The Rulers of the Lakes by Joseph A. Altsheler
Chapter XI. The Comrades
Robert settled the inert form of the Onondaga against his left shoulder, and, being naturally very strong, with a strength greatly increased by a long life in the woods, he was able to carry the weight easily. He had no plan yet in his mind, merely a vague resolve to carry Tayoga outside the fighting zone and then do what he could to resuscitate him. It was an unfortunate chance that the hostile flankers had cut in between him and the main force of Rogers, but it could not be helped, and the farther he was from his own people the safer would he and Tayoga be.
Two hundred yards more and putting his comrade on the ground he cut away the deerskin, disclosing the wound. The bullet had gone almost through the shoulder, and as he felt of its path he knew with joy that it had touched no bone. Then, unless the loss of blood became great, it could not prove mortal. But the bullet was of heavy type, fired from the old smoothbore musket and the shock had been severe. Although it had not gone quite through the shoulder he could feel it near the surface, and he decided at once upon rude but effective surgery.
Laying Tayoga upon his face, he drew his keen hunting knife and cut boldly into the flesh of the shoulder until he reached the bullet. Then he pried it out with the point of the knife, and threw it away in the bushes. A rush of blood followed and Tayoga groaned, but Robert, rapidly cutting the Onondaga's deerskin tunic into suitable strips, bound tightly and with skill both the entrance and the exit of the wound. The flow of blood was stopped, and he breathed a fervent prayer of thankfulness to the white man's God and the red man's Manitou. Tayoga would live, and he knew that he had saved the life of his comrade, as that comrade had more than once saved his.
Yet both were still surrounded by appalling dangers. At any moment St. Luc's savages might burst through the woods and be upon them. As he finished tying the bandage and stood erect the flare of the fighting came from a point much nearer, though between them and the ranger band, forbidding any possible attempt to rejoin Rogers and Willet. Tayoga opened his eyes, though he saw darkly, through a veil, and said in feeble tones:
"They have closed again with the forces of St. Luc. You would be there, Dagaeoga, to help in the fighting. Go, I am useless. It is not a time to cumber yourself with me."
"If I lay there as you are, and you stood here as I am would you leave me?" asked Robert.
The Onondaga was silent.
"You know you wouldn't," continued Robert, "and you know I won't. Listen, the battle comes nearer. St. Luc must have received a reenforcement."
He leaned forward a little, cupping his ear with his right hand, and he heard distinctly all the sounds of a fierce and terrible conflict, rifle shots, yells of the savages, shouts of the rangers, and once or twice he thought he saw faintly the flashes of rifles as they were fired in the thickets.
"Go," said Tayoga again. "I can see that your spirit turns to the battle. They may not find me, and, perhaps in a day, I shall be able to walk and take care of myself."
Robert made no reply in words, but once more he lifted the Onondaga in his sinewy arms, settled his weight against his left shoulder and resumed his walk away from the battle. Tayoga did not speak, and Robert soon saw that he had relapsed again into unconsciousness. He went at least three hundred yards before resting, and all the while the battle called to him, the shots, the yells and the shouts still coming clearly through the thin mountain air.
He rested perhaps fifteen minutes, and he saw that, while Tayoga was unconscious, the flow of blood was still held in check by the bandages. Resuming his burden, he went on through the forest, a full quarter of a mile now, and the last sound of the battle sank into nothingness behind him. He was consumed with anxiety to know who had won, but there was not a sign to tell.
He came to a brook, and putting Tayoga down once more, he bathed his face freely, until the Onondaga opened his eyes and looked about, not with a veil before his eyes now, but clearly.
"Where are we, Dagaeoga?" he asked.
"I'd tell you if I could, but I can't," replied Robert, cheerfully, rejoiced at the sight of his comrade's returning strength.
"You have left the battle behind you?"
"Yes. I can state in general terms that we're somewhere between Andiatarocte and Oneadatote, which is quite enough for you to know at the present time. I'm the forest doctor, and as this is the first chance I've ever had to exert authority over you, I mean to make the most of it."
Tayoga smiled wanly.
