The Hunters of the Hills

by Joseph A. Altsheler

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Chapter I. The Three Friends

A canoe containing two boys and a man was moving slowly on one of the little lakes in the great northern wilderness of what is now the State of New York. The water, a brilliant blue under skies of the same intense sapphire tint, rippled away gently on either side of the prow, or rose in heaps of glittering bubbles, as the paddles were lifted for a new stroke.

Vast masses of dense foliage in the tender green of early spring crowned the high banks of the lake on every side. The eye found no break anywhere. Only the pink or delicate red of a wild flower just bursting into bloom varied the solid expanse of emerald walls; and save for the canoe and a bird of prey, darting in a streak of silver for a fish, the surface of the water was lone and silent.

The three who used the paddles were individual and unlike, none of them bearing any resemblance to the other two. The man sat in the stern. He was of middle years, built very powerfully and with muscles and sinews developed to an amazing degree. His face, in childhood quite fair, had been burned almost as brown as that of an Indian by long exposure. He was clothed wholly in tanned deerskin adorned with many little colored beads. A hatchet and knife were in the broad belt at his waist, and a long rifle lay at his feet.

His face was fine and open and he would have been noticed anywhere. But the eyes of the curious would surely have rested first upon the two youths with him.

One was back of the canoe's center on the right side and the other was forward on the left. The weight of the three occupants was balanced so nicely that their delicate craft floated on a perfectly even keel. The lad near the prow was an Indian of a nobler type than is often seen in these later days, when he has been deprived of the native surroundings that fit him like the setting of a gem.

The Indian, although several years short of full manhood, was tall, with limbs slender as was usual in his kind; but his shoulders were broad and his chest wide and deep. His color was a light copper, the tint verging toward red, and his face was illumined wonderfully by black eyes that often flashed with a lofty look of courage and pride.

The young warrior, Tayoga, a coming chief of the clan of the Bear, of the nation Onondaga, of the League of the Hodenosaunee, known to white men as the Iroquois, was in all the wild splendor of full forest attire. His headdress, gustoweh, was the product of long and careful labor. It was a splint arch, curving over the head, and crossed by another arch from side to side, the whole inclosed by a cap of fine network, fastened with a silver band. From the crest, like the plume of a Roman knight, a cluster of pure white feathers hung, and on the side of it a white feather of uncommon size projected upward and backward, the end of the feather set in a little tube which revolved with the wind, the whole imparting a further air of distinction to his strong and haughty countenance.

The upper part of his body was clothed in the garment called by the Hodenosaunee gakaah, a long tunic of deerskin tanned beautifully, descending to the knees, belted at the waist, and decorated elaborately with the quills of the porcupine, stained red, yellow and blue and varied with the natural white.

His leggings, called in his own language giseha, were fastened by bands above the knees, and met his moccasins. They too were of deerskin tanned with the same skill, and along the seams and around the bottom, were adorned with the quills of the porcupine and rows of small, colored beads. The moccasins, ahtaquaoweh, of deerskin, were also decorated with quills and beads, but the broad belt, gagehta, holding in his tunic at the waist, was of rich blue velvet, heavy with bead work. The knife at his belt had a silver hilt, and the rifle in the bottom of the canoe was silver-mounted. Nowhere in the world could one have found a young forest warrior more splendid in figure, manner and dress.

The white youth was the equal in age and height of his red comrade, but was built a little more heavily. His face, tanned red instead of brown, was of the blonde type and bore an aspect of refinement unusual in the woods. The blue eyes were thoughtful and the chin, curving rather delicately, indicated gentleness and a sense of humor, allied with firmness of purpose and great courage. His dress was similar in fashion to that of the older man, but was finer in quality. He was armed like the others.

"I suppose we're the only people on the lake," said the hunter and scout, David Willet, "and I'm glad of it, lads. It's not a time, just when the spring has come and the woods are so fine, to be shot at by Huron warriors and their like down from Canada."

