The man pursued by a foe looks about him quickly for that weapon nearest to his own hand. The dread of steel drove Juan to bethink himself of a weapon. He saw it at his feet, and again he roared like an angry bull, his courage and his purpose alike unchanged. He stooped and clutched the broken war axe, grasping the stone head in the palm of his great hand, the jagged and ironlike shaft projecting from between his ringers like the blade of a dagger. With the leap of a wild beast he sprang again upon his foe. White Calf half turned, but the left hand of the giant caught him and held him up against the fatal stroke. The sharp shaft of wood struck the Indian in the side above the hip, quartering through till the stone head sunk against the flesh with a fearful sound. With a scream the victim straightened and fell forward. The horrid spectacle was over.
WHAT THE HAND HAD TO DO
In this wide, new world of the West there were but few artificial needs, and the differentiation of industries was alike impossible and undesired. Each man was his own cook, his own tailor, his own mechanic in the simple ways demanded by the surroundings about him. Each man was as good as his neighbour, for his neighbour as well as himself perforce practised a half-dozen crafts and suffered therefrom neither in his own esteem nor that of those about him. The specialists of trade, of artisanship, of art, were not yet demanded in this environment where each man in truth “took care of himself,” and had small dependence upon others.
In all the arts of making one’s self comfortable in a womanless and hence a homeless land both Franklin and Battersleigh, experienced campaigners as they were, found themselves much aided by the counsel of Curly, the self-reliant native of the soil who was Franklin’s first acquaintance in that land. It was Curly who helped them with their houses and in their household supplies. It was he who told them now and then of a new region where the crop of bones was not yet fully gathered. It was he who showed them how to care for the little number of animals which they began to gather about them; and who, in short, gave to them full knowledge of the best ways of exacting a subsistence from the land which they had invaded.
One morning Franklin, thinking to have an additional buffalo robe for the coming winter, and knowing no manner in which he could get the hide tanned except through his own efforts, set about to do this work for himself, ignorant of the extent of his task, and relying upon Curly for advice as to the procedure.
Curly sat on his horse and looked on with contempt as Franklin flung down the raw skin upon the ground.
“You’ve shore tackled a bigger job than you know anything about, Cap,” said he, “and, besides that, it ain’t a job fittin’ fer a man to do. You ought to git some squaw to do that for you.”