"I see that you have bound up my wound," he said. "That was well. But since I cannot see the wound itself I do not know what kind of a bullet made it."
"It wasn't a bullet at all, Tayoga. It was a cannon ball, though it came out of a wide-mouthed musket, and I'm happy to tell you that it somehow got through your shoulder without touching bone."
"The bullet is out?"
"Yes, I cut it out with this good old hunting knife of mine."
Again Tayoga smiled wanly.
"You have done well, Dagaeoga," he said. "Did I not say to others in your defense that you had intelligence and, in time, might learn? You have saved my life, a poor thing perhaps, but the only life I have, and I thank you."
Robert laughed, and his laugh was full of heartiness. He saw the old Tayoga coming back.
"You'll be a new man tomorrow," he said. "With flesh and blood as healthy as yours a hole through your shoulder that I could put my fist in would soon heal."
"What does Dagaeoga purpose to do next?"
"You'll find out in good time. I'm master now, and I don't intend to tell my plans. If I did you'd be trying to change 'em. While I'm ruler I mean to be ruler."
"It is a haughty spirit you show. You take advantage of my being wounded."
"Of course I do. As I said, it's the only chance I've had. Stop that! Don't try to sit up! You're not strong enough yet. I'll carry you awhile."
Tayoga sank back, and, in a few more minutes, Robert picked him up and went on once more. But he noticed that the Onondaga did not now lie a dead weight upon his shoulder. Instead, there was in him again the vital quality that made him lighter and easier to carry. He knew that Tayoga would revive rapidly, but it would be days before he was fit to take care of himself. He must find not only a place of security, but one of shelter from the fierce midsummer storms that sometimes broke over those mountain slopes. Among the rocks and ravines and dense woods he might discover some such covert. Food was contained in his knapsack and the one still fastened to the back of Tayoga, food enough to last several days, and if the time should be longer his rifle must find more.
The way became rougher, the rocks growing more numerous, the slopes increasing in steepness, and the thickets becoming almost impenetrable.
"Put me down," said Tayoga. "We are safe from the enemy, for a while at least. All the warriors have been drawn by the battle, and, whether it goes on now or not, they have not yet had time to scatter and seek through the wilderness."
"I said I was going to be absolute master, but it looks, Tayoga, as if you meant to give advice anyhow. And as your advice seems good, and I confess I'm a trifle weary, I'll let you see if you can sit up a little on this heap of dead leaves, with your back against this old fallen trunk. Here we go! Gently now! Oh, you'll soon be a warrior again, if you follow my instructions!"
Tayoga heaved a little sigh of relief as he leaned back against the trunk. His eyes were growing clearer and Robert knew that the beat of his pulse was fuller. All the amazing vitality that came from a powerful constitution, hard training and clean living was showing itself. Already, and his wound scarcely two hours old, his strength was coming back.
"You look for a wigwam, Dagaeoga?" he said.
"Well, scarcely that," replied Robert. "I'm not expecting an inn in this wilderness, but I'm seeking some sort of shelter, preferably high up among the rocks, where we might find protection from storms."
"Two or three hundred yards farther on and we'll find it."
"Come, Tayoga, you're just guessing. You can't know such a thing."
"I am not guessing at all, Dagaeoga, and I do know. Your position as absolute ruler was brief. It expired between the first and second hour, and now you have an adviser who may become a director."
"Then proceed with your advice and direction. How do you know there is shelter only two or three hundred yards farther on?"
"I look ahead, and I see a narrow path leading up among the rocks. Such paths are countless in the wilderness, and many of them are untrodden, but the one before my eyes has sustained footsteps many times."
"Come down to earth, Tayoga, and tell me what you see."
"I see on the rocks on either side of this path long, coarse hairs. They were left by a wild animal going back and forth to its den. It was a large wild animal, else it would not have scraped against the rocks on either side. It was probably a bear, and if you will hand me the two or three twisted hairs in the crevice at your elbow I will tell you."
Robert brought them to him and Tayoga nodded assent.
"Aye, it was a bear," he said, "and a big one."
"But how do you know his den is only two or three hundred yards away?"
