Two Little Savages
By Ernest Thompson Seton
Public Domain Books
THE RIVAL TRIBE
The winning back of the farm, according to Sanger custom must be celebrated in a “sociable” that took the particular form of a grand house-warming, in which the Raftens, Burnses and Boyles were fully represented, as Char-less was Caleb’s fast friend. The Injun band was very prominent, for Caleb saw that it was entirely owing to the meetings at the camp that the glad event had come about.
Caleb acted as go-between for Char-less Boyle and William Raften, and their feud was forgotten–for the time at least–as they related stories of their early hunting days, to the delight of Yan and the Tribe. There were four other boys there whom Little Beaver met for the first time. They were Wesley Boyle, a dark-skinned, low-browed, active boy of Sam’s age; his brother Peter, about twelve, fair, fat and freckled, and with a marvellous squint; and their cousin Char-less Boyle, Jr., good-natured, giggly, and of spongy character; also Cyrus Digby, a smart city boy, who was visiting “the folks,” and who usually appeared in white cuffs and very high stand-up collar. These boys were greatly interested in the Sanger Indian camp, and one outcome of the meeting at Caleb’s was the formation of another Tribe of Indians, composed of the three Boyle boys and their town friend.
Since most of these were Boyles and the hunting-ground was the Boyles woods about that marshy pond, and especially because they had read of a band of Indians named Boilers or Stoneboilers (Assineboines), they called themselves the “Boilers.” Wesley was the natural leader. He was alert as well as strong, and eager to do things, so made a fine Chief. His hooked nose and black hair and eyes won for him the appropriate name of “Blackhawk.” The city boy being a noisy “show-off,” who did little work, was called “Bluejay” Peter Boyle was “Peetweet,” and Char-less, from his peculiar snickering and showing two large front teeth, was called “Red-squirrel.”
They made their camp as much as possible like that of the Sangers, and adopted their customs; but a deadly rivalry sprang up between them from the first. The Sangers felt that they were old and experienced Woodcrafters. The Boilers thought they knew as much and more, and they outnumbered the Sangers. Active rivalry led to open hostilities. There was a general battle with fists and mud; that proved a draw. Then a duel between leaders was arranged, and Blackhawk won the fight and the Woodpecker’s scalp. The Boilers were wild with enthusiasm. They proposed to take the whole Sanger camp, but in a hand-to-hand fight of both tribes it was another draw. Guy, however, scored a glorious triumph over Char-less and secured his scalp at the moment of victory.
Now Little Beaver sent a challenge to Blackhawk. It was scornfully accepted. Again the Boiler Chief was victor and won another scalp, while Little Beaver got a black eye and a bad licking, but the enemy retired.
Yan had always been considered a timid boy at Bonnerton, but that was largely the result of his repressive home training. Sanger was working great changes. To be treated with respect by the head of the house was a new and delightful experience. It developed his self-respect. His wood life was making him wonderfully self-reliant, and improved health helped his courage, so next day, when the enemy appeared in full force, every one was surprised when Yan again challenged Blackhawk. It really cost him a desperate and mighty effort to do so, for it is one thing to challenge a boy that you think you can “lick” and another to challenge one the very day after he has licked you. Indeed, if the truth were known, Yan did it in fear and trembling, and therein lay the courage–in going ahead when fear said “Go back.”
It is quite certain that a year before he would not have ventured in such a fight, and he only did it now because he had realized that Blackhawk was left-handed, and a plan to turn this to account had suggested itself. Every one was much surprised at the challenge, but much more so when, to the joy of his tribe, Little Beaver won a brilliant victory.
Inspired by this, they drove the Boilers from the field, scored a grand triumph, and Sam and Yan each captured a scalp.
The Sangers held a Council and scalp-dance in celebration that night around an outdoor fire. The Medicine Man was sent for to be in it.
After the dance, Chief Beaver, his face painted to hide his black eye, made a speech. He claimed that the Boilers would surely look for reinforcements and attempt a new attack, and that, therefore, the Sangers should try to add to their number, too.
“I kin lick Char-less any time,” piped in Guy proudly, and swung the scalp he had won.
But the Medicine Man said: “If I were you boys I’d fix up a peace. Now you’ve won you ought to ask them to a big pow-wow.”
These were the events that led to the friendly meeting of the two Tribes in full war-paint.
Chief Woodpecker first addressed them: “Say, fellers–Brother Chiefs, I mean–this yere quar’lin’ don’t pay. We kin have more fun working together. Let’s be friends an’ join in one Tribe. There’s more fun when there’s a crowd.”
“All right,” said Blackhawk; “but we’ll call the tribe the ’Boilers,’ coz we have the majority, and leave me Head Chief.”
“You are wrong about that. Our Medicine Men makes us even number and more than even weight. We’ve got the best camp–have the swimming-pond, and we are the oldest Tribe, not to speak of the success we had in a certain leetle business not long ago which the youngest of us kin remember,” and Guy grinned in appreciation of this evident reference to his exploit.
As a matter of fact, it was the swimming-pond that turned the day. The Boilers voted to join the Sangers. Their holiday was only ten days, the Sangers had got a week’s extension, and all knew that they could get most out of their time by going to the pond camp. The question of a name was decided by Little Beaver.
“Boiler Warriors,” said he, “it is the custom of the Indians to have the Tribes divided in clans. We are the Sanger clan. You are the Boiler clan. But as we all live in Sanger we are all Sanger Indians.”
“Who’s to be Head Chief?”
Blackhawk had no notion of submitting to Woodpecker, whom he had licked, nor would Woodpecker accept a Chief of the inferior tribe. One suggested that Little Beaver be Chief, but out of loyalty to his friend, the Woodpecker, Yan declined.
“Better leave that for a few days till you get acquainted,” was the Medicine Man’s wise suggestion.
That day and the next were spent in camp. The Boilers had their teepee to make and beds to prepare. The Sangers merrily helped, making a “bee” of it.
Bow and arrow making were next to do. Little Beaver had not fully replaced his own destroyed by the robber. A hunt of the Burlap Deer was a pleasant variation of the second day, though there were but two bows for all, and the Boilers began to realize that they were really far behind the Sangers in knowledge of Woodcraft.
At swimming Blackhawk was easily first. Of course, this greatly increased his general interest in the swimming-pond, and he chiefly was responsible for the making of a canoe later on.
The days went on right merrily–oh, so fast! Little Beaver showed all the things of interest in his kingdom. How happy he was in showing them–playing experienced guide as he used to dream it! Peetweet took a keen interest; so did the city boy. Char-less took a little interest in it all, helped a little, was generally a little in everything, and giggled a good deal. Hawkeye was disposed to bully Char-less, since he found him quite lickable. His tone was high and haughty when he spoke to him–not at all like his whining when addressing the others. He volunteered to discipline Char-less if he should ill-treat any of the others, and was about to administer grievous personal punishment for some trifling offense, when Blackhawk gave him a warning that had good effect.
Yan’s note-book was fully discussed and his drawings greatly admired. He set to work at once with friendly enthusiasm to paint the Boilers’ teepee. Not having any adventures that seemed important, except, perhaps, Blackhawk’s defeat of Woodpecker and Little Beaver, subjects that did not interest the artist, the outside decorations were the totem of the clan and its members.