In daylight, you think, we have got a better 
chance ? " 

"Certain; for then our nags will be fresh; and if 
the gang sight us, so will the Colonel ; he ll be in his 
look-out, sure." 

"Couldn t we push on along this creek?" asked 

"No ; this leads out the wrong course, and we might 
run afoul of em ; fightin in the night will do whar 
there s no women." 

"H-s-h!" whispered Mary, whose ear had caught 
the sound of falling hoofs. 

" What do you hear?" queried Whack. 
" It s them," said Beck ; " stand by your horses 

The sounds grew louder, but suddenly ceased 


"They ve lost us ;" the scout spoke low, listening. 

84 SNAP. 

" What are they doing, Mister John ? " asked Mary. 

"Thar s jus daylight enough for em to see the trail 
break off, and it puzzles em." 

"Do you think they could find us?" she asked in a 
womanly way, more timid when comparatively safe 
than when in imminent danger. 

"The Injins might, but they won t." 


"A white man s leading em; if an Injin led, I d 
feel unsafe." 

" What am they doing now?" joined in Jump. 

" They ve broke up into squads for a search ; that s 
their calls ; " shout after shout was repeated. A clear, 
loud voice rang out, and soon beyond the creek, again 
was heard the tramp of feet, and gradually the sounds 
died out. 

" He s led off his pack ; " exclaimed Beck. 

f Have they gone?" 


"And we re safe," cried Mary, joyfully. 

" Yes ; for the night ; what s the use for him to hunt 
a blind trail in the dark ; unsaddle, boys." 

Mary now urged by her companions to take rest, 
and feeling its need sorely, consented ; she had but 
touched the blanket spread for her, Avhen she fell into 
a heavy sleep. 

"Whack, why don t you stretch yourself; I ll stand 
guard ; you and Jumper want a snooze." 

"Not till she s safe ; see, she sleeps as if nothing had 

THE scours RESCUE. 85 

"True grit, boys, I tell you ; well Mary ; s le s got 
the pluck of a man, with the heart of a true woman." 

He left them standing over the prostrate form, and 
groped his way along the course of the stream. 

Coming upon a cove, and near it a pasture waist- 
deep in grass, he returned for the horses. He found 
the boys, each seated at Mary s feet, and sound asleep. 

"They can t help it," he said to himself, "it takes 
years to harden the bones and limber the muscles for 
sich a ride." 

Now standing alone in position between the horses 
and the sleepers, having an eye to both, he weighed 
well the chances of their escape. 

"I ve done all a brave man oughter do to get 
round the use of my weepons," he reasoned, " but if 
I must, I must, that ends it ; " how long he had stood 
debating with himself, he knew not ; but on looking 
up, he noticed the rising moon. 

" Whack ! Jump ! " he called out. 

"What is it?" cried the latter, placing himself at 
the scout s side. 

"Well done, youngster, you take a surprise without 
a flurry ; come, boys, to saddle." 

After the horses were brought, he said further : 

" Strike a match and see to your guns ; Whoa, Kit ; 
you little minx ; she s trying to git out er her skin ; 
can you ride, Mary, without a saddle?" 

"It wouldn t be the first time." 

Beck girthed a blanket round the frisky mare and 
helped her to a seat. 

86 SNAP. 

" Hold your rifles ready ; now, Mary, ride bet ween 
the boys, lean forward and keep her steady ; move 
on. r 

Striking a road through the valley, the light through 
a rifted cloud found them in the open country ; in the 
wide, solemn silence, without shelter from the lurking 
foe. They rode on without a word, mile on mile 
through the scent of the wild flowers. 

" Day ll break on us in sight of the post ; let the 
nags walk," Beck ordered. 

"If we can only escape," Mary had hardly spoken, 
when the scout, riding up, motioned quiet. 

"I heard em," he said, in a low, firm voice; "it s 
them on the Divide." 

" Shall we spur up? " asked Whack. 

" Grab the mare s bridle, both of you ; they ll come 
n bilin soon as they sight us ; drive on." 

" We can beat em, Mister John,* called out Mary. 

Beck had fallen to the rear with his rifle cocked and 
thrown across his left arm. All at once a yell, the 
wild, shrill scream of the savage nomad, was caught 
up and flung back by the bloodhounds from their lair. 

" Keep a strong hand, boys, and break into a run," 
shouted Beck. Gazing back into the hazy distance, 
he saw the gang divided into two parties ; the foremost 
were Indians. 

tf Now for it, lads ; a rnn for life ; Mary, you re 
safe " - the sentence was broken, but caught up in a 
higher key ; " look thar, to the left." 

THE scours RESCUE. 87 

From behind a mound, not fifty rods away, two 
Indians dashed at him on their ponies. 

"If that s your game, h yar s mine." Beck halted, 
raised his rifle quickly, fired, and the savage in the 
lead reeled and fell. Undaunted, the second redskin 
held to the chase. Beck had but time to order : 

" Give the mare her head and cock your pieces ; " he 
drew his pistol, turning his sorrel to meet the foe. A 
whizzing tomahawk struck his hat as he raised his 
weapon and drew the trigger. Another stark and 
bleeding redskin lay lifeless on the prairie green. 

Then shout, and yell and curse, loud ringing oaths 
and Spanish jargon, mingled with the snort of horses, 
the stamp of feet were heard. 

"They re gaining on us, boys ; spur deep for the last 

"For the last heat, scout, here goes," cried Whack. 

"Here goes." repeated Jumper, riding well. 

And Kit, with Mary firmly seated, like a winged 
speck on the broad expanse, shot ahead. 

88 SNAP. 



IT was true, as Lu had tearfully said of Mary, " Now 
that she is gone we feel what it is to be without her." 
Every nook in the lonely dwelling seemed to repeat 
her words. The long, wide, dreary hall sounded to 
the tread of feet with a mockery of its former life ; 
even the porch-vines rustled not as when on quick- 
paced duty she swept by them. The door of her room 
stood open ; within there was a cheerless, wistful hush ; 
the snowy curtains at the window, the patch- work quilt 
and pillows wore a cold look. More lonesome than all 
beside, the tuneless throat of the little bird encaged. 
Scraps of needlework lay just as she had left them, the 
clippings on the floor ; and on the back of a chair a 
baby s frock, half finished. 

Old Chloe, in her morning work, had left the once 
cheery corner with sobs ; while she stood in the door 
gazing in, she struggled hard against the mute, un 
spoken sadness of its quietude ; against the harsh 
voice of the Doctor s parrot without, breaking the 
peace of the vacant hall. 

" Mary ! M-a-r-y ! gone ! " it more than muttered, 
to the dismay of the old servant. 


"I se dun tole um so," she sighed, wiping her tear- 
wet face, " dey tinks de ole niggah s got no sense, hut 
I seed de chicken cliunb de fens, an scripsher am scrip- 
slier." At her cabin, telling her sorrows to Cato, she 
was not less heart-stricken; she dwelt with love long 
cherished on the virtues of her lost "honey," from 
Mary s childhood, and its little, winning ways, her 
growth in grace and beauty to the full bloom of 
womanhood, in which she had been torn away, at 
every step her grief grew louder and she mourned 
like one distracted. 

"De Marster keeps her lection shoo, Cato; I se dun 
tole yer so." 

" An He will fetch things straight," said the voice of 
Mrs. Garrulson behind her 

"You specks de troof, Ole Miss; indeed yer dus," 
she answered in an instant change of tone ; the words 
had strengthened faith and banished woe. 

The liking of the men for Mary was not a mere formal 
show of respect ; each held to some kind act of hers, 
as they sat about the camp at odds about her capture 
and her rescue. Many things Avere said pro and con ; 
Tim Murphy had more than once leaped to his feet to 
blame them all for not joining the pursuit, " on their 
own hook." 

"May I niver see daylight agin," he said, excitedly, 
"but I ll go, if yees will, an foller the scout." 

" Beck ees reet, maun," answered Sandy, an older 
head and a wiser one, "fer what wud ye all go? Gad, 
eef Cart wright seed yees, dell a onct wud he stap 

00 SNAP. 

atwix thees an Mexico ; yeer speereet s reel, me lad, 
but tether yeer talk to rason." 

That s the good of the loikes of us in camp," 
replied Tim, "whin the tree of em an two bys at 
that es a fight in a whole tribe, an Mary is ruined by 
the baste?" 

Xo, no no !" answered a score at once, all un 
willing to harbor the thought. 

"Xuthin kin hinder him." 

"Yees, but theer es, tho," said Sandy; "his cow- 
ardyce wud keep her safe ; I d jine ye, Tim, to flay 
him alive weed the snap o the wheep." 

" Och ! I don t got some beesnis wid dot boss some 
more ; dcsh ish dot," joined in Heinrich, whose feel 
ings labored hard with the language. 

The coming of Legs to the circle cut short the 
squabble, and with a message from the trader, who 
had not been seen in the camp that day, he was list 
ened to closely. 

"Boys," he said, as they stood round him, "he ll ax 
no work till his darter s back agin, an if she ain t h yar 
afore to-morrer noon, he s gwyne to mount hisself ; 
he il want us all to jine him." 

"Be jabes, en that s the talk," cried Tim, taking it 
all as favoring his side. 

"Reet fer yees now, Tim; d yees tak me meenin? 
]>y the morrow s noon we ll all gae ; but the chiePll be 
hame afore that." 

" Have your bosses ready, and when he blows his 
bugle mount an toiler him. I m off to let the Mexcans 


know," added the boy, and taking his way to the cat 
tle-drove, the men dispersed. 

The Judge and the Doctor had urged the Colonel in 
vain, the previous night, to seek rest, nor could Lu 
prevail upon him in the least. The strong man, with 
his stout, fatherly heart, measured off the long hours. 
His face had grown older since the morning, when, 
among his people, it was so genial and brave. His 
life had never known before such a mortal sense of 
loneliness: his thoughts were in tumult; whether he 
lived or dreamed he had scarcely sense to know, or 
consciousness to wonder. At daylight he fled from 
the thickening gloom of his house and hid himself in 
his office. Seated in the small wing of the building, 
he threw his hat upon the floor and turned his eyes 
upon the walls, where the grim tokens of frontier 
strife, hung there by his daughter s hand, were shorn 
of their harsher display. Many hours, on many days, 
Doctor Tom and Mary had spent together in assort 
ing and grouping these oddities of border-Site, which 
Chcviteau had laid by, in long years, to be placed in 
this small museum. He scanned the whole collection, 
as everything in some way gave him a fonder memory 
of his child, as each and all bore the mark of her 
tasteful arrangement. But he dwelt too long, as each 
changing sight but added to his torment. In feverish 
huste he seized his glass, springing up the ladder to his 
perch in the outlook. 

Lu had shown many very kind attentions to Mary s 
father. She came to the office to know if she could 

92 SNAP. 

be of further service in any way, and on going out she 
locked the door. From the outside she called to him 
and said : 

"Colonel, I ve locked you in so that nobody may 
trouble you; I ll throw the key through the win 
dow, and if you want me I ll not be far away." 

"Eight, child, right," he answered, without turning 
his eyes from his glass ; and Lu returned to Mary s 
vacant chair under the morning-glories. 

Strange to say, Doctor Tom was the most cheerful 
man in house or camp, and though he paced the porch 
impatiently, he had an implicit trust that Beck would 
rescue Mary. In his walk, he was seen t-> best ad 
vantage ; a prim, small man with ruddy face, dainty 
feet and hands, dressed in blue-white cottonade. His 
shirt-front frilled and starched to the purest gloss, the 
shine of his boots the wonder of the imp who polished 
them, and his walk and mien had the air of taste, with 
a little of fashion s folly. 

Lu s grief was most sincere and touching; at times, 

" If you will allow me, my dear," said Doctor Tom, 
"I would like to talk with you." 

"I would like to hear you, Doctor," she replied, 
drying her eyes. 

"I m not surprised at your distress, but you give up 
too soon." 


"Make yourself more content," he in-ged, throwing 


into his manner every assurance to revive her drooping 
spirits ; " you ll see your friend soon." 

"Have you any word? or what hope have you?" 

"A strong belief that Mary s now safe, or " 

"Or what?" she asked hastily. 

"Or John Beck s a dead man," was the blunt reply. 
Lu started. "I was about to add," he went on, 
" that as there s little danger of Cartwrijjht killing John 

O o o 

Beck, why, of course, I reason that Mary s safe." 

" What is it makes you feel so sure ? " 

"John Beck is one in a thousand ; a fellow, genuine 
through and through, and what the men call f squar 
all round. " 

"Do they fear him, Doctor?" 

" No,- not that exactly ; they trust him, that s it. So 
now keep heart ; just as sure as he pledged his word, 
he ll bring her back to the old porch, or lose his life. 
If you want company, call to me in my sanctum sanc 
torum." He rose, turned away, and entered the 

His room, brightened by the vine-sifted sunlight, 
had the cool airiness of a country-house chamber, and 
there were many bits and scraps of luxury, caught up 
from the drift of a fast life, to adorn it. On the win 
dow-sill rested a mahogany case, the lid bearing a gold- 
plate inscription. On a branching rack was perched 
the parrot, an Italian bird, and a very ill-mannered 
prattler. Whack and Jump had often placed him in a 
bush, kneeling by it, to taunt and torment the mimic 
into a repetition of language neither chaste nor polite. 

94 SKA P. 

As a linguist, the parrot was not slow in adopting the 

The Doctor enjoyed his repose in a lounge-chair, his 
head thrown back, the white hair lying cold en a pas 
sionless brow. The face, at rest, was that of a man 
whose vices had been restrained by will, but the recol 
lection was surely not without remorse. 

Judge Smith, sauntering about the hall, had looked 
in more than once or twice, with an uneasy desire to 
impress the inmate with some idea of his, the Judge s, 

The Doctor seeing him, said : 

"Come in, Judge." The invitation was kind, but 
formal, but the one addressed seated himself with a 
lazy sort of indifference, as if constrained to be pleas 
ant, which the other noting, he was at once primed for 
a cool reception. 

"Are the Indians troublesome?" asked the Judge, 
as one at a loss how to be interesting. 

"Troublesome! You ought to know. Were they 
ever anything else? They re as savage now as ever, 
and as they will be, always." 

"My opinion is," said the other, expanding his pro 
portions, "that they re a great people." 

"Great! Is there anything great in a sava<re? 
Great ! in one that displays all the qualities of an un 
enlightened people, for ages isolated from the rest of 
mankind. Great ! " 

"Well, sol have read." 

" Eead ! What have you read, seh ? You may have 


read of an ideal Indian, which romance runs mad after; 
of one who combines all the traits without the inequal 
ities of his race. Head ! There are none such. You 
may have read the poetic conception of him, which as 
a conception is without a standard, sell ; his vices and 
virtues have been drawn hypotbetically, sch ; hypo- 
thetically from such as belong to the savage state ; he 
differs from other barbarians in the completeness of his 
savage character, but is he less savage?" 

"Well, but we must be kind to them, and tame 

"Kind! Kind! What kind of kindness are you 
talking about, Judge? Don t you know we have been 
kinder to the Indian than any other nation would or 
could have been under like circumstances? We ve 
been over-kind in a mistaken policy ; a policy that W 7 ill 
utterly destroy him : or by permission and indulgence 
he will destroy himself." 

"Oh, I reckon not." 

"lieckon! There s another mistake. We reckon 
too much on the supposition that he maybe better than 
he is ; we don t face the fact, that he is much worse 
than we suppose ; he is represented generally in his 
most genial phase, even to palliate his most ferocious 
acts, by reference to the injustice and oppression of 
which he has been the victim, as if he had not been a 
savage at all until the landing of the whites. Now to 
be consistent, in exact justice, we had better burn 
down our towns and cities, and start back to where we 
all came from." 

96 SNAP. 

"But he has a good deal of strength of character." 

" You don t stop to analyze, and have caught a part 
of an idea only; what you consider his strength is 
really his weakness ; the contemplation of nature in 
her primitive, robust form hns made him taciturn ; he 
is not meditative ; the profound loneliness seems to 
have terrified all the gentler qualities, smothered all 
sentiment, and brought out all that is sensuous and 

" Oh, but I know, in a fight he is a hero ; he talks 
like an orator." 

r? You re wrong again ; he never does stand up to 
an open fight ; he is brave enough ; so is every wild 
animal ; his motion and action may be that of a fine- 
mettled biped ; his physical attitude and expression 
are picturesque, nothing more. He is not eloquent ; 
a combination of material objects is his only means 
of expressing abstract ideas ; the barrenness of his 
language, and not the luxuriance of his imagination, 
enforces a mode of speech ; he is not a natural orator ; 
his mind is a blank in the eloquence of thought ; he 
has no humor, no romance, no poetic feeling." 

"But we all see what he is." 

" But you don t try to see what he is not ; he is not 
what you make him out to be ; he considers every 
thing beneath his notice which is not necessary to his 
advantage or enjoyment ; his wife is a beast of burden ; 
he has neither affection nor piety ; the aged and in 
firm are left to die by the wayside ; his attachment to 
any region depends on its capacity to furnish game ; 


even his courting is carried on by gifts of good things 
to eat ; he has fear or admiration of another being in 
so far as he is subduecj by superior power, or in degree 
as another exceeds him in savage traits." * 

"Well, what would you do with him?" 

"Do with him? What ought to be done is to give 
him every chance, help him, protect him in being self- 
dependent ; let him learn to be a responsible being, 
and in contact with civilization he would become civil 
ized ; his savage traits, in time, might wear away." 

"Oh, that won t do! " 

"That s what the politician has said, Judge, for 
years ; he ll keep on saying it for the rest of the 

The visitor arose, bowed himself out, and a good 
deal of the starch of his conceit had wilted. "You 
see, Doctor, it might ruin the party." 

"It is a poor party, then, that can t do justice with 
out being ruined." 

The absence of Jumper would have left Lu without 
an attentive admirer had not the Judge, upon sudden 
reflection, taking in her distress and her income at a 
single thought, made up his mind to supplant the ab 
sent youth. To ,be smart, or to be thought so, was 
ever, in his sight, an elevation above an ordinary mor 
tal ; he scrupled but little as to the moral or principle 
of an action, if the action flattered this vanity. He was 
never alive to. consequences, whether his conceit might 

* The substance of this conversation has been gleaned from " Western 
Character " McConnel vide chap. " The Indian," and notes of reference. 

98 SNAP. 

lead him to the edge of dishonor or into it, to mean 
ness or incivility, so that he made his mark of credit 
with such as are so ignorant .or coarse as to admire 
such impudence. He had resolved that in the melting 
mood a woman s affection is more easily caught, and 
that to storm her weakened will would be in effect an 
easy victory. To resolve was to act, and as he had 
seated himself near her, he said abruptly : 

" Wouldn t you like to get away from all this trouble, 
Miss Lu ? " 

" Yes," she answered, timidly, for childlike she had 
been terrified. 

" Nothing easier ; " he lowered his voice to an insin 
uating whisper. 

"I cannot understand you," she said, unable to catch 
the drift of his thoughts. 

" Nothing easier than to let some one take you out 
of it." 

"That s easy enough, as you say," she answered, 
still puzzled and uneasy at his manner. 

" Some friend, some one that you admire, might 
take you out of the danger, if you would allow it," 
he went on in a simpering way, catching at his sugges 
tions by starts. But so far his words were meaning 

"A friend might do so if 1 was inclined to go," she 
answered, with a faint idea that the Judge was halting 
over some sentimental riddle, and, pained as she was 
at heart, she smiled at the stupid look and manner of 
the man. He was seated very near her, and was about 


to take her hand, perhaps, when a shrill, spiteful voice 
screamed out : 

" Drop it ! drop it ! drop it ! " So sudden, so nearly 
human was the ciy, the Judge fled, and Lu, not less 
frightened, hastened from the porch. She saw the 
parrot standing in the doorway. Polly had been look 
ing on, and as the suitor was about to take Lu s hand, 
had taken her cue ; his attitude was the same as that 
of the boys when training the parrot on the bush, and 
it had only repeated one of the milder forms of its 

Another night of the most trying unrest had passed, 
and the trader rose with the light of the second morn 
ing to hasten to his outlook. The men had come to 
gether a small army their nags saddled, and Legs 
the teamster held the Colonel s horse with his own, at 
the office-door. When Lu came, bringing a tray with 
breakfast, she found the old man with his glass levelled 
on the open country. But he would not be disturbed. 
For a while he peered through it steadily, only chang 
ing position to vary the line of sight. Suddenly he 
called to Lu to come near him, on the ladder. 

"Here, child, be quick," he said, "look due west an 
tell me what you see," placing the instrument in her 
hands. She brought her younger eye to bear upon 
the distance, and had looked but a second, when in a 
fluttering, broken voice she almost screamed : 

"It s them ! it s them, there s Whack and Jump, 
and there s Mary ahead, riding for life ; hold on ; it s 
the scout at their back, fighting a gang, single-handed. 

100 SNAP. 

Stop ; there goes a redskin from his horse, and look, 
he has fired again : down goes another ; he s free ! " 

" Quick, chil, get me the bugle ! " 

Lu turned from the perch, leaped down, and re 
turned in a second. He blew one long, loud blast, 
and it was answered from the camp. Cheer on cheer 
was heard, and like a charge in the heat of battle, the 
men dashed forth ; the trader threw himself into the 
saddle, out-speeding the boy who hung upon his 

Cheer on cheer again burst forth as the men formed 
a barrier against the pirates. The Colonel was the 
first to reach Mary, nor did he wait to draw rein, but 
threw himself from his horse. He seized his child, 
and in a speechless maze, wound his old, fond arms 
around her. 

Just before the bugle s blast, Cartwright bore down 
on the scout; his throat, neck and arms bared and 
bronzed, he lent the hideous to the scene, with violent 
haste. But the bugle s warning checked his headlong 
race, and turning in his saddle he saw his gang on the 
retreat ; he wheeled and followed. 

Pedro the vaquero led the charge from the camp, 
unequalled in grace as the bells of his spurs tinkled at 
every motion. He rode close upon the heels of the 
fleeing boss. Making ready, his right hand held the 
noose and his left the coil of a lasso. With a swing 
of his arm it enlarged over his head to a perfect circle, 
which, as he neared the fugitive, he warily let slip. 
At the same moment his horse fell back on its haunches 


to resist the strain. The wily thief kept an eye on the 
Mexican, and, as the rope left his grasp, Cartwright 
seized his pony s mane, and stretched himself at length. 
The noose fell true to its mark, but the boss escaped 
by dodging. 

"Carajo, caramba ! " muttered the vaquero, as he 
quietly re-coiled his lariat. 

One of the retreating bandits, unable to control his 
ire at Pedro s challenge with the lasso, broke away 
from his party and turned back in a run. He had 
counted on the other s flight, in which to excel him in 
throwing the noose, but he mistook the vaquero s tem 
per, as he sat erect in his seat, unmoved. Drawing 
nearer, there was a glance of recognition in which both 
were fired to a quickened hate. The cow-boy in haste 
drew off his poncho, wrapping it round his left arm, 
dismounted, tied his horse, and with loud threats 
planted himself in front of his foe. The challenge was 
hurled with epithet and curse into the face of him who 
had dashed up to provoke it. 

"Down, down, monte-cheat ; aha, senor thief; down, 
down, coward; by the backbone of the padre, I will 
you smite." 

Drawing his knife he kissed the hilt, and threw it 
trembling through the sunlight, into the earth at his 

The other prepared himself in like manner: his 
tongue more fluent and tiery the two met face to 
face, holding their poinards raised. The left fore-arm 

102 SNAP. 

of each was clad as a shield, and with stab and thrust 
they fell to their bloody work. 

"Hog-driver, peon, bastard, caramba ! hissed the 
frantic Pedro ; he stepped back a pace ; recovered, 
with a quick left-hand flourish of his hat in the face of 
the bewildered adversary, while the right sunk the 
steel, and felled him lifeless on the sod. Stripping the 
dead man s horse, he -mounted, driving the riderless 
beast over the waste. 

The joyous party, with laugh and shout, were hast 
ening to the post, while those in retreat were nearly 
out of sight. At the house, the Colonel bore his 
daughter from her horse and seated her under the 
bison s head. 

"Boys," he called out, in a firm, familiar greeting, 
" don t spec me now to thank you, but the day s a comin 
when I will; that s certin. Come in; we ll drink a 

They entered the house in squads, and the old man 
spent with them a brief roystering hour, the jolliest 
episode of his checkered life. AH the lost humor came 
back to him in redoubled warmth, and Beck, standing 
by Mary, felt free to laugh aloud for the first time since 
her capture. 

" Well Mary," he exclaimed, as if in some doubt of 
what he had done ; " I thought I d get you back to the 
old porch, and here we arc." He had loosened all the 
restraint of his manner and habit, for once. Doctor 
Tom, the Judge, Lu, and Mrs. Garrulson, were all of 
the happy crowd. Whack and Jump recounted to a 


group their adventures, and Chloe, standing at the 
door, chuckled and shook her sides. 

The men were called to mount by Beck, in the lead, 
and outside they gave a round, rousing shout. As 
they rode away, a melodious voice struck up the camp 
song, and from mellowed throats the chorus, on the 
sweet summer breeze, was borne away. 

Crack, snap, whipiti-snap, 

Whipiti-snap, whipiti-snap; 
Crack, snap, whipiti-snap, 

A bullwhacker s life is gay. 
Whoa-hawr down to your work, 
Gee Buck, up with a jerk, 

Crack, snap, bang, jerk, 
A bullwhacker s life is gay. 

104 SNAP. 



JUST after the cheer at the house, groups of joyous 
fellows were seen about the camp. Beck walked off 
to hide himself with his thoughts. When alone, his 
humor changed, his face lengthened, his eyes were 
restless; he sat down, played with a twig and broke 
it into bits. The man was troubled ; a heavy weight 
sat upon his spirit, fears of strange form vexed him. 
He had seen the packers, with Cartwright leading 
them; also, the vicious readiness of the Indians to 
obey his beck and call. He put this and that to 
gether, traced their retreat to the crib, and from 
thence he followed the Mexicans and Cartwright back 
to where the bandits hailed from. All this was the 
subject of his unsettled musing; he took up and 
measured the disjointed outlines of a plot, as his mind 
foreboded ; he knew the actors, and he knew and felt 
with something like a creeping chill, the cold-blooded 
enmity of the ringleader. 

Suddenly he rose, drew himself to his full height, 
and gazed with an intent, far-reaching search ofthe 
vast expanse. He looked steadily, as if he counted 
the leagues ; he drew his hat down and stared, then 


he turned, let fall the bits of twig from his raised 
hand, and said, aloud : 

"I can make it ; I will if it kills me." 

The man had resolved upon making a fearful jour 
ney ; a long, lone race against the insidious spite of a 
hated foe. He had settled down to his duty sternly, 
and walked off with his giant strides let loose. 

At the caballada he stood for a short while looking 
at the drove of fine horses, and singled out, at last, 
one that his eyes had sought. Legs, the teamster, 
had given him his morning dash, a daily exercise to 
tame his mettle, and to harden his muscles. Beck s 
glance at the thoroughbred was satisfying. 

"He ll do," he said; then he moved away to the 
shade of a tree, threw himself on the ground and 
slept for hours. It was a giant s rest. For the re 
mainder of the day, and part of the night, he was 
mending his traps and nerving his heart. 

" I m off, Peter," he said on the morning following 
that on which Mary was brought back. He spoke as 
if he was only about to cross the river and return, so 
easily had his will taken on the discharge of duty 

" Whar you boun, John?" 

"To head off the pirate." 

"Hound him down, an don t let up on him." 

"He ll not trouble the camp jest yet, but," he laid 
his hand on the old man s shoulder, " he will, Peter ; 
he ll never let up till he s dead ; I know him. I ll do 
my best, kase I m bleeged to." 

The trader turned to his iron box and drew forth a 

106 SNAP. 

roll of coin, which Beck put away in the folds of his 
blouse. A few words passed between them as he 
drew his belt closer about his waist, while Peter con 
tinued : " You ken have all you want, pardner ; drive 
out the varmint an I ll not forgit yer sarvice." 

But Beck was already busy ; he had balanced in his 
ha:id the best, long-range rifle from the rack, and to 
prove it clean and sure he stepped to the doorway and 
lircd ; a burr that flecked the taper point of a high top 
pine, spun splintering through the air. 

" Good enough," he said, as he swung the rifle, with 
pouch and powder-horn, having carefully examined 
his smaller arms. 

He now whistled loudly through his fingers, and 
s .on Legs led up the horse. 

"He feels gaily, Mister Beck, an ef he don t take 
you a bilin, I ll give in." 

" What, Tuck ; oh, he ll go like lightnin, or like a 
lamb, jes as I ve a mind to." 

From a score of the best strain, which the trader 
had at times imported into his stock from the blue- 
grass pastures of Kentucky, Beck had long since 
chosen as a favorite, this fine, blood-bay stallion ; the 
fim-st of the lot, and one which he had with uncom 
mon pride watched and longed for as his mount, 
should the time come to need uncommon endurance 
and speed. The time had come. 

Tuck, as Beck called him, was a beauty, a staying 
speeder, fleet as a greyhound. With the wickedest 


grace in the world, the horse stood fretting, and the 
firm muscles twitched under a coat as soft as satin. 

Beck stroked the small, lean, racer-like head, fondled 
the delicate, taper ears traced with veins like a vine- 
leaf; he patted the high-mettled, fine-strung body, 
smoothing the broad shoulders, feeling the force of 
loin and girth, the hard, firm ribs, the clean, slender 
legs. He clasped the face between his hands, and the 
man s nature melted, for on earth there are no eyes so 
spirited as those of a horse. 

fr Are you ready, Tuck? eh, ole boy?" he spoke as 
a friend to a friend in good faith. He turned about 
and looked to his haversack. The provender placed 
therein was barely enough to last a stout man forty- 
eight hours. There was a small lump of pemrnican, a 
small bag of coffee, one of salt and pepper, mixed, a 
dozen or two hard biscuit, a pound or more of flitch, 
a tin quart-cup. He relied for further subsistence on 
his gun and the chance meeting of a train on the road. 

But this was a light concern of the wayfarer, com 
pared with the exhaustion he must undergo. He went 
on with his preparations. His hair had been cut close 
to the scalp, his beard trimmed, he was clad as a 
ranger, without an ounce of useless weight about him. 
He strode up to Cheviteau and said : 

"So long, Peter ; if I m gone for a spell, don t slack 
your trust. Jes remember, I ll make it. I m bleeged 
to do it." 

"Good by, John Beck; I ll wait yer comin till 

108 SNAP. 

Beck left the office with his blankets, and nothing 
more was said by either. Standing at the side of his 
horse, which the lad held, he tightened the girth over 
the Spanish tree, placed his foot in the hooded stirrup 
and mounted. 

In the blood-boiling vigor of his strength, the horse 
pranced, reared, then bounded away under a hand as 
firm as iron. Held to a swinging lope, he bore his 
rider proudly from the sight of his friends at the post. 

In the saddle the man looked his best, and the motion 
seemed to ennoble his bearing. So much of his life 


had been given to the wild coursing of the plains, he 
was never so splendid a figure as now. Sweeping the 
long, drear wastes, across the wide, green stretches, 
through forests, over sun-dried rivers, or battling the 
freshet, he seemed a born rider, and the horse as a 
thing created for him. 

Beck s hazardous scout to the far south-west was full 
of hidden perils. He would traverse at times the Big 
Backbone ; he might be untouched, unseen, or be 
tracked, surprised, hemmed in; from bush or clump, 
the rising prairie swells, from trees skirting the groves 
or forests, from heights above a ford, from mounds or 
gorges, a shower of arrows or of whizzing balls might 
sweep him down ; but the man s face was calm ; the 
eyes, with look of daring, stared straight ahead, and 
beneath him the gray stretches swept by like the pas.-s- 
ing current of a stream. Along the hard, gravelly 
road he held his course and the bay his speed, bearing 
as tierce a rider as ever crossed the plains. 


There was much to lend that hard, strong stare to 
the face of the man. JS T o Bedouin on the sun-stricken, 
desert sands ever gazed upon a more cheerless expanse 
than that on which Beck looked, in the almost limitless 
stretch before him. 

One day with another at the start was a pleasant 
jaunt ; he rode freely, but with extreme caution, to 
spare himself and his horse. 

At the crib the Indians rode away, leaving Cart- 
wright alone with the Mexicans. Just before quitting 
the trader s service he had taken note that contracts 
had been signed, a route mapped out for an expedition, 
and it was nearing the time for its departure ; he knew 
further that it would pursue a certain road, and he 
shaped a plot, at once. He knew the chiefs of hostile 
bands, who traded in the town from which the pack- 
train came, and thither he was bent on going, in the 
lead of the gang. 

It was this very design, which Beck surmised and 
over which he brooded, that had sent him forth. 

Cruz, the deposed captain, was ready enough to foil 
into line as a lieutenant, but before mounting he up 
braided the friend of his bosom and laid bare to the 
amiable Josefina the sin of her fancy for Mary ; she 
meekly, as a matter of course, understood the easy 
stages by which her spouse reached a climax, and was 
not disappointed in an after moment, when he thrashed 
her soundly. Heedless, however, his other pet, in a 
rear- foot pastime, was playing havoc with packs and 
saddles, and vehemently threatened the shanty s safety. 

110 " SNAP. 

The plunder-laden train moved out, taking a secret 
trail for the territory of the south-west savage and the 
puebla of the border Mexican. They had many hours 
start of the scout towards the same destination. 

The trader had made known to the Department at 
Washington the troubles which beset his business, and 
he had asked for a military escort to guard his trains. 

f O 

Whack was forming a patrol of mounted men, for a 
skirmish line on the skirt of the camp ; the number of 
teamsters was increased. 

Beck had been absent a week. At all hours the 
snap of the whip Was heard ; the trader was seen late 
and early in the camp ; the friendship of Miss Lu and 
the sprightly Jumper grew apace ; now and then an 
ebb in Mrs. Garrulson s talk served to show what the 
real force of its flood-tide might be, and the laugh of 
old Chloe was heard, as she sat at her cabin door. 

Mary had held up amazingly, but she was not proof 
against the nervous reaction after so hard a strain. On 
the day of her return, almost overcome, she gave way, 
and was not seen for days ; she kept her room under 
Chloe s care. It was at the end of a week when she 
came again to her accustomed place. 

After dinner, on the day of her re-appearance, Chevi- 
teau led the way to the rear porch, followed by Doctor 
Tom and others of the family. Mary s seat at the side 
of the Doctor seemed just as it should be, nor was it 
less as it should be when Lu and Jumper edged away 
to a corner, nor when Whack was told that two were 
company. There was something not unlike the fitness 


of things when Mrs. Garrulson opened fire on the 

The first whispered word in the tete-a-tete, which 
Whack itched to break up, caught his ear. 

"None o that," he called out, to their dismay; 
"your heads are too nigh." 

"Well, Cheviteau, what s up?" began the Doctor; 
"anybody killed or hurt? The Judge here wouldn t 
mind having a case, I have no doubt." 

"No; somebody mi:ht get hurt, if this thing keeps 

"More trouble?" 

"No, it s the same old fuss twix white and red 

" Yes, and it ll be the same old fuss when we re dead 
and gone." 

"It ought not to be," said the Judge. 

" So we all think, but how would you stop it, 

"Is it the Indian s fault?" 

"If you answer by asking, let me ask, is it the white 
man s fault ? " 

" Well, then, Doctor, what s your remedy?" 

"Treat the bad white man and the bad red man 
alike ; make a law that both shall respect alike, to 
which both shall be responsible; then hang them 
both, if they deserve it; don t make a criminal out of 
your own kind, and a hero out of a savage, for one 
and the same offence ; that kind of policy is sheer non 

112 SXAP. 

"But the government has been kind to the In 

" And has only flattered his vices by being so ; it has 
been generous, but not just." 

" How so ? " 

"With one hand it provides for him, guards him; 
with the other places him in the path of progress, a 
scarecrow to enterprise, a hideous fright to the emi 
grant, to be ultimately stricken down, cast aside and 
trampled on." 

" Jus so, Doctor," said the trader ; " he s right across 
the track of trade with the best land, timber and water 
in the univarse, which he can t use, which he wouldn t 
neither, if he could." 

" Yes ; and trade has no ill will to the red man ; it 
would improve his condition, bring him comforts, if 
allowed to pass free on the highway, a free highway." 

" The government will protect trade," exclaimed the 
Judge, catching at a chance. 

" Will it? That s something new. No, seh, cept its 
own supplies, it never does," said the trader. 

"It couldn t protect it, if it would; the army at its 
greatest strength ever allowed by law couldn t place a 
corporal s guard at each of the exposed points along 
the lines of traffic." 

"The Injin knows as well as you do, Jedge, right 
from wrong ; thar s no use talkin bout that." 

"True enough, Colonel; philanthropy has spoiled 
what practical men should have managed. We boast 
that our land is a refuge for the oppressed ; we invite 


them to come and live on the public domain. We say 
to the poor settler, go, till the ground and you may 
have the land, on this condition : remember, we have 
a pet tiger at large there, and you must not harm the 
beast. But, says the poor man, suppose the beast 
harms me? We have nothing to do with that, is the 
reply ; now, how long will it be before the land is 
tilled?" asked the Doctor. 