"That is a matter of looking as far as the eyes can reach. If you will only lift yours and gaze over the tops of those bushes you will see that the path ends against a high stone face or wall, too steep for climbing. So the den must be there, and let us hope, Dagaeoga, that it is large enough for us both. The bear is likely to be away, as this is summer. Now, lift me up. I have talked all the talk that is in me and as much as I have strength to utter."
Robert carried him again, and it was hard traveling up the steep and rocky path, but Tayoga's words were quickly proved to be true. In the crumbling face of the stone cliff they found not only an opening but several, the bear having preferred one of the smaller to the largest, which ran back eight or ten feet and which was roomy enough to house a dozen men. It bore no animal odor, and there was before it an abundance of dead leaves that could be taken in for shelter.
"Now Manitou is kind," said Tayoga, "or it may be that Areskoui and Tododaho are still keeping their personal watch over us. Lay me in the cave, Dagaeoga. Thou hast acquitted thyself as a true friend. No sachem of the Onondagas, however great, could have been greater in fidelity and courage."
Robert made two beds of leaves. On one he spread the blanket that was strapped to Tayoga's back. Then he built his own place and felt that they were sheltered and secure for the time, and in truth they were housed as well as millions of cave men for untold centuries had been. It was a good cave, sweet-smelling, with pure, clean air, and Robert saw that if it rained the water would not come in at the door, but would run past it down the slope, which in itself was one of the luckiest strokes of fortune.
Tayoga lay on his blanket on his bed of leaves, and, looking up at the rough and rocky roof, smiled. He had begged Robert to leave him and go to the battle, and he knew that if his comrade had gone, he, wounded as he was, would surely have perished. If a hostile skirmisher did not find him, which was more than likely, he would have been overcome by the fever of his wound, and, lying unconscious while some rainstorm swept over him, his last chance would be gone. He could feel the fever creeping into his veins now, and he knew that they had found the refuge just in time. Yet he was grateful and cheerful, and in his heart he said silent thanks to Tododaho, Areskoui and Manitou. Then he called to Robert.
"See if you can find water," he said. "There should be more than one stream among these rocky hollows. Bring the water here in your cap and wash my wound."
Iroquois therapeutics were very simple, but wonderfully effective, and, as Robert had seen both Onondagas and Mohawks practice their healing art, he understood. He discovered a good stream not many yards away, and carefully removing Tayoga's bandages, and bringing his cap filled to the brim with water, he cleansed the wound thoroughly. Then the bandages were put on again firmly and securely. This in most cases constituted the whole of the Iroquois treatment, so far as the physical body was concerned. The wound must be kept absolutely clean and away from the air, nature doing the rest. Now and then the juices of powerful herbs were used, but they were not needed for one so young and so wholesome in blood as Tayoga.
When the operation was finished the Onondaga lay back on his bed and smiled once more at the rough and rocky roof.
"Again you show signs of intelligence, Dagaeoga," he said. "As you have learned to be a warrior, perhaps you can learn to be a medicine man also, not the medicine man who deals with spirits, but one who heals. Now, as you have done your part, I shall do mine."
"What do you mean, Tayoga?"
"I will resolve to be well. You know that among my people the healers held in highest honor are those who do not acknowledge the existence of any disease at all. The patient is sick because he has not willed that he should be well. So the medicine man exerts a will for him and by reciting to himself prayers or charms drives away the complaint which the sick man fancies that he has. Now, I do not accept all their belief. A bullet has gone through my shoulder, and I know it. Nothing can alter the fact. Yet I do know that the will has great control over the nerves, which direct the body, and I shall strengthen my will as much as I can, and make it order my body to get well."
Robert knew that what he said was true. Already the Iroquois were, and long had been, practicing what came to be known much later among the white people as Christian Science.
"Try to sleep, Tayoga," he said. "I know the power of your will. If you order yourself to sleep, sleep you will. I have your rifle and mine, and if the enemy should come I think I can hold 'em off."
"They will not come," said Tayoga, "at least, not today nor in the night that will follow. They are so busy with the Great Bear and the Mountain Wolf and Daganoweda that they will not have time to hunt among the hills for the two who have sought refuge here. What of the skies, Dagaeoga? What do they promise?"
