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PAUL RATCLIFFE'S ADVENTURES.

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PAUL RATCLIFFE'S ADVENTURES. A STORY OF WILD LIFE. CHAPTER I IT has been said that there is no rule without an ex- ception," and as authors generally make themselves the hero's in travelling adventures, I shall form the exception in this case, and tell the reader much more about my noble companion, Paul Ratcliffe, than of my- self. To him were united all that was bold and generous, with a disposition so truly amiable that it does my heart good to recall our former friendship. In speaking of myself, I am afraid to confess that years ago I may have been classed amongst the young Hen termed" fast" in London life, and, like Charles Mathews, was used up that is to say, I had seen everything worth seeing in London and on the European Continent, and longed for something new. My com- panions were all getting occupation in some way or other; I alone seemed to remain an idler. What should I do to amuse myself ? How get excitement Which would rouse my dormant energies ? At length I determined to go to America. Arrived in New York, I found society constituted for the most part of the Same characters I had seen in England. Billiards and cigars appeared the only things worth living for. At length I made the acquaintance of Paul Ratcliffe, whose toanly air and deep-toned voice at once convinced me that he was no ordinary individual. After a few hours' acquaintance I told him in a tone, that he often imitated afterwards, that I was awfully dull; being killed every [day by ennui; that there was nothing that a fellow could do," &c. Come with me, old chap," was his reply, I'll find you excitement." I'm your Moses," I answered. Tell me what's Jour game P Well, it is game, and no mistake, that Im after In the wild prairies. What say you to join a jolly Party to the Far West ? To hunt game, do you mean P I said. "Well," he replied, we aro not going in pursuit of the ridiculous; but we are going to live a wild life for time; have a look at the few aborigines that are left in this country, and find out valuable tracts of land that are not marked on any map." I thought there was something noble in being a dis- coverer, and how proud I should be to have the name of Edward Beechnut flourishing in the papers as one of the discoverers of a fertile tract of land that should give employment to thousands in the cultivation, and Perhaps bring wealth to the first travellers who had reported it. The bargain was soon made for such a trip, and half-a-dozen of us, well horsed, proceeded on our way Without any special plan or design. We travelled as far as possible by rail, then mounted our horses, and in a few days reached a country where man ap- peared to have little habitation. When we arrived at the Oregen territory, we were joined by three more of Paul's friends who lived near to the locality we were entering upon, and who knew something about savage life. The glorious freedom of the boundless prairie!" e:tolaimed my enthusiastic friend, Paul Ratcliffe, as he and I, well mounted on two fleet horses, went dashing Over the almost level plain, in quest of some moving objects, believed to be buffaloes, which we had seen disappear behind a gentle swell in the far distance. We were both young and inexperienced, and it was OUr first journey to the Far We?t. We had been tra- velling some days beyond the last border settlement With our Oregon friends, from whom, without taking Counsel of our elders, we had slipped off, for the pur- pose of having a little wild sport to ourselves, not beaming of the perils to which we were about to be CXDosfid. it was a beautiful day, neither too warm nor too cold, with the sun shining brightly over the mighty Plain, and all nature filling our hearts with that buoyant, bounding gladsomeness, which is seldom experienced when mature years have crowded in, along With their wisdom, the cares, sorrows, and perplexi- of life. On we went, at high speed, our horses neck and tJ.Qck, and seemingly as full of the enjovment of the "Port as ourselves. "It will be a good joke," said I, if we two green- .