"Not till you ve killed the tiger," said the old man, 
with warmth, as he continued : 

" We could manage the Injin, if thar was any law; 
before it can reach us, we have to make a law for 
ourselves and take it in our own hands. I know we re 

"It seems a pity, a shame that we can t live in 
peace. Wouldn t the church and school-house do 
some good? " asked Mary. 

" That s what we strive for, my young friend, that 
civilization may come with its church and school. It 
is not in the love of strife that we fight when w r e must 
fight If we were craven enough not to fight, pray 
who would advance the cause of civilization?" 

"I reckon the white man s as much at fault as the 
Indian ; if there wasn t money in it, the cause of civili 
zation wouldn t get on a step." The Judge was rude ; 
his words were too nearly a slur upon the motives of 
those whose hospitality he enjoyed. The Doctor 
colored and moved in his chair ; Cheviteau sat upright, 
his face set firmly, and he laid down his pipe. 

114 SNAP. 

" Look heah, Jeclge," he said quickly, " do you think 
I d risk my life as I do for whnt money I make? " 

" Xo, not you, no ; " answered the Judge, beginning 
to hedge. 

The Doctor walked the porch, with quick, short 

"Do you think, sen, that a woman who has forsaken 
all the gentler ways of life, sell, to make her influence 
the grace of .our rough life here, seh, would bring to 
us her love and her religion, for money, money, seh ! 
No, seh ; you re mistaken ; in the whole policy there is 
a want of law administered righteously ; a want of the 
statesman, seh, in the place of the politician." 

It began to dawn upon the Judge that he had stirred 
a hornet s nest. 

"Eight, Doctor," joined in the old man; " we imis 
have law, and the law s officers to hang these skulking 
half-breed whites; these hounds who lead the pack; 
these sharks and pirates, without heart or soul, who 
stir the bad blood and the hate of the redskins, and 
they go free, always free. Law or no law, we re men 
with the right to live heah; we ll tight, too, till you 
law-makers, Jedge, bring us the better day of peace 
and order." 

While her father spoke, Mary rose and stood behind 
him ; she felt almost tempted to pat his back in 
approval ; never before had he spoken so well ; never 
in her sight had he seemed so nearly justified. She 
spoke out, at last, with much of his own fervor. 

" \Vell said, father; God speed us to the good day." 


" What I has made, Jedge," said the trader, more 
calmly, "has cost a life of hard knocks ; ef it war to 
do over agen, anybody might have my chance." 

" They ought to be taught better ; made Christians 
of," the Judge remarked, as an escape. 

" Christians, sell ! " the Doctor was up again ; " why, 
the Indian says, the white men have so many creeds, 
he won t believe any of them. He has his own god 
a wolfs fang ; if he don t like it, he takes another 
a bear s claw ; that s his Christianity, seh. Look at the 
farce of it. They re hemmed in to rot on their own 
vices, with liberty to slay, with no lawful restraints ; 
treated as a foreign people, a political entity, a moral 
nonentity ; make Christians of them ! bah ! Christians 
have lived, worked and died among them, and there 
are no converts : the Indians slay them, seh, now and 
then, because they talk too much." 

" Can t the tinny be made stronger ? " asked the 

"What s the use? You could not make it strong 
enough, unless you mean to exterminate the red man. 
The flower of the army, led by a prince of its bravest 
phalanx, was decoyed into a trap ; a thousand savages 
swarmed about the little baud ; not a man lived to tell 
the story of the -fiendish, sulphurous dance of death, 
wherein drunken squaws beat out the lives of the 
wounded, or strangled them in their agony. Were 
they ever punished?" 


" But, hold on, seh ; then there s the men my friend 

116 SNAP. 

speaks of, who turn a penny, seh, over the corpse of 
the settler; who deal in whiskey, seh; in stolen arms 
and ammunition, seh, and reap a harvest from the 
bloody spoliage " 

Quoth the parrot : 

" Go it ! go it ! go it ! " 

fr D n that bird!" cried the Doctor, brought to 
a sudden halt, and feeling his temper rising, he hastily 
left the porch. 

At the request of her father, Mary re-told the story 
of her capture, from the seizure of her person while 
stooping over the flowers, to the insult in the camp of 
the pirates. All were moved at the recital, but her 
words seemed to strike fire in the kindling rage of 
Mrs. Garrulson. 

"What s that?" What d he do?" she cried out, 
suddenly, as she drew her chair to the side of the 
speaker ; the others gave attention. 

"He touched my cheek, insultingly," Mary repeated, 
and the color came in haste to the spot the rude hand 
had offended. 

" Teched yer cheek ! why the . copper-cull ud sar- 
pent ; ef I d bin thar I d a " 

"Mauled him," suggested Whack. 

"Chawed him up," said Jump. 

"What would you done to him, old lady? "asked 

" I d a punched his head, sartin," she answered. 

Mary s story warmed the memory of her father, who 
called up an adventure with the pride of one who trav- 


els hack into a glowing past. He dwelt, at length, on 
an escapade with the Sioux in the far-away, fright- 
haunted days of his youth ; how he once, as a bearer 
of dispatches from one fort to another, rode alone 
through the wilderness alive with the war-striped foes. 
He had singled out an untracked course to avoid sur 
prise, and spoke of his riding headlong into danger ; 
how, suddenly, they sprang upon him. Then followed 
a long, fearful chase ; ceaselessly the yells rang in his 
ears ; foodless, and faint with failing sight, he thought 
his day had come, and that a grave yawned for him on 
the drear and friendless prairie. Hope was almost 
gone, when his eye caught a glimpse of a distant river. 
He rallied his horse, reached its bank, and there his 
mount gave out ; he plunged into the stream, as the 
arrows fell around him like storm-driven twigs. Now 
beyond their hate, with succor from the fort speeding 
towards him, and crazed with a wild delight, he flung 
back the bewildered words : 

" Safe ! you devils, safe ! " 

"Its Lu s turn next, for a scrape," said Whack, 
thereby bringing the couple to the notice of all ; and 
in the unhappy pause, she not hearing what was said, 
was heard to say : 

"What, Harry, jealous already?" 

" She s into it without knowing how she got there," 
continued the tease laughing, in which the others 

" What s the matter ? " asked the innocent Jumper, 
looking up to find all eyes upon him. " Come, Miss 

118 SNAP. 

Lu, let s walk ; we can t have any peace where that 
bull- whacker is." 

"Miss Lu! why don t you say Mister Harry, Miss 
Lu? " he railed and teased in his boisterous way, until 
the two were out of hearing. 

The Colonel hastened off to the office and Whack fol 
lowed him. 

Mary was now left alone with Mrs. Garrulson, who 
had, the moment before, driven the Judge away by the 
discipline of her talk. Chloe came to the porch with 
a message, and Mary kept her seat to hear what she 
knew full well would take place between the two old 

"Ah, honey, yuse safe, but deyse musn t shoot no 
mo squarls," Chloe said to begin with. 

"Why not?" 

"Kase you see, chile, dat wus de bang o de rifle an 
dars ben trubel eber sence." 

"That s so," said Mrs. G. ; " who d a thunk it." 

"But dat dars mi thin neether ; it wus de chicken 
clumbin de fense ; mind I dun tole yer so, afore." 

"Oh, sho," sneered the other; "what s ther yuse, all 
the time er talking bout that ar rooster?" 

" Jes yer wait den ; jes keep on, ole Miss ; wait tell 
yer seed him climb der fense agin." 

" 1 se got a game chicken, I reckon ; an he climbs a 
fense all der time." 

" Oh he do, do he? well, ole Miss, dat ar chicken 
o mine jes look at me, to take a warnin." 

"Thet s nuthiuk ; why, my chicken ken tork." 


"Tork ! " exclaimed Chloe, with uplifted hands and 
looking at Mary, who was shocked ; " now, ole Miss, 
not tork I reckon." 

"May I never; yes indeed, tork," she replied, not 
the least abashed ; " every time a hawk flewed over thet 
ar rooster jes spread his wings an cum a runnin." 

Here the old woman rose, spread her arms, suiting 
gesture and voice to the supposed action of the fowl, in 
close mimicry : 

"Runnin to me, Chloe, wid his mouth wide open, an 
a hollerin, Miss Me-lin-dee ! Miss Me-lin-dee ! you jes 
oughter seed him." 

"Oh, dat a way," giggled the old darkey, shaking 
her sides ; and Mary joined in the round, wholesome 

120 SNAP. 



A FORTNIGHT has passed over the head of the daunt 
less scout and his mount. Cantering down the slopes 
of the Divide, to cut off the turns of the road, the 
horse leaped to the green valley-plain. For long 
days, Beck had ridden a steady, unbroken race. Day 
in and day out it was an unchanging gallop during the 
hours he gave to his work ; his rule was as strict dur 
ing the time of rest. At dawn he was astride and 
away, and slackened speed only when the haat of the 
day came on. He left the beaten track at every curve 
to shorten distance ; from every rise he took his bear 
ings, sighting afar the greener spots for the noontide 
halt. At such as afforded water he got down, swabbed 
his horse s mouth, rubbed down his foaming sides, 
cooled him in the shade, if there was none other than 
the mere shadow of a bush. For himself he kept a 
sharp watch while caring for his beast ; he often left 
him picketed, to hail and join a train on foot, to obtain 
supplies. He boiled his coffee in the quart-cup, ate 
sparingly, save Avhen his rifle secured him a feast. 
Then, in the dew-drenched twilight, he rode forth 
again, and drew rein at length for the night in the 
thickening darkness. Again, at daybreak, he bridled 


his thoroughbred fresh from a bed of daisies, and sped 
on. But the wear and tear began to show ; would 
show were they made of iron. The man s face, though 
still sternly set, was drawn down, tanned and Scorched 
by the sun ; the horse had thinned in flesh, feeling the 

All the while, at the post, the days dragged slowly, 
and though the trader was busy with his camp and 
droves, he thought often and anxiously of the distant 

Cheviteau looked about him one morning, weeks 
after Beck s departure, for a man to fill Pedro s place, 
who with a wounded arm had been placed in charge of 
Mary and Chloe, by the Doctor s orders. A blooded 
colt needed an airing under the saddle, and though 
kind and well broken, had been running wild for a sea 
son. Now full of lusty life, his master thought best 
to remind him of his training. 

The first man the trader met in camp was Tim 
Murphy, and for whom the old man had a warm 

The tap o the marnin till yer honor," he cried ; 
w may they all be as bright as yer darter s face." 

ff Good mornin, Tim." 

" Didn t the bys coine up to the scratch tho, Colonel, 
whin we whit arter the pirates?" 

rf My boys allers do, seh." 

" Thrue for you, Colonel." 

"Tim, I want a man for the drove, on special duty," 
the trader said, coming to the point, and his words 

122 SNAP. 

were caught up by a few idlers standing near. The 
specialty of the service referred to was to mount a 
whip on a thoroughbred and to transfer him to the 
care of stock. 

"For speeshal dooty, is t? Yees needn t look over 
me showlder for the loike of him, Colonel." 

"Ken you ride a fast horse on a chase?" Many 
teamsters, while the best of service men with the lash, 
were poor riders. 

"Didn t me fayther ride forninst the Darby afore 
me, an didn t yees see me forninst the charge of the 

" Well, I ll try you, Tim ; come along." The proof 
of fitness lay in a trial. 

The men looked one at the other, as the Colonel and 
Murphy moved away ; they knew that the boasted 
riding of their comrade was a trifle overdrawn, and 
that any severe test would upset his vaunt and belittle 
him with the Colonel ; he too had his doubts, but he 
chose the man as a mark of friendship, for he liked 
readiness, not less his candor and humor. 

The grazing ground was soon reached; it was a 
wide, green table of level prairie, and the large drove 
was tended by the best of drovers, the mounted va- 
queros. The trader beckoned to one of them, making 
his wishes known by signs ; the dumb by-play mysti 
fied Tim. 

"An ken yees talk Mexan on yer fingers?" he 

"Yes," the old man answered, jokingly. 


"It s a pity then yese not tried em on Heinrich s 
lingo ; I d be sorry for them same, whin yese do." 

" When you ken ride like a Mexaii, Tim, you ll 
know sumpin bout a hoss." 

While the Colonel was speaking, the drove, at a 
distance, grew restive, and a steer bolted the line of 
the range ; upon seeing which, the vaqueros dashed 
after him. 

" Watch the boys nab that feller, Tim ; they ll lasso 
his legs an leave him on the ground for punishment." 
The trader explained these things to his teamster, as 
his discipline was such he never permitted his whips, 
unless he was with them, to cross the line of the cattle 
range ; this was done to keep the sets of men apart to 
prevent feuds. 

Just as he had said, one of the Mexicans pursued at 
full run, throwing his coil as he rode; very soon the 
fugitive was brought to, lying prone on his back, while 
the second vaquero caught his heels with his noose. 
Between the two the runaway was at once in duress. 

The horse was now brought up. 

"Now, Tim, heah conies the critter: he s a flyer; 
pure stock, seh, an he knows nothin but bisnis ; look at 
that head, his step, and that ar neck, seh. 

" An is t the baste fer me to ride?" 

" Yes, seh ; an you ll never mount another like him, 
if I know anything bout horseflesh ; but take a caution ; 
don t you let anything come up ahind him, mind ; he 
won t stan that, if he knows it." 

" Ef he knows it," repeated the other. 

124 SNAP. 

The young, full-fed colt pawed the earth proudly ; 
the eye, soft, open, rolling, in every glance showed his 
spirit ; every pulsing vein his temper, breeding and 

"Whoa, Tad, you rowdy," said the owner, patting 
the horse s face, as the cow-boy saddled him. 

" Jes as gentle as a kitten ; he was nussed on blue- 
grass, Tim." 

"An that s good for em, is t, Colonel?" He drew 
nearer, as he spoke, to be friendly with his mount, and 
helped to bridle him. 

The Irishman climbed into the saddle and rode away ; 
the horse stepping off with a keen desire for a free rein 
and the word "go." One Mexican looked at the 
other, and both smiled blandly, while the trader turned 
about for the camp. He had been with his men but a 
short while, when each ceased speaking and listened. 

" What s that? " was said. The sound that came to 
their ears a dull, distant thud was like the first 
fretful rumble of a storm. 

" The drove s stampeded, boys," the old man called 
out, as he mounted a wagon, to take in a view of the 
field. What he saw was one of those phenomenal 
panics, which suddenly seize upon, not only beasts in 
herds, but regiments in battle ; always a fear-stricken 
madness, without method or restraint. 

Murphy had ridden Tad close upon the flank of the 
grazers at a central point on the line of the immense 
drove, and there he halted. As luck would have it so, 
he had but drawn rein, wheeling his horse to face the 


cnttlc, when a Texan showed signs of affright. A 
trifie, perhaps, had scared him, but the loud, angry 
bellow, the stamp of the hoofs and the snort of rage, 
tilled his fellows at once with terror. On the instant 
every head was up, the ears pricked, the horns ready, 
the eyes staring wide ; again the mutineer sounded his 
alarm, and a hundred deep throats echoed it; then, 
with a bound, the one broke away, his tail whirled like 
a whip-lash, his head low down, and the panic became 
general. On the heels of the leader the whole drove, 
in crazed disorder, broke ranks and fled. 

At the first sign of revolt, the vnqueros called to 
Tim and motioned to him to beat back the rioter into 
the drove ; but Murphy, in truth, had no time for the 
action. He had tried to wheel his horse across the 
path of the steer, but a fortunate, as well as unforeseen 
turn, caused the horse to disobey ; had he tarried with 
the rider both might have been borne down and tram 

Tad was moved by a single instinct ; challenged to 
speed by the ringleader of the drove in trying to pass 
him, no hand could now tame the freed and truant 
spirit. The thoroughbred was, therefore, the fore 
most in a wild, headlong, heedless race ; nor could the 
most skilful rider have wheeled out of the scrape. 
There was a break-neck need to forgo ahead, as it 
would have been a deadly chance to cross the track of 
sue!) a rabble. Cattle, like sheep, hold blindly to the 
load, and as the colt warmed to his best leaps, the drove 
redoubled its speed. The vaqueros on the right and 

120 SXAP. 

left flank of the mass had screamed themselves hoarse 
hailing the frightened runaway, but all to no purpose. 

Poor Tim. It was the ride of his life, to which the 
exploit of Gilpin or the scramble of Sheridan would 
bear but a shady likeness. Tad had caught the bit 
between his teeth, clucked his head for a hard run, 
threw his feet into the face of his rivals, and fairly 
flew over the prairie. Tim held his seat, both hands 
in the mane, both feet to the heels through the stir 
rups ; he was hatless, his hair on end, the bridle lying 
loose before him. 

" Whoa ! " he roared above the loud tramp behind 
him ; "the baste don t know how to shtop." 

The horse plunged on. 

" Whoa ! " he cried again, almost bereft of his senses ; 
" an the Colonel calls him Toad ! Whoa, Toad, you 
laping varmint ; " but still the horse ran on ; he leaped 
like a deer and sped like the blast. 

"Moses! pfat ll be lift o> me; an this he calls a 
speeshul sarvice ; whoa, Toad, you baste ; " he cast a 
glance backward over his shoulder and turned pale. 
"Be jabes, an look at that now; the whurld is full of 
em, an if this horse slips, good-by Misther Tim." 

By this time the horse s speed was well spent, as 
well as that of the drove ; but still holding the lead, his 
movements seemed to indicate a return to camp in a 
well-directed turn. 

Cheviteau and his men looked on at the ludicrous 
plight of Murphy, without being able, until now, to 
render him aid. 


" Get yer whips, all hands," he said, "an be quick 
about it ; if they bolt the bluff I ll lose a hundred 

Tad had left the drove some distance to rear, and 
came bounding on. The teamsters stepped aside to let 
him pass their line ; then closing up they lashed and 
yelled at the cattle coming on. Losing their leader, 
the drove slackened its pace ; at the same time the 
vaqueros turned it for the tramping ground, where it 
soon became quieted. 

The horse had gone on, until near the spot where 
Cheviteau was standing, and there he stopped short at 
his owner s call. Tim leaped down, and struck the 
ground with a thud. 

" Jabbers ! " he exclaimed, as the breath escaped 

" Are you hurt, Tim? " asked the trader. 

" Deil a bit ken I tell ye, Colonel." 

" Well seh ; what do you think of my colt?" 

" Yer colt? I fath, but Toad s a good name for him, 
barring the wings." 

" He has a splendid spirit, Tim." 

" Speerit is t?" 

"Yes, seh ; good blue-grass breeding." 

"Thinets a good thing, d ye mind, that he s got 
down to graen." 

Time was never wasted under the trader s manage 
ment ; he kept bis men well in hand, and combining 
his trade with the avocation of a grazer, there were 
seasons of labor other thar those which his expeditions 

128 SA-IP. 

required. So it was that his droves increased, for in 
his penny-wise foresight the outlying meadows near 
about his camp were turned into haytields. He sowed 
and reaped and laid up against the sweeping blasts and 
snow-gusts of hard winters. Few of his trade thrived 
like him ; few had the thrift to combine these differ 
ent pursuits. Stirring as all his daily occupations 
were he could not lay aside a growing anxiety about 
Beck ; he had been gone six weeks, and Cheviteau 
often turned from his labor towards the horizon, to 
strain his eyes in the hope of gladdening them with a 
sight of the returing rider. 

The summer was in its earliest prime and the 
mowers blades were seen flashing in the sunlight. 
Early and late the wide swarths fell under the scythes, 
and the rakers followed in the track of the swinging 
blades. Mary was seen again on the path to the ham 
let, and Mrs. Garrulson tarried under the hospitable 
shelter. All the while the Judge was busy; he wrote 
lengthy scrawls, and waited what the boats might 
bring in reply, with an air of authority. He was found 
at odd times, in hidden nooks, conversing low with 
such as would listen. The Doctor talked much and 
was fussy, subsiding to a calmer temper on the banks 
of the creek, watching the bob of his line. In this 
way days ran into weeks, in the quiet of a far-away 

Beck was nearing the end of the almost endless 
stretch; horse and rider were worn to the bone. The 
wear upon the man had left him gaunt and angular ; 


the skin of his face, neck and hands had peeled ; where 
the sun had scorched deeply there were blisters. He 
walked with a halt, the muscles of his limbs were 
crippled. His faithful stallion never failed in pluck 
or endurance, but the proud neck was limp, held low, . 
the eyes drooping, the ribs could be counted and the 
gloss of his satin coat had faded ; his hoofs were 
cracked and tender, and when saddling Beck took up 
much that was to spare in the girth. 

There was one stretch more ; the horse was equal to 
it after a more than usual rest. Beck gave him water 
where they camped, drew the straps tightly in place, 
and mounted. He had to cross the northern skirt of 
a small, waterless desert. An angry day had faded 
out in a brazen sundown, and the scout s trail lay 
through the white, baked dust ; the breeze was heavy 
and stifling and came fitfully over the drear morass. 

The gang led by Cartwright had traveled at a steady 
jog, the short quick-step of the prairie ponies, and 
the incredible stamina of their Aviry frames held out. 
They hurried on, hiding by day to avoid arrest by 
whites or attacks from unfriendly Indians. Through 
the nights and days of long weeks spun out, they had 
left behind them the wide, green valley lands and 
softer skies, and rode a path fringed with the sage and 
thistle, where speary grasses withered in the sun. 

Forty miles away, in the twilight of the angry day, 
where earth and sky were joined in one long gleam, 
they saw upon the silvery space a silhouette of a horse 
and rider. The outlines were perfect, though the 

130 SA r AJ\ 

figure was but a speck ; they had seen the forms of 
Beck and his stallion. 

He had distanced the gang, though they knew it 
not, and by the aid of his rare knowledge inroad-craft, 
he had ridden boldly, and clear of all opposing dan 

Days rolled on. Chtoe, as mistress of certain small 
matters, had laid down a day s duty for the unruly 

"Now mine, dus yer h yar ; gwy long arter dat cow 
an caf, out y aimer." 

"Yes m;" he answered with quick consent, for to 
watch the cow called him away from other and more 
irksome tasks, and made his jaunt a holiday. 

" I se a gwyne but er " 

" None uv yer foolishtist ; gwy long." 

" Ain t I a gwyne ; kase I knows dar ain t no 
spooks out dar, is dar?" 

" Spooks ! " the old woman held counsel with her 
self as to the boy s misgiving, in which she shared. 
She gave heed to his words in her own awe of the 
spirits said to be earth-bound to the space around the 
haunted cabin. 

" I kinder reckon not, Cato ; but ef yer sees a spook, 
h yar s wat ll fotch him ; " a bent horse-shoe nail was 
the charm she hung round the lad s neck. His doubts 
took wing from the corn-fed content of his nature, 
sparkling in a flute-like whistle, which the birds 
caught up, as one. 

Chloe cast a look after him as he went along ; a self- 


reproving look, as if she had doomed him to be the 
witches prey, and, perchance, she thought, never 
again would his form be seen. 

"H yah, boy;" she yelled, as a vagrant hope lent 
her another talisman, "ef dat ar nail don t do, eat a 
danjelion ; clus yer h yah me? " 

The boy heard her, and called back : 

" Danjelion ! " He ran on, whistling, out of her 
sight, into the wide, full gladness of the summer day. 

The gray old earth, so gently wild, lay in the beams 
of the eastern sun, all lonely, lovely ; over it swept 
from the dance of the leaves, a breath of the woodland 
fragrance, winging the sun-spun mites through the 
golden vista. The snowy piles of curdled clouds lay 
low on bars of blue ; a silence perfect, moved only by 
the little singing whispers : 

"The unshorn fields, boundless, beautiful, 

As if the ocean in his gentlest swell 

Stood still, with all his rounded billows fixed 

And motionless forever." 

The rich, full voice of the little darkey broke in on 
the waiting stillness ; its notes were like the clarion 
et s, rising, swelling into a inolody of tuneful sounds, 
a crude cadence, rude, loud, but sweet. He sang a 
camp-meeting jubilee ; the words a pot-pourri of his 
fears, his hopes and his fun : 

Gel-o-ree ! Gel-o -ree ! 
I se wun ob de Marster s ban, 

Gel-o-ree ! Gel-o-ree ! 
Oh-h hap-pee, hap-pee Ian ; 

132 SNAP. 

Ef ynse git clar, afore I cluse, 
Oh, lemme foller in yer shuse, 
Wen I git dar, I ll tell cle nuse." 

Oh-h hap-pee, hap-pee Ian. 
(Clapping hands.) 

Gel-o-ree ! Gel-o-ree ! 
I se wun ob cle Marster s ban, 

Gel-o-ree ! Gel-o-ree ! 
Oh-h hap-pee, hap-pee lari ; 
De clebbil laid awake at nite 
His tail a sliakin, was a site, 
He couldn t hide afore the lite, 

Oh-h hap-pee, hap-pee Ian. 

Gel-o-ree ! Gel-o-ree ! 
Ise wun ob cle Marster s ban, 

Gel-o-ree ! Gel-o-ree ! 
Oh-h hap-pee, hap-pee Ian ; 
Wen Gabril seed cle debbil grin, 
His tail a flappin up at him, 
He chop it off an druv it in, 

Oh-h hap-pee, hap-pee Ian. 

Gel-o-ree ! Gel-o-ree ! 
Ise wun ob de Marster s ban, 

Gel-o-ree ! Gel-o-ree ! 
Oh-h hap-pee, hap-pee Ian ; 
I terry on de big, green flo, 
De boat es waitin on cle sho, 
To lib an laf fer eber mo, 
Oh-h hap-pee, hap-pee Ian. 

All at once the song ceased/ and on looking np the 
singer found himself in the spectral shade of the cabin. 
He had reached its terrors step by step, as if led by 
an unseen hand, and from the chill of sudden fright 
the glory of his jubilee faded. 


The bark of a squirrel transfixed him. 

All the rounded wrinkles of a merry face were 
strained and straight ; the mouth closed tightly, like 
the lid of a music-box ; the eyes grew larger, larger, 
until the whites shone pale upon the cheeks, the hands 
were useless, the knees askew. 

Again the squirrel barked ; the silence deepened, 
and like a sheet of brass from the blazing sky, the 
noon-sheen fell. 

" Who clat ? " he asked, in a feeble, husky tone. 

" Dat ! " replied the rotting logs, the hollow chimney. 

"Dat you, Misto Johnsing?" he asked again, in a 
smirkish rally of the nerves, as he edged away, look 
ing over his shoulder. 

"I know d yer," he said, playing oft with his fright 
as his steps widened. 

Again the squirrel barked. 

The boy broke into a run, and fear lent speed to his 
strides along the margin of the muddy creek, until his 
breath came fast, and he threw himself, laughing, into 
the green, high grass. 

"Who s afeerd ! " he said, as the wrinkles wreathed 
about the mouth again; it opened, like a clam, and 
never a pearl in its sea-shell home shone brighter than 
the teeth. 

Just behind him, in the sunlight, lay a broad, smooth 
slab ; a virgin tablet to be carved by Him who writes 
with the lightning. To the imp it was an itching 
temptation ; he sprang to the warm, hard surface, and 
the fall of the bare foot sounded like a smack of the 

134 SMir- 

hands. Then his heels flew up, and he sang again, all 
joyously, the patter of the feet beating time. 

Now he crawled down the bank of the stream, and 
in the glare he seated himself on a flat, unshaded rock, 
arranging his hook and line. 

The creek was an inlet from the bend of the river ; 
it had wormed its way deeply across the plateau by 
the cabin, down the gorge, to where it met the current 
again, like the string of a bow. Here it was that Beck 
rode with fierce leaps, on the eventful night of Mary s 
capture, and stood sentinel over the pirates cave. It 
was a sullen, murky water-course, spreading wide and 
shallow between high bluffs. 

At the first spring of the boy s pole, casting his 
shotted string far out into the current, a hungry, 
shovel-headed " cat " swallowed the bait and was drawn 
up ; the fish was soon afloat, strung to a tow. 

Now yawning, nodding he gave signs of sleepiness, 
and bathed in the sunshine, his form was stretched to 
the undenied beneficence ; he tied the fish-line to his 
toe, nor was his the first inventive genius that made 
the foot a hitching-post during slumber. The fabled 
fisherman of "Ole Varginny sho " was whirled to his 
doom through a like caper. Nor was it ever known, 

" After all their guessing and all their figgerin, 
Whether the nigger a-iishing had gone, 
Or the fish had gone a-niggerin." 

Doctor Tom also, with his hook and line, had saun 
tered forth to the creek s outlet, counting surely that 


his rod, only less than Aaron s in its virtue, would be 
the marvel of the sport; his up-stream trudge, over 
brake and briar and pool, had repaid his toil, with the 
common luck of his tribe, scratched limbs and a 
minnow. Tired truly and well-worn, he found a seat 
under a sycamore : 

" Its broad, dark bough in solemn repose 
Far over the silent brook." 

After a while he stirred himself, and went on, to 
come upon the dreaming darkey. It was a bright 
spark of fun that lighted up the Doctor s face as he 
quietly took the large, fat cat from the boy s line and 
put his own little chub in the place of it. Passing on, 
he gave a thought to the bliss of ignorance and the 
folly of wisdom. 

Cato slept like a top, with the healthy snore of a 
saucy boy ; long he slept ; the plump, fat face bore no 
lines save the smooth ones where the laugh comes in ; 
a genuine type he was of " the ebo-shin and gizzard 
foot," a product of hoe-cake and bacon. He slept on, 
and not a nibble stirred his sound repose ; how long 
in the calm, sweet day he, lay there, he knew not. 

" Hal-lo ! hal-lo ! you boy ! " 

Presently the hail struck the dull ear of the sleeper; 
he came to slowly, but as the call was repeated he 
jumped to his feet : 

" Ken I cross the crick? how deep?" asked a horse 
man on the further mar^e of the stream. 

13G SA AP. 

" Yes, seh ! " answered Cato, half awake and scratch 
ing his chin. 

Kings have been dethroned, and the world set agog 
through less mistakes than chanced between these two. 
The boy answered as to the man s right to cross, and 
the man fixed in his mind the depth of the water by 
the boy s motion to his chin. 

The imp sleepily looked on ; he saw the stranger 
disrobe, but not until he and his horse bad reached mid 
stream did the truth make its way to his brain. Then 
a laugh rang out that startled the silence, and snatching 
at his luck, w T ith a leap, the boy was gone. 

The man, pale with rage, leading his horse, gained 
dry land ; he stamped and swore, bit his lip and swore 
again; fora gentleman, bare, cuts a most ridiculous 
figure, to be laughed at, outright, by a little black 

He had crossed the stream, scarcely reaching his 

But he rode on, and for years his ire kept warm ; 
in the end : 

" The moral was this, as somebody told him, 
That he had sold negroes, and a negro had sold him." 

"Whar s de cow?" said Chloe, as her factotum 
stood before her. 

" Spooks ! " he replied, with a face put on for the 

" Spooks ! whar s eny ? Wat dese got to do wid de 
cow, hey?" 


" Eat do cow up ; hecrd um champin." 

"Wat! oh, hesh boy; spooks don t eat cow-meat; 
I knows dat." 

" Seed um." 

" Go long yer triflin rnoke ; you d er ruinge dcr 

It Avas the chance the fat rascal longed for, and when 
alone his loud laugh was heard again, as he thought of 
the stranger s plight. Now, for the first time, he 
caught sight of the fish, which, as he ran, had dangled 
behind him. 

" Its swunk ; laws a massy, how dis nig mus er 
run d ; " but here a fright came upon him, lest while 
he slept the spooks had bewitched his catch ; the boy 
laughed no more that day. 

138 SNAP. 



A FAMISHED pair were the horse and rider, when the} 
rode out the last long mile. Beck drew up, challenged 
by a crowd of vaqueros at a ranche not far from the 
Mexican town. One who spoke English accosted 
him : 

" What you want, caballero ? " 
"Whar sFerati?" 

The man turned, and raising his voice to a hallo, 
called out : 

" Senor Don Ferati ! " The Senor was not afield and 
came at once to the door of his low, hay-thatched 

"Hi, hi, caramba, man ; here am I and not a league 
oft*," he said angrily in Spanish ; and then speaking to 
the rider in broken English : 

"Americano, will he come down?" he said. 
Beck dismounted and, standing face to face with the 
grazer, the latter knew him on the instant, and in a 
fervid show of friendship, peculiar to his people, he 
said : 

"Kari, my soul; by the padre s elbow, Capitaine 
Beck; caramba; in, in, my friend, my companion, ca- 
rajo ; stay with me forever, Manuela ! Manuela ! " 
He kept on in this strain, calling f ;r some one within, 


and presently the slender, graceful furm, the sweet, 
olive-tinged face, and the sparkling eyes of his young 
and very pretty wife were seen in the doorway. 
" Make ready, child, for my friend, the Americano ; a 
good friend, my Manuela ; in, seiior ; " and Beck en 
tered the dwelling. 

"Where from, good friend?" asked the Mexican, 
eyeing the wearied man before him. 

" From sunrise," Beck answered with a cold smile, 
signing to make himself understood, and naming the 
far-away river from which he had set out. 

The host stared at the speaker, as at a ghost from 
the grave, crossed himself, and threw up his hands, 
exclaiming : 

"Quien sabe? great saints! Down, down, good, 
brave horseman ; do rest." Then he spread a poncho 
on the hard floor. 

But Beck was still alive and wakeful to his purpose. 

After going buck through the past of their acquaint 
ance over a meal quickly served by the young senora, 
Beck turned to the business before them. It was, in 
brief, to engage Ferati to enter the town and watch for 
the arrival of the pack-train, to note the movements 
of the gang and to find out the plans of Cartwright. 
He paid his host a fair sum to serve him, and when 
Ferati had seen that his guest was well disposed in a 
quiet rest, and his horse unsaddled, he gave over his 
ranche to a trusty dependent. He charged him, on 
pain of death, to be good to the needs of his visitor, 
and bidding his wife prepare herself for the fandango 

140 SNAP. 

in town, he called up his mounts. Very soon thereaf 
ter the two rode off, and riding fast were soon out of 
sight in the darkness. 

In the dawn-lighted, sweeter stretches, having 
crossed the southern rim of the dead waste, the pirates 
halted. Just beyond their camp the noted Spanish 
village of the south-west border Liy, loosely flecking 
the plain. Cartwright and Cruz rode away from the 
camp and into the plaza of the dingy puebla. 

Among piles of fruit and vegetables sat the rabble 
of the market-place. Ill-favored faces peered forth 
from the hoods of their dirty rebozos, and there was a 
babel of distracting sounds from a mob of donkeys, 
yelping, wolf-like curs and swearing muleteers. Inter 
mingling, there were sounds less harsh ; the jingle of 
spurs, the small, soft voice of the child, the bass of 
the mountaineer, and a note of richest music, swelled 
in the laugh of a hoydenish poblano. 

r < Tortillas! tortillas!" cried a muchachita. 

" Chile bueno! Chile Colorado! Chile caliente!" 
screamed a concinera, with his fiery stew. 

"Pan y leclie, pan blancho ! " the song of a girl whose 
sweet notes were overborne by 

" Carbon! carbon!" from a vendor of charcoal. 

"Aqua! aqua limpia excellent?" bawled an aqua- 
dore, and the thirsty thief on his horse beckoned for a 
draught of the excellent, limpid water. 

The riders tarried not, but pushed on in the blank 
glare of the white mud walls, and anon drew up before 
a squalid abode. The low, thatched roof of the fonda 


darkened the doorway, which gave poor promise of 
cheer within. Straightway the two approached the 
tcndejohn and there quaffed a dram of pulque, handed 
down from the tawdry ornaments of a dusty shelf. 
Soon thereafter they separated, having arranged for 
another meeting. Cartwright, after a meal, found a 
hammock under the eaves outside, and fell asleep 
amonjr the buzzing <rnats. 

i^ O </ 

In the dusk, as he shook himself out of his stupor 
and sat down on the door-step, a tall savage strode by. 
The boss knew the Indian s tribe by the long bone bow 
he carried. There was just light enough to see in the 
look askant of the swarthy face, a cruel sternness, 
hard as a statue s visage. The rude dignity of the 
chief s walk was heightened by the fall of a trailing 
blanket, lending grace to his form and carriage. Cart- 
wright noted him well ; noted also that every passer 
by stepped out of his path with a shudder or a curse, 
and children ran crying, as from the presence of a 
ghost. They said, with bated breath, that a tyrant, in 
alliance with these Indians, ruled them ; swayed them 
through their fears of raids, pillage and slaughter, not 
uncommon ; and that this tribe was the police of the 

The nightly revel had begun, and while the thief 
danced with a bearish joy among the crowd that 
thronged the banquette of the tavern, he caught the eye 
of Cruz ; he joined his associate and followed him. 
As he passed out an old trapper nudged a companion : 

"Did you see that land pirate?" 

142 SNAP. 

"Whar, Jack?" 

" Him as jes went out ; that buffler-headed rough 
that war giving us a bar dance." 

