Chapter 27

I’ll no swaggerers: I am in good name and fame with the very best:—shut the door:—there come no swaggerers here: I have not lived all this while, to have swaggering now: shut the door, I pray you.


Mahtoree encountered, at the door of his lodge, Ishmael, Abiram, and Esther. The first glance of his eye, at the countenance of the heavy-moulded squatter, served to tell the cunning Teton, that the treacherous truce he had made, with these dupes of his superior sagacity, was in some danger of a violent termination.

“Look you here, old grey-beard,” said Ishmael, seizing the trapper, and whirling him round as if he had been a top; “that I am tired of carrying on a discourse with fingers and thumbs, instead of a tongue, ar’ a natural fact; so you’ll play linguister and put my words into Indian, without much caring whether they suit the stomach of a Red-skin or not.”

“Say on, friend,” calmly returned the trapper; “they shall be given as plainly as you send them.”

“Friend!” repeated the squatter, eyeing the other for an instant, with an expression of indefinable meaning. “But it is no more than a word, and sounds break no bones, and survey no farms. Tell this thieving Sioux, then, that I come to claim the conditions of our solemn bargain, made at the foot of the rock.”

When the trapper had rendered his meaning into the Sioux language, Mahtoree demanded, with an air of surprise—

“Is my brother cold? buffaloe skins are plenty. Is he hungry? Let my young men carry venison into his lodges.”

The squatter elevated his clenched fist in a menacing manner, and struck it with violence on the palm of his open hand, by way of confirming his determination, as he answered—

“Tell the deceitful liar, I have not come like a beggar to pick his bones, but like a freeman asking for his own; and have it I will. And, moreover, tell him I claim that you, too, miserable sinner as you ar’, should be given up to justice. There’s no mistake. My prisoner, my niece, and you. I demand the three at his hands, according to a sworn agreement.”

The immovable old man smiled, with an expression of singular intelligence, as he answered—

“Friend squatter, you ask what few men would be willing to grant. You would first cut the tongue from the mouth of the Teton, and then the heart from his bosom.”

“It is little that Ishmael Bush regards, who or what is damaged in claiming his own. But put you the questions in straight-going Indian, and when you speak of yourself, make such a sign as a white man will understand, in order that I may know there is no foul play.

The trapper laughed in his silent fashion, and muttered a few words to himself before he addressed the chief—

“Let the Dahcotah open his ears very wide,” he said, “that big words may have room to enter. His friend the Big-knife comes with an empty hand, and he says that the Teton must fill it.”

“Wagh! Mahtoree is a rich chief. He is master of the prairies.”

“He must give the dark-hair.”

The brow of the chief contracted in an ominous frown, that threatened instant destruction to the audacious squatter; but as suddenly recollecting his policy, he craftily replied—

  By PanEris using Melati.

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