"I don't want 'em to send their bullets at me in the spring or any other time," said the white lad, Robert Lennox. "Hurons are not good marksmen, but if they kept on firing they'd be likely to hit at last. I don't think, though, that we'll find any of 'em here. What do you say, Tayoga?"

The Indian youth flashed a swift look along the green wall of forest, and replied in pure Onondaga, which both Lennox and Willet understood:

"I think they do not come. Nothing stirs in the woods on the high banks. Yet Onontio (the Governor General of Canada) would send the Hurons and the other nations allied with the French against the people of Corlear (the Governor of the Province of New York). But they fear the Hodenosaunee."

"Well they may!" said Willet. "The Iroquois have stopped many a foray of the French. More than one little settlement has thriven in the shade of the Long House."

The young warrior smiled and lifted his head a little. Nobody had more pride of birth and race than an Onondaga or a Mohawk. The home of the Hodenosaunee was in New York, but their hunting grounds and real domain, over which they were lords, extended from the Hudson to the Ohio and from the St. Lawrence to the Cumberland and the Tennessee, where the land of the Cherokees began. No truer kings of the forest ever lived, and for generations their warlike spirit fed upon the fact.

"It is true," said Tayoga gravely, "but a shadow gathers in the north. The children of Corlear wish to plow the land and raise corn, but the sons of Onontio go into the forest and become hunters and warriors with the Hurons. It is easy for the man in the woods to shoot down the man in the field."

"You put it well, Tayoga," exclaimed Willet. "That's the kernel in the nut. The English settle upon the land, but the French take to the wild life and would rather be rovers. When it comes to fighting it puts our people at a great disadvantage. I know that some sort of a wicked broth is brewing at Quebec, but none of us can tell just when it will boil over."

"Have you ever been to Quebec, Dave?" asked Robert.

"Twice. It's a fortress on a rock high above the St. Lawrence, and it's the seat of the French power in North America. We English in this country rule our selves mostly, but the French in Canada don't have much to say. It's the officials sent out from France who govern as they please."

"And you believe they'll attack us, Dave?"

"When they're ready, yes, but they intend to choose time and place. I think they've been sending war belts to the tribes in the north, but I can't prove it."

"The French in France are a brave and gallant race, Dave, and they are brave and gallant here too, but I think they're often more cruel than we are."

It was in David Willet's mind to say it was because the French had adapted themselves more readily than the English to the ways of the Indian, but consideration for the feelings of Tayoga restrained him. The wilderness ranger had an innate delicacy and to him Tayoga was always a nobleman of the forest.

"You've often told me, Dave," said Lennox, "that I've French blood in me."

"There's evidence pointing that way," said Willet, "and when I was in Quebec I saw some of the men from Northern France. I suppose we mostly think of the French as short and dark, but these were tall and fair. Some of them had blue eyes and yellow hair, and they made me think a little of you, Robert."

Young Lennox sighed and became very thoughtful. The mystery of his lineage puzzled and saddened him at times. It was a loss never to have known a father or a mother, and for his kindest and best friends to be of a blood not his own. The moments of depression, however, were brief, as he had that greatest of all gifts from the gods, a cheerful and hopeful temperament.

The three began to paddle with renewed vigor. Gasna Gaowo, the canoe in which they sat, was a noble example of Onondaga art. It was about sixteen feet in length and was made of the bark of the red elm, the rim, however, being of white ash, stitched thoroughly to the bark. The ribs also were of white ash, strong and flexible, and fastened at each end under the rim. The prow, where the ends of the bark came together, was quite sharp, and the canoe, while very light and apparently frail, was exceedingly strong, able to carry a weight of more than a thousand pounds. The Indians surpassed all other people in an art so useful in a land of many lakes and rivers and they lavished willing labor upon their canoes, often decorating them with great beauty and taste.

"We're now within the land of the Mohawks, are we not, Tayoga?" asked Lennox.

"Ganeagaono, the Keepers of the Eastern Gate, rule here," replied the young warrior, "but the Hurons dispute their claim."

