Edward S. Ellis.

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he dashed forward as determinedly as ever. To his unutterable chagrin,
however, it was not long before he realized that the footsteps of his
enemy were gradually becoming more distant. His rage grew with his
adversary's gradual escape, and he would have pursued had he been
certain of rushing into destruction itself. All at once he made a
second fall, and, instead of recovering, went headlong down into a
gully, fully a dozen feet in depth.

Teddy, stunned by his heavy fall, lay insensible for some fifteen or
twenty minutes. He returned to consciousness with a ringing sensation
in his ears, and it was some time before he could recall all the
circumstances of his predicament. Gradually the facts dawned upon him,
and he listened. Everything was oppressively still. He heard not the
voice of his master, and not even the sound of any of the denizens of
the wood.

His first movement was to feel for his rifle, which he had brought
with him in his descent, and which he found close at hand. In the act
of rising, he caught the sound of a footstep, and saw, at the same
instant, the outlines of a person that he knew at once could be no
other than the man whom he had been pursuing. The hunter was about a
dozen feet distant, and seemed perfectly aware of the Irishman's
presence, for he stood with folded arms, facing his pursuer. The
darkness prevented Teddy's discovering anything more than his enemy's
outline But this was enough for a shot to do its work. Teddy
cautiously brought his rifle to his shoulder, and lifted the hammer.
Pointing it at the breast of his adversary, so as to be sure of his
aim, he pulled the trigger, but there was no response. The gun either
was unloaded, or had been injured by its rough usage. The dull click
of the lock reached the ear of the target, who asked, in a low, gruff

"Why do _you_ seek me? You and I have no quarrel."

"A purty question, ye murtherin' haythen! I'll settle with yees, if
yees only come down here like a man. Jist play the wolf and belave me
a sheep, and come down here for your supper."

[Illustration: "A purty question, ye murtherin haythen!"]

"My quarrel is not with you, I tell you, but with your psalm-singing
_master_ - "

"And ain't that _meself_?" interrupted Teddy. "What's mine is his, and
what's his is mine, and what's me is both, and what's both is me,
barring neither one is my own, but all belong to Master Harvey, and
Miss Cora, God bless their souls. Don't talk of quarreling wid _him_
and being friendly to _me_, ye murtherin' spalpeen! Jist come down
here a bit, I say, if ye's got a spick of honor in yer rusty shirt."

"My ill-will is not toward you, although, I repeat, if you step in my
way you may find it a dangerous matter. You think I tried to shoot
you, but you are mistaken. Do you suppose I could have come as near
and _missed_ without doing so on _purpose_? To-night I could have
brought you and your master, or his wife, and sent you all out of the
world in a twinkling. I've roamed the woods too long to miscarry at a
dozen yards."

Teddy began to realize that the man told the truth, yet it cannot be
said that his anger was abated, although a strong curiosity mingled
with it.

"And what's yer raison for acting in that shtyle, to as good a man as
iver asked God's blessing on a sunny morning, and who wouldn't tread
on one of yer corns, that is, if yer big feet isn't all corns, like a
toad's back, as I suspict, from the manner in which ye leaps over the

"_He_ knows who I am, and he knows he has given me good cause to
remind him of my existence. _He_ can tell you, if he chooses; I shall
not. But let yourself and him take warning from what you already

"And be the same token, let yourself be taking warning. As sure as
I'm the ninth son of the seventh mother, I'll - "

The hunter was gone!



The echoing rock, the rushing flood,
The cataract's swell, the moaning wood;
The undefined and mingled hums -
Voice of the desert never dumb!
All these have left within this heart
A feeling tongue can ne'er impart;
A wildered and unearthly flame,
A something that's without a name. - ETTRICK SHEPHERD.

With extreme difficulty, Teddy made his way out of the ravine into
which purposely he had been led by the hunter. He was full of aches
and pains when he attempted to walk, and more than once was compelled
to halt to ease his bruised limbs.

As he painfully made his way back to the camp he did a vast deal of
cogitation. When in extreme pain of body, produced by a mishap
intentionally conceived by another, it is but following the natural
law of cause and effect to feel a certain degree of exasperation
toward the evil-doer; and, as the Irishman at every step experienced a
sharp twinge that ofttimes made him cry out, his ejaculations were
neither conceived in charity nor uttered in good-will toward all men.
Still, he pondered deeply upon what the hunter had said, and was
perplexed to know what could possibly be its meaning.

