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Snap : a legend of the lone mountain : with thirteen illustrations Phillipps-Wolley, Clive 1890

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All   rights   reserved.  TO   SMALL   GLIVE.
I suppose that you'll cost me the deuce of a lot,
I suppose I must pay and look pleasant,
Though you're only a small insignificant dot—
My three-year-old warrior—at present.
But if ever you need the paternal ' tip,'
If ever you sin and must suffer,
Be brave and go straight, or I'll ' give you gyp '-
If I don't you may call me ' a duffer.'  CONTENTS
II.   ' MOP  FAUCIBUS  H.ESIT '     .
m. snap's redemption     .
VI.   THE   BLOW FALLS       ....
Vfll.   THE  MANIAC	
IX.  ' THAT   BAKING  POWDER'        . . .
XVm.   THE   LOSS   OF  ' THE   CRADLE '     ,
.   ir
. 25
. 35
. 45
. 57
. 77
. 89
. 102
. 109
. 119
. 126
. 135
. 146
. 161
. 170
. 186
. 202 X SNAP
XIX.   THE   GAMBLERS   ' PUT   UP '    .
' GOOD-BYE '        . . .
'HANDS  UP'        .
•    To J
'                  ft
278 H
' What on earth shall we do, Winthrop ?' asked one
of the Fernhall Eleven of, a big fair-faced lad, who
seemed to be its captain.
I Do ! I'll be shot if I know, Wyndham,' he
replied, i It is bad enough to be a bat short, but
really I don't know that we can spare a bowler.'
' Ah, well,' suggested another of the group,' though
Hales did very well for the Twenty-two, it isn't quite
the same thing bowling against such a team as Loam-
shire brings down; he might not "come off" after
all, don't you know.'
A quiet grin spread over the captain's face. No
one knew better than he did the spirit which prompted
Poynter's last remark.
Good bowler though he was, Poynter had often
been a sad thorn in Winthrop's side. If you put him
on first with the wind in his favour, Poynter would be
beautifully good-tempered, and bowl sometimes like a
very Spofforth.    Only then sometimes he wouldn't! SNAP
Sometimes an irreverent batsman from Loamshire
who had never heard of Poynter's break from the leg
would hit him incontinently for six, and perhaps do it
twice in one over. Then Poynter got angry. His
arms began to work like a windmill. He tried to bowl
rather faster than Spofforth ever did; about three
times as fast as Nature ever meant John Poynter to.
The result of this was always the same. First he
pitched them short, and the delighted batsman cut
tbem for tbree; then he pitched them up, and that
malicious person felt a thrill of pleasure go through
his whole body as he either drove them or got them
away to square leg. Then Winthrop had to take
him off. This was when the trouble began. Sullenly Poynter would take his place in the field—and
it was not every place in the field which suited him.
If you put him in the deep field, he growled at the
folly which risked straining a bowler's arm by shying.
If you put him close in, he grumbled at the risk
he ran of having those dexterous fingers of his
damaged by a sharp cut or a ' sweet' drive. For of
course he always expected to be put on again, and
from the time tbat he reached his place until the
time that he was again put into possession of the
ball he did nothing but watch his rival with malicious envy, making a mental bowling analysis for
him, in which he took far more note of the hits (or
wides if there were any) than he did of the maiden
overs which were bowled.
But Frank Winthrop was a diplomatist, as a
cricket captain should be, so, though he grinned, he
only replied, ' That's true enough, Poynter, but I must FERNHALL V. LOAMSHIRE 3
have some ordinary straight stuff, such as Hales's, to
rest you and Eolles, and put these fellows off their
guard against your curly ones.'
' Yes, I suppose it is a mistake to bowl a fellow
good balls all the time. It makes him play too carefully,' replied the self-satisfied Poynter.
t Well, but, Winthrop,' insisted the first speaker,
' if you don't do without a change bowler, what will
you do ? That other fellow in the Twenty-two doesn't
bowl well enough, but there are lots of them useful
11 know all that, but I've made up my mind,'
replied the young autocrat. ' I shall play a man
short, if I can't persuade Trout' (an irreverent sobriquet for their head-master) ' to let Snap Hales off in
When a captain of a school eleven says that he
has made up his mind, the intervention of anyone'
less than a head-master is useless, so that no one
As the group broke up Wyndham put his arm
through Winthrop's, and together they strolled towards
the door of the school-house.
'Are you going up to see "the head," Major?'
he asked.
' Yes,' replied Winthrop.
'What! about, Snap Hales ?' demanded Wyndham.
| Yes,' again replied Winthrop, ' about that young
fool Snap.'
jj What has he been up to now ?' demanded his
'Oh, he has been cheeking Cube-root again.    It SNAP
seems old Cube-root couldn't knock mathematics into
him anyhow, so he piled on the impositions. Snap
did as many lines as he could, but even with three
nibs in your pen at once there is a limit to the number which a fellow can do in a day, and Master Snap
has so many of these little literary engagements for
other masters as well as old Cube that at last he
reached a point beyond which no possible diligence
would carry him.'
' Poor old Snap !' laughed Wyndham.
' Then, as he had just got into the eleven,' continued Winthrop, ' he didn't like to give up his half-
hour with the professional; the result of all which
was that yesterday old Cube asked him for his lines
and was told—
' " I haven't done them, sir."
'" Haven't done them, sir: what do you mean ? "
thundered Cube.
' 11 hadn't time, sir," pleaded Snap.
' " Not time ! Why, I myself saw you playing
cricket to-day for a good half-hour. What do you
mean by telling me you had not time ? " asked Cube.
' " I had not time, sir, because " Snap tried to
say, but Cube stopped him with that abominable
trick of his, you know it.
11 Yees, Hales, yees ! Yees, Hales, yees! So you
had no time, Hales !   Yees, Hales, yees ! "
' | No, sir, I was obliged to "
' I To tell me a lie, sir !    Yees, Hales, yees."
' Here Snap's beastly temper gave out, and instead
of waiting till he got a chance of telling his story
properly to old Cube, who, although he loves mathe- FERNHALL V. LOAMSHIRE 5
matics and hates a lie, is a good chap after all, he
deliberately mimicked the old chap with—
I " Noo, sir; noo !    Noo, sir, noo ! "
' Of course the other fellows went into fits of
laughter, and old Cube had fits too, only of another
kind, and I expect I shall get " fits " from the Head
for trying to get the young idiot off for this match.
But I really don't see how we can get on without him,'
Winthrop added, as he left his friend at the door, and
plodded with a heavy heart up to the head-master's
What happened there the narrator of this truthful
story does not pretend to know. The inside of a headmaster's library was to him a place too sacred for
intrusion, and it was only through the foolish persistence of certain unwise under-masters that he was ever
induced to enter it. Whenever he did, he left it with
a note of recommendation from that excellent man to
the school-sergeant. It was not quite a testimonial
to character, but still something like it, and always
contained an allusion to one of the most graceful of
forest trees, the mournful, beautiful birch. I am told
that this is the favourite tree of the Eussian peasant.
I dare say. I am told he is still uneducated. It was
education which, I think, taught me to dislike the
But I am wandering. The only words which
reached me as I stood below, wondering if my leave
out of bounds would be granted or not—and I had
very good reasons for betting on the ' not'—were
these :
\ Very well, if he is no good as a bat it won't 

much matter.    I'll do what I can for you,
the toss and go in first.'
He was a good fellow, our Head, and from Win-
throp's face as he came downstairs I expect that he
thought so.
I was quite right about that leave out of bounds.
The head-master felt, no doubt quite properly, that
on such a day as the day of the Loamshire match,
when there were sure to be lots of visitors about, it
would not do for one of the school's chief ornaments
to be absent. It was very hard upon me because,
you see, I could only buy twelve tarts for my shilhng
at the tuckshop, whereas if I had got leave out of
bounds I could have got thirteen for the same money,
only four miles from school! That sense of duty to
the public which no doubt will lead me some day to
take a seat in the House of Commons enabled me to
bear up under my trouble, and about two o'clock I
was watching the match with my fellows on the
Fernhall playing fields.
Ah, me! those Fernhall playing fields! with
their long level stretches of green velvet, their June
sunshine and wonderful blue skies! What has life
like .them nowadays ? On this day they were looking
their very best, and, though I have wandered many a
thousand miles since then, I have never seen a fairer
sight. Forty acres there were, all in a ring fence, of
level greensward, every yard of it good enough for a
match wicket, and the ring-fence itself nothing but
a tall, rampart of green turf, twelve or fourteen feet
high, and broad enough at the top for two boys to
walk upon it abreast. ^
Out in the middle of this great meadow the wickets
were pitched, and I really believe that I have since
played billiards on a surface less level than the two-
and-twenty yards which they enclosed. The lines of
the crease gleamed brightly against the surrounding
green, and the strong sun blazed down upon the long
white coats of the umpires, .the Fernhall eleven (or
rather ten, for Snap was still absent), and two of the
strongest bats in Loamshire.
But, though fourteen figures had the centre of the
ground to themselves, there was plenty of vigorous
young life round its edges. There, where the sun
was the warmest, with their backs up against the
bank which enclosed the master's garden, sat or lay-
some four hundred happy youngsters, anxiously
watching every turn of the match, keen critics,
although thoroughgoing partisans. Like young lizards,
warmed through with the sun, lying soft against
the mossy bank, the scent of the flowers came
to them over the garden hedge, and the soft salt
breeze came up from the neighbouring sea; You
could hear the lip and roll of its waves quite plainly
where you lay, if you listened for it, for after all it
was only just beyond that green bulwark of turf
behind the pavilion. Many and many a time have
we boys seen the white foam flying in winter across
those very playing-fields, and gathered sea-wrack from
the hedges three miles inland. By-and-by, when
the match was over, most of the two-and-twenty
players in it would race down to the golden sands
and roll like young dolphins in the blue waves, for
Fernhall boys swam like fishes in those good old days,
1 8
and such a sea in such sunshine would have tempted
the veriest coward to a plunge.
But the match was not over yet, although yellow-
headed Frank Winthrop began to think that it might
almost as well be. He was beginning to despair. It
was a one-day match : the school had only made 156,
while the county had only two wickets down for 93 ;
of course there was no chance of a second innings ;
the two best bats in Loamshire seemed set for a
century apiece; Poynter had lost his temper and
seemed trying rather to hurt his men than to bowl
them, and everyone else had- been tried and had
failed. What on earth was an unfortunate captain
to do? Just then a figure in a long cassock and
college cap, a fine portly figure with a kindly face,
turned round, and, using the back of a trembling
small boy for a-desk, wrote a note and despatched
the aforesaid small boy with it to the rooms of the
Eev. Erasmus Cube-Boot. A minute or two before,
Winthrop had found time to exchange half-a-dozen
words with [ the Head' whilst in the long field, and
now he turned and raised his cap to him, while an
expression of thankfulness overspread his features.
The two Loamshire men at the wickets were Grey
and Hawker, both names well known on all the
cricket-fields of England, and one of them known and'
a little feared by our cousins at the Antipodes. This
man, Hawker, had been heard to say that he was
coming to Fernhall to get up his average and. have
an afternoon's exercise. It looked very much as if
he would justify his boast. He was an aggravating
bat to bowl to, for more reasons than one.    One of FERNHALL V. LOAMSHIRE 9
his tricks, indeed, seemed to have been invented for
the express purpose of chaffing the bowler.
As he stood at the wicket his bat was almost concealed from sight behind his pads, his wicket appeared
to be undefended, and all three stumps plainly visible
to his opponent. Alas! as the ball came skimming
down the pitch the square-built little athlete straightened himself, the bat came out from its ambush, and
you had the pleasure of knowing that another six
spoiled the look of your analysis. If he was in very
high spirits, and you in very poor form, he would
indulge in the most bewildering liberties, spinning
round on his heels -in a way known to few but himself,
so as to hit a leg ball into the ' drives.' Altogether
he was, as the boys knew, a perfect Tartar to deal with
if he once got ' set.'
Grey, the other bat, was quite as exasperating in
his way as Hawker, only it was quite another way.
He it was who had broken poor Poynter's heart.
You did not catch him playing tricks. You did not
catch him hitting sixes, or even threes; but neither did
you catch him giving the field a chance, launching out
at a yorker, or interfering with a ' bumpy' one. Oh,
no! It didn't matter what you bowled him, it was
always the same story. 'Up went his shutter,' as
Poynter feelingly remarked, ' and you had to pick up
that blessed leather and begin again.' Sometimes he
placed a ball so as to get one run for it, sometimes he
turned round and sped a parting ball to leg, and sometimes he snicked one for two. He was a slow scorer,
but he seemed to possess the freehold of the ground
he stood upon.    No one could give him notice to quit.
— 10
M :
Such were the men at the wicket, and such the
state of the game, when a tall, slight figure came
racing on to the ground in very new colours, and with
.fingers which, on close inspection, would have betrayed
a more intimate acquaintance with the ink-pot than
with the cricket-ball. Although it would have been
nearer to have passed right under the head-master's
nose, the new-comer went a long way round, eyeing
that dignitary with nervous suspicion, and raising
his cap with great deference when the eye of authority
rested upon him. As soon as he came on to the
ground he dropped naturally into his place, and
anyone could have seen at a glance that, whatever his
other merits might or might not be, Snap Hales was
a real keen cricketer. When a ball came his way
there was no waiting for it to reach him on his part.
He had watched it, as a hawk does a young partridge,
from the moment it left the bowler's hands, and was
halfway to meet it already. Like a flash he had it
with either hand—both were alike to him—and in the
same second it was sent back straight and true, a nice
long hop, arriving in the wicket-keeper's hands at
just about the level of the bails.
But Winthrop had other work for Snap to do, and
at the end of the over sent him to replace Rolles at
'By George, Towzer, they are going to put on
Snap Hales,' said one youngster to another on the
rugs under the garden hedge.
' About time, too,' replied his companion ; ' if he
can't bowl better than those two fellows' he ought to
be kicked.' FERNHALL V.  LOAMSHIRE 11
'Well, I dare say both you and he will be, if he
doesn't come off to-day. I expect it was your brother
who got him off his lines to-day, and he won't be a
pleasant companion for either of you if the school
gets beaten with half-a-dozen wickets to spare.'
Towzer, the boy addressed, was brother to the
captain of the eleven, and his fag. Snap Hales, when
at home, lived near the Winthrops, so that in the
school, generally, they were looked upon as being of
one clan, of which, of course, Frank Winthrop was
the chief. Willy Winthrop was Towzer's proper name,
or at least the name he was christened by; but anyone looking at the.fair-haired jolly-looking little fellow
would have doubted whether his godfathers were wiser
than his schoolfellows. No one would ever have
dreamed of him as a future scholar of Balliol, nor, on
the other hand, as a sour-visaged failure. He was a
bright, impertinent Scotch terrier of a boy, and his
discerning contemporaries called him Towzer.
But we must leave Towzer for the present and
stick to Snap. Everyone was watching him now,
and none more closely or more kindly than the man
whom Snap considered chief of his born enemies, ' the
Head.' 'Yes, he is a fine lad,' muttered that great
man, ' I wish I knew how to manage him. He has
stuff in him for anything.' And indeed he might
have, though he was hardly good-looking. Tall and
spare, with a lean, game look about the head, the
first impression he made upon you was that he was
a perfect athlete, one of Nature's chosen children.
Every movement was so easy and so quick that you
knew instinctively that  he  was  strong,  though  he 12
hardly looked it; but his face puzzled you. It was a
dark, sad-looking face, certainly not handsome, with
firm jaw and somewhat rugged outlines, and yet there
was a light sometimes in the big dark eyes which
gave all the rest the lie, and made you feel that his
masters might be right, after all, when they said,
'There is no misdoing at Fernhall of which "that
Hales " is not the leader.'
At any rate he appeared to be out of mischief just
' Bound the wicket, sir ?' asked the umpire as
Snap took the ball in hand.
' No, Charteris, over,' was the short reply, as
Hales turned to measure his run behind the sticks.
' What! a new bowler ? ' asked Hawker of the
wicket-keeper as he took a fresh guard; ' who is
' An importation from the Twenty-two; got his
colours last week,' answered Wyndham, and a smile
spread over Hawker's face, as he saw in fancy a timid
beginner pitching him half-volleys to be lifted over
the garden hedge, or leg-baUs with which to break the
slates on the pavilion.
But Hawker had to reserve his energy for a while,
being much too good a cricketer to hit wildly' at anything. With a quiet, easy action the new bowler sent
down an ordinary good-length ball, too straight to
take liberties with, and that was all. Hawker played
it back to him confidently, but still carefully, and
another, and another, of almost identical pitch and
pace, followed the first. ' Not so much to be made off
this fellow after all,' thought Hawker, 'but he will FERNHALL V. LOAMSHIRE 13
get loose like the rest by-and-by, no doubt.' Still it
was not as good fun as he had expected. The fourth
ball of Snap's first over was delivered with exactly the
same action as its predecessors, but the pace was about
double that of the others and Hawker was only just
in time to stop it. It was so very nearly too much
for the great man that for a moment it shook his
confidence in his own infallibility. That momentary
want of confidence ruined him. The last ball of the
over was not nearly up to the standard of the other
four; it was short-pitched and off the wicket, but it
had a lot of ' kick' in it, and Hawker had not come far
enough out for it. There was an ominous click as the
ball just touched the shoulder of his bat, and next
moment, as long-slip remarked, he found it revolving
in his hands ' like a stray planet.'
Don't talk to me of the lungs of the British tar, of
the Irish stump orator, or even of the ' Grand Old
Man ' himself! They are nothing, nothing at aU, to
the lungs we had in those days. It was Snap's first
wicket for the school, and Snap was the school's
favourite, as the scapegrace of a family usually is,
and caps flew up and fellows shouted until even
Hawker didn't much regret his discomfiture if it gave
the boys such pleasure. He was very fond of Fernhall boys, that sinewy man from the North, and, next
to their own heroes, Fernhall liked him better than
most men. Even now they show the window through
which he jumped on all fours, and many a neck is
nearly dislocated in trying to follow his example.
In the next over from his end Hales had to deal
with Grey, and he found his match.   He' tried him 14
with slow ones, he tried him with fast ones, he tried
to seduce him from the paths of virtue with the
luscious lob, to storm him with the Eboracian pilule
or ball from York. It was not a bit of good, up went
the shutter, and a maiden over left Snap convinced
that the less he had to do with Grey the better for
him, and left Grey convinced that Fernhall had got a
bowler at last who. bowled with his head. Was it
wilfully, I wonder, that Snap gave Grey on their next
meeting a ball which that steady player hit for one?
It may not have been, and yet there was a grin all
over the boy's dark face as he saw Grey trot up to
his end. That run cost Loamshire two batsmen in
four balls—one bowled leg before wicket, and the other
clean-bowled with an ordinary good-length baU rather
faster than its fellows.
Those old fields rang with Hales's name that
afternoon, and at 6.30, thanks chiefly to his superb ■
bowling, the county had still two to score to win, and
two wickets to fall. One of the men still in was Grey.
At the end of the over the stumps would be drawn, and
the game drawn against the school, even if (as he
might do) Snap should bowl a maiden. That, however, could hardly be; even Grey would hit out at
such a crisis. At the very first ball the whole school
trembled with excitement. The Loamshire man played
well back and stopped a very ugly one, fast and well
pitched, but it would not be altogether denied, and
curled in until it lay quiet and inoffensive, absolutely
touching the stumps.
Ah, gentlemen of Loamshire ! if you want to win
this match why can't you keep quiet?    Don't you FERNHALL V.  LOAMSHIRE 15
think the sight of that fatal little ball, nestling close
up to his wicket, is enough to disconcert any batsman
in the last over of a good match ? And yet you cry,
' Steady, Thompson, steady !' Poor chap, you can
see that he is all abroad, and the boy's eyes at the
other end are glittering with repressed excitement.
He is fighting his first great battle in public, and
knows it is a winning one. There is a sting and
' devil' in the fourth ball which would have made
even Grace pull himself together. It sent Thompson's
bails over the long-stop's head, and mowed down his
wicket, like ripe corn before a thunder-shower.
And now the chivalry of good cricket was apparent;
Loamshire had no desire to ' play out the time.'
Even as Thompson was bowled, another Loamshire
man left the pavilion, ready for the fray. If it had
been ' cricket,' Hawker, the Loamshire captain, would
have gladly played out the match. As it was, his man
was ready to finish the over. As the two men passed
each other the new-comer gave his defeated friend a
playful dig in the ribs, and remarked, ' Here goes for
the score of the match, Edward Anson, duck, not
As there was only one more bah to be bowled, and
only two runs to be made to secure a win for Loamshire, I'm afraid Anson hardly meant what he said.
Unless it shot underground or was absolutely out of
reach, that young giant, who ' could hit like anything,
though not much of a bat,' meant at any rate to hit
that one ball for four. By George, how he opened
his shoulders! how splendidly he lunged out! you
could see the great muscles swell as he made the 16
bat sing through the air, you could almost see the
ball going seaward; and yet—and yet	
The school had risen like one man; they had
heard that rattle among the timber ; they knew that
Snap's last ' yorker ' had done the trick ; cool head
and quick hand had pulled the match out of the fire,
and even his rival Poynter was one of the crowd who
caught young Hales, tossed him on to their shoulders,
and bore him in triumph to the pavilion, whilst the
chapel clock struck the half-hour. CHAPTER II
Boys in the fifth form at Fernhall shared a study
with one companion. Monitors of course lived in
solitary splendour, with a bed which would stand on
its head, and allowed itself to be shut up in a cupboard in the corner. Small boys who had not
attained even to the fringe of the school aristocracy
lived in herds in bare and exceedingly untidy rooms
round the inner quads. Even in those days there
were monitors who were worshippers of art. Some
of them had curtains in their rooms of rich and varied
colouring; one of them had a plate hung up which
he declared was a piece of undoubted old Worcester.
Tomlinson was a great authority on objects of virtu,
and a rare connoisseur, but we changed his plate for
one which we bought for sixpence at Newby's, and he
never knew the difference. Then there was one fellow
who had several original oil paintings. These represented farmyard scenes and were attributed indifferently to Landseer, Herring, and a number of other
celebrated artists. Whoever painted them, these
pictures were the objects of more desperate forays
than any other property within the school limits. I
remember them well as adorning the room of a certain
c r
man of muscle, to whom, of course, they belonged
merely as the spoils of war. The rightful owner lived
three doors off, but I don't think that he ever had the
pluck to attempt to regain his own.
However, in the small boys' rooms there were none
of these luxuries of an effete civilisation. There was
a book-shelf full of ragged books, none of which by any
chance ever bore the name of anyone in that study;
there was a table, a gas-burner, a frying-pan, and a
kettle. These last-named articles might have been
seen in every study at Fernhall, from the study of
the monitor to that of the pauper, as we called that
unfortunate being who had not yet emerged from the
lower school. In the long nights of winter, when the
wild sea roared just beyond the limits of their quad,
and the spray came flying over the sea-wall to be
dashed against their study windows, all Fernhall boys
had a common consolation. They called it brewing :
not the brewing of beer or of any intoxicating liquor,
but of that cheering cup of tea which consoles so many
thousands, from the London charwoman to the pig-
tailed Chinaman, from the enervated Indian to the
half-frozen Russian exile in Siberia. At first the headmasters of Fernhall tried hard to put down this practice. Sergeants lurked about our passages, confiscated
our kettles, carried away the frying-pans full of curlv
rashers from under our longing eyes, and ' lines' and
flagellations were all we got in exchange. At last a
new era began. A great reformer arrived, a ' Head '
of liberal leanings and wide sympathy. This man
frowned on coercion, and, instead of taking away our
kettles, gave us a huge range of stoves on which to
vn ■UUWJUM     -*--     -
boil them. From a cook's point of view, no doubt, the
range of stoves was a great improvement on the old
gas-burner, but, in spite of the liberality of the 'Head,'
small clusters of boys still stood night after night on
those old study tables and patiently fried their bacon
over the gas.
Unfortunately this was not the worst of their
misdoings. Besides the appetising smell of the bacon
and the delicious aroma of chicory or tea, there was
too often a strong flavour of ' bird's-eye' or ' latakia'
about the passages. Almost to a man, the school
smoked. How it had crept in I don't pretend to know,
but the habit had been growing in the school for
years until it was almost universal. This was the one
thing which our new head-master would not tolerate
at any price, and it was pretty well understood
throughout the school.that his dealings with the first
offender detected in the act would be short and
severe. About the time of the Loamshire match he
had taken to beating up our quarters in person, not,
I think, from any desire to detect the smokers in the
act, but from a hope that the fear of his coming might
act as a deterrent. About a week after Snap Hales'a
great bowling feat, Fernhall was brewing as usual.
The dusk had fairly set in; a crowd of boys were
jostling one another with the cans and frying-pans at
the great public stoves, and Snap and many others
were breaking school-rules as usual in their own
studies. Mind, I am pledged to serve up my boys
au naturel and not smothered in white sauce, so
.that if you donlt like my menu- you had better take
warning in time.    The bacon had been finished, the
c 2 20
hot rolls from the tuckshop had been submitted to
digestions which were capable of dealing even with
hot rolls and butter, and now Snap Hales, Billy
Winthrop, and one Simpson were desperately endeavouring to enjoy, or appear to enjoy, the forbidden
pleasures of tobacco. Billy had an elaborately carved
meerschaum between his teeth, while Snap lay full
length on an extemporised divan, making strange
noises and strange faces in his endeavours to get on
terms with a 'hubble-bubble.' Billy's jaws ached
with the weight of the meerschaum, and Snap was
as blown with trying to make his instrument of torture
draw as if he had been running the school mile.
Simpson was in a corner cutting up some ' sun-dried
honeydew,' which he had procured in a cake—' such,'
he said, ' as the trappers of the North-West always
use.' To tell the truth, he liked ' whittling' at that
cake of tobacco with his knife a great deal better than
smoking it, for the first two or three whiffs invariably
sent a cold chill through his frame and a conviction
that, like Mark Twain, he had inadvertently swallowed
an earthquake.
Suddenly the boys stopped talking; there was a
heavy rap at the door, preceded by a vain attempt to
open it, and followed by the command, in deep tones,
to ' open this door.'
' Nix! by Jove!' whispered Simpson, whiter now
than ever with fright.
' Rot!' replied Snap unceremoniously. ' It's only
that fool Lane, up to some of his jokes. Go to Bath,
Legs,' he added at the top of his voice.
' Open this door at once,' thundered someone on ■^
the other side, while lock and hinge rattled beneath
the besieger's hands.
' Don't you wish you may get it, old chap,' ' Shove
away, and be hanged to you,' ' Try your skull against
the panel, blockhead,' and several similar remarks,
were now hurled at the enemy by those in the study.
Meanwhile, preparations for repelling an assault were
rapidly being made.
'Boys, open this door, don't you know who is
speaking to you ?' said the voice once more.
'Oh yes, we know,' laughed Snap, 'and we are
getting ready to receive you, sir.'
' Deuced well old Legs imitates the Head, doesn't
he ?' whispered Billy Winthrop.
I Not badly,' answered Snap in the same tone.
' Have you got everything ready ? ' he added.
' Yes,' said Billy; ' but let me try my fire-arm
first,' and, dipping the nose of a large squirt into the
inkpot, he filled it, and then discharged it at a venture
through the key-hole. The result was satisfactory.
From the sounds of anger and hasty retreat in the
passages the boys guessed that the shot had told, and
indulged in a burst of triumphant laughter in consequence. But the enemy was back again in a minute
wrenching furiously at the door, which now began to
' Let us die in the breach,' cried Snap, catching up
a large mop, which he had used earlier in the day to
clean his study floor, and emptying over it the
remains of the cold coffee. 'Billy, stand by with
your blunderbuss. Simpson, at the next shove let the
door go!' he whispered, and the boys took up their 22
places—Snap with his mop in rest opposite the entrance, Simpson with his hand on -the key, and Billy's
deadly weapon peeping over his leader's shoulder. At
the next assault Simpson let the door go, and Hales
rushed headlong out to meet the foe, getting the
whole of Billy's charge down the back of his neck as
he went. Someone knocked up the mop, so that it
cannoned from him to another of the attacking party,
whom it took fairly in the face, plastering him up
against the opposite wall, a full-length portrait of
' the Head ! '
For once Snap's spirits deserted him. The mop
fell from his nerveless hand. He even forgot to say
that he did not do it. It was too gross a sin even for
a schoolboy to find excuses for. Nor had ' the Head'
much to say—partly, perhaps, because ' mops and
coffee' was not a favourite dish with him, and he had
had rather more of it at his first essay than he cared
to swallow, and partly, no doubt, because (diplomat
though he was) for the life of him he could not remember what was the dignified thing to do under
such unusual circumstances. The Sergeant recovered
himself first.
' They've all been smoking, Sir !' he asserted
maliciously.    ' I suppose I'd better take their pipes.'
' Yes, Sergeant, and their names,' replied the Head.
'No need of that,' muttered our implacable foe.
' I know this here study better nor ever a one in
' Hales, and you, Winthrop minor, report yourselves to me in my library after morning school tomorrow,' said the Head, and, slowly turning, the great 'mop faucibus Haasn' 23
man went, his mortar-board somewhat on one side,
while down the long cassock which he wore the
streams of coffee ran.
Two minutes after his" departure, No. 19, the scene
of the fray, was full of friends and of sympathisers.
'You'll get sacked, of course,' remarked one of
these, ' but,' he added, ' I don't see that there is anything worse than that which Old Petticoats can do.'
' You don't think he could hang us, for instance,
eh, Legs ?' asked Snap sarcastically. ' Well, you
are a nice, cheerful chap, you are !' he added.
' Never mind, old fellow,' urged another,' they will
give you a good enough character for Sandhurst, and
what do you want more ?'
' You want a good deal for Sandhurst now, Viper !'
replied Snap; ' they'd rather have a blind mathematician than a giant who didn't know what nine times
nine is.'
In spite of their comforters our friends felt for at
least five minutes that there was something in their
world amiss. Then suddenly Snap began to laugh,
quite softly and to himself at first, but the laugh was
infectious, so that in half a minute every boy in the
passage was holding his sides, and laughing until the
tears ran down his cheeks. By-and-by inquiries
were made for Simpson, who had not been seen since
the opening of the door. In answer to the shouts
addressed to him, a sepulchral voice replied, and after
some search the unfortunate wretch was produced
from behind the door, white with fear and tobacco-
smoke, flat as a cake of his own beloved honeydew,
his knees trembling, and his hah' on end with terror. 24
Luckily for him, he had drawn the door back upon
himself, and had remained unnoticed behind it ever
In spite of the tragedy with which it had begun,
the remainder of the evening was spent in adding one
more to the works of art which adorn Boot Hall Row,
to wit, one life-size portrait of the Very Reverend the
Head-master of Fernhall, drawn upon the wall against
which he had so recently been flattened, in charcoal,
by one Snap Hales; while underneath was written, to
instruct future generations:
IN MEMOEIAM,  JUNE  22, 1874.
It was all very well to keep a stiff upper lip when the
other boys were looking on, but when Snap and
Towzer got up to their dormitories they began to
give way to very gloomy thoughts indeed. Snap
Hales especially had a bad time of it with his own
thoughts. It did not matter so much for young
Winthrop. His mother was a rich woman and an
indulgent one. His expulsion would grieve her, but
he would coax.her to forgive him in less than no time,
he knew. It was very different for Snap. He had
no mother, nor any relative but a guardian, who
was as strict as a Pharisee, and too poor himself to
help Snap, even if he had had the will to, which he
had not. Over and over again Snap had been told
that his whole future depended on his school career,
and it appeared to him that that career was about
to come to a speedy and by no means honourable
But that was not all. Snap's greatest friend on
earth was his school-chum's mother. Mrs. Winthrop
had always been almost a mother to Snap, and had
won the boy's heart by the confidence she showed in
him.    Snap didn't like being expeUed; he didn't like J
Towzer being expelled; but still less did he like the
prospect of being told that he, Snap Hales, had led
the young one into mischief. And yet that was what
was before him. Snap was sitting on the edge of his
bed, half undressed, and meditating somewhat in this
miserable fashion, when a bolster caught him full in
the face. Looking up quickly, he caught sight of a
face he knew grinning at him over his partition. It
was one of B. dormitory. B. had had the impertinence
to attack F. That bolster was the gage of battle.
Silently Snap slipped out, bolster in hand. Someone
had relit the gas and turned it up as high as he dared.
Round and under it were ten or a dozen white-robed
figures, armed with what had once been pillows, but
now resembled nothing so much as thick ropes with a
huge knot at the end.
A week ago Snap had crept into B. dormitory and
driven a block of yellow soap well home into the open
mouth of the captain of B. That hero's snores had
ceased, but he had sworn vengeance as soon as he
was able to swear anything. This then was B.'s vengeance, and the blows of the contending parties fell
like hail. At first, respect for their master's beauty-
sleep kept them quiet, and they fought grimly and
quietly like rats in a corner. Gradually, though, their
spirits rose, and the noise of battle increased. ' Go
it, Snap, bash his head in,' cried one. ' Let him have
it in the wind,' retorted another, and all the while even
the speakers were fighting for dear life.
Suddenly a diversion occurred which B. to this
day declares saved F. from annihilation. Unobserved
by any of the  combatants,  a  short man with  an SNAP'S REDEMPTION 27
enormous ' corporation' had stealthily approached
them, the first intimation which they had of his
presence being the stinging cuts from his cane on
their almost naked bodies. No one stopped for a
second dose, so that the little man was pouring out
the vials of his wrathful eloquence over a quiet and
orderly room, when his gaze suddenly lit upon an
ungainly figure trying to sneak unobserved into B.
room. It was the miserable Postlethwaite, butt and
laughing-stock of both rooms, who, having no taste
for hard knocks, had been quietly learning his repetition for the next day by the light of a half-extinguished gas-jet in the corridor. Like a hawk upon
its prey, the man with the figure pounced upon poor
' What brings you out here, sir ? ' he cried.
' What do you mean by it, sir ? Why aren't you in
bed, sir ?'
' Please, sir,' began Postlethwaite.
'Don't answer me, sir,' thundered the master.
' You don't please me, sir ! you're the most impertinent boy in the school, sir ! Do me a thousand lines
to-morrow, sir!'
' Please, sir' '
'Please, sir, please, sir, didn't I tell you not to
say, please, sir ? ' cried the now furious pedagogue,
fairly dancing with rage, butting at the trembling
lout with his portly stomach, and driving his flaming
little nose and bright eyes almost into his victim's
Poor ' Postle' was now a trembling white shadow
nearly six feet high, penned in a corner, with the 28
continued  the   master
sir.     I'll   thrash   you
I'll cane you on  the
miserable Postle, and
' Please, sir, I haven't
solid round figure of his foe dancing angrily in front
of him.
'Please, sir, please, sir,'
savagely. ' I'll please you,
within an inch of your life,
spot, sir!'
' Please, sir,' whined the
this time he would be heard,
got a spot, sir !'
An uncontrollable titter burst from all those
hitherto silent beds, and the fiercest-mannered and
kindest-hearted little man in Fernhall retired to his
room, to indulge in an Homeric laugh, having set a
score of impositions, not one of which he would remember next day. As for Postle, he crept away,
quite ignorant that he- had made a joke, but terribly
nervous lest his enemy should again find him out.
Next morning, after lecture, Snap Hales was preparing with Billy Winthrop to meet his doom. They
had hardly had time to exchange a dozen words with
Frank Winthrop since the event of the night before,
and now as they approached the Head's house they
saw him coming towards them. His honest brown
face wore a graver look than usual, and even Snap
felt his friend's unspoken rebuke.
' You fellows need not go up to the Head,' he said
quietly, ' the monitors have leave to deal with your
That was all, and our school-hero passed on; but
his words raised a world of speculation in our minds,
for the whole school, of course, knew at once of this
message to Snap and Towzer.    Of course we under- SNAP'S REDEMPTION
stood that the monitors could, in exceptional cases,
interfere, and from time to time used their privilege,
but this was mostly in such disgraceful cases as were
best punished privately. A thief might be tried and
punished by the upper twelve, but not a mere breaker
of school-rules. Even expulsion need not carry more
than school disgrace with it, but the sentence of the
monitors' court meant the cut direct from Fernhall
boys, now and always, at Fernhall, and afterwards in
the world. And what had even Hales or Towzer
done to merit this ?
The half-hour before dinner was passed in speculation. Then someone put up' a notice on the notice-
board, and we were told by one who was near enough
to read it that it was to the effect that the monitors
would hold a roll-call directly after dinner in place of
the usual first hour of school, and at this every Fernhall boy was specially warned to be present. There
was no need to enforce this. Every name was
answered to at that roll-call, and, for once, in every
case by the boy who bore it.
The roll-call was held in the big schoolroom, a
huge and somewhat bare building, full of rough ink-
stained desks and benches, with a raised platform at
the further end. On this, when the roll-call was over,
stood the whole Sixth, with their prisoners, Snap and
Towzer. Frank was there (the captain of the Eleven),
and beside him even a greater than he, the School
captain, Wyndham—first in the schools, first in
the football-field, and first in everything, except perhaps cricket, at which his old chum Frank Winthrop
was possibly a little better than he.    I think that, 30
much as we admired Winthrop, Wyndham was first
of our school heroes.    He could do so many things
and did them all well.
After everyone had answered his name a great
hush of expectation fell upon us all. Then Wyndham
came to the front and spoke. We had none of us
heard many speeches-in those days ; would that- at
least in that respect life in the world were more like old
school times ! Perhaps it was because it was the first
speech that we had ever heard that it roused us so.
Perhaps it was a very poor affair really. But I know
that we thought none of those old Athenians would
have ' been in it' with Wyndham, and I personally
can remember all he said even now. There were no
masters present, of course, so that he spoke sometimes
even in school slang, a boy talking to boys, and
plunged right into the middle of what he had to say
at once.
' You know,' he said, ' the scrape into which Hales,
and Winthrop minor have got themselves, and you
probably know what the punishment is for an offence
like theirs. What the punishment ought to be, I
mean. Your Head-master is going to leave it to you
to say what their punishment shall be; it is for you
to say whether they shall go or stay.
' Oh yes, I know,' Wyndham continued as he was
half of us with our hands raised, or our mouths open,'
' you are ready to pronounce sentence now. But it
won't do. You must hear me out first. I am here
by Mr. Foulkes's permission to plead for Hales and
Winthrop, and I had to beg hard for that permission,
for the breach of school rules was as bad as it could ^p^»
be. Not, mind you, that our Head cared twopence
about the mop ; he laughed, when he told me of that,
as much as you fellows could have done; but he won't
have smoking at any price, and he is justly annoyed,
because, in spite of the serious scrape they were in, two
of the boys reported to him for the disturbance in F.
dormitory last night were Hales and Winthrop. You
know the Head remembers quite as well as we do how
splendidly Hales pulled the Loamshire match out of
the fire ' (cheers), ' and he wants to keep him at Fernhall ; but you know discipline is more essential in a
school than a good bowler in an eleven:
' Now, then, as to this smoking. I am not going
to talk any soft rubbish to you fellows. We have all
smoked. I have certainly, and I told the Head that if
Hales went I ought to go. It was a great deal worse
in us than in you fellows. We ought to have set an
example and did not. As to the sin of smoking I
haven't a word to say. My father smokes, and he is
the best man I know. There is no mention of
tobacco in the Bible, so the use of it can't have been
forbidden there. It isn't bad form, whatever some
folks say, for the first gentleman in Europe sets us the
example; but (and here is the point) it is a vice in a
Fernhall boy because it is a breach of discipline.
Now, that ought to be enough for boys half of whom
want commissions in the army, the very breath of
whose life is discipline; but, as we are discussing this
thing amongst ourselves quietly, I'll tell you why I
think the Head considers smoking a bad thing for us.
We are all youngsters and have our work to do. To
do it well, we want clear heads and sound minds. 32
Tobacco is a sedative, and sends the brain to sleep—■
soothes it, say the smokers. Quite so, by rendering
it torpid. Men don't paint or write with their pipes
in their mouths. They may dream with them there
before beginning the day's work, or doze with them
there when the work is done, but down they go when the
chapter has to be written or the portrait painted. As
to the effect of tobacco on your bodies, you know as
well as I do whether the men who win the big races
are heavy smokers. Why! I would as soon eat a
couple of apples before running the mile as smoke
a pipe. Besides all this, we can't afford to smoke
good tobacco, and bad tobacco is poison. We don't
want loafers, and smoking means loafing. You don't
play football or cricket with a pipe in your mouth, do
you ? No ! and I want more players and fewer
smokers. Old Fernhall has never yet taken a back
seat in school athletics ' (here the cheering silenced
the speaker). ' Very weU, then don't let her now ; but,
mind you, "jumpy" nerves won't win the Ashburton
shield, or short winds break the mile record.
' I want the school to give up smoking. I've been
here now longer than any of you, and I love the old school
more than any of you can love her. She has made
me, God bless her, and I want to do her one good turn
before I leave' (here Wyndham's voice got quite husky,
but I suppose it was only a touch of hay-fever). ' I
believe most of you fellows would like to do me a good
turn' (shouts of applause). ' I'm sure that there is no
Fernhall boy to whom I would not do one' (here the
very oak benches seemed in danger of being broken. The
enthusiasm was getting dangerous).    ' If that is so,' SNAP'S REDEMPTION
he continued, 'give up smoking until you leave Fernhall. The Head is sick of trying to stop smoking by
punishment. He says that the whip is not the thing to
manage a good horse with, and he believes heart and
soul in his boys. He does not want to see the school
fail in its sports. He doesn't want to sack Towzer
and Snap' (dear old chap, he even knew our nicknames), ' but as head of this school, as colonel of our
regiment, he must and will have discipline. So he
puts it to you in this way, and he puts you on your
honour as gentlemen to keep to his terms if you
accept them.
' If you choose voluntarily to pledge yourselves to
give up smoking as a body, he on his part will ignore
the events of last night altogether' (wild excitement
in the pit). 'Now, Fernhall, will you show you're
worthy of such a brick as our Head ? Will you do me
one good turn before I leave ? Will you keep Towzer
and Snap, or your pipes ?'
' Towzer and Snap! Towzer and Snap !' came
the answer from four hundred boys' voices, in a regular
storm of eager reply.
' Very well, hands up for the boys,' said the Captain, and a forest of hard young fists went up into
the air.
'Hands up for the pipes,' cried Wyndham with a
grin.   Not a hand stirred.
' Bravo, gentlemen. I accept your promise. The
monitors have handed over all their own pipes, cigars,
and other smoking paraphernalia to the Head. We
did that before coming to you. Now we want you to
hand over all your pipes to us, to be labelled, stored,
p 7
and returned when you leave. It is agreed, I suppose,'
and not waiting for an answer he turned and shook
hands with Snap and Towzer, and then, pushing them
off the platform, he said, ' There, take them back, you
fellows; they are a bad lot, I'm afraid, but I think
you have bought them a bargain.'
Snap and Towzer hardly realised what had hap-.
pened to them for the first few minutes. When they
did they bolted up to the Head to thank him. No
one ever saw Hales so subdued as he was that afternoon. He had pulled steadily against the powers that
be ever since he had come to school, yet when he
came down from the library all he could say was,
'•By George, he's a trump. Why! he chaffed me
about the mop, and wanted to know if we all used
mops to clean out our brew-cans.'
The array of pipes, ranging from the black but
homely ' cutty' to a chef d'ceuvre in amber and meerschaum, which filled one of Mr. Foulkes's big cupboards,
was a sight worth seeing, and if the time of our mile
was not better next year it certainly was not worse :
there were more players in the football field, and the
fact that they had bought back their two favourites
by a piece of self-denial did much to elevate the character, not only of the redeemed ones, ,but of the
School itself.
For one whole term (until Wyndham left) not a
pipe was smoked within the school limits, and if
smoking ever did go on again it certainly never again
became the fashion, but was looked on rather as a
loafer's habit than as the badge of manhood. 35
For a week after the reprieve recorded in the last
chapter Snap and Towzer went about like cats who
had been whipped for stealing cream. They honestlv
desired not to be led into temptation, and hoped that
no one would leave the jug on the floor. . For a week
perhaps, even if this had happened, these two penitent
kittens would have made believe that they did not
see it.
The holidays were now rapidly approaching, and
the glorious July weather seemed expressly sent for
the gorgeous frocks and sweetly pretty faces which
would soon adorn playground and chapel during ' prize
Snap and Towzer were in Frank Winthrop's study,,
Towzer getting his big brother's tea ready, and Snap ^
looking on.    After a while the conversation turned
upon a subject of immense interest, just then, to all
Fernhall boys.
'Major,' said Snap to Winthrop the elder, 'what
do you fellows think of the ghost ?'
' Think !' replied the monitor with wonderful
dignity,' why, that you lower school fellows have been
getting out of your dormitories and playing tunes
D 2 1\.
upon combs, jew's-harps, and other instruments of
music, when you ought to have been asleep, with a
lump of yellow soap between your jaws to keep you
' Oh, stow that,' replied Snap, ' fellows don't play
such tunes as the Head has heard for the last week
on jew's-harps and combs. Either those fellows who
belong to the " concert lot" had a hand in it, or there
is something fishy about it. I say, Frank, be a good
chap and tell us, are the Sixth in it ?'
' The Sixth in it, I should think not,' replied
Winthrop; ' but I can't answer for all the monitors,
even if I wanted to.'
Snap winked at Towzer at this rather cautious
denial, remarking :
' Well, it is a good thing the ghost has not forgotten his music. He has been here every year
since Fernhall was a school.'
'Yes,' broke in Billy, lifting his snub nose from
the depths of an empty coffee-cup,' and to-night is the
night of the Ninth; the night, you know, on which it
walks round the Nix's garden and across the lawn."
' Does it ?' quoth Frank. ' Well, if it is wise, it
won't walk across that lawn to-night. If it does, it
will get snuff, I can tell you.'
'Why, Major, why should it get "bottled" tonight more than any other night, and who is to
" bottle " a ghost ?' inquired Snap indignantly.
' Never you mind, young 'un, but you may bet your
bottom dollar that if the ghost walks to-night it will
be walking, in the quad at punishment drill for the
rest of this term.' mm
As this was all the boys could get from their
senior, they had to be content with it, and before
long took their departure. At the bottom of the
stairs Snap took Billy's arm, and conferred earnestly
with him as to what the great man's prophecy might
' Well, you see,' said Towzer, looking abnormally
wise, ' old Frank is precious thick with the Beauty'
(a daughter of ' the Head'), ' and after the match the
other day I saw them having a long talk together,
and, unless I am mistaken, he was showing her just
the way the ghost ought to come.'
' By Jove, Towzer,' cried Snap, ' Scotland Yard
won't have a chance with you when you grow up.
One of the " Shilling Shocker " detectives would be a
fool to you. You've got it, my ladf; there is a deep-
laid and terrible plot on foot, as the papers say, and
one aimed at a time-honoured and respected institution, our friend the ghost. Let's go and see Elizabeth.'
Now Elizabeth was a lady, if a kind heart and
gentle ways with small boys could make her one,
although the humble office which she held was that
of needlewoman at Fernhall. In these degenerate
days a maid-servant and a wife together are supposed
to mend me, tend me, and attach the fickle button
to the too often deserted shirt. But they are only
supposed to. They don't as a matter of fact, and
indeed the manner of life of my buttons is decidedly
loose. But in those old days the ancient needlewoman of Fernhall wielded no idle weapon. Her
needle and thimble were the sword and shield with
"-	 38
which she attacked and overcame the untidiness of
four hundred boys, and in spite of the wild tugging
at buttons and collars as the Irishman of the dormitory sang out 'Bell fast,' ' Double in,' while the last
of the chapel chimes were in the air, no clean shirt at
any rate came buttonless to the scratch.
To Elizabeth, then, the boys betook themselves,
and, being special favourites, she took them into her
own little snuggery, and they had tea again. Oh no,
don't feel alarmed, gentle reader: two teas, ten teas
if you like, matter nothing to Fernhall boys—their
hides are elastic, and even the pancakes of Shrove
Tuesday merely cause a slight depression of spirits
for the next twenty-four hours.
' Now, 'Lizabeth, you dear old brick, we want you
to tell us something. What's up to-night at " the
' Nothing that I know of, Master Winthrop, except
that some of them officers is a coming up from their
barracks to dinner with Miss* Beauty and the other
young ladies as is staying here.'
' Oh! o—o—oh, as the man said when the brickbat hit him where he'd meant to put his dinner; and
what, Lizzie darling, may they be going to do after
dinner ?'
' Piano-punching, I suppose, dear, and a little
chess with the governor; and then what ?'