"I've heard that the Mohawks and the Hurons, who now fight one another, were once of the same blood."

"It is so. The old men have had it from those who were old men when they were boys. The Mohawks in a far, far time were a clan of the Wanedote, called in your language the Hurons, and lived where the French have built their capital of Quebec. Thence their power spread, and becoming a great nation themselves they separated from the Wanedote. But many enemies attacked them and they moved to the south, where they joined the Onondagas and Oneidas, and in time the League of the Hodenosaunee grew up. That, though, was far, far back, eight or ten of what the white men call generations."

"But it's interesting, tremendously so," said Robert, reflectively. "I find that the red races and the white don't differ much. The flux and movement have been going on always among them just as it has among us. Races disappear, and new ones appear."

"It is so, Lennox," said Tayoga gravely, "but the League of the Hodenosaunee is the chosen of Manitou. We, the Onundagaono, in your language Onondagas, Keepers of the Council, the Brand and the Wampum, know it. The power of the Long House cannot be broken. Onundagaono, Ganeogaono, Nundawaono (Senecas), Gweugwehono (Cayugas), Onayotekaono (Oneidas) and the new nation that we made our brethren, Dusgaowehono (Tuscaroras), will defend it forever."

Robert glanced at him. Tayoga's nostrils expanded as he spoke, the chin was thrown up again and his eyes flashed with a look of immeasurable pride. White youth understood red youth. The forest could be as truly a kingdom as cities and fields, and within the limits of his horizon Tayoga, a coming chief of the clan of the Bear, of the nation Onondaga, of the League of the Hodenosaunee, was as thoroughly of royal blood as any sovereign on his throne. He and his father and his father's father before him and others before them had heard the old men and the women chant the prowess and invincibility of the Hodenosaunee, and of that great league, the Onondagas, the Keepers of the Wampum, the Brand and the Council Fire, were in Tayoga's belief first, its heart and soul.

Robert had pride of race himself--it was a time when an ancient stock was thought to count for much--and he was sure that the blood in his veins was noble, but, white though he was, he did not feel any superiority to Tayoga. Instead he paid him respect where respect was due because, born to a great place in a great race, he was equal to it. He understood, too, why the Hodenosaunee seemed immutable and eternal to its people, as ancient Rome had once seemed unshakable and everlasting to the Romans, and, understanding, he kept his peace.

The lake, slender and long, now narrowed to a width of forty or fifty yards and curved sharply toward the east. They slowed down with habitual caution, until they could see what lay in front of them. Robert and Tayoga rested their paddles, and Willet sent the canoe around the curve. The fresh reach of water was peaceful too, unruffled by the craft of any enemy, and on either side the same lofty banks of solid green stretched ahead. Above and beyond the cliffs rose the distant peaks and ridges of the high mountains. The whole was majestic and magnificent beyond comparison. Robert and Tayoga, their paddles still idle, breathed it in and felt that Manitou, who is the same as God, had lavished work upon this region, making it good to the eye of all men for all time.

"How far ahead is the cove, Tayoga?" asked Willet.

"About a mile," replied the Onondaga.

"Then we'd better put in there, and look for game. We've got mighty little venison."

"It is so," said Tayoga, using his favorite words of assent. Neither he nor Robert resumed the paddle, leaving the work for the rest of the way to the hunter, who was fully equal to the task. His powerful arms swept the broad blade through the water, and the canoe shot forward at a renewed pace. Long practice and training had made him so skillful at the task that his breath was not quickened by the exertion. It was a pleasure to Robert to watch the ease and power with which he did so much.

The lake widened as they advanced, and through a change in the color of the sky the water here seemed silver rather than blue. A flock of wild ducks swam near the edge and he saw two darting loons, but there was no other presence. Silence, beauty and majesty were everywhere, and he was content to go on, without speaking, infused with the spirit of the wilderness.

