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Chapter XVII The Grand Canyon
Passing from a short canyon, the boats emerged into a valley with flat shores for some distance from the river. On the right was a wide, side canyon, which might afford a passage up into the hills. Half a mile lower down, there were trees and signs of cultivation; and a light smoke rose among them. At this, the first sign of human life they had seen since they took to the boats, all hands paddled rapidly. They were approaching the shore when Leaping Horse said to Harry: "No go close. Stop in river and see, perhaps bad Indians. Leaping Horse not like smoke."
Harry called to the other canoe, and they bore out into the stream again. The chief stood up in the boat, and after gazing at the shore silently for a moment said:"Village burnt. Burnt little time ago, post still burning." As he resumed his seat, Harry stood up in turn.
"That is so, Chief. There have only been five or six huts; whether Indian or white, one can't tell now."
Just at this moment, an Indian appeared on the bank. As his eye fell on the boats, he started. A moment later, he raised a war yell.
"Navaho," the chief said. "Navaho war party come down, kill people and burn village. Must row hard."
The yell had been answered from the wood, and in two or three minutes as many score of Indians appeared on the banks. They shouted to the boats to come to shore, and as no attention was paid, some of them at once opened fire. The river was about a quarter of a mile wide, and, although the shots splashed round them, the boats were not long in reaching the farther bank, but not unharmed, for Ben had dropped his paddle and fallen back in the boat.
"Is he badly hurt?" Harry asked anxiously as the canoes drew alongside each other near the bank, and Sam turned round to look at his comrade.
"He has finished his journey," Sam said in a hoarse voice. "He has gone down, and a better mate and a truer heart I never met. The ball has hit him in the middle of the forehead. It were to be, I guess, for it could only have been a chance shot at that distance."
Exclamations of sorrow and fury broke from the others, and for a few minutes there was no thought of the Indians, whose bullets were still falling in the water, for the most part short of the boats. A sharp tap on the side of Harry's canoe, followed by a jet of water, roused them.
"We mustn't stop here," Harry said, as Hunting Dog plugged the hole with a piece of dried meat, "or poor Ben won't be the only one."
"Let us have a shot first," Jerry said. "Young Tom, do you take a shot with Plumb-center. It is about four hundred and fifty yards as near as I can reckon, and she will carry pretty true that distance."
"We will give them a shot all round," Harry said, as he took up his rifle.
Six shots were discharged almost at the same moment. One of the Indians was seen to fall, the rest bounded away to a short distance from the bank. Then Hunting Dog, at a word from the chief, stepped into the other canoe. Keeping close under the bank, they paddled down. The Indians had ceased firing and had disappeared at a run.
"What are they up to now, Chief?"
"Going down to mouth of canyon, river sure to be narrow; get there before us."
"Wait, Jerry," Harry shouted to the other boat, which was some twenty yards ahead. "The chief thinks they have gone to cut us off at the head of the canyon, which is likely enough. I don't suppose it is fifty yards wide there, and they will riddle us if we try to get through in daylight. We had better stop and have a meal and talk it over."
The boats were rowed ashore, and the men landed and proceeded to light a fire as unconcernedly as if no danger threatened them. Ben's death had cast a heavy gloom over them, and but few words were spoken until the meal was cooked and eaten.
"It is a doggoned bad business," Jerry said. "I don't say at night as we mayn't get past them without being hit, but to go rushing into one of those canyons in the dark would be as bad as standing their fire, if not wuss. The question is-could we leave the boats and strike across?"
"We could not strike across this side anyhow," Harry said. "There are no settlements west of the Colorado. We know nothing of the country, and it is a hundred-to-one we should all die of thirst even if we could carry enough grub to last us. If we land at all, it must be on the other side, and then we could not reckon on striking a settlement short of two hundred miles, and two hundred miles across a country like this would be almost certain death."
"As the Navahos must have ridden down, Harry, there must be water. I reckon they came down that canyon opposite."