' Bed ?   It will be slow for them, won't it ? '
' No, Master Hales, piano-punching indeed, when
Miss Beauty plays sweet enough to wake the blessed
' Did wake them,   " Grannie,"  the other night, THE FERNHALL GHOST
didn't she, and they seem to have taken an active
share in the musical part of the entertainment ? '
' There's no talking with such a random boy as
you, but there, if you want to know, that's just what
they have all come about. They say that when Miss
Beauty was going to bed the other night she heard
that soft, wailing music, like what we hear here every
year just about this time, and she was so sure that
there was something really unnatural about it that
the Professor has given her leave to sit up with the
other guests, and Captain Lowndes, and the rest in
the monitors' common room, to see if they can catch
the ghost, and for goodness sake don't you say as I
told you, but if you knows the ghost tell him not to
walk to-night, as the Professor says such nonsense
must be stamped out for good.    There now!'
Poor old Elizabeth looked as if she had committed
a crime, and puffed and blew and pulled at her two
little chin tufts (for, alas, she "was bearded like the
pard) in a way that nearly sent the boys into convulsions at her own tea-table. But they contained
themselves (and about three plates full of muffins),
and by-and-by departed.
There was a long and earnest conversation in a
certain study that night. There was a surplice
missing from amongst the properties of the choir,
and then the four hundred wended sleepily from
chapel to their dormitories.
In half an hour the lights were out in all windows
save those of the head-master's house; stillness fell
upon Fernhall; a big bright moon came out upon the
scene and made those long grass meadows gleam like f\
the silver sea just beyond them ; a bat or two whirled
about above the master's orchard, and but for them,
and the merry party up at the house, Fernhall, once
the smuggler's home, now the busy public school,
slept to the lullaby of the summer waves.
Fernhall slept, its busy brain as quiet as if no
memories of an evil past hung thickly round that
grey old house by the sea. Could it be that such evil
deeds were done there in the storied days of old ? At
least there was some ground for the country folks'
legends and superstitions. Not a rood of ground
under or around the ' House' was solid ; it was all a
great warren, only that the tunnelling and burrowing,
had been done by men and not by conies.
Under the basement of the head-master's house
were huge cellars, such cellars as would have appeared
a world too wide even for the most bibulous of scholars.
A cupboard of very tiny dimensions would have held
all the strong liquors which our Head drank in a year.
These cellars had two entrances, one from the house,
and the other half a mile away, below what was now
low-water mark. For year by year the waves encroach upon Fernhall, and in time those old smugglers who made and used these vaults will get their
own again. They, no doubt, many of them, have gone
to Davy Jones's locker, but their chief sleeps sound on
shore, in a stately vault, which blazons his name and
his virtues to the world. In his day smuggling was
a remunerative and genteel profession, and he and
all his race were past masters in the craft. Living
far from the great centres of life, upon a bleak and THE FERNHALL GHOST 41
dangerous coast, little notice was taken of the quiet
old squire who yearly added acre to acre and whiled
away the cheerless days with such innocent pursuits
as sea-fishing and yachting.
Fernhall yokels say that the last squire and his
wife did not agree. She was not a native of the
Fernhall moorland, but a soft south-country thing
with a laugh in her eye and bright clothes on her
back when she first came amongst them; a parson's
daughter, some said, but no one knew and few cared,
Very soon she grew, like the rest of the people round
her, silent, serious, or sad—a quiet grey shadow, with
the laugh and bright clothes stored away perhaps
somewhere with her memories of that sunny south.
All at once her face was missed from church and
market, but no one cared to ask whither she had
gone. Someone, with grim Fernhall humour, suggested that the Squire had added to the ' spirits' in
his subterranean vaults.
That was all, then, and to-night was the anniversary of her- strange disappearance'. There are
nights when the world is still and you can feel that
she is resting. There are other nights when the
stillness is as deep, nay, deeper; but it is not the
stillness of rest. The silence is throbbing and alive
with some sad secret, and the listening earth is
straining to catch it. This was such a night. The
whitely gleaming grass stretched away until it reached
a vague land^ of moonlit shadows. The waves were
almost articulate in their moanings. The leaves of
the poplars kept showing their white underside in the
moonlight, until the whole trees swung in the night m
breeze, a grove of sheeted spectres. Anyone watching the scene was at once seized with the idea that
something was going to happen, and, like the watchful
stars and bending trees, strained every nerve to
At last it came, faint and far off, sad but unutterably sweet, a low wail of plaintive music—so low that
at first it seemed the mere coinage of an overwrought
fancy. Nearer it came, and nearer, now growing into
a full wave of sound, now ebbing away—the mere echo
of a sigh, but always coming nearer and nearer, until it
seemed to pause irresolutely by the gate which divides
the master's garden from the monitors' lawn. Was
it another fancy, or were there for a moment a crowd
of white, eager faces pressed against the window which
looks upon that lawn ? Fancy assuredly, for the moon
now gleamed back blankly from the glass. For a
moment a little cloud no bigger than a man's hand
passed over the moon, and as it cleared away a deep-
drawn sigh attracted the watcher's eyes to the garden
gate. The moon was full upon it; you could see it
shake if it shook ever so little. In that listening
" midnight you could almost hear the flowers whispering to each other, but the gate neither creaked nor
shook, and yet someone had passed through it, someone with bent head, and slow, tired feet, who sighed
and told the beads of her rosary as she passed. The
moonlight played strange tricks that night; it seemed
to cling to and follow that silent figure, leaving a white
track on the dew-laden grass. And now it paused for
one moment before that window, through which those
tear-dimmed   eyes had so  often and so longinglv THE FERNHALL GHOST 43
turned towards her own loved south, and as she
paused the silence broke, the window was dashed
open, and three athletic figures, figures of men who
feared neither man nor devil, sprang out with shouts
of laughter, surrounded that white figure, still so
strangely quiet, and demanded—its name! At the open
window from which the three had issued were now
gathered half a dozen ladies, looking half amused,
half frightened. Among them was Beauty, the Head's
With boisterous laughter, that jarred harshly upon
the stillness of that midsummer night, the three had
dashed upon their prey. Why, then, do they pause ?
It seemed to those who watched that some whisper
had reached their ears and chilled their courage. For
one moment the figure's arms were raised aloft, and
then the men recoiled, and it passed on as if unconscious of these things of clay, steady and stately, with
head bent, slow feet, and hands which still told the
rosary beads. For a moment it stood large and
luminous on the skyline of that hiU which overhangs
the' sea, the favourite ' look-out' of the old lords of
Fernhall; for a moment it raised its sheeted arms
as if calling down a curse upon the fated mansion,
and then floated seaward and was gone.
The chapel-bell tolled one, and again the Fernhall
ghost had baffled the inquisitive investigations of disbelieving men, and had asserted itself in spite of the
nineteenth century, the —th Regiment, and the new
Head-master. In vain Beauty sought an explanation
from her discomfited cavaliers; all she could elicit
was that there was  something uncanny about it,
mm* mmm
something not fit for ladies to hear, and she had
better go to bed and think no more about it. It would
not come again for a year, anyway. So, at last,
mightily dissatisfied, the ladies went, and when the
men were driving home to barracks long and heartily
pealed their laughter and gaUant Captain Lowndes
vowed again and again that ' That boy would make a
right good soldier, sir, hang me if he wouldn't! What
was it he said again, the young scoundrel ? " I've
not a rag on except this surplice, Captain, and, by
Jove,, if you don't take your hands off I'll drop that.
If the ladies don't like me in the spirit, I must appear
in the flesh."' 45
' Well, Snap, how are you this morning ? You look
very down in the mouth.'
' Yes, sir, I don't feel very lively,' replied Snap.
The speakers were Admiral Christopher Winthrop
and our old friend Harold, or Snap Hales. The midsummer term had come to an end, and the boys were
all at home at Fairbury for the holidays. Frank and
Billy Winthrop were somewhere about the home-farm,
and the old Admiral was down at the bottom of the
lawn, by the famous brook, intent on the capture of a
certain ' sock-dollager ' who had been fighting a duel
•with the sailor for the last three weeks. So far the
cunning and shyness of the trout had been more than
a match for the skill and perseverance of the red-
faced, grey-haired old gentleman on the bank, but the
Admiral had served a long apprenticeship in all field-
sports, and it would go hard with him if that four-
pounder did not, sooner or later, lie gasping at his
' Try an alder, sir,' suggested Snap, who, though
no fisherman himself, had long since learnt the name
of every fly in the Admiral's book.
' No,' replied that worthy disciple of Walton, 'I'll 46
give him just one more turn with the dun,' and, so
saying, he proceeded with the greatest care to strain
the gut of another of Ogden's beautiful little flies.
' But what is the matter with you, Snap, that you
are not, as you say, very lively ? ' urged the Admiral,
speaking with some difficulty, his mouth being at the.
moment full of dry gut.
' Characters came to-day, Admiral,' replied Snap.;
' didn't you get Frank's and BiUy's ?'
' Yes, and a precious bad one Master Billy's was ;
the only good part of it was the writing. Mr. Smith,
writes :—" Hand-writing shows great improvement; is
diligent and anxious to improve." Unfortunately
Billy's writing speaks for itself, even if, like me, you
can't read a word of it.' And the old man chuckled
to himself at his own shrewdness.
' Frank's was good enough, I suppose, sir ? ' asked
' Yes, Hales, as good as it could be. Frank is one
of the right sort. He can work like a—like a Winthrop (and the old boy swelled with pride), and play
like a '
'Vernon,' said a soft, sweet voice behind the
Admiral, who, turning, found himself face to face
with his sister-in-law, a slight, graceful woman,
who was beautiful still, in spite of the grey in her
hair and the lines which showed that trouble had not
spared even sweet Dolly Vernon, as her friends had
called her before she married the dead squire of Fair-
' Ah, Chris ! Chris ! ' she cried, shaking her finger
at him, ' what a vain old sea-dog you are !   So, all my THE  ADMIRAL'S  ' SOCK-DOLLAGER;
boy's virtues are Winthrop, and all his vices Vernon,
are they ?    For shame, sir ! '
The Admiral had been supreme on his own quarterdeck ; he was still supposed to be supreme about the
home farm and in the coverts. As a matter of fact,
he was nothing of the kind, but simply his fan sister's
most loyal henchman and most obedient slave. When
his brother had died, leaving Mrs. Winthrop with two
great boys to bring up and the estate to manage, the
Admiral had at first acted as his sister-in-law's agent
from a distance. As the years went on, and the boys
grew up, the Admiral found that the management of
the estate from a distance was more than he could
undertake, so that at last he had settled in a little
cottage in the park, and practically lived with his
sister-in-law at the Hall.
'Yes, sister, yes,' replied the old gentleman apologetically, ' " plays like a Vernon," of course that's what
I meant; and you know,' he added slyly, ' that Dr.
Foulkes said that his cricket was, if anything, better
than his classics.'
'And how about his vices?' persisted Mrs.
' Pooh! Frank hasn't got any,' asserted her
' Hasn't he ?' she asked with a little doubtful
smile; ' and what do you say to that, Harold ? You are
his bosom friend.'
Snap reddened up to the eyes.
'No, Mrs. Winthrop, I don't think he has.   Dr.
Foulkes seems to think they all belong to me.    My ;
uncle says that according to my character I have a 48
monopoly of all the qualities undesirable in a boy who
has his way to make in the world.'
• Although he spoke jestingly, Mrs. Winthrop knew
enough of Snap to see that there was a good deal of
earnest in his jest. His guardian, Mr. Howell Hales,
a solicitor in large practice, had never had time or inclination to do more than his bare duty by his fatherless nephew, so that Fairbury Court had become the
boy's real home, and Mrs. Winthrop almost unconsciously had filled the place of mother to him.
' What is it, Snap,' she said now, laying her hand
on (his strong young arm, and looking up into his
face inquiringly, ' have you got a worse character than
usual ?'
' Yes! worse than usual,' laughed Snap grimly ;
and then, seeing that his hard tone had hurt his gentle
friend, his voice softened, and he added, ' Yes, Mrs.
Winthrop, it is very bad this time, so bad that the
Head doesn't want me to go back next term.'
' Not to go back next term ? why, that's expulsion,''
blurted out the Admiral.
' No, sir, not quite as bad as that; it's dismissal,'
suggested Snap.
'I don't see any difference. Chopping straws I
call that,' said old Winthrop.
' Sphtting hairs, don't you mean, Chris?' askedMrs.
Winthrop with a half-smile; ' but I see the difference,
Snap.    There is no disgrace about this, is there ?'
' No, I didn't think so,' replied Snap, ' but my
uncle says I am a disgrace to my family and always
shall be.'
' He always did say that,' muttered the Admiral THE ADMIRAL'S  ' SOCK-DOLLAGER'
'Nevermind what your uncle says; I mean,'added
the old gentleman, correcting himself, ' don't take it
too much to heart. You see he has very strict ideas
of what young lads should be.'
' What is it that you have been doing, Snap ? Is
it too bad to tell me ? ' asked Mrs. Winthrop after a
For a moment the boy hung his head, thinking,
and then raised it with a proud look in his eyes.
'No, dear,' he said, dropping unconsciously into an
old habit, ' it isn't, and so it can't be very bad ! ' And
with that he told the whole foolish story of his share
in the smoking orgy, of his reprieve, of the mop incident and the bolster fight, and, last of all, of that
Fernhall ghost.
At this part of the recital of his wrongdoings the
Admiral's face, which had been growing redder and
redder all the time, got fairly beyond control, and
the old gentleman nearly went into convulsions of
laughter. ' Shameful, sir ; gross breach of discipline,
sir ; ha ! ha! ha ! " Don't like me in the spirit, had
better take me in the flesh." Capital—cap—infamous,
I mean, infamous. Your uncle never did anything
like that, sir, not he,' spluttered the veteran; ' couldn't
have done if he had tried,' he added sotto voce.
'But,' said Mrs. Winthrop, after a pause, 'what
are you going to do, Snap ? '
'My uncle wants me to go into the Church or
Mr. Mathieson's office,' replied the boy.
' The Church or Mr. Mathieson's office—that is a
strange choice, isn't it ?' asked his friend. ' Which do
you mean to do ?'
E 50
' Neither,' answered Snap stoutly ; ' I'm not fit for
one, and I should do no good in the other. I shall
do what some other fellows I know have done. I'll
emigrate and turn cow-boy. I like hard work and
could do it,' and half consciously he held out one of
his sinewy brown hands, and looked at it as if it was
a witness for him in this matter.
' What does your uncle say to that, Snap ?' asked
the Admiral.
' Not much, sir, bad or good. He says I am an
ungrateful young wretch for refusing to go into Mr.
• Mathieson's office, and that I shall never come to any
good. But, then, I've heard that from him often
enough before,' said Snap grimly, 'and I think he
will let me go, and that is the main point.'
' And when do you mean to start ?' asked the
' Oh, as soon as he will let me, sir. You see, my
father left me a few hundred pounds, so that I dare
say when Mr. Hales sees that my mind is made up
he will let me go. You don't think much worse of
me, I hope, sir, do you ?'
' Worse of you ? ' said the old sailor stoutly, ' no !
You are a young fool, I dare say, but so was I at your
time of life. Come up to lunch !' And, planting his
rod by the side of the stream, he turned towards the
.house, Mrs. Winthrop and Snap following him.
At lunch Snap had to tell the whole story again
to Billy and Frank, but when he came to the point
at which he had decided to ' go west,' instead of
eliciting the sympathy of his audience, he only seemed
to rouse their envy. THE ADMIRAL'S  ' SOOK.-DOLLAGER '
'By Jove,' said Frank, ' if it wasn't for this jolly
old place I should wish that I had got your character
and your punishment, Snap ! '
For a week or more both the Admiral and his
sister had been very unlike their old selves, so quiet
were they and distrait, except when by an effort one
or the other seemed to rouse to a mood whose merri-
ness had something false and strained hi it, even to
the unobservant young eyes of the boys. Why was
it that at this speech of Frank's Mrs. Winthrop's
sweet eyes filled with sudden tears, and that piece of
pickle went the wrong way and almost choked the
Admiral ? Perhaps, if you follow the story further,
you may be able to guess.
After lunch they all wandered'down again to the
trout-stream, where 'Uncle's Ogden,' as they called the
Admiral's rod, stood planted in the ground, like
the spear of some knight-errant of old days. It was
a lovely spot, this home of the Winthrops—such a
home as exists only in England; beautiful by nature,
beautiful by art, mellowed by age, and endeared to
the owners by centuries of happy memories. The
sunlight loved it and lingered about it in one moss-
grown corner or another from the first glimpse of
dawn to the last red ray of sunset. The house had
been built in a hollow, after the unsanitary fashion of
our forefathers; round it closed a rampart of low
wooded hills, which sheltered its grey gables from the
winter winds ; and in front of it a close-cropped lawn
ran from the open French windows of the morning-
room to the sunlit, ripples of the little river Tane as
it raced away to the mill on the home-farm. tm
For five centuries the Winthrops had lived at
Fairbury, not brilliantly, perhaps, but happily and
honestly, as squires who knew that their tenants'
interests and their own were identical; sometimes as
soldiers who went away to fight for the land they
loved, only to come back to enjoy in it the honours
they had won. It was a fair home and a fair name,
and so far, in five centuries, none of the race had
done anything to bring either into disrepute. No
wonder the Winthrops loved Fairbury.
But I am digressing, and must hark back to the
Admiral, who has stolen on in front of his followers
and is now crouching, like an old tiger, a couple of
yards from the bank of the brook. Above him,
waving to and fro almost like that tiger's tail, is the
graceful, gleaming fly-rod, with its long light line,
which looks in the summer air no thicker than gossamer threads. In front of the old gentleman's
position, and on the other side of the stream, is a
crumbling stone wall, and for a foot or two from itj
between it and the Admiral, the water glides by in
shadow. Had you watched it very carefully, you
might, if you were a fisherman, have detected a still,
small rise, so small that it hardly looked like a rise
at all. Surely none but the most experienced would
have guessed that it was the rise of the largest fish in
that stream. But the Admiral was ' very experienced,'
and knew almost how many spots there were on the
deep, broad sides of the four-pounder whose luncheon
of tiny half-drowned duns was disturbing the waters
opposite. At last the fly was dry enough to please
him, and Admiral Chris let it go.    A score of times J
Q  —
before, in the last few days, he had had just as good
a chance of beguiling his victim, and each time his
cast had been light and true, so that the harshest of
critics or most jealous of rivals (the same thing, you
know) could have found no fault in it. Each time
the fly, dry as a bone and light as thistle-down, had
lit upon the stream just the right distance above the
feeding fish, and had sailed over him with jaunty
wings well cocked, so close an imitation of nature
that the man who made it could hardly have picked
it out from among the dozen live flies which sailed
by with it. But a man's eyes are no match for a
fish's, and the old 'sock-dollager' had noticed something wrong—a shade of colour, a minute mistake in
form, or something too delicate even for Ogden's
fingers to set right—and had forthwith declined to be
tempted. But this time fate was against the gallant
fish. The Admiral had miscalculated his cast, and
the little dun hit hard against the crumbling wall
and tumbled back from it into the water ' anyho\v.'
Though a mistake, it was the most deadly cast the
Admiral could have made. A score of flies had fallen
in the same helpless fashion from that wall in the last
half-hour, and as each fell the great fish had risen
and sucked them down. This feU right into his
mouth. He saw no gleam of gut in the treacherous
shadow, he had seen no upright figure on the bank
for an hour and a half; he had no time to scrutinise
the fly as it sailed down to him, so he turned like a
thought in a quick brain, caught the fly, and knew
that he too was caught, almost before the Admiral had
had time to realise that he had for once made a bad ■"
cast. And then the struggle began; and such is the
injustice of man's nature that even gentle Mrs. Winthrop did not feel a touch of compassion for that
gallant little trout, battling for his life against a man
who weighed fifteen stone to his four pounds, and had
had as many years to learn wisdom in, almost, as the
fish had lived weeks. No doubt she would have felt
sorry for the fish if she had thought of these things,
but then you see she didn't think of them.
' By George ! I'm into him,' shouted the Admiral.
Anyone only slightly acquainted with our sporting
idioms might have taken this speech literally, and
wondered how such a very small whale could have
held such a very large Jonah. But the Admiral never
stopped to pick his words when excited, as poor Billy
soon discovered. An evil fate had prompted Billy to
snatch up the net as soon as his uncle struck his fish,
and now, as the four-pounder darted down stream, the
boy made a dab at him with it.
' Ah, you young owl! You lubberly young sea-
cook,' roared the infuriated old gentleman. 'What
are you doing ? Do you think you're going to take a
trout like a spoonful of porridge? Get below him, and
wait till I steer him into the net.'
Frightened by Towzer's futile ' dab,' the trout had
made a desperate dash for the further side of the
stream, making the Admiral's reel screech as the line
ran out. Skilfully the old man humoured his victim,
now giving him line-, now just balking him in his
efforts to reach a weed-bed or a dangerous-looking
root. People talk of salmon which have taken a day
to kill; it is a good trout which gives the angler ten S3
minutes' ' play.' The Admiral's trout was tired even
in less time than that, and came slowly swimming
down past a small island of water weeds, beyond the
deep water on the house-side of the stream, submis-
. sive now to his captor's guiding hand. Gently the
• Admiral drew him towards the shallows, and in another moment he would have been in the net, when
suddenly, without warning, he' gave his head one
vicious shake, and, leaping clear out of the water, fell
back upon the little island, where he lay high and dry,
the red spots on his side gleaming in the sun. It was
his last effort for freedom, and now, as he lay gasping
within a few inches of the clear stream, of home and
safety, the treacherous steel thing dropped out of his
mouth, the current caught the belly of the loose line
and floated it down stream, and the Admiral stood
on the further bank dumb with disgust, the last link
broken which bound his fish to him. In a moment
more the fish would recover from his fall, and then
one kick, however feeble, would be- enough to roll him
back into the Tane, and so good-bye to all the fruits
of several weeks' patience and cunning, and good-bye,
too, to all chance of catching ' the best trout, by
George, sir, in the brook !'    It was hard!
But there was another chance in the Admiral's
favour which he had not counted upon. Even as the
fish fell back upon the dry weeds Snap slid quietly as
-an otter into the stream. A few strong, silent strokes,
and he was alongside the weeds, and as the fish's
gaping gills opened before he made what would have
been to the Admiral a fatal effort Snap's fingers were
inserted, and the great trout carried off through his
J 56
own element as unceremoniously as if it really was an
otter which had got him.
' I'm not a bad retriever, sir, am I ? ' asked the
boy as he laid his prize down a,t old Winthrop's feet.
That worthy sportsman was delighted.
'No, my boy,' he replied, 'you are first-rate,
though perhaps Mr. Howell would call you a sad dog
if he saw you in those dripping garments. Be off and
change into some of Frank's toggery.'
' All right, sir; come on, Frank,' replied Snap, and
together/the three boys raced off to their own domain
in one of the wings of Fairbury Court, given over long
ago to boys, dogs, and disorder.
Meanwhile the Admiral retired to weigh his fish,
which he did most carefully, allowing three ounces
for its loss of weight since landing—an altogether unnecessary concession, as it had not been out of the
water then more than five minutes. However, he
entered it in his fishing journal as 3 lbs. 11 ozs., caught
August 2, and retrieved by Snap Hales. As he closed
the book he sighed and muttered, ' That is about the
last trout I shall take on the Tane.' 57
The day after the Admiral's triumph over his fishy
tenant he and his sister called a meeting in the
morning-room after breakfast. It was an informal
meeting, but, as he said that the business to be done
was important, the young squire restrained his impatience to go and see the men about rolling the cricket
pitch in the park, and waited to hear what his uncle
had to say.
' I'm sorry, FrahkY the old man said, ' that you
will have to put on " the Magpies " for next week, but
I am afraid we can't have any cricket here this
' Why, uncle,* expostulated Frank, ' it is the very
best fun we have, and the Magpies are capital good
fellows as well as good cricketers.'
' Yes, I know,' replied his uncle gravely, ' but
even cricket must give way sometimes, and now it
happens that your mother and I are suddenly called
away on business, on very important business,' and
here he looked sternly at his sister-in-law, who turned
her face from the light, and appeared to busy herself
with the arrangement of a vase of flowers on the old
oak over-mantel. 58
' But, uncle,' put in Towzer, ' couldn't Frank take
care of the Magpies even if you and mother were not
here ? Of course it would not be half such fun as if
you were here to score and Mother to look on, but
Humphreys (the butler) would see that the dinners
were all right. I'm sure he could,' added the boy
more confidently, catching at a sign of approval in his
brother's face.
' It wouldn't do, my boy,' asserted Admiral
Chris, 'it would not do at all; it..would be rude to
your guests, you wouldn't be able to manage, and
besides,' he added, as if in despair for a convincing
argument, 'we might be able to get back, and then
neither your mother nor I need miss the match.'
This was quite another story, and so the boys consented, albeit with a very bad grace, to postpone their
' What I propose now instead of the match,' continued the Admiral, ' is a little travel for you two, and
I've asked Snap Hales's uncle to let him go with you
I want you to go off and try a fishing tour in Wales,
whilst your mother and I finish our business in
London, and then we'll all meet again in a fortnight's
' Bravo, uncle !' cried Frank,' but what am I to do
for a rod ?'
' Oh, if yours is broken you had better take mine,'
replied the Admiral.
' What, your big Castle Connel ? Thank you, sir ;
it would be as much good to me in such cramped
places as you used to tell us about as a clothes-prop !'
rephed Frank. THE BLOW FALLS 59
' No, not the Castle Connel, the Ogden; I shan't
want it, and you will take care of it, I know,' was the
unexpected reply.
' Your Ogden, sir !' said Frank; ' why, I thought
no one might look at it from less than ten paces.'
'You're an impertinent young monkey, Frank,
laughed the Admiral, ' but still you may have it.'
And so it was settled that the Magpie match
should be given up, and Frank and Billy be packed
off on a fishing tour in Wales, whilst their mother and
the Admiral went up to town and transacted the
troublesome business which had had the bad taste to
demand then attention during the Midsummer holidays.
A little later in the day a man came up from the
village with a note from Mr. Howell for the Admiral.
The boys did not see it, but it was understood to contain his consent in writing ' to the proposal that Snap
should join the-expedition.' For the rest of that day.
all was excitement and bustling preparations for a
start. It seemed almost as if they were preparing for
something much more important than a fortnight's
trip into Wales. Snap was up at the house all day.
That with him was common enough. His own pac
ing had not taken him long. The boy was keener-
eyed than his young companions, and, in spite of an
apparent roughness, was more sensitive to external
influences than either of them. Hence it was perhaps
that he noticed what they overlooked; noticed that
Mrs. Winthrop's eyes followed her sons about from
room to room, that she seemed to dread to lose them
from her sight, that the dinner that night was what 60
the boys called a birthday dinner, that is, consisted of
all the little dishes of which Mrs. Winthrop knew each
boy was specially fond, and what struck him more
than anything was that two or three times he was
sure her eyes filled with tears at some chance remark
of Frank's or Willy's which to him had no sad
meaning in it. He was puzzled, and, worse than that,
' depressed.'
The start next morning was even less auspicious
than ' packing-day' had been. The midsummer
weather seemed to have gone, and the gables of the
old house showed through a grey and rainy sky;
rain knocked the leaves off the roses, and battered
angrily at the window-panes. The pretty Tane was
swollen and mud-coloured, and, altogether, leaving
home on a fishing trip to Wales felt worse than leaving home the first time for school.
The Admiral had determined on seeing them on
their way as far as the county town, and drove to
the station with them in the morning. If it had not
been so absolutely absurd, Snap would have fancied
once or twice that the old gentleman did not like any
of the boys to be alone with his neighbours, or even
with the servants. It would have been very unlike
him if it had been the case, so of course Snap was
'Towzer,' asked Frank in a whisper as they
drove away, ' what was the Mater crying about ? '
The Admiral overheard him, and replied :
' Crying, what nonsense, Frank; your mother was
waving good-bye and good riddance to you with that
foolish scrap of lace  of hers;   that's  all.    Cryin
indeed !' and the old seaman snorted indignantly at
the idea.
It was all very well for the Admiral to deny the
fact, and to go very near to getting angry about it, but
Snap at any rate knew that it was a fact, and that
Admiral Chris knew it too. It was the first untruth
he had ever heard from the upright old gentleman,
by his side, and Snap's wonder and dislike to this
journey grew. As Snap looked back a turn in the
road gave him another rain-blurred glimpse of Fairbury, with a little drooping figure which stiU watched
from the Hall steps, and a conviction that something
was wrong somewhere forced itself insensibly upon
him, though as yet he was not wise enough to guess
where the evil threatened.
The rain had an angry sound in it, unlike the
merry splash of heavy summer showers : there seemed
a sorrow in the sigh of the wind, unlike the scent-laden
sigh of summer breezes after rain. Nature looked
ugly and unhappy, and the boys were soon glad to
curl themselves up in their respective corners of the
railway carriage, with their backs resolutely turned
upon the rain-blurred panes of the carriage window.
At the station the Admiral had met his favourite
aversion, Mr. Crombie. What Mr. Crombie had
originally done to offend the Admiral no one knew,
but he had done it effectually. Crombie gave Admiral
Chris the gout even worse than '47 port or the east
Crombie was on the point of addressing Frank
when the Admiral intervened and carried off the boys
to get tickets.    A little to Frank's surprise, his, uncle a*
took thhd-class tickets, for, although on long journeys the old gentleman invariably practised this wise
economy, Frank had been- accustomed to hear him
say,' Always take " firsts " on our own line, to support
a local institution.'
As the Admiral took his tickets the voice of his
persecutor sounded behind him. Crombie had followed
his foe.
' What!' he said—and the sneering tone was so
marked that it made the boys wince—'an Admiral
travelling third! '
' Yes, Sir,' retorted the Admiral fiercely. ' God
bless me, you don't mean to say there is a " fourth "
on ? Only persons who are afraid of being mistaken
for their butlers travel first nowadays,' and with an
indignant snort the old gentleman squared his
shoulders, poked out his chin, and walked down the
platform with a regular quarter-deck roll, leaving Mr.
Crombie to meditate on what he was pleased to call
' the " side " of them beggarly aristocrats.'
At Glowsbury, the county town for - Fairbury,
Admiral Chris left the boys, hurrying away with an
old crony of his, who, in spite of nous and winks,
would blurt out, ' I'm so sorry, Winthrop. But the
Admiral let him get no further. ' Good-bye, lads,'
he sang out, and then away he trotted, holding on to
his astonished friend, whom he rapidly hustled out of
earshot, so that the boys never knew the cause of that
old gentleman's sorrow.
It didn't trouble them much either, for, once in
Wales, the weather grew fine again—provokingly fine,
the boys thought.   If ever you go to dear little Wales, THE  BLOW FALLS 63
0 Transatlantic cousin, to see the view, you may bet
your bottom dollar that you won't see it. You will
be like that other tourist.who 'viewed the mist, but
missed the view.' If, however, you can jockey the
Welsh climate into a belief that you are going there
solely for fishing, you may rely on such weather as
•the Winthrops got, that is to say, clear skies, broiling
suns, and tiny' silver streams calling out for rainstorms to swell their diminished waters, and crying
out in vain. The waters will be clearer than crystal,
the fish more shy than a boy of fourteen amongst
ladies, and the views perfect. Unfortunately, it is
extremely difficult to jockey anything Welsh: Wales
is very unbelieving, and especially does it disbelieve
The boys opened their campaign on the Welsh
borders, fished successfully for samlets—bright, silvery
little fellows, which had to be put back—and with a
miserable want of success for the brown trout, which
they were allowed to keep if they could catch them.-
Sometimes they walked from point to point, but then
they found that their expenses in gingerbeer were
almost as great as if they had spent the money in a
| third-class ticket; once they tried a long run by rail
on the—well, I dare not tell you its real name— so
I'll say the Grand Old Dawdler's line. They bought
third-class tickets, but travelled first, because the hne
had only three coaches hi at that time, and they were
aU first. Two rustics travelled with them; it was rather
a busy day with the Grand Old Dawdler's line. The
station-master at the starting-point, who sold them
their  tickets, went with them as engine-driver  and 64
! .1
guard, and at each of the little stations which they
passed he acted as station-master. This system of
centralising all the service in one person had its advantages : there is only one person to tip, and if he is
sober the travelling, if slow (say seven miles an hour),
is very fairly safe.
Once, and once only, they tried tricycles. Wales
is not as level as a billiard-table. Towzer, careless
of the picturesque, wished that it was. On tricycles,
he explained, if you were not used to them, you could
travel on the flat rather faster than you could walk;
uphiU you had to get off and shove, and downhiU you
were either run away with, or, if-you put on the brake,
the tricycle stopped, you didn't—on the contrary,
you proceeded upon your journey by a series of gyrations through the air, until suddenly planted on your
head in the next county but two. Besides all this it
cost more to send back your tricycle by rail than a first-
class ticket would have cost, whereas if you didn't send
it back you were liable to be tried at the next assizes.
A letter which I insert here, and which Mrs.
Winthrop still keeps, for the sake, not of its melodious
metre, but for the sake of auld lang syne, will give
the reader some idea of the Winthrops' fishing adventures. I am inclined to think that Frank wrote
it. Big, strong fellow as he was, he had a habit of
constantly writing to the Mater, and I happen to
know that Snap was too bad-tempered at that time
to write anything. He had passed all that morning
in trying to cast on a certain wooded reach. He had
caught the grass ; he had cracked his line like a
coach-whip, and lost a score of flies by so doing; and THE BLOW FALLS 65
had at last settled solemnly down to dig up with his
penknife a great furze-bush on the bank which appeared to his angry imagination to rise from behind
at every fly which he tried to throw.
'Aug. 12, 1874.
' Dear Mater,—
' Snap Hales arose, from his night's repose,
In the midst of the Cambrian mountains,   *
Where from cliff and from crag, over peat-moss and
The Tanat shepherds her fountains.
(Observe here the resemblance to Shelley.)
: He rolled in his tub, and tackled his grub,
He booted and hatted in haste,
Then said, " If you're wishing, boy Bill, to go fishing,
There isn't one moment to waste."
' He strode to the brook,.and with lordly look
Quoth, I Now, little fish, if you're in,
Let some grayling or trout just put up his snout
And swallow this minnow of tin."
' As if at his wish, up bounded a fish,
Gave one dubious sniffle or snuff,
Thought ' It's covered with paint, I'll be hooked if it
And the fellow who made it's a muff."
'Then Harold had tries with all sorts of flies,
Which were brilliant, gigantic, and rare,
But among them were none which resembled a "dun,"
So the fish were content with a stare.
p r
' To a tree by that brook many flies took their hook,
Many more were whipped off in the wind;
One fixed in the nose, several more in the clothes
Of that angler before and behind.
* Then his cast-line broke, and Harold spoke,
Right wrathful words spoke he,
" Very well! you may grin, but I'll just wade in
Where there's neither briar nor tree."
' With naked foot, without stocking or boot,
Right into the stream he strode—
With a splash and a splutter, with a murmur and a
And he frequently " Ah'd " and " Oh'd."
' Alas, as he tripped his bare feet slipped,
They slipped on those slimy stones,
And down he came (I forget the name
Of the very identical bones
'Upon which he sat) ; but he'd flies in his hat,
And as he went down the stream
The fish arose, and tugged at his clothes,
Until he began to scream.
' Round his hat's broad brim they began to swim,
And into his face did stare.
His mouth they eyed, they peeped inside,
Much wondering who lived there.
' Their victim cried, "In vain I've tried
To snare these fishes free.
Alas, for my sin, as they've got me in,
I fear thev'll swallow me." mmmmmi
' But, " Alack, this Jonah's a fourteen-stoner,"
'Twas thus that the fishes cried.
I If we gape till we split, there will still be a bit
Of the monster left outside."
' So Will landed him safe, our fisherman waif,
In safety he landed him ;
With gobble and munch he chawed up his lunch,
He was hungry after his swim.
' He has sworn he will never again endeavour
Those innocent fish to hurt,
For all he can get is thundering wet,
And any amount of dirt.
' Your truthful
' Frank.'
After this, perhaps, it is not .surprising that the
boys voted fishing very poor futrpand took to mountaineering instead. They had climbed Cader Idris
(a very pretty climb from its more difficult side) and
Snowdon, and were resting at a first-rate hotel not
far from Snowdon's foot, when they found the following letter on then breakfast-table from the Admiral:—
' Dear Frank,—As your mother is not very well,
I intend to bring her down to Dolgelly for a few days.
Take some nice quiet rooms where we can all be
lodged together at less expense than at an hotel.
' Your affect, uncle,
' Christopher Winthrop.
' P.S.—I have some important news to give you,
and should like you all to be at home when we arrive
by the 12.50 train to-morrow.'
F 2 68
Frank read the letter out to the rest at breakfast,
and then laid it quietly down by his plate.
' Snap,' he said, ' there is something wrong at
home. I can't make out what the Admiral is always
harping on economy for. Surely our mother ' (and
unconsciously there was a tone of pride in that ' our
mother ') ' can afford to go to any of these wretched
little hotels if she likes. I shan't take rooms. It's
all nonsense; I'm not going to have her murdered by
Welsh cooks, especially if she is ill.'
No one having any explanation of the Admiral's
letter to offer, or any objection to staying where they
were, the conversation dropped, but the boys were
restless and unhappy until the 12.50 train was due in.
When that train pulled up with a jerk at the
platform the three had already been waiting for it
half an hour, for their impatience had made them
early, and long habit had made the train late. As
soon as they could find their mother and Admiral
Chris the boys pounced upon them, and in the first
burst of eager welcome the cloud vanished. But it
reappeared again before the party reached the hotel,
and the Admiral was as nearly angry as he knew
how to be on finding that the rooms taken for himself and sister were, as usual, just the best in the
The dinner was a poor and spiritless affair, and
Snap noticed that the old gentleman, instead of lighting a cigar after leaving the table, took at once to a
' Why, sir,' remonstrated Snap, ' you are false to
your principles for the first time in my experience of THE BLOW FALLS
you; I thought that you always told us that the
cigar was a necessary appetiser, to be taken before the
solid comfort of the evening pipe.'
' Nonsense, my boy, nonsense, I never said that.
A cigar is a poor thing at best. Nothing like a pipe
for a sailor,' blurted out the Admiral, looking annoyed
at Snap's innocent speech, and glancing nervously in
Mrs. Winthrop's direction, while over her sweet face
a cloud passed as she too noticed for the first time
this little change in her brother-in-law's habits.
Coming up to her eldest boy's chair, and leaning
caressingly against him, the little mother turned
Frank's head towards her, so that she could look
down into his honest blue eyes.
I What is it, little mother ; do you want a kiss in
public ?   For shame, dear !' laughed Frank.
' Tell me, Frank,' she said, taking no notice of his
chaff, ' do you wahtvery much to go to Oxford ?'
'Right away, mother? No, thank you. I am
doing very well here.'
[ But when you leave Fernhall, Frank ? '
' Well, yes, mother! You wouldn't have me go to
Cambridge, because, you see, all my own friends are
at the Nose,' replied Frank.
'The Nose?' asked Mrs. Winthrop, looking
' Brazen Nose, dear, Brazen Nose!—the college, you
know, at which Dick and the Rector's son now
' But what should you say, Frank, if you could not
go either to Oxford or Cambridge ? ' persisted his
mother. 70
' Conundrum, mother. I give it up,' answered
the boy lazily; ' call me early, dear, to-morrow, and
ask me an easier one.'
Poor little lady, the tears came into her eyes as
the smile grew in his, and at last Frank saw it.
Jumping up and putting his arm round her, he
' Why, mother dear, what is it ? I was joking.
I'll go anywhere you want.'
'Yes, my boy, I know,' sobbed the little woman,
' but you can't go either to Oxford or Cambridge.
There, Chris, tell them the rest,' and, slipping out of
Frank's arms, she left the room.
After this beginning the whole story was soon
told. The Admiral's pipe had gone out, his collar
seemed to be choking him, but, now that he was fairly
cornered, he didn't flinch any longer.
' Yes !' he said, ' that is about the truth of it. We
are all ruined. Fairbury was sold three days after
you left it. That is why we sent you down here. We
wanted to spare Frank the wrench, and we didn't
want any of you punching the auctioneer's head, or
any nonsense of that sort. We have all got to work
now, lads, for our living.'
Here the old man rose and put his strong hands
on Frank's shoulders, and looked him full in the face.
' With God with them, my boys aren't afraid, are
they ?'
Frank gripped the old man's hand, and Billy
crept up close to him, while Snap, watching from a
distance, felt hurt to the heart that he had not lost
and was not privileged to suffer with them.
And yet ' Fairbury sold' seemed too much for
any of them to realise all' at once. Fairbury seemed
part and parcel of themselves. It was to them as its
shell to an oyster. The Winthrops (the whole race)
had been born in it, and it had grown as they grew.
After a while Towzer broke the silence.
' Then, uncle, where are we going home to ? he
' Home, my lad ! Well, I suppose we must make
a new home somewhere. It should not be difficult at
our age, should it, Frank ?' added the gallant old
man, as if he were the youngest of the young as well
as the bravest of the brave.
' But, uncle, won't mother's tenants pay their
rent ? ' asked Frank.
' My boy, your mother has no tenants,' said Mrs.
Winthrop, who had re-entered the room, ' and you'll
never be Squire of Fairbury, as you should have been.
It does seem hard.'
And so it did, and one young heart, of no kin to
hers, felt it almost as much as she did, and Snap
swore then, though it seemed a ludicrous thing even
to himself, that, if ever he could, he would put back
that sweet woman and her boy in their own old
But I must hurry over this part of my story.
Sorrow and tears are only valuable for the effects they
leave behind. Without the rain there would be no
corn; without misfortune and poverty there would be
very little effort and achievement in the world. But
it is more pleasant to dwell on the happy results than
on the causes. 7
When Frank had insisted on seeing his mother to
her bedroom, with a quaint assumption of authority
which she never resisted, the Admiral explained how
all their troubles had arisen. A friend to whom Mrs.
Winthrop had lent 5001. had repaid that sum to her
agent in Scotland. The agent (a lawyer), acting on.
the Admiral's instructions with regard to small sums
paid in the absence of Mrs. Winthrop on the Continent, had invested the 5001. in some bank shares.
The shares were bought, he believed, much under
their value. Alas, the public knew better than that
lawyer. The bank was an unlimited affair, and broke
soon after he had bought its shares, and Mrs. Winthrop became responsible for the payment of its debts
to the last penny which she possessed. Without any
fault of theirs, without warning, the Winthrops had to
give up their all. This is one of the dangers of civilised life, and, unfortunately, company promoters,
swindling bankers, and such like are not yet allowed
to hang for their sins.
Luckily, the Admiral was not involved in the
general ruin, and was as staunch and true as his kind
generally are in the time of trouble. ' My dear,' he
had said to his sister, when he had finished abusing
the bank, the bankers, the Government, and every
person or thing directly or indirectly connected with
banking, 'it was my fault for not looking after the
money myself. Nonsense ! of course it was. What
should a poor devil of a lawyer know about banking,
or law, or anything except bills ? However,' he added
more calmly, ' there is my little property and pension
for you and the boys, and, as for me, I dare say that I THE BLOW FALLS
can get a secretaryship to a club or something of that
sort in town.'
The Admiral had a hazy idea that the letters R.N.
behind his name were sufficient qualification and testi-
monial for any public office, from the directorship
of a guinea-pig company to the secretaryship of the
Royal Geographical Society.
' And now, lads,' he was saying an hour after Mrs.
Winthrop had retired for the night, 'think it all well
over. There is a stool in an office for one of you, if
you like. No place like the City for "making money
in; or, if you don't like that, Frank, we can find money
enough somehow to send you to the Bar. We have
employed attornies enough in our time, and of course
some of them would send you briefs enough to give
you a start' (would they? poor Admiral!); ' or there
is young Sumner's craze—cattle-ranching or farming
in the far West—a rough life, no doubt, but    Ah,
well, it's not for me to choose. I'm.not beginning life.
I wish I was—as a cowboy,' and the old man picked
up his candle and trotted off to bed with almost
enough fire in voice and eye to persuade you that he
was still young enough to begin another round with
That night the boys sat up on the edges of their
beds until long after midnight, talking things over.
Frank was very grave, and inclined to persuade his
younger brother to take to the office-stool.
' And you, Major ?' asked Towzer; « are you going
to the Bar ? '
' Well, no,' replied his brother,' I don't think that
I could stand being buried alive in those dim, musty
# 74
chambers yet, and I've no ambition to conquer Fortune with the jawbone of an ass.'
' Very well, then, if you won't set me an example,
let's drop London and talk cattle-ranching,' said
Towzer. ' Snap, you've got an old " Field " in your
bag, haven't you ? '
' Yes, here you are,' replied the person addressed,
producing an old copy of that one good paper from
his portmanteau.
'Look in the advertisement-sheet,' suggested
Frank, 'there is always something about ranching
' I Expedition to Spitzbergen," ' read Snap ; ' that
won't do. " Wanted another gun to join a party going
to the Zambesi." Ah, here you are, " Employment for
gentlemen's sons. The advertiser, who has been
settled at Oxloops, on the north fork of the Stinking
Water, for the last ten years, is prepared to receive
two or more sons of gentlemen upon his ranche, and
instruct them in the practical part of this most lucrative business, a business in which from 35 to 50 per
cent, can easily be made, whilst leading that open-air,
sportsmanlike life so dear to English country gentlemen. All home comforts found, and instruction given
by the advertiser in person.    Premium, 200Z." '
' There !' cried Towzer, ' what do you think of
that ? The 200Z. will be part of the start in life which
Uncle talked about, and after the first year we can just
buy cattle and start for ourselves. You'll come, of
course, Snap ?'
'Well, I don't know,' replied Snap; 'I've not got
the 200L in the first place, and in the second place, if THE BLOW FALLS 75
cattle-ranching pays so well, I don't see why this
cattle-king wants to bother himself with pupils for a
paltry 2002. a year; besides, I fancy Sumner said
that you could learn more as a cowboy than as
a pupil, and the cowboy is paid, while the pupil
pays for learning. I'll come if you go, but not as a
' I half suspect that Snap is right, Billy,' said
Frank; ' but, anyhow, we must talk this over with the
' Very well,' assented that young enthusiast; j but
I say, Major, wouldn't it be jolly if it was true ? Fifty
per cent., he says. Well, suppose the mother could
start us with 1,0002. apiece, that would be 1,0002. profit
between us the first year. Of course we would not
spend any of it. Clothes last for ever out there, and
food costs nothing. By adding what we made to
our capital we could make a fortune and buy back
Fairbury in no time.'
'Steady there, young 'un; optimism is a good
horse, but you are riding his tail off at the start, and
I expect that cattle-ranching wants almost as much
work and patience as other things,' replied his more
sober brother.
But Billy's enthusiasm had won the day in spite
of reason, and they all turned in to dream of life in the
Far West, and easily won fortunes.
Only one of them lay awake for long that night,
watching the clouds drift across the mountain, and, if
anyone had put his ear very close to Snap's pillow,
he might have heard him mutter, as he tossed in
his first restless slumbers,' Poor little mother! it has MS
almost broken her heart.   If we could only win it
back !    If we could only win it back !'
And yet Snap was no kith or kin of the Winthrops,
Fairbury was no home of his, nor the gentle lady of
whom he dreamed his mother.
J 77
This tale is written for boys, and if the writer knows
anything at all about them they like sunshine as much
as he does. That being so, we will skip, if you please, a
certain foggy "morning in Liverpool, when the heavy
sky over the Mersey seemed as full of gloom and rain
as men's eyes of tears and sorrow. The great lump in
the old Admiral's throat kept getting up into his
mouth in a most confusing way, and required a good
many glasses of something which he never drank to
keep it down. Poor Mrs. Winthrop, strong in a
"woman's courage to bear suffering, seemed to be thinking for everyone. There was no tear of her shedding
on her son's cheek, and her pretty lips were firm if
they were white. ' Don't forget, boys, your father's
last written words—' Bring up my boys as Christians
and gentlemen,' he wrote. You're out of my keeping
now, but, whatever your work, remember you are
And then the last signal to those aboard sounded,
and those who had only come to say ' good-bye'
hurried off the ship. A party of schoolboys who had
come to see a chum leave for the great North-West
struck up ' For he's a jolly good fellow' as the steamer 78
left her moorings, and, carried off their balance by the
heartiness of the chorus, the Admiral himself and
everyone not absolutely buried in pocket-handkerchiefs took up the refrain. The last the boys could
remember of England was that busy, dirty pier,
a crowd waving adieus, and the dear faces of mother
and uncle with a smile on them, in which hope and
love had for the moment got the better of sorrow.
And then they were out on the broad bosom of old
Ocean, with limitless stretches of green waves allround,
and all life in front of them. As the ship sped on, the
air seemed to grow clearer and more buoyant, the possibilities of the future greater, and success a certainty.
Everyone on board seemed full of feverish energy. If
they talked of speculations or business they talked in
millions, not in sober hundreds, and before they were
half across the Atlantic the boys were beginning to
almost despise those who stayed behind in slow and
sober England—all except Snap, at least, who annoyed
them all by his oft-repeated argument, ' If it is so
good over there, why do any of these fellows come
back ?'