°*tis, as the old hunters are pleased to call us, bring 111 the first buffalo meat oar partv gets on the route! Ay, that it will, Ned! cried Paul, enthusiastically, Swinging his hat and adding a joyous hurrah. And do it too, Ned, and put to Bhame the men that Jailed yesterday. Greenhorns, indeed! We'll show chem what we are before we're done with them tturrah for the glorious freedom of the boundless Prairie! Thus we bounded on, full of spirit. As we rose a gentle SWOll, I gIa.1:1o,od off 4>o-rr-ebx-cL -bhc lo",s tvain in -101.0 distance, and fancied I saw some one making signals to us. I called my companion's attention to the fact, a&d we both reined up our horses, to see if it had any Serious meaning. "I believe it is a flag," said I, but I cannot make out the colour. It may be red, and, if, so, it indicates danger, that being the signal agreed upon for that pur- Pose. Doubtless it isjj intended to recall us. That being granted, the question >is, shall we go back or forward ?" "I see no danger," returned Paul, sweeping the Whole plain with his quick, eagle glance, and so I am for pushing on. Perhaps," he added, with a light laugh, it is some old granny, who fears we are getting out of leading strings, and wants to give us a lecture on the moral impropriety of our rashness. Or, better yet, some one of the keen-sighted hunters may by this time have discovered our game, and thinks it should be left to his wisdom and experience to run after and *oae. It would not of course be pleasant to him to be Put to the blush by the success of a couple of such hot-headed youths, to say nothing of our being so un- sophisticated and unseasoned, and just for that reason I am for pushing on." On it is, then said I; and away we went, the gentle swell we were now descending gradually Shutting us out from the view of our friends behind. There was now a long stretch of almost level prairie before us, and in the distance that gradual rise of ground, from the summit of which we had seen what We had supposed to be buffaloes. We made directly *°r this, but it took us a good half hour to reach it, and then we were disappointed in ,not seeing a single one of the animals of which we were in quest. There Was still another gradual descent, leading to the bank a stream, along which was a green belt of trees, hushes, and grass, and, thinking the game might be Concealed in this, we spurred on with a merry shout. &.s we Beared it, however, we were surprised and farmed by a small body of Indians bursting out from a, thick copse directly before us, and greeting us with a series of wild terrific yells. Instantly we reined up our horses and wheeled to fly, but to our horror dis- covered that another party, which had been concealed l°Wer down the stream, had already gained a position 110 cut off our retreat. There seemed nothing left for 1),1:1 but to surrender or die fighting. These mounted Indians, I may remark here, had been mistaken by us for buffaloes, and, in our eager- ^ess to do something wonderful on our own account, ^e had suddenly dashed off from our friends and de- nned to heed their subsequent warning, and now we yere about to reap the reward of our inexperience and 1,1 cautiousness. „ VI We are caught in a trap," said I to my companion: what is to be done? We may as well die one way as another," he re- Plied, with compressed lips and knitted brows, as he up his rifle, so as to cover the nearest savage, yhcj instantly threw his body over one side of his ho-se so as to be concealed by the animal, and dashed ^Wiy to a safer distance, the others also falling back luiiikly and stretching off more in a circle. Ttis relieved us of immediate apprehension, and Savt us a few moments to consider our chances. II They are treacherous cowards," said Pan', "and )nly hope is that we may keep them at a safe Oista*ce till we get upon the swell where our friends Can ate us." „ It will have to be done without firing," returned I; for it we empty our pieces, they will take advantage 05: that time to rush in on us." Atl3ast we must not both fire at the same tine," I joined Paul; "one of us must be constantly loaded. nd we must keep our eyes well about us, for they are all expert horsemen, and any one of them may dart in on us ana send an arrow through us before we are aWare. Lueky for us they have only bows, arrows, Ua spears! for a musket ball would reach us from a sweater distance." -Now Paul Ratcliffe talked like an old Indian Unterj thoughj like myself, he had never seen a hos- Indian before, although he had travelled far and iQe, but had gathered all his information from J °°ks. It was equally tnizea however, that the re- I corded experience of others, under similar circum stances, served us in lieu of perilous adventures of ou: own. The Indians, having now all drawn back to what they seemed to regard as a safe distance, began tc manoeuvre to get the best advantage at the least risk, Some three or four of the younger, with load whoops, would suddenly dart in towards us from the outer half circle, and, coming on with all speed, with their bodies swung over their animals so as to be almost concealed, would thus approach to an alarming near- ness, and then, quick as lightning, wheel their per- fectly trained steeds, let fly their arrows from under their necks, and dart away again, to give another party a chance to perform the same daring feat. One object was to wound us, and another