D. W. (David W.) Belisle.

The American family Robinson; or, The adventures of a family lost in the great desert of the West online

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see it, as well as I. Don't you think she would
make a wigwam look comfortable, and more home-
like than Jane ?"

" I cannot tell ; I never see the stars when the
sun shines," returned the Indian.

" It is a pity no one but an old bachelor heard
that compliment it is such a waste," laughed the
trapper. " I sc you are over ears in love, chief.
I know precisely how you feel. I was once in love
myself. It did not last long though, for my flame
gave my keepsakes to a good for nothing popinjay
from down east ; one for a string to bind round a
broken knapsack, the other to carry home with him



202 THE WANDERERS; on,

for a show. That was enough for me. I just told
her I was done with her."

" You in love ! that is capital ! ha ! ha !" rang
out a voice behind the speaker, who, turning round,
stood face to face with Edward, who had taken it
into his head to share in the sport, and, following
their track in the snow, had come up with them
unperceived.

" What sent you here ? anything the matter at
the camp ?" they asked in a breath.

" Nothing at all, that is why I came. I mis-
trusted you had some fun together out here, and I
came to share it. Come, uncle, give the whole
history of your love making. The bare idea of
your being in love is rich," and the merry boy
laughed until the woods rang with the joyous peals.

" I shall do no such thing. Do you think because
I am old and ugly now, that I have always been
so. There has been a day, boy, when "

" You were once handsome, uncle, that is a fact,
and they do say I look just as you used to. Come
now, tell us about this affair."

" Well," said the trapper, mollified by the flat-
tery. " when I was about three-and-twenty, I was
just about as green as young, and took it into
my head to get married, having jrersuaded myself
that I was in love, and that, if I did not, I should
not live long. Polly Crane was a nice girl, she
could hoe corn, thresh grain, break fractious colts,
or shoot a benr, just as well as I could myself. She



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 203

was just the one for me, and we had got everything
all fixed to be married, when a chap came travelling
up there, (making mischief J thought) dressed
exactly like a, minister, only 1 knew he was not,
he used such profane language. Well what does
he do but begin making love to Polly, which made
me very angry."

" ' Never mind, Andy,' said Polly. c You know
I don't care for him or anybody else but you. I
am only trying to see how bad he will feel when
we are married.'

" ' Go ahead then,' I said, ' if that is your game,'
and sure enough she did go ahead, as I soon
found out. When I was up round Lake Superior,
the winter before, trapping with father, we got one
night by mistake, into a grizzly bear's den, intend-
ing to spend the night. We soon found out our
mistake, when we saw some cubs, and got ourselves
out of the scrape as soon as we got in ; but, as the
cubs were such pretty things, I thought what a
nice keepsake one of them would make Polly. So
I hid one under my jacket unbeknown to father,
until the old bear came snarling about us, after we
had built a fire and lail down to sleep.'

" ' Wonder what's the matter with the beast/
said father, ' guess she has tracked us from her
den.'

" ' Guess she misses her cub,' said I.

"'By George, Andy, you have get us in a fine
scrape. However, my lady,' said the old man to



204 THE WANDERERS; on,

the bear, 'you can't have that cub now: we never
give up to anybody ;' and, with that, he fired a
ball between her eyes. But instead of dying,
she attacked us, and we had a desperate fight
She got the worst of it though, for we carried off
both her skin and cub. You ought to have seen
the cub, it was a beauty, and when I gave it to
Polly, she pretended that she thought it the nicest
keepsake she ever saw. The other was, the skin
of a snake. It was nearly six feet long, and very
wide, spotted all over its back with white, brown,
and black spots, and its sides were striped with
brown, so that, when I split it open in the middle,
it looked like a ribbon. I made it as soft, smooth
and pretty as anything you ever saw.

" I did really think Polly was trying to deceive
him, until he was going away, when I saw that
pretty snake skin tied around his plunder, and as
if that was not enough with a string in hand, he
was leading away the cub of the grizzly bear that
I had brought all the way from Superior for her."

" My brother's squaw's tongue was forked the
antelope's tongue is not forked, she cannot lie,"
said the chief.

"Look here, chief; they are all alike. When
they say they will have you, they mean they will
if they don't get out of the notion of it."

