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[Illustration: "Terry heard distinctly the footsteps of the warrior."]

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THE
HUNTERS OF THE OZARK.

BY
EDWARD S. ELLIS

Author Of "Young Pioneer Series," "Log Cabin Series,"
"Great River Series," Etc., Etc.

Philadelphia:
Henry T. Coates & Co.

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Copyright, 1887,
by
PORTER & COATES.

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CONTENTS.

CHAPTER. PAGE.

I.--AN ESTRAY, 5
II.--THE TINKLE OF A BELL, 15
III.--AN ABORIGINAL PLOT, 25
IV.--A PARTY OF THE THIRD PART, 34
V.--A FRIEND IN NEED, 44
VI.--FRED LINDEN RECEIVES A MESSAGE FROM THE OZARK CAMP, 54
VII.--THE HUNTERS OF OZARK, 64
VIII.--A WELCOME ACQUAINTANCE, 74
IX.--A MISHAP, 84
X.--A STRUGGLE FOR LIFE, 94
XI.--TRAMPING SOUTHWARD, 104
XII.--A STRANGE ANIMAL, 114
XIII.--A TROUBLESOME VISITOR, 124
XIV.--A WELCOME ALLY, 134
XV.--"DEERFOOT WILL BE SENTINEL TO-NIGHT," 144
XVI.--AROUND THE CAMP-FIRE, 154
XVII.--A SUSPICIOUS SOUND, 164
XVIII.--LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT, 174
XIX.--SHAWANOE AND WINNEBAGO, 185
XX.--ANOTHER NIGHT VISITOR, 195
XXI.--THE CAMP OF THE WINNEBAGOS, 205
XXII.--"KEEP TO THE TRAIL," 215
XXIII.--AN INFURIATE SHAWANOE, 225
XXIV.--THE DEFIANCE, 236
XXV.--THE SIGNAL FIRE, 245
XXVI.--ON THE EDGE OF THE PRAIRIE, 257
XXVII.--A MORNING MEAL, 269
XXVIII.--A STRANGE RIDE, 281
XXIX.--A YOUNG HUNTER'S STRATEGY, 293
XXX.--TERRY FINISHES HIS RIDE, 305
XXXI.--THE DEVIL'S PUNCH BOWL, 316
XXXII.--THE TERROR IN THE AIR, 328
XXXIII.--FRED LINDEN AWAKENS TO AN ALARMING FACT, 340
XXXIV.--THE CANOE, 352
XXXV.--AMERICA VERSUS IRELAND, 364
XXXVI.--AMERICA VERSUS AMERICA, 376
XXXVII.--THE LAST CAMP-FIRE, 388
XXXVIII.--CONCLUSION, 400

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THE HUNTERS OF THE OZARK.

CHAPTER I.

AN ESTRAY.


One day in the autumn Terence Clark came to the house of Frederick
Linden and urged him to join in a hunt for a cow that had been missing
since the night before. The latter got the consent of his mother and the
two lads started on a search that proved to be the most eventful one
they had ever known.

A few words in the way of explanation must be given at this point. The
date of the events I have set out to tell was toward the close of the
last century, and the scene the south-western part of the present State
of Missouri, but which was then a part of the vast territory known as
Louisiana. Though the town of St. Louis had been settled a good many
years before, there were only a few pioneers scattered through the
almost limitless region that stretched in every direction from the
Mississippi. Here and there the hunters and trappers were often absent
from their homes for months at a time, during which they suffered much
exposure and hardship. They slept for weeks in the open woods, or when
the severity of the weather would not allow this, they found refuge in
caves or hollow trees. Then, when enough skins had been gathered to load
their pack-horses they started on the long tramps to the French trading
post on the Mississippi. They followed faintly marked paths or trails
that converged from a score or hundred different points until they
reached the Father of Waters, where the peltries were soon sold and the
proceeds, too often, squandered within the succeeding few hours.

At the date of which I am speaking, a small settlement known as Greville
stood in the south-western section of the large State of Missouri, as it
is now known. The first cabins were put up only a few years before, and
the settlers, including men, women and children, numbered about two
hundred. Near the center of the straggling settlement stood a rude but
strong blockhouse to be used for refuge in the event of an attack by
Indians. As yet this emergency had not arisen, for the red men in that
section were far less warlike and hostile than those in Ohio and
Kentucky.

