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4 . THE MINNEAPOLIS JOURNAL SUMMER FICTION SUPPLEMENTSATURDAY, JULY 11, 1903.
UNDER THE BLACK EAGLE ( . Stories of Russia-By Robert L. JeffersonEach a Complete Story. II.LITTLE NICHOLAS FOUND THE BEAR. N ICHOLAS PAULOFF was plodding down the one street of the little village of Orlova in eastern Siberia. He had just returned from a visit to the granary, where the corn for the day had been measured out by the natchalnik, or head-ma^ of the station, and he bore on his back a tolerably heavy load of rye. "God be praised!" he muttered, as he struggled thru the deep snow. "But I ought to have come on my snow shoes. I had no idea that the last fall would have left so much loose stuff." Here and there the road was cut up* and great holes were there, into which the unwary might stumble. But Nicholas was too good a Siberian to fall foul of these places. He reached his domicile in safety, pushed open the small door and entered the hot apartment. His wife, Anna, was sitting on the wooden stool, gently tugging at the string which supported the cradle of her last born. She looked up as Nicholas entered and greeted him with a glad smile. "So you have got the rye, my husband?" she murmured. "The saints be praised. To-morrow we can have a good baking, and all that is wanted now is some wood from the yard but I fear it is frozen hard to the ground, so you must take the ax." The moujik sank into a chair and placed his numb fin gers on- the white walls of the big stove. "It is-colder and colder," he said "But what is the cold here in Siberia? All the better, say I it will harden the snow, and then a poor man doesn't have to flounder in it as I have had to flounder to-day. Pity it is that the sun rises so late. I want to be off^ to-morrow, and very early, and even now I must go forth again to buy a few kopecks' worth of honey for the bear." "But the bear had honey yesterday." "All the more reason why he should have honey to morrow. Anna, that skin is worth twenty roubles, and think, dear wife, the post will be thru to-morrow evening, and in its train will be found plenty of rich pepople who travel with it under the protection of the eossaeks. I can sell the skin for twenty roubles, I am quite suretwenty roubles." "And the bear always comes?" "Always. But I have noticed that it is getting very white. But then, these ignorant men of money kn6w noth ing about furs, altho they think they do, and think a bear skin with white hairs is more valuable than one with brown. Oh ,yes, It should be worth twenty roublesat least, I hope so." When morning dawned, the still, icy morning of a Si berian winter, Nicholas was early up. He had purchased a pound of honey frqm the little magazine of the village, and had come in to kiss his wife and two children before he went into the forest. There was little' Nicholas, "Batushka," he caUed'him, ten years old, and blithe and cheery. There was .Olga in the cradle, three months old, and knowing nothing. He went out into the open again, muffled up in his old shuba, and carrying on his back the long snow shoes which would be necessary on the soft snow of the forest. But in the street he met his friend Ivan, a government yemshik, who had just returned from a neighboring sta tion, whither he had borne a more than usually generous traveler, and who, as Ivan briefly put it, had given him no less than fifty kopecks for "nat-chai," or tea money. What would a poor yemshik do with fifty kopecks but spend it in vodki, and what more natural than that he should spend it in company with so-good a comrade as Nicholas. So to gether they, repaired to the only "traktir" in the village, called for the samovar, and for a bottle of vodki, costing thirty kopecks. They sat there for two hours and talked, until their speech grew maudiin, and when the remainder of the fifty kopecks had been consumed in vodki Nicholas was asleep, with his head on the table, while the yemshik snored reposefully on the floor. ' ' Soon after mjd-day the village was astir with the arrival of the post, and little Nicholas had wandered forth to watch the busy scene. There were five troikas, gaily caparisoned, two of them being those of richly befurred travelers going to Europe. The eyes of little Nicholas opened wide at the splendid trappings, and when one of the great men deigned to cast a look.at him he plucked off his little fur hat in both hands, as was the custom, and bowed to him. The post went off, but for want of horses the private travelers had to _ remain. It was when the last sound of the hells had dis appeared that Nicholas bethought himself of his father. Why had he been gone so long in the forest? He was wandering back to his home when he saw outside the door of the "traktir" a pair of snow shoes which looked