" My brother's heart is dark, and, looking
through it, he sees nothing but gloom, where I see
sunshine," returned the chief.



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 205

" That is, I am to understand, you are in love,
and uncle thinks it is an exploded fallacy," said
Edward, laughing ; for, in truth, he was in a merry
mood, and his uncle's mishaps did not have a
tendency to lessen it in the least.

" It is nonsense, all nonsense," said the trapper.

" Hist !" said the chief, laying his finger on his
lip, " there is large game approaching ! there ! I
hear it again : have your arrows in readiness," he
continued, after a moment's pause.

"Deer, perhaps," said the trapper, "it comes
in leaps ; I hear it distinctly."

" Yes, deer, 7 ' said the chief, drawing his bow to
his shoulder as a noble buck bounded in sight, with
his tongue protruding from his mouth, and his
eyes had a wild look of agony and terror, such as
is only seen at a moment of despair.

" Chased by a wolf! let the deer pass and shoot
the pursuer," said the trapper; but, scarcely were
the words spoken, when a giant form covered with
hair, but bearing in form a semblance to humanity,
came bounding after, clearing from ten to twelve
feet at every bound. On he came, and, at the
base of the knoll on which they stood, overtook
his prey, and grasping it by ths throat, with one
hand dealt it a succession of furious blows on the
head which knocked it down, when choking it until
life was extinct, he stood upright contemplating
cis prey.

They had instinctively dropped their arrowa

18



206 THE WANDERERS; OR

when they saw the pursuer; and Whirlwind mo-
tioning the others to keep still, glided on towards
the singular creature, slipping from tree to tree
until within a few rods of him, when, taking from
beneath his tunic his lasso, which he always car-
ried with him, he cut a circle with it in the air,
then giving it a throw r , it quickly descended, gird-
ling the strange being in its fold. With an
unearthly yell, he attempted to free himself from
its coil. Unfortunately it did not confine either
arm, as the chief hoped it w r ould, and the creature
finding it could neither break the stout hide nor
gnaw it off, sprang with ferocity at his captor, who
had just succeeded in fastening the other end of
the lasso to a tree, and before he had time to get
out of the way, seized and threw him on the
snow with terrific force.

Howe saw the chief at the mercy of the mon-
ster, and in a moment an arrow winged its flight,
burying itself in its shoulder, causing the monster
to lose his hold. Another and another were shot
in quick succession, striking where they would not
give a mortal wound, for it looked so human, the
trapper would not kill him if he could save the life
of the chief otherwise. This new attack puzzled
the monster for a moment ; then seeing Howe and
Edward, who had approached within a few yards
of him, he rushed with such force upon them, that
they had no time to get out of reach, and they
were also caught by him and hurled to the ground,



LIFE- IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 207

but not before a blow dealt by Edward with a ciub
had broken his left arm. At that moment the
chief, who had recovered from the stunning effect
of the fall, rushed upon the monster, and with a
single blow of his tomahawk, felled him to the
ground, and before he could rally, the lasso that
was still on him, was tied around his arms and feet
to render him powerless. In defiance of the wounds
he had received, he was in nowise tamed, but glared
on them, howling and gnashing his teeth, while the
foam rolled from his mouth, and he writhed and
rolled with rage on the snow a captive. The stout
lasso of hide they had cut in pieces, and so tied
his hands and feet that he -was powerless to do them
harm.

They now had a chance to examine the powerful
creature at leisure. He was entirely naked, with
a perfect human form and face, but was perfectly
covered with hair, except the forehead, eyelids,
palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. They
were surprised to see that the skin, where it was
protected from the sun by the hair, was white and
fair as their own. He was powerfully built, full
six feet high, and uttered no sound that approached
the pronunciation of words; a succession of
snarls, growls, and yells, were all the sounds he
uttered, and these approached, when accompanied
by his efforts to release himself, the terrific, nearet
than anything they had ever heard.



208 THE WANDERERS; OR,

"Well, uncle, what will you do with him
you have got him ?" said Edward.

"Kill him," spoke up the chief, indignantly.

"Take him home and tame him," said the trap-
per. "He is a human being like ourselves ; proba-
bly has been lost in infancy, and grown up wild,
without doubt, never having seen his kind before
to-day."

"He will kill us if you take him home," said
the chief; "better shoot him."

