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The Hunters of the Hills

The Hunters of the Hills

Author:Joseph A. Altsheler


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

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

  The three who used the paddles were individual and unlike, none of thembearing any resemblance to the other two. The man sat in the stern. Hewas of middle years, built very powerfully and with muscles and sinewsdeveloped to an amazing degree. His face, in childhood quite fair, hadbeen burned almost as brown as that of an Indian by long exposure. Hewas clothed wholly in tanned deerskin adorned with many little coloredbeads. A hatchet and knife were in the broad belt at his waist, and along rifle lay at his feet.

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

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

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

  The young warrior, Tayoga, a coming chief of the clan of the Bear, ofthe nation Onondaga, of the League of the Hodenosaunee, known to whitemen as the Iroquois, was in all the wild splendor of full forestattire. His headdress, _gustoweh_, was the product of long and carefullabor. It was a splint arch, curving over the head, and crossed byanother arch from side to side, the whole inclosed by a cap of finenetwork, fastened with a silver band. From the crest, like the plume ofa Roman knight, a cluster of pure white feathers hung, and on the sideof it a white feather of uncommon size projected upward and backward,the end of the feather set in a little tube which revolved with thewind, the whole imparting a further air of distinction to his strong andhaughty countenance.

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

  His leggings, called in his own language _giseha_, were fastened bybands above the knees, and met his moccasins. They too were of deerskintanned with the same skill, and along the seams and around the bottom,were adorned with the quills of the porcupine and rows of small, coloredbeads. The moccasins, _ahtaquaoweh_, of deerskin, were also decoratedwith quills and beads, but the broad belt, _gagehta_, holding in histunic at the waist, was of rich blue velvet, heavy with bead work. Theknife at his belt had a silver hilt, and the rifle in the bottom of thecanoe was silver-mounted. Nowhere in the world could one have found ayoung forest warrior more splendid in figure, manner and dress.

  The white youth was the equal in age and height of his red comrade, butwas 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 thewoods. The blue eyes were thoughtful and the chin, curving ratherdelicately, indicated gentleness and a sense of humor, allied withfirmness of purpose and great courage. His dress was similar in fashionto that of the older man, but was finer in quality. He was armed likethe others.

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

  "I don't want 'em to send their bullets at me in the spring or any othertime," 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'tthink, 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 andthe other nations allied with the French against the people of Corlear

the Governor of the Province of New York

. But they fear theHodenosaunee."

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

  The young warrior smiled and lifted his head a little. Nobody had morepride of birth and race than an Onondaga or a Mohawk. The home of theHodenosaunee was in New York, but their hunting grounds and real domain,over which they were lords, extended from the Hudson to the Ohio andfrom the St. Lawrence to the Cumberland and the Tennessee, where theland 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 thesons of Onontio go into the forest and become hunters and warriors withthe Hurons. It is easy for the man in the woods to shoot down the man inthe field."

  "You put it well, Tayoga," exclaimed Willet. "That's the kernel in thenut. The English settle upon the land, but the French take to the wildlife and would rather be rovers. When it comes to fighting it puts ourpeople at a great disadvantage. I know that some sort of a wicked brothis brewing at Quebec, but none of us can tell just when it will boilover."

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

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

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

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

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

  It was in David Willet's mind to say it was because the French hadadapted themselves more readily than the English to the ways of theIndian, but consideration for the feelings of Tayoga restrained him. Thewilderness ranger had an innate delicacy and to him Tayoga was always anobleman of the forest.

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

  "There's evidence pointing that way," said Willet, "and when I was inQuebec I saw some of the men from Northern France. I suppose we mostlythink 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 alittle of you, Robert."

  Young Lennox sighed and became very thoughtful. The mystery of hislineage puzzled and saddened him at times. It was a loss never to haveknown a father or a mother, and for his kindest and best friends to beof 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 andhopeful temperament.

  The three began to paddle with renewed vigor. Gasna Gaowo, the canoe inwhich they sat, was a noble example of Onondaga art. It was aboutsixteen 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 ribsalso were of white ash, strong and flexible, and fastened at each endunder the rim. The prow, where the ends of the bark came together, wasquite sharp, and the canoe, while very light and apparently frail, wasexceedingly strong, able to carry a weight of more than a thousandpounds. The Indians surpassed all other people in an art so useful in aland of many lakes and rivers and they lavished willing labor upon theircanoes, often decorating them with great beauty and taste.