The voyage itself was an uneventful one ; that is
to say, no one fell overboard, no shipwreck occurred,
and, thanks to the daily cricket match with a ball of
twine attached to fifty yards of string, the Atlantic
was crossed almost before our friends had time to
realise that they had left England.
On landing, the two Winthrops had to make their
way to the ranche of a Mr. Jonathan Brown in Kansas
County, to whom the Admiral had sent something like
3002. as premium for the two boys.   For this they ■Sl^^S
1 m
1 i
Il'-'i jr
were promised ' all home comforts, and a thoroughly
practical education in cattle-ranching and mixed
farming, together with the benefit of Mr. Brown's experience in purchasing a small place for themselves
at the end of their educational period.' Snap, not
having money to waste, or faith in' ranching and mixed
farming,' was to proceed further west and try to find
employment along the new line until he could obtain
day labourer's work on a ranche. The Admiral had
insisted on paying the railway fare for the three of
them, and, contrary to his custom, had paid first-class
fare, arguing that thus they might possibly make a
useful friend on the way, and at any rate sleep soft
and warm until the moment came for the final
So the boys entered upon their first overland stage
together, gazing with big eyes of wonder at the fairy
land which seemed to slip so noiselessly past their
carriage windows. It was almost as if the dry land
had taken the characteristics of the ocean, all was so
big, so boundless, around them. First there seemed
to come a belt of great timber near the sea; then they
passed through that and came into an ocean of yellow
corn, of which from the windows of the train they
could not see the shore. Most of the time the lads
sat in the smoking-car, not because they smoked, but
because the smokers were friendly and told such marvellous yarns and amused them.
On the third day there was an addition to the
little party in the smoking-saloon, a very ' high-toned'
person in a chimney-pot hat and gloves. This gentleman was a great talker, and, having tried in vain to
mam 80
get up an argument on the merits of some politician,
whom he called a ' leather-head' and a ' log-roller,'
with the big-bearded man or his two hard-bitten companions, who until then had shared the room with
the boys, the new-comer expectorated politely on
either side of Snap's feet, evidently enjoying the boy's
look of annoyance, and then opened fire on him
thus :
' Say! I guess you're a Britisher now, ain't you ?'
' I am, sir,' answered Snap with a good-tempered
' Getting pretty well starved out over there, I
reckon, by this time ?'
' Well, no! we haven't had to take to tobacco-
chewing to stop our hunger, yet,' replied Snap, with a
wink at Winthrop.
' Wal,' retorted the Yankee,' you look mighty lean,
fix it how you will. If it's all so bully in England, Why
do you come over here ?' This the Yankee seemed to
think a clincher, but Snap was ready for him.
'Well, you see, sir, we are only following the
examples of our forefathers, who came over and made
America, and founded the race you are so justly
proud of.'
' Founded the race! fiddlesticks ! The American
race, sir, just grew out of the illimitable prairie, started,
maybe, by a few of the best of every nation, but with
a character of its own, and I guess the whole universe
knows now that our Republic can lick creation, as it
licked you Britishers in 1781. Perhaps you'll tell me.
we didn't do that ? '.
By this time the other occupants of the carriage m^emmm
were all watching Snap Hales and the top-hatted one,
a curled and smooth-looking fellow (' oily,' perhaps,
would describe him better than smooth) of thirty or
so. The Yankee cattle-men were looking on with a
grin at seeing the English boy's ' leg pulled' as they
called it—the other two English boys in blank amazement at the quiet good-temper of fiery Snap Hales,
under an ordeal of chaff from a perfect stranger.
Could it be that the sight of that ugly little revolver,
which the stranger had exhibited more than once,
had cowed their chum already ? Whatever the
reason, Snap's unexpected answer came in his sweetest
' Oh no, I'll not deny that; it's historical, and,
besides, it served us right. We didn't recognise that
a big son we ought to have been proud of had
grown up.'
' Oh, then, you'll allow, we licked you at Sarytogy
and Yorktown ?'
' Yes, certainly.'
' And perhaps1 you'll allow that if you tried it on
again we'd lick you again ?' persisted poor Snap's
enemy, whilst the glance Snap gave Frank could
hardly keep that indignant Briton quiet on his seat.
' Yes, I'll allow that too, if we came to invade your
big country at home with a mere handful of men of
the same breed from over the seas.'
Somehow, Snap's quiet way was rousing the
American's temper, and he retorted hotly: ' That's
the way you talk, is it; and I tell you, and you'll have
to allow, that, man to man, an American citizen can
always whip a blooming Britisher.' 82
Snap gave an actual sigh of relief, or so it seemed
to the boys, and his eyes lit up with a glad light, that
those who know the breed don't always like to see.
He had done his duty; had kept his temper as long
as he could be expected to; and now he might fairly
follow his natural instincts. Still quite cool, although
his knees were almost knocking together with eagerness, which others might have mistaken for funk, the
boy took up the challenge.
' Are you a good specimen, sir, of an American
citizen ? ' The man looked puzzled, but replied, unabashed :
'Wal, as citizens come, I guess I'm a pretty
average sample.'
' I'm sorry for that, sir,' answered Snap, ' as I'm
only a very poor specimen of those Britishers of whom
you speak so politely; but I'll tell you what I'll do.
I never fired a revolver in my life, but you said just
now that Heenan had whipped all England with his
fists, and America could lick the old country at that
as she can at everything else.    Well
we stop at Bis-
march for twenty minutes soon, I see. It isn't time
for lunch yet, so, if you'll give your revolver to that
gentleman to hold, I'll fight you five rounds, if I can
last as long, and these gentlemen shall see fair play.
Only, if you lick me, mind I am not a typical Britisher.'
The American looked from one to another in an
uncomfortable, hesitating way, and then at the long
slight, bovish figure 1
)eiore nun.
rone too
far to draw back—he was three stone heavier than his
young adversary—so with a blasphemous oath he LEAVE LIVERPOOL 83
handed the derringer to his bearded fellow-countryman, adding :
' It don't seem hardly fair, but, if you will have
the starch taken out of you, you shall.'
As the pistol-holder left the smoking-room to put
the property with which he had been entrusted into
his valise he gave Frank Winthrop a sign to follow
him. When he and the boy were alone he turned
quietly round and said :
' Can your pal fight ? '
' Like a demon,' answered Frank; ' he was
nearly cock of our school, young as he was.'
' All right, then, I'll not interfere. He is a good
plucked one, but tell him to keep out of the man's
reach for the first round or two. I don't suppose he
has much science, but one blow from a man so much
bigger would about finish your friend.'
' I don't believe it,' answered Frank .hotly; but
the kindly cattle-man only smiled, and, putting his
hand on the boy's shoulder, led him back into the
In another ten minutes the warning-bell on the
engine began to toll, and the train ran through a
street of rough wooden shanties and pulled up just
outside the ' city ' (a score of houses sometimes make
a city out west), by a little prairie lake. In such a
city as Bismarch, in the early days of which I am
speaking, even half a dozen pistol shots would not
have attracted a policeman, principally because no
policemen existed. Sometimes a scoundrel became
too daring in his villainies even for such tolerant
people  as  the  citizens  of  Bismarch.     When   this
I 2
■■ 84
happened someone shot him, though probably he
shot several other people first. At the back of the
little group of shanties there used to be a long row of
palings about eight feet high. ' Hangman's palings '
they called these, because upon them, for want of
trees, the first vigilance committee had nine months
previously (the ' city' was only fifteen months old)
hanged its first batch of victims to the necessities of
civilised law and order. In such a city as this a quiet
spar would cause no sensation, and certainly would
not be interrupted, so Snap quickly stripped, as if he
was behind the old School chapel, and Mr. Rufus R.
Hackett, his opponent, did the same. Stripped of
gloves and hat, Hackett looked less at his ease than
his young enemy, and would probably be still waiting
to begin if the boy had not stepped in and caught
him on the point of the nose with a really straight
Now, the writer of this story has been hit very
frequently upon the nose. After years and years of
practice the sensation is still annoying in the extreme.
Your eyes fill with water as if you had inadvertently
bolted the mustard-pot; the constellations of heaven
are seen with alarming clearness; and if you are one
of the right sort you come back after that blow like a
racquet-ball from the walls of the court. If this is
the effect on a nose inured to the rough usage of five-
and-twenty years, what must you expect from the
owner of a delicately tip-tilted organ, which had been
held all its life high above the brutalities of a vulgar
world ?
Like a wounded buffalo, with his head down and LEAVE LIVERPOOL 85
blind with rage, the Yankee went for Snap, and, in
spite of a well-meant upper cut from that youngster,
managed to close with him, and by sheer weight bore
him to the ground. There Snap was helpless, and
before the big cattle-man could interfere the boy had
a couple of lumps on his face, which bore witness to
the good-will with which Mr. Hackett had used his
beringed fists. But for Snap himself, Mr. Rufus R.
H. would there and then have received a sound
hiding from the cattle-man, but, though somewhat
-unsteady on his feet, Snap pleaded that he might have
his man left to himself.
Again Hackett tried the rushing game, this time
only to meet the boy's left and then blunder over his
own legs on to his nose. As the fight went on, Snap
recovered from his heavy punishment. Quick as a
cat on his feet, he never again let the big man close
with him. Every time he stirred to strike, Snap's
left hand went out like an arrow from the bow, true
to its mark, on one or other of Hackett's eyes. Not
once did the boy use his right—that quick-countering
left was all that seemed necessary; and, though the
American was more game than his appearance would
have led his friends to believe, it was evident before
the end of the third round that he was at the boy's
mercy. From that moment Snap held his hand,
simply taking care of himself and getting out of his
enemy's way, and carefully abstaining from administering that brutal coup de grdce which a less generous
nature would have inflicted.
' Say, mate,' quoth one of the cowboys who was
Hackett's second, 'it's not much use foolin' around 86
here, is it ? You can't see the Britisher, and he don't
seem to cotton to hitting a blind man. Let's have a
drink and be friends.'
Almost before he could answer, Snap had the
fellow by the hand with a hearty English grip.
' You'll allow we're the same breed now, Mr.
Hackett, won't you?' he said. 'It wasn't really a
fair fight, you know, because I've learnt boxing, and
you haven't.'
In spite of a bumptiousness which acts on a
Britisher like a gadfly on a horse, your real American is a right good fellow at bottomland for the
rest of the two days during which Hackett and Snap
travelled together nothing could exceed the kindness
of the beaten man and his fellow-countrymen to the
three English lads.
'He isn't much account,' apologised one of the
cattle-men, 'just a school-teaching dude from the
Eastern States, I reckon; but you mustn't bear him
any malice for hitting you when you were down;
there ain't any Queensberry rules out here in a row,
and it's no good appealing to the referee on a Western
Snap had no intention of bearing malice, nor,
indeed, of fighting any more fights, either according
to Queensberry rules or the rough-and-tumble rules
of the prairie, if he could avoid it, though this one
fight was for him an exceedingly lucky event.
Soon after leaving the scene of his encounter the
train pulled up at Wapiti, and was met by a man in
the roughest of clothes, driving the rudest of carts.
He had come for the ' farm pups' from England, he ■ LEAVE LIVERPOOL 87
said, and if they weren't blamed quick with then
luggage he was not going to wait for them. An
offhand sort of person, thought Snap, but, no doubt,
when his master, Mr. Jonathan Brown, is near, he
will be a good deal more civil. It was not until
months later that Snap learnt that this dirty rough,
a common farm-labourer in all but his ignorance of
farming, was Mr. Jonathan Brown, ' professor of
ranching and mixed farming in all its branches.'
When Frank and Towzer had vanished out of
sight Snap turned from the window with a sigh, and
found the good-natured eyes of the bearded cattleman fixed inquiringly upon him.
' So you are not going to learn farming, my lad ?'
he inquired.
' Not with my friends, I can't afford it,' answered
' Don't think me rude, but what are you going
to do ?'
' Try to get work at Looloo, on the line, until I
can find out how to get paid work as a cowboy up
' Have you any money to keep you from starving
till you get work ?' asked the American.
' A little; but I mean to earn my food from the
start if I can.'
' Well, you've the right sort of grit, my lad,'
replied the cattle-man, ' and you're 2002. richer than
your friends now, poor as you are, for they have
thrown their premium clean away. Look here, my
name is Nares, and I own the Rosebud ranche in
Idaho.    I like the look of you, lad, and I'll give you ■■
labourer's wages if you can earn them, and grub
anyway, if you like to try.'
Like to try?' of course Snap liked to try.    It
was just a fortune to him, and he said so.
'But,' added his friend, 'when you write home
tell your friends not to fool away premiums, but to
give a lad enough to live on for the first six months,
whilst he is looking for work. You would, maybe,
have got nothing to do at Looloo for long enough.' 89
Winter is not, perhaps, the best time to introduce
a boy to the Far West, fresh from all the cosy comforts
of home—at least, if he is a boy of the ' cotton wool'
kind. To a boy like Snap the keen air was worth a
king's ransom; the forests of snow-laden pines through
which the train passed were full of mystery and
romance; his eyes ached at night from straining to
catch a glimpse of some great beast of the forest
amongst then tall stems, or at least a track on the
pure snow.
The day upon which Frank and Towzer left him
was too full of incident for him to find much time to
sorrow after his old friends. The train was passing
through a district in which great lakes—unfrozen as
yet, except just at the edges—lay amongst scattered
rocks and pine forests bent and twisted by the Arctic
cold and fierce storms of former winters. Inside the
cars all was warmth and comfort, although the gaiety
of the travellers was sobered down by the presence
amongst them of a poor fellow who had lost his wife
and two children in a railway accident a week before
this. He was now returning from the rough funeral
which had been accorded to them at the station of
mmm till
Boisfort. A strong, gaunt man, his days had been
spent as a Hudson Bay runner, and later on as a
watcher upon the railway, or manager of Chinese
labour. In spite of his harsh training, even his
strong nature had succumbed temporarily to the blow
from which he _ was now suffering. His lost family
seemed ever before his strained, wild eyes, and the
throbbing and rattle of the engine and its cars seemed
to beat into his brain and madden him. From time
to time he would spring to his feet, clap his hands
wildly to his head, and peer out into the snow. Then,
moaning, ' No, it's not them, it's not them,' he would
sink down again into his seat, limp and lifeless.
Snap had been watching the man, fearing he was
going mad, until his friend Nares touched him and
said, 'Don't keep your eyes on the poor chap like
that, maybe it fidgets him.'
Ashamed of what he at once considered an unintentional rudeness on his part, Snap withdrew into
another corner of the compartment, and had just
wandered off into day-dreams, in which Fairbury and
' the little mother' took a prominent place, when he
was recalled to himself by a scream and a shuddering
exclamation of horror which seemed to pass all along
the compartment. Looking up quickly, he had just
time to see a wild figure, hatless and grey-haired,
hurl itself from the footboard at the end of the cars
into the snow, and to hear a wild cry, ' I am coming,
chicks, I am coming.' In. spite of air-brakes and
patent communicators it was some minutes before the
train could be brought up all standing, and the passengers who hurried out to see after the unfortunate THE MANIAC 91
suicide had a good many hundred yards to go before
they reached the spot at which he threw himself from
the train, and when they reached the spot an expression of wonder spread over every face. Although the
embankment upon which he alighted was considerably
below the level of the train, although the train was
travelling at express speed for an American line, there
was no dead man to pick up from the snow, no man
even with fractured limbs or strained sinews, but just
the mark of a falling body, and then the tracks of a
running man leading straight away through the silent
snows to the lake-edge.
Close to the point at which the man had sprung
from the train was a labourer's shanty, just one of
those rough wooden structures which the Irish out
West set up alongside their labours on the line.
Round this, when Snap and Nares came up, was
gathered an excited little group of passengers and
' Are you sure Madge isn't in the house ?' someone
■asked of a little boy of seven, the Irishman's child.
' No, Madgy ain't in the house ; I heerd her hol-
lerin' just when the engine went by; hollerin' as if
someone had hurted her badly,' the child added.
' Where's your father, little man ? ' asked Nares,
pushing his way to the front.
' Down the line at the bridge, working; father
won't be back till night, and mother's gone this hour
or more to take him his dinner.'
Nares turned to the men round him, and, speaking
in low, quick tones, said:
' We must follow that poor devil; he is stark mad, 92
n j
and heaven only knows what he will do with the
' With the child ! why, you don't mean to say he
has got the child ? ' cried one.
Nares was busy arranging something with the
guard and didn't answer, but it was evident that the
men agreed with him, and were prepared to obey him.
' Then you'll hand over Mr. Hales to Wharton, -
my stockman at Rosebud,' Nares said to the guard,
' and tell him to leave a horse at the station shanty
for me.    I'll be in, most likely, to-morrow.'
I You know this labourer is a relation of Wharton's,
boss ?' asked one of the railway men.
' No ! is he ? ' was the reply.
' Yes, a nephew, they tell me, or something of that
sort. Wharton will be wanting to come and help you,
I guess.'
' Well, then, I'll tell you what to do. Don't say
anything to my man. Mr. Hales can stay here at the
cottage until I come back, and we'll come on together
to-morrow.    Good-bye.'
The guard shook hands, the crowd moved back to
the train, the bell tolled as the cars began to move off,
and in another minute Snap and Nares were left with
one labourer, named Bromley (who had volunteered
to help Nares); a solitary little group, with a crying
child and an. empty hut as the only signs of life
around them, except for those ominous tracks leading
away into the silence and the snow.
After some demur it was determined that Snap
should be one of the search-party, and that a message
should be left with the boy for his father, telling him
h- 1HE MANIAC 93
to follow on Nares' track as fast as possible with food
and blankets.
This done, the three started at a swinging
trot; first Nares, then Bromley, following the man's
tracks, and making the road easier for the boy
jogging along in the rear. From the moment of
starting the silence of the forest seemed to settle
down upon the three. No one spoke; no bird
whistled; the bushes stood stiff and frozen ; no animal
rustled through them; all the little brooks were
jagged with frost; the only sound was the regular
crunch, crunch of the snow beneath their feet, and the
laboured breathing of Bromley, who, though willing
enough, was not such a ' stayer' as either Nares or
Hales. It was late when the child was stolen, and they
had already been some two hours on the trail. The
tracks still led steadily on towards the Thompson
River, the day was fast darkening and Bromley
' beat.' Nares called a halt and proposed that they
should stop where they were until Wharton came up
with food and blankets, and then (prepared with
these necessaries) follow the madman by starlight.
Just as they were discussing this course of action
a rustling in the bush ahead drew Snap's attention.
' There he goes, there he goes,' cried the boy, dashing forward, as with a crash a tall grey form with
something in its arms rushed through the forest on
the other side of a broad dell by which the party were
sitting. If an indistinct shout of warning reached Snap
he neither understood nor heeded it. From time to
time he saw the hunted man ahead of him, and once
he distinctly saw the little girl in his arms.    Surely 94
he was gaining on him. At any rate he was leaving
his own companions far behind. Even the tough
cattleman's frame had no chance against the legs and
lungs of a schoolboy of eighteen.
How long Snap ran the madman in view he never
knew, but at last he lost him. Panting and tired, he
pulled up ; climbed first one knoll and then another,
and still no sight of the man or of his own comrades.
It was now so dark that he could hardly see the tracks
in the snow; the forest a few yards from him was
dim and indistinct, and every minute the darkness
deepened. He shouted. His shout seemed hardly
to travel further than his lips, it seemed so faint and
feeble. It was for all the world like standing by the
seashore and trying to cast a fly on the ocean. It fell
at his feet. Again he cried, and this time an answer
came, but such an answer ! First a laugh, and then
a wild eldritch screech. The boy was no coward, but
a cold chill crept up to the very roots of his hair, and
his heart froze and stood still at the sound. And, after
all, it was only Shnena, the night owl, calling to her
Being a level-headed and cool lad, Snap soon
realised that he had outrun his friends, and that they
had (thanks to the darkness) missed his trail and lost
him. He had often read of lonely nights in the forest,
and envied the heroes of the story, but somehow he
did not care about the reality as much as he had expected. The typical'leather-stocking,' he remembered,
always had matches, made a fire and sometimes a
bush shelter, lit a pipe, and ate pemmican. Now Snap
felt that, though extremely hot now, he would soon be 'THE MANIAC 95
bitterly cold, but he had no matches, did not know
how to build a shelter, had no pemmican, and did not
smoke.    As for that buffalo robe, of which so much is
always made in dear old Fenimore Cooper's books,
there might be one within a few miles, but if so its
four-footed owner was probably still wearing it.   Snap
remembered  that  a trapper  who had no   matches
rubbed bits of wood together until he had got a light
' by friction.    This was a happy thought, and, taking
out his knife, he carefully cut a couple of pieces of dry
pine from a stump hard by, and then collected as big
a bundle as possible of twigs and dead wood, which
he deposited on a spot previously cleared of snow.
Then he rubbed the wood, and rubbed the wood, and
continued to rub the wood, but nothing came of it.
Presently he tried a new piece ; rub, rub, rub, he went,
■ and a large drop of perspiration dropped off the tip of
his nose with a little splash quite audible in the intense
stillness.  Then he gave it up, voted Fenimore Cooper
a fraud, or at any rate came to the conclusion that his
receipts for kindling fire were not sufficiently explicit.
For a time he sat still and listened.    He has confided to a friend since that he could ' hear the silence.'
Certainly he could hear nothing else, unless it were the
sudden creaking of some old tree's bough weighted
with   too   much   snow.     And   then   his   thoughts
went after the madman.   A thought struck him, and
even Snap never fancied that it was the cold alone
which made his knees knock together and his teeth
rattle so.  What if, now that he was alone, the madman
should turn the tables and hunt him ?    Was not that
him he saw sneaking over the snow in the dim light SNAP
of the rising moon ? Snap sprang to his feet with a
crackle, accounted for by the fact that part of his
clothing" had frozen to the log on which he had been
sitting, and had elected to remain ther§. Snap put
his hand ruefully behind him. It was very cold even
with clothes, it would be colder without! However,
as he rose the shadow moved rapidly away, taking
the semblance of a dog to Snap's eyes as it went. By-
and-by a long blood-curdling howl told the boy that
the shadow he had seen was sitting somewhere not
far off, complaining to the moon that the plump
English lad wasn't half dead yet, and looked too big
for one poor hungry wolf to tackle all alone. ' Con:
found these forests,' thought Snap,' and all the brutes
in them, their voices alone are enough to frighten a
fellow,' and then he began to wonder if he would soon
go to sleep and never wake any more, and hoped, if
so, that Nares would find him and send a message
home to Fairbury.
At any rate the boy thought, before going to sleep
for the last time, he would keep up the practice
he had observed all his life, and for a few minutes the
hoary pine-trees and the cold, distant stars looked
down on an English boy bending his knees to the only
power in Heaven or earth to which it is no shame for
the bravest and proudest to bend. Like a son to a
father he prayed, just asking for what he wanted, and
pretty confident that, if it would not be a bad thing
for him, he would get it. When he rose to his feet
the forest seemed to have put on a more friendly air,
the trees didn't look so rigid and funereal, the stars
were not so far off.   Who knows, perhaps Nature, THE MANIAC 97
God's creation, had also heard the boy's prayer to their
common Creator.
For hours and hours, it seemed to him, Snap
tramped up and down, like a sentry on his beat,
beneath the pine at whose foot lay his unlit fire.
After a while he began to dream as he walked, for
surely it was a dream ! Somewhere not far off from
him he could hear a human voice, and hear it moreover so distinctly that the words of the song it sang
came clearly to his ears. Snap shook himself and
pinched himself violently to be sure he was awake,
and then stood still again to listen. Yes, there was
no mistake at all about it.
Hush-a-by, baby, on the tree-top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock,
crooned the voice, and its effect in the stillness of the
night was to frighten Snap more even than Shnena
or the wolf. Creeping in the direction from which
the sound came, so stealthily that he did not even
hear himself move, Snap got at last to a point from
which he could see the strange singer. Crouching
under a log sat the wretched lunatic, naked to his
waist, his grey hair hanging in elf-locks over his eyes,
and in his arms a bundle, wrapped round in his own
coat and shirt, which the poor fellow rocked as a
woman rocks her child, singing the while a snatch of
a song which he had heard in happier days sung to
his own little ones. There were tears in Snap's eyes
'as he looked, and he longed to go to the man's help,
but he dared not. . Alone he would have"no strength
to compel the lunatic to do what was reasonable, and
to talk to him would be idle.    At that moment the
H 98
man looked up and sat listening like a wild beast
who hears the hounds on his scent. ' They want to
take you too, my darling,' he whispered,. and Snap
could hear every word as if it had been yelled into
his ears, ' but they shan't, the devils! they shan't;
we'll die together first! ' Muttering and glancing
back, the man crawled on hands and knees into the
scrub and was gone. Snap rubbed his eyes; it seemed'
like a dream, so noiselessly did the madman creep
away and disappear. As he stood, still staring at the
place, Snap heard a bough crack behind him, then
another and another, and the tread of men approaching in the snow. In another minute Nares had the
boy by the hand, the weary night-watch was over,
and a match inserted amongst the twigs sent up a
bright flame as cheering as the voice of his friends.
Having partially thawed, and eaten as much as he
could, Snap told Nares and his two companions what
he had just seen, and as morning was just breaking,
and active exercise seemed the boy's best chance of
ever getting warm again, the four once more took up
the trail.
Stooping down over the tracks made by the
maniac as he crawled into the scrub, Nares uttered
an ejaculation of horror. ' Poor wretch,' he said,
' look at that,' and he pointed to a huge track, which
looked half human, half animal, in its monstrous
shapelessness. ' It's his hand, frost-bitten and as big
as your head,' said Bromley; 'he can't go much
further, I'm thinking.' But he did, and it was full
day when the pursuers came out upon a bit of- prairie
and saw in front of them the broad flooded waters of
the Thompson River, and a short distance ahead of
them a miserable hunted man still staggering on with
his load. .As he saw him the child's father uttered
a cry and dashed to the front. The madman heard
it, looked back, and fled wildly towards the river.
Madness uses up the life and strength rapidly, no
doubt, but the wasting flame burns fiercely while it
lasts, and this last effort of the' frost-bitten dying
man seemed likely to make pursuit hopeless. ' He is
going for the river, heaven help the child!' gasped
Nares. About four hundred yards before reaching
the river, a broad but slow-running watercourse ran
parallel to the Thompson. This was frozen over
owing to its shallowness and the sluggishness of its
waters. Even the Thompson had a thin fringe of ice
on its edges. Without pausing, the madman dashed
on to the ice of the stream, which swayed and broke
beneath his weight. Crash, crash, he went through,
first here, then there, but somehow, though the whole
surface of the ice rocked, he struggled on hands and
knees from one hole to the other, and reached the
farther side in safety. But his troubles in crossing
had given his pursuers^ time to close upon him, and
as he gained the shore Snap saw the child's father
draw a revolver with a curse and fire at his child's
would-be murderer, for that the madman meant to
plunge into the Thompson with his victim, and so elude
his pursuers, seemed now beyond a doubt. For some
reason, for which he could not account, Snap's sympathies were with the wretched madman, and without
pausing to think he knocked up the Irishman's
revolver before he could fire a second shot, and dashed
H 2 100
on to the weak and broken ice. 'I never gave it
time to let me in,' Snap explained afterwards, and,
indeed, with his blood up as it had never been before,
and strong with years of Fernhall training, the boy
seemed to skim across the ice like a bird.
And now they were on the flat together, with the
strong black river ahead. Death the penalty, the
child's life the prize. If Snap's friends wished to,
they could not get to him soon enough to save him,
had the madman turned. Luckily for Snap, the
hunted man never looked behind him, but naked,
frost-bitten, bleeding, struggled on for his terrible
goal. If Fernhall boys could have seen Snap then
they would have remembered how that young face,
white and set, once struggled through a Loamshire
team just at the end of a match, and won the day for
Fernhall. Football, unconsciously, was perhaps what
the lad was thinking of at the moment, as step by
step he gained on his prey, and yard by yard the
black river drew nearer. At last it was but thirty
yards away, and with a final effort Snap dashed in.
' Take 'em low,' the Fernhall captain had said in old
days, ' never above the waist, Snap,' and Snap remembered the words now. With a rush he was
alongside, down went his head with a scream that he
couldn't repress, his long arms wrapped round the
madman's knees, and pursued and pursuer rolled
headlong to the ground on the very edge of the angry
flood. How long they struggled there Snap didn't
know. It was worse than any ' maul in goal' in old
days, but, Hire the bull-dog of his land, once he had
his grip, Snap would only loose with life.    In vain ,JP%i
the madman bit and struck, rolling over and over,
shrieking with rage and fear. Hiding his head as
much as possible, Snap held on, getting comparatively
very few serious injuries, before strong hands dragged
his opponent down, and as prairie and river and sky
seemed to fade away a kindly voice said ' Thank God,
the boy's all right.'
When Snap -recovered from the swoon which
fatigue and hunger, cold and blows, had ended in, he
found himself rolled in blankets, under just such a
shelter as twelve hours ago he- had longed to make
for himself; a little yellow-haired girl was sleeping
near him, and a huge fire throwing its rosy gleams on
both, and on the kindly, bearded face of Nares, the
cattleman, busy over a kettle of soup. The unfortunate cause of all their trouble was happier even than
Snap. When Nares and Bromley, and the father of
the little girl, had come up and overpowered him
and released Snap, life seemed almost to leave the
poor maniac. Blood was streaming from his side
where the first revolver bullet had entered; his hands
were swollen and dead to all feeling; his body was
frost-bitten, but his mind was happily a blank; and
before they could make a fire or do anything for his
comfort, a more merciful Friend than they looked
down and took the poor fellow to meet ' his chicks'
in a kingdom where frost-bite and railway accidents
are unknown. h<HSr-;a=--^~
THAT baking powder
'Well, boss, we did think as -you'd took root in
Chicago, or mebbe that the Armours had put you
through their pork-making machine.'
' Well, no, not quite that, Dick, you old sinner.
How are the boys ?' replied Nares to a grey-headed old
man, who was sitting complacently on the- driver's
seat of a cart, and watching ' the boss' put his own
luggage on board. There are no porters and no
servants, even for a big cattle-man, out west.
' How air the boys, you said. Well, right smart
and active at meal-times, thank ye, and pretty slack
at any other. But what's that, anyway, that you're
bringing along ?' and the old man's eyes rested with a
look of no little disgust on the English-dressed and
(to Western eyes) soft-looking lad, Snap Hales.
' That!' replied the boss, ' that is just—well, let
me see^ a colt I want you to break; a child I want
you to nurse, Dick,' replied Nares.
' Nuss ? I'll nuss him,' growled the old man. ' We
don't want no loafers up at Rosebud.'
Poor Snap coloured up to his eyes, but felt more
comfortable as Nares gave him a wink and a hand-up
into the cart. mmmmmmwm
' Now then, air you fixed behind ?' cried Dick.
'We are,' replied Nares.
' Then git,' yelled his foreman, bringing his whip
across his horses' flanks, and for the next five minutes
Snap and Nares, and the boxes, bags, &c, of each of
them, bounded about like parched peas in a pan.
As the old man gradually steadied his horses to a
trot, he turned round with a grin.
' That's pretty well sorted you, I reckon,' said he,
' and may be took the first coat off your tender-foot's
Luckily for the tender-foot (our friend Snap), it is
one of the laws of nature that, given a lot of objects
of various weights shaken up together, the lightest
invariably comes to the top. During the last five
minutes he had varied his seat frequently from the
uncompromising corner of a trunk to the yielding and
comfortable person of the burly Nares, from whose
waistcoat (being of a pliant and springy character)
the next bump would have removed him to a seat
upon the prairie.   Luckily, that bump never came.
Mile after mile of prairie rolled by, yellow where
the snow (very thin hereabouts) left it uncovered, and
apparently too sterile to feed a goat. Further on it
improved, and great tufts of golden bunch grass showed
through the thin sprinkling of snow, and here and there
a sage-hen fluttered up or a jack rabbit scuttled away.
About noon our friends crossed a river, on the
further side of which were the feeding-lands of Nares's
ranche. Some miles again from the river was a range
of low rolling hills and broken lands, the shelter
provided by Nature for the beasts of the field against SNAP
blizzards and snowstorms. Nares used to boast his
ranche had every advantage obtainable in America—
plenty of water, river-lands to cut hay upon for winter
feed, hills and broken land for shelter in storm-time,
and a railway handy to take- produce to market.
There are very few such ranches nowadays in
America, as even its great prairies are not boundless—
a fact much overlooked by its go-ahead citizens.
'I reckon the cows sold pretty well, boss, this
year,' suggested the old man when he had unhitched
the team and kindled a bit of a fire for lunch.
' Yes, they sold well, Wharton, and none of them
got damaged on the way down. There won't be much
to do on the ranche now till spring,' added Nares.
' Guess that's why you're bringing an extra hand
along,' snapped the old man. ' Why ! Jeehoshaphat!
what's the matter with you now ?' he shouted.
Poor Snap had tried first one side of the fire, then
the other, with an equal want of success. On one side
the smoke nearly choked and blinded him, on the
other worse things awaited him. A blanket, which just
accommodated ' the boss ' and Wharton, was stretched
on the windward side of the fire. With a weary sigh
Snap threw himself down beside it. With a yell of
pain he bounded up again, holding first one foot, then
the other, in the air, and all the time applying his
hands sorrowfully to the softest part of his person.
The old foreman had laid a trap for the tender-foot,
and he had sat upon it, the ' it' being a bed of what
the natives call prickly pears, a peculiarly vicious
kind of cactus about the size of a small potato, which
unobserved spreads all over the ground, and sends its 'THAT  BAKING POWDER' 105
long thin spines through everything which presses
upon them. When, at last, the good-natured Nares
understood his friend's sorrows, and had managed to
stop laughing, he gave Snap a place on the blanket,
and, turning him over on his face, proceeded tenderly
to pluck him. It is no fun to be converted at a
moment's notice into a well-filled pincushion.
At lunch Nares told old Wharton the story of the
maniac-hunt recorded in the last chapter. As he
told the story of little Madge's danger and salvation
Wharton's eyes wandered from ' the boss' to the boy
beside him. At last, when the story was over, he
sighed softly ' Jee-hosh-a-phat.' Then he rolled his
quid and expectorated. Then he got up and held out
his great fist to Snap with these words, ' Say! were
them pears prickly ? Well, never mind. I guess you
needn't sit on no more now. I'm a-gwine to be your
" nuss," Britisher;' and it is only fair to add, the old
man kept his word.
An hour or two afterwards Nares and Snap got
out at Rosebud, and our hero entered his new home,
a big one-storied house built of rough logs dovetailed
into each other, the cracks filled up with moss and
covered over with clay. Indoors, the floor was covered
with skins. On the walls were antlers of deer and
wapiti and mountain sheep, from which hung half a
dozen rifles, hunting-'knives, &c. There was a bench
or two about the place, a big table, at one end a huge
open stove, and along the walls were ranged a dozen
shelves or bunks not unlike those you see on board
ship. A small room opened off from the main apartment, and in this Nares himself slept and kept his
J 106
accounts. Outside were some few smaller buildings—
a cook-house, a forge, and so on. A huge piece of land
enclosed with rough timber fencing ran alongside the
house. This was a corral for horses or weak cattle.
A smaller corral for horses likely to be wanted at a
short notice also adjoined the ranche.
' Now, Snap,' said Nares, ' this is Rosebud. Rosy
enough for a worker, what we call a " rustler " out
here, but not a bed of roses for a loafer. There's
your bunk when you are up here,, but I expect you'll
be wanted out on the feeding-grounds most of your
time. Anyhow, for the first day or two you can
help me with the books, and try your hand at the
So Snap tried his hand at bread-making and
failed; flour and water won't make bread of themselves, and, even when you have made your dough, if
you don't flour your hands the compound will stick to
them. However, old Wharton set the boy right and
gave him the soup to look after.
' Put some salt in it,' said the old ehap, ' you'll
find it in a tin up there,' pointing to a shelf over his
head. ' You'd better just taste it to see as you get it
right.  The boys don't like no fooling with their broth.'
So Snap got down the tin and put 'a couple of
spoonfuls into the broth and tasted it; two more, and
tasted again; and still the compound did not seem
salt enough.
'I say, Wharton,' said Snap, after tasting the
salt itself, ' this is very weak salt of yours.'
' Guess it is,' replied the old man, ' table-salt the
boss calls it; I call it jist rubbish.    But never mind, 'THAT BAKING POWDER' 107
shove in the lot if it don't taste strong enough.' So
in it went, and Snap stirred vigorously, added some
onions, and himself looked forward to a share of his
chef d'ozuvre.
By-and-by the ' boys ' trooped in, tall, bronzed
fellows in great wideawake hats, loose shirts, and
huge spurs. Each brought his saddle with him and
chucked it into a corner as he entered. ' How do,
boss ? ' they remarked ; ' How do, Wharton ? ' and
then most of them added, staring at Snap, 'Why,
who the deuce are you anyway?' This question
having been satisfactorily answered, all sat down to
food, and Snap thought he had never seen such a
rapid and wholesale consumption of meat and drink
in his life.
' Where are the rest of the boys ?' asked Nares of
one of the three who had come in.
' Gone after a band of cattle which we found after
you left, boss. I guess we'll have 'em in to-morrow.
There are several want branding : one old scrub bull
in partickler.'
' Yes,' added another, ' and I'm thinking he'll go
on wanting for some time yet. You can't hold him
with any ropes on this ranche.'
Gradually even the cowboys' appetites seemed
satisfied, and one by one they stretched themselves
out on rugs by the fire, and puffed away silently at
their pipes. They were long thin men for the most
part, and tightly belted at the waist.
' Mighty good soup that to-day,' said one.
' Glad you liked it,' said Snap proudly ; ' I made
that.    I don't think it was bad for a first attempt.' T
I !
1 ii 111 i
1 :#ffi   '   *
III   i
1 Irti        '■
If   1
' Satisfying, anyhow,' said Nares, ' I never felt so
full before.'
' Yes, I'm full up,' added someone else, and then
silence again ensued for a space. Presently there
was a crack and the tinkle of falling brass, and a
button flew on to the hearth.
' Bless me,' cried old Dick Wharton, ' if I don't
feel as if I was getting fuller every minute.' This
seemed to be the general feeling; even Snap shared it.
' Why, what in thunder's the matter ?' cried- Frank
Atkins, leanest and hardest of hard riders. ' This yere
belt has gone round me with six holes to spare these
two years, and now it won't meet by an inch.'
It certainly was odd. They'had sat down like
Pharaoh's lean cattle, they had risen like his fat
cattle, and they had gone on ' rising ' ever since, until
now they were all portly as aldermen. Suddenly a
light dawned upon Wharton.
' Say, boy, what did you put in that broth ?'
' Nothing,' said Snap, ' except salt and onions.'
' Where did you get that salt ?'
' Why, out of the tin over your head,' said Snap.
' This 'un, eh ? ' inquired the old man, holding up
a small round tin.
' Yes, that's it.'
'Wal,' said the old man slowly, 'I've heerd of
Houses of Parliament being blowed up by dynamite,
but I never heerd tell of a ranche being bust up by
Borwick's baking-powder afore!' 109
That first night Snap was glad enough to get to bed.
Not that he was sleepy; on the contrary, tired out as
he was, he was preternaturally wideawake. Everything was so new to him, and, besides, that horrible
Borwick was still an unquiet spirit within him. The
cowboys of the North-West are probably the only
possible rivals to the ostrich in the matter of digestion still extant. Like the ostrich, they could
safely dine on door-nails and sup on | soda-water
bottles, so that they had already forgotten Borwick
and were snoring peacefully. Snap wished he could
imitate them. The bed in which he found himself
combined all the advantages of a bed and a thermometer. Founded upon pine boards, it consisted of five
pahs of blankets. In summer heat you slept on one
blanket out of doors. In temperate weather you slept
under one indoors. As it grew colder the number of
blankets above you increased, until four above (with
a buffalo-robe) and one below indicated blizzards and
frostbite on the prairie.
It seemed to Snap that just as he was going off to
sleep someone struck a match, lit a pipe, and then
began lighting the fire.    This was old Wharton, but w
he let the boy lie (being a charitable old soul) until
he roused him up with :
' Now, lazybones, you can wash in the crik outside
if you've a mind to, only breakfast is ready.'
Snap hopped out of his blankets and ran down to
the crik, although no one else seemed to care about
it, and so biting was the cold that he felt it would have.
, been worth his last dollar to be allowed to take a hand at
the wood-chopping going on outside. The worst of it
was that he couldn't chop ' worth a cent,' as big Frank
Atkins informed him, and indeed, although he hit the
log all over and with every part of the axe, it seemed
even to Snap that he made very small progress. The
sense of his own uselessness was getting absolutely
oppressive to the boy as it was borne in upon him
more and more that even cooking, chopping, and such
like, want learning, and don't come naturally to any
of us.
Breakfast was a short ceremony—bacon and jam
—' trapper's jam,' that is, made from bacon grease
and a spoonful of brown sugar, washed down with a
huge draught of weak tea. After this everyone
lit his pipe, and old Wharton, turning to Snap,
' You may as well go along with the boys to meet
Tony and the rest with them scrub cattle. They're a
bit short-handed, and I can't go myself; the boss will
be making things hum here up at the ranche for the
next day or two.'
A few minutes later Atkins came up with a dun-
coloured pony, ' a buckskin ' he called it.
' Theer,' said Wharton, ' if I'm your nuss, Shaver,
that theer's your cradle; and you'd better get in right
There was a grin on everyone's face, but Snap,
though afraid of being laughed at, was afraid of
nothing else, and had ridden a little since he was a
very small boy, so he' climbed unhesitatingly into the
great cowboy saddle. As he did so his amiable
' Cradle' laid back her ears, and tried to get hold of his
toe in her teeth. Being frustrated in this, she curled
herself into a hoop, and began to ' reverse' as the
waltzers call it. Then she stood still and waited.
Atkins threw himself into the saddle and cracked his
whip, Snap touched his mare with the spurs, and then
the Cradle began what Wharton called 'rocking,' i.e.
bucking, in a way that only prairie-reared horses
understand. To his credit be it said, Snap sat tight
for the first ' buck,' at the second he went up into very
high latitudes with his legs almost round his horse's
neck, at the third he ' came south,' reposing gracefully on the buckskin's quarters like a costermonger
on his 'moke,' while at the fourth he sat promptly
down upon the prairie, horn whence he watched ' that
cayouse ' finish her performance by herself. When
Atkins and Wharton and the rest had finished laush-
ing, which took longer than finishing breakfast, they
picked up the crest-fallen Snap and put. him upon a
quieter beast.
'That's one of yourn too,' laughed Wharton;
' you'd better have the six buckskins for your string,
my lad, but I'd keep old White-foot just for Sundays
or any time as you feel lonesome and want amusement.' 112
Snap didn't reply, but thought to himself that if
indeed the six horses in the little corral were set aside
for his use, it should not be long before he was master
of the good-looking, bad-tempered brute which had
just grassed him so ignominiously.
' Not hurted much, are you, young 'un ?' asked
' That's right, let's get,' and, so saying, Atkins led
off at a canter, Snap's new steed following at a gait
easy as a rocking-chair.
The early morning is always the very best of the
day, even in our begrimed and foggy English cities ;
on the plains of the North-West the morning ah is as
exhilarating as champagne. Every living thing feels
and acknowledges the influence of the young day.
Horses toss their heads and strain their strong
muscles in a glorious ' breather' without encouragement from the rider, while the rider feels his blood
racing through his veins, his heart beating, his brain
quick and clear, and the whole man full of unconscious
I thankfulness to God for the delight of merely living.
All that day Atkins and Snap rode towards and
through the foot-hills, and at night camped where
someone had evidently camped not long ago. Being
handy and anxious to learn, Snap soon made friends
with his companion, found the poles on which the last
wanderers had hung a blanket in lieu of a tent, found
some wood for firing, fetched the water for the billy,
and learned how to hobble the horses.
That night he felt, as he watched the stars through
the tops of the big bull-pines, he had really begun life
out west, and might after all learn to hold his own
with the strong men round him. It was an improvement on the night before, when everything seemed
very hopeless and strange.
Early on the second morning, Atkins and Snap
heard a distant roaring in the hills. Snap's thoughts
at once reverted to bears and suchlike beasts, and
foolishly he gave utterance to his thoughts. Atkins
laughed heartily.
' No, no, them's the cows a-coming. Didn't you
know as we were near them last night ? '
' Not I,' said Snap; ' how did you know ? '
' 1 heerd 'em just afore we camped, but I knew if
we'd kep' on we shouldn't have struck 'em till after
dark, so I guessed we'd just camp by ourselves.'
By-and-by the lowing of the beasts, which the
winding glens and resounding woods had so magnified
and distorted to Snap's ears, came quite close, and
Atkins told him to come ' well off the track, in here
among the bull-pines, and light down, hold your horse,
and for goodness' sake hold your jaw, for if old Tony
hears you speak he'U not stop swearing tiU he has
cussed all the breath out of his body.' So Snap ' lit
down' and held his tongue, and presently he started
as he found a pair of big brown ej^es fastened on him
from the bush by his side. Then there was a little
frightened snort, the first sound he had heard; a
beast's tail was whisked in the air, and with a plunge
half a dozen, mostly yearlings, crashed past him
parallel to the trail. It took nearly half an hour for
the whole band, nearly sixty all told, to straggle past,
feeding as they went, and it entered into Snap's mind
i rw^^*
li hi
to wonder how anyone ever heard or saw a real wild
beast if these half-tame parti-coloured oxen could go
so quietly through brush and timber.
Last of all came the drivers ; three cowboys they
would have been called, though Snap thought the
term ' boy' fitted them as badly as ' cow ' fitted at
least one-half of the stock in front of them. Still, on
a cattle range all bulls, however old and fierce, are
' cows ' to the end of their days, and all those who deal
with them ' boys,' no matter how grey their hah.
That night Snap had his first turn of what he
considered ' active service,' being told off to keep the
cattle together for the first half of the night, another
man lending him a hand to prevent accidents.
Although ordered so peremptorily to keep his mouth
shut on the trail, lest the sound of a strange voice
should scare the beasts, he was now told that he had
better sing Or shout from time to time, letting the
beasts hear his voice, the human voice seeming to
inspire them with a certain amount of confidence.
Snap found it necessary to sing or do something
of that sort for other reasons as he led his horse about
. or rode him slowly on his solitary rounds. After such
a day as he had had his eyes were more inclined to
sleep than watch, and he envied the drowsy cattle as
one by one they lay down with a contented ' ouf'
upon the prairie. At last all the great shadows had
sunk down to rest, and all you could see in the starlight was an indistinct dark mass upon the prairie.
From time to time a shadow would appear a hundred
yards or so outside the group, moving silently and
slowly away.    Quick as thought, when this occurred,
another shadow (Snap's companion) would dash from
his post and turn back the truant, feeding away from
his companions, to the rest he had deserted. Snap
soon learnt the game, and was getting very interested
in it, when suddenly he noticed all the shadows move
then rise to their feet, and, before even his galloping
companion in the night-watch could get near them,
they were dashing in wild, headlong flight into the
'Wake the boys and follow,'roared his companion,
vanishing into the darkness after the flying beasts,
and like a dream herd and herdsmen were gone, and
Snap left alone. The ' boys' didn't need much
waking. By the time Snap was at the camp they
were up, and in an incredibly short time their horses
were caught and saddled, and they were galloping
after the panic-stricken beasts.
' What stampeded them, rot them ? ' asked Atkins
as he tightened his girths.
' I don't know; they were still as stones one
moment and gone the next,' answered Snap.
' Bar ! I reckon,' growled another cowboy; ' there
always are bar about this forsaken camp.'
' You stay here till we come back, and if we aren't
back by to-morrow noon make tracks for Rosebud,'
shouted Atkins as he galloped off, leaving Snap alone
in camp without an idea where Rosebud was or how
he was ever going to get there.
However, as there was nothing to be done, he had
a look first to see if his horse was all right, and then,
being reassured upon that point, kicked the embers of
the camp fire into a blaze, put the frying-pan, with 116
I';, if-
some cold bacon in it, left over from supper, somewhere handy for breakfast, and lay down in his rugs.