"No, chief, I could not kill him, but will see he
does us no harm. I will make him as tame as a
kitten in a month."

" How will you get him home, uncle ? We can
not carry him, and if you untie his feet he will
run away."

" That is what I was just thinking about. I
think one of us had better return for the colt, and
make him ride."

" Very good, if you can get him on and make
him stay there," said the chief.

"Make him go himself: tie him so he cannot
run away," suggested Edward.

"I am not sure but that would be the best plan,"
said Howe. " I am sorry he got that blow on his
arm ; I am sure it pains him ; see how he attempts
to raise it, and groans at every motion he makes."

"Do you really think, uncle, he is human ? It
strikes me he is a monkey, or an orang-outang,
rather than human."



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 209



" There is neither monkey nor orang-outang in
the North American forests. One such snow as
now lies on the ground, would kill a myriad of
them. I am quite confident of the customer I
have to deal with. He is no more nor less than a
wild man, whose long exposure to the elements,
and total isolation from every human being, has
caused the hair to grow over his body. This
also explains why he cannot speak like us."

They then endeavored to get him forward, hav-
ing partly untied his feet so as to allow him to move.
The chief, with a stout cord, went forward and
endeavored to urge him on, but the wild man
refused to move. After exhausting every plan they
could devise, they bethought themselves of coer-
cion. Howe accordingly raised a club as if he
would strike, when, with a wild cry of alarm, he
raised his eyes imploringly, at the same time start-
ing forward, when the chief moving on, gave him
to understand he was to follow.

On perceiving what was required of him, and find-
ing it was useless to attempt an escape, he made
no further opposition to follow, although it was
not safe to be near him as he gnashed with his
teeth at every one that approached him.

Reaching the temple without further trouble,
Edward called the attention of Jane to the new
addition to their family, and said with perfect gra-
vity

" I really think you have one of the most devoted

18*



210 THE WANDERERS; OR,

wooers ; see what a rare prize he has risked life
and limb in securing for you, which he begs you
will have the kindness to accept from him in token
of the love he bears you."

''Why, what a monscer it is," said Sidney,
walking round and round it. "It is a comical
keepsake to give a girl, I must say. Really,
chief, you Indians have curious tastes about such



matters.'



" My brother gave his squaw a cub," retorted
the chief, angrily, as they all burst into a laugh at
the very idea of the monster being presented to
Jane, who was casting furtive glances from it to
the chief, and was just beginning to think that she
might next be called on to accept a wolf or pan-
ther, and was casting in her mind the chances she
had in escaping such an infliction, when the chief
said, as if divining her thoughts,

"It is not for the antelope. See, Whirlwind kill
it," and he raised his tomahawk, and would have
driven it into the wild man's skull had not his arm
been caught by the trapper.

"Chief! would you be a murderer?" asked the
trapper, sternly. " See him crouch ! he fears you,
and depend up >n it, if we use our power over him
discreetly, we shall tame him."

V '

The chief dropped his arm and doggedly walked
away. Jane brought some nuts and placing them
where he could reach them, begged her uncle to un-
bind the cord around his hand so that he could eat



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 211

them. This he did not think prudent to do until
the broken bone was set, which, after a great deal
of trouble, he succeeded in doing, effectually bind-
ing up the fracture with soft strips of the mountain
sheep skin, of which they had an abundance in
their store room.

After this was done he was dressed in a tunic
and small clothes, the long hair was cut from his
face as well as they could with their hunting-knives,
to which they had given an extra sharpening for
the occasion. Tightening the cord around his
feet they unbound the cord that confined his hands,
when he seized the nuts, cracked them with his
teeth and devoured them with avidity.

" Broil him some steaks, Jane," said the trap-
per, "I think he is hungry."

" There is a cold haunch of venison in the store
room ; perhaps he will eat that," said Jane.

" Of course he will ; bring it in." Cutting oft
some thick slices she laid them before him ; eyeing
them intently for a moment as if not knowing what
they were, he cautiously turned them over and
then turned his eye with an inquiring look towards
Jane, who smiling, cut off another slice and com-
menced eating it. Seeing the action he cautiously
raised his slice to his lips; but as soon as he had
tasted it all doubt seemed to vanish, for the veni-
son disappeared rapidly. Jane continued to cut as
long as he continued to eat, and when he had done
gave him a gourd of water to drink.



