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About The illustrated west shore. (Portland, Or.) 1891-1891 | View Entire Issue (April 11, 1891)
THE ILLUSTRATED WEST SHORE.
WHERE TOMMY PUT THE CARTRIDGE.
" Somehow I don't feel just right about leaving the children alone," said
mother, " but I suppose it can't be helped."
" Oh, there's nothing to harm them," said father, reassuringly. Jane
I was Jane, nine years old, and not especially a coward i yet in my heart
I knew that I was just a little bit afraid to stay alone with my little three-year-old
brother all day in our prairie home while father and mother went to town,
but I said nothing.
" There is always the possibility of drunken Indians coming around, you
know," said mother, uneasily.
" That's all the more reason for not leaving the place alone," retorted
father. " I tell you Jane isn't afraid ; she can stand off a whole regiment of
In the face of this tribute to my courage I could not confess that I was
afraid ; so mother kissed us a reluctant goodbye and went out to the wagon.
" Guess I'll take the rifle along," said father, coining back at the Inst
minute; "I may get sight of an antelope, and hello! how is this? The
cartridge box empty I There were two cartridges left in it yesterday."
" Tommy had the box yesterday,1' called mother from the wagon.
" Great Crcsar ! What will that kid be at next ? " growled father. " Tom,
where are my cartridges? "
But Tommy was already down on his little, fat knees in a corner, tugging
away to get a cartridge out of a hollow in the end of a corncob.
" How did it get in there?" demanded father.
" Me put it in ; me p'ay shoot Injuns," said Tommy.
" Where is the other cartridge? Hurry up now, my Indian fighter j I
must be off."
But here Tommy looked blank ; evidently his memory was at fault as to
what he had done with the other cartridge.
" Well, I can't wait all day," said father. " You make him hunt up that
cartridge, Jane, or it may get into the lire and blow the house up."
With that father went away, and Tommy and I instituted a systematic
search for the missing cartridge. But in vain we investigated every nook and
cranny we could think of; the cartridge was not forthcoming. Tommy
admitted that he had put it somewhere, but could not remember where. At
List I relinquished the search and went out to feed the chickens.
By that time the wagon was out of sight over the " divide," and a renewed
sense of loneliness and responsibility settled down upon me. It was all very
well for father to assert that I was equal to a whole regiment of reservation
Indians, but I suspected that he only said that to put me on my metal. He
surely had not forgotten how a drunken Indian, known as " Flat-nose Jack,"
had visited a neighboring ranch only a year previously, and on being denied
admittance to the house had set fire to the hay stack and carried off a lot ol ,
All day, as 1 went about my work or play, I kept a watchful eye on the
trail that wound away over the ridge, in the direction of the reservation, ten
miles distant. How slowly the hours dragged by, until, at last, the sun lay
straight in at the southern door and touched the noon mark on the clean floor,
" Now the sun will go faster," I said, cheerfully, to Tommy,
" Why? "demanded that enquiring young gentleman.
" Because it's going down hill now instead of up," I answered, in accord
ance with an astronomical theory of my own construction.
It was probably two hours later that I was suddenly startled by the sound
of galloping hoofs close at hand, and I had barely time to spring up and fling
my arms around Tommy when the open door was darkened by the burly
form of an Indian. It was " Flat-nose Jack ! " I had never seen him before,
but at once recogniied him by the deformity in which his name originated.
He was known all over the territory as tlie bully and desperado of the Iril.
My heart sank in terror. His eyes were blood-shot and rolled horribly as he
glared at us, and something was evidently wrong with his legs they kept
giving way beneath him as he clung to the door and peered into the cabin.
" Where man? Where woman? " he grunted.
I did not attempt to answer, but Tommy blurted out, in his thrill, little
treble : " Git out, ug'gy Injun i me shoot 'ou !