The simple nature of the Irishman was unable to fathom the mystery. He
could not have believed even had Harvey Richter himself confessed to
having perpetrated a crime or a wrong, that the minister had been
guilty of anything sufficient to give cause of enmity. The strange
hunter whom they had unexpectedly encountered several times, must be
some crack-brained adventurer, the victim of a fancied wrong, who,
most likely, had mistaken Harvey Richter for another person.

What could be the object in firing at the missionary, yet taking pains
that no harm should be inflicted? That was another impenetrable
mystery; but, let it be comprehensible or not, the wrathful servitor
inwardly vowed that, if the man crossed the path of himself or his
master again, and the opportunity offered, he should shoot him down as
he would a wild animal.

In the midst of his absorbing reverie, Teddy suddenly paused and
looked around him. He was lost. Shrewd enough to understand that to
attempt to extricate himself would only lead into a greater
entanglement, from which it might not be possible to escape at all, he
wisely concluded to remain where he was until daylight. Gathering a
few twigs and leaves, with his well-stored "punk-box" he soon started
a small fire, by the light of which he collected a sufficient quantity
of fuel to last until morning.

Few scenes of nature are more impressive than a forest at night. That
low deep roar, born of silence itself - the sad sighing of the
wind - the tall, column-like trunks, resembling huge sentinels keeping
guard over the mysteries of ages - the silent sea of foliage overhead,
that seems to shut in a world of its own - all have an influence,
peculiar, irresistible and sublime.

The picket upon duty is a prey to many an imaginary danger. The
rustling of a leaf, the crackling of a twig, the flitting shadows of
the ever-changing clouds, are made to assume the guise of a foe,
endeavoring to steal upon him unawares. Again and again Teddy was
certain he heard the stealthy tread of the strange hunter, or some
prowling Indian, and his heart throbbed violently at the expected
encounter. Then, as the sound ceased, a sense of his utter loneliness
came over him, and he pined for his old home in the States, which he
had so lately left.

A tremulous wail, which came faintly through the silence of the
boundless woods, reminded him that there were other inhabitants of the
solitude besides human beings. At such times, he drew nearer to the
fire, as a child would draw near to a friend to shun an imaginary

But, finally the drowsy god asserted himself, and the watcher passed
off into a deep slumber. His last recollection was a dim consciousness
of hearing the tread of something near the camp-fire. But his stupor
was so great that he had not the inclination to arouse himself, and
with his face buried in the leaves of his bushy couch, he quickly lost
cognizance of all things, and floated off into the illimitable realms
of sleep - Sleep, the sister of Death.

He came out of his heavy slumber from feeling something snuffing and
clawing at his shoulder. He was wide awake at once, and all his
faculties, even to his anger, were aroused.

"Git out, ye owld sarpent!" he shouted, springing to his feet. "Git
out, or I'll smash yer head the same as I smashed the assassin's,
barring I didn't do it!"

The affrighted animal leaped back several yards, as lightly as a
shadow. Teddy caught only a glimpse of the beast, but could plainly
detect the phosphorescent glitter of his angry eyes, that watched
every movement. The Irishman's first proceeding was to replenish the
fire. This kept the creature at a safe distance, although he began
trotting around and around, as if to seek some unguarded loophole
through which to compass the destruction of the man who had thus
invaded his dominions.

The tread of the animal resembled the rattling of raindrops upon the
leaves, while its silence, its gliding motion, convinced the
inexperienced Irishman of the brute's exceedingly dangerous character.
His rifle was too much injured to be of use and he could therefore
only keep his precocious foe at a safe distance by piling on fuel
until the camp-fire burned defiantly.

There was no more sleep for Teddy that night. He had received too
great a shock, and the impending danger was too imminent for him to do
any thing but watch, so long as darkness and the animal remained.
Several times he thought there was evidence of the presence of another
beast, but he failed to discover it, and finally believed he had been

It was a tiresome and lonely occupation, this incessant watching, and
Teddy had recourse to several expedients to while away the weary
hours. The first and most natural was that of singing. He trolled
forth every song that he could recall to remembrance, and it may be
truly said that he awoke echoes in those forest-aisles never before
heard there. As in the pauses he heard the volume of sound that seemed
quivering and swaying among the tree-trunks, like the confined air in
an organ, he was awed into silence.