Robert, standing in the entrance, took a long look at the heavens.
"Rain," he replied at last; "I can see clouds gathering in the west, and a storm is likely to come with the night. I think I hear distant thunder, but it is so low I'm not sure."
"Areskoui is good to us once more. The kindness of his heart is never exhausted. Truly, O Dagaeoga, he has been a shield between us and our enemies. Now the rain will come, it will pour hard, it will sweep along the slopes, and wash away any faint trace of a trail that we may have left, thus hiding our flight from the eyes of wandering warriors."
"All that's true, and now that you've explained it to your satisfaction, you obey me, exercise your will and go to sleep. I've recovered my rulership, and I mean to exercise it to the full for the little time that it may last."
Tayoga obeyed, composing himself in the easiest attitude on his blanket and bed of leaves, and he exerted his will to the utmost. He wished sleep, and sleep must come, yet he knew that the fever was still rising in his veins. The shock and loss of blood from the great musket ball could not be dismissed by a mere effort of the mind, but the mind nevertheless could fight against their effects and neutralize them.
As the fever rose steadily he exerted his will with increasing power. He said to himself again and again how fortunate he was to be watched over by such a brave and loyal friend, and to have a safe and dry refuge, when other warriors of his nation, wounded, had lain in the forest to die of exhaustion or to be devoured by wild beasts. He knew from the feel of the air that a storm was coming, and again he was thankful to his patron saint, Tododaho, and also to Areskoui, and to Manitou, greatest of all, because a bed and a roof had been found for him in this, the hour of his greatest need.
The mounting fever in his veins seemed to make his senses more vivid and acute for the time. Although Robert could not yet hear in reality the rumbling thunder far down in the southwest, the menace came very plainly to the ears of Tayoga, but it was no menace to him. Instead, the rumble was the voice of a friend, telling him that the deluge was at hand to wash away all traces of their flight and to force their enemies into shelter, while his fever burned itself out.
Tayoga on his blanket, with the thick couch of dry leaves beneath, could still see the figure of Robert, rifle across his knees, crouched at the doorway, a black silhouette against the fading sky. The Onondaga knew that he would watch until the storm came in full flood, and nothing would escape his keen eyes and ears. Dagaeoga was a worthy pupil of Willet, known to the Hodenosaunee as the Great Bear, a man of surpassing skill.
Tayoga also heard the rushing of the rain, far off, coming, perhaps, from Andiatarocte, and presently he saw the flashes of lightning, every one a vast red blaze to his feverish eyes. It was only by the light of these saber strokes across the sky that he could now see Robert, as the dark had come, soon to be followed by floods of rain. Then he closed his eyes, and calling incessantly for sleep, refused to open them again. Sleep came by and by, though it was Tarenyawagon, the sender of dreams, who presided over it, because as he slept, and his fever grew higher, visions, many and fantastic, flitted through his disordered brain.
Robert watched until long after the rain had been pouring in sheets, and it was pitchy dark in the cave. Then he felt of Tayoga's forehead and his pulse, and observed the fever, though without alarm. Tayoga's wound was clean and his blood absolutely pure. The fever was due and it would run its course. He could do nothing more for his comrade at present, and lying down on his own spread of leaves, he soon fell asleep.
Robert's slumber was not sound. Although the Onondaga might be watched over by Tododaho, Areskoui and even Manitou himself, he had felt the weight of responsibility. The gods protected those who protected themselves, and, even while he slept, the thought was nestling somewhere in his brain and awoke him now and then. Upon every such occasion he sat up and looked out at the entrance of the cave, to see, as he had hoped, only the darkness and black sheets of driving rain, and also upon every occasion devout thanks rose up in his throat. Tayoga had not prayed to his patron saint and to the great Areskoui and Manitou in vain, else in all that wilderness, given over to night and storm, they would not have found so good a refuge and shelter.
