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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 515 pages of information about Oak Openings.
coolness, and pure water, within several miles of Castle Meal.  The trees formed a spacious grove around it, and, by means of the banks, their summits and leaves answered the purpose of a perfect screen to those who might descend into the ravine, or, it would be better to say, to the bottom.  Le Bourdon was no sooner satisfied that his mastiff was proceeding toward the great spring which formed the rivulet at the head of the ravine mentioned, than he suspected Indians might be there.  He had seen signs about the spot, which wore an appearance of its having been used as a place of encampment—­or for “camping out,” as it is termed in the language of the west—­and, coupling the sound of the horn with the dog’s movements, his quick apprehension seized on the facts as affording reasonable grounds of distrust.  Consequently he resorted to great caution, as he and the corporal entered the wood which surrounded the spring, and the small oval bit of bottom that lay spread before it, like a little lawn.  Hive was kept close at his master’s side, though he manifested a marked impatience to advance.  “Now, corporal,” said the bee-hunter in a low tone, “I think we have lined some savages to their holes.  We will go round the basin and descend to the bottom, in a close wood which grows there.  Did you see that?”

“I suppose I did,” answered the corporal, who was as firm as a rock.  “You meant to ask me if I saw fire?”

“I did.  The red men have lighted their council fire in this spot, and have met to talk around it.  Well, let ’em hearken to each other’s thoughts, if they will; we shall be neither the better nor the worse for it.”

“I don’t know that.  When the commander-in-chief calls together his principal officers, something usually comes of it.  Who knows but this very council is called in order to take opinions on the subject of besieging or of storming our new garrison?  Prudent soldiers should always be ready for the worst.”

“I have no fear, so long as Peter is with us.  That chief is listened to by every red-skin; and while we have him among us there will be little to care for.  But we are getting near to the bottom and must work our way through these bushes with as little noise as possible.  I will keep the dog quiet.”

The manner in which that sagacious animal now behaved was truly wonderful.  Hive appeared to be quite as much aware of the necessity of extreme caution as either of the men, and did not once attempt to precede his master his own length.  On one or two occasions he actually discovered the best passages, and led his companions through them with something like the intelligence of a human being.  Neither growl nor bark escaped him; on the contrary, even the hacking breathing of an impatient dog was suppressed, precisely as if the animal knew how near he was getting to the most watchful ears in the world.

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