The Project Gutenberg EBook of Dick Onslow, by W.H.G. Kingston This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Dick Onslow Among the Redskins Author: W.H.G. Kingston Illustrator: George Soper Release Date: May 15, 2007 [EBook #21459] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK DICK ONSLOW ***
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WHG Kingston "Dick Onslow"
My friends the Raggets—Our proposed migration—Journey commenced—Attack of the Indians—A shot through my leg—Horrible anticipations—Hide in a bush—Climb a tree —My thoughts in my concealment—Listen in expectation of an attack—Starving in the midst of plenty—Some one approaches—I prepare to fire. In few countries can more exciting adventures be met with than in Mexico and the southern and western portions of North America; in consequence of the constantly disturbed state of the country, the savage disposition of the Red Indians, and the numbers of wild animals, buffaloes, bears, wolves, panthers, jaguars, not to speak of alligators, rattlesnakes, and a few other creatures of like gentle nature. My old school-fellow, Dick Onslow, has just come back from those regions; and among numerous incidents by flood and field sufficient to make a timid man’s hair stand on end for the rest of his days, he recounted to me the following:— After spending some time among those ill-conditioned cut-throat fellows, the Mexicans, I
returned to the States. Having run over all the settled parts, of which I got a tolerable bird’seye view, I took it into my head that I should like to see something of real backwoodsman’s life. Soon getting beyond railways, I pushed right through the State of Missouri till I took up my abode on the very outskirts of civilisation, in a log-house, with a rough honest settler, Laban Ragget by name. He had a wife and several daughters and small children, and five tall sons, Simri, Joab, Othni, Elihu, and Obed, besides two sisters of his wife’s and a brother of his own, Edom Ragget by name. I never met a finer set of people, both men and women. It was a pleasure to see the lads walk up to a forest, and a wonder to watch how the tall trees went down like corn stalks before the blows of their gleaming axes. They had no idea I was a gentleman by birth. They thought I was the son of a blacksmith, and they liked me the better for it. Some months passed away; I had learned to use my axe as well as any of them, and a fine large clearing had been made, when the newspapers, of which we occasionally had one, told us all about the wonderful gold-diggings in California. At last we talked of little else as we sat round the big fire in the stone chimney during the evenings of winter. Neighbours dropped in and talked over the matter also. There was no doubt money was to be made, and quickly too, by men with strong arms and iron constitutions. We all agreed that if any men were fit for the work, we were. I was the weakest of the party, do ye see? (Dick stands five feet ten in his shoes, and is as broad-shouldered as a dray man.) Just then, an oldish man with only two stout sons and a small family drove into the forest with a light wagon and a strong team of horses, to look about him, as he said, for a location. He came to our house, and Laban and he had a long talk. “Well, stranger,” said Laban, “I guess you couldn’t do better than take my farm, and give me your team and three hundred dollars; I’ve a mind to go further westward.” The offer was too good to be refused. The bargain was struck, and in two days, several other settlers having got rid of their farms, a large party of us were on our way to cross the Rocky Mountains for California. The women, children, and stuff were in Laban’s two wagons. Other settlers had their wagons also. The older men rode; I, with the younger, walked, with our rifles at our backs, and our axes and knives in our belts. I had, besides, a trusty revolver, which had often stood me in good stead. We were not over-delicate when we started, and we soon got accustomed to the hard life we had to lead, till camping-out became a real pleasure rather than an inconvenience. We had skin tents for the older men, and plenty of provisions, and as we kept along the banks of the rivers, we had abundance of grass and water for the horses. At last we had to leave the forks of the Missouri river, and to follow a track across the desolate Nebraska country, over which the wild Pawnees, Dacotahs, Omahas, and many other tribes of red men rove in considerable numbers. We little feared them, however, and thought much more of the herds of wild buffaloes we expected soon to have the pleasure both of shooting and eating. We had encamped one night close to a wood near Little Bear Creek, which runs into the Nebraska river. The following morning broke with wet and foggy weather. It would have been pleasant to have remained in camp, but the season was advancing, and it was necessary to push on. All the other families had packed up and were on the move; Laban’s, for a wonder, was the last. The women and children were already seated in the lighter wagon, and Obed Ragget and I were lifting the last load into the other, and looking round to see that nothing was left behind, when our ears were saluted with the wildest and most unearthly shrieks and shouts, and a shower of arrows came whistling about our ears. “Shove on! shove on!” we shouted to Simri and Joab, who were at the horses’ heads; “never mind the tent.” They lashed the horses with their whips. The animals plunged forward with terror and pain, for all of them were more or less wounded. We were sweeping round close to the
edge of the wood, and for a moment lost sight of the rest of the party. Then, in another instant, I saw them again surrounded by Indian warriors, with plumes of feathers, uplifted hatchets, and red paint, looking very terrible. The women were standing up in the