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TALES OF ADVENTURE.
Animating, inspiriting, exciting.
PRAIRIE LIFE (N. AMERICA). Our march this day was animating, and we were in a region of adventure, breaking our way through a country hitherto untrodden by white men, excepting perchance by some solitary trapper. The weather was in its perfection—temperate, genial, and enlivening; a deep-blue sky, with a few light feathery clouds, an atmosphere of perfect transparency, an air pure and bland, and glorious country spreading out far and wide in the golden sunshine of an autumnal day. But all was silent, lifeless, without a human habitation, and apparently without a human inhabitant. It was as if a ban hung over this fair but fated region. The very Indians dared not to abide there, but made it a mere scene of perilous enterprise-to hunt for a few days, and then away.
After a march for about fifteen miles west, we encamped in a beautiful peninsula, made by the windings and doublings of a deep, clear, and almost motionless brook, and covered by an open grove of lofty and magnificent trees. Several hunters immediately started forth in quest of game, before the noise of the camp should frighten it from the vicinity. Our man, Beatte, also took his rifle, and went forth alone in a different course for the west.
For my own part, I lay on the grass under the trees, and built castles in the clouds, and indulged in the very luxury of rural repose. Indeed, I can scarcely conceive a kind of life more calculated to put both mind and body in a healthful tone.
A morning's ride of several hours, diversified by hunting accidents, an encampment in the afternoon (we encamped under some noble grove on the borders of a stream), an evening banquet of venison, fresh killed, roasted or broiled on the coals, turkeys just from the thickets, and wild honey from the trees, and all relished with an appetite unknown to the wealthy of the cities; and at night-such sweet delight in the open air, walking and gazing at moon and stars shining between the trees.
On the present occasion, however, we had not much reason to boast of our larder. But one deer had been killed during the day, and none of that reached our lodge; we were fain, therefore, to stay our keen appetites by some scraps of turkeys brought from the last encampment, eked out with a slice of salt pork. This scarcity, however, did not continue long.
Before dark, a young hunter returned well laden with spoil. He had shot a deer, cut it up in artist-like style, and putting it into a kind of sack, made of the hide, had slung it across his shoulder, and trudged with it to camp.
Not long after, Beatte made his appearance with a fat doe across his horse. It was the first game he had brought in, and I was glad to see him with a trophy that gave such good promise of a feast. He laid the carcass down before our fire, without saying a word, and then turned to unsaddle his horse; nor could any questions from us about his hunting draw from him more than gruff replies.
If Beatte, however, observed this Indian taciturnity about what he had done, Tonish made up for it by boasting of what he meant to do. Now that we were in a good hunting country, he meant to take the field, and, if we would take his word for it, our lodge would henceforth be overwhelmed with game. Luckily his talking did not prevent his working; the doe was skilfully cut up, several fat ribs roasted before the fire, the coffeekettle replenished, and in a little while we were enabled to make ample amends for our late meagre repast.
Tour on the Prairies.
To get under weigh, to set off. Pre-occupied, thinking of somePrecipitous, steep.
thing else. Mellowed, softened.
Distract (the attention), take Verdure, green.
away, draw off. Trait (pron. tray), feature, aspect. Inexorable, not be moved by pity.
A BEAR HUNT (N. AMERICA). Bright and early we were under weigh, our arms all overhauled and in fine order, with a keen relish for the rough work before us. As we neared the hills, they presented singular features. Those in front were by no means precipitous, but rose from the valleys with a gentle curve, clothed all the way to the top with mighty oaks, bearded like patriarchs. Their trunks stood far apart to give room for their long knotty arms, festooned with silvery moss, to spread over the girth, not unfrequently of half an acre. As these trees forked very soon, and as there was no underbush beneath, the heavy drapery of the moss hung drooping as from a low-roofed temple of the Druids; and the thick green sward spread under it, mellowed the grey shades deliciously. The trees became gradually smaller and scantier as the eye descended to the valleys, and then in the centre of each was a stripe of prairie of the deepest verdure, open to the sun, which produced the illusion of a gold and emerald flood, silently creeping beneath the grim towering shadows. A few small trees were scattered along the foot of the ridges a short distance out into our prairie. We were all entranced into gazing upon this marvellous scene, which opened in new traits of surpassing loveliness and grandeur as we approached.
The awed silence which had fallen round the party was broken by a quick, vehement exclamation of the Doctor, “ There they are! I'm into 'em, boys!” and away he dashed, with “bobtail” at his best speed, and flourishing the spear above his head !
Looking around in astonishment for the cause of this sudden outbreak, I saw the whole party urging forward their horses, while their eyes were strained with a half eager, half comic look, after the Doctor. Following the same direction, I could distinguish, three or four hundred yards ahead, several black, unwieldylooking objects, that seemed to be rooting in the long grass, just at the foot of one of the low Knobs, and a little distance out in the prairie. One of them raised its head at the moment, and I saw