University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The Gender and Women's Studies Collection

Page View

The ladies' home journal
Vol. XX, No. 7 (June, 1903)

Seton, Ernest Thompson
Two little savages,   pp. 11-12 PDF (1.9 MB)


Page 12

The Ladics' Home Joimral for Jiie I9o
Thie fathr turnsd with; a inquiring glainIc to Yan,
who replied : '' \Ve re mighty glad of your help. You
see, we don't know how yet. It seenis toi me that I
read once the best place in the teepee is not near the
door because of draughts, or opposite, but the middle
of one side. Let's make it here."
So Raften placed the four logs for the sides and ends
of the bed, and drove in the ground the eight stakes to
hold them in place. " Now," said he, " bring in the fir
branches."
Yan brought in several armfuls and Raften proceeded
ti, lay them like shingles, beginning at the head log of
the bed and lapping them very much. It took all the fir
boughs, but when it was done there was a solid mass of
soft gieen tips a foot thick, all the butts being at the
ground.
" Thayer," said Raften. " that's an Injun feather-bed
an' safe an' warrum ; sleepin' on the ground's terrible
dangerous, but that's all right. Now make your bed onl
that."
Sam and Yan did so and when it was finished Raften
said : " Now fetch that little canvas I tole ver Ma to put
in. This is to fasten to the poles an' make ain inner tent
over the bed."
Yan stood still and looked uncomfortable.
Sa'. Da," said Sam, looking at Yan, " lie's got that
tired look he wears when the rules is broke."
- WVhat's wrong ? " said Raften.
" Indians don't have 'em that I ever heard of," said
Little Beaver.
" Yahn, did ye ever hear of a teepee linin' or a dew-
cloth ? "
" Yes." was the answer in surprise at the unexpected
knowledge of the farmer.
Do ve know what thev're like?"
No-at least-no
"WHell, I do; that's what it's like. That's something
I do know fur I seen old Caleb use wan."
" Oh, I remember now reading about it," said Yan.
"They are like that, and it's on them that the Indians
paint their records. Isn't that buy ? " he added, as he
saw Raften add two long inner stakes which held the
dew-cloth like a canopy.
" Now." said the farmer, " guess the Paleface will go
back to the settlement  I promised Ma that I'd see that
yer bed wuz all right, an' if ye sleep warrum and dry an'
hex plenty to eat ye'll take no harrum."
So he went away; but as lie was quitting the clearing
he turned, and the curious boyish interest was gone from
his face, the geniality from his voice. Then in his usual
stern tones of command lie said: "Bhovs, no murtherin'
song-birds; an' if ye set the woods afire I'll skin the
pair o' ye."
CHAPTER XXVIII: THE FIRST TIGHT
IT WAS a new, strange feeling that took possession of the
boys as they saw Mr. Raften go, and when his step
actually died away on the blazed trail they felt that they
were really and truly alone in the woods and camping
out  To Yan it was the realization of many dreams, and
the weirdness of it was helped by the remembrance of
a tall. wild-eyed man he had seen watching them from
behind the trees. He made an excuse to wander out
there, but, of course, Caleb was gone.
" Fire up," said Sam presently.
Yan was the chief expert with the fire-sticks and
within a minute or two he had the fire going in the
middle of the teepee, and Sam set about preparing
the evening meal. The beef and potatoes were sup-
posed to be Buffalo meat and Prairie roots. The
meal was eaten rather quietly; then the boys sat down
on opposite sides of the fire. The conversation dragged,
then stopped altogether. Each was busy with his
thoughts, and there was, moreover, an impressive and
repressive something or other all around them. Not a
stillness, for there were many sounds, but back of
these a sort of voiceless background that showed up
the m'riad voices. Some of them were evidently birds,
some insects, and a few were recognized as tree-frog
notes. In the near creek were sounds of splashing or a
little plunge.
" Must be Muskrat," whispered Sam to the unspoken
query of his friend.
A loud, far "Oho-oho-oho" was familiar to both as
the cry of the Horned Owl. but a strange, long wail rang
out from time to time overhead.
" 'hat's that?'"
" Don't know," was all they whispered, and both
boys felt very uncomfortable without expressing it in ally
way. '[lhe solemnity and mystery of the night was oin
them and weighing more heavily with the wailing light.
