Posted by at


few possessed the

Oh, yes! Off trapping now somewhere in the woods. He's a shrewd one, that Lucky. Brings in more furs than any other man in the tribe. He's a tall, wiry chap, with big cheek-bones an' little foxy eyes, an' the reg'lar Indian virtues an' vices. He's brave, an' he's enduring, an' a splendid hunter, but he's sly an' lazy. Little Coffee Jack, his brother, is going to be just like him."

"There's Father calling us," said David, presently. "They probably want water. Where do you get it, Mr. Martin?"

"You'll find a hole cut in the river ice," answered the storekeeper, "if you follow the path straight out from the door. You can't miss it. You want to be careful, though."

Having procured kettles at the camp, the boys easily found the path, and the hole to which it led. So great was the combined thickness of snow and ice that the opening was about five feet deep, wide at the top, but narrowing toward the bottom. A sort of shelf or ledge[119] had been hacked out about half-way down, upon which the person drawing the water could stand, and as an additional safeguard a pole had been set horizontally across the hole. So rapid was the current that the water did not rise in the hole, but fairly flew beneath it.

"I don't wonder Mr. Martin told us to be careful," said David, with a shudder. "One slip on that icy ledge, and down you'd go into the dark water and under the ice in a jiffy."

"Just think," observed Roly, "if Mr. Martin had ever fallen like that when he was here alone, no one would ever know what had become of him. The hole would soon get filled up, and his disappearance would be the kind of a mystery you read about. Probably the Indians would be suspected."

"Yes," said David, "I've no doubt of it. But now let's get the water. You stand up here, and I'll do the dipping. You see," he added, concealing with an air of mock pride the real responsibility he felt, "superior age makes it my duty to take the post of danger,"—with which heroic burst he scrambled quickly but carefully down and filled the kettles without accident, though they were nearly jerked from his hands by the force of the current. It is safe to say, however, that had Uncle Will known the dangerous character of the water-hole, which only Long Peter had visited on his earlier trip, he would have fetched the water himself.
The Bradfords passed through the Stik village early the next day, after leaving letters with the storekeeper to be sent back when opportunity offered. This Indian settlement consisted of about a dozen houses, some built of rough logs, others of hewn boards. A few possessed the luxury of glass windows. Over the door of one of the more pretentious was nailed a board on which was painted the name of the chief, John Kah Sha. The Indians, many of whom appeared abjectly dirty and ignorant, gazed stolidly for the most part at the travellers, but a few nodded and smiled as they passed, and called away the swarm of curs which yelped or fawned at their heels.

Beyond the village the trail turned north and left the river valley, ascending eight hundred feet by a sharp ridge to the top of a great table-land. The snow had melted from the ridge, and it was necessary to unpack the sleds and carry up the goods piece-meal,—an operation which required many trips and the severest labor, and occupied the entire day.

Posted by weetears at 15:13Comments(0)