Two Little Savages
By Ernest Thompson Seton
Public Domain Books
Hawkeye Claims Another Grand Coup
“_Wa wa wa wa wa! Wa wa wa wa wa! Wa wa wa wa wa!_” Three times it echoed through the woods–a loud, triumphant cry.
“That’s Hawkeye with a big story of bravery; let’s hide.”
So Sam and Yan scrambled quickly into the teepee, hid behind the lining and watched through an “arrow hole.” Guy came proudly stepping, chin in air, uttering his war-whoop at intervals as he drew near, and carrying his coat bundled up under one arm.
“_Coup! Grand coup! Wa wa wa wa!_” he yelled again and again, but looked simple and foolish when he found the camp apparently deserted.
So he ceased his yells and, walking deliberately into the teepee, pulled out the sugar box and was stuffing a handful into his mouth when the other two Chiefs let off their wildest howls and, leaping from their concealment, chased him into the woods–not far, for Yan laughed too much, and Sam had on but one boot.
This was their re-gathering after a new search for adventures. Early in the morning, as he wiped off the breakfast knives by sticking them into the sod, the Second War Chief had suggested: “Say, boys, in old days Warriors would sometimes set out in different directions in search of adventure, then agree to meet at a given time. Let’s do that to-day and see what we run across.”
“Get your straws,” was Woodpecker’s reply, as he returned from putting the scraps on the Wakan Rock.
“No you don’t,” put in Hawkeye hastily; “at least, not unless you let me hold the straws. I know you’ll fix it so I’ll have to go home.”
“All right. You can hold the three straws; long one is Woodpecker–that’s his head with a bit of red flannel to prevent mistakes; the middle-sized thin one is me; and the short fat one is you. Now let them drop. Sudden death and no try over.”
The straws fell, and the two boys gave a yell as Hawkeye’s fate pointed straight to the Burns homestead.
“Oh, get out; that’s no good. We’ll take the other end,” he said angrily, and persisted in going the opposite way.
“Now we all got to go straight till we find something, and meet here again when that streak of sunlight gets around in the teepee to that pole.”
As the sunstreak, which was their Indian clock, travelled just about one pole for two hours, this gave about four hours for adventures.
Sam and Yan had been back some minutes, and now Guy, having recovered his composure, bothered not to wipe the stolen sugar from his lips, but broke out eagerly:
“Say, fellers, I bet I’m the bully boy. I bet you I–”
“Silence!” roared Woodpecker. “You come last.”
“All right; I don’t care. I bet I win over all of you. I bet a million dollars I do.”
“Go ahead, Chief Woodpecker-settin’-on-the-edge.”
So Sam began:
“I pulls on my boots” [he went barefooted half the time]. “Oh, I tell you I know when to wear my boots–an’ I set out following my straw line straight out. I don’t take no back track. I’m not scared of the front trail,” and he turned his little slit eyes sadly on Guy, “and I kep’ right on, and when I came to the dry bed of the creek it didn’t turn me; no, not a dozen rods; and I kept right till I came to a Wasp’s nest, and I turned and went round that coz it’s cruel to go blundering into a nest of a lot of poor innocent little Wasps–and I kep’ on, till I heard a low growl, and I looked up and didn’t see a thing. Then the growling got louder, and I seen it was a hungry Chipmunk roaring at me and jest getting ready to spring. Then when I got out my bonearrer he says to me, he says, as bold as brass ’Is your name Woodpecker?’ Now that scared me, and so I told a lie–my very first. I says, says I. ’No,’ says I. ’I’m Hawkeye.’ Well, you should ’a seen him. He just turned pale; every stripe on his back faded when I said that name, and he made for a hollow log and got in. Now I was mad, and tried to get him out, but when I’d run to one end he’d run to the other, so we ran up and down till I had a deep-worn trail alongside the log, an’ he had a deep-worn trail inside the log, an’ I was figgerin’ to have him wear it right through at the bottom so the log’d open, but all of a sudden I says, ’I know what to do for you.’ I took off my boot and stuffs the leg into one end of the log. Then I rattles a stick at the other end and I heard him run into the boot. Then I squeezes in the leg and ties a string around it an’ brings him home, me wearing one boot and the Chipmunk the other, and there he is in it now,” and Sam curled up his free bunch of toes in graphic comment and added: “Humph! I s’pose you fellers thought I didn’t know what I was about when I drawed on my long boots this morning.”
“Well, I just want to see that Chipmunk an’ maybe I’ll believe you.”
“In there hunting for a loose patch,” and Sam held up the boot.
“Let’s turn him out,” suggested the Second Chief.
So the string was cut and the Chipmunk scrambled out and away to a safer refuge.
“Now, sonny,” said Sam, as it disappeared, “don’t tell your folks what happened you or they’ll swat you for a liar.”
“Oh, shucks! That’s no adventure. Why, I–”
“Hold on, Hawkeye; Little Beaver next.”
“Well, I don’t care. I bet I–”
Sam grabbed his knife and interrupted: “Do you know what Callahan’s spring lamb did when it saw the old man gathering mint? Go ahead, Little Beaver.”