The cove showed after a while, at first a mere slit that only a wary eye could have seen, and then a narrow opening through which a small creek flowed into the lake. Willet, with swift and skillful strokes of the paddle, turned the canoe into the stream and advanced some distance up it, until he stopped at a point where it broadened into an expanse like a pool, covered partly with water lilies, and fringed with tall reeds. Behind the reeds were slanting banks clothed with dense, green foliage. It was an ideal covert, and there were thousands like it in the wonderful wilderness of the North Woods.

"You find this a good place, don't you, Tayoga?" said Willet, with a certain deference.

"It suits us well," replied the young Onondaga in his measured tones. "No man, Indian or white, has been here today. The lilies are undisturbed. Not a reed has been bent. Ducks that have not yet seen us are swimming quietly up the creek, and farther on a stag is drinking at its edge. I can hear him lapping the water."

"That was wonderful, Tayoga," said Willet with admiration. "I wouldn't have noticed it, but since you've spoken of it I can hear the stag too. Now he's gone away. Maybe he's heard us."

"Like as not," said Robert, "and he'd have been a good prize, but he's taken the alarm, and he's safe. We'll have to look for something else. Just there on the right you can see an opening among the leaves, Dave, and that's our place for landing."

Willet sent the canoe through the open water between the tall reeds, then slowed it down with his paddle, and the prow touched the bank gently.

The three stepped out and drew the canoe with great care upon the shore, in order that it might dry. The bank at that point was not steep and the presence of the deer at the water's edge farther up indicated a slope yet easier there.

"Appears to be a likely place for game," said Willet. "While the stag has scented us and gone, there must be more deer in the woods. Maybe they're full of 'em, since this is doubtful ground and warriors and white men too are scarce."

"But red scouts from the north may be abroad," said Robert, "and it would be unwise to use our rifles. We don't want a brush with Hurons or Tionontati."

"The Tionontati went into the west some years ago," said Tayoga, "and but few of their warriors are left with their kinsmen, the Hurons."

"But those few would be too many, should they chance to be near. We must not use our rifles. Instead we must resort to your bow and arrows, Tayoga."

"Perhaps waano (the bow) will serve us," said the young chief, with his confident smile.

"That being the case, then," said Willet, "I'll stay here and mind the canoe, while the pair of you boys go and find the deer. You're younger than I am, an' I'm willing for you to do the work."

The white teeth of Tayoga flashed into a deeper smile.

"Does our friend, the Great Bear, who calls himself Willet, grow old?" he asked.

"Not by a long sight, Tayoga," replied Willet with energy. "I'm no braggart, I hope, but you Iroquois don't call me Great Bear for nothing. My muscles are as hard as ever, and my wind's as good. I can lift more and carry more upon my shoulders than any other man in all this wilderness."

"I but jested with the Great Bear," said Tayoga, smiling. "Did I not see last winter how quick he could be when I was about to be cut to pieces under the sharp hoofs of the wounded and enraged moose, and he darted in and slew the animal with his long knife?"

"Don't speak of it, Tayoga. That was just a little matter between friends. You'd do as much for me if the chance came."

"But you've done it already, Great Bear."

Willet said something more in deprecation, and picking up the canoe, put it in a better place. Its weight was nothing to him, and Robert noticed with admiration the play of the great arms and shoulders. Seen now upon the land and standing at his full height Willet was a giant, proportioned perfectly, a titanic figure fitted by nature to cope with the hardships and dangers of the wilderness.

"I'm thinking stronger than ever that this is good deer country," he said. "It has all the looks of it, since they can find here the food they like, and it hasn't been ranged over for a long time by white man or red. Tayoga, you and Robert oughtn't to be long in finding the game we want."

"I think like the Great Bear that we'll not have to look far for deer," said the Onondaga, "and I leave my rifle with you while I take my bow and arrows."

"I'll keep your rifle for you, Tayoga, and if I didn't have anything else to do I'd go along with you two lads and see you use the bow. I know that you're a regular king with it."