"Whist, ye son of Patrick McFadden; don't ye hear the responses all
around ye, as if the spirits were in the organ loft, thinkin' ye a
praist and thimselves the choir-boys. I belaves, by me sowl, that
ivery tree has got a tongue, for hear how they whispers and mutters.
Niver did I hear the likes. No more singin', Teddy my darlint, to sich
an audience."

He thereupon relapsed into silence, but it was only momentary. He
suddenly looked out into the darkness which shrouded the still
watchful beast from sight, and exclaimed:

"Ye owld shivering assassin, out there, did yees ever hear till how
Tom O'Reilly got his wife? Yees never did, eh? Well, then, be aisy
now, and I'll give yees the truths of the matter.

"Tom was a great, rollicking boy, that had an eye gouged out at the
widow Mulloney's wake, and an ugly cut that made his mouth six inches
wide: and, before he got the cut, it was as broad as yer own out
there. Besides, his hair being of a fire's own red, you may safely say
that he was not the most beautiful young man in Limerick, and that
there wasn't many gals that were dying of a broken heart for the same

"But Tom thought a mighty sight of the gals and a great deal more of
Kitty McGuire, that lived close by the brook as yees come a mile or
two out of this side of Limerick. Tom was possessed after that same
gal, and it only made him the more determined when he found that Kitty
didn't like him at all. He towld the boys he was bound to have her,
and any one who said he wasn't would get his head broke.

"There was a little orphan girl, whose father had gone to Ameriky and
whose mother was dead, that was found one night, years before, in
front of old Mrs. McGuire's door. She was about the same age as Kitty,
and the owld woman took her out of kindness and brought them up
together. She got to be jist as ugly a looking a gal as Tom was a man.
Her hair was redder than his, and her face was just that freckled that
yees couldn't tell which was the freckle and which was the skin
itself. And her nose had a twist, on the ind of it, that made one
think it had been made for a corkscrew, or some machine that you bore
holes with.

"This gal, Molly Mulligan, used to encourage Tom to come to the house,
and was always so mighty kind to him that he used to kiss and shpark
her by way of compinsating her for her trouble. She used to take this
all _very_ well, for she was a great admirer of Tom's, and always
spoke his praise. But Tom didn't make much headway with Kitty. It
wasn't often that he could saa her, and when he did; she was mighty
offish, and was sure to have the owld woman present, like a
dumb-waiter, to be sure. She come to tell him at length that she
didn't admire his coming, and that he would greatly plaise her if he
would make his visits by staying away altogether. The next time Tom
went he found the door locked, and, after hammering a half-hour, and
being towld there was no admittance, he belaved it was meant as a kind
hint that his company was not agreeable. Be yees listening, ye

"Tom might have stood it very well, if another chap hadn't begun
calling on Kitty about this time. He used to go airly in the evening,
and not come out of the house till after midnight, so that one might
belave his visits were welcome. This made Tom feel mighty bad, and so
he hid behind the wall and waylaid the chap one night. He would have
killed the chap, his timper was so ruffled, if the man hadn't nearly
killed him afore he had the chance. He laid all night in the gutter,
and was just able to crawl home next day, while the fellow went
a-courting the next night, as if nothing had happened.

"Tom begun to git melancholy, and his mouth didn't appear quite as
broad as usual. Molly Mulligan thought he had taken slow poison and it
was gradually working through his system; but he could ate his pick of
praties the same as iver. But Tom felt mighty bad; that fact can't be
denied, and he went frequently to consult with a praist that lived
near this ind of Limerick, and who was knowed to cut up a trick or
two during his lifetime. When Tom came out one day looking bright and
cheery, iverybody belaved they had been conspiring togither, and had
hit on some thavish trick they was to play on little Kitty McGuire.

"When the moon was bright, Kitty used to walk to Limerick and back
again of an evening. Her beau most likely went with her, but sometimes
she preferred to go alone, as she knowed no one would hurt a bonny
little gal as herself. Tom knowed of these doings, as in days gone by
he had jined her once or twice. So one night he put a white sheet
around him as she was coming back from Limerick, and hid under the
little bridge over the brook. It was gitting quite late, and the moon
was just gone down, so, when she stepped on the bridge, and he came
out afore her, she gave one shriek, and like to have fainted intirely.