"Navaho on track in morning," the chief said quietly. "When they see we not go down river, look for boat, find where we land, and take up trail. Canyon very plain road. Some go up there straight, take all our scalps."
No one spoke for a moment or two. What the Seneca said was so evident to them that it was useless to argue.
"Well, Chief, what do you advise yourself?" Harry asked at length.
"Not possible go on foot, Harry. Country all rocks and canyons; cannot get through, cannot get water. Trouble with Navahos too. Only chance get down in boat tonight. Keep close under this bank; perhaps Indians not see us, night dark."
"Do you think they can cross over to this side?"
"Yes, got canoe. Two canoes in village, Leaping Horse saw them on bank. When it gets dark, cross over."
"We will get a start of them," Harry said. "Directly it is dark, we can be off too. The shore is everywhere higher than our heads as we sit in the canoes, and we can paddle in the shadow without being seen by them on the other side, while they won't venture to cross till it is pitch dark. As the stream runs something like three miles an hour, I reckon that they are hardly likely to catch us. As for the rapids, they don't often begin until you are some little distance in. At any rate, we shall not have to go far, for the Redskins will not dare to enter the canyon, so we can tie up till morning as soon as we are a short distance in. We have got to run the gauntlet of their fire, but, after all, that is better than taking our chances by leaving the boats. If we lie down when we get near them, they may not see us at all; but if they do, a very few strokes will send us past them. At any rate, there seems less risk in that plan than in any other."
The others agreed.
"Now, boys, let us dig a grave," he went on as soon as the point was settled. "It is a sort of clay here, and we can manage it, and it is not likely we shall find any place when we are once in the canyon where we can do it." They had neither picks nor shovels with them, for their mining tools had been left at the spot where they were at work, but with their axes and knives they dug a shallow grave, laid Ben's body in it, covered it up, and then rolled a number of boulders over it.
Ben's death affected Tom greatly. They had lived together and gone through many perils and risks for nearly a year, and none had shown more unflagging good humor throughout than the man who had been killed. That the boats might upset and all might perish together was a thought that had often occurred to him as they made their way down the river, but that one should be cut off like this had never once been contemplated by him. Their lives from the hour they met on the Big Wind River had seemed bound up together, and this sudden loss of one of the party affected him greatly. The others went about their work silently and sadly, but they had been so accustomed to see life lost in sudden frays and in one or other of the many dangers that miners and hunters are exposed to that it did not affect them to the same extent as it did Tom.
Except two or three men who remained on watch on the opposite bank, though carefully keeping out of rifle range, they saw no signs of the Navahos during the day. As soon as it became so dark that they were sure their movements could not be seen from the other side, they silently took their places in the boats and pushed off into the current. For a quarter of an hour they lay in the canoes, then at a signal from Harry, knelt up, took their paddles, and began to row very quietly and cautiously, the necessity for dropping their paddles noiselessly into the water and for avoiding any splashing having been impressed on all before starting.
"There is no occasion for haste," Harry said. "Long and gentle strokes of the paddle will take us down as fast as we need go. If those fellows do cross over, as I expect they will, they will find it difficult to travel over the rocks in the dark as fast as we are going now, and there is no fear whatever of their catching us if we go on steadily."
After an hour's rowing, they could make out a dark mass rising like a wall in front of them, and Harry passed the word back to the other canoe, which was just behind them, that they should now cease paddling, only giving a stroke occasionally to keep the head of the canoe straight and to prevent the boat from drifting out from under the shelter of the bank. In the stillness of the night, they could hear a low roaring and knew that it was caused by a rapid in the canyon ahead. Higher and higher rose the wall of rock, blotting out the stars in front of them till the darkness seemed to spread halfway over the sky.
They could see that the boat was passing the shore more rapidly as the river accelerated its course before rushing into the gorge. Suddenly, there was a shout on the right, so close that Tom was startled, then there was a rifle shot, and a moment later a wild outburst of yells and a dozen other shots. At the first shout, the paddles dipped into the water, and at racing speed the boats shot along. Eight or ten more rifle shots were fired, each farther behind them.