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

  "Ganeagaono, the Keepers of the Eastern Gate, rule here," replied theyoung 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 theywere 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 havebuilt their capital of Quebec. Thence their power spread, and becoming agreat nation themselves they separated from the Wanedote. But manyenemies attacked them and they moved to the south, where they joined theOnondagas and Oneidas, and in time the League of the Hodenosaunee grewup. That, though, was far, far back, eight or ten of what the white mencall generations."

  "But it's interesting, tremendously so," said Robert, reflectively. "Ifind that the red races and the white don't differ much. The flux andmovement 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 theHodenosaunee is the chosen of Manitou. We, the Onundagaono, in yourlanguage Onondagas, Keepers of the Council, the Brand and the Wampum,know it. The power of the Long House cannot be broken. Onundagaono,Ganeogaono, Nundawaono


, Gweugwehono


, Onayotekaono


and the new nation that we made our brethren, Dusgaowehono


, will defend it forever."

  Robert glanced at him. Tayoga's nostrils expanded as he spoke, the chinwas thrown up again and his eyes flashed with a look of immeasurablepride. White youth understood red youth. The forest could be as truly akingdom as cities and fields, and within the limits of his horizonTayoga, 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 asany sovereign on his throne. He and his father and his father's fatherbefore him and others before them had heard the old men and the womenchant the prowess and invincibility of the Hodenosaunee, and of thatgreat league, the Onondagas, the Keepers of the Wampum, the Brand andthe 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 stockwas thought to count for much--and he was sure that the blood in hisveins was noble, but, white though he was, he did not feel anysuperiority to Tayoga. Instead he paid him respect where respect was duebecause, born to a great place in a great race, he was equal to it. Heunderstood, too, why the Hodenosaunee seemed immutable and eternal toits people, as ancient Rome had once seemed unshakable and everlastingto the Romans, and, understanding, he kept his peace.

  The lake, slender and long, now narrowed to a width of forty or fiftyyards and curved sharply toward the east. They slowed down with habitualcaution, until they could see what lay in front of them. Robert andTayoga rested their paddles, and Willet sent the canoe around the curve.The fresh reach of water was peaceful too, unruffled by the craft of anyenemy, and on either side the same lofty banks of solid green stretchedahead. Above and beyond the cliffs rose the distant peaks and ridges ofthe high mountains. The whole was majestic and magnificent beyondcomparison. Robert and Tayoga, their paddles still idle, breathed it inand felt that Manitou, who is the same as God, had lavished work uponthis 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 mightylittle venison."

  "It is so," said Tayoga, using his favorite words of assent. Neither henor Robert resumed the paddle, leaving the work for the rest of the wayto the hunter, who was fully equal to the task. His powerful arms sweptthe broad blade through the water, and the canoe shot forward at arenewed pace. Long practice and training had made him so skillful at thetask that his breath was not quickened by the exertion. It was apleasure to Robert to watch the ease and power with which he did somuch.

  The lake widened as they advanced, and through a change in the color ofthe sky the water here seemed silver rather than blue. A flock of wildducks swam near the edge and he saw two darting loons, but there was noother presence. Silence, beauty and majesty were everywhere, and he wascontent to go on, without speaking, infused with the spirit of thewilderness.

  The cove showed after a while, at first a mere slit that only a wary eyecould have seen, and then a narrow opening through which a small creekflowed into the lake. Willet, with swift and skillful strokes of thepaddle, turned the canoe into the stream and advanced some distance upit, until he stopped at a point where it broadened into an expanse likea 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 thewonderful wilderness of the North Woods.

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

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

  "That was wonderful, Tayoga," said Willet with admiration. "I wouldn'thave 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'staken 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 bankgently.

  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 thepresence of the deer at the water's edge farther up indicated a slopeyet easier there.

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

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

  "The Tionontati went into the west some years ago," said Tayoga, "andbut 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 mustnot use our rifles. Instead we must resort to your bow and arrows,Tayoga."

