We both thought it was an accident, or some one trying his gun, till we heard the shouting and running. Then I jumped up, seized my gun, and sprang out to see what it was all about. I found Kateegoose equally on the qui vive. He was shoving his ramrod down to make sure his gun was loaded when you came up. What is it all about?"
"I don't believe that rascal Kateegoose. He's a greedy idler, something like La Certe, but by no means so harmless or good-natured. Moreover, I find it hard to believe that Okematan has turned traitor." "I agree with you," said Fergus.
"Except," remarked another, "when he stops to smoke what o' the stuffin' has been already shoved down." "Moreover," added the seaman, "I've noticed that Francois La Certe always keeps 'im company. He's a sympathetic sort o' man is Francois, fond o' helpin' his mates specially when they're eatin' an' smokin'." At this moment Kateegoose, having been called, came forward.
Look out, Slowfoot, and ask what has happened." Slowfoot finished the scraping of the kettle before obeying; then lifted the curtain that closed the opening of their tent, and peeped out. "It is Kateegoose loading his gun, I think." La Certe got up, with a sigh of regret at the necessity for exertion, and, lifting the curtain-door, stepped out. "What are they firing at, Kateegoose?"
"You hear the reports that have just been brought in?" said Dechamp. "Kateegoose hears," was the laconic answer. "Kateegoose is a Cree," continued Dechamp; "he knows the spirit that dwells in the hearts of his tribe. What does he think?" "The thoughts of the Indian are many and deep.
It chanced at this time that there was a "snake in the grass" not far off. This was no other than the bad Indian Kateegoose. Why some people are what we call naturally bad, like Kateegoose, while others are what we call naturally good, like Okematan, is a mystery the investigation of which we propose postponing to a more convenient season.
"Only that the horse of Okematan has been shot under him by some one, and that there is a would-be murderer in the camp." "Okematan! Has the traitor ventured to return?" exclaimed Kateegoose, with an expression of surprise that was very unusual in an Indian. "Ay, he has ventured," responded Dechamp, "and some one has ventured to fire at him with intent to kill. By good luck he was a bad shot.
He believed the Indian, and, returning to his tent, lay down again to finish the interrupted pipe. "Kateegoose was trying his gun to see if it was loaded," he said to his better half. "That's a lie," returned Slowfoot, with that straightforward simplicity of diction for which she was famous. "Indeed! What, then, was he doing, my Slowfoot?" "He was loading his gun not trying it." "Are you sure?"
The result was that Kateegoose made his escape. The Colonists were very indignant at the perpetration of this cowardly act, for it compromised their character for hospitality; and, if they could have laid hands on the savage at the time, it is not impossible that Lynch-law might have been applied to him.
The men hunted, fished under the ice, trapped, and sustained themselves and their families in life during the long, dreary winter; the only gain being that they became more or less expert at the Red-man's work and ways of life. Only two of the Indians remained with them to help them over their difficulties namely, Okematan and Kateegoose, with their respective squaws.