"'Make no noise, or I'll ate ye up alive,' said Tom, trying to talk
like a ghost.

"'What isht yees want?' she asked, shaking like a leaf, 'and who are

"'I'm a shpirit, come to warn ye of your ill-doings.'

"'I know I'm a great sinner,' she cried, covering her face with her
hands; 'but I try to do as well as I can.'

"'Do you know Tom O'Reilly?' he asked, loud enough to be heard in
Limerick. 'You have treated him ill.'

"'That I know I have,' she sobbed, 'and how can I do him justice?'

"'He loves you.'

"'I know he does!'

"'He is a shplendid man, and will make a much bitter husband than the
spalpeen that ye now looks on with favor.'

"'Shall I make him my husband?'

"'Yis; if ye wish to save yourself from purgatory. If the other man
marries yees, he'll murder yees the same night.'

"'Oh!' shrieked the gal, as if she'd go down upon the ground, 'and how
shall I save meself?'

"'By marrying Tom O'Reilly.'

"'Is that the only way?'

"'Ay. Does yees consint?'

"'I do; I must do poor Tom justice.'

"'Will ye marry him this same night?'

"'That I will.'

"'Tom is hid under this bridge; I'll go down and bring him up, and
he'll go to the praist's with yees. Don't ye shtir or I'll ate yees.'

"So Tom whisked under the ind of the bridge, slipped off the sheet,
all the time kaaping one eye cocked above to saa that Kitty didn't
give him the shlip. He then came up and spoke very smilingly to the
gal, as though he hadn't seen her afore that night. He didn't think
that his voice was jist the same.

"Kitty didn't say much, but she walked very quiet by his side, till
they came to the praist's house at this ind of Limerick. The owld
fellow must have been expecting him, for before he could knock, he
opened the door and let him in. The praist didn't wait long, and in
five minutes he towld them they were man and wife, and nothing but
death could iver make them different. Tom gave a regular yell that
made the windys rattle, for he couldn't kaap his faalings down. He
then threw his arms around his wife, gave her another hug, and then
dropped her like a hot potato. For instead of being Kitty McGuire, it
was Molly Mulligan! The owld praist wasn't so bad after all. He had
told Kitty and Molly of Tom's plans, and they had fixed the matter
atween thim.

"Wal, the praist laughed, and Tom looked melancholier than iver; but
purty soon he laughed too, and took the praist's advice to make the
bist of the bargain. Whisht!"

Teddy paused abruptly, for he heard a prolonged but faint halloo. It
was, evidently, the call of his master, and indicated the direction of
the camp. He replied at once, and without thinking one moment of the
prowling brute which might be upon him instantly, he passed beyond the
protecting circle of his fire, and dashed off at top of his speed
through the woods, and ere long reached the camp-fire of his friends.
As he came in, he observed that Mrs. Richter still was asleep beneath
the canoe, while her husband stood watching beside her. Teddy had
determined to conceal the particulars of the conversation he had held
with the officious hunter, but he related the facts of his pursuit and
mishap, and of his futile attempt to make his way back to camp. After
this, the two seated themselves by the fire, and the missionary was
soon asleep. The adventures of the night, however, affected Teddy's
nerves too much for him even to doze, and he therefore maintained an
unremitting watch until morning.

At an early hour, our friends were astir, and at once launched forth
upon the river. They noted a broadening of the stream and weakening of
the current, and at intervals they came upon long stretches of
prairie. The canoe glided closely along, where they could look down
into the clear depths of the water, and discover the pebbles
glistening upon the bottom. Under a point of land, where the stream
made an eddy, they halted, and with their fishing-lines, soon secured
a breakfast which the daintiest gourmand might have envied. They
were upon the point of landing so as to kindle a fire, when Mr.
Richter spoke:

"Do you notice that large island in the stream, Cora? Would you not
prefer that as a landing-place?"

"I think I should."

"Teddy, we'll take our morning meal there."

The powerful arms of the Irishman sent the frail vessel swiftly over
the water, and a moment later its prow touched the velvet shore of the
island. Under the skillful manipulations of the young wife, who
insisted upon taking charge, their breakfast was quickly prepared,
and, one might say, almost as quickly eaten.

They had now advanced so far to the northward that all felt an
anxiety to reach their destination. Accordingly no time was lost in
the ascent of the stream.