The feeling was oppressive. Neither had courage enough
left to propose going to the house, or camping would
have ended. Sam rose and stirred the fire, looked
around for more wood, and seeing that there was none
in the teepee stepped outside in the darkness to find a
fresh supply. It was not till long afterward that he
admitted having had to dare himself to go out into the
darkness. He brought in some wood and fastened the
door as tightly as possible. The blazing fire in the
teepee was cheering again. The boys perhaps did not
realize that there was actually a tingeof homesickness in
their mood, yet both were thinking of the comfortable
circle at the house. The blazing fire smoked a little,
and Sam said: " Kin ye fix that fire to draw? Ye
know more about it 'an me."
Yan now forced himself to step outside. The wind
was rising and had changed. He swung the smoke
poles till the vent was quartering down, then hoarsely
whispered, "How's that?"
 That's better," was the reply in similar tones.
lie went inside with nervous haste and fastened up
tie entrance.
1 Let's make a good fire an' go to bed."
So they turned in after partly undressing, but not to
sleep for hours. Yan in particular was in a state of
nervous excitement. His heart had beaten violently
when he went out that time, and even now that mysten-
ous dread was on him. The fire was the one comfo;rtable
thing. lie dozed off and started up again at sonie slight
sound. Once it was a peuiar " Tidk. tirk. sc--- s-.
/, k- cr-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-p-. do'n the th'p  ,.,-r isi,
head. Al-ier %\as his first notion, but onl second
thought he ldecidc-d it was only a leaf sliding down the
canvas. Later he was startled by a scratch, scratch.
close to him. He listened silently for some time. This
was no leaf. It was an animal ! Yes, surely it was; it
was a Mouse. He slapped the canvas violently and
' hissed."  Then it went away, but as he listened he
heard the peculiar wail in the treetops. It almost made
his hair stand ip. He reached out and poked the fire
together into a blaze. All was still and in time lie dozed
off again. Once again lie was wide-awake in a flash and
saw Sam sitting up il)n bed listening.
What is it, Sam ? " he whispered.
I dunno," said Sam  " where's the axe ?
Right here."
Let me have it on my side. You kin have the
hatchet."
But they dropped off at length and slept soundly till
the sun was strong on the canvas and filling the teepee
with a blaze of transmitted light.
CALPTER XXLY: MORNLYG
"   OODPECKER! Woodpecker! get up-get up!
Hi-e-vo! hi-e-vo! Doible-u -douIble-o-
D-hang-fizz !Whackety-whack Y-R-chtick-brrrrrrrrrr-
Woodpecker! " shouted Yan to his sleepy chum, quoting
a phrase that Sam when a child had been taught as the
true spelling of his nickname.
Sam awoke slowly, but knew perfectly where he was,
and drawled: " Get up yourself. You're cook to-day,
an' I'll take my breakfist in bed."
" Oh, get up and let's have a swim before breakfast."
" No, thank ye, I'm too busy just now; 'sides, it's
both cold an' wet in that pond this time o' day."
The morning was fresh and bright; many birds were
singing, although it was July, and as Yan rose to get
the breakfast ie wondered why lie had been haunted
by such strange feelings the night before. It was
incompreliensible now. He wished that appalling wail
in the treetops would sound again so lie could trace it
home.
There were still some live coals in the ashes and in a
few iloments Yan had a blazing tire. The put was soon
boiling for coffee, and the bacon in the fryer was singing
the sweetest music for the hungry.
Sam lay on his back watching Yan and making critical
remarks.
" Ye may be an Ai cook, at least I hone ye are, but
ye don't know much about firewood," said ie; " now
luk at that," as one huge spark after another was
exploded from the fire and dropped on the bed or oil the
teepee cover.
" Well, how can I help it?''
I I'll bet Da's best cow against yer jackknife ye got
some ellum or hemlock in that fire."
" Well, I have," said Little Beaver with an air of sur-
render.
M y son," said the Great Chief Woodpecker, " no
sparking allowed in the teepee. Beech, maple, hickory
or ash never spark. Pine knots and roots don't, but they
make smoke. Hemlock, ellun, chestnut, spruce and
cedar is public sparkers an' not fur dacint teepee society.
Big Injun heap hate noisy crackling tire. Enemy hear
that an'-an'-it burns his bedclothes."
" All right, Grandpa," and the cook made a mental
note, then added in tones of deadly niace: "' You get
up now; do you understand ? "  And lie picked upl) a
bucket of water.
" That might scare the Great Chief Woodpecker if the
Great Chief Cook had a separate bed, tbut now lie smiles
kind o' scornful," was all the satisfaction lie got. Then
seeing that breakfast really was ready, Sam scraibled
out of bed a few minutes later.
The coffee acted like an elixir. The boys' spirits rose,
and before the meal ended it would have been hard to
find two more hilarious and enthusiastic campers. Even
the vague terrors of the night were now sources of
amuseient.
