He spent several hours in this work, and had fully decided upon the location for the building when he was startled by hearing what sounded very like a human voice among the underbrush a short distance from the shore.
With his gun held ready for instant use in case any danger threatened, he went cautiously in the direction from which the noise appeared to have come, and after a brief time threw aside the weapon with an exclamation of dismay.
In a dense portion of the forest, where were several aged trees partially decayed at their base, he dimly saw the figure of a man, apparently pinned to the ground by the heavy branches of a fallen hemlock.
He was sufficiently versed in woodcraft to understand that the unfortunate had either felled a tree which had fallen upon him, or passed beneath one of the giants of the forest at the precise moment when its rotten trunk gave way under the burden of the enormous top.
A low moan from the sufferer told he was yet alive, and at the same time proclaimed that relief must soon come if death was to be cheated of its prey.
“Hold out a few minutes longer, friend,” Walter cried, cheerily. “I must have an axe before I can do very much toward getting you free from that timber.”
There was no reply; the poor wretch’s strength was nearly exhausted, and the boy understood that he must work, with all possible speed if he would save a human life.
“It seems that my coming here may be of more use than simply hiding from Sam Haines,” he cried, as he ran with all speed toward the spot where the goods had been left. “I have been grumbling because Stephen brought an axe instead of a hatchet, but now I should be able to do very little without it.”
Ten minutes later he was chopping furiously at the imprisoning branches, using due care to prevent additional injury to the helpless man, and when so much of the foliage had been cut away as to give him a clear view of what was beneath, he exclaimed in surprise,-
“An Indian! What could have brought him so near the town?”
Then he forgot the colour of the sufferer, thought not of what his kind had done in the way of savage cruelty to helpless women and children, but devoted all his strength and energies to releasing him.
The wretch was so nearly dead as to be unable to render any assistance to his would-be rescuer, and at least half an hour elapsed before Walter could drag him from beneath the heavy weight which had so nearly deprived him of life.
When this work was accomplished, it seemed to have been in vain, so far as saving life was concerned; but, fortunately, Walter did not cease his efforts. Dragging the apparently lifeless body to the river, he applied such restoratives as were at hand, and after a short time had the satisfaction of seeing the red man open his eyes.
“Better not try,” he said, as the Indian attempted to speak. “You have had such a squeezing as would discourage a bear, and it will take some time to get over it. Luckily I haven’t much of anything to do except take care of you, and I’ll warrant we shall soon have you around as well as ever. So far as I can make out, no bones have been broken, though I doubt if you could go through the same experience again and come out anywhere near whole.”