to draw our fire; and so true was their aim, that, out of a dozen arrows, six at least cut our clothes and grazed our flesh, though, fortunately, without inflicting any serious wound. This is getting to be pretty warm work," said Paul. It is just possible the scoundrels may hit us, if we sit here all day; and I'm for doing something, if it's only to run away." Bat where can we run to that will not make matters worse ? Oar horses would hardly equal theirs in a dead race, and there is a stream of water behind us." It may be fordable, though," rejoined Paul, and at least the oover of the wood will be advantageous to us. Come on!" We wheeled our horses and dashed into the wood, and with loud yells the whole party of Indians bore down toward us. The stream was not deep, but its banks were steep and muddy, and it would have been risking too much to have plunged into it with our foes so close behind us. So we wheeled again, face toward them, and found ourselves a good deal pro- tected by the trees and bushes around us. Now, then, to try my luck," said Paul, bringing up his rifle and taking a quick sight on the foremost savage. He fired, and down dropped the Indian, shot through the head, the only part of him visible. Something like Providence must have directed his aim, for the best marksman in the world could not have calculated upon such a result with certainty, considering that the horse of the savage was charging down upon us at full speed. With the wildest yells of rage and dismay, the other Indians let fly their arrows at random, and then wheeled and retreated to a safe distance, the riderless horse following his companions and leaving his master dead on the ground. Thank God for that! cried Paul. "Now then to cross the stream before they return, dash away and reload! There was a spot a. little lower down where we thought we might venture to ford, and in a few seconds we were there; and, in less time than it takes me to tell of it, we were safely on the other bank. Then away we flew, making our noble animals do their utmost. The Indiansdidnot seem to comprehend that we hadescaped till they caught a view of us beyond the belt of wood, riding for our very lives; and then, with the wildest screeches and yells, they dashed down to pursue us. In their headlong fury, they did not seek for a proper ford, but at once plunged into the stream and floundered up against the steep, muddy bank, where they lost so much time in getting upon the hard, dry earth, that, when they did so, we had got at least half a mile the start. With this start," said Paul, who, giving his horse the rein, proceeded to reload his rifle, I think we can double on the blackguards, and if we have no difficulty in crossing the stream, I think we can get in sight of our friends before the yelling hounds get near enough to trouble us." Let us make for yonder swell, then," said I, point- ing off across the stream; "that seems our best chance." A little further on this course, to draw the savages well out after us," returned my companion, and then for a quick double, and Heaven help us:! We rode on a few minutes longer, putting our fleet horses to their mettle. We looked back occasionally, and saw the whole body of savages ooming with all speed; but could not perceive that they gained on us sufficiently to cause any frt:1",h ct-lfirni. "Now, thenJ" said Paul; "now, then, for it! If we are lucky enough to hit the stream where we can easily, recross, we are saved; if not, farewell to all our hopes of life We turned and made for the river, fairly burying our rowels in our horses' flanks. They did their best, the noble brutes; and their best was needed. The Indians, now comprehending our purpose, strained every nerve to intercept us, yelling furiously. Their distance from the point at which we aimed was but little more than ours, and it was a terrific ride-for life on our side-for revenge on theirs. On, uu wo oped, bioatUooo with hope and fear; and on they came, like flying fiends, every moment draw- ing nearer, nearer, and nearer. At last the stream was close before us, and we saw that we could cross it if we could only reach it in time.; but the nearest Indian was scarcely more distant than ourselves, and many others were close behind. Sud- denly Paul raised his rifle, and, barely glancing across the barrel, fired. Down dropped the Indian's horse, and the others ehied, and some confusion followed. It was our salvation. In ten seconds more we had cleared the stream, and with wild shouts of joy were making for the swell, where we saw a party of our friends coming to our rescue. Thus we were saved from almost certain death, and I have not lived long enough since to forget the lesson f we that day learned. (To be continued.)

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