Tayoga's fever increased, and when morning came, with the rain still falling, though not in such a deluge as by night, it seemed to Robert, who had seen many gunshot wounds, that it was about at the zenith. The Onondaga came out of his sleep, but he was delirious for a little while, Robert sitting by him, covering him with his blanket and seeing that his hurt was kept away from the air.
The rain ceased by and by, but heavy fogs and vapors floated over the mountains, so dense that Robert could not see more than fifteen or twenty feet beyond the mouth of the cave, in front of which a stream of water from the rain a foot deep was flowing. He was thankful. He knew that fog and flood together would hide them in absolute security for another day and night at least.
He ate a little venison and regretted that he did not have a small skillet in which he could make soup for Tayoga later on, but since he did not have it he resolved to pound venison into shreds between stones, when the time came. Examining Tayoga again, he found, to his great joy, that the fever was decreasing, and he washed the wound anew. Then he sat by him a long time while the morning passed. Tayoga, who had been muttering in his fever, sank into silence, and about noon, opening his eyes, he said in a weak voice:
"How long have we been here, Dagaeoga?"
"About half of the second day is now gone," replied Robert, "and your fever has gone with it. You're as limp as a towel, but you're started fairly on the road to recovery."
"I know it," said Tayoga gratefully, "and I am thankful to Tododaho, to Areskoui, to Manitou, greatest of all, and to you, Dagaeoga, without whom the great spirits of earth and air would have let me perish."
"You don't owe me anything, Tayoga. It's what one comrade has a right to expect of another. Did you exert your will, as you said, when you were delirious, and help along nature with your cure?"
"I did, Dagaeoga. Before I lapsed into the unconsciousness of which you speak, I resolved that today, when my fever should have passed, my soul should lift me up. I concentrated my mind upon it, I attuned every nerve to that end, and while I could not prevent the fever and the weakness, yet the resolution to get well fast helps me to do so. By so much does my mind rule over my body."
"I've no doubt you're right about it. Courage and optimism can lift us up a lot, as I've seen often for myself, and you're certainly out of danger now, Tayoga. All you have to do is to lie quiet, if the French and Indians will let us. In a week you'll be able to travel and fight, and in a few weeks you'll never know that a musket ball passed through your shoulder. When do you think you can eat? I'll pound some of the venison very fine."
"Not before night, and then but little. That little, though, I should have. Tomorrow I will eat much more, and a few days later it will be all Dagaeoga can do to find enough food for me. Be sure that you wait on me well. It is the first rest that I have had in a long time, and it is my purpose to enjoy it. If I should be fretful, humor me; if I should be hungry, feed me; if I should be sleepy, let me sleep, and see that I am not disturbed while I do sleep; if my bed is hard, make me a better, and through it all, O Dagaeoga, be thou the finest medicine man that ever breathed in these woods."
"Come, now, Tayoga, you lay too great a burden upon me. I'm not all the excellencies melted into one, and I've never pretended to be. But I can see that you're getting well, because the spirit of rulership is upon you as strong as ever, and, since you're so much improved, I may take it into my mind to obey your commands, though only when I feel like it."
The two lads looked at each other and laughed, and there was immense relief in Robert's laugh. Only now did he admit to himself that he had been terribly alarmed about Tayoga, and he recognized the enormous relief he felt when the Onondaga had passed his crisis.
"In truth, you pick up fast, Tayoga," he said whimsically. "Suppose we go forth now and hunt the enemy. We might finish up what Rogers, Willet and Daganoweda have left of St. Luc's force."
"I would go," replied Tayoga in the same tone, "but Tododaho and Areskoui have told me to bide here awhile. Only a fear that my disobedience might cause me to lose their favor keeps me in the cave. But I wish you to bear in mind, Dagaeoga, that I still exert my will as the medicine men of my nation bid the sick and the hurt to do, and that I feel the fevered blood cooling in my veins, strength flowing back into my weak muscles, and my nerves, that were all so loose and unattuned, becoming steady."
"I'll admit that your will may help, Tayoga, but it's chiefly the long sleep you've had, the good home you enjoy, and the superb care of Dr. Robert Lennox of Albany, New York, and the Vale of Onondaga. On the whole, weighing the question carefully, I should say that the ministrations of Dr. Lennox constitute at least eighty per cent of the whole."
