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The Keepers of the Trail A Story of the Great Woods   By: (1862-1919)

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THE KEEPERS OF THE TRAIL

A Story of the Great Woods

by

JOSEPH A. ALTSHELER

Author of "The Young Trailers," "The Forest Runners," Etc.

Appleton Century New York

Copyright, 1916, by D. Appleton and Company

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission of the publishers.

Copyright, 1944, by Sallie B. Altsheler

Printed in the United States of America

FOREWORD

"The Keepers of The Trail" deals with an episode, hitherto unrelated, in the lives of Henry Ware, Paul Cotter, Shif'less Sol Hyde, Long Jim Hart, and Silent Tom Ross. In point of time it follows "The Forest Runners," and, so, is the third volume of the "Young Trailer" series.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. HENRY IN HIS KINGDOM 1

II. THE BIG GUNS 23

III. THE INDIAN CAMP 41

IV. THE DEED IN THE WATER 61

V. THE FOREST JOKER 83

VI. THE KING WOLF 101

VII. THE FOREST POETS 123

VIII. THE PATH OF DANGER 140

IX. THE KEEPERS OF THE CLEFT 164

X. BESIEGED 187

XI. THE SHIFTLESS ONE 207

XII. ON THE GREAT TRAIL 230

XIII. FIVE AGAINST A THOUSAND 251

XIV. HOLDING THE FORD 270

XV. THE GREAT CULMINATION 293

THE KEEPERS OF THE TRAIL

CHAPTER I

HENRY IN HIS KINGDOM

A light wind blew over the great, primeval wilderness of Kentucky, the dense, green foliage rippling under it like the waves of the sea. In every direction forest and canebrake stretched in countless miles, the trees, infinite in variety, and great in size, showing that Nature had worked here with the hand of a master. Little streams flashing in silver or gold in the sunlight, flowed down to the greater rivers, and on a bush a scarlet tanager fluttered like a flash of flame.

A youth, uncommon in size and bearing, stepped into a little opening, and looked about with the easy, natural caution belonging to the native of the forest who knows that danger is always near. His eyes pierced the foliage, and would have noticed anything unusual there, his ear was so keen that he would have heard at once any sound not a part of the woods.

Eye and ear and the indefinable powers of primitive man told him no enemy was at hand, and he stood on the green hill, breathing the fresh, crisp air, with a delight that only such as he could feel. Mighty was the wilderness, majestic in its sweep, and depth of color, and the lone human figure fitted into it perfectly, adding to it the last and finishing touch.

He blended, too, with the forest. His dress, wholly of fine, tanned deerskin, was dyed green, the hunting shirt fringed, hunting shirt, leggings and moccasins alike adorned with rows of little beads. Fitting thus so completely into his environment, the ordinary eye would not have observed him, and his footsteps were so light that the rabbits in the bush did not stir, and the flaming bird on the bough was not frightened.

Henry Ware let the stock of his rifle rest upon the ground and held it by the barrel, while he gazed over the green billows of the forest, rolling away and away to every horizon. He was a fortunate human being who had come into his own kingdom, one in which he was fitted supremely to reign, and he would not have exchanged his place for that of any titular sovereign on his throne.

His eyes gleamed with pleasure as he looked upon his world. None knew better than he its immense variety and richness. He noted the different shades of the leaves and he knew by contrast the kind of tree that bore them. His eye fell upon the tanager, and the deep, intense scarlet of its plumage gave him pleasure. It seemed fairly to blaze against the background of woodland green, but it still took no alarm from the presence of the tall youth who neither stirred nor made any sound... Continue reading book >>




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