In five minutes he had forgotten his loneliness, and
was in as sweet a sleep as innocence and hard work
ever won for a weary mortal. It was almost dawn
when he woke with a start, hearing his buckskin
snorting and crashing about in the bushes close to
him. As he jumped to his feet he heard the frying-
pan rattle, and as he glanced in that direction he saw
a huge, heavy beast slope off into the forest. I say
' slope ' advisedly, although it is slang. What a bear
does, I suppose, is to gallop, but that word gives you
an idea of great speed, which would be wrong. If I
had said ' canter,' the graceful pace of a lady's hack
is at once conjured up before yOur mind's eye, and
there is very little grace in Bruin's movements. JEe
doesn't trot, and he only ' shuffles' when he is
walking. If I had said ' roll,' which in some degree
describes his action,' the word would not have necessarily implied the use of feet at all, so I must stick,
please, to ' slope,' as being the best word to express
the smooth, quiet way which a bear has of conveying himself with a certain rapidity out of harm's
The light was very dim, as the time was tha
mysterious season between midnight and dawn,
and Snap knew very little about rifles, but, being
thoroughly English, without counting the cost he
snatched up a Winchester repeating rifle, and proceeded
to ' pump lead' at the vanishing bear as long as he
could see him. Then all was still again, and remained
so until two cheeky little ' robber-birds,' in coats of AFTER SCRUB  CATTLE
grey and black, came hopping round the dead embers
with then heads on one side, complaining noisily that
the upturned frying-pan was quite empty. Snap, too,
was sorry for this, and wished that he had interrupted
Bruin a little earlier in his midnight pilfering.
When the dawn had fully come, and the great red
sun was climbing up into the heavens, the boy went
to look at the bear's tracks. Later on, when he had
learnt some of the secrets of wood-craft, those tracks
would have been plain enough to him—a story written
in large print, which he could easily read from his
saddle. Now, groping about with his nose almost on
the ground, he could not make much of them, and
hardly knew the bear's tracks from his pony's. At
last (and not very far from the camp fire) Snap came
up'on a great splash of blood. Even he (inexperienced
though he was) understood this, and rightly concluded
that the bear was hit. ' A deuced lucky fluke,' he
said to himself honestly enough, as he went back to
the fireside, his eyes brightening, as far away on the
plain outside the clump of bull-pines he saw two of
the cowboys cantering towards him. They were soon
alongside and listened to his story, after which they
went to look at the tracks.
' Wal,' said one, ' you've got the right sort o' grit,
lad, but it's tarnation lucky for you that that bar as
you shot at warn't the critter as stampeded them
cows last night.'
' Why ? ' asked Snap.
' Why ? wal,' replied the cowboy, ' them tracks is
the tracks of a black bar, and they ain't of no account. it
The bar as stampeded them cattle last night was
a grizzly, and if you'd happened to take it into your
head to do a little rifle-shooting at him with that
thing—wal!    you   wouldn't   have   been   here   this
I 119
' I reckon you mout as weel go along o' the boy and
fetch in that " bar," ' said old Tony to Atkins. ' I
guess he Won't travel far, by the froth in the blood.'
' Right, pard,' replied Atkins ; ' come along, Snap,
and leave your horse with the boys.'
Snap did as he was bid, and strode manfully after
Atkins hito the bush, although, from the unusual
amount of riding which he had done lately, he was ' as
stiff as starch ' as he expressed it. Moreover, although
he had simply to follow Atkins, whilst Atkins had
to find and follow the trail which Snap had long since
lost, he found it impossible to keep pace with the
cowboy, or in any way to imitate the long, silent stride
of that worthy. Snap's pace was neither swift nor
silent, and I regret to say he very soon became
furiously hot and desperately angry. It did not seem
to matter how much he tried to avoid them, his shin
was always coming in contact with dead logs over
which the luxuriant ferns had grown in summer. At
every stride he trod upon a dry twig, which cracked as
loudly as a stock whip, and to finish his discomfiture
every hazel in the forest swung back and lashed him
across his eyes or nose.   If he kept his temper through SNAP
all this, he found himself up to his knees in a bog
hole, or a briar tweaked his cap off, or a creeper coiled
round his ankle and let him down with a terrific
thump.    At last Atkins turned round with a compas-
' You ain't much used to " still-hunting," Shaver ;
suppose you just wait here awhile, and I'll go on and
see if that " bar " of yourn has any travelling left in
Snap did not much relish the idea, but even he
felt that if the bear was to be approached unawares
he, Snap Hales, ought not to be one of the stalking
party. So he sat down on a log and wondered how
long it would be before he too would be able to steal
swift and silent through the forest, like the tall, lean
figure which had just left him. There is, no doubt,
a good deal to annoy a tender-foot at first in big-game
shooting in America. For a grown man to realise
that he has not yet learned to walk is a rather bitter
experience, and yet not one man in a thousand can
walk or ' creep' decently to game in timber, even
after a good many seasons' experience.
Though not nearly as cold on the Rosebud as it
had been in that other forest, in which Snap passed
a night a week previously, our hero was beginning
to feel quite ' crisp' about the ears and nose before
anything occurred to break the monotony of his
Listening intently, every sound in the forest came
clearly to his ears. The loud bell-like note of a raven
far overhead interested him. He always had thought
at home that a raven had but one note, that hoarse BRINGING  HOME THE BEAR 121
funereal croak which, together with his colour, has
got the bird such a bad name. And yet here was an
unmistakable raven with quite a musical voice! Then
a chipmunk came out of a hole in a log, the very one
on which Snap was sitting, and regarded the intruder
rigidly for a good five minutes, after which the pretty,
impertinent little beast poured out a volley of chipmunk billingsgate at him, and with a whisk of his
tail shot back into his house again. Snap saw the
little squirrel-like head peeping at him again and
again after that, curious, apparently, to see the effect
of its oratory; but, being a decent lad, Snap didn't
even shy his cap at his pretty reviler. By-and-by
Snap heard a bough swing with a grating sound in
the distance, and then, ever so softly, he heard, ' plod,
plod,' ' plod, plod.' He could only just hear it, but he
guessed in a moment whose slow, even tread that
must be, and, brave lad as he was, the blood
mounted up into his face, and his heart beat until it
sounded as loud as the old dinner-gong at Fairbury.
' Ah !' he thought, ' Atkins has put up the bear after
all, and here he comes, wounded and desperate,
straight for me.'
So noiselessly that even the chipmunk did not
notice him, Snap slipped off the log and knelt down
behind it, resting the barrel of his Winchester on the
log, determined to begin to shoot as soon as the feet
of the foe, now drawing rapidly nearer and nearer
should bring him into an opening amongst the big
trees. Crunch ! crunch! came the steps, and Snap's
•finger was on the trigger. Next moment a big black
mass would push through the bushes, the report of
~-*=~-~~-^-~4--,--- ■ i f
the rifle would ring out, and then through the smoke
what would Snap see: his first bear rolling on the
ground, or a great and hideous death, all teeth and
claws, coming straight at him, rather faster than the
' Flying Dutchman ?'
As these thoughts coursed through his brain, and
his heart ached with suppressed excitement, a voice
sang out, ' Halloh, don't you shoot! Bust my gizzard,
why, what in thunder do you take me for ? ' and the
next minute Atkins, hot and tired, plodded out .into
the open, and let a great black skin slide heavily
down on to the ground at his feet.
To those who have never had a chance of comparing the footfall of a bear with that of a man, Snap'-s
mistake may seem ridiculous; but even Atkins, whose
life had been in serious danger, readily forgave the
boy, stipulating only that for the future he should
never ' draw a bead until he knew not only what he
was shooting at, but what part of it he was trying to
hit.' Many a grievous accident would be avoided in
this way, and not one head of big game lost per
annum by it; for, even if the coat you see passing
through the thick timber be that of a beast of chase,
it is almost a certainty that a snap-shot at it will
only end in a useless wound given to some unfortunate hind, or a scratch with very bad results to the
shooter if it happen to be given to a bad-tempered
old grizzly.
If, by ill-luck, the coat is that of a man, it is ' a
mountain to a molehill' that you shoot him dead on
the spot. If any boy ever goes big-game shooting
after reading my book, let him take an old hunter's BRINGING HOME THE BEAR 123
advice, ' Know what you are shooting at before you
' How many times did you shoot at this fellow,
Snap ? ' asked Atkins.
'About three times at him, and twice where I
thought he ought to be,' replied the boy, turning over
the skin of his first bear with a loving hand. The
skin was bright and in good order, and the fur deep
and thick.
^Well,' laughed Atkins, ' I guess you hit him quite
as often as was necessary, though, according to what
you say, you must have missed him four times. I
reckon you must have hit him when you were shooting at the place where he ought to have been, for the
bullet has gone in behind and travelled all up him.
Never mind,' he added, ' it will make a rare good robe
for you this winter ! '
' You have had a good tramp, Atkins, let me carry
the skin,' said Snap, and Atkins, with a smile, consented.
'By George,' cried Snap, 'come up. Why, I say!
Atkins, I'm bothered if I can carry it,' and, indeed, as
Atkins knew very well, the green skin with the head
on was more than anyone but a strong man could
pack with comfort. However, between them they got
it through the timber to the ' crik,' as Tony caUed a
small stream by which he had tied up then horses.
' But where is Tony,' asked Snap, ' and the
cattle ?'
' What, the cows, you mean ?' asked Atkins.
' Yes.'
'Why, bless my stars, you don't  suppose  that
iilWiiiiiiiiii n'
_____-__—-—-———««jjli^i I
Tony is such a tarnation fool as to let them critters
stop to smell this here skin, do you ? Wait till you
see what our cayouses say to it,' Atkins added. ' Now
then, steady, will you, quietly,' he said, approaching
his own pony. ' Here, Snap, get in front of him and
don't let him look round,' he added, and as Snap
obeyed him he slipped the rolled-up skin behind his
saddle, lashed it firm into its place, and leapt into the
saddle as with a snort and a bound the pony shook
itself free from Snap's hold.
Then Snap saw some real riding for the first time.
Perhaps that pony never got quite six feet off the
ground, and perhaps he had not lunched freely on
earthquakes, but, to see the way in which he performed,
you would have thought so. First, down came his
nose between his knees, in spite of his rider's strong
hands and the cruel curb; out went his heels like twin
cannon balls; and away he went over the prairie,
travelling apparently all the time on his forelegs,
when he was on the ground at all, which was not
often. Really, it did not seem possible that his limbs
should remain united. No muscles, you would think,
could stand the strain of those furious bucks and
kicks. Every moment Snap expected to see the
strange figure part in flying fragments, the legs one
way, the body another, and Atkins in a third direction.
But, though for the second time since his arrival
upon the prairie Snap himself got unseated, the cowboy sat tight until he was out of sight of our hero,
who, having luckily stuck to his bridle, managed to
recover and remount his horse, which had become
almost as unmanageable as the one which carried the
Once again in the saddle, Snap made the best of
his way after his friend, and some time before nightfall was agreeably surprised to see the ranche in the
distance. It must be confessed that he had had no
idea that he was near home until he saw the smoke
from the ranche chimneys, having been completely
' turned round' as Yankees say. Atkins had been
home some time, and the skin was pegged out to
dry. Old Wharton laughed until his sides ached
at the boy's rueful plight and his very apparent
stiffness. ' Ah,' he said, ' I guess the Cradle don't
work very easy yet, but my word, boy, if you do want
a donkey to gallop or a cayouse to kick, just you put
a carrot in front of one or a bear-skin behind the other,
and you won't have to wait long, you bet.' In the
big corral was a band of about thirty-seven cattle,
quite enough after their long drive, and, as Tony said,
' likely to give anyone a nice day's work, branding
them to-morrow.' m\ i
l ill
A rancher's life is not an easy one. The hardest
work comes in spring and autumn, when the cattle
are ' rounded up,' or gathered together from their
feeding-grounds all over the place, and parcelled out
amongst the different owners. As the great pastures
have no fences to mark off one from another, of
course the cattle stray, and the Rosebud herd and
the Snake River herd mix with one another, and with
individuals belonging to ranches even more distant
than these. At the great annual round-up a certain
number of cowboys from each ranche in the district
meet, and proceed to drive the whole of the neighbouring ranges, collecting a vast mass of cattle as
they go.
Each cowboy has about a dozen ponies with him,
and in the work of the round-up even this large
string is very often used up. For horse and man
the work is as severe as human muscle and horseflesh
can stand. During the day the men ride round "by
the banks of every crik, investigate every quiet glen
among the hills, sweep over the rolling plains, and
little by little gather up the waifs and strays into a
huge herd. At night this herd has to be watched, as
well as the big band of horses accompanying it. BRANDING THE  'SCRUBBER'
From time to time along the route the occurrence
of one of the big home ranches causes a delay. Here
a great corral or enclosure of rough logs has been
erected, and smaller pens of a like nature. The
whole party camp near the ranche, and the cattle are
herded beside it. In the morning comes the chief
work of the year. Every cow with a calf at her heel
is the subject of careful scrutiny. If she bears the
Rosebud brand, the calf belongs to the Rosebud ranche,
and has to be caught there and then and branded.
If not branded whilst still a calf, the little beast will
be lost to the owner, for, once grown up, with no ever-
present nurse to point out to whom she belongs, the
unmarked heifer belongs to anyone who can catch
and brand her. There are always a few scrub cattle
on every range—beasts like some of those whose
capture has been described in the last two chapters—
who had succeeded so far in escaping the cowboy's
hot iron.
The work of ' cutting out,' that is, separating, the
beasts to be branded from the rest of the herd, is to
the cowboy what Rugby Union is to the schoolboy.
It is full of excitement, tries every muscle of the
horse, every quality, mental or physical, of the rider.
This, on a small scale, was the work awaiting Snap
on the morrow of his bear-hunt. Amongst the beasts
driven in were a few which required to be branded,
and, though then capture was mere child's play to
the old hands, used to following a dodging heifer
through a herd a thousand strong, it was intensely
exciting to Snap. How the ponies twisted and turned
amongst the crowding beasts, never for one moment
I BBESBSj^&sSB^Httfi
losing touch of the animal which they wanted to cut
out, was a marvel to him for many a day. Polo on a
quick pony is trying to a man's seat, but cattle-driving
on a pony which twists like a ' snipe and doubles
like a hare, without any warning to the rider, is even
more so.
Having cut out, lassoed, and branded all that were
unmarked save one, Tony and Wharton held a consultation as to that one. The men had not much to
do; they had just had work enough in the crisp ah
to ' get then monkey up,' and were ready for anything.
' Say, Dick,' said Tony, ' shall we brand that old
bull ? the old varmint has had the laugh of us long
enough. Let's scar his rump for him this time,
The scrub bull alluded to by Tony was an old
acquaintance of the men at Rosebud ranche. More
than once had he been thrown and tied, always to
break away and set the branders at defiance. Whilst
the men were talking he was gradually drawing away
from the herd, a strong, heavy-built beast, fierce and
long-horned as a Texan bull, strong and sturdy as
an English shorthorn. A short, crisply curled coat
of a dull brown made him look, but for his more
graceful build, more" like a buffalo than a domestic
'All right, boys^ let's have another go at him,'
assented Wharton; and Wharton, Tony, Snap, and
another rode quietly out to surround and drive in the
veteran. The ponies certainly entered into the spirit
of the thing.    Anything more meek and more inno- BRANDING THE 'SCRUBBER'
cent than ' the Cradle ' as he wandered casually out
with Snap on his back, now and then stopping for a
mouthful of grass, and again turning his back completely on the bull, Snap thought he had never seen.
And yet somehow the ponies were all round the bull,
and, unless he had the pluck to run the gauntlet, he
had only one way open to him, and that led into the
small corral. Little by little they drew in, pushing
their victim so slowly in front of them that he must
still have believed that he was choosing his own course,
and only moving at all because he wished to. By
quiet, clever generalship old Wharton and his boys
got the bull within a short run of the corral. Then
the bull began to hesitate. He evidently ' smelt a
rat,' and did not mean to go another yard. This was
the critical moment. Swinging their lariats round
their heads, the four riders dashed at the bull with
a yell which would have turned a party of Zulus
white with envy. Snap, not to be outdone, yelled in
chorus what was really a relic of the old hunting
days at Fairbury, and dashed forward with the rest.
For a moment the grand old beast lowered his great
shaggy front, and looked as if he meant to stand the
charge. If he had done so, the band of horsemen
must have split upon him as waves upon a rock.
But the yell and the swinging lassoes were too much
for his nerves. Turning slowly, he galloped into the
corral, the horses dashed after him, the huge bars of
the fence were put back into then places, and the
scrub bull was fairly caged. So far, so good. But
this same bull had often been caged before, and was
still unbranded.
Mmim 130
' Will you rope him, Tony ? ' asked Wharton.
' You bet,' replied that worthy, divesting himself
of pretty nearly everything except his lasso, so as to
be. ' pretty handy over them rails, if so be as it's
necessary,' he explained.
In the corral was a post, firm-set in the ground,
and stout as heart of oak. Round this Tony coiled
his lasso, leaving lots of loose line and the fatal noose
free. Meanwhile the bull kept his eye on Tony just
as Tony kept his eye on the bull. Snorting and pawing the ground, the beast backed against the rails,
and then, finding that there was no escape, lowered
his head and came with a perfect roar of rage at his
self-composed enemy. Tony stood his ground just
long enough to throw his lasso, and then darted away.
The long loop flew straight enough to its mark, but
by some ill-luck failed to fix upon the bull, who, free
and savage, fairly coursed poor Tony round the ring.
But the cowboy ' didn't reckon to be wiped out by one
of them scrubbers, no-how,' and, seizing his opportunity, scrambled over the rails of the corral like a
monkey up a lamp-post, remarking, when he reached
the other side in safety:
' Jeehoshaphat! I did think he would have ventilated my pants for me that time, anyways.'
At the next attempt Tony's lasso settled round the
great beast's horns, tightened as he plunged past the
post, and as he reached the end of his tether brought
him with a stunning crash to the ground. As Snap
said afterwards,' those cowboys hopped over the fence
like fleas, and had the old bull's leg tied up, and his
head made fast to the pole with the strongest green
hide-rope on the ranche, before you could say Jack
For a while the great beast stood trembling, and
still dazed by his fall, but the sight of Tony with the
branding-iron roused him to fresh fury. The huge
quarters seemed to contract for a mighty effort, the
shaggy neck bent down with irresistible force, the
thongs of green hide creaked and then snapped, as
snapped the withy bands which bound the wrists of
There were four men and a bull in the corral when
those ropes broke; there was one man and a bull still
left in thirty seconds after that event. With a furious
charge the monster scattered his tormentors, who fled
in every direction, two over the rails and a third just
in time to fling himself flat on his face and roll out
underneath the bottom bar, with those sharp horns,
' straight as levelled lances,' only just behind him.
When they had time to turn they saw a sight
which, if it had not been so full of peril for a dear
old comrade, must have elicited peals of laughter.
'Bust me if you shall lick us,' said Tony, grinding
his teeth as he heard the straining thongs begin to
give ; and when the buU charged the brave old fellow
held on to his branding-iron and waited. Of course the
flying forms of Tony's companions drew the bull's
attention, and his great horned front plunged past
.the one foe who disdained flight without observing
him. With a shattering crash the bull dashed against
the corral-fence just too late to pound a man to pieces
with his horns, and as he reeled back himself, half
stunned by the tremendous collision with those un-
K 2
■■ii 132
yielding oaken bars, the bull was aware of a fresh
indignity.    Tony had him by the tail!!
Yes, it's all very well to plunge and roar with
rage, to swing the lithe, active foe clean off his feet,
and dash him against the oak rails of your prison, 0
gallant Texan buU; but that foe, half Yankee as he is
now, was.bred in gallant Yorkshire, and, once he has
his grip, will let go when a bull-dog does, that is, when
he is dead; just then and no sooner.
And so the scrub-buU found. In vain he dashed
about like a beast possessed, tore up the earth, and
rent the air with furious bellowings. Tony had no
idea of letting go; his life depended. on his holding
on ; his muscles were like iron, and his nerves were
English, hardened by a rough life in America. The
absurd part of it was that at every breathing-time
Tony made a fresh effort to brand his victim, for he
had stuck to his iron with his one hand as tenaciously
as to the bull with the other. The story takes long
in the telling, but in the doing it did not take half as
long. Before anyone could intervene to help the foolhardy old man the end had come. In dashing round
the ring in a cloud of dust (no one quite saw how it
happened) the old man's head must have struck
against the post or against a railing. As the dust
cleared, the horrified spectators saw Tony standing in
the rhig, his head hanging, his eyes vacant, still
clinging instinctively to his iron. For a moment
the bull paused, almost crouching like a cat, then,
with a roar of rage, hurled himself forward. The old
man didn't move, didn't seem to understand, and it
flashed through the minds of the helpless and horror- A  BRANDING THE 'SCRUBBER' 133
stricken spectators that, though still standing, Tony
was ' all abroad,' his wits temporarily scattered by
collision with the post.
There was a muffled shock: the man was flung,
like foam from the crest of a breaker, half across the
corral. Three other men's forms were in the ring, a
couple of revolver shots rang out, and then, side by
side, Tony and the bull lay upon that sandy battlefield,
reddened with the life-blood streaming slowly from
each. As his companions closed round him Tony
managed to struggle to his elbow, saying, with a smile
which spoke volumes for his pluck :
' Sorry you killed the scrubber, boys, he'd a been
kinder like a monument for me, 'cos you see he has
got the Rosebud brand now; you bet, he's got the Rosebud brand '
Poor Tony! those were his last words, and as his
comrades carried him off his last battlefield they felt
that the best rough-rider and the gentlest, most kind-
hearted giant amongst them had done his last day's
A few days later, when the sun was setting on the
prairie, making the whole sky crimson, and flooding
the world with its last rays of light, they buried him
by the river's edge, Nares reading the funeral service
over him, who, though perhaps he had said less of
religion than most men, had lived a life so close to
Nature, and face to face with God and His works, that
he must have learnt the great secret and loved the
Creator, as he undoubtedly in his own rough way loved
all His beautiful creation. Over Tony's grave the
men set up a rough headstone, or cross, rather, of I! m
timber, and on it they nailed the bleached skull and
bones of his dead enemy; while ^underneath Snap
burned with a hot iron some words which he remembered from Bret Harte:—
A roughish chap in his talk was he,
And an awkward man in a row;
But he never funked, and he never lied,
I guess he never knowed how. 135
The loss of Tony was a loss which the whole ranche
felt. Had he died in the full swing of work, the
machine must almost have broken down. But Tony
never wanted his spell of rest except when there
was nothing much to do, and he had chosen to take
his ' big spell of rest' in the same way. Still, even in
the winter season, his loss made a great deal of difference to Snap. With Tony the ranche was full-handed,
and the boy was reaUy more or less superfluous.
Now he had his hands full. There was a man's place
to supply, and he worked hard and uncomplainingly
to fill it. There are a thousand things to be done
about a ranche in winter : cattle .to feed and water,
wood to hew, repairs about the ranche which want
attending to, supplies to be fetched from the nearest
town. At all these things Snap took his turn. No
one cares to turn out first in the morning with a
bitter frost outside and make up the fire for the
benefit of the rest. Even strong, hard men will lie
watching to see if someone else won't volunteer, and
hug themselves for their smartness when someone
else turns out before them, so that they may get up
in the glow of a fire which others have made.    The 136
' boys ' might well have insisted on Snap's doing this,
but he was popular, and no one fagged him. They
knew he was a good plucked one, so nobody bullied
him. That being so, Snap set himself the work to do,
and nine mornings out of ten it was Snap who raked
up the ashes and blew the fire into a blaze, who woke
the sleepers with a joke, and had coffee ready for
the elder men. It was Snap, too, who sang the best
song round the wood-fire at night; and be sure there
was nothing that went straighter to the hearts of
the cowboys than his fresh young voice rattling out
the well-remembered words of 'The Hounds of the
Meyneh" or Whyte Melville's 'Place where the old
Horse died.'
Some of the boys had never been in England, and
knew nothing of fox-hunting, but all loved a good
horse and entered heartily into the spirit of the song.
And so it was that in the early morning, and late in
the fire-lit evening, Snap won his way to his companions' favour. Though gently bred, they recognised
him as being not only game to the backbone, but
ready and willing to do a man's work. That once
understood, they were his friends through thick and
thin, always ready to teach him anything, to make
room for him in a hunting-party, or to chaff his head
off if he made a hash of either work or play. By
spring Snap was in a fair way to be a useful hand
upon the ranche.
And now winter was coming down upon Rosebud
in real earnest. The first' cold snap,' as it is called, had
caught our friends as they crossed the Rockies, and,
intensified by the height at which they were travel- WINTER COMES WITH THE 'WAVIES'
ling, had seemed very bitter indeed. After the cold
snap, which only lasted from a week to ten days, came
as it were an aftermath of summer, a second season
of sunshine and delight, which the natives call the
Indian summer. Snap began to think that the
severities of a Canadian winter were all bunkum,
invented as a background for all the terrible stories of
the fur-traders of old days. This Indian summer was
just the loveliest October weather which a healthy man
could wish for, a little crisper and keener at night than
our own Octobers, but in the day so bright, so clear,
so sunny, that life (however hard the work) seemed
to go to dance-music all day long. Later on, however, there began to be signs of a change. One by one
and in little groups all the cattle had come in of then
own accord from the distant ranges. Some of them
had been feeding above the foot-hills on the sweet grass
of the mountain slopes, where in two months' time
even the bighorn would not be able to exist. As Snap
rode out to shoot for the pot, or on any work about
the ranche, he would meet fresh companies of them,
feeding slowly downhill towards the low land and the
river bottoms. They were in no hurry, picking the
tenderest' feed' as they strolled along, and camping
every night wherever they happened to find themselves, but still pressing steadily on to the warmer
lands below. As the beasts stopped and stared at the
boy with great, solemn, brown eyes of inquiry, he used
to wonder at them at least as much as they at him.
How came it, he thought, that they knew the bitter
white winter was coming, although the sun was still
so bright, and the uplands flooded with golden light ?
I ?
Who told them? or  did they remember from the
years before ?
Nature, too, had put on her last robe but one. In
a month, save for the dark green of the funereal
pines, it would be white everywhere. Now, just for a
season, there was colour everywhere as bright as rainbow tints, and as short-lived. The maples were clear
gold or vivid crimson ; the sugar maples often showing both colours side by side in one gracefully pointed
leaf. The hazels were red and gold, or, like the long
oval leaves of the sumach-bush, had already turned
from brilliant lake to a dull, blackish purple. They
were all ready to drop and die, but their death would
be as beautiful and becoming as their birth in springtime, when birds were mating and woods a tender
green, or as then life among the flowers and cool,
green shadows of the luxurious summer.
As Snap lay awake at night he heard far up among
the stars the clang, it seemed to him, of trumpets,
as if an army passed by to battle ; or, again, a strange,
solemn cry, not from quite such a height, smote his
ear : ' honk, honk, ha, ha,' it seemed to say—a strange,
unearthly call, from things passing and unseen.
At morning, too, before dawn, he heard these cries,
and a strange, swift, whistling sound would rush over
the roof of the log-house. The sky seemed haunted
in these late autumn days. One morning as the
mists rose Snap got a glimpse of these passing armies
of the ah. Far away up in the clouds was a great
V-shaped body of birds, the point of the V a single
swan cleaving his way westward from his summer
haunts in the Arctic Circle to the warmer regions of
British Columbia and the mud-flats of the mouth of
the Frazer. River. On other days he saw Canada
geese in thousands, and snow geese (or wavies) in
hundreds of thousands, all passing on the same great
high-road from Hudson Bay to the West.
' Snap,' said old Wharton one morning, ' hurry
up, I've just seen a gang of wavies go up the crik,
flying pretty low down. I reckon they aren't going
far, and young wavy is mighty good eating.'
Snap was not long getting the big duck-gun down
from its peg on the beam, nor long in loading it with
a great charge of shot as big as small peas.
' It ain't like shooting quail, you see,' said Wharton,
' these wavies want almost as much killing as a
' What are you going to take, Dick ? ' asked Snap.
'Oh, I'll just take the Winchester,' replied his
friend; ' you let me have the first cut at them with a
ball, and then as they get up let 'em have both barrels
of your blunderbuss right in the thick of them.'
' All right, come along,' urged Snap.
' No hurry, my boy; they have come a longish
way, those wavies, and I guess they'll take, a goodish
time lunching on them mud-flats and beaver meadows,'
replied his less excitable companion, whose eyes
nevertheless gleamed with all the excitement of a
genuine wild-fowler.
By-and-by, as the two hurried down the river-bed,
they could hear a loud and excited gabbling, a thousand geese all talking at once.
' Talking like senators,' muttered old Dick; ' one
would think they were paid for the job, but I expect
.11 140
as they've seen some country to talk about in the last
day or two, between this and Hudson.'
' Last two or three days ! why, how fast do they
fly, Dick ? ' whispered Snap.
' Wal,' replied he, ' I guess I never travelled with
them much, but I should say about sixty miles more
or less an hour, and they'll keep it up too; but dry
up now, for the cunning varmint put out regular
scouts, and they'll hear us talking a quarter of a mile
Round the mud-flats and hollows which the geese
were on was a fringe of brush and reeds. Through
this the two gunners forced their way. As they did
so the gabbling ceased as if by magic.
' Quick, quick,' whispered Wharton, pressing forward, and as they reached the edge Snap caught a
glimpse of a huge bunch of geese, aU drawn together
on a little bare island in the stream, their long necks
stretched to the utmost, their whole attitude one of
suspicion and anxiety, and the wings of one or two of
them half lifted for flight. Old Dick's rifle rang out
the signal for them to go—all but two, that is to say—
for the old man's bullet stopped the wanderings of
two of them for ever. As they rose in a cloud Snap
clapped the big gun to his shoulder and let drive
amongst them.
' Not bad, my boy,' cried Wharton, ' but why in
thunder don't you shoot again ? Hulloa! well, I am
sugared, ha, ha, ha!' laughed the old man as, turning round, he saw Snap slowly picking himself up out
of a mud-hole in which he had lately lain full length.
| Why, does that gun kick,' continued Wharton, f or WINTER COMES WITH THE 'WAVIES' 141
what's the matter? How much had it in it, I
wonder ?'
' Well,' replied Snap, ' I put about three and a
half drams of powder and agoodlot of shot into it,
but I've fired as big a charge before at home.'
' You put a charge in, did you ?' asked Dick; ' then
that explains it, because I put one in too when you
went back into the house for caps. I didn't know as
you'd loaded her. No wonder she kicked; the wonder
is that she didn't bust.'
Remembering the charge which he had put in for
the benefit of the geese, Snap quite agreed with his
friend, and, rubbing his shoulder somewhat ruefully,
proceeded to collect the dead. Five geese lay outstretched on the mud island, one with his head cut
clean off by Wharton's bullet, and another knocked
into a cocked hat by the same missile. Three were
Snap's birds, and three or four more ' winged' ones
were scattered about on the stream and river-banks.
Having retrieved these, they turned home, well
loaded and highly pleased with themselves. On the
way back Snap noticed two more geese floating down
with the stream, close under the bank. In spite of
the kick he had received from his gun at the last
discharge, Snap could not resist the temptation to
bag another brace, and was creeping up for a shot
when Wharton stopped him with:
' Hold hard, you've shot them birds once; they
are both winged birds, and if we can catch 'em alive
they will be worth a lot to us.'
It was soon evident that Wharton was right, for,
though the geese saw their enemies and tried to hide
1/ mm
ji |
their heads under the opposite bank, they could not
rise from the water. And then began a chase which
wore out Dick's temper and Snap's wind before it was
over. Although the men plunged into the water, and
kept both sides of the stream guarded, they couldn't
for the life of them get hold of the wily ganders, who
flapped and swam, dodging cleverly, or hissing with
outstretched necks and angry yellow eyes, unceasingly.
When they had caught them at last it was late in the
afternoon, and by the time they had gone back to
fetch the dead geese which they had abandoned during
the chase, and walked with them to the ranche, it
was already getting dark. As they left the river a
whistling sound overhead made them look up.
'More geese,' said Wharton; 'I guess they're
making for them mud-fiats too—please the pigs, we'll
have a good time to-morrow evening.'
And so they had for a good many evenings, the
two winged geese being used as decoys, and Snap and
Wharton (the latter now armed with a gun) being
hidden carefully in reedy ambushes hard by. It was
intensely exciting work, sitting there waiting until
one of the many legions of birds which passed incessantly overhead lowered to the water on which the
decoy sat. At first Snap could make nothing of the
shooting, and, to tell the truth, Wharton was not a bit
better. He wasn't used, he said, ' to these blessed
scatter-guns,' which ' weren't of no account alongside
of a rifle.' If a single duck came along, Snap never
hit it. If a long string passed over him, and he fired
at the leading bird, sometimes nothing happened, but
oftener the fourth  or  fifth bird, at  an interval of
several yards, came down with a thump, gratifying to
the pot-hunter, but not complimentary to the young
gunner, who felt that he had missed his mark by as
many yards as there were birds in front of the one
which he bagged. After a good deal of practice he
began to learn not only how far to shoot in front of
the swift-flying birds, but how to swing with them,
i.e. to keep his gun moving as he fired. Being
younger than Wharton, and having shot a little at
home, he soon learnt to beat the old man, who, if he
could possibly help it, would not waste powder on a
flying shot at all.
What most astonished Snap in this wonderful migration was that all the birds killed in the first day or
two were young birds. Later on, flocks of old ones began
to arrive, but all the advance guard, as it were, of the
bird army, whether wavies or brent, swans or duck,
were birds of that season only ; birds who had never,
could never, have travelled that road before. ' It is
wonderful enough,' thought Snap, ' to see the cattle
all come wandering in with no one to drive them
from the pastures, which will soon be all snow and
ice; it is wonderful that the birds should know that
winter is coming, and be able to find their way
from the bleak, frost-bound north to the more genial
climates in which they winter; but that the bird-
babies, born this summer only, should lead the way,
is most wonderful of all. They can't remember !
Who is it who leads them ? ' And, so thinking, the
boy lay down to rest, and the loud clanging of the
swans, and the call of the geese, and sharp whistling
of the ducks' wings all told the same story, and if
— mm
even a sparrow can't fall to the ground without His
knowing, Snap thought he didn't fear the future so
long as the One who guided the swans through the
night and the darkness would guide him too.
This migration, which took place in November,
lasted only a week or ten days, though a few late
detachments kept passing perhaps for a week after
the main body had gone over.
There were ten ' wavies,' or snow-geese, for every
other bird which passed, and next to them in number
were the Canadian geese and brent. The brent we
know at home, or at least all dwellers by the shore
know him, for he is the chief object of the punt-
gunner's pursuit, and was at one time so common in
England that up in Lancashire, where they thought
he grew from the barnacles which cover ships' bottoms
and breakwaters, a brace of brent were sold for threepence. If he was as good then as a corn-fed Canada
goose is now, I should like to have lived in those days,
but I fancy he never was so dainty a bird as his
Canadian cousin. The wavy, or snow-goose, is so
numerous that the Canadian Acts of Parliament, which
protect all other ducks and geese, leave this poor
fellow unprotected; but then the snow-goose is like
the sands on the sea-shore for number, and most of
the year he dwells either in the frozen North or on
Siberian tundras where gunners can't get at him.
He is a handsome bird, the snow-goose, and the
older he gets the handsomer he is. As a youngster
he is white all over, except his head and the tips of his
wings, his head being yellowish-red and his wing-tips
black.  As he grows older his head grows whiter, until WINTER COMES WITH THE 'WAVIES
at last there is nothing to mark him out from the icebergs and snow amongst which his life is passed, except
those two or three black feathers in his wing.
The Canada goose is almost as black as his fellow-
traveller is white; a dark, smart-looking, and jauntily
moving bird, not much unlike a brent, with a neat
white collar round his neck.
These two species, together with swans of two
sorts, ' trumpeters' and ' whistlers,' and half a dozen
kinds of duck—widgeon and shoveller, pochard, pintail,
and wood-duck—kept Snap, gun and.mind, busy for a
fortnight, and if the bag was not always heavy the
pleasure was great, for Snap was what every really
good sportsman is, more a naturalist than a mere
shooter, and loved to watch the birds, even though
they never came within range.
One evening the darkness came on without even a
single wing to break the stillness. As he came down
to the ' hide,' as his ambuscade was called, he put up
one of those quaintly-named little ducks, a 'buffle-
headed butter-ball,' but, disdaining to fire at this, he
never fired a shot all night.
It was the final warning that winter was coming at
last. Next day the clouds were low and yellow.
Towards evening the big flakes came floating down.
Next morning the world was white from river to
mountain-top. The pines were snow-plumed, the
rivers frost-bound; a bitter cold seemed to sting you
as you put your face out of doors; the whole five
blankets and the rug were wanted above you at night.
Winter had come! !«™B
i; i if
Because in this story of Snap's life there are so many
adventures I don't want my boy readers to go away
with the idea that life out West is all fun and frolic,
for of course I know, as well as anyone, that, to a hot-
blooded English boy, roughing it, and facing dangers
which he just manages to overcome, are fun and frolic.
In the summer, the cowboy has a pretty idle time
of it. If he is a fisherman, and there are trout-
streams handy, he may while away the hours with a
rod, but the rivers of the plains on which he and his
cattle live are oddly enough very destitute of fish.
Up in the hills, in the tarns and mountain streams,
there is plenty of lovely Salmo fontinalis, or Canadian
trout, strong and game fish, which take a fly as well
as then English cousins, and make a really good fight
before the angler manages to land them, bright bars
of quivering purple and gold, on the grass at his feet.
There are, too, towns sometimes near enough to
attract the ' boys,' who think nothing of a fifty-mile
ride across the prairie, and in these a good deal of the
money advanced by parents at home is apt to be spent
on billiards (of a very poor quality), gambling, and
Luckily the autumn ' round-up' necessitates everyone's presence on the ranche, and from that time
until summer there is constant, and occasionally severe,
work to be done.
Snap found the Worst time was from Christmas,
when the really hard weather set in, until March.
Luckily, the Rosebud people had laid in a very large
supply of hay for winter use. Nares's rule was, ' Get
in as much as can possibly be needed for the worst
winter men ever saw, even though you may not want
a quarter of it.'
And it was well in Snap's first year that such
ample provision had been made, for not only did the
snow fall continuously for many days, but it packed,
thus preventing the beasts from getting at the sun-
dried, self-cured prairie hay below. In the bitterest
weather Snap and the other men had to go out and
feed; had to visit the different bands sheltering in
the coulees and hollows of the foot-hills; look after the
young and the feeble; get the beasts out of the
timber, where, if left alone, they would shiver and
starve rather than face the bitter wind which drove
them back from the feeding-ground on the bare lands
below; keep an eye on the coyotes and wolves; and
perform a hundred other duties which required
strength and hardihood, and which were certain
either ' to kill a boy or make a man,' as Wharton
put it.
Nature must have meant Snap for a cowboy. His
long, lean figure, broad shoulders, and red-brown skin
made him look a typical cowboy, almost before he
was one.  Enduring as a wolf, he made up by staying-
J 148
power what he lacked in muscles, and day by day
these developed through constant use.
The severe weather had brought down other beasts
from the hills besides the patient oxen. Now and
again, as Snap went his rounds, he saw in the snow
a track into which both his own feet would go without
destroying its outline. Sometimes, after following
this track for a while, he would find patches of blood
on the trail, and then a dead steer, torn by the huge
claws and mangled by the teeth of ' old Ephraim,' as
the trappers used to call the grizzly. If the beast had
been killed some time, there would be other tracks near
—wolf and coyote—showing that others had finished
what the fierce king of the forest had begun. A dose
of arsenic hid in the flesh that was left would
generally enable the cowboys to cry quits with the
wolves, and go some way towards compensating for
the death of the steer by the acquisition of three or
four handsome skins, but the grizzly himself never
touched a ' doctored carcase.'
When Christmas came round it brought letters
for Snap which kept his imagination busy aU day.
One was from the Admiral, another from the little
mother, and a third from the guardian. The Admiral's
accompanied a pah of field-glasses which had belonged
to the dear old fellow for ages, and through which he
had looked over many a stormy sea and sunny land.
Through them he had seen the edges of all the world,
the ports of every country, the shattered, shot-torn
rigging of the enemy's fleet, and perhaps the powdered
faces of many a European prima donna. ' Now,' he
wrote, ' they are no good to me.   Even these glasses A NIGHT OF ADVENTURE 149
won't help you to see through a London fog, and it's
hardly respectable for the Chairman of the ' Company
associated for the Culture and Civilisation of Puffin
Islands' to be seen at a theatre. So, Snap, I send
them to you. I wish I could look through them, my
boy, and see you tending the cattle on a thousand
So the old gentleman was the director of a company, and Snap, knowing him well, thought that the
shareholders in that company were luckier than their
director, for, if downright honesty would insure the
payment of a dividend by Puffin Islands, Puffin
Islands, under the command of the Admiral, would
pay. Poor old gentleman, it was a change to him,
trudging into the City through sludge and fog to talk
about guano and its prospects, instead of with gun
and spaniel pottering about Fairbury coverts on the
off chance of a ' cock.'
Then there was a letter from the ' mother,' concealing the miserable life she and her gallant old
brother were leading in a dingy London back-street—a
letter full of thanks to Snap for looking after her
' other two boys' on the way out, and regretting that
the three could not be all together. She sent Snap
what she imagined would be useful Christmas presents,
and the tears came into his eyes as he thought of the
weary hours which she must have spent stitch-stitching in the gloom of a London parlour to make those
useless white robes for him. For, indeed, they were
useless. Two of them were night-shirts—linen nightshirts !—to sleep in in a country where, if you touched
an axe out of doors, the cold made it cling to your 150
hand until either the skin came away on the axe or
you put axe and hand together into hot water to thaw
and dissolve partnership. He treated them very
reverently at first, but, long after, Snap confessed that
they had been very useful 'as overalls, with a pudding-
bag used as an extempore night-cap, for stalking
wild-fowl in the snoiv-time.'
Then there was a long letter from his guardian,
reminding Snap that, ' had he only been advised by
him, he might now be occupying an honourable position in commerce or the law, and making his way to
a fair competency in his maturer years.'
' Yes,' muttered Snap, ' and supping on blue pills,
with a breakfast of black draught, or (if very weU)
only Eno, to follow. No, thank you, my worthy relative,' muttered the boy. ' I prefer these " Arctic
solitudes and uncultured men," as you civilly call
them, to a solicitor's office, any day.'
Snap's guardian fell into a common error. Civilised himself, he couldn't understand the beauties of
barbarism. Snap could; and of the two, barbarism
and civilisation, thought barbarism the better horse.
The odd thing that Christmas was that there was
no letter from Frank or Towzer, to whom Snap had
already written more than once. Later on, Snap got
a letter, but, as we will ourselves visit the other boys
shortly, it is unnecessary to refer further to that here.
The Admiral's glasses nearly led Snap into a bad
scrape, though the glasses were in no way to blame
for it. As he stood trying them from the door of the
ranche-house one morning, he said to Wharton, who
was beside him;
' Dick, I believe I can see a band of cattle making
up towards the line.'
' Like enough,' replied Dick, ' for there is, maybe,
some little feed up that way ; but you had better turn
them, if you can, we don't want to lose any that
' What way, Dick ? '
' Why, if they get on the line the train may catch
them before we do, and the C. P. R. won't stop for a
beast or two; the " cow-catcher " ' (a great iron fender
in front of the engine) ' will just pick them up and
chuck them off the rails in heaps.'
' The deuce,' muttered Snap, ' then I'd better go;
the boys are out, and if the silly brutes go on as they
are going now they'll just a*bout get on to the line by
the time the passenger train comes along.'
So saying, Snap threw his big Mexican saddle on
his pony and started in pursuit, although it was
already late in the day.
It soon became evident that his guess had been a
correct one. He had lost sight of the beasts for a
while, it is true, as they had passed through a thin
belt of timber which temporarily hid them from him,
but their tracks led straight on for the line. Still,
there was lots of time, and, after all, the cattle would
not be such fools, he thought, as to climb on to
the line itself, where, of course, there could be no
But they did. When Snap next saw them there
were about two dozen beasts wandering aimlessly up
' the track' itself, towards the great trestle-bridge
which spans the canyon (or gully) of the ' Elk Horn if
Rf  I
Crik.' The line here runs along a cutting in a hillside, and Snap, leaving his pony below, climbed painfully up to the level of the line.
Once up there, his work was only begun. Do all
that he would, he could not get the beasts to leave
their perilous pathway. They would not let him get
up to them, but steadily jogged on in front of him
towards the trestle-bridge. Having tried in vain to
get round them, Snap looked at his watch. He had
still nearly twenty minutes to spare before the train
was due. If he could run the brutes up to the trestle-
bridge they would never try to cross that, and he
would be able to turn them down the bank, which,
terribly steep as it was, was in places just practicable
for the sure-footed, prairie-reared cattle.
So he pressed on, driving the cattle against time,
as the dark grew ever darker, and the train nearer
and nearer to the bridge. At last he thought as he
ran that he could hear it far away in the hills, a low,
distant, rattling noise, heard plainly for a moment, and
then lost again as some high ground was brought by
a twist of the line between him and it. The trestle-
bridge, however, was in sight, and in another minute
he had the satisfaction of seeing the stupid beasts
trot up to it, stop, and then, first one, then another,
. turned and scrambled in headlong fashion down the
bank. All except • one. One perverse brute, a thorough Texan, 'all horns and tail,' would not follow
his companions, but elected to try the bridge.
Perhaps my readers do not know what a trestle-
bridge is. To understand the story, it is necessary
that they should do so.    A trestle-bridge, then, such
as the one before Snap, is a bridge of timber, the
beams laid at right angles to the line, and each beam
about two feet from its neighbour. Across the beams
run the iron rails, and between the beams is nothing
at all but emptiness. The whole bridge is supported
on a huge scaffolding, which rises from the sides of
the canyon crossed, and in some cases these bridges
are as much as 150 yards from end to end, and 250
feet above the stream which generally races along
below. To walk over these bridges by daylight requires
a clear head and steady nerves, for, though it is easy
enough to stride from beam to beam for a few yards,
it becomes more difficult as you proceed: the light
gleams off the water below, flickers through the open
spaces and dazzles you, while the sight of the vast
profound underneath, and the knowledge that one
false step will send you whirling between those beams
to eternity, has not a steadying effect upon you.
These bridges are, most of them, very narrow,
and on the one in question there was but a single
line, the shunting station immediately preceding the
bridge, which was not considered equal to the weight
of two trains at the same time. And on this bridge
the black Texan steer had elected to ramble. Clever
as a goat, it stepped from beam to beam; then, as the
light flickered up into its eyes, it grew nervous and
stopped, afraid to come back, and afraid to go on.
Again Snap heard the warning rattle of the coming train amongst the hills, a faint whistle, and then
again silence. He had saved all the herd but one.
Should he leave that one ?
' No, I'm blowed if I will,' muttered the boy, setting
^ 154
his teeth and feeling just as stubborn as the steer in
front of him. ' That train won't be up for another
quarter of an hour—you can hear it coming for miles
on a frosty night like this,' he argued, and boldly
enough he started on to the bridge, stepping freely
from beam to beam.
The steer, seeing him coming, moved slowly on,
trembling in every limb, but still determined not to
be headed.
' Confound the brute,' thought Snap, ' I shouldn't
wonder if he means me to follow him across the
Rockies.    I will head him, though !'
Just then the steer made a false step. One leg
went just short of the beam on to which it had intended to step. It lurched forward, and for one
moment Snap thought it had gone over into the
abyss. But it recovered itself somehow, and stood
trembling in every limb, and bellowing piteously in
its fear.
Then, - unfortunately, Snap himself looked down
through the ribs of that skeleton bridge. It was
getting dusk now, and he could not see very clearly;
but below he could hear the roll of waters amongst
the boulders, he could see the tops of trees far below
him, and occasionally a white flash of foam where
the river dashed against a black rock. He didn't
like it, ' you bet,' as he said afterwards, ' he did not
like it,' and the more he looked the less he liked it.
For some reason, unexplained, his knees at this
juncture acquired an unhappy knack of knocking
together, and grew weak and uncertain. With a
start he pulled himself together.    This would not do A NIGHT  OF ADVENTURE 155
at any price. There was another hundred yards of
bridge to traverse, and he hardly thought, if the train
was ' on time,' that • he would be able to coax that
steer across before the train reached the bridge.
At that moment a roar sounded behind Snap—the.
roar and rattle of a huge engine, and then a piercing
shriek from the steam-whistle—such a shriek, so shrill,
so wailing, that it sounds among the lone peaks of
the Rockies like the cry of some tortured spirit.
Snap's heart turned to stone in that awful minute,
as the red light rounded the bluff not a hundred
yards from the head of the bridge, and rushed towards
him. Then the blood came back to his cheek, and
the strength to his arm. Death was staring him in
the face. Unless he did something, he had not ten
seconds to live. He would have raced for the other
end of the bridge, but his brain was keener now than
ever in his life before, and he knew human speed
would avail him nothing in the time allowed him.
In another few seconds the cow-catchers would sweep
him off the track and hurl him down, down, rushing
through the ah over that narrow edge to the sharp,
wet rocks below. The rails themselves were so near
the edge of the bridge that a man could not stand
outside the rails and escape. The foot-board of the
train would sweep him down, or the wind from the
engine blow him into space. There was only one
thing to be done, and with a muttered prayer he did
it. Dropping on his knees in the middle of the track,
he seized a beam with both hands, lowered himself
through the opening, and hung by his hands, dangling over the depth below.   If he let go it meant
_J "■'■'I ■■
death. His muscles were strong, his grip desperate,
but could he hold on when the timbers rocked beneath
the great mass of wood and iron which was even now
upon them ?