“I hadn’t much of an adventure, but I went straight through the woods where my straw pointed and ran into a big dead stub. It was too old and rotten for Birds to use now, as well as too late in the season, so I got a pole and pushed it over, and I found the whole history of a tenement in that stub. First of all, a Flicker had come years ago and dug put a fine big nesting-place, and used it maybe two or three times. When he was through, or maybe between seasons, the Chickadees made a winter den of it, for there were some Chickadee tail-feathers in the bottom. Next a Purple Blackbird came and used the hole, piling up a lot of roots with mud on them. Next year it seems it came again and made another nest on top of the last; then that winter the Chickadees again used it for a cubby-hole, for there were some more Chickadee feathers. Next year a Blue Jay found it out and nested there. I found some of her egg-shells among the soft stuff of the nest. Then I suppose a year after a pair of Sparrow-hawks happened on the place, found it suited them, and made their nest in it and hatched a brood of little Sparrow-hawks. Well, one day this bold robber brought home to his little ones a Shrew.”
“Oh, a little thing like a Mouse, only it isn’t a Mouse at all; it is second cousin to a Mole.”
“I allus thought a Mole was a Mouse specie,” remarked Hawkeye, not satisfied with Yan’s distinction.
“Oh, you!” interrupted Sam. “You’ll try to make out the Burnses is some kin to the Raftens next.”
“I bet I won’t!” and for once Guy got even.
“Well,” Yan continued, “it so happened–about the first time in about a million years–the little Hawks were not hungry just then. The Shrew wasn’t gobbled up at once, and though wounded, it set to work to escape as soon as it was free of the old one’s claws. First it hid under the little ones, then it began to burrow down through the feather-bed of the Sparrow-hawk’s nest, then through the Blue Jay’s nest, then through the soft stuff of the Blackbird’s nest and among the old truck left by the Chickadees till it struck the hard mud floor of the Blackbird’s nest, and through that it could not dig. Its strength gave out now, and it died there and lay hidden in the lowest nest of the house, till years after I came by and broke open the old stub and made it tell me a sad and mournful story–that–maybe–never happened at all. But there’s the drawing I made of it at the place, showing all the nests just as I found them, and there’s the dried up body of the little Shrew.”
Sam listened with intense interest, but Guy was at no pains to conceal his contempt. “Oh, pshaw! That’s no adventure–just a whole lot of ’s’posens’ without a blame thing doing. Now I’ll tell you what I done. I–”
“Now, Hawkeye,” Sam put in, “please don’t be rough about it. Leave out the awful things: I ain’t well to-day. You keep back the scary parts till to-morrow.”
“I tell you I left here and went straight as a die, an’ I seen a Woodchuck, but he wasn’t in line, so I says: ’No, some other day. I kin get you easy any time.’ Then I seen a Hawk going off with a Chicken, but that was off my beat, an’ I found lots o’ old stumps an’ hundreds o’ Chipmunks an’ wouldn’t be bothered with them. Then I come to a farmhouse an’–an’ I went around that so’s not to scare the Dog, an’ I went pretty near as far as Downey’s Dump–yes, a little a-past it–only to one side–when up jumps a Partridge as big as a Turkey, an’ a hull gang of young ones–about thirty or forty. I bet I seen them forty rod away, an’ they all flew, but one that lighted on a tree as far as–oh, ’cross that field, anyway. I bet you fellers wouldn’t ’a’ seen it at all. Well, I jest hauled off as ca’m as ca’m an’ let him have it. I aimed straight for his eye–an’ that’s where I hit him. Now who gets a grand coup, for there he is!” Hawkeye unrolled his coat and turned out a bobtailed young Robin in the speckled plumage, shot through the body.
“So that’s your Partridge. I call that a young Robin,” said the First Chief with slow emphasis. “Rules is broke. Killed a Song-bird. Little Beaver, arrest the criminal.”
But Hawkeye struggled with all the ferocity born of his recent exploit, and had to be bound hand and foot while a full Council was called to try the case. The angry protests weakened when he found how serious the Councillors were. Finally he pleaded “guilty” and was condemned to wear a black feather of disgrace and a white feather for cowardice for three days, as well as wash the dishes for a week. They would also have made him cook for that term, but that they had had some unhappy experiences with some dishes of Guy’s make.
“Well, I won’t do it, that’s all,” was the prisoner’s defiant retort. “I’ll go home first.”
“And hoe the garden? Oh, yes; I think I see you.”
“Well, I won’t do it. You better let me ’lone.”
“Little Beaver, what do they do when an Injun won’t obey the Council?”
“Strip him of his honours. Do you remember that stick we burned with ’Sapwood’ on it?”
“Good idee. We’ll burn Hawkeye for a name and dig up the old one”
“No, you won’t, you dirty mean Skunks! Ye promised me you’d never call me that again. I am Hawkeye. I kin see farder’n–n–” and he began to weep.
“Well, will you obey the Council?”
“Yes; but I won’t wear no white feather–I’m brave, boohoo!”
“All right. We’ll leave that off; but you must do the other punishments.
“Will I still be Hawkeye?”
“All right. I’ll do it.”