Two Little Savages
By Ernest Thompson Seton
Public Domain Books
A “Massacree” of Palefaces
“Say, fellers, I know where there’s a stavin’ Birch tree–do you want any bark?”
“Yes, I want some,” said Little Beaver.
“But hold on; I guess we better not, coz it’s right on the edge o’ our bush, an’ Paw’s still at the turnips.”
“Now if you want a real war party,” said the Head Chief, “let’s massacree the Paleface settlement up the crick and get some milk. We’re just out, and I’d like to see if the place has changed any.”
So the boys hid their bows and arrows and headdresses, and, forgetting to take a pail, they followed in Indian file the blazed trail, carefully turning in their toes as they went and pointing silently to the track, making signs of great danger. First they crawled up, under cover of one of the fences, to the barn. The doors were open and men working at something. A pig wandered in from the barnyard. Then the boys heard a sudden scuffle, and a squeal from the pig as it scrambled out again, and Raften’s voice: “Consarn them pigs! Them boys ought to be here to herd them.” This was sufficiently alarming to scare the Warriors off in great haste. They hid in the huge root-cellar and there held a council of war.
“Here, Great Chiefs of Sanger,” said Yan, “behold I take three straws. That long one is for the Great Woodpecker, the middle size is for Little Beaver, and the short thick one with the bump on the end and a crack on top is Sappy. Now I will stack them up in a bunch and let them fall, then whichever way they point we must go, for this is Big Medicine.”
So the straws fell. Sam’s straw pointed nearly to the house, Yan’s a little to the south of the house, and Guy’s right back home.
“Aha, Sappy, you got to go home; the straw says so.”
“I ain’t goin’ to believe no such foolishness.”
“It’s awful unlucky to go against it.”
“I don’t care, I ain’t goin’ back,” said Guy doggedly.
“Well, my straw says go to the house; that means go scouting for milk, I reckon.”
Yan’s straw pointed toward the garden, and Guy’s to the residence and grounds of “J.G. Burns, Esq.”
“I don’t care,” said Sappy, “I ain’t goin’. I am goin’ after some of them cherries in your orchard, an’ ’twon’t be the first time, neither.”
“We kin meet by the Basswood at the foot of the lane with whatever we get,” said the First War Chief, as he sneaked into the bushes and crawled through the snake fence and among the nettles and manure heaps on the north side of the barnyard till he reached the woodshed adjoining the house. He knew where the men were, and he could guess where his mother was, but he was worried about the Dog. Old Cap might be on the front doorstep, or he might be prowling at just the wrong place for the Injun plan. The woodshed butted on the end of the kitchen. The milk was kept in the cellar, and one window of the cellar opened into a dark corner of the woodshed. This was easily raised, and Sam scrambled down into the cool damp cellar. Long rows of milk pans were in sight on the shelves. He lifted the cover of the one he knew to be the last put there and drank a deep, long draught with his mouth down to it, then licked the cream from his lips and remembered that he had come without a pail. But he knew where to get one. He went gently up the stairs, avoiding steps Nos. 1 and 7 because they were “creakers,” as he found out long ago, when he used to ’hook’ maple sugar from the other side of the house. The door at the top was closed and buttoned, but he put his jack-knife blade through the crack and turned the button. After listening awhile and hearing no sound in the kitchen, he gently opened the squeaky old door. There was no one to be seen but the baby, sound asleep in her cradle. The outer door was open, but no Dog lying on the step as usual. Over the kitchen was a garret entered by a trap-door and a ladder. The ladder was up and the trap-door open, but all was still. Sam stood over the baby, grunted, “Ugh, Paleface papoose,” raised his hand as if wielding a war club, aimed a deadly blow at the sleeping cherub, then stooped and kissed her rosy mouth so lightly that her pink fists went up to rub it at once. He now went to the pantry, took a large pie and a tin pail, then down into the cellar again. He, at first, merely closed the door behind him and was leaving it so, but remembered that Minnie might awaken and toddle around till she might toddle into the cellar, therefore he turned the button so that just a corner showed over the crack, closed the door and worked with his knife blade on that corner till the cellar was made as safe as before. He now escaped with his pie and pail.
Meanwhile his mother’s smiling face beamed out of the dark loft. Then she came down the ladder. She had seen him come and enter the cellar, by chance she was in the loft when he reached the kitchen, but she had kept quiet to enjoy the joke.
Next time the Woodpecker went to the cellar he found a paper with this on it: ’Notice to hostile Injuns–Next time you massacree this settlement, bring back the pail, and don’t leave the covers off the milk pans.”
Yan had followed the fence that ran south of the house. There was plenty of cover, but he crawled on hands and knees, going right down on his breast when he came to places more open than the rest. In this way he had nearly reached the garden when he heard a noise behind and, turning, he saw Sappy.
“Here, what are you following me for? Your straw pointed the other way. You ain’t playing fair.”
“Well, I don’t care, I ain’t going home. You fixed it up so my straw would point that way. It ain’t fair, an’ I won’t do it.”
“You got no right following me.”
“I ain’t following you, but you keep going just the place I want to go. It’s you following me, on’y keepin’ ahead. I told you I was after cherries.”
“Well, the cherries are that way and I’m going this way, and I don’t want you along.”
“You couldn’t get me if you wanted me.”
So Sappy went cherryward and Yan waited awhile, then crawled toward the fruit garden. After twenty or thirty yards more, he saw a gleam of red, then under it a bright yellow eye glaring at him. He had chanced on a hen sitting on her nest. He came nearer, she took alarm and ran away, not clucking, but cackling loudly. There were a dozen eggs of two different styles, all bright and clean, and the hen’s comb was bright red. Yan knew hens. This was easy to read: Two stray hens laying in one nest, and neither of them sitting yet.
“So ho! Straws show which way the hens go.”
He gathered up the eggs into his hat and crawled back toward the tree where all had to meet.
But before he had gone far he heard a loud barking, then yells for help, and turned in time to see Guy scramble up a tree while Cap, the old Collie, barked savagely at him from below. Now that he was in no danger Sappy had the sense to keep quiet. Yan came back as quickly as possible. The Dog at once recognized and obeyed him, but doubtless was much puzzled to make out why he should be pelted back to the house when he had so nobly done his duty by the orchard.
“Now, you see, maybe next time you’ll do what the medicine straw tells you. Only for me you’d been caught and fed to the pigs, sure.”
“Only for you I wouldn’t have come. I wasn’t scared of your old Dog, anyway. Just in about two minutes more I was comin’ down to kick the stuffin’ out o’ him myself.”
“Perhaps you’d like to go back and do it now. I’ll soon call him.”
“Oh, I hain’t got time now, but some other time–Let’s find Sam.”
So they foregathered at the tree, and laden with their spoils, they returned gloriously to camp.