" Him, yes ; he cavorted round like a hobbled 

"Spot him, chum; he s a thief ; the biggest on the 

Through dark lanes on the skirt of the town, to a 
tumble-down adobe, Cruz and Oartwright, sneaking 
like hungry cayotes, found awaiting them in the d;irk- 
ness, the savage who strode by in the twilight. They 
had met to chaffer over the price of blood with a full 
flask and clinking gold, and out of the glare of one 
depravity, the pirate seemed to have found another, 
and more congenial vice. 

Ferati had once been a celebrated matador, but his 
fall was that of Lucifer, so he thought, from the idol 
of Mexico s capital to an outcast, as he was wont to 
style himself, in deep chagrin that soured his temper. 
Not one of the untamed, lion-like bulls, tormented, 
unfed, infuriated to overcome his prowess, had for 
years daunted his courage nor escaped his skill. Each 
had been as a plaything to his two-edged rapier and 
his blood-red banner. With what a dilettante grace 
his proud form moved about the arena, such was his 
style in deploring his loss, as with the bow of a 
courtier he waved aside all other competitors for the 
honors of the fight, and drove his steel to the hilt. 

"Bravo Ferati ; bravissima ! " cried all. And so it 
came about, that the mob held him in high esteem, 


while senoras and senoritas clapped their hands as he 
entered the ring, or wreathed his brow when he left 

It was a gala day when he met his fate ; a high 
festival drew the beauty and the chivalry, the dignita 
ries of church and state, the populace to the amphi 
theatre. The grandees were in genial humor, the 
people happy, and the scene within the circular pen, 
where he stood victor over the slain and mangled 
bodies of a dozen bulls, turned the head of the vain, 
though skilful fellow, and raised him to glory s 
heights. The flaunting handkerchief, the flying bou 
quet, the wave of the silken scarf, shouts of men, 
cries of children, the squeaking voices of the old, 
manifested a greedy delight in the cruel and flagitious 

The scene had become commonplace by his repeated 
triumphs, when the trumpets heralded the coming on 
of the last surviving beast. Foaming with rage, 
crazed by the smell of blood and the torturing missiles 
flung into his corral, in leaped, with a deer-like bound, 
a shining-coated, coal-black bull. His horns were 
sharp as spear-points, his roar like an uncaged lion. 
Pawing the earth, his reddened eyes gleamed, and the 
thick, white foam covered the breast and flanks. 

"Hi, hi, tauro ; beautiful bull; at them, beauty!" 
cried the mob, rising to cheer. 

And there was method in the animal s madness 
which left little to doubt ; it was the majesty of frenzy ; 
there was no need of spurs to goad him on, he leaped 

144 SNAP. 

viciously to the assault. Ferati was unhorsed in the 
first charge ; nothing could divert the onset, for the 
bull attacked with fell intent; neither flags, explod- 
ents, spear-thrusts nor the needle-pointed barbs, could 
turn aside the straight, full-forced drive of the 
horns into the vitals of the matador s horse. Gored 
again and again, the horse fell and expired, ripped 
open, despite the dexterous handling of the rider. 
The champion was now afoot, his courage a little 
shaken, but still he saluted with his sword upraised, 
as the bull, throwing the earth in fury, made ready. 
There was one chance, one only, and the man s best. 
With a spring, he planted his foot between the horns, 
leaped astride the back, and essayed to drive his sword 
behind the shoulder. But the bull with a quick dash 
hurled -him to the ground, and tossed him aloft amid 
the taunts and jeers of the crowd. The ring had been 
cleared of attendants, several wounded and one slain 
outright, and there was little help for the bull-tighter, 
as he struck the earth, and was again hurled high. 

But now a sudden sight caused a tremor and a cry of 
alarm in the brutish multitude. 

"Out, out, little one; death to the child; back, 
baby ; go quick ; in the love of God, go back ! " 

The clamor came in an instant of terror on seeing a 
young, gay girl, dressed like a danseuse, her red scarf 
floating from the waist, scale the barrier and descend 
into the arena. The bull glanced angrily at the nymph, 
and turned furiously, to charge so bold a challenger. 
But the nimble-footed sprite, with supreme courage, 


held her way across the ring, and then with a spring, 
catching a hand-hold on the logs of the inclosure, drew 
herself up to its rim. Sitting there, she kept the roar 
ing savage at bay. It was this diversion that saved 
the bull-fighter s life. His body was rescued, while it 
lasted, and having recovered from his wounds, he mar 
ried the girl, and hid his defeat and shame in the life 
of a cattle-raiser. 

Beck s acquaintance with the Mexican had been of 
long duration. Once, when a sergeant of dragoons at 
a fort near by, he was sent out with a squad to recon 
noitre. He came upon Ferati fighting hard with a 
band of redskins who had stolen his cattle. Beck 
drove back the thieves, rescued the man s stock, and 
his friendship had been warm and sincere. He knew 
nothing of him further than his favors, his gratitude, 
and those natural, passionate extremes common to his 

To the overtures of Cartwright, the Indian moodily 
by signs made answer. He asked a large sum in 
money and an equal share in spoils as the condition 
upon which he would agree to plunder the trader s 
train. It was useless for the plotters to speak of an 
easy victory and a rich reward, the chief yielded noth 
ing. So the rogues parted to meet again, the night 
following, at the same place. Cruz and Cartwright, 
the next morning, were puzzled to devise means with 
which to bribe the savage. Before evening, the land 
lord was pressed into service and soon became as zeal- 

146 SNAP. 

ous as any one of the cabal, enlarged by other free 
hooters from the gang. 

As the day wore on, and as they drank and smoked, 
Ferati entered the place alone. He had not been idle ; 
after his arrival in town he sent his wife to the fandan 
go, while he in the interim of a day had visited many 
haunts and acquaintances, gathered up what gossip he 
could concerning the pirate-packers, and had formed a 
very shrewd opinion from his own knowledge of their 
leader, Cruz. What remained for him to find out, he 
trusted to his wits and the keener scent of Manuela. 

He was at once noticed as he entered ; very much 
taller than the average Mexican, his fanciful dress 
seemed to harden the stone-cold sneer on his lips, and 
the mouth, shaded by an iron-gray moustache, clipped 
close, gave to the lean nose the outline of a hawk s bill. 
The eyes, set deeply in the sunken cheeks, sparkled 
like a serpent s. On his head, bound up in a striped 
bandanna, rested the glazed sombrero ; the calzoneros 
were velvet, tight-tilting and slashed, below a red, 
armless jacket, contrasting oddly with the calico shirt 
beneath. The waist was bound in a rich, silken scarf, 
above which was seen a stiletto and pistol. 

Whenever the chance offered, the man played monte 
desperately, as he never permitted a challenge to pass 
at his table. Always ready to break a bank, or to have 
his own broken, in the parlance of the craft, he was 
never content with a slow pursuit of his calling ; when 
flushed by success he was a profligate ; when penniless 
he was morose and dangerous. 


The landlord whispered to his confederates that the 
new comer had a fund to be won, and Cartwright took 
the hint ; he saw that under certain conditions this was 
his opportunity, and he quickly resolved to "tap the 
bank " of the dealer that night ; a term understood to 
mean that he would challenge the monte player for the 
amount upon his table, on the turn of a card. It was 
further agreed that the landlord should manage the 
crowning shame. Cruz having so worked upon his 
fears of an Indian raid, and duped him by the show of 
profits, he pledged himself to manipulate a pack of 
cards so as to make Cartwright s winning sure. 

The lights were ablaze on the rough, white walls, 
throwing off an ill savor to mix with the smell of gar 
lic, the fumes of tobacco and wine, when Manuela came 
in and crossed the floor to the card-player. He whis 
pered and she turned away with a serious look, to stroll 
about the apartment. 

The street cries without were growing louder as the 
night came on, and from the plaza beyond, the jargon 
of the hucksters was heard in full chorus. A crowd, 
increased from every house, filled the streets, and 
young women of almost every hue flocked to the dens 
near by. The music struck up in the fonda ; its first 
notes reached the ears of the idlers outside, when the 
tide turned into the room. It was a motley crowd at 
the height of the revel; mountain-men, trappers, 
scouts, guides, deserters, negroes, hunters, traders, 
teamsters, packers, gamblers and land pirates ; seno- 
ritas, in their trappings of faded velvets and flaunting 

148 SNAP. 

ribbons ; the glazed leather and bell-buttons of the men 
in accord with the gay jackets and satin slippers of the 
women ; nor was the American s garb out of harmony. 
His voice was not a note lower than the prevailing di s - 
cord, from the strumming of the mandolin and the 
shuffle of the feet on the hard, clay floor. 

In a corner sat a penny-pitcher; the lean wretch 
begged like a mendicant. 

"In the name of Saint Peter," he cried, "plank 
down, plank down ; if I lose this bet it ll put me in my 
cold, cold grave." 

Now Ferati took up a guitar, and suddenly his 
young wife bounded into the center of the room. 
Flashing, fluttering, circling, bounding like a fawn, 
skimming like an albatross settling to its ease on the 
crest of a white wild wave ; springing, like the flight 
of the bird, the dark eyes opening and closing on her 
burning cheeks, she whirled in a delirium of triumph 
over the fleetest foot of her sex. She skipped aside 
and disappeared, as the mountain-men threw coin at 
her feet. 

The dance ended, the gambler seated himself at a 
table, spread out his cards, placing his gold and silver 
near him ; then he composedly drew his weapons and 
made them a part of the display. 

Cartwright at once challenged him, and as the crowd 
grew close about them, he said politely : 

" Bueno." 

"Wayno," repeated Bill; "give us a new pack of 


"As the senor chooses," replied the player; the 
lowest Spaniard tries to be affable. 

The new pack was brought by the landlord ; Cruz 
eyed him closely. Cartwright-won the toss and drew 
the cards ; he drew them steadily card after card. 
The one he wagered on came first ; he held it up be 
fore the dealer, who, with blanched cheeks, said : 

" Bueno, scfior." 

The winner swept the pile from the table, lighted 
his cigar, and left the room. He was followed by his 

The clanseuse stood in the dark shadow of the house 
listening to every word that passed between the thief 
and his pal, Cruz, and as they rode away to the ren 
dezvous with the Indian, she hastened to her partner; 
he listened, and in sullen humor gathered up his cards, 
and replaced his weapons. 

Soon thereafter a furious row began, provoked by 
the woman, and as the melee became general, the 
lights were put out suddenly. In the gloom gliding 
about, stepping like a cat, guided by a faint shimmer 
from the street, the maddened player ceaselessly sought 
one face which his hate had drawn in lines of fire. 
The riot spent itself, the house was deserted, and the 
gambler, with his wife, disappeared in the crowd. 

In the small hours of the morning Ferati returned 
to his domicile. Beck was aroused, and to his hasty 
questions the Mexican answered promptly, bidding 
him speed back to the post ; that Cartwright had con 
spired with the Indians to attack his train at a certain 

150 SNAP. 

point, and to start out before these plans could be 
carried out. 

Beck nerved himself to spring back into the saddle ; 
he must outstrip the gang, reach the post, get some 
rest for his over-wrought frame, and a fair start with 
his train before the pirates could mature the plot. 

He gave over his faithful bay to the Mexican, taking 
in exchange a strong horse which the grazer thought 
surpassed in mettle all others of his kind in existence. 
Beck awaited the break of day, then mounted. 

He parted with his host, shaking hands ; little he 
knew that the coin he had placed therein had pensioned 
a heartless savage to seek his life ; that the same hand 
had driven a poignard through the heart of another, 
and that the sweet and peaceful light of the dawn, now 
falling on horse and rider as they sped away, fell alike 
over the pallid corpse of the landlord on the red-clay 
floor of the fonda. 



BECK, on his departure from the post, had said in 
his off-hand way, that he was going to watch the 
pirate, and the trader was led to believe that this 
meant the movements of the gang at the crib or their 
trail thence, when he would return. He supplied 
Beck with funds to meet any need in seeking infor 
mation, but he was fkr from knowing the dauntless 
errand on which his guide had resolved. The scout s 
natural reticence, and as a habit of his calling, kept 
his mouth closed as to the particulars of his mission. 
His insight into the ways of such an evil-designing 
rogue as Cartwright, drew him instinctively to the 
distant nest of the vipers. He trusted his own shrewd 
ness best, feared to disclose his plan, lest they might 
be over- ruled, and relied upon his physical strength as 
equal to any trial. 

He had been away already over six weeks, and dur 
ing this lapse of time, the season had advanced into 
the sun-bright days late in June. The shimmering 
expanse, lying far to the west beyond the post, seemed 
to vibrate in the heat of noon. There were no cool 
spots about the camp ; but at the house, a milder ray 

152 SNAP. 

fell through the morning-glories on Mary, as she sat 
at her knitting. 


"I can t make it out, what keeps John so long," her 
father said as he stepped on to the porch, from the 
rear door. 

"It seems a long, long time," Mary replied, mus 
ingly; but then, with a ready cheer, she added: "I 
always trust Mister John, father; he ll come." 

The trader walked away, and his steps led him 
straightly to the office-door. lie entered and hastily 
snatched up his glass as he mounted to the outlook. 
His range on the horizon swept slowly the vast circuit, 
all deeply blue, but not a line on the curtained space 
resembled the familiar form of his scout. He drew 
back and got down from the ladder, much troubled in 
spirit, for next to his love for his daughter, his friend 
ship for Beck was almost as ardent a passion. 

Where was Beck ? The question the trader asked 
himself many times, repeating it to Mary. Where 
was he ? 

The scout had ridden away from Feratrs ranche a 
fortnight before, and had taken a trail to bring him 
out on a wel^-known highway, more frequently tra 
versed than any other of the many routes across the 
plains. He bestrode the grazer s horse, a young, fresh, 
strong gelding, of Mexican habits, which Beck was 
not sure he could trust. Trained to the use of the 
lasso, his mount was tractable, bridlewise and kind; 
he grazed at the picket-rope without fretting, and 
thrived 011 short commons better than his stallion. In 


build, the horse was high and well-knit ; his stride 
was wide and easy; his natural gait, a lope. The 
head betokened poor blood ; there was not a sign of 
the thoroughbred about him, but every movement was 
that of thorough training. Beck did not know his^ 
speed, and this stood first in what he would require of 
his mount ; nor did he care to test it lest he might 
regret the tax upon his strength. 

The same routine of lonely camps, the same daily 
ride and rest, the gallop in the dawn, the halt in the 
twilight, the sleep under the stars at night in the aw 
ful silence. The journey repeated was wearing the 
man down ; his form was bent, overstrained, and he 
sat his saddle clumsily. In this plight, as a train 
passed he bargained with the whips to take him up, 
and he stretched himself, at full length, in one of the 
covered wagons. The respite from the horseback jar 
was most delightful, and for days he enjoyed it. His 
beast was led ; for both, it was rest ; the horse was 
lightened of his load, and man s heart lightened by the 
voices of his fellows. But the drag soon grew to be 
irksome to one whose bent was to cover distance with 
all dispatch, whose purpose was to reach a goal within 
a given time. So, in the first flush of another day, 
Beck put spurs to his horse and was soon careering 
beyond the sight of the teamsters. He sped on in a 
gallop, and now, to test the courage and dash of the 
Mexican, he spurred deep, raising his voice to a shout, 
and slackened the rein. The horse leaped, nearly un 
seating the rider, threw back his ears, and spun like a 

154 SNAP. 

top along the road. Beck was delighted ; he had stir 
red the latent vigor of a prairie-born iryer. The scout 
felt now that no fatigue could break down the startlin^ 

D O 

nerve of one of those strange, half-wild, iron-bound 
breed of horses. The bounding dash waked the man 
also, when suddenly a foe sprang from the earth be 
fore him. He had neared a thicket-grown rise in the 
land, and was about to draw up, when a band of In 
dian horsemen, their bow-strung arrows drawn, chal 
lenged his advance. 

On sight, Beck dropped his rein, seized his pistols, 
raised both hands, and with a yell, tired. 

The freed horse turned sharp at an angle, with every 
fibre strung, every nerve and sinew strained, and with 
wondrous power cleared the opposing line, and swept 
by it. On came the savages, goading their ponies ; 
on sped Beck and his Mexican ; he turned in his sad 
dle and bent his rifle on the foremost Indian. The 
ball fell short, and the arrows aimed at him were out 
of reach and harmless. He seized the bridle : 

"Now, Bones, go it," and, guiding his horse, struck 
out for a canyon. Hidden away in a cavern of one of 
these deep-cut gorges, which he had reached out of 
sight of the foe, there he hid himself and his horse 
until the dark would shield him. 

The wait and watch at the camp for the absent scout 
had lengthened to a weary, feeble hope. The trader s 
suspense had grown to be a consuming fear that his 
friend was a victim of Cartwright s malice. Every 


hour added to the old man s doubts, and early and late 
he was seen with his glass leveled in the outlook. 

Mary was a silent watcher. Often with shaded eyes 
she stood in the path to gaze steadily and long, out on 
the burnished prairie. She would turn away, her face 
sadder than before, but not to betray her thoughts she 
cheered her father when they met. 

The Doctor never doubted the coming of Beck in 
his own good time, but many of the men had given 
him up as lost. 

It was a calm summer night, in the later hours, as the 
guard paced his rounds, when suddenly the tall, gaunt 
form of a wayfarer, leading a lank, raw-boned horse, 
appeared before him. 

" Who comes thar? " cried the sentry. 

w It s me, John Beck ; what s left of me ; " and the 
man, reeling in his steps, gave his mount in charge of 
the guard, and found his way into the house. 

Soon, within the dwelling, the lamps were lighted 
and the sideboard door was opened. There were 
cheerful voices heard and the smacking of lips ; the 
Doctor s loud salutation, the trader s greeting, Lu s 
laugh, Whack s banter, and Mary s gleeful tones were 
heard. But all stood amazed at the man s changed 
features and attire. His beard and hair were long and 
matted, the face bronzed to a coppery hue, his form 
lean and worn ; the shoes and leggins were whipped 
to tatters by the speary grass ; his clothes were ragged. 
He looked up from the meal before him, and with a 
reassuring smile, he said : 


"Never mind, Peter; I made my pint." 

"I ll bet you did, John, certin ; " he answered. 

Very little else than these few words escaped the 
lips of Beck, but Cheviteau felt that in time he would 
know the whole story. 

The tired giant s return to strength was easy ; he 
hid away in shaded nooks and slept ; he ate heartily 
with his old-fashioned gusto. The morning saw him 
bathing in the stream ; at noon, outstretched from the 
heat ; and night, with its gracious help, built up the 
strong man to himself. 

One day, lying under a grove-tree not far from the 
rear porch, Mary sought him out. With his blouse 
for a pillow, he slept healthily, and she stood near him 
watching his restful repose. Womanlike, she broke a 
few broad leaves from the weeds near by, and fanned 
the face of the sleeper. 

Suddenly his eyes opened wide and staring. 

"Well Mary," he said, springing up. 

" I thought the flies would vex you, Mister John," 
she replied ; then laughing in her old, round, joyous 
way, " and I found your scalp was whole." 

"Is it?" he spoke in a confused way, as if in doubt. 
"Well, now I ve had my stretch, and feel all right; 
whar s your father?" 

" In the office, I reckon." 

He took her hand in his, and they walked back to 
the porch ; there Whack met them, and Beck said : 

" Come boy, I want you ; thars bisnis on hand." 


Together the two went on to the office, where they 
found the trader. 

* * Any orders from Washington, Peter ? " asked Beck, 
as the three ^yere seated- at the office table. 

"Yes, they re pushing me hard, John; an hyar, 
they ve sont me an order for an escort ; but it s no 
yuse, the troop s too far off." 

"Are the wagons ready, Whack?" 

"Yes, scout; all in good rumiin order; the stock s 
fed up for a long pull." 

" Can we camp on the prairie to-morrow night, 

" Certin ; I ken load up by noon." 

"Mus have an extra man for each team;" he laid 
down his demands bluntly. 

" What fer ? " the trader asked, in surprise. 

" Jes this : Bill Cartwright s on the road, at the head 
of a band of pirates." 

"That s bad." 

" Bad enough ; but wus still, the Spiders ar with 

" Ken you pull through ? " 

" Give me that order ; put me on the trail to-morrow ; 
I ll fight through, if I send back my bones." Beck s 
hand fell heavily ; he spoke not in boast, for he had 
measured the danger, but his words were direct and 
well understood. 

"An you," said the trader, turning to the young, 
fan-mettled boy by his side, "will you go? JS T o man 
is edlcated till he s fought his way cross the plains." 

158 SNAP. 

" Go ! " he answered promptly, " anywhai with John 
Beck in the lead, don t you know me? " 

"That suits," answered the old man, rising ; "go 
now, rouse up the camp." 

At the corral Beck called the teamsters around him 
and chose from the best his guards and whips. 

"Be spry, Legs," he said, "bring in the cattle ; I ll 
sort a lead team." As the boy ran off, he turned to 
Whack, saying : 

" Show the men you re training when the team s 

" Sort em right ; I ll fetch em round." 

It was a simple plan agreed upon to put the drivers 
at ease, for such are always jealous of the knowledge 
of others placed over them. 

The six } T okes stood well to the wagon, and as Beck 
stepped aside, he found a crowd looking on. 

" Thar s a team put up as it oughter be," he said, 
"look at the leaders ; jeslike prancin ponies, an they re 
graded, heft an size, down to the vetran at the wheel. 
Thar s a blaze-face an liver-spots for you, boys; he s 
built like a steamboat, hoofs out like a regler, the eye 
like a Kaintuc gal s. That team will get down to work 
without coaxin ; heah, Whack, see how they tend to 

Whack took up his whip, and standing a few feet 
from the wheel-ox, he whirled the lash to guide the 
turn, in a brisk trot. Touching the nose of the vete 
ran, he steadied the movement and brought the team 
round to the starting place cleverly. 


"How ll that do?" he asked of the crowd, as the 
yokes stood still ; " you can measure, and see if the 
wagon won t stand in the circle." The men cheered 

"Mary," said her father, at the rear porch, where 
the old lady amused the girls ; " breakfast at five, 

Mrs. Garrulson made all the reply needed : 

"May I never! an I hyar vvese gwyne at last, 

happy land ! You shall have yer breakfast, kernel, 

if I have to cook it misself. See heah though ; plenty 
room for that fedder bed, don t disremember that." 

"All right, mam ;" he passed on to the office. 

Lu and Mary were in the dining-room. 

" May I come in ? " asked Beck at the window. 

"Yes, but through the door, of course." 

"He won t leap in, Lu, he s not a jumper," said 
Mary, teasing her friend. 

" I mus see to my traps," said Beck, and after a look 
at his rifle, he placed it in the corner. 

"What s the flurry, Mister Beck?" 

"Oh, nothing, Mary; we ought to be on the road, 
long ago ; " as he left the room, she followed him. 

" Now, tell me," she questioned again as they stood 
in the hall, "what about the trip?" 

" We re ordered out, and I am making ready, that s 

"Yes, I know," she said slowly, " making ready with 
the rifle." 

"We can t trade without it ; how can we?" 

160 SNAP. 

"But what is it?" 

" Don t be troubled, Mary, you re safe enough." 

Handing him a book, a pocket companion, which 
she had often pressed upon him, she turned back with 
a serious, unhappy look, and left him standing there, 
as one in doubt and troubled. 

At daylight the teams drew up before the wide, 
open doors of the storehouses, and stood ready to be 

Breakfast was over ; Lu and the scout met on the 
porch, and she said in her playful, smiling love of 
fun : 

" Leave a lock of hair, won t you ? " 

"How can I? thar s none left." 

"It looks like it was sand-papered." 

"That s a way I have to fool an Injin ; they can t 
get a han-holt to scalp by." Beck, in trim, had his 
hair clipped again. 

"Oh, the brutes; but you ll leave Kitty for me; 
won t you, Mister Beck?" 

"If Peter says so." 

" Let s go and see him ; I ll coax the best I can." 

They entered upon a busy scene ; the cargoes had 
been chosen from slips made up, and Whack and 
Jumper called off to the hands, as the wagons were 
packed. Lu managed well, for Beck needed a strong, 
heavy horse. 

By noon the train was drawn out in line, loaded. 
Beck made ready for the start ; he looked to the rnedi- 


cine chests, the cooking kits, and stationed his men, 
a driver and extra man to each team. 

" Now, Whack," he said, I ve fixed your traps, your 
hollerware and cutlery, whar s your pocket knife?" 

"All right, scout." 

"You can travel without boots, but not without 
that ; the roan s yours, I ll ride the sorrel." 

"Move on," called the trader. 

"Yes, sir." 

"Give the word, lad." 

Whack left the house, and in a loud voice gave the 
order : 


Up rose a hundred whips, and there was a sound like 
an enfilade of muskets ; sharp and clear was the snap 
with a ring that echoed on the dull, dead silence of 
the waste, making the heart glad with its promise, and 
the faces of the sturdy fellows to brighten. 

Beck sprang to his saddle and dashed off to the lead ; 
the mile-length caravan was in motion. 

Mrs. Garrulson, against the protest of Beck and the 
trader, parted from her friends, solemnly in silence, 
to make her journey to her " ole man" at a distant 
fort. As she bade adieu to Lu and Mary, she gave 
them a fold of writing, to be read when she was out 
of sight. Her bonnet was seen waving far off in the 
line, and her dismal lament came back to the ears 
of those who watched her. 

" Goocl-by, vain warld ! " 

As the lead team moved out upon the road, a half- 

162 SNAP. 

nude Indian runner stole from behind a tree, and like 
a deer bounded off on a trail ; the sunset lighted the 
path of a spy. As the darkness set in, the glimmer 
ing camp-fires were seen, on the blue horizon. 

At night, after the departure of the train, Lu thought 
of the old woman s written scrap, and calling Mary The 
two spent an hour at the sitting-room lamp over the 
scrawl ; at length, by dint of a vexed study, they read 
the ballad of: 


jon garrulson es a soger man, 
a soger man, es he, es he ; 
he fyts fer his knllers with his gun, 
jon garrulson, mi jon, dus he. 

he fyts the injuns onto the planes, 
he fyts the injuns, jon dus he, 
he gits a myt fer all his panes, 
but he fhyts em fer his konteree. 

mi soger man is out in a foart, 
wah evri soger ort fer to be; 
i tak my bed up fer a wark 
sterang konterees fer tu see, see, see. 

A woyce kauls me in pledin toans, 
go tin yer jewtee an be tru, 
mi bed shal res his akin boans, 
no nife ken kut our luv into. 

an wen he dys and ]yf is did, 
ile rap him in ther stars an strype, 
ile rite onto his koft en lid, 
Melindee wus his durlin vvyf. 

tak warnin all bi me an jon, 

yung gals an boys jes look at me, 

an vvip ycr i as yu jog on 

Sterang kunterees f e r to see, see, see. 


Here the screed might have ended, but through a 
score of verses it reached a climax in an adventure of 
John with an Indian : 

jon grabbed his bar atwyx bis ban, 
to grab his bar wur all he did, 
that injun squaked at my gucle man, 
fer he snachecl that injun bawlhedded. 

"And who in the world is her John?" screamed 

"Her husband, of course; he s a soldier, and the 
good old soul loves him, Lu," Mary said, trying to 
be a little grave as a curb to her friend s mirth. 

"Well, you may be good riders, good fighters, and 
all that ; but, if that s the way we write poetry out 
here " she threw down the paper as she ran off, 
singing : 

" An he snached that injun bawlhedded." 

164 SNAP. 



Cartwright, in company with Cruz, after leaving the 
fonda, sought out the Indian in the shadow of the adobe ; 
they found him in waiting. He was easily brought to 
terms by a sight of the gold the thief had won ; so the 
plot was formed to rob the train, to massacre the 
teamsters, and that the chief should return to his tribe 
to band together the most villainous for the deadly 
mission. The bonus was paid, a promise given of a 
good share of booty to each savage, and an ambuscade 
was agreed upon. 

As Ferati sneaked away with bloody hands from the 
melee, Cartwright closed his atrocious bargain with 
the chief. The pirates were about to return to the 
scene they had but the hour before quitted, when one 
of the gang, in haste and in fright from the tumult of 
the spree, by chance came upon them. The natural bent 
of his scare added much more to the account of it than 
really took place, and the knaves who listened changed 
their course, an incident that hastened their villainy 
many hours. 

"B wen," said Cruz, with a shrug and a motion to 
move on. 


" Wayno," answered Bill, as they turned to take up 
the packers. 

It- was past midnight when the jingling spurs were 
heard again on the road, ringing right merrily on the 
silvery silence and keeping time with the song the ras 
cals sang in chorus. Further on Cruz took up his 
train, to follow close upon their heels, so that when the 
animals he and Cartwright rode were fagged, they could 
change to muleback ; a slow dog-trot, but an untiring 

When Beck rode forth from Ferati s cabin, the 
thieves had set out with a good start ahead, on a 
route far away from Beck s, but nearly parallel, towards 
the post. The form of the scout was still in sight 
when Ferati and his gang sprang to horse ; like blood 
hounds they followed Cartwright. 

The pirates plodded on. In the shade, when they 
halted, they ate and drank, gambled, quarreled, drank 
again, and mounted. Bringing to the long jaunt the 
steady force and strength of the mule, they gained 

Not to follow them on the dreary journey, they rode 
on without break or accident, covering space with in 
credible speed. Beck had distanced them some days, 
as their halts were long and their cups were deep ; but 
theirs was a shorter route, and the scout had counted 
too trustingly on the time he had himself saved. 

The Mexicans and the semi-savage white, stimulated 
by strong drinks, never tired. Far out on the prairie 
they fell in with a hunting party of the tribe whose 

166 SNAP. 

lands verged on the trader s, and hired one as a spy. 
He was sent on to lie in wait near Cheviteau s, to 
watch every movement at the post, and when the train 
started to return with all speed to where they would 
bivouac on the plain. This ended their journey. 

It was while Beck was taking the few days of rest 
to recruit himself, believing he was so far ahead of the 
pirates that he could afford the necessity of the respite, 
and unconscious that Cartwright s shorter route and 
the ease with which he and his gang changed from a 
tired mount to a fresh one from the train, gave them 
great advantage in the race, that the Indian runner 
started for the post. 

Like a panting fox-chaser, he was hiding near Chevi- 
-teau s, when he heard the whip-snap of the caravan in 
motion. The camp-fires died out, when with winged 
feet, far beyond the train-guard, he fled back to the 
waiting pirates. 

The two trappers who eyed the " bar dance " of 
Cartwright at the fonda, stood near when he swept the 
coin from Ferati s table. 

"Bill," said the elder, "that war a clean steal." 

" I seed it, Jack, an thar ll be a fuss ; watch the 
Mexan, he s white about the gills an his eyes ar afire." 

"Come, go long;" Jack moved to leave the place 
and the other joined him. "That ar skunk es jus in 
from the road ; he s train-boss fer a rich trader an he s 
worfin a big game ; them mule drivers is thick bout 
him as flies ; well see whar he goes with that ar 


"I m along, ole boss ; you reckon high on me." 

They left the pulquerias, and keeping to the dark 
side of by-ways and lanes, they followed close upon 
Cartwright and Cruz. When the cut-throats met, be 
hind a ruin near by, they heard every word of the 

As the thieves stole off, Bill drew his pistol and 
was about to fire. Jack seized his arm, saying : 

" Hold on, old boy ; none of that ; you ll spile some 

"Tse itching to pull on him, Jack, plum center." 

" He ll fotch up, mind ; come hyar an sot down ; I se 
got a heap to tell about that cuss." Drawing forth his 
bladder wallet, the other knew what was coming. 

The story told by the old trapper was a long one ; 
amplified by many side-scenes, and spun out in his 
own peculiar drawl. It gave a part of his own his 
tory, the early life of Cartwright, referred to the crib, 
and a passing glance at what was known as the Regu 
lators, an earlier and ruder organization than that 
which in later years was known as the Vigilantes. 

A pretty girl, of hasty temper, was wooed by two 
suitors in one of the early settlements of the border. 
The one was a quiet, peaceful youth, named McQuain ; 
the other, a coarse, wild, reckless fellow, named Rob 
erts, whose manners and morals were corrupt. 

The maid Margaret, vain of these attentions, was 
well pleased enough to have become the wife of either. 

The death of Roberts father called him away, and 
during his absence McQuain urged his suit ; the girl s 

168 SNAP. 

friends favored it, and in a month she consented to 
marry him. 

An old man in the neighborhood held a commission 
as justice of the peace, although he had not acted as 
such, and McQuain was told, and told truly, that any 
official act of the officer was binding; that he had a 
right to exercise his functions until a successor was 
appointed. He was called in, and the girl became 
McQiwin s wife. 

The next day, Roberts returned to the settlement ; 
he spoke to no one about the marriage, but quietly 
sought out the bride. What he said to her no one 
knew ; it was told that she asked her husband "whether 
he was quite sure that their union was lejjal." 

Roberts brought with him from the east, news of 
the declaration of war with Great Britain ; also, the 
call of the Governor of the State for the quota of 
troops. A day or two after his return, when men 
everywhere were joining the army, he met McQimin 
in public and taunted him before a crowd. "You re 
tied to an apron string," he said, "and dare not en 
list." Maddened by the sting of this slur, J^c-Quaiii 
seized a pen and enrolled his name. Going home to 
tell his wife of his sudden resolve, she was silent and 
sullen when she heard it. To be deserted, when mar 
ried but a week, was little less than cruel, she thought 
and said ; she had little faith in the patriotism of which 
he boasted. 

Both men had enlisted, and before leaving the place, 
Roberts came to bid good-by to his former sweet- 


heart. It was known that they had a long, earnest, 
parting talk. 

After an absence of several months, McQuain came 
back, hastening with a rapt heart to his home. He 
found the door closed. There was not a sign of a 
living thing about it. No smoke was seen, as of old, 
curling out of the chimney ; there was no one there. 
Margaret s father met him with a shake of his head ; 
she had been gone more than a month, and none knew 
whither nor with whom. It was whispered that Rob 
erts had been seen, not far away; but it was a rumor 
only. The father invited McQuain to live with him, 
but the man turned away moodily on the path to his 
deserted cabin, where he was seen to enter. Coming 
out soon after, he threw his rifle over his shoulder, 
and without a word, walked away through the forest. 
In half an hour the dwelling was in flames ; in an hour 
it was a ruin, and McQuain had left the settlement. 

Years passed ; the war was over, and the country, 
not far below w r hat was now known as Cheviteau s, 
began to fill up. A small frontier hamlet was built 
there, but the treachery of the river suddenly ended 
its life and its annals. Cartwright had halted on the 
spot, in his flight with Mary. Among the first to set- 
tie there was Roberts, his w^ife and three children ; 
the wife was Margaret. Her marriage with McQuain 
was legal, but Roberts had persuaded her that it was 
not, and her wounded pride at the desertion, as she 
thought, of her husband, led her astray, which she 
bitterly repented. 

170 SNAP. 

Roberts had changed as much as his victim ; a score 
seemed to have been added to his age ; the cheeks 
were sunken, his figure spare and bent, his glance un 
steady and furtive. The evil traits of his diameter 
were seen in every action. During the years that had 
passed he changed his abode many times, frightened 
away by a fear that the avenger Avas on his track. 
For days his wife would lose sight of him ; his com 
panions were dissolute outlaws, and among them, none 
worse than Bill Cartwright. They gave way to drunk 
en excesses, and their intimacy was close. Money was 
plenty with them, which they spent in riotous living, 
and the settlers had for a long time watched them, and 
traced to their crib counterfeits, in notes and coin, 
which had been freely passed. 

The first step to crush this nest of blacklegs was to 
call a meeting. The people came together, they said, 
for " law and order," and one was named to state " the 
object of the meeting." " The chair " said : 

"My friends, it is time these rascals were punished ; 
it is our duty to punish them." Then and there was 
formed a band of Regulators, charged with the duty of 
w seeing the law administered." 


The day appointed to rid the place of the "pirates" 
arrived, and all were present save one ; he the leader. 
In this fix they were about to disperse to call another 
meeting, when their circle was entered by a stranger. 
He was known to a few as a hunter, who led a solitary 
life ; dressed in the garb of his craft, at his belt swung 


a long knife. He dropped the breech of his heavy 
rifle on the ground, to lean on the muzzle. 

f * If you want a captain," he said, through his thin, 
cold lips, looking wildly about him, "I m your man ; 
my name s McQuain/ 1 He turned away, but they 
called him back and took him at his word. 

At night they set out for the den of the outlaws. It 
was a log cabin far out in the wilds, from which a road 
ran to the landing, the road traveled by Cartwright 
to the crib, and the crib the self-same haunt from 
which Mary had been rescued. Roberts lived there 
with his family ; his wife the witness of all the crimes 
of the gang. 

McQuain and his party had now approached within 
fifty paces, and behind him, as he took the lead, slowly 
crept the Regulators. A broad light streamed through 
the cracks across the little clearing. He halted not an 
instant, but driving in the door with the butt of his 
gun, he stood before the startled crew. 

Roberts sprang to his feet, but the deadly aim ot 
McQuain covered him. 