" Say, Sam, what about Guy-do we want him ?
" Well, it's just like this. If it was at school or any
other place I wouldn't le bothered with the little cuss,
but out in the woods like this one feels kiind o' friendly,
an' three's better'n two. Besides, lie has been admitted
to the tribe already."
" Yes, that's what I say. Let's give hii the yell."
So the boys wenit to the line fence and uttered a long
call produced by altering the voice between a high fal-
setto antd a natural tone. 'lhis was the '" yell," and had
never failed to call Guy forth to join them unless he had
some chore on hand aln(d his " Paw " was too near to
prevent his renegading to the Injunss. And soon ie
appeared as usual, waving a branch-the established
signal that lie came as a friend. le came very slowly,
however, and tthe boys saw that lie limped frightfully,
helping himself along with a stick. IHe was barefooted
as usual, but his left foot was swaddled in a bundle
of rags.
" hello, Sappy, what happened ? Out to Wounded-
Knee River?"
" Nope. Struck luck. Paw was bound I'd ride the
horse with the scuffler all day, but lie gee'd up too
short, and I arranged to tumble off'n hii, an' Paw
s'uffled me foot some. Law, how I (lid holler; you
should a-heard me."
" We did." said Sam. " When was it?''
" Last night, about four."
" Exactly. We heard an awful screech. Yan sez,
There's tile afternoon train at Kelly's Crossing, but
ain't she late? ' ' Train ! ' sez 1; ' pooh ! I'll bet that's
Guy Burns gitting a new licking.'"
" Guess I'll well-up now," said Wirchief Sapwood.
So he stripped his foot, revealing a scratch that would
not have cost a thought had lie got it playing ball. He
laid the rags away carefully and with them every trace of
the limp; then eriter(ed heartily into the camp-life.
The vast advantages of being astir early now were
seen. There were Squirrels oii every other tree; there
%%ere birds everywhere; and when they ran to the pond
a \W'ild Duck spluttered over the surface and whistled out
of sight.
" What you got ? ' called Sami as ie saw Van bendintg
'-rly orsromintliing down by the npond. Yan did
not answer, so Sais went over and saw him studying out
a iiark in the iud.   He was beginning to draw it in his
notebook.
" What is it?" repeated San.
" Don't know ; too stubby for a Muskrat, too nuch
claw  for a Cat, too small for a 'Coon, too many toes
for a Mink."
" I'll bet it's a whangerdoodle."
Yainierely chuckled.
I Don't you laugh," said the Woodpecker soleminly.
You'd be more apt to cry if you seen one walk into
the teepee blowinsg the xxhistle on the end    of his tail.
Then it'd be    ' Oh, Samn ! where's the axe? ' "
" Tell you what I do believe it is," said Yan, not
noticing this terrifying description; "- it's a Skunk."
" Little Beaver, my son, I thought I would tell you
then  I sez to   ieseelft, no--it's better fur him   to find
out by his lone.    Nothing like a struggle in early life
to develop the stuff in a man.        It don't do to help
him  too niuch, sex I, and     so  I didn't."    Here Sam
gravely patted the second Warchief on the head and nodded approv-
ingly. Of course he did not know as much about the track as Van
did, but he prattled on: " Little Beaver, yer a heap stuck on track.
Ugh! good! - you kin tell by them everything that passes in the
night.  Wagh! Bully. Yer likely to be the natralist to our trile
- but you haven't got gumption.  Now in this yer hunting-ground
of our tribe there's only one place where ye kin see a track, and
that is that same mud-bank.  All the rest is hard or grassy.  Now
what td do if I was a track-a-mist. I'd gin the critter lots o' chance
to leave tracks. I'd fix it all around with places so nothing could
come or go through without giving us his impressions of the trip.
Id have one on each end of the trail coming in. and one on each
side of the creek wvhar it comes in and goes out."
" Well, Sam, you have a pretty level head. WYonder I didn't
think of that myself."
" My son, the great Head Chief does the thinking; the rabble-
that's you and Sappy - dos the work."
lut lie led the way at once. Sappy following with a slight limp
now. They removed the sticks and rubbish for twenty feet of the
track at each end. sprinkled this with three or four inches of fine
black loam.  They cleared off the bank of the stream at four
places, one at each side where it entered the woods and one at each
side where it went into Burns's Bush.
Now," said Sam, " them's what I call visitors' albums. like
that 'n that Phil Riley's nine fatties started when they got their
brick house and their swelled heads, so every one that come in
could write their names an' something about ' this happy, happy.
ne'er-to-be-forgotten visit '- that is. them as could write. Reckon
that's whar our visitors gets the start, fur all o' them kin write
that lhez feet."
