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.

In respect to the human wolves in our neighborhood, we felt much less at our ease.  We seldom erected our tent except in bad weather, and that night each man spread his buffalo robe upon the ground with his loaded rifle laid at his side or clasped in his arms.  Our horses were picketed so close around us that one of them repeatedly stepped over me as I lay.  We were not in the habit of placing a guard, but every man that night was anxious and watchful; there was little sound sleeping in camp, and some one of the party was on his feet during the greater part of the time.  For myself, I lay alternately waking and dozing until midnight.  Tete Rouge was reposing close to the river bank, and about this time, when half asleep and half awake, I was conscious that he shifted his position and crept on all-fours under the cart.  Soon after I fell into a sound sleep from which I was aroused by a hand shaking me by the shoulder.  Looking up, I saw Tete Rouge stooping over me with his face quite pale and his eyes dilated to their utmost expansion.

“What’s the matter?” said I.

Tete Rouge declared that as he lay on the river bank, something caught his eye which excited his suspicions.  So creeping under the cart for safety’s sake he sat there and watched, when he saw two Indians, wrapped in white robes, creep up the bank, seize upon two horses and lead them off.  He looked so frightened, and told his story in such a disconnected manner, that I did not believe him, and was unwilling to alarm the party.  Still it might be true, and in that case the matter required instant attention.  There would be no time for examination, and so directing Tete Rouge to show me which way the Indians had gone, I took my rifle, in obedience to a thoughtless impulse, and left the camp.  I followed the river back for two or three hundred yards, listening and looking anxiously on every side.  In the dark prairie on the right I could discern nothing to excite alarm; and in the dusky bed of the river, a wolf was bounding along in a manner which no Indian could imitate.  I returned to the camp, and when within sight of it, saw that the whole party was aroused.  Shaw called out to me that he had counted the horses, and that every one of them was in his place.  Tete Rouge, being examined as to what he had seen, only repeated his former story with many asseverations, and insisted that two horses were certainly carried off.  At this Jim Gurney declared that he was crazy; Tete Rouge indignantly denied the charge, on which Jim appealed to us.  As we declined to give our judgment on so delicate a matter, the dispute grew hot between Tete Rouge and his accuser, until he was directed to go to bed and not alarm the camp again if he saw the whole Arapahoe village coming.

CHAPTER XXIV

THE CHASE

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