"Your time has come," he said, and fired. His 
rival fell a corpse at the feet of the deluded woman. 
Seizing her, a scream rang out even to the further 
plain, as he threw oif his cap and turned his gaze 
straight into her eyes. 

"You re punished enough, go," he said; replacing 
his knife, he left in the darkness to follow the trail as 
a trapper.* 

* Condensed and adapted from a story called " The First Grave." 

172 SNAP. 

The fight was fought out furiously ; a savage strife, 
and only one of the desperate gang escaped. Bill 
Cartwright fled with a deep knife-wound slitting his 
cheek, which still marked his savage face from ear to 

The old man s story had run on far into the night ; 
long years had passed, leaving hftn roughened in 
speech and look. 

"I fetched him," he said, "an that ar cuss ain t 
forgot it ; I am the last of the Regulators." 

At dawn he was off on the road to the fort ; thence 
to the mountains. 

The slow drag of the long, winding train began with 
the dawn each day, and ended with the dusk. League 
after league was measured off step by step, to the 
creak of the wheels and the crack of the whip. Across 
the endless reach of distance, over the brown, .lonely 
plain, in the still white glare of fiery light, the sun 
burned men, the panting beasts, plodded on. 

"Whack, come up at a steady pull; I ve seen hoof- 
marks of bufflers, and I ll give the boys a treat for 

Beck read the road-signs as one would a book ; he 
never tired, and turning his horse s head, he rode away 
in the pace of a rider who had just begun a journey. 
The need of the moment he did straightly, without 
show, without knowing his own value, nor caring for 
thanks or praise. 

An extra man marched abreast of each wagon, with 
his gun shouldered, the drivers lagging near their oxen, 


their whips trailing, and the red dust stirred like 
waves at the prow of a boat. So the dreary, time 
serving moil wore on. 

Later in the day, Whack saw the scout far away, on 
a strip of green bottom near a creek. The bloom on 
its banks sent back its perfume to the hungry and tired 
toilers, and the cattle pricked their ears as they pulled 
to the summit of the rise. 

Beck had chosen the spot as a camp-ground for thfc 
night, and it was soon known that he had killed two 
cows. He gave orders, in his place again, wheeling 
the line to park the wagons in a semi-circle, each end 
of the train to rest upon the bluff sheer to the water 
below. This done, his camp was fortified, rear and 
front, against attack. There was fuel at hand in heaps, 
thrown up by freshets and ready for the match. 

The good, old dame was happily far more useful 
than officious ; the wear and worry of the road had 
tamed her speech, and while she felt a kind regard for 
the men s hunger, she would now and then sneer aloud 
in contempt of their cooking. 

The meat when brought in, was found to be young, 
fat and juicy. Beck was not slow to single out the 
tongues, the fleece, the hump-ribs, as the best part*. 
1L- lighted a brisk lire in a hole dug in the earth, and 
when it had burned down, he hung the tongues therein, 
and covered the opening with sod. Cutting a score of 
withes, he skewered a rib-chop, salted and peppered, 
to the taper end of each. Mrs. Garrulson looked on ; 
she was not willing to admit much, but was, at most, 
not churlish with her gifts. 

174 SNAP. 

"Ef yer gwyne to have a feast, I ll len a ban." 

Drawing out of the many folds of a white rag wrap, 
she brought to light a bit of sour dough ; this was the 
leaven of the large lump she was soon kneading; then 
she seized upon a square tin box, an inch or two in 
depth, which Beck used for his way-bills. She raised 
the folding lid and placed her loaves therein ; she 
tilted the box before the fire, sprinkling a few coals 
under the bottom. Beck laughed, for he saw at once 
the quick wit of her contrivance ; the bright inside of 
the top reflected the heat upon the rounded loaves, the 
coals beneath baked the bottom. 

He was fairly challenged to do his best ; he forced 
the pointed ends of his sprigs into the ground before 
the log-heap, and the rods bent over the coal-bed from 
the weight of the chops at the smaller end ; the men 
copied him, and broiled the tender hump-steaks in like 

When all was ready, the bake, as the old^voman 
said, "wus brown as a chesnut, an light as a fedder." 

Now the scout removed the cover from his roasted 
tid-bits, and the matron, outdone, yielded easily. 

" May I never," she said, " it smells like a cook- 
stove in pie-time." 

There was naught left for the wolves but the bones, 
when the supper ended. 

"I throw d a lash, Cappin," said Legs, speaking to 
Whack, "wen I war only ten, and got my recommea 
at fifteen." 

"How, Legs?" 


" Dis a way ; ray fader sont me out on to the pike a 
haulin stone, an I bed a one-eyed wheel-ox as cross as 
a briar-fence. Well, sumpin skeered the team, an that 
ar ox never stopped till he mired the wagon, hub- 
down, with a big load. It war in the fall an coolish 
like, so I didn t mind work with the whip ; but it war 
no yuse ; might as leave hev tickled a mountin. Now, 
Cappin, how would you a got that ar team out?" 

" What d you do, Legs ? " 

" The fodder was a stannin thick on the hill, and I 
jes went up to the top of it, on the blind side of that 
ar ox, an with a hoop an a yell, an these yer arms an 
legs a spread out, I cum d a boomin. It war breakin 
fodder like a sugar-mill ; it sounded like a harricane, 
an ef you ll bleeve it, Cappin, that ar ox pulled the 
whole load out hisself." 

Beck, in a group of teamsters, was asked by one : 

" Wat s the good of all these extra men ? " 

This broached a subject upon which he had kept 
quiet not to excite the fears of the men, nor to borrow 
a danger not yet in sight ; but as they seemed eager for 
an answer, he said : 

"Mebbe you ll wish thar were twice as many." 

"But we oughter know." 

"Jes three things, if you will know : Spiders, Cart- 
wright and fight ; that s the long and short of it, boys, 
and We ll pull through ef we have to pull over them." 

"Spiders?" was repeated by several. 

"Yes," said Beck, "the blood-hounds of the sou- 


r Them s the black-hearts uv the sage-bush," spoke 
up an old hand. 

"An I se heerd tell," said another, "they can scalp 
with the throw of a tomerhawk." 

"Wat of it," said a burly fellow, "we signed to take 
the risks, an we ll take em ; that s all." 

As the camp-fire, without the usual yarn, would have 
been a feast without viands, the older head who had 
spoken first, began the spinning. The pipes were 
puffed at high pressure, when the men, squatting like 
Arabs, drew round the speaker. 

"Well, yer see, boys, them ar Spiders es jes about 
the wus tau-skinned whelps in this yar univarse ; I se 
heerd tell about this yar chief we se a comin on to." 
"He s wicked, I knows; kase I se heerd as how he 
slayed a party uv emigrants, babes and all," said a 
chum to warm up the recital. 

Hold on, I se a comin to him ; an yer see this 
chief is a pooty lively sorter cuss ; thar s no white 
fodder in his top-knot by a long-chalk ; he s tall as a 
pine, squar built, an he wars in hes yeers two scelp- 
1 lifts fer yen-ings ; thar s a bald scar on the top of his 
head. Dus yerwanter ter know bout them yerrino-s?" 
"Let s have it," said a number; and the oldman 
stretched his limbs, reloaded his pipe, and went on 
with his yarn. 

" Well, they do say he s the .wus gambler nor any 
other black-heart in these yer sou-west tribes. The 
Spiders an the Bonebows play a game they calls 
Hand. " 


"Yes, I know how it s played," said one; "they 
puts up all they se got, down to moccasins, in two 
piles ; then wim shakes a plum or a cherry stone in the 
hands ; then he closes up the hands, an tother wuns 
guess whar the stone is." 

"Well, thesyar chief war out on the war-path by 
hisself, hungry to raise bar an ready for huggin, when 
he corned to a medicine spring; you all knows wat 
that ar ; ets free ground fer all, one Injin jes as good as 
tother as frens, all to onct et that. Hyar he met a 
Bonebow drinkin at the spring ; he made a peace- sign 
an then he drank too ; then they smoked their kinnic- 
kinnic an sot down to a game of Hand fer all night." 

"An they bed a lively ole time, I reckon," spoke up 
one who took a deep interest in wagers of any kind. 

"Jus so, ole boss, you mine me; thar war nothin 
else but a high ole time. Bonebow he won clean 
through ; arrer arter arrer, then tother AVUII S club, hes 
knife, hes bow, hes robe, an the Spider sot nakit on 
to the plain." 

" Cleaned out ; " chimed in the man of chance. 

" Sartin ; couldn t a bin cleaner ; but the Spider bed 
jus wuu more chence." 

"How s that? he war cleaned out you sed ; " spoke 
up Legs, to appear smart among his elders. 

" Don t throw yersef away, boy ; he bed a chence." 

" What chence ? " said a score taking the cue from 

"His scelp ; and he bet it too, boys." 

"Did he win?" was quickly asked. 


"No sir-ee ; he lost agin. He jus bent his head 
down, jus as if he war going to hev his har brushed, 
an the Bonebow he lifted it, jus as pooty, an it 
lef him bawlhedded." 

" What d he do ? " the story was growing warm and 
the men excited. 

"Well, the Spider war pluck all the time; grit 
to the last, an he made Bonebow promise to meet him 
agin at the same place." 

" Go on ; " said Legs in his boy-like, eager way. 

"True as preachin, pardners, they com d thar agin 
in anuder yeah, an sot down to gamble on the same 

"Which won?" queried an anxious listener. 

"Hold on ; go slow an shuah like a ox team. Well, 
Spider had the luck this time ; he made Bonebow come 
every time an sot him nakit on to the plain, an his 
scelp gone too ; but the Bonebow hed jus wuii more 

"An his scelp gone too? See heah, ole coon, let 
up ; " said the burly fellow, growing a little uneasy as 
to the truth of the narrative. 

"How s that? take keer, ole man ; " joined in others. 

"But he hed the chence, I tell yer, sartin." 

" Out with it, lets heah." 

"He had one chence, and boys that wus his life ; he 
played ginst the Spider, life for life ; they played, 
the Spider an the Bonebow did, an Bonebow lost. 
Hardest kind of luck, but it s true, boys, or I m a 
saint; an the Bonebow stood up, barred his brest like 


a man, an the Spider killed him, then an thar, right 
on the spot. Thet s why the Spider wars two scelps 
as yerrings, hissen an tother wun s." : 

w That ll do for an ole man," said one who had his 


" Thet s nuthin," continued the speaker, " why, boys, 
thet same Spider stood up in a Sun-dance ,- an yer 
know what thet is, wen they se cut the flesh in strips, 
ail so on, an let em drov a knife froo his breast 


" An he lived arter that ? " 

" Lived ! why he jus warked with et a stickin thar 
fer yeahs." 

"How d he git it out?" 

Ho w d he git it out?" answered the story-teller in 
amaze ; his yarn had run out too long and was tang 
ling ;. " how d he git it out? " 

"Yes, how d lie git it out?" said several, seeing 
him flounder; "let s heah, all bout it." 

" Don t pester yersefs ; he got it out, sartin ; " the old 
man was cornered. 

"Let s heah, now." 

" Well, he jus let it work itssef out ; in course, what 
else." The laugh went round, in which Beck joiued 
louder than the rest. 

" That ll do, ole man ; " they all said. 

" I don t keer a darn, ef he s got wun yerring or two ; 
ef he crosses our path, boys, we ll make his yer wring, 

* This incident is gleaned from Ruxton s " Far West ;" rendered by the 
writer into the vernacular of the camp. 

180 SNAP. 

fer shuah ; " said the burly fellow, shaking the ashes 

from his pipe. 

" An that s the right talk ; I ll see you through." 
Beck left the crowd, which in small parties soon 

agreed upon the peril to come ; they measured it in 

their own fearless way, nor was courage needed to 

meet and defy it. 

From some truant thought of home, some influence 

of the day-like night, perhaps, Mrs. Garrulson s shrill 

nasal voice burst in upon the slumber of the camp : 

" An my soul it mounted hiah 
In a charyet uv flah, 
An the moon, it war under my feet." 

This she kept up until called to order. 

But the peace that came again was short-lived ; a 
quick, sharp bark was heard, then again, an echo of 
the first, then a third and fourth falsetto in the chorus 
of cayotes, and when Beck relieved Whack, on guard, 
the discord grew louder. 





The fleet-footed spy held his pace, with his head up 
and his arms at rest on his sides. His strides were 
regular and direct. One foot struck the earth flatly, 
raising the body w r ith ease, caught it well poised on 
the other foot, and completed a perfect motion. He 
ran steadily, and when the stars came out his race had 
been long, but he kept to it without fagging. Through 
briar and brush, leaping brooks, wading creeks, out on 
the glistening tables, down into the bottoms where the 
grass waved about his waist, he still held his head erect 
and his arms at ease. A lone tree marked his first 
goal, and on reaching it he stopped short. Throwing 
his arms about, he drew a long, healthful breath, 
dropped to the earth to respite his frame, then sprang 
to his feet. To feel that no limb had stiffened he put 
them into play, cast a pebble or two into his mouth, 
and again sped away. He ran on in easy stages, and 
when the last flat-footed stride was made, the lad stood 
upon a knoll, rising above a thicket in the hollow be 
low him. Here he listened long, his hands held as 
funnels about his ears to catch the remotest sound ; 
with a quick change one hand covered his mouth, like 

182 SNAP. 

a valve. Then a full-lunged shriek rent the hush of 
the night and searched the recesses of the silence. It 
was so sharp, so shrill a warning, so harsh to the soli 
tude, a wolf far away yelped in fright ; space caught it 
tip and wasted it round the hiding-place of the thieves. 
They sprang into the open glade and beckoned to the 
Indian : he joined them and gave the sign. The train 
was on the road. 

They paid the spy his price ; then, mounting, Cart- 
wright with a coarse laugh said : 

" Vamo the Spiders ! " 

"B wen," answered the Mexican, giggling; the run 
ner folding his arms, looked after the riders, and with 
a grunt sat down. He drew from a beaded pocket a 
piece of dried beef, ate it, lighted a fire, and stretch 
ing himself by "the wolf-scariug fagots," he was soon 

It was while Beck sat at the camp-fire chat that the 
spy signed to Cartwright and Cruz that the train was 
on the road, and had made good progress towards its 

A sudden cry of alarm aroused the camp at day 
light : 

"Injins! Injins ! " shouted the cattle-guard. The 
stock was driven into the inclosure, the broken wagon- 
line closed, and the men stood armed, each with his 
rifle or musket, and waiting : 

"Steady where you stand; quiet," ordered their 
leader, ,takk\g up his gun ; " it s a hunting band, 
that s all." 


Mrs. Garrulson awaked suddenly from her morning 
nap, frightened at the horrors of a night-mare. 

" Happy Canaan," she screamed, "what s up?" 

"The Injins are down on us," answered Sandy. 

" Injins ! " and she scrambled from her perch ; " may 
I never ; ets all rny own doins, fer the kurnel did say 
stay, thet s a tac, an go I would " after a short pause, 
"an go I will ef I hev to lick a whole tribe misself." A 
loud laugh greeted this sudden change of front from a 
scare to valor, but the men held to their places, look 
ing out on the distance. 

Coming up the valley in a hard gallop, the troop of 
Indian horsemen drew near. They rode at full speed, 
each rider sitting his horse with graceful ease ; when 
just beyond rifle-range they reined up and held coun 
sel. Their mounts were bare-backed ponies, fat and 
frolicsome, cousins-german to the wild horse, mustang, 
with scarcely a shade of difference. In the fitness of 
things, the little four-footed beast seems created for the 
Indian, and for nothing else ; unfit, as he is, for any 
thing else but the mount of the savage. In habit, 
form, endurance, he is as much a savage as the Indian, 
sharing with him all his vicissitudes. He lives through 
the dreary snow-bound winters on tree bark, a shaggy 
skeleton. The spring trims his coat and fills his belly. 
Take him away from his habits and his haunts, feast 
him on the better fare of better animals, he mopes 
lazily, a tricky, hateful, sullen cob ; he snaps at kind 
ness, and shows his heels to a benefactor. Each rider, 
nude to the waist, was a picked man for the chase. 

184 SNAP. 

The chief, with a wave of the hand, dispersed them, 
and then began a wild rout. The seat of each rider 
was held by a girdle, and the dash of each horse was 
guided by a single thong. On they rushed, helter- 
skelter, shrieking at every jump ; now, one would fall 
head down to yell under the animal ; again, at full 
length on his back or side ; now, the whole band 
charged en masse; on a signal, it was scattered. On 
another signal, a part wheeled and massed, and during 
the entire drill not a word was spoken by the chief; 
a scarcely perceptible motion of the hand directed it. 
A piece of looking-glass, as the day was sunny, held 
to catch the rays, threw the signal to any given dis 
tance. There are other signs by which the same 
drill is ordered, a secret closely kept, as no white 
mnn has ever found out the method, signs which are 
readily heeded, though the sky be black with clouds, 
the dust hide the baud, or the noise loud enough to 
drown a human voice. 

" That s a good show, boys, but thar ain t the sign of 
a scalp-knife or paint about em," said Beck. 

The chief sat on his horse apart, and with another 
motion formed the riders on parade near him. They 
had bows and quivers, and sheath-knives, a few rifles 
and spears. One, by his orders, rode midway between 
the two parties, struck a spear into the earth, and rode 

Beck, mounting a wagon, gun in. hand, said to his 
men : 

" Cock your guns and keep your eye on me ; I m 


going to meet em. Tf I sign with my right hand, 
blaze away ; I ll take care of number one." 

He raised his rifle above his head, then laid it at his 
feet ; signed that his belt was unarmed ; then leaping 
down, he strode up to the spear-staff, and stood there 
with folded arms. 

When Beck had taken his stand, the chief handed 
his bow to one near him, got down and joined the 
scout : 


" How ! " A hand-shake and the brief introduction, 
was over. 

" Good man -you Beck," said the Indian. 

"Big chief, Little Elk," answered the other, recog 
nizing a noted brave of one of the largest tribes on 
the plains. The scout was glad to meet him, as he 
was not only a friendly redskin, but one from whom 
much valuable information could be had. In the talk 
that followed, the scout learned that an officer had been 
sent out to a distant fort to take the Spiders in hand ; 
that they were on the war-path, and that he, Beck, 
could not, as he hoped, avoid or escape a fight ; fur 
ther, that he might reach the fort in time to deliver the 
order for an escort, and for such purpose he was kindly 
offered a guide. In return Beck made many presents, 
giving them in the name of Colonel Cheviteau. 

"Kevochoo! Kevochoo!" exclaimed the chief; 
"good man, him Kevochoo; him heapfren." Then 
ensued an expressive dumb show, for an Indian is 
nothing if not dramatic. He touched his breast with 

186 SNAP. 

his fist, meaning that Cheviteau s heart was big ; he 
stared wide and steadily, meaning the honesty of the 
trader; he closed his teeth, with reference to his 
friend s firmness ; and that he was truthful, he signed 
that the tongue was whole and not split. "Kevochoo, 
he good man; Injin heap like him, wagh." He 
turned aside and was silent. 

Presently, Little Elk transferred to the care of the 
scout an Indian lad and his pony. He was to be the 
guide, and would lead by a cut-off trail to the lodges 
of his people, and thence on to the fort. Now mount 
ing, the chief, with his band, galloped away on the 
hunt of the bison.* 

While Beck and the Indians smoked the ceremonial 
pipe, a teamster who looked on said to Sandy : 

"An wat wud they be afther?" 

"It s the pipe of peace thee s be doin." 

"Pfats t?" asked another. 

"A pace av a pipe they re whiffin," answered the 

"It s de ould sthock, av coorse." 

"Whack," said Beck, a short way further on, "I m 
off for the fort in the mornin." 

tf To be gone how long?" 

" Before you get into danger I ll be with you/ 

"All right. I ll pull slow." 

"This boy s a good un ; watch him." 

Whack glanced at the young redskin, as he moved 

* The writer adopts this in deference to the naturalist, but the 
name is never heard on the plains. 


about with his pony. He was tall, raw-boned and 
wiry; his shoulders broad, muscular; a good head, 
fine face, strong mouth. The coarse, jet hair, plaited, 
fell upon his copper skin with rich effect ; his step was 
bold and elastic. 

Meeting Mrs. Garrulson, who planted herself in 
dismay at the sight of the Indian, Beck said to her : 

"That s your adopted son, mam," pointing to the 

" What ! that ar sonnerver-gun ! " At which the 
men laughed, and the boy, quick to see that he was the 
butt of joke, muttered : 

" Ugh ! squaw ! " 

"Ef I had yer onct," she was prompt to say, "I d 
make yer squak wus nor that." 

"What would you do with him?" asked Whack. 

" Skin him ! " In disgust she turned about and went 
her way 

The scout and the guide, a little in advance of the 
train, had ridden to the crest of a knoll, when the lat 
ter, getting down from his pony, bent his gaze on cer 
tain distant objects. They seemed to the eye a clump 
of bushes, but when the scout fixed his sight upon 
them the lad said : 


Beck, in doubt, watched closely, and as he was able 
to see dark, moving forms, growing larger, coming 
nearer, he nodded assent to the Indian. 

A dozen stragglers, quietly feeding, were left behind 
by some passing herd. So thought Beck ; but the 

188 SNAP. 

guide signed to him to wait and they would soon see 
a stirring spectacle. The truants were now near 
enough to be seen in the rough sport of a mock battle ; 
the mimic strife was kept up for a time, when it sud 
denly ceased, and the combatants broke away in a run. 
In delight the kd threw himself on the ground ; then, 
springing to his feet, he exclaimed : 

"Heap!" holding up the lingers of both hands, to 
denote a great number. 

The antics of the Indian and the bison alike might 
have been confounding to the common eye, but to the 
scout they were not so. Dismounting, he caught the 
bit of his young, fractious horse with a firm hold. 
The fleeing animals, warned by the tramp of a herd 
not far off, turned out of its path with a quick, in 
stinctive dread, to fall in at the rear or on the flank. 
They had escaped certain death. On the run, not 
even for its own kind, is its mad career for an in 
stant turned aside ; and knowing this, the Indian 
read the sign aright, and had fallen to the earth to 

Then came to their ears the sound of a mighty 
tread ; vast numbers of the wild cattle were in motion ; 
as they looked, the herd dashed into full view, round 
ing a grove; its power and bulk combined, compressed, 
groaned from attrition ; its speed, increased from the 
moving weight, rose and fell, surging like a storm- 
crossed ocean swell, and black as the clouds above it. 
In the lead, a great, royal beast led the charge 
sternly, his shaggy mane rising like the hump of a 


camel ; his tail, like a baton, waved in the whirl of 
strife ; his deep-throated bellow, the rally-cry to his 
fellows. Right royally he led ; the mass upon his 
heels pressed him hard. The outer files seemed to 
bear against the body, compact but moveable, to con 
dense its vim. Therein lay the contrast with the 
flurried rout of a drove ; the one a solid charge, the 
other a panic ; one a stampede, the other an onslaught ; 
one, in motion like a host of veterans, the other a 
mob ; one illustrating Bull Run, the other the phalanx 
of Marshal Ney. Coming on, it was seen that the band 
of Little .Elk rode close upon the flank, yelling, goad 
ing and killing as they rode. The mustangs were 
fired with the ardor of the chase, and the riders 
shouted, as they sprung the quivering shaft into the 
living target. They strewed the broad road with the 
slain and wounded. 

"Hoop-ee!" yelled Beck, wrought up to the wild 
delight of his boyish nature. 

Arrows and spears were plied to spur their horses to 
the front ; the band used every artifice to reach the 
bull in the lead, and the rivalry grew to be intensely 
tragic. The speed of hunter and hunted was about 
equal. Now, with a cry of daring, a young savage 
came bounding by, and the guide was stirred to frenzy 
at the sight; running, leaping with a fierce joy, the 
better to observe him. On he came, goading his mus 
tang to a dash some distance beyond the herd. Then 
he wheeled, when his first arrow left the bow. The 
exploit was one to achieve the full glory of the chase, 

190 SNAP. 

by crossing the path, emptying his quiver into the 
herd and to reach the opposite flank, unharmed. 
Nothing but fine strategy could save him from death ; 
again taking a direct, again an oblique, gaining slowly 
by zigzag turns, the endurance of the horse was cruelly 
tried. Still the rider urged him on, and as the last 
arrow sped to its mark, he rallied him with a shriek 
so shrill the beast leaped from the ground. Wheeling, 
at last, to escape the rolling wave, all who looked on 
felt that his triumph was sure. 

Just then, rider and horse went down, and the surg 
ing, grinding herd stamped into the earth the stricken, 
forms, under their reeking hoofs. 

The horse s foot had sunk into the burrow of a 
prairie-dog, a mischance, from which there was no re 
call, at the supreme moment of the rider s fate. Beck 
for a moment closed his eyes, but the stoical boy, 
pointing to where the hunter and his mount perished, 
said calmly : 

" Brother me him ; " then turning his back was 

The scout, thrilled with manly pity, laid his broad, 
brotherly hand on the bare shoulder of the lad, and 
spoke with true feeling. 

"Good; good; him, big, big chief;" the boy 
smiled, it was enough for his pride ; the pity he did 
not care for. They mounted their horses, striking a 
trail leading north, riding hard on the road to fort. 

The black wave surged on ; it swept by like the 
charge of Balaklava, vaster, grander, a riderless 


horde ; like Niagara s current on the verge of the tall ; 
like the Mississippi s freshet, the scoria heaved up and 
flung to the torrent, it surged on and out of sight. 

There was not a sign of living verdure on the dark 
road ploughed by the raid ; the sod uprooted was 
strewn in fragments with the harrowed earth. Of the 
hunter and his ho.rse there was scarce a vestige to be 
found ; they had gone down to be ground out of all 
semblance to anything living or dead. 

The train halted as the chase came on, and even the 
mild-eyed cattle stared at the sight. The low, western 
sun threw back a crimson gleam on the long, silent 
line, on the startled faces of the men as they leaned 
on their whips. 

But the peaceful glow, lying still, on the green, 
golden vista, deepened the war-paint of a savage hiding 
near them ; it reddened the " blood-sign " on the 
Spider s face, and as he stole away, the bald, seared 
patch on his brow whitened in the fire of hate. 

The Spider chief had made a detour from the 
Mexican town, arriving at the lodges of his people 
after a long run, and voiced his corning by outcries 
that aroused the village. His was a bush tribe of the 


forest haunts which borrows its habits from the beast ; 
stealthy, slow-footed, creeping cravens ; sullen from 
the gloom of their abiding place, conjuring phantoms 
from the shadows and propitiating them by inhuman 
cruelties. Every man was robust, of needs must be, 
for no feeble-born could live through the horrors of 
a boyhood training. 

192 SNAP. 

Young men and old, women and children ran to the 
outer circle of the wigwams, and sent back an answer 
to the ear of their leader. 

His braves were chosen with regard to their vicious 
natures, with whom ferocity was a virtue and hate of 
the whites a fiery passion. Taking breath the chief 
called them around him, drove the rabble a\vny with 
frowns, and when the circle was formed, the women, 
children and dogs dispersed to the prairie. 

Then the swarthy crowd crouched, their limbs bent 
under them, and there never was known a viler horde 
in the work of death-dealing deviltry. There was a 
look on all, horror stricken, grinning ghastly in the 
paint and grime of their faces ; some stared fiendishly, 
the stare of demons ; other visages in the mask, 
lean, thin, cold, leered like the false face of a devil ; 
the younger, not less gross, spread their thick-lipped 
lecherous mouths. 

A low, guttural chant was begun, the distress 
wail of an animal, growing louder and wilder till 
each in his own discord joined in. 

The chief was in waiting not far off, and draining a 
flask which he threw away, he stepped into the circle. 
His tall form as it rose among them, striped and 
smirched, was that of a half-nude giant ready for 
battle. His parti-colored face, black and red, a yellow 
smear on the upper lip, green, tigerish lines on the 
forehead, a bald, carious scar from the brow to the 
scalp-tuft in which an eagle s feather stood stiffly up, 
and skeins of scalp-hair drooping from the ears, 


was a hideous picture. He spoke to his band, adroitly 
firing their malice, anger, greed ; he traced the path to 
revenge and plunder with savage pride, and without 
much effort was the master of their brutish instincts. 
He chose his men by lot, a small army, setting a day 
for the dance and the war-whoop. Then giving orders 
to await his return, he started forth in the darkness. 
His race, like that of the spy, through the night and day 
was the trot of a steady animal ; his eyes were feasted 
on the resting train, and he sped back to his camp as 
the pirate neared it. 

At the camp of the packers, Cruz was left in charge 
of the gang, and Cartwright hastened forward alone, to 
the Spiders town. The fires were seen long before 
his ears caught the din within its limits ; he kept on 
fearlessly until challenged by the chief in person, who 
led him into the blazing square. 

There was no stop to the dreadful orgy ; circling 
poles that bore as pennants the scalp locks of their 
victims, the mad mischief grew louder, wilder; a 
spectacle to be seen but once, and never forgotten ; an 
awful type of the horrible, of creatures writhing, their 
features all awry, twisting the form of manhood to 
every grimace, swaying the body to unshapely pos 
tures like the stricken or deformed ; crawling, leaping, 
bending, barking like dogs, snapping like wolves, 
hooting like owls, laughing, crying, yelling, groaning 
like the damned: 

" A strong adversary, an inhuman wretch. 
Incapable of pity, void and empty 
From every drachm of mercy." 


The pirate sat there ; his game went bravoly on ; ho 
saw the paint on their faces and naked breasts ; he 
saw the clutch upon the scalping-knives in mimic 
butchery ; he saw weapons of death at every turn of his 
eye, and the wretch looked on and smiled ; the sign of a 
nature lower than the brute the painted brutes before 

The chief waved his hand and there was silence ; he 
spoke of Cart wright and those who would join them on 
the march. At last, the war- whoop sounded, and from 
the throats of every living thing in the village, it was 
echoed back. From hidden nooks each savage brought 
to light a musket or rifle of army pattern, and laughed 
aloud as he caressed it. 

The chief and Cartwright led, the long, dark line 
trailing to the rear, the prairie brightening with the 
glories of the night. Evil could have no apter illus 
tration than the serpent, writhing horridly like this 
squirming defile, in the most beautiful garden of the 

They took up the packers on the path ; on their 
flanks was heard the jingle of the spurs, and often in 
the light of the stars was seen, the glitter of the cruel 




Beck and his guide in a steady pace were far afield 
on the route to the fort ; the quick dog-trot of the pony 
hugging close to the horse s easy lope. Away through 
the timid shadows, soft and feeble in the young moon s 
light, neck and neck in silence ; from hollows where 
the crickets chirped, over pearl-tipped mounds of 
wind-sown grasses ; through clumps of chapparel, to 
open glades and far-spread levels. 

The mustang came to a sudden halt, looking back at 
the rider ; the Indian leaped down, for his horse was 
at fault where several trails met and crossed. Near 
by a few trees formed an arbor over a flowing basin ; 
a desert fountain, where the feet of strolling tribes had 
beaten down the many paths about it. Turning aside 
the grass, the Indian pointed to a Avhite boulder, then 
reaching down his hand, on the stalk of a bush he felt 
three deep notches ; he was sure of his trail and gave 
the sign to Beck. 

Just then the familiar words of a friendly voice, not 
far distant, caught the ear of the scout, who motioned 
to his companion to follow. 

"Hello, ole hoss," said a gruff speaker, " squat right 

196 SNAP. 

down, yuse white ; know d yer more n a mile off, the 
way yer sot yer saddle ; he s some, boys ; come jine 

Beck, without challenge, had come upon a camp of 
mountaineers, the best type of the semi-savage whites ; 
rough, weather-worn, stone-visagcd men, whose clans, 
cut off from their kind, were ruthless and wild ; a 
grade above their red foe, some stern and rankling 
cause had made them what they were ; the hate of 
their ancient enemy was to them a second nature, but 
like all, on sea and land, to whom she is the foster- 
mother, their social traits were kind, unselfish ; their 
courage without flaw. 

The Indian boy held back until one of the trappers, 
catching sight of his trinkets and the dress of his hair, 
spoke to him, in his own tongue ; then, almost timidly, 
he kept close to Beck, and was seated near him. 

The camp was a beaver party of five from the Platte, 
who were " making meat ;" i. e., killing buffalo for a 
meat supply of a winter quarter in some more southern 
valley. Not one stood under six feet height ; their 
garb, the hunter s buckskin outfit ; their faces shaven 
clean and burned to a reddish bronze. Their squaws 
wives by consent or theft put on the pots to 
warm the choice bits of the meat for the strangers 
treat ; a courtesy of their camps at any hour of night 
or day. 

Each in his turn chatted freely in his own coarse, 
but hearty way. Off on the grand old prairies ; scout 
ing the Cottonwood, the Arkansas, Turkey Creek, 


Pawnee-fork ; over the fireless route of Coon Creek ; 
through a sea of fat meat without fuel to cook it ; 
trailing to Bent s fort, to Boiling Spring, across the 
Divide to the Platte ; away to the Black Hills, to 
camp at last with a sound scalp, in the Sweet Water s 
valley, or in the shadow of Wind River mountain. 

The leader ordered the guards to their posts, and 
two of them drove back the hobbled mules, and 
mounting a rise, their gaze swept the prairie as they 
leaned on their rifles ; two were left to keep the scout 
company ; one slept. 

The sleeper, whose hair was flecked with grey, a 
much older man than the others, slept soundly. 
Stretched on a buffalo-robe with his feet to the fire, 
he had dug with his knife a drain around it, and over 
him was thrown a Navajo blanket, impervious to rain. 
A mule, aged and grizzled, was picketed within reach 
of his hand, its head bent down, the long ears flapping, 
the back arched and its form tottering as it rested and 
slept. The trapper was treading the trails of his 
dreamland among droves of "fat cow," or along 
streams peopled with beaver, no Indian "sign" to vex 
him, and in near perspective the sale of his "pelts" at 
six dollars "theplew." Threading the back trail of 
his memory, through a hard, hard life, starving one 
day, feasting the next ; now beset by whooping fiends, 
baying his enemy like a hunted deer, but with all the 
stern pluck of his tribe ; again, all care thrown aside, a 
welcome guest at the trading-post, or back again, as 

198 SNAP. 

the trail grows fainter, to his childhood s home, in the 
brown forests of old Keiituck. 

Beck and his guide ate freely, and then the pipes ; 
for the plainsman smokes whenever he wakes, and the 
smoke of a pipe is never seen without the loose-tongued 
charm of a story. 

"I say, Bill, dus yer mind the time wen we camped 
with Ole Sam Owins at Independence ; him as got 
rubbed out at Sacrimenty dis hoss disrernembers 
which but he went under ; Ole Sam had his train 
along, ready to hitch up for Mexan country twenty 
thunderin big Pittsburgh wagons, an how his Santa 
Fee boys took to ticker eh, Bill ?" . 

f Well, they did ; an Bill Bent, his boys camped 
on tother side the trail, an they wus all mountin 
men, wagh ! an Bill Williams, an Bill Tharpe, the 
Pawnees took his har on Pawnee-fork, three Bills, 
an them three s all gone under ; Hatcher, he went out 
that time, and wasn t Bill Garey long too? Didn t 
him and Chabonard set in camp for twenty hours at a 
game of kerds? Them was Bent s Injin traders up on 
Arkansas ; and Bill Bent, them Spaniards made meat 
of him ; lost his top-knot at Taos. He war some, was 
Bill Bent ; as good as ever drove a trade or throwd a 
buffler ; Ole St. Vrain could knock the hind-sights off 
him though, wen it come to shootin. You w T ent out 
that time, didn t you?" 

"No sir-ee, I went out along with Spiers, wen he 
lost his animals on Cinnamon ; a hunderd an forty 
mules an oxen war froze that night, wagh ! Black 


Harris was thar, an be war the clarndest liar : did yer 
ever hyar what he told the landlady down in Liberty ? 

" This coon hev gone over a sight, marm, ses he ; I se 
trapped beaver on Plat te an Arkansaw ; I se trapped 
on Columby, Lewis Fork an Green River ; I se trapped, 
inarm, on Gran Eiver an Heely, ses he ; I se tout the 
Blackfoots ; and d bad Injins them am, marm, ses 
he ; I se raised har of more n wun Pach, an made a 
Rapaho come afore now, but scalp my ole head, marm, 
ses he, ef I ain t seen a pewterfyd forest." 

"A what ! ses she." 

"A pewterfyd forest, ses he ; I war out on Black 
Hills the yeak it rained fire, and thar wus no cold 
doins that winter, or this coon wouldn t say so. Why, 
the snow war fifty foot deep, ses he, an no meat ; me 
an my ban was livin on our mocks ins, leastwise on 
par flesh, for six weeks, ses he. One day we crossed 
a divide an got into peraira ; green trees an green 
leaves on the trees, an green grass, an birds a 
singin in the green leaves, in February, ses he, wagh ! 
Hyar s for meat, ses I, ses he, and I ups ole Ginger 
at one of em singin birds, an down it comes elegant ; 
its darned head spinned away, but it kep on a singin, 
oh, yes, ses he, and wen I takes up the meat it war 
stone ; we tried a axe on a tree, out comes a bit of 
blade ; we looks at the animals, an thar they stood a 
shakin over the grass ; I m dog-goned ef it wasn t 
stone, too ; we takes up the grass an it snaps like 

" La, Mister Harris, ses she, didn t they smell bad?" 

