“All—all—he forgot nothing, even to the most trifling incident. Do you not—”

“What! did he tell you of the imp behind the log— and of the miserable devil who went over the fall—or of the wretch in the tree?”

“Of each and all, with every thing that concerned them.1

I should think—”

“Ay,” continued the old man, in a voice, which betrayed how powerfully his own faculties retained the impression of the spectacle, “I have been a dweller in forests, and in the wilderness for three-score and ten years, and if any can pretend to know the world, or to have seen scary sights, it is myself! But never, before nor since, have I seen human man in such a state of mortal despair as that very savage; and yet he scorned to speak, or to cry out, or to own his forlorn condition! It is their gift, and nobly did he maintain it!”

“Harkee, old trapper,” interrupted Paul, who content with the knowledge that his waist was grasped by one of the arms of Ellen, had hitherto ridden in unusual silence; “my eyes are as true and as delicate as a humming-bird’s in the day; but they are nothing worth boasting of by starlight. Is that a sick buffaloe, crawling along in the bottom, there, or is it one of the stray cattle of the savages?”

The whole party drew up, in order to examine the object, which Paul had pointed out. During most of the time, they had ridden in the little vales in order to seek the protection of the shadows, but just at that moment, they had ascended a roll of the prairie in order to cross into the very bottom where this unknown animal was now seen.

“Let us descent,” said Middleton; “be it beast or man, we are too strong to have any cause of fear.”

“Now, if the thing was not morally impossible,” cried the trapper, who the reader must have already discovered was not always exact in the use of qualifying words, “if the thing was not morally impossible, I should say, that was the man, who journeys in search of reptiles and insects: our fellow-traveller the Doctor.”

“Why impossible? did you not direct him to pursue this course, in order to rejoin us?”

“Ay, but I did not tell him to make an ass outdo the speed of a horse:—you are right—you are right,” said the trapper, interrupting himself, as by gradually lessening the distance between them, his eyes assured him it was Obed and Asinus, whom he saw; “you are right, as certainly as the thing is a miracle. Lord, what a thing is fear! How now, friend; you have been industrious to have got so far ahead in so short a time. I marvel at the speed of the ass!”

“Asinus is overcome,” returned the naturalist, mournfully. “The animal has certainly not been idle since we separated, but he declines all my admonitions and invitations to proceed. I hope there is no instant fear from the savages?”

“I cannot say that; I cannot say that; matters are not as they should be, atween the squatter and the Tetons, nor will I answer as yet for the safety of any scalp among us. The beast is broken down! you have urged him beyond his natural gifts, and he is like a worried hound. There is pity and discretion in all things, even though a man be riding for his life.”

“You indicated the star,” returned the Doctor, “and I deemed it expedient to use great diligence in pursuing the direction.”

“Did you expect to reach it, by such haste? Go, go; you talk boldly of the creatur’s of the Lord, though I plainly see you are but a child in matters that concern their gifts and instincts. What a plight would you now be in, if there was need for a long and a quick push with our heels?”

  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.