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Golden Face A Tale of the Wild West   By: (1855-1914)

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Golden Face A Tale of the Wild West By Bertram Mitford Published by Trischler and Company, London. This edition dated 1892. Golden Face, by Bertram Mitford.



An impression prevails in this country that for many years past the Red men of the American Continent have represented a subdued and generally deteriorated race. No idea can be more erroneous. Debased, to a certain extent, they may have become, thanks to drink and other "blessings" of civilisation; but that the warrior spirit, imbuing at any rate the more powerful tribes, is crushed, or that a semi civilising process has availed to render them other than formidable and dangerous foes, let the stirring annals of Western frontier colonisation for the last half century in general, and the Sioux rising of barely a year ago in particular, speak for themselves.

This work is a story not a history. Where matters historical have been handled at all the Author has striven to touch them as lightly as possible, emphatically recognising that when differences arise between a civilised Power and barbarous races dwelling within or beyond its borders, there is invariably much to be said on both sides.



"Snakes! if that ain't the war whoop, why then old Smokestack Bill never had to keep a bright lookout after his hair."

Both inmates of the log cabin exchanged a meaning glance. Other movement made they none, save that each man extended an arm and reached down his Winchester rifle, which lay all ready to his hand on the heap of skins against which they were leaning. Within, the firelight glowed luridly on the burnished barrels of the weapons, hardly penetrating the gloomy corners of the hut. Without, the wild shrieking of the wind and the swish and sough of pine branches furiously tossing to the eddying gusts.

"Surely not," was the reply, after a moment of attentive listening. "None of the reds would be abroad on such a night as this, let alone a war party. Why they are no fonder of the cold than we, and to night we are in for something tall in the way of blizzards."

"Well, it's a sight far down that I heard it," went on the scout, shaking his head. "Whatever the night is up here, it may be as mild as milk punch down on the plain. There's scalping going forward somewhere mind me."

"If so, it's far enough away. I must own to having heard nothing at all."

For all answer the scout rose to his feet, placed a rough screen of antelope hide in front of the fire, and, cautiously opening the door, peered forth into the night. A whirl of keen, biting wind, fraught with particles of frozen snow which stung the face like quail shot, swept round the hut, filling it with smoke from the smouldering pine logs; then both men stepped outside, closing the door behind them.

No, assuredly no man, red or white, would willingly be abroad that night. The icy blast, to which exposure benighted on the open plain meant, to the inexperienced, certain death, was increasing in violence, and even in the sheltered spot where the two men stood it was hardly bearable for many minutes at a time. The night, though tempestuous, was not blackly dark, and now and again as the snow scud scattered wildly before the wind, the mountain side opposite would stand unveiled; each tall crag towering up, a threatening fantastic shape, its rocky front dark against the driven whiteness of its base. And mingling with the roaring of the great pines and the occasional thunder of masses of snow dislodged from their boughs would be borne to the listeners' ears, in eerie chorus, the weird dismal howling of wolves. It was a scene of indescribable wildness and desolation, that upon which these two looked forth from their winter cabin in the lonely heart of the Black Hills.

But, beyond the gruesome cry of ravening beasts and the shriek of the gale, there came no sound, nothing to tell of the presence or movements of man more savage, more merciless than they... Continue reading book >>

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