Two Little Savages
By Ernest Thompson Seton
Public Domain Books
The Triumph Of Guy
The boys had hunted the Woodchuck quite regularly since first meeting it. Their programme was much the same–each morning about nine or ten they would sneak out to the clover field. It was usually Guy who first discovered the old Grizzly, then all would fire a harmless shot, the Woodchuck would scramble into his den and the incident be closed for the day. This became as much a part of the day’s routine as getting breakfast, and much more so than the washing of the dishes. Once or twice the old Grizzly had narrow escapes, but so far he was none the worse, rather the better, being wiser. The boys, on the other hand, gained nothing, with the possible exception of Guy. Always quick-sighted, his little washed-out optics developed a marvellous keenness. At first it was as often Yan or Sam who saw the old Grizzly, but later it was always Guy.
One morning Sam approached the game from one point, Guy and Yan from another some yards away. “No Woodchuck!” was the first opinion, but suddenly Guy called “I see him.” There in a little hollow fully sixty yards from his den, and nearly a hundred from the boys, concealed in a bunch of clover, Guy saw a patch of gray fur hardly two inches square. “That’s him, sure.”
Yan could not see it at all. Sam saw but doubted. An instant later the Woodchuck (for it was he) stood up on his hind legs, raised his chestnut breast above the clover, and settled all doubt.
“By George!” exclaimed Yan in admiration. ’That is great. You have the most wonderful eyes I ever did see. Your name ought to be ’Hawkeye’–that should be your name.”
“All right,” shrilled out Guy enthusiastically. “Will you–will you, Sam, will you call me Hawkeye? I think you ought to,” he added pleadingly.
“I think so, Sam,” said the Second Chief. “He’s turned out great stuff, an’ it’s regular Injun.”
“We’ll have to call a Council and settle that. Now let’s to business.”
“Say, Sapwood, you’re so smart, couldn’t you go round through the woods to your side and crawl through the clover so as get between the old Grizzly and his den?” suggested the Head Chief.
“I bet I can, an’ I’ll bet a dollar–”
“Here, now,” said Yan, “Injuns don’t have dollars.”
“Well, I’ll bet my scalp–my black scalp, I mean–against Sam’s that I kill the old Grizzly first.”
“Oh, let me do it first–you do it second,” said Sam imploringly.
“Errr–yer scared of yer scalp.”
“I’ll go you,” said Sam.
Each of the boys had a piece of black horsehair that he called his scalp. It was tied with a string to the top of his head–and this was what Guy wished to wager.
Yan now interfered: “Quit your squabbling, you Great War Chiefs, an’ ’tend to business. If Woodpecker kills old Grizzly he takes Sapwood’s scalp; if Sappy kills him he takes the Woodpecker’s scalp, an’ the winner gets a grand feather, too.”
Sam and Yan waited impatiently in the woods while Guy sneaked around. The Woodchuck seemed unusually bold this day. He wandered far from his den and got out of sight in hollows at times. The boys saw Guy crawl through the fence, though the Woodchuck did not. The fact was, that he had always had the enemy approach him from the other side, and was not watching eastward.
Guy, flat on his breast, worked his way through the clover. He crawled about thirty yards and now was between the Woodchuck and his den. Still old Grizzly kept on stuffing himself with clover and watching toward the Raften woods. The boys became intensely excited. Guy could see them, but not the Woodchuck. They pointed and gesticulated. Guy thought that meant “Now shoot.” He got up cautiously. The Woodchuck saw him and bounded straight for its den–that is, toward Guy. Guy fired wildly. The arrow went ten feet over the Grizzly’s head, and, that “huge, shaking mass of fur” bounding straight at him, struck terror to his soul. He backed up hastily, not knowing where to run. He was close to the den.
The Woodchuck chattered his teeth and plunged to get by the boy, each as scared as could be. Guy gave a leap of terror and fell heavily just as the Woodchuck would have passed under him and home. But the boy weighed nearly 100 pounds, and all that weight came with crushing force on old Grizzly, knocking the breath out of his body. Guy scrambled to his feet to run for his life, but he saw the Woodchuck lying squirming, and plucked up courage enough to give him a couple of kicks on the nose that settled him. A loud yell from the other two boys was the first thing that assured Guy of his victory. They came running over and found him standing like the hunter in an amateur photograph, holding his bow in one hand and the big Woodchuck by the tail in the other.
[Illustration: The hunter]
“Now, I guess you fellers will come to me to larn you how to kill Woodchucks. Ain’t he an old socker? I bet he weighs fifty pounds–yes, near sixty.” (It weighed about ten pounds.)
“Good boy! Bully boy! Hooray for the Third War Chief! Hooray for Chief Sapwood!” and Guy had no cause to complain of lack of appreciation on the part of the others.