Tayoga said nothing, although he was secretly pleased with the compliment, and took from the canoe a long slender package, wrapped carefully in white, tanned deerskin, which he unrolled, disclosing the bow, waano.

The young Onondaga's bow, like everything he wore or used, was of the finest make, four feet in length, and of such powerful wood that only one of great strength and equal skill could bend it. He brought it to the proper curve with a sudden, swift effort, and strung it. There he tested the string with a quick sweeping motion of his hand, making it give back a sound like that of a violin, and seemed satisfied.

He also took from the canoe the quiver, gadasha, which was made of carefully dressed deerskin, elaborately decorated with the stained quills of the porcupine. It was two feet in length and contained twenty-five arrows, gano.

The arrows were three feet long, pointed with deer's horn, each carrying two feathers twisted about the shaft. They, like the bow and quiver, were fine specimens of workmanship and would have compared favorably with those used by the great English archers of the Middle Ages.

Tayoga examined the sharp tips of the arrows, and, poising the quiver over his left shoulder, fastened it on his back, securing the lower end at his waist with the sinews of the deer, and the upper with the same kind of cord, which he carried around the neck and then under his left arm. The ends of the arrows were thus convenient to his right hand, and with one sweeping circular motion he could draw them from the quiver and fit them to the bowstring.

The Iroquois had long since learned the use of the rifle and musket, but on occasion they still relied upon the bow, with which they had won their kingdom, the finest expanse of mountain and forest, lake and river, ever ruled over by man. Tayoga, as he strung his bow and hung his quiver, felt a great emotion, the spirit of his ancestors he would have called it, descending upon him. Waano and he fitted together and for the time he cherished it more than his rifle, the weapon that the white man had brought from another world. The feel of the wood in his hand made him see visions of a vast green wilderness in which the Indian alone roamed and knew no equal.

"What are you dreaming about, Tayoga?" asked Robert, who also dreamed dreams.

The Onondaga shook himself and laughed a little.

"Of nothing," he replied. "No, that was wrong. I was dreaming of the deer that we'll soon find. Come, Lennox, we'll go seek him."

"And while you're finding him," said Willet, "I'll be building the fire on which we'll cook the best parts of him."

Tayoga and Robert went together into the forest, the white youth taking with him his rifle, which, however, he did not expect to use. It was merely a precaution, as the Hurons, Abenakis, Caughnawagas and other tribes in the north were beginning to stir and mutter under the French influence. And for that reason, and because they did not wish to alarm possible game, the two went on silent foot.

No other human beings were present there, but the forest was filled with inhabitants, and hundreds of eyes regarded the red youth with the bow, and the white youth with the rifle, as they passed among the trees. Rabbits looked at them from small red eyes. A muskrat, at a brook's edge, gazed a moment and then dived from sight. A chipmunk cocked up his ears, listened and scuttled away.

But most of the population of the forest was in the trees. Squirrels chattering with anger at the invaders, or with curiosity about them, ran along the boughs, their bushy tails curving over their backs. A huge wildcat crouched in a fork, swelled with anger, his eyes reddening and his sharp claws thrusting forth as he looked at the two beings whom he instinctively hated much and feared more. The leaves swarmed with birds, robins and wrens and catbirds and all the feathered tribe keeping up an incessant quivering and trilling, while a distant woodpecker drummed portentously on the trunk of an old oak. They too saw the passing youths, but since no hand was raised to hurt them they sang, in their way, as they worked and played.

The wilderness spell was strong upon Tayoga, whose ancestors had lived unknown ages in the forest. The wind from the north as it rustled the leaves filled his strong lungs and made the great pulses leap. The bow in his hand fitted into the palm like a knife in its sheath. He heard the animals and the birds, and the sounds were those to which his ancestors had listened a thousand years and more. Once again he was proud of his heritage. He was Tayoga, a coming chief of the Clan of the Bear, of the nation Onondaga, of the League of the Hodenosaunee, and he would not exchange places with any man of whom he had heard in all the world.