familiar. He examined them closely and knew that they were his father's. He looked into the "traktir," and what was his surprise to see his father asleep, his head on the table, his long hair over his eyes. He saw, besides, the little tin can which he knew always contained honey,' and then Nicholas wondered why his father had not been to feed the bear. He went into the "traktir" and shook his parent, but no response came. Then he looked into the can and saw" that the pound of honey was intact. He took the can in his hand, his first impulse being to carry it home but when he got outside he saw the snow shoes, and the thought came over him, "Why should he not go and feed the bear, the skin of which was to bring his papa and mama twenty roubles?" that fabulous sum as it seemed to his little brain. It was not the first time that little Nicholas had. worn his father's snow shoes, and he knew how to put his.feet into the toe piece and tie the gut behind his heel. He knew, how to jump, too, when declivities came, and how to walk sideways and corkscrew when there were ascents. "So I will go and feed the bear myself," said little Nich olas, and he caught up the snow shoes, which were taller than himself, placed them on his back, and with the can of honey in his left hand set out. "I ,know where it is," he. *aid. "The big tree in the middle of the clearing where Medvey' always comes for his swets. Papa is tired, and won't he be pleased when he finds I have taken the honey?" He slipped around the back of the village, left the hard road, and on the edge of the deep snow adjusted the shoes. Then he was, off. At fifty yards he looked a mere speck en that great expanse of snow, and- at a hundred y.eards he. was swallowed in the blackness of the forest. * * - - - When Nicholas the elder awoke it was dark, and- his head ached. He rubbed his bleared eyes and looked'around. He was in the "traktir," and slowly the recollectioxv^of what had passed came slowly to him." Instinctively his glance fell on the table to his left hand. The can of honey was gone someone had stolen k. He bounded to his feet and roared, and the "traktir" proprietor came forward and looked fool ishly at him. "Someone has stolen my honey!" cried Nicholas. "My snow shoes, where are they? I left them here. I swear it." "Nicholas, you lie! You have 1ee flicking your neck ' too much (drinking too much). You brought no honey here. As to your snow shoes, I have not seen them." Then the moujik staggered forth into the night. The cold air made him shudder, and his beard and hair stiffened with the frost in a moment. He looked to the right and the left. To the right was dense blackness, to the left was the one blinking light of the post station. He shambled towards it, and as he approached he saw two sledges out side. - "Ah," he said, with a sage jerk of his head, "there are . travelers. I may be able to sell my bear skin." He entered the pasage of the post station, but hesi tated a moment before he opened the. jdoor leading to the common room. But his hesitation was soon gone. He grasped the iron handle of the door and pulled it open. He had his hat under his arm as he dyi so, and so soon as he - had entered he turned to the ikon in the wall and crossed himself thrice reverently. Then raising his eyes, he stood in humble attitude before the four men who oceupied the com mon room. 'What want you here, moujik?" cried a voice. "Barins, ten thousand pardons, but I am a poor moujik, but I have something to sella bear skin, people of noble birth, a beautiful bear skin with white spots on the back. It is free from vermin, I assure you people of noble birth, it is a magnificent skin, I tell you from my heart." "Get out," roared the voice again. "But stay, Ivan," said a gentle voice, "let us hear what the poor fellow has to say. A bear skin you have, my man? Well, I am a man of bargains. A good one, you say. How much, moujik?" ' - * , "It is is but twenty roubles, your excellency." "Ah, ten roubles more than it is worth, I'll warrant. Bring it in, moujik." 'Ten million pardons, your excellency," groaned Nicholas, "but the bear is not dead yet." A howl of laughter greeted this explanation, and at this, emboldened, Nicholas drew forward, and standing before the four" smiling gentlemen, said: "It is a beautiful bear, people of noble birth, and I have kept it fed with five kopecks' worth of honey every day since the fidst fall of snow. It is in the forest and I will go and kill it for you, and bring the skin in in less time than you can drink another samovar dry." "Bring it to-mrrow, moujik," said he who had asked for the skin. "To-morrow will do. We do not leave here until we have had some rest, but to-morrow, mind you, soon after daybreak. Now begone." So Nicholas went forth, walking as free as air, for