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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Young Ranchers; Or, Fighting The Sioux - Chapter 8. Starcus
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The Young Ranchers; Or, Fighting The Sioux - Chapter 8. Starcus Post by :rockynate Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Sylvester Ellis Date :July 2011 Read :2948

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The Young Ranchers; Or, Fighting The Sioux - Chapter 8. Starcus

CHAPTER VIII. STARCUS

Warren Starr was terrified for the moment by the peril of his companion. While running toward him he saw the grizzly rise partly on his haunches to seize Tim, who was within his grasp, but at that instant the brute toppled over, and with one or two struggles was dead.

It was an exciting moment, but a singular discovery came to young Starr--the shot that slew the bear was fired neither by himself nor Tim!

Without waiting to investigate, he dashed to where his panting friend was looking down at the fallen monster, as if uncertain what to do.

"Gracious, Tim!" called Warren, as he came up, "that was the closest call you ever had."

"It's qu'ar," replied the other, "that after we had pumped about a ton of lead into him without hurting the spalpeen, he should dhrop down from a single shot."

"That's because it was aimed right."

"But ye had no bitter chance than meself, nor what ye also was given a few minutes ago."

"But it was not I, Tim, who fired the last shot."

"What are ye talking about?" demanded the other. "I had no chance to shoot me rifle, and who ilse could have done the same?"

"But I tell you I did not fire; I was about to do so, when someone else saved me the trouble; I am sure I couldn't have done any better than I did before."

"Thin who was the mon?"

The question naturally caused the couple to look around in quest of the unknown friend.

They saw him at the first glance.

"There he is! Look at him!" whispered Tim Brophy.

Less than a hundred yards away stood an Indian warrior, calmly watching them. He had mounted a bowlder, so that his figure was brought out in clear relief. He was in Indian costume, most of it being hidden by a heavy blanket gathered around the shoulders, but the leggings and moccasons showed beneath, and the head was ornamented with stained eagle-feathers. The noticeable fact about him, however, was that his black hair was short, and the feathers were fixed in a sort of band, which clasped the forehead. The rather pleasing face was fantastically daubed with paint, and he held a fine rifle in his right hand, the other being concealed under his blanket.

His action, or rather want of action, was striking. The bowlder which supported him was no more stationary than he. He gazed fixedly at the youths, but made no signs and uttered no word.

"Begorra, but he's a shtrange gintleman," muttered Tim. "I wonder if he's posin' for his picter."

"His firing of the gun proves that he is a friend," said Warren; "so we have nothing to fear from him."

"If that's the case why doesn't he come forward and interdooce himself? whisht now!"

What did the Irishman do but pucker up his mouth, whistle, and beckon to the Indian to approach. The latter, however, did not move a muscle.

"Helloa!" called Warren; "we thank you for your kindness; won't you come forward and join us?"

This appeal was as fruitless as the other.

"If the copper gintleman won't come to us I'm going to him."

It was just like Tim to start forward to carry out his intention, though a sense of delicacy restrained his companion from joining him. The Indian, however, nipped the little scheme in the bud.

The Irishman had taken only two or three steps, when the Sioux, as he evidently was, turned about, leaped lightly down from the bowlder, and vanished.

"Well, I'll be hanged!" exclaimed the disappointed Tim, stopping short; "ye may be a good rifle shot, but be the same token ye are not fond of selict company," and with a laugh he walked back to his friend, whose face was so grave as to attract the notice of the Irishman.

"What's the matter, Warren?"

"Do you know who that Indian is?"

"I niver have saan him before."

"Yes, you have, many a time; he's been at our house within the past few weeks."

"Who is he?"

"Starcus."

"Git out!"

"I'm not mistaken," insisted young Starr, compressing his lips and shaking his head. "He's painted and dressed like his people, but his short hair made me suspicious, and when he turned to jump down from the bowlder, he made a movement that fixed his identity beyond all doubt."

"Wal, ye're so sartin about it that I can't help belaving ye; but if it was Starcus, why did he act that way? Why didn't he spake, and why didn't he coom forward and shake hands wid us?"

"That's what troubles me; it wasn't like him. It makes me believe he has joined the hostiles."

"But if that is the case why did he interfere whin the grizzly was about to chaw me up?"

"His whole action was strange, but I explain it this way: He was prowling through this place, probably to help the bucks that are now on the warpath, when he heard our guns, made his way forward, and seeing the bear about to pounce upon you, he fired with the wish to save you. Your danger caused him to feel friendly toward us; for otherwise, instead of killing the bear he would have shot you and me."

"Maybe he fired at me instead of the bear," suggested Tim, "and it was a chance shot that saved meself."

"That cannot be, for he is too good a marksman to make such a miss. I have fired at a target with him and never saw a better shot than he. Then, too, when he found he missed, he could have turned his Winchester on us in turn and brought us both down."

"And ye think after his doing us that kindness, he became an inimy agin?"

"He has caught the craze that is setting his people wild, and though you didn't recognize him yesterday among that party of bucks near the house, I believe he was either there or was one of the horsemen that stampeded the cattle. He is with them body and soul. His last shot was given through impulse. Of course he knew us both, and acted from a generous motive. He may have stood there debating with himself whether to continue that friendship, when your advance scattered all his good resolutions to the winds. He has gone off to join the others, and when we meet again he will be our bitter foe, eager to serve us both as he served the grizzly. Let us not deceive ourselves about that."

"There's one thing that looks well," remarked Tim a moment later; "if Starcus is wid the ither spalpeens, they haven't found your fayther and mither, for they're not in this part of the counthry."

"That gives me relief," said Warren, with a glowing face; "the folks must be many miles away, and these people are off their track altogether. Father will waste no time, but push on. This snow is not deep enough to bother them, and they ought to be safely within Fort Meade by nightfall."

"But what about us?" asked Tim significantly.

"This isn't our right latitude. We must pull out as quickly as we can. Our ponies are fresh, and can travel as fast as any of the Indian ones. We haven't far to go to reach the open country, and then we'll head for the fort, unless we conclude to hunt for the folks before reaching there. In the meantime, Tim, I'm hungry enough to eat my shoes."

"I'm wid ye there."

"We shall have to wait here long enough to cook a steak from that bear. He seems to be in fine condition, and will give us a good meal."

"There!" laughed the Irishman; "I knowed I had forgot something. Your mither give me a good, big lunch for us both whin I was laving yesterday, and it is in the residence beyant, onless yer pony ate up the same whin we warn't watching him."

"Little fear of that," replied the pleased Warren. "It is hardly the sort of food that he fancies. Come on; let's have a good meal, and then we'll be off."

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