Two Little Savages
By Ernest Thompson Seton
Public Domain Books
A Visit from Raften
“Sam, I must have another note-book. It’s no good getting up a new ’massacree’ of Whites, ’cause there ain’t any note-books there, but maybe your father would get one the next time he drove to Downey’s Dump. I suppose I’ll have to go on a peace party to ask him.”
Sam made no answer, but looked and listened out toward the trail, then said: “Talk of the er–Angels, here comes Da.”
When the big man strode up Yan and Guy became very shy and held back. Sam, in full war-paint, prattled on in his usual style.
“Morning, Da; I’m yer kid. Bet ye’r in trouble an’ want advice or something.”
Raften rolled up his pendulous lips and displayed his huge front tusks in a vast purple-and-yellow grin that set the boys’ hearts at ease.
“Kind o’ thought you’d be sick av it before now.”
“Will you let us stay here till we are?” chimed in Sam, then without awaiting the reply that he did not want, “Say, Da, how long is it since there was any Deer around here?”
“Pretty near twenty years, I should say.”
“Well, look at that now,” whispered the Woodpecker.
Raften looked and got quite a thrill for the dummy, half hidden in the thicket, looked much like a real deer.
“Don’t you want to try a shot?” ventured Yan.
Raften took the bow and arrow and made such a poor showing that he returned them with the remark. “Sure a gun’s good enough for me," then, “Ole Caleb been around since?”
“Old Caleb? I should say so; why, he’s our stiddy company.”
“’Pears fonder o’you than he is of me.”
“Say, Da, tell us about that. How do you know it was Caleb shot at you?”
“Oh, I don’t know it to prove it in a coort o’ law, but we quarr’led that day in town after the Horse trade an’ he swore he’d fix me an’ left town. His own stepson, Dick Pogue, stood right by and heard him say it; then at night when I came along the road by the green bush I was fired at, an’ next day we found Caleb’s tobacco pouch and some letters not far away. That’s about all I know, an’ all I want to know. Pogue served him a mean trick about the farm, but that’s none o’ my business. I ’spect the old fellow will have to get out an’ scratch for himself pretty soon.”
“He seems kind-hearted,” said Yan.
“Ah, he’s got an awful temper, an’ when he gets drunk he’d do anything. Other times he’s all right.”
“Well, how is it about the farm?” Sam asked. “Doesn’t he own it?”
“No, I guess not now. I don’t r’aly know. I only hear them say. Av coorse, Saryann ain’t his own daughter. She’s nowt o’ kin, but he has no one else, and Dick was my hired man–a purty slick feller with his tongue; he could talk a bird off a bush; but he was a good worker. He married Sary and persuaded the old man to deed them the place, him to live in comfort with them to the end of his days. But once they got the place, ’twas aisy to see that Dick meant to get rid o’ Caleb, an’ the capsheaf was put last year, about his Dog, old Turk. They wouldn’t have him ’round. They said he was scaring the hens and chasing sheep, which is like enough, for I believe he killed wan ov my lambs, an’ I’d give ten dollars to have him killed–making sure ’twas him, av coorse. Rather than give up the Dog, Caleb moved out into the shanty on the creek at the other end of the place. Things was better then, for Dick and Saryann let up for awhile an’ sent him lots o’ flour an’ stuff, but folks say they’re fixin’ it to put the old man out o’ that and get shet of him for good. But I dunno; it’s none o’ my business, though he does blame me for putting Dick up to it.”
“How’s the note-book?” as Raften’s eye caught sight of the open sketch-book still in Yan’s hand.
“Oh, that reminds me,” was the reply. “But what is this?” He showed the hoof-mark be had sketched. Raften examined it curiously.
“H-m, I dunno’; ’pears to me moighty loike a big Buck. But I guess not; there ain’t any left.”
“Say, Da,” Sam persisted, “wouldn’t you be sore if you was an old man robbed and turned out?”
“Av coorse; but I wouldn’t lose in a game of swap-horse, an’ then go gunnin’ after the feller. If I had owt agin him I’d go an’ lick him or be licked, an’ take it all good-natured. Now that’s enough. We’ll talk about something else.”
“Will you buy me another note-book next time you go to Downey’s Dump? I don’t know how much it will cost or I’d give you the money,” said Yan, praying mentally that it be not more than the five or ten cents which was all his capital.
“Shure; I’ll charge it up. But ye needn’t wait till next week. Thayer’s one back at the White settlement ye can have for nothin’.”
“Say, Mr. Raften,” Guy broke in, “I kin lick them all at Deer-hunting.”
Sam looked at Yan and Yan looked at Sam, then glanced at Guy, made some perfectly diabolical signs, seized each a long knife and sprung toward the Third War Chief, but he dodged behind Raften and commenced his usual “Now you let me ’lone–”
Raften’s eye twinkled. “Shure, I thought ye was all wan Tribe an’ paceable.”
“We’ve got to suppress crime,” retorted his son.
“Make him let me ’lone,” whimpered Sapwood.
“We’ll let ye off this time if ye find that Woodchuck. It’s near two days since we’ve had a skirmish.”
“All right,” and he went. Within five minutes he came running back, beckoning. The boys got their bows and arrows, but fearing a trick they held back. Guy dashed for his own weapons with unmistakable and reassuring zest; then all set out for the field. Raften followed, after asking if it would be safe for him to come along.
The grizzly old Woodchuck was there feeding in a bunch of clover. The boys sneaked under the fence, crawling through the grass in true Injun fashion, till the Woodchuck stood up to look around, then they lay still; when he went down they crawled again, and all got within forty yards. Now the old fellow seemed suspicious, so Sam said, “Next time he feeds we all fire together.” As soon, then, as the Woodchuck’s breast was replaced by the gray back, the boys got partly up and fired. The arrows whizzed around Old Grizzly, but all missed, and he had scrambled to his hole before they could send a second volley.
“Hallo, why didn’t you hit him, Sappy?”
“I’ll bet I do next time.”
When they returned to Raften he received them with ridicule.
“But ye’r a poor lot o’ hunters. Ye’d all starve if it wasn’t for the White settlement nearby. Faith, if ye was rale Injun ye’d sit up all night at that hole till he come out in the morning: then ye’d get him; an’ when ye get through with that one I’ve got another in the high pasture ye kin work on.”
So saying, he left them, and Sam called after him:
“Say, Da; where’s that note-book for Yan? He’s the Chief of the ’coup-tally,’ and I reckon he’ll soon have a job an’ need his book. I feel it in my bones.”
“I’ll lave it on yer bed.” Which he did, and Yan and Sam had the pleasure of lifting it out of the window with a split stick.