"Anyone hurt?" Harry asked.
There was a general negative.
"I don't believe they really saw us," Harry said. "The first fellow may have caught sight of us, but I expect the others fired merely at random. Now let us row in and fasten up, for judging from that roaring there must be a big rapid close ahead."
The boats were soon fastened up against the rocks, and the chief stepped ashore, saying: "Leaping Horse and Hunting Dog will watch. Navahos may come down here. Don't think they will be brave enough to enter canyon, too dark to see. Still, better watch."
"Just as you like, Chief," Harry said, "but I have no belief that they will come down here in the dark; it would be as much as they would dare do in broad daylight. Besides, these rocks are steepish climbing anyway, and I should not like myself to try to get over them, when it is so dark that I can't see my own hand, except by putting it up between my eyes and the stars."
"If it was not for that," Jerry said, "I would crawl along to the mouth and see if I couldn't get a shot at them varmint on the other side."
"You would not find them there, Jerry. You may be sure that when they saw us go through they would know it was of no use waiting there any longer. They would flatter themselves that they had hit some of us, and even if they hadn't, it would not seem to matter a cent to them, as the evil spirit of the canyon would surely swallow us up."
"Well, they have been wrong in their first supposition, Uncle," Tom said, "and I hope they will be equally wrong in the second."
"I hope so, Tom. Now, we may as well go to sleep. As soon as there is any light, we must explore as far as we can go, for, by the noise ahead, it must be either a fall or a desperately bad rapid."
When daylight broke, the whites found Hunting Dog sitting with his rifle across his knees on a rock above them.
"Where is the chief?" Harry asked him.
"Leaping Horse went up the rocks to see if Navahos have gone."
"Very well. Tell him when he comes back we have gone down to have a look at the rapid. Tom, you may as well stay here. There is plenty of driftwood among those rocks, and we will breakfast before we start down. I reckon we shall not have much time for anything of that sort after we are once off."
Tom was by no means sorry to be saved a heavy climb. He collected some wood and broke it up into suitable pieces, but at the suggestion of Hunting Dog waited for the chief's return before lighting it. The chief came down in a few minutes.
"Navahos all gone," he said briefly.
"Then I can light a fire, Chief?"
Leaping Horse nodded, and Tom took out the tightly fitting tin box in which he kept his matches. Each of the party carried a box, and to secure against the possibility of the matches being injured by the water in case of a capsize, the boxes were kept in deer's bladders tightly tied at the mouth. The fire was just alight when the others returned.
"It is better ahead than we expected," Harry said. "The noise was caused by the echo from the smooth faces of the rocks. It is lucky we hauled in here last night, for these rocks end fifty yards on, and as far as we can see down, the water washes the foot of the wall on both sides. We were able to climb up from them on to a narrow ledge parallel with the water and went on to the next turn, but there was no change in the character of the river. So we shall make a fair start anyway."
More wood was put on the fire, and in a quarter of an hour the kettle was boiling and slices of meat cooked. Half an hour later, they took their places in the canoes and started. The canyon was similar to the one they had last passed; the walls were steep and high, but with irregular shelves running along them. Above these were steep slopes running up to the foot of smooth perpendicular cliffs of limestone. The stream was very rapid, and they calculated that in the first half-hour they must have run six miles. Here the walls receded to a distance, and ledges of rock and hills of considerable heights intervened between the river and the cliffs. They checked the pace of their canoes just as they reached this opening, for a deep roar told of danger ahead. Fortunately, there were rocks where they were able to disembark, and a short way below they found that a natural dam extended across the river.
"There has been an eruption of trap here," Harry said, looking at the black rock on either side. "There has been a fissure, I suppose, and the lava was squeezed up through it. You see, the river has cut a path for itself some hundreds of feet deep. It must have taken countless ages, Tom, to have done the work."