He swelled out his chest and looked proud and haughty. “Wished I knew where there was some more Woodchucks,” he said. ’I know how to get them, if the rest don’t.”
“Well, that should count for a grand coup, Sappy.”
[Illustration: “Guy gave a leap of terror and fell."]
“You tole me you wuz goin’ to call me ’Hawkeye’ after this morning.”
“We’ll have to have a Grand Council to fix that up,” replied the Head Chief.
“All right; let’s have it this afternoon, will you?”
“’Bout four o’clock?”
“Why, yes; any time.”
“And you’ll fix me up as ’Hawkeye,’ and give me a dandy Eagle feather for killing the Woodchuck, at four o’clock?”
“Yes, sure, only, why do you want it at four o’clock?”
But Guy seemed not to hear, and right away after dinner he disappeared.
“He’s dodging the dishwashing again,” suggested the Woodpecker.
“No, he isn’t,” said the Second Chief. “I believe he’s going to bring his folks to see him in his triumph.”
“That’s so. Let’s chip right in and make it an everlasting old blowout–kind of a new date in history. You’ll hear me lie like sixty to help him out.”
“Good enough. I’m with you. You go and get your folks. I’ll go after old Caleb, and we’ll fix it up to call him ’Hawkeye’ and give him his grand coup feather all at once.”
“’Feard my folks and Caleb wouldn’t mix,” replied Sam, “but I believe for a splurge like this Guy’d ruther have my folks. You see, Da has the mortgage on their place.”
So it was agreed Sam was to go for his mother, while Yan was to prepare the Eagle feather and skin the Woodchuck.
It was not “as big as a bear,” but it was a very large Woodchuck, and Yan was as much elated over the victory as any of them. He still had an hour or more before four o’clock, and eager to make Guy’s triumph as Indian as possible, he cut off all the Woodchuck’s claws, then strung them on a string, with a peeled and pithed Elder twig an inch long between each two. Some of the claws were very, very small, but the intention was there to make a Grizzly-claw necklace.
Guy made for home as fast as he could go. His father hailed him as he neared the garden and evidently had plans of servitude, but Guy darted into the dining-room-living-room-bedroom-kitchen-room, which constituted nine-tenths of the house.
“Oh, Maw, you just ought to seen me; you just want to come this afternoon–I’m the Jim Dandy of the hull Tribe, an they’re going to make me Head Chief. I killed that whaling old Woodchuck that pooty nigh killed Paw. They couldn’t do a thing without me–them fellers in camp. They tried an’ tried more’n a thousand times to get that old Woodchuck–yes, I bet they tried a million times, an’ I just waited till they was tired and give up, then I says, ’Now, I’ll show you how.’ First I had to point him out. Them fellers is no good to see things. Then I says, ’Now, Sam and Yan, you fellers stay here, an’ just to show how easy it is when you know how, I’ll leave all my bosenarrers behind an’ go with nothing.’ Wall, there they stood an’ watched me, an’ I s-n-e-a-k-e-d round the fence an’ c-r-a-w-l-e-d in the clover just like an Injun till I got between him an’ his hole, and then I hollers and he come a-snortin’ an’ a-chatterin’ his teeth at me to chaw me up, for he seen I had no stick nor nothin’, an’ I never turned a hair; I kep’ cool an’ waited till jest as he was going to jump for my throat, then I turned and gave him one kick on the snoot that sent him fifty feet in the air, an’ when he come down he was deader’n Kilsey’s hen when she was stuffed with onions. Oh, Maw, I’m just the bully boy; they can’t do nothin’ in camp ’thout me. I had to larn ’em to hunt Deer an’ see things–an’–an’–an’–lots o’ things, so they are goin’ to make me Head Chief of the hull Tribe, an’ call me ’Hawkeye,’ too; that’s the way the Injuns does. It’s to be at four o’clock this afternoon, an’ you got to come.”
Burns scoffed at the whole thing and told Guy to get to work at the potatoes, and if he left down the bars so that the Pig got out he’d skin him alive; he would have no such fooling round his place. But Mrs Burns calmly informed him that she was going. It was to her much like going to see a university degree conferred on her boy.
Since Burns would not assist, the difficulty of the children now arose. This, however, was soon settled. They should go along. It was two hours’ toil for the mother to turn the four brown-limbed, nearly naked, dirty, happy towsle-tops into four little martyrs, befrocked, beribboned, becombed and be-booted. Then they all straggled across the field, Mrs. Burns carrying the baby in one arm and a pot of jam in the other. Guy ran ahead to show the way, and four-year-old, three-year-old and two-year-old, hand in hand, formed a diagonal line in the wake of the mother.
They were just a little surprised on getting to camp to find Mrs. Raften and Minnie there in holiday clothes. Marget’s first feeling was resentment, but her second thought was a pleasant one. That “stuck-up" woman, the enemy’s wife, should see her boy’s triumph, and Mrs. Burns at once seized on the chance to play society cat.