" Wonder why I didn't think o' that," said Yan again and
again. " But there's one thing you forgot," he added; "we want
one around the teepee."
This was easily made, as the ground was smooth and bare, and
Sappy forgot his limp and helped them to carry ashes and sand
from the fire-hole; then planting his broad feet down on the dust
ie left some most interesting tracks.
" I call that a bare track," said Sam.
" Go ahead and draw it," said Guy, giggling.
" Why not ? " and Yan got out his book.
" But you can't make it life-size," and Sam glanced fromi the
little notebook to the vast imprint.
After it was drawn Sam said: " GuessI'll peel off and show you
a human track.'
lie soon gave an impression of his foot for the artist, and later
Yan added his own: three wholly different tracks.
" Seems to me 'bout right if you had the way the toes pointed
and the distance apart to show how long the legs wuz," said Sam.
Again Sam   had given Yan a good idea.    From that time he
noted these two points and made his records that much better.
" Air you fellows roosting here now ? " asked Sappy in surprise,
as lie noted the bed as well as the put and 1ans.
Yep."
Well. I wanter, too.  If I kin git hole o' Maaw, 'tlout Paw,
it'll be 0. K."
" You let on we don't want ye, and Paw'll let ye come. Tell
him old man Raften orthered ye aff (f the place, and he'll fetch
ye here himself."
" I guess there's room enough u(n that Led for three," remarked
the third Warchief.
" Well, guess there ain't." said Woodpecker, ''not when the
third one won first prize for being the dirtiest boy in school. You
kin fetch stuff an' make yer own bed across there on the other
side o' the fire."
" Ion't know how."
" Oh. we'll larn you; only you'll have to go home for blankets
and grub."
The boys soon cut a fir-bough bed, but Guy put off going home
as long as possible for the blankets. lie knew,andthey suspected,
that there was no chance of his rejoining them again that night; so
after sundown lie left them, replaced his footrags and limped down
the trail honeward, saying, " I'll be back in a few minutes."
li,
The evening meal was over; they had sat around wondering if
night would repeat its terrors.  An Ow I  I"oo-hoo-ed."  There
was a pleasing romance in the sound. The boys kept the fire burn-
ing brightly till about ten: then lay down, determined that they
would nut lie scared this time.  They were barely off to sleep when
a most awfiu outcry arose in the near woods-like a Wolf wsith a
sore throat; then the yells of a human being in distress. Again the
boys sat up in fright. There was a scuffling outside- a loud and
terrified " Ili-hi-hi, Sam! " 'len camean attack o(n the door, which
was turn open. and in tumbled Guy. le was badly frightened, but
when the fire was brightened and lie calmsed a little lie confessed
that 'aw had sent him to bed, but swhen all was still lie had slipped
ont of the window carrying the bedclothes. Ie was nearly back to
the camp wlen lie decided to scare the boys by letting off a few
wollish howls. But he frightened himself very much in doing it,
and when a wild answer came from the treetops-a hideous blaring
screech-lie had lost all courage, dropped the bedding and run
toward the teepee yelling for help.
The boys took torches presently and went nervously after tile
bedding that Guy had dropped. His bed was made, and in an hour
they were once more asleep.
In the mrning Sam was up and cut first; fron ithe home trail he
suddenly called: " Van, come here."
I 1o ye mean me ?" said Little Ieaver with haughty dignity.
Yep. Great Chief; git a move (in ye, hustle out here - made
a find. Do ye see who was visiting us last night when we slept ? "
and he pointed to the " album ' on the inway. " I ain't shined
them shoes every week with soot off the bottom of the pot without
knowing one pair of 'em  was wore by Ila and one pair by Da.
Good one in us - but let's see how fur they come-we'd urter
look 'round the teepee before tramping around."
They went back, and though the trails were much hidden by
their own they found enough around the doorway to show that
during the night, or more likely early in the evening. before Sappy's
return. the father and mother had paid them a visit in secret-
had inspected the camp as they slept - but finding no one stirring,
and the boys breathing the deep breath of healthy sleep, had left
them undisturbed.
" Say, boys - I mean Warchiefs -what we want in camp is a
Dog. or some night some one'll steal the teeth out of our heads
and we won't know a thing till they come back for the gums.
All Injin camps hez Dogs, anyway."
X 1-i! FD Ii N c  y E  ; :-Y
Page 12
I
I
- I


Go up to Top of Page