Over this dam, the water flowed swiftly and smoothly and then shot down in a fall six feet high. Below, for a distance of two or three hundred yards, was a furious rapid, the water running among black rocks. With considerable difficulty, they made a portage of the boats and stores to the lower end of the rapid. This transit occupied several hours, and they then proceeded on their way. Five more miles were passed; several times the boats were brought to the bank in order that falls ahead might be examined. These proved to be not too high to shoot, and the boats paddled over them. When they had first taken to the river, they would never have dreamt of shooting such falls, but they had now become so expert in the management of the boats and so confident in their buoyancy that the dangers which would then have appalled them were now faced without uneasiness.
They now came to a long rapid, presenting so many dangers that they deemed it advisable to let down the boats by lines. Again embarking, they found that the wall of rocks closed in, and they entered a narrow gorge through which the river ran with great swiftness, touching the walls on each side. Great care was needed to prevent the boats being dashed against the rock, but they succeeded in keeping them fairly in the middle of the stream. After traveling four miles through this gorge, it opened somewhat, and on one side was a strip of sand.
"We will land there," Harry said. "It looks to me like granite ahead, and if it is we are in for bad times, sure."
The boats were soon pulled up, and they proceeded to examine the cliffs below. Hitherto, the danger had been in almost exact proportion to the hardness of the rock, and as they were entering a far harder rock than they had before encountered, greater difficulties than those they had surmounted were to be expected.
They could not see a long distance down, but what they saw was enough to justify their worst anticipations. The canyon was narrower than any they had traversed, and the current extremely swift. There seemed but few broken rocks in the channel, but on either side, the walls jutted out in sharp angles far into the river, with crags and pinnacles.
"Waal, it is of no use looking at it," Jerry said after a pause. "It is certain we can't get along the sides, so there is nothing to do but to go straight at it; and the sooner it is over the better."
Accordingly, they returned to the boats and soon darted at the speed of an arrow into the race. Bad as it was at starting, it speedily became worse: ledges, pinnacles, and towers of rock rose above the surface of the stream, breaking it into falls and whirlpools. Every moment it seemed to Tom that the boat must inevitably be dashed to pieces against one of these obstructions, for the light boats were whirled about like a feather on the torrent, and the paddlers could do but little to guide their course. The very strength of the torrent, however, saved them from destruction, the whirl from the rocks sweeping the boat's head aside when within a few feet of them and driving it past the danger before they had time to realize that they had escaped wreck. Half an hour of this, and a side canyon came in. Down this, a vast quantity of boulders had been swept, forming a dam across the river, but they managed to paddle into an eddy at the side and to make a portage of the boats to the water below the dam, over which there was a fall of from thirty to forty feet high. Three more similar dams were met with. Over one, the canoes were carried, but on the others there was a break in the boulder wall, and they were able to shoot the falls.
After three days of incessant labor, they heard, soon after starting from their last halting place, a roar even louder and more menacing than they had yet experienced. Cautiously, they got as close as possible to the side, and paddling against the stream, were able to effect a landing just above the rapid. On examining it, they found that it was nearly half a mile long, and in this distance the water made a fall of some eighty feet, the stream being broken everywhere with ledges and jagged rocks, among which the waves lashed themselves into a white foam. It seemed madness to attempt such a descent, and they agreed that, at any rate, they would halt for the day. The rocks through which the canyon ran were fully a thousand feet high, but they decided that, great as the labor might be, it would be better to make a portage, if possible, rather than descend the cataract.
"There is a gulch here running up on to the hill," Tom said. "Hunting Dog and I will start at once and see if it is possible to get up it, and if so how far it is to a place where we can get down again."