200 S.V.4P. 

" Smell ! ses he, an his eyes bulged out as if he war 
a prayin ; h-11, marm, sez he, how could t weu it war 
friz to stone. But he s gone under, too ; a Vide Poche 
Frenchman shot him for his bacca an traps."* 

Beck and the boy-guide, after a nap, mounted and 
rode away as day broke over the camp of the trappers. 
During the morning the far-away lodges of Little 
Elk s people were seen in the misty distance ; the lad, 
nearing his people, in delight made known that his 
tribe was about to move their village, and that the 
hunting party were killing their food for a long jour 

Beck was received kindly, and he and his companion 
staid long enough to give their horses rest. The red 
skins were a tine race. They of the plains, in the 
wider, freer scope for the exercise of their better 
instincts, were wilder, but less crafty. Their habits 
and customs were in keeping, their natures broader, 
more generous ; their forms taller, their muscles more 
flexible in the sunlight life, and their strides stronger. 
They were horsemen. 

Their tepees were all down, save two, kept standing 
for the final rites. In moving about Beck saw many 

* In the author s purpose to give a glimpse at the types of life within 
sound of the whip s snap, this camp scene has been condensed and adapted 
from " Life in the Far West" Ruxton. Lieutenant Iluxton was an Eng 
lish officer of distinction in her Majesty s service, who having spent a vaca 
tion on the Great Plains, resigned his commission, that he might return to the 
camps of the trappers. The wild life having so surpassing a delight for the 
young soldier, he yielded to the charm while confessing a disgust for its 


Bights to revolt his humanity, and one that caused his 
heart to throb. 

An aged patriarch, whose locks were whitened by a 
hundred years, was set apart under the cruel fiat of 
" exposing the aged." Crouching by a small fire of a k 
few sticks, a buffalo skin, raised on crotches, was 
stretched -over his head ; a few half-picked bones, a 
dish of water, was his last portion. Without weapons, 
the miserable remnant of existence, too feeble to 
march, was to be left to die alone.* 

He also witnessed the rite of pohk-hong the cut 
ting of the flesh self-torture. The ceremony took 
place in a large circular lodge. Two men having taken 
positions for the purpose of inflicting the cruel tests of 
endurance, one with a scalping-knife, the other with 
a bunch of splints, the young devotees, already emaci 
ated with fasting, thirsting and waking for nearly four 
days and nights, gave themselves up to the rite. An 
inch or more of flesh on each shoulder or each breast, 
was seized upon, and a knife thrust through, followed 
by the splint or skewer. Then cords were lowered 
from the top of the lodge by men placed there ; these 
were fastened to the splints, the victim hoisted, while 
his tormentors hung upon the skewers, his shield, bow 
and quiver ; sometimes, also the skull of a buffalo to 
the lower arm or leg. All this was borne by each of 
the dozen or more subjects, with the most unflinching 
fortitude ; at every taunt and jeer of the demons, who 
seemed to be devising means for their more acute 

* See " Catlin s North American Indians." 


agony, the look on their faces never betrayed a sign of 
pain. In this condition they were whirled about, and 
with the utmost scrutiny to observe a tremor or 
struggle. There is no escape from the fearful ordeal, 
until what they called " entirely dead ;" i. e., swooning 
or fainting from the fearful pain.* 

In another lodge he witnessed the " Sun Dance ; " a 
peace custom of this tribe. 

Over fifty braves, each an Apollo, painted, and 
naked to the waist, except a profusion" of ornaments, 
with head-dresses of beautiful feathers. Many had 
from fifty to two hundred pieces cut out of the flesh of 
their anus and backs. Men dancing with two, three 
and four buffalo heads, suspended from holes cut in the 
flesh. One Indian dragged on the ground eight heads 
fastened to his back, and in the stooping position he 
was forced to, they had lacerated or torn the cuts, to 
the extent of three inches. Some fell faint and 
exhausted. With screams and shouts in the din of their 
wild music and of weird songs, there was a Pande 
monium, f 

Beck and the boy pushed on, and the latter signed 
to proceed through the grove they had entered after a. 
few hours ride ; emerging from its shade they looked 
down upon a valley, and beheld the fort, a white, clean 
shelter, in the far-off green expanse. Parting from the 

* Catlin, 1832. 

t An Army Surgeon, 1879. 

The same rite described by Catlin, 1832, and by the other writer, 1879, 
shows by contrast how little these Indians have progressed towards civiliza 
tion in a period of forty-two years. 


lad the scout rode into the lowland, and was soon lost 
to si-ht among the pale trunks of the cottonwood. 
About noon he got down under the walls, and bailed 
the sentry. In answer to the challenge he asked to 
see Captain Harkness. 
" What s your name ? " 
"John Beck, scout." 
" What s your business?" 
That s for your officer ; hurry up." 
The word was passed to quarters, while he waited, 
holding his horse. In a little while he was sent for by 
the Captain. 

Harkness was born on the border, and had 
graduated at West Point ; he was sent upon the plains 
for training, and there made his mark, being by 
nature adapted to a soldiers life, with peculiar fitness 
for this service. Standing six feet two in his stockings, 
of an iron frame, straight as an arrow, he had the mien 
of a good officer ; nor did he lack the manner of one. 
The kidnapping of Mary Cheviteau had reached the 
War Office, and a very general complaint from the 
West of raids upon and of plots against lawful trade, 
luid been sent on, in varied forms, to the authorities. 
Altogether, these offences were too grave to be longer 
disregarded, and the Captain was ordered to the fron 
tier, as one who would cure these evils by his well 
known methods, with courage and justice. He was 
given a carte blanche to recruit and equip his force, and 
was allowed to conduct the campaign as he thought 
best. His orders read " to strike hard." The bat- 

204 SNAP. 

talion which he commanded was made up from the 
class who live in the sound of the rifle ; fearless fel 
lows, picked for what they could do without being 
drilled to do it ; off duty, he could wrestle, run or 
shoot with the best men of his troop ; he never said "go " 
in a fight, but always, "Come, boys," and they followed, 
even unto death. 

Beck was directed to the Captain s quarters, where, 
being seated, in a moment after, a round, rich voice 
was heard, and a heavy tread, as Harkness entered the 

"How are you, Beck?" he said. 

Beck rose, saluted, and, as he knew he had met an 
officer of strict habits, he drew forth at once the letter 
from the War Office and presented it. 

From his dress the soldier might have been taken 
for a ranger ; he wore a buckskin blouse and leggins,. 
hickory shirt, a light felt hat with shoestring tie, top- 
boots and spurs, his sabre, belt and pistols ; his hair 
was cropped close to the scalp, and his fine face was 
improved by a moustache, the ends of which touched 
his shoulders. Placing his hat on the table, with a 
glance at the letter he laid it down. 

"Where s your horse, scout?" 

"Stabled, sir." 

" Have you wet your whistle ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" And stocked your commissary ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

"Bidden hard? 11 


" A good brush." 

" In a minit you can rest." 

" Don t want it, sir." 

" As you please." 

" Let me know, Captain, what you can do for me." 

"What I can do?" he answered, facing the scout; 
"well, I m going to knock the spots off of Cartvvright 
and the Spider." 

Beck was nonplussed. 

"I understand," he went on, "they ll strike your 
train in The Wedge." 

" So I reckon." 

"At theButte." 

" Yes, sir ; that s whar they ll ambush." 

" Then I ll make a bait of your train." 

"A bait?" 

" Leave that to me. How many men have you? " 

The scout gave the number. 

"That ll do; all armed?" 

"Yes, sir; all armed." 

" I ll be with you, to stamp out this hellish game of 
plunder ; this chief is a devil incarnate ; all his life 
an enemy, he has broken every treaty, swears he ll 
never eat a government ration, has tortured or killed 
every white man, ravished every white woman he has 
caught; he has fought every friendly tribe, has 
attacked every government party, sells himself to do 
murder, is now sold to slay. Of course, they made a 
fool of him in Washington, made fools of themselves 
also, and he comes back with a medal ! But I ll 

206 SXAP. 

thrash him, or my name s not Bob Harkness ! " His 
foot came down flatly, rattling his sabre. 

Beck thought himself a good scout, but here was an 
officer who knew all the business he had come upon be 
fore he had uttered a word. 

" How d you like to be Sergeant Beck?" It was a 
weakness of the Captain to ask every tine-looking man 
he met to join his company. 

" Not much, sir ; I m doing well now." 

" Don t blame you ; I wanted Jack McQuain." 

" Is the old man still afoot? " 

" Yes, sir ; it was he who gave me the dots." 

"How? what?" The scout was confused. 

"Don t you know? Why, he lay behind a wall and 
heard all the bargain between Cartwright and the Spi 
der about raiding your train ; then he rode night and 
day till he reached me, gave me all the points, and now 
he s off for the mountains. He s a lamb, John 

" That s so ; he s a stan-by, certain." The scout now 
felt at ease. 

ff Where s your train ? " 

"I reckon, if it has kep up a steady pull, it s in a 
bee-line south of this." 

" At daylight I ll call to saddle." 

" We can reach my boys by midnight." 

" My boys are brushing up ; come and have a look 
at them." 

Captain Harkness led the way to the parade-ground. 
In groups of a dozen or less, his men were at work. 


Some of them burnished their sabres ; one took apart 
his pistol; another mended his bridle, others their 
saddles. They were a hardy set of nomads, dressed 
like their chief, and each raised his hand to his hat as 
he passed, in a fraternal way, with a dare-devil smile. 
Their mounts were tied near by, and were " in good 
keep " ; each horse, like each rider, had some striking 
trait or token, and they were not matched in size or 

"There, scout, are my pets," said the Captain, 
pointing to two small brass howitzers ; " I can take 
them along, the road is good." 

"I reckon they ll talk." 

" Yes ; I call them Law and Order." 

Having looked over the camp and talked with the 
men, Beck, for the rest of the day, slept off the fatigue 
of his ride. 

With the first bright lines of the dawn, the bugle s 
note rang out loud and clear, and Captain Harkness, 
riding a bay stallion, ordered the mount. 

"Beck," he called out, "ride ahead, the road is di 
rect ; strike your train, then report to me." 

The scout put spurs to his horse and rode all day, 
with few stops ; in the night he arrived at the foot of 
the ridge, and dashing up to its level he saw to the 
rear of his halting place the twinkling camp-fires of 
the train. Captain Harkness and his men had followed 
closely. Beck turned, made up to them, riding back 
in a run. 

" I ll keep you company this side of the range, till 

208 SNAP. 

we reach the Butte in the Wedge ; now, Beck, keep 
straight on with your train till I say halt," and Beck, 
anxious to quiet every fear or doubt, rode off for his 
camp, at full leap. 

"Who goes there!" challenged the teamster on 

" Beck," was the answer ; " how s all ? " 
" All s well." 

Mrs. Garrulson awoke with a start. 
" What s up ! " she screamed ; " is that you, John 
Beck, cavortin aroun this time o ni-ht? * 




In the morning before the*" yoke up," every man was 
armed to the teeth ; seeing which, Mrs. Garrulson, in 
her best vein, said : 

" Things begin to look bilious." 

The train had camped on the left flank of "The 
Wedge," a name given to the land lying between the 
two lines of hills or ridges, and from the view at 
this point they seemed, perspectively, to close in as 
they descended to the river. This was their confor 
mation, for the lines were not parallel, but gradually 
neared to a narrow passage, at the exit. The place 
looked as though a mountain had been riven there, 
and the small plateau where they dragged along, like a 
wedge between the divided parts ; by some it was 
called " The Spear-point." A sugar-loaf hill rose from 
the ridge on the right, topped by a few trees, and bore 
the landmark title of Butte. Just opposite, on the 
left and lower range, across the road, was a similar 
rise of less height, but of a more rugged formation. 
Its crest was basin-shaped, verged with rocks and 
brambles. The ascent to the base of the bowl was 
easy, but from thence, for a few feet, to the rim, pre 
cipitous. Herds of bison, with hoof and horn, scoop 
ing the saline earth, had at some time made "a lick" 

210 SNAP. 

there, and the shrubbery not destroyed grew on its 
skirt. It was a ready-made rifle-pit. The hills fell 
away to the rear into the valleys. The one to the 
north overlooked the level gravel road to the fort, that 
on the south the highway travelled by Cruz and Cart- 

The pirates and the Spiders kept the trail only 
at night, but with a forced march in breathless 
haste. The Indians sprang from sleep, retouched the 
war-paint, ground their arrow-points, clicked the trig 
ger, flashed the knife ; a mania for scalps and pelf 
crazed them. The chief rode to the front, motioned, 
and they followed ; a long trail, with few stops, 
brought them in sight of the Butte on the night that 
the scout rejoined his train. In the moonlight Cart, 
wright and the savage conferred by signs. After the 
latter had pointed often to the peak, he got down, 
turned his band to the woods near by, and drew in the 
sand with his finger a deep, rough sketch of his plan of 
attack. -Now choosing the youngest, a strong-limbed, 
ill-visaged heathen, with the scars of torture on his 
breast and blood-signs on his face, he sent him oft as a 
scout, to watch the whites. Within gunshot of their 
camp s patrol, this young, lithe savnge lay until the 
dawn; he saw the cattle yoked, he heard the snap o 
the whip in the start; still staring hard, he saw the 
train enter " The AVedgc." Crawling from brush to 
bush and hillock, the runner at last rose to his feet, 
speeding back to his chief. AVith a frown he was sent 
off again, and on the top of the hill he stretched him- 

" S TR UCK HARD " " WIPED OUT." 211 

self at full length, glaring down on the train, as a 
spider watches a fly. 

Behind the northern rise, Captain Harkness and his 
troopers rode at will. Now and then he wheeled in his 
saddle, spoke to "his boys," rode on, whistled, patted 
his horse, fanned himself with his hat, renewed his 

"Ain t you gwyne to let us out, Cappin? " asked the 

" Well, I won t get a rope to hold you back with ; 
but remember, now, the Spider fights like a catamount ; 
he shows no quarter." 

" He * no wus than all the varmints," spoke up a 
dare-devil on the flank. 

" Halt ! " The troop drew up to their leader. 
" Look here. The Spider is a hornet, he s a can 
nibal ; do you know that? If one of you fellows are 
taken alive, you ll be roasted like a chestnut, roasted 
at a slow fire, roasted by inches. Do you hear me? " 

" That s all right, Cappin ; don t they have to take 
us fust?" put in a gruff voice. 

" Forward ! " He had badgered them with a word 
to raise the pulse. 

" It ll be a dash, with sabre and yell," said one. 

"A wipe-out." 

"Tom," said another to his file, in a whisper, "he 
whistles all the time." 



" All the wus for the redskins." 

212 SNAP. 

"Yes," said a third, "wen he s done with em, a 
train ken pass along this yer road and sleep o nights 
without a guard." 

Whack and Beck rode side by side in the sweltering 
heat ; the beasts tugged hard at their burdens. 

"Mighty close quarters, scout." 

" So Cartwright thinks, I reckon." 

"Will they strike us, certain?" 

" Certain ; they re over in the woods yonder, now." 

"This is what a feller might call the jaws of 

" Yes ; for the teeth are sharpened." 


" We ll chaw em up." 

" Isn t there another road ? " 

" No, Whack, and Cartwright knew it ; knew jus 
whar to strike ; but he s fooled. 

" Thought he d ketch us in a trap ? " 


"Looks like he had us, scout." 

"I m ahead of him though, an have set a trap for 
him ; the train is a bait." 

"How s that?" 

"Wait an see ; keep the men in good trim, let em 
move slow ; I am off again," he said, as he rode on. 

Mrs, Garrulson had fallen in with Legs, and careless 
of the rite danger, walked with him at his team. 

"What you thinkin bout, Illynys?" she asked. 

"Bout the tight," 

"What sorter fight, boy?" 

" S TR UCK HARD " " WIPED O 7 TV 213 

" Why, don t yer know wese gwyne ter hev a scrim 
mage afore we get outer this, granny?" 

" No ; may I never who wants ter fight ? " 


"Thet s so, es t? " the old woman looked thoughtful. 

"Never mine, thar ain t a man that ll let a har of 
yourn be teched." 

" My har ; why, bless you, sonny, I wur a thinkin 
of yourn. Whar dus yer mother live ? " 

" Up yanner ; " the lad said, pointing to the bright 
blue sky. 

" Dead ? An yer farther ? " 

" Dead too ; they moved out to the Meesuree an the 
Injins slayed em, granny, long ago." 

"Too bad, son, sho ; I hed kin of mine scelped too. 
An wese gwyne ter hev a fight ? " 

"Yes, an afore it s over I ll get even." 

"Drot my shoestrings, boy, I ll stan by you," she 
answered quickly, slapping him on the back. 

" An see hyar, granny ; spose I se knocked over ? " 

" I ll look arter you, son ; but yer ain t gwyne to be 
with me ahind you." 

The report of a rifle was heard, which cut short their 
talk. As Beck rode by, Whack called to him : 

"What s up?" 

" A chance shot ; " he rode on over the northern 
ridge ; as he crossed the hill, Captain Harkness came 
towards him. 

"I heard your shot, Beck." 

" I flushed up a Spider, Captain." 

214 SNAP. 

"Kill him?" 

" No." 

" What was he ? " 

" Spy in war-paint ; I was huntin for a sign all day, 
and found it." 

" How near are they, Beck ? " 
In the woods below; they ll strike us to-night." 
"Pull up in a trot to the foot of the Butte ; unyoke 
and drive your stock over here." 

Beck rode back to his train; at sundown they 
camped between the hills. 

The night, midnight and the small hours were of the 
past, and the scout paced his rounds on guard ; he 
held his rifle ready with his finger on the trigger. 
Not a whisper was heard behind the wagons ; not even 
a beetle droned in the still, damp air. The men held 
their breath, and every beat of the heart could be 
counted in the soundless pause. 

"Who s that?" cried Beck sharply, brought to a 
sudden halt by an apparition, as his eye ranged the 
barrel of his gun. 

The form of the wanderer crept slowly out of the 
wet, dark shadows ; more distraught than ever, when 
near enough he seized the scout s hand : 

"They re coming," he said, in abject terror. 

"Who?" asked the scout. 

" Cartwright and the Spiders." 


"Yonder, behind the hill;" pointing his long, bony 
finger; "they re creeping on you like a thousand 


snakes; hissing, too, the vipers; murder, death; 
they re coming, man ; they re coming." 

"Get in, then, out of sight;" and Beck forced the 
poor wretch behind the inclosure. 

A feature of the wild man s craze, was his ever- 
changeful mode of life, and how he lived was a mystery 
to many. He was an ubiquis springing out of the earth 
to help those friendly to him, or to foil their enemies. 
He was fed by passing trains or parties ; with these he 
journeyed hither and thither, with no fixed course or 
destiny, retracing his route as the mood seized him ; 
taken up again to re-pass ; hence his appearance in 
many places. The Indian looked upon him with awe, 
but without pity. 

The scout called to Whack to stand guard until he 
came back. 

"The devils," he said, " are on us, and they ll strike 
before daylight." 

He crawled up the hillside and disappeared in the 
foliage ; here he came upon Captain Harkness stand 
ing in the shadow of a tree, sighting the opposite 

"They re over yonder, Captain," he said. 

" I know it," was the quiet reply, " and they ll stay 
there, Beck." 

"Stay there?" 

" Yes ; not one shall get away, if I can help it." 

"What s going to be the signal? " 

"They ll open fire; fire back in their teeth, every 
man, and when these pets " he went on, pointing to 

216 SNAP. 

his howitzers masked behind the brush "stop talk 
ing " 

"What then?" 

" Charge that ridge with your men." 
"When your pets stop barking, then?" 
"Yes, sir; join your train, the ball s going to 

In the camp the men were put to work upon a ruse 
to draw the fire, and to foil the foe. Blankets were 
spread, on the slope, and under them bolts of tent- 
cloth, with here and there a teamster s hat ; a good 
sham of men asleep. An inside breastwork of bales, 
covering the running-gear of the front wagons, con 
cealed their movements. 

It was midnight when the chief signed to his band 
to move. Spread out singly, a scattered horde, they 
began the ascent like crouching tigers, lurking and 
peering above the grass. On the flank, as skirmishers, 
Cart wright and Cruz led their horses. 

In the ambush with his braves strung along its outer 
rim lying low, the Spider looked upon the camp of 
the teamsters, in vexed surprise. He stared fixedly 
at the Butte, opposite, as it frowned down on his 
meaner site, and was maddened by a mistake that 
mocked him. In rage he beckoned to the theives ; 
they came to him to be told that he and his tribe must 
move to the other range. He sent them off to feel 
the way for a change of ambush, and from thence he 
would spring down upon the sleepers and destroy 

" S TR UCK HARD " " WIPED OUT." 217 

Beck drilled his men in whispers ; as soon as the 
savages opened fire they were to fire back ; when he gave 
the command to charge, they were to leap the wagons, 
form line, follow him and fire advancing. Whack, for 
the first time was to see a frontier fight, the first les 
son which the Colonel thought essential to his success 
in life ; young, hopeful, the youth stood firm and gave 
his orders calmly. 

"Mrs. Garrulson," he said to the good woman who 
was making bandages in an exposed corner, "get be 
hind cover, you re in danger there." 

She turned upon him in wrathful haste : 

"Jjo yer think I m a coward, boy; thar s grit I tell 
yer in the ole bones yit, an I ll stan by the boys tell 
the last wun draps." 

If the men had dared so rash a thing, they would 
have cheered her. She got up, slung a powder-horn 
over one shoulder, a cartridge-box over the other, and 
took her stand, from which no entreaty could move 

The chief strode madly in the rear of his crouching 
band ; now and then he leaped to the front to look 
forth, and at last, as he looked, day broke in one broad 
gleam. The savage with a keen, ringing shriek raised 
his tomahawk. Beck fired on the instant ; his rifle s 
ball clove the Indian s scalp-tuft. 

"Great Scott," said Sandy in a low tone, "did yees 
see the feathers fly." 

Just then there was a blaze of light alono- the rin< 3r 

o o & 

of the pit; the guns of the painted devils, with a 

218 SNAP. 

sharp, quick rattle, sent a shower of balls into the 

" Steady ; " cautioned Whack, showing his mettle. 

" All ready ! fire ! " cried the scout ; the rifles of 
the teamsters answered. 

" Give em goss," cried the old woman, taking up a 
piece to reload it. 

The chief saw at a glance that he was foiled by a 
vigilant foe, and blind with fury held to the fight, 
watching his chance to spring from cover. The firing 
now became general, and in the midst of it granny 
stood by Legs loading his weapon ; he grasped the 
gun, aimed, fired and returned it to receive another; 
she never flinched, but stood in her place the picture 
of frontier pluck; her face begrimed, her hands and 
arms blackened. 

" Goshens," she exclaimed, "the darned thing s hot, 
sonny ; won t it bust ? 

The redskins sprung a flight of arrows. 

"Saving powder," said Beck, "the devils will stand 
to it and fight it out ; " he had listened long for the 
hill-top signal. 

While he spoke the howitzers opened with whistling 
grape, and the men stared at each other in wonder, 
for Beck had kept from them the knowledge of a troop 
near at hand, that their own courage might be fresh 
and warm. 

" It s all right boys ; " then in a sturdy voice he gave 
the command, " Forward ! " 

They leaped the wagons with aloud, Western shout, 

" S TR UCK HARD " " WIPED UT." 2 1 9 

forming line ; Beck on the right, Whack on the left, 
they advanced firing and loading in the face of the 
Spiders. The Indians leaped to the rocky parapet, 
fired and fell back, and the yell of the chief betokened 
that the parting shot had been given before he drew off 
his band, in flight. 

All at once, yells like the rally-cries of the trappers, 
came from behind the ambuscade ; a sound of many 
voices loud in the fiery tones of strife, coming nearer 
and mingling with the babel of the affrighted savages. 
The scout cheered ; the men took up the battle-note 
of their leader, crowding close to his manly form ; 
now was heard the jingle of scabbards, the snap of 
pistols, the snort of horses, and above the din, a voice 
louder than all rang out : 

" Draw sabres ! " it said ; Bob Harkness was on 

John Beck heard it, and all the fervor of his nature, 
long pent up, burst forth in an answering shout ; he 
scaled the barrier with his men, and joined the venge 
ful tumult. 

Whack, at the left, was the last to come into the pit 
with his squad ; they climbed the rough, sheer rock- 
front. The chief, surrounded, fought like a wild beast 
at bay ; and, maddened, he furiously fought on. 
Clubbing his rifle as the last of his band fell about 
him, he sprang with a bound clear of the victors. 
Whack, who had just then dragged himself over the 
basin s rim as the savage planted his foot on the rock, 
glanced aside and caught the gleam of the upraised 

220 SNAP. 

rifle, swung to brain him where he lay. Pistol in 
hand, he fired without aim, but as the smoke raised, 
the car-piercing death-scream of the Spider was heard 
over the cliff, where he fell. 

Harkness slapped his thigh at the sight. 

" Grit, be gad," he said, aloud. 

The savages in setting a trap had entrapped them 
selves in the meshes of a fearful slaughter. While a 
few fired the howitzers, the Captain led his men 
down the Butte on the river side, through the brush 
to the rear of the Indians, and charged to their ambus 
cade as Beck advanced in front. 

"Call your roll, scout, and count the cost," said the 

On the hillside, as the teamsters drew back from 
the bloody scene, they came upon the slain and 
wounded. The Spiders, assailed front and rear, 
hemmed in, had shot wildly ; a score of trainmen had 
been hurt, and at the foot of the hill, one lay still in 

"I seed him fall, boys," said the old woman between 
sobs, in whose lap the head of the dead youth lay ; 
"all the I nj ins in creation could nt aheld me back;" 
she leaned down and kissed the brow of the orphan 
and her tears fell, a full, sweet flow of pity, as 
pure as when the angels weep ; the men were 
touched more at her sorrow than by the loss of 
their comrade, though he had been the lead in the 
whip s snap, in the rifle s crack. Poor Legs ; he lay 
as one sleeping calmly, his long, brown hair on his 

" S TR UCK PI A RD " " WIPED OUT?* 221 

shoulders. They took him up with friendly words, 
and buried him with care, and raising a rude stone- 
mound, they left him alone on the wild. 

" I struck hard, scout," said Harkness. 

" Well, it s a mercy ; but has Cartwright got off? " 

" Yes, like a thief." 

"It s bad, bad if he lives." 

"Yes, Beck, the breathing devil who lurks behind 
the savage urging him on, still lives ; he always 
escapes the sword and the law." 

The pirate and Mexican had taken a circuit of the 
ridge, coming up in the rear of the Butte ; here they 
had tied their horses and had crawled up the hill. 
Cruz, the more wily villain ahead, looked in upon 
the troopers, from behind a tangled growth. The 
sight stunned him ; quickly, with his finger on his 
lip, he motioned to Cartwright behind him. The 
two stood dismayed, as out of a riven cloud a 
beam of the freed moon played upon the burnished 
butts of the cannon, upon the sabre-hilts of the 
soldiers holding their horses ; they saw the giant 
form of their captain and the wave of his hand ; they 
saw the men mount, wheel, ride off. 

"The devil;" whispered the copper-colored cow 
ard, as they both crouched down. They sneaked to 
their horses and mounted, for the pirate saw and 
understood that the Spiders were doomed. The 
Mexican eyed him. 

" Vamo?" he asked timidly. 

" Wayno ; " answered Bill. 

222 SNAP. 

B wen." 

The scoundrels, in a hard gallop, struck out for the 
camp of the packers; taking up their train, they sped 
away out of danger leaving the Indians to their fate. 
A fate sure as death followed them. 

The wounded were carod for and the teams moved 
on, crossing the river. At the ford Harkness turned 
off with his troop for the fort. 

On looking back at the rifle-pit, Beck saw the dry 
leaves in flames, and amid the smoke the wild man 
crazily disporting. He had found a dragoon s pistol, 
loaded, and hiding it under his rags, he fled with his 




AT the fort the wounded were speedily cared for, 
and Beck, having unloaded his train, started on the 
return trip. When John and Melinda came together 
the camp laughed, but the good old soul was far 
above the jest ; the wifely care which for many years 
hoarded her little store in some nook of the lonely 
cabin, the sterling trait which upheld her to bear 
through strife the homely gift to her spouse, far away 
in the grim solitude, stamps her sense of duty as 
something better than impulse, something deeper than 
emotion. Of such qualities are heroes made, and none 
bettor have given fame and ennobled a race. 

Fairly under way, homeward bound, Whack turned 
to Beck for leave to ride on, that he might free him 
self of the drag of the train and the creak of the 



" Mind your eye," said his cautious leader, " keep 
the road and open country ; if thar s Spiders in the 
bush they ll spot you, boy." 

Whack rode on for hours a heedless truant ; he 
forded the river and spurred away to the Butte, that he 
might look in upon the rifle-pit or over the cliff where 
the savage fell. 

224 SNAP. 

A few of the Spiders had escaped in the battle s smoke 
to hide from its rash and fearful vengeance. They 
had lain in ambush for hours to dress their wounds, or 
to chant at times their death-songs over the slain. 
As they lay there they heard the tramp of a rider s 
horse, and nearer and nearer it came upon them 
skulking, as closer they crouched to spring Whack 
rode round the rocky point on the hillside ; his mount 
shied, when, with yells, they seized his bridle and 
dragged him from his seat. Before he could fairly 
realize his danger, they had bound him hand and foot 
to set about the work of his torture, with devilish 
devices and with cruel haste. He was stripped to the 
waist ; they singed the quivering flesh with hot 
arrow-points, scourged him with bow-string and thorn- 
brush, then bending a sapling with their combined 
weight, they fastened his feet thereto, and let the tree 
spring back. His head hanging down, and his body 
within reach, they stung and bruised it with a hundred 
blows. The strain on each young, strong fibre a 
racking, acute tension as if one and all would snap 
knotted the pain-wrought muscles, Moments were 
told off in long flights of agony ; he panted for breath, 
the veins swelled to bursting, the foam stood on his 
lips and his eyes grew dim. One last, fainting look 
into the upper depths, like one sinking in the waves 
deeper, deeper. 

" Get back, back, you painted hell-cats," screamed 
a voice, and the feeble sight of Whack saw the wild 
man rushing to his rescue, club in hand, with which he 


struck down savage after savage. Again he heard 
another, manlier voice. 

" Stand aside," it said, and the sharp crack of the 
rifle was heard as he swooned. 

Beck had followed Whack, giving his horse free rein 
to seek him out, and he came upon the scene as the 
wanderer struck down his tormentors. He cut the 
cords, taking up the body in his arms, and he bore it 
away to a spring. 

Looking about for the wild man, he was seen far off, 
his arms held high in the flurry of madness. 

When the train came up Whack was put to bed in a 
covered wagon ; his wounds were many and sore, and 
long weeks would come of restless fever before he 
could again scour the plain. 

The book Mary gave the scout was a small copy of 
the Bible she had taken from the shelf, with the marker 
between the leaves. It was her law of the household, 
that it should be read in the long hours of a winter s 
evening. So little else in print ever found its way to 
the frontier cabin, the lessons of its text had given 
strength to many manly hearts. In camp, a few days 
after Whack s adventure, the scout drew forth the little 
volume as he sat alone at rest. The marked page was 
spread before him, and the words which the marker 
pointed to were these : 

rf And thy people . . . . " the trite lines in the old 

Beck was startled. He drew back as though a blow 
had been aimed at him, but he did not suspect Mary 

226 SNAP. 

of design, for she had not, in truth, looked at the page, 
but still the words stared him in the face boldly. Nor 
was he tempted to peruse them again, for they troubled 
him, and he closed the tell-tale chapter, hid the book 
in his blouse and rose with a sigh. 

Whack s was a fine face, the more so as he lay in his 
wagon-tent half asleep. The tan of his cheeks shaded 
the glow of health, and the rich brown hair in waves 
lay on the white roll under his head ; the repose of the 
young, manly features was broken by a smile at some 
fancy of his thoughts ; the smile enriched the picture. 
While with a lazy content he felt the return of strength, 
on the rear-porch at the home Mary was seated with 
Lu. She turned once from her sewing, to glance at the 
lovely girl sitting near her, as a stray beam stole in to 
alight on her golden braids. 

At dawn the train rolled out, taking a cut-off to 
reach the Big Backbone, and at noon on the next day 
Beck called a halt. 

"Whack, do you know this yer spot?" he said, as 
he raised the wagon cover. 


" Look down in the valley at the crib." 

" I see the same old landmarks." 

" Do you see smoke ? " 

"No; do you?" 

" Thar s a way to find out all I want to know." 

"How?" - 

" I m going to see." 

He rode off just as once before he had taken a 


sudden flight ; as before, he drew up near the pirates 
camp, and tying his mount, he began again a search cf 
the grotto. He was about to give it up, when his eye 
caught sight of a pair of spurs hanging on the door 
frame, and at last he saw a pack-saddle. Still not 
satisfied, grasping his rifle he ventured nearer ; as no 
sound came to his ears, he went on until he stood in 
the door of the cabin. He sprang back, with a 
blanched face, and covered his eyes with his hands. 
On the floor within lay the dead bodies of the packers, 
each man slain by a stab in the darkness of a night 
attack. About the door were signs of a hard-fought, 
hand-to-hand fight, and Beck would have turned away 
in haste, but he must know if Cartwright was one of 
the slain. This done, and assured that the thief had 
escaped, he strode out of the loathsome place. As he 
did so his foot struck a shining object ; he picked it 
up, to find it a blood-smeared knife ; on the handle 
rudely cut, was the name : FEKATI ! Beck leaped into 
his saddle, joined his train, and " rolled out." Cart- 
wright was still at large and he rode far away from 
the trail, getting down to search for foot-prints, and 
his search was not in vain. 

Jumper had his own way to make in the world, and 
he had himself to blamo if he set about doing so by a 
bad method. The value of Lu s real estate to the 
uttermost farthing, her goods and chattels, as well 
as that in prospect, he had found out, in detail, 
and as she had not once set him back in his preten 
sions, as a matter of course, he pressed them upon 

228 SNAP. 

her. She was a very pretty prey for just such a 
flatterer. When she left her friends, the light 
headed coterie, she had vowed in a maidenly way 
never to come back without having taken a scalp 
the border phrase of the day for catching a beau in 
some sort of heroic fashion, and Jumper was quick to 
cross her trail that she might seize upon him as a 
victim. That two young persons with so much in 
common should come together often, was only natural. 
They had been known to each other for a long time as 
Lu and Harry. 

About a dozen miles below the post on the river s 
bank, was a woodchopper s camp. Jumper had urged 
Lu to trust herself with him on a visit to this place, 
and she had consented. They mounted their horses, 
Lu upon the frisky Kitty, and rode away in the early 
morning; she, the pretty, blue-eyed, simple little girl, 
and he, the mannish, over-smart boy, side by side. 
Just so, through the world they go in pairs, lured on 
until real life, like a savage in the bush, flies its 
arrows, and regret mocks them, like the laugh of 
drunken men. They had ridden a long stretch from 
the post, and already Jumper began to reckon upon 

" Harry dear," said the weak voice at his side, "is 
there any danger away out here ? " 

" Can you trust to me ? " he replied ; " if there s 
danger ain t I with you?" laying stress upon the ego. 

"I do wish so much we were safe on the steamer." 

" I ll put you there, Lu ; all creation can t stop me." 


" How brave you are," she said, with a simpering, 
childlike trust. 

Now in the rapture of an idle day-dream, the rose- 
tinted gossamer which veils the sight of youth, they 
drew near a thicket. Love s soft nonsense was quickly 
hushed in fear, for they had, without warning, ridden 
into a camp of Indians maddened by drink. Lu s 
horse sprang aside, dashed ahead, and Jumper s fol 
lowed : 

" Dear, dear Harry, what shall we do?" 

On looking back he saw that the Indians were pur 
suing them. They gave chase for sport, and in the 
muddle of his wits, Jumper said to Lu, almost rudely; 


The band came on hooting, laughing and springing 
their arrows into the air, after the fleeing couple. 

"Oh, I shall faint; help me, Harry; help me;" 
cried the girl, in a really pitiable plight. 

" Pinch yourself, Lu ; stick yourself with a pin ; " 
he said to her, losing what little sense was left to him. 
Such an answer at such a time was cruelly careless, 
but it was the spur to her escape, as it proved. She 
loosed the rein and Kit bounded away. As she looked 
back at Jumper, there rang in his ears a parting 

"You re a coward, Harry Carver," she said, as she 
swept on, and he saw the graceful form of his sweet 
heart taking wings and fast fading from his sight. 