The father of Fred Linden was one of the hunters and trappers who made
regular visits to the wild section near the Ozark Mountains for the
purpose of gathering furs. He never had less than two companions, and
sometimes the number was half a dozen. As you are well aware, the furs
of all animals are in the finest condition in wintry weather, since
nature does her best to guard their bodies from the effects of cold.
Thus it came about that the party of hunters, of whom I shall have more
to say further on, left Greville in the autumn of the year, and as a
rule were not seen again until spring. Since they entered a fine,
fur-bearing country, these trips generally paid well. One convenience
was that the hunters were not obliged to go to St. Louis to sell them.
An agent of the great fur company that made its headquarters at that
post, came regularly to Greville with his pack-horses and gave the same
price for the peltries that he would have given had they been brought to
the factory, hundreds of miles away. He was glad to do this, for the
furs that George Linden and his brother hunters brought in were not
surpassed in glossiness and fineness by any of the thousands gathered
from the four points of the compass.

Among the daring little band that made these regular visits to the Ozark
region was an Irishman named Michael Clark, who had had considerable
experience in gathering furs along the Mississippi. It was at his
suggestion that Greville was founded, and one-half of their periodical
journeys thus cut off. On the year following, Clark was shot and killed
by a prowling Indian. Since his wife had been dead a long time, the only
child, Terence, was thus left an orphan. The lad was a bright,
good-natured fellow, liked by every one, and he made his home with the
family of one of the other hunters named Rufus MacClaskey. The boy was
fifteen years old on the very day that he walked over to the cabin of
Fred Linden and asked him to help him hunt for the missing cow.

The family of George Linden, while he was away, consisted of his wife,
his daughter Edith, fourteen, and his son Fred, sixteen years old. All
were ruddy cheeked, strong and vigorous, and among the best to do of the
thirty-odd families that made up the population of Greville.

"Has the cow ever been lost before?" asked Fred, as he and the Irish lad
swung along beside each other, neither thinking it worth while to burden
himself with a rifle.

"Niver that I knows of, and I would know the same if she had been lost;
we're onaisy about the cow, for you see that if this kaaps on and she
doesn't come back I'll have to live on something else than bread and
milk and praties."

"Our cow came back just at sunset last night."

"And so did them all, exciptin' our own, which makes me more onwillin'
to accipt any excuse she may have to give."

"Let me see, Terry; Brindle wore a bell round her neck, didn't she?"

"That she did, and she seemed quite proud of the same."

"Did you make hunt for her last night?"

"I hunted as long as I could see to hunt; she wasn't missed, that is
till after they got home. Whin I found that I didn't find her I started
to find her; but I hadn't time to hunt very long whin it got dark and I
had to give it up."

"And didn't you hear any thing of the bell?"

"Do ye think that if I heard the bell I wouldn't have found the cow? Why
was the bell put round her neck if it wasn't to guide friends? I
listened many a time after it got dark, but niver a tinkle did I hear."

"That is queer," said Fred half to himself; "for, when no wind is
blowing and it is calm, you can hear that bell a long ways; father has
caught the sound in the woods, when the Brindle was all of a mile off. I
wonder whether she could have lost the bell."

"I've thought of that, and said to meself that it might be also that she
had become lost herself in trying to find it."

Fred laughed.

"She hardly knows enough for _that_; and, if she found the bell she
wouldn't know what to do with it; but if that leathern string around her
neck had broken, it may be that she is close by. A cow after losing one
milking is apt to feel so uncomfortable that she hurries home to be
relieved; but what's the use of talking?" added Fred, throwing up his
head and stepping off at a more lively pace; "we've started out to find
her and that's all we have to do."

Perhaps a dozen acres had been cleared around the little town of
Greville. This had been planted with corn, potatoes and grain, though
scores of unsightly stumps were left and interfered with the cultivation
of the soil. Beyond this clearing or open space extended the immense
forests which at one time covered almost the entire face of our country.
On the south side of the town and distant a furlong wound a creek, which
after many shiftings and turnings found its way into the Mississippi and
so at last into the Gulf of Mexico.



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