“Where’s Tom?” Hazelton demanded.
“Here,” called a voice from Reade’s tent.
Hazelton turned in that direction, but Mr. Thurston looked out from the large tent, calling:
“Don’t go there now, Hazelton. You wouldn’t be admitted. Come here.”
Despite his long run, Harry’s face displayed pallor as he came breathlessly into Mr. Thurston’s field abode. In a few words, however, the lad was acquainted with the situation as far as it had developed.
In the meantime what was the squaw doing with Tom? It must be admitted that Reade hadn’t any too clear an idea. The gaunt old red woman poured hot water, small quantities at a time, into the bowls and cups in which she had distributed the herbs. Then she stirred vigorously, in the meantime muttering monotonously in her own language.
“She isn’t relying on the herbs alone,” muttered Tom curiously to himself. “She’s working up some kind of incantation. I wonder what effect she expects an Indian song to have on snake poison?”
Presently the squaw turned, bringing one of the cupfuls to the wounded boy.
“Sit up,” she ordered. “Drink!”
Tom nearly dropped it, it was so hot.
“Drink!” repeated the squaw.
“But it’s so hot it’ll burn my gullet out,” remonstrated Reade.
“You know more I do?” demanded the squaw stolidly. “Drink!”
Tom took a sip, and shuddered from the intense heat of the stuff.
“Humph! White man him heap papoose!” muttered the squaw, scornfully. “You want live, drink!”
Tom took a longer swallow of the hot stuff. Whew, but it was bitter!
“The bronze lady is trying to turn me inside out!” gasped the boy to himself.
“Drink—–all down!” commanded the squaw with scarcely less scorn than before in her voice.
This time Tom took a hard grip on himself and swallowed all the liquid. For a moment, he thought the nauseating stuff would kill him.
“Now, eat grass,” ordered the squaw.
“Meaning eat these herbs,” demanded Tom, glancing up.
“Yes. Heap quick.”
“To make a fellow eat these herbs after drinking the brew from them is what I call rubbing it in,” grimaced Reade.
“Now, this,” continued the squaw, calmly handing a second cup to Tom.
“It’s all right for you to be calm,” thought Tom, as he took the cup from her. “All you have to do is to stand by and watch me. You don’t have to drink any of these fearful messes.”
However, Tom brought all his will power into play, swallowing a second brew, compared with which the first had been delicious.
“Eat this grass, too”? inquired Tom, gazing at the squaw.
“I shall be very, very careful not to meet any more snakes,” he shuddered, after getting the second dose down.
Now the squaw busied herself with spreading soaked herbs on a piece of cloth that she had torn from one of Tom’s white shirts’ to which she had helped herself from his dunnage box.