"You are still the great talker, Dagaeoga, that you were when you defeated St. Luc in the test of words in the Vale of Onondaga, and it is well. The world needs good talkers, those who can make speech flow in a golden stream, else we should all grow dull and gloomy, though I will say for you, O Lennox, that you act as well as talk. If I did not, I, whose life you have saved and who have seen you great in battle, should have little gratitude and less perception."
"I've always told you, Tayoga, that when you speak English you speak out of a book, because you learned it out of a book and you take delight in long words. Now I think that 'gratitude' and 'perception' are enough for you and you can rest."
"I will rest, but it is not because you think my words are long and I am exhausted, Dagaeoga. It is because you wish to have all the time yourself for talking. You are cunning, but you need not be so now. I give my time to you."
Robert laughed. The old Tayoga with all his keenness and sense of humor was back again, and it was a sure sign that a rapid recovery had set in.
"Maybe you can go to sleep again," he said. "I think it was a stupor rather than sleep that you passed through last night, but now you ought to find sleep sweet, sound and healthy."
"You speak words of truth, O great white medicine man, and it being so my mind will make my body obey your instructions."
He turned a little on his side, away from his wounded shoulder, and either his will was very powerful or his body was willing, as he soon slept again, and now Tarenyawagon sent him no troubled and disordered dreams. Instead his breathing was deep and regular, and when Robert felt his pulse he found it was almost normal. The fever was gone and the bronze of Tayoga's face assumed a healthful tint.
Then Robert took a piece of venison, and pounded it well between two stones. He would have been glad to light a fire of dry leaves and sticks, that he might warm the meat, but he knew that it was yet too dangerous, and so strong was Tayoga's constitution that he might take the food cold, and yet find it nutritious.
It was late in the afternoon when the Onondaga awoke, yawned in human fashion, and raised himself a little on his unwounded shoulder.
"Here is your dinner, Tayoga," said Robert, presenting the shredded venison. "I'm sorry it's not better, but it's the best the lodge affords, and I, as chief medicine man and also as first assistant medicine man and second assistant medicine man, bid you eat and find no fault."
"I obey, O physician, wise and stern, despite your youth," said Tayoga. "I am hungry, which is a most excellent sign, and I will say, too, that I begin to feel like a warrior again."
He ate as much as Robert would let him have, and then, with a great sigh of content, sank back on his bed of leaves.
"I can feel my wound healing," he said. "Already the clean flesh is spreading over the hurt and the million tiny strands are knitting closely together. Some day it shall be said in the Vale of Onondaga that the wound of Tayoga healed more quickly than the wound of any other warrior of our nation."
"Good enough as a prophecy, but for the present we'll bathe and bind it anew. A little good doctoring is a wonderful help to will and prediction."
Robert once more cleansed the hurt very thoroughly, and he was surprised to find its extremely healthy condition. It had already begun to heal, a proof of amazing vitality on the part of Tayoga, and unless the unforeseen occurred he would set a record in recovery. Robert heaped the leaves under his head to form a pillow, and the young warrior's eyes sparkled as he looked around at their snug abode.
"I can hear the water running by the mouth of the cave," he said. "It comes from last night's rain and flood, but what of tonight, Dagaeoga? The skies and what they have to say mean much to us."
"It will rain again. I've been looking out. All the west is heavy with clouds and the light winds come, soaked with damp. I don't claim to be any prophet like you, Tayoga, because I'm a modest man, I am, but the night will be wet and dark."
"Then we are still under the protection of Tododaho, of Areskoui and of Manitou, greatest of all. Let the dark come quickly and the rain fall heavily, because they will be a veil about us to hide us from Tandakora and his savages."
All that the Onondaga wished came to pass. The clouds, circling about the horizon, soon spread to the zenith, and covered the heavens, hiding the moon and the last star. The rain came, not in a flood, but in a cold and steady pour lasting all night. The night was not only dark and wet outside, but it was very chill also, though in the cave the two young warriors, the white and the red, were warm and dry on their blankets and beds of leaves.