212 THE WANDERERS; OB,

" I am afraid we have fed him to highly for hia
broken arm. There will be danger of fever," said
the trapper. They miscalculated his nature, and
supposed causes produced the same effects in a health-
ful and an enervated constitution. This know-
ledge gradually dawned on them as day after day
went by without exhibiting the least derangement
in his system. From the first, he had been docile
and obedient to Jane, and when in the most violent
paroxysms, if she spoke to him, his anger vanished
and his countenance assumed a pleasing expression.
He had eyes of clear, deep blue, large, quick and
varying as the emotion in his heart. They could
see the passion that held sway over him by his
eye; for he had not, like his brothers, learned
to dissemble and hide the workings of the soul
within. Howe had also become a great favorite with
him ; but he feared the chief, always cowering and
uttering a shrill cry of fear if he came near him.
Edward was also a favorite and spent much of his
time in learning him to pronounce words in which
he was quite successful, his powers of imitation
seeming to be boundless. After he had pronounced
the first the difficulty seemed to vanish, and he waa
never tired of repeating words after others. The
greatest trouble they experienced with him was
during his fits of passion. Then he was furious,
tore his fur garments in shreds, and threw down
every thing in his reach. They had not dared to
liberate him on account of these paroxysms of



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 213

anger, over which he did not seem to have the least
control. He evidently pined to be free again ;
for if left to himself he uttered a low moan, while
tears chased each other down his weather-beaten
cheeks.



214 THE WANDERERS; OB ;



Cljuphr /nurtnntjf.



The return of spring Their thoughts of home Preparations to
continue their journey -The chief insists upon their course being
wrong Escape of the Wild Man They discover a borough of
Prairie Dogs Traces of Buffalo observable They suffer from
want of water A party of Indians A beautiful landscape A
terrific storm The chief rendered insensible by a stroke of
lightning He recovers and returns to the camp.

THE warm south wind now began to stir the air,
while the lengthened days, swelling buds, and
melting snows, assured them the patiently waited
for and much desired spring had come.

" Home father, mother, brothers, sister ; for,
where they are, there is home. Shall we indeed
see you and once more be folded in your arms ?
Shall these wanderings ever cease, of which our
souls are weary, and our hearts are sick ? Oh !
home ; thou hope of the weary, and haven of rest,
though thy place be the tomb, when shall we see
thee !" they sadly and feelingly exclaimed.

Howe and the chief made daily excursions down
the valley, in search of wild horses, being anxious
to secure each member of their party one for riding
and two for pack horses. " For," said Howe,



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 216

" we will start with good horses, and as the sum-
mer is before us, it will go hard with us, if we do
not find home before cold weather comes again."

" Before the snows again fall," said the chief,
" we will not only have found the son of the great
Medicine, but will be back here, never more to
leave again.''

They were successful in their hunts, and a finer
set of horses never wore a halter than those wild
ones they had secured, and which twice a day they
rode roand the forest, in order to tame, and
accustom them to carry burthens. They had
quite a store of nuts still on hand, packed in
bags made of skins, which they lashed on one
of the horses' backs ; and their jerked and dried
meats, together with a quantity of salt that they
collected at the salt spring, were packed on an-
other ; as was also, half a dozen gourd shells, and
one of the kettles they had found, which had, from
the many uses to which they applied it, become a
necessity. Three or four skins according to their
thickness, that had been cured with the hair on,
were tightly sewed together for a saddle with small
strings, and the whole firmly bound on the horses
back by a broad band. By mewis of the leather
they had been enabled to make a very good bridle
for Jane and Edward, but Howe and the chief
preferred riding with a single band or string for a
halter, and this they rarely held in their hands,
but went dashing through the forest, their hands



216 THE WANDERERS; OR,

free, and their bodies bent almc st to their horses'
necks.

With something like the feeling of parting with
a friend, they bade adieu to the friendly shelter
that had protected them from the wet and cold so
many months ; the beautiful valley with its park-
like trees, many now in bloom ; and the smooth
verdant sward, its ruins, the sole links of the
present with the past, and the only token left that
others had lived, known joy and sorrow, and died
on a land, supposed to have never, before the
present race become its masters, known a civilized
people.

