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Duck Lake
Chapter IX. Purchasing the Red Cow

CHUBB had almost forgotten the cub that came with the old mother-bear on the eventful day. Suddenly thinking of it when Jonas was his nurse, he asked—

‘When you found the dead bear by our trap, Jonas, did you see the cub?'

‘Yes, for sure.'

‘Did you catch it?’

‘Yes, for sure.’

*What did you do with it?’

‘Keep it for Chubb. He get well soon. Train it to lie down with the calf.’

And the Indian’s eyes twinkled.

‘Do you believe that that can be done?’ said Chubb, almost springing out of bed and looking Jonas squarely in the face.

‘Chubb try again,’ came from the almost imperturbable man.

‘Yes, I will,* replied Chubb, subsiding under the blankets.

‘When Jonas is around.’

‘All right; but where’s the calf?’

‘Dunno. Gone home, per’aps, for sure.’ With Mr. Hewitt’s permission the cub was brought to the Parsonage. He was a sturdy-little fellow, about the size of a collie dog. Jonas had given him a few lessons, so that he would now stand, when asked, upon his hind legs and walk around the room, turn somersaults, and do some other antics which were amusing in their clumsiness.

This cub, with a new desire to repeat his experiment, helped Chubb’s convalescence, and his improvement was now rapid.

Jonas and the teacher made Chubb a big easy-chair, and on fine days he would sit outside in the sunshine. The cub was not far from him, and he would watch the little fellow and talk to him. Chubb’s arm had to be carefully kept in a sling, and his back was still so painful that he could not walk much or sit up for any length of time. So, in spite of his new playmate, he spent much of his time in bed.

Chubb’s query about the calf caused Jonas the next time his duties took him near the Mores’ clearing to look into the place. He found Mrs. More and Jennie, the latter with her omnipresent burden, the baby, upon her back, out in the potato patch. Mrs. More was digging with a fork, and Jennie was picking up the potatoes and putting them into a bag.

Not seeing any cattle, Jonas moved around towards the barn. Here, leaning against a corner of the weather-beaten but unfinished shed, he saw the proprietor himself—with folded arms, smoking. But he was not altogether indifferent to his surroundings. He kept a sharp eye upon the women in the field to see that they were not idle, and he saw Jonas almost as quickly as Jonas saw him. Seeing that he was discovered, Jonas came out of the woods and approached him at once.

‘What do you want around here?’ was More’s gruff reception.

‘Want to buy your red cow,’ Jonas replied, with business-like directness. The result was electric. Out of his mouth More took his pipe and then keenly scrutinized his visitor.

‘Buy her!’ he exclaimed. ‘Buy my red cow! Why, man, what have you got to pay?’

‘Mr. More know a good bearskin when he see it?’

‘Guess I do.’

‘Know value?’

‘Yes, I’ve a pretty good idea.'

Jonas unrolled the skin of Chubb’s bear before the father’s eyes.

‘Prime.' said Jonas.

‘Not too bad,’ remarked the other.

‘Teacher say him worth twenty dollar.'

At the mention of the teacher More swore.

‘Don’t mention teacher to me,’ he exclaimed. ‘Look here, Jonas, with his tomfoolery he has kept Chubb away from here nigh on to three weeks. I’ve been nearly killed with hayin’ and harvestin’, and now the potatoes is to be gathered.'

‘Bearskin worth twenty dollar,’ repeated Jonas, passing over More’s outburst as irrelevant. ‘Red cow worth fifteen dollar. Trade even.’

The red cow had not come home with her calf, and so More did not know of the existence of the latter, or whether the cow was dead or alive. Here was, however, he thought, a chance to make something out of her, and so, after some more haggling to keep Jonas from thinking he was any too ready to sell, he carefully rolled up the bearskin and put it inside of his barn.

‘It’s a bargain, Jonas,' he said. ‘Now go and find the cow. She is somewheres in the woods.'

‘Ugh!’ grunted Jonas.

More expected some disapproval; but ere Jonas could complain further, More said— ‘Jonas, I wish you’d go to the teacher and tell him to send Chubb home. I want him. The young rascal, he ought to be here to help his poor father pick potatoes. Have you seen him lately, Jonas?'

‘Yes, for sure.’


‘Made bear trap for him.'

‘Oh, he’s been truancing again with you, has he? Just wait till I catch him, if I don’t hide him! Look here, Jonas, if I ever catch him with you, I’ll thrash you too.'

Jonas smiled.

‘Tom More thrash Jonas, ha, ha!’ said the Indian very quietly, taking a step forward and looking the white man squarely in the eyes. More stepped back quickly.

‘Then, by Chubb’s trap.' continued Jonas, thinking to raise some fear, if not kindly feelings in the father’s heart, ‘Jonas find bear, dead she-bear. Claws filled with Chubb’s torn coat: but no Chubb.’

‘Oh, my boy is killed, my boy is killed!’ exclaimed the mother.

While the men were bargaining Mrs. More had ordered Jennie to continue the work of digging and picking the potatoes, and then she came to hear what the men were talking about. When she was within hearing she caught Jonas’ last words.

‘Oh, the bear has killed him!’ she continued, wailing. ‘Oh, my dear Charley! Tell me, will I never see him again?’

Jonas was about to answer, when she began her talking again, her imagination and loquacity and endearments seeming to have no end. Jonas stood there, politely waiting for her to finish, so that he might speak.

‘Oh, won’t you tell me? Then I’ll make you, you stupid Indian!’ said the mother, suddenly drying her tears and stepping up to lay violent hands on the Indian. Jonas gently but firmly pushed her aside.

‘Jonas saw dead bear by trap, but Chubb not there,’ he calmly repeated. Then, with a stately bow, he stepped back and went into the woods.

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