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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesDo And Dare: A Brave Boy's Fight For Fortune - Chapter 31. Jack Holden On The Indian Question
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Do And Dare: A Brave Boy's Fight For Fortune - Chapter 31. Jack Holden On The Indian Question Post by :shoki Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :1395

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Do And Dare: A Brave Boy's Fight For Fortune - Chapter 31. Jack Holden On The Indian Question


It is a terrible thing to see a man stretched out in death who but a minute before stood full of life and strength. Herbert gazed at the dead Indian with a strange sensation of pity and relief, and could hardly realize that, but for his interposition, it would have been the hunter, not the Indian, who would have lost his life.

The hunter was more used to such scenes, and his calmness was unruffled.

"That's the end of the dog!" he said, touching with his foot the dead body.

"What made him want to kill you?" asked Herbert.

"Revenge," answered Holden.

"For what? Had you injured him?"

"That's the way he looked at it. One day I caught the varmint stealin' my best hoss. He'd have got away with him, too, if I hadn't come home just as I did. I might have shot him--most men would--but I hate to take a man's life for stealin'; and I took another way. My whip was lyin' handy, and I took it and lashed the rascal over his bare back a dozen times, and then told him to dust, or I'd serve him worse. He left, but there was an ugly look in his eyes, and I knew well enough he'd try to get even."

"How long ago was this?"

"Most a year. It's a long time, but an Indian never forgets an injury or an insult, and I knew that he was only bidin' his time. So I always went armed, and kept a good lookout. It was only this mornin' that he caught me at a disadvantage. I'd been taking a walk, and left my gun at home. He was prowlin' round, and soon saw how things stood. He'd have killed me sure, if you hadn't come in the nick of time."

"I am glad I was near," said Herbert, "but it seems to me a terrible thing to shoot a man. I'm glad it wasn't I that killed him."

"Mebbe it was better for me, as he was my enemy," said Jack Holden. "It won't trouble my conscience a mite. I don't look upon an Indian as a man."

"Why not?"

"He's a snake in the grass--a poisonous serpent, that's what I call him," said Jack Holden.

Herbert shook his head. He couldn't assent to this.

"You feel different, no doubt. You're a tenderfoot. You ain't used to the ways of these reptiles. You haven't seen what I have," answered Holden.

"What have you seen?" asked Herbert, judging correctly that Holden referred to some special experience.

"I'll tell you. You see, I'm an old settler in this Western country. I've traveled pretty much all over the region beyond the Rockies, and I've seen a good deal of the red men. I know their ways as well as any man. Well, I was trampin' once in Montany, when, one afternoon, I and my pard--he was prospectin'--came to a clearin', and there we saw a sight that made us all feel sick. It was the smokin' ruins of a log cabin, which them devils had set on fire. But that wasn't what I referred to. Alongside there lay six dead bodies--the man, his wife, two boys, somewhere near your age, a little girl, of maybe ten, and a baby--all butchered by them savages, layin'--in the hunter's vernacular--in their gore. It was easy to see how they'd killed the baby, by his broken skull. They had seized the poor thing by the feet, and swung him against the side of the house, dashin' out his brains."

Herbert shuddered, and felt sick, as the picture of the ruined home and the wretched family rose before his imagination.

"It was Indians that did it, of course," proceeded Holden. "They're born savage, and such things come natural to them."

"Are there no good Indians?" asked the boy.

"There may be," answered Jack Holden, doubtfully, "though I haven't seen many. They're as scarce as plums in a boardin' house puddin', I reckon."

I present this as Jack Holden's view, not mine. He had the prejudices of the frontier, and frontiersmen are severe judges of their Indian neighbors. They usually look at but one side of the picture, and are not apt to take into consideration the wrongs which the Indians have undeniably received. There is another extreme, however, and the sentimentalists who deplore Indian wrongs, and represent them as a brave, suffering and oppressed people, are quite as far away from a just view of the Indian question.

"What's your name, youngster?" asked Holden, with the curiosity natural under the circumstances.

"Herbert Carr."

"Do you live nigh here?"

Herbert indicated, as well as he could, the location of his home.

"I know--you live with Mr. Falkland. Are you his son?"

"No; Mr. Falkland has gone away."

"You're not living there alone, be you?"

"No; I came out here with a young man--Mr. Melville. He bought the cottage of Mr. Falkland, who was obliged to go East."

"You don't say so. Why, we're neighbors. I live three miles from here."

"Did you know Mr. Falkland?"

"Yes; we used to see each other now and then. He was a good fellow, but mighty queer. What's the use of settin' down and paintin' pictures? What's the good of it all?"

"Don't you admire pictures, Mr. Holden?" asked Herbert.

"That's that you called me? I didn't quite catch on to it."

"Mr. Holden. Isn't that your name?"

"Don't call me mister. I'm plain Jack Holden. Call me Jack."

"I will if you prefer it," said Herbert, dubiously.

"Of course I do. We don't go much on style in the woods. Won't you come home with me, and take a look at my cabin? I ain't used to company, but we can sit down and have a social smoke together, and then I'll manage to find something to eat."

"Thank you, Mr. Holden--I mean, Jack--but I must be getting home; Mr. Melville will be feeling anxious, for, as it is, I shall be late."

"Is Mr. Melville, as you call him, any way kin to you?"

"No; he is my friend and employer."

"Young man?"

"Yes; he is about twenty-five."

"How long have you two been out here?"

"Not much over a week."

"Why isn't Melville with you this morning?"

"He is in delicate health--consumption--and he gets tired sooner than I do."

"I must come over and see you, I reckon."

"I hope you will. We get lonely sometimes. If you would like to borrow something to read, Mr. Melville has plenty of books."

"Read!" repeated Jack. "No, thank you. I don't care much for books. A newspaper, now, is different. A man likes to know what's going on in the world; but I leave books to ministers, schoolmasters, and the like."

"If you don't read, how do you fill up your time, Jack?"

"My pipe's better than any book, lad. I'm goin' to set down and have a smoke now. Wish I had an extra pipe for you."

"Thank you," said Herbert, politely, "but I don't smoke."

"Don't smoke! How old are you?"


"Sixteen years old, and don't smoke! Why, where was you raised?"

"In the East," answered Herbert, smiling.

"Why, I smoked before I was three foot high, I was goin' to say. I couldn't get along without srnokin'."

"Nor I without reading."

"Well, folks will have their different tastes, I allow. I reckon I'll be goin' back."

"Shan't you bury him?" asked Herbert, with a glance at the dead Indian.

"No; he wouldn't have buried me."

"But you won't leave him here? If you'll bury him, I'll help you."

"Not now, boy. Since you make a point of it, I'll come round to-morrow, and dig a hole to put him in. I'll take the liberty of carryin' home his shootin' iron. He won't need it where he's gone."

The two parted in a friendly manner, and Herbert turned his face homeward, grave and thoughtful.

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