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Heroines of the Rocky Mountains - Page 2

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Rocky MountainsA low moan directed her eyes to a clump of bushes some fifty feet above her, and there she caught sight of a limp arm hanging among the stunted foliage. Climbing to the spot she found her husband breathing but unconscious. He was shockingly bruised, and although no bones had been broken, the purple current trickling slowly from his mouth showed that some internal organ had been injured. While there is life there is hope. If he could be placed in a comfortable position he might still revive and live. Feeling in his breast pocket she found a leather flask filled with whisky with which she bathed his face after pouring a large draught down his throat. In a few moments he revived sufficiently to comprehend his situation.

 

"Don't leave me, Jane," whispered the suffering man, "I shan't keep you long." It was unnecessary to prefer such a request to a woman who had gone through such perils to save one whom, she loved dearer than life. "I'll bring you out safe and sound, Jack," returned she, "or die right here with you."

 

While racking her brain for means to remove him fifty feet lower to the ledge from which she had first spied him, a welcome sight met her eye. It was the axe and the coil of rope which had fallen from the wagon during its descent, and now lay within easy reach. Passing the rope several times around his body so as to form a sling she cut a stout bush, and trimming it, made a stake which she firmly fastened into a crevice, and with, an exertion of strength, such as her loving and resolute heart could have alone inspired her to put forth, she extricated him from his position, and laying the ends of the rope over the stake gently lowered him to the ledge, and gathering moss made a pillow for his bleeding head. Then descending to the spot where the carcasses of the oxen lay she quickly flayed one, and cutting off a large piece of flesh she ransacked the wreck of the wagon and found a blanket and a pot. Returning to her husband she kindled a fire, and made broth with some water which she found in the hollow of a rock.

 

Gathering moss and lichens she made a comfortable couch upon the rock, and gently stretched her groaning patient upon it, covering him with the blanket for the mountain air was chill even in that August afternoon. The wounded man's breathing grew more regular, the bloody ooze no longer flowed from his white lips, but his frame was still racked by agonizing pains.

 

The hours sped away as the devoted wife bent over him; the height of the mountains in that region materially shortens the day to such as are in the valleys, but though the sun sets early behind the western summits twilight lingers long after his departure. When the orb of day had disappeared, Mrs. H. still viewed with wonder, not unmixed with fear, the savage grandeur of the mountains which lifted their heads still glittering in the passing light; and gazing into the profound below she watched the shades as they deepened to blackness.

 

The ledge on which the forlorn pair lay was barely four feet wide and less than ten feet long. There, on the face of that precipice, one hundred miles from the nearest settlement, all through the lonely watches of the night, the strong-hearted wife, with tear-dimmed eyes, hung over the sufferer. Many a silent prayer in the weary hours of that moonless night did she send up to the Father of mercies. Many a plan for bringing succor or for alleviating pain on the morrow did she devise.

 

Will-power is the most potent factor in giving a satisfactory solution of the problem of vitality. Just as the gray light was shimmering in the eastern sky the wounded man moaned as if he wished to speak. His wife understood that language of pain and weakness, and placed her ear to his lips. "I won't die, Jane," he said scarcely above a whisper. "You shan't die, Jack," was the reply. A great hope dawned like a sun upon her as those four magic syllables were uttered.

 

He fell into a doze, and when he woke the sun was up. "Can you stay here all alone for a few hours," inquired Mrs. Hinman, after feeding her patient, "I am going to see if I can fetch some one to help us out of this." "Go," he answered. Placing the flask and broth within reach of her husband, and kissing him, she sprang up the acclivity as though she had wings, reached the trail and sped along it southward. Fifteen miles would bring her to the spot where the two trails met: here she hoped to meet some wayfaring train of emigrants, or some party of hunters coursing through the defiles of the mountains.

 

 

 

WagonSooner than she expected, after reaching the fork, her wish was gratified. In less than half an hour six hunters came up with her, and, hearing her story, three of them volunteered to go and bring her husband to their cabin, which stood half a mile away from the trail. A horse was furnished to Mrs. Hinman, and the three hunters and she rode rapidly to the scene of the disaster.

