“Is there nothing to be done?” asked Ellen, in an imploring manner, which proved the sincerity of her concern.

“It would be an easy matter to call out, in so loud a voice as to make old Ishmael dream that the wolves were among his flock,” Paul replied; “I can make myself heard a mile in these open fields, and his camp is but a short quarter from us.”

“And get knocked on the head for your pains,” returned the trapper. “No, no; cunning must match cunning, or the hounds will murder the whole family.”

“Murder! no—no murder. Ishmael loves travel so well, there would be no harm in his having a look at the other sea, but the old fellow is in a bad condition to take the long journey! I would try a lock myself before he should be quite murdered.”

“His party is strong in number, and well armed; do you think it will fight?”

“Look here, old trapper: few men love Ishmael Bush and his seven sledge-hammer sons less than one Paul Hover; but I scorn to slander even a Tennessee shotgun. There is as much of the true stand-up courage among them, as there is in any family that was ever raised in Kentuck, itself. They are a long- sided and a double-jointed breed; and let me tell you, that he who takes the measure of one of them on the ground, must be a workman at a hug.”

“Hist! The savages have done their talk, and are about to set their accursed devises in motion. Let us be patient; something may yet offer in favour of your friends.”

“Friends! call none of the race a friend of mine, trapper, if you have the smallest regard for my affection! What I say in their favour is less from love than honesty.”

“I did not know but the young woman was of the kin,” returned the other, a little drily—“but no offence should be taken, where none was intended.”

The mouth of Paul was again stopped by the hand of Ellen, who took on herself to reply, in her conciliating tones: “we should be all of a family, when it is in our power to serve each other. We depend entirely on your experience, honest old man, to discover the means to apprise our friends of their danger.”

“There will be a real time of it,” muttered the bee-hunter, laughing, “if the boys get at work, in good earnest, with these red skins!”

He was interrupted by a general movement which took place among the band. The Indians dismounted to a man, giving their horses in charge to three or four of the party, who were also intrusted with the safe keeping of the prisoners. They then formed themselves in a circle around a warrior, who appeared to possess the chief authority; and at a given signal the whole array moved slowly and cautiously from the centre in straight and consequently in diverging lines. Most of their dark forms were soon blended with the brown covering of the prairie; though the captives, who watched the slightest movement of their enemies with vigilant eyes, were now and then enabled to discern a human figure, drawn against the horizon, as some one, more eager than the rest, rose to his greatest height in order to extend the limits of his view. But it was not long before even these fugitive glimpses of the moving, and constantly increasing circle, were lost, and uncertainty and conjecture were added to apprehension. In this manner passed many anxious and weary minutes, during the close of which the listeners expected at each moment to hear the whoop of the assailants and the shrieks of the assailed, rising together on the stillness of the night. But it would seem, that the search which was so evidently making, was without a sufficient object; for at the expiration of half an hour the different individuals of the band began to return singly, gloomy and sullen, like men who were disappointed.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.