They had to be continually on the alert, too, against the mountain tribes, who beset every defile, laid ambuscades in their path, or attacked them in their night encampments; so that, of the hardy bands of trappers that first entered into these regions, three-fifths are said to have fallen by the hands of savage foes.
Beside the regular operations of these formidable rivals, there have been from time to time desultory enterprises, or rather experiments, of minor associations, or of adventurous individuals beside roving bands of independent trappers, who either hunt for themselves, or engage for a single season, in the service of one or other of the main companies.
They had no sooner departed than the band
before the palace began to play again, announcing more arrivals, and as these were doubtless from foreign parts the High Chamberlain hurried back to receive them in his most official manner.
Now the band played a march and a company of rabbit soldiers came in.
They were eight pretty rabbits dressed only in gauzy purple skirts fastened around their waists with diamond bands. Their whiskers were colored a rich purple, but otherwise they were pure white.
Hunt would do him some ill office with the Sioux band, securing his own passage through their country by pretending that he, with whom they were accustomed to trade, was on his way to them with a plentiful supply of goods.
They reported that certain bands of the Sioux Tetons, who inhabited a region many leagues further up the Missouri, were near at hand, awaiting the approach of the party, with the avowed intention of opposing their progress.
"Comrades all, ye know that our band has sadly lacked a leader--one of birth, breeding, and skill.
And seeing the men stood in doubt at this, he continued: "But I'll gladly join your band, and you take me, as a common archer.
Then he chose the stoutest bow among them all, next to Robin's own, and a straight gray goose shaft, well-feathered and smooth, and stepping to the mark--while all the band, sitting or lying upon the greensward, watched to see him shoot--he drew the arrow to his cheek and loosed the shaft right deftly, sending it so straight down the path that it clove the mark in the very center.
Then Robin Hood and all his band laughed aloud until the stranger began to grow angry.
Then the bands
thundered in, with "Rally round the flag, boys, rally once again!" Next, she blew another call ("to the Standard") .