California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 127 pages of information about California.

At this juncture I ran up to the group with the intelligence that Bradshaw had been injured by a shot from his own rifle, which had accidentally gone off, and which circumstance Malcolm had not, in the first instance, explained.  I told my companions that the man was seriously wounded in the leg; that I had merely bandaged it up with a handkerchief, and, leaving him in Malcolm’s charge, had hastened forward to let them know the fact, that no more blood might be shed.  No sooner was this explanation given than we heard a loud shout from the lad Horry, followed, as I thought, by some faint groans; but none of the others heard them, and I thought I might have been mistaken.  It was concluded that he was merely shouting in accordance with our instructions, and no further notice was taken of the affair.  At that instant several horses came galloping by at full speed, passing within a few yards of us, and, following them, we could discern half-a-dozen mounted Indians.  We guessed the truth at once.  They had cut the bridles of our horses, and were driving them away to rejoin their fellows, which had been stolen from us in the morning.  We levelled our rifles and fired—­reloaded, and fired again; and then, in the midst of a chorus of hallooing and screaming from the camp just before us, and the loud bellowing of the retreating Indians, started off in pursuit, and soon succeeded in turning our animals round, the Indians vanishing as rapidly as they had appeared.

Securing our steeds, we walked them back in the direction of the spot where we had left Horry, and, after some trouble, succeeded in finding the exact place, when, to our horror, we found the poor fellow quite dead, his body covered with blood, and his head and face dreadfully disfigured.  A closer examination showed us that the poor lad, after being murdered, had been scalped by the savages.  “Yes, yes,” said the old trapper, “sure enough his scalp is dangling in the belt of one of them devils.  G——­d!  I’ll send an ounce of lead through the first red-skin I meet outside them clearings.  We’ll have vengeance—­we will.”

As soon as I was a little recovered from the horror which this scene naturally caused, I returned with the old trapper to the spot where I had left Malcolm and Bradshaw, hardly expecting, after what I had just witnessed, to find either of them alive.  I was, however, happy in my fears not being realized.  They were both as I had left them.  We carried the wounded man as well as we could between us back to the place where the remainder of the party were waiting for us.  Here we stayed till daybreak, silent and dejected.  For my own part I could have wept.  That rough sailor lad, though under other circumstances I might have looked down on him with contempt, and not have cared one straw whether he was dead or alive, had been one of a little society, every member of which had grown upon me in the rude life we had lived together in this wilderness, and I felt that I had lost a friend.

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Project Gutenberg
California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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