The exhilarating influence of a clear spring morning in the forest, is
impossible to resist. The mirror-like sparkle of the water that sweeps
beneath the light canoe, or glitters in the dew-drops upon the ashen
blade; the golden blaze of sunshine streaming up in the heavens; the
dewy woods, flecked here and there by the blossoms of some wild fruit
or flower; the cool air beneath the gigantic arms all a-flutter with
the warbling music of birds; all conjoin to inspire a feeling which
carries us back to boyhood again - to make us young once more.

As Richter sat in the canoe's stern, and drank in the influence of the
scene, his heart rose within him, and he could scarcely refrain from
shouting. His wife, also, seemed to partake of this buoyancy, for her
eyes fairly sparkled as he glanced from side to side. All at once
Teddy ceased paddling and pointed to the left shore. Following the
direction of his finger, Richter saw, standing upon the bank in full
view, the tall, spare figure of the strange hunter. He seemed occupied
in watching them, and was as motionless as the tree-trunks behind
him - so motionless, indeed, that it required a second scrutiny to
prove that it really was not an inanimate object. The intensity of his
observation prevented him from observing that Teddy had raised his
rifle from the canoe. He caught the click of the lock, however, and
spoke in a sharp tone:

"Teddy, don't you dare to - "

His remaining words were drowned in the sharp crack of the piece.

"It's only to frighten him jist, Master Harvey. It'll sarve the good
purpose of giving him the idee we ain't afeard, and if he continues
his thaiving tricks, he is to be shot at sight, as a shaap-stalin'
dog, that he is, to be sure."

"You've hit him!" said his master, as he observed the hunter leap into
the woods.

"Thank the Lord for that, for it was an accident, and he'll l'arn
we've rifles as well as himself. It's mighty little harm, howiver, is
done him, if he can travel in that gay style."

"I am displeased, for your shot might have taken his life, and - but,
see yonder, Teddy, what does that mean?"

Close under the opposite bank, and several hundred yards above them
was discernible a long canoe, in which was seated at least a dozen
Indians. They were coming slowly down-stream, and gradually working
their way into the center of the river. Teddy surveyed them a moment
and said:

"That means they're after us. Is it run or fight?"

"Neither; they are undoubtedly from the village, and we may as well
meet them here as there. What think you, dear wife?"

"Let us join them, by all means, at once."

All doubts were soon removed, when the canoe was headed directly
toward them, and under the propulsion of the many skillful arms, it
came like a bird over the surface of the waters. A few rods away its
speed was slackened, and, before approaching closer, it made a circuit
around the voyageurs' canoe, as if the warriors were anxious to assure
themselves there was no decoy or design in this unresisting surrender.

Evidently satisfied that it was a _bona fide_ affair, the Indians
swept up beside our friends, and one of the warriors, stretching out
his hands, said:

"Gib guns me - gib guns."

"Begorrah, but it would be mighty plaisant to us, if it would be all
the same to yees, if ye'd be clever enough to let us retain
possission of 'em," said Teddy, hesitating about complying with the
demand. "They might do ye some injury, ye know, and besides, I didn't
propose to - "

"Let them have them," said Richter. The Irishman reluctantly obeyed,
and while he passed his rifle over with his left hand, he doubled up
his right, shaking it under the savage's nose.

"Ye've got me gun, ye old log of walnut, but ye hain't got me fists,
begorrah, but, by the powers, ye shall have them some of these fine
mornings whin yer eyes want opening."

"Teddy, be silent!" sharply commanded the missionary.

But the Indians, understanding the significance of the Irishman's
gestures, only smiled at them, and the chief who had taken his gun,
nodded his head, as much as to say he, too, would enjoy a fisticuff.

When the whites were defenseless, one of the savages vaulted lightly
into their canoe, and took possession of the paddle.

"I'm highly oblaiged to ye," grinned Teddy, "for me arms have been
waxin' tired ever sin' I l'arned the Injin way of driving a canoe
through the water. When ye gets out o' breath jist ax another
red-skin to try his hand, while I boss the job."

The canoes were pulled rapidly up-stream. This settled that the whites
were being carried to the village which was their original
destination. Both Harvey and his wife were rather pleased than
otherwise with this, although the missionary would have preferred an
interview or conversation in order to make himself and intentions
known. He was surprised at the knowledge they displayed of the English

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Online LibraryEdward S. EllisThe Lost Trail → online text (page 2 of 9)