It was all like a horrible nightmare. He could
see and hear everything so plainly, and think so
clearly and so fast. Far down below he heard a great
tree crack with the frost; looking up, he could see
the Texan steer stupefied with terror. Then the
bridge rocked and his hands almost lost then grip; a
blaze of lurid light flashed in his eyes and blinded
him ; a breath as of a furnace licked his face for one
moment and made him sick with horror ; two or
three great, bright sparks of fire dropped past him,
down, down, into the darkness ; there was a dull thud,
and a mass of broken limbs was shot out into the dark
night to fall with a faint splash into the river below;
and then the train had passed, and Snap hung there
still—saved from the very jaws of death.
Then, and not till then, the full horror of the.
thing came upon him. Then, and not till then,
pluck, and coolness, and strength deserted him. He
had held firm to the beam when it shook like a leaf in
the blast, now he tried to draw himself up and he could
not. He, Snap Hales, to whom the horizontal bar in
the gymnasium at school had been a favourite plaything, could not, to save his life, draw himself up to his
chin, and for a moment his fingers began to let go
and he thought of dropping down, that he might have
done with the struggle and be still.
Then he tried again. He felt that if he failed this
time he would never succeed afterwards ; his strength A NIGHT OF ADVENTURE 157
was all going fast, and inch by inch he dragged himself
up with desperate effort, until at last he lay with a
gasp half-fainting along the bars.
A long blood-curdling howl from somewhere in the
mist-filled gorge beneath brought him to himself.
Was it possible, he thought, that they had. smelt the
fresh blood already ? Only five seconds more of indecision—a little less strength to regain his position
upon the bridge—and his own shattered body might
have made a meal for those grim and hungry
scavengers! It was a horrible thought, and as he
stepped clear of those dangerous timbers Snap looked
up thankfully at the bright stars and beyond.
It was now dark save for the starlight; but that,
reflected from the snow, was already bright enough
to travel by. Later on, when the night was undisputed mistress of the earth, it would be light enough
to read a letter on the prairie.
Unfortunately for Snap, he was likely to see a
good deal of a Canadian winter night before he got
home to the cheerful fire in the ranche-house. Misfortunes, they say, never come singly. In this instance
the proverb was justified, for on looking for his pony
Snap found it had broken away from the tree to
which he had tied it, and had gone back towards
Snap was not only disgusted, but puzzled. A
tramp home after his recent experiences was not quite
what he would have chosen, and that the old ' Cradle'
should have played him such a trick passed his
Just then a cry which reverberated amongst the 158
great pines, and seemed to fill the forest with horror,
explained the mystery. It was the cry of the hungry
mountain lion seeking his prey by night. Snap
glanced at the pine to which his horse had been tied.
Yes, thank goodness, his rifle was there ! it had not
been strapped to his saddle; and as the boy got hold
of his weapon confidence returned to him. If only
he could get clear of the forest on to the open prairie
he had no fear of the cowardly, sneaking brute behind
He tried to sing as he walked, to show his confidence and scare the beast with the sound of the
human voice. But it was no good, he could not sing
in that forest. Its awful silence rebuked him: the
cold stars looked down, it seemed to him, in stony
scorn, and his voice seemed so little and. insignificant
amongst all these mighty children of mother Nature.
Now and again the ice upon some stream, or the
frozen limbs of some great tree, cracked like a loud
rifle-shot. All else was still, except now and again
for the voice of the red beast sneaking behind the boy.
somewhere in the shadows, still following, still afraid
to attack.
The silence and lifelessness of a North American
forest in winter is very impressive. The snow which
covers the ground is lighter than swansdown, drier
than sand. It falls unheard, it gives place to the foot
without a sound. The birds are gone, or if not gone
have hidden. The bear has made him a bed in some
hollow tree or cave, and sleeps silently in the silent
wood. The squirrel chatters no longer ; he, too, has
retired to his little granary in some hollow trunk. A NIGHT   OF ADVENTURE 159
The rabbit and the weasel are still restlessly wandering about as usual, but both have changed their coats,
and assumed a white covering to match the snows
amongst which they live. Almost everything sleeps:
trees in their robes of snow, the bear in his cave, the
streams in then bonds of ice; even the winds are
still.    Nothing stirs.
If you have ever made a long walk at night by
yourself over some lonely road or moor you may
know that feeling which grows upon you, that some
one is following you, that you can hear other footsteps than your own behind you. If this state of
mind occurs to those who walk alone in England,
where silence is really unknown and solitude impossible, where there are no mysteries (and very few, alas !
of the beauties) of nature left, you can imagine how
anxiously Snap kept gazing into the forest round and
behind him for the owner of that awful voice, about
which there could be no mistake, which was not the
mere creation of any fancy.
At last he could see the edge of the open prairie,
and, breaking into a run, he gained it. It was not a
wise thing to do, for if anything will encourage a wild
beast to attack, it is the appearance of flight in a
man. And so it was in this case. As Snap gained
the open he looked back, and as he did so, saw the
long snake-like figure of the mountain lion come in
long bounds across the snow.
As the boy faced about, the great reddish brute
paused for a moment, crouching, its belly almost on
the snow, for the last rush; its ears flattened back, its
yellow eyes ablaze with murder, and its white fangs 160
gleaming in the starlight. But a foe in the open can
always be tackled and fought outright, and the flash
of the good Winchester was redder than the anger in
the wild beast's eyes, and the sharp, clear ring of the
little rifle was a more unerring presage of death than
even the scream of the mountain lion.
Over and over the great beast rolled, dyeing the
snow with his blood, and Snap, standing beside him,
guessed him at a good ten feet six inches from the
tip of his snout to the tip of his tail.
Having skinned the panther (for in the West this
animal is called indifferently mountain lion, catamount, panther, and a good many more names), Snap
once more plodded homewards, utterly worn out with
fatigue and excitement.
The sound of his rifle had attracted the notice of
old Wharton, who now rode towards him, leading a
spare pony for his use. Although there was much to
tell, the two rode home almost in silence, for the spell
of the night was upon them, and, besides, their whole
minds were absorbed in the wonderful spectacle before
Suddenly great flames of rosy red had. risen from
behind the distant mountains, and reached like the
fingers of some great hand across the heavens. The
whole sky was full of the rosy light, the stars had
turned white and pale. The great spokes of flame
seemed to tremble with heat, like the hot ah round a
chimney on a day in June; then gradually they grew
paler and almost died out, only to flash out again
directly in brighter glory. It was the Aurora
Borealis ! ;*s»
IN  THE  WOOD mmmmmm 161
I must ask my readers to skip nine months or so,
during which time Snap's hands were full of the
varied work and sport of ranche life. It was just
before the autumn round-up, and he and Nares were
riding round the home ranche together. For a
moment or two Nares pulled up on a bluff from which
you could see far afield, and, looking out over his lands,
' I shall be sorry to leave it all,' he said,' but I
must, Snap ! You did not know that I had sold the
ranche ? '
' Sold the ranche! No, indeed ! But do you
mean it ?' replied Snap.
' Yes. This will be my last round-up, and I suppose I ought not "to grumble. I've got to go home
and look after the brewery at home. My brother's
health has broken down, and I am the only other man
fit for the work in the family. You know I learnt the
game before I took to ranching, and, as I've made
ranching pay, and sold the place and part of the herd
well, I, as I said before, ought not to grumble. But,'
he added after a while, ' I do. I shall leave my heart
at Rosebud.'
_J 162
m> i
i  ;
Then they touched their horses and rode on for a
' Do the boys know ?' asked Snap.
'No. I've told old Dick. He has known all
along. I shall tell the boys, all of them, before the
round-up, and of course I've made arrangements for
them to stay on with the new boss if they like,' replied
' What is Dick going to do ?' was the next question.
' Dick !' replied the cattle-baron; ' oh, Dick's an
old fool. He says he has had one boss, but he doesn't
mean to have another. He goes when I do. I think
if he had any capital he would set up in a small way
for himself. You see, if he takes his pay in cows, as
he very likely will do, he could start from here with a
little band of nearly fifty. And you, Snap, will stop
on, of course ?'
' I don't know. I don't think so,' replied the boy.
' I wonder '
' Wonder ! What do you wonder ? What is the
conundrum ?' asked Nares.
' Well, just this : if Dick goes, would he take me
along as a cowboy or junior partner, and would he
want two more boys who would be glad to work for
their grub ?'
' Two more boys!' cried Nares; ' why, where are
they coming from ? Are you and Dick going to take
all the boys off the ranche ? I
' No,' answered Snap; ' but I was just going to
show you this letter when you began about the sale
of the ranche,' and as he said so the boy drew a very FOUNDING  'BULL PINE' FIRM
bulky packet from his pocket. ' This,' he went on,
' I got yesterday from the two Winthrops, the fellows,
you know, who came out with me and stopped at
' I remember,' replied Nares; ' stopped with a
premium-snatcher, didn't they? Well, I suppose
they have got pretty well skinned ?'
' Pretty well,' replied his companion; ' but listen.
I'll not read their letter, but skim it for you. Frank
writes—he, you know, was the big one. He begins by
" climbing down," says I was right about not paying
a premium, and all that sort of thing; then he goes
on to tell his story, says that Jonathan Brown's ranche
was only 360 acres, all told, and his men—" foreman,
cowboys, helps, labourers, &c."—all lived under one
skin, and that a black one. One nigger did everything
until the Winthrops came, and when they came they
were expected to share the nigger's work, food, and
' Oh, come!' cried the boss, ' I call that playing
the game pretty low down! Did the Winthrops
stand that ?'
' Well, you see, Brown had the dollars, so what
could they do ?' replied Snap. ' Of course they slept
on the floor by themselves, but they had to do the
work. They learned to split rails and make a fence,
because Brown wanted his land enclosed. They
learned to "do chores '" because there was no one else
to do them; they helped to cut the corn, and were
kept at work at hay harvest until 9.30 p.m. more than
once. All this they bore unmurmuringly; but it
seems  old  Brown  tells everyone that they are his
u 2 SNAP
I nevvies," that he has got them there out of charity
to his sister, whose ne'er-do-weel childrjn they are,
and they don't like that; the old blackguard is always
drunk, and they don't like that. There is no ranching or farming in a large way for them to learn, and
they don't like that; and finally, though he has had
2001. premium and a year's labour out of them, he
won't even now give them as much as he gives the
nigger, and you bet they don't like that. So they
are coming out hereto look for work,' concluded Snap.
' The deuce, they are! Have they any money ?'
asked Nares.
' Not much, I should think; for, you see, they
have thrown away their premium.'
'Well, I'll tell you what you had better do, if
they are agreeable. Get old Dick to take you in as
working partners. The old boy is very fond of you,
and if you and the Winthrops could club together
four or five hundred pounds from home, now that
you have had some experience, and put it into a small
lot of cattle, it might suit old Dick; and if it suited
him, and this range of which he talks really exists,
it would be a first-rate chance for • you and your
friends. I'll let you have the cattle cheap,' Nares
Snap had been looking very anxious during this
conversation. Now his keen young face brightened.
He saw a chance for himself and his friends.
' But don't you think such an arrangement would
be rather unfair to Wharton ?' he asked.
'No, not a bit,' answered Nares stoutly. 'You
are a really good man about a ranche now, and those FOUNDING "BULL PINE' FIRM
two boys looked really likely lads, especially that big,
fair-haired fellow; and then, too, Wharton has no
capital worth speaking of.'
'I'll sound him anyhow, that can do no harm,'
was Snap's comment; ' the boys will be here in a day
or two.'
' Very well, if they are here when the round-up
is going on they can lend a hand about the camp
and make themselves useful, and after that you and
Wharton can go with them to find this ranche.' .
' Thanks,' replied Snap, and the man and boy
bent from their saddles and shook hands warmly.
If Nares was going to leave the Rosebud, Snap
was not going to stay. That at any rate was clear
to our hero's mind. More than that—if old Wharton
would only take him into his venture there was
nothing that he would like better. This, too, was
clear to Snap's mind.
At the first opportunity the boy sounded old
Wharton on the subject. He had not to beat about
the bush long.
' Why, lad,' the old fellow cried, ' that is just what
I was wanting to say to you, only I thought that the
life might be a bit too hard, and the profits come
mighty slowly; for you know,' he added, 'we must
keep putting the income into the herd for a good
many years before we draw anything out for ourselves.'
' Never mind that, Dick,' replied Snap; ' can you
do with my two friends ?'
' Well,' the old man answered, with anything but
a cheerful face,   'I  don't go much on tender-feet SNAP
myself, and I don't go for to say that I make a
specialty of home-reared aristocrats; but you say as
they'll work and have the dollars—I guess we mout
as well try 'em.'
And so that was settled. At last, after over a
year, Snap wrote home a request that 200Z. (half of
all he possessed in this world) might be put to his
credit at a Chicago bank, and advised the Winthrops
to do the same.
Although strongly prejudiced against tender-feet
as a class, Snap's friends were lucky enough to make
a very favourable impression at Rosebud from the
first, for, instead of driving over in a buggy from the
railway depot, Frank and Towzer trudged in on foot,
brown as berries, all then earthly goods in two small
bundles which they carried on then backs, and ten
dollars apiece in then pockets, earned by driving
cattle up from the South, earning money by coming
over two or three States on foot, instead of paying
money to come on the cars.
When they first landed in America, not much more
than a year before, the three lads who now stood,
shaking hands and laughing, at Rosebud were fair-
skinned, soft-handed lads, full of pluck, but looking
to others for advice. Now they were men—hard
and brown, with a quiet tone of decision in their
voices, knowing how hard a dollar is to earn, and
having some idea of the necessity of holding on to it
when earned.
Wharton confessed that he liked the look of them,
and the four set about making arrangements for their
journey at once. FOUNDING 'BULL PINE' FIRM 167
It seemed that years ago, when hunting in a range
of mountains to the west of Rosebud, Wharton had
been snowed up and obliged to winter in a certain
valley which he christened Bull Pine Park, because
it was surrounded by a number of Scotch firs, caUed
' bull pines' by the Yankees. Here, it seems, he noticed
that hundreds and thousands of deer came in to
winter, finding ample food and shelter in what was
a sheltered basin of enormous extent, full of sweet,
sun-dried, yellow grass, and protected by the shape of
the land and the timber. To the old man's eye it
was a type of what a range should be—a small range,
that is to say—and he had kept his own counsel and
waited until he had capital enough to stock his park
and start on his own account. His only doubt was
as to the Indians. True, he had seen none when
there, or he might never have come back; but the
valley was a long way from the frontier ranches, was
very full of game, and on the stream which watered
it he had noticed signs of what looked like a large
annual fishing-camp. It was Wharton's intention,
after the round-up, to revisit his valley with his three
partners, to carefully reconnoitre the feeding-grounds,
build a shanty, and, if possible, put up a corral, make
certain about the nature and disposition of his red-
skinned neighbours, and then, if all was satisfactory,
return to Rosebud and drive in his cattle in the
early spring.
Nares had given his old foreman leave to run his
cattle and half-a-dozen of Snap's with the Rosebud
herd until the spring, when the Bull Pine Firm, as
Snap proudly called it, would come over to Rosebud r:
and drive off about one hundred and twenty beasts
as the nucleus of then future herd.
During the round-up the two young Winthrops
won the good opinion of everyone by then reckless
riding, and still more by the songs they sang over the
camp fire at night. Towzer even had a banjo, the
parting present of Jumbo, Jonathan Brown's black
factotum, and with this he was kept uncommonly
busy all night, being excused all share in the cooking
arrangements in return for his music.
'Towzer, give us old Jumbo's own song,' said
Frank one night, when all the old favourites had
been sung more than once.
' Which ? ' asked Towzer, ' Jumbo had such a
varied repertoire.'
' Oh, the one for Saturday night, when Brown
came back drunk from the depot. You know,' he
added, turning to the rest, ' this old nigger used to
amuse himself by ridiculing his " boss" in nigger
melodies.    Play up, Towzer.'
So adjured, Towzer twisted his face into a suitable
grin, and sang:
Oh, massa! him feel sickly,
Oh, massa 'gwine to die.
Him feel so awful empty,
Him feel so awful dry.
Oh, den he take to whisky,
To whisky made from rye,
It make him feel so frisky,
It make him feel so spry.
Oh, den he chuckle fit to bust,
An' next he almos' cry.
Dat b how de whisky's in his nose, "
Pe water in his eye. FOUNDING 'BULL PINE'  FIRM
' Poor old Jumbo !' added Towzer, ' unless Brown
gets some more pups soon, I'm afraid he will have no
time for cultivating the Muses.'
' Oh, never fear for Jumbo,' replied Nares; ' as
long as there are papers to advertise in, and no way
of scourging these premium-snatchers for obtaining
money under false pretences, your friend Mr. Jonathan
Brown will have plenty of farm-pups, and Jumbo
plenty of unpaid ' helps.' SNAP
The round-up was over, and the boys had all gone to
their different ranges; Nares had left for England,
and outside the ranche-house stood half-a-dozen
ponies saddled and bridled, and tied up to the split-
rail fence of the corral. Two more, loaded with flour-
sacks, pots and pans, a sack of beans, and a side of
bacon, stood with them. - Amongst the ponies was
the old Cradle, and beside him Dick Wharton's
favourite horse. The Bull Pine Firm was just going
to start on its travels, and Texan and ' the Judge,' as
two of the other cowboys were caUed, had agreed to
accompany the expedition and bring back the ponies
after reaching the burnt-wood hills. Old Wharton
had determined only to take ponies thus far, except
for a couple of baggage-animals for which he carried
feed, as by so doing the party would be able to make
a short cut through a grassless and difficult mountain
As the party stood round, drinking a stirrup-cup
to old Wharton's success, Texan was heard to remark:
' Say! this pison's pretty strong.'
' What's the matter with the pison, Texan ? What
in thunder air you grumbling at now?' said the
Judge.    ' I reckon it's pretty good rye, anyways.' BEARS 171
' Well, pard, I ain't going to quarrel with the rye;
but I ain't drunk, am I ? There's no skim milk got
into my boots yet, is there ? ' asked Texan.
' Wal, no,' replied his friend, ' but what are you
driving at ?'
' Thet's it,' replied Texan, pointing straight overhead, ' but if I didn't think that it must be the
"tangle-legs" that done it, I'd say that theer were a
balloon.   It ain't an eagle, anyway.'
They all looked up, and sure enough far overhead
was a big round bubble, as it were, floating rapidly to
the north-west. There was no doubt about it. By
using then glasses they could even distinguish the
car of the balloon, but even Snap's glasses (the best
of the lot) could help them no further than that.
They could not make out any figure in the car.
' I guess it's a runaway balloon from Chicago or
St. Paul,' said Wharton, ' and lucky no one's in it,
too. I wish I had the dollars that toy cost, but
I reckon no one will ever catch it this side the
For a time they stood watching this ship of the
sky drifting ever further and further from then sight,
and rising, it seemed to them, ever higher and higher
above the earth. At last it faded altogether from
then sight, and the sky looked as calm and unruffled
as if no lost bark had ever rushed through it.
' It's going our way,' said Wharton, 'pretty straight.
I wonder, now, if those superstitious Johnnies one
meets sometimes would call that a lucky or an unlucky omen ?' •
' A deuced unlucky one,' said Snap, 'if it makes 172
us stand here talking and star-gazing any longer.
We've got fifty miles between us and our night camp.
Let's skip!'
It was a formidable little party which left the
ranche that day. Of course, Snap and Wharton and
the two Winthrops were armed for a winter campaign.
Each carried a Winchester repeating-rifle, and old
Wharton would not part with his six-shooter. The
boys, not having been brought up to the use of six-
shooters, wisely contented themselves with their rifles.
Then two companions were also armed with rifles,
intending to do a little hunting to supply the ranche
with fresh meat on the way home.
For the first few miles the pack-animals were
hurried along briskly, partly because everyone's spirits
were too high to brook of a slower pace, and partly in
order to give those cunning beasts no chance of
returning to the home-ranche. In spite, however,
of all precautions, and the careful arrangement of a
diamond hitch by Texan, one of the ponies managed
to get rid of his pack in the first mile. On starting,
this animal, a sorrel, had appeared as fat as a
brewer's horse, and, in spite of Texan's slaps and
kicks, in spite of his knee planted firmly against its
barrel, whilst both his strong hands tugged at the
lash-rope, the sorrel's waist refused to contract an
inch. Once he was fairly on his way, his corpulence
vanished as if by magic. With both heels in the air,
he shot through his drivers, plunged amongst some
timber, dived under a fallen tree which lay across the
path about three feet from the ground, left part of his
load here—frying-pans without their handles, and BEARS
kettles with their sides squeezed in—and then with a
roll, a squeal, and a final kick left pack and pack-
saddle on the track, and departed homewards.
' Guess it ain't much good following that beast,'
said Wharton. ' If you don't mind, Snap, your old
Cradle is about the only horse in this outfit that will
carry a pack, and if you'll let us pack the load on
him you can ride my pony.    I'll tramp it.'
' Not a bit of it, Wharton,' replied Snap, ' I'm the
youngest.    I'll walk.'
'Well, we'll walk and ride in turns,' said the old
man. ' I don't know that there is much more fun in
riding a walking horse in this timber than in tramping it yourself.'
This being arranged, the Cradle took up the load,
Snap congratulating himself that by this arrangement
his old favourite would go with him all the way to
winter quarters.
Upon the second evening the party camped early.
You soon tire of beans and bacon, especially when
you can see signs of deer on all sides, and the river
looks alive with fish.
At three our friends came to an excellent little
prairie of half-a-dozen acres, all bright and green
with grass. Round this little forest oasis stood tah
bull pines, and across the river, which was within a
stone's throw of the camping-ground, the belt of burnt-
wood, at which Texan and the Judge were to turn
back, commenced,
'I'll tell you what, Dick,' said Texan, 'it won't do
to cross the river to-night. We'll say good-bye right
here to-morrow morning, and some of us can just run W
round about and see if we can get any venison for
dinner, whilst the others fix the camp. I'll do the
camp-fixing myself, if you like. Who else will
volunteer ?'
Of course everyone said that they would stop and
fix the camp; but eventually it was arranged that
Wharton and the Judge should take one beat to the
west of the camp, while Snap, with young Towzer
under his wing, should go towards the east; the other
two staying in camp.
The youngest Winthrop begged so hard to go that
Snap took compassion on him, although he would
infinitely rather have gone out alone.
The course which Snap and Towzer took led them
along a fair-sized stream, which joined the main river
not far from camp. Towzer had on his first pair of
mocassins, and, as the forest was open and the boy
light, he made very little noise as he went. Now and
then, though, you might have seen him flinch and
almost come down with an expression of agony upon
his face. He had not yet learnt to feel with his feet,
as it were, before putting them down, and had suddenly
thrown all his weight on some sharp-pointed snag
of dead wood, or merciless flint, which reminded him
that an English shooting-boot, although noisy, has
its advantages.
Stooping down by the river, Snap looked long and
fixedly at a track.
' The cattle have been along here, haven't they,
Snap ? ' asked Towzer. ' Whose cattle would they
be ?'
' Cattle don't eat fish, as a rule, Towzer,' replied BEARS 175
Snap in a whisper, for some of the tracks were pretty
fresh; ' and look here, the beasts which made these
tracks picked these bones,' and, so saying, he held up
the backbone of a large salmon, picked as clean as if
it had been prepared as an anatomical specimen.
All along the bank of the stream a regular road
was beaten down, one track on another, until at last
all was so confused and level that Towzer's mistake
was an easy one to make. But on one side of the
main path Snap had been able to distinguish a few
distinct and separate tracks, and it was as he looked
up from one of these that he said:
' No, these aren't cattle, young 'un; these are
bears, and a rare big gang of them, too.'
Towzer's first expression of delight rather faded
away as he looked behind and round him, where the
great bull pines stood grey and silent on all sides,
and the further you peered into them the darker
looked the gloom of the forest. It was not a pleasant
idea that the gloomy, quiet forest might be full of
unseen grizzlies.
' Are they grizzlies, do you think, Snap ?' asked
the boy.
' Can't say for certain,' replied that now experienced hunter, 'but I expect there are some of all
sorts about. You see the river is full of salmon,
which have run up to spawn, and the bears are down
here for the fishing season.'
Leaving the river, Snap and his friend crossed two
or three deep dingles, or, as they would call them in
America, little canyons, and in half an hour's time were
creeping very cautiously along the brow of a ridge SNAP
through the big trees, on which the light of the sun
gleamed redly. That sun was now low in the skies,
and every moment Snap expected to catch sight of a
stately stag tossing his head and leading his hinds in
single file from the timber to the feeding-grounds.
Halloo,' whispered he, suddenly holding up his
hand as a sign for silence to Towzer, ' what is the
matter with the robber-birds ?'
ToWzer listened. A lot of birds just over the
ridge were chattering noisily, like jays in an English
covert when the beaters are coming through. Snap
signed to the boy to follow, and both crept cautiously
to the top of the ridge.
On the very top was a kind of table-land, and,
looking through the trees with then backs to the sun,
neither of our friends could see anything. Creeping
back again, Snap ran along the hill and came up to the
top of the ridge again in such a position as to have
the noisy jays between himself and the sinking sun.
For a moment he could still see nothing. Then a
stick cracked under his companion's foot, and the
quick movement of a dark mass in amongst the pines
caught and arrested his attention. He had never
seen a' grizzly before, but he needed no one to tell
him what the great brute was before him, with its
whole body on the alert to detect the source of the
sound it had heard.
The 'sun threw a red glow on the scene, which
looked like blood about the body of the deer on which
the grizzly was feeding. The brute had his claws on
his victim's shoulder, from which he was tearing
strips of flesh as he lay muttering and growling by BEARS
its side. As the twig cracked he rose and sat looking
over his shoulder in the direction from which the
sound came.
Snap remembered old Wharton's words as he
looked at the bear : ' Thet's about his favourite position
when he once glimpses you, and don't know whether
to come or go; but don't you shoot then, there's
nothing to hit but his jaw or his shoulder, and you
won't kill him quick enough to be safe that way.'
Remembering these words, Snap kept his hand off
his rifle and waited until the bear should give him a
better chance; but before this happened there was
a report, which deafened our hero, right by his ear ;
the bear spun round with a roar, and then stood
tearing at the ground and tossing the earth in the
air in a paroxysm of rage.
Snap hardly dared to breathe, but if his words
were inaudible his lips seemed to say to the reckless
youngster beside him, ' Keep still for your hfe, he
may not see you.'
Neither of the boys was well hidden—in fact, Snap
was not hidden at all; but by remaining rigid, as if he
was cut out of stone, the short-sighted beast did not
distinguish him from the pines around him. Luckily,
too, he did not notice i£& smoke curling from Towzer's
To the boys the bear was plain enough with his
back to the sunlight; but they themselves were in
' Good heavens, there's another !' cried Towzer,
in a whisper so audible that the huge, shaggy beast
which the unfortunate boy had wounded dropped on
I ■■
all fours and came a dozen yards towards them,
stopping again with his sharp, fierce snout in the air,
trying to catch the wind of his unseen enemies.
At that moment Snap gave all up as lost, for not
only had he seen the bear which had drawn the
exclamation from Towzer, but he had seen two other
great grey forms amongst the timber on his right.
Gripping the boy's arm with nervous hand, he drew
him down beside him:
' Towzer, is there any tree on your left that you
could get up in less than ten seconds to save your life ?'
Snap's white-drawn face showed that he was in
earnest, and Towzer looked desperately round. Like
Snap, he had spent many a half-holiday at Fernhall
birds' -nesting, and with climbing-irons to help him
there were very few trees which he could not have
climbed in time; but to climb a tree in ten seconds
for your life is quite another matter.
' There, there's the best,' cried Snap out loud,
pointing to a young bull pine with a lot of short
stumps of branches not far from the ground. Of
course, they might break off, and then it would be only
a bare pole to swarm; but it was the smallest tree,
and the best chance, for all that.
' Now run,' shouted Snap, ' run for your life, and
don't look back,' and as he spoke he pushed the boy
from him and jumped up.
With a roar that sounded like a curse, it was so
human in its rage, the bear saw both boys, and half
turned towards the running figure. In that moment
Snap's rifle rang out and the bear rolled over.
He knew, without looking, that the others had seen BEARS 179
him; and one was charging straight at him, while with
low, angry growls the other two had trotted into the
open. A glance showed him Towzer halfway up his
tree. And yet all this was seen at once without an
effort, whilst all his strength and attention was
devoted to pumping, up another cartridge into his
Winchester repeater.
' There is only one fault in these excellent weapons,
and that is a terrible onei In some of the old-fashioned
commoner rifles of this sort the cartridges occasionally get jammed. This had happened now to Snap.
His rifle had jammed, the empty cartridge would not
come out, and there he stood defenceless with a charging bear almost on the top of him.
Grasping the barrel with both hands, he had just
time to hurl the useless weapon with all his strength
at the head of the grizzly and spring to one side. He
had a glimpse of a devilish head, with ears laid back,
and fiery eyes, and long white fangs gleaming from a
shaggy mass of grey fur, going over him at railroad
speed. Instinctively he had rolled away as he fell, as
a rider rolls from a fallen horse, and the pace of the
bear's charge and the downward slope of the ground
had taken the heavy beast past the prostrate boy.
In a moment Snap was on his legs again, and,
dodging behind the first tree he came to, he scrambled
up it.
' Hurry, Snap, hurry!' shrieked Towzer in a
voice of agony, and just as our hero drew up his foot
he heard a snort almost against his heel, and a tearing sound as a great flake of bark was torn from the
stem of the pine by the claws of the bear.
N 2 sm
It was a sight to make any man's flesh creep
which met the boy's eyes when he looked down from
a point of safety some twenty feet up the pine. Reared
on end, his huge claws stretching upwards, his red
jaws open, muttering and moaning after the prey
which had escaped him, one of the bears leaned
against the pine to which Snap clung. Two others,
growling from time to time, prowled round and round
the foot of the tree, and in the middle of the little
plateau the wounded bear kept up a succession of
moans and growls as it struggled to its feet and fell
back again time after time, dying, but bent on vengeance still.
Towzer was safe in his tree. Snap's rifle lay
broken on the ground, and Towzer's with a dozen
undischarged cartridges in it lay not far from the
wounded bear. ' Ah!' Snap thought, ' if I only had
that here !' Towzer, of course, in his desperate flight
had thrown away his arms. Even had he had a
sling to his rifle it would hardly have been possible
to climb with it, and without a sling, and with a
grizzly's teeth and claws behind, Towzer did well to
drop his weapon and trust to speed and Snap's self-
' Snap,' Towzer called from his tree, ' I don't think
much of this. I can't hold on very long. Are those
brutes likely to wait long ? '
' All night, I should think,' replied Snap.
This seemed too much for Winthrop, and a silence
ensued; the boys clinging desperately to their uncomfortable perches, and the bears prowling up and
down like sentries on then beat.
iiiiaia*HMi BEARS 181
This went on for nearly an hour, and there was
no change, and seemed likely to be none. The sun's
last red glow was on the forest floor; the uncertain
light made the great grey forms which went so silently
backwards and forwards look even more horrible and
monstrous to the eyes of their hapless victims, but
two at any rate of the three were still on guard.
' Let's try a shout for help,' said Towzer; ' all
together, Snap!'
' Coo-ey! coo-ey !' cried the boys, and as they cried
the great grey forms paused in their silent walk, and
sent a chorus of hollow growls to swell the sound.
Other growls from the forest shadows, too, told the
boys that, though they could only see the wounded
bear and another, the others were not far off.
By-and-by the moon rose, and a silver light
showed the scene in new and horrible distinctness.
The one bear was dead. Stark and stiff he lay by his
last victim, and silver light and ebon shadow were
distributed evenly over the bodies of bear and stag,
murderer and murdered.
A breaking bough and a quick scraping sound
broke the silence.
' By Jove, that was a shave !' panted Towzer's
young voice.
' What are you at, you little idiot ? ' cried Snap.
' Jolly nearly fell out of this tree,' replied the boy.
' Went to sleep, I suppose ?' said Snap in a tone
of disgust.
' I don't know a"bout that,' said Towzer, in a
piteous tone, ' but I cannot hold on to these clothesr
pegs much longer.' i*
The clothes-pegs were the short stumps of boughs
to which the boy had been clinging.
'Snap, couldn't we make a fight of it? I want
my supper,' added Towzer, ' and there's only one bear
now  '
I How are we to fight ? I've got no rifle, and without that you are more likely to satisfy the bear's
appetite than your own,' replied Snap.
' Well, I'll tell you what,' said the reckless youngster, ' I can't Btay up here all night if you can, and, if
you are game to come down and try for that rifle,
I am.'
' How do you mean ? The bear would get you
before you could get to it. Look at him watching
you now. Nice, pleasant face for a photograph, hasn't
he ?' added Snap.
In spite of the danger and the eeriness of the whole
thing, Towzer laughed as he saw the great brute
sitting half upright on its hams, its ears cocked sharply
up to listen.
' I don't suppose the old brute will understand
English,' said Towzer, ' so look here ! My tree is an
easy one to get up. I can almost swing myself out of
a bear's reach from the ground. If you will be ready
I'll come down and draw the brute after me. Whilst
he hunts me to my tree you dash in and get my rifle.
If you are quick and lucky you'll get back before he
twigs you. Why, it will be just like prisoner's base,
when we were first-form boys at the Dame's school.
' Yes,' muttered Snap, ' with our lives for forfeit
if we are caught! Well, all right, Towzer,' he cried
aloud, ' are you sure you can get back safely ?'
' Yes, never mind me,' sang out Towzer; ' look
And, sliding down, the boy just touched the
ground, and as the bear rose swung himself back
again, chuckling, ' Don't you wish you may get it ?'
' All right, then, if you have made up your mind
let us do it now; give me a moment to slide down
close to the ground,' shouted Snap ; ' keep the bear
looking at you for a moment.'
' All right,' answered the young 'un, rattling about
amongst the bushes with his leg as he hung from the
lowest bough of his tree.
The bear was up, and coming slowly towards
Towzer, growling horribly. The boy's blood ran cold,
but he had given his word to Snap, and he did not
mean to go back.
' Now!' shouted Snap.
At the cry the bear turned round towards Snap,
and as he did so Towzer dropped to the ground and
ran forward into the open with a shout.
For a moment the bear hesitated, then, with a
roar that shook the pines, dashed at him. Towzer
turned, and never in all his life, not even when he
made his celebrated ' run-in' for the school-house
with the football under his arm, did he go so fast or
dodge so nimbly as he did that night.
As Towzer turned, Snap's lithe figure slipped
noiselessly through the moonlight, and, not daring to
look at anything else, dashed straight at the rifle.
Did the dead bear move, or was it only fancy ?
Fancy, surely! And now he had his hand on the
rifle  and turned to  see  a ghastly  sight.    Towzer
— 184
stretched up at his bough and missed it. The bear
was just behind, there was no time for another effort,
and the boy was driven past his one chance of safety.
Catching at the trunk of a big bull pine, Towzer
swung round it, dodged the bear, and once more tried
for his tree. This time he reached the bough, but
even then, blown as he was, the bear must have
reached and pulled him down, had not a ball from
Snap's rifle broken the brute's spine as he reared up
on end to make his attack.
Utterly spent, Towzer dropped back beside the
bear and staggered across to where Snap still lay, his
rifle resting on the body of the first bear, from behind
which he had just fired. Together the boys sat and
looked at one another, too shaken and tired to speak.
At last, Towzer, looking anxiously round, said,
' Those others won't come back, will they ?'
' I don't know; if they do, I hope they will put us
out of our misery quickly. I didn't know that I had
any nerves before, but they are jumping like peas in
a frying-pan to-night.    Let's go.'
And very cautiously they went, creeping through
the dim aisles of the forest, starting at every sound,
and far more frightened at the meeting than was
even the big stag which met them face to face just
before they got clear of the timber. They never even
thought of firing at him, although he was so fan a
shot, and his great! sides shook with inches of fat,
until the camp-fire shone through the trees, and then
it was too late to remember that they had gone out
for venison and come back without any.
' Well, Towzer, I suppose we must put up with
mmwm BEARS
beans and bacon again to-night—unless,' with a grin,
' you'd care to go down and catch us a salmon, or
fetch a steak from the dead stag up there,' said Snap,
pointing back over his shoulder.
But Towzer had had enough sport for one day,
and did not volunteer ; and, indeed, it was not necessary, for the others had killed a hind, and the boys
told then story in short, broken sentences, with a
savoury rib in one hand and a pannikin of tea in the
other. They almost thought bear-shooting good sport
by the time they had finished supper.
mm IW
: Hi
That was a very beautiful camp and a merry night,
that last night with the cowboys from Rosebud. The
fire they had made was what they called a nor'-wester.
Timber was plentiful—to be had, indeed, for the felling
—and the men left in camp had found it better fun to
swing an axe than to do nothing. So whole trees lay
across the fire, and huge tongues of flame kept leaping
out and shooting into the darkness. Every now and
then a log broke, and the ends fell in with a crash,
the flames roared more fiercely than ever, and a
shower of red sparks went away on the wind.
The men left in camp, being in a luxurious mood'
and having lots of time on their hands, had run up a
shelter of boughs—two great props and a crosspiece,
with-a lot of underbrush sloping from this ridge-pole
to the ground. Under this, with then feet to the fire,
lay the men smoking.
' Wal, Dick,' said the Judge, ' I reckon I don't
owe you no grudge. You've been a good pal to us,
and I hope, mate, you'll strike it rich where you're
' Them's my sentiments to a dot,' said Texan,
' and if those boys of yourn don't get their har raised
by grizzly or Injun before they're six months older,
I shouldn't be much surprised if you made cowboys
of them.'
' Thank you, Texan, old chap,' laughed Snap. ' If
you don't do anymore mining amongst those gopher-
holes before I come back, I'll bet you my best saddle
that the Cradle and I lick your head off at any distance
you like on old " Springheels." '
The laugh, for a moment, went against Texan,
for in the round-up just over it was commonly stated
as a fact that, whilst riding at full pace down a hill
after cattle, his pony had put its foot in one gopher-
hole and shot its owner into another, from which,
five minutes later, he was extracted by a comrade,
who said that he had found Texan ' growing anyhow,
just planted root up'ards in a gopher-hole!'
' There's one thing agin you, Dick, and that's the
weather,' remarked the Judge; ' for all it's so fine
now, I don't half like that fringe round the moon.'
' No, it does look watery, doesn't it ?' said old
Dick, looking up; '.but, hang it all, don't let us croak.
Hand me another of those fish, Snap, if you can spare
one. Bust me! if you don't eat half-pound trout as
if they was shrimps,' he added.
' There's summat I'm thinking,' said Texan after
a pause, ' that's worse nor weather. I don't want to
croak, Dick, but air you sure about them Injuns ? I
kem acrost their fishing-camp to-day, and there isn't
a soul in it. Do you calculate as they're on the warpath?'
J Not they !' replied Dick; ' a Crow won't face
a Blackfoot nowadays, and, unless they're stealing SNAP
horses or killing cattle, they aren't doing any harm,
you bet.'
' How! '
It was a sound between a human voice and a dog's
bark, sharp, hoarse, and guttural, and it appeared to
proceed from the ground under Snap's seat. Snap
was round as if a wasp had stung him. There had
been no sound behind the camp-fire; no dry twig had
cracked, no leaf rustled; and yet there was this sudden
' How !' and behind Snap stood, stiff and silent, a tall,
grim-looking Redskin.
A sort of pointed hat of rush was on his head,
through the band of which an eagle's plume had been
stuck; round his shoulders was a bright-coloured
blanket, and wide trousers of deer-skin, with long
fringes of the same down the seams, reached to his
'Not a beauty,' Snap thought, and he moved a
little uneasily away from the stranger, who stood
quietly staring at the group.
The Indian was certainly not a beauty, even for
an Indian. His hair was sleek and black—' snaky '
Towzer called it. His eyes were small and set close
together in a big bull-like head, and he was hare-
lipped. His face, too, was full of lines and wrinkles.
He was as old as the hills apparently, but old as the
oaks grow old—strong and rugged, and nowhere near
being worn out.
' How!' said Dick, and he rose and gave the
chief his hand, and offered him a seat on his blanket,
which he took.
'Do you  speak English?'   asked  Snap as  the IN THE BRULE
Indian sat beside him, but the only answer he got
was a stony stare.
' I guess he does, for all that,' whispered Texan ;
' these beggars never let on how much they know.
Say, Dick, you talk then lingo; ask him where he
comes from.'
So adjured, old Dick Wharton supplied his guest
with fish, bread, and tea, all of which he took without
a word, and then Dick began to question him.
The Indians had broken up then fishing-camp,
the Redskin said; then medicine-man had advised
them to. Oh, yes, it was a good season, and there
were lots of fish there yet, but the medicine-man
had seen a bird, and the tribe could not stay any
' Seen a bird !' cried old Wharton ; ' well, I reckon
he sees a good many birds in a day; but what kind
of a bird was this to frighten the whole tribe from
fishing and gambling ? '
' The tribe was not frightened, 0 white-skin,'
replied the Indian with dignity; ' but they knew that
the bird which Teeveevex saw was the bird of doom,
which preys on the tribes of men, and the Crows have
hidden until the danger is passed.'
' But what sort of a bird is the bird of doom ? '
persisted Wharton.
' Only Teeveevex has seen it,' replied the chief,
' but its white wings are as the clouds which contain
the rain-storms, and it rushes through the sky like a
star falling from its throne.'
' Bunkum!' muttered Texan, and, low as he
muttered it, a spark seemed suddenly to kindle and as 190
suddenly to die out in the watchful eye of the savage.
' I'll bet the Blackfeet are going to have a lively time
of it, unless they're going to do a bit of horse-stealing
at Rosebud.'
' What is the name by which the braves call you ?'
asked Wharton.
' The men call me the Great White Rabbit,' replied
the chief proudly.
' Not a bad name either for a hare-lipped one,'
muttered Frank.
The Indian could not have understood what was
meant, but he saw the smile, and gave Frank one of
his ugly looks.
That sturdy young Englishman stared coolly at
him, remarking to Snap, ' It's an engaging young
thing when it's pleased, isn't it, Snap ? And, oh Lord,
what a mouth for a fish dinner!' he added as the
savage filled up the vacuum between his jaws with
about half a pound of trout.
' Ask him how old he is,' said Snap, and Wharton
repeated the question.
The chief thought for a moment, and then held up
five fingers solemnly.
' Oh, you be hanged !' cried Towzer. ' Why, the
beggar's laughing at us. A nice, tender, five-year-old
you are, aren't you, my beauty ?' And the boys
laughed in concert.
' He is right enough, though,' said Wharton; 'with
these chaps each finger stands for ten, and I don't
suppose that he is more than fifty.'
After eating everything which the whites had left,
and begging for a charge or two of powder, the cow- IN THE BRULE
boys' visitor got up and left without a word either of
thanks or adieu.
' Well,' said Towzer, ' that twopence which I presume our friend's mamma, Mrs. Doe Rabbit, spent
on her son's manners doesn't appear to have been a
good investment.'
' Lord bless you, you don't expect thanks from an
Injun, do you ?' remarked Wharton; ' like enough
that chap will put a ball in you if he gets a chance,
and I should be very much surprised if either of your
grizzlies has its hide on to-morrow. If it has, old
Buck Rabbit, or whatever he calls himself, won't be
to blame, you bet!'
And sure enough, when Snap and Texan went up
next morn (rather late, it is true), both bear-skins
had gone, and the place, so Texan said, ' stunk of
When Snap and Texan got back without their
bear-skins old Wharton had the ponies packed, and
' the Judge' had made all preparations for a start.
' So Buck Rabbit got those skins, did he ? ' asked
Wharton. 'Well, I'll forgive him, whatever Snap
says, if that's all the hah he raises this fall.'
'Yes, you may say that,' Texan added grimly.
' I've been here some while now, but I never knowed
those Crows give up then summer gamble, and bust
me if I think they'll feel inclined to lie idle now that
they have been skeered out of their fishing-camp.'
' That being so,' said Dick, ' it seems to me you
mout as well lead them off our trail a bit. Don't let
them sight you between this and Rosebud, and maybe,
if Buck Rabbit didn't count the horses, he'll tbink, 192
when he sees the trail of all them ponies, that we've
all gone back to Rosebud.'
' And how about Rosebud, Dick ? ' asked Texan.
' Oh, I reckon Rosebud can look after itself, leastways it could when I was theer,' replied the old
foreman; and Texan and the Judge nodded approvingly, and murmured with emphasis ' You bet!'
' Then you'll be back in spring for the cows ?'
asked Texan.
' Well, we'll do our possible,' replied Wharton,
busy with the Cradle's lash-rope; ' if we don't turn
up you'll understand that we're wiped out, and " the
boys " can divide my band amongst 'em.'
' The boys won't none of 'em hanker after their
share of that band, Dick,' replied Texan, shaking the
old man's hand.    ' Good luck to you !'
' So long!' cried the Judge. ' Keep your eyes
skinned at night, pard!'
And with the bell of the leading pack-animal
tinkling merrily the two boys, and all the ponies save
the Cradle and another, disappeared among the trees
on the back track.
Dick and the boys stood looking along the trail for
some time after then friends were out of sight. Now
and again they could hear the bell or a cry from
Texan or the Judge to one of the self-willed ponies,
but by degrees they passed out of earshot as out of
' I guess we'd better tramp,' said Dick, turning to
the three young Englishmen, over whom a certain
sense of loneliness had been stealing.
For the first time they realised what this adven- 1
ture meant. They saw now' that for the next four
months at any rate they were entirely dependent upon
then own efforts for aU the necessaries of life. They
were only four men, armed and strong, it is true,
isolated among the great things of Nature—mountains
and forests, and by-and-by ice and snow and tempest—and cut off from railways and the civilised woirld,
and bound to die if they could not find food and make
shelter for themselves. Old Dick, used all his life
to depend on his own rightf hand for everything he
wanted, probably only felt a bit of a wrench at parting from his old comrades and saying good-bye to his
old position of foreman.
The boys felt a good deal more than that. Those
two rough-riders, driving their string of pack ponies
before them, were to them the world, or at any rate
then last glimpse of it.
'You had better lead "the Cradle," Snap,' cried
Wharton, ' but I reckon we'll all have to swim at the
ford.   Your friends can swim, I suppose ? '
' Like fish, Dick,' replied Frank for himself and
' Come on, then,' said the old man, and with a
long, swinging stride the four started on then hundred-
mile walk.
All four were in mocassins, flannel shirts, and
pants of blue jean. On their heads they wore the
usual cowboy hat, a wide light-coloured sombrero.
Snap carried his rifle, as the best shot of the party,
but the others had tied then rifles with their coats and
blankets on the pack-animals' backs.
The river when they reached it was not as full as
o Irfiffl
Wharton had expected, still for a few paces in the
middle horses and men had to swim.
As they stood shaking themselves on the further
bank, Towzer looked ruefully at his own draggled
appearance and remarked:
jelieve I've got my stockings wet!    Don't you
think, Frank, mother would like us to change them ?'
There was a laugh among the boys, and then as
they tramped through the grimy, burnt forest, with its
charred stumps and black, leafless branches, then
thoughts went back to Fairbury.
The thought acted on the different natures differently. Towzer felt inclined to sit down and cry, and,
as that would not do at any price, he began to whistle
an old nigger-minstrel melody. A hard, dogged expression came into Frank's face. He would rather
have been squire of Fairbury, but he meant to do his
duty here all the same. And Snap ! well, Snap's eyes
lit up, and his head was very high in the ah. He
didn't know that he was leading a pack pony, and that
old Wharton was wondering why the boy's eyes looked
so bright and moist. Snap didn't see the -grey old
forest, or think of the years of daily labour, but he
saw a bright picture with two sides to it: on the one
a wide stretch of country dotted everywhere with
cattle which bore his brand, and on the other the
steps of the old hall at Fairbury, and the Winthrops,
dear old Admiral Chris, and the little mother; Fairbury
had been bought back, and that sweet, grey-haired
woman had her hand in his, and was saying, ' I
trusted you, Snap, all along; I knew my brown boy
would go straight.' IN THE BRULE
Well, it was a dream, and Snap an optimist and a
bit of a poet, and perhaps in nine cases out of ten
such dreams only lead to disappointment; but if you
are prepared to meet with disappointment, a beautiful
dream is no bad thing to beguile a long march.
The country through which the boys were now
travelling was as desolate and uncanny as anything
which the world can show. They were crossing a belt
of forest between the forks of a great stream, one arm
of which they crossed in the morning. Between the
two streams a great fire had raged some years ago,
and range after range of rolling hills lay before them
covered with tall trees charred to a cinder, yet standing
upright still—grey, unburied skeletons of the past.