 

Skipping down the declivity like chamois, and helping their brave companion, who was now quite fatigued with her exertion, they reached the rocky shelf. The mountain air and the delicious consciousness that he would live, coupled with implicit confidence in the success of his wife's errand, had acted like a charm on the vigorous organization of the wounded man, and he begged that he might be immediately removed.

 

He was accordingly carried carefully to the trail, and placed astride of one of the horses in front of one of the hunters. After a slow march of four hours, he was safely stowed in the cabin of the hunters, where, in a few weeks, he entirely recovered from his injuries.

 

It might be readily supposed after such a grave experience of the dangers of mountain life, that our heroine and her husband would have been inclined to return to their old home on the sunny prairies of Illinois. On the contrary, they strongly desired to continue the prosecution of their Oregon enterprise, and were only prevented from carrying it out by the lack of a team and the necessary utensils, etc.

 

Hunter's Camp Scene,

Hunter's Camp Scene

 

The hunters, learning their wishes, returned to the scene of the mishap, and scoured the side of the mountain in search of the articles which had been thrown from the wagon in its descent. They succeeded in recovering uninjured a large number of articles, including a few which still remained in the wrecked vehicle. Then clubbing together, they made up a purse and bought two pair of oxen and a wagon from a passing train of emigrants, who also generously contributed articles for the use and comfort of the resolute but unfortunate pair. Such deeds of charity are habitual with the men and women of the frontier, and the farther west one goes the more spontaneously and warmly does the heart bound to relieve the sufferings and supply the wants of the unfortunate, particularly of those who have been injured or reduced while battling with the hardships and dangers incident to a wild country.

 

The more rugged the region on our western border, the more boundless becomes the sympathetic faculty of its inhabitants. Nowhere is a large and unselfish charity more lavishly exercised than among the Rocky Mountain men and women.

 

Free as the breezes that sweep those towering summits, warm as the sun of midsummer, bright as the icy peaks which lift themselves into the sky, the spirit of loving kindness for the unfortunate animates the bosoms of the sons and daughters of that mountain land.

 

The old hunters and gold-seekers in that region are the faithful depositaries of the mountain legends respecting the adventures of the early emigrants, and the observers and annotators, as it were, of the passages made by the pioneers in later times. Around their camp fires at night, when their repast is made and their pipes lighted, they beguile the lonely hours with tales of dreadful suffering, or of hairbreadth escapes from danger, or of heroism displayed by mountain wayfarers. This, as we have elsewhere remarked, is the hunters' pastime.

 

Indian ScoutWhile a hunting party were once threading the defiles of the mountain, they espied below them in the valley certain suspicious signs. Approaching the spot, they discovered that a train of emigrants had been attacked by Indians, their wagons robbed, their oxen killed, a number of the party massacred and scalped, and the rest dispersed.

 

One of the hunters proceeds with the story from this point.

 

"Thirsting for a speedy revenge, the men at once divided. With Augur-eye as guide, I took command of the detachment who had to search the river bank; the old Sergeant commanded the scouting party told off to cross the ford and scour the timber on the right side of the river; whilst the third band was appropriated to the Doctor. The weather was cold, and the sky, thickly covered with fleecy clouds, foreboded a heavy fall of snow. The wind blew in fitful gusts, and seemed to chill one's blood with its icy breath, as, sweeping past, it went whistling and sighing up the glen. The rattle of the horses' hoofs, as the receding parties galloped over the turf, grew fainter and fainter, and when our little band halted on a sandy reach, about a mile up the river, not a sound was audible, save the steady rhythm of the panting horses and the noisy rattle of the stream, as, tumbling over the craggy rocks, it rippled on its course. The 'Tracker' was again down; this time creeping along upon the sand on his hands and knees, and deliberately and carefully examining the marks left on its impressible surface, which, to his practiced eye, were in reality letters, nay, even readable words and sentences. As we watched this tardy progress in impatient silence, suddenly, as if stung by some poisonous reptile, the Indian sprang upon his legs, and, making eager signs for us to approach, pointing at the same time eagerly to something a short distance beyond where he stood. A near approach revealed a tiny hand and part of an arm pushed through the sand.

 

 

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