The Oregon Trail: sketches of prairie and Rocky-Mountain life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 384 pages of information about The Oregon Trail.
of them seemed to have concluded that it was time to retire.  Very slowly, and with an air of the gravest and most majestic deliberation, he began to turn round, as if he were revolving on a pivot.  Little by little his ugly brown side was exposed to view.  A white smoke sprang out, as it were from the ground; a sharp report came with it.  The old bull gave a very undignified jump and galloped off.  At this his comrade wheeled about with considerable expedition.  The other Indian shot at him from the ravine, and then both the bulls were running away at full speed, while half the juvenile population of the village raised a yell and ran after them.  The first bull was soon stopped, and while the crowd stood looking at him at a respectable distance, he reeled and rolled over on his side.  The other, wounded in a less vital part, galloped away to the hills and escaped.

In half an hour it was totally dark.  I lay down to sleep, and ill as I was, there was something very animating in the prospect of the general hunt that was to take place on the morrow.

CHAPTER XV

THE HUNTING CAMP

Long before daybreak the Indians broke up their camp.  The women of Mene-Seela’s lodge were as usual among the first that were ready for departure, and I found the old man himself sitting by the embers of the decayed fire, over which he was warming his withered fingers, as the morning was very chilly and damp.  The preparations for moving were even more confused and disorderly than usual.  While some families were leaving the ground the lodges of others were still standing untouched.  At this old Mene-Seela grew impatient, and walking out to the middle of the village stood with his robe wrapped close around him, and harangued the people in a loud, sharp voice.  Now, he said, when they were on an enemy’s hunting-grounds, was not the time to behave like children; they ought to be more active and united than ever.  His speech had some effect.  The delinquents took down their lodges and loaded their pack horses; and when the sun rose, the last of the men, women, and children had left the deserted camp.

This movement was made merely for the purpose of finding a better and safer position.  So we advanced only three or four miles up the little stream, before each family assumed its relative place in the great ring of the village, and all around the squaws were actively at work in preparing the camp.  But not a single warrior dismounted from his horse.  All the men that morning were mounted on inferior animals, leading their best horses by a cord, or confiding them to the care of boys.  In small parties they began to leave the ground and ride rapidly away over the plains to the westward.  I had taken no food that morning, and not being at all ambitious of further abstinence, I went into my host’s lodge, which his squaws had erected with wonderful celerity, and sat down in the center, as a gentle hint that I was

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The Oregon Trail: sketches of prairie and Rocky-Mountain life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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