Hardscrabble; or, the fall of Chicago. a tale of Indian warfare by John Richardson

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Page 1

The elder of the two men, to whom this individual stood,
evidently, in the character of a superior, was a short
thick-set person of about fifty, with huge whiskers that,
originally black, had been slightly grizzled by time.
His eyebrows were bushy and overhanging, and almost
concealed the small, and twinkling eyes, which it required
the beholder to encounter more than once before he could
decide their true color to be a dark gray. A blanket coat
that had once been white, but which the action of some
half dozen winters had changed into a dirty yellow,
enveloped his rather full form, around which it was
confined by a coarse worsted sash of mingled blue and
red, thickly studded with minute white beads. His trowsers,
with broad seams, after the fashion of the Indian legging,
were of a dark crimson, approaching to a brick-dust color,
and on his feet he wore the stiff shoe-pack, which, with
the bonnet bleu on his grizzled head, and the other parts
of his dress already described, attested him to be what
he was--a French Canadian. Close at his heels, and moving
as he moved, or squatted on his haunches, gazing into
the face of his master when stationary, was a large dog
of the mongrel breed peculiar to the country--evidently
with wolf blood in his veins.

His companion was of a different style of figure and
costume. He was a thin, weak-looking man, of middle
height, with a complexion that denoted his Saxon origin.
Very thin brows, retrousse nose, and a light gray eye in
which might be traced an expression half simple, half
cunning, completed the picture of this personage, whose
lank body was encased in an old American uniform of faded
blue, so scanty in its proportions that the wrists of
the wearer wholly exposed themselves beneath the short,
narrow sleeves, while the skirts only "shadowed not
concealed," that part of the body they had been originally
intended to cover. A pair of blue pantaloons, perfectly
in keeping, on the score of scantiness and age, with the
coat, covered the attenuated lower limbs of the wearer,
on whose head, moreover, was stuck a conical cap that
had all the appearance of having been once a portion of
the same uniform, and had only undergone change in the
loss of its peak. A small black leather, narrow ridged
stock was clasped around his thin, and scare-crow neck,
and that so tightly that it was the wonder of his companions
how strangulation had so long been avoided. A dirty, and
very coarse linen shirt, showed itself partially between
the bottom of the stock, and the uppermost button of the
coat, which was carefully closed, while his feet were
protected from the friction of the stiff, though nearly
wornout, military shoes, by wisps of hay, that supplied
the absence of the sock. This man was about five and

The last of the little party was a boy. He was a raw-boned
lad of about fourteen years of age, and of fair complexion,
with blue eyes, and an immense head of bushy hair, of
the same hue, which seemed never to have known the use
of the comb. His feet were naked, and his trowsers and
shirt, the only articles of dress upon him at the moment,
were of a homespun somewhat resembling in color the
hunting frock of his master. A thick black leather strap
was also around his loins--evidently part of an old bridle

The two men first described, drew near the fire and
lighted their pipes. The ex-militaire thrust a quid of
tobacco into his cheek, and taking up a small piece of
pine board that rested against the chimney corner, split
a portion off this with his jack-knife, and commenced
whittling. The boy busied himself in clearing the table,
throwing occasionally scraps of bread and dried venison,
which had constituted the chief portion of the meal, to
the dog, which, however, contrary to custom, paid little
attention to these marks of favor, but moved impatiently,
at intervals, to the door, then returning, squatted
himself again on his haunches, at a short distance from
his master, and uttering a low sound betwixt a whine and
a growl, looked piteously up into his face.

"Vat the devil is de matter wid you, Loup Garou?" remarked
the Canadian at length, as, removing the pipe from his
lips, he stretched his legs, and poised himself in his
low wood-bottomed chair, putting forth his right hand at
the same time to his canine follower. "You not eat, and
you make noise as if you wish me to see one racoon in de

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 5th Jun 2020, 22:47