Jumper was not a coward, for as his flurry calmed, 
he outwitted the Indians with skill. He was riding an 

230 SNAP. 

old cob, and as they neared him he quietly let himself 
down, that his horse might fall into their hands ; he 
knew they would be content with the capture and he 
would cover his flight by the ruse. And so it hap 
pened ; catching the mount, they turned and rode 

Kitty carried Lu out of danger ; on the skirt of the 
wood she heard the sound of the axe and saw the land 
ing on the river; she drew rein thanking her good 
angel, for the ride of the two was a runaway match. 
Jumper, by dint of long coaxing, won Lu s consent, 
and she, to carry back to her friends the trophy she 
had vowed to seize, had thought the youth not a poor 
catch. On that day a boat "downstream" and the 
one coming to Cheviteau s would meet at this camp. 
In the first they were to sail away to Gretna Green, 
sending the horses to the post by the other. Jumper 
planned it all, but the emeute changed Lu from a 
foolish little maiden to a sensible being in a trice ; the 
good angel s very best \\ hisper. 

She returned in the boat, refusing to speak with the 
crest-fallen hero. How he squared his profit and loss 
account the Colonel knew best, but Lu, the penitent, 
threw herself into Mary s arms and told everything. 

A few days after, while the captain of the "Pioneer" 
refreshed himself at the sideboard, he asked to take 
Carver into his service, and the trader made no serious 

The Judge was still a guest at the post ; his stay, in 
his own excuse, was to attend to politics ; but the Doc- 


tor, a worldly-wise man, let his pretext pass lor what 
it was worth, weighing it against a heavy doubt. 

At an earlier hour of the same day, he, the Judge, 
went forth also, but took some pains to cover his trail 
from the eyes of the family ; he had a written permit 
from the Colonel to pass the patrol, which he handed 
to the one he met and rode on. 

The Judge knew and felt that there was some dan 
ger ahead, but he would take care not to provoke the 
few Indians left behind from the annual hunt. He was 
bent upon knowing, with the keen eye of a speculator, 
the lay of their lands. In taking his bearings, he 
would keep strict account \vhere_best to plant his own 
stakes, if the future gave him a chance, caring little, 
though he thought of it, that his rash act might cause 
a deadly feud. He had framed a petition to have tho 
treaty with these Indians annulled, and to open their 
reservation to the settler, for sale. The scheme was to 
be bolstered by a resolution of the State Legislature 
and then to be hurried through Congress. 

The sky was as brass, the earth ashes. The Judge 
dropped his bridle and his horse walked lazily through 
the brown grass. The noon blaze scorched ; the whirr 
in the trees, the gleam on the plain were no check to 
his scheming thoughts. He straightened himself in 
the stirrups, and was about to coach himself aloud in 
tho cut-and-dried cant of a speech, when a yell paused 
his hand in mid-air, and he lost his seat in the saddle. 

Before he could rise, the band of drunken braves, 
on their way to their village after their fright to Lu and 

232 SNAP. 

Jumper, pounced upon him. They painted his face, 
twisted his hair into a coil, pinned it with feathers, and 
tying his arms, they drove him off with laugh and jeer. 
In this disgraceful fix, late in the evening, the Judge 
met the trader, who smiled broadly, for he knew that 
the Indians had taught his guest to mind his own 

p What kinder chief did them redskins make you, 
Jedge? You look like a Pache." 

" Never mind the looks, Colonel ; behavior s every 
thing. I scattered em, seh." 

" Oh, you did? Well, if you did, how d they come 
to paint your face ? " 

" Well, they had reinforcements, yes " 

" But whar s your horse ? " 

" The patrol caught him." 

The Judge hurried off to avoid the Doctor, who 
came up. 

The train was on the road skirting the lands of the 
Colonel s unfriendly neighbors. Beck had good reason 
for alarm. 

Cartwright and the gang, after their desertion of the 
Spiders, hastened on to the crib. There they had been 
attacked by Ferati s cow-boys and "wiped out," the 
thief escaping to the lodges of these Indians, with 
whom he was then living as a squaw-man. He was in 
their village when Beck stole upon the crib and* came 
away from the horrid sight with white cheeks. 

The pirate had caught a glimpse of the Judge on 
his ride, and had vowed to the savages that the man 


was there to survey their lands, and was nearer the 
mark than he knew ; he clothed the Judge with author 
ity to dispossess them ; he likened him to a prowling 
wolf, spoke of him as the trader s agent, and the trader 
an agent of others in a plot to deprive them of then- 
rights. It was a scheme, they were told, to which the 
government had given its encouragement. 

Even now the speculator was ready to repeat his ad 
venture ; in truth, he had need of haste to leave the 
post, as the Doctor seemed curious about him. His 
former ride awed his purpose but little, and he now 
hired two axemen at the camp, a compass and chain, 
and so soon as he was ready for the work these men 
would serve him. He felt at ease, that the small band 
when sober would not molest him, if he guarded his 
movements. Success required that he should know 
the area of the timber land, so as to exhibit, in good 
shape, the best attractions of the steal. He knew the 
depth by a measurement along the bluff, and now to 
obtain its length he started out again. He had been 
careful to hide his plans from the trader and the 

His aides were found in waiting, the survey began, 
and while running his lines through the high grass, he 
was seen by Cartwright. The night before, the chief 
had returned from the hunt, and the thief wanted no 
better evidence than this to convict the trader of bad 
faith in the eyes of the Indian. He rode fast, concealed 
by the woods, to find the savage, who was easily led to 
a hiding-place, where both eyed the shark unseen. In 

234 SNAP. 

thiit brief moment the redskin became a bloodthirsty 

The Colonel, during the absence of his train, had 
spare moments to spend with his daughter on the porch. 
Mary s long formed, most earnest wish was to gain her 
father s consent to the building of a church and school- 
house, but he with some indecision had put it aside. 
He now gave way, willing to yield on condition that 
she would come round a little to his own crotchet. 
His age had called to. mind that she ought to be 
settled and cared for. 

"So you want to see me married?" She spoke 
frankly, after he had said as much by hint. 
" Shure, child, why not? " he answered. 
"So you shall, all in good time, father; wonder 
what Mister John would think to hear you talk in that 

She rose, whispering in his ear some secret of her 
heart, and he turned suddenly. 

" Not Charley? " he asked in surprise. 
"No, no, father; would you have me marry a 

She saw the Judge standing near, and she hastily 
entered the house. 

While Mary and her father stood on the porch at a 
later hour, a patrol rode up ; gun-tiring had been heard, 
and when he left his line the train was in sight. 

" All right," the old man said with a pleased face ; 
" Now, Mary, give the boys the best in the house when 


they come ; call Chloe an have a set-out ; I ll tend the 

Whack was brought in and put to bed in charge of 
the Doctor and Mary, while Lu, whose sympathy was 
quickly warmed, fell into the kindly office of nurse, 
without so much as the asking. Wha<-k, after long, 
long hours of her tender care, thought he had never 
seen her look so sweet, as when she came on tip 
toe to his bedside. It is more than likely, she had 
never before taken so much pains to look her best. 
Mary too, seemed to take an amiable delight in bring 
ing the two together, and as she had once rebuked his 
fancy for Jane, she seemed to make amends with Lu, 
and Whack began to wonder. 

For her adopted brother Mary had a very lovable 
respect ; she knew his good traits, few faults, and that 
her father liked him ; but she knew and felt too, that 
his own fancy was for other scenes than those to which 
her own heart was bound, so long as her father lived. 
Whack felt a twofold pleasure in being nursed, and in 
nursing his wonder; he threw aside his banter, for 
Jumper was long since out of his way, and with the 
natural humor of youth, gave back to Lu look for 
look. Never before, in her young, staid life, had 
Mary felt the luxury of doing good, with such pecu 
liar joy. Lu, in the daily whisperings with Mary, 
shared her secret with another, and under such re 
straint became timid in the arts of her sex, and was 
artless and purely herself. Thus allured, Whack was 
moved to a frank, open manner ; in tu. ii his words 

236 SNAP. 

moved her heart, and thrilled it with a music even 
her dreams had never heard. Little blue-eyes was in 

Mary may have heard some stray note of the rhap 
sody, at least she felt it, and she caught Lu at times 
and held her. She talked to her often of a true wife s 
life as her own rare faith believed it should be. .Her 
friend was happy as her love grew deeper, stronger, 
and trustingly Lu felt the pride of her sex, in the 
counsel of one among the truest. 

Even the old man began to suspect, and he would 
tease Lu, and beg her to tell him exactly what she 
thought of Charley ; the scout too looked askant at 

Sitting by his cot the Colonel said : 

" Charley, thar s nuthen in the warehouses." 

" I know, and fall trade s open in New York." 

"Will you go back thar?" 

"Right off, as soon as I m well." 

"If thar s anything in the way, you ken say to the 
girl for me, that I ll give you both a fair start in life ; 
now git well soon." 

The young man s emotion kept him still, and the 
trader went on : 

"Lu has got sumpin of her own, but let her reckon 
it all up, boy, an I ll kiver it all for you, do you hyar." 

The lad who had always shown to him a ready 
obedience, harsh as the order sometimes was ; who 
had fought his way across the plains, and was thereby 
" edicated," had claims upon him he was ready to 


meet. Whack was about to speak, but the old man 
had his say without allowing his thanks : 

" Sparking is a good enuf sort of thing in its way, 
but bisnis is bisnis, sell ; " he turned back from the 
door to add, with a twinkle in his eye: "An she s 
pooty, Charley, an a very good sorter girl." 

What passed between the young people after this 
was theirs to keep, but one evening, as time sped on, 
the light and shade flung from the vine lay golden on 
her head ; she heard the cool, fresh ripple of the 
stream, and his words were like it, so delicious are 
love s first minutes. She sprang up from the cotside, 
and her kiss-warmed cheek was as bright as a fleck of 
the sunset. 

Mary heard Lu s quick step in the hall ; she turned 
and saw her standing in the doorway, her eyes all 
deeply blue. Her words were spoken over the form 
she drew close to her breast, and Lu s whispered an 
swer was : 

"He s mine ; he s mine." 

Whack was easily captured, bound down as he was 
by plaster and splint. The little trapper, in whose 
heart love lighted its camp-fire, took the young man s 
scalp with a glance of her eyes. 

238 SNAP. 



After breakfast the Judge made his appearance, tak 
ing a seat near the trader, on the porch. 

rf You look kinder tired, Jedge," said the old man ; 
"jine me in a smoke." 

"I don t mind," he replied, as he drew up his chair. 

" What about my horse ? " 

"I gave him to the patrol." 

"So they stripped you, did they, Jedge?" 

" Well, yes ; you see, Colonel, they rallied after being 
routed." And he whipped round to the first subject his 
wits caught at, and said : " How has trade prospered 
with you ? " 


" Before long you ll be a millionaire ? " 

"No, seh; not half, an it s cost blood and sweat 
enuf for the other half, an no thanks neether. How 
do you get on, Jedge ? " 

"I ve done well, but it was shrewdness, nothing 
else ; we ve got to be smart, you know. Why, you 
see, Colonel, I buy land grants, and lend money, and 
when a settler comes to squat on a hundred and sixty 
acre tract, at one dollar twenty-five cents an acre, I 
let him have the money to pay for it, on credit ; uovv, 


you see, I take his note for twelve months, at two per 
cent, interest a month, and a mortgage for security. 
You know, Colonel, no settler can make it up in a 
yeah, on raw prairie ; they break the sod, grow sick 
from malaria, die or move away. Well, I foreclose ; 
get land, improvements and all; first cost to me, next 
to nothing. The law only lows me one tract, as a 
settler, but in this way, Colonel, why, I own whole 
townships ; " and the Judge s air was that of one well 
pleased with himself, but the Colonel bit his tongue to 
keep the word " shark " from slipping. He made ex 
cuse, at once, to part with the Judge s company and 
hastened off. 

Whack was ordered to New York ; Lu was to go 
with him, and with her aunt s consent they were to be 
married at her own home. As the boat was expected 
he sought Mary in her retreat, and found her sewing 
on a piece of needle finery, a souvenir for Lu. Now 
and then she held it up in the light and smiled at the 
witchery of each stitch, and on the lovable little things 
entwined in its meshes. Looking up she saw Whack 
standing near. He was no longer a dread for womanly 
caution to hold at arm s length ; he was no longer to 
be feared, when he was the captive of another, so she 
dropped her work, and laid her hand on his should 
ers : 

"Ain t you happy, Whack, old fellow? and your 
scalp is clean gone ; well, now in our happiest hour 
you will let Mary say to you, with all her heart, God 
bless you." 

240 SNAP. 

What followed the veriest spinster might guess ; they 
kissed of course. 

Lu was packing her trunk, and having closed the lid 
she sat musing. She had come to the post a tickle 
little being with views of life childlike and vain, but 
the friendship of Mary had so gained upon her, she 
had grown stronger and better every day, and now 
with a truer spirit she found a happier heart. 

Whack had a parting talk with the trader in his 
office, and he remembered it gratefully all his after life. 
The old man believed in early marriage ; it gave a 
young man, he thought, a purpose in life, raised his 
ambition and trained him for serious work. Whack, 
in his, the trader s belief, was the beau ideal of a can 

Beck met Whack as he came away from the office, 
and with warmth of feeling he said : 

" I m sorry you re going ; come back as soon as you 
can, this yeah s the best place for you." 

When the whistle was heard the old man took Lu in 
his arms, Mary and she embraced in tears and Chloe 
cast the shoe as they all went down to the landing. 
Whack and Lu were seen far away side by side on the 
deck of the boat, and as they in turn looked back, 
they saw the form of the scout ; he leaned on his 

" Come Mary, let s go to work," said Doctor Tom 
after her friends had gone ; he saw that she longed for 
them and was lonesome. 

"Where will we go, Doctor?" 


" Into the wing ; we can assort and arrange your 
father s collection ; and make the place a sort of 

Together they went to the little room stored with 
the odds and ends of savage customs and warfare, oi 
the border garb and weapons, and the Doctor sat down 
in a chair. Above his head, the steel-pointed spear 
and arrows and a Navajo s battle club, hung on a 
quaintly woven blanket. 

" Just see, Mary, with what labor these savages 
work to destroy ; those weapon-points are beaten into 
shape with stones ; what must their hate be?" he said, 
looking up. 

" I ve just read a book written in the East ; it throws 
all the blame for all the strife on us ; that s not 
right," she answered, taking up a reed whistle of the 
Seminole, and a long, sinew-bound bow of the Apache, 
which she hung up side by side ; the one listless, the 
other unstrung. 

"Eastern people are educated by reading novels, to 
a romantic admiration of the red man ; their philan 
thropy is safe because it is distant ; they re sincere 
because they are ignorant, but we know ; we have had 
our goods and children stolen, our houses burned, our 
wives and people murdered." 

The Doctor was hanging, on a scalping knife driven 
into the plaster, the feathered head-gear of a Sioux 
warrior, and with it his tomahawk, pipe, moccasins, 
wampum and bullet-pouch ; they were laid on a 
dressed fawn skin embroidered with stained quills ; 

242 SNAP. 

these he circled with a hide thong, the bridle of these 

"Now, this is the dress and outfit of what they call 
a brave," he said, as he finished the group ; tf he was a 
warrior, and the best that can be said of him is, that 
he was enduring, self-reliant, cunning; a lazy loafer 
about his camp one day, he was a swooping demon the 
next ; an abject beggar or a daring thief as circum 
stances warrant ; lying to him was one of the fine arts ; 
licentious without generosity, treacherous in all his 
acts and dealings, most cold-blooded, and full of in 
ventions in the refinements of cruelty, he was a most 
dangerous and terrible animal ; he fought to the death 
when cornered, but it is as the wolf fights, who neither 
gives nor expects mercy ; there is a total lack of that 
courage which prompts men to fight from a sense of 
duty ; craft with him was better than courage." The 
Doctor was standing on a chair as he warmed up to 
his subject, and he resembled an auctioneer crying 
down the things before him. "Hand me up the lot to 
your right, Mary, which I have assorted." 

One by one she gave him the outfit of the Mexican ; 
calzoneros trimmed with round plated buttons ; kirge 
roweled spurs, like those the vaqueros wore, with little 
bells that tinkled at every motion ; the faded poncho, 
the scarlet sash, the horse-hair cord bridle, the cruel 
bit, the black, glazed sombrero of brigandish cut ; 
these the Doctor set in the coil of a split hide lasso, 
flexible as a whip-lash. 

" Well, then, Doctor, why should these people write 


and talk this way ? I have great sympathy for the In 
dian children and women," said Mary, taking up the 
thread of the conversation. 

"Well, Mary, it is just this: a man surrounded by 
the influence of a moral, cultivated society has no 
conception of the Indian character; the truth is simply 
too shocking, and the revolted mind takes refuge in dis 
belief; as to the children, take the Indian as a boy; 
his models are men great and renowned in degree as 
they are ferocious from the number of scalps they have 
taken, or the thefts they have committed ; there is no 
right or wrong to him, his own will is law ; his only 
instruction is to fit him best to act a part in the 
chase, in theft, and in murder; he is taught all that is 
necessary to savage life, nothing more ; privation 
teaches endurance ; when he has food he eats to reple 
tion, when he has none he hunts for it ; if he has 
clothing he wears it, if not, he is happy in leggins and 
paint ; he is patient, for time is nothing to him ; he is 
never homesick, because all places are equally his 
home ; virtue, morality, generosity, honor are words 
not only absolutely without significance to him, but 
are not accurately translatable into an Indian language 
of the plains." 

" I hope you don t do them injustice, Doctor," said 

" Oh, no, my young friend, not injustice. I wish my 
voice could be heard all over the land, for it is only 
by knowing what the Indian really is, that ever he will 
be pitied ; if he is left as he is, he ll be annihilated. 

244 SNAP. 

No, Mary, it is a mistake that will prove most cruel to 
the Indian ; he must be known as he is ; the grandest 
exploits, and the noblest virtues to the Indian are com 
prehended in the English words, theft, pillage, rapine, 
murder ; he can expect no honor from man or love 
from woman, until he has taken a scalp or stolen a 
horse, and he who crawls upon a sleeping enemy and 
kills him before he can awaken, is a better warrior and 
entitled to more praise, than he who kills his enemy in 
a fair fight ; a scalp is a scalp with him ; the tender 
cuticle of an infant, the " long, foir hair " of a helpless 
woman, are as dearly prized as the grizzled scalp-lock 
of the veteran of a hundred fights.* 


"Now hand me that collection, Mary, near you; 
that s the rig of the fellows who have tried to open the 
way for civilization ; what blood it has cost." 

Piece by piece she gave him the costume of the 
American frontiersman ; the deerskin hunting-shirt 
with fringed skirt and leggins alike, shoes of parfleche, 
the coon-skin cap with fox-tail drooping from it ; the 
long-stocked Kentucky rifle, the hunting-knife, from 
which the Bowie was a copy, and other things of the 

" How I wish the strife was over ; " she said with a 
sigh, "this has been my wish all these long years, but 
you give me little hope." 

* The substance of this conversation, wherein the Doctor speaks of the 
Indian, is borrowed almost verbatim from " The Plains of the Great We&t; " 
Lieut -Col. R.I. Dodge, U. S. A, and the introduction to the same, by 
William Blackmore. The author has taken the broad liberty to appropriate 
and adapt, so that his own opiuioii of the Indian, which coincides, may not 
stand unsupported. 


"Well, child, it s only the story of the world, of the 
race of mankind ; it has been written, you know, in 
blood; heroes and martyrs, the strong to slay, the 
weak to perish ; man to be great must dare and suffer 
so long as there is cruelty or wrong ; when there is 
none then comes the millenium." 

Mary had come to her father simply taught in the 
principles of duty, by those to whom the sense of it 
was inherent ; she had taken her place scarce knowing 
what she did beyond the impulse of that duty ; it was 
a part whose trials she little kneAV, and would have 
shrunk from them as little, had she known. Her 
presence was the first sign of social form through which 
has come the after rule of church and school, the after 
peace of law and order ; and whatever her trials be, 
though floodlike they come, there is another tide to 
bear to her a blessing for every tear. 

She and the Doctor were now assorting the minor 
curios; the wide-spreading horns of a Texan, the 
antlers of a moose, the twisted butters of a mountain- 
goat, the hoof of a lead-ox, labelled "Blaze," a grizzly 
bear s claws, the tail of a stallion, the wicker cradle of 
a papoose, the guarache of a peon, rifles, short and !<>ng, 
of scout and trapper ; and the Doctor hung up an ante 
lope s head, vis-a-vis with a grinning catamount s. They 
kept at their work steadily, for it seemed to please 
Mary to hear the Doctor talk. 

The redskins near by were " showing their teeth," 
and the scout knew that the pirate s malice was work 
ing the mischief. Stray cattle and horses were stolen, 

246 SNAP. 

the vaqneros and patrols were shot at, a hay-stack was 
set on fire ; the men were growing restive. It was 
these alarms that had taken him away so often. Beck 
had tried to bring about a parley to pacify the few, and, 
by presents, to win them to friendliness ; but he found 
them cross and hateful, and, in degree as they became 
more and more so, he measured the infamy of the thief. 
The scout also thought he might put danger aside by 
seeking the chief on the plains, to arouse against Cart- 
wright a counter feeling, and he was about to take 
the trail when the patrol sent word of the tribes 

All this wore upon the man s manner, and Mary saw 
under an unreal cheer, his trouble of mind ; her eyes 
followed and haunted him with a thousand ugly fears. 
Happily for those who sped the glad hours under the 
trader s roof, the chief was slow to act ; he let his tem 
per grow hot by degrees, kept his own counsel and 

"Good bye, Mary," said Beck, as he rode up on his 
horse to the window of the wing. 

"Where are you going, Mister John?" 
" To look about for pirates ; mus go ; " and he spoke 
wearily, as one needing peace and rest. 

She gave him an anxious glance. "Must go?" she 
asked, "when will the time come to say you won t 

"Jus when the law says so, and the government sees 
that the law is carried out ; then we won t have to take 
the law in our hands, and it ll hunt and hang a thief 
like Cart wright." 


" That ll be a long time, John Beck ; it has been put 
off up to our time, and the children of to-day, out here, 
will say the same thing when they are Town." 

" Will we never have peace ? " asked Mary. 

"Not till we make it by fighting down its foe," said 
the Doctor. 

"if your father and me, Mary, hold back, they d 
come like wolves and chaw us up ; " the scout added. 

"Who, the Indians?" she asked. 

"Not allers the Injins, they re bad enough; but the 
sharks and pirates." 

"Beck means the squaw-men, the Indian name for 
what wo whites call the pirates," said the Doctor. 

"What s a squaw-man?" she asked. 

" Bill Cartwright ; " answered the speaker. " Living 
among these tribes are outcasts, American, French, 
Mexican, the lowest refuse spewed out by the society 
in which they were born ; they bring with them horses, 
sufficient not only to make friends, but to buy one or 
more squaws and a tepee, to enable them to set up 
housekeeping ; the squaws draw rations from the 
Agencies for themselves and their children. Having 
more natural shrewdness than the Indian, they soon 
gain ascendancy. These are the men who furnish arms, 
and supply whiskey. At his own best game, in lying, 
stealing, drinking, and debauchery, the squaw-man is 
so far superior to the Indian, as to gain admiration ; it 
is from these men that the Indians get their ideas of the 
character, capacity, morality, and religion of white men. 
These ruffians, with their half-breed children, are fed 

248 SNAP. 

and fostered by the government ; they are adepts in the 
Indian language, and all the intercourse between the 
government and the Indians is filtered through them, 
and partakes of their character; full of duplicity, 
treachery, and evasion." * 

"Good by, Mister John," Mary said, as Beck turned 
his horse to ride off, " a batter day will come." 

"May be," he answered, as a sudden shade passed 
over his face ; he turned and rode away. Mary sat 
down, and over her own fair features a shadow swept, 
from the strong man s mood. The talk of the Doctor 
and the scout had chilled her spirits ; suddenly she 
seemed to take in the wider scope of the dangers 
about them. She knew, as all on the border knew, 
that the braver pioneers fought the battles and were 
swept away ; passed away from the memory of a 
thankless government. It was a solemn truth for a 
young woman to think upon ; hate was burning in the 
heart of the white and the red man, a consuming fire, 
like the gust-flames of the prairie. How soon would 
her fair dream vanish, her hopes to blackened cinders 
turn, and the scene so dear to her, withered and 
scorched, be scattered to the winds? 

" I am sorry, Doctor, for all you have said about the 
Indian ; and I wonder where Mister John is gone ? " 
the thought of him raised a spirit of womanly cour 
age, and she caught a gleam of the brighter side. " I 
reckon," she added, "we ll fight it through." This 
was a new phase of faith ; hitherto her prayer had been 

* " The Plains of the Great West." 


that peace would come, to spring like early flowers 
around a church and school; now had dawned upon 
her an idea of a struggle ; it found her armed in soul 
for the bitterest moinent^and all that courage needed 
lay deep and warm. 

While the Doctor and Mary were still at work, 
Judge Smith, sauntering by, came into the room. To 
the Doctor his appearance was always a provocation ; 
not that he hated the man, but he mistrusted him, and 
the Judge always managed in some unhappy way to 
wake the other s ire by touching upon some unpleasant 
subject ; he was prone to take the part of the Indian, 
in order, as the Doctor believed, to cover up some 
hidden scheme wherein the Indian was concerned. 

"Hello, Doctor," he said, in a manner to irritate, 
"you re at work among your friends." 

" Who do you mean by my friends ? " 

"The Indians." 

"I m a better friend of the Indian, Judge, than you. 
I m not an intermeddler, seh, trying to break up what 
the law and treaty have established ; what little law we 
have and whatever sense there may be in a treaty with 

a savage." 

The Judge winced, for the Doctor, perhaps without 
knowing, was treading heavily on his corns. 

"Well, the Indian feels that he is being crowded 
and pushed back ; that s only human nature." 

" I tell you there s very little of human nature about 
him, seh ; its all inhuman. Trade is a pioneer, and 
while it seeks to open a way for civilization, it has not 


been hard on the Indian. Its motive has always been 
to conciliate ; it Avould have profited by friendly 
alliance with him." 

" Oh, he don t understand these things." 

" He understands only too well the law of his own 
rights ; can t he be made to feel the law that values 
human life and sets a penalty on murder? If the 
white man was not a brave, patient enemy, and should 
he rise to resent in force, he would reform the evils 
with the snap o the whip and the crack o the rifle ; he 
would reform them altogether." 

* You expect too much of the Indian, and not enough 
of the white man." 

" 1 don t consider a man white who tampers with the 
passions of a savage, or in any way incites him to 
revenge." The Doctor was growing warm. " There are 
too many Cartwrights on the highways of our progress, 
seh ; we want scouts, honest, fearless guides on the 
open plain of action ; sentinels to cry the hour and 
the " all s well " of peaceful pursuits ; that s what we 
want, seh." 

Just then the voice of Chloe was heard screaming, 
which at once broke up the squabble between the Doc 
tor and the Judge, and brought them to the door. 
Mary was there first. 

" What s the matter?" she asked. 

" He s begunned agin, honey." 


" Dat chicken ; dar now, foh de lah chile, he s gone 


an done it agin." She was watching the rooster, and 
he had climbed the fence to the mystical number of 
three times ; each time he had crowed lustily, and she 
was in a sore strait of mind. 

252 SNAP. 



Cheviteau had striven through all his life to keep 
alive good feeling and good faith with the Indian ; not 
alone from prudence but from a really generous nature ; 
he was sure to punish those under him for an infraction 
of this rule. There had been many vicious, spiteful 
tricks played upon him by the redskins near the post, 
but with a manly disregard he let them pass. He was 
not blind, and he knew that his gifts to them were re 
ceived, not as gratuities, but as tributes he was 
bound to pay to placate a secret foe. In degree as 
success helped him on, as his trade and thrift grew to 
a blooming bay-tree, the jealousy of the savage warmed, 
his hate deepened, and he stared with eyes full of tire. 
It was by the strictest cautions that the trader lived in 
peace ; it was in waiting a chance that the Indian per 
mitted this peace by sufferance, and the old man felt 
that there was a spark burning low, anou to burst into 

On the morning after Lu and Charley had departed, 
Mary was seated under the vines, and saw Beck mount 
his horse, ride off, and she watched him until he was 
seen to take a trail to the prairie. 


Cartwright dogged the steps of the chief whispering 
his venemous and deadly lies ; he urged, he plead, and 
at last he saw the lines in the face of the savage fixed 
for revenge. What he would do was soon known. 
He smeared his breast that his band might behold 
a mark true to their own malice. He folded a 
blanket over his shoulders, snatched up his rifle and 
tomahawk, and strode away. They looked after him 
on the trail he had taken to the post. 

Later in the day, while Mary and her father stood 
on the porch, a patrol rode up to say, that a chief 
had been halted on their line ; he wanted to have " a 
big talk" with the white man, "the man with the 
whip." A guard was sent for, and as the patrol rode 
away, Mary spoke to her father, quickly : 

"I don t like this." 

"Why, child?" 

" I don t like it ; something tells me that this Indian 
means no good." 

" You re kinder outer sorts, Mary, that s all." 

"I hope so, father, indeed." 

" Go in then ; he won t come nigh you." 

The chief was well known to the trader ; known to 
be taciturn, and suspected of being a thief. He was 
crafty; a little more so than most of his kind, which 
passed for a better trait ; he kept hidden but hot the 
antipathies of his race. The patrol came with him and 
stayed near at hand with the guard. 

" How ! " was the blunt greeting of the trader. He 
felt sore at the thought, that by the aid of this tribe 

254 SNAP. 

Mary had been stolen, and the. scout knew that it was 
now in collusion with the pirate. Hence the old man 
was civil, nothing more. 

To the white man s words the chief was cold and 
stiff", and turned his eyes away, fixed on the cabins in 
the distance. He walked to the rear of the dwelling, 
and then spoke to the Colonel in broken English : 

"Heap house," he said, pointing to those in the 

The trader nodded. 

"Heap blanket?" 


" Me he see urn." 

" No." 

" Me him no see um . " 

A shake of the head was the answer ; the chief eyed 
the other and paused. 

" Heap ox ? " he went on. 

" Yes." 

" Heap mens you ? " 


"How much heap mens you?" 

"Heap;" said the Colonel, not caring to give him 
an inch, as the Indian would be sure to grasp at an 

Mary brought some food, and her father, in the hope 
that it might move the visitor to a better temper, said 
she might offer it ; Mary motioned the Indian to the 
shade of a tree, but to the surprise of both he drew 
himself up, refolded his blanket, and turned his back. 


Cheviteau was quick to see and to speak, almost 
angrily : 

" Take it away ; " then turning his steps towards the 
office, the Indian followed him. The quick, bold 
glance of the one, was much at variance with the calm 
manner of the other as he offered a pipe ; it was re 

Big Ian you heap ? " 

The old man rose from his seat to point through the 
open window to the far-off line of his estate, miles 
away, where it lay close upon the timber of the tribe. 

" Injin s you steal um," said the chief, looking 
over the trader s shoulder, and hissing his words. 

"No ; " answered the other tirmly. 

" No steal um you." 

" No, me heap Ian." 

" Injin, he no go." 

" No." 

" Big father, you tell um." 


" Injin go way." 

"No," the trader said, with a glimpse at the evil 
lodged in the other s mind, "No; me Injin s fren ; 
good fren, me no lie." 

" Good," was the reply given with a grunt. 

The savage was about to leave the office with a more 
friendly disposition, when his eye searched out in a 
corner near the door, the compass and chain which the 
Judge, in the trader s absence, had placed there. 

Cheviteau, much surprised, not knowing that these 

256 SNAP. 

harmless tools were fraught with cruel evils, treated the 
matter lightly ; but on sight a fiend entered the soul 
of his foe. As the trader stooped to look at them, 
the savage clutched his tomahawk ; he would have 
dealt a death-blow, but the guard looked in at the 
window. When the Colonel raised up, the chief had 
stepped aside, and casting back upon him a look of 
fierce enmity he strode out of the room. The old man 
shook his head. 

While this "talk" took place at the post, the patrol 
at a distant point had caught thieves with cattle belong 
ing to the drove, and in trying to reclaim them shots 
were fired and an Indian killed. 

It was the chief s son. 

The trader closed his oifice to seek his daughter, to 
whom he always came when in trouble, to borrow a 
little of her calm courage. 

" I don t like the looks of that chief, father," she 
said, " but then, we have nothing to fear, for we ve 
tried to be just to them." 

rf Oh, he s like all of em ; they hate the whites." 

A commotion in the camp drew their eyes in that 
direction, and they saw the scout on Kitty turn away, 
riding with mad haste towards the house. 

" Sumpin s gone wrong," the Colonel said. Beck 
drew up before them, and getting down, he said to his 
employer : 

" Has the chief been heah? " 


" Tell me all about it ; quick, Peter." 


Mary stepped down from the porch, and alarmed at 
the scout s manner, she laid her hand on his arm, as if 
about to speak. He looked into the pale face at his 
side and said : 

" Thau s no great danger now, Mary." 

" But what is it? " she asked. 

" You ll know as we go on ; how was it, Peter? " 

" Well, the redskin wanted to see inside the ware 

"Didn t you let him?" 


"Wrong, wrong, Peter; thar s nothin in em, and 
he d seen thar was nothin to steal." 

"You know my rule, John." 

" Go on." 

" I brought him something to eat," said Mary. 

"Didn t he take it?" 

" No ; he refused it with scorn." 

" Bad." 

" I saw," Mary added, " as he unfolded his blanket, 
the black and red stripes on his breast." 

" Bad ; war-paint." 

" He axed me," said her father, " if I wanted his 

" Go on, I see." 

" I said no." 

" Well." 

" He was moving off, when he seed in a corner that 
ar compass and chain." 

" What ! Who put em thar ? " 

258 SNAP. 

"That s what kinder puzzles me; the Jedo-e, I 

" The cold-blooded idiot ! Whar is he ? " 

" Gone ! " said the voice of Doctor Tom, who had 
come up unnoticed and stood before them. "Yes, seh, 
the shark is gone. AVhat have I told you all along? 
You ve been feeding and feasting a scoundrel in dis 
guise, Peter ; a heartless sneak, who, having stirred 
the hate of these Indians by an act of treachery and a 
mean, secret scheme, has left us to bear the brunt." 
He strode off in a bad humor. 

They all remembered now that for a day or two the 
Judge had not been seen about the place. He had, 
after months of waiting, accomplished his purpose and 
had taken the first boat to steal away from the hospita 
ble house. 

"If the shark was heah, I d hang him," said the 
scout, stamping the earth in anger. " What did the 
chief say and do ? " 

" All at once, with a face as black as a cloud, he left 
the office, John." 

" And he s raised the war-whoop and will fio-ht us 

" Is that so ? " 

"True as you live." 

" What do yer know, John ? Tell me all." 

" Twix the shark and the pirate it has been brought 

" I treated these Injins well." 


" So you did. Even Cartwright couldn t stir em up, 
till this pinch-faced shyster took a hand." 

ft What has the Jedge been do in ? " 

" Surveyi u their lans, and the thief made em believe 
it was meant to steal them away." 

" The Judge is a fool." 

" A fool ! that Judge is as bad as a pirate." 

" Can t we parley with em ? " 

" No, it s too late ; while you and the chief were 
talking, his son was shot by the patrol." 

" Shot ! I told the patrol never to fire less they was 
fired on." 

" Jus so ; they were fired on, and they fired back ; I 
was on the plains when all this was going on, and when 
I came in sight they had jes brought in the body, and 
thar was a big rumpus. You could heah em, Peter, 
for a mile. I saw the chief when he came back. I 
saw him raise his tomahawk before the tribe, and I 
fled. Now, Peter," he added slowly, " they ll be 
down on us like h 11 broke loose." > 

If the scout had thought of Mary s presence, he 
would have held back his words. She was still stand 
ing near him as he spoke, biting her almost bloodless 

"What must I do, Mister John? Show me what I 
must do, I won t flinch." 

" Well, Mary," he answered, and taking her hand in 
his, he led her to the door of the house, " I ll see that 
you re safe." She called Chloe, and went about her 
work, looking sad, but calm. 

260 SNAP. 

" John Beck," said the old man, as the scout joined 
him, "this hyar s my fight, an we ll give no quarter. 
The hound fus stole my chile, then he struck my 
trains, slayed the men ; now he s comin down on us 
with them panthers. I se got no marcy in my heart. 

" Fight we must, Peter, and fight our best, for 
they re more n five to one of us." 

" Before mornin we ken hold our own ; they ll have 
their pow-wow an war-dance." 

rt That ll give us time to choke em off. I ll yoke up 
the teams." The scout leaped to his horse s back and 
rode away. 

The old man entered his house, and he, who but an 
hour before had shown in his step the slow but sure fail 
ing of age, now moved with a firmer tread ; the eyes, 
that now and then drooped aweary, shone with the 
sparkle of his youth ; changed, as by magic, the face 
of the man was of iron ; the lips closed tightly over 
the jutting chin. Throwing down his coat on the 
porch, he hurried through the hall in search of his 
daughter. The heavy, riveted shutters were closed 
and barred, and a dim light struggled through the 
round loop-holes, pierced at the top. He found Mary 
and Chloe ; in every corner they had placed muskets 
brought from the attic arsenal. They had provisions 
at hand, and candlesticks and candles in handy 

Mary saw the change in her parent s face ; she threw 
her arms about his neck, saying : 

"Let us trust in God, father; that s best." 


