We washed the torn flesh with water, and father poured on something from a bottle that made the old fellow squirm, but he sensed that we were helping him and he offered no resistance. "Well, Nolla, when we were done with our surgical work, you just ought to have seen that beaver's gratitude shining from his round eyes. "When he had recovered sufficiently to start for home, father swam beside him.
After we camped that night Carson said to the boys, "Now we have had a pretty good variety of meat this winter, but we haven't had any antelope, but we are in the greatest country for antelope in the west now. Can't one of you boys kill one tomorrow for supper? But I am sorry for Jim and Will for Jim can't get a Beaver's tail off of it, and there won't be any bear's foot for Will to eat."
For a time there was much chopping of ice and driving of stakes, and then all was quiet again. By and by one of our Beaver's children began to feel hungry, and as his father and mother had not come home he decided to go out to the wood-pile and get something to eat. So he took a header from his bed into the water, and swam down the angle.
"Would there be any harm if I went down to the bank of the river and gave the long yell?" inquired Forrest, as he halted in the doorway. "Get to bed," urged the old drover. "I'll want you in the morning. We'll close a trade, the first thing, on fifteen hundred of those Womack twos. That'll give you a herd, and you can keep an eye over Joel's cattle until the Beaver's reached."
When his fish is seized he makes a bee line under the ice for the nearest place where he can breathe and eat. Sometimes this lands him, out of breath, in the beaver's tunnel; and the beaver must sit upstairs in his own house, nursing his wrath, while Keeonekh eats fish in his hallway; for there is not room for both at once in the tunnel, and a fight there or under the ice is out of the question.
Their tails, we knew, were very good to eat in fact, quite a delicacy but we could not afford to kill one of them merely for the sake of eating his tail; and the other parts of the beaver's flesh are by no means palatable. Besides, we expected to find enough of game without that, as in every part, where the ground was soft, we saw the tracks of deer and other animals.
The Boy wondered where the rest of the pond-people were, and would have liked to consult Jabe about it; but he remembered the keenness of the beaver's ears, and held his tongue securely. It seemed to him probably that they were still down in the pond, working on the houses, the brush pile, or the dam. Presently one more was accounted for.
Harry Beaver had the misfortune to stutter, and in his eagerness to make himself understood he would support himself, stork-like, on one leg, and pump the other up and down with frantic jerks. Mr. Beaver's services were invaluable in such cases as this when gossip was to be repeated, for his stuttering compelled him to leave just enough unsaid to make his news the more startling.
But more important to the warrior than all besides was his manitou, or the symbol of his familiar spirit, some fantastic object represented in a dream, or selected according to his peculiar taste; a bird's head, it might have been, a beaver's tooth, or the knot of a tree; whatever, it was, the warrior would as little have thought of going to battle without arms, as without it.
Injun, waitin' on the ice, sees the sliver move, an' knows Mr. Beaver's gone in. He claps the stake down agin, in place of the sliver. An' then, of course, there's nawthin' left fer Mr. Beaver to do but drown. He drowns jest at the place where he come in an' couldn't git out agin. That seems to knock him out, like, an' he jest gives up right there.