Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

THE GIFT-HORSE.

247

beldame was at an end. She eagerly placed the precious baubles in her ears, and, though as ugly as the Witch of Endor, went off with a sideling gait, and coquettish air, as though she had been a perfect Semiramis.

The captain had now saddled his newly acquired steed, and his foot was in the stirrup, when the affectionate patriarch again stepped forward, and presented to him a young Piercednose, who had a peculiarly sulky look.

"This," said the venerable chief, "is my son; he is very good; a great horseman-he always took care of this very fine horse-he brought him up from a colt, and made him what he

is. He is very fond of this fine horse-he

loves him like a brother-his heart will be

very

heavy when this fine horse leaves the camp."

What could the captain do, to reward the youthful hope of this venerable pair, and comfort him for the loss of his fosterbrother, the

248

THE GIFT-HORSF.

horse? He bethought him of a hatchet, which

[ocr errors]

might be spared from his slender stores. No sooner did he place the implement in the hands of young hopeful, than his countenance brightened up, and he went off rejoicing in his hatchet, to the full as much as did his respectable mother in her earbobs.

The captain was now in the saddle, and about to start, when the affectionate old patriarch stepped forward for the third time, and, while he laid one hand gently on the mane of the horse, held up the rifle in the other.

"This rifle," said he, "shall be my great medicine. I will hug it to my heart-I will always love it, for the sake of my good friend, the bald-headed chief.-But a rifle, by itself, is dumb--I cannot make it speak. If I had a little powder and ball, I would take it out with me, and would now and then shoot a deer : and when I brought the meat home to my

THE GIFT-HORSE.

249

hungry family, I would say this was killed by the rifle of my friend, the bald-headed chief, to whom I gave that very fine horse."

There was no resisting this appeal: the captain, forthwith, furnished the coveted supply of powder and ball; but at the same time, put spurs to his very fine gift-horse, and the first trial of his speed was to get out of all further manifestation of friendship, on the part of the affectionate old patriarch and his insinuating family.

250

NEZ PERCE CAMP.

CHAPTER XV.

NEZ PERCE CAMP-A CHIEF WITH A HARD NAME-THE BIG HEARTS OF THE EAST-HOSPITABLE TREATMENT-THE INDIAN GUIDES-MYSTERIOUS COUNCILS-THE LOQUACIOUS CHIEF-INDIAN TOMBGRAND INDIAN RECEPTION-AN INDIAN FEAST-TOWN CRIERSHONESTY OF THE NEZ PERCES THE CAPTAIN'S ATTEMPT AT HEALING.

FOLLOWING the course of the Immahah, Captain Bonneville and his three companions soon reached the vicinity of Snake river. Their route now lay over a succession of steep and isolated hills, with profound valleys. On the second day, after taking leave of the affectionate old patriarch, as they were descending

THE HARD-NAMED CHIEF.

251

into one of those deep and abrupt intervales, they descried a smoke, and shortly afterwards came in sight of a small encampment of Nez Percés.

The Indians, when they ascertained that it was a party of white men approaching, greeted them with a salute of fire-arms, and invited them to encamp. This band was likewise under the sway of a venerable chief named Yo-mus-ro-y-e-cut; a name which we shall be careful not to inflict oftener than is necessary upon the reader. This ancient and hardnamed chieftain, welcomed Captain Bonneville to his camp with the same hospitality and loving kindness that he had experienced from his predecessor. He told the captain that he had often heard of the Americans and their generous deeds, and that his Buffalo brethren (the Upper Nez Percés), had always spoken of

« PreviousContinue »