“What is it?” the girl asked, her face white with fear.
“Kitty no say now,” was the reply. “See bimeby.”
And as they waited and listened with fast-beating hearts, another report echoed through the forest, and then all was still.
“Sam shoot,” Kitty explained. “Come.”
Hurrying forward, they soon reached the valley, and ere long they saw Sam bending over some object. Nearby was a large moose, with its great body and branching antlers half buried in the snow. But to this Sam gave no heed. His attention was centred upon a human being, moaning and writhing in pain. Jean saw at once that it was a man, with white hair and long, flowing beard. With a cry she rushed forward and knelt by his side.
“Are you hurt?” she asked in a tremulous voice.
At this question the man started, lifted his head, and looked curiously at the girl. An expression of defiance glowed in his eyes, which caused Jean to wonder.
“Are you hurt?” she repeated. “Can we help you?”
“Am I hurt?” the man growled. “Do I look hurt?”
These words instead of frightening the girl only tended to make her somewhat angry. She wished to do what she could to help the man, but she did not like his sarcasm. It was altogether uncalled for, so she thought.
“You look as if you are hurt,” she replied. “But, then, you are the best judge of that. We are willing to do what we can for you, but if you do not want our help we shall leave you alone.”
Her tone was severe, and this the man noted.
“I am hurt,” he confessed in a milder voice. “That devil over there nearly made an end of me. O, Lord!” He placed his hand to his side, and his brow contracted with pain. “I guess I’m done for, anyway.”
“Where do you live?” Jean asked. “We must get you home.”
“Just down the valley. Sam knows where. I think I can walk with his help. He’s a good Indian, and he saved my life to-day. He was just in time.”
With considerable difficulty the injured man was lifted out of the snow where he was half buried, and helped to regain his feet. One of his snow-shoes was gone, but Kitty found it several yards away.
“It was that which caused all the trouble,” the man explained. “When the moose charged, something went wrong with that snow-shoe, and before I could do anything the brute was upon me.”
After Sam had fixed and arranged the snow-shoe upon the man’s moccasined foot, he took him by the arm and started forward, with the women following. Their progress was slow, for the injured man often stopped and pressed his hand to his side. That he was suffering greatly was most apparent, and Jean felt sorry for him. She wondered who he was, and the reason for the look of defiance in his eyes. That he had called Sam by name puzzled her, for the Indian had never spoken of him to her.