  "Perhaps _waano_

the bow

will serve us," said the young chief, withhis confident smile.

  "That being the case, then," said Willet, "I'll stay here and mind thecanoe, while the pair of you boys go and find the deer. You're youngerthan 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 nobraggart, 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 moreand carry more upon my shoulders than any other man in all thiswilderness."

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

  "Don't speak of it, Tayoga. That was just a little matter betweenfriends. 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, putit in a better place. Its weight was nothing to him, and Robert noticedwith admiration the play of the great arms and shoulders. Seen now uponthe land and standing at his full height Willet was a giant,proportioned perfectly, a titanic figure fitted by nature to cope withthe hardships and dangers of the wilderness.

  "I'm thinking stronger than ever that this is good deer country," hesaid. "It has all the looks of it, since they can find here the foodthey like, and it hasn't been ranged over for a long time by white manor red. Tayoga, you and Robert oughtn't to be long in finding the gamewe 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 bowand arrows."

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

  Tayoga said nothing, although he was secretly pleased with thecompliment, and took from the canoe a long slender package, wrappedcarefully in white, tanned deerskin, which he unrolled, disclosing thebow, _waano_.

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

  He also took from the canoe the quiver, _gadasha_, which was made ofcarefully dressed deerskin, elaborately decorated with the stainedquills of the porcupine. It was two feet in length and containedtwenty-five arrows, _gano_.

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

  Tayoga examined the sharp tips of the arrows, and, poising the quiverover his left shoulder, fastened it on his back, securing the lower endat his waist with the sinews of the deer, and the upper with the samekind of cord, which he carried around the neck and then under his leftarm. The ends of the arrows were thus convenient to his right hand, andwith one sweeping circular motion he could draw them from the quiver andfit them to the bowstring.

  The Iroquois had long since learned the use of the rifle and musket, buton occasion they still relied upon the bow, with which they had wontheir kingdom, the finest expanse of mountain and forest, lake andriver, ever ruled over by man. Tayoga, as he strung his bow and hunghis quiver, felt a great emotion, the spirit of his ancestors he wouldhave called it, descending upon him. _Waano_ and he fitted together andfor the time he cherished it more than his rifle, the weapon that thewhite man had brought from another world. The feel of the wood in hishand made him see visions of a vast green wilderness in which the Indianalone roamed and knew no equal.

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

  The Onondaga shook himself and laughed a little.

  "Of nothing," he replied. "No, that was wrong. I was dreaming of thedeer 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 fireon which we'll cook the best parts of him."

  Tayoga and Robert went together into the forest, the white youth takingwith him his rifle, which, however, he did not expect to use. It wasmerely a precaution, as the Hurons, Abenakis, Caughnawagas and othertribes in the north were beginning to stir and mutter under the Frenchinfluence. And for that reason, and because they did not wish to alarmpossible game, the two went on silent foot.

  No other human beings were present there, but the forest was filled withinhabitants, 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'sedge, gazed a moment and then dived from sight. A chipmunk cocked uphis ears, listened and scuttled away.

  But most of the population of the forest was in the trees. Squirrelschattering with anger at the invaders, or with curiosity about them, ranalong the boughs, their bushy tails curving over their backs. A hugewildcat crouched in a fork, swelled with anger, his eyes reddening andhis sharp claws thrusting forth as he looked at the two beings whom heinstinctively hated much and feared more. The leaves swarmed with birds,robins and wrens and catbirds and all the feathered tribe keeping up anincessant quivering and trilling, while a distant woodpecker drummedportentously on the trunk of an old oak. They too saw the passingyouths, but since no hand was raised to hurt them they sang, in theirway, as they worked and played.

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

  The forest was the friend of Tayoga and he knew it. He could name thetrees, the elm and the maple, and the spruce and the cedar and all theothers. He knew the qualities of their wood and bark and the uses forwhich every one was best fitted. He noticed particularly the greatmaples, so precious to the Iroquois, from which they took sap and madesugar, and which gave an occasion and name to one of their most sacredfestivals and dances. He also observed the trees from which the bestbows and arrows were made, and the red elms and butternut hickories, thebark of which served the Iroquois for canoes.