He drew her close to him, with a fond look ; then he 
spoke to Chloe : 

"You re a good soul, old woman, an I won t forget 
you, neither." 

" Oh, sah," she answered, with a shake of her head, 
" ets dat chicken, nuffin else ; I dun tole yer so." 

On going out again he met Beck coming from the 
camp with a number of men, and his horse was stand 
ing ready for him. 

" Scout, I ll start the drove down country, an let the 
drivers give the alarm as they go." 

" Right, Peter." 

" Have you yoked up ? " 

tf Yes, I ll send the stock after the drove." 

" Good." 

"Whar s the axes, Peter?" 

" In number three, an muskets an powder enuf fer 
a rigiment," he answered, mounting his horse, and 
then galloped off . 

Loud were the whip-snaps as the train came up in 
line ; Beck s commands were heard above the din , and 
the sound of the axe broke in upon the babel of voices. 
Standing in position to direct its movements, with his 
sleeves rolled to the elbows, his glossy beard filling his 
open collar, and his form drawn to its full height, John 
Beck looked his best. 

" Lively," he called out ; w every minit counts." 

Again the whips snapped fiercely. The lead team 
had neared the space between the office and adjoining 
house, when he again called out : 

262 SNAP. 

" Wheel in on the run." 

The first wagon grazed the side of the house, the 
cattle coming into the circle, and when on line with its 
front, he ordered : 


They were then filed in, one after the other, locking 
wheels, until the space between the two houses, begin 
ning at the office, was compactly closed ; all the spaces 
were shut up in this way, completing a circular and 
strong barricade around the dwelling. 

While this was in progress the drive of the cattle 
was heard ; the vaqueros spurring hither thither, on 
the road to the river, and thick clouds of dust rose and 
darkened the scene. Cheviteau was seen on his horse, 
and when the drove took the stream, rising the oppo 
site bank, he rode back to the post. Beck pushed his 
work, and each team was taking its place, closing up 
the spaces. 

"Now Peter," he said, in haste, "look to the 
wagons, I ll go to work with the axes ; heah, come on 
a dozen of you ; fall to, an let the chips fly." 

Beck planted his heels where he stood ; he raised 
his arms and his frame swayed, with his weight and 
strength combined ; his body moving on a pivot, the 
axe was driven to the eye in the yielding fibre, and 
blocks of the green, juicy wood, flew about him. 

All but one of the open spaces were closed, and 
Beck now hitched his teams to the fallen timber, drag 
ging it to the barricade. Long and strong poles were 
trimmed, drawn up and thrust between the spokes of 


the front wheels, the ends resting against the storehouse 
fronts, holding each wagon from being drawn back ; 
then crotches were cut, driven into the ground and set 
against the front axles to prevent their being forced 
forward ; they were thus locked and blocked. This 
done, the tree-tops were also trimmed; poles were 
propped against the houses across the spaces by longer 
crotches, planted ; then the brush was piled above the 
beds, interlapped between the poles and forced into a 
twisted mass ; the abattis of sharp points reaching to 
the roofs. 

The trader had ordered his patrol forward on the 
plain as skirmishers, to fall back upon a sign of the 
enemy. He now looked about to every need of the 
garrison, and with a squad drove to the river. Filling 
his casks, on his return two oxen were slaughtered. 

Beck had thrown open the warehouses and made 
openings between the logs for the muskets, to drive 
back the savage with his torch. He found an old, but 
good-sized cannon, which had been bought from a 
wreck, and had been used on its deck as a swivel. 
Thrown aside as junk, Beck now put it to use. 

The road to the house from the river was deeply cut 
into the bank, a wide defile, and led into the inclosure. 
Beck thought it the weakest spot of his defiance to the 
foe. He had crossed it with timbers and tree-tops, 
still it would require many men to defend it, so he 
masked the swivel in the brush, and having loaded it, 
he felt sure of its terrible aid. 

Wagons were ranged inside of the barricade, from 

264 SNAP. 

one point to another across the space, in front of 
and to the rear of the dwelling, in two lines, between 
which the men would be stationed, and where their 
muskets were now stacked. 

Cato and Chloe worked with a good will at the oven, 
and Mary overlooked the baking. She came now and 
then to the door of the cabin to gaze about her with 
restless eyes, and her father and the scout saw the look 
with doubt and pain. 

At last, as the work was done, Beck mounted a 
wagon, and casting down his hat as he wiped his brow, 
he said, with a brave, proud smile : 

"Now, d n em, they can come ; boys, take rest." 




As Beck threw down his hat, ordering his men to 
take rest, Mary rushed from the cabin kitchen, to make 
her way, in haste, to the mare. 

" We ve forgotten the women and children ; come 
along, Mister John." 

In another moment she mounted Kitty, and rode 
off through the one opening in the barricade. The 
scout on the trader s horse, rode after her. 

Arriving at the hamlet she soon stilled the fears of 
the camp-folk, and taking up a babe from a mother 
who had a number of little ones clinging about her, 
she placed the young rogue on the saddle-bow 
with its smiling face turned wonderingly up to her 
own. She led the crowd to the house within the safer 
limits of the fortified inclosure, and found that her 
father had served to the wearied men a substantial 
meal. They loaded their guns as they ate. The use 
of buckshot and slugs was a sign of close, hot work 
at short range. 

In the dwelling Mary looked to the comfort and 
needs of her small colony ; the rooms were turned into 
a camp. In her dread, that the house might finally be 
made as the fight grew to be desperate and the 

266 SNAP. 

numbers of the foe overpowering a place of retreat 
or last resort, she put the women to work, and cleared 
away every convenient space for full, free action. 
This done, they sat down in silence, listening for the 
yell of the foe, and the crack of the rifle. 

Leading a few of the feebler children to her own 
room, Mary placed them on the bed to be cared for 
by their mothers. In a corner of the room, on a 
stand, rested the old family Bible. She had brought 
with her a musket, which she took up and held to the 
dim tlame of the candle. Handling it firmly the light 
flared and threw a fitful gleam on the features of the 
heroic girl. 

" An wat wud ye be doin wid the gun, chile ? " asked 
a tremulous voice in the darkness. 

" Heaven only grant that I need not do anything ; 
but, if I must defend these babes from the knife, with 
God s help, I ll use it." 

She placed the gun near the Bible stand, and passed 
out into the hall. The Doctor s parrot followed her ; 
the patter of its feet on the bare hall-floor and the 
screech of its broken voice were dismal sounds in the 
solemn peace of the place. 

All the day long, at the Indian village, the worst 
excess of the savage orgies was kept to the height of 
fury. The dead brave was borne from the cattle foray 
on the shoulders of his fellows. They strode into the 
dark, damp, leaf-covered abode stealthily, through lines 
of wailing squaws, stared at by eyes " snapping fire." 
Hours were given to the wild, weird rites over the 


slain ; the chant of a few old women was caught up 
in the shouts of the crazed wretches. Fires high- 
heaped flamed aloft, and the furies leaped about them, 
blackening their bodies with cinders. Through it all, 
now and again, was heard the shriller war-whoop ; the 
wolf-growl of the beasts. The chief sat apart, a 
moody ringleader of the blood-thisting crew ; he was 
silent, conning the cruelest wiles to slay. The corpse 
was given up, and as the stars came out one by one, 
the embers of the pyre grew gray. 

The savage rose, motioned to form a council of his 
braves, and they came together squatting in an inner 
circle of the wider one of the tribe beyond. The 
chosen few were ranged near him, to whom he drew 
the picture of a midnight slaughter ; his appeal 
drew them closer, standing on their feet, to join the 
onset, knife in hand. The thief looked on ; each 
painted ruffian held the best improved fire-arm of the 
pirate s traffic. The hour of his vengeance drew 

Beck and the trader had mounted to the outlook, 
and watched during the long hours after dark. Just 
at midnight patrol-firing was heard ; the scout leaped 
from his post, stepped into the camp and ordered the 
men in place. The old man followed him, standing 
near the opening to be ready to close it up as the 
mounted men rode in, and as they passed in a squad 
fell to work and blocked the gap. 
All heah?" asked Beck. 
All," they answered. 

268 SNAP. 

" Down and tie up behind the wagons," he ordered. 

" Is the redskin near ? " asked the trader. 

"Right on us," they said. 

" Light the beacon," commanded the scout, and soon 
the flames flashed upon the black curtain of the dark 

In the house, the watchers waited with beating 

"Hark," whispered a voice, "did yees hear the 

In the dim, restless light of the candle, Mary rose 
and listened ; listened till her face by the awful still 
ness paled, grew sadder, whiter, as she stood intent and 
breathless. Calmly she knelt down, saying: 

" We will pray ; " and about her they knelt, even 
the little ones, turning their eyes in awe upon her form, 
her gentle features, as upon one sent to shield them. 

Save in the snapping of a twig the cat-like step of 
the foe was unheard ; there was a spell-bound hush in 
the pause of caution. Through the screen of the wagons 
the eyes of the men were bent upon the barricade. 
The savages had crept from the council-fire, and they lay 
in sight of the white man s magic reared to foil them. 
Vexed to madness at what he saw, the chief gnashed 
his teeth, for, fearing his tribe, who would turn and 
rend him on the least sign of cowardice, he was com 
pelled to fight. Whispering the signal, he took his 
stand on a knoll, that his voice might reach each sec 
tion of the tribe. Then in the silence that dwelt around 
the low-breathing camps, broke in the challenge ; three 


shrieks sped by an infernal chorus. And now the 
barriers swayed to the wild tiger-like assault ; the 
devils let loose sprang to the wagons ; they tugged at 
the wheels, leaped to the abattis, strained at the twisted 
tree-tops ; through every gap and crevice whizzed their 
balls and arrows ; they yelled like hungry demons, 
snarled like wolves, and heaped and pent upon the 
outer circle, they swarmed like ants. 

Now was heard the sturdy voice of Beck : 

" Ready fire ! " Every gun replied ; the rattling 
shot, the singing slugs tore through the squirming 
mass ; they fell in scores. 

Outside there was a scurry of many feet, and the 
tribe drew back ; then after a brief halt, with shrill 
and flurried shrieks, the redskins threw themselves 
again upon the barricade ; they rushed to the attack 
through the blood- wet grass, they climbed on the 
bodies of the slain, scaled the housetops, hurled the 
tomahawk, and sent a shower of arrows ; some crept 
under the wagons and fired ; they fired from the roofs. 

Once more, the calm, loud voice : 

" Ready fire ! " Again the guns of the white men 
rattled ; it was a deadly chorus ; a summons of awful 
meaning, and the balls cut through with a singing hiss ; 
the foe fell until all about the outer side of the defense 
they lay in heaps. The chief forced the fight, hurling 
his bands in reckless haste upon the barricade, only to 
be slaughtered. It was hot, close, mortal work, such 
as the Indian knew little about, save that in his mad 
ness he fought like a wild beast, and fearing that some 

270 SNAP. 

agency of the daylight might bring succor to the 
whites, he fought on. They strained with, desperate 
strength to tear away the twisted, web-woven lattices of 
green boughs ; they were bent and borne down in 
many places by the weight hurled upon them, but they 
would not break, and as they leaped in bands to the 
wagons, Beck s voice rang out : 

"Ready fire!" 

Foiled with heavy losses, driven back at every 
assault, the chief drew away his stricken tribe. 

"Stand fast, men, thar s more to come," said Beck, 
as he placed his men under the trader s .orders, and 
hastened to the house. Here he put guards at the 
doors, that they might be kept open, in case he had 
need to fall back and take shelter behind them. 

The sounds of the struggle had gone out far beyond 
the post ; every surge of the angry river caught up the 
crash of the guns, mingling with the yells of the horde, 
and bore them away for miles. They were heard by 
the " Pioneer s " captain, who stood still and listened 
long. Again he heard the crack of the muskets louder 
than before, and he ordered silence on deck. Now the 
far-away volley came clearly to his ears. 

"Did you hear that, Carver?" he said to his clerk. 

" I heard it, captain." 

" What do you make it out to be ? " 

" Don t know, sir, but I fear " 

" Well, your fears ; quick." 

" Then Cheviteau s post is struck by the Indians ; 
that s my belief." 


The d 1," he answered, in his rude, off-hand manner, 
"we must take a hand," 

On the lower deck he said to his mate : 

" Send the gang aft." 

"Who, Captain?" 

" The roustabouts, be quick." 

When they came to him, and he had drawn the 
rough crowd around him, he first warmed up their 
courage with a friendly grog, and had stirred their 
mettle with an oath or two, when he told them that the 
savage was at his hellish trade, and the defenseless 
trader at his mercy. He was answered by a shout. 
The captain steamed up till the boiler hummed, and 
dropped his landing plank on the wharf. Under the 
bluff he had moved along unseen by the Indians, 
unheard in the clamor of the fight. 

" Go, voung man," he said to Carver, who had volun 
teered to lead, "you owe this to your old employer; 
go, and you ll never need a friend while I live." 

Jumper led noiselessly up the roadway at the head 
of the crew. The captain stayed by his craft, as he was 
in honor bound. Tim Murphy, with a lighted torch, 
stood at the swivel, and catching a glimpse of the 
steamer s lights, and hearing the English of those who 
drew near, he let them pass under the logs. 

" Who s this? cried Beck, as the young man stood 
before him. 

" It s me, Jumper." 

"Jumper; well done, boy." 

"Where s the Colonel?" 

272 SNAP. 

"Come here." The scout went with him to the 

" Here I am, sir," he said to the old man ; " I ve 
come, and have brought help with me to do what I can 
in the fight." 

"An I like you for it, Harry ; it s right manly in you 
to come; put him to work, scout; but mind, lad, it s 
death work." 

" Come heah, Jumper ; bring your men," said Beck. 
Carver had jumped at the chance to regain the good 
will of the trader; he had felt abashed from the day he 
left the post, and the scout now stationed him at the 
swivel, with his men filed behind in the brush, on 
guard over the road. As Beck turned away, the 
sudden alarm of the crowd stayed his steps. 

"Look there," said one. A bright red flame-flare 
fell upon the camp ; it lighted the wide expanse, and a 
stream of light, thrown back from the hamlet of cabins, 
disclosed them all ablaze. In the glow of their burn 
ing homes the men saw the red foe, a countless swarm, 
ten to one of them they seemed, piling the fagots and 
leaping from house to house. The keen sight of the 
scout singled out the chief; at his side was Cartwright, 
the evil spirit of this terrible, hell-bred madness, who 
urged him on. And now as the flames rolled up out 
of the darkness, they drew from gray-capped clouds the 
gleams of day ; morning burst upon a scene of blood, 
of smoke and ruin. 

The dawn-light turned the savages to another on 
slaught ; the scout saw that the pirate had planned it. 


One section of the tribe, led by the chief, moved along 
to the front of the inclosure. They came on in a run, 
and the raking fire ordered by Beck checked them but 
an instant; they passed on at safe distance, around to 
the left of the barricade, to crouch behind a building, t 
which the scout had found locked. 

" See, Peter," he said, " they ll burn that storehouse 
to make a breach." 

" They ken do it, John ; but jes look out." 

"For what?" 

The trader bent his head to the other s ear and 
whispered ; his face grew dark as he spoke : 

"It s full of powder, man." 

" But the men " 

He strode off to each armed group of his brave 
fellows, cautioned them in haste, and moved the wagons 
in readiness to bar the gap. 

The Indians clung close about the house ; a few ran 
off, and the scout said : 

" They ve gone for wood to light the fire." 

Creeping back from cover to cover, those who 
bore the fuel for the fated building stole from bush to 
bush under a galling fire ; a few fell, some fled, but a 
number reached the powder-house. Soon the roarirg 
of the flames was heard, and on the margin of the 
black, close cloud of smoke, the pirate and the chief 
were seen. The lingering climax of the fight was the 
slow burning fire. 

On the floor of the magazine grains of powder lay 
scattered, by careless handling, much like a bait to a 

274 SNAP. 

hidden trap, and as the blaze lapped the bark and 
crept through each chink and crevice, a lighted coal 
dropped down. There was a sound of thunder, a 
cloud-burst tremble of the air, earthquake and storm, 
and through the battle-smoke and the sunshine a thou 
sand flaming splinters fell, like a miracle ; the rent frame 
reeled and came down, the barrier was broken. Clan 
after clan sprang on the blackened ruin in the teeth of 
an enfilade of slug and buck-shot; files aimed and 
fired ; others toiled with amazing strength and closed 
the break with wagons ; the Colonel cheered " his boys," 
his white head seen above their line. 

JS T ow a yell rang through the swivel-guarded defile, 
and Carver saw a horde leap into the roadway, coming 
on with knife and tomahawk along the bluff line 
from right and left to tear away his ambush and 
strike him down. He had but time to snatch a coal 
and fire the cannon ; a stern, terrific sweep it was, 
hurled by the rusty piece. The pass was choked with 
the dead and dying; still another band leaped into the 
gorge, while the whites with frantic haste reloaded, as 
the Indians, crowding close, came on again. Carver 
touched the match and, boy-like, cheered ; his men 
once more seized the swivel to repeat ; the foe in 
crowds gained ground, firing as their numbers doubled ; 
they pressed hard. Torch in hand, in the flush of 
youthful pride, the young man fired his gun again, 
leaping to the front to see the havoc of its loud 
mouthed vengeance. He waved his hat rash fellow ! 
A dozen rifles covered his form, and in an instant 


stricken down, he fell into the arms of the .scout, who 
reposed the lifeless body and covered it with his 

The swarm bore down the tree tops, but the deck 
hands were an ugly lot to handle. Caught at large on 
the wharves of the western cities, they were no mean 
, hand-to-hand fighters ; they fought with sheath-knives, 
clubs and musket-butts, and one, a buffer, struck out 
from the shoulder, felling his man at every blow. Beck 
was in the thick of it ; he had borne the brunt all day, 
and hemmed in, his form rose up like a giant s, his 
voice calm, but his strength prodigious. Once he was 
seen to seize a savage bodily, and dash him with a 
deadly force back into the pass. 

Loud screams were now heard coming from the 
house, the cry of the little ones and the shrill, pleading 
voices of the women. Beck s grip relaxed, the brave 
man s heart was stilled ; breaking through the lines of 
hate-hot men, he ran wildly to the door of the dwell 

A few of the red dare-devils stole to the porch, 
climbed it, passed through the windows and down to 
the floor below, and as the scout forced his form into 
the hall he helped the guards to fight back the intruders ; 
he saw them driven to the field ; all but one. At the 
door of Mary s room a long-remembered sight thrilled 
him ; a tall, fear-stricken savage drew back amazed ; 
within the darkened place, where the low light of the 
caudle flared, Beck saw a group of babes behind the 
form of Mary ; she stood still, poised like a marble 

276 SNAP. 

image, her long black hair uncoiled and her dark eyes 
fixed upon the lean, cold steel of the musket. Not a 
tremor of her little white hands, not a twitch in the 
sad, rigid face, not a muscle moved ; a death-like, 
daring moment ; the travail of a woman s strength, the 
acine of human courage. 

The Indian leaped through the door and was gone ; 
Beck, speaking fast, said : 

" Well Mary ! good God ; stand fast, you re worth 
a hundred men ; it ll soon be over ; " he, too, was gone, 
for the fi^ht lagged without him. 


At the garret window, during all this fatal turmoil, 
the parrot looked on, and in a loud, cross screech, 
cried out : 

" Stop t Mary stop t stop t," 

In a corner near by the imp had crept behind a bed, 
the space that held him smaller than his proper self, 
and never before had spook or witch so paled the 
color of his skin. 

Doctor Tom was busy ; many were wounded, many 
slain ; he turned the storerooms into hospitals, as 
they brought the brave fellows to him, one by one. 
He was seen here and there with lint and bandage, and 
now and then his face grew almost black with rage ; 
they heard his whispered wrath. 

" D n shark ; curse him." 

At the gap where the trader fought there was des 
perate fighting ; there the thief skulked, watched with 
eager eyes, and as the Colonel s "boys" fell back to 
load their guns, he made a dash, tripped the old man s 


feet and fell upon him heavily. As he raised his knife 
a hundred hands seized him ; they lashed him to a 
wheel, and but for the scout they would have shot him 
to death. Hurt deeply, the Colonel on rising reeled 
like a drunken man ; helped on by Tim, he dragged his 
feet to the house. Mary saw him coming : 

"Father, lather, are you shot?" As she spoke, her 
cheek was paler than when the savage came upon her. 

"No, chile," he said, feebly; "in here, in here," 
and entering a door, he fell upon a bed in a faint. 

The redskins drew back for the final rally, and were 
divided as before, into two bands. The sleuth-hounds 
sprang from cover, with the cry of a hungry pack. 
Again they tugged at the abattis ; again they choked 
the narrow channel, and the larger band, led by the 
chief, made a last and furious onset. The tug had 
come ; the odds against the whites began to tell in the 
hoarse cries of the infuriated men, as they fell, and the 
scout be^an to feel the cold chill of doubt : 

"Ready! " 

Hark ! Like a voice from heaven, a bugle s note 
was heard faintly in the far bright distance ; louder 
and louder on the air it sped its challenge. 

Mary heard it ; she ran to the porch and in an 
ecstasy of hope she climbed upon a wagon, her hair 
the sport of the wind ; she clapped her hands, waved 
them over the head of Cartwright. 

The savages broke away ; Beck drew himself up to 
the tree tops, and the men saw a troop of horsemen 
swooping down upon them. 

278 SNAP. 

"Thank God," he cried, as he threw up his hat; 
"Hoop-ee, Bob Harkness is on hand." 

On came the furious riders, sweeping the plain, 
tearing down upon the fleeing redskins, firing their 
pistols with shouts, their horses leaping to the charge 
with snort and kick, unreined. The men within the 
barricade laid down their arms to listen. 

And now Beck heard the old familiar war-cry, 
" Draw sabres I " and he knew that the agony was 




Captain Harkness rode up to meet the scout. 

" Who sent you to us ? " 

" Good luck, I reckon, Beck." 

" What brought you in from the fort, Captain? " 

" They say I have slaughtered women and children ; " 
the rich, round laugh was tinged with scorn. 

"They lie, I ll swear," said Beck, and while he 
thought upon the recall of so good an officer, he knew 
that some confederate of the Judge had aided it, and 
that the charge against him was an old slander of the 
sharks and pirates. 

"I ll camp my men, Beck." 

" Down and let em shake the kinks out." 

" Not now." As the troop moved away one of the 
riders said to his file : 

rf They se had a high old time, them boys." 

Beck with his doubts alive as to the trader s condi 
tion, wrote a line to Whack, and sent it with the Cap 
tain s despatches by the "Pioneer." 

The worn-out men had stretched themselves to rest 
about the barricade, and Beck borne down alike, threw 
himself on the ground ; as the stars shed a pale light 
on the camp where the day had seen the flames of 

280 SNAP. 

strife, sleep enthralled him where he lay. Late in the 
night Mary came to the door to catch the sweet, cool 
breeze from the plain, and saw the huge form lying at 
full length ; she went out to look upon the brave giant 
as he slept like a big, overgrown boy ; she turned 
about hastily and came again with a robe, which she 
spread over the sleeper with gentle care. She sat for 
the rest of the night, with the Doctor, at her father s 

Just after the fight, the threats of the men, over 
heard by Beck, cautioned him that the thief might be 
lynched, and fearing it, he laid hold on Cartwright, 
saying : 

" Come with me ; you ll swing for this business, if I 
have to ride a hundred miles." 

Forcing the pirate ahead of him to the haunted 
cabin, he there bound him to the logs inside, and 
placed an armed teamster on guard. 

The night to the wretch had been one of sore trial ; 
in the ghasiliness of his guilt his fears of the super 
natural took strange and hideous forms, and the dying 
out of an unnatural strength from strong drink, left 
him in the throes of a fevered brain. Every sound 
that came to his ears resembled the tramp of some one 
he feared ; he raved with deadly blasphemy, and en 
dured the ferocity of suffering. The scout s strong 
hands had tied his arms and fettered his ankles. What 
might rise in judgment before his captive, Beck had 
not thought of, but the darkest dungeon never con 
jured spectres such as came to haunt the prisoner s 


vision ; sights which only the besotted ever see. Out 
of the ruined chimney-place came an accusing spirit in 
the grave-shroud, and Cartwright cowered like a 
shrinking dog. Throwing up his arms in piteous 
fright, great drops of sweat fell from him ; he dragged 
at his cords. 

In the summer storm a poor, drenched outcast 
crept from bush to bush. The troopers had met him far 
out on the prairie, as they rode in a slow trot coming 
East, but he was then so common a sight to all who 
travelled the road, they would have passed him by 
but for his pitiful pleading. When they gave ear to 
his words, they heard that the post was attacked, and 
throwing him bread from their haversacks, with a 
shout they sprang forward on the run. Fast as his 
limbs could move he followed them. 

Far aloft in gloomy grandeur the storm-clouds rose ; 
curve sweeping curve to towering peak darkening 
deeper and blacker ; the lightning glared on the 
shadowy cloud-cliffs and sharp-lined slopes, and now 
its hot floods rolled like lava ; the winds came and a 
howling chaos of rain and flame caught up the wan 
derer like one consumed in fire. From its fury he 
had stolen near the cabin, and when the shower was 
spent he stood near enough to be heard in his mut 
tering : 

"Just sixteen years to-day," he paused ; " and she 
was just sixteen," he paused again ; " and then that 
viper came. Come clown, come down, give me strength 
to smite to slay." Now tugging at his girdle he drew 

282 SNAP. 

forth the trooper s pistol, looked at it closely as time 
and time again he had done, since he found it. 

Now the sun shone brightly and the scout had calle^ 
the prison guard to breakfast ; he was about to take tl 
man s place when the trader sent for him. 

Among the ruins of his former home lurked the 
crazy tramp. He gazed upon them, his sight resting 
on the form of Cartvvright, and in imagination he saw 
the demon of his long years of misery. For the 
moment it was an insane vagary, for the thief s silence 
fed the delusion. The wanderer fell to work to dispel 
it by lighting a fire. 

Every chance meeting of the thief with his fright had 
been such as to increase his fears, and to strengthen his 
belief in a ghost; he had crossed the lunatic s path 
suddenly at all times, in places lonely and obscure, and 
was halted by him with startling threats. Now the 
dread presence that he feared the most had come upon 
him, and he was held by thongs that would not yield ; 
it glared at him and seemed to gloat upon his plight. 
Where he stood he seemed drawn to the horror ; then 
with all his strength he tugged and strained again, like 
an animal entrapped ; worn down, his head fell like a 
bull s ; he swore aloud. The fire was kindled at the 
log to which the rope that held him was fastened, but 
his tongue* let slip his only chance of escape. 

While the scout stayed with her father, Mary made up 
her mind to visit the prisoner; she had filled her bas 
ket, and under the napkin, resting on ripe fruit, was 


laid the Bible ; she was near the ruin, when, looking 
up, she saw the smoke and heard high words. 

The curses of the pirate, his voice, his manner and 
his face awakened the wild man s Avits ; in a lucid instant 
he saw writhing before his eyes the living, actual 
tiu ng his hate had held to for long, long years ; he 
snatched his pistol and leaped to the cabin door. Just 
then the rope that held the prisoner parted ; he sprang 
up, loosed his toils, and drew one free breath, one 
only. There was a snap, a flash ; the dull thud of a 
fallen body. Strengthless and bloody it lay stricken in 
its full force ; the limbs flexed, an outstretched arm ; 
dead as one before the flood dead as a stone. In 
the smoke of his weapon stood the unhappiest among 
the living ; the fire of his passion out, the ashes cold 
and gray on his heart. 

Mary cried for help, and turned from the sight, 
shading her face ; the scout soon joined her, he 
glanced at the victim and the slayer. 

" Bad as the worst may be, Mister John," said the 
voice at his side, (f He pitied and forgave." 

ff As you say, Mary," he answered, then turning and 
taking her hand, he led her away. 

The crowd seized and bound the lunatic, and hardly a 
word was spoken, for the majesty of death was terribly 
enthroned on the lifeless trunk. 

" Thou dost avenge, 

In thy good time, the wrongs of those who know 
No other friend ; 

The wicked but for Thee 
Had been too strong for the good of earth." 

284 SNAP. 

Captain Harkness and his men left the post, taking 
with them the wild man, to be placed in an asylum at 
Saint Louis. 

Some weeks further on Lu and Whack Mr. and 
Mrs. Charles Marshall arrived by boat. 

Mary s looks had altered much during ihe little while 
they had been absent, and care had worn deeply into 
her spirit. 

" So much strife and misery, Lu, since you left us," 
she said ; " and the worst is yet to come," turning her 
streaming eyes to the bed where her father lay. 

f? You will let me be nurse now, Mary, won t you ? " 
her friend asked, throwing her arms about Mary s 

Doctor Tom came in, and feeling the patient s pulse, 
he said as he withdrew : 

" You need not repeat the medicine, Mary." 

The scout followed him from the room, where he 
had taken his turn in watching. 

" He may not last through the day," the Doctor 
answered gravely to the question put to him ; " he has 
internal injuries, Beck, which cannot be reached." 

" And thar s no chance for his life ? " asked the lat 
ter, with much feeling in his voice. 

"None; and Beck, you must tell his poor child; 
I ve not the nerve to do so." 

In a few moments after this conversation Beck met 

" The Doctor has jus told me that Peter can t live." 

"I feared so, " Whack replied in a spasm of grief, 


and his friend left him in sorrow so keen he would not 
disturb it. 

"Come, Mary," he said, in his straightforward 
way when prompted by a sense of duty as he entered 
the room, and his voice was very kind ; " come out for a 
breath of air, Lu will stay till you come ; " he took her 
hand in his, leading her to the porch. There they 
were seated, and raising her head her face was so 
purely pale, the scout, who was about to speak, fal 

"Do you think that father is better or worse, Mister 
John?" she asked, with a searching glance into her 
friend s face. 

Taking her hand again in his, he said slowly, as if 
each word was a pain : 

" He never can be better, Mary." 

The long suspense was broken by the touch of the 
simplest words ; for a brief second the blackness of 
despair seemed to hold her eyelids down ; again the 
manly tones of his voice were heard, and she felt the 
tight-drawn misery of her heart relax ; she wept 

Beck rose, and suddenly he laid his big, broad, 
tender hand, with a touch as gentle as the girl s, on 
her brown hair, and pressed it down ; again and again 
he pressed it, as if the touch drew to his heart some of 
her sorrow, and he said : 

"You ll never want a friend, Mary, while John 

She turned her tear-wet face with a look that sank 

286 SNAP. 

into his sight to be held there always ; and she an 
swered him : 

"I know it, Mister John ; God bless you." 

When the two went back to the room the sick man 
lay in an easy sleep ; the pain had passed away, and 
had left an eager innocence 011 the aged features, the 
stamp of a frank, single-hearted nature. His form 
was the remnant of an athletic life, sinewy and strong 
even now ; all was calm, there was no passion to throb 
the heart ; in truth he had but two passions through all 
his life, a love for his child, a pride in his trade ; the 
first had tamed the sharp points of his character ; the 
latter had given him a method to do the best at once ; 
with both he seemed to have grown lighter hearted as 
he became older headed. His thoughts were far away 
from his people ; he spoke to his horse in his dream, 
the horse on which he was again crossing the plain ; he 
urged him on with feeble voice. His friends stood 
about his bed, and outside on the green, groups from 
the camp sat and Avaited with downcast looks. 

Still the sleeper sped on over the waste, the howling 
savage at his heels ; he raised his form suddenly from 
the bed, waving his hand, and falling back, he mur 
mured : 

" Safe ; safe/ 

"The Indians were after him in his vision," said 
Mary, in a whisper ; "he has crossed the river again." 

"True, my child," replied Doctor Tom, touching 
the patient s forehead, "he has crossed the river of 


With a low, choking sob, and with a tearless face 
growing fixed, Mary stood up : 

ff l know he s safe on the other side," she faltered, 
when Beck with manly haste caught her up in his arms, 
as he would a child, and bore her from the room. 

" She s my baby now," said old Chloe, following 

The crowds from the camp came and stood about the 
place, with every token of a deep respect, and on the 
morning of another day, in .line they moved away from 
the house, passing out under the bison s head to the 
prairie. They rested the bier where in life he had 
wished to lie. Each man, in turn, cast a handful of 
earth <>n the coffin, and from the silence of the sleep 
eternal they moved away. In the sunset glowing with 
rich, warm beauty on the mound their hands had 
raised, they left the aged sleeper. 

" And greatly would their hearts rejoice 
To hear again, his living voice." 

Far away from the sick man s couch, while he lay in 
pain : from the wretch s hell while he writhed in toils ; 
from the cots of the wounded, the Judge and his 
fellows feasted. The lobby s scheme lay before them ; 
they laughed and drank and were merry. The plot on 
the table was a demand for the Indians land, drawn by 
the Judge ; he considered it the cleverest effort of his 
smartness. Whether he knew that graves had been 
filled to pay for a sharper s folly, or that the kind host 
whose friendship he had trifled with, had been snatched 

288 SA T AP. 

away by Death, matters little ; would matter but little 
to him. Type of the trickster, all the world over a 
trickster is a sneak ; a sneak, the meanest thing on earth. 

There were legal as Avell as business needs that the 
will should be opened ; Beck and Whack felt that it 
must be attended to. 

" Jus say what we shall do, Mary," said the scout. 

"I believe father has named some of the men in the 
will, and it ought to be read aloud before all." 

"If you say so, to-morrow morning I ll bring em 

When they had come together, Beck unfolded the 
brown paper envelope, and read : 


TEAU, TRADER. It had been written by some careful 
agent, and very little that had ever moved his respect 
was left out. First, his beloved daughter claimed "his 
whole heart," and to her he willed the bulk of his 
property; to Beck and Marshall, equal shares in the 
trade with Mary, and large sums of money. The will 
set apart a tract, upon which stood the post and camp, 
for a town site to be called MARYSVILLE ; also sums in 
trust for the building of the school-house and the 
church. To old Chloe he gave a house and a small 
dowry ; to the imp his freedom ; to each of his faithful 
men who had served him a given time, he gave a tract 
of land with money, and when it was the wish of one 
or all to work the soil on their own account, a team of 
cattle to each, " to begin as he had done, in the snap o 
the whip." 


At the last clause Beck folded the paper without 
reading further, and placed it in his blouse ; his face 
changed and his hands were unsteady, but Whack said : 

"I think that the will should be sent below, at once, 
and I should be in New York ; don t you think Mary 
ought to go with us, as far as Saint Louis, to stay 
there with her friends till her troubles are over ? " 

" Jus so ; I wanted to say that ; get your wife to tell 

He left Whack hurriedly, entered the office and 
closed the door behind him ; he locked it, placing a 
chair at the table, and laid the paper before him as he 
sat down ; he read the last sentence aloud : 

"Before bidding fare well to those so dearly beloved 
in life, it is the long-cherished wish of my heart that 
John Beck and Mary, my daughter, should become 
man and wife, as I believe it to be the wish of their 
own hearts." 

He read the words again and again, then turning 
down the sheet, he laid his head on it and groaned. 

It was agreed that Mary would go with her friends 
to Saint Louis, and remain there some time, and the 
Doctor, seized with what they all thought to be a 
whim, joined the party. 

"Beck," he said, "when I m gone, open that ma 
hogany case of mine, and read what you find there. 
If I don t turn up soon, you are at liberty to keep the 
papers, or burn them, as you please." 

" Why are you going ; what s the matter ? " asked 

290 SNAP. 

"I don t mind saying to you, old fellow, that I m 
going to find the Judge." 

" What for, Doctor? he ain t worth looking for." 

" Ain t he? He ll think so when we meet, sell ; I m 
going to call him out ; call him out, do you understand 

No persuasion of the other to cool the fire in the 
veins of the little, old man, availed the least. The 
next boat bore them away, and the scout stood gazing 
after them until the steamer dwindled to a speck on 
the shining surface of the river. Beck turned about, 
and with strange emotion he said : 

" I must do my duty ; when it s done and she knows 
all, I ll take to the road again." 

Through the long winter he toiled late and early to 
cany out every project or purpose expressed by his 
former patron. He tore down the abattis ; the store 
houses were moved away and turned into dwellings ; 
rebuilt and whitened, they dotted the green outlying 
knolls. The camp was moved beyond the thickets, 
and where the corral stood was now an open common. 
A saw-mill on the river bank was kept busy ; the 
wharf was widened by cutting into the bluff; the school 
and the church were begun, and the arch over the 
portal of the latter bore Mary s chosen inscription : 

Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty ." 

Tim Murphy turned an eye to the main chance, and 
drawing on his legacy, he laid out some of it, in 
material for "The Bullwhacker * Inn." In time it was 
completed, hastened on by the personal labor and 


care of the owner, with a swinging sign the wonder 
of the village, and its two stories the marvel of the 
rustics. Then a farmer started a line of road-wagons, 
called stages, and noised his coming through a tin horn 
to the alarm of the urchins and the colored folk ; next, 
a barn was needed. One of the larger log-houses was 
furnished with rude store fixtures ; a large storehouse 
at the landing finally bore on its broad, white front, in 
deep, black letters : 


with Mary as the silent partner. 