Robert pounded more of the venison the next morning and gave Tayoga twice as much as he had eaten the day before. The Onondaga clamored for an additional supply, but Robert would not let him have it.
"Epicure! Gourmand! Gorger!" said young Lennox. "Would you do nothing but eat? Do you think it your chief duty in this world to be a glutton?"
"No, Dagaeoga," replied Tayoga, "I am not a glutton, but I am yet hungry, and I warn thee, O grudging medicine man, that I am growing strong fast. I feel upon my arm muscles that were not there yesterday and tomorrow or the next day my strength will be so great that I shall take from you all the food of us both and eat it."
"By that time we won't have any left, and I shall have to take measures to secure a new supply. I must go forth in search of game."
"Not today, nor yet tomorrow. It is too dangerous. You must wait until the last moment. It is barely possible that the Great Bear or Black Rifle may find us."
"I don't think so. We'll have to rely on ourselves. But at any rate, I'll stay in the cave today, though I think the rain is about over. Don't you see the sun shining in at the entrance? It's going to be a fine day in the woods, Tayoga, but it won't be a fine day for us."
"That is true, Dagaeoga. It is hard to stay here in a hole in the rocks, when the sun is shining and the earth is drying. The sun has brought back the green to the leaves and the light now must be wonderful on Andiatarocte and Oneadatote. Their waters shift and change with all the colors of the rainbow. It fills me with longing when I think of these things. Go now, Dagaeoga, and find the Great Bear, the Mountain Wolf and Daganoweda. I am well past all danger from my wound, and I can take care of myself."
"Tayoga, you talk like a foolish child. If I hear any more such words I shall have to gag you, for two reasons, because they make a weariness in my ear, and because if anyone else were to hear you he would think you were weak of mind. It's your reputation for sanity that I'm thinking about most. You and I stay here together, and when we leave we leave together."
Tayoga said no more on the subject. He had known all the while that Robert would not leave him, but he had wished to give him the chance. He lay very quiet now for many hours, and Robert sitting at the door of the cave, with his rifle across his knees, was also quiet. While a great talker upon occasion, he had learned from the Iroquois the habit of silence, when silence was needed, and it required no effort from him.
Though he did not speak he saw much. The stream, caused by the flood, still flowed before the mouth of the cave, but it was diminishing steadily. By the time night came it would sink to a thin thread and vanish. The world itself, bathed and cleansed anew, was wonderfully sweet and fresh. The light wind brought the pleasant odors of flower and leaf and grass. Birds began to sing on the overhanging boughs, and a rabbit or two appeared in the valley. These unconscious sentinels made him feel quite sure that no savages were near.
Curiosity about the battle between the forces of St. Luc and those of the rangers and Mohawks, smothered hitherto by his anxiety and care for Tayoga, was now strong in his breast. It was barely possible that St. Luc had spread a successful ambush and that all of his friends had fallen. He shuddered at the thought, and then dismissed it as too unlikely. Tayoga fell asleep again, and when he awoke he was not only able to sit up, but to walk across the cave.
"Tomorrow," he said, "I shall be able to sit near the entrance and load and fire a rifle as well as ever. If an enemy should come I think I could hold the refuge alone."
"That being the case," said Robert, "and you being full of pride and haughtiness, I may let you have the chance. Not many shreds of our venison are left, and as I shall have in you a raging wolf to feed, I'll go forth and seek game. It seems to me I ought to find it soon. You don't think it's all been driven away by marching rangers and warriors, do you, Tayoga?"
"No, the rangers and warriors have been seeking one another, not the game, and perhaps the deer and the moose know it. Why does man think that Manitou watches over him alone? Perhaps He has told the big animals that they are safer when the men fight. On our way here I twice saw the tracks of a moose, and it may be your fortune to find one tomorrow, Dagaeoga."
"Not fortune, at all, Tayoga. If I bring down one it will be due to my surpassing skill in trailing and to my deadly sharpshooting, for which I am renowned the world over. Anyhow, I think we can sleep another night without a guard and then we'll see what tomorrow will bring forth."