The forest was the friend of Tayoga and he knew it. He could name the trees, the elm and the maple, and the spruce and the cedar and all the others. He knew the qualities of their wood and bark and the uses for which every one was best fitted. He noticed particularly the great maples, so precious to the Iroquois, from which they took sap and made sugar, and which gave an occasion and name to one of their most sacred festivals and dances. He also observed the trees from which the best bows and arrows were made, and the red elms and butternut hickories, the bark of which served the Iroquois for canoes.

When Tayoga passed through a forest it was not merely a journey, it was also an inspection. He had been trained from his baby frame, gaoseha, always to observe everything that met the human eye, and now he not only examined the trees, but also the brooks and the little ravines and the swell of the hills and the summits of the mountains that towered high, many miles away. If ever he came back there he would know the ground and all its marks.

His questing eye alighted presently upon the delicate traces of hoofs, and, calling Robert's attention, the two examined them with the full care demanded by their purpose.

"New," said Tayoga; "scarce an hour old."

"Less than that," said Robert. "The deer can't be far away."

"He is near, because there has been nothing to make him run. Here go the traces in almost a half circle. He is feeding and taking his time."

"It's a good chase to follow. The wind is blowing toward us, and he can take no alarm, unless he sees or hears us."

"It would be shame to an Onondaga if a deer heard him coming."

"You don't stand in any danger of being made ashamed, Tayoga. As you're to be the hunter, lead and I'll follow."

The Onondaga slipped through the undergrowth, and Robert, a skillful young woodsman also, came after with such care and lightness of foot that neither made a twig or leaf rustle. Tayoga always followed the traces. The deer had nibbled tender young shoots, but he had not remained long in one place. The forest was such an abundant garden to him that, fastidious as an epicure, he required the most delicate food to please his palate.

Tayoga stopped suddenly in a few minutes and raised his hand. Robert, following his gaze, saw a stag about a hundred yards away, a splendid fellow with head upraised, not in alarm, but to nuzzle some tender young leaves.

"I will go to the right," whispered the young warrior, "and will you, my friend, remain here?"

Robert nodded, and Tayoga slid silently among the bushes to secure a nearer and better position for aim. The Indian admired the stag which, like himself, fitted into the forest. He would not have hunted him for sport, nor at any other time would he have shot him, but food was needed and Manitou had sent the deer for that purpose. He was not one to oppose the will of Manitou.

The greatest bowman in the Northern wilderness crouched in the thicket, and reaching his right hand over his left shoulder, withdrew an arrow, which he promptly fitted to the string. It was a perfect arrow, made by the young chief himself, and the two feathers were curved in the right manner to secure the utmost degree of speed and accuracy. He fitted it to the string and drew the bow far back, almost to the head of the shaft. Now he was the hunter only and the spirit of hunting ancestors for many generations was poured into him. His eye followed the line of coming flight and he chose the exact spot on the sleek body beneath which the great heart lay.

The stag, with his head upraised, still pulled at the tender top of a bush, and the deceitful wind, which blew from him toward Tayoga, brought no warning. Nor did the squirrel chattering in the tree or the bird singing on the bough just over his head tell him that the hunter was near. Tayoga looked again down the arrow at the chosen place on the gleaming body of the deer, and with a sudden and powerful contraction of the muscles, bending the bow a little further, loosed the shaft.

The arrow flew singing through the air as swift and deadly as a steel dart and was buried in the heart of the stag, which, leaping upward, fell, writhed convulsively a moment or two, and died. The young Onondaga regarded his work a moment with satisfaction, and then walked forward, followed by his white comrade.

"One arrow was enough, Tayoga," said Robert, "and I knew before you shot that another would not be needed."

"The distance was not great," said Tayoga modestly. "I should have been a poor marksman had I missed."

He pulled his arrow with a great effort from the body of the deer, wiped it carefully upon the grass, and returned it to gadasha, the quiver. Arrows required time and labor for the making, but unlike the powder and bullet in a rifle, they could be used often, and hence at times the bow had its advantage.

