It was a case of its being only the first step that costs. Here, let's lead him gently across, and I'll see what I can do. ""No, father; he must have come in the night," cried Chris. Why, he has three arrows in him," continued the doctor, as he examined the poor beast while it limped along patiently by their side."But he'll get better, father?Chris had begun to try, and forcing himself backward along the ledge inch by inch, he soon had the satisfaction of feeling that he was more hidden from the danger of being shot at than he expected, while the cliff-wall at whose foot he lay completely screened him from above. "We only just found that he was here.""We didn't look at them before we went off this morning," said Wilton."No, and I remember I reproached myself once for not doing so. "Seeing this poor fellow has made me forget my bruises.""But you are the better for your long sleep? " cried Chris excitedly."I hope so, my boy; but I am not a veterinary surgeon.Then all at once there was a fresh beating of the pony's hoofs from below, where everything was hidden.
There was a hopefulness about this, a feeling of being rewarded for his effort to try, which nerved the boy to continue, in spite of the difficulties attending his backward progress and the way in which his rifle caught against the wall, and his having to stop again and again to readjust the holster of his revolver, which kept on slipping round."This going backward is horrible," he said to himself at last, as he paused rather out of breath to look anxiously about him, but felt in better heart upon again seeing how thoroughly he was screened from the Indians. ""Get your rifle then; we mustn't stir without our popguns now. But there, we're giving all our sympathy to the pony. ""Yes, father; only a bit ashamed.""Never mind that.—Tut, tut, tut! Depend upon it, though, that I shall do my best."The pony followed them like a dog, holding out its muzzle to Chris from time to time, and uttering as soon as he was caressed a piteous sigh.
The danger was not there, and he had nothing to mind on one side where the rock-wall went right up, probably to the tableland above, which, for aught he knew to the contrary, might come right to the edge of the mass of earth and stone. Why, I say, I never thought your mount was pure bred. Come on."Chris limped a great deal, and suffered plenty of pain, but he got down the slope bravely, managing to step from stone to stone until the way down to the water was passed and the two lads were hurrying across the verdant portion of the valley towards where the animals were browsing and grazing. Let's have the heads of these arrows out first thing.""Yes; they must be ready to fester in the wounds. But he did not wince till they were close up to the slope, where the doctor asked for bucket, water, and sponge, and began his attentions, with Chris's help, to the suffering, badly-injured beast. A PATIENT PATIENT."I wonder you are both alive," said the doctor gravely, as he began to make a careful examination of the mustang.
""Ah, he doesn't know," groaned the boy despairingly, as he shrank shivering back to his old position, to lie still for a minute, feeling the palms of his hands grow wet.
But the sound of that word try seemed to be echoing on his ear, and thrusting himself more away from the edge of the shelf over which he had peered, he wrenched his head round to see whether there was any possible ledge or slope on the other side of the stone where he had looked before and had seen as it were that it projected right out.
He had held his breath painfully while he watched, and now, feeling that he was wrong, and must say something to those below, he breathed again freely and was about to speak when his heart seemed to stand still again, for one swinging bough was slightly agitated and pressed aside, showing the glistening, copper-hued skin of an Indian's shoulder, with the strap of a quiver-sling plainly in view.
The man was evidently crawling like a short thick serpent to reach a spot from which he could shoot; but it was not to be, for covering the Indian's side the boy waited a full minute to see if a better opportunity presented itself; and it came, for after lying perfectly still for awhile the man raised himself a little as if to clear something in his way, and then gave a spasmodic jerk, rolled over sidewise, and came gliding out from beneath the hanging growth, to fall like those who had gone before."How horrible!
The dust was still forming a cloud, but it was floating away, leaving the bare sides of the cleft clear enough for him to see far above him where the ledge ran horizontally along the side of the huge wall; and the change in colour showed him where what seemed to be quite a small portion had dropped away. I wish they would go.""Yes, it makes it so horrible.""Ah! I don't mind shooting something that we want to eat. ""Yes, it is horrid," said Chris; "but they're hardly men. They seem to love killing.""Have some more vulture," said Ned quietly. " said Chris, laughing."Well, didn't it taste bitter? It's one of those prairie hen things, of course.""No, it was a fine fat cock.""Well, they call them prairie hens. ""I dunno; they might," replied Ned; "but they couldn't send an arrow in here from that distance.""But we could send bullets. It was when I came down with that ledge; I got both eyes full of dust and grit. ""Because you must be squinting," said Ned."Is this another joke? Then came the long cut or tear on the poor brute's flank, an injury so tender that he winced and shivered at the slightest touch.
Chris's next effort was to feel himself over and move his limbs, which felt sore, and ached; but he soon found that he was not hurt, and began to try and realise his position. I'm beginning to think with my father that we shall never find the old temple, and that if we did we should be none the better for it. It was, as you say, delicious.""Well, finish it."Chris shook his head, rose stiffly, and helped his companion to clear away."Now then," he said, "I'm not much disposed to walk to-day. That side's within range," said Chris thoughtfully."Oh yes, and it wouldn't be lucky for one of the scalpers to show himself, I can tell him; but I say, look at the animals. " said Chris, with the glass to his eyes."It's no joke," replied Ned, "not to be able to count properly. One of your eyes don't go at all, seemingly.""I can see them distinctly through the glass," cried Chris, with a touch of irritability in his tones.—"Why, Ned! But there was no cutting here, nothing but bathing and cleansing the place thoroughly, before the skin was drawn together by means of pins passed through the edges and waxed silk wound round and round from head to point of the little pins.
The old dread of slipping from the narrow ledge upon which he lay came back, and with a terrible feeling of despair he waited for the moment when he would again be falling swiftly through the air to share the fate of his mount. " shouted the boy downward, and from between his hands.