In some places a tree which had once been nearly two
hundred feet in height still reared a great grey spire
towards heaven, and yet a few yards from the grouncr
you could see that fire and weather between them had
eaten the trunk almost through, so that its balance
alone seemed to keep it upright. All through the
brule, as this burnt forest is called, the trails are
blocked hy fallen timber. At every breeze a score of
them come crashing down, and hardly a minute goes
by without a snap like a rifle-shot to remind you that
it is merely by an interposition of Providence that
each of the great pines along your path has not fallen
upon you as you passed. The difficulty of getting
pack animals through a forest of this kind is considerable, although they will jump and crawl like cats; and
the walking is weary work even for the strongest man,
where at one moment you have to balance along the
stem of a fallen pine, or climb over a log ten feet high,
o 2 2**^
and the next have your pants caught by the point of
a sharp rampike which tears them to shreds and
perhaps takes a foot or two of skin with it.
' I am afraid Texan was right,' said Dick as they
plodded along, while the sun was setting slowly in the
west, 'those clouds are coming up uncommon fast,
and it's main dark for three o'clock.'
Winthrop was leading ' the Cradle,' and Towzer
was walking alongside of him, and when Dick spoke
he spoke to Snap, who had fallen a bit behind.
' Don't you agree, Snap ?' he said after a pause,
and as no answer came he looked round.
' HuUoh ! Why, where in thunder have you got
to ?' he cried. ' Here! hold on there in front.
Where's Snap ?'
The boys pulled up and looked round. Not five
minutes before they had seen him; now, though they
could see plainly amongst the grey, bare poles, there
was no sign of him.
' Snap ! hi, Snap!' they cried; and faint and far',
away an echo seemed to say ' halloa.'
' Was that an answer ?' said Dick; ' here, dang
your skin, hold up there,' he added, giving ' the
Cradle' an angry dig in the ribs, to induce that
animal to stop pawing the ground and snorting.
' Now shout agin, Frank, and mebbe this brute
will let us hear if he answers.'
' Snap ! halloa, halloa there, Snap !' cried Frank,
and again from far away came an answering halloa,
very feeble and faint, but still recognisable as Snap's
' Why, he's underground,' said Towzer. IN THE BRULE
' Yes, I reckon he is,' said Dick; ' I hope he ain't
much hurt.'
' Why, do you know where he is ? ' asked both
' Not exactly, but if you'll give me thet lash-rope
we'll, maybe, find him pretty soon. It's lucky we
missed him so soon,' he added.
Turning back, the old man walked along the trail,
calling Snap by name from time to time, the answer
getting plainer as he advanced, but still proceeding
apparently from somewhere under their feet.
' Here he is,' remarked Wharton at last, ' and a
pretty dark hole it is, too. Are you hurt any, Snap?'
he inquired, leaning over a log and looking down on
the other side.
'No, I'm all right,' said the voice, 'but I can't
get out.'
' Lay hold of that,' replied Wharton, lowering the
rope, ' and we'll pretty soon haul you out.'
When the Winthrops came up this was what met
then gaze. The whole floor of the forest was composed of fallen trees and dead logs, in most cases
overgrown with moss and bushes, which in their turn
had been burnt or scorched. For centuries the trees
had grown and fallen, rotted or refused to rot, and
over them the fresh forest had grown, until in many
cases they formed a solid soil of rotted wood and
debris. Here and there, however, where a few great
trees had fallen and had not yet rotted, a thin crust,
as it were, of boughs and soil and debris had formed
above, and through such a crust as this Snap had
tumbled into what Towzer called the basement of the
— 198
3 f.
forest, a dark, damp, underground hollow, in which in
places you could travel upright for thirty or forty
yards under a bridge of fallen timber. Out of a
place of this kind Snap was hauled, very black and
grimy, and as hoarse as a crow with shouting, but
otherwise unhurt.
'We had better push on at once,' said Wharton
as soon as he was sure that his friend was unhurt.
' I don't like the look of the evening a bit, and should
be thankful if we could get under the lee of some big
boulders I know of, a few miles further on, before the
storm breaks.'
' It does look bad, doesn't it ?' said Frank; ' however, a little rain would do no harm, as we shall not
strike water to-night, and we all want a wash badly,
specially Snap.'
. ' If this storm catches us in the brule, we shan't
want washing any more,' was Dick's gloomy reply;
and, though the sky—covered with long fleecy storm-
clouds, and full of an angry yellow light—did not
look reassuring, the boys all thought that for once
Dick was taking an unnecessarily black view of then
The boys were still digesting Dick's last speech
when there came a tiny whisper through the trees.
It was not anything more. Just a faint little wind
like a sigh; and yet three or four great trees, which
had kept then balance for years, came down before
it with a crash which made even Dick's cheek blanch.
' Caught, by thunder!' cried he. ' Boys, we've only
one chance; leave them ponies and follow me.'
Not understanding the danger, the boys could not IN   THE  BEULB f -\
help seeing that it was real, by the old man's manner,
and the speed with which he darted back along the
trail. As he passed ' Cradle,' Snap noticed that that
intelligent beast turned of his own accord and followed
his human companions. As they ran, another faint
wind came, and another half-dozen great trees thundered down, and one of them right across the path
between Dick and his friends. One of its boughs
flew up and struck Frank across the face, leaving a
long black mark and drawing a bright stream of
For a moment the boys recoiled aghast; but
Wharton's voice woke them to a fresh effort.
' Run, run, tear and ages! will you run ?' he
shrieked, and one after another the boys scrambled
over the carcase of the great tree and reached Dick's
Dick was on his knees beside the hole from which
he had extricated Snap. The good old fellow, though
he knew the danger, meant to see everyone else safe
before he thought of himself.
' Here, young 'un,' he cried to Towzer, ' get hold
of my fist. Now then, down you go,' and he lowered
the boy as far as he could into the hole.
' Let go and drop,' he cried. ' Are you all right ? '
he added.
'All right,' said Towzer's voice from somewhere
beneath their feet.
' Now then, Frank,' said Dick; and one after
another he let the boys down, and a moment after
dropped down amongst them.
' Great Scott! how it shakes the wind out of ycu,' 200
he muttered, picking himself up, ' I didn't know it was
so far.'
Just then a peal of thunder drowned then voices,
and after it came the rain in torrents, driven by a
perfect gale of wind. Even where the boys were the
rain came in bucketfuls, and the red lightning lit up
then subterranean shelter until they could see the
black logs above then heads, like the gigantic beams
in some old English hall. But the loud thunder
echoing amongst the cliffs beyond the river, and the
hissing rain, and every other sound was drowned when
the wind arose, for after the first rush of the wind it
seemed as if the end of the world had come, or as if, at
the very least, some great battle like Hohenlinden was
being fought right over then heads. Tree after tree
came crashing to the ground and, as it fell, dragged
down others with it. Now they would fall one after
another with loud reports as if a regiment of giants
were file-firing, and again a great wave of sound, a
very volley of the heaviest artillery, would make the -
ground rock with its awful roar.
' Thank God, we got here in time,' said old Dick
reverently; ' I guess there won't be a tree standing
when this storm stops, and those poor wretched
ponies will be pounded small enough for sausage
I Do you think they can't escape, Dick ?' asked
Frank; ' our rifles won't be good for much, then.'
'No,' replied Wharton, 'except, maybe, for old
iron or chips to light a fire with. By the way, who has
the rnatches ?'
' They are on the packs,' said Towzer. IN THE BRULE
' What, haven't any of you a match about you ?'
asked Dick.
' No, I haven't,' said Frank.
I Nor I,' added Towzer.
' Haven't you, Snap ?' asked Dick. ' What are you
thinking of, boy ?' Dick added.
' No, I haven't a match, Dick. I was thinking what
a cur I was to leave poor old Cradle, and how piteous
he looked as I passed him ; but I had no notion what
I was leaving him to,' replied Snap sadly.
' Yes, it is a pity. He was a good horse, but there
are plenty better, and, besides, we hadn't a rope strong
enough to lower him into this hole, even if we had had
time to try it; and then I'm not sure as he'd have let
us do it,' said Wharton; adding, after a while, ' I guess
the storm is stopping, but it's a poor camp we shall
have to-night, without a fire.'
Before long the storm stopped; our friends down
below could feel that the ah was fresh and sweet, and
that the evening sun was shining brightly over everything. By tying a little log on to the lash-rope and
throwing it over one of the beams which formed the roof
of their shelter, our friends made themselves a ladder,
and one by one climbed up from the darkness to daylight again. SNAP
When they did so, what a change had taken place!
An hour and a half ago thousands of burnt trees,
stretched upon all sides, blocked the view and formed
a forest of skeletons. Now every high head was
levelled, every tall grey spire laid low. Like a wheat-
field beaten down in autumn lay the burnt forest,
but, unlike that, no sun could ever raise it up again.
When years should have passed and the dead trees
returned to earth, another forest would spring up
where the pines had stood—not a forest of bright
larch and tall pines, but, oddly enough, a forest utterly
alien to the one which had so long covered the ground.
Beech and birch, and maple or poplar, would grow
green in spring and shed then leaves in autumn
where the winds once whistled and the snows lay
amongst the great evergreens.
As Snap looked at the leveUed forest the words
came somehow to his lips, ' This is God's work, and it •
is marveUous in our sight.'  Lifting his hat, he looked
up to the bright sun, and even the grim old cowboy
was not ashamed to follow his example.
Picking their way with difficulty among the chaos THE LOSS OF 'THE CRADLE'
of fallen trees, the boys' ears were greeted by a low
' It's the Cradle, poor old chap !' cried Snap. ' Can
it possibly be that he is alive ?'
. ' It's a pity if he is, my lad,' said old Wharton,
' for he'll only be calling you to shoot him out of his
pain. He's most sure to have a leg broke or his back
' But he hasn't, though, have you, old chap ? '
shouted Snap, who had scrambled breathlessly over
the logs to the spot from which his old horse had
called to him.
' But, Dick,' the boy added, ' how on earth are we
ever going to get him out of this ?'
And he well might ask. ' The Cradle' couldn't
stir, and no wonder. He had seen the danger as well
as his masters, and with that wonderful instinct which
sometimes serves a beast better than our reason
serves us had taken the best means he could to escape
it. Finding himself deserted, he crouched down on
the lee-side of the great pine which had fallen across
Snap's path, and by tucking his knees under him had
managed to crawl almost under its projecting side like
a rabbit. Tree after tree had crashed over him, but
the great butt against which he crouched was solid,
and now when Snap found him he was absolutely
untouched, but shut in as if in a cage by the great
fragments of trees which had broken just over his
head. By taking off his pack (which contained two
out of the three rifles), and by the free use of an axe,
which was. also attached to his pack, our friends at
last set the old pony free, and they all laughed heartily 204
as they watched him crawling almost on his belly
amongst the timber, even lying down and pushing himself under a log on his side, until the cunning old rascal
was rubbing his head on his master's sleeve again.
The other pony they found later on, but, as Dick
said, no one but Snap could have had such luck as
not to lose his horse in the late storm. The second
pony was crushed to pieces. The first tree that
struck the poor brute had broken its spine as if it had
been a dry twig, and crushed it as a cart-wheel would
crush a rat. The pack, too, was crushed and buried
under the trees, the only thing which had escaped
being Towzer's rifle, which had got torn away from its
lashings before the pony was killed.
'Well, we might have done a lot worse,' said
Wharton; ' there are all the rifles safe, and old Cradle
has the flour and a frying-pan, the axe and the kettle.
We shall do very well.'
' Much good the kettle will be,' said Towzer ; ' the
tea is somewhere under that dead horse, and so are the
beans and bacon.'
' Yes,' added Frank, who had been hunting about
amongst the packs, ' and there isn't a match that will
strike amongst us.'
' Never mind that,' said Wharton. ' You have the
only muzzle-loader amongst us, haven't you, Frank ?
Hand it here.   We'll camp just where we are.'
Frank obeyed, and the old man chose a spot where
some fallen trees formed a kind of square, the centre
of which he cleared from debris, and then, taking an
axe, he just trimmed off the wet outside of one of the
great trunks, and made a big hollow in the drv, half- THE LOSS OF 'THE CRADLE!
burnt tinder. This done, he greased a piece of rag,
and, having ' salted it over,' as he expressed it, with
grains of gunpowder, he rammed it loosely into one of
the barrels of Frank's muzzle-loader, and then fired it
into the hollow he had prepared. After one or two
tries he succeeded; the rag caught fire, and set fire to
the dry wood, and it kept the boys very hard at work
with their axes and a rope to cut off and separate the
huge log which formed their camp-fire from the logs
around it.
Whilst they were thus employed old Wharton had
produced his knife and skinned part of the pony's
quarters, which were still protruding from under the
tree which had killed him.
' What are you at, Dick ?' asked Towzer.
' Just cutting you a steak, my boy,' was the reply;
' it's a pity, though, that this pony was born so long
No one fancied his supper much that night, but,
after all, the poor old Cradle was the only one of the
party who did not share in it. He went supperless to
bed; but all the boys confessed that Dick was not a
bad cook, and that pony-steak was very good eating
when you had nothing better.
It took our friends two whole days to get out of
that ruined forest, and two days of such hard work
that Dick, toughened by years of hardship, was the
only one who had strength or courage to attempt to
light a fire or cook at night. Indeed, if it had not
been for Dick, I doubt if even hunger would have
induced the boys to make the effort necessary to get
themselves some food; and without a good meal at 206
night none of them would have had strength to escape
from that interminable tangle of twisted boughs and
fallen trunks.
All this time ' the Cradle' had no food. There
Was nothing to give him, and, except for the rain-
puddles, black and thick with charcoal, the party had
no water. The men drew their belts and old Cradle's
girth tighter .every evening, and a more slender-looking
or famished party, black and wearied and ragged, never
came out of a burnt forest than the wanderers from
Rosebud when on the morning of the third day they
issued from among the timber and plunged into the
welcome stream which made the north-west boundary
of this land of desolation.
On the far side were green forests and a stretch of
yellow grass, which seemed to revive all' the Cradle's '
worn-out energies. He needed no persuasion to make
him plunge into the stream, no hobbles to keep him
safe when he reached the further shore.
A bundle of matches, some of which had escaped
the rain, had been found, so the men sat down, lit a
fire, and as they baked themselves cakes upon the coals
they watched with pleasure the steady, business-like
way in which the old pony made up for lost time.
When they had all washed and fed they made
another march of about fifteen miles, which brought
them to the edge of that country in which Dick hoped
to feed his cattle.
' Of course,' said he, ' we shall have to come a long
way round; you couldn't drive cattle through that
wilderness,'pointing back to the briile; 'but it is a
good country, isn't it ? ' THE LOSS OF 'THE CRADLE
And it was! A few miles from where they were
camped was a range of high, rocky peaks, with little
or no timber upon them. These peaks were quite
bare, and one in particular rose like a great pulpit
high above the rest, the centre of the highest group
of peaks. Up to the foot of this little group of
mountains ran Dick's range, a succession of rolling
swells of grass-land, studded over with groves and
bunches of the red bull pines. It was a splendid,
park-like country, and many a group of deer cantered
away from them as they rode through it.
' You might as well shoot us something for supper,
Snap,' remarked Wharton ; ' I guess you're tired like
the rest, but you won't have any trouble to speak of
in getting a haunch of venison hi this here Bull Pine
Park of mine.'
' Of ours, Dick!' corrected Towzer, grinning.
'Right you are,' replied the old man; 'but I'm
not a-goin' to have any sleeping partners in our firm,
so just you get up off of your back, young man, and get
some bread made while I cut wood for the night-fire.'
Towzer made a grimace and rolled over on to his
face with a yawn, but eventually shook himself and
began to make preparations for baking.
' Snap ought to make the bread, by rights,' he
grumbled, ' he is such a stunner at the use of baking-
'Had you there, Snap,' said Frank; 'the young
'un has got " a rise " out of you this time.'
'Quite fan, too,' said Dick. ' I guess Snap got a
pretty considerable rise out of the boys at Rosebud
with that tarnation Borwick of his.' -M
be out of hearing, and was
But Snap pretended to
soon lost among the timber.
There was a good deal to do about the camp that
afternoon. All the pack wanted overhauling and
cleaning. Charcoal and wood-ash took too prominent
a place in the composition of everything in the
Cradle's load, from tea to tobacco. The frying-pans'
had lost then handles, and these had to be replaced
by others extemporised from a split stick; the spoons
had been lost, so others had to be made from birch-
bark ; the soup-kettle was lying as flat as a pancake
under the dead pony in the brule, so another had to
be made, and this, too, was of birch-bark.
' How are you going to boil that, Dick, without
burning a hole in the bottom ? ' asked Frank.
' By putting the fire inside instead of out, my lad,'
replied he.
' Oh yes, old boy, 1 twig, and the soup outside instead
of in!' cried Towzer.   ' Quite simple, isn't it, Frank ?'
Dick laughed.    Towzer's cheek amused him.
' Here is my heating apparatus, anyway,' he said,
raking some red-hot pebbles out of the ashes.    ' Now
you fill the bark-kettle with cold water.'
Towzer obeyed.
' Now, you see,' said Dick, suiting the action to
the word, ' in go the pebbles and the water begins to
sir^g; as soon as the first lot get dark and cool, out
they come, and in goes another lot. If you pour the
Water over your toes by accident, you'll find it piping
hot, I promise you; and when you've done doing that
and can spare time to look at the bottom of the kettle,
you'll find that it ain't got no hole in it.'
' Bully for you, Dick,' assented Towzer, ' your
youth doesn't appear to have been as much wasted as
I thought it had been.'
' Why don't you give the brat a taste of the lash-
rope, Dick ? it would do him a world of good.'
' I make a practice never to squash a 'skeeter as
long as it only buzzes,' replied Wharton, laughing;
'when it stings, I'm theer, you bet.'
' Snap doesn't seem to be having any luck with
the deer,' Frank remarked after a while.
'No,' replied the other; 'I've not heard his rifle
myself, but I reckon he's got a bluff between us and
him, and then, like enough, we wouldn't hear with
that chatterin' young jay-bird anywheres near.'
As the sun was setting, Snap was seen coming
down a long glade towards the camp.
' Don't carry his tail in the air, does he ? ' remarked Towzer. ' I don't believe he has got a
' He can't have been out three hours here without
getting a shot, I'll lay a wager,' said Wharton.
' He's all right, I can see something hanging on
his shoulders,' said Frank.
' So can I now,' added Wharton, ' but it's not
venison, it's only fool-hens, I'm thinking.'
'A jolly sight better too,' remarked Towzer,
smacking his lips greedily.
' What sport, Snap ?' they asked as he came up.
'Well,' replied the hunter, throwing down three
big blue grouse by the fire, and leaning on his rifle,
' that's the bag.'
' Wal! but you don't mean to say you didn't see
any deer ? '  exclaimed Wharton.    ' Why, man, the
park is full of them.    Couldn't you hit 'em ? '
Snap put his finger in the muzzle of his Winchester,
and held it up unsoiled.
Never fired a shot, Dick,' he said. ' I stoned those
fool-hens coming home, and my arm regularly aches
with shying at them; but I can't understand about
the deer.'
Why, how do you mean ?' someone asked.
' Well, going from here towards what you call the
" Lone Mountain," the wind would be right for me,
wouldn't it ? '
' Slap in your teeth; couldn't be better, what
there is of it,' replied Dick.
' Well, and yet every deer I saw had its head.up ;
almost every one was going at a canter-; and, though,.
I dare say, at one time and another, I must have seen
forty, I never got what I should call a fair shot. You
see, we've no cartridges to waste, and I wanted to kill
clean, so as to get back at once to camp.'
' Didn't see no sign of bar or painter about, did
you ? ' asked Wharton.
' No,' replied Snap; ' I suppose that is what must
have been the matter, but I saw no sign.'
Old Wharton looked grave for a minute or two,
but presently, after lighting his pipe, seemed to think
better of it.
' No,' he muttered, ' it can't be. This is Blackfoot
territory if anything; and, besides, them Crows could
never have got here by this time. If it's Blackfeet,
they'll not hurt old Dick Wharton.'
' Who will take the first watch ?' asked Wharton THE LOSS  OF  'THE  CRADLE'
two hours later, when the last grouse-bone had been
cleaned, and the old ' Cradle ' hobbled for the night.
' Perhaps I had better; I smoke and you lads don't;
and, besides, your young eyes are heavier than mine,
I reckon,' he added good-naturedly.
The boys made no objection. Towzer, for one,
never heard, having gone to sleep some minutes
before with a grouse-bone in one hand and a chunk
of slap-jack in the other.
'Let the young 'un sleep until he wakes,' said
Wharton; 'put him to watch for an hour about midnight, and then one of you take the morning watch,
and let him sleep. He's very nearly played out, and he's
a game little chap,' said the grey old cowboy kindly.
It was midnight before any one of the boys opened
his eyes again, to find old Wharton still watching
and still smoking. Towzer had got up, wakened by
the chill night-air, to re-arrange his blanket.
' Let me take a turn now, Dick,' he said; ' I've
had my beauty sleep and feel as fit as a flea.'
' All right, I'll help you make up the fire,' said
Dick, ' and when you have watched for a couple of
hours, wake your brother. Let Snap sleep right
away until dawn, if he will. He has done more than
we have—stalking deer, and so on.'
In ten seconds Wharton was asleep. His tough
old form seemed to settle down as easily on to the
turf as if it had been a feather-bed. If there were
roots or stones about, they didn't seem to incommode
him in the least. ' I guess I hurt the roots ' is what
he.once said, when Frank pointed out to him a
peculiarly knotty point on which he had been sleeping. 1
Towzer thought he had never known a night so
still. He could hear ' the Cradle' cropping the grass
quite plainly.
' What an appetite you have got for a late supper!'
thought he as he turned and saw the old pony
hopping about in his hobbles.
By-and-by the pony gave a snort, and, looking
up with a start—for, truth to tell, he had been nodding
sadly—Towzer saw ' the Cradle' standing, with ears
keenly cocked, staring into the gloom by the river.
Gazing intently in the same direction, Towzer made
out the cause of Cradle's alarm. A big grey wolf
was sneaking along by the river's edge. The beastj
seemed to know that he was seen, for, sitting up on
his haunches, he gave a low howl and then slipped
back into the bushes.
' I'd better drive the pony in,' thought Towzer,
and he rose to carry out his project, i Just then the
grey wolf cantered across the moonlit space in which
the pony was feeding, the pony made a furious plunge
to get away, and then it seemed to Towzer's startled
eyes that the wolf rose on its hind-legs, caught ' the
Cradle' by the head, stooped for a moment while
something glistened in the moonlight round the pony's
fetlocks, and then sprang on to its back and dashed off
into the gloom, whilst a red flash came out of the
darkness, and something sent the white wood-ash and
red embers of the fire right and left over the sleepers.
In a moment all were on then feet. Towzer's
mind seemed a blank. Surely the old German stories
of were-wolves were not true in this nineteenth century !    Hurriedly he told Wharton what he had seen. THE LOSS OF 'THE CRADLE'
' And why, in thunder, didn't you shoot when you
saw him by the river ? ' cried Dick savagely.
' Well, I didn't think it was worth while waking
you all for a wolf,' replied Towzer.
' A wolf, man ! don't you know noio it were an
Injun ?' asked Dick.
' But I heard him howl,' persisted the boy.
' And don't you suppose an Injun can howl as
well as a wolf ?   Listen to that.'
As he spoke a long-drawn wailing howl reverberated
through the gloomy pines, and from far away by the
river came an answering note.
' Crows on the war-path, but not many of 'em, or
they would have wiped us all out by now,' muttered
Dick. ' Out with the fire, lads, pull them big logs round
in a square, and get inside and he down with your
rifles, until we see if they mean to come back for our
It was all done in a few seconds. The boys worked
as men can work when they know that then lives
depend on their own promptitude. Old Dick's face
and Snap's were worth studying now, if only anyone
had had time to study them. The old man snapped
out his sentences short and sharp, had an eye for
everything, and worked with the quiet, business-like
promptitude of an old hand. Snap's eyes were
gleaming like coals, and if the light was not playing
strange tricks with his face that tightly shut mouth
had more than a suspicion of a smile on it. Old
Wharton noticed it, and put his hand on his arm,
kindly, but firmly :
' I knows what you're thinking, lad; but mind, I'm 214
boss to-night. If they should come, you keep inside
here and pot away until I give the word. This sort
of fighting isn't like " the ring." If someone hits
you once from behind a tree, the best plucked one in
the world can't hit him back.'
But they did not come, and, when daylight lit up
all the long glades of Bull Pine Park, Wharton gave
the boys leave to get up from then impromptu fort.
' Keep your rifles in your hands, and get back the
moment a shot is fired, but I reckon we are safe now
until nightfall,' said he.
After a while he called to Towzer. ' This is where
you saw your wolf, isn't it, young 'un ?' he said.
' Yes,' replied Towzer, going towards him.
'Wal! I reckon you never saw a wolf make a
track like that afore, did you ?' he asked, pointing to
the soft mud by the river-bank, in which, plainly
visible, were the outlines of a man's hands and feet—a
full impression of the former, and just the toe-marks
of the latter. ' An Injun on all fours, with a wolfskin on, that's the sort of animal that was,' remarked
Dick; ' but,' he added, as he noticed Towzer's miserable
expression, ' never mind, laddie, I've known deer let
an Injun walk among 'em in a stag's hide and antlers,
so perhaps we ought to forgive a tender-foot for being
took in by the crafty devils.'
As soon as the pack which the lost ' Cradle' should
have carried could be divided amongst the party,
Wharton led the way to the river. Wading in knee-
deep, the old man led them up stream for nearly a
couple of hours. The boys had thought struggling
through the brule bad enough, but this was a vast THE LOSS OF 'THE CRADLE!
deal worse, and they were ready to drop from fatigue.
At last they could go no longer, and implored old
Wharton to choose some easier road.
' Well, I guess this will do,' said he; 'it is pretty
stony here, and I don't think even our friends the
Crows could pick up our trail on this stuff.'
So they landed, and stepped out as briskly as their
numbed limbs would let them over a stony slope on
which hardly a blade of grass grew, so hard it seemed
to Frank that cart-wheels wouldn't mark it, much less
The course which Wharton took led them towards
the Lone Mountain, within a short distance of which
they camped that night, making for themselves a
rough fortress of boulders, and (intensely to Towzer's
disgust) doing without fire and tea.
' Cold tommy after a day like this!' ejaculated he
mournfully, holding up a chunk of heavy dry bread
as he spoke.
' Better anyway than cold steel for supper !' said
Dick, a little grimly. 216
' Towzer, my lad, you musn't take it unkindly, but I
think you and Frank had   better watch   together'
to-night.   You see you ain't as used to camping out as
Snap and me, and there's a good deal of risk to-night,'
said Wharton.
' Quite right, Dick !' said Frank; ' I know we're
duffers, but Rome wasn't built in a day.'
' No, no, lad, I know that, and you'll be as good as
any of us by-and-by. Will you and Snap take the
first watch till midnight ?'
' All right; wake up, young 'un !' cried Frank.
' No fear of us both sleeping at once,' said Towzer
sulkily to his brother, ' you snore so.'
After an hour or two spent in watching all the
mysterious shadows which begin only to move and
live in the forest after the moon comes up, Towzer
noticed something which seemed to him more substantial than the shadows creeping slowly up a glade
towards the camp. Towzer gripped his brother's arm
and pointed silently towards it.
' A hind feeding up this way, isn't it ?' whispered
' I don't know; that Indian was a wolf last night, THE GAMBLERS 'PUT UP'
it's likely enough he'll be a hind to-night; but, hind or
Indian, I'm going to put a bullet into him as soon as
he comes close enough to make certain,' answered
the boy savagely, and he sank slowly on to his stomach
to get a steady shot with his rifle.
Just then the thing, whatever it was, came out
into the moonlight.
' Hold hard, Towzer, it's " the Cradle " ; I can see
his white fetlock as plain as the nose on your face.'
' Might be an Indian in his skin,' answered Towzer,
only half convinced.
' No, no, I can see him quite plainly, can't you ?
And he is alone and unsaddled. Let's see what he'll
Slowly the pony came along, smelling every now
and then at the ground, and at last walked boldly into
the camp, and, bending his neck, hung his wise old
head over Snap's sleeping form, and rubbed his velvet
muzzle against the boy's cheek.
Snap was on his legs in a minute.
' Why, old chap, where have you come from ?' he
cried, and the pony laid back his ears and whinnied
ever so softly.   It was a regular pony whisper.
Frank and Towzer came up and by this time old
Wharton was sitting up too, his hand upon his rifle.
' Slipped them durned Redskins, hev you, old
fellow ? ' laughed Dick softly. ' Well, I've known
you get rid of better men than they'll ever be, before
now; but bust me if I can guess how you found us
out. You haven't brought Frank's rifle along, I suppose,' he added, for the shot fired the- night before
had been from Frank's rifle, which the Indian had SNAP
somehow managed to steal from the bough from which
it was hanging. Unfortunately, even ' the Cradle's'
'cuteness had not gone as far as this.
' I say, Snap,' said Wharton, coming out of a very
brown study, in which he had remained for nearly five
minutes, ' it's a very bright moon to-night, isn't it ?'
' Never saw a brighter,' said the boy.
' That isn't the way " the Cradle " kem along, is it
now ?' asked Wharton, pointing down the glade.
' Yes, that's where I first saw him,' said Towzer,
' Ah !' continued Wharton. ' Now, did it ever
strike you that that haze down theer wasn't altogether
nat'ral, not on a night like this, anyway ?' and he
pointed to a thin vapour which hung about the trees
some three miles away.
The boys looked in the direction indicated, and saw
the vapour plainly enough.
' Well ?' said Snap, and waited.
'Wal!' returned Dick, 'that's them durned Redskins. They don't think we'll dare to follow them;
the pony has slipped 'em, that shows they are pretty
careless, and ' (with a vigorous slap on his thigh) ' if
you're game I'm going the way that theer Cradle
came, and am goin' to have Frank's rifle and an
Injun's hair in camp right here before daylight.'
Here, in the heart of civilisation, Dick's speech
sounds bloodthirsty, and his programme of amusement for that autumn night anything but attractive.
Out there, in those wild forests, the boys only remembered that grey wolf changing in the moonlight into a
thieving savage; they remembered the rifle-ball that THE GAMBLERS 'PUT UP'
luckily scattered the ashes of then camp-fire and not
their brains; they remembered the lost pony and lost
rifle, and nothing more. Rising, they stood, tall,
silent, young figures in the moonlight, ready to follow
Dick Wharton anywhere.
' Towzer, my lad,' said Dick, ' I am going to give
you the worst work of all. You must wait with " the
Cradle "; and if anything happens to us, if we aren't
back in six hours' time, get on the pony's back, turn
his head for the river, and let him lead you. He'll
take you back to Rosebud somehow, and then you
bring the boys on our trail. Keep your rifle; I've got
my six-shooter, and you'll, may be, want it. Good-bye,
lad, there's not much fear, but we'll see you again
There was a lump in Towzer's throat. It was
hard to be the youngest and miss all the fun ; to be
left alone, and have perhaps that terrible ride home;
but he could not help feeling that Dick was right, for
all that. Either of the others was twice the man
that he was for fighting, and then, too, if it came to a
long ride, he was three stone lighter even than Snap,
and Frank was heavier than either. So he shook
hands as heartily as he could, and stood watching his
brother and his friend glide noiselessly down the
glade after old Wharton.
What fine fellows they looked, to be sure! Snap
was a perfectly built athlete, if there ever was one—
tall and wiry, with not an ounce of spare flesh anywhere. Frank was the biggest of the three, a huge
bull-necked Englishman, a man who could have killed
even Snap as a terrier kills a rat if he got him in a 220
Mm i
railway-carriage or a corner, but no match for his
active friend in the open. As for Dick, he was tough
and old,' old, with the might and breath of twenty boys.'
In a few minutes they had all mingled with the
shadows, and Towzer and ' the Cradle,' alone, stood
craning their necks after them in vain.
But we have the fairy cap, and, my boys, with
your leave, will follow those three silent forms. Old
Wharton had a true woodman's instinct for direction,
and, having once ascertained for what point he wanted
to steer, he kept his course truly and with no apparent effort. Now and again he bent down as he
crossed ' the Cradle's' tracks, but he did not depend
upon them for guidance. At last he paused, and,
beckoning the boys to his side, whispered:
' Then camp is close to here. I'll creep on and
have a look at it first, and come back to you when
I've seen how the land lies.'
The two young Englishmen crouched down and
waited. By some instinct, when the old fellow had
slid away like a snake in the grass, Snap held out his
hand silently to. Frank, who' gripped it hard in silence.
It was an Englishman's oath. They had silently
sworn to do or die.
It seemed hours before anything more happened,
but at last a part seemed to detach itself from one of
the pine-trees at which Frank was looking, and came
gliding into the moon-lit space. It was old Wharton
'They're all right,' he whispered; 'couldn't be
' What, are they all asleep ? ' asked Snap. THE GAMBLERS 'PUT UP'
'Better nor that, pard,' the old frontiersman
chuckled; ' they're gambling for all they're worth;
come along!' and, signing to them to follow, he glided
- away again from tree to tree, until at last the boys
could see the red gleams of a camp-fire on the pines
in front of them.
"Another half-dozen yards and the whole scene was
presented to then eyes. In a little hollow of grass
burned the camp-fire, and in its light sat half a dozen
Redskins in a group, three facing the other three.
They were all squatting on their hams when Snap
caught sight of them, and all chanting a kind of
song which sounded like a witch's incantation more
than like a decent expression of merriment, such as a
song should be. The fire lit up then ugly faces, painted
with bars of vermilion and black; gleamed on then
long, snaky tresses, and glittered in then bead-like
black eyes. Much to old Wharton's delight, too, it
•flickered back from a pile of rifles stacked under a pine
a good twenty paces from the group of gamblers.
As the boys reached their point of view Buck
Rabbit seemed the chief actor in the game. He had
his back to them, but there was no fear of mistaking
even his back, with its high, broad shoulders, heavy
with knots and lumps of muscle, and that great bullet-
shaped head, which seemed set right between them,
with nothing but one great wrinkle of fat to show
where the neck should be. His hands as they looked
at him were the only moving things in the firelight,
and they flitted and flashed backwards and forwards
until you grew dizzy as you watched them, the old
droning song rising and falling with the pace of the 2*22
hands. The three men facing him had then eyes
fastened on Buck Rabbit's hands all the while with an
intensity which reminded the spectators of a cat
watching a mouse or a snake trying to fascinate a bird.
Suddenly, quick as a snake's stroke, one of the Indians
opposite to Buck Rabbit shot out his arm and laid a long
dark finger upon one of the chief's hands. For a
moment the song dropped. As his hand was touched
Buck Rabbit stretched it out across the firelight, palm
uppermost and empty! One of the three opposite to
him without a word stooped down, and, taking one from
a bundle of short sticks beside him, threw it across to
Buck Rabbit's party, when the song again rose and the
hands again dashed backwards and forwards in the
' I wonder, now, what that stick were worth ? A
blanket or a beaver-skin, you bet,' whispered Dick;
' or, may be, it's scalps they're playing for!'
' I don't understand the game,' answered Frank in
the same low murmur.
' Oh, it's simple enough. That handsome old friend
of ours has got a piece of bone in one of his hands.
They've got to tell him in which hand it is. If they
are right, he pays. If not, they do,' replied Dick.
' They'd go on at that game until this time to-morrow
if we let them,' he added; ' but I guess we'll rise the
winners this journey.'
' Now,' he whispered after a pause, ' you just be
here and cover those Crows with your Winchesters.
You, Snap, draw a bead on a spot about halfway'between Buck Rabbit's shoulders, and you, Frank, cover
that old villain with a little tuft of hah on his chin and THE GAMBLERS 'PUT UP'
only one eye. That's Teeveevex, the medicine-man,
and the biggest scoundrel in the whole lot. If one
moves before you hear me speak, fire and keep shooting as long as an Indian is left to shoot at.'
This last sentence the old man hissed out with an
energy which impressed his hearers, and before it was
well finished he had gone again. The boys could hear
their hearts beat, and the only wonder to them was that
the Indians could not hear them too, so loudly they
seemed to thump against then ribs.
This time, it seemed, Teeveevex had been too many
for old Buck Rabbit. His long, skinny claws clutched
the chief's wrist like a vice, and when his palm was
turned up the little ivory disc gleamed in it. All the
shiny, evil-looking heads were bent together, when a
voice rang out clear and hard in the stillness, ' Hands.
up! the man who moves dies!'
The boys were as much startled as the Redskins.
Looking up they saw the Indians sullenly and in silence
lift then hands above their heads, red statues of wrath
glaring fiercely but helplessly at a tall, rigid figure in
the moonlight, standing between them and then rifles,
its right arm raised, its vigilant eyes noting their
every breath, and in its ready right hand a revolver,
on which the moonlight rested cold and chill. That
little weapon held the lives of six men. If one dared
to move, that one died before he could draw another
breath. They knew that. At ten yards old Dick
Wharton could not miss. How they must have
cursed the madness which had riveted then eyes on
that glancing bone whilst this avenger stole between
them and their weapons !    If all rose and dashed at -■
him he would not have time to kill more than one or
two, but then he who led that movement must die, and,
even so, would the others back him up ? It was a hard
question. No one was ready to make that first move
and pay the price, and so, as men always do when ' put
up' by a resolute man who ' has the drop upon them,'
they sat still.
' Boys,' said the voice again, ' you can git up now
and take these here rifles from behind me. Look
Frank and Snap needed no second bidding, though
they felt the six men's eyes following their movements.
Their eyes were all they dared to move, for they knew
that even while he issued his orders Dick Wharton's
eyes never left them for a moment; like the muzzle of
his revolver, they rested on them unceasingly.
' There's a Redskin tied up to a tree and gagged
behind them rifles,' the voice continued; ' cut his
thongs and set him free; give him a rifle and see as
it's loaded; pick a rifle for me and see as that's
loaded; take all the cartridges as you can get your
claws on, and then smash up them other rifles against
the handiest bull-pine.    Do you mind me ? '
'All right, Dick,' answered Snap, his knife already
hacking at the leather thongs which bound the captive
Indian, a fine-looking fellow, whose eyes glistened, but
whose tongue said nothing even when Snap took away
the gag..
He stretched his arms stiffly, and bent the joints
of both legs and arms backwards and forwards once
or twice as if uncertain whether or not he had lost the
use of them, and when first set free he almost fell ft
M Ill
11 Hi
from weakness or stiffness—and no wonder, for his
bonds had cut deep into his flesh and were dark with
his blood.
Crash! crash! went the butts of the good rifles
against the bull-pine. It seemed a sad waste, but they
were Dick's orders and he was in command.
' Are you through there ?' cried the voice again.
' Yes,' cried Frank.
' All the rifles broke, mine loaded, the Indian free
and armed, and the cartridges pouched ?' he inquired
'Yes, Dick,' they replied.
' Very weU; now keep your rifles ready if they try
to rush me,' said Wharton, and then added, to the
figures by the fire :
' Now, gentlemen, I'll not detain you any longer ;
you can skip;' and, dropping his revolver, he turned
on his heel and joined the boys. As he did so a report
rang out, and then another. The next moment Dick
Wharton had wrenched the smoking rifle from the
hands of the Indian whom Snap had released; but it
was too late, one of the gamblers had a bullet through
his skull, and the great hare-lipped chief himself reeled
for a moment as the second bullet cut through the
muscles of his arm. With a curse, however, be
recovered himself, and, dripping with blood, followed
his comrades into the forest.
' Why does my brother spare these dogs ?' cried
the Blackfoot; ' we should have taken six scalps
to-night, and my brother has but one.'
' We don't set much store by scalps, exceptin' our
own, Warwolf,' replied the cowboy; ' and whites don't
care about shootin' men without arms in their
It took all Dick Wharton's eloquence, however, and
tried Warwolf's gratitude for his deliverance to the
uttermost, before he could be persuaded not to pursue
the five unhappy Crows that night. It was a clear
waste of the good gifts of Providence, he thought, and,
though Dick Wharton might be a good fellow and a
mighty warrior for a whiteskin, he could not help
feeling that he was something quite out of the common
as a fool. He followed his old friend Wharton back
to camp, however, and there dressed his wounds, and
gave his deliverers some account of what had been
happening lately in Bull Pine Park and its neighbourhood.
Needless to say that for a night or so, at any rate,
the three boys and the old foreman, with Warwolf for
an ally, had no fear of attack from the disarmed
Crows.    Still they kept a good look-out, from habit. 227
When night closed in round the little camp in the
forest, Warwolf lit the pipe of peace, and after gravely
puffing away in silence for a few minutes began to tell
his story.
' It was when this moon was young, my brother,
when it was no more than a thin silver boat sailing
through the dark night, that Hilcomax, the medicineman of the Blackfeet, warned the chiefs in council of
great events about to happen. Hilcomax the healer
had been away from the camp of his tribe for many
suns, collecting herbs and preparing great medicine
against Okeeheedee, the evil one, when one morning
he saw the sky darkened by great wings, and, looking
up, he saw the destroyer pass over him far, far up
among the shuddering clouds of heaven. Slowly the
great wings came down until their shadow darkened
the forest, and Hilcomax saw them glide towards
the burial-grounds of our fathers on the Lone Mountain.
' In the darkness of night Hilcomax crept. back
towards the home of his people, and warned the chiefs
in council of what he had seen.'
Here Warwolf paused for a moment or two, blowing
Q 2 228
out a great cloud of blue smoke from his pipe, and
watching it thoughtfully as it melted away in the
night air.
' Youth, my brothers,' he continued, ' is light as
that smoke, and every wind carries it away. I would
not listen to the medicine-man's warnings, but came to
the foot of the " Lone Mountain," trapping. For my
folly the Crows caught me—the white-hearted, hare-
lipped chief of the Crows—and would have taken me
to his squaws to torture, had not my brothers rescued
me. He, too, has seen the bhd which hovers over the
graves of the Blackfeet, and his woman's heart froze
at the sight.'
' And has the chief seen this bhd himself ?' asked
Dick Wharton.
' Warwolf has seen it,' he replied.
'And that is about all he means to tell you,' muttered Snap aside, and Snap was right.
In spite of all Wharton's ingenious pumping the
Indian would tell no more, except that the Lone
Mountain was accursed, that the white spirits of dead
chiefs were wandering about it, bewailing the trouble
that was to come, and that far up above the graveyards of the Indians brooded this great white bhd.
As to what the bhd was like, though he had seen it, he
would say nothing. Indians are always very loth to
discuss what they call medicine, i.e. magic and things
relating thereto, and this bhd was the spirit of evil
' All gammon, I suppose, Dick ?' asked Frank
later on.
'Well, no, not altogether,' replied he; 'of course I LONE MOUNTAIN
can't explain what he is driving at, but you may bet
there is some truth at the bottom of his story—a trick,
most likely, of his own rascally medicine-man; but,
whatever it is, neither Crows nor Blackfeet will be
about here as much as usual for some time, and that's
bully for us.'
The next three days were spent in looking for the
most suitable spot on which to erect the hut in which
to pass the winter, and in hunting and drying the
flesh of the beasts they killed. Warwolf remained
with them, lending a hand and giving advice, whilst
his strength gradually returned, and the deep cuts
made by the thongs of the Crows healed over and
On the fourth day all were busy in camp, preparing
the winter quarters, except Frank, who had been sent
out to get fresh meat, and, being a poor and inexperienced hand at stalking, had apparently been led
far from home before getting his shot. Towards
evening, however, the crack of his rifle was heard
again and again.
' By Jove!' cried Towzer, ' Major has got amongst
them now, at any rate.'
' Yes,' remarked Wharton; ' I wish as he'd remember that we haven't got a cartridge factory handy,
' By George! how he is wasting them!' added
Snap as report after report rang out in the distance.
All this time Warwolf stood still as a stone, listening.
'My brothers had better be ready,' he now said;
' Frank fired once half an hour ago.   Warwolf heard 230
him. Those last shots were not fired by the white
' Who fired them then ?' cried Towzer.
' The Crows,' replied the chief.
' The Crows ! then ' and the boy stopped and
his face fell.
' Come, Dick,' said Snap, catching up his rifle.
' Warwolf is right, but we may save him yet, and if
not '
' No,' interrupted Warwolf, ' the white warriors
will wait here. Warwolf will go and find out what
has happened. The white hunter lives still. If the
Crows had got a fair shot at him they would have
fired once and my brother would have died. If he
had been surrounded he would have fought, his rifle
would have answered theirs, and we should have heard
it. But he escaped as soon as the Crows discovered
him; those shots were fired when our brother dashed
into the forest. I go to meet him.' And so the
Indian glided away and was gone.
'Best leave him have his own way,' said Wharton,
I he knows more than we do, and he'll give his own
hah to save Frank's.'
The two boys could not deny the justice of what
old Wharton said, but the waiting for news was weary
work for all that, and even Wharton was making preparations to start on a search for his two comrades,
when they came back to camp, Frank pale and bleeding, leaning heavily on Warwolf, whose hunting-shirt
was soaked with the boy's blood.
' Stand back, and don't worry him with questions,'
commanded old Dick; ' and you, young 'un, if yon LONE MOUNTAIN
want to help your brother, pile them rugs up for us to
bed him down on. What is it, Warwolf ?' he added as
he lowered the boy, half fainting from loss of blood, on
to the skins.
'The white hunter shot a buck near a camp of
Crows. An Indian would have seen their camp-fire
before he saw the buck, but the white man had only
eyes for the buck. The Crows heard the shot, and
then braves stole round the hunter. Had he not
been fleeter than the pronghorn on the prairie, they
would have scalped him before dusk. As it is, he has
only got a bullet through his arm. To-morrow he
will be rested and well;' and, so saying, the chief went
on preparing some herbs and simple remedies which
he had drawn from a sack of beaver-skin which he
carried about him.
' Are there many of the Crows in camp ?' asked
' A large party on the war-path,' replied Warwolf, bandaging up Frank's arm in a kind of herb-
' What does my brother advise ?' asked Dick.
' If the young hunter was strong enough to travel,'
replied the Indian, 'we might escape to-night and
perhaps reach my tribe before the accursed Crows
overtook us. As it is, we must wait and fight here.
We shall kill many of them.'
' But,' said Snap, ' we cannot possibly beat off so
large a party.    It will cost every one of us our lives.'
' It will,' replied the Indian grimly; ' but it will
cost the Crows more.'
' Oh, hang the Crows,' cried Dick, ' I don't think 232 SNAP
much of your plan, chief, though I confess I can think
of nothing better.'
' I can though, Dick,' said Snap.
' Out with it then, my boy.'
' Well, didn't Warwolf say that it was only six or
seven miles from here to the Lone Mountain ? j
' That's so,' replied Wharton.
' And,' continued Snap,' since this terrible fcird has
settled there, no Indian will put foot on the mountain.'
'You've got it, Snap,' cried Dick enthusiastically,
'that's our chance, we can carry Frank that fax.'
Warwolf s face had been a study while jhe boy
spoke, and now he broke in with vehement endeavours
to dissuade the whites from their rash undertaking.
' No ! no ! Warwolf,' replied Wharton, ' ypu may
believe in your great bird if you like, but I giiess the
only birds as trouble me just now are them tarnation
' My brothers must please themselves,' replied the
chief; ' Warwolf will die with them, if they wish, here
at the hands of the Crows, but to enter thi Lone
Mountain now is madness. If my brothers will, they
must go alone.'
'Right you are, chief; this much you shall do
for us,' said Snap: ' help us to take Frank on my
pony to the foot of the mountain, then do you take
the pony and escape to your own tribe and bring
them with you to save us.'
enge you
?' said the Indian.
' Very well, to avenge us,' assented Snap, and so it
was settled.
Frank was put on the Cradle's back, and in silence* LONE MOUNTAIN 233
with rifles at the ready, they broke up their camp and
crept through the forest towards the haunted mountain.
The dawn was coming when the chief left them,
his fine, fierce face clouded with a sorrow which even
his stoicism could not conceal. He looked on his
friends as going to their doom. He tried once more
to persuade them either to stop and fight the Crows
in some extemporised fort in the forest, or to trust to
the Crows not catching them before they could reach
the Blackfoot village.
'It's no good, Warwolf,' said Dick, ' with a party
as big as ours they would catch us before to-morrow
midday. You and the Cradle may get off if you are
clever, and they won't follow us up there,' pointing to
the peak, now showing in places through the morning
mists above the great pines.
Without a word the Indian turned and left them,
backing the pony carefully over the old trail; he had
already risked more than a thousand Crows in coming
so near to the accursed spot, and he would not wait
to hear the air full of the rushing of wings and see
Okeeheedee stoop from his mountain crag and destroy
the white men.
Frank's strength was coming back a little by this
time, so that with Snap and Dick to help him he was
able to walk with the rest.