Beck never wearied ; the labor he had set about to 
perform, and what he believed would have been his old 
friend s wish, had requited but little the pain he seemed 
to suffer. The man was worn to a shadow and the 
smile from his fine face was gone. He had tugged on, 
holding his course without a word of complaint, not 
caring for praise, nor for censure. He had earnestness, 
and his strength was untamable, but the trial seemed 
almost deadly in the traces it left on his form and 
features. Coolness and restraint, the habit of a life 
full of peril, were still his, but his lips seemed to be 
sealed, by as strong a clasp as honor. He toiled on 
with a strength he never felt before through a wild, 
strange longing ; it was neither the lash of self-rebuke 
nor sell-hate ; no sign of remorse tinged his unhappi- 

In the brighter, warmer days of the early spring, he 
put the painters to work on the house and brightened 

292 SNAP. 

the old place in and out. Then he sat down, wrote a 
line to Mary, saying : 


She started for home in company with Marshall and 
his wife, and Mr. Foster, a preacher, came with them on 
an errand to consecrate the new church. Beck led 
Mary from the boat. What he said was, as of old, 
the frank greeting of a companion, a little grave but 
still hearty. He went with her to a seat on the rear 
porch in the purple light strained through the morning- 
glories, and left her there, charmed with her surprise, 
and in the arms of old Chloe. 

He found Whack for such he would ever be to 
Beck and showed everything new, and dwelt upon, 
as they passed along, the future wants of the trade. 

"It s all just as it ought to be," said Whack, "I 
could almost manage things myself." 

" Could you ? " asked the other quickly, and when his 
partner started at the sudden answer, and turned 
his face to his friend s, he was forced to say : 

" You ve worked too hard, scout, you show the 




Doctor Tom was put ashore at a little village and 
taking a stage from thence, soon reached the capital 
of the State. 

Bad news travels fast, but it had not been swift 
enough to outrun the Doctor. He would have been 
the first messenger to deliver the ill-tidings of the dis- 

O O 

aster at the post, had he not thought best to keep 

Judge Smith, and the combination of which he was 
the moving spirit, had heard good news from Wash 
ington. They had been assured by a letter received 
on the day of the Doctor s arrival, that steps would be 
taken in the near future, to remove the Indians from 
the reservation which adjoined Cheviteau s. The sub 
ject, it went. on to say, had received the attention of 
the Department, and it was thought expedient, owing 
to the too close proximity of the savages to the whites, 
to remove them to a less exposed location. Such was 
the pompous phrasing of an extract from an official 
letter received by one of their friends from the Indian 

The knot of speculators came together in a back 
room of the town tavern and held council. At such a 

294 SNAP. 

conference, the prerequisite to formulate their pro 
ceedings was a liberal supply of " corn-juice." 

Judge Smith was particularly happy, in fact de 
lighted, and showed his satisfaction by an eager claim 
of leadership, and an over allowance of credit for 
"working the thing through." 

" It s the finest piece of wild land in the West," he 
said, "and I ve been all over it; the soil is a black, 
rich loam, ten feet in depth, and as for the timber, 
gentlemen, there ain t a wood that grows but can be 
found there." 

"There won t be much trouble with Injins, I reckon," 
suggested one of the cabal. 

" Not much," said the Judge with a knowing look ; 
"you know the army has to carry out the order." 

"Is there any good town sites?" queried a third. 

" Town sites ! " laughed his honor ; " why, the first 
thing I intend to do is to run opposition to old Chevi- 
teau ; set up a post against his, work him out of his 
landing and build up a town right under his nose." 

" Yes, he s too old and slow for these times ; have 
you staked your claim, Judge?" 

"Certainly, and I reckon you ll all admit my claim 
to the best as just." 

"Thar s jes one thing I don t like about this move," 
said a gruff speaker, and a man who, by his manner, 
seemed a little cautious. 

" What s that? " asked one near him. 

"Why, jus this; if them Injins get an inkling of 
this, they ll like as not get red hot and then " 


"Well, what then?" spoke up the Judge. 

"They ll murder every man, woman and child at the 

The speaker s words were cut short, for without so 
much as a knock, an officious waiter threw open the 
door, and in w r alked the small, well-knit form of Doctor 

Glancing about him restlessly, as some of the party 
rose from their chairs, he singled out the Judge and 
made up to him with short, quick steps. 

"Hello, Doctor Tom, is that you?" said the Judge 
in a free flow of humor, as he offered his hand. 

" Drop your hand, seh," said the Doctor, halting ; " it 
is stained with blood ; it s the hand of a coward. 
Gentlemen," he said, turning to the crowd, "the In 
dians on the border have risen and they have attacked 
Cheviteau s post. This man I charge with being the 
prime cause of the massacre. Don t you believe me? 
he continued, turning round ; "go out then, the mail- 
stage is at the door ; it brings the news." This was a 
ruse of the Doctor to clear the room, and hardly a 
moment elapsed, even while he spoke, when they all 
hurried off. The Judge was about to follow, forgetful 
of the affront put upon him in his haste to learn the 
worst, but with a spring the Doctor reached the door, 
closed it, locked it and placed the key in his pocket. 
He had shut out all except himself and the Judge. 

"Now, seh," he said, turning to the other, "we can 
have it out alone. Peter Chcviteauis dead, and scores 
of his brave men have been slaughtered through your 

296 SNAP. 

infernal trickery. You enjoyed the hospitality of my 
friend s house to betray him to the fiendish malice of 
the savage. You knew the evil your secret scheme 
might bring upon him, upon the heads of helpless 
women, upon babes and children. I repeat, seh, 
you re a coward." 

The Judge had been so suddenly confronted with 
the irate little man, and his announcement of so start 
ling a nature, he was slow to recover. But the Doctor 
while he spoke had drawn from the inside pockets of 
his coat a pair of pistols, and laid them on the table 
before him. 

Now a rap was heard at the door. 

rt Take the choice of these weapons, seh. I am the 
friend of Peter Cheviteau, and over his grave I de 
mand satisfaction of you." 

The noise at the door of voices and confusion in 

f Take one," said the Doctor, " I ll give you a chance . 
for your life ; if you don t, I ll shoot you down like a 


A voice outside cried : 

"Let us in or we ll break down the door." 

Whether it was the nearness of his companions, or 
the fear of showing cowardice, which even they would 
not brook, the Judge plucked up courage, and at last 
found voice to say : 

" If nothing else will do, take your place. " He spoke 
loudly, and taking up one of the pistols he turned to 
wards the end of the table. 


The door was pounded heavily, and a number of men 
without talked in an excited manner. 

" Are you ready ? " asked the Doctor, in a steady 

Just then the door gave way, and the crowd rushed 
in to seize the Doctor s upraised arm with the finger on 
the trigger. Both men were disarmed, and pocketing 
his weapons the excited old man hastened from the 

At the door he turned and said : 

"Judge Smith, I here publicly challenge you to 
fight this out, and leave you with your friends to de 
cide upon the time and place. If you do not accept, 
seh, you are what I have denounced you for, a trick 
ster and a poltroon ;" and he walked away. 

" Oh, I would have shot him," said the Judge 
boastingly to the group ; "in another minute, gentle 
men, he would have been a cbad man. Immediately 
after he locked the door and offered the pistols, I 
seized one, covered him, and made him take back his 
insult; if he hadn t he would have been slain." 

The end of the affair was inglorious. Doctor Tom 
waited several days for the satisfaction he had so rashly 
sought, but the friends of the Judge, upon due con 
sideration, with his ready acquiescence, declined the 

The Doctor was also kindly persuaded by some of 
the wiser heads of the place to forego a duel with a 
man who was not in any sense his equal, and to whom 
he gave an equal chance for life with himself as the 

298 SNAP. 

party aggrieved. Not entirely satisfied with (he logic 
of such advice, the Doctor was, nevertheless, content 
to post the Judge in a weekly paper, and shaking the 
dust of a place he contemned from his feet, he soundly 
abused his adversary and departed. The next seen of 
the fiery little champion, he was on his way to the post. 

On entering the house Beck called to mind the last 
words of Doctor Tom, and going into the deserted 
chamber he found the mahogany case on the window 
sill. It was unlocked and he raised the lid. Two 
compartments which from their shape he knew had 
held a pair of duelling pistols, were empty ; in another 
a closely folded manuscript, which showed its age in 
the brown tinge of the paper, caught his eye ; as this, 
h supposed, was uliat his old friend desired that he 
should read, he took it out to peruse it. 

It was a document of some length, written in a 
round, legible hand, and began, without preface, the re 
cital of an episode in the fitful career of the writer. 

" My father," the writing began, " inherited a very 
comfortable income which he spent early in life through 
the temptations of youth and a love of display. He 
had just entered manhood, and a fortune misspent at 
such a time clouds the future and dampens the ardor 
of the bravest. At this trying time to be deeply, 
madly in love with a very poor but a very pretty wo 
man was unfortunate, and his infatuation carried him 
into wedlock with scarcely enough between the two to 
set the pot boiling. The match was sneered at by his 
friends and relatives, and truth to say he found little 


in common with the partner of his bosom. She was 
illiterate, coarse, and their married life, though of short 
duration, was not happy. The wife died and left a son. 
My father s fortunes improved but little during the 
infancy of the child, and through boyhood his educa 
tion was sadly neglected. The lad was bright and apt, 
and not to grow up a dolt, he taught himself much of 
what he knew ; not a little, for he was a close reader. 

" It was said of my parent that he was a handsome 
mnn, of winning manners, and some accomplishments, 
and with such, in those days when beaux were few, was 
to be much admired. 

" Some years further on, he ceased to be a widower. 
Having met a lady, between whom and himself there 
sprung up a mutual and decided admiration, he paid 
her his devoirs with the most assiduous gallantry. 
She possessed a very large estate ; he literally nothing, 
with the incumbrance of the boy aforesaid. But they 
were married in good time, and in the further course 
of events I was the fruit of that union. 

"To pass over much that belongs to a truthful his 
tory it will suffice to r< ach the purpose of this memo 
randum to say, that both my parents died leaving me 
in possession of a fortune. I pass, over also the inter 
vening years of my college training. 

"Meanwhile my half brother, Tobias, had grown 
up to be a quiet, inoffensive sort of fellow, but like 
his lather before him, had taken hold on matrimony, 
with the same disregard of proprieties, and with the 
same penniless risks, My own remonstrance was all 

300 SNAP. 

in vain, and besides we became in a measure estranged. 
The woman he married was by no means his equal in 
any respect, but he married ; that was the long and 
short of it. 

" There was a large barbacue near by the town in 
which we lived, and very distinguished men were in 
vited to address the people. The best people of 
that section were there also, and altogether it was the 
most notable event of the year. My brother was 
there with his wife ; my mother s relations were pre 
sent also, and while he was kindly and courteously re 
ceived he made little progress in helping himself to 
their better acquaintance. It was while we were both 
standing in the group of happy faces, he with a bash 
ful hesitancy of manner, that the young sprig of a 
wealthy lawyer, much the worse for his libations, 
rudely broke in upon our company. Tobias, who 
until then had given but little sign of interest in what 
was passing, now rose to his feet, and in a very re 
spectful way tried to persuade the intruder to pass on. 
What was my surprise, and not less that of the entire 
assemblage whose notice had been drawn to the loud 
voice of the tipsy upstart, when he turned suddenly and 
in a violent rage struck my brother full in the face. 
Not content with this gross affront, he coupled it with 
language /the most vile, insulting the name of my 
brother s mother, and heaping upon him the rudest 
abuse. Friends interfered, the men were separated, 
but not before I had gone to a brother of the rowdy 
and said : 


" So soon as he is sober he must apologize or fight. 

"Days passed and the town talk, as well as the whis 
pers which passed from the lips of the men of note who 
had seen the insult, all agreed that there was nothing 
my brother could do, but to demand from his assailant 
the proper satisfaction. To learn how far he was pre 
pared for this just demand in the vindication of his 
honor, I went to see him. 

" I had not known until told by others that Tobias 
was a member of a church, and a strict conformist to 
the morals of his faith. This, however, made no im 
pression on my well conceived ideas of his duty as a 

"On meeting him he made no hesitation in saying 
that he should let the matter pass, and that he forgave 
the rudeness in the belief that the man was not him 
self. I urged in vain, that he had no right to evade 
the responsibility ; that the affront was an open insult 
to the family name ; that his alternative would drive 
him from the community branded as a coward, and 
that if he did not himself challenge the offender forth 
with, I would myself do so, and take upon myself the 
sole charge of the affair But, I added, it would cause, 
of course, a severance of all affectionate relations be 
tween us. 

" He begged to be allowed to consider, and I left 
him with the conviction that I would have to fight the 
fellow myself. In station he was my equal, and fully 
equal to the mischief he could make out of it. Time 
passed and my brother was fast becoming a butt, 

3)2 SXAP. 

sneered at and shunned by his associates, and publicly 
avoided as one disgraced. But the crisis came in a 
most unexpected way, and put an end to the strain and 
fever I endured. 

"My brother s insulter was a born bully, and with 
out provocation and only to gain notoriety had he com 
mitted the assault. Now to gain a little more bad 
eminence, and to flaunt another feather of the bravado 
with his like, to prove the cowardice which he said 
belonged to us, he challenged my brother, making a 
pretense of some fancied wrong. 

"On the instant, much to my surprise, Tobias accepted 
the challenge, and by right of what had passed be 
tween us he insisted that I should second him in the 
field. We went out, and on the first fire he shot his 
antagonist dead." * 

At this point of the reading, Beck impatiently spoke 
his thoughts aloud. 

" That s all stuff," he said, "brave men know better ; 
every time that bully showed up he oughter been put 
down ; I d a lammed him outer his boots." 

The scout gave a long-drawn sigh, either in disgust 
of his surroundings, or in his contempt of the wing 
less Florimel, which the Doctor spoke of as honor. 
His thoughts ran astray, and the old sore seemed to 

*The writer prefers to interpret the feeling of the time, in regard to the 
duel, as near as may he in the words of one who favored the barbarous 
practice That one professing religion could engage in mortal combat of the 
kind, persuaded to it by his own brother, and return to the fold after slaying 
his adversary, is not an overdrawn picture, and is founded on a fact. It 
needs no garnishing. 


bleed afresh ; his eyes were set upon the floor before 
him, but arousing from the reverie, he turned to the 
paper and read on. 

" Tobias Shorter after this became a changed man. 
His soul seemed to have been moved deeply. He be 
came a schoolmaster, and it was his habit to read the 
Bible to his pupils, and this so often repeated, with 
ponderings upon the text, he laid by in memory the 
best of its traditions and in his heart all of its lessons. 
It happened, at this time, that a religious panic seized 
the minds of the people, wherein masses were swayed 
by an unwonted fervor, and he, a sensitive and pro 
found believer, was swept into the frenzy. At large 
musters, in camps and meeting-houses, none exhorted 
with the fiery vehemence of Tobias ; none so ardently 
besought to repentance, or prayed with the same in 
tense and frantic ecstasy of faith. He went about from 
house to house ; along the roads he was seen at un 
seemly hours, halting the traveller to warn or to 
upbraid him ; in class and church he led in praise and 
protestation. His school was closed ; he was really 
already mad, but induced to seek the wilderness, with 
the promise of work in the vineyard, he left the town, 
and it is said that his reason failed. I never saw him 
after this." Here the manuscript ended. 

As Beck refolded the screed and was about to re 
place it in its place, he kept repeating the name of 
the Doctor s brother as one he had surely heard before. 

" Tobias ; Tobias Shorter ; I ve heard that some- 
whar : let me see ; then suddenly he remembered to 

304 SNAP. 

have heard the Colonel tell the story of the haunted 
cabin, wherein he spoke of one Tobias, and weighing 
the coincidence he followed out the trace to the wild 
man of the plains, and further to the lunatic in the 
asylum. " Sure enuf that s him I reckon, an the Doc 
tor doesn t know it, neither. Well, well," he said, as 
he was about to close the case. But his eye dis 
covered another manuscript, and taking it out he read 
what seemed to be the Doctor s suggestions as to the 
proper mode of treating the Indians. Without head 
ing or a word of comment, the unexplained notes laid 
down certain ideas which were those which he often 
expressed openly : 

"Put the tribes so far apart that they can t form 

" What s the use or sense of a treaty with a savage ? 

" No more treaties should be made with the Indians ; 
those now binding should be abrogated. 

" The system should be changed, and the Indians 
brought directly and individually under the laws. 

" Magistrates should be appointed* to enforce in each 
tribe, or on each reservation, the criminal laws of the 
United States, with power to call upon the army at 
any and all times to carry out their decisions and 

" The squaw-men (pirates) , whites, Mexicans and 
negroes, should be put away from the reservations and 
not be permitted to live with or go among the 

* The Indian boys now being educated, if trustworthy. 


"Cohabitation, miscalled marriage, with Indian wo 
men should be punished. 

"Liquors, arms, ammunition and property of any 
kind, taken without authority into the Indian country, 
for traffic with the Indians, should be destroyed on the 
spot ; the owner, if captured, should be punished by 
imprisonment and fine. 

" Congress should pass laws making it penal to sell 
or give arms or ammunition to Indians, even by agents, 
and thus gradually disarm the Indians. 

" Give an Indian enough to live on. (lands in 
severalty) and see that he gets it. 

"When a marauding party is trailed to a reservation, 
force the tribe to deliver up the individuals composing 
it for punishment. 

" Punish murder, pillage and other similar crimes ex 
actly as they would be punished among the whites." * 

Having read the last slip hastily, Beck took from 
his pocket a pencil, and scrawling on the back of the 
Doctor s advice the letters "O.K., "he returned the 
papers and closed the lid. For the first time he ri ad 
the inscription on the gold plate : " Shoot folly as it 
flies;" then he left the room. He glanced at Mary, 
from the rear door, in her place at her knitting, and 
then as if rebuked for his weakness, he turned about 
and strode off to the office. 

* Taken in part from a code laid down in " The Great Plains " 
Col. Dodge, U. S. A. Very mnch the same opinions were held by 
intelligent Western men, at the date of the story, and borrowing 
from this very comprehensive work, to be used in this connection 
and way, will not be much out of place. 

306 SNAP. 



The men for a long time had noticed the changed 
appearance of Beck ; they asked him if he was ill, but 
with a shake of the head he passed on, annoyed ; Mary 
saw in his looks, in his silence, his awkward way of 
avoiding her, at times, and more than all, in the feel 
ing he so often threw into his words, that an old, deep 
sorrow lay behind his manner. It was to her a vexed 
mystery, such as she could not solve and dare not 

Taking up a pen at the office table, Beck sat do^vn 
and wrote rapidly ; pausing now and then to wipe his 
brow, he wrote on as if each word pained him to trace 
it. and then raising the paper to the light, he read it. 

It was a letter written to Mary and told the secret 
of his life, and ran thus, in a free-hand plain English ; 

DEAR MARY : When you receive this I will be far 
away. I would have come to you to say what I have 
to say, but that would only make things worse, and I 
want to take all the trouble to myself and take it away 
with me. You have had trouble enough. I send your 
father s will along with this, and you will see what 1 


did not read, and what I cannot carry out. It almost 
kills me to say so. 

Now I must tell you why. You will not think less 
of me when you know all, I hope. When I was jus of 
a^e, I had a good farm well stocked down in Kentucky, 
and was comfortable. Thar was no young man of my 
inches could hold a rifle, swing a whip or ride a horse 
alongside of me. They tried it often and was beaten, 
and that s how it all come about. 

There was a young girl in our parts, and she was 
called the belle of the neighborhood. All the boys 
took a shine to her, I among the rest ; and among so 
many she hardly knew how to choose. At a shooting 
match she gave me an open preference after I had won 
the prize. 

Well, we was married and I was a happy man, too 
happy, mebbe, for I loved her well ; but I soon found 
that I had let my heart run away with my head. She 
was not a good wife ; no, not even a true wife, Mary. 
You have known me long, and you know it was only 
my wrongs that could drive me away, so I left her. I 
left everything jus as it stood, after I had told her we 
could never live together, and I journeyed West, 
become a soldier and a scout. 

She still lives, and you know I am in duty bound, 
so long as she bears my name, to live as I am. You 
will say that never by word or sign have I ever said a 
word against her. And now that everything is jus as 
your good father would have liked it, all but this, you 
will see that it cannot be. Sooner than deceive you, 

308 SNAP. 

Mary, I would take my own life, the little that is 
left that is worth taking. God bless you and good 
bye. From your friend in life and death, 


There were moments to the lonely writer of acute 
and cruel misery. He loved Mary with a love as pure 
as the purest, but there was not a word nor line of his 
letter that disclosed it. In all his long and brotherly 
intercourse with her, there had never been a look or 
sign to warm or awaken in her an attachment stronger 
than friendship. And yet through all these long, 
manly years, the smothered passion burned like a 
slow, consuming fire ; it had nearly destroyed him. 
By the gentle instinct of woman, Mary was guarded in 
her liking for Mister John, and never but once had a 
spoken word, by any one who knew them, touched the 
chord that lay so deeply hidden. The Colonel, in his 
friendly, familiar way, said just before the attack on 
the barricade : 

" John, sumthin or nuther tells me that this fight 
may put me outer ther way; we can t none of us 
tell, but thar s iny darter, John ; I bleeve that she 
loves, you, John, leastwise I think so, and I kinder 
bleeve you love her " 

His speech was cut short by the yell of the savage, 
and never finished, but his words <! bleeve that she 
loves you " rang in Beck s ears night and day ; these 
coupled with the lines of the will which Mary must, in 
time, see, drew from his honor the cruel sacrifice 


which he had begun. He read his letter several times, 
folded it and placed it in his blouse pocket. 

He went about quietly taking a last look ; at the 
cabins he took up the little ones and talked to them ; 
he spoke good wishes to the men that each might 
remember ; he stroked the face of a favorite ox ; he 
stood by the grave of his patron and tore himself 
away to find Kitty, and saddled her. 

The guard who came on his rounds in the evening 
was Sandy. 

The teamster at Beck s call joined him. 

"I ll be off on a long scout pooty soon, Sandy, and 
when I m gone, hand these papers to Miss Mary ; " 
here he drew from his breast the will and the letter, 
and placing them in the hand of the messenger, he 
went on : "Bout an hour from now she ll come into the 
dining-room and you ll see the light thar ; go in and 
hand them to her; that s all. Good-bye, Sandy." 

They shook hands ; in a moment more the clatter 
of the mare s hoofs was heard out on the road, and 
the guard surprised peered after the rider into the 
blackness of night. 

"He s not afeerd o the deil hissef; but it s mesel 
that dinna loike the looks of things nor of him 
nyther : shure and the lassie has worrit a bit too 
much, and if it be to worrit more I ll wait a bit." 

The scout gave free play to his spurs, with a reckless 
dash into the dark, but his limbs fell out of the stir 
rups, he dropped his rein, and his head sank low on 
his breast. The vigor of his free, open nature was 

310 SNAP. 

gone ; never before in the sweep of the wild gallop 
had he come to so sudden a halt. He sat on his 
horse in the darkened solitude as one stricken ; never 
before had he dreamed with his eyes open, and never 
had his strong pulse grown feeble at the touch of a 
sudden chill. He felt something clearer to him than 
he had ever known, something more bitter than his 
heart had ever felt. In the stillness, heavy upon him, 
he listened ; a sound far away had caught his ear, and 
somehow it cheered him like the whisper of a better 
fate ; again he heard it, now louder and nearer, like a 
blast of the harvest-horn heard over the meadows. 
He turned his horse s head, he knew not why, and rode 
back to the landing. The boat tied up and he stepped 

;f Any letters for the post?" he asked quickly. 

"Yes," said the clerk, "here s one for r John Beck, 
Cheviteau s Landing. " 

"That s me; let s have it." Taking the missive he 
tore it open. 

It read as follows : 

" Mr. JOHN BECK : 

" Dear Sir, After a long search I have found out 
your present abode, and this is to inform you of the 
death of Mrs. Beck, which took place six years ago. 
She left all the property unencumbered and subject to 
your disposal. 

" Will you please send me word, in what way you 


wish the estate attended to ; whether to be held in 
trust for you, or sold? 

"Very truly yours, 

" GEO. THATCHER, Attorney" 

Not even a word of regret as a dying legacy from 
the woman who had embittered his youth ; only a 
formal notice ; only this, as cold as the slab that cov 
ered her. 

Beck sprang to the wharf, leaped to his mare s back 
and dashed forward ; as he came in sight of the house 
he saw Sandy on the porch, and the light in the 

"Stop," he cried as he jumped down; "come heah, 
Sandy, quick." 

The man turned and came to him. 

" Whar s the papers ? " he asked in trembling 

"It s me wat has em, shure." 

The scout snatched them almost rudely. 

rc Take the mare to the corral, Sandy," he said ; " I ll 
be guard to-night " 

As the man rode away Beck tore up his letter to 
Mary, and with the open will in his hand he entered 
the house. Mary glancing at him, as he came to her 
through the dining-room door she asked : 

" What s the matter, Mister John, you re so very 
pale ? " 

" Am I pale ? Well, Mary, a word from you will 
bring me right." 

312 SNAP. 

"Come, sit down, do," she said, with a tremulous 
voice ; "I fear you re ill." 

He sat down at her side as he placed the will in her 
hand, laying his finger on the final clause. 

"Read, Mary," he said, "the last words of your 
father; answer me, as you would answer him if he 
said these words to you." 

She glanced at the sentence and conned each word 
as the color came to the sweet, sad face ; in the light 
from the shaded lamp, to Beck s eyes it changed to 
that of a seraph s, purely beautiful ; she raised her gaze 
and softly it fell upon his own, and her speech was 
gentle and calm : 

"No voice, not even the dead s, Mister John, can 
command my love for you ; it s yours," she paused 
but an instant, " and you know it, don t you? " 

Like a little saint s her arms were folded on her 
bosom as his girdled her form. 

" For better, for worse, as my wife? Well, Mary ; " 
and suddenly she wreathed her arms about his neck. 

He drew forth from his pocket the Bible that had 
lain there many days, and opening it on the page where 
the marker pointed to the old, trite lines, he read them 
aloud ; he closed the book and kissed her ; and the 
man s pent-up nature was forever freed by the one she 
gave back from her soul. 

On a sunny morning, John Beck and Mary Chevi- 
teau joined hands in the village church, and passed out 
to begin life s errand. 

Peter Cheviteau had served his day and purpose, 


and had served them well, somewhat in the fashion of 
all who needed caution more than prowess to get 
round the perils that beset them. The savage was too 
stern a foe at first to face and resist, so Peter and his 
like with prudent steps moved slowly. They endured 
much, and bore up tinder bloody provocations in the 
hopeful belief that time would strengthen the whites. 

They were not disappointed. From the seaboard 
striding westward, with an impulse that knew no 
pause, trade crossed the mountains of the Middle 
States, and where the snap of the wagon-whip grew 
faint, the louder snap of the ox-train began ; trade 
pushed its agents to the front to widen the road ; 
bolder men were sent or came to beat down and over 
ride, to break away the barriers, to "pull through" 
straightly. Beck, a born captain, was found in the 
lead ; and now, with the way clear, at once sprang up 
the thrift of a new era ; under the aegis of safety, scat 
tered groups in waiting far away came together, set 
tled down in content, and began the town. 

A few years rolled by ; Tim Murphy with busy feet 
waited on all comers to his inn. Looking in on his 
guests at a table where " a squar meal " was served, he 
turned about to wait on a stranger who- stood at his 
bar. The man s high beaver was a day s wonder 
thereabout, and his speech was that of the East. 

"A cocktail," he said to Tim, as he stroked his 


"A cocktail," repeated the other. 

314 SA AP. 

Not to be outdone by any show of genius in his line, 
which the East might claim, Murphy made up a drink, 
known in those remote corners as an " eye-opener," 
a cross between aquafortis and "Thompson, No. 6, : 
and placed it on the counter. 

" Jabers, an is t that ye cl be afther, me boy," he 
said with a show of triumph, "it ll raise the feders of 
a pay cock ; " and truth to say it satisfied. 

Tim had lived well and had prospered ; the path 
which the villagers called a street, wormed its crooked 
length past his door, and Mary Beck, as of old, walked 
daily over it by the inn. If Tim caught a glimpse 
of her as she came, nothing could stay him, not even 
the profits of his house. He said he was in duty 
bound, and his bow was low. He bade her good 
morning as one would thank a princess, and if there 
were few or many to notice him he never failed to 
add : 

" Whist, d ye mind ; that s the lady, an may she live 
a tousen yeahs." 

An aged pilgrim came one day from the " sterang 
kontree ; " with her came also the " gude man jon, 
and the savings of years in his pocket. In a little 
while thereafter they rented the store, and with Mary s 
help carried on a brisk sale of trifles. It was John s 
rule not to allow his gifts to droop, so at odd times he 
managed all the rough jobs that were needed. He 
painted the logs in plain white, and in shining contrast 
touched up the chinking between with a blazing red. 
It Was something near a marvel to the eyes of those 


who gazed on the old fellow s art, and he spoke of it 
proudly, as a conceit to hand down his reverence for 
the flag, which, at a distance, the colors resembled. 

In his useful way, to fetch and carry, and to lend a 
ready hand in all things, he once set about to make the 
place look new ; to brighten the shelving and to scrub 
the floor. It was during his wife s absence that he fell 
to work with soap and brush. Her pencil marks 
against certain of their creditors, were kept in hidden 
spots on the white surface. All unknown he wiped 
out the " pV and "q s, and settled accounts without 
striking a balance. On Melinda s return, her first 
concern was to look up these debits, and her scream 
brought John to " about face " standing at present. 

"Yuse gone and spy led us," she cried. 

"How?" he answered, bringing his hands to his 
side, the little fingers touching the seams of his pants. 

" We se busted, John, sho," she said, speaking fast 
like one with a peck of trouble, and was about to berate 
him when voices were heard at the door. It was the 
talk of the men in her debt who came to pass an hour 
over their mugs. To one she said at once, with easy 
wit and tact : 

" Them chalks of yourn run up to twenty, arn t that 
right?" It was a venture near the mark, not under it. 

!f Yes," each in turn replied, to hold on to her favor. 
She put back tLe scores as debts acknowledged, with 
out causing a doubt. 

Months before one of the boats had set Tobias on 
shore at the landing. Sent home to his friends as a 

316 SNAP. 

harmless simpleton, and as all things have their uses, 
in time the poor wreck found much for his hands to 
do. He ran errands for the store ; was stableman on 
shares with Cato, the jockey ; a companion of the 
school-boys in their games. Under his care the vines 
grew greener about the porch, and the flowers, more 
deeply tinted, shut out the heat where .Mary sat. One 
freak, fashioned out of a mental chaos, he held to 
always as a link with his former misery. He dug a 
grave and covered it with a slab, a tomb in miniature, 
wherein he said his lost child slept. At times, he 
delved in the debris of the old cabin and carried a 
spadeful to his cave and buried it. A pitiful sight, 
that of a mortal bending over the ashes of a ruined 
past entombed in the remorse of the present, and a 
truth might have been written on the stone ; the 
pursuit of so low a passion as revenge never elevates, 
but degrades even as low as the helpless idiot. 

Doctor Tom returned to the post ; at Beck s request 
he became an inmate again of the house, and one of 
the shutters bore the rude "shingle" of the physician. 

At first sight of him, the parrot cried : 

"Hello!" and skipping from its perch with an 
expression almost human, stroked its wings and face 
on the Doctor s feet. 

Beck had said on meeting him : 

"I ve read the papers in the mahogany case, and I ve 
found your long-lost brother." 

It was not hard to trace the resemblance between the 
Tobias Shorter of the Doctor s notes and the poor 


simpleton, and when this and that were put together, 
the old man felt the force of each coincident. He had 
not seen the wanderer for many years, but when 
brought face to face with him, the recognition was 
complete. Ever after it was touching to see the 
meeting of the two, as there seemed to be a glimmer 
of some past episode that caused the feeble-minded 
man to smile. And the Doctor strove hard to arouse 
some recollection through which he might be better 
known, but he dropped the hand of the other with a, 

Doctor Tom Shorter had always been judge in the 
disputes among the men, and the umpire of their 
wagers. When the ruder forms of meting out justice 
had passed away and the first steps of political govern 
ment were taken, it seemed the proper thing that he 
should be made a magistrate. There were many per 
plexing r ifs and buts " to be squared in knotty questions 
that came before him, but he managed well and kept 
the peace. 

Two men in the town fell out about a small debt. 
On the day of trial before his honor he proposed to 
them a basis of settlement to which they agreed on 
condition that there should be no costs, to which the 
Doctor, in his official capacity, consented. But a diffi 
culty arose. Heinrich, who had been duly appointed a 
constable, and who had a right to his fees, was 
unwilling to give them up. The Doctor tried to pre 
vail with him, but in vain. Finally growing impatient, 
as he considered the constable a mere attache, he gave 

318 SNAP. 

a peremptory order to consent, and on his refusal fined 
him the exact amount of his fees for contempt, entered 
up the judgment on the basis of the compromise and 
adjourned the court ! * 

Beck dropped in at the school very often. 

"Schoolmaster," he said, one day, "I ll bet these 
boys a pony they can t tell the duties of a citizen." 

One lad looked up with a cheerful face and seemed 
to wrestle with the question. 

" If you know speak out, sir," said the teacher. 

" First," he answered, " is to fear God." 

" Spoken like a man ; what next ? " 

" To love his country." 

"Right, sir; look out, Mister Beck, your pony s in 
danger ; go on, little man." 

The lad faltered ; it was an idea of his own at which 
he halted. 

" Go on," said Beck, " you shall have the pony ; 
what s the next duty of a citizen ? " 

" To shoot an Injin ; " the boy answered boldly, and 
believed what he said. 

" That s not exactly it," the teacher said, but Beck 
was pleased and gave up. 

" He can have the pony," he added, laughing. 

On the fourth of July following the little horse was 
presented as a gift from John Beck, and during the holi 
day the recipient and his chums put the pony to use, boy 
fashion, and bantered Mrs. Garrulson to a mount. They 
helped her to her seat, and one went so far as to kneel, 

* Adapted from " Western Character McConnell." 



that she might step from his back to the saddle, while 
another applied a match to an explosive which hung 
from the pony s tail. What followed belongs to the 
chronicles of the town ; a legend in after years told the 
story of a horse flying by, its tail on fire, and puffing 
smoke from its nostrils. The old woman, it was said, 
waited her turn with patience, but before the year was 
over she had thrashed every boy in that school. 

Charles Marshall the Whack of other days and 
his charming wife Lu made their home at the old place ; 
the trade called him away often, and she travelled with 
him. The baptismal name of the blessing which 
heaven sent them was Mary Cheviteau Marshall ; a 
blue-eyed baby beauty. 

Tim Murphy, not once or twice, but many times to 
many strangers, as he stood on the village street, 
called up its history ; it was over this path, he would 
say, that Mary came to visit the sick, and near it she 
sung, when the infant was buried ; along it she sped to 
the help of the women and children ; over it ran the 
savage with his torch, and about it glared the rash, 
red flames of that terrible midnight ; here rode the 
rough riders to the bugle s note, and madly in pursuit 
drove the invader back. 

"Ah, be jabes, me boy, yees may look at me, 
what s lift av coorse ; an yandcr s the stone-pile, whar 
under it slapes a score of me frens ; an we font like 
tigers, do ye mind ; rest to their sowls." 

" John, said Mary, in the early morning, as she sat 
on the old porch, "look there ! " 

320 SNAP. 

He came and stood at her side, looking down the 
walk; a broad, bright flood of the summer sunrise- 
light, in broken glints through the foliage, fell on the 
porch of the inn, on the steps of the cabin-store ; it 
gleamed on the little mound, stole into the school-house 
window; it shone all radiant on the poplars, and 
glanced to the grave of the trader ; in one lone ray, 
golden and glad, it clung to the church s spire. 

" It is beautiful, John," she said. 

"Yes, Mary," he answered, as one who had found 
his content, for his face was young again and full of 
hope ; " the sun seems to think it good what the law 
has made ; and the law calls it Mary svi lie." 

Just then their baby boy came running to out 
stretched arms ; she raised him to her shoulder, turning 
the fresh, fair face to the beams of the morning ; every 
feature was his mother s. Type of a new generation, 
the little fellow gazed out on the wide, green wonder 
and clapped his hands ; looked long on the waste whose 
spectres his father had felled, that he, of a race to 
come, might live and be happy. 

Near enough to please him with the whirl of the 
whip, Beck stood, a proud, true, sturdy man, as he 
sprung the lash with the old, sharp snap ; the signal 
of after years, when the Pathfinder and the Goldseeker 
led the way, which was heard in one commingling 
sound from lines of trains continuous, beginning at the 
river to halt by " the deep sounding sea." 



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