Page images

escape, so that, in general, it is the second-rate horses that are taken.

Preparations were now made for a hunt of the kind. The pack-horses were taken into the woods and firmly tied to trees, 3 lest, in a rush of the wild horses, they should break away with

them. Twenty-five men were then sent under the command of a lieutenant, to steal along the edge of the valley within the strip of wood that skirted the hills. They were to station them

selves about fifty yards apart, within the edge of the woods, and 16 not advance or show themselves until the horses dashed in that direction.

Twenty-five men were sent across the valley, to steal in like manner along the river bank that bordered the opposite

side, and to station themselves among the trees. A third party, 15 of about the same number, was to form a line, stretching across

the lower part of the valley, so as to connect the two wings. Beatte and our other half-breed, Antoine, together with the everofficious Tonish, were to make a circuit through the woods so

as to get to the upper part of the valley, in the rear of the 20 horses, and to drive them forward into the kind of sack that

we had formed, while the two wings should join behind them and make a complete circle.

The flanking parties were quietly extending themselves, out of sight, on each side of the valley, and the rest were stretching 25 themselves, like the links of a chain across it, when the wild

horses gave signs that they scented an enemy,-snuffing the air, snorting, and looking about.

At length they pranced off slowly toward the river, and disappeared behind a green bank. Here, had the rules of the 36 chase been observed, they would have been quietly checked and

turned back by the advance of a hunter from among the trees; unluckily, however, we had our wildfire Jack-o'-lantern little Frenchman to deal with.

Instead of keeping quietly up the right side of the valley, to 35 get above the horses, the moment he saw them move toward the

[ocr errors]

river, he broke out of the thicket of woods, and dashed furiously across the plain in pursuit of them, being mounted on one of the led horses belonging to the Count. This put an end to all

system. The half-breeds and half a score of rangers joined in 5 the chase.

Away they all went over the green bank; in a moment or two the wild horses reappeared, and came thundering down the valley, with Frenchman, half-breeds, and rangers galloping and

yelling like mad behind them. It was in vain that the line 10 drawn across the valley attempted to check and turn back the

fugitives. They were too hotly pressed by their pursuers; in their panic they dashed through the line, and clattered down the plain.

The whole troop joined in the headlong chase, some of the 15 rangers without hats or caps, their hair flying about their ears,

others with handkerchiefs tied round their heads. The buffaloes, who had been calmly ruminating among the herbage, heaved up their huge forms, gazed for a moment with astonishment at

the tempest that came scouring down the meadow, then turned 20 and took to heavy-rolling. flight. They were soon overtaken;

the mixed throng were pressed together by the sides of the valley, and away they went, pell-mell, hurry-scurry, wild buffalo, wild horse, wild huntsman, with clang and clatter, and whoop and

halloo, that made the forests ring. 25 At length the buffaloes turned into a green brake on the river

bank, while the horses dashed up a narrow defile of the hills, with their pursuers close at their heels. Beatte passed several of them, having fixed his eye upon a fine Pawnee horse, that had

his ears slit, and saddle marks upon his back. He pressed him 30 gallantly, but lost him in the woods.

Among the wild horses was a fine black mare. In scrambling up the defile, she tripped and fell. A young ranger sprang from his horse, and seized her by the mane and muzzle. Another

ranger dismounted, and came to his assistance. The mare strug35 gled fiercely, kicking and biting, and striking with her fore feet,

but a noose was slipped over her head and her struggles were in vain. It was some time, however, before she gave over rearing and plunging, and lashing out with her feet on every side. The

two rangers then led her along the valley by two long lariats, $ which enabled them to keep at a sufficient distance on each side

to be out of the reach of her hoofs, and whenever she struck out in one direction, she was jerked in the other. In this way her spirit was gradually subdued.

As to little Tonish, who had marred the whole scene by his 10 rashness, he had been more successful than he deserved, having

managed to catch a beautiful cream-colored colt, about seven months old, which had not strength to keep up with its companions. The little Frenchman was beside himself with joy.

It was amusing to see him with his prize. The colt would rear 15 and kick, and struggle to get free, when Tonish would take

him about the neck, wrestle with him, jump on his back, and cut as many antics as a monkey with a kitten.

Nothing surprised me more, however, than to see how soon these poor animals, thus taken from the unbounded freedom of 20 the prairie, yielded to the control of man. In the course of

two or three days the mare and colt went with the led horses, and became quite docile.


Notes and Questions Historical: In 1832 Irving made “A Tour on the Prairies” of what was at that time the Far West beyond the Mississippi, where, he says, “there is neither to be seen the log house of the white man, nor the wigwam of the Indian.” The above selection is taken from his account of a month's stay “beyond the outposts of human habitation."

Find the Red River on some map

in your geography. What picture do the first three

paragraphs give you! Tell how "ringing the wild

horse” is accomplished.

What preparations did Irving's

party make for the hunt! Tell the story of the hunt and

the capture. Who broke the rules of the


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Words and Phrases for Study PRONUNCIATION:

rag'-ged (răg'-ěd) lăr'-1-åt di-min'-ū-tive

doc'-ile (dos'-il) dî-ver'-sï-fied (var)

fu'-gi-tives (fü'-ji-tīvs) ru'-mi-nāt'-ing (roo') în-hăb'-i-tănt ré-pos'-ing (põz)

of-fi'-cious (o-fĩsh'-us) lieu-těn'-ånt (la) de-file her'-bage (ür’-båj) rid'-gěs (rịj'-ěs) må-neu'-võr (noo) gül'-lies (iz) cir-cım'-fer-ěnce (sēr) grāz'-ing

prai'-rie (prà' rỉ) scent (sènt) cir'-cuit (sûr'kít) rāng'-er (jēr) rē'-ap-pear' (pēr) Paw-nee (pô-nē') ăn”-ties whoop (hoop) marred (märd)


păn'-ic—a great and sudden fright; terror. prime-first in excellence; of highest quality. brake-a thicket; a dense growth of shrubs.




"council of war"
6. beside himself with joy
"fringed with trees”
"toilsome march

‘swept down"
"autumnal flowers'
"happily arranged"
"finely diversified"
“gentleman farmer'

'grand hunting maneuver"
so well mounted
bif to windward'
obscent a hunter")
so this magic circle"
so bottom"
86 diminutive size"
Os ruminating”
38 sich herbage”

“pack-horses" “half-breed” "ever-officious" 'flanking parties" pranced off", "wildfire Jack-o'-lantern' "led horses' 'rangers' “thundering down the valley" "hotly pressed” "scouring down the meadow's "heavy-rolling flight" pressed him gallantly"marred the whole scene' "unbounded freedom” "docile" "inhabitant of the prairie" "headlong chase” "dashed furiously”

[ocr errors]



Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was a native of Maine and a graduate of Bowdoin (bū’d 'n) College, in the same class with Hawthorne. He became a professor in Bowdoin College and later et Harvard College. He was gentle and kind and a lover of children, for whom he wrote with simplicity and grace.


I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.


I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?


Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.


Notes and Questions What became of the arrow? Of Where was the song found ! the song?

Point out lines that rhyme. Where the

found ! What is Longfellow's purpose in When





« PreviousContinue »