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Racing For Life On The Prairie

Racing For Life On The Prairie image
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In the liot nionth of Ju'y, 186-, we Htürted on horscbaok, trapping. Everyth ing passed verv weli od that day. The seooud clay we comnienced looking for game, which was by no mcans scarce. The sun liad disappeared b. low tho horizon, when we tbought it expedient to look out for Bome good resting-plnce. We rode lazily through the prairie till we arrived at a suitable place. Wosoon eomoieuced our operations. I had taken our small tent-poles and other utenfils off our hordes, whilo Henderán was busy cleaning a gpace for driving thcm uto mother earth. Our work wfiiit on gaily, he whistling "Yankee Doodle,?' aud I einging it. He had driven the eecond pole in the ground when he raised bis head, and was looking in a noi th-wosterly direction, I ventured to look in his face, and oh ! I nt'ver can forget that look. He was as sti ff as a reed, standing with bis eyee like glass, scanning the vast prairie. His face was as white as tha snow. "Harry," euid he, "the prairie la on 6re." "What ! How do you know ?" eaid I. "Do you not see tbe Fire King, with his tongue lashing up the blades oi grass ?" and he poioted to a red spot, which "n closer observanou proved to be the flamee, swceping everything before it. "Now, then, quick, for God's sake, or we shall nevcr be able to gain s spot where we can stand without feeling its claw on us." And we did corumence in rigbt good earnest to get clear of tho t;tll grass, and for my part, I don't tliink I ever made as quick a move in all my lifo as I did on that occasion. Y the time you eould count twenty I had everything on our horsec, and ns we sprang into our saddles, we had very little hope of escape; but still we eould do no better than tty. "Hold on !" said Her.dereon. "We had better take a good look at the monster - but oh ! look, Harry where it bas alrcady reached ; it wilt surely overtake us. Quick ! our lives are at risk; take a southeasterly direction, and tve may, pethaps, save oursclvcs." Neither of us needed commaiids, and wc startcd ofl' on as brisk a canter as the ciicumsiaDces woukl nllow us. Yes, of cour6e, reader, you must kcow those circumstaDces. In the first place, the grass was as bigh as our heads, aud then in some nlacee t was so thick as to require some treugth to get through it on a good run ut our horses had been captured wben hcy were wild. Wc had tamed them with our own hands, and often and often lad they traveled through just such irairies with, herds of wild horses, so liat they "knew the ropes," and therein ay our hope. But to resume : The lames had inereased in grandeur, revolving íd the beaveos, and aa it was usl dark, lcoked the very picture of ;old ; but away we rode, having oue eyo un tlie fire and tbe other ahead trying to piek our way. Oo, on came the flames, roaring and jellowinglike so many cannon, and the smoke rulled up to the heavens in curlng masses. "Press on I" said Hcnderson. "Keep a little more to the southeast if you can." "Wbat is that about amile aud a half ahead of us V said I. "It looks like low grass, and if we can get into it bofore tbe flames reach us we are saved, becnuse our horsen can get through it without muoh diffioulty." i'feel the heat at my baok as the wind drives it aloDg ; the flames are about a mile behind us. I listen to the shrill stream of the wild birds, whose notes dio away, while the awful sound of the roaring flames gives us spirit to urge our horses, On, on we go ; the heat is pressing on U9. "Keep up, don't lag, for tnercy sako, or we aro lost ! We re within a quarter of a milo oí it ; f we eau get there we aro safe !" Tbe heat was now so great we could bardly endure t. I smell something about me buroing; my jacket is scorehing. Hush ! what ia Ibat ahead of us ? Two Indians wbo are imploring for help with tho ory of "Me sev, oh sov Camanohce!' "Hold ou, Harry ; we will bsvo tbcm, if wo can." "Gome quick, one of you, on my horse," said I, as the Iodian quickly leaped on bis back bebiod me. Henderson adopted tbe same plan, and off we went agaïn. We were near a plaoe of safety, an oasis in the prairie. The fire is n#w witbin a fw hundrcd ynrds of ua ; they say they can't eudure the heat, "Now, thcn, one hundred yards, and wo are safe," ories Heuderaon. "Oh, t!e ir ! my oluthes are on fire. Qniok, Harry ! We are safe, safe !'' and as our horses struck the edge of it with their hoofs the Indiana leaped and ran two feet to our horses' one for about two hutidred yards, while at tho same time ttiey wero tearing tho;r clothos froni tbeir backs. We were now standing in the middlc of the oasis, looking at the mighty heavciis, and - oh ! what a sublime sight ! I have seen vessels at sea, and I have seen houses on fire, but they never could be cotnpared with a prairie oa fire - the flamea darting like snakes with their fiery tongues toward the skies, whilo tlie heavens ihemeelvee seemed to be made of gold from the broad glare of the flamea, and the smoke rolling in dense curling wreaths upward, whieh seemed more liko a battle-field, and the wild birds flying to and fro through tho air utteriDg the most piercing screams, and some of them having all the feathers completely burned from their bodies, whi Ie others would fly over the flames and look the very picture of gold, and thcn as suddenly drop down in the fire to perish. But see the Indiana hugging and kiesinfjf o, and pointing to the demon from wbicb they had just at this moment escaped, and insisting on our partaking of the hospitalities of the camp. We thought it a favorable opportunity to cultivate a littlo good will among some of the tribes, aud consented, not without a little fear as to the result. After a ride ot a day we arrived at their encampment, and found the Indiana to be Camanches. We were now afraid of being reoogDÏzed as being of a late party of three, which they had attempted to capture. We were taken into a hut, and after the squaws had spread some buffulo meat and corn-oake, with snme fire-water, we were motioned, with five or six other red skins, to partake of it. We did so with a pretty good nppetito. Bcds having been made for us, we retired, giving orders to the squaws to wake us up early. In the raorning by four o'clock we took some breakfast with them, after which wo saddled our horses snd men just about starting when the old cliief heard of us, and Feut word by an Indian that he would like to see u?, We went into his tent, and after smoking tho pipe of peace with him, he give us to uuderstaod that we would ahvays be fiiends. Afler shaking hands we parted, to pur suo our journey homeward, where we arrived a few days afterward, with plenty of game, safe and sound.


Old News
Michigan Argus