Harry assented; Leaping Horse, without a word, joined the explorers, and they set off up the gulch. It was found that the ravine was steep, but not too steep to climb. When they were nearly at the top, Hunting Dog pointed to the hillside above them, and they saw a bighorn standing at the edge of the rock. The three fired their rifles simultaneously, and the wild sheep made a spring into the air and then came tumbling down the side of the ravine. As fresh meat was beginning to run short, this was a stroke of good fortune, and after reloading their guns they proceeded up the ravine until they reached the crest of the hill. The soil was disintegrated granite, and tufts of short grass grew here and there. After walking about a mile parallel to the course of the river, they found that the ground descended again, and without much difficulty made their way down until they reached the foot of a little valley; following this, they were soon standing by the side of the river. Above, its surface was as closely studded with rocks as was the upper cataract; below, there was another fall that looked impracticable, except that it seemed possible to pass along on the rocks by the side. It was getting dark by the time they rejoined their comrades.
"Your report is not a very cheerful one," Harry said, "but at any rate, there seems nothing else to be done than to make the portage. The meat you have got for us will restock our larder, and as it is up there, we shan't have the trouble of carrying it over."
The next day was a laborious one. One by one, the canoes were carried over, but the operation took them from daybreak till dark. The next morning, another journey was made to bring over the rugs and stores, and they were able, in addition to these, to carry down the carcass of the sheep, after first skinning it and cutting off the head with its great horns. Nothing was done for the rest of the day beyond trying whether another portage could be made. This was found to be impracticable, and there was nothing for them but to attempt the descent. They breakfasted as soon as day broke, carried the boats down over the boulder dam with which the rapids commenced, and put them into the water. For some little distance, they were able to let them down by ropes, then the rocks at the foot of the cliffs came to an end. Fortunately, the seven lariats furnished them with a considerable length of line, and in addition to these the two Indians had on their way down plaited a considerable length of rope with thongs cut from the skins of the animals they had killed.
The total available amount of rope was now divided into two lengths, the ends being fastened to each canoe. One of the boats with its crew on board was lowered to a point where the men were able to get a foothold on a ledge. As soon as they had done so, the other boat dropped down to them, and the ropes were played out until they were in turn enabled to get a footing on a similar ledge or jutting rock, sometimes so narrow that but one man was able to stand. So, alternately, the boats were let down. Sometimes, when no foothold could be obtained on the rock wall, the pinnacles and ledges in the stream were utilized. All the work had to be done by gesture, for the thunder of the waters was so tremendous that the loudest shout could not be heard a few yards away. Hour passed after hour. Their progress was extremely slow, as each step had to be closely considered and carried out with the greatest care.
At last, a terrible accident happened. Harry, Leaping Horse, and Tom were on a ledge. Below them was a fall of three feet, and in the foaming stream below it rose several jagged rocks. Jerry's canoe was got safely down the fall, but in spite of the efforts of the rowers, was carried against the outer side of one of these rocks. They made a great effort to turn the boat's head into the eddy behind it, but, as the line touched the rock, its sharp edge severed the rope like a knife, and the boat shot away down the rapid. Those on the ledge watched it with breathless anxiety. Two or three dangers were safely passed, then to their horror they saw the head of the canoe rise suddenly as it ran up a sunken ledge just under the water. An instant later, the stern swept round, bringing her broadside on to the stream, and she at once capsized.
"Quick!" Harry exclaimed, "we must go to their rescue. Keep close to the wall, Chief, till we see signs of them. It is safest close in."
In an instant they were in their places, and as they released the canoe she shot in a moment over the fall. For a short distance they kept her close to the side, but a projecting ledge threw the current sharply outwards, and the canoe shot out into the full force of the rapid. The chief knelt up in the bow, paddle in hand, keeping a vigilant eye for rocks and ledges ahead, and often, with a sharp stroke of the paddle, seconded by the effort of Harry in the stern, sweeping her aside just when Tom thought her destruction inevitable. Now she went headlong down a fall, then was caught by an eddy and was whirled round and round three or four times before the efforts of the paddlers could take her beyond its influence. Suddenly, a cry came to their ears. Just as they approached a rocky ledge some thirty feet long and showing a saw-like edge a foot above the water, the chief gave a shout and struck his paddle into the water.