“How do ye do, Mrs. Raften; hope you’re well,” she said with a tinge of malicious pleasure and a grand attempt at assuming the leadership.
“Quite well, thank you. We came down to see how the boys were getting on in camp.”
“They’ve got on very nicely sense my boy j’ined them,” retorted Mrs. Burns, still fencing.
“So I understand; the other two have become very fond of him," returned Mrs. Raften, seeking to disarm her enemy.
This speech had its effect. Mrs. Burns aimed only to forestall the foe, but finding to her surprise that the enemy’s wife was quite gentle, a truce was made, and by the time Mrs. Raften had petted and praised the four tow-tops and lauded Guy to the utmost the air of latent battle was replaced by one of cordiality.
The boys now had everything ready for the grand ceremony. On the Calfskin rug at one end was the Council; Guy, seated on the skin of the Woodchuck and nearly hiding it from view, Sam on his left hand and Yan with the drum, on his right. In the middle the Council fire blazed. To give air, the teepee cover was raised on the shady side and the circle of visitors was partly in the teepee and partly out.
The Great War Chief first lighted the peace pipe, puffed for a minute, then blew off the four smokes to the four winds and handed it to the Second and Third War Chiefs, who did the same.
Little Beaver gave three thumps on the drum for silence, and the Great Woodpecker rose up:
“Big Chiefs, Little Chiefs, Braves, Warriors, Councillors, Squaws, and Papooses of the Sanger Indians: When our Tribe was at war with them–them–them–other Injuns–them Birchbarks, we took prisoner one of their warriors and tortured him to death two or three times, and he showed such unusual stuff that we took him into our Tribe–”
Loud cries of “How–How–How,” led by Yan.
“We gave a sun-dance for his benefit, but he didn’t brown–seemed too green–so we called him Sapwood. From that time he has fought his way up from the ranks and got to be Third War Chief–”
“The other day the hull Tribe j’ined to attack an’ capture a big Grizzly and was licked bad, when the War Chief Sapwood came to the rescue an’ settled the owld baste with one kick on the snoot. Deeds like this is touching. A feller that kin kick like that didn’t orter be called Sapwood nor Saphead nor Sapanything. No, sirree! It ain’t right. He’s the littlest Warrior among the War Chiefs, but he kin see farder an’ do it oftener an’ better than his betters. He kin see round a corner or through a tree. ’Cept maybe at night, he’s the swell seer of the outfit, an’ the Council has voted to call him ’Hawkeye.’”
Here Little Beaver handed the Head War Chief a flat white stick on which was written in large letters “Sapwood.”
“Here’s the name he went by before he was great an’ famous, an’ this is the last of it.” The Chief put the stick in the fire, saying, “Now let us see if you’re too green to burn.” Little Beaver then handed Woodpecker a fine Eagle feather, red-tufted, and bearing in outline a man with a Hawk’s head and an arrow from his eye. “This here’s a swagger Eagle feather for the brave deed he done, and tells about him being Hawkeye, too” (the feather was stuck in Guy’s hair and the claw necklace put about his neck amid loud cries of “How–How–” and thumps of the drum), “and after this, any feller that calls him Sapwood has to double up and give Hawkeye a free kick.”
There was a great chorus of “How–How.” Guy tried hard to look dignified and not grin, but it got beyond him. He was smiling right across and half way round. His mother beamed with pride till her eyes got moist and overflowed.
Every one thought the ceremony was over, but Yan stood up and began: “There is something that has been forgotten, Chiefs, Squaws and Pappooses of the Sanger Nation: When we went out after this Grizzly I was witness to a bargain between two of the War Chiefs. According to a custom of our Tribe, they bet their scalps, each that he would be the one to kill the Grizzly. The Head Chief Woodpecker was one and Hawkeye was the other. Hawkeye, you can help yourself to Woodpecker’s scalp.”
Sam had forgotten about this, but he bowed his head. Guy cut the string, and holding up the scalp, he uttered a loud, horrible war-whoop which every one helped with some sort of noise. It was the crowning event. Mrs. Burns actually wept for joy to see her heroic boy properly recognized at last.
Then she went over to Sam and said, “Did you bring your folks here to see my boy get praised?”
Sam nodded and twinkled an eye.
“Well, I don’t care who ye are, Raften or no Raften, you got a good heart, an’ it’s in the right place. I never did hold with them as says ’There ain’t no good in a Raften.’ I always hold there’s some good in every human. I know your Paw did buy the mortgage on our place, but I never did believe your Maw stole our Geese, an’ I never will, an’ next time I hear them runnin’ on the Raftens I’ll jest open out an’ tell what I know.”
[Illustration: The picture on the Teepee Lining, to record Guy’s Exploit.]