California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 127 pages of information about California.
had ridden on first.  The night was rather dark, but Lacosse said the trail could easily be distinguished.  With regard to the shot we had heard fired, and the moans which followed it, Bradley said that shortly after missing McPhail, they found some wolves were on their track, in ail likelihood scenting the deer which they were carrying slung across their horses.  Fearing their noise might attract a more dangerous customer, in the shape of a puma, towards them, he fired a couple of pistols, which had the effect of wounding two of the pack, who rolled over with terrific howls.  It must have been Bradley’s last shot that woke us, for none of us heard more than one shot fired.

Our three huntsmen set about preparing their supper immediately, in the full expectation that McPhail would make his appearance before the venison was ready.  The supper was, however, cooked and eaten, but still no McPhail arrived.  Another hour was suffered to elapse, and then we began to consider that it was nearly three hours ago since he was last seen, while at that time he was not more than one hour’s distance from the camp.  It was evident, therefore, that he had either missed the trail or followed it in the opposite direction (which last was the old trapper’s opinion), or else some more serious misfortune had happened to him.  We at once resolved to set out in search of him, leaving a guard behind at the camp.  The mate and Don Luis, being both, as it were, invalided, were of course among those who were to remain.  Bradley pleaded fatigue, and wished to stay in camp, and Biggs was left on guard with him.

CHAPTER XVIII.

  Where McPhail was last seen
  The trapper’s keen eyes
  A nap in the open air
  The Author woke up
  Camp-fires
  A surprise attempted
  Horses left in charge
  The tactics of the advance and the retreat
  A shot from a rifle, and a man wounded
  A salute
  The rifle shot explained
  Horses driven off
  A volley fired
  Poor Horry scalped
  The trapper promises vengeance
  The wounded man
  Grief at the loss of a friend
  A mystery explained
  Horry’s grave
  His funeral and monument.

It must have been about one o’clock when we started, and, after half-an-hour’s hard riding, we came upon the spot where McPhail had last been seen.  We shouted for some time as loudly as our lungs would let us, but heard nothing, save the howl of some hungry wolf, in reply.  We then followed the trail at a brisk pace for eight or nine miles, but could discover nothing of our missing friend.  There seemed no possibility of ascertaining whether he had proceeded in the direction in question or not, as the marks made by the horses of the party in the morning, on their way out, somewhat confused the old trapper.  His keen eye, however, soon detected marks of a horse’s hoof in a contrary direction, over the marks which the horses of the hunting party had made on their return.  These signs were not apparent beyond the spot we had reached.  In which direction they were continued, the night was too dark to discover.

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California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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