As the sun rose the little party emerged from the
forest on to a small prairie, from the further side of
which rose the abrupt black mass of the Lone Mountain, an isolated spur of the chain which separated
the land of the Crows from the hunting-grounds of
the Blackfeet.    Round the foot of the great rock 1 *
wound a rapid stream, which had risen somewhere
in the mountains beyond it, and perhaps a thousand
feet above the stream was a broad, grassy terrace
covered with tents, banners, and what looked in the
faint light of dawn like the figures of men.
' Sink down !' cried Snap as he caught sight of this
encampment.    ' The Crows are there before us.'
'No, they aren't,' replied Dick; ' them's Blackfeet
' Then we're safe, aren't we ?' asked Frank with a
sigh of relief.
'' Not yet, my hearty,' replied Dick cheerily,' but we
soon shall be. Them's dead Blackfeet up there, and I
guess they'll skeer the Crows more nor live 'uns.'
' Dead Blackfeet!' ejaculated Towzer.
' Yes, young 'un, just a graveyard, that's all!'
replied Wharton.
As they drew near, the boys saw that he was right.
The figures were monuments of wood, carved like men
sometimes, at others like quaintly devised demons.
The pennons floated from what were but dead
men's headstones, and in the white tents with open
doorways lay chieftains sleeping the last long sleep
and waiting ' till the flush of morning, the morning
of another world, should break along then battlefield.'
Suddenly an exclamation from Towzer drew all
eyes to a point a few hundred feet above this camp of
the dead. The boy's eyes were wide open, and his jaw
dropped in horror.    His flesh crept as he looked.
Above the graveyard the rock rose sheer and steep,
a wall of rock like the side of a house, and yet as
the boys looked in the misty light they saw one after
another a long train of white figures slowly passing
across it. One by one they paced along, sedate and
slow, their snowy whiteness coming out in strong
contrast to the gloom of their surroundings.
' What is it ?' asked Snap in an awed under-tone.
' Bust me if I knows,' said Dick with savage earnestness, ' but, ghosts or no, I am a-goin' to hide up there.
I guess ghosts don't hurt as much as Crows, anyway.'
Meanwhile Snap had brought his glass to bear on
the rock.
' All right, Dick,' he laughed, ' you were pretty
near. If they aren't ghosts they are goats, which
sounds something like it, though I never heard of goats
like 'em before.'
' Rocky Mountain goats ! are they, by thunder ?'
ejaculated Wharton; ' wal, I've often heerd tell of 'em,
but never seed any till to-day. You're sure they are
goats, Snap ?'
' Yes, quite sure; but look for yourself,' and he-
handed the glasses to Wharton.
' Well, they're rum-looking critters,' remarked Dick
after a long stare at the white procession now disappearing over a shoulder of the rock; ' they're goats
right enough, though they do look more hke little
buffalo-bulls with that hump on their shoulders. But,
all the same, they're Warwolf's ghosts as well,' he
added with a laugh.
After tramping round the foot of the mountain for
a while, Towzer, who was ahead of the rest, called
out, ' And there's Warwolf's bird, by Jupiter! our old
friend the balloon!'
Even Frank managed to ' boil up' a trot when they 236
heard this, to find Towzer staring up to the highest,
peak, six or seven thousand feet above where they
then stood, over the very topmost stone of which a
great balloon seemed to hover.
No wonder that that great mass of white silk,
rising and falling as if all a-tremble with life, now darting out a few yards from its eyrie, now settling slowly
back again, had filled the simple Indians with fear and
awe. Even to the whites, who understood it, it was a
marvel. What was it doing there ? Who brought it,
and why did he anchor his sky-ship in such a harbour ?
Where, too, was he, its master mariner ?
These, and a dozen questions such as these, passed
through their minds as they gazed. Reading his companions' unspoken thoughts and answering them, Snap
said at last :
s I reckon we had better go and see.'
' Yes !' said Dick, ' we should be pretty snug up.
there alongside Okeeheedee as they call this bhd of
theirs; but it is a mighty stiff climb, and I don't know
how we shall get ourselves up, let alone Frank here.'
' Leave me here, Dick,' said Frank; ' the Crows
won't dare to come as near the peak as this, and in a
day or two I shall be strong enough to come to you, if
they are not sick of waiting for us by that time.'
' We'll see you sugared first, old fellow, and then
we won't,' replied Towzer. ' Come along out of that,'
and, taking one arm, whilst Snap took the other, he
helped his brother along until they reached the level
of the graveyard.
Here the road grew worse, and it soon became
a question of rock-climbing, pure and simple.    Then LONE MOUNTAIN 237
it was that the forethought which becomes habitual
with the North-western hunter showed itself. From
his waist Old Dick unwound a long lariat, and at the
first seemingly impossible place got the party out of
their difficulties easily enough by throwing the loop
over a projecting point a great many feet above them
and climbing up by the ladder thus extemporised to
the little point itself. The boys followed him one after
another, and then Snap and Dick, having instructed
Frank to make the rope fast under his arms, hauled
him up alongside of them. From here, by using the
dizzy little gallery along which the wild goats had
gone, the party managed to get to that shoulder over
which they had seen the goats disappear.
By this time the baUoon was comparatively close
to them. They could see its car, and that it was
anchored by a rope to the rocks over which it hung.
They could have seen a man, had one been there, but
they saw none. Hoping that if they could attract
his attention he would show them the road to his
Cyrie, the boys whistled again and again. But no
answer came, except the echo of their own whistles
and the shrill scream of a hawk which they had
disturbed from its look-out.
' Deuced odd !' said Snap.
' Asleep or dead, I should think,' said Frank, and
the croak of a great raven sailing by below them, so
close that they could see its bright yellow eye looking
at them, seemed to echo ' Dead! dead!'
' Not a cheerful locality, even for a graveyard,'
muttered Snap as the sun was hidden for a second
behind the cliffs ; ' however, for'ard on !' f*
' Beat, I think,' said Snap a little later; and, indeed,
it looked as if man could go no higher than the
point to which, by infinite toil, the boys had now
'You two stay here a little,' he added to the two
Winthrops, ' and take care of the grub and the rifle,'
for, in spite of the difficulties of the ascent, Wharton
had insisted on bringing one rifle and his ' six-
shooter,' as well as a handkerchief full of bread per
' Dick, you will come with me, won't you ?' he
asked, and, as the old trapper nodded his head in
assent, he added,' Very well, then : do you get a good
grip of something so that you could hold my weight
up if necessary, and give me the other end of that
lariat round my waist.'
The place to which they had attained was a
narrow ledge of granite, ending in a niche in the rock,
with an overhanging roof to it. Above was a smooth
needle of solid rock, broken and ragged at the summit,
but for two hundred feet as smooth and perpendicular as a pillar of marble. There were no crannies in this into which to insert toes and finsers. AT THE TOP 239
however strong and daring. The storms and snows
of ten thousand years had worn the granite until its
face was polished like the face of a jewel, and it was
hard as a diamond.
' I don't think even the Alpine Club could tackle
that,' Frank had said when they first saw the peak.
' I'm not so sure of that,' Snap answered; ' they
couldn't from here, of course, but perhaps there's a
way round.   Remember, they climbed the Dru.'
And now, with the dogged pluck which characterised the boy, he was going to look for what he
called a way round. The position was this. The
hollow in which the party lay ended abruptly. Beyond
it was the polished rock, without a blade of grass
or a' twig upon it. Above was two hundred feet of
the same, bending, if anything, a little towards the
would-be climber, as if the giant spire were about to
tumble over into the gulf of clouds and mist which
lay below. If any of our little party toppled out of
their nest they had a clean run for two or three
thousand feet, as old Dick said, and ' nothing of any
consequence to hinder 'em between that and the
The lariat was fast round old Dick's waist, and
securely fastened, too, to Snap's leather belt, which he
had taken the precaution of fixing well up under his
armpits. A close scrutiny of the rock to the right of
the crevice had shown the boys that, though there
was no cranny big enough for a sparrow to perch
upon above, there was just one narrow, thread-like
crack running from the end of then niche towards
the sharp edge of the needle, which, jutting out some 240
fifteen feet from them, formed a corner round which
they could not see anything.
' That's our chance,' said Snap; ' I can get my
fingers in here, and, as J can see it all the way, I expect
it gets larger further on.'
All the party looked white and drawn except Snap;
it was a desperate risk, and all knew it, and old Dick
would gladly have persuaded the boy to rest content
with then present -quarters. But it was too late now.
As the old foreman knelt with his face inwards, gripping the rock, ready at any moment to take the strain
which Snap's fall would put upon the rope, the latter
was digging his fingers deeply into the solitary crack.
He had taken off his moccasins, and was barefooted
and in his shirt-sleeves. Even-his cap was off. He
wanted no encumbrances, however slight, just now.
Two or three times he tried his grip, and then, clinging
with his bare feet to the smooth rock, he let himself
go and hung spread-eagled against the granite wall.
As he hung dangling by the first joints of his
fingers over the horrid abyss a cold wind came and
struck him. It blew his damp hah back from his
face, it seemed to chill his straining fingers, and to
threaten to tear him from his precarious hold. But
not for one half-second did he hesitate. He had considered the peril and braced himself to meet it. Slowly,
a foot at a time, he worked his way along. The first
foot or two was the difficult part of his journey, for
there, as he shifted his hold, his body hung literally
upon four fingers and no more. But he comforted
himself with the thought of the stout lariat round his
waist and the strong arms which held it in the niche AT  THE TOP 241
he had left. After the first few feet he was able to get
more of his hands into the rock, and, though his eye
had not noticed them, his bare feet found little inequalities and rough spots to which they clung like
the feet of a fly to the ceiling.
As he drew near the corner his excitement grew,
hope and fear alternating in his breast. At last he
could look round it, and he saw that the proverb was
again justified, ' Where there's a will there's a way.'
'A precious bad way,' thought Snap, 'but still
better than this,' and, so thinking, he crept round the
corner, and after what had seemed an age to him
again got his foot on a firm hold. For here round
the corner was a broad ledge, as if made by the falling
away from the cone of some great chip of granite
when that convulsion had taken place which had rent
the cone from its very summit to where he stood. Now
too he saw clearly that, though solid on the other side,
a great crack ran down the peak on this side, just big
enough for a man to squeeze into at the bottom, and
slowly widening, until at the top the cone was divided
into three distinct peaks, on the largest of which the
balloon was anchored.
Snap had arranged with Dick that three sharp
tugs at the lariat meant ' Come along, I can hold you.'
Fhst he passed a bit of the lariat round a jutting
corner of the broken rock, and then he gave the three
tugs agreed upon.
With eyes shut and heart beating he clung to the
rock, and prayed that Dick might not slip. It seemed
an hour of waiting until he heard a loud gasp at his
side, and Dick's voice panting out:
' Wal, I reckon that's summat of a crawl, but blow
me if I think Natur' ever meant me to do them bluebottle tricks.'
As he spoke it seemed as if a thaw had suddenly
set in in Snap's heart, the relief was so great, and,
clinging hard to the rocks, they both laughed until the
boys in the crevice heard them, and wished that they
were there to share in the merriment.
' Wal, now, Snap, what next ? You couldn't set us
an easier one this time, now, could you ?' asked Dick.
' Yes, Dick, it's not so bad this time, it's only
what mountaineers call a chimney, and then we shall
be there.'
' Oh, only a chimney, he says,' muttered Dick;
' fust you turns bluebottle, then you turns sweep—all
quite natural, of course—and then you're there.   And
unless we turn balloonatics when we git there, there,
it seems to me, we'll stick !'
'You follow me, Dick,' said Snap, 'and do as I
do; shove your elbows and knees against the opposite
sides of the crack as soon as you have room to, and
wriggle up.'
Dick obeyed, talking away to himself all the while,
so that, had the danger been less, the inclination to
laugh would have taken the strength out of Snap's
arms and let him down with a crash.
' Look out for stones, Dick!' cried Snap all at
once, as a few great fragments of granite came rattling down.
'All right, sonny,' cried the voice from below;
S never mind the " sut," but tell us when the top
brick's a-comin'.' AT THE TOP 243
' Now, Dick,' said Snap, after about fifty feet of
this work, ' you'll have to shove your back and hands
against one side and your feet against the other, like
this, and,shove your way up so.'
' All right, pard, I understand : I've got to sit on
about 5,000 feet of nothing at all and keep going
up'ards.    Quite simple.    Go ahead!'
'Hang it, Dick, do be serious,' replied Snap,
' Well, so I am, ain't I ?' replied the old man;
| you don't suppose I'm here for enjoyment, do you ?'
Snap, looking down between his legs at the cowboy
below him, would have exploded with laughter had he
dared to. The old chap was growling away to himself, and puffing and blowing with the unusual exercise,
but gripping the rock with hands like eagles' claws, and
pushing with his strong legs until, as Snap told him
afterwards, he was in momentary dread of seeing the
opposite wall come down.
' Now hold on a bit, Dick,' cried the voice above
after a pause, ' and toss that lariat up my way if you
There was a good deal of grumbling, but at last
the lariat lay across Snap's legs, and, getting hold of
it, he made cast after cast at a little spike of rock some
ten feet above him. It was difficult shooting with a
noose at such a mark in such a position, and he
heartily wished old Dick could change places with
him.    But that was impossible.
' I reckon my back '11 hold out about three more
shies, Snap,' said the voice from below; ' there ain't
much starch left in it.'
R 2 244
'AH right. Dick,' replied Snap, 'I've lassoed the
rock now, firm and fast.    One minute !'
The old man saw the boy hang on to the rope and
scramble by its help to the point above mentioned.
' Now, Dick !' he cried, and Dick caught the rope
and scrambled up after his companion.
'AH easy-going now, like going upstairs,' said
Snap; and so indeed it was, for the two were now on
the last torn pinnacle of the summit, which was so
cracked and riven that a child could have climbed it.
' Poor chap ! So that's his story !' exclaimed
Wharton ten minutes later, as a great bhd, gorged and
heavy, rose sullenly from a cup-like hollow in the top
of the main peak and slid on silent wings into the
deep sky beyond.
Where the bird rose, lay what had been a man, and
that not many days ago; but the elements and the
fowls of heaven had not left enough of the poor clay
to tell whether he was white or red. On closer inspection a grey Tyrolese hat with green riband, and
tuft of izzard's hair set in it as a plume, told Snap even
his nationality, and a broken pah of spectacles confirmed his guess and almost enabled him to re-clothe
those poor bones in his mind's eye with the very flesh
" of the German professor which once covered them-
The balloon, which was still well inflated, had
dragged its anchor amongst these rocks and at last
struck a firm hold amongst them, and still, as they
reached it, tugged and strained at its mooring with a
semblance of life in ghastly contrast to the everlasting
peace which had fallen upon its helmsman and master.
' The jerk when that there thing pulled up sudden AT THE TOP
chucked him out, I guess,' said Dick, pointing at the
bones; ' and look here, it's broke his arm in two places,
and his thigh. Poor wretch, pity but what he didn't
fall clear over the edge anyway ! '
' That's not what he thought, Dick,' said Snap,
who had picked up a log-book which lay by the dead
man's side and bore on its cover of calf-skin more
than one mark of the vulture's prying beak. ' " Gott
sei Dank," he begins—and it looks as if he had written
it in his own blood, poor fellow—"thank God," he
says, " that I shall have time to write " '
' Yes, well, never mind that now, pard; I guess
we'll have lots of time to read that by-and-by. There
ain't much room up here, and I guess we'd better go
as near giving this foreigner Christian burial as ch-
o o o
cumstances will allow; you don't happen to recollect
a prayer as will suit, do you now, Snap ? '
' What do you mean, Wharton ? you can't dig a
grave in this rock.'
' No, lad, I know that,' he replied, ' and I ain't
goin' to try. But we've got to live here, maybe some
days, and there's hardly room for us as are alive, even
if dead men's society was as attractive as it ain't.'
Whilst he spoke the old man had approached the
figure, which half lay, half sat, in the hollow, its limbs
broken and its face torn away by bhds of prey.
Reverently the old man lifted his hat, saying to the
thing at his feet:
' You'll forgive us, pard, but we're kinder cramped
for room up here, and if so be as you're gone aloft a
few thousand feet more or less between you and these
bones of vourn won't make no odds.' 246
Snap looked at Dick in some horror, but the old
man's manner was so reverent and yet so determined
that he did not interfere.
Tearing a rug, which before his strength left him
he must have got somehow or other from the car of
the balloon, into fine strips, Dick spliced them together
into a cord. Then he rolled the remains up in the
long cloak in which they lay, wound his cord of strips
round and round it, and then turned again to Snap:
' Snap, my lad, don't take on at what I'm doing,'
he said; ' there ain't no place for the dead among the
living, nor can be neither. You don't believe as these
bones is him, do you ? Very well, then, I want you
to help me bury them down there,' and the foreman
pointed out over the brink of the precipice.
The afternoon had passed now, and one or two
stars were beginning to show faintly in the sky.
Down below, the mists were rising thickly from the
wet bottom-lands and from the bed of the stream, and
were drifting through the gorges of the mountains
and up and up, until, looking over from then dizzy
stand, Dick and Snap saw nothing but heaving billows
of heavy white clouds. It wanted but very little fancy
to imagine that those clouds were white waves breaking round the base of the cliff on which they stood.
' Take the other end of the pack, Snap,' commanded Wharton; ' now, boy, have you got a prayer
handy ?'
' No, Dick,' faltered Snap, ' I don't know wh at
to say.'
' Then just you do as I do,' said the old man, ' just
say good-bye to the poor chap; I remember a  mate GOOD-BYE,  PARD !'  AT THE TOP
told me years agone that good-bye meant " God be
with you."   I reckon that ain't a bad prayer.'
With his head averted the boy did as he was told.
' Good-bye,' said Dick, ' good-bye, pard!'—and
' good-bye' echoed Snap—their voices sounding faint
and strange as they stood up there close to the stars,
with the white clouds below and the dead man between
' Swing it, Snap, and let go,' said Wharton, and
the boy's hands let go as the light burden which they
bore flew outwards over the edge.
By some fascination which he could not resist
Snap looked down, and saw the dreadful bale spin
round and down with awful velocity, until as it plunged
into the billowy clouds of mist for a moment he
fancied an arm broke loose from its bandages and
stretched up towards him as the body disappeared
from view.
And then all was over. No sound came back to
tell them that it had reached its resting-place. The
stars stood still in the heavens, and Snap hated them
for then cold, unsympathising stare. The granite
rocks looked cold and hard and terrible, and the sky
itself looked as hard and as merciless as the rocks.
A strong hand gripped Snap's shoulder at that
moment, and a kind, strong voice was in his ear:
'Come out of that, lad; if you look over them
rocks any longer they'll kinder draw you down after
him.' 248
' I guess our young 'uns will be feeling as if the old
birds had deserted,' said Dick after a time. ' How do
you reckon to get them up, Snap ?'
'Well, I've just been looking over the top of that
other point,' said Snap, indicating one of the other
points of the peak, ' and I find we can get down pretty
easily to within about 150 feet of them, but from there
down it's like ice, the rock is so smooth.'
'Let's see if we can pull this balloon in,' said
Dick ; ' may be, there is a rope in the car;' and as he
spoke he and Snap got hold of the rope which held
the captive balloon, and hauled on it. To then surprise it came in easily, though now and then it gave a
tug which threatened to jerk them off then feet.
When they had got it so close that they could see
into the car Snap was on the point of getting in.
' Steady, boy, hold on ! If you let go I may not be
able to keep her down, and then there you'll be hung
up like a bhd in a cage,' roared Dick.
' Well, what are we going to do ?' panted Snap.
' Just pay out the rope again steadily, pard; don't
let it go with a jerk, whatever you do,' replied
' And now ?' asked Snap when the balloon was
once more at the end of its tether.
' Now,' replied Dick, ' we'll make another halter for
that there airy steed.   Lend us the lariat.'
Taking off his belt, which fastened with a great
metal hook, Wharton cut the latter off the belt and
fastened it to one end of the lariat; the other end he
made fast to a rock.
' Now, my lad,' said he, holding the hook in his
teeth, ' haul him in again,' and, yo-ho-ing like sailors
at the capstan, they soon had the balloon alongside.
' Bear on the rope with all your might, pard !'
said Dick, leaning back and throwing all his weight on
one hand, whilst with the other he hitched the hook
at the end of the lariat into one of the ropes round
the car.
' Now let go, you can let her rip ! I guess she'll
not break away from them moorings,' said Dick; ' and
if you'll get in and look what there is inside you'll
have no trouble in getting out again and no fear of
being flown away with.'
In another minute Snap was in the car, and cried
out to Dick: ' Hurrah ! here is everything we want;
heaps of rugs and two coils of rope; but it's very thin
stuff,' he added.
' Chuck it out, my boy !' cried Wharton, and two
coils of new yellow hemp came tumbling to his feet,
followed by a buffalo-robe and two blankets.
' Four-point blankets!' remarked Dick, ' and a
thirty-dollar robe, anyway.    Is there anything else ?'
' Yes,' replied the boy,' some instruments—a dozen,
I should think—a big flask, a big pipe, and a lot of SNAP
round tins of provisions with " Silver, Gornhill" on
' Throw them down, Snap, I'll catch them,' cried
Dick,' and bring the pipe and the flask with you, and
then we'll try to get to the boys.'
Snap obeyed, and in another minute swung himself
out of the car and dropped beside his companion.
' It is pretty thin rope, this,' remarked Dick,
handling one of the coils which Snap had thrown to
him, ' but it seems uncommonly strong too. What
is this, anyway?' he added, pointing to a thin red
strand which ran through the rope.
Snap looked at it for a moment, and then, clapping
his hand on Dick's shoulder, rejoined, 'We're right
now, old chap; that is an Alpine Club rope, or at any
rate made like them, and is as tough as whe. Whales
wouldn't break it or razors cut it, never fear; if it's
long enough we'll have Towzer and Frank up here in
no time.'
By splicing the ropes together Snap found that he
could just reach his friends, so that he and Dick
started without more ado, and, climbing down the
chimney again for some time, got on to its other wall,
and thence to a point from which the rope could be
lowered to Frank's crevice. As it hung for some time
unnoticed by the boys, Dick began to fidget.
' I reckon they've gone to sleep. That Towzer's
a holy terror for slumbering,' he remarked.
They can't have fallen out, can they, Dick ?' asked
Snap anxiously.
' No, no, not they!' replied he;' and I expect it's just
because they don't want to that we don't get a bite AT THE END OF THE P.OPE
at our line.    Swing it in a bit if you can; you see
they daren't reach out for it.'
' True for you!' said Snap, and began vigorously
to agitate the rope. But he soon found that it
requires time and considerable skill to make the end
of a rope 200 ft. long obey your bidding, and he was
almost in despair, when the rope suddenly began as
it were of itself to swing in the right direction.
' At last!' he ejaculated as the rope after swinging
in a little further than usual failed to return.
On the end of the rope they had fastened a note
to Towzer in these words: ' Tie Frank on to the line
securely, give two tugs when you are ready, and let
him swing out gently; we'll haul him up.'
It seems easy enough to do when you only read
about it, but to a man crouching in a cranny in the
rock, with thousands of feet of a sheer fall below him
and no twig even for his hands to clutch, it is a terrible
thing to tie the rope under' his arms and let himself
go out into space, one thin thread only connecting him
with this world—a mere atom swinging helplessly in
space. What if the rope should break ? what if the
friendly hands above should grow cramped, or even if
their strength should fail for a moment? What?
Why, only a short, sharp rush through the ah, and then
—long rest! The right way to manage such an ascent
is, of course, to have a bar at the end of your rope. On
this the person to be hauled up sits, one leg on either
side of the rope, and face inwards, so that by touching
the rock with the feet the climber may steer himself
a little or at any rate resist that tendency to spin
round like a roasting-jack which is so terrible. 262
Never did a rope take more adjusting than that
rope round Frank. Towzer tried every knot and
every strand again and again with desperate care. He
felt that his brother's life depended on him, and when
he said good-bye before giving those two terrible tugs
the tears rushed to the poor boy's eyes and his hands
clung to Frank's as if they would never leave them.
Up at the top, too, those two strong men were
gazing anxiously into each other's faces. It was a
long pull, and Frank a terribly heavy fellow. If he
began to swing, could they get him up ? It was a
heavy responsibility, but one at least out of the two
felt that, rather than let go of the rope which held the
man whose life was entrusted to him, that rope should
drag him too over the cliff to the hereafter.
And then the tugs came, sharp and firm, Frank's
brave old fist giving them, and he even managed to
make a poor little joke as he swung out, although he
knew it was useless, for Towzer had turned and was
cowering breathless, his eyes hidden against the back of
the little cave. The young one felt as if his brother
had gone to execution and his hand had sent him.
Steadily foot by foot the rope came home, the two
men coiling it round a rough natural pillar of rock as
they got it in, until they saw Frank's hands grip the
top ; and then with one great pull they dragged him
roughly over, ' high and dry,' as Wharton said, out of
the great deep. What matter if that last pull tore his
clothes on the ragged granite and hurt his wounded
arm ? It was pleasant even to be hurt by the solid rock
beneath you after dangling so long in mid-air.
Dick and Snap lay down, like dogs who have done OX  THE  FACE  OF TJ1E  CLIFI  AT  THE END  OF THE EOPE
a hard day's work, flat on their bellies. Cold as it was,
the persphation poured from their faces and their
limbs trembled with fatigue and excitement, so that
they could not stand upright. To Frank they hardly
spoke. By-and-by each came and shook hands in
silence—that was all.    Then Dick spoke:
' Snap, we must get young Towzer up ; there are
three now, and he is only a light weight.'
Carefully they overhauled every inch of the rope
and then let it down again. This time it was soon
caught, and they all stood back and waited for the tug.
When it came they all hauled with a will.
' Why, he's no weight at all,' said Snap after taking
in the first handful or two of slack rope.
' That's just it!' said Wharton, ' there is no one
on the rope; you hold hard whilst I go and look,'
and as he spoke Dick went to the edge and looked
' No!' he sang out, ' there's no one on; let the
rope go again, there must be some mistake.'
Again the rope swung into the crevice, was
caught, held, and returned, and again no one was
on it.
This time the men hauled it up, thinking Towzer
must have found some fault in the rope. All that
they found was a note and these words: ' Dear Frank,
forgive; I know I'm a little idiot, but I can't come. I
should go mad if I saw myself hanging by that thread.
I'll stay here until to-mOrrow, and then perhaps I can
get down and up some other way. Don't mind me,
it's awfully jolly here.—Towzee.'
' " Awfully joUy here! " poor little chap, he's got SNAP
the horrors, and if we leave him he'll go looking over
until he can't help throwing himself down,' said Dick.
' Let's go to him, one of us.'
' No !' said Frank, and his voice sounded hard and
cruel, and his fair skin was all aflame, ' we'll send this
down, please;' and with shaking hand he wrote : ' For
shame, remember you are a Winthrop; will you let
these fellows see that you are.afraid ?'
At his word the two sound men lowered the rope
again, and this time when the tugs came there was a
weight at the end of it—a weight that swung and spun
and tried then strength more even than Frank had done.
At last they dragged him to the top, and as his head
came over the edge they looked to see his hands grip the
ground, but in vain! Like a log he rolled on the top
and lay there, his head hanging limply, like the head
of a dead snowdrop, and Frank wrung his hands as he
thought that his pride had killed ' the little one.'
' It's all right, pard, don't you take on like that,'
said Wharton cheerfully; ' he's swooned away or gone
to sleep with dizziness. He'll come round again
Picking the boy up gently, they got him across to
the nest, as Dick called the hollow by the balloon.
' Better carry him like this than if he was awake
and mad with fright, poor chap,' said Wharton ; and
then, when he had rolled his charge up-in a buffalo-
robe, and poured some spirits from the flask down his
throat, he begged the other two to he down and rest.
' We shall want all our strength if we mean living
through the next few days,' said the old foreman,
' and I can't do with more nor one invalid at a time.' AT THE END  OF THE EOPE
By-and-by Towzer came round, buf'his eyes were
wild and his mouth twitched, so that he could hardly
speak distinctly. Wharton noticed Frank's face as he
watched his brother, and, coming over to him, he laid
a great knotted fist on the elder Winthrop's shoulder :
' Look here, my lad,' he said,' I saw what you wrote,
and I let it go, because I knowed that if we didn't get
the boy up to-night we'd never see him again: but
don't you get thinking hard things about your brother.
He's got grit enough for anything. Pluck's a matter
of constitootion, and his is just upon played out.
He'll be better when he has had some grub and a
sleep. Now give us a match,' and, selecting one from
the bundle offered to him, he solemnly lifted a leg,
rubbed the match smartly on the seat of his trousers,
and applied it to the bottom of one of the provision
tins before aUuded to.
' Well,' Snap said, ' that's ingenious ; how did you
know how to manage them ?'
' How ?' replied Dick, ' I guess if you'd lived the
life I have you'd know all a man can know about
tinned meat. Why, blow me if I don't think you could
start a dividend-paying tin-mine where we first lived
when we started ranching on the Rosebud, and all
the tin you'd ever find there came outside our grub.'
' Oh, I've seen tinned meats before, Dick,' answered
Snap, ' but a tinned fire to cook it by, that's what
gets over me.'
The tin in question was an ingenious contrivance
with a roll of wick saturated with sphit underneath the
tin pot,which held (in this instance) an excellent curried
fowl.   A roll of soft lead covers the saturated wick, and T^
1 w
f ■'
li I
!    '
all the traveller has to do is to tear off the lead and light
the wick. In ten minutes' time the curry will be
ready, and if then he is not satisfied with his supper
the traveller must be very hard to please. Whoever
invented these ingenious tins deserves a monument
to be erected to his memory by the hunters, travellers,
mountaineers, and others whom he has fed.
After doing substantial justice to the fare before
them, or, as Dick put it, ' after wolfing two of them
tins,' and drinking more whisky neat than they had
ever done at one sitting before, even Towzer began to
recover. But Dick wouldn't hear of his talking, and
at the first attempt rolled him up in a buffalo-rug and,
sitting solemnly down on his legs, lit the great pipe of
the German professor.
In ten minutes, to all intents and purposes, Dick
was alone, for, though the bodies of the three boys'
breathed at his side, their minds were far away in the
land of dreams and slumber. For some time the old
man puffed away in silence—the stars above winking
solemnly down at him as he kept that one bright
spark alight with infinite care, close to the end of his
' I'm jiggered if I don't think they're a-laughin' at
us,' he muttered, looking at the stars, ' and I don't
wonder. It's been a pretty tough job gettin' here, but
how we're goin' to get out beats me. Howsomdever,
Dick, my lad, bed!—bed-rock it is, my hearty !' and,
grumbling and growling, he poked his finger into his
pipe, extinguished the ashes, and crawled under a
corner of Towzer's robe. 257
A sudden rushing wind struck Snap upon the cheek,
and he awoke; awoke with a smell of carrion in his
nostrils and a dark cloud floating over his eyes. As
he sprang to his feet it was gone, but the view that
suddenly confronted him—the narrow bed on which he
had slept, and the yawning abyss beneath—made him
reel and stagger with horror. Recovering himself as
his faculties came back from dreamland, he heard a
harsh ' croak! croak!' and saw the cloud which had
broken his slumbers floating, on wings which scarcely
moved, round and round the summit, turning its ugly
head enquiringly towards him every time it passed.
' You fiend !' he muttered, shaking his fist at the
raven, ' I wonder, after the hundred years you've
lived about this peak and its graveyards, that' you
don't knqw a live man from a dead one; perhaps that
will teach you,' and as the bird came by again he
hurled a lump of granite at it with an accuracy and
energy which would not be denied.
The stone caught the bird full, and sounded hollow
on its great wing. For a moment it staggered, and two
black feathers fluttered ever so slowly down, until it
made Snap sick to watch them going, going, as if they 258
never would stop ; but the raven righted himself, and
with a fierce croak sailed on out of sight.
' Sounded as if he was a cursing of you, didn't it,
Snap ?' said Wharton's voice at the boy's side; ' a nice
old party he is!    But I wish we had his wings.'
' Yes, Dick,' replied Snap,' even without those two
pen-feathers I knocked out of him.'
'If Warwolf had seen you do that,' remarked
Wharton, 'he would never have been happy again.
•That bird is " Great Medicine " with the Blackfeet.'
' Great humbug,' retorted Snap indignantly.
' Just so, that's the way as I always translate it
myself,' replied the foreman; ' but I say, I wonder if
Warwolf got clear away ?'
' I hope he did,' said Snap,' I should like to see the
poor old Cradle again.'
' What, that horse ?' answered Dick; ' wal, if the
chief didn't get clear away, I reckon neither you nor
me will want any hoss again.'
' No, I suppose not, Dick,' replied Snap grimly; ' I
wonder if these chaps realise what a corner we are in,'
he added, pointing over his shoulder to his sleeping
' Frank may,' said Dick; ' I'm not rightly certain
whether the young 'un understands anything yet.'
' What do you mean, Dick ? you don't mean that
he has gone off his head, do you ?' replied Snap a little
' He wasn't sane when we pulled him up yesterday,
but may be he'll be all right to-day,' was the answer,
and at that moment the object of their solicitude woke
and sat up. READING THE WILL
' Is that you, Dick ?' asked Towzer's voice feebly.
' Yes, my lad, that's me. Don't you try to get up
yet, you've been a bit ill. Mustn't let him look over
that edge yet at any price,' he whispered aside to Snap.
' Lie still, old fellow,' added Snap soothingly as he
bent over him, ' how do you feel ?'
' Oh, only a bit faint and as if I was sea-siek, Snap,'
he replied, ' but I've had such a dreadful dream.'
Snap didn't ask him what it was, he guessed that
the boy half remembered yesterday's experiences; but
Towzer went on addressing Frank, who was now sitting
up beside him.
'I dreamed,' he said, 'that I was a coward, that
you called me one, Frank, and then they put me on a
roasting-jack for a punishment, and hung me on to
the bottom of the world, and I went round and round
and round j
'Here, dry up that soft talk,' interposed Dick
roughly, § we don't want no talk of dreams here: you
get a knife into that tin, Towzer, and let's have breakfast,' and, so saying, the old man handed the boy a tin
of meat and a knife, 'just to prevent him thinking,'
as he explained later on.
' I think he is all right now,' said Frank after breakfast, 'let's tell him a little; we can't go on like this.'
'Very well, but take care how you do it,' assented
Then they told him, not all, but most of that last
day's doings, concluding with: ' And when we got you
on the rope you must have bumped your head against
the rock, or spun round until you. went nearly silly
and fainted; and so now you must keep quiet and w
a i
promise not to look over the edge again until we give
you leave.    Is that a bargain ? '
' Yes,' sighed Towzer, ' I suppose it is; but I must
be a terrible nuisance to you fellows. What a little
brute you must think me!'
All that day and the next the boys lay in then-
narrow bed watching the sun rise and set, and the
clouds go hurrying by. Sometimes a few rugged
brown clouds would drift up, and then a little flurry
of wind and rain would almost wash them out of their
exposed position, while the balloon creaked and
strained at her moorings in an alarming fashion.
' Snap,' said Dick on the second day, ' them Injuns
can't see the balloon from below, and they're getting
more daring, now they think the great bird has gone.'
' How is that, Dick ?' asked Snap.
' Well, you see we have drawn the balloon out of
sight by mooring it close alongside among these crags.
Leastways I reckon that's so, for the Crows have come
out of cover.    Look for yourself.'
Peering over the little parapet which ran round
their resting-place, Snap could see camp-fires on the
prairie below, and through his glasses he made out a
line of sentries set all round the foot of the mountain,
not near it, but still hemming it in in such a way
that escape from it across the open prairie to the forest
beyond the camp-fires was impossible.
' They know that we're trapped,' said Frank, ' and
mean to starve us out, though they are still afraid to
put foot on the mountain.'
' That's so,' replied Wharton, ' and young Towzer
is opening the last tin of meat but one.   It must be READING THE WILL
only one tin between four to-night, and if Warwolf
doesn't bring his Blackfeet to-morrow we had better
try to run the gauntlet, and get away separately
to-morrow evening before hunger makes us too weak
to fight.'
' It wouldn't do, Dick,' whispered Snap, drawing
him aside, ' Towzer could never get down the mountain, and even if Frank got through he could never
find his way in the forest. But I have a better idea
than that.'
' What is it, lad ?' asked Wharton.
' Never mind yet, old fellow, it will keep,' replied
the boy; ' besides, I'm not quite sure yet if it is practicable, and if Warwolf turns up I would much rather
not try it. But look here,' he added, turning to the
others, ' I've got some interesting reading in this poor
old German's log-book.'
' Let us have it after dinner, Snap,' said Frank.
' Them's my sentiments exactly,' put in Dick; ' I
never can hear reading comfortably unless I've got a
pipe in my mouth.'
So after dinner, that is after everyone had played
as long as he could with his small share of the last tin
but one, Snap took the book and read, whilst Dick
smoked a double allowance of tobacco to console his
ill-used stomach for the loss of at least three-fourths
of his share of the curry, which the good old chap had
managed to add to the boys' portions unobserved.
' I don't call it kinder fair on you, boys,' he remarked, ' my doing all the smoking; won't you try
a pull? it's wonderfully satisfying.'
Snap took the offered pipe and enjoyed the first 262
11," K
few whiffs immensely, but, as he remarked, ' almost
at once struck ile.'
' Thank you, Dick, kindly,' he said, handing the
pipe back hurriedly, ' but I think my jaw will work
without oiling.    I'd rather read and see you smoke.'
Dick laughed and resumed his pipe, while Snap
read as follows:
' " Sunday, 15.—Thank God, I have still an arm
left to write. It is I who am in fault. The balloon
was by me too suddenly stopped, and I was at once
outthrown, and my leg and arm altogether broken "
' Then there is a stop, as if the pen had fallen
from his hand,' said Snap.
' Fainted from pain, I guess,' said Dick, taking
his pipe out of his mouth and blowing away a lot of
little rings of smoke.
This was a favourite trick of Dick's, and you
might see him often send three rings one through the
other in succession.
' The next entry is the 17th, and it is a long one,'
continued the reader. '" I know right well," he
writes, " that I cannot much longer stay. The end
must soon come. Ach Gott! how it will good be.
Now hear I, day and night, the roaring of the winds
of heaven, like the beating of surf on the shore. If
it were not that my limbs were so heavy with pain,
these winds would snatch me from my hard couch
and give me back to my native earth and peace. Ah
me! how the clouds spin, and the peak keeps bending, bending    I have had no food since my fall
and die of hunger and weakness. God grant I die
before that foul black bird, which  comes  croaking READING THE WILL
nearer and nearer, tears my eyes out! But I think
death is very near now, the pain is gone, and I can
think clearly. I have one work to do, and then I die
peacefully. Some man may find me—when, God
knows; who he will be, He too knows—but, as He has
put a thing into my mind, I would leave it to my
brother men. It is this. In the small box, A, in the
car of the balloon, is a paper. This paper contains
a design for steering balloons. All my life I have
sought this, now have I found it—too late. Henceforth the ah shall be as navigable as the sea or the
dry land. But I would have this design patented and
to bear my name. So much earthly ambition clings
to me still. Take, then, thou, who mayest find these
bones, this box, A, to Professor von Bulberg of Berlin.
There it shall be patented in my name. I would
have the honour; and for your service, since I have
no kin, I leave you as reward whatever I may die
possessed of, here or in Potsdam: here, a few priceless instruments; there, a little house or two, I think,
and, should there be any, half the.proceeds of this
my invention; the other half to go to the Royal
Society of Aeronauts, Berlin;"
' By Jove !' said Snap at this point, ' it is just as
well that he had no more to write; if he had, I could
not have read it, although his shaky hand is very
sharp and clear; but it is shaky towards the end—just
look at it,' and he passed it to Frank.
' What luck it is that you took up German instead
of Greek, Snap!' said Frank.
'Well, I don't know,' replied he, 'we could have
read it anyhow.   Here is another paper, in another  READING THE WILL
' Let's have a look at that,' said Dick, stretching
his arm out for the paper. When he had studied it
a little the old foreman handed it back again to
Snap, saying:
' That's downright smart of the German : it's not
the first time as he's been amongst Injuns ; I call
that a lot easier to read than your pothooks and up-
and-down strokes, don't you, Snap ?'
' Well, it's not difficult, certainly. I suppose he
means, if the Indian takes Box A to any gentleman
in a beard, breeches, and sombrero, he will get rum
and a rifle ; if, on the other hand, he runs off with
Box A, the attractive-looking person with a spear will
make it hot for him—isn't that it ? ' replied Snap.
' That's so, sonny!' replied Wharton, delighted
at Snap's intelligence, ' and, as Injuns don't generally
wear beards, breeches, or sombreros, that chap in
the pictur' is a white man. The fellow with a bear's
head and a spear is Okeeheedee, the devil of the
' Well, if we ever get away we must try to take the
poor fellow's box and send it to Professor Bulberg at
Berlin, though I don't expect to become a millionaire
out of my share of the profits under 'his will,' said
' Your share! Why, if there was any to take,
Snap, it would be all yours, of course,' remonstrated
' You don't understand, dear boy,' replied Snap.
' In the Bull Pine Firm we have all things in common
—fresh air and famine, for instance, just at present—
and, as we all got here about the same time, we shall aU
■■i 266
be equally entitled under the will, as my uncle in the
Temple would say ; isn't that right, Dick ? '
'Wal, share and share alike is prairie law, when
you do make a find,' Wharton answered, ' but I'd sell
my share for a sight of Rosebud and a square meal of
beans and bacon right now !'
After a pause the little party crept to the edge of
their nest and, looking over, could see the Indian
watch-fires glowing in the gathering gloom of night.
Long columns of blue smoke rose up among the pines,
and a camp like the camp of an army was pitched on
the edge of the prairie.
' I doubt if Warwolf would do much good even if
he did get through,' said Wharton. ' Those Crows
we put up have just gone back to the fishing-camp and
brought the whole tribe about our heels. There are a
couple of hundred men there, if there is one.'
No one had an answer to make to this speech, so
they all lay there watching. It seemed such a
strangely cruel lot to be hung like Mahomet's coffin
halfway between heaven and earth, cut off from both—
still alive, and yet beyond reach of the living. Surely
no sailor on a desert island was ever so deserted as
they; he at least could swim in the element which
hemmed him in, but for them there was no way of
escape. It was doubtful even whether the strongest
of them could ever climb down the way they came.
For the other two such a feat was certainly impossible. And what could swim in the element which
closed them in ?   The eagle, and the raven, and	
Snap stopped thinking, and broke the silence.
' Dick, there is only one way out of this, and we've READING THE WILL
got to try it. We can't stay here and starve,' he
' Not pleasant, is it ? ' replied Wharton; ' but what
are we going to do ? We can't eat bed-rock and we
can't fly.'
' Yes, we can,' was Snap's unexpected answer, ' at
least that balloon can ; and if you are game we'll try
it to-morrow.'
' What! go up in that thing ? not I, sonny,' replied
the old cowboy; ' I don't mind your hanging me out
on a clothes-line again over them rocks if so be as you
think my constitution requires it, but I'll be dog-goned
if I'll go up in that thing.'
Now,' dog-goned' was a rare expression with Dick
and was generally supposed by his friends to mean
that he had issued an ultimatum. If in the old days
at the ranche he had said that he would be ' dog-goned'
if So-and-so shouldn't git next day, you might as well
say good-bye to So-and-so, for next morning, ' bright
and early,' he invariably' got.' So, then, this rebellion
of Dick's was rather a formidable thing, and one not
to be treated lightly.
Snap tried to argue with the old man, but it was
useless. Reason against prejudice never had much
chance. Dick never had been a ' blooming .balloon-
atic,' he said, and didn't ' kinder cotton to becoming
one now.'
' Well, Dick,' said Snap, ' it's just this. If we stay
here it means death—a long, lingering, painful death.
If we try the balloon, of course it may drop us like a
stone, and then that's death too, but a quick, painless
one.   We should be dead before we got to the bottom.' 268
'.That's right enough, lad,' persisted Wharton,
' but if that is all that you are hankering after who
is to hinder your jumping over the edge here—that's
death too, a pretty certain one, and painless, says
' Quite so, Dick, but I don't think the balloon
would let us down. Why should it ? There is a lot
of ballast in. We'll throw that out, and then away
we go sailing over the heads of these Redskins until
somewhere or other we come softly and slowly down
again, safe and sound, and out of danger. I can't
think why we have stayed here so long,' Snap concluded, having succeeded, as many a man has done
before, in talking himself into belief in his own
' I'm not a-goin' to say, Snap,' said Dick slowly,
' as there ain't something in your idea; but sailing in
that thing don't seem natural to me somehow. How-
somdever, if we can't get away before this time tomorrow in any other way, you boys can try it if you
like, and I'll jest try to wriggle through them reptiles
down below hi my own way.'
And that was the most the boys could get out of
Dick, and with it they had to be content: though
Snap had not the least intention of going without the
old man. 'All or none' was his motto, and he
meant to stick to it.
m 269
snap's sacrifice
That night Snap slept little. Whenever he closed his
eyes visions of Fanbury floated before them, and of
that kind, sweet face, with eyes shining through their
tears—the one face which had always had a smile for
him, which was always ready to confront those who
said ' That young Hales is a thorough ne'er-do-
weel, he'll never be good for anything, mark my
words.' She had always believed in him ; had always
trusted her boys with him, though the neighbours
shook then heads and thought, as one old lady said,
' that those dear lambs would never come to any good
with that boy, always fighting and disgracing himself.'
And then, when the expulsion from Fernhall had
thrown his guardian into a white heat of virtuous
indignation, and even dear old Admiral Chris had
looked askance, it was the same little woman who had
drawn out the whole story, had tried to look serious
over it, and finally re-told it to her brother in such a
way that that old warrior had forgotten his gout and
roared with laughter till it sounded as if a gale was
Always Mrs. Winthrop. Whenever he opened his
eyes there was the great white balloon quivering and
poising in the moonlight;   and whenever he closed 270
them there was the face of the woman who had been
more than a mother to him, who had- put every good
thought into his mind, and helped him, ever since he
could remember, to grow up a gentleman. And round
him lay her sons, and in his heart he knew that next
to God she trusted him for then safety.
Getting up softly, he climbed into the car of the
balloon, which rocked like a cradle as he sat in it.
The addition of his weight made no perceptible difference to it, except perhaps to steady it. He noticed, as
he sat there alone among the clouds, that, besides the
box A, there were quite a dozen heavy little parcels in
the car—scientific instruments for taking astronomical
observations, and such like. Besides these there were
a number of lumps of what appeared to be lead or
iron, used obviously for ballast. Altogether, Snap
thought, there was a good deal to throw out, and even
four such men as Frank might possibly not be too
much for the balloon. If the crew eventually appeared to be too heavy, why, then Dick and he must
try to climb down, whilst the two Winthrops trusted
to the ship of the sky.
That there had been a considerable escape of gas
from the balloon Snap saw only too plainly ; its outlines were no longer full, rounded curves, as they should
have been. In places there was a deplorable flatness
and falling away from the true lines of beauty. Still,
knowing very little of these things, Snap thought it
might do, and crept back a good deal consoled to his
lair alongside Dick Wharton.
That old hero slept, like the proverbial weasel, with
one eye open. SNAP S SACRIFICE
' Been overhaulin' that craft of yourn, Snap ?' he
' Yes, Dick,' the boy answered in the same low
tones, ' and I think she will do.'
The old fellow lay back again for a few minutes,
and then began again:
' I've been thinking, Snap,' he said.
' Yes ? ' interrupted Snap, ' perhaps you have ; I
should get a better chance of sleeping if you didn't
think so loud.'
' Never mind, sonny, I dare say I do breathe a bit
hard at times, but I never knowed a "high-blower "
yet as wasn't a good horse; what I was a-goin' to say
is that if you mean goin' in that consarn I'll come along.
If you ever did get down again to prairie level, you'd be
like babies without Dick Wharton to tote you round.'
Snap was not going to argue about his reasons,
it was enough for him that his old friend would come;
so he sat up and shook hands upon it, clinching the
bargain there and then.
Another> day dawned, and saw the sun rise up and
sink far towards the west again, before old Wharton
gave up all hope of relief. He had been peering
steadily down on the encampment for a couple of
hours before he turned to Snap with :
' Sonny, it's got to be done. Them Redskins
have almost got over their skeer, and I guess poor
Warwolf has been tortured and scalped by this time.'
' Yes, Dick,' said Snap quietly; ' then suppose we
get ready.'
' Why, what is there to do, pard, except get right
in and go ?' asked his companion. 272
' Well, first of all we must try whether the balloon
will carry us all. She certainly won't unless we take
some of the cargo out.'
' All right, bear a hand, Towzer. You are boss of
this show, Snap,' was the reply.
Snap climbed into the car and handed out the
instruments and a bag or two of sand, the balloon
straining wildly at its moorings as he did so.