"Behind the rock, Tom, behind the rock!" Harry exclaimed as he swept the stern round. Tom paddled with all his might, and the canoe headed up stream. Quickly as the movement was done, the boat was some twelve yards below the rock as she came round with her nose just in the lower edge of the eddy behind it, while from either side the current closed in on her. Straining every nerve, the three paddlers worked as for life. At first Tom thought that the glancing waters would sweep her down, but inch by inch they gained and drove the boat forward from the grasp of the current into the back eddy, until suddenly, as if released from a vice, she sprang forward. Never in his life had Tom exerted himself so greatly. His eyes were fixed on the rock in front of him, where Hunting Dog was clinging with one hand, while with the other he supported Jerry's head above water. He gave a shout of joy as the chief swept the head of the canoe round just as it touched the rock and laid her broadside to it.
"Stick your paddle between two points of the rock, Tom," Harry shouted, "while the chief and I get them in. Sit well over on the other side of the boat."
With considerable difficulty Jerry, who was insensible, was lifted into the boat. As soon as he was laid down, Hunting Dog made his way hand over hand on the gunwale until close to the stern, where he swung himself into the boat without difficulty.
"Have you seen Sam?" Harry asked.
The young Indian shook his head. "Sam one side of the boat," he said, "Jerry and Hunting Dog the other. Boat went down that chute between those rocks above. Only just room for it. Jerry was knocked off by rock. Hunting Dog was near the stern, there was room for him. He caught Jerry's hunting shirt, but could not hold on to boat. When came down here, made jump at corner of rock. Could not hold on, but current swept him into eddy. Then swam here and held on and kept calling. Knew his brothers would come down soon."
"Here is a spare paddle," Harry said, as he pulled one out from below the network, "there is not a moment to lose. Keep your eyes open, Chief." Again the boat moved down the stream. With four paddles going, the steersman had somewhat more control over her, but as she flew down the seething water, glanced past rocks and sprang over falls, Tom expected her to capsize every moment. At last, he saw below them a stretch of quiet water, and two or three minutes later they were floating upon it, and as if by a common impulse, all ceased rowing.
"Thanks be to God for having preserved us," Harry said reverently. "We are half-full of water; another five minutes of that work, and it would have been all over with us. Do you see any signs of the canoe, Chief?"
The chief pointed to a ledge of rock extending out into the stream. "Canoe there," he said. They paddled across to it. After what the young Indian had said, they had no hopes of finding Sam with it, but Harry gave a deep sigh as he stepped out on to the ledge.
"Another gone," he said. "How many of us will get through this place alive? Let us carry Jerry ashore." There was a patch of sand swept up by the eddy below the rock, and here Jerry was taken out and laid down. He moaned as they lifted him.
"Easy with him," Harry said. "Steady with that arm. I think he has a shoulder broken, as well as this knock on the head that has stunned him."
As soon as he was laid down, Harry cut open his shirt on the shoulder. "Broken," he said shortly. "Now, Chief, I know that you are a good hand at this sort of thing. How had this better be bandaged?"
"Want something soft first."
Tom ran to the canoe, brought out the little canvas sack in which he carried his spare flannel shirt, and brought it to the chief. The latter tore off a piece of stuff and rolled it into a wad. "Want two pieces of wood," he said, holding his hands about a foot apart to show the length he required. Harry fetched a spare paddle and split a strip off each side of the blade. The chief nodded as he took them. "Good," he said. He tore off two more strips of flannel and wrapped them round the splints, then, with Harry's aid, he placed the shoulder in its natural position, laid the wad of flannel on the top of it, and over this, put the two splints. The whole was kept in its place by flannel bandages, and the arm was fastened firmly across the body so that it could not be moved. Then the little keg of brandy was brought out of the canoe, a spoonful poured into the pannikin, with half as much water, and allowed to trickle between Jerry's lips, while a wad of wet flannel was placed on his head.
"There is nothing more we can do for him at present," Harry said. "Now we will right the other boat and get all the things out to dry."