in his mind's eye he saw twenty good roubles fluttering their blue and yellow faces. He hastened onwards to his house, bursting in upon his wife to confound her with the good news. But his good news fell on flat ears. Anna was dis tractedlittle Nicholas was missing. Nothing had been seen or him since midrday. Where was he? No one in the village could tell her. But he had gone the people had seen traces of the snow shoes leading to the forest. Nicholag,the elder sat odwn and looked like one stricken. He thought and thought, but through his poor, clouded brain no ray of intelligence floated. What could he think, what could he do? If was dark. Had hi.s son gone into the forest? And, if so, what for? No. he could not tell why. But to go into the forest, too, to search for the wretched imp, was his natural duty. He went out and battered at the door of a neighbor. "Your snow shoes at once," he cried. "Little Nicholas is lost in the wood." * - Ten minutes later, his bright steel hatchet in his waist belt, his long hunting knife flapping at his side, he was slipping over the bare country towards the belt of trees. He disappeared in thei rfastnesses, and for hours he wandered round thru the gaunt trunks, shouting and shouting, but no response came to his cries. He went hither and thither, doubling and redoubling on his deep tracks. He became frantic, and in spite of the terrible cold the sweat ran down his back. How the night passed he knew not, but the first gray streaks of morning found him still in the forest, and then, as the light grew brighter, he steadied himself against a tree to think, and as he thought he remembered that his snow shoes and his honey had gone. What more likely than that, little Nicholas had taken them and gone to seek the bear. To the lair of the bear then, with swift, unerring strides, the anxio*i ^ father sped over the crisp snow, in and out of the great trees, sliding at terrific pace down hills, mounting with rapid, nervous movement every ascent, until at last he came in, the vicinity of his bear, and then he paused for a moment, making sure of his ground and beating the snow down all around him. He slid forward again and came out in the clearing, to see at the lone tree in its middle, a sight which froze his blood. The bear was there, and asleep between his back paws was little Nicholasasleep or dead the father knew not. He could only look and gasp. At a little distance off Nicholas saw the can which had contained the honey. The bear, like the boy, seemed asleep, and what to do then the unhappy man knew not. Scenting, as It were, the proximity of some one or something, the bear gave a growl and sat up. Nicholas hid behind a tree. Nicholas the little fell from the warm belly of the bear and, blinking, sat in the snow. Then, with lightning-like rapidity, the father decided. He stripped his heavy shuba, and from his waist belt took the long strips of leather which the Siberian hunter always car ries. These he wrapped around his left arm again and again, until that member looked like a bloated sausage. He loosened his hunting knife and took his hatchet in his hand. Then with a scream he rushed into the open, straight at the bear. The bear at his appearance flopped down on all fours, and- little Nicholas was sent rolling in the snow. But Bruin reared again, his mouth- wide open,, and his fore paws beating the air.'. The next second Nicholas was between those crushing paws. The leather-bound arm of the hunter \ was thrust into the gaping jaw of the huge beast, and the free right hand had brought up the shining blade of the hatchet, which severed the tendons of the left fore paw. Over and over they rolled together little Nicholas .up to his armpits in the snow, gazing at this spectacle with wonder lit eyes. As they fell the hunters' hatchet was dropped, and he brought out his knife to dig it deep and deeper still jnto the fat neck of his adversary. It was all over in a moment. Bruin lay dead, the snow all around covered In great red patches. Nicholas shook himself, free, but fell deep in the snow, as he had lost his shoes. He wriggled along to his son, took him by the scruff of his neck and beat him unmercifully. 