  When Tayoga passed through a forest it was not merely a journey, it wasalso an inspection. He had been trained from his baby frame, _gaoseha_,always to observe everything that met the human eye, and now he not onlyexamined the trees, but also the brooks and the little ravines and theswell 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 andall its marks.

  His questing eye alighted presently upon the delicate traces of hoofs,and, calling Robert's attention, the two examined them with the fullcare 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 thetraces 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 cantake 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'reto be the hunter, lead and I'll follow."

  The Onondaga slipped through the undergrowth, and Robert, a skillfulyoung woodsman also, came after with such care and lightness of footthat neither made a twig or leaf rustle. Tayoga always followed thetraces. The deer had nibbled tender young shoots, but he had notremained long in one place. The forest was such an abundant garden tohim that, fastidious as an epicure, he required the most delicate foodto 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 splendidfellow with head upraised, not in alarm, but to nuzzle some tender youngleaves.

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

  Robert nodded, and Tayoga slid silently among the bushes to secure anearer and better position for aim. The Indian admired the stag which,like himself, fitted into the forest. He would not have hunted him forsport, nor at any other time would he have shot him, but food was neededand Manitou had sent the deer for that purpose. He was not one to opposethe 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 bythe young chief himself, and the two feathers were curved in the rightmanner to secure the utmost degree of speed and accuracy. He fitted itto the string and drew the bow far back, almost to the head of theshaft. Now he was the hunter only and the spirit of hunting ancestorsfor many generations was poured into him. His eye followed the line ofcoming flight and he chose the exact spot on the sleek body beneathwhich the great heart lay.

  The stag, with his head upraised, still pulled at the tender top of abush, and the deceitful wind, which blew from him toward Tayoga, broughtno warning. Nor did the squirrel chattering in the tree or the birdsinging on the bough just over his head tell him that the hunter wasnear. Tayoga looked again down the arrow at the chosen place on thegleaming body of the deer, and with a sudden and powerful contraction ofthe muscles, bending the bow a little further, loosed the shaft.

  The arrow flew singing through the air as swift and deadly as a steeldart and was buried in the heart of the stag, which, leaping upward,fell, writhed convulsively a moment or two, and died. The young Onondagaregarded 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 youshot that another would not be needed."

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

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

  Then the two worked rapidly and skillfully with their great huntingknives, skinning and removing all the choicer portions of the deer, andbefore they finished they heard the pattering of light feet in thewoods, 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 sosoon that they're in the thickets."

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

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

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

  "The other ninety-nine go after death to _Hanegoategeh_, the land ofperpetual darkness, where they suffer in proportion to the crimes theycommitted on earth, but _Hawenneyu_, the Divine Being, takes pity onthem and gives them another chance. When they have suffered long enoughin _Hanegoategeh_ to be purified he calls them before him and looks intotheir 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 thebad the good shall prevail and the suffering soul is sent to_Hawenneyugeh_, the home of the just, where it suffers no more. But ifthe bad still outweighs the good then its chance is lost and it is sentto _Hanishaonogeh_, the home of the wicked, where it is condemned totorture forever."

  "A reasonable religion, Tayoga. Your _Hanegoategeh_ is like thepurgatory, in which the Catholic church believes. Your God like ours ismerciful, and the more I learn about your religion the more similar itseems to ours."

  "I think your God and our Manitou are the same, Lennox, we only see himthrough 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 Robertknew that he spoke with great pride. The young Onondaga did not believehis religion resembled the white man's but that the white man'sresembled his. Robert respected him though, and knowing the reasons forhis pride, said nothing in contradiction.

  "The whining wolf is hungry," said Tayoga, "and since the soul of awarrior 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, "buteven 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 asa man, he must yet bite and claw with beasts for his food. Now I thinkwe have all of the deer we wish."

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

  "They see that we are going," said Tayoga. "The wolf even without thesoul 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 fightalone, but the wolf, who is too small to face either, bands with hisbrothers into a league, even as the Hodenosaunee, and together theypull down the deer and the moose, and in the lands of the Ohio they dareto attack and slay the mighty bull buffalo."

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

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