Three or four pounds of flour were found to be completely soaked with water, but the main store was safe, as the bag was sewn up in bearskin. This was only opened occasionally to take out two or three days' supply and then carefully closed again. On landing, Hunting Dog had at once started in search of driftwood, and by this time a fire was blazing. A piece of bear's fat was placed in the frying pan, and the wetted flour was at once fried into thin cakes, which were tough and tasteless; but the supply was too precious to allow of an ounce being wasted. Some slices of the flesh of the bighorn were cooked.
"What is my white brother going to do?" the chief asked Harry.
"There is nothing to do that I can see, Chief, but to keep on pegging away. We agreed that it would be almost impossible to find our way over these barren mountains. That is not to be thought of, now that one of our number cannot walk. There is no choice left, we have got to go on."
"Leaping Horse understand that," the chief said. "He meant would you take both canoes? One is big enough to take five."
"Quite big enough, Chief, but it would be deeper in the water, and the heavier it is the harder it will bump against any rock it meets; the lighter they are the better. You see, this other canoe, which I dare say struck a dozen times on its way down, shows no sign of damage except the two rents in the skin that we can mend in a few minutes. Another thing is, two boats are absolutely necessary for this work of letting down by ropes, of which we may expect plenty more. If we had only one, we should be obliged to run every rapid. The only extra trouble that it will give us is at the portages. I think we had better stay here for two or three days, so as to give Jerry a chance of coming round. No doubt we could carry him over the portages just as we can carry the boats, but after such a knock on the head as he has had, it is best that he should be kept quiet for a bit. If his skull is not cracked, he won't be long in getting round. He is as hard as nails, and will pull round in the tenth of the time it would take a man in the towns to get over such a knock. It is a pity the halt is not in a better place. There is not a shadow of a chance of finding game among these crags and bare rocks."
From time to time, fresh water was applied to the wad of flannel round Jerry's head.
"Is there any chance, do you think, of finding poor Sam's body?"
The chief shook his head. "No shores where it could be washed up, rocks tear it to pieces; or if it get in an eddy, might be there for weeks. No see Sam any more."
The fire was kept blazing all night, and they took it by turns to sit beside Jerry and to pour occasionally a little brandy and water between his lips. As the men were moving about preparing breakfast the next morning, Jerry suddenly opened his eyes. He looked at Tom, who was sitting beside him.
"Time to get up?" he asked. "Why did you not wake me?" And he made an effort to move. Tom put his hand on him.
"Lie still, Jerry. You have had a knock on the head, but you are all right now."
The miner lay quiet. His eyes wandered confusedly over the figures of the others, who had, when they heard his voice, gathered round him.
"What in thunder is the matter with me?" he asked. What is this thing on my head? What is the matter with my arm? I don't seem able to move it."
"It is the knock you have had, Jerry," Harry said cheerfully. "You have got a bump upon your head half as big as a coconut, and you have damaged your shoulder. You have got a wet flannel on your head, and the chief has bandaged your arm. I expect your head will be all right in a day or two, but I reckon you won't be able to use your arm for a bit."
Jerry lay quiet without speaking for a few minutes, then he said: "Oh, I remember now; we were capsized. I had hold of the canoe, and I remember seeing a rock just ahead. I suppose I knocked against it."
"That was it, mate. Hunting Dog let go his hold and caught you and managed to get into an eddy and cling to the rocks till we came down and took you on board."
Jerry held out his hand to the Indian. "Thankee," he said. "I owe you one, Hunting Dog. If I ever get the chance, you can reckon on me sure, whatever it is. But where is Sam? Why ain't he here?"
"Sam has gone under, mate," Harry replied. "That chute you went down was only just wide enough for the boat to go through, and, no doubt, he was knocked off it at the same time as you were; but as the Indian was on your side, he saw nothing of Sam. I reckon he sank at once, just as you would have done if Hunting Dog hadn't been behind you."
Jerry made no reply, but as he lay still with his eyes closed, some big tears made their way through the lids and rolled down his bronzed face. The others thought it best to leave him by himself and continued their preparations for breakfast.