346 HOW TOM WAS BORN A FRENCHMAN
It had grown dark before the Captain reached the hut from which came the smoke. As he drew near he saw that the door stood open and that a bright fire burnt on the hearth within. Before the fire the dark shadow of a woman passed to and fro.
He paused on the threshold, asking leave to enter, and on receiving an answering grunt, he stepped in and drew up an old stool near the fire. Opposite him crouched a young Sioux Indian, holding his head between his hands and seeming deaf to any sound of the stranger's approach.
Pamphile looked at him, wondering were he friend or foe.
' Does my brother sleep ? ' he asked at last.
The Indian raised his head and pointed to one of his eyes which had evidently just been shot out by an arrow. The Captain asked no more questions, but turning to the old woman said : ' The traveller is tired and hungry ; can his mother give him food and shelter ?'
' There is a cake under those ashes and a bearskin in yonder corner,' replied she. ' My son can eat the one and sleep in the other.'
' Have you nothing else to eat ?' inquired Pamphile.
' Oh, yes; I've got other things,' said the crone, fixing a longing gaze on the Captain's watch-chain. 'I have— that's a fine chain of my son's—I have salted buffalo and some good venison. I wish I had such a chain.'
' Well, well, bring me some meat,' replied Pamphile, avoiding a refusal; ' and have you a bottle of corn brandy by you?'
The olcf woman raised a partition of matting and disappeared into the inner part of the hut. As she vanished the Indian raised his head.
' Does my brother know where he is ?' he asked the Captain.
' Ton my word, no,' was the careless answer.
' Has my brother any weapon with which he could defend himself ? '