The ruffian laughed loudly, and realiiing that we were alone, staggered
Into the cabin and came toward us, with clutches extended. The cabin con
sisted only of one principal room and a small bedroom at one end. In my
terror I darted into the bedroom, dragging Tommy with me, and slammed
the door shut, only to rememlier that the sole fastening an iron bolt was
on the outside of the door and of no use to me whatever. Father had put
the bolt on that side because at times we had to keep belated wayfarers over
night, and as the country was full of rough characters, and he never could tell
what sort of persons he might be entertaining, he always lodged them in the
bedroom and shot the bolt for safety. A wise precaution, truly, but in the
present emergency I was not in a frame of mind to -appreciate the wisdom
The Indian pushed the door on a little way, and putting his head in,
grinned at us horribly and made hideous faces, before which I trembled and
shrank j but Tommy stood still and stared at the monster dauntlessly.
" Now me shut door i me burn you up," said the wretch, when tired of
his facial contortions, and stepping back he closed the door and attempted to
bolt it. But something seemed to be wrong with the bolt. I heard him
fumbling with it for a minute or two, then apparently he struck it with some
hard substance, probably the horn handle of the big knife he carried in his
belt, and at the second blow there came an explosion tliat almost deafened
me and shook the plaster in a shower from the chinks of the log walls. I
could not imagine what had happened, but thought the house was coming
down, and screamed with all the power of my lungs. In a moment, however,
1 caught the sound of oaths and groans of pain outside, and ceased my own
lamentations to listen in wonder, Soon 1 heard the outside door go shut with
a vindictive bang, and peeping through a crevice between the logs I saw the
Indian running toward his pony, his hands, all blackened and bleeding, hang
ing limply at his sides. He mounted with evident difficulty and gallo)ed away.
When I tried to open the bedroom door I found it so broken and slut
turd that some of the boards fell off at the first movement. The door frame
at one side was torn off and the plaster was blown out of chinks in every
direction. In vain I tried to conjecture what had wrought the havoc, and, at
length, perplexed and awe struck, I locked the outside door, and taking the
now mute Tommy in my anus, sat down to await the return of my parents.
It was near nightfall when they at last came, and, after hearing my story,
father had to light a lamp to investigate the damages and mystery. He was
a long time about it, and seemed greatly perplexed until, at length, he found
a piece of the broken bolt-socket and picked an exploded ciutridge shell
"Aha! The lost cartridge, I guess," he exclaimed. "Tommy must
have put it in the bolt-socket, and when that drunken fool tried to drive the
boll in it exploded, of course, and nearly blew his hands off; and served him
right, too, for frightening children. Hurrah for our young Indian fighter I "
" Shoot, bang ! " shouted Tommy, suddenly realizing that he had done
something commendable, though not quite clear as to what it was.
' Carrie III. akk Mhri;an.
Nell was a little girl of eight years, and the believed most devoutly in
the efficacy of prayer, and in praying aliout all the simple things of every day
life. She was learning to bake cakes and each lime she put one in the oven
she would wrinkle her little forehead and say, very earnestly : 11 Now, Lord
God, please make thai cake come up." Well, the cakes always " came up"
light as a thistle, but, alas ! in two minutes after they were taken from the
oven, they sunk as if to hide themselves, to the bottom of the wns. This grieved
and perplexed the little girl i but her faith was strong, and at List a happy idea
came to her. Her mother in an adjoining room heard her exclaim, audibly
and with utmost solemnity and satisfaction, as she set a cake in the oven :
" Lord God, please make that cake come up I and please, dear Lord, when it
comes up, make it stay up ! "
Nita, who had been used to a warm and comfortable cittern home, was
taken to the wild west to live. The first winter was cold, and at their little,
poorly built house was let on ttiltt high above the ground, the wind poured
to strongly through the crackt in the floor Out Sua wat krirt in her high
chair most of the time. One day, when the wind was fiercer tlian usual, and
the carpet wat rising and falling in regular twellt with every gust, Nita'l
mother heard a little shriek of terror, and running into the tilting room, found
the little lady in her high chair, with her eyes fixed u,xn the rarjiet in a ludi
crous expression ol mingled fright, awe and anmicment, " 0, mamma I
mamma ! " she cried, with a sol) of exhaustion and dUgusl i " vat carpet It