“Perfectly, perfectly,” said Middleton, trembling in his excessive eagerness to put the plan in instant execution, and pressing the little arm, which encircled his body, to his heart. “Perfectly. Hasten, hasten.”

“Ay, the beast is no sloth,” continued the trapper in the Teton language, as if he continued the discourse, edging cautiously through the dusky throng at the same time, until he found himself riding at the side of Paul. He communicated his intentions in the same guarded manner as before. The high-spirited and fearless bee-hunter received the intelligence with delight, declaring his readiness to engage the whole of the savage band, should it become necessary to effect their object. When the old man drew off from the side of this pair also, he cast his eyes about him to discover the situation occupied by the naturalist.

The Doctor, with infinite labour to himself and Asinus, had maintained a position in the very centre of the Siouxes, so long as there existed the smallest reason for believing that any of the missiles of Ishmael might arrive in contact with his person. After this danger had diminished, or rather disappeared entirely, his own courage revived, while that of his steed began to droop. To this mutual but very material change was owing the fact, that the rider and the ass were now to be sought among that portion of the band who formed a sort of rear-guard. Hither, then, the trapper contrived to turn his steed, without exciting the suspicions of any of his subtle companions.

“Friend,” commenced the old man, when he found himself in a situation favourable to discourse, “should you like to pass a dozen years among the savages with a shaved head, and a painted countenance, with, perhaps, a couple of wives and five or six children of the half breed, to call you father?”

“Impossible!” exclaimed the startled naturalist. “I am indisposed to matrimony in general, and more especially to all admixture of the varieties of species, which only tend to tarnish the beauty and to interrupt the harmony of nature. Moreover, it is a painful innovation on the order of all nomenclature.”

“Ay, ay, you have reason enough for your distaste to such a life; but should these Siouxes get you fairly into their village, such would be your luck, as certain as that the sun rises and sets at the pleasure of the Lord.”

“Marry me to a woman who is not adorned with the comeliness of the species!” responded the Doctor. “Of what crime have I been guilty, that so grievous a punishment should await the offence? To marry a man against the movements of his will, is to do a violence to human nature!”

“Now, that you speak of natur’, I have hopes that the gift of reason has not altogether deserted your brain,” returned the old man, with a covert expression playing about the angles of his deep set eyes, which betrayed he was not entirely destitute of humour. “Nay, they may conceive you a remarkable subject for their kindness, and for that matter marry you to five or six. I have known, in my days, favoured chiefs who had numberless wives.”

“But why should they meditate this vengeance?” demanded the Doctor, whose hair began to rise, as if each fibre was possessed of sensibility; “what evil have I done?”

It is the fashion of their kindness. When they come to learn that you are a great medicine, they will adopt you in the tribe, and some mighty chief will give you his name, and perhaps his daughter, or it may be a wife or two of his own, who have dwelt long in his lodge, and of whose value he is a judge by experience.”

“The Governor and Founder of natural harmony protect me!” ejaculated the Doctor. “I have no affinity to a single consort, much less to duplicates and triplicates of the class! I shall certainly essay a flight from their abodes before I mingle in so violent a conjunction.”

“There is reason in your words; but why not attempt the race you speak of now?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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