' Come in with me, Frank,' he cried, ' and help me
steady her.'
Frank climbed in.
' Now, Towzer !' Snap added ; and Towzer joined
the other two.
' That is very nearly a load, I think,' said Snap^
' and there won't be much fear of our going up too
high when Dick gets in.'
| No,' said Frank, ' we had better throw out something more.'
'Very well,' said Snap, throwing out everything
he could lay his hands on, ' but if it won't carry us
now I don't know what we shall do. Come on,
Dick stepped in, and still the balloon strained
' She'll fly all right,' cried Towzer.
' Then cut the cord and take care that you don't
roll out,' commanded Snap.
The cord was cut, and suddenly the earth and the
mountain peak began to recede from the balloon. At
least so it seemed to the boys. As for the balloon, it
seemed exactly poised in the air, steady as an eagle
on widespread wings, and even as they sat and gazed SNAP'S SACRIFICE
the earth drew back and faded until it was gone, and
they hung alone, in a sad and absolute silence, whither
no voice of bird or insect ever penetrated.
The boys were smitten as it were with dumbness.
No one spoke, though, strangely enough, no fear
possessed them—only a great stillness and peace.
The balloon had now apparently reached that point at
which it could rest in equilibrium, and hung motionless
over the peak from which the boys had risen. The
cold had grown intense, and the evening was approaching, though the sun's rays still, spread colour through
the great cloudland below them. At last Frank broke
the silence:
' What is this, Snap,' he said, ' floating round the
car ? ' and he drew in his hand covered with minute
fragments of ice.
' It looks like powdered ice,' replied Snap.
' I don't much fancy this country to winter in,'
broke out Dick; ' I suppose, Snap, you couldn't get this
craft of yours to go down a bit, could you ?'
Even as Wharton spoke the balloon seemed to
have heard him, or at- any rate the clouds seemed to
be drawing nearer, and the storm of ice-morsels grew
' I guess this ice, or snow, or hoar-frost, or whatever it is, won't make our shay any lighter,' remarked
Dick; ' do you see how it rests on the car and seems
to thicken round the balloon ?'
' Yes,' said Frank, ' and if it rests on the edge of
the car what must it do on the broad top of the
balloon ?'
' Dick,' whispered Snap at this moment, ' what is
T 274
that ?' and he pointed to the side of the great bubble
above them, from which a long wreath of thin white
smoke was trailing into space.
Dick looked.
' I'm blowed if I know,' he replied.
' Then I'll tell you,' Snap hissed in his ear: ' the
balloon has sprung a leak, that is the gas escapingj
the weight of this stuff' (touching the snow) ' on the top
has done it, and we are going down fast enough even
to suit you. Out with that sack of ballast,' he added,
and Wharton and Frank sent the only sand-bag over
the side.
This sent the balloon up again a little way, but
they were now comparatively near the earth. Round
them a regular snow-storm was raging. The particles
of ice which they had met with in the higher layer of
atmosphere had now gathered into snowflakes. The
storm, such as it was, lasted but a few minutes, and
then the sinking sun lit up the scene below them.
As they looked down, the boys saw a great billowy
ocean of thick, rosy fog. Wave upon wave it seemed
to roll, opaque, soft, and beautiful in colour, and as
they looked it came up and up to meet them. The
snow upon the top of the balloon was still too heavy
for them, and they were sinking fast. In another
minute the car was engulfed in the rosy clouds, which
were already turning to a more sombre colour, and
later on changed from rose to purple, and then to
sullen grey
As the balloon passed out of fog-land the sun set,
and a quick darkness began to settle on the land. All
sounds of the earth had long since been plain to them :
indeed, when in the fog, it seemed as if every sound
was right alongside. Now they could see as well as
hear. They were comparatively close to the earth,
much nearer than they had been for days. They were
skimming over the prairie some 1,500 feet from the
ground, and drifting straight to the Indian encamp-
-ment, sliding as it were down a gentle descent, the
end of which seemed likely to be right amongst the
enemy's watch-fires.
'Dick,' cried Snap, 'if we don't lighten the balloon
we are lost. She is going to settle right amongst the
' Well, sonny, there's only our clothes left to throw
away now. I don't mind sacrificing my hat and
boots,' said Dick, and, suiting the action to the word,
he denuded himself of everything except his flannel
shht and trousers.   All followed his example.
'Wal,' he remarked, 'I never knowed it rain
ready-made clothes afore. Perhaps them Injuns
didn't neither.'
'It hasn't done us much good either, Dick,' said
Frank, ' I fancy we are still sinking.'
'We are,' replied Snap; 'but if we could only
manage to clear their camp and fall a mile or two
beyond them in the forest I should be content to take
my chance. We can't hope for much more, I am
afraid, now.'
' Much more?' muttered Towzer, 'I shouldn't much
care if we did fall amongst the Crows, if they would
give us something to eat before scalping us.'
Even at this supreme moment Towzer was true to
his schoolboy instincts: as for the others, they had mm
almost forgotten then hunger in the excitement of the
scenes which they were passing through.
At this moment they heard a loud shouting in the
Indian camp. They were dashing backwards and
forwards among the tents, horses were being caught,
and the wild yells of the bloodthirsty savages rang
in their ears.
' Encouraging sort of welcome to mother earth,
isn't it ?' said Snap.
' It's strange too,' added Wharton;' of course they've
seen us and know we are dropping like a ripe plum
into then mouths, but I wonder at their making such
a noise about it.    It's not like 'em !'
' Snap,' said Frank, 'I think we can sell them now.
If you fellows tied me up a little so as to help my
bad arm, we could all hold on to the ring above the
car or the cords it is fastened to, and cut the car adrift.'
I suppose most of my readers have seen a big
balloon—if not, a word of explanation may be necessary
here. The body of the balloon is, of course, a great
sack or bag of some excessively fine and light material,
such as silk, or layers of india-rubber, between sheets
of linen covered with thick coats of varnish. Over
the balloon is a kind of net-work of rope. This is its
harness and comes to a point towards the bottom,
where all the ropes are attached to a great wooden
hoop, from which again hang the ropes to which the
car itself is attached. Frank's idea was to climb up
into the ring and cut the car adrift.
' You've hit the nail on the head, my lad, plum
centre this time,' said Wharton, * but can you get up
to the ring yourself ?' SNAP'S SACRIFICE
' I'll try,' replied Frank, ' but there isn't a moment
to lose.    Give me a hand, Towzer.'
Between them the others got Frank up into the
rigging of the balloon, and tied him securely to the
ring, so that he would not be entirely dependent upon
his one arm for support.
' Are you all right ?' cried Snap from his perch.
' All right, old chap.'
' All right,' came the answers.
' Then cut the ropes near you all together, so as
not to drag the balloon over on one side,' he cried.
' Now!'
Each boy sawed away at the ropes near him with
a will, but old Dick did not get his rope cut through
quite as soon as the others. The result was that the
balloon gave a furious plunge, and then, as the last
rope broke, righted herself and darted upwards once
Snap looked white and scared, but the colour came
back to his face when he saw all his comrades in their
places, and old Wharton chimed in with:
' Dang me if this here balloon has'nt got all the
vices of a cayuse, and more. Loses its wind and
wants to stop, leastways come down, and then, as for
bucking, a half-broke cayuse is a fool to it!'
For a while the balloon sailed along on a higher
level, but all the time the thin wreath of, white vapour
marked a leak and a constant escape of gas. Besides
this, the evening damp collected and settled on the
envelope of the baUoon, and all tended to weigh it
'We are sinking again,' cried Towzer, 'sinking 278
faster than ever before. Look how the prairie is
rushing up to meet us!' and indeed it seemed so,
and there was absolutely nothing left to throw out.
' Wal, you may as well go too,' said Dick with a
sigh, and he drew his revolver from his breast and
dropped this his most precious possession to the
The boys looked at it as it shot downwards swift
and straight, swifter and straighter than a skylark
falls, and they thought of what might any moment be
their own lot, and it made the boldest of them grip
the ropes with fresh energy.
' Dick,' said Snap, ' in another five minutes at
most we shall drop right among the Crows. They
are so still now that one might fancy no one was in
camp, but there are the fires, and I can even in this
gloom make out the tops of the teepees. I wish
something would break the silence to tell us how far
we are from the ground.'
'Yes, pard,' replied Dick, 'one can't see much
through this mist.'
' If there was not such a crowd of them waiting
for us,' said Frank, ' this fog might give us our best
chance of escape.'
' Listen!' said Dick, ' if we do come down amongst
them, do each of you run for your lives, and each one
in a different direction. If anyone gets safely through,
let him try to make off to the dead-wood track and
hide where Snap fell down until he can get a chance
of getting clear back to Rosebud. But it ain't no
good talking,' he muttered with a sigh,' who is a-goin'
to  get through that  crowd of Crows without even   SNAP'S SACRIFICE
a six-shooter ?     Great Scott! if we could only get
beyond 'em in this mist!' he added.
' Yes, we could slip them well if we did, and all
would be saved ?' said Snap in a questioning tone,
with a strange little shake in his voice which no one
ever noticed before. ' Do you think, Dick, you could
get us all back to Rosebud if we did drift by the camp
• in this fog to-night ? ' he asked again.
' Sure, lad ! but what's the good of talking ? ' he
' No, it isn't, Dick,' said Snap, his face strangely
white and drawn, and the big brown eyes looking
misty and dim ; ' but if any of us do get through (it
will be over in a minute now) let the others tell the
story at home. Frank, old boy, give the mother my
love ; tell her Snap did his best.'
The voice was so strange (there was almost a sob
in it) that all three turned then eyes from the scene
below—the approaching tents and fires, right below
them—to Snap. It was too late ! As they turned they
saw him slip from his seat on the ring; for one
moment the strong brown hands clung to it, the
brave face looked at them; the fearless lips murmured
' Good-bye, save them Dick!' and then the balloon
sprang up again, and, as poor, half-maddened Wharton
said, ' twelve stone of the bravest flesh as God ever
put breath into ' chopped through the darkness, there
was a faint thud, heard even by those in the rapidly
rising balloon, and Snap had done his duty. He had
given his life for his friends. More than that no man
can do. 280
Up and up went the balloon. Twelve stone is a heavy
weight to be freed from, and the great globe of gas and
silk and cord soared upwards like a bird. Beneath
it, in the strange grey light which had come in
these higher regions of air with the evening, three
human beings still clung to life, although for the
moment all its sweetness seemed gone for them. A
minute ago a strong, resolute leader was with them,
and now then scared white faces stared and stared at
the empty place on the hoop, at the cords his hands
had held; but his place was empty, no sound came
from above or below, the majesty and the sadness of
night and the high places of the earth were around
them, and the familiar earth and hope were out of
reach and out of sight.
'Ah, Snap, it is well with you,' was perhaps the
thought uppermost in each one's heart as the dread
stillness reigned around and the cold grew, while a
faintness and dizziness began to creep over them. In
another minute, had nothing been done to prevent
their further ascent, it is probable that Dick and
Towzer would have been whirling downwards through
thousands of feet of air, until Nature's law had been FLIGHT OF THE CROWS
obeyed and earth had reached earth again. As for
Frank, tied to the ring and the ropes of the balloon,
he had already succumbed, owing probably to his
weakness and recent loss of blood, -and his nerveless
hands were hanging, like his head, weak and unconscious. If brother and friend had fallen he would
not have known, but would have rushed higher and
higher as the balloon shook off its human load.
Luckily, old Wharton's frame was as tough as
steel. Years of a trapper's life, long, lonely nights
with the cattle, had hardened him until he hardly felt
the cold and scarcely knew fatigue. Rousing himself
from the stupor into which Snap's death had thrown
him, his quick eyes took in everything.
' Save 'em, Dick, was what he said,' muttered the
old man : ' is this saving of 'em, you old fool ? '
' Young 'un!' he cried, and a voice which came
from the inside of the balloon replied, ' Young 'un!'
They were too high for earth echoes, but his voice
was returned to him as it were by the devil that was
bearing them away. For so Dick now considered the
balloon. It had been then toy and then slave. Men
had given it life, they had trusted themselves to it,
and now the treacherous fiend had them in its grip
and mocked at their puny powers and impotent
' Young 'un,' he cried again,' which is the rope as
he said we was to pull if we wanted to go down ? '
' This,' said Towzer dreamily, looking at one of
which he had hold.
' Pull it, then, for dear life !' roared Wharton, and
a mocking echo came back \ ' for dear life ! '
' You devil!' cried the old man, his heavy black
brows gathering together like a thunder-cloud, ' I'd
let your steam out if I'd my six-shooter here.'
' Can't you pull it, Towzer ?'
' No, Dick,' said the boy dreamily, ' my arm is too
weak, and I can hardly hold on with the other.'
Shifting his seat rapidly, careless of all risk to
himself, even at this height from the earth, Wharton
reached the boy's side, and, putting one strong arm
round him and the rope he clung to, with the other
tugged furiously at the gas-valve. The change of
Dick's position upset the balloon's equilibrium, and
it was a sufficiently horrible sight to see Frank's
apparently lifeless body hanging towards them from
the opposite side of the ring, limp and helpless,
whilst above them leaned the great balloon, the gas
going out now with quite a perceptible whistle. It
was very soon evident that their upward course had
been stayed, and in another minute that they were
sinking again fast—too fast, Dick feared, and shut off
steam as he called it.
' Are you better now, Towzer ?' he asked.
' Yes, Dick, I'm aU right now, but I felt very weak a
minute ago, and my hand was numb,' replied the boy.
' Hold on while I tie you in,' said Dick, and,
unfastening the faithful lariat from his waist, he
made the young one safe to the balloon.
' Now you look out for yourself,' he said. ' I'm
going round to Frank; he is coming round a bit, and
when we get together this brute of a thing will heel
over again; so look out,' and, so saying, he edged his
way round to Frank.
' Are we going down again, Dick ? '• he asked
' Yes, sonny,' replied the old man.
' Tell Towzer to pull the rope; let's go down to
Snap and die, if necessary, but don't go up there
again,' and an expression of horror indescribable
grew in Frank's upward glance.
' We're a-goin' down pretty smart now, sonny ! '
said Wharton; ' here, give yourself a hoist-up. There,
that's better,' he said, as Frank reached a sitting
posture on the ring again.
It seemed almost as if, at last, a spirit of peace
had entered into the great creature above them. The
ah was brilliantly clear now, and the first faint stars
had come out. Down, down, the balloon kept going,
but steadily and evenly. The mists had cleared away
now, and in the starlight our voyagers could see the
earth spread out like a great map beneath them. It
all looked level—almost hollow—as they looked down
upon it, and by no means gave them the idea of
being part of a solid sphere.
The balloon must have risen into a current of
strong wind, for in the short time since they had
risen from over the Indian encampment they had
passed over the forest-belt and were now descending
upon the prahie by the river whereon the Crows
used to have their autumn camp, until the Spirit of
the Lone Mountain appeared and frightened them
away. From point to point it must have been
a distance of twenty miles, but what is that to a
machine which has been known to travel at the rate
of ninety miles an hour ?   Dick could not help ex-
f\ fiiili;
claiming, when he saw the distance which they had
passed over:
' If you could only break these here critters to
stop when you want' 'em to, and to be a bit handy in
turning, I reckon there would be a considerable fall
in railway shares.'
' Yes,' replied Frank, ' if the old German's
invention for steering balloons is as good as his invention for keeping the gas in them, it would have
made a good fortune for us all.    Poor Snap !'
'Never mind Snap, sonny,' said old Wharton,
roughly trying to hide his emotion. ' You bet he
don't want no fortunes where he's got took to.'
' I suppose it wouldn't do to jump out now,' said
Frank after a while, as the balloon swept slowly
along, quite close to the ground.
' Not unless you prefer hopping to walking for the
rest of your life,' said Wharton. ' You'd be lucky if
you only smashed one leg.'
Just at that moment the light of the moon
flashed back from a small prairie-lake. Before the
buffalo had left the prairie it had been a favourite
wallow and drinking-place of theirs. Now it was
drying up for want of its old-fashioned visitors, who
beat and trampled its mud floor into such a solid
substance that it held the water all through the long
summer months. Still, there was a very considerable
sheet of water left.
' Dick !' cried Towzer,' if we go over that I'll drop
. into it; it can't hurt much, and I'm not going up again.'
' Wal, no more am I, if I can help it, and I reckon
Frank there doesn't want another ascent all by him-
self; so, if so be as we go anywheres near that water,
let's all drop off at once, sonny.'
This having been agreed upon, Frank and Towzer
were hurriedly freed from then cords.
The balloon was so low now that every moment
the boys expected to be dashed against the earth, but,
as luck would have it, she skimmed along like a great
white owl in the moonlight, and hung for a moment
over the pool. It was enough. There were three
sharp plunges in the cool water, and when Dick and
his companions came panting to the surface they
had parted for ever from the ship of the skies.
Looking up when they had gained the shore, they
saw her sailing higher and higher, the moonlight
seeming to gather about and rest upon her until she
was the centre of a great halo.
'I ain't sure as them Injuns weren't right after all,'
muttered Dick ; ' dang me if I don't think as it is a
' Dick! let us go back to Snap,' was Frank's first
remark after realising that once more they were
masters, more or less, of their own actions.
' You're a good lad, Frank,' replied .the old man
heartily, ' but it won't do. We could do no good;
they'd just scalp us, and we could not help Snap now
anyway. Besides, do you think that lad could walk
twenty miles ?'
' Yes, Dick, yes, I could easily,' cried Towzer, struggling to his feet, .but even as he did so he staggered.
The long fast, the peril and physical exertion of
the last few days, had utterly worn the boy out, and in
spite of his plucky efforts he could hardly stand.
: 286
' I know as your heart is strong enough, little 'un,
said Dick, ' but your legs have struck work. Just you
lie right here with your brother while I look around
for some'at to eat. There's some matches, Frank; see
if you can make up a little fire;' and, so saying,
Wharton left them.
After an absence of nearly an hour, during which
Frank had contrived to kindle a fire with grass and
twigs and game droppings, and his brother had fallen
into a heavy, dreamless sleep, old Wharton returned.
Putting his hand into his shirt front he drew out about
a dozen roots, like small turnips. These he laid down
by the fireside, and after trimming them a little with
his knife made a place for them in the hot ashes, and
set them therein to cook.
' Them's pom m es blanches, Frank,' said Dick, 'leastways that's what the Crows call 'em. I reckon they
learnt it from the French Canadians. Turnips I call
'em, and mighty good they are.    Try one.'
Frank wanted no second invitation—cooked and
uncooked was much the same to him ; anything would
not come amiss which would fill up the terrible vacuum
which he felt inside him.
' Shall I wake the young 'un, Dick ?' he asked.
' No, let him sleep a bit. When these things are
cooked a bit we'll wake him. He would make himself ill,
bolting these pommes blanches raw, if you woke him now.'
' Yes,' assented Frank, ' poor old Towzer ! I expect,
if he dined with an ostrich to-day, he would eat his
share even of mashed soda-water bottles I'
' His share!' exclaimed Wharton,' he'd starve that
By-and-by, the pommes blanches being cooked, they
woke the younger Winthrop, and, if they did not
manage to satisfy his appetite, at any rate they finished
the roots.
' Aren't there any more, Dick ?' he asked.
' Not for supper,' replied the old man firmly.
' Well, then, let's begin breakfast, it is nearly morning,' urged the boy.
'No, no, sonny, we'll all go to sleep now if you please,
and to-morrow we'll begin to work our . way back to
Rosebud,' said Wharton, and, suiting the action to the
word, he lay down where he was, and slept or pretended
to sleep.
When the boys opened their eyes it was broad daylight. Birds and insects hung over the pool, beasts
had been down to it to drink in the night and had
turned away frightened and disgusted at the human
taint in the ah. The hum and stir of life was all
around them. It was quiet, perhaps, for earth, but
how different from that dead, appalling silence
through which they had sailed but yesterday! Frank
almost wondered that the very sun's rays were not
chilled and blighted in passing through so drear a
But where was Wharton ? He certainly was not
hi sight. Had the old man gone for more food ? if not,
what had become of him ? At the head of Towzer's
bed, if a lah on the rough prairie may be so called, was
a turnip cut in two, and on the smooth white surface
was scratched with a burnt stick, ' Wait here, I'll be
back soon '—that was all. Dick had guessed that the
turnip would catch the hungry eye of Towzer as soon 288
as he awoke, so he had made it his messenger. But
it did not teU the boys much.
'It's not much good keeping this letter, is it,
Frank ?' asked Towzer.
' No,' replied his brother, ' why ? '
' Well, you see there is'nt much else for breakfast,'
was Towzer's answer, ' let's halve it; do you prefer
the page with the writing on, or the other ? '
Frank laughed a very half-hearted and hollow
laugh, and took the food offered him. He was older,
and could not forget, even for the moment, as Towzer
' I wonder where Dick has gone to, young 'un,' he
said after a minute or two of silence; ' I don't believe,
now I come to think of it, that he did go to sleep
when he pretended to last night.    He didn't snore.'
' Well, then, he wasn't asleep,' asserted Towzer;
' but I can't tell you anything about Dick, for if he
was shamming I wasn't.'
At that moment the quiet charm of the morning
was roughly broken; a dozen rifle-shots echoed
through the woods. Again and again came the sharp
crack of the fire-arms and the rattling echoes and
reverberations among the timber. Faint and far
off, too, but still distinct, they heard the Lidians' war-
whoop, a sound weird as the wolf's call, and fierce as
the Highlanders' slogan when the Camerons and
Lochiels drove Leslie's pikes and Leven's troopers
into the Garry's deepest pool. Man's hate or wild
beasts' rage has found no note in which to express
itself, more full of terror to those who hear it than
the Blackfoots' war-whoop. FLIGHT OF THE CROWS
The boys sprang to then feet.
' Dick ! Dick!' cried Frank in an agony of apprehension, ' have they got you too, old friend ?'
' No, no, Frank, they would not take so many shots
to kill Dick. Listen, it's a regular fight,' said Towzer
practically. ' You bet it's Warwolf and his Blackfeet
giving " gip " to those Crows. I wish I was there,'
he added.
For half an hour the firing continued and then
gradually ceased, one or two scattered shots telling
the story of the retreat and the pertinacious and
vengeful pursuit.
Towards midday a little band of horsemen emerged
from the timber, and came galloping towards the
pool, their long hair and the scalp trimmings of their
deerskin shirts and trousers streaming behind them
as they rode.
'It's all up, I suppose,' muttered Frank, and in his
heart he was abusing his ill-luck, which had left him
to fight his last fight with no weapons and a lame
Still it was pretty certain that, unless they shot
him from a distance, there would be one or two sturdy
English blows struck before the two Winthrop boys
were bound and helpless.
At that moment, however, there was no need of
fighting. A loud shout drew their attention to one
of the riders, his head bandaged in a piece of coloured
cloth, which streamed behind him like the Indians'
head-dresses, and in his hand a tomahawk, which had
done enough work that day to make the reputation of
u 290
a dozen Blackfoot chiefs. It was Dick Wharton
riding the Cradle, and next moment he was alongside
the Winthrops, together with Warwolf and half a
dozen other long-haired braves.
After exchanging a few hurried sentences Wharton
procured a lump of pemmican (dried meat) from
Warwolf, and proceeded to feed himself and his young
friends, the Blackfeet sitting silent and looking on
solemnly the while.
'After I'd got you two to go to sleep,' began
Wharton between the mouthfuls Of pemmican, ' I got
up and crept off to the timber.'
' Oh, then, you did play 'possum,' cried Frank; ' if
you don't want to be found out, you shouldn't forget
to snore another time, Dick ! '
' Wal, you were too sleepy to try to stop me anyway,' continued Dick,' and I couldn't rest in camp; I
wanted to take a look at the Crows' camp and see if
I could find poor Snap's body.'
Here a lump of pemmican seemed to go the
wrong way and nearly choked him. When he had
swallowed the obstruction he continued :
' About five miles from here I eame on the Blackfeet—ran right into them; painters couldn't go quieter
nor they were going, and they were all round me
before I knowed rightly where I was.'
Here Warwolf, who understood English, smiled
gravely, and, turning, repeated Dick's last sentence to
his comrades, one of whom made a reply which seemed
to express the sentiments of the rest.
' What are they grinning at, Dick ?' asked Frank.
' Oh,' replied Dick, ' old Bear's-tooth said as it was
only pale-faces who break twigs on the war-path.
Wal, perhaps he's right. For sartin, they broke none
to-day, but they broke a good many heads an hour or
two later,' and the boys' eyes followed Wharton's to
the gory trophies which hung by their long black locks
from the girdles of the Blackfoot chiefs.
' Had our brother, the white hunter, been as ready
with his scalping-knife as with his tomahawk,' interrupted Warwolf, ' there would have been more scalps
at his girdle than at ours.'
It was a handsome speech from an Indian to a
white warrior, and old Wharton acknowledged it.
' I don't spekilate much in that kind of fur,' he
allowed; ' if I do take a fancy to trimming my shirt or
pants, I rayther prefer grizzly to Crow.'
' Then you were at the fight, Dick ? ' asked Towzer.
' Oh, so you've time to make a remark, have you,
young 'un ?' said Frank; ' I've been watching you
some time, and didn't know which would open widest,
your eyes or your mouth.'
' Yes, I was at the fight, you bet,' replied Dick,
'and did what I could with this here handy little
instrument; but I'd like to have had my six-shooter.
Howsomdever, there ain't many Crows to kill now; we
surprised them beautifully;' and the old man almost
smacked his lips over the grim memory.
' If my brothers are ready,' said Warwolf when
even Towzer had finished eating, ' we will start. As
it is, we shall hardly reach the Crows' camp by the
Lone Mountain before nightfall.'
'Right you are, Warwolf,' said Dick; 'come on.
Here, young 'un, you get up on " the Cradle."
v 2
It now appeared that the Indians had two more
led horses with them, on which Dick and Frank
In spite of their previous exertions all were eager
to reach the Crows' encampment, a hope of plunder
urging on the Blackfeet, whilst the voice of hope,
which never dies out in the human breast, kept
whispering to the other three that it might just be
possible—just possible—that Snap still lived. 293
snap's story
It was in the grey of the morning, at that mysterious
time when the earth is just beginning to think about-
awaking—before there is any sunlight in the sky—
although the shamefaced whiteness of the stars
suggests that a greater light than theirs is coming.
All was still misty and undefined, a land of shadowy
dreams, and the camp of the Crows was silent as a
cemetery at midnight. The tall teepees, or tents of
deerskin, looked white and ghastly, and the long
fringes of scalp-locks which ran down their seams
and fluttered from their poles whispered vaguely
horrible things to that little chill wind which always
precedes the dawn. By-and-by, if anyone had been
listening (and surely the Crows should have had some
sentinels about), a bhd began to move restlessly
among the dry leaves, which he rattled as noisily as
if his wee body was as big as an elephant's. With a
quick querulous chirp he fluttered away, and from
time to time another bird woke, chattered, and
followed him. Then it seemed to the pale morning
star which was watching the camp, and which no
doubt has seen many such sights before, "that some of
the trees were double, for one stem stood still whilst „        .!■■
another parted from it, flitted for a moment across an
open glade, and then disappeared. Presently these
moving trees grew plainer, flitting hither and thither,
swift and silent-footed Indians, or the ghosts of Indians,
then long hair adorned with eagle-plumes and then
lithe red bodies nearly naked. Then a heavier and
better-dressed figure appeared, and" three or four Redskins gathered round it. Bending down and listening,
the star heard Wharton (for it was he) whisper to
' No ! no ! my brother, creep in like catamounts.
These Crows are cunning as Satan, and like enough
them deserted-looking tents is full of braves waiting
to shoot you down as you charge. Scatter and come
in on all sides separately, so as not to give 'em a solid
lump to fire into.'
' Our brother is a great warrior, wiser than the
serpent,' said Warwolf; ' let us take his advice :' and,
so saying, he and his comrades disappeared again
amongst the pines.
The Crows' camp looked for all the world as if
animation had been suddenly suspended in it, as if in
the full swing and vigour of life it had been frozen or
paralysed. The teepees of beautifully tanned white
deerskin, painted with all manner of quaint devices in
red ochre and other bright pigments, stood with their
flaps thrown back as if the occupants had just entered
them. They were fine teepees, as well made and as
big as any you will see on the North American
continent, standing as much as twenty feet high,
and some of them (one, at any rate) big enough to
hold thirty men.    On little rails of rough-cut boughs SNAP'S STORY
still hung some long strips of deer-meat, drying for
winter use, while the hides of the beasts whose flesh
this was, were pegged out upon the ground near the
tents. On one skm lay a sharp-edged white instrument, the shoulder-blade of a wapiti, as if just dropped
by the squaw who had been cleaning the skin with it.
Over two fires in the open, hung big cauldrons. The
fires were out, and looked grey and cheerless enough,
but the coyote, who had been smelling round the camp
all night, did not think that they were empty. By-and-
by, when he grew bolder, he would drag them down,
and, when he had upset them, feast on the meat inside.
He had been telling his troubles to the moon all night,
and his note was not a cheerful one; but even his coat
stood bolt upright with terror, and his tail dropped
between his legs, at the hideous yell which suddenly
roused him from his lair amongst the rocks.
It was the war-whoop of the Blackfeet, and with it
came the ring of a dozen rifles which had been fired
at random into the silent tents. But they only roused
the echoes. There came no answer, either in little
jets of flame, or loud report, or dying groan. All was
still. The tents were deserted, or the enemy was
strangely patient in reserving his fire.
And now from tent to tent flitted the quick figures,
and as tent after tent was entered and found empty
the strange silence dissolved and the harsh voices of
the warriors shouting to each other gave life and animation to the scene. Here a brave was dragging out
a pile of rugs from a deserted tent, there another' cut
down the scalps from his enemy's tent-pole, or in rare
cases laid hands on a rifle or tomahawk which its I
owner had not had time to take with him in his
flight. In the midst of the camp stood one tent larger
than all the rest, whiter than all, and richer in that
costly trimming which can only be shorn from dead
men's heads. Its sides were painted with demons and
good spirits, its flap was closed, and a kind of ensign
marked it as the tent of the tribal chief.
With a revolver in his hand which one of the Blackfeet had lent him, Dick Wharton approached this tent.
Here, if anywhere, he would meet with resistance.
Kheelounha (the grizzly), greatest of all the Crow
chieftains, was as brave a man as ever stepped.
Whatever had scared away his comrades, he might
well have returned, and be lying there behind the
closed entrance of his own lodge, prepared to die as he
had lived, steel in hand, and the warm blood of his
enemies flowing round him in streams.
Dick Wharton listened with straining ear and
caught breath, but no rustle of blankets, no breath,
however faint, betrayed the presence of a living being.
Well! a sudden dash is safer than a deliberate entry,
thought Dick, and with a jerk he flung aside the skin-
curtain and darted into the gloomy interior.
Quick as light a sinewy figure was upon him, its
iron fingers fixed like claws of steel into his throat, and
before his finger could touch the trigger of his beloved
six-shooter a dexterous back-heel sent him crashing
upon his back- As he fell the revolver flew from his
grip, he saw the ugly steel flash above his head, while
one hand pinned his throat, gagging and choking the
life out of him. For a moment his eyes swam, and
then a voice somewhere above, seemed to say,' Dick.'
The old trapper was partially stunned by his fall,
and as the word reached his ear the thought that he
was already dead flashed through his mind, and this
was Snap's first greeting on that further shore. But
the hand on his throat had relaxed, and was shaking
him now to rouse him, and, looking up half dazed, Dick
Wharton saw, not Snap in the sphit, but the strong,
why figure of the lad he loved.
' So you ain't Kheelounha, Snap ! and I ain't a
gone coon yet ?' remarked Wharton; ' and my har
is on still. But, sonny, how in thunder did you git
here alive ?'
' I'll tell you that by-and-by, old man,' laughed
Snap, shaking him warmly by the hand, ' but why the
deuce didn't you say who you were just now ? '
' Wal!' replied Wharton, ' I dessay as I had
oughterhave sent in my paste-board first to know if
you was at home, but you see me and them Blackfeet
thought as the hull family had left for the season.'
' Oh, you've got the Blackfeet with you, have you ?'
said Snap, ' and all this time I've been skulking like
a rat in a corner, shaking when I heard their infernal-
war-whoop, and only wondering if I could kill one or
two before they whipped off my own scalp.'
'Wal, my boy,' retorted Dick, ' I guess you'd have
made it awkward for some of 'em. It ain't a help to
conversation to have them claws of yourn round a
fellow's windpipe.'
' And now, where are the others, Dick ?' said
' All outside somewhere,' replied Wharton ; ' you'll
like enough find Towzer seeing what he can find to 298
eat.   He hasn't got over his appetite since we came
back to earth.'
I must ask my readers to let me skip the meeting
between the three boys. The truth is, it isn't an easy
thing to describe. To people who know nothing of
Englishmen it would appear a very cold and heartless
proceeding. The Redskin, perhaps, understands it
better than other Europeans do. When he himself
comes back from his very longest travels and meets the
wife whom he has not seen for a year he never
dreams of rushing into her arms, he doesn't even
raise his hat or shake hands, but he just sits down at
some distance from the family party and pretends not
to know who they are. His relations imitate his
manner, and when an hour or so has passed and they
have got fairly used to each other's appearance he
quietly mixes amongst the tribe without greeting or
comment, and life goes on as usual.
A Russian would, of course, have wrapped his arms
round Snap's neck, kissed him on both cheeks time
after time, would very likely have done a little cry
down the back of his neck, and then consoled himself
with neat vodka and let off steam in cigarette-smoke.
The boys simply said, ' Hulloh, Snap, old fellow !' and
gripped his hand as if they wanted to hurt it; were
very anxious to get him something to eat or drink or
sit down upon, and very much ashamed of the colour
which came into then cheeks, and couldn't for the life
of them understand why the tops of the bull-pines had
such a blurred and misty appearance at this time of day.
When the tents had all been ransacked and sentries
and outposts stationed by the careful Blackfeet, deter-
iff ■i
mined not to be surprised in then turn, Dick Wharton
re-lit. one of the fires and warmed up the savoury
mess of deer's-meat which it contained. That unfortunate coyote had missed his opportunity.
When they had somewhat appeased their appetites
Frank turned to Snap.
' Now, old chap, if you don't mind, explain all this
mystery to us. The last thing we know is that you
dropped out of the skies and gave your life for ours.
We aren't likely to forget that,' said Frank.
' You bet!' remarked Wharton with an emphasis
which made Towzer drop the bone he was picking into
the ashes.
• 'Oh,  that's all skittles,'  replied Snap disingenuously.
' I expect I must just have slipped off that ring
somehow. You know I never was much good on a
trapeze or anything of that sort at school.'
No one contradicted him. It wasn't necessary.
Even the eloquence of an Irish Queen's Counsel could
not induce boys to disbelieve their eyes.
' You remember,' he continued, ' what a fog there
was when I tumbled out. I had just said, I remember,
that I could make out the tops of the teepees through it..
Well, so I ought to have done. We were quite close
over the top of them, and when I fell, as luck would
have it, I came bang down on to the side of one of
them,- bounced off again like a new ball from the wall
of a racquet-court, and lay, I-suppose, stunned, for
some time on the grass. When I came to I was a
little muddled, and what puzzled me more than anything when I began to understand things at all was 300
that I was free, no thongs on my limbs, and not an
Indian in sight. I tried my limbs one after another,
in a deadly fright lest I should be unable to lift one of
them, but they seemed all right, or at least I could use
them. When I got up I felt, of course, an ache in
every muscle, but nothing was broken, and, although
even now I would rather sit on an air-cushion than on
a pine-log, I really hurt myself very little by my fall; of
course, if it had not been for the side of that friendly
teepee, I should have been jam by this time.'
' Well, but, Snap, what about the Indians ?' exclaimed Frank.
' As for them,' said his friend,' I could not understand at first, and, although it seemed very unreasonable, kept suspecting a trap for some time. Of course,
what really happened was this. When we heard the
shouting of the warriors as the balloon bore down upon
their camp, it was not a gathering cry which we heard,
but the sound of a panic. They saw, not the balloon
with their four enemies in it just going to drop into
their hands, but they saw, or thought that they saw, the
great white spirit of the Lone Mountain, incensed by
then insolence in approaching too near to his throne,
swooping down through the mists of evening like an
eagle-owl upon his prey, and—well, they bolted!'
' That's it, Snap! that's it, sonny! You've read 'em
like a book,' ejaculated Wharton. ' Do you remember as
I said I couldn't understand them Injuns making such
a tarnation row when they saw us a-coming ? '
' I do,' replied Snap, ' and you were right.'
' I was, sonny, and I am going to be right this time,
too, when I tell you that Bull Pine Park is as good SNAP'S  STORY
property now for the firm as if it were fenced and
railed in, with a regiment of Nor'-West police picketed
in every corner of it. Them Injuns—them confounded
Crows—will never put then hoofs inside our reserve
again, you bet!' and the old cowboy lay back and
laughed long and low as he thought of his enemies
and the scare they had had.
' Frank,' he said after a while, ' you couldn't draw
a balloon, could you ? Just a rough outline, you know
— a sort of a bubble with a boat at the bottom ?'
' Yes, Dick, how will that do ?' replied Frank,
scratching out the required figure in the ashes at his
' That's the ticket; leastways, if no one has any objection, that's the brand of the firm. What do you say,
Snap ? It ain't easy to get a new brand nowadays, and
that will remind us of how we got our range,' said Dick.
' So be it, Dick,' replied he; ' but we must not forget
about these papers,' and, so saying, he drew from the
inside of his shirt the papers which had been taken
by him from the German aeronaut's box A.
' So you stuck to them all the time, did you, Snap ?'
asked Towzer; ' do you think there is anything in
' Anything in what,' asked Snap; ' in the papers ?'
' No, I mean is it worth while bothering about what
the old man asks ?   Don't you think he was mad ?'
' Mad or sane,' was Snap's answer, ' I am going to
do what he asks us. It may not be a paying speculation to go over to Europe to carry out his bequest
on the chance of what we shall get out of his " few
little houses, at Potsdam" and our share of the patents,
i% 302
but it is a plain duty to the man whose death was,
under Providence, the means of saving all our lives.'
' Snap is right,' assented Wharton, 'it don't do to
go back on a pard as is dead.'
And so, on consideration, thought they all, and by
the time the Indian camp had been thoroughly ransacked, and the victorious and heavily laden Blackfeet
were ready to move, our friends had unanimously
resolved to make then way back to Rosebud before
the snows caught them and detained them for the
It was a very near race, that race between the
snow-king and Wharton's little party; but Wharton
won, and until his return was explained met with unlimited chaff for what his companions called his want
of ' sand.' However, his story put a new aspect on the
matter, and aU agreed heartily with the old foreman
that if he had married a Blackfoot squaw and paid for
the range in ' greenbacks' he would not have been
more secure of enjoying quiet possession of Bull Pine
Park than he was now.
Nares had left, so that they could get no help from
him; but the cowboy is a generous and trustful fellow
(it's not very safe to take him in, by the way, unless you
are an unusually quick revolver-shot), and amongst
the ' boys' at the ranche a purse was soon made up to
take one of the lads to Berlin to execute the old professor's wishes.
Then arose a difficulty: who was to go ? Clearly
Snap ought to have gone, but he would not. Towzer
was ready enough to go—he did not see much fun in
getting up at dawn to feed frozen-out cattle—but un- SNAP'S STORY
luckily a want of confidence in Master Towzer's capacity
was felt, and, as old Dick said:
' No, my lad,, you had a lot better stay here. If
anyone's hide wants hardening it's yourn. Another
six months here will do you no harm.'
' Another six months, Dick!' grumbled the lad,
' why, as far as we can see I am likely to grow up with
the country as you caU it.'
' No, you aren't, sonny,' replied Dick sadly; ' I'm
afeard as that old German's inventions may steer a
balloon after all, but they'll spoil three likely cowboys.'.
' Not three anyway, Dick,' said Snap's voice at his
side; ' there is one would rather be a cowboy here
than a duke over there.'
Finally it was arranged that Frank should go.
'He is as level-headed as a Yankee lawyer,' said
Dick, ' and, besides, his arm isn't all right yet. I'm
thinking the frost got into it a bit.'
So Frank went, and the boys saw him off, papers
and all, and stood for nearly a quarter of an hour
looking along those bright metals which led so straight
towards the east, the iron link which binds the old
world to the new. 304
Just one more scene, readers, and then you must say
good-bye to Snap and Frank, Dick, Towzer, and the
author. I don't call you ' gentle' reader, as some
fellows might do, because, though I like boys to grow
up ' gentlemen,' I am not very fond myself of gentle
boys—youngsters who sit in the drawing-room and
do knitting and play the piano. I dare say they are
good enough in their way, but they will never enjoy a
merry bout with the boxing-gloves, or, when they grow
older, a breathless scurry after stampeded cattle or a
pack like the old Berkshire. And that last sentence
brings me home again, of course.
It was a November morning at Fairbury, and the
way the thrushes were whistling would have persuaded
any but a hunting man that it was balmy April
instead of bleak November. Bleak it certainly was not.
The ah was a little fresh and crisp, to be sure, and a
good many of the leaves had fluttered down aheady,
but the covers were still too thick to shoot, and the old
cock-pheasants who were crowing lustily in the shrubbery last night knew that as well as old Admiral CONCLUSION
Chris, whose fingers had been itching ever since the
first of October for a ' cut at a rocketer.'
' Uncle Chris always does kill a few " magpies "
about the end of September,' had been Frank's verdict long ago, and I fear that the allegation was true
in fact, for that keen old sportsman, used to shooting
in an Indian jungle at everything he saw, from peacocks to a native gun-bearer, could not always resist
the attractions of a precocious ' longtail.'
It was just nine o'clock; morning prayers were
over, and the sun glanced off the old red brick and
through the tree-boughs into the windows of the
breakfast-room of the Hall. There it lit on a snowy
cloth, glanced at a tempting pink ham and some cold
game on the sideboard, peeped over the top of the
plate-warmer before the fire, and discovered kidneys
lying lovingly alongside little rolls of bacon (for all
the world like the ringlets of the last generation) and
many other good things. There was a pleasant
aroma of coffee about the room; a glow of firelight
within, and a more glorious glow of sunlight without.
Altogether it was a room the very memory of
which makes me feel hungry and happy.
In the room, at the moment at which I ask you to
peep into it, are four people : a little grey-haired lady
in a dark dress, and a quantity of pretty feathery
white things about her, as becoming as hoarfrost on
an evergreen; and three men. You could not disguise
the Admhal if you tried, so I won't try; but it is hard
to believe that it is he indeed, for, instead of looking older, he looks positively juvenile, in spite of the
old-fashioned blue stock which he wears.
il 7
' Every friend will be there,
And all trouble and care
Will be left far behind '
Tie hummed.
' And so will you, Chris, if you don't stop singing
and rescue the kidneys from Willie,' interrupts Mrs.
Winthrop, with a smile in her bright eyes.
' Oh, don't, mother, that's too bad of you, and you
know it's my last chance before that North-west
appetite arrives on the scene,' expostulates that young
gentleman, arrayed in all the glory of white leathers,
although an old shooting-coat still clothes the form
which in another hour will blossom into pink.
' It's not like Snap to be so late,' said the Admiral,
' and the morning of the opening meet too !'
' You forget, Chris, that he didn't get here, could
not have got here, until three this morning. How
would five hours' sleep suit you, my brother ? '
' Well, mother, the Admiral started early,' put in
Frank. ' I heard the first gun ten minutes after you
left the dining-room last night.'
' Pooh, pooh ! boy,' puffed the indignant veteran,
and would probably at that moment have conclusively
proved to his disrespectful nephew that no Admiral
ever snores; but just then there came a tap at the
French window, and everyone rushed to open it.
Another moment both Mrs. Winthrop's hands lay in
Snap's, and his tall young figure bent as he kissed
the little woman reverently on the forehead.
' God bless you, Snap!' was all she could say, and
his answer came quite quietly :
' He has, dear—aren't we all at home again ?' CONCLUSION
And then, somehow, all .settled quietly into then
old places, only that there was a tendency on the part
of everyone to follow Snap's every action with friendly
eyes, anxious to discover something which they could
do for then hero.
As for Snap, he was not such a prig as to think
for a moment that this great change, or any of it,
was his doing. ' Deuced lucky' was what he called
it—in his own heart he had a more reverent way of
speaking of it.
This November morning was just two years from
the day when he and Towzer had stood watching the
Eastern train disappear along the fine, carrying
Frank and the old German's papers with it. In
Berlin Frank had found that the professor's name
was as well known as the Kaiser's; more, that his
name was known as well in London or Paris as in
Berlin. Von Bulberg, the professor's friend, had
received Frank with open arms, had gathered the
scientists of the great city together to fete him and
listen to his story, had helped him to find an honest
and expert lawyer, and, between them, they had taken
out the patents and executed every wish expressed in
that last will and testament.
As for the 'few little houses at Potsdam,' the
worthy aeronaut evidently set small store by the
ordinary things of this earth. When a young man he
had come into a very considerable property, of which
he had spent very little, and ever since his inventions
had been adding one small fortune to another, all of
which had been invested in house property at Potsdam.    The result was that when Frank's lawyer laid 308
the accounts before him he found that an income of
nearly 10,000Z. a year would fall to the share of
himself and his friends, as representing ' the few little
houses at Potsdam.'
As the professor had no kith or kin, the boys had
no scruple in taking the good things Providence had
sent them, but I fancy that a very considerable portion of their share of the royalties on the professor's
two patents finds its way to such institutions as Dr.
Barnardo's Home for Boys and the like.
With their portion of the money Frank and
Towzer had bought back the old home, investing all
they had to spare in Snap's ranche, for neither persuasion nor anything else could tear him away from
Dick and the Bull Pine Range, upon which these two
partners had now got together as fine a herd as you
will see in the North-west. After much correspondence and two years of waiting his old friends had
at last induced him to come home for a winter's
Out West, Dick was in command, and under him
was as smart a lot of riders as even he could desire.
The cattle did well on the Bull Pine Range, being well
sheltered among the bluffs round the Lone Mountain,,
so that during the winter there was no reason why
' the boss' should not come over to the old country
for a spin with the hounds if he could afford it. And
Snap could afford that, and a good deal more. Ten
per cent, for your money would be marvellously good
interest in any business in England; with luck, Dick
and Snap did not think much of twice that at Bull
' So, Snap, I see your professor's patent is to be
adopted by the Army,' remarked the Admiral.
' Yes, Lord W. has approved it, and what he
approves is bound to " go " nowadays,' replied Snap.
' I should think they would be very useful for reconnoitring an enemy's position, for surveying the country
generally, and taking messages from point to point.'
' That's all very well, but what are the other
fellows going to do all the time ? wouldn't they put a
bullet into your great gas-bag and bring it down with
a run ? ' demanded the Admiral.
' I think not, sir,' said Frank; | we had a hole or
two in ours, and she didn't come down as fast as we
wanted her to always.'
'Resides, you forget, uncle,' added Towzer, ' that
she would be a little " taller " even than the tallest
rocketer, and you know they are too tall even for you
' Well, you may be right, Snap,' the Admiral
allowed, taking no notice of Towzer's insinuations,
' but I'm glad that I shall never be Admiral of a fleet
of those crafts.'
' You agree with Dick, sir,' said Snap; ' " give me
a cayuse," he says, " as'll buck itself out of its girths,
as'll buck itself out of its skin, if you like, but no
more of them bally balloons for me ! " '
' Ah, well! here are our cayuses, Snap, and it is
about time that we got into the saddle. It is a good
four miles to the Lawn,' remarked Frank; while
Towzer, always intent on creature comforts, was
anxious to know what Snap would have in his flask.
' No spirits, thank you, old chap,' was the answer.
^Ma 310
' I've brought a large supply of good ones of my own.
Neither whisky nor " tip" could compare to the
spirits I am in this morning.'
Five minutes later they were in their saddles, the
Winthrops in pink, dressed with all that scrupulous
neatness which is essential for a soldier or a fox-
hunter, and which comes amiss to no one. Snap was
more quietly attired, but his was an easy figure for
the tailor to fit, and when he rode up with his friends,
the connoisseurs of men and of horses, who were
chatting and smoking at the meet, decided with one
consent that, though there might be a bow where
there ought to have been a strap, a button too many
or too few, yet, allowing for the fact that he was ' only
a colonist,' that young Hales looked a good sort, and
' a workman, sh, all over.'
A ' workman all over.' It's hunting slang, I
know, but it is the keynote of the English character
still, thank goodness. If you can work and will work,
and that work is honest and true, men will respect you,
women admhe you, and even the most exacting of
relations forgive you what one may call vice, another
mischief, an indulgent old sailor ' go,' or a Nor'-West
cowboy, like Dick, ' sand.'
SpoUisuoode & co. Piiiiiers, Neicstnet Square, London.


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