FOOTNOTES:  That is, “Lake full of snags.”—TRANSLATOR.  The Indian village having the Mississippi probably but a few miles in its rear.—TRANSLATOR.
MAGGIE AND THE ROBBERS.
“We are going out of here together,” said Mario; “but John and I will conduct you only to the door of the hut. Thence we shall return to the flatboat, and all that two men can do to save our fortune shall be done. You, monsieur, have enough to do to take care of your daughters. To you, M. Carpentier—to you, son Celestino, I give the care of these women and children.”
“I can take care of myself,” said Maggie.
“You are four, well armed,” continued Mario. (My father had his gun and pistols.) “This dog is worth two men. You have no risks to run; the danger, if there be any, will be with the boat. Seeing us divided, they may venture an attack; but one of you stand by the window that faces the shore. If one of those men in the hut leaves it, or shows a wish to do so, fire one pistol-shot out of the window, and we shall be ready for them; but if you are attacked, fire two shots and we will come. Now, forward!”
We went slowly and cautiously: ’Tino first, with a lantern; then the Irish pair and child; then Mario, leading his two younger boys, and Celeste, with her daughter asleep in her arms; and for rear-guard papa with one of us on each arm, and Joseph with his precious burden. The wind and the irregularities of the ground made us stumble at every step. The rain lashed us in the face and extorted from time to time sad lamentations from the children. But, for all that, we were in a few minutes at the door of the hovel.
“M. Carpentier,” said Mario, “I give my family into your care.” Joseph made no answer but to give his hand to the Italian. Mario strode away, followed by Gordon.
“Knock on the door,” said Joseph to ’Tino. The boy knocked. No sound was heard inside, except the growl of a dog.
“Knock again.” The same silence. “We can’t stay here in this beating rain; open and enter,” cried Carpentier. ’Tino threw wide the door and we walked in.
There was but one room. A large fire burned in a clay chimney that almost filled one side of the cabin. In one corner four or five chickens showed their heads. In another, the woman was lying on a wretched pallet in all her clothes. By her slept the little creature Suzanne had found, her ribbon still on her frock. Near one wall was a big chest on which another child was sleeping. A rough table was in the middle, on it some dirty tin plates and cups, and under it half a dozen dogs and two little boys. I never saw anything else like it. On the hearth stood the pot and skillet, still half full of hominy and meat.
Kneeling by the fire was a young man molding bullets and passing them to his father, seated on a stool at a corner of the chimney, who threw them into a jar of water, taking them out again to even them with the handle of a knife. I see it still as if it was before my eyes.