They rode gaily forth Howe with his niece and
nephew, the Indian chieftain, the timid Mahnewe
with her child, and the wild man, whom they had
christened Oudin, from a habit he had of repeating
a sound very much like the pronunciation of that
word. He had become quite docile, understood
many sentences, and could be made to understand
by words and signs all that was required of him.
He also attempted to use words in conveying his
wants to others, and they noticed with pleasure, his
fits of passion were less frequent, and when they
had passed away he seemed ashamed of triem.

Taking their course down the valley, which grew
broader and gradually assumed the appearance of
a primitive forest, and pursued their way along the
stream that kept its course at the base of the moun-
tain on their right until night, when they encamped



LfPE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 217

on its bank. At early dawn they again com-
menced their journey, and leaving the stream, took
their course farther to the left, as the chief per-
sisted in his belief that their whole course had been
wrong, and that in order to find their friends,
they must take another direction. Howe readily
assented to this ; for, in fact, he was so completely
bewildered that he was at a loss what course should
be pursued. The forest now began to lose much
of its grandeur, the soil grew sandy, and every
species of verdure had a stunted and gnarled
appearance. At night they encamped on the verge
of a broad prairie that stretched far away towards
the horizon. They had much difficulty in pro-
curing a supply of water for their horses that
night, the surface around where they were having
a parched, arid appearance ; so different from the
fresh verdure of the forest through which they had
been travelling, as to cause a feeling of momentary
sadness to come over them. This was, however,
dispelled by the chief who was highly elated at
having struck the prairie.

"Over yonder/' said he, stretching his hand
towards the wide expanse before them, " our
friends await us. Let not our hearts fail us, for
before two uore suns shall set, we will be among
ihem !"

" So soon ! Oh, what joy !" said Jane, trans-
ported with the thought.

" They may have left the encampment, and

19



218 THE WANDERERS; OR,

pursued tt eir journey, if they had the good for-
tune to get out of the hands of the Crows; and,
then, it may be many days before we overtake
them."

"No,'' said the trapper. "If your father is
living, he never leaves the ground on which he was
encamped, until he ascertains the fate of his child-
ren. Probably he has built a cabin, and is culti-
vating a patch of ground around it. He will never
leave it if we do not return. If it is not so, I
have a wrong conception of the man."

With the chief for a guard, they lay down to
sleep. On awakening the next morning, they
found, to their amazement, that Oudin had escaped
to the forest. This was a great disappointment to
them, after they had taken so much care to keep
him safe and tame him, as he gave promise of
much intelligence when he should become civilized.
There was no help for it, as he had evidently
watched his opportunity to escape and, perhaps,
was now miles away.

" The ungrateful wretch," said Edward, " to
thus run away after we had done our best to civil-
ize him."

"Good!" said the chief; "glad he is gone.
He would kill us some day had he remained."

"I think not," said Howe. "But it is a mys-
tery to me how he escaped your vigilant eve and
ear. Whirlwind, I think you must have siept dur-
ing your watch."



LIFE IN THE WESTERN WILDS. 219

"No," returned the chief, proudly, "Whirlwind
never sleeps when on guard. Whirlwind saw
Oudin loose his bands, but kept still, and when he
stole softly away, did not pursue him."

" What ! you saw and permitted his escape ?"
said the trapper, hurt at the want of good faith in
the chief.

" He pined for the forest even as I should pine
in the white man's village. What right had we to
detain him in a place, and confine him to a life
for which he had no inclination ? Let him go; he
is free, and it is all he craves.' 1

" We had the right of the civilized over the
savage. It was our place to instruct and enlighten
him, and we have done him a great wrong in per-
mitting him to return to the brutish life he led
when we found him."

" Would he be happier when civilized, and had
learned to curse the Great Spirit, and drink the
white man's firewater? Is, the red man happier
than he was before the white man came ?" asked
the Indian, scornfully.

"You know, chief," said the tidpper, "no one
regrets the wrongs my race have inflicted on
your own more than I do, I hope there is a
brighter dawn in store for you, and that you
may live to bless the coming of my people to your
shores."

" The dawn of a never-ending day in the spirit
land awaits us n:> other. I give you iny hand,


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Online LibraryD. W. (David W.) BelisleThe American family Robinson; or, The adventures of a family lost in the great desert of the West → online text (page 12 of 20)