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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 157

But Peter was too delicate to keep up, and there came a day when he could go no farther. The red men consulted for a few moments, then all of them stood apart but one, who fitted an arrow to his bow. The child's eyes grew big with fear, and Aaron tore at his bonds, but uselessly, and shouted that he would take the victim's place, but no one understood his speech, and in another moment Peter lay dead on the earth, with an arrow in his heart. Aaron gave one cry of hate and despair, and he, too, sank unconscious. On coming to himself he found that he was in a hut of boughs, attended by an old Indian, who told him in rude English that he was recovering from an illness of several weeks' duration, and that it was the purpose of his tribe to adopt him. When the lad tried to protest he found to his amazement that he could not utter a sound, and he learned from the Indian that the fever had taken away his tongue. In the dulness and weakness of his state he submitted to be clothed in Indian dress, smeared with a juice that browned his skin, and greeted by his brother's slayers as one of themselves. When he looked into a pool he found that he had, to all intents, become an Indian. In time he became partly reconciled to this change, for he did not know and could not ask where the white settlements lay; his appearance and his inability to speak would prevent his recognition by his friends, the red men were not unkind to him, and every boy likes a free and out-door life. They taught him to shoot with bow and arrow, but they kept him back if a white settlement was to be plundered.

Three years had elapsed, and Aaron, grown tall and strong, was a good hunter who stood in favor with the tribe. They had roamed back to the neighborhood of Woodstock, when, at a council, Aaron overheard a plot to fall on the village where his parents lived. He begged, by signs, to be allowed to go with them, and, believing that he could now be trusted, they offered no objection. Stoic as he had grown to be, he could not repress a tear as he saw his old home and thought of the peril that it stood in. If only he could give an alarm! The Indians retired into the forest to cook their food where the smoke could not be seen, while Aaron lingered at the edge of the wood and prayed for opportunity. He was not disappointed. Two girls came up through the perfumed dusk, driving cows from the pasture, and as they drew near, Aaron, pretending not to see them, crawled out of the bush with his weapons, and made a show of stealthily examining the town. The girls came almost upon him and screamed, while he dashed into the wood in affected surprise and regained the camp. The Indians had heard and seen nothing. The girls would surely give the alarm in town.


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