'How dare you!" he said. And then he turned away, struggling along to the bear, upon which he fell with his knife, and commenced skinning with great activity, crying at the time: "Twenty roubles, my Nicholas! Twenty roubles, my little son!" The Indian Boy's Tears. . General A. S. Burt in Kansas City Star. As soon as the Indian baby is born it is placed in a coffin shaped receptacle, where it passes nearly the whole of the first year of its existence, being taken out only once or twice a - day. The" clothing is of the most primitive character, the baby " being simply swaddled in a dressed deer skin or pieee of thick cotton cloth, which envelops-the whole body below the neck. The outside of the cradle varies with the wealth or taste of the mother, scarcely two being exactly alike. Some are elaborately ornamented with furs, feathers and bead work, others are perfectly plain. Whatever the outside, the cases themselves are nearly the same. On long journeys, or when changing camp, the children too heavy to carry on the mother's back, but too young to ride hoiseback, are confined in a wicker cage, which is fas tened to the lodgepoles that trail alongside of some reliable, steady going old horse, an arrangement called a "traveis" by the French trappers. For a little while thereafter they may be mounted be fore or behind the mother, but by the time they are four years old they are considered quite large enough to ride for themselves. Tho the mother has all the trouble and worry of the children, the lather seems to have the strongest love for them, and this is especially the case with sons. His pride in and affection for them knows no bounds. After they get out of their cradles Indian ehitdren are never "put to bed" until they go to sleep of their own accord, but are aware of every thing that goes on in the lodge, or m all outdoor amusements and ceremonies. They are debarred only from council lodge. As "little pitchers have big eais" they are very piecocious, and an Indian boy or girl of 6 years knows more of the possi bilities ot the future than an American child of 15 or 16. After the Slim Butte fight in General Crook's 1876 cam- ' paign against Sitting Bull, I saw an instane-e of an Indian __' boy's fortitude and silent endurance at which I marveled t-, greatly. This boy and his father, American Horse, a Sioux chief, were prisoners. The old chief had been mortally wounded in the engogement. Our doctors could do nothing for him. He was seated on the ground, his back supported by a pile of buf falo robes. The boy, about 14 years old, stood by his father's side, arms folded, looking squarely at the soldiers who were gathered around the group. As I looked the lad over, I saw that one of his bare feet, the left, had been torn across the instep by a bullet. The doctors were busy with our wounded and had not dressed the boy's wound. I observed father and son looking intently in my direction. Looking be hind me I saw Ute John, one of our Indian scouts, a great enemy of the Sioux, talking in the Indian sign language to the prisoners. John was telling that "that the white soldiers were going to torture him and his son before midnight." I promptly shut the Ute up, and then told American Horse in sign language (I could not talk Sioux) that Ute was a liar. The white soldiers wouldn't harm them and I would see that his son's wound would be properly cared for by our "medicine man." Never will I forget the grateful look father and son gave me. Tears came to the boy's eyes. I am sure if he had been alone he would have had a good cry. Mr. Howell's Judgment on Poetry. William Dean Howells has lifted so many young men from total obscurity into fame that his time is often tres passed on by persons quite unworthy of his attentionper sons without talent, who nevertheless think that he should write them essays as appreciative as those, say, wherein he pointed out the genius of Stephen Crane. - At the Franklin Inn club of Philadelphia, a poet told the other day of a young man who once called on Mr. Howells without so much as a letter of introduction. This young man thought himself a sonneteer. He had two sonnets with him and he said he would read them both, and then he would ask Mr. Howells to tell him which of them was the better. Mr. Howells is always gracious and always particularly gracious to young men who love letters. Therefore he listened patiently to the first sonnet. It was execrable. The -- writer of such doggerel could not but be hopeless. "The second sonnet is the better of the two," Mr. Howells said firmly, and he refused to listen to it. Pleading an en gagement, he asked the" young man to excuse him. "The second sonnet is the better, I assure you," he repeatd. He Diagnosed the Picture. Robert Henri, the painter, recently told a story about the Philadelphia physician, Dr. W. W. Keen. An artist was escorting Dr. Keen thru an exhibition of pictures. Before the portrait of a man of middle age the physician stopped. ' "Do you know this man?" he asked. "I believe," the artist answered, 'fhat it is Mr. So and So." "Is he dead?" "Yes he has bee* dead for some months." "Well," said Dr. Keen, "I would wager that he died from heart disease." The artist, struck by a skill that could find material for diagnosis in a picture, Inquired into the death of the por trait's original, and found that the man had indeed died of * heart dsease the winter before. & -?rJ-~' -