Then the two worked rapidly and skillfully with their great hunting knives, skinning and removing all the choicer portions of the deer, and before they finished they heard the pattering of light feet in the woods, accompanied now and then by an evil whine.

"The wolves come early," said Tayoga.

"And they're over hungry," said Robert, "or they wouldn't let us know so soon that they're in the thickets."

"It is told sometimes, among my people, that the soul of a wicked man has gone into the wolf," said Tayoga, not ceasing in his work, his shining blade flashing back and forth. "Then the wolf can understand what we say, although he may not speak himself."

"And suppose we kill such a wolf, Tayoga, what becomes of the wicked soul?"

"It goes at once into the body of another wolf, and passes on from wolf to wolf, being condemned to live in that foul home forever. Such a punishment is only for the most vile, and they are few. It is but the hundredth among the wicked who suffers thus."

"The other ninety-nine go after death to Hanegoategeh, the land of perpetual darkness, where they suffer in proportion to the crimes they committed on earth, but Hawenneyu, the Divine Being, takes pity on them and gives them another chance. When they have suffered long enough in Hanegoategeh to be purified he calls them before him and looks into their souls. Nothing can be hidden from him. He sees the evil thought, Lennox, as you or I would see a leaf upon the water, and then he judges. And he is merciful. He does not condemn and send to everlasting torture, because evil may yet be left in the soul, but if the good outweighs the bad the good shall prevail and the suffering soul is sent to Hawenneyugeh, the home of the just, where it suffers no more. But if the bad still outweighs the good then its chance is lost and it is sent to Hanishaonogeh, the home of the wicked, where it is condemned to torture forever."

"A reasonable religion, Tayoga. Your Hanegoategeh is like the purgatory, in which the Catholic church believes. Your God like ours is merciful, and the more I learn about your religion the more similar it seems to ours."

"I think your God and our Manitou are the same, Lennox, we only see him through different glasses, but our religion is old, old, very old, perhaps older than yours."

Although Tayoga did not raise his voice or change the inflection Robert knew that he spoke with great pride. The young Onondaga did not believe his religion resembled the white man's but that the white man's resembled his. Robert respected him though, and knowing the reasons for his pride, said nothing in contradiction.

"The whining wolf is hungry," said Tayoga, "and since the soul of a warrior may dwell in his body I will feed him."

He took a discarded piece of the deer and threw it far into the bushes. A fearful growling, and the noise of struggling ensued at once.

"The wolf with the wicked soul in him may be there," said Robert, "but even so he has to fight with the other wolves for the meat you flung."

"It is a part of his fate," said Tayoga gravely. "Seeing and thinking as a man, he must yet bite and claw with beasts for his food. Now I think we have all of the deer we wish."

As they could not take it with them for tanning, they cut the skin in half, and each wrapped in his piece a goodly portion of the body to be carried to the canoe. Both were fastidious, wishing to get no stain upon their clothing, and, their task completed, they carefully washed their hands and knives at the edge of a brook. Then as they lifted up their burdens the whining and growling in the bushes increased rapidly.

"They see that we are going," said Tayoga. "The wolf even without the soul of a warrior in it knows much. It is the wisest of all the animals, unless the fox be its equal. The foolish bear and the mad panther fight alone, but the wolf, who is too small to face either, bands with his brothers into a league, even as the Hodenosaunee, and together they pull down the deer and the moose, and in the lands of the Ohio they dare to attack and slay the mighty bull buffalo."

"They know the strength of union, Tayoga, and they know, too, just now that they're safe from our weapons. I can see their noses poking already in their eagerness through the bushes. They're so hungry and so confident that they'll hardly wait until we get away."

As they passed with their burdens into the bushes on the far side of the little opening they heard a rush of light feet, and angry snarling. Looking back, Robert saw that the carcass of the stag was already covered with hungry wolves, every one fighting for a portion, and he knew it was the way of the forest.

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