The Dog Crusoe and His Master A Story of Adventure in the Western Prairies

The Dog Crusoe and His Master
A Story of Adventure in the Western Prairies

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CHAPTER I.

The backwoods settlement--Crusoe's parentage, and earlyhistory--The agonizing pains and sorrows of his puppyhood,and other interesting matters.The dog Crusoe was once a pup. Now do not,courteous reader, toss your head contemptuously,and exclaim, "Of course he was; I could have told youthat." You know very well that you have often seen aman above six feet high, broad and powerful as a lion,with a bronzed shaggy visage and the stern glance of aneagle, of whom you have said, or thought, or heard otherssay, "It is scarcely possible to believe that such a manwas once a squalling baby." If you had seen our heroin all the strength and majesty of full-grown doghood,you would have experienced a vague sort of surprisehad we told you--as we now repeat--that the dogCrusoe was once a pup--a soft, round, sprawling,squeaking pup, as fat as a tallow candle, and as blindas a bat.But we draw particular attention to the fact ofCrusoe's having once been a pup, because in connectionwith the days of his puppyhood there hangs a tale.This peculiar dog may thus be said to have had twotails--one in connection with his body, the other withhis career. This tale, though short, is very harrowing,and as it is intimately connected with Crusoe's subsequenthistory we will relate it here. But before doingso we must beg our reader to accompany us beyond thecivilized portions of the United States of America--beyondthe frontier settlements of the "far west," intothose wild prairies which are watered by the greatMissouri River--the Father of Waters--and his numeroustributaries.Here dwell the Pawnees, the Sioux, the Delawarers,the Crows, the Blackfeet, and many other tribes of RedIndians, who are gradually retreating step by step towardsthe Rocky Mountains as the advancing whiteman cuts down their trees and ploughs up their prairies.Here, too, dwell the wild horse and the wild ass, thedeer, the buffalo, and the badger; all, men and brutesalike, wild as the power of untamed and ungovernablepassion can make them, and free as the wind thatsweeps over their mighty plains.There is a romantic and exquisitely beautiful spot onthe banks of one of the tributaries above referredto--long stretch of mingled woodland and meadow, witha magnificent lake lying like a gem in its green bosom--whichgoes by the name of the Mustang Valley.This remote vale, even at the present day, is but thinlypeopled by white men, and is still a frontier settlementround which the wolf and the bear prowl curiously,and from which the startled deer bounds terrified away.At the period of which we write the valley had justbeen taken possession of by several families of squatters,who, tired of the turmoil and the squabbles of the thenfrontier settlements, had pushed boldly into the farwest to seek a new home for themselves, where theycould have "elbow room," regardless alike of thedangers they might encounter in unknown lands and ofthe Redskins who dwelt there.The squatters were well armed with axes, rifles, andammunition....